Welcome to Cranky Puppy Farm!

This blog belongs to two Gen X-er's smackdab in downtown Kansas City where we've been renovating and decorating two old Victorians built in the 1890's. Our life is filled with 3 demanding Pomeranians (1 of them cranky, of course), honking cars, noisy neighbors and the hustle and bustle of city life but we dream of the day when we can move to our 40-acre farm and hear nothing but the wind and the cows next door. Until then, we're chronicling our triumphs and mishaps here as we try to garden and preserve on 2 city lots, raise chickens, and learn all those things we should have learned from our grandparents. Welcome to our world - we hope you'll stay awhile!

Snowy End to 2012

Monday, December 31, 2012

Look at what greeted us this morning!

I told my staff to work from home today, as most people are on vacation, the weather is nasty and we always leave early the day before a holiday anyway.  Up and about early this morning, I headed out to take the girls a nice breakfast of scrambled eggs.  Fat and wet snowflakes were plopping down all around me and the neighborhood was quiet.  Not a soul was out except for me!  So I paused to take some pictures.

Then it was off to get the turkey ready for its suntan in the oven. We lucked out on a trip to Hyvee on Christmas Eve - they had a surplus of young turkeys and were selling them for $6.00! 

And, yes, that's a big ol' fat pat of butter resting on that birds thigh.  I'm drooling just thinking about yummy turkey dinner as the last meal of 2012.  What a better way to end the year than a night in with my honey, a nice dinner, a movie, a roaring fire and fresh snow falling outside?
Before I stuck the turkey in the oven, I wanted to try out a recipe for homemade oatmeal creme pies. To my delight, I discovered that I had 3 canisters of quick oats in addition to the one I just bought last weekend.  That's got to be some kind of mandate that I make a ton of these cookies, right?

Oatmeal Creme Pies

Ingredients (Oatmeal cookies)
  •  2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 stick butter (1/2 cup), softened
  • 1/4 cup shortening\Crisco
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 Tablespoons boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2-1/2 cups flour
  • 2 cups quick oats

DING!  Cookies are done!
Ingredients (Filling)
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
Directions for Cookies:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream brown sugar, butter, and shortening.
  3. Add eggs and mix.
  4. Add salt, cinnamon, and baking powder and mix.
  5. Mix baking soda and boiling water, then add to the bowl and mix.
  6. Add flour and mix well.
  7. Add oats and mix well.
  8. Scoop dough onto parchment-lined cookie sheets so that you have rounded heaping teaspoons.  I used my new cookie scoop.  Look at those perfectly rounded cookies.  I'm in love!)
  9. Bake for 10 minutes, being careful not to burn. Remove from oven, transfer to a cooling rack, and let the cookies cool completely.

Directions for Filling:
  1. Place milk in a small saucepan on the stove under medium heat. 
  2. While stirring constantly, add flour and whisk constantly until thick. Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature.
  3. Stir in vanilla.
  4. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy and all sugar grains are dissolved.
  5. Add the cooled milk/flour/vanilla mixture and beat it until it resembles whipped cream.  This will take awhile - don't freak out!  Have a cookie while you're mixing.  :-)
  6. Scoop a small amount onto cookies, pressing a second cookie on top.

What do you think?  Look yummy?  Right after I took this photo, it was in my belly.  :-)  And, yep, it was num-num-Y-U-M-M-Y!
The filling is to die-for, but you can also skip the effort and just use marshmallow fluff.  To keep the filling from oozing, refrigerate before you eat them.  You can freeze them as well.
So how are you going to celebrate New Years Eve?


Great News! Mother Earth Fair is Coming

Thursday, December 27, 2012

This is awesome news!  The Mother Earth News Fair is coming to Lawrence, KS - just 30 minutes from Kansas City!  The fair is going to be held over the weekend of October 12th and 13th in Watson Park in downtown Lawrence.

For those of you who aren't familiar with what this is: Mother Earth News is a print and online magazine devoted to all kind of self-sufficient topics like renewable and green energy, organic and sustainable gardening and farming, natural health, homesteading, etc. The website has lots of great content on these topics and available to anyone even if you don't subscribe to their magazine. (Go check it out!)

Mother Earth News hosts a series of fairs in Puyallup, WA and Seven Spring, PA every year that are designed to be "a family-oriented sustainable-lifestyle event that features dozens of practical, hands-on demonstrations and workshops from the leading authorities on real foor, renewable energy...etc.etc."  Those locations aren't exactly close to me and I refuse to fly while the TSA has carte blanch to grope everyone. That means a pretty long road trip. But I can definitely swing 30 miles. :-)

I had wanted to attend last year's Fair in Puyallup and just couldn't swing the trip.  From what I read, it was awesome.  You can take a look at the 2012 Program Guide online.  In addition to the poultry show and the heritage seed display, here's just a few of the sessions that I would have loved to sit in on:

  • Folks, This Ain't Normal (Joe Salatin!)
  • Poultry Breeds Roundup (Carol Ekarius)
  • DIY Solar Panels
  • Permaculture Gardens
  • Gardening With and For Chickens
  • Natural Beekeeping
  • Home Cheesemaking
  • Seed Saving for New Savers
  • Seed Starting Simplified
  • Moving Back to the Farm
  • The Edible Front Yard
  • Cultivating Wild Quality Medicine
  • Spinning

If you're interested in learning more, there's a Fair blog as well as a newsletter you can sign up for.  Tickets are already on sale for $15 for a weekend pass to the Lawrence Fair.  You can also volunteer to get free access to the entire event, but there's not alot of information about that.  I signed up to have them send me more info when it's available. Might be a great way to get involved.

Have you been to one of these?  I'd love to hear what you thought about it -- please leave a comment!

Oh, and by the way: you chicken owners might want to take a look at Mother Earth's Community Chickens forum - another great online place where you can post questions and learn about all things chicken! I have learned a ton from it and the forums on Backyard Chicken.

Glad Tidings to You

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Quiet as a Christmas Mouse

Monday, December 24, 2012

Hershey's Christmas Meeces
No mice in the house!  I've waged some pretty infamous battles against the mice that seem to make their way in when the temperature starts to drop.  But I think I'll make an exception to my rule for these cute little meeces!

J. and I are busy finishing up cookies to take to his mom's house tomorrow afternoon and we decided to make some of these.  They were a big hit at my office Christmas party a couple of years ago and get eaten up wherever we take them. This is a great project for kids, as they are insanely easy to make and irresistibly adorable! 

Want to make some of these?  Here's how:


  • Sliced almonds
  • Hershey's kisses (any flavor, I used Cherry Cordial Kisses this time)
  • Milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate (chocolate chips melt better than baking bars)
  • Maraschino cherries with stems
  • White and red icing in a squeeze bottle
  • Parchment paper (or wax paper)

  1. Place a square of parchment or wax paper on the counter as your work space.
  2. Unwrap as many Hershey's Kisses as you need.  Don't forget to add at least 5 to the number, because you KNOW you are going to eat some of them while you're making these.
  3. Wash and drain the cherries and carefully pat dry.
  4. Melt the chocolate in a dish small enough to dip the cherries into.  This usually takes about 15 to 20 seconds, depending on how powerful your microwave is.  Stir it so that it's nice and creamy.
  5. Holding the cherry by the stem, dip it in the chocolate until the entire cherry is covered.
  6. Place the cherry sideways on the parchment paper.  I like to turn the stems different directions so that each mouse is different.
  7. Immediately attach a Hershey's kiss on the opposite side of the stem.  The kiss is the mouse's head.  You may need to hold them together for a couple of seconds until the chocolate cools and attaches the two together. 
  8. Dip the ends of two sliced almonds in the chocolate and place them between the kiss and the cherry.  Again, hold until attached.  These are the mouse's ears!
  9. Use the white icing to create two little dots for the mouse's eyes.
  10. Use the red icing on the end of the kiss to create the mouse's nose.
  11. Repeat until you're tired of making these.  And if a few should get eaten, well.....we won't tell, will we?  That's called quality control.
  12. Let the mice sit until the chocolate is set up. If you're in a hurry, you could pop them in the frig.

Oh, and one last thing.  If the chocolate starts to seize up while you're making these, here's a trick:  put a drop or two of vegetable oil in it and it will smooth out again.

At the Christmas party, I served these on a bed of coconut, which looked alot like snow.  There are all kinds of fun ways that you can serve that and, actually, there's no reason why you can't make these all year round.

I hope you enjoyed seeing our latest project.  Squeak, squ-EAK! **

** Merry Christmas in mouse-speak.  Or maybe it's "Don't eat me!"

I've shared this recipe as part of this week's Simple Living WednesdayBackyard Farming Connection Hop, Farm Girl Blog Fest, Farmgirl Friday, and Clever Chicks Blog Hop. 

1893 Victorian: The Porch Rebuild

Sunday, December 23, 2012

So back to that crazy 1893 Victorian we were working on...
In my last post, I talked about how we had just bought the house and were dying to get started on fixing that wrap-around porch.  And get started we did!
The porch roof was actually fine (or so we thought), so first things first:  how to support the roof so that we could work on the deck? 

The rickety stairs are gone!
We had to cobble together 10 of these supports to hold the roof of the porch while we worked underneath to remove the columns and replace the deck.  We had used this pretty simple and strong design on our own porch with great success, so we used it again on this project.  These are treated 10 foot long 4"x4" posts topped with "triangles" made from treated 2"x4"'s.  Everything was bolted together, as we didn't want nails failing and the roof coming down on our heads!
We used floor jacks to jack up each section of roof so that we could get the porch column out and then jacked it back done onto the support. This is a painstaking process, as it all has to be done by hand with a wrench that moves the whole thing 1/4" at a time!
With the roof supported, it as time to start ripping off the old rotted floorboards and dismantling the deck.  The rot was much worse than we imagined.

You'll often hear me say "they don't build 'em like they used to" but, in this case, that's a good thing.  Those pictures show years and years of water damage to wood that was over 100 years old.  Honestly, we didnt' understand what kept this old porch still standing.  I suspect it would have fallen off the house in another year or two. 
In addition to the rot, the porch wasn't built right to begin with.  First, it wasn't even attached to the house.  (Yes, you read that right!)  The boards just fit into slots in the brick.  The span was too long for the supporting 2"x8" joists, which caused the porch to sag.  You can see where they tried to fix it in that lower left-hand picture where there's a 2"x4" attached to the 2"x8".
And, if that wasn't bad enough, the whole thing was supported on the edge by a series of brick columns that were crumbling and were just dug into the ground about 8 inches.  I literally took the columns apart by hand. Frost would have caused this deterioration and would also cause the whole porch to "heave" with each freeze and thaw.  This brick columns would have to be replaced with actual concrete footers dug all the way below the frostline at 32" down.  J.'s grandfather's antique posthole digger made short work of it.
Once the footings were poured, it was time to start rebuilding.

The brick columns were replaced with treated 6"x6" posts sitting on the newly poured footers.  We added more footings\posts than there were originally so that we could cut the span of each section in half and make the deck stronger.  Instead of 16' sections, we had 8' sections.  We also added more joists in each section than the original deck and secured everything with screws and joist hangers.  The rim board (the board against the house) was secured to the foundation with Tapcon conrete\stone screws.
This new deck isn't moving one bit and is built to last.

We worked one section at a time, putting in the joists and leveling everything.  Notice the slight slope from the house to the front of the porch.  This will make sure that moisture runs off and doesn't cause those rot problems again.
Then we got to the tricky curved part of the porch.

Again, not the optimal way to build this.  It's no wonder this edge of the porch had sunk 6 inches!  If you look closely at the upper left-hand corner of picture above, you'll see where the end of the curve IS NO LONGER ATTACHED.  It had rotted completely away, leaving that part of the curve unsupported.

The trickiest part of the whole rebuild was figuring out where to place the interim post to support the middle of the curve.   Do you remember your algebra?  We needed it for this part of the project.
And here's the newly finished deck.  Yep, it's a triangle.  You can't build a curve out of straight wood but we came darn close.  We would make the perfect circular curve later on with the flexible trim boards.

Next up was putting on the deck.  We had a local lumber company deliver treated tongue and groove floor boards (traditional flooring for these old Victorian porches).  The easiest way to do this is to run the boards long and cut them off later with a circular saw. 
We had to do diagonal cuts where the two sections met in the middle of the curve.  A rented floor nailer and rubber mallet were the only other tools we needed to get the floor laid.

One thing I want to make sure I point out in the above picture is the temporary post on the right-hand side.  You'll notice it's sitting on a white square.  That's actually white Azek, which is a composite board made out of wood and recycled plastic.  It is termite resistant and will never rot. 
Since there was such a problem with rot in the old porch, we decided to nail and glue a square of Azek on top of the post supporting the deck to protect it from rot from the top.  It also allows the floor boards to removed and replaced without removing the porch columns.  The squares wouldn't be visible, as they would be under the bases of the porch columns.  How's that for thinking ahead?

And here's the new porch floor sporting a new haircut and 2 fresh coats of porch paint.  To figure out where to cut the radius of the circle, we used a pencil and a piece of string attached to the corner of the house. 
It was fall, and the leaves were trying their darndest to mess up my paint job, but we finally got it done.  Other than the edges, which we did by brush, the whole thing was rolled with a paint roller attached to a pole.  That made pretty good work of it.

Finally, we turned our attention to the columns.  Some of them were in pretty bad shape and had various lengths of rot on the bottom.  These columns are solid wood and heavy with a capital H!  We looked for a column that we could cannibalize at some of the antique places in town but couldn't find anything that was right.  Luckily, we found someone in Ohio that could turn a solid wood log to the right diameter and ship it to us.

We first had to cut any of the rotten columns back to solid wood.   As you can see, the one in the above picture had a good 2 feet or so that was rotten.  We then used heavy duty construction adhesive and dowels to attach the two pieces together.  Then everything had to be stripped, sanded and prepped for painting.
The last step was attaching new bases and tops. We wanted to do everything that we could to prevent moisture issues with this porch so we were ecstatic to find that Home Depot carried sets of recycled plastic porch bases\tops.  These are load-bearing, will never rot and can be painted.  And they easily attaced with exterior screws.

J. almost got me in the picture! 
These are two of the columns all ready to be put in their spot on the new porch.  You can see another one drying in the background.  This process took a long time because we wanted the porch posts to really look nice.  I think they came out great!
Whew!  This post was pic heavy and I appreciate your sticking around through the whole thing.  In my next post on this project, we'll get these porch posts in place and start working on the roof.  I hope you'll join me...

UPDATE 1/6/2013:  Wanna go inside?

It's the End of the Silliness, and I Feel Fine

Friday, December 21, 2012

See more "end of the world" humor at http://politicalhumor.about.com/library/bl-end-of-the-world.htm.
I guess we're all supposed to die today in some big comet strike, supervolcano erruption, zombie apocalypse, nuclear war, or some other such nonsense. I actually woke up today with R.E.M.'s "It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" going through my head as I peeked with one eye to see if I was indeed fine. Nothing seems amiss so far. I'm starting to think some ancient civilizations are playing a joke on us.

Maybe the cataclysm just hasn't happened yet? Did the Mayans or the Hopi Indians give a timeframe? Just in case, I decided to take the day off and bake cookies. There's no way I'm spending my supposed last day on this earth at work.

Before we pawn this off as just another day,...there IS something special today and a reason to celebrate. It's Winter Solstice! That means that the nights are getting shorter and the days are getting longer.  To many ancient cultures, this day signaled the end of the "dark days".  We hit that mark at 5:11 a.m. this morning here at the farm.  

Now that is a reason to celebrate! Well, that and cookies.  Party on, my fellow citizens of Earth, party on.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Cranky Puppy household went to bed last night to the sound of thunder and pelting rain with a little hail mixed in for good measure.  The winds were howling at 30 to 40 mph.  When we woke this morning, we were greeted with what the local weatherguesser is calling blizzard or near blizzard conditions.  Not because we got alot of snow (only about 2 to 2.5 inches), but because of that crazy wind that, even now, is whistling around the corner of the house and rattling the storm doors. 
We desperately need the moisture because we're about 17 inches below normal here.  So I'm glad to see it, and it certainly does help lift my currently Grinchish mood to see all that white.  But, despite the Highway Patrol saying we should all stay home because of terrible visibility, the University I work for hasn't closed so I need to venture out and hope no one runs into me.  Thank goodness we own Jeeps, as they are awesome in just about any weather.

J. trying to clear off our treacherously sloped driveway.  Did I ever mention what a good man I am blessed to have?
Up at our real farm, we should see 6 or more inches from this storm.  We won't be able to make it up there because the highway is now closed all the way from Kansas City up to the Iowa border.  But just thinking of standing in the middle of our land and looking out over all that white with snowflakes falling all around is a calming mental picture.  I'm not sure about you guys, but I could use some calm around this time of the year.
As usual, J. just can't wait until the big day, and we've started the "7 Days of Christmas".  I think it was the "10 Days of Christmas" last year, so he did manage to hold out for 3 days more this year.  Each night we get to open one of our presents.  One of my presents is ultra-cool:  a reCAP lid for wide mouth canning jars.  This will be great for dressings and soups.  J. was ecstatic over a new rifle bag. (And don't tell him, but I actually think spreading Christmas over several days is more fun, even if it seems a bit naughty.)
Stay warm, my friends!

1893 Victorian: On the Porch

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

So I'm back to the land of the living but this cold is still hanging around like that unwanted house guest that just won't leave. Still coughing like crazy and tired off and on - it's not a great combination with all the hustle and bustle of the holiday.  In fact, I didn't realize that yesterday was my boss's last day so I totally didn't get his Christmas card to him before he left!  Ugh...I am so late with everything this year.  I hope you guys are doing better than I am.
I want to thank Mary Ann over at Calamity Acres for reminding me that I need to get some more pictures on here of our 1893 Victorian project.  My last post was a before and after of the outside and, since we have to cross the front porch to go inside, I thought I would start with some pictures of the porch project.
When we bought the house, the porch was in a terrible state.  From our own porch across the street, we'd watched with despair as it deteriorated for over 10 years.  Rather than repair the rotting floor boards, the owner had just put thin plywood over it.  That just served to trap leaves, water and snow on the boards, making the rot even worse. 

Watch your step!
In that picture above, the stairs were held on with only one lonely nail (and maybe alot of tradition!)  We were both surprised that someone didn't get seriously hurt while the owner was moving out.

The porch railing wasn't original and had been rebuilt at some point.  It was built too low to the porch floor and too simple for the Victorian house, but it did serve it's purpose.  At least it did while it was still attached and not rotten.  I grabbed the railing on the right and tugged and it came off in my hands.  All of it was rotten from water rot - all those leaves had gotten stuck under the railing and around the columns and, with no gutter on the porch, they were continually wet.

See that column in the above picture?  It's one of six holding up the porch roof.  There's supposed to be 3 inches of square base under it.  It's just.....gone.  Rotted away into non-existence.  Our fear was that we were going to find a termite colony somewhere in this mess, but we were fortunate.  The only critters we found were some well-fed carpenter ants in the base of this column.  To get rid of their tunnels and cut away the rot, we had to cut off almost 2 feet of the bottom of this porch column and replace it.  Luckily, we were able to find someone that could turn a 10" round out of solid wood.  Columns today are hollow!


The porch was sitting on a series of brick piers that were sitting on the ground with no footings underneath them.  Because of the column rot and piers that were sinking or falling over, the porch roof was taking a toll.  If you look closely at the picture above, you'll see where the porch was separating from the wall of the house.  We would have to figure out a creative way to pull it back in after we fixed the structural issues.
Now you've seen how bad the damage was when we started.  I couldn't wait to fix this beautiful wrap-around porch and we started pretty much right away after we bought the house.  Since this is rather pic heavy, I'm going to show you all the fun we went through during the rebuild process in my next post.
See you soon!

Christmas with Grandma

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Is that not a beautiful rendition of Santa?  That's a late 1800's woodcut image of the Jolly Old Man himself from Harper's Weekly.  I think it's just stunningly beautiful.

My doctor says I have bronchitis and should stay home and rest this week, so that's right where I am right now now.  On the sofa with some more hot chocolate!  My sister-in-law sent me an email with a really cute story that made me smile, so I thought I would share it with you today.   I hope it makes you smile as well.

~~**~~**~~ Christmas with Grandma ~~**~~**~~
(author unknown)

My Grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me. I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her "world-famous" cinnamon buns. I knew they were world-famous, because Grandma said so. It had to be true.

Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm. Between bites, I told her everything. She was ready for me. "No Santa Claus?" she snorted...."Ridiculous! Don't believe it. That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad, plain mad!! Now, put on your coat, and let's go."

"Go? Go where, Grandma?" I asked. I hadn't even finished my second world-famous cinnamon bun. "Where" turned out to be Kerby's General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything. As we walked through its doors, Grandma handed me ten dollars. That was a bundle in those days. "Take this money," she said, "and buy something for someone who needs it. I'll wait for you in the car." Then she turned and walked out of Kerby's.

I was only eight years old. I'd often gone shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by myself. The store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping.

For a few moments I just stood there, confused, clutching that ten-dollar bill, wondering what to buy, and who on earth to buy it for.

I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my friends, my neighbors, the kids at school, the people who went to my church.

I was just about thought out, when I suddenly thought of Bobby Decker. He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock's grade-two class. Bobby Decker didn't have a coat. I knew that because he never went out to recess during the winter. His mother always wrote a note, telling the teacher that he had a cough, but all we kids knew that Bobby Decker didn't have a cough; he didn't have a good coat. I fingered the ten-dollar bill with growing excitement. I would buy Bobby Decker a coat!

I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it. It looked real warm, and he would like that.

"Is this a Christmas present for someone?" the lady behind the counter asked kindly, as I laid my ten dollars down. "Yes, ma'am," I replied shyly. "It's for Bobby."

The nice lady smiled at me, as I told her about how Bobby really needed a good winter coat. I didn't get any change, but she put the coat in a bag, smiled again, and wished me a Merry Christmas.

That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat (a little tag fell out of the coat, and Grandma tucked it in her Bible) in Christmas paper and ribbons and wrote, "To Bobby, From Santa Claus" on it.

Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy. Then she drove me over to Bobby Decker's house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially, one of Santa's helpers.

Grandma parked down the street from Bobby's house, and she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk. Then Grandma gave me a nudge. "All right, Santa Claus," she whispered, "get going."

I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his door and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma.

Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open. Finally it did, and there stood Bobby.

Fifty years haven't dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my Grandma, in Bobby Decker's bushes. That night, I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were -- ridiculous. Santa was alive and well, and we were on his team.

I still have the Bible, with the coat tag tucked inside:$19.95.

May you always have LOVE to share,

HEALTH to spare and FRIENDS that care...

And may you always believe in the magic of Santa Claus!

I've shared this post with Homestead Revival's Barn Hop for this week.  It's a great place to learn and share - go check it out!

Really?! Weekend Recap

Monday, December 10, 2012

Here we are just shy of two weeks before Christmas and I'm sick still sick.  I've had this creeping crud for over a week now and it just doesn't want to let go of my lungs.  So I hope you forgive me for not posting for the past several days, but I have been busy with other things...like trying to breath in between coughing up what looks to be peanut butter.  Yum...that was a tasty visualization.

J. and I did venture out for a short time this weekend, as we had some errands that just couldn't wait:  an appointment to get the Jeep serviced and he needed help getting all the dogs to the groomers for their Christmas haircut.  (You know, if you have to say "all the dogs", maybe you have too many?  Nah....)

Saturday morning brought a heavy, dangerous fog to Kansas City.  Here's a picture of the on-ramp to major interstate I-70.  Cars were disappearing completely about 5 feet into that mess.  I was pretty scared about driving in it.

While we were out braving the weather, we did pickup some pretty good freebies with coupons:

  • 8 pairs of Timberland boot socks for FREE from Gordman's (retail value $60!)
  • 2 big canisters of Maxwell House coffee for $2.49 from CVS
  • a bag of ground coffee FREE from World Market
  • 4 bags of holiday Hershey's candy for FREE from CVS
  • 3 Hallmark Christmas cards for FREE from CVS (for the girls at work!)
  • a gallon of milk for just $2.00 from CVS
  • $112 in chicken feed for $67 from Tractor Supply
  • $200 in gift cards for our favorite restaurants for $140 from Target (great stocking stuffers!)

The retailers are giving away stuff left and right this year in an effort to get shoppers in the stores.  Pretty darn sad.  These people that say our economy is getting better aren't living in the same world that we are.  I am grateful, however, that these deals allow us to save some money.

Last night brought bitter 16-degree cold to the farm, and J. was kind enough to rig up the brooder light in the main coop.  Thank goodness I have such a good man.  When I checked this morning, it was a balmy 32 degrees in there, so the girls should have been pretty comfy.  And Henrietta has her own heater with a fan.  I worried about them all night - sleeping was just a dream with all this snot in my nose.  (Again, yum!)

Well, I hope you'll excuse me now as the sofa and some hot chocolate is calling my name.  I may be sick, but there's no such thing as too sick for chocolate.

If you don't hear from me in another 5 days, send a HazMat crew my way, would ya?

Easy Cinnamon Roll Pie Crust

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

How are you coming on your Christmas decs, meal plans, and gift wrapping?  J. and I are a little late because, while the weather has been cooperating with a balmy 60+ degrees every day, we both have both been under the weather.  He woke up Saturday morning with a terrible migraine and sinus pressure that quickly turned into a snot fountain.  I ran the errands by myself on Saturday only to come home with the same thing.  It's kept me home from work both Monday and today with no voice and the snots.  I suspect Kleenex stock is shooting up because of me right now, but I haven't the energy to look.

J., on the other hand, is back at work and he felt good enough last night to put up some of our outside decorations.  He did a good job, don't you think?  I had some of those cheap red outdoor bows and they faded after a year.  I priced some replacements at anywhere between $4.99 and $11.99 not on sale (but who pays retail anyway?!) and decided to buy some big rolls of ribbon and make my own.  The green and red mesh was $1.00 and red and gold ribbon was $5.00 at Old Time Pottery. I have enough to make another entire set next year if these fade or get torn up.  And, for some reason, I'm really into lime and red this year.  If anyone really wants to know how I made these, let me know and I'll post a tutorial.

Anyway, what else is there to do when you're sick except sit around and wish you could do something else?  I was craving apple pie yesterday and surfing around on the web and found a recipe for cinnamon roll pie crust made with Pillsbury ready-made pie crusts.  It is so easy and SOOOOO yummy, that you have to try it.  Here's what I did:

Beautiful Jonagold and Honeycrisps made their way into my pie. Aren't they gorgeous?

Ingredients for Dutch Apple Pie with Cinnamon Roll Pie Crust

Pie Crust
1 package Pillsbury Ready-Made pie crust (or make your own)
Cinnamon, to suit 

Pie filling
7 to 10 large apples, preferably of 2 different varieties (5 1/2 cups prepped)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar (omit if using super-sweet apples)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 

Streusel topping (optional)
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup butter or margarine at room temperature 

Step 1.  Prepare the pie filling

1.  Prep the apples by peeling them, removing the cores and seeds, and then either slicing in thin slices or cubing them.  I've found that small cubes or thin slices tend to fill the pie a little better.

Mixing in the huge Ironstone bowl that J. gave me last Christmas!  Just like my grandma's....

2. In a large bowl, mix the sliced apples, lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon together.
3. Set aside.  Now you're ready to.....

Step 2.  Prepare the pie crust

1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Prepare the Pillsbury pie crust.  It needs to be room temperature, so follow the steps on the box if you just took it out of the freezer.
3.  On a piece of parchment paper, carefully unroll one of the pie crusts.  Brush the entire crust with melted butter.
4.  Sprinkle cinnamon liberally over the whole crust.  You can add as much cinnamon as you want.
5. Roll the crust back up as tightly as you can.
6. With a sharp knife, cut the roll into 1/4" pieces.  These will look like tiny little cinnamon rolls when you're done!
7.  Press these into the bottom of your pie plate and press them together so that there are no spaces between the pieces.  You can also use a spring form pan to make it easier to get the pie out.  Personally, I like glass pie plates because they seem to bake more evenly.  I just wish I had a deep dish glass one!  (*hint hint* to J. if you're reading this...Christmas is coming up, ya know!)

By the way, I know mine is not as pretty as this one.  But I'm sick and I'm going to eat it anyway. So pppbbbbbbbtttttt!

8.  At this point, you can top the pie any way you like.  I considered doing a lattice top with the other pie crust but then decided that there just wasn't enough sweetness in the pie to cure my cold.  So I made a dutch streusel.  It's much quicker and my recipe is below.

Step 3.  Prepare the topping (optional)

1.  In a medium bowl, add all the topping ingredients together and mix with a fork until coarsely crumbled.
2.  Cover all of the apples evently with the streusel mixture.  The pie is going to look ridiculously tall when you're done but don't worry...it will bake down to normal size.
3:   Bake for 50 minutes at 400 degrees (or whatever your pie recipe calls for).

While it didn't cure my cold, it did made me feel better while I was eating it.  Warm apple pie with fresh vanilla bean ice cream.  Yum!  I hope you'll give this one a try.

This post was shared as part of the Backyard Farming Connection Hop and Barn Hop.  Go check out what everybody else is up to!
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