Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Prep

So are you up to your elbows in flour? Is the turkey defrosting? Are the little ones ready to go over the river and trough the woods to grandma's? Are the men planning out their football schedule? Perhaps there will be some shopping for the bargain seekers. Here, the first of the Amazon gifts have arrived. So easy. I tell the head gardener what to order and he does it.  

My dinner duties this year are simple: pecan pie, cranberry relish, and mashed potatoes. The pecan pie is a must, according to the family, especially the men. It is oooooy-gooey sweet. A once a year treat wish filled, especially with the price of pecans.

I came by the recipe years ago, 39 to be exact when we spent Christmas at my brother and new bride's house in Texas. My brother gave me his recipe to copy. I don't know if they bake the pie or not, but I have made the pie every year since.

I cherish the worn and torn patina of the recipe of the yellowed graph paper. Seems that every year it takes another spill. One year it nearly went up in flames. Just for safe keeping, I have a copy on the computer.

Done. One to perfection, one  not so, but it won't go to waste.

If you are traveling, travel safely, if you are cooking, rest your feet and back and call for back up when it comes time to clean up. 

                                                  Most of all, Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

What a Difference A Day Makes: Thank You Canada

Hello everyone. Yesterday we were riding around in the car looking for a TV console. The day was warm, sunny, calm, a balmy 55 degrees;   however, today just as the weather people predicted the Canadian Cold Front finally reached Colorado.  Thanks, guys. I rather enjoy these snowy days, especially now since I no longer have to get up before dawn and drive to work. I can sit at home and appreciate the beauty in the garden. Take a look:

We don't have much snow. Can you measure a skiff? An inch or two were predicted. Because the roads were warm and the temps dropped so dramatically, they are very icy today. The thermometer reads 16. BRRR.

More than frost on this aging, sagging pumpkin. 

With the garden put to bed for the winter, I am doing what I love to do in the winter. I am crazy over the colors in Elinore's afghan. I saw the colors in an afghan on Pinterest. The yarn is Caron 16 oz. skeins. It is not a very soft yarn, so hopefully once washed it will soften. I have one more set of colors to add then it will be finished.

I had plans for making the '70s Holly Hobby dolls for a couple of little girls, so I have the dresses made, but much more to do, including some handwork, but the dolls take a lot of time and I may not get them made.

I do have the flannel pjs made for the girls. The top one is little Lily's night gown. They turned out so cute. I have to buy more material to make pjs for the boys. 

So there you have it, a snowy day at the Garden Spot. Quiet, peaceful. Projects to finish, more to start. 

Next week, we will have Thanksgiving at Heather and James'--their first year to host. As the mom, I am being good not to offer all of my secrets and letting they discover and learn and plan all on their own. I will take pecan pie, fresh cranberry sauce,  and mashed potatoes. 

I'll be popping in no doubt with pie photos, but just in case I don't,  I hope you are all snugly and warm with dreams of Thanksgiving feasting.  And to our Canadian friends, we will gladly take your left over snow. 

Have a wonderful week end.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Thanksgiving: A Family History

With our Thanksgiving celebration only two weeks away, I wanted to introduce my ancestors, John Howland and his wife Elizabeth Tilley. American school children for generations have studied the story of how the pilgrims boarded a rickety, little wooden ship that would take them to a new life in a new world desiring religious and political freedom. Actually only about half of the manifest consisted of Puritans. The best record of the pilgrims can be found in William Bradford’s journal as he writes about the ship’s journey across the Atlantic beginning in September 1620. One of the most notable stories that Bradfrod relates is the story of John Holwand,  the young lad who fell overboard as the ship was thrown about the sea during a storm. John grabbed hold of part of the halyard from the sail that had broken and fallen into the water. There he held tight until he was rescued.

Born in 1598/9 in Fenstanton Huntingdonshire, England, John came to Plymouth on the Mayflower in 1620 as a manservant to John Carver, the governor of the group of 102 pilgrims onboard. He may have been one of the several indentured servants whom their masters brought with them. I did a bit of reading on what it really meant to be an indentured servant. Briefly, the indentured servants entered an agreement with one whom they owed a debt and were generally very young, even children. There is some discussion that John bought his freedom, but there was never any documentation found to prove his freedom. Once they arrived in Plymouth, Carver was elected governor of Plymouth Colony. Of the 102 passengers on the Mayflower, 53 of them and half of the crew survived the first winter living on the ship until it returned to England in April 1621. The others died either during the voyage or after the landing of sickness or starvation. The settlers formed a friendship with the natives, the Wampanoagos who taught them how to hunt, fish, and grow crops. That first year, the colony celebrated their success, giving thanks for their survival.

Howland may have inherited his master's fortune when Carver died suddenly from sunstroke while working in his cornfield. As the story is told, he emerged from the field on a very hot day and collapsed from the heat. His wife died a few weeks later.   Part of Howland’s lore says that as the only male survivor of the Carver household, he inherited the Carver fortune.  Elizabeth Tilley born in Henlow Bedforshire, England. was also on board the Mayflower with her parents who died that first winter, making her an orphan and the only Tilley child to survive. The Carvers took her in and when they both died John became the guardian of the 16 year old girl. Records show that they married when Elizabeth was probably 17 and John probably in his mid-twenties.

In reading the couple’s biography, we learn that Howland was a businessman, a leader, and a statesman, helping to grow a new colony that would forge a new nation. The Howlands had 10 children, so today their descendants number in the millions with such famous Americans from presidents to actors and common folk such as this humble blogger. Check of  The John Howland Society  for a list of the more famous Howland descendants. Visit the Mayflower Society website to see if your family name might be on that list. My grandmother and aunt worked on the Duston/Henry genealogy, so I have an accurate record of my family’s heritage, all English on my father’s side. Little wonder then, that I feel my English heritage calling to me.

While I do have great pride in such an ancestral heritage, my family heritage is hardly unique for I share that distinction with many other Americans. The Howlands had 10 children; their children had very large families creating a legacy of millions of descendants. . My ancestral line traces back to their 7th daughter Hannah who married Johnathan Bosworth July 1661. They had 9 children. My great grandmother on my grandmother's side Mercy Bothsworth Henry is my direct link. 

Today, Thanksgiving Day is about the food, the dinner, families and friends gathering to give thanks for their many blessings in life, and football. Now add to that list the number of stores that are announcing their Thanksgiving Day hours. Here at the Garden Spot there probably will be none of the above. The girls spend the day with their husbands’ families, so we often celebrate Thanksgiving here on Sunday. As for shopping, I don’t like crowds and I may even do most of it online this year.

That first Thanksgiving really was a celebration of a first successful harvest that lasted three days with 53 pilgrims and 90 Indians attending, but the country’s official Thanksgiving was actually declared by President Lincoln as a national holiday November 26, 1863, in the midst of the Civil War to give “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dewelleth in the Heavens.” (Wikipedia). And Americans have celebrated Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November since.

I hope you enjoyed this brief history lesson. It is hardly new information, but I love the family connection to the history. And who knows, we may be distant cousins. Our families all have such interesting tales to tell. I am rather old fashioned and want to savor the holidays for what they are meant to be, celebrations of family tradition and friends, grace, peace, and joy. May your holiday season be filled with just that: peace, joy, and love.

Have a fabulous week end.

Monday, November 11, 2013



Once again I find myself on chore duty. The Head Gardener has been out in Northeastern Colorado helping our friends with their corn harvest for the last week. I wrote about their wheat harvest in July; now they are combining corn. They have had a rough harvest with some of the normal expectations--equipment breaking down, corn not dry enough to combine, wet weather--then one of the brothers injured himself, so he is out of commission for the remainder of the harvest. Hubby got the call at end of October asking if he would be willing to help. He is driving Petunia (the John Deere tractor that the 14 year old Kaitlyn drives during wheat harvest), pulling the grain cart. He is in it for the long haul until the last kernel of corn has been stored. He left last Wednesday and will probably be gone all this week. Gladly the weather here has been quite pleasant so I don't mind doing the chores around here. The boys always greet me with sweet mumblings, at least they sound sweet to me. Actually, they are hungry and impatient for their breakfast.

I took my camera with me this morning. Keeping in mind that it is November, there is still a lot of green left at the Garden Spot. This little peach tree is nearly undressed. Daughter aborist Heather wrapped the little peach tree trunks while she was here over the week-end. Many of the trees around are in various states of undress, so there is still fall color about the country side.

I have so enjoyed seeing your fall colors across the country and over seas. The mid-west, east coast, and Canada have such a gorgeous variety of vegetation that colors the countryside. I am nearly left breathless by your wonderful photos. The photos from Netherlands, Brittany, and England are gorgeous as well. We just do not have the variety in plant material here; although landscapers and gardeners are finding more varieties of colorful trees and bushes that thrive in our climate, so the Front Range does have more variety in fall colors. One of my goals for the Garden Spot is to plant more deciduous trees such as red maples and the burning bush like the ones we have in the front of the house. 

I planted sage and parsley last spring. I love sage green. I painted my bedroom a soothing, sagey green. This sage will look taste best in turkey dressing. I think I am cooking this year. The girls cannot make up their minds about what they want to do. I am the default cook, I guess.

And fresh parsley. The strawberries haven't died back yet either, but are not producing. 

Just as I lamented the last of the roses, look at St. Patrick. November here can be really mild, so mild that at least the Saint has been fooled in new growth. 

All of the grand kids were here Saturday, so of course they had to ride Pop. They gave the old boy a pretty good work out. They have to remember that he is an old man at 24. Elinore brought Pop a gift, a sweet picture that she drew for him, insisting that we hang it in his stall so that he can see it as he eats.

I am surprised that it is still there because the push pins would hardly penetrate the hard stall panel.

                                                         I think Pop likes the picture. 

Elinore professes her love for Pop and wants him to come live with her. Of the 4 grand kids, she seems to be the one who will take to riding. She is the animal lover of the group. I have to laugh because so was her mom who was always dragging home some wayward cat that we had to find a home for.  

With November in full swing, the month is peaceful, but I hear that nagging voice in the back of my mind that is time to prepare for Thanksgiving and Christmas. This is the first year in so many years that I can actually decorate and shop and plan and prepare without the worry of school interfering with my excitement for the holidays. 

We have one more celebration this December. Our college girl who has been living with us while she has attended UNC (N.Colorado) graduates December 14. Her family lives hours away and she lost her mom over a year ago, so I want to have a big bash to commemorate her great accomplishment. She will be traveling England and Europe in June (so jealous) then she will attend graduate school in some far away European school (England or Germany). She has several schools that she is applying to. We are so proud of her. So naturally I want my house all decked out for the holidays and I want her to have a grand graduation celebration.

And now it is time to fire up the sewing machine. I have been making pjs for the kids for Christmas. I go in spurts and spells, but I really need some self discipline. I have had set aside my glasses because they are giving me a headache, so I am relying on my readers until my new glasses come in. Sewing does require some vision.

With this mild, warm weather here, there seems to be little really good stuff to blog about.  I will be looking to you guys for some blog inspirations. I am running dry. There is just so much Gee Look At the Green still hanging around that a writer can embellish upon. Not that I am inviting a snow storm or anything, but a good blizzard would make for an interesting blog post. 

I do wish you all a good week.

 Today we honor our Veterans. God Bless them, especially your children and family members who serve here and overseas both past and present. 

We will honor them and keep them in our prayers. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Back up the Time

Time to go back in time. I don't know about you, but I much prefer standard time. It just feels comfortable. I do wish government didn't mess with our circadian rhythms. However, regardless of what the clock says, the seasons have a way setting our pace. The coolness of Autumn quickens our footsteps, helps us to take deeper, cleansing breaths as we prepare for the slowdown that winter brings. Here, the first week-end of November we change our clocks. So Saturday night I set about the biannual routine of changing at least the important clocks. Some I must be a mechanical engineer to figure out, like the car clock on my new car. And there is always a clock that I forget like the one that stares back at my while I am working here at my computer. Then there is my  father's flea market clock that sits on the fire place mantle for purely nostalgic beauty, its voice mute and  hands still. (I did get it fixed, but when I got it home I didn't set it correctly and I never took the time to take it back to clock repair man to get it set. Need to that. It has booming loud Westminster chimes). I like 7:39 be it AM or PM. It is just a nice time of day at either end of the day, Standard time or Daylight Savings.

So the time has come to put the garden to bed for the season. Pop soaks up some sun, while the garden absorbs some rays, too. 

We still need to dig the last of the potatoes, and hubby will get around to tiling the raised beds sometime before the ground freezes. And put away hoses. And install a gate as a short cut to the pasture to 
by-pass the mud hole that forms just in front of that green gate. But there will plenty of time to those little project over the winter.

The Head Gardener finally got around to weeding the asparagus that we planted last spring. Then he filled in the trench where the roots grew all summer. We planted 16 roots; 13 grew to maturity. It will be exciting to see the plants come along next year. The two older plants that are 2 years old will be harvested next spring. (above photo) I have been of the mind that if the asparagus across the road growing wild thieves, mine should too.

While most of the trees on the property are pine trees, these two crab apple trees bring fall color to the pasture. 

Along the front drive we have 4 crab apple trees that produce mini crab apples. They sorta look like maraschino cherries, don't they? They are fun photograph. 

 Fishing Anyone?

With fishing season coming to an end (until ice fishing, I am told) the Head Gardener has to get his fishing fix. The gold fish in the court yard water feature are not that easy to catch, either.

They will spend the winter months in the garage in a plastic tub in dormant mode just hanging out, literally suspended in time. They won't need food or any special care, although we may have to add a bubbler to help oxygenate the water. The water garden will be drained for the winter. Next spring we need to work on the water fall because it has a leak someplace. One of those little projects that we never seemed to have time to do.

The water plants will be moved to the horse tank for the winter, too, where they can be submerged deeply so that they do not freeze. Look at the root system in this lily. Seems that it grew more roots this summer with little leaf growth and few blooms.

The lilies do well in the horse tank. The black thing is a tank heater to keep the water from freezing, but it freezes anyway. The boards are for the birds so that they have a place to sit on if they want to drink; otherwise, they land in the water and end up drowning. Can't have that.

It is also holiday craft show time.

I went to my favorite show Saturday at the Greeley Wesleyan Church just to buy these homemade noodles. A couple of packages for the girls, some my for friend out at Haxtun, and some for me. Best homemade noodles

I adore home made, home spun crafts, especially dolls. I really don't need more stuff, so I picked up these little angels, Santa, and snowman for the grandkids' Christmas packages.

 With the garden put to bed, I have turned to my indoor projects. I am crocheting another afghan for Ellie. I love the colors that I saw in a Pinterest pin: sage green, mint green, light lavender and dark purple. And I am sewing pajamas for Christmas for the little girls. I chose the easiest pattern that I could find. And making the Holly Hobby dolls, too, if I have time.

I am finding that retirement does require good time management, so I try to keep busy. Along with my friend who also retired, I joined Silver Sneakers, an exercise program for seniors sponsored by our insurance provider. So we get to use the Fun Plex facilities for free. They have a full gym, but we have started by walking the track for about 45 minutes to an hour. We may venture into the weight room, too. So I walk 3 mornings a week, meeting her at the track at about 7:45 after she has dropped her granddaughter off at school.  I have also returned to the university to work as a volunteer tutor in the Writing Center where I worked as part of my teaching assignment for so many years. I go in for 2 hours on Friday. It felt so good to get back to the university and see old friends and be with students, even better to put my mind back to work.

Please share with us how you spend your time once your garden has gone down for a long winter's sleep.

Hope your are having a great week.

"Let every man be master of his time." Macbeth

A Rose by Any Other Name

Jackson and Perkins roses have been in the garden for at least 10-12 years. This year they have been spectacular. The bushes were taller and...