December 27, 2009

A Montague Christmas

A special treat for all the family that couldn't make it to the annual Montague Christmas get-together.

Wow, there were a lot of us and if I count right, I think that was really only about half the grandkids. We are multiplying fast. :o)

I'm going to try and list everyone that made it, by family. If I missed you I am so sorry. And if I spelled your name wrong, again, I'm sorry.

Jon & Debbie - Joel, Dee and William. Jesse.

David & Maryanne - Brian

Jerry & Darla - Shannon w/Brett and his 3 kids, Abby and Miah, Amanda and London

Tom & Jaynan - Chris, Gretchen and Hayley

Karen & Dan - Stephani, Jim, Elizabeth, Micaela and Nicholas. Kristi, Brad, Kaitlyn, Eli and Mason

Doesn't seem like so many when I right it down. That house was really packed last night.

Here are some of the highlights:

Some of the womenfolk getting the food around

While the menfolk stood around talking.

Everyone gathering to pray for the meal.

Standing in line for the enormous amount of food. All good of course.

The kids table.

Sitting around.

The pile for the gift exchange. Sorry folks, no real craziness here. Very little gift taking and no goofy antics by Tom or Jerry. Please do better next year. :o)
Dave also insists that at least one present must contain a sizable amount of chocolate, please.

What is Christmas without Santa?

Passing out presents for G&G.

G&G opening their gifts.

This present brought tears to their eyes. I believe it was from Dave & Maryanne.

A picture of the gift that brought the tears.

And here is a special gift. A video of Grandpa reading the Christmas story. It's short only because I didn't want it too big to upload here. favorite pic. These cupcakes were sooo cute. Almost too cute too eat.

Merry Christmas!!

December 23, 2009

Fiber Fun Wednesday -- The Drop Spindle, Part 2

I did it.

I spun the fiber and made YARN!!

Yes, I sure did.

Now, it may be the ugliest, chunkiest monstrosity that has ever been seen, but I made it and I love it!

I waited until the hubby was off to work and the kids were asleep in their beds so I could work undisturbed. I started with 1.5 oz of an alpaca/bamboo mix. Oh, it felt like heaven in my hands. I watched the YouTube videos I'd saved about a million times and then I felt I was ready to start.

Even after predrafting, my drafting sucked. That's okay though because now I know how to make a really chunky yarn. :o) See, there's a bright side here.

By the end I was sort of getting the hang of it. At some points it almost looked like a worsted weight instead of really, really bulky. Just need to learn to draft out fewer fibers.

I finished it up, plied it and wound it on my new niddy noddy. The grand total......17 yards. Wow, that's bad right? I should have gotten a lot more out of it I think.

I'm sure I'll do better next time. I have a blue/green wool sitting here that's begging to be a hat. Maybe I'll take it with me to all those Christmas parties I have to go to and spin it up. If nothing else, it's one heck of a conversation starter.

December 17, 2009

Lizzie's First Solo Baking Adventure

Lizzie has cooked and baked a few things over time, but always with my help. Well, these cookies had to be baked and I didn't have the time so I let Lizzie loose in the kitchen.

The cookie dough was already made courtesy of Grandma which only left the baking part. I gave Liz a little advise and left her to use the oven on her own.

She rolled the balls, placed them in the oven and set the timer with no help from me. She did great!!

I will admit I hovered a little at first, but I didn't touch a single ounce of cookie dough. I let her make them. When she was done, she had made 126 cookies and all of them perfect. Not a single burnt one in the bunch. :o)

You did an awesome job Lizzie. Congrats on your cookie baking!!

December 16, 2009

Fiber Fun Wednesday -- The Drop Spindle

I got the bug.

No...not H1N1.

The spinning bug.

I've been getting all of our fiber ready to send off to the mill over the last few weeks. It's nearly ready to go, but I'm impatient. I want to play with it NOW. I suppose I could if I washed it and carded it, but I'm more than happy letting Wendy (at the mill) do that for me. In the mean time, I'll play with someone else's fiber so I'll be more confident to use mine when it comes back.

That leads me to the current problem. The bug.

I decided I wanted a drop spindle to learn on. Okay, not too hard. My choices were top whorl or bottom whorl. Once I decided on starting with a top whorl I had to find one I liked for a price I liked.

But wait...they come in kits with fiber! :o)

What fiber do I want? Obviously alpaca, but what alpaca. Hmmm....someone posted the perfect kit on facebook. (it was Silver Sun Alpacas, she always has fun stuff) It was black alpaca with bamboo. Yummy!

I got it a little more than a week ago. It's great.

But what if I like a bottom whorl better??? I must get one of those. I found one at Bohemia Fibers with a very cool greeny blue Merino batt. It came a few days ago.

Don't I need a niddy noddy to put my skein on? Found one of those today. Hopefully it will get here soon.

Oh...and maybe a wrap per inch guide.

See my problem? It "spins" out of control. Now the big problem. I'm terrified to actually use it. The fiber is all so soft and pretty. I'm afraid to mess it up. I've been staring at everything since it got here and just can't make myself start spinning.

I have a spinning bug with no grand finale.

I'm going to keep giving myself a pep talk and hope that by this time next week I'll have actually spun something.

Wish me luck!

December 14, 2009

Recipe of the week -- Christmas Cheese Ball

I'm back! So sorry to have missed last week's recipe and now I'm a day late with this one. Between getting ready for Christmas and getting sick, it's been a crazy time. Just finished my niece's present and wrapped it, so I thought I could take a break for a minute and share one of my favorite holiday recipes.

This is one of those recipes that before you know it, the plate is empty and everyone is screaming for more. In fact, I have only one picture of the ball and it's half eaten in it. I set the plate down, went for the camera, and this is what it looked like when I got back. That's how fast it seems to disappear.

I suppose you could use it anytime of the year, but it looks so festive in it's green and red colors.

Christmas Cheese Ball

1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 green onions (greens only), chopped
1 jar (2 oz.) diced pimientos, drained
2 tbls. butter
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Beat in cheddar cheese, onions, pimientos, butter and Worcestershire sauce.

Line a small bowl with plastic wrap. Press cheese mixture into bowl; smooth top. Cover and refrigerate until serving. (Best chilled at least 2 hours). Serve with crackers.

December 11, 2009

Winter Wonderland

As you probably already know, a good portion of the US was hit with a pretty nasty winter storm this week. We were part of it, but from what I've read, I think we were lucky. It wasn't as bad as other parts of the country. I keep getting stuck on Arizona. That is just not the state I think of when I think of snow, but they got hammered and had colder temps than us.

We got down into the upper single digits over night and our highs during the day have been in the teens. The real problem has been the wind. Those wind chills are wicked. So bad in fact that I locked the alpacas in the barn overnight for the last 2 nights trying to keep the winds out of the barn.

We only got about 6 inches of snow. There were many places far worse than us. I just wasn't quite ready for the freezing cold yet. They say it will be back above freezing this weekend. YEAH! I can thaw out then.

In the meantime, I am going to enjoy the pretty landscape and stay in and get some work done.

This is what the plow guy did to my garbage can this morning. :( At least he didn't take out the mailbox as he's been known to do on our road.

December 02, 2009

Fiber Fun Wednesday -- Skirting, skirting and more skirting

Not everything about fiber is fun, but knowing what comes next, keeps me going.

Today I've been skirting. Well actually, I've been skirting all week, but today I realized....I'm NEVER going to be done. Sorry for the momentary whining.

This is back breaking work (constantly bending over the fleece) and pretty dirty too. My goal was to get all of this ready to ship out to the mill by the weekend. Not going to happen. The pile is huge and I've barely made a dent. I know, I know, someone's got to do it if I want all that alpaca yarn to knit with. I'm trying, honestly, to do it without complaining.

If you don't know what skirting is, it's basically cleaning up the shorn fleece and taking out all the unwanted bits. These are things that you don't want to find in your yarn. Things like hay, grass, crusty mud, poo, pee stains and any other undesirables you can think of. A lot of dirt gets shaken out at this point, too.

I'm still hoping to at least get it boxed up this weekend. I'll let you know if I do.

The before pic :o)

December 01, 2009

Today I learned...

Today I learned....

  • That my truck will make it all the way to town with the gas light on
  • That it is fun to pay for the gas once you get there, with dimes and nickels from the piggy bank
  • New friends are always fun to make, even when they come with complications
  • 10 tween girls screaming "Mrs. Camp" for an hour makes you want to scream, but the joy of teaching pushes you past it
  • You should never be bored if you're smart enough to bring your knitting with you
  • Lunch you make up on the fly can be really tasty
  • I really don't like the movie Polar Express and please don't try and change my mind
  • No matter how bad I want that double cheeseburger from McDonalds, it's not worth waiting 12 minutes in the drive-thru line to get
  • AWANA is a great program, even if it's only for the 2 hour break I get every Tuesday night
  • Just as you congratulate yourself on getting to the gas station without running out of gas, the truck will die
  • Chores are much more fun when it's warm enough to use the hose for watering
  • I'm not ready for my baby to turn 6 tomorrow
  • That my baby is going to turn 6 no matter what tomorrow, so I need to get over it
  • And thank goodness for family. Couldn't make it without them.

November 29, 2009

Recipe of the week -- Chocolate Pecan Pie

This is a chocolate pecan pie, but normally we call it Turtle Pie because it reminds me so much of a turtle sundae when you add whipped cream on it. It's a Thanksgiving staple at our house. I have to make it every year. This year was no exception. I made it, but there wasn't a lot of people here to eat it so, more for me!!

This recipe originally came from a Taste of Home event I went to years ago. They demonstrated this on stage and I had to make it the second I got home. I've been hooked ever since.

Turtle Pie

3 eggs
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup pecan halves, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks
1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell

In a medium bowl, combine eggs, corn syrup, sugar, butter and vanilla with a whisk. Stir in pecans. Sprinkle chocolate chunks over the bottom of the pie shell. Pour pecan mixture over the chocolate chunks in the pie shell.

Bake at 350* for 50-55 minutes. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours; refrigerate until serving time.

If you need a recipe for the crust, I have one in the oatmeal pie recipe. Just search through the recipes. The chocolate chunks are made by Nestle and are different than chocolate chips. Chocolate chips will work, but not nearly as well.

We had this pie eaten in less than 24 hours. I think I'm going to have to bake another soon.

November 28, 2009

Fun Photo Editor

Okay, I love free. Free is a very good thing.

I found this site, FotoFlexer, one night while looking for a way to add some text to a photo. I didn't play with it much then, but today I decided to make a Christmas photo and just kept on playing. It's really easy to use. You upload a photo (or get one off many sites including Facebook), edit it and then save it back to your computer. Each photo took 5 minutes or less.

Here is a sample of what I did.

November 27, 2009

The Thanksgiving far

Our Thanksgiving weekend got off to an early start with a very interesting email Tuesday morning. Before I'd even woke up enough to get dressed, I received an email from the farm we bought our very first alpacas from. I had expressed interest in a female they had way back in the spring. We talked a little, but it never got to the buying stage. Well, in this email they offered her to us at a price that was easy to live with. Let's just say, I said yes before I even talked to Jim.

We went and picked her up Wednesday afternoon. She's a beautiful brown suri and her name is Wella (short for Welcome Home). I finally was able to get one pic of her this morning as the snow started clearing. She seems to have settled in fine and is making new friends with her pasture mates.

Thanksgiving day had me getting up earlier than I like to get the turkey in the oven. We got it stuffed and in by 8. Then it was off to do chores. While outside, my sister called to say they weren't going to make it. Both she and my niece were sick. It turned into a weird, quiet, unholiday-like day with only us and my parents. See, my other sister lives in Illinois and wasn't able to make it either. By the end of the day we did have some of our older kids pop in and out so it wasn't completely a wash. 7 kids out of 8 on one day is nearly a record. :o)

We went to bed early because poor Jim had to be at work by 5:30 to deal with the crazy crowds and me, well.....for the first time in 4 years I went out on Black Friday. All because of my niece. I went to one store for her present and then back home. It really wasn't that bad, but I avoided the entire mall, wal-mart, best buy area of town. Where I was going was the complete opposite of all that so it wasn't bad. I think there were about 15 people waiting in line at this store.

Now I'm home, baking bread, getting lunch around and really wishing I could take a nap. Maybe after lunch....

November 24, 2009

What are you thankful for?

What are you thankful for?

Today I am thankful for so many things, but mostly especially, my husband. He "gets" me even when I am slightly incoherent. My family is a close second. The kids bring me joy every day. I even have to laugh sometimes when they're naughty.

I am also thankful for:

The internet - it brings everyone close no matter how far away they are.
My ability to cook - I can eat what I want, when I want
My farm - can't live without those paca hugs
Ebay - why spend retail?
Friendships that don't come with a price-tag
We're all healthy
The fact that I can stay home everyday with my children
We're employed - always a plus
Our business is taking off - just got another order today :o)

And once family.

As we come to Thanksgiving, think about what you are thankful for.

November 22, 2009

Recipe of the week -- Bean and Rice Enchiladas

Here is another recipe that I made up one day out of food boredom. I can't even remember the how or why, just that it was about 10 years ago and this recipe has become a family staple. It's not one of my cheaper meals so I don't make it nearly as often as the family would like, but it is yummy. It could also be made vegetarian really simply with the use of vegetarian refried beans.

Bean and Rice Enchiladas

1 box/pkg. (4.3 oz.) Mexican or Spanish style rice (think Rice-a-roni or something similar)
1 can (15 oz.) refried beans
1 pkg. (8 count) burrito size flour tortilla wraps
1 can (10 oz.) enchilada sauce (Old El paso is my fave) mild or hot, your choice
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar or mexican blend cheese
Sour cream
shredded lettuce
black olives
green onions

Cook rice according to package directions. Cool slightly when finished. Pour a little of the enchilada sauce in a 9x13 baking dish. Not a lot, just enough to cover the bottom of the dish lightly.
Divide the rice and beans evenly on each tortilla shell (don't worry about being perfect. I normally have a little left over). Roll each tortilla up, making sure to tuck in sides. Place each in the baking dish. Pour remaining sauce over the top of the wraps. Sprinkle cheese on top.
Bake at 350* for about 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.
Top each serving with lettuce, sour cream, olives or green onions.

I should really learn not to make these posts before lunch. I starving now!


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