Adding to our Flock of Chickens- Did You Know You Can Get Baby Chicks in the Mail?

If you have chickens of your own, you’ll understand this… Five chickens was just not enough. Have you ever heard people joke about chicken math? It is the idea that once you have chickens, you keep adding to your flock while trying to convince yourself that you don’t have as many chickens as you actually do. Though this does not exactly describe us, I can definitely see how it could be an issue if your chickens are completely free range. We, on the other hand, have a limited amount of space, so we planned exactly how many chickens we wanted to complete the flock and built our chicken coop and run to accommodate that number of chickens.

For us, twenty-one was the magic number. We came up with that number by determining the appropriate amount of square footage needed for a single chicken and looking at the materials we had on hand for construction. Taking those two numbers together, we determined that we could accommodate twenty-one chickens. We started out with four hens and one rooster – not necessarily by choice. See my earlier post to hear the story of how we got started with chickens. We have two red hens (I think they are New Hampshire Reds, but I am not certain), a Black Australorp hen, a Leghorn hen, and a Leghorn rooster.

Here’s a photo of my adult chickens (from left to right – Myrtle, Snow, Pecky, Coalie, Clarabelle):


When I started looking into expanding the flock, I began to research different breeds. I looked at their temperament, their weather tolerance, their egg laying averages and colors, and their appearance. I started making a wish list of breeds that I liked. I immediately decided that Silver Laced Wyandottes had to be on my list. Their black and white feathers are just beautiful to me! For the same reason, I added Plymouth Barred Rocks. Next up was the Easter Egger. I love the beautiful egg colors that they lay. Ameraucanas were on my list, too. I had to do quite a bit of research here because I kept getting conflicting information about whether these two were actually the same or not. I finally found that they are not the same and that Ameraucanas are a little more difficult to find than Easter Eggers since the Easter Eggers are actually a hybrid. Ameraucanas are still on my wish list, but I was unable to find them when I got ready to order, so I decided the Easter Eggers would have to suffice for now.

My six-year-old holding one of the baby chicks:

I liked the idea of the heritage breeds, so I added some Buff Orpingtons to the mix. I like supporting heritage breeds because I feel like we are preserving a bit of history by doing so. Finally, since we have just one Black Austraulorp, I decided to get her a flockmate so that she would not be alone. In the end, after a good bit of number crunching, my list consisted of four Silver Laced Wyandottes, two Plymouth Barred Rocks, four Easter Eggers, five Buff Orpingtons, and one Black Australorp. Next, since I am not very patient, I began to search for a way to get these chicks in a hurry. I was excited to find out that you can order chicks online from hatcheries and have them sent directly to you by way of the U.S. Postal Service. Yes, you read that correctly – they will ship live chicks to you in the mail!

This is how they looked the moment we opened the package:

I found great reviews for two hatcheries, and ended up deciding on Meyer Hatchery since they had what I wanted available for delivery the following week. I placed my order, read the information provided, and began gathering supplies. The following week (the week of the expected delivery), I contacted my local post office to tell them that I was expecting a delivery of live chicks sometime that week. They called me on the morning that the chicks arrived, and I went down to pick up my peeping box.

This is a photo moments after we put them all into their new home:

We followed the directions and dipped each of their beaks into the vitamin water that we had mixed for them, placed them in a container with water, food, and a 125-watt heat lamp, and we were off and running. We are in the third week now, and they are all growing like crazy, so we must be doing something right! Follow my blog for more updates. I will share all the lessons we learn as we continue this adventure. You can also follow me on Instagram @backyardfarmproject for photos.

Chicks happily eating:

 

For the Love of Chickens – Building the Coop and Covered Run

We live in the country – wide open fields, green grass, pastures, hills, blue skies, and lots of wildlife. With lots of wildlife, you also get lots of predators. We are blessed to have two super watchdogs who keep guard over our chickens, but we wanted to be extra sure that nothing would happen to them, so we put a lot of thought into the design of our coop and run.

My husband is a really talented guy with a variety of skills and a creative mind, so my research paired with his ingenuity resulted in what (so far) has been a great design. He builds fences and decks as a side job, so we had a lot of spare materials from jobs where he had to first tear down an existing structure to make way for a new one. We have saved everything we felt might be salvageable, and it was becoming an eyesore, so we were happy to find a way to repurpose a lot of it.

We started with a basic size in mind and knew that we wanted our chicken coop to be positioned off the ground for a couple of reasons. First, it allowed the chickens to still walk beneath it, allowing us to utilize all of our square footage. Second, it seemed like it would be safer than if it was sitting directly on the ground. We wanted to provide every method we could come up with of security from predators. Once we had a basic design in mind, the first step was to build the frame. We decided on chain link for the run since we felt it would be easier to move from one location to another than wood. My husband began measuring, cutting, and welding poles together to create a frame.


Once the frame was in place, the next step was to add the chain link around the edges. After some discussion and trial, we decided that in addition welding the chain link to the frame would be the most secure method. We saw a couple of YouTube videos where foxes pulled the chain link out from the frame and got inside, and we did not want that to happen, so this seemed to be a good alternative.

In the following photo, you can see the reclaimed hardwood flooring inside the coop. By cutting it to fit snugly and leaving out the screws, it is easy to flip the boards over to clean the coop. You can also see the roost running the length of the coop. This is where our chickens sleep each night. The opening is their entrance. They fly up through the opening to get into the coop.

Our son (and one of our many cats) had to get in and try out the coop before the roof was installed.

Our favorite feature of the coop is this little spying window that my husband came up with and built. He framed a small piece of plexiglass and added a little shutter to the outside. This allows us to peek inside when the chickens are in the coop so that we can see what is going on. It is nice to be able to determine which hen is using which nesting box – and it is also just fun to turn the light on inside the coop and look inside when they are on the roost. When we build a fire on the porch and prop open the shutter, they look at us as much as we look at them. 🙂

Up next was the installation of the nesting boxes. Again, we were trying to save money and use what we had, so we decided on these little lightweight plastic crates. They are made for stacking, and we just screwed the top and bottom ones together but left the pairs separate so that they are easy to move. You can see where we cut a large opening in the front of each of them for the hens to enter through. We cut a smaller hole in the back of each to use for retrieving eggs from the outside. In this photo, you can also see the metal roof.

After the construction of the coop was finished, we painted it and painted all of the welded parts of the chain link. The little red rectangle is the window.

Here is a view from the end.

This is a close-up of the nesting boxes from the outside of the coop. We lined each box with a piece of cardboard then added hay. They are easy to remove through the opening in the back and clean out when needed. The door has two locks, and my husband welded a piece that drops down into the locked door latches to keep anything from flipping the latches open.

The last structural element was the lower fence that covered the portion below the coop on the back. You can see my hubby hard at work welding the chain link onto the frame.

We used some old metal roofing from a shed we tore down to cover half the run so that the chickens could enjoy walking around a pecking the ground even when it is raining. Steve is on top of the run, fastening down the metal. You can also see a couple of the extra items I added. There is a tire that I painted red which holds a dirt/ash mixture for their dirt bath. There are also two stumps at varying heights that they sometimes like to perch atop.

Below, you can see the tow straps attached or the four wheeler. We used these to move it close to where it needed to go then moved it the final few feet by hand. The metal frame is fairly easy to slide on grass. 

The last element we added was the compost bin below. I made this by taking the sides out of this wooden box and replacing them with screen for ventilation. We add vegetable waste, the pine shavings that we clean out of the brooder box, grass clippings, etc. It’s perfect because the chickens eat what they want and scratch and turn the rest. We should have a nice set of compost to add to our garden this spring. They get so excited each time we add something to the bin!

I would love to hear your favorite elements from your chicken coop and run. Let me know in the comments below what you like most from your experience because I love to hear new ideas!

Backyard Farm Project-How It All Began

I’m finally embracing my country roots. We have started this little backyard farm project, and it all started with chickens.Just look at that face! Isn’t Pecky hilarious?

I have wanted chickens for years, but my husband thought that they would be too much trouble. Over the Christmas holidays, a strange (and hilarious) set of circumstances finally convinced him otherwise. A friend of mine was raising chickens at her farm, but had grown tired of them. They were multiplying and, being free range chickens, were making quite a mess of her exquisitely decorated outdoor living space. She decided to load up the whole crew and give them away. Unfortunately, when she was on her way to pick up some Adirondack chairs that my husband built for her, they all ended up escaping and running loose throughout the town. One escaped at a gas station, prompting a call to the police department. Quite a few apparently escaped as she was travelling down the road. And, finally, when she arrived at the shop, the last of them escaped. You should’ve seen the videos! It was hilarious watching them run around and try to herd chickens back into a kennel. In the end, five remained loose behind the shop.

That evening, feeling concerned for their safety, my husband headed back to the shop to see if he could find them. He ended up catching one. The others ran into the woods, but he brought the one home in a dog kennel, and our adventure as chicken owners began. The kids and I were thrilled to have a chicken at our house! My six-year-old named her Pecky, and we decided that night that there was no way we were going to part with her. After a little begging, he agreed that she could stay. The following day (Christmas Day), after gifts were opened, we headed out to construct a makeshift coop and home for our new pet. When church was over, we headed back to the shop and sure enough, the other four were walking around. The three kids and I cornered them and kept them contained while he was able to catch each one and put it into the kennel. We took them home and placed them into their new (temporary) home.

That afternoon, we sat and watched those chickens for hours. We were hooked. We immediately started researching and learning everything we could about chickens. We have since built a much larger coop/run and are the proud owners of two-week old chicks in a variety of types. More on that later… Do any of you have chickens? How did your adventure begin? Follow me on Instagram @backyardfarmproject if you would like to see photos of chickens, dogs, cats, and various projects going on around our property. And stay tuned…the adventure won’t stop here!

Hey, World…We Can Do Better Than This! Let’s Stop the Hate.

The world is being brought closer together yet the people are being pushed apart. 

As history unfolds before us, I’m concerned about the direction in which we seem to be heading. However, I’m left to ponder just how much things have changed. I wonder how many similar events were happening throughout history without us hearing about them. One thing that most definitely has changed is that almost everyone these days has immediate access to the world in his or her pocket. When any tragedy occurs these days, we learn about it within hours, sometimes minutes. So, history is literally unfolding before our eyes – in our hands. 

You no longer have to be qualified as a news reporter to report the news, and there are rarely consequences when everyday citizens report “facts” incorrectly. Even some members of the media, in an attempt to be the first with the scoop, report without checking facts. To enhance the stories, everywhere you turn, there is a camera recording images and/or videos which can be uploaded immediately. The world is being brought closer together yet the people are being pushed apart. 

The advances in technology have provided us with smart phones and tablets that are affordable enough for most people to have at least one. The expansive news coverage invites commentary from both experts and everyday citizens like myself. People voice their thoughts on the platforms provided by social media and their “friends” and followers reply with comments. A person in small-town America can, by use of a hashtag, make her thoughts known to a person in the far reaches of the world. These people can engage in immediate dialogue concerning a developing topic. The conversations stretch across races, classes, nations. These conversations could bring about positive change, but all too often, they only enhance the negative. 

People are so anxious to share their thoughts quickly that little time is taken to collect and organize those thoughts in advance. In the past, a person would set up a meeting and prepare for days before engaging in discussion with someone outside his or her social circle. This is no longer the case. In today’s world, a politician can make an offhanded comment, someone can post it on his public Facebook page, you can post your own comment to tell him what you think about it, and he can respond – all within less than thirty minutes. We have never before lived in such a connected world. 

I’m afraid that these connections are contributing to the problems we are now seeing. Every time something bad happens now, we immediately hear about it. Oftentimes we hear about the news on Facebook or Twitter before we even see or hear the media coverage. We are bombarded with the thoughts and opinions of those around us, and some view these as opportunities to try to win over the hearts and minds of others. So many people think that they need to comment on every post or article with which they disagree in an attempt to sway others to join their side without stopping to realize that this rarely happens. What happens instead is that arguments begin. Others chime in, and before you know it, you are arguing with people you do not even know. The words become vile and the hate begins to brew. People read the comments and choose sides, and the division begins. 

Another thing that social media has contributed is a platform through which protests can be organized far and wide on extremely short notice. In the past, in order to gather a large group for a protest, you had to spend weeks spreading the word. That is now done in minutes. When something happens, the news is posted, arguments ensue, groups are divided, talk of protests begins, all in record time. A protest involving hundreds or even thousands can be organized and carried out before nightfall in a large city. The part of this equation that is not equal to the past is the organization factor. Instead of planning and working together, ideas are thrown out and acted upon in the heat of the moment. Oftentimes, this seems to result in unrest and injury to the protesters and law enforcement. Maybe we should just slow down for the protection of those on both sides. 

When I awaken each morning these days, I am fearful of the news that awaits me. I’m afraid another innocent life was taken. I’m not choosing sides here because I do not believe there is a side to choose. To put it simply, I choose God. 

Innocent people of all races, religions, and classes are losing their lives. I don’t know if this happened this often in the past without my knowing, but this is the reason I choose not to watch the news. I see enough of the hate each time I scroll through Facebook or Twitter. We must begin to spread love through the world, not hate. We must put an end to the divisiveness. 

It is okay to hate wrongdoing without turning upon an entire group of people. When acts of violence occur, let’s limit our anger to those directly involved. If an officer wrongfully takes the life of an unarmed man, be angry at that officer – not all officers. If a person wrongfully takes the life of an officer, be angry at that man – not everyone of the same race. Learn to read the opinions of others without feeling the need to argue that they are wrong. Accept that there are differences of opinions and realize that no matter what you say or do, some people will always believe differently. 

We have a better chance of returning to peace with the spread of love than with the spread of hate. Let’s allow God to be the judge and simply follow His commandment to love thy neighbor. We can do better than this, people. We have to. 

Attention Parents: MamaBear is an App You Need to Check Out

Raising children these days exposes parents to so many more challenges than the ones faced by our parents. Don’t get me wrong…I’m not saying it is more difficult. I’m just saying it is different. While we face so many challenges that have arisen due to the increase in technology, we have also gained a number of tools that can make things easier…if we know what they are and how to use them. Today, I’m going to introduce you to one that I think is amazing.

Let me begin by saying that when it comes to parenting, I don’t mind being the bad guy. My three children are 13, 11, and 5. The 13 year old is the only one with a phone (and at this point, the only one who spends much time away from us). We made it clear to her that we would monitor her phone – not because we didn’t trust her, but because we didn’t trust others.

The app I am talking about is called MamaBear. If you would like to know where your child is without having to call or text and ask….if you are concerned about what is happening on his or her social media accounts…if your child just started driving and you want to make sure he or she is not speeding…if your child rides with other teens and you want to make sure they are not driving too fast with your child into the car…if there is a particular place you want to make sure your child does not go…if you just want to know when your child arrives safely at school each day and you know they won’t remember to text you…this is the app for you. If you are worried about offending your child, this is not.

I have the feeling that most teens would be a little aggravated if you told them you were installing this app on their phone. Luckily mine was not, but let me be clear – I would’ve put it on her phone even if she was. I take this parenting thing seriously, and my number one priority is her safety.

I first learned of this app from my brother. He lives in Knoxville, and his son drives himself and his brother to school each day. I was at their house for a visit, and my brother received a text telling him that his son had arrived at school. I asked how he got the text, and he explained the basics of his app to me. I knew right away that I had to have it.

Let me explain some of the awesome features. First, you can view on a map where your child is at all times. The map is like Google maps – you can zoom in and view a basic map, or a satellite or hybrid view. You can then name the place as a “safe place” and receive alerts when your child arrives at or departs from the place. You can also send a message to your child using the app. When he or she replies, it will give you the street name of his or her location. I love the idea that I can click the app at any time and see exactly where my child is.

The app also gives you the ability to monitor quite a few social media accounts. It can monitor Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can have it alert you if your child adds friends/followers, if anyone tags or mentions them, if they upload a photo, and you can list restricted words to watch for and receive an alert if they mention any of those words in a post. If your child has an android phone, you can even use it to monitor texts.

The last feature that I am super excited about is the driving feature. You can set a speed limit for your child (whether they are the driver or a passenger with someone else driving) and receive alerts anytime they exceed that speed limit.

I realize this app is not for everyone. Many of you will feel like this is an invasion of your child’s privacy and that is certainly your decision. We each get to approach this parenting thing in the way that we feel works best for us.  I am simply sharing this information for the other parents like me who would find this useful. Ithis a free app, so if you think this might be something you would like, go check it out on the App Store.

If you already use it, let me know what you think. Do any of you use a different app that has similar features? I would love to hear what others are out there and what you think of them.

 

30 Day Clutter Challenge – Day 5 Linen Closet

  Thanks for hanging in there with the clutter challenge. Do you feel like you are making any progress? Things have been really busy around here, but I still feel like I am getting things done to clear the clutter.

Today, we will focus on the linen closet. This task will be simple. All you need to do is get rid of any torn or stained linens. It makes sense that you would do this as they become stained or torn, but, if you are like me, the reality is that you think you will find a miracle stain remover and someday soon you’ll get them back to new condition. Or…you think that a little tear in a towel isn’t a big deal. Then, you let it go for a few washes and suddenly your little tear has turned into a big, frayed mess.

There are probably very few people who enjoy spending their hard-earned cash on new towels or sheets, but having a few really nice quality ones is a better option than having a ton of torn and stained ones that you are embarrassed to have anyone use.

So, go take a look in your linen closet (or under your sink, or in your bedroom floor, or in the laundry basket…wherever you keep your towels and sheets) and give them a quick sort. If you find any really bad ones that you can’t use for cleaning rags, consider donating them to a local animal shelter. They can usually use them and would be happy to have them. 

This one won’t even take the full 15 minutes (if you keep all the items in one location). Go get it done. Quickly. While you’re motivated. See you on the next mission!

 

Marshmallow Caramel Popcorn – Trust Me…You Need to Try This!

  Oh my goodness…I almost feel bad about sharing this recipe with you. I accept no responsibility whatsoever if you get addicted. I am not a fan of traditional caramel popcorn. It is way too sweet for me and I don’t care for the hard sugary coating. This, on the other hand, is perfect. 

This “caramel” is made with marshmallows which actually mellow out the sweetness and keep the coating soft. Plus, and maybe most importantly, it is crazy easy to make. My thirteen year old is the one who always makes it at our house. I showed her once when she was eleven, and she has been making it since. 

We like to start with organic popcorn kernels from the most awesome store in our small town,   B.T.C. Old-Fashioned Grocery. Aren’t they gorgeous?  

 Any old popcorn would work fine, though. You can pop your own, or you can just stick a bag of microwave popcorn in and let it go. If you want to make it as healthy as butter-brown sugar-marshmallow coated popcorn can be, let me share the most awesome tip with you:

You can make popcorn in a brown lunch sack in the microwave using get this…nothing but plain popcorn kernels! Seriously. If you don’t believe me, try it. Put about 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels in the sack, fold it down three times, place it straight up in the microwave, and cook about two minutes (until the popping slows).  Now THAT is a healthy snack, filled with protein and no fat, sugar, or salt (unless you choose to add it 😉). 

Okay, got a little sidetracked there. Back to this deliciousness. Make a batch of popcorn using whatever method you choose. Place a stick of butter and 1/3 cup brown sugar into the microwave for two minutes. When it is finished, stir in nine large marshmallows until they are melted then immediately pour it over the popcorn and stir to combine.  

 You are going to want to eat this right away while it is still a little warm (though we have had a few leftovers the next day before – not quite sure how that happened – and it was still really good). Pop in a movie and have a family night. Give it a try, and if you can stop eating long enough to hop back over here, let me know what you think!

 

30 Day Clutter Challenge- Day 4 Kitchen Utensils 

So, if you’ve been following my blog, you know that I love to cook. I’ve always dreamed of opening a restaurant. Creating plates of food that people enjoy eating makes me happy. Because of this passion I have for preparing food, I have built up quite a collection of kitchen supplies….ingredients (as we discussed in the pantry mission of this challenge), dishes, cookware, appliances, and kitchen utensils. Just as a carpenter needs the right tools when building, I’ve always felt that I need the right tools when cooking.

When I began my big clutter clearing mission last year, I knew that clothes were my biggest problem and that the kitchen was next. It’s pretty simple…every time I catch myself complaining about cleaning, the two things I complain the most about are laundry and the kitchen. It makes sense that those are my two most cluttered areas.

You see, the problem wasn’t just that I wanted to have every tool I might need in the kitchen (even is I only used it once a year), I felt like if having one tool was a good thing, having two or three was even better.  As I started to group my items, I was amazed at how many duplicates I had. You might be, too.

Today, you will need to take out all of your kitchen serving utensils and group them into like items. This is great practice for younger kids in matching. Place serving spoons in one group, spatulas in another, whisks in another, as so on until they are all grouped. Once this is done, you should notice that some groups are larger than others. Now, you’re going to have to figure out how many you need. This process will vary from one person to another. For me, it was a matter of thinking through how many food items I would generally prepare at once and what utensils would be needed for prepping and serving those things. So…a typical meal here consists of an entree, two or three sides, and a bread. For prepping that, I could need a whisk, a spatula (the stirring type and the flipping type), a set of tongs, two or three cooking spoons,four serving spoons, a serrated knife for cutting the bread, and a butter knife. I most likely wouldn’t need all of these items in the same meal, but it is a possibility, so I want to be prepared. I want to have all of these items handy so that if a need arises, I don’t have to look around for a needed tool.

Let me stop for just a minute and share a couple of recommendations that might make your life (well, at least the part spent preparing meals at home) a little easier. My favorite utensils to use for cooking are bamboo. This set from Amazon is inexpensive and will last for years. Lipper International 826 Set of 6 Bamboo Kitchen Tools, in Mesh Bag. There are several reasons why I love these. First, they do not scratch nonstick cookware. Second, they come in a variety of shapes that meet most cooking needs. They are made of bamboo, so they do not run the risk of melting and imparting chemicals into your foods as you are cooking, they feel nice in your hands, and most of all…they are beautiful. (You can see a couple of these in the photo at the bottom. I used my wood burning tool to add a few designs to them, but these are the ones I ordered from Amazon.) My second recommendation is that if you do not already have it, you get a nice set of serving utensils. If the ones you have are in poor condition, I suggest these Klassische Kuche (TM) Professional Grade Stainless Steel Flatware 6 Piece Kitchen Tool and Gadget Set. I was able to let a lot of my utensils go because once I had grouped them, I could easily distinguish between the nice serving pieces and the junk.

So, now you’re probably thinking…what if I have a party, or Thanksgiving is at my house this year? I have a solution for you, too. When I did my big utensil purge, I knew that there were several items that I might need occasionally but would not use very often. I didn’t want to face a need and know that I had gotten rid of the exact tool I needed, so I bought a little tub like this one Sterilite 18828012 6-Quart See-Through Latch Box with White Lid and Peacock Latches and placed the items I knew I would use again but not very often inside. I closed the container and placed it on an upper shelf in my pantry. This keeps me from having to shuffle these items around daily while looking for something I need, but also ensures that I have them when the need arises. The thing you want to be careful of here is that you truly only keep the ones you know you will use.

Once you have figured out which items you will actually use, place those back into your drawer, and get rid of the extras. I suggest thinking about your flatware, too. This is not an issue with me, but, I do know people who have three or four complete (?) sets of flatware in their drawers. Why would a regular person in a family of four or five ever need that many sets of flatware? If you don’t have more than six people at your table almost every day of the year, you do not need twenty-four forks and spoons. You need to wash dishes more often. Here is an important thing that I have realized: If you have more utensils and flatware than you need, it is tempting to use more of them before doing the dishes which creates a dirty kitchen. If your silverware basket is always running over in your dishwasher (and you don’t have a houseful of guests), this is probably directed at you. Try an experiment…take away the extras for a week and see if you can survive without them. If you find that it does not create too much extra work to keep them clean and that it does create a cleaner-looking space, pack them up until needed.

My last tip today is to separate your utensils in to more than one drawer if possible. After cutting the number I have in half, I still have quite a few utensils that I use almost daily or at least a few times a week. I hate wasting time digging through the drawer trying to locate the exact item I need, so I put all stainless steel utensils in one drawer and all others in a separate drawer (my flatware is in a third drawer). I realize that you might not all have the luxury of extra drawer space. If that is the case, consider grouping one set in a pretty container on your counter. This one is really nice because it rotates. OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Rotating Utensil Holder You might even have a nice container sitting around that could be put to use for this purpose. My kids can easily separate the utensils into these two sets because either the utensil is all silver or it is not. The end. It is easy to choose the correct drawer. I could fit all the items in one drawer since I don’t have an excessive number of them, but having them in separate drawers is so nice because it allows me to see with a glance what I am looking for and grab it.

I hope these tips will help you and that they will save you a few precious minutes each day. I would love for you to stop back by and let me know how this mission worked out for you. I hope to see you again for the next mission!

30 Day Clutter Challenge Day 4 Kitchen Utensils

30 Day Clutter Challenge- Day 3 Books/Magazines

How did the closet mission go for you? I’m pleased to say that I only had to get rid of a few t-shirts this time and one pair of pants that I hung onto in the last purge but realized I really do not wear. I feel like I might finally be getting into a groove with keeping my closet under control. We still have one more step to go in the closet, but I will save it for later in the challenge.

Today’s mission is very simple and fast (unless you have to dig under beds and through closets to find them). We are going through old books and magazines. These items can take up a lot of valuable space in your home. I realize that these items have a sentimental attachment for some people, but they take up a lot of space, and most people do not actually go back and read them again.

I don’t have any pictures to show you from my house on this one, because I got rid of my books and magazines the last time I did a purge. I realized at that time that I had saved stacks and stacks of magazines thinking that I would use one project or another. Do you know where I looked each time I wanted to come up with an idea for a project, though? Not my stack of magazine. Nope, I looked on Pinterest. So….. I saved the one magazine that had a collection of food gifts and their wrapping ideas and got rid of all the rest. All of them.

I also took a long, hard look at my books. This part was a little tougher because I really loved each of the books I had read and hung onto. I had to admit to myself, though, that I really was not going to go back and read any of the novels again. Some of you do that, and that is fine. Keep your books if you will truly go back and read them again. I am just not one of those people. Because of that, I donated my novels. I took several of them to the school, and I donated the others to the local library. They were thrilled to get them. There are a few that contain advice about saving money or decluttering, and since I refer back to them and do read sections over in them, I hung onto those. I placed them all in one location so that I could easily access them and I hung onto a couple of novels that I thought my girls would enjoy when they get older.

I have never had a large bookshelf that was full of books, so I was shocked at just how many books I had accumulated. It was nice to recover that space and know that the books would be enjoyed by others. It’s kind of like giving your beloved books a new life. They exist to be read and enjoyed, and giving them the opportunity to continue that “life” just seems like the right thing to do.

Happy decluttering!

   

Quick and Easy Breakfast- 3 Ingredient Hidden Ham and Cheese Biscuits 

With three kids and two adults trying to get out the door quickly in the mornings, I’m always looking for something new to add to my breakfast rotation (see my earlier post where I shared some of the ideas I have tried). I’m always excited when another winner comes along.

This breakfast requires less than ten minutes prep time (more like five if the biscuits are easy to separate 😉), and the rest happens while you are drinking a cup of coffee and reading my blog. Hint, hint! You see what I just did there?

Alrighty, let’s get to it. First, you need to grab your three ingredients from your refrigerator- or someone else’s refrigerator if you aren’t home. If you are home, you probably shouldn’t go to your neighbor’s fridge and grab ingredients. Okay…I’ve got to stop for a moment. Can someone PLEASE tell me why fridge has a “d” in it but the whole word, refrigerator, does not? This drives me crazy!

The three ingredients you need are a can of flaky biscuits (the flakes makes them easier to separate), five slices of deli ham, and a bag of shredded cheese. Get whichever cheese you prefer…you’re eating this, not me. If you’re wondering, though, I used a Colby & Monterey Jack mix. 

  
The first step is to preheat the oven and spray a muffin pan with nonstick coating so that you can get these lovelies out when you are finished. Next, you will need to separate the biscuits into two halves, using the layers to help you do so. 

  

They look like little open mouths to me…just waiting on the game and cheese! Take your ham and cut it in half. I had the deli sliced ham that comes in small circles, so half a piece was perfect for fillings he biscuits, but if your ham slices are larger, adjust accordingly. I had two layers of an because after cutting the circle into two parts, I folded each piece in half. See what I’m talking about…

  
Okay, after you have added the ham, you’ll want to top it with some shredded cheese (or sliced cheese if you’d prefer). I see a Colby-Monterey Jack blend, but almost any cheese would work. I think a sharp cheddar would be great. I just happened to have the Colby jack on hand the day I came up with this recipe.  You’ll need about a tablespoon for each biscuit. 

 
After that, you’re ready to seal the pockets up and get them in the oven. 

  
To seal them, simply fold the top flap over and press the edges down into the muffin pan. 

    

   

  

  
They look like little pillows. Yay! The hard work is over. Who am I kidding? That was not hard work at all. You don’t have to tell the people you are serving them to, though. You can act as if you slaved over them for hours if you’d like. I won’t tell.😉 Now, just put them in the oven, go drink a cup of coffee, and relax. Check them after about ten minutes. After that, keep a watch on them until they are golden brown. 

     
Place them on a pretty plate and serve them. Pat yourself on the back, then sit down and enjoy breakfast with your family.  

    
  

Quick and Easy Hidden Ham and Cheese Biscuits

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 25mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
 
•one can of flaky biscuits 

•5 slices of deli ham

•shredded cheese

Spray a muffin tin with nonstick coating. Tear each biscuit in half. Cut the ham slices in half. Place the bottom half of the biscuit into the muffin pan. Put one piece of ham on top, sprinkle shredded cheese over it, and cover it with the other half of the biscuit. Cook at 350 until browned (about 15 minutes).