Keeping Company

I’ve been trying to write a letter or two every Sunday afternoon…keeping the art of writing real letters alive. This picture, of a lovely woman, in a very old frame came home with me from an antique store last week. I really think she’ll look better on a small wall in the living room someday, but she needs a larger picture to accompany her there. So, for now she sits on my desk and keeps me company while I write letters.


New Recipes


Each week I like to try a new recipe, just to keep things interesting. In the winter, sometimes it’s two, because the weather just makes me feel like cooking. Sometimes they’re flops. But sometimes they’re keepers. Here are the keepers. Just click on the title and it should take you to the source for the recipe.

CROCK POT CHICKEN TACO CHILI - super simple, really good! I accidentally forgot to add the jalapeno and it was plenty spicy without it (and we like spicy), so I’d recommend leaving that out. We topped it with tortilla chips, shredded cheese, and a tiny dollop of sour cream (not shown).


OVEN BAKED FRIES - The quest for the elusive crispy oven-baked fry ended here! Yay! These are really tasty, and must have something to do with soaking the potato wedges in hot water before baking.

ROASTED CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP - This is a really filling soup. Max said, “It’s like chicken pot pie in soup form,” which is quite true. I intended to take a picture of the finished product, but I only got as far as the carrots. You have to click on the “view recipe” link to get the recipe from the above link.


OVEN ROASTED GARLIC MUSHROOMS - These are SO tasty! And super simple! They can even be all prepared and put in the refrigerator until you’re ready to roast them. They make a fabulous accompaniment to steak!

Bon appetit!


Winter sunsets are the best!

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand,
or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?
Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket,
or weighed the mountains on the scales
and the hills in a balance?
Who can fathom the Spirit of the Lord,
or instruct the Lord as his counselor?
Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him,
and who taught him the right way?
Who was it that taught him knowledge,
or showed him the path of understanding?

-Isaiah 40:12-14

Cold


It’s scarf and sweater weather here. It’s leggings and tall socks weather. It’s hat weather. And gloves. And coat. Temperatures have been in the negative numbers overnight and just in the teens during the day. We’re bundled up and staying warm. Even so, I love it! The cold makes me feel so alive!


Limoges

I’ve always wanted fine china, but never received it as wedding gifts, invested in it, or even found a pattern I loved. But while shopping in an antique shop this week, I found a lovely set of Limoges.  I've always loved Limoges!  It’s not a complete set, but I figure that I can find replacement pieces and add to it over time. The simple green pattern will work with Easter, Thanksgiving, or Christmas tablescapes. I love its neoclassical design! Makes me think of something you might find at Monticello!



The Winter House

I love winter. I love how the house looks in winter. After all the excesses of Christmas, it’s nice to be simple. The simplicity calms me. The snow outside is like a clean slate for a fresh, clean year. The winter house is peaceful.


Cozy


The other day I whipped up a duvet cover for Max. The easiest way to do these…just buy two flat sheets and stitch them together. You can buy fabric, but nothing’s ever quite wide enough, so sheets are easier. These came from L.L. Bean and are super soft, super cozy flannel. Just right for cold winter nights.


Laughing


Recently, I drove past a house in our town that had some pretty hilarious snowmen. They even make each other laugh! Pretty creative!




The View

Fresh snow fell today! We got about four more inches of snow! I was waiting for just such a day to do some garden planning. Nothing’s better than a snowy January day, a cup of tea, and some lovely music to set the perfect mood for garden planning. Here was the beautiful view from where I sat today.


Ahhh...I love January!

Thank You Note Season


“All gifts should be acknowledged with a note, unless the goodies were opened in
front of the giver—then you have the chance to thank them in person.”

- Emily Post

I've been doing a lot of thank you note writing these days.  Thank you notes for Christmas and birthday gifts are in the mail.

I’ll forever be grateful to my mother for making me write thank you notes as a child. It’s important. (Warning: I’m about to get up on my soap box.) I cannot even tell you how many expensive wedding gifts we have not been thanked for in the past few years. Where on earth is gratitude in this younger generation? Where on earth are their manners? If you are a younger person reading this, take note: when you fail to acknowledge with a thank you note a gift that you were given, the impression you leave on others is one of being an ungrateful dolt. Don’t be an ungrateful dolt. Don’t train up your own children to be ungrateful dolts. Write thank you notes!

More Fun with the Family

When my family was here over Christmas, we squeezed in as many celebrations as we could: Christmas, Max's birthday, my birthday, New Year's Eve.


There was another five inches of snow that fell, and more snow play resulted. They cut a toboggan run down the hill to a snow fort. A massive snow fight ensued!



New Year’s Eve! Happy New Year to all of you too!



On New Year’s Day, we drove to Vermont for a sleigh ride! We had made the reservation weeks in advance, before there was even snow on the ground, in hopes that there would be by our reservation date! Thank you, God! There was! And it was even falling gently on us for our sleigh ride…a chilly 22 degrees too! The sleigh ride was at the historic Adams Farm, which has been in the same family since 1865. One of the descendants of the original owners was driving the team of horses that day.




We all laughed at these ducks, who eventually all crowded into this little whole left in their frozen pond.


The half-hour sleigh ride took us through the woods of the property, through their sugar bush, past their sugar shack, with views of surrounding ski resorts on the distant mountains, until it reached our destination, The Old Cabin in the woods.



Inside, the staff served us piping hot cups of hot cocoa, and we warmed ourselves by the wood stoves. For entertainment, there were games of checkers and a player piano.





Returning to the farm!  A beautiful way to start a New Year!





OSV in the Snow


While my brother was here, he and a friend of ours climbed Mt. Lafayette! And they made it to the summit! The top of Mt. Lafayette in the winter looks like another world, everything shrouded in snow and fog, 1 1/2-ft. long horizontal icicles (caused by the fierce winds), and an eerie sunlight illuminating the clouds.

While he was there, my sister-in-law and I took her kids and went to another world too! Our world here in New England in the 1830′s…Old Sturbridge Village in the snow! Everything looks so different in the wintertime!





In the Textile House (shown above) my niece practiced carding wool.


We came across this group of day-campers, who were apparently outfitted by OSV for their day’s (week’s?) adventure in the 1830′s.



My niece, a horse-lover, was very happy about taking a wagon (wagon’s not quite the right term, but you get the idea) pulled by these horses. My favorite part of the ride was going through the covered bridge in the village, where the driver asked us to be quiet so that we could hear a “common 19th century sound”, the sound of horse hooves on a wooden bridge and the sound of sleigh bells. Ahhh…positively transporting!



I love the Freeman Farm at any time of year. They were making candles in the kitchen when we were there (pics. didn’t turn out great though). I love how everything that was growing is now inside for the winter…squashes on the floor, herbs and apple rings drying.


The sheep were having their dinner.


On the hillside near the Freeman Farm were a bunch of hand-pegged, wooden sleds available for use! What fun! They went impressively well down the hill! I think I may have found a future project for Technohubby.


In sledding, the rule is: what goes down must come up. But it’s SO worth it!


Chilly, but fun day in the 19th century!

Cook and Play


Lots of fun was had with our extended family after Christmas!

The day after was “ladies day out”, and all us ladies went to the Stonewall Kitchen Cooking School in York, ME for a cooking class called “Cozy Up with Comfort Food”. Mmmm. Just the time of year for it too!



The menu for the class, which was cooked/demonstrated and then served to us, was: Gnocchi with Browned Butter and Sage, Peas with Shallots and Bacon, Glazed Roasted Carrots, Herb Crusted Loin of Pork, and Ginger Pear Cake with Fresh Whipped Cream.


We were really glad that the Lord provided us with good weather for traveling to Maine for the class, because the next morning we awakened to seven inches of fresh snow! Yay! A snow play day!








Very tired dogs at the end of the day. It’s tough work chasing-pushing people down snowy hills!



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