Saturday, November 28, 2015

An Island Thanksgiving

Yesterday marked the first time that Cody and I have ever hosted a holiday at our home.  We've spent so much time traveling and moving around over the last few years that we've never hosted anything, and we haven't spent very many holidays even together. Typically, Cody heads down to southern Illinois to visit his family and I head to northern Illinois and/or southern Michigan to see mine.

This year, my mom and her boyfriend, Mark, volunteered to come visit us for a rainy, island Thanksgiving. It was soooo nice to not have to travel and worry about packing, booking flights, or renting cars.  Instead, we worried about planning a meal.

We opted to forgo the turkey this year because they were nearly $40 on the island, and 1/4 of the people attending our meal were vegetarian. The carnivores made a batch of homemade chicken and dumplings. Then, for everyone we made green bean and mushroom casserole, rolls, potatoes, and giant Greek salads.  We wrapped up our wonderful meal with two pumpkin pies for dessert.

It was a lovely Thanksgiving weekend. Our holiday consisted only of relaxation, doggy fun,  and baking, which was perfect for the rainy holiday. And, as much as I love to be a bit of a traveling nomad, it was extremely nice to be at my own house, enjoying a holiday free of airports, hotels, and vending machine food. 

Your turn...How was your holiday? 
Currently listening to...Flapper Girl-The Lumineers

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Stacking Firewood

This is our first year heating our home with wood, and I've got to tell you, it's quite the adventure. Before this year, I'd always romanticized the idea of heating a home with only wood.  The thought of cutting our own wood and providing our own heat seemed very idyllic and homestead-y, which is sort of my goal in life.

To be fair, I do love snuggling up by the fire and reading a good book, or cuddling with Cody and the dogs. It is romantic and ideal in many ways.  It is also a huge amount of work though.  Aside from cutting the wood, which we did only a minimal amount of this year because of how late we moved in, there are many other chores. We clean the inside of the stove each morning before starting a new fire and this requires venturing out into the brisk morning air to dump the ashes into our designated ash bucket, which never sounds fun at 5 o'clock in the morning. 

The biggest chore that we are focusing on now is stacking the wood.  It took us quite some time to stack all of the wood that we had acquired for the winter.  Many, many hours of serious manual labor were put into this endeavor.  We have stacked about seven face chords of wood total (I think).  We don't fully know how much wood we will need for the winter, but we are crossing our fingers that we don't need to find more mid-winter.

Half of our wood went into our hut, which is an insulated building that sits next to our house. It actually has electricity and heat, so it has been used as a "tiny" house before, but we needed a designated wood shed. It's the perfect place to keep the wood dry.

The other half of the wood is stacked on top of pallets on the opposite side of our house.  The stacks that are outside are covered with tarps to help keep the rain and snow off of the logs.  We plan to gradually move more logs into the hut as winter progresses.  We may start moving them sooner though.  Wet wood is a big worry.

We also keep about 40 logs in the house at one time. These logs sit in a small wood closet next to our front door. Typically, we have been hauling these in on Sunday, but I assume this will get more frequent now that the temperatures are dropping drastically. I anticipate that we will have to fill it 2-3 times per week, but at this point it is all guesswork for us.  Lots of guesswork is going into keeping the house heated right now.  I've heard from others who heat exclusively with wood that it takes a while to figure out what is right for your house.  Here's to hoping that we figure it out soon! 

Your turn...Have you ever heated your home with wood?
Currently listening to...American Heartache - The Wood Brothers

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Feeling Like Fall

I really love the feeling that goes along with fall on the island.  The colors are vibrant and beautiful, making the world seem bright for a time...and then everything quiets.  The tourists who scuttle to the island for our very short summer season have all cleared out for the year, their houses empty and buttoned down tight to survive the winter.  Those of us who brave the island year round begin to settle into our regular routines.

As the colors change, so do many small things on the island.  The one grocery store has cut back to winter hours, which means on Sunday it is only open for two hours. The grocery store has also closed-up some of the shelves.  During the winter, a small fraction of the store disappears under plastic wrap and we won't see it again until May. Winter hours also cause new inconveniences in banking because the bank is only open two days a week for a small handful of hours (all while I am working). There are also adjustments to be made by the boat company, and all of the other small businesses around the island. It takes a lot of work to transition into winter in this little remote corner of Michigan.

Fall also means lots of work for islanders.  The summer-only crowd hires like crazy to have locals close their houses for the season, or to fix last minute things that can't wait the winter.  Roadwork is at an all time high because any little, leftover projects have to be finished quickly. The school is buzzing with end of the quarter insanity and the beginning of basketball season.  And, for many of us, the firewood can no longer be put off and we must cut and stack in all of our free time.

Like all good things it must come to an end though.  The trees shed their last leaves and ice has been coating everything the last few mornings.  Snow is in the forecast, which is unavoidable this late in the year.  I am always (secretly) a bit excited for the first big snow though.  I don't think it'll be too far off now.

Your turn...What has fall been like for you this year?
Currently listening to...Summertime Sadness - Lana Del Rey

Friday, November 6, 2015

New Home Mishaps

The last two weeks have been full of accidents...natural disasters...acts of God...whatever you want to call them.  They haven't been good.  That I know for certain.

First, a rather large tree came crashing down on our house.  I happened to be alone in a dark bedroom, reading a spooky story when the tree crashed through the roof above my head.  It didn't make a hole in the bedroom ceiling (thankfully), but it did put two decent holes directly into the roof and it knocked off a piece of the siding. Cody and I rushed outside and saw the tree pieces littering the yard and roof.  Yikes.

We thought that we were in the clear.  That is, until a gigantic grouse (kind of like a small turkey) came crashing through the front picture window of our house.  Glass shards spanned three rooms of the house.  The poor dogs were stuck in it for hours before we noticed it.  Cody came home for lunch that day, but it still could have been up to three hours that they were alone in the house with glass and a gigantic, completely uninjured bird.  The bird was as big as Luna, our puppy.  It spent so much time in our house that it started to make a nest out of my new curtains that had been folded on the counter. The bird was caught in a large box and released.  The window is currently covered in plywood.

These two incidents happened mere days apart and nearly drove me to a heart attack. I'm hoping we've used up our quota of bad luck.  We are in serious need of a break from random acts of insanity. Both issues are being fixed this weekend.  Thank goodness for small miracles.

Your turn...What is the strangest thing that has happened to your house or apartment?
Currently listening to...Killed Myself When I Was Young - AA Bondy

Monday, November 2, 2015

Apple Pizza

Mondays mean cooking class for all of the early elementary students (kindergarten-3rd grade) at my school.  We are very lucky that a wonderful retired teacher comes into our school once a week to cook with students from 2:00-3:15.  My class always looks forward to cooking and eating delicious treats. Some of the older students even beg to join from time to time, which means it must be a blast.

A couple of weeks ago the class tried a recipe sooooo delicious (yes, I stole a bite) that I had to recreate it at home. The recipe was for apple pizza.

Apple Pizza
1 package biscuit dough
5 small or 3 large apples
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 T cinnamon
2 T flour
3 T butter
Directions: Mix dry ingridients together. Roll biscuits flat on a cookie sheet. Cover with chopped apples. Sprinkle dry ingridients on top of apples. Dot with butter. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

Hello, beautiful dessert! I actually added a little Asiago cheese on top of mine for a little added melt-y goodness. When my students made it at school they served it with vanilla ice cream, which was sheer amazing-ness. Both ways (cheese or ice cream) are super tasty!

Your turn...What are some of your favorite treats to cook?
Currently listening to...Mountain Sound - Of Monsters and Men