Winterscape on River Road

We (the Huz and I) were on our way to breakfast last Saturday, and thankfully he reminded me to grab my camera. We never did get breakfast, but I did take some really pretty pics on our road. It was really cold, boogey freezing weather I call it. You know the kind, you take one breath through your nose and everything burns and freezes at the same time. It was that kind of cold.

We stopped here, where the road rises and falls and goes ’round a small bend. You can’t see any signs of civilization here, except for the road o’course.

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Sir William Johnson Hall, after dark

It was actually only 5:30-ish on Thursday night, so there was still some color in the sky.

My favorite part about winter is how everything seems so much lighter at night. It’s probably because streetlights and such get trapped reflecting between snowy ground and cloudy skies. Whatever the scientific reason, I kind of forget how cold it is when I am out taking pictures in it.

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Homemade dog treats

I have a lot of friends who have a lot of dogs. Homemade gifts are always easy on the budget, and go over especially well if they are edible. As most dog owners know, edible gifts are a dog’s favorite kind of gift. (I also have testimonials that picky dogs, as well as cats have enjoyed these treats.)

Rounding up the ingredients was the hardest part of this project, but I did all the hard work already and I am happy to share it with you. Flour, salt, oil and chicken stock are easy to come by in the grocery store, as well as the wheat germ, if you know where to look (cereal aisle). Brewer’s yeast, on the other hand, was a challenge. After a bit of thinking, and calling around, I found exactly what I was looking for at Just for the Health of it on Comrie Ave. in Johnstown. They also have wheat germ, if you prefer to pick it up at a local establishment. I am sure that the Mohawk Harvest Co-op would be able to help track down some of these ingredients also.

I  chose to design a little label, featuring my dog’s face. I printed it out on sticker paper and stuck them to small coffee bags that I bought online.

treats before baking

Look for dog biscuit shaped cookie cutters at Complements in Johnstown, or any area party supply store. I like to give my dog lots of very small treats versus a couple large ones, so I found a pack of small animal-shaped cutters.

This recipe was discovered on the Martha Stewart Pet Projects page. It says that it yields 5 dozen, but it definitely does NOT. I made this recipe 3 times and doubled it each time and used teeny cutters. I am just going to tell you that if you double this recipe, no matter what size cutters you use, you should get about 2 cookie sheets full of cookies.

Rocky approves

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup brewer’s yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup low-sodium canned chicken stock, plus more for brushing

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, wheat germ, yeast, and salt; set aside

2. Place oil in a large bowl. Add stock and flour mixture in three alternating batches, beginning and ending with stock. Mix well.

3. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to about 3/8-inch thick. Shape biscuits using a dog-bone-shaped cookie cutter or by cutting around a store-bought dog bone with a butter knife.(Make biscuits that are appropriate for your dog’s size.)

4. If desired, you can spell out your dog’s name or a holiday message in the dough with a toothpick (wet the toothpick first so it won’t stick).

5. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough.

6. Bake biscuits 10 minutes. Brush with stock; rotate baking sheets, and bake 10 minutes more. Turn off oven, leaving door closed. Let dog biscuits stand in oven to dry completely, about 1 1/2 hours. Wrap as a gift, or store in an airtight container at room temperature.

I tweaked it for the darker brown treats and made them carob and peanut butter flavored, substituting a water for the chicken stock, adding about a quarter cup of carob powder, and half a cup of chunky peanut butter.

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Handprint Christmas Ornaments

Blogger’s Note: Alex is a fellow Leader-Herald employee who wanted to share her homemade Christmas project with us. Being that she is a busy new mom, she might not be a regular contributor, but hopefully we will hear more about her projects with her adorable daughter, Crickett. – Marj & Toni

Crickett watching on and having her snack.

As the mother of a 10 month old baby girl, Christmas is an especially exciting time for me this year. Christmas, with all of it’s warmth and wonder, family, friends and good food is going to be better than ever! My little girl, Crickett, is an especially animated baby and I can’t wait to see her shining cheeks on Christmas morning.

Of course, as the first grandchild and great-grandchild on my side of the family, she receives LOTS of attention. She is the new TV. We often wonder what we talked about or did pre-Crickett days. So as the holiday season rolled around, I wondered what I could do for all of her grandparents that love her so much. Pictures are always a wonderful keepsake, but something homemade just seems to fit the bill. So when Toni suggested I make hand-print ornaments from salt dough, I jumped on it. What a wonderful way to capture her sweet young age and give something from the heart. First off, I mixed my dough. The recipe is very simple:

My Ingredients

1 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour

1 1/2 Cups Salt

3/4 Cup Water

I also decided to add Cinnamon for color and scent.

You can add as much or as little as you like.

The dough will be grainy but if it is too sticky, just add more flour until you reach the right consistency.

I would have loved if Crickett could have been more involved with the actual making of the ornaments but she is still too young to really get it. She did watch from her highchair and enjoyed a snack while Mommy mixed and kneaded.

Dividing it up into equal sections.

After kneading, I scored my ball of dough into 6 sections, as I needed six ornaments. Scoring is a good way to evenly distribute your dough and make sure you have enough.

You can use anything flat to press down on your dough balls to give them an even surface.

I rolled each section into a ball and placed them on wax paper, then used the flat part of the bottom of my mixing bowl to neatly press them into round disks.

Crickett, just alittle bit annoyed... it got worse.

Then came the hard part…. pressing Crickett’s little hand into each ornament. I didn’t think of it as the hard part until I got there but my daughter already has a mind of her own and was not happy about having to do this. It made me feel somewhat bad to know that she was not into it, but I take comfort in the knowledge that she will appreciate them someday. Growing up I have always loved looking at the homemade artifacts of my youth and enjoy the fact that they are proof that I myself was once small and innocent.

Before baking...

So after a bit of carrying on, I had my six hand-print ornaments. I then used a toothpick to put a hole in the top of each one that I would later thread ribbon through. I baked them on a cookie sheet for about 2 1/2 hours on 325º.

...after baking with decorations.

The temperature and time can be varied but be sure to keep an eye on them to prevent browning.

After baking, I left the ornaments to sit overnight and the next day I got out my paint. I had decided to use a paint with a metallic finish to it because I thought it would shine nicely against the lights of the Christmas tree.


I picked out a bronze colored paint and matching ribbon to go with it. The paint went on very nicely and really made her little hand-print pop. Next I threaded my ribbon through the hole and voilá! I had my beautiful ornament.

On the Christmas tree!

This project was so simple and easy that I plan on making it a tradition and I really look forward to watching Crickett put her own ideas into making these homemade ornaments. You can put your own twist on it by using any of the following: food coloring, glitter, glue, stencils, puffy paints, beads and even carving tools to etch into the dough before baking. The possibilities are endless and anyone with children will find this an excellent Christmas project. Have fun and may everyone have a wonderful holiday season!

– Alex

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Mohawk River Panorama

Mohawk River, November 2010

This was taken a couple weeks ago from the Auriesville Shrine. It is one of my first major attempts at stitching many photographs together to make a single panorama.

Definitely give this one an extra click to see it larger.


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Wreath Making Class

Here it is – my first blog.  I have never attempted anything like this before so it will be a work in progress. I should mention in advance that I am not an english major, probably won’t write grammatically correct sentences, and I tend to write the way I speak. I also use made-up words, a lot. :)

I love, LOVE, love to make things – anything – as long as I get to be creative. Working start to finish isn’t my strong suit though (attention span of a five-year old) so there are many works in progress.

For this first post I decided that I would actually do something start to finish. Since it’s Holiday Crafting Time I thought maybe something with that in mind.

For quite a few years now I have been making grapevine wreaths. I harvest the vine or get it from friends (thanks Nancy, Darryle and Jeanne!) and then I wind it into rustic wreaths. I also collect natural materials to use in their decorating (again thanks to My Eric, Jeanne, Nancy and Stacey!). I’m not a purist and have no qualms about mixing in faux materials either.

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Burlington Bay

Burlington Bay, November 13, 2010

Sorry about the brevity here, but I’m no wordsmith.

I took this photo of Lake Champlain on Saturday evening, just as we rolled into Burlington for a visit. Technicolor sunset, but no Champ sightings.


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