Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Happy Anniversary to my husband and me! We've been married to each other for 29 long, torturous wonderful years now. What is the secret? Lots of laughter, mutual respect, his fear of catching a strange disease if he strays so that's why he won't, the ability for both of us to allow the other to indulge in our hobbies (his-fishing, hunting, wood chopping, mine-horse and dog shows, raising animals [the kids don't count}, and now my mosaic-ing), together time, alone time. I guess I should throw the word "love" in there somewhere too!

Here's looking forward to at least another 29 years!

Monday, December 29, 2008


The last birthday of the year is today. Then we get to start all over again next year.


Saturday, December 27, 2008


Happy Birthday to my sister, MT, the cheesemaker!

I just tried finding an official name for a person who makes cheese (ie: beekeeper=apiarist; sheep herder=shepherd; person who raises animals=rancher; etc.). Apparently a cheesemaker is just that: a person that makes cheese. So no fancy names, sorry!


Friday, December 26, 2008

A Dog And His Bone

Or more like three dogs and three bones.

Albertson's had bovine femur bones for sale the other day, and I thought I would give the dogs a treat for Christmas. I had the butcher cut the bone into three pieces so each dog would have a section and there would hopefully be no conflicts.

As you can see they got busy.

Just a couple days later when I went out to feed in the morning one of the dogs brought his bone with him to the pasture area. He dropped it back there and then went out to the pond area with the rest of us. Apparently whichever dog brought it out forgot about it and it was left out when we came back in.

The next morning I noticed the bone was gone. I'm guessing the fox took it, although by that time there wasn't much left on it!

Merry Christmas, Mr. Fox!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

We always open our Christmas gifts on Christmas Eve. Last night we went to Carli and Marcus's apartment so we could watch the baby open her stuff. Notice all the gifts under the tree in the picture above. I would say 95% of them were for her!

While shopping at the book store earlier I saw this little t-shirt and I couldn't resist getting it for the baby. (It says "snack nap read".)

She does love her books! (And her new beanie cap.)
Besides the huge pile of clothes she got (thanks to Mervyn's going out of business sales) she got a few new toys including the baby xylophone and piano. Those will stay at the apartment!
She got two new dollies and a doll stroller. She pushed her new babies around for the rest of the night.
Since today, Christmas Day, it's just going to be me, my husband, and our son, originally we weren't going to do anything special for dinner. In fact I joked that I would have cereal for supper! But I did end up getting a very small (10 pound) turkey that I'm going to get started in just a minute.

I hope everybody's Christmas is grand!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Present From God

I just happened to walk into the garage and I saw this little guy frantically trying to fly through the window. Somehow he had flown in through the open garage door. When I came out I may have startled him and he got confused and tried to leave through the glass window.

This picture isn't very clear because I was trying to hurry so I could get him back outside. But you can see some of his color.
Here's from a slightly different angle. Notice how the color changes from gold to red.
Look how fast he took off. Here you see him...
...and here you don't!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Risi e Pisi

This recipe, Risi e Pisi, or Rice and Peas, is one of my favorite dishes. But then again, what isn't!

Anyway, it's from Jeff Smith's The Frugal Gourmet Cooks With Wine (1986). It works as a side dish or as the main event, as we had it tonight. It is quite simple to make and I'm sure you could tweak it very easily to suit your personal tastes. For example if you can't have pork or you are a vegetarian simply leave out the pork and substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth.

So here we go. You'll need 4 T olive oil; 4 T butter; 1/4 C chopped yellow onion (about a small to medium onion); 1 1/2 C long grained rice; 3 T dry sherry; 3 C shelled fresh peas or 2 pkgs frozen peas, thawed; 1 C diced smoked ham (about 1/4 lb.); 3 C hot chicken stock; 1 1/2 t salt; 1/4 t fresh ground black pepper; 1/4 C grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

First heat olive oil and 2 T butter in a pot. I always seem to add all four T butter but it doesn't hurt it any. Saute the onions for five minutes.

Mix in the rice and stir until translucent.

Add the sherry and cook over low heat for one minute.

Add the peas, ham, 2 C of the hot stock...

...salt, and pepper.
Cover, bring to a boil and cook over low heat for ten minutes.
Add the remaining broth, cover and cook for another ten minutes or until the rice is tender and dry (I just keep checking every five minutes until it's to the point where I like it). Test for seasoning, mix in the remaining 2 T butter and the cheese. When serving I like to add an extra bit of cheese on top.
This is always a favorite at our house and I think it can become one of yours too!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Flying Saucers (Cookies)

This is a recipe I got from our local newspaper many, many years ago. These are giant oatmeal raisin cookies. I usually add a few pecans too, just because I like nuts.

The ingredients are: 1/2 C shortening; 1 C sugar; 1 egg, slightly beaten; 1/4 C honey; 1/4 C milk; 1/4 C raisins; 1 1/2 C old fashioned oats; 1 3/4 C all-purpose flour; 3/4 t baking soda; 1/2 t allspice; 1/2 t cinnamon; 1/2 t salt.

First off you'll need to preheat the oven to 300°. Then cream together the shortening and sugar.

Add the egg, honey and milk.

Continue creaming until light and fluffy. Soak raisins in hot water for a few minute; drain well. The recipe calls for 1/4 C raisins but I always double that. (1/4 C is only about 10 raisins, for crying out loud!)

Combine with oats (the recipe calls for old fashioned oats, but I just use quick oats)...

...and add to creamed mixture.

Sift flour with remaining dry ingredients...

...and add to shortening-oatmeal mixture.

This is where I add chopped pecans, at least 1/2 C, and mix well.

Lightly grease cookie sheet or spray with Pam. Place 1/4 C dough on the sheet, flattening slightly.

Bake on third shelf in 300° oven for 12 to 15 minutes. Cool slightly on the pan, then loosen carefully with a spatula or using a twisting motion to remove from pan.

Enjoy with a big glass of milk!
Here's the original recipe I clipped out of the paper.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


I've always been a little jealous of those people who have the therapy dogs that can do cool tricks and/or wear rabbit ears or funny hats or whatever. My dogs usually will wear it for about two seconds and then shake their head and the item goes flying. Gus's trick repertoire includes "sit", "shake", "down", and "crawl" where he will creep on his belly to where you point your finger.

I decided to give the headgear another try when I was at the drug store and I saw some antlers on sale for about $1.00. I figured that wouldn't break the bank if it didn't work.

Yesterday evening was my day for visiting the nursing home but first I had to make a stop at the hospice office because it was time for my annual TB check. This would be the perfect time to test how Gus did with his new antlers. Plus I thought if he got the attention I thought he would get it would help convince him that the silly head gear was a Good Thing.

As he got out of the car I put the leash on him and then the antlers. Before we even got to the building we got several big smiles from some people. Once inside while I got my TB test shot one of the ladies took Gus around to show the employees. He came back with his tail wagging and a big smile on his face. His antlers were still on his head.

At the nursing home it was much the same. Everyone loved the "reindog" and Gus's tail never stopped wagging. The bed bound Hoffman patient we visit was asleep, but her room mate was awake. She can't speak and her arms are permanently curled up around her chin. She usually smiles when she sees Gus and I'll put his front legs on her bed so she can see his face better and they can say hello to each other in their way. When she saw his antlers she had the biggest grin I'd ever seen on her and I dare say she almost laughed out loud.

Usually when I pose Gus for a photo he gets a serious look on his face, but you can see in the shot above he was smiling. I think he figured out the antlers were indeed a "Good Thing".

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Another One!

I told you there were a lot of birthdays this month.


10 Years Old Today

Chester, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, is ten years old today! We got him from some people in Taft, a small town about 30 miles southwest of us. He could have been registered with the AKC if we wanted, but I knew I wouldn't be showing or breeding him. He really wasn't show quality anyway and I knew we'd be neutering him so there was no point in spending the extra money for a useless piece of paper.

Both of Chester's parents were at the house when we picked him out. The book "Marley and Me" by John Grogan wasn't out yet, but if I had read it before going to Taft I probably wouldn't have bought him. While Chester's mother was quiet and docile, his dad was rather huge and rambunctious.

Lucky for us Chester took after his mom!

He's doing as well as could be expected for a ten year old large breed dog. He's a little stiffer than he used to be but otherwise he's in pretty good shape.
Happy Birthday, Old Man!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Being Prepared

I was having a hankering for Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls so this weekend I set about to making them. They make a great gift for friends and neighbors too, so I knew I wouldn't be eating all six pans myself.

I got everything all set up and discovered I only had about 4 of the 8 required cups of flour. My choices at that point included #1: Go to the store and buy flour; #2: See if my neighbor had 4 cups of flour; #3: Wait until the next day and go to the store and get a few extra items while I was there. I went with option #4: Use a mixture of bread flour and cake flour. I didn't know how that would work but I was able to continue.

I did the required mixing and adding and heating and stirring. Then came the part where I took half the dough and pressed it out into the long rectangular shape. I spread the melted butter, sprinkled the sugar, then the cinnamon. I used up all the cinnamon in the jar. No worries. I had another jar in the pantry for the other half of the dough. I thought.

I thought wrong. I did find some stick cinnamon that has probably been in the cabinet for about two years. I could use that. Grating would be much too laborious and besides, I have my nifty, outlandishly expensive Vitamix blender I got this summer at the home show. It's supposed to be able to grind stuff. I know it does a good job on coffee beans because I've used it for that before.

I got it set up and tossed the cinnamon sticks in. The blender did great. I sprinkled the now ground cinnamon over the second half of the dough and added some chopped pecans just to add some extra calories.

Everything came out nicely. The rolls didn't rise up as high as I would have liked (from the wrong kind of flour maybe?) but they still taste great. I noticed as I was eating the first one that there were teeny hard bits. I thought maybe some shell from the nuts got in there and didn't think much of it. As I was eating the second roll and I got more bits I was thinking that's just too many bits. Then it occurred to me that the bits were actually cinnamon bits from the cinnamon I ground. I should have ground it a little longer and then sifted to get any bits out. Live and learn I guess.

It would just be rude to give away the pans that had the bits in them. That meant I had two whole pans with no bits that I could give away. They went to my friend Vicki, and my sister, the CheeseMaker. So that leaves four pans I have to eat by myself.

You see the sacrifices I make for my family and friends!

PS-Yes, I will share (~~twist my arm~~) with my husband and son.

Monday, December 15, 2008

O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum!

This year I had made up my mind that I wasn't going to have a Christmas tree. Oh, I know. Bah humbug. With the baby mobile now and my husband not I felt it might be simpler.

But I was overruled. We decided to get a smaller tree and elevate it so it would be harder for the baby to reach. We stopped at the tree lot at Home Depot since we had to go there anyway. Turns out they were out of the 3-5 foot trees. They were cheap enough so we picked out a 5-7 foot tree with the thought of cutting it in half.

Once we got home my husband changed his mind and decided he wanted the full sized tree after all. He said we'd just figure out a way to block access from the baby and deal with it. Easy for him to say!

My son got the ornaments down from the attic and I went to work. When we first married and had our own tree I got the cheap ornaments from the drug store with the multicolored balls and the multicolored lights. My mom tried different styles of tree decorations but seemed to prefer the single colors. One year would be gold themed with golden ornaments, one year blue, etc. I've kind of followed in her footsteps. I prefer mostly silver or clear ornaments with white lights.

I get a splash of color every now and then. One year I bought some beautiful purple (and expensive) ball ornaments. I used them for a couple years and now they stay boxed up in their careful wrapping.

My latest craze is pinecones and birds. I have slowed down on buying them though, because I run out of room with all the other ornaments.

Pinecone ornaments (and an acorn or two)

My bird collection.

I also have a bunch of glass icicles of varying sizes and styles. My mom used to put tinsel on her tree which always gave it a finished look. To me it's like my mosaics. You can always be sure the mosaic will look so much better when it's been grouted. Sometimes I put tinsel on my tree too, but it's a rather labor intensive operation if you want it done right. And today's tinsel is so lightweight and flimsy compared to the lead stuff from my mom's day. It still makes the tree look finished to me though.

I know everybody has their preferred type of tree. Usually it's whatever they grew up with. Of the types available around here my preferred type of tree is the noble fir. It has a little more room between the branches so my ornaments can dangle properly. I can also load the branches with the light strands all the way to the trunk, which to me makes it look prettier.

This year I didn't put all the glass icicles on and I didn't do the tinsel. I also didn't put on the cheesy light-up angel topper we have either.

That's okay. I'm glad I was overruled on the tree issue this year. Even though it doesn't have all the stuff I normally put on it still looks nice.