Monthly Archives: January 2010

Winter Wonderland

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I am taking a small break from my real writing to write here.  I am beginning to feel my book is taking a  back seat to the blog. I have made slow progress with it, yet is does have seventeen chapters already – not all of which I’m sure will make the final cut, but when I think about writing that many words I still marvel at the ability.

This blog offers so much more stimulation for me that it is now almost addicting. First of all I especially enjoy taking pictures. The little camera I use offers little variety as far functionality, but it does take some really great shots, despite limited access to manual settings.  It allows me to record everything around me at least and I am learning how to take pictures.

The cold these past few days has presented a realm of beauty we seldom see in this part of the world. I have had fun trying out new things.

 
I like this shot because, after dozens of tries before this, I finally have achieved a depth of field. My camera doesn’t allow me to set the F stop manually so I have to tinker with the ISO and macro modes and see what turns out.  This is great!  Here’s another.
See how the foreground is in focus and the back is out of focus.  Effect is achieved.
I didn’t even doctor this in Photoshop. I know it is a banal object, but aren’t the crystals interesting?
 
This was sunrise at our farm this morning.  The fog had frozen to everything leaving this beautiful icey mist on the trees and foliage.  I found it fascinating and couldn’t resist.
This was today’s slices.  Thanks for letting me share.
Love, Jeannene
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How To Walk On Water

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Today we have 3 to 4 inches of ice and snow covering the ground in our region of Arkansas. It is the largest amount of snow fall we have had in five years.  It has transformed the farm into a winter wonderland. The animals’ behavior is altered as well. I have been entertained watching them cope with all the white. The chickens haven’t ventured far past our front porch.  Evidently they have an aversion to cold feet and there is no food to be found with the grass covered by snow.

 
They are foraging in the narrow strip of grass at the edge of the porch.
As I was taking pictures of our pond, an amazing sight in the snow, our cats scurried over for some attention.  Cats don’t seem to have any qualms about walking on water that has frozen solid.
 Cats can walk on water…..if it’s frozen.
 
 
This guy has no idea there is water beneath his feet.
I spent a large part of the day learning how to use Photoshop Elements and I’m pleased with the progress made.  This is just a piece of our frozen pond I found especially photogenic, in my opinion at least.  The snow gives everything an entirely different look and feel.
 
Aside from playing on the computer for a large portion of the day, I spent an inordinate amount of time in the kitchen.  Needless to say we ate well and in large quantities.  I love staying home with everyone.
These are the slices for today you all.
Love, Jeannene

The Return of White

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Today I truly believed the weather prediction community had misread the signs in the heavens once again and I would be on my merry way into the big city at 0430 this morning.  Alas, I was wrong and my small world was pelted with an inch and a half of sleet.  Needless to say, I did not brave the roadways to make my mandatory appearance at my place of work, a deed for which I am sure to face repercussions, but I have an aversion to accidents and dying so I stayed put.

Of course being at home is the only invitation I require to prepare food. It doesn’t matter what kind of food, just any kind will do and my kids are so grateful that foraging in the refrigerator will not be a necessary compulsion to fend off hunger today. Then my thirteen year old will say I’m trying to make everybody fat, but that’s not true.  After shedding 35 lbs last year, I refuse to allow those suckers to find me again.

With this as a firm resolution I present you with this morning’s tasty dish, at the behest of both my children, Cheesy Potatoes.

You have to start with fried shredded potatoes with onions.
 
Then you have to smother them in a wonderfully cheesy sauce made from a reux.
 
Then mix them all together and this is what you get.  Cheesy Potatoes. Mmmm.
This was breakfast today.  A comfort food for all the snow now falling in Arkansas.  
I don’t even feel like we are in Arkansas at all.  Somebody moved me a hundred miles north when I wasn’t paying attention!
Happy winter all.
Love Jeannene

Winter Musings

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Well…I am supposed to be staying in the big city because freezing rain is expected in our area tonight and my presence at work is highly anticipated at 0530 in the morning, but there was no room in the inn (the hotel directly across the street from the hospital).  I consider this a directive from a being with more wisdom than I possess to spend my time with my family and eat the soup I prepared for dinner.  This opportunity also affords me the time to make some scrumptious bread to go with that soup. Yummy!

The fire in the wood stove is roaring and bathing the house in its warmth. Such simple satisfaction. If we experience a power outage, we will at least stay warm. The chickens are standing with one foot on the ground, a sure indication of cold climes.

We brace ourselves in Central Arkansas for, what the weather men portend, a sure freeze. I continue to have doubts and will believe it when it manifests itself as layers of ice coating everything. The last winter storm they predicted in minute detail disappointed my children immensely.

For now I write. If I had remained in town, I had planned to devote the lonely hours to continuing my novel and filling out an assignment I have almost completed for the workshop I am taking. Alas, the workshop assignment will have to wait as I answer the promptings of the characters of the novel.  They speak loud and long tonight. 

Keep warm and safe

Love, Jeannene

A day in the life of …. bread!

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Today I write.  I am off from work, having worked the week end, and so I spend this day writing.  I hope.  I started this blog as an effort to write and do it regularly. I find the most wonderful things to write about are the small treasures in my own life.  I realize my life has little importance to anyone except myself and perhaps my immediate family, but I take such pleasure in recording the small joys around me.  I enjoy posting pictures as it gives me practice in using this electronic medium and pushes me to learn how to edit photos, something that is not preternatural, yet fascinating to me.

The camera was a constant companion before the digital age and now I find myself relearning all those techniques on slightly a different medium. Today, the digital realm is challenging and so flexible and easy to manipulate. I can take a picture and have it in solid form in minutes after the shot is formed.  Astounding, the technological age we live in! The photoshop editor can do equally astounding feats if I can only master its abilities. Even my simple point and shoot camera can render some breathtaking photos of scenes I was hard put to capture twenty years ago.

Today, being the only day off I will have in the middle of the week for the next couple of weeks, I am trying to stuff as many things into it as possible.  The laundry calls – and I have answered.  I want to write at least another chapter on the western historical I am in the middle of and I want to make bread. Oh, I almost forgot.  I am supposed to rearrange the meager space in my closet and rifle through all those clothes I can no longer fit into to reduce the space they occupy. I really don’t feel like doing that….but I will do it.

I did actually get the bread started. This a new recipe I found at another woman’s blog. It promises to be delicious and crispy and will be the perfect accompaniment to the Chicken Parmesan my daughter requested for dinner tonight.  I am so eager to oblige her appeal for outstanding food. We will eat well tonight.

The bread turned out exactly as wonderfully as I had anticipated! I now have a new favorite bread and it is so easy.  This is a tribute to Ivory Hut. Thank you.

I tasted it already and am certain this is the “Italian”bread I have searched for all my life.  The crust is hard and crispy and the center is spongy and moist. Ahhhh.  The simple things in life can be so rewarding.
Happy eating.
Love, Jeannene

Birthday DInner

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Today was our third son’s sixteenth birthday. I can’t believe he was born that many years ago. It seems like yesterday. I was so young back then, and yet I don’t perceive myself as having aged one day since. Perception never seems to maintain the same pace as reality. Would that reality relied on perception – alas….Any way, back to the present.

My schedule today involved a full day at my paying job, the one I tolerate and from which I gladly accept a check every two weeks. My time away allowed for little time to bake his birthday cake. Not a crisis since he wanted to bake it himself. I have raised self-sufficient, self-reliant people. They know their way around the kitchen, thank God! Well, actually he enlisted his little sister to bake his cake today. She does a bang up job with cakes and meals, even at 13. Today’s cake wasn’t as pretty as most, but it tasted wonderful.

I have no clue as to the reason behind its distinctive lean, but it didn’t affect the flavor in the least.

This was my daughter’s first cake, made from scratch. Notice the chocolate curls on top. She is so imaginative and inventive.

So we do not judge today’s masterpiece harshly. We know what she is capable of. The fact that her brother was the one to frost it may have played a role in its state of lean, but we don’t hold that against him either.

Regardless, we love to eat celebratory birthday food and revel in the birthday boy’s joy.

Love to all,

Bitrthday Dinner

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Today was our third son’s sixteenth birthday.  I can’t believe he was born that many years ago.  It seems like yesterday. I was so young back then, and yet I don’t perceive myself as having aged one day since. Perception never seems to maintain the same pace as reality. Would that reality relied on perception – alas….Any way, back to the present.

My schedule today involved a full day at my paying job, the one I tolerate and from which I gladly accept a check every two weeks.  My time away allowed for little time to bake his birthday cake.  Not a crisis since he wanted to bake it himself.  I have raised self sufficient, self reliant people.  They know their way around the kitchen, thank God! Well, actually he enlisted his little sister to bake his cake today.  She does a bang up job with cakes and meals, even at 13.  Today’s cake wasn’t as pretty as most, but it tasted wonderful.

I have no clue as to the reason behind it’s distinctive lean, but it didn’t effect the flavor in the least.
 
This was my daughter’s first cake, made from scratch.  Notice the chocolate curls on top.  She is so imaginative and inventive. 
 
So we do not judge today’s masterpiece harshly.  We know what she is capable of.  The fact that her brother was the one to frost it may have played a roll in its state of lean, but we don’t hold that against him either.  
Regardless, we love to eat celebratory birthday food and revel in the birthday boy’s joy.  
Love to all,
Jeannene

Cats, cats and more cats

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I write this for my dad, a consummate cat lover. He was surprised at the gaggle of cats around the feed bowl the other day.  Today I will post pictures of our cats.  Living in the country makes one extremely susceptible to those pesky little varmints called mice.  In our case we have an occasional field rat.  When I say rat, I mean RAT.  Cats are really good at taking care of those nasty pests. 

We brought a male and a female home about a year and a half ago to tackle our inside mouse problem.  Those felines solved the problem post haste and then they procreated and now we have these little gems.

This was in the beginning.  This one is CJ and is he ever tiny here.
Nothing but fur.
This in one whole cat.  He’s just very flexible.
 
Our mama cat                              ….and this is Garfield. He is a big beautiful tabby.
 
Wood pile sitting is always a popular past time.  This is Zoe and Fluffy.  We named her that because she really is FLUFFY.
Last but not least is TG and Buster.
There are still two not pictured, but this is enough cats.
Thank you all for bearing with me.
Love, Jeannene

Colors of Food

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This is really frivolous, but I just have to include this.  The other day I was making a wonderful soup that required a lot of chopping.  I like to chop.  As my mother pointed out the other day, chopping is therapeutic. I mean hand chopping.  It puts you in contact with the food- direct contact.  The texture is revealed to your touch and the smell and, in the case of onions, that distinct sting to your eyes.  Chopping makes me feel the food.  I am all about feeling the food, especially as it is consumed.

This recipe required at least five different vegetables, all of which were chopped nicely before being dumped in the pot. After they were all ready to go, my daughter passed the chopping board and remarked at the beautiful colors  displayed.  I had the same thought and I had to snap a shot of it.

I didn’t plan the assortment, it just happened. Then there was this one.
 
I like the texture of the tomatoes.  Please don’t count me crazy, but I rediscovered the camera. In the drab of winter, besides the morning sky, very little color is available to snap pictures of.
I think I might be getting the hang of this.  Thanks for indulging me.
Happy Birthday Jeremy.  I remember the day you were born.
Love, Mom
Jeannene

The Feed Bowl – Who’ s Bowl is it Anyway?

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We live in the country.  How I love it out here.  Surrounding our little farm is grass and trees and trees and grass. It is usually quiet (except during hunting season when hunters will fire their weapons against game on their own land). Part of the draw of the country is having animals.  We have some.  They provide wonderful entertainment. We recently added chickens to our animal repertoire. The chickens are free range birds, choosing to roost in various and sundry perches around the farm. We don’t feed these birds much either.  They are pretty much on their own.  When it’s really cold we’ll toss out some corn and grain for them, but for the most part they have to find their own eats.

With that in mind, I post the following shots.  Our chickens, since we don’t coddle them, have become extremely resourceful.They eat from every bucket they can find, even from the cat’s bowl.  The chickens spend a great deal of their day with the horses scarfing feed that has fallen from their lips.

 Can you make out the feathered ‘cats’ on the left?  Those cats will allow the chickens to eat with them. Can you believe it?  No shame!
 
Do you see the roosters waiting in the wings (a little punny)? 
The cats will allow the roosters to intimidate them away from the bowl.  Animals will always amaze me.  Those chickens are a hoot to watch. 
Thanks for sharing this slice with me.
Love, Jeannene