Monthly Archives: December 2009

Git ‘Er Done 2009 – Did we make it?

Did we make it?  Well the short answer is almost.  I just went through the entire list and am happy to say that what we didn’t accomplish fit on the back of an envelope.  It just figures that there are one or two things in each place that we didn’t get to.  That’s what lack of focus does I guess.  The one room I completely finished was the kitchen, until we had the new front door installed.  Now I have to redo the trim on that wall.  The living room is all done too except for needing 2 more curtains.  The basement didn’t get much attention at all, that will have to do done in 2010.

Here’s the complete list of what’s left:

  • Bedroom:  new trim, curtain on closet, paint window frames.
  • Bathroom: new trim.  I think we’re going to have this room drywalled (currently paneled) so I’ve been waiting.
  • Office: Paint, decorate, new curtains.
  • Kitchen: trim around new door.
  • Back Room: finish trim, put cabinet door back on.
  • Living Room: finish curtains.
  • Spare Bedroom: Touch up paint on trim.  I organized this room and it so nice to have more usable space.
  • Basement: Install laundry tub, install shower, paint, curtain for base of stairs, new cabinets/tables/shelves.
  • Outside: flagpole/strawberries (we did get the farm sign poles in so we can put them up this winter), finish shed repairs.

Where we accomplished the most was outside.  I am so impressed – I can hardly believe how different our yard looks!!  My husband rocks!  We hired a helper for a few weeks to get some of the work done.  Then, Brian borrowed a friend’s excavator and tore down our garage.  It looks so much better out there.  Plus we had a whole new roof put on the shed that burned and we put up a new barn for the animals.  I guess I owe you guys some pictures!

So my whole goal with the Git ‘Er Done list was to avoid feeling overwhelmed in 2010.  Did it work?  I think so.  I feel so proud of what we have accomplished.  In the grand scheme of things we don’t have that much more to do.  There will always be repairs and maintenance to be done but the bulk of the fixing up and tearing down is done.  Yahoo!!

How did you do on your projects in 2009?  Do you feel better now?

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I took the plunge!

Well, I did it.  After literally HOURS of online research I went ahead and ordered an incubator!  I am so excited.  We got a Christmas bonus at work at the very last minute so I didn’t use it to buy gifts for anyone else.  I have been thinking a lot about chickens the last few days and making plans for the upcoming year.  I had hoped we would have enough eggs to sell by now but since we had to cull our first flock for egg eating right before the heritage birds starting laying we haven’t had enough.  I really didn’t want to order a bunch more heritage chicks.  They are so expensive and of course are straight run so we end up butchering most of the roos.  The other option is to go to the feed store in the spring and buy Rhode Island Red pullets.  I do really like my heritage breeds though, so what”s a girl to do?

I guess I’m going to try to hatch my own!  I won’t have anything invested in the chicks except the cost of the incubator and running it.  We can have the roosters butchered for our own use since we can use them anyway.  My only concern is producing good quality birds.  I need to read up on the APA standards and try to develop an eye for that.  I may have to order more at some point anyway to introduce “new blood” although I don’t know that new chicks wouldn’t be just as closely related.  I’ve heard of other farms using the same rooster for several years without any problems.  I guess we’ll see!

Pretty early on in my reading I narrowed my choices down to two options for incubators:  the Brower Top Hatch…

And the Brinsea Octagon 20 ECO…

In the end I decided on the Brinsea.  Everything I have read claims the company has excellent customer service, and that’s a big deal for me.  The Brower had many good reviews but tends not to hold temperature as steadily.  Since our house is cold and drafty I like that the Brinsea is well insulated.  Both incubators are durable plastic and easy to clean.

What about cost?  The Brower was around $148 before shipping and includes an automatic turning tray.  The Brinsea was on sale for $99 (reg. $129) for the incubator and $49 (reg $69) for the automatic turning cradle so a total of $148 before shipping.  So they were the exact same price but I feel due to the sale I’m getting a little nicer piece of equipment for the same $$$.  Shipping on the Brinsea was $37 so my total was $186 and some change.  I feel really confident that I’m getting something good, I hope all my reading of reviews pays off and that I’m not disappointed!

A note about the turning cradle, Brinsea’s website calls for tipping the incubator twice daily on the manual cradle.  The automatic cradle turns the eggs every hour which I guess is “optimum”.  I don’t think it would be hard to tip the cradle twice daily but I just want the chicks to have every possible advantage so we have good hatch rates.  So my point is if you’re thinking of an incubator you could be set for $99 + shipping.  Pretty sweet.

Now I just need to pick up a thermometer/hygrometer to better track the temperature and humidity.  I’ll wait until closer to spring to try any hatching but it will be nice to know everything is ready.  I’m looking forward to sharing my new adventure with all of you!

Pictures of our Christmas!

Pictures of special loved ones get Santa hats around here!

Our poor tree, I never did get around to decorating it!

My sister and my family’s foreign exchange student, Nana.

Isn’t my Mom’s tree beautiful!?

My mama.

This needs no explanation. 😉

Tresa, Mom, Me

Us.

Hope  you had a great one!

What $168 Gets You

So there was a good sale…

I got:

  • 2 gallons milk
  • 24 chicken patties (yes, gasp, these are one of the few convenience foods I still buy)
  • 2 packages smoky links
  • 1 package ham slices (to freeze in case I am asked to take ham rollups to a party again)
  • 10#s Koegel’s hot dogs
  • whipping cream (for pistachio fluff, I’m a little hesitant to feed Brian’s 93 year old Grandpa the raw cream kind we like 😉 )
  • 12#s unsalted butter
  • 2 of Brian’s deodorant
  • wheat gluten
  • jar of yeast
  • 2 bags Bear Creek chili mix
  • 10 bags marshmallows (for cheerio bars, yum)
  • 1 big bottle of ketchup to restock pantry
  • 2 pistachio pudding mixes
  • flour tortillas (why don’t I make these?)
  • 5 big cans of crushed tomatoes (for baked rotini)
  • 2 cans pineapple
  • 1 bag white chocolate chips
  • 1 bag butterscotch chips
  • 18 bags semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Another boneless ham

Basically we’re covered on ham and hot dogs for about 6 months, chocolate chips for the year, store bought tomato products for quite awhile, marshmallows for the year (I hope), deodorant and yeast for quite awhile, and chicken patties for the occasional quick dinner now and then.

If you haven’t paid attention to the sale ads lately you might be missing out.  Baking stables are on sale for a steal this time of year!  Hope you’re all enjoying the season!

Chocolate Mint Delights

These were one of my new favorites this year. Why? Well because I love chocolate, I love mint, they were super easy, and they stand out in a crowd.


First you need a good chocolate cookie base. I used Kate’ Chocolate Crinkle cookie dough. She has a great post on it over at Simple, Green, Frugal Co-op so I won’t repost here. Go see the recipe, make the dough, and come back when you’ve chilled it in your fridge for 1-3 hours or longer.

You won’t need the powdered sugar for topping. Instead, you need about a cup of Andes mint baking chips. The red and white peppermint chips or the traditional chocolate and green mint pieces will both work great. Run the chip through your food processor for 30 seconds to a minute, just enough to cut the chips up smaller but not enough that they are completely powdered.

Scoop the dough out about a tablespoon at a time and roll into a ball. Try not to eat too many raw, they’re pretty irresistible. Instead, roll them around a bowl or the processed baking chips. The chips won’t coat them all over but if you press a little you’ll get plenty of pieces to stick in the dough. Then place on a greased baking sheet and bake as Kate directs: at 350 degrees F for 10-12 minutes. Enjoy!!

This recipe is part of Abbie’s Christmas Cookie Recipe Swap. Head on over to join the fun!

Sugar Cookie Fun

Who says sugar cookies have to be boring? These aren’t!


First you need a good sugar cookie recipe. I wanted something pretty plain to start with. This one fits the bill perfectly, I found it at allrecipes.com.

Ingredients

* 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 cup butter, softened
* 1 1/2 cups white sugar
* 1 egg
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients. Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden.

Now here are the two variations we made…

Snickerdoodles: Roll dough in to small balls. Roll balls in a bowl of equal parts cinnamon and white sugar. Cover completely with the mixture and place on greased cookie sheet. Bake at directed above.

Sugar swirls: Roll out a piece of dough into a rope approximately 4″ long and maybe 1/2″ across. Gently press one long side of the rope in to a line of sugar sprinkles. We used red and green, of course! Then, starting in the middle, roll the rope in a to a circle. Press gently with a flat spatula to seal together. Place on greased cookie sheet, bake as directed above. So easy, yet so festive!

I posted these cookie recipes as a part of Abbie’s Christmas Cookie Recipe Swap. Click below to see who else is baking it up this Christmas!

Butterscotch Oatmeal Cookies

These are pictured on the left below.

These great if want to add an everyday cookie with a little more substance to your cookie tins. Taken from Farm Journal’s Best-Ever Cookies.

3/4 c. flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 c. shortening
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg
1 c. quick-cooking oats

Preheat over to 325 degrees F.
Cream together shortening, brown sugar, and sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy. I used a hand mixer at medium to high speed. Add egg; beat well.
Gradually add dry ingredients, blending well. Stir in oats. Drop mixture by rounded teaspoonfuls, about 3″ apart, on greased baking sheets.
Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to cooling racks. When cool, freeze or bundle up immediately to share at Christmas get togethers. Makes 2 1/2 dozen.

I’m sharing this recipe as part of Abbie’s Christmas Cookie Recipe Swap. Click on over for other recipe ideas.