Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Week 2008

It's been a really busy, fulfilling, happy and sometimes stressful Christmas week around here. So busy and rushed that I have fallen behind in my blog writing. I still don't have a lot of words to post right now, so I will share some of our Christmas experiences through the following photos. These only show a small portion of our Christmas holidays, but it does give you the highlights.

I also plan to share our Winter Solstice celebration with you too, but I will write about that some other time. First my Christmas week 2008, which was enjoyed in my favorite way, right here in my warm home in our beautiful and peaceful mountains, with my closest family and friends and my beloved pets all around me.

Cards from friends and family

Our Stockings hung with care ~ on the stereo cabinet, I have no mantle

Kitties and Chickens Stockings too...

Pinecone Decorations inspected & approved by Jessie

Cranberry Bread baked for gift baskets and snacking

Packages wrapped beautifully ~ Jack does great ribbon work. Bob does great bows.

And placed beneath the Christmas tree...

And quality inspected by Jessie

Christmas Morning ~ my Jessie is my Baby, and sooo cute...

Christmas Goodies ~ all homemade & delicious!

Dinner Table Setting ~ nothing very fancy, just colorful

Christmas Dinner ~ Beef Tri-Tip Roast, Green Salad, Roasted Potatoes, Fresh Cranberry Sauce

And homemade Cherry Pie with ice cream for dessert

Boys play with their trains

All is calm and all is bright...

We did have a White Christmas after all. Snow fell late on Christmas Eve and during Christmas Day to leave us with just a couple of inches on the ground and on our cars. Most of it melted away the next day, but it was beautiful to watch the fluffy flakes fall on Christmas. So peaceful. I love watching Mother Nature's artistry. Today was sunny, crisp and cold. We gathered together again last night to feast on leftovers, eat cookies and fudge, drink hot toddies and play with our new toys. We have all had colds these past few days (The hot toddies were medicinal) and have been doing our best to keep our energy up and remain in good spirits for each other. It's been a little stressful at times, but we are a close family and work everything out eventually.

This was another good Christmas around here, and it's really not over yet. Later today, Jack's son arrives to visit & celebrate with us for a few days, and we will be visiting Bob's daughter and son-in-law tonight too. All in all, a busy and full week for us here at Mountain Harvest Basket.

© Copyright 2008 Mountain Harvest Basket

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Still Cold Here

Yard Art Hen & Chick in the Snow~ where are the other 3 chicks?

It is still very cold here today. Much snow is still on the ground, at least in the shady places. No new snow for a few days, but very cold temps have kept the snow around and made the roads and driveways icy.

It's been so cold in fact, that I moved my remaining two old hens into my living room a couple of nights ago.

Hens in the House

I think they were getting a little frostbite happening on their combs and wattles. I brought them inside to warm them up and to observe them. They seemed fine the next day, so I moved them back outside after adding more straw to their nest boxes and replacing their light bulb (used for warmth) with a higher wattage one.

I heard a strange sound a few nights ago, and wondered if it was a bobcat or coyote. Then I found these tracks on the snow.

Animal Tracks

They look more like dog tracks than a bobcat or even coyote. I did also see a stray dog running around by my driveway that same day.

I have been staying mostly inside and keeping warm with my electric heaters or with a fire in my woodstove. Of course, these beautiful red roses helped to keep my heart warm.

Thank you for my roses, Bob.

With the cold weather, and me being more housebound, I've been baking more often this week too. I find that using the oven to bake something really helps to heat the cold house and also makes some delicious food too. I love that it serves two useful purposes at the same time.

More Cast Iron Skillet Cornbread ~ this time with whole wheat flour added

I also baked a nice apricot crisp last night. No photos. No crisp left either. Between me and the guys, it is long gone already!

Happy Winter to you! Winter Solstice is tomorrow. Celebrate by lighting a candle and thanking our Universe for the light, the warmth of the sun, and the seasons.

I am thankful for all of you.

© Copyright 2008 Mountain Harvest Basket

Monday, December 15, 2008

Let it Snow!

It started last night...around 7pm

and snow fell off and on, mostly on, all through the night. So far, it has accumulated to about 6 inches deep at my 3000 ft elevation. This is what it looked like around my place this morning:

Porch Railing doubles as "Snow Measurement Device"

Frosted California Redbud Tree

I probably won't be driving anywhere today...

Or sunbathing in my lounge chair either...Bbbrrrrr...

Not much sun present today to melt the snow off of the solar pathway lights

Oh well, it needed refilling anyway...

Won't be gardening today...too cold for that

Might watch some TV...this dish works even with the snow on it

Of course, I won't be doing much of anything if the electricity goes out as it frequently does this time of year. So I wanted to get this quick blog post up so that my faithful readers will know what's going on here in my world and know that I am still alive and kicking even if I haven't been posting much lately.

Almost time for Winter Solstice, but not quite.

Is it snowing where you are?

Bon Hiver & Happy Winter (a bit early) to you all!

© Copyright 2008 Mountain Harvest Basket

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Winter Green & Cornbread

Green Pumpkin & Parsley

It has been warm for several days and then cold at night, and now it is finally getting colder during the day and very cold at night. My porch thermometer reads 44 degrees F as I type this.

I plucked this last sweet little pie pumpkin from my garden about a week ago. I kept waiting for it to turn orange first, but I couldn't let it sit out there in the cold weather any longer. I brought it inside in the hopes that it would ripen indoors. It is doing just that, although very slowly. There are some flecks of orange on it and I placed him with his orange colored sisters hoping their ripeness would "rub off" a little on his green little self. There below is my whole pumpkin family for this season.

Small, sweet & tender pie pumpkins

So with the weather getting much colder now, I figured I'd better harvest the last little green bell pepper from my garden. I had left the plant in the ground due to the extended warm weather and because it had a pepper growing on it. It was fairly protected in my raised bed garden, blocked from cold north winds by the back wall of my house. The nights have been getting far too cold for a hot summer crop like bell peppers! Reports of temps in the 30's made me concerned that this little green pepper gem would shrivel up and be culinarily useless, so today I plucked it right off the plant and brought it inside with a brief stop on my porch for a photo op with her neighboring parsley plant.

Green Bell Pepper & Parsley Harvest

My parsley plants are still growing strong, and I bet if I protect them with a cold frame for the winter, they will last right through until spring and keep on producing for me. I use parsley in so many things, not just as a pretty garnish. I like to put a healthy handful in my green salads and I love to cook with it. It is very nutritious.

To change the subject slightly from green garden things to warm food for cold days, take a look at the nice cornbread I baked in my cast iron skillet a couple of weeks ago. I had never used this skillet for baking before, and I am very pleased with the results. The cornbread was delicious!

Delicious hot homemade cornbread

I just had to show it to you. Now I made myself hungry. I guess I should go make myself dinner now. No cornbread in the house though. Guess I'll make a sandwich...

© Copyright 2008 Mountain Harvest Basket