Sunday, July 31, 2011

Meet the Girls

So a friend of mine got 4 chickens as chicks and raised them for a time. Then when they reached coop size decided it wasn't a good time buy a coop and wanted to get rid of them. I was excited to get free chickens when all the hardest part ( raising them from chicks) was done. I have been debating it for awhile and decided I did want to walk out my door and get great fertilizer and fresh eggs. So we rushed to put together a coop from an old shed at our bookstore. And now we have 4 new girls in the family. Let me introduce you.

This is Sunshine ( the kids named them with our approval.) I think she is lowest in the pecking order and she is the smallest.

This is Marigold who is the the most adventurous and first out the door when we open it.

Here is Luna, I think. She is the largest and can fly up to the perches now.

And lastly is Speckle.

Here is our coop. I think I will paint door the same red as my trellises .

George is demonstrating our door that opens to the nesting boxes I built inside. These hens are still a few months too young to lay but hopefully we will get some this fall. I am doing everything I can to keep them cool enough to make it through the summer heat. We are still working out the making of a run right now. We let them in the yard for now with the kids watching and shut them in at night but I have had to catch them a few times now and I am looking forward to having a run they can go into on their own.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Peach Jam

So I thought I'd show a little tutorial about making peach jam. I just made a batch and it was yummy if I may say so. 1 batch is about 8 half pints or 4 pints of jam. Here goes:

Wash your peaches and if they're not organic use some soap. Rinse well.

Blanch them in boiling water for a few minutes till their skins split open.

 Using a slotted spoon place them in prepared bowls of ice water. Then slip off the skins and discard them. Chop peaches into small pieces (I skipped this part because I was lazy. I will have very chunky jam.)

Mash peaches with a masher. 

Put jars and lids in pots and heat them. Don't boil the lids! It ruins the seals. The jars don't have to be completely submerged but make sure they are nice and hot all over.

Follow the directions on the package of pectin you bought and I mean this seriously. Each pectin is a little different about amounts. Stir in pectin and then stir till you hate I mean till the jam boils. Don't stop stirring but add sugar. I like low sugar pectin and only put 1-1 1/2 cups of sugar in one batch. ( for comparison, regular pectin has about 6 cups of sugar a batch.) Stir some more till it boils again and starts looking a bit thicker and kind of glossy.

Ok this is where you need to move a bit quickly so things don't cool down too fast. Pull out a jar with tongs from your pot of hot water. Get out a jar funnel and pour the jam in leaving about this much head space.

Stick a knife in it to get out air bubbles and wipe the top so it will seal well.

Get out a lid with the fun magnetic lid lifter thingy you get in a canning pack ( it's my favorite canning tool!) and stick on a lid. Twist a ring on but not too tightly just fingertip tightly.

Cover your jars with a towel as you work because my neighbor told me this helps them seal and she is an awesome canner so I do it.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Last Airbender....again

Friends gave us the entire set of the Avatar The Last Airbender animated series and we have been watching a couple of those episodes a day to go through the series. It is so fun and so much better than the live action movie. We've already seen it but it's so fun. I have to catch myself from watching them again.

In the show the characters use elements( fire, earth, water or air) to fight bad guys.My kids have decided what kind of element bender they want to be. So Renata is a water bender, Joffre is an earth bender and George is an air bender. So they go around making karate like motions and pretend to fight each other with whatever they can supposedly "bend". I saw Ward making motions too but couldn't quite figure out what he had chose to fight with. So I went up close to ask and he was saying, "Apa" Apa. This is hilarious because Apa is the giant flying bison the characters ride to go places in the show. Bison power!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Trying to Beat the Heat

So it's been 99degrees everyday and we have been mostly hanging out inside trying to find things to do.
The kids have been reading and playing tons of legos. Unfortunately our bigger baby pool died and they have tried squeezing into our sandbox one but it's pretty tight. Ward was trying to push everyone out today to give himself more room. He is such a buffalo. His nickname is The Hug Buffalo.

Even the cat is lethargic except today when she decided it was time to go into heat! We are having her spayed tomorrow. If you have never had to deal with a cat in heat let me tell you it is not a treat. I am ready to fling the hussy out on the streets... but I won't. We also have more excitement but I'll save that for another post. (and No, I am not pregnant.)


I've been harvesting butternut squash and have some giant ones on the vines still. I pulled up 2 of the plants but still have 1 prolific plant cranking them out. My tomatoes are ripening up all at once in the heat so we have tons.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Garden Update

 I was very excited to get a Knock Out rose plant on sale at Lowes. They are so disease resistant you can treat them like any other shrub and don't have to spray them. Now i am looking for a disease resistant climbing rose.
 This butternut squash plant is growing beautifully while my other two are definitely on the decline. This has 8 growing on it and the other two gave me 4 fruit together.
 This is celiosa? flower. They are usually about 6 inches high but these are 2 feet! I have had the same thing happen with marigolds. They are just now about to flower.

These are my cantaloupe and pumpkin plants which are actually twice as big now. This was a picture from last week. i only have to cantaloupe growing on them though. No pumpkins forming yet. I am hoping the heat doesn't kill them.

 This is my cucumber plant that was giving me beautiful looking cucumbers that tasted awful! They are so bitter. We got a few nice ones at the beginning and then I think it just hated the heat. I pulled them out last night.
 My zinnias are 4 feet tall and still pretty.
 My tomatoes are stressed by the heat but still giving me 8 tomatoes or so every 3 days. They are sprawling everywhere because my cages didn't hold them up.
And here is the worst garden pest ever...the squash bug. I kill 5 a day of these monsters and still they come. They have to be squished by hand (with gloves on of course) because they don't respond to organic pesticides. I don't pay my kids for chores but I offered 10 cents a bug if they killed any squash bugs.Joffre Jr eagerly has been searching for them  and got one last night. I'm thinking of offering M and Ms too.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Hobbit

Joffre is reading the Hobbit to the kids for the first time and they are loving it so much. We had a few nice evenings before the horrid hot came and he took them outside to read one night . So I took some pictures. Our kitten almost got called Bilbo before we realized he was a she. We were reading the Chronicles of Narnia but we took a break to read The Hobbit. I am surprised how much the little ones are comprehending but they love it as much as the older one do.

Meet June

I have had such craziness going on at my house. Mostly good craziness just all happening at once. We have a new member of the family, June the Kitty as Ward calls her. He says the whole thing. My neighbor's daughter who I love (as demonstrated by this story) came over holding this kitten. She said, "I found her in the gutter crying." And as she hands it to me, "We're allergic."  I will ignore that I held out my arms and said, "oh poor thing lets feed her."

It all my neighbor's fault that I now have a new cat. That's 3!And this is the best part- I have mice again and they are not catching them! Lazy ...well fed...furballs.

We are also getting some other new animals that a friend wanted to get rid of but I will leave that as a surprise for later.

I love the spot on her next to her nose. Should have named her Cindy after Cindy Crawford and her big mole.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Friday, July 8, 2011

Shirred Dress

I wanted a long maxi dress and I wanted to learn how to do shirring. So I made one....that was way too small. So small I cut off the top shirred part and made a shirt that fits Renata ( third photo). Then I made on for me that fits . I used fabric I got for free at a yard sale and didn't use a pattern. It was fun to try it without a pattern and it made patterns make more sense to me. Shirring is really pretty simple. You just put elastic thread in the bobbin and use regular thread on top and make rows of gathers.Viola!