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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Housekeeping

Good Morning!

Well, here it isn't morning anymore. We've moved onto afternoon, but a cool foggy one it is.

A wlk in the fog. Cleared up enough for a quick shot at the lake. Well, quick it wasn't as the boys refused to sit and look at me all together. Buggers
We had a work gathering here last night so the last couple days when not spent at work have been spent cleaning. Not that the house is filthy, but with three rambunctious dogs and our own time minimal, it needed a thorough clean up. And then there's the matter of the pies I had to bake.

Have to investigate the mole his and other diggings thoroughly.
Well, "had to" is not the word I should really use. I chose to. As the Guy pointed out a couple times, I could have bought Jello pudding pie mix; but let's face it, that's not how I work. I made a spectacular from scratch chocolate silk pie and that pumpkin I transformed last weekend became a delicious pie of its own. I still have left overs of the pumpkin pie... Yay!

I had to snap a shot of someone's "handy work" 
So today, we're playing things kind of mellow. I just through a pot of turkey soup together to use up the last of Thanksgivings slowly drying turkey. I should have made it last week, but I decided it was a great foggy day post party meal. That makes it sound like we partied hard. I think it feels like we did today just because it was a long week and we were ready to just relax about the time people were showing up. But it was a fairly mellow gathering and we were still in bed about the usual time.


While on the walk, I saw this little feather with the water drops on it and thought it would make a neat picture. I somehow over looked the goose poop, but when I got it home I laughed so hard I had to include it. Some people...
Mourning doves are still around scrounging for food. Sorry, the phone camera wants to focus on the window screen...
So, now that I actually have a day off I'm thinking I may pop in a movie and finish up whats on the knitting needles. Sounds like a plan, no? I really should dress the loom and start a weaving project, but that sounds like a dreadful lot of work right now.

Again, it's a touch blurry due to the window screen, but I love these bright guys! Them and the woodpeckers at the feeders are my favorite ones to see.
And I want relaxation. Maybe a nap even... Yeah right, but it was a nice thought. Too bad I can't nap and knit at the same time.

Now, time for some internet housekeeping too. Some of you have seen me link to my friend Betsy's blog before. I often link there for her wonderful photos around my hometown and state. Well, she has taken on a HUGE project of starting a nonprofit to help protect the Round Island Walrus Sanctuary that lost it's funding this last year due to some wonderful bureaucratic foresight. That's as much politicing as I'll add of my own, but you know what I mean. If such things interest you, the WARIS (Walrus Advocates of Round Island Sanctuary) website can be found by following that link. Originally they only had a Facebook page and since I'm not a face booker I wasn't able to share that with you all. I somehow overlooked that they have a website now, but since I now know of it's existence, I wanted to share it with you all. It's a small group that is just getting up and going under it's own steam. Just something neat that I want to share the existence of.

Also, for those interested in Knit Alongs (I won't explain what that is to those who don't knit and most likely therefor don't care), the Wyoming Fiber Skeinks has a small group that will be doing the Fox Paws pattern as a Knit Along. We'll be e-gathering HERE for that even starting the beginning of February. I know, any non-knitters that read this far are thinking, February? Yes, February. We're ass deep in christmas knitting season right now, and January is meant for getting all the tardy Christmas projects wrapped up, therefore, February. Warning, if you read the YarnHarlot you will see that this is not appropriate Superbowl knitting. Just a heads up.

Now, there's something else I thought I wanted to mention today, and obviously my memory is failing me for I have no idea what it is. I better put Ginko Biloba on my list to pick up at the grocery store... Oh, I remember what it was.

This last week I listened to Hidden Girl which is the story of a young woman who was sold by her family in Egypt into household slavery. From Egypt she was brought to America where she was eventually discovered and freed. She is now a United States Citizen who is working towards a goal of becoming an ICE officer. The book was, okay, I've read better but it was interesting. She mentioned that you could take the US Citizenship test online. Of course, I had to try it, and the good news is I passed. I even passed with what would have been an A at 92% on the first section and 100% on the second. I think it's actually a neat little resource to challenge your knowledge with. The total test has 100 questions, and it's broke into four 25question sections. The true test that happens for those naturalizing is a 10 question test comprised on any 10 of those 100 questions. They must get 6 right to pass. Give it a shot and see what you can recall.

Is that enough links for one post? Yeah? Okay, off to be lazy the rest of the day. You guys have a good lazy Sunday too.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Goodbye My Good Cooking Buddy... Goodbye.

That's right, today at 336pm, the death nell of my good cooking buddy was sounded through my kitchen by the sonorous tolling of cracking cast iron.


WWwwhhhuuuuuuutt!?! That's right, I managed to crack the bottom of my cast iron dutch oven that has seen me through many a batch of corn bread, roasts, and batches of Julia Childs Beef Bourguignon.


See that crack running diagonally down from the left? Doesn't seem like much, does it? But juices had already flowed into and through it by the time I had figured out what the noise had been. The crack had to searched for though I could feel it with the edge of the spatula.


How did I manage this you ask? By browning the sides of the nights rib eye roast before putting it in the oven to be roasted to tender deliciousness. It still got roasted mind you, just not as I had planned. I'm guessing since after talking to my mother and finding out that she didn't even know how old this pot was as she had bought it from someone else, it was probably due to age. It had been around in our kitchen ever since I could recall and I happily took it when it was offered to me. The bottom had started to become curved with rehearings and coolings, and lets face it, even metal ages. Metal that has been lovingly scraped and seasoned, can fail still.


My earthenware covered stone baker saved the day however and I saved the roast and laid the loss low with a feast that it deserved.


Oh, and a generous serving of wine helped with my grief too.


In fact, much of the day was spent in the kitchen. Its a way I don't mind spending days and as I had today off... I know, I hear you gasping with disbelief! I get another day off next Sunday! But as I said, I don't mind spending the day this way, I hacked into my pumpkins so I can make fresh pumpkin pie next weekend. I know, I can hear you asking yourselves, "What? Fresh pumpkin pie? Where's the can?" Well, that my dears, is not fresh pumpkin pie.


This is. Look at all that delicious pumpkin just waiting to go in the food processor! And I get pumpkin seeds to boot! It's a win-win and as I spent 99 cents on each pumpkin, it's a bit cheaper than buying a can of pumpkin too. Not much, but a bit.


Best yet, is what I make is already spiced. That's right, I can mix in the eggs and the milk and throw it all in the made by hand crust (really, what else were you expecting from me?) and bake it all up to wonderful deliciousness. Oh, and whip up a batch of homemade bourbon whip cream too... I know you're going to ask, so this is what I do.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the tops from two small baker pumpkins. Slice into quarters and scoop out the seeds and set aside for later toasting. Melt 3/4 cup butter. Spoon it into the quarters the butter, top with a couple genorous scoops of pumpkin pie spice/brown sugar mix (1 batch of pie spice mix and 1cup of brown sugar premixed and set aside) and stir it all up and slather the inside edge of the pumpkins. Pop in the oven for 30 minutes or until a fork slides easily though the meat of each quarter. Allow to cool until handling is able to be done with out burning oneself, peel the now easily separated skin and place the meat into a food processor. If you allow them to cool completely skinning becomes a bit tougher. I typically cut each quarter into smaller easier to handle pieces for this step and leave the baked spice in place as I dump it all into the food processor. Whir it all up until it is the right consistency. You shouldn't need to add any liquid. It can keep like this in the fridge for a couple weeks or you can freeze or even can it from this point if you so wish. If you can it, you MUST bring it to a full boil and keep there for the desired amount of time. Pumpkins are full of natural sugars of their own and can spoil if not canned at full temperature.

Now, I hear you asking, "What is pumpkin pie spice?" Well, it's whatever you want it to be, but what I use for this recipe is:
4 tablespoons cinnamon
4 teaspoons nutmeg (2-3 if freshly ground which is always preferrable) .
4 teaspoons ginger
3 teaspoons allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground clove

Now, this mix is dependent upon your families tastes mind you. Some people feel a bit strongly about nutmeg and cloves. For them I would suggest less of those spices, but I like this blend myself and even normally have it made up and in my spice cabinet stored in old recycled empty spice jars. I often use it for baking apples or other things such as pumpkin bread. Who wants bland pie or other baked goods after all? As for if you have left over butter and spice that didn't fit on the baking quarters I set it aside and when it all comes out of the oven I throw it in with what goes in the food processor because if you've ever seen me cook, these measurements are only really approximations. I just grab the little spoon and scoop and smell until the blend's aroma seems right. Mmmhmmm. Scrumptious. This nose hasn't led me to far astray yet.


And that my dears, is how I make my pie filling. But don't forget the best part! Whip cream! Ask any kid, they know this is the best.

One liquid cup of heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon bourbon.

Throw that all in the beater bowl and place in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes to chill along with the beater itself. Beat on high until soft mounds form. DO NOT beat it until it is stiff. This is not meringue. It's Whipped cream!

I know, I hear you all cringing at the though, "BOURBON?!?" It's okay, I promise. I don't use just any old sludge of bourbon either. I use Wild Turkey's "American Honey" It is smooth stuff, and before you judge me, I suggest you try it, then don't judge, just "assess" my tastes and keep your opinion to yourself. Or at least write a humorous blog post of your own about it and shoot me the link. And if you don't let the kids eat all the whip cream by themselves, they won't even get a buzz. You'll have to worry about the sugar buzz more. Heck, you might want to give them a a couple fingers of bourbon to take the edge off that. Let them worry about diabetes and liver failure later in life.

Okay, I think that's it for the night. Hope you all had a great weekend. I'm off to knit since I didn't last night. I got Christmas cards written and addressed! Can you believe it?

Friday, December 5, 2014

Well, we went and did it.

See that?


Yep, it's a Christmas tree. And not even a fake one. I wasn't sure when we ditched the old fake one in Casper if there was a reason to be packing up some of the decorations, but I guess there was. It's not leaning, but it has a funky shape to it and has a definite bow to the trunk and the branches we discovered when we got it home are longer on one side.


I chased the guy off to read the paper while I decorated after a snide comment about my lights before I even started getting them on. It takes some tinkering, it does. This picture looks like I did some filter tinkering but I didn't. I think it was just a combination of the tree lights and the light coming in from the kitchen that did something.


We don't have a lot of decorations but that's okay. What survived the thinning and the move about filled out this tree perfectly. We'll look for a real star topper this year and not just leave the Ol'Tigger up there.I can't wait to come home in the evenings to smell it and have the light bring a little shine to the evenings for the next three weeks or so. With a definite lack of snow I am feeling the dark this december and counting down to the solstice that is just a couple weeks away. With the long work days, I am walking the boys in the dark, going to work as the sun is just getting settled into the sky and coming home in the dark. I want light! Ah well... That's winter, right?


This is a Scott Pine, and it confirmed that I have a little pine allergy. Being winter it shouldn't be dropping any pollen so I'll be fine, but where just the needles prick me you can see what my skin does. I handled it gently but even after a couple washings and lotion by hands are burning a bit tonight. Just in case there's pine oil left somewhere on my hands I think I will skip flossing. That could be ugly. What's the holidays without a bit of contact dermatitis? I was careful to wear long sleeves as you see. I'm not completely foolish after this summers lines of blisters where I was scratched by those pine boughs in the yard. Makes so much more sense as an adult looking back on things that irritated my skin as a kid. Like the summer we thought I was having a mysterious allergy to grass and we had really cut down a pine in the yard and there was probably oil and sap still on the un-mowed grass I was laying in... Ahhh, that darn hind-site.

I hope everyone else's holidays are starting to light up. If your stressing, stop it. This is supposed to be a time of joy and love shared with those you surround yourself with. Not gifts and stress. Take a step back and rediscover the joy.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Blogger Distress!

So, I tried the other day to get on and make a post and it appeared blogger was down. Today, I keep having to refresh because things aren't loading properly. Argggh. Damn computers. Do they really save us the time they say they do? I know mine hasn't this week because when I couldn't get blogger to work I started to play on Youtube. And you know, that is a time suck like none other. Because then you start linking to other related videos... Let me just say, "BuzzFeed Videos".



Here's a sample of their hilarity.



Which of course leads me to this.



And then you're in the loop laughing at things like this... It's a vicious vicious cycle. Almost as bad as Wikipedia. Seriously, the other day I learned that Northern Cyprus is under Turkish control. Never knew that before. So in other words, I am blaming bloggers issues for my complete lack of being able to push away from Youtube.


So, since I have to get ready for work here shortly, and want to get a couple things done lets give you a quick update of the going-on's around here. We got snow. Lets not forget a bit of freezing rain. I was a bit worried last night on my way home with falling temperatures and this fine misty foggy rain, but today it's actually okay. However, now it's gone. Literally, gone.


You see, it warmed up and rained. A lot. We had a pond. However they say it's going to snow again this week. Fingers crossed. Let's have some real winter!


I've been working a lot of shifts, and that leaves me not feeling up to much when I get home, but I have got some knitting done between youtube sessions. Here's a cowl I threw on the needles to be able to go the movies with some knitting last weekend. It's done and needs to go live with Stefani for Christmas.


I got the gussets started and done on my final pair socks for the 12 months 12 socks challenge. Whew, I hate gussets.


However, I love the little sock monsters they make on my needles. yeah yeah, all knitters have love hate relationships with certain projects. Okay, maybe not but I can live with my strangeness. Can you?


We've had Michigan apples at all the stores so I made a pie this last week. No pumpkin pie for thanksgiving. Instead I had dutch apple! Yum.


And a pot of chicken and dumplings last week while it was wet, snowy and cold. I couldn't figure out why I was starving all week until it dawned on me that I was starting every morning off with shoveling, then dog walking before work.


And I decided that dogs didn't need to go to the yarn store during the holiday's while I was working anymore... Can you tell someone has already gotten themselves in trouble?

Okay, I need to get some more stuff done before heading to work. How have you all been?




And let me leave you with these jewels...

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Giving Thanks

We're pretty relaxed around here today. I got the Turkey in the pot early when I fed the dogs so we could have a wonderful Thanksgiving Lunch before I got a nap in and head to work.


That's right, work. With just the Guy and furred ones, we don't mrs much with the holidays and I prefer to work if I can so the ones with kids and family around can spend them with their own. However, that does't mean I skimp with the food mind you.

So, I hope you all spend the holiday with those you love and are thankful for as I have today, and stay warm and dry. I'll give you a real post in a couple days.

Monday, November 17, 2014

It can't be...

Two days in a row? Why yes, it is. Because I wanted to share last nights deliciousness with you all! It was that good. I was going to right it in my book, then thought that this was a better place because I could share it with everyone and they could have a little fall explosion in their mouths (that didn't sound so dirty in my head).

Are you read? Porch chops with cinnamon apples.

3-4 lean pork chops
Sea salt, Rosemary, and sage to taste and a splash of toasted sesame seed oil
Around lunch time rinse meat, combine spices and oil and rub the chops with it. Place back in the fridge.

Heat oven and a casserole dish to 200 degrees.

Peel, core, and slice thin two large tart fall apples.
Mix with three heaping tablespoon brown sugar, a couple heaping teaspoons of cinnamon and teaspoon of nutmeg. Let sit while you start the chops.

In a skillet, melt one tablespoon butter or your oil of choice over medium heat. Before it smokes, add pork chops and cover. Turn down to med low and let cook for 4-5 minutes. Turn to other side and repeat. Remove from flame, and place in the warmed casserole dish and cover.

In same skillet, heat two more tablespoons of butter or oil and dump in your apple and spice mixture. Cook over medium low heat until apples are tender, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and serve up pork chops with apples and gooey sauce spooned over the top.

I got the idea for this perusing several recipes yesterday and this version was what I figured out to do for dinner. It was wonderful and I knew I needed to keep this recipe for later usage. Don't you hate when you are trying to find something simple and the recipes are so over the top or talk about tools only professional cooks have? That is what caused me to make up my own version with ingredients I had on hand and no tools most people have. You need a covered skillet, a casserole dish, or even a Pyrex with aluminum foil to cover it, a couple knives and a spatula. Bam! Oh, and I was in a rush with the apples and just used my potato peeler to skin them. As long as the apple is crisp still, that works just fine.

If you try it, hope you enjoy. The salt of the rub and the sweetness of the apples are a nice contrast.now I have to get out in that blustery winter day and go to work.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Let's Chat

Well, it's more of a "I'm going to talk now" kind of thing since there's not really a way to chat as I type up a blog post, but you know what I mean, right? It's been a bit, and I'm sorry for that. Why has it been a bit? Well, Last weekend was the midwest Men's knitting retreat. No, no I don't have pictures. Sorry, I was having to much fun laughing and carrying on with Matthew and friends to really take pictures. But oh boy, did I have fun...


I did get the three singles for this yarn done and wrapped it all up last Sunday night. It's a 85% BFL, 15% tussah silk blend that still needs it's bath. It was from Greenwood Fibers. It's as lovely as it looks. I also wrapped up a couple sock objects before this week late one night starting another sock project.


It's my last pair for the 2014 12 months, 12 socks challenge. Thank god. I'm sick of socks.


And this morning I wrapped up a cowl project I started at the retreat. This is a lovely fiber that I got from huckleberry fibers as part of a fiber club. The colors were wonderful, it was a joy to spin and now a joy to knit. The pattern was based on something I saw someone wearing and they couldn't give me the pattern name so I made it up as I went. It's not quite what I was going for, butit's a starting point. I have some yarn set aside that I'm going to do version two in. I'll keep you posted.


I had to edit my face out of this one because I realized when looking at the photos I had a big ol'boog hanging from my left nostril. How embarrassing.

But having done all that, it doesn't explain my absence from here. You see, The Guy was gone this week. He went back to Wyoming to visit his ailing mother and that left me working everyday he was gone, most days a 10 hour shift. By the time I got up, fed the monsters, walked the monsters, fed myself, showered, went to work and got back home to restart the feeding and walking, I was feeling kind of mellow. I looked at some blogs, checked on weather, and took my knitting to bed after doing things like eating, the dishes, and vacuuming.

Today though, as the Guy got home last night, was my day to relax. That's what I kept telling myself. It was my day to knit and do a blog post. The first I did. See?


And now the second item on my list is done. They went on their morning walk with the Guy and I got to stay in bed then cuddle them when they got home. Ahhhh. Then I knit, but I kept getting the look as they wanted to go out in the fresh snow. Again...


That's right, we got a good real snow finally. See this? That was last week before Matthew came and crashed at our house before the retreat. It's where we walk the dogs most days. A little half mile loop through the woods and hills. We normally walk it 4 times round. That gives me just over a 2.5 mile walk.


This was it yesterday.


I had a short work day yesterday and was able to get them out while it was still light. They were excited, can you tell? Having light means they have more freedom to run and goof off because I can see them, and hunt up their poops with ease for clean up.


Then The Guy sent me a text to say he was going to get home early. I immediately told the kids. Can you see the repressed excitement? No? Look at the blurry tail. It's wagging furiously as I make him stay so I can get a shot before running to buy dog food. Really, do I have to feed them daily?


This morning it snowed even more. We have three inches of fluff. It's getting a bit wet but the kids are liking it, and Tucker is enjoying the cool for squirrel hunting? See, he's waiting patiently for one of them to come down and play with him.

Sunruse Saturday morning from the bedroom window

Of the blogs that I read this week, Sarah had a little Meme Challenge that of course I had to check out. What's a Meme? Not really sure, but this us what Lord Google says:

meme
mēm/
noun
  1. an element of a culture or system of behavior that may be considered to be passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means, especially imitation.
    • a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc. that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users.

And of course I wanted to see what I would get. These were the top three that came back.


It's like they know me... Except it was some teenager's face that I didn't know what this came from and decided that if it was some form of cyber bullying, I'd pull his face off of it. To "make a cyber joke" of someone being gay struck me as either a dumb teen prank of someone goofing off. Since I didn't know the situation this seemed appropriate.


It think this was my favorite, and I'm not sure what it says about my character that it is. I can so see me mumbling this to myself with evil glee when I do something kind of stupid. You know, like hitting your head on the cupboard that you just left open while searching for your favorite glass. Or how about the other morning when I was listening to a book and thought, "Really, who ever thought the excuse 'I walked into a door' could cover domestic abuse", minutes before walking into a door. Seriously, the Guy wasn't even home when it occurred. It was the downstairs bathroom door and it rubs on the rug in the hallway so it doesn't close properly. I just let the dogs out and it was dark, and I turned around and "Bam!" It was kind of funny and I could see myself saying in a cartoon raccoon voice, "No Mr. Quinton, The Game is on YOU!" as I held the right side of my face and tried not to cry in solitary embarrassment. That crap hurts!


And third to top the list... speaking of faces, that's a great one. You can almost hear the cranks of WTF gears turning in his head.  This last one was a ways down the page, but I still liked it and had to share, because as Taylor says, "The Haters are going to Hate Hate Hate.


Shake it off. That was just for you Jason...


Getting home form walking the dogs the day before our snows started, I found this guy on the door frame. Kind of cold for dragon flies but neat none the less. He didn't move with me opening the screen door or dogs checking him out so I can only imagine he was not far from his winter demise.



So, now that the dogs are walked and relaxing, I have to look at what I need to get dinner on. Pork chops with fall apples and potatoes here we come!


Have a good week everyone. Stay warm and have fun! I'm going to leave you with a video from an artist that ITunes Radio introduced me to last week. Something about her voice just pulls me in.