“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