Friday, November 30, 2007

Tiny Details and Lessons

This little quilt block was made by my mother and is one of twelve in a 'months of the year' quilt she made several years ago. I love this one because of all the details --- the tiny patchwork quilt, the apron ties, and the buttons on the blouse. This quilt is one of my favorites of all she made. Mom was gifted in hand-sewing and always had a project waiting by her chair. She taught kindergarten and after school would come home to work in her garden for an hour or two each day, a form of relaxation after a busy day with five-year-olds. In the evenings mom would usually have a stitching project that fulfilled her need to create. Her house was always filled with visual treats for the eye --- things she had crafted and made. Her sewing skills were learned in her early teens from her high school Home Ec teacher at Chilliwack Secondary School. From those days on, mom sewed dresses, dusters, shirts, pants, blouses, and a myriad of household products. I remember dozens of aprons she made for so that each of her kindergarten students would have one to wear while painting or cooking in her classroom kitchen. Her sewing skills were ones she taught to her daughters --- although neither sis nor I are as swift and sure as she was with a needle and thread for handwork. Tidbits, memories, lessons from the past --- all become woven together to create the persons we are today.

On the subject of aprons and sewing, here's a link you might enjoy. It shares
56 Free Apron Patterns from places all over the Internet. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Tea Parties

Tea parties are such a lovely way to celebrate a day. . .or to simply relax in the midst of a busy schedule. A daily cuppa tea or tisane is a part of my daily routine; actually I partake several times a day. My tea of choice changes changes with seasons and moods. Right now I'm enjoying an herbal tea called "Calli", a delightful tea made by Sunrider Herbs International. Sweetened with stevia, it is simply the best! In addition to the tea beverage, the ceremony of tea requires equal attention if you want to enjoy the tea experience to the fullest. Whether it's a simple cup of tea served in a porcelain cup that you sip alone in a quiet room. . .or tea cups shared with friends in a tea room with linens, lace, scones, and sweets. . .the process of taking tea is something that can brighten even the darkest day. My first tea experiences occurred as a child when I poured 'water-tea' from a child's tea set with my dollies. Later, when herbal teas became the fad, our family would gather for tea from china mugs each Friday evening after the end of a busy week. Mom, sis, and I would usually wear our long granny dresses, as were the fashion of the day. We'd sit in front of the fireplace, soaking up the heat and chatting with one another and with Dad, sipping on our delicious tisanes. I will admit that Dad never really enjoyed the actual beverage as much as the rest of us, but he was a good sport. All these memories, triggered because of a simple post by Elizabeth Joy on her blog, Mama's Song. Her daughter, Emily Rose, had a birthday tea party this week and what fun! Please drop by to wish Emily Rose a happy birthday. And take a look at all the great ideas her Mama came up with to celebrate this eventful day: games, foods, favors, and even handmade aprons for each guest. Please, drop by for an inspiring post.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Leave a Trail

Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thanksgiving. . . Again

Dad and Alma were here this week-end for our second Thanksgiving dinner. Our menu was altered somewhat from the original to:

Oven Roasted Vegetables
Herb and Seed Rice Pilaf
Sweet Corn
Jelled Cranberry Molded Salad
Creamy Cranberry Salad
Sparkling Cider
Thumb-print Almond Date Cookies
Crown Gems
Grandma's Pumpkin Pudding

Recipes follow below --- enjoy!

Creamy Cranberry Salad

Two presentations of the cranberry salad I made for both of our Thanksgiving dinners.

Creamy Cranberry Salad

2 cups Tofutti cream cheese, whipped
2 - 4 tablespoons Veganaise
1/2 c. finely chopped pecans
2 cans jellied cranberry sauce (chilled)*

Mix together Tofutti cream cheese and Veganaise together until creamy. Add chopped pecans and stir until blended. Chill until ready to serve. Then, slice cranberry slices and top with cream cheese mixture. Garnish as desired.

*This is delicious with Cran-Raspberry sauce as well.

Oven Roasted Vegetables

This is a wonderful autumn and winter dish and so very tasty! I vary it each time I make it, using vegetables in season. Sometimes I add tempeh or firm tofu as well. These roasted vegetables are great with rice or pasta.

Oven Roasted Vegetables

1/2 head cauliflower, pieces
1 head of broccoli, pieces
1/2 butternut squash, peeled and cut into pieces
1 sweet onion, cut into slices
6 - 8 cloves garlic
4 - 5 stalks celery, cut into pieces
4 - 5 carrots, cut into pieces
1 large red pepper, cut into slices
3 - 4 potatoes, peeled and cut into pieces
mineral salt to taste
dash of Bragg's Liquid Aminos
liberal amount herbs of choice: Italian seasoning, oregano, sweet basil

Place all ingredients in large casserole dish. Add olive oil to mixture, stirring to coat. Place in a 400 degree F oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from heat to stir and then bake for 30 more minutes. Vegetables should be fork tender and roasted to perfection.

*Balsamic vinegar may be added for additional flavor.

Jelled Cranberry Molded Salad

My father-by-marriage contributed this dish to our Thanksgiving dinner. It's something he makes frequently and takes with him as a contribution when he's invited out for dinner. It always surprises people that an 81 year old man can be such a good cook. . .and that fact always surprises him! Of course he can cook! This recipe is superb! What difference should age make? Here's his recipe:

Jelled Cranberry Molded Salad

2 cans whole cranberry sauce
2 cans crushed pineapple
2 cups non-dairy topping, whipped
1 - 2 cups pecans

Mix all ingredients together, folding in whipped cream gently. Place in a mold and freeze until solid. When ready to serve, remove from mold onto a plate. "Frost" with more whipped topping. Decorate with pecan halves and serve.

*Dad uses Rich's Dairy-Free Whipped Topping

Crown Gems

Crown Gems

1/2 cup Mystic Lake Sweetener*
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup dates, chopped
1 cup nuts
1 cup coconut
1/2 cup brown rice bran
1/2 cup flax seed
1 1/2 cups oat flour, blended
1/4 cup coconut flour**
1/4 cup white rice flour
1/2 tsp salt
dairy-free mini chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients together. The dough will be stiff,
so you may have to use your hands.
Form dough into logs and then pinch off a small ball
of dough. Roll in chopped nuts and mini chocolate chips.
Place in mini muffin tins with paper liners.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes.
Do not over bake!

These are delicious!
I add a dab of stevia for additional sweetness.

*Mystic Lake Sweetener is a concentrated fruit sweetener
similar to Fruit Source. If you can't find it or want a
substitute, use agave syrup or maple syrup.

**To make oat flour simply place some certified gluten
free rolled oats into a blender and whiz briefly.

Grandma's Pumpkin Pudding

Two presentations of my Grandma's Pumpkin Pudding. It's an all-time family favorite. Yummy!

Grandma's Pumpkin Pudding

3/4 cup granulated sugar (Florida Crystals)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 - 15 oz. can pumpkin
12 oz. soy milk
2 - 3 Tbsp. cornstarch thinned with water

Mix all ingredients together in kettle and bring to a simmer. Add cornstarch, stirring constantly until well blended. Cook three minutes and remove from heat. Chill completely.

To serve, mix the pumpkin filling with equal amounts of non-dairy whipped topping. Spoon into parfait glasses and garnish as desired.

*This makes excellent pie filling as well.

Thumb-print Almond Date Cookies

Thumb-print Almond and Date Cookies

1/2 cup almond butter
2 cups almond meal
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp pure maple sugar granules (powder)*
1/2 tsp pure vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
Place almond butter in mixing bowl and stir until smooth and creamy. Add almond meal, maple sugar granules, maple syrup, vanilla, and almond extract. Mix completely. Form dough into small rolls and then pinch off enough for a small cookie. Roll into a ball and then place on baking sheet and press thumb into center to make an indentation. Then prepare date filling using recipe below:

1 cup dates, pitted
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup finely ground almonds

For the filling, mix the water, cornstarch and sugar together. Add dates and
bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook until thick and dates are smooth.
Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Fill each indentation in cookie dough with a small amount of the date filling.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes. Do not over bake. Cool and

*May omit if you cannot find.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing you God's blessings this holiday season and for the year to come. We have so much to be grateful for and this is the perfect time of year to share that abundance with others. Seek those in need and receive the joy of sharing!

Each Thanksgiving since the boys were young I've taken a 'group picture' of them with their cousins. This year all six of them were able to arrive home from the colleges and universities they are attending. It's been a few years since all six of them were able to be at our Thanksgiving celebration at the same time. Perspectives on politics, cars, friends, studies, and memories of happy Thanksgiving's before made up enjoyable table talk. It makes me wish to be able to go back in time to my youth --- and at the same time I'm grateful for the stage in life I'm in and wouldn't change it for a thing! There's something about the vibrancy, enthusiasm, and perspective of young adults that makes life so interesting and appealing. . .and yet there's something so seasoned and confident of middle age. Fortunately it is not our choice, but one that's been designed from above.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Congratulations Sandy!

We have a winner! Congratulations to Sandy of The Reluctant Entertainer for being selected in the Gracious Hospitality drawing for the holiday cross-stitch. Thank you to everyone for your comments during the past few weeks. I enjoyed them all and tried to answer as many as I could. If you didn't receive a personal email from me, it was probably because of a blogger setting that didn't allow replies (or it might be that I'm still trying to catch up). There were more than 350 comments, therefore that many names included in the drawing this time. Thank you so much for your feedback. I really enjoy knowing who is at the 'other end' of the computer screen and your thoughtful chatter made me feel more connected to those who read my blog.

Have a blessed and grateful day!
Wishing you God's blessings this holiday season!


Thanksgiving Menu

Thanksgiving Dinner Menu

This year we are doubly blessed! Two Thanksgiving dinners --- one with each side of our family tree. Here's our vegetarian and gluten free menu for each.


Vegetarian "Turkey" or "Tofu" Roll-Ups
Bread Stuffing
Mashed Potatoes and Cashew Gravy
Creamed Butternut Squash
Corn and Lima Bean Succotash
Raw Vegetable Platter with Dip
Tossed Green Salad and Emerald Dressing
Wild Rice Pilaf
Fresh Cranberry and Orange Relish

* * *
Dinner Rolls and Jams
Grape Juice

* * *
Pumpkin Pie and Apple Crisp

* * *


Butternut and Carrot Soup
Balsamic Roasted Vegetables
Wild Rice Pilaf with Seeds and Herbs
Jelled Cranberry with Creamy Pecan Filling
Raw Vegetable Platter with Dip

* * *
Sparkling Cider

* * *
Pumpkin Mousse
Autumn Leaf Cookies with Maple Frosting
Almond Cookies with Date Filling
Crown Gems

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Turkey Day

Sarah Josepha Buell Hale was widowed at age 34 and had the responsibility of rearing and supporting five children. She did this by pursuing her literary talents and became an author and editor. In the 1800's she became one of the most famous magazine editors of the time. For nearly fifty years she edited the
Ladies' Magazine of Boston and Godey's Lady's Book of Philadelphia. Using her writing as her platform she worked diligently promoting humanitarian causes, women's rights, and child welfare. She advocated higher education and used her voice to promote the establishment of colleges for women.

As a prolific writer, Ms. Hale is known for writing everything from children's poetry to novels on anti-slavery and other social issues. Her major surviving work is probably one that you are well acquainted with. It's the poem called "Mary Had a Little Lamb". It first appeared in the Juvenile Miscellany in September of 1830.

Her other lasting contribution to American culture was her establishment of a national Thanksgiving Day. She worked for thirty years to promote this idea, writing editorial pleas in her magazines and writing letters to the Presidents of the United States for thirty years. In 1863 she won the support of President Abraham Lincoln and he issued a national Thanksgiving proclamation, establishing the last Thursday in November each year as "a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father". For the next seventy-five years, each president proclaimed this day of Thanksgiving. Then in 1941 Congress, in a joint resolution, provided "That the fourth Thursday of November in each year after the year 1941 be known as Thanksgiving Day, and it is hereby made a legal public holiday to all intents and purposes".

As one who loves animals and promotes compassion for them, this post wouldn't be complete if I didn't mention that today the President of the United States carried out a presidential tradition that was established by other animal lovers. He officially pardoned a turkey, saving it from the axe of fate and a place at the Thanksgiving table to live out the rest of his life in a nearby zoo. This tradition was first observed by President Truman in 1947 and has been continued yearly ever since. In our household, all turkeys are pardoned! When the children were small we sometimes raised them from tiny poults. They were interesting pets who had the run of the yard (Brandon once had a run-in with an aggressive Tom Turkey who was tired of being used as a playmate). Our turkeys always had a pardon on Thanksgiving Day, as they benefited from living with our vegetarian family! Tomorrow, if I'm not too busy cooking, I'll post our family's traditional vegetarian menu.

Thanksgiving Memories

Thanksgiving week is upon us. It's busy flow can be observed in the reduction of blog posts on many blogs (including this one). Life is busy preparing for this wonderful American holiday. This is the holiday of FOOD! Everywhere one goes, someone is talking about what they'll be making for Thanksgiving dinner and asking what I'm making as well. Our family has traditionally always gone to my husband's parents for this holiday. They've always been generous with this event, inviting others who might be otherwise alone. My sister-by-marriage is Canadian, so there was not competition from her family for this holiday and my mother was always invited for dinner just like we were. Nine years ago my mother-by-marriage learned she had breast cancer. Three years later, on the day after Thanksgiving, she passed away. We were all with her at her home when she died. Her favorite holiday is one in which we remember her for her joy in it, and with sadness because it was during one such week-end that she left us. Thanksgiving was her favorite holiday of all. It was a family time and all the grandchildren loved going to Grandma's and Grandpa's for each Thanksgiving. Grandma would set a separate table for them, complete with lace tablecloth, centerpiece, candles, special napkins, and placecards ---- just like the adults had at their table. When they all grew up to late teens and early adults, they were a little unhappy that they were then incorporated into the adult table! I think they enjoyed their unique table and the special touches Grandma always added to it for them. Our menu has been the same for Thanksgiving dinner for the past twenty-nine years. Each of us always is assigned the same 'dishes' to prepare, and we arrive Thanksgiving morning loaded down with food for fellowship and sharing together. My mother always washed the dishes for the group by hand, even after her own cancer crippled her. The other ladies dried and a few times the men were enlisted to help with this merry chore. Both Grandma's are gone now, and they are so missed --- especially during this holiday of Thanksgiving. But we carry on, remembering them and being grateful for the many ways they benefitted us and enriched our lives in a million and one ways. And we will do the same this Thursday, remembering them as we share the blessings of fellowship on this upcoming Thanksgiving day.

Monday, November 19, 2007


My new little snowman bank is waving at you! He's one of my little perks to make my housework interesting. Do you have little tricks that the mundane more fun? Since the boys were small, I've kept a piggy bank in the utility room. It's been made known that any money that gets left in pockets and ends up in the washing machine belongs to me! Okay, so sometimes I share and use the contents for a family treat --- and sometimes it just becomes my 'reward' for being the laundress of the household. This season I've replaced the piggy bank with my new snowman bank. Laundry anyone? Just send those jeans over (as long as they have coins in them) and I'll wash them for you!

Arrives the Snow

Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Tree Huggers

I suppose you could call our family 'tree huggers'. Not in the traditional sense --- we haven't climbed a tree and lived in it for weeks to keep loggers from cutting it down. But we do love trees. Sometimes a tree grows old or gets broken in a storm. Much discussion ensues in our family as to whether it should be cut down or simply trimmed back with hopes that it will send forth new twigs that will grow to branches and revive the tree. During the boys early adolescence I remember many conversations and opinions from them about a tree that mom or dad deemed hopeless and they sought to save. This love for trees has extended to our mountain property as well. Trees on the mountain are frequently the victim of winter's storms. Each spring when roads are cleared of snowdrifts enough to traverse them once again, we find three or four of our tall trees that have fallen prey to the fate of nature. These trees become firewood and are not wasted, but we so miss their majestic beauty. This autumn Brent and I spent much time discussing our beautiful signature tree by the cabin. We're always aware of how a tall tree can fall during storm winds. This awareness is very keen during a nighttime storm when you are sleeping in the cabin loft with rooftop sloping near you. If a tree falls on the cabin it could cause much damage and danger. We have been babying this old giant along, hoping that it will stay strong and true. But a crack in at the base of the tree shows some damage and it's age --- so we are slowly agreeing that maybe it needs to be cut down. This decision was made late in the season and winter is upon us. So, for this winter we've come up with another solution that might save the tree from chainsaws sharpness for just a little bit longer.

Brent brought his extra long ladder to the cabin today. His goal: to get as high as possible and tie a strong cable around the tree, fastening it to another nearby.

A few branches had to be trimmed off to make room for the strong cable. Although Brent looks close, from where I was standing he looked pretty far up the tree! My telephoto lens is deceiving in this shot.

It was a difficult task to get the heavy cable strung around this large branch and fastened together. Once done we took a lunch break so Brent could catch his breath again. After some yummy split pea soup and crackers Brent was back at it again.

Ever frugal, Brent found this cable for sale in a metal yard. He had to hunt for it amongst scrap metal that was being recycled. Strong pieces were found, but they were under piles of steel and had to be pulled out, since the items on top could not be moved. Thus, he was only able to obtain three long pieces. Not bad for $6.00! Then, of course, he needed the hardware to piece the cables together into one long piece. Hmmm, that was $28.00. So much for frugality! Brent intends to fasten the giant old tree to the base of another strong tree nearby. It won't necessarily keep it from falling in a storm, but hopefully if it falls, it will fall in a direction that is not towards the cabin. Even after all his careful planning this week, Brent was short several fasteners needed to finish the job; an excuse to take another trip up the mountain and enjoy a brisk and snowy day again soon.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


And I will fasten her as a button in a sure place; and she shall be for a glorious throne to her father's house.

Isaiah 22:23

This is a LaTeaDah paraphrase. The original verse says "And I will fasten him [as] a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father's house."

Assuredly, God speaks to us from our place in life --- from where we are, and the button illustration seems so meaningful to me today.
Have a blessed week-end! If your week has been like mine, you are happy for a rest like I am!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Follow Your Bliss

"When you follow your bliss,
door's will open. . .
where there wouldn't be a door
for anyone else."

Joseph Campbell

Monday, November 12, 2007

Tissue of All Wings

"Keep thou thy dreams ---
the tissue of all wings
Is woven first of them;
from dreams are made
The precious and
imperishable things,
Whose liveliness lives on,
and does not fade."

Virna Sheard

What Kind of Holiday Food are You?

You Are a Gingerbread House

A little spicy and a little sweet, anyone would like to be lost in the woods with you.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Elements of Joy

"Into all our lives, in many simple, familiar, homely ways, God infuses this element of joy from the surprises of life, which unexpectedly brighten our days, and fill our eyes with light."


Aprons Crisp

Recently I received four aprons that I purchased off of eBay as an ever-growing part of my vintage apron collection. They were in excellent condition. For about $10.00 I received four pristine vintage aprons. It doesn't look like they have ever been worn. One even had the original price tag still on it. They are delicate in appearance, but the fabrics are crisp and stable. After washing and ironing they are as good as new! The fabrics are similar to dotted-swiss, but some are striped rather than dotted. I was happy to add them to my growing collection of vintage aprons and am now researching them so that I can date them and find their place in history.

The labels on all four aprons say The Halle Bros. Co. After doing some research on the Internet, I was able to determine that these aprons were marketed by a series of department stores with the same name that was located in Cleveland, Ohio from 1891 - 1982. An interesting tidbit of information is that it's flagship store building was used in the 1990's as the main location of the fictional Winfred-Louder store on ABC's "The Drew Carey Show". I suspect that Mr. Carey wouldn't have a clue, nor an interest in aprons such as these!

The trims and braids on these aprons are so nice. They are colorful and of exceptional quality. Can you see the little tufts in the white fabric? It's interesting to me that vintage fabrics are frequently plain with unusual or interesting things woven into the fabric, providing variety and interest.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Pear Clafoutis

Clarice at Storybook Woods posted a recipe in her October 21 post for Chocolate Cherry Clafoutis. Yum! I decided that I needed to learn more about this exotic sounding food and see if I could find a way to create one that was completely plant-based and gluten free. Clafouti is a custard-like French dessert that is baked and made by adding fresh fruit to a light batter. It is baked in a casserole or stoneware baking dish. Traditionally it is made with cherries, like Clarice made hers. But other versions of this dish are common as well with apricots, peaches, nectarines, pears, prunes, apples, cranberries, blueberries, or figs being used as the fruit ingredient. Most would call this dish made with fruits other than cherries clafloutis still, but technically I guess the name then would be flaugnarde, as purists insist that a clafloutis only contain cherries. Here is my version of this delightful dish --- made completely with plant-based foods and none containing gluten.

Pear Clafoutis

2/3 cup almonds, ground finely
2/3 cup brown sugar or Sucanat
2/3 cup rice flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
dash of salt
4 Tbsp. silken tofu, blended until smooth
1 cup soy milk
6 pears, peeled and sliced

Prepare a casserole or stoneware baking dish by coating with a layer of olive oil. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Combine the ground almonds, brown sugar, rice flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Mix together until well blended.

In a blender, whiz the silken tofu until it's a smooth puree. Add a small amount of water if needed to make it blend easier.*

Add the blended silken tofu to the dry ingredients and begin stirring. Slowly add soymilk and mix until batter is blended. Layer sliced pears in baking dish, arranging them evenly. Gently pour the batter over the top of the fruit, making sure it covers well.

Bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve warm or cold. Delicious with soy ice cream or silk creamer on top.

*For ease in preparing the silken tofu, blend the entire box of tofu and then measure out the volume needed for the recipe. Place the rest in a small container and refrigerate until needed for another recipe. The silken tofu acts as a replacement for eggs in this recipe.

Delicious served with some soy frozen-dairy dessert. Since this is my 'splurge of the week', I found the teddy bear bowl to eat from! Silly, but fun! And yes, the diet is going well -- even with occasional treats like this. Don't worry. The scale is going downwards faithfully each week, so don't fret about the dessert recipes I've been preparing recently. There is something about a weight loss journey that puts me in the mood to cook and bake. The rest of the family enjoys the foods and I find something ultimately satisfying and fulfilling about the process of working in the kitchen. As Paula would say "love and best dishes, from my house to yours".

Friday, November 09, 2007

Growing Happiness

is neither virtue nor
pleasure nor this thing nor
that but simply growth, we are
happy when we are growing.

William Butler Yeats

I met this little boy when I went to visit my father late last summer. This adorable child was as cute and expressive as he appears in this picture. When it was time to board the ferry for a trip to the mainland, he hefted on his backpack and was 75 feet ahead of his mom and brothers. He marched right on as he knew exactly what he was doing. . .and he did! Not bad for a three year old!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Sweetly Surprised by Love

"I believe that God is in our everyday no matter whether we see him, feel him or hear him. Many moments occur in our lives which reveal his face, his touch, his voice. Look for him today. He will be found. You will be sweetly surprised at the many ways he surrounds you with his love."

Kathy Troccoli

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Collecting Crumbs

"If you can't have your piece of the cake [cookie], collect all the crumbs you can find."

Hattie Rosenthal

Monday, November 05, 2007

A Raven of a Time

Last week-end our family enjoyed observing large flocks of ravens from the cabin point. They were flying far below us, soaring over tree-tops and ridges. Graceful swoops and strong wings kept us quite entertained as they called to one another and seemed to be having a very social time together. Did you know that ravens have the largest brain of any bird species? Their cognitive processes include an ability to problem-solve as well as imitate and have insight into situations. They have been known to get other creatures to do their work for them, calling to wolves and coyotes to tear apart carcases so that they don't have to do so much work to get their food. Usually ravens are seen in pairs, as they travel with their mate. The flocks that gather are usually young ravens that travel together and form a sort of social bond. They can be very quarrelsome birds, but exhibit strong devotion to their family unit. An interesting bird, much time can be spent observing and enjoying their interaction together.

Last week Rylan visited a local gallery as part of an assignment for his art class. He invited me to go along, and of course I was delighted at that. The gallery had a show featuring birds which included sculpture and paintings done with a variety of media. One artist in particular had a deep fondness for ravens and crows. Her work exhibited the many facets and expressions so frequently characterized by humans when they think of these birds.

The stately and serious raven.

This was Rylan's favorite artistic piece and the one he is choosing to write his paper about. He will admit, though, that he was also drawn to. . .

. . .the crazy foot ware that many of the raven sculptures wore! This one has pink bunny slippers. Another had cowboy boots, and yet another some rather quirky tennis shoes! Does it not strike you a bit funny that these refined and proper raven sculptures are wearing such whimsical shoes?

Let's Chat!

Shall we have another give-away? It never fails that comments always lead me to new blogs and help make new blogging friends. It's so much fun to interact with you through the comments section! Here are the rules for this give-away:

1. Any comment that has already been made since the end of the last give-away until today will be added to the 'hat' for drawing.

2. Any new comment between now and November 21 will be added to the 'hat' for drawing on November 22.

3. Please check your blogger settings. Some who comment have their settings so that I can reply to their comments by simply replying to their email. Others are set to 'no reply' and it makes it so difficult to respond to their posts. Since chatting is fun, I encourage you to make sure your settings are appropriate for response.

Thank you! This simple little cross-stitch will be making its way to a blogging friend by Thanksgiving.

Playing with China

My closest friends know that I have a true love for all things china! It was a passion that I shared with my mother, as we both loved beautiful dishes, teacups, teapots, and little bits of this and that made from porcelain and clay. My sister does not share this interest, so I have been the one blessed to be 'keeper' of all mother's china as well as my own. So, it was with great interest that I read this on Kari and Kijsa's blog:

Idea Number 1 (you didn't think we would give all the ideas away on the first day of November)! Handpainted plates are a great way to add a little of the FABULOUS factor to Thanksgiving Day....

We wanted to start with this one now, so you could all start thinking (monograms....a different quote at each person's place...the skies the limit) And for those of you who have never painted on a plate worries....we will post a tutorial on painting on ceramic or glass next week!

After reading this, I wrote to them and shared how interested I was in their tutorial, as I have a box of stemware in the storage room that I found at a yard sale and purchased with glass painting in mind. But, I have no clue how or where to start. Maybe they can teach me! In my email I mentioned that I have fun adding decals to store-bought china pieces that I have refired, creating a one-of-a-kind plate or creamer or pitcher. They make great gifts or special pieces for the tea table. They asked me if I'd share some pictures, so here they are.

The pitcher in the picture above was purchased at an outlet mall for an expensive price. It was plain white. I found a pretty ceramic decal I liked and cut it into bits and pieces. Then I placed them where I liked them (handle, back, pour spout, front, etc.). Once everything was securely in place I took it to a friend who has a ceramics shop. She added it to her next batch of ceramics that she fired in her kiln and when the pitcher was done the decals had 'melded' into the glaze and looked one and the same with the china.

This is an odds and ends Mikasa plate that I found on a sales shelf. The boarder was painted at the factory and it has a platinum edge. I cut out the decal and snipped here and there to make it fit like I wanted. It's fine to overlap parts of it or remove parts you don't like. Once it's all put together it looks like it was supposed to be they way you decide it should be. Have it kiln fired and you are set to go. I like to use this plate for desserts when serving tea with my blue teacups and saucers.

This is another Mikasa plate and it has a raised design around the edge. I think it shows off the vibrancy of the red roses quite nicely. I made two like this so that I have a pair.

Simple blue forget-me-knots grace this simple Mikasa plate. The scalloped edges add charm and I like the way they add radiance to the floral design.

If you decide to add decals to china, be sure to run a test batch first, especially if you are using your favorite china! Each type of china fires differently and there is a definite unpredictability factor involved with each type of glaze. Some can 'pit' or come out rough and it's hard to know which ones will do this until you try it. I haven't had any trouble using plates with a metallic border on them, but my ceramics friend says that it could also be a problem, so use caution. I prefer to use china that is inexpensive and not irreplaceable (no sentimental value) so that I'm not disappointed if something doesn't turn out. On the whole, this craft has been quite successful and with few duds.

Ceramics decals can be purchased at a ceramics shop. If they don't carry any you like, ask to see their decal books. They are filled with many traditional and modern designs that you can order. You are sure to find something that will please your eye.

Have fun! It's so easy you might feel like you are cheating a bit, but the end results are beautiful and so much fun to add to your home decor.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Pumpkin Pie

November is the month when we most frequently think of pumpkin pie. It seems like it's something the family never tires of. An excellent source of vitamin A and fiber, it's a good way to add nutrients to the diet and enjoy doing so at the same time!

Pumpkin Pie

1 package MoriNu tofu
1 cup soymilk
1 can pumpkin, small size
3/4 cup sugar (may use alternative natural sweeteners instead)*
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tp. ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cloves
1 unbaked pie shell, gluten free

Blend MoriNu Tofu and soymilk together. Mix tofu mixture and remaining ingredients well and pour into unbaked pie shell. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 C) for 1 - 1 1/2 hours, or until knife inserted in center and comes out clean.

Cool completely and serve with favorite whipped topping. Enjoy!

*Alternative sweeteners: stevia, date sugar, Sucanat, maple syrup, agave syrup, etc. If using a liquid sweetener, add a small amount of cornstarch to the filling to assist with thickening.

Firefly Farm Dish Clothes

This week I received a parcel in the mail with this beautifully wrapped package inside. It was soft and squishy. The new dish clothes I ordered had arrived! Thank you, Debra from Firefly Farm. I love the fibers, textures, designs, and colors. And I'm really happy to have cotton knitted dish clothes again, as they work so nicely for kitchen clean-up and dish washing.

Debbie ~ Firefly Farm