Thursday, October 27, 2016

Happy Irish Halloween!

One new way to celebrate Halloween: Make it Celtic. 

   Actually, the old Celtic festival of "Samhain," or 'Summer's End' (pronounced 'saw-en') came close to the date. Scottish colonists celebrated "All Hallows Even" on the same night. Eventually the two blended. Jack-o-Lanterns were carved -- but from turnips!

    Departed souls are said to be able to walk freely on this night. So to protect their families, householders would cover mirrors and sprinkle holy water around their buildings and farm animals. (Frankly, if the Dearly Departed want a crack at our chickens, I can tell you who's going to win -- and it's not going to be ghosts.)

Some famous shades are featured on Irish Central this month, including the White Lady of Kinsale. She is thought to be an aggrieved widow of a soldier who was shot for sleeping on the job. Which explains one of her favorite hobbies: pushing military men down the stairs.

'Barmbrack,' or 'speckled cake,' a fruit-studded sweet bread, is a favorite dish to serve on an Irish Halloween. This version has been adapted from the traditional recipe given on Irish Central. (Go here for that one.)

     Serve it with a glass of cider, and stay close to the woodstove. Ghosties and ghoulies may be out tonight. 


4 tablespoons butter
1 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar  (1/2 cup, if you like a sweeter bread)
1/2 teaspoon each cinnamon and nutmeg
1 tablespoon yeast
3 1/2 cups flour
1 egg
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (pecans are even better)

Microwave the butter and milk together until the butter is slightly melted; add sugar and spices. Let sit until warm, not hot, to the touch -- then add yeast. (Hot milk will kill it.) Let sit again for 10 min., if possible, to proof. (Go ahead at this point, if your time is limited.)
    Quickly mix in the the rest of the ingredients; your dough should be moist and somewhat heavy. (Tip: for high altitudes, use heaping cup measurements of flour -- it helps.) Cover in a greased bowl and let rise until doubled in size. Punch down, then shape into a loaf. Brush with butter, sprinkle with sugar and let rise again until doubled.
     Bake 40 min. at 400 degrees. A toothpick inserted in the middle of the loaf should come out clean.
     Serve warm in slices, slathered with butter.

An Irish cemetary -- just for inspiration, mind you

(This post was also featured on the Holiday foods blog.)

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Hunting Report

In the Colorado boonies, that is.

The Brick is hunting both deer and elk in the Meeker/Craig area this week with friends Dan and Sharon, Tommy, and Tommy's son Chris.

This area is incredibly beautiful -- but dry. Until it rains -- then it's slogging through muddy roads that are easy to slip off. (And drop a few hundred feet or so.)

Remote, too. Their camp is in the lighter-colored area in the middle of the photo, down in the valley.

It rained two nights ago, which is a good thing -- rain often means snow at higher elevations, and that drives the animals down to lower levels. Meeker's at 6240 feet altitude..but the mountains nearby can easily go up to 13,000 feet or so. (Lest you think that sounds awfully high...we live at 6250 ft in Castle Rock. Even most of Denver is at 5280 ft. No big deal here in Colorado.)

The Brick and Tommy found a lovely area tucked away, which they later discovered was called Hidden Valley. For good reason, too.

It included caves:

And this unusual rock formation. Give it your own name!

But elk or deer? Only a few...and those were seen from a distance.


At least they've got wonderful scenery to inspire them.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

How Old IS Log Cabin?

If you're a fan of this pieced pattern...

it may be a lot older than you think. 

No, not this Log Cabin -- though it's nice, too.

This one!    (The quilt on the left.)

That's the general design.The 'logs' can be arranged in all sorts of widths and variations -- and the blocks themselves can be arranged in all sorts of settings, from Sunshine & Shadow to Courthouse Steps. (The setting version you're seeing in the photo above is often called Barn Raising.)

     Colors are important, too. If the central square in the basic block is red, it's said to represent 'hearth and home,' a fireplace or chimney. Abolitionists during the Civil War era reportedly also used black as the central square to signal their beliefs.

      I've heard (and read) that the basic block was inspired by plowed fields, hedges...and of course, the ubiquitous shelter made out of logs. One historian insists that the pattern originally comes from the Isle of Man. American Log Cabin quilts were definitely influenced by their European forebears, but ranged into a new category all their own, thanks to the wild frontier, pioneer emigration and the general scarcity of fabric, until the advent of the railroad in the mid-19th century.

Using up scraps, particularly strips, meant the Log Cabin was economical, as well as useful. Earlier quilters often stitched their Log Cabin strips onto a fabric background, a method similar to traditional Victorian era Crazy quilt construction. Today's Log Cabin quilts, though, are squares and strips pieced together in ever-expanding rows of color.

But did the Log Cabin pattern start a hundred years or so ago? Couldn't be, because...

The design  is thousands of years old, at the very least. I had heard about it being pictured as a pharoah's vest in Egyptian tomb paintings. Then I came across these mummified cats, originally from Egypt but now in the British Museum, while researching other (ahem) 'stuffed' items.

Check out the pattern of the weaving on the cat on the left. Is it...?

Yes...yes, it is. Good 'ol Log Cabin.  And the woven design on the cat mummy next to it is reminiscent of Rail Fence, also called Roman Rail.

Go figure.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Progress... And Hey Girl Revisited

     If you read yesterday's post, you might be thinking I'm taking long, aimless bubble baths and sitting around a lot. Instead, after publishing that post, I...

    *Did some more wash and folded a bunch of clothes
    *Cleaned up the kitchen and loaded the dishwasher (at 1:30 a.m.)
    *Started an election judge's job at 9 a.m. this morning. (Sounds more impressive than it really is -- I'm just opening envelopes.) Worked more than 5 hours.
    *Stopped by church and unloaded 35 pounds of chicken wings...for a January seniors luncheon. Somehow I got them all stuffed in the freezer. Cleaned up the chicken drippings off the counter and floor. (The car is next; fortunately, we have a rubber cover that slides out and can be hosed off.)
     *Went to the bank, the library, the post office and the grocery store.
     *Got home. CRASHED.
     *Picked myself back up, ate supper, fed the dogs and chickens -- then:
     *Cored and chunked apples for three hours at friends' house. (They're canning applesauce and chutney this week.)

(Oh, and the Broncos creamed Houston, 27-9.)

Boy, am I beat -- but at least I got a lot done.

Now for that long bubble bath.

If you've been hanging out on this blog very long, you know I've got a thing for the 'Hey Girl' memes -- especially the book and craft-related ones. Ryan Gosling's the main feature, but now and then other guys creep in.

             Check out the previous ones by clicking on the link -- or just enjoy this current batch. Yow.


Yeah...well, I did it today anyways, buddy.

(Mr. Cumberbatch is included, in honor of Sherlock  finally starting its fourth season. This guy is amazing.)

And to keep things steady, until the Brick gets home from hunting:


Sunday, October 23, 2016

Monday Stuff On the Way to Other Stuff: Keeping On Keeping On

    It's dry, surprisingly warm (at least during the day) and sunny...and I have absolutely no motivation to do anything. 
    Is it loneliness?  The Brick is off hunting with his buddies this week on the Western Slope.
    Is it recovering from fatigue and a lot of stress? (I did do a lot of teaching and running around this past month or two.)
    Is it going into flu? 
   It's not football malaise -- Michigan stomped all over Illinois this past week, and the University of Colorado won a game against Stanford -- in California, no less -- that they weren't supposed to be capable of doing. Guess the Buffs didn't get the message. (snicker)

    Who knows.

    Stuff is EVERYWHERE -- piles of clean (but not folded) clothes, dirty dishes in the sink, cans of soup on the floor, keeping company with the hunting gear the Brick didn't take. 
    I have chores that need to get done before cold sets in -- like painting the front door and the chicken coop, and starting to clear out the basement. I've been going through the hundreds of books we have, and keeping just the dearly-loved or rare ones. Gotta lot more work to do in this area.
    These are tasks that are easier to do without having to stop to make supper, do that errand, or cart this around because the Brick needs it. I should be chipping away at the list NOW.
    Tomorrow starts a side job as an election judge. This sounds more important than it will be: sitting at a table for hours at a time, opening vote envelopes. Whoopee. But it's work, and adds $$ to the mutual coffer. Things shouldn't be too stressful until the last few days of voting...when you work 10-12 hours at a time. 
    Speaking of:

Who won the third (and final, thank God) presidential debate? Many are saying that Chris Wallace, the moderator, did. 
     While we're at it...

Ten more things learned about Mrs. Clinton and her tribe, courtesy of Wikileaks and Listverse. None of which are pleasant.

For all those rude celebrities (and others) who announce if So-And-So wins the election, they're moving to Canada:   a list of prime Canadian real estate, all set to choose from!  (Thank you, Urban Daddy, you rude bugger)

Money tight? Look on it as a challenge.  (From Life After Money)

Save more by doing your holiday shopping AFTER the holidays. And it isn't just Christmas, either...  (From One Hundred Dollars A Month)

Nine of the strangest recent forgery scandals in the art world.  (From Artnet News)

Terrifying archaeological discoveries -- including the 2,000-year-old body that refuses to rot. (Scientists think it has a lot to do with the 20 layers of silk that she was wrapped in. Hmmm...) From Cracked, who gave us more of same, if you're interested. (Like pits discovered, full of severed hands. Ironically, they're all 'righties.') Plus some weird scientific "we sure can't explain THIS" discoveries.

A bulldog coffee table!  (From The Graphics Fairy)

I don't live in a truck -- I just stay there. (From Inside the Box)

Trolls-inspired recipes... from our buddette, Betty Crocker. Including this rainbow cake roll:

Ol' Bett's got a list of restaurant-quality dishes that can be done in the crockpot, too.

Ten mysterious mosaics. Including Hagia Sophia's hidden angel, found only during restoration work...and a bunch of Roman stuff.  (From Listverse)

Caramel apple cheesecake. Oh my.  (From Crazy for Crust)

Simple-yet-unusual ideas for makeup, accessories, costumes for Halloween.  (From Apartment Therapy)

25 Cent Dinners for a Family of Six -- a free Amazon e-book by Juliet Corson. Granted, this book was first published in 1879, but it has some enormously helpful tips that still work today. It also has some interesting recipes, including Baked Pig's Head and Half-Pay Pudding. But for free, what can you quibble about?

Have a great week. 


Just a few days from now marks the year anniversary of a very difficult professional situation I was forced to endure. Once it was resolved (and that took a LOT), the hits continued. It took at least six months for business to start coming back up...and I still carry the scars. Probably always will.

But I'm still here, thanks to God's grace and a lot of patience. 
    If you're going through a difficult situation right now, remember: 

Hang in there.

Friday, October 21, 2016


This is one of the stranger canine entries on the Weird-O-Meter  that I've come across...

A dog gets stuck in a tree trunk sometime in the Sixties, but isn't found until decades later, mummified and stiff as a board.

So what do the loggers who found him do? Cut the tree down, naturally, and feature this guy in a museum!    (Another take on this petrified hound dog is here.)

"Stuckie" can be viewed, tree trunk and all, at the Southern Forest World Museum and Environmental Center in Waycross, GA. You can see him up-close in this video:

(Don't be afraid to mute the sound, if need be -- the guy narrating can get a little silly.)

Interestingly, this isn't that uncommon: dog mummies are routinely found with burials -- more than 100 in Peru, so far. Hmmm...

...and millions in Egypt.

And so you don't have nightmares -- some happy dogs whose owners didn't mummify them!

Charley included...
Mom -- nobody's laying a paw on ME!