Thursday, July 28, 2011

Chicks update: 3 weeks old

Right by mom

Our little chicks are three weeks old this week.  Hard to believe that July has gone by so fast.  They aren't the cute fluff balls that they used to be, although they are still cute.  They are getting more of their tale feathers in and have tripled in size.  They still spend most of their day following their mom's around the coop yard, excited to see what bugs mom can uncover from the ground.  They have been getting more independent though and occasionally we will see one on the other side of the coop yard fence (which they are still small enough to fit through) exploring by themselves.  Still haven't been able to tell which are roosters and which are hens, they all look the same to me!

Exploring in the pumpkin patch
Little chick!  (Not so little anymore!)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Lemon slice coasters

When I saw these on The Purl Bee I had to make them.  So cute.  And I have a set of lemon and lime slice salt and pepper shakers that didn't know they had missing coaster cousins.

Too perfect. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

All You Need Is Love card

Wow, we know a couple celebrating their silver anniversary this week!  That's pretty amazing.   We'll be celebrating three years next month and that seems like a long time to me, let alone 25 years.  This occasion to me meant a simple but elegant card.

Cricut Machine or access to one such as in a scrapbooking store
Cartridge - Love Struck 2010
Card stock paper in white
A small sheet of vellum paper in silver
Alphabet stamps
Red ink
Craft glue


Cut one of the following:

4 1/2" heart2 from Love Struck 2010 in white cardstock

Using white cardstock cut out one piece that measures 11 1/2" x 5".  Fold this at 5 1/2"  This will create the base of the card with a small overlap.  I used my stamps to then write their names on the overlap with a heart stamp in between.  Glue your white heart to the front.  Then cut the vellum at 5" x 4 1/2" and glue it to the inside.  Again, I used my stamps to write my message.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tomato Egg Sandwich

Best way to enjoy our first slicer this summer?  Tomato egg sandwich with a Brandywine from the garden, an egg from our chickens and homemade bread.  Yum.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mystery Tomato

We have a mystery tomato plant in our garden!  We planted three variates of tomatoes this year: Brandywine, Lemon Drop Cherry, and Amish Paste Roma.  However, what was suppose to be a roma come out quite different.  In the picture above you can see the romas to the left and the cherries to the very right.  In the middle is our mystery tomato.

They are small, around 2 inches, and they are completely round unlike the romas that are pointy.  They even have different leaves then the rest of our tomatoes:

Its leaves have purple spots on them and it is the only tomato plant we have the appears to be struggling even though it is producing lots of fruit.  I'm completely puzzled by our mystery tomato plant.  We ordered our seeds from Seed Savers Exchange so I called and ask them if they could be of any help - did we make some strange hybrid plant, is this just an Amish Paste that got deformed from the hail storm we had, or did a random seed find its way into our Amish Paste seed packet?  They seemed as intrigued as me and have asked me to send pictures our of mystery tomato plant so they can try and identify it.  Anyone else have a guess while I wait to see what they say?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Peaches, blackberries and relish, oh my!

Did I say lazy weekend?  I spoke too soon.  We stopped at a roadside market just south of where we live and picked up 1/2 bushel of South Carolina peaches and three pints of blackberries.  I pretty much ate blackberries all day.  They were to die for.  The peaches were excellent too.  We even got to keep the basket they sold them in which will be a nice garden basket for collecting our crop from the day along with eggs.  We then spent most of Sunday peeling peaches and canning.  I've never had much luck peeling peaches without them ending up a big mushy mess but I think this time I figured out a trick.  Instead of just boiling the peach for 30 seconds then dunking it in cold water, I made a small cross in the skin with a knife before boiling it.  Seemed to help.  Anyone else have any good tips for peeling peaches?

We ended up with eight quarts of peaches in light syrup (one of my favorite things to eat on yogurt for breakfast in the winter) and six half pints of blackberry jam.  We also had an abundance of cucumbers and hot peppers from the garden so Lewie made a batch of hot cucumber relish.  He kinda used a few recipes and went along with what we had so it ended up having shredded cucumber, hot peppers, onions, celery, mustard seed, celery seed, canning salt and apple cider vinegar.  Have yet to try it, but the smell was wonderful and looks so pretty in the jars.  I'm sure it will be good on a brat or sausage. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Happy birthday chicks!

Our chicks turned 1 week old today.  All five are doing well and growing daily!  They are really starting to get some color in their feathers already.  We've had to teach them how to get back in the coop at night, but other then that they seem pretty self sufficient.  They spend most of their day following their moms around the coop yard scratching for food and exploring.  One even had a grub the other day which was about the size of it's head but it was pretty excited about it!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Garden fresh salsa

What's better then a lazy weekend?  A lazy weekend with homemade salsa.

We made a nice salsa with ingredients from our garden: cherry tomatoes, mystery tomatoes (more on this later), roma tomatoes, a hot pepper, a green pepper and cilantro.  The only thing in our salsa not from our garden was garlic and salt.  Just threw them in the food processor and yum it was tasty.

One of the joys of summer!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The great egg experiment: Day 21

We have chicks!  After 21 days of patently waiting we heard our first peep-peeps from the nesting box the day before the 4th of July.  I was nervous because last week I found an egg that had been kicked out of its nest with a chick in it that I couldn't seem to save.  It was sad and disheartening and I didn't want to go through it again so, approaching the 21 day mark for me was a bit nerve racking!  But mother (nature) knows best and our two broody hens sat on our eight eggs for 21 days almost 24 hours a day.  I had my doubts but they stuck to it and hatched five chicks!  Two of the eggs were unfertilized and we lost the one chick last week so we were successful with hatching two Wheatens and three Easter Eggers.  They are little balls of fluff now and follow their moms around learning how to scratch, eat and drink.  It's amazing to see things like this work since most of the chicken industry has moved to using incubators as a way of hatching chicks.  Also, most keep chicks in a separate area with a heat lamp but our hen mom's seem to be up for the job and brood on them all night to keep them warm.  Here are a few pictures of our new farm friends:

Chicks all a flutter with their moms

An Easter Egger chick meeting our chick (due next month!)

An Easter Egger chick

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Garden progress: June

It's really amazing how fast our garden grew in June.  So far we have had two large cucumbers, an eggplant, handfuls of lemondrop cherry tomatoes, three roma Amish Paste tomatoes, and one green/yellow sweet pepper.  We continue to watch everything grow daily.  We have a few watermelons that are about the size of a pea and tons of Brandywines that seem like any day will turn red.  It's so rewarding to eat a salad or meal that came mostly from our garden.  Last week we had greens with cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers and an eggplant melt with pesto made with basil from my herb garden.  It was wonderful.  Pretty soon we should have green beans and hot peppers.  We also planted more carrots and lettuce. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Fireworks Cookies

Happy Independence Day!  I made fancy firework cookies to celebrate via Martha Stewart Living.  They didn't come out nearly as good as hers but they still taste good!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Flapper knit hat

Another hat done for Baby Z.  This time it is a flapper hat with a cute bow on the front.  The pattern is from 60 Quick Baby Knits: Blankets, Booties, Sweaters & More in Cascade 220 Superwash (Sixth & Spring) which I received as a gift from some friends of ours along with three balls of Cascade 220 superwash to make it with.  It turned out pretty darn cute except that it's supposed to fit a 6month-12month old and it probably won't fit her until she's about 10.  I have the hardest time with gauge and hats - they always come out way to big.  Either way it's adorable and it's also pleasing to have made one more thing for her.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dunkin' Donuts Father's Day Card

Few dad's can go without their cup of joe in the morning including my father-in-law who is a die hard fan of Dunkin' Donuts.  What better way to celebrate Father's Day then with a gift card to his favorite place and a cute matching card to go with it.

Cricut Machine or access to one such as in a scrapbooking store
Cartridges - Just Because Cards, Don Juan and Wild Card
Card stock paper [orange, pink, white and brown]
Craft glue


Cut one of each of the following:

5 1/2" Bunny in white from Just Because Cards
5 1/2" Bunny-s in orange from Just Because Cards
2 1/4" Thinking in pink from Don Juan
2 1/4" shadow Thinking in white from Don Juan
2 1/4" Cup of Tea in brown from Don Juan
2" real dial size phrase Father in brown from Wild Card

Glue your orange and white base together to form your card.  Then glue your phrase together and glue this to the front of your card.  On the inside glue the Father's Day phrase and attach your gift card.

I think the front matches the Dunkin' Donuts logo pretty well!

Click here to see last years Father's Day Card. 

Happy Father's Day everyone!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

You're Rad Father's Day Card

This is a great Father's Day card for a dad who's a gardener at heart.  Here's how:

Cricut Machine or access to one such as in a scrapbooking store
Cartridges - Just Because Cards & Wild Card
Card stock paper [red, dark green, white, brown, light green]
Craft glue


Cut one of the following

5 1/2" Radish in dark green from Just Because Cards
5 1/2" Radish-s in brown from Just Because Cards
5 1/2" word Radish in light green from Just Because Cards
5 1/2" layer-1 Radish-s in light green from Just Because Cards
5 1/2" word Radish-s in red from Just Because Cards
5 1/2" layer-1 Radish in red from Just Because Cards
5 1/2" layer-2 Radish in dark green from Just Because Cards
2 1/4" real dial size phrase Father in brown from Wild Card

You will end up with pieces like this:

Glue them together and on the inside glue the Happy Father's Day.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Garden invaders: Mystery poo

I woke up this week to find these all over the garden bed floor.  Tiny green grenade looking things.  Weird.  So I searched for tiny green grenade insects and found this website:  The First Clue: Tiny Green Grenades.  Ta-da!  I figure out what they were.  Let's play a game like she did on her post;  Can you spot the bug that made them in this picture:

Here is a close up:

It's a tobacco hornworm!  These suckers are massive and sure enough, above the tiny green grenades on the floor of the garden bed (which turns out to be their poo by the way) I found three hornworms chewing their way through our tomato leafs and stems.  None of them had signs of the parasitic wasp eggs on their backs so we removed all of them.  Apparently, the wasps will lay eggs on the hornworm and feed of of it making it a natural predator of the hornworm therefor if you see one with eggs you shouldn't kill it.  But it's a good thing we have chickens who love protein because they gobbled them down.  I'm not brave enough to try this.  Ek!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Ash Tree Organics bags: washable!

Read this:

CNN: Reusable grocery bag bugs


Good thing about Ash Tree Organics reusable grocery bags?

They are machine washable!  Unlike some of the other reusable bags that are made from synthetic materials (how is that better then plastic bags at the store anyhow?) our bags are made from 100% organic cotton and cotton and you can throw them in with your laundry!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The great egg experiment: Day 1

For the past few months we've been dealing with broody hens.  For those that don't know, a broody hen is a hen that for some reason (the daylight, the time of year, temperature, etc.) starts to believe she needs to hatch an egg into a chick so instead of laying an egg and then leaving the laying box, she'll lay and egg and try to sit on it until it hatches.  Once she does this she stops laying eggs all together.  If you take out the egg she laid, she'll just sit on another hens egg.  Eventually she may become so protective of the lying boxes that the other hens start laying somewhere else, like the coop yard or in the corner of the coop (like where we found 17 eggs one time!).  We knew very little about chickens before we got some last fall and I had never heard of a broody hen.  Turns out the breed of chicken we got tends to go broody.  Turns out there are breeds that rarely go broody.  So after fighting her to stop sitting on eggs for months now, pulling her out of the coop, dragging her out of the laying box, taking away all the eggs, putting her on her roost, we decided we had to do something different.  We were either going to cull her and buy new chicks or let her do her thing and see what happened.  Since our chickens are like pets we decided to let her do her thing.  So yesterday I picked up 8 eggs from a local farm, Wildwood Farm, that are hopefully fertilized and placed them under our broody hens.  We can't use our own eggs to hatch because we don't have a rooster so finding a place with eggs and a rooster was what we needed.  Four of the eggs are from Easter Eggers which lay green eggs:

And the other four are from Wheaton Ameraucana chickens which lay blue eggs:

Aren't they pretty?  You cannot imagine my excitement after seeing these - they are so beautiful.  I love supporting rare and heirloom breeds of farm animals and plants so to hopefully have such unique chicken eggs will be so special.  Wildwood Farm also has chocolate brown egg layers called Copper Marans but they tend to go broody so we didn't get any of those, but man are they gorgeous eggs.  See a picture of them on Wildwood Farms facebook page here.  What a neat place.  They have so many different kinds of chickens is was just educational and fascinating being there.

It was a relief to me, and to the broody hens, when I placed those eggs there.  The blue wyandotte that we have that is broody tucked the eggs closer to her body and under her wings before settling down comfortably in the nesting box.  It was like she said, thanks, this is what I've been trying to do for months!  Chickens are so instinctual and like my husband says, they aren't like cats and dogs - you can't really train them.  You can try and stop a chicken 100 times from broody but it's what she does and she won't stop until you let her.   So, I placed these eggs under our broody hens and if all goes well in almost exactly 21 days (July 4th) we will have baby chicks.  They have to sit on the eggs for 24 hours a day for 21 days in order for the right incubation temperatures to mature the egg into a chick. My first hope is that some of the eggs will actually hatch and are fertilized.  My second hope is that if they do hatch some of then are hens and not roosters.  This gives me hope.  We'll see - let the countdown begin!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Relocation Graduation Card

Yes, my sister is going to UCLA this fall for grad school.  She's pretty smart.  So, since she's moving to a new city I thought it appropriate to send her a congratulations-for-graduating-and-congratulations-on-getting-into-UCLA card, complete with a map of the new city she'll be living in.   

Cricut Machine or access to one such as in a scrapbooking store
Cartridge - Plantain Schoolbook
Card stock paper [decorative paper]
Craft glue
Blank card
Pocket map of new school location


I had a blank card that folds in the on the edges to close that I used for my base, but you can use a regular blank card or make your own using cardstock.  To make the outside I started with the Cricut cartridge Plantain Schoolbook.  Cut 1" U C L A or the school you are making the card about using your decorative cardstock.  I made mine in all caps.  To make the city skyline I used the same cartridge and cardstock.  Make it 1 1/2" and cut, TallBall City.  Glue these to the front.  You may have to cut your skyline down a little bit to fit on your card.

For the inside, using the same cardstock as the front, cut c o n g r a t s ! in whatever size fits in your card.  Glue this to the inside.  Include a pocket map.  To close my card I included an atom ring thing (see this is why I'm not the one going to UCLA) to close the card.  Cut a 2" Italic s-blast. Glue to the front to close.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sewing for knitting: DPN & straight needle case

I did it!  I managed to sew two more cases to match my circular knitting needle case and it didn't take me a year to do it.  After looking at many online I sort of came up with my own pattern.  It wasn't terribly hard, just a simple rectangle on top of a rectangle with sewn in slots for the needles and a flap at the top so they don't slide out.  This makes it easy to roll the case up and tie it with an extra piece of fabric so as the case fills with needles you can adjust the size with your tie.   I made two, one for straight needles and one for DPN's:

What a relief it is to be able to find needles when I need them.  I should have made these a long time ago.  But just when I think I'm done, now that I have some extra Loft 1800 by Moda fabric I'm considering making a knitting bag that can house my new needle cases and any knitting project I'm working on.  If I can decide on a bag pattern I'll make one because with summer here (almost) it would be so convenient to just grab a knitting bag with needles and everything and go.  Very handy with summer traveling.  For now though I'm so happy with my new cases, I finally have a place for all my grandmas knitting needles.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Before & After: Nursery Construction

This is how the previous owners had the living room set up:

With all of their stuff gone this is what it looked like the day we moved in:


And then we added baseboards, took down shelving and put a new coat of paint on the walls and it looked like this:

Now, it looks like this:

Lewie built a small 6'x7' room off the kitchen that will someday be our walk in pantry but for the next few years will act as our daughters nursery.  You can see some of the construction progress here.  We moved our living room to a different area and although it was different at first, I love how it turned out.  The stairwell is more defined now and we took down the track lighting that we couldn't stand - the look, not to mention the waste of energy - and replaced it with a small light at the bottom of the stairs.  We continued the baseboards around the pantry to match with the rest of the house and painted it the same color as the kitchen walls.  On the inside I choose the color Pooh Corner which is a light green and because I cried in Home Depot when I saw it, we added the cutest, smallest fan in the whole world (it measures only 20" across!).

Back wall taken from front wall

Front wall with door taken from back wall

Cute fan!
We were lucky to have a vent in the area of the floor and an outlet so all Lewie had to add was a light switch for the fan.  Now the fun part begins, decorating and nesting!