Fondue Holidays

So what do you do when you live thousands of miles from family during most holidays? Our answer is fondue.

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It just does not make sense to make a whole turkey and all the sides for the two of us for one day. So we have tried to go out to eat for Thanksgiving the past few years.

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Last year we went to a more upscale buffet with carving stations, but it was beyond crowded and even with a reservation we were seated 2 hours late. On top of that, the restaurant was completely decked-out for Christmas. It’s little hard to enjoy turkey and the harvest season when your staring as a mechanical santa pops in and out of a chimney.

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So this year we have decided to stay in and make fondue. We have done fondue as our annual new years tradition since our first year of marriage. That first year we did fondue in a double broiler on a camp stove.

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The cheese was pasty (more flour than cheese) and the chocolate runny. For more on this see my blog post “a cheesy new years tradition”.

Since then we have done a major upgrade, learned about our ingredients, and bought ourselves a fondue pot.

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For Halloween we decided to have a grown-up Halloween party by having pumpkin gluten free beer cheddar fondue served with green apples, celery, grapes, salami, and bread. Then we made dark chocolate with orange liquor dip for bananas, marshmallows, graham crackers and strawberries. Since we live out in the country, no children come to us to get candy so we took the time to enjoy old Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes. It was fun.

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For Thanksgiving we plan to make a white wine artichoke and spinach cheese fondue with green olives, apples, bread, salami, and mushrooms for dipping. And for dessert we will make a dark chocolate fondue with dark rum and similar fruits and treats as Halloween.

So no turkey for us, but don’t worry we will be full, happy, and thankful for our warm fall, our dog, and cheese.

Hope you all have a wonderful thanksgiving!

our new shed

I know it may seem small but we are very excited to have a new nicer shed. Let me explain why:

We lost our tin shed last winter as the weather changed and the transition from cold to warm bent in the top heavy with a foot of snow.

When spring came we had to tear apart the old shed and find someone to take it to the scrap-metal yard. Then we had to decided if we were building a new one on our own, buying a pre-fab one from a hardware store, or buying one from a local business. After some research we went with supporting a local Amish workshop.

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We chose our model, size, colors etc. then had to re-gravel a pad for the shed and assure there would be no issues for delivery.

We finally got our new shed a few weeks ago. For Luke the shed is a place to organize and put all of his outdoor equipment and tools. I was excited because it meant the back porch was no longer a “catch all” room.

For the past more than six months the back porch has been the laundry room, the tool and outdoor equipment room, the dry food/goods storage, and the recycling center. With Kira, it also became her crated sleeping room.

The recycle area is now in large bins on the side of the shed, the tools and outdoor equipment are in the shed as well. So there is now room to move around back there.

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Also it has now become Kira’s play room while we are gone. With the heavy equipment and tools gone, we could trust her outside of her crate. So we no longer  wake up before dawn to our dog barking because she wants to get out of her crate.

When we leave during the day, or we go to bed at night we set up baby gates over the back porch doorframe. Kira now has her bowls, toys, crate with blankets, and newspaper all in one place with space to move around a play. She even has a window to look out.

And everyone’s happy.

Garden update

As I wrote about this past summer, we decided to start a garden. For more on this see: summer project update garden. We planted several different vegetables for a late summer-early fall harvest. But then we had our first frost two-three weeks before Halloween. So we sadly collected what we could and tore up the garden as prep for the spring.

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This was a little frustrating because that next week until now the weather has been warm, anywhere from 50-80 almost everyday.

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Still it was not all wasted effort. The spinach did well for several weeks. In August I didn’t have to buy any at the store. But we found by September it was not receiving enough sun light.

The green onions never really developed the way we had hoped and the onions and garlic did not have enough time to grow. Also the broccoli never developed blossom heads, but we think this was because a bug was eating the leaves.

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On the positive side our biggest success were our carrots. We had so many that we actually had to thin them out to get larger uncrowded carrots by October. They are a great snacking size, sweet, and one of Kira’s favorite snacks.

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So far it has been a good experience and we are hoping to till more ground for a much larger planting in the spring.

Kira’s first outting

Our lab-mix puppy Kira is now a little over four months old.

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The past few months adjusting to a puppy have been a fun challenge. It was entertaining to watch Kira discover fall winds, rain, baths. It was especially enjoyable to watch her jump into the neat piles of fall leaves Luke made with the blower.

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Through this process we have had to not only be patient with her as she became potty trained, and learned new commands, but we also had to be patient for her to be old enough to go out with people.

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Finally she has all of her booster shots and her rabies shot. To celebrate last weekend we took her for her first official “non-vet” outing to a local state park: stony brook (for more on this see stony brook park). We got set with water, bags, training treats, and collapsible water bowl then drove to the park.

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Although it was cold it was beautiful. There were many starts and stops along the way as Kira pulled on her leash, got over-excited, and went off the trail. The further into the trail we went the more she became comfortable with the pace and staying by our side.

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We were not the only ones at the park. It was not crowded at all but there were some people and dogs. Kira loves people but is still learning about the different sizes and breeds of dogs.

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It was a great chance to show her how to be social. But it also made us realize we still need to train her to not jump on people when she is excited and wants to greet them.

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I was all set for a vigorous walk but quickly realized-this was a training session. We did not come close to completing the trail but it was beautiful and I know we will go back soon.

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