Our life living off the land in our log cabin, breathing fresh mountain air, and getting back to basics.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sometimes I Forget...

...how much I enjoy our river home.  It is so different than the cabin, but home just the same.  Every time I come back here, I see things and say "oh, I really love that"

The river is one of those things that I love about here.  I share a lot of pictures about the water, the wind, the sun, the moon, the birds, the fish, the mammals, the flowers, the peacefulness and even the commotion.

Another is Johny's artwork.  We have it hanging all around (there isn't much wall space in the cabin, and the artwork we have hanging there is his mother's painting).  Today I was walking through the kitchen from out back, and hanging on the wall, right in front of me (where it always is) was one of my favorite pieces of his work.  I stood there and though, "oh, I really love that".  So I thought I would share it with you.
I love the colors.  I love that it is hanging in my kitchen.  I love that it is 4'x5'.  I love that it is a canvas print wrapped around the frame so you see the picture on all sides.  I love that my husband created it from a photo taken in Europe.

Then I remembered this one, which is not hanging, but propped against the wall.  Also canvas wrapped around the frame.  This is from a B&B farmhouse we stayed at in Belgium.   My husband created it.

And finally, this one, which hangs in our bedroom.  Also canvas wrapped around the frame.  Also a place in Europe and created by Johny.
It's so nice to be married to an artist!  It's so nice to come back to the place where these pieces live!

Besides my enjoying all this artwork, it's been a busy day taking care of stuff around here, but those things don't make for good blogging material.  So I'm glad that when I walked into the kitchen and saw that artwork, it was like it had poked me as if to say write about me!  I hope you've enjoyed the pictures...trust me, you don't want to hear about the "stuff", it would bore you to tears and/or make you queasy, like if I told you about having to get blood drawn today.

Thanks for reading my blog, you are the best f/f/r/s/f's, see you tomorrow,

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Glistening, Glittering Tree Ice

Today was a long road trip day...back to the river!  On our way, we passed by trees that were covered with Glistening, Glittering, Glorious ice!  It was spectacular, with the sun rising and shining upon it all.  And perfect for today's ABCWednesday post.  Keep in mind these photos were taken while passing by in a car at a minimum of 55 mph...usually 60 or 65.  The scene was stunning, Glorious to look at.  I wish we could have been Gliding by...

All of these photos were cropped from the original, but stand as taken.  The last 3 are a bit of a panorama as we passed this particular spot...

Gee, how lucky am I that I have such a Good G subject for today.  Must have something to do with yesterday's rainbow!

Thanks for reading my blog, you are the best f/f/r/s/f's, see you tomorrow,

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Girl in the Rainbow

It was serendipitous that this rainbow peaked through the clouds on this very windy (really big wind), rainy morning.  It's actually the first rainbow I have seen while living here at the cabin.  It reminded me how life presents us with many moments to help us remember that everything is exactly as it should be.
How did I come to that conclusion when I am looking at a rainbow?, you ask...  We were supposed to be driving to the river house today.  But after looking at the weather yesterday, and seeing that the prediction for this morning was going to create an unfriendly driving experience (big wind, rain, icy rain), we decided to postpone our trip one more day.  We didn't have any obligations until Thursday, so it really was no big deal.  While I was actually happy to have one more day here before we left, I'm the kind of person who plans things out in my head, so the change of plans had me rethinking many things (I won't trouble you with the details of these things because they really are nothing, and when I started to write them down I thought how ridiculous I sounded to myself), so just trust me that my brain was working overtime rethinking my planning. Then this morning I saw this rainbow, and I immediately knew that still being at the cabin today is exactly where we were supposed to be!  To me, it was serendipitous (Merriam-Webster defines it as "the faculty of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for)

Then it reminded me of the day I drove through a rainbow...I did, I really did...it was a long time ago, when I was a young adult, and still working at putting my life together.  I can't remember what the specific circumstances in my life were, but I was driving along the highway, thinking about my life.  It had been raining, and in south Florida there are lots of rainbows.  As I drove, I noticed that up ahead, the color of the air just above the road looked odd...kind of an orangey/yellowy/goldy look to it.  Then I noticed the color (still orangey/yellowy/goldy) seemed to fill all the space around me.  That's when I knew I was driving through a rainbow!  I was thrilled!  I was awestruck!  I felt like I was in my pot of gold!  An incredible feeling of satisfaction came over me, and all I could think was WOW, I'm 'the girl in the rainbow'.  It was another one of those serendipitous moments for me, when I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be in my life.

I haven't thought about being 'the girl in the rainbow' for years.  Today's rainbow centered me in the same way I felt so long ago.  Oh, don't worry, these are not the only 2 serendipitous moments of my life, nor are they the only 2 times I have ever felt that knowing.  It's so nice to have these little moments now and then!  Wouldn't you agree?

I will close with this American Indian Cherokee Blessing for you...
"May the warm winds of heaven blow
softly upon your house. 
May the Great Spirit bless all who enter there. 
May your mocassins make happy tracks in many snows,
and may the rainbow always touch your shoulder."

Thanks for reading my blog, you are the best f/f/r/s/f's, see you tomorrow,

Monday, February 25, 2013

It Takes A LOT of Wood

I've written about the advantages of heating with a wood burning stove, and I really wouldn't want to heat any other way.  But I tell you, it takes a LOT of wood!

In order to help with the cutting, Johny built a primitive long saw buck.  It's a pretty simple tool...a long log with legs and pegs...it holds a log relatively still on top as you cut it (he was using that stump you see in the left of the picture, but the log would roll around as he was trying to saw it)

It's a good thing he's got something to help with the creation of chopped wood...
...because as you can see our stocks are getting quite low (these were full in the fall!!!).  There is another holding unit on the back side of the cabin that you can't see, but it's all freshly cut wood, and not full yet.  I know we will be using wood until at least early May...we did last year anyway.  Not as much as we do right now, but usually at that time of year we would have a fire in the morning to get the chill out of the air.  As you can tell, we still have lots of wood to collect and chop!

If you ask me, which you haven't but I'll share the information anyway, in order to run a wood burning stove for 24 hours, it takes 1/16 of a cord, which is 4'x4'x8', so 2'x2'x2' (if my math is correct and it very well may not be) of wood, which should include some wood that is twigs and small pieces for kindling.  It also depends on what type of wood you are burning; oak and locust burn long and hemlock and other sappy woods burn fast (but you don't want much sappy wood in your stove or fireplace)...of course there are lots of other wood types that have different burn rates as well. 

I suppose it's a good thing we are heading back to our river house for a bit (it's like wood conservation)...we have a family reunion (yeah), a few other tasks to attend to (eww) and some friends to see (yeah)We are looking forward to seeing family and friends, and enjoying some time on the river, kind of like vacation, but different.

When we come back, besides chopping more wood, we will be busy with the garden and welcoming spring.  I'm looking forward to that!  We've already been getting our seeds together and planning how the garden should be laid out...there will be lot's to share about those activities!

Thanks for reading my blog, you are the best f/f/r/s/f's, see you tomorrow,

Sunday, February 24, 2013

So Many Things to Be Grateful For

Today has been a really nice day. You know, one of those days where you just sigh to yourself and think "wow, life is good, I'm one fortunate girl!".  Here are a few of my favorite things from today...

The blue sky, slight chill, crisp mountain air...

The gurgling sound the creek makes as it tumbles over the rocks...

Finding the sun shining on a small patch of fern up in the dark brown woods...

Coming across this little darlin' in one of our neighbor's yards...I do believe she is new...really made me laugh out loud as I walked up the mountain, a fun sight to unexpectedly come across...

Getting interrupted by Guinea hens again...they are actually feisty little creatures!...

 Having some fun with target practice...I shot too & missed, 3x...

Relaxing on the porch swing with a glass of wine and brandy, watching the sun drop over the mountain...

The setting sun...

So many things to be grateful for!!!  Life is good!

Thanks for reading my blog, you are the best f/f/r/s/f's, see you tomorrow,

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Oddest Thing - A Bird Sleeping IN a Leaf

Late yesterday, I saw an odd clump in a tree just off the north side of our porch...as I moved closer, I saw a leaf hanging off a branch, with something more under it...I suddenly realized it was a Tufted Titmouse (I could tell from the coloring on the side of it's breast) hiding in a curled up leaf that was still dangling from it's branch. I was really taken aback...I've never seen a bird do anything like this!
It looks like his head was turned toward the back of the leaf, but I couldn't get myself into a position on the porch where I could see inside the "hut".  And it was too high off the ground to see anything from there.  It reminded me of toddler's putting their hands in front of their eyes, playing peek-a-boo and thinking you can't see them.  Did this fellow just find what he thought was a perfect resting place?  I suppose anything climbing up the tree or on a branch would create enough vibration to wake this guy.  But he sure wasn't protected from the rain.  I don't know how long he stayed there, but he was there at least a few hours from the time I saw it...once it was completely dark, I went to see if I could see him, but it was too dark, and I decided not to use a flashlight to be sure I wouldn't disturb him.
This morning, the little fellow was gone.
I wonder where he went...I wonder if he'll be back...such a curiosity and totally fascinating!  He hasn't returned as of yet...I'll be sure to let you know if he does. 

We have a heavy fog rolling in now...no mountain view tonight!

Thanks for reading my blog, you are the best f/f/r/s/f's, see you tomorrow,

Friday, February 22, 2013

Lise's Ol' Fashioned Bread Pudding

You guessed it...it's been a grey, foggy, rainy day, so I decided to bake.  I love looking out the kitchen windows while I am baking and watch the fog come and go...today it's been so thick there were times I couldn't see into the woods...I find it very comforting to bake on days like this!

Lise's Ol' Fashioned Bread Pudding
Read to the end of today's post for a special zing for the pudding!
6 slices of toasted fresh bread, lightly buttered, broken into pieces (I used Italian, use your favorite)
2 slices of fresh bread, broken into pieces
3 tbsp butter
1/2 cup whole seedless raisins (you can omit them or chop into bits if you prefer)
1/2 tsp cinnamon + 1/3 tsp nutmeg, mixed together
3 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
2 3/4 cups whole milk (use 3 cups if you prefer it "wet", we like ours less moist)
1 tsp vanilla
sprinkling of raw cane sugar

 ...forgot to show the eggs...

Putting it together:

It'ss important to use bread that is somewhat dry when making this recipe; most recipes call for day old or stale bread (a good use of this bread in that case).  I prefer to toast and butter some of the bread, it gives a little different texture to the pudding; the rest of the bread is not toasted or buttered.  This combination gives the pudding a beautiful creamy and crispy texture.   

You need just enough bread to cover the bottom of a buttered 9x13 baking dish.  First break the toasted slices and layer the bottom of the pan.  Then break the fresh slices and place it in between the toasted pieces, filling in all the gaps.  Dot the top with any butter that wasn't used to butter the toast.

Now sprinkle the bread with the cinnamon/nutmeg mixture, making sure to get some on all the pieces.  Then sprinkle the raisins all around. 

Mix the eggs and sugar, then add the milk and vanilla (this is your custard)

Pour the custard mixture over the bread, again being sure to moisten every piece.  It may look like you don't have enough custard...
...but now allow the pan to sit at room temperature for 1 hour; this will give the bread a chance to soak up all the liquid.  During this time, periodically gently press the bread down to be sure all the pieces are getting wet.  You can also push some of the raisins down in between the pieces of bread, leaving some on top. 

When the hour has passed, sprinkle raw sugar all over the top.

Place the pan inside another pan, and pour hot water into the second pan (be sure not to splash your bread pudding), creating about a 1 inch water bath (this helps cook the pudding evenly).

Place the pans into a 350 F degree oven for about 60 minutes.  It will be done when a knife inserted half way between the center and the edge comes out clean.
It looks so good, with a crispy top, plumped up raisins, and so moist inside!  This is excellent when eaten warm; of course, you can eat it cold, but I like it best when it's reheated just slightly in the microwave for 8 seconds or so.

And then, I had to do it...not because the bread pudding wasn't good enough, but because bourbon sauce sounds perfectly decadent on a foggy day like today.  I didn't take pictures of the ingredients, but here is the recipe, not mine, it's Chef Nick Sundberg's of Beaumont Inn, Kentucky.

Bourbon Sauce
1 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon (or more!) Bourbon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon white corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
In a sauce pan mix all ingredients. Bring to a boil for 1 minute. Serve warm. The sauce gets bubbly and a beautiful light brown color...

Oh, oh, oh soooooo goooood!!!  The bread pudding stands on it's own, a delightful light concoction, but the bourbon sauce makes it an extra special treat that will keep your family and guests thinking you have been slaving away all day!

Thanks for reading my blog, you are the best f/f/r/s/f's, see you tomorrow,

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Today's Potpourri

It's been one of those "a little of this and a little of that" sort of days, so I thought I would share a melange of things...

I was surprised (being that it's still winter) by an unexpected visit from this Hover Fly today as we ate lunch while sitting on the porch swing.  It perched on an open jar of peanut butter, which I was eating with my apple...I'm sure it's trying to find sustenance wherever it can. Though it looks somewhat like a bee, it's harmless.  I've never seen anything like it before! 

As I walked to the mail box this afternoon, I noticed all the little rivers that the melting snow was creating.  Everything was flowing downhill, following the path of least resistance.  Not very pretty, but thought provoking.  
Then I saw this delicate ice formation on the side of a clay bank, also created by the slow drip of the melting snow, but in a cold enough spot for it to transform from water to ice as it dripped. Also following the path of least resistance.
Then I realized that I was walked the path of least resistance I was slipping and sliding and close to ending up on my bum.  So I moved to those areas of the road that still had ice and gravel, following the path of most resistance.  It reminded me of life...sometimes we are able to flow right along, but sometimes we need to choose a more challenging path to stand tall...hmmmm.

This guinea hen (I believe this is what it is) gave me a piece of it's mind as I walked past, and then turned it's head and strutted away as if to say "I've had enough of you"!  Made me laugh out loud.

I found this daffodil bud just beginning to open; it's heart holding the promise of the cheeriness about to unfold...

Last bit of today's potpourri?  Grilled venison burgers for dinner...I make them with some diced onion, plain bread crumbs, a little worcestershire, salt & pepper, a little parsley and an egg.  Mix everything together, make the patties and put them in the fridge (this helps them congeal so they hold together on the grill).  Put them on a bun with lettuce, tomato and some cheese, and you have pure deliciousness...and very little fat!

Yes there are 3 burgers, and yes we are only 2...1 is for another day, and you can be sure Johny ate the remnants of mine, which by the way is the one with real Swiss cheese and his is the one with American; I think American cheese is ewwww!

Thanks for reading my blog, you are the best f/f/r/s/f's, see you tomorrow,

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Floral Intimacy

I spent today frolicking in town...getting my hair done (there is nothing like sitting back in Katie's chair and having her work with my hair...coloring out the grey, massaging my scalp while all the grey goes down the drain...OK, fine, not down the drain, but it feels like it, combing it all out, trimming it, blow drying it...I spend most of the time with my eyes closed, relaxing and enjoying the focus on me!  Truth be told, when I was young I used to ask my little sister Den forget herself, focus on my, and play with my hair...taking care of errands, and enjoying the fine town of Sylva.  I do love Sylva, it's local shops, kind people, and small town feel.  I was so focused on my activities, I forgot to take pictures!

But my beautiful tulips are in full bloom, their fine petals opening with grace and finesse.  I took some closeups, figuring you might enjoy the floral intimacy as much as I have.

I enjoyed these fotos as much as I enjoyed my frolicking!    

Read more about other "F" posts at ABCWednesday.  Because today honors the letter "F", let me remind you, f/f/r/s/f's means family/friends/readers/subscribers/followers:)
Thanks for reading my blog, you are the best f/f/r/s/f's, see you tomorrow,