Thanksgiving and Face Sledding

Of all Holidays, I enjoy Thanksgiving the most. Ever since Andy and I started dating we’ve spent Thanksgiving with his Mom’s side of the family. We normally have between 15-25 people there. It’s loud, it’s proud, it’s wonderful. As I see it, you need four things in life for a happy one. Shelter, warmth, food and family. Though our family is actual family, family is who you make it of. If you have those essentials, it’s a good thing. The rest is icing on the cake.

Our’s always starts with an array of appetizers.

For an hour or two we all chat, catch up, and just cause general nonsense. There’s always a crowd around the table with the food.

During this time, and after one too many glasses of wine (so two, mixed with fruit punch – I’m a light weight), I decided to go check out Andy’s Cousin E’s chickens. Most kids want a dog. He wanted chickens so he could get eggs from them. He wanted me to get a photo of his egg system. Pretty clever kid.These are Rhode Island Reds, and were very friendly. At one point though they started pecking my boots, no chickens, no.

Once everything is set, the appetizers are cleared and Thanksgiving dinner is put down.

After dinner comes dessert. However, first there is a family tradition. You must either go outside and exert yourself physically, or stay inside and clean up from appetizers and dinner. It’s a great system that leaves your kitchen not looking as if a bomb went off after everyone is in a food coma. While most people went on a walk, Andy’s three cousins and I decided to go sledding.

This is Andy’s other cousin E. She is about my age, and has a killer sledding technique. What you don’t see is a small jump at the end. I, thinking this looked fabulous, decided to try it myself.

What you also don’t see is me going down super fast, hitting the jump, failing to push my face away from the snow, the sled stopping upon landing and me facesledding for the next few inches. By the looks of it, it was approximately 6 inches. Yes, I was laughing hysterically when this happened. Yes, it does hurt. It’s not too bad, but the upper lip part swelled up and is slightly black and blue now.

Point for Heather. I decided to stick to taking photos after this and shot pictures of the girls sledding and of the horse next door.

After the adventures in face sledding we went back inside for dessert. We decided not to say anything about my face until someone noticed. Andy came in from behind me and I looked up at him and he loudly said, “WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR FACE?!”. Our initial story was that I fought off a Sasquatch and saved their lives. The truth came out. So did the searing pain, but that didn’t stop me from eating dessert.

After dessert there are either camps of people watching football, or camps of people in the L to the barn by the fire. There is nothing like a darker, super warm room, a full belly and good company to enhance a food coma.

That about summed up our day, and the rest of our evening. We started the hour drive home around 6:00 to feed the hungry girls and rest up.

Next “holiday” up – Thanksmas. It’s 2 weeks after Thanksgiving, and 2 weeks before Christmas. We all meet up at one of the Uncle’s farms to cut down our Christmas trees, eat too much food and repeat. Andy and I have other people to visit this season, so we may not go, but if we do I’ll be sure to tell you about it.

xo,

Heather

Trading Spaces – Wait Is That Copyrighted?

It might be copyrighted. In fact, it probably is, but I’m not talking about the show. I’m talking about our office and guest room. The old guest room – without a door, painted lavender including the ceiling just wasn’t working anymore. It had been the guest/junk/what the hell room since we moved in and it was anxiety provoking to look at. I felt terrible having guests over, and in that room.

At the same time, across the common room from the guest room was our office. It had a door, was slightly smaller than the guest room, and it was the office for both Andy and I, and my soap supplies, among other things. When we moved in we essentially said, “that’s fine” and threw everything in there. It sort of stayed that way for the last four years.

So, I decided to switch the rooms this year.  The pre-renovation updates were pretty simple. I chose an accent color for the back wall and the built it, painted the walls white, caulked a few areas (a lot of areas, like a whole tube of areas), updated the fixtures on the ceiling, and simplified everything. You can see those steps here and here.  By the way, this room is pretty darn small in reality. Due to the hallway and angles, I can’t get it all in one shot.

I turned the built in storage to a soap display for my fully cured soaps. Andy’s desk he built got dusted and cleaned up and turned into my desk, with my old monitor so I can have dual monitors when I’m working/designing with my laptop.

On the back side of the wall I put our solid oak drawer we bought at a barn sale for my crafting supplies, my jar of soap scraps, a frame that is a place holder – though I am admittedly digging the gold. I never though I was a gold frame person, I just might be.

Oh, and hey – it’s that tripod light that I saved 900+ dollars on. If, you know, I ever actually intended on buying a similar $960 dollar lamp. Which I did…not.

Below is my nana’s suitcase with our wedding keepsakes in it, a tin lined milk box I bought at the flea market for $15.00 filled with some art stuff and gift paper. I rarely, if ever, stage a photo. I really organize my items like this.

On the other side of the bureau is the strawberry box my mom picked up for me off the side of the road, filled with my scrap papers and frames which aren’t in use. Against the wall is my art bag. I’ve had that thing (and some of the supplies inside) since high school.


This is the desk from the other angle, standing by the oak bureau. The curtains are two panels for $20 at Homegoods, attached to a tension rod that I settled up behind the molding for a seamless look. Behind the curtain is a piece Andy built in high school which I keep extra blankets in, as well as our basic metal filing cabinet. I just want to say I’m excellent at spacial skills. Or so I tell myself, since I figured out sans measuring tape I could fit both items in the closet perfectly.

Oh, and on the desk. Here’s a closer view.  Andy salvaged the desk drawers, and the top of the desk which are solid mahogany, from an abandoned building. He then built new faces to the drawers and cabinets out of ash. The desk top is insanely deep, and beautiful. It definitely takes up a lot of room. I initially wanted a built in, but kept with this for now. As I kept with it during the day I realized I actually really liked it. So we’ll see what happens down the line once we renovate the house.

And just because it makes me happy to see my soaps displayed out in the open on a bright shelf, and no longer in a closet, this photo is necessary.

As a reminder this is what it looked like before we moved in, and what it looks like now. In the fore front of the “after” photo are items I’m either selling or giving away. It’s amazing how much I’ve been able to get rid of since we moved in. The only item I will have bought for this room when 100% accessorized will be a small area rug I can sit on while I craft.

So there we are. Aside from a few details the office is done for now.

I’m still looking to:

  • Get a comfortable area rug to craft on
  • Decide on some art for the walls
  • On the white wall directly above hang a few closet rods to drape my fabrics over (or next to the window, I haven’t decided yet)
  • Put the wooden antique cheese box (soap photo above) on the wall next to the light switch to use as an “inbox” for any mail of ours we need to go through, so it stays off the kitchen table.

All in all I’m super happy with how it’s turned out. It’s nice to have a place to go and work if I need some quiet, as well as sew. With such a huge desk top I can easily use it for sewing large pieces without a separate sewing table. Now it’s time to finish organizing, list a couple things for sale, and start prepping the old office as the new guest room. I am intending to:

  • Wash the walls.
  • Caulk rough areas, but not mud them. The walls are the worst in that room, but it will be demo’d next summer hopefully.
  • Prime and paint the walls white.
  • Use the Revere Pewter or Edgecomb Gray from the kitchen upgrades (or combine them), to paint wide stripes on the walls similar to The Stucco Bungalow, found through Pinterest. I’m still not sure if I’m doing the entire room, or just one wall.

  • Pick up an extra bed from Mom.
  • Get a small area rug to keep our guests tootsie’s warm.
  • Add some sheer curtains, similar to those in the office.
  • Make a side table using a few items we have around here.

All for now my family and friends! I hope you enjoyed your Turkey Day. I’ll be posting about ours later, and my er – great spacial skills.

Love,

Heather

 

Chocolate Almond Butter & Coconut No-Bake Cookies

My favorite cookie is a homemade oatmeal raisin chewy cookie, so it’s no surprise I love these oatmeal based no-bake cookies too. I have memories of making them with my mom and grabbing one before it was fully set up so I could eat the warm oatmeal deliciousness.

These are still my favorite cookies to make. It may or may not have to do with the fact that I am baking challenged. I mean, I can bake, I’m just rather impatient with it and I am constantly altering recipes. Note: altering recipes works beautifully with cooking most of the time, with baking it’s a little more finicky. The thing I love about these no-bakes is that as long as you following the recipe basics it’s highly customizable for the most part. It would be super easy to make these using an almond or soy milk – or baileys. You can add pecans, walnuts or raisins. Top the hot cookies with a slice of a fresh strawberry, etc. There are so many options, which makes these fun.

Oh, and they take under 10 minutes to make.

I decided tonight to make a small batch of these to bring to our huge Thanksgiving tomorrow for dessert, along with a cheese/olive/salami platter for appetizers. Let me inform you that a small batch of these is enough. I’ll take photos of the dessert spread tomorrow and you’ll understand.

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp Baking Cocoa Powder (not hot cocoa)
  • 2 cups of Sugar
  • 1 stick of Butter
  • 1/2 cup of Milk
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla
  • 2 cups of Almond Butter (or Peanut Butter)
  • 3 cups of Quick Oatmeal
  • Shredded Coconut (optional)
  • Wax Paper
  • Ice Cream Scoop (optional)

Directions

1.) In a largish non-stick pot (if available) add the cocoa powder, sugar, butter, milk and vanilla over medium heat. Let simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring to keep from burning and to dissolve all ingredients. While this is going roll out a large sheet of wax paper, about a foot or so.

2.) Add in your almond/peanut butter. If you are using natural almond/peanut butter make sure to heat it first and stir until smooth so it can incorporate properly. If you get chunks that won’t dissolve use an immersion blender to break them up. I had this issue as I had never used almond butter before, but heating it separately would have solved the issue.

3.) Once all ingredients are incorporated and smooth add the quick oatmeal and quickly stir to coat. This stuff sets up fast so get on it.

4.) Use the ice cream scoop and drop cookies on the wax paper. If you want, tap the top down with a fork.

If you’re using the coconut there are three ways (I can think of) that you can add it in. No matter what you choose it will be ridiculously delicious.

  • Toast it under the broiler and then top the cookies while still hot, slightly tap into the top of the cookie.
  • Keep it raw and top the cookies while still hot, slightly tap into the top of the cookie.
  • Toss it in with the oatmeal in step 3.

These are absolutely best while still warm. I highly suggest hovering like a bee over a flower and then making a dash for the goods once they are set up enough to easily pop off of the wax paper. Add a big glass of your favorite kind of milk, and wait for it. You feel that? That’s the feeling of pure delight. I suggest not worrying about the sugar and butter in these since they are a treat, not a regular.

XO,

Heather

 

Please Stop Poaching Unicorns For Your Table

The holidays are approaching, more like two days away, and I have noticed something in the blog world.

Table Settings.

First off,  if you love table settings I give props to the fact you have patience to do them, and I thank you because I really love seeing the ideas and how they look. It makes me laugh that I am apparently this out of the loop on this whole thing.

Second, am I the only blogger, or woman out there, who does not do table settings? I once went to a dinner party with the most beautiful setting. I wasn’t sure whether to take a photo or actually eat. It gave me slight anxiety that I might spill something and ruin the look of the scape. Then I decided that if I spilled something I would just have to spill something at everyone else’s seat. At least it would be symmetrical.

I’m guessing my lack of table settings is at least partially because any holiday family get together has 20-30 people. That’s a lot of raffia to wrap around twigs, bundled with your fork, knife and spoon with a single pine cone in the middle of each plate. At our house you will be filled with hot comfort food and laughter. If you’re lucky you may even get a cold beer. Or wine served in a mason jar. With ice if it’s so your thing. You fancypants McIceWine. When it’s time to get served, we all grab our plates, head into the kitchen, fill up and meet at the table.

This all said, I have learned a few things about table settings:

  • There are things called chargers which, may I inform you if you are as under informed as I was, that is is a plate type item that you place on underneath of your plate. There is no use except for decor purposes to said charger. I suggest at all costs using mirrors so you can utilize them to make sure you don’t have anything in your teeth.
  • Burlap is a huge thing for table runners. Good God do bloggers love burlap. I’m no exception, I have 30 yards of it (yes, thirty yards) at my house from my wedding. If you want a yard, let me know. I even have some table runners we made for the wedding still. I should put those things on Etsy.
  • Twigs in a jar, pine cones, and other oddities of nature, like unicorn horns, often make it to the table. Please stop poaching unicorns for your table.
  • Someday I’m going to fill a mason jar with rocks. Then when people ask what it is I can say, “It’s a mason jar with rocks”, or make up some story about how the particular rocks transcended my design choices by using subconscious color and other nonsense. As I wrote that I realized I really did choose my paint colors based on a handful of our stone walkway. Son of a bee sting.
  • People have far more storage in their home for table accessories than I do.
  • I have almost no storage in my house.
  • Made up tables look really nice, but where do you put the food?
  • How do you eat and talk with a bundle of twigs in the middle of the table?
  • What is this leafy stuff on my plate, do I eat it or is it part of the decor?
  • Can I actually use this napkin? It looks pretty nice.

You see where I’m going with this? I cannot possibly be the only woman out there who enjoys entertaining, but puts little emphasis on a perfect tablescape because she finds it slightly useless and slightly anxiety provoking to make perfect.

I guess I just like to keep food as food and not confuse the matter with a plate of pine cones.

If you come to my house and I have a plate of pinecones out on the dinner table they are edible.

Or the dog brought it in.

I’d ask first.

Here’s to those who know how to make a beautiful table setting, and have the patience to do it. As for me and my house, I raise a cold beer to you while I stir a pot of hot chowder.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Heather

 

Roasted Root Vegetable Dill Stew & Fluffy Biscuits

Our winter CSA (community supported agriculture) pickup was on Thursday. We decided to join a Winter CSA to supplement our diets with organic locally grown vegetables. I knew Andy would initially be hesitant to join the CSA if it would be a lot of money for very little food, or one that supplemented their veggies with out of state food. It was important to me too to find a CSA that was grown within 25 miles of our home, and had convenient pick up. I knew it would be the basic root veggies for the winter, and I was hoping to get challenged with some I had never had before. Normally we grow parsnips and just leave them to winter and pick them as needed, but this year we didn’t. We also don’t have any root cellar which rules out our own crop.

I ended up finding the perfect Winter CSA grown within the 25 miles, and the pickup is right near my office. We can also buy organic eggs and meat separately, which I love. It’s 6 months long and pick up is every 2 weeks. As well, all veggies are locally grown with no non-local supplementation. It goes through May, which will help supplement us until our garden is ready, especially if the next planting season is anything like this year. Also, I can be assured it’s all from right here. I don’t mind buying them at the grocery store, but if I’m paying extra for a CSA, I want it local.

We’re hoping to someday get a cold frame built to put over at least 1/4 to 1/2 of our garden to have our own crops during the winter, but for now the CSA is a great choice for us. We get about a regular grocery bag of food every 2 weeks. While it’s most definitely not all of our veggies, it certainly helps. I also love supporting local farmers so this makes me feel good too.

Tonight after a long day of painting, cleaning & general malaise I decided we needed a hearty stew for dinner. One of the veggies we got was celeriac which I had never had. It turns out I love it.

Ingredients

No need to adhere to the veggies below, just use any root veggies you have on hand and dice them up into bite size pieces.

  • 1 Sweet Potato
  • 3 medium Regular Potato’s
  • 8 medium Turnips
  • 2 bulbs Celeriac (celery root)
  • 1 small butternut squash
  • 3-4 small/medium carrots
  • 1 medium white onion
  • 3 medium cloves garlic
  • Chicken Stock (enough to cover vegetables) [To make vegan substitute vegetable broth]
  • 1/2 cup 1% milk (optional) [To make vegan substitute nut milk of choice, almond would work nice]
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch to thicken (optional)
  • Olive Oil/Vegetable Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1.5-2 tbsp Dill
  • Pinch Celery seed

Directions

1.) Heat oven to 400 and start pot of water. I suggest using one pot that will be large enough to make the soup in, or else you’ll need two pots.

2.) Dice all veggies. Set onion & garlic and celeriac aside.

This is celeriac. Cut the top off. Cut the bottom off, and skin. It’s just that easy! Don’t be intimidated.

3.) Add celeriac root to boiling water for 15 minutes. Being honest, I’m not sure why you couldn’t roast it. I read different preparation ways and most places said boil it. Since I’ve never used it I followed the majority. I say try and roast it if you want, I see no reason why it wouldn’t work.

4.) Spread remaining veggies (except onion & garlic) on a cookie sheets or two and drizzle with oil, salt, and pepper. Roast in oven for 10 minutes. I recommend putting all butternut squash on one end of a cookie sheet, since you’ll want to keep this aside to add in at the end.

5.) Drain celeriac root and set aside in a bowl or on the cookie sheet with the butternut squash to add in at the end.

6.) Add a large pad of butter to the pan. Once melted put in the garlic and onions and saute for 5 minutes. Add in all of the roasted veggies except celeriac and butternut squash. Turn the heat down to medium and let go for about 5 minutes, gently stirring once or twice.

7.) Add chicken stock to cover the veggies, dill, celery seed, salt and pepper and put on low and simmer until the potatoes & sweet potatoes are fork tender. If you want to thicken, take about 2 tablespoons of hot broth out and add cornstarch to it. Whisk until entirely dissolved and add back to the soup. Do not add cornstarch into the entire batch of soup, it will clump and stirring will break your veggies apart.

There’s a reason this is called a Dill stew.

8.) Turn off the heat to the soup. If adding milk, slowly pour and gently stir, or temper into a smaller bowl of hot broth and pour back in.

9.) Biscuits. Get this can. Half the directions of the back for about 9 mug sized biscuits. Add a little more baking soda for fluffier biscuits. Secrets out – this is how my grandpa made his best biscuits, my mom made hers, and I make mine. I have a couple different ways I make them, but these are my favorite.

10.) Eat. Fill that bowl up, butter that biscuit up and mow down.

Happy Cold Winter Days & Hot Stew,

Heather