Saturday, December 31, 2011

Chicken stories....

These are the last 2 eggs of the year... from my last lonely chicken. Look at that tiny one! So cute!

The good news is I still have one chicken. The bad news is the rest are gone... seemingly from a fox. We came home from a movie one night, and I went to close the coop... and I found 2 of my girls outside the coop. Only one was in. I couldn't find the rooster. I sent my husband out to see if he could find him. He was several feet away... doing his job to protect his alpha hen. I was devastated. That was back in October.

So, I have one lonley hen. She's adjusted fairly well. I will get her some friends soon....

We celebrated New Year's Eve with friends at dinner at Millie's Diner in Richmond. Yum!

Stay safe... and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Vacation pics....

It's been a looooooong time since my last post, I know. My hard drive on my laptop died, and it has taken me a while to get everything on here back to normal! But, all is well. I hope to start posting on a more regular basis!
My husband and I promised our girls a real vacation this summer where they would have to fly and use their passports. We decided to take them back to the place where we honeymooned: St. John in the USVI. At the last minute, Ralph's parents decided to join us, too, and we had a great time!
The journey was complicated by the arrival of Hurricane Irene... in fact, the outer bands arrived in Richmond minutes prior to take-off! We were flying up to Philly to make our connection to St. Thomas, and there was a slight chance that the airport would close before our outgoing flight! But, we did make it! We even got to see the outer bands of the storm from the air.
Here are a few pics...
 Cruz Bay... the main hub of St. John.

Foxy's Bar in Jost Van Dyke, BVI

 Sir Foxy himself. He's quite a character!

 One of many collections at Foxy's... had to take pics of the VA plates!

 Taboo, Foxy's dog.

 Trunk Bay on St. John. There's an underwater snorkel trail around the rocks in the middle of the bay. Ralph and I were really sad to see how much the coral and water quality have deteriorated since we were last there in 1999.

Loved this picture... the first one I took after settling in on the ferry from St. Thomas to St. John. We waited for the ferry in a bar on St. Thomas, watching The Weather Channel's coverage of Hurricane Irene, even footage from my hometown's NBC affilliate, WAVY TV-10, which services the Outer Banks of NC. So strange!

I will update you all with more later... including some crafty creations and some thrifty finds! And do I have stories to tell about my chickens... and it's not all good. :(

I hope you all enjoy the holidays!


Monday, August 1, 2011

What is with this obsession with birds?

So, besides my pet chickens, I have been on this embroidered birds kick lately! I made this project while we were at the beach:

which was inspired by a bag from this collection at Fossil:

My next project might be an homage to my beloved pet rooster... I seriously need help! 

On a different note, did anyone see any of the original footage from the first day MTV was on the air 30 years ago? I remember one of the highlights of our  biannual trips to my grandparents' house in Florida was watching MTV, since we didn't have cable until I was in middle school. My kids watched "Video Killed the Radio Star" with me :) Perhaps the weirdest part is that my younger daughter is about the same age now that I was when MTV launched! Did anyone else set their Beta VCR to record "120 Minutes" like I did? Happy Birthday MTV!

Have a great week, everyone!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Burger Salsa....

I was driving home from Trader Joe's tonight thinking about what I was going to cook for dinner. I felt like fixing the turkey burgers I'd bought, but I was kicking myself for not buying a big tomato to slice. Despite having a million tomato plants in my garden, not one has produced a tomato worthy of slicing. I do, however, have a million grape and cherry tomatoes, and not much to do with them. The thought occurred to me that I could make a kind of "salsa" to go on the burgers. It wouldn't be that much different than the batches of salsa we made while on vacation.... except with slightly different ingredients and better equipment. Nothing beats your own kitchen!

I used a couple of handfuls of grape tomatoes from our garden, a big slice of Vidalia onion, and several dill pickle slices. I mixed them together in my mini chopper, and in a few minutes, had my salsa!

I thought it was pretty good for a spur of the moment idea! After dinner, my girls ate some with chips as a snack. :) Now I have one more use for the gazillion teeny tomatoes in my garden!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Fun finds!

I fell in love with this vintage broach at a flea market in Myrtle Beach. Love how much it sparkles and that it's my favorite color! After hemming and hawing about it for a few minutes, the booth owner told me it was on sale. It came home with me....

We have been in serious celebration mode of my younger daughter's birthday, which was yesterday... she's now 6. She reminded me this morning: "Now remember, Mom. I'm a BIG girl now!" This was after she systematically re-organized her lip glosses and mirrors to go into her new, purple sequined purse. Happy birthday, baby girl!

We had been neglecting the garden for all of the celebrations... and we just discovered this cantaloupe which was more than ready to be picked!

It smelled just like candy, it was so ripe and sweet. I was afraid it was beyond edible.... but was so happy that it was just fine when we cut it open!

Not too shabby for a bunch of volunteer plants! We have at least 6 more that are almost ready to pick :)

I hope everyone's having a great week!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Two Little Birds.... embroidery!

This is one of the things I've been working on since taking a break. The break really wasn't intentional, but necessary. Sometimes you just need one, you know? Last week, my family and I took a trip to Myrtle Beach. It was nice to get away... very relaxing. And I got to work on some new embroidery projects, including this one! I used lots of chain stitching with this one. I was inspired by a felt figurine I saw on Pinterest. And if you don't know what Pinterest is, then you should check it out! What a fantastic place to find inspiration (i.e., waste time...). Seriously. A huge time hole. But I love it, anyway!

I was prepared to teach my girls some basic embroidery skills just in case they became curious, which they did. I will share their projects later! My older daughter even did some bead work with some of her projects (she's 9), while my younger daughter (almost 6) stuck to the basic backstitch. I'm really impressed with how well they took to needlework and how enthusiastic they were about their projects!

In chicken news, I am sad to report that I've lost a hen. I'm so sad. She just vanished without a trace... no feathers or anything :(. I haven't a clue what got her. So now I'm down to 3 hens and the rooster. It might be time to shop for some new hens :(. 

I hope everyone has been well!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Manic Monday! What is that in my garden?

Mother Nature continues to play games with us. We thought for sure once the many volunteer squash plants started to look more grown up that they were cucumbers. Well, weeks went by with no fruit. I was beginning to wonder what was going on when we started spotting these.... not exactly cucumberish. Well, another couple of weeks went by and it became apparent that we were dealing with a much larger fruit....

Watermelon. Lots and lots of them! I don't like watermelon, but everyone else in my family does. I was so hoping to make pickles this summer.... hopefully my two little cucumber plants I grew from seeds will produce. I really don't know how well the watermelons will do. We set them up to climb like cukes.... not to sprawl and have room to rest on the ground!

Yesterday we spotted our first tomato hornworms of the year, one of which had nearly decimated one of our grape tomato plants :(. I started using a tip I'd read many times from other organic gardeners to carry around a bucket of very soapy water while harvesting your garden. If you find any bad bugs in your garden, simply drop them in the bucket. The bugs won't be able to get out! So add "bug killer" to my list of occupations... we got rid of lots of June bugs tonight.

This was part of my dinner tonight. I love caprese salads! I wish I could say that these beautiful tomatoes came from my garden, but they didn't. The basil did, though! We also had frozen pizza... and I nearly fainted when both my girls tried the spinach pizza! They both went back for seconds, too!

Sorry I did not post last week. We had VBS at church in the evenings last week. This is my 4th year in a row being craft leader (whatever gave them the idea that I like crafts? ;) ). The kids had a blast! I'm exhausted, though!

I went to a little reunion with some of my Sigma sorority sisters Saturday night. It was so nice to see everyone after all these years (I graduated in 1995!) I hope we can get together again soon!

Have a great week, friends!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Thrifty Thursday and Photo Friday! Chicken House...

My chickens have seemed much happier after some recent new additions to their house. They now have a chicken run (although some minor improvements need to be made, mainly to secure any gaps along the bottom), and they also now have a real door to the coop where there was once only a screen of rat wire secured by nails. The fencing my husband bought off of Craigslist. The door came from my uncle-in-law's stash of useful stuff he couldn't get rid of (Thrifty!). He and my aunt-in-law came over last week to meet the chickens, and he offered it to us! The coop itself was made from salvaged plywood. My husband is having a shed built in the next couple of weeks, and we will use the leftover siding to finish off the coop. Now the chickens can stay outside all day and play without anyone worrying about how safe they are! And now they are also truly secure at night :)

I am very grateful for the recent rain we have gotten! There was lots of rain last week, just not by my house :( Hopefully, we caught up a bit!

I bought these books last night:

They should be good reads :)

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Manic Monday! Cuticle Oil...

This is the homemade cosmetic I use the most... unless you count my baking soda deodorant, but I don't really feel like I "make" that! I use this cuticle oil on my fingernails and toenails... especially in the summer! I choose not to polish my nails... I like them buffed and natural! So the first day I could really wear my flip-flops, I decided to make a new batch. The ingredients are as follows:

*1 small container (glass is preferable because it is non-reactive, but a plastic travel shampoo bottle from a hotel would do. I used a syrup bottle from Cracker Barrel!)
* Jojoba or sweet almond oil (about 1 T)
* Tea tree essential oil (4 drops) (anti-fungal)
* Lemon essential oil (4 drops) (whitens nails)
* Vitamin E gel capsules (2 small or 1 large)
* Other essential oils for fragrance as desired, 2-4 drops each. I used Lavender and Rosemary, both of which have antiseptic qualities.

Start by pouring the Jojoba or Sweet Almond oil into your container. Jojoba is heavier in texture and a bit more expensive than the almond oil, but both absorb easily. Add the essential oils as desired. Add your vitamin E oil by puncturing with a pin and squeezing the oil into your container. Put the lid on, shake gently, and your cuticle oil is ready to use! With a container this small, you can use your finger to apply the oil, but a Q-tip works as well. Massage the oil into the nails and cuticles to keep your cuticles smooth and your nails shiny!

Most grocery stores with a natural foods/healthcare section will have sweet almond oil. I bought my almond oil at Whole Foods, but I have seen it at my local Martin's. The Jojoba oil came from Trader Joe's. I buy some of my essential oils from Lavender Fields Farm. The Aura Cacia oils came from Vita Cost, but they are readily available at Whole Foods. I found the prices are much better at Vita Cost, and you can certainly purchase all of these supplies there, although you must pay shipping.

If you try making this, I'd love to hear what you thought about it!

In other news, I have to brag about my kindergartener.... she won an award for "most likely to become an actress." My little drama queen. :)

Also, my husband, father-in-law, and I have almost finished some significant upgrades to our chickens' home! They now have a proper door to their coop and a chicken run! I'll tell you more about it on Thursday!

Have a great week!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Photo Friday! Creepy stuff....

That, my friends, is a black widow. We are assuming this one is a girl, because she was attached to that beige ball toward the end of the stick that looks very much like an egg sack. My husband found her in the wood pile. EEEK! We have so many spiders in the yard, you would think it's fall, not summer!

This one is a much friendlier orchard spider. He had spun a beautiful web between a brick wall and one of our rain barrels! We've also found many spiders in our garden, and for that, I'm glad! We left those alone so they could do their work in the garden.

The black widow, however, didn't make it.

I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Thrifty Thursday!

Look at the plates I found over the weekend! This is a Mikasa pattern called "Blue Bird." (They should have called it "fantastic blue rooster"!) My two favorite colors right now... turquoise and pea green! I even have pyrex to match this pattern! I only found 2 dinner plates and a salad plate, so the hunt is on.... the sugar and creamer are the turquoise blue and white. I'd LOVE to find those (insert husband's eye roll here.... ) I also found a skirt and a shirt...

Did you find any lovelies this week? I'd love to hear about them!

Stay tuned tomorrow for some interesting finds in the garden....

Monday, June 6, 2011

Manic Moday! Harvest!

Although it's on the small side :), our first garden harvest was sugar snap peas! I sauted these with a bit of butter, olive oil, salt, and pepper... yum!

We should have some grape tomatoes soon. I think mother nature is playing games with us... of all of the 30something volunteer tomatoes we had, all but one seems to be grape tomatoes! The one unique plant I think is a brandywine, which is great! I think my dreams of canning tons of salsa and homemade marinara sauce are dashed, however!

This was dinner tonight... a white turkey chili! I adapted the recipe from one I found online. It needed a kick of something, though. I'll have to try this one again... the cilantro is from our garden, and was another volunteer!

I hope everyone is off to a great week!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Photo Friday! Butterflies...

Yesterday when I came home, this beautiful creature greeted me! He was kind enough to pose for several pictures :)

This morning began less than ideally... my younger daughter woke me up because her throat hurt. She also had a bit of a fever. Now, I dutifully take my kids to get checked for strep every time they have a sore throat and a fever, and this is the very first time we have ever had the test come back positive :(. We have meds now, though, so I hope she'll be feeling better very soon!

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Thrifty Thursday!

I'm a day late with this, but don't blame me! Blogger was having problems uploading photos last night! I can't complain about such a wonderful free service, though!

Today I'm sharing some purchases over the weekend... some awesome vintage fabric and ticking stripe fabric as well as a plate stand (I've always wanted one!) I picked up from my church's yard sale.... and another white divided Pyrex casserole and a small glass dome from the thrift store. :) I will use the dome with a small cake stand. Now I feel the need to throw a party and use it!

Have you found any lovelies this week? I hope so! :)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Manic Monday! Ottoman!

I finally finished the ottoman! You can check out its humble beginning here. I bought the bottom piece at an estate sale for $2, and I spent some time sanding and varnishing it. I wish I could say that I completed the project without help, but I did have some from my husband. He had to cut the MDF board I used for the base and help me attach the legs to the cushion. It's a bit taller than I anticipated. I may even do something different with the yard sale piece that inspired it all and find new legs to put on the cushion.  I thought about cutting down the legs, but I don't think I want to do that! I'm thinking something with webbing of some kind... we'll see! I added some piping to the bottom of the cushion which I like a lot! So basically I like the top and bottom of the piece, but maybe not together!

On a side note, these are the shoes my husband surprised me with for Mother's Day! I had a crush on these for several months!

I hope everyone is enjoying this Memorial Day. It's hot here in VA! Who said we could only have 1 week of Spring and fly right into Summer? It's supposed to reach a record high tomorrow!

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Do you want to hear the good news or the bad news? The bad news is that my neighbors don't observe the leash law, and a rottweiler from next door attacked my rooster. (I had no idea one was even over there). This was after 2 other dogs which belong to the same neighbors unsuccessfully went after my hens. No way could I stop the rottweiler, though. The good news is that I have a fast rooster... and the dog only got feathers. Lots and lots of feathers.

This is just one of several piles all over my yard. So sad.

Here's my rooster, sans tail. He should grow back all the feathers.

Needless to say, last night was full of drama at my house. I now have begun a great relationship with animal control... and I will do my best to refrain from getting too political about all that happened last night. :(

Friday, May 20, 2011

Photo Friday! Garden Volunteers!

Let's hear it for volunteers! My Thrifty Thursday yesterday was going to be about how awesome it is that we have well over 30 volunteer tomatoes and as many squash, too! Of course, that created lots of extra work creating new beds to accommodate all of these courageous lovelies... (thanks to my husband for running the tiller...) We figured if they had worked this hard to be here, they deserved the chance to grow all season. We have no idea what varieties any of these are... so it will be a surprise! So now in addition to the 4 raised beds (two of which have some of our seedlings) we also have 2 new beds with tons of plants. Come on, rain!

I actually bought ladybugs at Lavender Fields Farm last weekend. We finally had a rain-free night to release them! 

And here's my handsome kitty... he's checking out the chickens again.... :)

Have a fantastic weekend, everyone!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Manic Monday! Wildlife!

One thing about living outside the city and the 'burbs is the frequency of looking out the window in the morning to sights like this one:

I've become accustomed to surveying the backyard every morning. Usually if I see something it's our neighborhood herd of deer. But on Sunday, I spotted this guy walking from our house to the woods!

He obviously wasn't feeling his best... my husband thinks he had a run-in with a lawnmower. That's the main reason why he let me get this close to get a picture. He was moving OK and had gone into the woods in just a few minutes. This is not the kind of turtle you really want to handle, because snapping turtles are not friendly!

In chicken news, we had 15 eggs in the first week. My daughter collected 5 eggs today! One is teeny tiny! Not bad at all for 4 hens!

We also got our garden partially planted. We had a ton of volunteer tomatoes and squash, so we transplanted a bunch of those to a new garden. We still have one more raised bed to plant. We have a chance for rain all week, which I hope will get the garden off to a nice start!

Have a great week, everyone!