Christmas Tree Round 2 and Other Strange Happenings

Hello and Welcome.

On Saturday we discovered that our Christmas tree that had only been up for two weeks was dying. STRANGE. It was losing needles quickly and if we brushed or bumped a branch the needles rained down completely coving the tree skirt. At that rate it would soon be naked. I have never seen a Christmas tree die so quickly. In fact, the tree we had last year still had needles on it this spring, even though it was taken out of the house shortly after Christmas and left at the farm to die.

On Sunday we undecorated our Christmas tree and my husband went to the farm to cut a replacement tree. We brought the new tree in and set it in the stand but decided it was best to let the snow melt off the branches before we decorated it. On Monday afternoon I put the lights, ornaments and candy canes on the new tree.

My husband added the angel when he got home. This tree, that seems perfect in every other way, is missing a tall center branch on top that typically holds the angel, so our angel is in the center on top of the tree but nestled in amongst the outward reaching top branches. A unique Christmas tree indeed.

The dying Christmas tree is not the strangest thing that has happened though. That would have to be the forsythia bushes that blossomed at the farm about three weeks ago. There were two of them in full bloom. (I didn’t get a picture.) That is not supposed to happen this time of year. Our forsythias always blossom in May. STRANGE.

We also had bulbs, likely daffodils, sprouting in the prayer garden last week. That too should not happen until spring. STRANGE.

The other thing that is different this year than in past years is the chickens. Normally they stop laying when they molt in the fall or at least begin producing less eggs sometime in November. We get fewer and fewer eggs through December until we hit a low. After that it’s usually sometime in February, or around the time the sap begins flowing, that the hens begin laying more eggs again.

This year the flock began to molt in October and by November there were feathers everywhere and I was getting only one egg every other day. I expected this to last until February but about two weeks ago we began getting more eggs on some days and it has gradually increased until we were getting three eggs each day this week and then today, we got five eggs. STRANGE. (I wonder if the sap is flowing)

Even though I find this to be weird I’m not complaining – in fact I’m thrilled, especially since during our dearth my husband was buying eggs from a neighboring farm for $4.00 a dozen.

I don’t think it’s strange that I finished making Christmas gifts for my kids and grandkids last weekend though usually I’m not done quite so early. Since I had some time to spare, I decided to make myself a Christmas present. No, I didn’t wrap it and put it under the tree.

I put it on yesterday evening and my husband is now calling me Candy Cane. It’s made with flannel and I’m quite happy with the way it turned out and how it looks on me.

I finished up wrapping gifts today and tomorrow, Christmas Eve, I will spend cleaning and getting an early start on cooking for our family brunch on Christmas day. I am so looking forward to having the kids and grandkids here for the day.

Thank you for visiting and from our home to home and from our hearts to your heart we wish you a

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

What I Really Want for Christmas

This post shared by a fellow blogger expresses my feelings so well that I needed to share it. The only change would be to sign it – Love MOM.

Mitch Teemley

My wife and I have reached that stage where we have to “share” our kids with their significant others’ families at Christmas. OK, OK, technically I suppose “their” families have just as much right to them as we do. But “their” families could at least have had the courtesy of relocating to our statecity neighborhood (preferably next door). Anyway, the point is: our time with them is becoming increasingly limited and, therefore, more precious than ever, although this year will at least beat last year’s Merry Zoom-mas (“Hold your gift up to the camera so we can see it!”). So, faux curmudgeonlyness aside, when I read the following, it struck a major dad-chord with me:

What I Want for Christmas

~ Always and forever ~

Dad

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Alive and Kicking

Hello and welcome!

It’s been over three weeks since I my last post. This has been the longest period in between posts since I started this blog in May of 2015. Even though I am still dealing with pain and numbness in my right arm, due to a pinched nerve, I think it’s time to start writing again or at least let readers know I’m still alive and kicking (click the link for the idiom reference).

Here’s some bits and pieces from the last three weeks.

Managing

To address my pinched nerve I have continued to receive chiropractic adjustments twice a week, I have been doing daily exercises or stretches and taking some supplements to help relieve the pain. I have been able to maintain most of my regular activities. Sitting at my computer is still the most painful activity. In fact, right now my computer has literally become a laptop and I am sitting in my recliner while I tap away at the keys. Sleeping has also been difficult. I can usually find one position that is comfortable but when I need to change positions it usually takes a while to find another comfortable position. The other activity that I’ve not been doing is crocheting – thankfully I I was not planning on crocheting Christmas gifts this year.

I have come to accept that this condition is probably the result of decades of bad posture, and it is going to take some time to correct. There is NO quick fix. Meanwhile I’m managing.

Weather Report

Our weather has been like a roller coaster ride. We have had days that are warm and sunny, some that are rainy, on a couple of days we have gotten 2-3 inches of snow that has melted over the next day or two. We even had a windstorm that knocked out our electricity for about 15 hours on Saturday/Sunday.

Christmas Is Coming

Christmas is just over a week away and I’m getting really excited. I have been spending a great deal of my time making Christmas gifts. It’s a good thing that most of the recipients don’t live with me because I would probably just give them out as I finished each one (like I did with my husband) then have nothing to give on Christmas.

I made my husband these boxer shorts, and when I had them finished I couldn’t wait to give them to him. I was so happy to find out that they fit perfectly, and he loves them.

The rest of my homemade gifts this year are also things that I have sewn. At the time of this writing, besides the boxers, I have 7 items that I have completed and only one more to do. Of course, I won’t be posting pictures of those projects until after Christmas because I don’t want to ruin the surprise for those who will receive them.

It was a warm day in the first week of December when we went to the farm to pick out our Christmas tree. We walked the perimeter of the back field then up the west property line toward the front, the two areas where most of our spruce trees are planted. We examined each tree, looking at things like its size and shape, as well as how straight its trunk was, and did it have a lot of dry needles.

The Norway spruce that we selected was one of the last ones we looked at. One of my favorite things about this tree is how its branches reach upward as if in joy or praise. I think it is a quite cheery tree.

I’m also getting excited about the New Year. Normally I don’t get very excited about the New Year – it’s just something that happens but last weekend my husband and I were doing some shopping and I spotted this 2022 wall calendar with my verse on it.

I couldn’t resist buying it and am now looking forward to hanging it in my kitchen.

Thanks for visiting.

What have you been up to? Are you looking forward to Christmas?

When It Hurts To Write

Last time I posted it really was my intention to be caught up by now, and even do some posts about soap making that one of my readers requested. However, for the last week pain in my back and right arm, due to a pinched nerve, has prevented me from spending much time on my computer. Even sitting at my desk scrolling through articles will trigger the pain. Yesterday I began chiropractic treatment, but because of the holiday tomorrow I will not have a second treatment until Monday. I have also begun a couple of exercises that seem to help relieve the pain, but until I find more relief I’m afraid I will be taking a bit of a blogging break. Hopefully it won’t be long.

To all of my U.S. readers we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving.

I’ll just leave you with this picture of one of my sewing projects from last week.

My sister gifted me this fabric. As I was wondering what I would do with it she said “You need a Christmas apron don’t you?” So here it is – because everybody needs a Christmas apron – Right?

P.S. Thanks K.C. 😀

Catching Up

Hello and welcome!

Once again I’ve fallen behind in blogging. In this post I am sharing some of my activities from the week of November 1st – 7th. I plan to get another post, highlighting November 8th – 14th, up early next week. If all goes as planned I will be caught up. 🙂

Monday Nov 1 – I rendered beef suet into tallow. Suet is raw hard fat found around the loins and kidneys of the cow. For the last few years we have been buying our beef from a local farmer. we purchase a quarter of a cow at a time. Once the cow goes to the butcher or processor I have to call them and give them instructions for cutting and wrapping the meat. At this time I ask to have the suet included in our order. Most people who buy their meat this way to not want the suet so I always have to ask.

Rendering is the process of cleaning the suet. To do this I cut the suet into small pieces. It’s easiest to cut when cold or partially frozen. I then put it in my crock pot on high until it is completely melted.

Tuesday, Nov 2 – The suet was still in the melting process Monday when I was ready to go to bed so I just unplugged the crock pot and would finish it on Tuesday. After reheating it I strained the hot fat through 2 or 3 layers of paper towel. When the hot fat (tallow) cools it solidifies and becomes white. (picture above)

Tallow can be used for cooking. (The original McDonald’s french fries were cooked in tallow), candle making and is commonly used for soap making. If you read the ingredients on your store bought bar of soap you won’t see tallow as an ingredient but it is there. It is listed as sodium tallowate which is the result of combining sodium hydroxide (lye) with tallow.

Any solid that are left after rendering the suet are called cracklings. While some people eat these I never have. I decided to feed them to the chickens but my husband said next time don’t bother. When I asked if the chickens did not like them he told me that the chickens would have loved them but instead they were forced to stand by, dining only on bread crusts, as Ranger gobbled up the cracklings.

weighing the tallow

Wednesday, Nov 3 – I made soap. I wanted to use some of the tallow that I just rendered. The recipe I made was an oil combination of 40% coconut oil, 40% tallow and 20% olive oil. This is the first time I used this particular combination so I’ll try to remember to report how it turns out. It will be about 6 weeks before it is ready. I also added aloe to this batch.

Thursday Nov 4 – I did my dad’s grocery shopping. He orders his groceries online then I picked them up from the store. I then went to the dollar store and picked up a few things that he prefers to get from there. I delivered the groceries to dad and helped him with a few chores.

Friday Nov 5 – I took the boys out for their morning walk at the farm.

It was a beautiful fall morning. When we went out, around 10:00 A.M., the sun had melted the heavy frost that had blanket the area in the early morning hours. Our feet/shoes got wet as we tromped though the grass.

The breeze, if any, was gentle.

I observed moments when a single, random, tree would suddenly drop a shower of leaves.

It was and interesting phenomenon as the trees seemed to be taking turns.

Many leaves were still holding on. Fall is not over yet. 🙂

Saturday November 6 – My sister visited.

I still have one sister who lives near-by and we have been trying to block off some time, at least once a month, to spend together.

Last month when I visited her house I returned two bags of books that she had given me earlier this year. They had been passed onto her by our other sister and most she had not read yet. As I packed the books to return to her I stuck slips of paper into some, labeling them “must read” or “good read” so she will know where to start when she digs into this stack of books.

We also looked at different sewing patterns and she showed me some fabrics that she had purchased but wasn’t sure what she would make with them. “Take what you want” she said. There was one flowered print that caught my eye. We agreed that it was beautiful and needed to be made into something but neither of us could decide what. Even though I didn’t have a plan for it I decided to take that piece of fabric.

That fabric nagged at me for a couple of weeks. Because it was a large print I kept thinking that it needed to be turned into a large item of clothing. I searched for patterns for full length skirts and found a few simple ones but I don’t wear skirts very often and I don’t really know anyone who does.

Seemingly out of the blue I remembered the bathrobe pattern that I had. This fabric would make a lovely bathrobe. I bought a contrasting fabric for the trim and decided to make a bathrobe for my sister.

As I was making the robe I would try it on for size and in doing so discovered that as beautiful as this print is it looks horrible on me. Thankfully when my sister put it on it looked gorgeous – elegant, like I had imagined. ” I don’t know if I love it so much that I won’t want to wear it” she said, “or if I love it so much that I will wear it all the time”.

“Wear it all the time!” I told her. That would be the ultimate compliment.

In addition to giving her the robe, I showed her the projects I have planned to make as Christmas gifts. And we solved a few of the world’s problems over lunch. LOL!

Sunday Nov 7 – It was a perfect fall day for being outdoors and I started out by raking leaves.

The maple tree just off our deck had shed most of it’s leaves.

It took about an hour and eight trips with the wheelbarrow to remove the leaves from the front yard.

The maple that stands in front of our house was still holding many of her leaves.

As were many of the trees in the woods behind our home. The work is not finished yet.

After lunch I headed to the farm with my husband and the boys (dogs) to plant garlic. Normally we plant garlic around the middle of October. This year the ground has been too wet and muddy to plant, so we have been waiting for things to dry out a bit. We had decided earlier this year that growing garlic to sell is not in our future, so we were only going to grow enough for us and to be able to share some with family. We were able to get about 250 cloves planted, mulched and fenced (so the chickens couldn’t go digging them up). This is the smallest amount we have planted since we began growing garlic in 2013 and it was a breeze compared to years past. Now we can only pray that the weather stays warm enough for the garlic to get a start before the ground freezes. It will be spring before we know if this crop will survive.

When my husband told me that our son-in-law would be stopping by the farm to winterize his bee hive I decided to take along the gifts I made for Jackson and Addy. I had a hoped that the kids would be with him, but even if they weren’t he could take the gifts home for them – just in time for Addy’s (4th) birthday on Monday.

I hadn’t taken pictures of the super hero capes I made for the kids so my husband hung them from a plant hook and held them so I could get some photos.

Addy loves unicorns so one side of her cape was made from this unicorn fabric.

The capes are reversible so the other side of Addy’s was made with this brilliant yellow, orange and white tie-dye fabric.

I wasn’t sure what Jackson’s favorite thing is currently so I selected this superhero(ish) fabric for one side of his cape.

and this outer space type fabric for the other.

I wasn’t able to give the kids their gifts in person but I received a message from my son-in-law that the kids love the capes and that Addy was pretty insistent on wearing hers to bed. 🙂

If I made you a super hero cape what would you want on it?