Once in a Blue Moon….

It’s New Year’s Eve and there’s a full moon – actually it’s the second full moon this lunar month – which is very rare and is referred to as a “blue moon” (hence ‘once in a blue moon’).  Sadly we can’t see it due to cloud cover.  Last night was pretty darn bright, though, and I am glad we got to at least see the “close to full” blue moon.

It’s about 10 pm and we’re all feeling pretty under the weather.  I spent much of the day on the couch blowing  through tissue after tissue and wishing I could breathe through my nose.  I don’t know that any of us will last to midnight – I think most years we barely get there and then head right for bed. So much for the two bottles of Prosecco I had saved for tonight.

Still the temptation is there to be vigilant and make sure that we ring in the new year “just right” so that all of the ills of the past year are washed away properly and we can start fresh, resolutions or no.  Today has forced me to re-think that a bit.  Generally I push myself hard so that the house is sparkly clean come 12:01.  You know that superstition that how you start the year is how you’ll spend the year?  Today my house is a mess.  And today I was too sick to do squat about it.  And you know what?  I got to thinking that I am not starting the new year with a messy house; rather I am starting the new year actually listening to my own needs for once and not worrying about the grime around me.  I know it’s still going to be there for me to clean tomorrow, and let’s face it – I am going to spend all of 2010 trying to keep up with it and mostly failing no matter what I do today.

So –  filthy house around me – I spent today resting in comfy clothes, cuddling Oona when she’d allow it, watching Spongebob with all my girls, looking through some of my favorite books, thinking about some knitting and sewing  patterns I’d like to try, making a list of the seeds I’ll need to order for early spring,  talking to the animals, marveling with Emily at the 3 eggs she collected today and eating some fresh bread and warm soup. My husband and I sat after dinner in the quiet glow while the kids played in the next room and had a real, honest conversation for the first time in…..well, a blue moon, and made some positive plans for the new year.

If that’s how the rest of the year is going to go, then I say – welcome 2010, you’re gonna be great!!!

More Post – Holiday Let-Down Syndrome

You know what I mean.  That anti-climactic feeling you get now that you’re an adult and you no longer partake in the Santa / massive gift opening anticipation.  The day finally arrives, the presents are torn open in a matter of minutes (less than 5 minutes  this year) you eat all day and then………

Then you realize all that cooking, cleaning and preparation (and all that planning to take it easy as soon as the holiday was over) is going to all have to be re-done, because this happened:

and all of the cookies and treats you spent all that time baking were gobbled up well before you got a chance to sit down and enjoy them.  Now you get to clean the whole place all over again (because we don’t like to start a new year with a messy house now, do we?) prepare yet more food for your roving gangs of always – ravenous children and realize that since you’re an adult you don’t have any of the cool new toys and what – nots to play with and keep you occupied through the rest of the winter like the kids do (did I also mention my sewing machine needle broke on Christmas Eve?).

Le sigh.  Yes, I swore I’d relax after christmas.  I just don’t see it happening – at least not until everyone goes back to school and work next week.  For now my sanity is at the mercy of those previously mentioned roving gangs, who are at least well – occupied with new games to play.

They also have their aunt Maddie here to keep them busy.

She’s keeping warm and looking like a big blob of pink bubble gum thanks to her new snuggie.

Did I also mention I think my goat may be pregnant?  We had a male goat here for about 2 days back in November (another story for another time) and even though she hid from him as much as she could she’s also been getting fatter and fatter and I can’t seem to feed her enough no matter what I do.  Since the male was a significantly larger breed there is a real danger that any offspring would become stuck in the birthing process and baby and mama could both die.  This means I am forced to get a vet involved and the most likely outcome would be a goat c-section.  (This is where my supportive spouse tries to convince me to see if anyone wants a free goat/goats).

Ah yes, this is my life.  Here’s hoping for a better, or at least easier, 2010.  And as an offering for that I made a plate full of aebelskivers with my new pan (thank you mom and dad!).

Yummy, cream – filled puff pancakes coated with powdered sugar.

Hey Universe – these are for you!

Happy Holidays to All!

I am more serious than ever now about my promise to hibernate the entire month of January – all the cleaning, baking, more cleaning, more baking and sewing I’ve been doing has got me plum wore out!  I even broke down and got my hands on a pair of Dansko clogs because my feet were hurting so bad that my lower back was starting to ache as well.  Housework and baking in no-support slippers isn’t such a grand idea.

Our 2 and a half or so feet of snow is still mostly hanging around.  It took a good 3 or 4 days to get us plowed out and some areas of town are still pretty dicey.  The north this is not.  They can’t plow for a damn down here.  The kids loved it the first few days, when they could go out and play in it easily.

Now that it has been a few days and has gotten above freezing and then back below freezing every day and night it has created a bit of an impermeable ice – crust and playing in the snow just isn’t as fun anymore.

It sure is pretty to look at, though.

The chickens aren’t too crazy about it and haven’t really ventured out of their coops at all.  I am still getting eggs every day, however – 5 of our 6 hens are now laying – which is surprising given that the days are so cold and short and we haven’t been giving them any artificial heat or light.

Jerry and Milkshakes are taking it all in stride – especially Jerry.  Llamas being originally from the Andes where it’s cold and snowy means that he is doing A-Ok.  Our little goaty girl had trouble the first day or so with the snow being up to her chin but is faring rather well now that she can get around again and many of the pine boughs are much lower with the snow weight and she can more easily munch on them.

I’ve made chocolate chip cookies, raspberry rugelach, gingerbread cookies, macaroons, florentine cookies and butter cookies.  I’ve got to make the chocolate cream pies for tomorrow and the boule bread to go along with the lasagnas I’ll be making as well.  I’ve knit up several pairs of slippers and my sewing machine needle broke while I was finishing up some other gifts.  Still have to clean the floors and make dinner tonight.

I’m tired just thinking about it all……but that’s ok.  One more day of work and it will all pay off with satisfied kids and guests.

And Maddie can’t wait for the Snuggie I got her.

Merry Christmas, all – see you back here soon!

Let It Snow!!!

I’m sure you’ve all heard.  The DC area is getting a record snowfall.   Massive, major, never before seen in December SNOW.  Well, we’re not DC, but we’re not far from it, and we’ve gotten over 2 feet in the last 24 hours.  And it’s still falling.

I’ve been hearing horror stories – my neighbor left work yesterday at 5:30 pm – 30 miles away – and it took her almost 12 hours to get home.  Neve’s teacher fromlast year spent 7 hours coming home from a location that normally takes all of 15 minutes.  People were abandoning their cars left and right as they ran out of gas or just gave up and went on foot.   I am SO glad I went to the grovery store yesterday.  And I am sorry I made fun of all of the people there who were acting like the apocalypse was upon us (because usually here if it’s threatening even half an inch people go into a panic and buy out all the eggs and milk).   All of our roads have been closed.  I don’t know when our street will get done.  I do know that our driveway is one big snow-slide.  We aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

You like the view out my bedroom window?

The snow is up to my knees right now.  And it’s windy.  Brrrr.

I cracked the coop door for the chickens so I could give them some fresh food and some air circulation.  They wouldn’t come out., but Homie D Hen pecked at teh snow quite a bit.

The girls had a blast playing and throwing snow at each other.  I felt bad for them, though because we stopped buying them new snow gear a few years back since we never got any snow.  Seemed like  a waste.  So today I had to scour the house for snowpants and jackets and boots (which we only had thanks to Veronica giving me her girls’ old boots – V you are such a life saver!).  No one could find their gloves or mittens (they have them, they just like to lose them) so everyone went out with socks on their hands.

Oona wasn’t sure what to make of this crazy, cold white stuff that was taller than her.

Neve could not be made to wear a head covering of any kind.  She played hard anyway, and when she was done she came inside, put on dry jammies, curled up on the couch next to the fireplace and slept for the rest of the day. I need to try that trick more often, and on Oona.

This is just so sweet I can’t stand it.  Maddie loves her Oona. Generally, Oona can’t be bothered with Maddie.  Poor Maddie.

Now it is dark and I have spent much of the day cleaning (mostly Emily’s room.  I can’t tell you the kinds of dark thoughts I was having while I was in the thick of that).  Tomorrow was to have been the cookie exchange but it has been canceled due to the huge wall of snow that fell upon us.  Instead I am going to enjoy my almost completely clean house and try to relax for once.  Probably not, though.  Probably I’ll sew.  And knit.  And bake. And maybe try Wii Active.

I am blocking off January for sleep.  The whole month.  I am going to hibernate.  I plan on wearing nothing but jammies and lounging about for 30 days or so.  I think that’s a wonderful way to start the new year, don’t you???

Almost There…….

Still slaving away trying to get everything in order for the big day.  We’re hosting a cookie exchange this coming Sunday so that’s deadline number one. For that I am scrubbing and straightening and cookie baking like a mad woman.  I also need to drag out the white paint and touch up all of the woodwork thanks to certain children who shall remain nameless but know who they are.

Deadline number two is obviously Christmas.  We host it every year and this year’s no exception.  More baking.  More cooking.  We’ve changed the menu up a bit though and are going Italiano – buffet.  I’m setting out some lasagnas (a la Giada) some shrimp and crostinis (a la my dad) some stuffed mushrooms and a big antipasti platter.  Instead of snacking all day and then sitting down to a huge meal we’ll be eating our huge meal all day at our own rate and then I’ll put out the desserts as the big finish (chocolate cream pies!!!).

In the gift department I am staying busy with knitting several pairs of French Press Slippers .

Here’s a pair all knit up, before felting:

And here they are after a few runs through the washer :

All that’s left is to block them, dry them, and sew on the strap and the buttons.  These are the third pair I have made so far.  It would be a little quicker but I have a front loader washing machine and they don’t felt as well as top loaders.  I have to soak the knitting in hot water and dish soap first, then throw it in the washer with an old tennis shoe and run it through on hot about 5 or 6 times to get it all done properly.  They will be lovely when they are all done, though!

Also completed is a purse for a certain someone on my list who lives up north and mentioned she might like me to make her one.

Grandma?  Eric will be delivering this to you after he leaves here.  Merry Christmas!

(Pattern is Amy Butler’s Madison Bag.  Fabric is “County Fair – Ribbon” by Denyse Schmidt for Free Spirit Fabrics)

The other completed project is a tee shirt for my brother:

Chanticleer Farm.  When I finally get my farm that’s what I am naming it.  (It’s an old fashioned French word for rooster – I figured since we are over-run with them it only made sense).

Speaking of things that don’t necessarily work out well for me- my microwave broke last week.  I was changing the light bulb over the stove (under said microwave – it’s one of those built-in thingamajobbies) and it got stuck.  I tried to unscrew it and instead it went “POP”!!!  The kicker is that that stinkin’ little light bulb to illuminate my stove took down my whole damn microwave. Paul took it all apart and tried to fix it but it was wired in such a way that the fuse that blew destroyed the entire main control and was too expensive to be worth replacing.  We bought a new microwave for less and I actually like it a whole lot better.  I guess that means it worked out for me for once?  Still, who else but me could destroy a relatively new appliance just by changing a light bulb?  I’m just sayin’.

Oona has done her job to keep my life full of anarchy, chaos, misery and woe.  She climbed onto my bathroom sink, broke into my mirror vanity and spread foundation cream all over her face, hair and hands the other day.  I did what I could to clean it all off but she still had that tell-tale streak along her jawline.  All she needed was bleached out hair and she’d be all over that white-trash look. She capped off the afternoon by trashing a box of unused feminine pads.  The expensive kind.

Then today she climbed into my laundry hamper and pulled herself up to my jewelry box (it’s at my eye – level on a shelf – I thought it was safe there) and began ransacking it.  This was in the approximately two minutes while I was taking a dirty clothes pile to the washer.

The baby gates we got to pen her in no longer work as she knows how to undo the latches.  Ditto for the all the safety latches for the various cabinets and drawers in the house.  Her current pattern is that she will only stay in a room with me until I turn away for a moment and then she makes a break for it.  It’s tough to make any real headway on anything when I have to go locate her and pull her out of trouble every two minutes.  She’s not a terrible two.  She’s an EXTREME two.

At least the chickens like me.  Sort of.  Ruby (now Rubert actually) pecked the crap out of my hand today when I went out to feed them.  Can’t win ’em all I guess.  I still got rewarded with eggs.  And Benny, my little Ameraucana hen, has been giving me lovely green eggs all week.  Hooray!

All of those are fresh – that’s MY Merry Christmas!!!!!!

It’s That Time Again

Christmas time.  This is the time of year I am most over – worked and lacking proper sleep.  Too much to do!  Fortunately I also enjoy all of it – the cookie baking, the knitting, the sewing, the decorating and wrapping, the holiday music and movies.  I love the way the tree looks all sparkly in the living room and the candles all over the house make it feel cozy and warm.  (This year we got LED flickering tea lights at WalMart – they look just like the real thing!)

This week I made several batches of cookies – Chocolate Hazelnut thumbprints (those were all inhaled in no time), frosted butter cookies, and gingerbread cookies.  I love the gingerbread cookies.  I may have eaten a few too many of those this week.

The girls frosted the butter cookies (and fed a bunch to Oona.  As if she needed the sugar).  Maddie helped bake them so I was able to multi – task much more efficiently.  It helps having a willing and able helper.

I also whipped up some apple – walnut cake.  It’s a dense, moist, boozy cake that satisifies many of my cravings this season.  I always liked the idea of those old English puddings and fruitcakes, but I don’t actually like the taste of those.  This cake, though, has all the right spices (cinnamon, cloves, allspice) with a little bit of fruit (apples – I don’t put inthe raisins the recipe calls for because I only eat raisins if they are covered in chocolate) some walnuts, AND a healthy dose of bourbon.  The result is out of this world.  A BIG thank – you to my mother in law for this one.

Aside from stuffing my face and packing unnecessary poundage onto my backside I have been making some little steps toward the holiday crafting that needs to be done.  I have plans this weekend to make some ornaments with the girls and today I’ll be doing knitting and sewing all day (in my pj’s.  I am not getting dressed until I have to go pick up the girls from the bus).  I don’t want to give away too much just yet (there’s gifts involved afterall) but I want to show you a small bit of the tablecloth I’ve been working on.  It’s a reverse – applique method with a rooster and rose stenciled motif.  It’s actually almost complete so I will post a better picture then.

This was taken before the stitching was done and the outlining of the white.  I wanted to make the tablecloth first because I plan to make some gifts using this idea and wanted to be sure I knew what the heck I was doing and prefected it before attempting it on something intended for someone else.  I love the rooster stencil.  I’d like to get a rooster cookie cutter so I can make some rooster ornaments to go with it, but I think considering time restraints I am going to have to wing it.  How hard can it be to make a cookie cutter?  (Stop laughing at me.)

And now, because I am a jerk and because he should have known better, I am leaving you with a picture of my favorite brother in the world.  He emailed this picture to my mother and I (to show off his yearly mustache.  He and his dearest buddies grow them every xmas.  I think it’s hilarious) and I about fell out of my chair when I saw it.  I giggled at the thought of it the rest of the night.  My brother is the funniest guy I know and I really, really wish he lived closer.

Hey KB?  Here’s the deal – I am going to buy a farm one of these days……got too many animals here and I need a barn and all and I am going to be adding mroe and more fur babies because I just can’t help myself.  So………..what’s say you come be my farm hand?  Co – farmer?  I’ll spin the fleece and you canmake the goat cheese.  Sound good????

I am totally taking that as a yes.

Need A Real Farm

The last few weeks have taught me one thing well:  I am woefully under – prepared for my animals.

Here’s the thing – I am a worrier.  I worry about my kids and my animals.  I am that person that wants to grab the chickens and the goat and the llama and bring them all in the house with me whenever the weather’s not right.  And these past few weeks?  It’s been rainy, cold and more rainy.  We are expecting something crazy like 2 inches of rain tomorrow.  That is bad.  Not because I don’t like a good rainy day, but because the shelter for my four – footed babies is leaking.  And the other one that was storing one giant hay bale leaks as well, meaning that we have one giant wet hay bale.  Oh the wasted money right there…..that hurts.  Every day when I brave the mud to feed them I worry.  Are they warm enough?  Are they staying dry enough at night?  Do they have enough room?

Given the situation I’ve decided to hold off on acquiring any more goats for now – I’ve not got enough shelter for them and should my little Milkshakes give birth I have no decent place to keep a kid warm or to milk little Miss Nanny Goat.  Fortunately she is content enough with Mr. Jerry the Llama (that name still kills me……) and he is happy with her as well.  Soon I’ll have to have him gelded (castrated) since he is about 2 now and on the brink of “maturity”.  I don’t want him attempting to breed a certain tiny goat when she goes into heat (yes, they do try…..that’s why they say to geld them if you want to use them as guard llamas).

Therefore, I need a barn.  Not a huge barn, but a barn big enough to shelter some goats and a llama and have a spot for milking when the time comes.  Because eventually, I’d like to have enough that I can milk them and make cheese.  Mmmmm yummy goat cheese.

Rather than attempt to clear out enough flat land (HA!  As if we had any real flat land here – we’d have to flatten it with equipment) to raise a barn I am thinking it would be easier and wiser to buy a larger property that already has a barn on it, or at least an outbuilding of some sort suitable for my needs.  A plus would be if that property came with an old farm house.  Something with history, and if it has things that are falling apart or in need of replacement it will be from age rather than sloppy craftsmanship.

Of course I am in no real position to do this right now, given the state of the economy and the housing market.  I’m just giving y’all a heads up (notice the southern thing there?  Even a true blue yankee like me can’t help it once in a while).

One thing I WILL be doing soon if I can manage it is working on my hen to rooster ratio.  My one Rhode Island Red hen, Mabel (above) , has been giving me an egg roughly every other day since Sunday.  I re – homed all of our Barred Rock Roosters except one – he who was formerly called “Jemima” (our other RIR hen, Nellie, is very much attached to him) and Emily has been calling “Jemi-Man” (I call him Jim).  Today I put “Jim” and Nellie into the pen out back with Mabel and her main man, Barry.  Hopefully I can order some chicks for the spring so we’ll have more girls.  The bad part is that the earliest chicks available to order right now are delivered in March – that means no eggs until end of next summer from them.

This whole egg thing is killing me, people.


Anyway…..lest you think I’ve been shuffling about complaining and bitching all day (tempted to, but no) I will say that I did a whole lotta cleanin’ (not nearly enough with these kids!) and I am working on some holiday type stuff.  I’ll let you in all all of that next time, once I’ve gotten a bit more done and I have better pictures.  Just know that I’ve been using a lot of ideas from The Alabama Stitch Book. I looooove it!