lucy's first knife...

did you catch jaime oliver's food revolution last week? i won't go into all of the details of the episode, but there was a segment that dealt with kids in schools not getting to use actual utensils--rather, they are given a plastic spork and left to make it work. they're often served lots of foods that can be eaten out of hand: pizzas, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, etc., which don't require utensils in the first place.

i had picked up a 29-cent, pint-sized knife while thrifting on friday. the food revolution episode made me realize that i should start giving lucy a knife at meals--even though her food doesn't need actual cutting, there's no harm in letting her start practicing.

lucy had loads of fun today cutting dough while i rolled out pretzels. if it seems like we're always working with dough around here, well, it's because we are. bread, pretzels, bagels, crackers, pizzas. making all this stuff from scratch can be time consuming--it's work. but it's also the kind of work that can be considered play. with the proper utensils, of course.

fresh & clean...

spring cleaning hasn't just been limited to my closet. i figured the blog banner could use a re-vamp too--the old one's been around for nearly 2 years! new header art was done by kristen at lemonade in the shade. she did a makeover for the etsy shop, too. change is good! thanks, kristen!

peep, peep...

check out our new babies... just in time for easter!

five new fluffy friends have been added to our flock. well, not technically as they've taken up residence in our house for the next 6-8 weeks. this is our first time raising chickens from babies--we've gotten older pullets in the past which were already old enough to stay outdoors. right now, the chicks are comfortable in a large plywood box. they need constant heat from an infrared light--the opposite of eco-friendly for sure! we have already started them on organic chicken feed, forgoing the antibiotic-laden starter scratch that is often used. it will be interesting to see how these birds compare with our existing birds who were raised on antibiotics and have only recently switched over to organic food.

lucy is thrilled with these new friends. hudson is indifferent. our dog maizy is very curious while our cat is (surprisingly) ignoring them altogether. i suppose she has bigger fish to fry--there are lots of baby birds hanging around in the yard this week. anyhow, jeremy likes the constant, quiet peeping from the corner of the room and i think these babies are all too charming. ask me again in about 4 weeks--once they get bigger and the novelty wears off! i will probably be VERY ready for them to move outdoors!

our chicks were $3.50 each and the infrared light & bulb together was around $26. we did not have to buy feed or shavings as we already had them. so, for about $60 dollars (not counting electricity) we've got 5 new hens. yes, i am being very optimistic that we did not inadvertently get ourselves a rooster... the feed store advertised 90/10 ratio of females to males. with the price of organic eggs in our area (between $4.75-8.50 per dozen), these little girls will pay for themselves in no time.


pretty little things...

yesterday i had the pleasure of thrift shopping with my good friend molly (along with our total of 4 kids--none over the age of 2.5-- in tow). molly always manages to bring good luck to any secondhand-shopping excursion. she also brings snacks. a nice girl, she is.

anyhow, lots was found yesterday. but what made me squeal with the most delight was stumbling (literally, as i tried to retrieve a non-cart-sitting lucy from the depths of the linens section) across these vintage wooden hangers. they're done up in a gorgeous array of pastel colors--perfect for springtime. it's a little springtime celebration for my closet--a welcome reward for all of the cleaning i've been up to.

three dozen hangers for $3. i just love the fact that someone once had the time (and energy) to crochet covers for these hangers. this is likely because i have very little of either time or energy to speak of, but i digress.

the hangers were soaked in a bath of warm water and dr. bronner's soap, swished around a bit, then hung to dry in the sun. as molly said (with some distaste), "they look like they came from an old person's house." and that's exactly why i love them so!


freezer hash brown patties...

i know i've shared that one of lucy's favorite breakfast foods is a hash brown patty. not the healthiest thing in the world, but she eats lots of fruits and veggies throughout the day, so i haven't been too concerned with the less-than-healthy aspect of this favored food. what did concern me, however, was when i flipped over the box one day to read the ingredients label. i was expecting to see potatoes, oil, and salt. and yes, they were all there--along with about 15 other ingredients. gross.

after getting over my mommy guilt, i set about searching how to make our own freezer hash browns, but didn't really find what i was looking for. so i set about figuring it out myself. and by gosh, i think i did it. simply.

this is less of a recipe and more of a method--mainly because i use however many potatoes we have on hand. the key is to half-cook your potatoes by boiling--cooking any further will result in mashed potato patties (which are good, but, as lucy pointed out to me very seriously one morning, "dat not hash browns.")

so gather up a good bunch of potatoes (we use organic russets or organic reds, but any kind will do). peel and set to boil in a big pot. keep a semi-close watch--when a fork can be poked into the potatoes with a fair bit of effort, they're probably done. wait for them to cool a bit, then grate them with either a cheese grater or a food processor with grating attachment (i much prefer the latter).

if you have cooked them correctly, your potatoes will be gummy and weird. good job. now douse liberally with the vegetable oil of your choosing--we use organic olive oil. use your hands to incorporate the oil into all of the potatoes so they're no longer starchy-sticky to the touch.

if you are cooking with a small person on your hip, you will probably spill your olive oil, as your free hand (which has been massaging the potatoes with oil) is super-slippery.
you will probably do this not once, but twice. seriously.

sprinkle very liberally with salt. salt is a personal issue--i try to use as little as possible since i don't think toddlers (or any of us, really) benefit from excess sodium. but potatoes really do taste better with lots of salt. sprinkle, then nibble, than sprinkle, then nibble until they taste right to you.

add some cracked black pepper, and mix again until everything seems really well-incorporated. now have a taste. does it taste like a cold, half-cooked hash brown should? okay, than you are on the right track.
form into patties about the size of your palm. try to get them around 1/4" - 1/2" thick--you want them to be thin enough that they'll cook through in the pan. freeze on a cookie sheet--if you've got more patties than space, separate stacks with a layer of parchment paper. freeze overnight, then store in a container.
when you want your fabulous, homemade hash browns, simply pop one out of the freezer and microwave to defrost (about a minute). alternatively, you thinking-ahead types could pull a couple out at night and let them defrost in the fridge. pan-fry with a bit of olive oil till the outsides and edges are nice & crispy.

there you have it. junky food made slightly less junky. enjoy!


all in a day's work...

yesterday, with lucy napping peacefully in her crib, hudson and i ventured outside to pick up the daily eggs. it's our afternoon ritual--we say hello to the birds, thank them for their eggs and make sure they've got enough water in their bowl. well, yesterday they weren't quite through laying. in fact, peach and foghorn were both crowded into one of the nesting boxes, shuffling around and trying to get comfortable enough to drop an egg.

even with having chickens in our own backyard, i have to admit i'm a bit removed from the actual egg-laying process. every now and then i'll hear some loud cackling, but for the most part, the eggs just seem to appear and we eat them. but hudson and i had plenty of time, and so we stood in the sunshine watching the hens. well, i watched the hens while hudson chewed thoughtfully on my thumb. it's hard work, being a baby.

having given (unmedicated) birth twice in the span of 18 months, i'm no stranger to the discomforts of labor and delivery. so believe me when i say--i felt for those chickens yesterday. the panting, the squatting, the seemingly-never-ending attempt to get comfortable. and finally, the stillness that comes with controlled pushing--the moment i was waiting for. each chicken's egg dropped on the floor of the wooden nesting box with a soft thunk. each hen stood resting for a moment and hopped down to get a long drink of water, then headed out to the lawn to peck at the grass.

we've all heard that one of the biggest problems with food in america is that, generally speaking, people are just too far removed from the growth and production of what they're eating. i guess this can happen even in one's own backyard. it's just so simple to take for granted the extraordinary.

in related news, we've switched over to organic feed (no gmo's) and we've decided to add another set of chickens to our flock. this time we'll be getting them as day-old chicks. stay tuned for fluffy butts of a different sort!


every time...

i start to think i'm getting a handle on the whole GMO thing, i learn something new. i just finished up reading about genetically-modified sugar beets, which have recently entered the american food supply. these sugar beets are "roundup ready," meaning that they have been genetically altered to accept roundup herbicides without ill-effect. the sugar that comes from these beets is commonly used in place of cane sugar.

unless labeled organic or sweetened with 100% cane sugar, there's a good chance any given food item (such as chocolate) contains GM beet sugar. therefore, it's again best to buy organic whenever possible.

non-organic baking powder is also commonly GM. as is powdered sugar. click here for the full list of "invisible ingredients."

in related happenings, did you catch the first episode of jaime oliver's food revolution? the full episode is also up on hulu.com if you didn't--it seems like it's going to be a good show. yeah, there's some drama-type stuff going on (alice the lunch lady is jamie's worst nightmare, jaime cries, etc.), but let's face it--if it doesn't have the drama factor, america won't watch. and america needs to watch this. hopefully it gets some people fired up.

as you probably know, we've been t.v. free here quite awhile. but i'll be tuning into this one via the internet--it's the first time in over 2 years that a show has captured my interest enough to warrant dedicated watching. besides weeds, that is. i do so love my weeds.

that's all i've got for now. jeremy just made more cookies. with non-GMO sugar. smart guy.

we are cookie monsters...

really and truly. when given the choice between cupcakes and cookies (jeremy was in the mood for baking last week--not once, but twice!) i will always choose cookies. especially those of the chocolate chip variety. the proposed cupcakes even had alcohol in them, for goodness sakes. but i'm a cookie girl, through and through. lucy follows suit, as you can see:

jeremy and lucy make a good baking team. she's game to dump in all of the ingredients; he does the careful measuring. they did let me sift the dry ingredients with our new (old) sifter that we picked up out at the antique fair a few weeks ago. we used the cookie recipe in alton brown's good eats--the early years cookbook. these were definitely one of the best chocolate chip cookies we've had around here for awhile. big, puffy, cake-y cookies that called for the use of an ice-cream scoop to get them onto the pan. yeah, they were big! yum!


you're not drinking bottled water, right?

no, no. i know you're all reading this while sipping from your klean kanteens and sigg bottles. but perhaps you know someone who is still a bottled water addict. if so, pass this video on.

i had no idea about recycled bottles being sent to india for "downcycling." facts such as these really serve as a reminder--of the "3 r's," reducing our personal consumption is by far the most important.




by the sewing bug today. this past weekend's spring cleaning activities left me with a huge pile of clothes to get rid of. most are waiting to be donated, but a stack of items not suitable for donation went to my sewing studio to become fabric for kiddo clothes-making. sifting through it this afternoon was very motivating. not to mention the kids let me sew for a bit--while entertaining each other, no less. they must have known it would pay off for them in the end?

lucy got yet another skirt, made from an old tube top (wait a sec... i wore tube tops?) and hudson got a roomy pair of jeans made from some old favorites of mine that were simply too worn out to pass on.

on to the models...


wear-what-you-want wednesday...

another installment of the ever-adorable wear what-what-you-want-wednesday. this wednesday finds lucy in undies, rain boots and a whole lotta nothin' else. the perfect outfit for the warm spring weather we've been having lately--and also good that i have no plans on leaving the house. she'd get pinched for sure. happy saint patrick's day to all!

spring trickery...

with the sun shining brightly in the sky, i was motivated to get the diapers out on the line yesterday. no easy task--i had 48 diapers to hang, along with a few other things. in fact, i spent the majority of hudson's naptime getting them all up. no matter, they looked pretty cute hanging there in the yard, and several were in dire need of some sunlight to remove stains.

the bummer came when i went out around 5 o'clock to take them off of the line. not dry. i guess it's still too early to count on outdoor line drying exclusively. maybe in another month or so. so i popped them into the dryer--they came out after 15 minutes or so, and were nice and soft which is hard to get off the line.

for those wondering, 48 diapers is about 3.5 days worth. yeah, he's a busy guy, that hudson bear. but that's alright. we're pretty sure we'll keep him.


had for sixty-nine cents...

the rainy-day blues of this past friday inspired us to take a trip to our local, dirt-cheap thrift store. it's the thrift store that always feels a little rough around the edges. the "ick factor" can be pretty high, but many a bargain can be found with a little dedicated sifting. and sure enough, we came home with a few things to love.

check out this vintage alice in wonderland pop-up book. in perfect condition, for a mere 69 cents. i couldn't believe it--i flipped through, sure that i'd come across a destroyed page. but there were no rips or tears, and all pop-up pieces were working! a pleasant surprise for sure. there's no copyright date to be found (i think the book was part of a larger set) but it's got a real sixties/seventies vibe going on. lucy thinks it's groovy.

also purchased: this stack of clothes for little hudson. we happened to hit "half-off" day, luckily enough. grand total for 9 shirts and 1 pair of pants? $3.90. most of the items were baby gap and children's place. can't beat that for affordability!


this moment...

if you follow the uber-popular soulemama blog, than you're likely familiar with her new friday installment this moment. (if you're not familiar with soulemama--oh my gosh, you're missing out.) anyhow, she's invited other bloggers to participate, and i'm totally game. in the hustle & bustle of life with 2 under 2, anything that helps keep the mind focused on the "simple, special & extraordinary" sounds good to me.

here's ours for this week--no other words allowed.

farm box friday...

in our box today...

3 navel oranges
2 golden delicious apples
2 pears
2 tangerines
2 pink lady apples
1 fuji apple
1 lemon
green cauliflower
red chard
2 lbs red potatoes
broccoli crowns
1 bunch carrots
1 lb red onions

lucy began devouring the broccoli as soon as i opened the box. i'm not a raw broccoli kind of girl, but she seems to love it uncooked. more power to her for that!

stew is on the menu for the coming week, with grass fed beef which i've got in the freezer. not sure what to do with the cauliflower--directions for roasting were included in the farm notes, so perhaps i'll give that a go.

i used about half of our farm box potatoes this afternoon in making bread--specifically, a potato and roasted garlic loaf. i used the cookbook "artisan bread in 5 minutes a day," which was gifted to me by a very generous reader--thanks again renee! we're on carbohydrate-overload around here trying out a bunch of divine pizzas and breads--i haven't even tapped into the sweets & pastries section of the book yet. more to come on all of this in a later post.

lastly, the farm notes mentioned that asparagus is near-ready for harvest. i'm greatly looking forward to our next delivery--asparagus is one of my favorites, stinky pee and all. did you know it takes 3 years before an asparagus plant is ready for harvest? neither did i. kind of explains why people don't typically grow it in their backyards...


hudson is 4 months old!

time flies when you're having fun. recent talents include:

~ trying to roll. he can get over to one side--big sister is always good for the final push.
~ sleeping in nice long stretches. always good for the mama.
~ checking out the dog, the cat, the chickens. i think we have another animal lover on our hands.
~ snuggling. not a recent talent, as he's always been snuggly, but this lil' guy is good. he can sometimes talk me into a 9 o'clock bedtime--no small feat!

we love, love, love this tiny, cuddly man. cheers!