Saturday, December 9, 2017

He Bakes to Cope

The weather has turned cold and wet. Adam is miserable. Nothing gets him down like bad weather. Soggy, bone-chilling weather drives him straight to the kitchen, and he starts to bake. He made lovely sweet-potato rolls.
Then he made a first, and a second, loaf of Challah bread.
He came in the bedroom this morning (where I sat huddled in my chair under many layers) and asked, "Do you want potato soup or French onion soup?" I said potato. I told him, "Now don't make any more bread." I know how he is. But it was too late; he already had a batch of focaccia in the oven.
Add to that the batch of oatmeal/cranberry cookies he baked yesterday --

-- and the tray of cracker cookies I made, and it's ludicrous that we still consider ourselves to be dieting. Those cracker cookies, BTW, did not turn out like the cute facebook video promised. The saltines turned soggy, the chocolate chips refused to smear, and Adam told me to throw them out, which I did not.
In spite of our dead heat pump and temps in the 30's, we are actually warm enough with three of these:
A small house is easier and cheaper to heat and cool, even if its roof somehow mysteriously still leaks :(

The Christmas season is upon us! Last night we went to Pamlico Chorale's Christmas concert at the Methodist church in Oriental. It was lovely! In spite of reduced number and limited male singers, I thought it was a fun, sweet, pretty concert. It's so important, no matter what group you're in (church, choir, family, neighborhood) to remain optimistic and happy when people leave. Be thankful for who's there.
I'm plotting my own Christmas music, setting two songs for autoharp. It's challenging and fun to find the chord structure and make it work on an instrument with only 15 chords.
"O Come, Little Children" is a solo for tomorrow (2nd Sunday in Advent). Rutter's "Nativity Carol" was more challenging. I couldn't find its chords anywhere online, except it was in the key of D major. If I'm brave maybe I'll record myself singing and playing for you. Hmm. I might need more rehearsal.
The house is decorated at last.
 



 


I intend to continue my Jesse Tree and lighted village even without children living at home. My mother-in-law said wisely this morning that as you age you enter into a second childhood of sorts, when you may do as you please as long as you don't go to town in your robe and slippers. Much of my Christmas stuff was for the kids when they were little, but I love it still.

And that made me think that after I finish this story about Punkin and her baby mouse, I should write  a little farm story about Christmas. I understand Beatrix Potter a little; watching the small animals on a farm gives you limitless material for stories. A little sparrow just lit on my window. The chickens are mincing their way through wet leaves. Sometimes I hear a little mouse crunching away on a poison trap in a closet. Ned is afraid of the rain. We saw a small squirrel leap from tree branch to tree branch -- almost -- attempting to escape the dogs and reach the orchard. It fell quite far through the air and landed in a small apple tree, unhurt.

My little oil heater is gurgling as I sit in my studio and watch the mud puddles and the birds, hunting breakfast. I skipped the farmers' market this morning. It's 37 degrees, Adam says. 
Stay warm, folks, wherever you are!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

It's SpringAutumnWinter ~

Around here, we get confused about the seasons. It was 70 degrees today. By this weekend, our lows will be freezing. Technically, it's autumn, but everybody else is having blizzards and ice. In this part of the South, December and April feel similar.

I'm drinking hot tea each day. I made a quick little cozy for my mini-teapot out of ultra-bulky yarn.
My daughter-in-law Shani works for the amazing greeting card company, Love Pops. They make cards so gorgeous that they are gifts in themselves. Peter sent me a dragonfly!
See how he perches on the lily pad? Look at his lacy wings!
Adam baked some apple turnovers on a chilly day. When weather turns cold and damp -- especially if it's rainy -- Adam bakes.
The apples and sultanas had been soaking in vodka for three months. The alcohol, of course, cooks out during the baking, but the fruit is left with a lovely, rich taste.
The first Sunday of Advent was also communion at our church.
The Bradford pear trees in front of the church are gorgeous right now, the perfect shade of autumn orange.
Trixie loves to play in her daddy's straw piles. She's becoming long-legged.
While snipping willow wands, I discovered an oak tree, cut off and scrubby like a bush, but it has the most wonderful color in its leaves! Here are a few:




Next to it, a crab apple is in its yearly state of confusion about whether to bloom or not.
A couple of our fig trees are similarly baffled about what season it is ... springautumnwinter?


I'm slowly making progress in my spinning. I'm more nervous about launching into this craft with reckless abandon than I usually am. Initially, I had raw alpaca fleece but none of the tools needed to process it. Adam made me a second hackle with the tines set closer together.
He also made me a new diz from a cut piece of PVC pipe, with multiple holes of different sizes for pulling the fiber through. I've made three nice coils of roving now, more consistent and better quality than the first I did. I'm hopeful. 
I don't know that I'll be able to really process yarn well until I somehow acquire a spinning wheel, but I'm having fun nonetheless. I'll probably end up with bags of roving, in anticipation of getting a wheel at some point. I bought a dog grooming comb with tines perfectly spaced for alpaca, although the tines are rather short. Adam plans to make me combs too, with longer tines.

Here's a video I've been enjoying of a lady in Virginia who clearly adores having fleece and fiber in her hands. I listen to her as background because I enjoy her voice and her devotion to the craft. This is what I aspire to be!

Monday, December 4, 2017

The Latest Punkin Illustrations/Story

My mother is enjoying my chicken story a lot and says she wants her own copy of it, when it's finished. I may take its pages to Staples and have a few colored copies made. (I only have a black-and-white printer at home.) Anyway, without further ado, here are the latest pages with illustrations:
[All the text, story, and illustrations are copyrighted by M.K. Christiansen.]







Here are a few close-ups of some illustrations. I'm enjoying the painting SO MUCH. It's relaxing and fun, especially as long as I don't mind whether it's perfect. 


 A drop of black ink fell on the page above. I'm still trying to figure out how to integrate that into the picture ....

I'm quickly getting to the exciting ending of the story. It will involve a battle in the hen house! If anybody else out there is interested in buying a copy of the book, let me know. I don't think it will cost much for the copying and the mailing. I'll let you know.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Grandpuppy Came to Visit

This lovely spot is a horse farm in the county. The Bradford pears are stunning in fall and spring.
Look who came to visit grandmummy and grandpappy for Thanksgiving!!
He brought his parents too.
Philip and Kara swung by Julia's college and picked her up, so we had those three for Thanksgiving. We had the big dinner at church with a table full of friends. It was a very jovial, delicious afternoon!
Beyond dinner with all the trimmings ... this was all the trimmings and then tons of extras!
Julia got to see old friends ~
And Philip deep-friend the turkey!!
The moistest turkey I've ever tasted -- there were no leftovers.
Don't believe the deceptive calm of this photo; Charlie and Trixie wrestled and played and wore each other out straight for four days.
Yes, he is just as adorable and downright beautiful as he seems.
I pestered everybody until at last we drove down for Philip and Kara to see the Vandemere Waterfront Park. Charlie chased his frisbee.



This park is quiet, hardly used, and immaculately designed. It's Pamlico County's best kept secret.
I'd better add a photo of Trixie for my mother, who wants to see more of the newest pup. Mother, she has "Cleopatra eyes" like Katie the Dog used to have. She's getting taller.
At Philip's suggestion, Adam bought Trixie a set of bells. Charlie learned quickly to ring them when he needs to go outside. 
Will Trixie learn that fast?

I've slowly kept illustrating my story about Punkin and the baby mouse. Here are a few more pages.


That's the end of the first half of the story. Wait till you see what happens next!