Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Best Ever Christmas Gift

It will be a low key Christmas at Prairie Cairn Cottage.  We'll put out some decorations, send a few cards, make a few Christmas goodies and attend a few parties.  We are trying to ignore the almost desperate hype the retailers put on at this time of year.  They seem to have totally lost sight of the real reason of the holiday, the birth of Christ.  The gift that this holiday is so known for is not the endless variety of material goods you can purchase, it is the birth of the Savior of the World.  God among us.  The Prince of Peace.  Jesus.  

His life will result in the reconciliation of all people on Earth with their Creator, provided they accept the offering of the gift.  A gift is never much use unless it is first accepted by the recipient.  It's easy to accept God's free gift to us.  All that is required is you "confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in our heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."  That can be found in the New Testament of the Bible in the book of Romans chapter 10, verse 9.  Easy, peasy.

God's Christmas gift to us is the birth of His son.  Our Christmas gift to God is to accept His gift.  There!  Your Christmas shopping is all finished!


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks

Little Black Brindle and I hope you all have a blessed Thanksgiving.  Even during these troubled time there is much to be thankful for.  Some of the blessings my Ever So Handy Husband and I are thankful for are:

On November 19th, Little Black Brindle celebrated his one year anniversary of freedom from his life in a puppy mill.  We are very thankful that God sent us this little bundle of love and are looking forward to his first Thanksgiving with a family that loves him dearly. 

We've also been blessed with 4 hard working and entertaining chicks.  They have been a huge source of pleasure since their arrival.  Watching them grow and learning about chick behavior, eating their delicious fresh eggs and marveling at their adaptability to cold weather have been highlights of their life here at Prairie Cairn Cottage.

We are thankful to have found Tabby this summer and to have this added life at the Cottage.  Tabby and Little Black Brindle are best buddies now.  They play together and take turns chasing each other all around the Cottage.

And of course we are thankful for Prairie Cairn Cottage itself.  We still marvel that we are here in this wonderful place.  The views and sunrises and sunsets are unimaginably beautiful.  The cottage has kept us safe and sheltered and the living on the prairie has made us learn and grow. 

So from all of us here at Prairie Cairn Cottage, we wish you and yours a most blessed Thanksgiving.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Why I Love Cairns

Have you ever asked yourself why Cairn Terriers are so lovable?  Here's just one thing:

They lie with their back legs out flat so their pads are facing the sky.  Most dogs do this as puppies, Cairns lie this way their whole lives unless injury forces them to adjust.   I love Cairn toes!


Monday, October 29, 2012

Visitor to the Coop

I am suffering from a bit of a head cold and have been going around the cottage in a antihistamine stupor.  This weekend I went out to tend to the girls.  While filling their feeder I saw out of the corner of my eye a visitor to the coop.  My mind played a bit of a trick on me for awhile and I thought I was seeing a fifth chicken, this one being very dark.  Part of my brain told me "but you only have four chickens" the other part of my brain was saying, "it must be a chicken, it's the same size and it's eating the chicken feed".  Finally having a lucid moment I realized what I was seeing was not a 5th chicken but Little Black Brindle in with the chicks!  He was being very good and not being aggressive towards the ladies one bit.  I scooted back inside to fetch my camera and got these shots.

Hey!  Who's in my house?

A hasty exit

After sniffing a few chicken butts he was not at all interested in them, just their food and water.  He went in several times to check out the coop.  All seemed to be in order and acceptable.  

I would caution you to not try this at your cottage, with your terrier.  Most terriers have a very hard prey drive and will chase and kill anything that flees.  I think Little Black Brindle is just a very gentle Cairn and loves other animals.  

All's well that ends well at Prairie Cairn Cottage!  We hope you stop back by and visit with us again out on the Prairie.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Thought Provoking Website

Aren't these amazing pictures?  I was looking for some black and white farm type pictures that I might be able to print out and frame for the guest bedroom at Prairie Cairn Cottage.  I found these at the Library of Congress website here.  There are thousands of these pictures.  Some are nostalgic like those I've posted  and some are just plain sad but they are all real. 

I can't help but wonder what kind of lives those kids experienced.  Did they grow up and become someone famous?  Did they have happy lives?  Did that young boy on the left go off and fight in WWII?  Did he make it home?  What about the younger boy in the doorway, did he fight in Korea?  Or was he like my father who enlisted in the relative peace in between WWII and Korea?

I found myself mesmerized by these photo's, you should check them out; but before you go, thanks for stopping by and visiting with me here at Prairie Cairn Cottage.



Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Autumn on the Prairie

Autumn on the Prairie are a few warm, golden days followed by tastes of Winter.  This past Saturday brought us our first snowfall of the season.  Construction on the coop ground to a halt and we had a nice leisurely day inside the cottage.  

We took advantage of the lazy day and got caught up on our sleep

We sipped hot apple cider, ate pumpkin bread and played our favorite games
It's my turn to shred the paper!

All in all it was a very enjoyable day.  Sunday was much warmer.  My Ever So Handy Husband was able to get back to construction and I was able to get out in the garden and harvest one of the only crops that made it through this growing season-potatoes.  It wasn't a big haul but there were edible potatoes nonetheless!  I do believe I would have had bigger spuds if I had watered more diligently.
By the way, don't let anyone tell you that you can't use sprouted grocery store potatoes as starts.  I had a well meaning person insist that it was impossible to get potatoes to grow from grocery store potatoes.  Even though I had been planting them for years this way, she would not believe me.  She believed that they inoculate the potatoes to keep them from sprouting and therefore couldn't be used.  I'd say even though this was a meager harvest, it proves that her theory is wrong.   

If you've never grown potatoes give them a try next year.  Come January or February, leave a few of your store bought potatoes in the dark to sprout .  When you are ready to put them in the garden, cut the potato in sections that contain at least one sprout and plant fairly deep then water.  They are one of my favorite plants in the garden.  All you see all season are the green tops and flowers.  It's not until you deg deep into the soil in the fall that you are rewarded for your care.  It's always a surprise to find these treasures hidden in the dirt.

A typical Fall weekend at Prairie Cairn Cottage.  I do hope your days are filled with Autumn splendor and harvest surprises.



Friday, October 5, 2012

Winner of the Largest Egg Contest

Unbeknownst to me, the girls had a contest to see who could produce the largest egg.  Since the first egg several weeks ago
the first egg!
the eggs have been getting larger and larger.  I went out earlier this week and the hens were in high spirits.  Laughing and talking and and enjoying the day.
 I wasn't privileged to their conversation and wondered to myself what the fuss was about.  That is until I opened the lid to the nesting box and there it was!

head & shoulders above even the store bought!
  I must say, it was not only a double yolker, it was delicious!
Life is full of surprises at Prairie Cairn Cottage.  I hope your days have been filled with fun surprises too.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Construction is finally underway

Yes, at long last, the construction has begun for the permanent coop.  And none too soon it seems, later this week we are expected to be near freezing for the nighttime lows and possibly snow.
The girls got a rare treat while my ever so handy husband and I were out on the job site.  This is the first time they got to be free range birds.  Well, they thought they were free range.  In reality, they got to run in the confines of the fenced back yard.  But the yard is ever so much bigger than the 10 x 10 dog run we currently have them in. 

Having the girls, I now understand why being "chicken" means you are afraid.  Anything new in their pen or having the gate to their pen open is new to them and therefore frightening.  But we let them explore on their own and pretty soon they found their way to the yard and then they were in heaven eating bugs, weeds and taking dirt baths.
Hey!  That's my yard!
Life was good at Prairie Cairn Cottage this weekend.  I hope your weekend was good to you as well.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

You say your commute to work is rough?

Living in the country and working in the city requires a rather lengthy commute.  We did, however, think we'd leave the headaches of the drive we used to endure behind.  But we have found it's the same type of problems no matter where you are driving. 

There, of course, is the traffic jam...
And the bull that comes with it...

There is always someone racing around because you weren't going fast enough...
Don't forget to look out for that eye in the sky...

The impatient drivers are a real headache...
Despite such problems, I wouldn't trade living at Prairie Cairn Cottage.  Thanks for visiting with us today.  I hope your commute home is pleasant.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Bringing the garden indoors

I found some lovely looking herbs at a Sprouts store in Denver this past week.  They were 3 for $10.00 which I didn't think was a bad price for such nice looking plants.  I bought a Sweet Marjoram, a Lemon Thyme and a Dill.  Since my garden was a bust this year about the only things that did well were the herbs I had planted the year before.  I thought I'd try my hand at indoor herbs.

Lovely Lavender in the garden.  Did I mention before the weeds have over run the garden?  Well, don't look too closely at the edges!
Serious Sage.  If you haven't grown herbs, I recommend trying a sage.  They are very easy to grow and give great satisfaction to a new gardener (and tastes great on that Thanksgiving turkey).

I've always been fascinated by herb gardens.  They are my favorite areas to visit at public gardens.  Right now I only have culinary herbs, the sage & lavender from above and a regular thyme, an oregano, a winter savory and lemon balm.  I hope to expand the plants in my herb garden and to also start a medicinal herb garden and a tea garden as well.

Monday, September 17, 2012

New Toy

I alluded to this in a previous post so here at long last is the revealing of my new toy.  A dear woman from church actually gave me this and is giving me lessons on how to use it.  It is a knitting machine!  I am a tediously slow hand knitter and would love to be faster.  I volunteered to help out with the Covering Prayers Ministry (prayer shawls, baby blankets, etc...) at church and she was so delighted that she gave me this machine.  I'm only in my baby steps learning this new craft.  It is not at all like hand knitting!  The results are, but the process is far removed from each other.  I've only this past weekend been able to set this up and play around with it.  I knitted several rows well and then several rows had holes and dropped stitches.  But isn't everything we do a learning event?  One of these days I hope to post an actual completed project made by me! 

This next pictures are a wash cloth and one baby sock that my friend made while showing me the machine.  She did these in just moments!  When I hand knit a wash cloth it takes me about a month!

I still think I will be hand knitting for the shear satisfaction of the hand work but for making shawls or blankets, this machine may be the way to go.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Goodness!  Where does the time get too?  All is well here at Prairie Cairn Cottage but rather bland; busy yet nothing exciting.  Life in general I suppose and I'm grateful for a chance to just experience the gentle routine of everyday.

What remains of the garden (if you recall we got hailed out this year) still requires attention.  My herbs seem to thrive in the benign neglect they've received and the weeds have all but taken over.  I'm valiantly trying to reclaim the garden from the tumbleweeds but one can only do so much bending and pulling massive weeds before muscles spasms force them out of the game for the day.  Still, a little everyday makes a difference; I'm just hoping to be able to finish the task before the first snows. 
Little Black Brindle has taken over our hearts and home and I can't imagine life without him.  He and Tabby are getting along like best friends.  Tabby has made herself (his self?  We still don't know) at home and acts like there was never a time when it didn't live at Prairie Cairn Cottage.

The chicks have grown into dear sweet hens and are blessing us with at least one egg per day if not two.  I still think one is not laying yet but she should be any day now.  Little Pearl was always the smallest of the group so I expect she is still enjoying her last days of chickhood.
Crafting has taking a backseat to other chores at the moment but I do have an exciting new toy that I'll post on later.  You say you want me to give you a hint?  Well, it's something that will allow me to make my favorite knitted dish cloths in about 20 minutes as opposed to a month. 
So the last precious days of summer are being enjoyed and savored at Prairie Cairn Cottage.  I always get a bit melancholy at this time of year, knowing the days grow short and the nights grow longer.  Regretting lost chances of vine ripened tomatoes or getting fruit trees and bushes established before the winter cold sets in, not being able to decorate with the pumpkins I grew with my own hard work.  But there will other opportunities ahead, chili on a cold blustery day, hot apple cider sipped while watching the sun set.  One thing I have been saving for fall, a new recipe for Pumpkin Ice Cream that I have been dying to try.  I keep telling myself, patience dear one, pumpkin always tastes best in October and November.

I hope you are enjoying these last bits of summer.  And thank you for visiting with me at Prairie Cairn Cottage; I hope you'll come back.     

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Weekend at the Cottage

I spotted this little beauty on Friday night just outside the cottage door.  I had seen her web weeks before but I had never seen who inhabited it.  Apparently she comes out after dark because I had to use a flashlight to illuminate her.  I believe she is a common Garden Orb Spider and she is about an inch long.  Pretty big spider!  I think that is a moth that has been spun into a cocoon, Friday night dinner?
Saturday morning I woke with a craving for muffins.  Lucky for me I had some fresh blueberries.  They made a tasty breakfast treat.

Later in the day I went to check on the chicks and look what they gave me as a thank you for taking care of them
Such cleaver girls!  This is the first and therefore is a special, blessed egg.  There have been duplicate offerings each day since.  I believe one of the Light Brahmas is the thoughtful hen.  Her sisters should be following her lead soon.

Here is the special egg in a carton of store bought I just purchased the day before.  Isn't it cute?  From what I understand they should get progressively larger as both types of chicks are large egg layers.
 The last week in August, can you believe it?  Where has the summer gotten too?  I hope your weekend was filled with special finds.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Spinning Out of Control

I may be taking up yet another new hobby...spinning wool!  I took a quick class at the county fair this month and they gave us a handmade drop spindle and some luscious wool.  The wound up blob at the bottom of the picture was my first attempt.  I'm having a tough time with the drafting of the wool before it's twisted so I think I'll be practicing that this weekend.  I bought a super soft alpaca "top" which I hope I'll be able to spin into usable yarn. 

This weekend is also the local yarn crawl so I'll be hitting lots of yarn shops!  Shh....don't tell my Ever So Handy Husband I may be buying yet more yarn.

What will you be doing this weekend?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Wild things

When it's flowering it's hard to call the thistle a weed.  The flower is so striking.  I always find it amusing that the thistle is the flower of Scotland.  It's supposed to represent the beauty but thorny nature of Scotland under the British rule. 

The little bunnies are white tailed jack rabbits.  I caught them out in the front of Prairie Cairn Cottage last night.  I thought we had jack rabbits and cotton tails but after a quick internet search I discovered these are actually white tailed jacks.  No matter, at this age they remain cute.  Once they get full grown, well, that's a different story, I'm afraid they might abscond with Little Black Brindle.  But for now they are welcome.

After reading a magazine article on making your own extracts I thought I would try my hand at it.  This morning I made up some lemon extract and vanilla extract.  Earlier in the month I made up some raspberry extract and some mint extract.  It's pretty darn easy if I do say so, we'll just have to post back how they work in baked goods.

The basic recipe is 1/4 cup berries or mint leaves, 3 to 4 vanilla beans halved then split length wise or the zest from two lemons (you could also use oranges or grapefruits if that suits your fancy) which ever you want to make.  To each of these you cover with 1 cup of alcohol.  I used vodka in the raspberries, lemons and mint and some whiskey in the vanilla.  The recipe I got for the vanilla called for vodka, bourbon or brandy.  Shake the mixtures daily for 3 to 4 weeks.  If it is strong enough for your tastes then you drain the berries and mint but you can just leave the vanilla and lemon zest in the jars.  If you'd like a stronger extract for the raspberry and mint, you'd strain it and then add some fresh berries or mint and repeat the procedure.  If you run low on the vanilla or lemon extract you can just add additional alcohol and let it sit for several weeks.  It's supposed to take a long time for them to lose their flavoring.   

The Mexican vanilla you can buy uses bourbon so I went to the store to buy some.  The clerk at the liquor store told me that bourbon is actually bourbon whiskey.  It can only be called bourbon if it was distilled in Kentucky.  I had some pretty good  Canadian whiskey at home so thought I'd go ahead and use that.  If it doesn't make good extract we will just use it as vanilla infused whiskey.  Who knows, maybe we could come up with a new cocktail!

Wouldn't a gift basket of these in a smaller 2 oz size make a great hostess gift for the upcoming holidays?  Or perhaps you have a baker in your gift exchange.  Either way, try your hand at home crafted extracts.