Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Hot, homemade bread and real butter!

Rye Bread, Ready to eat

It's spitting snow outside but the house smells great! Butternut squash soup is simmering on the wood stove, and I'm all alone in the house with four small loaves of rye bread, just out of the oven! Maybe I should say I made only 3 loaves, because it's hard to resist temptation- hot bread and real butter is heavenly! In fact, I just sampled three slices to verify that statement. I never tried making rye bread, but I think it's easy enough. The recipe I followed emphasized not to knead the dough, and to use wet hands when mixing in the last of the flour, and later, when shaping the loaves. My Dad is truly the bread maker in our family. He started making homemade bread over sixty years ago, and has made it ever since. He makes a lot of wheat bread these days, and has experimented with beer breads (a little too dense for my taste), cottage cheese dill bread from a magazine recipe from skater, Peggy Fleming, (remember her?), anadama bread (a favorite of mine because of the molasses taste and the story behind it -I don't remember the exact story, but it involved an ice fisherman griping about his wife, and the punchline was "Anna, damn her!") I used to cringe at lunchtime in elementary school when I pulled Dad's sandwiches out of my lunch bag. I wanted to have soft, white Wonder bread sandwiches like everyone else had. Dad may have even conceded to my pleas for awhile and packed store-bought bread in my lunches. (Dad made all our lunches. He spent Sunday afternoons making several loaves of bread, slicing them, and assembling at least thirty PBJ sandwiches for the whole family to last the week, which he'd pop into the freezer and put into lunch bags each morning as he made breakfast. Dad and Mom taught at the same school where my three brothers went, so that's a lot of bag lunches! When the boys were hungry teens, Dad often packed double sandwiches in their bags. Nowadays, we aren't even allowed to pack peanut butter sandwiches because of the chance of exposing kids with nut allergies to peanut oil.) It's enjoyable to make bread- it tastes great, it's a nice way to connect with and honor my Dad, and it's also a great way to pound out anything bothering you, if you are making dough that requires kneading. The only downside is the possibility of gaining a couple hundred pounds by Winter's end!

Bread and butter

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pumpkins and Pansies

Planting more daffodils is one of my Autumn rituals and in my search for a bag of inexpensive bulbs I've been browsing the flower bins at KMart, Walmart and Lowes. Bags of bulbs seem hard to come by for some reason this Fall, but I did get a bag of 45 mixed bulbs to keep my tradition alive. (I do plan on going out and digging up some of my existing bulbs to give them more room to grow, just haven't done it yet!) Happily, I chanced upon a great deal on pansies at Lowes, where they seem to be getting rid of their end of season floral inventory. Great deals on mums and pansies! The hardest part is using restraint not to buy up all the flowers! I've purchased a trunk load of pansies for less than $5, and have popped them into pots, porch boxes and my front borders.Don't make the mistake of calling anyone a pansy unless your intention is to refer to their strength, resilience and natural beauty! These perky flowers withstand freezing temperatures and will continue to bloom until Thanksgiving, and then survive the harsh Winter and resume growth in Spring. A win win flower that makes me grin!

potted pansies and pumpkins

Yellow pansy

Orange Pumpkin and Yellow pansies

Pansy trio

J o' lantern

Jumping out o pumpkin

J jumped out of our porch pumpkin yesterday.

Pumpkin snow

This morning we woke to our first dusting of snow.

Monday, October 27, 2008

October's Waning

October 2008 is drawing to a close. Leaves in our region are off the trees and have already been raked into piles or bags or left for the winds to distribute. We took R back to New Paltz yesterday and felt like time travellers as we experienced Autumn's dazzling peak colors the further south we dipped. Leaf-peeking traffic on the mountain ground to a halt when a tour bus filled with red Hatters ground out on a tight hairpin turn. Troopers stopped traffic to give a monster tow truck room to winch to bus free, to the applause of many. We had front row seats to the benign mini-drama since we were first in line to be stopped in the line of traffic headed back over the mountain.

Fleeting Foliage

View of the Catskills

Red hat ladies waiting for bus to be towed out of hairp[n turn near New Paltz

Stalled in traffic tie-up

Fall is in full swing at the Town Hall Theater in Bainbridge, NY. On Saturday night, thoroughly enjoyed Cabin Fever, a Bluegrass band from the Adirondack region, a great group with good chemistry and sterling talent.

Town Hall Theater, Bainbridge, NY

Cabin Fever Band

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Autumn Ritual

R came home from college this weekend to grab a few essentials for school and Halloween (She'll dress up as Clue's Miss Peacock) We spent a rainy afternoon carving a few of our pumpkins while vegetable beef soup simmered on the wood stove.

R carving Pumpkin

Pumpkin time


I finally notched a few things off my never ending to-do list- turned in all my GreenPrints' assignments and finally tinted the biggest ink drawing I've ever done, now I just have to deliver it. It's almost time to purchase new Dr. Martin's watercolor dyes! I set my makeshift studio up at the dining table.

makeshift studio

Dr. Martins ph watercolor dyes

ready to work

My friend M is an inspiration to whoever she's around. She's a talented artist, quilter, cook, and is a genuine good hearted, and kind person. Her zeal for living is contagious and I like being around her. She invited a few of us who couldn't make it to her one-night, one woman art show to a preview. Lucky us! We also had lunch afterwards and I enjoyed meeting her sister from Florida

M's Show

M's Show

The quilt I made two years ago for Mom is finally hanging on the wall of her living room. It dominates the whole room, but I think Mom enjoys looking at it with fond memories of a very full and busy life. She sent me a keepsake letter, thanking me profusely for it and the love that went into making it.It 's new each time she looks at it. I wasn't sure if some memories would be too painful. (My two oldest brothers have died tragic, untimely deaths. In fact 39 years ago tonight, our happy family life was shattered by the news of one of my brother's death. Twenty years and two weeks later, another one of my brothers also took his life. Time eases the pain, but their memory remains an integral part of who we are.) I think our family has chosen over the years to celebrate life instead of wailing over what we no longer have. It's the only way to cope!

Memory quilt installed finally!

Happy couple

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Fall's Fullness

I've noticed lethargic bees and bumblebees clinging to remaining flower blossoms in the garden, unwilling or unable to give up Summer's bounty.I, too, cling to traces of the past season.I pick tiny bouquets of black-eyed Susans for the table. Tiny, green tomatoes look hopeful on the old vines, but I don't bother to pluck them now.  Our yard is a lush wall-to-wall golden carpet of maple leaves. No quiet walks now! Valley fogs cloak each morning and have protected us from severe frost but Autumn's chill is settling and we feel it in our bones. Brrr! We have to dress warmly while waiting for the bus to emerge out of the mist. We wear sweaters and shiver, prolonging the season, procrastinating the search for Winter coats.Woodsmoke scents the air; apple logs smell best. Fall. It's richness fades too quickly to somber bare-boned skeleton trees.  Breathe it in before it's just another memory!


Monday, October 6, 2008

Quilts in Gilbertsville,NY


The Major's Inn Quilt show featured over 250 quilts on display in a gorgeous former tourists' home this past weekend in Gilbertsville, NY. My friend, M, and I enjoyed seeing all the quilts on display last Friday and we also lunched in one of the rooms along with a roomful of appreciative women and a few patient husbands tagging along. I put in the quilt I made for my Mom's 90th birthday. Now that I have it back, my Dad and I have to figure how to display it on their living room wall instead of tucking it back in the bedroom closet. "Childhood Joys" featuring a dozen drawings of my 3 children when they were younger was the other quilt I entered. Those drawings were in my 1995 Farmhouse greetings calendar. The quilt is # 16 in a series of 20 I'm working on that feature my calendar art.





This was M's favorite quilt based on a tumbling blocks pattern.
I liked these patchwork curtains! The sun shining through them resembled stained glass.
"Childhood Joys" features drawings of my children for my 1995 calendar.
 An Autumn afternoon in Afton, NY!

J holding Jazz.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


October already! I've been remiss posting lately so will try to post more this month even if only to post some seasonal photos etc.

I just started an etsy shop (I'm farmhouseartist and my shop name is Farmhouse Greetings- I used to have a nice website my oldest son made for me under the same name, but I let the domain expire and some strange place bought my name and if I want it back, would have to pay nearly two thousand dollars! So, little by little, I'm getting my business name out there in a roundabout way!) So far, I've listed a tote bag and my new calendar.

My daughter sure enjoys college life, and her dizzying social life makes us all feel like turtles in comparison. Last week she sliced off the tip of her thumb while working on an art project and called us from the emergency room. Luckily, a good friend went with her, and she survived the mishap and will have a great story to relate to her kids someday when they point out her scars and ask for the story behind each one. She was home for a few days this weekend, and it amazes me how she can be writing an English paper, texting friends, listening to music, snacking and more all at the same time. I admire her youthful energy but would not want to be that young again, no thank you!

I know, I used to quiz my Dad all the time on his various scars.. A car fell on him that left a nick in his knee, and his upper lip was sliced open by a potato masher mishap, perhaps one of the reasons he was nicknamed Al (Capone, aka Scarface) by his big band of brothers? Dad was the middle child (#6) in a family of eleven children- two girls and a baseball team of boys (9). It was hard enough matching my uncles to their names, but to compound matters, they all had one or two nicknames, too. Francis, the oldest was Fran, Raymond was Sport, Clarice, who assumed the role of the family matriarch, never had a nickname to my knowledge, Robert was Bob or Hub, because he was a Gene Autry wannabe, Edward,or Ed, was Moose, my dad, Lawrence, Larry, became Al,(I'd always do a little double take at reunions looking around when I heard people call "Hey, Uncle Al!" and realize they were calling for my dad), Howard was Jake, Ralph was Marsh, Carlton was Cart or Abe after Honest Abe, Manville was Pee Wee and was known affectionately as such his whole life even though he towered over my Dad, and Edna Ruth was Ruth but always called John or Johnny by all her brothers and Aunt John by the rest of us.My Dad and Aunt John are currently the only ones living out of that great batch of Cooks.

The sugar maple leaves cast a golden glow around our home and are carpeting the ground.We have yet to have a frost, but it's cool enough to keep a fire in the wood stove. Enjoy Autumn!


R enjoying falling leaves in her newly purchased hat.

wood duck tote

Farmhouse Greetings 2009 Calendar

This is the wood duck tote I listed on etsy, followed by my new calendar.

Earlier this week I dropped off two of my quilts for the Major's Inn Quilt Show in Gilbertsville this weekend. It's a fantastic building, like a big German castle. I took the picture quilt I made for my mom's 90th birthday, and "Childhood Joys" my 16th calendar quilt in a series of 20 that I'm working on.




Enjoyed a good bluegrass show by Dyer Switch at the Bainbridrge Town Hall Opry last Saturday night.