Category Archives: Family time

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.

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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.

 

A Delightful Treat

Last night, I was given a delightful treat.  Some years ago, I commented on music that was playing in daughter’s car and ask who was performing.  She introduced me to Straight No Chaser, via CD and YouTube and I was hooked.  Last year, her husband gave her right down in center front tickets to see them in Charlottesville and we kept the grands so they could make a weekend of it.  This was her treat as a gift and they got to go out to dinner, see the concert, spend a night in a hotel, and tour Charlottesville the next day.

They found out the group was going to be in Roanoke, the city where they work, about an hour from here.  It was a Tuesday night concert, but they wanted to take their kids and since next week is granddaughter’s, daughter’s, and my birthdays, they also bought me a ticket.  I picked up the kids from the bus stop and headed over.

I won’t get into the logjam on the interstate due to an accident and the warped route that the GPS sent me to get around it, the fact that it took twice as long as it should to get there.  That was all soon forgotten.

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We got in as soon as the doors opened and quickly found our seats.  We were near the center of the second tier of seating with only the handicap row in front of us and the wide aisle.

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Waiting for the show.  The seating around us quickly filled and the 2100+ capacity theater was nearly full.

If you aren’t familiar with this group, Straight No Chaser is a professional a cappella group which originated in 1996 at Indiana University comprised of 10 men.  They are awesome.  Check out a YouTube.  Unlike many performers, they recognize that they are where they are because of their audience and they encourage you to video and photograph them and post on line.  They take pictures of the audience and put it on their Facebook page and encourage you to tag yourself.  It was a full 2 hours of lights, music, dancing, and gags.  This is their 20th anniversary tour and I hope they come back, I will go again.

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Thank you daughter, son in law, and grands for a great birthday present.  I had so much fun with you last night.

 

Home again

In the past 10 days, Jim and I drove west to east across the state to meet our newest grand daughter, and I have driven from the southwest part of the state, north and slightly east to spend 5 days helping out at eldest son’s house and then home late yesterday.  The drive north on Monday was stressful as I had to drive Jim’s Xterra with a 22 foot extension ladder strapped to the roof.  The ladder or the straps holding it vibrated and rumbled loudly if my speed was greater than 40 mph and as the entire route is interstate and a 55 mph highway, except for 8 miles on our end and 8 miles on their end, I arrived stressed with a headache until I could chill out for a while.  Yesterday, I helped pick up a clothes dryer in the back of the Xterra and then began my trip home.  The trek back yesterday afternoon was quieter and a pleasant drive until late afternoon when I was headed west with the sun in my eyes.

Because of the solo time with them off at work and grandson at school all day, I got a lot of spinning done and most of the yoke of my sweater done.

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This is 400 of the 600 yards of sport weight yarn that was spun.  The last bit is still being plyed and wound.  The Wool was a 6+ ounce of Corriedale with Kid Mohair ball that I bought when at Roan Mountain in the fall.  When I got to Hawk’s Nest a month later, I pulled it out to spin and realized that it was slightly felted, perhaps to over dyeing and was disappointed.  I had bought 4 ounces of similar colored Merino at Hawk’s Nest and a friend suggested that I card them together which I did when I arrived home.  I was still not having much luck spinning it and set it aside.  After I got my new Louet wheel, I pulled it out again, and it spun like a dream, very smooth and even.  The Louet bobbins are so large that getting generous skeins is possible.  I had 375 yards plyed on one bobbin but decided to put it in 200+yard skeins.  The last will be finished tonight all 3 skeins washed and once dry, labelled.  I am pleased with the outcome.

Last December, when my cousin and I were in Norfolk, Virginia, alternately sitting with my failing Dad and walking the huge hospital campus while other family member’s visited, she introduced me to her Fitbit.  I decided that it might provide me with the motivation to renew a fitness routine, so I asked Jim for one for Christmas.  He purchased me one of the current models and for the past 11 months, it has been a great motivator.  In the past couple of weeks, I have noticed that the face was beginning to separate from the band and I mentioned it to my daughter in law as she also has one.  She told me to contact them and that they would send me a new one.  That day, I found their online contact form, took a photo of the damage and sent them a message.  This company, even on a Sunday, was quick to respond with a thanks for the photo and inquiry with a few questions for me.  When I responded that it had been a Christmas gift, purchased just a few days before Christmas and where I resided, they promptly responded with an acknowledgement that it would be replaced and they wanted my preferred size and color.  It turns out, my model is discontinued and the only ones they had were not the color I wanted and much too large so instead they sent me a newer model in the color and size desired and it arrived in less than a week.  This is a company that stands behind their products and were quick to correct the defect at no cost to me.  I now have a sleek new model that fits in the color of my choice.  This one does a lot more than my old one.  They deserve kuddos.

My cold continues to abate, however, I am still coughing, I guess that will continue for a week or so.

It got cold last night.  Our outdoor thermometer registered a low of 25ºf last night.  The farm was thickly coated with frost, the hardy marigolds succumbed to the cold, the two hanging geraniums on the front porch as well.  The herb pots that remained outdoors will be dumped of the remaining soil and on a warm day, washed out and turned against the house side of the deck to overwinter.  The remaining rosemary will be tucked in a sunny protected corner to see if it will survive, if not, there is a cutting rooted in the house to start a new one next year.  There is a variety that will overwinter in the ground here if protected, but I don’t think either of the varieties that I had potted will.  On one of the mild days this week, I will plant the garlic in one of the new garden boxes.  It will be mulched.  Two more boxes will be added this months and there is more cardboard to put between them and plenty of spoiled hay to mulch the aisles.  Winter is coming on.  Early darkness, spinning and knitting evenings with a cup of hot tea at hand.

Hope you had a good weekend.

Still loving life on our farm.