Thursday, January 31, 2013

Re-purposing is a Farm-ily Affair.

(Pardon the 'redecorating' - Blogger seems to have a mind of its own lately.  Blue does seem appropriate for February, though.)

Behold the Christmas tree!  Sheep and goats love pine.  They love to nibble the needles.  They love to chew the bark.  I give them a regular helping of tree trimmings, but this year each group got its own tree!  This is what is left of the sheep's tree.  Once they've finished with it, it goes into the wooded part of the lot as small animal habitat.  Yes, I am a chipmunk enabler. 

Chipmunk, shipmunk.  Let's talk about my cool camouflage!
Finishing off a few branches.
 The goats don't seem to mind the snow, but hate rain.  They take rain very personally.  They also don't get much exercise in the winter, as all they want to do is eat.  Sound familiar?  I do try to run around and get them going every once in a while.  Mostly, I am afraid that I will fall and lie there on my back in the snow like a turtle, clad in sixteen layers, zipped into a one piece Carhart insulated jumpsuit - undiscovered until spring.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Holmes had Moriarty. I have February.

It was pointed out to me (by my conscience in Arkansas) that it's not fair that I censure my musings.  True.  It wasn't fair - but I DID give you cute goat pictures/pictures of my cute goats. 

A few facts:  I live in upstate New York, a wintry area December - March.  I live here on purpose.  I like winter, although I am finding I spend a lot more time in recent years trying to convince myself I do.  And I find that I like winter most when I a) don't have to drive in it; b) don't have to go outside too often; c) don't have to deal with water buckets, heated or not; d) don't have to wear six layers of clothes.  Even when the sun is out (such as it is, poor weak thing), so much of my body surface is buried under layers of silk, wool and down (in that order) that I get no benefit from the natural source of D3.  Just to reinforce the fact that I just may be out of my mind, I plan on one more move and it's probably going to be...north.  Yes, that's right.  Lock me up.

I am fully in mid-February funk.  In January.  It's like funk jacked up.  I have been staring at my seed catalogs without opening them.  I have my garden graph all ready for the Big Plans for Spring.  Nada.  It's been too cold to walk the dogs.  I hate my commute.  I have had murderous thoughts concerning one female Guinea hen.  My fuel bills are astronomical.  My income is not.

Okay, that was cathartic.  Now that I've thoroughly depressed the lot of you, let's look for something sunny in all of this.  February.  Hmmm.  Valentine's Day!  Oh, right.  NOT.  It's a short month!  Okay, that's better.  Then it's Farch!  So-so, on the good news.  The egg count is up - I now average about 4 a day, instead of two.  Not that that makes a dent in paying the feed bill, but it's something.  (Think good thoughts.  Think good thoughts.)  After Farch is April!  There we go!  It's very easy, when you only have dogs to converse with, to drop into the doldrums.  I am not a happy camper when I am forced to remain inside for days (and that includes being inside my car and inside my office).  I chafe, I winge, I whine (obviously).  And I tend to think that all liquid consumed should contain a mild sedative - Irish Coffee anyone?  All kidding aside, by February, I am my own worst enemy.  There is a lot to do inside - I did finish painting the living room, but I need to tear up the carpet and re-floor it, then there's finishing the guest bathroom (which only has taken six years), start on the master bath, skirt about 50 fleeces, sell my floor loom, organize every room, etc., etc.  Instead, I knit.  A lot.  Which, in turn, has greatly aggravated the arthritis in my hands.  Oy.  I used to bake for therapy and now I don't.  This is a good thing, as I've lost 15 pounds - which is in jeopardy because of February.  I crave comfort and it usually involves cheese.  Sigh.

So, aren't you glad my Conscience in Arkansas guilted me into this post?  (You know who you are...)  But, just as Holmes always bested Moriarty and came out on top, so will I emerge from February (is it over yet?), tattered but intact.  Hanging onto my sense of humor by my fingernails.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Monday Musings.

My musings of late would not be fit for publication, so I give you the goaties.  You will notice that they are 'fluffy', too.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Soup Sunday

I bring you - once again - the "M" word.  Miso.  An ingredient not found in every fridge - but it oughta be.  It lasts for ages and adds such a wonderful something extra to a simple soup!  This is my ultimate comfort food.  It is so darn easy to make and just warms my soul.  You should try it - because I say so.  And even though I am a bossy-pants, I know you love me and will do as I tell you. 

Miso Vegetable Soup
adapted from Eating Well Magazine**
(2 servings)

2 cups plus 3 tablespoons water, divided

2 tablespoons white rice, uncooked
2 cups frozen stir-fry vegetables or frozen mixed vegetables
1 12-ounce package extra-firm tofu, cut into small cubes
2 tablespoons miso*
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon rice vinegar, or to taste
1/2-1 teaspoon sugar, to taste

Bring 2 cups water and rice to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cook until the rice is just tender, 12 to 15 minutes.

Add stir-fry vegetables to the pot, increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Cook until the vegetables are heated through, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes. Add tofu and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Combine miso and the remaining 3 tablespoons water in a small bowl and stir to dissolve. Add the miso mixture, scallions, vinegar and sugar to the soup and stir to combine.

This soup can be made ahead - cool, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

*The color of miso (fermented soybean paste) depends on how long it's aged. In general, the lighter the color, the milder the flavor, so if you have never tried it, go for the white miso. It will keep, in the refrigerator, for more than a year.
  **This is my favorite magazine EVER!  There is something on almost every page that I want to make. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

When saving bits and pieces pays off.


Secondhand ottoman + scavenged casters from old bed frame + scavenged round glass table top = Moveable Coffee Table!

My friend, Sylvie (she of exceptional taste and recent move) gave me this wonderful ottoman.

After some rearranging in my living room (a work still in progress), I found that I needed a coffee table that could be used at either the sofa or the chair-and-a-half.  Hmmm.

(Small watt light bulb goes on)

I rummaged through all the bits and pieces I have scavenged over the years (and have never thrown away - you never know....) and came up with four casters from an old iron bed frame that I recycled.  I also had tucked away a round glass table top that I couldn't bear to part with, although the table fell apart long ago.

Out came the trusty Makita 18V cordless drill - quite luckily, the leg protectors, when pried off, provided a perfectly centered pilot hole for the drill.

Casters were inserted in the legs.

Glass top was placed on top.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Dry Canning. Easy-Peasy.

When you buy dry stores in bulk (oats, lentils, barley, beans), you are sometimes left with storage problems:  creepy-crawlies in your oats...or no room in your freezer.

Black beans, brown lentils, oats, red lentils

I read an article a while back in Countryside Magazine (Sept/Oct 2011?) that described dry canning - and I couldn't believe how easy it was!

Basically, this is what I do:

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.

Take clean, dry quart or half-gallon canning jars and fill them with whatever I am canning.  Put them in a roasting pan, or other high-sided pan.  I do this strictly for ease of getting them in and out of the oven - you can also put them on a cookie sheet.  Once the oven has preheated, put the pan with open, filled jars (NO LIDS) into the oven and close the door.  Leave them in the oven for one hour.  Remove from the oven and, being very careful NOT to burn your fingers, wipe the jar rims quickly with a damp cloth and place clean, dry flats on top of the hot jars and screw on the rings.  Let the jars sit and cool.  As they cool, you may hear the telltale "ping" as they vacuum seal, depending on how quickly it works.  Test for a seal.  That is it.  If a jar does not seal, which happens on occasion, I put that jar to the front to use first.
This way, I can take advantage of a sale at the co-op of 25# of organic rolled oats!  Have I mentioned that I eat a lot of oats?  So far, I have dry canned oats, black beans and lentils.  According to the article, you can oven can:  flours, cornmeal, rice, beans, pasta, dried onions, oatmeal, box cereals, potato flakes, dried vegetables - even some nuts, such as almonds and pecans.  The trick is to make sure the food stuffs are dry (no more than 10% moisture) and do not contain a high level of oil, such as walnuts.  I would imagine that dry milk could be dry canned as well.

It is a great, frugal way of storing food for years.  Try it!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Ewe is fluffy, not fat.

At least that's the story we're sticking to.  I caught the broad side of the blimpos at the feed trough - Icelandics are quite hilarious-looking, I think - zoftic bodies with long, dual-fiber coats on top of tiny little twig legs.  I am actually quite enamored of them.

Sweet Linden on the left, feisty Juno on the right.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Monday Musings.

Why is it that, when there is the glorious prospect of a three-day weekend and all that time off to look forward to, I end up cramming way too much into it and WHAM, it's almost over?  It's that pesky weekend/vacation/holiday time warp - where time morphs into a sprinter and is gone before you know it.  Damn.

Most of my musings of late have had to do with a sort of nostalgic view of community.  I have been talking to my parents and neighbors, both elderly, who have imbued me with their own sense of longing for what was.  Back when there wasn't a subsidy for everything, communities pulled together and helped each other out.  People were not spread so far apart and neighbors were aware of what their neighbors were going through.  It is still true that people who have the least, tend to be the ones who step up first to help.  I've noticed a lot of that sense of community in the blogosphere.  It often takes the shape of prayers, healing thoughts, or what have you, but it also takes on a physical presence as well - an unexpected package in the mail containing a small, handmade gift to cheer the recipient - neither the giver or the receiver ever having actually met.  It's quite a phenomenon.

Not surprisingly, I have always been rebelling.  I was a contrary kid and that didn't change much through my 20s, 30s and well into my 40s.  I still chafe at conformity, but I've learned to pick my battles instead of battling everything.  I rebelled against the war.  I learned a lesson many years ago, the summer between my junior and senior years in high school, when my father signed me up to accompany a busload of city kids from a church group who were going out to the Dakotas to help 'save' the Indians. Long story short, it was the other way around. The Indians saved me. They opened my eyes and showed me what true dignity and compassion was all about.

I still have some very passionate feelings and beliefs that I will defend to the death.  While these days I don't grab a sign and go march in a protest, I do what I can within my daily living to contribute to the cause.  For instance, I will not buy anything from India.  I will not support a country that brutalizes its women.  I try to limit what I buy from China.  I try to recycle and reuse everything I can.  It may be delusion, but I feel that even small acts can make a difference.  Earth Day still means something to me.   I also feel that it is important to be involved in the well-being of your community.  I contribute monthly to our food pantry - which also provides monetary assistance to families for heating oil and other necessities.  There is almost no tax base in this community - no job opportunities, the education level is not great, we are in the middle of Booneyville, so people with limited means are almost trapped here. 

I am hopeful that civility will make a comeback - maybe it will become as retro as tie-dye and distressed denim.  But, when it comes back in style, I hope it's back to stay.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Soup Sunday

If you could wear this soup (other than by accident), it would be like wrapping yourself in a large, warm, soft blanket that your dearest granny knit for you.  Mmm-mm.

Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Soup
(adapted from Allrecipes)

1 medium onion, chopped
1 can chili beans
1 can black beans
1 can whole kernel corn (drained)
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 bottle beer
2 cans diced tomatoes with green chilis, undrained
1 pkg taco seasoning (I used my own combination: cumin/chili/cinnamon/cloves)
3 whole skinless, boneless chicken breasts

shredded Cheddar, sour cream, crushed tortilla chips

Put onion, chili beans, black beans, corn, tomato sauce, beer and diced tomatoes in a slow cooker.  Add taco seasoning, and stir to blend.  Put chicken breasts on top of the mixture, pressing down until just covered by sauce.  Turn cooker on to low heat, cover and cook for 5 hours.

Remove chicken and allow to cool until you can handle them.  Shred and return to soup.  Cover and continue to cook for 2 more hours.  Serve topped with cheese, a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of tortilla chips.

I use my own home-canned beans, corn and tomatoes and add a can of green chilis.  As with most soups, you can make it your own.  This makes a lot and freezes well.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

New Experiences That Aren't Really New.

This week was such a week of 'firsts' (relatively speaking): 

My first movie in an actual theater in over 8 years.  It was one of those 'plexes' and I was surprised at how small the viewing area was.  And how expensive the popcorn was!  I decided to take myself out on a movie date, since waiting for the arrival of a real date would probably post-date the existence of theaters.  And, since it was a date, I opted for non-cholesterol-free popcorn with butter.  So there.  I did choose the smallest size and I did bring water.  I haven't had a soda for ......

as many years until Tuesday!  When I had a diet ginger ale.  Now I remember why I don't drink them.  I burped all afternoon.  And spent a lot of time worrying about the safety of drinking out of a can, took another half hour to locate a straw, then fussed so much with it that I wouldn't be surprised that my next one won't be for another 10 years, if ever. 

Both of these 'new' experiences have made me realize how far out of the mainstream I've swum.  I saw Les Miserables and enjoyed parts of the movie but, for the most part, I spent most of the time at a disconnect.  I was disconnected from the characters, critiqued the singing, wondered why they would cast a boy with a Cockney accent so thick you could have shoveled it as a Parisian urchin, and spent WAY too much time contemplating Hugh Jackman's tongue (before you get any ideas, go see the movie).  This unwillingness on my part to throw myself with abandon into the movie experience bothered me all the way home (an hour round trip, thanks to booneyville living).  Then I realized that I have spent a good 14 years cut off from the arts.  No wonder, I sez to me.  I need to ease myself back in!  And I need to go with an actual date - talking to myself is not as much fun as sharing a whine...

So, I am going to take me to the movies once a month.  Providing, of course, there is anything I want to see. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


I recently had the same problems that a lot of you have mentioned - I could not upload any photographs.  As in all things Google, you have to Google your question to dig through a myriad of problems, questions and issues that are not addressed directly by Google.  There is nothing forthright about signing up for Blogger.  What a surprise to find that I had reached my maximum load of photographic files!  I mean, I am not exactly Ansel Adams with my blog posts.

I spent a frustrating hour trying to work my way through the murky path towards attaining a bigger file.  Not surprisingly, there was a price on it.  Now, mind you, I am not adverse to paying for a service.  But PUHLEEZE, Google, let's shed a little light on it, shall we?  When I went into Picasa Web, the holder of all things blogger photographs, I found that there were at least ten copies of many of my pics in there.  And I did not post them ten times.  This means - to me - that they are artificially padding the album to make sure you run out of space sooner than later.  That, quite frankly, stinks.  They tout Picasa Web as "free" photo sharing on Google.  I think that is misleading.  "Free", in this case, is relative.

You can go into your album on Picasa Web and delete photos.  A disclaimer pops up, telling you that it make take 24 hours to delete it from your album.  I would assume that, if you deleted all the false duplicates, you would have a lot more room "free". 

Kramer does not approve of Google.
It seems a bit low-handed and greedy on their part.  Why not be upfront and let people know that they can have X amount of file space for free (ACTUAL file space) when you create your blog, then you have to pay a nominal monthly amount.  Is it that difficult to be honest?  These are the people who can put a picture of your front yard on the map, so is it that difficult to come up with a way to let folks know their photo album is getting full?  Do they think we'll all flee to another provider of blogs, leaving our reader base behind?  Really?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Monday Musings.

I am so glad that I have practical skills.  I have a heck of a time in winter with my hands, so I go through any number of combinations:  thermal gloves; silk glove liners with thermal gloves; mittens; thermal mittens - you name it, I've tried it.  The best combination seems to be silk glove liners (heavy version) with wool mittens.  So, I just whipped me up some nice, toasty wool mittens!  It also helps, of course, to have an embarrassingly large stash of yarn.

This is my 10th headband/ear warmer.  I'm addicted to cables thanks to Melanie.
It's actually a leaf green and the mittens are bittersweet-ish.  Go figure.
 While I was at it, I also whipped up a nifty little woolen sock for my iPhone.  With an equally nifty little front pocket for its new friend, Bluey.

Bluey is now safe from the Catz.
Wet wool always invokes my childhood in Ohio, right near the southern shore of Lake Erie.  We sure got winters!  We would be swaddled, bundled, wrapped, zipped and buckled into an array of woolen garments (yes, I was a child in the Stone Age before fleece...), then we would catapult out the door and play until we were blue-lipped, our mittens sodden, covering wet, wrinkled fingers - and we would still drag our feet toward home - after the appointed mother on our street gave the "Lunch!" call.  This was usually Mrs. S, as she had a voice that could reach Canada.  I swear we could have stayed out for days in the snow.

As I was schlepping through the slush and muck of our early January thaw yesterday (48 degrees!) trying to find patches of snow in order to pull my hay sled, I was thinking of creating the "Homesteader's Alphabet".  I was actually trying desperately to ignore the incessant clanging of the Guineas...  Here it is:

A is for Animal Husbandry - which you better learn fast
B is for Billy Goats - of which I am glad I ain't got any
C is for Carpentry - a skill which you will develop for better or for worse
D is for Dragging - your sled or your sorry butt out of bed
E is for Energy - you'll need A LOT
F is for Fun - harder to come by than you'd think
G is for Goats - small milking animals that unlatch any gate known to man/woman
H is for Horses - which I wish I had
I is for Ignorant - you may start out that way, but you'll learn fast...
J is for Joy - if this lifestyle doesn't bring it, it's not for you
K is for Kevetching - we don't blame you if you do
L is for Love - I love this lifestyle, no matter what and you better, too!
M is for Manure - learn to love it - you'll be dealing with it 24/7
N is for Numb - as are my fingers as I do chores in winter
O is for Optimism - a necessity in homesteading
P is for Perseverance - you'll need this in a truckload (see O)
Q is for Quiet - Those precious moments when the Guineas are mute
R is for Resilience - Another necessary ingredient (see O and P)
S is for Sleep - which you'll fondly remember
T is for Tired - your normal state of being
U is for Unglamorous - that would be your wardrobe
V is for Vivacity - you may have had it in high school, but 7 years of homesteading will take care of that
W is for Work - 'nuff said
X is for eXcellent food - okay, it's a stretch, but there's nothing like that which you raise yourself
Y is for Yodeling - just checking to see if you made it this far
Z is for Zen - mostly, my life is just that - a rythmn and connection that you can't find in most places.  My little piece of Heaven.  My Little Lucky Farm.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Soup Sundays

Dust off your can opener or reach into the dark recesses of your canning cupboards!  This recipe is a family favorite and is gar-un-teed to warm you from your toesies northward. 

Excuse the oatmeal and red lentils waiting to be dry canned.

Kit's Ski Country Vegetable Soup


2 lbs stewing beef, cut into 1-inch cubes*
1-6 oz. can tomato paste
1-10 oz. can condensed onion soup*
5 Cups water
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 Cups sliced carrots
1 Cup sliced celery
1-1 lb. can green beans*
1-15 oz. can kidney beans
1/2 Cup grated Parmesan cheese

Combine meat and tomato paste in Dutch oven or large, heavy soup pan.  Stir in onion soup, water, salt, basil and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer about an hour and a half, or until the meat is tender.  Add carrots, celery, undrained green beans, and kidney beans.  Continue simmering 30-40 minutes or until all vegetables are tender.  Stir in Parmesan cheese.

*Things I have changed when needed:  Ground beef also works.  No beef?  Double the bean content - mix and match your beans.  Just mix the tomato paste with the soup, water and herbs.  No canned onion soup to be found?  Use dry onion soup mix and toss in an additional cup of water.  It goes without saying that you can substitute your home-canned green beans, too.  I have even substituted a jar of Dilly beans, but I drained and rinsed them and then added them to the soup with a little extra water as needed.

This soup is even better the second day.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

From blah to Bling!

While I was flinging myself around my living room, ripping things down, taping, sanding, eyes alighted on the dismal little chest that acted as the base for my television and DVD player.  I rooted around in my laundry/tool/feed/gardening/storage room and came up with a small can of paint.

Figuring that we were already suffering through the dust, I also subjected us to paint fumes.  Even Scrappy left the room!  (Note to self:  Next house will have a garage/workshop.)


In its new place:

Monday, January 7, 2013

Monday Musings.

Do doctor's offices consciously put you in an examining room to wait instead of the 'waiting' room?  Why call it a 'waiting' room, when you can't even read the first paragraph of that magazine you've been wanting to get your hands on?  Instead, they shuffle you off to a cold, sterile room with NO magazines (or heat) and leave you there for an eternity, clad in the equivalent of a large paper towel, trying to think warm thoughts.  Maybe they figure you'll be less able to complain about the wait through chattering teeth? 

It's amazing how often I function by rote.  Twice, I have turned onto my mountain road without thinking - only to have to turn around and go the safe route.  The mountain road itself is fairly clear, but the road down the mountain is now treacherous - accentuated by a fatal accident on Christmas Eve.  My mind is often elsewhere (home way ahead of the physical me), or I am arguing with the radio.  Time to tape on the seasonal notation to my dashboard:  WINTER!!  I'll tape it right next to my "BREATHE" note.

I may be enjoying winter a little more this year, thanks to Marianne.  I say this, as I gaze at January's Men in Kilts.

Our family is a small one, and it recently got smaller.  My uncle passed away on New Year's Eve.  He had been ill for a long time, so it was a blessing of sorts, I suppose.  Rest in peace, Big Daddy Uncle.  It got me thinking about my cousins and how interesting it was that we are all spread out over the country, with little contact if any.  I adore my aunt, my mother's sister, and have a very fond memory of the one and only time just the two of us spent together:  my uncle was out of town and I was living on my own, I believe in my late 20s.  My aunt invited me over for dinner - lamb chops!  She loved them, but my uncle did not, so this was a special occasion.  We had the best time!  I spent the night and I awoke the next morning to her beautiful, melodic voice telling me to "rise and shine".  She has the kind of voice you should bottle and open when you need comforting.

My other memory involving that side of the family was from way back.  We were all over at their house when we were kids.  While the adults were doing their adult things, the kids were in the family room poking around for something to do.  Not surprisingly, I took charge - although my cousin was older by 15 minutes, I was the bossy one.  My uncle was a golfer, something alien in our family, so I decided to investigate the anatomy of a golf ball.  My cousin (who was reliable and trustworthy from birth, the rat) had a pen knife.  I made him hand it over and I cut off the covering.  Then I proceeded to start unwinding the rubber band ball.  I am sure you can see where this is going.  Never being known for my patience, I took the knife and sliced through the ball.  And hit the pressurized liquid center, which exploded into my eyes.  Which temporarily blinded me.  Which sent all the cousins and my sisters screaming upstairs for reinforcements.  There was much hysteria, except for my uncle, who calmly led me to the sink and rinsed my eyes.  I was soundly punished and, if I remember it correctly, the self-same cousin (my age almost exactly - born on the same day, 15 minutes before me in another state - and there the similarities ended) spent quite a long time gloating.  I believe he always held it against me that I would snap his plastic pants when we were tots just to torment him.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Soup Sundays

Since Mama Pea is such an inspiration - and the soup she posted last Sunday was DELICIOUS! (Even though I forgot the tomatoes...) - here is my Soup Sundays offering.  It is a beautiful soup, to boot:

Red Lentil Coconut Soup
(stolen borrowed from Kim, who borrowed it and adapted it)

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups red split lentils
1 onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, cored and seeded and cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 fresh jalapeno or Serrano chili, finely chopped (with or without seeds, depending on your tolerance)*
1 tablespoon fresh peeled and minced ginger
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup tomato paste
7 cups water
1 can unsweetened light coconut milk
1-15 oz. can chickpeas
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
fresh cilantro and lime wedges for serving**

Heat the tablespoon of o/o in a dutch oven or large soup pan and add the onions, bell pepper and jalapeno and cook for 5-7 minutes until the vegetables have softened and start to take on some color.  Add the garlic and spices and stir well.  Add the tomato paste, stir well and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes until the mixture is toasty and fragrant.  Add the water, coconut milk, lentils and chickpeas and cook uncovered for 20-25 minutes, adding the lime juice at the end of the cooking time.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Serve the soup topped with a sprinkling of fresh cilantro and some extra limes on the side.

*I used a frozen jalapeno, but I have also used cayenne pepper.
**I rarely have fresh cilantro and, while it's a nice touch, the soup doesn't suffer from the lack of it.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Baby, it's cold outside!

No pictures today!  Too damn cold!  For the second night in a row, the temperatures plummeted below single digits.  When I awoke at 5 this morning, the thermometer showed -10 degrees, and it dropped another degree and a half the next half hour.  My cold-meter is how long Bernice stays out.  She did her business in record time and was bounding back up the steps to the door in under 3 minutes.  We don't count Scrappy because he wimps out if the temps drop below 40.

When I kicked open the coop door this morning (ice dam), the Pearlies came streaming out, stopped and wondered what fresh Hell I had led them into today.  They immediately went back in, trampling the hens in the process.  I am sure the chickens are looking forward to Spring with renewed vigor - the Pearlies will be outside, instead of in.

Trotting into the master bath to get my shower going, I cold water.  Frozen pipes.  The hot water pipes ran, the kitchen water ran, but no sink or tub.  Plan B.  Cold water splashed on face and cool/rad/neato spiky hairstyle for work.  Thank goodness no one pays any attention to me.  I stopped and picked up a small room space heater so that I don't have to repeat this experience.  It is odd, however, that this is happening at all. I've gone through colder periods with no problems.  My thoughts (dark as they are...) is that the upsurge in the rodent population may have inflicted itself on my insulation on that end of the house, baring the pipes.  Little buggers.  I am NOT crawling over there until well into the Spring - at which time I will either re-insulate or wrap the pipes with a heating tape that I can connect up into the bathroom.

Luckily, the weather has hit its nadir and will be heading in the right (upward) direction starting today.  Good thing, since I am due to go get a load of hay with my farmer this weekend.  Break out the Carharts!!  Wintah has arrived!!!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today, for the first time in YEARS, I am doing just what I want.  Nada.  Nuttin.  (Except for more sanding, more vacuuming of dust, some painting, some cooking, some reading, some crossword puzzles, some shoveling - heeheehee.)  The problem with having a birthday on a holiday is that no one forgets it.  How am I supposed to ignore it when everyone from my parents, sisters, friends, dry cleaner, and Starbucks is trying to help me celebrate?  Oh, poor me...*snort*

And this is really so not me:

My Muck Boots, which I have been wearing for years (not the same pair, but the same brand) have let me down.  After having to superglue the front sole flap back on more than six times in less than two years, the back heel flap gave way last Saturday.  It was the last straw.  So I threw them in the trash bin and headed up to Bennington to find new boots.  I ended up with Bogs - with one hitch.  They did not have plain ones in my size.  I sidled around these for a good 15 minutes before deciding to get them.  Needless to say, they shocked the livestock.  Sage and Chickie slammed on the brakes at the sight of them, and both fluffy sheep had to thoroughly examine them before letting me through the gate.  I will have to say that they are the best-fitting barn boots I have ever worn.  And they have good traction and seem to be warm enough.  I am still startled when I look down, but they're growing on me.

I also got a very nifty handbook on how to tie knots (seems that someone actually was reading this blog....)
and, voila!:

A True Lover's Knot!  Now I just have to find me a true love that I can use it on.... :)

AND I must have been on Santa's "Good Beyond Belief" List, because I got a CAMERA for Christmas!!!!  Of course, it's like going from 0 to 100 from my old model to this one.  I am gingerly learning what all the dials and doodads are for.  But it does allow me to take much better pictures.  Such as:

My handsome boy.  Yes, he is ALWAYS around.  I have been using the fireplace a lot this past weekend, so Bernice is nowhere in sight.  She is, unfortunately, afraid of the fire.

Blip! Blip! Blip! (my happiness meter....)