Life in the A-Frame

Life in the A-Frame

Monday, December 29, 2008

Limoncello-Final step

After about 2 months, it was time to strain and bottle the limoncello that I made from my very own lemon crop. After it was strained and bottled, it was a pale, pretty liquid. Here it is in my kitchen window amid the angels and artificial snow. After admiring the pretty presentation a while, I put the bottles in my freezer because you are supposed to serve it ice cold. I took one bottle with me on my Christmas rounds and it was a hit, especially with my husband's side of the family.

Homemade Kahlua

I made many, many batches of homemade kahlua this year as gifts for the Troopers and their wives. I have a little left for me and Mike. My favorite way to drink it is in a cup of hot chocolate. I like to heat a cup of milk, add a heaping spoon full of Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder, then add kahlua as the sweetener. I also have a friend who mixes hers with half and half (is that a White Russian?).

Spiced Vanilla Kahlua (makes 3 cups)

2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups water

3 Tab. instant coffee powder

1 tsp. cinnamon

sprinkle in powdered ginger and cloves

3/4 cup vodka

2 Tab. vanilla

Heat all ingredients except vodka and vanilla in a medium saucepan. Heat until coffee and sugar melts. Remove from heat. Add vanilla and vodka. Skim the foam from the top of the kahlua and bottle.

Of course, I propped one of the labeled bottles in my kitchen window, my favorite gazing place. This time of the year, it is decorated with various Christmas angels, snowmen, and village shops. You can see the faces of my two children on some angels they made in church...about 10 years ago.

Christmas baking

My daughter was hired to draw 2 pictures that were given as gifts to a friend of ours. (I was so excited!). The day before she finished, I baked these cookies and she took a break long enough to help decorate them. We used the egg yolk icing recipe that I saw on The Pioneer Woman's blog:
Then we used a quick, Wilton prepared white icing in a bottle. I think they turned out pretty. The little gingerbread guy at the bottom looked like a pirate to me but my daughter says he is in a baseball uniform.

Holiday wishes

Before I had time to realize it, over two weeks of time flew by and I hadn't posted anything! I did read all my favorite blogs everyday, and really enjoyed them, but it seems like that is all I had time to do. I will post some pictures soon of the homemade crafts I did, and the final phase of my limoncello. I have a lot of things to share from this holiday season.
I have a family update: Mike's dad is back in the hospital with several problems that won't stablize. While he was in intensive care, Mike went to stay with him everyday. Now he is in a private room and hopes to move back to the rehab center soon. We did get to see both sides of the family for Christmas and attend the wedding of one of our nieces. And, I think Mike is really ready to retire now. These last few weeks seems like a blurr, but I will sort it all out and see what I have pictures of.
Meanwhile, it is still the holiday season and soon it will be a new year. I wish everyone Happy Holidays and I hope you will visit me here...soon.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Our eventful week

The squirrels were taunting Amos again. A bird feeder is right over his head and they didn't even run from him this time. I guess they were hungry. He tried to get closer to them by getting in the flower pot. Still didn't scare the squirrels.

We started last week by celebrating my daughter's birthday. We gave her a pretty cross necklace. Happy 19th birthday!

Then the next day, we went to the Olive Garden for my 50th birthday. Here are Mike and I waiting outside the restaurant.

On Wednesday, it snowed. That is a rare occasion here in Texas. I caught the sun coming out about an hour later and it just hit the top of the trees before dark.

My nephew, who lives with my son, has a new puppy. He is half pit bull and half Rottweiler. They are going to call him King. Ace will have a playmate at his house now.

My daughter and I got the Christmas tree decorated finally. This is the aluminum tree that my Grandpa got when I was little. My Grandmother didn't really like it but I thought it was the prettiest thing in the world. Now I have it!
Our last few weeks have been hectic and stressful. Mike's dad is in the hospital but is much better now. Mike has been away from home a lot. The kids have finished the semester at college and have a little free time now. The weather was freezing a couple of days but now it is 73 degrees again. Today, we had a beautiful Children's pageant at church and I think it finally put me in the Christmas mood.

Friday, December 5, 2008

My, how things change

This is baby Ace, approximately 8 pounds on October 16.
This is baby Amos, approximately 2 pounds in August, 2006.

Today they both went to the vet for their shots and checkup. Look at how much bigger Ace is than Amos now. He was 26 pounds today! And Amos was almost 10 pounds. Of course, Ace is only 3 months old, so he will get a lot, lot bigger. We also discovered he has a slight heart murmur so we will be watching him for signs of fatigue, but so far, he has appeared very healthy.

It was really cold today, (for us in Texas, 54 degrees is freezing). When we got back home, both dogs found this sunny spot under the sunroom table and laid down together for a nap.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

tiny girl, but now she's a young woman

Well, my daughter's birthday is Saturday. She will be 19 now. On the day she was born, I woke up at 4:30. I had been dreaming that my best friend was my nurse and I was having contractions. Mike had worked nights, so I didn't wake him. I took a shower and called my mother, still unsure if I was having real contractions. She and my father came over to my house because they would need to baby sit my 1 year old son. My father convinced me to go ahead to the hospital, so I woke up Mike. Imagine his confusion when he saw that my parents were already there and I was ready to leave. We arrived at the hospital about 9:00 a.m., and she was born at 11:25 a.m.-nice, calm and easy. She has been calm and easy ever since. She loves music, plays the piano and an artist and a designer. She is in college and is getting an art degree but now also wants to go to hair design school. I think her 2 interests go together, don't you? She is beautiful, with dark skin and eyes and medium brown hair. She is quiet, very conservative, and has strong opinions. I have never known her to be swayed by peer pressure. I am proud of her. She has grown into a fine, level headed young lady and I love her!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Pretty Paper Angels

These Angels will part of the table decorations Sunday when we have our church Christmas party. (That day will also be my 50th birthday). I am looking forward to the party in many ways. Decorating the tables is one of my joys when serving the Church. If you would like to instructions, visit Martha Stewart:

Gentle Southern breeze

The weather is warm and there is a wonderful Southern breeze. I have the house completely open. My bedroom is painted a dark, deep blue because my Husband needs to sleep late after working a night shift and it is a treat to have the window open-letting the fresh air blow through. A cold front is on the way, though, so tomorrow will be very different. Typical Texas weather.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving moments with my family

HOW I SPENT MY THANKSGIVING... sharing a seafood and garlic, parmesan mashed potato meal with my husband and 2 kids.
spent the morning baking..pumpkin pie from me and cranberry, white chocolate blondies from my daughter

watching my husband working outside and building an outdoor fire

looking at the last of the fall leaves blow from the trees


Limoncello, part 2

I started the Limoncello about a month ago and it is time for step two, so I got out the vodka, and the lemon zest starter. I added 750 ml vodka...
Then I boiled 4 cups of sugar with 5 cups of water for 7 minutes to make a thick, simple syrup.

I let the syrup cool, then added it to the vodka and lemon zest. I have to put it aside now until Christmas Eve, then strain it, sample it, and bottle what's left. It smells wonderful and hope it tastes great as well.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Birthday supper

My son's request: "gourmet hamburgers with homemade buns, sweet potato fries, and peach cobbler. To make the burgers gourmet, we used 2 kinds of cheese, some bacon and french fried onions and they were delicious!
He's building a whopper of a plate (notice his manly arm). We also had all the toppings; tomatoes, onions, lettuce, pickles, mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard......

My daughter's finished burger. Notice the sesame seed buns. It was the first time to try the recipe and the buns were enormous. She has her ingredients artfully arranged so I took a picture.

My son fixed himself 2 burgers. Notice that he has his buns upside down but they taste the same either way-And... he was only able to eat one of those burgers. He chose 2 kinds of fries for his tasting pleasure. After supper, he opened his gifts-a snicker's bar from his sister and a western shirt with a gift certificate from me and Mike.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Big boy, little boy

He was born 6 lbs, 2 oz. and 18 inches long. I thought he was so tiny. He could turn over the day he was born and did it several times after he came home. Ate, slept 30 minutes, awake 30 minutes, got ready to eat again. Great boy, not a bit jealous or troublesome when his sister came along 12 months, 2 weeks later. His first words were puppy and daddy. Tried to run instead of walk. Had an imaginary friend named Judah who could ride a motorcycle and wore ugly boots. Had a hero in "Walker, Texas Ranger" and was nicknamed "Little Chuck" when he joined a Tae Kwon Do class at age 4. State ranked power lifter, known for his physical strenth and his winning personality as well as his manners and air of respect.
His birthday is tomorrow and he will be 20. He is a corrections officer who also goes to college full time. His dream is to be a state trooper like his dad. He lives on his own, even if it 1/2 mile away.
He is not a litte boy any more, not even a big boy but a young man and I love him. Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

My New Stove

I've had an interesting couple of weeks. One day, I was sitting in the living room with my kids. I was visiting with them but I think it was just a nice way for them to hang around until supper was finished. I heated the oven and put in a pan of garlic bread. Five minutes later, the lights dimmed, then a strange "sparking" noise and strobes of light from the kitchen caught our attention. We all jumped up and discovered the element in the oven was burning up. I turned off the stove and rescued the bread. My cooking for the next two weeks consisted of stove top, one pot meals or the crockpot. Mike came back early from our camping trip to work and decided to put in the new element during the afternoon. While he was working on it, Amos and Ace somehow got a couple of tubes of paint from my daughter's art supplies and chewed them up. Amos had rolled in the green paint and Ace had spread the yellow onto the carpet and my newly recovered couch. And, when the element was installed, it still didn't work. Mike tried to clean up the paint but he didn't know it was oil paint. It was still wet when I got home and we cleaned up the couch and carpet with a little bit of paint thinner. Amos still has a little green hair on his back. Saturday, I picked out this new, pretty, very white model and Mike installed it. I'm very pleased with it and can now bake my son a cake (actually I think he asked for peach cobbler) for his birthday Friday.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Camping at the Big Tank

Cousins sat around the campfire on a very cool November day. The temperature that night was around 48 degrees. We cooked steak, sausage, chicken and, of course, s'mores.

My new tent was the perfect size but my air mattress deflated during the night.

In the morning we made coffee and hot chocolate. As soon as the sun came up, we were able to shed our long sleeves and enjoy the beautiful day.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Limoncello step one

Here are the items needed for starting my limoncello: zest of all my lemons (11), 750 ml of vodka and a clean wine jug.

My new lemon zester/grater was a big help.

This is the pretty, yellow liquid that results when the zest and vodka are combined. I leave this mixture alone for 40 days, then complete step two.

The importance of Bobby Flay (dishes) and ripe lemons

I want to share some of my new things with you. The lemons are completely ripe now and ready to pick. This is the last picture of the only fruit I've been able to harvest from a tree I've grown. I am a fledgling fruit harvester. It might seem silly but I have babied this tree and these lemons since early last spring. They are very special to me. I'm turning them into Limoncello this morning. It is a 60-80 day process so the rewards are still to come much later. I only need the zest for that so I will have lots of juice to use in the next few days. I have new dishes!I have searched everywhere for some dishes that were not made in China. My new project is to research products and their origin of manufacture. I want to only support buying products from countries that do not sell leaded or poisoned products (China!). I most want to support manufacturers that actually produce their products in the USA, but that is a rare thing. I found these Bobby Flay dishes at Kohls. They are not produced in the US, but in Portugal. The most important thing is that they are not produced in China. I wish China the best, but I wish America the best MORE! The dishes I first picked out a few months ago are expensive so I have asked for them for Christmas. Yesterday I happened to stop at Kohls and found this less expensive line. The plates were regularly $9.99 but everything in this line was 50% off so I bought a few things. I still am asking for the other style for Christmas though-they are very beautiful. I haven't heard any negative things about the merchandise from Portugal so I am very happy right now.
On a side note, I spent a couple of hours in HEB yesterday also looking at where the things I buy come from. I stopped buying produce from most foreign countries if I possible. I like to buy organic, American produced food. Sometimes you just can't. The American laws for organic produce are broad enough to worry me already but I don't know how strict other countries are about what is applied to their produce. Therefore, I was pleased to find things like packaged salad, fresh fruit etc. that were labeled "produced in the USA". I was horrified though to find out that other things, like my favorite Central Market brand of frozen green beans were produced in China. I'm going to have grow more of my own stuff!

My lemons and garden vegetables are completely organic. Of course, that is why some of my lemons have spots on them. What insect or animal nibbles on lemon skin? The good news though is that all I have to do is rinse the dust off and eat.

My lemons look beautiful in my favorite gazing spot-my kitchen window.

They look really lovely against my new Bobby Flay dishes. Something made with lemon juice is for supper. Pie? Lemon chicken? Both?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

troopers bowl

The troopers from our 2 counties qualified yesterday at their required physical assessment exercise. They had to meet 100% of the standards set by the state for running, situps, pushups, agility etc.-afterwards they had their area meeting. Then when they were done, and off duty, they met at this game center for an afternoon of bowling and pizza. There was a bit of friendly competition, a lot of joking around and even cartwheels performed by one of the troopers every time he bowled a strike. It was fun to watch and I hope they do some more of these type things together.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

do it yourself exercise equipment

My husband was looking for a little variety in his workout regimen and came up with the idea of making himself a stationary bike. It works, just floats a little he says. He is very creative. All he needed was some ropes and the rafters to the second floor of the shop. I think he also got a workout from actually constructing this piece of equipment.

I have a name!

After a weeklong search, and trying on about 20 names, my son has picked....Ace!. So now we have Amos and Ace in the family. Look how much he has changed and grown since last week's post.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

abandoned baby boy

found at midnight by my son on a county road near our house
brought to me to babysit while the kids were at school, unnamed as yet

lets us know that he much prefers being outside, he can jump off the deck but can't get back up

discovered that he doesn't mind being indoors if he can sleep on someone's lap

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The mysterious hole

Amos sat outside in the same spot. I thought he was watching for the cranes that come to feed on our tank but he didn't chase after them as usual. I was busy in the house but after 2 hours I realized that he didn't come to the door to be let in so I was worried. He was still in the same spot that he had been and he was just looking at me. I called, he didn't come. I walked closer and he didn't move. I thought he was sick or hurt. When I got close enough, he got up and ran over to me as he usually did. Then I saw the hole. He had been guarding it. He stood over it, claiming it so I would get the message that it was his hole. Then he stuck his head in and dug. He was caked with dried mud from going into the tank inbetween the digging and the guarding.
Look at the stuff caked on his face and the fur on his chest.
Nothing came out of the hole, (a sigh of relief from me) but he guarded it for two days before he lost interest. I'm not sure what made the hole. It started out about 4 inches in diameter but Amos dug it out so that it was bigger. And, it was in hard, dry dirt. A complete mystery...