Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Clearing the Camera

Here are some pictures I took over the weekend -

This is Baby, our outdoor cat. She came with the house! The guy we bought the place from asked if we wanted her since this is the only home she's ever known. Of course we said yes! She's so pretty and such a sweetheart.

More critters! Found these guys while working on our compost bin (more to come on that later!). 

I didn't get any pictures of it, but today I saw something just as creepy and science fiction-y as the stick bugs. I was hanging out with the chickens and one of them ate the body of a daddy long legs that was right in front of me. One of the legs fell out of the chicken's mouth and started twitching! Just the skinny leg of the spider, moving on its own. Thought I was just imagining things, so I looked again and still twitching! Sat there in awe for a couple minutes until I picked up the leg and ran to find David to show him. As usual, I guess he's seen this sort of thing before because he wasn't nearly as shocked as I was. I swear that thing twitched for a good 5 minutes before I tossed it and tried to make sense of it all in my mind. Crazy. Definitely felt like a kid again today on that one.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Pizza Night!

One of our favorite dinners around here is pizza. I like to make a big batch of pizza dough on the weekend and freeze it until we're ready to use it that week. In the morning before leaving for work, I take it out of the freezer and put it on the counter so it's ready to roll out when I get home.

For my pizza dough recipe, I look to none other than Giada De Laurentiis. If you've tried any of my cooking, chances are you've had one of Giada's recipes. She is my absolute favorite chef. In my eyes, she can do no wrong. After David and I got married, I figured I should be a proper wife and learn how to cook, so I watched Everyday Italian on Food Network and Giada taught me how to cook! Ok, enough Giada love. Go here to check out the recipe I use and watch a video tutorial (the only thing I do differently is switch out 1 or 2 cups of regular flour for whole wheat to give it a little more nutritional value).

David's pizza from tonight. Bacon and cheese. A manly man pizza.

We like thin crust, so I roll out the dough as thin as I can and it gets nice and crispy.

My pizza looks a little different. I skip the cheese, and instead pile on veggies. Tonight I used sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, and broccoli.

I like to drizzle the broccoli with olive oil and sprinkle on salt and pepper so it gets all burnt and crispy.

I make my own pizza sauce as well. Ideally, I'd use my own tomatoes, but we didn't get to plant a garden this year since we moved right in the middle of summer. What we've done the past few years is freeze all the tomatoes we don't use so that even in the dead of winter we can have home-grown tomatoes to use for pizza sauce.

It really is a lot easier than you might think to make homemade pizza sauce. Tonight I tried out Tyler Florence's recipe and really liked it (I got to use our own basil in the recipe! We still have some left from what we dried last summer - our basil went crazy last year!). I like to make a double batch of sauce so I can put the leftovers in a mason jar and freeze it so all I have to do is thaw it out the next night we want pizza.

Now that I've got a good savory pizza recipe down, I want to try out dessert pizza! I'm picturing chocolate chip with powdered sugar or cinnamon swirl. Any volunteer taste-testers out there? ;)


Friday, September 23, 2011

First Signs of Fall

Happy fall everyone! Today is the official first day of fall and I couldn't be more excited. In case I didn't say it before, I looooove fall. It's my favorite season. Marching band, sweaters, warm drinks, cuddling by the fire, apple cider, hayrides, pumpkins...I love it all!

It's beginning to look like fall out here. Leaves on the ground everywhere!

A few of the trees are starting to change color. I can't wait til they all get the memo!

I made the switch from tennis shoes to rubber boots for my chicken-tending duties. Also pulled out my chicken-tending gray sweater.

Also made the switch from iced coffee to hot.

Fall foggy mornings. Beautiful to look at, not so great to drive in!

Oh, and I'm famous! My sweet friend, Heather, blogged about one of my fall creations. Check it out here!

Happy fall!


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Our Quick (and Free!) Kitchen Update

I love coffee mugs. And I don't discriminate. I like all shapes, sizes, and colors. I've seen some super cute kitchens that have coffee mugs hanging from the cabinets, so I thought that would be the perfect way to display some of my favorite mugs.

From L to R:

1) Our mission statement! This is probably my favorite quote ever, so when I saw it on a coffee mug at Starbucks I had to have it. "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined." - Thoreau
2) My Missoni for Target spoil! Kind of obsessed with this one at the moment.
3) A mug I painted! Can't see it, but it says "coffee" on the front.
4) This should require no explanation at all. Troy and Abed in the Morning! This is actually David's mug I got for him last Christmas.
5) A cute mug David's mom made for us one Christmas. It has pictures from our honeymoon on it!
6) Another one of my absolute favorites - handmade by my amazing friend Holly!

The mug hooks were free since David found them lying around. All we had to do was drill a pilot hole into the underside of the cabinet and screw the hook right in.

I used to be much more minimalist in my kitchen design aesthetic. Always thinking less is more. I still do, to some degree, but a kitchen can feel kind of bland and impersonal without some of your favorite items out in the open. It just makes it feel more cozy and home-y when you add your personal touches.

We have mostly been working on the outside of the house since moving in this May, so it was nice to do something on the inside. We love how it turned out!


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I Feel Like a Kid Again

One thing I love about being out in the country is seeing so many different insects and creatures that I've never seen before or even knew existed. I feel like a little kid every time I see something new. I have to find David and drag him away from whatever he's doing to come and look at what I just discovered.

Case in point, one day I saw a stick on the door of the chicken coop. I remember thinking how strange it looked, almost like a bug of some sort. Well, the stick started moving and I thought I was losing my mind. I ran inside the house to grab David and show him this crazy thing I'd found. His response was a cool, "Oh yeah, that's a stick bug." A stick what?! I had never heard of this in my whole life! This was blowing my mind.

This morning there were three of these hanging out on the garage door. They are EVERYWHERE out here. I found some cool facts about stick insects online. Crazy Stuff!

One of the first things I saw out here was a cute little toad sitting in my new flower garden. Of course I took a picture and told David, "Look! A frog!" Always the animal expert, he replied, "That's a toad, not a frog." Maybe this is something most people know by the time they are 27 years old, but not me.

Get that camera away from me, crazy human.

Here's another little guy I saw right beside the back patio just hanging out one day. I think he's smiling at me!

There are so many different types of moths out here. I've seen some that are bright solid white, white with black spots, bright pink, multicolored, tiny, and huge. But this one kind of blew my mind.

I saw this butterfly out in the chicken run one day. At one point there were three of these flying all around me.

We've also seen raccoons, opossums, deer, praying mantises, spiders galore (daddy long legs are everywhere and we saw a Missouri Tarantula once!), lizards, the tiniest toads ever, snakes (a big black one and also one so tiny I thought it was a worm), hawks, hummingbirds, and so much more.

I feel so full of wonder and awe every time I step outside my door and see God's creation. Now what I'm really looking forward to is seeing all the leaves change color this fall. Fall is my absolute favorite season and I can't wait.

If you live in the city, I encourage you to take time to go out to the country and explore. It's great to feel like a kid again!


Sunday, September 18, 2011

I've Found It!

After years of trying out different recipes, different methods, different ingredients, I think I've found it. The perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe!

David is obsessed with chocolate chip cookies and requests them usually once a week. I've tried so many different recipes trying to get the perfect cookie, but I think this one is it. I found this recipe over on Farmgirl Fare, one of my favorite blogs.

The cookies are HUGE! You use a 1/4 cup ice cream scoop for each cookie. They were the perfect texture too - slightly crispy on the edges with a soft and chewy center. One of them should easily satisfy your sweet tooth, but I did manage to down 3 1/2 of them tonight! I cannot say no to dessert. Ever!


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Here We Go

This summer, my husband and I moved out to the country.

We first became interested in learning where our food comes from after watching the documentary Food, Inc. The film was very eye-opening and sparked an interest in learning more about where our food comes from. We decided that we wanted more control over what we eat, so the logical first step seemed to be starting a garden and keeping a small flock of egg-laying hens in our back yard. Due to a lack of research, we ordered the chicks before finding out that it was illegal to keep chickens in the city. Oops. After a year and a half of our underground egg ring, we decided it was time to move away from city ordinances and regulations that stifled the process of becoming self-sufficient.

So here we are. On 20 wooded acres in what most people would consider the middle of nowhere. We are only at the beginning of our journey to self-sufficiency and are learning more every day. As David would say, we are taking "baby steps" toward reaching our goal of being totally independent on the homestead.

David and I plan to write this blog together, so most posts will be a collaborative effort. We'll post about the latest happenings on the farm, along with posts about our other interests like food and home improvement/design. Thanks for following along while we city folk try to make it in the country!