Archive | November, 2011

Being Content

29 Nov

We can always be better.

Always be richer, more popular, smarter, more skinny, more successful.

I feel like I am always waiting for the next step.  If _____ happens then I will really be living.  Or when _____ changes then I will be happier or things will just make sense then.

But I need to realize now, that I need to stop pining for the future and be content in the now that is going on all around me.

I need to appreciate, my kids, appreciate my husband, appreciate my life.  I want to be content in today and not be looking into what the future holds.

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“Wherever you are, be all there.” ~Elizabeth Elliot

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Doggie Scarf

28 Nov

Some friends from college, J and E, came up to visit us a while ago.  They brought with them their well-behaved and quite precious Bernese Mountain dog.  Her name is Olive and the girls fell in love with her.  She is a huge dog weighing about 75 pounds and is still a puppy. Since she is so large people always think she is a boy dog.

To wipe away any confusion and to make her a bit more feminine- I showed E how to sew Olive a scarf.  I don’t think E had ever sewed before but was a natural and sewed her dog a scarf that fit perfectly.  It took about 5 minutes but looked really incredible on her.

By the end of the weekend Sophia was calling J, mommy- she loved Olive and sure liked J too!

An easy couple minute sewing activity to spruce up your favorite dog.

The Big Meal

26 Nov

This is the first year of our lives that we hosted and prepared Thanksgiving dinner.

Up until this year, the Thanksgiving meal has just magically appeared before our eyes and we gratefully ate.

This year was quite different because we had to plan ahead, shop ahead.  We had to google how to cook a turkey and how to use a nesco.  We had to call up random family and friends and ask for their amazing recipes we remembered from past Thanksgivings.

We didn’t eat until about 3pm and the whole day I was a bit antsy.  Aleah and I made the cranberry sauce the day before and we cut both sweet and russet potatoes Thanksgiving morning.  We were as prepared as we could be and there was nothing else we could start without getting done way too soon.

Turkey:  There is something very daunting about cooking an 18 pound turkey.  We had never cooked a turkey before and we were quite nervous.  We have done 2 or 3 pound whole chickens on the grill before but that was all our  experience with this sort of thing.  An 18 lb turkey is such a big commintment and we did not want to mess it up.

The gravy.  Gravy has a special place in my heart.  Growing up we would always host Christmas.  We did a huge turkey meal and had a lot of relatives stay with us.  My great grandma would be in charge of the gravy.  She made the most delicious gravy on the face of the planet.  And that is in no way a hyberbole.  It would be a golden brown soup of wonderful deliciousness.  I would have drank it from a cup if that was culturally acceptable.

Anyways, I took it upon myself to tackle this sacred part of the meal.  I called my grandma who has taken over the gravy role since my great grandma passed  away a few years ago at age 103.  She gave me the run down and made it sound very very easy.  I will be honest with myself and my gravy skills:  I was not completely happy with how my gravy turned out.  It was too salty and didn’t taste exactly right, a bit burned perhaps- but it was my first go of it.  Maybe by the time I am 103 I will get the hang of it.

Our menu included: turkey, gravy, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, rolls, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, orange and carrot jello, cranberry sauce and broccoli cheesy rice casserole.  Oh man, just writing those things makes  me want to have Thanksgiving dinner all over again.  Good thing there are leftovers, eh?

After all our work, it made me glad that I have a blog to show off our meal. =)

All in all our first Thanksgiving dinner behind the scenes was a huge success.  We were very amazed that it all worked out.  Hope you all had a fabulous Thanksgiving.

Happiest Thanksgiving

24 Nov

This is what we will be eating today:

We picked out our turkey at a local farm earlier this month.  Should be pretty good and it is nice that we know where it came from.

Hope everyone is having a fabulous day.  Make sure you eat until you can’t imagine eating another morsel, you enjoy this time with family/friends and you share what you are thankful for.

I am so blessed.

I am thankful for:

-my family

-my friends

-my beautiful house

-always enough food to eat

-this blog

-people kind enough to read my blog

-a great job

-health

-hobbies and activities

just to name a few

hope you all have a wonderful day.

 What are you thankful for?

Sweater Overalls

22 Nov

I have been making A LOT of sweater pants lately and needed to switch things up a tiny bit.

I made some sweater overalls.

The one problem with these pants is they were made with a wool sweater.  It would have been great if we were going outside to play for a while.  But Aleah thought the pair was way too itchy.  Sorry babe.

Grouse Story Part 2

21 Nov

With all that fresh grouse just laying around we decided to make some dinner.

I dipped the meat into and egg, milk, pepper and salt mixture- then into some flour.  I had some oil warming on our cast iron pan and browned each side of the grouse.  Then put the whole pan into the oven to cook throughout and served it with garlic wild rice.

are you sure this is okay Dad?

hmmm, I am not so sure about this

well, okay. I guess I'll give it a try

This was one tasty meal.

All gone!

Grouse Story

19 Nov

Neither Caitlyn nor I have a hunting license, and we’re actually young enough that it’s required we obtain a firearm safety permit before we can even buy licenses, so our first fall in the Northland we’ve had to forego the time-honored and culturally-revered tradition of hunting.

Sure, there’s a sense that we’re missing out on something.  When every weekend the ditches and side-roads are lined with trucks and four-wheelers, and hunting shacks are full of men and women adorned in blaze-orange with a rifle in one hand and a case of Miller-Light in the other, we can’t help but think, “hmmm…people must get a kick out of this whole hunting thing.”  And every time we’ve passed a grouse crossing the gravel road or a deer grazing in the neighbor’s field we’ve said, “I wonder if that thing knows it’s going to get shot soon.”

Just the other morning we were munching on breakfast when I noticed a sizeable bird alight in the branches of the large crabapple tree in our backyard.  I ran to see what it was, and to my surprise there was a grouse teetering across the bare arms of the tree, nibbling on crabapples.  We watched it for a while and Caitlyn snapped a few pictures, and that was it.  It flew away after a few moments and that was all we thought of it.

The next morning as Caitlyn and Aleah walked into the kitchen early in the day, they heard what seemed like a football slamming into the tall windows facing the lake.  Caitlyn came back to the room heralding the news of the grouse’s unfortunate confusion between our unfriendly windows and the friendly branches of the crabapple tree.  (And yes, grouse are considered a less-than-intelligent bird.)  She asked me to walk outside and see if there was any chance of reviving it, so of course I obliged…in my underwear and slippers.

The grouse was feasting on voluptuous, juicy crabapples in bird heaven by the time I got to it, and so I left it on the deck and said I’d take care of it when I came home for lunch.

It didn’t take me long to find a 60 second “How To” video on YouTube for gutting and cleaning a grouse as I sat in my office that morning, so I returned home for lunch with a plan.

This story is about to take a slightly more graphic tone as I share my first experience with cleaning a game-bird, so if at this point you think it would be in your best interest to simply reflect on my previous comments about bird heaven, by all means, stop reading.  For everyone else, let’s move on.

On my drive from the office back home for lunch I made a conscious decision not to wear gloves to clean the grouse.  The guy in the video was doing it with his bare hands, and I wanted the real experience, the real feel of feathers and bones and muscle.

My first task, to put it gently, was to separate the bird’s head from the rest of its body.  This was, in fact, the part I was most apprehensive about.  It seemed so savage, and well, uncivilized, but I figured if I could do this in one swift act of barbarism then the rest of the cleaning would seem rather mild.  I picked up the grouse, head in one hand and body in the other, and I yanked hard and effectively.  The grouse now lay in two pieces…one with eyes and one with wings.

My next task was the most amusing.  Apparently, to gut a grouse one only needs to lay it on its back, open its wings, step one foot firmly on each wing, and then grab it by the feet and pull it upward, evenly and firmly.  Remaining in the snow then was each wing (firmly beneath my boots), and the grouse’s breast.  I should also mention at this point that when I gutted the grouse, a number of freshly gobbled crabapples came spilling out into the snow.  It was a lot like cleaning a fish that still has minnows and worms in its tummy.

My last task was to simply break each wing away from the main torso and then pull away any remaining feathers.  After doing so, I was left with the wonderful breast meat of a northland grouse.  I took the meat inside, separated it from the bones and washed it, and then set it in the fridge for dinner.

We don’t celebrate the fact that a beautiful wild game bird crashed into our window and lost its life; in fact, we have window clings on our windows to keep this sort of thing from happening.  But it happened, and it prompted us to learn a little more about the creatures we share this land with and the goodness they can provide.  I like grouse.  I like the hollow rhythm they create as they drum their wings deep in the woods, I like their markings and the way they can disguise themselves in the forest, and I like the way they taste.