Friday, April 28, 2017

Buff Orpingtons and Jumbo Pekins

I am very pleased and thoroughly excited to introduce you to our new members of the family: 3 Buff Orpington chicks (hatched 4/20) and 3 Jumbo Pekin ducklings (hatched 4/25)!


Three little Buff Orpington chicks


Three darling Jumbo Pekin ducklings


For their setup, we used a storage tub, the bottom of a dog crate, plastic plates, a paint tray, and cabinet liners (that we already had lying around the house).  We bought pine pellets for their bedding (not only does this absorb moisture like a champ, but it kept our living room smelling beautifully instead of like a farmhouse), and of course waterers and feeders.


We then set up an animal playpen around their area to keep the curious cat away from them, lined the playpen with blankets to keep their area from getting drafty, and then plugged in our small space heater to keep the babies warm. (check out The Chicken Chick's Chick Care which includes safe temperatures).

Now as cute and fluffy as they are, their personalities are as different as cats and dogs.  Literally.  The chicks are more like dogs while the ducklings are basically cats.  Chicks love to be held and just enjoy being with you.


Cuddle time with the chickies while watching Saturday morning cartoons.  The chick being held by my oldest (at the bottom of the page) is even taking a nap.

While ducklings... well, they don't want anything to do with you until they're positive that you don't want them (which never happens here hah).  Regardless, the tiny little things are precious and we love them to pieces, just like we love our cat.  We have held them just as much (if not more) than the chicks to try to get them used to us, but I am suspecting that they have already imprinted on each other which is going to make bonding with them more difficult.

This is our first step to starting the little animal department of our homestead.  I'm very excited about this adventure, and will keep you updated along the way!  I'm also thrilled that my children will have this special experience and hope they remember this part of their childhood fondly.

Friday, September 30, 2016

How To: Make a Capsule Wardrobe (for Busy Moms)

There's been this big fad going around called a capsule wardrobe.  The idea is to minimize your wardrobe, make sure it only contains clothing that can mix and match into a multitude of different outfits, and the clothing can only be classic non-fad items that will easily transfer from style to style each year.  I've also added the rule that you have to LOVE each item and how it looks on you.  Ladies, there's NO point in buying clothes that you like the style, but it doesn't fit you right, or vise versa.  This will kill your self esteem every time you look in the closet. Just don't even go there!

A capsule wardrobe allows you to not only know what's in your closet (without having to itemize), but also what's worn out and needs to be replaced.  This saves soooo much money by eliminating impulse buying, and allowing you to take full advantage of sales.  You can also feel better about purchasing more expensive, quality clothes, because you know you will wear it and it will last longer than the cheaper brands.  It also saves time because you can come up with an outfit easily.. that's right, no more trying out several different outfits to determine what makes you feel confident.

This is my example of my capsule wardrobe (remember you can change it according to your tastes, but just follow the rules above):

Basics:
1 pair of slacks (black)
2 pairs of jeans (skinny and regular)
4 dresses (little black dress, 2 pretty day dresses, and a long sleeve knit dress)
4 blouses (black, white, silk, and dressy)

Extras:
3 sweaters
3 tanks
2 graphic tees
2 cardigans (cashmere and long wrap)
1 camisole (silk)
2 blazers (black and navy)
2 jackets (lightweight and fleece)
1 coat (trench)
1 pair of work pants
2 shorts (dark and light)
1 pair of sweatpants

Accessories:
Sunglasses
Umbrella
Neutral leather purse
Casual tote bag
3 belts
2 Scarves
Swimsuit

Jewelry:
2 pairs of stud earrings (diamonds and pearl)
2 pairs of dangle earrings (gold and silver)
1 pair of hoop earrings
2 necklaces (pearl and silver pendant)
2 rings (gold and silver)
Understated watch
Simple bracelet

Shoes:
Black ballet flats
Sneakers
2 sandals (white and black)
Black pumps
2 pairs of heels (colorful and neutral)
2 pairs of tall boots (black and brown)
Neutral booties
Work boots


There's also this handy little app that you can download called YourCloset.  The point of this app is that you have your closet everywhere you go, which I find extremely useful so I don't buy duplicates and so I know what to look for on the clearance racks! It's very user friendly!  All you do is take pictures of your clothes and organize them into specific categories (tops, bottoms, dresses, outerwear, etc.).  It also has the option to sort by color and to create outfits that you typically wear - that you can further organize into seasons!  The BEST feature is that you can log underneath each picture the last time you wore it.  This is extremely helpful for weeding out those gorgeous items that you never wear for one reason or another.

Friday, September 23, 2016

How To: Reduce Laundry Stress (in two simple steps)

We all know that dreaded word: laundry.  Wait!  Don't run and hide just yet.  I just might have the answer to your problems.   I have a two step formula that's changed my life from piles of laundry everywhere to having everything folded AND put away.  I know at this point you're skeptical, but bear with me and you'll find your house going from this:


to this: (picture coming soon)

1.  Minimize your wardrobes -  I know this is a HARD pill to swallow.  Trust me, this was the worst part of the whole process, but once you get started...  it will become easy, and dare I say, you'll love the results.  We are raised in a culture where more is better, yet so many of us are stressed and unhappy with our current lives.  For a more in depth look at minimizing your wardrobes, see my post: How To: Create a Capsule Wardrobe for Busy Moms.

2.  Do ONE load daily -  This not only gets rid of stress, but allows you to be more productive throughout the day (instead of wasting a whole day to "laundry day").  As a mom of two girls, this simple process has changed our lives.  On day one, start one load in the washer in the morning when you first get up.  Once you hear the little buzzer saying it's done, switch it over immediately to the dryer... and you're DONE for the day.  The next day do the same thing, except schedule a time to get the clothes from the dryer from the previous day, fold them, and put them away.  Pretty simple concept right?  It makes a HUGE difference though.  Also, you might not have a load to do everyday if you minimize your wardrobe properly and you stick with daily process.  Even with a 2.5 year old (who is constantly getting her clothes messy), we generally only have a load of clothes to do every other day or so.  For the days in between, I typically make that a day for sheets, blankets, towels, curtains, etc.  I've found that if I break the daily habit, I'm more than likely to put the laundry off another day..  but if you're the type of person that can break routine and hop back into it, then kudos to you and enjoy a day off from laundry!

If you give this two step formula a try for one week, I bet you'll notice a huge difference your laundry situation!  I know change is hard, but once you make it part of your daily routine, you'll wonder how you survived without it.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Seriously Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes and Icing

My oldest's birthday party is next weekend, so I've been searching high and low for a cupcake recipe from heaven.  Seriously.  It has to be flavorful, moist, and most of all, vegan.  Via Pinterest, I found this lovely lady's blog and a beautiful recipe that I successfully tweaked to make it vegan.



Perfectly Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cacao powder  (I used Himalania Organic Cacao Powder from Sprouts)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs (or egg substitute)
1 cup chocolate cashew milk (I used Silk)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract (I used Simply Organic Pure Vanilla Extract from Sprouts)
1 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 350.  Line muffin tin with paper liners.  In a large mixing bowl, stir together sugar, flour, cacao, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Once thoroughly mixed, add in eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla.  Beat on medium speed for 1-2 minutes.  Stir in boiling water (which causes the batter to be thin, but this is perfect).  Fill liners 2/3 full with batter (putting the batter into a large measuring cup with a pour spout made this so much easier and less messy).  Bake cupcakes for 18-22 minutes.  Cool completely on wire rack before frosting.  This recipe yielded 24 regular sized cupcakes for me.


Bada bing bada boom.  It's so moist, light, and full of flavor.  Exactly what I had been looking for.  Then I went on to search for an icing recipe.  Pinterest saved me again by connecting me to yet another lovely lady's blog with the most perfect icing recipe EVER that I once again tweaked to make vegan.

Best Vegan Buttercream Icing

1/2 cup butter substitute, room temperature (I used Smart Balance)
5 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract (again, I used Simply Organic Pure Vanilla Extract from Sprouts)
1/4 cup chocolate cashew milk (again, I used Silk)

In large mixing bowl, beat butter substitute until creamy and fluffy.  Add sugar gradually, one cup at a time.  Add in vanilla and milk, and mix on high until silky smooth.

By adding chocolate cashew milk instead of just original cashew milk (or other non-dairy milk) it gave it this delicious hint of chocolate so that it paired beautifully with the cupcake recipe, but not so bold that it overpowered the original vanilla buttercream flavors.  These are definitely my new go-to recipes for cakes and icings.  They're so simple (but SO tasty) that they can easily be tweaked to accommodate other flavors.  Recipes.  From.  Heaven.


Friday, September 9, 2016

Yummy Chocolate PB Cups

Sometimes life likes to throw you curve balls.. like a fast track class that you thought was 8 weeks but is actually 4 weeks (not that I would know anything about that), and all of a sudden your life is crazy hectic.  Then, you have this event to go to where you need to bring dessert.. but forgot all about it until last minute (not that I would know anything about that either).  Never fear, another brilliant recipe is here!  These delicious little cups were a big hit, and everyone couldn't believe how simple they were to make... AND with only two ingredients!!  They are also VEGAN due to these specific mini chips being dairy free.

(Pictures of these morsels will be coming soon)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini Chips
Creamy Peanut Butter

In a mini cupcake pan, add mini cupcake cups.  Melt mini chips in microwave for about a minute (keep an eye on it to keep it from burning).  Fill 1/3 of each mini cupcake cup (about 1/2-1 tsp) with melted chocolate.  Add in about 1/4-1/2 tsp of peanut butter to the center of each cup, leaving enough room on the sides for the chocolate to cover it.  Fill the rest of the cup with melted chocolate (melt more mini chips if needed).  Put cups in freezer and freeze for a couple of hours. Then, voila! A deliciously easy masterpiece.

Keep in mind that these darlings will begin to get melty once in room temperature for a long amount of time.  Not enough for them to lose their shape, but enough to get on your fingers while eating them (which is easily fixed by licking it off).  You can also make these in regular cupcake pans/cups to make giant chocolate peanut butter cups.

WARNING: This dessert is so good that you can't eat just one! Make sure to make plenty to go around.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Which Woolly Sheep for Us?


This week we narrowed down our choices in sheep. Yes, sheep.  Bet you didn't know how complicated that could be.. because I certainly didn't! There are so many breeds.. some are great only for specific regions, others are more adaptable, some are great mothers while many need assistance lambing, and the types of wool on their back vary widely (which was a main concern since we want to raise them for wool) as well as their build.  With the wool, I want to be able to make soft items (sweaters, blankets, etc) and durable items (mostly rugs) as well.  Sheep's wool ranges from fine, medium, long, carpet, and there are even hair sheep (which are actually becoming really popular in the U.S.).  After tons of research, I decided the fine and long types of wool would work best for us. Then I had to take in consideration that we are in Oklahoma... where it can snow and then suddenly have a heat wave in the same day, so we need breeds with adaptability.

For our long wool breed, I want Romneys. They are VERY adaptable and can withstand extreme climates. They're so adaptable that they developed a resistance to foot rot AND their fleeces aren't damaged by harsh weather. They have long, lustrous fleeces that are easily spun, so they're great for beginners (cough cough..).  It's very high yielding, readily takes dye, and has the finest fiber diameter of the long wool breeds.  The finer the fiber diameter of the wool, the more money it's worth.  It also has low grease content, which means it only shrinks slightly when washed.  These darling sheep also have a quiet temperament and bond and train easily with their shepherds.  Their popularity is growing, so if we decided to breed, their lambs would sell easily.

For our fine wool breed, I want Merinos or at least a descendant from Merinos (like Cormos or Debouillets).  They have the finest, softest wool and are very adaptable.  They're excellent foragers, are great mothers, and have a strong instinct to stay with the herd.  Their wool is excellent at regulating body temperatures, absorbing water but retaining warmth, and avoiding that wetness feeling.

I plan on eventually getting a couple lambs of each breed, but this will be a loooong ways away.  I want to get our garden, foul, and goats established first, which will take years. I would also feel that our sheep would be more properly protected if we got a guard dog for them, preferably a Great Pyrenees.  I would want to get a puppy at the same time that we got the lambs so they could be raised together, producing a stronger bond.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Goodbye Ziploc, Hello Blox!

We have been going through an INSANE amount of Ziploc bags lately... as in 10 sandwich bags a day for packing my daughter and boyfriend's lunch. RIDICULOUS!! Not only is it expensive, but it's detrimental to the planet.  So I searched for a divided container that I could pack their food in, but not worry about the fruits leaking or the flavors mixing.. a soggy sandwich would not go over well with a four year old.  After going through tons of containers, I found the perfect one.  Not only is it small enough that it fits in her lunch bag (and leaves room for her juice and yogurt) but all of the sections are perfectly divided for all of her food.  Introducing: The Rubbermaid Salad Blox!!! I think the term "Blox" is insanely cute too.


Yes, yes.. I know it says it's for salad.. but it's SO perfect for lunch. I can fit her sandwich and snack/treat in the bottom, and then her fruits, vegetables, and dip are divided up beautifully in the top portion.  AND it comes with it's own blue freezer pack that snaps directly onto the bottom.  I still put the freezer pack (the one that's for $1 at Walmart) that I had bought previously in the bottom of her lunch bag, so her lunch stays extra cold.  I no longer worry about her food becoming room temperature throughout the day.  I also don't have to worry about her smashing her food.  We've been using this for about a week now and I simply adore it. It's easy to use (and clean), keeps my daughter happy, saves us money, and keeps us from damaging Earth.  Rubbermaid also has sooo many other Blox to choose from: Sandwich kit, Entree kit, Flat Lunchbox kit, and they even sell some of their containers separately.  We are definitely going to be buying one for my boyfriend's lunch bag.  Goodbye Ziploc...and hellooooo Blox!!!