Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day 2010

As you celebrate and visit with your family and friends this Memorial Day, please take a few moments to remember those who have served in our country's armed forces and given thier lives in sacrifice to our country.  Remember also, those who still serve.  Let us honor them all.
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A Taste of Summer

It's the official kick-off weekend for summer and I am SOOOO looking forward to it!!
Between the super warm weather, the sunshine and all the picnics we've been having, I kind of feel like it has already arrived.
So to start off the season, here's a surefire recipe for a summer picnic. 
Or maybe even a late spring one!

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

1 pie crust
 (either homemade or store bought; enough to make a cover & base)

2 C Strawberries, hulled and chopped

2 C rhubarb, cut in small pieces
(I usually cut the stalk into three and then chop from there)

1 1/2 C granulated sugar

2 TBS flour

Zest of one orange

Juice of one orange

Mix all ingredients together and put in base of pie crust.  Cover with top crust.  Cut vents.  Decorate as desired.  Bake at 400 for about 40 minutes or until crust is brown and filling is bubbly. 
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Friday, May 28, 2010

New Friend Friday

I'm linking up to the New Friend Friday at The Girl Creative today.  Hope to meet some new friends and find some new blogs to hop around and follow!
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Bath Fun for the Kiddos

Since I'm in the bath and body mode today, I thought I'd share a fun little recipe I use for the kids bath.  Bath Fizzies.  Or Bath Bombs as some call them.  I was first introduced to these through a parenting message board I frequent. I ordered a few from a WAHM vendor on there and the kids loved them.  Begged to have them at every bath!!  They love to throw in the ball (or whatever molded shape) and watch it fizzle away!  So I started to look into how to make them myself.  Keep things a bit cheaper, plus, it gives me a project to do with the kids.  We're going to make up a batch of these really soon!

Bath Fizzies Baisc Recipe

1 C baking soda
1/2 C citric acid (available at drugstore/bulk foods)
1/2 C salts (dead sea or epsom)
1/2 C corn starch

Mix together all dry ingredients.

1 TBS water
1-2 TBS oil (any light vegetable oil will work; I've also used cocnut oil)
1-2 drops food coloring (if desired - makes for fun colors)
1-2 tsp essential oil (if desired - for fun)

Mix wet ingredients and add to dry ingredient mixture.  Now you have to work fast before the mix begins to set.  Take the mix and press into a mold.  Let them sit in a dry place, out of humidity for at least a day.  You can take them out of the mold reletively quickly as they will take shape and then let them dry out of the mold.  You can also use just about anything for a mold - ice cube trays, candy molds, plastic two piece christmas bulbs, etc. You can also take large scoops and use your hands to mold them into balls.
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Another Summer Beauty Idea to Try

Okay, I've never tried this one.  But I'm finding that as I get older, shaving gets harder and harder.  The hairs just seem to come back faster.  And with all the nurological issues I'm having, the sensation of stubby hair on my legs and arms really bothers me.  Strange, I know.  But I found this idea for hair removal the other day and I think I might give it a try.  It's called sugaring and while it is similar to waxing, apparently it works better and is not as painful.  Hmmmm, we'll have to see.  Let me know if you try it out!

Basic Sugaring Recipe and Directions

2 cups sugar
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup water

Combine the ingredients in a heavy saucepan, and heat on low using a candy thermometer. Watch the mixture very carefully so that it doesn’t boil over. Heat the mixture to 250 F on the candy thermometer; this is the hardball candy stage.

Remove from the heat and let cool enough to pour into a jar without breaking or melting the jar. (Note that this jar will be reheated in the future. Make sure it is safe for whatever form of reheating you plan to do—in the microwave, or in a pan of water.

Rip clean cotton fabric in 1-inch strips. Make sure the cotton isn’t too coarsely woven.

This next step is very critical: Let the mixture cool enough so that it won’t burn your skin. The first time I did this I didn’t let the blend cool enough and I burned myself! Test the mixture on the palm of your hand, knowing that is much tougher than the sensitive skin under your arms.

Using a dull knife or Popsicle stick, spread the cooled sugar onto your skin. Cover with the cloth strips, let set for a few minutes, and then rip off quickly as you would a bandage.

In the future you can reheat the mixture to a warm and not hot temperature (see above), and reuse. Note that reheating will thicken the paste.

Taken from: Care 2 Make A Difference

Apparently, the history of body sugaring goes way back to the ancient Egyptian times.  The Pharohs would ask that their slave girls (or harem, I suppose) would be completly hairless.   This was a sign of beauty and cleanliness.  While there were razors and cutters available back then, I would imagine they would not be the safest or cleanest way to go with hair removal.  So sugaring was used.  Interesting, no?
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Summer Beauty

I don't know about anyone else, but I find it the hardest to keep my skin smooth, clean and clear in the summer months.  All that hot weather wreaks havoc on my skin, espcially on my face.  Between sunscreen (a must for the very fair like myself), sweat, bronzers (since we avoid the sun, must do something for a warm glow), and cholorine/salt water/sand etc, I'm a mess!  So what to do?

I think I've found a few answers.  And I plan to share them with you.  The best thing is that they work all year long - not just in the summer!!  And they are simple and natural.  No putting icky chemicals or things we can't pronounce on our faces!  And dare I say it, they are even a bit yummy?

I have a trick that not only cleans my face and helps keep it clear, but it also leaves me a rosy glow and tight happy pores.  This tricks uses a secret ingredient that I think truely is nature's superfood - Honey.  That's it.  Honey.  Use honey with a bit of warm water.  Rub it all over your face and then wash it off.  You could use crystallized honey for a bit of a scrub (works better than those acidy peels and masks) or mix it with a bit of witch hazel or chamoille for added benefit.  Green tea mixed with it is nice as well.  I keep my honey in a little glass jar next to the bathroom sink.

Now to keep skin looking healthy all over and to get rid of the dull skin look, I use a homemade sugar scrub in the shower.  It's easy peasy lemon squeezy to make.  Just take about 1/2 C of sugar (white or brown - I like brown cause it smells so good!) and enough cold-pressed oil (such as olive, peanut, coconut or sunflower) to make it damp.  You could add some essential oil to it as well for added aromatherapy (peppermint is a great picker-upper).  Rub it all over before you hop in the shower and your skin will glow!

You could even go crazy with the sugar scrub and mix it up a bit.  Try some mashed up banana instead of the oil.  Or use yogurt and some tomato for the alpha-huydroxy effect.

Does your hair need extra conditioning in the summer?  Dried out from too much sun or pool water?  Try mixing in about a 1/4 C of mayonaise and letting it sit for half an hour before washing out.  Or use an egg mixed with a bit of coconut oil. 

If your hair needs a bit of shine due to that sun and pool water again , mix about a tsp of HONEY (there it is favorite superfood!) into about 4 C of water and mix into your hair after shampooing.  Do not rinse it out.

So there's a few of my natural summer beauty recipes.  Simple, clean and natural.  And best off all, they make you look and feel great!!
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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Puddlecluck's Adventure

When we first got Mr. and Mrs. Puddlecluck, we were told that we should keep them in an enclosed area for six to eight weeks, as Guinea Fowl like to roam.  They said we needed to "teach" them where home was so that when they eventually free-roamed they would return at night.  This made us a bit nervous as we usually let our chicks out every day.  So we looked up on our favorite chicken site - BackYard Chickens to see what we could find about them.  Everything we can find says that they will roam up to a 1/2 mile away from their roosting spot.  Hmmmm...

So on Saturday we let the chickens and guinea fowl out to free-range for the first time since setting in our unfenced garden about 6 weeks ago.  We wanted it to get established before we let them out to dust and roam.  The chickens were estactic.  I think the guinea were even more so - you should have heard them chatter!

Fast forward about an hour.  Mr. and Mrs. Puddlecluck are wandering down the driveway.  Chattering away.  They are almost to the road.  I sneak out behind them to try to shoo them back into the yard.  They take off running.  It must have quite an amusing site for our neighbors.

So they take off down the road.  I wish I would have taken my camera.  They were so cute - they were chattering and meandering off to the west.  Just like an old married couple.  Then they crossed the street.  About an hour later I saw them mid-way down the field across the road.  An hour after that they were out of site.

The kids were pretty worried they would not come back.  We kept checking.  They kept looking into the fields.  I just hoped they would find us.

Shortly before dinner I heard their distinctive chatter.  They were back in the pen, happy as could be and wet as if they'd played in the rain.  I don't know where they went, but it must have been a good time!  They were chattering at the chickens and our rooster, Mr. Speckles looked just disgusted with what they were telling him - guess he was jealous that he didn't get to go on an adventure!
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Mealplan Monday (on Tuesday!)

A day late and a dollar short - that's me! 

Rice Cereal
Breakfast protien smoothies

Grilled Cheese/Grilled PBJ

School Lunches
Cheese Sticks
Juice Boxes
Carrot/Celery Sticks

BLT sandwiches with chips
Pizza (from the resturant)
Grilled Burgers & Dogs
Bean Soup
Fish Sticks/Fish Fillets
Oriental Chicken Salad

Potato Salad
Twice Baked Potatos
Rhubarb/Strawberry Pie
Homemade pop tarts
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Friday, May 21, 2010

Pictures on a Friday Afternoon!

Yesterday was such a beautiful day - we spent the entire afternoon and evening outside!! 
 Here's some of the fun!

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Garden Update

We've been spending lots and lots of time out in the garden lately.  With warmer weather and lots of rain and more sunshine, we're itching to get that garden growing!

In the last few weeks we've planted raspberry bushes, rhubarb roots, rubarb plants, onions, more radishes, more peas, potatos, carrots, corn and sunflowers, and some herbs.  The herbs are in pots as I've found that otherwise they take over the entire yard ( as my chamoille did last year - it's coming up all over the place!) 

The apple tree has blossomed and bloomed and now has little baby apples started!  The strawberry plants are brimming with little and big berries - not even close to being red, but growing, growing, growing!  One of the blueberry bushes had little flowers on it; the other one is just blossoming leaves.

We harvested a little bit of asparagus.  It was only it's second year, so nothing spectacular.  Only about 10 shoots.  We also plan on adding more plants to that patch.

We've planted a rosebush, some gladiola bulbs, some pansies and columbines.  I got my Mother's Day hanging basket and put that up.  We transplanted a few more lilac bushes.

Last night DH tilled up the big garden.  Next weekend will probably be our big planting weekend when we put up the vines, the peppers, tomatos, more sunflowers, broccoli, cabbages, cauliflower, more lettuces, more peas and who knows what else?  We'll have to see what the nursery has that looks like fun!
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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Father's Day Ideas....

Father's Day is coming up soon and I always tend to do last minute things.  Last year it was a Tshirt from Walmart with Snoopy on a motercycle that said, "Big Daddy."  It was cute and Mr. CrazyLife wears it all the time.  But I'd like to do something a little cuter and more meaningful this year.  So I started searching online.  I love online research!!  =)

I found this and can totally see doing it!!  It would be simple and easy and we'd just have to find a time when Daddy's workboots were unused and he was out of the house (that would be the tricky part - maybe we'll use an old pair of boots)  I'm going to look for a different quote to use, I think.  This one is cute, but I want something a bit different.  Thanks, Amber at The McIllece Spot for a fantastic idea!!

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Garage Sale Finds

We love going to garage sales.  Call them rummage, junk, garage, yard sales - whatever.  We love them.  And you can find such treasure there!  I like finding play clothes for the kids - when you pay a quarter for something, it's not as big of a deal if it gets grass-stained or ripped or whatnot.  I also find all kinds of cute little teacups.  I've found things for my classroom.  Mr. CrazyLife likes to find old tools or weird odds n' ends of things. 

But sometimes he finds something that even I can consider a great treasure!  Look at what he brought home last week:

It's a lawnmower - a HUMAN powered lawnmower!!

Isn't that just the best?  No gas.  No electricity.  Just plain old human sweat and muscle.

I used it yesterday for a while.  Mr. CrazyLife used the rider mower (we do have just over an acre to mow), and I used this little baby around the kids in the play area and under my laundry lines.  I edged the driveway.  I criss-crossed Mr. CrazyLife's mow lines to make a cute pattern.  It was a great upper-body workout.  It also helped allow me to work out some frustration from earlier in the day.

The best part is that the kids love to push it around.  Our lawn looks better than ever and the kids are exhausted every night after pushing it.  =)
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A Day at the Farm

Thing #1 with our friend's horse, Pokey

Yesterday afternoon we took the kids and went to visit the Farm.  This is where Mr. CrazyLife spends most weekends.  He works with the animals and does some woodcutting with the farmer.  He had to return a few things there, so we all tagged along to visit our animals and see how they are doing.  The kids totally enjoy going and it's nice to get out and visit.

Some of the piggies - we will get two of these for our freezer

One of our cows - Pork Chop

Another one of our cows - I think this is Brown Nose

If you look carefully, you'll see two baby cows in this picture.  One of them is ours.

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Meal Plan Monday =)

Scrambled Eggs w/toast

PBJ & chips
Speghetti (at church)
Chicken soup

School Lunches
garden burgers (for me)
cheese sticks
Cheeze It's
Rice granola bars

Grilled Brat Burgers
Breakfast - pancakes, bacon, eggs
Ham & Bean Soup
Fish dinner

Sweet Potato fries
Baked Potato
Sliced Apples
Carrots/Celery/Pepper/Cucumber slices w/dip
Cabbage salad
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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Asian Inspired Salmon and Slaw

A recipe inspired by one in my recent Fitness magazine.  Pretty tasty and healthy too!

4 oz Salmon fillet
Asian marinade (I used Teryaki Pinapple)
1TBS sesame oil
1/2 C rice wine vinegar (next time I'll use red wine vinegar instead)
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
3 C chopped cabbage
1 tsp sesame seeds (I skipped this since I didn't have any)
1 TBS sliced almonds

Marinate salmon in the Asian marinade for 15 minutes (I might actually do it a bit longer next time).  Remove from marinade and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

Mix together sesame oil, vinegar, sugar and salt and toss with chopped cabbage.  Top with sesame seeds and almonds.

Serve salmon with slaw on the side.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Independance Days - May 4 - May 10

Plant Something
This week we planted more raspberry bushes, some geraniums, pansies, columbines and some more onions and corn.  Also some wild chives we found and transplanted.

Harvest Something
Nothing much this week - the last of the asparagus shoots, maybe?  As always, eggs.  DH did a few rabbits up as well.

Preserve Something

Waste Not
I bagged up some more too-small clothes for the Salvation Army.  Saved the last drops of shampoo and combined into a new bottle.  Reused some clothing items, cloth and other things for my school play costumes.

Want Not
Bought some more corn seeds.  Stocked up on noodles of various types.  Bought a new "natural" deoderant to try.

Building Community Food Systems
Shared some raspberry seedlings with friends.  Took eggs to give to friends at church.  Blogging.

Eat the Food
Ate the last of the aspargus shoots.  Scrambled eggs for dinner/breakfast.  Wild Chives.  Veggies from last year from the freezer.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Another Giveaway....

I just found a great blog that has all kinds of neat-o giveaways!!  Like this one:

Whimsy Couture Pattern Giveaway!!

I love making all kinds of cute little clothes for my munchkins.  I don't have a lot of time to do it and I don't really follow patterns all that well.  =)  But I still enjoy working with fabrics and putting pieces together and coming up with something cute or beautiful for my kids.  And I love when they wear it somewhere and can say with pride that "my Momma made this!"

(my own Momma is probably going to roll over reading this as I always swore I would never be a sewer or make clothes for my children the way she did when we were little.  Her best friend is probably already doubled over with tears in her eyes, since she tried to teach me to sew many many moons ago with less than very little success!)

Anyhoo, Whimsy Couture has some cute, classic, vintage inspired patterns available for download at their Etsy store HERE.  I love the Apron Twirl Peasant Dress or the Apron Double Layered Ruffle Skirt.  I can totally see my girls wearing a matching set of these!

Well, I've never won anything yet, but I sure hope I win this mind is already picking out the perfect fabrics!!
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Meal Plan Monday (errr, Tuesday maybe?)

Breakfasts (only 2-3 per week)
Scrambled Eggs w/toast
Hash Brown Potatos

Lunches (only 2-3 per week)
Grilled Cheese/Grilled PB w/tator tots
Chicken Noodle Soup w/bread & butter
Sandwich Day w/potato chips

School Lunches
 Hot Lunch (3 days -it's a busy week)
Cheese Sticks
Granola Bars
Juice Boxes

Homemade Mac n' Cheese (still trying to perfect a recipe)
Chili w/garlic bread
Chicken Noodle Soup
Leftovers Dinner
Homemade Pizza
Grilled Steak/Hamburgs
Tacos/Taco Salad

corn (from freezer)
broccoli (from freezer)
green beans (from freezer)
baked potatos
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The Chocoholic Strikes Again

Remember a while back when I admitted to being a chocoholic?  Well, I'm doing it again.  One of the blogs I follow, CrAxY HoUsE, is doing a review of Anna Shae Chocolates today.  Oh my goodness!!!  Not only are these beautifully handpainted chocolates, the flavors they offer sound divine! Strawberry Chardonnay Marzipan?  Dark Chocolate Cherry?  Gianduja & Lavender Ganache?  Rose Cream?  Rhubarb?  Not only different, but delicious!  Sign me up!!

CrAzY HoUsE is hosting a giveaway of these delicious sounding chocolates!  They are giving away a 24 count signature box of Anna Shae Chocolates!  Head HERE to check it out!!

Go HERE to check out more the delicious sounding chocolate flavors!!
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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Independance Days - April 28-May 4

My second update since starting this!!  (I missed the Tuesday update since it's been a crazy week - I'm a day late and a dollar short all week!)

Plant Something
This week we planted some rhubarb that we picked up at Menards.  Also planted a new climbing rosebush.  Put in some onion sets (100 of those - more to be planted in two weeks), and some raspberry bushes.  We transplanted some flowers in the front yard and a lilac bush to the side yard to start a windrow.

Harvest Something
We harvested some asparagus!!  It is in it's second year, so there wasn't a ton or it and it was tiny and super tender.  DH ate it raw, right out of the garden and the kids munched on it too!
Preserve Something
Bought some berries and froze them.  Nothing that is in season here yet.
Waste Not
Reused some seed packs from last year to start new seeds.  Saved plastic bags from various places to use as garbage bags. 

Want Not
Bought freshish berries from the store.  New shoes for the kids.

Build Community Food Systems
Blogging and sharing on a community message board's gardening thread.  Also, the raspberries we planted came from friends at church and some of the rhubarb came from a neighbor at the farm.
Eat the Food
As mentioned above, DH and the kids tried the super fresh right out of the garden asparagus (I cooked the rest of it later).  Also have been eating blueberries, corn, saurkrat and broccoli out of the freezer from last year's garden.
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Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Place Called Home

Perhaps it began with Laura and her Rocky Ridge Farm.  Or maybe it was Anne and her beloved Green Gables.  Or perhaps, even, Scarlett and beutiful Tara.  Or maybe it stems from an interest in history and the way I was raised.  Whichever it is, I've always had a name for my home and property.

Growing up my parents were involved in a group called the SCA, or the Society for Creative Anacronism.  Basically, they dressed up, make up pretend names and pretended tha  they lived during the Middle Ages.  I think it's kind of like a grown-up tea party.  I personally, was never really into it and just got dragged along until I was old enough to voice an opinion.  Anyhoo, because of this, my parents acted as a Scottish lord and lady and their "manor home" aka our house, was called Wildweed Manor.  =)  Mom says they named it this because they could never get anything to grow besides weeds.  Even though I thought the whole Middle Ages thing was dumb (can we get a bit of teenage attitude in that statement, please?) I thought it was cool that they named our house.  We even had a sign that said "Welcome to Wildweed Manor" in gaelic.  Pretty cool stuff, that.

And as an avid reader, I fell in love with Laura Ingalls Wilder and her Rocky Ridge Farm in Missouri.  I enjoyed reading about Anne's adventures around her green-gabled home.  The beauty of Scarlett O'Hara's Tara plantation, both in words and on the movie screen really stayed in my mind.  And as an adult, reading of Broch Turach in Scotland, the home of Jamie and Claire Fraser of the Outlander series sticks there.

I have always been intrigued by the fact that these old manor homes, especially in the Brittish Isles, had names.  Or that the southern plantations were named.  As a teen, I would think, "why would you ever name a home?"

Now that I'm an adult (or at least masquerade as one most of the time) and a homeowner and land owner, I totally get it.  Giving a house or farm or land a name totaly gives it a personality.  It adds character.  It gives a house life and breath and helps to make it a home.

I must admit that even my first apartment had a name - I called it Garden Court.  I think the complex had a boring name like Bay Manor or somesuch.  But my little one bedroom overlooked the center gardens and they were beautifully kept in the summer.  I'm not sure I ever told anyone about my little pet name for the apartment.  =)

When we bought our house and one acre, I searched high and low for a name that would fit our little homestead.  You can choose a name based on family history or ethnic background.  You could choose it based on location.  Or characteristics of the home.  I thought and thought and thought.

Finally, I found the perfect name!  I've always been very big into my own Scottish/Irish heritage and wanted something to honor that.  I also decided to use the location of the house.  Thus, Auburn Glen was born.  Auburn, as we are located between two towns/villages, the closest of which is Auburn.  Glen, reflecting the great glens of Scotland and my heritage (sorry Mr. CrazyLife....I guess we left out your heritage there!) and while we aren't particularily in a glen, we are surrounded by farm fields, so I figured it was close enough.  The final straw was that is flowed and had a bit of poetry to it.  I cannot imagine a house named without a thought to flow or the poetry of the name.

Does anyone else name their home or land?  I can't be the only crazy person out there who does this?  Am I?
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