Thursday, December 31, 2015

Winter Wonderland 2015

I thought I'd squeeze in one last post for 2015.  As I write this, it's 11:30 p.m. One half-hour to go before 2016 starts. My son wanted to stay up until midnight and he asked me to stay up with him.

We've been snacking, watching "6teen," and playing a bit of MarioKart. Currently my son is playing his new Animal Crossing "New Leaf" game. I guess something exciting is going to happen at midnight on the game. I've been working on the Harvest Cardigan by Tin Can Knits.

These photos were taken much earlier this week.  Temps were 30 degrees F out and everything was SO pretty.  It truly was a winter wonderland outside. Then the weather switched and it's been dreary out and in the teens. The winter has been very mild so far.  I feel as though we just have to make it through January and the rest of the winter will be a cakewalk.  I know this isn't true, merely wishful thinking.

*sigh* It is so pretty out here.

2015 has been a wonderful year for me. I expect 2016 will be kind to me as well.

Happy New Years, everyone!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

I'm now on Bloglovin

In the last few months I've learned how easy it is to follow blogs on Bloglovin.  I decided to add my own blog to the network. 

Follow my blog with Bloglovin


Monday, December 21, 2015

If we were having coffee ...

I subscribe to The Perpetual Page-Turner blog and she had a post titled "If we were having coffee together." I thought to myself "What a clever idea." This type of blog post is for when I have a lot of little things I want to share.

Cup I purchased from a coworker. She made it!

 So, grab your coffee/beverage of your choice. I've got Earl Grey decaf in my cup. One of these days I'll actually take a photo of myself holding a cup of coffee for these posts. ... One day. ...

If we were having coffee ... I'd probably tell you, in a very excited voice, that I'm *finally* on the long-awaited two-week vacation that I put in for back in June or July. When last Friday rolled around, I was watching the clock and doing the mental countdown. When it was finally time to say "See ya!" it didn't feel quite real. The weekend went by in a blur and now I'm in the downswing to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I'd ask you what your Christmas plans are. Are you going anywhere or hosting Christmas this year. This year Christmas celebrations will be at my MIL's. I'll be honest, I don't know if I should be relieved or bummed out. This is the first year I put up decorations other than the Christmas tree. But it is also nice to have a break from hosting, eh, every so often.

If we were having coffee ... I'd tell you about what sometimes seems like a never ending thing, but I know it's time well spent. Even though we are on vacation my husband and I are still working on the splitting wood project. Today we split and stacked one whole cord of wood in less than two hours. My husband swears up and down that I did a fantastic job of stacking this wood on the pallet. I told him I think he's telling me that so I won't complain about stacking the wood. He walked over to me, said that wasn't true, and gave me a kiss.

If we were having coffee ... I'd tell you how cool it was to have someone tell me they read about Mr. Turkey, when I was out in the wilds of my hometown. Seriously, I think I got this cheese-eating grin on my face when the person said they'd never seen a turkey that big. It's also really neat to see people are sharing Mr. Turkey's story with friends and coworkers. I'd probably ask you if you've read the blog entry or seen the pictures I posted of the whole process of making this turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. If you haven't seen the blog entry, here it is. If you haven't guessed, I'm very proud of this endeavor.

I'd also tell you how my husband and I have been given another turkey. He's acclimated to the coop fine. Though I do think him and our head Roo, Skips, had a bit of a tussle. In any case, everyone seems to be okay with the new bird in the coop. He's just a bit younger than our Mr. Turkey. We aren't sure how long we will keep this new guy.

If we were having coffee ... I'd probably blather about the little bit of coloring I did the other night. I haven't done much coloring since late summer, having turned my attention to cranking out dishcloths and the various bits of sewing I was doing.

This page came out of a book by Karla Dornacher. I completed it in about 45 minutes or so. Then I discovered the pages aren't perforated. So I'm not sure how I'll take it out of the book.

I've been doing a little bit of other crafting, but not a whole lot. I cranked out so many dishcloths for my work's craft sale that I am pretty much set for dishcloths for a good long while. I've been working on a stripy sock and am ready to decrease for the toe. I've also sloowly been working on a skirt for myself. I've been sewing it a bit at a time. I want to do everything right on it. So no rushing through it. Another reason for not getting much done, crafting-wise, has been the whole getting ready for Christmas bit. I'd ask you if you've been doing anything with your hobbies. Is there anything you are feeling particularly happy about?

If we were having coffee ... I'd squee and let you know that the first gardening catalog came in the mail today.

 At the start of Fall I started daydreaming of what I'd like to do in the yard and garden next spring and summer. Grand plans of delusions, I sometimes call them. I have to think creatively, since we have the ladies. The ladies always seem to go right where I don't want them to be. I'm very lucky to have a husband who indulges me when it comes to this sort of thing. 

If we were having coffee ... I'd sigh and tell you about my reading escapades, or somewhat lack there of. ... I had about an hour left of the "Crewel" audiobook I was listening to. Then it expired on me. Again. For whatever reason, my mind just hasn't been on the audiobooks. The last month or so I think my mind has been craving quiet, if that makes any sense. The other audiobook I was listening to, sort of, was "Floors." I grabbed it from the library shelf, thinking my son would enjoy it. I don't know if it's the story, or the reader, or the combination of both. None of us are feeling it. No kidding, I played the first disc when my husband was in the car and he fell asleep. "Floors" will go back to the library as soon as I get there.

I still haven't touched "Westing Game." It is sitting my bedside table. My insomnia seems to be back. Now that I don't have to be getting up for work the next 10 days or so I'll be reading it before bedtime, I think. Too much stuff going on during the day for me to sit down with it. Next year I plan on making a serious dent on my kindle. As soon as I'm ready for audiobooks again I'll be blasting through those during my commutes. I'd ask you about what you are reading and if you have any recommendations. I'm always open to book suggestions. 

If we were having coffee ... I'd tell you that even though I don't do New Year resolutions, I am giving serious thought to things I'd like to change in the upcoming year. I'm not sure how much I will actually get accomplished. I do know I'd like to get a bit more organized on some personal stuff. I've been reading a lot out in the blogosphere lately and a lot of what I've been seeing is people talking about organization and binders. I'm not exactly sure what's in these binders. But it is on the mental list of things I'd like to get figured out. Wish me luck! I'd ask you if there is anything you want to work on in 2016, or if you have any resolutions or goals. 
I also want to get back in to the swing of blogging more consistently. I really do miss writing. I say this frequently and then I don't write for a month. I really want to start carving some time out for me to write. I haven't decided if I want to try a schedule or just write. I'd ask you for your opinion. Set up a schedule or just write when I have the urge? 

I have a whole slew of things turning over in my brain. And I wonder why I can't sleep through the night? Right?

This may be my last entry for the year 2015. I haven't decided yet. Actually, I've been trying to be off the computer during my vacation and I've spent a lot of time on the laptop tonite.  I've been a good girl and haven't been on any social media since Saturday morning. No shakes either!

If this is the last one for the year I'd like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas (Or whichever holiday you celebrate) and a fantastic start to the new year. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

That's some turkey!

This is a tale of Mr. Turkey.

This is our second year with turkeys. We raised two last year and were so pleased with the results that we decided to do it again this year.

We got Mr. Turkey this spring as a young chick and cared for him all summer. After I got ready to write this blog entry I realized I didn't take many pictures of the birds this summer, which is a shame because this bad boy became semi-famous this weekend.

I'll be honest, I'm not really sure what to write about raising him over the summer, except he was well-taken care of and he loved being a part of the chicken flock. We raised him with the chicks we got this spring, so as far as he knew he was just a big chicken.

Halfway through the summer he came into his own and started doing the displaying turkeys are famous for. He was extremely camera shy so it took a while before I was able to get him on video.

The video above shows how big he is next to chickens the same age.

This video shows him gobbling for all his worth.

Okay, now we get to the heart of this story.

If you haven't guessed, we raised the turkey for our Thanksgiving meal. A couple weeks ago it was decided to celebrate Thanksgiving on Saturday this year. Family was coming out of town and the more the merrier.

Thanksgiving day we set out the big pot, I snapped a picture and posted it to Facebook. This was the beginning of a story for many people on my friend list.

As soon as the photo was shared, many people knew what would be coming and were eager to hear the details, post-processing. No nitty-gritty details, cause I'm nice that way.

A lot of people on my friend's list would love to be able to live a farm-type lifestyle but are unable to, for one reason or another. So they enjoy when I write and share about all the farm-life type things.

Processing was fairly quick. From the time we set out the pot, till the the end, it took under an hour.

When he was all cleaned up we pulled out the kitchen scale weighed him. The turkey dressed out at just under 50 pounds. 

Yup, you read that right. A 50-pound, homegrown, farm-fresh turkey for Thanksgiving. He was measured and it was determined we'd need a roasting pan at least 21" by 13."

That's when I started panicking a bit. The "big" roasting pan wasn't going to cut it. It was 15" by 10" and was good for a bird not much bigger than 30 pounds. Here we are, a couple days from D-Day, and I didn't have time to order anything online.

Both of us hit the Internet and started doing research on how to cook a bird this size. If people are cooking birds this big, very few of them are actually writing about it.

Meanwhile, I was posting updates on Facebook and people were throwing out ideas on how to cook this big bird. Some people nicknamed him Turkeyzilla.

We knew we didn't want to cut the turkey up. We weren't even sure what we'd use for cutting if we decided to go that route.

I tried thinking creatively and thought a steam table pan could be used, but they aren't big enough. The disposable foil pans aren't big enough. We even thought about deep frying the turkey. Turns out the pots for deep frying turkey's aren't very big. Then, I thought I had the solution: A nesco roaster.

Nope, *still* not big enough to hold the turkey.

It was decided we would go shopping on Friday and look at what was actually in the stores. When it got right down to it, trying to find stuff on online websites wasn't working out.

Friday, we got up bright and early to go shopping for chicken feed. The Fleet Farm down in Rice Lake had a Black Friday special. We hit Walmart first thing and checked out the pots and pans.

We found some *huge* Nordic Ware cookie sheets. I think they are a three-quarter sheet. We knew we found the "base" for our roasting pan. Then we found a roasting pan a smidge bigger than our current roasting pan, and it had a roasting rack which would hold the bird up a bit higher than a typical rack. It also allowed the bird to hang over a bit so we wouldn't need to try and squish the bird into a small space.

Once we arrived back home we started setting things up. After all my reading the night before, I knew I'd need to start cooking Friday evening for a Saturday meal.

We put an over-sized piece of aluminum foil on the cookie sheet. Then put the roasting pan on the cookie sheet and loaded the bird onto the rack. I stuffed the turkey with four boxes of stuffing. I could have easily done six boxes and still had room for more.

My husband trussed up the turkey, and then he and I each grabbed a size of the cookie sheet and placed the turkey into the oven.

It just barely fit, side-to-side. The neck is touching on one side and the legs are hitting the wall on the other side. There wasn't a lot of room between the bird and the top of the oven.

I never dreamed we'd be cutting it so close.

After making sure it fit in the oven we draped the turkey in bacon, to help with basting. I read in a few places about basting with bacon during a slow cook, to keep the skin moist. The bird was covered in foil, the oven was set for 165 degrees Fahrenheit and turned on. This was about 6 p.m.

Saturday morning, at about 7 a.m. my husband turned the oven up to 200 or 250 degrees Fahrenheit, then about 10 a.m. we turned the heat up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and checked on it at noon. By this time I was able to put a second rack in the oven and get a few other things for our meal going. The turkey was in the oven about 18 hours.

At about 2 p.m. we pulled the bird out and admired it. No kidding, we all pretty much stood around it and went "Wow, that's a BIG bird." It took two men to pull the turkey out of the oven. They had to be very careful so they didn't spill any goodness or tip the turkey over.

P.S. The bacon tasted AWESOME! One person remarked about how it should be the *only* kind of turkey bacon allowed.

Then we had to figure out how to get the bird out of the pan so I could get the turkey drippings and make gravy. One person thought we could just carefully tip the pan, until they actually tried lifting just one side of the pan.

Thankfully I have two big platters and we lifted the turkey and placed it on one. The turkey just barely fit onto the platter.

Here is my husband and I with the turkey. My SIL insisted a picture should be taken of us with the bird.

After we all admired the bird we carved the turkey up and ate dinner.

The flavor of the meat is indescribable. The meat was also incredibly tender and juicy.

Once the meal was over we did the typical "here, you take leftovers for home" bit.  I might have been a little aggressive on that. Even with eight people eating their fill of turkey and me foisting leftovers one everyone ("Are you sure you don't want more?") we still had enough turkey leftover that is more than what people usually start out with.

This morning, after ignoring my kitchen for the evening I set to taking care of the leftovers.

The stockpot got filled with some of the turkey bones. There simply wasn't enough room for them all. I thought this stock pot was *SO* big. I purchased it so I could waterbath on the stove. Pulling it out of the cupboard to use I thought "This suddenly isn't so big."

My husband cleaned the carcass a bit and left me a huge slab of meat to cut up and pressure can.

Before cutting up I knew I better take a picture, with a ruler. Otherwise, no one would believe how big it was. It was 12 inches long.

The base of the meat was easily five inches wide.

At the time of my writing this I have a pot of turkey stock that still needs to be taken care of so I don't know how much stock I actually have.  

I have 10 pints of meat cooling and a mess of turkey I decided I wasn't going to process or freeze.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The gales of November are upon us ...

Last week the wind switched.  It rained, the wind blew and it was just plain icky out.

This was last Tuesday. I stopped at the grocery store after work to pick something up for supper. The weather was downright depressing.  The cold and dampness got bone-deep, thanks to the wind gusts.

On Wednesday the weather switched and the sun came out.  It was BEAUTIFUL out.  Temps were almost in the 60s F. 

I had to run around the house and take pictures of the outside. 

I threw open ALL the windows in the house and exchanged the air.  *sigh* It was so lovely.  I even took advantage of the nice weather and mucked out the coop over my lunch hour. The chickens and turkey got to stretch their legs for a bit. 

Then the wind changed and the weather turned yet again.

And now we've a bit of snow on the ground at the homsestead.  No snow in town.

I've been waking up to frost on the car. 

Goodbye 50 F degree temps.  It was nice knowing you.

Thanksgiving is in just a few days. Once again, the month is going way too fast. Tomorrow is my last day of work for the week. My son has the whole week off from school.  Lucky! He's been getting spoiled by his grandma.

Let's see, what else is going on ... Since it got "cold" out we haven't been doing much outside.

I was listening to "Crewel." The audiobook expired before I had a chance to finish it. I've got in on request again. I picked up "Westing Game" from the library today.  My son read it in school and asked me to read it too.  By the time I remembered to get it they finished the book. I also picked up "Floors" to listen in the car.  It was something I grabbed off the shelf and so far is family friendly.  I forgot how much I dislike morning radio. It was nice to have a story to listen to during the afternoon drive.

For all I read and listen too, my GoodReads TBR list isn't getting smaller. 

This week I got an urge to whip up a knit bunny.  I finished him last night.

I added a little color to his cheeks.  It's a trick I learned from another project. Rub a little color pencil onto the yarn.

And it appears I've been smitten by the sewing bug.  Honestly, I had no intention of this happening but I reckon that when you get a good machine and it's a dream to sew, you suddenly want to sew all the things.

I used a walking foot for the first time.  I felt so cool using something other than the all-purpose foot. When I got my machine my DH ordered me a set of feet to go with it. I had to look on YouTube to see how to use it.

I am a sewer. Hear me rawr!
 Last weekend I attempted to make a maxi skirt and it turned out not as expected.  It's a strictly around the house skirt. You will never see pics of it, unless I decide to rip it apart and try again. It is super comfy.  There is no doubt about it. 

So, I posted my woes about it on my Facebook account and received LOTS of encouragement to keep trying.

Earlier this week I drove to a local fabric place and picked out some patterns and fabric to work with.  I'm excited and nervous because fabric was cheaper the last time I tried making skirts and dresses. I also am a complete newbie when it comes to the different types of fabrics.

Thanks to one of my knitter friends I am slowly learning about fabrics and what is meant for what. 

When I was looking at fabrics I was completely overwhelmed by all the options available and knowing that I didn't know what some of the fabrics were used for. 

I don't typically buy willy nilly.  I must have a project in mind.  My friend told me what type of fabrics were good for each of these patterns and I tried to shop accordingly. 

My friend suggested I hold off on this pattern for now.

Here and there I've been doing reading online about sewing clothes and learning why people opt to make their own clothing.  Making your own clothes is *not* cheap. When you start really thinking about what has to happen in order for you to get the "cheap" off-the-rack clothing, it really makes you stop and think, and develop a real appreciation for what goes into it all.  It's sort of like when you raise your own livestock and grow your own produce. Doing this stuff yourself costs so much more, yet you get so much more out of it. You are also keeping certain skills alive.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

First snow of the year

Friday we got our first snow fall of the year.  It did not make for a very happy me.  I don't want snow until after Thanksgiving.  Then it can be gone by January 15.

Saturday morning we woke up to pretty white snow all around.  My coworker texted me to say there was no snow by the big lake.

Since snow fell I decided it was time to put the wreath up on the door.  It dresses up our new screen door nicely.

I spent a big chunk of Saturday working on crafty stuff and started listening to a new book, "Crewel" So far I'm really liking it.  I'm also impressed my DH has no concerns that I might possibly want a loom after all this fiber talk of spinning and weaving.

Today we woke up to some decent temps for November.  The snow melt was *pouring* off the roof.  And now there is almost no snow remaining in my yard.  The bright flash in the picture is the sun.  I was hoping the flash wouldn't' be as intense in the photo.  You can make out the drops of water coming off the roof.

I took a quick little video so people could hear the melt coming off the roof.

Since I was actually carrying my phone around with me today I took a couple more videos.

I have tried to describe the sound a hen makes when she's in the nesting box and is trying to warn you away. Oh this girl was *not* happy.  

It was not as dark as the video is making it out to be.  A few of the ladies thought I had treats because I had the phone in my hand.

And speaking of Mr. Turkey.  The countdown to Thanksgiving has started. He isn't aware of anything, of course.  He's had a good life and he's currently being pampered and told what a handsome boy he is. It really is a shame he never got a girlfriend.