Currently in the Freezer

Tomorrow is the first day of December.  That means that Christmas is right around the corner.  Blessed time.  Busy days.  A well-stocked freezer is just the thing to free up a bit of much needed time in the weeks ahead.  Currently taking up space in ours is:

-chicken noodle soup
-chili
-bolognese sauce
-rice and chicken casserole
-various vegetables
-caramelized onions (Yes! They freeze beautifully!)
-spaghetti sauce
-pizza sauce and mozarella cheese
-French baguettes (from the bakery discount bin) cut into hunks for quick defrosting
-pesto

Colette's Vintage Dress

Using a pattern from the early-1960's, Colette was very busy for a few days making herself a new dress.  If it looks like Audrey, Grace, or Jackie would wear it, she loves it!


The cap-type sleeves have these fun little crossover flaps that secure with a chunky button.


Simple.  Classic.  Beautiful.

Sabbath Rest


"Ye who confess Christ's holy name,
To God give praise and glory!
Ye who the Father's pow'r proclaim,
To God give praise and glory!
All idols under foot be trod,
The Lord is God!  The Lord is God!
To God all praise and glory!"

--Johann J. Schutz (1675)

Beauty and the Beast

Freezing rain can be beautiful, and it can also be beastly.  For those of you who live in warmer climates, freezing rain comes down like rain (because the air temperature is warmer) and freezes on contact (because the surface temperature is 32 degrees or less).  it is the opposite of sleet, which comes down like ice and melts on contact.  Sleet is relatively benign.  Freezing rain can be dangerous.

Thanksgiving night and into the wee hours of Friday, we had several hours of freezing rain.  We awakened to find the world transformed, as though the White Witch had been practicing her mischief in Narnia.  Every blade of grass, every twig, every bough of holly shivered in a coating of ice.




The view of the woods from the deck.


We were grateful that this storm did no damage, and we kept our power all day.  In 2008, we went without power for six days.  This storm was less beastly, and more beautiful.

Thanksgiving Day

“Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as He has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience.
Now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye littles ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the daytime, on Thursday, November 29th, of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty three and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.”
–Plymouth Governor William Bradford’s first Thanksgiving Proclamation

Our day began with worship at church, giving praise to God for the many blessings He gave us, in His great merciful benevolence this year.

The table was set.  Two of our hand-dipped beeswax candles stood in the pewter candlesticks.


Between a couple of turkey bastings, Technohubby and I took the dog for a walk.  Fresh air on such a food-laden day is always refreshing.  And brisk air it was!  A high of 39 degrees was reached at our house today.


Walter and Felicity spent the late afternoon and evening with us.  She starting to look adorably pregnant.  A new son-in-law and a grandchild on the way are among the many blessings we're counting this year.


-Thanksgiving Menu-

Our Traditional Cheeseball
Maple-Cranberry Cheeseball
Assorted Crackers
Eggnog

Green Salads with Dried Cranberries and Pecans
Vermont Turkey (dry-brined)
"The Good" Mashed Potatoes
Gravy
Stuffing
Green Beans with Onions (from this summer's garden)
Cranberry Sauce
Caramelized Pearl Onions
Spiced Peaches
Dinner Rolls
Sparkling Cider and Sparkling Pear Juice

Pumpkin Pie with Whipped Cream
Chocolate-Pumpkin Cheesecake
Moscato

Ahhh...a clean kitchen at the end of Thanksgiving Day is a beautiful sight, isn't it?


I hope your day was lovely.

Thanksgiving Preparations

Technohubby took the day off of work, and we spent the morning running some last minute errands together.  Bought a fresh Christmas wreath, bought the all-important-to-Max Triscuit crackers, without which "it just wouldn't be Thanksgiving!"

Colette and I finished the last of the do-ahead Thanksgiving preparations.  I cubed the homemade foccacia bread and spread it out to dry for stuffing.


Colette made my mom's cranberry sauce recipe, with just a bit of raspberry jam canned from the summer's goodness at a local u-pick farm.


I made pumpkin pie.  Colette's chocolate-pumpkin cheesecake was made yesterday.


I gathered enough place settings from my grandmother's colonial-patterned set of dishes for us tomorrow.  I never recall her using them, nor my mother.  But I love the look they give to the Thanksgiving table, especially when paired with pewter.



We finished up a bit of schoolwork.  Then the house was tidied, received a light dusting, and floors were cleanly swept.  I guided Colette through the last of her sewing for a dress she's planning on wearing to church tomorrow.

A full day, but I'm grateful to the Lord for the blessings of food to eat, a home to clean, and family to enjoy it with.  

Winter Wraps in the Shop

Lacking a daughter of the proper age to fit these garments, I borrowed one to model these winter wraps for the shop.  She giggled, and was simply as adorable as she looks.  She was brave too, as it was cold.  Nothing better than a crimson cloak to keep you warm though.


Naturally, when a girl wears a cloak, twirling must happen.


Equally cute in a black, velveteen capelet.


I took her (and her mom) out to lunch afterwards.  She warmed right up with clam chowder and a chocolate chip cookie.  Chocolate chips cookies were a delightful way to finish off the day.

Pumpkins

I adore the Pilgrims.  I find their example of Christian fortitude and committment to be faith strengthening and inspiring.  We have visited Plimoth Plantation many times, and everytime I am there I think of the incredible hardships this stalwart group of Christians willing endured for the freedom to worship as God as His Word decrees.

We have a CD with this song on it, sung in the same style that it would've been sung in at the time of the Pilgrims.  The lyrics, although humorous at times, are also a reminder of the importance of a grateful heart in all circumstances.


-photo from the Freeman Farm at Old Sturbridge Village-
New England's annoyances you that may know them,
Please ponder these verses that briefly doth show them.
The place where we live is a wilderness wood,
Where grass is much wanting that's fruitful and good.
Hey down, down, hey down-derry down.

And when the north-wester with violence doth blow,
Then every man pulls his cap oe'r his nose;
But if any's so hardy and with it withstand,
He forfeits a finger, a foot, or a hand.
Hey down, down, hey down-derry down.

When the ground opens we then take the hoe,
And makes the ground ready to plant and to sow;
Our corn being planted and seed being sown,
The worm destroys much before it is grown.
Hey down, down, hey down-derry down.

While it is growing much spoil there is made,
By birds and by squirrels that pluck up the blade;
Even when it is grown to full corn in the ear,
It's apt to be spoil'd by raccoon, hog, and deer.
Hey down, down, hey down-derry down.

The clothes we brought with us are apt to be torn,
They need to be patched before they are worn.
For patching our garments doth injure us nothing.
Double patches are warmer than single hole clothing.
Hey down, down, hey down-derry down.

If flesh be much wanting to fill up our dish,
We have carrots and pumpkins and turnips and fish;
And when we have mind for a delicate dish,
We repair to the clam banks, and there we catch fish.
Hey down, down, hey down-derry down.

Instead of pottage and puddings and custards and pies,
Our pumpkins and parsnips are common supplies;
We have pumpkin at morning and pumpkin at noon;
If it were not for pumpkin, we should be undone.
Hey down, down, hey down-derry down.

But you who the Lord intends hither to bring,
Forsake not the honey for fear of the sting.
But bring both a quiet and contented mind,
And all needful blessings you surely shall find.
Hey down, down, hey down-derry down.

--This is thought to be America's first folk song, and was authored by Edward Johnson in 1643 in Woburn, Massachusetts. 


Sabbath Rest


It was softly brown lambswool and pearls for church today.

"Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before Him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is He who made us, and we are His;
we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.

Enter His gates with thanksgiving
and His courts with praise;
give thanks to Him and praise His name.
For the Lord is good and His love endures forever;
His faithfulness continues through all generations."

--Psalm 100

Sweet Memories from the Turkey

The turkey candy dish has taken up residence in my sunny kitchen windowsill.  He's sitting there proudly.  The night before Thanksgiving, I'll fill him with sweets to the delight of everyone.


It's funny how little things like a turkey candy dish can make memories.  I have special memories of my grandma's cookie jar.  It was ceramic and had already been broken and glued back together once, so my brother and I knew we had to be really careful with it whenever we lifted the lid to retrieve a cookie (which, it should be noted, was often).  I think of that cookie jar everytime one of us carefully removes the turkey's lid and replaces it.  Taking care of the turkey so he can be here next year...and the next.  Sweet, simple memories.

First Snow

We awoke this morning to the first dusting of snow of the season!  Just a dusting...like powdered sugar sifted down upon the world.  I loved the interplay of lines on the sugar-coated deck in the early morning sunshine.


The leaves remaining in the yard were saucers for snow.


It didn't last long, but there will be plenty more in the coming months!  Winter is my favorite season of the year, so I'm fine with that.

Quick Cooking Tip: Pancakes

To add some ompf to your pancakes, simply replace the milk called for in the recipe (even if using Bisquick) with buttermilk.  Then add 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (even to Bisquick!) for every 12-14 pancakes.  Our family's wild about them!


Such small recipe changes, but huge taste and texture differences...light, fluffy, touch of spice...mmm.  And please don't forget the real maple syrup. 

Enchanting Discoveries

Last week we visited Coggeshall Farm, a very small-scale living history museum by a bay in Rhode Island.


Coggeshall (pronounced like: cog-shawl) Farm depicts a small farm at the close of the 1700's, as its only original building, shown here with Colette on its doorstep, dates to that time period.


We enjoyed our chat with a friendly and soft-spoken docent, who told us about the challenges of hearth cooking and of following 200-yr. old recipes.  She was attempting to get biscuits to rise by using "skimmings of beer" (the very last bit left in one's tankard).  Things did not look hopeful.

It made me think of how spoiled we are to have pictures in cookbooks these days, so we can also see what we're making is supposed to look like.  But it also caused me some reflection on how few girls these days are taught cooking at their mothers' side. Whereas in the past, there may have been no need for illustrations, because surely simply everyone would know what biscuits made with skimmings of beer were supposed to look like, because they'd been making them with their mother for years.

We fell in love with the gentle, simple beauty of Coggeshall Farm and all it contained that we love:

Smells of woodsmoke and apples cooking at the hearthside...


Bunches of fleecy sheep "baa-ing" at us...


The beauty of tools commonplace to every goodwife's skilled hands...



A tidy pantry with bowls of milk (from the farm's cows) setting to let the cream rise...


And even vintage dance manuals, as though the place could get any better...


Enchanting, in every respect.

More Christmas Stockings in the Shop

I've been spending many hours in the sewing room lately whipping up Christmas stockings for my shop.  A trio of Victorian/shabby chic stockings in soft pinks and beiges:



And I made two stockings from a 19th century French grainsack.  Ohhh...the texture!  When it comes to fabric, it's all about the texture for me.  And there's just nothing that competes with the texture of antique linen like this!


When I first purchased the grainsack, I had to take it apart at the seams.  What a job that was!  The seams contained the original fabric's selvage and was tightly stitched together (probably with some stout needle...like a sailmaker's needle).  I even broke one seam ripper trying to get the stitches out.  I pulled most of the snipped threads out, but gave up on removing them all.  And I'm so glad I left some, because I used that selvage with dangling threads for the bottom of the stocking's cuff.


It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here...well, at least in the sewing room.

Sabbath Rest


"For every house is built by someone,
but God is the builder of everything." - Hebrews 3:4

Leaves, Leaves, and More Leaves

We did some of the raking today.  There are at least three billion leaves on our grass, so we'll be busy next weekend too, weather permitting.  We finished the afternoon's work just as the sun was setting.


Then it was time for autumn fun.






The simple joys are always best.

Just Passing Through

Wild turkeys strutted through our property this week.  Our dog thought it was an outrage and barked, running from window to window.



The turkeys didn't care much for that and hurried through the brush and into the woods.  Probably safer for them, given the time of year and the approaching DAY.

Vermont Cheddar-Herb Bread

Autumn salads were on the menu plan for tonight.  They needed a savory bread to accompany them.  So I spent a bit of time in the kitchen making Vermont Cheddar-Herb Bread.

I love peeling the wax off a cheese.  It's like unwrapping a present.  And inside the cheery wrapping is a carefully preserved cheese...just for you!


The recipe called for a sweet and savory combination of ingredients: nutmeg and dill, allspice and chives, sugar and rosemary.


The house was filled with a delicious fresh, bready, cheesy aroma as it baked.


It emerged from the oven, warm and steamy with cheese oozing from its seams.  Be still my heart!
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