Monday, December 30, 2013

A Bit Nippy

8 AM finds the temperature here in Minnesota at -10 degrees, up from the -18 degrees reported by Youngest Son earlier this morning.

Fresh brewed cup of coffee - check.
A good mystery novel - check.
Snuggling down under my new green fuzzy blanket (Thanks David, Staci and kids!) - check.

I think a pot of chicken vegetable soup and cornbread is on the supper menu.

Works for me.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

My Version of Turkey Day

Yesterday I cooked the three turkeys that Number One Son had brought me a while back.  Before de-boning, they together weighed a little over 42 pounds, which translated into 22 pints of turkey.

My family refers to Number One Son as "Mom's Enabler," due to the fact that he is the one who brings me Farmer's Market produce and meat on sale from the grocery, all to can or dehydrate.  Well, he did it again.  He brought me a new pressure canner.  The one I have been using holds 8 pints.  The new one holds 16 pints.  Both are merrily cooking away as I write.

Many times I have worked far into the night canning 8 pints of meat at a time.  Meat in pint jars require an hour and 15 minutes of pressure time, plus 45 minutes of heating up time and another half hour to 45 minutes of cool down time.  It is such a treat to be able to can all 22 pints at once.  I still have my biggest stock pot full of turkey broth to can, but I should be able to finish all of it by supper time, as opposed to the wee hours of the morning as I have done in the past.

So thank you, my enabler son.  My life has suddenly become easier.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Gentle Snowfall

I glanced out my window a little while ago and saw huge snowflakes drifting down.  It is beautiful to watch, even in the city.  Driving in it - not so much.  Looking at the weather map, it doesn't look like it will amount to much.

Those flakes floating down reminded me of days building snowmen with my young children, of snow forts built by those same kids and of snowball fights.  And of days I lived among the tall pines where a walk through the woods during a snowfall such as this was like walking through a fairy land.  And of crisp, cold nights where the light of a full moon made the snow sparkle like diamonds.  And of the taste of hot cocoa made from real milk with marshmallows floating on top that was so good after an afternoon of playing in the snow.

It is amazing to me what memories can be triggered just by the falling of a few large flakes of snow.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Best Presents

Christmas presents are nice.  I like them as much as the next person.  But I received two presents this year that are the best of all.

The first was when each of my grandchildren were genuinely happy to see me and showed me with hugs.  Lots of them.  You know how sometimes a kid needs to be prompted to hug a relative?  None of that here.

The second was being surrounded by my children and grandchildren.  Sometimes, what with busy schedules, we as a family have a hard time accomplishing this feat.  So when we all can get together at the same place and at the same time, it is a special treat for me.

I enjoyed every second of it.  Thank you, my family, for such a lovely day.

Love, Mom / Grandma

Monday, December 23, 2013

After it Snows...

in my neck of the woods, there arrives on the scene a small army of Bobcats, large front end loaders and dump trucks.  The Bobcats scurry about pushing snow from curbs into the middle of the street.  The front end loaders scoop up the snow and deposit it into the dump trucks.  The dump trucks haul it away to a vacant lot to await the spring thaw.  In addition to the sounds of engines and buckets scraping on the street, there is the "beep-beep-beep" whenever a piece of equipment reverses direction.  All of this activity takes place in the wee hours of the morning.

In the world of Lily the Yorkie, that little 9 lb. bundle of Energizer Bunny on steroids,

each and every scrape and beep is a direct threat.  It is not a threat to the person who takes care of her and pets her and feeds her.  Nope.  She could care less if the big bad beeping machines drive up the stairs and through the door of our apartment to haul me away.  Not a problem.

Those big bad noisy machines are going to come in and empty her food dish.  The only solution to this horror is to bark like mad and scare them away.

At 3:45 AM.

So after I got out of bed to quiet her down, I sat back and watched her for a while.  Lily has a little doggie bed that she loves.  The bed has a couple of pieces of old blanket in it.  Lily likes to sleep with her nose buried in the blanket.  This morning she pawed at the blanket until a corner of her bed was clear.  Then she went to her food dish, grabbed a mouth full of kibble, and deposited it in her bed.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat.  When in her estimation she had enough, she covered the kibble with the blanket.  All the while, fussing at the noisy machines in the street beneath my windows.

Might as well put on a pot of coffee.  I'm wide awake now.  The noisy, beeping machines have moved on to the next street needing to be cleared.  And Lily is fast asleep atop her pile of kibble.

Lily is the most annoying, out of control, over the top, naughty dog I have ever had.  And I just love her to pieces.  She makes me laugh, even at 3:45 AM.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Christmas Story

Every Christmas Eve, my Dad read the Christmas Story from the Bible.  He and Mother wanted to be sure that we understood what Christmas was really all about.  So this is for you, Dad.  I love and miss both you and Mom.  Thank you for teaching me the true meaning of Christmas.

From Luke 2: 1-20

2:1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

2:2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

2:3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

2:4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

2:5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

2:6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

2:7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

2:8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

2:9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

2:10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

2:11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

2:12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

2:13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

2:14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

2:15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another,
Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

2:16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

2:17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

2:18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

2:19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

2:20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

From my cozy little Home Sweet Apartment to you:
May you all have a truly blessed Christmas.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Words to Live By

"People are often unreasonable and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway.

If you are honest, people may cheat you.  Be honest anyway.

If you find happiness, people may be jealous.  Be happy anyway.

The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow.  Do good.

Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough.  Give your best anyway.

For you see, in the end, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway."

--Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Friday, December 20, 2013

Canning Season Never Ends

So this past Sunday I am just sitting around, sort of being a slug, reading a murder mystery novel that I had downloaded from "Project Gutenberg."  (Those mysteries from the late 1800's sure can be fun!)  And my phone rings.  It is Number One Son.  He wants to know if I have any space in my freezer and I tell him that I do.  Not more than a couple of minutes later he walks through my door with a box that is about 18 inches square and maybe 6 inches high.  And three frozen turkeys.

The place where my forklift driver son works manufactures a large variety of egg and potato foods, mostly for institutions or restaurants, although some are sold in stores.  At Christmas time, the company hands out to the employees a variety of product.  He said that he still had lots of food that he had received, but he knew that I would like what was in the box.  Turns out the box was filled with frozen egg omelets with ham, onion and peppers.  Son isn't fond of onions or peppers and I am, so this worked out well.  I have tried a couple of them since, and they are good, especially with grated cheese on top.  And plain, they make a great egg sandwich.

Anyway, it seems that the store where he shops had the turkeys on sale for 58 cents a pound.  When I tried to pay him for the turkeys, he just laughed at me.  He says that after I get them canned, he will be taking a few jars home with him, and that if he buys the meat and I do the work of canning them, we both benefit.  Makes sense.

So as soon as I have enough empty pint jars again, I will be canning turkey.  I have lots of quart jars now, so I think I will make some turkey broth to can as well.  Broth is something I like to have in my pantry for soups or casseroles or chicken and biscuit dishes.

And I thought canning season was about over.  Not hardly!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

We're Having a Heat Wave.....

The temperature in my little Home Sweet Home this morning is right where it should be.  And as I have no desire to go outside and play in the snow, it looks like I can put away the long johns and wool socks.  Although I am going to keep them handy and keep an eye on the temp for a few days just to be sure.  It seems that the night before last when the furnace man put the outer covering back on the furnace, he accidentally knocked a wire loose, which shut down the heat to several apartments.  But it is fixed.  I am a happy apartment dweller again!

Note to Jess:  The problem was just what you said.  The door in the duct that regulated heat to my apartment was not working right.  I had passed that information on to my landlord, who, in turn, told the furnace guy and he either fixed or replaced it.  So thank you for your help!

It is really nice not to have to wear several layers of clothing inside.  And even better, I can feel my toes again.  Life is good.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Once Upon a Time...

there was a family who lived in the woods of northern Minnesota.  Their old farmhouse was drafty and starting to crumble.  This old house was heated with a potbellied wood stove in the kitchen area and a wood stove made from a barrel that sat in the basement.  It was the spring of the year, and the melting snow was seeping through cracks in the basement wall, leaving a couple of inches of water all over the floor.

While the mom in this family was wringing her hands and worrying about patching the basement walls when there was no money for said patching, her daughter reminded her that life wasn't all that bad.

While sitting at the table next to the potbellied stove, the mom heard a flap, flap, flapping sound coming down the stairs from the bedrooms above.  Slowly a pair of feet wearing swim fins appeared, followed by a bathing suit clad body.  Finally the head became visible, complete with swim cap, nose plugs and a snorkel.

This apparition then said, "Mom, could you go start a fire in the barrel stove?  I've invited my friends over for a pool party and I want the water in the basement to be warm."

After the mom picked herself up off the floor and  wiped the tears of laughter from her eyes, she realized that most things can be made better with a good sense of humor.

The mom seems to have forgotten that lately, and she is glad that this memory surfaced, for she needed to be reminded that the world will not end just because there is water in the basement.....or that the furnace doesn't work right.


So yesterday the furnace man comes into my apartment.  Yep, the same guy who was looking for heating ducts in the attic that doesn't exist.  As he deposits black mud from his boots all over my kitchen floor and on the carpet in the other two rooms, (Where does he find this mud?  The ground is covered with clean, white snow.) he proudly tells me that he has found the problem with the heating system and my living room should now be warm.

This morning it is 58 degrees in here.  That is a nice temperature if you are going for a walk along the river on a beautiful fall day.  It is not a nice temperature for an apartment in the winter.

I think I will go make another pot of hot coffee, turn on my oven, open the oven door and sit in front of it until my toes thaw out.

I may have to flay someone before the day is out.  And maybe borrow Number One Son's new hat!

Grumble, dirty swear words, grumble some more!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Hat

Number One Son hates winter.  Well, it isn't so much the winter part, for the snow on the ground and the frost on the evergreen branches are beautiful.  But he would be happy if he could have the beauty without the cold that goes with it.

He usually wears a baseball cap.  Or if it is really cold, a stocking cap.  But this year the cold must really be getting to him, because he went out and bought the winter hat to end all hats.  And it is a good thing that he has a well developed sense of humor, for he needs one to wear this hat!

I like it!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Then and Now

As I was reading some of the news articles this morning from both mainstream and alternative news sources, I got to thinking how different our lives are today from those of my paternal grandparents.  They homesteaded land in northern Minnesota in 1907.  They first put up a log cabin and later built a larger house, a barn and a few smaller outbuildings.  They raised nine children, all of whom grew into responsible adults.

They didn't worry about their food being full of chemicals - they raised most of it themselves.

They weren't concerned about meat being full of growth hormones and other chemicals, or about the animals being raised in the unhealthy environment of a factory farm.  They raised their own beef cattle, milk cows, hogs and chickens.  They butchered and processed their own meat animals and supplemented this with venison.

They weren't terribly concerned with grocery prices for they traded milk, butter and eggs for the staples they couldn't raise themselves.  They scoured the woods and fields for edibles like wild plums and blueberries to add to their diet.

None of the nine children were ever involved in a Knockout Game.  The very idea of hurting another person for no reason was abhorrent to them.

Not one of their children took medication to control their behavior.  Their behavior was controlled by their parents.  Sometimes with a trip to the woodshed, if the offense was serious enough, and most times with extra chores to keep them too busy for mischief.

Their education was not of the Common Core, government controlled variety, but of the basics that included reading, writing, math, and history.  Most of the nine children went through eighth grade in the little one room schoolhouse a quarter mile from their home.  The one their father helped to build.  Three of the girls went on to high school in the largest town about 20 miles away, where they earned teaching certificates.  All were able to use their education, along with common sense, to keep their families out of poverty.

They never signed up for government welfare programs when they became available.  It was considered a sign of laziness to expect someone else to take care of your family.  They would have been shamed to do so.

They didn't feel the need to provide entertainment for their offspring.  These kids made their own fun.  They went swimming in the lake near their farm.  They went fishing in the river.  In winter, they went sledding down the hill in the pasture or went ice skating on the frozen pond.  Most of their toys were homemade.  They made music and played games, both indoors on rainy days or outdoors on sunny ones.  Their mother had a hard time getting them to come inside for supper as opposed to kicking them outdoors to get a little exercise, as many do today.

They taught their children what was important.  Good manners.  Respect for others.  Love for and duty to family.  Right from wrong.  A belief in God and the teachings of the Bible.  A work ethic second to none.

These people weren't perfect.  Not by a long shot.  They messed up from time to time as we all do.  But they had a foundation for their lives that was solid and strong, so when things did not go well and they knew that they had strayed from what they had been taught, they got themselves back on track.  By their own bootstraps.

I understand that times have changed since my parents were young.  One can no longer trade for grocery staples.  Raw milk has been outlawed, for the most part, gardens are not allowed in some cities, and God forbid that a person should live, work or raise a family without being told how by politicians.  The government seems determined to control all parts of our lives that they don't already.  So I am aware of the sad fact that the way of life that I long for is gone.  Isn't it amazing that my grandparents were able to raise their family and live a life, not of wealth and privilege, but one that was good and had meaning, using the Bible as a how-to guide along with the lessons learned from their parents, and not by government regulations.

Sometimes I am convinced that we could use a bit more of the woodshed and a whole lot less of the feel-good politically correct.  And a bit of old-fashioned common sense thrown in for good measure wouldn't hurt, either.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Lid Test Results

I just finished checking the jars of meat that I canned yesterday to make sure they had properly sealed.  I used equal numbers of the regular lids and Tattler lids.  The results are:

Regular lids = 2 failures
Tattler lids = zero failures

Meat is the easiest product to can as far as prep work goes.  Just cut into pieces, fill the jars, add lids and rings and process.  Meat is also the one product that gives me the most problems with seal failure.  I think that may be because during the canning process, the jars will vent out any air that is in them, and along with the air comes a bit of grease from the fat within the meat.  Some of the grease gets trapped between the lid and the rim of the jar, causing the lid to fail to seal.

I will check the jars in a week or so to make sure they stayed sealed.  For now, I will be buying three or four boxes of the Tattler lids each time I go to the store, until I can save enough money to order a case or two.  Eventually, I would like to have enough of these lids for most of my jars.  And, boy howdy, that's a lot of jars!  When I ran out of shelf space last summer, my youngest son picked up two heavy duty shelving units for me.  Each is 6 ft. high, 4 ft. long and 2 ft. deep.  And now those puppies are both nearly full.

I know that this sounds like an awful lot of canned food for just one person.  But home canned food will stay good in the jars for a very long time - years.  And I use it almost daily, rotating it out.  I figure that whatever I buy this year to can up is going to cost more next year.  And then there are the times when my kids will go shopping in Mom's canned goods section!  They know that they need to bring the empty jars back to be refilled.  And they are pretty good about doing that.

The Tattler lids lived up to my expectations.  I love it when a plan comes together!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Tattler Lids

Woo Hoo!  I discovered yesterday that my local Cub Foods grocery, the only grocery I can get to by bus other than WalMart, now carries Tattler canning lids.  I bought one each of the large and small sizes.  I have four pressure canner loads of meat to process today, so I am giving them a test run.

I have heard about these reusable canning lids for quite some time, and most reports have been good.  The only place to buy them, at least in my area, was online.  I don't do plastic - cash only, so ordering online was not an option for me.  My daughter tells me that many Cub Foods stores will order case lots for a customer if it is requested.  So that may be an option.  If the experiment works.

Tattler lids are not cheap.  But neither are the metal lids that I have used for years.  I did the math, and found that just using the Tattler lids twice would pay for the metal lids to process the same number of jars.  And the Tattler lids can be used many more times than that.

Does it say "pathetic life" when I get excited about canning lids?  Probably!

Friday, December 13, 2013


is not one of my virtues, although I think I have gotten better with it over the years.  When I was young, my Dad gave me a little sign that said, "God, grant me patience NOW!"

My patience is being sorely tested at present.  My smoke alarm is still disconnected.  There is a second alarm in my bedroom and another right outside my apartment door, so I am not totally without that protection.  The water issue was resolved the following day, but the furnace issue has not.  My apartment is the only one in the building that is cold.  The furnace man has been in and out several times, checking the thermostat and registers, but so far he hasn't found the cause of the problem.

I can't complain too much, however.  It is not like the electric was out and there was no heat at all.  The temp hovers around the 61 degree mark, so I am not exactly freezing to death.  I have warm clothes and heavy socks and I will survive just fine.  I have enough empty canning jars now so that tomorrow I will can up some pork and beef that I froze for that purpose, along with the two venison roasts my son brought to me.  That should keep things fairly warm most of the day.  Sunday I will need to bake bread again, and although it takes longer to rise, the oven heat will help.

Unfortunately for my Yorkies, I took them to the groomer about a month or so ago for their semi-annual haircuts, so they don't have the long fur they had before to keep them warm.  They have been spending lots of time snuggled down in their blankets.  I may have to break out their little turtleneck sweaters if it gets any colder in here.  (Yes, I am one of those people who buys doggie sweaters.  I hate to admit it, but there it is.)

Sometimes a person just needs to moan and groan a bit.  Doesn't do any good whatsoever, but it makes you feel a bit better.  I know that all of this will be fixed as soon as possible.  And being impatient about it will only make it worse.

There are folks who are going through some horrible times (Mystic Mud) that make my problems look pretty tiny by comparison.  I'm pretty sure that if you are of a mind to remember this family in your prayers, it would be a good thing.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Chippy is a Busy Boy

My grandkids are expected to do chores.  I applaud my kids for teaching them responsibility.

So it stands to reason that Chippy would do his share.  His job this morning was cleaning the bathroom mirror.

And when he has finished his chores, a rousing game of Candy Land is in order.

Followed by kicking back and watching a movie.

Heh, heh, heh.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

No Water

I don't have room to store water barrels in my apartment, so I fill empty soda bottles and stash them wherever I can.....on a closet shelf, behind my couch, in a corner behind my TV stand and behind my bedroom door.

One of my children was asking me about the bottles of water.  I explained that any number of things could knock out my electricity - summer storms or winter blizzards, for example - and that this could affect my water supply.  She mentioned that the town where she lives was once without electricity for several days, but they had water.  The problem is that I don't know if the same would hold true in my town.  Their water delivery systems may not be the same.  I am responsible not only for myself, but also for the three furry buddies who live with me and we all need water.

So this morning I went to make my coffee, turned on the tap at the kitchen sink only to find nothing but air coming from it.  Same with the bathroom sink and tub.  Nothing.  Grabbed one of my water bottles and made my coffee.  Simple as that.

I have no idea what is causing this water problem.  It may be that someone is working on the hot water heater in the basement.  It could be something to do with the city water system.  It is -6 degrees outside today, but I doubt that pipes have frozen.  That has never happened in the 17 years I have lived here and during that time there have been much colder days.  So for now, I will just wait and see what happens.  If I don't have water in my apartment tomorrow, I will call the landlord and he will deal with it.

The point of all of this is that even without water flowing from the taps, I am merely inconvenienced a little bit.  I have enough water to last at least a couple of weeks and longer, if I am careful.  I planned to do a couple of loads of laundry today, but it isn't going to matter that I don't.  I have a plan in place to take care of everything that needs taking care of with the exception of a shower, and although I like my hot showers, I can manage just fine without.

When we think about being prepared, we often think only about the food aspect of preparedness and sometimes forget how important water is.  And if I didn't have water with which to make my coffee, well, life just wouldn't be worth living!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Chippy the Elf

My youngest son's family has the Elf on the Shelf.  My Kindergarten aged grandson, Jacob, named the elf "Chippy."  Every day my son posts a photo of Chippy on Facebook , showing where he is each morning when he returns from Santa Land.

Chippy is a pretty inventive little guy.  He was in the silverware drawer, in the butter keeper inside the refrigerator and this morning he was on the couch, wearing headphones and listening to Christmas music.

But the best one so far was this one.

When Jacob asked his Dad how Chippy got the lid back on, David replied, "Magic."

When I talked with my son a couple of days ago, I told him that it was probably pretty pathetic that his mother, the grandmother of his children, had to check Facebook each morning, first thing, to find out where Chippy was that day.  I also warned him that if he should get word that his mother was locked away in a rubber room, clad in a huggy jacket, it would probably be because her neighbors had heard her, laughing out loud, all by herself and figured she had finally gone off the deep end.  And it would be all his fault!  And Chippy's.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

New Is Not Always Better

Every year my granddaughters sell various items to raise money for their dance classes.  I always buy a couple of the fruit and cream cheese filled bread braids.  They come frozen and I took one from my freezer early this afternoon and put it on a baking sheet to thaw and raise.  My apartment was cool today, so it wasn't ready for the oven until after 10:30 this evening.

Earlier this morning an installer came around to put in new smoke alarms throughout the building.  The old alarm in my kitchen had never given me any trouble and worked just fine.  But when I opened my oven door a little before 11:00 to check on the bread braid, the new alarm started wailing and yelling "Fire!  Fire!"  I shut the oven door and opened the window next to my stove, although there wasn't a whiff of smoke anywhere.  I did everything I could think of to shut that alarm up.  There are working folks living in my building who go to bed a lot earlier than I do.  I had visions of irate, sleepy people lined up outside my door. Do you suppose that I could shut the darn thing off?  Not a chance.

I finally set up my little mini step ladder, climbed up and tore it from the ceiling.  It must have a battery backup, for it continued to scream "Fire!  Fire!" long after I stuffed it under the pillows on my bed.

I poured a cup of coffee and sat down to wait for the bread braid to finish baking.  And I started to giggle, thinking about how silly I must have looked, rushing about and trying to get the alarm to be quiet.  Sort of like an old Laurel and Hardy movie.

I have a good landlord, and when I see him this weekend and tell him about my smoke alarm adventure, he will more than likely smile. He also knows that I use my oven often, for I bake my own bread every week as well as other baked goods and I use it for many of my meals, so I know that he will find a solution.

I have often joked that dinner is done when the smoke alarm goes off, but I didn't think it would be a reality.  Sometimes the old thing that works should just be left alone.

Friday, December 6, 2013


Temperature this morning sits at -5 degrees.  Geez, I love Minnesota!

My landlord is not going to be happy when I tell him that the new furnace for the building is not keeping up.  I should not have to wear long johns in the house.

We Minnesotans feel that it is our God-given right to complain about the weather.  I mutter under my breath as I dig in my closet for a flannel shirt.  I will mutter just as much in the summer when the heat and humidity both approach 95.  We have two days the end of May and another two days in September when the weather is perfect.  Other than that....not so much.

I sure must love my kids and grandkids, for they are the only reason I am here.

All things considered, that's a pretty good reason.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Pot of chicken soup simmering on the back burner all afternoon.
Cubes of cheddar.
Venison summer sausage made from the deer that youngest son shot.
Thick slices of warm homemade bread slathered with butter.

Fit for a queen.

No pictures.  Ate it all.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Warning! Grandkid Photo Ahead!

Yep, these are my Grandkids.  All six of them.   It isn't often that we can get them all together in one place, so I was really happy to get this photo from Thanksgiving.

Grandmas get to brag.  It says so in the bylaws.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Christmas Spirit or Lack Thereof

The Christmas Spirit is sort of passing me by at the moment.  It may be that because shopping for useless stuff that nobody cares about isn't high on my list of priorities.  Or perhaps that shopping for me involves several hours spent on a bus.  I think mostly it is because of my disgust for the commercialism that has become Christmas.

Christmas when I was a kid was a wondrous time of year.  There was the tree that always filled the house with the scent of pine, except for that unfortunate year when Dad bought one of those silvery aluminum trees popular in the late 50's - the ones that looked like several rolls of aluminum foil had exploded!  There was the smell of cookies and breads and pies baking.  There was the careful placing of the nativity set that reminded us of why there was a holiday in the first place.

There was the planning for Christmas Day when relatives would gather at our big old farmhouse.  Mother, ever the perfectionist, planned down to the last detail.  The good china was washed and dried and silver was polished.  The good lace tablecloth was covering the dining room table, with a red cloth underneath to show through and look festive.  Pine branches decorated every available space, adorned with ornaments and ribbon.

There were hours spent in secret, making gifts for parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins.  Sometimes we would buy Grandma a bottle of her favorite perfume, but more often the gifts were made with our own two hands.  One year it was hand knitted slippers for everyone, and another it was some crafty thing that Mom had us make.  Later in my life when cash was scarce , I would fill boxes with the home canned goodies I had made and give those.

Oh, there were purchased gifts as well, but it seems as though those times of going to town to shop for Christmas were enjoyable as opposed to the frantic, hectic shopping of today.  I guess we weren't trying to out-spend our neighbors.  Big ticket items were not on the list.  I remember saving my money for a box of monogrammed handkerchiefs for Dad to use in the pocket of his Sunday suit.  Or finding the perfect fancy teacup and saucer to add to those Mom collected.

Those shopping trips to town always included a drive around after dark to look at all of the beautiful Christmas lights decorating people's homes.  Or walking up and down the streets admiring the Christmas scenes set up in store windows.  There were the usual Santa and elves displays, but there were also scenes of the baby Jesus in the manger, with Mary, Joseph, shepherds and angels.  Of course, this was long before anyone took offense to this depiction of Christmas.

I guess I really am getting old, for I find that the memories of Christmas Past have much more appeal to me than Christmas Present.  And I can complain about it until the cows come home and nothing will change.  Unless I change it.

I have been under the weather for the past three weeks, so little has been done here in the way of actual physical work.  But I did spend time searching the Internet for ideas and patterns for homemade gifts.  I didn't do a very good job of planning ahead for this Christmas, and there isn't time to put to use those ideas.  But there is a long, cold winter in my near future here in Minnesota, and I can't think of a better way to spend it than in making things for those I love.

Maybe my Christmas Spirit isn't dead after all.  Maybe it has just been postponed for a bit.