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!


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