Saturday, December 29, 2012

Miss Marple & Biscuits

I am having a deliciously lazy Saturday at home, lounging about and devouring rooster-shaped pancakes by the plateful.  The animals are enjoying a slightly warmer day, but it is still very nice to have a little fire burning away in the wood stove, keeping the house cozy.  It's the kind of day where I just want to putter about in the kitchen, concocting various delicious eats and perhaps adding something to the pantry.

I still have quite a lot of grapefruit, and there are a few ways to make it into preserves.  Three days ago, I started the three-day process to make a batch of Gingered Grapefruit Marmalade.  While "three days" sounds like it might be a ton of work, it really isn't too bad at all.  Day one, you seed the grapefruit and whizz it in the food processor until it is very finely chopped, and then you simmer it for ten minutes, and it is left covered sitting out overnight.  Day two, bring it to a simmer again for ten minutes, recover it, and let it sit overnight again.  On the third day, it takes a bit more work and additions of chopped preserved ginger, pectin, and sugar, some serious simmering, and then you get to pour it into little jelly jars.  After that, all that is left is to sit back and admire the pretty pink glow of homemade marmalade.

I think I may concoct a Pomegranate Custard, which would be quite fitting with my current mania for Agatha Christie's Miss Marple episodes.  They are always eating various custards and puddings and biscuits by the plateful, and drinking quite a lot of tea.  Hmm, maybe I will need to break out my little brown betty tea pot and enjoy a cuppa or two.

Note:  The recipe I used for the marmalade can be found in a favorite book of mine, Well Preserved by Joan Hassol.  I've tried many of her concoctions, and they haven't failed me yet!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Quarter-Acre Christmas: A Photo Essay

The earth has grown old with its burden of care
But at Christmas it is always young,
The heart of the jewel burns lustrous and fair
And its soul full of music breaks the air,
When the song of angels is sung.
--Phillip Brooks

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

"I Will Survive."

Today certainly will go down in the anals of Days Of Oddness.  First off, it was Wednesday of the week before Christmas, and you could fairly taste the sugar crazed madness exuding from tiny child-sized bodies.  Second, there's a storm coming in tonight and as the barometer drops, everyone goes a little nutty.  Both those thing made for a thrilling day, but the best bit was yet to come.

I have been having a bit of a time finding a source for small bales of hay.  With the drought encouraging sales of hay to far norh and far south climes, hay was expensive and hard to come by this year to begin with.  Factor in needing a small square bale instead of the large bale or round bale that seem to be all the rage, and you've got yourself a hay conundrum.  Imagine my great delight when I found a post on Craigslist for small bales of hay, in an area I was traveling to this morning.


Of course, with Craigslist posters, sometimes you get lucky and sometimes you find an interesting individual at the other end of the email connection.  It started off well, with a prompt email reply this morning, but then came the issue of (a) I didn't want to hang about for hour after getting done with work, and no further replies were coming to my inquiry of where to find the advertised hay and (b) the person didn't seem to have or like using the phone.

What is a farmgirl to do?

I suppose there are several options, including chucking it in and deciding to go elsewhere for the elusive hay, but I chose what was lurking behind Door #3:  release my inner stalker and Google the seller.

Oh yes, I did.  I Googled and tracked her down using public tax records.  Off I merrily went in Lucille Laverne, bounding through the back roads to get my hay.  All was well, until I discovered that the address was waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down a winding dirt road, liberally posted with NO TRESPASSING and STAY OUT and NO SOLICITATION signs.  (If the signs weren't unfriendly enough, the bullet holes in them were positively unnerving.)  I had a serious twinge of doubt, that inner voice muttering Holey crap, girl...really?  You're gonna go down this road?, but I was a woman on a mission and there was potentially hay at the end of that unfriendly road.

Undaunted, I took the turn down that road less travelled and off we went.  After working my way back down and around the ridge, the woods opened up to reveal a scraggling homestead of cobbled together outbuildings and a large unfinished handmade house wrapped in Tyvek and insulation.  A burned out truck completed the picture.  No dogs, no kids, no movement outside, but as I pulled up toward the house, I spied a movement behind one of the dark windows.  Somebody was watching, and I really hoped it was the woman who I had emailed about the elusive hay.

A woman emerged from the house, and I hopped out to greet her.  After establishing who she was (the hay seller) and who I was (the crazy stalker lady wanting to buy her hay), she looked me up and down, smirked, and nodded.  She accepted my story about the googling, as long it was only "this time", and pointed me in the direction of the barn.  "Park there," she barked.  I nearly saluted her and parked where directed.  Yes, ma'am.

Silently, we bucked hay and stacked it up in the back of LuLa.  I don't think she was impressed with my style, but its hard to move hay when you are wearing slippery dress boots and a little dress outfit, particularly when your partner is dressed for farm work.  But we got the job done, and she mellowed a bit when I passed her the cash for the goods.  She said she had more hay to sell, and I said I would pass the word along to others in need.  "Thanks", she said, "but don't you go telling them where to find me."  Fixing me with a fierce glare, she went on to tell me that if the Apocalypse  happens as planned on Friday, and martial law was enacted, I shouldn't even bother to come looking because she would be gone, her family would be gone, and no one would be able to find them.

Thank goodness I got that hay today.

Monday, December 17, 2012

It Caught Me

courtesy of

This is a picture of the lovely cold virus now inhabiting my body.  Well, maybe a cousin or something, but you get the idea.  Many of these nasty goobers multiplying in droves, making my lungs wheeze in distress.  Yippee.

It was only a matter of time, I guess, but I was really hoping the onset of cold season would have held off until, oh...say, next June or something.  After feeling like kaka on Friday, I recovered somewhat on Saturday and was able to enjoy a fine Friendstimas (yay, Friendstimas!).  It was a fine time, lots of laughter, good food, and great friends.  I can hardly wait for next year's event.

But then, I started to feel all kinds of the Queen of the Coughing and Sneezing Fits yesterday, and here I am today, bleah bleah bleah. I did make it to work, mostly because cancelling wasn't really an option, but it was a near thing, I tell you what.

Good thing there's coffee and delicious hot soup to be had.  A few bowls of this, and I think I will live:

Lobster Corn Chowder

You'll need: one cooked lobster, shelled and meat chopped; one cup frozen corn; half cup each of chopped onions, yellow and red peppers, celery, and carrot; two cloves garlic, finely chopped; four cups hot chicken broth; 1 cup cream; various amounts of butter, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Slosh a little olive oil in a large stock pot and heat.  Saute all vegetables in the oil, adding a little butter for "flavor".  When onion is slightly softened, add in lobster meat and hot broth.  Bring to a low boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or so.  Season with salt and pepper, add cream and stir well.  If desired, make a slurry with hot broth and a couple tablespoons of flour, add to hot soup and boil for a few minutes until it thickens.  Serve hot with toasted bread, and your cold will pack up and leave.

Eventually.  But, you'll at least have yummy Lobster Corn Chowder to make you feel better until the virus has wandered off over the distant horizon.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Check It Out...

Episode 3 of  The Chicken Lady's Yarn is now available!  Click on the link on the scrolling side bar to the right. ------------------------>

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Look what showed up this evening:

Yessiree, that there's a forty pound box of grapefruit goodness, straight from the Lone Star State.  Today is, as I was informed by the local Ag Tech teacher, "fruit day".  Hooray!

The scent wafting from my gigantor box is incredible, sweet and tangy and full of citrus vim and vigor.  The cut open one pictured above has already been consumed, and man oh man I am lusting after another.  I have to pace myself, though.  If I eat too many at one go, I may just rot my enamel straight off my incisors and give myself a duodenal ulcer.

Nothing says Christmas like a self-induced ulcer, all in the name of supporting the local FFA troupe at the high school.

Monday, December 10, 2012


I had a wonderous fine thing happen today:  I discovered lobster in the freezer.

photo from
Strange place to find it, I know, but when you live in the Upper Midwest and there isn't an ocean to be found for several hundred miles, you find lobster either (1) at really fancy restaurants where the average farmgirl cannot afford to eat, (2) specially flown in to the fancy grocery store for the occasion, creating a party the likes of which can only be repeated once every five years, give or take, or (3) on special at the cheap-o grocery where I shop for the staples that I don't grow on my own.  They also have inexpensive nutella substitute, which has sustained me on many a long and arduous day.

It's a splurge no matter how you look at it, but Friendstimas is coming this weekend and when pondering the meal for the Friendstimas Feast on Saturday afternoon, we decided that some gorgeous gluttony was called for.  I do believe that steamed lobster with garlic butter sauce will just about fit THAT particular bill.

(We are also going to have barbequed ribs, red velvet cupcakes, and homemade spinach-artichoke dip a la Applebee's look-a-like recipe.  Ahh, Friendstimas!  My favorite holiday of them all...)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Candy, Stuff of the Gods

No pictures, because I can't manipulate my camera with chocolate covered fingers.  Trust me, this is seriously good.  As in, addiction good.  Oh my...

Snickers Rocky Road Fudge

You'll need:  Eight snickers bars, chopped up; giant bag of chocolate chips (think megasize, holding about 6 cups or so?);  one cup mini-marshmallows; 1/2 cup salted roasted peanuts.

Put a large bowl over a pot filled with boiling water.  Put in two of the chopped snickers bars, and all of the chocolate chips.  Stir and melt completely.  Add in the rest of the snickers, the marshmallows and the peanuts, stir well to coat everything with chocolate.  Pour into a foil lined square pan, press additional peanuts and marshmallows into the top of the bars.  Cool completely in the fridge, cut into squares and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Seriously.  This is like chocolate crack.  Mmmmmmm.....

Sleigh Ride!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Joyfully Friday

I am so not destined to be a world traveler.  Jump across two time zones and back again in the same number of days, and I wind up tired beyond belief and with a serious case of the type of distraction that goes by the name of SQUIRREL!  Let's just say, it was a really interesting day at work today.  I had a whole lot more in common with my Kindergartners than I was personally comfortable with.

Just call me Queen of the Short-Attention Span.

Anyhoo, I do believe an early bedtime is in store for my future.  I have a final exam scheduled for 9 AM, and I cannot focus on studying so I am throwing in the towel, to heck with cramming, I'll take my chances on the roulette wheel that is the multiple choice question/true-false/general fill-in-the-blank horror show that awaits me in the morning.  The dogs are snoring, the cats are curled up in front of respective heat ducts, and I can't think of a single good reason not to join them.

Did I mention it is snowing outside?  It's got me thinking about the upcoming holi-mania, which makes me think of chocolate, which makes me think of knitting, leading me to ponder "do I have enough crackers in the cupboard?", and then I mentally start an inventory of how much toilet paper is stashed in the bathroom closet, and then I think about needing to do laundry, making me think that I might have forgotten to feed the fish and pay the electric bill, but then I remember that I did remember to bring my coat inside from the backseat of the truck earlier, but I also remember that I forgot to plug in my cell phone last night, which then (oddly enough) makes me think of disgusting jello fish served with white gravy, and that makes me start singing this in my head:


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Not Cut Out for Vegas?

So here I sit, waiting to log on to my last class of the semester, and I am in the wild city of Las Vegas.  I'm not on the Strip--in fact, my hotel is a $40 cab ride away from the Strip--and my fully windowed wall looks out at the distant mountains and desert.  It's kind of pretty, not what you'd expect from all the hype surrounding Vegas, and I like it.

It is one of the many reasons I think I am not cut out to become a frequent flyer to this town.  For example, you may not be a Vegasphile if:

(1)  Instead of pondering what show to go score tickets for, you start wondering if there is a yarn shop near your casino because the knitting project you brought on the plane is nearly done, and there's a whole other day of seminars to sit through.
(2)  The waitress sidles up to your slot machine to get your drink order, and you automatically order water.  Sparkling.  With ice.
(3)  Your total gambling budget is $20, because that's one roll of quarters and seriously, who needs to chance more change than that?
(4)  You go in to the buffet, and all you can think is how many thousands of miles ALL that food traveled to wind up under heat lamps and on steam trays.  (I still ate too much, though.  What can I say?  I heart gelato.)
(5)  You look at the artistically lit landscaping surrounding your resort hotel and mentally can calculate how many gallons of water and pounds of chemical fertilizer must be needed to sustain all those palm trees and fancy grasses in the middle of a desert.

Somehow, I don't think I am cut out for the high roller lifestyle.  I do plan on making extensive use of the giant tub (with a view of the mountains) as soon as I am done with class.  Oooh, and I think I'm gonna get room service, too!

Do you think they serve a locally sourced salad?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

TuTu Cute

With a house decorated with lots of pinky-purple trim and outbuildings of the same shade, it can be a challenge to find holiday decorations to match.  Red and green just don't seem to go....this year, I have a whole pink theme going on, with some pink & white trees, lots of sparkling pink lights, and even a pink-and-turquoise santa sign.  It is just lovely, but until now finding a wreath to go with all that pinkiliciousness has been a tad difficult.

Lucky for me, the holiday issue of MaryJane's Farm Magazine had a whole raft of wreath ideas made out of burlap.  It got me thinking:  Hmmm, tutus!  So I took myself to the fabric area of W*mart and found this tulle type of fabric, that I think people might use to make those homemade kitchen scrubbies.  I bought all they had, and found a wire wreath frame, some decorations and a roll of turquoise wired ribbon.  A couple of hours of weaving, bunching and fluffing, and I would up with a glorious purple monstrosity of a custom wreath.

I love it.

The actual wreath making is ridiculously easy; the most challenging part was cutting the material into four inch wide strips.  Because the material was so meshy and see-through, I held two or three strips together and worked them around the frame like that, smushing them together and leaving plenty of bunchiness to make the wreath nice and full.  You can get all the details of how to make this and other similar wreath projects from MaryJane's magazine, so I won't spill all the beans here.  Needless to say, it is an easy project.  After all, who doesn't want a holiday tutu hanging on their door?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Dose of Holiday Cheer

As you can see, we get into the holiday season around here.  The stockings are hung, the Christmas tree is a-glow, and there is a good supply of sipping cocoa and marshmallows in the cupboard.  Turn up those holiday tunes and prepare to be holidazed!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Holiday Letdown?

Hmmm.  Did anybody else pick up on a vibe of extreme grumpiness today?   Apparently, the holiday buzz has worn off and all everyone is left with is a hangover and case of dyspepsia.  Every other individual seemed to be brooding and grim, or perhaps it was just me.  Max the Wonderdoodle has taken to barking out the windows at night, trying to commune with the active rabbits in the Bunny Barn.  Unfortunately, it means I am up communing with him.  At 3 AM, after being woken up a half dozen times already, I am in no mood for a yipping dog baying for blood.  There isn't enough coffee out there to make me perky after a night of by-proxy rabbit hunting.

Anyway, it was gray and cold and I spent the day making phone calls and answering emails.  Gaaah.  That's enough to give anyone a case of the Bah Humbugs.  Fortunately, I know an excellent cure:  homemade peanut butter cups and some National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.

Man, that movie is a classic.  I love it so.

But here's how to make your own peanut butter cups.  I think they are better than Reese's, but then again, I used Jif in my mix.  I can't vouch for how they'll turn out with Skippy.

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups as Big as Your Face

You'll need:  1/4 cup butter; 3/4 cup peanut butter; 1/4 cup sugar; 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips; 1/3 cup milk.

Line muffin tin with cupcake liners.  I used Texas muffin sized, which give you that whole "as big as your face" aesthetic.  In the microwave, melt the butter and peanut butter together (takes about one minute) and stir to combine.  Add sugar, stir well, and pour into muffin cups.  Pop into the fridge for about 15 minutes to firm up slightly.  Once that ordeal is over with, melt the chocolate chips with the milk, again nuking it for about one minute, and stir until very smooth.  Pour over the peanut butter layer and use your clean finger to swirl it a little into a nice smooth chocolately delicious layer of joy.  Place back into the fridge for about 30 minutes or so.  By then, they should be firm enough to eat.  Store them (yeah, right--store them, hah) in an airtight container in the fridge.

Pardon me while I pry one out of the depths of my ice box...oh my.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Whoo, What a Ride.

In case you were wondering, I spent much of my Thanksgiving weekend in LuLa, driving.

Well, perhaps it only felt that way.  I did spend ALL day Wednesday and ALL day Sunday in the truck, cruising the interstate for 601.7 miles (roughly) to and from my mom's house near St. Louis.  It was really nice to see everyone, including a couple of nephews and a niece that I haven't seen in a couple years (I think...).  They seemed happy to see me as well, and enjoyed Auntie (say that as "ANT-E") Cris-mas as celebrated on Saturday.  Ha ha...get it?  Anti-Crismas!  Hee hee.  Ahem.  I digress.... They got presents, we all ate too much good food, and hauled everyone to the movies for a late afternoon matinee.  All the kids wanted to ride in the truck, so one went in a car seat, another was sitting on a booster, and two more were sharing a seatbelt.

Safety first, everyone.  Thank god the cops were all busy picking up shoplifters at Walmart and Tar-jay, and didn't notice our seating arrangements.

It is nice to visit, and nice to come back home.  All the animals were happy and well cared for while I was gone, and seemed happy enough to have me back.  At one point last night, I had two dogs and two cats crammed into bed with me, which was sweet but awfully crowded (and didn't last very long).  I had today off as well, which was nice planning on my part, as I was able to sleep in slightly and then do some holiday decorating before trotting off to the hospital for an MRI of my bum ankle.  I even had time to deal with an escaped-and-uncatchable rabbit who was running for his life away from the dogs this morning. 

He made for a delicious dinner, with a side of gingered carrots.  Yum.

I suppose I should go check my calendar and see where I am supposed to be in the morning.  Hopefully, wherever it is will have coffee and cheerful people.  If not, it had better have coffee at least.

Four weeks until Holiday Break.  Yippee!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope your day is merry and full of friends and family.  Try not to eat too much, and remember:  Shop Locally for your holiday gift giving.  Even better, make something from the heart...but first, let's all have another piece of pie!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Oh, Deer.

It's nearly upon us: the High Holy Holiday of Deer Hunting Opening Day.  All over Wisconsin, people of all ages are airing out hunter's orange on clotheslines and backyard swing sets, checking guns and stockpiling ammunition, and generally packing for a weekend of fun in the great outdoors.  Hopefully, this doesn't mean they'll be packing more beer than changes of socks, but to each their own, I guess.

As for the non-hunters, it will be a weekend where we stay well away from the woods and try to find something nonlethal to enjoy.  I am not planning to go exploring in the  hills and valleys, but as I am planning to harvest my turkey at my friends' farm I won't be as successful with the latter.  It's my annual event, picking out my reserved turkey and bringing it home in time for the holiday dinner.  I feel good about it, knowing that my future dinner has enjoyed long days of sunshine and rain, eating bugs and fresh grass and cavorting about, gobbling with the rest of the gang.  It helps to make dinner a happy thing, knowing that your meal led a good life, know what I mean?

Tomorrow I have to head to one of my northern districts, which I try not to do this particular time of year.  I've already gassed up Ms. LuLa, so I shouldn't have to deal with lines at the pump or irritated, over-excited hunters all demanding deer tags from the harassed station attendants.  If all goes well, I'll cruise on by sipping a latte and getting the heck outta Webster well before the mass exodus to the euphemistic cabin begins after noon.  It has been a really long week here, and I am ready for the weekend.  Bang, bang, TGIF.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Tick Tock

Since the time change happened last weekend, I have been fairly obsessed with clocks.  I've always liked them, and I've thought from time to time about gathering a little collection of them.  Every time I fool around with my handful of cheap-o clocks and move the time forward or back like a deficient time lord without a TARDIS, I get consumed with clock lust again.  So in my spare time, I've been lurking on Pinterest, the world's favorite time suck of the moment, and pinning all sorts of sweet little clocks that someday (oh yes, someday!) will be mine.

Oh, I love these pink beauties!

A host of hoots! A flock of owls? A gathering?  What DO you call a group of owls, anyway?

Kinda shabby, very lovely, what wonderful colors!

It amazes me that anyone would ever want to have some screeching red-eye glowing creature of the night by their bedside to wake them in the morning, when they could have a delicate thing of beauty like one of these?  I'm pretty sure if I keep looking, I'll find a pinkly sparkling rhinestoned one that just calls to me...gotta go.  Pinterest is waiting!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Another Lovely Weekend

It has been a wet, damp, chilly weekend here in the middle of Nowhere.

It has been absolutely lovely.

I pretty much just sat and read and knitted, moving only to make dinner (homemade macaroni and cheese) and rotate some laundry between the washer and the dryer.  I did make a run into town for more dog food yesterday, which was horrible, and I was happy to come back home to my little house.  With the grey weather, none of the animals were very interested in doing much, either, so we very companionably passed the last two days in happy nap mode.  Today, I found the ambition to go out and join friends at our monthly knitting gathering.  It was rather wonderful:  cozy, good conversation & plenty of laughter.  It gave me some dedicated time to work on a Christmas present, which is a gift to me when I have a list a mile long of things I want to make before the season fully arrives.   An afternoon spent with friends, while thinking happy thoughts of gift-giving, is very nice indeed.  Knitting with the Knotty Knitters is one of the best parts of every month!

But now I am back home, doing a bit of reading and vaguely preparing for the week ahead.  Mostly, though, I am savoring a quiet Sunday evening in my comfortably shabby living room on the butt-eating couch, with a cheerful fire blazing away in the fireplace and reruns of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine on the old television.  I can hear the wind picking up again outside, and every once in a while a chilly draft curls through the room, making the animals shift into tighter furry nests.  My thoughts are turning again toward the fast approaching holiday season, so there's a bit of Yule Log in the air.  Too soon? 


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Too Much of a Good Thing

I love Christmas, particularly all the shiny shiny pretty lovely baubles that I can decorate with.  The sparklier the better, I say!  Unfortunately, over the years, this adds up to a rather lot of decorative items that only come out once a year.  In terms of what lives out on the porch, this is what it looks like after several years of binge holidaying:

Scary, isn't it?  A lot of this stuff hasn't seen the glittering lights of the winter holiday season in more than a few years.  Why?  Why keep all this stuff?  I'm not entirely sure, aside from I always vaguely think I will use it, or give it away, or perhaps one year or another I will want to be thematic and go all red and green (done that), or I will repurpose things (I had a Christmas chandelier idea once...).  Needless to say, it never happens.  The boxes take over, things get piled up and buried, and I finally hit a point of being ready to rip my own eyeballs out just so I don't have to look at the mess any longer.  After digging through all the boxes I've been keeping around for years, I have exactly one wine box and one small round container of special ornaments and holiday baubles that (a) I want to keep because they are reminders of good times and wonderful people, or (b) I just really like them right now.  There is, surprisingly enough, a high percentage of pink, sparkles, and glitter.  Shocking, right?

Keep in mind, these boxes represent only what was on the porch.  There's a whole lot more in the car hut.

Thank goodness for friends with children who are wanting to decorate with sparkly things this holiday season.

My lovely friend and her two lovely daughters came by this evening for first dibs on the Epic Holiday Purge which is commencing on the farmlette.  They dug, and shifted, and shuffled.  There was quite a bit of squealing glee, and only one minor smashing mishap involving a rather ugly orange (orange?? what was I thinking?) glass ball.  After about 30 minutes of exploring the accumulated holiday debris, the girls hauled away a couple of boxes of ornaments and jingling things, and crammed a tall faux Christmas tree into the passenger seat of the family car.  Don't they look happy?  Everybody loves Free Shopping!!

Happy kids, happy friend, happy happy me.  I can hardly wait to purge the rest of it.

Monday, November 5, 2012


They're back!  After dusting off the cobwebs and digging around in the debris filling the car hut, I successfully relocated the Pilgrim People.  I love them so.  They are my favorite decoration for Thanksgiving.  I was worried, at first, that perhaps they had swanned off to Plymouth or some such exotic locale, but then I found they were just hiding beneath some Halloween zombies.

Dang zombies, always trying to hide their food source from others.

Somehow, the boys have lost their sharing items, so perhaps the zombies had something to snack on after all.  I'll have to see if I can round them up something for them, so the girls don't get all the glory.

I like to think the bright orange snow fencing coordinates nicely with the pumpkins and faux mums.  I have so many many faux holiday decorating items.  It's started me thinking, I don't use half the crap I have carted around with me for years, so why not get rid of it all?  I'll keep the bits I want, that are sentimental, that I actually use year after year.  The rest of it?  Well, it can go to folks who can use it, right?  If nothing else, Goodwill will likely love getting it in time for the holiday season.

I mean, how many plastic wreaths does one girl need, anyway?  Definitely not eight.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Season Moves On

Sigh.  Halloween is over for another year.  It was fairly awesome.

Shiny shiny Mothership...

Every Halloween installation should have a self-serve bar, right?

Today saw lots of tinfoil being peeled off, aliens deflated, and pumpkins rounded up for consumption by various animals on the farmlette.  It also saw the resurrection of the Pilgrim People!  I love the Pilgrim People.  Oh, I know, I know:  The whole "the white people did NOT invite the indians to dinner" argument is very valid, but in my little fantasy world, history was different and so I have Pilgrim People standing proudly side-by-side in all their wooden post glory.  (I forgot to take a picture...whoops.)

This evening, after feeding and watering every animal in sight, I decided it was time to bring something else back from the cold.

 Holiday Village is BACK, bay-bee!  Too early?  Hah.  Never, I say, never!!

I want a whale, dammit.

I love the kid going for a doggie drag.

Ice skating in the park, anyone?

Hey wait...who's that?  It's the Big Man Himself!  I like his pony...

I know, some of you are probably feeling a little sick at the thought of holiday cheer already.  I love the season, though, and coming home from a long day of work and seeing my little village light up makes me smile every time.  I don't like all the BUYBUYBUYNOWNOWNOW hype that starts in August, or the incessant, insipid holiday music that is piped everywhere starting November 15th.  Life in Holiday Village is peaceful and quiet, with only occasional visits by Mothra and Godzilla (in disguise as sneaky kitties).

Pardon me while I go help myself to some ice cream.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

It's Tomorrow!

Yippee!  The candy and treats have been bought, the extension cords have been rounded up, and I have three giant rolls of aluminum foil, just waiting to bring the Mothership to life. Starting tomorrow morning, the final preparations for the big night will get underway (good thing I took the day off!)  By sundown, the aliens and their ship will be ready for all the kids to come by and trick-or-treat. The anticipation is heady stuff, I tell you.  I may be the only person in the room feeling that way, but I like to think the dogs share my enthusiasm.  They are snoring in a distinctly Halloween-friendly kind of way.  As for the cats, I swear they are auditioning for a scary noises tape--all kinds of wahhrrrrooowwweeeeeehissssssssssss noises, with a bit of thumping and thrashing when gratutitous hair pulling occurs.  Yes, it is definitely the Night Before My Favorite Holiday around here.

Halloween is nearly upon us!  Hide your black cats, find your biggest W-mart sack, and slap on a zombie mask, folks.  It's gonna be a fun day.

Monday, October 29, 2012

A Little Treat

Only one more day until my favorite holiday!  BOOOO!  Heee heee....

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Interstellar Revelries

I love Halloween.  I think it should be a national holiday, where everyone can dress up, be silly, and jump out and scream "BOOO!" at random strangers with no legal repercussions.

If you remember for previous years' postings, I go all out for Halloween decorating.  Oh, I decorate some for Thanksgiving (hello, pilgrim people) and alternative years I go a little wild for Christmas decorating.  Incidentally, this year falls under the category of Big Holiday Bling Extravaganza, so stay tuned for that to appear after the Thanksgiving mellowness is over.  Back to Halloween, it is my perennial favorite holiday, leading me to break out the scary sound CD, hang some ghouls about the joint, and carve a few dozen pumpkins.  Seriously, I carve a couple dozen pumpkins every year.  Yes, I know that is insane.  I prefer to think of it as insanely AWESOME.  There's been the stacked altar of pumpkins, the pumpkin ghoul army, the random pumpkin-headed tormented soul climbing out of a pit to much fun with squash, I tell you!

This year, it is the Alien Invasion.  The Mothership has crashed and the aliens have taken over the yard and rooftop.  They are friendly by day, and creepy by night.  I went out last night to see how they looked in the moonlight, and I had to go inside.  Alien movies have always given me the shivers, and although I know that these aliens are inflatable props, there was something about their misshapen heads all staring at me, unblinking...unmoving...menacing...yikes!  I shudder now to think of it.  Ack, aliens.  Freaky, man.  Just freaky.

I have plans to use a ridiculous amount of tinfoil this week, and I have finally found a use for green and blue mini-lights.  The fog machine and a red bulb should make it appear that the engine is on fire and smoking, and there will be vintage alien movies on the outdoor screen after dark.  It is going to be wonderful, I think.

Oh, and the pumpkins for this year?  Think "crop circles".

Pictures to come on Wednesday.  Happy Halloweening everyone!

P.S.  Once again, I'll be holding a food drive/donation drive for the local food pantry on Halloween night.  If you bring a can for the pantry, you get a special prize:  an alien finger puppet of your very own!  Plus, there will be adult treats this year, in the form of homebrew samples and hot coffee.  As always, I am giving out the REAL candy bars and bags of chips, so come on down and enjoy the spectacle!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Now Playing: Episode 2!

It's been a long wait, but...the next installment of The Chicken Lady's Yarn is now available!  Follow this link to the video, or see the streaming video at the top of the blog page.

Apparently, I can't tell my colors in this one...

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Ick Factor

Hi, all.  Things have been hopping around here.  Between work, school, general animalia mayhem, and attempting to have a lively social life, I have been one busy Chicken Lady.  Perhaps, one could even say a Headless Chicken Lady...all sqwak-squwak-squwwwaking, with a little blood shed spread around the place.  Eeesh.  Anyway, it's been a fun weekend involving a grown-up Halloween party and a luxurious night in a swanky downtown hotel.  I swear, the shower was enormous and glassed in with a rainfall shower head and fancy lemon verbena soaps.  The bed about inhaled you with all kinds of downy softness and crisp white sheets.  Sigh. I wish I could have stayed longer....particularly when I got home and was confronted by this:

Just kidding.  Kind of.  This photo is actually a before picture from an episode of Hoarders, possibly one of the most motivating programs on television.  Watch an episode or two of the craziness that some people live in, and try not to leap off the sofa and start scrubbing.

Still, my house was a mess with layers of dog-cat-person-hair everywhere.  When you can't really remember when the last time you swept the floor, it's probably been a bit too like a week.  I probably shouldn't reveal these things to you, lovely readers, but don't you feel better now that I have?  Yes, the Chicken Lady is quite often an overly busy, mostly sloppy grunge goddess.  I long for a British housekeeper to come along and keep me tidy.

That's actually not a bad idea.  I wonder, could my teeny budget afford a weekly housekeeper?  I wonder if it could also afford weekends in swanky hotels on a monthly basis?

Ahh, well.  Probably not both.  If I had to pick just one, I'd pick the hotel.  After all, you can't pass up the opportunity to lounge about in down and then have a good soak under a rainfall.

Back to scrubbing.  Laters, darlings!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Girl, Get Your Yarn On.

Today is a grey and wet Sunday, one that is perfect for staying inside where it is warm and dry and comfortable, with a good book and a cup of hot tea laced with honey.  It's also a great day to gather with a group of good friends to visit over knitting needles.  Once a month, the Knotty Knitters collect at one member's house or another, and while away a couple of hours together.  We show off our finished projects, share what we are currently working on, and listen to stories of all sorts of lively events that have transpired since we last met.  I have found its best to bring a mindless project along, one that doesn't require much concentration or (heaven forbid) counting of stitches.  Between the conversation and laughter, any project that needs thought never goes very well at all.  (Can you say, frog?)

I love Knitting Sundays.  They are a highlight of my entire month.  Knitting groups have been happening for ages, right up there with the quilting bees and spinning circles of yesterday.  The funny thing is, I believe that those long-ago gatherings were not very different at all from what happens today in our little group.  There is an enormous satisfaction in visiting with good friends and sharing a skill of handiwork.  If you have been thinking about picking up knitting, I highly recommend searching around for a group near you.  Knitters are everywhere, and most of the time, new folks are welcomed with open arms.  If you live in the Hay River area of Wisconsin, send me a line and I'll add you to the email list!  Trust me, its a wonderful time and a wonderful group of women to get to know.

Plus, it really motivates you to work on those languishing projects!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fun with Pumpkin

Isn't this a stitch?

Anyway, just a brief update:  
The Pumpkin Ale is pretty dang good.

It nearly shot out of the bottle when I opened it (there is nothing like a ferocious KAPOW to enliven your beer drinking experience), but once it settled down it behaved itself nicely in the glass.  There's a bitterness that sharpens your tongue, with a teeny bit of mellow sweetness and nice hint of rich spices at the very end of a deep swallow.  All in all, it's rather a lot like some of my more favorite microbrew Pumpkin Ales...not too shabby for my own super-micro'd brewery here on the farmlette!

Am I giving you all beer-experience envy out there?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

No One Can Resist My Balls

Remember this schtick from Saturday Night Live, years ago?

Schweddy balls.  Everybody's favorite treat.

My balls are a little less risque, but are still good.  I adopted this recipe from the lovely blogger over at and used what I had in my pantry.  As I don't stock chia seeds (what the heck are chia seeds??) or ground flax seeds, I just went for the basics of peanut butter, oats, honey and chocolate chips.

Ahhh, chocolate chips.  How do I love thee?  Very, very much.

This is what my (not schweddy) balls come out like:

Okay, they may not look so amazing, but they are pretty darn good.  They are also gluten-free, which I am hoping a coworker will enjoy when we have our staff meeting on Thursday.  I am making treats for everybody, and she never can enjoy them because she can't eat wheat or dairy or anything fun.  Okay, that last bit isn't true--she can have my balls!

Wait, that sounds kinda wrong....

The Chicken Lady's Balls

You will need:  one cup of old fashioned oats; 1/8 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice; 1/2 cup of almond meal (which is just finely ground almonds); pinch of salt; about 1/2 cup peanut butter, warmed and a little melted; 1/4 cup honey; 1 teaspoon vanilla extract; 2 BIG Tablespoons mini chocolate chips.

Combine the oats, spice, almond meal, and salt in a bowl.  In a small bowl, combine the warmed peanut butter, honey and vanilla until smooth.  Stir peanut butter mix into the oat mixture until all sticky and crumbly.  Mix in the chocolate chips until well distributed.  Using your hands, shape into roughly golf ball-sized balls and roll into a little more almond meal.  Allow to chill in the fridge, and then devour greedily. 

Om nom nom nom.  Oh, my balls are sooooo goooood!!

Monday, October 8, 2012

'Tis Soup Weather

Today it was so chilly and raw all day, I had to keep my new warm winter coat and hand-knitted cowl on all day.  Plus, I pulled on my snazzy new Goodwill-purchased fingerless gloves...I do love fingerless gloves!  Anyway, fall is officially here and today felt much more like late November than early October.  When this kind of weather rolls in, it is the perfect time to make a pot of soup and settle in for a night with a good book.

I make lots of different soups, often just pulling things out of the fridge and pantry that seem like they would be good together.  Sometimes I am right in my guesses, and sometimes....well, let's just say the chickens have a definite taste for botched batches of soup!  When I am searching for a good recipe of a particular kind of soup, I hit the internet and go surfing.  I always seem to find something good on  Take, for instance, this take on corn chowder:  Green and Red Tomato Corn Soup.  It's a great way to use up those green tomatoes, and I have been known to chop them and freeze them in containers, and the pull them out in the depths of winter and make this "summer" soup.  And then there is my perennial favorite for wintery weather, Minestrone Soup, which has the miraculous power to both soothe and revive you after a long day of slogging through slush and cold winds.  I mean, just look at it:

 Come on, who could resist THAT??  It runs a close second to my all time favorite, Mulligatawny Soup, which has spices, incredible flavor, and is a good way to use up some leftover roasted chicken.  I believe it can also cure the common cold--no kidding.  If you don't live in a household where having a leftover roasted chicken in the fridge is a common thing, I feel so sorry for you.  I also feel that you need to take immediate steps to remedy that sad situation! (Go roast a chicken, today. You'll feel better for it.)

For tonight's dinner, I did my usual dig through the fridge and cupboards thing, and wound up with a really good take on the classic chicken noodle soup.  It helped that nearly everything came from my garden at some point, but still, I think it can be replicated in your house with store-bought stuff (oh, the horror....haha!)

The Chicken Lady's Chicken Noodle Soup
You'll need: one partially consumed roasted chicken, which could be leftover rotisserie chicken you got somewhere...which I have never done, oh no, never me; about a cup of chopped tomatoes; about a cup of chopped swiss chard; one large carrot, diced or sliced as you prefer; two long stalks of celery, chopped as you like; one onion, you pick the color, and chop it finely; one clove of garlic, minced; pepper and salt and dried thyme to flavor, to your preferred amounts; and egg noodles of your choice (I had some garlic and parsley flavored ones in the pantry).
Take your chicken remains, and place into a large pot and just cover with water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for about 30 minutes.  Remove bones and chicken, set aside to cool.  Add the vegetables and seasonings to the pot, cover and return to a steady simmer. My tomatoes and chard were frozen, so they may take a little while to heat up and melt out of their frozen-in-a-wodge-state. When cool enough to handle, pick all the chicken off the bones, shred, and return to pot.  Allow to cook for about 30 minutes, until all the veggies are tender, and then toss in a handful of egg noodles.  Simmer for ten minutes more, until noodles are done.  Serve hot, with crusty bread.  I always adjust the salt and pepper to taste in my bowl, as I find too much salt can ruin a soup after it ages for a day (or in the freezer for a long while).  This is pretty good with a sprinkling of fresh Parmesan cheese on top, too.

Chicken Noodle Soup--it'll cure what ails you.