Thursday, December 31, 2009

Sleeping Dogs

The weather has been so cold that we have the wood stove going every day. Not only is it the family's favorite spot to sit and read, the animals love to snuggle into the pillows and enjoy the warmth, too.

 Tipsy, just barely opening one eye so she can see what we are all giggling about. It is so comforting to see all the animals so comfortable in front of the fire. It just seems to say, "All is right with the world!"

 Here is Cookie, Queen of the Chair! She never wants to share the chair, she is either there by herself, or off she goes! She is actually a very sweet cat, but she really doesn't like to share 'her' chair!

 Sam-dog sleeping on a few pillows by the fire. He's just checking to see what the flashing is all about, but right after I took his picture he sighed and went back to sleep.

 Well, not all the animals like spending time in front of the fire. This is Stinky (yes, that is really her name!) and she is sitting on her favorite house in the Christmas Village. We find her here quite often, especially when the village is lit. I think the light makes the village house a warm spot for her to sit.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Silly Turkeys!

A few photos of our silly turkeys. They decided to come into the back yard today so I fed them some old corn bread that I was going to take out to the chickens anyway.

They decided to play on the patio, on the roof, and on the gazebo. It was fun to watch them and see where they would go next.

Yummy treats!

Wow! Look how far we can see from up here!

Time to sit for a while out of the snow.

For the last week or so the turkey with the pretty feathers has been pretty friendly. We don't know what's wrong with her, but she doesn't mind when we pick her up or corner her. Maybe she figured out the number one rule on the farm: Be nice or be tasty, and decided that she would like to be nice. They are still on the farm because they really weren't big enough for dinner yet. They are so fun to watch! Some days they are on top of the barn, too!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

City Lights

We went into the city that is about 40 minutes away to see the lights. The church there has a beautiful display at Christmastime and I love to go see them when I have the time.

One of the trees on the square is lit with 1,500 strands of red lights with 50 lights per strand — that's 75,000 lights on one tree! I also noticed this year that some of the trees had the newer LED lights. I imagine that they will replace the regular lights with LEDs over the next few year. There are probably one million lights throughout the display. A beautiful and serene place to walk at night surrounded by beautiful music and wonderful reminders of the life of Christ.

Here is one of the full-sized Nativities they have displayed.


The lights were beautiful! You can see in the photos that it was snowing lightly. It was a bit chilly, about 23 degrees, but that is much warmer than the 7 degrees we 'enjoyed' last night!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Who Started Christmas?

I found this story on the internet while following a trail of Christmas stories. It caught me up short, and said so much in such a short story.

Who Started Christmas?
Author Unknown
This morning I heard a story on the radio of a woman who was out Christmas shopping with her two children. After many hours of looking at row after row of toys and everything else imaginable, and after hours of hearing both her children asking for everything they saw on those many shelves, she finally made it to the elevator with her kids.

She was feeling what so many of us feel during the holiday season time of the year - Overwhelming pressure to go to every party, every house-warming, taste all the holiday food and treats, getting that perfect gift for every single person on our shopping list, making sure we don't forget anyone on our card list, and the pressure of making sure we respond to everyone who sent us a card.

Finally the elevator doors opened and there was already a crowd in the car. She pushed her way into the car, dragged her two kids in with her, and all the bags of stuff. When the doors closed she couldn't take it anymore and stated, "Whoever started this whole Christmas thing should be found, strung up, and shot."

From the back of the car everyone heard a quiet, calm voice respond, "Don't worry, we already crucified him." For the rest of the trip down the elevator it was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop.

Don't forget this year to keep the One who started this whole Christmas thing in your every thought, deed, purchase, and word. If we all did it, just think of how different this world would be.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Photos Around the House

Here are a few photos of Christmas around our house this year. It is the same almost every year, set up just this way. This year we have a live tree and it is huge! Usually we have the artificial tree because some trees make my allergies act up. No problems this year!

The Nativity. My favorite part.

 Our Christmas Village. Almost too many pieces for the table this year. While the village is up we eat buffet style (Hubby's favorite anyway).

The stockings that were completed last year. From left to right: Hubby, mine, Blondie and her husband, Spunky and her husband, Son1, FosterSon and his wife, Prion, Vet2Be.

On the chest in the front room. I love this little 'forest in a basket' that I put together last year. One of these days I want to find a miniature log cabin Christmas ornament to put in among the pines.

The Wreath on the front door. I made this many years ago and I still love it. I need to replace the grapes, though because they are starting to peel from being in the weather.

The Nutcrackers. One of our sons is in Mexico for two years. This is his collection and we have put it up each Christmas that he has been gone.

The Tree! Yes, it is tall! Our neighbor brought it for us and he had to chop 2 feet off the top to get it to stand up. It touches the ceiling and Hubby hasn't had time to lash the star to the top. It has been great fun to have such a huge tree!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Brother Like That

Here is Hubby's favorite Christmas story. He is a brother like that, so are his two sons.


A Brother Like That
Author Unknown
Paul received an automobile from his brother as a Christmas present. On Christmas Eve when Paul came out of his office, a street urchin was walking around the shiny new car, admiring it.

"Is this your car, Mister?" he asked.

Paul nodded. "My brother gave it to me for Christmas." The boy was astounded.

"You mean your brother gave it to you and it didn't cost you nothing? Boy,
I wish..." He hesitated. Of course Paul knew what he was going to wish for. He was going to wish he had a brother like that. But what the lad said jarred Paul all the way down to his heels.

"I wish," the boy went on, "that I could be a brother like that." Paul looked at the boy in astonishment, then impulsively he added, "Would you like to take a ride in my automobile?"

"Oh yes, I'd love that." After a short ride, the boy turned and with his eyes aglow, said, "Mister, would you mind driving in front of my house?" Paul smiled a little. He thought he knew what the lad wanted. He wanted to show his neighbors that he could ride home in a big automobile. But Paul was wrong again.

"Will you stop where those two steps are?" the boy asked. He ran up the steps. Then in a little while Paul heard him coming back, but he was not coming fast. He was carrying his little crippled brother. He sat him down on the bottom step, then sort of squeezed up against him and pointed to the car. "There she is, Buddy, just like I told you upstairs. His brother gave it to him for Christmas and it didn't cost him a cent. And some day I'm gonna give you one just like it...then you can see for yourself all the pretty things in the Christmas windows that I've been trying to tell you about."

Paul got out and lifted the lad to the front seat of his car. The shining-eyed older brother climbed in beside him and the three of them began a memorable holiday ride.

That Christmas Eve, Paul learned what Jesus meant when he said: "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

Our family has been blessed this year. We have enough of everything. We have tried so hard to think of gifts for each other, but no one really wants anything! We have everything we need.

There are a few little gifts under the tree. But nothing much. We are looking forward to speaking with our son whom we haven't seen for two year (he has been in Mexico). We will see him in January when he comes home. Perhaps on the 26th we will drive into the city to see the lights and spend some time together.

Spunky will be working on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. She and Carpenter don't have children and she wants the other nurses to have the chance to be with their families on Christmas. She does this every year. She always takes Thanksgiving off because she likes spending time with her family--but she says that Christmas is a magical day when you have children and she wants her co-workers to have the chance to be there.

It will be a quiet Christmas. I am sure I will be spending the time reflecting on the Great Gift that was given to us by our Heavenly Father, His Only Begotten Son. How precious is that thought. How sublime and awe-inspiring is that one Gift, nothing else can compare.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Another Live Nativity

Vet2Be was asked to be a part of a live Nativity that was scheduled for last night. They asked him to play the part of a shepherd and bring his sheep. They provided the costume and the pen for the sheep. Good thing our sheep are so friendly because the 'pen' was a wire dog run that was set on the driveway.

We loaded up Blackie and Whitie (not very imaginative names!) and drove them to the next town, about 15 minutes away. They were a big hit! Blackie is so friendly and loves people to pet him. Whitie hates having his horns touched, so he was often on the other side of the pen. There were a few people that Whitie liked, though, and he stood there while they pet his cheeks.

The Nativity also included two camels, two Nubian goats, and two chickens. It was a small set up, not like the Nativity we visited in early December. But the people were very friendly and it was only from 6 pm until 8 pm. Vet2Be has been very sick this last week so it was hard for him to last the two hours, plus the hour before and the 30 minutes after as we transported the sheep and then did chores in the evening. He was in bed by 9 pm!

We were part of the "Town of Bethlehem", actually on the hill outside. In the picture you can see the luminaries lighting the way to "The Stable" where baby Jesus lay.

It was fun to be part of something like this and not just be visitors. The thought came to me that this Nativity is the reason why we have Blackie and why he is so friendly and loves people. He was the perfect sheep for last night. Just the kind of animal you would expect to be near the baby Jesus.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Knitting Machine Links

One of the blogs I follow (knitsings) sent out a post that contained more than 100 links for Machine Knitting Videos! Everything from specific techniques to beginning helps like setting up a machine and casting on.

I haven't even begun to look at all the videos!

One good thing about being sick is that I can catch up on some of my computer searches!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Inside Day!

Yesterday I tried to 'catch up' on things. I didn't really catch up on anything at all! I spend most of the day compiling Christmas stories for Hubby. He loves Christmas stories and a few years ago I compiled many into a book for him. I made many copies that year to give away to friends and family and made sure that there was one for him.

He, kind soul that he is, gave away his copy last year! Unfortunately, over the past few years we have gotten new computers and programs. That is wonderful, but it made the original file unreadable so I decided to compile the stories again. I'm sure there are many more stories in the booklet this time than there were last time.

However, last time there was at least one picture for each story. I was able to print it on a color laser printer and it turned out very nicely! This time, no color laser printer, and no pictures. I am sure that I could put pictures in, but Hubby doesn't really care if there are pictures or not, so I didn't worry about the pictures this time. There are 91 pages of stories, if I had included pictures I would probably have added another 10 or more pages!

The rest of the day I spent cleaning at Spunky and Carpenter's house. They are gone for the week and I have been checking on Charlie, the cat, and their two birds. Suri (the grand-puppy) has been staying with us. She is very good and gets along well with our two dogs.

Spunky has been so busy lately studying for her clinical exam and her boards that her house was a bit messy. When she and her husband left for some much needed R&R, I decided to spend a little time cleaning up for them. She and her husband are always good to help us out whenever we need it, I love to do little things like this for them when I can.

It is always nice to come home to a cleaner house and clean sheets! It's not spotless, but at least the dishes are washed, clean sheets are on the bed, the garbage is taken out, the stove top is clean, the kitchen is swept, and the carpets are vacuumed. I even left a vase with some carnations on their kitchen counter.

Merry Christmas Hubby! And Welcome Home Spunky and Carpenter!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Little Black Lamb—a Christmas Story

 One of Hubby's favorite Christmas stories. I was typing it up because his copy is so old, and I thought I would post it here as well.

 The Little Black Lamb
Old Ishma never knew where the little black lamb came from. At first he suspected on of the other shepherds of playing a trick on him, but he was immediately sorry for his unkind thoughts; for Ishma was an honorable man and tried his best to always think kindly of everyone.

“But the little black lamb had to come from somewhere,” he reasoned, “and I would have known the answer, had I not been so careless as to fall asleep in the middle of the day.”

For the many years he had been a shepherd, it had always been Ishma’s custom to sit down and eat his lunch when the sun was high overhead, and then rest for a while. But never had he so much as dozed for a moment, until one day he did fall asleep. It was for only a minute or two—he could tell that by his shadow—but when he opened his eyes the little black lamb stood before him. When he saw it, Ishma cried out and beat his breast, for it was well known in the Judean hills that a black lamb is the omen of bad luck. Many a whispering plainsman had told of how, when such an outcast was born in the field, the heartless shepherd hid it under his cloak and took it to the hills to die.

When Ishma heard these things he always shook his head sadly, and promised himself, “If the dear God ever sees fit to send one of my ewes a black lamb, I shall care for it as tenderly as the rest of my flock”

In the first place, it was always going astray, and then Ishma would have to leave his flock and roam the valleys and hills until he found it. And he could not count the times it made a false step and fell into a crevice so that he would have to pull it out with his crook, only to find it bruised and bleeding. To be sure, he would anoint its wounds with oil, but not always without complaining. The little black lamb would bleat so pitifully, Ishma would be filled with remorse, and remembering his promise, he would gather the lamb in his arms and comfort it. Then the little black lamb would lay its head on Ishma’s shoulder and go to sleep like a tired child.

And, as if going astray and making false steps were not enough, it hadn’t the slightest sense about grazing. Even the youngest lamb in Ishma’s flock knew that sheep graze in one direction, and follow a leader. But not the little black lamb! Whenever Ishma looked back, all he could see was a black tail, and time after time he would run back to pick up the lamb and turn it around.
“Follow the leader, you stupid one!” he would shout. The little balck lamb would hang its head in shame. And because he was ashamed too for breaking his promis again, Ishma would reach down and stroke the lamb gently.

“Never mind, little one,” he would say. “Some day I think you will learn to go the right way. The trouble is all with me, I have not patience. Together we shall learn—you and I, patience.”
For the idea was slowly forming in Ishma’s mind that the little black lamb was sent to him for a reason, and in the fullness of time he would understand.

As the days went by, Ishma knew that as he grew in patience, the little black lamb grew in obedience.
Then came the day Ishma was never to forget. The little black lamb did not go astray once, but whenever Ishma looked back, he could see a black head nibbling contentedly in the green pastures. Sometimes the lamb would look up at Ishma as if to say, “You see, I am learning to go the right way.”

And so when nightfall came, Ishma led his flock to a little hill and they lay down to rest. But he took the little black lamb in his arms and held it against his breast. “Forgive me, my little friend,” he whispered, “for all the times I have been impatient and scolded you, and called you stupid. Today you were so well behaved, I thought you must be sick. But your eyes are bright, and your little nose is as cool as the still waters where you refresh yourself each day. So I know you are not sick, but that at last you are learning to go the right way.”

The little lamb sighed happily and snuggled closer to Ishma’s heart.

“There is somthing else I must tell you, little one, Of the hundred in my fold, I love you best of all.”
But the little black lamb was not listening. It had fallen fast asleep. Ishma smiled to himself. “I suppose,” he thought, “being so well behaved is enough to tire one as small as you. I, too, am tired and must sleep. But how I wish I could stay awake and watch this night. For never have the stars seemed as bright, and never have the heavens declared the glory of God with such splendor.”

How long he slept he did not know. It was the little black lamb pawing him gently that wakened Ishma. He sat up and rubbed his eyes, for there was a strange light. Below on the plains he could see shepherds in the distance hurrying toward Bethlehem. Hiding the lamb under his cloak, Ishma jumped to his feet and hurried after them, marveling at the lightness of his step and the speed with which he ran.

“I am like a boy again,” he thought, “running across the plains for sheer joy.”

As he came nearer the group, a shepherd boy ran up and stopped him.

“Oh, Ishma,” he cried excitedly. “we were watching our flocks when a strange light appeared and frightened us, but an angel came and told us not to be afraid. He said that a Savior was born in the City of David, and that we should find Him, a Baby, in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” The boy stopped to catch his breath.

“You will scarcely believe what I have to say, Ishma, but it is true! We found a young mother and her newborn Son in the stable of the Inn. Such a beautiful child you have never seen! And to think of the shame of nothing but a manger with straw for a bed. And what is even worse, we came in such haste not one of us thought to bring a gift. Do you have something, Ishma, if nothing more than a bright stone in your pocket to give the baby?”

Ishma shook his head sadly. “I have nothing.” he told the boy. “I did not hear the angel because I fell asleep.”

Under Ishma’s cloak the little black lamb moved, and in that moment Ishma understood. He turned to the boy, his eyes filled with happiness.

“Yes, yes,” he said joyfully, “I just remembered. I do have a present after all. Come let us go and give it to the Baby.”

The shepherd boy hesistated for a moment, and then the words came swiftly.

“Ishma, could you, would you please say the gift is from all of us? Then we shall not be ashamed.”
“It shall be so,”Ishma told him gently, “because truly it is a gift from all of us.”

When they reached the stable, the shepherds made way for Ishma, looking at him with great respect, for he was loved and revered by all of them.

It was as the boy had said. Never had Ishma seen such a beautiful child.

“Have you noticed,” he asked the others, “how the starbeams make the little crown around His head?”

They nodded silently, overwhelmed by the beauty of the scene before them. Ishma turned to speak to the mother, and as she smiled, he wondered how, in eyes that were filled with joy, there could be sorrow, too.

“I am Ishma,” he told her, “the oldest of all the shepherds. In our land it is customary to bring a gift to a newborn child, and so I bring a token from all of us.”

The shepherds gathered closer to Ishma, eager to see what manner of gift he had for the Child. They smiled confidently nodding at each other as if to say, “We can depend on Ishma to have a worthy gift.”

“There was a time,” Ishma continued, “when we would have been ashamed of our offering. Each of us, at times, has hidden one of these under his cloak, even as I do now, so that no ne else would know his secret.”

The shepherds whispered anxiously to each other—there was only one thing they ever hid beneath their cloaks. Ishma raised his hand to quiet them, and then he went on.

“Tonight, we are no longer ashamed of our gift, but bring it here with reverence to the Christ Child.”
As Ishma paused, the little black lamb jumped nimbly from the folds of his cloak and knelt beside the manger.

“We know God sent this Child to us so that we might learn to lvoe each other, even as He Himself loves all the world, even a little black lamb.”

And as the shepherds knelt in adoration before the manger, the night air filled with the heavenly music of the angelic choir, and the star overhead gleamed even more brightly.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Dyed Stockings

The stockings were a hit! The kids loved dying them and I thought I would post the results here. I was very glad that I tied a bit of yarn to each stocking to be able to tell how each yarn dyed. The Superwash Bare from KnitPicks picked up the color the very best, as you can see in the photos.

Here is a file you can print that gives the instructions I used:

You should be able to click on the instructions and have them show up 'full size' so you can print them.

Here are the photos I took while we were dying the stockings.

All the stockings soaking in a bucket. I put them in to soak the night before so I wouldn't have to remember to do it in the morning.

The kids squished out the excess water, then put the stocking between layers of an old towel. They stepped on the towel to get the excess water out of the stocking.

Two of the girls wanted to help mix the Kool Aid into the water. We used 4 packages of Kool Aid in one condiment bottle. I forgot to remind them to wash their hands when they were done. We found out when we saw colored finger prints on the undyed stockings as they were choosing which one they were going to dye. Moral: Wash your hands well after you mix the dye!

Un-dyed stocking ready to go! The table is covered with plastic garbage bags that have been cut along one side and across the bottom. Those were taped to the table to protect the table top. We used paper towels under the stockings to catch any excess dye.

Then we let the kids get creative! We instructed them to not squeeze the bottle hard or we would end up with dye everywhere. This little guy was wonderful! He was soooo careful!

CutiePie having a great time! She is so creative and 
loves working with textiles!

Here is one stocking almost done. Next we put the stocking on a paper plate and microwaved it on high for two minutes.

 Here is a closer look at the stocking after it was microwaved.

The last step is to rinse the stocking in cold water to make sure that all the excess dye is gone. With Kool Aid, it has usually all absorbed with the first microwaving. Once in a while we will have to 'nuke' it again. Then let it dry on the paper plate or a paper towel. Don't hang to dry or it will stretch out. If you are dying a hank of yarn, then it is best to hang it, but don't hang projects that are already knitted.

You can see that some of the stockings turned out more pastel and others turned out brighter. The same dye (Kool Aid) was used by everyone. The difference is the yarn. The ones that are bright colored are KnitPicks Superwash Merino wool, the pastel colored stockings are knit with Patton's Wool 
(Winter White before it was dyed).

Here are a few links that have sample yarns dyed with Kool Aid.
KnitPicks Community (short PDF tutorial)
Knitty (tutorial and color swatches)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Another Comfort Shawl...

Here is a photo of another Comfort shawl I made. It had been sitting on my sewing table for two or three weeks. I just couldn't seem to get it in a box and mailed to my sister's church.

It turns out that was for the best. I have a good friend whose mother has Pancreatic Cancer so the shawl went to my friend.

I included a poem, too, since this was from me to someone I know. I found the poem here. Scroll down until you find "Prayer For Comfort" by Cathleen O'Meara Murth, DW.

I translated it into words that are better suited to our religion, but the message is clearly the same, one of comfort, hope, and strength to walk down a dark path knowing that there is Someone who will help bear the burden.

She loved it. And it was more meaningful when she learned that I hand knit it, instead of machine knitting it. I was concerned about the color, but it was the only shaw I had finished. When I got to her home, she was very happy with the color since it matched the couches in their front room. Every day I learn how much our Heavenly Father has things planned out in advance, how he knows each one of us individually, and how much he loves and cares for each one of us. I see it in the little things, tender mercies every day.

I wish I had two done, one for her and one for her mother. I'm working on another, but I'm not sure if I will get it done before my friend's mother passes away. I hope I can get it done. I think that when she is gone it will bring comfort to her husband.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Sooo Cold!

This morning it was -2 F here at Welcome Home Farm! It was sooo cold! And Vet2Be is sick in bed which means that I had to do all the chores myself.

I piled on the layers to keep from freezing! T-shirt, turtleneck, two sweatshirts (one with a hood), and my winter coat. Thermals, flannel pajama pants, and overalls along with wool mittens complete the winter outfit! Oh yes, and I almost forgot to mention wool socks. This morning it was cold enough that my toes were numb when I came in from the barn. I guess I will have to put on two pairs of wool socks tomorrow.

Truth be told: from about here on out until it gets warm I wear thermals 24/7 because I tend to get cold whether or not it is below freezing outside.

The goats gave a bit less milk today. I'm guessing it is a combination of the cold weather and the light dwindling. We usually milk until the middle of January, giving the does 6-8 weeks off the milk stand before they kid. This year we will probably dry them off by the end of December, earlier if their production stays down. I don't want to spend more time than I have to out in the cold. And it seems silly to spend money on feed when we aren't getting the same amount back in milk.

The duck water was almost frozen solid! I couldn't even get the ice out of the bucket, so I had to leave another bucket out for them and hope the first one thaws in the sunshine today. The frozen one is black, so there is a chance that it will thaw enough to get the ice out by this afternoon.

And of course, the electric bucket that is in with the kids became unplugged during the night. Boy were they thirsty this morning! I tied the wires into a knot again. I hope it holds this time. I hate it when animals don't have liquid water when they need it.

The bunnies had frozen water, too. We don't have electric waterers for them, so we have to trade out water bottles morning and night for them. A few years ago we made some insulators with foam and duct tape. They worked well, but we need to make new ones this year as the old ones gave up in early spring.

Too bad most of the eggs were frozen this morning. Ducks tend to lay at night or in the early morning. Usually they bury them in the straw bedding. That often keeps them from freezing. For some reason a few of the ducks decided to lay their eggs right on the snow, so I ended up throwing away eggs this morning.

One more thing that kept me out a bit longer was the neighbors horse. He was out of his pen. I tried to reach my neighbor, but she must have been out for the morning. I was a bit nervous about putting him back because the foal is less than a year old, but he managed to run back in where he belonged when I got to him. I went home to get a clip to put on the gate since I could tell that he had worked the latch loose to get out. By the time I got back he already had the latch half-way open again! Silly foal! He is injured, too. His owner is praying that everything heals well or he will have to be put down before the new year. We are, too. He is a sweet horse and will make a good riding horse because of his temperament if his leg heals properly. If it doesn't, he won't be able to support his own weight let alone the weight of a rider.

The furnace has been on alot today. Usually Vet2Be starts the fire and does his schooling in front of it where it is warm. I guess I will be starting the fire today.

I hope it is warmer where you are! It seems as if all of America is in the midst of winter storms today. I see a white Christmas in our future, along with a nice fire in the wood stove, hot chocolate and spiced cider to sip on, and snuggling in a cozy blanket while reading a good book.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Ice Cream!

Yum! For Thanksgiving we made homemade ice cream! One of our Thanksgiving traditions is to make sure that everyone has their favorite dessert after Thanksgiving Dinner. Carpenter (RN's husband) asked if we were going to have home made ice cream. I said, "We are now!"

My friend wanted me to post how we did it on my blog so that she could look it up whenever she wanted to try it.

We did a few things differently, just because that's the way things worked out on Thanksgiving. We love homemade ice cream and make many batches throughout the year! This batch turned out creamy, smooth, and surprisingly fluffy. When I froze the left overs to see what happened, I was pleasantly surprised--it was still scoopable, as well as creamy and smooth, a week after Thanksgiving.

I used the recipe that is found in the Rival Ice Cream Maker recipe book (below). I made the mix the day before knowing that I wouldn't have time to mix it up on Thanksgiving Day.

When we got the ice cream started at our friend's home, Hubby just put the ice in the ice cream maker, not the salt. He was going to keep the mixture cold (on Thanksgiving there generally isn't enough refrigerator space!) and just get it started but since we didn't know when we would be eating dessert, he didn't want it ready in the middle of dinner.

I think it mixed in the ice cream maker for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. When we were almost ready to eat dessert, Hubby put the salt and some more ice in the maker. In about 30 minutes it was ready and it was the BEST ice cream we have ever made.

Rival Ice Cream (5 quart size) from the recipe and instruction manual that comes with the ice cream maker.
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups half and half
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla
  • 5 cups whipping cream

Scald milk until bubbles form around the edge. Remove from heat. Add sugar and salt. Stir until dissolved. Stir in half and half, vanilla and whipping cream. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes. Freeze as directed.

My directions:
Blend milk, sugar, and salt in the blender until the sugar is dissolved. Pour into gallon container, add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Cover and refrigerate 24 hours (or longer).

Put mixture into ice cream maker with ice and water only (no salt). Start ice cream maker and let it mix for 1 1/2 - 2 hours. About 30 minutes before you want to eat the ice cream, add more ice and salt. Continue to freeze until ice cream is ready, about 30 minutes.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Ready for Storage

Well, the onions are finally ready for storage. They have been drying on the patio table forever, well, it seems like forever! I think the patio table worked out very well for drying since the top isn't solid. I will be glad to get the table outside again! It has been nice to have all the onions right there in the kitchen while they were drying. Every time we need an onion I go over to the table and find one that is ready to use.

I didn't realize how good home grown onions taste compared to store-bought onions! We are finding out quite often how good something tastes when it comes from our own backyard, or the backyard of someone that we know and trust.

It seemed like there was a huge pile on the patio table, but this is how many onions will go into storage.

After I got all the dried stems cut off, this is what is left. Funny, I thought I pulled many more red onions up than yellow onions. In the end, there are more yellow than red!

I had to store the onions in buckets since I don't have any old stockings and I couldn't find any on FreeCycle, either. I'm sure that we will use them all up before there is a problem with rotting or growing since there really aren't that many.

I'm very grateful for what we do have, and I'm grateful we got anything from the garden at all this year since I wasn't here enough to take good care of it.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Camel

Tonight we went to a live Nativity in a town close by. It was wonderful. Visitors are shuttled over to two homes with barns that put this on each year. We walk up a path that is lit with Christmas lights and luminaries. Along the way we see Romans on horseback as well as shepherds and other people from Bethlehem.

One large barn was set up like the city of 'Bethlehem' with sheep, camels, and other animals. They also had different 'shops' where people were making bread, using clay to make pots, talking about wool, woodworking, all sorts of different things that might have been going on in Bethlehem when the Savior was born.

In the second barn was a stall set up with Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus. As we walked into the barn, there were 'angels' singing in the loft.

Last year was the first time we went and the camel LOVED Vet2Be! He came right over to him and snuffled him and sniffed him and wanted to be near him. I was hoping for a repeat this year, and I got it.

Here is the photo:

The camel didn't mind other people coming over and petting it (if they could reach it) or standing by the pen, but he didn't snuffle anyone like he did Vet2Be! The camel just walked right over to Vet2Be and stayed there until he went on to visit the other animals (a donkey, sheep, goats, geese and ducks, and horses).

The live Nativity was wonderful! We enjoyed it as much this year as we did last year. I look forward to seeing people portraying Mary, Joseph, and Jesus (yes, a real baby--not a dolly!) It is one of my favorite new traditions. So peaceful, and surreal. What a wonderful way to remember the circumstances in which our Savior was born.

Oregon Trail Quilt: Wagon Tracks

Another month has come and gone! I was able to finish another set of 4 quilt blocks. Sometimes I wonder if I will be able to get them done with so many other things that need to be done around here! I am glad to be busy. I know some people who say they are bored and I can't imagine being bored.

This block is called Wagon Tracks. Here is the pattern we received:

You should be able to click on the image above and then right-click and save as to your computer.

My finished blocks 'due' December 5th. 

As usual, Quilter's Cache has a wonderful set of instructions, too.

These blocks took a bit longer to put together. It took me a bit more than two hours to sew all 4 blocks. I love the way they look in this arrangement. I'm still not sure how I will put the final quilt together. But there is no hurry to decide, this class lasts until August 2010!

We also had a short history lesson about pioneer wagons, wagon trains, and what the pioneers would carry with them across the plains. The thing that I had never heard of was a constitution for a wagon train. It made sense to have a plan and a contract of sorts that everyone in the party could agree to.

Here are a few links that give the same information that our quilting instructor gave us:
The Wagon
Wagon Train Constitution
The Oregon Trail
The Emigrant Road
Links to Trails West

Friday, December 4, 2009

Stockings to Dye

Our homeschool kids are going to dye Christmas stockings today. I knit up 18 stockings from 100% wool for them. Quite a stack! I was really happy I was able to get them done. I started knitting them on Wednesday and finished stitching them together on Thursday afternoon while Vet2Be and I watched "Liberty".

Here is what they look like now:

The different colored yarn ties help me remember which yarn I used on which stocking. I'm curious to see how each yarn dyes up. I used some hand-spun yarn from Green Mountain Spinnery (red) that I had left from a few years ago, some Patton's wool (orange), and some Knitpicks Bare Superwash Merino worsted (pink). The Knitpicks yarn was the softest of the three, the Patton's was next, and the hand-spun was the ichiest (just in case you are wondering).

I personally love Knitpicks yarn! I love their service and their prices and the variety of yarns that they offer. I love their interchangeable knitting needles, too.

I'll post some photos after the kids and moms are done dying their stockings to show how they turned out. I think it will be a fun project.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Gift Soap

Prion lives in a dorm with five other girls. She loved her room mates last year, but these girls just aren't as interested in getting an education as she is, that translates into; "They only go to class when they feel like it." Prion is also a Sophomore this year, and the other girls are all freshmen.

Last year I knit each of her room mates a miniature stocking in their favorite color. They loved them and left them hanging on the wall all year. This year Prion didn't want me to spend as much time on the gifts for her room mates, so she asked if I would make them some goat's milk soap. It costs a bit more than the stockings, which I can make from scraps, but it is much faster. It takes me less than 30 minutes to make a batch of soap!

Here is the soap all ready to mail to the dorms. I decided not to wrap the soap in plastic so that it would have more time to dry and harden. I didn't have any real ribbon on hand, so I tore some fabric scraps to wrap around the soap. They make soap look festive and a bit rustic. If Prion wants to, she can tuck a piece of greenery under each 'ribbon'. 

Hand-crafted goat's milk soap is still a very nice present, and I was glad that I didn't have to spend time knitting them all stockings. I have completed five stockings already, with 17 more underway. I hope Prion's room mates like their gifts!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Repairing the Chair

I love our comfortable chairs by the wood-stove. They are used daily in the summer as well as the winter. Hubby bought me this set of furniture about 12 years ago because they are so comfortable. The set includes a couch that is currently in the music room (otherwise known as the "Front Room").

The chairs have been so well loved and so well used that on cushion developed a huge hole in the cushion. Really, it had two holes, one hole on either side of the cushion. After the first hole, I flipped the cushion over, but the other side ended up with a hole as well.

I wasn't sure what I was going to do about the hole, perhaps make a new cushion cover out of a coordinating fabric or get a slip cover for both chairs. A few weeks ago I noticed that two of the pillows that came with the set were made of the same fabric as the cushions on the chairs!

Voila! patches for the cushions! I would rather have two fewer pillows and cushions that would last another year or two.

So I carefully took one of the pillows apart at the seams so that I would have as much usable fabric as possible. Then I ironed the pieces and trimmed the edges even. The front and back of the pillow made very large patches for the cushion with the holes!

This is the cushion after I took it off the pillow part. You can see how large the hole is, and how much the worn part takes up! 

All patched! Because the fabric is plaid it was easy to match the patch with the cushion cover. You can see the the cushion is a bit dirty, I'll send it through the washer another day.

The cushion back on the comfy chair ready for someone to sit and read! It should last a few more years.

Recently I read that a good spouse has all the qualities of a good Boy Scout: A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. I believe them! Repairing the cushion was my thrifty deed for the day!


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Blue Plates

Hubby bought me some wonderful LED lights to go on the mantle by the wood stove. They are just beautiful and look like a lovely beaded necklace.
See how much the strand of lights look like a necklace? I think it looks wonderful even when the lights are not on!

Above the wood stove I have blue plates hanging from the bricks. A number of years ago I decided that I wanted something to brighten up the brick corner, but I needed something that would be easy to clean as well as something that wouldn't mind the heat. My Aunt sent me a number of Mors Dag plates before she moved into an assisted living facility and I thought that would be a great start for brightening up the bricks!

You can see the lights around the mantle. The photo doesn't do them justice, they are lovely when they are lit in 'real life'.

The left side of the corner.

Over the years I have collected quite a few plates. Some came from Ebay, some from yard sales, some from the thrift store, some from places we have visited, some from friends who have seen my collection. I also received a few bowls to put on the mantle as well. I don't think that anything in the collection is worth very much money, but they are treasures to me because they bring back memories of who I was with when I got them, or who gave them to me.

The coziest spot in the house! Two comfortable chairs and some pillows covered in old wool baby blankets (one of which belonged to my Uncle who has passed away). Blue plates above the stove, some wonderful antique samplers above the television, and hundreds of books just begging to be read again and again.

When the fire is going we love to sit here and read or watch an old movie. Sometimes Vet2Be sleeps in front of the fire on a cold night. Sometimes I will sit here and knit.

It is a snugly, comfy place that makes one feel as if the world has stopped and bestowed a moment of peace. Isn't that what a home should be like? A place of peace and rest, a place where you are always welcome, a place where you always feel as if you belong, and place where you know you are loved.

Sounds like Heaven to me.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving 09 Photo

It is difficult to get all our kids together.  We were able to get a photo of the ones that were at Thanksgiving Dinner with us this year, thanks to a very good family friend behind the camera!

left to right: Prion, Carpenter (son-in-law) who is married to Spunky, me, Hubby, Vet2Be

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Drying Onions

We had a good crop of onions from the garden this year. Not much else grew because I spent so much time going back and forth to the east coast. Oh well! We love onions! The red onions did much better than the yellow. I have no idea why. We planted the same number of each. Perhaps it is the soil in the west, maybe the amount of water, I'm not sure.

Our crop drying on the patio table that we moved into the house.

I thought about braiding the stems, but that would take lots of time. So I have to find someone who has  old stockings. I don't wear them and so I don't have any. Once the onions are dry, I can put them in old stockings with knots between them. I can hang them from the storage room ceiling. Then I can just cut the bottom onion off whenever I need one for cooking.

Anyone have any other ideas on what to use if I can't find stockings?

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Yum! I mixed the chevre I made over the last two days with salt and some herbs and it is delicious! I can hardly believe that I made something that tastes soooo good. I wish I lived closer to my family so I could share with them, they would all love it, too.

Here it is all ready to bring to Thanksgiving Dinner!

I added 3/4 teaspoon Sea Salt, 1 teaspoon Basil, 1/2 teaspoon Thyme, 3/4 teaspoon Garlic powder. It is so delicious that I doubt any will come home from Thanksgiving Dinner tonight.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I am getting ready for Thanksgiving Dinner tomorrow. I'm a bit behind, but no matter! Thanksgiving will come whether I am ready or not.

Yesterday I started some Chevre for Thanksgiving. I am always trying to figure out better ways to drain the cheese. Trying to pour the whey into the cheesecloth is sometimes a bit sloppy. This seems to be the best way yet. I have a spaghetti pot that is tall and narrow. One of my wire strainers fit right into the opening. Then I lay a piece of butter muslin over the strainer.

I let the cheese drain for a while until I stop hearing constant dripping.

Here is what the strainer looks like sitting right in the spaghetti pot opening. I love how the strainer fits into the top of the pot perfectly! As if they were made to fit together for this job.

When the dripping of the whey has slowed down I twist up the muslin and put it between two dowels. Then I wrap a twist tie around the muslin and the dowels and sit it on top of the pot to finish draining for 8-12 hours depending on what consistency I want.

Actually, I drain it in the refrigerator until I remember it! Sometimes it is evening of the same day, sometimes the next morning.

Two things that make the spaghetti pot great for draining cheese is the narrow opening and the deep pot. The narrow opening allows me to use a strainer and dowels across the top. The deep pot allows the cheese drain for hours without having to check it often. If the pot is too shallow it fills up with whey quickly and then the cheese sits in the whey until I remember to take a peek at it.

My favorite chevre starter is found here (at New England Cheesemaking Supply). I love the flavor! It is perfect by itself, makes a great cheese for Chocolate Cheesecake Truffles, and is wonderful when it is mixed with herbs for a cracker spread.

Ahhh..... the magic of cheese!