Posted in Homesteading

Winter is trouncing us…

Well, here in the tundra, we’ve been experiencing some of Winter’s opening act. She started off mild and then flipped her switch into Canadian. Here at the Brookes homestead, we are excited to report the 6+” of snow from Sunday’s storm are sticking around real nice. This could be why…

Uhhh, I think I’ll stay in Saturday…

With temps hovering in the single digits all day, our snow should be around for a good while. Minnesota tends to accumulate snow in December that has no chance of melting til the Spring. Usually, the snow trumps my whining about the bitter cold. But this year, all I want to do is this…


And I’ve got extra reasons to hibernate, as I am now experiencing two different types of cold…

Cepacol and Throat Coat vs. Winter.

I still think the snow is beautiful…


But maybe I’ll just enjoy it from inside buildings and cars, cause…


Posted in Crafty madness!


Last week, my friend Ann and I went to a wreath making class at the Northeast MPLS Mother Earth Gardens. I’m a newbie at floral arranging and crafting with foliage, so this class was AWESOME. At the end, I had sap covered hands that smelled of Christmas trees and a beautiful, tailored-to-my-style wreath. I will absolutely do everything in my power to make this a new Christmas tradition. Playing with branches is fun!!!

One thing I dislike about most options in ready-made wreaths is gaudiness. I like subtle green-on-green & was really pleased with how my concept was executed!


It’s actually quite time consuming to wire in all the posies, and I had 6 different sections! Super worth it as I love how it turned out!


Ann’s choice of pine cones and the huge green leaves looks awesome. So glad we went to this class together!


The wreath in all its glory on our front door. Welcome Christmas every day!
Posted in Media Mondays

A Chanticleer Christmas

Dudes, run out to your local cd emporium and grab you a copy of A Chanticleer Christmas. I snagged my used copy at Half Price Books and have been absorbing the gentle waves of a cappella goodness ever since. Their version of Vom Himmel Hoch alone is worth buying the entire cd.

As I sat embroidering secret Christmas projects, I found my skin prickled with goosebumps. Something about choral music can do that, and Chanticleer gets their voices so pure it can sounds like one person is singing sometimes instead of the 12 men. I actually said aloud to my cats as the song finished, “wow, that was beautiful.”

Unfortunately, there are no stinkin’ videos on YouTube of their rendition of Vom Himmel Hoch, or of the album in its entirety. So, I’ll just leave you with this teaser of quiet peace and eeriely fantastic vocals from a different album of theirs…


Hauntingly good version of “In the Bleak Midwinter”

Posted in Things I'm reading, Thoughts

The Children’s Blizzard

Every so often, I get an itch to read a true story that only a good historical non-fiction book can scratch. As I was pricing at work last week, this title crossed my path. The front cover reads “In three minutes the front subtracted eighteen degrees from the air’s temperature. Then evening gathered in, and temperatures kept dropping in the northwest gale. By morning on Friday, January 13, 1888, more than a hundred children lay dead on the Dakota-Nebraska prairie…”

For some reason, this book about a horrible natural disaster over 100 years ago drew me in. I devoured it in 3 days, learning all kinds of facts about frostbite and gangrene and historical meteorology. But what held my interest were the individual stories of families: teachers taking refuge in hay with children, brothers going out into the storm to find brothers, survivors, widows, mothers who lost children. A storm like that is imprinted on a family history.

Something in me wonders what it would be like to settle on the unforgiving prairie, and simultaneously, I am glad I can read about it from the comfort of 2016. And I’m intrigued at what it would feel like to go outside in the morning with the weather a balmy 20 degrees to have it drop to -40 later in the evening. We are so removed from what that would mean in our modern society with our heaters and electricity and urban condensing. In 1888, trains couldn’t move through snow, schoolhouse doors and roofs blew away and homesteaders miles away from their neighbors fed stoves with twisted straw to keep warm.

It seemed appropriate somehow to read about a crippling blizzard as Minnesota moves into a winter that is forecasted to bring us lots of snow. (We can only hope!) Reading about a blizzard when you could have one at any moment is much more engaging. 🙂

So, if you’re feeling the pull for historical narrative, or are curious, grab a warm cup of tea and a blanket while you check out The Children’s Blizzard by David Laskin.