Friday, March 28, 2008

Sometimes Only Soup Will Do

I love soup. It is warming to the tummy and the soul. There is nothing like a bowl of hearty, homemade soup. The other day I had a hankerin' for some and after rummaging through the refrigerator for something to use, I came up with a delicious combination- Roasted Parsnip and Sweet Potato Soup. Yum!



Roasted Parsnip and Sweet Potato Soup

Serves 8-10 (or freeze it in small portions for lunches.)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

3 cups parsnips, peeled and sliced into 1/2" slices

6 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

1 medium sweet onion, peeled and quartered

2T olive oil

4 cups organic chicken broth

3 cups low-fat milk

Place vegetables in a bowl and toss with the olive oil. Place in a large roasting pan and season with salt and pepper. Roast until vegetables are soft and slightly caramelized, about 1-1 1/2 hours. Remove from oven and cool slightly.

Process roasted vegetables in small batches in a food processor. Put pureed veg into a Dutch oven and add chicken broth and milk. Adjust seasonings and heat through.

To make it really tasty, add a pat of Irish butter on top. :)

This is a very filling soup, rich and hearty. Serve it with a salad and some crusty bread and you have a meal fit for a queen.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tragedy

It is with great sadness that I wrote this post. I have lost three of my little chicks to my daughter's cat. I don't know how it happened. Really. I had them in a bin, covered with a screen, things on top of that, surrounded by chairs, etc. on the sides, in the family room. But apparently the natural pull of cat-eat-chick was too much for Merideth and she found a way to get them. Only Flora has survived and she is now safe in my craft room with the door closed.
I am heartbroken and crushed. I attached much too quickly to those little balls of fluff.
I called my friend and told her of the sad news. She will hold out the first three hens from the next hatch of eggs for me. And so, I will hold all of your name choices until then. In fact, keep leaving them because I will let you name the new babies- all three.
It may be a while, as she is hatching turkeys right at the moment. Talk about a farmgirl!
Please forgive me for postponing this little giveaway.

Monday, March 24, 2008

It All Started As a Peaceful Afternoon

After a lovely Easter sacrament meeting at church, we came home to finish up our offerings for dinner at our friend's house. #2 son and Dear Daughter did not want to join us. (Sadness.) Instead, #2 son wanted to sleep. Or so he said.
He had been out of sorts all day, so a nap was probably in order. We left him with his sister and went off to enjoy dinner.
Just after finishing our dinner, the phone rang. It was my dad, calling to tell us that #2 had driven the van into the house. WHAT!!!???
Racing home, we pulled up to the house to see that he had driven the van up under the front porch.
His sister had gone to a friend's house, and left to his own devices, #2 thought a self-taught driving lesson was in order. Not a good idea. Our neighbor saw the whole ordeal and notified my parents, who called us.
This is what happens when your 21 year-old disabled son get a hold of your car keys-



This is our neighbor, Ed, securing the car jack under the post to elevate the porch off of the van.

As you can see, he was very, very fortunate. He could have been killed. But, all he got was a tiny scratch on his hand. Mind you, I spent more than a few minutes planning his demise.

I am sure that this will become the story that will be told around the dinner table for years to come. "Do you remember that Easter when JA drove the van up under the porch? hahahahaha That was hilarious!" But that will be much, much later.


In the meantime, we are trying to come to grips with the fact that:

a. #2 cannot be left to his own devices.

b. #2 is thinking like a normal young adult and, consequently,

c. #2 cannot be trusted. Ever.

I hope that your Easter Sunday was much more calm and uneventful.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Meet the Girls and a Little Giveaway!

I would like to introduce you to the latest additions to the S family brood:
This is Flora,
Hazel,

Martha,

And the littlest one.............


She does not have a name yet, and that is where the giveaway portion of this post comes in!! This shot shows her personality- feisty, sweet, curious. A natural beauty in every way. But she is nameless and that's a sad, sad thing.

So, put on your thinking caps, leave a name in a comment to this post and on Friday of next week, I will draw a name out of my big, yellow bowl and dub this tiny chickie with whatever name is on the paper.

I will post a peek of the prize next week. (Because I don't have it all together yet.)

The Farmer's Husband is not too thrilled with the new residents, but he'll get over it. He always does. Besides, he did not have tell me that my friend, Christine, had called to let me know the chicks had hatched. Did he? Nope.

But I just love them to bits. And while I think that my gals have exquisite natural beauty, I want you to take a gander at these:

Not a natural beauty in the bunch, wouldn't you say?



This is what they were selling at the feed store. The man there was quite apologetic and explained that when he ordered chicks this year he was a bit late, and so this is what they had available. They won't stay this way forever, but for Easter they're kind of cute.

Sort of.

Anyhoo- Don't forget to leave your name for the tiniest chick! She's feeling a bit left out.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Spring Surprise

With all of the bird activity in my yard lately, my thoughts turned to a chore I had forgotten to do this winter- cleaning out the nest boxes. I quickly went out and cleaned the old nests from the four boxes attached just outside my kitchen window.
As I removed the nesting bits from the last box, two little blue-green eggs slipped out. I quickly laid my hand under the box and caught both of them. Oh no! Had someone already moved in?
But, the icy coldness of these tiny treasures told me that they were no longer viable.



I brought them in and placed them in a nest that fell in my yard a few years ago. This little composition sits on a table in my craft room. Bird nests, eggs and sea shells. Is there anything more perfect?
I don't think so.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Inconceiveable! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Remember Wallace Shawn as Vizzini in The Princess Bride? My favorite part is when he and the Dread Pirate Roberts are trying to outwit each other and consequently not be the one poisoned by a cup of wine. Poor Vizzini, he loses. And as he does, he exclaims while he laughs uncontrollably, "Inconceivable!" I had one of those moments today.
Don't these look yummy? I think so too. But, they have a little problem.
These are Martha Stewart's Anise Drops from her Holiday Cookie issue. (I think maybe it was from two years ago.) I have been waiting all week to make these because I have Sign Language class here tonight and I like to make a little treat for the gals.


The problem is in this little dish right here on the stove. As an afterthought, I sprinkled sugar from the dish on the tops of the cookies before popping them into the oven.
Only I don't keep sugar in a little dish on my stove. Nope. Never have. So what is this?


It's salt.

I don't think I need to say anything more.

Happy Spring

You probably have this sentiment running through your brain right now- "What was she thinking? An ugly little peat pot with a sickly white bean in the center sending up an even sicklier white tendril. That's her picture for Spring?"


Yes, that is my picture for the first day of Spring. Why? For these reasons:
1. It is a hopeful picture. That bean seed, though small and insignificant, will send up more tendrils and leaves, and then more again, and soon will be a plant larger than me. Relate that to us and you find that we all contain a seed of greatness within ourselves. We just have to nurture and tend to that part that will make us grow into a thing of beauty and productivity.
2. It is the essence of Spring itself. The season of renewal and new growth, it reminds us of the things we can accomplish. The saying, "Bloom where you are planted.", is a perfect quote for today. Dig in your heels and begin.
3. It is gentle. The process that this little bean seed is going through takes time and patience. It knows when and why it needs to move on to the next step and does not hurry itself along. It is certain and sure that what is supposed to happen, will. No matter how long it takes. And it doesn't care one single bit that the seed next door has its little green leaves already. Exercising patience is something that I need to do more of.
4. It is bounteous. Well, maybe not yet, but it is the beginning of something bigger. In this case, my garden. It will join other plants that are being started in my dining room window, and be placed in the ground in a few weeks time. During the summer, this little seed and its cousins will feed my family. It is a true collaboration for a greater good. Is that not what we do here; encouraging and uplifting each other to the point that we are all brimming with a bounty of ideas, feeding our confidence and creating fertile soil from which things of beauty and usefulness spring?
So, that is why I chose this picture. I think it shows great beauty, potential and strength.
I love that little seed.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Oh. So. Delish.

One of my favorite things to do (when I have the time and $$$) is to travel to A Taste of Britain in Norcross, GA. Oh, how I love that little shop! It makes me deliriously happy to step through the door and take in all things British.
After filling my basket with practical things like Bisto gravy powder, Fairy Liquid (for dishwashing) and TCP, only the best antiseptic on this planet, Hob Nobs, Cornish pasties (with the "a" sound as in as, not ace. Do not get them confused!) I head to the candy shelves. I am transported to my childhood, eyes full of wonder at the treats that lay before me.
It is chocolate heaven - Cadbury Buttons, Flake, CurlyWurly, Fingers, Dairy Milk. Oh, bliss. Aero, Turkish Delight, Licorice All Sorts. Oh, my! But this is my favorite:

A Violet Crumble bar. A crisp, whipped honey center surrounded by milk chocolate. It is "Australia's Crisp Golden Honeycomb", and as it says on the side, "It's The Way It Shatters That Matters". Amen. Who could resisit this?
There is not a drop of violet anything inside of it. The only thing violet about it is the packaging.
You have probably guessed from the picture that I have been to the shop recently. I have been meteing out small portions of treats so that they will last. Not until my next visit, mind you. That will never happen.
But, wait! It's only a 45-minute trek to that little slice of England in Georgia. Would anyone care to join me?
Not in the Atlanta area? Find a British food store in your area and go! It will be well worth the trip.

Monday, March 17, 2008

New Home

Last summer, my mother had a Charlotte move into the corner near her kitchen window. Charlotte was a large, black and yellow garden spider, a writer and a good one at that.
Now, my mother is afraid of spiders. Deathly afraid, yet she was very happy to have Charlotte move into the neighborhood. As long as there was a pane of glass between them.
This is the egg sac that Charlotte made to cradle her babies, tucked up in the corner of my parent's house. Realizing that an egg sac means thousands of baby spiders, my mom asked me to move it. Today, I did just that.
Here is the new home for Charlotte's egg sac. It is placed between the vines that wrap around the bird condominium. Can you see it, just to the left near the second doorway? ( I purposefully did not use a flash so as not to disturb the babies. I apologize for the darkness of the photo.)


Here it is close up. It is beautiful in its simplicity, a miracle of nature. Imagine something so small and fragile nestling the eggs of thousands of tiny spiders. Perfection.

In a few weeks, the babies will come out of the top of the sac and fly on the breeze with silken threads leading them to their own homes. I hope that some of them choose to stay here and create a home in my garden. There is always room for one more at my house.

The Wearin' o' the Green





Happy Saint Patrick's Day!!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Meet Bunny and her cousin Annabelle

Look who came to live at my house yesterday!! Bunny travelled all the way from Kentucky to join her cousin, Annabelle, who came to live here last year. As they would say in England, I'm chuffed.

Look at how sweetly she was packaged up for her trip...


And here she is in all of her glory, complete with a little sack of sunflower seeds and a tiny, red heart...


Bunny and Annabelle enjoying a lovely little visit in the garden, catching up on the latest news...

You can find your own little chile to adopt from Frannie, doll maker extraordinaire. I love how she uses bits and bobs to create some of the most charming, quirky little ladies I have ever seen. Pop on over to the Foundlin' Home. Someone there needs a momma!

Speaking of gardens! Look at this-


Granted, it does not look like much right now, but here is Raised bed Number 1, ready to be filled and planted with yummy, productive (hopefully) veg plants. Another one has gone in and only two more need to be built. I am sure they will be done before planting time.

Oh, I almost forgot!! Head on over to the Old Red Barn Co. and take a peek at the lovely quilt she will be giving away to some lucky person!! It is beautiful (and in all of my favorite colors)! I found out about it from my friend, Amy, this morning. The drawing is on the 19th of March, so hurry on over and leave a little love note for Dana. And good luck! But not too much, because as I said, the quilt is in all of my favorite colors. :)


Toodles.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Fickle Nature

Yesterday was a beautiful, balmy day here in my neck of the woods. Bright sunshine,, slight breeze and a temperature of about 70 degrees. Perfect.


Happy little pear blossoms soaking up the sun.

Pink delights from my little plum tree.

And then there is this.......



Can you see the little white specks floating in this picture? They are not bits of dust.
It is snowing at my house today. Snow!
Beautiful.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Eeeeeevil Dog

This is Rilo.



You would not think that a face like that could possibly be evil, would you? But it is. Trust me on this one. Looks are definitely deceiving in this case. Beneath that fluffy exterior lies a heart of pure mischief. Lulling you into a false sense of security with his cuteness, he times the reveal of his evilness with pinpoint perfection. And it comes at the most inopportune moments for the unsuspecting victim.
Rilo came from a yard sale. Yes, I know- what can't you get at them? My friend got his brother, whom she named Haldir. (For the elf in The Lord of the Rings. You know, he's the one who was whacked in the back of the head with an axe by an Ork in The Two Towers. I hate that part because I really like Haldir. The elf. Not so much the dog.)
Do you see that smile on his face in the picture? That's because he just scared the heck out of me.
I am certain that he does it on purpose, as though to say, "Pay attention to me!! Stop reading those silly blogs and get down on the floor and play! Now!!"
How did he do this, you ask? With an ear-piercing, earth-shattering bark. At nothing. It rips through the silence like a cat fight, fur flying and everything. How do you bark at nothing? Frantic, shrill, it fills the room and shakes my bones. And for what? For the pure pleasure of being evil.
"Hahaha. It is working. My evil plan is coming together. As soon as I render this woman helpless, I will be able to eat all of the trash I want!" I can fairly see his little paws rubbing together.
Lest you think that I do not like this dog, he does have his redeeming qualities. Like that smile. Especially when he shows his tiny teeth. Hilarious. I cannot help but laugh when I see it. '
And of course, there are the hugs. When he was a puppy, I taught him to give hugs by sitting him in my lap, patting my shoulder and saying, "Give a hug." and he would rest his head on me. To this day, if I want love and attention from him, I just ask for a hug. And he gets one in return, with a little piece of cheese.
But for the most part, he is bad-to-the-bone evil, with a little twist of sweetness.
It's that little twist that gets me every time.
On another note, we will be calling my husband "Postman Jim" starting the 17th of March!! Yay for the US Postal Service for seeing the good things about him and hiring him jiffy quick.
But, I have to say that, while I am ecstatically happy for him, I am a bit sad as well. We have had the best time together over these past few weeks. Travelling here and there, grocery shopping, cleaning the attic out, finding new places for lunch, digging out the garden, watching Matlock reruns. We have never, in 26 years, had time like this. And now it is almost over. But I am grateful for it nonetheless. So, for the next week or so, I am taking advantage and making sure that we squeeze in as much fun as we can.
And some Spring cleaning as well. ;)
Toodles!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Spring-y Surprises

Do you not just love an unexpected warm spell in the wintertime? I do. Yesterday was an absolute beauty- warm, breezy- perfect for getting out and taking a few pictures of the happy surprises in my yard.

These are some of my favorite weeds. I do not know what they are, but I cannot bear to rip them out of the ground. How cute are they? Teeny-tiny blossoms of sweetness. I prefer to rank them in the perennial category. Weed is just an insult to this little gem.



I could not get in close enough to the daffodil patch to get a good shot (maneuvering my still healing ankle into odd positions is not a good thing), so I had to pluck one to photograph. Held up against the Dwarf Alberta Spruce, this picture does not really show how tiny this blossom is. It is a miniature burst of sunshine.


What is this? An alien being parachuting down to Earth in M.C. Hammer's dance pants?


No. It is the center of this fabulous orchid blooming in my dining room window. I bought this plant last November in a yard sale for fifty-cents. And I do believe that I have received my money's worth, don't you? I had no idea what to expect from this orchid, but I was reeeally happy to see this-


On Saturday night, taking his friend home, my son felt his car beginning to shake. Thinking that he had a flat tire, he made it to his friend's house and parked the car. Trying to find the reason in the dark was fruitless. Yesterday, he and his dad attempted to drive it to the mechanic. They made it to our house. Thinking that putting the spare on would enable to get them where they needed to go yielded the true cause of the shake, rattle and no roll. The tie rod had severed. This is not what it is supposed to look like, unless you want it to be broken.


Son- "Dad, I think I know why the tire was shaking."

Dad-"Ooooooh. Yep."

You could say that the men in my family are Masters of Understatement, and you would be correct.

So, sometimes surprises are good, and sometimes they are not. I believe that I will take the good ones, thank you. The not-so-good-ones only make me wish for a pair of rose-colored glasses. And a nose that can twitch everything back to normal.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Mystery Item


I wonder what this could possibly bee?



And these?


Pay no attention to the large, wrinkled hand. It is an illusion.

I wish.


This is so bee-coming something neat.

It's a pinkeeper!!

This is for the pinkeeper swap over at MaryJane's Farm. It's a secret swap, in that we do not know who we will send our pinkeeper to, nor do we know which one we will get. Kind of a fun idea, yes?

As it is a sewing item, I used vintage spools of Lily thread for the legs of the base. And I wrangled the first few tender vines of honeysuckle to make the wreath at the base. Honeysuckle- get it? The little bees were beaded on before it was stuffed with wool fleece.

I bought the fleece a year ago and I still have a ton of it left. And I have been stuffing everything with it. Well worth the cost to have it sent from my friend Robin in Washington state. :)

I hope that whoever is the recipient of this little hive likes it as much as I had fun making it. As soon as I find out who's house it will go to, it will bee on its way!!