Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011 and Happy Birthday Denise!

Hi All

I am  lucky to work for a company that gave me Friday the 23rd off, as well as Monday the 26th off for Christmas vacation. Nick had to work so I left on the 23rd to go to the house to start prepping the fruit tree area. When I bought the house it was vacant for over 9 months or more including the really hot summer months. The people before had planted a bunch of fruit trees but not many survived that long without water. Nick has removed some of the dead ones for me and I have ordered some new ones from the Rising Sun Nursery. Apple trees, including heirloom Arkansas Black, Mutsu and Granny Smith. I was up at the house working on those areas and the couple of new trees I planted last year, as well as the vegetable garden. We have had a seriously dry winter so far and I had to water the orange and grapefruit trees, and the lasagna garden is not breaking down as fast as I would like. Here are some pictures of the garden area:

This is the area I planted last year, I just roto-tilled it this weekend.

This is the lasagna area patch... it is not breaking down fast as I would like since there hasn't been much rain.

Nick took out all the old dead trees but left me the stump of this old peach tree. Not sure what he thought I would do with it?

I guess I need to explain, in the fruit tree area there is an old swingset that is cemented into the ground. I have muddled about what to do with it including create a compost pile and a trellis area to grow peas and beans. But I think I have it now... a chicken coop structure. Can you see it? It is about 12 feet long and if I can get it enclosed in something and have nest boxes and the like it would be a great chicken coop. The only issue is that the veggie garden is in the same area so I would have to keep them out of there... not sure how that would work.
It has been just blistering cold all over lately... even in Moraga it is 24 degrees in the morning. Here are pictures of the front area after I watered the day before and it froze.

Water drops frozen solid on the grass.

 And Finally! Christmas and the TurDuckHen..
I drove to my parent's house in Madera on Christmas day to meet up with them, nick, my sister and her family and my foster brother and his wife. Since we are from the "south" I have been wanting to try a turducken for dinner... (okay we are from southern california, but our roots go back to New Orleans. In fact, I saw our old family name on the church there in New Orleans, but that is another story.) Here are pictures from that event....
Chase - Denise's 3 year old yellow lab, just 90 lbs of enthusiasm.

Laine with her I pod touch

Lily - Mom's feral cat who is now queen of the house if she so deigns.

Princess Sophie watching Queen Lily

I got Nick a new cook book, yes he loves to cook... lucky for any future wife of his.

Sophie and Nick
Christmas Tree at Mom's house

Turducken before we cut it.

View of all the layers of a turducken

Jacob and Nick at their own table with their own platter of meat. The two of them can do some damage to food.

Denise is trying to figure out her new Kindle fire (Jealous!) and dad is drinking his wine in the background...things can get crazy at the holidays. We had 3 dogs, 1 cat, 2 kids, 1 teenager and a bunch of tired adults... but things work out. You can't let it get to you. What is a perfect Christmas anyway? Do you remember the ones that go off without a hitch? Nope... you remember the ones where the Bumpus hounds steal the turkey and you have to go to a Chinese restaurant for dinner. (Bonus Points - name the movie this is from and the song the waiters sing!) I love the chaos of it all which I can't stand in my regular life, because it means that these people are special to me. They are family and even if we have strange conversations like why I open the dishwasher to dry or aren't we heading into the change yet (which chased Matt from the kitchen) it is okay. We all know that no matter what we are family and we love each other. Stopped up toilets and all...

Moving on to 2012 and the end of the world!! (just kidding... I hope!)


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Saturday Dec 17th 2011

Just to give you an update, the party was fabulous! I had a great time..

Today I ordered 2 kitchen faucets for the Moraga house because I need to update the sink and faucet. Why did I order 2? Well because I liked them both but I need to see them in person to make up my mind. I ordered them from (aka which has free shipping and returns so I figured why not?  See pictures below.. once I decide I will go get a new sink and put it in together. Will get you pictures of that too... really not hard just that whole plumbing thing.

Also, I am heading out to a cookie swap in my neighborhood here. I joke about the town of Moraga being a bit like Stepford but sometimes it really is.. here is what I made for that party.

Fudgy Peanut Butter Jiffy Cookies ( no bake)

2 cups granulated sugar
½ cup evaporated milk
½ cup butter
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 ½ cups uncooked oats (quick or old fashioned)
½ cup peanut butter (smooth)
½ cup raisins or chopped dates
2 teaspoons vanilla

In large saucepan, combine sugar, milk, butter and cocoa. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Continue boiling 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in oats, peanut butter, raisins and vanilla mix well. Quickly drop by tablespoonfuls onto waxed paper or greased cookie sheet. Let stand until set. Store tightly at room temperature. 
( From a book called, "The Great American Cookie Cookbook", that my friend Marie gave me one year for Christmas.)

My favorite but it is really tall... I am afraid it will overwhelm the area.

Much smaller but i am not sure about that black hose.