Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Pamlico Sound - Salvo, NC

A pink sky greets the day as the seagulls precariously fly across the sky, while wind pushes the mixture of salt and fresh water towards the shore. While looking across the sound during a peaceful moment, one's mind begins to wander and wonder:

"Whose eyes have seen the beauty painted out for all to see in earlier times?; Who has walked the shoreline specifically following gathered birds hoping to find enough fish for themselves and perhaps others?; What pirate anchored his ship here, headed inland in search of treasures and captives?; What did the first colonists think as they arrived to a new land, likely to never see their own again?".

Over time, the land along the ocean and the sound has been developed with large houses and amenities for those who visit and roam the land and waters. What might the area have been like without all the building? Wild, untamed, untarnished? Those present may never know except through memories and stories told by those who came before, and where the imagination might take someone as they look out across and endless sound and ocean.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The smell of cinnamon and nutmeg surrounds our little cabin as we relax in the surrounding beauty. Christmas carols play in the backgroud as we talk and later relax. After packing, organizing presents, and making sure we could travel with all we needed, a relaxing afternoon is very welcome.

Our family has spread apart over the years, and now we have found special time to re-connect with one another. The kids were very happy to see each other and to play, only to begin fighting over toys and books. We know when we are apart they will miss each other so much the fighting will be forgotten.

We have come back to a special place where we have come for many years, and not far from where we grew up, to see the beauty of the majestic mountains we have missed. A brisk walk around the downtown shops leads us to the candy store where we always buy carmel apples. Which kind this year? The gourmet shop makes any kind imaginable: pecans, peanuts, snickers, chocolate and peanut butter, M&M's, or just carmel. Each time I get the same kind, carmel apple covered in peanuts, all to be devoured by me.

Having family at a distance makes getting together for the holidays a very special time. A time we will treasure through out the year.

Friday, December 18, 2009

My Christmas necklace

During the Christmas season I like to wear a necklace my Grammie gave me years ago. The necklace is made of pewter and is a representation of the Swedish St. Lucia- a girl wearing a long white dress with a red sash and wearing a crown of candles. My family belongs, partly, to a Swedish heritage, and I enjoy wearing the necklace to remind me of my ancestry and the Christmas traditions our family follows.

Each year one of the girls in our family would dress in the traditional costume of St. Lucia and we would walk around the family gathered on Christmas Eve and present them with Swedish cookies and coffee. The traditional St. Lucia song, sung in Swedish, would be playing in the background, or one of the talented cousins might play the song on a musical instrument. St. Lucia was a martyr who, in the dark, tied flaming candles to her head so she could see to carry food to Christians hiding in catacombs in Sicily during the Roman rule. Each girl in the family had the opportunity to be St. Lucia, as she might have been in ancient times, by spreading light and the gift of nourishment to family members during a dark time of year.

Christmas time brings so many memories to mind- excellent foods, big presents, singing, excitement, loud families and laughter. However, the traditions my family carried on through the years will follow me through my life and will forever lay as memories on my mind. I am glad to have my necklace as a reminder of so many happy occasions.

Friday, December 11, 2009

What we are reading this week...

Christmas books are fun to read no matter how old you are! Here is a list of a few Christmas books with enchanting stories and great illustrations. Hopefully some will be new ones for you to discover.

  • A little girl misses her home in Maine and the familiar Christmas she has know. She soon learns the prairie holds its own beauty.

  • An exciting look at what the birth of Christ might have been like if he had been born during a different time and among different cultures.

  • A fun story about an owl following the Christmas star on a journey through the nativity story.

A Christmas Fable by Mark Karlins and illustrations by Maureen Hyde
  • A young girl living in the mountains tells her story of Christmas Eve: nursing a deer back to health and the mysterious man who brings the deer to her.

  • A classic!
Snuggle up by the fire and enjoy!

Camping gifts for everyone: Top camping gifts under $40

Camping gifts for everyone: Top camping gifts under $40

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas for the birds...

Christmas time is filled with thinking of others and choosing gifts you know they will enjoy for the years to come. This year, don't forget the birds nesting in the trees around your house.
It won't take long to make a few hand made bird seed ornaments for your feathered friend. Hang your ornaments in you trees out side for the birds to find or hang them in front of a favorite window so you can watch them nibble your gift away. These ornaments also make an excellent gift to give to your friends who enjoy birds too!

Mix the following ingredients in a large bowl:

3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup water
5 tablespoons honey- use enough to keep your mixture held together very well
4 cups bird seed mix- you can also use sunflower seeds

Roll the mixture out on 1-2 pieces of wax paper. Make sure the mixture is only about 1/2 inch thick. Using Christmas cookie cutters, cut out shapes. You could also make wreaths out of the mixture. Cut a hole in the ornament while the ornaments are still "wet" to add ribbon or string after the ornaments are dry. Dry the ornaments on the was paper for approx. 12 hours.

One batch makes approximately 12 ornaments and two thick wreaths. If you make your ornaments thick-like the wreath pictured below, make sure you add additional time to the drying process.

Blue Jay photo courtesy of / CC BY-ND 2.0
'>Linda Rose via Flickr

Don't forget your favorite hiker: Top Christmas gifts for under $15

Don't forget your favorite hiker: Top Christmas gifts for under $15

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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Oak Moon and Cold Moon

December hosts cold weather, crystal clear nights, and a beautiful full moon at the beginning of the month. An Old English name for the December full moon includes the name: Oak Moon. Some Native Americans have called the moon the Cold Moon and other names for the December full moon include: Frost Moon, Long Night's Moon, and Moon Before Yule.

Tonight, grab a blanket and some hot Russian Tea, and go outside to enjoy the December Cold Moon.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A December Day

Waking up to a roaring fire and Christmas lights on makes me feel as though it is Christmas day, but I know today is just another day in Dec.

Why do the colorful lights we hang spark such a feeling of excitement? When I plugged the lights in and began to hang them for the first time this year, both of my kids got so excited they began to oooh and ahhh, they tried to touch the lights, and they danced around in the sparkles glistening all around.

I can remember when Christmas lights could make me get excited. My mom always made getting ready for Christmas exciting and fun. She would make a special meal on the day we would put up the decorations. She had a story to tell about some of the old decorations we would put out, and she would always give my sister and I a new ornament. We would listen to Christmas music, the deep voice of Anne Murray mixed with my mom's singing lingers on my memories.

When my mind pulls me back to my memories of Christmas, I realize how there was nothing glamorous or glitzy about our simple decorations, our meal was nothing extravagant, and our tree, at times, tended to lean in one direction, but the love and effort put into the day and the season was what made everything so special.

For an ordinary day in December, I hope our little house with simple decorations will sparkle enough to keep my children excited for the season and dancing.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Russian Tea Recipe

Nothing says Christmas like the smell of cinnamon and cloves. Drinking a cup of Russian Tea on a cold and blustery day, takes away the chill from being outside or the blues away from being inside. Plus the smell of the tea can only bring good memories and warm thoughts. A great alternative to coffee or hot chocolate, keep this sweet tea in mind when the snow has fallen and sledding with the kids is on the schedule for the weekend. They'll like having this tea along, and so will you!

Russian Tea
2 cups Tang or orange drink mix (most of these contain vitamin C adding another good reason to drink up!)
3/4 cup Instant tea
1/3 cup Lemonade drink mix
1 cup sugar
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Cloves
1/2 tsp Allspice
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
Mix all ingredients together and store in a glass jar. Use approximately two heaping teaspoons per serving (one mug).

  • Keeping a jar on hand at your house is great for a quick drink to serve to your guests.
  • Fill smaller jars, tie pretty ribbon around them and give them as gifts to people who stop by or to friends and family.
  • Let your kids have fun by mixing the ingredients themselves!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A very traditional Thanksgiving

Traditional Thanksgiving fare may not have been as tasty as some of our more modern dishes. Nor were the ingredients easy and convenient to pick up at the local supermarket. For modern day cooks, cooking over the fire, in coals, and under ash may not be an ideal situation. In case you would like to explore cooking your Thanksgiving meal as the Native Americans probably prepared theirs, here are a few recipes to try cooking the traditional Native American way.

All recipes were taken from: Indian Cookin, Copyright 1973, Nowega Press.

Bean Bread
4 cups cornmeal
½ tsp soda (or lye water if you have it on hand)
2 cups cooked beans
2 cups boiling water

Put cornmeal and beans in a bowl. Hollow out a hole and put water and soda in the middle. Make stiff dough enough to form balls. Drop balls into a pot of boiling water. Cook about 45 minutes or until done.

Parched Corn
Put hot ashes in a pot, put in kernels, stir until brown. Clean ashes off with leaves or cloth, beat corn in beater. Make soup by stirring large pieces in boiling water, cook until done. (This kind of mixture was placed in a leather pouch and carried while hunting.)

Cut ripe pumpkin in rings, remove the peeling, hang on a stick before the fire near enough to dry slowly. This may be stored until ready for use. To prepare it should be washed and cooked any way you like pumpkin.

Barbequed Fish
Cut fish into strips or chunks, string on pieces of sharpened sticks, hang over fire. Turn often. Keep before fire until fish no longer drips.

Baked Apple
Pick ripe apples. Cover the apples with hot ashes and live coals, cook until as soft as you want them.

Hominy Corn Drink
Shell corn, soak in lye until the skin can be removed. Beat corn in the beater until size of hominy. Sift meal from the husk particles. Cook corn particles until done. Drink hot or cold or wait until it sours. This will keep except in very hot water.

Dress bird, put on a stick before the fire or over hot coals and roast real brown. Put browned bird into a pot of water and boil until well done, thicken soup with cornmeal. Season with salt.

Indian Prayer
Here needy he stands,
And I am he.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Over the River...

Fall brings comforting feelings as we begin to prepare for Thanksgiving: traditionally a feast celebrating a bountiful harvest. Family and friends, a healthy year, and living in such a beautiful place are all at the top of my list of things to be thankful for.

As Thanksgiving rolls around for another year, I am reminded of singing the song "Over the River and Through the Woods" and in case you have forgotten the lyrics, here they are...

Over the River

by Lydia Maria Child

Over the river and through the woods,

to Grandmother's house we go.

The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh

through white and drifted snow.

Over the river and through the woods,

oh how the wind does blow.

It stings the toes and bites the nose,

as over the ground we go

Over the river and through the woods,

to have a first rate play.

Oh, hear the bell ring, ting-a -ling-ling,

hurrah for Thanksgiving day!

Over the river and through the woods,

trot fast, my dapple gray!

Spring over the ground like a hunting houd,

for this is Thanksgiving Day!

Over the river and through the woods,

and straight through the barnyard gate;

we seem to go extremely slow,

it is so hard to wait.

Over the river and through the woods,

now Grandmother's cap I spy!

Hooray for the fun!

Is the pudding done?

Hooray for the pumpkin pie!

Hooray for the fun

Is the pudding done?

Hooray for the Thanksgiving Day!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A lone star hangs in the eastern sky above the tall lodge pole pines and alongside the rocky mountain tops of the Wind River Mountains. If I didn't know dawns was breaking, I would make a wish: "Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight... But dawn is breaking, not dusk descending.

The school bus drives by; lights on top and around the sides send out their own message of existence. How many times did I ride a bus, gaze up at the stars, and make a wish? Plenty. Riding on the bus after football and volleyball games in the fall, and then after basketball games in the winter, made for plenty of time to stare out at the stars lighting the sky across the Colorado plains.

All those wishes and did they come true? Do I remember what I wished for? A different time and new wishes seem to crowd the space in my mind; dwelling on the past does not seem to be a particular era I wish to think about, but those wishes and past era are what bring us to where we are today.

Perhaps in at this age I should begin wishing on morning stars and see what happens.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The sun is shining.

After a week of snowy and cloudy weather, the sun is shining. The grass is white from the frost, but the sun is shining down and the frost glistens; even the roof tops on the nearby cabins are glistening.

The willows look amber from their seasonal change and I can smell the pumpkin bread baking in my oven. My little boy is getting to help his mama continue to write, making my writing time short. He is playing peek-a-boo behind my laptop screen. The sun is shining through my window.

My fire is warming the house, my husband is home, my kids are being quiet. The sun is shining.