Friday, November 29, 2013

Christmas Cookie Tag!

Instead of my usual Feathered Friend Friday post, I wanted to let you know about a new series I will be participating in - Christmas cookie tag! The gang that brings you the Homemade Living series is teaming up to share 12 delicious cookie recipes to inspire your holiday baking. The series will start next Monday, so don't forget to check in and see what recipe will be shared that day. Read on to learn more!

Remember the days of tag? When you'd run and run and run, trying to avoid the one who was it? How you'd get sooooo close to being caught and you'd arch your back to just squeak by without being caught? And then you'd run *just* a little closer to the "it" person, but never close enough to actually get caught. You'd spend your whole recess trying to be safe. And you'd celebrate with tired legs and rosy cheeks if you made it the whole recess being safe.

Well, we have a new type of tag for you. But with this one it is FUN to get caught and you MUST get caught. Because what we have to offer you is so delicious that you wouldn't want to NOT be caught. That's right. You want to be caught right in the middle of our Christmas cookie baking game of TAG.

Whoever is "it" bakes cookies and posts the recipe for everyone to enjoy. And then she tags the next blogger, who will also be in charge of baking and adding a recipe to our TAG game. And she'll tag the next. And the next. And the next. And before you know it, we'll be up to our ears in delicious cookie-ness. Cookie-ness is the very best state of being during the holiday season. Cookie-ness really ought to be a word. And now I'm hungry. 

Up first next Monday, December 2nd is: Jackie from Born Imaginative!

Please join:
Jackie from Born Imaginative
Daisy from Maple Hill 101

We'll be tagging each other for the next three weeks bringing you 12 delicious cookie recipes for your Christmas holiday. We hope that you check back with us to see who's going to be the next "tagged" person!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Almost Wordless Wednesday

The last photo I took of our sweet Sylvester. Right by Emma's side, of course. I have been trying to spend lots of time with Emma since Sylvester has been gone to make the transition easier. She seems to be adjusting well and is becoming quite the independent girl.

I still miss Sylvester every day, but I have the most precious memories of our time with him. For that I am so thankful!


PS - Don't forget to visit Daisy, Staci and Sue today for their posts in the Homemade Living series. Next week I will share my post along with Mary and Jackie.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Clearing The Camera

Here are some recent photos I've taken that I wanted to share. Go here if you'd like to see more photo posts.

Guineas taking a rest on the fence.

This is how Gizmo likes to sit while looking out the window. So silly!

Brass mouthpieces from David's band room.

Playing games by candlelight during a power outage.

Visiting my neighbors across the street :)

Hope you've enjoyed a slice of our homestead!


PS - Just wanted to let everyone know that I have removed the option for anonymous comments because I have been receiving over 50 spam comments every day, many with offensive language. I have set it to comments from registered users only, so I hope that I don't exclude any of you from commenting. If you have any tips for me or if you aren't able to comment on my post, please email me at

Shared with Maple Hill Hop 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Feathered Friend Friday: Playing In The Leaves

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

This is what it looks like in our neck of the woods right now.

Leaves everywhere! Which means it is a chicken playground. They absolutely love playing in the leaves and scratching away at holes to try to find hidden bugs and other delectable treats. With the decreasing daylight, it's hard for me to find time to let them out for supervised free ranging, but I do try to oblige whenever I can. It's so fun to sit and watch as everyone comes out to play.

Of course Duchess stands out amongst the leaves, but Emma kitty is pretty well camouflaged along with some of the chickens, like Red. I can't believe how well they blend in!

Once the daylight starts to fade, the chickens begin to make their way back to the safety of the coop to settle in for the night. Most of them head back before it gets too dark, but some of the younger girls like to stay out as late as they possibly can.

After the chickens have made their way to the coop, the guineas gather around for one last feather preening session as the sun sets, just before flying up into the trees to roost for the night.

Such a peaceful, calm way to end the day. I know the chickens enjoy their supervised free ranging time, but I think I may actually enjoy it even more.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Homemade Living: How To Make Pomanders

Have you ever made pomanders or clove oranges? I've seen them before but never made any myself, so this year I decided to get some oranges and cloves and create some of my own.

It's really easy and straightforward to make your own pomanders. All you do is gather your choice of fruit (you can use oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes, tangerines, etc) and stud them with whole cloves. You can get creative and make designs on your fruit, or just completely cover them with cloves.

I found that it was helpful to use something to pierce the fruit and create a hole for the cloves before trying to insert them into the oranges (much easier on the fingertips!). I simply used an ink pen, but you can use anything you have on hand to make your pilot holes. This can also help if you are trying to make a design on your fruit so you can line up your cloves in a certain pattern.

You can also tie ribbon around your pomanders and hang them on your Christmas tree, but I chose to just display mine on a platter. The scent of the pomanders is amazing and apparently if you shake your clove studded fruit in a bag of powdered orrisroot (found at health food stores) the fruit will dry evenly and retain its scent for up to a year!

I got my whole cloves at our local health food store in the bulk spices section, so they were really inexpensive. And of course you can find a bag of oranges anywhere, so this is a great frugal way to decorate for the holidays. They also serve as a fabulous all-natural air freshener with no chemicals whatsoever! Every time I walk past the pomanders I get a hint of the scent and it just screams holidays to me. I think I will make these clove oranges for years to come!


This week in the Homemade Living series, I am joined by Mary and Jackie in posting about how we incorporate homemade items into our lives. Next week Daisy, Staci, and Sue will be up. If you have some free time, please check out the other posts in this weekly series!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Frugal Finds

Today I'm taking some inspiration from my good friend, Jackie, who often writes posts about her awesome thrifting finds. David and I went to an antique store over the weekend and I found a few things that I really loved and was thrilled to get them on the cheap.

Pretty plates, bowls, and platters are my weakness, and I spotted this cute little platter for only $3! I was so excited about my find, and apparently Gizmo was as well because he just had to get in my shot.

Let's try this again so you can get a better view of the platter...

Somehow his paws still made it into the shot, but at least you can see the platter here. It is a bit smaller than a standard platter, but I put my bananas on it and it was just the right size.

I also got some great old muffin tins for $3. One of them is a bit more rusty than the other, but if I use muffin liners it should be ok. Or, I could use the rusty one for organized storage of my earrings and other jewelry.

For only $1, I snagged a cool old copper mug. I didn't plan on using it for drinking, but thought it would look cute with flowers (pink peonies perhaps?). Once I got it home, I decided to put part of my ever growing guinea and chicken feather collection in the mug and displayed it on the kitchen window sill.

I'm really into eclectic items lately, and I think this copper mug is quite different. I normally wouldn't look twice at it, but something about it caught my eye and I'm glad I picked it up. I think it's unexpected but also looks like it fits right in. All in all, I got my platter, muffin tins, and mug for just over $7 with tax. I'll call that a successful shopping trip!

Have you found any good bargains lately?


Friday, November 15, 2013

From The Farm Blog Hop

FTF Banner - 9 blogs - final

Today I am doing something a little different from my normal Friday posts and instead I am co-hosting the From the Farm Blog Hop! I have been participating in this hop for a while now and always find such wonderful posts from other bloggers. I hope you are able to submit some of your own posts if you are a blogger, and if you aren’t a blogger, please feel free to click through some of the links to view other posts. I know you’ll find something you enjoy!

Congratulations! Please feel free to grab our button and display it proudly on your blog!

Photo provided by Chicken Scratch Poultry

Now, on to this week's party:
1. Link up to three of your best gardening or homesteading tips, farm-themed posts, recipes, homemaking and simple/frugal living tips, decorating ideas, DIY projects, craft ideas, thrifty makeovers or repurposed items, healthy, sustainable living tips and giveaways.
2. Link back to my blog, or put the link party button anywhere on your blog or post to share the love.
3. Make sure to check out some of the other links before leaving.

 photo FromtheFarmButton-Final.jpg

Photo provided by Chicken Scratch Poultry

We can't wait to see what you share with us!

Note: Linking up to this party will automatically sign you up for an invite to next week's party via email. To unsubscribe, please reply to any email you receive and you will be removed. Linking up also allows us permission to publish one of your photos on our blogs, Facebook, and/or Pinterest pages.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Our Sweet Sylvester

If you've been reading our blog for a while, you know that our tuxedo cat, Sylvester, has been such a big part of this blog ever since he made his way to our homestead several years ago. I have been putting off this post for as long as possible, but I think I am finally ready to share the news.

We had to say goodbye to Sylvester on Saturday. It was one of the most difficult decisions I've ever had to make. He had gone missing for about five days, which is totally unlike him, so I was beginning to think something was wrong. He showed back up one night early last week looking very sick and lethargic. I took him to the vet and he had a high fever as a result of a really bad infection. He was put on strong medication and given fluids through an IV because he was severely dehydrated. I brought him home and kept him in the garage to continue his care, but he refused to eat or drink. After several days I took him back to the vet because I knew he couldn't survive much longer without food or water, and she suggested running some blood work on him. They found that he tested positive for feline immunodeficiency virus and as a result, his immune system was so weakened that he couldn't fight off his infection. He had lost so much weight and was refusing to eat or drink and didn't have much strength at all. He was obviously suffering and would not recover, so I made the tough call to have our vet put him to sleep on Saturday.

I spent as much time with him as I could on Friday, and even brought him into our guest room so I could cuddle with him and say my goodbyes. I ended up sleeping with him for a few hours until he got up and went under the bed, almost like he had said his goodbye to me and was ready to go.

Sylvester was such a character, and was the most loving cat I've ever known. It amazed me the first time I saw him cuddle up to our big dog, Duchess. He welcomed our new kitty, Emma, to the homestead and showed her that it was safe here (since she had direct contact with Sylvester, we will be getting Emma tested for FIV sometime in the future).

He was a loyal companion on our walks in the woods and was never far behind. Occasionally he would get distracted by something and fall a little behind, but I'd just call to him and he would run to catch up.

Words can't express how much I will miss him. I'm just so happy that he found his way to our home and I got him to stick around. I feel blessed that I got to know him and be a part of his life, if it was only for a couple years. He will always have a piece of my heart.

As soon as I went out to my car after the vet on Saturday, church bells were ringing. It was almost like he was being welcomed into Heaven and it gave me such peace. I know he is having a blast in Heaven right now with all our other furry and feathered friends we've had to say goodbye to in the past. In his final moments on the Earth, I was petting him and telling him how much he was loved, and he went out purring. I can't think of a better way to say goodbye.


Friday, November 8, 2013

Feathered Friend Friday: Coop Kitty

Welcome to our "Feathered Friend Friday" series. Each Friday I write a post with interesting facts, photos, 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 often refer to our outdoor cat, Emma, as the coop kitty, but I didn't realize how true that was until last weekend when I found her in a most unusual place.

I headed to the coop to check for eggs and discovered her in the nesting box right beside Feather Legs! It totally cracked me up, but Emma just sat there looking at me like it was the most natural thing in the world for a cat to hang out in nesting boxes with a chicken.

Feather Legs didn't seem to mind her presence, except for when Emma thought she'd stick her paw through a hole in the divider between the boxes and give Feather Legs a little encouraging tap on the wing. Feather Legs wouldn't have any of that and gave Emma a good peck. Emma respectfully kept her distance after that warning peck!

Praying hard to the egg Gods :)

After I had collected the eggs laid so far that day and was ready to leave the coop, Emma stayed at her post. I thought she would run after me and play like she normally does, but apparently she was serious about trying to lay an egg. Sometimes I think she believes she is a chicken!


Shared with From the Farm Blog Hop, Down Home Blog Hop  

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Homemade Living: Best Ever Pumpkin Bread

With fall in full swing, I have been craving everything pumpkin lately. I know a lot of people don't wait until fall to get their pumpkin on, but I like to wait until the season has a good head start. While waiting in line at Starbucks recently, I spotted some pumpkin bread and decided it was time to embrace everything pumpkin. I was inspired to make my own pumpkin bread at home, and let me tell you - it was one of my favorite things I've ever made.

Best Ever Pumpkin Bread
adapted from King Arthur Flour
Makes 2 loaves

1 cup vegetable oil
2 2/3 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 cups (or one 15-ounce can) pumpkin puree
2/3 cup water
3 1/3 cups flour
1/2 t baking powder
2 t baking soda
1 1/2 t salt
1 t vanilla extract
2 T pumpkin pie spice

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease two loaf pans.
2) In a large bowl, beat together the oil, sugar, eggs, pumpkin, and water.
3) Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice, stirring to combine.
4) Divide batter evenly between loaf pans and bake 60-70 minutes or until cake tester inserted into the middle of the loaves comes out clean.
5) Cool bread completely on a wire rack, then wrap well in plastic wrap.

This bread totally surpassed my expectations. I honestly couldn't believe how good it was! Maybe after my last baking session resulted in an epic fail I was just thrilled that something turned out right, but really this bread is so delicious. The recipe recommends you wait overnight to eat the bread because when it rests for a while in the plastic wrap, it gets so moist and flavorful.

Since the recipe bakes up two loaves, I sliced one and put it in the freezer for longer storage (I made sure to wrap it tightly in plastic wrap covered in aluminum foil to prevent freezer burn). This morning I took one slice out and brought it to work with me for a mid-morning snack, and it tasted just as good as when it was freshly baked. I love that the bread isn't too sweet, but just sweet enough and the spicy pumpkin flavor really shines through. I think baking this bread will become a fall tradition for me!


This week in the Homemade Living series, I am joined by Mary and Jackie in posting about how we incorporate homemade items into our lives. Next week Daisy, Staci, and Sue will be up. If you have some free time, please check out the other posts in this weekly series!

Shared with From the Farm Blog Hop, Down Home Blog HopThankful Hop   

Monday, November 4, 2013

Yellow Leaves

On my walk with the roosters last week, I observed all the leaves changing color. We have so many trees out here, but it seems like the majority of them turn yellow in the fall. There is some brilliant red here and there, but what stands out the most to me is the bright golden color so prevalent in the woods.

I just love how the yellow pops behind the red rooster coop and think the colors look so beautiful together (Duchess likes to sneak into the little run when she sees me).

The color reached its peak out here about a week ago, then we had a storm that blew a bunch of the leaves off the trees so we didn't get to enjoy the color for too long. But I'm always grateful for the moments of beauty that I am able to witness in the woods. I just love seeing the transformation each year and know I will never tire of it!


Shared with Maple Hill Hop 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Feathered Friend Friday: Rooster Parade

Welcome to our "Feathered Friend Friday" series. Each Friday I write a post with interesting facts, photos, 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 wrote about our young roosters' antics a couple weeks ago, but I have to dedicate another FFF to them today because they continue to amuse me and I can't stop snapping photos of them!

As soon as they hear me come out the back door, they run to meet me as fast as their legs will carry them. They hope I'll have a treat for them (which I usually do), but if I don't have any treats they will just follow me around for a while, stopping every five seconds to belt out a nice loud crow.

As I walked around our property yesterday evening with my camera to see all the leaves that were turning, they joined me on my trek. It was like my own rooster parade and I was the grand marshal. Everywhere I went, they trotted along behind and kept me company. I can't imagine a better end to my day.

Wait for meeee!


Shared with From the Farm Blog Hop