Tuesday, November 29, 2011

O Christmas Tree

Last week we marked one thing off David's bucket list.

We went Christmas tree shopping in our own back yard! David had last Friday off, so while I was at work he scoured the woods trying to find the perfect tree. He found three he thought were contenders and let me have the final say. Then he got to work!


There's just something about your man carrying the Christmas tree he chopped down for you. Love it.

Of course he didn't carry it all the way back to the house. It was pretty heavy, after all.

The guineas were excited about the tree as well!

Once we got the tree up to the house, we had to drill a hole in the bottom because of the type of tree stand we have. Shavings went everywhere!

We were trying to figure out how we wanted to decorate the tree, and David had the idea of using popcorn. I've always wanted to try this, so we gave it a go this year.

First, I had to pop a lot of popcorn!

Of course all the bagged microwave popcorn you buy has tons of butter and salt on it, so I didn't want greasy popcorn hanging on my tree. I bought a big jar of the plain kernels and popped them in a paper bag in the microwave for a few minutes (thanks to my sis, Kerri, for the tip!).

Then I took a needle and some button thread and went to work while watching Lifetime Christmas movies. I saw three whole movies before I was done!

We added our big bulb retro lights, red ball ornaments, and a big bow on top and called it a night.

I love how it turned out! Jasper likes it, too.

Happy holidays everyone!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Beauty of Over-Ripe Bananas

If you saw these at the store, would you think, "Eww! Those are some bad bananas!" and look for the blemish-free bright yellow variety?

If so, you'd be really missing out! Let me explain. After school yesterday, David went to the local market and found these beauties on sale. Only $0.19 per pound! He grabbed all that they had left and spent a whopping $0.77. He jumped on this deal because he knows that these bananas are perfect for banana "ice cream!"

I first read about this phenomenon over on The Kitchn this past summer and couldn't believe it til I tried it. Well, I tried it and it was amazing!

First, cut up bananas and place in the freezer for at least a couple of hours.

Once frozen, take the bananas out and let them slightly thaw for about 10 minutes before whipping them up in the food processor or blender. And that's it! Before blending the bananas, you can add in whatever you like. Cocoa powder, peanut butter, and chocolate chips would all be good. But technically, you don't have to add anything at all. You could just whiz up the bananas on their own and it would be great.

I like to add in a little soy milk to make it creamier and a few drizzles of agave nectar for some added sweetness (I tried honey and it tends to glob up in cold foods, so I go for the agave). I also like to put in a few dashes of cinnamon.

If you do this in a food processor, you'll need to let it run for a few minutes to get the right texture. I've never tried it in a blender, but I'm sure you'd need to give it a few minutes that way too.

Got this food processor at Wal Mart a while back for only $5! Best $5 I've ever spent!

Voila! Yummy, easy, cheap, healthy "ice cream!"

The bananas David brought home will be enough for about 8 small servings of ice cream. Since he only spent $0.77 on the bananas, that's less than $0.10 per serving! Blows my mind.

I don't even like to eat bananas by themselves, but I love this ice cream. So even if you aren't crazy about bananas in their natural state, give this a try and let me know how it goes.

Hope everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving!


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Settling In

It's getting colder out here, so everyone is settling in for the winter ahead. For the cats, that means lots of warm blankets and naps.

And of course, lots of cuddling (that's for us, too).

The chickens are definitely settling into their winter routine. Buttercup, Chickabod, and Penguin have molted and gotten most of their shiny new feathers in. Poor Jobin, Cleo, and Tubs are in the middle of very hard molts and look pretty funky right now (almost as bad as some of these poor chickens!). Most of the time, they end up staying inside their coop or inside the carport in a cozy little area we made for Duchess (she won't go in there so the chickens have taken it over).

They pretty much only come out for treats (warm oatmeal is their favorite) or cuddles.

Since they are all in the middle of molting or just getting new feathers in, they are not laying any eggs right now. They haven't laid in probably 3 weeks or so. Last year they stopped laying in November and didn't start again until February. So sorry everyone, no eggs for a while!

Around this time of year I pull all my soup recipes back out. I love one pot meals! Thinking of trying this soup tonight. I'll let you know how it turns out! :)
*Update -Made the soup last night and it was delicious! Even David loved it. Definitely a keeper.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

One Night in St. Louis

Ok, so last night was off the chain! We had such a good time in St. Louis. The wedding started at 5:00 and dinner wasn't until 8:30, so we were worried we'd get hungry before dinner was served. We got up to STL with about an hour to spare before the wedding, so we headed to a Panera close by.

I had a free pick two on my Panera card (love that thing - saved us $8!) so David and I split it. I took the bowl of garden vegetable soup with whole grain baguette and David took the Greek salad.

I was so cold that I was holding my soup bowl for warmth!

Waiting for me to finish my soup. I like to enjoy my food, not inhale it!

After the wedding we headed over to the Hilton at the Ballpark. The cocktails didn't start until 7:00, so we had a little time to kill. I saw online that this Hilton has a rooftop bar on the 26th floor, so I thought it would be fun to check it out.

I cannot describe how amazing this place was! Great views everywhere, amazing smells coming from the kitchen (they had a huge pizza oven), and such a warm, cozy environment. The menu sounded so delicious, but we were about to eat dinner at 8:30 and had just eaten at Panera not too long before. We sat right by the kitchen where we could see a couple of chefs putting the final touches on dishes before they went out, and I couldn't help myself. We had to try something! We ended up getting the house fries with meyer lemon aioli for dipping. Yum! (It was pretty dark in there so none of my pictures turned out. Bummer.)

After we enjoyed the fries, we went outside to check out the view. It was very cold and windy so we didn't stay out there long, but it was so cool. The arch was just to our left and we could see right down into the ballpark!

The reception was absolutely amazing. Before dinner, they had the foyer set up with all sorts of great cheeses and dried fruits and nuts. Dinner was great as well, even though by that point we weren't hungry at all (but we somehow made room). First, we had a spinach salad with pickled red onions, spiced walnuts, and goat cheese. Main course was surf & turf - sea bass in a white cream sauce, petite filet in a red wine demiglace, and roasted potatoes and vegetables. I took the vegetarian entree which was a couscous pilaf with grilled asparagus, mushrooms, and zucchini. Of course wedding cake was for dessert, but they also served us a cute little ice cream bon bon! 

It was freezing walking back to the car so I stole David's suit coat :)

All in all, a really great night. Got to experience something new and different. We drove home after dinner so we got home pretty late, but it was worth it. Can't wait to go back to that rooftop bar!


Friday, November 11, 2011

Night in the Big City

We're going to a wedding tonight in downtown St. Louis. The reception is at the Hilton at the Ballpark!

This is the rooftop bar. We may have to sneak up there!

How cool is it that their anniversary will be 11/11/11?! That's easy to remember!

As much as I love living in the woods, I'm pretty excited to have a night in the city. Things can get pretty routine out here (as I'm sure everyone can attest to) so it's nice to have a break from the ordinary. And I get to play dress up! It's fun to put on a fancy dress every now and then. :)


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Why Chickens?

The first thing that got us really interested in having control over where our food comes from was the documentary Food, Inc (go here to watch the trailer). Needless to say, I HIGHLY recommend it. If you haven't seen it, stop what you're doing right now and go rent the film. I'm serious. It completely changed our attitude towards food and we have never been the same.

Right after watching the documentary we felt pretty overwhelmed. Where do we start? We knew we had to change our eating habits, but after 25 years of fast food and processed meals it seemed impossible to make a change.

First item on the agenda - start growing our own vegetables. The only way to know where your food comes from is to have complete control over it, from seed to harvest. But what else could we do? David had chickens and ducks growing up and knew they weren't hard to raise, so he suggested that we get some hens to keep in the backyard to have our own supply of fresh eggs.

Of course, being a city girl through and through, my first thought was, "Chickens? Ewww! They poop everywhere and are so stinky! Why on Earth would I ever want to have chickens in my back yard?!" But David was really interested in this idea, so we researched it. Turns out there was a growing interest throughout the US in urban chicken keeping. The online forum, Backyard Chickens, became our go to source for all of our questions.

We decided to take the plunge and ordered our eight baby chicks online from My Pet Chicken (yes, we ordered them online and they came in the mail - it blew my mind!).

And I instantly fell in love.

I couldn't believe how fast they grew! I literally had to take pictures a couple times a week to catch all the changes they were going through.

This was at 10 weeks old!
Beautiful feathers at 26 weeks old.

And the gorgeous eggs! Most of the girls were laying by 26 weeks.

The hens do produce delicious and beautiful eggs, but more than that, they have been such a source of joy for me. I had no idea a chicken could be a pet, but they make wonderful pets! Mine will jump up on my shoulder or climb in my lap for cuddle sessions. They are very talkative and social and it is really interesting to see how they interact with each other. They're always good for a laugh.

We added this rooster to the flock after moving to the new place.

I was pretty against getting the chickens in the first place, but I am unbelievably glad we did. We've learned so much about chickens in the past two years and I almost feel like a chicken whisperer! Sadly, we have already lost two of our original eight hens and it was really hard on me. But it's part of the gig, and I've learned to accept it. Apparently chickens usually live to about 7 or 8 years old (unless they are like this one!), so I plan on having lots of time with the others. :)


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Treat Yo Self 2011

I've got three words for you...

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, watch this first (and if you still have no idea what I'm talking about, I have no idea why we are friends. Only kidding, of course...).

You know, we work hard out here at the farm (or pretend to anyway, most of it is just fun for us). But David does work hard at school, and I work semi-hard at work, so inspired by Parks and Rec we decided to take a day to treat ourselves. This year, we went up to STL for a day trip. Our hard-working friends, Jamie and Holly, joined us and a new tradition has begun.

First stop, Starbucks!!!

Pumpkin spice latte for David, soy latte for me

Jamie and Holly didn't have breakfast before we picked them up, so their first treat of the day was McDonald's breakfast!

Our first stop in STL was the West County mall (didn't get any pictures of that, we were too busy shopping at H&M and Francesca's!). After working up an appetite, we really treated ourselves...


California roll in the middle, philly tempura roll on each side.

Jamie convinced David to drink some warm sake with him.

After we finished the sushi, they brought out this for us!

Of course no trip to STL is complete without our final stop. At least, that's the case if David and Jamie are in tow.

David's game is roulette (go 36!) and Jamie likes blackjack. Holly and I kill time with $20 on the penny slots :) Our favorite slot machine was called "Kitty Glitter." It was fabulous.

I think it's illegal to take pictures in the casino...don't turn me in!

We had a blast and are already throwing out ideas for Treat Yo Self 2012. Can't wait!!!