‘Vacations & Holidays’ Category

Happy New Year! Welcome, 2013.

Posted on January 1st, 2013 by Tonia 1 Comment

Image courtesy of Bayfield, Wisconsin’s Hannah Stonehouse Hudson: Sunrise over Lake Superior, first day of 2013.

Hi friends! How were your holidays? We are still finding bits of Christmas wrapping paper in weird places around the house, recovering from all the over-eating, and trying to settle back into a work schedule after a gloriously long break from computers and phone-calls and to-do lists. It’s not an easy transition to make, hence here I am typing a blog post instead of facing that ugly mountain of work! Thanks for the distraction! I can always count on you guys to have my back, that’s why I love ya.

If you follow me here and here, you saw that we ended up staying home for Christmas instead of going to our families’ houses because of a badly-timed broken propane boiler. My family swooped in and saved the day by bringing their Christmas meal and all the merriment to us! We ate well, played games and exchanged gifts and it was so nice to not have to drive anywhere. I could get used to this broken-boiler-business, actually. It might just mysteriously break every year from now on..

But, sadly the broken boiler meant we missed out on spending very much time with Mike’s side of the family, so we’re headed down to them in MN this weekend to make up for lost time and to bite our nails through the first NFL Playoff game between the Packers (yaaaaay!) and the Vikings (boooo!) all together. Mike and I will be the only Packer fans in the room, so please pray for us. 😉

Last night, we celebrated the last evening of 2012 and the dawn of 2013 at a friend’s house down the road. It was about zero degrees (F) once the sun went down, but that didn’t stop a group of about eight of us from x-country skiing around their property. We wound through tall pine woods and over farm fields and in-between 100-year-old apple trees. The stars and moon were out in full force, lighting our way and giving us an excuse to occasionally stop and catch our breath. The sky was so massive and blanketing. We looked like little black ants under its cover.

Back at the house there was a sauna heating up, chili on the stove and gallons of clementine-rosemary cocktails waiting for us. Nothing feels better than a warm cabin and amazing food and some booze after a good ski. Conversations and laughter swelled right up until 11:59 when someone shouted “Oh Shit! It’s almost midnight!” and we all quickly refilled our glasses and scooted next to the person we would kiss.

There’s a lot on the brink for our group of friends in 2013. One couple is moving away for a job opportunity (the kind you move away for, because it’s that good.) One couple is having a baby. One couple is getting married. And a whole slew of us are soldering on with various irons in the fire. We are all so blessed to have each other for support, encouragement and, when needed, distraction. The same person I can debate politics with or confide struggles to is the same person I can crack open a PBR with and say “that’s what she said” to. Looking around the room last night I thought about how friends like this are so incredibly priceless and necessary and rare and beautiful, and how I feel like the luckiest person alive to have them.

So far so good, 2013. So far so good.

I’ve gotta get to work here, so I’ll leave you with a list of things you may have missed recently if you don’t keep up with me on Instagram or Twitter. Happy New Year!!

1. We butchered our turkeys. “Thanksgiving” the tom was 37 lbs, dressed! Photo from his last day right here, and photo of the end result right here.

2. We went to Lambeau for a Packer game with Jenn and Trevor and froze our butts off like any good fans would do. It was a blast!

3. We made our first sausages with shoulder meat from the pig. It’s delicious.

4. We made a little wooden barn for Christmas for our niece Amelia, so she can play with her wooden animals in it. She loved it.

5. Mike welded a tree stand for our funny-shaped Christmas tree. It even holds water! We might be on to something. Should we start an Etsy shop? LOL! P.S. Benefit of trees/tree-stands like this is that they take up very little floor-space.

A Very Merry Christmas to You!

Posted on December 21st, 2012 by Tonia 2 Comments

The world is tucked in for the night under drifts of soft snow.
The chickens are nestled all snug in on their shed.
The dogs are anxious and ready to go.
They know at Grandma’s house lots of treats will be fed.
But the roads are icy so we’ll have to drive slow.

Have a very merry Christmas, all! We are heading off to be with our families for the holiday. Looking forward to the good company and good food. Meet you back here in about a week!

Tonia, Mike, Charlie, Jack, Cleo, the chickens and the horses.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted on November 20th, 2012 by Tonia 1 Comment

We’re jumping in the car tomorrow and whisking off to Chicago, where most of my extended family lives, for the holiday weekend. Looking forward to seeing the city all dressed up for the holidays {I love going downtown and looking at all the beautiful store window displays}, visiting with relatives, the traditional pre-Thanksgiving-feast flag football game with all my cousins, and of course THE FOOD! Is there anything better than an enormous homemade Thanksgiving feast, shared with family? Nope.

We’ve been rushing around this week, getting the homestead ready for its long sleep under the snow. The forecast is looking quite gray, and we expect it will snow while we’re gone. We harvested the last of the onions, carrots, potatoes, squash, and leeks– left in the ground a little longer because I swear they taste better after they’ve withstood a frost or two.

One thing we haven’t gotten around to yet: Butchering the turkeys. Their time will come when we return home. I’m envisioning a big turkey dinner with our friends here in Washburn sometime in early December. Until then, the turkeys are still alive. And very, very fat. I think they’re setting a record for longest living domestic turkeys, ever.

Have a wonderful holiday, readers! Travel safe, stay warm, and may the spirit of the season seep into your bones and tickle up your spine. I hope that, no matter your situation, you’re able to feel thankful for all the precious gifts of this life.

We Ran Away to Spain…

Posted on November 6th, 2012 by Tonia 1 Comment

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you saw that I have been in Spain for the past week with Mike and two friends of ours.

The trip was kind of shotgun {the four of us were out to dinner together, eating pizza and talking about traveling, decided we should all go on a trip together ASAP, planned it in one day and bought our tickets before we could think too hard about it.} It was a thrill to just up-and-go somewhere, even though it was kind of bad timing {work is crazy right now…} and made the whole trip feel romantic and spontaneous.

Of course, the romantic feeling could also have been due to how incredibly romantic Spain is. Have you ever witnessed the blushing, throbbing passion of live Flamenco? We did. And, wow.

We started off in Vejer de la Frontera- a small town in the region of Andelucia, on the Atlantic coast {Morocco’s just a one hour ferry ride away.} We stayed in a little cottage on a farm {found via VRBO.com} owned by a British couple.

It was so quiet and relaxing, and we ate fresh eggs and potatoes for breakfast every day. The days were warm and sunny, but at night the temps dropped so we took advantage of the little woodstove in the cottage and sat around its radiant warmth, sipping wine and reading.

After a few days in Vejer, we jumped a bus to Cadiz, situated right on the Straights of Gibraltar. It’s usually a beach-vacation destination but we were there at the wrong time of year for that. We walked around and enjoyed the ancient architecture {it’s one of the oldest cities in all of Europe} and the GIANT Rubber trees in the park.

I ate churros in Cadiz, and was pretty excited about it. They lived up to all my fried-doughy-goodness expectations.

From Cadiz we continued by train to Seville, where we stayed for three days. The name of the game in Seville is tappas and Flamenco music, and we enjoyed both to the max. I was blown away by the intensity and talent of the flamenco performers- never seen anything quite like it!

Other things I loved about Spain:
The obscene amounts of cafe con leche we consumed. Mannnnn oh man I am going to miss the cafe con leches! / The Thyssen-Bornemisza art museum in Madrid. I got to see works by all of my favorite Impressionist and Fauvist artists- really special! / The hotel we stayed at in Seville, La Casa de Maestro- so much character and so comfy! / The fresh-squeezed “zumo de naranja” {orange juice}. Holy yum. / The hot, sweet roasted chestnuts you can buy on the street and peal and eat while you walk around. So delicious. / The hot Spanish guys. What?

We got back late last night and, as usual, it feels really freakin good to be home. We owe a huge thank you to our neighbors Bob and Sarah who held down the fort for us {they even changed the cat litter-box and watered our house plants! Neighbors of The Year Award.} THANK YOU!!

I have more photos {like, real CAMERA photos} and stories from the trip, but they’ll have to wait. This week is going to be n-u-t-s, catching up on work and household stuff after being gone. I promise, though…hog butchering post/photos coming soon! Thank you all for your comments and interest on the subject. I’m looking forward to sharing the process and discussing the whole idea of raising animals for food with you. Hasta luego!