Monday, September 30, 2013

Minecraft Themed Party

We usually do not throw big themed birthday parties over here. We like to take the birthday kid to lunch or shopping and then we have a large family party. It's always fun, and with so many kids and cousins, playmates are plentiful.

Sometimes we break away from the norm and throw in a little something extra.
Well, this weekend we strayed from the ordinary and threw a Minecraft theme into the family party.

We knew that it would be universally loved by all our children and the cousins. We also knew that it would be easy to pull off and we knew the candy involved would be delicious.

I browsed Pinterest and found a ton of stuff for Minecraft party ideas. The biggest find was a site with free printable graphics. I went back to that site to get the address to share but it has been pulled down. If you browse the web you will find a few sites with printables you can purchase or you might be crafty enough to make your own on the computer. Either way, there are tons of ideas out there.

Essentially I printed the Minecraft card out and laminated it. I figured the kids would want to play with the cards later and laminating them would make it tougher to rip up. For fish we bought goldfish crackers.
   Sticks were pretzels.

Diamonds were blue rock candy. We found rock candy sticks at a party store and loose rocks at a candy store.

Cookies were cookies and red stone was rock candy as well.

For gold we bought Rolos and melons were sour watermelon gummies from a candy store.

I saw several blogs where they made rice crispie cookies and used a black dye. We found black sixlets at a party store and decided they would be perfect and less messy.

Many folks also use twizzlers for TNT. We figured kids would rather have a reeses cup so I taped the TNT label onto a single peanut butter treasure:-)

  Finally I bought some strawberry-kiwi drink from Target and peeled the label off. I replaced the label with a Minecraft one and called it Creeper Juice. Throw in a few spiders and green balloons and you've got happy Minecrafting kids!

We still had our large family party aspect with a meal of homemade lasagna and salad, but the kids were able to grab treats throughout the party.

It was a nice little party for my growing three year old! He is still too young to really grasp the idea of opening presents and insisted on having Journee help.

The cake? It was not Minecraft themed, but rather a simple yummy cake from Costco. Usually I bake a cake, but I decided to buy since we had a movie night the night before.

Everyone had a great time and the kids were thrilled to have a special Minecraft theme full of treats!!! By far the rock candy was the favorite, although I still prefer a reeses cup!

We are getting ready for American Meat night on Friday! I will be posting a how to video on our portable outdoor movie screen! Come back in a couple of days and see how we built ours!

Have  fabulous day!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Ready, Set, GO!

Fall has arrived! least until it gets super hot again for a spell. This week, though, has been very nice with low humidity and lower temps. Today it will hover around 80 with a low in the 50's.

It's time to get fall chores done. This means the bees need a grease patty and the pool deck needs to be cleaned up. Shrubs need to be trimmed and the front porch needs to be swept. The sand box in the back yard is begging for fresh sand so we will also need to clean it up a bit and load some fresh sand up to its brim. Fall weather is the best for sand playing!

Most importantly, however, are the two movie nights coming up! This weekend we are showing an outdoor movie for fun but the NEXT weekend is when we will host the community screening of American Meat.

The next two weeks I will be posting some facts from the documentary on Facebook.... facts such as each year the average American eats 48 pounds of pork, 60 pounds of beef, and 82 pounds of chicken. This is over 59 billion pounds of meat total in America!

While we prepare for what we anticipate to be a nice and large turnout, I wanted to share some pictures of a few happenings here.

My hens are now spending all of their time on the front pasture thanks to electric poultry fencing. An occasional bird escapes, but they stay close. I keep the roosters out of the fence so that they can focus on finding their own food (eating bugs and foraging) and leaving the laying ration for the hens.
We still have not built an egg mobile, but we plan to work on one in October when Devin gets a stretch off from work.
In the meantime, they are using my pasture chicken tractors. I move them every 2 days and they are happier than I have ever seen them. This field is full of grasshoppers!
The plan is to start moving salad bar cattle this spring and having the hens follow. As you can see, we are blessed with many acres and lots of grass!

Lucy is dried up! Okay, she is full of milk but we are not milking her. She is due to calve in early December. I always give her a longer than 2 month break from milking because she is an old mama cow. We also love having some free mornings without milking chores!

Baby Ivy is getting big and sassy! She is being haltered trained by Indiana and that is going very well. She is a sweet cow and will someday be a super milking cow. My plans are to keep her as my next milking cow, after Lucy retires.

Ivy has a favorite scratching spot under her neck. She loves to be scratched there. Look at that beautiful face!!! (She even drools when she gets scratched!)

The lambs have been separated from their ewes so that the ewes and my ram can breed. The babies sure miss the other sheep and Tiger Creek here follows me around every where! He looks good with his haircut! All the sheep were sheared two weeks ago and I think they appreciated the trim! I went ahead and sheared off their dreadlocks in front because they were so mucky and tangled. They should grow back quickly.

Now I want to talk about my ducks. I love my ducks! The kids love the ducks! We have mallard, khacki campbells , and runner ducks.
Now, most folks despise ducks because they poop. A. Lot.  That's all you hear from many is how they just eat and make messes.
Well, my ducks happen to be fantastic egg layers! We get large white eggs every day which are fabulous for baking.

They are also great at tearing up cow patties, as you can tell by this picture! I know this is kind of gross but cow patties are part of having cows and ducks (and chickens) are the master of spreading out those patties!

Old MacDonald had it figured correctly when he kept a diverse grouping of animals on his farm.

Hope you have a great week! If you are in the area, consider joining us for the American Meat film! It's all about sustainable farming and that's a good thing! Email me if you need more info!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

My Knock Off Buns

Goodness knows that times flies when you are having fun scrambling to get school work finished and the local politicians call special meetings to vote on certain matters.
I despise politics.( Despise with all my being). I really just want to be left alone on this little farm to raise my kids and my food, BUT I did my part and showed up at that special meeting.

So now I am sitting here at the table while the kids finish up math and I notice that my house is trashed. It might have something to do with seven kids and the coming and going, and I know that later today I will have to wipe down the counters and sweep the floor.

But at this very moment I want to snack on chips and salsa and share with all of you my knock off buns.

I speak of my recipe for cinnabons. My version of the incredibly super sweet, gotta have a cup of coffee to drink too because they are that rich cinnamon buns.

I only bake them twice a year, and sadly I do not have pictures of the process. I think you all can manage though as these are made like any other cinnamon bun, except the dough has a special ingredient.

I have gotten emails from several of you and for that I am grateful. Thank you for your comments, the glimpses into your own lives, and the patience for this recipe.

My Knock Off Buns

1 1/2 C water
1 1/2 Tb instant yeast
1 1/2 Tb sugar
1/2 C melted butter
2 eggs
3 1/2 oz box of vanilla pudding, prepared
1 tsp salt
6 C flour (adjust as needed)

*Combine these and knead until you have a soft dough that is not sticky or just slightly sticky.
Using some extra flour sprinkled onto counter, roll dough out into a rectangle that is about 1/2 inch thick.

Spread onto dough:
 1/2 C butter, softened
1 C brown sugar
4 tsp cinnamon

*Roll dough up into a log and slice into 1 inch thick slices. Place on parchment lined baking sheet 2 inches apart.

Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes. Cool slightly and frost.


8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 C butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
3 C powder sugar
1 Tb milk

Mix well and add more or less milk until desired consistency. Spread onto buns.

Best eaten when they are still warm and with a cup of coffee.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Large Family Logistics: The Grunt Work

There are days I just don't feel like laundry, school, house cleaning, organizing, dentist appointments, or meal planning.
Yes, I am pretty normal in those regards. It's easy to post quick tid bits and cute photos from all of the joyous, fun times in this large family. You rarely see the grunt work. I apologize.

Yesterday I posted a fabulous picture on FB of my caramel latte. My luxury drink that I prefer to buy at Panera Bread, but at $3.50 a cup and a fairly far drive I have learned to make my own version.

Yes, it's really yummy. Yes I tend to make them at about 3pm when I am having to sit down and do grunt work such as pay bills or the often dreaded meal planning.

What is it about meal planning that is so dreadful? We dread the hunt for new recipes and healthy meals that everyone enjoys. We dread the long lists, the store shopping, the hunting for sales and the sticking to a budget.

This caramel latte helps.

Then you have those pesky dental and eye appointments that require you brush everyone's hair, find everyone a pair of shoes and pack a bag of books hoping and praying that the little boys behave and don't decide to have a book throwing contest in the waiting room. I have been known to pack a few lollipops as extra bribery. They are organic so don't judge!!! :-)

Of course there is always a degree of sleep deprivation amongst all us moms. Maybe you have a new baby you are feeding through the night. Perhaps you have a toddler who crawls in your bed and cuddles up to your back.
It interrupts my sleep and I sometimes crave my own space versus this co-sleeping thing.

Of course I snap a picture of this angel baby and agree with myself that the lack of sleep is worth it in the long run. He will be in his own bed all night soon enough.

Between the lattes, the secret weapon lollipops and the attitude of gratitude the grunt work is gone.
It becomes what I do as a keeper of a family. A large family.

So, how did my meal planning turn out?
Here's what we are having the next several days for dinner.

Egg sandwiches on bagels
Homemade pizza
Beef tips over rice
Bean burritos
Chicken Quesadillas
Chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes

That caramel latte? Here's the recipe!

Fill cup with half coffee and half milk.
Add about 1 TB caramel syrup (from the coffee isle)
Add 1 tsp caramel syrup for icecream

Heat until very hot.
Top with whipped cream and drizzle more caramel syrup for icecream on top! Adjust to your taste!
For a little kick sprinkle a tad of sea salt on top!

Go enjoy your week!!!!

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