30 November 2013

He Gets Enough

One of these diners is not like the other...
Hercules is a regular at everyone's meals.  He pushes Snickers out of the way at their lunch and dinner, has been known to nibble on chicken feed and when the horses run over for their evening grain, he sits nearby and licks up any spilled grain.  And all that food is on top of any rodents and birds he catches and eats.
The horses are surprisingly tolerant of their little shadow.
I think he gets enough.

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29 November 2013

Totally Justified

With the year coming to a close, a majority of my 2013 remain unfinished.  Don't get me wrong--it wasn't that I didn't try or that I'm disappointed, but it's more of a lifelong list.  However, I did get to cross one more off yesterday:
A 5K Turkey Trot.

It was surprising how many people show up but it seems to be a family tradition with some people.  I ran the course in less than half an hour and it was pretty fun to watch bottles of ketchup and mustard, turkeys and fairies run by and a group of little kids that whooped me horribly.
To top it off, the course was at the cemetery where my grandfather was buried.  While cooling down, Jack and I walked up to his grave site and thought of him.
Hi Grandpa!
It was also the anniversary of Jack's proposal of marriage seven years ago.  Obviously, I said yes.
Running with the pack.
Happy Thanksgiving!
(I feel totally justified eating a turkey dinner after a race!)

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25 November 2013

Simple Instructions

Horses are incredibly smart, but sometimes they need very simple instructions especially when it comes to eating.
They'll probably still mess it up.

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22 November 2013

The Little Things

I feel like I've been working my tail off home improving.  A lot has been accomplished but I still get the "It has potential," remark more than I'd like.  I try not to take it too personally, but as a woman and a homemaker, the house feels like it's an extension of myself.  For all the huge projects we've been undertaking, my favorite by far have been the seemingly insignificant checks off the list.  Instead of a columned mirror, now we've got a nicely drywalled column waiting to be painted.
The 1970's have been removed as much as possible.
Instead of a dark, unfinished tunnel to our bedroom . . .
 . . . there's a homemade banister in it's place.
Even the tiny strips of trim that have been carefully primed, painted and replaced really finish off a project.
See the subtle difference?
It really is the little things.

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19 November 2013

The Fallen

A gentle breeze blew over our flag pole and the horses, after giving a good show bolting away came back to reverently inspect what scared them.  Good thing I'm married to an Eagle Scout.  The fallen flag will be carefully disposed and replaced with a new to fly over our humble abode.

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17 November 2013

Root Beer Flavored Honey

The bees have been sluggish lately, if active at all.  They seem to have resigned themselves to autumn and don't come out often except late on warm afternoons.  The girls are living off the honey supply they collected this spring since the flowers are all gone but yesterday, they were buzzing about, taking one last chance to look for some sweet nectar.
The bees' second helping.
Along with bees, root beer is one of Jack's passions.  He loves making his own and ended up bringing home a gallon after a youth activity at church.  He drank his fill and then decided to share with the bees to see if they'd be interested.
Of course they were.  It's sugar water.
Drink up girls!  Next year we might find some root beer flavored honey.  I imagine that might overjoy Jack.

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16 November 2013

Gone Fishin'

There have been a few mornings I've woken up, let the horses out and checked their water to find a razor thin sheet of ice covering the top.  It's not a problem for the horses.  They just bash through it and take an ice cold drink.
This summer, Evelyn was convinced she wanted to try fish so Jack took her fishing but to no avail.  I use corn but Jack bought a bucketful of minnows.  After about five minutes of not catching fish, Evelyn decided she'd rather swim and we ended up with a school of fish we weren't sure what to do with.
Eventually they got dumped into the horse trough.  They can be a bit messy but they keep the tank free of mosquito larvae so they're worth the mess.  But with inevitably colder weather coming, we needed to install the tank de-icer so the thin sheet of ice doesn't turn into an impenetrable solid block.
With leaves to hide among and incredible speed for their size, it was surprisingly difficult to catch them.  In the end, we prevailed.  The girls guarded the bucket of fish against an attack from Hercules while I rinsed out the tank.
The trough and fish are ready for winter.  It's no lake but I think they'll enjoy the cold season in a balmy tank rather than being used as fishing bait anyway.

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15 November 2013

No Effort Wasted

Jack is really big on waste not, want not.  He drags food scraps out to compost, uses grass clippings as mulch and practically follows the horses around with a wheelbarrow and fork.  And even then, he's creative with how he uses it.  It too goes to the compost pile but it's also been used to fill ruts in our property from previous owners and this spring's fencing project.  Turns out, the pungent ruts also have been taking care of a few problem neighborhood dogs who've been repeatedly wandering to our house.  They bark and growl at us and then go eat some poo, roll in it and run home.  I suppose that's a fair consequence for irresponsible ownership.  I chuckle wondering if they give their owners big, slobbery kisses when they get home.

No effort wasted.

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14 November 2013

Oil Paint Remover Tip

Paint on the hands: telltale sign your house is under construction.
It seems like all I've got to report lately are tips but oh, well.  At least they're handy.  Work on the house is slow and steady and we've been fairly low key after a short battle with a stomach bug that Jack claims he graced us with.  Anyway, I'm starting to get around to piles of trim I pulled down before working on the stairwell.  I've learned my lesson and, as much as I detest it, always use oil based primer on the wood (the nicotine just seeps out otherwise).  Inevitably, I forget to grab my gloves and get some on my hands.  Instead of taking a bath in paint thinner, use vegetable oil to remove the splatters.  Lather hands with a tablespoon or so, scrub (a brush helps!) and wash with warm soap and water.  Repeat as necessary.
Leave the house confident no one in public will know what state of disarray your home is in!

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13 November 2013

Mouse Trap Tips

It's that time of year again: beautiful weather, changing leaves, bounteous harvests and the subsequent invasion of mice.  I'm all for live and let live as long as rodents aren't nesting on my saddle, eating the horses' grain or welcoming themselves into our house.  Then they've got to go.  I don't like the idea of glue traps (a slow painful starvation stuck on a glue pad?  Heck, half the time they walk over it anyway) or poison (I've got little kids around here and cats that might accidentally gobble up a poisoned mouse) so I stick with the traditional snap trap.  Morbid, yes, but it's better than contracting some zoonotic disease from a mouse.  Here's some tips to make sure they really work and keep the mouse from A) running off with it stuck on a leg or tail or B) getting off scot free altogether:
(Sorry for the crummy photo--my little camera is at the doctor).
First, keep food crumbs and water cleaned up.  A mouse probably won't go for a trap if it's got a buffet of kids' dinner scraps on the floor.  I speak from experience.  Secondly, use peanut butter on the trap even if the trap claims to be pre-baited.  It's sticky so they'll have to work to get it off and is fragrant which will reliably attract a mouse.  Then for the real trick: put the peanut butter underneath the bait pad.  Again, morbid, but they'll have to try and get at it, giving you the best chance of ridding your unwelcome house guests sooner rather than later.  Trust us.  We've used this method more than once and it works.

Good luck!
(And thanks for the tip Jordan!)

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12 November 2013

Get To Work

Gawl, Jack.  She's only one...
Okay.  So he wasn't really making her work.  She certainly wanted to help though.

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10 November 2013

They'll Have To Try

Jack's been helping me build a banister to overlook the great room.  Though I'm afraid of heights, my girls aren't and that's made me a bit nervous about a railing.  So, I designed it so they wouldn't be able to fall over the edge.
Okay.  They'll have to try really hard at least.
(Maybe I should put a trampoline underneath just in case...)

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Mini Monster Cookie Cups

Jack had a late Sunday so we made a surprise treat for him.  Since we couldn't decide what kind of cookie, we went with one that has a little bit of everything: mini monster cookie cups.  We used up the last of some M&Ms and threw in a few other baking chips too.  They ended up divine.


1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup M&Ms
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup white chocolate chips
1/4 cup peanut butter chips

Stir together butter, sugar, egg and vanilla.  In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, salt and oats.  Add to the butter mixture and mix until well combined.  Fold in the chips and candies.  Spray a mini muffin pan with cooking spray and spoon dough in.  Cook at 325F for about 10 to 13 minutes or until set (they'll still be soft, but shouldn't "jiggle").  Cool in pan and scoop out gently with a spoon.

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