Showing posts from 2011

A Night of Games

What are you doing for New Year's Eve? Our tradition is to spend the night at my uncle's house with some of my cousins and other family members. We eat snacks, drink brandy slush and play fun board games. Nothing fancy. Just jeans and sweatshirts, family and lots of laughs. 

Mulled Apple Cider to Warm Your Soul

The apple trees stood frozen and the winter winds howled but inside we were nice and toasty as we sipped mulled apple cider.

Last Friday we invited my family out to our farm for an early Christmas. As the cider simmered on the stove it filled the house with that comforting warm cinnamon smell.  Everyone, kids and adults, loved the cider. The adults added a little extra warmth to their drinks with a shot of brandy. Yum!

Mulled Apple Cider
(Lightly modified fromThe Pioneer Woman)

4 whole Cinnamon Sticks1/8 teaspoon Ground Cloves 1/8 teaspoon Allspice Orange Peel From 1 Orange Lemon Peel From 1 Lemon 1/2 cup Pure Maple Syrup 3 Qts - 96 oz. Apple Juice (I like Santa Cruz Organic) Splash of Brandy (optional for adults)
Place all ingredients except brandy in a large saucepan. Bring to almost a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for at least 30 minutes before serving. Ladle cider into mugs and add a splash of brandy for the adults if you chose. Enjoy!

On Our Menu: December 26 - January 1

Last week I tried a recipe for slow-cooker lasagna and I wish I hadn't. I was intrigued by the recipe because you put the noodles in uncooked. Well, some of the top noodles did not cook all the way through and my filling was a soupy mess. There was no way to scoop the lasagna out of the cooker without it all falling apart. So, if you like lasagna soup, go ahead and make this recipe. 

My brother got me a cast iron grill pan with panini press for Christmas so I'm looking forward to cooking with that this week. I'm going to make portobello burgers on Thursday and a chickpea, beet and apple panini on Saturday. Last night I made ham steaks in the new pan and it worked great! 

Did you get any fun new kitchen gadgets that you're excited to try?


For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of peace.  (Isaiah 9:6)

All I want for Christmas...

Hey, a girl can dream, right?

Wag More

I just saw this print on Etsy and I love it.

What great advice to live by... especially if you're a dog lover.  ;)

Riley's Check-Up

Since my last post the edema in Riley's leg is gone as well as almost all of the red on her inner thigh. She still has a bump about the size of an oblong tennis ball on her inner thigh but her pain is gone. No pain meds for 4 days! She's in good spirits and has been running around like nothing was ever wrong. I took her into the vet this morning for a check-up. Dr. L could feel a small bump underneath the remaining swelling and is pretty certain that she tore a muscle. There's still a very small chance that the bump is an abnormal mass in her tissue but he's thinking not. Only time will tell the truth. We'll keep a close eye on her and pray that she doesn't have another flare-up in the next month. 

Buster, on the other hand, is not doing so hot right now. I took him into the vet this morning as well for his annual check-up. While there he received a rabies shot in the rear and a distemper shot in the shoulder. We had a little Christmas party at work for lunch t…

New Look

I thought it was time to freshen the blog up a bit. I work on a 27" iMac and I was noticing that some of my images were too big for other people's screens. Hopefully this new format keeps everything looking nice for everyone... not just me. If you're having any problems, please let me know. I'll get a chance to check out my blog on a few different computers this weekend and can make adjustments as needed.

On Our Menu: December 19 - 25

This weekend we have 3 Christmas parties: one Friday night, one Saturday and one Sunday. Is anyone else doing a Christmas marathon this weekend? I'm bringing fresh fruit to the Sunday party because I know that I'll be ready for some healthy, cleansing foods. 

Riley Update

It's been a long week but let me fill you in on what's going on with Riley. When I came home from church last Sunday Riley was holding up her back left leg and was whimpering. That hip has been acting up for the past 2 weeks but not enough for her to stay home when we head out for our 2 mile walk every night. After welcoming me home I gave her a baby aspirin to help with the pain and she headed back to bed.

While I was cooking pancakes I kept hearing weird noises but every time I checked on Riley, she was just chilling out on her bed. Then when Christian and I sat down to eat, Riley started crying in pain non-stop. Her whole body was shaking (I think she was scared) and her yelps and whimpers were wrenching at my heart. I felt so helpless. We were going to head to my family's land to cut down a Christmas tree after breakfast but, with Riley in so much pain, I decided to take her into the animal hospital. The hour drive seemed to last forever. 

Once at the hospital, the vet d…


No menu this week. Our older dog Riley is in a world of hurt. Something is wrong with her hip... we just don't know what yet. Please keep us in your prayers.

Barn Restoration - Residing the East Wall

We knew from the start of our barn restoration project that we would replace the whole north side of the barn. Our original plan was to just cut off the lower boards on the other 3 sides and patch in new ones. After we saw how nice the north side looks with brand new siding, we decided to replace ALL of the wood on the other sides. This will be way more expensive but we're hoping it won't ever have to be done again... at least not in our lifetimes.

This is how the east side of the barn looked at the start:

Pretty crappy. From ground to peak is over 40 feet so we rented a boom lift instead of using ladders and scaffolding. Christian worked on this side of the barn all by himself but he DID take me for a ride in the boom lift. The views of our farm were incredible but, boy, we were high! Do you see how tiny our border collies look in the center right photo?

One thing we did differently with this side of the barn was to pre-paint the new boards. Over the summer Christian's paren…

Somehow, I turned into my mother!

When my coworker saw my thrift store outfit today she remarked on how cute it was and how she had a similar outfit in the 1970's. I think my mom did too! I dug back through some old photos and didn't find the one I was looking for but I DID find these two from 1971 & 72. 

Hmmmm, do you think I'm her daughter? LOL.

On Our Menu: December 5 - 11

Does anyone else feel like time is moving too fast? December seems very out of control right now. My Christmas shopping is almost done and I only have 2 more handmade gifts to finish BUT our Thanksgiving decorations are still up and we don't have a Christmas tree! Hopefully this weekend we can make the trek out to my family's land to cut one down.

Speaking of time and not having enough, this shiny beauty was my birthday present this year and what a time-saver it is!

I've always said that I didn't want a dishwasher but that was before I had to commute an hour to work then still find time in the evening to walk the dogs and cook. I've always hated doing the dishes and it just seemed like the right time to break down and "hire" a little help in the kitchen. Well, it's fabulous and I wish we would have installed one a long time ago.

Now, onto our menu. We didn't get to have pancakes over the weekend so we had them last night for supper. They were delici…

On Our Menu: November 28 - December 4 & Thanksgiving Recap

Christian and I took a little vacation last week and spent 4 days in Milwaukee with his family. On Thursday we had Thanksgiving dinner with Christian's mom's side of the family. I made a Nectarine & Blackberry Pie which was just okay. My favorite dish of the night was Auntie's mashed potatoes. WOW! They were so amazing. Driving back to his parent's house we saw people tenting outside of Best Buy waiting for the Black Friday deals. We stayed away from that craziness!

On Friday we went indoor rock climbing at Adventure Rock until our arms were ready to fall off. Every time we visit there I am in awe of the people who can climb upside down - as in under an overhang. I can hardly get to the top of the 40' wall when it's vertical! 

The rest of Friday and Saturday was spent walking the dogs on the trails at the nearby park, shopping at thrift stores, eating, watching movies, and eating some more. Wait until what you see what I found at the Goodwill store. I'll …

Barn Restoration - New Doors

Toward the end of last year Christian built 4 new beautiful doors to go on the newly sided north side of our barn. We had the doors stored in the machine shed far too long and finally found time to hang them. 

First we had to move the doors from the shed to the barn. Since it was just the 2 of us working on this project we relied on our little tractor to do the heavy lifting. We used a winch to crank the doors upright on the pallet forks then ever so slowly drove over to the barn.

Christian used the tractor to position the door underneath the track. I had the fun job of going up on the ladder and yelling commands to get the wheels lined up with the track. UP! LEFT! IN! and so on... Once the wheels were lined up, a come-along was attached to the hitch on the truck and the bottom of the door. The door was then slowly cranked over and into the track. It really was a brilliant set-up. Can you tell that Christian is an engineer?

The 1st door took 3 hours to hang because we didn't have a s…

Barn Restoration - Tuck Pointing, Siding & Painting

Christian and I have slowly been restoring our barn. In 2009 Christian sandblasted the ugly peeling black paint off of the fieldstone then we tuck pointed around the rocks. Tuck pointing was a tedious job (I estimated that it took us 70 hours) but the stones look so great now!

In 2010 we re-sided the north side of the barn with pretty cedar tongue and groove along with the awesome help of Christian's friend, Dan. We started with the north side because that was where the wood was the most rotten.

Next it was time to roll on some paint. We believe barns should be red which is what started this whole restoration project rolling in the first place. Christian's parents helped us roll on the first coat which took us a whole weekend. Both of our parents helped with the 2nd coat which we got done in a morning! 

That red looks great, doesn't it? Come back tomorrow for a post on our new barn doors. 

On Our Menu: November 14 - 20

Last week I made a really awesome, easy Black Bean Soup. I've tried a few other BB soup recipes and this one is a keeper! I love how a bunch of other veggies are snuck into the soup too! My husband was none the wiser.

Here's what's on our menu this week:

On Our Menu: November 7 - 13

I was pretty ambitious last week and tried 4 new recipes. The Mushroom & Black-Eyed Pea Ragout was hearty, rich and the perfect meal for colder weather. I served it on Parmesan Polenta which was the easiest polenta I've ever made. The polenta bakes in the oven and you have to only stir it once! The other really good new recipe I tried was Gluten-Free, Vegan, and Oil-Free Walnut Chip Brownies. You gotta love a healthy brownie that actually tastes good! I'm not a fan of nuts in my brownies so I used 1/3 C. peanut butter chips and 1/3 C. chocolate chips instead.

And with good new recipes come the bad...
The Thai Curried Noodles with Broccoli & Tofu just didn't taste like anything. Every now and then I would get a hint of flavor but then it would disappear. The other boring recipe I tried was Crispy Cherry-Almond Cereal Bars. Maybe these would be better if you doubled the amount of cherries and almonds in the recipe but I still don't think they would be worth the eff…

Riley Turned 9

We celebrated Riley's 9th birthday in October. I can't believe she's that old already!

On her birthday I always take her to the pet store and she gets to pick out any treat she wants. Normally it's some disgusting animal part like a cow hoof or pig tail. This year I was pleasantly surprised that she wanted a stuffed rawhide roll. Of course I had to buy 2 so her brother wouldn't feel left out.

And what's a birthday celebration without a good dose of sibling rivalry! 

I dug up a picture of Riley when she was 3 years old. She looks really young!

I am SO happy that this brown-eyed girl is a part of my life. 

Frosty Mornings

I'm not liking the colder temps we're having but the frost sure is pretty.

These berries are on an asparagus plant. I had no idea that asparagus gets berries!

On Our Menu: October 31 - November 6

The colder weather means we're craving comfort foods. I was going to make the Mushroom & Black-Eyed Pea Ragout last Saturday but instead we had pizza... after we had just had pizza on Thursday! Yikes. 

In other news, I got a Champion juicer from my parents for my birthday so I'm looking forward to cranking out some healthy, yummy drinks.


Today is my golden birthday. Yep, I'm 30. I thought that I would have a hard time turning the big 3-0 but aside from the gray hairs that have been popping up, I'm happy. Maybe it's the way I've been looking at my life this year. On past birthdays I would feel disappointed that I was turning another year older because I have so many things I want to do in my life. The ol' Bucket List just keeps growing. But this year I decided to look back on the past 30 years (mostly just the past 10) and remember all of the amazing things I've already done. Some of these things were on my Bucket List, some not. Regardless, they are things that stick out in my mind as happy memories and have helped shape me into the person I am today. I am so blessed.

(In chronological order for the most part. Follow the text links for a lot more pictures.)

1. Rebuilt a section of the Continental Divide Trail in the San Juans Mountains of Colorado for 4 weeks with the Student Conservation Associa…

A Unique Harvest (and a recipe!)

"I started growing mushrooms." After hearing my statement, most people utter a chuckling an incredulous "What?" You see, I love to eat mushrooms but am afraid of poisoning myself by picking a toxic mushroom while foraging in the woods. The solution? Grow my own!
This past spring I attended a workshop near Peshtigo, Wisconsin and learned the ins and outs of growing mushrooms at home. I proudly brought back two different packages of mushroom spawn one being that of Summer Blue Oyster mushrooms.

For growing our oyster mushrooms I chose to use the “totem method.” First, we cut down a live poplar tree with a trunk diameter of about twelve inches. Certain mushrooms with only grow on specific types of wood and oysters happen to like poplars. We were lucky enough to have access to a stand of poplar trees. (Thanks mom and dad!) The trunk was cut into 2-3 foot long sections. Those sections were then cut twice more leaving us with a 3-piece totem.

Next, we placed a large garbage…