29 November 2014

Creamsicle Jello

I have to give credit to my sister's in-laws for this yummy side dish. It is a staple at their family gatherings and we made it for our own Thanksgiving. It was by far the most requested dish by the girls. It can be made in any combo too: Orange Lemon, Raspberry Vanilla, Banana Strawberry...whatever you're in the mood for.
Ingredients:

2 small (or 1 large) jello
1 cook and serve pudding
1 instant pudding
8 oz cool whip
1 cup milk

Cook pudding according to package instructions. Place in fridge to chill to at least room temperature or cooler. Dissolve jello in three cups boiling water. Mix the jello and chilled pudding together. Spread in a 9x13 pan and chill at least four hours. To make the topping, combine the cool whip, instant pudding and milk together. Spread over set jello/pudding mixture and chill another hour before serving.
Yum!
Enjoy!
Thanks to Hard Side Goes First for the recipe inspiration!

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28 November 2014

Tractor Driving Lessons

Watch out world! I have a tractor and I know how to use it!
Though a good majority of the goals I set at the beginning of the year (that I'll actually be able to achieve) are already done, there's still time to check a few off the list before beginning anew in the upcoming year! Learning how to drive a tractor has been on my mind since having a farm of our own but since we didn't have one or know anyone who did, I was out of luck to learn how to operate one.
I want one!
Since putting up a horse pasture is also on my to-do list this year and impeccable timing and a very generous neighbor stopped by to lend us the use of his tractor and auger, I got the chance to sit on a real tractor, learn how to move the bucket and PTO and will be sure to practice lots while I have the chance.

Thanks for the tractor driving lessons, Jack!

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25 November 2014

Butchered

Rufus, Chess and Twinkle out for an early morning stroll.
Whenever chicks make their way to our farm, I'm continually hoping they'll end up hens. I may be biased, but I prefer girls over boys, at least usually when animals are involved. After all, the ladies provide the milk, eggs and babies along with meat and wool and in general, are a bit more even-tempered.
Our beautiful ram, Magnus, right before he started knocking down the hollyhocks.
We've had some experience with unneutered livestock. Magnus was an impressive ram but his favorite past time was knocking people, plants, animals, fence posts, garbage cans and anything else that got in his way down. Robbie, one of our other roosters, was a psychopathic spurrer who'd stalk people from hundreds of yards away just so he could kick them when they were least expecting it. Other than that, everyone's been a female or has been neutered.
After our adorable little Easter chicks grew up and started crowing, it was pretty obvious we had a problem. Three mouths to feed and no resulting eggs. When we were given a few older hens who did lay beautiful blue eggs, the problem only got worse. It wasn't a week and the girls were practically plucked bald by overzealous males. So, we made our choice of rooster (Twinkle gets to stay) and the other two are now headless, featherless and frozen in our freezer, ready to eat.
Twinkle (he was supposed to be a hen), Snow and Strawberry all molted and happy (and you can see the size difference and how the two hens would have trouble keeping safe from three roosters who were gigantic next to them!).
I feel like a genuine rehomesteader now. Not because we finally had the nerve to butcher the two roosters but because we feel more connected to our food source. It's a big responsibility to have and though it's hard to take a life, especially one you've seen grow from a babe to adult, Rufus and Chess had it good and served their purpose. Now, they'll provide dinner for a week or so for which, we are immeasurably more grateful for than if we'd picked up a nameless, unloved broiler, packaged nicely at the store.
Not many chickens get that much freedom!
Thanks, boys.

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24 November 2014

Sesame Noodles

If you aren't in the mood for cooking, this dish is perfect--you don't have to sacrifice flavor for convenience! Serve with grilled chicken and steamed broccoli and you're set for a main dish or pair with other Asian cuisine as a side. Either way, it's delicious.
Even the girls gobbled it up!
Ingredients:

12 ounces thin noodles (think angel hair pasta, rice noodles, Ramen...), cooked and drained
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tablespoons sugar
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 Tablespoons sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
4 Tablespoons canola oil
4 green onions, thinly sliced

Cook noodles according to package instructions (but don't overcook!). Meanwhile, mix remaining ingredients, except green onions. When noodles are finished, drain well. Pour sauce and green onions over the top. Toss to coat with sauce. Serve hot.
Pair with some juicy chicken and you've got a filling meal.
Enjoy!
Thanks to The Pioneer Woman for the recipe inspiration!

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19 November 2014

Push

Our truck gets a good workout quite often.
When we get ready to go out of town, it's no small ordeal. On top of tidying up the house and packing food and clothes for five people and a dog, there are animals that are left behind that need to be planned for. Since our disastrous hay situation last Halloween (no barn + crummy tarp + raging storm = moldy hay), we decided to go with predominately round bales this year. They're lined up nicely on the yard but since we're traveling sooner than we thought to visit with family and haven't yet had a chance to fence in the section where the hay is, we had to move a bale into the paddock where the horses would be secure while we're away.
I wish I would have gotten a video of Jack moving the bale. It was hilarious.
Easy enough...if you have a tractor. Luckily, Jack is always up for a challenge. After unsticking the bale from the frozen ground, I got it rolling with the truck, then we took turns pushing and laughing at each other as we slowly maneuvered the bale across the pasture. As usual, the horses were no help.
Thanks, Stoney and Dancer. A lot.
Someone put tractor on my Christmas list, please.

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18 November 2014

Michele

Photo Credit
This Sunday, my aunt Michele passed away. I never have words adequate to express what I feel when someone goes on ahead. It's a mixture of sadness and loss, mingled with hope. This is the hymn that always comes to mind and probably most accurately portrays my sentiments at the moment, through word and music.

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15 November 2014

Capital Warrior Run 10k

Run, Rachael! Run!
Thinking I could fit in one more race this year, I signed up for a 10k mid-October when the weather was warm, but not too hot and I was loving start of autumn.
Getting started!
This morning, I rolled out of bed before six and wondered what on earth I'd done.
I told Jack no photos of me from behind because he always gets me mid-jiggle. This one was acceptable.
With the girls happily in tow (because they got funny, smiley worm-looking donuts for coming so early with Jack and me), we headed to downtown Indy for the race. Despite the frigid temperature which barely broke 20F by the time the cannon fired to signal the start, I warmed up quickly and had a successful run.
Near downtown on the canal.
It always helps when the scenery during a race is engaging. This particular run was along the canal and was chalked full of art, museums, ducks, geese and interesting people.
Not many people decided to do the 10k...it was a little lonely for a while.
I had the goal of finishing in under and hour and thanks to my competitive drive which hates to be behind other people, I think I did pretty decently. I finished in 54:46, which was a 10 minute improvement and a PR from the last 10k I did.
All bundled up and ready to run! (Or watch).
The cool down was at home doing the chores and after a hot shower and a nap, I feel back to normal. And one more goal crossed off the 2014 list!
What are you hoping to accomplish before year's end???

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13 November 2014

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Muffins

We had these delectable muffins the day the cold snap started. They were about the only thing that made the weather bearable. They're moist and flavorful and are pretty quick to whip up. Pair with soup and you'll be warm enough to endure the chill.

Ingredients:

2 cups flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup milk
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla.

Preheat oven to 375F. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add in peanut butter, milk, sugar, oil and vanilla and mix until a thick batter. Fold in chocolate chips. Fill muffin cups and sprinkle top of each muffin with a pinch of sugar. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until done.
Enjoy!
Thanks to The Frugal Girls for the recipe inspiration!

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09 November 2014

Favorite Season

Curious about  my leaf.
Autumn is currently my favorite season. Here's why:
 Halloween (of course).
 There's still the occasional warm day to wash the dog outdoors.
Despite the many hours of long, hard work sampling and harvesting corn when I worked, I still love watching a field being harvested. Bounty of the earth right in my backyard.
The changing leaves in Indiana are gorgeous.
It's finally time to snuggle up in blankets (and keep warm by fire, which I can now produce!).
When we have mild weather, sans insects, to eat dinner out on the porch.
The animals (and kids) still willingly go outside.
Reaping the last of the garden harvest.
Running to music like Appalachian Spring (yes, it's about spring but after my sister sent it to me while serving in Montreal in the fall, it's always reminded me of autumn).

Why do I love autumn? I think it's obvious.
(I'm sure I'll feel the same about every other season as it comes along. Except maybe winter...)

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08 November 2014

Bookworm for Kids: Review of Headed for the Win

Headed for the Win has been out for a few months now and though it hasn't hit the New York Times Bestseller list (YET), it's been doing really well for a debut, self-published YA book about horses (I measure success by how much hay or how many gallons of paint I could buy with royalties--I'll just say several rooms could be painted and all of Stoney and Dancer's hay have be taken care of with the proceeds. Awesome, in my opinion!).

It's been a thrill reading people's reviews of the book and encouraging that Nadia and Winny should return. I'm also proud to say I got my first one-star review too! I don't think you can really call yourself an author until some disgruntled reader feels the need to degrade your work because it isn't how they would have written it. Thank you, mystery internet reviewer for giving Jack and I something to laugh about late at night. Other than that, all of the reviews have been incredible--thank you!

Most recently, Headed for the Win has been reviewed over at Bookworm for Kids. Tonja wrote up a sweet little review which I appreciate greatly. Head on over to see what she had to say.

Of course, I'd love to hear from all my readers--good reviews make for good exposure. If you'd like to leave a review for Headed for the Win on Amazon, click HERE and follow the Create Your Own Review button. I promise you won't hurt my feelings if you didn't like it. I can't guarantee that I won't laugh about it what you wrote though.

If you haven't had a chance to read Headed for the Win yet, click HERE (affiliate link) to purchase your Kindle copy (coming in paperback, Nook, Kobo, etc soon!).

Nadia and Winny are already halfway through their next book and on top of switching places again, they're dealing with international competition, cheating and old flames. I'm looking forward to publishing soon!

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07 November 2014

Painting Addict

At least the color I chose doesn't look any worse than the color that was there...
Hi. I'm Rachael and I'm a painting addict.
Could you live with a pine colored walls and mustard countertops? Well, one of the problems is solved...
There. I finally admitted it to myself. Once I get started on a project, it's terribly difficult for me to stop. This week, it's been the kitchen. Though for now, the countertops are still their retro mustard yellow, something had to be done about the oppressive green walls. Like most of the other surfaces of this house, it looked like a classroom of elementary school students were brought in to do texturing and wall accent colors. Not pretty.
Making our way around the kitchen. It's so much brighter!
A few days ago, after dropping off Evelyn and going on our usual morning run, I mysteriously found myself in front of the paint counter, ordering a light blue-grey to go with a countertop I'll eventually put in the kitchen. Having no recollection of how I got there, I paid, found out their was a rebate and found myself at the paint counter once again two days later for another gallon of paint. Of course, I rationalized that the rebate made me do it. Well, it really did.
The door to nowhere is no more!
I've been painting the kitchen walls, ceiling, windows and trim for three days straight . I can hardly think of anything else. I giddily plan what order I'll paint things and go to great lengths to accomplish it. I found fifteen free minutes this morning before taking Evelyn to school and guess what I did? Painted.
Kate got paint in her hair? Meh. It comes out easier than gum.
I knew I had a problem when I started shrugging off paint in my hair, the girls hair and on clothes or permanently embedded in my cuticles. At any given moment, I have three cans of different type of primers open (water-based, oil-based and odorless) and several hues of paint for the walls. I save my paint can lids so I can grab them in a hurry when I want to get more of the same color and out of a sick curiosity to see just how many gallons it will take to paint this monster top to bottom. I even have a favorite paint brush (Blue Hawk angled two-inch paint brush--I think I have about sixty of them lying around) and don't flinch when I do the dishes and there's a sudsy cup of water next to the sink with some brushes soaking.
Claire backed into the wall and in an instant, her pants have been converted into painting clothes.
I'm a painting addict. But then I shrug and think there are worse things.

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