Friday, June 29, 2012

Hello Chicago

On Monday the family hauled in the car and headed down to Chicago.  A blog friend of mine, Rachel, was going to be in Chicago with her family and we just knew we had to meet up and hang out.  It isn't every day that you meet such a wonderful family.  We clicked right away, but unfortuntely, I had lost my voice the previous day and it was showing no signs of returning.  Me with no voice made it sooooo hard to talk like I really wanted to.  So I tried to talk as much as I was physically able and spent the rest of time adoring her little boy, Bennett.  That little dude is so sweet, so smart, so funny and he's not even 2 yet!  He and Finley hit it off instantly too.  He seemed to be quite enamored while Finley played hard to get.  It was great to watch.

So what did we do with our day together in Chicago??

Ally had her very first ride on the subway.

We went to our very first Cubs game at Wrigley Field.  (We opted to leave the Brewer attire at home)

Finley looked... bored.

We took in the breathtaking view from our hotel room.

 We did a silly photo shoot.  If it wasn't for the glare or the half smile, wouldn't you believe she's really falling???

Realizing I had no pictures with Rachel, we took this one as we were on our way to our cars to say Goodbye.  Note to self: remember to take more pictures, especially for important events such as this!

My hair is frizzy, I look frumpy and sweaty and gross, BUT if you look past all that you will see that Rachel and I have something in common- she has an awesome set of dreads.  I admired them pretty much the whole trip.

It was a short day and I wasn't feeling 100%, but I'm so glad we got to meet up.  Rachel is a wonderful person as well as her husband and son.  I had so much fun getting to know them and enjoying Chicago as the backdrop.  Now I have an excuse to go to Portland sometime.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Grandpa's House

This past Sunday the whole family (my family, my brother and his wife, my mom and her boyfriend, and my aunt) decided to head up to Grandpa's house.  He's been recovering magnificently and thought it would be a nice day to chat, eat some good food and hang outside and enjoy the weather and land.

It wouldn't be a family event if Ally, Finley and I didn't wear matching shirts we created a couple days before.  Give a Hoot, Don't Pollute... got it??

Ally lazily and with pure hippie style lounged on the pond.

We went fishing.  I must admit that I internally struggled with this considering our vegetarian ways.  We sent them all back into the pond, but still.  Who wants to get hooked in the face.  I certainly don't.

If you can believe it, Ally caught the biggest fish of the day.  She was a natural!

I caught a small one- very small one.  I had no luck.  Except I did catch two Bullhead fish (who apparantly sting) and one swallowed the hook too deep and died.  My heart broke a bit.  It died for no good reason. :(

My mom caught the smallest fish of all.  It's really quite amazing that you can even catch a fish that small!

Finley just explored.  But for some odd reason every time I saw her she was wearing one less article of clothing.

Until she decided being free and naked was the way to go.  Btw, score on pictures I can use to embarrass Finley in the future!

The two kiddos fast asleep moments from leaving Grandpa's house.  Woodstock quickly joined them.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Chicken Coop Inspiration

I finally did it!  I finally convinced Andy to let us have chickens on our little humble homestead!  He's certainly not gun ho on building one though, but I pretty much want to start building a coop... like yesterday.  Ally is pretty excited too.  Today she drew up a chicken coop that we could build and she has been asking if we can build it while she is here for the summer.  It's wonderful to see her want to take part in family homesteading activities.  So I'm afraid Andy has no choice, majority rules, we WILL be building a chicken coop this summer.

And what better way to get some chicken coop inspiration?  Pinterest, of course.

What could be better than a 60's/70's inspired camper chicken coop??  I'm in love.

 This coop seems simple enough, but I love the garden beds cornering the chicken run.

This looks like a general store... kinda cute!

 The run would be much bigger, but I like the cottage look.

 I like the flower box under the window, might have to do that with my coop.  See? Inspiration!

This one is super cute.  Chickens, I'm sure, would appreciate the white picket fence.
I must admit that all these coops are a bit aggressive considering our mediocre (or less than mediocre) carpentry skills.  But inspiration can bring you a long way, right?

What coop do you guys like best?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Family Fort Night

On Sunday, Father's Day, Ally was itching to camp in the backyard.  Normally we welcome such a fun activity, but the weather was supposed to get pretty stormy so we had to put an axe to that idea.  But then I thought, why not camp inside??  I knew we couldn't put a tent up in our living room, but we could gather every blanket, pillow, stuffed animal we pleased and toss it into the living room creating a one big giant bed... thus was created (with quite enthusiasm from all of us) Family Fort Night.

We made signs.

We made the "bed".

We ordered Pizza and had a bonfire.  It just isn't camping without a camp fire, right?  Don't worry, we had s'mores too!  (Not my most healthy moment)

Then we all went inside and instantly got into our pj's.  We decided to wear our "attempt at bleach tie-dye" shirts. 

We cuddled up in our fort and watched Men In Black... The first one, we're old school like that.  We even braved through some thunderstorms in the middle of the night.

It was a really great night- a really great Fathers Day.  It was fun to be so excited about spending the night together just being family.  I have a feeling there are many more Family Fort Nights to come this summer.

Friday, June 15, 2012

June Garden

As of the beginning of June everything has been planted/transplanted in our garden and so far so good!  I've overcome 2 weeks of bug invasion (cutworms, inch worms, earwigs, and slugs) by hand picking and slaughtering the beasts myself.  Picture an image of me out at 10-11pm with a flashlight carefully inspecting each and every plant... fun stuff.  Now I'm just waiting for our batch of cabbage loopers for me to destroy... we got hit pretty heavy with them last year.  Despite the bugs, our garden is glorious and beautiful (in my eyes).

Curious to see what our garden looks like in June?  Swell!  You know you had no choice in the matter, right?

Front of house... what the passersby see

Lettuce in the flower box next to front door

4x8 raised bed of Broccoli and Cabbage.  2 plants died, but I'm still happy!

4x8 raised bed full of 21 tomatoes- heirlooms and beefsteak. 

4x8 raised bed of 12 tomato plants and 12 pepper plants (I am still trying to find more room for 6 more pepper starters I have)

4x8 raised bed of 10 squash (summer & zucchini), 1 cucumber and 9 blue corn

4x4 potato bin full of, you guessed it, potatoes!

In the front we have finally added landscaping consisting of all our herbs and more.  3 basil, 2 lavender, 2 sage, 5 thyme, 1 mint,  2 chives, 2 oregano, 6 kale, 3 swiss chard,  and 2 rhubarb

Front 4x8 raised bed with 8 Broccoli and hundred (hopefully!) carrots

I pruned these raspberries to a foot high and now they almost cover the window!

Garlic and Onions

2 Blueberry bushes... sadly the blooms keep mysteriously shriveling up so pretty sure we will not be getting any blueberries :(

5 strawberries and 1 blackberry.  Had to pinch of the blooms this first year, but hopefully we'll be rolling in the berries next year

A long row of sweet corn

Our tiny 2x3 strawberry patch where we got about a dozen super sweet juicy strawberries this year.
It's small but growing steadily.  You can't expect much from a June Wisconsin garden, but thanks to seed starting in our basement we are ahead of the game this year. 

How are your gardens coming along?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Strawberry Sessions: Strawberry Poppyseed Salad Dressing

The final post of the strawberry sessions!  I have strawberries left over, but they are getting past their ripe stage and look to be that they will be more helpful in the compost.

Yesterday was my husbands birthday (shhhhh... he turned 42 and doesn't like it one bit), so on Sunday we had family and friends come over to help celebrate.  I had spent almost 3 days planning and on Sunday I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off.  There was just sooooo much to do.  The easiest thing I did that day (besides sit down and drink my beer) was make the salad dressing for the salad.

Our lettuce has been overflowing which meant that a salad was in order.  I made a huge salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, sunflower seeds, and of course, strawberries.  I found a recipe on pinterest for strawberry salad dressing and I knew I had to try it.  I'm glad I did because it was nothing short of heaven and AMAZING!  Here is the source in case you want to make this yourself too.

Strawberry-Poppyseed Salad Dressing

1 clove garlic
1/8 slice of a small purple onion
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup fresh strawberries, raspberries (or 2 T. raspberry jam)
1/3 white vinegar
1/2 cup extra light olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon poppyseeds

Place all ingredients (except poppyseeds) into a blender. Blend until entirely pureed. Stir in poppyseeds. Serve immediately over your favorite salad or store for up to 48 hours.

I quadrupled the recipe and I'm glad I did!  Most of my guests asked if they could take some home with them.  It was a nice sight to see the guests leave with a glass bottle filled with pure yummyness that was made in MY kitchen.

 Isn't that pink color so refreshing for a summer salad?   Mmmm, now I want to go have a salad... and it's only 6:30 in the morning!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Strawberry Sessions: Strawberry Muffins

Another Strawberry Session here...

In case your thinking that I am a crappy cook or baker and should quit my job as homesteader (my thoughts exactly), I am here to redeem myself.  I've had two fails this week with my strawberry sessions, BUT these strawberry muffins were a major success... finally!

I don't have any source to give you guys as far as a recipe.  I scanned cookbooks and the Internet for a good strawberry muffin recipe and pretty much combined them all into what I thought would make an exceptional strawberry muffin.  They were quite easy to make, as most muffins are, and they were the perfect consistency and taste for a breakfast muffin.

1 1/2 Cups Strawberries- cut into small pieces
2 Cups Flour
3/4 Cup Sugar,
2 Eggs
1/2 Cup Sour Cream ( I used soy sour cream, but feel free to use regular sour cream)
1/2 Cup Butter- melted than cooled off
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 Cup Milk

First you will combine the dry ingredients:  Flour, Sugar, BP, BS, Cinnamon, & Salt.  Mix the strawberries into the dry ingredients. In another bowl beat together 2 eggs, Sour Cream, melted butter, Vanilla Extract, & Milk.  Combine the wet with the dry, be sure not to over stir it.  The batter will be quite thick so with an ice cream scoop, even distribute the batter among the 12.  They will fill near the top.

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes


These muffins are dense with great flavor and bursts of juicy strawberries.  The perfect morning treat.

By the way, are you still in shock that I finally made something that wasn't disappointing and a complete waste of my precious freshly picked strawberries?  I am!