Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Puppy Cookies

We spent some time together making some dog treats, or as Pandi calls them, puppy cookies.  It was a lot of fun for the girls.  We used this recipe, largely since we had most of the ingredients and didn't have to leave the house, and also because Appa really likes peanut butter.

I like to include the girls in cooking.  I think it helps them take ownership in the food we eat, teaches them great skills like measuring, counting, and following directions, and it's also just fun to see how excited they get over stirring.

Pandi's first time using the mortar and pestle
to crush sunflower seeds-our substitution for
chia seeds since we didn't have any.

We used a Hello Kitty cookie cutter. 
I think the best bonus of doing dog treats, other than how simple it was and how fun for the girls, was that, when you're making dog treats, you don't have to be quite as worried over kitchen hygiene.  For instance, Appa is much less worried if someone sneezes in his food than I am.

Trying the first puppy cookie.
The results are in, and Appa is really enjoying them so far.  Ours came out softer than a Milk Bone, so we are keeping them in a Ziplock baggie to keep them fresh.  It made a pretty big batch.  All in all, we are really pleased.

Decluttering Challenge:

I am also doing an August decluttering challenge.  It is from the blog of a wonderful Australian woman that I've been following for years, Down To Earth.  I stumbled on it Googling backyard aquaponics and was really amazed by their setup for growing tilapia fish in tandem with veggies.

I am following along with the August challenge and have, so far, tackled the girls' closet.  I cleaned out a garbage bag full of clothes that they have outgrown and will pass them on to someone who can use them.  We cleaned out and gave up so much when we moved to our new state (cutting down from a large four bedroom house to only what would fit in a 12 foot box trailer), but I am amazed by the things that could have been further pared down.  There are still things that haven't been used in our year here, things that I originally thought were important.  Those things are all going to be going in the next few weeks.   It's incredibly liberating to cut the ties to the things that I used to think I needed.  It makes me feel independent and light to know that there are very few things tying me down.  I am excited about the challenge and hope to have some more updates on it soon!

Sunday, August 4, 2013


So, let me share my biggest thrill right now with you (aside from Shark Week, that is).


The ladies started laying earlier this week, and we are now getting two or three eggs a day consistently.  I cannot even tell you how happy this makes me feel.  But, I will try to show you with some (fuzzy cell phone) pictures.

So careful with her precious cargo!

I love how they are all different colors and sizes.

We had two eggs out of our first six that were double-yolked! 
And look how golden the yolks are!

Eating the fruits (my Dad used to call eggs
"rooster fruits") of our labor.

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Funkbeds

The girls have been growing.  Which is a good thing, generally, but it also means that they OUTgrow things.  Things like clothes, shoes, and eventually, furniture.  Pandi was, until this week, still sleeping in a crib.  Since she is newly two, it has been convenient for her to be there. For instance, it is incredibly nice to put your toddler somewhere and know that they will still be there in the morning.  But, she had finally reached critical mass for the crib and it was time for something new.  Enter the FUNKBEDS.

I'm not entirely sure why Sephie latched onto "funkbed."  Maybe because the word "bunk" doesn't mean anything to her at three.  But, thus christened, Preston took on the project.

Doesn't he look like a man on a mission?
Working from a design of his own, Preston put together a pretty adorable pair of toddler-sized bunkbeds.  Better still, he only used lumber we already had around the house that was scrap, so the project was totally free!  It took a little trial and error (for instance, we didn't measure the door to their bedroom ahead of time and had to undo a little of our progress to get them in the room!), but they came out nicely.  The girls love them and the only problem so far is the fighting over who gets to sleep "arriba" (up) or "abajo" (down).

It's hard to tell from the pictures because you can't really get an idea of scale, but the bottom of Sephie's bed is only about waist high.
Diggin' the crazy carpet?  That's a project for another day.
A nifty, homemade set of beds, just their size!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

New Additions

We have had some new additions to Unseemly Manor since I posted last.  The first has been our chickens.  They are funny, cute, busy, and useful.  They have been not only eating all the bugs they can scratch out of the yard, but also contributing to our compost that has been feeding my rosebushes.  We got four Red Comet chickens, and each picked a name.  Meet Henny Penny, Paprika, Steve, and Boo-boo Chicken!

Baby chick!
Helping build the chicken coop.

All done!
They're getting so big!   The chickens AND Pandi!
We are eagerly awaiting that first egg that should be coming in the next month or so.  It's really hard to describe what a good feeling it is for me to be taking charge of our food supply, even if it isn't a very big part.  With the chickens in their coop and the veggies in the garden, I feel like we have a connection to our place in the world and a connection to the little patch of Earth we are tending to.

The last new addition to the family is Appa.  He is our Great Pyrenees puppy.  He is fluffy and white and enormous and gentle.  We adopted him from the Humane Society.  He has been wonderful with the girls and the chickens.  If we can only tame the shedding, we will be a match made in heaven! 
"That was funny.  Tell it again, tiny human!"
We're coming up on the fullness of summer and are looking forward to the bounty around us.  It was great to bring Appa to the farmers' market today and visit with everyone and look at all the wonderful things to eat, sample the goods, smell all the yummy things, and see all the smiles.  Preston and the girls picked cherries this afternoon and brought them up the hill in a bucket.  It's nice to feel the warmth in the air and the warmth in our hearts.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Making Space

At Unseemly Manor, it seems that the focus has been on making space.  We've made space for ourselves and our belongings in the house, we've made space in our hearts for the two cats that came with the place, we've worked to make space in our schedule for fun and silly time together, and we're working hard to make space on our mountainside for a garden.  It is no picnic.

The wildness has grown up and encroached on the house to the point that areas that were apparently once well-loved and well-kept gardens are completely unrecognizable.  We spent one day just picking up all manner of trash that was dumped around the yard, including glass bottles, cans, bits of plastic, bags of stuff, bottles of motor oil, and whatever other kind of flotsam you can imagine.  There is also a mound of used kitty litter *gag* that has been dumped in a huge heap that is going to have to be shoveled away, but that will have to wait until it's warmer because right now, it is frozen.

Our next work was to clear off a huge brush pile that turned out to be a multi-tiered retaining wall garden.  This is a little peninsula of land that juts out between the front yard and the parking area, and was covered in brush, bracken, thorns, and young trees.  It looked like a prime area for rattlesnakes to hang out, so it had to be cleared.  I am all about wildness, but we really want to make sure that the area around the house is safe for the girls to play.

You can see Preston standing in the corner to get an idea of scale.

On the left are the fence panels we're putting into the play area to keeps the kids from rolling down the mountain.

 Using hedge clippers, loppers, a hand saw, and a lot of pulling, grunting, and sweating, we managed to slowly clear the space out.

Being sure to take plenty of snuggle breaks.
Don't let Preston fool you...I did a lot of the grunt work, too.  I just took the pictures. 

Buried under the mess, there are lots of flowers coming up!
 The whole thing is actually set up in several levels, each held up with river rocks.  I'm sure at one point it was very pretty.  I can't wait to see what the flowers are once they bloom.  But right now, the whole patch kind of looks like a scraggly, scruffy beard that needs a good shave.  We're going to have to buy a weed eater to go over it.  However, that said, we took a couple truckloads at least of briars and branches and tangled vines off of that little area.  Now we have a space that doesn't look like a vacation home for snakes or a scene from a Tim Burton film when you pass by it at night to get to your car!
The crew relaxing, enjoying a new spot to play.