Monday, December 5, 2016

Three Trees

I found these pink balls at the thrift store; they match the pink
on my tree. The little glass bird brings special memories
of England. I purchased it at the Christmas shop
in Stratford on Avon
Good Morning. I have so much to do. Are you in the same predicament? It is the holiday season, so of course, we are all busy, even those who are keeping it simple. I am hearing more and more from friends who are keeping it simple this year, cutting back, scaling back, not decorating as much. I am full bore ahead I suppose because I still have young grandchildren whom I want to please. I enjoy seeing their smiles and the joy when come to the house, making all of the work worth it. And I do enjoy going to all of the work to decorate and make things look pretty.

Then there is the gift shopping. More of our shopping now is done online. I tell the Head Gardener what to order and he does. I have those friends who are done shopping, bragging oh I've had mine done for weeks. Or I shop the after Christmas sales for the next year. Or I'm just giving money this year. I enjoy thinking about each gift for each person I have on my list. I want to give sincerely from the heart with love in the spirit of the season, so I tromp around the stores, looking for the right thing or cruise the Internet hoping to find free shipping.

 I guess what stresses me out the most are those who begin the Christmas planning and decorating before Thanksgiving. Really? My trees are now up. Usually they don't go up the weekend of the 10th but we will be traveling that weekend. I wish I didn't let the pressure of the holidays that my friends suffer from suck me in. I liked what Jane at Blondie's Journal wrote last week about taking the stress out of the holiday season. So I am blogging this morning instead of cleaning, or doing laundry, or paying bills, or any number of other things.
Another thrift store find, an animated doll.
She looked brand new in an old box.

When did all get so complicated? My parents didn't have much. They worked very hard; they were not extravagant or indulgent, but their children never went without. Mom always shopped Christmas Eve for the sales. No Black Fridays where shoppers lose their sanity. No Cyber Monday. As a child I would wear out the toy section of the Montgomery Wards Catalog dreaming about the beautiful dolls and dollhouses, and make believe toys that I would probably never have. I still have one of my dolls, Susie. The only one to survive my life's journey  and barely, too. No Electronics under the tree for us, though my brother did get an electric train one year and we played with that until we wore it out. And I got a watch one year. I loved my watch.

Our stocking were hung with care and filled with an orange, and apple, a candy cane, nuts in the shells, ribbon candy, and Black Jack Gum. Oh and a new tooth brush and a small tube of tooth paste. The oranges were a rare treat because way back then (1950s), oranges were seasonal. Gum was a grand treat because our father didn't allow us to chew gum.

My Madame Alexander doll in her new
Christmas dress that I sewed last
No fake trees or blinking lights, either. Our trees were fresh cut at the our grandparents mountain property. The tree went up December 20 and came down New Year's Day. Only one tree. Not the three that I have sparkling through out the house now.

I do know that one of these years, I will scale back, not be in the mood, keep it simple, but not yet. I am not ready for the magic to end. I like living in the magic of the holiday season, I am just getting slower at doing it all. I love the old Christmas carols that aren't played anymore. They are on my iPod, so I plug it in and let the old songs play all day because the Christmas music that began to play on the radio the week before Thanksgiving are all the modern rocky type  songs like "Jingle Bell Rock." I want "Hark the Herald Angles Sing," "Silent Night," "Oh Holy Night," and my very favorite, "Noel, Noel."

I decided to put up a tree down stairs for the first time because I have two trees. (Long reason why). It is decorated very simply, red and gold balls and colored lights. The tree in the living room is my traditional pink tree full of ballerinas, dolls, angels, and rocking horses with pink, gold, and silver balls. The tree in the kitchen is dedicated to the wild birds with only bird ornaments on it that I have been collecting since we moved here. While I love putting up all of the trees, I don't much enjoy the putting away. 

Let's enjoy the spirit of the season in the best we can, whether we are keeping it simple, scaling back, going all out. 

Thanks for visiting. Loved all of your comments last week. The village is fully installed. I'll take more photos for next week. Linking with Maggie at Normandy Life for Mosaic Monday. See you over there.

Monday, November 28, 2016


Good Morning, Friends. How was your Thanksgiving? Ours was quietly spent, and now here I find myself caught up the rush to get ready for Christmas. I guess I am feeling the pressure all around me because my friends have their trees up and shopping done. Who does that?  

As a child, for me it didn't seem that Christmas came so early. The wait seemed endless.  My birthday is December 20, so that was day mom put up the Christmas tree. The trees were always fresh cut from my grandparents' mountain property west of Denver. Mom's birthday was December 31st, and the tree came down that day.  

Now trees are up sometimes before Thanksgiving. Do you feel the anxiousness of the holidays? I am trying not to. We have a full month of holiday related events, too.  Lunch Friday with the women from the English Department at the university. A trip to Haxtun next week for friend's annual Christmas party, an over night stay. We come home early Sunday so that we can go to the Nutcracker to watch Lucy dance her 30 seconds. The next weekend we host our Santa Party for the grandchildren, then Christmas Eve, the New Year's which means another trip to Haxtun, then a week of birthdays.

I always begin the decorating by putting up my Christmas village. It isn't quite finished yet, but you would like to see my progress?

The project begins by having the Head Gardener carry up the boxes containing the village.

He also places the large plywood board on the cabinet and brings two saw horses from the barn that extends the length of the village. I cover the board with a roll of "snow" which gets thinner and thinner each year. This little carousel came from a garage sale for $5.  It is one my favorite pieces.

I empty out the boxes on the dinning table so that I can see what I have--too much stuff.

Installing the lights in all of the pieces is the biggest challenge. I struggled yesterday with that. 

I changed the layout too, and I am not yet finished. Usually the train goes in the center of the village and the amusement park goes on a second layer on top of boxes. This year I created the woods at the edge of the amusement park. My other favorite piece, the carousel on the left, has stopped working. It rotates and plays music--well it used to. It didn't want to turn yesterday; instead, made a grinding sound and then a very loud pop, so I image it shorted out and is done. It is still a pretty piece and other one rotates.

Using the iPhone, I am able to photograph individual pieces. I enjoy the little children making the perfect snowmen.

So I have several children making snowmen.

The village has three sections with a fourth one to add if I have room. The first section is the neighborhood where the residences live. The middle section is the town. My church was the first piece and year by year I added more pieces.

I still have more to do. I add lots and lots of sprinkle snow to make it sparkle and to cover up the wires. Messy but pretty.

And this how things look this morning. The box in the lower right here in the photo has 5 more houses that I am hoping to fit in. Maybe. 

I am done adding pieces to the village simply because I am out of room and don't want to expand it any more. Stores used to carry full selection of Christmas village pieces, but no longer. Now the best places to look for village pieces are the thrift stores.

I have lots to do today, so I'd better get off the computer and carry on with my chores for the day. I look forward to reading about your Christmas and holiday decorating and preparations, so I'll be visiting. 

Thanks so much for stopping by. I'll be linking with Maggie at Normandy Life for Mosaic Monday.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, dear friends. I am imagining you all in the kitchen preparing that turkey, mixing dressing, whipping up mashed potatoes. Here, it will just be the two of us. The girls will go to their in-laws. Heather and James are doing the turkey, green bean casserole, and salad at their house then will take the food to his mom's. I admire those young people. Jen and her family are supposed to go up the hill to Grant's parents, but Jen and Elinore will be staying home. Ellie woke up with croup yesterday and a had a very bad night last night.

The Head Gardener and Jacob went deer hunting down on the Platte River out by Julesburgs, CO. Meanwhile I had Nathan here with me from Sunday until yesterday when we took the boys back to Denver. What a helper he is.

We began Tuesday morning with a bit of a history lesson combined with some family genealogy. I told him that on his mother's side of the family he is related to John Howland, a Mayflower pilgrim. He, of course, knew all about the pilgrims. I dug out my old Norton American Literature anthology from grad school and read to him William Bradford's account of his great + grandfather falling over board on the Mayflower during a storm. He was so excited and impressed, guess what went home with him? My anthology. I think I was ready to part with it.

 Story time ended and it was time to bake the pies. I'll not share my secret recipe with you, but big hint: you can find it on the Libby's pumpkin can label.

When we went to Denver to pick up Jacob to go hunt with Grandpa, I asked Nathan what he would be doing this week since he didn't have school. Quite sadly he said that he had to go to Day Care at the school. So I asked his mom and dad if he could come home with me. Nothing better than spur of the moment plants.

After I rolled out the dough, I showed him how to crimp the crust. He did very well.

With left the over crust I had him cut out little leaves that I put around the edge of the crust.

Two pies: one for us here at home and for Nathan to take to Thanksgiving Dinner where can proudly announce that he helped make.

Don't let that look deceive you. He loved running the food processor to grind up the cranberries. My sauce: a bag of fresh cranberries, 1 apple, 1 orange with peeling. I chunk the apple and orange and blend it all together in the food processor. I add Trivia, a plant sourced, no calorie sweeter, and if I have it on had about half a cup of orange juice. It is a tart sauce and some may find the orange with peel too much, so remove the peel the orange.

I have a very simple meal planned for us today. I purchased a turkey breast and thighs which I will roast. I will make bread stuffing, and roasted asparagus. The HG requested mashed potatoes, but I am trying so hard not to over eat, but I will make mashed potatoes for him. And later we will pie have for supper. I will put away the Thanksgiving decor and get ready to start decorating for Christmas, for we have a very busy Christmas season this year.

Happy Thanksgiving to my friends in the States and a glorious weekend to my friends abroad. I'll be back to read and comment later. Thanks so much for dropping by.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Winter is Coming--When?

If you are a Game of Thrones fan, you will know that winter is coming in Season 7 next spring and that won't bode well for those folks living in that fantasy land.

Here in Northern Colorado, we are asking ourselves when will it really be winter? Right now, solstice grooving with the solstice, we are slowly edging toward winter, but Lady Autumn and Jack Frost don't always pay attention to the tipping of Earth's axis or its spinning or its trip around the sun. Their capriciousness leads us down the garden path in so many ways. Follow me today down my garden path and you will see what I mean.

It is mid-November and roses are still blooming. Gertrude Jekyll who quietly withdrew her blooms weeks and weeks ago brought forth this beauty. My little super market specials, roses that were on the sale rack, have bloomed all summer long, relentlessly and they continue.

Veteran's Honor made it nearly to Veteran's Day last week, but Jack Frost has been gently nibbling around her edges.

There are blooms in the center circle, too. This sea pink stopped blooming in the late spring.  I think the little girl is very confused as to the season. She should be storing food for her winter's nap, but I think she thinks that it is spring. NOT.

Another late bloomer, a rudbeckia brightness up the otherwise lifeless landscape.

The mallows have the proper approach to fall color.

Does the hollyhock forest look like it is going dormant?

Nor do the hollyhocks about by the barn. Instead of winter berries, we will have hollyhocks for the holidays.

The boys are basking in the warm sun. Sun Dance wakes up and begins talking softly to me, sweetly nickering, and I know what he wants. He wants out in the pasture. "Open the gate, please," he says.

I walk away to get a better photos of the blooms by the barn door and he calls louder, a bit more demanding. "Pleeeaassse?"

 By the time I leave the barn, his whinny pierces the cool, fall morning air. Translated, I am sure he is scolding me for not opening the gate, something like, "Hey I am starving here. Those dry pellets you call food don't fill a big guy's belly. I need food, real food." He continues to whinny at me, as I get further way, "Winter's coming, you know. I need to bulk up."

I laugh. Sun Dance, I think you are bulky enough." 

And so that's how it is this fine day at the Garden Spot. Warm, sunny, pleasant, happy.  I wish the same for you in your garden. Have a great week and thanks so much for visiting.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Hanging In There

It is Sunday night. We are half heartedly enduring the Denver Broncos as they play arch rivals, the Oakland Raiders. It is not a pretty game; thus, I am writing this post and probably one for the dollhouse blog, too.

Are you having a hard time recognizing that the first week of November is coming to an end? Really? Where does the time go? Here the weather has us fooled into thinking that it is late summer or early fall, not edging closer to winter. The high today was 70 degrees F, mild and dry. Very dry. In fact we haven't had any measurable moisture since the end of July, so now the "D" word is being slung around by the weather people: "D" for drought. We could either be in for a long dry winter, undoing all of the benefits of wet spring we had or we could have one heck of blizzard--sometime. While we love this mild climate, such weather is not healthy for the garden.

The Head Gardener has finished his farming duties, now he can get back to gardening with me. I still have my basket of daffodil bulbs to plant and the tulips that we dug up last summer when we planted the bushes that replaced the dead crab apple trees.

I had the HG dig large holes where I  planted multiple bulbs to make the chore go a bit more quickly.
This space in the center circle on the west side has little planted there, so I wanted the daffodils staggered in clumps. I think they will be very pretty next spring.

That's Boone. He's helping. He celebrated his 3rd birthday October 31st. Actually he was at the boarding kennel, so when we got him home we celebrated. No stuffed animals for he destroys them in the first 5 minutes. He loved his treats that I brought home for him.

Meanwhile, back in the garden: container of daffodils--we made a dent-- and a pile of tulips. I hate for them to go waste, so we will plant as many as we can find space for.

This clumpy, cloddy soil, however, hindered our progress and took away our enthusiasm because the ground was so hard to dig. The HG dug the holes, while I place the bulbs where I wanted them and then tried to back fill with hard, dry dirt clods that were so hard they wouldn't break apart and with my old, weak hands with a bit of arthritis, I gave up trying to break the clods; instead, I just scooped them on top of bulbs. The HG said rain or snow will break them up and dissolve them. Sure. We just need some moisture. 

 Look at what we have here, petunias too tough to die, hanging in there while the mild weather lasts. I haven't watered these pots in weeks, thinking that a killing frost would take the plants any night, but look at these little beauties. (Yes, that is a snow shovel in the back ground. Wishful thinking.) I will be planting a lot of bulbs in containers this week. I got my pots gathered and may buy a couple more. I will fill them with beautiful daffodils to set out around the front porch and the back pergola. 

 So that is how it goes at the Garden Spot in late Autumn.

The best part of the weekend was the completion of our Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) signing of our applications: Mother and both daughters. Jennifer on the left, and her big sister Heather on the right. Their Aunt Karen who submitted her application last month took our photo. My daughters qualify for the DAR on both sides their family tree and that is pretty special and honorable.

It was a proud moment for us.

Have a great week. Thanks for visiting. I'll see you soon.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

One Day Ends and a New One Begins

Everyone seemed to enjoy A Mouse Tale last week. I did have another mouse encounter, but this time it was my fault that the little guy ended up in the metal can containing Pop's pellets when I left the lid off. His extraction was easier and less traumatic for him-- and me as I placed the broom in the bin and he ran right up it and ran swiftly off.

Yes there are traps set loaded with peanut butter, but the mice don't seem go after it. We will look into different traps when the Head Gardener returns. Poison does rid them quickly, but with a cat and dog, we don't want to take a chance that our boys or the neighbors' pets might find a poisoned mouse. We also have raptors, hawks and owls, that feed on the mice and such poisons are very bad for them, too. So the battle will continue. Still adventures with the mice make for fun story telling and blogging, don't they?

We have had a very warm fall and very dry too, leaving us wondering when we will get significant moisture. The warm weather makes for very pretty sunsets and the glow shines on the autumn leaves still on the trees, making dusk a fun time to shot photos, even with the phone camera.

Evening photos in the barn make interesting shoots of the horses.

At the end of the day, the only thing Pop cares about is his supper: a scoop of low carb pellets with his pill for his auto immune disorder and a scoop of alfalfa pellets.

Feeding the boys is down to a routine: Two scoops for each and Sun Dance gets two flakes of hay. Done Now off to the hens, the same routine a scoop of scratch, check the water, and gather the eggs.

These girls are just the sweetest. They are always happy to see me, greeting me with sweet clucks and chirps

A new day, Sunday, dawns shrouded in fog and a thick cloud cover that lasted most of the day. The same garden spot now looks cold and dim; however, call me odd, give me a strange look, for I rather like cloudy, foggy days. We seldom have fog. I like fog. 

Sundance welcomes me with sharp whinny that sounds somewhat demanding. I wish he were as polite as the little hens.


Pop, too, lets me know that he starving. I will admit that I was bit late getting out to feed them this morning, but don't they both look under fed and neglected? Perhaps I did deserve a bit of a scolding.

Then we have Mo, just as demanding as his big brothers. He likes his water, fresh, cold, straight from the tap, please.

And look a this surprise beauty that I found first thing this morning, a dinner plate dahlia. Yes. I know. It is more soup bowl size, but I am thankful that it bloomed at all. We planted six dahlias late in the season, so they have been quite behind. But what a gorgeous color. I'll have the HG dig the tubers once they die back and save this beauty for next year.

And here is another little beauty. We celebrated Elinore's 10th birthday today. My how she is growing. I received a text from her mother this evening lamenting how fast the years have gone and I readily agreed, acknowledging that I had been there, too, but I am going through that same lament that the children grown up so fast for the second time with the grandchildren. The Genie in the Bottle was a great theme because as Ellie grows older, the Genie certainly is coming out of the bottle and won't be stuffed back in. And do you know what she wanted for her birthday gift? Office supplies. So I filled a bag with office supplies. She loved it.

Tomorrow I will pick Lily up at preschool at noon while her momma spends the day at the girls' school. I asked Lily what she wanted to do tomorrow and she said that she wanted to go to the library, so that's what we will do. 

Will you be handing out candy to Trick or Treaters? We seldom have many come knocking, but I will have a bit of candy in case some of the neighbor kids to come by. We are off the beaten path, so we don't get much traffic.

Head Gardener is  still harvesting. I hope he is home by Wednesday. Tomorrow is Boone's birthday and we won't get to celebrate with him until he gets home from the boarding kennel. He'll be 3.

And now a parting treat for you to help you get in the mood for Halloween tomorrow night: the last two stanzas of Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven"

“Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting— 
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore! 
    Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken! 
    Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door! 
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!” 
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.” 

    And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting 
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door; 
    And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming, 
    And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor; 
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor 
            Shall be lifted—nevermore!

BOO: Scary.

If you want more, read the full poem @Poetry

Thanks for visiting; it always nice to see you. I'll be linking with Maggie at Normandy Life for Mosaic Monday. Join us there tomorrow. 

Oh, and I'll be updating Ann's Dollhouse Dreams