Friday, November 28, 2008

Mississippi Scenery

Here's a glimpse of the scenery outside our front door here in Mississippi. My husband's parents live in a lovely cabin next to this lake and it makes visiting extra special.
Little boys sure like catching fish in the lake.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Everything pumpkin...

My daughters and I love pumpkin everything...bars, dessert, quick bread, pancakes, cheesecake, lattes and most especially pie! We are traveling to Seattle this Thanksgiving, and fortunately asked to bring the pumpkin pies. I made them up on Tuesday as our travel day will be Wednesday. It's hard to wait to taste them. The leaves I made out of the pastry scraps, and was exited to see this morning that they had curled at the tips....just like real dried leaves would do, an added delight.
For everyone in our family that reads this I hope you all have a blessed and warm Thanksgiving. I will be in Washington State and Julie in Mississippi for the next few we will get back to blogging on our return.
"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O my God"

Sunday, November 23, 2008

An Early Thanksgiving

We will not be home this Thanksgiving, and my insurance man
was beginning to worry about the lack of turkey leftovers.
So, when we bought a couple of turkeys to freeze, I decided
to cook one up for an early Thanksgiving, and eat the leftovers
until we left.
It was a cold day outside on Thursday, with the clouds
hanging so low they were just tatters among the trees. It
was a perfect day for baking and cooking, so I set the mood
with candles burning and soft music playing.
I put on my Mom's turkey cooking apron and felt
ready for the task. She made this apron in high school
home ec class (1940's), and always wore it in the kitchen when
cooking for the holidays. It is a wonderful apron, and fits 'just perfect'.
It has held up so well, and I would love to copy it...but that would
mean tearing it up into it's pieces to cut out others, and I just
can't bring myself to do that. It's a red print on white with cute
zigzag trim. I keep it on display and usually confine myself to
using it on days that I'm going to be in the kitchen alot.

The first thing I did was make up a batch of pumpkin chocolate chip
muffins. One is missing, so I guess you can see the benefits
of doing the cooking...the tasting : ) I got this recipe from
another blog, and they were wonderful. I sent some with
my insurance man back to the office for an afternoon staff

Around lunch time I made the stuffing and got the turkey
all ready to go. I come from a long line of really good turkey
roasters. My Mom was a wonderful cook, and she learned
from her aunt that she lived with after age 8. Her aunt's name
was Jennie and she was a wonderful and particular cook. This is
Jennie's roaster that has been passed down to me. It does a really good job
as you can see by the results. We have tried several turkey
cooking methods, deep frying, smoking, brining etc. But nothing
beats our old roaster. We invited company, and celebrated
an early Thanksgiving Thursday night with some of the trimmings.
Growing up for me meant not only a really good turkey dinner, but
lots of family and company at the table. Families were larger then, and
my Mom had 7 siblings. Holiday dinners tended to be a gathering of the clan
and all ages were grouped around the table. I remember fondly
the fun we had not only eating, but playing with lots of cousins
for the whole day.

This is Thanksgiving in 1955. It was a smaller group than
usual, with my family...and Mom's sister and her family and
a stray brother. The turkey was large, and took center stage

In 1957 there was a larger group. Mom always included
elderly relatives and friends, even on most Sunday dinners.
One uncle had contracted polio, and in the photo above
he is shown with his table 'gear' that allowed him
to eat by himself.

This is the other side of the table, and we are down to
the pie course now. In looking at this photo today, I noticed
that the sugar, creamer, and serving bowl are in my
kitchen cupboards and in regular use. It's so nice to have a
legacy of utensils, dishes, cooking instructions and especially
hospitality to look back on.
Good Memories

It's only my brother and I now...and Mom has only 1 sister left of the
original eight kids. Things change...but we are going to visit my
brother and family this Thanksgiving, and for the first time in many years
we will celebrate together. I'm looking forward to it.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A lovely inheritance of crocheted linens...

There is something wonderful to me about the love and effort that went into hand crocheting lovely items to beautify a home. My husband and I are so fortunate to come from women that valued beauty and created many lovely things. The above magazine cost 10 cents in 1923. This was typically the way women would find new patterns to try out. This particular copy was addressed to a great grandma of ours in October of 1923, and I have several from that year.
Below is a crocheted tablecloth, and I can only guess at how many hours went into making it. I have many crocheted items displayed and in use in my home, and all were inherited from the various lines of our families.The intricate patterns are so beautiful and creative.

My insurance man took this inherited dresser and refinished it. I asked him to please leave off the mirror and add a piece of dowling so I could display some of my pieces...

and daily enjoy the beauty and workmanship.

I have a stack of doilies in white and ecru that make me feel positively rich,

and the variety and creativity in the sizes and patterns are inspiring. I have noticed that in antique malls and 2nd hand shops crocheted pieces go for next to nothing. That's great for those who love them, but it is a sign that we have forgotten what 'hand-made' means.

One other category I especially love is my antimacassars. The definition is: A piece of ornamented cloth that protects the back of a chair from hair oils. Isn't it great that so much time, thought and effort went into an ornamented cloth designed to protect the back of chairs and sofa's?
A rose patterned antimacassar...doesn't the pattern show up beautifully on dark upholstery?
"O Lord God, without the pardon of my sin I cannot rest satisfied,
without the renovation of my nature by grace I can never rest easy,
without the hopes of heaven I can never be at peace.
All this I have in thy son Jesus; blessed be his name."

Beautiful Blanket #2

This beautiful blanket was made by my Grandma Bethel. She has hand-stitched a blanket for each of my children also. Each one is a treasure. I think the hand-stitching part is getting harder for her to do but she still manages to do it to get a blanket to each of her great-grandchildren. Grandma, we really love the cat and the hearts you put on here. We had great fun opening it!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Beautiful Ponderosa Pines

We live in a Central Oregon area of undisputed natural beauty. Our own neighborhood is called 'King's Forest' mainly because of our beautiful big Ponderosa Pines. The housing subdivision was started about 1980 and these trees (and many junipers) were left. One of the things that drew us to our home in 1992 was the size of the lot. In an era of increasingly smaller and smaller lots, our neighborhood has lot sizes ranging from 1/2 to 1 acre of natural high desert beauty. I love our pines...they are gorgeous to look at with the green against a pale blue autumn sky....they smell good and sharp....and when the wind blows there is nothing like the sound of the wind blowing through the pines. In our hot summers, breezes in the pines will always be a special memory. They also drop wonderful pine cones...great for a basket before the fireplace, or food for the squirrels.
We must have at least a dozen of these trees either in our yard or right on the property line. We are blessed!

One thing they do that is not quite as nice is shed their pine needles twice a year in spring and fall. (A pine's version of dropping fall leaves) I posted a clean-up-our-yard post last week about cleaning up these needles. But it seems that every fall needs a good strong wind to blow the last of the leaves or in our case needles off the trees. You guessed it, we had several days of high winds and storms last week. A whole new batch of needles came down. So early Saturday morning found us out once again raking up the needles. This time was much faster however, as the layer was thin and scattered. We were able to rake them up and plop them on top of last week's pile in about an hour.

We put them in our utility trailer along with last Saturday's...

and the whole trailer full went off to our dump, where it was 1/2 off yard debris day. Everything looks ready for winter now. The pines have no more brown needles, but only bright green...and the dirt below them will remain clear until next spring. It isn't quite time for the holidays until this chore is finished up for the let the holidays begin!
You say, 'If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.' You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled. --Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Two Saturday Project

My insurance man owns his own little office building and his own business. This means some maintenance needs to happen occasionally. The last two Saturdays we painted the interior of the office...since it had been about 14 years since it last saw a new coat of paint. This has the end result of not only a new color and feel, but it looks a lot cleaner and we threw away 14 years of accumulation also. The color is one of those nice ones that change with the light. In the strong early morning light it is a 'coffee with cream' color, and in the late afternoon it looks almost a creamy yellow. Very nice and easy on the eyes. It feels good to have that project done, and the furniture back in its place.
His office building is a former little house with the insurance office on one side and they rent out the other to a hearing aid office. We are grateful to own the building and grateful it is not any bigger! After the holidays we will tackle a little touch-up on the trim and a few other improvements. A little improving at a time does wonder for the spirit...

"When thou hast thanked thy God
For every blessing sent,
What time will then remain
For murmurs or lament?"

Archbishop Richard Chenevix Trench

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Beautiful Blanket #1

I wanted to share some pictures of the blanket that my mom crocheted for Cecily. It really is pretty. She used variegated yarn to do something original, since she's exhausted all the "baby" colors on blankets for my other kids. These blankets are definitely best showcased with a cutie baby on them!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Roasting Veggies

After seeing cooks on several blogs mention roasting vegetables, and then a how-to article this week in our newspaper...I decided to try it out. I first made a trip out to our garden where we still have beets and parsnips in the ground (a major feat in this mountain climate) I scrubbed and cut up the parsnips into similar sized pieces....and peeled an onion to add to them.I then scrubbed the beets, and similarly cut them up. I put them in the pan with the parsnips before the cutting up just to enjoy their beauty together.
After cutting them up I separated them, as my insurance man is not a beet lover. I put the onions and parsnips together, and the beets separately....drizzled olive oil over them and generously seasoned with salt and pepper.

I cooked them at 500 degrees for about 40 minutes for the parsnips and close to an hour for the beets. The directions said to use a low sided pan, preferably stainless steel, but since I didn't have that I used a small roaster and an old corning ware dish.

We ate the parsnips and onions that night, and they were delicious. The parsnips had a wonderful texture and flavor, and we love roasted onions. A real benefit is that the parsnip skins were soft and we lost none of their nutrition.

The beets are stowed in the refrigerator for me to enjoy over the week-end. Their skins are crispy and I may decide to rub them off...we'll see. It was an enjoyable time in the kitchen.
Psalm 107:1
"O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever."

Twice-baked sweet potatoes

A couple of nights ago I tried out a new recipe for twice-baked sweet potatoes because I thought I might like to make it for Thanksgiving, but wanted to test it out first. I'm not sure yet if I'm going to do it for Thanksgiving but they were definitely a hit with my kids. I suppose it had partly to do with the fact that I served them with beef stroganoff, which is not their favorite meal to see on the table. In comparison, they were really impressed with the sweet potatoes! It was what my 5 year old son said that made me decide to blog about it. Ben used many rapturous statements to express his love for this new food. The one I liked best was something like this, " Mom, when I get big and I'm going to leave the house, right before I leave to go out to live on my own, could you please write down this recipe for me?" Cute, huh? My mom suggested that I keep a computer file where I can easily record cute things that my kids say so that I won't forget. I think I might start that and put this in there. Maybe one day I'll actually remember to give this recipe to Ben before he leaves the house!
Twice-baked Sweet Potatoes

4 medium sweet potatoes (about 2 pounds), scrubbed and halved lengthwise
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup milk, or as needed
4 Tbs. butter (1/2 stick)
1/4 tsp. salt
freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup miniature marshmallows for garnish
Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 4o0 degrees.
Place potatoes cut side down on a foil or parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until fork-tender, about 30 minutes. Let cool slightly. Holding potato half with a pot holder, scoop potato flesh into a blender or food processor, leaving a 1/4 inch shell. Repeat with remaining potatoes; set shells aside. With motor running, gradually add both milks to potatoes. Add butter, then process, adding a little more milk if necessary, until potatoes are silky smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon puree back into potato shells. Sprinkle marshmallows over potatoes. Place on baking sheet and bake until potatoes are hot and marshmallows are golden brown, 10-12 minutes. Serve hot.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

West Coast Welcome Lights

Welcome East Coast delight.

After Julie moved to Pennsylvania, we visited her there fairly often, having never been to the East Coast before. There were many differences as the East and West Coasts have their own cultures. Loving history and old houses, I was enchanted with the large old colonial homes, many wooden painted white and many brick or stone. Every evening as dusk came on, little welcome lights would light up the windows of these beautiful homes. We often took walks or car rides just to look at the lovely graceful windows, curtains and welcoming lights. What a beautiful custom. Today's lights are electrical, battery powered or even solar powered. They are a tribute to days long gone (but not forgotten) when candles were placed in the windows to welcome home family members, or to welcome guests to the home and hearth. Welcome lights are not usually seen on the West Coast, and on returning home I found some electrical ones for my downstairs windows. I placed these at 4 small windows on the ground floor, and found 4 more battery lights for my upstairs windows where no outlets were available. The photo above shows the smaller battery powered light and the photo below the stronger electrical one. I have chosen to use the lights seasonally, and place them in the windows in October when the nights are growing longer and the days shorter. There is something so comforting to come home to the lights when it's dark and stormy out, or to be indoors looking out at the weather but see the little sturdy lights spreading their beams. They are even nice on cold grey days in winter...and I have them on all day as homemade soup is simmering on the stove. What a nice tradition that we have brought home with us from our visits to Julie.

Lord, thank you for being the light of the shine during mankinds dark and stormy lead us home to you. Amen

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Personal Veterans Day Tribute

This post is a day late....that is a day after Veterans Day Celebrations. However I have three very special veterans in my life, all of whom served honorably but differently in sacrifice for their families, country and freedom. This is in tribute to three very special men.This is my father-in-law, Larry C. Asmussen. He is in his army uniform here in 1942. Due to eyesight problems he never got an opportunity to serve overseas. He did however serve his country well here at home.
This is my father, Frank A. Vernon. He served in the Pacific during WW II, in the Army Air Corp. He flew with the 494th Bomb Group, in 'Kelly's Cobras.'

This is a photo of Frank's plane the 'Wolf', where he served as a waiste gunner.

And this is the veteran closest to my heart, John C. Asmussen. John served with the Oregon National Guard starting in 1971, during the Viet Nam War.

Well done faithful men!

Thank you Lord, for these and all the others who have sacrificed. Thank you for allowing me to be born in America and to experience first hand this freedom.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Farewell Summer...

This is a view from our back deck, with the hollyhocks and our big ponderosa pines behind them. I was a little reluctant this year to say goodbye to my flowers and cut back all the perennials for winter. I love the changing seasons, and fall is my favorite, but I do miss the flowering of spring and summer. But November is here, and it is time to say goodbye to summer and even fall, and hello to winter. We live at the edge of the Oregon High Desert, and fall has been spectacular here this year. This is one of my flowering crab apple trees after all the leaves have blown off. The fruit is not edible but provides gorgeous color, and they stay on as if glued all winter long. They bloom beautifully in spring, then provide soft green shade and beauty in summer, and finally this pretty color in fall and winter. What great trees! We even tie plastic eggs on at Easter for an Easter tree some years.
Last weekend we cleaned out a flowerbed, and planted it with these red and yellow tulip bulbs. We scooped 5 inches of dirt out of the flowerbed and laid out all the bulbs, then we added a couple of inches back and put down the smaller anemone bulbs to bloom around the tulips. We finally covered everything back up, and watered it well. I hope the flowerbed looks like this photo on the bag come next spring.

Our final project was to rake up the leaves...there aren't too many as most of our shrubs and trees are evergreen here in the Pacific Northwest. What we do rake up goes into our compost and is bagged to go into the compost this winter. They compost up so well. Below is my companion in yard work !

Then the very last thing is to rake up all the pine needles...(we have LOTS of big Ponderosa Pines on our property and on the neighbors property) and these go into our utility trailer to be hauled to the dump this coming Saturday. It feels so good to get these projects done for the coming winter.

We have had a few snow flurries, and temperatures down into the low 30's and even 20's. But we also have had moderate afternoons, where being outside is still a pleasure. Alas, the weatherman has predicted rain, wind and snow for the coming we can relax indoors, knowing that our work is done for now...and say hello to winter.

This is what a corner of our backyard looks like, all bare for winter. At least there are still green areas with our grass and evergreens...and it will look much better with a robe of beautiful white soon. I will take some more photos then.
Lord, thank you for the changing of the seasons...and the work you have given in tending our gardens.
"...for all thy works display thy attributes and fulfil thy designs; the sea, dry land, winter cold, summer heat, morning light, evening shade are full of thee, and thou givest me them richly to enjoy." Isaac Watts

Friday, November 7, 2008

Blessings of Granddaughters

In the last 18 months
we have been blessed
with three beautiful granddaughters...This is Amelia 'Milly' Sue Jones, born April 8, 2007
and this is Milly, Oct. 2008

This is Macy Hope Snead, born Sept. 25, 2008...

and this is Macy one year later...

This is our newest girl...Cecily Mae Jones
born Oct. 2, 2008

We are reveling in lacy socks, curls and everything pink after the birth of 4 consecutive grandsons. Sugar and spice... we are blessed!
Thankful hearts for our family...and especially these three little girls