Monday, December 21, 2009

Oh Holy Night!

We visited a live nativity in a neighboring town over the weekend. The display was set up by a group of people in front of their church. Many visitors stood around. Somebody read the Christmas story. And the snowflakes fell softly. It was a scene from a snow globe.
When we walked up to the stable, we passed the corral, built with logs and tied together with old rope. The smell of fresh straw was everywhere. And there were other smells.

A donkey stood with it's owner and figeted in the fresh snow. In the corral was a sheep with a thick and matted coat. Three precious little boys stood as proud as could be beside the lone sheep. They were dressed in plaid robes and were well padded ...almost fluffy. Their mittened hands held curved sticks. One of the little guys had very thick glasses on that kept slipping down his little nose. No doubt his hands were so cold and numb that he forgot that he was holding a stick because he moved to push up his glasses and struck himself in the face with his shepherd's staff. He looked like he wanted to cry...but he remembered that he had a job to do. He was to keep watch over his flock of a good shepherd would. So he stood tall and stared straight ahead, holding back the tears.

Seated on a straw bale on the other side of the stable were two little angels. They, too were well padded and fluffy. Their faces glowed with the cold of the evening and their little pink boots stuck straight out as they sat tall on that straw bale. When I moved closer to take their picture, they both smiled the most angelic smiles I had seen in a long while.

As a little choir of church people began to sing a carol, the donkey chimed in with his awkward off-key bray.

I felt calm and at peace. And I walked away feeling warm and happy....and ready!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mission Accomplished...I'm on a roll!

Remember the baby cardigan project? (Number 2 of 9 incomplete needlework projects) I'm happy to say, I finished it up just in time for grandbaby's first birthday....and it fit!

Poor little guy was feeling a bit under the weather and was running a temp when I grabbed him and started shoving his chubby little arms into the sleeves...I just wanted to see it on him once before he outgrew it. (Yeah, it won't be long.) He even sort of gave me a smile...we snapped a photo and then he wanted it off....right now!

If that's the first and last time he wears it, I'm okay with that.

Time to dig out the next incomplete project.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Yup, Winter's Here!

Without any warning and without my permission

Winter swept in, looking for submission.

I won’t surrender…I won’t be cold,

But I shiver so easily...I must be getting old!

I’ll not grab my sweater I’ll not wrap it tight

To swaddle just ain’t right.

I pledge to stand get up on my feet,

And march right over......and turn up the heat!

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Thankful Moment

Blogger Sarah suggested the whole idea of reclaiming Thanksgiving. It means focusing on things I'm thankful for and not taking anything for granted. I love that idea, don't you? Sarah suggests living with an attitude of gratitude...or 'Thanksliving.' I decided to train myself to notice things differently in these few weeks before Thanksgiving and make a point to be thankful for them. It's easy to just march through the day, doing the things I need to, the things I'm expected to and the things that bring me from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Today was different. I saw stars through the fog before daylight...and I was grateful. And I continued finding little things and focusing on thankful thoughts. But, on my way home, for some odd reason, I took a detour...a longer, slower route...even though I was running late, it was getting dark and I had no plan for supper.

As I drove near the lakeshore, I was given a very unexpected gift. . . .a gift that brought me into the very presence of nothing I've ever experienced!

I got out of my car, camera in pocket, and stood in amazement. The colors of the setting sun reflected on the calm water in such a way...that time stood still. I stayed there motionless to drink it in...I couldn't get enough...I didn't want it to end. It was overwhelming... powerful... peaceful. It was like a moment in heaven.

Thank you, God, for reaching down, pressing 'pause' and giving me yet another thankful moment.

"He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters." Psalm 18:16

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Little Plastic Car with the Paper Roof

I got my deer just a few days before the season officially opened this fall.

I didn’t really ‘get’ my deer…she got me! I was innocently heading home from a church meeting in my little plastic car with the paper roof. I reached in my pocket, pulled out my cell phone and called home to let Paul know I was on my way. It was almost 10 o’clock…and he was in bed. I started telling him that I had just left town... when out of nowhere came Bambi’s mom, halahootin’ across the road, followed by a herd of 5 or 6 more. Although I only hit one, it sounded much worse from the inside of my little plastic car with the paper roof.

The worst bloodcurdling scream came out of my mouth and shot into my cell phone, which exploded and flew from my hand, landing somewhere in the dark as I hit the brake. I pulled off the road and madly searched for my phone on the seat...on the floor...and even in my pocket.

I remember thinking that poor Paul must be scared to death after hearing that horrible scream and then total silence. But I couldn’t find my tell him that I was fine! I hate to admit it but panic set in quickly. Here I was on the side of the road, after dark, no other traffic, no phone, and a messed up car that might not be able to limp the 5 miles home. My mind started slapping together the worst case scenarios. (Why is it that human brains do that anyway?)

Then came the anger…Why in the world wasn’t Paul calling me? Did he go back to sleep? How could he have listened to that shriek of pure terror…and fallen back to sleep? How could he? Doesn’t he even care? If he’d only call me back, my phone would light up …and I could give him a piece of my mind…and then….everything...would be....okay.

And then the tears...

Long story short, I calmed down, found my phone, talked to Paul and made it home safely.

And the small two-stall garage has now become a nice hibernating place for the little plastic car with the paper roof.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Knit 2, Purl 2

" Finishing races is important, but racing is more important."

This past week I decided to sort through all my yarn and see if I could find something that would work to make a pair of mittens or a hat for the donation basket at church.

There seems to be a contest between the knitters and crocheters to see which group can make more items. I think perhaps whatever group had fallen behind would be the team I'd join.

And so it is, that even though I do more knitting than crocheting, I had a plan to crochet a quick scarf or something and do my part to help out the crocheting team...because they are behind!

I pulled bags, boxes and drawers of yarn out of hiding.

Gracious goodness! Where did it all come from? And the unfinished projects! I really didn't realize how many there were. Kind of embarrassing!

I decided to choose at least 3 of the unfinished projects and finish them. If that goes well, I'll choose another one or two and and work on them. Good plan. Time to choose.

Project #1
A colorful afghan. Wow, didn't get too far with that, did I? I think I quit because I didn't really like the colors once I got into it. I could rip this one up and try a new pattern.

Project #2.
Baby cardigan. Not bad! I could finish this for my grandbaby...might even fit him if I can get it done in the next month!

Project #3.
A dish cloth, I think. Hmmmm.

Project #4. Nice pink mittens. Nothing fancy.
Someone's cold hands might like to be cuddled by these.

Project #5.
Oh, yeah. I remember this. I used the wrong size needles and came up with King Kong's right hand mitten. Then I set it aside and made a pair using the proper needles and the same navy blue yarn. No more of this yarn left so this one goes to the Island of Misfit Mittens.

Project #6.
Hey, this one's almost done! But why would anyone make a baby sweater out of gray yarn? It's not even cute or anything!

Project #7.
At least this is the right colors for a little person. I bet my mom could help me sew this one up and make it presentable. It could go to the church basket. Darn, that would mean the knitter group would get another point...I better get my crochet hooks going!

Project #8.
What the heck is this?

Project #9.
A scarf? A test? Something for the cat to play with?

Okay, I've chosen my three projects. If this goes well.....I've got a winter full of sewing projects to tackle! Stay tuned!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Beware of the Bags!

I feel crabby today..I could blame the weather...the lack of sunshine or the cold...but I'm going to blame those darn bags! I think it's their fault.

They're beginning to pop up here and there...I know you've seen them. I'm talking about those orange Jack-o-lantern leaf bags. People start filling those things with leaves from their yards this time of year.

I think they may have been created by a dad who wanted more help from his kids and thought it would be a good way to involve them. (Hey, kids...if you're reading's just like bagging leaves into regular garbage bags...except these are orange. So don't fall for it!)

I've just never liked them...never bought them...never used them...and I wish they'd go away...completely! Whatever happened to raking leaves into huge piles and jumping in them or hiding in them? Or what about raking leaves together and setting them on fire. While they burn you can roast marshmallows. Mmmmmm....nothing better on a cool fall day than smoked marshmallows!

People normally line up these orange bags in a row by their houses and leave them there until spring! Sooner or later the color fades, the bags rip open and remnants of orange plastic start blowing around the neighborhood. "Hey, kids, let's go out and re-rake the deteriorating leaf fungus that is falling out of our faded, wind-shredded leaf bags. It'll be fun!"

With Halloween only a week away and the leaves too wet to rake, maybe there won't be as many of the baggies showing up. I can only hope!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Perfect Saturday Morning

It was an extra busy and stressful week at the office and I spent too much time staring at a computer screen. And, it snowed, it rained and was cold...all week.

On Friday, someone asked me if I had anything fun planned for the weekend. I had to stop and think, and then realized that we had no plans. Nothing! Nada!

We hadn’t really planned anything because we had expected to be busy harvesting soybeans, but that wasn't going to happen with all the rain and snow we’ve gotten lately.

Saturday morning, we got up early and had our usual coffee in the kitchen with WCCO radio -- the Good Neighbor to the Upper Midwest -- providing background noise. We chatted about this and that as we looked out the window at the heavy dense fog. We took turns saying it, “If only the sun would come out…”

As Paul went through the huge stacks of newspapers and mail that had accumulated during the week, I got out the Fron Church Cookbook and opened it right to the yeast breads section. There it was...the best recipe in the whole world... Ebba’s Buns. I made them a lot when the kids were little and I was a stay-at-home mom. I’m not sure what I liked best: eating those warm fresh-from-the-oven delights, watching the kids smear them with layers of peanut butter, or just enjoying the great aroma that floated throughout the house and lingered all day.

Before noon, I had made three dozen buns, put a ham in the oven and sliced and diced enough of our fresh garden potatoes to make a good-sized casserole of scalloped potatoes. I scrubbed the floor, cleaned the bathroom, washed a couple loads of clothes and helped Paul look for the owner’s manual for his combine.

It was a perfect morning......and at noon, the sun came out!

Ebba’s Buns
2 Cups boiling water
½ Cup sugar
2/3 Cup Crisco

Combine and cool to luke warm. Then combine 2 packages yeast and 1/3 cup warm water. Add that to the first mixture. Add 2 tsp salt and enough flour for a soft dough (about 7 cups). Knead well. (I use my big mixer with the dough hook and let it run slowly.) Let rise in a big bowl, covered with a dish towel in a nice warm spot. Shape into buns, cover and let them rise 2 more hours. Bake at 375 for 15 – 20 minutes until nicely browned. The softer the dough...the lighter the buns!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Sunday, October 4, 2009

I labored in the vineyard today…and what a blessing it was!

As we pulled up to the Black Oak Vineyard in Central Minnesota, we quickly realized that this wasn’t a tour day as we had thought…it was a work day. We weren’t dressed for the cool wet conditions but we walked into the vineyard anyway and met Terri, one of the owners. She carried her camera and a box of clippers. “We’ve come to help with the harvest,” I said. And after the ‘short course’ on harvesting grapes we joined the 30 others who were standing along the vines, snipping and clipping under the cloudy October skies.

I caught on fast and before I knew it, I had five gallons of the little beauties. They smelled so sweet and I wanted to taste just one...but wondered if it would be proper. Then I saw one of the other workers, perched on a yellow pail, popping one grape after another into his mouth…and I followed suit! Mmmmmm…so fresh…so sweet!

After several hours of clipping the beautiful blue bunches...and tasting a few more grapes, our little crew had harvested nearly 8,000 pounds of Frontenac Gris grapes…and the fruit of our labors filled a small semi truck!

We were invited to stay for lunch...and wine.

Here are some things I learned from my day in the vineyard:
Prior to grapes forming on the vine, there are no blossoms.

Had a frost come to the vineyard before the scheduled harvest, the grapes would be left on the vines and the harvest would be delayed until December when they’d be used for a special ‘ice wine,’ a much sweeter dessert wine.

Pests can be a problem: deer, birds, bugs and even mice!

Frontenac Gris wine presents aromas of peaches or apricots with hints of enticing citrus and tropical fruit.

I love the wine made with Frontenac Gris grapes!

Managing a vineyard is quite labor intensive and requires a significant commitment of time and money on the part of the grower.

The Bordeaux wine region in France is roughly at the same latitude as Minneapolis. So Minnesota is a perfect place to grow grapes.

A vineyard…what a wonderful retirement hobby for the two of us! Paul likes growing things and I like wine. Perfect match!

In that day, sing about the fruitful vineyard. Isaiah 27:2

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I know an old woman who has trouble with sleep
And when that happens, she doesn’t count sheep.
She rises from her cozy warm bed,
And shuffles her way to the window instead.

She stares out yonder at a sleeping land,
Of resting bird and quiet sand.
She wonders if sleep will come soon,
Then turns around and moons the moon!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fallen Leaf

I'm a Pioneer Woman!

I left a pile of clothes in the dryer too long yesterday and everything ended up horribly wrinkled, forcing me to face the reality of having to participate in that pioneer activity called "ironing!"

I was ticked off. What a waste of time! I'm too busy to iron. Aren't today's permanent press finishes supposed to guarantee an iron-free life?

I threw the two pair of slacks over my shoulder and stomped upstairs to the little room where Mr. Sunbeam lives. It had been a while since I'd been in there and the air was stale and stuffy so I opened the window and plugged in the cord.

As I waited for Mr. Sunbeam to heat up, I thought about how much time I'd be wasting...and it made me mad all over again. I began the pressing project and gave myself a good lecture. "Well, I hope you've learned your lesson..." and "Let's not let this happen again...okay?" and "It serves you right...this is your punishment."

But as I moved the iron across the first pant leg...something happened. A breeze from the window took the steam from the iron and wafted it up past my face. Mmmmm....the sweet, clean smell of freshly laundered clothes brought back childhood memories....and I saw myself...a little girl, perched on a stool, legs dangling, ironing pillowcases....and more pillowcases...and all the white dish towels I could find in the house!

I went from being lost in childhood coming up with solutions to things that had been stuck in the back of my mind all week.

And you know...I rather enjoyed the solitude of the moment...and I smoothed out a ton of wrinkles that had invaded my life...just like a pioneer woman!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

What's in a Name?

My parents named me 'Faith.'

When I was a child, I didn't like my name. I was shy and didn't like being in the spotlight and so I always dreaded the question, "What's your name, little girl?"

When I'd respond, there was always this pause...and then the line of questioning. "What did you say?" or " that what you said?" or "Could you say that again?"

It forced me to look them in the eye and say, "My name is Faithhhhhhhh... th" (emphasizing the 'th' and sticking out my tongue as I did so...which gave me a measure satisfaction!)

I dreamed about having a different, easy Jane or Laura. I was secretly jealous of my sister's name, 'Linda.' Nobody misunderstood her name! It was just...normal.

It wasn't until I was older that I finally asked my mom the 'Why-did-you-name-me-Faith' question. The answer changed everything.

Here's her explanation....

"When you were born, your dad was going to school. We had two other little ones and lived in a tiny apartment. We had nothing. All we really had was our faith!"

Her story made it all better.

I still get some of those blank looks when I introduce myself. But now, if I get the opportunity, I tell my story...about a young couple who thought they had nothing...but in reality...they had it all!

Keep the Faith!