Friday, November 30, 2012

Last two weeks in photos

Piper aka Kitty Whore hard at work

Wine club. Er, I mean book club.

I hosted book club this month and made my Aunt Mary's French Meat Pies. They were a hit! Photos and my recipe to come soon. This photo I took for my sister-in-law Colleen to say that we missed her. She definitely should have come to partake in the festivities. Apparently we were extra loud and giggly past midnight. Sorry for keeping you up, Jay!

JT's kahlua cake was a hit. Sue couldn't resist grabbing a spoon and digging in. 

Kneading dough is great therapy

For the second year, we attended the Pealiquor Road crew's Thanksgiving Feast. I baked 2 loaves of french bread and an Italian whole wheat peasant bread to share with our friends. I used a new recipe for the french bread that called for only bread flour instead of the combination of all-purpose and bread flour. It was wonderfully crusty with a moist and chewy interior. I'm going to bake some more this weekend to go with the farm fresh butter that I just picked up from Nice Farms Creamery

Go ahead and put all of your eggs in one basket. The chickens will make more.

We brought eggs to our gracious hosts. 

Basket full of persimmon joy.

After dinner everyone goes for a walk (okay, we waddle) out to the golf course and collect persimmons from two trees. This year was the biggest haul of persimmons ever... there were 15 "grown-ups", 6 kids (all boys) and 5 dogs. It was utter mayhem and such a great time. Surprisingly, no one was injured! The persimmons are baked into bread for friends and family at Christmas. 

... and the persimmons jumped right out of the basket! Did you see that??

I'm blowing this up so you can see Angela's crazy eyes. Thanks, Instagram!

We needed painting supplies to get our last bedroom finished. 

We didn't crack open anything until the painting was finished, which was probably a good idea. The primer that Jay bought did a terrible job covering the drywall. We had to go over the ceiling three times until it was covered. We weren't as worried about the walls, because Lowes gave me the paint + primer product that I didn't ask for. So instead of paying about $75 for paint, we ended up spending $120. Oh well. Yesterday Jay picked up the laminate flooring for the room and ordered a ceiling fan that was on sale. The last bedroom will likely be done this weekend. We're planning to move the futon from downstairs up to that room... just in time too, because my in-laws may be coming to stay with us for a little while. Long and sad story there, and that's about all I can say about it. My mother left our house yesterday morning after a two week on and off stint at a temp job in Denton. So we are basically running a flop house these days. It will be nice when we get some time to ourselves!

Winter is coming, just like the Starks said it would

It's getting colder around here... these weird little balls of snow/sleet appeared on Jay's truck earlier this week. It's been below freezing the last two nights... 27 degrees this morning. BRRRR! I'm getting over a cold that I came down with last weekend. Still feeling a little tired and stuffed up, but I'm hoping to be over it by next week. We're taking a little 4 day trip down to Florida for our anniversary. I was really hoping to get to Key West, but we're visiting Jay's grandma while we're down there and she is in the opposite direction (we're flying in to Fort Lauderdale and she lives in Winter Park, near Orlando). The last thing I want to do on a long weekend is drive 14 hours. As it stands now, we'll be driving for about 8 hours. Oh well, at least we will be able to drive with the windows DOWN! :)

Sure we cut our own tree

With all of the insanity in our lives this week, we thought that we could use a little Christmas cheer, so we picked up our Christmas Tree on Wednesday afternoon. It's a Fraser Fir... I hate those other trees with the pointy needles. I don't like to be stabbed while I'm decorating the tree.

Our tree is crazy full and barely cleared the ceiling, despite Mr. Webby's assertion that it was only 7' tall. It's pretty close to 8.5'... you can't tell so much in the photo, but it is out of control. I will post some photos after we decorate it this weekend. Dr. Tasty, Esq. aka Dr. Tasty, aka Mr. Tasty, aka Mr. Draco is thrilled to have his tree back. He will be spending the next month lounging on the tree skirt and snacking on ribbons. I expect to find lots of bedazzled poop in the litter box.

Kitty Whore is unimpressed.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tag is my new favorite game

Ten Eleven years ago (now almost twelve – yikes) when I was a receptionist at the now out-of-business Harms & Associates, I loved getting these time wasters forwarded to me. Sitting at the front desk for eight hours a day was rather boring. I lived for get-to-know-you emails. Let’s face it, I can be a little self-absorbed, so being asked to tell people all about myself is appealing. YES! Someone wants to know about me!! So, I was thrilled when Kelly at Miss MP tagged me in a post. It made me feel like I was cool again, which I am SO not.

Thanks, Kelly.

Here’s to being twenty-one again!

The Rules:
1. Every tagged person must tell 11 things about themselves
2. Answer the 11 questions that the person who tagged you asked.
3. Ask 11 questions for the 11 blogs that you are going to tag. (I’m breaking this one, since I don’t know 11 bloggers who weren’t tagged already)
4. Mention the blog that tagged you but don't tag back.

11 Things About Me

  1. I met my husband on eHarmony, but I don’t think that it necessarily works for everyone. We just got really, REALLY lucky. However, I do think that their formula works well, as long as both you and the person you’re matched with have been brutally honest in answering all of their questions. I think that their questionnaire draws strongly from the Meyers-Briggs model of personality typing. I’m an ENFP and my husband is an ENFJ.
  2. One of my biggest fears is having children. Although I’m terrified of the pain of childbirth, I’m more worried that my kids will end up with mental illness or some kind of addiction. These problems run in both mine and my husband’s families and it has made me think twice about having kids.
  3. I would rather spend money on vacation than anything else. I went through a phase in my twenties where I bought expensive clothes, make-up and purses (probably because I had a mall downstairs from where I worked), but fortunately realized the error of my ways. Now I’d rather geek out and visit Hobbiton in New Zealand. 
  4. I grew up without watching TV and could probably survive without it again. My dad read to me every night until I was too cool for it. After he stopped reading to me, I would often stay up until 1 or 2 a.m. with a flashlight under the covers, trying to get in another chapter of Nancy Drew.
  5. Although I grew up without TV, I love it now. Most of my favorite shows are on the SyFy Channel – I love Haven, Being Human, Alphas, Lost Girl, Total Blackout, Destination Truth, Ghost Hunters, and the Haunted Collector. However, I rarely know which night they’re on, since I DVR everything. Other shows that I watch are American Horror, Once Upon a Time, Modern Family, Raising Hope, and Person of Interest. I also love Chopped and Good Eats on the Food Network. Alton Brown has taught me more about cooking than pretty much anyone else.
  6. I love to watch trauma shows on Discovery Health and have watched brain surgery during breakfast meetings. However, when it comes to my own body, I am a total wuss. I have an auto-injector for when I get migraines, but that is about the best I can do without being squeamish. I had an ingrown toenail removed last week and was a huge baby about it. After the procedure was over, I realized that it wasn’t such a big deal, but if I’d had to schedule it later in the week, I probably wouldn’t have been able to go through with it.
  7. I hate talking on the phone. This probably stems from the few years I worked in call centers. I will hang out with you all day and talk your ear off if I’m in a social situation, but don’t call me on the phone. Text or email only, please!
  8. If I could wear jeans or sweatpants every day, I would. Once in a while I like dressing up, but I am happiest when I’m in my pajamas.
  9. One day I would like to write a memoir, but I feel like my writing skills have declined since college. This is one reason that I started this blog – to try to get back to where I was. I don’t want to be a best-selling author or anything, I want to write mainly for catharsis. The one time that I set pen to paper, I received a nasty letter from my mother demanding that I not do it, even if names and places were changed.
  10. I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up and change my mind constantly. I think that this stems from my ENFP personality type: ENFPs have an unusually broad range of skills and talents. They are good at most things which interest them. Project-oriented, they may go through several different careers during their lifetime. To onlookers, the ENFP may seem directionless and without purpose, but ENFPs are actually quite consistent, in that they have a strong sense of values which they live with throughout their lives. Everything that they do must be in line with their values. An ENFP needs to feel that they are living their lives as their true Self, walking in step with what they believe is right. They see meaning in everything, and are on a continuous quest to adapt their lives and values to achieve inner peace. They're constantly aware and somewhat fearful of losing touch with themselves. Since emotional excitement is usually an important part of the ENFP's life, and because they are focused on keeping "centered", the ENFP is usually an intense individual, with highly evolved values. So if anyone has any bright ideas about what I should be when I grow up, let me know.
  11. When I was younger, I couldn’t stand being alone for any amount of time. If I had nothing to do for an evening, I would go out and find something to do. Now, I love my nights or days alone. Although I love spending time with my husband and girlfriends, I need at least one night a week where I can veg out in front of the TV or curl up with a glass of wine and a good book. 

Questions Kelly Asked

         1. If you could only DVR one show, what would it be?

Ooh, this is a tough one. I think I would have to say Being Human. It has all of the things that a good show should have – humor, sex, drama, and violence.

2. What is your favorite movie and book?

Favorite movie – any movie in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I am SO excited for the Hobbit! Favorite book… I can’t pick just one. I loved The Hunger Games, The Glass Castle, A High Wind in Jamaica, and Me Talk Pretty One Day. I also love the Dresden Files (so excited that Cold Days is coming out next week!!) and the Game of Thrones Series. There are a lot more that I’ve enjoyed, but I suppose that I can’t list them all.

3. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Australia and New Zealand – which I am planning to visit in May, hurray! Although I would really love to travel just about anywhere except for countries where women don’t have any rights.

4. Christian Grey, Edward Cullen, or Mr. Darcy? Defend your answer ;-).

First of all, I refuse to read the Fifty Shades of Grey books. I've heard that they really aren't all that smutty and there is better literary porn out there. Secondly, vampires are not supposed to glitter and as a former goth who loved Anne Rice, I freaking HATE Twilight. Thirdly, I had to look up Mr. Darcy to find out who he even was.

 That said, nomnomnom Sam Witwer as Aidan in Being Human.

This is my defense:

Do I really need to say anything more? ;0)

5. Rice pudding or tapioca?

Mmmm tapioca wins hands down.

6. Congrats, you just won the lottery, big time. What are the first three things you do?

First, I would call my friend TK who is a CPA and certified financial planner. Secondly, I would take a week off of work to go on vacation with my hubby & friends so that we could make important decisions. Lastly, I would buy a large piece of land so that my friends and I can start the commune that we’ve talked about building for years.

7. What's your favorite holiday recipe? Bonus points for sharing.

Ooh this is a tough one. I love the French Meat Pie that I just made, but that isn’t necessarily a holiday thing – it should be enjoyed throughout the winter. I still haven’t posted my version of the recipe, but it’s pretty much the same as my aunt’s recipe. My favorite Thanksgiving & Christmas recipe is twice-baked sweet potatoes. Bake sweet potatoes & slice lengthwise after they’ve cooled a bit. Scoop them out leaving about a quarter inch of flesh left and put the guts into a bowl. Add butter, half & half, brown sugar, salt, pepper & pumpkin pie spices and blend or mash together. Scoop mixture back into sweet potatoes. Top with chopped pecans and mini marshmallows and bake until marshmallows are melted. Yummy!

8. If people knew you outside the blogosphere, whats one thing that might surprise them about you?

That I love to sing and belt out showtunes when I'm home alone. 

9. What's one of your guilty pleasures?

A pumpkin & vanilla latte from Rise Up Coffee with a cinnamon scone, while listening to catchy pop music.

10. If you could have any dream job, what would it be?

Being a professional actor or a crew or cast member on Ghost Hunters or Destination Truth.  I wouldn’t need to be a household name, but I’d like to be able to make a livable income. I would also be happy to travel the world and blog about my experiences.

11. What are you looking forward to the most in 2013?

My trip to Australia and New Zealand!! I’ve wanted to go for so many years, and I’ve also never taken such a long time off from work in my working life. I have been working since I was 14 and taking so many days off in a row has never been a reality for me. 

My Questions For Those I Tagged:

  1. You’re being exiled to a deserted island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and can only bring 5 items with you. What do you bring?
  2. What is the most important item in your kitchen?
  3. What is your favorite adult beverage?
  4. Congratulations, you’ve just been offered to star in your own reality TV series… what are you going to call it?
  5. What is the most crazy/exciting/awesome thing you’ve ever done? (i.e. skydiving, swimming with sharks, playing poker)?
  6. What kind of crazy/exciting/awesome thing would you like to do if you had the opportunity and had no fear of death?
  7. Where is your favorite vacation spot and why do you love it?
  8. What is your favorite genre of book & do you have a favorite series?
  9. Do you have any geeky interests or activities? Please share them!
  10. Who is the most surprising artist (or what song) that can be found in your music collection?
  11. Do you or your friends/family indulge in any fun/weird/quirky holiday tradition or food?

I am tagging (no pressure to complete if you don’t feel like it!)

Jim Butcher at Jim’s Livejournal  (hey, can’t hurt to ask, right?)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Drywall - just pay a professional

The drywall is complete in our last bedroom!

The company owner dropped by on Sunday to give us an estimate and said that they could probably start on Tuesday and be done by the weekend. They ended up starting on Monday and finished on Tuesday. If we had done it ourselves, it would've saved us probably $700. However, we wouldn't have done such a nice job and it probably would've taken us two weeks. Now we can realistically be finished this room in the next week or two.

Now all that's left to do is paint, install flooring, and install some wood in the closets (we didn't get them to drywall in there). I can't believe that our house is almost done.

Friday, November 9, 2012

I really am a crazy chicken lady

Sixteen hours before I wrote this post, I received an email from My Pet Chicken with this subject line:

2013 chick reservations are open: quick, reserve yours now!

So... I did!

I have 15 babies arriving from them at the end of March. I wish that I could have picked an earlier hatch date, but oh well. The girls that I'm getting this time are mostly heritage breed chickens, unlike the Red and Black Stars that I bought last year from a local person and Tractor Supply. 

I really loved the black, white & grey theme that my cousin has going on with her chickens, so with this selection, eight of my girls will have that coloring (although 3 of them will be black, the remainder will be black and white). 

My dear friend Angela will be happy to know that in this batch of chickens, we will have some that look like they are wearing feather pants - I've ordered two silver laced cochins.

From what I read, they aren't particularly good layers, but they are sweet tempered and good mamas. Not to mention they are just so pretty! If they go broody, I will just have them hatch out some peeps.

I'll continue down the list:

Rare Marans Collection - ordered three

These girls lay the most beautiful brown eggs... if they are crossed with Araucanas, the offspring will often lay an olive green egg. I may have to get an Araucana rooster at some point to make this happen. 
Anyway, with this selection, I can get a variety of different rare Marans... not sure which ones I'll get, but I'm sure they'll be great birds.

So excited to finally get a few Easter Eggers! These are the chickens that lay funky colored eggs. I'm getting three of them.

I've ordered 2 silver laced Wyandottes. I saw some at the DE state fair this year and they are sooo pretty. Their feathers look like dragon scales.

I needed a bit more color... this is a Golden Laced Wyandotte, just ordered one of them.
This beauty is an Ancona, which is one of the types that my cousin has. They're supposed to be great foragers and their feathers are neat. Ordered two of these.

Last but not least, I ordered three Australorps. One of my old bosses swore that they were the best chickens he ever owned. And apparently, he'd owned a lot of chickens. 

So... this brings us up to 25 chickens now - and I'd like to hatch out a few Mouse/Ginger or Mouse/Mab crosses to see what a black or red star & silkie mix looks like. :)

Jay is planning to build a shop/shed/man cave with a larger attached coop. The plan is to move our current flock out to the new coop and keep the new girls in the old coop until they're big enough to be integrated.

There are still no plans for this weekend, although I wouldn't mind checking out the Waterfowl Festival at some point.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Aunt Mary's / Great-Great-Grandma Plant's French Meat Pie

I am so incredibly excited to make this recipe! My Aunt Mary made it for me several years ago and I've been after her to get me the recipe ever since.

I'm planning to make it this weekend to try it out, then again for book club next Friday.

Here is some family history on this pie, which I found incredibly interesting:

Great Grandma Plant's French meat pie has potatoes, onions and pork sausage and of course spices. I never make it the same way twice, but will be happy to send along the recipe. I use either Gwaltney or Jimmy Dean, but whatever you like is fine. Nancy uses turkey sausage, but I have never tried that. Mom used to bake the pies about 20 minutes before freezing them. Aunt Marge taught me to put the cooked filling in the crusts and freeze them without baking them. That is what I do now too. Aunt Lorraine used the sausage mix as stuffing for turkey. It seems everyone does their own thing. I rarely make fewer than six at a time. It is wonderful to have them on hand for breakfast, lunch, supper and hostess gifts. Believe it or not, Grandma Grande made the pies and used her attic to store them. It was / is cold in Minnesota, but I sure would not trust that. I often wondered how she froze things because her ice box freezer only held about 2 trays of cubes and maybe a small steak. Now you have a little family history to talk about over the pies.

Love it! I'm pretty sure that I could have stored those pies in our house just a few years ago. There were days that you could see your breath inside. So happy all of that is over. :)

On to her recipe... once I make it, I will post my version.

The recipe for about 3 9" pies is as follows: 1 and 1/2 pounds lean pork sausage, 1 large chopped onion simmered with the pork for about 15 minutes, 6 medium potatoes or a little more, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp cloves, 1 tsp sage, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp savory or poultry seasoning. Break up sausage in a frying pan and brown with the onion. Add the spices and chopped potatoes (my mother used to grind them, but I julienned or chop them in about 1/2 in chunks.) At this point you can cover the pan and cook everything together until the potatoes are done, but an easier way is to put the whole shabang into a roasting pan and bake it covered untill the potatoes are done, stirring once in awhile. You will probably need to add a cup of water to keep it from sticking before starting the baking process and more as you go if you note sticking. Bake at about 350 degrees. It takes about an hour. While the filling is baking set up your pie pans. I use Pillsbury ready mades, but your favorite will be fine. When the filling is done, let it cool a tad so it is easier to work with. Then divide it among the prepared pie shells, put on the top layer and flute. Let the pies cool at room temp unless you are serving them right away. If you are serving them right away, prick the top crusts, and bake them at 400 degrees until the crusts begin to get to the degree of done you want. It will pobably take about 30 minutes, but watch the edges. If you are going to freeze them, prick the crusts, and after they are cooled, cover each tightly with Saran wrap and then a sheet of foil. Place in freezer and they will keep a year or longer. To reheat, place in 400 degree oven for about and hour (cover the edges so they do not burn. Enjoy. 

This weekend I'll be making pie crusts and taking a trip to Cedar Run for their delicious sausage and whatever else I can get my hands on. I'm planning to make my own pie crusts with a combination of butter and rendered duck fat, we'll see how it goes. I'm hoping that the duck fat in the fridge is still good from the last time I cooked duck. If not, I found a place in Easton that sells it.

Looking forward to a tasty weekend! :)

Where I've been

Yes, it's been a while!  So sorry.

First it was a busy work week, followed by my whirlwind weekend in NYC making the world a better place for women and girls, then I rushed home to batten down the hatches in time for Frankenstorm Sandy. We weathered the storm well except for a leaking light fixture in the upstairs bathroom, the chickens weren't too happy (coop design causes water to leak in through the back wall, but they were dry as long as they stayed on their perches), lost power for a little over a day, got to stay home from work for two days (hurray!), worked a little at home during the two days, then tried to jam 5 days of work into 3... and then it was time to celebrate my darling husband's birthday.

We celebrated last weekend with an awesome buffet dinner at Suicide Bridge Restaurant on Friday night, where I stuffed myself sick. On Saturday, we were invited to tailgate with our friend Jared's father-in-law (that would be the fabulous Laura's dad) at Punkin Chunkin. It was my first time, which is funny since I've lived on the shore for most of my life and we had a great day. At least, until  this loser  decided to decorate me with mud -

I can only imagine it's because he was jealous of my DCFD jacket. Short version of the story:  Laura's dad had a small fire going for warmth and cooking, about 3 logs that were about 4" in diameter and 2.5 feet long. The fire was going all day, no problem... until about 5pm, when someone pulled up on a golf cart and said that we had to put it out since it was free-burning. Okay, whatever, we'll try. Then they said that if we couldn't put it out then they'd get the FD to extinguish it. We (along with some others who had stopped by to get warm)  put water on it, threw dirt, and stomped on it. The fire was just smoking at this point, no flame at all.

Well then Bridgeville VFD came over with a brush truck to put out what remained of our fire. Sure, fine. Then aforementioned loser stretches the line and starts putting water on the "fire." No big deal at first, just putting a little water on since it was pretty much out. THEN, he starts blasting the coals and throwing mud everywhere. Then people started saying things like, "SERIOUSLY?? What is WRONG with you!?" Probably some other choice words as well. Now mind you, I was standing a good 10-15 feet back from this fire and I got covered in mud - my face, jacket, everything. The next morning I found mud in my ear. The guy never said, "Hey, stand back" or anything. We of course asked his name, to which he replied, "Brian F*cking Willey, remember it!!" Oh, we remembered. I still haven't composed a thoughtful letter to Bridgeville VFD, but I shall.

Sunday (4th) was Jay's actual birthday. We'd planned to lay low, watch football and make some tasty meals, but our friends took us out to lunch at the Jetty to celebrate. I spent a good hour fixing the special birthday dinner, but neither of us was all that hungry because of the late lunch. Bummer, because it was pretty good.

I'm hoping to be a homebody for this upcoming weekend. No big plans and hoping that it stays that way!

As a sidebar, we've decided to hire someone to install the drywall in the final bedroom. It'll cost a lot more, but it will look better and we won't have to worry about it. We just want it to be done so that we can refinance the house and start on the FUN projects... deck, shed/workshop (complete with new chicken coop and Jay's mancave), a new privacy fence, patio with outdoor fireplace. I can't wait to do all of the fun stuff and actually begin decorating our home.