Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Pies

Cherry Pie:
I love the warm glow in this picture. The softness of it reminds me of the images I conjure of Thanksgivings long ago. In the foreground, cherry pie from the canning efforts of the summer. I like to use Thanksgiving as an official mark of the changing seasons. I don't open any home canned goods until preparations for the Thanksgiving feast are underway. Apple and pumpkin pie are in the background.

Apple Pie:

And here's a picture with natural lighting. I used the ingredients as inspiration for the decoration. Apples of course, and wheat since the crust is made from freshly ground flour from Soft White Wheat grown by a local farmer.

Whole Grain Pastry Crust:
4 cups Soft White Wheat flour (Pastry Flour)
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cup natural vegetable shortening
1 cup very cold water
Mix together flour and salt, chill in refrigerator. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles course crumbs with some shortening still the size of small peas. Make sure the shortening isn't too soft, chill slightly if you need to. Toss water into flour mixture by tablespoonful working all around mixture. Once all the water in incorporated, toss with fork until any dry area are incorporated into moist areas. Press lumpy mixture together and work into smooth ball. This should make two double crust pies.

It's just about time to eat those pies. Something to be very thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 17, 2008

My Latest Fascination

Plums have been quite my thing this year. Well, I've always had a thing with plums, but this is an entirely different thing. The fascination that has been inspired in me this year is not only the bounty of them, but the variety. Just look at the specimens below, all picked within a lot less than an acre of each other. Fascinating, very fascinating.

I of course wanted to make plum jam and take advantage of the wild bounty. The purple plum jam was first, and then when we found the yellow plums, why I had to make yellow plum jam too. And then my little sister discovered the green plums, I simply had to make some of them into green jam. I really couldn't resist.

Interesting, I'll allow. Especially all by its little lonesome.

But all three together? I think they're rather fetching.

Friday, November 14, 2008

As the seasons change….

Having moved to a new state just a little over a year ago, I’m still adjusting to the new area. There are things I miss about the old countryside: the sun rising over the mountain range, rolling green fields, trees, rain, fog and our sweet cottage.

It was fall when we moved and some of my last and best memories of the area are walking early in the morning, when the mist still hung heavy in the air. I would go down our long driveway, along the road past a little house with two large birch trees in the yard, with their golden orange leaves falling softly on the ground; peeping up in the grass were whimsical toadstools. It was just as if I passed a page in a fairy book each morning, its own little picture shrouded in the fog. At the oak tree, I would turn off the country road down between two fields, the ruts of tires cutting into the grass, a wheel line stretching away into the mist marking my path. As I walked, little drops of the vapor would cling to the wisps of wool on my hat, taking me into the magic crispness of the morning.

I love fog. I love the way it romanticizes the every day and ordinary, turning the landscape into softened silhouettes, emerging them one at a time as you draw nearer into dew laden pictures, shutting out the past, hiding the future, and silencing the present. Fog is like fairyland, and into the mist your spirit soars and you can dream.

That is what I miss the most; early morning walks through misty landscapes.

Wherever I go, there are treasures to be found. I don’t have the same beautiful misty mornings here. We get fog, but it is different, somehow. Up on our mountain, I’m enjoying a new season in my life. In the winter the cold snow fell and I got to go sledding, a winter sport I haven’t enjoyed for a long time. And one of my favorite memories from our first winter here was a walk up the snowy mountain, in the soft light of evening with my mum and several siblings, while little snowflakes twirled and fell softly in the gathering dusk. It was another chapter to add to my fairy memories.

With spring came an abundance of wildflowers in a surprising variety. Whenever I ventured outdoors it seemed I discovered a new specimen or another color of the same flower. I flower lover at heart, it was as if a treasure chest had been given me. For many weeks I delighted myself with arrangements of the wild beauties that brought spring indoors.

As spring faded into summer, the bounty of the wild fruit began to unfurl its arms of plenty as wild cherries ripened, raspberries were discovered, apples began to grow, pears started forth after the blossom of their flowers. There is something about the bounty of the wild that hearkens to the pioneer that must lurk somewhere deep within me, and something that makes me have to pause to marvel at such an awesome God giving such richness and treasure to us.

As fall came, the fruits of summer ripened and more surprises greeted me. Yes, I knew there were plums; in fact there were several varieties of purple plums. At least I think you would qualify them as purple, though they were not the strictest hue of that color. But I was thrilled to discover yellow and green plums too! And in one area all three grew near each other. Down a little lane through the shrubbery that when snow covered it, looked like a path into a storybook, and in the light of late summer, beautiful, plump fruit was the fulfillment of a sweet plot.

As I was approaching my trip back East, I thought back to four years previous when I had last been there. I had expected many changes, and I looked forward to them. But if you I told me where I would be today, I would have been very surprised. I don’t think even my wild imaginations could have turned my life through the paths it has taken. It was fun to think back and try to imagine myself seeing me where I am today. It's almost like taking a peek into someone else's life.

I never would have planned the changes that have happened as they have, and yet, I am thankful for them as they are.

Cold winds blow, the first light snow has already fallen and a full year on the mountain has already turned round. I’ll always miss those romantic foggy mornings, but I’m cherishing every exciting discovery as I turn the pages on my new adventures. And someday again, I’d like to pause, and think upon where I am in the future from the perspective of the past.

I wonder where the road of my life leads?

Monday, November 3, 2008

Five Little Ladies and How They Flew

Our tickets were booked four months in advance and then we anxiously awaited the arrival of our departure to visit three sisters on the East Coast.

Our visit took on even more excitement when we were invited to attend a ball while we were visiting. Eight girls and a chance to dress up! Actually, one of my sisters wasn’t too happy about the idea. But then of all five of us, she was asked to dance the most, and I think she changed her mind and had lots of fun.

We decided to make all our dresses for the ball so the last few weeks before our departure was a mad rush of fabric purchases, humming sewing machines, spools of thread, gathering yards of tulle for petticoats, etc. I think the threads were still settling as we finished packing and headed to the airport.

Of course we were expecting to have fun on our adventure. That was why we went, right? But we were not expecting to have that much fun! It was incredible!

Our hosts were wonderful. We felt right at home the moment we walked in the door. They are incredibly fun, inspiring and witty people. I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but very soon we were not less friends, but more sisters. And there were a few times when we accidently referred to each other’s parents as our own. It was fun to see how many things that aren’t usual that we had in common. They don’t have a microwave, we don’t have a microwave. They don’t have a toaster, we don’t have a toaster.

The father of the girls took a day off work to escort us all to D.C. We walked for several hours solid taking in as many landmarks as possible. The trip culminated with a tour of our Capitol and then a very long walk back to the car. And then we ate just about every scrap of food in the car. We’d earned it. But because there were so many girls, it was perhaps surprising. Do you know how good it feels to eat food you really feel you’ve earned?

My sisters and I had never been to a ball before and didn’t know any of the dances, so before we left a friend came up and coached us in the two she knew and then once we got into town, Tricia, Theresa and Hannah dedicated many hours to teaching us the dances. After our adventures in D.C. the next day we still practiced the dances and then went to the Ball that evening. My legs actually didn’t feel like falling off, somewhat to my surprise.

On Sunday we went to church and then we had company over for lunch. I mean, they had more company over for lunch. :) It was fun to get to know their brother and his wife and little boy better, and two family friends that were a blast. We played volleyball, Ultimate Frisbee and shared our “intellectual game”. This was really funny because all of us had figured it out earlier in our visit on the way to D.C., so the only people that didn’t know the rules were the three guys. We had them calling for “men’s rights,” and “what about men’s suffrage?”

Our fast paced trip wound down with exploring the ruins of an old factory, learning some more new games, watching movies, deep talks, looking at pictures, singing together and discussing our week. I knew it was going to be a week of many wonderful memories, but they are sweeter yet than ere I expected. Such a blessing was an answer to prayers for a very special trip that would uplift us all.

On our way home our plane had engine trouble and we ended up missing our connecting flight. After the substitute the airline had arranged wouldn’t take us, Delta paid for two hotel rooms and meal vouchers so we could catch our flight the next morning. We saved the PB&J sandwiches Mrs. M had sent for our dinner for a quick breakfast and tried the hotel restaurant. Which I’m afraid was a disappointment. The food was good, but the service was very inattentive and then we had a little more trouble with them. I think perhaps because it was five young ladies, but I can’t say for sure.

All five of us wore hats to travel, and as we were getting off the shuttle from the hotel the next morning, the driver asked if we were a singing or dancing group, “No, sisters,” I replied, and he asked, “nuns?”

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Six Random Things Tag

I've been tagged!

The Rules of the game are as follows:
~Link to the person who tagged you.
~Post the rules on your blog.
~Write Six Random Things about yourself.
~“Tag” six-or-so other people at the bottom of your post…
~…And leave comments on their blogs, letting them know they’ve been tagged.
~Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve written the post.
I don’t usually do things like this, but Annie at Little Miss Oakley tagged me. The things I do for my little sisters. :)

Six Random Things About Me (T.W.)

1. I have three younger brothers and four younger sisters. And, I also have older siblings.

2. I would love to go dry camping sometime, but with just the right people.

3. I was told recently that I was a lot more fun than expected and prettier in real life. That really was a very fun conversation.

4. People often think I’m a lot younger than I really am. When I was younger, they thought I was a lot older than I was.

5. I miss foggy mornings, and an early walk through the mist that left dew drops clinging to my hat and scarf.

6. I like etiquette and cook books.

I can’t think of anyone I’d like to tag, but please do it if you want to.