Friday, September 28, 2012

Piling It On Deep

Finally, I can tell you all about a secret I've been keeping. I'm semi, quasi, sorta gonna be famous! In chicken circles that is. I am featured in this months issue of Chickens Magazine! 

What you didn't know there was a Chickens Magazine? Well there is. I've actually read this publication for quite a while and in the November/December issue on your feed store newsstands right now is an article entitled Piling It On Deep all about the deep litter method of chicken coop maintenance which I use in my coop and I'm quoted prominently.Talk about being a big fish in a small pond, and wow how's that for a mixed metaphor?

The writer, Cherie Langllois read my blog posts about the great bear massacre and also some of my posts on a chicken forum and contacted me to ask for an interview. She was so nice when we spoke on the phone and it was really fun to talk about my girls and Silent Bob. 

Now back to my regularly scheduled programing after my brush with poultry fame.

Until next time,

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Mission Accomplished

I just returned from San Diego where I got in some precious cuddle time with baby Paige. It's a tough job but some one has to do it!

Just look at those big blue eyes, don't you just want to melt? Well maybe you don't but I do and I know you can't blame me. She is such a good natured baby that she didn't even object when we dressed her up to take some picture for her Aunt Jody who provided the bows. Aunt Jody loves the bling and Paige looks fabulous!

Until next time,

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Master Food Preserver or Doomsday Prepper

Master Food Preserver or Doomsday Prepper you decide.

I've enrolled in the local offering of UC Davis Extension classes to become a Master Food Preserver so for the foreseeable future my Tuesday mornings will be spent learning the approved methods for safe and certifiable food preservation. My youngest son asked me if he needed to worry that we might be building a bunker in the back yard and stocking it with questionable canned goods like 50 jars of possum. I assured him that I just had a notion that it might be a good idea to learn the science and safety behind the canning and drying and curing I've already been doing.

Injecting brine into a pork loin
The first class I attended was on cheese making and involved ricotta. Easy, peasy and delicious. Next up was deli meats, something I had no real interest in but as it turned out I came away with the knowledge I need to make my own pastrami and corned beef if I get a hankering. The best part about this is that at the end I will take a test to be certified as a master food preserver and will be able to sell my wares at farmers markets or maybe win a ribbon at the county fair.

This will be smoked and become Canadian bacon
This week was vinegars, catchup and chutneys. Now that class was delicious from beginning to end. I'll keep you posted on my progress. Have any of you taken an extension course, what has your experience been.

Until next time,

Friday, September 21, 2012

Chili Rellenos Casserole

'The girls' as we affectionately call our hens are laying which means seven to nine eggs a days. That's a lot of eggs piling up. Some go down the road to my son's family, some go to friends and soon I will be selling some but I still need to find ways to use eggs. I was looking through my original new brides recipe box and came across this recipe for Chili Rellenos.

Let's go back a minute and examine that last sentence. Back when I was a young bride almost 45 years ago it was common practice to ask bridal shower guests to bring a recipe card to the party to fill a recipe box for the new homemaker. I still have that box and for many, many years it was my go to recipe resource for tried and true, sure to please family food. 
 Food Network may have taken over this function for the modern bride but it sure is fun to look back through those recipe cards, each written in a different hand and remember the women who wrote down their favorite recipe for me. Most of the women who wrote those cards are passed away. Mothers, Aunts and Sisters I will never see in this life again but who will always be remembered through their food.

Cousin Dorothy's Chili Rellenos
serves 4

1 4 oz can of Ortega Chilies
1 sml can tomato sauce
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups of taco cheese (mix of cheddar and jack cheese)
4 eggs separated
1 can evaporated milk
1 tbsp flour

Mix chilies, cheeses and beans in a greased 8" square pan.

 Separate eggs. Beat whites until stiff and set aside.
Mix flour, milk and yolks together. 
Fold whites into yolk mixture, don't worry too much just make sure they blend together. Pour over chilies and cheese in grease pan. 

 Dribble with tomato sauce. 
Bake for 1 hour at 350*

 As you can see I cut the recipe in half from the original because there's just two of us and added black beans to up the nutrition. 

Until next time,

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

River is Growing

River's eyes are still blue at 11 weeks.
 It been three weeks now since we brought River home and she's settling in as a member of the family really well. Shadow was a little miffed for about a day but as soon as she figured out that this little fur ball was not leaving she seemed resigned to the inevitable and accepted that River was here to stay. Shadow has been patience itself which I know a lot of dogs would not be. River is constantly pestering her to play and Shadow will wrestle with her and play tug and chase and wrestle again until they're both tired out. Sometimes I can tell that Shadow is getting aggravated and I have to give River a little time out in her crate just to give Shadow a break!
Sharing a bone!
 River got sick the second week she was here and scared us half to death. It turned out she had giardia,  heaven knows where she picked that up. Probably from all the wild animals big and small that traipse across our property. She needed a round of medication and a special diet and didn't feel well for several days but she bounced back and now is right as rain.

Sharing a nap.
Crate training is going well and she now spends the night in her crate without complaint and nap time too. If you haven't crate trained a dog I can highly recommend it. It only takes a couple of days and makes potty training and night time so much easier. All my dogs love their crate and hang out there, it's their safe place. In an emergency I can tell them to go to jail and they hop in where they are safe and secure.

There are a few drawbacks to having a puppy in the house. She is exuberant and loves to play even when I may be asleep. This is what happens when puppy paws make contact with a sleeping person. Ouch!

We started River's puppy classes last night and WE did pretty well. I say we because they're really people classes disguised as puppy training classes. Training us to be good dog parents. Whenever we go anywhere with her people are just amazed at how beautiful she is, she is a looker all right!

Until next time,

Monday, September 17, 2012

Design Wall Monday/BOM Catch Up

With all the activity this summer it should come as no surprise that I've fallen behind on my Memories of Provence BOM. This was my test to remain disciplined enough to keep up and I'm determined to pass the challenge! I know that if I let these blocks languish for too long this project will become another UFO and that I Do Not need. With that goal in mind I buckled down and put together blocks seven and eight and now I'm back on track!

Bock #7
Block #7 on point
 In the actual quilt the blocks are going to be set on point and it's just amazing to me how the whole block changes just by rotating it. I love the on point set and use it a lot. It used to be intimidating to me but now that I have the hang of those setting triangles it really is a snap and makes even simple blocks look somehow more complicated. What about you? Do you use on point a lot or stay away from it? 

Block #8
Block #8 on point
 Linking to Patchwork Times, go see all the beautiful inspiration.

Until next time,

Thursday, September 13, 2012

It's a Wonderment

 My husband is retired. Need I say more? Chris has been retired now for exactly three months and we have done more squabbling in these three months than in the the previous three years! Not fighting just fussing. I'm shocked I tell ya. I thought that the two of us were two of the most compatible people you ever could meet and I still think so. I was sure that this transition to full time togetherness would be a breeze and I do love seeing him during the day. But... we have hit a bump in the road working out when to "help" each other with our various projects and plans and when to leave each other to our own devices. It's been a growth opportunity in a long and loving marriage.

Isn't life a surprise sometimes? I am always amazed at the unexpected challenges that pop up. It's never the stuff I expect but the little things that present me with that let's stop and think about this moment. Over the course of these three months we've managed to figure out a new routine with Wednesday as my 'untouchable' day to spend however I like - quilt guild, sewing, lunch with friends, whatever. I'm not available for projects or problems on Wednesdays. That frees him up too and gives us both a little room. Of course that doesn't mean I won't be doing things without him any other day of the week. Thursday is Sewing for Vets day for instance. It's working for us and the other six days a week I'm more than happy to spend with my best friend.

Is your spouse retired or maybe working from home? How do you make room and come together?

Until next time,

Monday, September 10, 2012

Design Wall Monday/Autumn in the AIr

Not on my design wall but on the wall in my living room to celebrate what I hope is the upcoming change in season, is this quilt designed by me simply titled Autumn. I love this one for several reasons. It's the first quilt I made completely on my own without a pattern, just sewing fabrics together and figuring out how to put them together as I went. It was Super Bowl Sunday 2000 when I first started cutting squares from a bag of "ugly" scraps I had won at a guild Christmas party. Boy, how the girls laughed when I opened up that turkey prize! There were ohs and ahs in June when I showed them the finished quilt, I'm really proud of having turned what many considered ugly into what I consider lovely. 
If you look closely you can see peacock feathers, cowboy stars, corn husks and Lord knows what else! It just goes to prove that we can make anything work because it's not about print so much as about color and value. I had so much fun working on this, figuring out a border, using what I had in my stash and not buying one piece of fabric for the front or back. One of my favorites for sure.

Do you have a quilt that just shouldn't work but somehow does?

Until next time,

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Bailey's Irish Creme Cake

Has this summer been as crazy busy for you as it has been for me? Wow, who said retirement was lazy? Most, in fact all of the summer has been taken up with fun stuff involving family interspersed with chores that just could not be put off and I feel like a lot has been accomplished but still...

While the brothers were here I made this cake and meant to tell you about it but just haven't had the time. It was just yummy, not just yummy but super yummy! Don't skip the sauce cuz the whole reason for the cake is the sauce.  If you just make the sauce and serve it over vanilla ice cream I won't tell on you, in fact that's what I'm doing today. I'm making ice cream ( remember when we did that? So easy ) and serving with some of this sauce. Chris is gone for the weekend on a State Search and Rescue training exercise so no one will know if I have ice cream for lunch or dinner or both, right?

Bailey's Irish Creme/Whiskey Cake
Adapted from The Cake Mix Doctor Returns by Anne Byrn
Preheat oven to 350
12 cup bundt pan or equivalent, spray with vegetable oil spray and dust with flour.
Sprinkle chopped nuts in bottom of the pan and set aside.

1 pkg plain yellow cake or vanilla cake mix
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1 sml pkg vanilla instant pudding ( I used cheese cake flavor)
4 large eggs
3/4 cup Bailey's Irish Creme (I didn't have enough so I added Irish whiskey to make 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water

Combine cake mix, pudding, eggs, liqueur, oil, and water in a large bowl. Beat on low to just combine and then increase speed and beat for about 2 minutes until well combined. Pour over nuts in pan, smooth top and place in oven.
Bake cake for about 45 minutes or until thetop springs back when lightly pressed with finger.

Glaze ( this can be a bourbon sauce just as easily or use any other liqueur to change the flavor)
1 stick butter (not margarine)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup Baileys Irish creme ( like I said, I used Irish whiskey)

While cake bakes make the glaze. Place butter, sugar  in medium saucepan. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer and stirring constantly let simmer for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add liqueur.

Cool cake for 10 to 15 minutes. Invert cake onto a serving plate with a rim. Using a skewer, poke hole in the top of the cake. Spoon glaze slowly over the top of the cake. Allow the cake to absorb the hot glaze, scoop it off the plate and re-pour over the top so more can be absorbed. Now you're ready to slice, oh my!

Until next time,

Friday, September 7, 2012

What I've Learned

The number one thing I've learned is how kind and generous all my internet friends are in sharing their knowledge! Wow, everyone has been so helpful. Thank you all so much!

The next thing I've learned much to my sorrow is nothing in life is really free, almost but not really. I just didn't give picture storage must thought going into this blog thing. Frankly I don't know what I was thinking, but now my eyes are open and I hope you all can learn from my misstep. There is a limited amount of FREE storage offered on your blogger account. If you are using Wordpress or some other service for your blogging look into how they handle photo storage. In order to take advantage of the maximum amount of that FREE storage it's a good idea to down size your photos before you upload them to your blog. Some people suggest 500 pixels on the long side some 800. Whichever you choose most photos will upload at and astounding 2000 pixels or more so you can see how you can reach that storage limit pretty quickly.

It was suggested that I delete some photos from my Picasa albums to make room and downsize from now on. When I tried that it removed the photos from the blog as well leaving a hole in past posts! Not a pretty sight and not what I want to present to the world. I think I have decided to purchase more storage going forward and from now on down size my photos so that I can get away with the minimum purchase plan.

On the plus side I have learned to reduce the size of my photos in two different programs, Picasa and Photo Scape and how to watermark them too! Thanks everyone for all your encouragement and help. We all live and learn!

Paige says, "Hi, I'm 2 months old!"
Until next time,

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I've Been Missing

I've been missing in blogland and there's a reason besides the obvious requirements of a new puppy and life in general. I'm new to this blogging thing and when I jumped in I blithely assumed after some research that I was all set to blog away as long as I had an internet connection and something to say. It turns out that that may not be so.

You may notice that there are no pictures with this post and that's the bump in the road that has me stumped right now. This post by Connie at Freemotion by the River got me thinking and then gave me a scare!  I have no picture storage left according to Picasaweb!  What does this mean for you and me and this blog? It means I won't be able to post any pictures until I figure this out and a blog without pictures is nothing at all in my opinion. I'm so naive that I just thought I could blog and stuff without any special skills - now I have to take a crash course in Photoshop or some such - the Blogging for Dummies book never mentioned this AT ALL!

Until next time,