Friday, December 28, 2007

Merry Christmas - You Have a Mouse in Your House

I trust each of you had a very Merry Christmas, Hanukkah, or what ever holiday you celebrate this time of year. We celebrate Christmas on the homestead and we spent it with my family about 600 miles away from here. It was a wonderful time with family and we shared a lot of laughs and good times.

We got back to the homestead Wednesday night and found a note from our pet sitter that basically said "The cats were fine. Merry Christmas. You have a mouse in your house." Well, great. You may recall that we've done battle with mice in the past, but I was certain that after we sealed every nook and cranny that a mouse could possibly use to gain access inside, in addition to having the cats in the house now, that little issue was taken care of.

I called the pet sitter to get some mouse details. She said she was visiting and heard a noise in the bathroom, so she and Elvis went to investigate. When she pulled back the shower curtain, she saw the mouse. After chasing it around the bathroom trying to capture it in a plastic dixie cup, it ran past her into my office. Elvis, being the complete slug that he is, sat and watched the whole thing, and even moved out of it's way as the mouse ran past him. Priscilla hid in the bedroom. Worthless cats.

One of the first things I did when I learned of the mouse was check our beautiful cheese that we put up to age. No mouse meddling there. Whew. We've seen no sign of the mouse since we've been home, but we're on high alert. Anyone know of a Mouser 101 school I can ship these worthless cats off to?

I've been busy as a bee making soap. I hope to have a pretty good inventory when I go live with my website to sell it. Last night I made a heavenly smelling Raspberry Lilac. By the end of this weekend, I should have about eight different types of soap curing - something for everyone!

As 2007 winds down, we look forward to what 2008 will bring us here on the homestead. I hope it doesn't involve snow, ice, or mice.

Bee Free,

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Our Christmas Trees

With no children in our house, the fact that we travel to my parent's at Christmas, and with two cats that are obsessed with anything that dangles, we no longer put up a Christmas Tree. But it seems Mother Nature provided us with several this year, complete with icicles:

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The first couple of picture were taken just at daybreak. Very pretty and it's especially easy to appreciate because it's only on the higher branches, which means the ground is only wet. And we didn't get it as bad as they called for. I hope it stays that way.

It looks like we only lost one tree in the yard. If you look very closely in these pictures, you may be able to see a downed tree in these pictures. It's up at the tree line to the right of the big tree in the middle of the first picture - and to the left in the second picture. We haven't been down the driveway yet, so I'm not sure if there are any down across the road yet. The next couple of days will be interesting when the high winds get here. We typically lose a few trees when the ground is wet and then high winds come in.

This morning we'll enjoy the view of decorated trees that Mother Nature has provided. I sure hope she doesn't get angry and pummel us with a mess.

Bee Free,

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Run Down

I tried writing in this blog for the past two nights, and just couldn't seem to get my thoughts together or my heart into it. Well, there's nothing better than watching The Rock to get your old ticker humming again - and tonight we watched him in "The Run Down". Great movie. Lots of action, humor, character, and ...well... The Rock!!! Without tyring to get all movie critic on you, I'll just say this movie is basically about a man who does what he has to do to win back his freedom and persue his dreams, without compromising his character and integrity. But when it comes right down to it, a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. It's a great movie for a lot of different reasons. Did I mention The Rock stars in it? Wow.

Other than the trip to the dump, I think it's been three weeks since I left the homestead. Well, I finally took the plunge today and headed into town to get my hair colored. I also brought two dozen of my Smelly Jelly room fresheners in to the shop to sell them. And sell them they did. Before I even left, half were gone! Woo hoo! I made up another couple dozen when I got home for Bernie to take them this week.

Bernie hurt his back some how. I suspect it was either from that huge oak he grounded, chopped, and split - or from dragging around and hanging those mega huge deer Eddie gave us. At any rate, his feeble attempt to hide it last weekend did not escape me and I nagged him into taking it a little easier this week. He took care of a lot of things around the house that didn't involve him acting like Hercules and using his back, and I'm proud to report his back seems to be much better now. He informs me he'll be ready to tackle all the work outside next week. Which is good. He's happier when he's out and about - and that translates into me being happier. So it's a win/win situation.

I've been a soap making fool the past week. I made a batch of unscented bar soap for Bernie that I cleverly named "Nekkid Bernie". Hey - cut me some slack. What I lack for in clever labels, I make up for in wonderful soap. I also made a batch of "Macaroon" soap, which is a blend of chocolate and coconut fragrance oils. Tomorrow I'm making "Mango Papaya" soap - using shea butter and mango butter. I have a few others planned for this week and that means within about a month they should all be cured and I can finally put up a webpage with bath products. This Christmas season has kept me busy keeping the shops in stock, but I'm excited to get the webpage going so those of you that have asked to order it online can finally do that.

By the way - you do know the difference between "naked" and "nekkid" don't you? Naked is when you don't have any clothes on. Nekkid is when you don't have any clothes on, and you're up to no good.....

We're cold, but safe and happy on the homestead. There's a winter storm brewing and indications are that we may get iced in tonight. I ain't complaining.

Bee Free,

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Count Down Until Christmas

Well, it's getting close to Christmas and that means it's time for our annual 600 mile holiday pilgrimage to my parent's home - and that means the time is getting short to get all the Christmas gifts together. I've outdone myself this year. I AM FINISHED! Really, I am. And this year each and every gift is home made. Every stinkin' one of them.

We've established just how much I enjoy the whole obligatory gift giving tradition, but since I've started giving home made gifts, I find it's a lot less hateful, and I even find myself in a good mood over it. At least with a home made gift, chances are slim I'll find it in my sister's garage, where she stages everything that is headed out to Good Will and where I've found many of my previous Christmas gifts to her. She may throw it away, but I'll never know about it.

I still have some home made butter to make for my mother, but I dont' want to do that until right before we go. I want it to be as fresh as possible. And don't worry - I didn't spoil the surprise by typing this on my blog. My mother is about the only person I know that doesn't read my blog. If that doesn't tell you how bad I suck at blogging, I don't know what does. My own mother. Geesh.

Hey, we finally waxed our cheddar cheese and put it up to age. Feast your eyes on this gorgeous hunk of red heaven:

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We've been busy cutting up a couple of deer that a friend gave us. I don't know where he shot these deer, but they were freaking enormous! We got the largest backstrap we have ever seen out of the buck. That's gonna be some good eating.

My Dear John just had some surgery on his wrist yesterday, so he hasn't been able to email me today about how much I stink at blogging. I thought it might be a pleasant surprise for him to get two whole blog entries from me within just a couple of days of each other. Plus it might keep him busy for five minutes or so to give his poor wife a break.

That's it for now from the homestead. Oh - and by the way, I am keeping my vow to step outside at least once a day. It is, however, going on two weeks since I left this place or have gone any further than the mailbox. Bernie's making noise about forcing me to ride with him to the dump tomorrow. I think he worries people will think he must have killed me and buried me in the middle of this 65 acres. Not that he cares what people think - he just doesn't want them snooping around the property.

Bee Free,

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Snow - Do I Really Have to be Included in This?

I think I've mentioned before that I'm not a cold weather person. I really just don't care for cold weather. Not only do I really dislike bundling up in clothing, cold weather is.... well... cold. Not a big fan of cold.

But it's cold on the homestead today. And it's snowing. Snow is really pretty if you are on the inside looking out. But I don't like actually being in the snow. Not only is it wet, it's.... well.... cold.

Everyone in this house handled this snowy day differently. Elvis handled it like this:

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Priscilla handled it like this:

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And Bernie handled it like this:

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Bernie's always showing all of us up by gathering firewood and stuff.

And I handled it by taking pictures in the house and out the windows. The truth is, I did actually venture out. In keeping with my vow to make it outside at least one time a day during this winter, I decided to get all brave and stuff and wander down to the mailbox to check the mail.

Our mailbox is at the bottom of our driveway - which is about 1/4 of a mile. It's ordinarily a nice walk, so I decided I would bundle up and head on down there. All by myself. I was in a pretty good mood as I put on my snow boots. By the time I got them laced up, I was starting to get a little annoyed. The are bulky and cumbersome, and as I tried to put my snow suit on over top of the boots, my mood was deteriorating. By the time that ordeal was over, I was starting to sweat and get pretty irritated. I finally managed to cram my hands in my gloves and get the stinkin' top of them over my sleeves. As I put my hat on, it got hung up on my pony tail. I squished it on and loudly announced "Well THIS is fun!!" as I stormed out the door.

As I walked along in the winter wonderland, looking at beauty of our woods covered in a white blanket, and listening to snow gently hitting the tree limbs as it floated to the ground, I couldn't help but wonder why the hell I was outside in this mess! But in truth, my spirit lifted with each step and pretty soon I was skipping right along with a song in my heart. OK, maybe I wasn't skipping, and the song was likely me wheezing as I huffed it up the hilly drive, but still, I did get in a better mood.

Our mailman is unpredictable and unreliable on a good day, so I have no idea why I expected a snowy day like today would be any different. He had not shown up yet. I closed the mailbox and started back to the house. About halfway up the drive, I saw Bernie walking down towards me. He probably figured I was in such a foul weather mood that I would throw myself in front of the first car that passed down our desolate road and he came to check on me. We stood and watched the snow for a few minutes and then headed back to the house. I threw a snowball at him and ran in to the comfort of our fireplace. Which is where I plan to stay until all this snow melts.

Bernie did head out early this morning to do a little turkey hunting. But apparently the turkeys don't like snow either, and stayed holed up the whole time he was out there. He came in looking like the Abominable Snowman, but he looked happy, if not a little disappointed.

Hey - here's a picture of the cheese we're making. It's been sitting for about three days growing it's rind. In a day or so we'll dip it in wax and get it started curing. You can't really tell in this picture, but it weighs about two pounds:

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That's a good looking cheese right there now!

We're safe and sound on our homestead and watching the snow from the windows right now. We have a nice fire going and are hunkered down for the evening. I can't wait until spring.

Bee Free,

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Smile and Say Cheese!

We made cheese today! Well, I guess it's more truthful to say we are in the process of making cheese. We decided to start off with a cheddar cheese, and the process takes a little while. Right now we have cheese that's being pressed with 20 pounds for 12 hours. Then we'll turn the cheese and press it another 12 hours. Then it will sit on the counter for three to five days until it develops a rind. Then we'll dip it in wax and cure it for a few months. And THEN we'll have cheese! Whew. After all that it better taste good. We may start a Gouda cheese this week and see how that turns out.

Bernie took care of an oak that got half blown over by a storm last year. It was huge and came up by the roots. It got hung up in a few trees and was perched precariously above the spot he intended to run our fence through. So he and the backhoe and a chainsaw took care of that little problem. Only it wasn't little - and he's been sawing and splitting wood from that monster all week. We'll have enough firewood from that puppy to keep us warm for a month or so.

The weather has turned cold, and I've spent very, very little time outside. I am just not a cold weather person. I force myself to walk outside at least once a day just to get some air and discourage Bernie from accusing me of being a complete and total hermit. But those trips usually involve me stepping off the porch, shivering, and then running back inside. Besides, I have lots to keep me busy inside this time of year. Like writing to you on this blog.

For those of you still wondering what to do with all that left-over Thanksgiving turkey, here's a quick, easy, and delicious recipe:

Turkey Tetrazzini

6 oz. spaghetti, cooked
1/4 c. butter
1/2 c. flour
2 2/3 c. chicken broth
1 c. cream
1/4 c. sherry (or wine)
1 tsp. salt
Pepper to taste
1/2 lb. mushrooms
1/2 c. chopped green peppers
1/2 c. chopped onion
1 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. garlic
2 cups chopped, cooked turkey

In large pot, saute onion, green peppers, and garlic in butter. Add flour and whisk while slowly stirring in chicken broth. Add wine, cream, seasonings, cheese, turkey, and mushrooms. Place cooked spaghetti in bottom of baking dish and top with tetrazzini mixture. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes.

If you don't have a lot of people to feed, or you're not into leftovers, you may want to cut the recipe in half.

It's supposed to rain all day tomorrow. I may not even get the chance to run outside and take a breath of fresh air. Maybe I'll take some pictures of our cheese for y'all to look at.

Bee Free,