“In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: It Goes On.”
Robert Frost

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Frosty New Year

"Standing on the snow-covered plain, as if in a pasture amid the hills, I cut my way first through a foot of snow, and then a foot of ice, and open a window under my feet, where, kneeling to drink, I look down into the quiet parlor of the fishes, pervaded by a softened light as through a window of ground glass, with its bright sanded floor the same as in summer; there a perennial wave-less serenity reigns as in the amber twilight sky, corresponding to the cool and even temperament of the inhabitants.  Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads."  ~~~ from "The Four Seasons" by Henry David Thoreau

It's plain to see here on the frosty window, that we are in the depths of winter, even though the calendar says winter started just a mere week ago!  We are heading into the deep freeze again on New Years Eve with a predicted high of minus 2 degrees. At least we have heat and have not struggled with power outages as some of our friends in the Eastern USA and Canada have.

Thank you to all of my loyal readers and friends in blog-land.  You all mean a great deal to me and I have enjoyed getting to know you all over the years.  I look forward to another year filled with new and magical discoveries.  I wish for all of you a very Happy New Year ahead!  ~~ Diane

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas

Seriously now, I hope you all receive everything your heart desires!

Merry Christmas to You and Yours!
~~~ Diane ~~~

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Silent Night

A Minnesota Connection

Christmas Day is Leo Gruber's birthday. By my calculations he will be 97 this year.  There have been a few stories written about Mr. Gruber, a retired  dairy farmer from Willmar Minnesota, because he has a connection to a very famous Christmas song.

When Leo was around 9 years old, he found an old discarded accordion on a trash heap at a neighbor's farm.  The neighbor let him take it home and with help from his mother, Leo taped up a few holes in the accordion and found out he was musically inclined. He soon taught himself to play be ear.  Leo played the accordion at school, at family parties and dances for years. Every Christmas he played "Silent Night".

Not until Leo was around 30 years old did his family finally trace their roots back to an Austrian composer named Franz Gruber.  If you have figured out that Franz Gruber wrote the music for "Silent Night" you would be correct.  And the connection of course is that Leo's great, great, great, grandfather was Franz Gruber.

The story goes that in Germany on Christmas eve, 1818, Joseph Mohr asked Franz Gruber to write some music to accompany a poem Mohr had written. The church organ had been badly damaged by mice, so Gruber opted to play the piece on his guitar. The song "Silent Night" has been with us ever since and has been translated into almost every language on earth.

As far as I can tell from my research, Leo Gruber is still with us and as of 2012 was still playing "Silent Night" on his accordion for the family Christmas celebration. I hope Leo is still here this year and able to play this classic Christmas song for his family.  But even if he is not able to play, Leo Gruber has passed his talent on to his children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren who also love to play this beautiful song.

I think music will continue for a very long time in the Gruber family.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Almond Dreams

How can I continue my December blog posts without a cookie recipe?
Well, I can't, so here is a very special top-secret recipe that I created a few years ago.

I came up with this recipe after eating something similar at the Taste of Scandinavia bakery on the far side of town. If you love the taste of almonds, this is your cookie. The bonus is the ease of preparation. Don't skip toasting the almonds, it really enhances the flavor and texture. They call it the Norwegian Almond Kringler, but I call them Almond Dreams!

Almond Dreams

Cookie Dough
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup room temperature butter
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 3/4 cups confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 cup sliced or chopped almonds, lightly toasted

1.    In large mixer bowl with paddle attachment, combine butter, sugar and cornstarch. Add almond extract, gradually add flour. Mix until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and forms a ball  (takes about 2 - 3 minutes).

2.    Place parchment paper on cookie sheet. Place dough atop parchment paper and roll out to about 1/2 inch thick. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes, just until lightly browned around the edges. Top will not brown. Cool on cookie sheet for about 5 minutes. Slide parchment and cookie onto rack to cool completely.

3.    In small nonstick saucepan toast almonds just till lightly browned. Stir constantly. Cool.

4.    For frosting, in medium bowl mix sugar, butter, milk and almond extract till smooth. Frosting should be fairly thick, like cake frosting. Slide parchment with cooled cookie onto a large cutting board. Spread the frosting onto cooled cookie. Sprinkle with almonds. Let set for a few minutes. With sharp pizza cutter or large knife cut into bars.

Hope you enjoy my version of this delicious cookie! ~~ Diane

What are your favorite Christmas treats?

linked with The Charm of Home 
                 Common Ground

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Joy and Edna

Another bitter cold day here in Minnesota but tomorrow will be better.  Our temperatures have been bouncing around lately.  Just when you brace yourself for the frigid weather it turns downright balmy, well if you can call 20 degrees balmy!

I love when the mail arrives at this time of year!  You might find some cards, a package or a huge tin of three flavor popcorn on your porch! Joy, Joy, Joy! I was especially glad for the latter so that the hubby would stop eating all the Christmas cookies out of the freezer!

Back to the mail, one item that gave me great JOY was a package from my blog friend Stacy - Magic Love Crow!  I had ordered this cute little Baby Crow painting from her titled "Winter Blessings". Isn't she adorable!!

To my surprise she included another darling baby crow titled "Waiting for Santa".  There he is, tucked into his little "nest" all cozy and waiting for Santa's arrival.  Soooo.... Cute!! Thank you Stacy, you are the best!

I was surprised and pleased that the beautiful card that Stacy sent with the kitties on the front, is from a painting called "Decorators" by Persis Clayton Weirs. The art is courtesy of Wild Wings, Lake City Minnesota! How ironic! I'm not even sure she noticed where the card was from! JOY!

Guy appreciated the artwork too as you see in the photo below. He is an avid bird watcher and here he is also cozy in his little brown nest! These photos took place on a day when our temperature only got up to -2 degrees, for you celsius people that is -18. BrrrrrrrrRR!

So what does one do when it is too cold to venture outside for more than a few minutes, well finish the decorating for one.  I of course get sidetracked easily so when I was rummaging about and getting the house ready for house-guests, I found this painting that my husband brought home from an estate sale.  It was leaning on the side of the dresser in our guest room.  I had kind of forgotten about it and that brings us to Edna, another woman who has brought me great Joy ....

The daughter in-law told my husband that Edna had started painting in her later years.  Being the frugal woman she was, she had not invested in a bunch of expensive materials. If you look closely, you can see that it is painted on cardboard. After looking at it a bit, I decided it was actually kind of a neat folk art piece.

I think Edna did pretty darned good with her perspective on this one! I love her choice of bright colors for the house and other buildings.  Snow can be very difficult to paint for new artists and I think she did a nice job.  Edna thought so too, and she signed and dated this original piece of art, which I am now the proud owner of.  The painting is now hanging in our basement family room.

Edna E. Johnson, Red Wing Minnesota - 1963

As I said before, this was from an estate sale, so dear Edna has passed on to her reward and I hope she has an unlimited supply of paint and canvases she can use to creative some stunning work.

So there you have it, a story about two creative and interesting women who bring Joy to life!  Thank you Stacy for your Joyful and Creative Spirit, and bless you Edna for your frugal but Beautiful Soul!

Joy and Peace ~~ Diane

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Christmas is Coming

Snow, snow!!! Along with bitter, bitter cold! Yow, what a drastic change! It can only mean one thing...... Winter is here and Christmas is coming!!

I found this fabulous image below on Flickr. It shows the best of the winter season and the festive feeling of Christmas. Oh, I wish my place looked so good!  I wish the cookies were all baked, the gifts all wrapped, the house clean and shiny!  I do have our little tree up and decorated and to my surprise, Guy seems quite uninterested in the whole thing! The rest... still a work in progress.

Well I'm going to get there... sometime soon. Right now I'm still working on listing a few last minute things in my shop.  I always say I'm going to start early and then I underestimate how much work is involved in all of this!! So you may not see much of me for the next week while I finalize all my preparations for the holiday.

christmas is coming

And I haven't even started on Christmas cards yet... somehow it will all get done. If it doesn't, oh well.... because the point is I want some time to actually enjoy the moment.  To see the lights and hear the Christmas music, to enjoy time with family and friends.  It really doesn't have to be perfect, even though that would be nice. Hasn't it been said that perfection is overrated?

So I think tonight after I finish this post, I am going to curl up with the my lap cat (Guy) and a cup of hot cocoa and watch some sappy Christmas movie.  I've been recording a bunch...
........that could be a whole other blog post.

Happy Holidays ~~ Diane

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Oh Christmas Tree

The beautiful image and poem below were taken from the
1985 "Ideals Christmas" issue. The name of the image below is
"The Wonder of Christmas" by Three Lions. My mother collected
these magazines over the years and I inherited them from her.

They are tucked away in a safe place, but every now and then I will take them out and look through them.  I just came across the poem and image the other day and loved both so much that I wanted to share them with you.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. ~~ Diane

To a Christmas Tree

Heaven twinkles where you stand
with the snow-drift in your hand
interweaving myriad charms
as you cradle in your arms,--
here a bauble -- there a gem --
little stars of Bethlehem!

Wistful now, and wonder-wise,
children stand with lifted eyes
gazing on your fair festoons
of gossamer and magic moons,
singing birds and swaying bells,
marshmallows and caramels,
and every kind of fairy thing
that ornaments imagining.

Yuletide must be bare indeed
for him who feels no inner need
of elfin dreams and elfin drums
every year when Christmas comes.
He hears no goblin trumpets blow.
For him in vain the baubles glow
who is so blind he cannot see
beauty in a Christmas tree.

Mona Dale 

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Anticipation...

The anticipation of Christmas is building! It was quite evident the other day when a mother was fending off her child's insistant pleading for something while I passed by the toy isle at the local store.  

Oh, but we're all children at heart when it comes to Christmas!  My husband and I watched part of the old "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" movie, the other night.  I still thought the abominable snow monster was scary! We'd both forgotten about the land of misfit toys. I thought it was worthy to highlight the quote by one of the elves below.  Dreamed up by some marketing genius, I'll bet!

My favorite toys were stuffed animals. One of my all time favorites was a large pink (surprise) cat with a black tail and ears. Oh, I wish I had her still....

What were some of your favorite toys as a child?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Coming of Snow

Thanksgiving is here and snow is soon to arrive just in time to throw a snag into your travel plans.  Yes, I know, it was just a few months ago that I was ranting about being sick of snow, but I am over that now. I really am thankful, for Snow!

Many of you have already had your first taste of snow and we here in Minnesota ready ourselves for the real snow storm that will inevitably occur sometime soon.

The shovels stand in the corner of the garage accessible when needed. Some sand is ready if we get a bit of ice. My husband and I handle snow the old-fashioned way, with a shovel. No power, just the quite scrape of the snow shovel on the sidewalk. 

It really isn't such a difficult job and I love shoveling at twilight when the air is getting still and the sky is turning from pink to purple. I love that time, when it is so quiet, and I often stop shoveling to rest and just listen to .... the silence.  When all is done, a cup of hot cocoa makes it all so worth it. Looking out at the backyard and seeing the soft snow while cradling a warm cup in my hand is a beautiful feeling. 

I found this lovely poem that gives a sense of this time of year, the end of autumn, right before the snow.....

Variations: II 
Green light, from the moon,
Pours over the dark blue trees,
Green light from the autumn moon
Pours on the grass ...
Green light falls on the goblin fountain
Where hesitant lovers meet and pass.

They laugh in the moonlight, touching hands,
They move like leaves on the wind ...
I remember an autumn night like this,
And not so long ago,
When other lovers were blown like leaves,
Before the coming of snow.
  Conrad Aiken


I want to say that I am thankful for many other things,
but I am especially thankful for all of the wonderful people who
visit and comment here.

I hope you all have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Shiny Brite Day

I have to admit that until my husband brought home these vintage Christmas ornaments from a garage sale, I hadn't thought much about collecting Shiny Brite. Now that I have been doing a bunch of research on them, I am starting to think I'm missing out!

I've decide that because these are plain I will not keep them, but hold out for some of the more decorative ones.  Actually I am more partial to the fancier shaped glass and diorama glass ornaments.  So this batch will be put up for sale in my shop.

I've learned a few things about Shiny Brite.  The ones after WWII up until about 1960, have the crimped and stamped "Shiny Brite made in USA" on the caps.  I'm still trying to sort out the cap issue on another box that says "Shiny Brite", because the caps are not crimped or stamped.  So many questions!

I don't like to put things in my shop until I have thoroughly investigated their age, history etc.  So there are a couple of boxes that may have to wait until next year before they go up for sale.  This box and contents will be in my Etsy shop for sale today or in the near future.

My husband bought more plain ornaments which I will post later, but a few neat old German and Italian ones were included.  The diorama of the church above is probably from Italy and dates from the 1940's.  I haven't decided whether to sell the diorama ornament yet. 

It was a blustery, cold day yesterday when I was working on this post.  The kitties had been outside for awhile, just enough to get a bit chilly.  They were very happy to get back in the house where it was warm.

There was a bit of a kerfuffle over who got to sleep on the cozy blanket in the corner of my office.  Dot and Guy had a bit of fun. As you see, Guy won!  When I noticed him sleeping there, he looked so cute, I had to get a picture.  He was half asleep when I woke him up for the photo shoot.

I hope you all have a Bright and Shiny day too!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Changes Ahead

The season of in-betweens is here again, between fall and winter.  The leaves have fallen like rain the past week.  All are almost down now, except for those persistent Weeping Willows and a few Mountain Ash trees which stubbornly refuse to drop their leaves.

As I look out my window, I see the moon showing through the overcast sky, the sun is setting in the west.  A glimmer of pink is there behind the trees. It's only 4:30 in the afternoon and the sun is already starting to set.  Night comes early here in Minnesota.

As you see here in the photo, the snow is mingling with the fallen leaves.  The perfect example of our seasons meeting here in the middle.  As I said in the beginning, there are changes ahead.

In the sunnier area, the snow melted away.  I loved the pattern of the leaves on the patio, so random, but so elegantly arranged.

In the shadier areas, the snow clung on and persisted for several more days.  It is all gone now and warmer weather has returned.  We all sense the changes and are already getting used to the new patterns.  The kitties have felt the first blast of cold air and snow on their paws.  They are not so quick to rush outside now.  A brief sniff of the air determines how long they want to be out now.

I along with them are happy to return to the warmth of the house after a quick walk around the yard. The tea kettle is on all day now, and the oven is getting used again now that the grill is put away for the season.  The gathering time has begun.

I am sorry I have been neglecting my blog friends.  I will try and get around for a visit soon. Thank you all for your patience. If you'd like to see what I've been up to, come browse through my Etsy shop CraveCute.

I hope you are all having a pleasant week and enjoying the changing seasons.
~~~ Diane ~~~

Thursday, November 7, 2013

While Mom's Away

We cats do play!!! Mom is away working in her shop for a while 
and said we could take over the blog to say "Hi".

Mom will be back in a few days or so.
Bye now ~~ Dot and Guy ~~ Cat Kisses

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Fields of Gold

One of my favorite colors of Autumn is Gold. Brash orange and fiery red seem to outshine poor gold for most of the season. Mostly, I like the combination of all the colors, but it's the memories of golden fields that I cling to.

Gold always reminds me of my first eighteen years of life living on my parents farm.  We were in a rural area and at least an hours drive to a large city.  The fields were full of golden wheat and russet hued milo. 

The picture above is not mine, but an example of a typical wheat field.  After the wheat was harvested, my father would bale the straw and keep it to use as bedding for the cattle and pigs.  This time of year brings out my nostalgic side remembering the family gatherings at my parents and grandparents homes, now all gone.

My view has changed now and the gold I see from my window is one of the golden and russet leaves on the trees. I love this view and wouldn't trade it for the world.  The remarkable thing about us humans is that we can imagine and when I close my eyes for a moment, I can still see the golden fields of my childhood home.

As I look towards the blue sky and heaven, I see the golden leaves of our sugar maple trees and I am thankful for the wonderful past I've had and the promise of an even better future once I reach my own "Golden" years.

Welcome November, the month of Thankfulness.  ~~ Diane

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween Tricks

The huge bowl of candy awaits the little goblins and ghosts that will appear at our door.  My hubby has already picked out his favorite candy and stashed them away for later. I have to admit a couple of pieces have already gone missing.... Guy??

I hope you all have a fun and mysterious Halloween!  You never know what might happen!

“In honor of October.....

Brew me a cup for a winter's night.

For the wind howls loud and the furies fight;

Spice it with love and stir it with care,

And I'll toast our bright eyes,

my sweetheart fair.” 
                                   ~~Minna Thomas Antrim

Monday, October 28, 2013

Black Cat Awareness

October is Black Cat Awareness Month. 
Black Cats are beautiful! 
Sharing a few photos of my very own black cat, Mr. Guy Noir!

Guy Noir, admiring the trees and sky.

Guy, rolling in the grass and playing with the leaves.

"Did I hear a squirrel?"

Capturing an oak leaf.

Feeling like the luckiest black cat in the world! I was so inspired,
I even wrote a poem!  I found some Louis Wain illustrations that go
with it perfectly!

Black Cat Dance

Black Cats Dancing
In the forest at night
Spinning in circles by
The warm firelight

Only in the misty evening
will you see them, whirling, weaving

Dancing cats all black as ink
twinkling stars above them wink
Mysterious, wondrous!
What do you think?

Black Cats dancing in a row
Tails all flying to and fro!
Watch them, watch them,
There they go!

Black cats prancing
 all around
Nothing else like
this is found
anytime but Hallows Eve...
Maybe now's the time to leave!

~~ CraveCute

Working on his pose for Halloween!


Dot, showing only her "Black Side"! Haha!

For more on Black Cat Awareness Day click here.

Please note, Guy was never off leash in any of the photos.  I edited out the red leash for a nicer photo.