Friday, December 27, 2013

2014 Projects and Goals

Yesterday, Mark and I put together a list of the projects and goals that we have for 2014. We put them on two separate posters to hang in the house and check off as we go...but thought we'd share them here as well. As you can see, we have a VERY busy year ahead of us. I don't know that we'll be able to check off each one of these, but we can sure try!

Visit Lehmans and Chittenango (if possible)
Fix the pipes under the kitchen sink
Clean out the cellar
Remove all unused wires (phone etc.)
Assess the knob and tube wiring situation
Weather proof/caulk etc.
Build food storage shelving
Doors/knobs and latches
Lock on back door
New keys/keyrings for everyone
Attic – access, usable space?
Have chimney inspected – wood stove options
Install wood stove???
Little bedroom upstairs – sewing/craft room and teacher prep area
All bedrooms need curtains (make?)
Remove all wallpaper
Paint/decorate – room by room, as we can
Gut our closet
Redo all wood floors
Downstairs bath
-New flooring (pennies?)
-New cabinet(s)
-Paint and d├ęcor
Upstairs bath
-Refinish tub
-Rehang curtain
-Remove wallpaper
-Tile (wall and maybe floor)
-Storage options
-Litter/cat food
-Towel racks (hooks/shelves)
-Heat source
-Toilet seat
Fix banister/upstairs half wall
Mount potato cutter
Coat hooks
Hang candlelier/Lighting options
Build seed starter area
Parlor (remove closet, once sewing room is complete)
Little Buddy hose/tank
-Pasture hay rack(s)
-Finish siding
-Make 4 doors (two loft, two main)
-Clean out pasture
-Redo pen doors
-Redo hay racks
-Lighting/lantern hooks
-Always have plenty of hay in loft
-Paint (pressure wash?)
-Clean out/hose down inside
-“est…” sign for pasture side
-Food shelter/deck
-Order new seeds
-Build tomato cages
-Build a few arches/creative ways to stake
-Fix strawberry garden
-Redo containers
-Stake smaller plants/bushes
-Retainer walls?
-Bee garden (Cora)
-Shed for mowers/lawn tools?
-Cut remaining pines
-Cut back brush
-Clean up flower gardens
-Finish parking area (clear brush/lay rock)
-Retain blackcaps
-Plant trees in Narnia (buy maples???)
-Harvest pecans – plant new pecan tree
Clean grill
Fix rider mowing
New tires for mower cart
Fix/sharpen blades for all mowers
Buy another pitch fork
Turn all compost bins, before barn clean out.
Clean gutters
Snake drain under driveway (options?)
Fill dirt around septic
Fix sewer drain pipes
Repaint/fix front deck
Display bench for front porch
Close off/weatherproof dining room door.
Survey land?
Tap maples
Make dish detergent
Bird sanctuary area – see through birdhouse
Deck – at least get estimate
Fence – at least get estimate
Clean garage and Carport (siding on carport??)
Light in garage attic/shelving and bench
Fix garage door opener
Purchase extra propane (options?)
-Shearing equipment/class
--Hives, bees, observation hive
-Order more layers and meat birds
-Donkey (just kidding)
-Castrate sheep (not kidding)
-Vet checks and meds
-Minerals – PVC pipe feeders
-Chicken Tractor and turkey pen

Whew - now that's a list! I can't wait until this time next year to see what we've been able to complete.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Just in time for Christmas

Oh boy! I'm going to be in trouble if I don't write a post soon, so I figured I would sit myself down at this WAY TOO EARLY hour of 6 AM and write.

I’m just so thankful for our Thanksgiving success. I find this day a bit stressful, just because there are so many pieces of the puzzle that have to come together, perfectly, to be a success. I ended the day feeling extremely proud. Proud of where we have been in life and how that has morphed us into who we are now. Proud of the food that we served, which is getting more and more local each year. Not just local, but homegrown. Imagine a day where nearly all the meal is grown here. Yum.

We started the morning with two turkeys to cook, along with all of the other dishes that were our responsibility (we share the responsibility and ask that everyone attending bring a dish). We started one early and were amazed at how quickly and beautifully the birds cooked. We were able to get them both cooked and rested before everyone arrived. We made sweet potatoes/candied yams, using real sweet potatoes, our own honey and local maple syrup. We whipped up some deviled eggs, using eggs from our beautiful birds, even though their laying has significantly dropped off, for the winter. We saved up a dozen and shared them with our family and friends. The coleslaw was not grown here, but hopefully next year(?) – we did, however, shred the cabbage and carrots and made the sauce. The fruit salad was all canned (boo), but it was pineapple, cherries and mandarin oranges, so unless we change up the salad, I don’t think there will be any way around this one. Oh, and the stuffed dates – delicious! A childhood memory that I just love. We take dried dates and stuff them with various cream cheeses. One plain, one with nuts, and the other with maraschino cherries. SO SO good! Next came the desserts apple, pumpkin, key lime and pecan pies, cherry crisp and my cousin, Rhett, brought banana pudding (using my Nana’s recipe). I look forward to the year that we will be using our own apples for the apple pie, but this year we had to settle on growing just the pumpkin and pecans. Something that I changed up this year, instead of using Crisco for the pie crust, we used local, organic lard, from a local Mennonite farmer. WHAT A DIFFERENCE that made. Seriously! I’ve never had my pie crust roll out so beautifully. It glided across the surface. I know I sound like a crust geek, but seriously! It was awesome! I will never go back to Crisco. Plus…who doesn’t like the hint of bacon smell when you are baking pies?! The pecan pie, was probably the best pecan pie I’ve ever eaten. Those pies were delicious and I am so proud. But I couldn’t have done any of this, without my team of helpers. Mark, Cora, Drake and even Gage were so helpful that day. They helped me keep my sanity, rolled up their sleeves to wash, cut, clean out, whatever I asked. Thankful. Yet another thing to be thankful for – after a heart attack and a pacemaker installation, my dad joined us for Thanksgiving dinner. He’s healthy and looking good. It was a wonderful day of laughing and enjoying the company. It was such a successful day.

Beautiful, homegrown pie pumpkins.

We went ahead and cooked all the pumpkins and made puree out of all of them. We are ready to make several more pies.

That's a lot of pumpkin!

My girl, Cora. She was so helpful that day! She made the decorations on the wall, behind her shoulder and she kept me on task with making the food...and she's cute!

Mark's favorite job of peeling, coring and slicing the apples for the apple pie. After the kids had their fill, the remaining peels went out to the birds. They thought it was a Thanksgiving miracle!

Yams in the crockpot, in the back, and date stuffing in the bowls in the front!

Look at that bird! GORGEOUS!

A little salt, pepper, butter on the outside and onion and celery on the inside...that's all these birds really needed, so tender and juicy on their own. Totally worth raising them!

Seriously look at that crust! Mmm mmm MMM!

Pumpkin and pecan pies - so so good!

Family sitting around the table...Have I mentioned how much I love my dining room? I love that we can have this many people for a sit down meal and be comfortable.

The dessert table!
I'm so happy about that day. It was a good feeling to look around the table and see the food, family and friends. It was good.I look forward to hosting next year as well.
We do Christmas breakfast and dinner at our house too - but since my brother also hosts a Christmas event, we have fewer people attending. We've found it's just too hard for us to do too much running around on Christmas...and we have a very awesome Christmas Eve tradition that I look so forward to each year. More on that in a bit.
With the holidays come so many other exciting things - kids concerts, Mark's room decor, Christmas lights and more. Here is just a glimpse at some of the reasons that I haven't posted in so long...
We redecorated Mark's bulletin board at school. We went with the winter wonderland theme, to reflect the craziness that is outside right now. Isn't the "fireplace" cute?

Have I mentioned that I'm hot for teacher??? Look at that handsome man!
Oh! On a side note, with all of the cold weather that we've been having (single digits!), our house is SO cold. We've been trying to come up with creative ways to stay warm. We actually found this beautiful wood door, in the attic of the garage. It was made for this spot, a doorway between our living and dining rooms. What makes this nice is that it cuts down on the drafts. We close all the doors in the living room (to the parlor, to our room and both doors leading to the dining room) and it traps some of our body heat in here. It's not perfect, but certainly better than last year!

While Mark's was in the attic, he found these old shutters - how neat are these!?

This is how I go to bed most nights! Not very glamorous, but certainly warmer than without the toasty warm hat :-) What you can't see is the electric blanket, under the comforter. WARM!

Here's me and Cora at Drake's holiday concert! See, I told you she is cute.

Drake had a holiday concert - Look how grown up he is, handsome. We are so proud that he has stuck with flute for this long.

Our tree is decorated for Christmas! Here's me and Mark :-)

Last year, we went with a real tree and between that and strep throat, I was miserable with allergies. So this year, we decided to go back to our "fake" tree. It's really beautiful though. I love going through the ornaments each year and remembering why we have them, who they were for, who we received them from etc.

Told you it's a winter wonderland around here. This is the field behind the house, Each branch and blade is covered with ice. COLD!

Cold, but beautiful! I love seasons, I really do...but the single digits have to go!

Each year, we do this. It's a drive through Christmas light display. It is so nice. We turn on Christmas music and drive through, looking at the lights and scenes. If you weren't in the spirit of Christmas before driving through, you would be after!
It looks like some exciting things are on the horizon for us. I'll post more about this in the future, once I have more details. But let me just say that our future looks bright.