Sunday, November 28, 2010

Tennessee Thanksgiving with Family

Thanksgiving was extra special this year… it was nephew Little Hoss' first Thanksgiving and my family came down to TN to celebrate!

This meant we had to move a LOT of things off shelves to preserve them from curious 15 month old hands!   Didn’t take long for it to look like we had babies in the house!  Isn’t it grand!?

Little Bird brought a bag full of toys.

Little Hoss was happy in his jumper.

Munchies were laid out for snacking until the meal was done.  The summer sausage came from the bison ranch we visited on our trip a few weeks ago.

Then mid-afternoon it was time for the Thanksgiving feast.  We had turkey, dressing, gravy, mash potatoes, wild rice, Harvard beets, green beans, golden cauliflower, cranberry sauce (homemade), can cranberry jelly, and sour dough dinner rolls.

We also had red and white wine, plus sparkling grape juice.  Little Bird got to try the grape juice in her very own glass.

She was NOT impressed with the bubbles!

All too soon it was Saturday and it was time to load up the cars so everyone could head home. It was a fantastic weekend! I’m so glad they came down!!

Wild Rice Stuffed Mini Pumpkins

1/2 cup uncooked wild rice

3 to 4 cups water

4 mini pumpkins

Juice of 1 orange

2 teaspoons honey

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup dried cranberries

2 tablespoons chopped pecans

1 teaspoon orange zest

1 teaspoon chopped mint

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a small sauce pan, add wild rice and fill with enough water to cover and allow room to boil like cooking pasta. Bring to a boil and then simmer for approximately 30 to 40 minutes. Rice is done when it starts to "pop" the grain.

While rice cooks, cut tops off pumpkins. Using a large spoon, scoop out seeds and strings. Place pumpkins upside down in a pan with 1/3 inch of water. Bake for 15 minutes. Carefully turn pumpkins upright and return to oven until flesh is tender when pierced with a fork, about 5 to 10 more minutes.

When rice is cooked, pour into a colander and rinse with cold water. Place the rice in a medium size bowl.

Juice orange and add honey, mixing together. Pour over rice. Add salt and pepper, and stir well. Stir in cranberries, pecans, orange zest and mint. Adjust seasonings if needed. Stuff rice into pumpkins and serve.

(Note: This year I forgot to buy dried cranberries so I used some dried tart cherries instead. It was wonderful…better than the cranberries.)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

In Black and White

When Donna at Funky Junk Interiors made “collections” her Saturday Night Special theme, it was hard to decide what one I wanted to highlight. I have many collections but not in your “Pokémon gotta-have-them-all” way. While I actually have a lot of collections, I’m very particular about what I add to them. I don’t have a huge number of any one thing.

I came home from Kenya with quite a collection of Maasai beadwork… all of it gifts. Then there is my Native American pottery. I have my dragons which I am very very particular about how they look. When we travel I look for a cross, a chicken, a cookbook, some currency & coins, a stone or sand, and a book about the area.

But I decided to share my black and white collection with you.

I have it displayed in my entry hallway.

There are paintings and drawings...

… and other things that I liked.

This carving came from Tanzania and is made from ebony.

This signed print is belongs to Himself.  It brings back memories of when he did ski training while in Special Forces.

I took this black & white photo in Wisconsin.  It was a grand prize winner in a contest a few years ago.

This beautiful painting came from Tanzania.  I found it in a stack at the back of a store in the airport.  One of the shop clerks painted them on scrap paper with the paint they used to paint advertising on the shop windows.  It was the first thing he had ever sold.

A cross stitch gift from a dear friend. 

This was a gift to Himself from friends in Bosnia. 

This pencil drawing was made by Alex, a young Samoan man who works on the same ship as Himself.  Alex’s father is a guild master tattoo artist… a very important position in the Samoan culture.  Alex is learning the art and this is one of his original designs.  Isn’t it fabulous?!

I picked up this signed print in Palmer, Alaska with I visited a musk ox ranch. They are impressive animals. (I got some incredible photos that day too!)

I don’t go out looking for a black and white to add to my wall, so it’s always a delight when we come across a special piece we want to add.

I wonder what our next piece will be?

Funky Junk's Sat Nite Special

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Full Moon Owl Quartet, with Cricket Chorus

There are many pleasures living in the country.  An impromptu concert featuring various local residents is one of those pleasures.

Tonight we were entertained by the barred owls.

(Video is approximately 25 seconds long.  Turn your speakers up a bit.)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Drive-by Shots from the Northlands

Part of our fun on a road trip is to wander along the back roads and enjoy our beautiful country.  Here are a few miscellaneous photos I took as we traveled about.  I can only give a rough guess where most were taken.  Sometimes Eliza – my GPS – didn’t even know where we were!!

Beautiful maple leaves in Winona, MN.

Farm dog near Baldwin, WI.

"There was a crooked man, who lived in a crooked house..."
NW of Albert Lea, MN.

One of a flock of bald eagles 'working' a field that had just been combined.

Lovely barn near Elmwood, WI.

Too cute!  Eau Galle, WI.

A beautiful cloud iridescence in WI.  The next day was really cold!

Saw this waaaay out on a country road.  I'll bet he doesn't give many appointments either!

A Wisconsin valley.

Even Iowa has its Parrotheads!

Time to sit and enjoy the sunshine...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Time To Pay For The Donuts!

If you drive thru Independence, Iowa… be careful of the speed trap laid at the edge of town! In fact, I would suggest you bypass the town altogether!!

We noticed the patrol car hidden as we entered town but didn’t pay much attention. As we passed the car pulled out behind us. No need to worry we naively thought, as Himself does not speed. We stopped at a stop sign: a full and complete stop… another thing Himself always does (it takes us a while to get wherever we’re going… LOL).

We stopped paying attention to the cop, as we were looking for someplace to have dinner and fuel up Little Red. So we were shocked when blue lights started flashing in our rearview mirrors!

We pulled into a parking lot and the cop strutted up to Himself’s window.

Cop: “Do you know why I pulled you over?”

Himself: “No… I wasn’t speeding.”

Cop: “In the state of Iowa it is illegal to have a license plate frame. I couldn’t even tell you had a license plate!”

Now we were both in shock! We had that frame on for years and you most definitely CAN read the plate. We’ve even been part of routine traffic checks (in several states) and nothing has ever been said.

Himself: “I’m sorry, we’re tourist from TN and we couldn’t know that. I’ll take it right off.”

Cop: “Well… I’m going to have to write you a citation for it. I don’t know what else I could do!”

I thought to myself, “Barney, you could give us a warning and have us remove it right now.” Of course I knew better than to speak those thoughts tho!

So Himself gave the cop our information and he strutted (I'm serious!) back to his car. When he finally gets back and starts writing up the ticket, he makes comments about what fines he is dealing out... and that we also don’t have a front plate at all. I informed him that they are not required by TN. You know… he actually looked disappointed he couldn’t hang that one on us also.

So… the coffers of Independence, Iowa have been increased by their tourist tariff to the sum of $87. The local businesses lost revenue of 2 dinner meals… a fuel fill-up… and a few things we needed to pick up at the local grocer -- since the only thing we wanted to see after that was Independence, Iowa in our rearview mirror!  On our way out of town, we passed many Iowa plated cars with Hawkeye and dealership plate frames...

But you know... the donut shop is probably very happy!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Clover Leaf Mansion

One of our last stops on our trip was to “Clover Leaf”, the David Davis mansion in Bloomington, IL.

Bloomington is our halfway point between Winona and home. It’s a good stopping point as it has an Extended Stay America motel we like and good restaurants for breakfast the next morning. I was reading the tourist info for Bloomington and noticed the house was open for tours on Sunday starting at 9am. That fit nicely with our travel plans and off we went after breakfast.

David Davis was a good friend of Abraham Lincoln; he was his campaign manager in the 1860 election and was appointed to the Supreme Court by Lincoln in 1862.

The home is of Italianate and Second Empire style and decorated with Victorian furnishings. It was donated to the state of Illinois in 1960 – having been in the Davis family to whole time. As such, the home was little changed from when Davis lived there.

Inside photos were not allowed, so all I have to share are some outside shots. If you’d like to see more about the mansion there is a good article on at:  


Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Absence of White

Over at Funky Junk, Donna is having a Saturday Night Special themed link-up of “white”. I’m always excited about her challenges and look forward to working with each new inspiration. However, just back from our trip and prepping for having my family down (with babies!!) for Thanksgiving, I didn’t have time to work on a project.

But as I thought about it, I realized I really didn’t want to do anything in white. As much as I enjoy looking at homes and décor featuring ‘white’… it is just not me. And my home shows that.

After much thought I realized I have three white things in my house…

… a sheepskin throw on the back of my couch.  I picked this up last year at a farm B&B we stayed at.  It’s so warm and comfy.

…a white vase in the hall bathroom.  I just moved it in there when I redid my mantle and haven’t decided what I want to put in it.

… and my white towels and wash clothes.

That is it!

Whoa… wait a minute! I DO have one more white thing in the house…

Funky Junk's Sat Nite Special

Friday, November 19, 2010

Cooking At Ingredients: Southern Biscuits

There are a few foods that are taken very seriously here in The South. One of those foods is biscuits. Much love goes into our biscuits down here and often they are the star of the meal.

I had the delightful opportunity to take a biscuit class here in Clarksville at Ingredients. Even more fun… Himself was home and took the class too. He is the main baker in our family and will often whip up a batch of biscuits “just because”. And they are sooooo good!

Our instructor, Maryann Byrd, produced and wrote an Emmy winning PBS documentary “The Rise of the Southern Biscuits”.  She then wrote a book of the same name with recipes from the various interviews. 

Beaten biscuits- in the days when yeast and baking soda were hard to get, biscuit dough was folded – beaten out – and folded again over and over to work air into the dough.

Good ole Southern biscuits with country ham and…

… red-eye gravy for dipping.  Ummmmm…

My friend Winnie helped in the making of a skillet biscuit.

Ready to go in the oven.

Ready to go in the tummy! 

Then Maryann had the guys come up to try their hand at making a standard biscuit.  Each used a different wet ingredient and a different ‘oil’ ingredient.

Little did she know that she had a ‘ringer’ in the crowd.  Himself was soon turning out perfect biscuits!

Aren’t they purdy?

Miss Daisy’s Traditional Biscuits

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon baking soda

2 ½ tablespoons vegetable shortening or butter

½ cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450*.

In a deep bowl sift dry ingredients; cut in shortening or butter. Add buttermilk all at once and stir into a ball of dough. Knead lightly. Roll out onto a floured board to a ½ inch thickness. Cut with biscuit cutter. Place on baking sheet and bake in a 450* oven for 10 to 12 minutes.

Yield: 12 biscuits