Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

Here's wishing you and yours a Happy 2013! I hope it's filled with love,happiness,and goodness! I'll begin blogging again on a regular basis later in the week.

Have a fabulous year on this Fabulous Planet!!!!!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Here's wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas...may it be filled with love,joy,and laughter!!!

                                           Love,Donna,Rick,and Zach

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Of Old

The one story that sticks out in my mind when Christmas rolls around is the one that my Dad told me about his Christmases as a child.

My Dad was born in 1914 in Somersworth,NH. He was the third child of 10,from my  Pepere ( pronounced Pep-pay) Lessard's first marriage. My father's mother died in 1929 from pneumonia.We always call them the " first batch".

My Pepere Lessard worked,but didn't make a lot of money. He worked at the mill,then worked at the pumping station. My Memere ( pronounced Mem-may) Lessard didn't work,because she stayed home to take care of her children. They were very poor. They got clothes from the church. There were no extras.What they lacked in money,they more than made up for with family. My Memere Lessard  had her parents ( the Magnans) and brothers and sisters nearby,and they were always part of their lives. Some of my Dad's most favorite memories was going over to his Memere and Pepere Magnan's house on Saturdays for dinner and standing around the piano,singing.

Christmas was wonderful for my Dad. Though they didn't get much for gifts,they would wake up on Christmas morning and have a beautifully decorated tree. Memere and Pepere  would put it up while the children were asleep. There were pies,cakes,and all kinds of wonderful things to eat that they normally would not have. The relatives would come over and they would sing,eat,and make merry. My Dad never dwelled on what they didn't  have,it was what they DID have,and because it was not something that was everyday,it made it more special.

When this time of the year rolls around, I am always brought back to this story,and it gives me great pause. Today,we see people trampling each other in stores  to save a few bucks. Stores are now open on Thanksgiving,and to me,it's very sad and wrong. I think of my Dad as a little boy with a pair of mittens and a pretty tree as a gift with plenty of good things to eat being surrounded by a loving family. I also can hear the happiness in his voice when he would tell me about those days. It was enough for him.

This photo is dated around 1919. From left to right: Luminda Magnan ( my great grandmother),my Memere Magnan Lessard,my great Aunt Eva Magnan, my great Aunt Bella Magnan,and my Dad.

Have a fabulous day on this Fabulous Planet!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Countdown Begins

So begins the countdown to Christmas. All my decorations are up,gifts made/bought,and I have started making my pork pies. You can find the recipe at this

I have three more to make,one for our neighbor and two for us for Christmas Eve. The one for our neighbor I will make tomorrow,the ones for us I will make on Sunday. We have had pork pie on Christmas Eve as long as I can remember,and I will not let that tradition fade into the sunset.

What kind of Christmas Eve/Day traditions do you observe?

Monday, December 17, 2012

There Is Still Good Out There

Friday morning I was doing some errands in Rochester when my car decided to act up. It made a terrible grinding noise,the tachometer would go up,but the car was acting sluggish. I pulled over in a CVS parking lot and called Rick. He and Brother B came down,and Brother B drove my car to the dealership,which,happily,was less than 1/4 mile away. It seems like it might be the transmission,and according to them,it's still under warranty,which is good. They won't really be able to look at it until today or tomorrow. 

Early Friday afternoon, I was in the middle of filling my window boxes with greens and berries when the horrible news came over the TV about the shooting in CT. I finished the boxes and stopped decorating. I had planned to finish all my decorating that day,but I completely lost interest. I felt sick to my stomach,and I still feel like someone has kicked me in the gut.

Saturday I did have some good diversion. My sister Linda and I went to my Mom's house to celebrate her 87th birthday. We had lunch,then went to downtown Somersworth to check out some of the nice little shops. We then went to buy our poinsettias at a local greenhouse.That night,our friend Eric had a housewarming party,and we enjoyed ourselves. We aren't that social anymore,so it was good to get out and mingle at something that wasn't a Scouting event (though most of the folks there are involved in Scouting).Rick enjoyed himself quite a bit. It felt good to laugh.

Yesterday,I finished decorating and made some fudge. I also worked on crocheting one of the Christmas gifts. Last night it started to snow,and this AM we have a two hour delay,though I think it should have been a cancellation. The roads are terrible and it's still snowing.

One of my window boxes with greenery and berries:

Our tree. I didn't use orange slices this year,but I did use some dried hydrangeas:
My little village. I string some lights along the sill and put them inside the houses:

Rick took this photo this morning. You can't tell,but it's snowing:

A close up of the window boxes:

The plant hangers down by the road.Everything looks so pretty in the snow!

The mantle. I just noticed you can see my reflection in the mirror:

A bit of berries and greens in my pouring bowl above the stove:

 Our bedroom door:

The canning cabinet:
 Last,but not least,the chimney shelf:

In spite of what has happened in CT,I still believe in my fellow man. It can be very difficult when people do terrible things,or live their lives hating,but I take comfort in knowing that there are far more good people out there than bad. I think we as a society need to start putting BS behind us and remember,we are all here together. The hate,fear,and paranoia in this country need to stop. We are all brothers and sisters. Who cares what color we are? What politics we believe in?  What religion we are? How about working together to make this a better place?? We need to stop demonizing people who don't agree with us,and start acting like rational,caring humans again. When we band together for the common good,there is nothing that we can't accomplish.

This is still a Fabulous Planet. Enjoy your day on it!

Saturday, December 15, 2012


Our nation is crying......................

Friday, December 14, 2012

Working On It

Sorry it's been a while since I posted!

We finally got the tree decorated on Wednesday. Zach only had half a day of school,so we decorated it that afternoon.

Yesterday I was in Rochester  when my car decided to start making grinding noises and not have the power it should. Thankfully,I was less than half a mile from the garage we go to. I called the Menfolk and they came down to get me. My car will not be looked at until Monday. That took the wind out of my sails,as I was going to decorate the inside of the house and do my window box greenery. By the time I got home,I no longer had the desire to do any of it. Instead,Rick and I went metal detecting out on one of the old camp roads where there are many old foundations. We didn't find anything,but it was quite fun!

Last night our dog Samson woke us up to go out at 1:30 AM. Rick took him out,and was able to fall back asleep after,but I was up until 4:30,then I finally fell back asleep and woke up at 8:30. My head is still foggy.

Today I will be decorating and doing my window boxes. I need to double check my fudge recipe,and make sure I have enough baggies to give them out as gifts!

Tomorrow I am having a muffin date with my Dear Friend Michelle,then going to my Mom's to celebrate her birthday. Her birthday was Dec 11 (she is now 87) but she was down in GA visiting her granddaughter (my niece) Tara.

So much to do,so little time! I don't even have my Christmas cards sent out yet!

Have a fabulous day on this Fabulous Planet!

Monday, December 10, 2012

O Christmas Tree....

Yesterday was a gorgeous day for picking out our Christmas tree. I think it was the warmest it has ever been since we started going to the Torr Tree Farm (U Pick,We Cut) for our tree. The Torr family has a National Bicentennial Farm,which means their farm has been under the ownership of one family for 200 years. They own several acres of land,and they are a member of the NH/VT Christmas Tree Association.

We showed up just after a rush hit. There was only two other people there,and they were lucky enough to get into my camera shot. This is just a very small section of the tree farm. I would say it's at least two acres.

Our ceilings are only 8 ft high,so our trees have to be more on the small side. Zach liked this one,and he said he was willing to cut a hole in the ceiling to get it to fit. I,however,was less than enthusiastic about that idea! I told him I would take his picture in front of it instead for posterity.

We did find the perfect little tree,about 6 ft tall,nice and full. Zach and Rick trimmed the bottom branches off it so it would fit in the tree base,and they set aside what they took off so I could use them for decorating. We are going to let it sit for a couple of days to acclimate to the house. Looking at this weeks schedule,however,it looks like it won't be decorated until Friday,because Zach helps me decorate it,and he will barely be home after school all week.Tonight is Boy Scouts,and we are meeting early to fill 25 boxes with goodies that are going to Afghanistan,plus he has media club until 5:00 PM. Tomorrow he is going Christmas shopping with Uncle B,then Wednesday night he has Patrol Leader Conference,then Thursday night he has his Order of the Arrow meeting,plus he won't get out of school until 5:00 because he has his Youth To Youth (anti drug and tobacco organization) meeting. I will probably get the lights on it,at least. That is really a one person job.

While Zach and Rick set up the tree, I got the wreaths down from the attic and and put them out. Rick had to put the one on the house up,because I am too short. I did by garland this year to wrap around my plant hangers by the street and I hung red bows on them. That is new this year. You can't see the wreath on the white door to the right,because the shadows made it  too dark.

The other wreaths I hung on the French doors.

We still need to hang the lights outside. That makes it pop!

Have a fabulous day on this Fabulous Planet!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Apparently I Needed Sleep

Good morning everyone!!

We have getting ready for Christmas. Rick put all the timothy hay bales,corn stalks,and pumpkins into the compost pile. I need to bring my decorations (which,thankfully,I actually organized last year!) down from the attic,and go out to woods to gather my greens. I started stocking up on ground pork for my pork pies. I will be making 6 this year-two for us for Christmas Eve,one for Dad Shaw,one for Brother Dale,one for Nephew Brody,and one for Ron and Jean,our neighbors.

The boys have been spending a lot of time out in the woods hunting. Rick needs to get out and enjoy himself in the woods,especially since it took him so long to be able to go back into the woods. They have heard deer,and seen them,but the brush was always too much to get a shot off. Shotgun season ends in just a few days,but archery season lasts a bit longer,and Rick does archery,so who knows? We did get two deer that was hit by cars. The first one turned out to be no good-it was hit in such a manner that the internal organs were pushed up under the skin (gross,I know,sorry). It was not noticeable until they started to skin it. The second one was a cleaner hit,and our first meal from it was venison filet mignon wrapped in bacon. It was tender and delicious!

Yesterday was a busy day. Zach's laptop is not working,so I went onto the Toshiba website and followed the steps they suggested,but it didn't work. I ordered recovery disks from them and if that doesn't work,we will have to get it fixed. I also ordered some Christmas presents,watched an episode of "Victorian Christmas" ( thank you Amy for the proper site to access it!),made crockpot baked beans and gluten free cornbread. I then went to the store and purchased some Christmas gifts,replacement Christmas lights for the house,and a new day planner. I came back home and did some crocheting (more Christmas gifts!).

After supper, I was reading " Bloody Mary" about Queen Mary,and my eyes started to get heavy. I wound up falling asleep in the chair at 6:00 PM. After a brief cat nap,I woke up and still felt tired,so I decided to go lay down. I was asleep by 7:30 PM.

I vaguely woke up early this morning ( it was still dark) and heard the rain falling outside,so I snuggled deeper in to the covers and feel back asleep.There is nothing more soothing than the sound of falling rain when one is nice and cozy in bed! When I woke up next,I looked at the clock,and it was around 8:30 AM! I stayed in bed for another half hour,though. I was so comfy that I just couldn't bring myself to get up,but I eventually pulled it off :)

Guess I needed that sleep!

Have a fabulous day on this Fabulous Planet!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Soapmaking 101

A couple weeks ago, I made some Pearberry scented hand soap. I'm trying to use up all my fragrance oil before I order some new oil. I think this time I will splurge and get essential oil. It's more concentrated,so not as much is needed,but it does cost a bit more.

You will need:

 -24 oz Crisco
-9 oz coconut oil
-10.5 oz canola oil
-14 oz cold water
-6 oz lye crystals
-hand mixer ( I use my old one now just for soapmaking)
-non metallic spoon or spatula (I use cheap wooden spoons that I bought just for soapmaking)
-bowl for lye water
-measuring cup
-digital scale
-soap mold ( I use a silicone 8 x8 baking dish)
-thermometer (I used an old candy thermometer)
-scent/coloring (optional)


1) Zero out your digital scale by placing the measuring cup on it and hitting the "tare/on" button. You can see in the photo below that it is now set at zero. Everything is measured by weight. Pour water into the cup until it reaches 14 oz. Pour the water into a bowl,and wipe out your measuring cup. Place the cup back on the scale,make sure it's zeroed out,and add the lye crystals until it weighs 6 oz.

Before you mix the lye and water,you will want to open some windows to get some ventilation going. Lye is very caustic,and can burn your skin. The fumes smell and can make you sick. Sometimes I also have to put my t-shirt in front of my nose. Sprinkle the lye into the water,and stir gently until the lye crystals have dissolved  You will see fumes/smoke coming out of the bowl. This is the lye reacting. Place the lye off to the side to cool down. I place the bowl in front of the window.

2) Melt your solids. As you measured the lye and water,do the same with the Crisco and coconut oil. Make sure the Crisco measures 24 oz ( I had to do two measurements of 12 oz since my measuring cup isn't that big) and put it into a pan on the stove. Measure the coconut oil to 9 oz and put in the pan with the Crisco. Melt them over low heat,stirring occasionally  Measure the canola oil in the same manner,making sure it weighs 10.5 oz. When the Crisco and coconut oil and melted,add the the canola oil and stir.

Here you see the solid fats being melted........

......and the canola oil being added once the solid fats are melted

3) Now comes the part I always have a hard time with-waiting for the lye water and the oils to cool to the proper temperature. This is where the thermometer comes in. Both the lye water and the melted oils should be cooled down to 80-100 degrees before they are combined.This could take anywhere from 1/2 an hour to an hour.

4)Gently pour the lye water into the oils,mixing as you go.The mixer should be on low to avoid more air bubbles from forming than need be.

5)Mix on low until soap mixture begins to thicken,then move up to medium speed.The soap is ready to pour when it hits trace. Trace is when the soap forms squiggles on the top of the mixture like in the photo below:

6) This is the time to add your scent (it's up to you how much to add)..........

.......and your soap coloring. Again,it's up to you how much add depending on what you want the color to look like. Make sure you mix in the scent completely before you add the color. Mix in the color completely.

Here it is...ready for the mold!!!!!

7) Pour the soap mix into the mold. Smooth it out as best you can.

8) Cover it with a towel and let rest for 8-24 hours.

9) Take the soap out of the mold and place it away from drafts and cold air for 1-7 days.

10)After a few days,it's ready to cut up into bars. Score the soap to help with sizing. Notice how the soap has turned white? That's the lye that has risen up through the block of soap.

Here is a photo for a better comparison. The block on the lower left shows the bottom of the soap block. The upper right the top. There will be some white residue on the sides as well. Don't worry,we're going to cut those off to make pretty soap.

11) Cut off the white areas,and any other areas you need to make square pieces. This recipe fills an 8 x 8 pan,so the blocks are thick. 

A bit blurry,but you see how nice it looks when the white is trimmed off.

12) I cut the blocks in half,so I get more soap for the buck!

See? Two bars for the price of one!

13) You might wonder what to do with all those pieces that got trimmed off- use them! They still work. I bagged them up into a sandwich bag and put them in our bathroom closet.

14) TA-DA! Homemade bar soap. It now needs to cure for 2-4 weeks. 

After the time has passed, enjoy your soap,or wrap it in some pretty paper and give as a gift!

Have a fabulous day on this Fabulous Planet!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Going Into The Past

Yesterday I started checking out a few names on my Family Tree Maker. I wanted to see how many of Rick's ancestors took part in wars. I wound up getting involved in that and adding more names to the tree. I discovered that he had family members here earlier than I thought-his Pratt ancestor that came over on the Anne (the third ship from the Mayflower) had been thought to be the earliest. They landed in MA and worked their way up to NH. Now I find one or two were in Portsmouth before the 1620's,and one is buried in one of the oldest cemeteries  in Portsmouth. I think I wound working on this for over three hours. It's very easy to get sucked in.

I do know of a few who served before I was checking it out yesterday. He had a few that served in the French and Indian Wars.His great-great grandfather,Randal Chase,died only a few weeks after the Battle of Fredricksburg during the Civil War. Whether he died from disease (which was a big problem) or from wounds suffered in battle I don't know.He his buried in the Fredericksburg Cemetery. Another ancestor served in the Rev War and died at Valley Forge-he is a distant cousin.

The ones I did find were direct relatives-

Albert Batchelder-Gx2 grandfather-served as a PVT in Company C,NH 6th regiment,NH Volunteers, and was promoted to First Sgt. He fought in various battles in the Civil War,such as Fredericksburg,and 2nd Bull Run. 

Nathaniel West,Jr- Gx2 grandfather-served in Co I,11th Regiment,NH Volunteers in the Civil War. 

John Batchelder-Gx6 grandfather-served in the Rev War  as Pvt under Capt Moses Levitt's Co,Col Nicols Reg.He also served under Capt Clifford's Co as well as Capt Kenny Elkins.

Caleb Shaw-Gx5 grandfather-served in the Rev War as Pvt in the 2nd NH Regiment under Col Poor and fought in Trenton,Princeton,Saratoga,Monmouth,and Yorktown.

Josiah Batchelder-Gx5 grandfather-served in the Rev War

John Weare Shaw-Gx4 grandfather-War of 1812

I told Rick he should join the Sons of the American Revolution! He's got the street cred for it :)

Have a fabulous day on this Fabulous Planet!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Touch O' Snow

Last night was the coldest night so far this season. Up in the Great North Woods it went down to the single digits and below zero in some areas. Here it went down into the teens. This AM I woke up and it was lightly freezing rain/snowing.

Kings Highway looks like a white ribbon!

Three hours later,it's still snowing. The snow blows all over the road in a big cloud when vehicles go by. However,it's not going to last.Tomorrow is going to in the 50's,which will be great weather for marching in the Rochester Christmas parade.

I was hoping to get my mudroom done this year,but that is not going to happen. That's fine.It will be the first project of Spring. The pool is covered.Our septic tank is sealed,and the chickens have a light in their coop.The new chickens have started laying,on a fairly regular basis. The extension cord runs from our bedroom window to the garage,through the garage window,and into the coop where the light is plugged into it. Rick forgot that the light was on the other end of the extension cord and unplugged it in order to use it for something else,and no one noticed for about a week (the light only comes on when the sun starts to go behind the red pine trees,which is about 3:00 PM. We gather our eggs before it comes on).The chickens got mighty confused and stopped laying. I felt so bad for my Grappone Man. Grappone Man is an older gentlemen who drives a Grappone Ford truck and buys eggs from me. He stops by every other week. Well, it had been a while since I had any extra to sell,and I felt so bad for him that I gave him four eggs. It was all I had. A couple of days ago,I had just gathered eggs,got them cleaned off and put in the carton when he showed up. I had 6 in total,so I sold them for $1.00 ( I sell my eggs at $2.00/DZ).He was pleased. We have been getting eggs daily for the last few days,so I hope that continues. It kills me to have to buy eggs!!!

Soon I will have to go out into the woods and gather my greenery for decorations. And I really need to puree the rest of my sugar pumpkins.

Have a fabulous day on this Fabulous Planet!!!