Wednesday, October 30, 2013


You know who loves Halloween?


Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 24, 2013


The house smells like pumpkin! I've been puttin' by extra produce for the coming winter. Organic sugar pumpkins were $0.99 a lb at the grocery store, so I picked up four. We also had our first hard frost this week, so all of the extra peppers, tomatoes, and herbs from the garden got brought inside. We've been slowly chopping and freezing the extra peppers. I'm getting ready to can green tomato mince meat tomorrow.  Here are some pictures from around the house and yard. 

Pumpkin ready for the deep freezer.

Hot peppers dehydrating

The strawberries decided it was a good time to bloom and fruit. 

Some late flowers for bees and butterflies

Our new cold frame. Closer to the house where Sirius can't sit on and break it.

Kale, chard, and lettuce greens

Free ranging

Cleaning up any bugs and leftovers in the garden.

Hollyhock that survived the frost.

Also, I just updated my post on crockpot oatmeal!

Sunday, September 15, 2013


We have another new addition. Our little girl was born at the end of July! We are so happy to have her with us. She's 6 weeks old now and starting to play games. She smiles at us, and we just can't get enough of her.

Last weekend the three of us went to a local food exchange. Think farmer's market but without money.  Everyone brings homemade or home grown foods or household items and we have a silent auction of sorts. Each item has a slip of paper and you write down what you're willing to trade for it. We went with 5 small, hot peppers, 14 cloves of garlic, and 18 eggs.  We came home with a gallon bag of apples, 12 ounces of honey, a large, white acorn squash, a large pie pumpkin, 4 small onions, and two containers of tomatoes, including a special variety of cherry tomatoes that are specially for drying. Since I have a little one this "fall" I'm not doing any canning, but I have been dehydrating the few tomatoes our garden has gifted us with this year. 

The apples were a tart variety, more for baking with than eating fresh, but I had a hankering for applesauce this week. I started out by putting my babe in the ring sling.  Yep, I'm one of those moms.  I'm also one of these and one of these moms.

I chopped the apples into about 1 inch chunks, and removed the cores. I could have peeled them first, but, "Ain't nobody got time for that!"

Forgive these pictures. My camera must have turned on inside the diaper bag because the battery was dead and I had to take some of them with my phone. 

When they were all chopped up, I threw them in a pot with a knobby end of a stick of butter (about 1 tablespoon) and a cinnamon stick. You could also use 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon if you don't have a stick. 

I let them simmer on medium heat until they released their juices were all nice and mushy. About 20 minutes. 

Tangent: If you throw in some sugar in the beginning and only cook them for about 10 minutes, you've got a shortcut to the filling for an apple pie that won't have to bake as long in the oven. 

Then I shut off the heat and let the cinnamon stick steep in the apple juices for about another hour.

At this point my house smelled like apple cinnamon.  Just like a house should smell in September.  Except it was 101 degrees F yesterday! We're making up for our May blizzard by having July in September. 

Then I got out my immersion blender and let 'er rip. This is why I was able to leave the skins on.  That, and I wanted the vitamins that are in the pigments. 

When the apples were mostly blended, I added about a quarter of a cup of local honey.  I'm becoming a bit of a honey snob these days. I like my honey local, nice and strong. And I despise clover honey! 

I used the stick blender to finish breaking down the apples until I had a nice and smooth apple sauce. 

I'm pleased that even though my garden has been subpar this summer, I still have produce to put away for this fall and winter. After all, in a few months I'll have another little mouth to feed, and I want to make sure that I'm able to fill it with the most natural, nutritious foods available! 

Ready for the deep freeze. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013


Broody Hen continues to stay broody.  I went out to check on her Saturday morning, and when I kicked her off the nest, I found these.


I'm pretty sure the small egg is hers.  

I was willing to just let her sit and do her thing, but hubs wanted to try and "cure" her.  Broody hens' body temperatures increase.  So one way to try and end the broodiness is to cool them off.  We put Broody in Sirius' kennel under the deck so she would be in the shade.  Then we put a fan on her to make it even cooler.

She was NOT happy.  She crowed for about an hour.  You can see my last post if you want to know what that sounds like.  The other girls stood at the edge of the chicken yard and called back to her.  Even Sirius started barking back.  Eventually the other ladies got bored and wandered off, and Broody settled down.  

She spilled her water over and over again all day Saturday.  I came out from painting the "baby's room" (the room where we'll keep the baby's stuff; he'll be sleeping with us) every few hours and gave her another bowl of water to spill.   

She spent a day off of the nest after her cool down on Saturday, but was back at it Monday morning.  We've been kicking her out a few times a day to make sure she eats and drinks and to get the eggs.  The other hens didn't lay at all on Monday.  When I went out this morning, I found her in the back corner of the coop in the nest she has made with another chicken laying an egg ON TOP OF HER.  Yes, the other hen was sitting on her to lay an egg.  I kicked her out and put the other hen in the nesting basket.  When I went back in a few minutes later, the hen was back in Broody's nest, and a queue had formed.  

Waiting her turn in line.

So Broody continues to be Broody, but at least the other ladies are laying again. 

And check out how pretty my hollyhocks are!  I brought these seeds with me when we moved two years ago.  Hollyhocks are biannuals, so they bloom the second year.  I just love this peach color

Sorry about my lunch box in the picture.  I just got home from work.

Happy Fourth of July!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Something to write about

I've been wracking my brain for the past month to come up with something to write about, and for the most part I've been drawing a blank. I do have a popsicle recipe I hope to be able to share soon, but other than that, the garden has been mediocre, and dinners have been less than exciting. Third trimester makes me tired! 

So when I had a mini adventure this morning, I thought I should take some pictures and share. Lately, our crazy chickens have been laying eggs in the compost bin instead of their nesting box. They've tried to make new nests before, so I wasn't too suprised, but it was a little gross.  Husbs and I tried to move the lid to block them from getting in, but it didn't work. 

This morning, hubs alarm didn't go off, so I offered to take care of the chickens so he could head off to work. I brought Sirius out with me, and he promptly found a rabbit in the yard and set chase. I was thrilled with this as the stupid cottontails have been eating my tomatoes and peppers and kale and ..... Unfortunately, he chased the rabbit into the chicken yard just as I was getting ready to go in myself. The rabbit was either too terrified to think straight, or possibly not all there in the head. It kept ramming the fence to try and escape, not realising that Sirius couldn't get it from the other side. Finally, I called Sirius away because I couldn't watch it anymore. The rabbit continued to ram the fence, and eventually the chickens got sick of it.  They cornered it and pecked at it, and then gave up and left it huddled in the corner.  I thought about letting Sirius in to finish it off, but he was so excited I think he may have taken a chicken instead of the rabbit. 

Finally, I got inside the coop to give the ladies fresh water and check on their food.  This is what I found.  

The reason the other girls had been laying in the compost pile, was because someone wouldn't let them at the nesting basket.  I have a broody hen!  I was a little surprised to find her there, but when she flared up her feathers at my approach, I knew that she was trying to hatch some eggs.  This would be great, if we had a rooster.  But these eggs will never hatch. 

When a hen goes broody, her body temperature rises.  One way to break the broodiness is to cool her off.  I took the basket outside, glad that I didn't have to actually pick her up and get pecked, and gently dumped her out before giving her a cool spray from the hose.  She was NOT happy!  This is what an angry chicken sounds like when she is removed from her nest. 

I felt bad for my neighbors!  Sirius and I went for a short walk, and when we came back the rabbit was gone. Thank goodness! 

Isn't the red clover I planted in the chicken yard pretty?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

Baby strawberries

The planter we made for my mother-in-law

Lemon balm returning

Chickens and dandelions



More tulips

Baby's first clothes

Friday, May 3, 2013

Fast, custardy, baked mac 'n' cheese

This week welcomed us to the third trimester. And all the hungry and tired that go with it. I can't believe how close we are to having a baby, and at the same time, I can't believe how much we have to do before we're ready for this baby. This weekend we registered for shower gifts, which was lots of fun and also exhausting. We made my big sister come along, and she showed us her recommendations so we didn't feel too overwhelmed.

Okay, so mac and cheese. My husband grew up eating lots of baked mac and cheese. I've made it a few times, but last week I felt like experimenting. I needed a meal that I could make before work and have ready to go in the oven after work. And I needed something that didn't take too much time. As a main dish, this serves two, but could easily be doubled or served as a side.

You guys, get ready for some action shots!

Step 1: Get your salted water on the stove to boil. While that's going, grate about 1/3 of a lb of cheddar cheese. Or whatever cheese you want. I just love sharp cheddar.

Next, add an egg to the cheese.

Action shot! Bam!

And 1 cup of whole milk. Because whole milk is a whole food. Seriously, I'd use raw if it was legal!

Yes, I know that's 1 and 1/2 cups of milk. I poured 1/2 of a cup back because it was too much.

1/2 tsp salt.


1/2 tsp dried mustard or dijon. You can up this. I love the mustard flavor, but hubs doesn't.

And 1/2 tsp nutmeg. Yum!

Give everything a good stir to combine.

When your water is boiling, add half a box of whole wheat pasta and cook for ONLY 4 MINUTES! This will keep the pasta from feeling over cooked after it's baked. It's going to absorb moisture from the milk in the oven.

Action shot!

Butter a 9 by 9 baking dish. Yes, use butter. No, it's not going to kill you. But the chemicals in those damn baking sprays might!

After draining your pasta, pour it in the baking dish. Then add the cheese mixture.

Give everything a good stir to make sure that the cheese is spread out and the pasta is evenly coated.

Top with whole wheat bread crumbs and 1 to 1 1/2 tbsp of butter cut into little bits.

You can bake this now, or cover and put in the fridge for later. When you're ready to bake, preheat your oven to 375. Bake on the top rack for 20 minutes. Baking it on the top will help to crisp up the bread crumbs.

Seriously, this with a vegetable is a meal in our house. So good.

Let's zoom in on the gooey, cheesiness shall we? You might want to get a napkin to wipe your drool.