Monday, September 19, 2011

"Fall"-ing into a Routine

Now that Fall is practically here, we have started to settle into the routine of errands or appointments in the morning and school for Brookie in the afternoon. Small Fry has been attending speech therapy sessions two or three times a week and seems to enjoy the individualized attention and help.

For blog purposes, I will call the baby (who is now 9 months old - yikes!) "Minnow". Minnow looks a lot like those tiny fish, as she wiggles across the floor to get where she needs to go. She is a busy little soul whose happiest moments are in mama's arms or sucking on a teething biscuit while seated in the high chair.

The chickens do not seem to mind the extra time I take to let them out in their pen these past several chilly mornings. We are eagerly awaiting eggs; thinking that the first ones should appear in the next month. We did bid farewell to the rooster, for he was becoming a nuisance both in his noise and his abuse of the sweet flock. Peace seems to be restored, although I did have to shoo a couple of the girls out of the garden today. We still have a few tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants we hope to enjoy.

Big Fish has installed a tree stand up our back hill, so we are officially ready for hunting season. He is turning our children into bargain hunters, as he has been taking them along to a weekly flea market and any auctions that are in the area. They did come home with a cute, vintage "Fresh Eggs" sign a couple of weeks ago. Now we just need those eggs......

Boy is it chilly outside; the thermometer registers 59 degrees. Time for a hot dinner and maybe some post-dinner hot tea! Hope you are warm and cozy in your corner of creation!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Summer Updates

We've been enjoying an unusually (for southwest PA) sunny summer! Everything is growing: the kids, the chickens, the garden, the weeds, etc! I look around the house and see lots of signs that summer is in full swing:

1. There is watermelon in the 'fridge and ice pops in the freezer.

2. Every day brings a new opportunity to pull weeds. My mom blessed us last week with the edging (by hand) of our sidewalk while I baked a cake.

3. Big Fish has been industriously watering our garden and even stringing hoses together to water the pumpkins and squash down our back hill.

4. My 4 basil plants in the garden are in desperate need of a picking. I've already made a pesto batch and pizza with basil and cheese.

5. Shhh! Don't tell my mom, but Small Fry is carrying around a mason jar with a baby ring snake in it. I must remind Big Fish to let the thing go tonight!

6. The honey bees seem to be expanding. I checked them on Saturday and actually placed a honey super on the top. The bees have been quite busy in their two hive body boxes, so to my inexperienced eye they looked like they needed more work space. Maybe we'll have a tiny bit of honey this year! I'm starting to read up on how to care for them through the fall and winter. Plans are being made for a second hive next year.

7. Hummingbirds have drained their feeder - need to fill that today before they get too angry!

8. The chickens are enjoying their "big girl" digs. The coop is ready for its first clean-out already! They come running when they see us because we usually have a slice of bread or some old lettuce for them. I did hear on the radio that homegrown eggs don't really taste any different than grocery store eggs. They do definitely look different, though. We'll have to test that ourselves in a few months!

9. Brookie spends large amounts of time on her swing. It's just a disc hung from a tree branch. Another favorite activity of hers is sidewalk chalk drawing on our driveway. We need a rain just to give her a clean slate!

10. A recipe for rhubarb custard bars will be posted this week, so see you back soon!

Enjoy some iced tea on the porch swing!

Friday, May 20, 2011


A couple of days ago I snipped a miniature rose and put it in a vase by Brookie's breakfast plate. She loves flowers! She was very pleased and buried her nose in it for a few seconds. "It smells like cookies and birds!" I smiled and tried to hide a laugh. She then elaborated that the rose's fragrance was that of "chocolate chip cookies and bluejays".

Just today we're doing some preparatory baking and cooking for tomorrow (an eventful day - mother-in-law is moving from our basement to her new house next door; also a visit from grandparents and newly-married brother of mine). We're hoping to make homemade ice cream. I'm making the custard today, and I told Brookie that we'll use the ice cream maker that's in the garage. She immediately asked me, "What's his name?". Clearly we need to use the ice cream maker more often, my friends!

Friday, April 29, 2011


We have sunshine on our minds around here......we dash out between thunderstorms to clear a patch of weeds, plant some herbs, check the bees, or hammer a little on the new chicken pen!

This morning I was cuddling with Brookie and told her she is my sunshine. She told me no! She said that she is not my sunshine but rather her brother is. I asked why she is not my sunshine? She replied, "I'm your daughter!"

Get it? She is thinking son-shine!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Updates on the Projects

We've been in a whirlwind lately!! I don't know what we're going to do when the weather actually warms enough that we can get outside and work on the garden. We're so busy already :) It's a wonderful busy though. Maybe some of the busy-ness is because of my personality; I have to get something right or I don't want to do it at all! Here's the latest:

1. Chickens - our family has gone 'round and 'round with where exactly to house the chickens! First we were going to build a coop (and by "we" I very possibly might mean my patient husband). Then, "we" decided to convert part of our existing shed into a henhouse. Finally, we (and I mean all of us here) found a cute coop for a reasonable price at our local AgWay. Now, we just have to get it transported to our house! I myself have gone 'round and 'round trying to track down the little chickies. What a process: most hatcheries need a minimum order of 15 or 25 chicks. We were hoping for 7 or 8! It's too cold to ship smaller amounts of babies without a much higher shipping rate I've discovered. Another twist is that I really, really want to have 4 kinds of chickens! I've researched a bunch, and my list includes Barred Rocks, Golden Comets, Araucanas, and Buff Orpingtons. So, our hope is that our local feed store will be stocking live chicks around Easter. We're not sure what breeds we will come away with, but we are prepared with our heat lamp and chick feeder!

2. Honey bees: a hive has been ordered, a jacket and veil are on their way, and my dear Big Fish has built a stand to accommodate the hive. I stopped by a local army surplus store and found some canvas-type pants to go over my jeans (for 10 bucks!).

3. Soap making: I've made 2 batches that are curing. No verdict yet as to how the bars have turned out, for I want to hand mill them and add some wonderful essential oils. I did provide some comic relief in my safety goggles, pink gloves, and apron when I was mixing in the lye!

4. Completely unrelated yet keeping it real (stop reading if you have a weak stomach): I smelled something earlier today - you know, the smell you smell when you step in "something" from the yard. Well, turns out my little dog seems to have some tummy troubles. I had to do a major cleanup of him including donning my latex gloves (I'm finding more and more uses for those things), giving him a cleanup and trim around his bottom, and also cutting the hair off his back feet. While in the middle of this project which I was doing in the bathroom, my daughter came in to use the potty. She told me she was having tummy trouble. Then, my son filled his diaper. In the space of about 20 minutes, I cleaned up poop from 3 sources. Yuck! I've said it before and I'll say it again: I can't wait to open the windows!

Off to check the baby's diaper....

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Week of Beginning Projects!

Knowing that we did not have a lot of appointments or calendar items scheduled this week, I asked Big Fish on what kinds of projects I should focus here at home.

Here's the list: order chicks, gather supplies for our honeybees, and (if the weather cooperates) try a first batch of soap!

We are hoping to add some laying hens to our backyard. Through some research, we are almost positive that we want to try the Golden Comet variety. These chickens are supposed to be good layers and fairly calm birds (keeping the safety of the kids in mind). I just stumbled upon this blog last night - seems to have some good resources and advice in her chicken category.

We are awaiting news from a local bee supplier to see if he has any bees for us. If not we will order some online soon. We have been watching some DVD's and doing some reading in preparation for 2 hives.

Lastly, the soapmaking process has been all about collecting materials. I've found that the sodium hydroxide (lye) used in the "recipe" is not as readily available in local stores. I'm awaiting my shipment of a couple of pounds this week, but let me know if you have some great tips in this area!

So, you're here for the beginning, folks. Here is your opportunity to read this blog, shake your head, and wonder what in the world we're doing! Or, you could offer as much advice as you can! I would love to hear how you do it; where you find supplies; and anything else!

Here's to a fun spring!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Few Things

We woke up to another day of winter wonderland today! Even just a few inches of fresh snow really transform the trees in our forest. With a background of blue sky today the sight is just dazzling.

With all the snow we've been enjoying it's hard to believe that spring will eventually arrive! I know it will come though because Big Fish has ordered most of our garden seeds. I was especially thrilled to hear that he ordered all heirloom seeds - tomatoes here we come! We ordered our seeds from Annie's.

With Valentine's Day coming next week, Big Fish and I decided to be ultra romantic and give each other the gift of apple trees and blueberry bushes! I know you're thinking you will never beat our level of romantic gifts! Added to his mom's order of cherry trees, we'll hopefully have some yummy fruit as early as next year.

Lastly, I have decided to join the swag bandwagon. If you're curious (or would like to join yourself), click on the swagbucks link. I believe I receive credit if you join through my link - fun!

Enjoy some sunshine today!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Eureka Moment Today

Well folks, I had my eureka moment of the day (week, month?). It just occurred to me in the midst of dinner preparation. Drumroll please....

Use latex gloves to mix the meatloaf by hand! I keep the gloves on hand for the rare occasion of seeding/slicing hot peppers (the pepper oil, it burns!). I was just about to scrub my hands in order to mix my ground beef, ground venison, egg, herbs, breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper; and I thought again of how much I hate to touch raw meat! In the past after I've finished mixing everything; I've felt that my hand washing never completely got rid of the ickiness - especially under my fingernails. The idea just popped into my head to use the gloves. Meatloaf has now become such an easy dinner to prepare, and my attitude toward the construction process has greatly improved.

Now I'm sitting here typing with clean hands! All I had to do was toss the gloves in the trash. Even if you are allergic to latex, the plastic gloves would work just as well.

Here's to a good dinner with loved ones!

Monday, January 17, 2011


Sometimes I feel I have so many ideas running around in my head! Too bad there isn't an occupation in which I could just provide ideas. Any-hoo, here are some questions for you in no particular order:

1. When canning vegetables and fruit, do you prefer using a pressure cooker or a boiling water process?

2. Does anyone have a nice recipe for candied grapefruit peel?

3. Is it really worth it to cut bangs in my daughter's hair, or is this something I'll regret and wish I didn't have to keep up with them?

4. Why does snowcream have to be made with freshly fallen snow? Does day-old snow not work?

5. Does anyone have tips on helping a four year old and a two year old be kind to each other? Some days are really good, and some days are really bad!

Any help or advice you could provide, dear readers, would be much appreciated!

Monday, January 10, 2011

First Step....Admitting I Have a Problem

Hello, my name is Sarah; and I am a knitter with a problem. I started a new project, and I can think of at least 5 projects that I already have on the needles! This is serious, people.

Take a look at this yarn and maybe (if you are into this sort of thing) you'll be able to sympathize! I have in my possession the "Queen Anne" colorway.

Must go tear myself away from the knitting; there are hungry children in this household!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Homemade Marshmallow Recipe!

Happy New Year! We've begun the New Year with both Big Fish and his mother returning to work (on Monday). My New Year's resolution is to survive with three kids at home now! Just is a joy as well as an adjustment. The only goal that I started on Jan. 1 is the attempt to read through the Bible in a year. I have some quiet time while feeding our newest addition (still coming up with a nickname for her on this blog), so I thought this might be a good time to try.

I have not been holding out on you with my marshmallow recipe; I promise! I must credit the source. The recipe is from an old Williams-Sonoma catalogue. They often print some interesting recipes to go along with their eye candy mailings.

Homemade Marshmallows

3 packets unflavored gelatin
1 cup cool water, divided
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/8 tsp salt
1 T vanilla extract

Combine 1/2 cup cool water and the gelatin in the bowl of an electric mixture to soften. Fit the mixer with the whisk attachment.

In a small, heavy saucepan combine the other 1/2 cup of cool water, sugar, corn syrup and salt. Stir over medium heat while the sugar dissolves. Then raise the heat to high; cook the mixture (without stirring) until it reaches 240 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Take the pan off the heat.

Turn the mixer on low and pour the hot mixture over the gelatin mixture. Turn the speed up to high and whip for at least 10 minutes (you want the mixture to cool to about room temperature). Add the vanilla extract towards the end of the time.

Spread the mixture into a buttered 9X13 pan (glass is the best). Use wet hands to spread out evenly and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Let the marshmallows set overnight or so. Use a greased knife or cookie cutters.

Optional flavors: instead of the vanilla extract; go crazy! Use half a tsp of peppermint oil, or swirl with crushed peppermint candy, or a 1/2 tsp of espresso powder, etc.

Enjoy toasting over a fire or in some yummy cocoa.