Sunday, January 30, 2011

Birdy, Birdy In the Tree


I
Don't know who they are,
but I am glad they came to visit me
and rest in
the old ugly
Sweet Gum tree
in my back yard
that "My Man" keeps threatening
to cut down.
Seeing as how it is
good for nothing.
And adds nothing.
Except those little pointy balls it drops
on his manicured lawn.
It just earned its stay of execution.
It serves as a place of fellowship for
My chatty little birdies,
Whose chirping and cheeping add rhythm to my day,
Yes.
The ugly old Sweet Gum
with its pointy balls
must stay.

snow pic from 1/15....it's the only one I had of sweet gum balls..
I was taking pictures of everything! :)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Crescenty Frosty Morn

I get up before the sun. I also get up before the house. The humans in the house that is.
The three dogs and one cat and I get up. Everyone else sleeps.
The dogs and I sneak down the stairs. I tiptoe, so as not to wake anyone.
The dogs do not tiptoe.
They barge. They scramble.

At the door, I slip on my coat and hat. The hat because I like it, the coat because I need it.

This morning when I flipped on the flood light to head outside, the deck sparkled. As if little fairies spent all night making a special frosting for my deck. It shimmered and twinkled.


The dogs slipped a bit when they charged across the deck on their way to the yard. They are always in a grand hurry.

On my way down to the yard, I look into the bird bath. Is the water frozen this morning? Is it 32 degrees? 32 degrees has always been that "longed-for" temperature for me in the winter. Freezing. This morning doesn't make that mark. The water is not frozen. I wonder about the frozen glistening deck. How then is it glistening if the temperature is more than freezing? What does the temperature have to be for that special frosting to form?

I go down into the yard, and I just stand there. I am there to guard the dogs. I used to stay on the deck until little dog, Oreo, came a few weeks ago. He is too small to be out in the yard in the cover of darkness. Our area has a coyote problem and cats and little dogs are disappearing. The problem times seem to be pre-dawn and dawn and pre-dusk and dusk. So as the dogs do their thing, I just hang out. They spend some time running around the yard, looking for traces of a deer, raccoon, or opossum who might have visited our yard last night.

So as I stand there and guard, I gaze. Think, stare, wonder, praise, bless, dream, gaze.



It is a fantastic morning here. The crescent moon hangs in the dark sky in a magical way. Low in the sky, like you could jump up and touch it. Hmmm...What is that planet right next to it? I didn't want to come back inside. But on my way out the door, I hit "brew" on my coffee maker, so hot coffee should be ready for me inside. And I hope to have time to visit here before the day really begins.

So hello! How is your morning? How are your dogs? Is it cold there? Is your coffee good and hot? What kind of day do you have ahead of you?

I know that one thing I am going to do today is to look up the cycle of the moon. I'm thinking about it now and realize that the moon might not have been "crescent" at all. Does a crescent occur after the full moon? My goal for the day: learn the phases of luna.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Can You Spell?

Two wonderful things happened. One because of the other.

My Sweet Daughter won her 4th grade class's spelling bee last week. She represented them in the 4th-5th grade bee yesterday. I don't know why the school combines the two grades for the bee, but they do. Can you spell doesntmakesense? She didn't win against the 5th graders, but she was the last 4th grader standing. Maybe I'll rename her Sweet and Smart Daughter. Oh, might need to add in Sassy too. SSS Daughter. I kinda like that. I'll run it by her. (I do let people pick their own nicknames here. It seems only fair. I bet she'd approve the Smart addition; I have my doubts about the Sassy.)

Anyway, we were so excited for Sweet Daughter to get as far as she did. Can you spell proud?

Which leads to the second wonderful thing.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake. Oh my lands. Can you spell todiefor?



I wanted to make Sweet Daughter a chocolate chip cookie cake to celebrate, but had no idea where to start. I found this recipe on Southern Plates website. (I recently discovered this website; it is fantastic! Stop in and visit. It has tons of good looking recipes.) This recipe was easy and so much fun to do. Everything was pre-made, the mix and the frosting. Can you spell abreeze?

Here's all you do:
Bring home Pillsbury Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix Dough rolls from the grocery store. I used three (3) 16.5 oz. rolls for a regular 11x17 baking pan.
And get some canned white and chocolate frosting while you're there.
I got the chocolate frosting Christy suggests in the recipe, Duncan Hines Classic Chocolate. For the white, I bought a can of Betty Crocker white with the decorating tips attached.

Now, for putting this together.
Unwrap the cookie mix rolls and put in the mixer bowl. For each one you use, add 1/4 cup lite corn syrup.
Mix with mixer until smooth.

Spread it out onto the greased pan.
Wet your hands and even out the batter.

Bake in a pre-heated 325 oven for 35-40 minutes or so.

Now, mine was a mess. Can you spell iwasacussing or goodthingnobodyelsewashometohearme? The batter  over-flowed the pan and spilled all over the bottom of the oven. I had to stop mid-way, turn off the oven, and clean out the bottom before the smoke alarm went off. Then, start up again.

(But it was worth it. Next time, I'd just take out about 1/4 cup of the mix and do something else with it. Like eat it raw...I know, I know...living dangerously. Or I could bake it separately and give it to the cook. For all her hard work. Or, of course, a 11x17 pan with taller sides would also work. I think I'm leaning towards the give it to the cook plan.)

You should have seen Sweet Daughter's face when she saw her cookie cake. Mouth dropped. Eyes opened wide. Can you spell surprise?
She couldn't believe I made it. I had to assure her that I did. "All by yourself?!?" She exclaimed.
Yeppers, I opened up those rolls of dough and added that corn syrup and spread it in a pan. All by myself. Can you spell happymama?

Oh, about the sloppy writing on the cookie. I was doing okay. And then, you see, I received a suggestion from someone who wishes to remain nameless (can you spell MyMan?). The suggestion was to mispell something on the cake. So I mispelled "Queen" on the cake. I put only one E. But the more I thought about it, the more I didn't like that idea. So I tried to squeeze in the other E.

I told everyone who asked that I had just run out of room. Can you spell that's notthetruththewholetruthandnothingbutthetruthsohelpmeGod?
Never mind. Just try the recipe the next time you need a chocolate chip big cookie cake. We were all spelling yum. You will be too.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sundays As A Kid

When I was a kid Sunday meant three things:

*CHURCH
*REST
*And MORE CHURCH

Man, was I bored.

I wish I had the sense to savor it then.
Nope.
I was just bored.

Time has taught me so much.
The snow taught me some things too.
Like.
Upside down deer hoof prints look like hearts.



Maybe we will all find time today to be bored for a little while.
Anybody remember what being bored felt like???

Saturday, January 22, 2011

To the Moon and Back

Some lines in children's books just stick with you forever.
Like Bible verses you learned in Sunday School.

"I love you to the moon and back."
When I finally had a child and read the book Guess How Much I Love You--
tears.
Not that I wasn't doing a lot of bawling in those days anyway, but still.
What a tender book.
There are several children's books that get me going.
Crying.

Another children's book I've discovered as a mom
and that
we love is
 Goodnight Moon.

My favorite line is
"Goodnight nobody."
 My daughter's is
"Goodnight kittens."

The moon.
Luna.
"Is it really made of swiss cheese?"
"Is there really a man in the moon?"
"Can a cow jump over it?"

I now pay attention to the moon.
Ever since I found my inner farmgirl,
I've been a faithful sky gazer.
I even dug out my old Astronomy book from freshman year of college.
A lot of what we know has changed since then.
It was 1981.

When we go up to our Mountain Farm,
we are AWED with the sky.
No light pollution.
Which means that we can see much more in the night sky there.
We can even see the Milky Way.

Someone once went with us to our farm
whose eye-sight is failing.
She looked up and was able to see stars.
She hadn't seen the stars in years.
Because of the city lights.

Clouds.
Blue hues.
Planets.
Constellations.
And Luna.

Luna has been unbelievable lately.
Hanging low in the sky.
Almost attainable.

She has become one of favorite subjects to photograph.
My daughter.
My dogs.
My food.
My woods.
My garden.
And My moon.

(If you wonder where My Man is on the list, well, he's not so hip to getting photographed.)



Who is that?
Holding up the moon?
Be careful.
Don't drop it.



Black cowboy boots.
Not real ones.
Mall ones.

White snow.
Not white.
Blue snow.

Like the little old lady's hair
Who sat beside us at the
knee-slapping music show
we had just gotten back from.
When I took that picture.
Blue Snow.
Cheese Moon.

"To the moon, Alice, to the moon...."

Friday, January 21, 2011

Berry Good Baked Oatmeal


Baked oatmeal. Who ever heard of such a thing?
Not me.
Now don't get me wrong. I am a fan of oatmeal. A big fan.
I grew up eating regular (boiled) oatmeal for breakfast on some cold winter school days when I was a kiddo.
Butter, milk, sugar. So good.
And I certainly enjoy those packets of flavored oatmeal you pop in the microwave.

I eat oatmeal for two reasons.
1. It is so very filling.
2. It is so very good for me.

But baked?
Never heard of such a thing.
Unless you're talking about baked oatmeal, ahem---cookies.
Now I happen to know a lot about that kind of baked oatmeal.

I am an oatmeal cookie fan.
No doubt about it.
Actually, I am a cookie fan.
Never met one I didn't like.
My weakness for sure.
Anyway.

I tried a recipe for Baked Oatmeal.
And yumm-ooooooo.
Excellent.
Here's where I got the basic recipe.

Then I deviated a bit.
First, I halved it.
I doubled the sugar.
I didn't add the salt or the baking powder.
But I had heavy cream on hand from making the frosting for the chocolate cupcakes I've mentioned now about a million times because they are that mentionable. So I used that.

And I'm here to tell you.
Baked Oatmeal is Berry, Berry Good.
Berry.
Especially with berries.
Whipped Cream on top really set it off.

The next day, I heated a slice in the microwave. I topped it with sliced bananas and blueberries, with a bit of vanilla yogurt. Totally yum.
I still had some leftovers, so the next day, I heated a slice in the microwave, topped with skim milk and bananas.
If I had even more leftovers, I would have tried it with maple syrup. Next time!

This is definitely Berry Good  Baked Oatmeal.
Great way to start the day....
Excellent.
I really like the texture of it.
It's not soft and soupy like most oatmeal.
Baking it gives it character.

So here's my adaptation of the recipe.

Berry Good Baked Oatmeal
1/8 cup olive oil
1 egg, beaten
4 Tbsp. brown sugar (use less if you don't like your oatmeal sweet)
3/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cup old fashioned oatmeal

Mix everything together. Spread in a greased loaf pan. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
The next morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Then bake 30 minutes. Serve warm.

Gonna make some more.....

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Choices

Will you forgive me?
My choice right now is whether to post a blog post or go dig out my running garb.
I'm thinking I need to go dig out my running garb and head outside.

Now that the snow is no more. :(
Now that the Christmas cookies are no more. :(
And Sandra Lynn, the bear's, yummy chocolate birthday cupcakes are a thing of the past. :(

I reckon I should run.
Oh, but am I ever tempted to just sit here----it's so nice here.
And warm.
And cozy.
And easy.

No, no, no, I should get ready to run......
It's a very nice morning.
Cold, but clear. Brisk and invigorating.
29 degrees.

Okay.
I'm leaving now.
Really.
I am going to head upstairs and dig through my laundry baskets.
Somewhere there's a pair of warm running pants in there.
Oh, and my "orthopedic" running shoes.
Where are they these days?

Yes, for real.
I think you've motivated me.
So let me go and see if I can make progress towards getting out the door----
Y'all have a great day!!!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

So This Is Mud Season

I always wondered about that term, "mud season."
I've never really known what it is.

Now I know.
On a small scale, of course.
But I do get it.
So this is mud season.

It is

when the snow melts and the ground is saturated and soggy and the dogs' paws are covered in mud and they run in the house and they jump on you who by the way was wearing your new winter white sweater that now has muddy paw prints and you yell and you grab the kitchen towel by the sink of all things to grab and notice it has a smiling snowman on it as you chase them so you can wipe their 12 paws before they jump on the sofa but they think you are playing a new kind of game so they run faster and then they all one by one jump up on the couch.


And also. Well, your special snowman Charlie is almost not.


(Do you folks in the north feel this way when your snowmen melt? Sad?)

Well, now I get this mud season thing.

I liked the snow better.
WAY.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Old Pals

I put up a new post on The City Farmgirl Blog at my home at http://www.maryjanesfarm.com/.

In it, I'm talking about Special Old Pals.
Oh! And can I tell you that I made some seriously amazing cupcakes too!
These have got to be the best chocolate cupcakes that have ever passed my lips.



Evah.
In my whole, entire life.
Ina Garten's recipe here.

Come over and join me! We'd love to hear about your special old friends!

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Song for Today



James Taylor wrote and sings
Let us turn our thoughts today
to Martin Luther King...
Let us.





Sunday, January 16, 2011

Beauty In Everything

Took my camera to our snowy woods yesterday morning.
This is one of my favorite pictures.



Self portrait.




Morning Sun Quiet.
Taking a moment to gaze and hug her bear.
(Who, btw, went with us to the snowy woods, because it was her birthday.
Yes, the bear's. Birthday.)


Y'all enjoy your day!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Snowy Visitors

We still have snow.
Absolutely unbelievable.
Had a lot of melting yesterday, but I think we'll be able to sled through the woods one more time this morning when the sun comes up.
Then I'm headed to the store.
First thing I'm buying is a big tub of fresh, organic, vanilla yogurt (I never would have guessed that!)

I've become snow greedy.
I want more.....

What was all that dog barking about when I was trying to post the recipe for Snow Day Yum-Yums?
Finally got the pictures up:

Big boy, Little boy
Right behind our house.
The dogs were on this side of that fence.
Mere feet from those deer.
They've learned that they are safe.






Y'all have to remember, I'm not in the country. (Yet!) These deer are living slap-dab in the middle of development. We're extremely lucky to live on a street with large lots. We see lots of wildlife because this is the only place around for them to live. Every time I see the deer, I send them a mental message of safety: watch out for cars and don't trust people too much....

And now a snow poem for "My Man":

I now know
I need the snow
So can we go
And live in Stowe?


We’ll buy an old farmhouse
In a hidden lush cove
It'll have a big clawfoot tub
And a red AGA stove.


A Christmas Tree Farm?
That sounds good to me.
And an autumn punkin patch.
And a swing on the branch of a big oak tree.


Don’t forget the mountain view.
And lots of maple trees.
In early spring we’ll make maple syrup
And in autumn we’ll rake colorful leaves.


You get that horse
And a big cowboy hat.
I’ll get some chickens
And an orange striped barn cat.


We’ll homeschool or no-school
or whatever school.
We’ll bake bread, not make it.
Now doesn’t that sound cool?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Snow Day Yum-Yums

Snow Dance

Dance for snow,
Dance in snow,

Dance with snow.



yesterday afternoon out in the snow...
no cartwheels, just dancing and playing.

When the dancing and playing is done, make Snow Day Yum-Yums

f/k/a (formerly known as)
No Bake Cookies"

I made these yesterday.
With Daughter. Who, by the way, has not yet requested a blog name change. So no f/k/a for her YET.

You know these cookies. They are those little chocately things that are at every single bake sale in the history of bake sales. And that's where you'll find me at a bake sale. At the table that is selling these things.

I learned to make them in 7th grade. The recipe was in some kind of school publication they passed out, like a scholastic magazine. My friend and I went home and made them that day in her mom's kitchen. I've been making them every since. (Wonder if she has.)

The picture is of my recipe book I started when I was 17 or 18. Notice a couple of things. First, it says that the yield is "around one million cookies." That is actually not the case. I was young and full of hope.

At some point I counted them before I started eating them and came up with 46, which I wrote in the margin.

You should also know that the "Beth" mentioned in the recipe is my older sister. She did not call them "No Bake" Cookies or "Yum-Yums." You'll see from the picture here, that an older sister might come up with a more graphic name, something more descriptive of the way they look. She did.


These are so easy. Perfect for a mother/daughter/son or just daughter or just son time in the kitchen. Or grandma's kitchen too.

First, gather the ingredients you'll need.

Common stuff. Stuff you already  have in the pantry or regrigerator.

Get your pan and put one stick of butter in, 2 cups of sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa and 1/2 cup milk.



Heat over medium heat, stirring until it boils. Then, remove from heat.
 


Add 1/2 cup peanut butter (crunchy or smooth) and 1 tsp. vanilla. And a tiny pinch of salt. Stir.

Add in 3 cups oatmeal.



Drop by teaspoon or tablespoons onto wax paper.
And begin....

They are yummy when they are warm.
They are yummy after they have cooled.

Now, while I was typing this post in, my dogs started barking like crazy. I finally looked out the back window and what did I see?
I'll post a picture in a little while after I download it!
Another day of no school. Can you believe that? A whole week. Never, ever, ever have we missed that much school in Georgia for SNOW!!

STILL LOVING IT!! I DEFINITELY HEART SNOW!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Make-Over

Charlie Before:






Charlie After:

What 'cha think?
Funny thing is that I've had that corncob pipe in a kitchen junk drawer for----oh, I'd say----15 years! I picked it up for JUST THIS OCCASION! A snowman.
I forgot about the pipe. Because I've waited so long (in joyful hope) for the day I could pop it in a snowman's mouth.
Yes, they still sell corncob pipes around here.
And not for snowmen.
For 'tabacky.
(And probably wacky 'tabacky too.)

Still snowed in!
Day Four!
No mail all week.
I sure am missing my maryjanesfarm magazine delivery. I'm pretty sure it will be there in my pile when the mailperson finally makes it down our lane.

But I'm still having a blast!
(Except for the dental hell I previously mentioned. Oh, and found a package of TP in the guest bathroom cabinet, so I'm good on that little issue....)

I wonder how many days I could be snowed in and still be exuberant about it.....

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Great Cartoon Expectations

I can't believe it. I learned from the cartoons that when you roll a snow ball down the hill, it gets bigger and bigger and bigger. Those were therefore my expectations when we built Frosty the snow man yesterday.

That is sooo not true. It totally doesn't happen. Those cartoons do not accurately depict the process. Can you believe that?

And you know what else? Frosty did not come to life. He did not say "Happy Birthday" and start to dance. Was that cartoon wrong as well?
And we didn't Fly Through The Air Last Night
(love that song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubeVUnGQOIk&playnext=1&list=PLFC9D5C9D921614A2&index=27)

Our Frosty was made with love, and he is in our (enchanted) woods, so maybe, just maybe.....

"My Man" (f/k/a--formerly/known/as--"Hubs" until he requested a name change) called Frosty the Snowman "PigMan." Daughter and I didn't appreciate that name and requested a name change to Charlie. So here is Charlie, f/k/a Frosty, f/k/a PigMan.


I like Charlie. He has a big smile.

Now something else we don't know here in the south as it relates to snow is this. Sure, we make a run for bread and milk at the grocery store. But what I'm getting dangerously low on is TOILET PAPER. That needs to be on the list for sure. Run out for bread, milk and TOILET PAPER!

Today is the day "My Man" and I are celebrating 20 years of wedded bliss. It's perfect for us snow-lovers that we are snowed in. Couldn't be a better way to celebrate for us. Our marriage has truly been a gift, just like this snow. I couldn't be happier. Thank goodness he said YES when I asked him to marry me!

In fact, we have, way-way-way back in the very back of the freezer, the small top layer of our wedding cake from this day in 1991. And yes, we are going to eat it today.  How does twenty year old frozen wedding cake taste? I'll let you know on that one. "My Man" actually wants to save half of it for our 50th.

Now, after he read yesterday's post late afternoon, he teased me, "I must have missed the cartwheels."
"Get the camera and come on," I said.
"You're barefooted. You can't get out in the snow," he said, "I was just teasing."
"Get the camera and come on," I said.
"At least put on a coat and some shoes," he laughed.
"Nope. Come on," I said.



And that's when I realized that I need to work on my cartwheels. In the snow and otherwise.

New Year's Resolution for 2011: learn to do a cartwheel again.
I'll keep you posted on my progress.


To "My Man"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGnNQM_9q-w&feature=related

....Love you forever and forever, love you with all my heart. Love you when we're together, love you when we're apart....And when at last I find you, your song will fill the air...I will....

Great Expectations indeed!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I Say Yes.



Yes. I say YES! to Snow World!
I thought so. I've always said that I want to live somewhere that it snows.
This is fantastic.
Snow World is exactly as incredible as I always dreamed it would be.
"My Man" (he's asked me to change his Blog Name from Hubs/Hubby to "My Man." So there ya go.) My Man and I have always DREAMED of living in Vermont (with a maple syrup farm and a sleigh with bells that jingle) or Colorado (with horses on a ranch singing John Denver songs)....

When I woke up this morning and peeked out the window, I was in awe again today. I love it here, in Snow World.
It struck me last night how BRIGHT Snow World is.
So light, even in darkness.
Cheery.
Phenomenal.

Took the dogs out before sun and drank in the beauty of  Snow World.
Crunch, crunch, crunch.
They had a difficult time walking on the snow this morning, there was an icy layer on top of all the white fluff.

Came here to the computer and began this post, hot coffee in my hand, warm dog on my feet.

Looked out my window.
Hello! The birds are up! Let me run out real quick to give them some seed. They can't find much food in Snow World. They, like us, are not used to functioning in this world.

Hmmm....








Note to self. Snow World requires shoes to be worn at all times. Slippers don't get the job done. Covered in snow--Now soaked.


That's one of my bird feeders, on the right there, wearing a Snow Hat.
I looking through the bushes at the feeder.
I was hoping to catch some birds in the picture.
But.
My feet were cold in those slippers at this point, so I took the pic and ran back inside.







Today I'm going to head to the woods behind our house to feed the deer. Glad I picked some of this up recently. They can have a "corn and pumpkin party" in Snow World.

And on my agenda in Snow World? These items are very different from my Regular World Agenda.

Do cartwheels in the snow.
Build a snowman.
Sled down the driveway.

These are shared agenda items, I do this often even when I'm not in Snow World.

Build a fire.
Make White Christmas Chili.
Walk through the woods.
Bake cookies.

Ah, I'm enjoying this snow while it lasts. I hope it doesn't melt today.
I'm not ready to leave Snow World yet!
Love it here.....

Monday, January 10, 2011

Oh the Weather

outside is NOT frightful

And the--

is so delightful.
and since there's no where to go
(except the dentist---my temporary crown fell out on Saturday and I'm in dental hell....)

But

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!!!

Everything is wearing a snow hat in my yard.
I knew nothing of snow hats.
I must say that I adore them.
I should like to wear one sometime.
(Bet my daughter could help me with that.)

My Umbrella Girl with a Snow Hat
(Taken before Sunrise this morning)
My Garden Globe with a Snow Hat
(also before the sun)

My Table with a Snow Hat
(Sun's up, but it's grey and cloudy)


My Garden Lady With a Snow Hat


My Picnic Table With A Snow Hat
And Mary With a Snow Hat
and
A Snow Scarf

 My Dog Blue Without a Snow Hat
Cute Thing Running Through the Snow
My Dog, Oreo, Without a Snow Hat
Looking Out the Window
Wishing

And if I ever wondered if feeding bluebirds mealworms was worth all the squeamish trouble.
I'd know now that it is.
I'd know it definitely is.
They spent the day with me.







I'm loving it! This is one of the best snows we've ever gotten. Awesome.
And guess what.
The post office doesn't deliver through sleet and snow here. No mail today. They are playing in the yard and sitting in front of the fire too. Suits me! Everyone should be able to CELEBRATE this WINTER WONDERLAND! It's magical....