A New Home

For the past couple weeks we've been collecting supplies to build a hoop house. A dual purpose hoop house. We got the new chicks back about 8 weeks ago and I was ready to move them out of our playroom after about 4 weeks, but we had no where to put them. The coop is full with the nearly 2-yr old chickens who we didn't want to give up until the new ones were closer to laying age. And they can't be housed together due to space and age and roosters. So....we built the hoop house- the chicks will get the ground all scratched up and ready to be planted it once they move out. We moved the chicks outside on Christmas morning into our old broody home and wrapped them in plastic to keep out the cold, which is where they stayed until this morning. There is a chance of rain today and the broody house is not leak proof. So to their new home they went...

And the boys were in chick-heaven. A week with out their babies was getting to be too much. I still am not sure how it is that we have ones that look identical to me yet they can tell them all apart....

We have Buff Orpingtons like Fluffington

and Flap

And Barred Rocks like Barty

Rhode Island Reds like Chestnut

We do have 5 Americauna's and I can tell them apart....Sage, Sassafras, Muffy...


and Raisin

We also have a few New Hampshire Reds, Black Stars and Red Stars...all with names too.



I will be back to posting more regularly soon.

But here is December.

In pictures.

We had some snow.

And made treats/gifts for friends and family

And spent Christmas with my family

and Paul's...

We had Christmas at home....with new toys for the little

and the big


24 Days of Christmas: Day 10 and 11

Day 1o:



1 liter grape juice
2 cinnamon sticks
10 cloves
pinch of ginger
brown sugar to taste

combine juice and spices and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add brown sugar to taste. Serve hot.

We drank ours while reading from Joy to the World: Christmas Stories from Around the World

(more recipes)

Day 11:


Ris ala Mande

I combined a couple different recipes, based on what we had in the house here was my recipe:

4 cups milk
1 cup rice
3/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean
whipping cream
1/2 cup chopped almonds*
1 whole almond

* we didn't have these, so I didn't put them in.

Bring milk, sugar and vanilla to a boil, add rice. Reduce temperature as low as it will go and simmer until the milk is absorbed. (1-2 hours depending on heat). I stirred mine every so often since rice likes to stick to my pot. Cool rice completely.

Whip heavy cream ( I added a couple T of sugar) until stiff peaks form. Fold into cool rice.
Add the whole almond. Whoever gets the bowl with the almond is said to have good luck and receive a special gift.

other recipes

This is the first time I have ever made or eaten a rice pudding. It reminded me of tapioca, which I do like....but probably not something I'd ever make again. My boys didn't care for it all that much either. I think we'll stick with our cookies instead....


24 Days of Christmas: Day8 and 9

Day 8:

American/Family Traditions

A Trip to the Tree Farm

We live less than a mile from a wonderful Christmas tree farm, and we look forward to going all year. The weather was rainy yesterday, but there was a short break and we jumped in the car.

A search to find the perfect tree

And get lost among the branches

And hold on tight to the ONE so you don't lose it in the crowd.

Rylan, who begged and begged to get the tree yesterday, came home mad. The tree wasn't right. It wasn't big enough. But he was out voted 5 to 1 and we brought this one home. But I suspect it was the fact that he didn't make the decision more than the tree that made him mad. He pouted for awhile, but as soon as we put the tree in place he quietly said- 'It looks bigger inside than it did outside' and help to decorate it.

Day 9:


Linzer Cookies

We have a trip to the local Fire Station tomorrow so I planned our activity today so that we would have something to bring for the fire fighters.

I found an easy recipe- so these aren't *real* Linzer cookies- there are no nuts in them. And I used our homemade peach jam for the filling.

Cale was my helper, as usual. Rylan helped some. The younger ones didn't have any interest.

Here was our recipe:

2 cups Flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 egg
grated orange/lemon rind

for tops:
jam/preserves (raspberry is usual, we used peach)
powdered sugar

Cream butter and sugar. Add egg. Add in dry and mix. The dough will be dry so you may have to knead it with your hands to form a ball. Chill it for easier handling. Roll out dough to about 1/4 in thickness.
You will need 2 cutter- one small, one larger. I used 2 stars. Cut the dough using the larger cutter, then using the smaller one, cut out the center of 1/2 the cookies. Bake at 350 for about 8 minutes.

Once cooled, spread the jam on the bottom cookie and place the cookie with the center cut out on top. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

They were beautiful to look at. And now we have lots of cookies for friends and firefighters.


24 Days of Christmas: Day 6 and 7

American/Family Traditions

Day 6:

Was simply dinner and Christmas movie

Day 7:

Christmas Cards

ready to be written in

and sent out to family and friends


24 Days of Christmas: Day 4 and 5


Day 4:

We made Pepparkakor- or Swedish Spice Cookies

3.5 cups flour
2 tsp ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp cloves
1 tsp baking
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
1 egg
1/2 cup molasses

Cream butter and sugar. Add egg and molasses. Blend in dry ingredients well. Let the dough set overnight in the refrigerator. Roll out dough to 1/8 in thickness on a well floured surface. Cut out with cookie cutters. Bake at 350 for 8-10 min.

Day 5:

Swedish heart bags

One Swedish tradition is to make these paper heart baskets to hang on the tree. Each child receives one of these sweets filled bags. In the Swedish language these are called Jhartkorgar.

(directions for the heart bag craft)


24 Days of Christmas: Day 3

Day 3:


We had a busy day today since my mom and little sister are visiting....we were at the Children's Museum in Oak Ridge most of the day. But after dinner Cale wanted to make the recipe of the day....


We made the following recipe- taken from

Egyptian Christmas dish.

50g unsalted butter
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons icing sugar
2 cups self raising flour
icing sugar and pine nuts or silver ball to decorate

1. Beat butter until soft. 2. Add yolk, icing sugar and flour and mix together. 3. Make into thin biscuit shapes and put silver ball or pine nut on top. 4. Bake in pre-heated 300-350 degrees Fahrenheit oven for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until pale golden colour. 5. When cool sprinkle with icing sugar.

The recipe didn't quite come together so we added a little more butter and a small amount of milk to make a dough that actually stayed together. I searched again and some other recipes used plain flour and 1/2 cup of melted butter. Which would result in more of a shortbread than biscuit.... but they enjoyed them nonetheless. They liked saying the name and all of course the [way too much] sugar they sprinkled on top.


24 Days of Christmas: Day 2

DAY 2:


A popular custom in Ireland is to celebrate St. Stephen's Day- which is on December 26th- by practicing the Wren Boys Procession

Families dress up and go from house to house carrying a pole with a holly bush on top asking for money for the starving bird. In the past an actual wren was hunted and placed on top of this pole. Today fake ones are used and the wren boys use the opportunity to raise money for charity.

Legend says that there was a plot in a village against local soldiers. Villagers had surrounded them and were about to ambush when a group of wrens began to peck on their drums and woke the soldiers and caused the plot to fail.

The wren, too, is blamed for betraying St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr.

Today we made our own miniature versions. We made clay "wrens- which turned out very colorfully. Placed them on top of a skewer and cardboard and surrounded them by holly leaves.
The boys then proceed to ask for money- and we raided the change jar.

They make a pretty centerpiece too.


24 Days of Christmas: Day 1

Last year we did our first 24 Days of Christmas, filled will holiday crafts and gift making. We all really enjoyed it, so I thought we'd continue the tradition again this year. So...

Welcome to The 24 Days of Christmas: Cultural Edition

Day 1: Mexico

Today we started off by reading the book The Christmas Path: A Legend of the Luminarias

then we made our own...

Luminarias originated in Mexico and are Christmas candles that symbolically served to light the path of the shepherds to visit baby Jesus.

An easy first craft that only needs small candle, paper lunch bags and some sand/gravel. We used a star and snowflake punch around the edges too.