Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas, 2011 & Happy 2012!!

This is the card I designed to send out to friends and family this year... (When folded, Baby Jesus is on the front, and the calendar is on the back)Have a blessed Christmas and a great 2012!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Home for the Holidays at Roberson Museum, Binghamton, NY

Another annual Christmas tradition I've enjoyed for over fifty years is attending the Roberson Museum and Science center's Holiday display housed in one of Binghamton;s premier mansions on Front Street. It started out as a live display of evergreen trees, decorated from countries around the world.My parents would often stop by the museum after church, so we could check out the trees, which scented the whole room with their invigorating, outdoor odor.

Some years the museum's displays were static and stale, but this year's display is truly wonderful and well worth going! There are many parts to the museum featuring many different venues.. the international trees (now artificial) are but a small part of it. This year, the expanded train exhibit is a focal point, as well as a truly exceptional civil war display, which helps to show how the war pervaded everyday life. Another display pays tribute to Edwin Link's influence both locally and internationally,(which I enjoyed because both Link and my Dad were in the Army Air Corps and Dad taught students at North High how to fly in a Link flight simulator). Of course,the lavishly decorated mansion is over-the-top, beautiful and it's always a joy to see some familiar, favorite paintings and some new (to me) posters as well!

These photos only hint of the nice experience waiting for you, if you live close enough to visit!

The railroad display is better than ever and remains a work in progress!

There's a life-sized display of an flight instructor using the simulator's desk to follow a student's flight. Wish I could ask Dad questions about it!

A Civil war campsite set up...

The Civil War exhibit is enlightening and thoughtful

This shows a portion of the International Trees' exhibit...

I like this old poster...

Love this elegant staircase!

An old friend!

A room with a view!

Family fun!

Self portrait at Roberson Mansion 2011

Dear, would you pass the corn, please?

Christmas traditions, Stollen from my Dad

One of our family's Christmas traditions is making stollen, a Christmas bread, loaded with currants, raisins, lemon and orange zest, almond flavoring, a spot of rum and citron (dried, chopped citrus rinds) as well as yeast, butter, sugar and flour. My Dad made it for years, and we always appreciated being on the receiving end. Well, since he died earlier this Autumn, one of the best ways we can honor him is to carry on with his annual tradition. Both my daughter and I are trying to honor the season and our beloved Dad/Grandpa by making his Stollen recipe.

Oh, my! Now I fully appreciate the love and effort that went into making stollen! (I've made two fairly successful batches, yielding 6 loaves so far, and four have been eaten already!) How I wish I could call Dad up with all my questions, like, "When do you add the quarter cup rum, Dad?"His hand-scrawled recipe doesn't mention exactly when, so I just soak the raisins, currents and citron in it before adding them to the dough. " How do you form the loaves? "I have been folding over the flattened loaf to make his signature, lopsided loaf...

Dad's Stollen recipe

I hope you can decipher his legendary script! I make a butter icing and glaze the loaves with it, and decorate the top with sliced almonds and/or candied cherries. (Dad often used both red and green ones). Good luck!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Tip Toad Through the Tulips...

Lately, my motto seems to be, "Plant when the weather allows!" Imagine my surprise last week when I unearthed a lumpish toad when digging yet another row, preparing to plant more sale tulips! Mr. Toad seemed a little perturbed being aroused from his sluggish slumber. Perhaps he was dreaming of flashy motorcars when my shovel rudely disrupted him. After I planted my treasures, I tried covering him back up with a loose layer of dirt, when I received my second surprise. Toads chirp! At least this particular one did! Luckily I didn't understand his language, but it sounded like a succession of vile curses. I gently removed the dirt, and left him alone to recover at his own pace.




In other news, I'm delighted to announce my association with Art Farm on Prentice Road, just off of Kattelville Road, between Chenango Bridge and Chenango Forks, NY. (I dropped off some Farmhouse Greetings cards and calendars there for the holiday season). It looks to be a promising and happening art and produce place.The owner/artist is the grandson of a wonderful lady I worked with when I was a summer school crafts counselor in Chenango Bridge, dare I say 30 to 40 years ago? I've watched as he went to art school and announced his dreams of converting his grandparents' spacious barn into an art gallery and studio space. I hope to mention Art Farm often as it grows in the community and enriches us with fine produce and creative offerings!



Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Burying Treasure

It's always very satisfying to spend time in Autumn planting bulbs for Spring blooms. The benefits are many: it's great to be outside, digging in the dirt, anticipating the welcome blooms after a long, bitter Winter. It's a way to ease my constant sense of grief after the deaths of my beloved parents and friends. The natural cycle of life is so well represented by bulbs- the seemingly lifeless bulbs hold the promise of beauty and joy to come. Knowing that they await, out-of-sight and unseen, for the right conditions to grow, brings a quiet comfort. Their glorious blooms signal the end of Winter, and the beginning of yet another growing season. They wither and return to the earth, but given the right conditions, return yet again the next season. All nature mimics this cycle- the returning leaves, seeds of all kinds, shapes and varieties. How reassuring!




Usually, I buy bulbs on sale (found a large variety of sale bulbs at Walmart last week) and plant them randomly, wherever I think I haven't planted some in previous years. This year, I've borrowed a technique from my friend, Becky,(check out her great blog and tried making stone plant markers to remind me what's been planted, where. I painted some flat stones with white, latex, glossy paint, and wrote the bulb names on them with a permanent marker. My cats supervised my every move, and even jumped on my back and shoulders for a better vantage point as I worked in the garden..


Thursday, November 3, 2011

My RAD and I

GEDC3839 by Farmhouse Greetings
GEDC3839, a photo by Farmhouse Greetings on Flickr.

Bridging Time

My Farmhouse Calendar theme for this year pays tribute to covered bridges. My friend, Jan, provided me with shoeboxes full of reference photos she's taken while on her quest to visit as many of these architectural gems as her time and budget allows. It was difficult to choose just a dozen!( Some of the ones portrayed here have been damaged by recent flooding.)
Thank you so much, Jan! I've also reprinted about a dozen different of my past calendars with themes ranging from cats, flowers, children, horses, wildlife animals and barns to our precious water, vintage vehicles, tractors...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


GEDC3928 by Farmhouse Greetings
GEDC3928, a photo by Farmhouse Greetings on Flickr.

Leaves & Lily Lake

GEDC3923 by Farmhouse Greetings
GEDC3923, a photo by Farmhouse Greetings on Flickr.

Took a nature walk around Lily Lake yesterday. The fall colors and textures were breathtaking yet subtle changes were noticeable each step of the way- from sun dappled brilliance to rich, somber tones of russet, dark green and weathered browns.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

An Old Tree's Secrets

Dan has been steadily working over the past two weeks, to clear the downed trees littering our yard, after winds from Hurricane Irene toppled them domino fashion, flattening his car, but miraculously missing our house.



The downed trunks resembled a type of Stonehenge monument. Before they fell, some of these century-plus trees formed the vaulted canopy of a leafy-ceilinged cathedral in the side yard. It was awesome to stand in the center of this sacred yard and stare up into the lacy network, glimpsing intricate mosaic of blue sky beyond layers of sunlit green.
Each Spring, these trees offered us gallons of sweet sap, which we boiled and boiled, sticky, sweet steam rising, into pancake syrup. They shaded our home from Summer's heat. In Autumn these majestic maples modeled stunning, glowing, golden cloaks which I tried to capture with my camera, then they'd fling them off and we'd rake and rake them into enormous piles destined for the compost pile.
In their transition from lofty trees into into firewood, they will warm us during Winter's chill. From beauty, function and partial decline due to natural age, they are transformed into a new energy that will continue to sustain us. Even though portions of the old trees were quite hollow or rotted, their tops were surprisingly dense and solid, yielding many stacks of wood.
They've revealed some of their hidden secrets as Dan continues to saw, roll, split and stack this wood that shaded my Mom at play when she was a youngster in the 1920s. These trees that were part of our daily lives for the past thirty years, also stood guard over my Grandfather, whom I never knew, as he passed beneath them daily to do barn chores from 1915 (when he bought our home) until his death in 1944. (These trees even provided cover for all the visitors to the outhouse, too, before indoor plumbing was installed in the mid 1930s).
Joe and I responded quickly to Dan's whistles of surprise, as another secret of the big trees' was exposed. Earlier this week, he uncovered an abandoned egg, snugly nestled in the rotted, earthy decay of old wood, perhaps an unhatched Screech Owl's egg leftover from their nest many years ago?

Yesterday, deep within the big log he was sawing from an upper section of the maple's trunk, a succession of tiny, dark frogs or toads jumped out, like miniature clowns exiting a trick car. Again, we were summoned to witness this neat revelation, before he scooped them up and deposited them in a similar decaying cavity of another Sugar Maple.
I'm sure that we are not the only ones who will miss the shelter of these maples. They provided homes to legions of insects, songbirds, squirrels, chipmunks, wood ducks and more (once, a woodchuck even claimed a space under the roots of one of them), long before we arrived.
Old trees, thank you for the memories: your beauty, shade,sweet sap, morning song and more. Thanks for the warmth to come. Thanks for your connection to our present world, our future warmth and our past memories. We won't forget you!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Flood 2011

Well, we're in the midst of yet another flood in the Susquehanna and Chenango Rivers' region. Schools, roads and bridges remain closed, and travelling is restricted. I thought the '06 flood was touted as a once-in-five-hundred-year flood, but obviously it's more like an every 5 year occurrence. I guess Mother Nature doesn't keep tabs on zero placement.

I'm learning not to be complacent about anything. Normal, boring days seem like a wonderful daydream .A couple weeks ago Hurricane Irene toppled several trees in our yard, thankfully missing our house (a miracle ) but landing squarely on our cars. My car gained some character wrinkles but Dan's Impala was impaled. We are still recovering from that incident!

Our priorities became very basic. Do we have food and water? Is our house staying relatively dry? Many have been evacuated and displaced from jobs, homes and comfortable routines. We are practicing patience, gratitude and resilience. We know the sun is shining somewhere!

We've had a long, mostly delightful summer. We've had some park picnics, family gatherings, a short jaunt to Maine, and a quick trip to the State Fair! So despite these current conditions, we have many images to remind us that life is good!



This is our neighboring creek that dumped 150 truckloads of rock on our yard five years ago. Thankfully, it's staying in its banks but is undercutting the state highway.


Above, my son enjoying the Footsie-Wootsie at the State Fair.

Impaled Impala :-(

How did this tree miss our house?

Maine men

Playing with my food!

Beach boy!

Wedding at Blue Spruce Manor

Took Dad to church...where he was fondly welcomed...

I'm enjoying being a vendor at the Hamilton Farmer's market!

Breathtaking clouds!

My gang

Grandma D's SIX grands!