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 hell...so 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 long...by 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 www.howsweeteats.com 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 allrecipes.com.  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:

courtesy allrecipes.com
 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.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Happiness is a Clean Coop

The girls' housing was in a shambles.  Poo and feathers everywhere, old shavings and straw pounded to dust.  They needed a cleaning, and this morning (clear and cold and full of sun) was the perfect morning to get out there and get to it.  After scooping out all the old muck and putting it around the black raspberries for wintertime decomposition, a bale of fresh shavings went into the Big Coop, and a straw/hay mix was shared between the Little and Big habitations.  The ladies love the hay, nibbling on the dried greens and cooing with ecstasy when they find a hidden bug or two to gobble up.  Of course, once everything was clean, in they came to check it out:

"See any bugs yet, girls?"  "No, but check out these fresh shavings!  Whoo!"

"Ooh la la, new nesting material, ladies!"

"Ahem...a little privacy, please?  I need to lay an egg."
 Taking a cue from Elfrida, I left the girls to their explorations and decided to pull the five short (3-foot-long) rows of carrots left in the front raised bed gardens.  Can you believe how many I found?!?

A whole five-gallon bucket, full of sweet, orange roots and feathery greens.  As you can see, Beezle the cat is in awe.  Now, what the heck am I going to do with all of them??

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I Got Cold...

...so I did this:

The inaugural fire of the new wood stove! Ahhh, I am basking in the delicious glow of burning carbon as I type.  Sure, I could go make dinner or watch a podcast or a movie or something, but wouldn't you rather watch this?

So lovely!  Crackle crackle crackle POP.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Future Warmth

On Saturday, an incongrously balmy day, I got a giant load of split and aged oak wood.  I had forgotten what a huge pile one cord of wood can make.  I had also forgotten what a looooooong time it takes to stack a cord of wood. I started on Saturday, and finished in the early afternoon of Sunday.  I didn't move wood all night by any means, but it sure wasn't a fast project.  Thank goodness for my giant cart!

But at the end, I have four good sized stacks laid back to back on the old concrete pad that once housed the oil tank for a former furnace (which is still crouching in the cellar under the kitchen like a malevolent beast).  My fruit crate-turned-wood box is full, and I have a mighty fine pile of bits and pieces of kindling that should let me start a couple dozen fires.  Eventually, I may need another cord of wood delivered, but for now, I am feeling like the cold weather can come visiting without too much trouble.

That's a good thing, as it sounds like a solid freeze is expected on Friday.  I'd better get those goldfish in before then...