Saturday, January 30, 2016

Frugal Couch Project

Part of the fun of planning a little cabin on our land is planning how to furnish and decorate it. I'm trying to keep the furniture as minimal and frugal as possible. 

The other day, I found a couch at one of the thrift stores. 



Matt very nearly wouldn't let me buy it. He's not a fan of the 1970s decor. 

But the couch was comfy and only $70. 

I promised him I'd re-cover the cushions and that was enough to get him to compromise. 

Once I got looking at fabric, though, I realized it would be over $100 to cover all the cushions in upholstery fabric. 

We brainstormed, and purchased two cheap velvet and fleece blankets from Wal-Mart for $30 total. 



This afternoon, I measured and sewed until each cushion had a fitted cover. It took about two hours. 



The couch isn't reassembled yet, but I can already tell he's going to like it. No more 1970s couch. 

The Land

This month, we found and purchased a small piece of unimproved forested land about 30 minutes from our house. We plan to put a tiny house/cabin on it and enjoy some family time or respite time there. 

Right now, covered with snow, it doesn't look like much, but just wait till spring comes!


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Taquito

In the last post, I wrote that we had baby bunnies. Well, now we have baby bunny. Just one. 



Because we needed to muck out the bunny cage, we had to move the nest. And we didn't know which doe was mama. One of the ones we chose as a likely candidate ended up scattering the babies out of the nest. Two died over that first night, but one was still alive in the morning. Barely. 



I warmed him in my hands, and fed him some half n half using a twist of paper towel to suck on. 


My cousin, who has a small, organic farm, suggested a Pritchard nipple. We bought one, along with some Kitten Milk Replacer, suggested by Uncle Google. 



Every morning, when I check on him, and find him still alive, I'm amazed. Everyone I've talked to says that bunnies are really, really hard to bottle raise. 



He sleeps in a small box with a scrap of fleece to burrow into, and a heating pad on low. He's in a bird cage so the other pets can't molest him; at least that's the theory. 



Today was day 4. Taking it one day at a time. I call him Taco, because wrapped in a blanket in my hand, he looks like a little soft taco. But Matt says Taquito fits better at this point. 



And isn't that tiny ear just adorable?

Update: Little Taco only lived seven days. I miss him terribly. 


Saturday, January 9, 2016

Farm News

Our little farm in the city is flourishing!



Almost daily, we get chicken eggs and duck eggs. Puddles the Duck laid her first egg the other day, and it was a big, double yolk egg!



Then, when we went out this morning to muck out the bunny cage, we found a little nest of fur. 



Tucked inside were three tiny newborn baby bunnies!



We moved them into a safer, more sheltered box. Everyone is excited for babies!!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Teaching Algebra to a Third Grader


A gifted third grader doing algebra isn't the same as a ninth grader doing algebra. His attention span isn't as long. His writing skills are not as well developed. 

Some things I do to make it work:

Use manipulatives wherever possible



Go slowly. 




Do only as many problems as he can do without getting overwhelmed. 

If I'm willing to break a long lesson into several days' worth of work, and skip the review, he stays excited and interested. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

What visitors do


When people visit, they often are delighted to meet a tame duck. She is such a novelty that people want to interact with her. She tolerates it, but you can see by her spread tail that she's nervous. Still, it's a fun experience for visitors. And occasionally, Puddles really warms up to someone. 




Ouch


Puddles has an owie on her beak. It bled a surprising amount for being a beak. Luckily, it's healing well. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Attic Land


On the way up the stairs, there is a door. A cupboard-sized door with a little old-fashioned latch on it. 



Inside, there is an attic. It has a sloping roof and plywood floor, and until now we'd used it for storing off-season clothes and Christmas decorations. 



Today, Little Mister and Hubby cleaned and organized it, leaving an eight foot space clear near the door. 



We bought a rug, plugged in a heater, put up twinkle lights, and spread around pillows and blankets. 

It's just right for kids to tuck away and read on a winter afternoon, or play cards or games. It's their own little place. 

Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas!



We left our white Christmas up on the hill to spend the day with my parents, sister and brother-in-law down in the Valley. 



We had a crazy huge pile of presents!!



My mom was thrilled to have the grandkids there to spoil. Without planning it, she, Jen and I all wore pajama pants. 



Jenny found a comfy place to sit... On her niece!



Ben enjoyed all the crazy kids. 



Matt, imitating Abi's Care Bear that dances. I never lack for entertainment!



Papa helped Chewy open his dog treats. 



And then Bean photobombed. 



We worked our way through the pile. 







For lunch, I made pan-seared steaks, green bean casserole and potato rolls. Yum!!



Then it was time to snuggle down and play with the new toys, or take a nap!



Merry Christmas!

Easy Chicken Pot Pie


Ingredients:

2 1/2 c. flour
1 c. shortening
1 1/2 tbsp. garlic salt
cold water
3 frozen chicken breasts
2 c. frozen crinkle cut carrots
1 c. Frozen broccoli florets
1 c. Frozen cauliflower florets
2 packets chicken gravy mix

Crust:

Combine flour and garlic salt. Cut in shortening until texture is fine. Drizzle cold water until dough just sticks together. Do not knead. Roll out 2 10" crusts. 

Filling:

Boil carrots separately for ten minutes. Microwave chicken breasts for 4-6 minutes until no longer pink (do not overcook, rotate pieces midway through). Cut into small pieces and leave in juices. Prepare 2 cups chicken gravy and boil to thicken. Once thick, add chicken pieces and juices and boil another minute. Gently microwave broccoli and cauliflower until thawed but still crisp. 

Line a 10" pie pan with lower crust. Layer carrots, broccoli and cauliflower in the bottom. Sprinkle with garlic salt. Pour chicken and gravy over the veggies. Lay on the top crust and crimp the edges to seal. 

Bake at 450° for 30 minutes, with a foil-lined cookie sheet on the rack below to catch any overflow drips. 

Let stand for 5 minutes and serve. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Community


At the city park next to our house, there is a wonderful little sledding hill that attracts kids from all over the neighborhood. I love that there is still some unscheduled, non-adult-organized play, and the snow was beautiful! My kids will have lasting memories of sledding here. 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Waldschattenspiel

We found a tutorial to make the German board game Waldschattenspiel here: Instructables Link

As a fun Saturday project, we made the pieces out of a cardboard box and foam sheets. The little gnomes we already had in a little quirky set of nine pins that I inherited from my grandma. 





Once we had all the parts and pieces, we just needed to wait for the early winter darkness to fall. 

The little gnomes hide in the shadows of the trees as the candle moves around the board on the stepping stones. 



If a gnome gets hit by the light, it's frozen and can't move until another gnome rescues it. 



Then, they all hide again!

We all loved the game, so different from most board games we've played. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Sparkly Braids


I've been braiding for three days. Over 15 hours. 





Part of the reason it took so long is that I did not properly brush her hair out last time I braided it, and it formed locs inside the last braids. 

I had to carefully detangle and brush each braid. 



So we binge-watched Netflix. And braided and braided and braided. 

Little brother and the duck and the dog kept us company. 



But at long last we're done! 109 sparkly beautiful long braids for my princess. :)



She feels like a movie star.