Friday, July 31, 2015

Furry Friday: Rabbits & Friends

We have some new baby rabbits.  They are old enough to jump around the rabbit now.

 This upside down milk crate gives them a place away from the big ones to nap or eat.

The water container seems high but they prefer to drink from this one rather than the lower one on the right.

Anytime I go into the rabbit house, everyone crowds around me hoping for a treat.  Rarely do they stay still long enough for a great photo though.

Our newest rabbit is Peter.  He is very gentle and loves to eat.  I think everything is his favorite.

Now for the friends
The rabbit house is a secure area and makes a good home for some guests.  We have two spiders with very large, intricate webs living under the eaves of the rabbit house.  I really do love spiders and will only kill the dangerous ones.

A bird has made a lovely nest on a shelf inside the rabbit house.  Her eggs are well protected from the elements and from predators!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Book Review: The First Family Detail by Ronald Kessler

"You can easily judge the character of others by how they treat those who can do nothing for them or to them," publisher Malcolm S Forbes once said.  This line from the prologue is a true statement in life but especially for those who are in the public eye.  I thoroughly enjoyed Ronald Kessler's previous book, In the President's Secret Service.  I jumped at the chance to read this one and was not disappointed.

This book includes behind the scenes looks at the presidents' and their families' lives.  I cannot imagine having someone watching my every move.  Still I do not believe this gives anyone the right to treat someone poorly.  Some of the individuals handle this with grace and kindness.  Others are simply letting their true character shine through.

The First Family Detail also provides insight into how the Secret Service works and occasionally does not work.  At first I did not think I would enjoy learning the how and why behind the Secret Service.  I did learn a few things which is one of the main reasons I enjoy reading.  A person can take mindless entertainment for only so long.

After reading this book I will be more mindful of candidates' character.  My favorite part of the book is this:  John Adams, the second U.S. president, said the people "have a right, an indisputable, inalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge - I mean the character and conduct of their rulers."  ..... Yet over and over, voters have ignored warning signs of poor character and candidates' track records and focused instead on their promises, their celebrity, and their acting ability on television.  I am sure none of us would like our "dirty laundry" aired for all to see.  At the same time very few of us are running for such a high level position.  The First Family Detail is a great book and one I would recommend.  

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Weekly Savings

I dehydrated chocolate mint and raspberry leaves in the dehydrator.  I also used a large amount of chocolate mint to make ice cream which W did not like.  He decided he only likes artificial mint flavor.  The ice cream will be all mine.

We turned down an invitation to eat out.  W was not especially fond of the restaurant.  I did have a meal already planned for us at home.  We did mention to the couple that we would make arrangements to eat at a locally owned restaurant in the near future.  The food is better, and I would rather keep my money in our neighborhood.

W did some work on his truck and returned a bunch of unnecessary parts for a credit.   Unfortunately he thought the truck had new, major problems.  He checked it out and found the last mechanic shop to work on it did not tighten the lug nuts on the tires.  He will check to see if there was any damage and contact the mechanic.

I am using yarn purchased at a yard sale to crochet a receiving blanket.  I think it may end up in my gift stash.  I am still learning to crochet and am using this project for practice.

I looked online and found some recipes to try using ingredients I have on hand.  They are simple enough that W will eat them.  I like that they make use of what is in the pantry.

This was a quiet week with mostly the usual money savings: line dried laundry, meals cooked at home, etc.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Meal Plan

I am desperately trying to get back into a routine: both in blogging and in my daily life.  I decided to start with a weekly menu plan.  As I have mentioned before weekends are hit or miss with needs for a meal.  Sometimes W is not hungry and sometimes he is.  If I cook a meal, he will not be hungry.  Over the next few weeks I want to stock the freezer with some heat and eat options.  I will do some single servings as well as multi-servings.  Even if he is not hungry, I still need to eat without resorting to junk foods.  For now I am just going to focus on meals during the week.  I need four dinners and four suppers each week.  This will be a work in progress until I straighten out the kinks and get a system that works for us.

Taco Pasta, Salad:  This is a favorite of ours.  I may add some corn muffins to finish off the meal.  It is basically a homemade version of a boxed convenience meal.

Crockpot Beef Stroganoff, Mashed Potatoes, Peas:  This is a new to me recipe.  I will use some pieces of deer meat rather than a whole roast.  I will also use dehydrated mushrooms rather than fresh ones.

Baked Fish, Parmesan Pasta, Carrots:  The Parmesan pasta is also a homemade version of a boxed mix.  I boil angel hair pasta.  When it is done I drain it and add butter, Parmesan cheese, and often pressed garlic and parsley.

Chicken Salad Sandwiches, Chips:  I am trying to eat up the conventionally raised chicken that is in the freezer.  This will be a quick evening meal or a make ahead meal for errand day.

Big Salads:  I can hardly wait until it cools down enough to grow some lettuce here.  I will add in some diced ham or chicken, peppers and cucumbers from the garden, and whatever vegetables are in the fridge.

Hamburgers & Fries:  We have an abundance of ground deer meat in the freezer so hamburgers with cheese on homemade buns are a good use of it.

Tuna Pasta Salad:  I seem to be on a pasta kick this week, but there is an abundance of it in the pantry right now.  I will add in vegetables from the garden and fridge as well as some thawed garden peas.  A bit of cheese and homemade ranch dressing will round it out.

Ham Sandwiches, Chips:  Sandwiches appear quite often on the menu this time of year.  Often it is too hot to eat much else.  Sometimes it is so hot that we skip a meal completely and eat homemade popsicles.  Not healthy, but if it is hot in your area you will understand.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Feathered Friday

I have several different chicken photos to share with you today.  First up is a group of baby chicks that were hatched in the incubator.  This past week we moved them from the brooder to the nursery pen.  They are enjoying being on the dirt.  One of their favorite things to do is dust.  Honestly they wallow like pigs but in dirt rather than mud.

 The black chick is covered in dirt and has a nice wallow hole for herself.

Several of the other chicks noticed her dusting hole and decided to join in.  

They seem to finally be getting the hang of roosting.  For the past two nights we have been putting each baby chick on the roost just after dusk.  It can be a tedious job as they are not good at balancing yet.  I often have to put them on the roost multiple times.

This mille fleur hen and her three chicks are in the old rabbit pen.  The wire along the floor keeps anything from digging in.  You can see two of her babies sitting in the feed pan.  We recycle any worn out cookie sheets or pans into feeders or water containers.

This is her third baby which wandered off into another part of the yard.  Sometimes I feel like I spend most of my time rounding up baby chicks and returning them to their proper place.

This is the rooster who used to live with the ducks.  These two hens decided to live with him.  He is very protective and is always close by when they are wandering around the yard.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The New Blog is Up

A few weeks ago I did a poll regarding posts about sharing our new home building progress.  The end result was that nearly 75% wanted to see the posts in a separate blog.  The new blog, A New Home in the Country, is up.  You can see the first post here.  I will continue to post about everyday life on this blog!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Weekly Savings

The past couple of weeks have been busy but not necessarily exciting.  I started some broccoli, collard, and cabbage seeds for the fall garden using seeds left from last year.  They are already starting to sprout.  I also started seeds for tomato plants using seeds I saved from a tomato this year.  These plants will go into five gallon buckets.  They will stay outdoors until it gets cold, and then I will move them into the greenhouse.

I trimmed back the peppermint and spearmint in my garden and dried the leaves.  I have a half pint jar full of lovely dried mint to use for tea.  I cut other herbs to use in cooking.

I took some time to go through the pantry and freezer so I have a better idea of what we have on hand.  This will help me plan my meals for the coming week.  I have been lax in this area and want to get back sitting down once a week to plan out our meals.

Laundry was all washed in homemade detergent and hung either outside or on drying racks to dry.

I did not order piles of stuff during Amazon's Prime Day.  I did take advantage of the gift card offer which gave me a free $10 credit.  I was planning to order some items anyway. The credit allowed me to get some dried herbs that I wanted to order for a reduced price.  My only other purchase was hair clippers for W.  His previous pair was barely functional.  He has already tried them out and is happy.  I chose no rush shipping and got an additional promotional credit.

We are harvesting peppers from the garden.  The Armenian cucumbers continue to produce despite the high heat and humidity.  We will definitely grow these another year.

I stopped at the bank for coin rollers so that we could roll the change we have been saving.  We ended up with close to $75 to put into savings for the house!

Those are the highlights from the past week.  What have you done to save money this past week?

Monday, July 13, 2015

Book Review: Unafraid

Unafraid:  Trusting God in an Unsafe World by Susie Davis begins with a school shooting in 1978.  An event we unfortunately think of as common was rare then.  The author was a witness to this tragedy, and it began a life of fear and distrust in God.  As the book continues, readers are given insight into how Mrs. Davis overcomes her fear and finds trust and hope in God.

The book was engaging and is much more than a self-help book.  I felt like I was being given a personal glimpse into Mrs. Davis' life and how fear controlled her.  I could see myself in some parts as she described worrying about things that have not even occurred.  At some point fear gripes each and every person.  We must choose how to respond.  I can easily let myself get caught up in all of the bad news and tragic events going on in the world.  The book did remind me to focus on One greater than myself.

I enjoyed the study guide included with the book.  Personally I would have liked to see the questions at the end of each chapter rather than at the end of the book.  I could see the current location being much more of a problem with an e-book.  This is a faith based book which means it will not appeal to everyone.  It is one that I will recommend to my Christian family and friends.

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Feathered Friday

We have more baby chicks here.  Two hens have been sitting on eggs and each ended up hatching 3 eggs.  We actually have both in old rabbit hutches.  It gives them a place to get out of the weather (rain) and an open air area as well.  These are tiny bantam chicks so we do not like for them to free range until they are old enough to keep up with mama.

Mille Fleur hen with two of her three babies before being moved to the rabbit hutch

Buffy with two of her three babies

We have some teenage chickens (not full grown but old enough to free range) wandering around the yard.  Many of them wander through the fences into the garden areas.  Given their size and the size of the garden, it is no problem.  They are helping keep the garden bug free.

I have named this pair Jack and Jill as I am almost certain they are a rooster and hen.  The two of them are inseparable.  They love for anyone to talk to them.  They are hard at work eating bugs all day long.

Many of our chickens are bantams.  They primarily eat bugs and rarely bother the garden produce.  They are good egg layers but very sneaky with their nest sites.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Freezer Friendly Jalapeno Poppers

I love jalapeno peppers, and my favorite way to eat them is stuffed with cream and cheddar cheeses.  Jalapeno poppers are typically grilled or fried.  Grilling them is not always convenient, and I rarely fry anything for health reasons:  physical health and mental health (for the mess frying makes).  I came up with my own version that can be baked while still keeping a bit of the crunch that comes from frying.  Angi at Schneider Peeps (one of my favorite blogs) asked me to share how to make them.

First you need to halve your jalapeno peppers and remove the seeds and as much of the membrane as you want.  An emptier shell means more room for the filling.  You will need 30-40 jalapeno peppers depending on their size.  It is fine to do this step the day before.

Next combine 2 8oz packages of softened cream cheese and 8 oz of shredded cheddar cheese.  I add in some salt since I use homemade bread crumbs.  You can also add in any other of your favorites (bacon bits, sausage, etc).  I like to stick with just the cheeses.

You can mix these in a food processor, by hand, or in a mixer.  You just want everything to be well combined.

Optional:  Have a cheese loving dog on stand by to eat any cheese bits that do not make it into the bowl.

In a separate bowl, pour some breadcrumbs.  I use homemade bread crumbs from the end pieces of my bread loaves.  Store bought breadcrumbs are fine, but I would go with panko breadcrumbs over the super fine ones.

Now you are ready to assemble your poppers.  First step is to fill the pepper shell with the cream cheese mixture.  You can pack it in tightly but try to keep it mostly within the boundaries of the pepper half.

Next you want to cover the cream cheese part completely in breadcrumbs.  Smash them down into the cheese mixture and remember to cover the end.

You could bake them at this point.  These are very freezer friendly though, and I always freeze them.  Just layer them in a pan and freeze overnight.  Once frozen you can store them in freezer bags for an extended period of time (a year or more).

When you are ready to bake them, place the poppers in a 350 degree for 15 - 18 minutes.  The breadcrumbs do double duty.  They give the popper a bit of crunch and also keep all of the cheese tucked inside the pepper while it bakes.

We are picking around 200 jalapeno peppers a week here.  We use as many as we want and give some away.  My dad also barters with a local butcher shop using some of the peppers.  A new favorite of mine is candied jalapeno slices.

I keep having to make more as everyone who tries them wants a jar to take home.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Weekly Savings

First off I want to thank everyone who voted in my poll last week.  I will be starting a new blog soon to share about the process of building our new house.

I had another busy week but less was going on in the garden.  I have spent time pulling some weeds.  It takes me a bit of time to get all of the garden areas weeded.  I only pull what the chickens, ducks, and rabbits can eat at one time.  They enjoy the greens.

I made a bunch of envelopes and finally used up the last wallpaper sample book.  I got about six of the wallpaper books free several years ago at a yard sale.  I also made quite a few birthday cards using items that I had on hand.

My in-laws took the crocheted baby blanket, hat, and diaper cover to my sister-in-law for my new nephew.  Shipping the gift would have cost more than the yarn used to make it.

I went to a two day family reunion over the weekend.  I took mini-cupcakes made with leftover batter and icing that I had frozen.  I also took homemade rolls, brownies (from a box of mix on sale), and macaroni & cheese.

I have two flower pots that are in good structural shape but look horrible.  I plan to repaint them.  Since I was not particular about the color, I chose a can of clearance spray paint.

I finished a free course through Vintage Remedies and signed up for the course that was free with the purchase of an online bundle pack.  I learned quite a bit in the first course and am looking forward to the second.

I focused meals on using up items in the freezer.  I plan to continue to work on that for the next couple of weeks.  I need to make a trip to Sam's Club and am working to make some space in the freezer.