November 30, 2012

Turkey Stock

I am big on making my own stock.  I don't know why it is something I enjoy so much, but turning what I used to think of as trash into a tasty and nutritious stock that I can then freeze and enjoy later is a big deal for me.  This years turkey was no exception.  The fact that I already have the turkey carcass and really only need to add water seems like an economical choice.  You want to use as much of the animal as possible, and having the ability to make organic turkey stock, which probably sells for $4/box at the grocery store, is a great option.


I roasted an 18 pound turkey this year.  Quite large for a meal for five people - two of which are the 4 and under crowd.  But, the purpose I had was to have enough leftovers to freeze, and to also have the opportunity to make turkey stock which I could then put in the freezer for soup this winter.

It is incredibly easy to make your own turkey (or chicken!) stock.  All you need is a big pot of water and a turkey carcass.  Pretty simple, right?  I spend the afternoon picking the turkey relatively clean of dark and white meat, and then I put the leftover bones and skin, and other bits of meat that I didn't pick off, and store it in the fridge until the next day when I can think about using the stove again :-)


The next morning (or in my case Saturday morning) I fill up my stock pot with water, add a pound of carrots and a few onions, celery if you have it, maybe what is left of the fresh parsley you probably had on hand for Thanksgiving anyway, and let it simmer for the day.  I have to tell you, it smelled like I was making Thanksgiving dinner all over again, and by 11am we were all lined up in the kitchen for leftovers :-)

This year I was able to make 5 quarts of turkey stock, which went right in the freezer.  I probably could have made more, possibly simmering the bones a second time, but I felt like 5 quarts of stock was a great addition to what I already have in my freezer.  Now I have stock available for quick soups this winter, and anything that helps me get a leg up on cooking prep makes me happy!

What did you do with your turkey carcass?  If you got rid of it, do you think you might try making your own turkey stock next year?

November 29, 2012

What (or who!) are you playing for this Christmas?



I have been talking a lot about Christmas this week.  I am finally in a good groove and getting into the holiday spirit.  Going into the holiday season (which I think started the beginning of November for me!), I spent a lot of time thinking about what I really wanted for this year.  What is important for my family, for me?  What activities do I want to actually accomplish this year instead of just thinking about them.  Finally, I was able to step back and visualize what I wanted.  I want to have fun!


See those two crazies up above?  They are my life.  I have wanted to make their childhood memorable.  I am a stay at home mama, and I love it.  I want them to have experiences that they think back on when they are older and say how fun it was.  This year is the first year that I really feel like the kids are going to be fully involved in all of the Christmas preparations.

And honestly, I am playing for these two.

I have my magical Christmas memories from when I was younger, now it is their turn.  I get to see the joy in their eyes when I turn the tree lights on or I bring up a new Christmas craft to do with them.  Or let them help me bake cookies.  When they see the first snowflakes.  It is all about allowing them the opportunity to experience, and then watching them enjoy it.

When I was growing up, we would go to a movie on Christmas.  It was something my brother and I always talked about, trying to figure out which one would be the best one to go to.  This year a great choice I think would be Playing for Keeps (hello Gerard Butler!).  It is a romantic comedy about a former soccer star who returns home to put his life back together and rebuild his relationship with his son.  Watch the preview below:


What do you think?  What are you playing for this holiday season?  Are you looking forward to new memories this Christmas for your kids and/or yourself?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

November 28, 2012

Epiphany

I had an epiphany yesterday, realizing that it was ok to not get all the crafting done that I wanted.  I am seriously behind on Christmas knitting this year.  I had grand plans to start in July, and I did - on some things for my kids.  I had grand plans in August, and then it didn't pan out.  I ended up missing September somehow, although I had my list ready.  And then October came and we were busy...and November we were busy.  Now it is almost December, and I haven't knit much of anything.

At first I was really stressed out.  I knew what I wanted to knit, and I knew that there was no way to get it all done.  And then I thought about the past few years when we have had a mainly handmade Christmas, and how stressed I was in the week leading up to Christmas.  I didn't want to go through that again.

However, I have to say that I feel inadequate about it.  I visit the most beautiful knitting and crafting blogs, and I think to myself, "why can't I do that?!"  I realize that what is on a blog is not always the full picture, but sometimes it is dis-heartening to realize how behind I seem to be.

Instead, I am looking forward to the time I will be spending with my kids and husband this year.  I won't be holing up in my craft room while the kids and Matt are downstairs playing - just so that I can get one more gift mostly done.  And I am finally OK with it.  That isn't to say there won't be any handmade gifts this year, absolutely there will be, but they will be fewer, and that is OK.

All that to say that I am still knitting a scarf for my niece.  I really like how it is coming along, and I have some great ideas for my other niece as well.  My own kids seem to come up with insane lists of things they want me to knit, but the one that seems to be shining the most these days are some little knit dolls - which luckily knit up super fast!

As far as reading goes, we have been reading The Christmas Day Kitten as often as possible.  It seems to be Emma's favorite story right now.  Although this then goes into the whole "I want a pet" discussion.  To which I try to tell her the chickens are our pets (sort of!), and that doesn't seem to work for her.  I don't foresee any Christmas pets making an appearance, but I can definitely see birthday pets in her future...

I am joining in to see all the loveliness on the yarn along

November 27, 2012

A Stress Free Christmas - Part One

Every year I want to have a stress free holiday season, and every year it ends up flying out the window right about the time we finish decorating our tree the weekend after Thanksgiving.  This year, I am going to actively seek peace during the month ahead.  At least that is my plan!

I have been thinking about what Christmas means to me a lot in the past couple of years.  Obviously, as a Christian, it is when we celebrate the birth of Jesus.  What a wonderful and joyous time that should be!  My dream for Christmas is to be able to spend time with friends and family, eat good food, and just show our love to each other.  Unfortunately, I think that all too often, the Christmas holiday centers around presents.

All you have to do is look at the Black Friday craziness.  I talked last week about how much I love Black Friday.  I totally do.  It is for different reasons than what the purpose of the day is.  I love to get out and get into the spirit of the holiday.  To see everyone out and about and seeing all the decorations up, it is fun for me.  I'm not as much into the shopping, more the overall people watching and spending time with my family.

I'm not saying that I won't give my kids presents.  I will.  I'm not saying I won't give other people presents.  I will.  For the past several years I have gone to great lengths to do a lot of handmade gifts.  It is something that I love to do.  I feel like I pour a lot of myself into whatever I make, and I get so excited to see people open what I have made for them.  Unfortunately, that is a lot of pressure.

Up until a couple weeks ago I was set for another handmade holiday.  But, things kept coming up which continued to delay my start time on a lot of presents, and I was busy enjoying life with my babes and husband.  Then I decided that we would take a homeschooling break between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I realized that I didn't want to spend all of that extra (ha!) time making presents and meeting deadlines.  Instead I wanted to be able to enjoy the season.

So, this year I am backing off on presents, and handmade presents in particular.  There will still be some handmade things, but maybe they won't be as elaborate as my original plans.  We will give to the kids in our lives and visit with the adults instead of putting that added pressure to have the "perfect" gift.

I think this is going to go a long way in helping my stress level around Christmas.  And it will also help me from staying up all hours of the night the few days before Christmas to finish sewing or knitting or gluing or nailing something!

What about you?  Do presents take over during your holidays?  Do you love it, or does it cause you more stress?  Do you switch out handmade for bought presents and then stress when you don't complete those gifts on time?

Linking up at the Hip Homeschool Hop and Artful Tuesdays

November 26, 2012

Leftover turkey for...the chickens?

I feel a little weird about writing this post.  I mean, it seems a little strange to me that I would feed my poultry some other poultry.  However, I did a lot of research about this, and figured that I might as well give my omnivorous chickens leftover turkey.  And I have to say that they seem to like it, so that is a plus in my book.  I am all about using as much of an animal as I can, especially considering we don't eat an awful lot of meat in this house.  Throwing bones and extra meat to the chickens to pick at seemed like a good idea.


And I have to be honest, we have given our chickens leftover scrambled eggs.  I do like that the chickens eat all of our veggie scraps, but to have them also eat other foods that we would typically put in the trash is definitely an added benefit of owning the chickens.  I like to know that they are eating well.  Organic veggie scraps, and now turkey, are all great foods for them.


The fact that the chickens are omnivores is something a lot of people don't realize.  Before we had chickens when I would buy eggs at the store, I was always slightly concerned to read on the organic egg cartons that the chickens were fed an all vegetarian diet.  It seems so strange.  I can understand that there have been issues with what is in chicken feed in the past - that no living thing should actually consume - but instead of correcting commercial feed, it seems they have come up with an alternative that probably isn't healthy for the animal either.


Do you feed your chickens leftovers?  Did you give them the turkey after you were all done with it?  Anyone else's chickens go crazy over scrambled eggs?

Linking up with the Barn HopArtful Tuesdays and Your Green Resource

November 23, 2012

The Black Friday that wasn't...

You know how yesterday I said I planned to go out today shopping...well I haven't left the house.  I think I may have underestimated how tired I would be cooking for two days straight!  Instead, I slept in until 7am (absolutely unheard of!), and am enjoying coffee this morning while watching tv.  Totally lazy day ahead?  Absolutely!

I still expect that I will go out at some point, but maybe not.  We will be preparing our house for putting up our Christmas tree tomorrow, and all the other decorations as well.  It is a tradition in our home to do the tree right after Thanksgiving, and I am looking forward to it.

I have to say that this year I am looking forward to a stress free Christmas season.  It seems every year I have a million plans and the majority of them don't work out.  So this year, instead of stressing, I am taking a step back.  We are going to spend a lot of time with family.  We are practicing saying "no" to commitments that we really don't need to have.

I'm ready to enjoy time with my family, and to do all the Christmas crafts that the kids want to do.  Baking and watching Christmas movies, listening to Christmas music all day long.  I am excited!  This is the my favorite time of year, and with two little babes who really understand all the family and food (and presents), it is going to be that much sweeter!

Are you hoping for a stress free holiday?  Is it something you strive for, but never seem to accomplish?  Do you have any tips to share?

November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Well!  I didn't expect to be gone the past couple of days from blogging, but I was.  I am here today to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!  Enjoy all the food and the family!

We are having Thanksgiving at home this year, and I am very excited about it.  It is going to be the four of us and my mom, but for some reason I am still cooking like my brother and his family will be coming as well (ok, mainly my brother!).  On the plus side, I don't think I will need to cook until Christmas.

I am also planning on going out on Black Friday.  I know that a lot of people don't like it, but it is something that I love.  Growing up there wasn't really any talk of a Black Friday...and even if there was we didn't really have any stores available to go to.  But, my mom, brother and I would go to LL Bean every year after Thanksgiving dinner.  We rarely bought anything, but it was fun to go and walk around.

And now, I get the paper on Thanksgiving morning, look through all the ads, and realize I won't be buying anything save for a few craft supplies.  Then I head out way too early in the morning and I get a coffee and walk around.  I love the energy of the people, and even though it can sometimes be insane, for the most part I find it to be a fun time for all of us!

Are you hosting Thanksgiving this year?  Do you think you might brave the crowds tomorrow morning?

November 19, 2012

planting garlic


I just planted my garlic.  I was a tad concerned since we already had snow once.  Luckily, the snow melted away, and this past week had warm temperatures.

This is only my second year planting garlic.  Last year I also planted it, just as a test run, to see if I could make anything grow.  It seems strange to put something in the ground before winter, let it sit all winter long, and then come spring, it pops out of the ground.  The garlic grew relatively well this past summer.  I did have a bit of a pest problem, as in something ate half of the garlic under the ground.  I'm still not clear on what it was, but am assuming some type of mole or vole.  - Has anyone else had that problem before?

This year I planted the garlic where the rest of my garden will be come next spring.  The chickens did a nice job taking all the weeds and grass away, so I figured it would be a good spot.


Garlic is very easy to plant.  Each clove of garlic will produce one head of garlic the following summer.  All you need to do is stick a clove of garlic 2-3 inches into the ground with the pointed side up.  Plant the cloves about 6 inches apart and then cover with mulch.  Last year I used newspaper because I had a bunch stacked in my house, and it worked just fine.  But, you can also use leaves and straw I believe.  In the spring, when you see the green shoots coming out of the ground, pull back the mulch and let it grow grow grow.


Now after you grow your garlic bulbs, you can then use those for planting the next fall.  I, of course, did not plant nearly enough garlic last year to do that.  In fact, I think we had eaten all the garlic I had grown by September.  Needless to say I will be planting garlic from our CSA this year, and from the farmers' market.  If you don't have a farmers' market, I have heard people buying garlic at the grocery store and using that as well.

I grow the hardneck variety.  It isn't able to be braided, but it gives lovely scapes in the early summer, and seems to last all winter long (well, at least the kind that I have gotten from our summer CSA does!).


Do you grow garlic?  Do you have a favorite variety?

I'm linking up at the Barn Hop

November 16, 2012

Preparing for the glut of the holidays

I am still in denial about next week being Thanksgiving and the official start of the holidays.  Even more so because we will be celebrating "Mocksgiving" with Matt's family tomorrow.  I have to say that I don't hold back when it comes to the holidays and food.  Food is a huge part of the holidays for me.  I want to enjoy every single bad thing that I can...it is only once a year after all.

Of course, more recently, it seems like we have one continuous celebration between Thanksgiving and New Years.  Partly because we are celebrating with my family and my husband's family, so it ends up being a lot of busy weekends filled with food.  Add in our own parties, and we are booked every week, and every week is filled with a lot of food!


Because I will be spending so many weekends eating food that I normally don't eat, I needed to come up with some type of plan to try and detox during the week.  My secret weapon is the green smoothie.  I have been drinking and writing about green smoothies for quite a while now, but I really believe they are that important.  Getting the amount of greens you can from a smoothie is a great way to help protect your health while you may not be eating all the healthy foods that you typically eat during the rest of the year.

My green smoothie recipe hasn't really changed, it is the one I make the most often, and the one my kids enjoy the most.  Essentially I fill a blender with baby spinach or kale, add a banana, a cup of frozen blueberries, and a cup of frozen strawberries.  Put in enough water to blend it all together - I think I use between 2 and 3 cups, and then blend away.


The kids both drink a pint each during the day, and then I drink a quart and whatever else might be left over. It is a perfect snack because it fills you up, and it is something that you can sip over a longer period of time.  Now, when it is super cold outside, a green smoothie isn't always my first choice for a snack - bread and butter is more my thing - but, it is important to make sure you incorporate something healthy and light during the week so that you are able to indulge over the weekends.

Do you have a health plan going into the holidays?  Or do you treat it as a "once per year" type of deal and go nuts?

November 15, 2012

Coffee Talk!


I know I have said it before, but I love coffee!  I am mainly a coffee and cream kind of gal.  I think it is because my mom always drinks her coffee with just cream.  I don't typically fall into the sweet coffee creamer camp...ever.  I try it, but it always seems too sweet to me.  Well, that has all changed now.  I found this beauty at the grocery store yesterday, and it hasn't been a disappointment this morning!

Do you enjoy holiday flavors in your coffee?  And Emma was adamant that her puppy needed to be in the picture.  Now onto more holiday preparations!

November 14, 2012

Christmas crafting has begun!

It took me a while to get here, but I am finally immersed in Christmas knitting.  I found a really nice cotton to start knitting my niece a scarf.  I made her one a couple years ago, but as kids usually do, she has gotten quite a bit taller!  So I think a new scarf is in order.


Of course, once I started knitting this scarf, Emma immediately demanded a new scarf for Christmas as well.  I think that I will make her a cowl that she can wear around the house this winter.  She sees me knitting quite a bit, and gets little ideas while I am knitting for others what she wants for herself.  It is cute.


As far as anything else on the needles, well there isn't anything.  I am still trying to get into a groove with knitting for Christmas, and although I like to have several projects going at the same time, at this stage in the game I really need to concentrate on finishing one project before starting a new one.  Then at least I will have one present done instead of several half finished projects!


As far as books go, I have nothing new at the moment.  Too many things going on to look for a new book for myself right now.  We are fully into holiday books at this point.  And that is keeping me busy enough for the kids and for me!  I don't expect to be reading anything besides recipes until Christmas is over.  At which point I hope to have some gift cards to Barnes and Noble that I can use!

Linking up at the yarn along today!

November 13, 2012

Preparing for a Long Homeschooling Break

When I was doing school with Emma yesterday, and looking ahead to next week, I realized that next week is Thanksgiving!  Now, I know I have been talking about the holidays...well...since last years holidays ended, but it definitely arrived faster than I was prepared for.  Does anyone else feel that way?

We are planning on taking quite a large break, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, this year.  I have talked before about schooling year round, and I am happy that we have the option to take a long break when we want it.  But, that doesn't mean that we will stop learning as soon as the turkey is put in the oven.  We still will be learning, but it will be concentrated in different areas.

I plan to continue my series on the first Thanksgiving, which we have been working on last week and this week.  Emma has really enjoyed seeing the fact vs. the myth of the first Thanksgiving or harvest celebration.  Learning that the foods they probably ate are not what we associate with Thanksgiving today.  All of it is extremely interesting to me, I love history, so any time when we can concentrate on a specific piece of history is enjoyable for me.

After Thanksgiving, we will move into the Christmas season.  I will have a lot of Christmas books on hand.  In fact, Emma has been asking me for Christmas books and movies the past couple of weeks, and I think she has already watched Rudolph on netflix.  I blame the fact that Christmas decorations are up at Target already :-)  We will also be spending a lot of time in the kitchen.  I let the kids be fully immersed in the cooking experience.  It definitely does not make it easier to have them right there with me, but I feel like I am teaching them valuable life skills (making fudge and cookies count as life skills, right?!).

Because I do so much baking and cooking already, it is common place for them to be in the kitchen.  But, we will be doing a lot more baking...baking with recipes, something I rarely do.  And that allows us to work on math, without knowing we are working on math.  Anything that takes the rigidity out of a subject makes me happy, and baking as math is my favorite way!

I also hope to have Emma help sign all of our Christmas cards this year, so that she can practice writing her name.  She is pretty good at it, but practice is always helpful, and if she wants to write a little note with mama's help, all the better.

Even though we are officially taking a "break" from school between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, we won't actually be taking a break.

Do you take a large break during the year?  How do you plan for that?  Do you still find learning opportunities to incorporate even if it isn't from a curriculum?

Linking up at Hip Homeschool Hop and Titus 2sday

November 12, 2012

first winter CSA share!


Last week we picked up our first Winter Pantry CSA share.  I am so glad that we have this for the winter.  We are definitely lucky to have found an organic farm that does a winter share, especially considering we live in Maine.


Every year I plant a garden, and I always have high hopes that I will be able to plant a lot of really great vegetables that we can eat through the summer.  Unfortunately, I don't ever seem to plant winter storage vegetables.  Partly because we don't have a huge amount of space to grow all of the squash and potatoes that we would want.  The other reason is that we don't actually have a way of storing these vegetables - besides our refrigerator.


I would love to have a root cellar.  It is something that I keep joking with Matt about - that I will dig a hole outside and start sticking food out there.  We do have a cellar in our home, but like a lot of older homes, it definitely is not a dry basement.  In fact, every spring (and sometimes during the summer and fall), we have a little stream running through the basement.  Not necessarily the best storage location!  So until we find a suitable solution to our main issues, we will continue to support local farmers in order to get some delicious winter vegetables.


This week we were able to get the following:

Mizuna
Dill
Fennel
Carrots
Leeks
Raddicchio
Celery
Beets
Winter Savoy Cabbage
Carrola Potatoes
Acorn Squash
Delicata Squash
Garlic
Peppers
Scarlet Queen Salad Turnip
Peppers

All in all, I thought it was an excellent share!  We will continue to get shares every other week through March.  I am looking forward to getting the veggies that will grace our Thanksgiving table next week!

Do you get a winter CSA share?  What types of vegetables do you expect to receive?

I am linking up at the Barn Hop Rural Thursday and Your Green Resource

November 11, 2012

Sunday Quotes


So much has been given to me, I have no time to ponder over that which has been denied. ~Helen Keller

November 10, 2012

Bugging Out

It seems like I read a lot about bugging out, ie heading for the hills when some disaster happens (or zombies come for you).  I always have thought that I wouldn't really need to "bug out."  I am in an area that I know well, I have a lot of connections here to family and friends, and I know that I would be fine if something did happen.  But would I really?

After watching all the devastation from Sandy over the past couple of weeks, I realized that I may not be as safe as I think I am.  Natural disasters can happen anywhere.  I have written before about losing power for several days during an ice storm when I was younger, but if it had been a day or two longer, we would have had to figure something else out.  If Sandy had reached us with the same devastation, what would we have done?

It made me think more about starting bug out bags for our family.  Now I have been combing many different websites trying to figure out what should be included in these bags.  It seems pretty basic, some food, some water, some clothes, matches, flashlights.  I think that it is completely doable, shouldn't take a huge amount of capital, and it would give us some type of assurance if we did need to get out of dodge quickly.

Of course, then I thought about my kids.  I have a four year old and a two year old.  What exactly would we be able to do for them?  If we were walking somewhere, it would be very difficult to walk with two kids.  My older could definitely walk a while, but she would get tired, especially if we had to cover any type of distance, which means that we would both be carrying our bags, our kids, and bags for our kids.  Can anyone else see how this might be a challenge?

What is the solution?  I'm not entirely sure, and would love suggestions.  My hope is that we would never be in a situation where we had to bug out to begin with, and if we did, that we could use the car to get wherever we may decide to go (which reminds me...we should probably figure out where that place is).  But there is always the chance that we wouldn't have enough gas, or a way of getting more gas; and the whole point of this bug out scenario is to be prepared for the worst.

I plan to sit down with Matt and really formulate some serious plans about what our family would need to do in a disaster scenario.  Like I said, I never really considered having to leave, but maybe I should.  It seems that these "100 year storms" are happening a lot more frequently than the 100 years suggests.

Do you have a bug out bag?  Do you have young children?  What would your suggestions be for someone just starting out who has young children?

November 9, 2012

Some winners!

I just wanted to post about a couple of winners that I have had lately that I haven't heard back from.

The winner of the Peanuts daily flip calendar and 16 month family planner is Laurie Howell.

The winner of either one lotion bar and one chapstick - or - one pound of laundry detergent from Green Leaf Living is Bree Keyes.

If you both could e-mail me your address at hello@townsend-house.com, and Bree also include what your prize choice is, I would appreciate it!

If I don't hear from these winners in the next 48 hours I will choose new winners.  Thanks to all of you who have entered!  And don't forget to enter my Thanksgiving Kit giveaway which ends today and The Cravory giveaway, both going on right now!

November 8, 2012

The Cravory Review and Giveaway!



Have you heard of The Cravory?  If not, you can thank me later!  From their website:


The Cravory is home to over 950 customized cookie creations from sweet to savory. If you can imagine it, we can create it – whether it’s Savory Rosemary Balsamic, Pancakes and BaconRed Velvet, or Chocolate Chip. The Cravory Cookies are the ultimate cookie experience with a perfectly baked surface and a soft cookie center that melts in your mouth.


And they are not kidding.  These cookies have got to be the most flavorful, mouth watering cookies I have ever experienced in my life.  Yes, experienced.  That is exactly what you have when you try one of these.  I was given the opportunity to try some of these delicious cookies.  They definitely did not disappoint.  My mom even got in on the action saying they were the best cookies she had ever tasted.


They have the normal cookies that you would expect - like Ultimate Chocolate Chip - but then they also have an amazing selection of specialty cookies; Birthday Cake, Red Velvet, Chocolate Truffle.  And then we move into the strange yet delicious combinations; Rosemary Balsamic, Lemon Cherry Basil, and Pancakes and Bacon.


I think my favorite is the Birthday Cake variety.  I am a sucker for frosting, and this cookie is so sweet and delicious!  I have also tried the Pancakes and Bacon variety, and at first I was slightly concerned about trying it, but surprisingly it was really yummy!  I would never think to put bacon in a baked good, but now I am trying to think of other areas where bacon would add to sweets!  Emma and Jack LOVED the Ultimate Chocolate Chip, it was definitely the highlight of their week to have that as an afternoon snack.


They also allow you the opportunity to create your own cookies.  First you pick your dough, and then you can choose up to three "mix-ins."  This I haven't tried, but it seems like a great idea for holiday gatherings to show off that you created your own cookie especially for the event!  Or even as a wonderful gift.


The Cravory has been generous enough to offer one of my readers a dozen chef's choice cookies!  You will not be disappointed - except when they are all gone of course!  Please enter using the rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Linking up at Giveaway Day

November 7, 2012

needing motivation

I haven't been doing much knitting lately.  Well, I have, making mittens and hats for the kids, and starting on a couple Christmas presents.  But, for the most part I haven't wanted to pick up the knitting needles.  I finally realized what my problem was last night when I tried to cast on for something new, I need new yarn.  Of course I still have some yarn in my stash, but it is mainly leftover balls of yarn that I had used for other projects, yarn that I love, but not enough to make anything substantial.

So I am planning a couple of things.  The first is that I am going to make a trip to the craft store and buy some new yarn!  I also want to get some new craft supplies for the holiday season.  I have two very eager craft makers in my home (not including myself!), and they are ready to get their craft on for Thanksgiving...even though we just finished Halloween.  What can I say, they are a product of their mama!  I think the addition of some new yarn will help to motivate me to get started on those Christmas presents I was talking about way back in August!

The next thing that I plan on doing is going through my stash and seeing how much extra yarn I really have.  I want to get rid of the stuff that I am not going to use, and then the stuff that I still like, I think I am going to make a blanket.  I figure if I knit little squares it will be a good use of what is left, and make something usable for me.  I'm not sure I have enough for a large blanket, but a lap blanket would be nice too!

As far as reading goes, currently I am reading the Bible a lot.  I have been reading entire books as of late, and it really has been encouraging with everything that is going on in the world today.  I don't write a political blog, so I don't want this to become a political post, but I feel like we all need to be praying for the country, and the direction that we are headed.  We really are a great nation, and I hope that now that the election is behind us, we can all find some common ground and not be so polarized.  We shall see!

Joining in with Ginny today!

November 6, 2012

The First Thanksgiving

Emma and I are still plugging along with homeschooling, and it seems to be going quite well.  She is very attentive, and enjoys sitting and listening to all the stories, which is good since our curriculum is literature based...We do school early in the morning, and are often done by 9:30am, which is great!  Although, there are definitely times when Emma wants to keep going, so I have been trying to fill in with some more seasonal readings.

Yesterday we started a unit on the First Thanksgiving.  I say unit, but that might not be the correct word.  I don't have a unit all planned out, we are kind of just going with the flow and going wherever her questions lead.

We started out by using the history book we have from her curriculum.  It is the Usborne Internet Linked Children's Encyclopedia.  I really like this book.  It has just enough to get an overview of different subjects and gets the kids to ask questions.  After we read about the First Thanksgiving, I decided to look for some information from Plimoth Plantation.

Growing up in New England, it was one of the first really big field trips we took when I was in elementary school.  I fell in love with it immediately.  All those people living history.  Very cool.  It is still one of my favorite places to visit.

There are some amazing online resources about the people who settled at Plimoth and also about the Wampanoag Tribe and how they worked together.  This year there is also a video on the First Thanksgiving.  We haven't watched it yet, but it is on our list for today.  

Some other activities we have on the agenda leading up to Thanksgiving are making a menu of what would have been on the First Thanksgiving menu, as well as trying our hand (or Emma's) at making dolls and clothes for the dolls and little boats which is what the Wampanoag children did to learn the skills they needed when they were older.  

And since today is election day, we will also be taking a field trip up to our polling place to cast my vote.  I have done this for every election since Emma was born, and she really enjoys going.  It is a little crazier now with the two, but the ladies always enjoy watching me try to wrangle them into the biggest booth I can find!

Are you doing a Thanksgiving unit?  Have you started yet?  Do you do something special for voting?

I am linking up at Hip Homeschool Hop

November 5, 2012

cleaning out the chicken coop

We cleaned out the chicken coop this weekend.  It was a beautiful weekend for working outside.  A little chilly, but it made us work a little bit faster as well!  We are using the deep litter method for our chicken house.  It seemed like the best idea for us, and obviously the least amount of work.

What we do is we fill the floor of the house with pine shavings.  I know a lot of people use straw, but we like the pine shavings.  When they scratch the litter down, then we add more pine shavings.  It freshens everything up, and the chickens are always happy to scratch away at the new bedding.  I was then able to take the old bedding and spread it all over the garden.  It should give a good amount of fertilizer to my garden space, and then in the spring we (meaning Matt) can rototill the garden and just turn it right into the soil.

The ease of the deep litter method was the first reason that I chose that for our chickens, and the second is the ability of the bedding to act as insulation in the winter.  We really do not want to heat the chicken coop over the winter.  I have talked to several people that do, and several that don't around here.  The two farms we would buy eggs from do not use light, or heat lamps, but they also have more chickens than us.

As of right now it seems to be pretty warm in there.  We have had a few chilly nights, and when I go into their coop to let them out and fill their water up, it is like a blast of hot air when I open the door.  I don't know how this will be as the days and nights get cooler, but I am very hopeful that we won't have to use the heat lamp.  It is a danger that I am not sure I am ready for!

The other chicken related thing we did this weekend was put a top over their run, so they can't jump out of the fenced in area.  It is not my first choice to keep them in the run all day, but we had a little incident with the neighbors dog this weekend.  One of my chickens got nipped in the comb, there was a bit of blood, and a very scared chicken.  She is fine, and the others seemed to leave her alone.  But, it made me realize that we need to keep them in that run until we can get a fence around our yard - which will be moving higher on the priority list for spring.

Overall a very productive weekend, which was nice.  Of course I still have to plant my garlic...and I might need to do that today.  However, with temps only in the high 30's, it won't be as exciting as I hoped for!  My goal is to move very quickly :-)

Do you use the deep litter method for your chickens?

Linking up at the Barn Hop, Your Green Resource, Rural Thursday

November 2, 2012

Giveaways!

After posting every day in October, I figured I needed a light posting day today :-)  Instead I want to bring your attention to the three giveaways that are going on right now here!  You can always find my current giveaways on the right sidebar.

First up is an awesome giveaway from DaySpring for a Peanuts Daily Flip Calendar and also a 16 month Peanuts calendar - complete with stickers to help keep you organized!  This giveaway ends TODAY!  So make sure you get over there and enter before midnight tonight!

Next up is a giveaway from Green Leaf Living.  It is your choice of either a hard lotion bar and chapstick - or - one pound of laundry detergent!  Either of these would be wonderful for this time of year!  The lotion bar is amazing for keeping my hands soft and smooth!  And the laundry soap works amazingly well, and I have a lot of laundry to keep up with :-)  This giveaway ends TOMORROW at midnight!!!

Finally, I have a Thanksgiving Kit giveaway.  This giveaway has items from Williams Sonoma and also Sur la table.  It is perfect for right before the start of the holidays.  This giveaway goes until November 9th!

All of my giveaways use rafflecopter, which might seem a little scary, but it is actually very easy!  Sorry if anyone was trying to enter last night.  Apparently rafflecopter had a bit of a hiccup and was down for several hours.  Everything seems to be going well now though!  So come on over and enter if you haven't already!

Now I am ready for a very relaxing weekend - and hopefully trying to convince my chickens that they don't have a need to visit all the houses in our neighborhood...

November 1, 2012

Honey & Chili Glazed Sweet Potatoes and Thanksgiving Kit giveaway!



Don't forget to enter the awesome giveaway at the end of this post!  Items from Williams Sonoma and Sur la table!

Thanksgiving provides us with a wonderful opportunity to gather with family and friends and enjoy a lot of great food we normally do not eat.  Of course the turkey is always the center of the meal.  The past several years, however, I have been concentrating more on the vegetable portion of the Thanksgiving meal.  This is really the only time of year that we, as a country, eat the vegetables that are currently in season - the squash and turnip, potatoes and sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts etc.  The vegetable side dishes are a wonderful way to round out the perfect Thanksgiving dinner (along with the pie!), and Country Crock helps to make them even more delicious!


All the men on my husband's side of the family seem to have an issue with high cholesterol.  Add in the extreme amounts of butter that are used on this one holiday, it is enough to make anyone nervous.  I was really excited to find an alternative in Country Crock.  Country Crock only has 60 calories per Tablespoon, as opposed to 100 calories in butter, and only 2 grams of saturated fat, as opposed to 7 grams in butter.  The fact that there are 0 grams of trans fats, well it made me feel that much better about using it as a replacement.


I have been thinking about my Thanksgiving menu for a while now.  I know, we just finished Halloween!  But this year I will be having Thanksgiving at my house, and I always like to experiment with a few new recipes for sides since the turkey is inevitably the same every year.  I have been into a lot of spice as of late.  I don't know if it is because I just love spicy food (probably part of it!) or if I am looking for new flavors to combine with the old flavors of my childhood.  So I decided to try making Honey and Chili Roasted Sweet Potatoes.  I love roasted sweet potatoes, and thought the addition of chili powder and honey would give it a special twist for this special holiday. You can find more Thanksgiving vegetable side dishes at The Crock Country Chronicle In The Kitchen


Print recipe here

And for some more fun, one lucky reader will win an awesome Thanksgiving Kit which consists of:

Set of 4 Harvest Pumpkin Tiny Taper Holders
10" x 6" Italian Scalloped Bakers
13" Wire Baker Rack

Just use the rafflecopter below!  And good luck!  Remember, you can find more veggie tips, and recipes at Country Crock!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you to Country Crock for being a sponsor. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective. All opinions expressed here are my own.

Linking up at Giveaway DayRural Thursday, Homemaking