Thursday, November 24, 2011


I am thankful today to be alive and well and for the Lord Jesus who gives us life and hope. Early yesterday morning my husband and I were traveling home to Kentucky for Thanksgiving. It was still dark, we weren't far from home, but I was traveling on a rural road I wasn't too familiar with. In the blink of an eye, we got into a bad accident and ended up on our side in a ditch. We are so THANKFUL that my broken leg and BJ's concussion were our only major injuries. Of course we have some very sore bumps and bruises and have muscular aches, but we are still here and okay. Thank you, Lord!!!

This post was originally supposed to be a local Thanksgiving menu from the Roost but I thought I should update you on my situation. Some of our family came down from KY to take care of us for which we are grateful. We have always wanted to try staying in NC for a low-key Thanksgiving, just not quite this way! So, without any further delay, here is the rest of my original post:

I was thinking how nice it would be to have a Thanksgiving menu that used mostly local, natural ingredients but yet still retain the delicious familiarity and warmth of traditional autumn dishes.

Before you begin, here are some thoughts to consider when trying to eat local Thanksgiving fare:

1) How much of your meal can you obtain from your own garden? If you tend a small or moderate sized homestead garden, you might be able to utilize more of the past year's harvest than you think. Sweet potatoes, autumn squashes, garlic, brussels sprouts, fresh pumpkin, dried herbs, and preserved jams, jellies, and chutneys can all be integrated into traditional Thanksgiving dishes.

2) Where is your turkey coming from? If you do not raise your own turkeys, consider purchasing a heritage, pasture raised fresh turkey from a local farm. This year, we reserved two pasture-raised heritage turkeys (one per family feast) that we will contribute. The flavor and tenderness of the fresh turkey is said to be far above the standard frozen one, and you will rest better knowing no hormones or preservatives were pumped into your bird (not to mention that it lived a happy life while alive!) Of course, our turkey ended up ruined and all over the car from our accident :(

3) If you don't raise a garden or didn't have much of a harvest, purchase local foods from your farmer's market. They usually have a wonderful array of seasonal produce and supporting your local farmers is an added plus.

4) Keep dishes simple and avoid processed ingredients like pre-made canned soups and other canned goods.

Okay, enough of the advice. Let's get to the good part! I've tried to include a variety of dishes and recipes from various sources so you can pick and choose your favorite to try!

-Maple-Bourbon Roast Turkey with Gravy (recipe from the Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook)

-Sweet Potatoes with Pecans and Parmesan (recipe from Real Simple) 

-Butternut Squash Bread Pudding (recipe from Real Simple)

-Brie and Chive Biscuits (recipe from Real Simple)

-Bourbon-Cranberry Compote (recipe from Real Simple)

-Leek and Potato Gratin (recipe from the Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook)

-Corn Pudding (heirloom recipe from my in-laws)

-Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Roasted Chestnuts (recipe from the Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook)

-Pumpkin Goat Cheese Cheesecake (recipe from the Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook)

-Sweet Potato Pound Cake (from Southern Cakes by Nancie McDermott)

P.S. If you family is repulsed by the idea of (heaven forbid!) overhauling your traditional Thanksgiving dishes for different ones, try introducing just one new dish this season. Then, if it's a hit, you can introduce another one the next year, and so on.

Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving - be sure and count your blessings!  Sometimes we don't give thanks enough until we are faced with losing all we have.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Winterizing the Chicken Coop

It's that time of year to begin winterizing your chicken coop (if you haven't already--you folks up north)! Chickens can definitely survive just fine in unheated coops, but it must be dry, somewhat insulated, and free of major drafts. We are fortunate that where we live the weather does not stay below freezing for very long over the winter and in general the temperatures are pretty mild. Of course,  I still worry about my babies though!!

1. Check the coop for any cracks. Make sure it is draft-free!

2. Add an extra layer of pine shavings on the floor to help insulate. Some people add insulation to the walls of their coop as well.

We added some straw mixed in the nesting box to make it cozier for the layers

3. Check for any dampness. This is a problem for me because my chickens like to have a small water bowl inside their coop for a drink while they are confined, but due to spills and drips from their beaks it makes the area around the water bowl moist. I'm weighing whether it is worth it to have extra water inside for them or risk frostbite.

4. Add heat only when necessary. Chickens can naturally tolerate pretty cold temperatures depending on their breed. I raise primarily Dominiques, which are inherently cold-hardy. They are happy to be out in the frigid cold foraging and bracing any weather conditions. However, I do have a small heating pad in the coop that is buried under their pine shavings and comes on automatically when the temperature reaches below 35 degrees. Yes, I'm a sucker and my chickens are spoiled. 

This cord that is connected to their light is buried under the pine
shavings with the heating pad

5. Invest in a chicken waterer heating base. This will prevent your water from freezing since the last thing you want is for your chickens to be without water.

6. Give scratch grains with cracked corn for treats. Corn will help raise your chickens' body temperatures a little, making scratch grains with cracked corn a great winter-time treat for your flock.

Over the summer we extended their run to include this very large round pen that is enclosed with solar-powered electric fencing and covered in netting. It gives them more room to run around and play when we are not at home
to let them out.

How are you keeping your chickies warm this winter? 

P.S. On a side note: I just tried to put cute "Santa" costumes and hats on my chickens for our annual Christmas card photo shoot and it was a DISASTER. Tansy ran around squawking like she was being choked or something by the weird red cape that was on her back- and it easily came off. Rosemary was being frantically chased by the boys who took advantage of the costume that was slowing her down. She eventually ended up getting her foot caught in the ribbon and I found her sitting down helplessly next too a log out in the woods! Poor thing.  The only one who half-way cooperated was Clove, who kept his Santa hat on only because I was holding him. I wish I had it all on video, haha!  What am I going to do?!?!

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

A wall of mirrors or Paul Sawyier prints? Or both?

Do you ever have blank walls in your home that are begging for something beautiful to cover them? I have struggled with what to place on the wall above my sofa in our living room for some time now. A piece of artwork? Haven't found a piece I like (or can afford) right now.... Family photos? Would need to do a nice photo shoot and have matted and framed.... Something with texture or more three-dimensional for interest? Hmmm......

Using what I already have, I came up with two options:

1) Hang all (or several of) the mirrors I have together in a collection on this wall. It would be easy enough to purchase small decorative mirrors for any open spaces left in the grouping.

2) Group together all of my beloved matted and framed Paul Sawyier Prints to create a "gallery wall." Paul Sawyier was a Kentucky artist famous for his watercolors of local scenes in soft, muted colors. Many of his works are of scenes located along the Kentucky River or in Frankfort (my hometown!), which is a big reason why I am so attached to his art. I like the idea of grouping my prints together, but am not so sure that the colors are going to work in this room. Also, taking prints from walls in other rooms to use in the living room would leave some blank spaces that I'd need to fill.

For now, I have decided to use a combination of the two. I'm please with how it turned out but I'm not set on it staying this way. Perhaps I will move two more of the larger Paul Sawyiers from my entryway (shown in the photo below) to add to this wall?

So many decisions! Seems like I am always changing things up, but, I'm the kind of person that needs variety in my space.

Which option do you like?

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Dining Room

I'm joining Cottage and Vine's Room by Room party today on dining rooms. I know you have probably seen enough of my dining room with the various tablescapes I've posted and such so bear with me. So where to start?  I like my dining room.....I like that it is a separate room and not just an open "space" devoted to dining. However, there are definitely things I would change if we weren't renting and I had free reign. Like for instance, I'd paint the wainscoting white and I'd change out the chandelier.

Eventually I would love to invest in a large, very long dining table that is able to seat at least ten people, preferably more for large family gatherings. But for now, our table seats eight which isn't too bad. I envision a couple of elegant wingback chairs at each end of the table.

Another thing I like about our dining room is that it has a fireplace. A little unusual for dining rooms, but not for dining rooms in historic homes.  It's fun to have a nice cozy fire when entertaining friends for dinner :)

Below is our china cabinet that houses my brown transferware collection. You can read more about my china cabinet find here

What are your thoughts on what makes a great dining room? Casual or formal?  Have a wonderful week! 

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Busy as a Bee

Sorry I've been MIA a little bit lately.....but I've been getting ready for a photo shoot of my house for one of Apartment Therapy's "green tours" on the Re-nest section of their blog.  Agghhhh!!  Talk about running around like crazy, cleaning cleaning cleaning, shoving stuff in closets that I don't have places for, and making the house look as uncluttered as it's ever been.  Whew! I'm exhausted.

Katie of Domestiphobia was nice enough to come all the way out to our little
homestead for the photo shoot! Thanks Katie :)

More updates to come soon!  Thanks for being so patient with my irregular posting and always such wonderful readers :)

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Thanksgiving Table

Hello, friends!  So who is ready for Thanksgiving, yet? I am LOVING fall and Thanksgiving has become one of my favorite Holidays as I've grown older.  In addition to the meaning of the Holiday and the reminder of all we have to be grateful for, I enjoy the ceremony of planning and preparing the delicious fall dishes that make up the Thanksgiving feast.

Of course, one of my favorite parts is setting the Thanksgiving table. Although my table here is not set for Thanksgiving dinner since we spend the Holiday in Kentucky with our parents, I have set a fall table that could also be appropriate for Thanksgiving or just an autumn brunch.

I can't resist using my Johnson Bros. Dover Brown transferware for an autumn or Thanksgiving table. For the centerpiece, I stacked old books for height filled my transferware coffeepot with leaves and clippings from around my yard. Clear pedestal vases filled with nuts and Pottery Barn birch candles flank the centerpiece. 

I like change and variety, so next year I'm sure I will create a different look. How do you like to set your Thanksgiving table? Traditional or modern? Rustic or bright and cheerful? 

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