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I was just transferring pictures to my laptop (291 since last time I did so) and realized there were some pretty cool pictures there, and I want to share.  So here I am.

lake michigan shoreline

From my adventure Saturday.  My camera will do a panoramic sweep, so I did one to capture the breadth of the shoreline where I was standing.  So much snow still, although Saturday night it began raining and continued through yesterday.  This morning at 9, the temp was 43 degrees. If it continues like this, it won’t matter that I ran out of firewood.  I’ve been quite comfy in the house (although it’s 64 degrees) the past couple days.  And if it does get cold, my dear friend Candy supplied me with a number of phone numbers to get myself a face cord to get me through the last days of winter.  (if the picture is cut off, click on it to get the full effect…it’s quite wide)

hobie ice

This picture made me laugh when I saw it because I remembered how Hobie slipped on the ice when he tried to walk down the windshield.  We had a few days of icy rain this winter.  The driver’s side door on Hank froze shut a couple times.  If I hadn’t been doing yoga, I would not have been able to get in and behind the wheel a couple times there.  Right now at home, the walkway and driveway are pretty much sheet ice.  My Yak Traks are so very welcome then.

jack

 

We almost lost Jack this winter.  The dogs got bored due to the snow and Phoebe and Tucker ended up in the barn.  Sadly, Baby Chicken was killed in the altercation, and Jack was wounded when he fought them.  He had no outward signs of problems, but for a week he was very weak and I’d say close to death.  I had to feed him egg yolks by syringe, and give him water that way as well.  After a couple days of that, his strength began returning and finally he has recovered.  I was very close to putting him down, but David suggested putting him in a cage in the house and seeing what happened.  I’m so glad he did.  When Jack crows, it sounds like the opening  notes to “Get Smart” except in chicken.

icicles

I’ve taken such a picture before, but then the orange snow fence showed up in the background.  Since we removed it and I saw the light hitting the icicles, I grabbed my camera and got out there.

sunrise thru trees

 

Sunrise through the snowy trees.  I love it when the light looks physical, like something you could reach out and touch or take into your hands.

orange 2

 

I finished my orange embellished (encrusted, you might say) quilt.  It’s 12 x 12 and fully covered in various orange things.  This picture pleased me because of the accidental rubic.

orange 1

 

More orange.  I’m framing it in a shadowbox frame that matches the one my mom made for me.  I plan to hang them side by side.  They are quite cheery with all the orange.

bigger orange

 

A shot with more things in it.  The overall quilt has a pattern within it – there’s a lighter orange spiral circling out from the heart.  I’ll have to see if I can get a picture showing that.

 

Asnow face

Tucker’s snow face.  He certainly enjoys playing in the snow.  Or he did until he cut his foot.  Now he has to hop about on 3 legs in the snow, because he has an open wound on his foot and the snow crystals seem to hurt him.  Not that this slows him down, mind you.  It is finally healing over and soon he’ll be back to his normal wild self.

floppy tucker

 

Tucker loves the recliner.  He reclines it on his own – he figured it out when he was smaller and fortunately isn’t so big he’ll break my chair – and lies on the back.   I should say he flops on the back.  Sometimes he does curl up into a little ball on the back, but for the most part, he flops.

mouth

 

Big mouth Tucker jumping and trying to bite my hand.  He’s a silly dog.

tucker sadei

 

He’s grown to be nearly Sadie-size.  She hates that.  He is an alpha male and she doesn’t want to give up her alpha spot.  But she’s getting older and sometimes she loses.  They tussle a lot in the manner of wolves, but sometimes it escalates.  Fortunately, they both defer to me and will stop.

basket tucker

 

This weekend he started curling up in the laundry basket.  This was new.

dogs

 

From earlier in the winter. Big snow then sunshine.  Getting all three to look at me, that wasn’t happening.  But I liked this one well enough.

cardinal

Also from my adventure Saturday.  When I pulled up in the parking lot of Lake Bluff Bird Sanctuary, this cardinal was perched right there on these red branches.  Looks like my camera focused more on the background, but I still like this picture a lot.  I love winter branches.

 

 

 

 

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Much of the information is on the scan below – this is my nature journal.  Last night the dogs wanted in the garden very very much, so I let them.  Then I hear squeaking and see very-interested-in-something dogs.  I tell Sadie to “leave it” (the best thing her previous owners taught her, I believe) and went to investigate.  Found teeny tiny baby bunny with its eyes still closed.  I put it back in its nest and went to grab my camera.  First thing my mind goes to in most instances.  Strangely, a friend and I had just been discussing where the bunnies live.  I assumed warrens, based on Watership Down but learned that is only “Old World” rabbits.  My Eastern Cottontails live mostly in the open and dig a hole and scrape for the baby nests.  The nest was lined in grasses and fur.  I moved the fur aside to replace the kit and discovered another in the hole.  Then I lock up the garden, go in the house and grab my book so I can write down what I’m about to learn.  Drawing a picture from my photo makes it easier to know what I’m learning about so when I scan through this book later, I know this page is bunnies.  Most important to me was knowing whether or not the mama bunny would go back.  I was relieved to know she would.  The whole idea of a mama abandoning her babies just because we had touched them didn’t make a lot of sense to me.  So, mama will return, babies will live to terrorize my apple trees.  I forbade David to mow the back part of the garden.  I threatened tears if he did anything to the baby bunnies, even knowing they will later be after my trees.  I figure we’ll work that out when the time comes.  Killing baby ones is not how we figure that out.

Earlier in June, Hobie brought in a baby rabbit that was probably twice this size.  Fortunately for me, he is not a kill first kind of cat.  He was carrying the baby bunny by the scruff of its neck.  I made him drop it and that bunny was gone in a blink.  It was out on its own already.

So, that’s how my mind works when I find wee critters or see something in nature that is different to me.  I want pictures.  I want to learn about them (including their Latin name).  I want to document their existence.  So I do.

June 10 – My sage is blooming.  Purple sage, obviously.  The flowers smell sweetly of sage.

June 11 – The garden is planted.  Mostly.  I still have to put in the beans and peas and some carrots.  But I have red bell peppers, jalapenos, red onions, cabbages, and many tomatoes.  I purchased starts, since I was slow on the seed starting.  I’ll get it next year, I hope.  I do have some seeds started, but I wanted to make certain I have many tomatoes to eat and can.  I used up the last jar of the Summer 2011 tomatoes on spaghetti sauce this weekend.  The tomatoes I’m growing out there are a Black Cherry, Grape, Early Girl, Golden Jubilee and Romas.  The smaller bed in front is happily growing rainbow Swiss Chard – time to thin and move those around already.

I went out at night to see the fireflies.  There were so many!  All I can do when they’re around is stand there and grin.  While we have quite a few out in our pasture, there are even more out by the road, so I go out there as well.  I found one perched on a leaf up near the house, so I got to see it up close.  Fireflies make me feel like a young child again.  I was seven when we lived in Florida, and that’s what it takes me back to.   The blackberry brambles in Washington have the same effect.

June 12 – They are looking like geese.  Here they are at three weeks.  Some feathers are coming in on wings and tails.  They know where they sleep, though one of the girls usually fights going in at night.  I give them a bedtime snack and that usually helps.  That same girl seems to love dandelion flowers.  I watched her walk from flower to flower and just gobble them right up.  I hope that continues for a goodly long time.  Henry seems to know his name (geese are demonstrably smarter than chickens).  I’m considering changing one of the girls to Penelope, which just seems like a good goosey name…

Bigger than my foot!  For reference, I wear a size 10.   I didn’t realize I would be so fond of these birds.

June 13 and we had a frost warning last night.  Picture me in the dark covering my newly installed garden with swaths of cloth.  Phoebe knows how to enjoy the sunshine.

A close up of one of the Yellow Goatsbeard fluffs.  They are about the size of a baseball.

June 14 – The meaties are also 3 weeks old.  I had to open up the full front of the barn to them, because they are growing so quickly.  Plus it’s been hot (and cold) so they needed room to spread out.  Feeding them is something I need to video.  It’s like a piranha feeding frenzy in there.  In order to quell it at least a little, I end up tossing some food on the floor in a couple places, just to lure some of them away from the feeder.  I don’t let them have all the food they can eat, as that leads to them growing too fast and their hearts and legs not keeping up.  I feed twice a day, and they are growing quite fast enough.

I took the dogs on a walk but didn’t take my camera.  I had found a dropped pen near the Art Chalet, so I had that when I saw a new-to-me plant, with great big leaves.  It looked like a rhubarb to me, and I wondered if I had hit a jackpot.  David likes rhubarb.  I sketched out the leaf and made these notes so I could look it up when I got home.  The rhubarb leaves were different – on my sketch you can see I placed the veins at intervals and not directly across from each other.  The rhubarb leaves have veins that are directly across from each other.  So I googled “wild rhubarb” and discovered it’s Burdock.  The roots are edible.  However, I now have plans to cut a couple of those big ol’ leaves (seriously, 2 feet long!) and using them to make stepping stones (as seen on Pinterest – how I love thee Pinterest).

June 15 – It was one of those days when I just HAD to get out of the house.  The road construction that has our normally little-traveled road as part of the detour continues and the dogs are barking at many cars going past.  Plus it’s hotter than normal here, in the mid 80s.  Add to that I haven’t been anywhere in quite some time and well, it was bound to happen.  So I drove up to Traverse City.  I went to the cemetery because the last time I had photographed Ida it was a grey day and I wanted a sunny picture.  She’s the grave marker of a young woman who died in 1888 at the age of 19.  I also hit my usual craft stores and thrift stores, as well as the library.  David had told me of a Bob Edwards interview he had listened to where they were discussing the music mentioned in the Little House books (The Pa’s Fiddle Project) and that he was interested in music.  Yay, the library in Traverse had one of the CDs (there are 3).  Interestingly, neither David nor I have ever read those books, and he is interested in doing so.  I checked out a few since I don’t think they’ll take us long to read.  According to the website linked above, Laura Ingalls Wilder mentions 127 songs in her books.  These CDs are the soundtrack to the books.  Me, I love good fiddle music.

In my day out, I also had a quest.  I wanted a straw cowboy hat.  Something that looked good on, that would help keep the sun off.  The other hats I have don’t quite fit my inner vision of me.  I went to Diversions, a hat shop in downtown Traverse City (and also wandered Front Street looking into all the cute little shops there) and after some tryings on and searching, found just the hat for me.  It’s a Stetson!

Instagram photo.  I love my new hat.  Thank you to my mom for the birthday money that bought it.  🙂

June 16 – The Friends of the Library in Cadillac have brought these awesome life-size bronze statues to town for the summer.  I think I’ve seen all 11 now.  This little girl is sitting in front of the library.  Her book, which looks so real, is really enameled bronze.  When I first saw her out of the corner of my eye, I thought she was just a little girl waiting out front.  I’ll have to take a photo walk and get pictures of the rest of them.

My camera has a pan & scan option, where it will take a big ol long picture like this.  This is the view from the front of the garden, scanning around to the chicken fence.  You’ll have to click on the photo to get the full effect.  The layout of the blog cuts it about in half.

Lots of pictures this week.  ‘Twas a busy week!

May 20 – Angel is my Dark Brahma.  David called her a designer chicken.  She is certainly the most intricately patterned of my chickens.  She is also the most tame and the one that consistently gets underfoot – to the point I have stepped on her toes a few times.

I made this sign to go on the garden gate.  It’s painted in glitter paint, so it really shines in the afternoon.  Chickens are no longer allowed in the garden.  I transplanted my strawberries and the chickens decided the freshly tilled earth made good dust bathing.  They tromped on, scratched up and flattened a third of the plants.  Fortunately, I had more to move, but that settled the chickens in the garden question.

May 21 – The very picture of a frustrated dog.  I was on the other side of the fence from her and not allowing her through.  First she went to gap in the fence that I had blocked with a stick because I discovered the chickens can fit through it.  Sadie cannot.  She grabbed the stick and chewed it, pulled it out of the ground.  Then she went to the gap in the gate and chewed on the zip ties and tried to fit through.  Sadie does not handle frustration well.

May 22 – Chick day, as noted in my previous post.  I finally figured out how to get much of the red out of a brooder picture (I use a red heat lamp in my brooders).  In Photoshop, under image>adjustments choose the Photo Filter option and use a green filter at about 50%.  There’s still a reddish tinge, but not the glowing red that the original picture has.  Originally I was going to brood the goslings with the chicks, at least until they got too big.  Then I read some more about geese and learned that they can live upwards of 30+ years!  I wanted them imprinting on me, not chickens, so I moved them to the house and became Mama Goose.  They are very sweet little creatures and I remain smitten.

How could I not?

David was home briefly today and showed me how to run the Roto-tiller.  We’re going to plant this whole back area, which was chicken yard.  It might be a little sandy – I’m not sure yet.  However, I was busy with babies and didn’t get around to doing any more.

May 23 – I don’t know if I posted a picture of the work David did on the mini coop.  It had been sitting on the ground and had developed some rot.  He cut all that out, put in new wood, tar paper,  and then sided three sides (not the front door part) with vinyl siding.  It looks completely different.  I think I may get some of the spray paint that adheres to plastics and paint it red, like it was.  Until then, it’s fine.  For now it’s the home of Baby Mama Chicken and her two charges.  The pen lets them be part of the flock without being subjected to any pecking or chasing.

May 24 – I went outside but didn’t offer any food to the chickens.  These ones followed me all the way back to the front door and waited a bit.  I sense disappointment.

May 25 – I drove up to Benzonia to deliver these fleece monsters to my friend Marcy.  She has a shop and a website.  Her shop always makes me feel at home because there’s so much creativity in it.  The monsters are so there will be something for the kids in her shop.  I had fun making them and she was delighted with them.

On my way home, I ran into this:

I don’t know any details, and haven’t been able to find anything on local websites.  This is one of those instances where I could have been more closely involved, but I had stopped minutes before to get something to drink at the mini mart 1/4 mile up the road.  It was on a bridge, so they weren’t moving traffic.   I called David to see if there was a way around this and he looked it up for me, directed me down some back roads and had me on my way.  As I was hanging up from he call, he said “Thanks for using On-Dave.”  Made me laugh.  An ambulance arrived a minute or so after this photo, and I passed the fire truck heading that way on the back road.

I really love it here.

May 26 – I found this contraption at the thrift store for $1.50.  It mixes and heats up cocoa, and more importantly, chai to a perfect temperature.  I have recently been treating myself to whole milk chai but kept ending up with that milk skin thing on top when I’d heat it on the stovetop or the microwave.  No more!  I also made some cocoa with a tablet of Mexican cocoa, and it melted that tablet and mixed it all perfectly.  Even better, it stayed mixed.  I used the leftovers in my smoothie two days later.  Even chai made from a dry mix is mixed well.

So, today was overcast and cooler.  I decided it was a good day for dog haircuts.  Here’s the before picture:

Fuzzy dogs!

Here’s Sadie after – it looks like I bobbed her tail.  I didn’t realize so much of it was fur!

And here’s Phoebe.  She’s a little rough, but it grows out…

Honestly, I’m just too cheap to take them in to have it done, and I’ve not invested in proper tools.  I was using sewing scissors.  They both seem happier, though, and that’s the important part.

The goslings seemed unhappy in the open so I upended a basket and put it in the cage with them.  They instantly began sleeping under it.  Usually one is in the back with the other two facing in.  They’ve already grown so much they have me wondering where I will keep them in a week or two.

I was trying to figure out the perfect names for them, something I can live with for many years, something that went together.  I was having trouble thinking of anything until today, when I decided upon Henry, Katherine and Anne.  I’ve been interested in Tudor England for quite some time.  With Katherine and Anne, I cover five of Henry’s six wives (Jane is the other), so it seemed like a good fit.  Besides, he looks like a Henry to me.   David, however,  just rolled his eyes at me…

May 13 – I was easing back into being creative – it’s been a spare year for it so far – and, as usually happens, ended up with colorful fingers.  I have gloves but usually forget about them until it’s too late.  Or I believe (as I did this time) that what I was doing wouldn’t get me stained.  This was food color.

May 14 – I was lying in my hammock with the window open, listening to the morning chorus, when I heard someone new.  First I was thinking “strange robin”, then realized it wasn’t robin, but perhaps Rose-Breasted Grosbeak, which sounds similar to robin, but a bit off.  I pulled up my birding app and listened to RBG only to realize that wasn’t it either.  It was off Rose-Breasted Grosbeak the way RBG is off robin.  In hopes of a new bird, I got up, grabbed my binoculars and camera and was rewarded with my first Scarlet Tanager.  Tiny bird high in a tree isn’t easy to get a clear photo of, I discovered.  Here he is, though.  In the early morning light, he just glowed.  Interestingly, when I pulled up Scarlet Tanager on my iBird app, it listed Rose-Breasted Grosbeak as sounding similar, but they didn’t have it cross-referenced the other way, or I’d have known what I was looking for when I got out there.  Thankfully, he was a proud singer and stayed for at least an hour, even with me moving around below him.  Some birds get antsy even when they are 40 feet up a tree!

May 15 – Our final day of riding lessons this spring.  Final day is a trail ride through the woods.  It was a beautiful day for it, if a little buggy.  I generally wear long sleeves, so I escaped unscathed.  Charlie wasn’t really happy with the mosquitoes.  As we were riding, I noticed these lovelies:

Sue called a halt so I could get a good picture.  They stood on the hill and just watched us as we rode past.  Sue explained that they just think we’re part of the horse so we aren’t as scary on horseback.  I loved watching them watch us.  Aren’t the woods a most delicious shade of green?

May 16 – I now call her “Baby Mama” and she has become quite fierce in defense of “her” chicks.  No more stroking under her bill.  If I try to touch her or the wee ones, she growls and pecks.  They are finally going outside into their small pen.  I need to get a good picture of the banties.  The little brown one is  either a Welsummer or a Black-Breasted Red game hen.  I won’t know until she lays a teeny little egg.

May 17 – This is how I got my hands messy earlier this week.  I was making bubble paper.  I plan to post a tutorial on it later.  I realized I could probably use the paper as digital backgrounds so I took pictures of them.

May 18 – Reuben’s eye has healed, but it doesn’t appear that he has any vision from it.  It doesn’t stop him from being quite vigilant as a rooster.  Since the removal of the Busters and the other two, things are much quieter and more peaceful in the chicken yard.  This week I’ll be closing the garden to the chickens as I hope to get out there and get planting on some things.  I thought my asparagus was a bust, until I got out and weeded the plot.  It’s growing but I think the chickens have been scratching it down.  Hopefully it will grow enough to be established next year.  I really want my own asparagus!  I keep trying to get some perennial food sources in, but nature keeps winning – the strawberries aren’t fruiting, the bunnies ate the apple trees, the chickens scratch down the asparagus.  Fortunately, there is time, so I’ll just keep trying.  I want an established strawberry patch, asparagus patch, blackberries (and not the tiny native weed ones that are proliferate her), apples, cherries, peaches, blueberries.  One thing that has actually taken root is Jerusalem Artichokes.  I planted three small pieces and they all grew.  I let them overwinter and now have more than a dozen plants coming up.  Now to see if we like them.  They are supposed to be like potatoes.  They are easier to grow, it seems.

May 19 – Miss Priss, looking in.  Just outside the windows, there is a retaining wall/planter.  It allows the chickens to look in the house if they want.  Priss has the same puffy blue face that Jake does – I look forward to seeing what their chicks will look like when I breed them later this summer.

This week is chick week.  Delivery of 25 (+1) Cornish Cross cockerel chicks and 3 Embden goslings.  I need to get my brooder box down from the loft in the barn and get it set up.  Later in the week will be the arrival of a few fancy egg layer chicks.  Expect cuteness.  🙂

I’m rethinking my meat-bird strategy.  While a young Cornish makes a nice roaster, the other chickens are just as tasty, and they are free.  Jack is a nice big rooster and his chicks have been big birds.  Not as chesty as Cornish, but enough.  Since I’m trying to provide our own food, it seems to make more sense to be providing my own chicks.  When I do a big lot of Cornish, I generally need to have someone else butcher them.  If I raise a batch of chicks here and there, we can do it ourselves as we need them.  This would free up freezer space for local beef and garden produce.  Twenty-five Cornish take up a BUNCH of space in a freezer.

This train of thought was seeded by the book The Small-Scale Poultry Flock by Harvey Ussery.  I’ve read many of his ideas in various magazines, but to have them all together in one book has been amazing.  He covers so much of what I want to be doing with my chickens.  Our library just got the book in.  I plan on getting my own copy next week.

I put together this digital collage today.  I was inspired by the girl with her chicken, which is an old photo from the USDA.

January 29 – David has a bulldozer engine torn apart in the garage. I liked the way it looked, so cue the camera!

January 30 – I spent some time in the barn with my big camera and the chickens. This is one of the new Rhode Island Reds. And here is Precious.

She’s such a lovely Orpington, very beachball-like.


January 31 – The wee chicks are growing. They run up to my hand when I put it in the cage.


February 1 – The chicks at one week. They grow so fast.


February 2 – I was working on David’s quilt, sewing down the binding (still working on it). Hobie has long ago declared the quilt his, so he saw it on my lap and jumped up to “help.” I think I’ll have to make a kitty quilt for him.

February 3 – One of my hens is laying speckled eggs, which delights me. I thought when Charlotte was killed, I wouldn’t see any more speckled eggs. This one particularly caught my eye for the tiny heart-shaped speck on it.

February 4 – I was out watching the chickens. A group of Barred Rock ladies gathered and made a nice picture. I love having my camera with me when I watch chickens. Never know what I’ll see.

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

Ingredients:

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.

Dec 28 – Working on David’s quilt and the wild sewing cat is back again.  I think he wants me to make him something quilted.  He is a cat of discerning tastes – he likes wool and quilts.  Handknits are also good, as long as they’re poofy.

Then I made a phone call about some chickens and spent the rest of the day on a road trip to pick up said chickens.  No pictures yet.  I had a very cool picture of the lady’s Silkie/Orpington cross hens (I am so making some of them!) but somewhere between the computer and the camera, they were lost to the ether.  And I can find mention of them online, but no pictures.  They were big beach ball chickens, like good Orps are, but they had little poofs on top of their heads.  They also had lightly feathered five-toed feet.  I’m thinking Romeo and Jack’s kids are getting put in a pen together later in the spring.