Thursday, October 23, 2014

Combating the Cold and Flu with Essential Oils

It's that time of year again! Colds and the flu are sweeping through schools, daycares and work places. The cooler weather makes you more vulnerable to viruses because these viruses thrive in cool, dry areas. We break out our humidifier to help keep moisture in the air to not only assist in preventing colds and the flu, but to help our keep our nasal passages from drying out (I know I'm not the only one that is prone to nosebleeds in the winter). We also add a few drops of eucalyptus or peppermint oil to the humidifier's reservoir to reduce germs and it also acts as an air freshener!

Here's a few of our go-to essential oils for colds:

These oils are great for helping to combat the flu:
Tea Tree Oil
Eucalyptus Oil
Lemon Oil
Lavender Oil

A steamy bath or shower helps, too. Drip about 10 drops of essential oil into the tub or onto a washcloth placed on the shower floor and breathe in deeply. Nothing makes me feel better than a nice soak with a good book in a steamy hot bubble bath - I could also easily live in a bath tub and the hubby has threatened to set a timer to kick me out.

Essential oils have more than one purpose. While they are great for medicinal uses, I also use essential oils to scent candles and soap, make multiple cleaning supplies, and lots of other things!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Fermented Chicken Feed

As many of you know, we have a brood of about 15 chickens. I have heard that fermenting chicken food results in lots of eggs, which was my primary reason for trying it out on our chickens.  We keep dual purpose chickens but our main reason for having them is for the eggs. Unfortunately, if they aren't giving us eggs or we have too many roosters hatch we butcher them. I really shouldn't say we, I don't do any butchering, I can't quite stomach it...yet! I will help butcher eventually!

Fermenting chicken food will improve the chicken's enzyme content and increase vitamin levels. Fermenting will also make it more digestible AND boost usable protein level. With all the good lacto-fermentation bugs in the food, the chicken's immune systems are given a boost and they have an easier time keeping disease at bay.  Healthy and robust chickens are happy and happy hens lay eggs.

Anyway, to ferment chicken feed, all you need is a container, chicken feed, water, and time. Right now, I use a quart sized mason jar and fill it half-way. Then I fill the jar with water until it covers the feed by about an inch or two. Seal it and let it sit for 3 days. That's it!

A three-day fermentation seems to work the best for us. Two days doesn't seem like quite enough time and anything longer than 3 days seems to create a more sour feed. You will know when the feed is ready when it is nice and bubbly.  The feed will have a sour smell, but shouldn’t smell rotten or putrid.  

If you want a steady rotation of fermented feed, start the same process in a new jar on day 2 and again on day 3. Also, on day 3 you will empty the first jar, feed it and refill it to start the fermenting process again. This way once you get going, you will have a container of fermented feed ready every day.

Please, keep in mind this is not my primary feed, the chickens still have access to regular chicken feed as well. If you will be using fermented feed only, you may need to go through some trial and error to figure out exactly how much is enough for your chickens.

Homemade Butter

We decided to try to make our own homemade butter, both for saving money and for health reasons (no reason butter should have more than 1-2 ingredient). And it is soooo simple to make!
Get heavy whipping cream and shake shake shake... No really, you're shaking for about 25 minutes then you drain, rinse and shake some more.

1.  We used mason jars to mix ours, fill the mason jar about halfway with heavy cream. Close it up shake.
2.  After about 5 minutes, the cream will turn to whipping cream. Keep shaking!
3.  The mixture will start to thicken and make a "shook shook" sound while you're shaking it.
4.  Now the fun part, it's going to separate into two parts. The solid piece should be a slight yellow color, this is the butter. The liquid is fresh buttermilk.

And people spend $20+ for a shake weight...they should just try making butter! 

5.  Now you'll want to pour the buttermilk into your extra container (if you're saving it). Take the butter and squeeze out the excess buttermilk. We simply pressed ours into a strainer with small holes so the butter didn't fall through as well. 
6.   Rinse with cold water and repeat until the water you're squeezing out runs clear. 

 That's it, you now have fresh butter (pictured above) and buttermilk.

Monday, October 13, 2014

"Pregnancy" Cookie Dough

I have been craving cookie dough for weeks but refused to let myself eat any because of the uncooked eggs....until I found an egg-less recipe that is great for pregnant mamas!

3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup softened butter
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup milk
1 cup flour
1/2 cup chocolate chips
pinch of salt

Mix together and savor the aweseomeness of cookie dough!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Non-Messy Maple Syrup Pancakes

My kiddos love pancakes. They also really, really like syrup. This also means a really, really big sticky mess. I've found syrup in places I didn't think it could ever exist in, after serving up a batch of light, fluffy pancakes. So I thought, why not add the syrup to the batter? The kids will get the same maple syrup flavor they love, and I have less of a mess to clean up. Genius! So here's my super simple recipe for Maple Syrup Pancakes.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup 2% milk
2 Tablespoons canola oil
1 Tablespoon maple syrup (this can be adjusted...I add more for more flavor!)

In a small bowl, combine dry ingredients - flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl combine the egg, milk, oil and syrup. Stir into dry ingredients until blended.

Pour batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto a lightly greased hot griddle. Flip when bubbles form on top of the pancakes. Cook until golden brown on both sides and serve!

And for my fellow Bisquik users, you can do the same thing...just mix the syrup with the liquids before adding to the dry mix.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Halloween Decor

Halloween is by far my favorite holiday. I love all the decor, the movies, haunted houses, corn mazes, crisp apple cider and the list goes on and on. This year I opted to start making my own Halloween decor that I can reuse year after year. I nagged the hubby for any scrap pieces of wood and set to work sanding and painting! Here's what I've come up with so far....


 The kids love the bat, so I'll be thinking of more bat themed decor to create...

And what kid doesn't want creepy monsters coming out of the toilet?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Toys, Books & More!

Since finding out we're having a boy, I find myself still gravitating towards gender neutral toys, decor and clothes. Here are a few more of my favorite items that I can't wait to share with our little boy once he arrives...

Hooded Chicken Towel | Sleep N Play 2 Pack Monkey OnesiesHalo SleepsackLlama Llama Wakey WakeCordy Roy Fox

We have our own brood of chickens, so I thought this Hooded Chicken Towel was absolutely adorable! How cute is our little babe going to look all bundled up after a bath and getting ready for bed? Speaking of bed, I didn't intentionally select all sleepwear for this post but these Monkey Onesies are sure to keep him warm through the cold winter months (I'm convinced he's going to choose to arrive during a snowstorm). And for those first few months where swaddling may be the only way to get him to sleep, the Halo Sleepsack. This particular one is the Plushy Dot Velboa and is super soft!

I have a huge obsession with the Llama Llama series of books. They are great for babies and young kids learning how to read and there is sure to be one for your child to enjoy! I have the Wakey Wake and Nighty Night books already and they will definitely be a part of our morning and evening routines.

And just because this is the cutest plush toy ever, and it fits perfectly with our woodland critters theme, the Cordy Roy Fox.