Sunday, December 29, 2013

Peace Alongside the Snowmobile Trail

I am ready to slow down, breathe in winter, and enjoy the coziness it brings. 

Some find comfort in peculiar places.
Whatcha dreaming about, Bear Bear?

There's a lot to be said about lounging around on a Sunday afternoon, 
wrapped in a quilt, a toasty fire in the wood burner crackling, 
while enjoying a good 'ole marathon of The Waltons' episodes back to back.

Out the window the snow is also lazy, falling like tiny white feathers.
The chickadees, nut hatches, blue jays, red polls, and wood peckers fly from station to station, feasting on a mixture of seed, black sunflower seeds, and suet.

A leftover sunflower head from my summer garden.

I put leftover bread in the tray at the top of this station 
and as I sip my morning coffee I enjoy watching 
the blue jays fly off with a hunk in their beaks. 
When the dogs get let out of their kennel in the morning, 
they race to this station hoping the blue jays were sloppy 
and in their haste dumped some of the bread overboard.

Ike and Bear usually find a morsel!

These bird ornaments were given to me last year by my mother-in-law. 
I wasn't sure how they would hold up to the outdoors,
but they are quite festive and brave the elements well! Bird Decoys?

A downy woodpecker and a chickadee share suet.

Nice neighborhood for a bird's house

Knock. Knock.
Anybody home?
We'll see you in the spring!

Another Bird Station

When Ike and Bear are locked in the kennel, they get taunted by the red squirrels
who know its safe when the dogs are behind bars. They are quite convinced that they will not get chased up a tree under these conditions. The squirrels scoot in and nibble the seeds that have fallen to the ground by picky birds looking for their favorite seed (kind of like picking through the fruit salad bowl to get those blueberries I want so bad. At least I try to watch my manners and wait until no one is looking and for the most part keep the rest of the fruit in the bowl...not on the floor. Ahem. 
Did I mention when no one is looking?)

You can find more pictures of birds I have around here at this post:

In the midst of all this peace, 
I am constantly reminded that we live on a busy snowmobile trail.
Zoom. Zoom.

Have a peaceful holiday week everyone!
And have a VERY Happy and Blessed 2014!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Twas the Night Before Christmas...

The stockings are hung by the chimney with care...

Happy Birthday Jesus!
Merry Christmas Everyone!
God Bless!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Road Trips

This past week we took a few road trips. 
The snow is beautiful but the temps are so cold - too cold for this girl to go snowmobiling.. 
This morning we awoke to -14 degrees. 
But there isn't a cloud in the sky today,
 just the sunshine illuminating all the trees sporting their white overcoats. 
More snow coming tonight according to the weatherman! 


The above picture was taken at the Tahquamenon Falls Brewery.
For a previous post on the magnificent Upper Tahquamenon Falls, click here.

The brewery is a beautiful cozy restaurant with a crackling fire, 
candles flickering on the tables, and great beer! 
Oh, and did I mention how good the food is?
This visit was quite unusual for us as it is usually a long wait to get a seat.

On our way to and from the Falls, we passed through the town of Paradise.

Last week we left early for appointments in the Soo. 
The sun was shining brightly, but the closer we got to the Soo...
(A fly-by shot)

The sun disappeared and so did our visibility.

We could hardly make out the International Bridge that connects Michigan to Canada.

Love that lake effect snow!

On another day we ventured south across the Mackinac Bridge into the lower peninsula.
Destination - Petoskey!

More lake effect snow in the distance.

Downtown was festively decorated.
We enjoyed wandering in and out of the shops.

Mr. Chris Moose watched us eat our chicken wings.

Crossing the Mackinac Bridge on our way back home. 
See the cutter?And that's Bois Blanc Island in the background.

Love my UP!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Chippewa Snow Chasers

Snow chasers we are.
And we live in Chippewa County.
Yesterday morning we awoke to a fresh 5-6 inches of snowfall. 
Not a lot, but enough to be plowed.
Everything was so pretty.
Those of you who know me well know how much I love snow.

Steve got right to plowing.

My gardens.
Everything was white again and not icy.
I felt so sorry for the elderly over the weekend 
because every parking lot was nothing but ice.
I was extra careful myself!

Even the dogs liked the extra traction.
The other day Ike was so happy to see me 
he just about crashed into the side of our parked car.
I yelled out, "IKE!" but he did a good save.
He shook himself off and proceeded to show his affection.

Today Steve took the groomer out and panned the trails.
He is a groomer for the Chippewa Snow Chasers Snowmobile Club.
Panning means you pack the snow to freeze hard to a nice solid base for the trail.
Then let it snow!
As of tonight we are on the border of getting anywhere from 5 to 10 inches of snow.
We'll see. Tomorrow we have to go to the Soo.
They could get up to a foot.
I'll take my camera!

Can't wait to get back on the snowmobiles!

I let the dogs in tonight to sleep by the wood burner. They sit outside the door and one of them will let out one "woof." They try not to be obnoxious. They take turns so I can't figure out who it is. "Woof."
It means, "Can we come in for awhile? It's really cold out here and we love the woodburner." 


I'm a pushover.

Currently they are both snoring.

And it is 8 degrees outside.

Stay warm everyone!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Gobble, Gobble Made Easy!

I know Thanksgiving Day has come and gone, but I wanted to share with you something different I tried this year. At the time when I went turkey shopping, I thought we would be having Thanksgiving dinner at our log cabin on the river. But then way later I was informed by my son that the Lions vs. the Packers football game would be on TV at 12:30 pm (and there is no TV reception at the log cabin - what was I thinking?) and we had to have the game on during dinner time and at 12:30 pm so the guys could veg-out after dinner and then go out at 3:00 pm to hunt. (They need time to digest after all.)

First, I picked out a 14# Butterball (ALWAYS a Butterball!) turkey for $14.00 (98 cents a pound at Walmart), put it in the cart and proceeded down the aisle. Then I saw this bagged turkey. Hmmm...I thought. That sure would make preparation a ton easier at the log cabin. 

Steve walked up behind me and asked me what I was holding. 

"This bird is all set to go in the oven,"  I said. "No fuss, no muss."  

He said, "Give it a try." 

I quickly put the 14# turkey back and put this 12# turkey for $21 into my cart. It was worth $7 more for my time and inconvenience with limited space, right?

The instructions were so easy and no need to thaw! No need to wash this guy, pat it dry, remove the giblets after you push the sleeves of your robe way up to your shoulders, slice celery and onions (if you're following the recipe on the turkey bag box), put it in the turkey bag, tie the twisty, slice slits in the top of the bag, then look one more time at the weight of the turkey and how long it should be in the oven while doing the math in my sleepy head. 

No, the directions said just take it out of the bag and put it in the oven. I can do that!

It even came with gravy.

Preheat oven to 375 and cook 3 to 4.5 hours.

Insert thermometer and remove the turkey from oven when temp gets to 170. 
Let set for 20 minutes then carve it up.

My honest opinion?
It was very moist just like all Butterball turkeys are. However, I took it out a bit too soon (my thermometer may need to be replaced) so the dark meat wasn't as done as I would have liked it. Also, I'm a spice girl and I missed all the stuff I normally put inside my turkey and under the skin. But that's just me. The guys liked it, too, but missed the crispy skin my turkey usually has (I'm sure it WOULD have been crispier if I had left it in the oven longer). It is perfect if you want to make the show stopper of the Thanksgiving meal look like you fussed all morning, but only you and Mr. Gobble know how many extra cups of coffee you sipped while wrapped up in your robe in the easy chair.

I give it ***** (five) asterisks with five being excellent.

(Does anyone know how to make stars on a keyboard?)

Hey, maybe you'll want to try it for Christmas!
If you do, let me know what you thought!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Deer Camp 2013

Before the snow came, we had major rain up here in the UP. Just a couple of days into deer camp, I sat in my blind and listened to the rain make the tin roof of my blind ping and pong as if it were hailing outside. There were even a few claps of thunder. But no leaks and no deer. It rained all day and all night and this is what we woke up to one morning when we didn't go out and hunt.

Our little foot bridge held up - barely.
(Steve put the vertical board on the bridge to keep the dogs off. 
The slats between boards are a little wide in some places and we didn't want their feet to get caught.)

And then the snow came. 
And I continued to anticipate a 3 point buck trotting to the bait pile.
Why a 3 point, you ask?
Keep reading...

But that didn't happen. So I took my first "selfie". 
Boredom had settled in.

These two ducks took pity on me. 
They entertained me for ten minutes, then they too got bored and swam downstream. 

And that's when I noticed this.

Do you see it?

With one eye open at 6 am that morning, I had put my boots on the wrong feet.

Hey, maybe this is a sign of good luck?

Yep! For Steve anyway. He shot this nice 5 point that day.

So the next day I purposely put my boots on the wrong feet.

Steve saw deer too far away to shoot.

I saw...

...nothing. Nada. Zilch.

Truth is, I had TWO perfect chances to get a deer. On opener morning, at exactly 9:08 am, I had a small spike walk into the bait pile. I thought wow, this is going to be easy this year. After five minutes the spike walked into the woods unaware I had been watching him through my scope. He was just too small, I thought to myself. I'll let him grow.

Then five minutes later, a huge spike walked into my other bait pile. Beautiful, I thought. I watched him through my scope for 20 minutes. Should I or shouldn't I????

I didn't. 
The reason being is I assumed that with the great turnout on opener morning, 
there would be more chances to get a deer with just another point on it's rack. 
Maybe a 3 point?

(Side Bar: I truly wasn't trying to be greedy. I've shot three spikes in my lifetime. 
This year I thought I could hold out for something a wee bit bigger.)

I didn't see another deer for the rest of gun season.
 I learned my lesson.
I also learned that what you don't take when offered the chance, 
the other hunters will.

That's the way it goes.
I'm just very thankful for the venison in the freezer.