Sunday, September 28, 2008

Autumn Tablescape & Recipe Exchange

Yesterday was the day! (I forgot - so sorry!) We're showing off our Autumn tablescapes & a favorite recipe. This fun event is hosted by Heidi Ann @ Foxgloves, Fabric & Folly. Visit her gorgeous blog to see the list of all the participants, and spend your Sunday afternoon being inspired!

My tablescape is a simple one. The leaf dishes were a gift from my sis. The glass pumpkins are a small protion of my collection. (More on them in an upcoming post.) The zinnias are from my garden. The were "supposed" to be red & white candy-striped, but instead, I got all sorts of striped color variations. Lucky me! I love them all!

My recipe is taken from a one of those ringbound community cookbooks and it is tried & truly delicious.

Curried Butternut Soup

1 tbsp. sweet butter
2 tbsp. sherry or vermouth (trust me, sherry is better!)
2 cups chopped yellow onion
2 large butternut squash
1 tbsp. curry
1 tsp. nutmeg
2-1/4 cups chicken broth (can use vegetable broth)
1 cup apple juice
2 McIntosh apples, peeled and grated
1/4 tsp. ground pepper

In a large pot, melt butter with sherry over low heat. Add chopped onions and cook until clear, about 20 minutes.

Peel squash, remove seeds and cut into 1" squares. Add squash and remaining ingredients to pot. Simmer 30 minutes.

Strain soup, Put solids into blender with 2 cups strained liquid. Process until smooth. Return to pot and mix in remaining strained liquid until soup is of desired consistency. Heat slowly for 10 minutes.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream & snipped chives.

Enjoy! Chris


Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Empire Mines - Part 3 -The Bourn Cottage

I wasn't able to take as many photos inside the cottage as I would have liked. There were either other visitors in front of my camera, or a docent pushing us along on the tour. It was one of the disadvantages of being there on Miner's Picnic Day!

I have a few, at least, that will give you an idea of the rustic elegance the Bourns enjoyed in their cottage.

On the last Empire Mine Post I explained that I wasn't able to get a good photo of the front door of the cottage. Luckily, I found one on the Empire Mine website, HERE. The door itself isn't remarkable, although there is a very pretty leaded glass window. But take a look at the brick work! It make a very impressive entrance! And if you scroll down on this page, you'll see a photo of the Bourns "clubhouse". Now that is some rec room!

This picture is of a beauutiful mahogany sideboard in the dining room. You can also see the redwood walls which are typical throughhout the cottage. At the right side of the photo, through the leaded glass french doors, you get a glimpse of the screened porch.

Next, is the housekeeper's (Katie) sitting room. She lived at the cottage full time, choosing to leave the Bourn's San Francisco mansion, beacuse the cottage had electricity & the SF home did not! Her bedroom is through the door at the back of the room and not included on the tour.

Here is the only photo I was able to get of Katie's kitchen. The wood-burning stove was her pride & joy, and quite the modern marvel for it's day. It also cost a small fortune. The Bourns treated Katie very well. The chopping block is also original. I hope Katie wasn't as tall as this docent...leaning over that block would be a killer!

This is a view from the kitchen into the butler's pantry and on into the dining room. (Those blue willow dishes aren't vintage.

This last picture from the cottage is taken looking out one of the kitchen windows to the small yard where the kichen garden was planted.

The tour did not include the "upstairs" rooms, so we didn't get to see any of the bedrooms or the bath. I'd love to see them sometime, even if they aren't furnished. I'm also going to visit again and try to get more photos of the interior.

Next time, the gardens!

Enjoy! Chris


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thankful Thursday

It's time for Thankful Thursday again! I can't believe another week has flown by! I first want to thank Rhondi at Rose Colored Glasses for hosting us each week.

Today, I am so thankful for the Autumn Harvest!

This is the season when one of my favorite veggies is everywhere, in abundance. Squash! Acorn squash, pumpkins, baked, in soup or pies,I love them all! But, see that large, oblong, golden beauty at the top of this photo? Not just any squash, but my absolute favorite, Spaghetti Squash!

If you have never tried Spaghetti Squash, you just don't know what you've been missing! It is delicious, versatile & it's a squash that even most picky kids will eat. After all it "looks" like fun! And if you let them help "string" the squash, they'll enjoy it even more!

This link will take you to a page with cooking instructions and other interesting facts.

This is a scrumptious recipe: Spaghetti Squash Casserole, though I even love it just with butter and salt & pepper!

I am truly thankful for these delicious, nutritious and even fun vegetables. They keep a long time if stored properly, and are a wonderful part of our tummy-warming Autumn meals!

Thankfully, Chris

Monday, September 22, 2008

Little "White Butt"

There are tons of fun things about living in the country. But one of our favorites is watching the neighbor's cattle. His hay barn and pasture is just a couple hundred yards off our back deck. We are forever being entertained as the cows (and an occasional bull) walk out to the pasture near us and then back to the pasture near his house. They do this several times a day.

It is a parade of sorts. There is always a leader, not necessarily the same cow. The leader walks, the almost single file line behind her walks. The leader stops, they all stop. It's a very orderly business, except for the unruly calves, UNTIL they get to the irrigation canal. Then it's every cow for herself! Water, dust & lots of pushing a shoving to get the best place at the "watering hole".

Every time we see a new little calf, it is, "Awww...look at the baby!". We have learned not to get too attached to them, this is a "working" ranch, and most they are sold off eventually. But, there are exceptions...

This cow, (I'm sure she wouldn't like this unflattering photo), has completely white hindquarters.

She delivers calves with the same markings. The very first time we saw one, someone said "Hey! Look at the calf with the white butt!" That calf became "White Butt". A most ungracious but fitting name. As each new calf from this momma has been born, it is called White Butt. There was a "WB II" in there once, but it just seemed easier to stick with White Butt.

Until now, all of her calves have been males. They are always certain to be leaving the ranch. But this year, we have a little girl. I know that each of us is secretly hoping she'll get to stay & make this ranch her home. We have even considered giving her a "prettier" name; Derriere Blac for instance.

Nope, she's just gonna be Little White Butt. Sweet thing that she is!

Enjoy! Chris

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sanctified Sunday

He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said,
out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.

~John 7:38 NKJV

Friday, September 19, 2008

This is a Public Service Announcement!

This morning, when I read one of my favorite blogs, there was some fun discussion of "National Talk Like a Pirate Day". Funny, right?

As the last few day's events have unfolded, and the extent of the financial disarray in our country as become clearer, Natalie at Chicken Blog has brought to light a new, modern-day brand of piracy!

Read her post, then think about who should be walking the plank?

Natalie, I join you in your anger and disbelief that such fiduciary irresponsibility can be so well rewarded!

These Pirates just aren't so funny...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Thankful Thursday

Once again, it is time for Thankful Thursday, hosted by Rhondi at Rose Colored Glasses. Please take the time to visit her beautiful blog. Then hop on over to Thankful Thursday to see a list of all who are participating and pay each of them a visit too.

I am thankful for Fall!

Each of the seasons has it's particular charm. But Fall is definitely my favorite! Yesterday, we were at least 10 degress cooler than the day before. And we had cool breezes - not those hot, drying north-west winds that toast everything. No air conditioning (nor furnace) necessary. That is my kind of day! There are no 90's predicted in the 10 day forecast, hooray! Though I wouldn't be surprised to see Mother Nature slip a few more in before November!

Yellow, mellow, ripened days,
Sheltered in a golden coating;
O'er the dreamy, listless haze,
White and dainty cloudlets floating;
Winking at the blushing trees,
And the sombre, furrowed fallow;
Smiling at the airy ease,
Of the southward flying swallow
Sweet and smiling are thy ways,
Beauteous, golden Autumn days.
~Will Carleton, Autumn Days.

Thankfully, Chris

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Feels Like Fall!

Edited to Add: After consulting with my favorite team of design experts (you know who you are), I spent exactly 30 seconds rotating the wreath and it now exactly what I want!!

For the first time it actually "feels" like Fall! The weather is slightly cooler, mid 80's instead of low 90's. There are big fluffy white clouds in the sky, which is something we rarely see in summer. So now, I am actually feeling like getting out the fall decor.

One thing I needed was a new wreath for the front door. Last Saturday, my sister Jen & I were out running around. After I priced a few ready-made wreaths (yikes!), I picked up 1 grapevine wreath, 4 fall picks and 2 spools of ribbon at the craft store. The total cost was $23.53.

This morning I spent 30 minutes out in my shop. The results are at least presentable. Might get a bit of tweeking...

From this:

To this:

Time to get out the glass pumpkin collection and the pheasant feather wreath too!

Cheers! Chris

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Empire Mines - The Tour Continues

The Empire Mines tour continued.

As much as we enjoyed the tour of the mine, the mineyard & buildings, my favorite spot on the property, was waiting a short walk up the hill!

The owner's cottage, was pretty sophisticated for a place in the "boonies". It was the only place in the general Grass Valley Area to have electricity, benefiting from the advancements for the mine. Mr. Bourn also built a clubhouse that contained a bowling alley, billiard room and plenty of space to entertain his investors & friends.

- The walk from the mine office & yard is an uphill path that is bordered by roses and shaded by huge trees. When the Bourns lived there, there were no trees, most having been cut down for use in the mine. It would have been hot, dry & dusty in the summer, and cold windy & muddy in the winter.

- As you head up the walk, you pass what is left of the guest house. All that remains in the foundation & the steps.

- At the top of the walk, you can just make out the entrance into the cottage's lawn area. There are two gorgeous urns flanking the gate.

- Here's a close-up. I'm fairly sure that the water bottle is NOT vintage!

- As you step out on the lawn, you are greeted by two identical fountains. The pools are about 20' in diameter.

- The whole area is fenced by this beautiful brick, iron & rock wall.

- Then, you turn to take in the view of the cottage. Beautiful! It was built to remind William Bourn of his Scottish homeland.

- As you approach the front door, there are flower borders and more pots & urns.

- The front porch light! Once the envy of everyone in Grass Valley, and now, ME TOO!

- To the right side of the front terrace is the entrance to the screen porch and additional plantings.

Unfortunately, I did not get a good picture of the front door. Too many people standing in line, and then the docents shooing us inside...

I'll be posting some interior shots next time. So, be sure check back in a couple of days.

Enjoy! Chris

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Let us remember the lives that were lost,
The families torn asunder,
Our nation's security shattered.
Let us be thankful for God's continued blessing,
For healing and restoration,
That our nation continues to shine
As a beacon of liberty.
Let us pray for PEACE,
Not only in America,
But in all nations of the world!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

A Tea Party - For One!

I am off to church and then off on my 2-1/2 drive to the Bay Area for work tomorrow. I am posting my "Monday" tea party today, so I don't miss it...

Jan & Tom are hosting a Tea Party today! Visit Jan & Tom's Place to see all the pretty tea sets, tablescapes & and goodies their readers have prepared for their tea party.

Today, my tea party is for one! I had planned to invite a couple of girlfriends over to have a real tea party, sample all the new Tupperware Tea Products (fabulous, by the way) and take photos. However, I found out last Wednesday that I need to travel for my job this week. First, I don't like having to travel for work. Second, I really don't like to have to cancel a party...whaaaa!

So, what you see here is my Friday Afternoon Tea Party for One. Since I was feeling sorry for myself, I splurged on a pineapple mini bundt cake from Panera. The Darjeeling tea was just the right accompaniment. I felt quite a bit better after tea & cake!*Ü*

Enjoy all the tea parties. I'll get the girls together soon, and we'll do it up right - photos & all!


Thursday, September 4, 2008

Somethin' Fun - The Omnivore's 100!

Doodles over at Tombstone Tumbleweed posted this list and I thought it was fun to see the things she had tasted. You know me, just HAD to play along! If you want to join in, leave a comment and I'll add your name/link at the bottom of the post!

Here's how it works:
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment at linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred............out of the 100, the ones I have tasted or eaten are in bold......

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31.Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36.Cognac with a fat cigar - had both, but not at the same time.
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects - thanks to my high school Physiology teacher who gave us chocolate covered grasshoppers! Evil woman...
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu -No!! That stuff can kill ya!
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut - rather have a glazed old fashioned anytime.
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini - my drink of choice.
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips - YUCK!
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs - tastes like chicken *Ü*
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill7
6. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail - nothing to write home about.
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict - it's what's for breakfast.
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant. - now there's a goal!
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare - is that rabbit or something else?
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Have fun! Chris

Thankful Thursday

Rhondi at Rose Colored Glasses hosts Thankful Thursday. I am so glad to be able to participate!

This week I am am so thankful for the California Firefighters who fought our Labor Day wildfire! It was very frightening to watch the smoke and ash float over our home. The wind was erratic and drove the fire directly to the south and east. If it had changed direction, who knows?

The fire crews on the ground and in the air did their dangerous job with professionalism & kindness. They are truly heros. One neighbor came home to find the firefighters holding the fire at his fence line. They told him "You need to evacuate! But we're going to save your home!" And they did. They save all but 3 homes and several out buildings. The homes that were lost did not have defensible space around them. Either high grass & weeds, or accumulated junk allowed the fire to take hold too close to the house. In the dry, windy weather, the risk to the fire crews was too great.

This is my plea to all who live in rural areas where wildfires occur: Please make and maintain 100' of defensible space around your home! It will give the firefighters a chance to save it!

These brave men & women didn't get to enjoy their Labor Day picnics & BBQ's. Instead, they kept the fire to 900 acres, saved many homes and animals!

Thank You Firefighters!

Here is a map of the fire. It clearly show the way the north-westerly wind pushed the fire; top to bottom of the map. Our property is represented by the blue arrow & "HERE". Too close for comfort!



Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Bucket List Meme

Jen over at The Cubicle's Backporch & J & J's Farm-ily has tagged me for a Meme.

According to Jen I should "Write out 8 things that I want to do before I… you guessed it… kick da bucket." Okie Dokie, here goes:

1. Visit Europe - for at least a month!

2. Have my very own chickens.

3. Create a Knot Garden.

4. Become a grandmother. (Not that I have any control over that one!)

5. Fly anywhere First Class.

6. Build a Renaissance Conservatory onto my house.

7. Host a Family Reunion here on our property.

8. Own a second home in Mendocino, CA

Now I am tagging 8 of my best blogging friends! YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE! (Is that a cop out?)

C'mon, play along. It's fun! You could even save it for a day when you've got the dreaded blog-writer's block! Ü

Enjoy! Chris

Very Nervous Labor Day!

This is how I spent my Labor Day afternoon!

This wildfire stayed about 1-1/2 miles from our home. But the wind was very gusty and kept changing directions. For a while, we had some ash falling, so that was a worry. We got all the garden hoses ready and kept as close a watch as we could over 10 acres.

At 8:30 pm the fire was 60 percent contained at 700 acres. We know of one home that was destroyed and several out buildings. There are still some evacuations in effect, but it appears that the fire crews are in "mop up" mode now.

While we keep a closely mowed and green 100' defensible space around our house, there is still plenty of dry grass, which although it is also mowed down, can ignite easily. The fire can also travel from treetop to treetop very quickly in the wind.

We were very lucky! But I have to tell you, I was really frightened! I am definitely ready for our rainy season!