30 November 2013

Putting a Bird (or 2) On It

It being our Thanksgiving Day table.

This year we hosted Thanksgiving at our house and we were a bit fickle about what to serve so we decided to go with a few options.

We had a free turkey in the freezer from earlier this year when we bought the requisite amount from our local grocery.  Scott thought it might be freezer burned because it sounded crusty inside the bag, but we thawed it in the fridge for a couple of days and then decided to try brining it using this recipe.  This was Tuesday night and we flipped the briny bird on Wednesday night. We used 2 poultry bags to contain the turkey and kept it in a cleaned out crisper bin. We did not add any ice because the turkey was not quite thawed out when we put it in the brine. Bygones!


We got a nice sized ham to complement the turkey and we also got a duck. I opted to cook the duck the night before because I only have one good roasting pan and that needed to be clean for the main dish. I watched a cool video on the Simplest Roast Duck, then I checked out Martha's Roast Duck 101 and then I got to it. The simplest roast called for rubbing the duck down and storing for 24 hours in the fridge uncovered to let the skin dry out a bit but I didn't have 24 hours so I winged it.

I quick thawed the duck under running water, wrestled the neck out of the cavity and trimmed away the excess fat and skin (reserving for Emi to render later). Feeling a bit like Dexter, I used a small paring knife to make small slits in the duck skin to help with the basting. I tossed some cut up potatoes in the bottom of the pan, heaved the mutilated duck into the dish, breast side down and let it roast away for the better part of 2 hours on Thanksgiving Eve. I checked out options for reheating the duck properly and getting the most out of your duck while I was waiting on the duck to roast.

After the duck was cooling on the counter, I made a pan of Pecan Crack which was a hit (no surprise!)

Pecan Crack

Around noon we took the turkey out of the brine (saving the herbs to reuse), then we rinsed the turkey, stuffed it with the herbs, apples, lemons, garlic and onion, and tied up the legs and wings.  I rubbed it down with some olive oil and let it thaw on the counter for a bit. I ended up going with Elise's tips for her mom's turkey and I did not regret it.  It was delicious!

By the time the birds were done roasting, things were in full swing at our house and I did not get any pictures of the birds whole, reading for carving. The best I can offer is pics of my BIL carving the duck and my husband carving the turkey. I did get a cool picture of my vegan turkey that was also a big hit.

Vegan Bird

Carving the Duck

Carving the Turkey

We had a full house for dinner and very little leftovers but it was a great time!

Hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving too!

17 November 2013

Crafty Flexibility

Two years ago I found a craft to do that I thought would be helpful in garnering a thankful attitude at Thanksgiving. I talked myself out of doing that craft because I didn't want to have a duplicate item to clean, care for and store. (we have a French message board for holiday cards which can be used for this purpose.)

Isn't that precious?
Recently we took a trip to Hobby Lobby to get some supplies for lingering art projects... and you know how this story ends. Stuff finds its way into the cart and 1 project grows into 20. I checked out the frames but thought they were too nice and also too much money for my project.

So I found a cool frame for $7 at Salvation Army (we already had the twine and clothespins) and had removed the glass and was hunting for eye screws when I saw the Chevron wrapping paper in the corner and things took a new route.

Chevron Love
I'm loving the B&W chevron!
So then I decided to scrap the blessing board in favor of another wall hanging project I've been wanting to do. Family silhouettes! I wanted to do this the quickest easiest way so I found a tutorial on making silhouettes in PSE to print and started down that path.  When I found out that we didn't have a lot of ink in the printer things changed course yet again and I went back to First Grade thinking. (Note: I think the silhouettes done as in the tutorial would make some very cool cards in the future)

I decided to make the silhouettes in pencil sketch and use them to cut out the actually silhouettes in black posterboard (so much cheaper). So late last night I had the profiles ready but when I put them on the cool chevron board, the seemed to need something to make them pop. I grabbed that leftover ocean green paint and got busy (messy) and by this point I was ready for the craft to be done.

Eh! I am thinking I was a little rash with the paint...

I am not thoroughly pleased with how it turned out but I am very happy it didn't cost me much money or time.

I AM glad I didn't toss the glass as I originally intended and I can always scrap this paper and have another go it it. I actually have some red and white chevron paper that might be better to add our silhouettes to... for now, I am done with this one...  

15 November 2013


A couple of weeks ago we enjoyed this...


and this...

019 copy

And then the temperatures dipped below freezing for a single night and were were left with this...


and this....

It's a good thing Aubri and I collected the beautiful leaves for our collages when we did...

Autumn Collage

"In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on." - Robert Frost

05 November 2013

Fall Contrasts

I am loving the color that Fall has brought to our world...


Glorious Red
This red is not in my yard but I wish it was....

Speaking of changes, this picture was from last year:


And this was from this past weekend. I thought about the top picture when I was snapping the bottom picture.


Some changes are more subtle than others...

Operation: Candy Retrieval

Scott and I didn't dress up for Halloween this year, but 60% of our household did! And with our supervision, they hustled in a metric ton (or 3 big bags) of confectionary goodness into our home.

Kitty Kat, Iron Man and Leonardo

Emi even had some cool contacts to make her cat costume complete. I thought she looked creepy in an exotic way and I was glad when she decided to take them out. Not because of the creepiness, but because I watched the news reports regarding those special lenses and saw the pictures of what happens when contacts are abused.

Cat Eyes

We opted to stay in our neighborhood this year vice traveling to friends' neighborhoods and it was really enjoyable - a perfect night to see old friends and even an owl! What is it with us and nature?

We took Gracie for an early morning run/walk this past Saturday and we saw a FOX (again!). And you know what?  It didn't say anything....

04 November 2013


We've been spending some time digging in the front yard lately.  After so many years of trying to weed out the Johnson grass (?) from the Monkey Grass and to shape the Quince, we've called it quits on both offenders.

  Moved Borders

See? That was a gnarled messy clump of shrubs, monkey grass and johnson grass...
I thought I might regret digging up the Quince, but I don't. Maybe for a second when I discovered some tiny (now dead) snakes living in the base of the quince.  The only thing that was allowed to stay in that area is the Echinacea and I hope it grows back thicker next year.

I think it looks better without the quince...of course we need a load of dirt to even things out now but....

Natural Beauty
I may miss it in the spring though.... lucky for me I have another huge Quince in the back yard!

I spent a lot of time digging in the flower beds too and while I am not completely done with the monkey grass eradication effort, I am done with this bed for now.


I don't normally plant a lot of stuff this time of year but in the middle of digging up so much I needed to make a run to Home Depot. I came back with some pretty mums that needed to go into that bed. No biggie. The rest of the projects involve taking things out so stayed tuned for some really ugly "before" pictures and hopefully some nice "after" photos.

03 November 2013

Birthday Girl

Look at this cutie! I wonder what she was wishing...

Sweet Aubri

She's 5 now. And so mature. And sweet and loving...and only ornery when she has to be....

Sweet Birthday Girl

And she says "please" and "thank you" and she scratches my back and helps me in the kitchen. It's no wonder that I love her!

Happy Birthday, baby girl!