Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Eve of a New Year

Well, 2011 is about to draw to a close,and it's been a really good year overall. I have no complaints!

Tonight we are going to have a seafood dinner-lobster,scallops,shrimp and steamers-and it will be our last big blow out for quite a while.Any leftovers will be made into a nice seafood chowder-with potatoes. Apparently the Shaw boys just make a basic chowder. Considering that they grew up in Portsmouth,right on the ocean,you would think they would make a proper chowder! LOL!

We also have a bottle of bubbly,to ring in the New Year.Rick might have a sip,if that. The last few years I have been lucky to make it to midnight-as soon as the countdown is over, I head for bed! That's OK,though,I have enough New Years Eve parties under my belt. :) At this point,I am more than content to have a few drinks at home and not be out on the road with a bunch of drunken revelers!

People are making their resolutions,and I admit that I no longer make resolutions ( or perhaps,I no longer call them resolutions)because I usually give up on them by February (namely regarding my weight). I have,however, been thinking about what I can do to make myself a better person and to create the type of home I want-meaning,a house with feeling. One of my biggest problems is detail.Now, I am all about the big things. I like to make sure those things get done. However,it's the small things that tie everything together that I seem to let fall to the wayside. For example: a year or so ago,we repainted the living room,put up new trim,etc. I never put the pictures back on the walls. They are still on the floor in the bedroom. Why wouldn't I just put them back up? It's simple,and takes no time. Who knows? I just never did. Silly,isn't it? Another example is the kitchen chair cushions. Over  a year ago,two of the cushions had their ties come off. They were here and there in the house,and a couple of months ago I was able to track them down and I put them in a drawer so they would all be together.I actually sewed (well,my definition of sewing) them back on. Sounds pathetic,but to me that was a big accomplishment! So I am determined that this year,all the loose ends in the house will be tied up.Here are a few:

-organizing the attic
-going through the Christmas ornaments...I have many I no longer want and am going to make some projects with the old glass ones
-make my computer corner an area of inspiration with photos and loved items
-finally frame the photos that have been waiting for years to be displayed

There are many more,but I don't want to bore you with the whole list.You will hear about them enough!

I hope you all have wonderful New Year,and that you are all blessed with much happiness!!!!! A toast to 2012! It's going to be fabulous!!!!!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas Abundance

While to me Christmas is about family,I do admit that I received some fabulous gifts. Much thought was put into all of them,and am very grateful for that,because it makes it mean more that way.

The first gift I received was from my Dear Friend Michelle:

Missing from the above photo is a can of Stonewall Kitchen gluten free pancake mix,and bottles of Butter Pecan Syrup and Maine Wild Blueberry Syrup (we used them Christmas morning!).The pouring bowl is gorgeous! There is nothing more annoying than trying to make pancakes and having the batter go all over the place when you pour it,or ladle it,or however you try and do it. I also love the color,it's a great compliment to the kitchen.The two towels are very special. They were made by Carl,an older gentleman in our Garden group.He and his wife Kay have a loom and they make all kinds of wonderful things. Fabulous!!!

Here is the group of the rest of the wonderful gifts I received:

Zach gave me the lovely photo album,the "Concert for George Harrison" DVD,and the hanging tea tin collection. Now I can have different teas for a while,and it looks great in the kitchen. Rick gave me The Tudors DVD set (not pictured) and the lab created ruby ring,earrings,and necklace. Brother B gave me the ear buds for my Kindle, the calculator(he bought a calculator for each of us,since we can never find the one calculator we own),and the dishcloth crocheting book. My Mom gave me money, and my sister Linda gave me the pretty blue green necklace with earrings to match. The necklace is made up of ribbon fabric.I love the color and the fact that it's different! (The I tunes gift card on the printer is Zach's-it was in his stocking).

As you can see, not only was I blessed with the nearness of loved ones,I was blessed by the generosity of family and friends!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Stuffed Mushrooms

I got this recipe off the internet from "Annie's Eats."

                                                  Stuffed Mushrooms

24 whole fresh button mushrooms
2-4 cloves garlic,coarsely chopped
2 tsp.vegetable oil
8 oz cream cheese,softened
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp.pepper
1/4 tsp.onion powder
1/4 tsp.cayenne pepper
Bread crumbs and minced fresh herbs,for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a baking sheet with cooking spray. Clean mushrooms with a damp paper towel.Carefully remove the stems from the mushroom caps,setting the caps aside for later.Add the stems to the bowl of a food processor.Add the garlic to the food processor as well,and pulse in brief bursts until the mushroom stems and garlic are finely chopped.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.Add the chopped mushroom stems and garlic and cook until all the moisture has disappeared,about  5-7 minutes.Lower the heat to medium-low.Stir in the cream cheese,Parmesan cheese and spices.Stir together until the mixture is smooth and creamy;remove from the heat.Using a small spoon,fill each mushroom cap with a generous amount of filling.Arrange the mushroom caps on the prepared baking sheet. Top with bread crumbs,if desired.Bake for 20 minutes or until the mushrooms are hot and liquid starts to from under the caps.Transfer to a serving platter,garnish with fresh herbs if using ans serve immediately.

I pre made the mushrooms,and kept them the fridge until it was time to cook them,and it worked fine. The come out very light,with just a slight kick of cayenne at the end. Everyone loved them-there were none left!


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Another Christmas Gone By......

I hope all of you had a lovely Christmas. We certainly did!

Christmas Eve started with the most beautiful sunrise that I had to go on the deck and take a photo of it:

When your day begins with such a lovely start, how can it go wrong?

As we prepped for Christmas Eve dinner,I had put some greenery aside that I was going to use as part of my table centerpiece.Since we didn't use the wood stove,I placed them on top of it. Smokey found this spot very comfy and curled up in the greens for most of the afternoon:

I used the greens underneath the poinsettia,and surrounded that with votive candles and pine cones:

My stuffed mushrooms were pronounced delicious! I will post the recipe tomorrow:

Sasha even looked rather festive!

My Mom proclaimed my pork pie "the best yet." Since I didn't take a photo of it on Christmas Eve, I took a photo of it last night,when I had leftovers for supper. The only things missing are the stuffed celery and Garden mix pickles:

As you can see, Christmas Eve went very well. My Mom,sister,and brother in law all seemed to have a good time.

Christmas Day was very laid back. We had gluten free pancakes,gluten free bacon,and eggs for breakfast,with Pecan Butter Syrup and Wild Maine Blueberry Syrup (thanks to My Dear Friend Michelle). By 11:00 AM I couldn't keep my eyes open,so I took a little nap.Christmas evening we went to my sister's where we had a delicious supper of Rocky Mountain Brisket, rice,creamy broccoli,and gluten free brownies with ice cream for dessert.It was lovely.

It was a fabulous Christmas. Now...onto New Years!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!!!

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas!! May it be filled with joy,happiness,and the nearness of loved ones!!!

This is how our home looks all lit up at night......

Merry Christmas!!!!!!!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

My Favorite Holiday

Christmas is my favorite holiday. It always has been,even when the youthful excitement of getting gifts faded the older I became. It's the feeling that it invokes in me...contentment,happiness,a certain coziness and love of mankind that seems quite special. I love the decorations,the snow on the trees (which we have,thankfully,due a snowfall that is still falling as I type this),the carols,and being with my loved ones.

I remember each year of what my Dad used to tell me about his Christmases growing up. My Dad was was born in 1914.He was the third child born (my Uncle Albert died at birth,my Uncle Richard lived.My Dad then took the name of Albert,which was also my Pepere's name) to a large family.(My Memere and Pepere Lessard were  French Catholics who,apparently,did not use birth control)When my Aunt Rachel was born at the end of the 1920's,she was the 12th child born to my grandparents (besides Albert,a daughter,Elinore,and a set of twins had passed.When my Memere died of pneumonia in 1929,she was pregnant yet again). My Pepere worked in the mills,and then at the water pumping station.My Memere stayed home,and needless to say,they didn't have much money.

They did,however,have a large extended family on my Memere's side,the Magnans (pronounced Mahn-yah).Though Pepere Lessard's family was not small (about 10 kids),when they made the move from Bartlett NH to Somersworth NH,the older children had their own lives and had already moved on. Memere Lessard had around 9 children in her family,and they all still lived in Somersworth. Christmas was spent at the home of Memere and Pepere Magnan,singing Christmas songs around the family piano. There was lots of good food,too.

My Dad said since they didn't have a lot of money when he was young,they would get perhaps one gift a piece.The tree was a gift for everyone.When the children were asleep,Pepere and Memere Lessard would set up the tree,and when the children came down stairs in the morning,there it would be,in all it's beauty. Part of the excitement was just seeing the tree. My Dad told me,"We didn't have alot of money,so we didn't have much for presents,but we always had a tree and lots of food.And we always went to Memere and Pepere Magnan's where there was more food and singing." My Dad was never mentioned being disappointed about the lack of presents. It was being with the family and having simple treats as pies,cakes,cookies,and pork pies that he always mentioned with great fondness. Christmas was always his favorite holiday,one of the many things he passed down to me.

I remember growing up we always had plenty of gifts,and some of Dad's brothers and sisters would visit on Christmas Eve. Sometimes Mom's brother Dickie or sister Gert and their families would stop in for a visit.That was always fun. We would stay up late,sometimes unwrapping the gifts around 11:30,sometimes waiting until morning. And of course,we would always have our pork pies on Christmas Eve.

I find myself now at 44 being more nostalgic about my Christmases growing up. It helps bring on that wonderful feeling I get. I can see my Dad, now 21 years passed,and all of  my aunts and uncles,who have mostly passed on as well. They are wonderful memories,and I try to incorporated what I feel into the atmosphere in our home. I use lots of candles,pretty decorations,and oil lamps,and I happily admit that I love the vibe it all gives off. I do hope that when Zach is my age,he too will look back at his Christmases with the same type of love and fondness I do -the Christmases where he was completely spoiled,and the one where we had so little money that we could only afford two gifts for him-because,like my Dad told me,it's not about the gifts,it's about family and love.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Kitchen Redo-Walls Painted and Trim Work Begins

I know,it's been a while since I've posted. Our remodel has been chugging along,a bit at a time. Now that Christmas is on our doorstep,the work is grinding to a temporary halt.

The last photos I showed you was of the new insulation in the wall,I believe.Here are how things look now:

Drywall on the ceiling and the wall waiting to be painted:

Last Friday-Sunday,we painted the walls and the ceiling:

Once that was painted,we brought in the new cabinet,which went where the oven once was.You can see the white bead board under the cabinet. We didn't paint it,as the tin back splash is going there. We decided to just leave the bead board on this wall and around the door to the living room.We placed a couple of boards on the cabinet as a temporary counter top:

The fridge looks like it's sticking out into the walk way,but it's just the angle of the photo. Where the butcher block is will be a closet.It will store our coats,etc,until the mud room is weatherproofed,and then it will be used for storage-brooms,ironing board,etc:

Another view of the new cabinet.It makes such a difference. The room actually looks longer with a whole row of bottom cabinets,without the stove stopping the flow:

The finished ceiling.We will be getting new light,and this one will go into the mudroom:

Yesterday,Rick worked on putting the molding back up. He cleaned it all up first. There is a small space in between the ceiling and the molding,since the ceiling is now a tad higher than it was. We are considering using a half round stained the proper color to fill in the little space.I'm not sure why it shows blue in the photo:

After the cabinet molding was put back up,Rick and Brother B started putting up the rest of the old molding. We just decided to keep it,at least for now. You can see it to the left of the photo. The door frame either had to be completely taken down and redone so the new door molding would fit properly,or shaved down.Rick decided to shave it down:

I took this photo before the top was put on the door molding. The ceiling molding is going to ripped,making it smaller so it will fit,because the width of the door molding will not allow it to be put back up in it's current width:

The boys took the window molding down. All the moldings in the kitchen (throughout the house,actually)were just regular boards put up.Now the moldings that we put in the living room will be put throughout the whole house:

The new molding is just temporarily tacked up,for aesthetics.It will have to come back down for when the new counter top is put in.The molding makes the window look so much bigger than those old wide  boards:

The window next to the stove will also have molding "tacked" on so it can be easily removed. The new cabinet still needs to be attached to the other cabinet,and the trim will have to come down for the new counter top,anyway.

Yesterday,while Rick and Brother B were working in the kitchen,I did some little jobs that needed doing for Christmas Eve. I polished my oil lamp chimneys,got old useless wax out of votive candle holders,washed them and put fresh candles in them. I also planned my table centerpiece:my poinsettia on top of greenery,with candles here and there. Monday,I made two pork pies,one for our neighbor,and one for Brother Dale. Our neighbor,Jean,and her husband,Ron,are an older couple who are good folks.Their son and granddaughter live with them.Jean asked me one year to make her a pork pie and it's now our gift to them at Christmas time. It was still hot when I gave it to her son at the bus stop,and an hour later Jean called me and thanked me for the pie.She claimed it was the best I had made so far. It also was appreciated because her other son had knee replacement surgery that day,and she and Ron had spent most of the day at the hospital. Those of you who have been at the hospital for a day know how exhausting it is. This way,neither of them had to cook!!!

Today I am making a pecan pie for Dad (Rick's Dad),which is also an annual tradition.It's his favorite. I am also making Nephew Brody a pumpkin pie from my homemade pumpkin puree. Last year,I didn't have enough puree to make him one,and he has been reminding me ever since :) I made sure that I had enough puree this year.

Friday I am going to make our pork pies for Christmas Eve,so all I have to do is reheat them.I am going to make stuffed mushrooms for an appetizer on Christmas Eve afternoon,though. My Mom,sister Linda,and Linda's hubby Tom will be coming up to spend Christmas Eve with us. When Mom got to the point where Christmas Eve was too much work for her,I gladly took over the tradition of having pork pies at my house.

Happy Hanukkah to my Jewish friends! I hope it's fabulous!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Orange Slice Ornaments

Here is a repost from last year about how I made my orange slice ornaments:

One of the things that was new to me this year was making ornaments from orange slices. I will be doing this again next year.I love the way the look on the tree,they add a lovely primitive look. When a tree light is right behind a slice,it looks like stained glass. Unfortunately,I couldn't capture that on film.

If you would like to try this next year for your tree,here is how I did it. I used an oven.Never having used a food dehydrator before,I wasn't sure what temp or length of time I should use,so I didn't go that route.I didn't want to shrivel the slices,just dry them.However,it does take a good bit of time:5-6 hours,depending on how much juice you can get out of the slices before you put them in the oven. It's a good project for a day when you are doing other things in the house.

Preheat your oven to 170 degrees (this was the lowest temp my oven would allow).Cut oranges into 1/4" slices. Put the slices in between paper towels,and press down on each slice. I had to use several pieces of paper towel,and there was still a good bit of juice in the slices. Do what you can. I burned the paper towels in the wood stove,so there was no trash.

 When you feel the slices are as dry as they are going to get,place them on a baking sheet. As you can see in the photo below,I had two going at once. Leave the oven door ajar. Each hour,turn the slices over so they dry out evenly. When they are ready,you will be able to tell-they will be dry to the touch.

Once the oranges are dried,I cooled them down on a plate,then took ornament hooks and pushed the hooks through the slices,right below the white part of the rind.
Voila! Orange slice ornaments! They will have no scent,but once Christmas is over you can make a pretty potpourri with cinnamon sticks,whole cloves,and the orange slices.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Rick Update-Meds Change Up

Those of you who have been following this blog for a long time know that I started it about Rick and our family's journey with his PTSD and TBI from Iraq,with a bit of other things thrown in.Over time,the main focus of the blog changed,as Rick's issues leveled off.

Today is mostly a Rick update.His knees are doing great.Of course, there are things that he can never do again-jump from a few feet,jog,kneel down without proper knee padding,etc. However, he can walk without pain,and that is the main thing.

One problem that Rick has had is his weight (me too,but that's for different reasons!). He has a few things against him :Celiac's Disease can make your stomach bloat; his pituitary gland was messed up when he received his brain injury,so his thyroid is quite slow(he is on meds) and he body has almost no testosterone anymore,which all help with weight loss (he is now on testosterone shots,which he gives himself every two weeks);and he is on Seroquil (mood inhibitor and antidepressant)which can cause weight gain and possibly diabetes. The second problem is that Rick's blood sugar is high,just below diabetic. Besides the Seroquil being against him in this respect,his mother was also a diabetic. Rick has been on Seroquil now for about four years. It took a while to find the right medication to help,and it was frustrating during the process. However, we understood that the VA was not going to just put him on some heavy duty stuff to start,if something less would work. We didn't want him over medicated,nor did the VA. Finally,the Seroquil was tried,and it seemed to work,so the question then was the dosage per day. He takes 675 mgs a day.

Since his blood sugar is so high,Rick and I began discussing trying another medication.We have batted the idea around in the past,but Rick has always been concerned about trying something else,because the Seroquil works so well,and he was worried about "becoming an asshole again." However,being mindful of his family's history,we figured we would give it try. We made an appt with  Dr Hunt,Rick's meds Dr. She suggested Depakote,which is still a mood inhibitor/anti depressant,but it does not have the same side effects as Seroquil does. The only bad thing is they will have to monitor his liver or his kidneys while he is on it. I guess if it's not one thing,it's another when you are dealing with medications.

Yesterday was his first day on the Depakote. He has to take a certain amount for one week,including his regular Seroquil doses.Next week,he ups his Depakote,keeping his Seroquil doses,then the third week,he again ups the Depakote,but starts reducing the Seroquil,and so it goes until he is off the Seroquil completely. This will be a smoother transition than gradually weaning off the Seroquil,then starting up with the Depakote,which will take at least two weeks to get into his system and work effectively. He felt sick yesterday,we think from the new med,so he was not able to work in the kitchen.He spent a good portion of the day in bed,sleeping. While the medication helps with depression and anger,he still gets nightmares,and can get flashbacks,especially when a helicopter flies overhead.He is also still hyper vigilant,though not as bad as he was before he was on the meds. He will have to deal with these issues indefinitely,but he has learned some tools to help when these issues arise so they aren't quite as bad as they could be. Having a dialogue in his head is one,recognizing what he is feeling and why,and how he is not in danger like he was in Iraq.

It was such a lovely day I went to the end of the road and gathered my greens for the window boxes and the wagon out front. I am so very far behind this year,normally everything would be done by now. Since the kitchen was free,I was able to make my orange slice ornaments for the tree. It takes a while,since the oven has to be at low temp. Brother B brought our tree in,so today it will be decorated. Apparently my wreaths,which were in a garbage bag to protect them from dust in the garage,got accidentally thrown out,so I need to buy three  wreaths today.I also need to pick up some money cards.I need to do my Christmas cards as well.

Have a fabulous day on this fabulous Planet,where ever you might be!!!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Kitchen Redo-Appliances Arrive!

This past weekend was fairly busy. Friday evening,Rick and I went to the premiere of "Besting The Bullies",a movie starring Zach and some of his fellow students. They helped write it,and the cameraman,Mr. Chagnon,runs the Farmington local access channel.It's part of an Enrichment program that they have at school.The premise is art students are being bullied by a fellow classmate,and he winds up stealing their field trip money.He will only give it back if the art students beat his basketball team in a game.The art students practice hard,and the game is close,but they wind up losing.However,the bully sees the error of his ways,and he gives them the money back in the end.

While we were at the premiere, our neighbor Kelly came over and helped install our new water heater. He had to put in a 240 outlet. We now have hotter water than we ever had before,and our electric meter is not spinning like a whirling dervish. I am curious to see how our low our electric bill goes.

Saturday I started putting out my Christmas decorations in the living room. (the photos on the main page of the blog are from last year). Rick sanded the ceiling.He looked like one of those Snow Cap candies,he was so covered with dust. I took a photo of him vacuuming the dust off the ceiling:

He and Brother B also took down the old dry wall from the wall where the stove is going. Kelly came over yet again,and moved the  stove outlet to the proper wall. They didn't have the right size wiring at our local hardware store,so Rick and Zach made a trek down to Rochester to Home Depot. While they were there,they also picked up the dry wall for this space. It took them a while,so by the time Kelly moved the outlet,it was too late to do anything else but put in the new insulation.
                          Photo of the old insulation:

                      Photo of the new insulation:

Sunday morning we went to pick Zach up at his friend Jake's house. He spent the night and practiced for the talent show at school. Zach is playing electric guitar and I believe Jake is going to play keyboard.They are going to sing/play "Beth," by KISS. After we picked him up,we went to Torr's Tree Farm and got our Christmas tree. I then went down to my Mom's for her 86th birthday lunch. My sister Linda and I started a new tradition last year-take Mom out to lunch,then go to Wentworth's Greenhouse to buy our poinstettas.(sp?) My brother Valmore sends money each year to buy them as our Christmas present. We then went to a couple small shops in Somersworth. It was a lovely afternoon.

While I was gone,Brother B brought Zach down to the Fox Run Mall in Newington so Zach could do his Christmas shopping.Rick put up the drywall,taped,and mudded the stove area.

Today,our new appliances arrived!! The guys from Lowes set the stove and fridge up,and took our old appliances away.They were very nice.

                                  Photo of the wall with new drywall,and the old stove:

                         Photo of the new stove:

   Photo of the old fridge and the wall that needs to be painted:

                              Our new fridge:

It felt like Christmas Day when they were bringing in the appliances!

Next,the wall needs to be sanded,and the second coat on the ceiling (which was really more of a skim coat) as well. Of course,the appliances will be covered up. Then we can paint,and get the molding up.

We decided to wait until after Christmas to get our new sink cabinet and counter top installed.It's just a wee bit too close to the holiday for my taste to try and get it all in before Christmas Eve. 

Have a fabulous day on this fabulous planet!!!!

Friday, December 9, 2011

When It Rains,It Pours...

Well, things have certainly been interesting around here the last few days.The ceiling is just about done. We got set back a day because we spent it buying a car. My car was a 2002 Impala (which I call the Oompaloompa) and she was very faithful to me. When I bought her in 2006 she had about 50,000 miles. When we parted she had 149,000 miles.Last year to pass inspection,we had to sink about $3,000 into her. Tuesday,we brought her to the local garage for inspection. Well,she needed a new rear bumper,and new rocker panels,which were apparently rusting out from behind,so you couldn't see it. In other words,she needed more work than she was worth. So I looked on online to see what I could find.  Happily,I found a 2009 Impala LS (I love Impalas...I mean,Ooompaloompas) that only had 13,000 miles on it,and one owner. It was a great deal.She's a beautiful car,and drives like a dream. So that meant spending money we weren't planning on spending,but instead of getting a loan and paying interest,we are going to pay our savings account back each month.

 Then,we needed to fill our oil tank,which,because it's outside,requires a mix so it doesn't freeze up,so that is more than than regular oil and it  ran us over $800. Though we don't use the furnace much,we like to have it for really cold nights as a back up.Up until yesterday,the weather has been pretty mild,so our use of wood or furnace had been next to nothing.The last time we filled the tank was January.


 Yesterday,our water heater died. Apparently,the folks we bought the house from just plugged it in to a 120V outlet,even though the heater was a 240V,which we never noticed.So our electricity has been working doubly hard for 8 years. Thankfully,our neighbor who is going to move our oven outlet knows how to add the proper voltage for the new heater. It has been a mighty expensive week. On top of remodeling!!! I am just thankful that we had enough to take care of everything. It will take awhile to put it all back,but we are determined to build our savings back up.

They say everything happens in threes,right? Hopefully we are all set on that for awhile!!!

Have you had anything like that happen to you? Things are going along smoothly,then all of a sudden,everything around you starts falling apart all at once? I'm good with that for a while,I tell you!

Have a fabulous day on this fabulous planet where ever you are,my friends!!!

Monday, December 5, 2011

New Ceiling Is Up And The Verdict Is In On The Kindle Fire

The old strapping was taken down,new ones up put up,and the drywall installed. It's almost completely done in this photo.....

                                                           .....all up in this one!

Rick tightened up the screws and Zach helped fill the screw holes with mud.Today Rick is going to tape and mud the seams. If it dries fast enough,he will sand and maybe get to put another layer of mud on today. You can see in the above photo that the white beam looks like it's sagging.That's because,like much of house,nothing is plumb. The drywall was laid straight,as it should be,which made the white beam looks more off.You can see the space on the left side of the beam where the drywall meets it,or,should I say,where it's suppose to meet!Rick is going to cut a small piece of dry wall and insert it so the gap is filled. It's always interesting what one will find when doing demo.

Yesterday I was in bed all day with a migraine,which was a bother in itself,but it also meant I had to  miss marching in the Rochester Christmas Parade with the Boy Scout Troop.Rick and Zach went,so at least we were represented. I spent the day watching Movies On Demand,as well as some Tudors on my
Kindle Fire. I really like the Kindle Fire. The video quality is fabulous,and the sound is great for a 7" product. The only thing is getting used to using the keyboard. Since I have never texted,or used this type of board before it takes some getting used to . I make a lot of mistakes because my fingers hit the wrong keys!! Otherwise,it's great.The battery life is good, too- I can get about 6 hours before it needs to be charged. If you are considering a Kindle,and want more than just book reading,I highly suggest the Fire.

The Girls haven't been laying at all for the last couple of weeks. We don't have electricity in the garage,so we don't have it in the coop. The shadows in the backyard are longer now,and the sun doesn't rise above the red pines anymore. Even at noon time,the sun is still about a quarter down from the top of the trees,whereas in the summer it is high above them and it 's sunny until about 4:00 around the coop. Now the shade is fairly constant by the coop,and sun sets at 4:30.

Have a fabulous day on this fabulous planet!!!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Kitchen Redo-Demo Begins

The kitchen demo has begun!!! The Menfolk have been taking down ceiling tiles and pulling off beadboard from the walls. Right now they are measuring for drywall. I hate the mess that drywall makes when it's sanded,but we block off the doorways to the other rooms with blankets so the dust is kept as much to the room that 's being worked on as possible. Yesterday I ordered  a new fridge and oven from Lowe's. The fridge was on sale,and we also received a military discount on top of that. I also bought a new cord for the oven,and a water line for the fridge for the ice maker that is in the freezer (it does not have a water dispenser...I didn't see the need for one). The new fridge has the freezer on the bottom. Looking at new fridges,it seems like they all have ice makers in them now. At least,the ones I looked at. I wanted the the freezer on the bottom,so the fridge part could be more eye level. I hate not seeing some leftover food that gets pushed to the back of the bottom shelf. The new fridge is a basic one door,not the french door style. For some reason,I felt crowded in when I opened it. Not sure why,but I didn't like it. Our new stove is an electric,with coil burners.I was considering a flat top stove,but you can't use cast iron cookware on them,and you have to make sure you use cookware with specific bottoms. The only thing we are debating about now is whether or not to buy an over the stove microwave. I want one,but I don't know if we will have enough space. It seems like we need cabinets to attach it to,and the space will be tight. I did see on TV such a microwave just attached to the wall. We would use a carbon filter,no regular vent. I will have to do some more investing.

Before I get into the redo photos,I remembered that I took a photo of the table at Thanksgiving:

I was going to make a centerpiece,but Rick surprised me by bringing one home. I used left over fresh herbs for a little decoration above the plates.

Now some redo photos.......

                 The horrible tile ceiling that came with the house.......

Looks like this now,minus the strapping.New strapping is going up.The previous owners,who flipped the house,ran this strapping opposite to how it's suppose to be. You can also see where we put a sample of tin back splash to the right of the stove to see how it would look. It's a keeper.

Here is the discolored "beadboard." I put that in quotations because it's basically pressed wood with some sort of white plastic coating. They come in sheets,and you use some sort of seam cover where the sheets meet.You can also see on the tile ceiling where I attempted to clean it,once. No luck. Tile ceilings and wood stoves do not mix well.

Here is what the wall looks like now. All the trim is gone.That will be replaced as well. The area between the door and window is where the stove will go. Rick is going to build a little shelf under the window that can be raised and lowered as needed,so there is a bit of work space right next to the stove.To the right you can see  the stove where it is now.We have ordered a cabinet to go in that spot.

While remodeling is a pain,it's wonderful,too.I am so excited to have the kitchen I want!!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Back To Normal

Thanksgiving went off very well. I was in such a hurry to get all the food out and served while it was hot that I didn't take any photos (sorry,Kymber). Most of the dishes were a success,though I was not fond of the green beans. Everyone else liked them,though. I also think I put too many cranberries in the stuffing,but again,everyone else liked it. I told Rick not to bother making my cake on Thanksgiving,and to wait until Friday,since the few days leading up to Turkey Day were so hectic. My pumpkin pie was delicious,if I do say so myself,and it was gone the next day.

How was your Thanksgiving?

 Friday morning I wound up taking Rick to the emergency room.He has a tick bite that is horribly red and has a hard bump under his skin. Since he has had a hole in his heart fixed,has two knee replacements,and an auto immune deficiency (Celiac Disease)   he has to be very very careful about infection.They did some blood work to test for Lyme disease,which we should hear about by Weds. They put him on some antibiotics that they give to Lyme disease patients,just in case.He is also taking a probiotic pill to help combat any stomach upset.Thankfully,we were not there very long.

This week we should be starting our kitchen. We need to get strapping,drywall,and mud today or tomorrow.

The Girls have pretty much stopped laying,at least for now. The sun does not get above our tall red pine trees in the back anymore,and the shadows are longer.The change in weather is also a factor,I think. In the last week they have only laid 6 eggs. The last three days they haven't laid any. We have some nice hay in their coop,and we keep the main door closed now because it's chilly. I hated to buy eggs at the supermarket last week. :(  It's always such a great feeling to be able to walk by something because we can make it or have an animal who can create it.

Rick finally cleaned up his half of the bedroom yesterday.Now I can walk on his side of the bed. I got sick of the closet in the bathroom,and organized it. We'll see how long it lasts. I am in the mode of tying loose ends-photos that should've been rehung long ago,Rick's flags,etc. He has a shadow box that  we bought last year for his military ribbons,etc. He doesn't have all of them. Somewhere in between the sands of time and moving he lost many of his military things (this was before I met him).We have a magazine where what he earned can be ordered,so I told him to circle whatever ribbons/awards he should have,and I will order them.

Most of the snow we got last Wednesday is gone,which is good,because I need to put the cornstalks and pumpkins that are outside into the compost pile,and on a good day I am going to go out back and gather my greenery for decoration. We should be getting our tree in a couple of weeks.

So far I am enjoying my Kindle Fire. It's great!! Yesterday I ordered a case for it and some screen protectors. That's the downside to touch screen-finger prints!!

Have a great day on this fabulous planet!!!!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

Besides Christmas,Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It's a wonderful day for spending with family and counting your blessings.

I have many blessings:
-A wonderful husband,who came back to me alive
-A fabulous son
-Wonderful family and friends
-A warm home
-Clothes on my back
-Food on my plate

That's the most that anyone could ask,isn't it? I am mindful that there are many right now who are not so fortunate. Yesterday we donated three turkeys and food baskets to local families who are having a real tough time. We have been there before,and it's not fun. We are keeping those folks and many more like them in our thoughts today,as well as our military who are far from home.Bless them all!

In a little bit I am going to make my stuffing,then put the bird in the oven.My Mom is coming up today for dinner.She is doing great,driving now and therapy is coming along real well.

                                                        Thanksgiving Menu

Citrus stuffed turkey with Herbs De Provence (homegrown turkey!)
Venison sausage stuffing (homemade sausage and gluten free bread)
Orange Honey Green Beans (homegrown green beans)
Sweet Potatoes
Cranberry Sauce
Olive and cream cheese stuffed celery

Pumpkin pie (home made pumpkin and gluten free crust)

Tonight Rick and Zach are going to make me a birthday cake. This year,my birthday happens to fall on Thanksgiving. Great way to begin my 44th year......the Fierce and Forty decade continues!!!!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends out there...where ever you may be!!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Making Pumpkin Puree

Last year was my first year at making homemade pumpkin pie,by which I mean making the pie with pumpkin grown here and not from a can. :)

Pumpkin puree is pretty easy,though it can take a while to make,depending on how many pumpkins you are trying to process at once. I had two Sugar Pumpkins.

1) Wash the pumpkins.Cut the pumpkin into quarters. If you cannot do this yourself(like me) you can enlist the help of a strong man (like me).Then,cut the quarters in half so the sections are smaller.

2)Scoop out the seeds and guts.

3)Fill a microwaveable bowl with about 2" of water,and place as many pumpkin slices as will fit into the bowl.The less you fill it,the quicker the pieces will soften up.

4)Cover the bowl,and put in the microwave on high for about 20 minutes or so.The rind should come off fairly easily. I peeled it off ,or you can use a fork to scrape the flesh away from the rind. Cut the pieces up so they will fit into a food processor.

My food processor suggested level 10,and in no time it was a puree.

It took me about an hour and half to nuke,peel,and puree all the pumpkin pieces I had. As each batch was pureeing,I would weigh out 15 oz batches,since 15 oz is the standard pumpkin pie can size. In all,I made 5 batches,each in their own freezer bag,which I immediately put in the freezer for future use.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Super Easy Venison Sausage

Right now the Menfolk are in the middle of the turkey fest. Zach did the dirty deed ("Mumma,you are going to have to use Oxyclean on my clothes,I hit the jugular.")Two are hanging out back,and Rick is plucking one in the garage. I braved the masses and went grocery shopping today,thankfully I went a bit earlier than  normal so it wasn't so bad.I got a few small things ready today-cooked my cranberries for the stuffing (actually dressing,but we always call it stuffing),made my cream cheese/olive filling for celery sticks,and made my venison sausage.This was my first attempt at venison sausage,and I must say it came out AWESOME. It's very easy. I got the recipe from

                                                    Deer Breakfast Sausage
1 lb ground venison (no suet)
1 lb ground pork
2 tsp ground sage
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Put venison and pork in a large bowl. Mix the spices together and pour sprinkle over meat. Using your hands,work the meat and spices together until thoroughly combined.Shape into roll,wrap in plastic or foil,and chill overnight in the fridge.Slice and fry as regular sausage.

The only thing I did not do was make the meat into a roll. I cooked some up right away and brought it outside so the Menfolk and The Boy could try it,and they all loved it.Our neighbor,Kelly,was chatting with Brother B,and he loved it as well.He told me to give his wife the recipe. I put the pound of sausage I need for the stuffing in the freezer in a separate freezer bag,and froze the rest together.I wasn't sure how long fresh venison lasts in the fridge,since it had been in our fridge since Saturday. I figured an overnight freeze wouldn't hurt,and tomorrow I will cook up what I need for the stuffing so it will be all set for Thanksgiving.

Tomorrow I will make pumpkin pie with homemade pumpkin puree,iron the tablecloth,wash the glasses and china,dry out the Gluten Free bread for the stuffing,and fill the celery sticks with the cream cheese and olive mixture. Less things to do on Thanksgiving!

Have a lovely day!!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Let The Harvest Begin (GRAPHIC PHOTOS)


Like I mentioned in my earlier post,we got a deer that was hit by a car.He hung over night in our tree in the backyard. Saturday morning,The Menfolk,Zach,and nephew Brody went out hunting,but were not out long.They didn't see any deer,but they did see a mink.

This past weekend was mighty busy,as we planned on having Brody up to hunt,then harvest the turkey  that we had sold. Then we got the call about the deer,so that was added to the mix.Saturday-out early hunting,then home to harvest the deer. Some photos of the skinning:

                                                             *GRAPHIC PHOTOS*

He let Nephew Brody try his hand at skinning as well,under his guidance:

                                                       *END GRAPHIC PHOTOS*

After the deer had been skinned,then the real processing began. We have a food vacuum sealer and that keeps the meat nice and fresh.Thankfully,most of the meat was good and not ruined from the accident. The whole process of skinning,butchering,and processing took about four hours or so. We have medallions,roasts,and steaks. I have meat in the fridge that I am going to make into burger today.

The Men were exhausted by Saturday night.Sunday they harvested the turkey that we sold. We let Nephew Brody harvest the turkey,since it's not something he normally does. Zach,who is our turkey harvester,was fine with it because he knows that he will be helping with the rest this week (he has the whole week off from school).

We don't have any fancy scales,so our method of weighing turkeys is to stand on a regular scale,take note of the persons weight,then put the person on the scale with the turkey.The difference in weight is the weight of the turkey. The one we sold was 19 lbs and a Tom. We did sell it for incredibly cheap,on par with frozen at the supermarket.(a mere .75 cents per lb) We had not been keeping track of feed costs,so we really had nothing to gauge it on. Selling one was last minute decision. Our customer,Stephanie,told me she would like to get one from us next year,and I told her that the price would be much more. She seemed pretty pleased at any rate,which was a good thing.

The rest of the turkeys will be taken care of over the next couple of days. We have one for our neighbor,one for Rick's Dad,one for Brother Dale,one that we are trading for some pig meat,one for us,and three that we are donating with food baskets. We only sold the one.No money making venture this year,which is fine.Next year,we plan on keeping track of costs,buying more and selling some at what the price should be. I don't like the thought of charging people I know,though.It's just who I am.

Our neighbor,Kelly got a call about a hit deer.The Menfolk are going to help him harvest it,and he is going to give us some meat in exchange for the help.So we are going to get more venison!!

There won't be much hunting up until Thanksgiving Day. Everyone is going to be busy. 

Today: Menfolk-process Kelly's deer
            Me:make fresh pumpkin puree from two Sugar Pumpkins;finish shopping list and food basket             list. Make venison burger.Begin cleaning house.

Tuesday:Menfolk/Zach:some hunting in the AM.Begin turkey processing.Shop for food basket items.
              Me:Shop for week and Thanksgiving.Make venison sausage.
             Zach :Make up the food baskets

Wednesday: Menfolk/Zach:Process more turkeys. Deliver food baskets.Make my Birthday cake(Rick and Zach insist on it)
                    Me:Iron table cloth,wash china and special glasses/dishes,make gluten free pumpkin pie,stuff turkey with citrus,make venison sausage stuffing,and celery stuffed w/cream cheese and olives.

Plus,there always other goodies that pop up.How do you prepare for Thanksgiving,if you celebrate it?

Friday, November 18, 2011

It's 3:10 AM ....Do You Know Where Your Deer Is?

Very early this AM at 3:10 (or is it very late at night??)I woke to the sound of our phone ringing. Lately,we have been receiving "Private Caller" calls around 3:00 AM,which have been nothing but beeping noises,much to our annoyance. Usually,when a phone rings in the dead of night (or is it dead of morning??) one assumes it's not good news-something terrible has usually happened,which is why these annoying beeping calls are even more frustrating. I heard Rick answer it,and heard him say," Rt 16? Where?" When I heard this,I knew it wasn't bad news.None of our loved ones would be out and about up here,since none of them live near us.Especially that time of night ( or is it morning???)

A deer had been hit,and we are on a call list for any deer or moose. We have friends in the Middleton Police Dept who have let it be known to other Police Depts in the local area that they can call us any time of the day (or night) when they get a call about dead deer or moose,so we are on their call lists. We don't get them often,but we have a couple of times.

This deer was not far from the house-maybe about 10 minutes down the highway.It was a buck,weighing about 140 lbs.

When Zach woke up,Rick told him we got a deer,and he thought Rick had gone out and shot it. He wasn't fully awake yet,and didn't stop to think that it was still dark out. :)

At first,when Rick and I were first married and he got the same kind of call,I thought it was rather...well...weird getting roadkill. I won't lie. The thought of getting something from the side of the road conjured up images of  hillbillies scrounging for food,scraping up possums with a shovel (which I actually saw many years later on "My Big Redneck Wedding"-YUCK!) We weren't hillbillies,and we weren't starving. I mentioned this to Rick,and he replied that we weren't getting an animal that had been there for days.It was fresh,just like he had shot it. Better to get it,and at least not have it's death be in vain,than to just have it rot by the side of the road. Well,that made sense. When I saw the deer,it looked just like it would've looked if it had been hunted. It wasn't gross,and it was fresh. It took a bit,but I got over that mentality.

It's funny that this happened this morning (or is it last night??)because Nephew Brody is coming up after school to spend the night and go hunting with Rick,Brother B,and Zach tomorrow. After Brody gets here,then the deer cutting process will begin. We will vacuum seal the portions. I will actually get to try out my my meat grinder on My Precious (aka the Cuisinart),as well as my sausage maker. They have been lying in their virginal state in a drawer since I got them last year. We are fortunate that they The Menfolk can process and cut up their own deer,and we don't have to bring it to a butcher. I'm not sure if they will cure the pelt or not (another thing that they know how to do).

It's a good thing we invested in a new freezer this past week.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

An Early Birthday Present

Yesterday did not begin well. I woke up and the whole house smelled like cat pee. I knew that the litter box needed to be changed,but I couldn't remember if Rick had bought litter on Tuesday.There wasn't any in the house.If he had,no one had changed the box. Rick was snoozing in the living room,but woke when I came in.My first words were,"Phew! The house stinks from the litter box!" To which my not yet awake hubby replied,"Well,why didn't you change it yesterday?"  Of course, my mind (which wasn't awake it's self yet) immediately goes on the defensive and my imaginary hackles go up. "Do we have litter? Where is it?" "It's on the porch," he replies. "Fine," I grumble.Now I am completely annoyed.Why didn't he just change the damn litter yesterday? What am I,a mind reader? I look out on the porch,and it's the 35 lb container,which yes, I can lift,but it's still heavy and awkward. So of course, I make a great show of carrying this monstrosity into the house,and I drop it rather loudly on the bathroom floor. "I'll get it,"Rick calls,just as annoyed. "Oh, no,it's apparently my job," I said,snidely. And I so I proceeded to  change the litter. I was completely annoyed with Rick for a while afterwards,and he he apologized later. I guess he felt I was blaming him,but I wasn't,I was just commented on what I smelled.I guess it wasn't the best thing to come out of my mouth first thing in the morning. Even we can get snotty with each other once in a while,though it doesn't happen very often.Especially before our first cup of coffee!

That seemed to set the tone for the day-I wound up with a headache,which made me feel real tired and just down in general.

Rick and Brother B went to their Dad's yesterday,then went to do some Christmas shopping in Newington,then went grocery shopping.They were gone quite awhile,which I knew they would be,but they didn't get back until almost 3:00,having left before 9:00. After they unloaded the groceries,Rick told me to put down my crocheting,close my eyes,and hold out my hands. He had Zach put something in my hands,which,I discovered was a Kindle $50 gift card.Rick then gave me something wrapped in his coat."This is an early birthday present,because if you don't like it,it would have to be returned the weekend after Thanksgiving,and since your birthday is on Thanksgiving,it wouldn't give you much time to use it and decide." I took it out of the coat wrapper,and this is what it was:

 I had discussed  e-readers with Rick on several occasions,and whether or not I would like one. I love reading,always have.I am not as voracious of a reader as I used to be,since life gets in the way,but I still love books.There is nothing like curling up with a good book. E readers would certainly save on storage space,and since we only have so much space,I don't have room for a lot of books.However,I was not sure if I would like the "feel"of an e-reader.

Rick had been thinking about buying one for me for a while,and stopped into Barnes and Noble to check them out. He picked the day that the Kindle Fire came out,(which he had no clue about) so there was a line at the bookstore when they showed up. Rick liked the look of the Fire,and it's capability (music,books,magazines,web browsing) and he liked the touch screen as opposed to the older models. Barnes and Noble had just received the shipment,and they said they were the first store to get them in the state. It came with a free $50 card,which is cool. The only thing was,they were told that we could download books through a USB cord connected to the computer,which we can't.We need WI FI. So they are now down at Staples,getting a WI FI router. In all honesty,we needed one,anyway. Our old computer is in Zach's room,and since we now have high speed and no longer have dial up,we would need a router for him to use his computer. We can also now use Rick's old lap top.

So I have now entered the 21st century regarding reading. I am anxious to begin my e-library! It was a nice early present.