Baby tomatoes

Baby tomatoes

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Life and it's crazy ups and downs

It's been a pretty crazy couple of weeks here at The Little Lake House.

Winter has arrived, and with much fanfare. No, not feet of snow or crippling ice, but with single digit temperatures and just enough snow to make it beautiful. Normally I am so excited to see the first snowfall and this year inside I am still a little bit giggly about it, but with our furnace on the fritz it's not as enjoyable. But like life's many challenges this too will pass and we will soon be warm and toasty again. It's strange to think that a few weeks ago people were still boating, and today the lake is nearly frozen over.

The Chef is in the midst of his busiest time of year, with the country club hosting dozens of events and Christmas parties, a big Thanksgiving Day meal and a few weddings here and there. Speaking of weddings, The Chef surprised me the other night with a beautiful engagement ring! I was so happy I cried! Now we just need to agree on a date and make it official. It was a very touching moment as he gave it to me, and yes, it's mushy but he truly is the love of my life. I can't stop staring at my beautiful diamond ring.

Recovery has been slow going, but I am finally getting back up and around more. I have missed cooking! I have even missed washing the dishes to be honest. Knee surgery seems pretty simple but those are joints you bend all the time, without even thinking about it. The Chef has been an amazing caretaker and spoiled me terribly.

It has been a couple weeks but Halloween was fun with the grandkids- my oldest grandson was a scary hockey masked slasher this year, his first ever scary costume, my granddaughter was a princess, as she truly is, and my youngest grandson was a ninja turtle. Halloween is always such a fun time with kids in their cute costumes. We don't get trick or treaters at The Little Lake House which is one thing I do miss about city life. It's also hockey season for my oldest grandson, and as soon as I get back to driving all the time, I'll be watching him on the ice.

I've been thinking about decorating for Christmas this year. After many years of missing my holiday spirit, I feel like it is creeping back a bit. I have so many things to be thankful for in this life, and so much to be happy about, it's time to reignite that flame and at least do a Christmas tree and some stockings by the fireplace. I'd love to have more of those holidays where everyone drives out in the country to Gramma's House, where it's decorated so cute, with lots of delicious things in the oven, cookies on plates and bowls of homemade candy to share. I miss those big family gatherings at my house, now that my kids are grown and on their own, they like to host the holidays at their homes.

So friends, as Thanksgiving is right around the corner, please take a few minutes to reflect on the good things in your life, your family and friends, the people you love, the blessings you have received. I am so very thankful for everything I have in my life- my amazing children and grandchildren, wonderful friends and the man I love with all my heart, and for all of you, who inspire me. Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Autumn in the country

Leaves are like spring flowers. Shades of red, yellow, orange dot the landscape, rustle and whip around in the breeze. Dust from the corn harvest fills the air. The sound of combines off in the field create the soundtrack. Deer poke their heads out from the cover of the woods. Autumn has arrived in the country.

"Knee high by the Fourth of July"is now dry and brown and
ready to harvest. Summer is officially over.
The fall season is so different at the Little Lake House than it was living in the city. No crowds pack the stores trying to get a jump on holiday shopping. The holidays still seem so far away right now. There is work to be done for country people. It's harvest time, and the fields are busy with activity. Late into the night farmers drive combines and grain trailers back and forth. The wild blows stray corn husks all over the highways. Farmers markets are closing for the year, apple orchards and pumpkin patches are overflowing with visitors from the city. Here at the lake people are busy readying their homes for the winter. Stacks of firewood line the sides of sheds and garages of the full time residents. The weekenders are packing up their fun in the sun toys, loading up boats and four wheelers and closing up houses til spring. Most days the air is heavy with the warming smell of burning leaves and fire pits.

photo by Todd Leech
It's time for us to clear out the gardens, dump out potted plants and clear the deck- anything that shouldn't freeze needs to be put away. It's bittersweet. This is my favorite time of year, and I definitely am looking forward to the first snow of the winter, but I will miss the garden and fresh herbs and stepping out the door to grab a couple of fresh tomatoes for dinner. Vegetables are now packed away in glass jars, lining the shelves of the kitchen cabinets. Jars of dehydrated herbs and peppers are crowded onto the bookcase shelves. Almost 40 pounds of peppers make a lot! Only a handful of cold-hardy plants remain out there-some kale, a couple of herbs. Lots of amazing winter meals will come out of those jars- chili, roasts, apple pies, toast with homemade jam and apple butter.

Long, leisurely drives in the country often reveal real gems
like this old farmstead, long abandoned and left to decay.
Another year has gone by and I didn't collect any walnuts for picking over the winter. I always say I am going to but.......the squirrels outnumber me. Leaves don't need to be raked here, so The Chef and I let nature do what it does with leaves. Mostly I enjoy watching them blow in the breeze and the way they smell during a cool fall rain. I love that they get stuck in the corners of the deck- I love their pop of color against the worn wood of our rustic weathered wood deck. It's also time for pumpkins and winter squash and all those amazing "fall foods" we love so much. Wonderful smells that fill the house, roast turkeys and beef stew and apple and pumpkin desserts. All those things remind me of holidays when I was younger, when my children were younger, time spent with relatives.

Autumn is definitely my favorite time of year, a time of giving thanks, reflection over the year that's coming to a close, and getting prepared for the year to come. It won't be long and the first flakes of snow will begin to fall.......

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Country Life: After all, Iowa IS a farm state, but wind farms ??

Over the last year I wrote several posts for a tourism project in my region of Iowa in which the Little Lake House is located. The tourism project fizzled out but the stories and pictures endure. It's time to share them with you!

Renewable energy. That's been the buzzword for some time now. Since the gas shortages of the 70s to high prices of today, we are always looking for newer, more affordable, and more environmentally friendly ways to generate power to keep our tech gadget-dependent society plugged in and connected.

Ever since Ben Franklin discovered electricity humans have been studying ways to make more, and more, and more. But who discovered WIND energy ? That's an ages old answer. Humans have been using the wind for centuries, to power windmills to grind grains, to propel sailboats across bodies of water. Years of experimentation and research have led to a new kind of Iowa farm- the Wind Farm.

Adair County is home to one of the largest wind farms in Iowa, and you can see the massive turbines for miles as you drive alone Interstate 80. On the west-bound side of the interstate the Adair rest stop is dedicated to the history and development of the wind farm and features an actual turbine blade. The sheer size of the blade gives you an idea of how MASSIVE these turbines really are, even tho they seem so small spread out over the farmland.

I stood beneath this incredible blade and it just seems to go on forever ! 

At the base of the blade there is a plaque that explains how the turbines work, who the manufacturer is, and a lot of other information.

Even though it's technically a rest area on the interstate, it's also a goldmine of information. The walls are lined with tiles that provide facts and figures about the turbines and how they work. 

For a weather buff like me, the tiles provided a wonderful learning experience- about so many things about Iowa wind and weather patterns I have never heard before. 

Pretty incredible to think about the amount of energy generated, just from the wind that's part of every day life on Earth.

And the wind never goes away..............