Thursday, March 31, 2011

Save the bees! Build a bee box!

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The Doctor and I learned how important bees are in the garden last year, so this year we are doing everything we can to help bring bees to us, along with helping them and the enviroment out. We have a pool in our backyard and we are always trying to safe stuck bees. This little guy didn't make it sadly.

We decided this year to build three different types of bee nesting boxes and find out which works best. This is the first one we made and it is the easiest to make. Find any piece of wood and drill lots of 1/2-3/4 inch holes about 3-4 inches deep, making sure not to go all the way through, and hang it. Pretty simple, easy and cheap. I don't know how well this one will work but I will post the other two we build once they are finished.

We also decided to plant as many flowers all over our yard and in the garden to attract bees. We are planning on planting over 14 different flowers this year. I picked out mostly perinnals so I won't have to plant them again next year. For more info about bees please check out this link on Sunset Magazine: give bees chance

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Our New Favorite bedtime story, an old classic lullaby.

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I have been reading the same few bedtime stories to the little guy for awhile now and I kept checking the library for new ones that he would like. I have Goodnight Moon, Big Red Barn, Goodnight California, and Its Time for Bed. He likes all of them but he was getting sick of the same old thing and so was I. He likes to be read at least 3 books before bed at night. I had a few people recommend Goodnight Gorilla and we now have it too, but I still wanted more of a selection. Then at the library I came across Hush Little Baby, the wonderful lullaby we all know, but this is a new version.

In a note on the last page, the writer Sylvia Long,  talks about being a mother and being bothered by the original version, how "In it, a mama offers her baby comfort by promising to buy him or her all sorts of things (a mockingbird, a diamond ring, horse, and cart, etc.). It seems much healthier to encourage children to find comfort in the natural things around them and the warmth of a mother's love." I agree with her and we are both enjoying singing it together every night. When he has this book he now opens it up and starts humming. I would recommend this book for every family. Check out Barnes and Noble online for it and you should be able to get a used copy shipped to your door.
Enjoy this sunshine...I'll be heading out to pull weeds in the garden. :)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Salad beans for the hot Chico summer.

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I love salads during the hot summer months in Chico. No one wants to cook because it is simply to hot. My newest favorite is to make what I call "salad beans" in spring or whenever and can them using a pressure canner or freeze them. Salad beans are basically just ever so slightly under-cooked, flavour-full beans to add to salads during the hotter months to add protein to your diet. They have just enough spice to enjoy them and are full of protein and fiber to help fullfil your needs.
Beans continue to grow well into the winter months.  Continue planting beans and other legumes up until at least august in order to really experience all they have to offer.  More on that later :) We took the opportunity to photo our most recent bean endeavors.  Without question... these indeed surpass the quality of store bought canned beans. Simply can with a pressure canner or freeze the beans for up to one year...really!!!  Here is our recommended recipe...

Basic beans
(pinto, santa maria, black, kidney or small red, I pretty much use what I have on hand)

2 cups dried beans, picked and sorted, then washed (yes, beans can have rocks and such in them)
2 to 3 quarts of water (we actually usually use home-made chicken stock or broth)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1/2 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 to 2 jalapeño chile peppers, seeds and membranes removed, and sliced into 1/8-inch pieces ( add more if you like it spicy!)
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste (add it at the end)

Optional additions:  (I always add these without fail, but vegetarians know that they will still be yummy without bacon and chicken stock or broth)
1/4 pound fatback, bacon or other fatty meat, 5 slices of bacon is a good amount to use
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon chile powder
2 teaspoons paprika

Beans should be soaked and rehydrated, overnite.  Using 8 cups of liquid for every 3 1/2 cups of beans is perfect. Cut bacon into lardons, small match sticks (omit if vegertarian).  Cook over medium heat until the fat from the bacon has been released.  Next, add the garlic, jalapeño, and onions, making sure not to brown them.  Continue with the addition of all the spices.  Do not over cook.   30 seconds of searing and the oils have been exuded.  Add all the liquid and bring to a simmer, I like to use the crock pot for this but you have to keep a close eye on it. Check often to make sure not to over cook, you do not want to add mushy beans to your yummy summer salad. When perfect, remove from heat and let cool. Before freezing or canning (if canning make sure to really under-cook, since you add cook time when canning) strain away most of the liquid and remove oinion, garlic, jalapeño, and bacon (if added). Enjoy!

Friday, March 25, 2011

sometimes even a super mom needs help...and I'm not a super mom...yet.

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I have always wanted to be a mother. It was a goal/dream in my mind along with many other dreams and goals. When I found out I was having the little guy I was so excited, scared and overwhelmed. Now he is almost two and I have no idea where the time has gone. The first year and a half or so it was pretty much me and the Doctor. I didn't really have any close friends who still lived in Chico and it was starting to get to me.

Being a mother is different than being a father. I was feeling so lost and in need of some girl time. So I started looking for a moms group. I never really saw myself as the moms group type but I didn't know what else to do because I was going crazy and I wanted the little guy to be able to play with other kids. I kept searching and searching and I finally posted something on craigslist. I got one response and we had coffee while the kids played. About a week later informed me that a moms group had just started. So relieved, I told the other woman I had met for coffee to join to.

In the beginning we were small...basically three of us. Now there are 97 moms in our group! I have met some of the most amazing mothers and I feel so blessed to be friends with these women. We are all very different, with different backgrounds, different religious beliefs, some of us work, some of us are work from home mothers and some of us are just home with our kids, married, single but we are all mothers and that is what makes it work. We all understand how hard it is and that some days you just need someone to listen to you who has been through it. Husbands are great for listening too but there is something about sharing with another mother...she has a different incite.

One of the other moms in the group has a son 6 days younger than the little guy. She has been a blessing for our family. Our children are going through all the same phases close to the same time and its so nice for me and Gnar to have a best friend. I feel so lucky to be connected with a spiderweb of mothers all with different areas of expertise. We mostly go to parks with the kids, take walks, hang out at each others houses, and go to story time at the library, but also now have moms night out! I didn't realized how important it is to get away from your children for just for a few hours every once in awhile. We all (not all 97 of us, just 6) went out together last weekend. I had so much more fun going out with these girls than I ever did before baby. Its a different kind of going out of course but so much more fun!

I just had a few moms over this morning to hang out and talk chickens. A couple other moms are getting chickens this year so I wanted to get together with them and share info. I also wanted to let the kids see the baby chicks. I almost cancelled this morning because yesterday when I went grocery shopping in the crazy 50mph winds with a toddler, I messed up my neck trying to carry to much stuff at once. I was being silly...trying to pick up the little guy (30 pounds now) out of a cart with a firelog (super heavy) and other groceries, he of course locked he feet into the cart and I wrenched my neck. I just didn't want to deal with the cart in the crazy wind.

I was in a lot of pain this morning but I pushed through and used my Dustbuster instead of sweeping (my house is pretty much always a mess of kids toys everywhere). I'm so glad I had them over, it was worth them seeing my messy house. Talking up a storm I forgot that my neck hurt and was able to relax a little. Its not all better yet but its much better than it was this morning. If I had just been here with the little guy playing...I would have been thinking only of the pain. I guess what I am getting at is I'm very thankful for the mothers in my life, my grandmother, my mother, my mother-in-law and all the mothers in my moms group.

This is one of my fav mothering pictures.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tired but filled with Joy

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Our lil' girls are doing well. I am enjoying the chickens a lot and I can't wait til we can move them outside. I love the little peeps, the little guy saying Hi to them in the morning and bye to them on his way to bed! The Doctor and I have a goal and we made one small step closer to the goal this last weekend when we got our girls. I also just ordered the One-Block Feast book that Sunset Mag just finally released yesterday. With all the chicken up keep, watering our veggie starts, planting more seeds, and taking plants in and out every day...I'm getting tired. Looking forward to 45 degree and above nights and hopefully catching up on my housework one of these days. I'm going to try and start bloging a lot more too! I follow a bunch of blogs but I never seem to make the time to write on my own.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The garden and CHICKENS! YEAH!

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We already started our garden this year in Chico. We have most of it in pots so we can bring it in at night but I garlic, onions and potatoes are in the ground. We also got some cute little chicks so we can have fresh eggs! YEAH!

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