Monday, January 24, 2011

Sunday morning dawned nice and crispy cold. -18 degrees crispy. But it didn't stop these two from their normal eager morning ritual, which now includes pre-tasting the alfalfa hay as I carry it out of the tack room. boo & monet Even after I scatter the flake around the snow out by the fence, Boo still looks at me as if wondering if I have any other hidden treats for him. Oh Boo, I just want to bury my face in your soft, fuzzy neck! boo! But rather than torture him so early on a frigid cold morning, I headed back into the warm house and started a batch of cheddar-potato-soup in my recently acquired and already much-loved cast-iron Dutch oven. Dutch oven! The original recipe came from The Farm Chicks website, but I no longer see the Pantry heading where I originally found it. At any rate, I dollied it up a bit by adding onion, garlic, and cooked bacon to the mix - wowza, this batch was amazing! Part of the credit also has to go to the Otter Creek Summer Aged Cheddar Cheese. This might just be the best cheese, and cheesy soup, I have ever tasted! After I died and went to heaven and came back to earth again, it was time to head into St. Paul to the Science Museum of Minnesota. Sadly my little point & shoot does not take good flash pictures indoors, so I left it home. You'll just have to picture two of the only adults there without small children, wandering the exhibits having a blast. One of our favorite exhibits was the Experiment Gallery, which included hands-on learning with wave tanks, convection currents, and even a tornado display. We did also attend one Omni Theater film, Tropical Rainforest, with approximately five million children under the age of five. It wasn't nearly as amazing as the Hubble film we viewed at the Denver Museum of Science and Nature on our recent trip to CO (which is also showing at the St. Paul museum). But it did give us a chance to rest our feet for a bit. We couldn't pass up the gift shop, either, where in another fit of unexpected shopping bliss I procured these delicate earrings by Trish Waldron of Organix. pink w/ pearls! Oh my! My quest for perfect pink and pearl earrings is over! Just as our quest for the perfect butter dish. Quite a weekend, no? But I was in for one more surprise - after purchasing them, I flipped the tag over and was startled to read this on the back: message to me How could they know we are currently struggling with transition? Where to purchase a farm, what careers to pursue? And who are they, anyway? Earring angels? It was eerie. I've been wearing them ever since. Blessings!
This weekend was chock-full of (mostly) wonderful things (not including 4.5 hours running errands, and several hours preparing tax return documents). Here are some of the highlights. This new shelf & bins, from Home Depot - for seed-starting! (Still need to add my lights, and pot up some 38 varieties of veggies, herbs & flowers which will go into my four Square Foot Gardens which are currently buried by 3' of snow). More on this project in the days to come! seed-starting system! A stop in Chaska at The Vintage Cottage, which is open only 3 days/month. This cute little silver butter dish was first in our list. It even has a removable glass liner. Sigh. We have been shopping for the perfect butter dish for eons. Our search has now officially ended. butter! I am always on the look-out for items to put into the vintage tin can camper travel trailer that I am also on the lookout for. Like this little cutie, a 1966 Coachman Travel Trailer I spotted at the 2010 Junk Bonanza by Claire of The Hog Shed. If I had had $6600 and if Papa's head didn't graze the ceiling, it would be in my backyard as I write. canned ham! I already have my color theme picked out (as the trailer indicates) - red, white and black. And my collection of camper items is growing! vintage linens! I picked up a tablecloth and 7 place mats, all in a variety of red on white patterns. I love LOVE the chickens on this one! I can't wait to get some chickens this spring! chickens! White glass mixing bowls, in two sizes! The little one even has a pour spout! Egads! glass mixing bowls! I had to leave the store before I also picked up a set of canisters with the Fat Chef on them (also in red, white and black), a Detecto kitchen scale, a heavy metal cow watering bowl, an old wagon, and about a bazillion other things I'd like to have taken home with me. Unfortunately, my allowance is not nearly as great as my desire for cute kitchen stuff. But just down the block, at Linda's Cellar, I managed to find some white and red enamelware to go with my growing collection (I did not yet have this size mixing bowl, nor did I have a double boiler, nor did I have any saucepan lids... so I felt justified). Besides, the total for all of this was less than $10! enamelware! Help! I can't stop using exclamation points! OK, that about wraps it up for Saturday. Much too much shopping, albeit I got some rather spiffy stuff. The rest of the night was spent doing taxes (pooie). More good stuff coming from Sunday's adventures! Stay tuned! Maybe I'll even get my exclamations under control! !!!!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

snowshoes Yesterday I embraced the cold (-5 with wind chills!) and took my Carhartts and snowshoes to Gale Woods Farm which is only 10 minutes away from my house. I hiked past some of the residents, like this Belted Galloway (which I prefer to think of as an Oreo Cookie cow).
   Oreo cookie Please excuse the tail. He was, um, multi-tasking as he walked. I don't even know what kind of cow this is. That long hair, and so curly!
   mystery cow Any cow experts out there? The chickens and sheep were, sadly, all in the barn, which is off limits except to tour groups and limited hours on the weekends. I was not feeling my Wheeties yesterday. Perhaps because my lunch consisted entirely of a piece of Bob's Red Mill GF Cornbread.
   cornbread noms With honey and real butter. Nom! Every time I hiked up a hill, my glutes screamed at me: "You could be sitting at home on the couch in the semi-warm house sipping hot chocolate and eating cornbread!" I don't know when they learned to speak English, but it would be a whole lot quieter in my head if they spoke French.
   Gale Woods Farm trails The scenery, despite the bitter cold and my screaming glutes, was phenomenal.
   Gale Woods Farm I love the juxtaposition of farm and woods. Everything I personally love, all wrapped up in one park.
   Gale Woods Farm Towards the end of my hike I was very, very tired. Even the screaming of the glutes was fading away into a quiet whimper.
   hay bales It's always amazing to me how quiet it can be on a winter day once the glutes quiet down. A woodpecker hammers on a tree nearby, answered only by a dog half a mile away. No other sounds of life. So unlike high summer. And, like the quiet of winter, my creative energy continues to lay dormant, waiting for the stirrings of spring and the return of longer, warmer days to fuel the fire. All might seem dead and cold right now. But rebirth is just around the corner.

Blessings -

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

rosemary Some time last fall I picked up this little pot of Rosemary at one of the farmer's markets we try to frequent during the warmer seasons. It has been growing quite happily on my kitchen windowsill despite being next to some very cold windows. winter blooms It is even, quite to my surprise, flowering. I didn't even know rosemary had flowers. Such delicate signs of new life, in the midst of the coldest part of the winter, bring me quiet delight. Blessings -

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sometimes my thoughts come in a whirlwind, and I have ideas overflowing for posts. I'll start three or four in one session. Then, there can be long stretches of time where nothing much comes to mind. In honor of this creative process, I wish to borrow this post title from my sweet friend at Red Otter. Happy Wednesday -

Friday, January 7, 2011

After a week of touring from Denver, CO to Lander, WY to Grand Junction, CO and back to Denver, a whirlwind week of blizzards, bad roads, sub-zero wind chills, wedding & New Year's festivities, and lots of visiting with friends here and there and everywhere, we were happy to be safely on the ground in Minneapolis again Wed. evening. It's now Sat. night, and I haven't posted a thing since Dec. 31st. Sorry about the long delay (for the two of you that might have noticed). I'm an introvert, which means I expend energy quickly in social situations and recover slowly, requiring solitude for full recuperation. And I haven't had much of that in the last eight days. But we're home now, and I was oh-so-happy to walk in the front door and be greeted by our cat Mojo. The girls were snuggled like bugs in a rug in their bed, but with some prompting, came out to see what the ruckus was about. I didn't get any pics of that, I was too exhausted. I finally got my camera's flash card into the computer today to see if I managed to capture any of the splendor of our trip across the Rockies. Here are a few of my favorites. Don't look too closely - we never stopped to take these pics, they were all taken while driving, so they are a bit blurry around the edges. Here was the blizzard we drove through on the way from Cheyenne to Lander, WY.

white out! And here was my date for the wedding. I know, sympathies welcome. Just kidding babe. I luv ya. papa bear The wedding chapel. Awwww... wedding chapel The snowflake girl and ring bearer. Awwww... snowflake girl The lovely wedding couple (Stephanie & Hunter). Awww... steph & hunter The hills outside of Lander, WY. Clouds coming over (forming from?) the mountains. I could have built a house here. The view was pure bliss. As we headed south from I80 on CO 789 towards Grand Junction, just south of the town of Craig I began spotting elk. Free-ranging, loose, not-in-a-fence elk. Unfortunately my camera, and skills, were not of the caliber to shoot an elk in the distance while traveling 65mph. You'll just have to imagine them folks. First one, a big bull, on a riverbank, then a second, smaller bull near the same river, further down. And then, I began seeing them everywhere in the hills. Groups of cows (females), some scrabbling up nearly vertical hillsides. And mule deer. I wish I had a picture of the 3 mule deer bucks who were lying down so all you could see above the deep snow were their faces & horns.

photo from here.

Sunday, as we drove out of Grand Junction, we admired a heavy frost coating all the trees and bushes white. A side trip off of I70 down to Carbondale so Papa Bear could check out the Solar Energy Institute yielded a gorgeous valley flanked by mountains. It's north-south layout gave it nice afternoon sunshine. Its proximity to Snowmass gave me visions of skiers in need if nice alpaca-wear. carbondale, co Coming over the Rockies is unbelievable. We finally had good roads, glimpses of sunshine, and breath-taking vistas around every bend. The closer we came to Denver, the more big-name ski hills we passed by. I regret we did not have the time or funds to ski on this trip. Doesn't that wide open snowfield just beg for a big 'ol snow angel? I suppose that might invoke an avalanche, and it would be ugly if an angel smothered in a snowbank. We'll just imagine one there instead. It was, undoubtedly, one of the if not the most scenic drive I've ever been on. I regret to inform you I have no pics of the city of Denver, or of any of the other friends we visited. I was too busy enjoying myself to remember to take out the camera. Just envision happy people enjoying good food and good company. That about sums it up. I am now going to go hibernate under my mountain of blankets, put a pillow over my head, and enjoy some solitude. Cheers -

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