Thursday, January 11, 2018

A Late Christmas Gift Arrived!

Yes, its still Christmas at my house evidently.  I rec'd a box with Christmas cookies, small brownies, and chocolate.
Isn't this Santa adorable.  He's 3 boxes, one atop the other, each filled with goodies.  I love him.  And the goodies don't hurt either.   Well, I stand corrected, they DO hurt, the waistline.  But going down they sure are good.  I will have to pack him away gently and take him out again next year filled with goodies I make myself and serve to visitors.

As for weather, it sure warmed up today.  It hit the high 40sF and the snow is melting, but it is also making wet spots that could easily turn to ice if it gets really cold later tonite.  Tomorrow they tell us we'll reach the 50s.   It'll be great to get some of the ice patches melted away completely before the cold returns next week.

Have a good evening friends.  Hugs, S

Friday, January 5, 2018

Snowstorm Grayson Dumped 15" on us Jan. 4, 2018

Its the first snowstorm of the year and its a biggy.  I measured in 4 different level areas to get a good measurement and I came up with 15" of the white stuff.  Luckily it was light in weight so there were minimal power outages, and those mostly in the south along the coast where rising tides and a full moon brought strong waves washing over the roadways.
Our garden pathway snow-blowed this morning.

Part of the gardens themselves, home to our sky high Pampas grasses, now mostly buried.

The view of the winding river covered with ice floes, with even the reservoir in the foreground partially iced over.

Toward the left you can see what looks like stair steps where the water falls are mostly frozen solid except for a small stream that still flows freely.  The bridge between our two towns spans more ice-covered river.

Snow, snow, snow everywhere.

This weekend we will be visited by another Arctic cold front giving us 20 below zero temps in the evenings.  Right now it is 10 above with the afternoon being a bit overcast.  Our temps next week will be heat waves in the 20s and even reaching 35 on Tuesday, they tell us.

For me, its a good time to stay indoors.  I have plenty of food in my larder, sweets leftover from Christmas, and goodies that still tempt me even after the New Year, which I will NOT waste.  I even have Italian Wine Cookies planned to bake this weekend.

Have a nice weekend.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Winter Views on Dec 30, 2017

I took a few photos of the snow and ice in our territory
The trees along the river are white with ice.  Our daytime temps haven't been up high enough to melt any of it that arrived a couple days ago.

This is our normally seven-foot tall Pampas grass laid low by the weight of the ice that covered it the last several days.

The reservoir in the background is only iced on the edges.  Large areas of icy snow have flowed thru already.

This is an unusual scene here in southwestern Maine this time of year.  Usually we are hoping for some snow on Christmas for the kids to use their new toboggans and sleds, but we got more than we bargained for this year.   Our cold came earlier.  Its usually in January that we are muffled to the teeth to fight the cold.

I am happy to report that the 8 degrees above zeroF that it was when I took these photos, really felt pretty darn good after our below zero nites when I walk my dog.  And the sunshine really helps during times like this.  I didn't even have to wear my mittens this noon and I was comfy.

Have a good day.

African Violets Amid the Bitter Cold of Dec 2017

Its been unusually cold here in southwestern Maine the last week.  Days in the single digits Fahrenheit and nites below zero.  Penny and I took our morning walk at 7:30 to 12 below zero.  We didn't waste our time.  Thank goodness Penny is trained to 'go' pretty much when she hears the magic words so it only took us 5 mins. out in that blast freezer this morning.
Here is some pretty color among the cold of the month.  My African Violets are beginning to bloom again.  On the far right is my wonderful good luck gargoyle I named Gamma Ramma, because he is the goat.   I think he is doing a good job of keeping me safe from the hobgoblins thru the nights.
The plants are blooming just in time.  I took down all the Christmas decorations so color is needed in my home to make me smile.
I have beef stew in the crock pot which will warm up this old body later and enough for my son to take some home with him today.
I know the rest of the country is suffering with the cold and snow as well.  I wish you all a good day.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Italian Wine Cookies

We love these soft cookies in my family.  They are usually made at Christmas time but are excellent any time during the year.
In years past, they were shaped like little Italian cigarellos, long and thin.  Days for tempting your kids with cigarettes or cigars are long past so shaping them in circles is the norm these days.

2 1/2 to 3 Cups All Purpose Flour
6 oz. Red Wine.   Note: If you like the taste of the wine, they are fine for cookies.
6 oz. White Granulated Sugar
6 oz. Vegetable Oil
2 Tablespoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Vanilla
Pinch of Salt
1 Cup of Walnuts, Crushed after measuring.

Start with 2 1/2 Cups Flour in a large bowl.  I use a wooden spoon for my mixing process.
Add the Wine, Sugar, Oil, Baking Powder, Vanilla, and Salt.
Mix this all up thoroughly with your wooden spoon til it looks like wet and combined.
As you can see the mixture looks wet as its being stirred together.  You may want to add up to another half cup of flour to the mixture so it stirs together well.  You want it wet, but not too wet.  The right feel comes with practice.

When all the wet and dry ingredients are together, add the crushed walnuts and again, stir the mixture together with the wooden spoon.

When its mixed, I take my hands and push it altogether.   It will look as it does above.  A wet lump.

You can make your own cinnamon sugar mix, but I prefer to buy it already mixed from McCormick.  These containers are just under 4 oz. in weight.  I will use about 2/3 to 3/4 of one container for this recipe.

Pour some cinnamon sugar in a small bowl.

Take some mixture and roll it in your palms into a small ball.  It looks and feels wet and it should.

Roll the balls thoroughly in the cinnamon sugar mixture in the bowl.  You want them completely covered in cinnamon sugar.

Lay parchment paper on your baking sheets.  I'm using small baking sheets that only measure 9.5 by 13 inches.  I can put 2 of these side by side in the center of my oven.  I only bake two sheets at a time to keep the heat even all around.

Use the bottom of a drinking glass to flatten your balls to a nice, round circle about a quarter inch thick.

Cooking on parchment, I bake mine in a preheated 350*F oven for 12 mins., no longer.  You want soft cookies, not hard ones.  They should look like this when done.
Mine measure around 3 to 3 1/2 inches across.  

If you forget to flatten out your balls like I did for these last 4 small ones above, its fine.  They will cook, but in a puffed shape instead of flattened, as you can see.

I managed to get 3 dozen cookies today.  Depending on the size you make them, you can have more by making the balls smaller.
These cookies are soft in the middle and just have a bit of crispness on the outside, just enough not to fall apart.

My kids and grandkids are coming over Christmas Eve and will take home with them Christmas goodies that are so familiar to our family which include these Italian Wine Cookies and Homemade Old-fashioned Hershey cocoa chocolate fudge among them.  I also made peanut butter fudge with and without nuts, and peanut butter balls, sometimes called Buckeyes in the Midwest.   The piece de resistance will be my Lithuanian Bundies (meat filled hand-sized pastry).

I am trying to be good and not over indulge.  I don't want to gain too much weight over the Holidays so I won't have as much to lose afterwards.  There's always a price to pay for eating well.  Thankfully these days only come once a year and gaining pounds from Thanksgiving to Christmas is normal in my family.

Have a good Day.

Our Resident Xmas Party on Dec 21 2017

We had a pot luck Xmas Party on Dec. 21st this year and it was fun, fun, fun.
Lots of good food and nice gifts abounded.
One of the main dishes included Kentucky Fried Chicken which I love so I was happy.  There was also a nicely sliced ham and sides galore.  Being a plain meat and potatoes kind of person, I limited my choices.

My plate is full with just my favorites, so definitely no room to try other dishes.

I just had to post this photo of artwork done by one of our residents which was adorable.  She does fantastic work.  This was in the Yankee Swap and so loved by the recipient, no one swapped it away from her because, being number one, she would just swap it back to herself at the end of the swapping.  That's the ideal about choosing the slip marked number one in this Swap.

Our dessert table held enough to add hundreds of calories to everyone's waistline this Xmas, including my peanut butter fudge.

These are some of my favorite residents here, and I include them among my friends.  I don't want to reveal their names because being online, their privacy is paramount with me and them.

Folks were dressed in their Christmas finery, blouses and tops that are relegated to the back of the closet most of the year but are happily worn for the last days til Christmas.

We even had a Christmas Punch, but not like some with alcohol, but this one pretty tame with ginger ale, some frozen juice concentrates, and many scoops of sherbet ice cream.  I enjoyed it as did everyone else.

I saved a bit of my meat portions for Penny, who enjoyed them thoroughly when I got back to our apt.  There was our usual Yankee Gift Swap.  Unfortunately the gift I chose from under the tree and loved, was swapped out by another.  It happens in a Yankee Swap and happened at our last party as well.  After a few party extras and little gifts along with a 50/50 (in which 2 folks split the money collected in the drawing), we all went home with filled tummies.

It was a wonderful Christmas Party.   I wish you a wonderful day.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Xmas Wall Hanging, "Its Mine! Its Mine!" is finished.

I finally finished my Christmas Mouse wall hanging.  I named it, "Its Mine! Its Mine!" since the little bugger has grabbed onto a Christmas tree ornament and made off with it.
Its 13" Wide by 15" Long and finished just in time to hang on my door before Christmas.
Here he is above, my little Christmas critter.

Here's a little closer view.  Doesn't he look pleased with himself.
The rest of the day will be taken up with making candy and resting in between batches.  Maybe even some prepping of microwave bowl cozies will be managed today.

Its snowing out.  They tell us only about an inch accumulation in total.  We shall see.

Have a good day.