Wednesday, December 23, 2015

"Friendlier with two"

I think it was Winnie the Pooh who said, "It's so much friendlier with two."  I knew what that meant when I cut and put up the Christmas tree by myself.  I did miss having my son help out.
I cut a small cedar tree in the yard, put it in a bucket of sand, and put it atop a small table in the living room.  I got the lights on the day I put the tree up, and I finished decorating the next day.  Darling son did put a little star ornament at the top for me.  (He didn't have to stand on anything to reach it.)

My sister gave me a swag, which I hung on the front porch.

I'm almost ready for Christmas.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Unusual weather

Once upon a time when I was a young woman, I rented a room from an elderly lady.  She was familiar with the scripture in which God promised Noah after the flood that "[w]hile the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease."  (Genesis 8:22.)  However, my landlady went beyond what was actually said and assumed that "the end" might be preceded by a little mixing up of the cold and heat and the summer and winter.  Whenever the weather varied from the norm, she would always say something to the effect of "It's unusual weather we've been having."  Left unsaid, but hanging heavy in the air, was the thought of what such unusual weather might portend.
I haven't extrapolated the same thing she did from that verse, but I will say, "It's unusual weather we've been having."

In fact, it's been warm enough that I've had the houseplants back on the porch...

 ...the mum is enjoying a second flush of blooms...
 ...and I have a crinkly blanket flower that managed to open up.
I also have another shiitake mushroom coming along.  I noticed it yesterday when I hung the clothes on the line.

We have a cold front coming in tonight or tomorrow, but I think things will be warming up next week again.  I'm actually enjoying the warmer than normal temperatures.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Louisburg College's DeHart Botanical Gardens

On my list of things to do this year, I put "visit the DeHart Botanical Gardens 15 times."  The year is coming to a close, I have a few more visits to get in, and today was perfect to be outside.  As I parked, I saw Mr. DeHart himself in the gazebo where visitors must register.  He and another gentleman (I assumed a representative from the college) were in a discussion of the trails.  I have noticed new posts going up along the trail, so I anticipate new signage along the trail.  Mr. DeHart noted I had brought my walking stick with me, and I told him that was in case I encountered any dogs...  "...or men," I added with a smile. 
I got in a good walk (and only encountered another lady).  In the woods, I breathed deeply, inhaling the scent of the fallen oak leaves.  I knew what Emily Dickinson meant by the phrase "inebriate of air."  I had my camera with me today, so I snapped pics of turtles, hollies, oaks, granite boulders, and mushrooms.  What a lovely place!




Monday, December 14, 2015

No pics of parade or park

I had a couple of nice outings this past weekend with nary a pic to show for it.  Friday I had a nice lunch with my friend Lea at Olive Garden.  We enjoyed a comforting chicken gnocchi soup with salad and breadsticks.  I always know I'm in a judgment-free zone with my friend Lea, so I enjoy talking to her.  After lunch, we went over to Joyner Park to see if there were any pecans left.  We did find some.  Then we sat on a bench and reminisced about our sons' days of homeschool basketball while we watched a humongous monstrosity of a kite.  From a web search, I surmise it was called a flowform kite.  The kite was like a black and white monster face with red eyes.  The tail tubes were striped with black and white rings.  It was a very dramatic sight, but I can't really imagine it being much more fun than the small size kite that you run like mad to get up in the air. 
(I'm thinking a little airplane-shaped kite I have in the shed (if I haven't thrown it away) was a flowform kite.  It was a small kite that never flew very well; it just wasn't balanced right and the nose always tended to point down.  It needed lots more wind to get up in the air.)
I have to mention the kite I had when my sister and I were at the beach with friends (once upon a time when I was young).  I was sailing my kite over the inland waterway back of the condo when the string broke or else the kite got away from me.  It's been so long since it happened, I don't remember that detail.   The kite landed in a strip of marsh grasses out in the water.  I talked some guys in a boat into fetching it for me.  (It didn't take much to talk them into it.  When you have a boat and free time, you do things just because you can!)  They came back with my kite and one guy asked, "Is this it?"
I thought to myself, "Man, that is the dumbest question I have ever heard."
He added, "There's lots of 'em out there."  Ah! That explained his question.
I think Lea and I should add "fly a kite" to our list of things to do next year.  In typical nonjudgmental fashion, she gave me permission to carry over till next year the things left on my list from this year. 

The other event I should have had my camera for was the local Christmas parade.  It was just the right size.  Fire trucks, a marching band, some floats, the Grinch, beauty queens, old cars, horses, motorcycles, ATV's, and good ole Santy Claus.  Son Caleb was on a float playing bluegrass music.  His friend Amy organized the float and fed the participants breakfast.  I'm assuming the Turnages provided the trailer because it advertised "Belinda's Pumpkins and Gourds."
I hope someone somewhere took a picture of the float.  If I come across one, I will put it on my blog.

Hope you had a nice weekend.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Blueberry foliage in sunlight

My blueberry bushes have lovely fall foliage.  Because the weather has been mild lately, their reddish leaves are lingering.  The morning sunlight shining through the leaves is a beautiful thing.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Apple/onion cream cheese appetizer

Somewhere along the line (a magazine, a cookbook?), I read that a chutney over a brick of cream cheese would make a quick and handy appetizer.  With that in mind, I came up with an appetizer that I sent with my son to a gathering.  He said it went over well.
Here is roughly what I did.  The key ingredient was a homemade apple/hot pepper jelly that had been given to my son a good while back. 
First, I sautéed in a little cooking oil over medium-low heat 1 chopped onion.  I cooked it for more that 20 minutes to develop a caramelized flavor.  Then I added 1 chopped McIntosh apple and 2 heaping TB. of apple/pepper jelly and heated till bubbly.  I cooled the mixture a bit before putting it in a container for travel.  At the dinner, my son assembled the appetizer by pouring it over a brick of Neuchatel cheese.  It was served with Townhouse crackers and Triscuit Thin Crisps.  It got good reports, and someone else took the leftovers home.
I've seen recipes lately calling for raspberry chipotle sauce or equal parts Rotel canned tomatoes and green chilis and raspberry jam over cream cheese.  That sounds good, but I never buy raspberry jam. 
Do you have a favorite jelly or chutney-cream cheese appetizer recipe?