Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wordless Wednesday- peep peep.

Trip to Raleigh.

This post is from a couple weeks ago. It's just taken me a while to sort pictures and such. i took way to many pictures at the Butterfly houses. hee hee.

Anyhow, a couple weekends ago, we went on a quick overnight trip to Raleigh, NC. We usually do a couple weekend trips over the summer, but this year things have been tight, and we've had so much work to do at this has been the only one.

My boy is a huge Lego fan. It's pretty much the only thing he has played with since he was about 4, when my sister got him a Harry Potter lego set. :)
For quite a while my boy has been talking about the Lego Games tour, and how cool it would be to go. The closest location that is was coming too, Raleigh, wasn't really very close at all. It's just under a 3 hour drive.

However, Raleigh has a pretty fabulous Science museum, and Raleigh-Durham has an even more fabulous Life and Science museum. So we planned a surprise weekend, to Raleigh. First we checked out the Lego games tour, and downtown Raleigh.

This giant Minotaur is made out of legos. Kids could guess how many lego for a chance to win prizes.

This displays some of the new Lego games. My boy was realy thrilled to see a Harry Potter game that had not been mentioned in his lego club magazine.

They had giant versions of many of the games for the kids to play. It was really hot, so we didn't stay too long. We lets the kids play each of the games, then we walked to the science museum which was only a couple blocks away.

my girl really liked the giant acorn and all the huge oak trees in the park.

The admission to the Raleigh Science museum is always free. The History Museum is right across the sidewalk, and is also free. The next time we visit we are going to plan to visit the history museum as well. This is the arboretum at the Raleigh Science museum. They also have a small butterfly house at this level, and a cafe.

The museum has some really neat wildlife displays and information. It's not a very hands on interactive museum, but the kids still enjoyed looking at everything. i didn't take a lot of pictures, because the lighting inside wasn't very photo friendly.

After the museum, we headed to a hotel a few miles away in Durham.

The Durham Life and Science museum is fabulous! Definitely my favorite Science Museum, and we've gone to many. We spent almost our entire visit outside.

The Dinosuar trail was new since our last visit (4 years ago).

The kids enjoyed the fossil dig, and both brought home several sharks teeth, shells and other fossils.

This is my favorite part...the butterfly house!! It's huge! They have two separate rooms, one for native butterflies and one the exotics.

i was very excited, and am a complete nature you can see. :)

In the native area, there was a butterfly garden with plants that attract and feed butterflies and their larva. You could turn up leaves to find eggs, and caterpillars. We also spotted several chrysalis hanging on branches and plants.

My boy checking out a Luna moth.

These are just amazingly beautiful!

The exotic butterfly house has a wall full of all the different butterfly chrysalis. They are each on a string, and labeled with the type of butterfly they are. As we stood there looking at them, we watched at least a dozen emerge. It was so amazing, i could have stayed there all day watching them.

The one on the right just emerged, the one on the left is in the process of emerging.

These guys recently emerged and are drying their wings.

Also new since our last visit was the Catch the Wind area. There were several fun intaractive exhibits that showed the important role wind plays in the natural world.The kids loved the sailboats and could have played here for hours.

One of my favorite parts of the Museum is Loblolly park. It's a music playyard, created with recycled items. The kids had so much fun banging on everything, and creating a musical beat.

The Museum also has a Farmyard, and Explore the Wild exhibits with bears, wolves and Lemurs. There is a train ride, giant sandbox and playground.

Inside the museum there are lots of wonderful, very interactive exhibits. My girl was fascinated by the tornado maker. My boy really enjoyed the Contraptions room. He spent quite a while building and testing contraptions. They also have a wonderful play area for younger kids, with building blocks and a pretend barnyard and vet clinic. Lots to do inside or out. We spent almost our entire visit outside, they have so much to do there and so much to look at. This is one our favorite Museums, and if you are ever in the Raleigh Durham area, i really recommend it!

Add Image

Saturday, July 24, 2010

First Time Milking.

This past week i had the opportunity to milk my friend's dairy goat. i was so excited!! i have never milked before, and being that we now have goats we intend to eventually milk, i thought it was a good idea to learn milking.

Honestly, i'm a bit surprised how easily i took to it. This is an Alpine ( i forgot her name) and she was an extremely good milker. She was very cooperative and she has large teets that make milking easy. i can already tell that milking Delilah, my Dwarf Nigerian, is not going to be this easy. She has very small teets, and is still a bit skittish. It will be interesting to see how she does.
Makes me really wish we had a slightly larger goat shed, so that i could get a full sized dairy goat. Sigh....maybe one day.

So this is the finished product, raw goats milk. :)
i've tasted goats milk in the past, but it had a strong 'musky' smell that i could not handle. i was told it was because the buck was kept with the female, and goat milk normally does not taste
We each sampled it, it had no smell. The flavor was very similar to cows milk with a slight 'tangy' aftertaste. The kids didn't like it, and Kenan couldn't taste the aftertaste at all. i'm not a fan of milk to start, but found the flavor different but not unpleasant. Definitely something i could get used to.

So this is the part of the blog, where i give a brief tutorial on making goat cheese. i made homemade Paneer cheese last summer, when i had raw cows milk. It is extremely easy to make and pretty much no fail...or so i thought. :)

Start by heating your goats milk to 185 degrees. Then turn off the heat. Let it cool down to about 100 degrees, and slowly add 2 tsp of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. At this point, you should see the milk separate from the whey, and form small curds. You strain it through cheese cloth...and what you are left with is a soft cheese. Easy enough, right?

So this was the process i followed, but when i added my vinegar...nothing happened. So i added a bit more...and still nothing. So i looked online to see what could cause milk to not separate. i found very little info, but did find a cheese making thread where someone mentioned that if the milk is too colostrum-y it would not separate. So that does make sense, as the goat had only given birth the week before.
So my first time milking was a success, however my first time making goat cheese a definite fail!

Ah well, live and learn.

Stuffed Squash Blossoms.

It's that time of year when everyone has squash...and with squash comes squash blossoms! Did you know they are edible too?

This is a male squash blossom, notice how it is on a tall stalk? Many first time gardeners become alarmed when their squash blossom fall off and die, but never develop fruit. They are usually seeing the male flowers, which do not ever develop fruit...only the females do. The male blossoms stay open for a few days so that the female flowers can be pollinated, and then they drop off.

These are the female blossoms. Notice the little squash on the end? If this blossom is fertilized the tiny fruit will develop into a mature squash. If the flower doesn't get pollinated, this little fruit will die and fall off. If you are seeing a lot of fruits dropping off without growing, you may want to hand pollinate your squash. This can easily be done with a q-tip.

When making Stuffed squash blossoms, i only use the male flowers. i pick them from plants that have multiple male flowers, and i only take a few from each. It's important that you leave some males so your females get pollinated. Pick your flowers in the morning, when the blooms are open.

Wash the flowers and remove the stamen. i cut off the stem end, but after looking at a few different recipes for these online, realize that you don't have to. You can just remove the stamen and stem without cutting it all off. i don't think it matters too much, you can do it any way you like.

i stuffed mine with cream cheese, shredded zucchini, garlic and chives. i didn't use a real recipe, just threw it together. i used about a half a block of cream cheese mixed with 1/4 cup shredded zucchini to stuff five or six blossoms. You can add as much or as little herbs and seasoning as you want. These would also be really good with goat cheese or feta..or a combination. Yum!

i place about a tablespoon of filling inside the clean squash blossoms. i pinched the back closed (the cream cheese makes it stick) and twisted the petals closed, again using the cheese as a sort of glue to stick it all together. Then i rolled them lightly in seasoned flour. The seasoned flour i use is a local flour, from Elliston Virginia. It's called Big Spring Mill A #1 Seasoned flour. This is a local favorite.

If you can't find seasoned flour, you can season it yourself with salt, pepper, paprika and any other seasonings you like.

After rolling in flour, i dip in an egg mixture..which basically consists of one or two fresh eggs, beat together with a couple tablespoons of water. Coat it well, then roll in the seasoned flour again and then fry in oil until brown. i never manage to take pictures of the whole process...hee hee.

This is the finished product, they were absolutely delicious!! i'll be making them again soon, and trying a few different filling combinations.

Friday, July 23, 2010

An apology, a thank you..and a favor request. :)

So, first i wanted to give a quick apology. When folks comment on my blog posts, i receive an email notification showing the comment. i have just been hitting the reply button and replying back. Sometimes i get a return email, and sometimes i don't...but i never really thought much of it. So earlier this week, i went to reply to a comment and for the first time noticed the reply address comes up as . So apparently folks have not been getting my replies. Oops. i am so sorry.
It's strange because it's not everyone, as i have received some replies back. i tried re-replying to a couple different comments and some do come up with an email address, while others come up as no-reply.
So if you have wondered why i have never replied to your comment, now you know, i did..or at least i thought i had.
i will work on replying back to many of you later this week.

So know i wanted to ask a favor. :) Many of you have already read and replied to my post Where we are going, and where we have been.
i told you all that the post had been written for the contest at Hip Mountain Mama. Well, voting is if you enjoyed my post i would really appreciate your vote :)
You can vote here on the Hip Mountain Mama Blog.

To vote, scroll down to the very bottom of the page where it says leave a comment.
i am #13 The Enchanted Tree All you have to do is write #13 in the comment to vote for me. You can vote three times, so you can leave three comments that say #13 or you can vote for three different entries (there are some nice ones!)

Lastly, i wanted to shout out a big THANK YOU to everyone who has already voted for me! i know many of you have been on this journey with us throughout the years, following along on the ol' Stitchin' Bitches Yahoo group, or through our websites, facebook and now this blog.
Your support is very appreciated.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Current projects.

i thought i'd post a sneak peek of what i am working on right now.
For starters, i have a ton of veggies to deal with. When we returned from our weekend trip to Raleigh (we were only gone about 36 , i came home to all of this!

So have been busy picking, and freezing and finding other creative uses for our zucchini. i'm going to try zucchini pickles and zucchini relish this year as well as regular cucumber pickles.

Wax beans will be blanched and frozen, and i already have more to pick.

Another project i have going on, whenever i can find a few minutes to sit down, is a Diamond Ridges hat that i am making for my sister-in-law. The picture is a bit dark but this is a lovely green wool blend. i'm also working on making another mermaid tail for my niece.

Last week, i also pulled out my beads again, and finally finished this necklace that i started ages ago. i really want to get back into beading and am slowly making my way finishing up some of these half finished pieces i have sitting around. i'm hoping that once i can get a few of these finished, i'll feel inspired to start some new ones.

This is a close up of the Pearl diver, she's done in brick stitch and holding a fresh water pearl. i love making these.

i have all these lovely cabochons captured in peyote stitch, just waiting to be finished. i have a couple agates, jasper and a labradorite..just need to string the necklaces.

i've also been working on making Sage a few new dresses. The girl absolutely loves dresses, and while sorting through her clothes i realized the majority of her dress are 2T-3T. She turned 4 last month...and although she is small for her age, i really need to make her some bigger dresses. This one is just a basic cotton dress, and i had enough extra fabric to make her doll a matching dress. :)
i'm in desperate need of a few new skirts myself. i have a couple different yards of Hemp fabric that i got from the fabulous Marlena over at Infinite Cosmos Hemp and am really hoping to make at least one for myself before the summer is over.

i'm also still trying to learn to drop spindle. i've been playing around with it quite a bit, while sitting outside watching the kids play. i still haven't really gotten the hang of it, but i keep trying. My MIL gave me a bunch of fabulous wool to play with in all different colors, and i'm eager to do some needle felting and wet felting. So many ideas, so little time. :)

So that is just a few of the projects i have going on right now. As soon as i get one thing finished up i find atleast 3 other things to do. i need to pick blackberries again, and make jam before the season is over...probably a project for this weekend.

Ecomom Winner!

The Winner of the Ecomom $15 Gift certificate is #25 Blogroll please.

Blogroll Please... said... 25

I'm following on GFC as Blogroll Please...

Winner has been contacted and confirmed. Thanks for entering everyone! i hope to have some fun new giveaways posted soon!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Faerie houses.

Summer is such a busy time for us, we spend more time outside than in. So, i'm feeling very behind on this blog again. This past weekend we took an overnight Trip to Raleigh, NC to visit and expore their science museums. ( that will be it's own blog, once i get my pictures edited. ) While sitting in the childrens play area with Sage, i happened upon the book Fairy Houses by Tracy Kane. It has been quite a while since we have made faerie houses, and this was all the inspiration i needed.
So when we came home from our trip, this was one of the first things we did.

We chose a spot on the edge of the woods, there was a fabulous toad stool coming up, that looked like it might be a perfect table for a faerie tea party! For our first house we used a really cool piece of wood i snagged out of the firewood pile earlier this year. The husband gets quite a annoyed with me for stealing the firewood...but sometimes i just can't help myself. i have several faerie houses inside that were taken straight from the woodpile. :) This is one of those cases. The inside of the log is nicely hollowed out, and it has a perfect front door. There is also a tree knot that is hollowed out and makes an excellent window or secret back door. We set this up up first and then the kids began to decorate it.

If you've never built a faerie house, you can find some basic instructions here How to build a fairy house at Family Fun. There really isn't much too it though, you can make it anyway you like...just make sure to use all natural materials. If you want a bit inspiration, check out Green Spirit Arts blog. She has some of the most amazing faeries houses i have ever seen.

The second house we made, was made from a piece of bark that we found in the wood pile. We used a couple sticks to prop it up and placed it against a tree for support. It was so much fun seeing the kids imaginations really come to life. They began exploring the yard for faerie items. Acorns for bowls, nut shells for seats and baby faerie cradles... My boy found a a flower to use as a broom, and red and yellow leaves to add some color.

We set up a faerie tea party. With fresh blackberries for them to eat, and dewdrop tea in acorn cups. The kids added the flowers to look like the little umbrellas you often see in fancy drinks. :)

The kids had such a good time, they didn't want to stop. i promised them another day of building faerie houses. :) We placed a few gifts inside each house. Fresh flowers and a few ripe blackberries, hoping the faeries would chose the houses we made.

Later that evening, my boy suggested we check the houses to see if faeries had come. Imagine our surprise to find this lovely note. :)

In case you have trouble reading 'faerie' the note says;

Thanks for the house and berries humans. We honor you. The Faeries.

And as the seasons come and go, here's something you might like to know. There are fairies everywhere: under bushes, in the air, playing games just like you play, singing through their busy day. So listen, touch, and look around - in the air and on the ground. And if you watch all nature's things, you might just see a fairy's wing. ~Author Unknown