Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Making Your Own Maple Syrup: Part 2 - From Sap To Syrup

Last week we wrote about tapping our trees to make our own maple syrup. This week we wanted to share our process for turning the sap into syrup!

Outdoor burner or fryer with thermometer
Propane tank
5-gallon bucket of sap
Fine mesh sieve/strainer
1 quart measuring cup
Pot for finishing syrup inside
Cheesecloth or coffee filters
Bottle(s) for finished syrup

1) Gather your supplies.
Place your bucket of sap where it is easily accessible. Light your outdoor burner and get it going. Grab your strainer and measuring cup for transferring the sap from the bucket to the pot to boil and keep them handy.

2) Begin boiling down the sap.
Start with 1 quart of sap (it's best to keep the sap shallow in the pan so it boils and evaporates quicker). Pour the sap through the strainer into the pot on the burner. Bring it up to a rolling boil and maintain the heat. While the first batch is boiling away, pour another quart of sap and get it hot (we just used the microwave) so it doesn't bring the temperature down too much when you add it in.

In just a short amount of time, you will notice a lot of the water evaporating. When the sap level has reduced quite a bit, add in another quart. We let one batch go for about 20 minutes before putting in another quart.

Follow this process until you have used all of the sap. We were putting in 1 quart every 20 minutes, and it took us nearly 5 hours to boil down 5 gallons of sap!

3) Finish the syrup. 
After all of your sap has been boiled down to about a quart remaining (basically the same level you started out with), you can finish it off indoors. Nearly all of the water has been evaporated off at this point so you won't make a sticky mess of your kitchen. Before you get started indoors, run the sap through a filter once again to make sure there is nothing in the sap you don't want in there. You will notice that having been boiled down quite a bit, the sap has turned from clear to a lovely amber color. It really starts to look like syrup! But it's not there just yet.

Finished syrup boils at 7.1 degrees above the boiling temperature of water, so you need to bring it up to the right temperature for it to be transformed into syrup (the boiling point of water is usually 212 degrees, but it can vary depending on your weather and altitude so test your thermometer with some rapidly boiling water to see where it registers). If you plan to store the syrup for a while before using, at this point you can pour it into a mason jar then turn the jar upside down and the heat from the syrup will seal the lid. Otherwise, let the syrup cool to room temperature then place in the refrigerator.

And there you have it! Your very own handmade maple syrup. If you've never had fresh, homemade maple syrup, let me tell you - it is out of this world delicious! It doesn't taste like any syrup I've had before. It is more like liquid candy! We did notice that our syrup is a little bit thinner than what we're normally used to, but that didn't bother us too much because the taste more than made up for the consistency.

After 5 hours of babysitting the sap we were pooped! We had more sap to go, but were honestly getting tired of the process. We were wondering if there was anything else we could do with the sap other than going through the whole process to make finished syrup. David got creative and put some sap on to boil for a few minutes just to sort of sanitize it, then put it in a cup with a tea bag and made some tea! It was pretty good, but needed a bit more sweetness for our taste buds, so we added a little honey and it was perfect.

All in all, we are very happy that we did this ourselves and learned firsthand how maple syrup is made. We definitely have a much deeper appreciation for it now! That being said, I don't know if we'll continue to make our own syrup in the future. We both agreed that it was A LOT of work for such a small amount of syrup (the ratio of sap to syrup is a staggering 40:1 after all) and we didn't really feel that it was the best use of our time. We don't use maple syrup all that much, so to be quite honest I'd rather shell out $7 for a bottle of pure maple syrup at the store than going through the long process of making our own (and spending much more than $7!). I know that's not very homesteady of me, but that's the truth. We are still learning which activities interest us and are good uses of our time and money, and for us, maple syrup just isn't one of them.

I would recommend that everyone try this at least once and see how much work it is for yourself. It is neat to see the process and have an understanding of all that goes into a tiny bottle of syrup. Who knows, maybe you'll love it and find a new passion! But for us, I think one time was enough.


Shared with Down Home Blog Hop, Wildcrafting WednesdayCountry Homemaker Hop, Farm Girl Blog Fest, Farmgirl Friday Blog HopExplorers Blog HopSunny Simple SundayEco-Kids TuesdayThe HomeAcre Hop, Backyard Farming Connection Homesteading Skills     

Monday, January 28, 2013

Pioneer Women

For about a year now, some of my family has been meeting up monthly to try out different crafts and do-it-yourself projects centered on homesteading and self-sufficiency. We call ourselves the "pioneer women" and our group has made all sorts of homemade items like soap, candles, and cheese, and we've also gone on fun outings to local fairs, wineries, and museums. This weekend we met up at my place to try our hand at homemade cough drops and potpourri simmer pots.

We experimented with a couple different cough drop recipes, and everyone agreed that this one was the clear winner. All we did was brew some strong herbal tea, then add sugar at a 1:1 ratio and boil until the mixture reaches 300 degrees. We used powdered sugar with shallow indentations in a cake pan to act as molds for the drops and once the mixture reached the appropriate temperature, we simply poured it (very carefully!) into the prepared "mold."

We let the drops set until hard, then rolled them around in the powdered sugar to finish them off. These are actually really tasty and good whether you have a cough or not!

Next we assembled the potpourri. For one batch, mix 1/2 cup fresh cranberries, 3 cinnamon sticks, 1 T whole cloves, 1/2 T nutmeg, and one whole orange. Place the ingredients in a sauce pan with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low to maintain a simmer. Keep adding water as it evaporates to make the potpourri last as long as you like. The lovely scent will fill your home and make it feel so cozy.

We always have to get a group shot at the end with some of our spoils. Everyone has a fun time catching up while learning new skills and figuring out which projects we'd like to tackle next time.

Can't wait til the next one in February. We have some great things lined up for the next few months!


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Friday, January 25, 2013

Feathered Friend Friday

Last weekend I witnessed one of the funniest, sweetest, most heartfelt things I have ever seen. One of our original hens, Jobin, has come off of her molt and has lots of new, beautiful, fluffy feathers. Last week I noticed her comb had turned from a dull, pale color to a bright waxy pink, so I wondered if she would start laying again soon.

On Sunday I let everyone out of the coop and spent some time with them since I don't get to see them much during the week. I noticed Jobin was being very chatty and running to and from nesting boxes. I watched her behavior for a while and noticed our head rooster, Cam, was by her side the whole time. Almost like he knew something was going on and wanted to be there to comfort her. Jobin has always been a noisy layer and seems to be annoyed by the whole process, so I knew her tell-tale signs of an impending egg (I call it "egg frustration") and apparently Cam does as well.

The longer I observed them, I noticed Cam acting like he was trying to help Jobin out and remind her where to lay her egg. He was being very vocal as well and standing by a nesting box, almost like he was telling her, "Get in here woman and lay your egg!" She wasn't getting the picture, so he led by example and climbed right into one of the nesting boxes! Jobin ran over to see what he was doing, but never got the hint. Eventually she ran out of the coop and the loyal Cam followed. Luckily I caught this all on camera!

I went back out to check on them a little bit later, and noticed they were both somehow crammed into the same tiny box. Cam was basically on top of Jobin but she didn't seem to mind.

How's that for moral support? I guess it worked because she eventually laid an egg that afternoon!


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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Making Your Own Maple Syrup: Part 1 - Collecting The Sap

Last year we really wanted to tap our maple trees to make our own syrup, but I procrastinated so we missed our window of opportunity. We decided about a month ago to get serious about it this year so we started watching the weather and planned our time to collect the sap. Last weekend conditions were favorable, so we made a trip to Lowe's for some supplies and set up our taps.

Since this is our very first attempt at collecting sap, we looked online for an easy way to tap maple trees and found this video to be helpful in planning out the process. We are total newbies and have already made several mistakes, but I thought sharing our experiences might help others who are wanting to tap their maple trees for the first time as well. If you are experienced and have suggestions on how we could improve our process, please let us know. We'd be happy to hear any advice you'd like to share!

Screwdriver with 5/16" and 1/2" bits
1/2" metal (not plastic) taps
3/8" clear plastic tubing
5 gallon buckets with lids

1) Find your maple trees.
This is kind of a given obviously, but if you don't know how to identify trees without their leaves, you could be searching your woods forever. We called our local resource forester with the MDC who we worked with for our logging this past summer. Marty has been such an invaluable (and free) resource. I called him last week and he came right out and marked all of our maple trees for us so we'd know which ones to tap (it is advised to tap a tree only when it is healthy and the diameter of the tree is at least 12").

2) Watch your weather patterns to know when it is the optimal time to tap.
The tree sap starts to flow the best when nighttime temperatures are below freezing and daytime temperatures are above freezing. The sap will usually flow for about 3-4 weeks, but the best sap is produced early in the season.

3) Gather your supplies.
You can buy tapping kits online which I'm sure work really well, but we didn't want to wait for anything to come in the mail and tried to keep things as cheap as possible by making a quick trip to Lowe's.

4) Let the tapping begin.
Using your 5/16" bit, drill a hole at a slight upward angle 1.5" deep at chest height on the tree (this is the hole the sap will flow out of). In the same spot, using your 1/2" bit, drill a hole 1/2" deep (this is the hole that you insert the tap into). David put blue tape on each tap as a guide to know when he hit the correct depth.

Insert the tap by "tapping" it in with a hammer. (This is where we made our first mistake. We wanted to go as cheap as possible, so we bought plastic taps and 3 of the 5 broke while trying to insert into the tree, so we went back and purchased the metal variety which worked like a charm.) You may see the sap begin dripping out immediately at this point, depending on the time of day.

Attach tubing to the spigot on the tap and feed it into the bucket at the base of the tree (we drilled a hole in the lid the exact size of the tube). Secure the lid on the bucket to keep out any debris. Our lid did not fasten tight on the bucket, so we had to put a rock on top to keep it in place.

And that's it! Now the waiting game begins. We had a pretty cold day yesterday and temperatures stayed in the 20s, so the sap froze and did not flow. The next few days should get above freezing, so hopefully we will  be able to collect more sap. We have read that the ratio of sap to syrup is 40:1, so if we are able to fill one 5-gallon bucket with sap, we should get about 16 oz of syrup once all is said and done. For our first year, I'd be happy with that. If it works out well, next year we will expand the operation, but this year we are focusing on just learning the process and working out all the kinks. Stay tuned for part 2 to hear about our method for turning the sap into syrup!

Have you ever made your own maple syrup? Did you find it harder or easier than you thought it would be?


Shared with Down Home Blog Hop, Wildcrafting WednesdayThe Country Homemaker HopThe HomeAcre Hop, Farmgirl Blog FestWhat I Am EatingCountry Homemaker HopBackyard Farming Connection Homesteading Skills, Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop

Monday, January 21, 2013

Eco Natural Soap Review & GIVEAWAY!

I was recently contacted by Alicia Hicks with Eco Natural Soap asking if I'd like to do a review and giveaway of some of their products. I hadn't heard of their company before, so I immediately went to their website to check it out. I was amazed at the selection and happy to see the tag line "Products made with pure, natural organics."

For the past few years, I have been trying to transition our body and home care items away from those full of chemicals to natural, organic options, so I was thrilled to try out several items from the shop. Alicia generously sent me two bars of soap, a lip balm, a facial balm, and a body balm.

That night when I received the package in the mail, I used the facial hydration bar to wash my face before bed. I have been using bar soap on my face for a while now, and find most to be quite drying. I was overjoyed after using the bar because my face felt so hydrated and smooth. I followed up with the facial hydration balm which made my skin feel even more fabulous. The balm is so concentrated that only a pea-sized amount is needed for the entire face. At this rate, my container will last forever!

The following morning I used the spearmint lavender bath & body bar in the shower and all I can say is WOW! The scent was so invigorating and pleasant. I used a loofah along with the soap which produced a thick, luscious lather. I truly felt like I was at a spa!

My hands have been really dry lately with the cold winter weather, but the dry skin balm totally cleared that up. I just rubbed a very small amount on my hands and my dryness totally disappeared. It left my hands feeling so smooth and supple with no greasy feeling whatsoever. And the citrus sunrise scent was totally intoxicating; it smelled like I had just zested a whole bag of fresh lemons!

I have been using the organic lip balm nonstop since receiving it. I love how rich and hydrating the balm feels. I haven't had to worry about dry, chapped lips ever since (David has been using it as well!).

Eco Natural Soap is generously gifting one of my readers their choice of any two bars of soap, one body balm, and one lip balm (US residents only). All you have to do is visit their website  at, choose which items you love the most, and let me know in a comment below.

If you are a follower of my blog, let me know in a separate comment for another entry, and if you like Eco Natural Soap on Facebook (go here and be sure to let them know I sent you) tell me in another comment for an additional entry. That's up to three entries per person! Please make sure to include a valid email address in your comment(s) so I can contact you if you are the winner. Giveaway ends on Friday, January 25th, 2013 at 11:59pm CST. Winner will be chosen at random via and I will announce the winner on Saturday, January 26th.

Just in case you can't wait to purchase some of their items, Alicia has graciously offered all of my readers a 15% discount on any and all of their products with no restrictions and no minimum purchase. Simply enter coupon code tam150125 at checkout to receive the discount. You may use the discount code as often as you like until the end of the day on Friday, January 25th, 2013. 

Good luck!!!


*****GIVEAWAY CLOSED***** Winner is Jessica Lane from Barefoot By The Sea!

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*Disclaimer: The products photographed and listed above were provided to me free of charge for the purpose of this review. All opinions stated herein are my own.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Feathered Friend Friday

Welcome to our series "Feathered Friend Friday." Every Friday I write a post with interesting facts, photos, videos, or funny stories about our chickens and guineas. If you need to catch up, you'll find all the Feathered Friend Friday posts here   

I've mentioned before that I love to give my chickens oatmeal when it is cold outside, but recently I tried out something else that they went equally crazy for.

I've heard others talking about doing it, and I don't know why I waited so long to try it out! I put some of their regular feed (16% protein layer crumbles) in a bowl and mixed it with warm water until it was a porridge type consistency. Just plain old food mixed with water - and they thought it was a special treat! Especially Duchess, who had to come see what all the fuss was about.

It does smell a little stinky, but it's not too overpowering. The chickens didn't seem to mind the smell (check out this article, 8th paragraph for more on their sense of smell) or the fact that their faces got pretty messy!

Poor Roosty's wattles are so big, they are bound to get covered in whatever he's eating or drinking!


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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Love Of Animals

My love of animals started at a very young age when my parents surprised me with a tiny calico kitten named Patches. I can still remember the day I got her. I was so excited! Apparently I loved to tote her around and pose for photos because I found this in an old photo album a while back.

I had Patches until I was in college and we had to put her down. It was the hardest decision I ever had to make. My love of animals didn't end there, though. David got the cutest little kitten named Jasper while we were in college. Jasper is still with us today and a very important part of our family.

After we were married, we decided to get another cat. That's when the crazy Fitz entered our lives! (David is an animal lover, too.)

Up until a few years ago, I didn't realize how my love of animals would extend to include so many different species! After the cats, there were the chickens. Aster B was my chicken soul mate. We lost her last summer and it was such a hard time, I couldn't even talk about her to anyone. But now I can remember the good times and be happy she was in my life.

We got Duchess after moving to our homestead, and I learned how to love a neglected, shy dog and earn her trust and love in return.

Last year, we hatched out our first ever eggs from our guineas and I fell in love with the tiny keets.

We haven't had the pleasure of raising any other livestock just yet, but I have met a sweet little lamb and an adorable cow and was totally smitten with them.

I even got to play with a mini horse once!

While David played with the normal-sized horses (they kind of scare me!).

Once my grandma told me "You could make a pet out of anything!" and I believe it's true. It's hard to explain to someone who's not as crazy about animals as I am, but I definitely could not live without them. They add so much joy and richness to my life and make me a better person.

"Any glimpse into the life of an animal quickens our own and makes it so much the larger and better in every way." - John Muir


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Monday, January 14, 2013

Winter Salad With Cranberry-Orange Dressing

I usually read a magazine while eating lunch at work, and Prevention is one of my favorites. Last week I came across a recipe that really caught my eye. I love cranberries, and I'm always looking for ways to eat more greens, so this salad looked promising. I have to say, it totally delivered.

Winter Salad With Cranberry-Orange Dressing
from Prevention Magazine
Serves 4

1 cup fresh cranberries (I used frozen, thawed)
1/4 cup orange juice (freshly squeezed makes all the difference)
2 T olive oil
2 T honey (or agave to make it vegan)
2 T chopped shallot (I used scallions)
1 T water
1 t grated fresh ginger
4 cups winter salad greens
1/2 cup orange segments
1/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
Salt & pepper

1. To make the dressing, combine the cranberries, orange juice, olive oil, honey, shallot, water, ginger, and salt & pepper in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped.
2. Toss salad greens, orange, and dried cranberries in a large bowl with enough dressing to coat.

This salad is bright, beautiful, and bursting with flavor. I am on a pomegranate kick right now, so I added some pomegranate seeds which contributed even more color and texture. A handful of freshly-shelled pecans from David's grandma made an excellent addition as well.

The balance of sweet and tart works so well in this salad. It's definitely a keeper for us (David loved it) and I can foresee lots of this salad in my future when our lettuce garden starts to boom this year!


Shared with What I Am Eating, Clever Chicks Blog Hop, Farm Girl Blog FestTweak It TuesdaySunny Simple SundayHearth & Soul HopBackyard Farming Connection HopDown Home Blog HopThursday Favorite ThingsHealthy Vegan Friday, Tasty TuesdaysFarmgirl Friday Blog Hop   

Friday, January 11, 2013

Feathered Friend Friday

Welcome to our series "Feathered Friend Friday." Every Friday I write a post with interesting facts, photos, videos, or funny stories about chickens and guineas. If you need to catch up, you'll find all the Feathered Friend Friday posts here 

Before we got our chickens, I would never have really called myself a collector of anything (of course there were unicorns and dolphins when I was a preteen, but I'm not going to count that). But nowadays, I find myself amassing a nice collection of chicken-related items. And I love it.

My favorite piece by far has to be this batik painting by my wonderfully talented friend, Holly.

Isn't it so cute and quirky? It has found a perfect home on top of our vintage bathroom cabinet. I love having such an artistic friend!

On top of the cabinet I also have a miniature hen on a nest. Last summer my family had a yard sale and one of my aunts held this back for me so no one else could snatch it up!

We have another piece of chicken art displayed in our bathroom as well (I like to keep the items I love in a place where I will see them every day). I picked this one up at a farmers market in town last summer. It was created by a great local artist named Dawn Melka.

Next to the print I also have some chicken and guinea feathers nestled in a vase. I have feathers tucked into just about every nook and cranny of this house!

On the Hoosier cabinet in the dining room is a chicken platter that I scored at a local antique shop. It does a good job holding some kitchen odds and ends, especially freshly laid eggs waiting to be sorted for the fridge.

My very first chicken item I ever got was this yellow sponge holder for my kitchen. It used to have red paint on the comb and wattles, but that has worn off over the past couple years. I picked up this one at a local antique shop as well.

Luckily David seems to be ok with my love of chicken decor. I think he realizes the old saying is true - "Happy wife, happy life!"

I'm curious - do you collect anything?


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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

City To Country

Now that we've been on our homestead for nearly two years, we can reflect (and laugh a little bit) about some of the unexpected differences between city and country life. David and I had both lived in the city our whole lives up until moving to the country in May 2011, so we basically walked into this thing totally blind. It has been an adventure, and some things have been more surprising than others in our transition.

For one, we had to get an address and buy a mailbox!

The house we moved into was just built a few years ago and the previous owner had a PO box in town, so there was no physical mailing address or mailbox. We wanted to get mail delivered to our home, so we had to get an address. It took a while to get all the kinks worked out, but we now have a rural route address. We normally don't have issues getting our mail, but have found that FedEx and UPS don't recognize our address so they won't deliver to us.

We also learned all too quickly about the danger of ticks. Just two weeks after we moved, David was bit by a tick and developed the "bull's eye rash" associated with Lyme disease. Thankfully, if caught early enough and treated with antibiotics, Lyme disease can be prevented. But that really scared us, so we immediately got a flock of guineas to wage war on the ticks. The guineas have worked surprisingly well at reducing the tick population (when they're not busy dust bathing in our herb garden, that is).

We knew before we moved out here that our water would be supplied through a well, but being the city girl that I was and not knowing much about well water, I didn't realize that the water got to our house through an electric pump. Of course this means that if the power goes out, we have no water. Obviously we (and our animals) need water to survive, so this became a huge concern. We could deal with losing the lights and maybe the heat for an extended period of time, but water is the ultimate necessity.

David's mom and stepdad heard about our concerns over the possibility of losing power and being without water, so while they were in town visiting for Christmas, we got a VERY unexpected blessing...

They bought us a generator! We had been talking about buying one after this last power scare and were trying to think of how we could pay for one, but now we don't have to worry about that. I don't think I've ever received such a generous gift and we are so very grateful. Thanks again, Cindy and Ramon!

Have you made the transition from city to country life? What took you by surprise?


Shared with Down Home Blog Hop, Farm Girl Blog Fest  

Monday, January 7, 2013

Chocolate Mousse

A couple years ago, I gave up dairy. Several different factors prompted this decision, but the catalyst was getting my cholesterol checked for the first time and being told by my doctor in my mid-twenties that I had high cholesterol and needed to go on a diet (you can read more about that here). After I was off dairy for a while, I couldn't believe how good I felt, so that made staying dairy-free a no-brainer.

Of course I cheat every now and then, but when I'm cooking at home I don't use dairy products. There are a few foods I definitely miss, and desserts made with heavy cream, like chocolate mousse, typically top that list. Yesterday I found a recipe for non-dairy chocolate mousse with a secret ingredient that really took me by surprise.

Chocolate-Avocado Mousse
by Giada De Laurentiis
Makes 4 3/4 cup servings

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (Ghirardelli brand in the gold wrapper is dairy-free)
4 very ripe (8 oz.) avocados, peeled and pitted
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup agave
1 T pure vanilla extract (I left this out and it was just fine)
1/4 t salt

Melt the chocolate chips. Place the melted chocolate, avocados, cocoa powder, agave, vanilla, and salt in a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Spoon (I used a piping bag) into cups and refrigerate for a couple hours, or up to 1 day.

Avocados! Who would have thought? When I first blended up all the ingredients and tasted to measure the sweetness, I was disappointed because there was a definite avocado taste. I put the mousse in the refrigerator for a couple hours then tried it again, and it was heaven. Thick, creamy, with a deep chocolate flavor and no hint of avocado whatsoever. The mousse was even more delicious sprinkled with chopped pistachios and pomegranate seeds.

Even David, who is very picky about non-traditional ingredients, thought this was really good and he couldn't detect the avocado at all. I suspect if I didn't tell him about the secret ingredient in the first place he would have thought I used heavy cream!

I really can't say enough how pleased I was with this non-dairy chocolate mousse recipe. Even if you consume dairy, you should give it a try. Avocados are great for your body, inside and out, and make for a delicious ingredient in this chocolate mousse.


Shared with Weekly Top ShotClever Chicks Blog Hop, Sunny Simple Sunday, Backyard Farming Connection HopTasty Tuesdays, Hearth & Soul Hop, Tweak It TuesdayDown Home Blog HopThursday Favorite ThingsCreative Things ThursdayHome Sweet HomeHealthy Vegan FridayLe Chateau des Fleurs, What I Am Eating

Friday, January 4, 2013

Feathered Friend Friday

My friend Heather is great at giving gifts. She always keeps in mind the recipient's interests and manages to find the perfect present. Case in point - for Christmas she gave me a bottle of wine. But not just any bottle of wine. Knowing my love of chickens, she got me a bottle with a giant rooster on the label!

I had never heard of this wine before, but of course I instantly adored it because of the cute rooster. I inspected the bottle and found that this brand is named after a legendary 47 pound rooster - HRM (His Royal Majesty) Rex Goliath. My biggest rooster tips the scale at about 10 pounds, so I can't imagine how big a 47 pounder would be! I was utterly intrigued and had to learn more about Rex.

On the wine company's website they explain the legend of the world's largest rooster -
"At the turn of the 20th century, HRM (His Royal Majesty) Rex Goliath was the treasured attraction of a Texas circus. People came from far and wide to behold the 47 lb. bird, billed as the “World’s Largest Rooster.” Our label replicates the one-of-a-kind vintage artwork from the circus banner that hung above Rex’s roost."

How cool is that?! Tonight I plan on cracking this baby open with my husband. I can't wait to try it! Needless to say, I will be saving the bottle :)

Have you ever heard of this giant rooster?


UPDATE: The wine was pretty good! A tad bit dry for my taste, but overall a good wine I'd say.

Shared with Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop 

This is not a sponsored post.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Guest Post

Today I'm sharing my Indian-spiced bean and tomato soup over at Frugal Foodie in WV. Go here to check it out!

While you're there, be sure to click around and check out some of Ann's posts. Her blog is great!


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Banana Cashew Smoothie

Now that the holiday season is over, I'm looking to return to my normal diet. No more snacking on sugary sweet treats and eating until I'm stuffed. During this transition phase, I like to mix things up a bit so I'm not bored with my food or feeling deprived. I normally eat granola for breakfast, but have learned that a smoothie is a great way break out of my routine. A while back I found this recipe and it is usually my go-to when I'm craving a smoothie.

Banana Cashew Smoothie
via Real Simple
Serves 1

1/4 cup raw unsalted cashews*
1 cup ice
1/2 banana
1T pure maple syrup

1. Place 1/2 cup water and the cashews in a blender.
2. Cover and refrigerate until the cashews have softened, at least six hours (and up to overnight).
3. Add the ice, banana, and maple syrup to the cashew/water mixture and blend until smooth and frothy.

*If you are trying to lose weight, don't be scared by the fat content of the cashews. It is considered "good fat" and according to Health Diaries, research has shown that people who eat nuts twice a week are much less likely to gain weight than those who rarely eat nuts.  

I find that this smoothie starts my day out right and leaves me feeling satisfied until lunchtime. For me, if I begin the day with a healthy breakfast choice, I am more likely to choose healthy options all day long. This smoothie really helps me start the day off on the right foot!


Shared with Down Home Blog HopThursday Favorite ThingsFarmgirl Friday Blog Hop, What I'm EatingHealthy Vegan Friday, Creative Things Thursday, Food on Friday