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Wednesday, April 25, 2012


April is a long month up here on the the tip of a peninsula.  It isn't truly spring but it isn't really winter.  It's a neither here nor there month.  Too cold and windy to go out and dig in the garden, but the blue, blue skies tease us and we have a bit of wanderlust.  Indoors we are waiting impatiently for the day when we can retire the heavy insulated draperies and rehang the crisp white Cape Cods.  What a difference that will make when once again the rooms are filled with sunlight.

When we were out, I noticed the white trilliums on the edge of the forest.  They are always a good indication that the elusive morel mushroom is lurking about.  When I was a child, mushroom picking was part of our family's spring  ritual.  The entire family went; parents, grandparents, children and even babies. My grandfather was the best hunter.  He said he could smell them, which I could never figure out, since the smelled just like plain old dirt to me.  At the end of the day, we would have several grocery sacks full.  When I see how expensive they are in the store, all I can think of is the thousands of dollars worth we picked in my childhood.  Once home with our bounty, my mother would fry them in butter and we would have them on toast for dinner.  The rest were frozen for use throughout the year.  Even as a child, there was great satisfaction in knowing that you had contributed in a small way to our family's  budget.

Now days, I buy my mushrooms from the mushroom farm.  They always have nice sackfuls for a good price.  We dehydrate them and pack in those vacuum packed packages.  Dehydrating and drying is something I plan to do more this year.  And less canning.  The peppers that I diced and dried are still better than any of the fresh peppers I can purchase at the grocers.  And the tomatoes taste just like they did fresh.  Plus the dried ones take up a lot less space.  A whole bushel full condensed down to a few canning jars.

Taking stock of the pantry is one of the April activities here at Sweet Briar Cottage.  There are some things that I've discovered are useless to can, like asparagus.  Asparagus is just one of those things that is to be enjoyed while in season.  Ditto for rhubarb.  A rhubarb pie in December just doesn't taste right.  Rhubarb and asparagus belong to the spring.  There are some things that I cannot can enough of.  Spaghetti sauce never lasts until we can make more, no matter how much I can.  And I've discovered that the chili that I experimented with when I was trying to use up the last of the peppers and tomatoes was a big hit.  I can it in pint sized jars and my husband loves it for a snack in the evening.  Why not?  With all it's tomatoes and peppers, it's a lot healthier then chips and dip. 

So that's it for the month of April here at our little abode.  Not much new to report.  I've been knitting lots of socks, using up my yarn stash, but they are just plain old socks and not really anything remarkable.  Everyone will be receiving a pair this Christmas.  Or maybe a couple pairs!  Next month brings gardening, and repainting the porch.  I'm thinking about doing a splatter pattern on the decking.  Always looking forward to what lies around the bend!

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Hello everyone!   Thank you so much to all that left or e-mailed get-well wishes.  Mere words cannot express how much it meant to me.   Well, for the most part I'm all better now, although my legs are still as shaky as a fawn, newly born.  Doesn't take much for a body to fall into disrepair does it?  Must say I was very economical in both time and money with being sick.  One little vial of pills costing less than five dollars cured three different illnesses in one week.  You know, I'm a foolish old woman, stubbornly holding onto the belief that if I can just ignore being sick it will go away.   Wasted five days of life, just lying  about alternating between chills and fever, expecting to get better.  It wasn't until Ran threatened to hog-tie me and drag me to the doctor that I agreed to go.  Once I got one of those little miracles called anti-biotics into my system it wasn't long until I felt better.  So if you are like me, and would rather be on a forced march to Burma than go to the doctors, I hope my little confession here helps you to see that doctors can be helpful.  Sometimes you have to humble yourself and ask for help.  And that's not just help from doctors either! If you catch my drift here, whilst I'm trying not to sound too preachy.

Anyhow, I am finally able to get outside and walk about a bit.   The apple orchard is in all of it's glory at the moment.  There's something so calming about an old orchard with bent and lichen-spotted trees.  A connection to the past.  Always reminds me of this quote:

We plant trees not for ourselves, but for future generations.
-- Caecilius Statius

Martin Luther said if he knew he had only one day left to live he would plant a tree.  Makes  my answer about eating cake seem pretty shallow!  But then, I could never hope to be as virtuous as Mr. Luther.

 While I was on my walk-about, a flock (?) of Monarch butterflies flew up as I passed.  They were feasting on the ground ivy which is blossoming at the moment.   I hesitated to write this, as it really does sound like something out of fairy tale.  Who has butterflies rising up to greet them?  Or deer sunbathing in their front yards?   Or snow geese flying overhead, daily?   Or a nesting robin tame enough to feed strawberries? Perhaps you think the next thing I will tell you is that little bluebirds help me dress each morning?  But the truth of the matter is anyone can live an enchanted life.   It's just a matter of really taking the time to notice the little things.  Something anyone can do anywhere.  For instance,  these long-legged tulips that grow on the side of my house are some old variety that have been blooming for many decades.  Because they are so long stemmed, the slightest  breeze will cause them to sway.  Every time  I pull into the driveway, it makes me smile because they look like they are waving "hello" to me.  How many people pass them without even noticing them?    While I was  abed, the moon was shining in my window.  It was so close, so large, so bright, that it seemed like it was near enough to touch if I were to reach through the window.  The enchanted life is out there like that big ole pumpkin moon.  We just need to reach out and grasp it!  Keep that child-like sense of wonderment even if we have very un-child-like burdens in life. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Hello everyone!  First I'd like to thank all that left well wishes and offered prayers in the previous post.  In world were the news has become ever alarming, it is so good to know that there are kind and gentle-hearted people still on this Earth.  You'll never know how much it means to me.

Now to get to the gist of this post.  This week being Easter, eggs are the lost leaders in many grocery stores.  So now is the time to plan a few meals around them and to stock up.  Did you know that you can freeze eggs?  Just lightly beat them to break up the yolk and pour them into ice cube trays and freeze.  Defrost in the refrigerator.  They last for six months in the freezer.  Since I'm a vegan and rarely bake these days (although I love to), I take advantage of the low prices and buy low.

Which leads me to my next point.  Never berate yourself by calling yourself "only a housewife".  Besides being a caregiver, nurse, chef, decorator, bookkeeper and economist, you are also a commodities trader when you buy low, such as these eggs.  Only you don't sell high, you eat well, and the commodities you invest in are groceries and clothing rather than oil and precious metals! 

There's many ways to prepare eggs; deviled, in a quiche, in an omelet, made into sandwich filling, or how about a plain old meal of eggs?  One of my favorite meals used to be an egg, sunny-side up with a piece of toast and a side of sliced tomatoes fresh from the garden.  Now if you can get farm fresh eggs and a loaf of homemade bread, why it's a meal fit for a king!

Now I'd like to direct you to the picture in this post.  I love Christmas cacti.   They are so reliable.  Well, when I was in the garden center of the Wal-Mart dreaming about spring, I spied these spring cacti.  Had to have one!  As you can see, the regular old Christmas cactus is in bloom too.  They are make a home so cheerful and inexpensive too, especially if you buy them the day after Christmas.
I have to admit that Easter is not a holiday that I spend a lot of time planning for in a celebratory manner.  For me it is more of a time to turn introspective. I think about the sacrifices that our Lord had to make for us and it saddens me that we are not more appreciative.  Is that strange?  However I always manage to have guest expecting something nice for lunch.  My standby  thrifty Easter meal has always been scalloped potatoes with ham, a nice big tossed salad, rolls and a jello salad.  I used to make the jello salads in individual molds.  The boys got a kick out of them when they were small.  To this day, whenever I see those little molds, it always brings back happy memories of little boys and family gatherings.  We never could afford a whole ham back then even if they were on sale, hence the scalloped potatoes and ham.  It only takes one of those ham steaks to feed a crowd.  For dessert we either had lemon meringue pie or strawberry rhubarb if it was up far enough to harvest a few stalks.  One other thing we had was a coconut orange coffeecake from Hamilton's Bakery if we had the funds and the good fortune to purchase one before they were sold out.  Now that we no longer live near by we have to rely on these muffins to get our  orange/sweets fix:

Orange Nut Muffins

1 2/3 C. flour
1/2 C. sugar
1 tsp.  baking soda
1/8 tsp. baking powder
1 egg
1/2 C. buttermilk
1/3 C. frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1/3 C. butter, melted
1/3 C. chopped nuts

Combine the dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl, combine the egg, buttermilk, concentrate, and butter.  Make a well into the center of the dry ingredients and add the egg/ buttermilk mixture.  Stir until just moistened.  Fold in the nuts.  Fill 12 muffin cups 2/3 full with batter.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.  Remove from pans.  Cool slightly and ice.


1/2 C. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. orange zest
orange juice

Combine powdered sugar. zest and enough orange juice to make a glaze of drizzling consistency.  Drizzle over muffins.

I hope that you will all have a blessed and restful Easter surrounded by loved ones!

Love, Jane

Monday, April 2, 2012


I always display family pictures on the top of my bookcase in the living room.  Well, I'm going to need a bigger bookcase!  A few weeks back my son Erik called to tell me that my daughter-in-law Erin is expecting!  Last year I wrote that they were expecting, but sadly Erin had a miscarriage.  After a couple more failed attempts it looks like all is well!  She has passed the crucial first trimester and the doctor says all looks well.  She even said that she was going out to buy some new clothes as her's were getting too tight.  So, if you would please keep them in your prayers, it would be much appreciated.

Now, if that wasn't enough good news, this weekend my granddaughter called (she's the cute one in the purple tiara) and said her mommy is going to have a little baby!  Yes, that's right!  We're expecting two grandchildren this fall.  My cup runneth over!  Just wanted to share this bit of joyous news with you all, dear friends.  I'm knitting a very cozy baby bunting.  Looks like I'll have to knit another!  Should have it finished this week and will post pictures when I do.