Welcome to our 1864 farmhouse…life is good!

Wednesday, November 30

handy, dandy egg-carrier...

Last week I visited a favorite small shop to pick up some fabric...well, I can never get in and out of this shop quickly! It's filled with beautiful painted furniture, yellowware dishes, old-fashioned lighting, and just about anything else a gal who loves primitive-country would enjoy. I could actually move into this shop and live there...it's just my style!

Anyway, as I purchased my fabric, I spied this on a shelf...

an old-style egg carrier. Oh yes...it was coming home! It's just right for toting eggs (one from each of the girls)
from the coop to the kitchen...I couldn't resist. It now sits in our kitchen next to a vintage egg scale and a
very old wire egg basket.

Don't you just love it when you stumble upon something that seems made for you? I know I do!

Monday, November 28

creamy mushroom soup...

I love mushrooms...on pizza, stuffed, and especially the morels to be found each spring. Those we batter-dip and fry...not exactly calorie-free, but a delicious, once-a-year treat I remember from my childhood.

And so with today's rain and chilly wind, I felt some homemade soup should be on the menu. Sometimes I just want something a bit different from our usual chili or vegetable soup, so I began looking through my old cookbooks. Soon I came across a recipe I hadn't made in years...I did a little recipe tweaking, put on my apron, in no time I was whipping up a pot of creamy soup.

(oh, by the way; mushrooms do not photograph well...at least for me!)

Creamy Mushroom Soup

1 c. butter
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 qt. chicken broth
16-oz. pkg. sliced mushrooms
1 qt. half & half
1 t. salt
1/4 t. white pepper

Melt butter in a stock pot over medium heat; add flour. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk. Add chicken broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, add mushrooms, half & half, salt and pepper. Cook on low, but do not boil, until mushrooms are heated through. Makes 8 servings.

And yes, there's veggie soup simmering away on the stove as well...not everyone loves mushrooms like I do!

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, November 23

giving thanks...

courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

I'm up early here at the farmhouse, thinking about Thanksgiving and what needs to be done before tomorrow. While we'll be traveling "Over the river and through the woods" and making most of the meal at Grammy's,
I'm making the mashed potatoes ahead of time so they're a quick re-heat before dinner.

For years we've made what my aunt called Kingston Potatoes  (no one is sure where the name Kingston originated), or make-ahead mashed potatoes. They are oh-so easy, and so delicious, I thought I'd share the recipe... just in case you're in charge of bringing the potatoes this year!

Kingston Potatoes
8 to 10 potatoes, peeled and diced
8-oz. pkg. cream cheese
3 T. butter
1 c. sour cream
salt & white pepper to taste

Add potatoes to a stock pot; cover with water. Bring to a boil and boil about 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Drain water; place potatoes in a large bowl. While potatoes are hot, stir in cream cheese and butter. Once well blended, stir in sour cream. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon potatoes into a lightly oiled 2-quart casserole dish; cover and refrigerate one to 2 days.

When ready to prepare potatoes, place casserole dish in a 350-degree oven and bake for 30 to 45 minutes,
or until heated through. Serves 6 to 8 (maybe...these go quickly!)

Planning Thanksgiving is certainly a country pleasure. And yes, while all the cooking and baking are quite an undertaking, it's also comforting to enjoy the handed-down, tried & true family recipes that seem to only be enjoyed on this holiday. Everyone looks forward to oyster stuffing and homemade noodles...oh, how the aromas will fill the house! Until the big dinner, the kids will play games, watch movies, and if the weather's dry, we'll walk down to the little historic village that's close by. With an old school house, cabins, blacksmith shop, caboose, and train depot to explore, there's plenty to keep kids busy while the turkey is roasting.

During these brisk days of November, we are thankful for so much. The day brings to mind the words of an old hymn that read, "all are safely gathered in, e're the winter storms begin."

Wherever you are across the miles, we're sending you good wishes for a happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 22

how many eggs?

As the days grow shorter, we've been collecting fewer eggs...some days 6, some days only 4. Which is why we were so surprised a couple of days ago.

Little Man went out to visit the girls and collect the eggs. He called from the coop, "There are 13 eggs!"
Sweet Girl gave me a puzzled look, shook her head, then dashed to the coop just to make sure her brother had counted correctly. Why yes, he had.

How is this possible?! We gathered all the eggs the day before...it was late afternoon, and 4 were in the nest boxes. Let's do the math...even if the other 2 gals had decided to gift us with an egg each, the next day the most we would have counted would have been 8.

Our nearest neighbor just turned 76 years old...not the sort to sneak to the coop under the cover of darkness, add eggs, then dash back home for a good chuckle. Our other neighbors just aren't close to our home.

Of course anything is possible...however; I'm keeping my eyes open for a golden egg next!

the evidence...

Friday, November 18

my, oh my, pumpkin pie...sugar scrub!

Sugar scrubs have become my go-to for quick & easy family & friend gifts. With so many fragrances available, the options really seem endless. So today I've been tinkering (and avoiding other work that definitely needs doing!) with "recipes" and this pumpkin pie version seems just right for Thanksgiving.

So, if you're looking for a hostess gift to take along to Mom's or Grandma's next week, you may want to give her a jar of Pumpkin Pie Sugar Scrub. It's ready in a jiffy, but don't tell anyone...they'll think it took you
all afternoon! (On second thought, go ahead and tell...it would be fun for the girls to make several batches
while the boys are watching football!)

Pumpkin Pie Sugar Scrub

1/2 c. white sugar
1 c. brown sugar, packed
2 T. pumpkin pie spice
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 c. plus 1/2 T. sunflower oil*

Whisk together sugars, pie spice, and cinnamon. Add oil; stir to blend. Spoon into jars for gift giving. Makes about 2 cups.

*You can certainly use any oil you have on hand; however, I like sunflower oil because it doesn't have the strong aroma that so many other oils have.

I hope you enjoy this...I'm off to tinker with a candy cane scrub next. After all, the holidays will be here soon!
I'm also linking up to Verde Farm for their Farm Friend Friday...drop in for a visit, it's always lots of fun!

Thursday, November 10

a beautiful full moon...

The kids are off today and we're spending time with Grandma this morning, so I was up bright & early.
I'm glad I was, or I might have missed this beautiful moon as it began to sink into the west about 6:30 a.m.

The forecast is for a bit of snow tomorrow...yikes! That has us getting into high speed to wrap up outdoor chores. Last Saturday was spent cleaning the coop from top to bottom, and am I ever glad we covered the floor with vinyl flooring. Once it was swept and dusted out, mopping made the floor look almost new again.
Ahhh, yes, happy hens indeed.

This weekend has us clearing a spot for a wood pile and putting the garden to bed. Sweet Girl has a roller skating birthday party with friends, so it will be a good Saturday.

It's a lovely time of year...the season's first fire in the fireplace, snuggling under cozy quilts, the crunch of leaves underfoot. Hope you're enjoying every minute.

"Summer's loss seems little, dear, on days like these."
-Ernest Dowson

Monday, November 7

unexpected surprises...

Each day I have the opportunity to lend a hand in Little Man's class. His teacher is just terrific and it's a joy to help out with the kids in her classroom.

Really, it's so much fun, not work at all (perhaps I should have been a teacher??), which is all the more reason I was so touched when I received this thank you gift from his teacher last week.

"Just a little something for you to enjoy over Thanksgiving," she said.

What a sweet lady...what a heartfelt gesture.

And so, I thought I'd share her kindness with you. If someone has been on your mind...a neighbor, friend, or someone who needs a bit of cheering up, why not make a centerpiece for them to enjoy over Thanksgiving?
Simply set a pillar candle in the center of a glass cylinder, surround it with a mixture of nuts and cranberries, and ta-da, you're done! Don't have a cylinder...use a smaller pillar candle tucked inside quart-size Mason jar.

I promise, not only will you feel good because you brightened someone's day, you're absolutely going to touch their heart and make them smile!

Wednesday, November 2

simple joys for November...

...create a fall wreath for your door, they're so easy and will be the perfect harvest welcome for family & friends. Simply cut a circle or square from cardboard to make a base, then cut a circle or square out of the center. Using tacky glue, cover the cardboard with colorful leaves from your own yard. Top the leaves with nuts & bittersweet berries, or mini Indian corn; glue in place. Set aside until the glue has dried, then slip a length of ribbon through the center and tie into a long loop for hanging.

...take time to write in your journal (Don't have one you say? Then it's time you did!). Make notes and jot down thoughts of all the things in your life you are grateful for. This is the time of year to slow down, take the days a bit slower, and really enjoy all of the blessings in our lives.

...make pine cone turkeys for your Thanksgiving table. Come on...you remember them, and the kids will giggle with delight as they help you create a whole flock!

...watch the Thanksgiving Day parades in your jammies. Parades are still as much fun to watch as they were when you were a kid!

...if you haven't done so yet, it's time (at least here in the Midwest!) to pull your flannel sheets out of the linen closet and lay an extra quilt at the foot of each bed. There's nothing like curling up under these cozy sheets on a frosty night. Although, I admit, it is difficult to get out of that cozy bed each morning!

...make a fire in the fireplace and settle into a cozy spot with a favorite book. If you don't have a fireplace, light candles to create that cozy glow. Enjoy the season you are in.

...don't rush out to go shopping the day after Thanksgiving. Instead, make it a day to relax...put on some Christmas music, set a pot of soup to simmer on the stove, jot down gift ideas, and really enjoy the beginning of the holiday season.
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