October 2009 Chickens in the Road Newsletter

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October 2009 Chickens in the Road Newsletter


*Story: The City
*Kitchen Extra: Pumpkin Butter
*Embarrassing Photo of the Month: The Drinks
*My Favorite Thing Right Now: This Note
*Recent Highlights: Signed, Sealed, Not Yet Delivered, How to Make a Corn Husk Wreath, Pear and Cheddar Galette, and More
*Sneak Peek: Sachets
*Blast from the Past: You Can Take the Boy Out of the Country, But You Can’t Take the Country Out of the Boy

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*Story: The City

We climbed onto the turnip truck recently and fell off in the big city. Charleston, WV! We were after cell phones. Actually, we had two cell phones, generously donated by a friend, so we just needed one more. (Ross already had a cell phone, of course–no 18-year-old boy in his right mind wouldn’t! But Morgan, Weston, and I needed phones.) I’ve had cell phones in the past, but my last one broke. Morgan and Weston had both lost previous cell phones. And we have no cell service on our farm, so we were in the kind of shape where I just said, forget it, who needs a cell phone? But they are in sports. And sometimes I’m off driving down the road and my car breaks down. And then they actually put in a cell tower in our tiny town! Major excitement!

Not that we have cell service on our farm, still. The tower in town isn’t close enough. But for other reasons I decided it was time to break down and get cell phones again.

Back when I used to write romance novels, I wrote a storyline that involved lack of cell service in a rural area. The manuscript came back to me slapped with a note from the copy editor saying this was unbelievable because everyone has cell service. People in New York City are so funny sometimes.

Having tracked down a cell phone store in the mall, we showed up there with all our starry-eyed wonder and excitement. Weston didn’t remember ever being to a mall before! They even got to eat in the food court! (They couldn’t remember the last time they ate something not cooked by me or their school, either.) And it had been just long enough since we’d had cell phones that we felt as if we’d never had them, and cell phones have changed so much in the past few years, it was truly almost as if we hadn’t. You probably already know this, but cell phones now TAKE PICTURES!!! (I know. I really did come into town on a turnip truck.)

Me, to Weston: “How do I get a picture of Clover on my phone?”


Okay, this is enough humiliation for today.

We followed up our cell phone acquisitions with a tour of the Charleston Daily Mail offices, provided by Charleston photographer Jerry Waters and editor Monica Orosz.

Behold, the portal!


Here’s where all the magic happens.


Monica Orosz edits the country living column I write for the Charleston Daily Mail.


She was doing very important things before we showed up to play with paper cows….


….and balls.


She showed me the Giant! Presses!


(Thank you to Jerry Waters for some of the photos in this section of the newsletter.)

Here, Monica’s showing me where the press once ate a small child.


(I made that up! It was only a cat.)

Weston and Morgan didn’t see the Giant! Presses! because someone had whispered the word “cake” in the hallway and they were swept away.

We couldn’t leave town without stopping to see the plane crash in front of the cultural center.


Okay, it’s not really a plane crash, but we’re not sure what it is. We don’t understand the big city. Weston took a picture of it with his phone and made it his wallpaper. I went home to take a picture of Clover. And I would like to say we lived happily ever after with cell phone service (except on our farm), the children secure in their ability to text their friends and call me after practices, and me secure in my ability to call for help should my car break down. However, this is what I must report instead.

1) Weston calls me every day on someone else’s phone because he keeps forgetting to put his phone in his backpack.

2) Morgan’s phone is currently sitting in the principal’s office because she was texting in class. (I’ll pick it up eventually. I’m letting her suffer for a few days.)

3) My car broke down a few days ago and my cell phone was dead because I forgot to charge it.

Mayhap next time we should just keep the turnip truck….


….right here.

*Kitchen Extra: Pumpkin Butter

Home canning pumpkin butter or any mashed or pureed pumpkin or winter squash is not recommended. (See here for more information.) But–that doesn’t mean you can’t make it! You can refrigerate it to use within a week or two, or freeze it for longer storage. This recipe makes a small amount, just right for a little autumn spice on your morning toast. (And it’s easy!) Most pumpkin butter recipes uses apple juice. I use lemon-I think it makes a better flavor. And, of course, there are lots of spices!

How to make Pumpkin Butter:

1 16-ounce can solid pack pumpkin or 2 cups fresh pumpkin puree
1/3 cup lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Combine ingredients in a medium-size saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer for 30 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Let cool. Spoon into jars and keep refrigerated, or freeze in freezer containers. For me, this cooks out to 20 ounces. I’m using one 12-ounce jar and one 8-ounce jar here for storage.


By the way, after mashing my pumpkin, I also run it through the blender to make it super smooth. You want it very smooth for butter. As another aside, you can make this recipe using any winter squash such as cushaw or butternut.

*Embarrassing Photo of the Month: The Drinks

Another seriously tragic revelation.


Remember the big party? These were the drinks. The drink containers are still sitting on the back porch railings. Apparently, I’m waiting for a fairy to come along, dump the leftovers, and clean them out…. Sweet tea, anyone?

*My Favorite Thing Right Now: This Note

The volleyball season is finally over. (It will be followed almost immediately by the beginning of basketball season. Which is followed by softball season…. Then it’s time for volleyball again.)


The end came with a note from the volleyball coaches, accompanied by a handwritten note from each girl to their mother. Morgan wrote hers with her usual inimitable style: “Thank you, Mother, for putting up with me and the sports that I play. I know that they take their toll on you throughout the year, not to mention all the other things that I do in my spare time, leaving you absolutely no spare time. To make it short, I just want to say thank you. Love, Morgan.” It’s nice to be appreciated. The only thing that would have made this note perfect would have been if she’d ended it by abiding me a good day.

*Recent Highlights: Signed, Sealed, Not Yet Delivered, How to Make a Corn Husk Wreath, Pear and Cheddar Galette, and More

In the barn, you’ve got to see The Many Faces of the Giant Puppy, The Sweetest Thing (a celebration of Kitten and Little’s enduring love affair), and Cleanliness is Next to Duckliness (a celebration of a duck’s love affair with himself). Find all my cute farm animal stories here.

Try my Cheesy Sausage Corn Muffins with some Spicy Black Bean, Chicken and Corn Stew, and have a Pear and Cheddar Galette for dessert. Don’t miss a thing! Get all my recipes.

See all the highlights from our annual Chickens in the Road Party on the Farm, my oldest child’s persistent journey to join the Navy’s nuclear power program in Signed, Sealed, Not Yet Delivered, and take a Trip to a Hay Meadow with me. See all my country living stories.

Don’t miss How to Make a Corn Husk Wreath and Decorating for an Autumn Party for Free. See all my other posts in crafts.

Also see all my garden stories.

*Sneak Peak: Sachets

The dehydrator is busy with herbs these days.


I’m not just drying herbs for cooking, but also for crafts. (Pictured: lavendar.) I’ll be using sweet-smelling herbs in hand-sewn sachets and potpourri mixes. Watch the blog for sachet plans soon. (Makes great Christmas gifts!)

*Blast from the Past: You Can Take the Boy Out of the Country, But You Can’t Take the Country Out of the Boy

All I wanted was more than a couple of measly tablespoons of milk from Clover. It took my country-turned-city-boy father to come back to West Virginia to show me how it’s done. The doctor is in!

Read You Can Take the Boy Out of the Country, But You Can’t Take the Country Out of the Boy for the whole ridiculous story.

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