You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2012.

January 22 – We had a bunch of snow for a couple days – we probably got a foot of new.  One of the things I like about snow is getting to see where the critters have been.  This bunny trail runs behind the little chicken coop in the chicken yard (which this spring will be garden annex, and thus I will have to fix the fence).   The trail leads through the chicken yard to the barn, where on snow days you can see where the bunnies have burrowed under it.  The dogs will go straight for those burrows and stick their faces in, inhaling bunny essence.  They can easily distract themselves for an hour running back and forth from the front of the barn to the back.  I’m guessing the bunnies stay in the middle.

Here’s David checking out his handiwork.  It took a bit of work to get those posts into the frozen ground (I ran back and forth with a pot of boiling water to help) but he did it.  The girls respect a fence and will wait behind it for me, even though the fence doesn’t run all the way across the property.  It does stop their instant access to the road, and hopefully will stop other dogs from walking up the driveway.  Eventually, we will incorporate a fence all around the house so the dogs can stay out if they want and the chickens will be protected.

The girls and the gate.

So as you can see, we had a nice sunny day.  I opened the barn door so the sun could get in for the chickens.  No one wanted to walk in the snow, but they did all line up thusly:

All they way back, even into the Littles’ pen, chickens lined up for the sun.  It made me smile.

Sleepy chickens in the sun.

January 23

Pretty peppers.  Clearance peppers from the grocery store, just 50 cents.  They’re mini bells.

A tiny still life.  I was setting my camera down as it was shutting off.  However, when it hit the counter it was still on and I saw this.  So I turned it back on, set it in the same place and took this picture.  I’ve had the little dalmatian figurine since I was a kid.

January 24 – This is what it looks like when I’m driving when wearing my sock monkey mitts.

I’m making sausage and this time decided to make extra of the spice mixture.  As I was throwing them in the jar, I noticed it looked rather like sand painting and so took a picture.    Salt, sage, chipotle pepper, pepper and the surprise to me, ginger.  I got the recipe online here.  I get to use my own turkey, so it’s amazing.

January 25 – Happy birthday to two new chicks!  Sadly, none of my (rather expensive) BBS Orpington eggs hatched.  But when I put them in the incubator, I grabbed two eggs from my chickens because I wasn’t going to mess with turning eggs and monitoring temps and humidity for 21 days and get nothing at the end.  So these two are Jack’s kids.  One little black and (yay!) one little blue:  I got lucky and grabbed one of Precious’s eggs.

So pretty.  I love the blue chickens!  I’m handling these two a lot.  I hadn’t been handling my chicks much because I wanted a bit of wildness in them since I was letting them range free.  Well, that didn’t save them in the end, so now that they’re fenced I want friendly pet chickens.  The replacement chickens have all turned out to be friendly pets, and I really do like that a lot.  So I hold these two and let them sleep under my cupped hands.  This is something I’ve found that really calms chicks – it must feel like being under a hen a little.

So while chicks were hatching and drying in the incubator, I was having a big cooking morning.  David got into town but couldn’t come home, and he had no food in the truck.  So I made muffins and granola and bags of salad and hummus and fresh coffee and packed it all up with some other supplies and toted it into town.  While there, I went to the Goodwill and discovered these:

These are brand new Naot Mary Janes.  They had maybe been worn once, based on the lack of wear on the bottoms.  They aren’t this season’s (I checked and can’t find them) but they are lovely and very comfy.  Literally the night before I had pinned a pair of Naots on Pinterest, because I love me some Mary Janes.  Because of that, the name was in my head and I saw these and couldn’t believe my luck.  The price?  $3.99!!  A pair of easily $150 shoes for $3.99.  I can’t wait til spring to wear them!  (the soles are not very … treaded?  smooth, let’s say, so I’d fall in the snow.)  (my cool socks are Smartwool, a gift from Dawn.  I think they’re cute with the shoes.)  They require no break-in period, either.  Comfy from the get-go.  I don’t buy shoes that aren’t comfy, even if they were a good deal.  Though something like this I’d grab and ebay.  No way I wouldn’t make back my $3.99…  The new shoes on my radar are a pair of turquoise Chucks.  I have a pair of white ones, and am considering painting or dyeing them, so I can have turquoise.

January 26 – This crumbly leaf on my floor looked like a seahorse to me.  So I took its picture.

January 27 – Two-day old peeps.  I love them.

Fuzzy little bottom.  🙂

January 28 – Phoebe wants to play.  She will pick up one of her toys (she’s a stuffed toy gal) and just stare at you until you do something.  She sat like this while I found my camera, turned it on, and shot a couple pictures.  Then I grabbed the toy and threw it for her.  She likes to chase them down a couple times, then she shakes them and growls at them before settling down to nibble on them.  The cat still has stuffing in it.  It’s a made-for-dogs stuffed toy.  The others she has (various sheep and a raccoon puppet) are just stuffed animal skins at this point.  When David’s home, she grabs the raccoon and they play “getcha!” with it.  That’s their special thing and it drives poor Sadie crazy.  She starts barking at them, then runs over to me barking, letting me know they’re up to something.  This behavior has earned her the title of “Office Manager.”   David will often move the recliners together to block Sadie so she can’t interfere, in which case she lies down in back of them and barks through the crack between the chairs.  Sometimes I lure her away with a liver snack. This has, of course, encouraged her.  She comes looking for the snack now.  It does quiet her down for a bit, so that’s a good thing.





Jan 15 – Another lazy day.  Took some pictures, enjoyed the light.

Jan 16 – The UPS guy came again.  I love the internet.  I can’t find spinach fettuccine locally.  One of our favorite pasta recipes practically requires it.  Last week I made it and used wheat fettuccine and it was sad pasta.  So Amazon app to the rescue.

Here’s a link to the recipe.  My friend Gen introduced us to this recipe.  I remember the first time I had it because it was pre-veggie Laurie, and I didn’t like it nearly as much as I do now, when bell peppers are one of my favorite things.  I tend to use more jalapenos and garlic and use unsweetened soy milk in place of the  cream.

yummy noodles…

Jan 17 – My big jar of buttons.  I love digging through it to see what I can find.

Playing with light and the Sony with the bokeh filter.  Right now I get a lot of out of focus light with hearts.  Eventually I’ll find the right light and something in the foreground to take a picture of.

Jan 18 – It snowed like crazy all day yesterday.  Today I needed to go to town before there was more snow, but it meant I had to dig out the driveway.  There was just a tiny breeze, but I still ended up covered with snow.  I was rather pleased with myself.

Jan 19 – More snow!  Then some sun, so I was able to play with the light again.  Snow hearts!

Jan 20 – Skully as snow gauge.  We got some considerable snow.  David got to dig out this time.

Jan 21 – David is very pleased with his new mug.  On the other side is a picture of the president’s long form birth certificate.  When I told him this mug existed, he wanted one very badly.  Every day after I ordered it, he would ask “where’s my mug?”  I’m glad it came while he was home.

In the evening, I glanced out and saw the honeyed light and had to go out and take pictures.  This one’s my favorite.


I have this dog.  And she was just too cute.

January 8 – gratuitous dog shot.  Sadie is resting her chin on the chair.  She does that very well and a lot.  I read where folks training therapy dogs train them to lean their chins on people.  It is something that is very soothing, so I get that. Sadie will also do it on us, especially when she wants food.  She’s very good at avoiding the camera, which is why she’s resting her chin at the moment.

January 9 – Sadly, the chicken-killing dog returned.  He got Charlotte, my Welsummer (that’s her feathers above), and Buffy the Buff Orpington (who we did not find except for far too many feathers).  Jack fought again, losing a good number of tail feathers.  Everyone else is traumatized, but alive.  I am traumatized.  I am also quite angry.

January 10 – Drove to Traverse City to have an Art Girl meet-up.  I finally got to meet Rita.  I took a picture of the page above because the way she captured the spider web intrigued me.  Evidently you spray paint on the spider web, then catch the painted web on paper.  It looks amazing.  I know it’s something I had read about, but never tried.  Now I’ll be trying it.  Her entire book was amazing.  She is making it based on this quote by Emerson: “Make your own Bible. Select and collect all the words and sentences that in all your readings have been to you like the blast of a trumpet. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson”  She and a friend (whose blog is here) both have a book that they both work in.  There are some more pictures at the blog.

After leaving the Art Girls, I went to the tiny town of Frederic, Michigan, to buy more chickens.  I got lucky again.  This gentleman had 10 laying pullets (9 months old) and was selling them for $4 each.  So my 10 have been replaced and my egg business will remain intact.  I got four Rhode Island Reds, three Barred Rocks and three Buff Orpingtons.  They are very sweet young chickens.  When I got home it was well past dark and the light in the barn was out.  So I carried the new hens in one at a time and put them on the roost.  I have read that if you do this, all the chickens will wake up together and there is less drama in the pecking order.  Overall, this is true.  However, the young pullets at the lowest rungs of the pecking order immediately try to not lose more rungs and peck at the newcomers.  There was one Buff with a little blood on her head the next morning – she got pecked on the comb, which is soft skin.  But there wasn’t a lot of fighting, which was good.

January 10 – Turned out to be a nice day to introduce chickens.  The temps were well into the 50s, which is so very un-January-like.  When I went out to see how they were doing, they ran up to me so I got some scratch grains and offered it up.

The man I got them from told me he sometimes would sit in the barn and hand-feed them.  This made me feel much better, to sit in the sun on a nice day and feed chickens by hand.  That’s one of the Rhode Island Reds, a new breed for me.  They are very pretty in the sunlight.

I started to worry, though.  Big time.  So I went to town and bought fencing materials.  The ground wasn’t frozen solid, so I was able to put the T-posts in with little trouble.  On the way home from town, I was feeling quite panicky, certain that the chickens I had left out would have been attacked.  Fortunately, that didn’t happen.  This did:

I now have a fence around the barn.  It incorporates the garden area and the chicken yard around the small coop.  I couldn’t let them out through the chicken door because the baby chickens are in that area.  So I fenced all around the barn so they can go under the big white pine there (lots of good scratching when the snow isn’t covering).  Since the chicken-killer isn’t evil in his intents – he just wants to play – I think the fence will deter him enough.  It also serves the purpose of corralling my own dumb dogs when I am occupied with chickens.  They sometimes use my occupation as an excuse to go chase the school bus or the occasional pedestrian.  That was also causing me anxiety.  So now, they are contained as well.  Our new plan is to erect a permanent fence surrounding the house and chicken coop, along with a gate across the driveway.  The dogs do respect even the chicken wire fence, though.  I have left them inside it while going into the house, and they just wait by the gate.

While at the farm store, I also found these!

For tapping maple trees for sap to turn into maple syrup.  I bought six, which is plenty enough for us.  Now I’m watching the neighbors who also tap, to know when to get out there with my 7/16″ drill bit, spiles and buckets (I’m not sure yet if I’m going to order the sap bags I have seen, or if I’ll go with recycling water jugs at this point.  I’m excited to see how it all works out!

January 12 and how the weather changed.  Big ol’ snowstorm coming in.  I ran into town again and on the way home Lake Mitchell was whited out and I could just see the fishing shanties.  It caught my eye enough to make me pull over for a picture.

January 13 – We got about 6 inches of snow.  Thankfully, David was home again to the snowblowing.

I went out to feed the birds.  After a big snow is a good time to feed them.  The dogs were out with me and thought they heard something on the road and bulleted out that way.  They go from good dogs to bad dogs in a heartbeat when they think there’s something to be protecting me from, and they don’t listen.  I got their attention by some yelling and made them go in the house while I finished up with my birds.

The very picture of a bad dog.  But she cannot let me out of her sight, so she sat like this while I finished filling bird feeders and taking pictures.  She was quite miserable when the wind blew the door closed.

Tortilla Soup, made by me and so amazingly yummy my feet danced on their own accord.  Because it was such a snowy icky day, I put one of our big chickens in my big (20 quart) stockpot.  It cooked a couple hours and made some yummy chicken stock.  I froze four quarts right off.  The rest I put into two smaller stock pots and made a batch of chicken noodle soup and a batch of tortilla soup.

Here’s my Tortilla Soup recipe, which I cobbled together from a couple others:

  • 10 cups stock
  • cooked chicken
  • 4 T chipotle adobo sauce
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (or one jar if you have my pantry)
  • diced avocado
  • 4 corn tortillas
  • 1 T oil
  • 1/2 c shredded pepper jack cheese

Cut corn tortillas into strips and toss the strips with the oil.  Place on a cooking sheet and put into a 400° oven.  Let them cook for 4 minutes or so, then stir them around a bit and let them cook until they are golden brown and crispy.  Set them aside.

Meanwhile, add the chicken, tomatoes and adobo sauce to the stock.  If you taste it now, it will seem very hot but the additional ingredients you add at the end will temper that a bit, so don’t worry.  Heat the soup thoroughly to let the flavors dance together.

Put a bit of shredded cheese into each bowl, to your taste.  Sometimes I like a lot, sometimes less.  It’s up to you.  Pour the soup in.  Add diced avocado and tortilla strips, again to your taste.  I like a lot of tortillas.  Eat and enjoy.

I’ve been thinking this could be made veggie style using veggie stock and maybe chickpeas instead of chicken.  The adobo is going to spice it up nicely.

Oh, and 4 Tablespoons still leaves a lot of adobo left.  I found this tip in my Cook’s Illustrated cookbook: spoon the sauce out onto a plastic-wrap covered plate in tablespoon size dollops.  Freeze.  Put the frozen disks into a baggie and freeze til you need them.  Then you can just take a little adobo popsicle out and pop it into your recipe.  I did it and it worked great.  I still had 9 tablespoons of sauce, so that’s two more batches of tortilla soup!

I also froze one quart of soup for later and ate the other quart that was left for lunch over the next couple days.  David had a bowl and he liked it as well.  He wanted chicken noodles, but my dancing feet made him curious.  He didn’t have the cheese in his.

January 14 – David’s off to Florida while I’m home with the snow.  Now that the chickens are confined, I can spread seeds on the ground for the birds that prefer ground feeding.  Finally saw a junco.  These are the winter goldfinches and pine siskins.  I had a very lazy day today.

So this is how the year started.  The first substantial snowfall of the year, and actually, of the season.  We’ve had very little snow.

Fortunately, David was home to run the snowblower.  I can do it (and I have my pictured diagram to help me remember how to start it) but it’s always nicer for me when he’s home to do it.  Shortly after he finished, he sent me to town to get some new tires for my truck.  I had slick ol’ summer tires and a couple days earlier had spun out on a snowy road and nearly ended up in a ditch.  We also loaded some tree trunk rounds into the bed of the truck and that combined with new tires makes spinning out much less likely.

The UPS guy came three times this week (yay!).  First one was on the 3rd, to deliver our big Christmas present from my mom.  The dogs heard the van turn the corner down the street and started barking.  I went out and danced in the driveway when I saw him, because I knew it had to be this!  I decided it would be fun to be the UPS driver if my appearance made everyone that happy.  I also got a delivery of hatching eggs (BBS Orpingtons!).  I wasn’t expecting either delivery, so it was a very happy mail day.

Feather detail of one of the Brahmas.  The lady I got her from said she was a strangely marked Buff.  Turns out, she’s a Partridge Brahma.  The laced feathers are the telling detail.  So I have 6 Buffs, a Dark and a Partridge (in a pear tree) Brahma.  They are amazingly sweet little chickens, quite fearless.  They like to run up to my feet when I go in their pen to feed them.  I also offer them food in my hand, so they keep thinking I’m great.  🙂  I need to learn about Brahmas now.

January 4th, I finally finished my orange fish hat.  I started it way back on November 1, to be my orange hat for Firearm Deer Season.  It got worked on off and on and finally I sat down to finish the detailing of fins and big dead eyes, as well as weaving all the ends in.  It makes me laugh when I wear it.

It’s hard to take a picture of a hat on…I have many outtakes.  But this one works.

First thing I made with my shiny new mixer is some bagels.  I simply had to try out the dough hook and see if it could handle it.  I foresee much more bread and bagels in my future.  The old Sunbeam stand mixer couldn’t do bagels.  It could do wet doughs, but not stiff ones.  The Kitchen Aid whipped them right up and barely moved.  It certainly didn’t get the motor hot.

My bagel recipe was requested, so here it is.  I adapted it from one I found online somewhere.

Cinnamon Raisin (or Jalapeno Cheddar) Bagels


1 c raisins (soaked in hot water for 5 minutes – I use this water as the yeast proofing water)
1 1/2 cups warm water (the water from the raisins – just make sure it isn’t so hot it will kill the yeast…normally soaking the raisins cools it right down)
1/4 c packed light brown sugar
2 T honey
4 tsp yeast
1 T oil
4 tsp cinnamon
1 1/4 c wheat flour
1 T kosher salt
3-4 c bread flour

Mix water, brown sugar, honey, yeast and oil.  Proof til bubbly.

Add wheat flour, cinnamon, salt and raisins.

Stir in 2 1/2 cups bread flour.  Add additional bread flour 1/4 c at a time until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.  Knead 10 minutes or so, until dough is soft and elastic.  (when using a mixer, I found the raisins all congregated at the bottom of the bowl, so when I took it out, I kneaded it a few times by hand to mix the raisins in better).

Let dough rest 10 minutes.

Make a big huge bagel of the dough by pushing a hole in the middle and gently stretching the dough out.  Divide this into 12 pieces and turn each of the pieces into a bagel the same way – pushing a hole in the middle and stretching it out.  Set these aside, uncovered, to rise 20 minutes.

While they are rising, bring a big pot of water to boil.  Put a couple tablespoons of brown sugar in the water.

Put the bagels in the boiling water and boil 45 seconds each side.  3 or 4 should fit in the pot at once.  Lift them out with a slotted spoon and put on a towel to dry a bit.  I found that a waffle weave dish towel works much better than paper towels.

Put the bagels on parchment lined baking sheets and bake at 425° for 15 minutes.  The recipe suggested turning them over at this point and cooking for another 5 minutes, but mine are always done and don’t need the extra time.  They should be a nice golden brown.  They freeze very well.

To make Jalapeno Cheddar, use Jalapeno slices for the raisins (I think a cup, maybe less if you don’t want them so spicy) and onion powder for the cinnamon.  When you put them on the baking sheet, sprinkle with shredded cheddar (or pepper-jack) cheese.  Don’t flip them over at the end.

Bagels and breads and home-canned stews are all in the interest of trying to keep David from eating too much truck stop food.  I also came up with this idea, which he is raving about.  Bag O’ Salad.  I hand tear a head of romaine lettuce (the heart of romaine) and put it in the big bag.  In the small bags go the dressing, the crunchy bits, the chicken.  Here is a Chicken Caesar Salad (grilled chicken breast, dressing, croutons, lettuce) and a Mandarin Chicken Salad, like those Wendy’s used to offer.  The dressing for it is in a half-pint jar, as it needs to be shaken up well.  That dressing is 2 T of both vegetable oil and sesame oil, 3 T rice vinegar and 2 T honey.  I also add a shake of garlic salt and some sesame seeds.  Shake well and dress the salad, which has lettuce, mandarin orange slices, sliced almonds and rice noodles (the crispy ones in a can – chow mein noodles, but rice, not wheat.  The wheat works, but rice is better).  Since I just thought this up, I don’t have little containers to use for the components, so I did use an awful lot of wee baggies.  I’m hoping to change that.  The big baggie will probably stay, because he can dump everything into it and shake it up.  He repeatedly told me how much he enjoyed having a good salad.

Jan 6 and the UPS delivery included this new field watercolor box.  The one I’ve had for 20+ years has gone missing (it’ll probably show up now) and I wanted to paint now.  So with my Amazon credit for the returned book, I got this.  And I love it.  The colors are much more vibrant that my Windsor & Newton paints.  I believe that one is more landscape oriented, based on the colors.  Also, it only has 12 colors and this has 24.  I painted 5 postcards this afternoon!  Now to find my other Birds & Blooms magazines for inspiration…lots of pretty birds to practice on there.

Jan 7 – David took this picture of me after a lazy day.  He was playing Skyrim all day (his favorite way to relax right now) while I was reading V is for Vengeance, Sue Grafton’s latest Kinsey Millhone novel (which I really enjoyed, btw).  He liked the sweep of my hair my hair and asked for the camera.

I think I’m going to try the Amazon affiliate program, so you may see links on some things, like when I mention books and video games and the like.

January 1 – So for the new year, I was thinking of switching up my format a bit.  Since I have been rather “regularly” posting weekly, I plan to continue the daily pictures but in a weekly post.  Then I have room for other things that may happen.  I have a lot of hopes for the new year.  Mostly it involves finally establishing a schedule to my days and weeks and figuring out how to stay present.  Most of my “problems”, such as they are, are related to a lack of mindfulness.  I let things go and that includes myself.  I’m working to be and stay happy and aware.  When I think about it, I truly am living my own dream life.  Too often, I let that fact slip away from my mind and let the little stuff worry or bother me.

I took the picture above of my little Christmas tree before I took it down.  I had read about bokeh (the lovely blurriness you can get with SLR photography) and how you can actually manipulate it with filters.  So I made a bokeh heart filter and played a little.  I still want to learn the technical aspects of photography a bit more.  I can do amazing things with what I see.  I tend to use my point and shoot because it sees what I do when it comes to light and such.  However, I’d like to be able to do more manipulating it and trying to make a picture instead of capturing what I see all the time.  I have a lovely DSLR – I should be using it for more than macro shots (though those are fun, of course!).

So, weekly photo updates of this year’s Project 366 (leap year!) and other stuff as I see fit.  I want to be blogging more, as it helps with the mindfulness.  Thus we have my goal for the new year.

December 31!!! – I don’t know if this picture adequately shows how adorable baby chicks are when they sleep.  They just pass out.  This one has its face in the shavings and is completely gone.

Here’s a couple piling together.  JujuBee is such a cutie.  She’s got her head tucked in the corner.

I tried to adjust for the red of the heat lamp but I haven’t quite figured it out.  They live their young lives under red light, to keep them warm.  They’re in the house because the garage is too cold for the heat lamp to work.  The garage is a refrigerator.  I bought lettuce last week and have it stored in the garage and it’s still nice and crispy.

So, there we have another Project 365, finis.  I have to say I am quite pleased with this.  I think I’ll be changing my format in the new year, however.  More about that later.