Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014...

There were regular old decorations...

And the kind that happen when a feather mixes it up with a spider web and then gets kissed by a Nor'easter.

We got a lot of wet, heavy snow. BUT, the power stayed on and the food was cooked, and everyone made it here, despite the road conditions.

It was a laughter-filled holiday. This old house echoed with the joyous sound of everything from giggles to guffaws.

You could feel the love!

The food was plentiful and tasted good, and niece Elyse did not disappoint,curling up on the couch for her traditional post turkey siesta...

People came back today for leftovers and more visiting. The tradition of decorating gingerbread houses was modified but continued...

The refrigerator is full of leftovers and my heart is full of happiness. It was a lovely Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving eve...

The day started out rather warm(mid 30's) and the animals were happy to be out in the meadow. Early afternoon the predicted snow began and they tucked themselves into shelter. We were as ready as we could be. All the animal houses were freshly cleaned and filled with sweet smelling bedding, food supplies for them plentiful, gallons of water put up in case we lose power.

The sky became dark and the snow came down fast and heavy. Power outages are predicted, which is troublesome because I am in the midst of preparing the Thanksgiving feast. I am hoping for the best. Meanwhile the storm is lovely!

Inside the fire crackled in the wood stove and the house was filled with the once-a-year scents of Thanksgiving. I baked three loaves of wheat bread, a cast iron pan full of corn bread for dressing, a heaping pan of fragrant sweet potatoes for a huge, sweet casserole.

This year, beautiful Rachel was all-in helping me. We baked moist rum cake and succulent chocolate nemesis cake. We made my beloved brother-in-law Nevada's incredible corn bread dressing, and a new recipe for bread stuffing. We made goat cheese which we will turn into garlic dip, and a bowl of spinach dip.

Rachel is peeling a mountain of potatoes so we can mash them, and tomorrow I will prepare a new squash recipe, with balsamic vinegar, roasted pumpkin seeds and fresh mint.

Family will begin to arrive mid morning. The turkeys will be cooking, (one in the outdoor smoker and one tucked into the oven under a buttered blanket of cheesecloth.) Everyone will bring an addition to the feast... cranberry sauce, squash and pumpkin and German chocolate pie, cranberry bread and pumpkin nut bread and spicy fresh salsa. If the weather cooperates the house will be full. And I will be thankful.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

With friends...

Last night we attended...

Thanksgiving with Friends was put on by customers-turned-friends. It has been a tradition for them for many years, and there were attendees from all over the country and Canada. We were honored to be included.

The house was beautifully decorated.

And the food was incredible!

It was a lovely time with nice people... and a terrific appetizer for the upcoming holiday we will host here.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Full, happy, days...

I am taking care of my neighbors farm for them while they are out of town. This means that I get up a little after 5:00 AM, toss in a load of laundry, take a shower, get dressed, fix my hair and make up and am out the door before 6:00 to throw a flake of hay to my horse and goats, let my dogs out, and drive to my friends house. Once there, I let their dogs out, feed their cats, clean the litter box, then head out to take care of their livestock. The sheep begin to call in very bossy,demanding voices the moment they know I am on the property. They are not to be silenced until they have had their small portion of grain and their hay rack is stuffed to capacity.

Meanwhile, the pony and three horses are far more patient. The pony calls to me in a soft, sweet little voice, and nuzzles me gently when I enter to give her a bit of grain. That keeps her happy while I give the big horses their grain. They are so much taller than my horse that they were a bit intimidating at first,but they are all very well behaved and now I am comfortable working around them. Each one goes to its respective stall to wait for me, then they take their time munching down their portions of breakfast. Meanwhile, I fill the water tanks and buckets, and deliver hay to each paddock... enough to last a long time. The dogs race and play and romp, vanishing into the woods, then reappearing to check in with me before cavorting off again. I pick up manure from each paddock, and then come home to take care of all of my own animals. There are goats to milk and mouths to feed and water to haul. All this before 7:30 AM.

Today we woke to 2 inches of fresh snow.

Chores are pretty when everything is frosted in white.

Once indoors I mixed up a batch of wheat bread. I tucked it into a bowl and covered it with this fabulous dish cloth my precious niece gave me. I love those crows.

Next I went to work. That commute? I love it. The studio welcomes me, it is tidy and clean and bright and smells nice.

I like the view... inside and out.

This afternoon the sun came out and the snow melted, dripping off the eves and expanding the puddle in the pasture. The ducks spent happy hours there, splashing and chatting amongst themselves.

In the midst of all the sunshine and dripping, one big, dark cloud rolled in, right over our house. The sun shone brightly around it. And then the cloud emptied its contents on us. Hail came pattering down, glistening in the sun. It was a surreal sight.

When the grooming day was done I went back to my friends farm to take care of their animals again. Then home to care for mine. Cooked up a pan of stir fry beef and vegetables and called it a day. A full day, with snow and sun and hail. A day with bread baking and dogs getting pretty and hay in my hair. And happiness.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Preparing for graditude...

Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and we are in "getting ready," mode.
Curtains will be laundered, windows polished,and the floors are in the process of being waxed. The china has all been washed, the silver has been shined. The brass candle sticks have a mellow glow in the light after some vigorous buffing from my patient husband.

I tend to save a lot of big projects all year, planning to do them right before Thanksgiving. This is our biggest entertaining event of the year, and I want things to look nice. The list of things to accomplish is still long, but this year I have wonderful help from my daughter. She has embraced the holiday and single-handedly crossed many, many things off of the master list. She is making the work even more fun than usual, with her bubbly enthusiasm and capable can-do attitude.

I am excitedly counting down until the happy day before Thanksgiving, when I get the spend the entire day in my clean, cozy house,beginning to cook a feast to share with those I love the best.

Much to be grateful for, indeed.

Monday, November 3, 2014

After the storm...

The early snow storm caused a lot of damage. The snow was wet and heavy, and many trees lost branches or toppled completely. There are wide-spread power outages. I feel sad for friends and neighbors who are in the cold and dark. One of the local Central Maine Power guys stopped by today to see if we had electricity. "We do!" I said, "In fact, I just baked cookies, want one?" He cracked me up by replying, "Does a bear poop in the woods?!" as he headed my way to take the offered goodie.

For all the wreckage, it was a lovely snow....

The wild birds hung close to the feeders.

It is warm now, and the snow is melting at an astonishing rate. It's going to be muddy out there!

Sunday, November 2, 2014


This has been quite a storm. The snow is heavy and wet, and the wind is high. Outside branches are snapping and trees are crashing down.

The goats are not fans of wet weather. Luna, especially, stays close to the cozy shed when the skies are leaking. Inside there is no wind, and deep shavings and a whole lot of hay that smells like summer.

Daughter Rachel got stuck on the road on her way home from work. Multiple times. Her Dad went to "rescue" her. They both got stuck on the way home.
Multiple times, again. Chris finally got home under his own power. Rachel parked her car at the fire station one town over and a kind fire fighter brought her home. I spent a few hours sitting by the window, staring at the road, willing the headlights of their cars to come into view. I felt a kinship to the wives of sea captains... staring out to sea waiting for their loved ones.

We lost power for a while this afternoon. The moment it came back on I quickly made up a huge batch of Taco soup and a pan of corn bread. I figured if the lights went out again we could heat soup up on the wood stove. It has flickered some, but stayed on for the most part. Outside, in the dark, the wind is screaming.

The forecast for the week is 40+ degree temperatures and sun. New England weather. If you don't like it, just wait a bit and it will change.

First snow...

If October is marked with shades of yellow, orange and copper, November is gray. And when we turned the calendar page to the 11th month this year, it was as if we shut out last months color with the motion.

When the forecasters said we might get snow we made sure that the livestock had clean sheds filled with sweet smelling shavings, that the water buckets were full, and that plenty of hay and feed was laid in. It makes me feel good to know they are secure and well fed.

The dogs know the best place to be on a day like today...

Outside the wind is gusting and the ducks are forlorn... leaving big flat footprints in the snow and muttering unhappily. The chickens refuse to leave their cozy coop, the goats are chewing their cuds in their shed, and the horse is keeping out of the wind, too. I plan to spend the day cuddled up, doing some writing and watching the world outside my window turn white.