Thank you for stopping by! Here you will find a variety of things as I post whatever happens to be going on in our home - recipes, crafts, homeschool, birthday parties, travels, meals in muffin tins and more! I'd love to know what you think so please feel free to leave comments!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Zucchini Rice Casserole


2 c. zucchini, unpeeled and finely chopped or shredded
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 c. cooked brown rice
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 c sour cream
1/2 to 1 c shredded cheddar cheese (I like to go heavy on the cheese)
1/2 c Parmesan cheese + 2 to 3 Tbsp. for sprinkling
Salt, as desired

How to:

Mix rice & egg in a large bowl. Add zucchini & onion. Mix well. Add sour cream & cheeses & salt, if desired. Mix well. Spread into an 8"x8" pan or 2 quart casserole dish. Sprinkle top with additional Parmesan cheese. Bake uncovered at 350°F for about 1 hour or until top is golden brown and it is set in the middle.

*Notes: If desired, you can break down the zucchini ahead of time by cooking it and the onion with a cup of chicken stock in a pot on a medium flame for about 20 to 30 minutes. This will soften the zucchini & onion a lot making it easier to pass the picky eater test. If you do this, double the amount of zucchini and onion, chop it more coarsely and drain very well before adding to the rest of the ingredients.

Before changing to a gluten free diet, I would add 1/2 c. of Italian flavored bread crumbs to help thicken it up a little but I don't really find it necessary as the eggs hold it together nicely.

This goes great with baked fishes, especially salmon. I usually round out the meal with steamed green beans (smothered in butter!).

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Keeping Cool and Odds & Ends

We don't have air conditioning. It's been over 90°F for the past several days with wicked high humidity. That means there is just one sure way to cool off.

Yep, the hose! Laural & Micah have been having a ball playing in the sprinkler.

I think I might join them tomorrow since it's supposed to be another 90's kind of day.

We've had a lot going on here lately. We finally found a source for raw milk and got 3 gallons on Saturday. Besides drinking the yummy goodness, yesterday, I used some of the cream I skimmed off it to make home made butter. It's different but super yummy. I only used a pint of cream so I didn't get a whole lot of butter but it should be enough for about a week.

We've also begun in the process of eliminating certain things from our diet. The two biggies are gluten & soy. So far it isn't too bad but we are totally bread people so the gluten free bread is going to take some getting used to. So far, I've made a loaf of bread which turned out okay but not great and pancakes. The pancakes were really, really awesome! After the kids and I had eaten our fill, I cooked the rest of the batch to put in the fridge for later. They lost a lot in the texture and flavor after cooling & reheating but butter and syrup kind of covered that over. I think I'll cut the recipe in half next time or maybe I will just keep the batter uncooked in the fridge and see how that works when they are cooked up later.

Finally, my garden has been starting produce a few more yummy goodies for us. My cucumbers, zucchini & broccoli are still pretty questionable, probably thanks to the cat that keeps using it for it's litter box, but the other garden bed is coming along pretty nicely.
Today, I picked this nice handful of purple beans and sugar snap peas. We had more snap peas than that but a bunch got eaten already. Laural and I love them! 

We had an uninvited visitor come in with the beans though...
One of the bean leaf beetles that have been chewing on my plants since day one. They nearly killed my green beans but they managed to survive and are still giving me a a few beans. This little guy got to live just long enough to have his picture snapped. I think a little Neem oil is going to find it's way to the garden tomorrow.

This is a little bit of how our week has gone so far. I've got big plans for tomorrow too! Homemade yogurt from raw milk and another try at gluten free bread. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

So what do I do with...

...something that has been recalled by the company that made it AND has recently been deemed so bad that it the government actually made it illegal to sell one of these. I am, of course, talking about my children's crib. The very crib that I nestled both of my children into every night for years is now pretty much an expensive dust collector because it has a drop side on it. I had hoped to be able to sell the crib at some point so I paid a visit to the company's website, looking for information on the conversion kits that I heard were available. It was then that I found out that our particular crib has been recalled due to the chance of the slats on the side rails breaking too easily. So now, I have an expensive piece of garbage.

Since switching my son over to a "big boy bed," the dismantled crib has been residing in my upstairs hallway. I was thinking of putting it a yard sale until I learned of the recall. For the past couple months, I've been looking at it, with some sadness actually, trying to decide what I should do with it - put it out with the trash? Burn it? Save it and take my chances with a recalled crib if we should ever have another child? Well, I decided that I didn't want to take any chances. Both my kids were pretty mellow and not too rough on the crib, but even so, I did notice a crack along the length of one of the slats. If we did have a kid who happened to be a bruiser, it could be disastrous. I also haven't been able to simply discard it either. There is an emotional attachment but also, it seems like such a waste to just throw it away or burn it. So, I've left it in the hallway, taking up precious space, trying to bring myself to do something with it. 

Today, I finally did something with it - well part of it. 

I removed two slats on one end of each side rail and then stuck those ends in the ground, leaning them against each other. I tied them together at the top. And there you have it - recycling; reusing; repurposing part of our recalled and illegal crib as a trellis for my very vigorously growing snap peas. I am going to have to train them through some of the slats but I think it will work out quite nicely. I have a neat idea for using the ends of the crib too but that will have to wait for another post!

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Junkie handmade projects

Sunday, July 10, 2011

My Organic Garden

I have been wanting to have a garden for ages now. For some reason or another, I just haven't been able to get a garden started over the past several years - until this year! I am quite pleased to have been able to build two 4'x8' raised beds and have repurposed the existing 4'x12' flower bed. I decided that I wanted to have an organic garden this year, so all the seeds are organic and I am using organic fertilizer and organic pest control measures as needed. While most of my plants are doing quite well, I am having a few issues with the plants in one of the garden beds.

Bed 1 - 4'x12'  Planted on June 29
I planted this one a little later than I had planned. June became quite a busy month for us, so the garden was put on the back burner for a bit. In this bed I have green head lettuce (something similar to bibb lettuce but I can't recall the variety and I'm too lazy to go downstairs to find the packet right now), purple potatoes, white potatoes, red head lettuce (see parentheses above for green lettuce) and some watermelon plants down n the very end.

These are the purple potatoes - looking good!

White potatoes.

Bed #2 - 4'x8' Planted the week of May 23rd
It has sugar snap peas, bell peppers in a variety of colors, purple beans and green beans. My poor green beans took some serious damage early on from bean leaf beetles. I haven't been sure if they were going to survive but they are really starting to get a lot of new leaf growth and some new flowers. I initially got a tiny harvest of about 20 beans from them so it looks like they aren't giving in to the beetles! The purple beans have tons of flowers on them so I can't wait to get some yummy beans from them. The snap peas have a few beans and a lot more flowers coming out now. I think I need to rethink my support for the pea plants though. I also noticed a few flower buds starting on one of my pepper plants! Laural is most excited about this because peppers are her favorite veggie. The neat thing about these peppers is that the seeds all came mixed together so the color of peppers on each of the plants will be a surprise.

Our budding pepper plant and Laural's head excitedly checking out her future peppers.

Bed #3 - 4'x8'  Planted June 9th
This is my sad and pathetic looking garden bed. I'm honestly not sure what is going on with it. It has cucumbers, a couple leftover pepper plants, broccoli, and zucchini. The cucumbers are the worst looking of the bunch. They are barely growing and the stems look like something has stripped it. The plants have flowers on them but they seem to die and fall off before anything happens. I've been doing some reading but I can't figure out what to do to make them better. I guess it's watch and see for now. The pepper plants are healthy looking but staying small. The broccoli seem to be growing well for now. I need to thin them out a little now but I am so paranoid that I will manage to leave behind the worst plants and end up with no broccoli. The zucchini seem to change on a daily basis. One day they are looking great and I am feeling optimistic about them. The next day they look pathetic. For some reason, I thought the zucchini and cucumbers were going to be the no-brainer plants in my garden but they are giving me the hardest time.

My pathetic cucumbers.

 An up close pic of the cucumber stems. They are splitting open length-wise and the leaves are yellowing and dying. I can't seem to find any information on what could be causing this. Anyone have any idea? I welcome any thoughts, ideas & suggestions. I expect them to all be pretty much dead within a few days. I am expecting to have to pull them all out. I don't know if I have enough time to plant new seeds and still get a crop by the end of the season.

The zucchini which is looking half decent today. It has some flower buds but I so far, all my zucchini flowers seem to come up missing shortly after opening so I really don't have high hopes for them right now.

Bed #4 - 4'x8'  Never planted and currently a weedy, brambly mess.
A large blackberry bush is at the center of this garden bed. There is also a small quaking aspen (I think) that shot up quickly over the past couple years in this bed. This is the bed that the Kids' Enchanted Garden is against. I had planned to clear everything out of this bed except the tree and plant carrots and beets in it but when I saw how many potential berries we were going to have, I let it be. I plant to prune back the bush this fall and relocate it so we can use the bed for veggies. An interesting fact is that this bush magically found it's way to this garden bed. When we moved here, the bed had several different flowers & decorative plants in it. We pretty much neglected the flower bed, letting them become a haven for weeds and grasses. The tree and blackberry bush were not there when we moved in. We are guessing that a bird may have deposited the blackberry seed in the bed. Possibly the same scenario with the tree as well since we don't appear to have any other aspen trees nearby. Not sure if we are going to let the tree continue or not.


Laural holding our daily berry harvest. The kids tend to pick them just a hair early sometimes.

Bed #5 Not really a garden bed, it's a planter. Planted week of May 23.

This is an upside down, elevated tomato planter that we bought a couple years ago. We bought organic tomato plants but they didn't do very well. They grew nice and long but we only ever got one flower and it died without producing fruit. This year, I gave up on the upside down planting and used the top to plant some garlic chives and parsley. I already used some of the garlic chives, from thinning them, on a baked potato last week. Super yummy!

I also have a few plants in pots on my porch steps and a couple things that I am going to try to squeeze into the planting season and hope it's not too late. I'll be getting pics of them in the next few days.

Overall, I am quite happy and excited about my garden. I hope that the sad looking plants will perk up soon and produce for me but even if they don't, I am happy that I have been able to get so much accomplished with it this year. Even if we get just a handful of fruit & veggies, it will be a success to be partially self-reliant and we will save a little by not having to spend money for high priced organic produce from the grocery store. Not only that, but I will know exactly how the food was grown and what went into and onto it!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Visit to Living Treasures Animal Park

We decided to go see some animals today at Living Treasures down near Portersville. We had a fabulous time seeing & feeding the animals.


Black Swan

Feeding the various deer.


My favorite: Ring Tailed Lemurs


Rattle Snakes

African Spurred Tortoise


Alligator Hatchling

Wallaby with baby on board

Emu - Doesn't this guy look like the evil villain of the animal world?


Micah putting feed in the tube for the bears.

Bear receiving feed.

Barbary Lion (and the reflection of my feet)

Baby Ring Tailed Lemur

Pygmy Marmosets

Prairie Dogs





Very sweet baby Camel

Laural & Micah feeding the Baby Brahma


Laural feeding the goats.


Llama with a cheesy grin.

After visiting with the animals, we were starving so we headed toward Grove City and went to Elephant & Castle for an early dinner. Their food is very good but portions are enormous - I have enough leftover for lunch tomorrow!

 Laural at Elephant & Castle with her new pet zebra, "Stripey" from Living treasures.

Micah at Elephant & Castle singing his version of "Where's Micah?" (Five Iron Frenzy song)


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