Thursday, April 29, 2010

Late April at Auburn Glen Homestead

Spring has sprung in full force around the Auburn Glen Homestead. (Does anyone else name their homes?  Maybe that's a totally different post?)  Green is getting greener and leaves are getting bigger and baby garden plants are starting to push through.  Enjoy the photo montage!!
 (and ignore the fact that all my beds are in desperate need of weeding - once my programs are finished and school is closer to finishing I'll have a few more minutes in the day!  *laugh* )

Purple Phlox


I'm not sure what these little beauties are called.

Our Weeping Olive

Radishes - planted on Easter Sunday

Lettuce - planted Easter Sunday

Peas - planted Easter Sunday


Flowering Strawberries

Lillies/Burning bushes

Apple Tree - 3rd year

Burn Pile getting bigger - almost ready for our midsummer bonfire

Kids playing on the swings

Or being put to manual labor

T-Rex stalking the Gnome under the bushes

Fairy Houses built

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An EGG-citing Discovery!

It appears that our Guinnea Hen is laying!!

We weren't sure if dear Mrs. Puddlecluck was laying.  In fact, since we just got her, we weren't sure exactly how old she is.  But about a week ago, we started getting these teeny, tiny little pointed eggs (see the one in the middle?) about every other day.  We've never had an egg like that before, so we can only assume that she is laying them!  How exciting!!

The picture above shows the average size and color of eggs we are getting daily.  We also get a blue one that is about the size of the 4th one from the left every other day (I didn't have one on the day I took this photo.)  Sometimes we'll get a smaller cream one (kind of between the Guinnea eggs and the one to the left of it.)

It seems like we're bringing in between 10-15 eggs a day now.  Some days when it's cooler a bit less (like the past few days we've only gotten 6-8 a day) and sometimes a bit more when it's been warmer (the most we had was 18 in one day.)  It's just enough to keep us in eggs and let us give two dozen away to family each week and sell between 2-3 dozen to friends and co-workers. 

We don't sell the eggs for much, just enough to make something on them.  I think Mr. CrazyLife sells them for a dollar, while I sell mine for $1.50.  *laugh*  Mine go for more since someone else sells them at school for that much, so I went with her price!  We don't make a fortune off the eggs, but it does cover the cost of the feed and upkeep of the chickens.

Plus, these eggs taste fantastic!  I mean, if you've never had farm fresh eggs, you really should try them.  The yolks are darker, the whites are whiter and the taste is well....just better.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Romance Novel Blouse Grosgrain Giveaway

The Romance Novel Blouse Grosgrain Giveaway
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Romeo and Mae Sewing Patterns GUEST GIVEAWAY!!!!

Romeo and Mae Sewing Patterns GUEST GIVEAWAY!!!!
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Funky Polkadot Giraffe $25 Gift Card GUEST GIVEAWAY!!!!

Funky Polkadot Giraffe $25 Gift Card GUEST GIVEAWAY!!!!
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Blog Giveaways

Is anyone else addicted to entering blog giveaways?  I totally am!  Especially on crafting/sewing/homemaking blogs....I just can't get enough!  I've never actually won anything, but some day I've got to, right?

Here are a couple of giveaways I've been looking at this week...check 'em out and enter!!

Grosgrain has three fantastic giveaways I've entered...super cute!!  I can totally see Thing #1 wearing the Arial bow, or the Romance Novel top would look so cute paired with a skirt for my BIL's wedding this summer.  And those patterns - wow!

And check out this cute Mother's Necklace giveaway from crAzY HoUsE!

She also has a cute Mother/Daughter set up for giveaway.

Or check out Blog Giveaways for more fun giveaways!
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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Independence Days - April 20-27

I think I'm going to try to update these on Tuesdays, as I seem to have a bit of time then to do some serial posting!

Plant Something
It's still pre-planting season up here for the most part.  But we've put in some more strawberries.  DH planted some corn (really early for that!) and we got some new rhubarb plants to put in.  Hopefully they will go into tonight if the rain holds off.

Harvest Something
Nothing to harvest quite yet, but it looks like we have one lone asparagus survivor (between DH's overzealous rototilling and the chickens, they were fighting for their lives!) that I'm hoping to get to soon.  We're also bringing in about a dozen eggs a day now.

Preserve Something

Waste Not
Reused a gift bag for a birthday party.  Finished a skirt from an old pair of favorite jeans and picked out some too-small overalls to make aprons from.

Want Not
Splurged a little bit on fresh fruit for smoothies

Build Community Food Systems
I guess blogging about it counts, right?

Eat the Food
We had dinner for breakfast twice this week with fresh eggs from the chickens!
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The end of an Affair

I started an affair about two months ago.  An affair with running.  And I think that affair is drawing to a close.

Now, don't get me wrong.  I still like running.  I still plan on running.  But I'm going to do it on my terms.  On my time.  At my own speed.  To my own music.

You see, I've been using some downloaded podcasts from This Spot.  I was following the Couch to 5K running program.  Things were going great.  Then I got injured and took two weeks off of running and even on week off walking.  I started back in.  Things were going great.  But I got bored.  I'd be listening to the podcasts and when they said run, I wanted to walk.   When they said to stop running, I wanted to keep going.  It was getting frustrating.  Because of the way the music was set up, you just couldn't do your own thing - the cadences were wrong.  You had to follow.  Ergh.

So I stopped running.  It's been a week  now and I've just been walking.  I added some weights to my walking routine.  Just little 3 pounders, but enough to give some resistance.  But I'm still feeling the urge to run.

So I've decided to drop the podcasts.  To drop the C25K program.  To do my own thing.  Run when I want to.  Walk when I want to.  It's my party and I'll cry if I want to.
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Book review: The Kingdom Of Ohio

I have to admit that I'm somewhat of a bookworm.  Always have been.  I've been known to go to the library and check out a dozen books and return them just days later to get another dozen.  And I can't say that I have a favorite genre, although I do tend to go for historical fiction more often than not.  Which is why this book appealed to me. 

The book begins with the narrator, an old antiques dealer finding a photograph. In this photograph are two men and one woman.  He claims that because of this photo he forced to face the past he has tried hard to forget.  We are then drawn into the story of Peter Force, a young man who comes to New York City to work on the new subway system and Cheri-Anne Toledo, a princess of the lost Kingdom of Ohio.  Also playing parts in the story are Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla and other familiar historical figures. 

The story starts out as a traditional historical fiction novel.  There are even footnotes to help "varify" the events.  Then it takes a strange turn as elements of time-travel and alternate worlds are put into play.

Sometimes this book was hard to read.  Jumping back and forth between the narrator and his story was rather abrupt and happened at strange places.  There was a strange reference in the last few pages to the lost Ronanoke colony of Virginia that really didn't seem to fit.  And the characters were rather flat.

However, while it was hard to read, I was strangely drawn into it.  I wanted and needed to know more.  What of this lost "Kingdom of Ohio?"  Did it really exist?  (answer - no).  I kept reading, hoping for more on the characters, which was never truely fullfilled.

In the end, while I wish it was better developed, it was a good worthwhile read.  I really like when real life historical figures are thrown into stories and developed as characters.  And the idea of time travel through parallel worlds is intriguing.  As was the descriptions of a young New York City and the western frontier lands.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes historical novels that tend to be a bit tedious to read.
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Monday, April 26, 2010

In Search of the Perfect Homemade Mac N' Cheese

I love mac n' cheese.  No, let me re-phrase that.  I adore mac n' cheese.  And I've managed to pass that love on to my darling wee things.  If you ask them what they would like for dinner, nine times out of ten, it's Macaroni  (and cheese for the girls).  They scarf it down like there's no tomorrow.  It's super yummy, in their words.  Unlike their Momma, however, somehow my wee things seem to think that boxed is best.  How that came to happen I can't imagine (although I blame their father!  =)  )

I love homemade macaroni and cheese the best.  I have fond memories of this wonderful, warm, ooey, gooey, cheesey dinner from a very young age.  Now, it's not my Mom's mac n' cheese I remember so fondly.  No, although my mother did made homemade, as the boxed variety was at that time quite a luxury item for us poor Pastor's family; it is a friend's homemade mac n' cheese that I remember so dearly.  She was a neighbor of ours when we lived in Grimes, Iowa.  I don't remember her name (and neither does Mom), although we think she had a daughter named Sarah that I was friends with.  My dad used to go pheasant hunting with her husband and we would sometimes go over to their house to be babysat while Mom and Dad went out for an evening.

Sarah's mom made some fantastic homemade mac n' cheese.  I mean, if I remember it from thirty-some-odd years ago, it must have been, right?  Right-O.  And in my mind, this is the way it should be.  And I've spent a good portion of my adult life trying to recreate that fantastic mac n' cheese.  And failed each and every time.  Now, I have found some good recipes along the way (after all no mac n' cheese recipe is a bad on, eh?), but never the "perfect" one of my memory.  So I continue the search....someday I'll find it.  (Although I may have to get my hands on some of that cheese the government used to give out to us poor people!  *laugh* )

In the meantime, I'll share a couple of good ones I've found.  Recently the Taste of Home  featured homemade mac n' cheese in their magazine.  Good stuff there!

A Basic Mac N' Cheese Recipe (otherwise known as the quick-time version)
Macaroni Noodles, cooked to tenderness
Velveeta cheese, cubed, probably about 1/8 of the big block

Once the noodles are cooked and drained, add the cubed velveeta to the warm noodles.  Stir and let melt.  Mix in warm veggies if desired.  Or a can of tuna fish, drained.

*Okay, I know Velveeta isn't the best.  In fact, it's pretty bad.  But it melts so nice and really, the flavor isn't that bad.  Just don't think about all the bad parts to it!  *laugh*

Bistro Mac N' Cheese
1 pkg (16 oz) uncooked elbow macaroni
3 TBS butter
3 TBS all-purpose flour
2 1/2 C milk
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 C shredded mozzarella cheese
1 C shredded cheddar cheese
1 pkg cream cheese, softened
1/2 C crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
1/2 C sour cream

Cook macaroni according to directions.  Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, melt butter. Stir in flour until smooth.  Gradually stir in milk and seasonings.  Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.

Reduce heat.  Add cheeses and stir untl melted.  Sirt in sour cream.  Drain macaroni; sirt into sauce.

You can also bake this with a crumb topping.  Place macaroni in a greased baking dish.  Combine 1/3 C seasoned bread crumbs and 2 TBS melted butter; sprinkle over macaroni.  Bake, uncovered at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly.

TGI Friday's Gourmet Mac n' Five Cheese
(Probably not the healthiest, but when we're talking mac n' cheese, who cares?)
6 servings elbow macaroni
1 cups Bacon
.5 cups Onions, Diced
5 tablespoons light unsalted butter
6 tablespoons All-purpose Flour
1 tablespoons Mustard, Dijon
2.5 cups whole milk
2 cups Heavy Cream Bc
1 tablespoons Thyme, Fresh
1 teaspoons Bay Leaf
.5 teaspoons Salt*
1.5 cups Fontina Cheese
.5 cups Crumbled Blue Cheese (1/2 Oz.)
.75 cups Gruyere Cheese
.75 cups White Cheddar Cheese
.75 cups parmesan cheese, grated
3 tablespoons Parsley
.25 cups Breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F and butter a 9 by 13-inch glass baking dish.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt. Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain.
In a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot, saute the bacon until crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve. Saute the onion in the bacon drippings until soft. Add the 5 tablespoons butter to the onion mixture and melt the butter stirring with a wooden spoon.
Using a whisk, add the flour, and stir constantly until well mixed with the fat making a roux. Whisk in the mustard. Gradually add the milk and cream whisking constantly.
Add the thyme, bay leaf, and salt. Let come to a simmer and stir frequently for 15 minutes.
Strain the hot milk mixture into a metal bowl and discard the solids. Working quickly, mix in 1 cup fontina, blue cheese, 1/2 cup Gruyere, 1/2 cup white Cheddar, 1/2 cup Parmesan, the reserved bacon, and parsley. Continue to stir until all cheese is melted.
Add the cooked noodles to the cheese mixture to coat. Add the noodle mixture to the prepared baking dish. Mix the remaining cheese and bread crumbs together and sprinkle on top of the noodles. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or until bubbling and golden brown. Remove from oven when done and rest for 5 minutes

*from The Daily Plate

Fried Mac N' Cheese (maybe not healthy, but YUM-O)
1 cup milk
5 teaspoons flour
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup monterey jack cheese
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups cooked small elbow macaroni or regular size macaroni
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1 1/2 cups seasoned dry bread crumbs or plain breadcrumbs
3/4 teaspoon salt
6-10 cups shortening or peanut oil or corn oil
1 teaspoon fresh parsley, minced

1Place flour in a small sauce pan over medium low heat. Whisk in milk till smooth, then add cheeses, olive oil and salt, stirring until cheese starts to melt.

2Reduce heat to low, simmer 30 minutes. Using whisk, stir sauce every few minutes to make sure the sauce becomes thick and smooth.

3Now place the 3/4 cup uncooked macaroni in a pot of boiling water. Boil for 10 minutes(8 minutes for small macaroni), or till tender. Drain. You should have about 1 3/4 cups cooked macaroni.

4When sauce is done cooking, reserve 2 tbs of the sauce for later.

5Pour pasta into a medium bowl and pour in remaining cheese sauce. Pour the mixture into an 8x8-inch pan that has been greased with oil. Cover and chill in fridge.

6When the macaroni and cheese is cold, slice into 16 squares(slicing down middle, then slicing those squares in half). Put each square on a piece of wax paper, place in covered container, and freeze 2 hours.

7When the mac and cheese has frozen solid, mix milk and egg in a bowl. In another bowl place flour. In a third bowl, mix breadcrumbs and 3/4 teaspoons salt.

8Heat the oil to 350°F.

9Bread the mac and cheese one piece at a time,coating a piece with flour, then placing it in the egg and milk mixture, then coating it with breadcrumbs. Place each piece back into the egg and milk, then in the breadcrumbs again. Repeat this process with all of the pieces, then place on a large plate. Let them sit about 15 minutes to defrost.

10Fry 4 to 6 at a time in hot oil for 3 minutes or until golden brown (test the first one to make sure it is hot all the way through. If it is cold inside, let the squares defrost a few more minutes). Drain on paper towels a few minutes, then place on a serving platter.

11Heat the remaining 2 tbs of cheese sauce for about 15 seconds (or until hot) in the microwave.

12Drizzle the hot sauce over the mac and cheese squares. Sprinkle parsley over the top and serve. Enjoy!

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Tahini Cookies

My fitness instructor, Renee, gave us this recipe at our last Fitness Buffet class.  Every week she would bring in a new recipe or a new food to help us "healthify" our diets.  This is a wonderful dessert cookie, with just enough sweetness to satisfy.

Tahini Cookies
 1 1/2 C oats
1/2 C honey
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 C chopped nuts (optional)
6 TBS tahini
chopped apples, dried fruit, raisins, dates or mini chocolate
     chips make great additions for more flavor

Stir all ingredients together and bake at 350 for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

What is Tahini and is it good for you?

Tahini is a paste made from sesame seeds. Sesame seeds are packed full of good stuff.  By grinding up the sesame seeds into a paste, it makes it easier for us to absorb the nutrients.  Here are the nutrients in sesame seeds:

  1. Protien - sesame seeds have about 20% protien. 
  2. Fibre - sesame seeds are 10% fibre
  3. Fat - sesame seeds are about 55% fat, however, most of this is mono and poly unsaturated fat.  They contain a small amount of Omega 3's but mostly have Omeg 6 essential fatty acids
  4. Carbohydrates - only 0.9%
  5. Minerals - potassium, magnesium, manganese, small amounts of calcium and one of teh few vegetarian sources of zinc
  6. Vitamins - Vitamin E as well as small amounts of some B vitamins
  7. Anioxidants - they contain a group of antioxidants called lignans; they have been shown to reduce cholesterol and improve heart health

*All of the above information was on a hand-out Renee gave us.
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Meal Plan Monday

Every week I put together a basic meal plan.  It's simple and easy and saves me time during the busy work week when I have to come home and cook up dinner within about an hour of arriving through the door.  I don't usually put "on Monday is  potatos....on Tuesday is nodles, etc"  Rather I make a plan of enough meals to last through the week and then cook them up on whatever night sounds good.  It seems to work well that way and I don't feel locked into something that really doesn't sound too good on a particular night.

I'm posting this week's meal plan here, in hopes that I can remember to do it each week.  Maybe that way I can stay a bit more honest to my plans.  =)

I try to make mostly homemade, mostly preservative free, mostly low processed meals.  I don't always succeed.  Sometimes the convience factor takes over and I make whatever I can find that is quick and easy.

I've tried freezer cooking, but it never worked for us.  Either I forgot the food was there until too late or it was nothing that sounded good at any time.  I had a hard time find recipes that would freeze well that would fit with the family's allergies and likes.  And really, most of the time, our two deep freezes are so full with fresh meat and veggies from the last year's garden that there isn't room for much more.

So here is Meal Plan Monday for the week of April 26th, 2010.

Breakfasts (only 2-3 per week)
Scrambled Eggs w/ toast
other cereal

Lunches (only 2 -3 per week at home)
Grilled Cheese Sandwhiches with ABC tater tots
Noodles with tomato sauce & garlic toast

School Lunches
Cheese sticks
Potato chips
Celery Sticks

Homemade Mac n' Cheese
Speghetti w/homemade sauce & Garlic toast and salad
Sloppy Joes w/potato wedges
Soup of some kind (either chili or chicken noodle, probably)
Fish (for adults) and turkey hot dogs (for kids) w/salad
Leftovers Dinner
BLTs w/cabbage salad and fresh fruit

Fruits & Veggies
Corn (from freezer - 2 times)
Broccoli (from freezer - 2 times)
Fresh veggie dippers
Mandarin Oranges
Fruit salad
Apple slices

Something to talk about
Do you meal plan?
How do you plan your family's meals?
Do you freezer cook?  Once a month cook?
What kinds of foods does your family eat regularly?
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Thursday, April 15, 2010

We have babies!!

Not the human kind (we have more than enough of those running around the house, thank you very much!)  Not the chicken or bunny kind, either (again, we have more than enough of those!)

Baby plants!!!  About two weeks ago, I planted some peas, radishes and lettuce in the small garden.  Yesterday, while examinging the garden, I saw some baby sprouts coming up!  I was excited.  The wee things were even more excited!  We were all jumping around yelling, "Baby plants!  Baby plants!!"  It was probably pretty funny!

There are a lot of radishes and lettuce coming up and only a few peas, but I'm guessing there will be a few more in the next few days. 

And then today at work, another teacher gave me two huge cabbage seedlings!  I love garden sharing!
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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Shake it, Shake it, Shake it

This week I started the shake/smoothie diet.  Well, it's not really a diet.  Just a way to get a little more protien and fresh fruits into my diet.  I love veggies, but am not a big fruit or fruit juice person.  However, I have always loved the fruit smoothies you can get in the summer at various events.  So I decided to start making my own.

I bought myself a brand spanking new blender.  Then I picked up a bunch of fresh fruit and some fruit juice.  And finally some protien powder.  Two days and two yummy concoctions.

Banana Berry Fruit Smoothie
-1 overripe banana
-3 strawberries
-handful of frozen blueberries
-1 scoop vanilla protien powder
-1 large spoonful vanilla yogurt
-6-8 ice cubes
-approx. 1/3 C raspberry goji V8 Fusion fruit juice

Chocolate Cherry Bomb Smoothie
-1 scoop vanilla protien powder
-handful plus a little frozen sweet cherries
- 1 and a half overripe bananas
- 1 large spoonful cocoa powder
- 1 large spoonful vanilla yogurt
- approx 1/3 C raspberry goji V8 Fusion juice
- 6-8 ice cubes

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Independence Days

I found this challenge on another blog and thought it was interesting.  Here at the CrazyLife we try to live as sustainable as possible, as green as possible and as efficient as possible.  Now we don't always reach that goal, but we do try.  There are times when the craziness of two full time outside the home jobs, four children and all their activities and everything else pile up and we fall out of habit.  But most of the time we do what we try to do.  And when we make an effort it goes well.  I don't know if I'd go as far as to say we're homesteading or living fully sustainbly, but we're doing okay.

So then I found this challenge: Independence Days Challenge and I thought it was great!  I mean, a challenge to help me reach my goals.  Anything to help keep me accountable.  So I'm a little late to the party (only a month and a half or so....), but I'm joining in for the rest of the summer.  Every little thing.....

The challenge has seven basic principles of daily things to do:
  1. Plant Something
  2. Harvest Something
  3. Preserve Something
  4. Waste Not
  5. Want Not
  6. Build Community Food Systems
  7. Eat the Food
I'm thinking that I can even carry this over to my decluttering personal challenge I've been doing (although I've been even worse updating that blog than this one!).  Especially with the Waste Not category.  So many things to take to donation centers!

What do you think?  Check it out and join in if it's something that looks interesting to you!

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In which I admit to being a choco-holic

I admit it.  I love chocolate.  I mean, I don't just love chocolate......I L.O.V.E. L.O.V.E. it.
All of it.  In any form.  In any color.  In any flavor.  In anything (well, almost)
So today I'm going to share two *healthy* chocolate recipes with you. 
They're both yummy and kid-approved. 
And pretty easy too.  =)

Black Bean Brownies
1 15 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
3 large eggs
3 TBS vegetable oil (type of your choice - I used olive as that is what I had on hand)
3/4 C granulated sugar (I replaced with honey)
1/2 C cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract (I *might* have used a bit more - I also L.O.V.E. vanilla)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 C flour
pinch salt
1/4 C - 1/2 C chocolate chips (I used half and half chocolate and carob chips)
*optional: 1/2 tsp peppermint extract (Sometimes I use this and sometimes not)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray an 8x8 pan with nonstick cooking spray (or grease it in some other manner)

Place beans in food processor and process until smooth and creamy.  Add all the remaining ingredients, except chocolate chips and process until a smooth, thick dough forms.

Add in half the chocolate chips and process until they are broken up.

Pour into pan.  Add remaining chocolate chips on top.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until the sides begin to pull away and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool and enjoy!!


Choco-cado Pudding
2 medium or large avacados
1/2 cup sweetener of your choice (honey or agave works well; granulated changes the texture a bit)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 TBS nut butter (I like peanut butter)
water to add for texture

Scoop out avacado and place in food processor.  Add all other ingredients except water and process until smooth.  Slowly add in small amounts of water until the consistancy you like is reached.  Refridgerate for a couple hours to let the flavors blend.  Enjoy!!!
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Mr. and Mrs. Puddlecluck

This weekend, Mr. CrazyLife decided to go to a small animal sale.  He was on the lookout for weeder geese.  I told him I really didn't want any geese as they can be quite snarly and I was worried about the kids around them.  He was quite adament that we needed some to weed out the garden and strawberry patch.  He was also on the lookout for new bunnies as our Momma Bunnies were getting past the breeding stage and our Buck just wasn't interested anymore.

Saturday night I traveled to my in-law's house to pick up the children who had spent the day there.  When we got home, we found these little feathered friends waiting for us!

Not the greatest picture quality, I know.  But these little guys move around like crazy and it was hard to catch them at all!  Plus, if we got close they ran!

Lavendar Guinea Fowl!!  They are beautiful!!  We have a pair, male and female.  I'm loving listening to their chatter - so much noiser than the chickens!  And they are so cute they way they travel around together.  We've named them Mr. and Mrs. Puddlecluck.

Right now they are housed with the chickens and we plan on keeping it that way if we can.  Everything I've read says that should be okay.  We don't know a lot about this type of bird, but I've been reading up on Back Yard Chickens.

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Chicken Photos

Although I promised these a few days ago in another post.....I got distracted.  So here they are in all their glory! 
Chicken pictures!!!

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Friday, April 9, 2010

Birthday Party Update

After all the planning that went into the Hula Girl birthday party - I never updated!!  So here are some pictures of the fun times we had partying away, Hawaiian style!!

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A Hike in the Woods

Over the Easter holiday, the family and I drove to south-eastern Ohio to visit Grammy and Papa.  It was a quick trip as the wee things and I had to be back at school on Easter Monday, although Mr. Crazy Life has had this week off.  We did all kinds of fun things while there - we visited Amish Country, we colored eggs, we played with the kitties and Uncle Robbie and Aunt Bethie, and we took about a 3 mile hike in the woods.

This is Dysart Woods.  It's a 55 acre tract owned by the Ohio University.  It is the largest area of virgin oak forest in the state of Ohio.  It's absolutly beautiful!  We took the red trail, which apparently is a bit harder.  It was about 200' downhill, then up, then down, then up again and then a quarter mile back to the parking lot along an unpaved road. 

The trees there are gigantic!  It was a lot like walking in the upper peninsula of Michigan, but a lot hotter and muggier!  The kids really enjoyed scrambling along the logs and climbing.  Thing #4 was trying her hardest to walk and catch up to the bigger kids.

Mr. Crazy Life and myself preferred to show our environmentalist sides by becoming tree huggers.

Auntie Beth, Papa and Miss Jackie came along for the hike.  It was a beautiful morning and a beautiful hike.  And the kids slept like a dream that night!

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How Does Your Garden Grow?

It's spring!!  Time to plan and plant the garden!!  One of my favorite times of year.

Right now, there isn't much happening in our yard.  Considering that everything was covered in a fine layer of snow this morning, I guess I should be glad that anything is popping out.  However, the super warm temps over the last week or two and the rain of this week should get things moving.  The trees are starting to bud and the lilacs we cut back and replanted last year appear to be taking off.  My blueberry bushes are growing and budding.  My two roses that have survived are greening out.  The grass is starting to get green.  Lillies and daffodils are popping up, although no flowers yet.

And then a few days ago, these little beauties popped out!

And in the garden itself, I noticed that some strawberries were looking pretty good.  It's only our second year with strawberries, but I'm hoping for a good crop.  We transplanted some from my mom's house last weekend - about 25 - to add to the 15 or so we already had going.

Last weekend we also put some peas, lettuce and radishes into the ground.  I'm hoping they do well.  I've never put them in this early. 

We have two garden areas.  A smaller one, that recieves more shade, where the peas, lettuces, herbs, strawberries, blueberries, beans and I think celery and radishes this year go.  It is a rounded garden, cut into quarters by a brick path.  One quarter is the strawberries.  One has peas and lettuces and the radishes.  The third will be the beans and celery. The last quarter I reserve for some flowers for cutting.  The blueberry bushes are around one edge of the circle, under the pines for the acidity.

Our main garden is quite large - I think it was 120' x 35' last year and we are extending it another 25'-30' this year.  The chicken run will get moved to the south end, where the new section is and we will plant the vines in the old chicken run on the north end this year.  Next year we'll move the chickens back.

We usually do corn, peppers (at least 3-4 varieties), cabbage (at least 2 varieties), cauliflower, tomatos (usually around 6-8 varieties), onions, broccoli, cucumbers (at least 2 varieities), watermelon, sunflowers, melons, radishes, beans, and carrots.

This year we are going to try potatos as well, but we aren't putting them in the garden.  We're going to try them in a barrel.  Hopefully that will work out!

My herbs will go in pots this year.  Last year I had them in the smaller garden and tehy totally took it over!  I now have chamoille growing all over the yard - all over!  So this year I'm going to put them all in pots and put them up by the house.  They'll get partial sunlight that way and hopefully not run wild!

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Easter Eggs

This year, for the second time, we decided to try dying Easter eggs the natural way.  And by that I mean using plants and spices for the coloring.  Last year we used regular white eggs and had moderate results.  We liked how it turned out, but the colors were kind of, well, blah.

This year we tried again and used our brown eggs (and some white ones my mom had sitting around).  What a difference!  They turned out really nice.  They aren't bright, like the dyes you get from the store, but they sure are pretty!

(sorry for the picture's off my blackberry)

From the top row:  Dark Purple egg (dark brown to start) - grape juce
Brownish egg - black tea with red sugar crystals
Green egg - spinich

Next row:  All three Yellow Eggs - tumeric spice

Next two rows: All six orange eggs - yellow onion skins

Next row:  Yellow Egg - saffron spice
Reddish egg - cranberry juice
Green egg - celery seed

Bottom row: All three Green eggs - spinich

Pretty, no?
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Chicken Update

I think I mentioned in a previous post about our chickens.  Well, Mr. Crazy Life brought us some new ones shortly after that.  We now have about 30 hens and 3 roosters.  They are a mix of Barred Rock, Rhode Island Reds, Buff Orphingtons, Americanas and some "mutts" or mixes that we're not quite sure what exactly they are!  Our dominent rooster, Big Red, is a young one from last year and next in line is Chicken Little, the first egg we incubated and hatched at home.  The lowest rooster in the pecking order is Mr. Speckles, who although is beautiful with his coat of many colors and white polka dots, just doesn't seem to be as popular with the ladies.  *laugh*  Of course it could be the fact that the wee things named him Mr. Speckles.....he doesn't appear to be overly impressed with it and while the other chicks and roosters will come when we call them, he totally refuses!

Since we started keeping chickens, there have been a few things that have suprised me.  First of all, I have to say that I am totally not a bird person, but I tolerate the chicks for the eggs and food.  But I love how they seem to have such a sense of community within the flock.  There is a definite pecking order and it's interesting to watch that play out.  Also, I'm amazed at how social they are with us - the humans.  I never imagine that they would come when called or follow us around like ducks in a row.  I've gotten to the point where I enjoy being outside with "the girls" and talking to them and interacting with them a bit.  The wee monsters just like to chase the roosters and hens and make them scatter all over the yard!

Anyhow, our wonderful little feathered friends are now providing us with between seven and fourteen eggs a day, making our tummies and our friends tummies very happy.  We get all kinds of colors - dark brown, light brown, almost white, blue and once in a while a green one.  The kids are always excited when a colored egg pops up!

I'll try to update this post later tonight with a lovely (well, somewhat grey and wet due to the weather) chicken photo!
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Spring Break

So I took a little spring break from blogging.  Between work and home and kids and everything, I just needed a little break.  Plus, there's nothing really exciting happening around here!

I'm back and hoping to be a little more active again (have you seen this before?).....
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