Sunday, April 24, 2011

Chicks and Dogs Equals No Sleep

The Mischievous One
I'm finally recovering from a killer cold, but not because "The Mischievous One" responded well to having chicks in the house. After a long week, I was looking forward to getting our six chicks settled into my house, as well as a good night's sleep. This was not to be. The chicks settled in fine. Saber (a.k.a. The Mischievous One), however, did not. It took him about two seconds after coming in from the pen to realize that there was something very interesting going on in the office. I had read that it's good to introduce your family pets to new chicks, so I decided to let Saber into the office. The box we are using as a brooder has a lid on it so how much trouble could he cause? A lot of trouble it turns out.
     At first everything was fine. He was gingerly smelling the top and looking in on the chicks. Then I accidentally bumped the lid, pushing it a little ways off of the brooder, exposing the chicks. Realizing that he could actually get to the birds, Saber lost his mind. It took all of my strength to keep him from jumping into the brooder on some seriously freaked out chicks. My husband had to come running in and drag the dog out, literally kicking and screaming. For those of you who don't know, Huskies scream and it's not a pretty sound. Saber spent the rest of the night whining and scratching at the door despite many admonishments and being squirted with water (his least favorite punishment). Finally, at 2:00a.m. I had to stumble out in a NyQuil induced haze, and kick him outside. It looked like having chicks was going to be a disaster.
     The next day, however, was much better. Maybe it was having to sleep outside in the dark by himself, being doused with water, being repeatedly scolded, or getting an extra long walk, but he didn't spend the whole day whining at the office door. He still jumps up and follows me when I go in to check on the  chicks, and he's taken to lying outside the door looking forlorn and abused, but he's actually letting us get sleep. Moses, our other dog, was also interested in what was happening in the office, but gave it up as soon as we put a chair in front of the door. It looked like way too much work. Why bother when he could just take a nap in the living room with his Kong?
Moses and the Kong
     The chicks were probably least affected by this new situation. They are warming up to me and growing fast. It's fun to watch them play with each other and hop around their brooder. There's lots of cute peeping coming the office and no bad odors since I give them fresh bedding and clean their water twice a day. Of course, I refill their food and get rid of it when they poop in it. All in all, with the exception of the first night, having chicks is turning out to be a good experience. Although, it's a bit difficult to get a good picture of them since they're always moving around.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Single Serving Brownie

Throw ingredients in a mug, put in the microwave, and enjoy!
This may be the greatest discovery ever made. The wheel? Lame! Penicillin? Big deal! Blood transfusion? Didn't work out in the end for Lucy in Dracula
, so I don't trust it. I'm talking about the Single Serving Microwave Brownie from It is amazing! This recipe is especially wonderful if, like me, you prefer warm, chocolate, puddingy brownies. The recipe says that 60 seconds in the microwave will give you the more gooey, brownie on top and pudding on bottom type brownie. 75 seconds will give you a more uniformly cooked brownie. I can vouch for  the 60 second method, but have yet to try the 75 second method. It requires no milk or eggs, so chances are you'll have everything on hand when the craving strikes (a daily occurrence in my case). It's beyond easy, always a plus, and the fact that it's single serving allows you to indulge without the danger of eating an entire pan of brownies in one sitting (not that I've ever done that. . .). Fire up your microwave and enjoy! Click here to go to the recipe page on

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Chicks Have Landed!

     We've got the chicks! There are 6 all together, three Rhode Island Reds and two Barred Plymouth Rocks. The Chantecler breeders fell through so the rare breeds will have to wait. The little guys, or gals I should say, that we got are adorable, as is the constant peeping they make (not sure how the husband is going to deal with that in the middle of the night). They will be with my mother until the end of the week and then they'll be here with me. Her house is quite toasty because of the wood stove they use, so they don't even need the heat lamp at the moment. They will definitely need it at my house. Said mother will be coming over this week to help set up the hen house and run. Considering that, combined, we have less than no building skills, it will certainly be interesting. Anyway, enjoy these pictures I took of the chicks with my cell phone.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Gardening Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome

Lilies Popping Up
     I'm having horrific flashbacks from last year's disastrous tomato crop. Several of my tomato seedlings are turning purple, which is what they did last year before they died. Some of the seedlings have curling leaves as well. After frantically searching the internet, I've come to the conclusion that the curling is from over-watering and the purple tint is from soil that is too cold. I'm switching the watering schedule back to every three days and have the tomato seedlings on a heating pad. Hopefully, I'll see a turn around in the next couple of days. The rest of the seedlings, except for the squash, which still hasn't emerged, are doing well. It will be time to plant peas any day now.
"The Mischievous One"
     I also added some fish emulsion to the plants, to help the tomatoes get more phosphorous. It attracted "The Mischievous One", who waited until I was in the bathroom to break in to the office/seedling room. Luckily, I heard the door open so I ran out of the bathroom to stop him. He also tried it when we went to bed last night (he even came to the bedroom door to make sure we were in bed), and this morning when he thought we weren't watching. So far he's been unable to get any quality alone time with the plants, luckily for me and the plants.
     The warm weather is melting all of the snow and all I want is to be outside. The lilies and violets are popping up, which means spring is officially here in my mind. The warm weather always makes me want some sort of veggie dip, so I picked up some Baba Ganoush at my local natural foods store. I'm making some Italian Basil-Garlic bread in the bread maker to go with it, and will roast some carrots as well. Spring is here!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Something Is Rotten in the State of Maine (Snow) and Homemade Tomato Sauce

(Right) Rosa Bianca Eggplant, (Left) Tango Celery
For my Birthday yesterday (yep, April Fools baby), Mother Nature saw fit to give me six inches of snow. Luckily, my husband is a better gift giver so I came home to a clean house, walked dogs, dinner, and brownies. I barely know what to do with all the free time so I’ll update everyone on the seedlings. The only ones I’m waiting for are the strawberries, cherry tomatoes, and squash. I got the eggplant and celery to pop up using a heating pad to warm the soil. I may have to do the same with the squash. The poppies and sunflower seeds have germinated as well.
Italian White Heirloom Sunflowers
The lemon tree is brimming with blossoms, one of which has opened. If you’ve never smelled the blossoms of a lemon tree, you’re missing out. They have an amazingly sweet smell. Also, I received a plant mister for my birthday, which I used on the leaves; HHMS (Her Holiness Martha Stewart) suggests doing that, and I assume it’s to recreate the moist air of climates to which lemon trees are native.
Lemon Tree Blossom
As far as cooking goes, I made homemade tomato sauce in the crockpot last night so that I could make chicken parmesan sandwiches today. I’m going to give the sauce a B-. The recipe, which I took from The Italian Slow Cooker, doesn’t call for any garlic or oregano, so that should have been a tip off, but it’s definitely lacking in the spice department. It’s also a fair amount of work with all the peeling and de-seeding. This sauce would be good for a light, summery pasta dish, but I’m not liking it for chicken parm. It needs more depth. I’ll have to add some spices and olive oil before I put it on the chicken. Luckily, I bought fresh mozzarella; when a recipe doesn’t go quite as planned, smother the mistakes in cheese. I’ve never made homemade tomato sauce, but I’m trying to get away from overly processed foods, and it will be a good way to use all of the tomatoes I plan on growing this summer. I’ll have to try some of the other sauce recipes in the book. I also plan on making a polenta chicken lasagna this weekend, and I’ll give updates on how that and the chicken parm come out.
Sweet Tomato Sauce Ingredients from The Italian Slow Cooker