Monday, January 31, 2011

Micaiah Ministries

I am not one to really endorse foreign aid programs.  My philosophy is more on the lines of help your own country first when there is so many in need.  However, I do have to say that I am impressed with Micaiah Ministries.  This group is adamant about helping homeless street kids of Russia.  They have a boys home and have just built a girls home.  The Restoration House provides shelter, guidance, love, and structure, and prayer for these kids that want help.

Todd Murphy and Kent Wilson spoke at the church I attend.  It was quite moving and inspirational to see what a difference they are making with these kids.  I pray they they continue to prosper and succeed with these kids.  

I have a soft spot in my heart for the helpless Russian orphans.  We attempted to adopt a child from Russia.  It did not go through as it was just way too expensive for us.  My heart goes out to these poor homeless kids doing who know what for a place to sleep and something to eat.  I pray that the Restoration House group can continue to minister to these youth and do positive things in their lives. 

I would like to do something to help the Restoration House.  If I had the resources I would love to spend some time there to help teach the girls how to cook, sew, and crochet.  It may not seem like much but it would teach then a skill that they could use to help them become more self sufficient and stay off the streets.  Maybe someday I will be able to do that, if they had a need for me and my skills.  Until then I will continue to pray for this wonderful cause.  Won't you join me in a prayer for them?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Altered Cigar Box into a Sewing Kit

I posted on the Crafty Corner page a super cute sewing kit I made from altering a cigar box.  I used scrapbook paper and some other things and created a very nice very practical gift for a new bride starting out her new married life.

If you are looking for gift ideas this is one that is easy to do, and almost guaranteed not to be a duplicate gift then this is it!  I tried to think back to when I was a new bride and what I had that I did not use, and what I needed and did not have.  A sewing kit was one of the things that I needed but did not have.  Who thinks of sewing stuff??!!  I do hope that this comes in handy for her and one day she will look back as she is reaching into it for a needle and thread and say 'Hey this was a pretty cool gift!  Very handy!'  :o)  An old cigar box turned into a cute sewing box.  Go check it out!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Another New Page Added

I added another new page to this blog.  This one called Sew What?.  There I will be showcasing the items that I sew.  Sometimes there will be a tutorial on how to make something.  Some things that are easily reproduced such as bags, aprons, and pin cushions can be ordered.  If you are interested in anything leave me a comment and I will get you prices etc.

The first entry in the Sew What page is a retro apron I made for my cousin's bridal shower.  It is reversible and made in a retro design.  I have other apron pics to post, and will do that soon.  If you are interested in buying an apron from me let me know!  In the mean time check out Sew What? page!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Diaper Cake

I posted a new entry on how to make a really cute diaper cake on the Crafty Corner page.  These are so cute and make a great center piece for a baby shower.  Give it a try!  The one I made was for a baby girl but it would be very easy to just change the ribbons and blanket colors to make it for a  boy or gender neutral.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

New page added

I have added a new page to this blog titled Crafty Corner.  Here I will be showcasing some of the various crafty things I make.  Some things will have direction.  Some things may be for sale.  If you are interested in anything just leave me a comment.

Just in time for Valentines day the first post on the Craft Corner will be a super cute Valentin's Box that you and your child can make.  Check it out!

Monday, January 24, 2011

BRRRRRR.... It is spring yet??

Oh man, it has been so very cold here in PA the past few days.  This morning my weather bug stated that it was 9 below zero.  This weather is not fit for man nor beast!  Can you name the show where that quote came from?  Over the weekend it was even colder.  I will grin and take the cold because that usually means that it is too cold to snow.  I would much rather have cold and no snow than moderate and snow storm after snow storm.  I just remind myself that every day, the daylight hours are getting longer and soon we will be in spring.  Of course that does not mean we are out of the woods for snow.  Not in PA - we can get snow well into April and sometimes May.  I remember Easter Egg hunts wearing winter coats and searching through snow for the eggs that held the goodies.  Oh how I long to be back in TN.  But then I would probably be complaining about the ticks and the pleasing me I guess.  :o)  I really am not that big of a diva.  I take the cold and make sure my critters are pampered and taken care of.  The chickens have 2 heat lamps in their coop to help keep their coop warm, well at least temperate, and their water unfrozen.  The bunny has several blankets draped over his cozy cage to protect him from the wind.  He also gets his water changed several times a day to keep it flowing.  My pets are well cared for.  I love caring for them, even if it means I that I have to deal with this horrible cold.  All I hope is that this cold does some good and knocks the bug (read tick) population down a notch or two.

Since I talked about more of my critters.  You all have seen my chickens.  Let me introduce you to Dust Bunny:
He is a Dwarf Netherland rabbit.  He is a cutie.  He is demanding.  He will get all rowdy and start yelling at you to feed him or bring him fresh water, or clean his litter pan!  So loud and demanding for a critter that makes no noise.  We love him dearly and he gets lots of lovin and treats.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

New recipe posted - Potato Soup

I posted a new recipe on the What's Cookin page.  This one is for Potato Soup.  This recipe will take some time but a good soup should take time to make and develope layers and depth of flavors melding together into one scrumptious thing.   I made this Potato Soup last weekend and I think it took me about 2 hours to make - but it was oh so worth it.  It is rich, hearty, and very flavorful.  Give it a try.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Figuring this all out

I am trying to figure this all out.  I am new to blogger and all the bells and whistles are still new to me.  I did figure out how to add a new page and that has been named What's Cookin.  I will post recipes and other kitchen talk on that page.  There is already a recipe there  - go check it out! 

My goal is to have this blog grow into useful categories of information.  But for now I must learn to walk before I can fly.  I know it ain't rocket science but I am an engineer and we tend to make everything rocket science!  :o)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Introducing my Chickens

Here are some more pics of my chickens and their coop.

This is Fuzzy my Easter Egger chicken.  She is almost 3years old and still laying bright green eggs.

Here is Chip my psycho rooster:

This is one of the newer girls sitting in the nest boxes:

This is the poor chicky I had to put down over the weekend:

and another group shot:

Here are construction pics of the coop.  It is made from rough cut lumber board and battened:

The coop is 8x8 square with a height from 6' in the from down to about 5' in the back.
The run is 8' wide by 30' long.  We let them free range in the non winter months.  The

Most people put their chickens in their back yard.  We put ours in the front yard.  That way we can keep an eye on them and keep them safe from predators.

The finished coop.  I may still paint it red and white, and add a flower box under the window.

Here are some of the eggs I typically get, green and varying shades of brown:

I clean the coop out two times a year.  They do a great job at composting 4 bales of pine shavings into fertile dirt!  I wear my space suit and do it early in the morning when the neighbors are at work or still sleeping!  I am sure I am a sight to see!  It takes me a few hours and about 5 loads with the wheel barrel to get it all cleaned out.  That includes scraping down the perches and washing the window.  Lets face it, chickens are dirty birds and this is a pretty gross job but I choose to have chickens and I will provide them with the cleanest living quarters possible.  I use hay in the next boxes and pine bedding on the coop floor.

I get about 8 - 12 eggs a day with this flock.  Thankfully in PA, small time productions can sell their eggs to the local neighbors and establishments.  I sell my eggs to my neighbors and I sell them to co-workers.  I don't have enough chickens and production to try  selling to the local mom and pop resturants.  Maybe some day.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Sad Day

As I mentioned in my introduction I have chickens.  I have 2 families of hens, one group that is getting to be about 3 years old and a newer family that is just turning 1 year old.  All the chickens live together in a very comfortable chicken coop.  They get along pretty well.  Sometimes there are some arguments as the pecking order is established challenged and maintained.  The newer hens just don't seem to be as hearty ad my older ones.  I have lost some of the older ones due to old age, but I have also had a few of the new one die for no apparent reason.  The new hens are also very skittish and freak out when I approach them as opposed to the older hens that like to be pet, carried around and are generally pretty affectionate ad far as chickens go.  In this newer set of chickens, there is one rooster.  This dear bird is something else.  He is a big chicken in every sense of the word, but he has moments of total stupidity and tries to attack me as I turn my back on him.  I give him an attitude adjustment and he is immediately sorry for what he did but he does not seem to remember and will get a little cocky with me again and again. 

Let me introduce my birds to you.  Here are a few of the cluckers:

In this horrible picture (forgive me it was dark out and all I had was my phone).  You can see Chip the rooster and the hens with the white tails are some of the new girls and the darker ones are the older girls.  The one eating is Fuzzy.  She is one of my favorite hens.  She is an easter-egger and lays green shell colored eggs.  She is super friendly also.

Here is another older hen.  Way up high on the top perches in the coop.  As you can see their coop is deluxe with high and low perches, window, and a wall of nest boxes.

I have more picture to post but they did not seem to make the upload from my phone.  I will re-upload them and post them later.

Anyway back to the sad day.  One of my new hens prolapsed.  If you are not current with the chicken terminology that means that her vent (the hole where the egg comes out) turned inside out some and was bleeding and drawing attention of the other birds.  The other birds would peck at her problem and make it bleed more and draw more attention to it.  A vicious circle.  I did not catch it in time but I tried to clean her up after consulting my handy dandy chicken book.  I had full intentions of saving this poor hen.  According to my book all I had to do was clean the area, tuck everything back in where it belongs and apply some over the counter Preparation H cream to the area to help things shrink back down to normal.  OK, I can do that.  I caught the skittish hen and pet her gently while talking softly to her to calm her down.  I then had to bring her into the house, flip her over and try to clean her up.  As I was cleaning her I noticed that the area that was pecked by the other birds and scabbed over and there was no saving her.  I ended up having to put her down.  I hate killing my chickens.  It would be different if they were meat chickens and what was their purpose but with laying hens death is not their purpose.  I said my apologies to her then broom-sticked her.  I wrapped her up and put her in the dumpster.  I went back in the house and cried.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Snow in PA

Snow in Pennsylvania is nothing new.  PA gets some pretty bis snow totals each year.  However since I have moved back to PA (15 years ago) I have noticed a change in the drivers of my fellow PAers.  They seem to drive more like the southerners I encountered while living in TN for a few years.  I can see TNers not being used to the snow and having some issues with logic during winter driving but I do not expect that from a PAer.  I will be the first to admit I am a crazy winter driver.  I am deathly afraid to drive in the winter and avoid it at all measure.  Yes I take a lot of my vacation days in the winter.  I am leaning though and I have to say that the right tires and the right vehicle make a world of difference.  I used to drive a huge floater boat that did not go for nothing in the winter which added to my winter anxiety.  I got a 4 wheel drive vehicle and was still very cautions but much more confidant.  I loved that vehicle.  It would take me anywhere I pointed it.  It was solid like a tank but small enough to park anywhere.  The only downfall was the gas mileage.  12 mpg does not get you very far when gas spiked to over $4 a gallon.  I panicked and traded it in on a car that got outstanding gas mileage.  Going from 12 mpg to 30 mpg was magnificent!  The answers to my prayers!  However there was a down side or 2 or 5 to this car.  One problem was that it ate tires.  I was going through at least a set of tires each year - yes I had it aligned and checked by every mechanic around.  So what I was saving in gas I would more than putting back into tires and various other checks.  There was also a water leak that they never could figure out.  Top it all off with this particular car did not go for nothing in the winter or even wet roads for that matter.  I stuck with it for 4 years hoping against everything that we would find a fix for it.  There just was not one.  I finally compromised and went up to an all wheel drive cross over vehicle.  It is still on the small size but bigger than my last car.  The gas mileage is less then the other car but the driving stability is much greater.  It is a compromise I think I am willing to accept.  Not to mention my son had outgrown the other car and fits better in the back seat of this one.

We got our first real snow in our area yesterday. I had about 4" at my house.  I set out in my AWD car and away I went shaking in my boots the whole way.  I mentioned that I work strange shifts so I am usually on the road when no one else is which is just fine by me.  However, yesterday I was running about a half hour later and was on the road with a lot of other drivers.  My bad, maybe, for not getting up earlier to give me time to tend with the shoveling before I left,  however the drivers that I encountered on my way to work were just crazy!  Note to self - must get up earlier to tend with snow removal in order to leave on time!  I had a person - bless their heart - pull out in front of me and then proceed to go 20 miles an hour.  OK I get it the roads are a little bad not as bad as I expected but come on you have a 4 wheel drive, the roads are almost bare and you have to crawl?  On top of it all this person was not even in the lane.  I followed shaking my head as I watched the vehicle drive most of the way on the berm of the road.  Crazy.  I finally did get around that person safely and will hopefully not get behind them again! 

This just really frustrates me.  I am a big chicken when it comes to winter driving but yet there appears to be even bigger chickens than me out there.   If that is a true statement - those folks really should have just taken vacation or called in sick that day!  I can not put into words my fear of winter driving, just can't articulate it correctly and fully.  I am a careful and cautious driver, and know when to just stay in bed and call off work.  I know not everyone has that luxury to be able to call off work at a moments notice.  Come on, if I can drive in 4" of snow anyone can.  I think I am really liking my AWD car.  :o)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Welcome to Country Cluckers

Well this is the plunge...the jumping off point....forward ho!  ok enough already.  Welcome to my blog.  As you can guess it will be all about country living.  I live on a 6 acre parcel with my husband, son, and various critter - mainly chickens.  I hope to expand on our country living so as to entertain you and maybe also teach you a thing or two along the way.  There will be laughs, frustrations, and possibly tears along the way but I hope you stick with me.

Why start a blog?  Why not!  Everyone is doing it these days....  :o)  I can't promise outlandishly photo-shopped pictures, or sprawling prairie acreage, but I can promise you real country living and experiences from a small middle class family trying to make ends meet. 

A little about myself.  My name is Karen and I am a 40 something wife, and mom who works inside and outside the home.  I am currently employed as an engineer outside the home.  I won't get into that too much besides to say I work very strange hours.  Inside the home, I do a side business of custom cakes and cookies, along with being a wife, mom, critter caretaker and on and on.  I really like doing wedding cakes and all kinds of cakes and cookies.  I bake and cook a lot and my picky family is the test subjects.  I have come up with some great recipes that my family loves and requests often.  These are tried and true every day recipes.  Since we have chickens we obviously have lots of eggs.  I try to come up with different ways to use the eggs and keep the stock pile under some level of control.  This is hard to do when you get about 12 eggs a day.

Besides cooking I enjoy all kids of things, crafty and sports.  I crochet, sew, and braid wool rugs, to name a few things.  Outside I enjoy working on our property and getting it fortified to be able to grow things.  I don't really enjoy shoveling snow, but it is a neccessary evil for where I live.  I really enjoy bow shooting and we can shoot 25 yards in the basement of the house and well beyone 80 yards in the yard.  We built a nice bale house and marked shooting range this past year.  Gun shooting is another past time we all do.  We have a rifle range at the house as well and can shoot 100 yards.  Comes in handy when it is time to make sure the hunting rifles are sighted in.