Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Happy Thanksgiving to All!

I've been working on a plethora of projects, but none so enjoyable and relaxing as crocheting.

I've slowly developed my crocheting skill as I've worked on more projects this year.  I'm thrilled to be able to offer some scarves and such in my Etsy store, TheHuntshire.

As I spend this afternoon winding down with a cup'a tea, some good jams by Bon Iver, and continuing some work on my latest scarf, I am thankful for my hardworking and soft-loving husband who affords me the luxury of being a housewife.  I can pursue my interests by day and enjoy time together as a family when he returns every night.

Looking back on my posts this year, there's lots of events that I am grateful God made part of my life:
☺ We were able to give The Piggals a new place to call home.  They bring joy to everyday moments and have been a creative inspiration to me.
☺ We found a new veterinarian for our pets that we trust.
☺ Our little family's had ups-and-downs health-wise but everything seems to be improving.
☺ Living in a place where mowing the acres with my little tractor and spending the day doing these simply wonderful things can happen.
☺ I've been blessed to visit with my cousin and Hubby's family several times this year.
☺ The development of my new pumpkin pie that I'll be making again tomorrow in preparation for Thanksgiving (but with a ginger-snap crust!).

I just opened my Etsy shop for commissions this morning and I feel so thankful to be able to do something I love while providing something beautiful and useful that will enhance someone's life.  I  look forward to how this year will end and all the new things that will be part of our lives next year!  I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and can find many nuggets in your life to be thankful for!

Bring a smile to someone's face (even if it's your own!) and order and Autumn Sky Openwork Crochet Scarf today...just in time for Christmas giving!  Handcrafted and made with love- TheHuntshire
Bring a smile to someone's face (even if it's your own!) and order and Autumn Sky Openwork Crochet Scarf today...just in time for Christmas giving!  Handcrafted and made to order with love!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Thanksgiving Prep- It's not too late!

Thanksgiving can be a cozy and festive holiday with lots of time for catching up with friends and relatives...if you're well prepared.  Here's some of my Thanksgiving prep list.  You can print it and check off as you go!

Thanksgiving can be a cozy and festive holiday with lots of time for catching up with friends and relatives...if you're well prepared.  Here's some of my Thanksgiving prep list.  You can print it and check off as you go!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Pigture of the Wheek: Luna is the Autumnal Guinea Pig

Luna is the Autumnal Guinea Pig! She's so adorable with her little handmade scarf. Perfect for fall <3 #autumn #fall #PigtureoftheWheek #guineapig #crochet #scarf
Here's a re-blog in case you don't yet follow The Piggals' photo-blog on Tumblr called Pigture of the Wheek 

Seriously, why wouldn't you want this cuteness in your Tumblr feed every week?!!

She was so good for her photo shoot!  I felt a bit ridiculous while I was crocheting the scarf for her, but I think it turned out kinda cute.  I am elbows-deep crocheting a stack of scarves I will be selling in my Etsy store in the coming weeks, so if you'd like a handcrafted (with love!) scarf for yourself or for a gift, keep and eye on this blog.  I'll be sure to announce when my sales go live.  I'll even take commissions if you'd like something personalized.
*Edit: Here's my newly opened Etsy store: TheHuntshire!
Here's where I'm taking commissions for the Autumn Sky Openwork Crochet scarf design!

My mother thinks dressing guinea pigs up and taking their picture is a bit off the deep end, but I enjoy the whimsy and creativity of it!   I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

How to Make an Autumn Care Package!

Make Someone You Love THIS happy! Send a care package! Great gift ideas for stocking stuffers and gift baskets, too!Christmas is coming soon with all of the gifts and cards and well wishes, but that doesn't mean that you have to wait to send a care package to someone you love.  
It's a great time to show someone that you are thinking of them!  Sending a care package before Christmas can show that you don't just want to give them a gift because society dictates that you should.  A non-Christmas gift can feel extra special and be uplifting.  A lot of people tend to get depressed near the winter holidays because they can't be with family or friends, they can't spend as much on gifts as they'd like, or they have Seasonal Affective Disorder.  
An uplifting little "I'm thinking of  you" gift basket won't take away those difficulties, but can sure show your support.

Do you have a child, sibling, or friend in college; a loved-one stationed away from home in the military; or know someone who lives alone?  They'd be so happy to check the mail and find a care package from you!  I'll share some of the methods I use to choose good items to include.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Gooey popcorn balls without corn syrup!

My mother lives hundreds of miles away and we haven't seen each other in many years so staying connected is sometimes more involved than a telephone call.  We both have subscriptions to Netflix and so one of the ways we remain confederate is by ordering the same movie or TV series and watch "together".  Currently my husband and I are watching Dr. Who season 3 "with" my mother.  The other day she suggested that I make some popcorn balls and I thought that would go great with our TV-time!  I haven't made them in well over a decade, so it'd be good to enjoy them again.  I really, really don't like the pre-made ones available near Halloween at the store, so I just haven't had them at all.  Fall is the classic time for these treats, but I think they're great for snacks during baseball season as well.

I love the flexibility of seasonings for these, too. They are little blank canvases and you can even enjoy flavoring each one individually if you like to also!

 I tried to follow a recipe since I was just starting to stretch my popcorn-ball-making muscles, but almost every popcorn ball recipe calls for corn syrup. Well, I'm not a big fan of it in general.  It serves a purpose, but I almost never use it and don't keep it on hand.  Running out to the store for one ingredient is a waste of an hour since I live in the boonies, so I made due with what I had...and I threw recipes out the door.

Making popcorn balls without a recipe or corn syrup.  Perfect for tv time!
Make popcorn
I popped a pile of popcorn in my cast-iron dutch oven.  Like, maybe 8 cups.
A bit of oil in the bottom, set the temp. to medium, shook it around to coat the kernels with  oil, and put the lid on with a small gap. After most had popped, Hubby dumped it out onto a piece of parchment and then put only the popped popcorn back into the dutch oven and discarded the kernels left. 

Make sticky-candy goodness!
Not being too sure what would make a chewy, gooey, but not overly sticky (messy) candy, I just winged it.  Y'know, because I make candy all the time! (I don't!) and because it's so easy! (it takes practice!).
The only ingredient amounts I actually measured was what I started with: 1/2 C wildflower honey, 4 giant Campfire brand marshmallows, and 1/4 C water.  All of that went into the pot on medium.  Once the marshmallows melted, I added about 1 T of butter and turned the heat to low.
It did that foamy, swirly, bubbly, thing that liquid candy does so I thought I was golden!
Not so much.

I dipped a piece of popcorn in, blew on it until it cooled, and tasted.  It was a sickly sweet honey flavor.  Ew. I mean, I like honey but this was like
"I'm a queen bee and I love honeeeyyy!!"
So I added a bunch of salt, like probably 2 Tablespoons of sea salt (but I wasn't measuring). 
Then Chinese five-spice, vanilla bean paste, a few Lancaster caramels (I figured, "Hey, what can it hurt? They already taste like ooey gooey caramel!")
I added a pinch of cinnamon, more salt, a big spoonful of dark brown sugar, granulated sugar, and a bit more butter.  Many tastings.  It was getting better.  Now it was more like
"I'm a bee-keeper and I love honey!"
I dropped a bit into cold water and it was at ball-state so I poured it over the popped corn, stirred, and let it cool a bit while Hubby was setting up our TV watching area by the fireplace.  We don't keep a TV in the living room, but we wanted to snuggle by the fire during our Dr. Who marathon, so he moved it <3  He's the best.

Make the balls
Then we PAM'ed our hands and formed the balls and placed them on the parchment to cool.  If the candy coating isn't cool enough it will be hard to get it to stick together instead of sticking to your hands, so make sure it's cool enough (you also don't want to get burnt by the liquid candy!! It gets super-hot.)

Pack 'em up
After the shows were over, I packed the remaining balls away by cutting the parchment I had already used and wrapped each ball like a piece of peppermint candy and twisting the ends and securing with a rubber band.  I save those fat blue bands that come on broccoli, so I just cut them in half to make two! 

Next time
These came out pretty good and the consistency of the candy was perfect (by sheer luck), but it took everything but the kitchen sink to tone down that strong honey flavor.  My takeaway from this is that I won't use that much honey for them again; it just added too much flavor. 
Some ideas to try instead:  Marshmallows (a'la krispie treats), just break down and buy corn syrup next time I'm at the store, or use granulated sugar.

Thanks to Mom for the idea, Hubby for the ambiance and companionship, and everyone who makes the awesomeness that is Doctor Who!

Friday, November 14, 2014

30 Days of Dead - Free Grateful Dead MP3 Downloads

I am extremely frugal when it comes to buying music and I will almost always wait for a deep discount before buying, so I just love it when one of my favorite bands offers free authorized music downloads!

The Grateful Dead archive site has run a promotion called 30 Days of Dead for many years; one month during which fans can download a 320Kbps MP3 daily of an unreleased and unique Grateful Dead track from the vault, selected by GD archivist and producer David Lemieux.   If ya miss a day, you have all month to download the previous days' featured MP3's.

I have used this promotion to fill out my Grateful Dead collection and I really have enjoyed getting to listen to these gems that were mostly performed before I was born!  I think it's fantastic that the GD community is just as supportive and enthusiastic about the band as ever.  The Grateful Dead were a truly unique style and sound experience and, for me, they defined a decade and lifestyle I wasn't even around to enjoy.

If you are up on your GD history, you can even enter the accompanying contest each day and win a 2015 Grateful Dead calendar that features that awesome & iconic GD art style.
*Both images used are by www.dead.net ©2006 -2012 Grateful Dead Productions

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Taste of Autumn Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin pie is all about the spices, the texture and flavor of pumpkin, and that burnt orange color.
I love pumpkin pie.  I love the simplicity. I love the warm and inviting color.  I love that it embodies seasonal flavors in a not-too-sweet package.  But why do so many recipes get it wrong?
If you follow the label directions of the famous pumpkin puree brand, you will get a decent pie, and if passable is what you're shooting for then you are probably pretty happy with it,  however, it lacks character (seasoning), and the unctuousness that makes you close your eyes and savor it.  

After a few years of piddling around with my recipe, I decided to scrap it and completely deviate from my original (which was based on that famous pumpkin puree brand).

After a bit of searching and pondering (because pondering pie is a wonderful way to spend a day!), I crafted this recipe, created from the Pumpkin Pie recipe of Food Network's Paula Deen.  Now Mrs. Paula's pie is pretty good, but I am not a fan of pretty good.  If I am going to consume a high-calorie dessert, it better be darn great!  Blog-worthy, even!

What really makes this pumpkin pie such a standout is the creamy thickness that the cream cheese lends.  It also cuts the sweetness without cutting the amount of sugar (which is necessary for the color and texture).  You get a nice, thick pie deserving of that gorgeous dessert plate!

This pie also perfectly straddles the fence between dessert and side-dish.  I abso-freaking-lutely detest super sweet desserts and this is NOT one of them... I specifically shot for a recipe that makes you feel like you are cuddling next to a fireplace with a cuppa coffee. In fact, that would be the perfect accompaniment!


  • 8oz.  Cream Cheese, softened for an hour (Philadelphia)
  • 2C  Pumpkin puree (Libby's)
  • 1C  Granulated sugar (Domino)
  • 1/4 t  Table Salt (Morton's Iodized)
  • 1 Lg egg, 2 yolks (Pete & Gerry's)
  • 1 C  Half & Half (Market Pantry)
  • 1/4 C Butter, unsalted, melted (Trader Joe's)
  • 1 t  Pure vanilla bean paste (Nielsen-Massey) *Read note about the paste*
  • 1 t Saigon Cinnamon, ground (The Fresh Market)
  • 1/4 t Ginger, ground (Trader Joe's)
  • 1/2 t Allspice (freshly ground from berries)
  • 1/4 t Cloves, ground (Trader Joe's)
  • 1/4 t Nutmeg, freshly shaved (Trader Joe's)
  • Pie dough


  1. Set out cream cheese and butter to soften for an hour
  2. Prepare pie dough if necessary (if you are being lazy like me, just use Pillsbury Pie Crust and take it out of the fridge 15 minutes before prep-time so it can be successfully rolled into the pie dish.
  3.  Preheat the oven to 350° after the cream cheese has gotten really soft and you are ready to start making the pie.
  4. Roll dough into a 9" pie dish and press firmly into the sides and bottom of the dish.  Cut off excess (save them for a mini-pie!) and crimp the edges.  To make the design in the pie pictured, I placed one index finger flat against the inside rim and rolled the adjacent section down, alternating all the way around.
  5. Place the pie crust in the freezer. Take a 10 minute break. I usually take this time to tidy up where I've been working and get everything prepped for mixing.
  6. Pre-bake the crust- Place aluminum foil into the crust and fill with blind baking beans.  Bake in pre-heated 350°oven for 10 minutes, remove the foil and beans, bake for about 10 minutes more.  It should look toasty and dry.
  7. Make the filling in a large mixing bowl while the crust is pre-baking.
    1.  Beat the softened cream cheese with a hand mixer until it's whippy.
    2.  Add spices (they will help color the cream cheese)
    3.  Add pumpkin and beat on medium to combine.
    4.  Add sugar & salt and beat on medium to combine.
    5.  In a small bowl, combine eggs, half & half, and melted butter.  (Do not add hot melted butter!)
    6. Add liquid mixture to pumpkin mixture and beat on low to combine.
  8. Pour into prepared pie crust and bake at 350° 60-90 minutes until the center is set.
  9. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature (about an hour) and then refrigerate.
* A few notes*

Okay, so about that vanilla paste:  Hubby made a whoopsie at the store when he picked it up for me on his way home from work one day.  I didn't even know this product existed.  It looks JUST like the regular vanilla extract by that brand, but it has a wider mouth on the bottle.  I opened it to discover it was a thick liquid!  I read the bottle to find out that it measures the same so I used it and I'm officially a convert!  The only time I'll use the liquid again is in frostings and drinks and such.. This thicker stuff was perfect in my batter and it was easy to dip my measuring spoon in.

I do occasionally like to use molasses, brown sugar, or maple syrup to sweeten my autumn pies, and I haven't experimented with this pie yet.  I think sweetening and flavoring whipping cream with one of those to garnish would be lovely.

I include the brand names and links to specific products I've used mostly for my personal use in case I decide to tweak a recipe later or something doesn't come out quite right.  I am not sponsored by any of the brands used in this recipe. 

There will be a bit of crust and batter left over, so stuff a ramekin and bake it off at the same time.  You know, for SCIENCE!

The pic was a quickie I took to share with my mom via iPhone, so it's not really great, but that pie was cut up and devoured before I even thought about blogging it :D
Oh well, I'll have to make another one to get a better pic, right?!
What are your favorite pumpkin pie ingredients? What do you like to pair with it or garnish it with?

Friday, November 7, 2014

See my buddy, Mr.Groundhog

We have a few fat, adorable groundhogs on our property. This one
doesn't mind my company so I filmed him while he was eating one day.
His day time hidey-hole is in the vid behind him.  This was filmed last autumn.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Why I haven't blogged in a month

Well, I'm sure no one is sitting around wondering what I've been up to in my month of absence, but for posterity or for the curious, I'll share.

Almost exactly a month ago I got back into the most addicting game, World of Warcraft.  I hadn't played since the 2012 release of the last expansion, Mists of Pandaria.

I really enjoyed it but since then we have moved out to the boonies where high speed internet is only available via AT&T 4G hotspot.  It's pretty pricey, but with the recent Apple iPhone 6 release, AT&T offered a new plan that doubled our data to 60GB/month for $100 less than what we were previously paying for 30GB.  I finally had the data to update the game and get back into WoW just in time for the November 13th release of the next expansion, Warlords of Draenor and WoW's 10th anniversary!

It's been a fun distraction from the stress I've been dealing with, sick kitty, sick piggie, house-hunting anxiety, daily aches & pains, and family issues.  The kit-kat and guinea pig are both fine now, thanks to a great new vet and extra TLC from Hubby.

It's also been nice to reconnect with a good Christian friend I used to play Star Wars The Old Republic (SWTOR) and The Elder Scrolls Online (TESO) with.  He introduced me to a great guild full of generous and active players.  Learning the ropes again has been pleasant and fun.  I made a new character and leveled her to 90. I've never gotten a character that high and there was lots of new things to see and do.
WoW Worgen Druid Gaelgrimma lvl90

Now that I am re-established with the game play and have my character topped out, I will be settling back into a more regular daily schedule.

Have you ever used a hobby as a distraction from stress in your life?  Do you think it's healthy?