Friday, December 28, 2018

Nifty gifties

Since I enjoy what others share, I'm overcoming my awkwardness about "showing off" gifts to share my highlights from this Christmas season.

A close friend got me this Carhartt sweatshirt and embellished it. When I put it on Christmas night, it was so soft and cozy that I didn't want to take it off!

Besides making the gate and nest-boxes, my guys have me great, useful gifts. My work-issued FitBit died (several of them, actually; I went through all the ones no longer being used), so I asked for a new one. Rick got that for me and Brian got me a 32oz. HydroFlask:
I'm not sure anyone knows me better than some blogpals, or shows more love. Who else would know how much fiber/spinning and yarn/knitting, and sheep and horses and chickens mean to me?

Sisters are pretty special, too. My sister turned me to on to Penzeys Spices this year, which was a blessing in and of itself, and then gifted me some. She also got me a handthrown mug and saucer, perfect for work.

A dear friend who has seen me through thick and thin for over 20 years gave me a most appropriate plaque:

After work on Wednesday, I stopped by a favorite shop and scored some Christmas gifts for next year, plus a new ornament for myself (getting a little use until we take down our Christmas tree):
I was also inspired by these star ornaments made out of cabled fabric:
I'm going to keep my eyes open for cabled sweaters at second-hand stores to make some for myself!

Finally, the award for best new recipe goes to . . . Rosemary Slices.
A friend gave me this recipe probably a year ago. It was finally pressed into use this season because I wanted several distinct tastes for my cookie trays (which never got assembled). I have four rosemary bushes that need serious pruning, but I hate the thought of throwing away 'food.' I think I may be making a LOT of these buttery treats from now on!

That's a wrap for Christmas 2018 from . . .

Christmas church service

The Sabbath before Christmas – as always – was our congregation's Christmas service. (We don't eschew celebrating Christmas because of it's origins, but neither do we revere it just because it 'converted' to Christianity; therefore we celebrate on the Sabbath of the Lord and not on the actual eve or 'holy day.') After church, and dinner at home, we headed to the Wheatland Ferry. Parking our car, we rode the ferry over the Willamette River on foot, then enjoyed a walk through Willamette Mission State Park. The sky was grey and didn't give up much light, but it didn't give up much moisture, either, thankfully. Rick took his 'big boy' camera and lens and I had my iPhone; together we got some nice pictures along with exercise and family time.

But back to the church service. Our youth leaders, their adopted daughter, and another young lady had an interesting story to tell. Very recently they had learned of a short term mission trip coming up this spring, but pretty much dismissed it because of cost. The husband did say, perhaps facetiously, that if someone gave them $2000 they'd go; the next day they learned that a sponsor was willing to cover the $1900 cost for their daughter to go. Shortly after that, they were notified that another sponsor was willing to give $500 towards the young lady's cost. The couple took the hint, sent in their applications, and let the congregation know that they would be doing some fundraising – as well as putting out a final call should anyone want to join them. I immediately thought of Brian.

My parents have talked about taking Brian with them on a mission trip with them for years, but life has conspired to limit their availability to do that since Brian has been old enough. That afternoon I sent a tentative email to my parents, just in case they might want to help sponsor him. My mom called within minutes with an enthusiastic "Absolutely!" With an application deadline of December 26, though, things had to happen quickly. Brian wrote the requisite short (surprisingly encouraging!) essay about why he wanted to go, we got the application filled out with necessary signatures and faxed it in. Now we wait to see if it is accepted, and pray that it is a positive, life-changing experience.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas!

I know, I know; it's all over but the dieting. But I do hope you had a happy one!

Actually, there wasn't too much over-indulging here. Rick is sticking pretty close to his diet, and Brian and I both have bad colds. I have five tins of cookies sitting on the counter that I intended to make up into gift plates for neighbors, but I was feeling too puny Sunday and Monday to follow through on that intention. (Plus I didn't really think anyone would appreciate me bringing the germs to their door.) Still, the three of us had a lovely little Christmas Eve dinner before opening our gifts, followed by a late, lazy Christmas morning. Once up, I finished preparing the dishes we were contributing to a small group Christmas dinner at church, including these butter horn rolls:
It can be frustrating and disappointing that after 34+ years of marriage (and 3+ years of dating before that), Rick and I have never settled on any holiday traditions of our own. I guess you could say we grew up with very different family traditions, and never the twain shall meet. But this year aligned more with the way I grew up, and it was sweet and quiet and satisfying – even Rick seemed at peace with it.

Christmas Eve day was supposed to be wet. But it was still just foggy in the morning when Rick left to check a patient and Brian was still sleeping in, so I jumped on my mustang for his daily constitutional.

That took my available energy so I laid down for a few minutes. Someone joined me....

Once we were all back up and at 'em, I worked in the kitchen while the guys worked in the garage. Rick built a gate for the access between the yard and the middle pasture (we've been 'making do' there for years), while Brian built a new set of nest boxes (the old ones had an enclosed space that was being utilized as a mouse condo). I guess my baking and cooking was one of my gifts to them, and their construction projects were part of their gifts to me!

We enjoyed a festive little feast for Christmas Eve,
including some picked golden beets a friend had brought earlier in the day, and then opened our presents.

We keep gifting pretty modest among ourselves and family, but everything is meaningful and thoughtfully chosen. (Blogpals can hit that 'meaningful and thoughtfully chosen' nail even more squarely on the head, perhaps because we have so many shared interests and passions. I'll just say am blessed far more than I deserve!) I also got Jackson and Dozer a gift. A good friend recommended Bark Nuggets after using them on her dogs, so I invested in some to see if it helps our boys with their aging aches and pains. They give Bark Nuggets four eight thumbs paws up!

Christmas Day has been sunny and dry, relaxed and enjoyable – another gift.

After we got back from our small group Christmas dinner, I rode Lance again, this time in the arena by the light of one shining 'star':
So that was our Christmas. The spiritual side of our celebration occurred on Sabbath, but I'll share that in another post.

And to all a good night, from . . .

Friday, December 21, 2018

No bleak mid-winter here!

Today may have been the shortest day of the year, but we were blessed with pale sunshine, bracketed by subtle sun-up and sundown colors.

I took the moonrise shot from horseback in the arena, while three black-tail does grazed in our lower pasture.

Tonight all three of us went on a walk in the bright moonlight, although my cranky knees limited me to two miles. Not sure what to do about that, except to remember to have an Aleve on board before we go. I sure am proud of my honey for staying faithful so far to his daily exercise regimen!

This morning I finished a book I bought for myself earlier this year, after following the author's blog for quite some time. I finally started it last Sunday on our road trip to Walla Walla and then, of course, didn't want to put it down. That's my problem with good books – they suck me in, and it's hard to drag myself back into the reality in which I must function. I slalom back and forth between the 'book world' and my own until I – reluctantly – read the final page. (The coaster was a Christmas gift, and held my hot drink while I read.)

We're coasting into a quiet Christmas. We'll have a special Christmas service at church tomorrow; Sunday I'm going to bake cookies and figure out the next two days' menu. I need to make time to drive over a see a friend who is only in town a few days, and keep knitting on a Baby Surprise Jacket for a baby that's due next month.

Today when I turned the ewes out in the pasture, Vienna stood at the fence closest to my ram and baa-ed repeatedly. I was very tempted to set up an afternoon tryst in the Ram-ada Inn for her and Blake, but realizing that lambing would occur around Memorial Day weekend when we usually go horse-camping stayed my hand. It will be another lambless spring at . . .

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Faded glory and fresh-faced youth

These orchid blossoms illustrate the reality of our household.

Well, I don't know about faded glory; I think I'm just faded; ha. Last Saturday afternoon a friend invited me to a holiday tea. Everyone was encouraged to choose an available hat or bring their own. My friend selected this appropriately vintage 'velveteen headband with netting' affair for me – I rather like it!

On Sunday we drove to Walla Walla, WA (and back) for my aunt's memorial service. The church, decorated for the season, was beautiful, as was the service.
When the generation just ahead of you is fading away, there is no denying you're not a youth anymore!

Jackson, as always, was ready for me to come HOME.

Fresh-faced youth faced off on the basketball court last night; Brian's team won for the first time this season.

Another fresh-faced youth, a long-time friend of Brian's, came out this afternoon for senior photos. It was a flat, gray day anyway, and by the time he got here the light was too low for high-quality results, but now we both have a better idea of what we're going for. I'm also this young man's high school senior project (photography) mentor (I think that's close to the official title), so working on his senior portraits was part of mentoring. He said he learned a lot, so apparently the old dog can still teach a thing or two!

Here's one last fresh-faced youth:

Last night and this morning, Chuckie slipped through the front door while I was carrying firewood in. Of course, he was promptly deposited back outside. When I took those photos a bit later during morning chores in the barn, he was feeling particularly feisty fresh. A bit of resentment over his station in life, perhaps?

That's it for today from . . .