Thursday, December 30, 2010


I'm all alone but I'm not lonely. In fact, I'm enjoying myself getting my paperwork all in order. It's one of the things I do every year at this time. And this year, I need it more than most as I've gotten a bit behind. Okay, I'm really behind. The turmoil of the past year has left our finances in a bit of duress. Not bad but just not as good as they should be. I'm rather uncomfortable with the whole loose way I've been doing things and I know it will eventually lead to disaster. But with a new year upon us, I've the opportunity to start off on a better foot, so to speak. It's one of my new year resolutions.

Since the weather outside is frightful, the wind howling and the snowing blowing all around trying to wear itself out, I've the perfect opportunity to work on our budget. I'm sitting in one room of the house, the bed covered in paperwork from the file cabinet and the heat cranked up. We've not only a coal-wood stove but baseboard electric heat that we can turn up in just one room or all the rooms upstairs.

And after working outside for a couple hours, my hind end froze, I just wanted to rest from busting through drifts to water stock and haul hay. You see since the ground is frozen solid, the moisture in the snow can't sink in and so the snow just piles up blowing around causing a loss in visibility and really slick roads. The one just outside of town going north and south is called the Miner's 500, in reference to the Indy 500 car race. No, that isn't the real name of the road just a nickname given to it by the Deputy Sheriffs department who patrols the race track. I'm mean highway. Not all of the danger is due to fast drivers as the weather really does a number on the roads around here. It's mainly due to our wind which blows you off the road, causes the snow to pile up, or it frosts the road with ice.

I've no desire to be outside trying to drive on slick roads, even though I've four wheel drive and a large pickup truck to buck snow drifts in. I'm just a chicken at heart. Don't believe that just because I purposely slid sideways into the parking space in front of our house that I'm a dare devil. The truth is I was going really slow at the time. So chores done for the day since I spent a couple hours out there and I'm only milking once a day to dry up Chicory I took a hot shower and cranked the heat up in one room.

The house is rather cold despite the fire roaring. Hard to keep a house warm when single Fahrenheits digits is all we have and the wind is howling sucking the warms from the walls of our home. So I decided I'd curl up on the bed and do paperwork. Something I've a ton of this time of year. And I've got to take advantage of the girls being with their mother today. That means I can spread paperwork all over the bed and no one but me will touch it.

I've just worked beyond the family business section but not to the knife business section. What's in between is the livestock file, the family health records, etc., and since I seldom take anything too seriously, I rediscovered this along with some interesting stories I've collected:

It is a several page listing of why the English language makes no sense, common sense that is.

Let me give you a few examples.

  1. The buck does funny things when the does are present.

  2. A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.

  3. I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

  4. They were too close to the door to close it.

  5. The bandage was wound around the wound.

And if you understood these same spelling of words that have completely different meanings, then perhaps you will understand this for it truly makes no sense.

  1. Why do we have noses that run and feet that smell?

  2. How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same thing?

  3. Why is it when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out they are invisible.

  4. How is it that hamburger has no ham in it and neither apple nor pine in pineapple.

  5. And why is it that sweetmeats are candies and sweetbreads aren't sweet, but are meat.

  6. How come quicksand works slowly, boxing rings are square, and a guinea pig is not from Guinea nor is it a pig?

And then of course there are the jokes.

How do crazy people go through he forest? They take the psycho path.

What do fish say when they hit a concrete wall? Dam!

What do you call Santa's helpers? Subordinate clauses

What do you get from a pampered cow? Come on Donna you should know this one. Spoiled milk.

What's the difference between roast beef and pea soup? Cindy you cook a lot what's the answer?

Anyone can roast beef.

Why do gorillas have big nostrils? This ones for your kids Our Crazy Farm. They have big fingers. Now don't tell me you didn't know this one. I've a five and a four year old grand daughter and we are at the height of the don't do that stage.

Where do you find a dog with no legs? Come on small farm girl and Callie, you know this one. Right where you left him.

Didn't get that one. Well try this one. Why don't Blind people like to sky dive? Because it scares the dog.

And finally, How are a Texas tornado and a Tennessee divorce the same? Some body's gonna lose a trailer.

Now admit it, one of these made you laugh. And tomorrow I promise to get off my lazy toosh and do something exciting but for now, just let me relax in this nice warm room shuffling paper work and chuckling at the bad jokes.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Mashed Potatoes

Oh those mashed potatoes, how good they taste with gravy on top. For Christmas we had smoked turkey. One of those we smoked ourselves last year. And if you have turkey you have to have potatoes and gravy. But, if you aren't careful the gravy can be too smokey and salty so the trick we've learned is to use a generous helping of potato water. The stuff you just drained off the boiled potatoes. It imparts added nutrients that washed away from the potatoes along with enriching the water with flavor. A little flour or corn starch to thicken the mixture of turkey drippings and potatoe water and voila you've a rich gravy to complement the smoked turkey. If you've gravy left over and all are tired of eating it then don't throw it away it makes a good sauce inside a smoked turkey pot pie. Yum!!
And, those potatoes are good in pancake batter, or in bread.
But, the tip I wanted to share with you today was one I gathered from a Martha Stewart magazine. Her mother always added a little cream cheese to her mashed potatoes. I've been doing the same for a year now and I love the way it changes the texture adding a greater body and consistency. It doesn't change the taste because so little is added. For eight large, though not restaurant sized baked potato size, potatoes I add 1 1/2 ounces of cream cheese, three tablespoons of butter, and about an eighth cup of milk. You will have to adjust the milk to the moisture level of your potatoes.
And for you smarty pants, no, I did not measure accurately. It was more of a nice plop or two of this and a dollop of that. Though this time and probably this time only, I did keep an eye on the approximate amounts I used of each ingredient except the potatoes of course and those I should of peeled more of since they were gobbled up quick. I had to scrounge this little amount of left overs to photograph for my blog post threatening anyone if they ate them before the camera came out. This morning was as soon as I could get to that task.
For my mother-in-law who was asking about my village scene, here it is. She was questioning because I bought on a Christmas clearance sale yesterday a pine tree that had lots of character along with a figurine of a man with a gun over his shoulder and a hunting dog running along side him. Had to have that one since our son is an avid hunter. His bird dog isn't the same breed but one can't be too picky or they wouldn't have a figurine at all.
I display it in the old kitchen cupboard in the living room.
On the top shelf is the country scene with the barnyard, the middle shelf has the school; forge shop, (have to have one of those for Kirk since he's a blacksmith or rather a blade smith); and a livery stable for his great grandpa who owned one in Illinois many years ago. The bottom shelf is a section of town with the church prominently on display. On the far left is a small nativity scene that sets next to it. There isn't much more I can add without making it appear cluttered but I just couldn't pass up the pine tree and the figurine.
I hope you all are enjoying the leftovers. Ours will be gone by tonight and I'll have to start cooking once more. I'm told tonight we're having crepes. With my gift certificate from a kitchen store I bought a crepe pan. Should be easier than using the cast iron fry pan. We'll soon find out. I'm thinking omelets might be pretty good in the crepe pan also.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

UFO's and Frogging

I hope your Christmas was wonderful. Our was. How could it not be with three little ones. We were missing our son this year and there was an empty space in our hearts but we will get to spend the day with him tomorrow along with Kirk's folks. And so we will extend the Christmas season on for another day, opening presents with ones we love.
Besides the children's nativity, where each night the kids would act out the Savior's birth with the figurines, we had a plastic jug that housed gifts for him. After all we get gifts, how could we not have gifts for the Savior. It's His birthday. On slips of paper we wrote acts of kindness that each had given to another. In the scriptures it says, "If ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." So when the kids or Kirk and I did something special for another, someone who notices brought it to my attention and I wrote out a slip naming the gift.
One of my favorite presents was the little stuffed dog for our youngest grand daughter. She loved it, petting and hugging it just as she does our live cat, Reginald.
For her birthday, in a couple weeks, she will receive a grey stuffed cat made by the same company as the dog (Think they'll fight?), along with her first quilt for her grown up bed at her mom's. This is the quilt completed. Yes, this quilt was originally suppose to go on one of the twin beds at our home, but... I didn't get this one finished in time to work on another for a birthday present for our youngest grand daughter and so this one became her present.
I'm always thinking I'll get more accomplished than what I do. I did start this one in September and I thought it would be done the end of October. Yeah, right, oh well, I have one older than that still in pieces that I started last winter. It's about half done. It will be the next sewing project and then I 'll finish the sweatshirts I've three-fourths done for Kirk, that I started the winter before last. My oldest daughter calls them UFO's or unfinished objects. I'm probably not alone in having a pile of them. Every January I pull some of them out and work, completing a few more and moving a few more forward toward completion before they are tucked away again. Such are the sweatshirts for Kirk. I had bought a stack of of this special heavy flannel fabric. It's made in a foreign country now and so I can no longer get factory bolt ends of it. I figured I'd assembly line the shirts and get all the fabric sewn up. I'm almost done, just three or four to put the ribbing on. Then they were buried in favor of a more pressing project.
You know how it is. I'm determined not to have the double thick mittens I started the beginning of November to end up in the UFO pile. I worked on them again the other day, BUT
our oldest daughter came home for Christmas and there is this scarf I want to make and I can't read a pattern worth a hoot. She can. So not to miss an opportunity, I started on the scarf. Since I've done so much frogging, (Don't you just love that word?) it will be a while before I'm done. WHAT?, a few of you may be saying. Frogging is when you—rip it, rip it, rip it ( say it out loud). Remember, I learn by doing everything wrong before I finally figure out how to do it right. Hence, stubbornness is my greatest asset.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Winter Wonderland

The kids tried out sledding. They'd never been before despite the fact we've had winter ever year since they were born. Let's say Grandpa and Grandma lived by less soft ways and believe ever season has it's joys that need experiencing.
This year we made sure the kids were well equipped to handle the weather and bought little disc sleds. The same kind our kids called saucers when they were little and since we've lived in this house 29 years, the grand kids sledded down the same front yard as their mother, aunt, and uncle, along with a myriad of neighborhood children with them and quite a number of kids since them.
At first Kirk had to start them out slow allowing them to glide just the bottom few feet and then move up the slope. It wasn't long and they were trying out different ways to go down, frontwards, backwards and on their knees. And the call to bundle up and go out was heard several times a day.My favorite moment this past week was when the middle child stood up in the middle of the front yard and yelled, "This is the BESTEST day EVER!!!".
Snowmen are next on our list but the white stuff we have now is powdery dry and so we'll have to wait for another more appropriate storm. She wanted you to see her marshmallow creme mustache she'd made from the dollop that sat upon her hot chocolate.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tis The Season

The goats and the barn cats are quite attached to our youngest grand daughter who on warmer days gets out of the car and gives them lots of attention. As you can see Purrsey is loving it.

Even if she does pull his tail a might.
As for the goats. Our grand daughter each morning she is out, decides whether or not she's going to eat the vanilla wafers or if she's going to share with the goats. I'm never quite sure what her decision will be as each day it is different. You know what the goats are hoping. Though tall dark and handsome here has been with us a week, she has yet to share any with him.
Yes, it tis the season but I'm not talking about Christmas today. It tis the season to ensure the milking pail will be full of milk for another year.

This buck we've borrowed from Michelle to romance our girls into kidding this spring. What do you think we'll have, black, black, or black with a little brown? He's quite large for his age though I think he's only a month older than these doelings and they are good sized for their age. The buck's mama has an awesome udder from the photos I've seen of her and the milking line is impressive so I'm hoping for some really outstanding doelings.

This is our two doelings out of Chicory - Katrina, and Contessa. I wish I could get some better pictures but they either have their heads stuffed down into the feed or they are so close to me I can't lean back far enough to get a picture of anything but their nose.

Yes, the dehorning didn't go so well and we have some scurs that we've got to remove after the holidays. We're out of practice since for years we bred to Boer bucks and never dehorned as we just gave away the offspring in trade for the breeding fee or sold them.

With the quiet heat cycles of the Nubians I do miss my Saanens. Chicory when she came into heat barely acted any different than any other day of the year and I just happened to catch a discharge when I was milking after dark or I wouldn't have know she'd come in. With the kid's schedule, it means I'm milking after dark and Kirk and I had to laugh as we led her over to Michelle's to visit this buck that was in his own pen at that time. It felt like we were doing something sneaky since it was after dark. Oh, yeah, we'd talked often about breeding our goats to him with Michelle and wondered what we'd get but taking her over in the dark somehow seemed a bit sneaky.

Since Chicory is larger than the young buck, I put her down into a dip in the pen, just far enough that the buck would be standing on higher ground and then I stuck the side of my thigh into her chest like I was showing a market lamb and waited. Along came the buck and I helped him up a bit making sure he was high enough. I'd then let Chicory go for a few minutes while he romance her and lust over took the buck again and back we'd go into the dip once more. This is a method I've used a number of times in the past. It increases the likelihood that the doe will take on the first breeding. It does leave you smelling to high heaven taking part like that. But once again it appears it worked the first time as we haven't noticed Chicory coming in to heat again and taking her over to visit when she should be cycling, twenty-one days later, has showed no interest in her part.

I waited six more weeks to give the doelings more growth time and I handled them differently. They can be rather panic stricken having to deal with the rage of hormones for the first season and a stranger who is lusting after them so I placed the buck in the pen a week prior to when I knew they would come into heat so they could get to know one another, becoming comfortable. Late Friday night and really early Saturday morning nature took its course and when I arrived each time a different doeling's back was wet telling me he had been busy. Not to mention the frantic waving of the tails of the little does when he walked by.

How did I know when the girls would come in. If does have been housed together for a long period of time, they will cycle at the same approximate time. The dominant doe being the one who dictates when they will all cycle. Hence, I knew when Chicory came in so I knew about when the doelings would come in.

The whole production was without the dramatics of my Saanens and I missed them especially this last month. Their wild frantic eyed looks when they came into estrus were a comedy act as they screamed in a panicked voice telling me, "I NEED A BUCK AND I NEED HIM RIGHT NOW!" No having to guess when they were ready to be bred. When I opened the gate, it wasn't the milking stand they headed for but off in the direction of the most odiferous pen that could be detected on the breeze that is almost always blowing around here. If you made the mistake of holding on to their collar, you'd get jerked off your feet in their desperate rush. And letting them go meant you better have your running shoes on.

Those of you with goats know it doesn't matter if the buck is descented or not. He's added his own form of cologne and he stinks, REALLY STINKS!! Just less so than the non descented ones. Or shall we say the stink for fewer months of the year if they are descented. For yes, bucks, like elk, pee all over themselves. Yuck!!! It leaves the girls with no need for a road map to find them and those of us close to them wishing they'd come up with another form of attraction.

Yes, I posted twice today. Whatever has gotten in to me?

A Visit To Ole Saint Nick

Our grand daughter's Sunday school teacher took me aside Sunday evening at the music concert at our church and told me how much she enjoyed having our middle grand daughter in her class. She said she was the only child in her class that knew what the nativity was. She said she told her about the one at Grandmas, referring to the children's set on the bookcase in the hallway. I was a little surprised she remembered our role play with the child's nativity set from last year. We've talked about Jesus's birth this year but we've not played with their set yet. We will begin tonight and each evening before bed we will act out the story. It has become a tradition.

You can imagine how pleased I was that she remembered what the true meaning of the season was. But then I recalled that last season she was the one that insisted that the donkey, after taking Mary to the stable, go after the shepherds giving each shepherd a ride to the stable to see baby Jesus.

I asked our grand daughter's teacher if she called it an activity set? She looked surprised and laughed and said yes. "Yep, that's our girl." I replied. Now I'm really looking forward to tonight to hear the story from our grand daughters.
We did make a trip to see Santa at the church's Christmas party. The oldest grand child informed her sister that it wasn't really Santa. Panic rushed through me. How was I going to fix this blurb. It was my cousin that informed me there wasn't a Santa. I was heart broken for weeks, not yet ready to give up the belief. As magical as Santa is, I didn't want her to become a non believer. Then I thought maybe she just didn't believe that this was Santa. Not that there wasn't a Santa. Sure enough, that was the problem. That's why she insisted that she would not sit on his lap. Santa having had six children of his own and many grand children coaxed her to take a stocking full of goodies. Knowing our extremely analytical grand daughter she probably noticed the string holding on the beard and that each Santa she sees looks a bit different. She's a smart little whip.
So I told her that these were Santa's representatives and they reported back to the real Santa at the North Pole who was busy getting ready for Christmas. That fixed the problem. And when they are ready to stop believing in Santa, I'll do just what we did with our children. We'll talk about Santa being a part of the spirit of Christmas and how he helps us to be more giving. They will then get to take part in becoming Santa Claus, filling stockings and helping to choose presents from him to their siblings; along with dropping off gifts to others on their doorsteps, ringing the bell, and running to hide. Our kid's said that being Santa was more fun than when they just received his gifts. If your wondering if the black on our youngest grand daughter's face is chocolate, it's not.
Her mom got off from work early enough to stop by sharing a little of her dirt. Our daughter's job is power washing the coal mining equipment at several of the local coal mines. It leaves her greasy and black from the dust. This is a somewhat cleaned up pictures of her. She's been mistaken more than once at work on a particularly dirty job for one of her co-workers who's from Africa. They are very dark skinned before they begin crawling around in the black grease and coal dust.

Best go and make breakfast and then I hope to blog later about the goats. Romance is in the air, kind of.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Home-made Marshmallow Creme

I'm feeling a might bit guilty. I think it was Christmas time last year when I said someday I'd give you my recipe for marshmallow creme. Um, yeah, well, someday has arrived be it a year later. Forgive me for taking my sweet little time. Sweet - get it? Okay, that was a bit poor.

But as you long time readers know, this has been a whirl wind year full of dramatic changes. When the other day, for a party, I'd made the frosting where you use three egg yolks and cook it with milk and sugar on the stove (You know the one you put on chocolate cake that after the mixture has thickened on the stove you add coconut and nuts - if your kids will let you add nuts.) I had three egg whites left over. Just the right amount to make marshmallow creme. It sat in the refrigerator for a few days and ate on my conscience. " Waste not, want not" nagging at my door. Made especially so since I wanted to make fudge and I'd cheated last year, buying some marshmallow creme from the store. A far inferior product to home-made.

Besides this stuff is so good on hot chocolate, banana split ice cream dessert, or if you are like me, on a spoon. I can not resist it. I know, I know I really shouldn't be sneaking spoonfuls of it from the fridge but I just can't help it. I'm weak. I've made a bargain with myself that if I don't gain any more weight this Christmas, I can have lots of sweets.

For my gift my husband is buying me a weight loss program for Christmas. WAIT, WAIT before you climb all over him about it you must know it brought tears of joy to my eyes. Consider the fact I'm desperate. If you gained weight when you had Addisons Disease which everyone but me has a difficult time keeping weight on AND your thyroid went hyperthyroid last month, after years of hypothyroid, which also caused you to gain lots of weight instead of like everyone else loose it. Then you would be feeling desperate too. My doctor thinks he knows what is cross wired in my system and the cure is a series of shots and a very restricted diet which he has to closely monitor. So ease up on the poor man! He's really a saint.

I've decided the fateful day will be the beginning of February after all who wants to eliminate sweets during the holidays.So until then, I've made a vow with myself. No more weight can be put on but, I will enjoy my sweets until then. So if this blog appears a bit sugary for a while, you'll know why. So today it is marshmallow creme but tomorrow it might be marshmallow popcorn. If another batch of fudge is in your future, even if it doesn't call for marshmallow creme, add a little in anyway. I do. It makes it creamer and oh so much more irresistible.

The fact this is a family favorite is partly due to the fact we all love marshmallows. Our three grand children and their mother being top on that list of fans. If the fan club includes you get out the mixer and go to it. Yes, yes, there is raw egg whites in this recipe. I looked it up and the food experts say that the environment within egg whites is not conducive to growth of bacteria. It is possible but not likely they said that Salmonella will find its way into the egg whites. So go ahead but if you are like me a bit cautious store the marshmallow creme in the refrigerator.

Marshmallow Creme

3 egg whites

2 cups of corn syrup

1/2 teaspoon salt

In large bowl combine egg whites, corn syrup and salt. (I put mine in my Kitchen-aid mixer)

Beat for 10 minutes. (If you are using a mixer similar to mine, it won't take nearly that long on a fairly high speed.)

When the mixture looks thick, really thick and forms stiff peaks then add:

1 Tablespoon vanilla

2 cups powdered sugar

until blended.

Makes 2 quarts.

Now get out the hot chocolate and enjoy!!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Manicotti With Ice Cube Alfredo Sauce

Manicotti in my own special way. I'll still have to call this one semi-homemade as I didn't make my own noodles or cheese but the twist was rather fun. On the bottom of the pan is some of my Alfredo sauce that I froze in ice cube trays. The Alfredo that I made with goat milk. When it thaws it separates a bit and is slightly runny so I solved that problem by heating up the sauce and adding just a touch of corn starch for thickening. The noodles are the kind that are meant to be baked uncooked. I did put a noodle at a time in boiling water for just a very short time. Just long enough to soften the noodle so I could roll it. One at a time is highly recommended as I found they stick together when they come in contact with each other in the water. See, I told you I was a great teacher and that's only because I can tell you all the things not to do.

The cheese in the manicotti rolls is ricotta which I can make home made but since the store had it on sale and I was in a hurry, I bought some to speed up the supper process. To it I added some already spiced cheese that was of course on a good sale at the store.

As for the sauce, it was a pint of home bottled tomatoes, chunked, and a can of store tomato paste. With a little savory, marjoram, oregano, basil, black pepper, salt, and a touch of sugar it was tasty even without any meat added. In fact I forgot to add the hamburger I'd cooked the night before intended to be added. I froze a batch to have when family comes home during the holidays and I'm too tired to cook. Another dish we like is the Alfredo sauce with home made noodles topped with a cooked chicken breast and the same tomato sauce pooling on the chicken and a bit of Parmesan cheese melting on top. I'm really growing fond of that Alfredo sauce I froze a month ago.

I learned also as I was making butter from four and a half quarts of cream I had frozen from lack of time to make butter that it still whipped up just as high as it would have fresh and it went on from towering peaks to make lovely white butter -using the aid of a snow bank of course. Some of the man power cranking being supplied by our youngest grand daughter. For some reason she loves to turn the crank on the butter churn. Hopefully it is something she never tires of.

It is so goo...d to be back. I missed you all.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Get Ready

I'm at the library for story hour for the kids and I popped onto the computer to let you know I will pick up my computer Friday. It's been ready but I couldn't find a babysitter. Five hours in the car so I can pick up the oldest grandchild is not my idea of fun so I'll wait until Friday when the hubby will be home. I know this time of year is very, very busy for everyone.

Though I've been silent, I have been busy and the camera is full of pictures documenting what I've been up to. I can't wait to be visiting with you again. Get ready because I've a new bee book that has me enthrawled and my first heritage seed catalogue arrive. Oh the plans I'm making for spring. But for now I'd best get that holiday shopping done and our youngest's quilt completed before her birthday the first week in January. Why oh why do we have four birthdays in the first week of January? Late Friday I plan on being up and running so check out the blog this weekend. I'll be sure to post.

A big thanks goes to our oldest daughter as she was the one that has kept your comments posted and informed you of my computer crash. Funny, it did the same thing last year. I hope this isn't to become a Christmas tradition.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Computer Problems

Unfortunately the internet is full of bugs. Mom's computer is down sick, so blogs will be on hold for a little while. I hope you have a wonderful holiday!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Home Barbering

Today is early release at school and hair cutting day for the two older grand daughters. There bangs are creeping into their eyes and large families of rats are nesting at the dry ends of our middle grand daughter's hair, creating cries of pain when I evict them.
The thought of hair cuts brings back memories of those first few years when I was learning to cut hair. Actually, I'm still learning to cut hair as it is an on going process but most times the results aren't quite so tramatic. Okay, except a couple years ago when I forgot to put the comb back on the clippers and I put a bare spot on our son's head. But, that's another story. The following is the tale of when I began the adventure into home barbering told as if it were yesterday.

Home Barbering

I like the secure feeling of self-sufficiency, so encouraged by my husband I decided to add barbering to my list of things I do myself. It was 8:30 p.m., our small children snug in their beds asleep, out from under foot, not tugging on my pants wanting a drink while wading through the hair on the floor or antagonizing their siblings disturbing my concentration. The best time to begin a new adventure I figured or was it? At this late hour the beautician' shops were all closed if I needed rescuing. Over confident, I equipped myself with a borrowed pair of scissors and escorted my husband to a kitchen chair. I figured I could do this. After all, I'd been cutting bangs for years.

A snip snip here and a snip snip there and a re-snip snip here and there; and after a third or was it a fourth round of snip snips, the clock struck 9:00 p.m. I stood back to survey my handiwork -- I mean disaster. Before me sat a new member of the "Monkeys". You remember them. The band that was popular in our youth. Only my husbands hair cut was much shorter and since the band broke up years ago, he wasn't about to be caught dead impersonating them. Knowing him, he probably never would have impersonated them.

Anyway, the under my breath" Ut, Oh!" sent him scurrying into the bathroom to survey the damage while I rushed in the opposite direction for the phone calling a friend who had for years been successfully cutting hair for her large family. Listening to her phone ring, I prayed she'd answer and prayed she'd be in a merciful mood. Most of all, I prayed she could make the mess I'd made half presentable once more. Her hello was met by a tearful plea for her to come and rescue me. It was a marriage emergency. Okay, that might of been a bit strong but as I peeked around the bathroom door I wasn't sure how far off I was.

To her credit, she didn't laugh when she saw my husband's hair but a smile did tug at the corners of her mouth and she assured me her first hair cut wasn't none too pretty either. Instead of repairing the damage herself, she guided my hand and an hour later the latest outdated band member was sporting a maybe not stylish hair cut but, at least a presentable one. Some mistakes just can't be fixed. They just have to grow out.

There were two things Kirk and I decided to do differently the next time.
1. Cut hair when the local hair salon was open despite children under foot.
2. And, if I wanted my husband to remain as a guinea pig I'd better speed up.

My next victims were our daughters. My oldest's hair cut turned out okay. In fact, she was quite proud of her mother. That of course isn't saying much since the year before she had taken the scissor to her sister's bangs and thought it looked pretty good too. Still, my confidence had been restored and I started in on our middle child. Just a little trim I thought. I was soon staring at a miniature Dorothy Hammil. Remember her?, the figure skater? Afraid she would be mistaken for a boy, I dressed her constantly in pink. All for nothing, as every one loved her hair and she wore it that way for a couple years.

Not ready to give up I bought a hair cutting book for dummies and my own pair of scissors. Then I convinced my husband to allow me to snip at his hair once again. Such a brave man. At 9:00 p.m. one night I began. So much for lesson number one. But, other than Kirk falling asleep twice and the discovery that virgin wool sweaters washed in a washing machine and hair had much in common, it wasn't too... bad. Yes, there wasn't much hair left but hey, he didn't look like one of the Monkeys.

So the moreal of my story in case you didn't catch it is if you want to learn to cut hair start when your kids are small and marry a tolerant husband. Through their patience we
ve save a bundle of money on hair cuts over the years and it wasn't but a few years ago that I stopped cutting our own children's hair. Our son has been letting his grow far beyond military style and has discovered, to our daughter's dismay, that he has lots of curly locks and they were left with none. As for our girls, their hair cut choices are beyond my range. That's okay for grand kid's hair cuts are keeping busy.

How grateful I am for all those ladies who helped me along the way. Especially for my neighbor, a beautician, who moved some years ago, and cut my hair but refused to cut our children's, insisting instead on teaching me how to do the styles our children wanted.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Just a quick update as I'm part of a progressive dinner tonight and the dessert is at our house so I'd best disguise the lived in look and mop the kitchen floor so as to not keep the ladies too long while they try to unstick their shoes from the floor. Of course if I don't they might not ask again next year if they can come to my house. LOL Seems the old fashion decorations invoke a relaxing environment that makes people hesitant to leave.

I'll tell you how it goes but today I wanted to update you on the progress of the extracts. The lemon extract looks good enough to drink. But I'm sure one whiff and I'd change my mind. Alcohol has always given me a headache but in a recipe, yum. I can't wait for a little time to make lemon pound cake. I'm going to do it with home-made butter, home-made sour cream, and home-made lemon extract. About as from scratch as you can get. The mint extract I'm rather iffy about. The brown color doesn't seem appealing. Why is that when the brown color in the vanilla extract makes me think of richness of flavor? I shouldn't be surprised at the color though because most plants put off a brown color. Think dyeing wool with plants. Most of them give you brown. It's berries that give you pinks and purples and a few plants will give you yellows but it is the dull faded brown that I remember most from my wool dyeing days. I do love the rich milk chocolate brown of Burdock root. Yes, yes I'm off topic. See how my mind races all the time. When I cracked the lid to take small whiff it did smell a bit minty so I'm on the right track and when the mint plant grows enough leaves again I'm going to take these out and put new ones in. As for the whole goat milk yogurt. We found it to be a bit more tangy than the milk that had been put through the milk separator. I did have a moment of inspiration or a brain fart as I crudely call them because I'm not sure whether my moments of speculation will be end up being inspiration or stink. As I took out some blueberries from the freezer to thaw before putting them into the yogurt, I wondered if it would be better if I made a pie filling by heating up the berries, adding sugar, and a little cornstarch like you do to make it thick before putting it in a pie shell. Then the sugar wouldn't liquefy the yogurt and the berry juice wouldn't add too much moisture either.
It would have worked great but I forgot to make the filling sickeningly sweet as you not only need to sweeten the berries a bit but the yogurt as well. Oops! I'm on the right track though and so I'll work out a berry to sugar formula eventually, taking in to consideration that berries vary in tartness.

Another project I want to try with the yogurt is to make a lemon or lime curd. If it is soon it could end up being a lemon/lime curd since I don't have enough of either citrus separately to make a 1/3 of a cup. I'll add the curd to the yogurt since lemon yogurt is one of my favorites. Adding sugar and lemon would just make the yogurt runny. Then when I'm through fiddling with yogurt flavors, I'll move on to yogurt ice cream. Goat milk is just too much fun with all its myriad of possibilities. I'm toying with writing a book when I'm done. Some day when I'm not a full time Grandma/substitute Mom.

So if you'll excuse me, I've a house to clean. I must not forget the kitchen chairs as our youngest likes to spread her meals evenly across the table, floor, and chairs. Breakfast it is usually maple syrup, lunch - often cottage cheese, and supper the possiblities are endless. Last night it was corn I warned my husband of. Something I never really missed from having our children. Oh but the other joys of having them make up a hundred fold for the never ending cleaning projects.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Decorating For Christmas

Before the kids left for their dad's Saturday morning we had breakfast, drank warm apple cider, and decorated the tree. It just wouldn't be fair if I had all the fun since the kids have had very few Christmas trees of their own and since they are living with us, this tree is theirs too. I did have to apologize that the tree wasn't set up for children. They understood that it had been Grandpa and Grandma's tree before and so I had bought the ornaments I wanted. It was always one of the things I wanted to do when the children were raised, to decorate in an old fashion way - my style, not catering to children. That is why we have been decorating their room. They have plastic pink and purple garland with plastic balls. Two colors I'd never allow in my own Christmas world but they love pink and purple and so they shall have a pink and purple Christmas in their little corner of the world. Tonight, we will make paper chain garland to string around their room. Then I'm thinking we should try making snowflakes. Our middle grand daughter exclaimed as we decorated the tree, " This is going to be the best Christmas ever!" She was so excited, she was almost shaking with joy. It is such a joy to see Christmas through the eyes of a child. Sometimes in the rush to get things done, Scrooge creeps in and I almost say Bah, Humbug.

Then I'm grateful for little children who lead me back and give me a sense of the magic of Christmas.
Our oldest grand daughter insisted the star had to be placed on top before we had very many ornaments. Why not? Other than the lights going on first and the garland, the star could be placed at any old time. The youngest grand child only wanted to place a few ornaments on the tree as the process was too difficult for her tiny fingers. She preferred helping Grandpa in the kitchen making scrambled eggs and toast.
The tree turned out the prettiest yet. Funny how the rows in the garden the kids planted always sprouted best too. The tree skirt is missing. It is a burgundy velvet with pine cones and needles stitched on top. Our cat has declared it too wonderful to stay off of and he sleeps on it leaving white cat hairs behind so until the presents are wrapped and covering the cloth, leaving no room for a large sized cat, I'm not adorning the tree's base.

Tried something new with the yogurt and I'll tell you about it along with how the lemon and mint extracts are doing but for now I'd best clean my room. Can't tell the children to do theirs when Grandma's is a mess.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Snow Butter

The kids helped make butter.
That was after I had churned it until it was almost done

My part was done outside in the snow. For me goat butter has to be pretty cold to change from cream to butter. A...nd I figured our snow was good for something and since I didn't have any ice cubes and it was fairly nice day...
Isn't goat milk an awesome thing? Just the right amount for a family and so many dairy products you can make from it. I feel I'm just getting started learning. Though part of that learning is figuring out how to coordinate making everything while keeping life churning along.
The whole milk yogurt is done but I haven't opened the lid. Too busy but tomorrow I'll add some fruit and such and next week I'll give you my report. Have a wonderful weekend. I've a tree to put up. The grandkids can hardly wait.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Mint Extract

I'm boozing again. This time I'm attempting mint extract. I think the mint plant I got from the neighbors and put in a pot last summer is spearmint. When I broke off a leaf today and chewed on it, I couldn't make up my mind. Yes, I haven't tasted it until now. Could be I can't tell because my mouth is still all goofy from two and a half hours in the dentist's chair yesterday. Poor guy, scare him out of his wits. A nerve connected to my right eye wasn't where it was suppose to be and he jabbed it sending me into minor shock. My eye turned color immediately, the skin around my eye turned white along with a U shaped streak on my cheek, my gums turned white along with part of my lips, my hand started to shake, and yup, next I turned as white as a sheet. I went into a minor case of shock.
Of course the first shots didn't completely numb the tooth and after most of the shock wore off he had to give me another shot. A different kind of medication. Under the duress a few minor cuss words parted his lips. I just felt terribly sorry for him and his assistant. The not suppose to happens quite frequently in my case and it has made me a memorable patient for a number of doctors and a couple dentists. I on the other hand just figure it is par for the course. But anyway, we were talking about mint extract. Hoping that the mint is actually minty and my taste buds are lying to me, I went ahead and stripped a pint of leaves, washed them, and gently crushed them as I dropped them into a quart jar. A pint would do nicely, but a quart was handier at the moment. The recipe called for a pound of leaves. That sounded like a whole heaping lot to me and I can't imagine myself using that much mint extract. Besides, I've lots of vodka left in the bottle to make up another batch when I run out. I might want to change something in the way I make it and if I have too much, that is a long way off before I need more.
With a winter wonderland outside, leaving the jar in the sun like sun tea just isn't going to happen no matter that that is what the recipe called for. And I don't have a window sill to put it in either. So instead, I opted to warm the vodka until steam gently waifed off, then poured the cup full over the leaves, placing a lid on the jar to steep like an herbal infusion.
That's it. Wait three to four weeks and voila, mint extract. At this point one is to strain the leaves out with cheese cloth. The leaves are said to turn a bit pale and brownish. I hope it works. One blogger wrote that hers didn't create anything but a slight minty smell. If that happens, I'll just put more mint in and give it another four weeks. What have I got to loose?

If you haven't figured it out by now, then I'll warn you. You have to stay tuned to see just how things turn out with all my experiments. As for the lemon extract, the lemon peel is turning quite pale and the liquid in the jar a rich lemonade color. Sometime next week I'll strain it. A batch of whole milk yogurt is in the maker and my eighth batch of buttermilk is culturing on the counter.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Lemon Extract Home-made

I did it. Whether I did it correctly still remains to be seen. But I smooshed several recipes all together and made my own concoction of lemon extract. Unlike the recipe for vanilla, I found lots of variations on how to make it. I figured with so many to choose from, I could create my own and not be far from the mark.

The first step in all the recipes was to use a vegetable peeler and remove the yellow part of the rind from the outside of the lemon. The white pith is bitter and should be left behind. At first I put my lemon aside but later changed my mind on what I was going to do with it.
But we'll get to that later, I chopped finely the yellowy part of the rind, the zest, into small pieces. I don't know why you couldn't use a zester but since I didn't have one, I used a peeler. This macro photo makes the pieces look large so don't be deceived by the photograph, the pieces are actually very small.
Then I mixed a half a cup of vodka plus a half a cup of water
in a pint sized canning jar with the lemon rind. The recipe didn't say triple distilled vodka but since my vanilla calls for it, why buy a large bottle of vodka and not have it meet the requirements of all the extracts I wish to try? It isn't like I'll ever drink the stuff.
With the 1/2 cup of water, 1/2 cup of vodka, and the lemon peel it looked wimpy. The color a little less lemony than I'd like. I scanned the recipes once more wondering if I should have used the other one which called for a 1/4 a cup of water and a 1/2 a cup of vodka. I also questioned if I should have brought the vodka and the lemon rind to a boil on the stove like yet another recipe recommended. I realized I wouldn't have this problem if I wasn't an information junky and had just looked up one recipe. Like that would ever happen- NOT!- so I plunged forward.
Looking at yet another recipe, I chose to add the juice from the lemon which it called for. I like my flavors more intense than many so this suited my tastes. Besides, if the extract was intensely lemony I could always use less in a recipe. I've suspected that some extract companies make their products weak so you will use a larger amount hence, needing to buy the product more often.

With the process so easy, except for the agonizing over what recipe to use, I've wondered why I haven't tried this sooner? I slid the making of mine during the time I waited for supper to cook. Now that I'm done questioning what recipe to use, I'm wondering how long to let it steep, brew, or whatever the proper term is. Some of the recipes said three days and some five but that's neither here not there since it is only a few days difference I decided and thought it could brew, steep or whatever until I was ready to make our favorite lemon pound cake. A cake I like to have frozen to take out when I need a dessert in a hurry.
Eventually, I am going to strain the extract removing the solids from the liquids, something none of the recipes mentioned. But then this is my own extract concoction and I figure I can do with it as I please -- everyone else seems to have.

Don't leave me alone in this experiment, give lemon extract making a try and be sure and let me know what your results are. Christmas is fastly approaching and extracts would make a wonderful gift to those cooks on your list.
Next, I'm going to try mint extract so stay tuned and then it will be orange and almond and whatever else I can find that I think I'll use.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Making Yogurt

Thank you all for your kind words and thoughts. My mom is doing quite well, miraculously in fact. The doctor said they are amazed that an 80 year old woman with severe osteoporosis could have fallen down 15 cement stairs and come out looking so well, very black and blue, scraped, and three fractures in bones connected to the hip. Not a fractured hip as they first thought. That meant she didn't have to have surgery but one of the fractures is on the left side of the sacrum which is an extremely painful break. Pain management and time are the cure along with some blood transfusions for the minor internal bleeding. She will be in the hospital for a few days and then move to a long term care facility until she can get around a little on her own.
Now I really must tell you about my yogurt making experience.
Years ago when our kids were young, I use to make yogurt but not with great success. Every time I mixed up a batch it came out sloshy, not firm. I pretended it was Keefer, a drinkable yogurt like product, but after a while I just quit making it. I used an electric yogurt maker and shifted to making it on the tove top by placing jars in a dutch oven partially filled with water and preheated that was heated to 115 F. But, the stove top method rusted my lovely dutch oven and neither the electric model nor the stove top method was making a firm yogurt. I gave up. Yes, yogurt makers I did try adding powdered milk and about gagged at the taste.
My wounds of failure now healed, I decided with my resolution to use my goat milk to the fullest, I had to make yogurt. Once again I bought an electric yogurt maker. I just don't have time, with three little ones, to fuss with the stove top method working on getting the temperature just right and holding it there. If I have to buy a non cast iron dutch oven I might as well buy a yogurt maker and besides I figured I'd save money since we do eat lots of yogurt.
My first try was a HUGE success. Don't know if it was the fact that I did not use whole goat milk or what but this is firm yogurt. Yes, I'm holding a jar of it upside down and it doesn't show the slightest hint of falling out. That is FIRM yougurt.
Was it really the difference in the milk that made the yogurt firm? Don't know yet but I'll find out in the next day or two as I'm going to try making whole goat milk yogurt. What I did this time was separated milk through the milk separator once saving the lighter cream to make sour cream and then put the rest of the cream through once more to give me some heavy cream for butter making. While creating this, I allowed the lighter cream that went through the separated to divide off into heavy cream and the rest into the milk from the first separation. From this semi-whole milk, I made my yogurt. So yogurt makers tell me, is my guess correct and less cream allows the culture to form a more cohesive product?
You really need the yogurt to be firm since when you add your sweetener and fruit, the yogurt becomes a bit slushy.
After I fuss with trying different levels of cream in the yogurt and testing for firmness and flavor, I want to try making different kinds of yogurt flavors like lemon which I think I'll make a custard like concoction to add to the yogurt to get a lemony flavor since just adding lemon juice would make the yogurt runny. Anyone come up with a variety of flavors of yogurts like the selection at the store?

The above photo is blackberry yogurt and of course just adding fruit and a sweetener is a simple, delightful addition. I'm also going to move beyond just yogurt to using it for ice cream. We decided that drinking JUST whole milk and cream, ice cream was a bit fattening. Not that we won't be having some of the fattening variety too but cutting calories wouldn't hurt us either. Some completely whole milk we will drink since it is higher in vitamin A than its lower fat cousin.
What I'm really excited about in making my own yogurt is that I can skip some more additives. My Yoplait favorites have modified corn starch, nonfat milk which is powdered milk that my book said all store yogurts add (it helps to thicken the yogurt), high fructose corn syrup (which I'll leave to my candies which I know aren't good for me), and the Yoplait label says citric acid, tricalcium phosphate, pectin, and add vitamin A ( that's because it's made with skim milk which is low in Vitamin A), and they throw in, acetate, and Vitamin D3. Commercial milk is also lacking in vitamin D's. So there you have it home-made yogurt gives you less which really means your getting more. Following that? You don't get what you really shouldn't have while getting more of what you really need.

Those of you who haven't made yogurt yet from your goat milk, heat up some milk to near boiling, cool it rapidly by placing the pan in a bowl of cold water decreasing the temperature to 115 F. Then use a yogurt culture. I bought mine from a cheese making supply. You can make yogurt from plain yogurt from the store. Keep in mind you are getting the additives too but for a first try attempt go for it. The pamphlet with the yogurt maker said don't use your yogurt from this batch that you started with store yogurt more than once to try and reculture another yogurt batch. Why? They didn't elaborate on but if your using a powdered culuture from a cheese making supply you can keep going and going.

Now I've got to make some granola. Kirk says what's missing from our home-made yogurt is granola. I use to make lots of that when the kids were little and I guess I'd better scrounge up that old recipe and get to work. He's dreaming of layering home-made yogurt and granola during his morning break at work. I can't argue with that choice of nurtitional snack.

Just in case your wondering why you should be eating yogurt especially home-made I'll let you in on a little tid bit of knowledge I learned from The Yogurt Book which is 117 pages long. Way too long to cover in this post.
Yogurt is digested in an hour while milk takes two or three hours to digest.
The process of making yogurt breaks down the vitamins in the milk to a more assimilable state, meaning your body absorbs more of the nutrients.
Yogurt also kills lots of bad bugs in your stomach like Salmonella typhi, and dysentery.
Yogurt is also a great way to treat diarrhea and in children it can prevent them from developing it.
I'll let you know how the whole milk yogurt turns out. I've made the buttermilk 7 times keeping the culture from the first batch going. The sour cream didn't turn out so well keeping it going but I've some more culuture and I'll get it master yet. Cream cheese making still lurks in my future but I figure I'd best get what I've got going down first.