Saturday, June 28, 2014

Getting my crochet on...

My cousin Jennifer was visiting a few weeks ago and she brought some of her knitting and crochet projects with her.  I took her to the yarn shop here in town that I had never been to before.  I was immediately inspired to start crocheting again.  I went back to the shop yesterday and decided I really liked how this yellow and navy yarn went together.  I found a pattern for a sweet little retro chevron baby blanket on Pinterest.  I have a nice little project to work on Sunday afternoon.  I'll let you know how it goes!

 You can find the pattern here.

Have a lovely weekend everyone!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Putting food by...

Today was the day I tried for the first time to process my own jars of beef stew and make beef jerky.  So far it seems that it was all a success!

For the beef jerky I used just some meat from the store that was thin cut for making Carne Asada. I'm not sure exactly what cut of meat it is but it saves me the work of cutting it thin myself and it was a really nice price. I did a marinade of tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, a tiny bit of tamari (or soy sauce), garlic granules (not garlic salt) and lots of black pepper. I put it in a ziploc bag and let it marinade in the fridge overnight. I dehydrated it at 160 degrees for about 7 hours but it was probably done at about 5 or 6 hours. Then I put it in another ziploc bag (one that has a little pump to suck the air out), labeled it with the date and stuck in the freezer. You don't have to put it in the freezer but they say that it will stay fresher longer if you do and then pull it out right before you go hiking or camping. My husband and I shared a piece and we really liked the flavor.  It was just as good as anything from the store and it didn't have a chemically, salty aftertaste that I find with the ones from the store.  I plan on making lots more for all our camping and hiking this summer!

I used my pressure canner for the first time and was a bit nervous.  I had thoughts of my kitchen exploding but really it was a piece of cake and there are safety gadgets in place to keep any explosions from happening.  :)  I cut up stew beef, carrots, onions and potatoes to about the same size.  I made a big pot of my favorite "Better than Boullion" beef base for the broth.  I sanitized the jars and lids.  I put the meat in the bottom of each jar and filled it up with the veggies.  I then filled the jars with the hot beef broth and left 1 inch room at the top.  I processed them in the pressure canner at 11 pounds of pressure for 75 minutes.  Now we'll see if any of us keel over from botulism.  ;)  I made 10 pint sized jars.  We will try a couple out in the next week or two and if they are good then we will take the rest with us on our camping trips this summer.  I also want to can a chicken soup as well.

I would say today was very productive!  The kitchen is now clean and all put back together.  Now to go feed my little guy dinner (daddy is at work, sissy is at the movies), put him to bed and have some lovely quiet time.  :)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

A few of my favorite (homeschool) things...

 Here are just a few of my favorite items I have purchased over the past school year for Daniel

This lovely little clock has been so great for teaching Daniel how to tell time!  Most evenings before bed he asks me to "show me some times" (as he would say) and so I set up a time on the clock and show it to him and he tells me what time it says.  He has gotten so good at it now that we have moved on to the "grown up" clock in the dining room.
 This map of the United States I actually purchased as a puzzle.  He has taken it apart and put it back together countless times and is now able to name nearly all the states and some of the capitols. 
This world map I purchased as the map and is hanging in our schoolroom where he can easily look at it.  It's a very colorful fun map and Daniel and I both love it.

 I love all things "Melissa and Doug".  Their products are such good quality and a lot of them are made out of wood which I love. 

I discovered these little "Tell Me a Story" card packs at the local educational toy store and they are so much fun! They are story cards with no words just pictures so you pick cards and make up your own stories.  Daniel hasn't quite gotten the hang of it yet but I'll keep prompting him.  I am hoping this is something fun we can do in the car and while camping on our vacation the end of July.  
 I LOVE the Brain Quest card sets!  They keep Daniel's attention and they are at just the right level to stimulate his mind right where it is developmentally.  I highly recommend these for EVERYONE whether you are homeschooling or not. 
These little readers are so perfect for little minds that are just beginning to read.  Daniel loves them and I let him read them when he is going down for his afternoon rest time and even some evenings when he is going to bed and he hasn't quite lost all his energy yet.  He'll read them until he falls asleep.  He has started to recognize a lot of the words.  I have been doing lots of phonics flashcards with him and other little flash cards I have made myself.  I also really like  It is a great website that has lots of free phonics based games for him to play.  He thinks he's just playing games but he has soaked up so much from that website! 

This is just a sample of the things I have been using for school.  I will put up another post soon with more of my favorite homeschool things.  :)

Have a lovely first weekend of summer everyone!!! 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Well hi!

Well, it's officially been a long time since I wrote a post.  Actually I think it was officially a long time about 2 months ago. But here I am again.  :)

As you can see I finished my garden fence quite a while ago now.  It's very rustic but is very sturdy and fulfills its purpose very well...keeping the deer and rabbits out!  I built it so the gate to my chicken yard is inside my garden so you have to go into the garden to get into the chicken yard.  I designed it this way so that I can open up the chicken gate and let them roam around in my garden in the winter, eating bugs and fertilizing while they do it.  Eventually I will have their chicken yard stretch all the way around the perimeter of my garden so they can eat some of the pests and slugs that are making their way into my garden.  At the moment I have two Golden Sexlinks and two Barred Plymouth Rocks. My two Blue Wheaton Ameraucanas died suddenly, we think it was some kind of genetic defect and not a virus since my mother-in-law had some from the same group and hers did the same thing.  We had our first egg yesterday!!!  It was very soft as first eggs tend to be.  We think it was the larger of the two Goldens since she was up in the nesting loft a lot yesterday acting like she nesting and laying more eggs. 

The past couple of weeks have been filled with lots of celebrations! Daisy turned 18 AND graduated from high school!  Her plans are to head down to Portland on July 1st, get a job and share an apartment with her childhood friend Victoria.  

And Daniel turned FIVE!!  Where does the time go??!! 
He got his first big boy bike for his birthday.  Can't wait to take it camping with us so he can ride around the campgrounds like we did when we were kids! 

Homeschooling has been going really good and I will have another post about that up later on this week.  :) 

Have a lovely Tuesday everyone! 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Getting the garden ready and an evening walk at the Theler Wetlands...

 Now is the time for me to start putting up my fence around my garden to keep the deer and rabbits out.  I bought some 8 foot fence posts at the local farm store and those will be my main supports.  The rest of the fence is going to be made from wood I find in my parents' woods and then I will put a layer of 2 or 3 foot high chicken wire around the base to keep the rabbits out.

That is HARD work pounding posts into the ground.  I got half of the posts in by lunch yesterday but boy am I sore today.  Next week on Monday or Tuesday I will put the rest in and then start collecting the rest of the wood.  Daniel was my tape measure guy and he would come running when I called for him and he would hold the end of the tape measure to the ground next to the post while I measure to the top.  I made sure they were about 2 feet into the ground.  Daniel was very happy to be my tape measure man.  The pile of PVC pipe and sticks you see on the lower right hand corner of the picture was Daniel's little fencing project.  :)

 The girls kept me company while I was working.  I gave them some bunches of weeds from my garden and they loved it.  I am going to start collecting a lot of yummy scraps for them. My mother-in-law also gives her chickens small pieces of bread that have been soaked in olive oil.  I gave the girls some of that too.  I think the next time I am over there I will dig for some worms to give them.  I am still learning as I go when it comes to having chickens! On February 13th I will be picking up two Barred Plymouth Rock chicks at Artondale Farms in Gig Harbor.  Then my little brood will be complete, at least for this year.  :)

This is a picture of what my mother-in-law Bonita offers her chickens twice a day.  Everything is from her garden I believe.  Her chickens have got it soooooo good.  :)

It's not the best picture but I hung this little painting on a tile in the loft of the chicken coop.  I thought the girls would like something pretty to look at.  :)

I was going to try and finish all the fence posts in one day but my husband thought it would be fun to go on a late afternoon walk somewhere since he had the evening off.  I suggested the Theler Wetlands in Belfair.  They have some really nice nature trails there.  So as soon as Daisy got home from school we took off.  

It was COLD but we had a lovely time walking around.  Needless to say with all the post pounding in the morning and then walking in the evening I slept good last night.  :)

I love how the clouds are reflected in the water here.  It's all salt water that eventually ends up in the Hood Canal.  

 This is probably my favorite picture from the evening.  I am so thankful for where I live.  God is AMAZING!  

Have a lovely rest of the week everyone! 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

First post of the new year...

Happy New Year!! A little late, I know.  I took a little drive this past week and found this view of the Olympic Mountains from the Hood Canal.  I sure love where I live!

The chicken coop I ordered arrived on Christmas Eve.  My mom helped me to build it the next week.  It's little but will hold 4 large chickens comfortably.  Eventually I want to add on to the back of it so I can add more chickens.  We are going to add a nice big chicken run to one end so they have a lot more space to move around.  My mom has an idea up her sleeve for building the run and since she is a super hero when it comes to designing and building things I'm going to let her have at it.  I want to help though so maybe some of those super hero skills rub off on me.  :)

Here are the girls all warm and cozy in their little loft.  I bought a heating lamp so they are nice and warm.  They seriously seemed really excited when I put them in there! Must have been the fact that they were no longer cooped up in that box that was only getting smaller and smaller.  In the next couple of weeks I will be picking up two more chicks from my mother-in-law and they will be living in my laundry room until they are ready to move out with the two girls.  It will be a full house.  I will then have two Blue Wheaton Ameraucanas, an Isbar and a Black Maran.  I will have light blue-green eggs, dark chocolate brown eggs and green-brown speckled eggs.  Can't wait to see all those pretty eggs in my fridge!  :)  

Now that the coop is done and my mom is planning the chicken run my next priority is getting the fence up around my garden to keep the rabbits and deer out.  I plan on using some store bought posts for the main supports and then using gathered wood I can find out in my parent's woods.  I will put chicken wire around the base to keep the smaller critters out.    I will post more on my fence later on.  

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas and New Year!