Hello dear friends! Hope this post finds you all well rested and contented. My! the days are shortening, aren't they? The other day it was pitch black at five in the afternoon. Now I understand the phrase, "make hay while the sun shines", because they're so many things that need to be done by the strong daylight, such as fine knitting and sewing (threading the needles), once the sun starts it's journey to the western horizon, those things have to be put away. This little cottage was built for keeping out the winds which it does admirably, but at the same time it shuts out a lot of the sun. I can understand why some people get depressed during this time of year, frankly, it can get a little gloomy. So to counteract the effect of long gray days, we decorate the inside and make a cozy little sanctuary for ourselves. This week I started to bring the winter decorations down from the attic. First, I set up a little woodland tableau on the mantle.
BLACK AND BLUE FRIDAY
On the other spectrum of our quiet country Christmas, there's Black Friday. To my friends in other parts of the world, Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, when the stores have sales to help make the final push for a profit. In the olden days, ledgers were kept with red and black ink. The red ink indicated that you were losing money and the black meant you had a profit, thus the term "Black Friday" means the store has turned from a losing year to a profitable one. Anyway, the people go nuts for these sales; camping out all hours in the cold to be the first in the doors and stampeding when the doors open. People have even been crushed to death. I wouldn't go near one if my life depended upon it. Fortunately, there are many offers over the internet and I don't have to leave home. I took advantage of the sale at Pinetree Gardens to get my seeds for the spring. They have the best prices for non-GMO heirloom seeds I've found. The sale isn't much, just 15% off your order and free shipping on $50 (who buys that many seeds?). Anyway, if you want to take advantage of that sale, it's still going on until midnight Sunday (the 29th) and the code is BlackFri15.
I also stocked up on vitamins and supplements at Swansons . They have some good deals. We use turmeric with pepper (everyone should) and I take cranberry tablets everyday. We also buy glucosamine for our dog. So that was our big excitement for the sales! Ha! By the way, I am not being compensated in any way for endorsing these companies. They are just two companies that I've found to have good prices and service.
BLAST FROM THE PAST
By the way, lest anyway shake their heads and mutter about Christmas being too commercial these days; it's been this way for a long time. One of my favorite things to do in during the Yuletide season is listen to old Christmas radio programs from the 30s and 40s on YouTube. Almost all the story lines center around how much to spend on gifts and who is giving what to whom. Some things never change!
Another "blast from the past" is making Russian tea mix for gift giving. I hope my dear Russian readers are getting a good laugh at this one! It was a popular winter drink in the 1960s. And it is nice and cozy, partly due to it's nostalgia. This is the sort of thing that passed as sophisticated and urbane way back when. Ha! We bottle up jars to put it in our Christmas hampers. It makes a lot! I would caution, though, the directions say to use two tablespoonfuls, but we only use one. Two is just too strong.
WASTE NOT, WANT NOT
Well, I'm at it again! The butcher had hamburg at it's reduced-for-quick-sale bin at $1.79/lb. Unfortunately, she only had a little less than a pound. So to make it the meat stretch into several meals, I added our stale bread, which had me thinking of all the ways you can use stale bread:
Add it to ground meat to make a meatloaf, of course.
Make a bread pudding.
Toast it with olive oil and herbs to make your own croutons.
Toast it and make your own breadcrumbs.
Make an impromptu stuffing by adding celery, onions and herbs.
Make French toast.
Make a hole in the middle and fry an egg in it for a cheap breakfast.
Use it as a thickener for soup.
Make toast points. (triangles of toasted bread)
No wonder Rachel Lynde told Anne Shirley that a sign of a good homemaker was seeing that there was no wasted bread in the breadbox!
THRIFTY MEAL OF THE WEEK
Toast points reminded me of a meal that was popular with the boys growing up.
Mount Clemens Rarebit
1/2 lb. American cheese
1/4 C. butter
2 C. canned kidney beans
2 med. green peppers, minced
Melt the cheese in a double boiler. Add the butter and when well-blended add the beans and green peppers. Serve over toast points.
We served this with a big green salad. I'm a big advocate of eating green leafies, daily.
I'm knitting mittens for the North Carolina grandchildren. They rarely get snow, but it's good to be ready. This is an old pattern from the 1940s and it knits up quickly, without a lot of nonsense.
size 2-4. Sizes 4-6 and 6-8 are in prenthesis.
2 oz of worsted weight (#4) wool.
size 2 and 4 double pointed knitting needles
Gauge: 5 stitches= 1 inch
With smaller needles cast on 28 sts. (32 sts. - 36 sts.)
Join and work in ribbing K2, P2 for 2 (2 1/2) inches.
Change to larger needles and knit plain for 3/4 (1) inch.
Slip next 4 (5-6) stitches to holder.
Cast on 4 (5-6) stitches.
Join and work and knit plain for 2 (2 1/4 - 2 1/2) inches
Decrease for tip:
K2, K 2 together. Repeat across round'
Knit 1 round.
Next round: K1, K 2 together for round.
Knit 1 round.
Next round: Knit 2 together across round.
Break yarn and leave a 7 inch end. Thread a tapestry needle with this end and run twice through the remaining stitches. Pull stitches together and fasten off on wrong side.
Pick up 4 (5-6) stitches from holder and 4 (5-6) stitches from cast on stitches.
Divide stitches on three needles (size 4) .
Work even for 3/4 (1 inch).
Knit 2 together across round.
Finish off as mitten tip.
Work other mitten the same way.
By rearranging the furniture we were able to fit my favorite chair in the woodstove room. Now I can sit by the fire and listening to old radio programs on the internet and knit. Heaven! The best thing we ever did was to get rid of our cable TV. I used to be quite a news junkie and would fret and worry about the world's woes. There was little I could do about the situations, but still it left me anxious. Until I stopped listening to the national broadcasts, I never realized how much propaganda there is on the news. Now, I just read several news sources from several countries, some liberal, some conservative, and I think I get a pretty picture of what's going on in the world. I say my prayers for those poor people that are in the middle of conflicts and those that are experiencing tragedies, then I leave it to God. Never been more at peace in my life.
THRIFTY THINGS WE DID THIS WEEK
Made meatloaf from reduced-for-quick-sale hamburg.
Bought our seeds for the spring at the Black Friday Sale
Stocked up on vitamins at another Black Friday Sale.
We've been trying to clean out the pantry, which makes for some interesting meals.
Made Russian tea mix for the Christmas hampers.
Restyled a $2 wreath from the thrift store and objects I had on hand to make a pretty wreath for the front door.
Made some window decorations from twigs we found in the yard.
Knitted mittens from yarn in my stash.
Heated our house with wood. The furnace has only come on once this season.
Cleaned out my closets for more clothes to be put aside for our annual garage sale. Some are going to charity too.
Played board games in the evening.
Mainly, just stayed in and did a lot of putzing.
SO that's it, again! I just wanted to tell you all, that when I count my blessing, every last one of you dear readers is among them! I so appreciate all your support. You know, I started this little blog long ago to help others, but I've discovered along the way that perhaps the person it has helped the most is myself. Your kindness has renewed my faith in the world! Hope you all have a beautiful, peaceful and cozy week.
Hugs to all!