Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Simple Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends! It was a beautifully chilly day here on the hill and we were the hosts for dinner today. It was a mainly local food meal - we purchased our turkey from a local farmer, potatoes from our garden, homemade bread for our stuffing, and brussel sprouts from another local farming couple.

Although I inevitably stress about the meal, it's not because I'm making a complicated recipe or because we're making a million and one dishes. We keep it simple. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and a vegetable are all we need to be satisfied.

We are working our way through our white potatoes from the garden this summer. They are starting to get some eyes, but they are just fine once they are peeled. And they make some awesome mashed potatoes!  Now that we have a table saw, one of our projects for the winter is building root cellar storage and potato bins are on the list!

My grandma requested lots of stuffing, so she walked me through how she made hers. It's pretty basic with lots of bread, onion, eggs, butter, and a splash of chicken broth. Kole was excited that stuffing was essentially just bread, but was disappointed when he saw onions. Oh well, more for us!

My concern really lies in making sure we get the turkey fully cooked! And not cooked as in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation cooked turkey!  We have been getting our turkeys locally for the last several years, but this year Becky and Larry raised some heritage turkeys to meet a demand. We have become accustomed to, and prefer, heritage chicken so we decided to give the turkey a go. If you're not familiar with the heritage breed poultry, they tend to take longer to grow and have less white breast meat. Since we've never cooked one before, Dan scoured the internet. He found that most of the people he found had butterflied the turkey and it was done in a little over an hour at a high temperature. I was skeptical, but I told him the turkey was his domain!

So, a little after 11, he put the turkey in and by 12:30 it was ready! Not bad for an 11.5 pound bird! He made sure to use two meat thermometers to ensure that it was fully cooked. The website has a lot of good tips for ensuring your turkey is properly prepared - these tips are good for more than just Thanksgiving! And while this video may make you giggle, food safety is important!

I love how this infographic shows the appropriate places to take a temperature reading on the bird. I really, really tried to remember to get pictures along the way, but I forgot. It was a whirlwind getting food on the table and we couldn't wait to dig in...

There were 6 adults and 2 littles, but we have a good deal of leftover turkey. And a lot of dark meat! Like, really dark meat. I'm thinking about maybe trying turkey stroganoff! I love how Deborah likens the dark meat to being useful in recipes that call for beef or pork. I think we are heritage bird converts!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Prep

It's a cold and snowy day here in WV! Our thanksgiving preparations started last night when Dan put a dry salt brine on the turkey. We got a heritage breed turkey weighing  in at 11 pounds. Should be enough for us! We are anxious to try it tomorrow.

I baked bread for stuffing and put together the dough for some bread for tomorrow. Later will be baking the pies!

I mentioned the other day that I was planning to make soap for some gifts. I decided to get started on it today!  I'll put a post together Friday with how I do it. It's a lot of fun and smells awesome. I plan to start selling some of my soap after the new year.

What are you doing to prepare for tomorrow?

Monday, November 24, 2014

On the Needles November 24

Wow. A month away from Christmas Eve!  And Thanksgiving week! I picked up our bird from Gardner Farms yesterday. They raised some heritage birds this year and so we are excited to give it a try.

In other news, I was elected to be on the board of directors for the Clarksburg Farmers Market. I'm excited and nervous, but I hope my input can help make some positive changes to help grow the market!

And I've been knitting like crazy. I came across a pattern for a mug cozy that I love. It's going to be Christmas gifts for quite a few people. And I finished my mom's moccasins.

Since the mug cozies are to be Christmas gifts, I don't want to post a picture of the finished product. They are a quick knit and I can bust through some of my leftover yarn from other projects!  Here's a sneak peek...

Let's just say I have 4 done and will probably cast another on today. I think they'll make lovely gifts. And along the gift line... I'll be making some soap in the next few days. I'll try to get pictures along the way!

Are you making gifts for the holidays?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Home Improvement

You all know that as a homeowner (and specifically if you built your own house!), your work is never done. There is always something that can be done. When we completed construction on the house two and half years ago, we knew we weren't really *done*. We still have little odds and ends to do. Life happened - like some pretty memorable winters, adjusting to life with two kids, adjusting to life on 53 acres - you get the gist. So, this past weekend, we set to work to completely finish the kids bathroom.

When we were getting ready to move in, I took Kole to Target to look at wall decals to try to decide how to decorate his bathroom. He was big into "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" book and fell in love with the stickers. So, they were up on the wall until recently. To start the project, I took down the stickers in preparation for painting. Holy moly, what a difference that small change made! The bathroom isn't very large, but it felt huge once the stickers were down.

In preparation for the update, I was scouring Etsy for printables that I could have printed and framed to put up in the room. I ran across these and had them printed at the local Staples. Frames can be mucho expensive, so I picked up some frames at Dollar Tree and painted them white. They turned out better than I had anticipated!

After Kole picked out the stickers, I did some searching for a shower curtain to match. I was really happy to find this shower curtain (hey - it's on clearance right now!). It was a pricey purchase, but it is still in fantastic condition after two and a half years. It washes well and if I hang it outside to dry, I don't have to iron it. And it's just plain cute :-)

On top of painting, Dan adjusted the placement of the vanity light, scraped away paint from the edges of the tub surround (hey, when we painted we didn't have very good lighting in there and I did the best I could!), used some acetone to remove paint on the textured floor of the tub, and we washed the outlet covers. Next up, we will touch up paint the trim and door. All of our doors were primed only when we hung them, so we are planning to work our way through them this winter to completely finish out the trim. Once that is done, we can pat ourselves on the back for finally finishing the room. And then look at our to do list for the rest! Hey, at least we have a table saw now!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

On the Needles November 16

Boy, felting can be tedious. Don't get me wrong, I love knitting to felt. My terrible gussets disappear when felted! But the whole felting process. Whew. Or perhaps it's because my husband has big feet.

I only got one of his gigantor slippers felted. And I started on some moccasin like slippers for my mom. They're to be felted as well, but she's got small feet!

We've been working on some projects around the house this week. We still have some finishing work to do and we are starting with the kids bathroom. They have a very hungry caterpillar shower curtain. We initially put up very hungry caterpillar stickers, but I haven't been feeling them lately. So, I found some cool printable on Etsy and got them printed at Staples. I picked up some frames yesterday at the Dollar Tree and painted them white. I trimmed the pictures to fit. I'm pretty happy with how they turned out!

Dan is working on finishing up filling in holes and painting the trim as well as putting up a fresh coat of paint. He moved the light above the vanity to get it more centered. I'll try to get some finished pictures when it's all done!  I'm also working on our gallery wall in the entry way. I picked up some dimensional letters at JoAnns and painted them white. They'll go up above the kids pictures.

I'll keep you updated on our progress! What are your craft or DIY plans for the week?

Check out some other great posts over at the homestead blog hop!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Four Season Gardening

I shared recently on my Facebook page how envious I am of Mother of a Hubbard. Her winter garden is drool worthy! She's in KY in a similar zone to me, so it was encouraging to see her having such success. And it made my tummy rumble at the thought of harvesting delicious greens year round.

I ordered Eliot Coleman's books, Four Season Harvest, and I can't wait to read it cover to cover. I read through the first chapter and I love how down to earth it is. And how encouraging!

We have big goals for next year and I'd love to try our hand at four season harvests!  How about you? Are you a year round gardener?

Saturday, November 8, 2014

On The Needles - November 8

It's definitely getting to be knitting weather round these parts. Dark early and chilly = cuddled under the blanket knitting. It will be even better with the woodstove going :-)

I'm trying to get Dan's slippers done before it gets too much colder. I am a l m o s t there!

For an idea of just how big these puppies are, check out the picture of Kole's 4 year old sized hand next to one.

And do you see the sun in that picture!? When you live in a passive solar house,  you hope for the sun. It makes such a difference in the comfort level of the house. It can raise the house a good 10 degrees on a nice sunny day. We love free heat!

What's on your needles this week?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Soft Boiled Eggs

I've been on a soft boiled egg kick lately. Even though the days are getting shorter, our girls are still kicking!  We don't use supplemental light. While I know it's not harmful to them, I also think it's nice to give them a rest. We've been getting anywhere from 3 - 7 eggs a day. I'm happy with that considering a few of our big girls are molting. And boy do they look rough. I really want to get the equivalent of a furminator for chickens to help them out, but I know that wouldn't be very comfortable for the girls. Molting looks kind of painful!

Back to the soft boiled eggs. I saw my mother in law eat them while we were on vacation in March. And they looked awesome - something I'd never had. I had sort of forgotten about them until I recently watched a Martha Stewart show on PBS (we love PBS - no cable in this house!). She showed all kinds of ways to prepare eggs.

So, over the last few weeks, I've been enjoying some. Her method and what I've found to work for me, is to bring the eggs to a gentle boil, remove from heat (I put my stove to the lowest setting), put a lid on and set a timer for 3 minutes.

Isn't Fiestaware pretty? They're discontinuing the peacock color - it's one of my favorites! The eggs are best eaten with homemade bread, of course :-)

How about you? Are you a soft boiled egg fan?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Thankful for Beautiful Mornings

My kids had me up at 5:45 AM. Unfortunately, their little bodies didn't get the message that the clocks have changed. It's not terrible getting up that early, I just prefer for it to be *my* idea. Oh well. Sleep is over rated, right?!

The sunrise and sunset can be so pretty up here on the hill. It really helps put life into perspective. I've recently been able to put a lot of things into perspective (finally!) and I'll be sharing those when I find the right words :-)

I was thankful for the sunrise this morning:

I took advantage of being up early and had a loaf of bread rising and a load of laundry on the line before I had to leave for the dentist. Ugh. I had a natural birth with Jenna, so you'd think I wouldn't be a wuss about pain. But I hate pain in my mouth.

It might not be terribly noticeable, but my left lower jaw is swollen and droopy after the shot of numbing agent (lidocaine, novocaine, whatever...). It took more time to numb it up than it took to fill it. And I felt EVERYTHING. Yeah!

I did my civic duty and voted on my way home. It's fun to live in a small town. When I checked in, I saw some cute little ballots for kids. I brought one home for Kole.

We worked with him on it. He didn't know some of the characters on it and neither did we. So, he just picked one. So, not that much different than what normally happens!

How about you? Did you vote? Get a cavity filled? Get up before the crack of dawn? Let me know! I love hearing from you!