Little Things

We did manage to spend a few hours celebrating Christmas with our Grandbabies, at Terra and Lare’s house. Luna drove to Terra’s house to visit her for a few days after Christmas, and we were invited for a Turkey Dinner. We had a lovely time, and the Grandbabies enjoyed the modest gifts we had for them.

My daughters are good mothers, the Grandbabies are such wonderful little people! Willow (5 months old) slept in my arms the whole time we were there. We see them so seldom that they change a lot between visits, Imp is insightful, Elf is full of technical information, Tink is imaginative, Sunny loves to repeat any word you can utter aloud, Sky loves trucks, and Willow is cuddly.

The first day of 2019 was blissfully uneventful.

I baked all day.

Mincemeat Squares, Apple Muffins, White Bread
Cooling: Mincemeat Squares, Apple Muffins, White Bread

I baked muffins, which were almost a disaster, but not quite. I forgot the sugar. The recipe only calls for two tablespoons of sugar, so little that you hardly notice when it isn’t included. But I do notice. These muffins are for Attila’s lunches on workdays, so I feel bad when I forget the sugar. This isn’t the first time either, I have forgotten the sugar many times. I am so focused on reducing sugar in my diet that it has become habitual to leave it out of recipes. But it is not appropriate to leave it out of Attila’s muffins!

Two measures were taken as a result of the forgotten sugar. The first was in the batch being baked. They were just put into the oven when I remembered I hadn’t added the sugar. So out they came immediately. Using a teaspoon I made a little hole in the middle of the batter for each muffin, and dropped a half a teaspoon of sugar into each hole. Then I returned them to the oven to bake. When they were baked and cooled, I tried one. Not bad, but still not quite as good as they would have been had I remembered to add the sugar to the batter itself.

The second measure was to move the sugar canister from its relatively obscure location beside the back door, to a more prominent location on the kitchen counter. Hopefully the in-my-face location of the sugar canister will remind me to add the sugar next time I bake muffins for Attila.

I baked Mincemeat Squares for dessert for New Year’s Day. I used my home canned Green Tomato Mincemeat. Oh my it was good!

I am on a special diet this week, starting today, no roughage. That means no whole wheat bread, seeds, nuts, vegetable peels, red meats, whole grains of any kind, that sort of thing. I can no longer tolerate store bought white bread. I just can’t eat it. All of the bread we buy is whole grain or rye, so that would not do. The solution was to bake a loaf of white bread. Oh my it is good!

Our New Year’s Dinner consisted of Roast Pork, Oven Roasted Potatoes, Blue Hubbard Squash, and corn. The Pork Roast was done in the Instant Pot. Oh my it was good! It is Attila’s all-time favourite meal.

Attila had a busy first day of the year as well. He continues to work on the garage. The wiring for the lights is now complete, and includes an electrical outlet for his power tools. It is now possible for him to work in the garage, rather than in the back yard on the grass as he has been doing since 2010. He also cleared the workbench, which has been piled to the ceiling with spare wood. Trim was installed around the eaves of the garage, where the winter wind was whistling through. There was even time to work on expanding the garden, using plain cardboard as mulch, topped with leaves.

Attila made Turkey Soup yesterday. It was his second batch. He made a batch last week with the carcass from our Christmas Turkey. Yesterday he made a batch from the turkey carcass leftover from Terra’s Christmas Turkey. Terra and Lares do not eat leftovers. They are very different from us.

This is our first winter with the new windows installed, and the additional insulation in the attic, and new roof on the garage. These changes have
altered the microclimate in the house. The old windows were far from airtight, particularly in the basement. One of the old windows in the basement had no glass, just nailed on boards, with a lot of gaps. When the furnace operated, the gap around the filter drew in fresh air, which entered unfettered around the basement windows. Fresh air can no longer freely enter the basement via the windows. As a result the gap at the filter was drawing air from the basement itself, we could smell the slightly musty aroma of the basement concrete floor every time the heat came on.

The air feeding the furnace needs to come to the furnace through the cold air return, not through the gap by the furnace filter. Our system has not been functioning as best it could. But until this winter the situation had not come to our attention. It would have eventually, but we have been busy with other projects here at Mist Cottage. However, this winter the smell has arrested our attention.

The solution, we hope, was to construct a duct tape flap over the gap around the furnace filter. When the furnace draws fresh air, the flap is suctioned tight to the gap, which in turn forces the furnace to draw fresh air from the cold air return ducts from the main floor of the house. It seems to be working well. It might even reduce our electricity bills (all of our heat is electric when the temperature is above -7C), and hopefully maintain a higher humidity on the main floor of the house during the winter months. By spring we will know if these benefits have been realize.

Worldly

Weather

-12°C
Date: 10:00 AM EST Wednesday 2 January 2019
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 103.0 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -11.7°C
Dew point: -17.0°C
Humidity: 65%
Wind: NE 13 km/h
Wind Chill: -18
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“A harbor, even if it is a little harbor, is a good thing… It takes something from the world, and has something to give in return.”
Sarah Orne Jewett
1849 – 1909


Last Day of 2018

“Happy New Year (Midnight Picnic)” by Inge Löök (b.1951 Finland)

They call it New Year’s Eve. It is so wonderful to share it with you.

Well, what a day. Reviewing the past 365 days has been a journey, it was a year of extremes. One year ago today I was experiencing one of the worst days of my life. 2017 ended and 2018 began with Attila telling me he no longer wanted to be married to me, or to live with me; that he didn’t want to think about me. Now, one year later, he tells me he wants to be married to me, and that he loves me, and that he loves our home. 2018 was a roller coaster of a year. Life is not the same for me now, now what it was. And yet I can say that some of the change has been welcome. It is a new relationship, this relationship with Attila. It is untested, familiar yet not familiar. I am skeptically optimistic.

So I am saying goodbye to 2018 with few regrets. It was a tough year.

Perhaps 2019 will be a kinder, gentler year for me. It certainly looks hopeful.

The world around Mist Cottage seems to have descended into madness. And yet good people hold strong, persevere, and hopefully, in the fullness of time, they will prevail. There is historic precedence for this.

All I know for sure is that I live in a little house, in a peaceful area of the world, with a man to whom I am married. I have enough to eat, I am warm in the winter, and comfortably cool in the summer. I have a comfortable bed to sleep in, a comfortable chair to sit in, clean water to drink, to cook with, and to bath with. I have known great love, suffered deep despair, felt the touch of the universe (some might say God), accepted the insignificance of myself, and the miracle that I am. There is much to be thankful for.

On this night on the edge of the old year, I listen to the rain rat-a-tatting on the metal roof, the wind battering the windows, and I am caught, something tugs at me. This something pulls me towards the kindnesses that have been gifted to me, the wonderful people with kind and compassionate hearts, who have shared parts of their lives with me, a sentence, a conversation, an afternoon, a small gesture, an embrace… I wonder if the universe takes this energy, that swirls around me, this something called affection and respect, gently into their lives. And then I realize that it is not my destiny to know where affection and kindness land, the universe will decide where it is needed most.

Worldly

Weather

WIND WARNING
2°C
Date: 8:00 PM EST Monday 31 December 2018
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 101.0 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 2.4°C
Dew point: 2.3°C
Humidity: 99%
Wind: E 12 km/h

Quote

“Love is the voice under all silences, the hope which has no opposite in fear; the strength so strong mere force is feebleness: the truth more first than sun, more last than star.”
E.E. Cummings
1894-1962

Thank you Patrick.


Blogmas Day 25: Merry Christmas!

Christmas morning is always an early morning for me. The early morning reverie is my time to remember loved ones who shared Christmases past, and to mourn the loss of innocence that continues to exist in the world. I often shed a few tears. I don’t share this time with anyone, but sit in the silent hours of early morning darkness, gazing at the gaily lit tree, honouring what was and is good.

Eventually daylight creeps into the room, heralding the morning. In the present tense I feel thankfulness for having a cozy home, good food, and someone to share it with.

Attila and I exchanged gifts, listening to Carols, our favourite is Pavarotti. Our gifts to each other are either food, or practical items. Attila got loppers from me, and I received canning and baking equipment from him. We will enjoy using our gifts!

We have spoken to Attila’s Mom this morning, she is spending Christmas morning on her own, with no plans, and I think she is feeling a little lonely. We had a nice chat. We live in different countries, and the distance is too far for visiting. Thank goodness for technology. Attila’s brother and his family live within a few blocks of his Mom; I feel a bit of disgust for a son who would leave his widowed mother sitting alone on Christmas Day.

I have been emailing and messaging my Mom and sisters this morning, another triumph of technological connections. All is well in their world.

We enjoyed a lovely breakfast here this morning. I seldom eat eggs, as they are high in cholesterol. I love eggs. So my special Christmas Breakfast was fried eggs on toast with mayonnaise, a sprinkling of black pepper, and a glass of cranberry juice. Attila had sausage and gravy with toast, and a glass of mango juice.

I have been eyeing the chocolate that Attila gave me for Christmas, but have been able to resist so far. He found Chocolate Drops for me, knowing that my Mom put them in my Christmas Stocking when I was a kid. Just one of those special little things.

Attila received an imported jar of canned sausages from me, and I believe those will slowly disappear over the next few weeks, as he conducts his midnight raids on the refrigerator. Most nights Attila arises at some point to eat, hunger wakes him up. He is a regular PAC-Man when it comes to food.

Christmas Day will pass quietly and peacefully here at Mist Cottage.

Peace and love and joy from my house to yours!

Worldly

Weather

-10°C
Date: 10:00 AM EST Tuesday 25 December 2018
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.9 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -10.2°C
Dew point: -13.6°C
Humidity: 76%
Wind: NNE 8 km/h
Wind Chill: -15
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“We only know of one duty, and that is to love.”
Albert Camus
1913 – 1960


Blogmas Day 24: Plenty

Today is a day of plenty.

My tummy bug seems to be on the mend, but I am being cautious about overeating, or overindulging in Christmas treats. So far, so good!

Attila is wrapping gifts for the grands, who we hope to see them sometime after Christmas. Attila is wrapping a gift for me. My gift for Attila is waiting to be wrapped. My Mom sent along a gift for me, and it sits under the tree. Although gift giving is important to us, it isn’t the main event as far as Christmas is concerned, we focus on food, and light in this, the darkest time of year.

I, in the meantime, have been busy baking goodies for my daughters, using the last of the Mincemeat we made when we lived in the country house. They like my homemade Mincemeat, so every Christmas I bake Mincemeat Squares for them to take home with them, and enjoy when the mood strikes. Next year they will be getting my Green Tomato Mincemeat, that I made this last autumn.

mincemeat squares
Two trays of Mincemeat Squares for Luna And Terra, and a wee one in the middle for us.

Early this morning I started to prepare a Christmas Pudding. I love Fruitcake and Christmas Pudding. I didn’t make Fruitcake this year, it needed to be started in September or October, when I was busily and happily canning. This year’s pudding will be steamed in the crock-pot for eight hours, and will be ready just in time for an after dinner treat tonight. I serve it with a Brown Sugar Sauce, which is homemade, of course. My Mom served Christmas pudding for dessert on Christmas Day, such a fond memory, one that I carry in my heart, the pudding is special beyond its delicious taste.

The Christmas Pudding, a modern version of “singing in the copper”,

We have plenty of goodies. Attila made Chocolate Chip Cookies on Saturday. He made Christmas Hermits on Sunday. I have to keep myself from overindulging.

I will be cooking Christmas Eve dinner, a roast of pork in the Instant Pot, one of Attila’s favourite meals. It will be accompanied by roasted potato wedges and green beans.

Tomorrow Attila will cook a Turkey Dinner with all the trimmings.

One thing that Attila and I share is a love of home cooked food, and Christmas is a perfect time of year to celebrate with food.

Wishing all who read this, peace, and joy, and love, and a special hug to anyone who is having a solo celebration.

Worldly

Weather

-5°C
Date: 2:00 PM EST Monday 24 December 2018
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 101.6 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: -4.7°C
Dew point: -6.3°C
Humidity: 89%
Wind: ENE 11 km/h
Wind Chill: -9
Visibility: 13 km

Quote

“The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be only the beginning.”
Ivy Baker Priest
1905 – 1975


Blogmas Day 23: Bug

Somehow I’ve caught a tummy bug, with accompanying cramps and chills. I have been bundled up under my crocheted blanket, cozy on my easy chair, all morning.

Another cloudy, dreary day out there. It is so warm and welcoming in Mist Cottage. When I am not feeling well I love the sounds the house makes. The ticking of the clock, the dull roar as the furnace fires up, the sound of the furnace fan as it blows warm air all over the place, and the muffled sounds of Attila’s activities, as he putters around doing his thing. There is snow on the ground here, and sounds out there are muffled and muted, barely perceptible.

I don’t like feeling ill, but it does slow one down enough to “smell the roses”.

Hoping this thing passes quickly, there is a lot of good eating coming up!

Worldly

Weather

-7°C
Date: 11:00 AM EST Sunday 23 December 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.2 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -6.5°C
Dew point: -9.7°C
Humidity: 78%
Wind: E 5 km/h
Wind Chill: -9
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“We can’t all be heroes because somebody has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.”
Will Rogers
1879 – 1935