A New Mexican Brunch

A New Mexican Thanksgiving Brunch



Mimi’s Egg Soufflé with Green Chilies

Fruit Cocktail

Cinnamon Rolls

Creamed Corn

Pinon Coffee

Egg Nog

Orange Juice

I decided to ask my mother in law for her recipe for egg soufflé.  It is the staple for Hanukah and also for the breaking of the fast at Yom Kippur at her house.  It is a delicious combination of bread, eggs, and cheese.  I will add my own addition, green chilies.

Take 6 slices of bread, crusts removed, lightly butter, and cut in half.

In a bowl combine 6 eggs, 1 teaspoon dried minced onion, salt and pepper, and 2 cups of milk.  I am adding 1/4 cup of green chilies.

Have 8 ounces of shredded cheddar cheese ready.

Butter a high casserole pan.  Layer part of the bread, egg mixture, then cheese  Finish by layering the rest of the bread, egg, and top with cheese. 

Cover and refrigerate overnight.  In the morning, take out and leave on counter for 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for one hour uncovered. 

The fruit cocktail is a mixture of fruits that we canned over the summer.  In the root cellar rests jars of cinnamon peaches, honey apricots, blueberries, pumpkin pie spiced apples, and cherries.

The cinnamon rolls could easily be made.  I have a great recipe, however, that early in the morning, among my children that will all be in one place for a whole three hours together, I would really rather not be spending all my time in the kitchen.  So store bought, ready to bake, organic cinnamon rolls will certainly suffice.

Creamed corn is in golden jars held in the basement only needing a dab of butter.

Pinon coffee is a New Mexican specialty.  Simply grind a tablespoon of pine nuts in with whole coffee beans before you brew it.  It creates a nutty, and delicious accompaniment to breakfast.

Egg Nog (we’re going to have to do that homemade during the Christmas season) and Orange Juice are from the health food store.

A New Mexican blanket will act as a table cloth, mix matched red china (turkeys and English castles), sparkling wine glasses, and cloth napkins will don the table.  Candles, mini-pumpkins that grew in our garden, and Indian corn will add fall splendour.

We’ll toast to our blessings and pray for the opportunity to help others and be a blessing to those that meet us.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Farmgirl School Turns One


I was thumbing through a magazine last November and ran across an article about blogging.  I had heard of it but didn’t really know much about it.  From the time that I received a spiral and pen on that Christmas morning in 1984 I have been writing diligently; thousands of poems, stories, but all of them for myself, all within the expanses of writing books and journals.  A blog would give me an outlet to write.  The article told how to start one.


What would I write about?  My favorite books are farming memoirs that end up teaching valuable lessons on how to farm while keeping you laughing and genuinely interested in the author’s life, their disappointments, successes, their feelings.

Introducing Natali!

I had always wanted to find a book that was not textbook style, that was written in memoir style, that gave me more detailed information, like how much to water, when to plant, how to have chickens, how to not mess up being a farm girl.

petting goats

And a blog was born.  Farmgirl School entered the blogosphere.  I hoped some of my friends would be so kind to humor me and follow me and maybe read my posts.  I asked if they were funny, what they thought.  Around town, the word was catching on and my readers started to increase.  To date 19,154 people have read my blog from 50 different countries.  Now, granted, the only reader from one of those countries had Googled “hot soapy girls” and ended up on my post Soapy Girls and Their Lyes about soap making.  I am sure that was a disappointment!  Today 279 people are signed up to receive notifications that I wrote a new post.


I have received much more from this blog than I anticipated.  Not only do I have an outlet to teach, entertain, document, and laugh at myself, I have made friends and pen pals around the world.  I have found great authors.  Found things in common with folks in my community.  I have found an outlet that connects many people and I am more blessed because of it.


My mother warned me to use fake names, never say where we live, and I understand the paranoia,  but I am glad I kept it real, opened up our lives the way they are.  Our entire community knows all our business, yes, but because I have been open and honest, people feel closer to me, are genuinely interested in my family, in my life, and have opened up to me as well.


Life is about community and enjoying our time on Earth, I never thought a blog would add so much pleasure to my life.  You’ve been with us when we decided to start a farm.  When we found out our shop was closing.  When our goats peed on the couch and ran away.  When the new goats came.  When we became grandparents (the top post of the year).  When our chickens died and when we got our first eggs from the others.  You know our friends.  Our family.  I am so thankful for all of you that follow Farmgirl School.  Has anyone read all of my posts?


This week I’ll share the finished craft room made out of a hundred year old spider infested basement using only $140.  I’ll let you in to see a New Mexican inspired Thanksgiving brunch, and share what Maryjane is up to.  Thank you for being a part of our lives.

Thanksgiving Traditions (and the search for a casserole)

Every year, for many years, our Thanksgiving morning looks the same.  Mama is up first making cinnamon rolls and coffee.  I then turn on the parade and one by one the sleepy house awakes.  Sitting in bathrobes and slippers we enjoy the sweet pastries and dark coffee and enjoy the floats, wave at the balloons on the screen, and anticipate the feast now wafting through the house.

Maryjane's hand print

Maryjane’s hand print

I always make the same meal served just after noon.  A traditional Thanksgiving feast with the mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes and marshmallows, stuffing, green bean casserole, rolls, cranberry sauce, and Tofurky.  We eat at noon and then head to a Christmas movie to start off our season.  An apple pie, pumpkin pie and eggnog greet us when we arrive back home after the film.

Thankful for Bret, Emily, and Maryjane

Thankful for Bret, Emily, and Maryjane

That night we go to the shop and decorate it so that Friday morning we open with bright and shiny window displays, an enchanted store filled with great sales.  The next day the tree comes up, the children put their ornaments on, and we create a winter wonderland throughout the house.

Thankful for Andrew and Megan

Thankful for Andrew and Megan

Traditions ground us.  They give us comfort and something to be excited for, something to count on.  But life changes, sometimes drastically, and part of life is going with the flow, making changes when necessary or deemed proper, and perhaps new traditions will unfold even more fun than the prior.

Thankful for Shyanne

Thankful for Shyanne

This year Andrew will be going to his girlfriend, Megan’s house for Thanksgiving dinner, Emily to Bret’s mom’s, and Shyanne, newly broken up, doesn’t know where she is going.  So, for us, I needed to accommodate rather than demand that they all be at my house.  So, I am doing Thanksgiving breakfast.  Then we can all go our own ways, Doug and I attending the movie by ourselves this year.  No shop to decorate.  The trees will go up before Thanksgiving and while I have everyone in the house at the same time Thanksgiving morning I will have them put their decorations on the tree.  Doug and I will decorate the house ourselves the rest of the weekend.  We were invited to go to Bret’s mom’s house for Thanksgiving dinner.  New traditions will unfold this year, hopefully bringing blessings and good memories.

Thankful for Doug

Thankful for Doug

Now, question to all of you out there.  I need a fool proof, easy, delicious, breakfast casserole to make Thanksgiving morning.  Somehow, I have none in my artillery.  So, kindly sound off and share your Thanksgiving traditions as well as your favorite breakfast casserole.

Thankful for Maryjane

Thankful for Maryjane

Thankfully yours, Katie

Twenty Letters

I have always been entranced with the beauty and childlike wonder of this time of year.  I start getting excited in September.  Autumn is our favorite season.  We are coming down from our whirlwind of farmer’s markets, closing up the gardens, and can see the fruits of our labor lining the walls of the root cellar.  We can settle in and enjoy the crisp smell of the air, the wood smoke from the neighbor’s stove, and bask in a little down time.

We are so thankful for our granddaughter, Maryjane!

We are so thankful for our granddaughter, Maryjane!

November rolls around and I start nesting. We tend to repairs that need to be done on the farm, projects like the craft room, and preparing for Thanksgiving.

But what we are really preparing for is Christmas.  Our hands down favorite time of year.  I am enthralled with the lights and how they make the whole world twinkle.  The music, and how jolly the sounds are.  How children’s classics like “Frosty the Snowman” are followed seamlessly with Andrea Bocelli’s “Ave Maria”.  Andy Williams brings me back to childhood records, and Bing Crosby will always be associated with my husband.  We love and watch Bing’s classic holiday movies and mimic him respectfully by singing his songs in our best smooth, deep voice followed by laughter.

Grammie needs to talk to Santa too!

Grammie needs to talk to Santa too!

The commercialism hasn’t bothered us as we have no desire to buy a million presents and we don’t need to receive a lot of things that take up space or that I have to dust.  Heaven forbid!  But useful things are adored.  Homesteading items, handmade items, things from the heart.  My favorite gifts are things that Kat gives me that were her grandmother’s.  Precious embroidered linens and aprons.  Nothing big.

So this year, we have arranged with most of our friends and family that we are giving all homemade or second hand gifts.  We hope to get a little of the red wine vinegar Rodney has been brewing this year, or something that Rod Sr. has carved, or some delicious Apple Butter from Aunt Jenny.


We love Christmas because of the closeness that ensues.  We have dinners and try to show our affection throughout the year to our friends and family, but Christmas allows us to show how truly thankful we are for these people in our lives.  And no matter what one’s religious background is, it is a time of love and light and beauty, which makes this a magical time of year.

I also have a great love for Santa.  I love Doug’s beard.  Our daughters have turned it a little white over the years, hopefully it will turn completely white and we can have reindeer here at the farm and he can be the real Santa to the grandkids….oops, carried away.

Future farm animal?

Future farm animal?

Back to the thankfulness for friends and family.  We are giving simple gifts this year but on top of that I wanted to give something else.  A letter.  I want my closest folks to know what it is that draws me to them, how much they mean to me, and how thankful I am for them.  Twenty letters.

Starting at Doug’s family’s Hanukkah celebration December 1st through Christmas dinner at our house December 25th I will give those I love a heartfelt letter.


I do hope that while writing Christmas cards, or sending gifts, or lighting the Menorah, that you make sure to let those around you know just what they mean to you.  Life and time are so finite, so quick, that there is no better time than now to express those things that linger in your heart.  And no better time than the magic of the holiday season.

The Off Grid Coffee Warmer

Coffee.  The fuel that runs this farm.  We do love coffee.  Emily’s boyfriend’s family owns a coffee roasting business.  Doug works at the coffee shop now.  And I drink enough to keep everyone in business!  I do not like coffee pots though,  kind of plasticky.  I told you all about this when I wrote about coffee presses and homestead coffee (click here to read about it).  The hands down best way to make coffee is in a coffee press.  But, it doesn’t stay warm long enough.  Doug tends to sleep later than I do and we like to pour a cup over the span of a few hours.  I tried a tea candle under a metal holder specific to keeping tea pots warm.  That works but since Doug uses quite a lot of milk in his coffee, the coffee just wasn’t hot enough.


Then I saw this in the back of my cupboard.  A simple carafe.  I pour the coffee into the carafe and it stays hot for hours.  So simple.  So off-grid friendly!  And so accessible.

Last night, we blocked off the porch to keep the alpacas off, secured the gate to keep the goats in their pasture, and went to bed.  This is what I woke up to.  I think I will pour another cup!


Goats: Take 2!

petting goats

Most of you have read about our adventures with two of the most adorable goats (on the couch) that God ever put on this earth.  Less cute running down the street and through the fairgrounds and hanging out at the neighbor’s house.  For six weeks we bottle fed, adored, cuddled, cussed under our breath, and showed off our newborn goats at farmer’s markets.  They were fun, but we couldn’t keep them in the yard.  So, for their own safety and the sanity of our neighbors and ourselves, we sent them back to my friend, Jill’s house.  They went to a loving new home.


Fast forward four months.  The fence is higher, the holes in the field fence smaller, anything near the fence that can act as a spring board is put up.  A new gate separates two pastures.  The alpacas and chickens in one, the new goats in the other.  Their expensive weather proof igloo is in place and we are ready for our second try at goats.

new goats

Jill dropped off two of the most adorable goats (we think all animals are the most adorable), one expecting late February.  They follow us around the yard, let Maryjane pet them, and are very good tempered.  Not near as wild as the little buggers we had last summer, and not quite as loud.  They are content and playful, soft and sweet.

Look who wanted in this morning!

Look who wanted in this morning!

It’s beginning to look a lot like a farm around here!

Alpaca Lessons


They sure are cute.  That is about all I could tell you about alpacas before yesterday morning!  All Doug and I knew is we wanted one, or two, or fifty-five, but we’ll stick with two.  They look like marionettes who have lost their strings.  They hum.  Mmmm.  They are very sweet and timid.  We have been to every alpaca festival in a twenty mile radius for the past two years.





A lot of people confuse alpacas for llamas.  I cannot tell you how many people have warned us about our upcoming alpacas!  Llamas are bred to be guard animals.  They are the junkyard dog of the barnyard world.  I have met very sweet llamas, but most are aloof and on the job 24/7.

Doug carrying a baby back after dental work.

Doug carrying a baby back after dental work.

Alpacas are skittish prey animals that provide the most luxurious fiber.  Imagine fiber as warm as wool but as soft as fleece.  My spinning wheel is waiting to make plush yarn that I will knit into soft, warm sweaters, hats, gloves, scarves, and socks.  As soon as I master spinning….and knitting…and taking care of alpacas.  They get sheared in the spring.

They can be snuggly though, I just had to learn how to handle them.  My first inclination was to pat their soft heads.  Which they immediately balked against being quite head shy.  We were told to reach out to their necks (this is easiest when they are on a harness) and put our face near theirs (which seemed aggressive, but apparently not) and blow softly into their face.  Softly, mind you, no talking, or excessive blowing.  They return the gesture with a soft kiss.  Delightful.  Thank God they don’t have the bad breath that llamas do.

We practiced cornering the two we are taking home Sunday and getting a harness on them.  Then we learned how to lead them around, then how to take the harness off again, all while keeping the seemingly upper hand.  Gentle does it with alpacas, and they responded well to us.

Introducing Ferdinand!

Introducing Ferdinand!

We clipped nails.  I couldn’t have imagined what the bottoms of their feet looked like.  I assumed a hoof or something.  But there is actually a large pad, much like a dog’s main pad on the bottom of their feet, with two nails that also look like a large dog’s.  We have to clip them with pruners and put a bit of muscle into it (which automatically made that Doug’s job) keeping them even with the pad.  They have a quick like cat’s and dog’s nails so we have to take care not to get overambitious.

Introducing Natali!

Introducing Natali!

We watched Natali, our three year old alpaca that we are getting, get gelded.  Sorry bud.  They were worried that as he gets a little older he will try to overpower the one year old, Ferdinand.  Which would be awkward and inappropriate having an alpaca attempting to ride the other around the back yard.  Snip.  Snip.


This last week we were busy finishing their shelter.  We have to be pretty creative around here.  Remember, we live in town and cannot just erect full sheds and structures without permits and such.  We also don’t have a lot of money to spend on it.  So we viewed the space between the garage and the chicken coop with new light.  2x4s had been placed there when we moved in to stabilize the chicken coop.  It provided a place to put old metal sheeting on top to make a roof.  We then placed corn stalks from the garden on top to provide cushioning from sound (like hail or hard rain, spookable animals, remember) and then covered everything with a tarp that was securely fastened to the first board.  Another was added that hung down the back. We stacked straw bales along the tarp to create a wall.  A nice, snug, weather proof, wall that the chickens are enjoying nibbling.  We now have a shelter.  We have bowls.  We are so ready for the boys to come home Sunday!

Warm Fall Days


Happiness is not having deadlines.  Being thankful that I forgot to store the outdoor furniture before November.  A cushioned chair awaits amongst golden piles of crisp leaves.  The ocean blue sky with feathered clouds that stretch lazily across the open expanse.  And the sun, so low and toasty, I cannot help but tilt my face upwards to bask in its glow.  Chickens surrounding me, resting, preening, rustling the leaves, enjoying the warm day.  A cold glass of chardonnay and a Christmas magazine on my lap.

Happiness is a warm fall day.

A New Sing Along


To the tune of “Christmas is Coming”:

The alpacas are coming

the goats are getting fat.

Please put a penny in the farmer’s hat.

If you haven’t got a penny,

then a glass of wine will do,

if you haven’t got a glass of wine,

then God bless you!

Tomorrow we go meet the alpaca vet, and watch as one of our poor boys gets gelded.  We will learn to trim nails.  We will lead our other boy around since he has been practicing on the halter.  Natali and Ferdinand will come home Sunday.

Loretta and pregnant Francesca (our second try at goats) will come home Monday.

Do wish us luck!

Grandma’s Sewing Room-Part 1(and designing a craft room)

When I was young, Grandma’s house was the quintessential grandmother’s home.   She made dolls of all sorts, carefully sewing their bodies, painting their faces, and making their clothes.  She quilted and made beautiful masterpieces that adorned our beds.  She made me skirts with matching bonnets, then later made my daughters the same.  She made furry stuffed bears and buffaloes.  She created childhood happiness.

sewing machine

In the 1980’s when every child was begging Santa for Care Bears, my parents couldn’t afford the overpriced stuffed animals.  But, in glittering wrapped packages from Grandma and Grandpa came three Care Bears.  One for each of us.  They were not as fat, they looked a tiny bit different, but they were perfect and my sister, and brother, and I considered them the “real” Care Bears and lugged them everywhere.

Her sewing machine was often set up by the dining room table, near the large bay window filled with plants.  A cheery place to sit and listen to the whir of the sewing machine with a tiny cup of coffee and a cookie.  Downstairs a giant quilting machine and kiln loomed.  A house full of magical instruments and a toy world all our own.


She taught me how to crochet a blanket and I took first place in the seventh grade art show.  Sure it was a bit crooked and Grandma helped me finish it up, but it began a love affair with yarn…and now spinning….and fiber animals.

The next year she taught me how to make a quilt.  Large purple and pink printed blocks came together.  We went shopping to pick out a matching back to the quilt.  I picked out a large sheet that was soft, brown, and had lion cubs all over it.  Not matching whatsoever, she simply asked, “Are you sure?”  We took it back to her house and I undertook the painstakingly slow process of tying yarn strings in each corner securing quilting in my heart forever.  I took first place at the eighth grade art show.


Up until recently Grandma could always be found with a project in her deft hands.  A scarf, a baby blanket, a quilt started on the dining room table, new fabric or yarn, or inspiration.  Chronic pain has robbed her of these gifts and she asked that I come and take much of her sewing items to clear space in the closet for blankets.  Twas bittersweet loading up a truck load of fabric pieces, multi-colored spools of thread, plum colored yarn, and unfinished projects.  How time flies.

In our small farmhouse I have been allotted a corner in the living room for my ever growing art and sewing center.  With the bounty of new art and creativity waiting in the truck, I have to find a place for an art room.  Alas, the dining room is the Apothecary, the second bedroom is Emily and the baby’s when they come over, the kitchen and the living room quite out of room.  There is a hundred year old creepy basement.

In this post, this is the only picture I took. It really is my basement. Scary, huh?

In this post, this is the only picture I took. It really is my basement. Scary, huh?

Farmgirls must make the most out of what they have, I suppose.  There are shelves already erected and space to fill.  We cleared out the unused linens and the mix matched gloves from the shelves.  We gave away any junk sitting about.  We vacuumed up the cobwebs.  A good scrubbing will ensue today.  Three rugs and a space heater that looks like a fireplace are the only purchases I will make towards this grand transformation.  I will look in the garage for furniture, use creativity in storage options, and create a light filled, perfectly charming craft room.  I am a grandmother, it’s time I had one.