Wednesday, August 29, 2012
After all my tomato problems this year, i had completely given up on the idea of canning tomatoes. i've been very focused on planting my after 'summer' garden, and had moved past the huge tomato loss.
Yesterday i received quite a surprise! Some folks that live down the road from us called and asked if i would like some tomatoes. Of course i said yes. i pulled almost all my plants a few weeks ago, and haven't been getting any edible tomatoes.
So you can imagine my surprise when they pulled up and had two 5 gallon buckets full of beautiful tomatoes! She wanted me to have enough to can!! How incredibly generous!
i have over 30lbs to process and can. i'm so excited!! i didn't think i'd get to can any pasta sauce this year. What a blessing!
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Early yesterday morning, i walked outside to check on one of my gardens and witnessed this Red Spotted Purple emerging from it's chrysalis. i didn't have my camera with me, so i watched it emerge and then ran back to the house to get my camera, so i could get some pictures of it. We have raised lots of different caterpillars inside, Monarch, Painted lady, Black Swallowtail, Eastern tiger swallowtail, Great Spangled Fritillary etc. However, this was the first time i've ever seen a Red Spotted Purple's chrysalis and witnessed it emerging. i'm actually not even sure what the caterpillar looks like. It was really neat to watch!
While i was getting photos i spooked it a little, and it tried to fly off. It's wings were still wet and it was too heavy to fly.
So i gently lifted it up and brought it to a safe place so it could continue to dry its wings.
i'm not sure why it chose to form it's chrysalis on my garden fence. It seems kind out in the open. Typically they would pupate on a tee branch, and the chrysalis would be hidden among the leaves or camouflaged to look like a dead leaf. i'm wondering if the caterpillar had fallen out of a near by tree, and decided the fence was as good a place as any.
i placed the butterfly on this tree and it spread out it's wings to dry them and sun itself.
Such a magical and unexpected thing to witness. Watching a new butterfly emerge and eventually take flight is always a beautiful way to start the day.
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Monday, August 27, 2012
These two caterpillar must have come from eggs laid on the same day. They both finished eating and came to the top of the container looking for a place to pupate at the same time.
They then began to spin their silk at the same time.
After they finished laying down the silk. They both turned around and hooked their back feet into the silk.
Then they both dropped down and formed their J's at the exact same time.
Early this morning they both formed their chrysalis at the exact same time. :) i'm now very eager to see if the butterflies emerge at the exact same time too. i've raised monarchs for several years now, and this is the first time i've had two act like identical twins.
Sunday, August 26, 2012
We had our Creativity for Kids Party on Saturday! Wow, what a blast!
This was my daughter's very first party and she was so excited for her guests to arrive!! We had a total of 9 kids and 4 adults attend. The children ranged in age from 4 to 13 years. The majority of our guests were 6-7 year old little girls from my daughter's first grade class. We also had two boy siblings (8 and 10) and a 13 year old girl.
i thought the crafts might be a little too young for the 13 year old, but invited her anyway. i thought she could help some of the younger girls with their crafts. i honestly think she enjoyed all the crafts and had just as much fun as the little girls. Although the majority of the crafts were intended for girls, the boys joined in to make gifts for little sisters, cousins and friends.
We started with the pop art necklaces! These were great! They were easy for the little girls to complete themselves, and they really got into personalizing them with the beads, stickers and coloring. This was a great project for everyone!
Our kit came with enough supplies that each little girl was able to make 2 necklaces, and a few let over for the boys. i managed to get a lot of pictures of the pop art necklace making, because this was one of the only crafts that the girls could do completely independently. After this, i had to put down the camera and assist in the crafting fun.
The fashion headband kit was really neat! It came 10 headbands, ribbons, feathers and accessories to decorate them. With the amount of kids we had (and the age) i knew there would be some fighting over some of the materials and decorations, so i provided some extra ribbon, feathers, glue etc so it wasn't an issue. This activity was a little difficult for the younger girls, and required some help from the parents. However, i really think the parents enjoyed this activity as much as the kids did. Several of the moms kept commenting on how cute the head bands turned out. The girls absolutely loved their head band, and were excited to wear them to school on Monday. Even one of the boys got in on the fun and turned an extra headband into a Indian headdress by gluing some feathers on it.
The fashion bracelets also required a bit of help from the parents. The box says ages 7 and up and i think that's pretty accurate. The girls that were 6 and under definitely needed some assistance with this project. The thirteen year old that attended our party really got into making the bracelets and was able to duplicate several of the designs that were on the box. This is a great mommy/daughter project or would be great for older kids to create on their own.
We took small break on the crafting to have a snack, and then decorate and eat some cupcakes. Then the kids headed outside to burn a little energy. :)
After some fun outside, we set to work decorating Stuck on Fashion tote bags. This was another really popular activity and one that the kids could do pretty independently.
It was really neat to see how focused they each became as they worked on personalizing their bag. The girls all seemed to really enjoy this one and they all loved the finished tote bags!
While the girls finished up their craft projects i filled up the goodie bags. Each child was able to chose a mini kit to take home, and a coloring/activity book. i also provided boxes of crayons, stickers, and extra goodies to fill up the bags. i LOVED getting to send each of our guests home with such a fabulous bag of goodies.
Here is my girl showing off some of her creations. i'm seriously kicking myself for not getting a group shot of all the girls with their creations. However by the end of the party we had little girls running wild everywhere, and had a hard enough time just rounding them up to pick their mini kits and gather up the crafts that they had made. It was just slightly chaotic and i was very thrilled when the last guest went home. :)
This truly was the best party we've ever thrown. All the parents seemed very impressed with the products and seemed to really enjoy participating in the crafts with their children. The feedback from both parents and children was very positive everyone loved it!
If you're interested in finding Creativity for Kids craft sets, you can check out the store locator to find out where to purchase them near you. They can also be purchased online, and i've seen them at both Micheal's crafts store and Joanne fabrics. You can also connect with Creativity for Kids on Facebook and twitter.
i wanted to send out a huge THANK YOU to Momselect and Creativity for Kids for allowing us to host a Creativity for Kids party in our home. It was an wonderful opportunity, and amazing experience!
Disclosure – i was sent an in-home Creativity for kids party kit from Momselect and Creativity for Kids in exchange for hosting a party and sharing my opinion about the products. i received no compensation for my blog post and these are my own opinions and thoughts.
Thursday, August 23, 2012
We really enjoy coconut oil in our household. It is great to cook with since it has a high smoke point, can also be used in baked goods, and is great in coffee. Coconut oil makes a nice replacement for butter or other oils in recipes since it is such a healthy oil. Plus, it adds a touch of sweetness and a hint of coconut flavor.
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please leave a new comment for each extra entry. If you qualify for 5 entries, leave 5 separate comments. please include your email, so i can contact you if you win.
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Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
i left them alone for a little while and when i checked on them again, they had pip marks in the shells. The large brown egg is from one of my Black Star hens, and the green eggs comes from my Araucana/americana.
It's so hard to leave them alone! i went back to check them a couple hours later and spied a beak!!
Momma hen was still sitting on a few eggs so we where hoping for a few more. However, after a couple days i knew it was time for her to get up and start taking care of her peeps. So although i figured the eggs were not going to hatch, i moved them under one of the other setting hens, i still have two setting!
They are absolutely the cutest things ever, and my girl is completely in love with them. i have such a hrad time getting her to leave them alone. The first little chick is a mystery bird. It came from a medium sized light brown egg. i believe it's mama is either a Buff Orpington or a Delaware, unless another hen snuck into that coop and laid an egg there. However, it doesn't look a thin like a Buff Orpington or Delaware chick. i suspect that the daddy is our Red bantam rooster. i think he is a Black and Brown Quail Bantam, and the chick are typically dark with red/orange faces. The one with the chipmuck stripes is the Araucana/Americana, and the sweet little black one is a Black Star.
We have not had the best of luck hatching out peeps the past couple of years, so this has been really nice to finally get some new ones. With our hens being new this spring, and one of our roosters being new we'll be getting some interesting crosses. So far, we have four total, one from the first hen and then the three here and i have two other setting hens with eggs scheduled to hatch out in about 1 week.
Our first peep 'Chippy' is beginning to get some feathers and looks like it's mama may have actually been the Speckled Sussex. The patterning looks very similar. Those silly hens are so sneaking about slipping their eggs into another hen's nest.
My other two hens are both sitting on two eggs each. They both have a Black Star egg and one also has a polish egg, and the other has a Americana/araucana. i'm a little disappointed that we're not going to hatch out any Buff Orpington or Cuckoo Maran this time around...but maybe next time!
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Panther creek is actually just a scenic spot along Big Reed Island Creek. The road we take to get out there is called Panther creek rd. and so we have always called it Panther creek.
Beautiful views up here!
We enjoyed a picnic lunch on the rocks next to the water. While we were hanging out, this tiny butterfly landed on my boy.
It seemed very curious and stayed for a few minutes, the fluttered away.
We took Aunt Tabitha on a hike up throw the rocks along this smaller creek. It's actually kind of a difficult hike. It's very rocky, steep and slippery. The kids were having such a great time, we went a bit farther than we usually hike. We found this beautiful little waterfall. The kids really wanted to keep going, but we had the boys behind (they were afraid of the poison ivy) so we turned around and went back. The climb down (rocky, steep and slippery) is a lot more difficult than it was going up.
i had to get pictures of all the lovely wildflowers. This is a native wildflower called Cardinal flower. i would have loved to bring one home to transplant in my native wildflower garden, but only saw the one while we were hiking so i left it alone.
One of the cliffs was covered in Wild bleeding hearts. We found some of these earlier in the spring, so i was surprised to find them now.
i also spotted these, and had no idea what they were. They are called Pale Corydalis.
After we had left Panther creek, we drove down a dirt road to look at an area where there had been a pretty significant rock slides a couple years ago. i caught a glimse of these pink/purple flowers and made my husband stop the car so i could go back and see what they were. From my first glass i thought they might be a wild rose. However when i took a look at the plant, i was really surprised at what i saw. The leaves look almost like grape leaves, and there are no thorns on the stems. The flowers look like raspberries, although they are larger and purple. The seed/fruit pods are fuzzy red, similar to the wineberry.
i was even more surprised to find fruit! The berries look like raspberries!! i brought home a leaf and flower to help me identify it. i have never seen anything like it!!
So what is this mystery plant?? It's a Purple flowering raspberry or Virginia raspberry. Seriously, how have i never heard of this?!? It's a native flower, and in all my researching of local native flowers i have never ever come across this. It makes no sense at all.
These were just growing on the side of dirt road, not far from my house. i'll be heading back to get a clipping of it, so i can get it established on my land. i absolutely love wild berries, and native wildflowers and this is has the best of both worlds. It's an absolutely beautiful plant and the berries are edible, and good for the wildlife.
At our house, Friday night is pizza and movie night. i'm not sure when this tradition started, but it is something the kids look forward to every Friday. In the past, i have always made my pizza from scratch. However, when my boy started taking karate on Friday nights it made dinner time a little more hectic. Karate is at 4pm, so i pick the kids up from school, unload backpacks and head straight to Floyd (30 min. away) for karate. By the time we get home, it is past dinner time and depending on the day, i am often too tired to make a pizza entirely from scratch. On those days i sometimes find myself reaching for frozen pizza (gasp!) or pre-made pizza crusts.
The crust was very easy to roll out and press into the pan. We pre-baked it for 8 min. for a regular crust, but there are directions on the package for different crust types. Then we topped it with delicious fresh ingredients right from our garden!
First, i put down a thin layer of homemade pizza sauce and topped it with mozzarella cheese. Then i added caramelized onions, fresh tomato, green and red peppers. We also added some sliced portabellas, black olives, some of my homemade goat cheese and fresh basil.
As silly as it sounds, i'm not usually a fan of square pizza, but i admit it made it very easy to do half and half. The kids don't always like all the extra ingredients, and so their half is only mushroom and olive. Okay, so it's true square pizza really does taste the same as round. :)
The crust was actually very good. The whole family loved it! i loved that it was quick and convenient, but also contained whole grains rather than just white flour. The main ingredient listed on the package is whole wheat.
- 16 grams of whole grain per serving.
- Now available in the refrigerated section of your local grocery store
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Disclosure: The product, gift pack, information, and additional sample have been provided by Pillsbury through MyBlogSpark. The opinions on this post are my own.
Monday, August 20, 2012
The last time we hiked down to the creek i was looking at our circular vines...and thought it would be fun to turn it into a spider web or a giant dream catcher or weaving wheel. :)
So this week, when the kids were in school i snuck down with a ball of yarn and created a dreamcatcher/spiderweb. i can usually make dream catchers easily, but this was actually quite difficult. The circle is around 5' tall (same height as me) and it's on an embankment. So there is no good place to stand. i had to throw the ball of twine over the top of the loop several times to create the pattern. it was quite fun. :)
It was really tough to get a picture of it. The twine is thin, so it just doesn't show up well in the photos.
When my kids came home from school i suggested a hike in the woods. :) When we came up to the grapevine loop they immediately saw the spiderweb. :)
"Oh no! Watch out for the Acromantula!!!"
Lots of fun. :) i also like that it is temporary. The twine will eventually weather away, and we'll be left to create something new in this space.
After completely our dream catcher web, i still had the lingering idea to create a circular weaving wheel. Something similar to the hula hoop weaving, but that was created with natural materials. So i pulled down some grape vine from the edge of the woods (we have tons!) and wrapped it into a circular shape. i left the green on it, although they will eventually die back.
Then i created the warp with twine, similar to the way it was done with the hula hoop.
Then i hung it from my kids' play fort, creating a weaving wall. :)
We had fun experimenting with plants. There are daylily leaves, catmint, chickory and knapweed weaved into this. This too is all temporary. The plants will die back and have to be removed, we'll weave new plants in..so it will always be changing.