Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Baby Wiles Ultrasound 06/10/10

Keeping Chickens

So... yes.  We haven't been inside over the last 10 days (it seems like).  And can you blame us?  Its been so nice outside.  We are making every excuse to be outside enjoying this beautiful weather. 

Since I last blogged, Little Man and I have tended the garden, played with the neighbors' kiddos, played in C's "park" (playset), hung multiple loads of laundry outside to dry (thanks hubby for the bonafide line), taking numerous nature walks, fished in the pond, and WE GOT MORE CHICKENS!!

Poor Lady, our Light Brahma Hen, has been flying solo since the nasty coyotes, hawks, and dogs snatched up her buddies this past fall/ winter seasons.  My dear friend Nicki lent us a few hens to keep her company.  I swear to you she was depressed without any other hens to boss about.  After a trip to an auction left us empty-handed yet again, I went in search of young hens on Craigslist. 

Luckily, my first search directed us to a farm in nearby Auburn.  I madesure my father-in-law was with us then we went that day to get some chickens!  The farm was amazing.  The had so many breeds!  C loved the chicks.  I loved learning about different breeds.  Jerry (the FIL) loved cathcing up with the gentleman, who it turns out was an old aquanitance.  Small World!

We decided on 5 hens.  All just at the age of laying.  3 Black Orpington and 2 Black Cochins.  They are all small but I am encouraged by the size their stock is and how well they were cared for.  They both are supposed to be relatively good layers and are very docile.  Great for my buddy that thinks they are his stuffed animals still.  Have mercy on their litle bodies!

A few days after getting the girls home and settled, my Sister-in-law sent me a video (to her defense it was my step-brother's idea) of the "I Can't Believe Its Not Butter" commercial of the lady blow drying her chicken in the kitchen to "fluff" her eggs.  This got me to thinking, "what exactly does my family think I do?..."

So this one is for all my friends/ family out there.  Call me when you want some fresh eggs!


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Nutella Banana Swirl Muffins

As with all my new recipes, someone is due a thank you.  This one came from Pinterest.  Hop on over to this original recipe and give them credit!  They deserve it because these are awesome!

The recipe I found on pinterest has been on my clipboard in the kitchen for a week just waiting to be made.  This morning afforded us just enough time to get them made, with the help of my buddy.  He LOVES to help in the kitchen.  He'll be a catch for some lady... when he's thirty forty.

He was helping to whisk the dry ingredients here.  Notice the lovely bouquet he picked yesterday!

I know this recipe calls for Nutella by name, but we used some of my favorite Trader Joe products.  I adore the coconut oil spray and the cocoa almond spread is delicious!  Just ask Little Man.  He licked the spoon dry.

Get a buddy to help you line your muffin pan with liners.  SO much better for cleanup.  And we need that around here, for sure!

** Also, notice Lightning McQueen.  Such a photo-bomber!**

If you're like me, you need the recipe handy, so here it is!

Nutella Banana Swirl Muffins
Yield: 18 muffins
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 medium over-ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line muffin pan with liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt until well combined. Set aside.

In large bowl, whisk together banana, sugar, brown sugar. Beat in egg, vegetable oil and vanilla extract. Slowly whisk in the flour mixture, until there are no lumps. Fold in pecans.

Fill muffin tins 3/4 full. Top each muffin with about 1 teaspoon of Nutella and use a toothpick to swirl it into the batter.

Bake muffins for 15-17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Serve warm or store in an airtight container until ready to serve.

With help from MyFitnessPal ap, I created the recipe and got these nutrition facts.  Hope this helps!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Pantry Organization- A Work in Progress

Let me preface this post by saying, "I am no expert, nor do I claim to organize to the best of my ability."  In fact, this whole stay at home thing is a work in progress for me.  Someday, I may be closer to getting it right, but we "ain't there yet" folks!  That being said, I am super excited about the progress being made in our household to organize.

With the help of my cousin, the Organizing GURU of Kentucky (she may get me for that one), I have made huge leaps in this process.  Over a year ago, I came home from the hospital with lots of ideas to fulfil.  One was to get things organized.  The pantry was a rough shape.  Especially after being MIA for 2 months.  Thankfully the expired items had been tossed in my absence, but the holes left only added to my instincts to get the space sorted out.

The first thing to accomplish was to completely empty the whole shebang (another Guru tip).  I trashed the items I had not used in years, didn't want, and didn't know I had...  Yes, I know... shameful.  Then, I mapped out a plan of what it should look like.  

My first purchase was from Target.  I found wire shelving on sale. The short, three level kind fit perfectly in the spot left below my installed wire shelving.  

Next, I found the canvas Walmart Bins at the top.  They are perfect for storing categorized items.  I use them for dry pasta, pasta meals (such as hamburger helper, etc.), rice and soup mixes, and baking mixes.  On a side note, since they were purchased and labeled I've gotten a printer and a Cricut.  New labels are in the works!
Below the canvas bins are my canned items.  I don't like to keep too many canned items.  In a perfect world, this shelf would be filled with my canned vegetables from the garden. I'm getting closer, but am not there yet!

On to the OXO shelf, my favorite shelf.  I found a set of the POP containers at Sam's and about had a moment when I saw the price.  After getting over the initial sticker shock I rationalized the price by comparing it to the individual pieces overall cost if  purchased at TJ Maxx.  It was a deal, so I bit the bullet and bought them.  And am I ever glad I did.  I smile every time I need something from one of these handy dandy containers.  With a little help from my Cricut, I even made my first project, labels for the POP Containers.  Like I said, it makes cooking even more of a joy.

Below my happy shelf, I have my three tiered shelves from Target.  The one on the left, is a Little Man friendly zone.  Snacks that are handy for his height.  I have storage for his drinks that have not yet made it to the fridge, a special treat bin (for extra good behavior), a breakfast bar and healthy snack bin, and a LM exclusive snack bin.  In between the red bins, (purchased for $1 each at the dollar store) I have goldfish crackers in another container, and some emptied and cleaned creamer containers.  They work great for a snack on the go of goldfish cracker or nuts, which are also located in this area.  Below the bins I have a spare garden basket filled with melamine plates and cups for LM.  They are handy when friends come over, so we haven't packed them away quite yet. 

On the right side I keep bread, chips, my dutch oven, tortilla shells, and pizza crusts, and extra disposable cookware/ bake ware for "meals to be delivered" without the need to have the dish returned.  Potatoes and onions are on the bottom, as well as extra snap containers.  Someday, I'd like to get a root vegetable bin like my grandmother had in her kitchen.  The kind that are wooden and say Taters on the top preferably.  I'm such a nerd. 

At the very top, I store my slow cookers, canner, pressure cooker, and rarely used items.

As I type this, my mind is racing with ideas to improve upon this most recent version of the pantry.  Alas, it is spring, the garden needs some love, our preschool program is in gear, and sometimes we just need to be silly and play outside.  It may be a while before improvements are made again.  I'll enjoy what is done so far.  After all, it is a HUGE improvement over what was here 1.5 years ago.

What are you doing to tame your mess this spring?  Please share and let me know!!  I love inspiration. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Lego Town

Disneyworld was a great trip for our family.  So many memories.  We loved all the parks and "firsts" the trip held for us and little man, but perhaps one of the most unexpected surprises was LM's excitement about Legos.  The Lego Store in Downtown Disney was awesome.  They even had a play area inside for the kiddos to create in. 

It was so much fun coordinating with Santa and finding the perfect Lego for our creative buddy.  From the day the table arrived, it has held a permanent place in our living room.

Yesterday, we spent some time creating a Lego town.  I know, I know, I'm partial, but LM is so creative.  Let me explain with pictures.

The is Lego Man's tool truck.  It is even
equipped with a spot for him to hang his hat!

This is a bird's eye view of the whole she-bang!
Office/ Observation deck on top of the tunnel, slide,
Entrance up the stairs to the office, two car garage,
workshop for the big vehicles, secret entrance, and
work vehicles.

Observation deck/ office and tunnel below.  Large
enough for his Iron Man car!
I'm just amazed at how his 3 year old mind can come up with such great, imaginative, designs.  He takes my breath away!

March Winds bring April Showers bring May Flowers

Onions were started in early February. 
Just look at them go!

As long as I can remember,
 I've always thought of a verse my mother taught me when my birthday came each year...

March Winds bring April Showers bring May Flowers.  

It is a glimpse of hope at the end of the cold winter, a reminder that this too shall pass.

I have much thanks to give to my friend Courtney.  She taught me to can, and told me about keeping a garden before I realized how therapeutic and relaxing it can be.  after that first season of canning with her family, I have been hooked.  Clint and our families have helped me to keep a vegetable garden, and each year it seems to get better.  A lot due to their help, and my own trial and errors.  Since last year, I have tried to take that gardening a step further and has chose to garden using heirloom seeds.  What are heirlooms, you ask? 

The company I purchase from, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds promises that their seeds are non-gmo, non-hybrid, non patented, and non treated.  What I love about them could be a post in itself, but to keep it simple, I like knowing that my seeds were grown the way God intended them to be, with sunshine, water, and a little TLC from a gardener's hands.  The same seeds that I can potentially grow in my garden, not altered in any way, can be traced back to seed used in Monticello, or even my grandmothers garden when my father was a crawling tot.  That legacy is worth a few pennies extra if you ask me...

These little beauties are carrots.  Hopefully,
they are super sweet!
Okay, I'm stepping off my soapbox now.  Back in January, I sat down with my seed catalog, garden planner, and some scrap paper.  After selecting what I wanted to grow, I spent a few days researching how best to lay out the garden, and then ordered our seed.  It was so exciting to see that package arrive with our garden inside!

The planner Clint gave me a few Christmases ago is so helpful,  I was able to pin point when the plants should be started indoors to get the best jump start on the growing season.  Things have been so busy at work for Clint, my greenhouse kit hasn't been assembled yet.  Never fear... Our house has lots of sunlight and windows!

A few clear totes, seed starting mix, and pots were the only things needed to get our make shift greenhouse operating.

And our most recent planting of tomatoes.
This is a Roma.  Can we say tomato sauce?

We are a few days into the new spring season and already we have seedlings showing themselves.  The onions, eggplant, carrots, tomatoes, and peppers are all growing.  Little man calls them baby plants and he takes his job of spraying them with water very seriously.  I'll be sure to update the page with more pictures as our garden comes along.

  Mary, Mary quite contrary how does your garden grow...

   Well here in Kentucky, we're feeling quite lucky,

       The seedlings are putting on a show!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Dinner Score!- Chicken Penne Bake

I'm always super excited when I see a recipe on Pinterest that I think my boys will eat.  Although the hubby isn't a fan of pasta, who wouldn't love a recipe that combines pasta, tomato sauce, cheese, and chicken. C'MON :)  So it tickled me pink to see this little beauty yesterday.  Thanks Lindsay!

Yesterday, we had some colder that usual weather for this time of year; after all, it is SPRING, so it was a perfect day to try a hearty meal like the one listed below.  Please overlook the patio that clearly needs to be scrubbed and look at the big FLAKES!  Oh my!

I'll post the recipe here for those of you like me that hate following endless links...

  • 1 (16 oz) box regular or whole wheat penne pasta
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 6 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 (24 oz) jar tomato sauce
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided


 1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a small baking dish, and bake the chicken 25-30 minutes or until it is no longer pink in the center. Cut into bite-sized pieces, and then shred using a fork.

2.  At the same time, cook the pasta according to package directions.

3.  When finished cooking the pasta, add the spinach into the hot water with the pasta and stir just until the spinach wilts. Pour the pasta and spinach into a colander to strain.

4.  Pour the sauce into a large pot, and add the spices. Simmer over low-medium heat. Add in the shredded chicken and stir until well-combined.

5.  In a large bowl, combine the chicken and pasta mixtures with half the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.

6.  Pour into a greased 9×13″ baking dish, and sprinkle with the other halves of the cheeses.

7.  Bake 20 minutes or until heated through.

I followed the recipe pretty closely but I varied it in these ways...

1. I used fresh basil left over from our super basil plant that has survived the last 13 months.  So worth the $1 Tutu spent on it at the dollar aisle at Target!

2. I used a tri color penne.  Not that it should make that much difference in taste (I had to ask Sarah to make sure).

3.  Instead of Parmessan cheese I substituted an Italian shredded cheese blend from Aldis (Side note- I love cheese from Aldi's AMAZING and the price rocks also).

4.  I used our homemade/ canned spaghetti sauce from the garden instead of tomato sauce. 

And that's it!  I hope you enjoyed it as much we did.  I also made some cheesy toast to go along with our yummy pasta. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Easter Egg Craft with Little Man

This week we decided to get a jump start on decorating for Easter (even though Mom didn't post about it until today)!  
Collecting the ingredients for our Easter Craft!  The recipe for salt dough is SO easy;

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup water

We mixed ours together using my kitchenaid mixer (first, the mixing paddle; then, the dough hook) until a dough forms.  We kneaded the dough a few time and... it was ready to play with!

Little man has his own roller and had so much fun getting the dough smooth and prepped for cutting out.  We left it about 1/4 inch thick.

We chose an Easter Egg shape (for obvious reasons) but you could use any shape!

A straw worked perfectly for making a hole for the ornament to be strung later after they were baked.

After our ornaments were ready, we baked them in a 250 degree F oven for 2 hours.  Put those puppies in and do something FUN while you wait!
We used a cookie sheet for a working surface.  I was brave enough to use acrylic paint, but any kid friendly paint would have been fine.

I think Little Man did GREAT decorating his ornaments.  We had some left over dough, so we made a cross as well to remember why Easter is such an important event!

Thankfully, the trees were just beginning to bud out.  We went on a hunt for strong branches and cut a few.  I used a left over tin bucket from his birthday and filled it with landscaping rocks.  I topped it off with some spanish moss from Hobby Lobby.  We strung the ornaments usings jute string.

We had so much fun decorating our little Easter Tree.  LM loves showing it off (especially to his Daddy when he got home)! 

Welcome SPRING and EASTER!!  What are you doing to celebrate; Our Savior is RISEN!