Summertime and the living is easy

20140805-143208-52328702.jpgThat line from the old song is very appropriate for the summer we have been having on our old farm in Upstate New York.

The weather has been amazing, the flower gardens have been resplendent, and the farms seem to be thriving.

Of course there is always much work to be done, both inside and out, but even with the normal day-to-day chores of living that must be attended to and the inevitable difficulties and problems life poses on a daily basis, we have managed to enjoy the past couple of months as if we were partially on vacation and that has been magical.

This spring and summer I have been enjoying two new love affairs … hold on now, it isn’t what it sounds like.

20140805-143514-52514273.jpgThe first love affair is with designing and knitting lace shawls. I have created four designs over the summer, and am releasing the first pattern this week, “Rise Up Singing” (featured in today’s photos) is already available in both my Etsy and Ravelry stores for instant download.

I wrote text directions as well as charted diagrams; both styles are included in the one download so you can knit it either way. I specifically designed this piece to be easy and quick to knit, even if you use the text rather than charted directions.

I will start working right away on patterns for,the other three shawls and will share photos of them as I make the patterns available.

There is something about knitting and blocking a lace shawl that is a special kind of magic, and I hope with my patterns I will be able to help many others learn and experience that magic.

Speaking of magic, last summer we visited a nearby farm where a lady raises Daylilies. Until I moved to Upstate New York I had never heard of Daylilies. Perhaps they are grown in California, but if so I never heard them mentioned. Here they are grown and treasured by everyone it seems.

There is another daylily farm somewhat near our place that everyone refers to reverently as “the daylily place”. Oh my … it is the most magical, enchanting garden I have ever seen in my life. From the road you would never suspect that such a veritable Garden of Eden thrives just beyond the drive. Then, you walk in and … well, you just feel like fainting or something because of the sheer aesthetic magnificence you are suddenly surrounded by.

As it turns out there are something like 1,000 or 5,000 varieties of Daylilies (I can’t remember exactly because I was too delirious from beauty overload when they told us) and the couple who created the garden seem to have each variety in their collection along with myriad other luscious plants mixed amongst them. There are pathways to stroll along and benches placed here and there creating a welcoming atmosphere for visitors.

They even have a spectacular oversized cactus and succulent garden that surpasses any such garden I ever saw in Southern California. How, I ask you, did they manage that?

I was actually so overwhelmed by all of the floral eye candy that I didn’t shoot much photography while we were visiting, and the shots I did manage to click off didn’t even approach doing justice to what I had witnessed.

That was two or three years ago. Last summer we visited the other lady I mentioned above during a Garden Path Tour and she was selling some of her varieties at economical prices, so we bought nine varieties and planted our own little daylily garden right next to our pergola.

After nearly one year of waiting, they started blooming in early July and are still producing a few more flowers. Starting on the morning of the first blossom, I began each day visiting with “the ladies” as I came to think of my dear Daylilies and checking out their latest blossoms.

If you are unfamiliar with this species of flower, as the name infers, the blossoms last only one day. But of course each plant may have many blossoms, so as some fade away one morning, others are just opening up. Some of my plants have just bloomed profusely for about three weeks. They bloom in July and then you wait another eleven months before you get to see them again.

A20140805-145848-53928045.jpgs I photographed them, I did what I love to do … zoomed right inside the flower as close as I could. And, I made a wonderful discovery about this special flower. The way they are constructed at the base allows light to come right in and light everything up inside. I shot some of the most beautiful floral photographs ever, and this one actually brought tears to my eyes because it was so extraordinary.

Another thing I about them is that some varieties have petals lined with incredible ruffles.

Well, the long and the short of it is that I fell in love with these flowers this summer, in my own little garden with only about nine varieties.

By the way, if you have not visited my son’s Etsy store lately, he has some very awesome neighborhood typography maps now as well as two,or three styles of vintage eye charts. That’s Flying Junction at Etsy or visit his company website.

There are so many more things I could write about from this sweet summer we are having, but now life is calling me again and I have to end off. It was quite nice visiting with you a bit, and I hope to see you here again very soon.


Should I be having this much fun with yarn?

20140414-131636.jpgToday it is close to 80 degrees with hazy blue skies and gusty winds; tomorrow it will go below freezing and we will have snow.

This should be interesting.

It is amazing to see how quickly things start growing with the least provocation … show them one warmish day, sprinkle on a bit of rain and lovely green sprouts start peeking out all over the lawn.

They are not likely to be discouraged by tomorrow’s snowfall, spring is here to stay.

20140414-132749.jpgThis weekend I cast off my new lace shawl and wet blocked it. Now I am adding a bit of embellishment, and will be able to show the finished product in a couple of days.

Very happy with this one, very happy indeed.


Howling wind, flying fingers

20140410-164623.jpgThis is one of those spring transition days, bringing with it the inevitable blustery winds Winnie The Pooh made famous. For the first time in more than six months it is 70 degrees outside … ah, the pleasures of 72 degree air.

Not that I was unhappy with our winter; no, far from that, The winter we are finally emerging from was my favorite winter of my life, as far as the weather goes. It was horribly cold, but I was able to spend much of the time snug at home knitting, baking, studying, reflecting, enjoying family, organizing my studio, prepping for paintings, working on some paintings, and generally staying warm.

But, no matter how much I like winter cold and snow, I do so look forward to the first day of going outside and feeling the natural warmth of the sun on my skin, my back and shoulders.

Today was that day.

72 degree air.

I have this pile of knitting in my lap, a knew lace shawl I have designed and am close to finishing. It will be my special shawl for chilly spring days and cool summer evenings. I will make a pattern available, hopefully before too long.

I hope you are enjoying your spring day.


Joy to the world, yes even in March

cowlThank you for awaiting my return … I needed some time off because I was experiencing a deep and lingering sadness over the passing of my father.

Recently I watched BBC’s Larkrise to Candleford television series, and there is a line one character says in speaking of his worries over someone’s health, and he recalls the passing of his own mother. He says something along the lines of, “I know what it is like to have the sunshine go out of life,” … something like that.

I found that to be just what I was feeling about my father. He was a major part of my life, always had been.  His mission in life was very important to me, one I embraced from an early age. We did many, many things together over the span of quite a few years.  We shared so many dreams of things to do in the future — and we tended to share those dreams every day as we spoke on the phone, shared emails, and considered the future — too much for it all to vanish without a great deal of sorrow and a feeling as if the sunshine had gone out.

barn3Of course, I do know he is not the only source of sunshine in my life and I know logically, analytically I cannot allow sorrow to rule the day or become what my life is about. That would not be right, and I know it … like I said, logically.

But, sorrow is sorrow. It isn’t something you can just will yourself to no longer feel.

What I was able to do, however, was to just tell myself one day that it was time to create joy again, to feel joy and to make life. My family and friends are depending on me to shine a light toward joy, to continue to be, I suppose, a source of sunshine just as my father was and to shine brightly because people need that in their lives.  We all need that from each other, don’t we.

So, I am back to shining. I allow myself to grieve when I feel the need, but I push on through and get back to experiencing the joy of life, the joy of creating, all the smiles that go along with that.

joySpeaking of joy, we had a completely beautiful winter, with snow falls that were more pristine than I recall them being other years. There is something extra special about a heavy snow that falls windless, leaving every limb and needle of trees and shrubs bowing down under the load of a perfect clump of snow. This year’s snowfall more often than not did just that, and the snow was deep and smooth and all together lovely.

It is always pleasant and a little bit thrilling to get close to the return of spring, of sunshine and warmth, youthful yellow-green sprouting of leaves, the first little flowers coming up close to the ground. I do love that thrill, but I also would not mind having one more good snow storm this month as a final farewell to this year’s perfect winter.

Snow, do you hear me? I am calling.

Sidebar: I wrote this post yesterday at about 3:30 in the morning. It ended up snowing all day long. There wasn’t any real accumulation, but still. It snowed. All day long. Hmm, I suppose the snow did hear me calling. Thank you, snow. :)

Meanwhile, what have I been up to other than what I have described above?

I have continued on with the writing of my novel, and am finding the process of creating a novel to be one that is full of surprises and amazing experiences. First of all, there is the planning and I completely loved the planning stage.

snowI had to work out how the story was going to end, and from there work my way backward through it to figure out the plot line. At times I went back to the start, and moved forward then I went again to the end and worked my way back some more. Along the way, I inevitably worked out more of the details of the characters and got to know them better.

I love this process because you start out with an idea, a very rough concept that is sort of a story in a bubble in your mind (I say “you” and “your” — but it is “I” and “my”).  I assume other writers have the same thing that goes on with them, it feels as if it would be this way naturally not just for me.

Anyway, in the beginning there is the rough idea and in a way it is the whole story in one fell swoop, in a bubble in my mind. There are not, at that point, details and though I can feel the story there, and it feels complete in that bubble, the truth is it is germinating or something. I think that is the way of it, it is like a living thing that is complete but hasn’t fully developed yet — just like a chick in an egg or a human baby right after conception. The body hasn’t grown, the limbs have not fully emerged, the personality has not revealed itself, and the details of the life that will be lived are not filled in — yet, the life is there as a whole thing in a bubble.

eriecanalAs I go along, working on the plan and characters, one of the characters will reveal herself or himself to me and I will think, “Oh, I get it … that’s why you are that way. I see now,” and things about the story or the characters unfold to me. It isn’t like I sit there and have to think hard to make things up, I just set my mind in the direction of my story or one of the characters and the details sort of materialize into existence.

I know I am creating it, and I am responsible for the direction of the story, the intent, etc. but it isn’t anything I am having to force or push this way or that. I just open myself up to it and it comes out and the things that open up to me this way about the story or the characters tends to be the really good stuff, like the gold that is found in a rich vein in a mountain.

Some of the process is work, some of it is play, and I love every bit of it. My only regret is that I cannot devote more hours in a day to the creating of my story.

neighborsConcurrent with writing the story, I am developing knitting patterns to go along with it, because the main characters are involved together in a knitting group and there are aspects of their relationship to each other as friends who knit that are key to the story. There will be at least one pattern per character that I will release so that people can, if they choose, knit similar items and perhaps feel an extra connection with the characters because of being able to share in their reality in this way. I think this is an interesting opportunity for me as a writer, and for my knitting readers.

So far, I have designed a pair of leg warmers (I have to knit the second one still), a cowl (in the photo at the top of this post), a hat, and a neck warmer. The cowl, hat, and neck warmer are a coordinated set that have been a complete pleasure to knit using the Fisherman’s Rib stitch pattern — something I think you will all love very much.

My four year old grand daughter got hold of my cowl one day and put it on and lo, and behold if it didn’t look like a wonderful little cape on her. It fit her perfectly, hugged her shoulders and draped just right.  I plan on putting it out there as a versatile piece that could be a cozy little self-wrapping cape for a little girl or a cowl for a lady.  My daughter fell in love with it both when she saw me model it and when she saw her little one wearing it and asked that I knit them a matching set to wear together next winter.

The patterns from the story will be released about the same time as the book, which I aim to have ready and published electronically for Kindle and other eBook readers by early October of this year. Some of the patterns will be free, some will be paid and all will have a special connection to the story line and the characters involved in the story.

riverI am up early this morning; it is just now only 4:45 a.m., so I have been up quite some time. I’m going to end off here and wish you a fine day.

Thank you for reading.

I will make every attempt to write more regularly once again, and to continue to add my bit to the shining of the sun in life each and every day.

A bit more of good news and joy: my mother will come to visit with us for the entire month of April.  It will be so good to see her again, and to see her here.  My son will also arrive in April, so we will have a full house and plenty of opportunities to create and share joy.

Joy to you, and joy to the world.

~ firefly

Nine degrees

It is nine degrees outside, snowing hard and a bit windy; this is the kind of day I looked forward to when I made the decision to move to Upstate New York from Los Angeles nearly seven years ago.

Our house has many, many windows so we are able to see the scenery on most sides of the house, and much of it. Our dinning room has windows all along the north-facing wall, with a view of the barn, the yard, the field, and the woods out beyond. A couple of years ago we moved a vintage sofa from our sitting area (off the living room) into the dinning room. I love our dinning room, because of the furnishings and the windows and also because of the view we have when we are in it.

I remember the first Christmas I lived here, my son and daughter were here with us as well as my parents. A day or two after Christmas I made a bunch of southern biscuits (my grandmother’s recipe, tweaked a wee bit by me). We all sat around the dinning room table with biscuits, butter, and all kinds of homemade jams. It was snowing, and we had that view of the barn, and really just so much of our place here. That was a great morning and left a vivid picture of happiness spent with the people I treasure most in life in a place I have come to think of as heaven.

This room has changed quite a bit over the past several years. Back then we had the big dinning room table, a side table, a game table and some chairs and I think that was about it. We had not hung any photographs or artwork on the walls, the windows were hung with drapes that I can’t even recall at this moment … strange. The view was much the same as now, but the inside was a bare canvas ready to be imprinted with our lives.

The big old dinning room table that was in here before was recently replaced with a beautiful table, chairs, and serving cart my parents made together when they were on vacation years ago. The table top and chair seats are natural wood finished with layers and layers of verathane. The table legs, chair legs and backs are painted white, as are the legs of the serving cart. The legs of the table are heavy, curved and detailed as are the legs and cross bars of the chairs. The side table that was here when I moved in is still there, and now I know what I didn’t then: that is a piece my husband’s father refinished many years ago. The legs are sturdy and rather voluptuously curved. There is a large sail boat model of my husband’s on the side table, representing the love of water and boats he shared with his father. There is a hutch now, passed along to us by his mother when she passed away a few years back. Inside, the hutch is a bit crowded with Franciscan Ware in the Desert Rose pattern — a gift from his father to his mother their first Christmas after they were married right after World War II. On the shelf above that, the china given to my parents when they were married back in the early 50′s and on the top shelf the crystal they were given at the same time.

Under the windows on the north side of the room are two long, somewhat crudely made benches made from thick floor boards reclaimed by my husband’s father from the G.E. plant he worked at in Buffalo. The benches were really made for outdoor use over at our cottage, but I thought it was time to bring them indoors with a fresh coat of paint and to keep them protected from the elements. The old nicks and scuffs from years of use still show so they still look worn, but I have them painted with a couple of coats of a just-off-white paint (horseradish was the color name). They fit perfectly under the windows as if they were made specifically for the purpose they now serve. The benches are reminiscent of the kitchen table at my mother’s family farm house in North Carolina. There were thirteen children in their family, so they needed a huge table to hold everyone. The table was situated in the kitchen and they had picnic style benches along it for everyone to sit on rather than chairs. I have always wanted to replicate that, and though we have chairs at our table, the benches are there under the windows, reminding me a place and time I have fond memories of.

The vintage sofa is an original piece of furniture my husband’s parents purchased from a factory in Buffalo back in the 60′s–a piece of furniture he grew up with. I love having a sofa in the dinning room, it brings a warm sense of comfort and welcome to the space and this one does that especially well considering its history.

On the walls we now have a few of my paintings that have been completed in the past few years, some paintings and photographs by local artists, a couple of my son’s subway sign reproductions plus two paintings he did recently, photography we have shot over the course of the past few years, two paintings by my grandmother, and one by my father.

There is something of all of us in this room now, those of us who sat together having biscuits and jam on a snowy December day as we enjoyed the view of the barn on the farm I had just moved to, six years back looking forward at that time to whatever lay ahead. There are things we have all created and collected, been given, and enjoyed all here in a gathering room on an old farm that has stood now for about two hundred years.

It’s funny, I didn’t actually think about the dinning room this way until I started writing this post. We have been creating it as we go along, and over the years it has evolved into the room in the house that, more than any other room, reflects who we are, where we came from, and who we have become as a family.

What a perfect day today — the temperature, the snow, the view, the room and my reflections about it all.

Oh, and there was coffee too.


And now, the day is done. It is dark outside, the temperature is heading back down even lower for the night and snow continues to fall. It is truly a three dog night, as three dogs are sleeping comfortably along the floor at my feet and following the lines of the sofa. This has been a long, satisfying day.

It started for me at 5:00 a.m. when I got up to make some perfect coffee and sat down to work on my novel (I have been working on it faithfully each morning since I started the process a couple of months back). I have written this blog, enjoyed snow, been outside with the dogs, made some homemade oatmeal bread and a hearty soup. The kitchen has been cleaned, a little bit of business has been attended to and I have noticed many things to be grateful for.

I guess I was right. This really is heaven.

Love to you all, from heaven …


And, we’re off …

Before launching into the main subject of today’s blog, I wanted to fill my knitting readers in on where I am at with my hand knit wrap / throw (official title still undetermined, but I’ve listed it on Ravelry in my projects as “firefly wrap“).  I finished knitting the main body of the piece a couple of weeks back and since have been working on the border.  Initially I was going to knit the border in white, but I didn’t like the contrast so I started it over again (after knitting one entire side) in that “Biscuit” color I used to sell.  I like this color combination much better, and I’m glad I started over because I realized I want to miter the corners as I go, rather than knitting four separate border pieces.

I will be finished with it before Christmas, even with the holiday activities that will engulf much of our time over the new few weeks.

Now, for what I most wanted to write about today …

When I was in my twenties, a young mother of two taking care of our home and the children, I was terribly impatient to write stories.

My imagination is one that runs wild, and has from early childhood.  Many things I imagined as a child are as real and tangible in memory as the “real” world shared with others.

One of my vivid imaginings was that of my own personal Leprechaun living in a hole in our backyard.  When I peered in that little hole (about the size of a post hole) I could see warm golden light shining in from a “side” window down in the ground.  The light allowed me to see his shadow as he stood just out of my direct sight, over to the side at the entrance of a little tunnel I imagined there.

For me, he was there as a fact, as real as anything else in the environment.  When I recall him and the warm glow of light in the little hole, the mental image is still quite clear — perhaps even more so than the scenes and objects of real life from that time.

Over the years characters sprang into being, story ideas evolved and brewed but none of them were released into the world as life kept me busy doing other things.  Thus, the characters have gathered up into quite a multitude.  My mind, the land of my imagination, has become quite crowded and busy because I was not writing and letting any of that creative energy out.

A couple of years back a voice started saying to me, “It’s time you start writing your stories.”  I heard the voice, but various aspects of life seemed to halt my cooperation.  The voice, however, continued and has been quite persistent.

About a year and a half ago, my husband gave me a Kindle for my birthday.  Oh, how I fell in love with that device.  I named her Clementine.  Honestly, for me my Kindle was the most wonderful electronic device ever invented, ever possessed.  Mine is not a fancy Kindle, just a Kindle with a keyboard — no Fire involved.

I could read, any time I wanted to, wherever I was.  With three dictionaries loaded on it, I could look up pretty much any word I wanted to from any book I was reading easily and quickly.

I could carry hundreds of books around with me, available to access instantly no matter where in the world I was, what time of day or night.  If I woke in the night, unable to get back to sleep … Clementine was close to hand and I could read until I fell asleep again.

As I traveled several times between New York and Colorado over the past year, usually consumed in grief about my father, Clementine was there to distract me and help me get through those long flights.

Beyond that, Kindle opened up for me a world of possibilities regarding writing and publishing because so many writers are bringing their books directly to the public via Kindle and other eBook publishing outlets.   The world of Kindle also made it possible for me to honor my father by publishing, on Kindle, I The Wind, his book of poetry and his inspirational short story, Timini’s Secret Adventure.

Kindle self-publishing opens the door for me to not only begin writing my many stories in earnest but also to continue publishing works of my father’s even now that he has passed and thus make sure people get to benefit from the writings he left behind, even though he has moved on.  I can do that, I can do it myself regardless of publishers and editors and literary agents.  I can bring the things I write and publish directly to you without having to get approval from someone, somewhere else.

I can do these things, and I can bring them to you the readers who have found me via my blog … I can at least do that much.  And, since I have a few thousand readers, it will be something even if that is as far as it goes.

Encouraged because of Kindle, a few months back I started writing one of my more recent story ideas.  I didn’t get very far because that idea, though it will be plenty of fun whenever I do get around to writing it, had not “cooked” enough in my imagination to materialize correctly in written form just yet.

Then the sadness of the summer events took hold of me, and I did not have the heart to write for quite some time.

Until …

Three weeks ago, I sat down and typed up some thoughts on why I want to write, and why I want to write fiction in particular.  I did this because I realized what was stopping me from getting on with the business of writing fiction was that my mind was too clogged with too many ideas of stories I could write, too many characters running around in that vast universe of “me” from all different time periods and realities, doing different things and carrying on in competition with each other.  I was having a great deal of trouble picking just one and carrying forward with it.

So I sat down and wrote down my thoughts about why I desire to write.  Why do I want to publish, too.

The bottom line is this: I would like to help create a better world.  I would like to remind you and others, and even myself at times, that this place where we are is not exactly what we think it is, there is much about this place that is merely an apparency because we all think it is so real.

There is the life that is created around us, a world we see and experience with each other.  Some of it is good, some of it is bad, and lots of things are going on.

But there is another world that can surround us, both inside and out.  There is the world each of us is capable of creating and seeing on our own and sharing with those closest to us.  That world is full of magic, and joy, and peace, and adventure, and winning, and toiling, and accomplishment.  We are all capable of creating the life we want to life and see, rather than being stuck with the life that seems to grow up around us.

I want to remind people of that simple fact. I believe that is a worthwhile purpose.

I am many things.  I am a mother, a wife, a cook and a baker.  I am a fine artist and can create beautiful paintings in oil and watercolor that make people take pause.  I am a knitter, and a designer, and a publisher of knitting patterns.  I am a business woman, a somewhat sometimes web designer.  I sing, I dance (not very well, but it makes me happy).  I am a minister in my own way.  I am a friend, a grandmother, a sister, a daughter, a cousin.  I am a photographer, and a press release writer.  I have even become a little bit of a farmer of sorts capable of growing pumpkins, cabbages, kale, and old-fashioned flowers.

I am, however, more than anything else, a writer of words and a storyteller. That is what is at my core, in my heart and soul.  My desire of desires is that I through my written stories I might the world by helping individual people remember their ability to be and create magic in their own lives.

As soon as I wrote those thoughts down, I started writing the example of one character from a book I have in mind to write.   As I wrote some of my thoughts regarding that character and how she relates to my objectives as a writer … I … just … started … writing … my … first … novel.

And, I have not stopped since.

I’ve now written more than 25,000 words and have quite a story evolving under my fingertips.  I get up at 5:00 each morning and have two to three hours to write before other things start happening around the house that would have distracted me before.  Also, my husband has made it possible for me to ease my focus on business so that more of my mind is available for writing this, my first novel.

Writing is also the best therapy for the grief of losing my father.  When I am writing, I don’t feel as if I lost him at all, I feel instead that he is with me more than ever when I am writing.

My time has come.

If you, my blog readers, would like to know about the progress of my novel and something about the story as I am working my way through it … I will be happy to share along the way.  Of course, I don’t want to give too much of the story away because hopefully some of you will want to read the book and not have the story spoiled ahead of time.

Know this, you have all encouraged me and helped me make my way through the many steps and crossings of the path that has led me here, and I could not be more grateful.

Stay tuned …

Happiness and warmth to you and yours in the coming holidays,


Sadly, my Kindle … sweet little Clementine, suffered a serious injury recently and I can read on her no more.  With a tight budget this holiday season, I know that not even Santa will be bringing Clementine back to me any time soon.  Sigh. :(


Thanksgiving menu

I am only a few pattern repeats away from completing the main body of the wrap/throw I am knitting for myself. It has become my private prayer shawl project. I suppose you could infer from how quickly (quick for me) it has grown to near full-length just how much I have prayed lately.

Prayed. Contemplated. Reflected. Cried.

Reflected more; prayed more.

It is okay, I know.

I am knitting this into a square in this misty fog sort of color; a cotton yarn. I had saved two cones of this color from back when I was selling cotton yarn because I wanted to knit myself a throw. I decided to make the throw square so I could use it as a large and cuddly wrap by folding the square into a triangle.

It is a comforting piece of knitting, and I do believe that when I wrap myself in the warm and cuddly cotton fibers I will feel my father holding me, hugging me. And it will not make me sad. Instead I will smile and feel the comfort of years of knowing and having him in my life and in our lives. It will large and generous, just as he was.

Oh Dad … we do miss you so.

As for the throw, after I finish knitting the square (about sixty-four inches square) with this color, I plan to make some kind of a border in a pale cream cotton yarn that I have yet to locate and purchase. Just enough of a border to make it pretty, with a touch of femininity. Once the wrap is finished I will prepare a pattern to share with you.

Now, for the Thanksgiving Menu …

At our place, we are doing what we can to maintain the yummy, traditional flavors of Thanksgiving while getting rid of as much of the fat content as possible.

There will only be four of us at our feast, so we also need to keep the quantities in a manageable range.

Coming from a large family with plenty of spouses and grandchildren (to my parents) in the picture, I was accustomed to very large potluck gatherings. Whatever dishes we prepared for holiday meals needed to be large enough for everyone to have some.

My husband, on the other hand, comes from a small family and, being 3,000 miles away from my family we don’t need to prepare for a large gathering. The other thing is, as life has progressed I have come to appreciate a smaller Thanksgiving than I used to. I am very grateful for the memories of the large family feasts but there was quite a lot of stress and bustle involved in getting ready, getting kids ready, preparing food, travelling to someone else’s house, enjoying a great big boisterous meal, cleaning up afterwards, etc.  Additionally, we always had to eat early in the afternoon so that people could leave to get to other in-law’s homes for second round meals.

I may have written about this before, on the I Live on a Farm blog but will mention it again for newer readers:

The last year my son and daughter and I lived in California together, after my parents had moved to Colorado (and my two older brothers were already there with their families) the kids and I decided to try a Thanksgiving dinner at home, just the three of us. They both wanted to have dinner later in the day, so that it seemed more like “dinner”. They also thought it would be great to have plenty of leftovers of everything from the meal, so we could all munch and snack on the fixings over the course of the holiday weekend.

That year I cooked a turkey breast rather than an entire turkey. I don’t eat meat, so I did not try any but my kids said it was very awesome. I had the butcher at Whole Foods cut and wrap with string one turkey breast. Then I cooked some bacon in a large cast iron skillet, and then I seared the turkey breast in the bacon drippings. Then I put the browned turkey breast in a turkey cooking bag (Reynolds), and tossed in a couple of washed and peeled carrots, a couple of stalks of celery cut into large chunks, a peeled onion peeled and quartered, a potato washed and quartered, and fresh savory herbs (sage, thyme, rosemary). Then I closed it up and cooked for however long you cook turkey, calculated by the pound.

The kids told me the turkey was very moist, tender, and tasty … so I reckon that method worked quite well.

We prepared all of the usual side dished usually prepared by an entire family for a potluck, so I was cooking off and on all day long. It was a completely relaxing way to spend the day. We didn’t have an exact set time to eat, we just aimed loosely for 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and once everything was ready we gathered together at a candlelit table and had our meal.

What I experienced was a relaxing, fun day at home with my children … a day in which I had plenty of time to actually think about and reflect over the many things I had to be thankful for. That was when Thanksgiving took on for me the experience, throughout myself, of what the holiday is supposed to be a celebration of.

That doesn’t mean that I regret the hustling, bustling Thanksgivings of earlier years. In fact, having those memories is something I am very, very grateful for. So much love, so much laughter, such great camaraderie among family members of three generations.

I am, however, also grateful for the change.

So, here at our farm we keep a very small and quiet Thanksgiving just the four of us. The first couple of years after we married, we spent the holiday with his sister and her family but now we just stay at home and have a relaxing time of it.

My husband roasts the turkey (following his own father’s tradition, passed down to him), I make the side dishes. We cook together, hang out in the kitchen, laugh, hug, wait.

This year, rather than mashed potatoes I will be making roasted potato chunks, tossed lightly in olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt, rosemary, and a little coarse ground black pepper.

Rather than candied yams with marshmallows on top, I will roast chunks of sweet potatoes along with the roasted white potatoes. The sweet potatoes will be lightly tossed in canola oil and get a light sprinkling of ginger and raw sugar.

I am making homemade southern style cornbread, which we will crumble up and use to make a stuffing with celery, onions, mushrooms, fresh savory herbs, and canned water chestnuts … mixed with only a small amount of olive oil and chicken broth. Some will go in the turkey, some will be baked in a casserole in the oven.

There will be green sweet peas, carrots, homemade wheat dinner rolls, and of course cranberry sauce.

Oh, and for dessert I will make pumpkin pie using one of the Sincere Pumpkins we grew ourselves; it will taste all the better for that fact. I made a couple of those pies this past weekend for our church potluck, and my oh my they were tasty good! I did use non-fat evaporated milk for the pies and they had very thin, light crusts. For our Thanksgiving meal, I am going to use a small amount of baking mix in the pumpkin pie mixture in lieu of using crusts.

Why all of the low or no fat? Not so much because of weight issues, but because I am tired of any of us getting upset stomachs from food that is too rich. The way I cook, things taste very delicious and wonderful without using a lot of fat.

Thank you, by the way, for reading my blog today and other times. I count my many readers among my friends, and I do sincerely appreciate every one of you. Your kindness, caring messages, and comfort over the past few months has been very dear to me.

I wish you and yours well. May you have a warm and cozy, tasty feast on Thanksgiving whether you are alone, with a small party, or with many family and friends.

Warmest wishes to all,

P.S. I am doing a Black Friday event thing at my Etsy shop, if you have any interest. It is going on all week, not just on Friday. I’m not sure what my son is doing in his Etsy shop, but I know he does intend to hold a Black Friday event as well (Flying Junction: vintage inspired subway roll signs and bus scrolls).

Between the Vines


We stopped by the Between the Vines craft and gift sale on Porter Road in Medina today.  Quite a variety of local old stuff and newly made items, even some fresh produce.

There were at least 30 cars when we were there about noon. 

Much of what they offer its not my style, but they have a great variety and I did find a nice gift for someone on my list.

Worth checking out, and well done on their part for doing something people obviously are in support of.

To find it, take a drive out Rt. 31 in the vicinity of Medina and you’ll see roadside signs.  Open mornings and early afternoon Fri, Sat, Sun through November.

Finding comfort knitting with an old friend


I am halfway finished knitting a throw for myself, although I might use it more as a wrap.  I’ve been trying to knit this for a year and a half, had some false starts, then no starts, then almost no progress … For. Ever.

And now suddenly I’m getting there.  I know why, but I’m not ready to talk about that.  I don’t mind sharing the knitting though.

My working title for this blanket is Comfort Food, but I know I long term I won’t call it that.

It is strange, each time I tried to knit this blanket I was trying to come up with something unique, something “pattern worthy” that I could share with my readers and turn into a new project for some of you to try your hands at. But each time I tried to complete the blanket with a new design I would knit for a bit then lose my focus and fall back to a blank position — ripping all of the stitches out in the meantime of course.

Then I decided to use a stitch I have used before, one I know by heart that I could easily knit without having to count rows and constantly monitor mentally. So, I am using that Quilted Lattice stitch I used in the Biscuit Blanket because I can knit for comfort, get lost in my thoughts or listen easily in on a conversation at home, enjoy a cozy time in the living room with a show going and my dear husband closeby, making rapid progress with ease. Thus the title of this blog, knitting with an old friend. The stitch is quite pretty, is making a lovely blanket and I am finding comfort knitting with this old friend of mine, this stitch I am so familiar with. Thank you, old friend for helping me in my time of need.

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This afternoon, when I got home from voting, I went out to the Peter Rabbit Garden and choose one of our pumpkins to use for some homemade soup. 

It was a beautiful thing to have a pretty display of 50 pumpkins, various varieties, to choose from for my soup.

I choose a medium Long Island Cheese pumpkin and made what turned out to be a delicious Pumpkin Bisque … very comforting.

To make the soup, I had my husband cut the pumpkin in half from top to bottom.  After scooping out the seeds and strings bits, I roasted the two halfs in the oven at 400° (each half in a glass casserole dish, sitting in about 2 inches of water) for about 45 minutes (fork tender).

I scooped the roasted pumpkin out of the rind, into my soup tureen.  Then I added 4 Tbsp butter and a couple cups of Rice Dream (rice milk); regular milk would also do.

I heated these on low heat.  I put a large spoonful of the pumpkin mixture in a small sauce pan along with a little butter, more of the Rice Dream and some spices (cinnamon, ginger, thyme, coriander, and tumerick — abt one quarter to a half teaspoon each).  I heated these until boiling gently to “bloom” the spices.

Then I added the spice mixture to the pumpkin mixture, stiering well.

I added enough Rice Dream to reach a nice bisque consistency and heated it all thoroughly on low/medium heat.

Lastly, I smoothed it all out with am emersion blender.

I served the bisque with homemade biscuits … comforting, and, well … pretty much yum to the core.

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We had a hard frost last night; it was 26 degrees outside when I got up this morning and stayed below freezing for some time. Later I was out in the yard with the dogs and visited the Sincere pumpkins out in the Peter Rabbit Garden (and, keep in mind these are harvested pumpkins on display, not still on the vine). Some of the smaller pumpkins were translucent because of freezing. Hmm, I wonder now what is the fate of the insides of our pretty little pumpkin harvest.

It is a little strange how the cold outside brings about such thoughts of coziness and comfort. I suppose it is because we burrow down and huddle up in warmer clothing, loftier furnishings and bedding, closer company, and warmer food and drink.

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I am curating an art show featuring some of my son’s NYC subway signs and his photography from our area in upstate, rural New York as well as urban scenes he has shot in NYC. It will open at a local winery in December and I am happy to have a chance to focus my mind on his creative talents.

And so the week comes to a close with many new inches of blanket knitted, a new rendition of Pumpkin Bisque created and enjoyed, cold weather endured, sunshine restored (at times) and more searching for whatever the new normal of life will be. No clear answers yet on a new normal, but that’s okay for now.


The continuing story of firefly, from I Live on a Farm