A Thanksgiving Tale

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The hazy golden dusk illuminated the sky behind their silhouettes in the cool evening air.  The cars stopped and the elegant family of deer crossed.  The leader had a staggering limp.  Yet the two does stayed at her flank and did not attempt to cross quickly or ahead of her.  The large buck, his antlers glorious and scenic against the autumn backdrop of mountains and sunset color, stayed back with the two infants as they gingerly crossed.

In the chaos of a grocery store I stood looking seriously at disposable pans when an elder gentleman approached softly.

“Are you going to make a turkey?” he asked.

I smiled at the man whose dark tilted eyes revealed close to a century of memories and Thanksgivings.  His wife had fallen, he said.  Thank the Lord she was home from the nursing home and rehab but she still couldn’t walk good.  And well, his hip was killing him but he thought he’d come out and get a few things.  A package of frozen hash browns and a plastic container of diced watermelon well out of season sat in his cart.  One of his children was going to bring them a Thanksgiving feast.

He pulled from his inner pocket a photograph of his son to show me.  Two photos, actually, side by side on a funeral program.  A handsome young man in a navy uniform and one of the young man as a joyful middle aged man.

“This is my boy,” he says.  “He got sick from the war and died.”  He didn’t elaborate.  He just folded the three year old paper and placed it back into his inner pocket.  “Once he died my wife and I went downhill.”

Now, the crowds in the aisles bustling with noisy carts and lines of folks faded as I watched him hobble away.

The family of deer safely crossed and nimbly flitted through the fencing.  They stood together grazing in the golden field.

May we all keep the spirit of Thanksgiving in our hearts tomorrow.  I am thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Secret Power of Gratitude

20171031_182428This is the time of year that we speak of gratitude.  Gratitude is a secret ingredient to a happy and content life.  Even if it seems like not one more thing could go wrong, simply sitting still with a cup of tea, the sun on one’s face, or even just with eyes closed, thinking of the things we are really grateful for changes the energy around us.  We exhale.  We smile.  We know it’s going to be alright.

20171012_111725Fear is the opposite of gratitude.  Fear is based on losing something.  If we just flip the wheel and see the things we do have, we can change our attitude, therefore our perception, therefore our life, and the feeling is contagious.

20171022_134338Every day for the next three weeks consciously do something to encourage gratitude.  Some ideas might be:

Call a relative you would like to visit with.

Make a huge pot of soup and invite neighbors or friends over.

Drink a green juice to help heal your body.

Write a poem about the sunrise.

Compliment a stranger.

Do something towards a dream or goal you have.

Put some money in a coffee can and start an emergency fund at home, little by little.

Do a twenty minute yoga video.

Meditate quietly on all the things you love about yourself.  About your life.  About your circumstances.  Allow yourself to grieve and then watch the grief fly off on an imaginary butterfly.  Allow peace to come back into your heart.  Smile.

Walk in nature.  Really, this does wonders!  Walk around the block even.  Get out and be near Mother Earth and the great vast sky, and the trees.  Laugh at squirrels.  Listen to your footsteps.

Write a letter, hug your loved ones, eat nourishing food, breathe deeply, watch the sunrise and sunset, turn off the news, stretch, smile, live.  Gratitude for our health, our loved ones, our life, our experiences, our time with those passed, food, shelter, clothing, animals, friends, candlelight, joy….all these things remember.

20171011_124929Whisper “thank you” often.

I am thankful for my readers.

Recipes Made Better

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A swirl of truffle oil or walnut oil on green beans is really quite nice.  Some toasted slivered almonds or walnuts dressed with truffle salt is delicious.  And a bit of blue cheese and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar  elevates the green bean casserole from cream of something to fresh amazing.

Recipes are developed to appeal to the average palate but if you want to take your dishes from average to extraordinary, it really only takes a few changes to make your guests take pause as they eat.

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Pumpkin bread calls for cinnamon, but what about adding other spices from pumpkin pie spice?  Instead of vegetable oil sub out vanilla olive oil…or orange olive oil.  Add a handful of chopped candied ginger or chocolate chips.  It doesn’t change the basic recipe at all.  Vanilla salt replaces ordinary salt.  This makes pretty amazing pumpkin bread.

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Combine sesame oil with orange oil to dress salad.  Use smoked salt on mashed potatoes.  Add a little New Mexican red chili to sweet potatoes.  The sweet marshmallows and the smoky chili is bliss.  Cream chives into the butter.  Or cinnamon.  Have fun!  Cooking is an exploration of the human palate, a sensual dance of sweet, sour, spice, umami, and savory, far from average.  And eating with loved ones is food for the soul.

Here’s to family, friends, gratitude, and dreams come true.  Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

 

 

 

New Year’s Part 4- Blessings

 

family picNow that we are geared up to release 2015 in a glass of champagne and have our 2016 hopes and dreams laid out we must take a moment to be grateful.  Goodness, I don’t know anyone that came away from 2015 unscathed.  Yikes, it was a doozy.  But there are reasons behind change, behind life.  We must take our lessons and see where they lead us all.  But we must always hang on to hope.  And hope comes in the form of 2016 today.  Take a moment and write down all the things you are grateful for while I jot down mine…

Mine filled a full page.  The opportunities, the love, the kids, marriage, health, family, friends, animals, shop, lessons learned, and memories made; riding in a small plane and communing with wild horses.  It was an interesting year.  Please share your dreams, ideas, and blessings in the comments if you wish.  See you next year!

Gratitude and Quarters

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The sun peeks over the horizon, as it does each day.  Its warm rays promise the beginnings of a good day.  My priorities change, and morph, as I ascend and descend on this current path.  Hoping the quarters hold out, not even enough money to put my beloved cat to sleep, who desperately needs to go to kitty heaven.  But we can see over the hill of this journey now.  Regular paychecks from Doug by the end of the next month and a busy store promises security soon, but right now it is slim pickins, Folks.  Ridiculously slim.  In the meantime we hold on with whitened knuckles and wait for the ride, and finances, to smooth out.

Simplicity and security wait in the corners of the coming month.  We sign the lease for our shop tomorrow.  We are moving into our next home this week.  Our life quietly moves forward with little holding onto us and images of sunrises and walks to the shop, a fire in the wood stove, dinners from a kitchen I have freedom in.  How I miss that.

The pieces of our life like seeds from a dandelion, fluffed into the air, settle and seed and become our new existence.  A place of family, friends, few belongings, good meals, delicious memories, valuable work, a bit of money to live on, cats lying in the sun as it warms our room and each day is a gift.

Through all these winding turns this summer, nay, the last year and a half, we have learned gratitude.  When you are missing things you had, what you have left, or what you can regain, hold a profound place of thankfulness.

Old and new customers are already calling in orders.  Gifts and encouragement from so many people keep us afloat.  We are back on track, temporary detour, thanks for staying with us!  My gratitude holds no limits.

Thanksgiving Traditions (and the search for a casserole)

Every year, for many years, our Thanksgiving morning looks the same.  Mama is up first making cinnamon rolls and coffee.  I then turn on the parade and one by one the sleepy house awakes.  Sitting in bathrobes and slippers we enjoy the sweet pastries and dark coffee and enjoy the floats, wave at the balloons on the screen, and anticipate the feast now wafting through the house.

Maryjane's hand print

Maryjane’s hand print

I always make the same meal served just after noon.  A traditional Thanksgiving feast with the mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes and marshmallows, stuffing, green bean casserole, rolls, cranberry sauce, and Tofurky.  We eat at noon and then head to a Christmas movie to start off our season.  An apple pie, pumpkin pie and eggnog greet us when we arrive back home after the film.

Thankful for Bret, Emily, and Maryjane

Thankful for Bret, Emily, and Maryjane

That night we go to the shop and decorate it so that Friday morning we open with bright and shiny window displays, an enchanted store filled with great sales.  The next day the tree comes up, the children put their ornaments on, and we create a winter wonderland throughout the house.

Thankful for Andrew and Megan

Thankful for Andrew and Megan

Traditions ground us.  They give us comfort and something to be excited for, something to count on.  But life changes, sometimes drastically, and part of life is going with the flow, making changes when necessary or deemed proper, and perhaps new traditions will unfold even more fun than the prior.

Thankful for Shyanne

Thankful for Shyanne

This year Andrew will be going to his girlfriend, Megan’s house for Thanksgiving dinner, Emily to Bret’s mom’s, and Shyanne, newly broken up, doesn’t know where she is going.  So, for us, I needed to accommodate rather than demand that they all be at my house.  So, I am doing Thanksgiving breakfast.  Then we can all go our own ways, Doug and I attending the movie by ourselves this year.  No shop to decorate.  The trees will go up before Thanksgiving and while I have everyone in the house at the same time Thanksgiving morning I will have them put their decorations on the tree.  Doug and I will decorate the house ourselves the rest of the weekend.  We were invited to go to Bret’s mom’s house for Thanksgiving dinner.  New traditions will unfold this year, hopefully bringing blessings and good memories.

Thankful for Doug

Thankful for Doug

Now, question to all of you out there.  I need a fool proof, easy, delicious, breakfast casserole to make Thanksgiving morning.  Somehow, I have none in my artillery.  So, kindly sound off and share your Thanksgiving traditions as well as your favorite breakfast casserole.

Thankful for Maryjane

Thankful for Maryjane

Thankfully yours, Katie

Twenty Letters

I have always been entranced with the beauty and childlike wonder of this time of year.  I start getting excited in September.  Autumn is our favorite season.  We are coming down from our whirlwind of farmer’s markets, closing up the gardens, and can see the fruits of our labor lining the walls of the root cellar.  We can settle in and enjoy the crisp smell of the air, the wood smoke from the neighbor’s stove, and bask in a little down time.

We are so thankful for our granddaughter, Maryjane!

We are so thankful for our granddaughter, Maryjane!

November rolls around and I start nesting. We tend to repairs that need to be done on the farm, projects like the craft room, and preparing for Thanksgiving.

But what we are really preparing for is Christmas.  Our hands down favorite time of year.  I am enthralled with the lights and how they make the whole world twinkle.  The music, and how jolly the sounds are.  How children’s classics like “Frosty the Snowman” are followed seamlessly with Andrea Bocelli’s “Ave Maria”.  Andy Williams brings me back to childhood records, and Bing Crosby will always be associated with my husband.  We love and watch Bing’s classic holiday movies and mimic him respectfully by singing his songs in our best smooth, deep voice followed by laughter.

Grammie needs to talk to Santa too!

Grammie needs to talk to Santa too!

The commercialism hasn’t bothered us as we have no desire to buy a million presents and we don’t need to receive a lot of things that take up space or that I have to dust.  Heaven forbid!  But useful things are adored.  Homesteading items, handmade items, things from the heart.  My favorite gifts are things that Kat gives me that were her grandmother’s.  Precious embroidered linens and aprons.  Nothing big.

So this year, we have arranged with most of our friends and family that we are giving all homemade or second hand gifts.  We hope to get a little of the red wine vinegar Rodney has been brewing this year, or something that Rod Sr. has carved, or some delicious Apple Butter from Aunt Jenny.

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We love Christmas because of the closeness that ensues.  We have dinners and try to show our affection throughout the year to our friends and family, but Christmas allows us to show how truly thankful we are for these people in our lives.  And no matter what one’s religious background is, it is a time of love and light and beauty, which makes this a magical time of year.

I also have a great love for Santa.  I love Doug’s beard.  Our daughters have turned it a little white over the years, hopefully it will turn completely white and we can have reindeer here at the farm and he can be the real Santa to the grandkids….oops, carried away.

Future farm animal?

Future farm animal?

Back to the thankfulness for friends and family.  We are giving simple gifts this year but on top of that I wanted to give something else.  A letter.  I want my closest folks to know what it is that draws me to them, how much they mean to me, and how thankful I am for them.  Twenty letters.

Starting at Doug’s family’s Hanukkah celebration December 1st through Christmas dinner at our house December 25th I will give those I love a heartfelt letter.

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I do hope that while writing Christmas cards, or sending gifts, or lighting the Menorah, that you make sure to let those around you know just what they mean to you.  Life and time are so finite, so quick, that there is no better time than now to express those things that linger in your heart.  And no better time than the magic of the holiday season.