Saturday, April 27, 2013

Coconut Almond Granola

This stuff is super, yummy and super easy to make, and is great on yogurt or just by itself for a quick snack!


3 Cups rolled oats
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tp. sea salt
1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
1 cup blanched, sliced almonds
3/4 cup real maple syrup
1/4 cup oil, melted
2 tsp. pure almond extract

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl mix together all your dry ingredients.  Next stir in the almond extract, maple syrup, and melted coconut oil.  Spread out the granola on a cookie sheet greased with coconut oil.  Bake for 20 minutes-give it another stir.  Put it in for another 5-6 minutes and stir again.  Another 5-6 minutes and it should be done depending on your oven.
Let it cool and store in a mason jar or other air tight container.

Friday, April 26, 2013

A Hatching Success!

It has been a busy week. The kids are home on vacation, I started an herbal apprenticeship at a local farm and our chicks hatched!  Thursday made 21 days and sure enough the eggs began to pip in the morning.  During many, many random checks throughout the day(talk about being distracted!) we saw the eggs rocking and very often little peeps could be heard coming from the eggs.  By evening more cracks were evident.

Around seven the first chick busted his way out, peeping loudly and wobbling all over the place.
We saw two more hatch before we finally went to bed.  In the morning we were greeted by five little balls of fluff intermittently peeping and napping. All the eggs successfully hatched!  Making a transition to the brooder went smoothly and they all seem to be adjusting well to life outside the egg!

Now comes the hard part-trying to figure out which are girls and which are boys.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Pinterest tip of the Week #2-Mason Jars

Did you know that mason jars will screw onto most blenders?  This makes it super easy to make a one serving smoothie! This is also true of the mason jar drinking mugs with the handles.  I like to make a smoothie the night before to drink in the morning and this works out perfect.  You could also easily make up several different flavors of smothies for different members of the family without washing the large pitcher of the blender over and over again. Cool right?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Crazy for Crochet

While browsing through Pinterest and seeing a bunch of adorable crochet items I decided that I needed to learn to crochet. When  I was much younger my sister-in-law taught me how to crochet a granny square and if I had stuck with it I would be a master crochet artist by now but being young and foolish I didn't.  As you know the Internet can be a wonderful source for learning how to things but being a bit old fashioned I love me a good book to use as a reference.  So I bought a book on the basics of crochet, some hooks and some yarn to begin practicing.  I did find YouTube videos to be very helpful when I was uncertain about how to do a certain stitch and the picture in the book just wasn't quite clear enough.
  One of the things that really drew me to crochet was the adorable little critters you could create.  The Japanese art of amigurumi was especially intriguing. The word amigurumi is derived from a combination of the Japanese words Ami-which means crocheted or knitted. And nuigurumi, which means stuffed doll.  After a little research I found that most amigurumi was made with only one stitch and that was single crochet-I could do that!  So I went about finding some patterns and of course a couple books and I was soon on my way to making some cute little critters!  The amigurumi patterns work up pretty quickly so I got this quick little feeling of accomplishment every time I made one.  Another bonus is that my kids are loving the little creations too!
I soon found crocheting to be very addictive and wanted  to crochet everything.  And when I say everything I mean to the point of crocheting hats for eggs, otherwise known as an egg cozy.  You know know it's important to keep your eggs cozy right?!  Actually the fact that such things actually exist and were not created by me just goes to show I am not the only one who is crazy for crochet.  I do believe the actual purpose of an egg cozy is too keep soft boiled eggs warm while you prepare the rest of your breakfast and not a fashion statement but either way they're pretty cute!
Here's a few of my favorites-
And here is something a little more useful, a jar cozy.  I made this for Becca to hold her paintbrushes!

I have got an ever growing list of things I want to try making on my Pinterest boards so stay tuned for further creations!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Candling Day!

Yesterday was day 10 for the eggs I put in the incubator so it was candling day. First thing we did was to take an egg that we had just gotten from the coop and knew there was nothing growing inside to candle so we would know what an egg looked like that wasn't growing.  Then we began the process of candling the eggs in the incubator. It was really neat to see the eggs with the little developing embryos inside.  5 of the 6 six eggs we checked had definite development.  I am not sure who was more excited, Kenzie or me!  If everything continues to go well we will have 5 chicks hatching in 11 days!
The pictures didn't come out that great. If you look closely you can see the darker portion is the embryo with some spidery veins around it.  This particular embryo was moving around a lot!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Homemade Mayo Recipe

Homemade Mayo Recipe

Since raising chickens I have been making my own mayo I wouldn't make this with store bought eggs. Store bought eggs can be over a month old before they even hit the store shelves. I usually make mine with an egg fresh from the hen but any farm fresh egg would due.
 I have read of some people having trouble making mayo and though I never have two things that seemed to help the process are making sure your egg is at room temperature and making sure that you add the oil slowly. You can also use an immersion blender to blend all your ingredients together.
I make a small batch and it only takes about 5 minutes to do. In the summer when we have lots of fresh chives I like to chop up a bunch and throw those in too. It gives a little extra flavor that goes great with just about anything, especially burgers on the grill!

1 large egg
2 tsp. Dijon Mustard
1 tsp. White Wine Vinegar
1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
1 Cup grapeseed Oil
Fresh chives, chopped, optional

Place egg, mustard, vinegar and salt in a food processor and begin blending. VERY slowly add the grapeseed oil in a thin steam until well blended. Stir in chives.

That's it! Fresh mayo! Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. I have had mine in the refrigerator longer than that with no problem.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

RIP Mr. Coffeemaker

After a week of struggling to produce a decent cup of coffee we decided to pull the plug on our ailing coffee maker.  Mr. Coffeemaker was a reliable companion for many years providing cup after cup of steaming hot beverages for our entire family on a daily basis.  Coffee, tea and cocoa were among some of his finest accomplishments. Mr. Coffeemaker  left behind several k-cups, ceramic mugs and the sugar bowl who never left his side during his brief illness.  He will be missed by all.
RIP Mr. Coffeemaker

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Pinterest Tip of the Week #1-Keeping Ice Cream Soft

Ever go to scoop yourself a nice bowl of ice cream only to bend and ruin a perfectly good spoon?
Or worse you start to scoop the ice cream and the scoop suddenly slips and a glop of ice cream goes flying across the counter and lands on the floor much to the delight of your four legged friends?
Well thanks to a tip on pinterest I have a solution! The oringinal link for the pin I have doesn't go anywhere so unfortunately I can't give credit to who ever it was that had this brilliant idea but I thank you.
The simply solution is this.  Put your conainer of ice cream in a plastic bag before placing it in the freezer.  That's it.  No microwaving or leaving it out for a few minutes to thaw only to forget about it and return to a puddle of ice cream.  I've tried this and it really works. So go forth and enjoy wonderfully scoopable ice cream everytime!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Hedgehog Sleep Sack

As I mentioned in my earlier hedgehog post, while doing some research online to learn more about hedgehogs I found that they really like to snuggle up and sleep in fleece.  Soon I found sleep sacks that you could purchase and it wasn't long before I came across a tutorial to make your own. Being a crafty kinda gal it seemed simple enough and I decided to take on the challenge.  A very important fact that was stressed is that hedgehogs have small little feet, toes and toenails that can easily become entangled in stitches and they like to dig, which further increases the chance of a toe or toenail becoming entwined which coud lead to serious injury.  Because of this you need to have as few seams showing as possible, simple enough if you are an avid seamstress.  Not so simple if your sewing machine hasn't seen the light of day in several years. Not to be detered I dusted off the sewing machine and set up shop on the kitchen table with all my supplies close at hand.  I carefully read and re-read the very simple five step instructions(complete with pictures). and then attempted to make my hedgehog sleep sack. I say attempted because the first one didn't come out quite right. 
Neither did the second.
Lucky for me the third times a charm. Also lucky for me I had bought extra fabric.  I wanted to make more then one so that we could wash one and still have an extra.  After making one correctly I could easily make another one.
Or not.
It was the whole turning things inside out and having the correct side of my fabric showing but not having any seams showing that was throwing me off.
Out of five tries I did manage to make two cute sleep sacks that I am proud of.  I am not so proud of how long it took me or how much fabric I wasted or how my aspirations of being on Project Runway got flushed down the toilet. ( Kidding. I have no to be on Project Runway.)  I do, oddly enough despite all my frustrations, have a desire to learn how to quilt.  I think I may head over to Skip to my Lou where she's got some cute projects for teaching kids how to sew.


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Hatching Ideas

We are starting another chapter in our chicken raising or I should say I am.   This whole idea was instigated by my dad and since I am really enjoying raising chickens I was game. Hubby is not really on board with this new adventure.
Hubby is in fact waiting for me to get over my chicken phase. This isn't happening any time soon especially now that I've decided to hatch some eggs to sell the chicks.  I guess he has reason to be nervous.  I think he is pretty convinced that we will hatch a bunch of chicks and end up keeping them all which would mean building another coop to house the all.  I am a little nervous about the whole scenario, but I am excited too.  My fears are more along the lines of what if we hatch all  roosters? Not likely but half could be.  
As you can imagine roosters aren't as popular as hens and therefore harder to get rid of.  They don't lay eggs, they are noisier and they can be mean and extremely aggressive. Some town ordinances don't even allow roosters.  We have been lucky that the two roosters we have are very  friendly. Kenzie can walk right over and pick them up.  They also get along with each other for the most part.  They might circle each other with their hackles raised but there really is no actual fighting.  I think this is largley do in part to the fact that Joel is very passive and is content in letting Captain Hook be in charge.

Since I have never hatched eggs or used an incubator before I have chosen to just try six eggs to get a feel for the whole procedure.
I pulled out all my chicken books and read the chapters on hatching eggs.
Then I read them again.
I scanned the internets absorbing all the info I could get on using a incubator to hatch chicks.  Then I realized maybe it would just be easier to have a hen go broody and do what nature intended. This was a good plan but unfortunately the mothering instinct has been almost entirely bred out of domestic poultry in favor of egg production and I might never have a hen that decides she wants to be a mommy. So back to the incubator with its less than helpful directions and back to doing a little more reading just to be sure I was doing everything the best I could.
 I got the incubator all set up with the humidity and temperatures at the correct levels-temperature 100.0 degrees and humidity 55%.
Next I picked six eggs.  I picked lighter brown ones so that they would be easier to candle since this would be my first experience. And I also made sure they weren't oddly shaped or overly large or small. Into the incubator they went, set small end down into the automatic egg turner.

In ten days I will be able to candle the eggs to look for signs of development.  Candling the eggs is kind of like a chicken ultra-sound.  In a darkened room you hold a candler or bright flashlight or lightbulb up to the eggs to look for signs the egg is fertilized and a chick is starting to form. A fertilized egg should show a dark spot(the embryo) with spidery veins around it.  With two roosters and 12 hens our chances of fertilized eggs are should be high.  If you do not candle the eggs and leave an egg in the incubator that isn't fertilized it will rot and quite possibly explode.  Cleaning up rotten egg is not something I want to deal with!  Not only would the smell be horrific it could endanger the other developing eggs.
I will be monitoring the temperature and the humidity in the incubator to make sure that it remains consistent and keep my fingers crossed that we have a succesful hatch. I'll be posting updates as we progress!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Free Range

Now that we have finally had some significant snow melt I have been able to let the chickens out to free range.  The first free ranging experience was interesting to observe.  I started by just opening the gate and leaving them to their own devices.  No one discovered the open gate or they were choosing to ignore it. Evenually a few hens found their way out but this sent Captain Hook (the dominant rooster) into a tizzy when he realized they were on the other side of the fence. Kenzie went into the run and attempted to shoo everyone out.  For what ever reason they would reach the gate and  run back in the opposite direction.  Kenzie was able to grab Captain Hook and put him outside the gate in the hopes the rest of the flock would follow.  They tried but not being terribly smart they paced up and down the gate trying to get to Captain Hook while he did the same on the outside. Kenzie eventually got a few more out but this is also where it got interesting to watch.  Captain Hook started going up to each hen(he still on the outside of the fence and the hens inside)then he would "talk"to each hen and lead them around to the open gate. With a bit of teamwork between Kenzie and Captain Hook the whole flock made it out into the yard. 
The flock stuck pretty close togther except for the old ladies.  The old ladies are my two original hens and the only two that aren't australorps.  These two were used to roaming the yard together and thats exactly what they did.  This of course upset Captain Hook  who continually sqwaked at them to try to get them to come back to the rest of the flock and they kinda of ignored him.
While Captain Hook was proving himself to be a competent leader of the flock, Joel, our other rooster was proving that he probably should have been born a hen.  Joel is actually prettier then Captain Hook and his plummage is more impressive,  Captain Hook is so named because he has two crooked toes and his plummage is floppier than Joel but other than that he is what I want in a rooster, he is not aggressive towards humans-so far-and he is taking good care of the girls.
As the snow continues to melt and the days get warmer the flock will get to spend more time out in the yard and hopefully learn where the gate is!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Collecting Eggs

One of my favorite things about raising chickens and collecting their eggs is the variety. Every morning I grab a basket and head out to the coop to see what the girls have left in the nesting boxes.

 It's like Easter everyday! We have 12 hens and most days I get 8-9 eggs.  Every so often I get 11 eggs!
 Even though all our chickens lay brown eggs it's not like purchasing a dozen eggs from the grocery store. I now found grocery store eggs boring.  They taste boring and they look boring to me. 
Here is a picture of just a few of the eggs I currently have in my fridge all laid within the past week-

As you can see, they are all quite different. The first one on the left is a Jumbo size egg.  When we get eggs this big, they always have a double yolk inside.
The second from the left is a large egg, but it's a little on the pointy side.  Third from the left is a large egg and  pretty close to what you see in the grocery store.  Fourth from the left is almost round, darker, and speckled (these are my favorite).
The last one is a cute little round, light colored egg.  This is about the size egg that hens lay when they first start laying and it doesn't quite register on my eggscale

.  I have a feeling that this may have been laid by one of my two older hens, who probably hadn't been laying for the colder winter months,  but has started laying again now that the days are getting longer.
As you can see when you have your own chickens you get a nice variety of eggs every day.  Different breeds lay different size and different color eggs so if you have a lot of different hens in your flock you could have a virtual rainbow of eggs!