Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday Fun

I'm so happy! Today I got my first paycheck for my new "substitutoring" job.  It's small, but every little bit helps. Plus, I think my new job is really fun. I went in to sub again on Tuesday and the time just flew by. I'm hoping that I get to sub more during the next semester.  Not that I want the regular tutors to get sick....really.

Here are more cards from Aunt Nell's box.  The one below was sent to her from my Uncle Otto and Aunt Mary. Uncle Otto was my great-uncle. He was my grandfather's brother. I love that I had an Uncle Otto. His name is a palindrome!  Palindromes are cool.

This afternoon I made a loaf of oatmeal bread. I'd post a picture, but my camera battery is having to re-charge. Trust me. It looks good and tastes wonderful, especially warm from the oven.

Today was The Boy's last day of school and he got home right before lunchtime.  So far he's reported making nothing but A's on his final exams.  He also came in 2nd place in the school spelling bee earlier this week, and 2nd place in the school book-fair. I posted a picture of him diligently working on that project here.

Have a blessed weekend!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

{pretty, happy, funny, real}


A decorated tree! Decorated mostly by The Boy this year. Maybe I'll have the mantel fixed up for next week's post.


Tasha Tudor's Christmas book,  Take Joy, makes me happy. It's opened up to one of my favorite carols, "Bring the Torch Jeanette, Isabella."  I love that carol so much that I used to tease The Professor that if we ever had a daughter we must name her "Jeanette Isabella."  


When I saw what The Boy had done to our Nativity, I had to laugh.

I immediately thought of  this verse:

And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.
Matthew 11:12


An old family recipe!
Aunt Laura's Cranberry Pudding  

I'm including this for shwell, who asked about the recipe in the comments from Leila's Plum Pudding Tutorial.
The Professor's Aunt Laura passed this down to her daughter-in-law, Cousin Ev, and she passed it on to her children and me.  My attempts at making this pudding have been rather pathetic. I think I always end up over cooking it. I am going to be making it again next week.

Aunt Laura's Cranberry Pudding
1 egg, beaten 
1 large T sugar
1/4 c. white syrup *note from me - I assume this is corn syrup*
1/4 c. molasses
1 c. cranberries cut in half
1/2 c. nut meats - cut  *we use pecans, coarsely chopped*
1 1/2 c. sifted bread flour *Cousin Ev says Aunt Laura actually used all-purpose flour, so that's what we use.*
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. soda
1/3 c. hot water - dissolve soda in water

Steam 1 1/2 hours. *Cousin Ev says she thinks it takes longer, but this is what the original recipe states.*
*Also, the original recipe stated that it should be put into a Hills Bro. coffee can and steamed. Ev uses a double boiler. This year I'm going to try Leila's plum pudding steaming method.*

1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. cream *Aunt Laura used half and half, Cousin Ev uses milk, I have made this sauce with cream*
1 c. sugar
Boil 1/2 minute -add vanilla (no indication of how much vanilla to add - I use a tsp.)
Serve hot over pudding.
This sauce is so good, you will want to serve it hot over everything!

Capture more contentment over at LMLD today!
round button chicken

Friday, December 9, 2011

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real... Better Late Than Never?

Uh, I'm joining up with {phfr} at LMLD - a day late (and a dollar short, as the old folks say.)


I call this my "starter" icon corner.

Here's my icon corner. I think it's pretty. It's also a very peaceful spot in my home.  Am I the only Southern Baptist with an icon corner? Maybe so, but I don't care. I love my icons, and the saints that they depict, and our Lord Jesus Christ.  We are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses!


My Barton Method teaching manuals. 

Last week I started a new job! I started training to be a Barton method tutor at our little elementary school. I used to be a special education teacher, and I've been looking for something to do part time, and a friend at church told me about the tutoring program in our school district. Right now I'm just a substitute for when the regular tutors have to be out, and I've only worked one day, but I really enjoyed it. It's basically one-on-one tutoring for students who are showing symptoms of dyslexia, whether they actually have a diagnosis of it or not.  I think it's a great program and I'm hoping that next year something will work out so that I can be a regular tutor and not just a "substitutor."  It makes me so happy that I have this opportunity!


The Boy and I are taking a sick day today.  The Boy has a nasty cold and spent much of last night coughing, poor thing.  I've started working on a cold myself, which is not unusual, since whatever he comes down with, I eventually come down with it, too.  Fortunately, he's normally a very healthy young man.  Anyway, I know that having a cold is not funny, but we've been entertaining ourselves today by watching our favorite "Jeeves and Wooster" series from the BBC.  The Boy and I find these shows extremely funny...The Professor finds them we watch them when he's not around.  Hugh Laurie simply is Bertie Wooster. 

What, ho and tootle-pip!


The song says "It's the hap - happiest season of all..."

Well, I know it is a happy season, but I also know that my prayer list is full of those who may not be experiencing the "hap-happiest" feelings right now:

A friend from high school who just learned that the colon cancer she's been fighting has spread to her liver.

The family of a young man from a near-by town who was killed in a car accident earlier this week. He was a senior in high school.

The high school football coach in another near-by town who was shot and injured in his own back yard after his wife was shot and killed, evidently by the same intruders, also earlier this week. They have a three year old daughter. 

Matushka Anna, grieving over the loss of her unborn baby.

A neighbor whose husband died suddenly in August, having to spend her first Christmas in 40 years without him.

Real is the fact that it's NOT the "most wonderful time of the year" right now for many.  There is pain, and suffering, and loss.  I am at a loss as well. I wish I could do more. All I can do is lift them up in prayer and trust God to bring each one of them through these difficult circumstances.

round button chicken

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Winter Wonderland?

Here's a picture I took from my front porch this morning:


And here's a picture of the holly bush in front of my house:

And, finally, one from the west side of the house:

This is the second snow we've had in the last week!  This is highly unusual for my part of the world. We don't usually get weather like this until January or February.

We aren't expecting much accumulation, even though it's not supposed to stop snowing until about noon. The Boy isn't even out of school today and The Professor is still giving his students their final exams at The College.

If this "snow every week" pattern keeps up, could we possibly have a White Christmas this year?  Hope springs eternal!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas Greetings from 1963

A few months ago I received a box of documents that had belonged to my Great-Aunt Nell, one of my paternal grandmother's sisters.  I always think of Aunt Nell as the one who really held the family together. She was a school-teacher, but she also ran the family farm, along with her other unmarried sister, my Great-Aunt Will.  I could go on and on about Aunt Nell, who passed away when I was two, but has nevertheless had an influence in my life. Maybe another day...

Back to the point. I was hoping for family letters or other documents in this box I was given, but what the box contained was a collection of Christmas cards that Aunt Nell and Aunt Will received in 1963.  Sort of disappointing for me, but, the cards are so sweet.  Most of them are from friends whom I do not know,  some are from other family members, and a few include personal notes to Aunt Nell.

Is this not charming! The art reminds me of Tasha Tudor.

There is even one from my own mother and father.

 The card Mother sent that year. I miss her!
But here's the sweetest one. 

It's a simple postcard, with the address and stamp on the other side, not even an envelope.  I don't know who Gertrude and Laura Lynne were. I'll have to ask my father or his sisters, I guess. In my imagination they are either a mother and unmarried daughter or  two sisters in "reduced circumstances." The handwriting seems to be that of an older woman. Anyway, Gertrude made an effort to reach out to Aunt Nell, whose friendship she valued, in the best way she could.  I love it.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real

Capturing the contentment of everyday life...


A pretty poinsettia. 


My Advent "wreath." OK - I know it's just four candles on a round tray, but I'm happy that I actually had purple and pink candles! No greenery, yet, but I love the purple silk fabric, although now I realize I should have fixed it so that it didn't look so lumpy in the picture. And I also just realized you can hardly see one of the purple candles - but it's there, peeking up from behind the pink one.  


I caught Bud, The Little Dog, in the middle of The Boy's bed, a definite "no-no" for him. Can you tell he's trying very hard to be so small I don't notice him and make him leave his nice warm spot? Nice try, Bud!


The Boy, working on his reading fair project before Thanksgiving. Note the "real" condition of my living room.

round button chicken

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving Trip/An Early Winter Storm Watch!

Whoa, Nellie! We are under a winter storm watch today and tonight, which is highly unusual for our area at this time of year.

We had a wonderful trip to the Smokies. We were able to take my favorite loop hike, the Rich Mountain Loop Trail, in Cades Cove.
Looking down into Tuckaleechee Cove from the trail.
Me - no make-up, terrible hair - the usual.
While we were in the National Park, we went to Elkmont to see the cabin that The Professor's grandfather built. It's a little more than one-hundred years old.
The cabin at Elkmont where The Professor spent time as a boy.

It rained on our way up Mt. LeConte. I told you it would. It always rains, either going up or coming down, or both.  It only rained on our way up this time. Yay.
A very cute squirrel at Rainbow Falls, on our way up .
Somebody had obviously been feeding that little squirrel.

Lunch along the trail, in the clouds.

Fortunately, we were able to get our lunch eaten before the rain set in.
The last picture before the deluge.
We didn't take any more pictures since it started pouring rain shortly after we had lunch and the camera stayed packed away for the rest of the trip. I wish I had taken pictures of our time in Maggie Valley with the family. 

Now, I'm off to the grocery store. I would be going to the grocery store today anyhow since we were out of town all last week, but because there's a Winter Storm Watch it is imperative that I go get bread and milk. :) 

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Week from Today...

We'll be on the trail!

It will be raining...

because it ALWAYS rains when we hike up to LeConte Lodge.

These pictures were taken in the summer of 09 - I can't find any pictures of our  hike to LeConte Lodge  last November. I probably didn't take any because it was RAINING the whole time.

More pictures of me with no makeup and really bad hair will be taken!

But I won't care, because we'll be in the Smokies! One of the most heavenly places on earth....

even when it's RAINING. Which it will be, because it ALWAYS does.

We'll be spending a night on top of Mt. LeConte, then traveling to The Professor's dear family in North Carolina for Thanksgiving.

Check out LeConte Lodge here: LeConte Lodge, and the manager's blog, High On LeConte.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Cure for Insomnia

As I have reached middle age I have had to deal with quite a few of the issues associated with it: the weight that will not leave, the hormonal ebbs and flows, etc. One thing that had been driving me NUTS was the lack of sleep. Most nights either I could not get to sleep until well after mid-night, or if I did get to sleep, I'd wake up around 3 am - the dreaded 3 am - and not get back to sleep until right before I needed to get up to start the day.  It made me a Zombie Mom.

A view on The College campus

About a year or so ago I discovered that magnesium supplement that really does help with the problem, most of the time. Also, as I've written about before, my Nightly Routine helps immensely. I mean, when I was sitting up to read stuff online at 10:30, that wasn't exactly helping me get to sleep - duh! Now, I'm always off the computer by 9 and doing those little before bed things that help get me ready for sleep.  But there have  still been some nights that not even my before bed routine and Natural Calm seemed to help. I figured it was just something I was going to have to live with. Just one of the issues of mid-life.
Looking back down the trail

Then...I made another big discovery, which, when you find out what it is you will respond with a big, "DUH, Carlyn, how come you haven't figured this out before?"

The trees are so beautiful!

What is this miracle of miracles that has helped me fall asleep faster and stay asleep?  Two words: Long Walks.

I know, I know - totally obvious. So simple.  Pretty soon I'm going to write a big post on how eating less helped me lose weight, too. (Ha!)


What happened to bring me to this big discovery? I mean, I've always known the importance of exercise. In fact, I've been exercising off and on for quite some time.  Lately I've been doing 20 or 30 minutes of some sort of exercise two or three times a week - like some sprints or body weight exercises. I'm sure that is helpful and good for me, but I hadn't been doing anything every day. And, honestly, I hadn't noticed that it helped me get to sleep at night, either.

My dear walking companions.

However, we are heading out to the mountains in a few weeks for our annual Thanksgiving Break trip. We'll be doing some hiking in the Smokies and  I thought I'd actually attempt to be prepared for our hikes ahead of time, and so I started taking long walks, about an hour, every afternoon.  I am not doing "speed walking"  - I'm just walking along, like I would on a "real" hike up a mountain, going up the trail in the woods on The College property, usually along with either The Boy, The Professor, or both - and always with Lucky, The Big Dog. (Bud, The Small Dog, has hurt his paw and is confined to short walks for now.)  When I get home, I'm not especially tired, and I go about the rest of the evening's business as usual. But, when I go to bed, I have noticed that my sleep has been much, much better.

Treat, please!

Maybe it's a combination of getting outdoors and into the fresh air and sunshine for an hour every day, plus the walking, plus the companionship, which is helping reduce the normal stress of life, which is helping me rest better at night. Whatever it is - it works for me!

On the way home

Pictures were taken on our Sunday afternoon walk - what a gorgeous day!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Mystery Monday - Elizabeth Daly

My last Mystery Monday post was about Josephine Tey - a writer who never really kept to a particular formula for her mystery novels.  That "unexpectedness" is a quality I love about her books. (Did I mention how much I love The Daughter of Time? I think I did - but I'll mention it again here.)

However, sometimes a good formula is exactly what you are looking for.

When we travel we often stop at the ubiquitous Cracker Barrel restaurants, because we want to stop somewhere and get a bite to eat where we can expect pretty good food, decent service, and reasonable prices.  Family travel can be stressful enough, so having a familiar place to go where it is not likely to encounter unpleasant surprises is a blessing.  Well, I guess the mystery novels by Elizabeth Daly are  the "Cracker Barrels" of my collection.  When you read a book by Daly, you know pretty much what you are getting, which is an excellent mystery with an engaging main character.

First, a little background.  Elizabeth Daly was an American woman who did not begin her novel writing career until she was in her sixties. (I'm so impressed with this - it's never too late!)  In her early career she was a tutor in French and English at Bryn Mawr College. I think she was 62 when her first mystery novel was published in 1940.  She eventually wrote 16 mystery novels centered around her detective, Henry Gamadge.

Gamadge is not actually a detective at all. He is an authority on rare books and manuscripts, although he does have an interest in criminology.  I don't think he ever takes a case for pay. Usually he investigates a problem simply in order to help the people involved.

This brings us to the "formula" I spoke of earlier.  Daly's books are usually set in New York City, or those spots in New England where the City folk would have a summer place, like Connecticut or Maine.  Gamadge is a quiet man who spends his time authenticating manuscripts in his home in the City, until someone comes to him with a problem. Usually, this problem concerns a family secret that the members of the family are anxious to keep secret, but the problem that has arisen threatens to bring shame and/or unwanted publicity or cost the family what is left of their fortune, etc. Sometimes these problems seem to involve elements of the supernatural.  Gamadge is engaged to help them solve this problem discreetly. He takes the case and, of course, murder ensues.  This pattern is followed, with variations, in almost all of the books. Even in those books where this pattern is not followed exactly, the stories are always about families having to deal with unusual situations.

Now, I wouldn't want to leave the impression that if you've read one Gamadge mystery, you've read them all. Even though the books do follow a basic formula, each of the stories is very intelligently written, the problems are unique, and there is usually a surprising twist just when you think you have it all figured out. I think they are quite fun reading.

I also like Henry Gamadge. I read somewhere that Gamadge has been called the American Lord Peter Wimsey. Well, I wouldn't go that far.  Lord Peter he is not.  However, what I like about Gamadge is his "goodness" - he is a very kind, decent, rather self-effacing, fellow.

I also enjoy Daly's books because of their - how shall I put this?-  non-vulgar quality.  I understand that humans are sinful, sin is a fact of human existence, and that mystery novels deal with the darker side of humanity - murder, lust, greed, adultery, etc.  However, I do not care to read those books that sort of wallow in the muckiness of human behavior. (This explains why my favorite books were all written in the earlier parts of the last century.)  Elizabeth Daly never wallows.

I've read almost all of the Henry Gamadge books, except Deadly Nightshade. I can't find a copy of that for less than $40 and I'm not going to pay that much for a mystery novel, no matter how good it is! All of her other books can be found pretty cheaply at or Amazon.  I won't list all of her books here but I will mention a few that I really enjoyed.

The Murders in Volume II

Evidence of Things Seen

Arrow Pointing Nowhere

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real...Family Reunion!

We had a family reunion over the weekend with my extended family on my mother's side. Almost all of my cousins made it, along with their spouses and children and grandchildren. Several of the cousins and their families couldn't make it this time, so we had a smaller group than usual, but we still had a great time.  I thought the event was worth documenting with a {pretty, happy, funny, real} post.


The pretty young girl in this photo is my maternal grandmother, who was about eighteen at the time. It was taken around 1934. It's a 5 generation picture: my grandmother, whom we called "Mimmie," her first-born son, her father (Poppa - holding the baby), Poppa's mother, and her father, who would be my great-great-great grandfather. (Is that clear as mud?)

I had never seen this photo before, but at the reunion my uncle, who was the baby in the picture, gave each of us a copy of it.  I LOVE it! I had never seen my grandmother looking quite so young as she does in this picture.

My sister (in the blue top) and me with most of our first cousins.
Two of the cousins were missing. 
I love seeing these people! Getting together with them makes me very happy.


My cousin Karen, being funny with her dad.

Here's my dear Uncle Roy, the baby in the top picture, now the patriarch of the family. The four people on the left side of the picture are his children. 


My sister, me, and our menfolk.
is the love we grew up with, from our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and the love we share with our children now!

round button chicken

Monday, October 17, 2011

Mystery Monday- Tey for Two

I've been reading all my life, or at least since I was five. The first book I read on my own was I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew, by Dr. Seuss.  I can remember deciphering the first sentence on the first page, the rest of the text still just mysterious letters on the page.  I have had a book in my hands almost every day ever since.  I love the literature of the past; Austen, Dickens, Tolstoy, and my very favorite, Dostoevsky.  I love the stories of Flannery O'Connor.  I've got Sir Walter Scott on my Kindle, along with St. Athanasius, and G.K. Chesterton.  But what I really, really, love to read are mysteries, particularly British mysteries written between, say, 1920 and 1950, or thereabout.  "Vintage" mysteries, from the Golden Age of mystery writing and a bit beyond. (Technically, I believe the Golden Age of mystery novels starts at around 1913 and ends around 1945, at the end of WWII.)  I do enjoy some American mystery writers from the same time period, but my favorites are British.

I've decided to use my blog to highlight some of my favorite mystery writers, especially those who may be lesser known. In fact, I'm not going to talk about the Grande Dame of mystery fiction, Agatha Christie, at all, except to say that her books were what I started with way back when I was around thirteen years old.

I just finished reading two books (The Man in the Queue, and A Shilling for Candles) by the Scottish writer Elizabeth MacKintosh, who wrote under the names of Gordon Daviot and Josephine Tey.  I believe that most of her novels are now published under the name of Josephine Tey.  I think she considered herself a playwright who occasionally wrote novels, although today her books are probably better known than her plays. She loved history and at least two of her books are based on historical events.  She had an idea that the notorious King Richard III, who through the ages has been known as the wicked king who had his own nephews murdered in the Tower of London, was actually innocent of that crime.  She wrote a play about him, Richard of Bordeaux, and one of her mystery novels, one of my favorites, The Daughter of Time,  is a defense of the much maligned Richard.

She only wrote eight mystery novels, starting in 1929 with The Man in the Queue and ending shortly before her death in 1952 with The Singing Sands. I've read six, so far, and each one has been very enjoyable and unique.  I'll list all of her books here, since there are so few of them:

The Man in the Queue
A Shilling for Candles
Miss Pym Disposes
The Franchise Affair - a favorite of mine
Brat Farrar
To Love and Be Wise  
The Daughter of Time - highly recommended!
The Singing Sands

I have found some of her books at the library, but because I have this sick need to own all these old books, I am not satisfied with checking books out at the library. Any time I have the opportunity to visit used book shops, antique stores or "junk-tique" stores I always check for books by my favorite authors.  The large 3-in 1 book in the picture above was found on a trip to the Smokies. I don't know how that book ended up in an antique mall in Wears Valley, TN, but that's where I found it. I think I paid about $2.00 for it. I found the other two on the AbeBooks website.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

3 Days of Yogurt: Day Three - The Final Product

When we last left my new batch of yogurt, it was sitting in the refrigerator chilling out.  I put it in about 6:30 yesterday morning to give it a chance to thicken a little bit before I started the final stage of the process.

Later in the morning, around 9-ish, I did the following:

I took the bowl out of the fridge, got my colander, and the crock from my slow cooker.  I use the crock from my cooker for this step because I don't have a bowl that is deep enough to keep the liquid that drips from the yogurt away from the bottom of the colander.  It's a little wonky, the colander doesn't exactly fit in it well, but it works for me.

It's not a great fit, as you can see.
I set the colander in the crock, as shown.  Then I got my flour sack towels and spread them out inside the colander, as shown.

I used two towels, but I think just one would work.
Next, I poured the yogurt from the bowl into the colander.

I have taken the corners of the towels and made a little bag.
You can't see it, but there is already whey dripping out into the crock.
The whey, which is the liquid from the yogurt, is dripping through the cloth and the colander, into the crock.
I covered the yogurt lightly with the corners of the towels and put the whole thing back into the fridge. This whole process took me about 5 minutes. Probably not that long.

Another picture of my unusually empty fridge!

Then I left it alone, again, for several hours.  I went to the grocery store, I ran errands, I ate lunch, etc., etc. I don't usually leave it for as long as I did yesterday, but I had stuff to do.  Most of the time I think I leave it to drain about 2-3 hours.  The longer you leave it, of course, the thicker it gets.

I got back to my yogurt again around 1:30. I took it out of the fridge and put it into the clean container I had ready.

I picked it up this way and sort of twisted the towels and squeezed it to get  even more liquid out.

At this point it was so thick that I just sort of rolled the yogurt off the towel and into the bowl.  I used a spoon to get the little globs off the sides.  This part can get a little messy.

Ta-Da!  Very thick, creamy yogurt!

The liquid whey that is left over can be saved and used in baking.  According to my Nourishing Traditions book the whey can be used to make sauerkraut.  I haven't done that, but I'd like to try it soon. Here's a picture of the whey I had left.

And, finally, here's what I had for a treat after all my work was done!

My homemade, full-fat, Greek-style yogurt with some frozen blueberries on top!
Making yogurt does take a while, but I have found that I can work it in to my routine very easily. Pour milk into crock pot - do other stuff- unplug crock pot- do other stuff- put towel over crock pot- go to bed, etc. As long as I remember that I'm making yogurt, there's no problem.

I love making my own yogurt! I hope these posts will inspire you to try it yourself. Like my favorite Auntie Leila says, "If I can do it so can you."