Thursday, December 29, 2011

Goodbye and thank you 2011! A Warm Welcome to 2012!

Goodbye and thank you 2011.  It was a year punctuated with new challenges and quality time with family and friends.  I'm a firm believer in knowing where you have been before moving forward.  I am looking forward to what 2012 has to offer.  I don't do resolutions, I'm more of a goal setter.  At the end of the year I always review the past year and set future goals. 

Accomplishments in 2011:
-First year with a greenhouse.  Despite rogue pumpkins, I feel it was a success.
-First year blogging.  Met some outstanding new friends and have learned so much from other people's endeavors. 
-Spent some quality time with long-time friends.
-My first vegetable harvest.
-Pushed my camera skills to support blogging habit.
-A very successful berry harvest which went to wine, pies, and jam.
-A semi-successful hunting season.  No elk, but moose and deer meat in the freezer.
-Spent some fun filled and very fulfilling time with my family and Kelly's.

 It wasn't all sunshine and roses, there were a few clouds:
-The loss of my beloved Grandmother.  She was a grand lady and I miss her greatly.
-The lesson that trees and snowmobiles should not meet or broken bones occur.
-Elk are tricky buggers.

My many goals for 2012:
-To have our cabin filled with the laughter of family and friends.
-Fence my orchard so the deer stay out, with the ultimate goal that my berries will flourish and thus so will the wine and jam.
-Small adjustments to the greenhouse, with salsa at the final result.
-To be able to run 10 miles, in one shot, by 2013.
-Celebrate my 40th with gusto and appreciate what I have done and have yet to do.
-Teach Ella to roll over.
-Go snowmobiling with my husband (bravery will be needed for this one).
-Finish my rose garden.
-Build a peony bed with Kelly.
-Fill our little pond with fish.
-Make a quilt.
-Keep in touch with my blogging friends and continue to keep my little world a place where people want to come and sit on the porch and share in my adventures.

Thank you to everyone who has shared in my life.  I have enjoyed the gifts both figuratively and literally that you have given me.  I look forward to our continued journey, but we will always take the time to sit on the porch, drink coffee, watch the birds and bees, while smelling the roses.

Happy New Year 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Walking in a winter wonderland...

I don't think I need to say anything.  Here's hoping you are enjoying the season!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Twas the night before Christmas (kinda)...

Twas the weekend before Christmas,
when chaos reigned all through the house,
and the trap even caught another mouse (see mouse count 2010 post).
Packages were being assembled in the cabin with care,
in hopes of catching the post office open so they could get there.
The nieces were home snuggled in their beds,
While Uncle Kelly and Aunt Bonnie struggled in their heads.
Which craft from the book should we make?
Even with the books help at artists we are a fake.

In the dining room there arose such a clatter,
Uncle Kelly chose the pirate hat and worked hard because it mattered.                            
Aunt Bonnie picked some cans as she just made a pie,                                                     
She knew the nieces could use them in the blink of an eye.
I love this man!
Ghosts of 4-H Achievement days last minute projects in the past lurk,
The oven was stuffed with meat in which was to jerk. 
A brown sugar body scrub was also done on the nub,
Visions of tired moms relaxing in the tub.
Of the last minute projects, the toughest was the last,
Printed, cut, and rolled were quotes from the past. 
To someone very special this gift will go,
The present of daily anticipation he will know.

Now the projects are in the mail,
the joy they will bring there should be no fail.
The givers are exhausted their minds are done,
but they can't wait until next year because actually it was fun.

And with that Ella curls in a ball tight,
while we mumble to each other Merry Christmas to all and to all a Goodnight!

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Christmas cookies are one of my favorite traditions.  I make them every year.  They remind me of my Grandmothers.  Grandma Hyde gave me the cookbook I found the recipe in.  Grandma Gregg gave me the tins that I keep my cookie cutters in.                                                                          
White Cut out Cookies
2/3 c. butter            1 t. soda
1 c. sugar                 1/2 t. salt
1/4 c. milk                1 t. vanilla
2 eggs                     3 c. flour
1/2 t. almond extract

Cream butter, sugar, and eggs.  Dissolve soda in milk, vanilla, and almond extract.  Add to sugar mix and add flour and salt.  Chill for 1/2 hour.  Roll out on floured surface.  Cut out cookies.  Bake at 400 degrees, until slightly browned on the edges.  Frost, decorate, and enjoy.
Merry Christmoose!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Very Venison Part Two...

Deborah Jean at the Dandelion House asked me if I had any suggestions for good Venison cookbooks and I'm afraid my answer is no.  I have a couple and have never used a recipe.  I'm a farm girl.  You go out and work, come in 45 minutes before the men, make a quick dinner to feed everyone, clear the dishes, get back out there and work.  That is how I was raised.  No fancy cooking, just make it fast, hearty, and good.  Things haven't changed much in the cooking department.  When I get home, after a long day of dealing with teenagers, I don't want to spend hours in the kitchen.  Fast, hearty, and good (at least sometimes its good.  Two outta three ain't bad.) are still the means by which I cook a meal.  What does this have to do with venison cookbooks?  Well, let me just review some of the recipes found in these books... Bourbon mustard steak, venison eggplant parmigiana, and crab stuffed venison steak rolls. This is not screaming fast and easy to me.  

So what do I do with my venison?  I just put it in my normal recipes.  I use the canned meat or if it isn't canned I use stew meat to make stroganoff, pot pies, stews, hot beef sandwiches, and Philly steak and cheese sandwiches.   I'm very happy with the meatballs and breakfast sausage I made in the last post.  The sausage works great in Bonnie McMuffins.  A simple sausage patty, egg, and cheese on an English muffin. On the weekends I make my life easy, by making this one two punch combination:  Roast on Saturday and Pinwheels on Sunday.  I will share my Mom's Famous Pinwheel recipe here.  This works with any leftover roast.    It begins with Mom's Pizza Crust.

Mom's Pizza Crust 
          1 pkg yeast        1 c. warm water
      1 t. sugar            1 t. salt   
                              1 T. olive oil       2 1/2 c. flour                  
 Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Dissolve yeast in warm water.  Stir in ingredients, mix until doughy, and allow to rest 5 minutes.  Roll out. 

 Here is the Mom's Famous Pinwheel addition:
 Grind up your leftover roast.  Mix it with chopped mushroom, onion, salt, pepper, and parsley.   Sprinkle over the pizza dough.  Roll up, cut into rolls, and arrange in a dish.

 Bake at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes.  Could be more, could be less, just depends on your oven.  I forgot to take a photo, before I dished some of the rolls out.  Smother in gravy and enjoy!  Fast, hearty, and good! 
Fast, Hearty, and Good!

On a side note.  Several of you asked how long the 4-H Hot Fudge Sauce lasts in the fridge.  I have no idea.  We always use it up within two weeks.  My only response would be if it is green you probably shouldn't use it.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas Project Ideas...

I'm not a huge fan of Christmas.  I don't like the commercial present buying frenzy.  Sometimes when I find the perfect present it works, but that is rare.  There are some things though that make it a little less stressful.
My sister and I have a tradition where we buy each other cookbooks, garden, or project books. We read them before we wrap them and enter little written comments throughout the book.  Because we live far apart and don't get to go through those things together, it makes it feel like we are sharing the experience.  I highly recommend it if you aren't close to a loved one.  I'm expanding that tradition to my nieces this year.  I got the older girls craft books.  My husband and I are going to make a few of the projects and leave them in the books for the girls. 

I do enjoy making things to give. I like to make jar mixes, jam, wine, and jerky.  I just bottled up some Red Letter Raspberry wine and some grape jelly. My table runner is making progress. Slow, but steady.  Below is a photo of last year's big Christmas project:  Jar mixes.  I made about 8 different kinds.  I put them in vintage jars given to me  by a friend that was moving. 

 Anyway, for those of you who struggle like me for ideas I would like to share some ideas and resources.   Our Best Bites ( and Recipe Gold Mine ( are great sources for ideas.  I will leave you with my hot fudge recipe from our old 4-H cook book.  
           4-H Hot Fudge Sauce  
1/4 c. Cocoa              1/2 c. Sugar
1/2. Light syrup        2 T. Butter
1/4 c. cream or evaporated milk

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes, remove from heat and add 1/2 t. vanilla.  Keep in fridge and enjoy on ice cream or banana splits. Goes great with the strawberry sauce recipe I shared in a previous post. I like to use olive oil bottles for storage. 

I hope this gave you some ideas for holiday sharing.  I know I have enjoyed blog hopping and getting ideas.   

Sunday, December 4, 2011

ditched by the dog...

Does my dog look tired?  Well, she should be.  Today when the neighbor was plowing, he stopped by to see how we were doing.  As I have mentioned before, Ella loves (I mean LOVES) to plow.  I didn't quite know how much she loved to, until today.   While he was talking to us she sat on his feet and barked.  He asked her if she wanted to go plowing and she went nuts, so Roy took her with him. I knew she liked to ride in the plow truck, but really?  She ditched us to go with the neighbor.  I do have to admit they were both pretty happy when they returned.  Have you ever heard of such a thing?  Silly dog.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Advent Calendar...

I remember when my sister and I were little, we had an advent calendar.  It was a pre-made one filled with candy.  I still remember the anticipation, even though I knew it would be a chocolate every time. 

Working hard at being the perfect aunt, I decided this was something my nieces needed to experience.  I looked high and low and found the perfect wooden advent calendar at a Cracker Barrel in Kentucky.  My luggage took it pretty hard trying to get it back in one piece.  Every Thanksgiving I drop it off at my sister's.  This year I wasn't able to take it, so I had to wrap the poor thing up and send it off. 

The box has seen its better days and the bell was crushed somewhere along the way.  My sister now has 4 kids and it is getting harder and harder to fit stuff into the little boxes.  Still, you have to love the challenge.  I happily tucked little treasures into every box.  I had to rubber band the doors shut for the trip.  Then I triple wrapped everything. 
The package arrived on November 30th (do I have perfect timing or what?).   My sister said the girls were surprised by the early Christmas present, then they realized what it was Yahoo.  Aunt Bonnie didn't forget.

The little house made it safe and sound.  Filled with goodies and the countdown to Christmas.  Ya gotta love it.  My sister told me the little one caught on real quick to the principle of the calendar and is sharing the excitement of her older sisters.  I got a lovely call from the girls today thanking me for the calendar.  It is true, Christmas is for the children.  I only wish I could be there every day when they open the little doors.  Merry Christmas.

If you can't find one at Cracker Barrel, Our Best Bites had another great idea:


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Nature's Christmas ornaments...

Lots of action at the bird feeder today.   I thought I'd share some photos.  This little acrobat is a female downy woodpecker.   The little guy below was under the feeder looking for a handout.  The birds were nice and left him some seeds. 

This red breasted nuthatch was hard to get a photo of.  He is fast.  They really enjoy eating upside down.   The turkey below got on the deck hoping to break into the feeders, but they are turkey proof.  Too bad I didn't have any leftover 
Thanksgiving turkey, I could have gotten a shot to rival the other Thanksgiving turkey photos. 

This little gold finch looks so content.  I have a beef with these guys; they only come around the feeder when they are in their winter coats.  Not as flamboyant as the summer colors.

I had fun watching this Hairy Woodpecker.  He can really get the acorn feeder swinging when he starts drilling.  His colors are so sharp.  It was a fun morning watching the birds.  Hope you enjoyed the photos.