30 July 2012

Quick Chicken Enchiladas

Here's a mildly spicy, scrumptious dinner that can be whipped up in about twenty minutes.

Ingredients:

 2-3 chicken breasts, chopped
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 pint sour cream
1 small can diced green chilies
1/2 to 1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, Monterrey Jack, Mozzarella, etc)

Cook chicken breast thoroughly.  Meanwhile, combine the remaining ingredients, saving a third of the cheese to top the enchiladas.
Add a fourth of the mixture to the chicken.  Spoon along the length of tortillas and place in a casserole dish, seam side down.
Spoon the remaining sauce mixture over the top and sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Place in oven at 350F until hot.

29 July 2012

My Little Helpers

I once worked with a guy that insisted he didn't like little kids because they were too much work and didn't give anything in return.  Obviously, he'd never been around children because helping is about all they want to do (though "helpful" is sometimes a subjective term).  I think my girls certainly pull their own weight.
 They're hay haulers.
Groundhog hole fillers.
Construction workers and animal caretakers.



















They're mail collectors and gravel movers.


















Berry pickers.
Egg hunters.
 Sticker and tape peelers.
They chase chickens out from under the car.
They'd happily mow the lawn and putty all the drywall if they could.



















And if nothing else, they're pretty entertaining and nobody can discount the need for good entertainment.
I'm more than able to admit I can use all the help I can get around here.  I'm thrilled I have such good little helpers.

27 July 2012

It's Not Working

Ever since I found the first egg, I've been waiting to find another without avail.  So it was no shock to discover a clutch of seven eggs in the window well.  I guess the nesting box isn't working.
The hens are going to be spending a day or two in the coop until they figure out it's an appropriate place to deposit their eggs.  I'm just thankful they haven't decided to nest under the dumpster.
There's always something to be grateful for.

25 July 2012

Dare I Say It?

Kristin working away on plaster removal.
 Dare I say it?  That there is one room in our house that is ENTIRELY complete?  It's true!

When we moved in, it was almost impossible to choose which room to start first.  Not only was the whole house rundown, we were desperately trying to get it ready for Stoney to come live in our backyard.  Then it was compounded by the unexpected (but very happy) discovery that I was pregnant.  That skyrocketed a new bathroom, a baby's nursery and a bedroom for us to the top of the list.
The room used to be purple!  The corresponding paint splatters on the trim were a telltale sign of where they belonged.
At eight months pregnant, we started on our room after having mostly completed a new upstairs bath and an adorable little nursery for the new baby.  It was hot, dusty work but my parents and my friend Kristin (an architect and connoisseur of old buildings and one of the few that could see the potential in our decrepit farmhouse) came to help.  In a few weeks, it was 80% completed and remained that way for the next few years.
With the seams all mudded, it was time to take the plunge and start sanding.
Returning from Texas, I had a new found focus when it came to the home improvements.  Most of the major renovations had been checked off our list and the remainder of the work lay in the details--trim, fixing seams, painting.  So, I choose the upstairs master bedroom and dove in.
By far the worst part of drywalling is the dust it inevitably produces.
It took a few weeks to fix some of the less-than-perfect seams I'd done earlier as well as planing, sanding, staining and varnishing the appropriate pieces of trim.  After hanging each piece and thoroughly cleaning the room from top to bottom, we had carpet installed to cover the old pinewood floor.  In a way, I'm going to miss the character the rough plaster walls and grooves in the floor where 100 years of resting beds in the same place had given the room.
Then again, it's still the same old farmhouse, just with a new facelift.

One more goal to cross off the list!  Hooray!

23 July 2012

Reign of Terror


Every year there seems to be an overwhelming population of some kind of insect.  A few years ago, massive amounts of mosquitoes came in with the floods as well as a boom in the dragonfly population who thankfully feast on mosquitoes in all their stages.  Last fall, we were graced with the presence of twelve-spotted lady beetles.  And, of course, there never seems to be a lack of stable flies, house flies or Asian lady beetles around.  This year, however, it was the summer of the sap beetle.
Normally the tiny black and yellow beetles roam the garden and munch on fruits and vegetables that have split open or started to rot.  We first learned of sap beetles when Jack plucked a honeydew melon from our second-year garden, only to find it full of the little insects.  Though it grossed us out, it was a veritable buffet for the old flock.
The problem with their overpopulation is that they moved beyond their normal food source and raided out picnics every time we ventured outside.  They have an incredible sense of smell and as soon as the food was set out, they descended in mass.  They landed on everything: people, uncovered drinks and food to arguing over the crumbs left on the table.
They're more tolerable than most of the other biting insects we have around but their little nips are quite obnoxious.  Thankfully with the help of the chickens and the hot, dry weather, their reign of terror seems to be over.
At least for this year.

20 July 2012

Bacon and BBQ Grilled Cheese

Here's a summery twist on grilled cheese.

Ingredients:

2 strips bacon
1 slice sharp cheddar or colby
1 slice provolone
2 Tablespoons barbecue sauce
2 slices bread
Fry bacon until crispy.  Place over top of cheese, drizzle with barbecue sauce and lightly butter outside of bread if desired.  Pan fry until golden.
Enjoy!

What A Guy

In the fading sunlight, I was sitting in the yard, pounding a few nails out of some trim while the girls were playing with (what else?) the chickens when Jack strolled out in his painting jumpsuit.  I assumed he had started painting the downstairs bedroom so I asked him if he was doing a good job edging.

"I think I'm doing a good job," he smirked.

After finishing up with my piece of trim, I herded the children inside with the promise of a popsicle and peaked into the room to inspect it.
What a guy.

19 July 2012

The First Egg

Just the other day I was wondering when the first egg would be laid only to walk outside and spot it on the back patio.  I guess that puts building a nesting box at the top of the work list.
Omelet anyone?

18 July 2012

Simple Pleasures

I've said it before and it's been reiterated time and time again: animals seem to really appreciate the simple things in life.
Stoney's such a multitasker--bathing and grazing simultaneously.
With the hot weather we've been having, I try to give the horses a quick spray-down every afternoon or evening to give them some kind of relief.
Stoney in particular, has always enjoyed his baths.  After he's turned back in the pasture, the first thing he does with his newly cooled, cleaned body is take a good roll in the dirt until he's caked in mud.
video
Getting a bath and a good roll obviously put some pep in his step! His squeal of pleasure as he gallops by is a gentler reminder that I should be more grateful for the comforts I all too often take for granted.

Relief at the Lake

This summer has been a hot one.  Combined with the monumental home improvements we've been undertaking, I'm usually spent by the end of the day.  One of the favorite perks of our modest country home is that we live less than a mile from a quaint little lake.  So yesterday, after putting in hours of hard, sweaty work, we sought some relief at the lake.
Evelyn insisted she wanted to go canoeing so we strapped it down in the truck bed.  Of course, when we arrived, Jack realized he'd forgotten the oars.  Again, no big deal since we live so close.  The girls and I splashed in the water until he returned.
With our life jackets securely in place, we headed off.  Along the way, we passed some American white pelicans resting along a sandy peninsula.
When we got too close for comfort, they clumsily flew away and circled the lake overhead until they found a new resting place.  We then continued on and watched a couple of Labradors bound into the water after their toys and enjoyed the beautiful scenery along the shore.
I hope whatever dog we adopts likes the water.
Once we reached the opposite side of the lake, we reposed and enjoyed the rippling water under the shade of the maples and oaks.
The evening ended with a little more swimming, a couple of soft serve ice cream cones and drying off outside while playing with the chickens and rinsing off the sweaty horses.  It might be miserably hot outside but we couldn't have been happier.
At the sight of water, Claire can sprint fast enough to win Olympic gold medals.

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