Monday, April 22, 2013

Disaster Area: My Desk

Hello, Friends! It's a chilly Monday here, on our hill and I have Wheels home with a cough and upset tummy.  My schedule is a bit off for today, but in a good way. I usually do my weekly shopping on Mondays, and then head into town for Women's Bible Study, but I did the shopping yesterday afternoon, so now I'm a free agent. (Well, sort of!) I've been busy getting some work done on the computer, printing out forms for Teddy Bear's school year next year and just generally trying to get myself a bit more organized.

Speaking of which, I had promised to share pictures of my before and after disaster area, a.k.a. my desk. It's not 100% where I would like it to be, but is a vast improvement, which I think you will agree to once you've seen the pictures. I weeded out 3 paper shopping bags worth of papers, not to mention some garbage and some organization bins, etc. that just weren't working for me.I was able to pass on the bins to a friend, who assured me that it was a blessing. I would hate to burden another Mama with stuff she doesn't really need! And so, with out further ado, I present Area 96, in photos!

I'm ashamed to admit that this is actually after an initial clean up. You couldn't even see the computer before. I hadn't used my desk since last April, before all of my surgeries.

Stacks and stacks! Very messy and disorganized. The desk had become a drop zone for papers and school supplies.

My desk was so bad, that I have our bill paying binder and other important papers around the corner, taking up the hutch, which has also become an Area 96. With my desk being cleared and getting better organized, I will be working on getting all the files, paper work and binders off of the hutch and in a proper place on my desk. Now, as you look at the After pictures, keep in mind I'm not completely finished with this project.

TAAADAAAA! Much better, no? I flipped some things around, got rid of TONS of papers, passed on what didn't work for me and made a few small purchases to achieve how I wanted my desk to look. I would really like a shelved top built for my desk so that things would look and fir better, but it's just not in my dear Hubby's time budget right now.

I took down the bulletin board that had been up on the wall. I bought some frames at the Dollar Tree and printed out some cute sayings. 

I bought the photo boxes at Michael's on sale, they were only $1.40 each! I was able to get 3 drawers cleaned out to use for things I need to get to more often. The wicker paper sorter was left over from the previous tenant of the building our church is currently leasing. We needed to get rid of some of the things left behind, so I snagged this baby. 

As I get more accomplished, I plan on sharing more. If you would like to see where I got the inspiration for my desk, you can follow me on Pinterest, where I have a board called "Home Office Organization & Printables". I'm working on setting up binders for home management, finances, homeschooling, emergency preparedness and homesteading. There are lots of pins for these on my board, and I'll share my binders once I'm done.

Well, I hope you all have a great day today!

Many Blessings,
The Chicken Chick

linked up to 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Busy Mom's Lasagna

Hello, Friends! I just had to share this idea/recipe with you all, it is so amazing. Back a couple of weeks ago when our friend Chris came over to fix the computer, his sweet wife Mandy came with him. While Chris was working on the computer, we swapped recipes and talked about kids, cooking, school and husbands. Somehow we got on the topic of lasagna. My dear hubby and Teddy Bear really like lasagna, but I never really make it because I don't care for the ricotta cheese layer and I don't really want to fuss with the noodles. If we want pasta I just make spaghetti or baked ziti. Mandy said she didn't know why you couldn't just use cheese ravioli for the noodle and cheese layer. I agreed that that sounded like a good idea. And then I didn't think about it again, until this past Sunday when I saw the sales paper for one of our local grocery stores. They had cheese ravioli's on sale for buy one, get one free. And I remembered the lasagna conversation. So on Monday, which is my shopping day, I picked up some ravioli and also scored some sweet Italian sausage on sale.
I put down a little bit of sauce and then a layer of raviolis. Over this layer I added the Italian sausage  mixed with sauce and some sauteed onions.

This is the top of layer #1. After the sauce and meat mixture, I sprinkled some mozzarella on top. Repeat the process for layer #2, making the mozzarella thicker on top if you like. We like!

This isn't a very pretty picture, but this is all that was left after Teddy Bear, Princess, Daddy and I were done with it. It was so yummy! And it was definitely way easier than futzing with lasagna noodles and ricotta cheese. 
Now, if you wanted to streamline the process even more, you could keep precooked hamburger or Italian sausage in the freezer. If you have a day where you do some kitchen prep or cook ahead, you could cook the frozen ravioli's a couple of days ahead of time, too. You could even assemble the whole thing a day or two ahead of time so you could just pop it in the oven to bake while you get a salad or other vegetable together for dinner.

This is definitely a keeper of a recipe at our house! Thank you so much, Mandy, for the awesome idea!!! And I hope that you, Friends, find this as much of a blessing as I did.

Many Blessings,

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Mid-April Update

Just because I haven't been blogging much doesn't mean I don't have a lot to share! Things have been hopping around here in so many ways. There's garden news to report, chicken news, emergency preparedness news, homemaking news and more! Unfortunately I don't have any pictures to share, but I will when I go into more detail later on in the month.

In the garden, I'm so excited to see the chives coming back, and I believe the catnip is starting again, too. Unfortunately that's it. I've been meaning to get peas and chard started in our raised beds, but my poor, dear hubby hurt his back nearly 3 weeks ago, so I had picked up some of his "chores". This means that my back is sore! So things have not been planted out there yet. In the green house, the Roma tomatoes are doing well, but I am so glad that I started so many, because I only have a fraction of what I started. I'm thinking I may still have to but a few transplants, but at least I have some of our own. The green peppers are ready to get put into newspaper pots, so that needs to be done soon. And we have 2 marigolds, an onion and some lettuce in there thanks to Princess, who is a member of on of our local gardening store's "Kid's Club". She was quite excited about the marigolds because she knows Mama uses them in the beds to keep pests away.

We may not be getting rid of as many of our hens as I had initially thought. It seems we have a hen that is eating eggs, so that is, in part, why we aren't getting as many as we should. I have no idea how to catch the offender without a video camera. But no one will be relocated until we can discover who it is and how many eggs she is dispatching. We've decided to nix the raising of our own meat birds, at least for now. It  is just is too much for this year, but we're looking at our options for obtaining healthy, pasture raised meat for our family.

I've been pretty bad in the emergency preparedness sector, though today I am taking a CPR/First Aid class through our church. I'm excited about this and perhaps it will get me back on track.

Our dear friend, Chris, was able to fix and update our old desk top computer. It is a huge blessing to have this computer, as next year I will be homeschooling Teddy Bear. I was thinking that we might need to purchase another laptop, but it's no longer necessary with the desktop up and running. I have already installed some of the educational games on it and the kids have been having a blast playing "Oregon Trail" and "Where In the World Is Carmen San Diego?". Having the desktop going has also gotten me inspired to get my home office area and desk cleaned up and organized. I have gotten quite a bit done and have been able to bless some other friends of ours with some organizing things because she will be homeschooling all of her children next school year. When I am done getting my desk organized, I will be sharing it in a post with pictures and links that I used for advice and inspiration.

The 2013 sugaring season is pretty much at a close for us. We just have to finish off about 3 gallons that is nearly syrup and we will be done with boiling. I believe my hubby has pulled all the taps and has to get the buckets cleaned and put away for the year. We have had a much better yield this year, so I've been able to bake with it this year!!!

That is all for now, Friends. Hope you have a lovely Saturday.

Many Blessings,

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Pinterest Inspiration Tuesday: In the Bathroom

O.k., confession time. If I spent nearly as much time actually making the things I pin on Pinterest, I'd be the envy of every crafter, baker, gardener, chicken keeper, mom, wife, homemaker, etc. But I spend too much time "pinning", so I'm the envy of exactly..... no one!

I have actually put some of my pins to good use, so I thought that I would share some of them on a regular basis. I have many boards dedicated to crafts (a mish-mash of sewing crocheting and just general crafts), gardening, chickens, home office organization/printables, recipes, holiday things, kid things, homeschooling, and some that are just funny and inspirational.

Today I thought I would share some things I've done to spruce up our bathroom. I've had the same framed prints in there for a loooong time, and I saw a cute idea for keeping the kids' toothbrushes neat & tidy.

from On the Banks of Squaw Creek
I thought this was just so cute, and a nice reminder for the kiddos (and Mama & Daddy) that we aren't alone, even when we're washing our hands! Now, you can use the link above to go right to the post a download the PDF to print, or you can make your own. I went with the make it yourself option, it's just how I roll!

Now on to more practical matters. My kiddos toothbrush/toothpaste mess on the counter. It seems like every morning and evening I'm hearing "So-and-so used too much toothpaste, so there isn't any more!" or "Hey, that's where MY toothbrush goes!" I saw this lovely solution while perusing the Pinterest boards.
from Ugly Duckling Transformations

I loved how each kiddo has a holder for their own toothbrush and paste. I liked the idea of using mason jars, but I don't really like the look of the pipe fitting metal band thingy, plus I don't have the wall space to mount them to anyway. But I still made it work for my kiddos.

That is SO much better then before! Each child has their own toothpaste, so no more squabbles over who is using too much or what flavor to have. And I can just wash the mason jars out if (when) they get yucky. And they are placed in order of oldest to youngest, so no arguments over which spot is "theirs"!

If you are on Pinterest, you can follow me. Just search for Kelly Boynton and look for the picture of the sap bucket, that's me!

I gotta go now and check on my maple almond granola in the oven. Have a wonderful day, Friends!

Many Blessings,

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

March Update

Hello, Friends! Again, it's been too long between posts. But I have plenty to tell you! Pictured above is our sugaring arch, A.K.A. a 50 gallon steel drum with both ends cut out and a large notch cut out for placing the firewood. To date we have made about 16 quarts of yummy, lip smacking maple syrup! Things have gotten cold again, so the sap hasn't run since last week. I'm praying that we have a good run again before the season is over.

This year we have been blessed to share our sugaring operation with two families that are friends of ours. My  very dear friend, and fellow Vermonter, had no idea that maple sap was like water. Our other friends got to see the sap become syrup and and watch (and help!) us can it. It was truly a blessing to share this with others.

A couple of weeks ago my darling hubby bought me one of those green house kits that you can buy at the store. Ours isn't huge, but it is a "walk-in" size. It is currently residing in our dining room, all put together in front or our south facing picture window and holding my Roma tomato seedlings. I went into the green house to check on the seedlings' moisture and couldn't believe how incredibly warm it was in there! It's like I have an indoor green house and sauna! I still have many more seeds to start, like green peppers and herbs. Once it is warm enough outside, we'll be moving the green house outside.

I'm also looking to use one of our 4x4 raised beds as a cold frame to start some Swiss chard in as soon as I can get the soil in it warmed up. My daughter belongs to the school's gardening club and last September she brought home some rainbow chard for us to try. We loved it! So we bought some rainbow chard seeds from  a High Mowing Seed Company's fundraiser that her school was doing. I bought another variety of Swiss chard as well, so I'm hoping that it does well.

I've also made up my mind that this year I am going to stick to my guns and not buy any annual flowers to put in our planters. The only ones I will buy are marigolds to plant in the veggies beds for pest control. Instead of pansies and petunias, I'll plant basil varieties and other annual herbs in their place. I've not had any luck trying to start flowers from seed, but I do well with herbs. This seems like the most economical choice, and besides, herbs are beautiful, too!

Well, the kittens have been spayed and neutered, and are back to their sibling ways. We were a bit nervous that their bond had been severed, as every time Oreo looked at Miller she hissed and growled like a wild cat. It wasn't the happy reunion we were all hoping it would be. But after their operations and a few days of being quarantined, they are back to normal. Taking the occasional nap together, grooming each other and running at break neck speeds through the house after one another!

It's a snow day here, and Spring seems so very far away, yet I know it will be here soon! Maybe I'll go step inside my greenhouse/sauna for a quick pick me up before I get back to work. Have a wonderful day!

Many Blessings,

This post is linked to Joybilee Farm's Homestead Abundance Link Up!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Friday Hello

Hello Friends! Happy Friday to you all. It is snowing like the dickens here, and although it really isn't what I want to see, I know that Spring is right around the corner! We canned 3 quarts of maple syrup on Sunday, just the beginning of what will hopefully be a good syrup year.

If you're dealing with snow where you are, stay safe and warm!

Many Blessings,

Saturday, February 23, 2013

February Updates

Hello, Friends! Since it's been a while since I've posted, I thought I'd include some kitteny cuteness! (Plus I don't really have any pictures to go with my updates!) Here is Oreo and Miller, napping together. Oreo is on vacation up at my mothers, visiting her kitty cousins. Unfortunately her vacation was a necessity, as both her and her brother have reached maturity in a certain area of their lives (nudge, nudge, wink, wink!) and their appointments for "fixing" are not until next week. The kiddos and I really miss her, but Miller seems rather lost without her. He has taken to being my shadow, especially around bedtime. He cuddles with me and follows me around until I'm settled in bed for the night.

Last Sunday our friends from church came over so that the man of the family, Chris, could fix my Internet. Once again he proved to be an absolute wizard!!!! He has also offered to fix up my ancient desktop computer, which has sat over in our mudroom/office for about a year, untouched. I would really like to be able to use the old computer, especially since in all likely hood, I will be homeschooling Teddy Bear next year. Having 2 computers would be wonderful.

There isn't much to really report on the homesteading front, at least not anything happening now. We getting ready to gear up for sugaring season, which we are ramping up this year. We asked some friends that live up the road from us if we could tap their trees, and they very graciously agreed. The trees are easy to get to and there are lots of them! The kiddos and I will be collecting the sap from these trees so that Daddy will only have to worry about the trees down on the road. He doesn't want us collecting those because traffic is heavy down there. 

I've been really lax on planning the garden this year, except for knowing that it's going to be bigger this year! Last fall we expanded the garden plot, so that will need some attention before it's time to plant. I'm thinking of planting our corn their. Tomatoes will be going in containers on the deck this year. I'm hoping this will discourage the horn worms and I know it will keep my chickens away.

I'm planning on starting my herbs, tomatoes and green peppers sometime during this week. I have a plan for starting the tomatoes and green peppers, so that I'll have a better yield from the green peppers and won't have to buy seedlings for the tomatoes. 

My goals for the garden are to grow as many of our own veggies and herbs as I can. Without having a planned surgery this summer, I will be taking over the garden again. I'm a bit nervous, but more excited to get going. 

Miller is applying for some undercover spy work in the Middle East. He's got the head wrap down, but I'm thinking  that he might want to forgo the red, white & blue color scheme. I'm thinking earth tones might be more appropriate.

It's taken me some time, but I've reached the stage where I'm seriously considering raising our own meat birds this year. We will have to have help when it comes time to butcher, but I'm pretty sure we can do it. I'm also realizing that it may be time to cull our flock. We have some ladies that just aren't pulling their weight. We can't afford to feed hens that aren't laying. This means having to say goodbye to some sweet feathered friends, but it needs to be done. I have 2 girls that I know for sure may need to go, as they are the only 2 "Big Girls" that lay blue eggs. We've only gotten 2 eggs from these ladies since early in the fall. I'm giving them until late March or early April to pick it up.

Well, it's time to get going. I hope you all have a great day!

Many Blessings,