Monday, December 23, 2013

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Savor the Season

It's the week of Christmas! The tree is decorated, the groceries are bought, and the presents are wrapped. How are things at your house? Is the tea kettle on? Do you have a moment to sit and savor the season with a nice hot cup of Candy Cane Lane tea? 

I'm sitting down with a hot cup of tea to watch The Sound of Music movie on television. After all these years, it still takes first place as my favorite movie. Take a few moments to enjoy each element of the season!

Friday, December 20, 2013

There's More to Christmas

There’s More to Christmas…

There’s more, much more to Christmas
Than just candle-lights and cheer;

it’s the spirit of sweet friendship
that brightens all the years;

It is thoughtfulness and kindness,
It is hope that is reborn again,

For peace, for understanding
And for goodwill to humans.

Author unknown

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Opening Shut-up Hearts Freely

I have always thought of Christmas time as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely.

Charles Dickens

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Child Again at Christmas

Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time. 

~Laura Ingalls Wilder ~

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Mother's Steamed Christmas Pudding

During my teen years, mother decided that she wanted to start a Christmas tradition that was unique to her heritage. After much time spent going through food magazines and cookbooks, she used her skills in recipe adaptation to create a recipe for steamed Christmas pudding that the entire family could eat. Dairy-free, egg-free, and gluten-free; it met everyone's dietary needs. Not only that, but it was delicious! As grandchildren joined her family they enjoyed helping her make the pudding and prepare it on the stovetop, as it was steamed instead of baked. At serving time, sugar cubes were soaked in almond extract and brought to the dinner table in high flame. The children loved watching the flames slowly die as the extract was burned off. And how fun it was to eat something that had been presented with so much charm! Here is mother's recipe for you to enjoy as well.

Steamed Christmas Pudding

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup amaranth flour*
1/4 cup sweet rice flour*
1/4 cup garbanzo flour*
1/4 cup tapioca starch*
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 cup grated raw carrots
1 cup grated raw potatoes
1/4 cup raw grated apple
1 cup raisins
1 cup nuts, walnuts
1/2 tsp. fresh lemon zest
1/2 tsp. black walnut extract

Mix all ingredients together until moist. Place mixture in a prepared Pyrex bowl and cover with foil until secured. Put in a kettle of gently boiling water and cover with lid. Water should be 3/4 of the way up the side of the bowl. Steam for four hours, adding more water as necessary. Additional steaming is okay, but will result in an even darker pudding.

Serve with apple gravy (thickened apple juice concentrate with cinnamon added). To flame: soak sugar or sugar cubes in pure almond extract. Working quickly, place on top of pudding and light with a match. Take to table while flaming for a beautiful presentation.

*All-purpose flour may be substituted for the gluten-free flours given.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Gingerbread Cookies

Gingerbread boys and girls are a traditional Christmas 
cookie and bring much delight to those who eat them. 
Can you remember biting of a foot, arm, or the head 
first, and then laughing as you share in the experience 
with someone you love? What shall be the second bite? 
Today I'm sharing a gingerbread cookie recipe for those 
who are gluten-free. I don't want them to miss out on 
the experience! 

Gingerbread Cookies

2 cups brown rice flour
1 1/2 cups arrowroot, plus extra for rolling out cookies
1 1/2 cups amaranth flour
2 Tbsp (6 tsp) baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2 cups Sucanat
1/2 cup applesauce
1/3 cup safflower oil
1/3 cup molasses
2 Tbsp (6 tsp) vanilla
oil, for oiling cookie sheets


dried currants
dried cranberries
sunflower seeds
Decorator's Frosting

1. In a small bowl, stir together the brown rice flour, arrowroot, amaranth
flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt, nutmeg, and
cloves, and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, place the remaining ingredients, and stir to combine. Add
the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir well to combine. Cover
the bowl, place it in the refrigerator, and chill the dough for 1 hour or
more. Using a little safflower oil, lightly oil (or mist with oil) two
non-stick cookie sheets and set aside.

3. Sprinkle a little arrowroot over a work surface. Divide the chilled dough
into quarters, work with only one quarter of the dough at a time, and keep
the remaining dough covered and chilled until needed. Working in batches,
roll out the quarter of dough to 1/4" (6 mm) thickness, and cut into desired
shapes with cookie cutters.

4. Carefully transfer the cut cookies to the prepared cookie sheet. Bake them at
350 F (175 C) for 6 minutes (the cookies will feel slightly soft to the
touch). Allow them to cool on the cookie sheets for 3 minutes before
transferring them to a rack to cool completely. Repeat the rolling and
cutting-out procedure for the remaining cookie dough. Store the cookies in an
airtight container.

To make Gingerbread People:

1. Cut the dough using a person-shaped cookie cutter. Carefully transfer the cut
cookies to the prepared cookie sheets.

2. To decorate them: use two dried currants for eyes, pressing them slightly
into the dough; squeeze one dried cranberry with your fingers to form it into
a mouth, pressing it slightly into the dough; and then use 8 sunflower seeds
to make the outline of a vest, or 10 sunflower seeds to make the outline of a
dress, pressing them slightly into the dough.

3. Bake as directed above.

TIP: The dried currants, dried cranberries, and sunflower seeds can also be used
to decorate other cut shapes of cookies.

To make Glazed Gingerbread Cookies:

1. Cut cookies as desired and bake as directed above.

2. Prepare the Decorator's Frosting and use it to decorate the completely cooled
cookies, as desired.

3. Allow the frosting to set completely before transferring the cookies to an
airtight container.

Yield: 3 - 4 Dozen.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Christmas Tea Poem

Christmas Tea Poem 

On Christmas Day, at half past three, 
brew yourself a cup of tea. 
I'll think of you and you'll think of me,  
While sitting around your Christmas Tree. 

Friday, December 06, 2013

Snow on the Mountain


A time to wait
for spring
and all things new.

Pure and


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Autumn Mountain

Autumn. It speaks of color, light, and shadow. It is vibrant and crisp; and makes me think of cozy nesting and cups of hot tea. A walk down Cabin Woods Lane can be casual and slow. Footprints, feathers, and arrowheads can be found in the tire ruts. The tamarack trees are a special feast to the eye as they dot the forest with bold, yellow color! Seeds and burrs catch on socks and pant legs when on woodland walks. The dying, drying foliage opens up the meadow and forest carpet so that tiny details can be observed: mushrooms, pebbles, twigs, fallen berries, and prints in the dirt. Each season creates interesting things to observe. Whereas spring speaks of anticipation and hope, autumn is a time for closing down, saying good-bye, and enjoying each moment because you know that soon winter will arrive and the colors will be traded for brown and white. Seasons. Time. And beauty. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Smiling Punkins

This smiling pumpkin scarecrow greeted me recently in a coffee shop. Just look at that smile! I dare you to really take a good look at it and keep from smiling back! There's something so inviting and friendly about pumpkins. Maybe it's because they are such a cheerful color and they are such fun to carve smiles into! Pumpkin season is also a season for kids! I've been hearing reports from friends who are taking their children to pumpkin patches and from others who are busy baking pumpkin bread. Others are dreaming of pumpkin pies and are eagerly awaiting Thanksgiving! Pumpkin orange surely does seem to be the color of the season! Speaking of pumpkins, are there some little punkins in your life who might enjoy some pumpkin activities? Becky, who blogs at This Reading Mama is sharing a packet of pumpkin themed printables. They are free and will keep youngsters you may know busy for hours. I thought I'd pass along the word. Click PUMPKIN here.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Autumn Crocus

The autumn crocus continue to grow in a garden jumble, years after the gardener who planted them has passed away. Without her care they mix with leaves and overgrown foliage. Their pretty purple faces radiate beauty in the chaos. While searching for information about these pretty blossoms I discover that autumn crocus are very toxic but that some herbalists use it with care for the treatment of certain illnesses. Poets of old knew this too, and described a lovely venomous meadow on an autumn day.

Autumn Crocuses (Les colchiques)

The meadow is venomous but lovely in autumn
The cows graze there and are slowly poisoned 
The colchicum colour of shadow and lilac
Flowers there your eyes resemble that flower 
Violet shades like their shadow that autumn 
And slowly your eyes empoison my life. 

The children arrive from school, what a fracas,
Dressed in smocks and playing harmonicas
They gather the crocuses that are like mothers
Daughters of their daughters your eyelids' colour
That beat as the flowers beat in the wild breeze.

The herdsman sings and sings quite softly
While slowly mooing, the cows abandon 
Forever this wide field flowered by autumn.

Author Unknown

Saturday, October 12, 2013


O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.

by Robert Frost

Friday, October 11, 2013

Piquant {Spicy} Pumpkin & Peanut Soup

It's that time of year! Time to use up all that pumpkin!

Piquant {Spicy} Pumpkin & Peanut Soup 

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 tsp. ginger, fresh, minced
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1 tsp. lemon zest
3 cups water
2 Tbsp. Bill's Best Chicknish (or other chicken-like broth seasoning)
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 - 16 oz. can pumpkin puree
1 - 13.5 oz. can unsweetened coconut milk
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp. agave syrup or maple syrup
Salt to taste
1/4 cup cilantro, fresh, chopped
2 Tbsp. peanuts, roasted

Saute' onion in olive oil. When soft, add ginger and cayenne. Then stir in lemon zest, water, chicken-like seasoning, and soy sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for ten minutes. 

Strain the broth into another pot and discard the solids. Return broth to a low simmer. Then whisk in pumpkin,coconut milk, peanut butter, lime juice, agave syrup, and salt. Cook until heated through. 

Serve with cilantro and peanuts.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

We cannot let this autumn season pass by without reposting my favorite cookie recipe! These are very popular in our family!

It's recommended that we have a good source of Vitamin A every other day. It's best utilized by our bodies if the resource is cooked and served with some type of fat. Do you cook carrots or orange squash every other day? I don't, but resolve to do better. I'm quite sure my university sons aren't eating dark orange veggies every other day either. So, this evening I baked cookies to send to them. Vegan and filled with Vitamin A, I think they'll enjoy them. Here's the recipe if you'd like a sweet and tasty way to get your vitamins!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

A delicious, moist cookie that freezes very well.

2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
1 (15 1/2 ounce) can solid pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour*
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
12 ounces vegan semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts

Cream the sugar, shortening, pumpkin and vanilla together. Mix until well blended. In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. Stir the flour mixture into the creamed mixture. Stir gently until combined. Add the chocolate chips and walnuts. Mix together. Drop by teaspoonsful onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees F. for 12 - 15 minutes.

These cookies are delicious; cake-like and the type that melt in your mouth. I think their flavor would be enhanced by a pinch of salt in the recipe. The walnuts in this recipe add Omega-3's to the diet, and of course we all know that the chocolate is very good for us and high in anti-oxidants!

*For gluten free, Bob's Red Mill flour blend is recommended.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

A Walk Around the Yard

There is a chill in the air these days. But the sun shines through mid-day, giving just the right amount of warmth to the day. A walk around the yard is in order while the sun shines! Autumn is here. The plants reflect the affect of the heat of August, but are revived by the coolness present now. The lavender is blooming again, giving one last burst of purple before winter arrives. 

The cone flowers are very weary and tired. They have started producing seeds, but some faded color remains and bursts of cheer show forth.

The roses are less full and not quite so vibrant, but their faces still show of unfolding beauty and charm. I love the soft apricot essence of this blossom.

The hollyhocks just never give up! Beautiful, stunning blooms showcase some parts of the plants.

While other parts are dry stalks of seeds in pods. Each pod contains a spiral of small round discs that fit together perfectly! Every time I pass by them I pluck some of the pods, squeeze them tight, and release the seeds into the soil below. I love hollyhocks and simply want to help nature replenish the supply for next spring and summer!

The lawn is still green and the leaves have not quite turned to gold. But the tired, weariness of foliage and blossom is evident. There is beauty in each stage of every season.

Peace. The result of walking around the yard on a day in Indian summer.

Summer Ends

Summer ends, and autumn comes, and he who would have it otherwise would have high tide always and a full moon every night.”

Hal Borland

Thursday, October 03, 2013

The Herbs of Autumn

Bee Balm

The first October freeze looms near. The air was chilly this morning, reminding me that it won't be long before a killing frost hits the garden and changes my world!

Grape Leaves

By now you probably realize that I love spring and summer because of flowers and the wonderful gifts that nature provides. When October arrives I start taking jaunts through my yard, simply to appreciate the late season blossoms and greenery.

Bay Laurel

Unlike spring, the foliage this time of year is worn and weary. You have to look for the beauty and appreciate what each water spot or tattered leaf represents.


It's time to harvest and dry the herbs for winter use. Meadow tea is my favorite way to use homegrown herbs. The dried herbs look so pretty mixed together in a gallon jar, just waiting for infusion in a hot cup of water or a seasonal teapot.

More Rosemary

The rosemary did extremely well this year. I also dried a lot of homegrown lavender. It's time to make my own version of "Rosemary Hill" tea. The recipe will be simple: rosemary leaves, lavender buds, and a great quality black tea.


The sweet leaf, stevia, makes a delightful addition to meadow tea as well. Just dry, crumble, and add to the other dried herbs in the jar. The sweetness of the leaf enhances any tisane.

And of course, one cannot forget the mint. It's been plucked, picked, and appreciated all summer long. The last of the leaves are small and not very prolific this time of year, but the flavor they add to anything on a chilly day cannot be beat!

Have you walked through your yard today to check things out? What's growing in your autumn garden?

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Autumn Fires

In the other gardens
And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
See the smoke trail!

Pleasant summer over
And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
The gray smoke towers.

Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
Fires in the fall!

Robert Louis Stevenson

Tuesday, October 01, 2013


“I'm so glad I live in a world

 where there are Octobers.” 

L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

A Second Spring

is a second spring
where every
leaf is a

Albert Camas

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Tea. Nature. Friends. Autumn

Autumn arrived right on schedule. We went from unseasonably hot weather to days of wind, rain, and chill. So far there has been on gentle transition. Long sleeved shirts, jackets, and boots have been dug out of the back of the closet for daily wear. Even on the mountain there was not a transition period. It's been a shock to my system! But I am trying to take it with grace and adjust as quickly as I can.

Just two shorts weeks ago we were sitting in these chairs, enjoying the view in short sleeves and sandals! It's hard to believe! The change of season brings its own beauty, though. I love the vibrant yellows and oranges of fall. The woods have a carpet of golden pine needles and there is a general crispness in the air!

Mountain flowers are in the last throws of bloom! Yellow is the color of the season. It's so pretty!

New grow is evident too, as summer's growing season helped new plants and trees sprout and grow. This pretty little pine tree is new and is not far from the cabin. It's so perfect in its tender form. New needles radiate from each branch in perfect symmetry.

Rain has settled all the dust of summer. Rocks glisten with the moisture and prints can be seen in the mud. In early summer we observed a mother doe and her newborn twins not far from the cabin. The little ones were curious about us and the mother kept a close watch nearby. Over the summer we've seen them nearby from pictures on our trail camera. Yesterday they stepped out to greet us near our meadow as we arrived. Curious. We were so happy to see that they had survived the summer and grown so well. The fawns are now adolescents and have lost their spots, but they still hang behind their mother as protector. Our trail camera also showed us pictures of a lumbering black bear that passed by the cabin while on his search for grubs and berries.

Inside a blazing fire was welcome! Come in and sit for awhile. I'll put the tea kettle on!

There is an art to warming up in front of the wood stove. First the front, then the back, and around and around until toasty warm!

Friends and their four-legged pets are always welcome. Yesterday two of each stopped by for lunch. Afterwards the rain stopped long enough for a walk in the woods.

The meadow is turning dry and golden after the summer heat. After we passed along the trail we heard crackling, like fireworks. A tall, dead tree crackled and popped as it fell. The forest is never quiet. 

Beautiful colors. Purples in autumn compliment yellow, orange, and gold so well!

Afterwards, we warmed up again with mugs of hot tea. Tea. Nature. Friends. Autumn. A perfect day!