Tag Archives: holiday

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.


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.

Olio – December 13, 2016

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

Last year this time, I was with my failing Dad.  He passed before Christmas and I moved through the holidays last year in a fog.  This year I can’t get him off my mind and the tears are never far from the surface.  Apparently, I put the sympathy cards in with the Christmas cards and put the box of them away together.  Pulling them out started it, then every ornament or Santa that he and his wife gave me triggered it again.  I will get through.  The family, not me, but others close to me have struggled with some health issues in the past month and that has produced it own level of stress.  All will be fine in the long run, but not right now.

I did get the house decorated.  As our daughter was born right after Thanksgiving, she insisted that no decorations be put up until after her birthday when she was growing up. That rule still applies.  Sometimes it is the day after Thanksgiving, sometimes a week later.  With a late Thanksgiving this year, the decorating was late.  The Santas and snowmen are adorning the shelves, windowsills, and table tops.

Little tree mantle more santas Santas

They get tucked all over the great room and kitchen, this is only some of them. Saturday, Jim and I drove to the city and partied with his HOG group, staying the night in the hotel where the party was held and on Sunday, drove home to go out with the kids for lunch and off to buy a Christmas tree from one of the cut your own lots.  Last year, we let the grands pick the tree and came home with a 12-13 foot tree.  This year, I picked it and it is only about 8 feet tall.  Last night, daughter and her family decorated the tree with their family decorations.  We put one for our annual ornament, one that we have joked over annually that came from a good friend a couple of decades ago, the three little soft gnomes and daughter insisted that the tree be wrapped in the yarn candy cane rope from our box.

When I went down a couple of days ago to put an empty decoration box in the root cellar part of the basement, I saw a puddle of water.  This happened a few years ago and I did not know what was causing it until I talked with my son.  The air handler condensation tube drips into a floor drain.  The floor drain has a pipe that runs under the slab and out the back of the house, through a PVC pipe that goes 18.5 feet straight back off the stoop, then at a 45º angle off for another 10+ feet where it terminated in a shallow pit fill with gravel.  Twice the end of that pipe has gotten clogged with dirt, the gravel pit also filling up and the condensation backs up until the entire pipe is full and the puddle forms on the slab.  The first time it happened, I had no idea where the pipe was or how far out from the house it was laid.  I started at the back door slab and dug a shallow trench from where I could find the pipe until I found it’s terminus.  It was sleeting and snowing that time.  Today it was just a cold rain and I knew approximately where it was so instead of a trench, I only needed a series of shallow holes to follow the path to the terminus.


When I found the end, I cleaned out the mud, left an open hole and drove a stake until I have a warmer, drier day to redig a pit and fill it with gravel.  I think I will mark the terminus spot with a larger flat rock so I can find it even faster next time.

One of my pullets began laying this week.  She is a half Buff Orpington, half Americauna.  She looks mostly like a Buff Orpington, just a bit smaller and only slightly darker.  I was curious what she would lay and her eggs are small and olive colored.


We are now getting about 10 eggs a week, half blue ones and half olive green ones.  The Buff Orpingtons which are generally winter layers, have not resumed from their molt.

Saturday is the second Holiday Market.  The forecast is abysmal with an 80% chance of precipitation starting as freezing rain.  It will be about 22 when I leave home to drive down.  It may reach the mid 40’s by the end.  It will probably not be the best Market, but I have the soaps, lotion bars, salves, knitwear, and yarn, so I should give it a go.  I will dress warmly, figure out how to put two sides on my tent and hope the wind is calm.


Education for all

This has been a great weekend spent in the beautiful Smithfield Plantation House, an 18th century museum home in our region.  The restored, furnished home was decorated with period decorations for the Christmas season by one of the local garden clubs.  All of the decorations were for sale or through silent auction at the conclusion of this weekend.  The event was the Holiday Teas event, a conclusion to the touring season for the home.  The weekend relied heavily on the volunteers, as the decorations, the baked goods for the teas, servers, the interpretative tours, musicians, and craftsmen were all volunteer efforts.

This weekend, I was in the house spinning.  Because the drawing room was the location for the musicians, the lace maker, and hemp rope maker were in the downstairs bedroom and I set up in the dining room.  Being in one of the first rooms visited, I was able to listen to the historian talk about the local history, the house history, the Preston family, and the furnishings.


I had been very generously given a raw Dorset fleece by a friend and fellow Smithfield volunteer for me to work with.  I had never worked raw fleece before, so it was a learning opportunity for me too.



I took a bag of the dirty raw fleece with me to demonstrate where the process starts.  A hemp fiber bag of locks that I had washed was also taken, the locks were hand carded as needed and made into rolags and spun.


The room lit only by daylight through the two windows and with small electric candles for safety, I could only work until about 4:30 before it got too dark to see.  Many visitors there for the music or the teas stopped by to watch and listen to my discussion of the breeds, the fiber, and the process.  Today was cold and wet, but the visitors just kept coming.

We are so fortunate to have this home in our area and so many people who give of their time for the good of this venue.  I feel fortunate to have been given the chance to be a part of this educational and historical opportunity and look forward to help out during the private and school tours during the winter and again during the tour season beginning in April.

Merry Christmas to all

The pies were made, from our homegrown pumpkins, cranberries cooked with a bit of honey to sweeten them, cooked mustard made for the ham. Mountaingdad asks for it each year, a simple recipe really.
1/3 c sugar
1/4 c dry powdered mustard
2 beaten eggs
1/4 c vinegar ( I use raw cider vinegar)
1/4 c butter
Mix sugar and mustard in a small saucepan. Stir in beaten eggs and vinegar and mix well. Turn heat to low and add butter. Cook stirring  until mustard thickens. Store in the refrigerator. It will keep for a couple of weeks.


The roll dough mixed and stored in the refrigerator until this morning. Rolls to bake, turkey to roast, potatoes to mash. A late afternoon feast will be enjoyed.
Another tradition with our kids and carried on to grands is the reading by Mountaingdad of Clement C. Moore’s poem, “The Night Before Christmas,” which will be read over the phone or by Skype to the Florida family while we join in from the living room. Stockings will be hung and eager grandson put to bed.
Wishing my readers the most wonderful of holidays however you celebrate. Enjoy your family and friends.

Happy Chaos

Our household is in turmoil, but happy, giddy turmoil.  About a dozen years ago, our very young adult daughter left Virginia and moved to Florida.  The why is unimportant now as are all of the ensuing dozen years.  For a few years now, she and her family have longed to move back to Virginia, this time away from the coast and to the mountains near us.  Much has had to be done to allow this to happen and much still must be done for all of them all to be here, but daughter, two grandskiddos and the dog will be here before school starts up again after Christmas.  SIL will stay in their house and his jobs until they get a firm offer on the house and then he will transfer his job here as well.  For now, daughter and grandkiddos will live with us, and though we have the extra bedrooms in the house, we have been using most of both closets for storage.

Yesterday, in delighted anticipation, I tackled a major clean out and reorganization, finding items that we moved here 8 years ago and didn’t even remember having.  Large shopping bags were lined up in the hall and items I never use went into a bag for donation.  Party items that are rarely used were relocated by reorganizing the hutch, jelly cupboard, and kitchen cabinets to find places for it all.  One of the closets held the boxes of Christmas decorations.  When we moved in, they were stored in the basement, but when the basement finishing began, they moved to that closet and have stayed there.  The under-the-stairs closet in the basement was cleaned up and space made to store those boxes back down there, empty now of their decorations, but full after the holidays.  Dresser drawers that held seasonal linens were emptied, some of them stashed in another big plastic bin in the basement closet, others such as table cloths and napkins folded and stored in part of the hutch.  A shelf is going to be added to one of my base cabinets in the kitchen to allow for more organization.

Bags and boxes were donated yesterday and more will likely follow.  Closets and drawers are being made available.  Holiday decorations that were being neglected are being displayed.  Excitement is in the air.

We hope for a quick successful sale of their home so SIL can come up too, for a job opportunity that has evaded daughter in Florida will come up, that we will get to know those grandkiddos better than twice a year visits have allowed and we are grateful that all three of our children will be back in one state.

Yesterday and today have been perfect weather for working in the house.  The sky is like a dark curtain hanging over us, raining off and on for days now.  The creeks are roaring.


The chicken pen, having a slight downward slope from the gate has been treacherous to enter to let them out and close them up.  Though it is gray this morning, I uncovered one of the huge round bales of hay and threw down a layer from the gate to the pop door of the coop and a fresh layer in the coop.  This is always new entertainment for the chickens as they scratch through it looking for treats and spreading it farther and farther away from the gate, but at least I will be able to enter the pen without fear of falling.


Two days ago, we came home to find this…


half of the wood that Son#1 and I stacked in the snow at Thanksgiving had toppled.  I don’t know if something tried to climb it or if as he suggested, the ground thawed in the rain just enough to cause it to shift.  It has been much to wet to want to go out and re-stack it.  If we get a dry day, I may begin on it . . . or wait for him to come back at Christmas to help me.

For now, I must get back to household preparation to keep my excitement under control.  I booked a flight after Christmas to go down and help her drive back with the kids, the dog and a trailer of kids clothes, toys, sports gear and hopefully bicycles.  The rest of their goods will be moved upon sale of the house.

We May Be In For It

… This winter that is. It is still November and we experienced the coldest night this season with an even colder one due tonight.


This was 2 hours ago. The wind howled all night, yesterday’s rain turned to snow flurries during the night and everything was frosted this morning. It is bright and sunny, but there is no warmth in it. I failed to bring the chooks waterer in last night and it was frozen solid, fortunately there is a spare since there are currently no culls or meat chicks.
It is supposed to warm back to normal by early next week, so Son#1 may not have to wear everything he brings plus Mountaingdad’s barn coat to hunt next week. He is hoping to put a deer in the freezer to supplement the chickens for their winter meat. Their three student budget is tight so meat is a luxury for them. I don’t eat venison and Mountaingdad isn’t a big fan either, but we have the freezer space.
I’m hoping for tolerable weather on Saturday as we will drive two counties over to pick up our freshly killed and cleaned, pasture raised turkey for Thanksgiving. As I was making the menu and grocery list, I was pleased at how few items we must purchase between our garden’s produce from summer, last week’s Farmers’ market and our local turkey. Olives don’t grow here and I don’t have a cow for cream, nor do we have a cranberry bog, but the rest will be local, homegrown, and homemade.
Lovin’life on our mountain farm, even if it is frigid.