Wednesday, December 19, 2012

High Crime At Christmas

WARNING: This post is not for the faint of heart. Please read responsibly and keep your little ones away from the monitor.

We have a problem here in the middle of nowhere. Our home, while out in the country where most folks would feel safe, is smack dab in the center of a high crime neighborhood. Some days it's downright terrifying to live here.

Today is one of those days. The kids and I were folding laundry and enjoying some afternoon PBS shows on the tv. Out of nowhere it happened.

Before I give you the horrifying details, I want to tell you that we are fortunate to have a sheriff living right down the road from us.  The police all but hover around our place, the crime is so bad. They are brave men who work hard to keep us safe.

Now, the crime. This ne'er do well went blatantly putzing by our home, no doubt full of mischief. I gathered the kids close to me, loaded the gun, and hunkered down in the closet. My heart was racing. Then, a brave man in blue, came racing down the road and pulled over the criminal. And not a moment too soon! He was out there with the man for an hour. We kept peeking out to check progress. We were too frightened to come out from our hiding place, even with the officer out there. Finally, a tow truck came and the whole ordeal ended. My heart has yet to return to its normal beat.

I had no doubt what the criminal's offense was when I saw the golf cart on the back of the tow truck. Yes, the black-hearted scoundrel had driven his golf cart right down the road! I'm always amazed and dumb-founded at the brazen actions of the criminally minded, aren't you? I would never in my life have thought to do such a thing. If only they would use their powers for good rather than evil!

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Tree

I posted the other day about our Christmas decorations and promised a post on our tree.

 Years ago, we decided to create a family tradition. I came up with the idea of decorating our tree with snowmen. Every year I take the kids out shopping for an ornament. We go to the same store every year. It has four floors of crafty, home decorations, not just for Christmas. We take our time and go through every room on every floor, making sure no tot miss anything. After the ornaments are picked, we take them to the front desk and pick out a caramel. I pay and we head out to the porch area. There they have sample-size cups of fresh, hot apple cider. It's an experience we all look forward to every year. This year, Mr Farmer got to come with us for the first time. He is not one to take his time, so I expected to be rushed through our process and leave feeling irritated. But he was awesome! He walked slowly with us, did very little sighing, didn't squawk at the prices of our ornaments, and never rushed us. I was excited he got to share that experience with us this year. I don't know if he felt the same, but at least he pretended. He's a good man!

  Each child has their own reasons for picking what they do. Sissy chooses ones that symbolize something important from the year-- start of school, first cookie baking, etc. The Boy tries to find the same ornament each year--he has four years of the same lantern ornament with slight differences. And Baby looks for anything that sparkles, is pink, and girly. And if all else fails, like it did this year, she picks one that looks like candy.

This next one is Mr Farmer's and mine from this year. It symbolizes the purchase of our truck this year.

That first year, our tree was pretty bare, but it has filled in quite nicely over the years. The plan is to give the kids their ornaments when they get a home and tree of their own.

I am amazed, as I look over the ornaments, at how many different variations of snowmen there are.

And to top off the tree? On the first Christmas Mr Farmer and I spent together, we didn't have a  lot of money, so I made my own angel. I used a teddy bear. Years have come and gone and we have tried to put a star or angel bought from stores, but Mr Farmer wants this one. It means something to him. And so, we use our angel from that first Christmas together.

 When the tree goes up, the kids can't wait until they get to put their own decorations on it. They feel each one and try to remember it from years past and why it was special. Sometimes there's a special story with it and other times there's not.

A funny story about The Boy this year. Mr Farmer watched The Boy putting his ornaments on the tree. Mr Farmer said it went like this. Mr Farmer said, " The Boy really tries to find the perfect place for each one. He walks around the tree. Looks up and down, thinking, contemplating. Then he puts his ornament on a branch. He takes his next one, walks around the tree. Looks up and down, thinking, contemplating. Then he puts his ornament on the exact same branch as the one before." He ended up with five of his ornaments on the same branch. It must have been the perfect spot! So perfect, he couldn't imagine his precious ornaments anywhere else.

I will add a few apple decorations, pine cones, or cranberry garland to add some color to the tree, but it's mainly just snowmen and a teddy bear angel.

Does your family have any traditions?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Madness Update

I have gone completely mad. And that concludes my update.

How are you doing on your holiday plans? I am working toward my goal of getting all, or almost all, of my Christmas shopping, decorating, and wrapping done by December 5.

We decided to shampoo the carpets before putting up the decorations. So, we cleared the rooms of their furniture (as much as possible) and got to work. I cleared furniture and vacuumed, while Mr Farmer got the shampooer out and ready.

Once I had the room prepared, he went to work. I watched him work. I do enjoy that part of my job!

All clean! We put all the furniture back in the room once the floor was dry. Now we can decorate for Christmas.

The tree.

I will do another post on the tree, so be sure to check back.

Christmas cheer in the bathroom.

A snow family in a winter wonderland. I made all these snow people a few years back.

Stockings hung above the window with care.

And a few more snowmen sprinkled around.

This is my favorite snowman. I love his colors and textures.

I still have 3 gifts to wrap and some cookies to bake, but then I'm completely done.

How are your Christmas preparations coming?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Hay Now!

Today was a day spent in the hay. If you've never smelled good hay, you are really missing out on something. 

First, I decided to clean out the chicken coop. By myself. This is usually a family event but I wanted to do it by myself. There's something so good about doing physical work and finishing the job.

And there's nothing better than walking into a clean coop and breathing deeply the fresh smell of hay!

The girls are so happy. They have new hay to scratch through and fluff. Sometimes they completely disappear under it as they look for goodies.


Before I got the fresh hay put in, our hay buyer showed up to load hay. I had no idea he was coming so I was glad that I got out of my pajamas this morning! Not that I would have cleaned the coop in my pjs. Probably. Why, what have you heard?

So off I went to help load out 75 small square bales. That's all we had left for the year. As much as I love putting up hay and the smell of hay, I don't really like to load or touch it. It makes me itch and itch and sneeze and itch some more. But I get paid real money for this itching and sneezing, so I do it happily.

So now our hay stack is gone, my chicken coop is clean, and I have a check for real money. I'm not sure which one of these things makes me happiest. Probably the clean coop.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Sometimes when I make my batch of bread, I will take out one of the balls of dough and use it to make stromboli for supper. I got the recipe from a friend a few years back, but change it according to ingredients on hand or taste. The original recipe called for using frozen dough balls like you buy at the store. Any dough recipe would work as long as it is about a pound of dough.

First, roll out the dough to a large rectangle. Be careful not to roll it too thin. It needs the thickness to hold all the ingredients inside when you roll it up.

Next, I add the sauce. I use my homemade spaghetti sauce with meat in it.

I show you this next step not to intimidate you, but to encourage you to the level of perfection I have attained. I have laid the salami and pepperoni slices precisely and beautifully, covering the dough. This precision allows for meat in every bite. One must take this into consideration. The last thing you want after slaving over supper is to have someone complain that they got a bite of dough and no meat. The drama!

Now, add your cheese and roll up tightly. This is where the thickness of the dough will come into play. If it's too thin, it may break or stretch apart. If this happens, just pinch it back together. Once you have it all rolled up, pinch the edge closed.

 With the edge pinched closed, place your roll onto a cookie sheet, seam-side-down.

And bake at 375 for approximately 35 minutes.

On this one, I sprinkled the top with italian seasonings. Heavenly!

Stromboli is good fresh from the oven and also really good cold from the fridge the next day. Once cold, it can be picked up and eaten like a sandwich.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Dehydrated Apple Slices

I wanted to try my hand at dehydrating, so I decided on apple slices with cinnamon and sugar.

I took out my peeler /corer /slicer. It makes quick work of peeling, coring, and slicing apples uniformly.

Plus the kids love to eat the strings of skin.

Since the peeler/corer/slicer leaves one continuous corkscrew of apple, I take and cut the apple in half and that separates the slices. I put the slices in a bowl and sprinkle cinnamon and sugar over them. I stir to coat all the slices.

Then I just lay them on the dehydrator trays in a single layer. I dehydrated them at 158 degrees for several hours, until they were crispy.

I did two kinds of apples and the granny smith was by far the best of the two. They were absolutely delicious! My kids love apples anyway, but they really liked these.

Some of the pieces broke when I took them off the trays. This worked out great. I crushed them into smaller pieces and used them in our oatmeal packets.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Fruit Leather

Since I had the dehydrator out the other day, I decided to make some fruit leather. This is otherwise known as a fruit roll-up. Did you know you could make you own? You can do it without a dehydrator, too.

First, I took some apple/pear sauce I had canned. I wanted it to be thicker, so I cooked it over the stove for a bit. Then I added some frozen blueberries to it and put it through the blender to mix it well. Then, I put it in a jelly bag and hung it for a bit to remove even more liquid.

Next, I spread the mixture onto my fruit leather sheets that came with the dehydrator. I also spread some on a piece of parchment paper covered with plastic wrap. I turned the oven onto its lowest setting (which is 170). I put the others in the dehydrator at highest setting for a couple of hours until dry.

Then, I just cut them into strips, peeled them off, and put them on wax paper. Finally I rolled up the wax paper and leather. 

I can't wait to make more with other types of fruit.

Try it yourself one of these days!

Friday, November 16, 2012

I'm Smokin' Today!

One of our favorite things to eat is smoked pork loin. Or smoked roast. Or smoked chicken. Or smoked fish. Or smoked ribs. We are smokers, but not in the "black lung" sense of the word.

We bought our Weber smoker a couple of years ago and absolutely love it. The day we smoked this time was a beautiful, sunny day. We were outside working on our pantry project. This meant that we got to smell the aroma of smoking meat all day. There is nothing like that smell!

Mr Farmer went out to start the smoker, while I got the meat ready.

I made a rub for the pork loin and massaged it in. Then I took it out to the waiting smoker.

After placing the meat on the smoker, we put the lid on and walked away.

After a couple of hours, we removde the chicken and ribs. They aren't as thick and are done earlier.

I placed the ribs in the crock pot with some bbq sauce. Then, we ate the chicken for lunch in the form of delicious chicken sandwiches.

Once the pork loin got up to temperature, we took it inside, too. After it cooled for awhile we ran the pork loin through the meat slicer and packaged it up for the freezer. This meat makes perfect sandwiches. I also used some of it cut up and put on our nachos for supper one night.