Saturday, July 31, 2010

Chick-lets :) R.I.P Sweetie

We lost one of our girls yesterday.  Our Barred Plymouth Rock "Sweetie" was the friendliest of all the chicks, and always had to be first in line to be held.  She will be missed. Losses within the first two weeks are very common, and are very seldom caused by disease, it's the process of natural selection, she just wasn't meant to be. 

Friday, July 30, 2010

Beer Can Chicken

It's beer can chicken season! There's really nothing quite like beer can chicken cooked on the grill. It's like a rotisserie chicken that's so juicy it falls off the bone before you can take it off the rack. It can be done in the oven, but it's just not the same. To do this you need: half a can of beer, a beer can chicken rack, and (if you don't want to make a mess out of you grill), an aluminum roasting pan. I use one of the cheap beer can racks and it works fine, but there is many more "elaborate" models available that do the same thing. Every time I make one of these I try a different combination of beer and seasoning, today I used Bud-Light with lime and a rub made of garlic infused oil from Tastefully Simple and Lawry's Seasoned salt. I leave mine on the grill for about two hours on medium high, or until the skin is that nice crispy looking shade of brown and it looks like the meat will fall right off the bone.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

New pasture fence project: Napoleon "helps" :)

In this photo is my husband Kevin and our stallion colt Napoleon.  Napoleon is giving Kevin some help taking down the old fence that divides the paddock.  My husband decided to replace about two hundred feet of pasture fence today.  The first step in this project is removing the old wire fence (we will of course recycle the old fence, or save it for future projects).  Next we'll dig some new post holes and pour some concrete for the new posts, then we'll put up the new cross fencing.   This is very exciting because the wood fencing is safer for our horses, and it's prettier :)

Chick-lets :) Meet Stella

This is Stella, she's named after my BFF Stella Artois,  that's a beer (for those of you who don't read my beer page).  Stella is a White Plymouth Rock, and will grow to up to be a large fabulous laying hen.  She's a frisky little thing, and her hobbies include being difficult to catch, and pecking my diamond ring when I do manage to get a hold of her.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Chick-lets :) Gretchen and Gretel (the Hamburg sisters)

This little chick is Gretchen, she's the more assertive of the two sisters. She usually hangs real close with Gretel but today she wanted to inspect my camera. Gretchen and Gretel are Golden Speckled Hamburg chicks. They're traditional Pennsylvania Dutch farm birds.  You can see some "big girl" feathers peaking through the baby fluff.

The new cyber school text books have arrived :)

Today was a very exciting day for Mayzi because the UPS man dropped off two giant boxes addressed to her!  Inside was her complete curriculum for her second grade school year, and my teachers guides & answer keys for each subject.  She also received an art set, a science kit, a yoga dvd, a jump rope and some other miscellaneous learning materials.  Yaaay!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Out with the kids: Tika's on Main St.

We headed out with the kids last night to get some dinner and unwind.  Our favorite place to go to be a public nuisance (our kids are better behaved then we are) is Historic Bethlehem.  There's lots of restaurants to choose from with outdoor seating, a great coffee shop, and because there's so many bars there's always live free entertainment (there's always an alcohol fueled spontaneous street performance).  The restaurant we frequent most often is Tika's on Main street,  it's got a great children's menu, Hop Devil on tap, and the most incredible french fries and pulled pork sandwiches.  I also like their salads, and I'm not easy to please when it comes to lettuce, usually only my fresh garden lettuce will do.  We took advantage of the empty outdoor seating area, it was to hot outside for the other patrons, so my husband had the whole area to himself to be obnoxious with his cigar :)  The kids had a great time doggie watching, and keeping an eye out for "eccentric street performers" (eccentric is a fancy word for drunk).  While we were eating, I noticed that my favorite vintage clothing store had relocated down to Main street, so my daughter and I of course had to check out The Attic the second we finished eating.  It's a nice little shop, the old store was crowded and not accessible with a stroller, so browsing their fierce inventory of vintage fashions is so much easier now.  Then we grabbed some coffee at the Wired Gallery, looked at some of the new paintings we hadn't previously viewed and headed back out to Main street to wrap things up with some window shopping on the way back to the car.  If you'd like to view Tika's complete menu, check out the link below, I also added The Attic and the Wired Gallery links.
The Attic
Wired Cafe and Gallery

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Setting My Goals

We moved out here with hopes of pursuing something that resembles a self-sustaining eco-friendly life, and we're getting there, slowly but surely. I use the word "resembles" because although we want to be self-sufficient, we don't want to be uncomfortable or have to do without things we love. It's not likely we'll be giving up our imported beer or coffee anytime soon. So for us, it's more about finding a balance we're comfortable with. We've learned to live without constantly consuming and making waste, and make better choices without feeling deprived.

This process started with one big move (literally) we packed up everything sold our house and moved out of the borough of Northampton, to less populated area about 30 minutes North of Allentown Pennsylvania, We choose a modest ranch home with a manageable amount of property. I wanted a ranch home because I've found it to be the most efficient type of construction for our lifestyle. It's got no steps, it's super energy efficient, it's easy to clean, and most importantly, it's large roof surface will easily accommodate a solar energy system when we're ready to go off-grid.

Acclimating to a life out here wasn't easy, no matter where I need to go it seemed FAR from home.  When I was pregnant with my son, it was a rare occasion when I could make it to my destination without having to make a pit stop, I mapped out my travel routes based on where the cleanest restrooms were located.  But being surrounded by farms and dairies means we had access to fresh locally grown produce until we got our own little homestead up and running.   I expect that our homestead will continue to be a "work in progress" for many years to come.  Some books I refer to regularly are:

  •  Living on An Acre: A practical Guide to the Self-Reliant Life
  • The self-sufficient life and how to live it
  • Homemade

My brand of feminism :)

Let's get something straight, I don't like cooking, but I love being able to feed my family. There was a time when I cringed at the thought of my daughter remembering me hovered over a stove or frantically washing dishes before bed. But now I'm not sure I'd ever NOT want her to think of me in that way. She will always know I was there, as will my son, in a sea of other possible choices, I was there for them. When I decided to "do the stay at home mom thing" my interests were meet with dismay and scorn by my peers. I admit, even considering getting married was out of character for me (I'd bailed on multiple previous engagements before my husband finally clubbed me over the head and drug me away by my pink crew-cut), so obviously people that know me well were surprised to find out when we were trying to get pregnant (the first infant I ever held was my daughter) .
Then came the fun part, First there was the "concerned looks" and the "why would you do thats" when I made my decision to breastfeed known. My dad clipped articles on the benefits of breast milk for me, I guess he felt I needed scientific evidence to defend myself with. Then, when I let it slide that I was going to be cloth-diapering...... well you would swear I'd committed some unspeakable crime against modern motherhood.  Some people acted like my choice was a phase I'd hopefully grow out of. I can remember well-meaning friends and family members making comments like "you'll get so much done when Mayzi starts school" or my personal favorite " you can go back to work while the kids are in school" (which is REALLY funny, because if I had known I wasn't working I wouldn't have worked so hard). Well I've been happily married, and at home with my fabulous kids and fantastic husband for 8 years, and it's by far the most liberating life experience I've had. I think I just now figured out why they're so bothered by my choices, I think they're offended that I've taken all that they've sought to eradicate and made it the basis for my own personal feminist movement.  I added a few fun books to read to this article.  They helped me over what my husband lovingly calls my "femi-nazi-hump".  Check out "The Proper care and feeding of a husband" and "Embracing Motherhood" and if your really feeling squirly, read "Women who make the world worse",  I recommend these books for entertainment purposes only, I can't really say they've influenced any decisions I've made concerning my lifestyle, but they are all good reads. 

Friday, July 23, 2010

Pasting up :(

Ti-he and Lucy are not feeling well. An electrical storm left us without power the other night, and our baby girls went without a heat source for a few hours. Despite our best efforts to keep the temperature consistent, it still dropped enough to cause a few of them to "paste up". Pasting up occurs when chicks are exposed to a rapid change in temperature or stress, and it sometimes occurs as a result of shipment. Their droppings dry up on their rear ends so they can't poop, as ridiculous as it sounds its actually a very serious condition for a chick to have (serious meaning deadly). So we have to keep their little behinds clear of droppings with baby wipes until they recover. If you live in an area with regular power outages, (especially if you get chicks in early spring) I recommend having a generator on hand or making sure you have a chicken loving friend near by. Chickens can be quite pricey, especially if you invested in exotics or rare breeds, you don't want to lose them all because you weren't prepared.

Why Cyber School????

We made the transition from a traditional public school environment to a home-based public cyber school for many reasons.... most of which are difficult to explain without using offensive language. But I do feel I should offer some explanation, so in a nut shell, traditional public school had nothing to offer my student, didn't suit our families lifestyle, and we just weren't happy. My biggest concerns when I considered home schooling were meeting the states academic requirements, and TIME. I had no idea what the current standards were and I was afraid we wouldn't have time to properly instruct our exceptionally bright little student. So we reluctantly sent our little girl off to kindergarten and hoped for the best. Sending her to school felt incredibly "unnatural" to me, everything she was at that time had everything to do with my influence, as a parent you literally teach your kids everything they know, walking talking, social skills, potty training, and then our "little wonders" hit that magical age when society says we need to turn them over to people whom we know nothing about to be turned into productive citizens. I thought we did a good job with the first 5 years so it made perfect sense to me that I should be taking responsibility for her formal education as well. After doing quite a bit of research I discovered public cyber schools, and concluded that it would be the best choice for our family. The curriculum exceeds the states requirements and although it's not a traditional brick and mortar institution, it's still a public school, so there's no expense to us. So just a few months into first grade we decided we'd all had enough of institutionalized learning and we enrolled her in Commonwealth connections Academy. We've had great success with the program we use, and my daughter has better options for socialization available to her now. If you have any doubts concerning the quality of education your children may (or may not) be receiving, I recommend giving it a try.

Getting ready for back to school

I know it's only July, but it's time for my daughter and I to get her home school class room in shape for the fall. The first step in this process was setting up a safe play area for my active 1 year old son. We used some interlocking foam gym mats, and a super-playyard XT with extension kit. it's easy to sanitize and he's got more than enough space to play while his big sister learns. His happiness is essential for a productive learning environment. Next we have to clean out last years text books and teachers guides to make room for the new books. Mayzi is anxiously waiting for her second grade curriculum to arrive. The arrival of new books and learning materials is a very big deal for her! she loves the smell of new books! In the next few weeks we need to shop for school supplies, clean, unpack her new books, and make sure her computer is functioning properly. Preparing for the upcoming school year shouldn't be stressful for a family. Getting your students involved in the process and starting early will ensure that your family makes a seamless transition from summer break into the up-coming school year.

Chick-lets :) meet Lafawndah

This is Lafawnduh, she was named after Kips girlfriend from Napoleon Dynamite of course. She's a Black Jersey Giant chick. She's a "very fancy" looking little chick so we thought she needed a glamorous name. She will probably turn out to be the largest of our flock.

The chicken coop project

Our chicken coop building project has been on hold for a few days because of rain and my husbands hectic work schedule, but that's OK because our flock won't be ready to take residence for another four weeks or so. So for now just enjoying our new pets and waiting for the next nice day to work outside.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Chick-lets :)

Meet Ti-he (pronounced Tee-hee in a high pitched chirpy kinda voice). Ti-he was the first chick my daughter wanted to hold, and she's named after the distinct happy little girl sounds Mayzi made the first time she held her. She's the runt of our little flock, but for what she lacks in size she makes up for in noise and ambition. Her hobbies include basking under the heat lamp, and popping through the holes to get inside the chick feeder to eat (this makes her sisters crazy) because she blocks the holes from the inside. Ti-he is a Golden Sebright Bantam chick and will someday grow into her big personality.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Our chicks came today!, they are 24 hours old, 13 total, each a different type of laying hen. They need constant attention, so we're hanging close to home for the next few weeks. Each chick already has it's own very individual personality, and the kids love them.

They were delivered by our postal carrier in a cardboard box (top photo) We set them up in the garage, with a heat lamp, they're very sensitive to heat changes and need to be in a draft free 95 degree environment for the first week of life.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Girly Pomegranate Martini

For me there really is no wrong time of day for a Martini, especially a light fruit juice based one. I can remember having these with breakfast the last time I visited Disney.

  • fill shaker with ice
  • add 1oz. Smirnoff pomegranate vodka
  • add 1 0z. Peach tree Schnapps
  • fill shaker to top with diet or light cranberry juice
  • shake and pour :)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Apple peanut-butter cinnamon bars

I had the unfortunate experience of getting stuck with about six cups of left over apple cinnamon oatmeal this morning. And no, it wasn't that instant stuff from the little packages in the Quaker oatmeal box. This oatmeal was special, I got up early so I could peel and dice apples into tiny little cubes, then toasted and cooked organic rolled oats before adding the cinnamon and brown sugar. So you can imagine my disappointment when I was informed by my seven year old that it's "to hot to eat oatmeal" and my husband didn't even have time to sit down to eat (but the baby and I did enjoy OUR breakfast). I HATE to waste anything so I immediately came up with a scheme to make use of my giant bowl of oatmeal. It wasn't rocket science either, one egg, a scoop of peanut butter, spread onto a greased cookie sheet and baked for 30 minutes, cool and cut into bars. I got 24 bars out of this recipe (most of which disappeared almost instantly), and I intend to freeze them and pop them in the toaster for on the go breakfasts and snacks for the next few weeks. :)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Night out: Sands Casino Resort

Last night we dropped the kids off at my mom's and headed down to the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem, PA. We had a great dinner at St, James Gate, this Irish pub had the best curry sauce and calamari appetizer I've ever had, and the selection of Beer was outstanding! I was not real impressed with my free range roasted chicken entree though (it was bland, and a bit pink inside):( After that, we headed out onto the floor to play the slots and check out the new table games. The live entertainment was nice and if your a people watcher this is the place to be. This was our first trip to a casino, we had a good time getting robbed by "the one armed bandit", I think we might make it a regular thing. :)
for directions check out:

The chicken project

We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of our new baby chicks, the chicken house is almost done, and our "chick nursery" ready for it's inhabitants. We ordered a variety of different chicks from a website called, we ordered from them because they have such a huge variety of breeds availible to choose from, and you can order as many or as few as you wish. :)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Our chicken coop project is really coming together! Kevin and Mayzi have been working on this every morning for the last few weeks.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

It's been a while, things have been crazy around here, we're building a chicken coupe, inherited a geriatric dog, and our baby just turned 1, All's good :)