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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.

Friday, January 30, 2015

An Informational Short Post

Vicki, 2 Bags Full, 2015 Grow Your Blog Party post and giveaway here. When you go to that post, you'll find links to both Vicki's blog and her GYBP post. Now, I'm experiencing problems with my ISP so, sorry, no photos (boo!) today but read on for what my two 2015 GYBP winners will receive.

Folks visiting my blog and leaving contact information have a random chance of winning either Living Beautifully Together: How to Live Graciously in a Hectic World by Finding Time to Love Your Family, Your Friends and Yourself OR Creating a Beautiful Home: From Starting Fresh to Freshening Up-Creative Ideas to Help You Turn Your House into a Warm and Welcoming Home both by one of my absolute favorite authors...Alexandra Stoddard. (Please visit her website for more photos possible today, remember?) Mrs. Stoddard has been a favorite author for decades and last March, I wrote her to say. She replied and we exchanged notes that are now tucked into a copy of one of her many books I own. In writing this post, I only now realize her husband of 40 years, Peter Magaree Brown, passed away in September and Brandon Stoddard, her first husband and father to their two daughters, passed away in December. That is so much sadness in a short time and my heart breaks for all of them. A. B. Stoddard, her oldest daughter, is a political journalist and writes for The Hill newspaper and is frequently seen reporting on television.

Mrs. Stoddard had a great influence on my life and, yearly, I re-read more than a few of her books. Yes, there are lots of great books "out there" but I tend to stick to favorites for there's always something new to learn.

For those not in the USA you have a random chance of winning a bookmark from Dublin's Trinity College's Book of Kells.

This weekend I plan to visit the county library and catch, visit your blogs and leave comments. I feel like I'm on the edge of the universe, watching as the parade passes by. Do you ever have those days?

Be well and happy and know when God brings you to mind, you're tucked into prayer.

Blessings ~ Alexandra Stoddard ~ Peter Magaree Brown ~ Mrs. Stoddard's many, many beautiful, fine and interesting books ~ GYBP 2015 ~ and you ~

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Grow Your Blog Party - 2015

Welcome to Vicki's of 2 Bags Full 2015 Grow Your Blog Party. Please accept my apology for being late to the party; I have no excuse, only the reason of poor memory and, as Lemony Snicket said, "A series of unfortunate events" including working on a mini-laptop that keeps crashing. grrrrrr! Another does absolutely no good to keep a calendar if I forget to check it...sigh. I humbly apologize.

~ my front porch ~

I am Sandra, Countrywoman at Thistle Cove Farm in the Appalachian Mountains of southwest Virginia where the tag line is Where It's Beautiful One Day and Perfect the Next...true too. I write about life, faith, family, farming, photography, animal rescue and since 11/11 about widow hood. Blog posts include tips on making your home more energy efficient, tips on taking care of your vehicle, financial tips, recipes, travel, projects such as quilting, knitting, felting, weaving, animal husbandry. My animals are also my family so there are lots of photos of furry family members. 

~ Levi Lilly ~

In November 2011, Dave, my husband passed away and I've spent a lot of time putting together information that's helpful for others...couples, singles, married, widowed, divorced.  A Fair Arrangement: Keeping More of What's Yours is geared to helping you, legally, keep more of your assets. Click here to see a lot of useful information; if you have questions, send me an e-mail. 

~ my hay field ~
Yes, there is a giveaway on this for USA residents and one for everyone else. As stated earlier, my little mini-lap is having "issues" (as folks say these days, in my day it was called problems -lol-) so more photos will be added tomorrow. God willing and the creek don't rise. Stay tuned and don't forget to leave an e-mail so if you win, I can contact you.

~ Thistle Cove Farm ~ Where it's Beautiful One Day and Perfect the Next ~
Thanks for visiting Thistle Cove Farm, I look forward to returning the kindness. giveaway goes until Valentine's Day, 2/14 at 5:00 p.m. If you leave a comment and a way to contact you, you'll be in the running for winning either one of two books by Alexandra Stoddard (USA residents) or a book mark from Dublin's Trinity College Book of Kells (non USA residents). The Stoddard book is either Creating a Beautiful Home OR Living Beautifully Together

Blessings ~ Vicki at 2 Bags Full ~ 3rd Annual Grow Your Blog Party ~  visitors ~ gifts ~ my farm ~

Sabbath Keeping

~ mustard seed in bed of seeds ~

"The just shall live by faith."

"If you continue to love Jesus, nothing much can go wrong with you, and I hope you may always do so. I'm so thankful that you realized the 'hidden story' in the Narnian books. It is odd, children nearly always do, grown ups hardly ever." ~ C. S. Lewis ~

"What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?"

"Faith is to believe what you do not see,
the reward of this faith is to see what you believe."
~ Augustine

"Feed your faith and your doubts will starve to death."

"Prayer is the key to heaven,
faith unlocks the door."

"Sometimes your only transportation is a leap of faith." ~ Margaret Shepard ~

"True faith rests upon the character of God and asks no further proof than the moral perfections of the one who cannot lie. It is enough than God has said it." ~ A. W. Tozer ~

"Faith makes things possible, not easy
so don't be surprised if God hands you a shovel."

"Be faithful in small things, because it is in them, your strength lies." ~ Mother Teresa ~

"The woman who follows the crowed will generally go no further than the crowd.
the woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before."
~ Albert Einstein

"You can tell the size of your faith by looking at the size of your worry list. 
The longer your list, the smaller your God."

"Choose your friends with caution;
Plan your future with purpose;
Frame your life with faith."
~ Thomas S. Monson ~

"Jesus replied, If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, 
you can say to this mulberry tree, 
"Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you." 
~ Luke 17:6 ~

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

Prayer Keeping ~ Donna ~ Bill ~ GJ ~ Gladys and Jim ~ Stephanie ~ Mary and family ~ Sandra ~

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sabbath Keeping

"The Lord watches over the foreigner and 
sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked."

"Enemy-occupied territory-that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage. When you go to church you are really listening in to the secret wireless from our friends: that is why the enemy is so anxious to prevent us from going.
When a young man who has been going to church in a routine way honestly realizes that he does not believe in Christianity and stops going-provided he does it for honesty's sake and not just to annoy his parents-the spirit of Christ is probably nearer to him then than it ever was before."
~ C. S. Lewis ~

"When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, 'I used everything you gave me." ~ Erma Bombeck ~

"I can safely say, on the authority of all that is revealed in the Word of God, that any man or woman on this earth who is bored and turned off by worship is not ready for heaven." ~ A. W. Tozer ~

"We may be surprised at the people we find in heaven.
God has a soft spot for sinners.
His standards are quite low."

"Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in.
Aim at earth and you get neither."

"You have lost your reason and taken the wrong path. You have taken lies for truth, and hideousness for beauty. You would marvel if, owing to strange events of some sorts, frogs and lizards suddenly grew on apple and orange trees instead of fruit, or if roses began to smell like a sweating horse; so I marvel at you who exchange heave for earth. I don't want to understand you." ~ Anton Chekov ~

"Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal."

"He whose head is in heaven need not fear to put his feet into the grave."

"If there were no hell, the loss of heaven would be hell." 

"Socialism only works in two places: 
Heaven where they don't need it and hell where they already  have it."
 ~ Ronald Reagan

"All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country-heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them."

If you have a name for the prayer list, please let me know. I'll add it as soon as I possibly can.

Prayer Keeping ~ Donna ~ Bill ~ GJ ~ Mary and family ~ Gladys ~ Jim ~ Stephanie ~ Sandra ~ 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Winner, Winner...and do you know what makes me happy, happy, happy?

Yes, Christmas is over but I leave the wreath up until January end; it's too pretty, adding a bit of cheer to a somewhat bleak terroir to remove too soon.

Lightly, also known as Meri Go Lightly, the easy keeper mare requiring TLC, has a nasty habit of eating all the bird seed from the feeder. I have a nasty habit of allowing her because it's little enough spoiling for being kept where it's easier for her to heal. (I am such a sap!)

Advantage was taken to get in a load of wood from a pile which is getting dangerously low. I've found a seller of wood but am waiting for someone to take a look at it to be sure it's locust and dry.

Debbie, Of His Pasture, in cold IL won the Duck Socket Sealers; they were mailed Tuesday and, is downright nasty here today...sleet, ice, snow and I went to town anyway. You said your house was older than mine, Thomas Hawkins began building mine in 1900, and drafty as all get out. You need these sealers; let me know how they work for you.

BTW. Debbie's was the third name drawn because the first two people did not leave a way to be contacted. When I clicked on the names, a box popped up “no-reply...”. Ummm, that’s not good; if you want a chance to win, you really need to leave a way for folks to get in contact with you. In a few days, Vicki’s third annual Grow Your Blog Party starts and one of her few rules is...ya gotta leave a way for folks to contact you.

It’s winter in Appalachia where weather can’t make up his feeble mind. One day it’s semi-warm, drizzly, cloudy and the next it’s cloud, cold and spitting ice and snow. Yesterday, before going to town, I fixed breakfast of country ham, English muffins and a cheesy egg.

A few months ago, at a thrift store, I found two egg cookers that are specific to the microwave. I cannot begin to tell you how these little cookers have changed the way I eat! One of the greatest problems for me, since Dave died, is fixing a meal; it's okay if I use the crock pot but it's just difficult to remember to leave time in the evening for an actual meal. Far too frequently, I find myself at the end of the day with nothing to eat and resort to cold cereal. 

One or two scrambled eggs, a bit of cheese and, sometimes ham or bacon or sausage is added, a minute in the microwave and I've got a hot, tasty meal. The cheesy eggs are left on the plate or placed atop a muffin or biscuit that's been slathered with my home churned butter. Being somewhat too hungry lazy to make cat head biscuits, I used English muffins...not quite as tasty but certainly a lot easier and faster and, really, when enough butter is used, the difference isn't noticeable. 

For those requiring a bit more instruction...oil the cooker with veg, corn, EVOO or butter, break one or two eggs into cooker, mix well, season with black pepper and salt, add a tablespoon or two of cheese and microwave one minute. I’ve added a few bits of broccoli or a few leaves of spinach; any veg will do and, yep, it’s that easy! Next, I need to search for a few more recipes as this one is getting worn out from use. Perhaps a chocolate cake...

Something else that makes me happy, happy, happy is YOU! Visiting your blogs, reading about your life or projects or what you’re selling or what’s happening where you live, etc. When a post catches my eye, I, sometimes visit more than once, just to savor your words, your life, you. I’m not much good at responding to I age (thank You, God!) I find the energy level only goes so far, especially in cold weather. So, I can read, comment, visit or I can respond to comments; I’d rather visit you and comment.

Something else that makes me happy...when I visit you and wander around your blog, there are so many things of interest. I find out if you’re interested in crafts or writing or traveling, etc. Sometimes I see you’re on Pinterest or! I’ve gotten some really great quotes from your blogs; some have appeared on my Sabbath Keeping and, when possible, given credit. (Meaning when memory decided to serve fully and well.) Time is taken to tuck you in a little prayer; it’s not necessary for me to know much about you because God knows it all and likes when someone lifts someone else in prayer.

When I visit your side bar, I see so many other blogs that look interesting. It’s almost a sure bet to find bloggers I already know and love visiting and am sure to find a few new to me bloggers as well. Thank you for that little gift!

Something else that makes me happy is seeing my blog on your sidebar. Which, makes me wonder...have I listed your blog on my sidebar? I know I read a lot more blogs than are listed, which confuses me. So, if my blog is on your side bar but you don't see your blog on my Cozy Reads sidebar, please let me know. I want to be a good neighbor and fix that immediately!

We all matter; sometimes in ways we’ll never know. When I visit you and tuck you into prayer, it matters to you (although you may never know), it matters to me and it matters to God. Our lives count in ways that are, sometimes, incomprehensible to us, but not to God. It’s taken me a while to get to this place but there are people who have hurt me deeply or owe me money or steal from me. People who claim to be Christians (because they go to church) but, frankly, I think their Jesus imitation is seen through a glass darkly. It’s taken me a while to be willing to pray for them and, truth be told, I still fall off that particular hallelujah wagon but when I do pray for them, I am being obedient to God's Word. This Christian walk can be like walking on broken glass and when I look down, the shattered glass is, often, my heart. Even so, obedience is better than sacrifice and He’s promised to be with us each and every step. Glory Be!

Blessings ~ quick, easy, nutritious meal ~ a treat for Lightly ~ beauty in a bare landscape ~ a winner ~ 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sabbath Keeping

~ guinea on a roof ~

"Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it."

"If you do not take the distinction between good and bad very seriously, then it is easy to say that anything you find in this world is a part of God. But, of course, if you think some things really bad, and God really good, then you cannot talk like that. You must believe that God is separate from the world and that some of the things we see in it are contrary to His will. Confronted with a cancer or a slum the Pantheist can say, 'If you could only see it from the divine point of view, you would realize that this also is God.' The Christian replies, 'Don't talk damned nonsense.' For Christianity is a fighting religion. It thinks God made the world--that space and time, heat and cold, and all the colours and tastes, and all the animals and vegetables, are things that God 'made up out of His head' as a man makes up a story. But it also thinks that a great many things have gone wrong with the world that God made and that God insists, and insists very loudly, on our putting them right again."
~ C. S. Lewis ~
"Anyone who thinks sitting in church can make you a Christian must also think that sitting in a garage can make you a car." ~ Garrison Keillor ~
"Science without religion is lame, 
religion without science is blind."
"He died not for men, but for each man. If each man had been the only man made, He would have done no less." ~ C. S. Lewis ~
"All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson ~
"No woman wants to be in submission to a man who isn't in submission to God!" ~ T.D.Jakes ~
"God allows us to experience the low points of life in order to teach us lessons that we could learn in no other way." ~ C. S. Lewis ~

"The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting.
It has been found difficult; and left untried."

"If any of you lacks wisdom, 
you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault,
and it will be given to you."
~ James 1:5

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

Prayer Keeping ~ Noreen ~ Pat ~ George ~ Donna ~ GJ ~ Bill ~ T's former husband ~ Gladys ~ Jim ~ Stephanie ~ Mary ~ Robin ~ Brittany ~ Cathy and husband ~ Sandra ~

Saturday, January 10, 2015

WOW! Almost...almost...Above Freezing! But Not Quite...

For the latest give-away, please click here.

Each evening, I tend to feed the horses a little extra hay so I can buy more time in the mornings in the huge, although as yet unrealized, hope (a) it'll warm up and (b) the ice will have thawed...just a bit. HA! In talking with my brother, I mentioned I was chopping ice twice a day. He asked, "Don't you have a de-icer in the trough?" My response was, "Yes, that's why it only takes about 45 minutes." This photo shows a small area where there's no ice and it's at that point I start.

The only tool I could find was a solid steel pole, normally used for tamping earth, not quite six feet in length, weighing about...guessing here...fifteen or twenty pounds and not the best tool but, in a pinch, acceptable. The best tool is either my crow bar (found today) or...hmmm...can't remember the other just now but my pitchfork is used to lift ice out of the trough.

Most of the ice is gone but this morning, back again so another 45 minutes of chopping gave the horses a clear area to drink. Today, temps got up to around 28 F so the de-icer helped me finish the job and the trough was ice free when I finished. Tomorrow is supposed to be even warmer which is nice considering the low temps and snow expected all next week.

There are two piles of ice, both having twice as much now as seen here. I try to keep the ice to one side where the horses are less likely to step and slip.

If any of you...Michelle...have need to carry a partial load of hay, here's a tip to make the job easier. Make a couple of knots in two ends, take the two loose ends, pull them through the knot and the whole load is easy...easier carry. Small things mean a lot when you're carrying 70 or 80 pounds.

The goldfish stay underneath the de-icer where it's warmer.

Sam P. Spade, Secret Agent/Angel, is one of my best helpers. Today was warm enough to take a 1.5 mile walk so dogs and I all got in a bit of exercise after I got home from buying a laser copy printer scanner fax machine and buying gas. Gas is $2.04 a gallon at Sam's Club; what does it cost where you live?

I'm looking for some stove wood to buy; anyone selling any? I'd prefer locust but as I'm almost out, any hard wood will do and, delivered, natch and, preferably earlier than later, because there are more storms coming this week.

Wow. Just tell me...could you stand the excitement of my life? - lam - (laughing at myself)

Blessings ~ my good helper ~ water trough ice free ~ little helps ~ warmer temps ~

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Grow Your Blog Party 2015 and Energy Giveaway Now

Vicki, at 2 Bags Full, is hosting her third Grow Your Blog Party. Sign up is here and sign up deadline is Jan 17...hurry! It's a great way to be introduced to new to you bloggers and your participation can be as full or limited as you want/need. It's also a great way to introduce bloggers to your blog...hurry!
Okay, I've officially become my parents. What's the weather like where you're located? Here, it's enough to make grown men cry and women stay inside. Except there aren't any men, grown or otherwise, around here so I'm the one crying...while outside doing chores. Last night temps were well below zero with wind chills 15 to 20 below zero. When it's that cold there's no keeping the house anything other than warm with a few chilly spots.  Fortunately, oil was delivered last night so I cranked the thermostats up to 64 F. Most of the time, they're kept at 60 or 62 which is very comfortable. I also don't believe in keeping a hot house because, when I work outside, it's best to be better acclimated to the cold so there's no hot/cold, cold/hot from inside outside or reverse. It also keeps me healthier or has over the past 20 years.

Although, I'm beginning to consider wearing Depends, when doing chores, this cold frigid weather, there's NO way I'm shucking my pants to take a quick wet when caught at the barn. (Is that TMI?) Besides, experience has taught me I'm too old to shuck quickly and my knees feel like shattered glass so there's not much quick getting to my feet again. I'm just telling you this as a public service announcement...if you're blessed, you'll get old some day. Seriously, I'm only being helpful here.

Prepping for winter is a huge job because it includes prepping the house, farm, outbuildings, barns, studio, sheds, water trough and all vehicles. When the job is done correctly, it takes weeks. This past autumn, I finished pointing the foundation...mortaring, meaning patching, the places where ever mortar has fallen out over the past one hundred plus years. It's not a hard job and, truth be told, I enjoyed it. Someone asked me (in a tone of voice that was, to my ear, more than a bit snippy and superior, "Well, did you use historically correct mortar?" I looked at this Simple Susan woman and replied, "You live in an apartment, don't you?" Immediately, she became indigent but it's the truth, isn't it? She doesn't have to worry about pipes freezing or mortaring the foundation or even replacing light bulbs in the hallway. All she has to do is call and complain which, I must say, isn't the least bit impressive. Not to me anyway. What is impressive (to me), is I taught myself how to mix mortar, apply it, how to take care of my vehicles...checking and topping off fluids...wrapping pipes and a myriad of other skills that make me proud of me and thankful to God.  Yes, I sometimes ask for help or for someone to teach me how to do something but my attitude is, I can at least try. If I foul up, I can always call in a professional.

One quick, easy, inexpensive energy fix is to use Duck Socket Sealer behind light outlets, switch plates and decorative plates. You would be *amazed* at the cold air that comes in around those switches and these little babies Stop. The. Cold. Wouldn't you know it...I only needed one or two and have most of the box left. If you'd like a chance to, randomly, win, leave a comment telling me how cold it is where you're living. And, if it's Florida (Rainey -  :)...), Hawaii or someplace else warm...don't tell me. I'd hate for something like that to come between our friendship.


So...let's see...we'll run this until Monday...'cause it's going to keep getting cold and if you need this enough to enter...YOU NEED THIS NOW! Monday, January 12 at 5 p.m. and, weather permitting, it'll be mailed Tuesday. So, you'll need to respond, quickly, to my request for your snail mail address. Now quick...comment!

Blessings ~ a fire in the wood stove, making the house warm as warm can be ~ easy, inexpensive fixes for energy savings ~ Duck Socket Sealers ~ skills ~ Vicki, 2 Bags Full ~ Grow Your Blog Party 2015 ~

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Sabbath Keeping

"Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." 

"Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year." ~ Emerson ~
"I feel sorry for people who maintain relationships and friendships detrimental to their mental health. Everyone is guilty of it at one time or another-but the idea is to strive to be your best; right?
So, meanwhile why are so many people faking it? Security? Fear of loneliness? Fears of independence? Fears of being self? Or just the idea that you can make someone change?
Regardless of the justifications you give and treat yourself to..., I hope all of you-"new year-new me types" strive for self care, honest and pure friendships and relationship based of love-and not based off the fake realities of your mind. These delusions of what you hope for instead of what's there, where you and your puppet show master focus more on everyone else and less on self. To change the world you must start within. But you must first BE HONEST with yourself.
My new year started a few months ago--and it was the best choice I ever made-and I hope your recreations are progressive and successful in THE NEW YEAR" ~ Tiffany Luard ~
"You can get excited about the future; the past won't mind." ~ Hillary dePiano ~
"Be at war with your vices,
At peace with your neighbors,,
and let every new year find you a better [wo]man."
~ Benjamin Franklin ~
"And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been." ~ Rilke ~
"I think in terms of the day's resolutions, not the year's." ~ Henry Moore ~

"Resolution 1: I will live for God. 
Resolution 2: If no one else does, I still will."
~ Jonathan Edwards ~

"So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold--though your faith is far more precious than mere gold..." ~ 1 Peter 1:6-7 ~

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

Prayer Keeping ~ Donna ~ Jim ~ Bill ~ GJ ~ Mom ~ Daddy ~ Steph ~ Gwen ~ Steve ~ Sandra ~

Saturday, January 03, 2015

And So It Begins...2015

~ red tail hawk ~
We're three days into 2015 and it seems the year has already put on skates...and wings. If this year goes any more quickly than last year, I'll probably fall off the globe!
~ red tail hawk in flight ~
I cannot begin to believe y'all are interested in farm chores and, these days, seems farm chores are about all I do. Today was beautiful in that it was above freezing and, sometimes, the sun peeped through the clouds while rain waited until late afternoon to begin. Advantage was taken to re-arrange the portion of the barn that holds my wood pile. (yawn) It needed doing to make it safer and easier to get the wood then vehicles were started and moved about so I would have better use of space. A bit of mucking the lot to make it more pleasant for Lightly, square hay bales thrown down from the loft,

~ Lightly, breakfast in bed ~
talked to Daddy and Mom, then made home made chicken noodle soup and...ta da! the farm blog for year 2012 was made into a soft cover book. Due to the encouragement of Leslie at Greenberry House, I started blogging in May 2005 and blogging has brought un-imagined happiness and joy into my life. I've met people from all over the world - Timi in Hungary, Jane and Lance in Hungary, Mags in N. Ireland and MK in North Carolina. The good news is the blog to print book prices have dropped; I'll give you a peek when the newest one, number 6!, arrives later this month. Since Dave's death, my blog books have been such a comfort and worth every penny spent! I've finally signed up for their rewards program and will blog about that sometime this month.
~ back photo of TCF 2012 blog book ~
Surely, though, I'm due to meet many more folks from the www of the i-net. Today I joined Sisters on the Fly and am expecting to soon "have more fun than anyone". If camping isn't appealing to you, I'll never be able to explain the allure. Especially the allure of camping with women who have similar interests, haven't lost their sense of adventure and wonder and are excited about life. I'm still traveling solo and expect to, hopefully, travel to one of the ABC islands this year. A friend and I have talked about taking a Viking River Cruise and another friend and I are talking about going back to the UK, specifically Cumbria, Miss Potter's home and...since I'm in the area...Scotland. For those times that wheels on the ground are needed, it'll be Sisters on the Fly and my 'lil Serro Scotty Sportsman camper or.........soon to be announced acquisition.

While I was working I thought about work, working and am a firm believer parents should give their children three life long gifts...teach them how to go to sleep, how to enjoy their own company and the deep satisfaction of work. Today, the weather was mild and rainy, perfect for doing outdoor chores around the farm and house. Lightly's middling better, she does better in the warmer temps than the cold and, frankly, I'm looking forward to getting us both into warmer climes. (Please God, soon!) No offense to Appalachia but, without Dave, the thrill has gone leaving only chill.

~ thistle shortbread mold and shortbread ~
One of the best things to come out of my kitchen is Thistle Cove Farm shortbread. Early days, I bought a thistle baking mold and, over the course of these past almost twenty years, have made hundreds, if not thousands, of pans of shortbread. Dave always encouraged me to buy another mold; he was concerned about breakage and then...OH NO!...there'd be no more Thistle Cove Farm shortbread. Well, that was something I never got around to doing but a short while ago I found another exact a thrift a great price! JOY! 

The receipt is very simple...2 sticks melted butter, glug of pure vanilla extract, 1/2 cup brown sugar and 2 cups of flour. Mix well, push into mold, bake at 350 F, about 20 minutes or until brown around edges. Let sit for 10 minutes then flip out of mold; it's wonderful while warm and with a cold glass of milk!
~ Gray Tom ~
About a year and half or two years ago, Gray Tom walked in from the cold and said, "I'm here to make your life better." And so he has. New Year's Day was spent, among other things, doing some outside work and Tom ended up being locked in the garage. I was frantic! I looked all over the house, went to the barn thinking he was locked in the tack room and, walking back up the driveway, saw this pitiful little face in the garage window. Tom was not amused but forgave quickly, especially when I sat down and he got a quick snuggle and cuddle to get warm.
~ Kitten ~
Remember this little feller? He came to live here in September, blogged about here and here and never told his name until suggestions were made. I tried out those suggestions but he refuses to respond to anything other than "Kitten". So be it. Only two more months before he's neutered!
~ Daisy Mae ~
is a Redbone Coon Hound and came to live here in September as well. I'd still LOVE to find her a good great home but she looks like she's found it...wry smile. She's had vaccinations, is spayed, house broken and essentially a love bug who gives wonderful hugs and slobbery kisses.

What are your plans for 2015? I'm planning on doing a lot of living this year; it's been more than three years since Dave's death and I truly feel the worst of the grief is over. People have given advice, some good and some not so good, but the only way for me to deal with his death was to go through it. Through the grief...not around, or over or bury it or get over it but through it. I plowed through it, step after painful step, tear after buckets full of tears, until God brought me through the grief. Yes, it was worth it; yes, I still miss him and yes, I am going to move forward.

I've been working on the Prep Book and if you're interested in helping out, please send me a private e-mail. Sometime this month, I'll send you a rough draft so you may read it and give your opinion, advice, comments, etc. If I cannot find a publisher, I'll spiral bind it and sell it myself. There's so much to do to prepare those who are left behind; taking those steps of preparation now means less money wasted later, more money saved and people aren't left wondering how, why, when... I'm still working on Dave's mothers' estate (she died in 11/08) and on Dave's estate (he died 11/11). I want my affairs left in much better order so my sister and nephews will do what I want and not what they think I'd want done. If those things aren't important to you, that's fine but they are important to me...important enough to leave a record and notebook.

Thank you, dearest ones, for the gift of your time in reading and commenting on my blog. Some of you have said exactly the right thing at exactly the right time to give me the encouragement to keep going. Living isn't easy and death is even more difficult; your sweet and kind comments have been a balm in Gilead to me. God bless you richly! I am woefully slow in commenting to your comments; that's due, in part, to my work load, in part to my physical slowness, but, mostly, because when I see your comment, I stop and tuck you into prayer. By the way, while you're praying, please remember Donna, whose beloved husband passed away the day after Christmas.

May God keep you safely tucked in the palm of His hand now and through 2015. You are so loved!

Blessings ~ each of you who read and each of you who comment ~ my animals and farm ~ this beautiful valley ~ wild life ~ shortbread ~ Dave ~
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