Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Walkin' in a Winter Wonderland

December days are flying by! Our days are a blur of wrapping...both Christmas gifts and merchandise for our business...trips to the post office, quick runs to the grocery store, and plenty of together time in the evening, honing our board game skills. The cold weather makes our candlelit suppers especially cozy.

Last night, a quick two inches of snow fell. There's nothing better than a walk in fresh snow, so I could barely wait for morning to come.

The morning was overcast and hazy, but not too cold. Perfect walking weather.

I love how the snow rests on these trees. They soften the starkness of the bare branches.

The snow clumps up on pines...

...and makes a very chilly hat for this dried zinnia plant.

A tribute to Civil War soldier Henry Ware Lawton looks especially austere.

Not all is muted, though. These red berries positively pop against the white of the snow.

When we relocate and eventually reach our final resting place (geographically, not spiritually!), I definitely want berry-producing trees. They are so beautiful in the winter, and they provide food for local wildlife as well.

A few sweet gum seed pods cling stubbornly to their branches.

A solitary leaf in the snow provides a little splash of orange.

This tree, with its serpentine branches, still has many cheerful leaves.

The stream is not completely frozen over, which is good. Now birds, foxes, and other little creatures have a place to drink.

The squirrels are staying warm, tucked away in their dreys.

This hive, regrettably, most likely does not contain live bees. Bees are fastidious creatures and do not relieve themselves inside. They take what is known as "cleansing flights" to release outdoors, around the hive. The snow around this hive has stayed white. The entrance to the other hive is completely covered in snow, which can be a bad sign. Heat from the hive usually melts this snow. Hopefully this beekeeper will bring a new colony here in the spring!

When it's cold and snowy or rainy outside and warm and cozy inside, it's the perfect time for knitting. For me, all other knitting projects have fallen to the wayside as I slave over my sock yarn blanket. I now have 37 squares and am greatly enjoying adding to it daily.

It's almost long enough to stretch across our bed, but I've started adding the second level anyway. I'll eventually increase the length. That's the great thing about this blanket...fun colors, an easily-memorizable pattern, and lots of leeway with construction...if you get tired of building out, build up.

This blanket is going to go on our bed, eventually, but SOMEONE seems to have a different idea!

Now that I've introduced a cute kitten photo, allow me to continue with more gratuitous cute kitten shots:

And one more:

There! Now I can turn my attention to the kitchen. I've been doing a lot of baking lately. Just today I made some spicy jalapeno whole wheat scones from scratch, along with steaming baked spaghetti squash with black beans, cheese, spices, and tomatoes, followed by some vanilla brownies with lots of crystallized ginger.

But what I made last week...and what I want to make again, and again, and again: mini pumpkin cheesecakes. These are sweet, spicy, light, and creamy, and the perfect size for a quick snack.

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes
Adapted from Simply Decorated
and a food blog, but I forgot to write down which one

1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar

1 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
12 ounces of reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Mix the crumbs, melted butter, sugar, and cinnamon together. Spoon into greased muffin tins and press firmly.

Bake for 8 - 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven and set aside. Reduce the temperature of your oven to 300 degrees.

Next, beat cream cheese and sugar together until fully incorporated. Add your eggs one at a time, beating in the vanilla after the second egg.

In a separate bowl, mix the pumpkin puree and the spices. Add to the cream cheese mixture and mix until well combined. Spoon this mixture into your prepared muffin tins. Fill to the top. Bake at 300 degrees for 20 minutes. Cool, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

The tops sink a bit and could definitely benefit from a decorative swirl of whipped cream.

Whipped cream or not, these little morsels are one of my favorite recent discoveries and I plan on making another batch soon!

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas week with lots of time with family and friends. See you next week!


  1. Yummmilicious :) It sounds delicious :)
    Here's my wishes
    for you and your family, at Christmas:

    Have a Happy and Healthy Holiday!

  2. James...I love this entry! Inspires me to bake, walk in the snow and ALMOST to adopt kittens...I'll leave that one to you.
    Indiana looks so lovely through your lens!