Category Archives: Family time

Family Worn Out

An early start sent Jim off on the BBH to a ride, a funeral for a Hog member, and a class in preparation for the big 5 state rally that his chapter is hosting.

A bit of laundry washed and hung out, a trip into town with daughter’s family to get cat food and lunch together and then we returned home to plant trees.  They gave us an Arbor Day membership for Christmas and that comes with 10 trees.  They came a couple of weeks ago and were all deciduous trees that had to be nurseried for a couple of years before planting in their permanent places.  They are the ones that I built an extra garden box for them to live in for the two years.  That I managed on my own, then this week, the ones they ordered for us came.  A dozen various fir trees, Norway Spruce, Canadian Hemlock, and Eastern Red Cedars, a 4 foot red maple, and two Forsythia slips.  The firs needed to be planted where they will grow as they don’t transplant well.  There is a windbreak row of pines that eldest son and I planted about 9 or 10 years ago that were Earth Day twigs and are now 8 to 15 foot trees, but there are some holes in the windbreak and some holes up where we have planted live rooted Christmas trees and lost one.  There are some areas of the property that we consider yard and don’t save for hay that we have worked to reforest.  A contribution to reducing our carbon footprint.

The 5 of us (grands wanted to help dig), set out with the tractor, a couple shovels, a garden fork, a maddock, the bucket of tiny trees in water, and another bucket with water.  The maple was planted in the row of deciduous trees and then we extended the windbreak, filled in holes where trees didn’t take, moved up to the Christmas tree area and spaced out 4 others.  A total of 15 holes were dug, 15 areas cleared of sod, 15 trees and shrubs planted and watered in.  Each young tree is marked with a 4 foot pole and bright green marker flag so they don’t get mowed down when the grass grows up around them.  That took us a good bit of time.

Near one of the trees was an area that was impossible to mow, a low, partially covered rock pile.  For the past several early springs, I have loaded bucket loads of rock from that pile thinking that I was getting it low enough to mow.  We decided to finish moving the pile and man oh man it was a job bigger than we anticipated.  The pile was more extensive and deeper than appeared possible.  We moved 15 or 20 tractor buckets full of rock, used the tractor bucket to dig up at least a dozen rocks that were so large that they could only be rolled into the bucket to remove them.  Though the area is now torn up, it is rock free and smoothed as well as the tractor and our hands could manage.  I think it is going to be an area that can be mowed with the brush hog this summer.

The only remaining big job is the chick pen fence and we still have about 4 weeks to do it.  Tomorrow is going to be rainy and windy and this senior body is likely to be too sore to do much physical anyway.

I am grateful to daughter and her family for all of their hard work and help today and for getting us the trees to help with our project. Hopefully the little trees will thrive and grow quickly.

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon at the Smithfield House at volunteer training.  Hopefully within a few weeks, I will be doing interpretative tours at the house as well as spinning on the dates that have been scheduled for it.  I think I learned more history yesterday than I ever learned in school.

Olio-Week’s End, February 17, 2017

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

This week has been an emotional wreck.  The grandson that lives with us is with his Mom, Sister, and “Dad.”  His biological father lived in Florida and without sharing details, passed away on Wednesday afternoon.  Grandson had been told about a week before that he wasn’t doing well and couldn’t talk on the phone on the scheduled day, but it was still very hard news for him to take and for daughter to have to deliver to him.  They are awaiting information on the service so they can go down and let the young man be there.  It is hard,  he is 10, and as my sister reminded me, children his age are still too young to fear death, though I’m sure he will have his share of tough moments over the next few weeks.  I still do over my Dad’s passing and it has been 14 months.

The week has been up and down with the weather as well, and the changes are causing allergy symptoms for some in the house, weather related headaches for others, and confusion for the animals as they go out to freezing wind one day and temperatures that invite playing in the creek the next.  Each day is a debate of what to wear, the uniform has become a short sleeve t shirt with a sweatshirt or fleece over it, a parka added if necessary.  Gloves stay in pockets when needed.  Some days, the layers stay on, some days peel down to the t shirt.

If we hadn’t had to cancel our ski trip, we would have arrived home late last night from a week in Colorado.  We missed not only the skiing, but also the company of our cousins who are wonderful hosts when we visit them.  Instead of sharing our anniversary dinner with them as we did 4 years ago, we just enjoyed each other’s company at one of the finer restaurants in town, a great 4 course meal that was delicious.

Last night, the cowl that was being knit from the silk that I had spun was finished.  It is beautiful and is blocked and drying.

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The weekend approaches, our usual breakfast and Farmers Market Saturday, tomorrow and more vendors are beginning to return with early greens, so good food will be had next week.

My spinning is improving on my little antique spinning wheel.

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Generally it doesn’t throw the drive band, but the upright nearest the spinner still moves some and causes the wheel to skew and throw the band.  The next time it jumps off, the upright is going to be wrapped in a few rounds of waxed hemp thread to see if that will tighten it enough to hold its position.  The peg under the table also needs to be forced in tighter to help.  The missing part for the new antique walking wheel is being made and when it returns, another learning curve for me as a spinner.  Also improvement is noted with the support spindle that we got last weekend.

How do I show it?

Today is our 39th anniversary.  We met less than a year before we married and waited only a short 6 weeks between engagement and the wedding.  That was 6 weeks of a sling on my left arm holding a separated shoulder in place and recovery.  It has been a wonderful 39 years, raising 3 children, seeing them have children for us to love, buying a couple of houses and building our retirement home.

We tend to indulge each other’s wants when the finances allow.  If he is asked what he wants for a gift giving opportunity, he is reticent to provide ideas, and there have been few occasions where he was surprised.  We usually get each other items that are suggested or in his case, dragged out of him, so gift giving is rarely a surprise anyway.

There were no plans to do more than the token card and dinner out tonight, but the weekend brought me the new to me antique Walking Wheel spinning wheel.  It didn’t have to come home with us, but he bought it for me for our anniversary and Valentine’s Day.  That gift can’t be reciprocated in kind, so what is one to do.  The one thing he wants is to not be feeling the arthritis in his back that is causing him several issues and has curtailed several activities he enjoys.  I can’t give him that, I am not a doctor or a miracle worker, though I wish I could provide him relief.

My gift to him today is to publicly let the world know that he has been and continues to be the best husband, friend, and love of my life that I could have asked for.  He is a wonderful father, a loving grandfather, wise and caring. He has a sense of humor that sometimes I miss, sometimes I want to miss.  I want him to know that I will do whatever I can to support him emotionally, to love him unconditionally and to let the world know that he is the best ever.

I love you babe!  Forever! Want 39 more?

Same Song Different Dance

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Yesterday was clear and sunny, but cold.  We are in the week’s yoyo on the climb back up the string.  Today is gray, but expected to be about 8 degrees warmer than yesterday.  Maybe the mid 40’s (8ºC), breezy, but no heavy wind. We will climb another 10 degrees tomorrow and Tuesday with increasing chances of rain, then plummet on Thursday back to a high of freezing and a low in the teens.  My system doesn’t like these flucuations.  With the changes bring wind.  Wind brings power outages.  We are low on wood for supplemental heat.  This spring, the woodlot will be checked for dead or dying trees to try to resupply.  A few years ago, a huge oak blew down in the woods of our farm.  It landed on thick branches so it was propped up at a dangerous angle and it sat that way for two years.  Eldest son tackled it with the chain saw and cut many thick branches from the tree, but our saw wasn’t long enough to go through the trunk.  Our farmer friend that hays our fields came in with heavier equipment than our chainsaw and little tractor and left with a couple of thick long logs for the mill, loads of firewood for another neighbor who had recently had bypass surgery, and left us enough firewood for two winters of supplemental heat and ambiance fires.  Two Thanksgivings ago, eldest son and I took down a dead tree and between then and a second visit at Christmas, we got it all cut up, I split most of it with his help on some and it was stacked.  That wood is almost gone.  Hopefully there will be no extended outages before it warms back up.

What does a “Mommom” (my name to these two grands) do on a Sunday morning?  Grandson’s breakfast of choice is pancakes or Honey Nut Cheerios.  About once a week, a week’s worth of pancakes are mixed and baked on the griddle to be frozen for him.  The last batch ended up too thin for his liking, Granddaughter loves them.   This morning, I felt they were too thick, but he insisted that was the way he liked them.  They are so thick that they didn’t bubble up on the edges to indicate the griddle side was baked and ready to flip.  His weekly batch of pancakes are cooling and will be frozen for this week’s breakfasts.  His Mom and Dad are grocery shopping now and he asked for sausages to go with them. The microwave will be busy this week.

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And I don’t even like pancakes, I would rather have oatmeal or a farm fresh egg, right from the nest of my girls.

When Days Go Wrong then Right

My day was supposed to be a day when I got to sleep in (that means past 6:30 a.m.) as daughter was going to deal with the kiddos this morning and we were going to meet her to pick up granddaughter after the 5 year old wellness visit and daughter would go on to work.  At 7ish, Jim said, I don’t hear any movement downstairs, followed by daughter running for the bowl yelling up as she went to ask me to take over morning duties.  She either has food poisoning or a stomach virus.  I am sorry she is not feeling well today, but hopeful that it isn’t a stomach virus or we will all end up with it.  I took over the duties, got the kids up, dressed, fed, and delivered.  To add to the confusion, Jim had a PT appointment on the wall calendar, it was not on my electronic calendar, and he thought it was tomorrow, so he was up right with me to call the PT office to check on the date, the time we had.  That appointment was today which meant that he had to leave with me to deliver kids.  The wellness appointment had to be rescheduled as daughter wanted to be there for that.

Once she got to work today, she was going to have to teach a class and since work was totally out of the question for her today, she had to find someone else to teach the class and sent us two towns over with her materials for the class between dropping granddaughter at preschool and Jim to PT.

By then I was going full steam.  By the end of PT, it is nearly time to pick up granddaughter again and feed her lunch, which we did out to stay away from the house for daughter to rest and maybe us to stay away from the bug.

Once home, I worked on some silk I have been spinning.

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And continued to knit on the Fibonacci Infinity Scarf, now into the third color set and more than 20″ long.

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I read a chapter or two on No Man’s Land, David Baldacci before it is due back at the library.  Granddaughter was having her quiet time and Jim took some quiet time too.

When I went to pick up grandson at the bus stop, I picked up our mail and was pleased to find the 6th color for my scarf (peeking out from under the scarf) in the box along with the spool of waxed hemp from the bagpipe supply to tighten the fittings on my new/antique spinning wheel.

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The Mother of All, the two uprights that hold the flyer and bobbin were mailed off early in the week to Bobbin Boy for repair and refurbishing.  They directed me to a video on their Facebook page that showed me how to use the waxed hemp to tighten the joints where the legs insert into the table and where the uprights that hold the wheel also insert into the table.  All of these parts were loose which would prevent me from spinning on her once the repaired parts are returned.

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In making these repairs, I discovered a split in one of the uprights which disheartened me, but my choice was to either get a bit of good wood glue down in the split or have Bobbin Boy turn me a new piece.  I elected to try the wood glue first.  It is setting up now, so the wheel is sitting apart until tomorrow.  The legs no longer wobble, the footman stays in place, the uprights are tight in their fittings and I am hopeful that this wheel is going to be a gem.

So after a hectic start, the day ended up a crafty success.

Dinner has been prepped, eaten, and cleaned up and I am going to spend the rest of the evening, enjoying more crafting.

The Quiet

Christmas morning was shared with eldest son, our daughter in law, and eldest grandson.  We had our traditional Huevos Rancheros and link sausages then opened stockings and Christmas gifts.  After a bit of wind down, last year’s rocket was taken down to the field and fired into the foggy, low hanging clouds.  The first one we never saw come back down, the second one we watched, but son and grandson could not find it anywhere it appeared to land in the neighbor’s fields.  Shooting the rockets was something that Jim did with our youngest son after eldest son was out of our house.  I think he had wanted a rocket when he was younger, but hubby wasn’t sure about it then.  Son and grandson got a pair last year for Christmas.  It lives here and gets used when they visit.  With both missing, we will get them a new one for future visits.  The rockets are fun to watch.  I wish I had all the money for all of the ones that have been lost in the past 20 years.

After their launches, they packed the car and headed across the state for Christmas #2 of the day and we were left in a very quiet house.  Since I had prepared our traditional full Christmas dinner on the eve, we had plenty of leftovers to enjoy it again last night.

We did talk with our daughter and her family, visiting son in law’s family in Florida this year.  We spoke on the phone with our youngest son as he was headed into work to let most of his employees have the day free to be with their families, and just finished talking with Jim’s sister who lives in Florida.

I had asked eldest son if he would make me a vertical lazy kate for my spinning bobbins. My wheel has a built in lazy kate, but I find that I get too much twist when I use it as the singles come off the end of the bobbins instead of the side.  This was made for me and under the tree yesterday morning.

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Last year he made me my soap molds and this year my lazy kate.  I love that he and his wife are so talented.  She made us ornaments of our first initials and hung them on the tree and made me a decorative bowl of the clay from the MGM site in Baltimore where she helped install a huge art piece also made of the clay.  I went to their house to help out the week that she was away working on that.

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It was pleasant having them here if only for a couple of days.

Our children know that we don’t want them spending a lot of money on us, so we love the handcrafted items such as two woodburned ornaments from our youngest.

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And the environment gift of an Arbor Day Foundation membership and trees from our daughter’s family.

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Cleverly presently with a tiny forest and a note.  We are trying to reforest parts of our farm and this gift will help us on the way.

Today is quiet.  We went to town to get lunch and a few groceries and around that I have been washing the bed linens from son’s family visit and our laundry.  It is cool, gray, and gloomy today so being outside has no draw.  The time is being spent spinning some brightly colored Merino wool and plodding through a book that hasn’t really drawn me in. Santa brought each if us generous gift cards to Barne’s and Noble, so I will get myself a book soon.  He also brought me a gift card to my favorite local coffee cafe.  I will enjoy sitting in there with coffee on many occasions.

The quiet will continue for another 8 days, then life will return to the school year routine of getting the grands off to their respective school days.

I’m hoping for a break in the gloom so I can go for a walk.  We have rain and gloom every day this week except Wednesday, and possible snow on Friday.  We will see.  Maybe I will just put on a jacket and rainboots and go outside anyway.

Olio – 12/23/16

Olio: A miscellaneous collection of things.

Very early this morning in the wee dark hours, eldest son and his family arrived for Christmas.  Yesterday was spent cleaning up as much dust and animal hair as possible with the vacuum and a lightly dampened mop to try and reduce the allergen level of the house.  The process was taken down to the basement as well, where there are no rugs, granddaughter helping by collecting various tiny lego pieces, parts of her “kitchen” and other random toys that were not put away.  The bed in the bedroom down there was made with fresh sheets, as was the futon in the sitting area for grandson.  The last of the gifts were wrapped and sorted to be put under the tree.

After fixing sausage gravy and biscuits this morning, we visited until Jim had finished his PT and daughter has finished teaching her class and we all met for lunch out and split up in the various cars for errands.  Jim taking grandson for a haircut, daughter bringing granddaughter home to finish their laundry and to pack and load the car to await son-in-law to arrive home for them to begin their drive to Florida where they will spend Christmas with his parents, pick up the grandson who has been with his bio Dad for the week, and then on to have a Christmas vacation for the kids.  Son and I made a few stops for items on his list.

When we arrived home, a footstool box pieced and taped together with enough foam sheeting to wrap the house and holding my new antique spinning wheel was sitting on the table.  This excited me and I carefully opened the box and found all of the disassembled pieces inside.  We pulled up a photo and began reassembling it to make sure it is all there.

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It is all there, with a few flaws that may have to be addressed, such as two of the whorls missing a chunk out of them, but I think I can still use them.  An arm of the flyer has been broken and reglued in the past.  The legs had been removed for shipping and need to be reglued for stability.  The parts are pegged together and the leather that holds the flyer on the mother of all is dry and too wide in one place, covering the orifice hole, so it hasn’t been used in a long time.  I suspect it has been mostly decorative.  It is a double drive wheel and the only twine that I had to test it with isn’t beefy enough to do the job and frayed very quickly.  The bobbin is so tiny, but the wheel is gorgeous.  It was made by a Canadian from St. Andre, a wheel with screw tensioning.  Paradis was born in the early 1800’s.

Daughter’s family is on the road.  Son’s family shared a pot roast dinner with us and now they are off to a movie with Jim.  I elected to have some quiet time at home with a cup of tea and bake the pies for our Christmas dinner.

We traditionally have our Christmas dinner on the eve with turkey, country ham, and all the trimmings.  Tomorrow, we will avoid the last minute madness, just enjoying each other’s company, sharing a festive meal in the evening and do our gift opening after a big Christmas breakfast on Sunday, before they leave for daughter-in-law’s parent’s home to have Christmas with them as well.

Our house will be very quiet after they leave for more than a week, just Jim, me and all the animals.

Have a very Merry Christmas to all of you who check in on us through my blog.

Holiday’s End

Our weekend with family ended tonight after all of us sharing our second turkey leftovers for lunch and dinner for 9 at a restaurant in Roanoke.  Eldest son and his family are headed home to get a fire going in their woodstove before the bitter cold of the night and to allow son to get some projects graded for his students before their classes this week.  They have two more weeks of the semester prior to exams.

We had a great time having 2 of our children and their kids here for the weekend, the kids enjoying cousin time.  We put a big dent in the 20+ pound turkey and ate all of the left over sides, a whole quart of my homemade icicle pickles, a pint of mixed olives, a dozen huge rolls, and a couple of pies.

Yesterday while the house was quiet, yes it happens even with 6 adults and 3 kids, I made 4 batches of soap for the next Holiday Market.  I have never successfully made more than two batches in a day with no batch failure.  I have 40 bars of soap curing, 10 each of Citrus Soother, Jasmine, Cedarwood/Sandalwood, and Goat Milk/Honey.

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I failed to purchase lavender essential oil when I went in to get the avocado and castor oils for the second two batches of soap, so I will need another trip in town tomorrow, so that I can get essential oils for lotion bars.  I still need to get a few boxes stained for Men’s Grooming boxes for the shop for holidays.  If you visit the shop between now and Monday night, you can receive a 10% discount on knitwear and yarn by entering the code SB/CM10%.

Tomorrow will be grocery day and Monday I will finally plant garlic before the midweek much needed rain.

Now that Thanksgiving is behind me, I need to start thinking about gifts for the kids and grands for Christmas.

To Grandmother’s House They Came

Over the creek and through the woods to Grandmother’s (and Grandfather’s) house they came.

Part of the family converged on the farm yesterday to celebrate Thanksgiving together. With nine in the house, meals are major.  While one family was driving here, and the other at work, I cooked up a pot of pasta sauce with sausage and turned it into a huge thick lasagna and added a big salad with some of the last of the Farmers’ Market salad greens, some carrots and daikon radishes also from the market and we ate hearty last night.

Today was so mild and beautiful, son, daughter, daughter in law, a grandson, and I set up an assembly line to put the 6 cull chickens in the freezer before we tackled the Thanksgiving feast.  With everyone chipping in, the 6 birds were dealt with, the garage and driveway cleaned up, and Thanksgiving prepared.  The 20.48 lb turkey was spatchcocked to reduce the cooking time and because we learned last Thanksgiving, what a moist delicious bird it makes.  The huge bird cooked in only a bit less than an hour and a half.

turkey

Though preparing a turkey this way does not let you put a whole golden bird on the table, we don’t do that anyway and this is so much more delicious.  With a turkey as large as this one, son is called in to cut the backbone out, flatten the bird and lift it into and out of the oven.  He also is the carver while the remaining dishes were being finished in the oven and put on the table.  Last year, with a slightly smaller turkey, we bought the huge pan and worried it wasn’t going to be large enough today.  After Thanksgiving last year, I bought poultry shears which makes removing the backbone possible.  The organ meats and backbone were tossed in a large stockpot with some celery, water, and salt and started simmering.  The cooked turkey bones were added after our feast.

The giant sweet potato from the garden was peeled, boiled and then baked with a touch of butter, cinnamon, and a little brown sugar.

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It didn’t take but the one sweet potato to make a casserole that had leftovers.  Green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, gravy, bread dressing, rolls, homemade pickles and cranberries, assorted olives, pumpkin and pecan pies, and we are all in food comas now.

Nadia

Though granddaughter has celebrated her birthday twice this week with the roller skating party with her best friend on Sunday, her classroom celebration on Tuesday, today was her real birthday.  Though she had her cake on Sunday, her Daddy bought her a chocolate chip cookie cake for today and we all sang to her one last time for this birthday.  They have taken her to the new Disney movie Moana for her birthday after dinner.

The kitchen is cleaned up, the table linens laundered, the dishwasher run and dishes put away, the broth is cooling enough for me to debone it.  Tomorrow, I will reboil it and can it for later use.  The freezer still has jars of broth that I need to use for making soup, gravy, or to cook rice.  For now, I am just sitting and resting for a bit.

Tomorrow, we will eat turkey leftovers then as a group will go out to dinner on Saturday.

Today we gave thanks.  Hope you had a good day too.

Midweek

The week is moving on, public schools closing at the end of the day today for Thanksgiving.  Today was granddaughter’s preschool celebration of her Thanksgiving Day birthday.  Tomorrow they have a Thanksgiving feast of vegetable stew that each child contributed a vegetable and all helped prepare, but today was her day.  Last evening, I made 3 dozen mini muffins, lemon and lemon blueberry, her request for their treat.  This morning, I put together little party bags with a top, a couple of glow sticks, and one of those compressed wash cloths that bloom when they are put in water.  She is going to see Moana, the new Disney movie after Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday and I found some of the wash cloths with those characters on them.

At school, beginning a half hour before the end of their day, they have a special celebration for the birthday child.  First, all of the children help color a banner earlier for the birthday child that is hung above the birthday table and is sent home after.  The birthday girl got to sit at this table and select a songs, one for each year for the class to sing.  Then candles are lit and blown out.

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One of their rituals is for a wooden sun to be placed in the middle of the floor, the child handed a small wooden globe and the teacher explaining that for each year the earth goes around the sun one time.  The child then walks the globe around the sun the appropriate number of times while the rest of the class sits in a circle around her.

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After the trips around the sun, the birthday child walks around the group, either calling their name or gently tapping them to join the train in the middle of the floor.  The birthday child chooses whether to be the engine or the caboose, and granddaughter chose to be the engine.  They have a little song that puts the kids in the cars, they are given a ticket and then they choo choo away.

The train

After all of the rituals, they get their treat and party bag if there is one and everyone goes home.

Last night, while I was babysitting with grandson with a migraine, I stitched the love tag to go in the Christmas stocking for our newest granddaughter.  Today, after the school party, I cut and sewed the lining and hand stitched it into the stocking and sewed in the tag.

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This is the first time I have been playful with the lining.  Generally, I use a white pillow case to cut, but this fabric was too cute to pass up.

While the machine was out, I mended a pair of work pants for eldest son.  He and his family will arrive tonight or tomorrow, depending on when he was able to leave work today.  He will try again to hunt a bit, we will put the cull chickens in the freezer, and we will celebrate Thanksgiving together with the huge turkey we picked up from the farm yesterday.

Tonight, I will cook the two sugar pumpkins for making pies for Thanksgiving and later for Christmas dinners.

Yesterday, I volunteered to help out at the historic house during their Holiday celebration the first weekend in December.  There were many jobs available and I let the director decide how to utilize me, I will be spinning in one of the rooms in the house and acting as one of the interpreters.  The theme this year is products that they produced and so their will be honey made food treats, hops, and fiber.  This is their last event of the season and I have enjoyed being a volunteer there a few times this year and look forward to the opportunity to do more next year.  I am debating whether I can get a huge undyed shawl knitted from some of my already spun fiber to cover my shoulders during the holiday celebration.  It would be a nice addition to my costume.