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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.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Vintage Keeping, DIM

 ~ vintage table and chairs ~
This do it myself (DIM - haha) project has been on my to do list for a while. We have two chairs that are vintage, gently swivel and rock and are a delight to the body. When we got them, there were already old and painted bright yellow, matching their cushions. Shortly after they came to the farm, I painted them sage green and they've been sage green for more than fifteen years. Recently, I decided the chairs and a round, thirty-six inch table should all be painted black. The table, also vintage and bought for a song almost twenty-five years ago, was then painted white but, along with the chairs, I painted everything sage green. We've enjoyed the sage green color but it was time, some say past time (smile), for a change. The paint is quite dry on the table but I was in a hurry to take photos and will probably give it another top coat just to make sure the sage green doesn't shine through.
  ~ a trifle tired but still serviceable ~
 Dave and I have enjoyed many pleasant hours sitting in these chairs, at the round table, as we gazed down the valley. As whim dictates, I move the chairs and table from back porch to front porch and back again and it's all due to the comfort level of these chairs. I wish I had two more! 
 ~ wildflowers picked alongside the mountain road ~
Lately, mornings have been extremely foggy, so much so, visibility is less than one hundred feet and driving is slow going. The McCoy vase I've had so long I can't remember any details...whether I bought it or someone gave it to's my favorite though and, generally, there are always flowers in it. Today they are wild Queen Anne's lace, wild sweet pea and a few fern leaves. Perhaps there are those who would decry such an arrangement, because preferring roses, orchids or other hot house type flowers. Around here, we prefer the untamed beauty of nature because it fits our lifestyle and wild flowers are sturdy and have been around much longer than we. The flower arrangement follows us around - sun room to kitchen to back porch to front porch. That vase is so well traveled the next step will be to apply for a passport!

The Shabby Chic Cottage is hosting a Thursday DIY party and, since I haven't anything else to do, I'm partying along with everyone else. Please visit her blog, it's purty, and check out the other party goers.

It's time to feed the crowd, man and beastie alike, so will say good-bye for now. We've passed the high point of the year and are slowly sliding toward shorter days. Yes, I do notice these things. It's hard not to when I'm awake and out of bed before the sun rises and I begrudge the shortening of sun light. God forgive me but I do.

Blessings ~ DIM projects (are there any other kind?) ~ breathing deeply of pure, clean air ~ sunshine and clouds in the sky ~ sturdy, beautiful furniture ~ wildflowers ~

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tidbit Tuesday - Blueberry Brown Bread

~ Blueberry Brown Bread ~
Lately, I've had a hankering for brown bread, even before Penny sent the poem below. Here's my recipe:

Brown Bread

1 cups white flour
1.5 cups wheat flour
one half cup toasted wheat germ
1 tsp baking soda
one half teaspoon salt
1 cup whole buttermilk
1 cup dark molasses
one half cup dried fruit – pineapple, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, raisins, etc.
one half cup nuts – pecans, walnuts or mix of the two, although I like pecans better

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and oil a loaf bread pan.
Combine dry ingredients and mix well with wet ingredients, batter will be very stiff.
Add fruit and nuts; we don't like raisins so I use other dried fruit, as desired.
Bake about 55 to 60 minutes or until done when checked with a toothpick.
Let bread stand for ten minutes then turn out to cool almost completely.

Serve warm bread with salty butter and home made jam or cream cheese. Care to guess which I suggest? Yeah, bread is supposed to be cooled thoroughly but I don't visit that world much less live there. What's the use of baking fresh bread if you can't break the "rule" and eat it warm? No use at all, I say!

This morning I used frozen blueberries and the bread was delicious! Just a touch of sweetness, thanks to the molasses, and a lot of heft, thanks to the whole wheat and toasted wheat germ. I like a bread that's sturdy, brown and filled with goodness and this recipe fits the bill more than quite nicely. Try it and let me know what you think.

By the way, if you use fresh fruit, dust the fruit with a bit of white sugar or flour. That keeps the fruit from sinking to the bottom as it bakes. This morning, the frozen blueberries were added at the last stir, into a very stiff batter and that kept them in place throughout the batter. 

Perhaps you've guessed, I cook by touch, taste and my eyes. I think I've been cooking so long, 45 years now as well as I enjoy reading cookbooks for pleasure, that cooking is, mostly, intuitive. Even baking which is supposed to be more "keeping to the letter of the recipe" than stove top cooking. Food is forgiving and mistakes, generally, can always be salvaged. If the above recipe hadn't worked for me, I'd have sliced and toasted it then served it with sweetened whipped cream and fresh blueberries. YUM! There's always a way...
~ my latest treasure ~
I mentioned I visited Aunt Esther last week; we always go "downtown" for lunch. After lunch, we visited the old 5 and Dime which is also now an antique shop. For years, Dave has listened to me harp on how I'd love to find an old tractor seat and turn it into a stool. Many decades ago, I had an old commercial milk bucket but, along the way, someone nipped it. Anyway, at the 5 and Dime I found the above...a tractor seat attached to an old commercial milk bucket, and, in my favorite farm colors, John Deere green and yellow! As they say, SCORE!  As I say, thank you, Father; I love it!
Penny sent the following poem; does it speak to you in simple and quiet joy? It does to me!
I Have Found Such Joy
"I have found such joy in simple things;
A plain clean room , a nut-brown loaf of bread,
A cup of milk, a kettle as it sings,
The shelter of a roof above my head,
And in a leaf-laced square along a floor,
Where yellow sunlight glimmers through a door.

I have found such joys in things that fill
My quiet days: a curtain's blowing grace,
A potted plant upon my window sill,
A rose fresh-cut and placed within a vase,
A table cleared, a lamp beside a chair,
And books I long have loved beside me there."

And, from Ethel Romig Fuller comes Proof

"I have spread wet linen
On lavender bushes,
I have swept rose petals
From a garden walk.
I have labeled jars of raspberry jam,
I have baked a sunshine cake;
I have embroidered a yellow duck
On a small blue frock.
I have polished andirons,
Dusted the highboy,
Cut sweet peas for a black bowl,
Wound the tall clock,
Pleated a lace ruffle…
I have lived a poem."

and finally...

...when the Day of Judgment dawns and people, great and small, come marching in to receive their heavenly rewards, the Almighty will gaze upon the mere bookworms and say to Peter, 'Look, these need no reward. We have nothing to give them. They have loved reading.'”
~ Virginia Woolf ~
 ~ 3 monkeys in front of my studio ~
With love, from Thistle Cove Farm, where we live a poem each and every day; bless His name!

Blessings ~ poetry ~ poets ~ brown bread ~ home churned butter ~ home made jam ~ JOY ~

Monday, June 27, 2011

Monday is Laundry Day

~ first load ~
Remember the old adage, "Wash on Monday, Iron on Tuesday, Mend on Thursday, Churn on Thursday, Clean on Friday, Bake on Saturday, Rest on Sunday?" Or, some know it as Monday - Wash, Tuesday - Iron, Wednesday - Sew, Thursday - Shop, Friday - Clean, Saturday - Bake, Sunday - Rest.

Here, at Thistle Cove Farm, we keep to such a schedule but with changes that suit our lifestyle. Especially as I'm now the main only farm hand, washer woman, baker, cleaner, ironer, churner, shopper but we all rest on Sunday. No, wait, that's not quite right; Dave is strong enough to help with cooking...thank you God! and Daniel helps with the garden and heavy chores like haying. Daniel has been down with his back this past week so it's been a heavy load; at least, what's been accomplished has been a heavy load, the rest of it just hasn't been done and you know what? I haven't noticed the world has stopped spinning on its axis, not a whit. 

Anyway, there was method to such madness as having a particular day to do house work. On Monday, the wife would be all rested from Sunday so the fire preparation, heavy lifting of wet clothes and so on would have been easier than had she waited until later in the week. Mildred Smith tells it in far better detail than I'm going into but beware, you'll probably want to take a nap when you've finished reading! Tuesday's ironing, naturally, followed Monday's wash and mending clean clothes just made sense. Read how the Ingalls' family did that was work!

Growing up, I remember Mom cleaning the house and grocery shopping on Saturday while, in the spring and summer at least, Daddy worked the garden every night after work and on Saturday. Sunday was reserved for church and rest and we always had a large Sunday dinner...which is what is known as lunch now. Daddy and Mom's kin who had farms always had their large meal in the middle of the day, which was dinner, and a smaller meal of whatever was left at supper time. Dave and I try to keep to that but, generally, we also fail. Like tonight, Daniel is coming to help us and we'll eat supper as our large meal while today, lunch will be the smaller meal. It's best not to be too wedded to things as change is the only constant in our lives; much easier to be fluid in life, wouldn't you agree?

Now, I work the garden in early hours before it gets so hot and I've fed my animals, inspected water troughs, etc. shortly thereafter. Monday is still laundry day around here and that's one chore I do enjoy. There's something about having a washing machine in lieu of a fire and kettle that really works for me. I enjoy hanging my laundry out just so because it cuts down on a lot of work later...such as ironing. I enjoy ironing, truly!, but try to keep it an a necessary minimum. Aunt Gin, long departed these many years, would iron everything...sheets, pillow cases, table cloths, trousers, shirts, dresses, bras, panties...those last items made me shake my head in wonder... Can you even imagine? I can't and I was there!
~ pants pegged upside down ~
This week won't find me finishing laundry today but I've got a good start. The pants are pegged upside down because it reduces wrinkles although it's difficult to tell from this photo. Every so often, I "finger iron" them, straightening and pulling them snugly to pull out the wrinkles. These are just pants I wear to work around the farm or run to town so they don't have to be totally wrinkle free. Besides, just as soon as I put them on, trust me...the wrinkles will smooth out a bit more (wry grin).
~ drying clothes on a hot, sunny day ~

Shirts are, usually, hung by the seams where the shoulder and sleeve meet. If a shirt is knitted material, they are turned upside down and hung from the bottoms so I don't get that annoying pucker on the top. 

Good tips - 

- Prior to washing, separate clothes into separate loads - whites, darks, delicates 

- Pretreat stains with anything from lemon juice, salt, Quick 'n Brite, Shout...whatever you like best. If your clothes are really dirty, you might consider an overnight soak. When I do an overnight soak, I use Biz (visit their site for a $2 coupon) and, sometimes, add 20 Mule Team Borax

- As an aside, if you've problems with ants in your house, sprinkle a line of borax around their entry; the ants won't cross Borax and your ant problem will cease. Additionally, Borax is a natural and safe product and has been in use for more than one hundred years.

- Unless my clothes are extremely dirty, I wash in cold water and use a detergent suitable for cold water. That used to be liquid Tide but no longer; they use a nasty blue dye that has ruined several blouses so I've changed detergents. I'm getting ready to make my own detergent but in the meantime, I'm using one made from coconut and it's working well.

- While the machine is filling with water and detergent, I sort my clothes; when the machine is about half way full, the clothes are arranged around the agitator so they don't all pile up on one side. 

- Do use a laundry dye magnet - there are several on the market but they are all, somewhat, expensive. You could use Shout Color Catcher (visit their site for a free sample) but white vinegar works and it softens clothes.

- Never fill the washing machine full; you'll get better results, iow, cleaner laundry, if you don't overload the machine. 

- Never use the recommended amount of detergent...never! There's no need, all it does is leave an annoying residue in your clothes and waste detergent and money. I use about one-third to one-half the recommended amount and my clothes are always squeaky clean.

- Don't use softener as it never rinses completely out of your clothes and, eventually,  softener will make your towels not absorb that's very annoying!

- Don't use the dryer but hang your clothes on a line as it's less expensive and your clothes smell much, much nicer. When the weather isn't hot and sunny, I use a drying rack inside which releases moisture into the house...especially nice in the winter months! If I have to use the dryer, I toss in a couple of dryer balls and they both cut down on the time needed to dry my clothes and soften the laundry in the same manner as fabric softener. Don't overload the dryer either and, about once a month, take the vacuum and clean out the dryer vent both to the machine and to the outside. You'd be surprised at the lint buildup and that's a fire hazard.

When you dry clothes on a line, use a clean rag cloth to wipe down your clothesline. Run the cloth down the line and back again and be amazed at the dirt you won't get on your clothes. Your clothes are dry so fold them, nicely and neatly, straight from the line into the basket. Heavier clothes on the bottom, lighter clothes on the top. When you bring them inside, immediately hang up those that need to be hung up. Again, you're preventing wrinkles and unnecessary ironing. Around here, I'm also preventing one of the animals from taking a warm, cozy nap in my clean laundry (smile). 

Too much information so if you're still reading, have a iced coffee. I'm just home from visiting Aunt Esther, she's fragile as humming bird but, at 93, she's still living on her own and tending to her own business. I can only hope and pray to do as well should I live as long! Look for me to visit your blog sometime this week; probably after dark as chores are calling during the day light hours. You know those bloggers who say, "be blessed"? All fine and good but I admonish you to "be a blessing" instead; we're all already more blessed than about most of the world's population.

Blessings ~ clean laundry ~ loving family ~ iced coffee ~

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sabbath Keeping

~ praise to God ~
"How many are your works, O Lord! 
In wisdom you made them all; 
the earth is full of your creatures."
~ Psalms 104:24 ~

"Christian life means a walking; it goes by steps. There is a straight fence run for us between right and wrong. There is no sitting on that fence. No, only walking, one side or other. You can hardly look across without stepping through." ~ R. W. Barbour ~

"If we only have the will to walk, 
then God is pleased with our stumbles." 
~ C. S. Lewis ~

"Very often a change of self is needed more than a change of scene." ~ A. C. Benson ~

"Christianity is not a theory or speculation, but a life; 
not a philosophy of life, but a living presence." 
~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge ~

"I have a great need for Christ; 
I have a great Christ for my need." 
~ Charles H. Spurgeon ~

"The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. 
It has been found difficult and left untried."
~ G. K. Chesterton ~

"You can give without loving. 
But you cannot love without giving." 

"People need loving the most when they deserve it the least." ~ John Harrison ~

"If you live close to God
And His infinite grace,
You don't have to tell;
It shows on your face." 
~ unknown ~

"I am willing..." ~ Matthew 8:3 ~

 If you'd like your name added to the prayer list, please let me know.

Prayer Keeping ~ Liz and her sons ~ William and Catherine ~ Leslie ~ Becky ~ Rick ~Misha ~ J ~ Linda ~ Linda and Skip ~ Ryan ~ Roy ~ Tonya ~ Dave ~ me ~

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tidbit Tuesday - Coffee Cubes

~ coffee cubes in the making ~
Do you ever have left over coffee? If you're like me, you hate throwing money down the drain or in the trash, so don't! These cute little ice cube trays were purchased at the end of the season last year; I think for about twenty-five or fifty cents each. When Dave and I have left over coffee in the mornings, I fill up the ice cube trays, freeze them and then serve with iced coffee later in the week. Like today. It's in the 80's and hot, hot hot! As they thaw, they don't dilute my coffee drink but add to the flavor and when company comes, it's a nicely added touch that says "special".

Another can, of course, go through a lot of gyrations to make your iced coffee but there's no need. For a twelve cup pot of coffee, add a pint of your favorite flavored cream...instant flavored iced coffee and in the flavor you enjoy! 

Blessings ~ iced coffee ~ coffee cubes ~ flavored cream ~ saving money ~

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sabbath Keeping

 ~ put on a happy face ~
 "And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children 
and the hearts of children to their fathers, ..."
~ Malachi 4:6 ~
"A father is always making his baby into a little woman.  And when she is a woman he turns her back again."  ~ Enid Bagnold ~
"A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, 
and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society." 
~ Billy Graham ~

"When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around.  But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years." ~ Mark Twain ~

"The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother."
~ Theodore Hesburgh, 
Catholic Priest and President Emeritus 
of the University of Notre Dame ~

"My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard.  Mother would come out and say, "You're tearing up the grass."  "We're not raising grass," Dad would reply.  "We're raising boys."  ~ Harmon Killebrew ~

"There's something like a line of gold thread running through a man's words when he talks to his daughter, and gradually over the years it gets to be long enough for you to pick up in your hands and weave into a cloth that feels like love itself."
~ John Gregory Brown, Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery, 1994 ~

"It is easier for a father to have children than for children to have a real father."
~ Pope John XXIII ~

"No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me 
and have believed that I came from God. 
~ John 16:27 ~

 If you'd like your name added to the prayer list, please let me know.

Prayer Keeping ~ Liz and her sons ~ William and Catherine ~ Leslie ~ Becky ~ Rick ~Misha ~ J ~ Linda ~ Linda and Skip ~ Ryan ~ Roy ~ Tonya ~ Dave ~ me ~

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Road Less Traveled

~ the road less traveled ~
In spite of...perhaps despite...everything that has to be done to get ready for the picnic on Saturday, I ran away from home. Sleeping, eating, resting, relaxing; having nothing to do other than what I want is a blessing and a gift. Life on the farm is put on hold, chores left undone, fleeces left unshipped --- it's time to take a short while to recharge my batteries.

The picnic is Saturday and I'll be home in good enough time to have everything ready. Do not worry.

You concentrate on deciding and fixing your best dish. 'K?
Blessings ~ sleep ~ sleep ~ sleep ~

Restfully yours,

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sabbath Keeping

~ morning breaks again ~
"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." 
~ Genesis 1:1 ~

"O God Who Shaped Creation

O God who shaped creation 
At earth's chaotic dawn,
Your word of power was spoken,
and lo! the dark was gone!
You framed us in your image,
You brought us into birth,
You blessed our infant footsteps
And shared your splendored earth

O God, with pains and anguish
A mother sees her child
Embark on deadened pathways,
Alluring, but defiled;
So too your heart is broke
When hate and lust increase,
When words you birthed and nurtured
Spurn ways that lead to peace.

Although your heart is broken
When people scorn your ways,
You never cease your searching
Through evil's darksome maze;
And when we cease our running,
Your joys, O God, abound
Like joy of searching woman
When treasured coin is found.

O God, when trinkets tarnish
And pleasures lose their charm,
When, wearied by our wandering,
We seek your opened arm,
With motherlike compassion
You share your warm embrace;
You set for us a banquet
And heal us through your grace.

In mercy and compassion
Your goodness is revealed;
With tenderness you touch us,
And broken hearts are healed.
You claim us as your children,
You strip our prideful shame;
With freedom born of mercy,
We bless your holy name!"

"Come unto me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."
~ Jesus ~
 If you'd like your name added to the prayer list, please let me know.

Prayer Keeping ~ Liz and her sons ~ William and Catherine ~ Leslie ~ Becky ~ Rick ~Misha ~ J ~ Linda ~ Linda and Skip ~ Ryan ~ Roy ~ Tonya ~ Dave ~ me ~

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Counting Time in Heartbeats

~ best buds ~
When I was six, my Granddaddy passed away from pancreatic cancer. It was November in Appalachia West Virginia and that meant cold, wet, raw, rainy as well as clear, crisp, brittle. For the funeral, it was clear, crisp, brittle and I remember wandering around that big ole farmhouse, watching the grown-ups talk in quiet whispers, wipe tears with cotton handkerchiefs, drink gallons of coffee , nibble at food set on Grandmother's hand made by Granddaddy kitchen table. That big farmhouse kitchen was kept warm by Grandmother's cast iron and white enamel cook stove. In a place of honor, as befitting something that provided nourishment both in warmth and in food, the cook stove sat in the center of one outside wall. I remember Daddy, the baby boy of thirteen children, wandering around that kitchen, untethered, confusion written across his face; sorrow grief mixed mingling until he looked a pale imitation of someone else. Mom, taking him aside in a corner of that big kitchen, but with me standing nearby as little pitchers have big ears, said to him, “Jim, go to the orchard and get it out of your system. You need to cry, go cry.” Immediately, he walked out the back door, headed for the orchard and returned, later, red eyed, nose sniffling, shoulders pinned back, better ready to face the rest.

That weekend is one of my earliest childhood memories that's absolutely crystal clear, and, over the years, I've thought of it often especially when I, or someone else, needed permission. “Permission for what?”, you ask. Permission for any-everything: to be happy, to be sad, to laugh, to cry, to buy chocolate or a new lipstick or shirt, take a vacation. We humans are bound by our own limitations and giving/receiving permission un-tethers us to fly higher, as high as our souls are comfortable yet always going higher the next time as we gain stability in ourselves, our gifts, our blessings, our God.
~ my heartbeat ~
Years later, after a very long, debilitating illness, my cousin passed away. I called his wife to express my condolences and she said, “Thank you but you know...we're terminal from the first breath.” That caught me by surprise; the shocking truth of reality. Like most, I'd managed to keep death at bay or, at least, in a tidy little place seldom visited. I'd go to funerals, both family and friends, as I consider it duty, responsibility and my gift to them. So many people don't go to funerals  selfish curs  and I know that's being hard but not as hard as it is for those who have lost a loved one. They are the ones we button up and go to show our support, speak a kind word, offer up a prayer with our arms wrapped around them. Is it difficult? Well, I want to say an expletive and then YES! but so is life difficult, why should death be any different?

It's a struggle to live in the time between the dash, at least it is for me. You know. The dash between the date of birth and the date of death. There are days of glory, full of hope, expectation, beauty, peace, happiness, joy; then there are the days of other. Those other days have hope, expectation, beauty, peace, happiness, joy but are overshadowed by the knowledge we can, never again, have that first breath, and the last breath waits, patiently we hope.
~ golden hours abound ~
Lately, I've been overwhelmed by the other. Because Dave has cancer, he and I now belong to a club that has dragged us, totally against our wills, kicking and screaming, into membership. I wouldn't wish this journey on my worst enemy. I can't begin to tell you how many people have put both feet in their mouths when they've run into me, saw that I saw them and couldn't turn and run the other direction. Oh, I don't blame them but it still hurts like slicing the end of a finger hurts while chopping onions. Double hurt, if you understand my meaning. Like I said, it's difficult but if you want someone to be there for you, it behooves you to be there for them.

Listen up. Cancer is not n.o.t. contagious! None of us knows for whom the bell tolls; none of us know when our last breath will arrive but when a person has such an illness, that last breath is a bit closer, a bit more precious than it was when going blithely along, secure in the knowledge we'd live forever, or knowing, at least, death was a distant, distant event. Recently, someone told me “it's a roller coaster ride, out of control.” To that I'd add, totally out of control and we don't even have a darned seat belt!

Lately, I've needed permission. A lot of permission! Permission to cry, permission to grieve, to take care of myself, to exercise, to eat, to sleep, even to breath. Perhaps, especially to breath. So, I give myself...and YOU as well...blanket permission: to do whatever it is we need to do but, especially, to remember to allow the heart rhythms to keep time.

In the midst of being overwhelmed, my heartbeat keeps count of time...time lived, time living and time future. My heart reminds me life is about living and death is a part of living but, most importantly, it's about eternity. I'm one heartbeat away from sitting near the throne, joining those who have gone before, such a great cloud of witnesses who loved me enough to tell me about Jesus.

Daddy says, “I'm ready to go but I'm not homesick.” 
As am I.
I'm counting time by heartbeats, how about you?
Blessings ~ family ~ faith ~ home ~ Jesus ~ permission ~ a great cloud of witnesses ~ 

yours in heartbeat time,

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Summer Reading List and Giveaway

~ my cache of Mrs. Taber's books ~
From The House of Edward Pamela asks: what does your summer book list look like?

I adore reading and have from my fifth year when I discovered the newspaper. How exciting it was to read the newspaper. It amazed me then, and amazes me still, how people would put the most personal information for the entire world to read and know! Over the years, it's gotten even worse in all media; now, you can know things about people that, frankly, aren't worth knowing and can eat up your most precious commodity: time.

But, as usual, I digress.

My summer reading includes all of my Gladys Taber books:
Spring Harvest, Another Path, Stillmeadow Sampler; Still Cove Journal, Still meadow Seasons and Stillmeadow Album. When I finish those, I may read her cookbook although that's not as interesting to me. Her cookbook was written at the onset of packaged products and I don't use a lot of packaged food; no Jello or processed foods around here...for the most part. Although, Dave enjoys things I don't eat, such as deviled ham, Vi-enner Sausages -as children we used to say-, Kraft Mac 'n thank you, none of that for me or, not, at least, until I get a lot hungrier!

Other books on the list:
 ~ first five on list ~
We Took To The Woods by Louise Dickinson Rich – In the early 1930's, Mrs. Rich and her husband went "back to the land" in rural Maine. This is a great read, written by someone with a tremendous sense of humor and self. A role model for those of us who are brave enough to celebrate our selves as women and wives. ouch. Did I just lose someone?

All for a Few Perfect Waves – The Audacious Life and Legend of Rebel Surfer Miki Dora by David Rensin - “Da Cat” Dora was king of Malibu surfers for a couple of decades back in the day...1950's and 1960's. If you've ever seen the 1966 movie Endless Summer...a classic!... Miki Dora was featured. He was also in his fair share of beach party surf movies but none of them personified surfing and the beach like Endless Summer. It certainly made an impression on me and I didn't see it until a few years after its release. “Da Cat” lived a life that, frankly, I'd tan the breeches of any child of mine...were I to have any...should try. He lived on the outside edges of the law and, in the nicest terms available, could, probably, be called a grifter or hustler or con artist. In the 1970's he led the FBI and Interpol on a merry seven year chase around the world. It makes for great reading, especially for those of us “of a certain age” and who can remember...back in the day.

little princes – One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal by Conor Grennan – long, long ago in a country far away, children were given, in good faith, to child traffickers who promised the parents their children would be taken to safety. For a sum of money, of course. As it turns out, a vast sum of money from people already too poor to buy food. But this was their children and for their children they came up with the money so their children could be taken to safety. Their babies. Away from the clutches of Maoist rebels who, during the decade-long civil war from 1996 to 2006, would see more than thirteen thousand lives destroyed. 13,000 people killed. 13,000!
So, parents came up with the extortion money exorbitant sums of money, handed over both money and their children, and rested, secure in the knowledge, their children would be safe from Maoist rebels. But, after taking both children and money, the traffickers would abandon the children, some as young as three years of age, in Kathmandu, Nepal's capital. There's a special place in hades reserved for those who hurt other others or animals.
Within the first nine pages, I was laughing myself silly and knew I would love this book. This is a man who doesn't take himself very seriously but takes his work extremely seriously. In short, a man confident with self and knowing he can make a difference in this frosty ole world and hurrying to do so as fast as he can. If you want to know more, visit Next Generation Nepal.

The Complete Practical Encyclopedia of Archaeology published by Hermes House – Archaeology and history fascinate me and armchair archaeology is how I scratch the itch. While this book is impressive, I am not impressed. Or, at least, not as impressed as I would be had Carahunge, Armenia been included. Carahunge predates Stonehenge by four thousand years and is Very Impressive. It's one of the wildest places on earth I've ever been and I'd go back in a NY second!
Again, I digress...sorreee...the Encyclopedia of Archaeology has lots of full color photos and detailed information on both archaeology and sites around the world. Really great book that I won't read word for word but will peruse as a travelogue – for pure pleasure.

If Trouble Don't Kill Me – A Family's Story of Brotherhood, War, and Bluegrass by Ralph Berrier, Jr. - Clayton and Saford Hall, bastard brothers, born in The Hollow...although there's no doubt in my mind it would have been called The Holler...I may not know much but I do know my Appalachian dialects!...but, back in the day, meaning 1930's and 1940's, they became legends of the airwaves. They opened for such acts as the Carter Family, Roy Rogers, the Sons of the Pioneers and played the Grand Ole Opry.

Okay, here's an aside and tale told on me. When I grew up, my Granddaddy played fiddle and, of course, listened to The Grand Ole Opry. As did we all but Mom, his daughter, also listened to Big Band which I also adore to this day. Anyway, I was eighteen years...or older...before I realized that all those bands on the radio...the Beatles, Jefferson Airplane, Stone Ponies, etc. weren't real. Meaning, aha! you guessed it...they weren't all standing just yon-side the spotlight, on the side lines and waiting for their turn to go on the air. I remember my girlfriend hootin' and hollerin' because she thought I was dumb as a box of rocks. Me? Well, I thought it made sense then and think it makes sense now. After all, my standard was The Grand Ole Opry and that's the way the Opry folks did it so that must be the way it should be done!

Back to “Trouble” and on the flyleaf: “Making moonshine, working blue-collar jobs, picking fights in bars, chasing women, and living hardscrabble lives... “
Oh yeah. This is going to be a really good read!
~ hmmm, do you see a food theme? ~
Wicked – The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire – Dave and I have seen the play, twice, once a road company in Charlotte, NC and once in London. Both times great and both times I walked out amazed at how perception can be reality. It boggles my mind, then and now, and I only hope I enjoy the book as much as the play. Actually, it's a troublesome concept, I don't mind telling you, it is!

Poems For All Purposes – the selected poems of G. K. Chesterton – Edited and introduced by Stephen Medcalf – W. H. Auden said it best, “I cannot think of a single comic poem by Chesterton that is not a triumphant success.” From The Vision of the King, Book 1, “Her face was like an open word...”.

For sheer fun, I'll read Ree Drummond's, The Pioneer Woman Cooks. She's a ton of fun and her recipes are excellent.  

And, the Blue Ribbon Recipes - 693 Award-Winners From America's State and Country Fairs by Barbara Greenman. An unwanted library book finds a welcome home with me!

The Magic Apple Tree: A Country Year by Susan Hill was picked up in a charity shop in London last year. I adore memoirs, especially those written by women and those written by women farmers.

keeping the feast - One Couple's Story of Love, Food, and Healing in Italy by Paula Butturini might be a hard read but it's going to be a good read. Two days before Christmas, 1989, a sniper bullet nearly kills her husband during the Romanian uprising. The bullet wound, infection and a long slide into depression exposes both sides of the family history of depression. Still with me? Mrs. Butturini becomes pregnant at age 45. What shines through is family and, in the end, that's what matters. Famiglia.

For sheer escapism fun, nothing beats Lee Child's Jack Reacher series. Good guy wins, bad guy loses. If only life were, always, that way!
I think I'll re-listen to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows - Bar none, this is the best audio book I've ever heard! I've never read the book and, frankly, don't feel it would do justice as the audio is read in dialect by the various letter writers. It's an amazing book, full of pathos, love, hatred, hope, fear, short, the stuff of l.i.f.e.  Please, do NOT read this book. Please, listen to this book, then, let me know if you think it as wonderful as do I and don't buy your library! 
Lest we forget... 
 ~ perhaps this is yours...? ~
If you're with me still, here's a book giveaway, yours for the commenting and according to Monday, June 13, 9:00 in the morning, someone will win my 1984 edition of Classics to Read Aloud to Your Children by William F. Russell. There are selections from Shakespeare, Twain, Dickens, O. Henry, Aesop, Homer, Longfellow, Kipling, Tennyson and many more. All you have to do is comment but, if you're so inclined, please tell me what you're reading; inquiring minds want to know.

If you'd like a second entry, tell others about this giveaway, especially those with children or grands. Reading to children is such a lovely way to encourage a love of reading and, let's face it, when you love to read, you're always surrounded by friends.

Blessings ~ reading ~ listening ~ books ~ 

Yours, for the love of reading,

Monday, June 06, 2011

Susan Branch and Gladys Taber

~ Susan's coconut cake ~
Are you familiar with Susan Branch? No? Oh, then you need to hurry along and visit with her for a while. A good long while. She makes the most delightful art into lots of useful, beautiful things and her calendars have adorned my walls for many years; she adds a lot of happy to my day!
~ June calendar page ~
Her calendars are filled with tidbits of beautifully decorated pages, full of useful information. I keep them...always, both for the information I write on them but, especially, for their charming loveliness. The coconut cake photo, above, is from Susan's May 16th entry and was made for a friend. The part I like best...she found the cake pans and the vintage mixer in an antique shop! I don't lust after the mixer, I have a similar one but in black and silver, however I am seriously envious of the cake pans. I adore cake pans that are stacked and have never had any.
~ Susan's stacked cake pans ~
Each pan is a trifle smaller, or larger depending upon how you look at it -smile-, and makes a stacked, tiered cake. I love this! For years, I've been known as the "Pie Lady" because I make pies for community events, suppers, church suppers, for visiting folks, etc. Now, I'd like to shake it up a bit and become known as the "Cake Lady". Come to think of it, for years I've also been known as the "Sheep Lady". People in town don't really know my name but they know one of my titles; how funny!

So, does anyone know where similar cake pans may be purchased? Please... I love making cakes but am not crazy about the cakes that are the same size. I know, I know...just plain silly but there you have it.

Susan and I both hold Gladys Taber in high esteem and we both have a tidy little collection of Mrs. Taber's books. Mrs. Taber was born a day after me, fifty-four years earlier, in Colorado and Mrs. Taber and Susan share the same birth day. Mrs. Taber was graduated at both Wellesley, 1920, and Lawrence College, 1921 and later taught English and Writing at, among other places, Randolph Macon Women's College in Lynchburg, VA, just down the road from Thistle Cove Farm! I'm a big fan of library book sales or thrift store book sections and it was one or the other where I first found Stillmeadow just outside Southbury, CN. Do be aware when you visit the Stillmeadow link, it's woefully outdated. I do wonder if they managed to save it from developers? As Joni Mitchell once sang, "they paved Paradise and put up a parking lot...oh, you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone..." So true and so sad.

Mrs. Taber and a friend, along with all their children, moved from their tiny, for the most part, walk-up NYC apartments, leaving their husbands to work in the city and visit on the weekends. After a while of searching, they found Stillmeadow. Granted, it was in need of a bit of work but the price was lower than market value because the former owner had shot his wife and then turned the gun on himself.

Mrs. Taber wrote in one of her books,  "The furnace was broken but we didn't know it. It had kind of rusted away, we were told afterward. We also did not know how hard it is to manage a Yule log with a dull axe. In fact there were many things we did not know. Even if we had, I think we would have gone ahead just as recklessly.... our basic equipment... consisted of a staggering fortitude and no common sense. But we didn't know it then."

Gladys and Jill, the name in the book she gave her BFF Eleanor, began renovating the house. What they learned, post haste, was "the fatal truth about every sink, toilet, and tub in the house. "Well, one could not expect a man to drain the pipes before shooting his wife," said Jill. "He didn't think of it." "Don't you just love that Yankee pragmatism?", I ask gleefully!

I cannot begin to think how many times I've turned to Mrs. Taber's books for companionship, friendship, comfort, encouragement and to read extremely well written literature. Well, one would expect no less from an English and Writing major, eh? The location of Stillmeadow Farm was in Still Cove, I believe; I wonder if that was in the back of my mind when we found our farm in the Cove in Tazewell, VA? That's certainly one reason we chose Thistle Cove Farm; we had a boatload of thistles, it was in the Cove and it's a farm. I'm so silly and simple! -smile-
~ my Taber books ~

My little collection of books include: The Stillmeadow Road, Stillmeadow Sampler, Stillmeadow Seasons, Stillmeadow Album, Still Cove Journal, Spring Harvest and Another Path. I also have one of her cookbooks which is a joyful addition.

There is a Friends of Gladys Taber Club but, for some quirky reason, the link won't open for me. Frustrating because I'd dearly love to join that small but faithful group.

At your earliest convenience, please visit Susan Branch and plan on spending some time delightful visiting her site, copying her delicious recipes and just plain enjoying yourself. If you're so inclined, sign up for her newsletter, Willard, here. The following quote is from one of her pages:

"Women sit or move to and fro, some old, some young. 
The young are beautiful ~ but the old are more beautiful than the young." 
~ Walt Whitman ~
My gifts to you today are lots of happy, Susan Branch -who graciously said yes when asked if I could use her photos, thank you, Susan!-, Gladys Taber, coconut cake, cake pans and beauty. I need a lot of that in my life; it's been difficult, extremely difficult lately, and each day has been an enormous struggle. Aren't we blessed there are people like Susan Branch and Gladys Taber in this ole frosty world? They spread happy in abundance and bless our lives with their gifts. Thank you!

"But in this season, it is well to reassert that the hope 
of mankind rests in faith.
~ As a man thinketh, so he is ~
Nothing much happens unless you believe in it.
and believing there is hope for the world 
is a way to move toward it."
~ Gladys Taber ~

Blessings ~ happy ~ joy ~ Susan Branch ~ Gladys Taber ~ coconut cake ~ good books ~ a heart that heals ~ a heart that hopes ~

hopefully yours,

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Sabbath Keeping

 ~ the road home ~
"The Lord is the everlasting God,
The creator of the ends of the earth,
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom,
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength,
They will soar on wings like eagles,
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint."
~ Isaiah 40:28-31 ~
"Go forth to meet the solemnities and to conquer the trials of existence, believing in a Shepherd of your souls. Then faith in Him will support you in duty, and duty finely done will strengthen faith; till at last, when all is over here, and the noise and strife of the earthly battle fades upon your dying ear, and you hear, instead thereof, the deep and musical sound of the ocean of eternity, and see the lights of heaven shining on its waters still and fair in their radiant rest, your faith will raise the song of conquest. and in its retrospect of the life which has ended, and its forward glance upon the life to come, take up the poetic inspiration of the Hebrew king. "Surely goodness and mercy have followed me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
~ Stopford A. Brooke ~

"Give us grace and strength to forbear and to perservere, 
Give us courage and gaiety and the quiet mind,
Spare to us our friends,
Soften to us our enemies."
~ Robert Louis Stevenson ~

" pick up the pieces of our lives and go on living, we have to get over the irrational feeling that every misfortune is our fault. ...We are really not that powerful. Not everything that happens in the world is our doing." ~ Rabbi Harold Kushner ~

"For God says, "When you are dry, empty, sick, or weak, at such a time is your prayer most pleasing to me, even though you find little enough to enjoy in it." ~ Julian or Norwich ~

"When he heard this, Jesus said, "This sickness will not end in death. 
No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it." 
~ John 11:4 ~

If you'd like your name added to the prayer list, please let me know.

Prayer Keeping ~ Liz and her sons ~ William and Catherine ~ Leslie ~ Becky ~ Rick ~Misha ~ J ~ Linda ~ Linda and Skip ~ Ryan ~ Roy ~ Tonya ~ Dave ~ me ~

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Little Thoughty's

~ lamb's ear ~

Aunt Bonnie used to say, “You're so thoughty!” when someone would speak a deep thought or do a kind deed. In her memory and spirit, here are offered Little Thoughty's, meant to amuse, make you think, give you a smile. When known, the author has been given.

Live in such a way, you don't have to ask if you're in God's will.”

"If you're not going to snort, why even laugh?"
Sometimes I pretend to be normal. but it's gets boring. so I go back to being me.”

I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.”

"Set down my name, sir." ~ Pilgrim's Progress ~

"A retired husband is a wife's full time job."

"Smile! (It confuses people)"

"So far this is the oldest I've ever been." 

"If the world were a logical place, men would ride sidesaddle."

"I have CDO. It's like OCD, but all the letters are in the order like they should be."

"Sarcasm. Just one more service I provide." 

"People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered; 
Forgive them anyway. 
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; 
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; 
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough;
give the world the best you've go anyway.
You see, in the final analysis it is between you and God;
It was never between you and them anyway."

When I run, I feel His pleasure.” ~ Eric Liddell ~
I ask you: what is it you do that you feel His pleasure?

Blessings ~ Aunt Bonnie ~ Little Thoughty's ~ wisdom ~ laughter ~ Him ~
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