Welcome to our 1864 farmhouse…life is good!

Friday, December 23

fingers crossed...

It's two days before Christmas and right now I'm settled in by the fireplace having (yet another) mug of hot chocolate. The fire is crackling, which is such a comforting sound, contrasting sharply with the sound of icy, gusty wind that's making the windows in this old house rattle like the rigging on a sailboat caught in a storm. 

I say fingers crossed, because I'm afraid that if I actually say "it", I may jinx myself. Let's just say with a temperature of -8 degrees and a wind chill of -30, I'm so grateful that the Elektron (in Greek) is still on and hasn't even flickered.

Yesterday allowed for just one more chance to check and double-check lists for anything that might need doing, while at the same time my phone continued to alert me of a Winter Storm Warning. Outside I noticed gentle rain showers, as the temperature was still fairly warm at 40 degrees. Then, sure enough, as the evening sun plunged below the horizon, the temperatures plunged with it and flurries danced in the wind. 

Now it's about time for another trip outside to get goats & chickens tucked in for the night. Bailey and I will bundle up head to toe (or for her, head to paw), and while we're certainly not stylish, we'll be as warm as possible and moving as quickly as possible.

And so, just in case we do lose Elektron, I want to wish you a very Merry Christmas. May you be warm, safe, and enjoying this special time of year.

Below is the greeting you'll find on our door, and below it, one of my very
favorite Christmas quotes.

"Children all over the world are eagerly awaiting midnight
and the arrival of Santa Claus.

In a few hours from now, many of you will attend midnight
services in the church of your faith.

It is the Silent Night, the Holy Night, it is the solemn,
thought provoking night that precedes the dawn of another joyful Christmas.

Of the many gifts men cherish most this Christmas Eve,
surely the one all spirits yearn for, is the illusive gift of peace. 

Peace on earth good will toward men, so it was eloquently
phrased in ages past.

May each and every one of you find that abiding peace in
your own hearts this Christmas Eve.

And if enough of us, in enough places, earnestly and bravely
seek out such peace, the world cannot help but heed this
growing desire for lasting good.

So amid all your holiday rejoicing, pause for just a moment,
won't you? To add your silent prayer to the fulfillment
of that great promise:

peace on earth, good will toward men."

-Harold Peary
The Great Gildersleeve radio show, 1940-1954

Monday, December 19

when the weather forecast says...

There's nothing like reading this when skimming the early morning news...



Well, that will get the mind racing! As always, when predictions like this are the leading new story, overnight we'll see grocery shelves become low or completely bare of basic supplies. And while I keep food storage and water on hand, I admit, I do add a few more items to the shelves,
"just in case." 

Living on a farm, there are always extras added to the "to-do" list when the forecast is like this one. Immediately I think of 4 things: food, water, heat, and animal care. 


check food storage, and know that cooking in the fireplace, on a camp stove, or grill is always an option if the power is out.


there are two large tanks in the basement - one 60-gallon and one 30-gallon, both filled with water. Without city water, no power here means the water pump won't run, so no water.


There are 4 cords of firewood in the barn, along with extra wood that could be split if needed. It's time to double-check the kerosene and small propane heaters and generator, and also to see how much fuel is on hand. 

Animal care:

By late October, heat lamps have been secured and heated water buckets are set up. Tarps are also in place to help block cold air. Chickens will get scratch and warm mash to help keep them warm, and goats will get extra feed and grains.

And then there are odds & ends...

plug the outside dryer vent with quilt batting so the washer lines don't freeze in the laundry room (don't forget to run out in the freezing cold to unplug the vent when it's time to dry laundry) 

and run an extra-long, extra-hot dishwasher cycle to help prevent the dishwasher water lines from freezing. Yes, both of these have happened, and the repairs are just too expensive to take a chance and not do them.

Whew, while preparing for Old Man Winter, we're still making ready for Christmas, so I thought I'd share a few photos:

from a favorite prim/antique shop...

I found an 1850-60's Oakleaf Wreath cutter quilt piece 
that was too sweet to pass up

And keeping it real...

this tangled mess is what I discovered when I pulled out the tree lights.
Really? What was I thinking last year?!

The countdown is on friends...I hope you're settled in and cozy surrounded by twinkling lights, candlelight, with your feet up, sipping chocolaty cocoa. 


Sunday, December 11

baking with Mae...

When the December sky is a gun-barrel gray and any warmth from the sunshine is lost behind the thick clouds and blown away by the brisk winds, there is always something that I know will bring me warmth...baking in the farmhouse kitchen. 

Built 158 years ago, I often think back to the many women who prepared meals in this old farmhouse, and as someone who loves history, it's been fun over the years to cook in the kitchen fireplace...an antique tin kitchen/reflector oven makes the best roast turkey! 

But this past week, it was Mae and I who did the baking. Just for fun, I've named some of my vintage items...the little 1963 Camper is Maizy, my road-side find 1956 sewing machine is Fern, and Mae is my 1950 Hotpoint stove. Mae is a big 40-inch-wide workhorse...if you'd like, you can read the story of how she came to the farm here.  With 2 ovens she can bake double what I could before - she's a gem!

Pies were needed for a church get-together, and then I thought I'd try a couple of recipes from my blogging friends.

Staci at Life at Cobble Hill Farm, was kind enough to share her recipe for cranberry-orange biscotti - I've never made biscotti before, but I love the combination of cranberries & orange...it was wonderful!

Not nearly as pretty as Staci's - I need to work on my rolling/cutting skills, but they were oh-so delicious!

Then I wanted to make the sticky ginger cake from Jules at Along the WayExcited to try her recipe, I dusted off my food scale and I was meticulous in converting grams to cups.

However...my apologies Jules. I didn't choose the correct pan size, so I had an overflowing, not-so-pretty loaf. Well, to try and save the day, I used my cookie dough scoop and made sticky ginger balls. Again, not the exact recipe from Jules, but the flavor was amazing and it's a recipe I'll make again (with a larger pan!)

This coming week will find my son home from college for Christmas break...he has a couple more exams and my daughter just completed hers - and so the holidays begin!

In a drafty old country farmhouse on a cold December evening, it's time for me to settle in on this Sunday evening...a cozy blanket, a mug of cocoa, and our local PBS station is showing 3 back-to-back episodes of All Creatures Great and Small...heaven for me!

I'll say goodbye with a photos of Santa on the blue barn shelves and some of my favorite ornaments on the little old-fashioned tree.

...have a good week, friends!

Friday, December 2

on the mend!

A short note to say "Thanks" to all for the sweet get-well messages...COVID has passed, now to get on with the fun of the holiday season!

I'm one who loves tradition...pumpkin carving, decorating the tree, sparklers on the 4th of July. And so to give Thanksgiving and Fall their due, I never put up any Christmas decorations until December 1 - except this year, I did! 

Source: Unknown

I know, I know, it's not like me; however, while preparing for Thanksgiving my daughter thought it would be nice if her brother came home that week and there was holiday sparkle to welcome him...something to help push aside the stresses of freshman year at college and the pressures of mid-term exams. 

What a great idea! Mantels were decorated, wreaths on the doors, greenery draped along the porch, skinny tree positioned in the front window. And you know what? She was right! It added a bit more fun to those few days, and honestly, now the month of December has less things on the "to-do" list. 

Saturday we took our usual trek to the tree farm, the day was gorgeous (and believe me, when it's rainy/muddy/icy/freezing, it is not the magical experience it should be.)  The kids found the prettiest tree and now it's in place with just white lights...when exams are over in a couple of weeks, and we're all together, we'll complete the decorating. 


A couple of years ago I remember reading this:

Christmas is not a competition
of how decorated your house is,
of how perfectly perfect your gifts are,
of how busy your days and nights are,
of how much baking you do,
of how many homemade gifts you can crank out,
of how beautiful your family is (or appears to be).
let's all. 

I've always thought it was one of the best posts I've ever read...you can find it here

And so in an effort to continue to follow that advice, this is what I'm looking at right now...trying to keep it simple while holding onto traditions. 

And so it's the end of another week...I hope you're cozy, feet up, and easing into this wonderful time of year. 

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