Friday, November 26, 2010

Hearts Full of Thanks

We've been thinking back on holiday memories and for nearly 30 years I have heard about
the infamous Carrot Pudding and Hard Sauce that Mark's paternal Grandmother made every year at Christmas. His family LOVED it! Sadly, the recipe was never really made much after she
passed away in 1978, I believe. A few years ago I had been over to visit Mark's Aunt Jana and she shared a few recipes and family stories with me. I found the notes I took and did a little research on Carrot Pudding. Mark's mom and I came up with what we thought would work well and we DID IT!
It was a fun experiment to try - but the overall vote was...
Our family likes our favorite Apple Cake & Caramel Sauce better.
Lesson learned: Keep those family favorites alive and share them!
Having never tasted the pudding or the hard sauce I just went with what I was told.
The hard sauce was described as a thick, stiff, butter-cream type sauce that was a little yellow.
Because I didn't have an old coffee can laying around - I had read where some people steam their pudding in mason jars. That's what we did and it worked beautifully!

We covered the jars with parchment and the pudding streamed for
about 2 1/2 hours in a large pot covered with a lid.

The finished product! Wish I had snapped a photo of someone eating theirs with the hard sauce
but I didn't. It was tasty and fun to try. We will absolutely be sharing our favorite Apple Cake recipe and teaching our children to how to make it. Long live tradition!

Here is the roaster that our 22 pound turkey almost fit into! We had to place weights on the top to hold the lid down. He was baked to perfection in about four hours! The poor bird was falling apart. It was probably the juiciest bird we have ever roasted!

Emily typed up our menu for us and we include it here for reference:

Firth Family

Thanksgiving Feast

Herb Roasted Turkey

Fresh Mashed Russets with Grandma’s Famous

Turkey Gravy

Three-cheese and Bacon Stuffed Mini Portabellas

Sweet Potato Surprise

Boston Parker House Rolls

Served with Hidden Village Honey and Homemade Jam

Caramel Pecan Rolls

Deer Hollow Stuffing with Apples and Pine Nuts

Jason’s Self-Dressed Garden Salad

Raw Vanilla-Cranberry Sauce

Rosemary-JalapeƱo Hummus with Organic Crackers

Freshly Steamed Peas and Asparagus


Heavenly Lemon Meringue Pie

Mandy’s Pecan Pie

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Grandma Dorothy’s Carrot Pudding and Hard Sauce

We actually served the Carrot Pudding on Thanksgiving Eve. The Pumpkin Cheesecake was so yummy. I used real ginger cookies from a favorite bakery for the crust. And I will confess that Mark & I enjoyed the leftovers of the Pecan Pie for several breakfasts following Turkey Day!!

We set an eclectic table featuring our favorite pewter goblets and these very sweet plates given to me by Grandma Doris many years ago. They came from England and we love them. (long live the Queen :)

Grandma Marie gave Lindsey & Emily a lesson on making a perfect batch of gravy
because she does, every time!

And Mark took notes from Grandpa Ronald as he prepared his famous mashed potatoes!

So sorry I missed Molly in this can catch the tip of her head. She loved her
1st Thanksgiving meal, especially the sweet, green peas. (Camber really is happy) And we
loved having Uncle Jason here to share the day with us! xo Our hearts are full and we feel very blessed as a family to have a warm place to be and each other. {We missed our kids in Portland and Maryland very, very much today. We know they were sharing love and traditions as well.}

Everyone's favorite!

Lindsey's first try at a Lemon Meringue ~ Well done!

I am thankful for adorable little grandchildren that take warm, sudsy baths in our tub!
Molly found curlers in a drawer and presented them to her mother. What a girlie she is!

How we all felt after our delicious meal.

Winter has arrived and we won't be picnicking at our table for awhile.

Instead we will enjoy walks in the snow....

Below Sandor & Mark

(Sandor is one of our favorite people!)

Tying flies...

(Don't you love how they have maneuvered the desk to have view of the game?

And creating cute things!

Spoiler Alert !



for Miss Elsie and my cute little niece in England, Miss Felicity and their mamas.

Lindsey and I had so much fun making these little holiday dresses for Molly & Elsie!

And a peek at what is going in the mail to Felicity - today!

(And Dani, Elsie's Blue Dress should be finished soon!)

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Good Shepherd

After just over 5 years of service, Mark was released as Bishop.
It was a sweet meeting yesterday. We are really excited for the
new Bishopric and so grateful for the two sets of counselors
he was able to serve with and the countless members
he has worked with over his years of service.
He always said our ward was the perfect ward to be a bishop in.
Really sweet people.
(in blog land, sometimes I don't
want to be too specific with names & places - privacy issues)

It has been a sweet time for him and our family. He is a remarkable
man with a gift to work with people. He is also an amazing
teacher and mentor. We love him and are so glad he is ours!

His woodwork is calling his name...and NO meetings this week!

As I drove into our neighborhood yesterday after our meetings,
I saw this tree in front of our drive standing out in the winter landscape.
She doesn't want to give up her leaves like all of the other trees have.
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Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Project Begins...

A few recent  photos of how the studio is evolving.  
It is very well loved and lived in!

This post reads backwards so to see the story of the addition
you will need to scroll down to the bottom and work up.

November 2011
We have finally put some of the finishing touches on the studio.  The beds are wonderful and the dye kitchen is just a dream!  No more messes in our family kitchen! Just wanted to add a few more photos.  I am still hunting for a few lost ones ;)

APRIL 2, 2011 I haven't been to good about keeping this post up to date.  BUSY!! We have come a long way in a few weeks.  The sheet rock went up (March 14th) and the the walls were textured (March 17th).  Last weekend we painted - the color on the walls is Stone Gray (Porters Paint). The sprayer Jake borrowed from his family was a life saver! So was he :) 
This nifty truck has a conveyer belt that lets them toss the shingles on and get them up on the roof!

 The roofer and his daughter.  They have done a great job!  The color of our new shingles is Walnut and I still need to take a photo of the finished roof.  Everytime I think about it they are covered in snow!!

The sheet rock is delivered and instead of carrying it piece by piece up the stairs - they remove 
one of the windows and send up that way!  These builder guys are sooo smart!

 This photo shows Mark sanding the floor.  It wasn't near as dusty as we had anticipated.  
That was a nice surprise!

We did this before painting for obvious reasons.  Every step is a process and you need to always be thinking through what comes next...Once the sheet rock was up - the walls were textured - then we sanded the floor - covering it once again to keep it as clean as possible. Then Mark & Jake sprayed the entire room with the primer, let that dry a few hours and then painted the ceiling.  The following day we sprayed the walls from about 20" down from the ceiling to the floor and then we rolled the upper part next to the ceiling.  Next, Mark sprayed all the trim he had precut for the baseboards window trim.  We did that the same color as the ceiling.
Here are Jake and Mark ready to spray on the primer.

This is a picture of the color on the walls.  It looks like mud :) but we think it is very soothing.

Back to the floor now... We spent a good part of Saturday, April 2nd meticulously covering all the seams and as many of the nail holes we could find.  Our aching backs!  
SOOO happy we have a hot tub to soak our bones in tonight!
 Mark sanded all the filler down and we swept and vacummed the best we could.  He headed off to Priesthood and I got the joyful job of applying the stain!!  I was in heaven and probably pretty high on those yummy oil based fumes :)  The room has accoustics and I truly sung my little heart out! I think I sounded great!!
 It is so much fun to put RED color on a floor!!

 By Monday we will be ready to do the next step ~ Glazing.  Just for fun, the color of our stain is Blaze.  The four colors we will glaze with are: Mustang (Brown), Bordeaux (Deep Burgandy), Orange Nectar and Exotic Red.  What awesome ingredients! The glazing should go pretty fast - we think... then we plan to put 2-3 coats of poyurethane on.  Once we have applied those coats, allowing for the dry time between coats, it will need to cure for at least a week before we can put any furniture on it.  Patience and strong backs.  That's what we need!

Also, The new garage was painted last week and the new garage door was hung. Brian will be here Monday morning to paint the garage floor...THEN we can start putting up shelves and moving things out of the old garage one more time! The old garage still needs the sheetrock hung on the ceiling and patched where they put some holes in the walls. We are getting close folks! Mark has started the busy job of building furniture for the room! He has his work cut out for him but he is looking forward to it!

And...I picked up my little chandelier for the beading area this afternoon :) FUN!
Thanks for sharing in our excitement with this crazy project!
We really can't wait to share it with you in person!!

MARCH 11, 2011  Yesterday the insulation guys made a visit to our house.  We have been so impressed with how kind and considerate all of the workers have been.  We had Aaron and Luke today.  It was great to see the process.  This foam insulation is awesome and has a R value of 60!  The regular blown in type of insulation is about 29-30.  We should have a very cozy room! What a hot messy job.  Aaron was very nice to give us demonstrations and explain everything about the process to us. The sheet-rock should be delivered today!
This is Aaron and he was the greatest! 
Below you can see how dense the foam is when it gets puffed up to its full size. 

I can hardly believe how many very large trucks can wiggle their way into our little driveway.

MARCH 8, 2011  We passed our first inspection and we are about ready for the sheet rock. The power supply is now up and running down in the man cave!  YAHOOO!! Let the wild rumpus of building begin!  It looks great.   Papa the carpenter, will be ordering his new band saw and things should be cookin! We have been looking at the paintchips lined up by our floor sample this past week.  We are sketching out the layout of the room and deciding which piece to start building first.  Last night we decided on the new shingle color...BLACK WALNUT.  It will be much darker than what we have now but why not?  Right? I found some great prices on pillows at TJ Maxx so we have 6 fluffy ones waiting patiently for their new beds.

He has a nifty little heater and a nice airfilter system.  Healthy lungs are good thing!

They decided to run the heat and air through the ceiling.  Everything is in place for insulation and sheet rock.

MARCH 4, 2011
These are two very nice trailers to have parked in our driveway this week!  We are getting electricity and our heating and airconditioning!  Wahooo!!!  The sheetrock is next up and they have come for those measurements as well.  We have to shuffle all of our "STUFF" back and forth between the two garages so they can work around it.  Lovely.  But so very nice that we have two garages to shuffle between!  How can we complain one ounce?  We can't and we aren't.

We present to you.....the EYEBROW.  
Or a skirt roof or who knows what its real name is...
But it is lovely.

 This simple feature has softened the look and makes me a very happy girl.  It was looking rather large and tall.  It looks much more lady like now.  Brian told me that getting this one correct - trying to match different angles and working with slightly imperfect walls on the garage front was just about as tricky as it was to remove the roof.  This has been a work of art and labor of love....(but not free labor, folks)  We love our builder boys!

I'm typing in red because I am so darn excited about our floor that I can barely stand it!  We wanted this beautiful red Marmoleum called bleekerstreet and it is shown in the bottom right-hand corner.  We have figured out a pretty awesome match for just pennies!  This floorboard we are using will be just what they put down as the base of the floor.  OMS I think it is called.  It's like a crazy partical board.  We are perfecting the science.  I am off to a color workshop at the paint store so I am toting along my sample to ask for tips.  I am guessing they will approach it similar to finishing a deck.  But folks, it will just be a few hundred dollars and not several thousand dollars!  Stay tuned!

FEBRUARY 16, 2011In just three beautiful, sunny days - our little room over the garage has been magically transformed.  The crew was amazing to watch. How far we have come over the years...all the power tools and very large cranes! It certainly shortens the process a lot! It's been fun to listen to the bang of the hammers, the whir of the electric screw drivers, the chainsaws and occasional "heads up!" Being on the building site is pretty cool, especially when they are building for you!!

This crew knew their stuff and they always knew how to have fun.  They were a delight to watch. And CLEAN!  They boys run a tight ship and I was blown away by how they left every night with things neat as a pin.

Here are few photos from Tuesday and today.  Our cable cord was snipped yesterday so I couldn't update....oh and Mark and Davis happened to be in the right place at the right time - there was a crazy situation with the power (long story) but it actually hopped to the TV/internet cable and was sizzling in the wall at the same time Mark & Davis were in the closet trying to figure out why our water heater had gone out.  We there were sparks flying and a LOT of heat.  The men were lucky they weren't electrocuted and we were lucky our house didn't burn down! Once we unplugged one of the 220 lines, the water heater was working great.  Tender mercies...

 This really shows you the obsticals our crane operator had to deal with.  Kinda like fishing in the trees!

 I took this from the deck in the back yard to show you how tall the crane is.  
That tree in the front yard is very tall!

 When this baby gets swinging...LOOK OUT!

 Team work!

 Brian is very comfortable on the roof!  He like a monkey up there or spiderman!

The storm is on its way and they are getting the last of the paper on the roof. 

FEBRUARY 14, 2011

Good bye little room over the garage.  Good bye warm roof over our heads.  We won't forget you.

 The dumpster is delivered first thing in the morning.  It made me think of being in labor and then they wheel in the little isolette for the baby!  All of a sudden everything is real and it is really happening!

When I left this morning to go get groceries for our dinner tonight they had just started pulling off the siding and the wall on the west side of the house. With all the banging and sawing and rattling I though it was a good idea to be scooting out of there.
 When I pulled up just over an hour later...I saw the gigantic crane parked in front of our house and part of my roof dangling in the air!  After the initial WHAT? I was sucked in to the whole process.  It is fascinating, calculated, breathtaking and magical all at once!  I was ready to sign up and become a builder girl!! Very cool.  I just wonder how many other "jobs" there are out there in this wide world of ours that would fascinate me as much as this one.  Dozens and dozens.  Life on our planet is neat!

This nice builder guy is rescuing our deer weather vane. 
 I am anxious to examine it and figure out how we will get a new arrow put back on him.

 Note how the truck with the crane on it is raised right up off the ground.

 The brilliant crane driver.  Not something I would choose to do.  Amazing to watch him.

 I just love this picture.

 Demo projects are messy, messy, messy.  So glad we can reuse some of the materials.

 Brian skillfully cut out the window and is able to reach and grab it before it fall out the back...
It's all in the timing!

 The moon came up as the sun was setting - I  think this is a cool looking photo.

Thank you builder boys...I hope you had a sweet Valentines evening and you sleep well.

 FEBRUARY 5, 2011

 It was a beautiful January day - a great to be building outside!  We had an unusually warm January. It was all framed up in an afternoon and the ceiling went up the next day.

This is the ceiling for the new garage - floor for part of the new room above.  
We pray that everyone will be protected throughout this project.  A little spooky walking the edge here.  
Camber & I crawl out the window upstairs and go out to enjoy the view!
 (This day was a little bit chilly as you can see the snow on the trees.)

 The garage walls have been up for about two week now.  The trusses have arrived and the
windows should be here any day.  We have been working hard to get everything cleared
out of the room over the garage and the old garage.  A week from tomorrow they will begin
taking the roof off the old garage. Big Gulp!  But very exciting!!
AND...we have chosen our floor covering for the's crazy fun and has lots of energy!
The engineer and our builder are having some serious discussion.  It's nice to know that every
detail is being considered and that things will be done the right way.  It is such a process.

 Below you can see some our STUFF!  We have way too much STUFF! When we were moving about every three to four years we had the chance to purge and get rid of things we didn't need.  We have been hunkered down here too long and its time to re-evaluate just what we really need or want. STUFF!

Who would have guessed that the upstairs shower would be a 
nice resting place for yards and yards of wool?!

JANUARY 6, 2010
The cement slab was poured today! Very exciting time. The big cement truck and the pump truck made their way up our hill. Everything went very well. You can see our contractor, Brian,
overseeing the final work. They covered the slab up with a special blanket made of air-filled plastic to help it stay insulated while it cures. There is also a heater below to keep it cozy during the frigid nights here in Cache Valley. We have learned that over time cement, if it is protected from the elements, continues to become stronger. Fascinating. Brian thinks that he will remove the support beams in about a week. They pour sample for the engineers and they determine when it is ok to move forward. Next step will be framing in the new garage. Once this is finished we will move everything from the old garage AND everything from the room over the garage into the new garage while they remove the old roof. Gulp.

The forms for the new ceiling/floor are now prepared. You can see all the rebar pictured here. There were more layers added to this per the engineers advise. We want to be sure it is strong enough to support the addition of the second car garage as the original plans were for a one car garage.

The foundation has cured and preparation for the ceiling/floor are now underway. Its such a waiting game with the weather. We are learning patience. It still very exciting to watch the process. We have learned that vehicles aren't really that "heavy" - its the compact storage of solid items like lumber or books that are heavy. hmmmm. Glad to know that Mark will be safe and sound working down below with a couple of vehicles parked over his head!

Under the new ceiling are dozens of support beams that will hold the cement slab as it dries. The beams will then be removed and the lumber will be used in the construction of the new garage.

The circular drive has been graded and the foundation for the addition has been poured.
This foundation will be the home of Mark's new wood shop - The Man Cave. He is very
happy about having a designated space for his tools. The shop will be about 23' x 17'.

NOVEMBER 20, 2010
After months and months of talking, dreaming and planning -
The Project has begun. We have decided to add a third car garage.
Underneath the new garage will be a cement walled room.
Then above the new and old garages a new and improved studio; home
of Black Sheep Woolens! We are really excited about this project and now
that is has officially begun we can stop waking up at night wondering and
worrying if we should really do it. We DID IT!

The new garage and very cool man-cave will be the home of sweet little
wood shop for Mark. The studio upstairs will have more than double the space &
lots of natural light. Plenty of room for storing wool, creating and teaching!
We are so blessed to have such a wonderful neighbor who is helping us make
our dream into a reality.

*A slight change in plans. We have decided to add a two car garage rather than one. It makes more sense to use the larger foundation and gain 17% more space. Isn't this just how it goes! Projects like this seem to bloom...

A rendering of the new addition. We have also decided to make the
driveway circle around. No more complicated backing up and
bumping into trees :) The new drive will pass by the side of the
garage and circle down around the beehives.

Cutting the asphalt.

The big Cat takes down a 40 + foot tree with ease.

This part is called the thumb. This machinery is amazing.

Jake - the stairs were spared :)

This is Sean, Brian's partner. He works magic with this
machine. It's mesmerizing to watch it all work.

Brian is keeping a close watch on the depth of the hole.

The big Cat dug and piled and the front loader carried the
dirt away. It made for very fast work.

Mark slipped away to a wedding and when he returned
he was very pleased to see the hole all dug out and groomed.

The guys ponder the fate of our hydrant. They moved him to
a new home on the side of the tree.

The hole was lined with plastic just before the snow started
to fly. Later next week, when the weather clears, they will
pour the foundation. This will all be a waiting game with the
weather. What a crazy time of year to start a project!

Happy Holidays! We are hunkering down tonight to play
a mean game of Rook with Mark's cute parents! Hope you
all have a warm, cozy weekend!