Good Morning, and Happy Thanksgiving!

I managed to convince myself to crawl out of bed this morning at 6. This was a bit later than I planned, but I felt a little miserable and wanted to comfort myself in the warmth and coziness of bed just a bit longer…

Before taking the Scottie boys outside, I grabbed a warm winter coat and braced myself for whatever weather might be awaiting me. Surprisingly, it was only raining, no, pouring, as we made our way to the woods. Fortunately, my coat had a hood on it, as I think I would have spent the day sulking and sneezing had I been doused by that tremendous rainfall!

After the boys relieved themselves, we hurried in (and the Scotties seemed every bit as happy as I to step over the threshold and into a warm and dry house)

I hurried into the kitchen and began working like crazy.  Mark and the kids did a phenomenal job of picking up groceries for me, since I just didn’t have the get up and go  to shop for supplies needed for this special day. I have mentioned the terrific customer service Wegman’s offers on this blog. However,  I logged into my Wegman’s account the other day and discovered another service I was unaware of….

Wegman’s offers an online “shopping list”. Once logged into an account, one may begin “shopping” by department.  Not only may one shop by department, but there is the option of adding notes to whatever item one might select. In other words, one might opt for a national namebrand, as opposed to a store brand.  I had a great time, going through the entire store, virtually, and picking whatever items I needed! The real surprise was when I was given the option to print my list; not only were the items organized by department, but the item was organized by the aisle in which it is found! MORE kudos to Wegman’s!

Carly had been telling me that I really should buy Wegman’s Honey-Brined Turkey. The price was about $4.49 a pound for the breast. I told Mark to just pick up a fresh turkey, so he did, and last night, I looked online and found a recipe for honey-brine for turkey.  I followed the relatively easy instructions, and I am hoping the turkey will be noticeably moist.  It was only after I had already begun the brining process that I discovered Wegman’s had a recipe online for brining turkey! I should have known! They also have hundreds and hundreds of other recipes. How I missed all of the services available is beyond me, but I would rather spend a bit more at Wegman’s and use all of their services than buy things a bit less at other stores and not get such good quality and service.

The turkey is now in the oven. Along with the turkey, we are going to have gravy, potatoes, sweet potato souffle, fresh homemade rolls, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and salad. Everything is now made and once the turkey is out of the oven, I will bake the rolls, sweet potatoes and stuffing. I have gotten relatively efficient at doing the Thanksgiving meal and I enjoy it.  This time, I was feeling a bit run down, but managed to scurry about in spite of myself! I nearly forgot that I baked a pumpkin pie first thing this morning!

Mark and the kids are currently watching a movie about King George, and I am trying to just rest and lay low so as not to overdo and end up feeling terribly miserable. There have been reports on the news about a terrible cold that is going around that has actually killed people. I just want to take it easy so this thing passes quickly! This is such a crummy time of the year to get sick….

So, to all of those celebrating, have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Interesting Weather Ahead!

Mark was a little disappointed that we made no plans to get together with extended family for Thanksgiving this year.  To be totally honest, I am tired from all of the activity last week, and I am happy to relax with Mark and the kids tomorrow.  I feel like I am coming down with a cold, too.

I logged onto the laptop just a few minutes ago, and got a flashing red alert on my Weatherbug.  Seems it is good we didn’t make any travel plans….might get a bit “dicey”! 

ALERT 1 – Winter Weather Advisory

WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 4 AM TO 4 PM EST THURSDAY

Event Start: 4:00AM EST, Thursday Nov 22, 2007
Event End: 4:00PM EST, Thursday Nov 22, 2007

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WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 4 AM TO 4 PM EST THURSDAY
UNTIL 10:45PM EST

Urgent – Winter Weather Message National Weather Service Buffalo NY 237 PM EST Wed Nov 21 2007

Niagara-Orleans-Monroe-Wayne-Northern Cayuga-Northern Erie- Genesee-Wyoming-Livingston-Ontario-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus- Allegany-Southern Erie- Including The Cities Of… Niagara Falls… Medina… Rochester… Newark… Fair Haven… Buffalo… Batavia… Warsaw… Geneseo… Canandaigua… Jamestown… Olean… Wellsville… Orchard Park… Springville

… Winter Weather Advisory In Effect From 4 AM To 4 PM EST Thursday…

The National Weather Service In Buffalo Has Issued A Winter Weather Advisory… Which Is In Effect From 4 AM To 4 PM EST Thursday.

Rain Will Fall Heavily At Times Tonight Before Mixing With And Changing To Sleet Toward Daybreak And To Snow For A Time Thursday Morning. There May Even Be A Brief Period Of Freezing Rain At Higher Elevations Early In The Morning. The Snow Should Taper Off To Snow Showers By Midday Thursday And Accumulate Just An Inch Or Two… But The Combination Of Mixed Precipitation And Temperatures Falling To Near Freezing Will Result In Very Slippery Road Conditions For The Thanksgiving Day Holiday. This Will Be The First Bout Of Winter Driving Conditions Of The Season For Most Of The Region… So Exercise Caution In Your Holiday Travels.

A Winter Weather Advisory Is Normally Issued For A Variety Of Winter Weather Conditions Such As Light Snow, Blowing Snow, Sleet, Freezing Rain And Wind Chills. While The Weather Will Be Significant, The Word Advisory Implies That Severe Winter Weather Is Not Anticipated. Stay Tuned To Noaa Weather Radio And Other Radio And Tv Stations For Further Details Or Updates.

Bulletin Issued: 2:37PM EST, Wednesday Nov 21, 2007
Bulletin Expired: 10:45PM EST, Wednesday Nov 21, 2007

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A Most Unexpected Little Visitor

Late this morning, I was washing up a few dishes at the kitchen sink.  Above the sink is a small window, facing to the north.  As I was working, I suddenly heard a loud *thump* against the window.  Ben was with me, and I told him it was a bird.  We have birds hit against the windows from time to time, but they usually just fly away.

Later, I was going outside with a handful of recyclables to carry to the garage. As I stepped on the deck, I happened to look down, and there was a little Titmouse!  This must have been the little bird that flew into the glass about half an hour before.

The poor little bird was fluffed up a bit, just sitting there.  I became so distressed, as I really didn’t want the poor little thing to die. I had no idea what to do, so I just prayed that the little bird would be okay. I also got a glove and picked the little fellow up and moved it over to the far corner of the deck where no one walks. When I moved it,(extremely gently) my little charge squawked just a little and bit at the glove. I spoke to it quietly, and it almost looked as though it was listening to me!

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I don’t suppose I will ever get this close to a wild bird ever again, but my little subject just sat there blinking his eyes at me and watching…

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The Titmouse is a beautiful little bird, but when one is feeding, they can be a little aggressive to other birds. I have seen them pecking at one another.

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I was beginning to stress about the little fellow sitting there, and Mark said to not worry about it. A few minutes later, I went out to the deck, and the little bird was gone! I think the poor little one must have just been stunned.  I am so grateful to think that it has recovered and is now fine once again.

A rather short and stressful visit that ended well!

Breathe…2…3…4

 Where did this past week go?  Yes, it was pretty much a blur! Last Saturday, we were in Erie, Pennsylvania, for Splash Lagoon. Upon returning home, we were in the woods, cutting firewood, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Thursday, we went to Rochester with Mark, as his mom had a doctor’s appointment. Afterward, we went shopping for supplies for Michelle’s birthday party.

That brings us to Friday. This is how it looked, just before daybreak….

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I had so many things to do, but first, I needed to make a fire in the house…..

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 And, the garage….

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The party was Saturday, so I wanted to get the garage heated up nicely. I figured if I got the stove fired up on Friday, I could warm everything up. 

After getting the fires going, I had to grab the pile of wood that was dumped inside the garage and stack it in the woodshed.  I did this as everyone else was still asleep in the house.  By the time I finished, everyone was awake, so later on, the kids began the transformation from cluttered garage to party house!

The kids worked hard, moving all of the tools and other stuff out of the garage. Michelle loaded all of the stuff to go to the dump into the back of the Explorer.  By the time the kids got everything removed from the garage, it looked terrific!

Mark came out and helped the kids unload the (250 pound) Foosball table he had bought for the party.  Oh, did I mention Mark loves playing Foosball?  By the time they finished, Ben was itching to play, so he and Mark remained in the garage till nearly 11 pm!

On Saturday morning, Michelle wanted to get up early to buy a couple of things she had forgotten. And, I needed to purchase butter and pepperoni. (odd combo, right?) 

We were up and out the door before 7. The greeter at WalMart told us we were smart shoppers, beating the rush. If only he *knew*! hehehe We got all of our goodies, paid, then wasted a few minutes….I had to take the stuff to the dump, which didn’t open until 9, so I wanted to stop on the way home.

I made a huge batch of Macaroni and Cheese and put it into the Crock Pot. I also made up a batch of Spinach Dip.  Carly and her son, Kyle, came shortly after 11. Carly was a terrific help, cleaning up the house and working in the kitchen. (hey, she works overnights as a baker!) Carly carried on, baking chicken strips, onion rings, and pizza bagels.

Kids began arriving around 2, and everything went along very smoothly! In all honesty, these kids were polite, neat, and just a joy to have! Everyone behaved quite nicely and I think everyone had a good time.

Here are a few pictures….

(love this shirt!)

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 If all parties went this smoothly, they would be quite the pleasure! The garage was toasty and the good times lit the room and cast a very wonderful glow, as well as terrific memories for one fifteen-year-old and her family!

The Scottie boys were confined to their crates for several hours, and other than a little barking a couple of times, were very good boys.

This coming Thursday is Thanksgiving Day here in the US. The day after, the kids will attend a “Turkey Skate”. This is on Friday night, and they basically stay up all night, skating!

Saturday is Carly’s birthday and the following Thursday is my mother’s birthday.  November is a busy month here in the Bristolwood! So, then things settle down a little. Who am I kidding? Then, it is getting ready for Christmas!

A Scottie Surprise!

Late this afternoon, I went to the mailbox to get our mail.  There was a large envelope in with the others, addressed to me! I was surprised to see that it was from a young friend who reads my blog.  Her mom is also an online friend of a few years!

I anxiously raced back to the house, my curiosity piqued!

Inside were a little package, wrapped in pretty tissue paper, and an envelope. I opened the package and found the CUTEST Scottie keychain I have ever seen!

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 The keychain has several charms…a Scottie, one that reads I (heart) my dog, another, boasting Best in Show,  a tiny food bowl with a bone in it, a larger bone, and a heart! This is one of the prettiest chains I have ever seen! Thank you SO MUCH, Tay!

I opened the envelope, which had a beautiful butterfly hand-painted in the corner! And, inside was a lovely hand-painted card with butterflies on it. Tay said it was hand-painted by a friend!  AND, Tay wrote me such a lovely note inside!

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This was a total surprise, and I am just so thrilled to have received such a thoughtful gift!

Thank you so much, Tay, and sending warm hugs all the way to your house from Angus, Murphy, and me!!!

Reflecting While Alone in the Woods

Late yesterday morning, as we were completing the task of gathering our firewood, Mark and the kids left me alone in the woods for about half an hour.  It was one of those quiet times that I so relish….

 As I sat in the warmth of sunlight that made its way to me through shadows of trees, my mind began to race. As I looked around me, I wondered what this land was like 200 years ago. Our woods is quite young. I don’t believe we have any really old trees growing in it, although there are some white oaks several hundred feet back that have a very impressive stance.  I would guess they must be over 100 years old, at least.

Looking at the trees was not good enough, so I wandered about a little.  I found a branch that had fallen from one of those large white oaks. It was still suspended in the air, caught on branches of trees surrounding it.  The branch was huge, with a great deal of firewood to be cut from it. But that will wait until next year.

As I approached the tree, I realized that I was walking into what appears to be a big natural “amphitheater”! The area is actually a semi-circle and the land rises up gently, forming a bowl-like appearance.  It would be interesting to seat the family in various parts of this area and have someone talk from below to see if their voice really does carry.

I wandered back down to where I was supposed to be waiting, and as I sat there, my mind once again carried me off….this time, I watched as a bright green bug walked past me among the leaves.  Its coloration made me long for my camera, but it was safely awaiting me at home. I watched that bug for quite some time, realizing that the woods is so full of life. 

I began to see so many signs of life…..green moss that was growing on rocks that seemed to nearly “sparkle” as the sunlight played upon it, fading in and out.  There were tiny little bugs I had never seen before, and even a little spider worked its way across my path.  I watched a daddy-long-legs as he scrambled across a cut stump. As I looked about, I smiled as I thought that even the very soil beneath the carpet of fallen leaves is alive, supporting the trees and plant life surrounding me!

My nearly dreamlike state was interrupted by the sound of the ATV making its way through the woods….Mark was returning with the kids bouncing and giggling in the wagon behind. We worked some more, then Mark asked if we should split wood, or go inside.  The kids, so tired from working these past 4 days, both shouted, “Go inside!”  I smiled as Mark gave out a sigh….he admitted he too was exhausted from all of the activity!

I took Michelle to her Bible study later on and spent some time looking around TJMaxx. The store is full of Christmas decorations and gifts. This is the time of the year that I really enjoy just looking at everything.  I am not much of a “shopper”, but in the autumn and through the Christmas season, it seems like there are so many beautiful and rich colors! Oh, to have my camera with me!

The weather report called for rain, but we only had “drizzle” on and off.

This morning, I awakened at 4:45 to the sound of rain against the window.  Our ground is so parched,  the sound of rain almost brings a sense of “quenching”! I listened for awhile, then got up and took the Scotties out. They were reluctant to go out, and as they walked in the wet grass, Murphy looked back at the porch.  The smell of rain mixed with leaves and soil filled my nostrils and it was such a satisfying scent. Even more satisfying is the realization that all of the firewood is now tucked safely inside the woodshed and not getting saturated by rain!

The weather forecast says that we might be seeing a coating of the white stuff tonight and tomorrow.

Oh, and speaking of the rich colors this time of the year, I had a pleasant surprise awaiting me as I opened my eyes this morning! It might be early, but it is certainly appreciated!

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Firewood FINALE!!!

 The weather forecast this morning called for winds kicking up and some rain this afternoon.  I was up before 5, and decided at about 6:30, everyone else should rise so we could get the firewood finished up. Mark agreed!

The temperature was agreeable….quite comfortable, with a brisk southern breeze.  I had some more cutting to do, so one of the kids stayed with me to cant logs up to cut, while the other loaded cut wood into the wagon behind the ATV and unloaded it in the woodshed. Shortly after noon, we were finshing up as the skies became dark and threatening.

Yes, we now have two rows of firewood! Some of it needs to be split, which we plan to work on tomorrow.

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You may notice the “dark” wood….that particular batch has been a source of contention between the mister and me….*That* wood is basswood. Basswood is highly prized by woodcarvers for its ease to work. However, I personally find Basswood of little to NO value. It is soft, grows in the most twisted nearly impossible to stack way! Can you tell I REALLY don’t like this wood?

Two years ago, Mark made me cut up a gigantic basswood tree along one of our trails. I grumbled and complained the entire time…Last year, Mark said he was going to gather it and I grumbled and complained once again! Well, this year, I grumbled and complained *again”, but Mark insisted he was going to gather it. hehe…Ben grumbled and complained as he picked it up off the ground!

Mark said he is going to try splitting it to see if it is any good. My prediction?

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Yes, that is a piece of that putrid Basswood with my finger inserted. What would YOU think? Back to the woods, I say! But, in the event that the Basswood leaves the premises, there is MORE wood sitting in the non-woodshed part of the garage to take its place! Mark might be obstinate, but he is forward-thinking!

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We had to clear out a lot of stuff from the third garage bay so Mark could pull the ATV through with firewood. The garage looks *disgusting*! And, guess what? On Saturday, Michelle is holding a birthday party there!

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A party in the garage? Oh yes! We have the little brother of our Jotul woodstove out there and the garage is nicely insulated! Once we get a fire, it turns into a cozy BIG area perfect for a big gathering! Stay tuned for this one….

After finishing the wood, I raced into the house and made up a big batch of Broccoli-Cheese soup.  The kids wolfed the soup down along with a turkey sandwich.  After everyone was done eating, I went out and fired up the mower so I could mulch the leaves again. I also raked a lot of the leaves (and there were sooooo many!) out of the flower beds. I was so thankful to get this all done before the rain came!

Upon completing this little task, Mark wondered about a box that supposedly arrived at our mailbox yesterday. He called the company that sent the box, as well as the post office. The mailman said he left it on the box, but it wasn’t there. So, I went out into the woods out front and looked around. Unfortunately, I didn’t find the box, but I sure saw some beautiful things! (Oh, and the company said they are resending the box so Mark will have it tomorrow!)

The oak trees keep their leaves well into the winter, and the colors on this one are outstanding! Because the woods in our area are mostly oak populated, the hills have a golden to reddish glow to them when the sun shines. It is so beautiful!

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And there will always be plenty more oaks!

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I have no idea what these red berries are, but the leaves on the plant are almost as pretty as the berries themselves!

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Look at the pretty colors on the leaves of this tiny oak tree!

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All in all, it has been a very satisfying day. The relief of knowing our wood is secure is tremendous! There were years when we were bringing wood in during a snowstorm!

As I was feeling so pleased about the day, a small streak of light shone through the window, lighting up the Christmas Cactus…as though “highlighting” one particular flower that is nearly ready to open!

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