In search of the perfect gifts…and the traveling boots

With my husband off to San Diego for a week, I am in search of his perfect gift.

What is your idea of the perfect gift? If someone special in your life were to ask you to describe what you would like, a material object, written words as confirmation of love, a trip together…..

Finding gifts for children, young or grown, is easy (unless you are looking for a Cabbage Patch kid in 1980) they usually provide (Santa) me with a rather detailed and lengthy list. Finding gifts for my husband, not so easy; you see, he doesn’t care about the perfect sweater, the best boots, shiniest watch, or latest electronic gadgets, he has no use for gold cuff links, he has 4 pair of cowboy boots, every tool imaginable; I’m bored with buying jeans and white t-shirts. I could just ask him; but, I like the surprise…otherwise, it is like he chose his gift and I wrapped it..kinda senseless. So, I search and think, and ponder. Walking aimlessly through crowded malls, hoping to come across the “perfect” gift is not a viable option (at least not for me).
He never really wants anything; I need to find that little something that carries with it some emotional value, maybe… rather than their practical or monetary value. Perhaps something that will remind him of love, and experiences, of past times…but, what?(err, maybe that’s what I want)
Back to him; I could make him a new scarf from our llama fiber; I think I will. The scarf he will like,but..something,the one perfect gift……????? He is forever busy, building, farm chores,and repairs…a nice long, relaxing massage? He never really takes time to relax..or time for himself, this may be a “perfect” gift.

Or, maybe…I’ll keep searching.

dining room tree...

Kitchen/family tree...lots of old and handmade ornaments

lookin' for inspiration...with the boots

the boots.

boots with salvaged barn beams

boots..with the stock trailer

boots...with chopped wood (maybe he needs a new ax)

boots at the hay feeder..not sure she is very impressed.

I have found the one whom my soul loves... song of Solomon 3:4 (well, at least I found something)

On such a tangled, fragile mesh of meanings there rests enormous weight. The search goes on; I have a week. I can do this! Right?

Be Well,

The art of choosing a Christmas tree.

I thought this would be a good time to pop back in; and re-post this amusing (to me ) course of events. We are selling Christmas trees for the first time here at the shop; kinda excited!

Or, how not to choose a Christmas tree.

It is no secret, I LOVE Christmas, so getting prepared is bliss. Our family enjoys heading out to a Christmas tree farm to select and cut our own Christmas tree. Nothing is as much fun or nostalgic around the holidays than packing up and heading to a Christmas tree farm… I have memories of pulling my children around in a plastic sled through the rows of trees, as they grew we would argue over which was the best tree, while we were totally freezing, then watching them try to cut and carry the trees. Today, the weather is a bit wonky..60 something and sunny…what is up with that? I want frosty fingers and a bright red nose when searching for our trees, (I suffered in silence and endured the warmth…;) It’s a wonderful tradition, and it’s a wonderful thing to do in a world now that is so far removed from nature,all the technology and all the craziness and all the horrible news— it just gives you a chance to maybe step back to a simpler slow down a little.

We wonder in search of the perfect trees…covering acres and acres of neatly planted rows of trees; breathing in the fresh scent of pine that permeates the air. If we come across a potential keeper…we like to use the arm test,raise an arm toward your ceiling to the height you want your tree to be, measure the tree with your arm (note to self…it does not work if Dad measures the ceiling and Jenn measures the tree)…Don’t forget that the tree stand often adds to the overall height, perhaps 4 to 6 inches….and leave room for the star. Full, with sturdy branches to hold oodles, and oodles of ornaments; this is another requirement.

Also, please note it is not necessary, when choosing a tree, to lie on the grass and play with their cat for 20 or so minutes, as you decide whether to name (re-name) him Gerard or Christmas Tree.

A big pot of turkey soup and hot cider waiting at home = perfect day.

I was temporarily derailed from my tree hunting mission...

Josh and Juli all set for their drive back to the city...

Do you have a natural tree or an artificial? I remember the modern allure of the aluminum trees as a child…Sister Helen even had a rotating light in front of hers…:)

Be Well,

Liebster Blog Award

First, I hope you all had a wonderous Thanksgiving!

The Liebster Blog Award is given to up coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers.

Liebster is German and means sweetest, kindest, nicest,dearest, beloved, lovely, kindly, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.The Liebster Blog Award is given to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers.Well hopefully not for long!

The rules for the Liebster Blog Award are:

Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.
Thank you I just love the stories I find written here, I think you will too, so head on over to and see what story she has for you to enjoy today.
Link back to the blogger who awarded you.
Copy & paste the blog award on your blog
Reveal your 5 blog picks
Let them know you choose them by leaving a comment on their blog.

My First pick. Miss Prairie Wisdom. At times, it feels as though I am sitting at her kitchen table, tea mug in hand, listening to her tell a story…funny and informative too.

My Second pick, Here’s an excerpt from her “So glad to meet you” page…
8 Things The Empty Nest Mom Believes:
I believe we never stop being mothers and that our influence is still important
in our children’s lives.
I believe we can feel at loose ends after years of having those kids under foot, sharing our home, giggling in our beds, ransacking our fridge, complaining about chores, draining our pocketbooks, sprinkling magic with their little hugs and kisses and hand holding and keeping our lives at a breakneck speed; so now that our homes are relatively quiet places it’s nice to have a place to connect and celebrate life as it is now – which is its own kind of perfect.
I believe that even if your day stinks – it’s still a gift.
I believe we’re all kind of a big deal.
I believe it’s our responsibility to stay engaged in our lives and to have fun.
I believe that HGTV, TLC and Food Network are worthy addictions.
I believe Nancy Meyers is the best thing to happen to movies in 100 years.
I believe in women who are authentic, creative, adventurous, experienced, fun, and come from a place of love.
….If I was her neighbor we would be friends…that is all.

My Third pick, her in her quest for an organic,sustainable farm living,meet Miss Daisy…and the other animals as she goes about her life…and serves up some yummy recipes.

My Fourth Pick;, I enjoy reading her stories, written with a real family connection, humor, from City to cattle ranch.

My Fifth pick;, she makes even the everyday .. interesting. I just love it!

Another list worthy blog;…and one of my favorites, she writes with honesty and beauty…and her pictures are gorgeous.

Head on over, check out their blogs and let me know what you think!

A month of thanksgiving ~ Day 23

November 23, 2011


Sounds like an ominous thing to be grateful for at Thanksgiving doesn’t it…it’s not. Medical research in general, should really be my main topic. I think any one of us who lost a loved one to disease would agree.

I started thinking about today’s blog as I sat in the waiting room of our hometown Doctor’s office. My grown son had been feeling ill, not quuite himself, and with a nagging cough…he had also pulled many ticks off of himself and thought it might be Lyme. I went to the visit with him. We checked in with the receptionist, and took our seat. Justin looked up and through the window, saw our neighbors, Andrew, Ryan, and their Grand-mother, Pat heading into the office. Justin and Andrew are good buddies; when ever they meet, he calls my Justin..”Justin Bieber” (pronounced BEEBA). Justin in turn calls him Andrew Bieber, yes, this had to take place even in the doctor’s office. Even if a bit too loudly…Justin headed into his exam…Andrew waited, and fidgeted (the appointment for his older brother). He brought me some books to read to him…fidgeted some more, then climbed up on my lap for a long comforting squeeze; as I cradled his head while I held him..I felt a little something..I asked him to turn his head so that I could see,,he had a tick burrowed into the base of his head…I guess he was in the right place.

Well, as it turns out; Justin has pneumonia, Ryan has strep, Andrew is being treated for Lyme disease(precautionary, as the tick was deeply embedded). What a day on Brady Lane.
All can be treated with antibiotics. Generations ago, the outcome would be much different.

The holidays bring back memories, naturally. Memories of childhood, of family, of friends..I am thankful for all in my life. I intend to enjoy every moment I have with loved ones this holiday season; as I know all too well, how quickly life can change. I pray, for a cure for all and any disease, and I pray for health and happiness for you and your loved ones. I’m thankful right now to be surrounded by those whose lives touch me more than they’ll ever possibly know.
Happy Thanksgiving.

The light is what guides you home, the warmth is what keeps you there. ~Ellie Rodriguez

Every house where love abides And friendship is a guest, Is surely home, and home sweet home For there the heart can rest. ~Henry Van Dyke

And thank you for a house full of people I love. Amen.

So wherever you find yourself this holiday season, remember to pause and give thanks.
Be well,

A month of thanksgiving ~ Day 22

November 22, 2011

Babies and Sunrises ~ beginnings

This is the precious present, regardless of what yesterday was like, regardless of what tomorrow may bring.

Watching the sunrise, a fresh start to a brand new day;breathing in the crisp November morning air; I stood in bare feet to capture a moment on film knowing if I waited a second longer the moment would be lost…nature waits for no one. I scurried back into my wood warmed kitchen and stood watching the salmon colored sky fade…sipping my first cup of steaming hot tea. What to do today? It’s too early to worry and yet I need to begin, but sometimes…I just have to see ~ before it gets too busy to look. I just need to feel the serenity of it all as the world awakens like a new-born child. Watching the sunrise reminds me …that with each dawn we can all start anew each day, forgetting whatever troubled us the day or the night before, looking forward to what ever this new day will bring…. A new beginning, something so close to heaven, such as it is with babies…such a beautiful beginning.

I am grateful to have been able to capture this morning’s sunrise, and, I was lucky enough to spend part my day with my niece and nephew who were visiting from Canada, I snapped a few photos as Phenix explored..and Jurney knitted.

Climb up on some hill at sunrise. Everybody needs perspective once in a while, and you'll find it there. ~Robb Sagendorph

A new baby is like the beginning of all things-wonder, hope, a dream of possibilities. -- Eda J. Le Shan

I'll tell you how the sun rose a ribbon at a time. ~Emily Dickinson

Babies are such a nice way to start people. -- Don Herrold

Nothing is more beautiful than the loveliness of the woods before sunrise. ~George Washington Carver

It is the nature of babies to be in bliss. -- Deepak Chopra

Nature is the art of God. ~Thomas Browne, Religio Medici, 1635

A wee child toddling in a wonder world.... I prefer to their dogma my excursions into the natural gardens where the voice of the Great Spirit is heard in the twittering of birds, the rippling of mighty waters, and the sweet breathing of flowers. ...~Zitkala-Sa

Every child is a deliberate, passionate creation of God. If you doubt that, just look into their eyes. You will find a gentle little spirit who hungers for life - and for your love. (Gary Holland)

One visit with a child can supply us with enough creativity dust to last for a lifetime... Visit with children like you're the child you ought to be more often. Jurney ..doing good work...

Be Well,

A month of thanksgiving ~ Day 21

November 21, 2011

The Internet

Now, I am at point in the this month of thanksgiving and gratitude, where I believe I have expressed most of the gratitude for truly cherished people, life affirming activities, and joyful experiences I have or had. So, where does that leave me; am I grateful for things? Really? That feels a bit materialistic to my sensibilities. Or is it? As I thought about it longer; I found many “things” I was grateful for, including my car, sewing machine, oven, camera…and the I thought of the internet. An aha moment. If it were not for the capabilities of an internet search, I wouldn’t be able to ponder others opinions, or smile at their musings, admire their photographs, in fact to see (in video, and photos) everyday life in every part of the world. I could not have fathomed this…could you? I can find any recipe I will ever need, how- to on virtually any subject, find (err, search) for employment opportunities, shop for clothes or anything else you could possibly want to buy. I can show the world what I’ve have made, designed, or grown. I can look up old friends, advertise our farm, share pictures with far away family, and find any help I may need for my animals on facebook. I can share every random thought I have on twitter.
And, I can write a blog, to potentially connect with other like – minded people…to express myself, and to share. For this I am grateful. For as I have mentioned in earlier posts; I feel through our personal connections we can really know ourselves and enhance our existence; and despite the separation or lack of physical proximity, through social media and the internet we are able to build on the power of human connection, don’t you think? I have built friendships some as strong as, friendships cultivated by close physical contact. I have new relationships I would not give up for anything and I have met smart, intelligent, fascinating, creative, authentic, successful and beautiful people; folks I may never ever have met in person. I have and still believed that meeting people in person is essentially the most authentic connection; person to person physical relationships, friendships and interaction, cannot be replaced by social media. But, I sure do appreciate the genius’ who created the internet and social media sites that enable us to interact with the whole of the world (if we want to).

he most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention…. A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words.
– Rachel Naomi Remen

And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
– Marianne Williamson

Each contact is so rare, so precious, one should preserve it.

We don’t accomplish anything in this world alone … and whatever happens is the result of the whole tapestry of one’s life and all the weavings of individual threads from one to another that creates something.

Be well,

A month of thanksgiving ~ Day 20

Live your life so that the fear of death can never enter your heart. When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the morning light. Give thanks for your life and strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. And if perchance you see no reason for giving thanks, rest assured the fault is in yourself.

Chief Tecumseh, Shawnee Indian Chief

November 20, 2011


I do believe, I have little writing to do this day…Craig Morgan’s song “That’s What I Love about Sunday” says everything…I love about Sundays.

Raymond’s in his Sunday best,
He’s usually up to his chest in oil an’ grease.
There’s the Martin’s walkin’ in,
With that mean little freckle-faced kid,
Who broke a window last week.
Sweet Miss Betty likes to sing off key in the pew behind me.

That’s what I love about Sunday:
Sing along as the choir sways;
Every verse of Amazin’ Grace,
An’ then we shake the Preacher’s hand.
Go home, into your blue jeans;
Have some chicken an’ some baked beans.
Pick a back yard football team,
Not do much of anything:
That’s what I love about Sunday.

I stroll to the end of the drive,
Pick up the Sunday Times, grab my coffee cup.
It looks like Sally an’ Ron, finally tied the knot,
Well, it’s about time.
It’s 35 cents off a ground round,
Baby, cut that coupon out!

That’s what I love about Sunday:
Cat-napping on the porch swing;
You curled up next to me,
The smell of jasmine wakes us up.
Take a walk down a back road,
Tackle box and a cane pole;
Carve our names in that white oak,
steal a kiss as the sun fades,
That’s what I love about Sunday,
Oh, yeah.

Ooh, new believers gettin’ baptized,
Momma’s hands raised up high,
Havin’ a Hallelujah good time
A smile on everybody’s face.
That’s what I love about Sunday,
Oh, yeah.

That’s what I love about Sunday,
Oh, yeah.

"Joy is the feeling of grinning inside."

"Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls." -Mother Teresa

"Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day." -Henri Nouwen

"This is the true joy of life, the being used up for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one." -George Bernard Shaw This my friends is the ~ rare, and elusive ~ idle may never have the opportunity to see him in a sitting position again, please enjoy.

To get joy, we must give it, and to keep joy, we must scatter it. -John Templeton My Girls! ❤

"Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy." -Thich Nhat Hanh The Boys.

"Joy can be real only if people look upon their life as a service, and have a definite object in life outside themselves and their personal happiness." -Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy

"And Joy is Everywhere; It is in the Earth's green covering of grass; In the blue serenity of the Sky; In the reckless exuberance of Spring; In the severe abstinence of gray Winter; In the Living flesh that animates our bodily frame; In the perfect poise of the Human figure, noble and upright; In Living; In the exercise of all our powers; In the acquisition of Knowledge; in fighting evils...Joy is there Everywhere" -Rabindranath Tagore

"Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give." -Eleanor Roosevelt

There may be no joy like lazing around on a Sunday afternoon, doing nothing in particular,...Enjoy your Sunday!

Be Well,

A month of thanksgiving ~ day 19

November 19, 2011


I was lying in bed last night, just before falling asleep, wondering…what should my Grateful blog be about tomorrow? This challenge is proving a bit difficult some days. I wasn’t coming up with anything earth -shatteringly (I make up words often) new, so I said to myself, “leave it til morning”.

This morning, after making pancakes for my youngest daughter and her fiend; they are headed to Kingston to watch their high school football team play in a huge game..GOOD LUCK HFCS FOOTBALL and a shout out the varsity girls soccer team, whom are also playing today in Cortland.(ok, I’ll focus now) I made myself a cup of tea, walked over to gaze out at the frosty morning through the kitchen window; daydreaming a bit…thinking then about how families change, evolve over time, and how holiday activities that have inspired our family’s celebrations have become family traditions.

I went on to think about Thanksgiving, and the fact that my eldest daughter and her boyfriend would be home for a few days. I am looking forward to their stay; being here with us to enjoy our traditional Thanksgiving Day activities, and the after dinner, before the Pro- or College games, flag football game, we use red and blue tinsel garland for “flags”, it is always so much fun, and funny, given that we have some very athletic sort, and some not so athletic sort (me)…my usual defensive move “tuck and cover”, usually we end up laughing so one can run! On a typical Thanksgiving Day we have about 25 folks and friends, co-workers, and neighbors. Our memories are a time filled with laughter and lived fully. I am grateful.
Another holiday tradition is heading out to a tree farm for a “cut your own” adventure. I say adventure, because we always have 2 trees, one in the kitchen; a family tree, decorated with all of the home-made ornaments, some by my children, some made by friends, and the forever ornaments, those worn by time..yet they retain so much sentiment and history they must be placed carefully on the tree. The other tree, in the living/dining room, is a more formal tree (or as formal as we get here on the farm). Both beautiful in their own way. This year Juli and Josh will be cutting down the first tree of their own. Juli is very particular about trees, they must be full, they must be tall, they must be perfectly shaped….we have gone through literally acres of trees before my girls and I can agree on a tree(s). I guess we are all particular…

Sharing these traditions with family…a heartfelt continuity among generations, a time for Joy. Wasn’t it Tasha Tudor who spoke about children and Joy…( actually, I think they words were penned much earlier in the 1500’s, ” The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is JOY. Take Joy!” Most recently, Tasha Tudor, who’s books and illustrations I adore, wrote a Holiday book called “Take JOY”, an opportunity to cherish the simple magic of the season…without all of the commercial trappings. The simple joy of baking cookies together, hanging stockings, decorating the tree,(err..after we find them), taking a moment to breathe deep inhaling the crisp fresh air…inhaling the scent of the holidays. I think, we still invoke the magic of childhood in our traditions, every one eagerly anticipates all the rituals, and excitement, this season has to offer. Life is what you make it ~ we choose to make it joyful, by embracing each other(for what we are) and laughing as much as possible.


Gramma McHale...


from my kitchen window...

age , comfort, beauty...


the past...

soft colors...

the present sometimes mirrors the past...

stoic bunnies?

family decor ( or better known as Riley Cat)

flowers, always flowers...

“One of the most important things you can do for your children is to give them happy memories of their childhood.”

Be Well

A month of thanksgiving ~ Day 18

November 18, 2011

My Thoughtful Spot

Do you have a place in your home, that you automatically gravitate to when you have to think, relax, work, or create? Mine is in the corner of my kitchen, right beside the wood stove…cozy, cozy, cozy…(in the warmer months, it is in the swing under the “gum drop” Maple tree).

I have a big over sized upholstered wing chairs and a rocking love-seat… in my kitchen, yes, you heard me right. My kitchen space is quite large,(22×24) and we spend a significant amount of time there. So, it makes sense for us..err, for me. I am always grateful to have a moment to grab a cuppa, dogs at my feet ( or on my feet, if you are Lexi), paper in hand, or a good book, or the computer, knitting needles..what really doesn’t matter…when I am not out with the animals; this is where I’ll be. Wish you could join me there…:)

My Thoughtful Spot in cooler months and rainy days...

My thoughtful spot in warmer months, right now it's white and shivery...

How could I speak of a thoughtful spot without including Pooh? I am a bit of a Pooh fanatic, you see.

Winnie the Pooh's Thoughtful Spot is a place where Pooh thinks. It's made up of a sign saying Pooh's Thoughtful Spot, and a log. Pooh went there in Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day. When he just sat down, Gopher popped up and told Pooh that it was "Windsday." Often when Pooh visits his Thoughtful Spot, he sits down, taps his head, closes one eye, and says, "Think, think, think." That is a sign that he is thinking hard.

Be well, I am so grateful for even the small things…

A month of thanksgiving ~ Day 17

November 17, 2011

I am grateful for my what?? Yep, my spinning wheel. I’m thankful for my creativity, I’m thankful my abundant llama fiber stash, and I’m thankful for the view from my kitchen window of my llama babies.

Spinning has taught me patience, perseverance, and above makes me aware;I thrive on challenge. Stick-tu-it-iveness, my motto…

After purchasing a book called “Harvesting Color” by Katie Mendelson; I decided to add to my already too large garden ( wait, can a garden be too large, I think not)! I have always loved the colors exploding from zinnia’s…they it turns out are great for dyeing fiber… a beautiful deep golden color. And poke berries, they are plentiful here along the edge of our farm; perfect for dyeing fiber a gorgeously deep magenta. golden rod yields a bright sunny yellow…plentiful in our area much to allergy sufferers dismay. How about elderberry for a dusky lavender…pansies, violets, cosmos, and coreopsis..oh my…

As I mentioned in an earlier “grateful” blog…this activity also brings like- minded people into my life…People that are making a difference. People that are living joyfully, peacefully, creatively. People that are helping others go after their dreams, encouraging at every step. If I had a question or particular problem with my endeavor ~ their would be countless folks there; ready to help with answers, support and solutions. People that are living their dreams. People that love big & are loved big.

Natural fiber,and the animals that bring it to us connects people with other people & with opportunities. It connects people to activities ,to an opus if you will…to explore….to challenge ourselves. It connects people to their passions…and creative souls.

Andy's fiber is ...lushy

The trade...KatDoll, "You want what?"

Andy, "They want what?"

"OK, we can trade" "Ok, Howie"???

"I'll take your boot in exchange for some fiber"...fair?

"Uhm, could you hold still"! "If I can just..."

Andy, " Kat Doll?...KAT DOLL?...."

loverly fiberliciousness...

hmm, wonder what they think?

Do you think, you want to offer me some fiber...huh, do ya?

cardin - o - the fiber

fiber, fiber, fiber....

my wheel....empty and waiting...

poke berry, dyed yarn...( from Harvesting Color)

Coreopsis steeping in the sun...(Harvesting Color)

lusciousness.... llama fiber...

LOVE, love, love...

Listen to the Mustn’ts

Listen to the MUSTN’TS, child,

Listen to the DONT’S.

Listen to the SHOULDN’TS


Listen to the NEVER HAVES

Then listen close to me-
Anything can happen, child,

ANYTHING can be.

Be well,