Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy Holidays!

Finally quiet for the first time today.  Our tree unfurled nicely, even if it IS a bit freeze-dried.

It's still a bit full for my tastes, I like a tree with gappy branches so I can hang MORE ORNAMENTS!  This type tends to look as if we dipped it in glue and rolled it in decorations.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


So today the kid and I were making Christmas cookies after she got home from school, which inexplicably ends at 11:30AM for the final three days before the Christmas break.

I think between finals and the holiday frenzy that kids indulge in the teachers have had enough.

At any rate, while it snowed outside we swarmed into the kitchen and made two things:  my mom's recipe for Bourbon Balls and Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies.

The Bourbon Balls are made from Vanilla Wafers, pecans, corn syrup, cocoa powder, confectioner's sugar and awesome all ground up together and formed into balls.  Oh, and bourbon.  Bourbon Balls in the past have also become Rum Balls, Brandy Balls--whatever is handy, really.  They are simple, yet the sort of thing that people take a bite of and then stop--their eyes widen, they moan 'Oh, my GOD' around a mouthful of cookie and their eyes roll up in their head.  They're that good.

The Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies are Sugar Cookies, Take #2.  I foolishly tried to make my regular sugar cookie recipe the other day because I didn't have cream cheese on hand...and THAT recipe called for shortening only, haha.

This marked the last time I ever bake with shortening at this altitude ever again.  It was 2012's Thanksgiving pie crust fiasco all over again.  Into the trash it went...

The cream cheese version uses butter only, thank you, and will be the only way I make the damned things from now on.  While we were baking, I had the MP3 player blaring away while the house birds chirped along.  We're noisy bakers.  At one point I realized I was striding through the kitchen with a bottle of bourbon clutched in one hand and a gallon Ziploc bag of granulated suger in the other, singing along loudly with 'Time Warp'.

Good times.  I mostly refrained from doing the dance, though.  Couldn't risk spilling the bourbon.

The kid helped cut and decorate the cookies.

They are quite pretty...

But some artistic license crept in.  This glum little fellow, for example.

This little guy is happy though, despite being one of the 'burned' cookies my husband always requests.  He's weird that way.

Between these and the molasses cookies, chocolate covered peanut butter balls and raspberry meringues that are on for tomorrow, we'll end up with a good amount of holiday yummies to take to the school, local fire station, our dentist and other places.

And yes, we have a proper dentist, his office encourages the bringing-in of goodies, just like the places I used to work.  I knew I'd found the right dental professional when I saw the pile of flyers offering 15% off at the local gourmet chocolatier sitting on their front desk.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

#26Acts in 2013

Along with tons of other people, I decide to participate once again in Ann Curry's #26Acts movement on Twitter, which she started after the Sandy Hook school shootings one year ago today.  She posted:  "Imagine if all of us committed to 20 mitvahs/acts of kindness to honor each child lost in Newtown. I'm in. If you are RT #20Acts"

The response she had to her idea was explosive. The number has since been upped to #26Acts to include the teachers as well as the kids.

Her Twitter feed is now filled with people around the world--not just in the US--doing amazing, surprising, heartbreakingly kind things for complete strangers, all in memory of the teachers and children killed. I highly recommend reading her Twitter feed, it will restore your faith in humanity:

If you want to participate in #26Acts on Twitter, do it! It's not too late, it's still going strong.

I thought that the origami doves fit well when I did them last year, so I'm doing it again and leaving 26 of them in various sizes around town today.

Since there is still some leftover snow on the ground and everything is pretty much wet through, some will be hidden in little brightly colored plastic Easter eggs for people to find.

The #26Acts movement basically asks people to do something positive for others--random acts of kindness.  My take on it is not political and is simply meant as a small, uplifting moment that just maybe will bring a smile to someone's face when they need it most, and encourage them to pay it forward.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

My Assistant For Today Will Be...

I'd just gotten started on decorating the tree when Sugar, my mostly-blind, ancient, buff laced Polish hen, insisted on helping to string the lights.

She climbed right in and tangled the wires, darn it.

I told her she was getting too many yellow lights in one spot...she got pretty exasperated with me for interfering with her project.

Sugar is quite, quite happy with us for bringing an entire tree into the house just for her.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Yes, That Is EXACTLY What You Think It Is...

Of course I had a Christmas tree in my bathtub today, doesn't everyone?

I actually think it improved the look of that bathroom, which as you can see I haven't gotten around to repainting/tiling/everything else yet.

The tree is in the bathtub because I've learned the hard way that Christmas trees require a good hosing out before being allowed to enter the living room--the amounts of mud, gravel, straw, sticks and other road grunge I've hosed out of the things over the years would consitute a small landfill.  Not to mention *ahem* living things, mainly spiders.  Yeah, I know, there is a cute little tradition that spiders in your holiday tree are 'good luck'.  Well, they can go bring their good fortune to someone not so deadly sensitive to spider bites as I, thank you.  I'll stick with four leaf clovers and finding pennies on the sidewalk.  I'm just glad that there were no freeze-dried critters in there that returned to life like zombie TV dinners.

Back to the Christmas tree in the bathtub.

Two nights ago when we went Christmas tree hunting we'd had a good snow followed by several days of subfreezing temps, so every tree lot we looked at had wonderful frozen tannenbaum sarcophagi stacked up like hard, green cigars.  It was a balmy 9 degrees, so there was no unwinding the string and checking for a good tree this year, nosiree.  It was grab a likely frozen candidate, drag that conifer entombed in permafrost back home and hope for the best.  This one was a triangular shape that steadfastly refused to thaw for an entire day.

So today when it was at it's warmest--around 27 degrees--and there was absolutely no hope of running the garden hose without risking burst pipes and a really ice encrusted tree, we opted for the next best thing--drag the tree into the bathtub and hose it out there.

I fully expected this entire safari to evolve into a typical event for us involving several cascading mini-disasters, all of which would be disgustingly ridiculous and humiliating.  To my surprise everything went smoothly though, and tonight the tree is ensconced in the living room, slowly thawing out and unfurling the rest of the way.

I fully expect the other shoe to drop and something dumb to happen, this is too good an opportunity for fate to pass up.

Found Origami In The 21st Century

My revamp of my 'Found Origami' site is finally complete and the new look is uploaded, yay!

I hope to God it works on everyone's browsers and devices.  It was certainly one damned PITA struggle working out the kinks, although I learned a lot in doing it, and it's always fun to learn new things and expand on what you already knew.

Next will be the chicken site, which is already under way but is MUCH larger than the origami site and promises to be the big boss battle.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Ghost Birds!

So last night into today the snow has been falling, sometimes with great force and a little too much malignance to suit me, thankyouverymuch.  But overnight we got a couple of inches of it, and when we got up, the local birds had been by.

We normally spread bird food on and under this table, the quail had come by and roughed up the lawn hunting for goodies.

The front porch was full of tracks, including those from a little one-legged quail we often see.  His track is the one with the drag mark from his leg stump, he hops to get around and does fine.  You can see the tracks from a two-legged quail nearby.

A sparrow had also hopped along the porch.

...and then taken off.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

An Evening Out!

So this evening, just after dark, the town had scheduled an outdoor concert/fireworks show at one of the local parks.

There is 2 inches of snow on the ground, it was 13 degrees outside and rapidly getting colder, with our next really cold storm expected tomorrow.

We went anyway, just like a bunch of other damned fools.  It was fun.

Some forward-thinking soul had placed 6 big 55 gallon drums lit with roaring bonfires here and there in the audience area, so we all cheerfully stood warming our hands with our feet in freezing slush denying that we were cold in any way.  There was a huge horse-drawn sleigh giving free rides and hot coffee, soup, cocoa and popcorn in abundance.

Husband went to the rest room, got back and nonchalantly reported, 'There was a dog in there, just watching me.'  Presumably to make sure he washed his hands.

Several local kid's groups got up on the gazebo stage and sang Christmas carols, then after they were done there was a small electronic lightshow set to holiday music, done very nicely.  After THAT, it was time to spirit the horse away, since horse + 20 person sleigh+ fireworks could equal loads of runaways, panicked screaming and lawsuits.

The fireworks were very nice and once you got into it and went with the smalltown groove of red/white/blue fireworks and country music-flavored Christmas songs, was fun.

Then suddenly in the midst of the medley of songs was a decidedly punk-themed barrage of only mildy holiday-themed music...it went on for a minute, then suddenly it was back to the country stuff.  This went on for a minute, then it was BACK to the punk music.  Then back to country.  It was like a weird Battle of the Bands, holiday-style.  We all started giggling, wondering of someone was hacking the music program...

Anyway, after the fireworks it was time to go, and no one had to tell people twice since it was damned cold.  We returned home to hot soup, warm crunchy bread and a good fire to thaw ourselves out in front of.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


We had out first real snowstorm yesterday, it's cold enough that I expect it'll stick around long anough for the next storm, expected this Saturday, to add more snow to what we got yesterday.

 To say that the chickens were NOT happy with cold stuff falling from the sky goes unspoken.  This was just about half an hour after it started, we got about 3 inches in as many hours.

Although the quail out front cheerfully forged ahead and scoured the ground for seed.  I tossed fresh bird food out front, which was met with a chorus of excited little 'Urk! Urk! Urk!' noises from the unseen quail in the hedges nearby.

And the snow made pretty patterns on one of the patio tables.

By this morning, the quail trails across the front lawn were evident.

You could even see their peculiar 'run run run *hop* run run run *hop* run run run' mode of travel in deeper snow, like little fat snowplows.  Having short legs is Hell.

And the icicles on the chain link fence sparkled prettily.

Meanwhile back indoors, Pidge spent his time wisely, wearing a chunk of newspaper as a hat and cooing into it.  Because...well, that's what pigeons do and it makes him happy.


He went right back to it.  We should all be as uncomplicated to be happy with something this simple.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Mid-Century Chickens!

So Terry over at HenCam http://hencam.com/category/thevintagehen/ has been posting pictures of her vintage apron collection--my favorite is the pink and turquoise happy little rooster on wheels--and got me inspired to share some of my own obnoxious vintage chicken-themed linens.  I had been telling her about my favorite chicken apron which is a 1950's 'black with pink/orange chickens and chicken wire' monstrosity.

So as promised to Terry, here is my more-50's-than-50's chicken apron:

I *DID* warn you.

Such a happy little orange-pink-green chicken family!  I'm sure that they aren't actually staring at each other, aghast with sheer horror...

I don't wear this apron much, my go-to cooking apron is one of those full-front things (still chicken themed of course, in the style of a baby chick feed bag) since when I cook I require more of a drop cloth affair than an apron.

Among my collection of vintage table linens I also have a little tablecloth which looks to be from the early 1960's.

In each corner are these cheerful, clueless rooboys, who clearly have no idea they are standing next to a cooking pot.

There is also this saucy little fellow in the middle.  He is presenting us with his backside, which is what all chickens do the minute you point a camera at them.

I'll have to get pictures of my other tacky chicken decorations, I love me some tacky crap so I've got some doosies.

Friday, November 22, 2013

He's The Happiest Little Snowman!

This morning I found that the kid had created a snowman last night.  There was only a light layer of snow about half an inch at it's deepest, so this snowman is snowball-sized and rests atop the old rabbit hutch.

I like how he's got a snowball in each hand, obviously ready for a snowball fight with any other micro-snowman who happens by.  Heck, he's even got legs.

But the best part is the huge smile she gave him.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Arg Fargl...

So the kid has been out back playing in the little bit of snow we got today, and just came in the back door while I was making enchiladas.  I hear her ask from behind me, "Do I have snow on my head?"

I cringe.  I know my child well enough to know that I probably do not want to turn and look. *sigh*  I do anyway.  "Yes, you do.  Go OUTSIDE and brush it off."

She does so, then returns and races down the hall.  "Imgoingrightbackout!" she calls over her shoulder.

Meanwhile I shove the enchiladas into the oven to do their thing.  I glance at the sliding door and outside is Dusty, covered in snow.  "Geez, the dog is covered in snow, too!"

The kid calls out, "That's because she's been rolling in it!"

Oh, swell.  I leave the kitchen and head into the living room.

"I have, too!"  chirps my child.

AUUUGGGHHHHH...  I don't realize that I have actually voiced my anguish aloud until the kid says, "What?"

"Nothing."  I grump.  "I'm sure there isn't an ounce of dirt in your hair."

...so does anyone make industrial-strength shampoo?

For All Of Your More Creepy Holiday Needs

So I was sifting through the mail yesterday and ran across this ad from one of the hardware stores offering 'Holiday Gift Ideas'.

Which looks fine at first...yeah, yeah, assorted crappy tools, little weird things...

Until you get to the lower right hand corner, where your brain screeches to a halt.  TRASH BAGS?!

Because nothing says, 'Ahaha, no, fuck YOU' like the gift of trash bags?  For those times when your loved one may need to shoot, shovel and shut up?  What message does this particular gift send, anyway?  And no, not even the inclusion of 'xtreme' can save it.  It's trash bags fer chrissakes.

Maybe it goes with the knife set directly above it, I dunno.  Taken in that way, this entire ad becomes menacing.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Here's Your Morning Activities...

So we're getting all settled in to watch the MAVEN launch this morning...husband on the couch with the NASA feed running, I'm putting the finishing touches on some pumpkin bread before tossing it into the oven.

It's times like these that all Hell seems to break loose, when you are least expecting it.

Three things happen nearly simultaneously.  The brand-new washing machine (I consider any appliance less than 2 years old 'brand-new' and it damned well better WORK with no problems, goddamn it) suddenly starts to gleefully make godawful, LOUD 'BANG BANG BANG' noises.  Jesus, it sounds like 4 maniacs with 25 pound sledgehammers are tearing the roof off the house.  It's the kind of thing that scrambles your brain for a few seconds and makes you run around like a cockroach after the lights have been turned on.  We  both rush to the hallway where the laundry machines crouch in a large closet and fling open the doors.  There is the washer, leaping about, out of balance and clearly trying for a murder-suicide pact with the BRAND NEW water heater sitting innocently next to it.  It couldn't go the other way and aim for the 20 year old, garage sale bargain, battle-scarred dryer, oh no.

Husband whips open the lid of the washer, growling 'Why the Hell didn't this thing stop itself when it went out of balance?!' and as it finally, begrudgingly gives up and stops, plunges his hand into the thing and rearranges the clothes.  Closes the lid and we both stand there, poised to leap at it again as it restarts...peacefully, thank God.

We no sooner walk back and sit down with our coffee to watch the launch, which has 1 1/2 minutes to go, when suddenly the feed blinks out and is replaced by a feed from 'Eagle Cam'.  Coffee cups halfway to lips, we freeze.  WTF?  Husband leaps for the remote and within 15 seconds has it back to the NASA feed...

...which now shows MAVEN computer animation with the launch narrator talking about how many miles downrange the thing is.  I think we've discovered time travel, here.  This is now also the time when Dusty the dog suddenly goes into a positive frenzy of barking--because, you know, someone is riding a horse down the street, which is cause for total canine panic/property defense with extreme prejudice.  Meanwhile husband is roaring four-letter words at NASA, UStream and the universe in general while charging back and forth from the TV to his computer, trying to figure this out.

Clearly we've magically somehow missed the launch.

Luckily all is resolved by screaming 'Shut up, Dusty!' at the dog and waiting for NASA to rerun all the camera angles of the launch, which they always do.

But lord, things happen when you least expect it.  Weird shit, Maynard.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Happiness For Old Ladies

Today it warmed up enough for my husband to take two of the old ladies out for some quality front yard time.  Bear is still going strong as our flock's Head Hen, and the oldest in the flock at 11 years old.  Sugar is 8-9 years old and mostly blind.  Bear took to the beds I'd just weeded for winter and threw herself wholeheartedly into a dust bath while Sugar mostly just hung out.

Then Bear really got into dustbathing, flinging dirt with wild abandon.

Happy, happy old lady face.  Most people will never know the kind of sheer bliss a chicken attains while dustbathing, it's very zen.

Raspberry Chicken Stew Cookies, Of Course!

So today was mostly devoted to running Chickam and cooking.

I decided to whip up a batch of raspberry meringues--deceptively simple, elegant little four ingredient tidbits that are super simple to make and crunch when you bite into them yet melt in your mouth.

Started with egg whites from the girls out back.

I was going to make half of the batch raspberry flavor and the other half coffee flavor, but got all involved and forgot to seperate out half of the finished meringue mixture.  So raspberry it is!

Toss together the egg whites, raspberry extract and cream of tartar.  Normally I make these with a teaspoonful of Chambord instead of extract, because, well, Chambord is awesome and luscious and made of angel whispers from God himself.  Next stick it in my trusty 900 year old KitchenAid mixture and beat the living Hell outta it 'until soft peaks form'.

Hmm, not there yet...

There ya go!

Now to add the sugar while the KitchenAid is whirring away and get it to 'stiff & glossy', which is what all little meringues aspire to be when they grow up.

Yeah, baby!

Onto my battle-scarred cookie sheets they are dolloped.  They don't spread but do puff up the tiniest bit when you bake them, so you can put them pretty close together.  Into a 300 degree oven for half an hour, after which you turn the oven off and forget about the things for anywhere from 2 hours to overnight.


They really do look disturbingly like styrofoam, and next time I make them I think I'll use an icing piping bag and try to make them look like packing peanuts.

Into the cookie jar they go!
At my house the cookie jar is a repurposed glass iced tea jar.

At the same time, I was making a chicken/vegetable stew for the animals.  I ladle the finished stew into muffin tins, freeze them and then I have little yummy chicken/veg disks to go on the dog's food or mix with rice for the chickens on cold days as a treat.  So the kitchen smelled of raspberry/chicken.

The kid ventured into the kitchen at one point, looking confused.  'What are you making...?'

No hesitation whats-so-freakin'-ever. I chirp out, 'Raspberry chicken stew cookies!'

She looks fascinated/disgusted for a moment, then disgust wins--but is quickly masked when I bend her a steely '...and you'd better like it!' gaze.  She wanders off in disappointment.

One of the true joys of parenting is messing with your kid every so often.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Wattle Wiggle Wars, Round 2

Not content to humiliate roosters just one day, this weekend we Wattle Wiggled again:

This time it was Honey first--he is the one practically roaring 'Oh, NO!' and grumping all the way to the camera, then settling down and seeming to dig it.  Then for a bit we get to admire Bloop the MilleFleur Belgian d'Uccle roosters' comb.  After that comes Meeko, who submits with only slightly more grace.

Today has been devoted to fall yard clean-up, we dumped three loads of leaves into the coop and now have very happy, busy chickens.  We cleaned up a bit in the back of the yard,  carefully skirting the brush pile that about 100 California quail have decided to call home.  Our afternoon foray into the very back of the property to clean was accompanied by shudders & wailed imprecations at previous tenants as we dredged up a wonderland of trash, as usual around here. Good God.  Every time we go out a new layer of crap has writhed it's way to the surface for us to gaze at in horrified fascination.  I don't know what my neighbors must think, seeing me walk the property with a big bucket and a trash-grabbing gizmo all the time.

Also, some largish critter--I suspect a raccoon or a skunk--has been digging under the perimeter fence to go in and out of the yard.  Not sure what to do about securing that much fence down below ground level to seal out chicken-eating beasties. Every solution I can think of involves weeks of digging and miles of expensive wire.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Wattle Wiggle Wars!

Because of this:

We were forced--FORCED I tell you--to do this:

Fred was merely confused, but Weedcat's dignity was somewhat bruised.

Monday, November 4, 2013

New Eggs & Killin' Rats

The ladies from our first hatch this year have begun to lay--delicate, petite little first eggs that we sometimes find left lying in the run like little whoopsies.  The roo boys have also begun to crow, much to Weedcat & Bloop's disgust--although Meeko's crows are just single note, drawn-out 'Ooooo's.  Weedcat stared at him in disbelief and carefully crowed back at him, obviously trying to show him how it's really done.

I don't expect to get many eggs from this year's chicks this late in the year, but next Spring should be a 'Oh my GOD I've laid an EGG!' caterwaulfest supreme.  Right now everyone is concentrating on growing feathers as the nighttime temperatures steadily drop, all the chickens are getting amusingly fluffy and are lots of fun to scoop up & snoodle.

As for me, I'm concentrating on pre-snow yard cleanup and the final shots at house projects like painting before it gets too cold & wet.  This week is slated for things that I call "Killin' Rats"--small, unexciting, annoying chores that need to get done.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

So the kid went with 'Werewolf'' for Halloween this year.  Since it's for school and no masks or appliances are allowed, we did makeup, plus little wolf ears and a tail.

She wanted to be a pissy little werewolf, so I obliged.

'Look fierce!'

She already had the UNR 'Nevada Wolf Pack' shirt, so it worked out well.

Monday, October 28, 2013

First Snow!

So we woke this morning to our first snow of the season.

It's always fun to watch this year's youngsters discovering snow for the first time, and since we had buttoned up the coop last night because of the wind & cold they hadn't seen it yet.  So we went out and let them all out of the coop.

The older chickens looked around with a 'Yeah, right.  This stuff again.' expression, but for the youngsters, confusion reigned.  There was much staring.

Doodad and Cam craned their necks to stare, then nibble.

Fred and Baba stared at the snow, while Bruce had a herp-derp moment with Chick and stared at her, for whatever reason.

Meeko came to the door of the coop, then firmly decided NOT to come out and retreated to the furthest reaches of the coop with the old ladies.

The kid swarmed into the coop and carried him out.

He wanted no truck with the strange white stuff and ran back in.

It's pretty, but we expect it all to be gone by noon.