Sunday, February 28, 2010

Tack, Tack, Tusen Tack!

holy experience

78 - Tack, Tack, Tusen Tack - a beautful phrase taught to me by a Swedish blogging friend meaning "a thousand thanks" - how appropriate

79 - a son who goes on a quest to recapture a childhood memory of mine

80 - a resident baker

81 - the comfort of soup and a blanket

82 - coffee with a friend

83 - needle and thread

Friday, February 26, 2010

Baby, it's cold outside

A bitter cold evening calls for something to warm the innards and "fill up the corners", as Bilbo would say. The picture below isn't that great, but the dish was most inviting and we were so ravenously hungry that I didn't have the patience to try to get a better shot. Lamb stew with preserved lemons - a taste of tangy sunshine, with a side of buttery sweet acorn squash.

O preserved lemons, where have you been all my life? You've brought some Mediterranean warmth into my winter-weary kitchen. Thanks to Melissa over at Quotidian Life who provided the recipe. If you like lemons, do yourself a favor and make these. They are easy-peasy and oh-so good. They will forever be a staple in my pantry.

I made up the lamb stew recipe as I went along. In our house we call these "ohmygosh" meals because they're either ohmygosh good or ohmygosh not-so-much. In a dutch oven I browned a hunk of boneless lamb roast in tablespoon of butter. To this I added a can of stewed tomatoes and one preserved lemon. Covered the pot and baked at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes. The baked acorn squash added a sweet balance to the intensely lemony dish. Our dinner table conversation consisted mainly of words like "yum" and "more, please".

Thursday, February 25, 2010


"Day after day, the storm raged. Abbie had never tended the lighthouse by herself before. Many lives depended on her. While her father was delayed in town..."

We are in the beginning stages of our third monster snowstorm this winter--I and my family are heartily sick of it. According to the weather report, we are in for a foot of snow and 50 mile per hour winds. This neighborhood is notorious for power outages, and restoration can take days. Since our home is run entirely on electricity, we need to be prepared.

As I was gathering provisions, one of my favorite childrens' books came to mind. So I dug it out, re-read it, and cried. The book is called Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie, by Peter and Connie Roop. It's a simple story - it's a beautiful story based on a true account of a young girl who single-handedly kept a lighthouse lit during a massive storm off the coast of Maine. You might be wondering why a book written for children could make my nose burn and eyes tear. It's because it has always touched me on some deeper level. When I read it, I hear that still, small voice that urges us not to be afraid, but to get out there and shine. Lives depend on it.

"Don't go outside," said Lydia.
"You'll be washed away, too."
Abbie picked up a basket.
"I go outside every night," she said.
"I haven't been washed away yet."
She opened the door.
Water splashed into the room.
Abbie ran out into the rain.
She waded to the henhouse.
She put Patience under one arm.
She put Hope and Charity into the basket.
Just then she heard another big wave coming.
It sounded like a train!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Beauty in my own backyard

After church on Sunday, we weren't in a hurry to go home, being that it was very sunny out, and a balmy 42 degrees. Compared to the weather we've been having--cold wind and hip-high snow, snow, and more snow--it wasn't a day to be wasted indoors.
"Where do you want to go?" my husband asked. "I don't know - anywhere", I replied. After a little meandering, we ended up in Valley Forge, a Revolutionary War encampment and now a national park. I remembered that someone had recommended that we visit the George Washington Memorial Chapel, located in the park. I'm so glad we did.

The pamphlet referred to this place as "an amazing poem in stone". Indeed.

gasp! an elf!

This chapel is considered one of the most beautiful in the world. It's easy to see why.

Funny story about this picture...I decided to use this for a new profile picture on my blog. When I went to change the picture, the computer replied, "fetching photo..." and I thought, "Wow, thanks!" Then I realized it meant retrieving, not fetching as in attractive. Hahaha - a very HAL moment. Ahem! back to the tour.


I have a thing for heraldry and arched doorways

just love it

bell tower

everywhere you turn there's something beautiful to look at

all this and hot chocolate, too

Plus, can you believe it - a used bookstore right behind the chapel. Proceeds go to its care and upkeep.

Found this inscription on the flyleaf in an old copy of Wuthering Heights. It reads, "The treasure shared shall not diminish, if you return it when you finish".

What a treasure-filled afternoon, and only a few miles from home.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Gratitude Attitude

holy experience

72 - freedom to worship

73 - morning light

74 - hot chocolate date...
75 - ...with a tall, handsome guitar player

76 - a handmade surprise present from a gifted knitter

77 - the color red

Saturday, February 20, 2010

More chickens

Partner in crafty crime and I needed to go to the local thrift shop to buy her some new clothes, since she flatly refuses to stop growing. When a hobbit marries an elf, you might expect at least one shorty in the bunch. Nope. (I know what you're going to say, Joy, but my answer is "quiet you", you're taller than me).
Anyhoo, while searching for the aforementioned garb for youngest elf, I serendipitously spied this cunning chickie matryoshka doll. Cheap, cheap! (get it?) Just the thing for spring. Sticker on the bottom says "Made in U.S.S.R".
очень хорошо!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Meet Mabel Goodfeathers

I got a call from a friend a few days ago asking if I would take in a hen. It seems that someone incubated an egg for a school project, but could no longer keep a full-grown chicken. My coop can comfortably house up to six hens. Having only two fat, spoiled girls, accomodations wouldn't be a problem. But I've read that it's best to introduce a pair of hens into a coop with current tenants rather than just one. That way, the new one doesn't become "henpecked". Since no one else could take her, I agreed to give it a try, though I really didn't want the poor thing to be harmed.

I needn't have worried.

"Whaddaaya lookin' at!?!" Heh, Mabel. When we put her in the coop, she made straight for the feed bowl.

My two bossy girls, Big Fat Hen and Crysantha-Bottom, took immediate offense, hopped off their perches, and began this low, gutteral, growly clucking. I was worried - they are twice the size of the newbie.

I figured Mabel would have scrambled to a corner to hide. Nope. Figure more like Robert DeNiro -"You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me? Why I oughtta..."

"No, no, no, we didn't mean you, I mean, uh,, you know, mi casa, su casa..."

"Yeah, dat's what I thawt you was sayin'. So now I'm gonna have me a look around, see..."

"Fine...fine..whatever you say, dear"

The guy who gave her to me said she was so friendly and liked to be held like a baby. Friendly my eye - she strode down the ramp, walked boldly up and pecked me on the leg. It was her way of letting me know she wasn't going to take any guff from me, either.

Later that day, I found the most beautiful greyish-blue-green egg in the nesting box. Mabel, you're a keeper.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

O what a cunning little hatchet! what I thought when I saw this copper cookie cutter in a second-hand shop. No, that's not true. It's just that I always wanted to use the word "cunning" in a sentence, but nicely, as in charmingly cute or appealing: a cunning little baby.

Honestly, what I really thought was - O cool, this reminds me of second grade when we were given cardboard hatchets to commemorate Washington's birthday. They had hollow handles that held little cherry candies inside. I must have loved that little hatchet, considering more than forty years have passed and I still remember it. I wonder if children are still given these treats. Or perhaps doing so would push the envelope on zero tolerance policies. Shame.

The object lesson was to teach the value of honesty.

We children were told that young George, wanting to try out his new hatchet, chopped down his father's favorite cherry tree. When questioned later by his father, knowing full well that he would be punished, did not prevaricate, but rather said, "Father I cannot tell a lie. I did chop down your tree." Moral of the story: if you are truthful, you, too, can grow up to be president...

In remembrance of Lincoln's birthday, we would make log cabins out of peanut butter and pretzel rods. We children were told that Abraham Lincoln was so honest that he once walked fourteen miles barefoot to return three cents belonging to a friend. History tells us that these must have been Indian head pennies, since the Lincoln head penny was yet to be coined. This deed earned him the name "honest Abe".

I've heard it said that neither of these stories are true accounts, but part of American folklore. True or not, they were great men who for freedom's sake courageously led our nation through terribly difficult times, and for this we honor them. Happy Presidents' Day.

By the way, February is also known as National Cherry Month.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Round 2, or When I got to be Ma Ingalls

Quality childrens' literature is not only entertaining, but it can impart survival skills. Case in point: living in a house run entirely on electric power. Enter second blizzard of the week. Four feet of snow on the ground. Roads closed. Snow-laden trees and limbs breaking, taking down power lines. Result: complete power outage at 10:15am. Calls to electric company - restoration expected by 12:15. Then 2:15. Then 6:15. Then 9am tomorrow. Then noon the day after that...hmmmm. Time to get creative.

Well, Mr. Tumnus never showed up to invite us for tea. I know - let's play Little House on the Prairie instead.

Pa Ingalls is smiling because he likes to shovel snow...

It didn't take him long to realize that "resistance is futile".

Contemplating: what would Ma Ingalls do?

She'd use the fireplace to cook her family a hot meal. She'd be grateful that she has plenty of functional candles (see last post). She'd be gleeful that she collects antique kerosene lamps. She'd try not to be smug...

All kidding aside, your fireplace can be used as an impromptu stove. You need iron pots and the wood must be burnt down to glowing coals. Using direct flame will only result in burnt food.

To quote youngest daughter, my partner in crafty crime, "oh, this is fun!"

Partner in crafty crime, um, I mean Laura Ingalls

A couple rounds of Scrabble before bed. I know the picture is dark, but it lost its romantic charm when I tried to use flash. Since we weren't meant to have our power restored for two days, we talked of baking bread and making homemade butter the next day. Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on how you look at it), the power came back after midnight. So that put an end to this hoedown, as my daughter-in-law Niamh would say. Next snowstorm due Monday, four days from now.


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