My Christmas To Do List

Even though there are still quite a few things on my Christmas To Do List, I’ve gotten a couple of them checked off these past couple of days. Yea for me!! But… I’ve also got quite a few left. I’m not giving up hope just yet and I’m thinking that I can cross even more off that list by the next weekend.  I guess we’ll have to see just how focused I will be this week. And if I stay away from my show that I’m watching on Netflix :)

As for today, it was kind of a miserable weather day. It was windy (YUCK!) and it also rained on and off for awhile. I wanted to get our porch furniture put away this weekend, but who wants to do that in the rain and wind? Certainly not me! With laundry in the washing machine and sleeping in a little later than normal, it wasn’t the most productive morning around the farm. But in the afternoon I went to visit Mom to see what she was up to. We worked on some things for Christmas that she wanted my help on and then I did a quick stop at my brother’s farm. I beat it back home just in time to Skype with Kyle. Our Skype timing these past weeks just didn’t let us hook up, so it was great that it worked tonight and that we could talk to him.

It was a really good Sunday around the farm. The cows haven’t balled once today because they have the big hay bale, the dogs slept on the front porch most of the day, Daryl was able to read the whole Sunday paper ON the Sunday, I visited Mom, I also stopped in at my brother and sister in laws to drop off some stuff, and William is home for a week. Yup, it was a really good day after all.

The photo of the day is that of the Little Turkey River in Waucoma, Iowa. I crossed over this bridge on my way home this afternoon and when I saw the mist starting on the water,  I turned around to try to capture it in the picture.

Little Turkey River - Waucoma, Iowa

Little Turkey River – Waucoma, Iowa

 

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Andy Williams

We were invited to a wedding today that was about 4 hours away and with the fog lifting this morning, we were relieved that the travel shouldn’t be too bad. There’s been a warm front coming through and with the ground cold and the air warm – well that just makes trouble. But like I said,  this morning it wasn’t too bad. After I got a card made and we packed some overnight bags just in case it got foggy again or if we got too tired to drive home, we were off. DSCN9174 The drive was pretty uneventful and we ended up getting to the town way too early to go the church yet. And just as we were driving through the town,  Daryl mentioned that this is the town that Andy Williams was born in. In the same second that he said that I looked at him thinking – Score! we can go and check that out before the Mass. And also at that same time I could see him kind of scrunching his face and kinda looking like he wish that he might have not wanted to really say that out loud. Too late. But with the town being pretty small in size, this shouldn’t be too hard to find. And just as I was going to Google the address on my phone, the house was literally right in front of our car. Daryl parked the car and down the hill we went to get a picture. It was really windy and I’m sure glad that he’s such a good sport!

Andy Williams was born in Wall Lake, Iowa

Andy Williams was born in Wall Lake, Iowa

But even with this little detour we were still too early. So we drove around the streets to find where the reception was going to be at and then ended up downtown.  The town that we were in was Wall Lake Iowa and has around 800 – 900 people living there. It’s really a cool town and not only the houses,  but even the Main Street looks like something that you could have easily seen back in the 50′s. Yup, my kind of a town! But there was also some nice improvements to make it a great stopping point if you’re driving by.  After the wedding and reception we ended up coming home last night and it felt good to be able to sleep in a little bit. As I was thinking on the about the wedding and kind of reliving how the flowers looked and how fun it was to see some of our friends that we haven’t seen for awhile,  I was also thinking that who would have thought that in this little sleepy farm town that someone as famous as Andy Williams was born there. I guess it really doesn’t matter where you get your start from. And for Andy Williams it was in this little house in Wall Lake Iowa.

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Late Chores tonight

Daryl and I got home about the same time tonight and that meant one thing, it meant that chores were going to be late. Normally Daryl will do the chores in the morning and I’ve been doing the chores at night. But tonight when I got home, No Ears was making so much noise because she was hungry – I swear the could hear her in town! The problem is that she stands by the gate and when you drive into the yard and she sees you, she thinks she needs to be fed in at least 30 seconds or less! And she’ll keep mooing until you come and feed her. It can drive me crazy just listening to her because you can even hear her in the house and she won’t stop once she knows your home until she’s fed! Like I said, tonight was a little later than normal for the chores to be done and before the cows could be fed Daryl got the mill out and ground some corn for the cows. And once the fresh corn was given to them, along with a big bale of hay – well they were more than content. Thank Goodness!

Working late grinding feed for the cows

Working late grinding feed for the cows

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Naughty or Nice?

With December just around the corner you could hardly believe that I should be posting such a title right? Well, after I tell my story,  you can decide what the decision should be – Naught or Nice.

In order to tell the story I have to go back a couple of weeks ago to a conversation that Daryl and I had. He was getting the dogs and chicken electric dish waters around to see just what was going to work for the winter and what needed to be replaced. I knew that some of them were in tough shape because I found parts of them in the yard. (good clue right?) But I figured that it seems like every year we buy at least one new one and at one or two of them should work. Well, Daryl said that some of them didn’t work because the dogs chewed off the ends of the cords. At first I thought no big deal, let’s just put some new ends on the cords.But it didn’t turn out that easy. I found out that the dogs chewed the whole cords off!  And then the trouble began. I have been also thinking about what is needed for our outside Christmas decorations and went looking for my ‘good’ extension cords. These are cords that I try to keep even away from Daryl. Otherwise they seem to disappear in the machine shed or cattle shed and it drives me crazy when I’m ready to plug in the lights and I can’t find them. When I was telling Daryl that I wanted to get things organized for Christmas he said that the dogs got a hold of the extension cords and that he didn’t think that I could use them. I wasn’t sure why he just couldn’t put new ends on them – well… until he told me to go in the barn and take a look at what was left of the cords.

This is what I found. A lot of small pieces of the cords. And the worst thing is that I have no idea where the ends are. I’m thinking that maybe Kaiser ate them!

I have no idea on how many different cords this is

I have no idea on how many different cords this is

I know the dogs get bored during the day, and I also know that Kaiser just plain can’t help getting into trouble. But for now? Now they’re both on the naughty list  :(

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Mystery Photo 11-19-14

Let’s see if you can guess this one:

DSC_0328a

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Mystery Photo 11-12-14 results

OK, maybe I made this one a little too hard.

Well here is the picture:DSC_0320a

And the clue was ” If you are not able to see what the picture is telling you then listen close for it’s clue” 

The answer is a shelled ear of corn. Get it – ‘listen close’ …. DSC_0320

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I’ve got just one word to say…

… and that word is  SCORE!!!

Late Sunday night I was able to take my first batch of soap out of the container and after I saw the one video that you have to be careful of bubbles – well let’s just say I wasn’t so hopeful on how it was going to turn out. I mean these people who make these videos have been making soap for a long time now right? And they must know what they’re doing. Well, I was pretty nervous and excited at the same time when I took the top cardboard off the soap. And guess what? It looked like it worked. Oh yea! I hurried up and took it out of the mold (my bread pan :) ) and put it on some parchment paper. I was so proud that it actually worked that I couldn’t cut it right away. I made Daryl look at it and then I looked at it some more. I walked around with it for a little bit.. well you get the picture I’m sure. It was the coolest thing ever.

Oatmeal, Honey, & Milk soap

Oatmeal, Honey, & Milk soap

OK, but now I need to cut it. The instructions say that you can cut it with a soap cutter (duhh) or you can use a miter box. Or you can just use a knife. Since I didn’t have the soap cutter or the miter box – I opted for the knife method. I guess that I could have bought one of those other things, but with the amount of money that I have in this one loaf of soap so far, I also could have hired someone to come to my house and not only cut the soap, but also probably could have made it for me. But seriously, where’s the fun in that right? Back to the business of cutting my soap. I wasn’t sure how this was going to cut, but it worked pretty good. My bars weren’t even, but that’s just because I was just so happy that it turned out and didn’t care at the time.  And do you know the best thing? Well, I counted the amount of soap bars that I got after I randomly cut them, I found out the I had gotten 12 bars. Yup, just pure luck - but that’s what the book said you were supposed to get. After all these years, I’m not so sure why I didn’t do this sooner. Now what should I make next?

Letting my soap dry for a month is going to be hard

Letting my soap dry for a month is going to be hard

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First good snowfall of the year

We knew it was going to happen. It snowed in the afternoon yesterday and this morning we woke up to even more snow on the trees and roads. Now it was bound to happen right? But for some reason every year it kind of sneaks up on me. It seems like your’e just never ready for it or something. After I saw that it snowed, I realized that maybe I should have taken in the laundry that I hung up yesterday. But no big deal and a little snow won’t wreck anything anyway. I ended up bringing in my work shirts to our laundry room and I don’t know just exactly what snow really smells like, but our downstairs is smelling pretty fresh as the snow is melting off of the shirts this afternoon. DSCN9166

Update on the soap : Well there isn’t any update. I haven’t taken the soap out of the mold yet. The instructions say 24 to 48 hours, so I’ll have to do it around 9 pm tonight for my 24 hours. I am really anxious to see how this whole thing works out. After you make the soap, it has to set for 4 to 6 weeks to remove the rest of the lye from it and also to make it hard. Whew! More patience is needed!

As for the rest of the day? Well we were pretty lazy around here most of the afternoon and now I’m trying to get some ambition to get the house cleaned and work on some Christmas stuff. Only 5 more weekends until Christmas!! That’s scary isn’t it? Well, it at least looks like it’ll be a white Christmas.

First good snowfall of the year

First good snowfall of the year

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Clue for Mystery Photo 11-12-14

Here is the first clue to the mystery photo posted on 11-12-14. See if this will help.

If you are not able to see what the picture is telling you then listen close for it’s clue. DSC_0320a

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Giddy up

Giddy up and here we go….

What is going on you ask? Well I finally made the commitment to make soap this weekend. See I’ve been literally talking about making soap for at least 15 years and I decided I either had to do it or just never talk about it ever (and I mean EVER) again.

My decision was to pull the trigger and go for it. Now I’ve been watching hours and hours of YouTube videos and not saying that I look like I know what I’m doing – but hey, if these gals can make soap – then why in the world couldn’t I?

After ordering some of the supplies, I soon found that I needed even more. Holy Smokes this soap making stuff costs more than I was expecting. So off to the organic store and Walmart to pick up the remaining items. Now I’m set. One (or three :) ) more videos to watch and I’m going to do it.DSCN9163

After I figured out which recipe that I was going to make, I put down heavy brown paper on the counter top just in case I get into trouble. I measure out the lye and water and stir that together. This is a critical part of the soap making and now the wait for it to cool down. It gets super hot and it has to cool down 100 to 120 degrees.

Coconut, olive oil, and vegetable shortening all get melted together

Coconut oil, olive oil, and vegetable shortening all get melted together

My melted oils which get mixed with the lye mixture later were spot on for the temperature, but I had to wait … and wait… for the lye to be ready. I don’t think I ever read that this was a hobby that you had to have patience for. OK, now both sets of ingredients are the right temperature and into the new kettle they go. I must say that it did exactly what the video’s and books said it should do and after I mixed in the milk, honey, and oats, I was ready to mold it. Into the new mold it went and it got covered with cardboard so the top didn’t ash and towels and blankets to keep it warm to help cure it for 24 hours. After it was all said and done, it really wasn’t too bad. So after I sat down to see if there are any more soap videos that I could watch (sad life right?) I found one that’s called the Soap Queen. She talked about making sure you don’t get any bubbles in your soap. BUBBLES? Who ever talked about bubbles before?? Well the soap is going to come out of the mold tomorrow night so I guess we’ll just have to see if I failed on the bubble test. But for now? I’m checking out what my next soap recipe should be.

And how did I spent the night after the soap making experiment was done? Well Ma stopped over earlier with Homemade Beef Noodle Soup. It was perfect way to end the day! See today is St. Albert the Great day and as a kid we either had beef noodle soup or vegetable beef soup on November 15th. If this sounds a little odd, let me back up. See November 15 is St. Albert the Great day in the Catholic Church. And with our family being Catholic and my Dad’s name Albert – as you can about imagine this day was brought up more than once around the November time frame. Us kids loved the beef noodle and Dad liked the vegetable beef soup. So my picture of the day is that of my favorite kind of soup. Ma’s homemade beef noodle soup.DSCN9161

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