Sunday, December 20, 2020

Christmas Serenity


Hello, Dear Friends! I hope that you are finding 

simple ways to bring light and joy into your hearts,

and the hearts of all you know and love

as we celebrate this Christmas season. 

Not an easy task during this difficult time, 

but so important to keep hope, faith and charity

alive and spread it around whenever and wherever we can. 

I love angels and this little one has been 
overseeing all of our Christmas celebrations 
since the first year of our marriage. 

She represents faith, enduring love, family, 
resilience and now, at this stage of our lives, wisdom. 

With wisdom comes serenity. 

My favorite Irish Proverb.....

God grant me the Serenity to accept
the things I cannot change,
the Courage to change the things I can,
and the Wisdom to know the difference. 

 Serenity can sometimes be elusive, but worth 
cultivating. One of the ways in which I find
serenity is to make my home as cozy as I can - filled 
with the sentimental things that I love. 

Comfortable pillows and beautiful books are two things that I love. 

I don't think you can have too many of either.

They do go hand in hand, I think. 

I especially love illustrated children's books. 
This one by Tasha Tudor was my own children's 
book, a much-loved gift from my Mother and Father
many years ago. 

The illustrations are magical. 

Illustrated cookbooks are another love of mine. 

Susan Branch is a favorite. 

A first edition Christmas cookbook - 1990. 

I love browsing through them whenever I am planning 
something special. 

My Hoover 'Kitchen Queen' cupboard has 
a few cheery updates for Christmas.

An elf on a shelf. My sister sewed this version, 
and I sewed the toad-stools. They're pin-cushions. 

Some pie-baking supplies and my favorite mixing bowl. 

My collection of cookie-cutters. 

My daughter presented me with the green plaid 
dish filled with delicious cookies 
on my birthday. 

Jars filled with baking sprinkles. 

Happy things. 
Cooking in a cheerful kitchen is one 
of the sweet joys of life. 

The Mr. came home with the silver 'percolator' coffee pot
the other day, just in case we lose our electricity 
during our stormy winters. 
We can make coffee on the woodstove with it. 

The 'gingerbread' houses are actually made with graham crackers!
I made them a few years ago and carefully wrap 
them in parchment and store them in a large tin from year to year. 

My 'scrapbook paper' frame. 
I change out the theme for every holiday. 

It's been very gray and gloomy the last few 
days and my photos are reflecting that lack of light. 

I crocheted the 'flower' dish cloths but can't bring 
myself to use them for clean-up so I use them
as  hot-pads :)

The butcher string and gingham dish-towels are in 
a 3-tier hanging basket that's hard to see in the gloom. 

A small child-themed tree by the glass door. 

Vintage pony lights, candy garlands and tiny apples. 

My collection of vintage Santa's. 
The ceramic one on the right was the last Christmas gift
my Mom gave to me. It opens at the waist to hold a little surprise. 

I made the Victorian 'Father Christmas' years ago from cotton batting. 
His face is a sticker and his 'fur' hood and bag is simply
batting colored with a brown marker! 

I didn't feel like baking this year, so I put together 
a cookie mix in a jar for my children and their families. 
I think they came out rather pretty, 
with green and red M&M candies on top. I put the 
baking instructions on a recipe card attached to the back. 

I also made up some peppermint bark candy. 
This is a favorite of my Hubby. 
I have to hide it until it is all bagged up, 
but I made an extra large bag just for his stocking. 

I also tried my hand at creating a charcuterie board.
Sliced summer sausage, pepperoni, pepper jack cheese, 
crackers, bread, tiny pumpkin pies (from the bakery dept.),
 peach-mango jam and stone ground mustard, olives and nuts. 

It makes a nice indoor picnic! 

And for dessert.....

Slow-Cooker Cherry Pie Crisp

8 servings
Ideal size slow-cooker; 3-4 quarts

Cook on low 3-4 hours


21 oz can Cherry Pie filling
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup cold butter

Grease slow-cooker. Pour cherry pie filling in and spread to edges. 
In separate bowl, mix brown sugar, flour, oats and vanilla. 
Cut in butter until crumbly. 
Sprinkle over cherries. 

Cook on low for 3 to 4 hours. 
Place paper toweling under lid to help absorb excess moisture. 


Now let's sit in front of the fire and warm the body and soul. 

I'll tell you a little story about a special log cabin from my childhood :)

My Father worked for a man named, Mr. Butler. 
He had a log cabin in the White Mountains of Jackson, New Hampshire.
This was many years ago before it became a famous ski resort. 

My Father was his foreman, a Machinist and tool and die maker by trade, 
and Mr. Butler thought so much of him
that he let us use his cabin any time we wanted.
The cabin was a four-hour drive away, but once we entered the little 
town of Jackson, our road-weary spirits lifted. 
I remember traveling through the red, covered bridge, stopping at the old general store, 
driving past the family-owned dairy farms tucked into the rolling hills,
 the ghostly birch trees lining the way, and the little stone house at the turn of the road. 

Up and up we would go, along the rushing creek tumbling beside 
the winding road - a hand-built bridge on every farm driveway along that side.

Finally, after our long drive, we would arrive, tired but excited, my sisters and I
eager to claim one of the four, quilt-covered feather beds tucked under the eaves
in the long, narrow loft bedroom. Two tiny, pained windows 
let in light on either side - the rays illuminating the dust
 we stirred by flopping on the beds. 
The scent of pine, wood-smoke, and fresh mountain air filled 
the room when we opened the windows, and we could hear 
the chickadees and jays, the only sounds in the peaceful quiet. 

My Father would light the gas furnace, and prime the old-fashioned water pump
over the old soap-stone sink, which drew its supply 
from the little brook that ran beside the cabin. 
While my Mom unpacked and tended to my little sisters,
my Dad and I would take the big, glass, 5 gallon 'car-boy' water jugs
back down the winding road to the general store where 
we would fill them at the town spring, for drinking and cooking. 
Then we would go into the store and buy the perishables that
 my Mother didn't pack -  milk, eggs, bacon, bread and butter, 
a newspaper for my Dad, and rock candy on a stick for my sisters and me.

The cabin had one, large, main room with a massive stone fireplace, 
 a small kitchen with pine paneled walls and red-checked curtains,  
and a tiny bathroom off to the side.  
A large 'Picture' window looked out over a mountain meadow
 filled with doe-eyed Jersey cows,
and apple trees that bordered the slope of Black mountain. 

A rock wall and barbed-wire fence separated these from the cabin. 
Chipmunks lived in the wall and the cows from the farm next door 
would come to the fence - curious to see if we would climb the trees
and throw them some apples. 

One day, my sister and I did just that, and attracted the whole herd
who surrounded our tree and wouldn't let us climb down. 
My Father had to rescue us and I remember thinking 
how strong and brave he was, pushing the cows away, 
and carrying us in each arm to safety. 

One time we visited in the beautiful, late autumn, and woke up to a surprise 
snow-fall that was so deep that I had to climb out
 the high kitchen window over the sink, and 
shovel the snow so we could open the door. I was just small enough
to fit through the window that my Father couldn't. 
He and I had to hike through the snow to the farm next-door
and ask the farmer to plow us out. He had a snow-plow
attached to his tractor and he plowed the mountain road 
down to the main road, so that we could leave. 
We were so sorry to have to cut 
our trip short, but we were afraid that more snow was on the way. 
My Dad tried to give him some money, but he wouldn't 
take any, so the next time we went to the cabin, my Dad helped 
him repair his barn, and that is how he returned the favor. 
Over the years my Dad and the farmer became good friends.
I have so many wonderful memories of our trips 
to Butler's Cabin. 

Our own home was also a log cabin by a large lake. 
We lived there through-out my early childhood.
Log cabins are very special to me.
Happy memories are such a nice way to find serenity 
in these tumultuous times.
Especially memories of loved ones that are no longer 
here with us, but live on in our hearts. 

Merry Christmas, Dear Ones. 
I wish you peace, serenity, comfort and joy 
as we celebrate this special day and look 
forward to a better year ahead. 


Sunday, November 15, 2020

November Gratitude and Grandma Edie's Apple Harvest Cake


Hello, Dear Friends, I hope that you are safe and well, and finding 

sweet and simple reasons to count your blessings. 


I know it is not easy and we are all struggling to make sense of 

life right now, but we must try to remain stoic. 

As our British friends, (and hopefully, still our best allies)

 across the pond love to say, 

"Keep Calm and Carry On",

"Pull Yourself Together",


"Stiff Upper Lip and all that". 

Can you see the tree aura in the photograph?

This world is a gift, full of magic and mystery 

and we must not squander our divine privilege to live here

with division and hate. 

I recently celebrated my birthday - it was a milestone birthday - 

but a lady never divulges her age 💜


My daughter brought over these lovely fall flowers. 


I have two, dear daughters and they spoiled me with a 

beautiful gift basket full of wonderful goodies, 

including this cake dome and plate. 

It's so perfect in my retro kitchen. 

A sweet tea-towel from my Sis that says it all. 


I have two wonderful sons and the younger came by with his wife 

and a gift card so I could get another beautiful pot and tree

for the front of the house. 

This is one from a few years ago.

It's especially pretty this time of year.


My eldest son gifted us with a leather chair 

for the new library. He and his wife 

are updating, so he asked if we wanted it. 

Heck, yes! 

I'll show you when we are done with the room. 

Here's the view from that room with another potted

Japanese Maple that was a gift from them

some years ago.

I managed to pot up my fall bulbs, too. 

Here I have miniature daffodils and crocus tucked 

safely under the eaves. 

The pots by the tree are upright Fuchsia,

which are hardy and come back every year. 

The Mr. got me a beautiful shawl and treated me to 

Chinese take-out and flowers. 

I was thoroughly spoiled. 

My Sis sent out this darling 'Captured Fairy' that she made. 

The details are so sweet. 

There's a little green frog with a crown, 

mushrooms, tiny flowers, book and picket fence.

And even a little jar full of glitter, 

labeled, 'dreams'. 

It has a battery tea-light that fits under 

the stand.

So enchanting...


I made this sign a few years ago. 

I painted the pre-cut wood panel cream. 

The letters were vinyl press-on letters. 

They were black and I didn't like how it looked, 

so I lightly brushed over the whole thing with watered-down

gray craft paint, rubbing some of it off, 

then spattering it a little bit to give it that old, weathered look.


I try...

The Mr. had this old clip-board and since he is now retired, 
asked if I wanted it. I thought it would be perfect for 
this vintage-style graphic that I found in a Country Living magazine. 
The colors match the sweet sign
from my Sis. 

  A great quote! 

Another gift from my Sis on the front door. 

They know I love our now classic, 2005 Ford Ranger 4x4. 
Ford stopped production of the Ranger in 2011, but recently 
started making them once again.
My Dad always had an old pick-up truck to perform 
hauling duties. He grew up on a farm, and 
the old farm truck was part of the family. 
When I was a teenager, he had bought an old hand-crank 
pick-up truck, which he named, Old Rusty. 
He had to turn the crank on the front
to get the engine started! It wouldn't go faster than 35 mph. 

For two summers, when I was 14 and 15, I babysat 
all day for my 2 little cousins. 
My Dad would drive me over early in the morning 
on his way to work in the old truck. We took the back roads through 
the beautiful New England apple orchards and blueberry farms,
the mist rising over the fields as the sun came up. 
We would see lots of wildlife, including, once, 
a whole family of gray fox cross the road in front of us. 

He would talk about his days growing up on his Grandfather's farm. 
Stories, like the time his Grandfather's huge Belgian work-horses with 
feet as large as dinner plates, would work the fields, and how one of them
at feeding time after a long day of plowing, 
stepped on my 8 year old father's foot in the stall, and wouldn't move. 
His Grandfather, a gentle soul, had to resort to punching 
his beloved horse in the nose to get him to move. 
Luckily, the stall floor was soft with straw, 
and my father suffered no lasting harm. 

My Great-Grandfather operated an 800 acre 'truck farm',
with apple, pear, peach, and nut orchards,
along with every kind of fruit and vegetable, to take 
to the market at Fanueuil Hall in Boston
at the weekend. He had the old Farm Truck, 
with wooden rails and a canvas hood, filled to the brim with 
crates of produce. Beside him always sat his beloved little white dog. 
In those days, (the 1930's) the circus would give away the surplus puppies
of performing dogs to the first contenders.
This breed was the fore-runner of 
my own two American Eskimo dogs.
Life, full circle. 

I miss my Father and his wonderful memories and strong, 
but gentle ways. 

Some little fall vignettes. 

The pear is vintage velvet. 

The 'pumpkin' is carved from
 a solid block of wood. 
A gift from my daughter last year.

I used to love making decoupage trays with pretty napkins as gifts. 

I saved these for myself and use them in the fall. 

Craft styles come and go.

So do cooking styles...

Here's an old-fashioned recipe from my Grandma Edie,

 (my Dad's Mom) that is soooo good. 

Grandma Edie's Apple Harvest Cake

Grease and flour a 13x9 inch pan. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 


2 cups flour

1-1/2 cups sugar

2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup applesauce

1/2 cup softened butter

2 tsp vanilla

4 cups peeled and diced apples (4 medium apples)

1 cup golden raisins

1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix wet ingredients in a separate bowl and add

to dry ingredients. Stir, just until mixed. Fold in apples, raisins and nuts. 

Pour into prepared pan and bake @ 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes 

or until wooden toothpick comes out clean. 

This recipe can easily be halved. It's rather sweet and the sugar could 

also be reduced, I think. 

Enjoy! I call this 'ugly cake', but it's beautifully delicious. 

It's a nice treat to have after spending time in the brisk, autumn air. 

I've been trying to get outside for a bit each day, weather permitting. 

Raking and sweeping leaves are keeping me busy. 

Here you can see the dogs on the front lawn. You can, also,

see the slope of the land. We are always walking uphill or down. 💚

The native Big-leaf Maple trees turn a beautiful gold. 

The reason why they are called, 'Big-leaf'! 

These are very large trees. You can see the ivy 

is out of control by the tool shed. I have some work 

to do here. 

Some scenes along the driveway. 

Black cottonwood at the top of the driveway. 

The boys. We have to wear our Pendleton

jackets during hunting season.

The Mr. now sports a beard since retirement. 

He is enjoying his life of 'leisure', although 

he says that he doesn't know how he ever found time to work. 


 Upturned mushrooms from squirrels. 

Cottonwood stand in the foothills. 

We have snow in the higher hills now. 

You can see the stand of cottonwoods from the previous photo. 

It won't be long before we see our first dusting of snow

down here, too. 

You can see we live on the edge of the wilderness. 

We've had a bald eagle sighting and a family of Ravens. 

Some scenes from the bi-ways...and some quotes on gratitude. 

"Courtesies of a small and trivial character are the ones

which strike deepest in the grateful and appreciating heart."

-Henry Clay, statesman-

"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget 

that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, 

but to live by them."

-John F. Kennedy-

"Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not;

remember that what you now have was once among the things

you only hoped for."


"Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing
that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously.
And because all things have contributed to your 
advancement, you should include all things in 
your gratitude."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson-

"Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues,

but the parent of all others."



Due to the overwhelming resurgence of Covid 19, our state (Washington) is now 

in another lock-down. Because of this, we, as a family, 

have decided to forgo our usual large holiday gatherings. 

I do hope that the people of this country realize 

that we are our brother's keepers and 

try to think of others by wearing masks, social distancing, 

and not gathering in crowds until we can work together 

to get this virus under control. 

We agree that we must wear seat-belts, not drive drunk, 

not smoke in public places, not drive through red lights, etc. etc. 

We should all agree that these measures should fit into this category. 

All of us deserve the 'constitutional right' of Life. 

Without that, there is no 'Liberty or the Pursuit of Happiness'. 

Just sayin'.....


I hope that all of you have a Thanksgiving filled with 

gratitude for all the blessings you can count. 

I hope there are too many. 


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