Finally Starting a Blog!

unsplash_mOqOuMduRLKZH4hfUE7S_3

I have talked about starting a blog for a couple years now, it is time I just do it. I stay home with the girls, we do lots of projects, we are buying a farm.. If I’m going to be a blogger, this would be the time to start.

I enjoy reading all types of blogs. From the sweet families you get to see grow and change over time, the inspiring crafters, ones I can count on for great recipes, and the blogs I find so incredibly interesting I can’t stop reading. I have learned a lot from these bloggers over time. It’s interesting how you can feel so connected with these families you have never met. You experience their struggles, their wins, their home renovations and parts of their heart that they write out and share freely with the community they create.

One thing that has held me back from jumping into blogging is I have a wide variety of interest. Baking/cooking, art, home decorating, family, wood working, gardening, canning, archery, shooting.. etc. I don’t really have one theme going on. Any blogging 101 article I come across suggest picking a theme and sticking to it. That makes sense. Someone who is interested in gardening may not care that I signed up to take a welding class (I can make cool garden art once I learn though!!). But, right now, I plan on staying true to what I do. Blogging about our little family adventures along with the many different hobbies we get into. If it gets a little to random, I will try to center it a bit.

Cheers to starting a new hobby!!

Thank you so much for reading (and commenting so it feels real!)!!

-ash

Baking with the girls

I really enjoy baking. I like the process of finding recipes, trying new recipes, and cherishing great ones. I didn’t grow up baking that much. I remember watching Martha Stewart on tv after school when I was little and loved watching how to make desserts (I was a weird kid..). I really started baking in my early 20’s. Now I make pies, cakes, and cookies weekly. Baking is relaxing to me. My girls love to bake! If we have a dessert someplace that the girls look at me and say “we can make that!”. 🙂

Yesterday afternoon we made banana bread. Banana bread is one of my favorite desserts of. all. time.!! I LOVE it! It’s so homey and warming- how can anyone not love it! Yesterday it was pretty chilly here so a warm treat sounded perfect. My favorite banana bread recipe I have ever tried was from Molly Wizenberg’s book A Homemade Life. It’s made with chocolate and crystallized ginger-It’s amazing!!

My girls and I tried a new recipe yesterday that we found on Allrecipes. It was a good one! No nuts or fancy steps. Just lots of banana!

Banana Banana Bread

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 1/3 cups mashed overripe bananas
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
3. Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

 

image

These guys are at the age where they really help, instead of “help”, you know what I mean? They can both use the mixer, measure, and smash bananas. They are pretty cute too!

image

 

Even Princess Puppy helped.. I really need to rig another eye on that dog. She is very loved, can you tell, ha!

 

image           914962

Right when we were done mixing a pack of neighbor kids knocked on the door. My two took off down the road on their bikes and I sat on the front step reading. Every time they rode past the house they would yell “is the banana bread done?!!”. It was such a nice afternoon with my girls. The banana bread was great too!

Do you have a good banana bread recipe to share? I will try it, gladly!

 

image

Here’s a bonus picture.. Morgan is always being silly and Gianna is not amused! Haha! I was the younger sister growing up… so my brother probably felt the same way.. Ha!

 

 

Backyard Chickens

image

Last year, a few days after Easter, our family brought home 5 baby chicks from Farm & Fleet. It has become one of my favorite projects we have done at this house. Dave and I played with the idea of getting chickens for a while before we brought home the adorable little balls of fluff . We had no farming/chicken experience at all.. But we did have smart phones and watched a lot of YouTube tutorial videos, soooo, we thought (still think!) we can do anything!

Our friends called one morning and told us Farm & Fleet had their baby chicks in. We went to go look (not thinking we were going to be bringing any home). About an hour later, we were driving home with a “peeping” (!!!) white cardboard box with little air holes on the side.

 

image                  image

 

We got them all set up in my office in a big bin with their food, water, a heat light, and bedding. The breeds we brought home were 1 Barred Rock (the black one, brown eggs, our favorite!), 1 Araucana (the white one, blue eggs), and 3 Road Island Reds (the brown ones, brown eggs). That first night Gianna and I about fell asleep in my office because we couldn’t stop watching them hop around eating, drinking, and then dropping to the ground asleep (yes, baby chicks will just drop and fall asleep wherever they are, it’s weird). For the few weeks the chicks were in the house, the girls and I ate lunch in my office with them… We also read our bedtime stories with the chicks… Remember me saying I had no farming/chicken experience? I think it’s a safe assumption that the chickens that laid the eggs at the grocery store did not have lunch dates and bedtime stories when they were babies.. 🙂

 

image      image

 

image         image

 

The next thing we (Dave) did was build a coop. We put the coop in our vegetable garden because of lack of space in our backyard and we wanted the chickens to eat the bugs in the garden. Dave designed the coop- I love how it turned out!! The little details he added made a huge difference. The roof has some clear panels to let in extra light and solid ones for shade. The clear ones really help out in the winter when the days are shorter and they don’t play outside much. Another helpful thing is Dave made a stainless steal tray to cover the floor in the roosting area. This makes cleaning really easy and sanitary. He also added a rope system for opening and closing the door without having to go into the coop. Adding up materials, we are guessing this coop cost us around $300 to make. My husband tends to overbuild things.. I’m not complaining at all! But, this coop is probably stronger than our garage! So you don’t need to spend that much. Farm & fleet has some cute coops for about $150.

 

image

Chickens grow incredibly fast!

 

image     image

 

My girls are all grown up! I keep chicken feed in their coop at all times but they mostly eat bugs, grass, and whatever else they find in the yard. I also bring them out treats of fruits, vegetables, seed, and sometimes oatmeal. They love plain oatmeal!

 

image       image

Back yard chicken eggs are really good! We keep chickens as pets, entertainment, bug control, and for the eggs. Once they started laying at about 5 months old we were so excited! These are pictures of our chicken egg and a store bought egg next to each other. The left side is our chickens, the right, the store. It’s a bummer the colors are not showing up so great in the pictures. The color of the yolk on our chickens egg is a really vibrant orange in person while the store bought is pale yellow. Another thing I notice is the whites are much clearer that the store bought eggs. The yolk also sits up higher than the store bought ones. The plumpness shows the difference between a fresh egg and one that has been sitting around for a while. Something I found interesting is over the winter the yolk color changed. It went from bright orange to pale yellow. The chickens were mainly eating the chicken feed from the store during the winter. Once they were back to eating bugs and grass the yolks went back to a deep orange color.

 

 

image        image

 

This is the coop today and the beautiful eggs we get from our chickens. Each chicken lays just about every day. We get enough eggs for our family and lots to share with the neighbors. I am so glad we took home our little balls of fluff from Farm & Fleet that day!!!