Thursday, December 27, 2012

Fun With Snow!

We had ourselves quite the little snowstorm the other night, it gave us a few inches for the kid to play in, and was the type that stuck to everything.

Including the chicken coop & run, the poultry awoke to find themselves suddenly unable to see outside the run and were freaked out.

But Gloria the Brinkotter hen lost no time is snarfing down beakfuls of the stuff...

J. was clearing snow off the roof of the small run and learned why you do this from the side, rather than standing directly under it.

And the kid made a snowman for the back porch.

Love his 'Meh, I'm a snowman. Gotta pinecone on muh haid.' face.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Christmas, Yay!

Finally got the tree done last night, after three days of decorating.


Yep, that's 13 boxes of ornaments. JUST ornaments, mind you, it doesn't include any lights or indoor/outdoor decorations. There are also 5 boxes of glass bead garland, not pictured here.


The tree has a bit of a bend to the trunk, but oh, well.

Crummy pic, but shows the lights, kinda.

On the mantle I've got several single strands of funky vintage specialty lights. They've got ohsoshiny reflectors & foil and stuff.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Screwing With Kids...

The other night after I'd picked up my sister from the airport and delivered her to my mom's place, we were all sitting around talking.

Suddenly my kid runs into the room from the kitchen, where she'd been with her grandmother and aunt. "Mom, is it true that the holes in swiss cheese are made by MICE?!"

Now, this kind of BS and mindfuckery is something my family is famous for, if really elaborate and on a grand scale well, all the better. Her father, reading a magazine next to me, freezes. By this time we know better than to catch each other's eye and ruin things. Over my daughter's shoulder I see my sister and mother grinning hugely and nodding emphatically at me in an exaggerated manner.

Don't laugh, don't laugh, don't laugh.

I bite my lip and carefully put on my most exasperated face. "Now--think, honey. How else are they gonna get the holes in there? It's the cheapest, easiest way and besides that the mice get fed, too. Geez, use your head." I say in a tired tone. Her father shakes his head and gives an 'of course' flavored snort.

Family members behind her are now dancing about in silent glee as my child stares agape at me in horror.

Hold expression, maintain eye contact, continue to sell the con...

And...she buys it.
She swings around and tears off back into the kitchen, where she is torn between 'ew, mousecheese' and eating one of her favorite yummy cheeses. Eventually yummy cheese wins out, as it always must.

We never did correct her thinking, though. That'll be a day for a whole 'nuther round of fun.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Adventures With Baking...

So today I'm making two pies for Thanksgiving, pumpkin and pecan. I get out all my implements of kitchen destruction and have at it, starting with the pie crust. Now, I've always been able to knock pie crusts right out with no problem. Today? Here at nearly 5000 feet? With an extra-dry, no humidity day?


My very first batch of good ol' shortening pie crust dough went together OK until I'd mixed it all and was forming it into a ball. Then it suddenly seized.


I tell you, I've dug stones outta my goddamned back yard that were softer. The thing was an instarock. Now I'm stubborn, so I tried rewetting it a bit to try and save doughrock.

No soap. It's now just a slimey rock. Oh, well, into the trash can it went with a resounding 'thud'.

I know better than to try the same thing, expecting different results. Off to the Internet I fly for advice, where I decide to switch up my pie crust fats a bit and go with a half butter/half shortening recipe, which I have never tried. But desperate times and all that stuff...

I follow the directions, which since they were on a forum thread were offhanded at best. Gonna try using my big ol' honkin Cuisinart food processor to mix the fats and let it earn it's keep a bit. Now...I've had the thing long enough to know that centrifugal force is a scientific fact and stuff sticks to the bowl but heck, all these other people are doing it, so it must work. Right?


I cut the chilled butter into small bits and toss it in, then hit the 'pulse' button. Haha, they do as I suspect and instantly fling themselves against the sides of the processor bowl, clinging like barnacles. I twist the top off and smoosh the butter back down with a spatula, and try again.

Same result.

OK. Maybe if I put the shortening in and try to mix them, some kind of wonderful baking-chemical-science-y magic thing will happen to prevent the stuff from sticking to the damned bowl...

No. Same result. OK.

Scrape goop down again, putting it well into the blades. Hit pulse. Stuff joyously leaps for the sides of the bowl and stays there. It's happening so quickly it boggles the mind, it seems preternatural.

Open lid. Scrape. Replace lid. Hit pulse. Lather, rinse, repeat. Ok, ok, OKAY!

Now, after about 10 tries I started to suspect that all these people online were crazed maniacs who posted maliciously in pie crust forums, and broke out all my $2 cuss words in a muttered, running, free-association rant. Some of it not so 'muttered'. I finally give up on the dumb Cuisinart and finish mixing the fats in a bowl with a pastry cutter, like normal humans do. Works great and I'm happy. In goes the flour, mix with the pastry cutter, add water, mix. Hallelujah, we have pie crust dough! Into the fridge it goes to chill.

Right about then my daughter sticks her head into the kitchen, looking a bit wary. She asks, "What was all the bad language for?"

Oops. Sorry kid.

I apologize and explain about the pie crust. Eventually the stuff is properly chilled, rolled out and made into pies with no further disasters. Won't know how it tastes until the whole family gets to eat it, yikes. Here's hoping the pie crust gods smile upon me.

I've suffered enough today.

Monday, November 19, 2012

This week's project...

This week it was the area where the living room & dining room meet, with ugly 70's half wall.

From the living room:

From the dining room:

Ugh. Just could not be uglier. And yes, I broke out some $2 cuss words while patching previous owners screw-ups and attacking the wall with a sander. As usual. What should have been a 1-2 day job took 4. I hate that half-wall with it's nasty 70's woodwork, but at the moment tearing it out wasn't an option, we'd have had to redo the carpet and the dining room floor to patch the hole. So paint it is!


Paint can work miracles!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Daddy's Little Helper...

So here I am, MP3 player on and earbuds in, painting away in the living room.

Suddenly my husband returns from HIS project in the back yard, which today is repair of the coop doors, damaged in last week's windstorm. I notice he is scowling.

At me. Uh oh.

So I yank one of the earbuds. He growls, "Your chicken..."

I sigh. Whenever one of them misbehaves, we tell each other: 'Your chicken just...' (insert naughty chicken activity here).

"Which one?"


"What did she do THIS time?"

He then tells me how while he was trying to work, Linc was constantly underfoot, and completely engrossed by what he was doing. Now, this is how chickens ARE--if you are working around them, they must be intricately involved, like nosy old neighbor ladies. ALL of them. At once.

This can make for lots of chicken-y interference, like today.

"She wouldn't get out of my face!" He wails. Then he says she grabbed the screw off the end of the drill and was off to the races, forcing him to chase her around the run trying to get a potentially deadly screw away from a damned chicken before she swallowed it. This gave all the other birds the idea that Linc had a really cool goodie, so they joined in the parade.

He finally did wrestle the screw away from Linc, much to everyone's disappointment, and finished his project. I remarked on how Linc was just like Bear, our Head Hen, and asked him where Bear was during all this. Turns out Bear was watching the whole escapade fondly, as if Linc was following in her footsteps.

Like some kind of retarded Luke/Yoda thing.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Little-Known American Holidays...

For the benefit of people living outside the US, I thought I'd share one of our lesser-known holidays...

The annual Torture Of The Pumpkins!

First, introduce your Halloween jack-o-lanterns to a flock of suspicious chickens.

Your big, tough rooster will immediately run away screaming and hide in the coop for the next 10 minutes.

Hens, being more practical, approach cautiously...after all, it MIGHT be food!

Sooner or later, you just know that someone is gonna stick their head in one of the pumpkins...

...and Rose wins.

Not to be outdone, others quickly follow suit.

Zipper, with Bloop watching in confusion.

Pompadour is content with pecking out The Thing's eyes.

Gloria, the Brinkotter, goes at this 'eating' thing hammer & tongs while CM watches.

Sora and Pompadour are a bit concerned...

...and Pomps makes use of The Thing's eyeholes again, this time to watch her.

Bloop does, too.

As does Burger. Gloria was in there a long time.

After a while it got to be like some kind of weird 'stick-your-noggin-in-a-gourd' club.

It's hard to tell if the chicken is wearing the pumpkin, or the pumpkin is wearing a chicken. Sora, looking like a Christmas hat.


Chickens are so very predictably weird.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Live the dream, man...live the dream.

Dawn Of The Dead!

Got the kid all zombified for Halloween at school, which meant getting up 45 minutes early in order to get the makeup done in time.

I didn't realize it when I posed her for pictures, but with the sun coming up behind her I got an inadvertent 'Dawn of the Dead' thing, there.

Also, I used an old box to make some quick & dirty coffins for the yard!

I was able to get two from the one box, I want them to look like they are half-buried in the front yard and kinda heaved up out of the ground.

In place:

The paint job isn't the best, but it'll do for Halloween night. The lawn being all dead and weedy is actually coming in handy for Halloween.

Halloween And Little Green Men

Got some Little Green Men folded, I found some new & different eyes for them.

The eyes are damned creepy, which I expect is just right for Halloween.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Bath Day!

Dusty was looking and smelling...well, dusty. So today she got a bath.

She was not impressed.

But later, after she was dry, she did the typical over-the-top happy dog thing and rolled on the carpet with the kid.

We're letting her fur grow out a bit, probably not much longer than this, but her little eyebrows are sure cute and she has quite the 'Benji' look going.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Dog Days Of Fall...

So yesterday we whisked Dusty off to the vet for her shots, and also because the night before we'd caught her scooting her bottom across the carpet, much to our delight.

When I was a kid, catching your dog doing the boot scoot boogie across the floor usually meant one thing--worms.

It turns out that these days there is a more likely culprit, at least in smaller dogs. It's blocked anal glands, of all the charming notions. So our vet said to bring in a fecal sample along with us in order to rule out parasites. Under Dusty's disbelieving eye we collected our treasure and went along to the vet, where Dusty ignored the little dogs and growled at the big ones--in particular a very large, beautiful Smooth Coat Collie who entered the office like a rock star, exuding an 'I'm HERE, everyone, yay me!' air.

Eventually we got taken back to an exam room, where Dusty has to be held by us while the vet tech takes her temperature, in the only region you CAN on a dog. We make the requisite jokes about 'she didn't even buy you dinner' while all this is going on, Dusty just looks confused and embarassed. Like most vets they like to take the dogs in the back, leaving you in the room to wait, while they do anything stressfull (mostly to the owners) out of sight.

So now off Dusty goes to the nether regions of the office for shots while we cool our heels. They brought her back a few minutes later and we waited a bit...the sample turned up no parasites, so anal glands it was!

Back Dusty went to the inner office for anal gland squeezin's, casting us a decidedly pained look as she went.

...and back she came a few minutes later, all cleaned out. After chatting with the vet for a minute, we asked her to note on the paperwork that Dusty had been spayed, since it's cheaper to license a spayed/neutered pet.

Oops, they'd forgotten to check for surgery scars to prove that, and it turns out that Dusty will have to be shaved a bit in order for them to see the scars. You guessed it, time for a third trip to the back room where all the magic happens.

So here comes the vet tech for her again. By now Dusty is firmly hiding her head in my daughter's lap, with an 'If I can't see them they can't see me' attitude.

Nonetheless she is once again led to the door, at which point she looks back over her shoulder at us as if to say, 'First you allow someone I don't KNOW to stick things up there, then they stick me with needles, THEN they...oh God, you don't want to know--! Now I'm getting SHAVED?! What is this, Hell Week? Am I pledging some dumb fraternity? What's next, you gonna hang Christmas lights back there?!'

Dog's faces can be very expressive.

But Dusty went along with the program and returned. She was much happier after getting some treats from the vet and lots of pets and praise.

But on the way out she fairly bolted for the door.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Time to guess, 'What The Hell Am I Doing NOW?!'

It appears I'm cleaning out kitchen cabinets.

But wait--no!

It's jerky making time in the dehydrator! All of the items pictured above are what goes into making the marinade, including coffee.

It was yummy!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Call Your Mummy!

Another new Halloween fold, this time it's a mummy's head.

And I'm all for equality, so I made some silly girlie mummies as well.

This fold is more 'paper wadding' than true origami, but it's simple and fun!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Living Room DONE!

Dear God, it feels GREAT to have even one room in this house DONE--cleaned, painted and decorated. There is so much to do here that a lot of the time it feels like a 'fish or cut bait' dilemma, we don't know what to do first.

Boring, ugly living room before:

And after!  New wall paint and trim paint, plus the whole 'scrub the fireplace top to bottom and refinish the wood mantle' thing. Also, curtains up and pictures on the walls! The ugly metal blinds are staying for now, since they are mostly covered while raised and will do their job come winter. You can see where I stopped painting, I have to paint one side of the room, then shift all the furniture to the other side before I can paint the opposite walls.

Of course, because of the way this house is constructed, you can't just hang a curtain rod. Oh, no. It is a roaring pain in the ass to hang anything heavier than a very small picture on the walls, you have to find studs, buy special types of hangers, plan for weight distribution...bleah.

But hey, one down!

Except...except for the 'siliconed-shut window' thing courtesy of the previous tenants, may they rot stinking in Hell for all of eternity. Here's why:

By dint of doing some investigating of the realtor's pictures of the house when it was for sale, we realized the reason for the weird silicone thing--the previous owners had a window air conditioner mounted there and had thought it a GREAT idea to silicone the damned thing into place. A closer look at the 1/2 inch-thick layer of silicone they cheerfully filled the window and it's channels with:

It goes around all three sides of the window and is on the window and the channel. It won't peel off but instead most be laboriously picked at, coming loose in tiny bits & pieces. I worked on it for a few minutes before realizing that it was going to take at least one whole day to get this gunk out of there.

I tell you, I laughed and sang the entire time I worked on it.