Let’s Go Fly A Kite!

Warning: photo heavy (70+)

Back in October, my nephews and niece were off school for fall break so my sister took them out with a group of their homeschooling friends. They headed up to Max Patch to fly some kites and I tagged along with Kelsey. Sam had to work that night and, since we weren’t 100% sure of when we were getting back, he stayed home.

By far, Max Patch is my favorite hiking spot. There’s multiple ways to get to the top which changes your experience so it doesn’t get old. Sam and I normally take the longer trial that spirals up so we can take lots of photos. This visit, we opted to head straight up so we could eat and start flying our kites. Towards the end of the trip, some of the kids put on a few skits. It was $0.50 for three plays and, luckily, imaginary money was accepted so I was able to attend. It made for a wonderful day!!

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Animals Everywhere!

Quick animal update! As some of you know, we have quite an assortment of animals at our house. Besides the 16 chickens, we have one dog (Kelsey), one cat (Bowie) and some fish. With Sam’s mom moving back home from Arkansas, we’ve added a few more to the mix. She is staying at a friend’s so we are taking care of her animals until we’re all settled (aka: we buy our house and she moves back in here).

I’ve only gotten a couple pictures since they’re all still a bit nervous from the move. There’s 2 new inside cats, Loke and Kelly. They are both gorgeous and quite fluffy but Loke is by far the larger of the 2. Here she is but this picture does not do her girth justice. It’s pretty amazing so I’ll try to get another shot soon.

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Kelly is more skittish. She likes to hang out between the bed and the wall but has started sleeping on the bed sometimes at night. No pictures of Kelly yet.

Daisy is the new dog around town. She stays in the front yard, away from the chickens, but will probably come inside once the colder weather arrives. She’s a sweet girl, energetic but well behaved. We were slow to introduce Daisy to Kelsey. Because Kelsey is so submissive, there’s always a chance that new dogs will bully her. Luckily, when Sam and I took the dogs for a long walk yesterday, they sniffed butts a couple times on the sly but otherwise ignored each other. Here’s a shot of Daisy and some other ones I took while we were walking. It’s slowly starting to head into autumn so there’s splashes of color everywhere 🙂

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Beyond the new additions, we have a BIG announcement! Wicket, one of the pullets we added in this spring, has gone broody!! This means she sitting on eggs and (hopefully) will hatch them out towards the end of October! How egg-citing is that?! It’s even bigger news since 1) Wicket isn’t even a year old yet and 2) she an Ameraucana. Ameraucanas rarely go broody and, from what I’ve read online, have a reputation for being bad mothers. Hopefully, Wicket will rock out but we’ll have to watch her once the chicks are born to see how she handles it. We weren’t really planning to add to the flock so soon but decided to see how things go. We’ve given her 4 eggs. Since we only have 1 rooster, we know who the dad is. Gertie is an Ameraucana so we gave Wicket one bright blue eggs knowing this will be a pure Ameraucana. (Either Chewy or Athena will be the mom.)

The other 3 were harder choices but they will all be Easter Eggers. The general opinion is that Easter Eggers are any chickens that are part Ameraucana so they have the blue layers gene. The eggs are blue mixed with whatever the other breed lays. (Dark chocolate eggs from Marans mixed with blue gives you army green.) We can’t bred Derp because of her scissor beak so Derp and Nervous Nelly were both out. Their eggs are too similar to tell part.

The Golden Comets are commercial layers which means they tend to have more health problems but we really like a lot of their personality traits. Plus, those girls will eat ANYTHING whereas the Ameraucanas are picky. We decided to try one egg from them. The Dominiques and Black Australorps have similar eggs but we wanted both of those in the mix too. Sam thinks the Dominiques lay rounder eggs while the Australorps are larger and more oval so we toss one of each in the nest. We’ll see what happens! I’ll leave you with a (slightyly dark) video of Wicket being broody in her nest box. I love the noise she makes, like a tiny little Raptor!

Perfect Pot Roast?

I adore pot roast! Wash some veggie, chop them up, grab a roast and toss it in the crock pot…fast, easy, leftovers for days, what’s not to love? But, and I’m going to make that a big BUT my meat is always dry. It tastes great but so dry. I am determined to change this so I’ve been scouting around the interwebs for solutions.

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Sam’s mom moved back from Arkansas so I thought this was a great time to give it a go. My first idea: Definitely sear the roast in a cast iron pan. (Sam made some bone-in chicken breasts this way and they were A-MAZE-ING! So juicy, even when it was the leftovers from leftover night!!) Keep everything else the same but add the meat in when it was about halfway done or roast the meat separately in the oven. While I am convinced this would work, one of the reasons I love pot roast is the start it and forget it aspect. This solution didn’t really go with that mentality so I headed over to The Pioneer Woman to see what she had to say about the matter.

A note about The Pioneer Woman: She rocks! I don’t remember how I found her but I’m sure I was googling a recipe and her site popped up. Everything I’ve used from her, whether recipes or ideas or techniques, has been spot on awesome!

She, of course, has a post about pot roast so I read through her approach. A couple things really stood out: 1) leaving the potatoes out so it won’t get mealy 2) searing the onions and carrots and 3) adding beef broth. She does hers in the oven in a roaster and I really wanted to use the crockpot. (Translation: my roaster is packed in a box, God knows where, but my crockpot was handy)

So, feeling very chef like, I used what was available to me and winged it! I halved the onions and seared them in the cast iron skillet with olive oil. The carrots got the same treatment.

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The roast went in next for a quick searing. I added the beef broth and used a metal spatula to scrap the skillet out, getting all those nice tasty bits. This was tossed into the crock pot on low for about 5.5-6 hours.

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I lined a casserole dish with foil and layered in potatoes, jicama, beets (golden and red), parsnips with olive oil, salt and pepper. I covered with foil and put in the oven. I didn’t start it until about 4 hours later so not quite start it and forget it but very close. The veggies cooked for about 1.5 hours (I had a LOT packed in the casserole dish) on 350 degrees. No pictures of the final meal because we were hungry but it turned out delicious!

There were, of course, things I would do differently. I checked the crockpot about 3.5 hours in and realized the top of the roast was out of the broth so I flipped it. I would flip the roast halfway through and only cook for 4.5-5 hours. Other than that, more onions and carrots! Only 2 things to try next time so I think this can be named the (almost) Perfect Pot Roast!!

Ex-PEAR-imenting!

I was heading to a friend’s house for a little get together/brainstorming session and just wasn’t feeling my go-to pot luck dishes. When I was out picking up ingredients so I could make my roasted root veggies (again…le sigh), I spotted some organic pears on sale. Hit by a flash of inspiration, I decided to go for a dessert and try baked pears.

Once home, I gave the pears a quick rinse, cut them in half and scooped out the core with a spoon. After some internal debate, I notched out the flower end. I opted to keep the stems because it was pretty.

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I think pretty much anything taste great with cinnamon, brown sugar and butter so I went with those. I sprinkled the brown sugar on first. Next came a liberal dusting of cinnamon (I love it!) and a small pat of butter. I loaded them onto a foil lined pizza tray and popped them in the oven for 30 minutes on 350.

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They were alright for a first try but there are a few things I would do differently.

  1. Heavier on the brown sugar and mix with cinnamon before applying.
  2. Spices too concentrated. Rub spices onto pears instead of sprinkling.
  3. A bit buttery. Maybe melt butter and combined with spices? Lightly scored pears to allow flavor to penetrate?
  4. Suggestions for spice addition: star anise, clove
  5. Serve immediately from oven with scoop of vanilla bean ice cream!

I did come up with a brilliant idea for a different take. Goat cheese, honey and almonds?? Sounds delicious! It was super fast and made enough for me to take to the gathering with extra for home.

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Side note: I have my job back at Blue Mountain and will be starting next week! Woot, woot! Still plenty of time to craft and maybe even give this recipe another shot. Suggestions welcome 😉

It is TOTALLY official!

I went into Whole Foods today to sign my severance notice so I really, truly, absolutely don’t have a job! Wow! Except for 2 weeks 5 years ago, I have been gainfully employment since I was 15. (Earlier if you count babysitting, painting fences, yard work and any other manual labor I could convince my neighbors to pay me to complete.) I thought that I would have this, “Oh shit, what am I going to do?!” moment but it didn’t happen. I went to the gym, ran some errands and then headed into my previous job (Blue Mountain Pizza) to fill out an application. Ashely was working and let me know that a server had left recently so it looks like I might have a job! Not bad for a day’s work 😉 Heading in on Saturday to chat with the GM so it’s not a done deal but, just like everything else with this decision, it seems like things will fall into place.

While at Whole Foods, I gave Melissa the hat I made her last night. She loved it! Hooray! I took some pictures of it this morning but they are selfies in the bathroom so the quality isn’t great. Also, please excuse my workout clothes 🙂IMG_5176 IMG_5177 IMG_5178 IMG_5179

I’m still working on the design, which isn’t very clear in these shots. I’m making 2 connected tubes on the top to help it slouch back and because I thought it would look cool. Next time around, I need to make the tubes longer but I was very happy with the first trial. Plus, it’s cashmere so it’s super lightweight but nice and toasty and oh so soft! Fun fact, the legwarmers I made were the sleeves of this sweater.

Before I headed out this morning, I spent some time with the chickens. We’ve been having some serious rain due to the upcoming hurricane and the flock has not been happy about it. The rain stopped for a bit so a few opted to hang out on our deck’s railing, preening. From left to right, we have WhoDat, Selena, Athena, Speedy and Gertie.

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Gertie was identified as a girl when he was a chick so we named him Gertrude and called him Gertie. When we realized he was indeed a he, we thought about changing his name. He had broken a toe as a chick but we didn’t see it until it was too late to set it so we were going to go with Bender (a robot from one of my favorite shows, Futurama) but it was just too late. He was Gertie and would be forever.

Other than that, I did some chores around the house, chatted with my folks and cooked dinner when Sam came home. I think I could get used to this no job life.

Change Is In The Air

Lots and lots of new things have been happening. Quick recap of our year: We decided to buy a house, looked at so many we lost count, found one we liked, and decided to buy it. Sam was going to come work at Whole Foods, Whole Foods decided to restructure and I decided to take the severance package they offered me. We decided to pass on the house and, boom, here we are.

It’s kinda odd but I’m feeling really good about all of it. I was really sad about the house but then a strange zen, calm came over me. It seems like this is exactly where we are supposed to be. Anyway, fall brings around change and I feel like this is going to be great for us!

Sam and I spent the day running errands, cleaning the house and organizing our boxes. We packed up quite a bit in preparation for the move so today was deciding what to keep packed and what to unpack. Some decisions were easier, like all my fall jackets, but other things were hard. In the end, we left all the books packed up, DVD’s, and most of the craft supplies but I did bust out all the basic sewing equipment.

I’ve been feeling super crafty recently and hated having everything packed up. Tonight, I worked on a new pattern for a hat and made one for my friend, Melissa. Then I made some sweet cashmere legwarmers for myself. I used some Wonder Under and added on a chicken applique, a rooster on the right leg and a hen on the left. Pretty productive for my first day job-less 😉 Can’t wait to see what I get done tomorrow! (Note: WordPress is listing this as October 1st, but it was September 30.)


  

Sharing Some Pictures

My sister and I took her kids to visit my parents last April at their river house. Recently, they asked me to send a few pictures their way from the visit. I, of course, can’t choose just a few so I’ve pulled 35. My email will only let me attach 3 at a time so I’m opting to share the pics this way. I don’t have to send out a butt-ton of emails and they don’t have to sort through said butt-ton of emails. Win-win!IMG_0784 IMG_0785 IMG_0792 IMG_0804 IMG_0809 IMG_0849 IMG_0851 IMG_0874 IMG_0955 IMG_0968 IMG_0978 IMG_0983 IMG_1011 IMG_1039 IMG_1060 IMG_1067 IMG_1079 IMG_1082 IMG_1133 IMG_1156 IMG_1160 IMG_1166 IMG_1183 IMG_1189 IMG_1203 IMG_1220 IMG_1234 IMG_1239 IMG_1240 IMG_1255 IMG_1256 IMG_1274 IMG_1286 IMG_1290 IMG_1293