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2014 Christmas Wreath

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Well. It certainly appears that I have been otherwise engaged for a few months! I promise to post the finished pictures of Buckingham in the next few days. Let’s just say the boys are really glad that it is up, as the buck shack actually fell over in a wind storm.

We have a new piece of technology here in the house. This little blue wonder is allowing us greater access to the internet and making posting to the blog so much more simple. It was taking me 30 to 60 minutes to upload a photo and often resulted in me getting bounced off the internet several times. (Edit: I typed this before I actually tried to upload photos here. It was much more simple to upload them to the quilting forum though. I’m sure it will get better with more practice!)

I love you all, but it was taking more time than I had to keep this blog up and running.

I’ll get this one posted as a sample run and then transfer the photos over that are needed to complete the buck hut saga.

Here is to a more connected 2015!

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First you deduce that since she signs up for give-a-ways on the KitchenAid site every time a stand mixer comes up that she might want one. You somehow work a conversation around to them while at a “Girls Weekend”. You then discover that while she would like to have one someday, they are on her “List of Things to Get When I Win the Lottery.” Unless, of course, she wins one somewhere.

kitchenaid-artisan-stand-mixer

Then you shop until you find The Best Deal Ever, and you buy her one for her birthday. AND because you are so excited, you drive it out to her house to give it to her two weeks early.

This is an excellent way to make your sister happy.

One of the first items to take a test spin in the mixer was peanut butter cookie dough.

Inaugural Batch

I had help squishing them out before baking.

Baker's Helper

Not only has this made me happy, but since I have to try out all of the recipes to see if they work up any different and if they fit in that 5 quart bowl. It has made my family, and several other recipients of baked goods happy as well.

Thanks Sis! I’m loving it!

This is to remind me that while I look out to see the garden is mostly dirt, skeletal trees, and canes with a few sad leaves still clinging to them, this is what it will be again.

Raspberry patch

I shall enjoy the surprisingly late harvest of raspberries from our second-year canes. We ended up with about two gallon-size bags of the plump red berries. They are snuggled in the freezer between the peaches and the packages of pumpkin puree. I have to decide if they will be used as whole berries or converted into jam for biscuits, scones, and toast. Our small peach harvest would make a few jars of preserves, a small pie, several tasty smoothies, or some fabulous ice cream.

Pears!

Despite a full tree, we didn’t get any good apples. Our trees are going to have to be sprayed or dusted for us to get any that don’t have critters. Our multi-pear tree set fruit for the first time and we ate those right off of the tree! Most of them were Bartlets, but we did get one rogue Comice.

Bronze Fennel

We have also started to expand our herb garden, both culinary and medicinal. This is the bed that is dedicated to mint and some bronze fennel. Both the peppermint and spearmint were quite refreshing in our iced tea this summer, and they have dried nicely for our winter use. It is hard to believe that the fennel grows to six feet, but there it is.

Blueberry Barricade

Our blueberry bushes are looking better after a few hard years. We had a lovely crop of berries that the birds ate in one afternoon. They were there, all dusky blue and juicy at morning chore time, and when I went to pick them for supper (blueberry pancakes) the bushes were stripped bare! Eric constructed a row cover of netting and we did manage to get a few later in the season.

Cukes & Strawberries

We planted more pickling cucumbers and some Mexican Sour Gherkins. The pickles turned out pretty great this year, except for the MSGs. They look so cute, almost like tiny watermelons, but they have the worst texture once pickled! If we grow them again, they will be eaten fresh.

The cherry-type tomatoes were mislabeled. I thought we had Sweet 100’s, but we ended up with SunGolds. They only get to orange when ripe, so I lost a few waiting for them to turn red. They are like sugar bombs! Very tasty in salads or pasta, if they make it in the house. We had one “standard” tomato ripen this year. We are going back to the Oregon Spring variety. It is the only one we have had any success with here.

The strawberry bed was completely redone this season. The berries had become odd shaped and scarce on the plants. The old plants were pulled up and used as ground cover in other areas of the farm. Aged compost was mixed in with some bonemeal and fresh starts were set. We didn’t keep up with them as well as we should and I will have to figure out a way to keep the heavy clusters off of the dirt. Row covers and slug bait will also be our friends in this bed next spring. I prefer Corey’s Slug & Snail Death along the edges of the pathways to keep the monsters out of the beds in the first place and then the “Slug Saloon” in the bed. (Saloon =modified soda bottle with dead beer inside.)

Peppers & Beans

The beans and the peppers did fairly well this year. While the taste is fine, I have decided I don’t like bush beans. I would rather stand up to pick the green beans than crouch down to rummage under the leaves for them. I will find more panels for another bean trellis.

Finally, this is the stand of comfrey I planted in 2012. These were starts from Don & Judi Hoy’s farm. I know this stuff can go wild and crazy, similar to mints, so it was planted accordingly. They looked really bad at first, and I wasn’t sure they were going to handle the transplant. As you can see, they survived the winter and have decided to thrive here. The goats love to snack on a few leaves, and that pruning helps keep them in check!

Comfrey in June

I don’t have any photos up loaded of the sunflowers or the pumpkins that we grew in the beds with the garlic & fruit trees. The goats were very interested in the sunflowers! I will have to stake them if we grow them in the same place next year. The two old lady goats would wait for the breeze to blow and then snatch leaves off of the plants as the stalks leaned over the hot wire into their pasture!

This will remind me of our successes and give me incentive to do some more planing for next year’s garden!

After several years of riding with training wheels it was time for them to come off. In reality they have been barely hanging on the last year. One of them had worked it’s way loose and kind of tagged along for the ride.

Away she goes!

Now we have to get her to remember to steer and use the brakes….

We had a problem with yellow jackets last week.

I thought I had gotten them after I got stung. Later we realized they had actually made their nest in one of the bales of alfalfa hay. The farmers use a long spear to pick the bales out of the field and this had created a inviting hole for bees to nest in. Thankfully I didn’t get a face full when I actually picked up the bale and moved it! 

After Em was stung walking by to see the baby goats I called in the big guns. I couldn’t justify dumping a can of wasp spray in to the end of such an expensive bale of hay. Therefore, Daddy brought home two Tyvek paper suits and his full face respirator from work. After a bit of tape to keep the little monsters out of his sleeves he went to work.

Daddy gets the Bees!

He tore apart the end of the bale and found the comb and the queen. This really seemed to irritate the yellow jackets as they ended up stinging three of the goats who were standing at the feeder waiting for the hay to come their way. Poor things had some pretty serious swelling.

This wasn’t enough for the bees. They didn’t seem to know it was best just to leave. They kept lurking about the area around the hay stack and the bottom corner of the feeder. I was afraid they would set up new digs under the hay feeder.

My dear, sweet husband donned his protective gear again and went back down there. This time I think he was having fun. He made a red-neck blow torch out of a can of carburetor cleaner and a lighter. (Yes, in my pretty barn, next to my hay stack.) He’d wait for several of them to gather, flame them, and then the smooshing would ensue. In the mean time, we had fed the parts of the bale of alfalfa that the yellow jackets had nested in.

Our best guess is that between the flames and the digestion of the hay we eliminated the “homing” scent the little hellions were hanging around for. Either that, or they had watched enough of their friends have their wings singed off and be smashed into oblivion to make leaving town sound like a good idea.

I just wanted the world to know how brave my sweet husband was. He HATES bees of any kind. That puts this act of bravery right up there with slaying dragons to save the princess in his book. I love you honey. Thanks for making the barn safe for us to work in again!

Glacier Bay Walls

The walls are painted with a few extra additions of “Cave Art” to hide under the wainscoting.

Corner Cave Paintings

The ceiling needed a few touch ups. The Pooh’s Umbrella blue had a few smudges left on the ceiling from the previous paint job. One coat was not enough to hide them.

Stain Station

We picked up all of the wood for the wainscoting and the baseboard and chair rail trims. That is a lot of wood to stain! It is a light honey color that goes with most of the rest of the wood in the house.

Wainscot Stained

The wainscot installation process had a few hiccups. An important power tool was left at work, so Eric went “old school” for cutting out the outlet and phone box. Look! The tools are wireless & energy efficient!

Wireless Tools!

The biggest problem occurred when the second piece of chair rail was cut and he attempted to attach it. It didn’t match! We bought it in pre-packaged sets. No where on the bin or the packaging was it indicated that different molding patterns were possible. (I double checked.) We had all four packages stained and upon further examination three of the four matched.

So I took the receipt, and my indignation, and went back to the Home Depot. I don’t think the returns gal was real happy about it, but she offered a straight across exchange. Some poor HD guy finally asked me if I needed help finding something. This was after I had lined up ALL of the trim sets along the front of the rest of their displays, sorting as I went. I tried to explain the problem to him. He only grasped my frustration after I handed him the “good” sample and told him to match it. Now, to be fair, I did start him at the end where I knew none of them matched. Then when we got to the ones that were the same, I asked him to check them for quality. Should I use the ones with the big chunks missing out of the knots, or the one with the big sap pockets oozing under the packaging? As he left, he said he was contacting the vendor about quality control. Sure thing buddy.

Wainscoted Wall

Once those pieces are stained and dry we can finish the installation. It looks good so far. Especially with carefully cropped photos!

Next stop is the closet organizer installation!

Our son is growing up. He has had some big changes in his life the last few years.

Jaiden's Birth Day

He has become a Father and a good Dad. Last month he decided that it was time to move out and get an apartment of his own.

Jaiden

No, I did not decide to take over his old room with my sewing stuff!  We are going to use that room as an office and guest room.

Cave Artist

We picked out a light robin’s egg blue for the walls. We got a test jar to see if the color would be as nice in there as we thought. We managed a couple of  “test squares” and then it evolved into cave paintings.

Cave Art

Some of the paintings will survive. We are planning on putting wainscoting around the base of two of the walls.

More Cave Art

I can just imagine what someone will think if they ever take it down.

Did anyone see where January went?

I know there was a month between December and February. I am sure of it. I did some pretty neat things and saw some long nearly-lost family. It just didn’t seem to make it here.

I have photos for the blog. I just can’t seem to get everyone to play nice so I can share them. It also seems that I can’t find/make the time to drag the images to someone else’s computer to drag them here. It kind of takes the fun out of things.

We are still here and getting things done, even if you can’t see them!

Who says quilt tools are only good for fabric? Alton Brown always says your kitchen gadgets should be multi-taskers. I’m not sure this is what he had in mind.

I needed to cut the bread dough for the FanTan dinner rolls in fairly symmetrical bits for the construction of these Thanksgiving favorites. Last year’s batch tasted fine, but looked atrocious. Enter the acrylic ruler and a pizza cutter. Perfect 1.5″x 1″ squares!

This year’s batch looks much better and they taste just fine.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Now, most of us would not look at this Costco pack of toilet paper as anything but something to put away under the cabinet.

So far it has been an iceberg, a diving board, an Olympic medal podium, a raft for several stranded stuffed friends, and now finally, when coupled with an inflatable foot stool from IKEA, a chaise lounge of the finest redneck fashion. All of this creativity occurred before 10 AM.

These are the things that happen so often in my daily life with the Little Miss, that I don’t think to photograph them. Daddy, however, about busted a gut trying not to laugh when he came in and saw this. He wanted to get a picture of it, probably to torture her with later as a teenager. While I didn’t get the full effect of her lounging captured on film, you can see the intent.

Welcome to the funny farm!