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Kids Crafts: Outdoor Materials Collage

Children love to forage and collect "treasures."  Send them outside with a basket, in search of all kinds of nature's trinkets:

pine conestwigsseed podsleavesstemsflowersrocksfeathersshellsmoss The list goes on...

Once the children have collected a pretty good haul of Mother Nature's gems, you can use them to make a nature collage:



The collage can be a free-flowing, abstract piece, or might make more realistic images, such as this old man, made with milkweed pods, twigs, and corn husks:



Outdoor Materials Collage
1.  Collect small items from outside, such as pine cones, small sticks, pebbles, or seed pods.

2.  Use a sturdy material as your canvas, such as cardboard or tag board.  It can be small, like a post card, or large, like a poster.

3.  Older children may be able to use a hot glue gun (or an adult could do the gluing), otherwise, just use regular white school glue.  Be sure that your outdoor pieces are not too heavy, otherwise they will fall off.

4.  Very young …
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DIY Chocolate Syrup

I check labels carefully before I purchase any food product, and I am not thrilled by what I see on most chocolate syrup or chocolate milk labels:


Once in a while, the kids like to have some chocolate milk, or some syrup drizzled on their ice cream or yogurt.  I have been avoiding purchasing any chocolate syrup, however, since most of them contain high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, and other questionable ingredients.

That is why I prefer to make chocolate milk at home, rather than using the ready-made stuff.  By mixing my own with syrup, I can control how much sugar the kids are getting, plus it allows me to use good quality milk from pastured cows.





I found a recipe for chocolate syrup in an old cookbook that is corn syrup free, and found that it turned out wonderfully.  The recipe calls for only five ingredients (and only takes about 20 minutes to make):

Cocoa Powder - Look for "dutch process" cocoa powder, as it has the best flavor.Sugar - I used organic sucanat…

Mexican Avocado Deviled Eggs

If you are looking for a good way to use up some eggs, try this delicious twist on deviled eggs--these are made with avocados and plenty of savory seasoning.  They are also mayonnaise free, and contain only healthy fats.

I have included instructions for hard cooking your eggs because it is important to have eggs that are easy to peel.  That way, you aren't tearing up the whites, which can be quite frustrating!  I have been using this method of boiling eggs for years, and find that the eggs not only peel easier this way, but the yolks will stay a nice bright yellow.



Why Your Chicks Want Access to a Dust Bath Too

Most chicken owners know that their full grown hens and roosters should have access to a dust bath.  Usually, if they have enough space to roam outside, chickens will find their own favorite spots to bathe in the dirt (annoyingly, ours picked right in the front yard by one of our big spruce trees--they are lucky I love them).

But did you know that chicks need dust baths too? 


Last Minute Halloween Pumpkin Centerpiece

I discovered a unique, but speedy, idea for a Halloween centerpiece or decoration.

I was going through some Halloween stuff that used to belong to my hubby's grandma, and came across a cute little pumpkin.  I set it aside, thinking I'd use it to decorate the kitchen table, and started decorating the yard.  While I was busy at work, one of my toddlers found the pumpkin, and took it upon herself to dismantle it.

I was surprised to find that the pumpkin was actually nothing more than a roll of toilet paper wrapped in fabric!  I thought it was a neat idea, especially if you needed a last minute decoration.  Even if you didn't have any orange fabric on hand, I think other colors would work, and maybe even tissue paper could be substituted. 

All you need is:
1 roll of toilet paper
An approximately 18" inch square of fabric
A small brown paper bag, or other brown or green piece of paper
Optional decorative leaves--leaves from outside would probably even work

You just set th…

Yellow Lard Cake with Butter-Cream Frosting (For a Crowd)

Lard (fat from a pig) has been used for thousands of years as a culinary ingredient.  Indeed, the fat from any animal was considered just as important as the meat (as well as the organs).  During the early 20th century, something changed in the United States however; delicious lard, along with other saturated fats, were labeled as being "bad for you."  Things like shortening and margarine became the new healthy fats of choice.

DIY Rose Petal Extract

My interest in roses, and maybe medicinal herbs in general, probably got started way back in my middle school years (this may sound unrelated to roses, but bear with me).  I did a report on the famous scientist and supposed predictor of the future, Nostradamus.

You may have heard of Nostradamus, and his famous book Les Propheties, which supposedly predicted future events. Why am I rambling on about Nostradamus? Because whether or not he predicted the future, he did indeed create something called a "rose pill," which was a lozenge he made using rose hips. These rose pills were used during the time of the plague, and helped many people, probably due to the high vitamin C content. I remember learning this as a kid, and finding it fascinating that something so simple as a rose plant could heal a case of the plague!

Many years have passed since that middle school report, but still, I like to experiment with plants and herbs. We moved a couple years ago to a farmh…