Wednesday, December 24, 2014

So this is Christmas....  

As the holidays approach we can take some time to reflect and let the past year settle in our minds.  It can easily become a harried time of year, running to and fro, getting things done, and so on. I like to take time to totally stop, breathe out, maybe have tea by the Christmas tree and reflect in 
preparation for the new year......

This has been a busy December for my elf friends and me.  The head elf around here is my personal designer, she has been working on a couple of secret projects but also a few I can share.......

Every week she volunteers at a preschool.  She made each student and teacher in the class an angel peg doll ornament.  She attempted to capture each child's personality and looks.  The children and teachers loved them!!

We also hosted a lovely little party!  The guests had a pleasant time decorating candles by the light of the tree, exchanging gifts and enjoying snacks.  

The snowflakes we cut out and hung make me smile every time I see them dancing above my head in the kitchen!  They are so joyful!!!

My main culinary expedition of the month was poached pears!!!  They have always been somewhere on the list of fancy, elegant things I aspire to make somewhere along my journey 
of culinary exploration.  

I was absolutely ignorant about the secret lives of poached pears!   The ingredients for the syrup are mostly my on design. I browsed many recipes and chose the ingredients and proportions which seemed logical, then while cooking I added more spur-of-the-moment ideas that bubbled out of the pot!  

Hope you enjoy!!!!!  

- - - - - Pizzazzy Poached Pears - - - - - 


* 4 pears
* 3 cups apple cider
* 3/4 scant cups sugar (we use cane sugar)
* a few slices fresh ginger
* lemon rind and the juice therein 
* 2 cinnamon sticks 
* 20 whole cloves
* some raspberries for later

*  Peel pears, leaving them whole with stem on (do not let them 
   sit out too long because they will get chilled and 
   become distempered).  Pit them by inserting spoon from below 
   and carve out the seeds (do not skip this step!). 

*  Mix cider and sugar in a medium saucepan (measure 
   pan beforehand to find one that the pears can lie in 
   with some breathing room).  Heat until sugar dissolves, 
   then carefully add pears.  The syrup will be hot,
   do not splash!

*  Add the ginger, cloves, cinnamon sticks and carve 
   off a few slices of lemon rind and toss in!  Squeeze as 
   much lemon juice as you think you might enjoy and return 
   to heat.  Cover with a piece of parchment paper to 
   seal in the moisture and simmer for approx. 
   20 minutes or until they are soft and you can 
   easily insert a fork. 

*  When they are pleasantly soft carefully spoon them out onto a 
   dish leaving a liberal coating of liquid on them.  Place the 
   dish into the oven on the lowest setting.  

*  Continue to cook the syrup down at a simmer to your desired 
   consistency.  I cooked mine for approx. 20 minutes....I think.  
   Be aware, the syrup will set up a bit after you remove it from 
   the heat.  A few minutes before removing from the heat add a 
   nice handful of raspberries (frozen are fine!) for color 
   and a bit of pizzazz!

*  Remove pears from the oven and serve with the syrup 
   spooned over top and a dollop of yogurt on 
   the side!!! YUM!!! 

Regardless of our religions or beliefs, this is a great time of year to reflect, regroup and replenish.  It is a perfect opportunity to reach out in a compassionate gesture, and warm someone's heart in the bleak mid-winter.  It is a time of year that helps me to realize how important my life and the things that round it out are; a time when I realize how much I cherish the lights that guide me along my path through life.  

So, I would like to extend to Everyone Wishes of Joy and Peace!! 

Happy Holidays!!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

First Snow!!

As some of you know, I love most anytime of year and can gush about the beauty of it; the first snow is no exception, in fact 
it might be one of my favorite times 
(hmmm....does that sound familiar?)!!!!  

I absolutely adore the first snow and look forward to it for weeks!  A week or so ago we had a few descending flakes of snow and I instantly wanted more!!  Yesterday my wish was granted and it is lovely--buckets and buckets of it accumulated overnight!!  And the snow continued to swirl and whirl into the early afternoon keeping it fresh, sparkling and clean all day! 
Well, this is my ode to winter and crystalized ice!!  

My favorite variety of snow is the kind that comes overnight, transforming the world into a winter fairyland. It's like a present when you look out your window in the morning. 

The snow caught the garden rather by surprise!  A few roses that were hanging onto the memory of summer had a snowy send-off.

My friend Miss Shirley has been preparing for the snow with her thick winter coat and watched it fall inquisitively from the doorway of her house...

There's something peaceful and contemplative about slowly working and doing chores in the barn while the weather 
blusters about outside.

I have a tradition of making my first pumpkin or squash pie of the season on the day of the first snow; it is a nice way to welcome the wintery weather while admiring in from the warmth of the kitchen. I used the recipe I shared with you last November, only this year I used some of our lovely volunteer pumpkins that decided to grow on our brush pile this summer.  We had fun making a wintery scene with them in the snow!

 "Do you want to build a snow man, c'mon out let's go and play......"  I'm sorry I don't know what just came over me, my mind must have been a little Frozen for a moment....

As I grow older I tend to spend less time frolicking in the snow and more time admiring it from warmer places....I found a lovely sunny spot in our new greenhouse, it was 
surprisingly warm, almost cozy!

The parsley shares a similar sentiment when it comes to snow so we forged a camaraderie while staying out of the biting wind......

"Sunshine is delicious,
 rain is refreshing, 
wind braces us up, 
snow is exhilarating;  
there is really no such thing as bad weather, 
only different kinds of good weather."
~~John Ruskin

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

"Falling" Out of October

I had a lovely post ready to share with you, when suddenly it disappeared, quite surprisingly and completely!!  You can't imagine how difficult it can be to navigate a 
keyboard with two small paws!  

Well, I will begin again: October is a wonderful time to enjoy the last golden days of autumn. Experiencing October is like taking a walk through a kaleidoscope; it's as if every bit of light is being filtered through a prism. I love the changing leaves and the crisp air with a hint of earthy decay, and I adore the crackling sound of leaves underfoot.  This October has been no exception, we have been enjoying a glorious Indian summer!!  Today I have a couple of favorite autumn poems and some joyous moments with a friend 
and a recipe idea to share.....   

Elsa Beskow

Golden, you are,
Golden sovereigns on your trees.
Golden guineas on your floor,
golden coins of leaves 
that fall 
for us to scuffle through
and rustle
and rattle
and hustle
and scrabble
and dabble
and paddle
as they fall
into an October carpet
which hides
our shoes.

~~Elsa Beskow~~

I have always loved playing, romping, frolicking and jumping in the autumn leaves!!  This year my sweet friend, Miss Bobo Kitty, decided to join me; we often go on walks together, and we are both avid fans of napping in the sun!  I must admit that in the 
past few years my leaf-romping has become a
 much more placid activity......

Here is a rare portrait of her.  She is usually very elusive around the camera, but as you can see, she is capable of being very theatrical......  

Do you ever have that feeling that perhaps you missed something.....?

Over the weekend I made some mini baked hot chocolates livened up with pumpkin spice.  They are the perfect Halloween treat for someone who doesn't want something too sweet!!  For those of you who have never enjoyed baked hot chocolate, it is a wonderful way to use your ramekins!  This delightful dessert has only four ingredients and goes together quite quickly...a grand addition to your recipe box for the coming winter months.  I made my classic baked hot chocolate with a teaspoon
 or so of pumpkin spice!

Kaarina Kaila

The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry's cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.
The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I'll put a trinket on.

~~Emily Dickinson~~

Of course, where would we be without a 
lovely Renoir painting!?

See you next month!!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Welcoming Autumn

I am completely smitten with this time of year, when the days are warm and the nights are crisp, and the pumpkins are waiting in the tall grass to be discovered; their bright orange faces are so cheery as they meet you on your way to morning chores.  I love when the wildflowers bloom in the final hurrah of the growing season and grace the roadside ditches with their hues, 
parading to meet autumn.

"Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees, 
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
to swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With kernel sweet; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells."

~~John Keats 


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Contemplating Summer 

This summer has been a wonderful conglomeration of blueberries, playing with children, visiting neighbors, napping, growing and enjoying vegetables from the garden, sipping tea among the flowers, napping, and watching the sunrises 
reflect off the dew....... 

As I enjoy this cool Sunday morning, I am reflecting on all of the delightful times we had thus far this summer and the beautiful moments of nature and life I was a part of!  I will share with you the essence of these moments which I have endeavored to 
capture in photographs.....  

Moments among the flowers.....

Rebuilding a barn on the farm.....

An arbitrary rake..... 

You know how much I adore sunflowers...... 

Peeking out from in the shed......

Always remember to take time to smell the flowers and absorb the beauty around you!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Taking a Summer Break 

My personal designer and I are taking a petite summer respite.  We have been enjoying a little traveling, a little playing and lots of little walks.... in the sun.  Hope you all are 
having a pleasant summer!!!