Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!

2015 is upon us....I can't believe how fast 2014 went by.  Today we just had a quiet day inside since it's hovered around 35 degrees all day, and tonight it's drizzling.  They are saying we may have ice tonight, so tomorrow may be about the same.  I'm enjoying it, though, spending some of my time planning the spring garden and reading.  Sigh....more days like this, please!

I made a black-eyed pea soup and cornbread today for our dinner -- thereby assuring good luck for us throughout the new year (or so we southerners have always been told.)  The recipe I loosely followed from Plain Chicken was pretty simple, although I used dried peas (Mississippi Silver Cowpeas) that we grew ourselves, and I used chicken broth and smoke deer sausage instead.  It was delicious!

We're staying warm in front of the fire tonight.  Hope you all have a very happy New Year!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas 2015

We had such a nice Christmas this year, but I failed as a photographer.  I just plain forgot to photograph a lot of it.
Christmas Eve started with mass 8pm, and the Koenig's met us there.  It was great to share this with KT and Joss, Jeff and Colleen.  KT has so many questions, especially about the Catholic statues!

Christmas morning we went to Colleen & Jeff's for a brunch -- egg casserole and monkey bread, fruit and coffee...yummm!!! We got a full reporting of what Santa brought KT and Joss, and how to use everything.

Joss was very busy trying to figure out how to use the big rubber leggo-like blocks she got -- the perfect toy for her.

Even KT was enjoying showing her little sis how to use them!

After brunch, we came home and began preparations for Christmas dinner.  JR and Ashley arrived soon after and then the Koenig's came and we opened family gifts.  We drew names this year, so each of us had something under the tree.  Of course, KT and Joss raked in quite a few new things.

KT got quite a lot of Frozen stuff this year -- she was in heaven!
Joss got a walker from the Florida Aunties!

The Hoyt's arrived soon after and we enjoyed some time with them and Katie, who had just arrived from Colorado Christmas afternoon.  She was decked out in her "ugly" Christmas sweater and some GORGEOUS Christmas ornament earrings.  Oooh la la!!  Since we had a geologist in the house, KT and the guys went out to the pavilion and did some dinosaur bone excavation! She did so well with this little kit.  Doesn't she look professional with the googles and all? 
We had a nice Christmas dinner and spent a great evening just talking and enjoying our company.  There was a bonfire, and some fireworks, too!  John caused quite a stir by throwing some trash in the bonfire that had a live firework in it that he didn't know about.  I heard everyone hit the deck when it went off.  Crazy.
KT by the big Afghan fir tree out in our yard.

I wish I had taken more photos -- I'm going to get back to that this year.  For some reason it's been off my radar lately, and I need to get back to it.  These two little girls are growing up so fast, and I need to document it more.
I hope you had a wonderful Christmas, too!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Seven Years ago....

We lost my dad, Herbert Russell Schwencke.  Thinking of you today, Dad.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Movie Review --- The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

 How bittersweet it was to see the final movie of this wonderful series. I've totally enjoyed every single one of the other five movies, and this final one was no different.  I never read these books, so the movies are all I have to go on, and I love the way Jackson makes us get to know them, to fall in love with them and really care about what happens to them.
There's lots of action, but if you weren't ready for that, you weren't paying attention.  This was a battle.  The CGI is as excellent as ever, something that these movies is known for.  I can't say enough about how wonderful it was.  Five STARS!!  Now, I have to go watch the original three to see what happens next! ha!

Stay at the end for the tribute to the characters -- all done in pencil drawing.  The musical tribute saying goodbye is perfect -- here it is for you to listen to.  I had tears in my eyes.  I can't believe its over.

Congratulations, Adrienne!!

Our niece, Adrienne, is engaged! We found out at the end of November, but finally had time to take them out to dinner and have a proper celebration.  Wedding plans for a year from now, most likely.  We are very happy for her and Marcos.
 We had a celebratory toast!
What a beautiful and unusual ring! I love it!

Christmas Baking -- and I Only Burned One Tray of Cookies!

I spent the last couple of days doing some Christmas baking.  Everything turned out pretty good!
 These are a white chocolate chip and oatmeal no-bake cookie. So easy!

 Peanut buttery-goodness!

 Okay, I've found another favorite that I'll make again! Yummmm!
 I cheated and used frozen bread dough for poppy seed,
 one pecan/walnut ring, and two dozen cinnamon rolls.
The nut rolls didn't turn out exactly as John remembers them, since I didn't have his family recipe to follow.  They're still good.  His sis, Susan, sent me the real recipe, so next time I'll have it. I see where I went wrong.  The recipe I followed was more of a pie dough, no yeast.

Just as a safety net (since I can't ever seem to find where I put things) I'm putting it at the end of this post.  Now I'll know where it is!

Our Grandmother Eliza Rowena Davies Forsyth recipe

Pastry for Nut Rolls
5 cups of flour
3 eggs
½ of a large cake of yeast
1 tsp. salt
½ c cup shortening
½ of a can of condensed milk
Combine and put in refrigerator over night
Next day roll dough in sugar, roll thin, and cut into squares (approximately 3 inch squares) add filling, and roll up.
Bake at 350 degree for 15 minutes.

Filling for nut rolls
2lb of ground walnuts
1 cup of sugar
½ of a can of condensed milk
4 TBL of butter
Stir together over low heat and let cool

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Garden going-ons.....

We've been cleaning up the garden when the weather has been good.  I started by emptying out all of the tomato buckets and storing them all away in the barn for now.  I'm planning on moving them out into the field garden in the spring.
John and I both started taking all the old dried bean plants off of the bean haus, but he got real impatient with that little project and just pulled out his burner and burned them all off!  Okay, I'm fine with just sitting in the shade and watching him do that! ha!
He chopped down the castor bean trees (adequately covered) and stacked those out of the way to decay.  I won't be growing those again -- too much liability! I actually scared myself with those things.
I cleaned up around the elderberry plants and mulched them pretty deeply with burr oak leaves.  John put up a little fence behind them for me to keep those pesky chickens out of them.  I need to make new plant markers for them so I don't forget which plants are which.  I have two York and two Adams here.

We've been eating a few salads made up completely of greens and tomatoes from our greenhouse this winter.  They've been growing very well for me.
Swiss Chard

Italian Radicchio

Dwarf Kale

Corn Salad
Mini Bak Choi

I picked all of these tomatoes one day out there.  These plants just keep chugging along!
This past week I found a few tomato volunteers and transplanted them into individual pots, hopefully they will thrive.
John and I have been spending some time planning our spring garden, and I'm looking forward to starting some seeds soon.  Aren't seed catalogs just the best way to spend a cold evening!?

I'm in Love....

Look!  No one is crying!

Fredericksburg, Christmas 2014

Last Saturday we took a little trip with some good friends over to Fredericksburg, Texas, to enjoy walking through downtown.

 I absolutely love this little town at Christmas time -- if you haven't gone there, I highly recommend it.  We met up and walked through the charming little shops for a while, then had a great German lunch at The Auslander Restaurant.

After lunch (and after having to change a flat tire!!!), we drove out to visit a couple of the local wineries.

First stop was at Rancho Ponte Winery.  It was okay, but most of their wine is too dry for me -- I really only like the sweets, and the sweeter the better for me.  I'm sure it was great wine for those who are real wine drinkers, but I'm more of a wine idiot, so don't gauge it by me!

 Next stop was at Fiesta Winery, and I liked it a lot better -- they had a nice list of sweet wines!  We ended up buying a few from here that we're going to enjoy throughout the Christmas holidays.
 They had a live band playing in the courtyard, very nice.  We sat and enjoyed the music for a while -- what a lovely way to spend a Saturday!

Here's hoping to do more of this in 2015....I'm going to make it one of my resolutions!

Schwencke Family Christmas, 2014

Mike and Kathy hosted our annual Schwencke family get together this year -- it was lots of fun with lots of great food and conversation!  Also, some rowdy games!  We enjoyed the evening very much. Here are a few pictures that I took that evening:

 Aaron is photo-bombing!

 Joss say's Hi!
 That's Noah hiding behind his brother, Parker....
 Crazy game!

Schwencke Women's Breakfast, 2014

Two weeks ago most of the women in the Schwencke family got together on Saturday morning to have our traditional yearly Christmas breakfast.  What a good time!  We drove to Boerne, Texas, to meet at Little Gretel's for some great food and lots of conversation.  I hope we can continue this great tradition for many, many years.
 Colleen, KT, Emily, Joss, Sarah, Kathy, Sunni, Sue, me and Molly