Sunday, September 18, 2011

My little beekeeper

Last night Chris and Maggie wanted to check in on the bees.  So they got suited up!

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Maggie is smoking the bees…….

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Taking a look inside

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Lot’s of interesting things going on in the hive

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Look at all the bees working hard!  Making and storing honey for the winter….can’t wait until we get to eat some more!

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I love that Maggie loves to help her daddy with the bees. 

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Growing Up

    Today is Maggie’s first day of school.  First grade.  It’s amazing how time flies by so quickly.
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   She sure has grown and makes me proud every single day. 
Homesteading August 2011 004I feel so blessed to be her mama.                                                                                                                                            
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I love this kid!
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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Homegrown Chamomile

Homesteading August 2011 003I love chamomile tea! So much so that growing chamomile was on the top of my priority list of things to grown!  We got a late start getting it as the nursery didn’t have any until a few weeks after I inquired about it.  So thankful they went the extra mile and got some in!

I went out a few weeks ago and picked a bunch of it. Dried it and put it away for my winter stash.  Unfortunately, Maggie woke up this morning with a headache and just feeling kinda poopy, so she asked for her pillow, her Winnie The Pooh movie and a cup of chamomile tea.  I gladly obliged! 

Maggie perked up after she thought about the tea and said, “hey mom!  The flowers we grew made the tea and our bees made the honey!  That’s why this tastes so good!” 

So even though I was bummed the first of my winter stash was gone, I was so happy to provide something that I made, something I grew to make my baby feel better!

The flowers you see in the picture above were picked earlier this week and are in the process of drying now.  Looking forward to harvesting a lot more to get us through the winter!

Friday, August 12, 2011

On My Mind…..

This is a Friday photo feature that anyone with a blog can join. It opens the door to us sharing our lives through these photos and gives us all a new way to discover each other, and maybe form new friendships. Your photo should show something at home that you're thinking about TODAY.
To take part, all you have to do is post a photo on your own blog, write a short caption explaining it, and link it back to DOWN---TO---EARTH. Please write a new post, don't link to an older one. When your photo is published, go back and add at DOWN----TO---EARTH, with a link to your blog photo so we can all find you. Please visit all the blogs that appeal to you and leave a comment. Slow down, take the time to cruise around and enjoy your cyber visits.
Thank you Rhonda Jean for another On My Mind!
Homesteading August 2011 004 I was watching Maggie pick strawberries out of the garden.  She sat down on a rock and was enjoying her harvest.  It made me think about how wonderful Summer has been.  Every evening we go down to the garden as a family, water the garden, harvest veggies, check feed/water for the chickens and goats, enjoy seeing the bees come back to their boxes or hang out in the yard and then we have a sit in our chairs enjoying our surroundings. 

I was happy.
And then it made me realize how soon this will be over.  School starts in a few short weeks.  After that the weather starts to turn and Fall will be here before we know it.  Now, Fall is my favorite time of year so I am not dreading it at all.  But what I am dreading is the carefree moments that we have enjoyed as a family.  No routines to follow, no rules, no certain bedtime, just enjoying each minute as they come.
This has been a great Summer!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Hey friends! Help me win this cookbook….please!!!

So, I found this cookbook that I just GOTTA have!  The Food Lovers Make it Paleo—200 grain-free recipes for any occasion.  I really, really want it!  All you have to do is CLICK THIS LINK.  Yup, that’s it.  Just click on it, it will take you to their site.  That’s all.  Of course you could take a look around and check out their site while you are there.  :)

Did I mention how much I want this cookbook? 

And you know, you too could try to win!  Check it out, you may want to enter!  I would post a picture, but my darn computer is running SLOW tonight.  I will try to get a picture of the book up tomorrow.


Thanks for helping me, friends!



Monday, August 8, 2011

Preparing Summer Squash for the freezer!

The whole reason (well, honestly, one reason) I wanted to do a garden was so that we could have lot’s of healthy, homegrown veggies for the freezer.  Nothing like making soups and stews and other foods from your summer garden during the Fall and Winter months.

We have had our fill of summer squash, so I decided I better get some processed before it went bad.  We have 2 crookneck squash and 2 goldbar squash that are really pumping out the produce!  My zucchini on the other hand…..well, I'm slightly disappointed.  I hope to have better luck next year!

When doing this process it’s easiest to do batches.  And use just picked produce.  What I have showing in this picture made 9 different batches.  Had I had more fresh squash available I would have done more.  I will be doing this again soon!

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First thing I did was wash everything off.  No dirt left on it. 

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Then I sliced it up into about 1/2 inch slices. 

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It then went into a boiling pot of water.  I blanched it for 3 minutes.  The reason I blanch it is because all vegetables and fruit have enzymes and bacteria that in time will break down.  It will destroy the nutrients, color, flavor and texture while being frozen.  Blanching squash destroys the enzymes. 
Cover your pot while blanching. 

Now here is where I got busy and forgot to take pictures!  Once your 3 minutes of blanching is over, remove your squash with a slotted spoon and place it in a bowl of ice water.  The ice water stops the squash from cooking more.  Leave it in for about 5 minutes or until cold.  After doing this with 2-3 batches of squash I had to dump out some water from the bowl and add more ice.

Same with the boiling water.  After about 3 batches I needed to add more warm water.

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Once the squash was done with it’s ice bath, I removed it from the ice bowl to a smaller bowl that had a strainer over it.  This way the water could leak out and it wouldn’t be so wet when I went to place it in baggies. 

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This is when I wish I had a vacuum sealer!  Someday.  But for now I just bagged up 1-3 squash, enough for a soup or something in individual baggies, then put 4-5 of those bags into a freezer bag.  And, because I'm cheap I like to put a paper label in with the name, date processed and date of “expiration” on it.  I say “expiration” because depending on how it’s frozen it can stay good for 5-14 months.  It doesn’t go bad, it will just start to lose some of it’s taste.

It was very easy and a pretty clean project.  So much easier than canning!


Saturday, August 6, 2011

They are named!



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Gypsy Bell’s Meadow Jewel. 
We needed a “fancy” name for her registration papers.

We will call her Meadow.

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Figaro.  Also known as “Figgy”.  I love coming down the hill singing “Figaro, Figaro, Figaro”  and Maggie is loving singing “Gettin’ Figgy wit it.”  The name fits him to a “t”.

We are enjoying Figgy and Meadow and their mama Gypsy more than we could have imagined!

Friday, August 5, 2011

On My Mind……


This is a Friday photo feature that anyone with a blog can join. It opens the door to us sharing our lives through these photos and gives us all a new way to discover each other, and maybe form new friendships. Your photo should show something at home that you're thinking about TODAY.

To take part, all you have to do is post a photo on your own blog, write a short caption explaining it, and link it back to down---to---earth. Please write a new post, don't link to an older one. When your photo is published, go back and add at down---to---earth, with a link to your blog photo so we can all find you. Please visit all the blogs that appeal to you and leave a comment. Slow down, take the time to cruise around and enjoy your cyber visits.
Thank you Rhonda Jean for another On My Mind!

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This is a sunflower that Maggie started at school during a gardening project.  We brought it home as a little pole with a few small leaves on it.  It has grown and just opened up a few days ago!  Our sweet honey bees have found it.  If you look closely, you can see two of them!  What’s On My Mind is the lovely honey they will supply us with next Spring/Summer!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Chickpea Frittata

Yes folks, another recipe!  I have been doing a bit more baking/cooking again.  I get in those moods where I want to do all the cooking.  I don’t get to do much cooking because Chris enjoys it so much.  He doesn’t like baking, so I score there every time!  It is nice to make dinner for your family, sit at the table and enjoy. 

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I was surfing the internet and happened upon an interesting recipe, which you can find here on My Recession Kitchen.  The picture grabbed me and the simplicity of the recipe nailed it.  I had to try it.  So we asked our friends, James and Laura over for dinner and we sat down at the table outside for a surprise dinner.  I am happy to say that we all loved it.  And it was so filling! 

I added in mushrooms, onion, summer squash, broccoli, carrots and rosemary. 

I assumed it was going to be good, so I made a double recipe and have the second in the freezer for another night.  One thing that I will do different next time is, put the veggies on top of the frittata like the picture on My Recession Kitchen.  It was super yummy how I had it, but the veggies made it a bit softer.  I think if they had not been put in the frittata would have had a baked cornmeal consistency.  But it was still an awesome, healthy dish! 

Laura made some yummy, quick pickled cucumbers (from our garden) and some yummy green beans with lots of garlic and almonds.  What a nice dinner.  So many healthy vegetables!

If you are looking for a little something different, mild tasting and a major comfort food, this is it!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Meet Gypsy and her family!

They arrived at our house this morning about 10:00.  I was so excited I couldn’t hardly sit still while waiting for them.  I kept looking out the window, pacing back and forth,  they weren’t getting here fast enough.  I woke up at 2am, again at 4 and then was finally up and out of bed at 7.  It was a long morning!  lol

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They are Nigerian Dwarf goats.

Mama is 2 years old.  Babies will be 3 months in a few days.  They are gorgeous and sweet!  Mama is barely taller than my knee caps!  We are in absolute love.  Gypsy is so relaxed and gentle, and has a major cookie habit!

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Little piggies babies and their mama!

Homesteading August 2011 020 Baby Girl.  She was named Jewels by her previous owner.  And is a strong possibility that she will keep it.  But other possible names we like are Meadow, Willow and Autumn.  We are just waiting a few days to see “who” she is before committing.

Homesteading August 2011 018 Baby Boy.  Oh boy!  This guy is a spitfire!  We are trying to find something that really captures his personality.  His name now is Romeo, but I had a family member I wasn’t too keen on by that name, so it has to go.  No idea yet what it will be.  Has to be something that screams “personality” though.  Chris’ suggestion was King Jack of Assville.  Which is very, very fitting, but then that would make our farm “Assville” and I’m not sure I want that!  lol

Homesteading August 2011 021 Big Mama—Gypsy.  She is already snuggling up to me.  I have found her sweet spot on her neck.  That made me A-OK in her book!

Homesteading August 2011 043 Playing on top of their new house

Who would think goats could bring so much pleasure!

And Pam, the woman we bought them from is an amazing woman.  Our family has so much in common with her.  I am glad that this has brought us a new, amazing friend!  We are looking forward to getting to know her better!

I have wanted Nigerian Dwarf goats for.ever!  So today feels like Christmas, Birthday and every other holiday rolled into one!

Today was a good day!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Yummy Zucchini Cake!

Since we finally started getting zucchini’s, I have been dying to make some zucchini bread.  Maggie has never tasted it (that I can remember) and Chris doesn’t like it.  So I knew once I made it I would have to freeze one bread and eat the other sparingly! 

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Well, I ended up only getting one piece of the first loaf and the one who refused to eat it (Maggie) ended up eating 2 pieces and then ripping off a big hunk when I wasn’t looking.  And the one that doesn’t like zucchini bread (Chris) at his fair share too! 

I have to admit, it was pretty tasty.  They will be bummed to find out that I froze the second loaf!  :)

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How did I make this tasty bread you ask?  I used the recipe from as my base and changed it to our liking.  Here is what I came up with!

2 cups shredded raw organic zucchini
1 3/4 c organic coconut palm sugar
2 cups of flour (I used 1 white, 1 wheat)
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 farm fresh eggs
1 cup coconut oil
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup organic dark chocolate chips

Put zucchini in strainer and press or squeeze with hands to get some of the excess liquid outs.  In a mixing bowl beat together eggs, sugar and oil together.  Stir in the flour, baking powder, soda, cinnamon, salt, vanilla, walnuts and choc. chips, mixing just until all the ingredients are combined.  Add drained zucchini.  Mix well.  Pour into 2 greased and floured 8.5 x 4.5 inch loaf pans.  Bake for about 55-60 minutes at 350, until wooden toothpick or cake tester inserted in center comes out with very little or no crumbs clinging to it.

The coconut oil was really nice, but had I had applesauce in the house I would have used that instead.  A little cheaper to use!

This turned out really tasty and moist.  And for two people who were kinda “poo-poo” about it to begin with, it was a big hit!  There is one piece left of the first loaf, and Maggie claimed it as breakfast! 

So thankful to our garden for supplying us with yummy veggies and to our chickens for giving us eggs!  There certainly is something a bit more fun about eating something you have baked from something you have grown/raised!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Tales from the Coop-keeper

Chickens.  Seriously one of the best.pets.evah!  I never thought of chickens of pets, until I had my own.  Actually, I thought of them as a food source, whether it was for eggs or meat.  I never knew of their quirky, silly sense of humor, and never would have guessed they had a sense of humor.
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Our rooster, Ellen DeHENeres is such a sweet little soul.  I love watching him with the girls.  He is so polite and gentle.  One thing that he does that melts my heart is, when we bring down treats, he let’s the girls go first.  When they are done, he joins in.  What a little gentleman!  Another cool thing about Ellen is, he will let Chris cradle him upside down like a baby and rub his belly.  We have had hens before, but never a rooster.  Admittedly, I am a little intimidated by him, even though he is so sweet.  I’m workin’ on it!
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I fully admit that I am a little bit of a crazy-chicken lady.  I don’t have a problem saying so.  I spoil our flock.  I spoil them rotten.  But they give us so much, it’s my only way to give back.  Every morning I make them a fresh salad of some sort.  This morning they had kale, fresh basil, fresh cilantro, summer squash, blueberries, watermelon, flax seeds, chili pepper and garlic.  (see Ellen hanging in the back,  patiently waiting?)  At night they usually get the left over veggie/fruit fixin’s from dinner and snacks from the day, and the stuff I pull out from the garden.
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Another thing I do is make them homemade iced tea on these blistering hot days.  Sometimes mint, some times alfalfa, sometimes a combo of whatever herbs I have an over abundance of in the garden.  I have found that the iced tea would be considered chicken crack for my feathered friends.  They see it coming and they start squawking and flapping their wings running toward me.  I am pretty much known to them as “the treat lady”.
Last night I cleaned out their coop, which is something I do pretty often.  With 11 chickens living in there, it’s important to keep their living spaces in tip top shape!  My favorite thing to do is leave fresh cut herbs in their nesting boxes.  Kind of like getting a mint on your pillow at a nice Inn.  Don’t you just love the little surprises?  I think my girls and roo do too!  I mean, who wouldn’t want to come in and see this-fresh oregano, english thyme, rosemary, basil, lemon balm and chamomile.  Smelled like heaven in there!
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I am hoping to get in and paint their boxes soon.  After all, if they look nice, they will want to use them, right?  We now have 3 hens laying!  I am so excited!  We have one more who is super close.  We will need to wait about another 5-6 weeks before the other 6 start giving us eggs.  I can not wait!
Homestead July 2011 045Miss Rosa is the “leader of the pack”.  She is also the one who will follow you around, (she is such a nosey hen) and just talk to you.  She also laid her very first egg last night!
Oh!  If you are wondering about the tea and why I use fresh cut herbs in the nesting boxes and their coop, take a look at this article from Backyard Poultry.
If you don’t have chickens, consider them.  They are easy to care for, they are fun, it’s a great learning experience and they will not only provide you with constant entertainment, but food as well! 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Onion Extravaganza

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Sunday afternoon while Chris was fixing the goat pen I harvested our onions.  I had a couple that I had to toss out, but I am pretty impressed with what we got.  I did think they would be a bit bigger, but I'm not complaining!

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  I love, love, love onions!  We already harvested a few a week or so ago and they were wonderful.  I’m sure these will be just as good!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Goaties = T-r-o-u-b-l-e!

The goaties got in their first real trouble yesterday.  Chris had gone down late afternoon to check on everyone and found Bluebelle and Clover on the other side of their pen eating figs.  They had that “busted” look about them and knew they were in trouble.  So we had some work to do.  A little rearranging, hopefully they don’t escape again.



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                    We really like Bluebelle and Clover, but we are contemplating on not keeping them.  Kind of breaks my heart because I am already attached, and I know Maggie will be heartbroken.  But we are noticing they are very skittish, not very welcoming (not mean, just offish) and our intentions are to milk them.  We can’t even just walk up to pet them, how on earth are we going to milk them?  So, we have some heavy thinking to do.  I think we would prefer to get babies and raise them ourselves so they know us and trust us.  Right now I don’t let Maggie in the pen with them.  Which is a problem.  She needs to go in and help.  But I am not comfortable with it.Homestead July 2011 024     I think for an experienced person, they would be great.  But for noobs like us, it’s not a win-win.  And I want these girls to have a good life!   We are still thinking it out.   Not an easy decision.  <sigh>                                                   

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Worth the wait….or so I'm told!



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As you may remember from my post the other day we had a sweet cherry tomato turning red on the vine.  I’ve checked it while watering, tempted to pick it, but waited.  Waiting by the way is not one of my strong points!  But I held back and did the right thing.  Thinking about how yummy that first little red pop of goodness was going to be!

    I needed to go down to the garden to gather some herbs to make the chickens some tea and low and behold that tomato looked ready! 


Well, Maggie was with me, so who do you think got to pick it and eat it.  Yes!  The girl.  And she made sure to tell me how juicy and sweet it was.  I will get the next one! 

Friday, July 15, 2011

On My Mind……..

This is a Friday photo feature that anyone with a blog can join.   Your photo should show something at home that you’re thinking about TODAY.

   To take part, all you have to do is post a photo on your own blog, write a short caption explaining it and post a link back to down--to—earth.  Please write a new post, don’t use an older one.  When your photo is published, go back to down--to—earth add a comment with a link to your blog photo so others can come visit you.  Please visit other blogs and leave comments, get to know your fellow bloggers!                               Homestead July 2011 001

On my mind is our sweet teeny, tiny egg our sweet Strawberry Shortcake gave us.   We have been anxiously awaiting it’s arrival! 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

What Holistic Beekeeping Looks Like.......

On Tuesday night, Chris, Maggie, our friend Darla and myself went to a holistic beekeeping meeting.  What an eye-opening evening!  We have two beehives and we want to take care of our bees in a more natural way.  We scour the internet, and we find things, but when you can find actual people to learn from, especially so close to you, you jump at the opportunity! 

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The above picture is actually of a swarm the woman holding the meeting went and rescued.  It was inside this log, so she transported the log home and there they have stayed!
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This picture is of some of the bee-friendly flowers she has planted.  At the left you can see a pretty glass bowl filled with water (they need fresh water!) and lava rocks.  The bees love the little holes on the lava rocks.

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A wine barrel hive

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           And another.  This one has sugar snap peas starting to grow over it

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Since I am so new to beekeeping  I am going to refrain from talking about holistic beekeeping and refer you to a couple of sites I was given last night.  The Melissa Garden and Gaia Bees.  I think you will find both of these sites very informative.  Hopefully  my pictures have inspired you to take a look and see the difference!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

California Raw Milk Petition......

Today the CDFA California Department of Food And Agriculture is using broadly written regulations to put your local goat and cow share farms out of business. CDFA code 35011 and 35283 says that

"Dealing in, receiving, manufacturing, freezing, or processing milk, or any product of milk." 
is illegal without a California Dairy License.

If you are opposed to making herd shares illegal and want to help CA residents continue to enjoy the health benefits of raw milk, even if you don't live in CA, please sign!  Help us keep our rights to drink raw milk!

Is it me or is this crazy that we are having to fight for the rights to have gardens in our front yard and to drink whatever milk we want?  

Have to brag about what I won!

I know, I know, I know.....nobody likes a braggart.  But this brag isn't a "neener, neener, neener, look what I won" kind of a brag.  It's a "hey, check this out!  I won something really sweet and want to share with you" kind of brag!  

I love aprons.  There is something about them that just makes my heart happy when I see one, when I wear one.  I am loving that I see so many on movies and TV shows now too!  It's an apron revolution!    So when I got the opportunity to join in on a contest on Fresh Eggs Daily on Facebook I jumped in.  Hardcore.  I was in it to win it!  I didn't think I would though because I am on dial up.  It can take forever for a page to refresh.  I already knew I wasn't going to win because, well, I have joined in to win things millions of times and haven't.  Well, that's not exactly true.  Once I went to a breakfast put on by a local radio station that I used to listen to.  Somehow I ended up winning the book So That's What They're For, which at the time I had no use for, what-so-ever.  But I did win, so I technically can't really say I never win anything. like a pitbull in a cage fight I went in, fingers tapping the keyboard wildly, a couple answers I didn't know so I was trying to google them, luckily Chris and Maggie weren't here to witness the crazed look in my eyes.  They would have thought I lost my mind.  I have to admit, the thought did cross my mind.

Well, guess what!  I won!  I really won!  I was so excited I couldn't contain myself.  I know, it was an apron not a million dollars.  But it sure felt like a million dollars.  This apron is so darned cute!  Lisa has put her sewing skills to good use.  I love the little pockets (5 of them), perfect for egg gathering!  I was able to get 2 large eggs in each pocket.  Can't wait til my girls start laying!  My picture doesn't do it justice.  Make sure you click on her Etsy Shop link at the bottom of this post for a better picture!

When I opened the package Maggie was excited, we had a little discussion about who it belonged to.  It seems whenever I get something cool she ends up with it.  But not this!

I would encourage those who are reading to check out Lisa's Etsy Shop, Fresh Eggs Daily, there are some really cute aprons and other things on there!  I love her chicken coop plans.  You wont be disappointed!!  So go check her out!  

Just wanted to say a big THANK YOU to Lisa for doing the contest and having such a wonderful prize!  It went to a very grateful home and will get a lot of use!  :)


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