Life in the A-Frame

Life in the A-Frame

Monday, February 28, 2011

Amos and the sunny spot

It is windy and cold today. I discovered Amos in a sunny where he is not supposed to be. I sneak in with my camera.
 I've never caught him on my cedar chest before. I don't know what he was thinking.

 He looks sweet lying here with the warm sunshine showing through his hair.

 Yep, I caught you!

 He decides to play innocent.

He lies back down but keeps his eyes open and his ears perked....just in case I might be mad.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Photo Friday

If you don't already know about  Rebecca at you might want to check out her blog. I think it is awesome. She hosts Foto Friday and this is my first opportunity to participate. I have shown these photos before, but they are some of my favorites. I was so glad to see that Rebecca's theme this week was "Hands". I teach a craft class at our local nursing home and one day I photographed closeups of their hands, so worn, aging, persistant, patient...symbolic of a lifetime of hard work.

  His hands are stiff and activities like this cause him pain but he comes to craft class every time. When he works on his crafts, he stops and helps others who can't see well or who have the use of only one hand.

These young hands belong to an aide who paused in her duties to help someone having trouble placing the flower petals on the pipe cleaner stem.

 Her hands are still very dexterous. She has no trouble manipulating the pieces of her flower craft.

She was a tailor for many, many years and she was also very dexterous at the time this picture was taken. The last 2 months, however, she did not participate and I could see a very marked decline. It is a reality that I have to face. It hurts to see them "wind down" but it is the way of life for all of us.

I lend my hands, and help them creatively pass the time. It gives them, and me-a time of fellowship and fun. It is a time to cherish....

Monday, February 21, 2011

My Big Lee and his Big Tucker

I visited my son recently. Early one morning, he "cuddled" with his young puppy. As you can see, this puppy is over 70 lbs. already. Lee is a big guy, and so is Tucker, who is half Great Dane. And....he is only 7 months old.

Tucker is a very gentle, calm puppy. He is going to be awesome when he is grown. Huge....but awesome.
Just like Lee.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Things to do when it's too cold outside (okay, it is warm outside now) #4

Make chocolate dipped candies for the Valentine's Day Luncheon at Church!

The heart shaped ones are vanilla and the coconut ones have a "C" written on the top.
I used a little buttercream frosting to decorate the tops.
The coconut ones are my favorite....they are all gone now. Want to make some?

Chocolate dipped cremes
Cream together: 1/2 stick softened butter
1 cup of Eagle Brand milk
Gradually add:
1 lb. powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
When the mixture gets too stiff for a mixer, knead the filling while you add the rest of the powdered sugar.
I divide the filling into halves and make one half coconut and the other vanilla. I added a bit more vanilla to increase the flavor of the vanilla half. Then I kneaded in 1 cup of sweetened coconut to the other half. Make the dough into 1 inch balls or roll out 1/2 inch thick and cut with cookie cutters. Place on parchment lined cookie sheets and freeze until the chocolate is ready for dipping.
Over a double boiler: melt 1 package of chocolate chips with 1/2 block of paraffin. (Look for paraffin by the canning supplies.) The paraffin allows the chocolate to harden more and keep its shape. When the chocolate and paraffin are completely melted, use a fork to set the candy on and dip it in the chocolate to coat. Allow a little excess chocolate to drip off, then set the ball back on the parchment to harden.

This makes a large amount of candy but it keeps forever. I just keep it in a tupperware container on the counter. It might sound complicated, but it is so easy. Try it!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Things to do when its too cold....#3

Make homemade English muffins! Mix up the dough, shape and let rise overnight.

The next morning, cook the muffins on a griddle or an iron skillet. Very nice treat on a cold morning!
Here's the recipe I used:

• 1 cup Milk

• 3 Tablespoons Butter, Separated
• 2 Tablespoons Honey
• 1 cup Warm Water
• ¼ ounces, weight Yeast
• ¼ cups Cornmeal
• 5-½ cups Flour
• 1 teaspoon Salt

Preparation Instructions

Combine milk, butter, and honey in a saucepan over medium heat. Warm until butter starts to melt, then whisk briefly. Remove pan from heat and allow liquid to cool to lukewarm.

Pour water into a mixing bowl and sprinkle with yeast. Stir gently with a fork. Set bowl aside for 10 minutes, or until yeast has dissolved.

Line baking sheets with waxed paper and sprinkle with a generous amount of cornmeal.

Pour cooled milk mixture into yeast mixture and gently stir until well blended. Add 3 cups flour and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until smooth. Beat in remaining flour and salt until the dough is no longer sticky. Scrape the dough onto a floured surface and dust with flour. Flour hands and knead dough for 3-4 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes.

Roll out dough with rolling pin to about 1/2 inch thick. Cut the dough into circles (a tumbler or mason jar does well). Transfer muffins to prepared baking sheets and sprinkle with cornmeal. Cover with a dry, lightweight towel and let rise until doubled in height, 35-45 minutes. I let mine rise overnight.

When muffins have risen, heat a skillet over medium heat. Carefully lift muffins from the pan and place on the ungreased skillet. Cook about 10 minutes on each side, using a spatula to flip them. Transfer to a wire rack to cool before splitting (with a fork) and toasting them.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Things to do when it's too cold....#2

Photograph birds...through the window...without scaring them

They were so excited by all the extra birdseed that they stopped paying attention to me, so I just sat and watched.  The male cardinals tend to "rule" and run off the littler birds. The cardinals are very protective of their females and sometimes they fight their own reflections in the window. I watched this scene a long time, marveling in how fluffed up the birds were, and feeling very thankful that we could put out some feed for them.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Things to do when it is too cold to go outside #1

What can you do when you are stuck inside and your house cleaning is all done (for once!)? You can crochet some baby hats! Here are some that I "free handed" so to speak because I'm not skilled at following a pattern. I know 6 basic stitches. You can actually make a lot of crochet items with limited knowledge. My kind of craft!

The first one is a newborn sized hat with a brim, for a baby boy. It looks narrow because of the way I have it posed. It is for a specific baby at that-his mother is being induced tonight!

This "Scottish beret style" is for a bit larger child.

I'm not sure what to call this. It looks a bit colonial to me. It is also for a little older girl.

This is a fringed hat for a 3-6 month old. I hope the fringe isn't too bothersome for someone's little face.

I'm still working on my crochet hats and I am usually able to finish one per day. I would like to find a market for them, but in the meantime-I need the practice. Any suggestions?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Little Summer in Winter

Last August, during another drought, I tansfered a couple of tomato plants from the garden into some containers on the porch. When Fall came and the weather got cold, I moved the plants into my sunroom. Well they kept growing....and producing.
I was trying to get a little perspective in these photographs. I don't know if you can tell, but these tomato plants are now over 6 feet tall.

Here's my crop from the other day. The cayenne peppers are producing too. It was enough to add to our salad for supper. In additon to the tomatoes and peppers, I also have a large sweet potato vine and a spinach vine.The green plants and the colorful little crops brighten some fairly gloomy days. Later in the Spring, I'll replant them in the garden.
 If I am organized enough,
I'd like to have an entire Winter garden in my sunroom next year. Anyone else?

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Gap is Closed!

We have been working on a foundation problem for several weeks. It seems that the large pole in the front shifted when the concrete sunk a bit. The pole itself was keeping the side of the house from being repositioned completely.  Mike and our neighbor jacked up the side of our house, cut the main foundation pole to size and repositioned it. Then they set the pole in concrete and let the jack down. That allowed the winch to be tightened more and the gap to be completely closed.

One benefit, other than making our house sound again, is that when the tax appraisers came to measure and evaluate our house, they saw the chains holding the front of our house together. They classified us as "needing repairs". TAX BREAK!