Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Homemade Lanterns

We did a very quick, easy project this morning. We made lanterns out of mason jars and tissue paper. We even got Dad to make one. This is a simple craft that is great for even the littlest of hands. All you need is a glass jar of any type (we just happen to have an over abundance of Mason-type jars thanks to my mom), some watered down white school glue and tissue paper.

Mix your glue with water to get it pretty thin. "Paint" sections of your jar and stick on tissue paper. I was so thankful to have my tissue paper already cut. Keep going around your jar until you have the design you want. You can cover up the entire jar or leave little holes in spaces. If you want to get real creative glitter is always fun too!
After we got all the tissue on we painted over it with a real thin coat of watered down glue to make sure the tissue was secure.

I wish I had some craft wire because I would have made a lantern handle. But I still think they are cute without. I still may get some today when I run into town. I think they would look "finished".

Put a candle inside your jar and you have a beautiful new creation!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Chocolate Playdough

Cold, rainy days call for something special so we whipped up a batch of chocolate playdough. Be warned though, once you make it your hands will smell like yummy chocolate all day. Not that that is necessarily a bad thing. Seeing it in that bowl makes me think of chocolate pudding......another yummy thing!

So, you think you want to make some? It's probably one of the easiest playdoughs I have ever made.

Here's how:

1 1/4 c flour
1/2 c cocoa
1/2 c salt
2 tsp cream of tartar

Combine and mix ingredients thoroughly. Once mixed, add in 1 1/2 T cooking oil and 1 c boiling water. Mix and knead until you have a nice soft ball of dough.

Store in either a plastic baggie or airtight container. I always keep mine in the refrigerator,I don't know if it really prolongs the lifespan or not, but I do know that I have playdough that is about 1.5 years old now and it's as good now as it was the day it was made.

Who could resist a chocolate heart made by their favorite kid?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Magic Reindeer Food

It's been ages since I have posted anything. Maybe its the weather, maybe I've just been lazy. I don't know. I do know I keep thinking I should blog, but just haven't had the "umph" to do it. So here I sit, in front of my computer getting out this bad blogger funk I have been in!

Today is a lovely rainy day. I love these days. We have a fire going, roast in the oven and Maggie and I are sipping peppermint tea with a candy cane. It's been a good day!

We got up this morning and thought it would be fun to make some Reindeer Food. Maggie wanted to make some for her friends down the street, Heather and Shawn. So we put their bags together and while they were gone we snuck up and put it on their doorstep. Maggie is excited for them to find it.

The idea of Reindeer Food is to sprinkle it on your front lawn on Christmas Eve before going to bed. It helps the reindeer find their to your house so Santa can leave packages!

Here she is getting ready to walk down to their house

And leaving the scene of the crime.....

If you would like to make your own Reindeer Food it's SUPER easy! This is how you do it:

1/2 c oatmeal
1/4 c red or green sugar crystals
handful of birdseed (we used chicken feed)

If you need to make colored sugar crystals, just put your sugar in a bowl and a drop or two of red or green food coloring. Mix together.

I put mine in a plastic sandwich bag. You could put it in anything you like. Whatever is easy for little hands.

I found the cute little labels on The Idea Room.

The poem on the back says:

"Sprinkle on the lawn at night
the moon will make it sparkle bright
as santa's reindeer fly and roam
this will guide them to your home"

I stapled the picture and poem to the top of my baggie and our project was done. I was going to get "fancy" with a red ribbon and a bell, but couldn't find my ribbon. hhhmmmppphhhh

**Since this will be sprinkles outside your home, please remember to keep it bird/wildlife friendly. As much fun as it would be to put glitter in it, it would hurt our little outdoor friends.

Now go make some Magical Reindeer Food!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hot Pepper Jelly

We were at our local Farmer's Market about a month ago. There was a woman there selling Hot Pepper Jelly, so of course I sampled it! It was absolutely delicious! Since that day I have often thought about the jelly, talked about the jelly, searched for recipes, etc. Last night I finally got off my bum and made the jelly! I was pretty surprised at how easy it was.

You can use either green or red peppers...or I guess if you wanted to you could use orange, purple or yellow. I have never seen anyone use them, I have only seen green and red. I prefer the red. It's a little sweeter, in my opinion.

Here is the recipe I used:

1/4 c chopped jalapenos
3/4 c chopped sweet peppers
6 c sugar
2 1/2 c cider vinegar
2 3oz pouches of liquid pectin
A few drops of red or green food coloring *optional*

1. Run the jalapenos and sweet peppers in a blender or food processor until they are finely ground. Combine with sugar and vinegar in large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly, then turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.


2. Strain, returning the liquid to the saucepan. Add about 2 tablespoons of pepper mixture from the strainer. (here is where I would have strayed a bit from the recipe, I would have just kept it all in there. I like a little more of the "pieces" in the jelly). Return to a boil. Add pectin and the food coloring if you're using it. Bring back to a boil one more time and boil for 1 minute.


Ladle into freshly sterilized jelly jars with two-part canning lids, leaving 1/8 inch headroom, and seal. Process in boiling-water bath for 10 minutes.

This recipe makes about 6 8oz jars.

Happily it was totally set today at lunch time so we opened a jar, got out the cream cheese, dry salami and crackers and had a snack lunch. Between Chris, Maggie and I, we were pretty happy with the taste. The jelly is a bit sweet, I will add a bit more of the jalapeno ribs/seeds next time for just a tad bit more heat.


Can't wait to serve this at Thanksgiving and see what everyone else thinks!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Mama’s Holiday Wish List Meme

A great giveaway! I'm actually going to join in on this one. I don't normally join in on the giveaways because, well, I never win. But this one is just too good to pass up! Whoever wins this is a lucky, lucky person!

TodaysMama and Provo Craft are giving away a sleighful of gifts this holiday season and to enter I’m sharing this meme with you.

1. What 5 items are on your holiday wish list this year?
D-10 Dehydrator with Stainless Steel Shelves With Timer, Reebok Easytone shoes...in Paprika!, Japanese Cast Iron Tea Pot, Warm, Soft Pj's, Trip to the Spa

2. What is your favorite handmade gift you have received?
Quilt made by my grandmother

3. What handmade gift have you always wanted to tackle?
Knitting, anything!

4. What was the best Christmas gift you received as a child?
My horse, Tubbs. Totally unexpected.

5. What items are on your kid’s wish list this year?
So far anything she has seen on a commercial. Barbie....anything, Dress up clothes

6. What is your favorite holiday food?
Homemade Eggnog, Peppermint Hot Chocolate, Pie, Cake, Stuffing, Cranberry Sauce, Hot Apple Cider.

7. What will you be hand-crafting for the holidays?
Lots of baking going on in our house.

8. What is your favorite holiday movie?
Christmas Vacation

9. Favorite holiday song?
Thats hard, I like them all! Rockin' around the Christmas Tree is a peppy, fun one!

10. Favorite holiday pastime?
Decorating the yard with my husband and daughter

Thank you to Jenafer for joining in on this so the rest of us could see it!

What are you still doing here? Go check it out and enter!! :)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Homemade Hot Cocoa

Every night we play a half hour of board games. Tonight was Chutes and Ladders. As usual we had a blast. Even though this is an older game, can you believe I have never played it? We had a lot of fun. I am so proud of how Maggie is really "getting" playing games. We have tried to play board games before, but taking turns was always a big issue. It seems like something has "clicked" in the last couple of months and we are really enjoying our games at night.

I promised Maggie that we would make some special Hot Cocoa tonight after our game time and of course she didn't forget! This is a new recipe to me. I have an old tried and true one, but can't seem to find it. Although it's a simple recipe, it's been awhile since I have made it. Anyway, here is the recipe we tried tonight. It was pretty good.

•3/4 cup powdered milk
•1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
•3/4 cup sugar
•1/2 cup cocoa powder
•4 ounces bittersweet chocolate

Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Take the bittersweet chocolate and roughly chop it up to give a chunky but consistent size. Mix well with a wooden spoon and then store in a dry airtight container.

To make the hot chocolate, simply add 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of milk per 1/2 cup of hot cocoa mix. Heat in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring with a whisk. Heat until hot, but do not boil, about 6 to 7 minutes.

If the look on her face tells you anything, she enjoyed it!


I did have an absolute "fail" this weekend. I have been craving pumpkin ravioli's for a couple weeks now. I got sick and that pushed it off. Then I have been a little busy and time just hasn't been on my side so I haven't wanted to put the energy into making pasta. Well, I thought the other night when I was watching Giada on Food Network that "my sign" flashed in front of me when she was making ravioli's and said that a "short cut" is to use Won ton Wrappers. She was making them on her show and they looked great. If Giada can do it, why can't I? Right? WRONG! The first thing that was wrong is the Won ton Wrappers are just way too thin. Highly disappointing to this Italian gal. Not at all "ravioli like". The second "fail" was the pumpkin recipe itself. Chris and Maggie were really sweet. They tried (after I told them I would NOT be offended if they didn't like them) to eat them. Maggie took two bites and Chris ate about 3. Pretty bad. I did a lot of work to make the filling. Cooked a pumpkin and everything! Oh well, live and learn right? Every recipe can't be good, can they?

All my hard work was for nothing.


But, we did get these:


They will be turned into a nice tasty treat tomorrow!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Pumpkin Crumble Cake

I absolutely love, love, love this recipe! And better yet, Chris liked it too! He has "texture issues" and pumpkin is a hard one for him. But this was a hit for both of us! Finally, a pumpkin treat we will all enjoy! Trust me, my picture doesn't do it any justice!

Easy Pumpkin Crumble
Recipe by Our Best Bites

1 boxed yellow or white cake mix (I used yellow)
1-2 sticks butter (see notes in instructions)
1 16 oz can pumpkin*
2 eggs
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t pumpkin pie spice
1/4 t ginger
1/8 t cloves
1/8 t nutmeg
1/2 t salt
1/3 C chopped pecans (a certain little person in my house ate all my pecans so I sub'd with walnuts. It was good but pecans would be better)
1/2 t additional cinnamon for topping

*This makes a dessert about an inch thick or less. This makes it a high topping to pumpkin ration. I figured this was best since Chris isn't wild about pumpkin. If you'd like it thicker, use a large can of pumpkin and double the rest of the filling ingredients (Eggs, sweetened condensed milk, and spices). Leave the rest of the recipe the same.

Preheat oven to 350.

Place 2 C of the cake mix in a bowl. Cut in 3 T chilled butter. Just use your fingers to crumble the butter until it's in small crumbly pieces. Place mixture in a 9x13 baking dish and press flat with your fingers.

Mix pumpkin, eggs, sweetened condensed milk, and spices until smooth. Pour on top of the cake mixture in the pan.

Now take the rest of the dry cake mix and mix in 1/2 t cinnamon. Sprinkle it all over the top of the pumpkin mixture. Use a measuring cup so you have a rough measurement of how much you're putting on. Here's why:

Apparently cake mixes all have different amounts of ingredients in them. Different brands, different flavors, etc. Each mix is slightly different in volume. Measuring the amount of cake mix you're sprinkling on top will help you get the perfect topping ratio in the last step. I used a yellow Betty Crocker Super Moist mix. I thought it worked great.

Next sprinkle on the chopped pecans. You'll have 3 distinct layers now:

Here's the trick: For every 1 C of cake mix you sprinkled on top, you'll need 3 T of melted butter. Drizzle it right on top.

That butter is going to combine with the cake mix and make magic in the oven. Pop it in your 350 degree oven for about 40 minutes or so. A knife should come out without globs of pumpkin on it and the topping should be nice and golden.

I had my first piece (yes, I had more than one! I was doing research...checking to see when it was at it's best!) when it first came out of the oven piping hot, room temp or chilled in the fridge.
When I had my second (and last piece for the night!) I put a dollop of Clover Natural Vanilla Bean ice cream on, since I didn't have any whipping cream. Either way it was delicious!

If you like this recipe, please leave a comment here, and maybe pop on over to Our Best Bites to let Sara and Kate know you like their awesome goodie! You will NOT be disappointed by their blog. I am chomping at the bit to make their individual jar pies......


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

He never gives us more than we can handle, right?

Today was my husbands official last day of work. We have known about this since Sept. Chances are it will sell (its been for sale, several people are interested) and he will get his job back. But still, it's a bummer. This job was ideal for us. It was 6 minutes from our house, the hours were perfect, the perks were great and he was just really, really happy working there. I think he is more bummed that he was leaving a job he loved more than the fact he is without a job. He and his manager became quick, close friends. He got a long with everyone there. I hope it sells soon and reopens. It makes my heart happy to send my husband off for 8 hours of our day to a place he is happy at.
On a better note, he does have another job if/when he decides to take it. When the news broke out the resort was closing his old boss called and said he has room for Chris and would love to have him back. I take great comfort in knowing that we have that offer. I feel bad for the 600+ people who worked at the resort that may not have something to fall back on.

Happier news.....my garden is doing great. I can't wait to start eating from it! Soon! Very soon! I took some pictures about a week ago. Excuse the fact that i'm a bit behind on my weeding. Whatever made me sick kicked my butt...but i'm ready now to fight those unwanted garden invaders!

My butter lettuce looks so pretty!

I've never grown Brussels Sprouts before. I am impatiently waiting to see what happens.

Swiss Chard...one of my all time favorites!

I am absolutely loving growing my garden. I have been plotting and planning how, what and where for my Spring garden.

The chicken coop is done! YEAY! The girls started staying out in their palace last week. They LOVE it. And not only do I love it because they do, I love it because we have our master bathroom back! Even though its the 3 of us, I am so spoiled having that second bathroom!

Here are a few shots of the girls on their maiden voyage to the big wooden box in our garage they now call home!

Checking out their new digs!

And, Mary Virginia (or as Maggie calls her Mary Baginia) doing what the girls do every morning the door opens. Runs over to greet whoever is standing there for the game of "here I am, catch me if you can". They really remind me of Kramer on Seinfeld. You know how the door would swing open and he would stumble in. He just had that "look", well the girls have that same look!

I am so thankful we built the coop in the garage. I know we have mountain lions, coyotes, raccoons, etc. But there is one very large Coyote that is showing up more and more. I just feel so much better that our little lovies are safe, inside.

And last, but certainly not least. A picture of Maggie. She worked so hard with her dad to get the coop finished. When it was time to get the chickens she and I got out the pine shaving and she spread them around inside while her dad was collecting our feathered friends. I turned around to grab something, it was less than a minutes time and I hear, "look mama! I'm making snow angels". The deed was done, I let her do it. She had a blast. I had a heck of a mess to clean up!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The icky's, fun pics and a book

It's been 9 days now that I have been sick. I'm not sure what the problem is, but I used to be a "good" sick person. "Good" meaning I wasn't a "high-maintenance" sicky! But something over the years have changed and I've noticed I have become a real pain in the butt when I'm sick! LOL I have a really bad case of PMS (Poor Me Syndrome). Chris is on the tail end of it and Maggie......I am always amazed at how quickly she bounces back from things. She had whatever this is for about 2 days and was done. And she never got it as bad as we did. But that's how she has always been. Knock on wood she can continue to have such a great immune system!
I've been taking my Cod Liver Oil, Acerola, Butter Oil and drinking homemade ginger ale. Fingers crossed it goes away sooner than later!

Because of getting sick the completion of the hen coop has been put on hold. Chris is hoping to get it done (including the electrical) on Monday when he is home.
The chickies had their 5wk birthday on Thursday. I can't believe we have had these little creatures that long already! And even more, I can't believe how BIG they have gotten!

My poor garden is being overtaken with weeds right now. I just don't have the energy to get out there and pull them. Chris has been wonderful to water for me before work in the mornings. Luckily for me I weeded very good right before I got sick, or it would have been worse.

The neighbor brought us a nice round, plump, orange pumpkin last night. I am looking forward to feeling better because I have been craving homemade pumpkin ravioli's! The pumpkin sits on my table....teasing my taste buds! I wonder if I could get a pie out of it too.....hhhmmmm. Can't wait to see!

We don't celebrate Halloween, but Maggie did go to the Harvest Festival last night. Every year Maggie has dressed up as Snow White. Without fail. We can not get her to change if it's to save our lives! The girl gets something stuck in her head and thats it. No changing.....ever!

Here she is last night:

And here she is her first year:

One thing I have been doing since I got sick is reading my new book The Backyard Homestead. I absolutely LOVE it. I really should have been named Backyard Homesteading for Dummies! I don't think it would be much help to someone who has been homesteading, but for a beginner this is like winning the lottery! It covers many subjects, but it doesn't overwhelm you with more than you need to know. If that makes sense.

For the homesteaders out there (if you are still reading!) what's your favorite book?

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Hen Palace

We finally got started on the chicken coop. After many drawings and discussions about what the coop was going to be like we went with the complete opposite of what we were going to do.

Originally the coop was going to sit at the top of my garden area. But we are getting new neighbors and aren't too sure how they will respond to having chickens right next to their bedroom window. So instead I will use that space to make my garden larger this coming Spring which excites me to no end! It's a rather large space and I figure I can do a lot of planting when the time comes!
We decided to move the coop to the opposite side of the house. Our neighbors on that side are awesome, and they are excited about getting fresh eggs so when we asked how they would feel about having the chickie-poopoo's on that side they were not worried about them being there at all.

I am a worrywart by nature when it comes to my pets. And to be completely honest I have been excited about this coop, but so fearful about my beloved girls getting hurt by a predator. We have a lot of mountain lions, coyotes and other creatures around here. In fact, Sunday we were looking out our front window only to see a very large coyote running thru the empty field infront of our house. Of course that made me go outside and take a count of our kitties who reside outside. Everyone was there! YEAY! So while we were outside planning where the coop would sit I started thinking about the predators and already stressing about them being outside. I would keep them in my master bathroom forever if I had to! While measuring and looking around the window in the garage on that side of the house made something click. Why can't we build a coop in the garage with the window being the entrance/exit for them. What a great way to keep them from danger at night when the creatures come out looking for prey! I said something to Chris and *boom* that was it.

Thankfully we have a large garage so it doesn't inconvenience us at all. The coop should be done tomorrow, then the inside will need to be done. It is WAY larger than it needs to be for 6 chickens. I figure it will give us room to grow if we want to. :)

Here is our work in progress!



And the girl having a blast in the coop

Excuse the mess. Those are our holiday decorations which will be stored underneath the coop.

The chicks have been getting treats here and there lately. They have had yogurt, mealworms and fresh greens. They are happy campers! I can't believe they are already 4.5 weeks old!
This has been such a great learning experience for Maggie. She is really into the chickens. She helps feed, water and clean their area. Surprisingly she still pets and holds them. I thought for sure now that they are bigger she would shy away from them, but so far so good. She is really enjoying them. So are her mama and daddy.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Homemade Tropical Muesli

Last night I threw together some homemade muesli for breakfast this morning. I didn't use a recipe, just threw stuff into a container and mixed it up. The main ingredient was Oats. I then cut up walnuts & pecans into halves, coconut, dried pineapple, dried papaya, dried apples, dried strawberries, raisins and cranberries added in wheat germ. The only thing I bought for it when I was out was the papaya and pineapple. I soaked it in milk overnight in the fridge. Couldn't wait until it was time for breakfast. I poured the milk it soaked in along with the muesli into a pan and warmed it up! It was really yummy! Here are some pictures......

cutting up ingredients:

soaking in milk ready to go in fridge for the night:

Cooked.....ready to eat!

My belly is full and content! Try it. It's economical, its nutritious. Use what you already have in your pantry!

If you make it, what do you put in yours?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Monday, Birthday,Cool Weather and Other Stuff

Happy Monday everyone! I don't know what it's like where you are but the weather here is cool, crisp and so clean. We are suppose to get a good rain storm tomorrow and I am SO looking forward to it! I have my fig candles lit, the house smells absolutely delicious. A small fire in the wood stove. This is my kind of day! I feel energized and ready to take on the world!

Today is a special day. Today is Chris' 40th Birthday. I remember back 2 years ago when he relentlessly teased me about turning 40. I have spared him the same in return. I think turning 40 is a wonderful experience. I can honestly say that I have changed and have really started to figure out who I am and what I really want in the last few years. 40 is something to look forward to, not fear! One memory I have of one of my aunts was sitting in her apartment with my parents and she was just beside herself because she was turning 40. I had that in my mind for years and thought 40 was the end of the world. LOL It's not the end.
I just want to quickly say Happy Birthday to my BEST friend. I love you lots!

It's also Thanksgiving in Canada! So Happy Thanksgiving to you all! Have a blessed day!

On today's agenda I am cleaning my pantry, rearranging my pot/pan cupboards, cleaning the dogs crates, working on the chicken coop with Chris,(the cluckers are restless in the master bathroom and need their own space), weed the garden, make some homemade chicken noodle soup and starting my meal planning for the next 2 weeks.
Maggie and I are also making an apple pie for Chris' birthday. Maggie isn't too happy about it. She was bound and determined to make daddy a watermelon cake with lemon juice. And once she gets something in her sweet little head it's near impossible to get it out. Some say she gets that from me. But I deny it. ;)

I've been kickin' around on the 'net searching out for more good blogs to read. I found a few I would like to share with you.

The first I would like to talk about is From Seed to Table
Michelle is a California gardner who has a very inspiring garden. I love all the photographs of not only her garden but of her harvest too! I kinda doubt that my garden will ever be like hers, but it's nice to have such inspiration right at my fingertips!

The second one is The Tie That Binds Us Brenda is a homeschooling mama to 5. I found her by doing a search on chickens. I clicked the link and found the taj mahal of chicken coops. Luckily for Chris I saw the pictures AFTER our coop got started! She has some great downloads too, so go check her out!

The third one I can say I have literally spent HOURS on. I am hoping when she looks at her status of readers and sees how much time I have spent on her blog she doesn't think I'm a stalker! LOL
Rhonda Jean at Down To Earth is who I want to be when I grow up! LOL She and her husband live in Queensland, Australia. She has everything I could ever want to read right on her blog. One stop blogging! Everything from budgeting to gardening to stockpiling to canning to some of the best recipes I have ever read. I copied a bunch of recipes and can't wait to try some of her bread, lemon butter and orange coconut cake. She would be the perfect mother-in-law, aunt, close relative! LOL

Stop by these blogs, I think you will really enjoy them all!

Maggie and I are now going to sit down and enjoy our hot pot of tea!

Have a blessed day!


Friday, October 9, 2009

S-P-E-L-L-I-N-G and Reading

We have a got the spelling and reading bug in our house! I can not tell you how many times a day I hear "Mom, how do I spell _______". And, it's not only limited to the house, it's been a really fun thing while driving. She sees something and wants to know. It's a great way to pass the time while driving from Point A to Point B. Especially since we live a small driving distance to get anywhere around where we live.

I wanted to make sure that not only was she learning how to spell words, but I want her to be able to recognize them when written down. I thought the easiest way to do that was to get 3x5 cards and write a word on each card. Only problem is, the girl can't read yet so that wasn't enough. So on color words I wrote the word in the color it is. Example: RED is written in red. I am not a great drawer, ok, who am I kidding.....I STINK at drawing! But I did my best and tried to draw a picture, for instance, SUN has a sun drawn next to it. I have the cards hanging on the kitchen door. She passes by the door often and sits next to it when at the kitchen table.

So far this really seems to be helping! She is having a blast. We are on our first week of doing this. We have 7 words that we are working on. As she starts to get a word down I will move the card up higher on the door and rotate a new one in.

I am also starting Lesson Pathways K Reading and Phonics. Along with her interest in spelling she is also dying to read. LP has a really great pathway broken down very simply for me to help Maggie. I'm so thankful that rhyming is on the first day. I have had such a difficult time explaining rhyming in a way she gets. She always yells out "hey mom! I rhymed! RED and RED" or something similar. I try to explain it but she hasn't quite grasped it yet. So I hope that the pathway helps me help her!

Anyone have any good suggestions on how you taught your child/ren how to read? I am up for any advice! I really want Maggie to have a love for reading. Anything I can do to help that I am up for!!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

National Down Syndrome Awareness Month!

I've been struggling the last few days on what to write about National Down Syndrome Awareness Month. Down Syndrome is something very near and dear to my heart. I was blessed on August 31, 1989 with my daughter, Shawna Nicole. She was born with Down Syndrome. Shawna taught me things I never would have learned without her in my life. Because of her and who she was I would not be the person I am today. She was the absolute joy of my life. Sadly she passed away on August 26, 1991.

What I want people to know is, don't be afraid of Down Syndrome. It is not a death sentence. Having it doesn't mean you will live a dreadful life. People who have Down Syndrome are just like you and me. They go to school, they work, they play sports, they participate in making decisions about their lives, they get married, the list goes on. Life with someone who has Down Syndrome is really pretty "normal". There is nothing unique, strange or sad. Life changes, but doesn't that happen anyway?

Please click the button below :)

30 minute Mozzarella recipe!

Admittedly, I have not yet tried this. I just found the recipe in ­ Grit Magazine (if you are a homesteader, this is a must see!) and I am so excited I can't hardly contain myself. Mozzarella is my absolute favorite cheese, so this recipe will prove to either be a blessing or a curse once I start making it! LOL Anyhoo.....I am going to try to make this either this week or next week, depending on how my time management goes. If you make it before me, let me know how it is! I can not wait!!! :)

30-Minute Mozzarella

1 gallon milk (whole, 2 percent or skim)
1 1/2 teaspoons powdered citric acid dissolved in 1/4 cup cool water
1/4 teaspoon liquid rennet diluted in 1/4 cup cool water (if using rennet tablets, follow conversion instructions on the package)
1 to 2 teaspoons cheese salt

In stainless steel pot, slowly heat milk to 55ºF. While stirring, slowly add citric acid solution and mix thoroughly but gently.

Heat milk to 88ºF over medium-low heat. It will begin to thicken like yogurt.

Gently stir in diluted rennet for 30 seconds. Then don’t disturb the milk while you let it heat to between 100 and 105ºF. In about 5 to 8 minutes, curds should begin to break up and pull away from sides of pot. Turn off heat.

Curds will look like thick yogurt and become a bit shiny, and whey will be clear. If whey is still milky white, wait a few more minutes before turning off heat. Scoop out curds with slotted spoon and put in bowl. Reserve whey. Press curds gently with your hands, squeezing out as much whey as possible.
Heat reserved whey to 175ºF. Shape curds into several small balls, rolling them between your palms. Put them, one at a time, into ladle and dip them in hot whey for several seconds. Remove from whey and gently fold cheese over and over (as in kneading bread) with spoon or your hand. (You’ll want to don rubber gloves at this point, as the cheese will be extremely hot.) This distributes the heat evenly throughout the cheese, which will not stretch until it is too hot to touch (145ºF inside the curd).

Repeat this process several times until curd is smooth and pliable; mix in salt after second time. When cheese stretches like taffy, it’s done. If curds break instead of stretch, they are too cool and need to be reheated.

When cheese is smooth and shiny, roll it into balls and eat while warm. Although best eaten fresh, it can be stored in the refrigerator for a week or so. Yields about 1 pound.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Reader's Digest version of our week

Autumn has finally made it's presence here in Northern California. YEAY! I am so excited about the changing weather. There is something about Fall that brings out a different side of me. Almost like a kid again. This is my favorite season. It's also when I feel more inspired "school" wise. I have lots of fun activities that I have been thinking about, hopefully we find the time to do them!

This week started out on a sad note. One of our feral kitties, Licorice got hit by a car and is no longer with us. :( Even though these kittens are feral they hang out at our door, look in thru the screen, sit and talk to us. They want to trust us, but they are just a bit too scared. We got to know and love Licorice even though we never got to touch him. RIP Licorice.

Maggie and I did some weeding and tending to the garden this week. Not a lot to report yet. Everything is growing pretty good. One of my onions is questionable, but I am hoping it turns out ok. I think I may have a slug going after my broccoli. I asked about natural slug repellents on The Gardening Nook on THL. I got lots of great tips. I really liked the suggestion of putting beer in a small lid, slugs are attracted to yeast and go to get it and never come out. I am concerned about the kittens drinking it. So I think I am going to try the ground up eggshells and dried coffee grounds. I am looking forward to planting potatoes and garlic hopefully this week!

Maggie and I are working diligently on our Autumn Nature Table. I put up the table, washed the table cloth and runner. Got out the little scarecrow. Today we will go hunt the neighborhood for signs of fall. I will post pictures of the table when we are ready! :)
Yesterday we had a birthday party to go to. Maggie had a blast. Our neighbors son turned 9. His sister and Maggie are good friends, so of course the girls took off in one direction while the boys ran in the other.

The Chickies are growing like little weeds! I am shocked at how quickly they change! They sprouted their tail feathers, their wings are much longer and they are getting taller! They are just a week and a few days old. We are just in love with them. I tried to convince Chris to let me name the last two Ellen DeHENeres and Meryl Peep but he isn't having it. So they are still nameless. Who would have thought naming chickens would be so hard! I took this picture on Wed, I thought it was so cute. I wish all 6 would have gotten in the picture. Little fluffy chicken butts!

Well, since I started the post off in a sad manner, I thought I would post something sweet towards the end. Coraline (Licorice's mama) had another litter of babies! I was working in the garden on Friday and noticed Coraline sitting a long the fence by the woodpile basking in the sunshine. I always make it a point to walk to her when I see her and talk to her and pet her. Well, I got closer and what did I see? 4 fluffy little balls of cuteness! They looked to be about 4-5 weeks old. One was already hissing at me. So I thought I better get a hold of them now because in another week I may not be able to. I then started to panic about where I was going to put them. The chickens are in my master bathroom. Can't put the kittens there. My dogs are crated in the garage and could NEVER tolerate kittens meowing. I already have 3 indoor cats that would NOT be pleased with Coraline and her crew invading their space. The shed is full of firewood. Then my "partner in cat crime" happened to drive by. She has a very large home with several garages. She packed up Coraline and kiddies and took them with her. They are now sleeping in one of her garages (which is about the size of my house!), nice and warm. Maggie was REALLY missing Coraline yesterday morning because usually she helps feed her in the mornings and we spend time giving her love. So we went last night for a visit. Maggie was so happy to see everyone safe and warm. I took a couple pictures of the little cuties while they were here. There is one that is pretty pudgy and ends up on it's back all the time. I just love it. I wish I could keep it, but with 3 indoor cats and 3 outside kittens already, I just can't.


Needless to say, these will be Coraline's last litter. She will be getting spayed as soon as the vet says it's ok!

Again, please people. If you have animals that go outside, please, please, please spay or neuter them. As cute as these little creatures are it isn't fair to keep the unhomed population going.

This morning I threw together some apple cider in the crock pot...smells SO yummy! I made Maggie and I some homemade cinnamon rolls. My house has never smelled so good! I am baking some artisan bread right now and am going to make some Butternut Squash soup for dinner. I have had this butternut squash for a week now, it's been begging me to make soup out of it!

I hope everyone had a great week and that your weekend is going well!

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Chickadee's!

I can not believe how quickly these gals are growing! We just got them on Friday and they looked so tiny and seemed so helpless. A few days have gone by and their wings are showing now, they are taller and boy are they NOSY! I knew chickens were nosy, but I didn't think it would happen so soon!

I'm definitely starting to see personalities too.

*Dora, Maggie's chick is the adventurous one. She is the most daring. Jumping to get out of the box they are in. She doesn't quite make it yet, but I would bet in two or three days she will.

*Ruby & Scarlett are a team. Always together. Scarlett is the leader between the two of them. The twins. They are both Rhode Island Red's.

*Mary Virginia is the other Barred Rock (the same as Dora), she is quiet. Sits back and lets the others go first. Always wants to be in the middle of the pile when they are huddling.

That leaves the two unnamed ones. The Ameraucana's. They look like a cross between baby owls and baby turkeys. The biggest one is Chris'. I think it's going to be between her and Scarlett for "leader of the henhouse". Chris has mentioned the name Prudence, but he isn't sure yet. I think he is waiting to see her personality.
For some reason these two are harder to name. They are like Ruby and Scarlett. Always together. If you take one from the box the other starts squaking looking for her sister.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Artisan bread in 5 minutes? Really?

YES! Really! I am so excited about this recipe. I was surfing around on THL a couple nights ago and saw a few references about a recipe for 5 Minute Artisan Bread. So that lead me to looking around on the net to see what I could find. Well, it wasn't hard to find. I was so happy to find the recipe and see exactly how easy it is!

I am in love with this recipe! No kneading, just a few ingredients and a quick cook time and BOOM! you have some awesome tasting bread! I have to admit that I ended up making to loaves. The first one I made for dinner. Maggie and I sat and smelled it for about 20 minutes and we couldn't help ourselves. We ate it. The whole thing! To our defense it was a SMALL loaf! LOL The second loaf turned out as good as the first.

Here is a pic of the dough. It had set for 2 hours

I misunderstood the directions that I read and put a ton of cornmeal under and around the loaf. Luckily I removed it prior to baking! What a stinky mess that would have been!

And the masterpiece! Loaf #1

Here is a shot of the inside. A little loaf of heaven!

If you are interested in the recipe, here it is!

5 Minute Artisan Bread

Adapted from “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day,” by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François (Thomas Dunne Books, 2007)

1 1/2 tablespoons yeast

1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt

6 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, more for dusting dough


1. In a large bowl or plastic container, mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees). Stir in flour, mixing until there are no dry patches. Dough will be quite loose. Cover, but not with an airtight lid. Let dough rise at room temperature 2 hours (or up to 5 hours).

2. Bake at this point or refrigerate, covered, for as long as two weeks. When ready to bake, sprinkle a little flour on dough and cut off a grapefruit-size piece with serrated knife. Turn dough in hands to lightly stretch surface, creating a rounded top and a lumpy bottom. Put dough on pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal; let rest 40 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it.

3. Place broiler pan on bottom of oven. Place baking stone on middle rack and turn oven to 450 degrees; heat stone at that temperature for 20 minutes.

4. Dust dough with flour, slash top with serrated or very sharp knife three times. Slide onto stone. Pour one cup hot water into broiler pan and shut oven quickly to trap steam. Bake until well browned, about 30 minutes. Cool completely.

Yield: 4 loaves.

I have a few baking stones, but since we moved I can't find them. I just used a regular baking sheet, upside down. It was very easy to get off with a spatula. So if you don't have a baking stone, or a pizza peel, etc., this bread is still very easy to make and handle without it.
If you try this recipe, let me know! I want to know how others like it. We absolutely love it. I like it so much I think I am going to order their book!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Our little urban homestead!

This past week has been so busy for us! Good busy! We have had so many learning opportunities and so much fun!

For starters, on Monday we started our winter garden. We planted carrots, lettuce, onions, leeks, swiss chard, brussel sprouts and radish. When we moved in here there was already a bunch of raised boxes so we just had to dig up the dirt, add more fresh dirt, chicken manure and some minerals to the boxes. We have more planting to do. We want to add garlic and potatoes. Now, we could have went hog wild and planted a lot more than we did, but we have so many critters around here and unsure of the dirt, so we are testing the waters right now. If these crops do well, well, next planting season will be crazy fun!
I will have to post pictures on that later. I don't think I have taken any yet!

And, the newest and most fun is.......we bought 6 baby chickens! That means fresh eggs in a few months. I can not wait! These little perfect fuzzy creatures are so incredibly cute! We got 2 Rhode Island Reds, 2 Ameraucana and 2 Barred Rocks. I can't tell you the conversation topics that have come since bringing our newest family members home. From "what do chickens wear" to "do chickens wear jewlrey" to "how were the chickens made".

Maggie one chick of her very own. She named it Dora. We have one RIR that we named Mary Virginia. The others are waiting for names. If anyone has any suggestions, please, let us know! And no, we will not be naming them shake or bake. Or Kung Pau or Marsala. LOL

Here are our new babies!


I plan on getting individual pictures soon! They are so stinkin' cute!

We are also building a chicken coop, so there will soon be pictures of that process too! Maggie wants to paint it pink. She is having a hard time convincing her daddy of that. I don't really want a pink henhouse, but I have a feeling it just might end up pink!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Shiver me timbers, pirate day be upon us!!!

What a fun day! International Talk Like A Pirate Day started in 1995 as a joke between two friends, John Baur (Ol' Chumbucket) and Mark Summers, (Cap'n Slappy), of Albany, Oregon. What started out as a joke between two friends became a fun day for everyone!

So to "celebrate" ITLAPD we are going to watch The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything.

And, just for fun I changed my language on Facebook to Pirate :)

Have a fun day!


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