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Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Oh dear!  What a week we are having here at Sweet Briar Cottage.  I do believe some little gremlins have taken up residence.  The week started out with me noticing a small leak in our boiler.  Some small leak!  We ended up replacing the entire heating system.  Then in the middle of doing the laundry the washing machine just up and quit.  Followed by the vacuum cleaner.  Now I understand what it is like to live in the golden olden days before the advent of modern technology.  I can tell you that even though it sounds romantic to sit by the fireside, it's another thing entirely to live by heating your home the old-fashioned way.  Give me central heating any day.  And now I can truly appreciate what wonderful machines washers and vacuum cleaners are.  How did people keep their homes clean before them?  Probably didn't have corgis for pets, that's for sure! It's also a good reminder that an emergency fund is a very nice thing indeed.  Otherwise, you would have to add heart attack to list of mishaps when Jake, the plumber, told me the amount for the new boiler!  I love my plumber!  He's the only contractor that I've ever hired that does his work without a lot of drama.  BTW, had to fire my siding contractor this month too.  Just was not getting the job done.  So unfortunately, there won't be any pictures posted of my "new" cute gray shingled cottage.  So here's our "central" heating for the present:

Glad we decided to install this little woodstove this past spring, even if I had to give up my pretty little pantry for it.  Well, on the bright side, the cold house was a good excuse to can up my carrots.  Canning really heats up a house! So you see there's always a silver lining to those gray (is it grey or gray?) clouds.Actually there's several, the other boiler was a real lemon, so it will be nice to have a reliable one, the vacuum was really heavy, so it was nice to replace it with a lighter one.  And it is nice to toast your toes next to the fire in the evening! Especially if you can have a spot of tea or cocoa and something nice like this pumpkin bread:

Pumpkin Tea Loaf

1 3/4 C. flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cloves
1 1/3 C. sugar
1/3 C. oil
2 eggs
1 C. pumpkin puree
1/3 C. water
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 C. chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)
1/3 C. raisins or chopped dates (we prefer the dates)

Sift the first six dry ingredients together.  Beat oil and sugar until light and fluffy.  Then beat in the pumpkin.  Alternate adding the dry ingredients  and the water and vanilla.  Mixing well.  Fold in the nuts and raisins/dates.  Pour into a greased loaf pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean (as if I have to tell you that!).

Speaking of pumpkins, if you can have the kiddies hold off carving theirs until the day of Halloween, they will stay fresh enough so that you can then take it inside after the trick or treating and roast it to get a nice puree  to freeze for your Thanksgiving pie.  Of course the day after Halloween is a good time to purchase pumpkins for canning and freezing, as they usually go on sale.

I wish I were young enough to go trick or treating!  What fun it was to get dressed up in some outlandish costume.  The treats were never much of a treat when I was a girl;  usually  peanut butter kisses and popcorn balls with some candy corn thrown in for good measure.  No, what I loved about Halloween was walking about in the dark, crunching through the piles of leaves, and just being free from parental constraints.  What a jolly good time my friends and I had!

We usually ended the evening with a walk through the cemetery (I lived next door to it), and it was a good spooky one too.  Several blocks square with a pointy wrought iron fence, lots of lichen covered headstones, massive old elms and a huge mausoleum  in the center of it.  It had glass doors so that you could look in on it.  Oh!  the wonderful ghost stories my oldest sister told me about that!  Spent many a night sleeping with the lights on thanks to her stories.  She was a master of the macabre.  Although we hoped to encounter a ghost, we never did, but the many bats that kept house in the  trees gave us a good scare.  Of course, this was long before the world got so crazy and people started thinking it was fun to vandalize cemeteries.  So  if we don't meet again before the 31st, remember to keep a lookout "er the gobble-uns 'll git ya, ef you DON'T WATCH OUT!".


  1. Yikes, the gremlins were at work! Glad you got your new heating system in, your wood stove does look like it would be cozy. How wonderful that you have Corgi's, yes, with my two black labs a vacuum cleaner is essential! My washer nearly went out last week, the motor stopped running, but the next day it must have cooled down, because it started working again- although I am doing half sized loads just to be sure I don't overwork it (fingers crossed). Your childhood Halloweens sounds wonderful, I would love to visit a cemetery like that, the mausoleum sounds fascinating! I have copied down your recipe and will be making it today, sounds wonderful (I love dates) for my afternoon tea & I'm sure the kids will enjoy it- the weather here turned quite frosty cold last night and I feel the need to bake something nice and warm. Happy Halloween Week :)

  2. Hi Jane, sorry to hear about all the appliance malfunctions! We had that happen to us too, not long ago. It seems like certain household things only last about 10 years at most now, and since we always purchase everything around the same time, they tend to all break around the same time. We replaced our whole air conditioning/heating system this past summer and got new water heaters, dishwasher and kitchen plumbing. I hope you get your siding issues settled before winter sets in.

    Thank you for the pumpkin tea loaf recipe! It sounds wonderful. I went to the County Fair this past weekend and had such a good time. I think the highlight for me was getting to tour the original farm house that was on the property of the fairgrounds in the 1880's.

    It is all restored, and it was so interesting to see how everyone lived. They sure must have been strong and hardy people! The farm house was made of hand cut pine logs. I also saw a grist mill and black smith exhibit and toured the knitting and crocheting display. I think I may enter something next year. It looks like it would be a lot of fun and I took a fair book with all the directions of how to enter and all of the categories.

    We ran into all of our neighbors, which made it really special for an ex-city girl like me. The fair had a real homey, neighborly feeling to it, everyone was happy, and relaxed. They also had some beautiful animals on display and many were being raised by children from the local 4H club.I got such a kick out of watching all the children and their curiosity and the innocent wonder at all the lights and swirling carnival rides. I hope you have a nice evening ahead! Delisa ;)

  3. Hi April! Yep, you got to baby the washer along. Of course, you know that once it starts to go, its demise is inevitable. :( We had a pretty wonderful childhood. We experienced benign neglect, some would say. Most of our fathers sailed so they were gone for a good portion of the time and our mothers were busy being single parents so we were allowed to run around like wild ones. Of course, under the watchful eye of gossipy old neighbors! Probably was a good thing it certainly instilled a sense of independence and fearlessness.

    Hi Delisa! That's the way it goes. When it rains, it pours. Oh well! Easy come, easy go! You should enter the fair. I'm sure you'd win a blue ribbon for your beautiful knitting. When I was in junior high, I used to enter all the fairs (for baking, not knitting). We were required to for 4-H. But it was fun, and I know it's boastful, but I won quite a few blue ribbons. Wish I would have kept them, it would be fun to hang them in my kitchen. Been a long time since I went to a fair. Sound like your venture was like something out of that movie, State Fair! Glad you had a good time!

  4. Okay... So I know where the number three in my world went! To YOUR House! What is it about washers this week??

    I always loved Halloween, too! Dressing up... candy... running with my friends... candy... scaring each other ... candy... Oh yea... fun times!

    Myabe you should dress up to meet your trick or treaters??

  5. Dear Jane,

    Oh dear, things certainly have a way of going out at the same time, don't they? It's almost uncanny! Thank heavens you have the stove to fall back on, and isn't it amazing how grateful you become when you have to go without for a while? It's as if Someone knew we needed it! ;)

    Here's hoping that everything stays up and running now.



    p.s. The pumpkin bread looks super yummy; I'll have to use it when we butcher our pumpkins.

  6. I've never cooked a pumpkin for baking. (It's so easy to grab a can off the grocery shelf.) But my daughter-in-law brought me a loaf of pumpkin bread made with her own cooked pumpkin and it was WONDERFUL. Still not sure I'll give up my Libby's at this point but I can see where it would really make a better tasting baked good.

    A question Jane - If you didn't can your carrots, how long would fresh garden carrots last? I don't can but I sure love carrots from the garden - wonder if its worth buying some for storing.

  7. Hi Matty! So what do you think about candy? :) Hope you get to have some of those "fun" sized chocolates. Why do they call them fun sized? I think a one pound chocolate bar would be a lot more fun!

    Morning Marqueta! I'm certainly glad He prompted me to install that woodstove. I was dragging my feet about doing it for a couple of years. Be careful when you "butcher" your pumpkins!

  8. Hi Sandy! The one thing about your own pumpkin is that it isn't that dark orange color that we all think of as pumpkin. Wonder what kind of pumpkins Libby uses? Carrots will keep all winter and into spring if they are kept cold and moist. In the olden days, they would store them in the cellar packed in wet sawdust or sand. Or sometimes kept right in the garden with a thick mulch over them. You could try wrapping the carrots in wet paper toweling or newspaper and placing them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. (this is a good way to store any carrots) Because carrots are so fibrous, they last quite a while. Even when they become a bit wizened they are still good for soups and stews. Discard if you see any mold growing on them. I just can mine because I like the convenience of having cubed pre-cooked carrots for tossing into pot pies and stir frys. Also tried drying some as my blogging buddy Regina suggested. They'll be good for soups.

  9. °º♪♫
    º° ✿♫ ♪♫°
    Olá, amiga!
    Passei para uma visitinha...
    Bom fim de semana!
    º° ✿♫ ♪♫°

  10. That's not funny, all these defects! I like the wood stove, never seen here. We have central heating and I'm agree with you: really fine/good. But if there are defects in the system, we can not heat our home because we only have a small electric heater. (Just enough to heat a small room.)

    Great recipe, thank you. And in answer to your question in your comment on my blog: Yes, it is a seasonal specialty that Dutch cookies. We eat them only around st. Nicholas in December. But the gingerbread cookies are already on sale in November.
    Greetings from here.

  11. Olá Caro inez! Como é o gal bela fromBrazil neste fim de semana lindo?

    Hello Jedidja! Well a person has to laugh at life. I guess all those problems keep us from squandering our money on something really foolish like a cruise or a new car! I found a recipe in an old cookbook from Holland Michigan. Do you know we have a lot of Dutch folks in the area. My husband actually works with a lot of people that speak Dutch (or is Flemish? my ignorance is astounding sometimes, even to me!). Anyway, the cookbook is from 1928 and has a recipe for gingernuts. I love spicy things, so that is one tradition I would be glad to adopt!

  12. dear jane
    sorry to hear about all defects. we have underfloor heating and a woodstove. i love your new woodstove. the recipe sounds wonderful.thanks for sharing. i hope you are doing well.
    i wish you a happy halloween and a nice week,
    love regina

  13. Hello Regina! That's why I'm always encouraging everyone to plan for an emergency. Then these types of things aren't nearly as upsetting as they could be. How's everything over in your part of the world? Is it getting cold? We've had a heavy frost and even a few snowflakes. Soon it will be time to hibernate!