Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Christmas

When I was little, one of my favorite activities around the holidays every year was making oodles of Christmas cookies to give away to friends/family/neighbors/co-workers. (except for that one year we made the salt dough Christmas ornaments with the alphabet cookie cutters in everyone's initials. That beat cookies). My mom would spend HOURS with the three of us making dough, cutting out the shapes, baking and decorating the cookies... gobs of confectioner's sugar everywhere and food-coloring stained little kid hands. Sprinkles, silver balls, Christmas carols.... culminating in cracked out cranky kids, an exhausted mom, and a bunch of curly-ribbon clad cookie pacages. That my mother would then make us deliver with her. Thankfully we lived on a prep school campus, and most of this could be achieved by walking.

This year I coerced the Spawn into making Christmas cookies with me. He was a little trooper and put up with my Christmas cookie shenanigans replete with carols playing, and plastic cookie cutters. I am very thankful to the Spawn for letting me have that day of Christmas cheer (he got to play a fair share of videogames, too, so I know he stayed happy), and happy for us not ending up cracked out or cranky.

Granted we would have been done a lot faster if I could get more than one 15x10 cookie sheet in the oven at a time. Someday!

Roll and flip. Roll and flip.

Cut out those shapes - as close together as you can!

Ready to go in the oven.

Color Mixologist.


Ginger cookies. Notice the Airstream Custom oven. Teensy yet effective.


My fave**

*They got 3/4 of the way dry and then it started raining BUCKETS. Since the Airstream is a tin can, not much of the humidity made it back outside. Most of it got sucked up by my cookies. Only the few duds I had set aside for family consumption (another family tradition) survived the great humidity of 2011.

**even this one bit the dust. >sad face< 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Comfort Food

Don't mind the dirty dishes. Feast your eyes on comfort food, Stoneyhaw style. This is how we do things around here.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Chicken Saddles

So. If you know me well, you know that I am against clothing on animals. Abhor would be more like it. I don't abide by dogs wearing cute little coats, and all that. My puppy agrees, and the one time she had a costume on (in obedience class. The one I HAD to take to be able to adopt her...the instructor put a princess costume on her...), she patiently waited until he had finished and turned his back before she shredded it into itty-bitty bits of pink confetti... but I digress.

My chickens now wear saddles. What is a chicken saddle? It is basically an apron they wear on their backs to protect them from the amorous yet less-than-gentle attentions from the roosters. Some of them have had most of their central back feathers torn out, and a few of them have had their sides scratched up. Big Bunny, our main rooster who gets the majority of the hen riding time, doesn't really have his spurs yet so it's really just his nails that have managed to inflict this much damage. And since I don't want to get rid of any of my three roosters (for quite a few reasons...), this is my current solution. I have 3 of the hens outfitted so far (turns out you can get about 4 out of an old pair of jeans), and will outfit two more... Waddly Wanda doesn't need one. The roosters leave her alone as she's currently not laying.

Cindy got the prototype, and it's gathered at the top as it's held together with a button. Subsequent versions have the straps just sown on, and don't bunch. Still working on the right pattern, but so far so good!

See the dark grey on Henny Penny's back between her back feathers and tail feathers? That's down that wouldn't be visible if she weren't missing back feathers...
Currently they're all being made out of an old pair of jeans, but somehow I see camo chicken saddles in the future... oh boy.

Friday, December 09, 2011

The Circle of Life

This is a serious thing. Something that I think about a lot. With the chickens that I use for eggs, meat, and laughs, the deer meat I get from neighbors and friends, the animals around me....the seven year old I am watching (in awe!) grow... the man I love dearly...

You may remember that one of my chicks didn't survive more than a few days when we first got them. I felt an overwhelming sense of responsibility and remorse for that little guy. I felt responsible for putting him through the trauma of travel by mail...

And yet I eat meat. I feel responsible for every part of whatever meat comes through my home... and while I shouldn't feel any more or less responisble for meat that I purchased rather than raised/killed, but I do feel a difference.

I have linked to this guy before, but there was a GREAT post the other day On Killing that I read, and that is essentially all I have ever really wanted to saw on the subject, but waaaaay better and more eloquently written. I love this guy.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Holiday Gifts

Holiday gifts are important to me. I know they are important to most, but I feel like by the time we get to the end of the year we're all a bit raggedy and the effort to do something for others is weightier than it would be in say, May. Which makes it all that more important methinks.

So. Take that giant amount of effort and add thoughtfulness to it. (bear with me here) Yes. You could make a list of people you want to give gifts to - you could even go so far as to add what you want to give them next to their name - and you could go to the mall - or a megastore - and buy it all at once. At which point you absolutely deserve the latte you would buy yourself on the way home. Go you! And your recipients would be happy that you thought of them and all is happy and merry and bright.


You could make a list of people you want to give gifts to and add what you want to give them next to their name. And then take a good look at that list. You're gonna want to do a few things from here, all of which most likely (especially if you're me) involve the interwebs. Because you see you're going to add thoughtfulness to the mix. Which doesn't need to be exhausting. It can be fun, relaxing, and in my case (because I'm also slightly insane), cathartic. And by thoughtfulness I mean the majority of people on that list are going to get something handmade.

Thoughtfulness goes both ways. It's a two-way street, it's a dynamic duo.... insert twosome analogy here. If you can make everything on your gift list for all of your recipients, than you are a hero, you are awesome, and you are way above reading this little blog. Or you are a hermit who knows no one (which is scary). But you can get a gift for just about everyone on there that's handmade. You can do this by spending a quiet afternoon in your PJ's with a computer and a credit card, or you can support local businesses, artists, and crafters by going out in your community and doing your holiday shopping with a little extra thought. (and chances are your handmade item will be higher in quality and artistry than what you'd find at a megastore...)

Yes. Shopping at local businesses and buying your gifts from crafters and small businesses can be more expensive. But you are supporting your community and you can offset some of the costs with some of the homemade gifts you give. 

You might think the recipient of your gift might not notice, or might not care, but they will more than you'd think.

So I have made a pledge to make sure that at least half of the people on my list get handmade gifts. Possibly by me, possibly by a talented crafter on Etsy, or I can find someone here.

End sanctimonious rant. Comments welcome.

Holiday Greetings

'Tis the season to be merry & bright, bake & eat too many cookies & sweets, sing songs at the top of your lungs & off-key, to act like a kid & enjoy it, and to cut & decorate a scrawny-ass tree.

Charlie Brown has got nothing on Stoneyhaw. Booya!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Sneak Peek

I have something bubbling away in the corner of my oh-so-chilly "room":

This will be yummy.
Happy to be fermenting something again :)