It’s CHRISTMAS! Music, Storms, Priceless Projects, and SOMUCHFOOD

I have a confession to make: I bought the Carpenters Christmas album off the Apple store last night. Have you ever heard it? There is just something about Christmas that wouldn’t be complete without Karen Carpenter singing, “There’s no place like home for the holidays,” to me. I recognized the correct album based on the cover image – I have stared at that cover every Christmas morning, emblazoned on a bonafide record cover, not some mamby-pamby CD cover, since I was probably four.

In other words, it was totally essential to add that to the Christmas playlist today…

…along with this album, which apparently aired the same year I was born (“If you believe in love, that will be more than enough for you to come and celebrate with me” – SING IT, KERMIT!):

In other words, it has been a good day so far. I got to Skype with my family in snowy Colorado, including my two beautiful nephews, this afternoon so I could watch them open our presents (including this handknitted owl for Ben).

20121225. Skyping with the Colorado fam. Ben and his new owl.

Then tonight, we should be getting a massive storm (for Indiana) blowing through with a predicted 6-9″ of snow. Bring it, snow! I got no place to go!

In preparation for tonight’s storm, we stocked up on supplies…

20121225. We are ready for the blizzard.

20121225. Making new (food-related) traditions - cinnamon buns.

We have many good things to read (including TWO copies of this book – such a good read we bought it for each other!)…

20121225. We got each other the same book for Christmas.

We have a doggy to keep our laps warm…

20121220. MY doggy.

We have plenty of eggs (and a brand new egg skelter so I can admire them – best present ever!)…

20121225. Christmas prezzies - an egg skelter!

And we even made a warmer for the chicken waterer! Tin from Goodwill + lamp kit from Lowe’s = $13 warmer. Not having to refresh the chicken waterer four times a day all winter? PRICELESS. We followed the directions from the Chicken Chick, although you really only need to drill one hole and run the wiring through the screw that feeds through the side of the tin. It’s amazing what a 40W bulb will do.

20121225. Chicken waterer warmer.

20121225. Chicken waterer warmer - ready for tonight's storm.

The warmer for the chicken waterer gets highest marks: the Little Red seal of approval.

Tomorrow, all we have to do is watch the storm outside, skim coat a wall or two, plan out our dream furniture for the office, knit, and watch movies. Sounds downright decadent, doesn’t it? Merry Christmas, and hoping you are having an equally blissful day!

20121224. Skim coating the office walls.

Nothing says “Christmas vacation” like an ambitious drywall-related project!

The “Duh” Vignettes, Edition One: The Grass Is Always Greener

A friend recently asked me if our girls’ eggs taste immensely different from store-bought eggs. To be honest, they don’t.

Wait, what? No, really. Don’t get me wrong – they taste fantastic, and they are about as fresh as you can get. They are also a lot stronger-shelled than store-bought eggs, and we often have to use a butter knife to break through the inner layer once we’ve cracked the shell.

Maybe it’s the fact that we have typically bought “higher end” eggs and not the 69 cent/dozen ones in the white Styrofoam containers. Maybe it’s because the chickens haven’t really been free ranging as much since the weather got colder. Who knows.

Anyway, this conversation got me thinking about fresh food for the chickens during the winter. I’ve been feeding them the pulp from my juicer, which they love, but how could I get them free range goodness without having to freeze my ass off supervising them in the open air?

Then it hit me, my greatest “duh” moment of late: open your eyes, girlfriend, and look at what’s right in front of you!

20121214. Cover crops as chicken snacks.

DUH! Green stuff everywhere!

We planted winter rye this year as a cover crop in a couple of beds, just for kicks. A local farmer was telling me that, in the spring, I’ll likely need to cut it back before turning it under, it grows so voraciously. Or, instead, I could use it as a tasty green thing to supplement the chickens’ diet all winter long.

20121214. Cover crops as chicken snacks.

Say it with me: DUH.

20121214. Cover crops as chicken snacks.

The chickens are not complaining about my recent discovery, although they did seem a little ruffled it took me so long.

In other news, we are trying to get into the holiday spirit over here at Space-Farms. For a variety of reasons, this season has been fairly stressful and a tad devoid of holiday cheer.

However, we both get over a week of much-needed time off work starting December 24, and I think the break alone will give us time to think, enjoy life, and maybe start considering some plans for the future.

20121208. Boombox hates everyone when we put the antlers on him.

Boombox is in the spirit!

20121215. We had an extra card and couldn't figure out who to send it to.

What should one do when one has an extra Christmas card and no more people to send it to in his/her address book? Why, Google “White House address,” of course! I hear Michelle has a thing for chickens.

Mmm… Tastes Like FALL Up in This Piece!

I don’t know about you, but I love rediscovering fall/winter favorite food-stuffs. You’ve just spent the long, hot, dry summer sweating it out, caring for sick chickens, watering garden plants just enough to keep them alive, brown dead lawns crunching under your feet, and sucking on cheapo generic Popsicles all summer just to keep your brain liquids from boiling.

Suddenly, almost inexplicably, the temperatures start shifting. The sun drops lower on the horizon. Frost revisits your backyard and your breath each morning. And suddenly – MIRACULOUSLY! – hot tea and slippers replace generic Popsicles and sweaty cutoffs.

Therefore, it is with great joy that I have found the need to write this blog post. Yes, NEED. I needed to write this entry to document some of the amazing fall recipes I’ve found – and want to be able to RE-find this time next year.

First up: two words. SCALLOPED TURNIPS. I grew both beets and turnips for the first time ever this year. The beets were an immediate win. The turnips, however, required a little more work to fix up in a tasty, non-bitter fashion.

20120811. Mutant turnips!

20120825. TURNIPS.

But oh, people, I have found the most magical turnips recipe ever, courtesy of Simple Recipes. The only substitutes I made were to use soy milk instead of milk, layer on a whole lot more turnips and onions, and add a nice cushion of shredded cheese (YUM).

Next on the list: the best drink to sip in front of a toasty fire. THE NOR’EASTER. Here’s how the magic happens: Combine 2 oz. bourbon, 1/2-oz. maple syrup, and 1/2-oz. lime juice in a shaker. Fill with ice, shake, strain. Top with ginger beer. Drink. Make another.

NOR'EASTER, the best fall drink ever.

And finally… ROASTED CAULIFLOWER. This is a winter staple. Sometimes, roasted cauliflower and a beer = dinner. This time around, it was roasted cauliflower with an orange pepper that wasn’t doing so hot and a little dried rosemary from the garden.

20121113. Tastes like fall.

In short… HAPPY FROSTY BREATH-TIME, BITCHES! Snuggle up in a handknit sweater with a doggie on your lap, and let’s all hunker down for the winter together.

20121104. We are the best snugglers.

Distraction Is the Name of the… OOO, SHINY!

Hey, Space-Farm readers, guess what?! WE GOT A PUPPY!!!

20121030. Birdie's sweetest face.

Which means, essentially, our world’s axis has shifted to one that includes a lot of talk about poops, best ways to get girlfriend to walk on a leash, ooos and aaahs as she does things like uses her stuffed octopus toy as a pillow or romps like a tiny pony, and the special joys of peanut butter-flavored doggie kisses. Truly, she is very well-behaved already, has only had one accident in the kitchen, can sit on command, and is getting that whole leash thing down.

TL;DR? I LOVE HER. LOTS.

20121029. My first morning with Birdie.

Also, having a puppy makes you forget about things like the rosemary jam you had been dying to make just two weeks earlier, mulching the sprouting garlic bulbs in the bed out back, and petting the chickens. Today, after a walk around the ‘hood (and subsequent puppy nap – she is quite small), it was time for all of those poor neglected souls, both animal and vegetable, to get some attention.

First up, the chickens. Let’s just check in on all the gals, shall we? Beaker is still mama-hen.

20121103. Beaker and Little Red.

Little Red is getting bigger (but is still quite little).

20121103. Little Red.

Dino Puppy is a pretty, prissy little princess.

20121103. Dino Puppy, Boo, and pumpkin snacks.

Boo’s comb is looking slick!

20121103. Boo.

And Edgar, who is normally impossible to snap a picture of, was downright outgoing today.

20121103. Edgar and her waddles.

As for the garden, we have winter rye growing as a cover crop. I’ve left the chard, fennel, and rosemary until frost kills them – the chickens love fennel so much they will actually jump for it, so how could I kill that back too soon?

20121103. Winter garden.

Winter rye.

20121103. Garlic sprouts.

Garlic sprouts.

20121103. Winter beds.

Fennel, a few last herbs, and strawberries in the far bed.

So there you have it. I managed to accomplish one or two non-dog-related things… only to come back in the house to this. PUPPY!!!

20121102. Birdie and her octopus pillow.