Monthly Archives: October 2013

Boo from Us to You!

Happy Halloween from Farmhouse38We are elbow deep in preparations for tonight’s Halloween display (a round-up of our shenanigans will be posted soon!).  We usually go a little crazy with our decorations, but this year we are taking it up a notch and adding some ‘special effects’.  Needless to say, this is requiring far more work than is humanly sane.  But we love us some Halloween.  To get everyone in the proper mood, here are some images from last year’s festivities:

Halloween 2012 at Farmhouse38

The house, all lit up.

Halloween 2012 at Farmhouse38

The front door; so creepily welcoming!

Sleepy Hallow

Sleepy Hallow-esque lantern light.

Halloween 2012 at Farmhouse38

Pumpkins and fairy lights: magic.

Halloween 2012 at Farmhouse38

Trick-or-Treat time! The fog and bubble-fog machines in full swing.

Happy Halloween, Everyone!!! 😀

All-Natural Goo-Remover: I’m a Fan

All Natural Goo Remover from Farmhouse38I don’t know why it is, but it seems like I am having to remove an awful lot of sticky labels around here. Perhaps it is my obsession with recycling old jars (and thus, having to constantly remove their labels).  But anyway…I’ve been using a lot of Goo Gone.  It works.  It really works…but…oh wow, do I loathe that smell (and all the chemicals that go into making that smell).  No matter how many times you soap up and wash it off, it just really clings to everything…I mean, who doesn’t love smelling like an awkward blend of kerosene and orange peel?  For a week.

So when the Pinterest led me to 7th House on the Left’s Non-Toxic Goo-Remover , I heard angels singing.  Not only was this possibly my pass to never having to use the toxic orange slime again, this version was made with coconut oil.  So it smells like coconuts.  Which I am OB. SESSED. WITH.

It’s ridiculously simple to make: equal parts organic virgin coconut oil (I tend to favor the Trader Joe’s variety) and baking soda.  Sign me up.  You simply microwave the coconut oil (only a few seconds, depending on how much you use) until it liquifies, and then mix it with the baking soda.  For this little recycled jam jar I used a half cup of each.  Once it was all mixed and poured into the jar, I stuck mine in the fridge to solidify it, and shook it every so often as it cooled to a paste.  You don’t actually have to put it in the fridge at all, I just did this to hurry it up.  Because coconut oil has antibacterial properties, I just keep the jar under my sink with all my other cleaning supplies.

To use, you just glob the paste on any goo you want to remove, let it soak in, and then scrape to remove.  Most times, when I am removing old jar labels, I will smear this stuff on, then put the whole jar in the dishwasher (because I’m lazy).  The label comes off in the wash, and the jar gets cleaned: two birds, one stone.  Or two stones, one bird, as I like to say.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m still keeping the orange stuff.  It has its place–and not for nothing, we have a long, long history together.  But I’m trying to move away from being so chemical co-dependent in my life…this is definitely one of those, ‘It’s not you, it’s me’ situations.  I’m sure that at some point I will stumble across something that may defy the powers of the coconut miracle paste, but as of yet, I haven’t found it.

Thanks, 7th House on the Left!!

Fresh Eggs Daily: The Book…and Giveaway

Fresh Eggs Daily: Keeping Happy, Healthy Chickens...NaturallyI have long been a fan of Lisa Steele over at Fresh Eggs Daily; a fan of her fun and informative blog, as well as her entire approach to natural chicken keeping.  So I am beyond excited to not only review her new book, but to be able to offer up a signed copy as a giveaway to one lucky winner!

Let me start by saying, I really wish this book had been available when I was first thinking about jumping into chicken-keeping (fortunately, I had Lisa’s blog to turn to!).  Lisa lays out the basics in such a straightforward way; coop size, bedding options, nesting box instructions–the whole nine yards–and then she peppers that nine yards with helpful suggestions about how to integrate herbs into your chickens’ lives.  For instance, I absolutely love and swear by her Lavender Mint Coop Refresh Spray (which can be made with either vinegar or vodka as the base…I’m sure you can guess which base I use).  But beyond this awesome cleaning spray/cocktail, Lisa shares an incredible amount of knowledge on herbs, in general, and the benefits each kind might deliver to your flock.  I am a big fan of using a blend of them not only in the nesting boxes, but all around the coop, and this book offered up an education on just what those herbs really do for my birds (and, frankly, me!).

I also love me a good chicken recipe (not the kind that uses the bird, people–the kind that involves cooking for your spoiled chickens), and Lisa’s got a bunch.  My absolute favorite is her Molt Muffins, and I intend to make them ASAP.  We are still molting.  I’m not sure how there are still any feathers left to lose.

There is just a wealth of chicken information packed into this adorable book, and I am definitely putting it on my go-to read list for anyone thinking of starting a flock.  And I must say, it looks darn cute tucked into my chicken book library.

NOW… for the giveaway!  I am so honored to be part of Lisa’s virtual book tour–every day for the next two weeks, you can enter to win a signed copy at each of the participating blogs (and the giveaways already started yesterday!!).

Visit all the other stops along the Fresh Eggs Daily Blog Tour to read some more great reviews and to enter to win a copy!

Week One

October 14th

Louise’s Country Closet & Natural Chicken Keeping

October 15th

Farmhouse38

October 16th

The Nerdy Farmwife & Lessons Learned from the Flock

October 17th

Colored Egg Homestead & Our Neck Of the Woods

October 18th

Let This Mind Be in You & Sunny Simple Life

Week Two

October 21st

October 22nd
October 23rd
October 24th
October 25th
But as for today, enter by following the link below–the contest is live and will run until midnight this coming Friday.  You’ll be asked to leave a comment on this blogpost to enter (as well as have the opportunity to get extra entries by following on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc).  Let the games begin!!!
Enter here:

Fresh Eggs Daily Giveaway

And don’t forget that Fresh Eggs Daily: Raising happy, healthy chickens…naturally is available for purchase through Amazon and other major retailers.

Apple Pie Crème Brûlée

Apple Pie Crème Brûlée from Farmhouse38Is it obvious that I have a thing for crème brûlée?  (Please refer to this and this for clarification.) I just can’t quit it.  The chickens are enablers; their diligent egg-laying forces my hand.

This recipe is a yummy seasonal departure with its shortbread crust and layer of apple butter added to a classic vanilla bean custard.

You will need:

-2-1/2 cups heavy cream

– 1 whole vanilla bean

-7 large egg yolks

-1/2 cup granulated sugar

-6 to 12 shortbread cookies, depending on how big they are and how much cookie crust you want

-6 to 12 tablespoons of your favorite apple butter

-approx. 6 extra tablespoons of sugar to brûlée the tops

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.  Line a baking dish with a dish towel (this keeps the ramekins from sliding around once you fill the baking dish with water).  Set this aside.

Split the vanilla bean and place it in a medium saucepan, along with the cream, and put this on your stovetop over medium heat.  Warm the cream mixture slowly, until bubbles form around the edge of the pot.  Remove it from the heat, and let it sit while you go about your other business.

In a ziplock baggy, crush your shortbread cookies, and then line the bottoms of each ramekin with just enough crumbs to be a solid layer.  Next, spoon about a tablespoon or so of apple butter over the top of the crumbs–again, just enough to make a solid layer.  Place your ramekins in your prepared baking dish so that their sides don’t touch each other.  Personal space; it’s important.

In a stand mixer, whisk together the sugar and egg yolks until the mixture begins to thicken and turn slightly lighter in color.

Strain the cream mixture and then very, very, very slowly, add it in tiny bits to the sugar/egg mixture.  If you do this too fast, your eggs will scramble.  Scrambled eggs bad.  This process usually takes me a few minutes.  When everything is blended, divide the mixture evenly amongst your six prepared ramekins.  Carefully fill the baking dish with scalding hot water (either from the tap or from an already-boiled pot of water) so that the water line comes about halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Put your baking dish on the middle rack of your oven and bake for 35-50 minutes or until the custard is set around the edges and wiggles only a tad in the very center.  Remove your baking dish from the oven, remove the ramekins from the the water bath, and let them cool a bit on the counter.  Refrigerate them for a few hours or up to three days.

When you are ready to serve, sprinkle about a tablespoon of sugar across the top of the custard so that there is a decent layer across the whole thing.  Fire up your brûlée torch, and holding your ramekin at a 45 degree angle, ease the flame across the sugar.  Once it starts to melt, start rotating your custard a bit so that the melted sugar rolls around and spreads nicely across the top.  Try not to catch anything other than the sugar on fire.  Especially your kitchen.  Don’t do that.

Let the sugar cool and serve immediately!

Apple Pie Crème Brûlée from Farmhouse38

Come to Mama.

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