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I am Sandra - faithful steward. listener. shepherd. dream believer. hard worker. collects brass bells, boots. Jesus follower. contented. star gazer. homemaker. farmer. prayer warrior. country woman. reader. traveler. writer. homebody. living life large.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve 2008

It's the early hours of New Year's Eve and what do I have on my mind? The fact I cannot, yet, download photos to my blog. My desktop computer went south and Dave bought me a new one but all the programs need to be transferred, including Picasa, my photo program; hopefully, soon.

Hardly ever do I stay up to see the New Year in; the dogs like to go to bed early and as they are elderly now, our lives revolve around their needs. However, in early evening, Dave and I will drink a bottle of St. Hilaire Brut sparkling wine also known as Blanquette de Limoux. At the time of former President's Thomas Jefferson's death, his wine celler was about ten percent Blanquette de Limoux and the only sparkling wine kept on hand.

In the mid-1500's, the Benedictine Monks, in the southern foothills of the Limoux region of France and of the Abbey of Saint-Hilaire, made sparking wine more than one hundred years before they made champagne. Dom Perignon is reported to have said, upon tasting champagne...or was it sparkling wine...for the first time, "I think I am tasting the stars."

I think champagne and sparkling wine are both a bit like "tasting the stars"; the stuff dances on the tongue, teases the nose, pleases the eye and, if drunk judiciously, doesn't give a big head. We purchase St. Hilaire at a delightful wine shop in Blacksburg, VA and it costs, around, $12 a bottle. Certainly affordable even for the occasional "it's Tuesday and aren't we glad we're alive" days and absolutely affordable for New Year's Eve and other celebrations.

Sheesh. I think I need a life.

Blessings ~ photos ~ new computer ~ the promise of the coming year ~ champagne ~ sparking wine ~

Monday, December 29, 2008

Contests, Challenges

Don't you just love to have a chance to win something from another blogger? I know I do and want to tell you of two.

Check the Third Annual One World One Heart event. It's a ton of fun to make something as well as, possibly, get something. I'd like to figure out how to add buttons to my blog; the One World One Heart button is great! In the meantime, it's listed under 'events' on my side bar.

Visit The Cart Before the Horse for a chance to win a cute little bird. You need to post a comment for one chance to win, comment on your blog for another chance and there are a couple more opportunities. Go and see.

Leah Piken Kolidas is hosting the Second Annual Creative Everyday Challenge 2009, again with a wonderful button. As I'm drawing closer to hearth and home, this seems a timely event to join. What with Dave's mother being with us for so long and needing, almost constant, care my creative-ness has, often, been pushed to the back burner. I'm going to make a concentrated effort to finish my UFO's, complete my trades and be creative everyday in 2009. I'm not an artist...I don't draw or paint, although I'd love to have that talent but I do fiddle around with fabrics, yarn, quilting, textile postcards, knitting, spinning, felting and the like. Leah says 'all' creativity is acceptable so I'm in like flint...YEAH!!!

Now to figure out how to add buttons...

Blessings ~ meeting new people via the i-net ~ a beautiful sunny day ~ hot beverage in a lovely cup ~ a dog's head craddled on my lap ~ the kitten playing in a sun spot ~ contests ~

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Take Christmas

On this, the last Sunday of 2008, we observed the Sabbath by going to church. We attend a little country church, people of all means attend and everyone is welcome. Our choir is whoever wants to leave their pew and our songs are whatever we decide as we're lead by the Spirit.

The text today was John 1 and fitting as we've just completed another Christmas with the Babe who left the comforts and glories of heaven to reside among the swill of humankind. People have wondered why Christ's ministry was so short, only three years, but I think it's because three years is all He could stand of us, His Father's creation. In the Garden of Eden I feel quite sure we shone with the Shekinah glory of God but after the Fall we reflected the deception of evil and, until that star bright night a couple of thousand years ago, had little to recommend us save the sacrifice of turtle doves, a ram, an ox or the like.

John I

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

2The same was in the beginning with God.

3All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

4In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

5And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

I enjoy reading, perhaps too much, but there are three books that are currently pulling at my heart. Joyce Meyer is a prolific writer and I'm enjoying, very much, 100 Ways to Simplify Your Life. Her suggestions shatter some well accepted myths I/we, probably, don't want to let go. For example, she admonishes -in chapter one no less!- 'Do One Thing at a Time'. For a lot of us...most of us???...women especially, this is sacrilege as we tend to take pride...perhaps false pride??? the numbers of things we can do at once.

Let's on the phone while surfing on the computer while jotting notes on our to-do list while knitting a few stitches on a scarf we intend as a gift... You get the drift. Are you as guilty as I?

She quotes Eric Hoffer, "The feeling of being hurried is not usually the result of living a full life and having no time. It is, on the contrary, born of a vague fear that we are wasting our life. When we do not do the one thing we ought to do, we have no time for anything else-we are the busiest people in the world."

I'm ashamed to say, I often read my Bible with a notepad at hand, just in case my mind remembers something I absolutely NEED to do later that day. Oh yes, my mind is wonderfully adept at coming up with things to do in order to get my mind off the task at hand...reading God's word. So, rather than try to do many things at once, in other words multitask, I'm going to focus on doing one thing at a time most excellently. Yes, I'll fail but in my failure I'll find success because I will strive to return, again and again and again if necessary, to focus on doing one thing at a time most excellently.

Another book I've just started is Six Qualities of Women of Character by Debra Evans. Evans uses Biblical women, as well as modern day women, to "encourage spiritual endurance". As St. John Chrysostom once wrote, "The ashes of martyrs drive away demons" and so it is with reading of bygone saints. As Hebrews 12 puts it, "we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses" and those witnesses are to give us hope, to bolster our faith, to encourage us and to give us courage in our Christian walk. John Donne said in Meditation XVII,

"All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated...As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness....No man is an island, entire of itself...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."

Neither is any woman an island. We have a rich legacy and heritage and would do well to tap into those who have gone on before so that we are assured "every sinner has a past but every saint has a future."

The final book I'm reading is The Woman's Study Bible, New King James Version by Thomas Nelson Publisher. Mother and Daddy both read the Bible every year and each have their own way of accomplishing this task. Mother reads it as a study guide, using concordances and other texts to help her understand and comprehend what she's reading. Daddy starts on 1 January and reads five chapters a day, every day, until he finishes by his birthday in mid-September. For some years I've used Daddy's method but wanted/needed a change. This past year I used a Bible that was written as Biblical events unfolded...a time line, so to speak. There's a name for this Bible but it's downstairs and I'm upstairs so will have to check later. Anyway, I find this is an interesting, but difficult, way to read the Bible. I'm used to reading all of a book at once, not jumping around to what else was going on at the time. Still and all, I did enjoy it but was ready, again, for a change.

The Woman's Study Bible is that change. It's a fascinating Bible, giving a woman's perspective as it pertains in a historical venue and features study articles, annotations, dozens of profiles of Biblical women, introductions and outlines and much, much more. It's what I've been looking for as it 'fleshes out' the Bible and gives it an immediate intimacy that brings me closer to God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit. It makes ancient history real and explains how Old Testament Hebrew law affects society today. I'm sure this Bible will serve me in good stead for many, many years to come.

I do read other books...for pleasure, for fun, for entertainment...but find if I don't put "good stuff" into my head, my head will soften and become flabby. Thus, the materials above will serve me over the next few weeks and, in the case of the Bible, for decades to come. It's my way of taking Christmas with me and keeping Christ in me. I don't know about you but I need all the help I can get; it's a frosty old world and I want to walk out the door prepared, wearing a warm cloak, so to speak, that will protect me from ill winds. How about you? How do you take Christmas with you?

Blessings ~ a little country church ~ Christmas ~ good books ~ Christian authors ~ a great cloud of witnesses ~ Bibles ~

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Christmas!


And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

2(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

3And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

5To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

6And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

7And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

15And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

16And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

17And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

18And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

19But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

20And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

21And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.


How to Arrange a Nativity Scene


Blessings ~ Christ ~ Christmas ~ always family and friends ~ freedom ~ our military ~ safety admidst calamity ~

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Fine Fleece Winner!

We have a winner...but first, the disclaimers. We don't go for that high tech, fancy pants method of picking a winner. Nope, with us, it's simple and easy peasy as pie. I merely wrote the names on pieces of paper, tore them into, approximately, the same size and dropped them into a plastic bag. Dave had the pleasure of pulling a name out of the bag, so to speak.

A Fine Fleece was won by a Ravlery sister as well as one across the mountains...Iris. There were about fourteen folks who wanted to win so the chances were a whale of a lot better than any lottery I've ever seen. For those who didn't win, there will be other opportunities as I'm downsizing my library and will, about once a month, give away a book or books.

Hey Iris...I'm sorely tempted to say, come pick up your book the next time you come across the mountain but a deals a deal so I'll drop it in the mail this week. -smile-

The rest of y'll, stay tuned for more chances to win.

Blessings ~ books to give away ~ folks who enjoy books ~ yarn ~ knitting ~ rain ~ winning ~

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bush Hog - RIP

It's another cold day, didn't get above 26 degrees F and it's been snowing, off and on, all day. We had one to two inches last night, supposed to get another one to two tonight; I've not left the farm all day and only left the house to do chores.

Chores are, sometimes, very exciting around here. To get bales of hay from the barn to the pastures, I drive a "sexy little golf cart, Missy" as the farrier likes to say. He's bald as a cue ball, has a droopy handlebar mustache and is built like the, proverbial, brick outhouse. He's also married to a woman about fifteen years older than he; he's got a lot to recommend him. Yes, I do like the days when the farrier comes to trim horse feet. 'smile'
So, the "sexy little golf cart, Missy" is a Workhorse and it runs. I don't care what the heavens throw down, I don't care what the temperatures are, I don't care how cold it is...that Workhorse flat out, simply starts and runs. It's the most amazing little machine I've ever seen and I only hope my Polaris Ranger will be as good or better. Lord knows that good for nothing Bush Hog UTV was as useful as teats on a boar hog and it's good riddance to bad rubbish.

Oh don't get me wrong. The Bush Hog was a great little machine and for the money couldn't be beat. Except it wouldn't start in cold weather and if, by chance, I got it running, it wouldn't stay running. It would gasp, choke, cough, whine and, shortly, die. I should have shot the blasted thing the last time it wouldn't start. It preferred to stay inside and keep its pretty little tires warm and clean when the weather was cold. The regional sales rep, and I use the term only because that's what his title me, it's a slap in the face to regional sales reps who actually DO their job and are polite to their the regional sales rep says to me, "it's that Honda engine that's bad. You need to get in touch with Honda and talk to them; it's not a Bush Hog problem and I'm not dealing with you." I told him, "I didn't buy it from Honda, I bought it from Bush Hog, therefore, it's a Bush Hog problem because it's still under warranty."

He says, "I've already told you, it's a Honda problem and don't bother us with it." I'm thinking, with all the layoffs and people wanting/needing/begging for work, the only thing I can figure is this guy must be the owner's nephew. Because. There is No Way a jerk like that should talk to a customer, IOW, the person who buys the equipment he's selling so he can eat and pay his bills. His attitude needs some Serious Overhauling and I figure a few months in a bread line is just what he needs. Sheesh. I feel sorry for his family, if he has one. With an attitude like that, he probably started life in a petri dish.

So all this is taking place the month of November which was already a bad month because Dave's mother went into hospital on the third and died on the nineteenth. Who wants to listen to a lot of mouth during good times much less bad times? I mean, this guy was really and truly shirty.

So, lest you think I'm railing over something that just happened, let me assure you...this problem has been going on for Almost One Year. Yeah. We ordered the Bush Hog last December, the week before Christmas, was told arrival "by the end of the year" and it came, finally, in late February. Very Late February, the 27th to be exact. It was a piece of junk and a lemon from the start. The second day it was here, it wouldn't start. The local dealer has been a Southern Gentleman right from the beginning and has bent over backwards, and then some, to make this boondoggle right. I'll not go into it again but if you want to read the sordid tale, check out Bush Hog, Reliable Unreliable, Part I, Part II and Part III. It all reads like a horror movie only worse because it's been a real nightmare.

After Dave and I spoke, and I use the term very loosly, to the regional sales rep, we called his boss who was Simply Aghast, Horrified and Promised to Make Everything Right and asked me what did I want Bush Hog to do. I said, "within five business days, have a brand new, totally outfitted GREEN Bush Hog UTV just like this red one, sitting in my driveway." I wanted a green one because I didn't want them to try and pull a fast one on me. He said, "great, I'll call you back this afternoon." Well. I would just love to see Bush Hog's calendar because "this afternoon" has Never, Ever Come... Not The First Time.

Let's see, the regional sales rep said he'd call back. Nope.
The VP of Marketing said he'd call back. Nope.
The Manager of Sales Reps said he'd call back. Nope.

So, after Dave has called Bush Hog and been Very Polite...btw, I'm proud of Dave because when a man has been lied to That Many Times, it is Very Difficult to be polite. I called Bush Hog and requested the President's name and address. The woman who answered the phone remember my voice...from weeks ago!...and, very politely, said, "may I ask what this is about." I told her I was getting ready to write a lot of letters to a lot of people and organizations and wanted to copy the President. She said, "would you like to speak with him first?"

My mouth dropped open and I mumbled, "well, sure. That would be nice." In a few moments I'm speaking with the President of Bush Hog...the new President of Bush Hog because according to i-net research their personnel is turning over like a rolling stone. I tell him my story and, I'm almost, but not quite, ashamed to say...I cried. You've got to realize, this has been going on almost a YEAR and for a lot of that year, I'm cold, wet, freezing, miserable and exhausted from toting sixty-five to seventy-five bales of hay to the pastures in weather that would freeze one's knickers to their bum should a leakage problem occur.

One thing leads to another and he says, "let me check into this and I'll call you back this afternoon."

Uh oh. My heart sinks to my boots. Where have I heard this before? And from how many people at Bush Hog. Lawzee, I can hardly begin to count the times and folks.

To hasten to the end of this tale...Bush Hog President causes my money to be refunded and the regional sales guy causes the piece of krap Bush Hog to go to another dealer, not back to the plant as promised. But hey, that's no longer my problem. Am I happy with Bush Hog? Nope. Am I happy they refunded my money? Yep. It only took them almost a year to make things right with a customer, thanks Bush Hog President. Out of all the males we dealt with at Bush Hog, you're the only one who Kept Their World and that reflects well on you as a Southern Gentleman. My compliments to your Mama; she done good by you.

Blessings ~ Bush Hog Refunded Our Money...hurrah! ~ the Workhorse...hurrah! ~ warm clothes ~ hay ~ a good husband who takes care of his own ~

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


This is Banjo, the newest member of the family, and came to live with us the morning Dave's mother passed away. We figure he's about four months old and has just about tripled his weight since coming here. Of course, that's fairly easy to do when your menu choice is turkey, ham, roast beef, whole organic milk, half 'n' half or anything but cat food. He's not all that crazy about cat food; thinks it's something the dogs should eat and the dogs agree.

The unicorn continues to fly, happily and bravely, over Thistle Cove Farm. Just ask all the foundlings and strays who have made their way here to live, happily ever after.

For those in the unknow, unicorns are the 'patron saints' of foundlings and strays. If you've read Jeanine McMullen's books, you already know about unicorns. If you've not read My Small Country Holding or Wind in the Ash Tree, you're in for a treat. I read them about once a year and still laugh until I have tears streaming down my face! The things that women got herself into... I hear she still lives in Wales, in the same farmhouse on the same small country holding. God bless her.

Blessings ~ rain ~ warm weather ~ thawed water tanks ~ kittens ~ Banjo ~

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Give-Aways and Farm Life

For some time, I've been thinking of giving something away and that led me to other bloggers who had the same idea.

For example, Edward and Lilly are giving away an adorable hand made Christmas tree bird. I really like this blog as it has some delightful hand work.

Sew, Mama, Sew came up with a great idea - a give-away day but it was on 3 Dec. Doesn't matter to me can still be give-away day and is...

I'm giving away a fabulous knitting book, A Fine Fleece, Knitting with Handspun Yarns by Lisa Lloyd. Clara Parkes wrote the forward and the book is filled with beautiful photos of lovely knitting patterns. A lot of the patterns are cabled, some heavily so, most are traditional, some with a twist and all designed to delight the senses both as reader and as knitter.

Please be sure and leave your e- or blog address; make sure you write it, for example,
appalmtngal at gmail dot com. Better safe than sorry, ya know.

Leave a comment and, if you blog about my give-away, you'll get two entries but you have to let me know your blog address where you've commented. Dave will draw a name out of a hat on 15 December, noon, and it will be mailed in time for Christmas. Having said that, let me hasten to add, it all depends upon the USPS as to whether it will be *delivered* in time for Christmas!

The aforementioned Sew, Mama, Sew also has a great Holidays at Home idea. One thing I love about giving gifts...most of mine are handmade or are tools so the recipient can make their own handmade gift. Handmade is simply better, imho, and gives more than just a store bought "something"; it gives the gift of time, my efforts, my energy, my prayers and as I make something for my friend or family member, I pour good thoughts and prayers into their lives and upon their heads.

Again this year our small quilting group, The Thompson Valley Circle of Friends, are making lap throws, baby blankets and maybe even a quilt or two for valley folks. There's always a lot of need and being warm in these frosty Appalachian mountains is foremost in everyone's mind. There's snow on the ground, a wind chill of around zero and a good time to quilt or sew. Church was called off this morning because of the heavy layer of ice; our congregation is older and there's no need for anyone to slip and, perhaps, break a bone. I took advantage of the extra time to take my time feeding my sheep and horses.

HayJ, my last stallion, was gelded on Friday and appears to be healing quite nicely. He's always wanted to be with the girls and now it's safer for all involved, especially me, to have him gelded. My hope is to have him trained to pull a Meadowbrook cart and he'll look **fabulous**...a black and white American Curly x Percheron pulling a black Meadowbrook! He's a gentle giant, about 18 hands, and weighs about 1800 to 1900 pounds. Trust me, it's better to not have a lot of testosterone about when a horse is that huge. This is HayJ as a younger stallion and the only thing that's changed is his size...he's much larger now.
The temperatures haven't been above freezing in days and any clothes left upon the line are frozen still. Oh, they still wave in the wind but I dare not get close enough to take them down.
I must wait until the wind stops or have my head taken off for my troubles. Evidence enough there's always work to be done, both on the farm and in the home.
Time to do something else; have yourself a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidaze.

Blessings ~ sunshine ~ give-aways ~ work for our hands ~ quilting ~ horses ~ sheep ~ dogs ~ cats ~ and human friends ~

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Christmas - Carpe Diem

Don't blink, don't breath, don't look's DECEMBER and just about TWENTY DAYS until CHRISTMAS. Yes, I'm screaming!

Oh, I'm completely and totally ready for's the gift giving that's got me bamboozled. I'm still stitching my fingers to the bone and see almost absolutely no signs of progress.

On top of that...we've got company this weekend so have got to feed and house people. Wonder if they could just plunder for what they need while I run away? As long as they make sure the animals are fed and my chores are done...sounds like a plan to me.

Mary Lois, my beloved friend, send me Christmas gifts in the mail this week. GRRRRRR. She's SO prepared; she should have been a girl scout. Her gift has been bought but now needs to be sewn's a two-parter gift. Buy the materials then sew them together. Just like all the rest of my gifts except some are actually finished and ready to be wrapped.

So...carpe diem...I think I'll sign off this computer and get to work.

In the meantime, please check out Cedar Pond...linked to my blog. A Cedar Pond visit is calming, soothing, refreshing, relaxing AND she has recipes!

God's blessings on you, yours and the work of your hands and heart.

Merry Christmas.

Blessings ~ Christmas ~ good blogs ~ good friends ~ computers ~ heart and art ~
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