Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Thanksgiving extravaganza is over.......

.....and that's a good thing. As much as I love the family, it's good to have my house back to myself. I had to get everyone out so I could scrape the goo off the kitchen floor! Ten adults, five kids seven and under, four dogs, three cats, one baby boy and a partridge in a pear tree (just kidding about the partridge) makes for a very messy floor. And the noise! Did I forget to mention that the decibel level was that of an airplane! Well, it seemed that way at times.

There are barely any leftovers, thank goodness. We ate our second turkey dinner yesterday at noon and I sent what was left home with David's mom and dad. I even gave her the turkey carcass for making soup. I don't want to see another turkey for a while!

I'm taking Fannie's challenge to "wage a battle against embitterment and take part in 365 days of grace in small things" There is certainly a lot to be thankful for in my life, but sometimes I have to fight the negative side of me. I hope this will make me more thoughtful.

1. I'm thankful that my house is still big enough to hold our loved ones for holidays.

2. I'm glad that I can sit at my computer and look out at my chickens in the backyard at the same time.

3. I'm happy the sun is shining today.

I was visiting Laurie and she had a great post about TOMS shoes and the good work they are doing to help Ethiopian children prevent a terrible disease called podoconiosis. Please watch this YouTube video to find out more about how you can help.

And, finally, some adorable little people whom I just happen to call my grandchildren, plus one....Xan, their cousin.

Matthew is getting his first bite of cereal from Mommy.
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Girls trying on their first (plastic)heels.
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Got milk?

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Matthew and Great-Grandma Phyllis
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Saturday, November 22, 2008


"Hello, is this Jenny Craig?"

"Yes, this is Jenny Craig, how may we help you?"

"Well, I think my cat has a weight problem. Do you have a plan for cats?"

"What makes you think your cat is overweight?"
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'Nuff said.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Getting a head start

The cranberry salad and cranberry sauce are in the fridge. Two down and umpteen to go! Here are the recipes for those who enjoy cranberries.

1 12-oz. package cranberries (minus the icky ones)
1 navel orange (cut in chunks)
1/2-1 cup walnuts, or any nut you prefer
3/4 cup sugar
1 small package Cranberry Jello
1 medium apple, coarsely chopped

1. Pulse nuts in food processor a few times, then put into large bowl.
2. Process one-half the cranberries and one-half the orange chunks at a time, until finely chopped. Add to the nuts.
3. Add sugar and stir.
4. Dissolve Jello in 3/4 cup boiling water. I do this right in a 2-cup glass measuring cup. Cool quickly with 1 cup ice cubes, mixing until all are melted. Add to cranberry mixture. Chill for at least 2 hours. Will keep two weeks, refrigerated. If it lasts that long!




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1 12-oz. package cranberries (see above)
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar, or to taste (I like mine tart!)
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
Zest from one orange

1. Sort and rinse cranberries and put in medium saucepan. Add water, sugar, ginger and orange zest. Bring to a boil; reduce temperature and simmer for 10 minutes. Let cool. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
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Goodwill keeps me warm

Kaitlyn and I were killing time yesterday, so we went to the Goodwill thrift shop. I like to look for unusual dishes and table linens. I found this sweet little crocheted afghan made with wool thread. It is sooo soft and warm and it isn't too large. It's just big enough to throw over me while I watch television.

The person who made it must have used a very small crochet needle. It has really fine stitches. I put it next to one I made a long time ago. The stitches on mine look huge next to this one. It makes me want to go out and buy some wool thread and make one myself, but the old wrists won't let me. The repetitive motion kills me.

Kaitlyn turned three on Wednesday! She still wants to say she's two. I guess it will take a week or so to realize she's a big three-year-old girl. Her party was low-key with it being in the middle of the week. She was fine with that. She doesn't like being the center of attention. I can't believe how much older she looks in these pictures. She's growing up.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Thanksgiving is a-comin'

Have you written your Thanksgiving menu? I started mine yesterday. It's not that it's that much different from any previous year. We're very traditional when it comes to holiday meals. I like to have it written down, because it makes it easier to make my shopping list. I am gonna go a little crazy this year and make Streuseled Sweet Potato Casserole instead of the usual Candied Sweet Potatoes. I'll probably get some protests, but I decided to change that particular item for the reduced calorie and fat count. I have a recipe from Cooking Light magazine that got rave reviews on their website.

The menu is as follows:
Roast Turkey w/Giblet Gravy
Streuseled Sweet Potato Casserole
Mashed Potatoes
Corn (frozen, from my in-laws garden)
Brussels Sprouts w/pecans
Green Beans
Cranberry-Orange Salad
Whole Cranberry Sauce (Homemade)
Cranberry Jelly (from the can)
Homemade bread (my mother-in-law)
Pecan, Pumpkin and Dutch Apple Pies

Is that carb hell, or what? And, yes, we have to have three kinds of cranberry side dishes. The jelly is for my father-in-law. I have to have the whole sauce which I make with fresh ginger and orange peel. Everyone else likes the cranberry salad.

These are serving dishes that I love to use for the Thanksgiving feast. Some are family treasures, and a couple of them are just because I love them. Starting with the white leaf bowl which I bought myself and going clockwise. The large red and gold bowl was a birthday gift from my best buddy, Cindy. You can heat it in the oven and it makes a great bread bowl and keeps it warm throughout the meal. The round Depression glass covered butter dish is from David's Grandma Hinkle. The oblong green Depression dish is from my mother and the one I put the cranberry salad in. The little green dish I bought because it matches Mom's dish. The gravy boat belonged to Mom. The oval pink dish is also from Grandma Hinkle's collection and holds the cranberry jelly. I always feel close to my family when I use these dishes. This is just a small representation of the ones that I treasure and I hope my children will love them for me when I'm gone.

Here's the recipe for the casserole:


Assemble the potato mixture and sprinkle with the streusel, then freeze the casserole up to 2 weeks ahead of Thanksgiving. Thaw in refrigerator and bake as directed. Or cook just the potatoes a day ahead, mash and refrigerate and proceed with the recipe as directed (starting with the addition of half-and-half) the day you're serving the dish.

Add 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper if you want to add a bit of heat to this sweet dish.

18 servings (serving size: about 1/2 cup)

14 cups (1-inch) cubed peeled sweet potato (about 5 pounds)
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Cooking spray
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 375°.

Place potato in a Dutch oven, and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 12 minutes or until tender. Drain.

Combine the half-and-half and next 4 ingredients (half-and-half through egg) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add potato to egg mixture; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Spoon potato mixture into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Combine flour and sugar in a food processor; pulse to combine. Add chilled butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in pecans; sprinkle over potato mixture.

Cover and bake at 375° for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 25 minutes or until the topping is browned and the potatoes are thoroughly heated.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Tobey, etc.

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This picture of Tobey is for Ruth over at synch-ro-ni-zing. I thought Tobey looked a lot like her cat Bishop, but now I see they really aren't that similar. He's a handsome guy, don't you agree? He came to our backyard in August of 2007, nothing but skin and a rack of bones. Poor, starving little guy, of course I had to feed him despite David's protests.

"We're not keeping that cat."
"Don't feed that cat!"
(Me)"You know I can't NOT feed that cat!"
"We're not keeping that cat."
(Him)"What are you naming the cat?"
(Also Him)"How about Tobey?"

As you can see, Tobey has recovered from his on-the-brink-of-death starvation quite nicely. He has turned out to be the best mouser/moler/voler I've ever had. We had a terrible problem with voles before Tobey came around. They were destroying the holly bushes on either side of the basement stairs by eating the roots. I was at a loss to prevent them from dying. It would have been devastating for the birds in Winter, as they use them for shelter at night. It seems that they will survive thanks to Tobey. The chickens are also thankful. Tobey brings his kills to the patio where the hens promptly dispatch the bodies. It's quite amusing to see them play keep-away and then, all of a sudden, one will slurp it down, fur and all, with the tail disappearing last. Yummy!
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This is Tobey's compadre, Angel. I found her when she was about five weeks old last October. I was driving to the Recycling Center on a busy state route. There were several cars in front of me that were slowing down to a crawl and weaving out into the other lane. My immediate thought was there was an animal in the road. Sure enough, when I got close I saw this itty-bitty kitty in my lane. I put the van in park and hit the emergency lights, got out and ran around the front. The people behind me were not too happy with their delay. The kitten ran under the front of my van and I just managed to reach her before she got too far. I scooped her up and ran back to the door (all this taking, at the most, 30 seconds), holding her up so the frustrated drivers could see why THEY were being held up. I saw several Ahhhhs. I took her straight to my vet who kept her overnight to run tests and give her a bath. She was covered with fleas.

She received a clean bill of health, but I learned that she is stone deaf which is common in pure white cats. She's a pistol, but she and Tobey are good buddies. She eats like a pig and, of course, she has a delicate bowel problem and has to eat special food which costs a bloody fortune! Aren't I lucky?

This morning I remembered this cute little chicken basket that my mother-in-law bought me for Christmas at least twenty-five years ago. It has sat on the shelf in the breakfast nook for the last eight years. It's one of those things that you just don't see anymore. I was looking for something pretty to put some eggs in for a picture and glanced over in that direction. Aha! There it was!
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Monday, November 3, 2008

A cabin in the woods

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Our third annual Hocking Hills Weekend was wonderful. The weather was perfect and there was still some color on the trees. We ate too much, but hopefully hiked off some of the excess calories. This is our second year to stay at the Hemlock Cabin and I think it will be "our" cabin from now on. We enjoy the solitude it provides and the ambience is just right. There's plenty of room so that we don't get in each others' way and there are two bathrooms--very important detail! We brought waaaay too much food and ended up carting half of it back home. On Friday night we had chicken noodle soup that I had made at home. It was delicious, if I do say so myself, and we ate it with some crusty bread that I didn't make.

When it got dark, we put on our swimsuits and headed out to the hot tub. It was a perfect night. The stars were so bright and the temperature wasn't too cold. Not like last year when our hair froze while we were in the tub! We just melted our cares away.

On Saturday, the guys went out early to bowhunt (mostly they just sit in the woods and listen to the quiet) while we girls lazed in front of the fireplace before going out to search for some antique bargains. I found a lovely little Made in Japan cream pitcher.

Then we had lunch at the Spotted Owl Cafe, which has a huge stone fountain in the front of the restaurant. After that we headed back to the cabin to meet the guys for an afternoon of hiking.

Saturday evening we treated ourselves to a meal at Millstone BBQ in Logan. The food was delicious and the server was very congenial, but not overbearing. It was too early to go home, so we did a little more antiquing and I found a beautiful solid maple twin-size four-poster bed for Kaitlyn's birthday this month. It is almost perfect and just needs a little cleaning and touch-up on one of the legs. It has solid maple side rails, too, but no slats. David can cut those very easily. Now I just have to get a mattress set. The best part is the bed only cost $33.50, including tax. I don't think they knew what they had. I was so happy! It will be perfect for a little girl.

Sunday morning we cooked a huge brunch. I, of course, brought eggs from home and we had Jimmy Dean sausage, homemade biscuits and hash browns. I didn't eat another thing until evening when we finished off the rest of the chicken noodle soup with the leftover biscuits.