Sunday, November 17, 2013

November is Half Way Gone!

Today . . .  I am going to make a few more handmade Christmas gifts while the house is quiet.

Outside my window . . . The sky is grey, the winds are blowing, and leaves are changing with the season.  It looks like it should be chilly, but it's already well into the 70s on its way to the 80s and the mosquitoes are swarming my patio windows.

A low light day so the picture isn't the best.  But look at the color!
I am thinking . . . about all the changes that are taking place around here these days:  new patio and fire pit going in, lots of family coming to town for Thanksgiving, new challenges at work, and the holidays fast approaching.

In the kitchen . . . there is rosemary freshly clipped from my garden drying slowly in the oven for one of those presents I'll be working on today.  Oh, how I love that smell.

Every garden should have rosemary . . . in my opinion.
I am wearing . . . my comfy PJs.  Don't judge, but I may just stay in them all day.  Well, at least until I head out to see how my tomatoes are doing in the garden.

I am creating . . .  lots of new things that I just can't tell you about.  I committed to making my Christmas gifts this year so there is a lot of sewing, cooking, gluing, waxing, and general crafting going on nonstop.  But since some of the recipients check in on my blog, I just can't disclose.  I wish I could since I am excited about everything I have done so far.

It's all top secret, so this is all I can show.
I am going . . . to spend a little time on line today looking at Adirondack chairs for my new patio.  Everything is on season end sales right now with lots of free shipping that I would like to take advantage of.  If I can make up my mind, I could have them for fire sitting with our Georgia company in a week and a half.

I am wondering . . .if I will have the time to take a deep breath after today.  With the company coming, my son graduating from the University of Texas the weekend after that, then the big push towards Christmas, things will be busy here.  But that's the way it is for everyone, isn't it?

I am reading . . . Reading?  I haven't had the time recently.  A problem that must be rectified.

I am hoping . . . that the contractor building my patio has the same picture in his head that I do.  I want so badly to be happy with it.  

The site is cleared and ready for stone.
I am looking forward to . . . the weather cooling down again like it was last week around here, lots of soup and stew, and sitting by the fire (in those new chairs I just have to buy).

I am learning . . . so many new things as I have been working on the presents.  For instance, did you know that wax can catch fire when you are melting it?  Glad I read that before popping a block in the microwave.

Around the house . . . we have a bit of everything going on.  Most of it is ready for Thanksgiving with lots of golds and browns, but I have other rooms with Christmas trees up and decorated.  Don't lecture, I promise I am not skipping a holiday.  I traditionally decorate for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving and only do what I can in one day.  If it is not put out that day it goes back to the garage.  Since I don't want to intrude on the guests that will be inhabiting the guest rooms, and since the whole house needs to be done (7 trees this year) since I am hosting a Cookie Exchange party, and since I am making all the gifts and my time is limited, I thought I would get a small jump start.

Guest room 1 is ready for company.
I am pondering . . . a menu plan for when company is here.  Lot's of crock pot meals so I won't need to be in the kitchen the whole time they are here.  I am also wondering if the amazing leaf color will hold on long enough for our guests to enjoy.

A favorite quote for today . . . "Blessed are those who can give without remembering and take without forgetting."  I know this is the same as last month, but it has been ringing in my ear of late.  I love this quote.

One of my favorite things . . . my back yard.  I can walk through my house, 3 years after building it, and still stop to stare out the windows and see something new.  This week we had two bucks come up to the porch looking for acorns.  And the leaves . . . stunning.

I hope he becomes a regular visitor.
A few plans for the rest of the week . . . wrapping up the gifts that our guests will be taking back with them.  Hooray for no shipping.  Getting the menu together for the week and for Thanksgiving.  Making my brother's and sister-in-law's presents.

A peek into my day . . . lots of creative messes will be made with football in the background.  Happy.  Happy.  Happy.

I am sharing this post on . . .

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Fog. Fabulous Fog.

If you have been around since the beginning, you know I'm a fool for foggy mornings.

The fence line between me and my neighbor's back 10
Whenever I see a fog bank roll in I cannot control myself.

Looking up the street from my mailbox as the bank rolled in.
It's a compulsion I choose not to curb.

March grasses poking up in Spring 2012
Grabbing my camera and slipping on a pair of shoes (maybe), I always head out the door anticipating the thrill of the landscape I have come to know like the back of my hand changing in some wonderful way.

March 2012
Things always look a little different in the morning light through fog.  Glorious.  Glorious.

What was once our land, now sold to someone who will call it home.
But progress is coming.  And things are changing.

Not just because the fog that greeted me and my coffee this morning is now slowly burning off and returning the day to its familiar clarity.

But because what once brought me great happiness to photograph on a morning not that long ago, has changed from this . . .

 . . . to this.

November  16, 2013
You would think this might make me a little sad, but actually, it doesn't.  I enjoy the pictures I took all the more, and I am reminded that each moment in time is one to be relished.   Two of the pictures I took on that day back in 2011 are hanging on my wall.  They still make me happy everyday.

And our new neighbors seem like lovely people who will enjoy living in this little corner of wonderful as much as Breck and I do.  I wonder if they will want to see any of the pictures I took of their land to see what it looked like back when it was ours, and one of my favorite places to photograph?  Goodness knows I have plenty to share.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

First Freeze

This might pass for one of two things.

Halloween ghosts in my garden.

Or  children's forts for play.

It's neither.  We are experiencing our first freeze of the season and I am trying to hang on to my lettuce, broccoli, tomatoes, carrots, jalapeno, and my lemon tree.  The onions, garlic and celery got a thick layer of shredded leaves to help them keep warm and should be fine.

If I had not run out of sheets, I probably would have made an effort to save the zucchini, but I didn't, and doubt it will make it.  The cucumber is at the end, so I let it go as well.  I will remove the sheets tomorrow in time for the inevitable Texas warm up.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Buck Stops Here

This morning the Inhibitors were out on the porch taking in the sights and sounds of the morning and a young buck roamed up and was investigating their presence through the screen.  Kracken wasn't so sure about the big guy and retreated back into the house, but Rudy showed no fear.  I grabbed my camera and took a few shots out the guest bedroom window while he scrounged for acorns on the ground.

I usually wander with a bucket collecting the acorns and pile them at the back of the property for the deer, but now that I know they will come all the way in for them I may cease my efforts.  I have seen more deer this year than ever before in our neighborhood.  Maybe they know it's hunting season and they are safe here.  Or it could be the river went 2 miles wide and flooded the valley and they have been forced up to us for dry land and food.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Love My Little Labels

I had a busy weekend.  I know you are probably WAY over hearing about my canning so I thought I would settle for a quick photo in lieu of words.

I designed labels for each of the recipes.  That was the fun part.  The jalapeno label is one of my favorites.  Do you see that I put my Inhibitors on the label?

In the end,  I have 6 pints of fruit, 3-4 ounce jars of jalapeno slices, 11 half pints of jam and jelly,  52-4 ounce jars of jam and jelly, and 4 pints of Pico De Gallo.

It was a weekend well spent.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sun Dried: Who Has Time?

What to do with an abundance of tomatoes?  My neighbor's cherry tomato plant from the spring is STILL producing, and she has been sharing her bounty with me.  Combined with some vine ripe tomatoes that Breck brought me last weekend, I have plenty to do something a little different.

No, it does not involve canning (surprise!).  I used them to make sun dried oven dried tomatoes.  I don't have the time to wait for the sun, so I cut them into pieces and put them in a 210 degree oven.

I checked them every hour and removed the ones that were finished (nice and leathery) as I went along. Now I have a nice little stash to use in some of our favorite dishes, like Penne Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli.

I will just drop a handful into some olive oil the night before and use in my recipe the next night.  I confess that there should have been more tomatoes, but they were so good after they dried that I made a nice snack of a small handful.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

My Words Are Tested

I cannot adequately describe to you the beauty of this day.  71 glorious degrees, clear blue skies, and light breezes adding a little drama as autumn leaves swirl down from the trees out my widow as I wile away the day in my kitchen. Amazing doesn't even come close.

As I said, I have been cooking today.  Still trying to get on track with my homemade Christmas goals.  Of course when I cook, I end up with lots of goodies to add to my compost pile for my spring garden.  Today it's peels and cores from apples and pears, ends of cucumbers, and some carrot shreds.  On a trip out to the bin with all these left over bits and basket full of shredded paper, I noticed some spots of orange in my garden.  Can I tell you how excited I was?  I knew this would be my first round of tomatoes.  I couldn't wait to get in the gate to check them out.

However, a sadness came over me when I realized that something was wrong.  My beauties had not been ravaged by birds or bored by distasteful worms, but in fact they had fallen victim to the rain.  Not the lack of it, mind you, but to the deluge we experienced over the last 2 weeks.  The 4 or so inches that has fallen here in a relatively short amount of time has caused my tomatoes to crack.

I should be mad, furious really.  I have worked so hard on my garden and was truly drooling at the thought of my own tomatoes.   I had visions of canning salsa with them (using up some of my jalapeno abundance in the process), homemade tomato soup, and even diced tomatoes for chili.  But I'm not mad.  Really, I'm not.

For roughly 26 years I have written a check to one water company or another, and remember times when the rains didn't come for weeks . . . months.  Rain, as a friend once said, is like money falling from the sky. Each drop is a penny I don't need to spend to keep all that grows around me alive.  I never complain about rain.  I repeat.  I NEVER complain about rain.

So today I mourn my tomatoes without a grumble.   But I confess to being thrilled that there remain some green tomatoes that appear healthy and unaffected, and that my plants are covered in yellow blossoms which may, if I'm lucky, give me another chance at that salsa.