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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Sometimes it's good to try new things.

Skillet quiche

For the last few weeks, it's been very hot and humid, which poses a challenge when trying to come up with a dinner menu that :

a.) Doesn't involve using the oven.
b.) Consists of something that all three of us will eat.
c.) Consists of something that all three of us will eat, and none of us ate that something for lunch that day.
d.) Consists of something that all three of us will eat that's not the same something that we had for dinner within the past three days.

Needless to say, the options are limited. Since we usually have an over abundance of eggs, quiche is a good way to use them up, but I haven't been able to make one because of the heat. So it occurred to me that there must be a way to make it on the stovetop.

And sure enough, skillet quiche is a thing!

In order to make this quiche, I had to overcome my fear of using our Lodge cast iron skillet. Many years ago, probably before we were even married, Mark's late Uncle John bestowed upon us a brand new Lodge cast iron skillet that he got for free by turning in UPC codes from his cigarette packs. At the time, I was committed to the non-stick wonder known as T-Fal, so the whole cast iron concept was foreign to me. Not to mention it was so heavy that I could barely hold the pan without getting an arm cramp. Somehow, the cast iron skillet survived a couple of moves as well as a few garage sales, and remained unused in our basement. It wasn't until last year when we were planning our Girl Scout troop camping trip that I decided to remove the Lodge label and cure it. It had accumulated a little bit of rust from sitting in a damp basement for years, but it wasn't anything that a Brillo pad couldn't handle. However as fate would have it, it rained the weekend that we went camping, so I didn't get to use it after all. Since then, it's been sitting in our basement packed away with our camping equipment.

So today I gave it a try-out, and I can say, hide no more Lodge cast iron skillet, for you have now earned a spot in among my other pots and pans!

Now I realize that my my quiche doesn't look anything like the one in the recipe. I used too much spinach (a whole package of frozen) and no bacon. I also should have used more eggs than the recipe specified. Our chickens' eggs are closer to medium sized, while I think most recipes expect you to use large or even extra large. I also felt that the hash browns could have used more seasoning, and they were a little soggy because I obsessively keeping the heat low so that the crust wouldn't burn.

Mini waffle iron.

I also decided that it was time to break out my new mini waffle iron that I got on clearance at Crate and Barrel a few months ago. It makes four inch waffles - so cute, and just as tasty as the ones that are as big as your plate.

Mini waffle.

Another lesson that I learned today is that I am not cut out to be a food blogger. I was literally sweating just trying to make sure that I didn't burn the waffles and the quiche, well enough trying stage these photos properly with fancy accessories!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Chicken update.


People are always very curious when they find out that we have chickens. Often they ask if we bring our chickens inside when the temperatures get very low, but no one asks if they get to come inside and enjoy the air conditioning when we're having a heat wave. In fact, chickens are much more susceptible to heat than they are the cold, but thankfully our flock seems to be doing well as we head into our fourth week of temperatures in the nineties. 

Man's best friend?

Holly is the sweetest, most domesticated of the group. Cochins are naturally people chickens, so it's not surprising. If you walk away from her, she'll run after you.

That looks tasty!

Cookie is curious about the chickens, but she knows that she'll get a good peckin' if she gets up in their area. Mark always says that he's going to bring Holly in the house, so I can sit on the couch together with all of my white pets.

Cricket being all broody.

Up until recently, 3 out of 4 were laying eggs. That is until Cricket went broody again. She's more interested in hatching an egg than laying more eggs.

Move over!

Besides the lack of egg production, the other problem is that she never leaves the nesting box, making it a challenge for those that are laying eggs. So when nature calls, Holly or Ivy will just barge in and squash next to her. I guess it's kind of like four roommates sharing one bathroom.


Poppy hasn't laid in several months due to some unknown illness. It mustn't be anything life threatening because she seems fine other than looking anemic. Mark has treated her for both fungus and mites, and she's gained some of her weight back. She's also had to adjust to her two sisters being replaced with three new roommates. She's closest with Cricket, or at least she tolerates her the most. Occasionally she likes to boss Holly and Ivy around, just to remind them that she's still first in the pecking order.

Ivy free ranging with Poppy.

Speaking of Ivy, she's the feisty one of the bunch. She may not be first in the pecking order, but she's the noisiest and the hardest to get back into the coop.

A man and his chickens.

But she does love her owner the best, so she has that going for her!

Monday, February 15, 2016

It's a's a plane, it's...

Super Kitty!

Super Kitty!

Ready for orders.

Able to leap tall chairs in a single bound, as long as there is a treat involved!

Able to leap tall chairs in a single bound!

Ready for my orders, sir!

Super Kitty looking for someone who needs saved.

There must be someone who needs saved out there somewhere...

(Kitty Coconut really is a super hero. If Lauren is laughing and screaming while she's playing with the dogs, Coco thinks she's in trouble and needs rescuing. She will come bolting out of nowhere with her claws of fury and has no problem taking on the giant Airedale that is ten times her size. We often have to intercede because once she gets started, Coco won't back down from attacking!)

Sunday, January 3, 2016

2016: The year of keeping expectations low.

Here we go again - Week 1 2016

Unlike the last couple of years, I am none too sorry to see 2015 come to a close. For me, it immediately got off to a bad start, and although there were certainly a lot good things that happened, it never seemed to fully recover. I think the lack of blog posts this year was a reflection of that. So I welcome 2016 with caution because while it could certainly be better, it could also be worse.

This year I decided not do to any projects, although I am going to try journaling again. For the third time. They do say that third time is a charm, right? In any case, I'm not calling it a "project" because that would surely doom it. I did make some modifications to my approach that will hopefully keep me interested and enthusiastic. In the old way I was doing it, there was a lot of room for both drawing and writing. I'm not a real touchy-feely kind of person, so all that space to write about my innermost thoughts just wasn't working for me. Since most of my days are pretty routine, there was typically little to report other than:

  • Got up. 
  • Drove to work (Stopped for coffee somewhere in the middle).
  • Did some work. 
  • Ate lunch with Mel C. 
  • Went to a lot of meetings. 
  • Drove home. 
  • Picked up Lauren. 
  • Took the dogs out. 
  • Made dinner (Or picked up take out on the way home). 
  • Watched television. 
  • Went to bed.
It's not really worthwhile to write that over and over again 200+ times. So now I just have a small square which should be enough room to hit the highlights. Additionally, in the old way I was doing it I had to illustrate a two page layout. Not only was it intimidating to have to keep coming up with new ideas that my meager drawing skills could handle, my drawings often took up all the space on the days where I actually had a lot to write about. With this layout, the artwork is on its own separate page, so I have a lot more flexibility and less space to stress over.

I guess we'll see how this works out. So far I like it, but then again, it's only the third day of the year.

Couch? What couch?

Otherwise, we've been very lazy in 2016. I haven't even left the house since New Year's Day.

Working on his resolutions.

Marcus's resolution for 2016 is to spend time on the couch (which, incidentally, he's not allowed to do).


Cookie's resolution to is to snuggle more in the new year.

Sundays are for power napping.

I'm not sure how that's possible, but it's always good to have goals.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Because we need a little Christmas.

Merry Christmas!

T'was the night before Christmas and all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, other than me in my blouse.

Christmas 2016.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In the hopes that they would fit one ginormous polar bear.

Coco Kitty opening her presents.

On Christmas morning, Lauren always helps the pets open their presents before opening her own. Kitty Coconut received a little set of breakfast themed toys shaped like toast, bacon and an egg.

 Coco loves her bacon!

One of the highlights of Christmas morning was watching Coco play with her bacon. That kitty really loves her bacon!

 Kitty with her bacon.




Lauren opening presents.

Then it was Lauren's turn. Don't be fooled by the fact that she is fully dressed for the day. These events did indeed take place at around six o'clock in the morning.

 Wow, sheet music!

Wait, what's this?

 Taylor Swift for clarinet!

YES!!! Taylor Swift sheet music for the clarinet!

Tearing through the gifts.

And the opening continued on...

Happy girl.

...and on...

Christmas wishes do come true!

...and on. Until Lauren's Christmas wish came true in the form of an XBox One.

Family room Christmas morning.

Then it was our turn to open our presents. We had to put them on the chairs because they are not permitted under "Lauren's Tree." I didn't take any photos of us opening because I was the only one still wearing my pajamas like a normal person, and therefore not photo ready. Mark got some socks with chickens on them, a book about tree houses, a new cel phone, a toaster, and some shirts. I got a pillow with a cat on it, pajamas, a few tops including a Francisco Cervelli t-shirt, a throw, vintage Christmas ornaments, and some coloring books.

 But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—
“Happy Christmas to all, and I hope the polar bear doesn't bite!”

Christmas crafting is not dead.

Santa jars.

Back in the olden days, I used to craft for Christmas, making gifts and decorations for presents. As the years passed, the time available to prepare for Christmas just got shorter and shorter in supply, and crafting was one of the casualties. But Lauren brought back the tradition this year by making these cute jars to give out as gifts.

Snowman jars.

Elf jars.

This idea was brought to you by the magic of Pintrest and this link.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Holly and the Ivy.

 Holly and Ivy.

The holly and the ivy,
When they are both full grown,
Of all the trees that are in the wood,
The holly bears the crown.
The rising of the sun
And the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ,
Sweet singing in the choir.

Earlier this week, we decided it was time to fill the void in our chicken coop, so we traveled to a Freehling Farms, which is located somewhere in the middle of Kittanning, so we could pick out a couple of new residents. Out of the hundreds of chicks to choose from, these two won the lottery. Meet Holly and Ivy.

 Hanging out on our farmer's lap.

Holly is the one wearing the leg warmers. She's a cochin. Ivy is a blue laced red wyandotte. Ivy is the feisty one. Mark thinks that she may turn out to be a rooster because she's always standing straight and tall. Holly, on the other hand, is very mellow.

 Just another ornament. Nothing to see here.

She likes to roost on anything and everything. 

Chick Kringle.

And she didn't even mind wearing a hat!

And to all a good night.

Did I mention that she's really mellow?

In everything, give thanks.


Last week, we celebrated an extended Thanksgiving. We packed three full days with gratitude, family and fun.

Turkey time.

It's typical on Thanksgiving to be thankful for having food on the table. This year we had an unusually big turkey for our feast - 20 pounds to be exact. We were particularly thankful for this turkey, not because of its size, but because it represented that we were having a BIG FAMILY Thanksgiving, as our cousins Nick and Noreen were coming to join us!

As a side note, there was some concern that the turkey was going to be to big for the roaster. Thankfully, it fit.


We are thankful for social media, for without it, we would not know that we could craft a turkey from pepperoni, cheese and crackers.

On the road.

We are thankful that we were able to avoid all the Black Friday shoppers because we have a city that's filled with history, culture and pretty things to admire, and not just Wal-Marts. Here's Lauren learning how to drive on a Model T in the car and carriage museum at The Frick.

Phipps Conservatory Winter Flower Show.

Later that evening, we went to the Winter Flower Show and Light Garden at Phipps Conservatory.

Phipps Conservatory Winter Flower Show.

Phipps Conservatory Light 

Noreen, Lauren and Me.

 Us with our Michigan family.

 Football trash talk.

We're thankful for football, even if it involves a little trash talking.


 My Family take 2.
And of course, we are most thankful for family, even though they will likely hate these photos.