Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!


~ FAMILY & FRIENDS - continue to enjoy every moment I have with them. Be spontaneous and have fun! Take nobody for granted!

~ FOOD - eat mostly whole foods, preserve more than ever before, grow/raise a good portion of our food.

~ FITNESS - continue to be consistent with an exercise regimen and ENJOY what mother nature has to offer. Loose a few pounds!!!

~ FARM - purchase solar fencing and get set up for cows. Learn as much as I can about rotational grazing.

~ FARMHOUSE - put up trim & bead board. Finishing touches.... lots of wood work. Install a new bathroom floor.

Cheers to another great year!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Best Things In Life Are Free ~Sunday Still Challenge~

This weeks Sunday Stills Challenge theme is "What brings you luck." Well that was a hard for me because I am not very superstitious. Well maybe a little, I do carry a picture of my late grandfather in my wallet. I wore his "lucky long john's" and I did see a deer while hunting this fall.
He did buy me a stethoscope when I graduated from nursing school that I flip out when I misplace. We do have their kitchen table which means the world to me but those items would make for a lame photo session. So, I tweaked the theme to "what makes me feel lucky". I feel fortunate to own our land.

I put on my boots, grab my camera, mp3 player, and the dogs (notice that is plural) and we are off. The snow is deep in the middle and we've yet to pack a trail with our snomobile so I walk close to the wood line.
There is tons deer sign. They are bedding all up our wood line and they have been munching on MM's food plot. Where were they this fall?

I know what a nut, taking a picture of deer poo. This post is about photography and what a good, detailed shot.

The blind looks a little different this time of the year compared to spring. It was foggy all day. The temp was up to 60 degrees today, very unusual for December in Maine.

Our land is surrounded by old fencing and rock walls. Even the back forty (the wooded area). Years ago it used to be pasture. I cannot imagine having livestock so far from the house. Our land goes back approximately 1 mile.

About 3/4 of the way back of our field the main snowmobile trail goes through. Since the trail on the back forty is not packed down this is where we walked. Well, I walk/jogged, Callie ran!

This is the newest addition to the farm, not quite a farm dog. Her name is Rona (her previous owner says it is short for Corona). I think I'll call her Ramona. She is a 4 year boxer. Same EXACT deal as how we obtained Callie. Phone call from the neighboors (kennel owners). Customer is going through a divorce and they are looking for a good home. I asked MM and he didn't say no right away so I offered to dog sit for a night then decide. She passed the test and is staying. She is SWEET as ever. She's a keeper!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Putting Pork on Your Fork

Not too much to report on the farm. The weather in Maine has been wacky... warm, then below zero, snow then rain??

So glad we are down to 2 pigs. A fifty pound bag of grain is lasting well over a week compared to 3 days. The pork chops and sausage are so delicious! My neighbor picked up our ham, bacon, and smoked shoulder today. MM is cooking our first of the bacon as I type.....yum....he just gave me a sample.
Years ago John & I raised a few pigs. I can vividly remember one of our novice pig experiences. We had just moved into our first home and we were wanna be farmers. We went to the auction and bought a 75lb pig. The closest we had to a farm vehicle was John's Toyota 4 runner so we loaded her in the back and off we went.

When we arrived home we put her in a pen that John had built out of pallets. The next morning at 5 a.m. John discovered she had escaped. It was early Spring and John was able to follow her tracks in the soft ground. He discovered her a 1/2 mile back at our NEW neighbors house rooting up their lawn. The chase began! The pig headed straight for their deck and it fell and slid into their sliding glass door. They were awoken by their dog barking and the noise of the pig and MM in hot pursuit. John was young and in his prime I tell you. But, that pig ran faster scared than John could mad. I too attempted to capture but remember dropping to the ground surrendering. The whole family attempted to catch this frisky critter and you know it, after quite some time MM outsmarted her. He hid behind a tree and when it attempted to run the field John was able to get a hold of her. The drama continued, because of the mud season we could not drive up their driveway (as they did not either) so we had to walk her home. Ever try to walk a 75lb pig? We weren't laughing at the time but we often reminisce about that day.

This was our first meeting of our new neighbors and after a bit of landscaping and a 12 pack of beer we became friends for life.

This story was not my planned post for this evening but...there you have it. That damn ADD kicking in again!

A few weeks back I finished reading Omnivores Dilemma. A little deep at times but very informative. It is headed to City Girl's bedside stand next. Now I am reading In Defense of Food along with an awesome magazine MM bought me for Christmas. It is called Countryside & small stock journal. For those of you that are interested in gardening, livestock, homesteading this is a must have . It has few ads and pictures in comparison to other magazines and it is jammed pack with great info.

I have been doing lots of cooking and I will end this with a couple recipes that we have enjoyed.

For all of you that have a freezer full of blueberries. This is the first time I made and ate blueberry pie. MM and my in-laws enjoyed as well.

Blueberry Pie

~3 to 4 cups of Blueberries - fresh or frozen

~7 Tablespoons corn starch
~3 Tablespoons water
~2 Tablespoons lemon juice
~ 1 teaspoon cinnamon

~1/4 teaspoon all spice

One 9 inch pie crust

For the topping:

~1/4 cup sugar (OR 1/8 cup sugar and 1/8 cup Splenda)
~1/2 cup flour
~1/4 cup butter or margarine

Add blueberries to crust, drizzle with remaining incredients and then apply crumb topping.

Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour. Serve warm with cream or ice cream.

This was the bread I made today. It too was a hit, even with the kiddos. Now remember I cheat making bread most days by using my bread machine. I add liquids/butter etc to the bread pan first then I add dry mix after ingredients combined. Make a hole in the middle and add yeast last. I select dough cycle which takes my machine about 1.5 hours to mix and rise. I then shape it into a loaf and put in a glass bread pan and cover with a moist towel to rise (preferably in a warm area) for 1 hour. Then it cooks at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.


2/3 cup milk (warmed to 75-85 degrees)

1 large egg

1 tablespoon of butter

2 1/4 cups of bread flour

1 teaspoon of salt

1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon of bread machine fast rise yeast (or 1 1/2 teaspoon of active dry yeast)

And lastly for the Rabid Outdoorsman and Queenie here is my pickled egg recipe you were asking for. It is at the bottom of that post.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

We had a WONDERFUL Christmas! MM was scheduled to work last night and was called off because the census was low on his unit. SO EXCITING for us!!
The only blip in the holiday is that I accidentally deleted all of my holiday photos (approx 100)
Boo hoo....I had never done that before. The kids knew I was upset and jumped right up so I could take a few photos despite their exhaustion from the holiday events. We will celebrate with our in-laws over the weekend so I will try and recapture some of what I lost. :(

Note to self: Don't play with buttons or attempt to delete a picture unless I'm really paying attention.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sunday Stills Challenge ~Food~

I bet you've never given or received pickled eggs for Christmas. Several weeks back I proposed to our old neighbors (Mike & Bea) that we'd stop the traditional gift card swap and try doing something a little more homemade instead. We've filled a bag full of goodies. Much of it is homemade (pickled beets & eggs, body spray, soap, earrings, cookies, oatmeal bread, kids school pictures) but we did add some store bought wine & a magazine subscription (that is one of my favorite Christmas gifts, it is the gift that keeps giving all year long)

MM made a couple Tourtiere Pie's, one for us and the other for Mike & Bea. If your not familiar with them they consist of ground pork, potato and spices like nutmeg, sage, and thyme. It is a traditional pie that the French (& others I'm sure) make and eat around Thanksgiving and Christmas time. Even though both of us are of Canadian heritage it was our first time making them and they came out great. Actually MM gets the credit because I just added the spices. There are many variations of tourtiere pie and some strong opinions to go along with them. French have a reputation for fairly particular. When we make it again we will use ground pork only (we used half hamburg) and add a bit more potato.

Leah made the above yummy creations as seen at Henbogle and another blog which I cannot recall??? What we haven't given away, we've eaten. :0 Salt & sweet are a good combo. :)

Merry Christmas to ALL! HO! HO! HO!

(This is what you get when you tell your boy to go put some lotion on his face because his chin is chaffed from wrestling with his Dad)

Challenge link here for anyone that wants to join or peek around.

As requested, here is the recipe we used:

Rochelle’s Tourtière Pie
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried sage
1 small onion, chopped fine1 cup water
1 cup plain mashed potatoes, with no butter and no milk
Pastry for a 2-crust 9-inch pie
In a saucepan combine beef, pork, seasonings, onion, and water. Cover and simmer for two hours. Uncover and cook ten minutes. The mixture should be quite dry, and if it isn’t, then drain the excess liquid. Add the mashed potatoes.
Heat oven to 425° F. Put meat mixture in crust and then bake for about 30 minutes. (Foil wrapped around the edges of the pie crust helps prevent excessive browning.)

The recipe came from
Maine Food & Lifestyles website

Please take a moment and read the article that goes along with the "Toochay" pie recipe.
(That is really how we pronounce it. )

Thursday, December 18, 2008

It's the simple things in life that make you smile

A flock of wild turkeys in the back field

McCain in nice little packages.
My daughter's wish box from school.

I almost shed a tear.
I often remind the kids how lucky we are.

My boy's homemade birthday card to his best friend.

I asked him what he wanted to buy for him and he said, "snowpants, he doesn't have any and he will need some or he won't be able to play on the play ground." (Pretty thoughtful for an 8 year old) That is just what we bought him along with an animal book and matching winter hats (that was their favorite gift). We even baked him a cake and then we went skating.......

These picks are from 2 weeks ago when it was just the kids and I. One of my friends just happened to be there for a birthday party, she took a few shots of us. It was the first time the kids ever ice skated inside. For the last 2 years we have skated on the pond but it is not the same. I saw a big difference in their skating, especially Leah. The first time there she did not want to let go of my hand. Last Sunday she was skating with a chair and buzzing around the rink like a pro skater (minus the chair). She looked up at me and said, "ok Mom, you can go now." I said "what, like skate away from you". She said "yeah, let me skate alone". Little shit, 6 years old and she's shooing her Momma away. The teenage years should be INTERESTING!

I went skating often as a child. Skating was one of my fondest childhood memories. I went to both indoor arenas and an outdoor arena on "Sand Hill". (only the locals know where that is) When I was young it was purely for fun and play and as I got older it was to see the boys. :)
I remember longing to be a figure skater when I grew up. I guess it's a good thing I moved on to wanting to be a nurse because I am not that gracious.

On a final note. ALL my wrapping is DONE!!!!!!! Celebration....I locked myself in the wood stove room with beer and a radio last night. Now we have the weekend to bake, make crafts, listen to Christmas music and ENJOY!
Yeeeee HA, can you tell I am excited?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Prayers For Caitlin

Last week my co-workers 18 year old daughter/sister (her Dad & sister both work at the hospital) was in a terrible car accident sustaining burns over 60% of her body, mostly her legs and arms with fractures to her vertebrae.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Obama & McCain are Outta Here!

John & our neighbor did the deed. It was time for them to GO! As time went by they became more and more aggressive. So much that the kids were no longer allowed ANY WHERE'S near their pen. The last few feedings I had to pour some food on the ground away from the trough in order to prevent getting bit. We feed them 3 times daily & increased the size of there pen. Nothing helped, just in their blood I'd say. They came from the same litter.

We have 2 remaining pigs....Ham & Pumpkin. They are both mild mannered. Pumpkin is very timid and sweet. I will have a little more empathy when it comes time for her to meet her maker. We are considering breeding them but we need to do a little more research before we jump into something like that. It is amazing how much less food those 2 consume. This chore will no longer be dreaded.
Doesn't he look mean? Don't mind the crumbs. I was disturbing his dinner trying to get a few goodbye photos.

Check out those hams.

Thankfully, I was working when it all went down. I was told it was a quite a learning experience. John had read a butchering book and researched on-line but as he said "there is no substitute for experience." He skinned the first pig which turned out to be much more difficult than a deer which he is accustomed to butchering. It was a challenge to cut the thin hide from the warm loose and greasy fat. He scraped the second one which was no joy either. However, this method ensured the retention of the fatty tissue which makes up a large part of the bacon and adds moisture to the hams. Then down to the butcher shop they went to get the rest of it made into hams, chops, sausage, and bacon.

Quite an undertaking I'd say. That is one of the things I love most about MM. He is willing to tackle just about ANY task!.

"The only man who makes no mistakes is the man who never does anything"
~Theodore Roosevelt

Sunday Stills Challenge

Holiday lights are the theme for this weeks challenge hosted by Ed & Linda here.
Challenge it was! We usually do not put up outside lights so last minute Lizzy took a short ride to do a photo shoot as soon as the darkness set in. I felt like the paparazzi. I drove off from one house because they kept peeping out the window at me.
I took approximately 25 pictures and these are the best, scary. No worries I will not give up my nursing career to begin a photographer. I used my night mode and tripod to take these but there was still a to the photos. Any suggestions Ed?
Next week the challenge is is food.....I hope that will be a little easier.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wreath Making

Gather your supplies. Wire, wire cutters, brush cutters, and bases for the wreath. I have a bunch that I bought years ago that I reuse year after year. Much easier than making it on a metal clothes hanger. When we go tipping we cut the tips off the tree at about 6 inches.
Stack 4-5 and start wrapping with wire.
Then move down a bit, overlapping and wrap your next. Note that pink braclet I'm wearing, story behind it to follow in a future post.
Easy! Done in just a few minutes. Decorate to you liking. I keep it simple with just a bow but this year I added a few battery powered lights we had in our decoration box.
Looks better with the lights off but I had to use my night mode so you could see.
I have made wreaths for over 10 years. Every Christmas it was a tradition that I made my grandparents one along with a few other friends and relatives. They were always so grateful! After they died (still a tender topic for me even though it's been a few years) I only make a couple up. I guess I just lost my enthusiasm about them. I made one other wreath for the "horse people" as MM calls them in trade for several loads of manure John loaded onto the tractor a few weeks back.

I finally broke down and bought some vodka and made some vanilla extract. I wanted to start by making a small batch. I used 1/3 of a fifth of vodka, 2 vanilla beans (cut an half with seed scraped out and placed in jar in addition to beans). In 2 months it will be ready....another first.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Come On Maine Man

I did not plan on posting tonight, trying to catch up on others but I had to write this.

We are sitting up in bed, our nightly ritual.

Kids are sound asleep, house is QUIET.

MM is reading a book or a magazine.

I (CG) am on my lap top, writing out Christmas cards, organizing my to do list and calendar (always multitasking)

Some how ice cream gets mentioned. Yum....I start brainstorming.

CG: Well, we do have some vanilla ice cream out in the shed's freezer.

MM: Yeah.

CG: Why don't you go make us some sundaes?

MM: eye roll

CG: C'mon, it'll be good, I'm starving. Put some hot fudge (heat it), cool whip, lots, and some walnuts or almonds.

MM: okay

10 minutes later

my mouth drooling as I await our hot fudge sundaes

MM: Here you go!

CG: (disturbed look on my face) Are you kidding me? What happended to the hot fudge, cool whip??

MM: It's hot fudge, the ice cream is cold and the sauce is warmer.

CG: This is butterscotch (COLD) with bananas and cherries (ewww, I never did like banana splits) and walnuts, no cream

MM: Belly aching after eating two banana splits.

WHAT'S UP WITH THAT? Next time he asks for a coffee with cream and sugar he's getting tea with honey.

....Whining over!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sunday Still Challenge ~Week 1

This morning over at Nita's blog, Throwback at Trapper Creek I read about a photo challenge she is doing so I decided to tag along. It is hosted by Linda at Just Another Day On The Prairie
and she has made a special blog for this here. This Sunday's theme is pets. Since it is nearly impossible to keep Callie still for any amount I've time I choose to take a few shots of the two rascally kittens, Gretta & Cookie. This is exciting because I am always looking at ways to improve my photography. I have never taken a class because they always seem to be in the evenings and that just doesn't work for me. I've read through many books at the library and I just keep practicing but there is still lots of room for improvement. To date this year I have taken 1750 pictures. Practice makes perfect, right? Hee, hee or is that my mania kicking in again?

Next week's challenge is Christmas lights.

I will catch up on comments later this week. I am calling it a night!