Saturday, December 31, 2011

Thank you, 2011, hello 2012.

2011 treated us well. We came a long way this year. Many changes, many good things.

Looking back, 2009 was good and bad. We got married, but we had a lot of job changes and hassle. I, quite honestly, was happy to see the year end. I hoped at the end of 2009 that the next year would bring us "happiness, stability, and calm."

I think 2010 was busy, busy busy. I think we both still felt unstable, not in our marriage, but in where we were headed with our lives.

I don't think 2009's wish really came true until this year. We're putting the final steps toward the "stability" wish, but I think that we've come a long way in finding happiness and calm.

So here's to the hope that 2012 holds. I think my wishes remain the same as 2009, but this time, for their continued presence: happiness, stability, and calm.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2011

New hen

Meet the newest, unexpected, member of our small chicken flock:

Yesterday afternoon, I received a call from the Backyard Farmer, a small, local, farm store in our town. "We finally caught the lost hen in that woman's backyard," Bill told me. He was referring to a woman who had called him to help her capture a hen that had been lost and wandered into her yard. It was starving. It took a few days, but they managed to coax the bird into a cat carrier and shut the door! Success! Bill knew I was on the hunt to get a Buff Orpington. Even though my flock was planned for the year, I couldn't turn down a free hen! And an approximately 5-month-old hen at that!

She's settled in fairly well. Baby's still at the bottom of the pecking order, with Fluffbutt and the newbie tied for second, with KFC as the queen of the roost. I'm happy though. The pecking order has been friendly, and the newbie has been eating.

We've clipped one wing because we don't need her escaping again. I'll keep the entire flock in their coop/run for about two weeks, just for the newbie to get acquainted and tied to the group. I also want to fatten her up a bit. Then we'll try all of them in the yard, once the newbie realizes that the coop is where she needs to go at night.

I think she's awfully pretty with those gold feathers. If Bailey befriends her, we'll not be able to tell where the fur ends and the feathers begin!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Mountain Rose Herbs

If you know me, you know I'm a sucker for local products, delicious things, cooking, and creativity. Mountain Rose Herbs is pretty much a combination of all three, and look, they have a giveaway.

Just thought I'd pass the link along!

And yes, I've purchased from them before. We shall not discuss the frequency or amounts! :)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What we've done this year

What a busy year it's been! Here are just a few of many many projects we've been up to:

Let's not forget about the smaller painting on wall projects, furniture building, the frame wall creation, the garden beds being built, and many more!

And, remember, since planning is only part of the process, remember that a lot has been planned/drawn-out/discussed for 2012: the pottery studio, the woodstove, the garden, trees in the yard, patio covers, etc.

Only links to a handful of projects, but my goodness, were we busy. I look back at where we were a year ago... and wow. Crammed in a tiny tiny rental cottage.

It's been quite the year.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Studio a go!

The pottery studio is a go! After getting a SKY HIGH quote, I huddled in a corner, then regrouped. I had really wanted to go with those electricians, since they had a great online deal secret coupon thingie, but it was still sky high. Plus, they ticked me off by adding extra things to the bid that I specifically did not ask for-- lame.

So, I regrouped and went out for more. And, we got a quote in that was more than half the original quote. WELL in our range of reasonable!


Unlike the upstairs, I'll try to document this better. We received a few Home Depot gift cards recently, so we're going to try to only use a portion of those for this project. Obviously, we can't pay the electrician with those (darn!), but having the electrician be the main cost will be ok by me.

I've already emptied out the garage of the three storage pieces for upstairs... and installed them! Well, if by "install" you mean put upstairs. Two still need doors and one needs to be painted, but it's better to have them up there and use them than having them clutter the garage. Photos to come!

PS: A special thank you to Young House Love for their recent post on bid-obtaining. I was skeptical the amount would come down much, but it did! Thanks YHL for giving me hope!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

For the O-Fam!

We took photos of your presents!

The radio for Bob from Laura!

The fox rock from Laura to Jess (the foxy dog is checking out the foxy rock)!

SOCKS!! (and note the hat too)

Scarf by talented Laura!

Present-opening interrupted for radio testing and kitchen hook-up.

Necklace and scarf from Laura!

The Bob is extremely happy with the ramekins and colander. You can't fake a smile like that!



Sock fitting session. Results: They fit! I tried to get him to put on shorts and pull the socks up to his knees and dance, but no go. :(

Frankie approves of the scarf too (though he waited to show affection until after Bob seemed occupied reading Laura's book). Catus interruptus.

Knead knead knead...

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

May your day be merry.

As for us, we have each other and our families (though separated by geographic distance).

Our cats are currently high on fresh catnip.

The dogs have bones and just joyously chased a squirrel out of the yard.

Good tidings and blessings for all, indeed.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The coop plans for 2012

Yes, it's Christmas Eve Eve, and I'm not posting Christmas things. It's two days away and there are other things also going on....

Like chicken planning!

A couple of our hens are reaching the 1.5 year mark, meaning that now's our opportunity to sell and replace. It's difficult to sell a hen once they stop laying, but many will take a hen at 1.5 years old.

I thought about doing this at the end of fall when the hens stop laying, but between Fluffbottom being a cute new mom to her chick and KFC continuing to lay(!!!) through late fall and winter (one egg a day!), I'm still at a flock of three.

But, next month, if all goes well, I'll get two baby olive-eggers (they lay eggs that have dark green shells!-- combo between Aracauna and a Cuckoo Maran) and another copper maran. Then, a month later, my favorite, local, small-farm store will have salmon faverolle and (possibly) lavender orpingtons.

SO, come May, our coop could look like this:
That's six birds total, but maybe five, depending on the Orpington. The coop was built for 6-7, so this will work out well! I won't have to shuffle any birds out anytime soon due to age, AND I'll get enough eggs for neighbors too (they have been asking. A lot.).

So that's the plan. We'll see how things change.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Pottery studio.

With the upstairs nearly finished, we're beginning to put in some storage.

Now, when it comes to storage, we really try NOT to be pack rats. There's a hierarchy: Stuff we use once a year (eg: holiday decorations) gets put in a place where we don't have to see it (like the attic). Winter outdoor clothing gets put in a less convenient spot then, say, jars of canned food. And anything that goes for more than a year without being touched is analyzed for donation or tossing.

All that said, we've realized that the small storage space upstairs should be enough room for us. And that means our garage won't have a ton of stuff in it.

We had planned on building a pottery studio for Bob up on our top level of our backyard. Our neighbors have a kiln and wheel but no space, and we have space but no kiln and wheel. It works out.

But, building an entire building is a bit much. That's at least 5 years away. Then I thought: "why not the garage?"

Why not, indeed.

So, we had an electrician come out yesterday. If the quote is right (we'll find out today, if I can get some info to him), we'll get the garage wired for the large outlet that a kiln would require. There are other precautions too we'd need to take for ventilation, but, luckily, our garage is a pretty safe place already.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Darn it.

Yesterday, I posted about how happy I was to get a garbage disposal. Hooray! Fixed!

Today, the bathroom light switch doesn't work.

Time to break out the scotch.

** UPDATE! Nevermind! Guess the circuit breaker under "bathroom" doesn't control bathroom lights. Wonderful husband man went outside, poked around, and.... LIGHTS!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Gift Card Chicken

My in-laws sent me, amongst other presents, a Home Depot gift card that came with its own little apron. The only members of our menagerie this would fit were the chickens... and KFC was the closest hen when I opened the coop door tonight.
Note that Fluffbutt is a bit jealous. She wants one too. Please feel free to email me and I'll give you our address so you can send a gift card for her to wear too. :)


Yup. 30. Today. My parents keep trying to get me riled up about the supposed "milestone," but to be honest, I'm not bothered. It is what it is, and it sure beats the alternative!

Bob is getting me a garbage disposal. Yes, REALLY. I really want a new one, but it's been an expensive year and we've done without. But, thanks to a gift card from my boss covering part of the cost, I am so happy to be getting one. Crazy? No. I already have what I really want. A garbage disposal is just part of the cake icing.

So yes. 30. May the next 30 be action-packed... in a good way!

Friday, December 16, 2011

2356 Miles.

2356 miles.

1 day, 15 hours driving.

Dammit, Ohio family, ya live too far away! Bob and I are a bit wistful tonight.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Projects for the new year.

I have a glut of projects to do, and they're beginning to pile up in the garage. Since we're surrounded with holiday parties and cheer right now, I thought I'd make a list of New Years projects.

  • Replace the closet door in the bedroom and office. They're boring hollow doors right now, and I have perfectly-sized french door replacements, already cut to size. They're half-painted, so that still needs to be done, as well as hinge placements chiseled out.
  • Built cabinet space around the laundry machines. I already have the cabinet ($35!) but it needs to be painted. This will also involve putting a tabletop above the machines, as well as an end wall.
  • Build a wall around the stairwell. It's not safe with what is currently up there.
  • Build the storage unit on the other side of the stairwell, opposite the laundry machines. I've already drawn plans and bought two cube things I'm converting to cabinets.
  • Install crown molding upstairs (after everything else is finished so it has a very finished look).
  • Hang art in the office
  • Make cabinet fronts and drawer fronts in bedrooms look nicer.
  • Install better organization in cabinet and drawers in bedroom.
  • Paint file cabinet, install new hardware on desk and cabinet, and fix up filing system.
  • Have someone else (gasp!) put in patio covers. We already know who we're going with; we just need to figure out when and narrow down what.
  • Paint bathroom-- very porous plaster in there right now and that's not good.
  • Fix up shelving unit next to fridge. It's this rickety unit we inherited from the prior owners. It works... but not well.
  • See if there are wood floors under the linoleum. If so, get estimates on what it would cost to remove linoleum and refinish floors with a high gloss.
  • Install deck and ?? on bottom tier outside. We haven't really finished deciding what we're going to put in, so we're going to put the patio covers in first and then sketch.
  • Clean garage and remove all storage racks. Install new, permanent, cabinets along the wall in the garage.
  • Decide whether or not to finish off the garage from the crawl space.
  • Fix up garden area
  • Finish painting chicken coop (yes, really) and finish building top 1' of coop.
  • Fix up rock stairs so less rickety.
  • Plant two trees on middle slope in back yard.
  • Install stairs going from tier 2 to tier 3.
  • Plant better plants on tiers in front yard.
  • Perhaps build small deck on second tier in front yard with two Adirondack chairs.
  • Create path from stairs to chicken coop
  • Plant wisteria on pergola (in between the two patio covers)
  • Fix driveway
  • Fix slant bottom maple tree.
  • Remove apple tree? It's awfully funky...
That's all I can think of right now, but I'm sure we'll come up with more!

Holiday Parrrtay!

We had a holiday party. Of course, I didn't take too many photos. Too busy seeing all the wonderful people (35+) who came! I didn't count the guests, but we did use up all the 45 glass goblets we had, plus several additional cups.

And, here's the spread!
There were:
  • Prosciutto-wrapped dates that were stuffed with chevre and a small piece of gorgonzola.
  • Bacon-wrapped sausages
  • Caprese bites--- toothpicks of tomato, basil, and fresh mozzarella, drizzled in olive oil and basalmic vinegar, and sprinkled in salt and pepper
  • Two chevre logs, one surrounded by raspberries, one surrounded by blackberries, each with sunflower seeds on top and drizzled in honey
  • A veggie tray, but in tree form (see photos below) with dip
  • Tomatoes with dip
  • Croquembusch- but I didn't get the chance to make the carmel (and our propane tank ran out for the stovetop), so we didn't stack them. Instead, we just dipped them a little bit in honey. But, the puffs and interior custard totally turned out, so there's no reason why we couldn't have stacked it!
  • Pfeffernnusse cookies
  • Chocolate bonbon pops
  • Two chocolate tree cakes (I made them with tree molds I had)
  • Chocolate-dipped marshmallows with sprinkles on straws (for stirring into hot drink or for kids to just eat!)
And for the drinks:
  • Hot chocolate
  • Hot cider
  • Eggnog
  • Wine
  • Sparking cider
  • A champagne/cherry/delicious cocktail (called a "Poinsettia Mimosa")
  • Another cocktail that tasted like chocolate covered cherries (called a "Cuppa Good Cheer")

And here's that veggie tray tree I mentioned!

So, that was our party. Needless to say, we did NOTHING on Sunday! Tired!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Destiny Moondrool

We were having a discussion tonight on names we like. No, we're not pregnant, but you know, this sort of conversation comes up.

Me: "I like ___"

Bob: "That's nice, but a bit hippy. I like ____"

Me: "I've always liked that name too! But seriously, that's a bit hippy also."

Bob: "No, Destiny Moondrool is a hippy name. My suggestion is normal."

I'm SO someday putting "Destiny Moondrool" on our list of possible kidnames as a joke. But, please, someone monitor Bob when we someday have a kid. A joke will not be funny if it extends to an actual birth certificate.

*** Editing note requested by Bob: I misheard him. Apparently, he said "Destiny Moonchild." My apologies, dear husband!

Christmas Hat Cupcakes

I've been wanting to try these ever since I saw them on pinterest.

I made them for Bob's work. I ran out of red food dye though... so they were pink santa hats.
I think they are still pretty cute though!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Outside decorations

We're having a holiday party this next Saturday, so it was more than high time to get our outdoor decorations up. We're getting there... we're still working on lights. It's been a bit chilly outside--- right now it's 26 and there's freezing fog. Not really light-hanging conditions!

On our front door, there's a camellia branch wreath with gold ribbon.

Our arborvitae along the stairs to the first tier all have dark red ribbon (harder to put on the plant than it looks).

We did have a poinsettia on the stairwell, but it was just too cold outside.

Front stairwell.

Our little tree next to the front door needs some decorating, but that's a quick thing.

From the street.

I made a lot of garlands for the bottom tier and decorated them with gold balls.

Yes, we live on a hill.

So, that's the outdoors for now! Now it just needs to warm up a tad so we can finish the outside fixings!