Tuesday, December 31, 2013

In which I bore you with my boring life.

  It's the last day of 2013. I was going to write a nice long "year in review" post, but I don't have the time: there's a mountain of dishes to do, I have to take Katrina to Kohls to exchange a gift, and I have a LMS gig tonight. So, here's a review of what has happened since my last post
  • We got a new hamster. His/her name is Sherlock/Shirley the Transgender Teleporting Hamster. The little guy/gal is not terribly tame, so we've not been able to tell if it's a he or a she. He/she's terribly cute and moves at lightning speed, so no photos. Here's a stock photo of this type of hamster though:

He/she's a Robo Hamster

  •  At work, we worked tirelessly to launch a new website, and it's actually working! Orders are trickling in. Yes, it's an odd combination, but we combined the two stores onto one website - shopthehouse.com - kitchen supplies along with toys and games. Give the site a visit (it's still not 100% done, but we're getting there) and do some ordering! Chances are pretty good I'll be the one packing the order.
  • It snowed.
  • It snowed again.
  • The cat is sick - I'm worried.
  • Christmas was good.
  • My birthday didn't exist because we spent it with Karl's family. But my Facebook friends made up for that with all their birthday wishes - Thanks!
  • It's snotsicle cold right now
  • I'm still not sure what day it is and whether or not I'm supposed to be going to work. It will take a while to get out of the "holiday rush" mindset.
And, that's about the extent of it. Wow, so boring. Sorry.

Happy New Year.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

An Ode to Vincenzo

  A two year old dwarf hamster is an elderly hamster. Their average lifespan is 2 - 2½ years. Our dwarf hamster, Mr Nibbles is 2¼ years old. He's not looking so good lately. After being in the veterinary field for so long, I can appreciate having to make that difficult decision to end a pet's suffering. I am lucky that my family can also appreciate and understand that. 

  Mr Nibbles was named that because the first time we picked him up, he just nibbled our fingers a little, just to check us out. His first name of Vincenzo was added later. He's always been very friendly, and we've enjoyed his antics. Plus, he's just so damn cute!

We'll miss you Mr Nibbles. You've been a good hamster.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Playing Chicken

  I spent most of my Tuesday fretting over a chicken. Not just any chicken, mind you. A special chicken, close to my heart. 

  It seems as though Miss Pickles has her timing off a bit, and has decided to molt now, as the temperatures start to dip below freezing. It's like a feather pillow exploded in the coop - feathers everywhere! The weather on Tuesday was more like late November in Wisconsin: cloudy, windy, and below freezing all day. The poor girl was cold and I was worried. 

  My first response was feed her warm food. She loves oatmeal with some dried mealworms on top! Well, this whole "I'm half naked and cold" had her stressed, and she didn't want to eat anything. My next idea, as a knitter, was a sweater! She needs a sweater! As luck would have it, I had finished one chicken sweater last winter. That went over like a lead balloon. Have you ever seen a chicken walk backward? Her tiny little chicken brain told her that was the way out of the sweater so that's what she did. It stayed on, and she was miserable. She looked fabulous though!

yes, that's snow behind her. See why I was worried?
  The only other solution was to bring her inside and let her warm up. But I needed some sort of containment for her. I didn't want a loose chicken in the house. So off to work I went to grab some boxes before the recycling truck took them away. Luckily for me, the alley behind the store was blocked by the roofers fixing the drugstore's roof, and the recycling truck never made it down the alley.( Unluckily for me, I'd have to drag all those boxes of cardboard back into the store the next day). With several large "emergency chicken housing" boxes procured, I sped home and set up shop in the office.
  Pickles was confused for a while, and just stood exactly where I put her down. It made me sad, so I sat with her in my lap. THAT was what she needed! She settled down on my lap, got warmed up, and was back to her old self after an hour or so.  She even had a little snack.

  By then, it was late afternoon and getting colder. Oh man, do I take her back outside for the night? Do I wait until morning? AARRGGHH! So frustrating and worrisome.

  I decided to put her back out in the coop for the night. I felt better when her sisters let her up on the perch between them, and they snuggled up for the night.

  It really was an all day affair. Very stressful for me. And the indoor coop is still set up, just in case.

Edited to add: I just read this again, and I realized what a crazy person I have become!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Hey There, Hi There, Ho There!

  I know my Ravelry buddies do, but does everyone else know what to do with this box at the bottom of every post?

  As the red arrow indicates, it's a place for you to comment on the post without writing a comment. Click the box next to your reaction. Did you think it was a hilarious post? Did you learn something new? Let me know!

Anyway, I've sifted through my ten's of photos from my trip - mainly photos of "the view from..." because I'm not creative. Here are a few of my favorites: (click the individual photo to embiggen)

My ocean view - low tide 
Lunch at Bob's Clam Hut
Now THAT's some big knitting!

Yes, that's a solid block of Maple Sugar. I didn't buy it :-(
A lovely fall display at the Stonewall Kitchen store
Teddy models the blanket Zoolander style!
Airport dinner of champions - Munchkins and egg sandwich!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

I Have Returned

  I am, sadly, home from vacation. I had a GREAT trip. Now I'm diving headlong into the craziness that is "getting the store ready for the Christmas shopping season" - aka I actually have stuff to do every day when I get to work.

  It's going to take a while to sift through my photos, but I can show you that I did dip my toes into the ocean,

And it was cold!
and I did, in fact, ride a bicycle

  I also ate a heap of fried seafood, found a yarn shop, did some shopping, and did a lot of relaxing.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Warm and Cozy

  I've been stewing on a blog post lately, not sure if I should keep it under wraps a few more weeks, or if I should shout it from the mountaintops. Nothing earth-shattering, but something I really proud of. I think I need to do a little shouting.

  You all should know by now that in a couple of weeks, I'm going to ride in the Krempels King of the Road Challenge. Even though I have no personal association with the Krempels Center, it is an organization I am happy to support. Not just because my favorite cyclist supports it, but I have really been moved by what they do there. I nagged you asked for your support, and you gave it. But I'm still short of what I raised last year. (there's still time - here's the link!) Because the Krempels Center provides their programs free of charge, every dollar raised is important to keeping their programming at a high level.

  With this in mind, keep reading.

  Last spring, my knitting group (who are also fans of pro cycling fans) decided to do something in support of one of our favorite cyclists, who happens to have a personal connection to the Krempels Center. We decided to make a blanket to give to the Center, so they can raise money by raffling it off. Knitted squares started arriving at my house in August. By September, it was laid out (even Karl helped with the layout, so it would look just right), and all I had to do was put the squares together. Wow, it came together quickly and easily, and I am very proud to show you our work.

Those of you that supported me may get emails or newsletters from the Krempels Center in the future. I don't know when the blanket will raffled, so keep an eye out, and buy some tickets! This is a really nice afghan. I want it for myself. I know I'll buy some raffle tickets!

Next year's blanket is already in the planning stages.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Autumnal Activities

  The weather is cooling off, and we are transitioning in to fall activities around here:

  Karl went "Up North" and competed in the Chequamagon Fat Tire Festival, along with a couple thousand of his best friends. His goal was to make it to the start line, which he did. He also made it to the finish line! Although he lost a good chunk of time because of a flat tire. I explained to him that the race is called the FAT tire fest, not the FLAT tire fest. He realized his mistake too late.
Thumbs up dude!
This past weekend we went to the first Cyclocross race of the season - the inaugural Trek Cyclocross Collective Cup. It's the only race in the area that the Pros race. Karl and I volunteered as results runners - the cushiest job available! You can see Karl's photo set here. It was a beautiful day to be outside in the sun. I neglected my sunscreen, however, and got quite a very unflattering sunburn on my face. New fashionable sunglasses and hair pulled back = raccoon face!

  It's full-on harvest time at the CSA and I've been working hard. I'm going to miss my mornings at the farm when the season is done.

  I am going to be totally honest. There is no possible way I'm going to fulfill my promise of riding a mile for every dollar over my fundraising goal for the King of the Road Challenge. I'm doing my best, but both my co-workers are going on vacation in October, so I'll be working a lot more than usual. There just isn't enough daylight for me to ride after work. Don't worry though, I am fully trained and ready for the after party! (Pizza, burritos, schmoozing. I am all over that!)

But hey - there's still time to donate!
Follow this link to my fundraising page!

  Other fall activities include eating apples, baking, and wearing wool. Last night I was knitting on a blanket, it's getting big enough to cover my lap - nice and cozy! My legs got cold pretty quick when I put it away for the night.

Friday, September 6, 2013

All Aboard!

  I'm going for a ride on the crazy train. Want to join me?

  On Tuesday (Sept 3) I decided that I needed a sweater to wear with my LMS 1940's dress. We have a couple of hangar dances coming up. The thing about a hangar dance is that it's actually held in an airplane hangar. The last hangar dance we did (in July), it was unseasonably chilly, and it was about 60° F when we started playing. The dancers stayed warm, but I was freezing! (and I had my snuggies on!) So a sweater would have been nice. 

  I spent a couple of hours choosing a pattern. Then I went and bought the yarn. Then I changed my mind about the yarn, so I turned around, went back to the store and exchanged it. When I got home, I changed my mind about the pattern, and I chose a different one. Then I started knitting. By the end of Wednesday, the sleeves were done. 

  Thursday is "work at the CSA" day. We pulled weeds all morning, and my fingers were killing me. No knitting on Thursday. No big deal, you think? Um, well, I hate to tell you but, our next hangar dance is on Sept 21. Yes, I am certifiably crazy.

The next 16 days are not going to be pretty. (but that sweater will be!)

Friday, August 23, 2013

Is that all you got?

 Really? Only 100 miles? (Thanks Nancy, Pam, Other Becky, and Jayne!) 100 miles in 2 months is nothing! That's only 16 miles a week. I know you all can do better than that.

  Even Karl is helping, by making it fun to ride. Look what he got for my bike:
 So start digging under the couch cushions and raid the kid's piggy banks - it's for a great cause!

In other news: I got a new e-reader, I judged a bake-off, Karl is still unwell, I bought some yummy sock yarn, and I'm going to make some pickles next week.

Sunday, August 11, 2013


 It is 70 days until the Krempels King of the Road Challenge - where I will get on a bike with a couple hundred other cyclists (who are in WAY better shape than I) and pedal around New Hampshire to raise money for the Krempels Center. I plan on riding 30 miles because, after all, it is still a vacation for me, not a "suffer-fest," and I'd like to be able to move the next day.

 And at this point, merely 2 months before the ride, I have ridden my bike for a total of 8 blocks (I rode to the hardware store yesterday, so it was really 2 chunks of 4 blocks with a stop in the middle). That's not going to do it.

 Let's face it, training hard kind of sucks. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love to ride my bike. I'd give anything to go out and ride for 3 hours any day. But real life has this annoying way of intervening and reminding me of all the stuff that should get done first: dishes, vacuuming, laundry, cooking, grocery shopping, etc. I need some motivation (and a cleaning lady, but that's another story). Real, hard-core motivation.

Money is a great motivator, isn't it? 

I'll make you a deal. 
I set my fundraising goal at $500. For every dollar over that goal, I will ride one mile of training.
Tap in to your masochist side and get out your wallet.
Make me suffer. 
Make me sweat. 
Make me curse your generosity.

I'm even going to make it easy. Here is the link that takes you directly to my fundraising page. It's easy and secure. DO IT!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Photo Essay

It's been busy around Chez Baumeister. Since my last post:
 Karl went to a mountain bike race and won a race!
He got a medal AND Lyme Disease!
 I knit a tiny sweater.
So friggin' cute!

We went to the State Fair.
I ate a grilled cheese sandwich
Katrina helped the racing ducks carbo-load

And she got an awesome duck whistle
Then I ate a Thanksgiving waffle
Katrina did a little archery
We enjoyed an evening concert
Weird Al sings "Bye, bye, this here Annakin guy"
Yes, we saw Weird Al. Live. At the Wisconsin State Fair. And it was awesome. Don't judge me.

Then we went to a bike race.
I ate some of Jeremy's chocolate
Got autographs from my favorite boys in green
Karl made a new friend  - "Hey, there's Bob Roll!"
They roll out
And my boys in green get the win!

It was a good day.
So, that's what I've been up to. How about you?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Am I Blue?

  I've had the blues this week.

  As in blueberries. The fruit truck made a trip to Stoughton on Wednesday, so I indulged. I skipped the half-bushel of peaches (it was really hard!) because I still have some freezer from last year. Twenty-five pounds of peaches lasts quite a while in a family of 3. I only got blueberries. Ten pounds of them! I tasted a few right away, and, hmmm. Not. Very. Sweet. Bummer. I put them in the freezer right away, to be ready for later use.
  Today was deemed "jam day" so I cooked up some blueberry-lime jam. It's amazing what 6 cups of sugar will do for sour blueberries. The jam turned out great! So, many of you can expect some tasty jam for Christmas this year. I was on a blueberry roll, so I made a pie too, which is currently cooling. I wish it would hurry up.

And the best part? I still have about 6 pounds left in the freezer.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

It's that time again!

 Last October, I participated in the Krempels King of the Road Challenge in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. This event raised $84,000 for the Krempels Center, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of people who live with brain injury. The Center offers programs that engage members in meaningful and productive experiences and provides ongoing support and resources to those impacted by brain injury. In addition, the organization’s community outreach initiative provides education to the public about brain injury and brain injury prevention. Most Krempels Center services are provided free of charge.

  While in New Hampshire, I was invited to the “morning meeting” at the Center, and all I can say is “Wow!” I was immediately made to feel welcome, and I was so impressed by the variety and quality of the programs offered on just that one day (every day offers a different set of programs), I knew I wanted to support this organization whenever possible.

  So, in 3 short months, I’ll be making a trip back to Portsmouth to ride in the 2013 King of the Road Challenge. I do need your help because I have set my fundraising goal at $500, but I’d love surpass that goal just like I did last year.

  Donating online is simple, safe, and speedy! Follow this link to my personal fundraising page and make your donation.

    If you’d like to donate the “old fashioned” way, you can send a check, made out to the Krempels Center; to me at my home address. (deadline for checks is September 15) .All donations are tax deductible. (I will mail  receipts for donations I receive; online donations receive an electronic receipt)
Thank you so much for your support, and please feel free to forward this along to anyone you think may want to support this wonderful organization.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Fireworks and stuff

  I guess it's a good thing there was a communication error and the band is not playing on the 4th of July this year. I'll be at my usual Thursday morning location - at the CSA farm, pulling weeds. (The veggies don't take holidays, neither do the farmers.) The turkey chicks were supposed to come this week, so there will be a little fun playing with them. I've claimed the right to name some. I already have names chosen: Roasty, Sandwich, Tetrazzini, Pot Pie, etc. I'm looking forward to my first taste of pastured, organic, fresh turkey. There are supposed to be some piglets coming too, but that might be a little longer. I have names for them too: Ribby, Hammy, Choppy, BBQ, etc. Yum!

Obligatory chick picture:
I know this isn't a turkey, it's Pickles when she was a baby. But she's just so darn cute!

Monday, June 24, 2013

I'm a MAMA!

It is with great pride that I announce that Ladies Must Swing swept our awards!

Best Jazz Performer AND Best Jazz Album!

Thanks to everyone who voted for us (at my request). And if you didn't vote, what's wrong with you? Don't you like me? Oh, and thank you to everyone who voted for Butt Funnel, they made it to the final round, so the announcer had to say "Butt Funnel" on stage.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Break? You don't get a break!

  Shouldn't adults be allowed to have a summer break too? I mean, we have to deal with our kids 24-7 when they're off school. It's only a week in to Katrina's summer break, and she's already driving me insane. Thankfully, summer classes started today, so I have a couple hours of peace. But I can't enjoy her being out of the house when I'm so busy. I think I have a total of 4 days in the month of June where I don't have to be somewhere, and two of those days have already passed. I know the extra jobs are paying for my fall vacation, but whew! I'm exhausted.

  I did have a free day yesterday, so I took a drive to Mom & Dad's to celebrate Father's Day (Karl celebrated Father's Day by riding his bike there, so I could drive him home). I made Dad a pie for his Father's Day gift, but he was nice and shared it with us. We played a little Bocce Ball, ate some hot dogs, and did a little driving. Katrina drove the tractor and I got to drive Heidi the VW Beetle. I much prefer driving Heidi than Axel the Model A. Axel has way too many things to remember - choke, spark, hand signals... Heidi is no problem (well, once I figured out where reverse was).

  So it's back to the grind today: dishes, vacuuming, and LMS in the evening. I hope the rain stays away.

Monday, June 3, 2013


Karl put our photos from our trip onto his Flickr photostream. Feel free to browse through!

Friday, May 31, 2013

That Post Vacation Glow

We've returned from what I'm calling "The Best Vacation Ever" - back to real life. Work, work again, work at another job, volunteer, etc...

But here's a few photos from said vacation.

Rock City on Lookout Mountain

Katrina still loves her Mommy!

We're in a cave! 

Our hotel was fancy. And also schmancy.

Oh yeah, a bike race. Go Ted!!

Friday, May 10, 2013

I made it!

 I made it through my work marathon of flowers, Giggles, and Ladies. Now, the countdown of the weekends begins!

This weekend - a wedding in exotic Minneapolis. One of my many, many cousins is finally getting married. I have no idea how many family members will be there, but we're going to have a good time.

Next weekend - Stoughton's Syttende Mai Festival. A weekend filled with fun: Percy Gyland and his musical saw, Krumkakke, hot dogs wrapped in lefse, bunads, all capped off with a big-ass parade.

The weekend after that - V A C A T I O N!!! Seven fun-filled days in Chattanooga, TN. Some planned activities include spelunking in Raccoon Cave, touring the Tennessee Aquarium, touring a Civil War battlefield (actually, Karl and Katrina are doing that and I'm staying behind and knitting all day), and oh yeah, a bike race!

I'll try to fill you in on all the fun as the weekends go by.

Saturday, May 4, 2013


It's one of those insane weeks when I'm working 2 jobs, a little LMS gig thrown in the middle, trying out some new contacts, Pickles is broody, and Katrina is driving me crazy!

This is my fifth day in a row (out of 11) of working at either the store or doing flowers. Actually working at the store is almost like a day off, so it's not too bad. That hard part is tonight when I have to go right to Madison to play for a dance, then get up early tomorrow and go do flowers all day. I'm hoping we finish a little early with flowers, then I'll actually have a day off next week before we take a little road trip to Minneapolis over the weekend. 

Time to fly!!

Monday, April 15, 2013

I want my Mama!

  You are probably aware that I am a member of a band. I may have mentioned that Ladies Must Swing has a new CD available, and that I actually play on the CD. And even though I am playing on that CD, it's a really good CD and people seem to like it.
This is our actual CD jacket!!

People like it so much, that we have been nominated for two awards! The Madison Area Music Association (MAMA) Awards are open for public voting, so if you like me at all, please go to immediately to www.themamas.org and click on the **VOTE** tab. Yes, you have to register in order to vote, but don't be afraid, you won't get spammed, and you can opt out of receiving emails. And yes, you have to pay $5 to vote (yes, they take paypal), but that money goes to the Madison school music programs - a very worthy cause! 
  The list of categories is on the left: first click on Jazz Performer, select LadiesMustSwing and submit; then scroll down to Jazz Album, select "Just For A Thrill" - LadiesMustSwing and submit. You can vote in all the categories, but just be sure to vote for Ladies Must Swing!  And just for fun, you should go to the Unique category and vote for the band "Butt Funnel", because I would really love to hear the presenter have to say "Butt Funnel" at the awards ceremony!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

In Search of...

  Lately, I've been in search of a lot of things: the perfect frosting recipe, my US 2 circular knitting needles, Spring, just to name a few.  I just found out about the impending arrival of a baby, and it needs a blanket from me. So it was not unusual that I was online searching for the perfect knitting pattern. You may remember that I am slightly indecisive when it comes to knitting patterns. Luckily, I have two favorite baby blanket patterns. But I still have to choose from those two, right? So, I polled my trusty Facebook friends. (Thanks to those who responded!) And the winner? Neither of those two patterns.

  Wait, what?   You heard it right, neither of those two. A knitting friend put a bug in my ear about a super-secret group project idea. So, as I was searching through the extensive Ravelry database of patterns, I came across a blanket pattern that I fell in love with. I may not love knitting it, but I hope I do because the finished product is stunning. I hope the book comes soon, I'm itching to get started.

  So what else is new, you ask? Um... nothing. The snow is slowly melting. I'm in the middle of the "icebox cookie" section of the cookies, and I have not had much success with them - hard, dry dough makes hard, dry cookies. I'm hoping to finish them up soon and move on to the Spritz cookies. I've fallen off my diet wagon mainly due to cold weather (cold salad just does not warm me up!). We finally got better cable to go with our new fancy TV, and I'm actually finding myself watching some TV at night. And, today, I'm going to City Hall with my fence plan to get our permit for the new back yard fence. The landscape plan is done, so I'll just need the ground to thaw so we can get started on our new chicken-friendly back yard.

Obligatory flower picture - not my back yard

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Just One More, Please?

  I haven't even had the job interview yet, but I've already planned out how I'm going to spend my paycheck! 

  Yes, today I have an interview for a summer job. I told my (current) boss about it, to reassure her that I was definitely NOT planning on leaving. And her reply: "Another job to add to your list." Yes, I guess I do have a bit of a list: one regular job at Giggles, one "when they need extra help" flower job, and one moonlighting with LMS job. Add to that: one summer volunteer position at the CSA and (hopefully) one more regular summer part time job. It looks like I'm going to have a busy summer!

  Today's interview is at a local greenhouse - the one that I shop regularly in the spring for my vegetable plants. I'm hoping for a position at one of the "satellite" greenhouses that they set up, the one that is just a few blocks from my house. And since I spent much of yesterday working on the landscape plan for our "new" back yard, I hope the employee discount is substantial.

  Yes, I'm going to be doing some major work in our yard this summer (oh, yet another job!) putting in a fence for the chickens, then hiding said fence with plants and bushes (a Currant bush in the corner - Yummy!). And since I'll be taking some plants out of the front garden (it's too shady for them there), I'll have to replace them with something. So, some work in the front yard as well. Our original plan in the front isn't working very well, there's a lot more shade than the designer anticipated. I've slowly been replacing things and moving  them around. I'm sure the drought last year killed off a few things too. So, needless to say, I've got quite a list of plants to buy.

  So, on this first full day of spring, the temperature outside is definitely un-springy: high of 17°F, a couple of feet of snow still on the ground. So I'm wrapped in a blanket in front of the computer, looking at pictures of flowers, dreaming of warm summer days.

Edited to add: Interview done. It doesn't look promising since I can only work one weekend in May.

Sunday, March 17, 2013


  What a great weekend I had!

  It started on Friday, when I went to Ray's Indoor Mountain Bike Park for Women's Day. It was kinda scary. I think I prefer riding on a trail in the woods. That way, I can't see what's around the corner, and I don't worry about getting over it. I'm not sure if I picked up any new skills, and I certainly didn't conquer any fears. But I had fun and missed rush hour traffic on the way home.

  On Saturday it was Katrina's Middle School Solo & Ensemble "festival." Since the kids are still beginners, they don't have a full-blown contest, but they are judged. Katrina did a solo and a trio with her cello. She played very well, and the judge was impressed with both the solo and the trio. I think they'll get the results on Monday. After she performed, I spent the afternoon mucking out the chicken coop - chopping up and removing the ice, then shoveling out all the wet bedding. I got it all cleaned out and left it to dry/freeze overnight. We capped off the day with a fun dinner at our favorite Chinese restaurant, stopped at Menards (Yay!) for a few things, then settled in and watched Skyfall. 

  It's been a while since I've seen a new Bond film. I honestly think the last one I saw starred Timothy Dalton as 007. I've been slowly introducing Katrina to some of my favorite movies, with Goldfinger and Dr. No in the last two weeks. So, she was ready for more Bond. We all loved it.

  This morning, the coop was sufficiently dry/frozen, so HOORAY! The girls got to stay in their house. A nice fluffy bed of wood chips and they were some happy hens. Karl and I cleaned out the garage, but we're keeping everything handy for the upcoming spring thaw - whenever that decides to happen. There's still a six inch thick bed of ice in the back yard, and that's going to take a while to go away.

  Everything is back to "normal" here: Sunday night game night had us all laughing so hard that all three of us were in tears, Karl played the piano while Katrina accompanied him on the slide whistle, and we were having way too much fun to do the dishes.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Fighting Back

  Today I decided to fight back. I am already weary of wading back and forth to the chicken coop. It froze overnight so I was like an arctic icebreaker making a path through the sea ice.

  I made some calls, rented a pump, wrassled some frozen garden hose, and now the water is slowly but surely receding.

I'm particularly proud of myself for this engineering feat.

  Most of the extension cord is buried under the ice, snow, and water. I had just enough slack from the coop end to reach the low spot. Notice the sled/boat keeping the plug out of the water. Also notice all the footprints through the ice. Not an easy task. 

As previously mentioned, the chickens are in a makeshift "enclosure" in the garage. Only Pickles doesn't know she's supposed to stay enclosed.

  I'm getting very impatient for spring. I'm making my landscape plans for our new "chicken fence," gardening catalogs keep arriving with pretty pictures of flowers and vegetables.

I've got a massive case of Spring Fever!

  It's so bad, in fact, that yesterday, I signed up to be a part-time farmer. I put my name in for a work share in a CSA. This means I'll be working 4 hours every week at a small farm, and I'll be paid with a weekly box of fresh vegetables. I cannot wait! This is a new farm for us. Our last CSA provided a lot of  variety. So much in fact, that we had never even heard of many of the vegetables, and ended up not really liking most of them. We threw away a lot of stuff. At least this year, the chickens will eat up a lot of our left-over veggies.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Slightly Damp

  It's been a very stressful day.

  This weather is really kicking my ass. Let's see... five days ago we got about eight inches of snow. Then it warmed up and started to melt. Yesterday, it started to rain. It rained all night. On top of the snow. My back yard looks like this:

My chickens cannot swim.

The chickens are camping out in the garage. They're not thrilled with the arrangement.

  I had to throw together a makeshift enclosure for them, so there's a hodgepodge of plywood pieces held up by sheer luck. Thankfully, Karl is a hoarder, and we still have the gigantic box our TV came in. That's one whole wall! They finally calmed down this afternoon. But until then, there was a lot of  squawking, chasing, and flapping. I could tell they were nervous. I spent a fair amount of time with them in the garage today.

  But three little chickens can't keep themselves warm in the big garage overnight. So, I've just toted them all back inside their little (elevated) house for the night. I waded through about six inch deep ice water to get them home. I hope they appreciate it.

  And tomorrow morning, I'll have to do it all over again. Oh, and did I mention that the rain will be changing over to snow any time now?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

By Request

  I had a request from a lovely young lady who procrastinates doing her homework by reading my blog. 
So, this one's for you, Caitlin!

  I know it's been a while since I posted. I really haven't been doing anything blog-worthy. I finished out drop cookies with Molasses Jumbles and  Jubilee Jumbles. I am not fond of Jumbles of any sort. I gave many of them away. I started on Bar cookies with Lemonade Prune Bars and Teen Time Chocolate Nut Bars. I ate all the Lemonade Prune Bars. They were very tasty. And now Karl has started a weight loss program which includes, (among other things) no white carbohydrates. So no sugar, no baked goods (even whole wheat), no fun. Too bad for him because next up is Lemon Bars.

  I joined my LMS bandmates in Arlington Heights, IL for a show at the Metropolis Theater. One of my friends, a fellow musician, came to see us. He was the toddler in the audience because I think he and his wife were the only ones under 80 in the audience! The show ended just in time for rush hour traffic, so with a heavy heart, I had to skip dinner at Portillos. I was really looking forward to it too!

  Back at the homestead, the chickens are not enjoying the wintry weather. But the increasing daylight is not only lifting my spirits, but Barbara's as well. This past weekend, we got three eggs in one day! Now all my girls are grown up. So grown up, in fact that Pickles has decided that it's time to start her family, she's gone "broody."

  A chicken's brain is not very sophisticated. They are wired to lay eggs, then hatch those eggs into chicks. It doesn't matter if there's not a rooster around. It also doesn't matter if they're actually sitting on eggs. Pickles has been sitting on an empty nest for three days. It doesn't seem to bother her when I reach under to collect the other girl's eggs. I hope she snaps out of it soon. It's cold and she should be snuggling with her sisters at night instead of by herself in her nest box. Plus, she stops laying eggs while she's broody. I had to buy eggs!

  So that's really all the news. I'm sorry it's not more, Cait. You know, you and your sister really need to come visit us and meet Sally and the girls. You could stay at my Mom & Dad's. I'm sure they wouldn't mind. Maybe over spring break??

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Oh Look! A New Blog Post!

  I have been remiss in blogging about all the cookies I've been baking. It's because I'm busy baking cookies! In the last week, I've baked four batches of cookies: Chocolate Drops, Brown Sugar Drops, Pineapple Drops, and Oatmeal Drops. Drops is a predominant word, and I'm getting tired of these super-simple, novice-level cookies. They're not necessarily bland, but they're certainly not exciting. Oatmeal raisin cookies are my favorite, so I actually baked the full recipe on these yesterday. I got about 7 dozen. Most of them are gone, but I did send a bag of them home with my parents, who came for a visit.
  In non-baking news, the weather has turned bitterly cold for a while. I drove Katrina to school today because it was -5° and she has to walk about a mile. I also promised to pick her up after school. I hope I remember. The chickens are faring well despite the cold. They love their hot breakfast of oatmeal with bugs, and continue to reward me with eggs almost every day. I'm checking on them every few hours in this cold, so they expect a treat every time I go out. It's a great way to get rid of leftovers!

  I signed up for a women's only mountain bike clinic in March. I'm excited about that. I really enjoy mountain biking, I just need the skills to challenge myself a little more. Then maybe I can get a better bike to use those skills. (hopefully!)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Orange Drops

  Today's recipe was # 2, Orange Drops. Definitely a "meh" recipe. I keep biting in to one, expecting more flavor, but all I get are bits of orange zest in my teeth. It's probably for the better, since I single-handedly ate at least three dozen of Monday's batch. (Doesn't really fit in with the weight loss plan!)

In other news, I have a very busy weekend coming up - Friday night cycling fan geek-out, Saturday work then Girl Scout event, then Sunday bike race spectating.

See ya' on the flip side!

Monday, January 7, 2013

It Begins

  I've been baking cookies since I was a kid so I'm no slouch when it comes to baking.So it makes sense that my New Year's Resolution is to bake every recipe in my Betty Crocker Cookie Book. I used my Mom's copy when I was a kid, copied my favorites from it when I moved out, and was thrilled when I got a copy for Christmas a few years ago (a reprint of the 1961 edition). There are so many recipes I've always wanted to try, but just never did - like those twisted candy canes or the painted gingham dog and calico cat. So here I go. I'm starting with the first recipe, and going through in order.
It's like a teeny-tiny ice cream scoop!

Betty starts you out easy - drop cookies.  These are the kind of cookies I love to make - quick and easy! They're why I bought a cookie scoop.

 So the first recipe is applesauce cookies. They're cakey with a bit of spice. At first I thought they were bland, but a few hours later, the flavor developed a bit, now I can't stop eating them. That scoop makes the perfect "pop a whole one in your mouth" sized cookie. I had to put them away and put the can of chicken cereal on top of them so I won't take one every time I walk by!

I have a feeling I'm going to be giving away a lot of cookies this year. If you're in the neighborhood, drop by and I'll send you home with a couple dozen!