"Gypsy gold does not chink and glitter. It gleams in the sun and neighs in the dark."

~ Saying of the Gladdagh Gypsies of Galway

Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 - Quite a Year!

January Photo Credit: aubrey adair photography
February Photo Credit: Kellie Milano

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Most Popular Posts

I've been writing this blog for two and half years now. According to stats, here are the top 5 most popular posts to date!

#5 - Dark Days Challenege: Week #1  - this is a fairly new post, but since it is part of a challenge, I suspect it receives a lot of views from others also partaking in the challenge.

#4 - Sneek Peek: Maternity Photo Shoot - this post receives a lot of readers google things like 'winter maternity photos'. It's always a fun one to look back on for me.

#3 - French Onion Soup - Again, receiving lots of hits from people googling how to make french onion soup but also from recipe sites I have this link up on, this one is no surprise. This soup is crazy good!

#2 - Making Sauerkraut - this post went gang busters! And I am glad - it is nice to see people interested in things like this. And if I am being honest, my very honest grandmother told me her and grandpa didn't like the sauerkraut! I said "I know, I think I let it set too long. The consistency was too mushy. Next time I won't let it sit as long" and she said, "Yeah, but we didn't like the taste either" - ha! Gotta love an honest grandma. But, it was my first time, and their is a learning curve. And, I am confident next time around it will taste better :)

And the #1 most viewed post on my blog is....... Baby Food: Banana's ....whaaaa? I am pretty sure this receives the most hits not for its content, but because people google the dancing banana (that I just had to out in there) and they find their way to my page! Go figure!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Things to Read

Hi Folks! I am on an unexpected holiday hiatus of sorts! Between catching the flu [me] and a virus [the pc], my blogging time has been short. A few things I have read though, in the past few days, that I wanted to share if you haven't seen them already.

And who hasn't had their mailbox bombed with seed catalogs?! There isn't enough time in the day for me to go through all them, nor do I have enough will power to choose 'just a few'!

Demand for Local Food = More Young Famers!

Monsanto still dening problems *sigh*

The Simply Clean Book from Frugally Sustainable -- if you don't make your own [non-toxic] cleaning supplies, you should. It's too easy -- and this book can tell you how!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Recap

I hope everyone enjoyed their holidays!

Ours consisted of a nasty stomach flu - what joy! But, we did manage to catch a few photos.

Christmas morning gifts from Santa

 All I have to do is teach him to bring that foot forward and I think I have a rider on my hands :)

Christmas Eve with Cousin Benny & Santa!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas to All

Wishing Everyone a Wonderful Holiday!

Thursday, December 22, 2011


This reminds me of a husband I know...... ;)

Check out this gallery on babble.com to see if there is a husband you know.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Chicken Noodle Soup with Dumplings

I have never much been a fan of Chicken Noodle Soup. I know, I know. How is this possible? Just like how I am not much a fan of chocolate. *gasp*

In any event, for whatever reason, I decided I needed to make Chicken Noodle Soup. I have been feeling like I am coming down with something and with Christmas just a mere 5 days away, who wants to be sick! Everyone knows all about the amazing benefits of homemade stock, so I figure, why not.

The evening prior we had a roast chicken for dinner. What was once scary and intimidating to me (roasting a whole chicken) has become an easy, go-to meal for me when I don't want much fuss over making dinner. It's now just become habit that I make stock afterwards with the carcass.

Just a quick run down on what I put in my stock - carrots, celery, 10 (or so) peppercorns, a large clove of garlic and an onion. I brown all that up in the stock pot, add the chicken carcass and any meat I am not saving, fill the pot with water and a few glugs of apple cider vinegar and we're good to go. I bring it to a boil, let it boil for a few minutes, take it down to a simmer and then let it go all night. When I wake up in the morning, I strain it into jars and into the fridge it goes. Really, it couldn't be more easy.

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup with Dumplings
Serves 2 hungry adults with a smidge of leftovers

2 Carrots, diced
3 stalks Celery, diced
1 onion, diced
1 garlic clove, diced
1 package of egg noodles
1-2 cup(s) of cooked chicken, diced
10 cups homemade Chicken stock
extra virgin olive oil & butter

Coat the bottom of your soup pot with 1 tbsp (or so) of butter and some olive oil. Heat it up and then add in your carrots and celery - saute. After about 8-10 minutes, add in the onion and continue to saute about 5-8 minutes or so. Added in diced garlic until fragrant - no more than minute or so - you don't want it to burn.

Pour in your chicken stock and bring it to a boil. Once it is at a full boil, take it down to a simmer and allow it to go at a nice simmer for at least 45 minutes.

While your soup simmers, boil water for your noodles, cook them, drain them and set them aside. I don't like to add mine into the soup until I am ladling it into my bowl. Now is also when you want to prepare your dumpling dough. My husband is a huge fan of dumplings in his chicken soup so that is why I added them. And honestly, I think it is what made all the difference for me liking Chicken Soup!

For the Dumplings

1 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup whole milk
2 tbsp unsalted butter, cold (I use grass-fed roll butter. It is much softer than the stick butter and makes it much easier to work with in a recipe like this!)
Herbs or Seasoning of your choice. I chose to sprinkle in a little Old Bay since my husband isn't a huge herb fan.

Mix your dry ingredients together. Cut in your butter - if you have a soft roll butter like I use, it is so easy you can just crumble it in with your fingers. Add in your milk and then mix it all together.

Bring your soup back up to a gentle boil. Drop the dough mixture by small spoonfuls into your soup. You can make them larger if your prefer larger dumplings, but I think they cook up nicer when they are smaller. Cover the pot and cook 5 minutes or so, then uncover, flip over the dumplings to their other side, cover and cook another 10-15 minutes until they are cooked through.

Once the dumplings are finished, added noodles to your soup bowl, then ladle in your soup and dumplings - enjoy!

One thing I might like to add next time is some Turmeric - just a tad. I was reading about the wonderful health benefits of Turmeric and I think I would like it in my Chicken Soup - but hubby, probably not!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Baby Food: Turnips

Over the weekend, there was some nice looking Turnips at a local farmer's market I visited.

I have been curious about Turnips since I can't recall the last time I ate one. I had read somewhere that you want a small Turnip, around the size of a ping-pong ball, versus a larger one. Smaller ones are supposed to be 'sweeter'. Once they get larger in size, they taste more tart. And, surprisingly enough, all the local grocery stores (whole food type stores included) were selling softball sized Turnips!

Last night I whipped up some for the babe. They were fairly pleasant - kinda reminded me of a mashed potato really. I like root vegetables when they are roasted so I peeled & diced the Turnips and then swirled them around with some extra virgin olive oil. I then baked them at 325 degrees (F) for about 45 minutes or so - until fork tender.

Once they were finished, I gave them a few pulses in the food processor. Since they still seemed kinda boring to me that way, I had to kick them up a tad :) If your baby is still on plain veg puree's, they'd be good with some butter. But since my little guy is becoming more of an adventurous eater, I knew a plain turnip wouldn't cut it.

I was also making a Bacon Swiss Chard Saute recipe I found over at Food52. I thought this would be an excellent way for him to get some bacon and greens too - so I threw some of this in with the turnips for a few more quick pulses and viola! HE.LOVED.IT!!!  I should note the Chard recipe called for pasta in it and I omitted the pasta part for him and replaced it with the turnip. It turned out well!

Someone made the comment about "Turnips! Who eats Turnips!?" when I mentioned this. My answer is - we do! I am trying to get the babe accustomed to a wide variety of foods and since we are trying to eat more seasonally and locally, Turnips it was for dinner! I also read that Turnips can be a natural decongestant and since the babe has been a tad congested lately, it only seemed logical!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Ho Ho Ho

This is one kid who wasn't afraid of Santa.

In fact, he tried to put his fingers in Santa's mouth, rip off his glasses and poke his eye.....

He's been a very good boy this year :)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Dark Days Challenge - Week 3

Thisi s my 3rd week of the Dark Days Challenge.

The focus of this meal for me was E.A.S.Y! There is so much hustle and bustle going on right now that I didn't have much time to think & prepare for this meal. It kinda felt like cheating, but the more I thought about it, instead of feeling like cheating [since it was too easy], I think it just goes to show that eating local is much more easier than one may think!

Excuse the photo! Courtsey of the cell camera...

This meal was Butter Garlic Gourmet Chicken Patties from Tea Hills Farm with steamed broccoli from our summer garden! The broccoli was topped with a touch of butter from Hartzler Dairy and the pan drippings from the chicken patties. 

The meal was quick & delicious! Even the babe seemed to thoroughly enjoy his first gourmet chicken patty with a side of broccoli! And for dessert (not pictured), we dined on canned summer peaches :)

Now, one other thing I thought about with this meal....
The chicken patties were $8 - so $2 a patty. But really, that was the only cost for this meal. The broccoli was from our garden and the peaches were canned in the summer. Sure there were some costs at those times - buying the peaches, planting the broccoli - but that aside, this meal cost $8 for 2 adults and one 'nibbler'! Sometimes you can't even get a fast food meal {gag!} for 1 person at $8!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Rounding out another decade!

Grandpa & my niece, Kelsey
see any resemblance?

Happy Birthday to my Grandpa!
29 years young today!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Everybody knows....

a turkey and some mistletoe....

help to make the season bright!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

On the 12th Day...

....of Christmas, my true love gave to me.....Anxiety?

Did you know there are 12 days until Christmas? And I am in total anxiety because I have NOTHING done! Where does the time go. I still have the majority of my shopping to do and I have nothing baked yet! This is very unlike me. Does this mean I am offically an adult since the holiday seems to be more work than excitment now? I still have Christmas cards to mail, cookies to bake, gifts to buy and wrap and I need to buy a holiday outfit for my child to wear and get him to see Santa and have his picture taken. I realize he wouldn't know the difference this year, but I would! And not doing these things would be unacceptable!! Note to self - step up the A-game next year and get on the ball ;)

So today, I am sharing with you some recipes that I should already have baked and sitting out on my counter!

Tell me, what is a tradition for you to bake in your home during the holidays?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Dark Days Challenge - Week 2

Today I made the meal for week 2 of the Dark Days Challenge.

I kind of feeling like I cheated almost since it was so easy, but I have good reason. And I should also note that I still am not finding this overall challenge as easy as I thought! I think of things I could make, but once I get into ingredients required, there is always something that disqualifies the recipe!

For this week, I made an egg fritata of sorts. My husband is currently fasting due to a procedure he is having done tomorrow. So, as much as I wanted to cook up some bacon with this, I was trying to be as simple as possible all while trying not to make the house smell too good! He's starving and bacon would have been too much torture!

All I did was melt some butter from Hartzler's Dairy in my small cast iron skillet. I threw in some swiss chard I picked up from my local farmer's market yesterday and cooked it down some. Then I threw in a minced up garlic clove, also from the farmer's market. After a minute or so, I poured in 3 eggs I scrambled. The eggs were from a local Amish family. I let it cook through and breakfast was served!

The toast is probably not included ;) However, it is made from Spelt and I picked it up at the market yesterday too. I was intrigued as I learned the spelt was grown here in the area by a family whose land is certified organic for growing spelt and other grains. The other ingredients though are what outrule the bread for the challenge....salt, apple cider vinegar etc. Though, 'wild yeast' also peaked my interest! Again, I plead forgiveness! My intent was local, grass-fed bacon but I couldn't do it to my starving husband!!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Farm Manager is Grounded!

Allow me to fill you in on my last 2 days. I guess it was getting pretty dull around here with no chaotic tales from the farm. So, let me change that for you right.now!

Wednesday morning we discovered that somehow [please don't ask] my husband locked every key we have for our back garage, in the garage!! At 6:30 in the morning, this is not a welcoming revelation. Especially when one of those key rings included his car keys and the garage houses the horse feed. Let me also preface by saying the security light post that provides us light in this area - at 6:30am - had/has a burned out bulb. All my husband could say, amongst a slew of other profanities was, "We're lame - just lame", in reference to the fact that the light post bulb was still burnt out and we had no more spare keys hiding under a rock.

After attempting to pick the door lock in every fashion possible...credit cards, crow bars and the likes, nothing worked. So, hubby had the pull the trim off around the door - something we really didn't want to have to do. After about a half hour, he still couldn't get in. I believe it was now approaching 7am, and still pitch black outside. He had to move onto the little window...and pull the trim off of it. And then push out the plexi-glass. At least it wasn't your regular glass window. Then he crawled through it. Amen. He was in. And now we have a busted out window (that he had to board up before he left for work so we didn't come home to an empty garage!) and torn down trim. I must say, it could probably pass for a set on the Beverly Hillbillies if you also take into account Apollo's sliding window/door that he tore slats off of in a state of boredom.

Now, we move to the evening. We are home from work and I am in the barn cleaning stalls. I noticed Savannah laying in the hay. I then notice Savannah laying in the hay, motionless, as the horses walk all over. Usually she'd find a new spot to chill. So upon closer inspection, I notice she looks half dead and has blood marks on here. I call Allen into the barn and he attempts to pick her up. She makes the most god awful noises. Clearly, she was in a fight with something and, at that point, we thought she lost the battle. We got her into the garage in better light and she was moaning in pain at any touch. Her eyes were barely open and it looked like maybe she had a broken leg :/

There was no where we could get her that night so we made her as comfortable as possible, tucked her into her winter cabana house and then laid awake all night with anxiety. In the morning, she seemed about the same, but it did look like she ate some food. I made a call to my vet to try and get her in and of course they could only see her in the middle of the day when neither myself or hubby could get off work. We made the decision to try and get her seen at another vet who was open late, on a whim walking in, once we got home. I agonized, as did Allen, all day about what would happen to her and if we'd have to make the hard decision to put her down depending what the verdict was. I was so sick all day of hearing everyone say things about how she is 'just the barn cat' and that's what you have to do. If she was 'just the barn cat', I wouldn't have even given her a second look when I saw her laying in the hay. But those of you who have been reading my blog long enough know that Allen & I are huge animal advocates with soft hearts and Savannah is not just a barn cat. She is 'the farm manager'! She is Allen's 'right-hand man' whenever he is outside. She guards our farm better than any 200 pound guard dog. She is not just a barn cat.

I made arrangements for the babe to stay with my mom since I wasn't sure what would happen when I got home. I quickly fed and walked the dogs and threw the horses their hay. Then I said a prayer, took a deep breath, and went in to check on Savannah. I was praying I didn't find her worse off than when I left her in the morning. And of course, I walked in to the tough Savannah I know - purring, stretching and sauntering around (with a limp, of course!) waiting to be let outside.


I was in tears half the day thinking she was going to die!! How dare she!! Allen came home shortly after and came running to the garage asking me if she was dead! I gave him a 'fake' sad face and let him look for himself :) And she ran, limping, right up to him weaving herself around his legs.

So, we did as thorough of a check-over on her as we could. She had no open wounds so the blood on her must have been from her opponent. She had nothing stuck in the paw she was limping on and her eyes were bright and alert. But, she is grounded for the winter. No more gallivanting around until Spring time. My nerves can't handle another episode like this!!

The Farm Manager, Savannah
October 2012

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Thank you to the blog Sky Minded & Ever Growing; I was granted my second Liebster Blog Award!!

"Liebster" is a German word meaning dear, sweet, kind, nice, good, beloved, lovely, kindly, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome. What a gift to be awarded with such kindness!

The Liebster is a way to show a little Blog Love to bloggers who currently have less than 200 followers.

The rules:

1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.

2. Reveal your top 5 blog picks for this award and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.

3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.

4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers.

5. And most of all - have fun!

My 5 picks this go round, in no particular order, are:

My Mother's Apron Strings
Our Havenhill
Seven Gates Farm
Frugal by Choice, Cheap by Necessity
Skin Care for Your Soul

Check them out when you have time - they are great blogs :)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

2 Kinds of People

There are two kinds of people in this world - in my opinion.
Those who would do for an animal as they would do for themselves...and those who suck!

I am serious.

In the past week, I have heard more stories about animal abuse and have received more emails about people needing to off load their horses "like yesterday" than I care to think about. I don't want to get into too much detail, but one story in particular involved a dog and my heart broke for it. I wanted nothing more than to go to the owners and look them straight in the face, slap them, cuss them out, and get ALL the animals they have AWAY from them. And then let them live in the conditions they let their animals live in.

Here is a glimpse of the emails I received this past week:

Please contact me today at xxx regarding 5 Paso Finos and a Paint who need homes immediately.

I currently have 8 horses that need to go ASAP. Like this week, they vary from quarter horse, pasa finos, Arabs and a paint. 2 studs, and one gelding. Any help would be appreciated.

The things about these emails that anger me are the terms "immediately" and "need to go ASAP...like this week".

REALLY? Now I know I am assuming here, but for whatever reason you have these horses, I can assume that over the span of 24 hours you didn't just go from a happy horse owning human being to no longer wanting these animals. Whatever happened, you probably saw it coming and had ample time to try and make arrangements for these animals, rather than wait until you were in a position to pawn them off 'like yesterday'.

This is a total soap box for me if you couldn't tell! Don't get me wrong. If you can no longer financially afford to care for an animal properly, the right thing to do is find it a home that can. BUT, when you just try to off load them, or get rid of them in a hurry, chances are more than likely they won't find a good home. ESPECIALLY HORSES! You can't just let a horse move into your home as you could a cat or dog.

I could go on and on and in a million different directions with this. My point is that I truly believe, as I stated above, there are two kinds of people in this world. The kind of person I wish most of the world would be is those that would do for an animal as they would do for themselves.

Yesterday at work, I received a call from one of our construction guys out in the field, an hour away. I usually can predict these kinds of calls, especially at 8:30am. He was driving to the job site in a rural area and found a dog laying in a corn field. He was thinking maybe it was shot (since this past week was gun week for deer hunting) in our area. He said it appeared to have been laying there for a while, didn't look good, and was making 'moaning' nosies. He called me for help and wanted to know if I could get him an ok to get the dog into his vehicle and wrapped in some blankets. My boss said of course. She said it is good to know that the people we have working for our company are 'these kind of people - the kind of people who stop for a dog in need'. And I agree. I know what she means - and she couldn't be more right.

Two favorite quotes of mine....
"A man's soul can be judged by the way he treats his dog." - Charles Doran

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated” - Mahatma Gandhi

And incase you were wondering, my co-worker found a lady in a house nearby that was willing to take in the dog and care for it until the local SPCA opened up.
These are the kinds of people the world need more of.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Dark Days Challenge: Week #1

Yesterday I prepared my first meal for the Dark Days Challenge. If you aren't familiar,  you can read more about it here. But, in a nutshell, it means I have accepted the challenge to prepare at least one meal a week from Nov.27 through March 31 that is a SOLE meal - sustainable, organic, local and ethical.

I made oven baked grass fed beef patties, roasted beets and roasted purple potatos! I was going to do frozen broccoli from the freezer stash, but the beets were calling my name at the store :)
The ground beef was from Green Vista Farm - purchased at Local Roots.

The purple potatos were from Adonai Acres, also purchased at Local Roots.

The onion and garlic I used in my beef patties were from a recent visit to the Medina Farmers Market.
The only ingredients I used that were't local were olive oil on the potatos and coconut oil with the beets for roasting and the cornstarch I used when I whipped up a gravy for the patties.

Check out other particpants and their meal for the week here!

I have also linked this post up at Ruth's Real Food
and The Healthy Home Economist

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Thought You Should See

Here are some things I have happened upon lately that I thought were worth sharing!
Wee Folk Art - check them out!

Salted Caramel Sauce - *Swoon* I see a batch of this in my near future!

7 Foods You Should Never Eat - who hasn't read this article yet! I am sad about the 'maters. Canned marinara sauce is terrible.

I think I found an Xmas gift for Hubby! Remember we grew Portabella's in the Spring and then I recently read about these plugs over at Chiot's Run.

And while we are checking out the site for Peaceful Valley, I love them! And I want one of these!!

Finally tried Pasta Carbonara for the first time, with a recipe from In Jenni's Kitchen. It was great!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Baby Food: Cranberry Turkey

This post probably would have been more helpful last week, when you were wondering what to do with all your Turkey Day leftovers!

But it is the holidays, which means, you probably might see Turkey and Cranberries grace your table again sooner rather than later.

My little guy thoroughly enjoyed Turkey Day dinner! Even the cranberries!
So, for the next two days for one of his meals, he was able to enjoy leftovers...just like the rest of us!
This was super easy - a no brainer, really!!

Cranberry Turkey for Baby
Take a few slices/chunks of Turkey, and a few spoonfuls of leftover Cranberry sauce and whiz them together in the food processor. Add more Cranberry sauce to get the consistency you would like for your little one. At this point, my babe is take pieces of meat not completely pureed - we are more onto textured foods now. So, I hit the chop button a few times to get smaller bites.

In my opinion, I would let this go longer than 2 days in the fridge. And, personally, I think poultry tastes weird reheated (in a microwave, especially) so when I served this the following day, it had a slight chill to it. And the babe liked it all the same!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Winter Sunrise

No doubt Winter is here. Maybe not according to the calendar and solstice, but it's here.
When theb barn roof is covered in frost, winter is here.

There are lots of reasons I like Winter though - one of them being the gorgeous sunrises we see at our place.
I snapped this photo with my cell this morning on the way to work. Truly, the picture doesn't even do the scene justice!

Happy Friday!!