December 30, 2008

Spirited Pork Recipe

this is going to have to age a while before it's ready!
Souvenirs from our journey last month included an assortment of fine Kentucky bourbons. It was time to restock the pantry, LOL! To commemorate the lovely trip to our neighbor state, we tried a new pork recipe for Christmas dinner. The recipe comes from Woodford Reserve. We thoroughly enjoyed the distillery’s special holiday lunch buffet during our visit, which featured a similar recipe. So we knew that this one should be tasty as well. We were right! The pork was so tender, we could cut it with a fork. Don’t forget to pour a little bourbon in a glass for sipping while dinner is cooking!


Woodford Pork

6 boneless loin pork chops, cut 1-¼ inches thick
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
6 shallots, finely chopped
½ cup fresh, sweet cherries, pitted
1/3 cup Woodford Reserve Bourbon Whiskey
6 Tablespoons butter
¼ cup chicken stock
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper

Melt one tablespoon of butter in a large heavy sauté pan; add pork chops and season with salt and pepper. Sauté over medium high heat until well browned (about 5 minutes); remove.

Add two tablespoons of butter to pan, and sauté shallots for two minutes. Add apples and cherries, stirring until fruit is just warmed through.

Return chops to pan of fruit, and add Woodford Reserve, taking care, as the alcohol will ignite. Cook until liquid is reduced to one tablespoon.

Add chicken stock and cook until there is one tablespoon of liquid remaining in the pan. Swirl remaining three tablespoons of butter in the pan with chops and fruit.

Place chops on a heated platter and spoon fruit and pan juices on top.

Serves four to six.

December 29, 2008

Kentucky Trip - Beaumont Inn

The busy holiday season is winding down. All of the decorations are put away. We are now getting back to our old, comfortable routines, and that means I can spend a little more time on my blog! So I want to get back to sharing pictures and stories about our journeys! Yeah, yeah. I know that it’s about time! I hear you mumbling out there!

As you may recall, we took a vacation to western Colorado and eastern Utah in late September. Many postings will be forthcoming on the highlights from that beautiful trip. But first, I plan to devote a few postings to some great places we experienced in middle Kentucky during Thanksgiving week.

Let me introduce you to the Beaumont Inn, located in Harrodsburg. It is Kentucky’s oldest family-operated country inn, welcoming guests since 1919. The main inn was built in 1845, and it served in its long history as a school for young women. The current fourth and fifth generations of innkeepers know how to pamper their guests. Signing up for their Thanksgiving package, we previously visited in 2006 and stayed in the main inn. We had such an enjoyable time that we decided to come back for their Thanksgiving package this year!

Beaumont Inn is the quintessential country inn, located in the heart of Kentucky's bluegrass and bourbon country
a pretty harvest display greeted us near the entrance
the resident squirrels found the cushaw squash to be particularly tasty
On this visit, we had a beautiful guest suite in the Greystone House, one of their other buildings. Greystone is located right down the lane, a short walk from the main inn. Our room was on the second floor (left front), and it was HUGE! The bath area was also generously sized and luxurious. It was quite a challenge to climb in and out of the very tall four-poster bed, ha-ha! Thank goodness there were stepstools to help give us a boost! The main inn’s guest rooms are more traditional in size. If you love antiques, you would enjoy all the antique furniture throughout in the guest rooms and inn buildings. Wi-fi is available in the main inn, so we took our laptop over to the game room whenever we wanted to access the web or check e-mails.

beautiful fall mornings greeted us at Greystone House on our strolls to breakfast
The main dining room serves classic Kentucky cuisine, and every bit of it is scrumptious. The staff provides excellent service, with lots of personal attentiveness. Their Thanksgiving feast is known far and wide, bringing in droves of local and traveling patrons. We were told that the chef and kitchen staff cooked 30 turkeys for this year's feast! They also have a tavern which features tasty casual food along with a wide selection of beverages.

The inn and dining staffs are exceptionally gracious. There are few places that achieve the high level of service as the Beaumont Inn. As a result, there are many people like us who are repeat customers, some returning every year.

So what were we doing when we were not lounging around and dining at the inn? We were sightseeing and tasting famous Kentucky bourbon (responsibly, of course)! Stay tuned for more details later!

December 27, 2008

Raffle Prize Thank You

I bet that Marty sneaks in here at night and cuddles up in my recliner
Perhaps I have built up some good karma because I am having an incredible string of luck lately on drawings for blog prizes. My latest heartfelt thank you goes to Wolfie, my sweet friend at Cherish Yesterday. She had a raffle a few weeks ago on her blog, and I won this warm ragged lap-size quilt! It is perfect for keeping my legs and tooties warm this winter while resting in my recliner. She sells these too, so please contact her if you would like one for yourself!

December 26, 2008

Favorite "C" Things


I have been lassoed into another exercise, this time by Butterfly Gardener. I’ll get even you with you, my dear! I am to list my favorite things that begin with letter “C”. Here’s what you do if you would like to play along: Leave a comment on this post requesting a letter, and I will assign you one. Then, you write about 10 things you love that begin with your assigned letter. Post it on your blog and when people comment on your list, you give them a letter. And the chain continues on.

Here’s my list:

Coffee – I cannot begin my day without the power of this magical elixir. After being raised in a tea drinking house during my youth and not allowed to drink coffee, I rebelled during my college days and went straight for the hard-core caffeine. Ahhhhh!

Chocolate – Regardless of the various clothing sizes during my lifetime, the love affair with chocolate will never end.

Camera – Now that the working-for-a-living grind is behind me, I have been able to spend more time getting acquainted with my trusty Nikon digital camera. Aren't you glad?

Cottage – This is a love and hate relationship lately, LOL. I love this place but we are getting too old to maintain it! Anybody want to come over in a couple of months and help spread a mountain of mulch on the flowerbeds? I’ll serve refreshments!

Color – I can’t resist beautiful fabrics, threads, and beads, so my stash continues to grow. I adore the multitude of colors!

Countryside – I am a country gal. I like to visit the cities, but prefer to live out in the countryside.

Coupons – Clip coupons? You bet your sweet scissors, I do! Why would I want to pay full price for an item when I can get it for less?

Cardinal – I love birds and cardinals are particularly fun to watch at the bird feeders.

Computer – Life was fun before computers, but now it is even BETTER! I am making friends all over the world because of this captivating invention!

Creating – The creating gene is scarce in my family tree, so I have no idea how I caught the creative bug. It seems I have always wanted to be busy with my hands. I am thankful for being a Brownie when I was a wee little girl. That is how I learned to do embroidery. I’ve been puttering around since then creating pretty things and making messes.

December 24, 2008

December 21, 2008

Return to Retiree Status

I'm going to keep opening all of the presents until I find that bone Santa promised me!
We successfully completed our temporary elf duties for the local Salvation Army, and we are now happily resuming the life of wayward retirees! We are dog tired, but we held up better than we thought we would, LOL. Thank goodness for the successful treatment of my knee two weeks ago! Among other duties, we helped organize the bike donations. We didn’t count up how many there were, but we would guess over 500 shiny sets of wheels! Whew! Even though it taxed us physically, we had a great time. We were happy to see friends we met last year and fortunate to make some new friends this year.

Because of the Salvation Army, Christmas is a little brighter for some families in our area. The Salvation Army provides assistance for some of the poorest of the poor in our communities, and they also provide relief aid during natural disasters. If you see a Salvation Army bell ringer this week and in years to come, please do me a favor! Please stop and put some money in the kettle! Thank you and God bless!

December 18, 2008

Busy with Elf Duties!


I hope to resume my regular postings soon and catch up on the latest news of my many blogging friends. We have been quite preoccupied with our “elf duties” this week at our local Salvation Army’s distribution center. We have one more day to work and help get their Angel Tree donations ready for pickup on Saturday. Our bodies are tired, but our hearts are filled with joy!

December 13, 2008

Photo Challenge: Holiday Decorations

Once again, it is time for the latest Brenda Photo Challenge! The subject is Holiday Decorations, picked by the current challenge hostess, Kim of Caffeine Is Life.

The vast majority of our Christmas decorations remained in our attic storage this year. We also refrained from putting up any large trees. The theme this year was simple and easy! But we still have plenty displayed to show that our hearts live in the Christmas spirit.

(Please roll your computer mouse over the photos for captions.)

Little Trees

rabbit greeters and a snowy tree stand watch near the front door
a large feather tree in the dining room is decorated with delicate German glass ornaments
the solarium features a small feather tree tucked into a country basket
a decorated grapevine tree resides on the coffee table in the great room
my bedroom dresser gets special attention with its own feather tree and glass pinecone ornaments
a little black Santa bear cozies up to a rustic tree in the breakfast room

Joyful Scenes

small Santas line the main stairway underneath pine rope garland, while a brown silk thread tree rests on the hallway bench
Christmas decorations mix right in with the usual furnishings in the dining room

Christmas Folk Art

I completed this lovely needlework picture of a woodland Santa in 1991, and it resides in the main hallway year-round
this beautiful painted skate was created by an artist friend in Missouri and hangs outside my home office
an assortment of ornaments are scattered on knobs throughout the house, including this wool felt snowman that I made in 2005

I hope that you enjoyed this little tour!

December 11, 2008

This and That, and a Blessed Thank You!

awesome Holly Jolly Giveaway presents from Angie at Sugarplum Patch
First, I will do the “thank you” part of this post! It has been cold and rainy today, but it brightened considerably when the postal delivery lady pulled up to the cottage late this afternoon. The Holly Jolly Giveaway goodies arrived from Angie at Sugarplum Patch! Goodness, gracious! Miss Angie certainly has the Christmas spirit for being so generous, and I can also see that she is a talented folk artist too!

She tucked a cute snowman card at the very top of the box, wishing me a Merry Christmas. That slowed me down a bit before I started digging into the box to discover the lovely contents, going "oooh" and "aaah" as I went. LOL! Inside were three beautifully hand-stitched items: a stocking pillow, a Santa candle mat, and an angel ornament. Then there were three sparkly handmade candy canes, assortment of holiday grungy tags, scented tarts (yummy), and magnetic note pad with a snowman motif. Whew!

Thank you so much, Angie! May you have a wonderful Christmas!

Now for the “this and that” part of my post! It has been a busy week for us. We have been baking cookies, visiting with great friends (Hi-ho, DaVonna! I know you will be reading this!), making and wrapping presents, shipping presents, and shopping. The week started off with me going back to the orthopedic doctor and asking for some temporary help for my irritable left knee. I proceeded to get fluid drained off my knee, cortisone shot, and new anti-inflammatory prescription. Now that it has been a few days, I am relieved to see that it is starting to take the pain edge off and I can bend it a little farther. To pamper the joint, a cane will now accompany me on most excursions because the x-rays show more bone on bone wear in the past year.

My blog has been neglected somewhat lately due to lack of time. I have lots of things I want to share, particularly travel pictures and information. Also, I have received several blogging awards in the past couple of months and have not seen myself clear to pass them on. I hope that the blogging police will grant me leniency in the spirit of the season! And, I see by the calendar that the latest photo challenge is coming up in just two days (theme: holiday decorations). Help, I haven’t taken any pictures yet! Guess what I’ll be doing tomorrow? Yep, taking pictures!

Next week we’ll be busy as well. We will have some dear friends coming over to the homestead for some Christmas cheer and celebration. We are looking forward to that! We will also be spending three days working at the local Salvation Army’s distribution center. After waiting weeks for this year’s assignments, we finally got the call today! It is a lot of hard work to put together the donations for their massive Christmas drive, but we had a rewarding experience volunteering at the center last year. We have also done bell ringing for them in past years, but this season we’re going to concentrate all our efforts at chaos central!

So my blogging posts will be a bit sparse for a while. I also will be getting behind on stopping by to visit with my many blogging friends. I hope to get on a more frequent schedule when all the holiday sparkly dust settles down! Merry Christmas, everyone!

December 8, 2008

Handmade Christmas

I had the best intentions to do more handmade gifts this Christmas season. But it just didn’t happen! A girlfriend and I have decided that we will start a "Christmas in July" campaign in 2009. Maybe I’ll have a fighting chance if I start that early!

There were a few things I accomplished this season, including the fabric tree ornaments that I shared earlier here on my blog, for a forum swap, and for some gifts to friends. I also stitched a few Prairie Schooler Santa designs for myself, but these have not yet been assembled into ornaments. That may be a January project!

To supplement the store-bought Christmas cards leftover from last year, I also created some handmade ones to send out to friends. Echoing the tree idea of this year’s little fabric ornaments, here are what the cards looked like.

little primitive trees were the theme this year for my handmade cards
I didn’t make the slightest dent in my paper supply stash, ha-ha! Nevertheless, it was fun to make a great mess in my studio and do something creative.

I also just completed some pincushions for gifts too. I chose a muted cottage-style fabric in blue/brown tones for the base, and embellished them with old wool felt, little doilies, perle cotton, and stacked buttons. These turned out so sweet looking, don’t you think?

if you sew, you can never have enough pretty pincushions!
I hope the gift recipients like them (fingers crossed)! Maybe I’ll do another one to give away for my one-year blogging anniversary coming up in a few weeks. I haven’t cleaned up that mess yet, so I might as well keep on going!

December 4, 2008

Pay It Forward! - Want to Play?


I couldn’t resist an invitation from my dear friend, Kylie of A Bite of Country Cupcakes, to participate in a blogging version of “Pay It Forward”. I remember seeing the movie with the same title in 2000, and there is also a book on the concept. The basic premise is to repay a kindness by paying it forward to another person.

To fulfill my obligations, I am to add the PIF symbol to my blog and a link back to Kylie’s blog. Then, I am to invite the first 3 visitors of my blog to leave a comment saying that they would like to be involved and receive a handmade gift from me within 365 days of joining.

How about it, folks? Want to play along and spread some kindness in the next year? On your mark, get set, GO! The first 3 to leave a comment and say that they want to participate will get a handmade goodie from me sometime in the next year! You also need to follow-up with an e-mail to me at [e-mail address removed by edit] to confirm your spot. To participate, you must have your own blog, follow these steps, and do the same for your first 3 visitors.

Hee-hee, this is going to be FUN!

UPDATE (12-7-08 afternoon): There are two sweet gals who have signed up so far:

- Joan of Joan's Journeys
- Jan of Olde Harbor Saltbox & Starlight Prims

I am so excited to make and send them surprise handmade goodies this next year! I have room for one more name on my gift list, so won’t you please join up?

December 2, 2008

La-La-La!

this looks just like us while we were decorating this afternoon - really! - no kidding!
The holiday spirit decided to fling itself upon me. Or, maybe I just decided to fling myself upon it. It’s all so fuzzy now, LOL. Instead of burying myself on the computer or making messes in my studio today, I got my behind in gear and started decorating our cottage. Sweet hubby brought boxes down from the upstairs storage area and helped with the merriment. As usual, lazy little Marty minded the blog and let me know when comments were being received from yesterday’s posting.

We are doing a minimum amount of decorating, but it is festive enough to remind us of Christmas. We now have all our tabletop trees scattered around, along with ornaments hung on doorknobs and wreaths on doors. Pine garland crowns the staircase railings in the main hallway and little Santas keep watch underneath. The HUGE Santa collection is staying tucked away this season, along with the multiple big trees. Hubby may convince me yet to put up my needlework tree in the solarium.

I still have to decorate our large feather tree that traditionally resides on the antique mule chest in the dining room. A steady hand is required to hang all the little German-style glass ornaments on it. So, I will be taking on the challenge when I am fresh in the morning. Despite my caution, it seems that the collection is reduced by one or two each year, ha-ha!

P.S. Just to let you know, I will be taking pictures and sharing here on my blog! The theme for the upcoming photo challenge on the 13th is Holiday Decorations. So please visit back then to see some of my holiday scenes!

December 1, 2008

A Look Ahead - December

December, already?!  Yikes!
We have returned home from our Thanksgiving jaunt to middle Kentucky! I’ll be sharing some pictures and information about our trip in the days ahead. We had a relaxing time visiting some new places and revisiting some favorite places. I know I have a lot of catching up to do with my blogging friends! I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving celebration.

The calendar page got turned again today, and I am wondering how last month zipped by so quickly. Christmas is just around the corner, so time will get compressed further this month. Our weather this morning greeted the new month with sleet and then a topping of snow flurries. The white dusting on the ground soon disappeared, but the cold temperatures remained throughout the day.

I made some handmade Christmas cards this year to supplement some store-bought ones leftover from last year. I addressed most of the cards before our trip and mailed those today. There are just a few more that will be sent off this week. We got some Christmas shopping done during our trip, taking advantage of the availability of beautiful handmade Kentucky crafts. The remainder of my shopping list will get attended to this week. Then there will be some wrapping and more mailing duties to perform!

We will be doing minimal decorating this year, since the homestead is still for sale. The big trees and ornament collections will remain packed up. This week, I will be putting out a few tabletop trees and scatter an assortment of decorations. I recently bought a lovely hand-painted skate with a winter scene from a talented artist in Missouri. It got hung up on one of my office doors as soon as it came out of the box, LOL. I’ll have to take a picture of it and share it with all of you.

Can you believe that we still have straggler leaves clinging to the trees? Thankfully, the recent rain and wind storms blew down a great deal. Further leaf cleanup chores await us as soon as we get some drier weather.

The couple with the contingency contract on our home has not yet sold their house, so we are expecting another contract extension. We had several showings of our property during November, but none of them panned out. So we continue to wait, and wait, and wait some more.

My left knee has not magically improved and now my right one is starting to smart from the excess wear and tear on it. Pain is a constant companion, and I am doing my best to ignore it. I will be consulting with the orthopedic doctor again next week to see what can be done short of surgery (since we are waiting, and waiting, and waiting some more for the house to sell). I fully expect another lecture from him about knee replacement surgery, but I will be countering back with my “waiting” story.

We plan to get together with friends this month and have some good times and laughs. We won’t be traveling northward to visit relatives, and they don’t ever travel southward to see us. No matter. We’ll be going up that way sometime next year when the weather is more predictably pleasant and safer.

Enough of my silly ramblings! I have a backlog of bloggy stuff to attend to, and I need to start working on some new posts this week!

Cheers, everyone! I hope that the magical Christmas season is kind for you, your families, and your friends!