Now, in northern Minnesota, Christmas time generally results in snow, cold, and more snow. How weird it was to have 41° F ABOVE zero with a thunderstorm last night? We could hardly believe it. Then real early this morning, the temperature suddenly dropped, and it started to snow and blow hard. Well, it snowed most of the day, but we really didn’t care. There’s lots of firewood and I’d spent the night throwing up, so I was in no mood to exercise, other than crawling out to do chores early. It seems I caught Will’s bug, which he cheerfully passed on to me. Later in the day, Will pointed out the window and I peeked out to see a Ruffed Grouse in a spruce tree, next to our backyard fence, eating buds like mad. I didn’t get a good picture, but I managed a couple so-so ones. But we were tickled to see him enjoying himself, despite the blowing snow. I poured out some more sunflowers onto our shelf bird feeder right outside the window and when I opened the window to do so, Chickadees immediately started flocking around, knowing treats were coming. They’re so cute!

Not the best photo, but here’s our visiting grouse.
Here’s the first Chickadee, waiting for a hand-out.

I just received a big, early Christmas present from Will. Our old snowblower had seized up a few years ago and we hadn’t replaced it. I really missed it a lot as I used it to run paths to the barns, chicken coop, and goat pasture (where Ava’s pony, Whinny, is living now). I’d been shoveling the snow, and boy that got old! Will came home from town with a brand new, Cub Cadet snowblower in the back of his truck! I was sick but not too sick to go out and watch him blow some snow! Wow, I’m so tickled. (Who needs jewelry and perfume?) Making daily chores easier is a huge thing. Thank you Will!

I was sure surprised to receive this early Christmas present! It will make chores much easier for me.

A good friend gifted me several pounds of walnut halves recently, so I managed to get them canned up this afternoon. After all, it only takes a few minutes; dry packing hot nuts in pint or half pint jars, putting on previously simmered but quickly dried lids and screwing the band down a bit. They are only processed at 5 pounds pressure for 10 minutes, so it wasn’t a big chore to get them done. Now I have a whole bunch of English Walnut halves that will stay good for decades, ready to use as I need them. Thank you so much Karla!

Here’s the batch of canned walnut halves I managed today, even though sick.

— Jackie


  1. First off, I hope you’re over your bug – my husband and I pass things like that back and forth. It’s no fun.
    Before we were married he asked me at Christmas time if I wanted an engagement ring or a hunting rifle. Well, my mama didn’t raise no fool…I said a ring. Why? Because by March he gave me a rifle (as I knew he would) and we got married in May.
    Lastly, because of buying your gardening & canning book, I used nuts in my Christmas goodies that I canned a long time ago. It’s a relief to not have to pay today’s prices!
    Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    • And Merry Christmas to you too!! I have to laugh about the ring and the rifle; such a choice. But you’re right; a guy will always get you the rifle so you can hunt with him. (Or instead of him!!!)
      Aren’t canned nuts the best? I’ve got pecans my friend, Juanita and I canned up in New Mexico 25 years ago that are perfect.

    • Yep, I feel a whole lot better and I’d better, ’cause it’s Christmas cookie baking time at our house!! Merry Christmas!

  2. I’m later getting on here than I planned to but hope your feeling lots better now, Jackie.
    The snow is beautiful but a real pain shoveling. It’s absolutely wonderful Will got that snow blower. The best gift and practical things like a snow blower are the best!
    Your birds are all happy as can be and know you always provide them food. It’s a joy to watch them nibble on their food. I put up another feeder close to another window and of course the cats think I put it there to entertain them with the birds eating lol
    Those walnuts are a delightful gift and will definitely last years to come.
    It’s been rollercoaster weather here too. On Wednesday 70 degrees and then winds all night up to 70 miles an hour.
    You got all the snow but so far we haven’t got anymore. In time we’ll see if we have any. Would be nice to have some to enjoy and even plow out
    I hope your having a wonderful Sunday and enjoy your day!

    • Yep, I am feeling much better. And I sure was tickled to get that snow blower!! It even matches my Cub Cadet riding lawn mower/ atv. (Well, okay, I do use it like an atv!!)

  3. Hope you get rid of that bug soonest, certainly by Christmas.

    That’s wonderful news about the snow blower. It’s worth it’s weight in gold! Jewelry, perfume and other foo foo unhandy items will always take a back seat here to good tools and items that make life easier.

    Merry Christmas!

    • Amen, Chris!! Yep, I got rid of the bug and will soon be snow blowing like a champ!! I can hardly wait. I do love my tools. Smelling nice is great but working less is much better. Merry Christmas!

  4. What a great gift! That snowblower will be way more useful than any jewelry! I always like to get gifts I can use. They make life so much easier. Hope you feel better soon. Dad and I had a round of that a few weeks ago and it was no fun. Our weather has been weird too. Record warm with terrific wind then down to the 30’s for highs.

    • Real strange weather but I’m sure glad I don’t live in the path of that killer tornado through the midwest! Wow. We’re barely making above zero these days with a strong wind that cuts right through you. Brrr!

  5. For our 50 th anniversary my husband wanted to buy me a diamond ring.I thanked him,then ask if I could get a new pressure canner instead.He was a little surprised then said ok. my friends thought I was crazy.I was happy.

    • There you go girl!!! Sure, rings are nice but something that makes daily life more enjoyable sure trumps that. I’m glad your husband was agreeable!! And I’ll bet he’s enjoying all the great food you got canned up too!

  6. What a man! Anyone who would bring home a snow blower instead of jewelry is my kind of person!! Wonderful! So very sorry you have been ill and i hope it passes quickly. Take care of yourself and rest… ha ha ha…as if. Merry Christmas

    • Merry Christmas, Pyro!! I sure appreciate Will, that’s a fact! I’m over the bug and back at it again; tomorrow is the big Christmas cookie day. Hooray!!

    • Maybe we’ve gotten a little more sense by then? When we’re young, folks try to condition us to expect expensive foo foo gifts like jewelry and tickets to the Bahamas. When we’re older, we truly appreciate gifts that make our life easier and more fun. Merry Christmas Robin!

  7. Will is such a romantic, just like my sweet husband. My Christmas present is a brand new 1000 gallon septic tank for our home. Seriously.

    Merry Christmas & get well!

  8. Sounds like us hear in CT, Yesterday it was 62 out and today sleet, snow, and mainly rain all in 24hrs. I’m with you who cares about jewelry and perfume, anything to do with homesteading wins. Merry Christmas!

  9. Wow, a husband like Will and a friend like Karla. Who could ask for anything more. You are so blessed (though you are sick,sorry) merry Christmas . Love you guys.

    • And you can bet I’m truly grateful for all my blessings. I am over the bug and it wasn’t that bad; could sure have been worse! Merry Christmas to you!!

  10. Crazy weather indeed We still don’t have any moisture and I think it makes something like seven months now It’s gotten so bad we have had to put out troughs of water for the pheasants and other birds. They have been coming right up to the house and drinking out of the dogs waterer

    • Wow. Sorry you’re still in drought. We’ve crept out of it with our snowfall this winter. You have a great Christmas, despite your challenges right now. And keep watering the wildlife!

  11. Hope you get better soon-yet even when not at your peppiest you are busy doing something.
    Tis good to have a man that knows what a lady wants. Hope he got a big hug. We had a Stihl chainsaw that I had the hardest time starting. At Christmas my husband got me the one with an easier starting mechanism. Now we both have our own and can do double duty clearing trees, what fun and what a guy. Didn’t know you can do that with nuts- peanuts and almonds, too?

    • I kind of crept around for a couple of days but am slowly pulling out of the bug. It IS great to have a husband who knows what a lady really wants. Yep, the hug was delivered with enthusiasm.
      I got a battery powered chainsaw so I don’t have to pull the starting rope. Works great and is lighter than our gas saws. Love it!!!
      Yes, you can can up any nuts; just toast them on a cookie sheet and put hot into hot jars and put a previously simmered, quickly dried lid on and process at 5 pounds for 10 minutes. Perfect!!

  12. Here in the Twin Cities there was a very weird feeling in the air before the storm broke, but all we got was some heavy rain.

    A “Yooper scooper” (big flat-bottomed metal scoop with a handle for pushing it without stooping) is a good backup for a snowblower. Much easier on the back than shoveling.

  13. We broke our old record by over 10 degrees. Yes I was alive (and remember) the previous record but honest to Pete – almost 70 degrees mid-December? Didn’t last long thankfully (nor the winds gusting 60 mph!!).
    Wildlife knows when we put out food. I do so enjoy watching birds and squirrels happily enjoying corn, seed and suet. No turkeys yet but ground isn’t covered by snow. They’ll be here sooner than later and plenty for them too.
    “New” cat had a good meal last night, didn’t see him (or *maybe* her) tonight. But s/he has visited other cat loving friend nearby. We keep in touch re: felines.
    Practical gifts are the best. Frankly when it comes jewelry (rings!), I’d rather choose my own. I’d not refuse a piece of jewelry but unless purchased for a good cause (fund raising auction), money could have been spent on a more practical purchase.
    How are the gatos de Clay-Atkinson doing these days?

    • Our gatos are doing fine but they still duke it out on occasion. No blood yet, though, so we hope they’ll eventually tolerate each other. So you had the weird weather too, huh? The warmth was nice….kind of…but we were waiting for the next shoe to drop. And drop, it did! We’re around zero these days, still with a 40 mph wind. Brrr. Good luck with your “new” cat in the neighborhood. I’m so glad folks are feeding him/her instead of shooting him/her!!!

  14. Our weather here in California is weird also. I usually use my vacuum sealer to seal nuts in jars, but not sure if that would last for decades.

    • I have a friend who does that but after a few years, the nuts end up going stale/rancid. My canned nuts last for decades for sure! Merry Christmas!!

  15. I love the thoughtful gift you received, and I’m sure you will get so much enjoyment out of it. Some of the best gifts are the odd ones, that really means the giver knew you. One Christmas I got a log chain and a bright red tool box and was over the moon. LOL.

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