30 April 2014

Lest We Forget

Lest we forget how entertaining hens are, we are reminded of it every time we visit my mom's backyard flock.  Being a crazy chicken lady never leaves you it seems...
Raven's even thinking of joining the club.  Laying hens are really fun, after all.
The hens aren't so convinced.  Yet.

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29 April 2014

{2 Ingredient} Fruit Roll Ups

This is a great (although not necessarily quick) alternative to store bought fruit snacks.  They're made entirely of pureed fruit and sweetener--that's it!  Then it's just a matter of drying them in the oven (or food dehydrator).

{2 Ingredient} Fruit Roll Ups


3 cups fruit, fresh or frozen (if frozen, thaw first)
Sweetener to taste (optional)

Preheat oven to 170F.  Line a cookie sheet with plastic wrap (no, it won't melt) making sure to overlap the sides.  Puree fruit and sweetener in a food processor.  Pour and even out the puree on the baking sheet.  Dehydrate for 6 to 8 hours or until fruit is set and not sticky (it should be slightly tacky to avoid overbaking which will cause it to crack when cooled).  Flip over onto parchment or wax paper.  Remove plastic wrap.  Roll up and cut into individual snacks with heavy duty scissors.

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28 April 2014

19 (and Counting!)

Stoney's nineteen today (and counting!).  He celebrated with a day of grazing (which no horse ever has a complaint about), a vigorous shedding blade session and some carrots.  He gets wild and crazy on his birthdays.
At least horses shed outside...
So happy to have had him with us another year.

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Arbor Day

As a born and raised Nebraskan, I'm well acquainted with arbor day (I even know the founder of the holiday J. Sterling Morton--did it because he despised how few trees Nebraska had.  Oh, well.  Any reason for planting trees is good right?).
We literally have hundreds on our property, a lot more than any other place we've lived.  Fortunately, they're all good for something--fruit, shade, campfire fuel, heat, horse jumps, smoking foods, boiling down maple sap, campfire seating, blocking out the neighbors, hanging insect pods...
...and climbing!  We celebrated arbor day by climbing and hugging trees (and hanging our praying mantis egg pods).
Climbing trees a few weeks ago with cousins.
Did you do anything special?
Grandma was even here to hug a tree.
Happy (belated) Arbor Day!  

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27 April 2014

Rolex #2

Though the year is reaching the halfway point, it seems like my list of goals I'd love to accomplish is coming along nicely.  Just yesterday, I drug the family (with the help of my mother) to our second annual Rolex Three Day Event.
To say it's a horse lover's dream would be to downplay its awesomeness.  The weather was perfect (even though I ended up getting a bit crispy when the sunscreen wore off...) so people came out in droves to see the sixty horses and their riders take on the challenging cross country course.
Watching others compete in a sport I love so dearly myself always want to run out and start training for the event myself.
Then I have to remind myself that I need to be patient, raise my children, then I can focus on fulfilling my goals of competing on a more professional level.
Still, it is a bit torturous.  While observing the competitors, I can imagine just how it feels to be riding a horse fearlessly leaping solid cross country jumps, something I haven't done since college.  I admit to a twinge of jealousy.
Claire pretending to be a horse jumping over an obstacle.  Unfortunately, she would've been disqualified because she fell down.  Didn't stop her though--she got up and tried again.
Thank goodness my mom still shares my passion, the girls love watching the horses and Jack tolerates me going all day to an event when he could be using his precious Saturdays pruning his beloved trees or getting the hive ready for another set of bees.
Actually, he says he'll enjoy himself more when I do eventually come to compete.  Aww!  He is going to buy me a really expensive horse! (Just kidding--I'll probably just breed Dancer and create my own superhorse, haha).
The best feeling in the world--successfully crossing the finish line!
There was a little bit of drama--people falling off, horses misjudging the distance to the jumps, dogs barking at the wrong time--but that's a bit of the thrill of cross country.
And of course, at any large horse gathering (or any gathering of people) there's the need to show off.  Usually that comes in the form of boots with horse people.  I guess I'm in the out crowd--I wore tennis shoes.
I estimate my mother and I burned a few thousand calories toting kids, pushing strollers and power walking around the course to catch as many horse and riders teams as we could.  It was so worth it.
We waded out to sit on the trout water jump after the show ended.
I am burned to a crisp and worn out from yesterday but I am already looking forward to next year.
Finished the last obstacle.  Look how happy she is!
(And one of the most fun ones too!)

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25 April 2014

Hatch Babies, Hatch!

We had a wild and crazy evening hanging up the newly arrived praying mantis pods.  Hatch babies, hatch!

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24 April 2014

A Peek

So, we decided to go with the red.  Sorry to all those who voted blue--someday I plan on having a beautiful blue house, but this one wasn't meant to be it.  I think the blue lovers will learn to like the red anyway.  I promise we'll even take pictures of the whole thing when it's done.  Until then, here's a peek...
It's a new house already (even with an old screen door...)!

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23 April 2014

Homemade Powdered Dishwasher Soap

I had a few boxes of powdered dishwashing soap from our previous house that I've been waiting to use once Jack bought me a dishwasher (he's so thoughtful, isn't he?).  But when it came time to run to the store to get more, I couldn't bring myself to pay what they were asking.  So, I decided to make some of my own.  After a little research and trial and error, here's the recipe.

Homemade Powdered Dishwasher Soap

1 box borax
1 box washing soda OR about 5 cups baking soda
1 container LemiShine
3 cups epsom salt

Mix all and keep in a cool, dry place.  Add 1 to 2 teaspoons soap per dishwashing load.  The LemiShine really helps with the spots but if you've got really hard water, add a splash of white vinegar to the bottom of your dishwasher to really make the dishes sparkly and spot free.

Yes.  Yes it does work.

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22 April 2014

What to Make of Baths

Raven's not sure what to make of baths.  They're warm and you get a good scratching, but you're wet.  I told her she'd just better get used to it--she's going to have her fair share of them, especially with how dirty she manages to get.

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21 April 2014

Clifty Falls

Jack had Friday off so we wasted no time.  We hung around home for the first part of the day, seeing what the weather would do and if any rain was going to precipitate.  When it was obvious it would remain dry, we packed up the car, the girls and even the dog (at Jack's suggestion!) and headed to Clifty Falls in southern Indiana.
Jack set up the tent, I set up the bedding, Claire fed and watered Raven, Kate pet the dog and conquered climbing the picnic table and Evie put out the firewood in preparation for dinner.  In all, it took us less than half an hour to sit down to our campfire dinner.
We were one of the first camping groups to arrive and snagged a pretty good spot.  After dinner, we decided to go for a little hike before sundown.
Though the hike wasn't strenuous, it was tiring.  Raven wasn't sure she liked hiking, Evelyn was sure she was going to fall over the edge and Claire kept getting too close to the edge for comfort.  Luckily, it was just shy of a mile and since it wasn't crowded with hikers, we took our sweet time.
Jack toting Kate and helping the girls skip over a small stream in the trail.
We had our usual roasted marshmallows before heading off to bed.  Everyone else slept pretty well despite the cold humidity in our tent.  I think I got about three hours between worrying that everyone else was warm and comfortable, someone's dog that barked incessantly during the night, the other campers that made midnight runs to the restroom (it's really eerie hearing footsteps crunching along a gravel road in the pitch black) and a raccoon that shrieked for a while in the early morning hours.  And the birds that start tweeting before the sun even rises.  Oh, well.  It was still fun.
We were out on the trails again shortly after breakfast and enjoyed watching a few tom turkeys in vain try to impress a few of the girls.  Then we drove after a herd of deer and Raven, though usually mute, gave a few grumbling barks while we drove alongside them.
We visited Big and Little Clifty Falls along the path.  There was a trail that practically went up to the tip of the waterfall but for some reason, it was difficult to find--it wasn't on a map and apparently was a break off of another trail.  We did enjoy the views from a distance though.
By midmorning, Raven was getting to be a pro at hiking.  Luckily, she mastered steps at our house in the first few days of her life with us (which was fortunate--there are a lot of stairs at Clifty Falls) and practically pulled me along the trail.
We headed home when everyone was ready for a nap and arrived in time to work on the garden and get some laundry done.  It was the first of (I hope!) many camping trips this year!

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