Caring for Indoor Plants in Winter

Plants grown inside, whether they always live indoors or you bring them in to winter over require certain things to remain healthy and green.

Essentials for Healthy Plants

Light – Place your plants in a sunny, preferably south facing window. Even plants that can’t take direct sun will enjoy the winter light from the south. You might want to put these plants out of direct sun, but still in the light. Keep leaves free of dust so they can absorb the light better.

Water – Plants that live indoors need watering less often.  Plants will take up the available water differently, so it’s important to have a water meter to determine when the plants are dry. More houseplants are killed by overwatering than underwatering.

For the first few weeks, measure the water for each plant and make note of how long that much water lasts. Note the date you water and how much, then let your meter tell you when you need to water again. If it is too short a time between waterings, you can try increasing the amount of water until you have a set schedule of 1-3 times a week. You can group plants that need similar water together so you know that those plants all need 1 cup of water or whatever your ideal amount of water is.

Temperature – Most plants will cut back on growth in temperatures below 65 degrees, especially if they are tropical plants. Other plants that you may have brought indoors may be more hardy and can withstand temperatures down to 55 degrees.

Repotting – If some of your plants have outgrown their pots, for example they look crowded, or roots are growing out of the bottom of the pot, you may need to prune them a little and repot them. Succulents don’t usually need repotting. Woody plants can go dormant in winter months and that is a good time to repot them to be ready for new growth in the spring. Use a quality soilless potting mix.

Keeping plants indoors can purify the air in your home; and some plants even remove formaldahyde and other toxic chemicals. Some plants to try are Boston Fern, palms, rubber plants, English Ivy, peace lily, golden pothos, Sansaveria (mother-in-law tongue).

History of Thanksgiving

While most of us think of the first Thanksgiving as the one celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621, at Plymouth, Massachusetts, giving thanks for the “fruits of their labor” at harvest time was practiced well before then. It was pretty common to set a day aside for giving thanks to God in England and other parts of Europe around the time the Pilgrims came to America in 1620.

Routine celebrations in America were held in what was known as the Commonwealth of Virginia as early as 1607. Ships bringing supplies from England were essential to survival and the early settlers gave thanks on the day the ships arrived.

The Native Americans, led by Squanto, a Patuxet Native American who lived with the Wampanoag tribe, taught the Pilgrims how to catch eel and grow corn and served as an interpreter for them. Squanto had previously been enslaved in England where he learned their language. The Wampanoag leader Massasoit gave food to the colonists during the first winter when supplies brought from England were insufficient.

A celebration of their first successful growing season was held at Plymouth Plantation in 1621.  The celebration lasted three days and included 53 pilgrims from the Mayflower (all that was left of the original 100) and 90 Native Americans. The feast included deer, flint corn, cod, bass, and various types of fowl and other dishes which the Native Americans and the Pilgrims contributed. As more colonies were established in the new world, they each celebrated their Thanksgiving at different times.

Sarah Joelspha Hale, the author of “Mary Had a Little Lamb”, campaigned for 20 years to make Thanksgiving a holiday of the nation, and in 1863, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November. Over the next few years, this date changed several times until October 6, 1941, Congress declared the fourth day in November, beginning in 1942, to be the official day to celebrate Thanksgiving.

For more fascinating information about this beloved holiday, visit


Timeline for Thanksgiving Week

Four Days Ahead – as appropriate, begin defrosting the frozen turkey in the refrigerator. Start making extra ice cubes and store them in the freezer. Do major housecleaning and organizing. Check with guests who are bringing food to see if they need oven space. Organize containers, bags, and wraps for leftovers. Fill salt and pepper shakers and butter dishes.

Two Days Ahead – Shop for perishable items. Clean, rinse, and chop all the vegetables. Put them in plastic bags labeled for each dish. Organize non-perishable ingredients for each dish on the counter with the recipe and the serving dish you plan to use. Set out bread or bake cornbread for stuffing. Complete light housekeeping.

One Day Ahead – Peel potatoes, place in a pot of cold water and keep in the refrigerator. Make all dishes and desserts that can be prepared ahead. Set up a drink and dessert station. Stock with flatware, sugar and creamer, cups and saucers.

Thanksgiving Day – Prepare stuffing for the turkey (if you’re stuffing the turkey) and prep the turkey with your favorite recipe.  Place the turkey in the oven.  Just before the turkey is done, begin cooking fresh vegetables and get any other dishes ready that need to bake.

Remove the turkey from the oven and put a foil tent over it to rest. Put the side dish of stuffing and other oven dishes in to cook. Warm whatever needs to be warmed, including mashed potatoes, rolls, soups and casseroles. Make the gravy. When everything is ready, slice the turkey and put all the food on the table.

Sit down and enjoy the feast you’ve created with your friends and family.

Getting Ready for Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving is only a week away and if you are having family and guests, it’s time to start thinking about what you are going to serve.

Guest List

The first order of business is to determine your guest list. How many people have confirmed that they are sharing the day with you? Knowing this will help in preparing enough food for everyone. Are you making all the food or are others bringing dishes?


Perhaps you have the same menu you use every year or you might want to try some new dishes or other versions of the old favorites. Get your menu together and make a list of all the non-perishable items you can buy now so you won’t have a huge basket when you shop for our turkey and vegetables. Be sure to stock up on alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages you’ll need.


Take stock of your roasting pans, serving dishes, pots and pans, utensils and any items you might make this process easier and quicker. Purchase any of these items you don’t have.  Get out the good dishes, glasses, and silverware and get them washed up and shining.  Take the holiday tablecloth out and give it a refresh, after all, it’s probably been sitting in the cupboard for a year.


Plan how you will seat everyone and get out or borrow extra tables and chairs if you need them. Will you put food on the table, or set it up buffet style? Do you need a children’s table? Are there babies or toddlers coming who might need high chairs? Make or purchase your table decorations and napkins. Organize games and movies for the older children.

Make Ahead

Make pies and desserts that can be frozen. You can use chicken stock to make gravy ahead of time and freeze it unless you prefer to make gravy using the turkey stock. Put cranberry sauce in the refrigerator to chill.

Dealing With Fall Leaves

Whether you use a leaf blower, shredder, or rake, it’s time to get the last of the leaves off the lawn, driveway, and sidewalks before the next serious snow fall.

Hand-Held Shredder

The easiest way to deal with leaves is to suck them into a hand-held shredder just like a vacuum cleaner, but this vacuum shreds up the leaves into small pieces and deposits them into a bag or bin.

Freestanding Shredder

You could use a freestanding shredder that just needs to have the leaves raked up and deposited into the mouth of the shredder. This handy machine shreds the leaves and deposits them in a bin.


If you are forced to rake the leaves, get a large tarp and rake the leaves onto the tarp. Then lift the corners of the tarp, form a funnel shape and slide those leaves into the free-standing shredder or fill yard waste bags for the sanitation trucks to haul away.

Ignore Them

Of course, you could just ignore them, but beware that a thick layer of whole leaves left on your lawn blocks sunlight from the grass and traps moisture in the turf increasing the potential for nasty diseases. It’s better to get them off your lawn before they get too wet and heavy.

Compost Them

There is another option, however. You can pile the shredded leaves in a pile at the back of your property, keep them moist when there isn’t much rain or snow, and in the spring, you will have beautiful, rich, compost for your lawn, flower beds, or gardens.

Use Them as Mulch

Shredded leaves serve another purpose as mulch.  Spreading a couple inches of shredded leaves on flower beds and garden spaces will help keep the soil protected from the cold and deter weed seeds from taking hold in your beds.

Mow Them

Your mulching mower may be the easiest way to take care of leaves on the lawn since it cuts up the leaves as it passes over them and shoots them out to the side. Shredded leaves add nourishing carbon to the soil, but be sure the leaves are dry before you mow over them.

Burn Them

Last, but not least, if you have an area where you are allowed to burn, you can pile up all the leaves and fallen sticks and have yourself a great bonfire.

Making Krumkake Cookies

Whether or not you have Norwegian or Scandinavian ancestry, if you’ve ever tasted the cookie treat called krumkake, you probably look forward to enjoying some of this delicate, sweet, treat during the holidays. This cone-shaped cookie is filled with any number of possible fillings.

Krumkake is fairly simple to make, but you need some special kitchen equipment. An electric Krumkake iron looks like a waffle iron, but cooks the shells with a design in the cookie shell. It is then folded around a cone-shaped wooden peg to form a cone. Once the cookie cools into a crisp cone it is then filled with your favorite filling, such as custard, whipped creme, chocolate, ice cream, or other sweets.

A non-electric hand-held krumkake iron is also a possibility if you’d prefer to do it the old- fashioned way. The iron has two small round metal plates with the designs imprinted into them. They are hinged together on a handle, and you place the iron on a burner to heat it up, add the batter, close the plates and continue to heat until the cookie is done. Remove it from the iron and roll it on the peg into a cone shape. Once cool and crisp, remove from peg and fill with favorite filling.

Here is a recipe for you to try:


1 cup sugar

4 eggs

9 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 tsp. ground cardamom

1⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1⁄2 cups flour

2 tbsp. baking powder

Sweetened whipped cream or desired filling

Confectioners’ sugar, to garnish


In a bowl, whisk together sugar and eggs. Whisk in 8 tbsp. butter, cardamom, and vanilla. Sift flour and baking powder into batter; whisk. Heat a krumkake maker; brush with remaining butter. Add 1 heaping tbsp. batter to each mold. Close cover; cook until wafers are golden, 45–60 seconds. Wrap 1 wafer around a krumkake cone; let harden. Remove from cone; repeat. Repeat with remaining batter. Let cool. Pipe cream into krumkakes; dust with sugar.

Makes about two dozen.

Recipe courtesy of

Pictures from


History of Kitchen Aid Mixers

KitchenAid is an American home appliance brand owned by Whirlpool Corporation. The company was started in 1919 by The Hobart Corporation to produce stand mixers; the “H-5” was the first model introduced. The company faced stiff competition as rivals moved into this emerging market, and introduced its trademarked silhouette in the 1930s with the model “K”, the work of designer Egmont Arens. The brand’s stand mixers have changed little in design since, and attachments from the model “K” onwards are compatible with the modern machines

The first machine to carry the KitchenAid name was the ten-quart C-10 model, introduced in 1918 and built at Hobart’s Troy Metal Products subsidiary in Springfield, Ohio.[2] Prototype models were given to the wives of factory executives, and the product was named when one stated “I don’t care what you call it, but I know it’s the best kitchen aid I’ve ever had!” They were initially marketed to the farmhouse kitchen and were available in hardware stores.[3] But owing to the difficulty in convincing retailers to take up the product, the company recruited a mostly female sales force, which sold the mixers door-to-door.[1] The C-10 machine was also marketed heavily toward soda fountains and small commercial kitchens, and was also sold under the FountainAid and BakersAid model names.[4

In 1922, KitchenAid introduced the H-5 mixer as its new home-use offering.[5] The H-5 mixer was smaller and lighter than the C-10, and had a more manageable five-quart bowl. The model “G” mixer, about half the weight of the “H-5” was released in August 1928.[6] In the 1920s, several other companies introduced similar mixers, and the Sunbeam Mixmaster became the most popular among consumers until the 1950s.[7]

KitchenAid mixers remained popular, and in the late 1930s, the factory would completely sell out its products each Christmas. The factory was closed for the duration of World War II. After the war, production started up again in 1946 when the factory moved to Greenville, Ohio, to expand capacity.[1]

KitchenAid began manufacturing blenders and other small appliances in the mid-1990s. The brand was further promoted by sponsoring the PBS show Home Cooking, and by introducing the mixers to television chefs such as Julia Child and Martha Stewart.

 This article is presented in its condensed form. The full article and references can be seen at


Do You Have a Snowblower?

Having snow removal equipment to clear your sidewalks and driveway comes in handy with the heavy snows we get here in Montana. There are different kinds of equipment to choose based on how much snow you need to clear.

Snow Blowers

Single-Stage Snow Blowers

 Single-stage snow blowers are lightweight and capable of handling up to 8 inches of snow. Technically not self-propelled, the auger turns the wheels with its rotating action as it lifts the snow and sends it out the chute. The single-stage snow blower uses a single high-speed impeller ( curved paddles that move snow into the centerline of the machine near the discharge chute) that throws the snow into the discharge chute.

Two-Stage Snow Blowers

 Two-stage snow blowers are recommended for heavy, dense snow, or more than a foot.   The two-stage has an auger that breaks up the snow first, then it moves to the impeller and is blown out through the discharge chute.

Power Snow Shovel

If you need to clear short sidewalks and driveways, decks or steps and don’t want to invest in a larger snow blower, there are power shovels that do a decent job of clearing the snow. Most are only 12 inches wide, and have powerful blowers that can move up to 300 lbs of snow per minute and deposit it up to 20 ft. away. A telescoping handle allows for adjustments in height.


One advantage of using a snow blower or power shovel is that it is much easier than shoveling snow by hand. Statistics show that many heart attacks happen when shoveling snow by hand. The exertion and cold contribute to the distress.  Most snow blowers are self-propelled so you don’t have to push them and they do a better, quicker job of clearing snow than a shovel. Snow is blown several feet away from your sidewalk or driveway leaving clean, mostly dry surfaces.