Friday, June 25, 2010

Basic Chicken and Cloth Diaper Primers

I've written a guest post on Utah Deal Diva about getting started raising chickens.

Go here if you'd like to read it!

I also have some basic getting started in cloth diapering articles here and here.

I've heard of people using diapers on their chickens to make them housepets, but I don't recommend it.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


We've been eating strawberries here and there for over a week now, but tonight was the first time that we've picked them and brought them inside.  (The kids love to sit outside and eat them, so getting this many at once was unusual.)

Along with the strawberries, we got 4 eggs from our 4 chickens.  I can't wait to see what we get to harvest next!

Monday, June 21, 2010

June Updates

The week that school got out we planted a large crop of beans and corn and various melons at my parents' house, then we spent several days frantically trying to get the watering systems working so we could safely go on vacation.
We left around 10am in the morning for a long drive across Nevada and California, to reach our family cabin in the woods, a mile or so off the coast.  

Our first item of business once we arrived (after sleeping that is), was haircuts.  The boys had really gotten shaggy.  I love this picture of A.  He was constantly brushing hair out of his eyes.  We decided that summer buzz cuts would be great (although it was tempting to leave A's as shown in the picture).  :)

Once they were all buzzed and showered, they enjoyed some hot tub time with dad.   

One day of vacation we hiked to a waterfall.  Here we are by the "smiley face tree"

We ate lunch by the water fall.

We got up early one morning to go see the tide pools.  We also took our usual trip into the town for fresh seafood lunch, and shopping at the toy store and book store.  The boys spent a huge majority of the vacation working with grandpa building their tree house.  

We were very happy to see everything alive and growing well when we got home.  Here are the green beans.

The corn in the three sister's bed is three or four inches tall now, and we planted the vining beans as well as the squash, so hopefully those things come up soon.  This picture is a good one of our new watering system that my Mister worked so hard to get operational before our vacation.  He used a length of hose to connect the tap to the pvc pipe.  He drilled holes in the pipe to correspond with the locations of the plants.  Nothing is glued together, so we can take it apart for winter storage and use it again next summer.
This section of the garden was also going to have the pvc pipe system, but we ran out of pvc pipe.  Rather than go buy more, we made due with what we had, which was a length of old hose (the one we had been cutting up to attach the pvc pipe system to the faucets in the other raised beds).  He again, drilled holes in the hose to correspond with each plant.  It will be interesting to see how it holds up compared to the pvc pipe.
After planting the beans in the three sisters bed, we realized that our experiment wasn't going to yield us very many beans, so my Mister constructed this lovely trellis for more beans to grow up.  We had a small section of raised bed with nothing growing in it, so it worked out well.
One morning I decided to break down and do some pruning.  I have a hard time cutting healthy growth off of plants, but driving through all the vineyards in northern CA, I convinced myself that it needed to be done.  I thinned out the grape vines so that there is one or two vines going to the lower wire, and one or two that we will continue to let grow so it can reach the top wire.  It looks much better now.
The strawberries that I transplanted several weeks ago have perked up, and have started to send out new runners.  By next year there ought to be another nicely established strawberry patch here.  This picture also shows one of the other irrigation types we have.  This one uses funny pipe and sprayers that direct the water exactly where you want them.  A little more pricy than our other types, but really nice to use.
We've been researching flowers to plant to attract beneficial insects and deter harmful insects.  We'd also like to attract hummingbirds.  We planted alyssum, marigolds, salvia, nasturtiums, and a couple others I can't remember now.   Most are spaced around the yard, but the extras were all planted under the hummingbird feeder.  I haven't seen any yet, but I have seen a couple of big fat bumble bees.  Usually we just see wasps, so I was excited to see more useful things.
At the nursery, while we were looking for flowers, I saw the basil, and instantly though of one of my late summer meals where we're trying to use up the prolific zucchini.  It's zucchini, tomatoes and onions sauteed in olive oil with garlic and oregano.  Fresh basil will be a really nice addition.  

We've also been trying to maintain an organized schedule this summer.  The kids have a list of jobs and homework that they have to do every day before they can play.  J's homework mostly involves practicing his multiplication tables, and A's is anything from the 1st grade section of the ABCya website.  The fourth and fifth grade sections have some fun games that J has been playing around with.  Hopefully they help him with his typing skills a little too.

Finally, at church yesterday, one of the nursery leaders came and got me out of relief society and said that CP needed help going to the bathroom.  I was confused and said, "you mean he needs his diaper changed?"  She restated, that no, he needs help getting his pants off.  I said, "do you mean A needs help?"  She must have been getting frustrated with me, because she said, "no, CP, the one with the red hair."  I was really confused, because CP isn't potty trained.  

I got to the nursery and took CP into the mini bathroom (the nursery room has it's own bathroom with a tiny sized sink and toilet.  CP wanted to use the little toilet.  I took his diaper off, which was only a little wet, and sat him on the toilet.  He went!  Then we put his slightly wet diaper back on him (the diaper bag was with dad) and washed his hands.  I'm guessing he saw the little potty, and saw other kids going into the bathroom and decided he wanted to also.  So, figuring that this week is better than any other weeks this summer, we're potty training.  He's had two minor accidents, and lots of good trips to the toilet.  I just wish we had a mini potty at home.  He's loving his big boy underpants though!

Also, as long as I'm giving updates, today CP said to me, "mom, when you do your email, it makes me irritated".  hehehe...

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Garden Update

Corn is up in the corn bed.

Corn is up in the Three Sisters bed.  Every other hill has corn in it, and will also have beans (we'll plant them in a week or so when the corn is a little taller) and the other hills will have squash.

Some of the squash plants in the side garden are up.

Strawberries are starting to turn red.

And they have gotten really thick.  We covered them with a bird netting to keep the birds from eating all the berries.

The raspberries have been staked to keep them from flopping over onto the grass.

And the raised bed around the trees is finished and mulched (this happened awhile ago, but I never got around to posting a new picture).

Monday, June 07, 2010

Good for you AND me!

I'm on the computer kind of a lot.  Probably too much (It's an ongoing battle, but I'm trying to make sure that I get everything done that I need to do before I play around too much (though sometimes you just need a break from the "MOM, MOM, MOM!!!"  The internets are good for that)).

Also, if I can find a good deal with free shipping, I much prefer shopping online to shopping in stores (I think that's a sign of middle-age- I used to love going shopping).  I've found a couple of websites that help me earn a little money back for online searches or online shopping.  If anyone is interested in signing up, you can start earning money back too, plus I get a referral bonus.  See?  It's a win-win.

I thought posting on my blog would be less obnoxious than sending all of you an email, this way, if you're interested, sign up, and if not, you're only out the time you spent reading this post.

Shop at Home is a website with partnerships at many of the online stores we regularly buy from.  If you register at shop at home, you earn a $5 sign up bonus (and if you sign up and buy something within 60 days through my link above, I get one too).  When you're ready to buy something online, you log into your shop at home account, search for the store, and if it's there, you go to the store through the link and earn whatever percentage cash back that store offers.  When you've earned $20, shop at home sends you a check.  Some stores have extra coupons posted, in addition to the cash back.  If I'm buying stuff online anyway, I might as well get a little something back for it!

Search & WinThe other site, Swag Bucks is a search engine where you earn "swag bucks" for searching online (there are a few other ways to earn swag bucks, but searching is the main one), and then you can trade in your swag bucks for prizes.  I trade mine in for $5 Amazon gift cards.  It takes me a month or two of normal searching, generally to earn enough swag bucks for a $5 gift card, then when I have $25 worth, I buy something I've been wanting on Amazon, and get the free shipping.  Right now I'm saving up for some new bread pans.  I've downloaded the swag bucks toolbar, which puts a search box at the top of any window I have open, so I don't have to go to their website to search.

Unusual Baking Techniques for Desserts

Yesterday as we were cooking dinner, (wild rice, chicken on the grill, and broccoli) we started thinking that we'd like something for dessert.  I suggested a cake with coolwhip topping since we have kind of a lot of coolwhip right now.  The only problem was that turning on the oven didn't sound like fun.  I started looking around online and came across this website that had instructions for baking cakes in your bbq grill.  We actually made apple-strawberry crisp.  The picture is a little blurry, but it was delicious.

Prepare Your Barbeque and Cake

  1. Light the BBQ and allow it to preheat.
  2. Prepare the cake batter from a mix or follow your favorite recipe.
  3. Grease and flour the cake pans.
  4. Pour the cake batter into the pans.

To BBQ Cake with Indirect Heat

If you have three elements on your BBQ, you can use indirect heat.
  1. Turn the two outside elements to low and turn the center element off.
  2. Place the cake pans on the center grill above the element that is turned off.
  3. Close the BBQ lid and allow the cake to cook for 20-25 minutes. Avoid opening the lid to check the cakes during this time so the heat stays inside and creates an oven effect.
  4. Check the cakes. They are done when they feel springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. If they are not done after the initial time has passed, close the lid and continue cooking for 5 more minutes and check again.
  5. When they are cooked, remove the cakes from the BBQ and place on a cooling rack.

To BBQ Cake with Direct Heat

If you have two or fewer elements, you can use direct heat.Turn all the elements to low.
  1. Place an empty pan upside down on the grill above the element
  2. Put the batter-filled pan on top of it. The extra pan adds a little more distance from the heat and helps to keep the cake bottom from burning.
  3. Close the BBQ lid and allow the cake to cook for 20-25 minutes. Avoid opening the lid to check the cakes during this time so the heat stays inside and creates an oven effect.Note: When cooking on direct heat, the cake cooks a little faster.
  4. Check the cakes. They are done when they feel springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. If they are not done after the initial time has passed, close the lid and continue cooking for 5 more minutes and check again.
  5. When they are cooked, remove the cakes from the BBQ and place on a cooling rack.
When the cakes are cool enough to touch, remove them from the pans, If desired, cool cake completely and spread with icing or serve them warm with ice cream. Enjoy!