December 27, 2011

Special Needs Chicken

This past summer, I wrote about our new baby chicks. They were so precious and cute back then and I wanted to give you an update. We did finally give them all names: Wendy the Silver Laced Wandyotte, the Americans are Sparkle and Tiny and the Brahmas are Vanilla and Crooked Beak. Unfortunately she got the name through her "disability". She was perfectly fine as a chick but as she grew her beak grew crooked. For a while we hand fed her with baby chick food, but surprisingly she is able to eat the regular chicken food and the scraps we share with the flock. I have no idea what her future holds because many of the chickens with this problem will starve to death. I will try not to let that happen under my care.
She's perfect and beautiful in every other way, including her very soft feathers. I love the way the Brahmas have feathers even on their legs. I have to say, Crooked Beak holds a dear place in my heart with her special needs and I hope she can survive for a long time.

December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011

Merry Christmas to ALL! These beautiful sugar cookies were given to me by my talented Sister-in-law, Nadia (the one posing with my strawberry cake here) to celebrated Christmas. She sells them at her shop on Etsy. I hope you are having a wonderful time with your family and friends!!

And the angels proclaimed, "Give glory to God in heaven, and on earth let there be peace among the people who please God." Luke 2:14


December 22, 2011

Hannakka Latkas - The Chickenville Way

I honor of Hanukkah going on right now, here is a recipe for potato "pancakes" from leftover mashed potatoes. Not exactly, latkas, but my version.

Potato Cakes
Makes about 8 cakes
2 c leftover mashed potatoes (the kind with milk, butter and garlic are best, but the instant flake kind can be substituted but you'll need to add salt and pepper)
2 eggs
1/8 c flour

Turn on a skillet on med high and add a little oil. Beat the eggs with a fork and add the potatoes and flour. Just like making pancakes, pour a little of the potato batter in the pan to form cakes. Let fry for a minute or so until sides seem to be browning, then flip to cook the other side. When cooked, cool on a paper towel like bacon to drain the extra oil off.

You can serve these the traditional way with sour cream and applesauce or cooked apples OR you can serve them with Parmesan cheese and bacon. What combos can you think of?

December 13, 2011

British Candy Poppers

We made these fun candy "poppers" (or crackers) for the kids' friends. They were really fast and easy to make. If you have candy, toilet paper or paper towel cardboard rolls, tissue paper and have all you need to make them. My almost-six year old tackled this project as one of the two she choose to make this year.
First, stuff the tp roll with as much candy as it will hold. Using leftover Halloween candy is optional, but highly recommended (after all, this is leaving your house which is a great thing).

Then wrap the roll with a section of colored tissue paper. I cut a package of the paper in half and that was a perfect width.

After it's all wrapper up, tie the sides of the paper with ribbon. You can add a note that tells the recipient to pull the ends of the paper apart to "POP" the gift open. For kicks, you can open them the traditional way. Have two people pull at the same time, one on each end, but then there is the inevitable drama of who gets more candy, so maybe not!
This gift is also a great teaching moment since they are originally an English tradition. We looked at the map and learned a little about Britain. My girl was pretty proud of herself after she made a bunch of these for her friends. If you need a last minute gift, this is an easy one.


December 8, 2011

Candy Cane Cookies - A Flop

Around Christmas we start making many of our presents for our neighbors, friends, preschool teachers and family as I mentioned in my Macaroni Ornament post. Sometimes it pairs with treat we have canned over the summer like the rosemary peach jam (we added fresh loaves of bread), sparkling green pepper jelly, tomato sauce (bread sticks and italian seasoning) or russian tea (mugs). We also usually bake cookies to go along. Our only traditional recipe is my favorite molasses cookies, but the others are usually picked out by the kids each year according to their whims. I save my Family Fun, Martha Stewart, Better Homes and Gardens December issues and a few special Christmas cookbooks. The kids look through them and each pick one recipe or project. This was the first year I let Sausage Boy pick out his own. I figured at three he can make a somewhat reasonable choice. Little did I know what I was in for! 
Right away he picked out these candy cane cookies from Family Fun Magazine. Regular readers of  my blog will know that we are big fans of FF here in Chickenville. All you have to do is search the archives and you'll find all kinds of recipes and crafts we have done from the magazine.They were so cute in the magazine! I had visions of making them for everyone on our gift list so I decided on making a double batch. I imagined we'd have a fun time rolling them out and creating little Christmas masterpeices. Things did not go as planned. Not only did these innocent little cookies take WAY longer than I planned, but they weren't exactly easy to assemble - and in the end, our cookies looked nothing like the slim delicate candy canes pictured in the recipe. The magazine said it would take about 30 minutes prep time and 10 minutes cook time. Not to let Family Fun off the hook, but it seems they have published a better version of this recipe online that does state a 1 hour and 20 minute total prep and cook time! With that, I invite my fearless readers to step into my disaster, so you can avoid one of your own!

The trouble started almost immediately with the dough. It was super soft after making it, so we had to chill it in the fridge for a good hour (unplanned delays are not good with a three year old). Rolling the dough into "snakes" was fun until it kept breaking. He's so used to playdough, I didn't even think about this being a problem.
Then I started having problems twisting the two colors together. It was not easy. I was frustrated, but to his credit, Sausage was not. His colors pretty much ended up melded together and I had to make the cane shape, but he managed about four cookies which took about 30 minutes. These are his masterpieces. He was so very proud!
I had to make the rest of the the batch because I couldn't let him down. I just wasn't expecting it to be that much of a challenge. I know decorated sugar cookies take time, but these looked deceivingly easy. It was laborious rolling the dough out and then twisting the colors together (to say nothing of trying to get a photo for you all)!
With practice (remember I prepped a double recipe) I got a little better. These were the few that turned out pretty. They each took about 25 minutes to make. That's maybe a *slight* exaggeration.
After all of that work, the cookies are VERY fragile. Even though I made the ropes thick they still broke at the slightest un-tender touch. These are NOT cookies for shipping to my cousin in California or even for walking next door to the neighbors house.
Also, I did have to reduce the cooking time to 7 minutes because the white part of the cane was browning making it look like a dirty candy cane. Yuck!
Overall not a recipe we will be making again. Too much work for a so-so cookie. But this face made it all worth the trouble. I enjoyed cracking up with my sweet, silly Sausage Boy who exhibited courage in the face of adversity. I love that kid.


December 5, 2011

Macaroni Photo Christmas Ornament

How great would it be if you could get your kids to make something cute for Grandma, or Aunt Betty or any of those impossible-to-buy-for people? How much better would it be if it was something useful AND inexpensive? How about a macaroni Christmas tree ornament! Not exactly what you were thinking - me neither. However, this little project meet both requirements: not expensive and they will use it. As a bonus you probably have all the things you need around your house.

If I'm being truthful, I need you tell you making these took a little *well a lot of* convincing from my kids. There begging all started when they saw the ornament I made as a kid. My incredible mom was kind enough to save it from childhood for my "grown up tree". I made this thing back when I was in kindergarten in the 70's. The photo on it shows my super cute corduroy jumper with plaid long tabbed collared shirt that was oh so fashionable back then. Don't laugh...

Each year, my kids would comment on the metallic macaroni. They think it is so cool, I think it's, well...tacky. Really tacky. I mean, it's macaroni for crying out loud. It's a food, not a decoration, but my kids insisted. I relented because it's so cheap to make if they all turned out awful, I could toss them and not feel bad. Turns out my kids were right on this one. The ornaments were easy to make, and turned out so cute we are still using them. Maybe it's because their photos are soooo much cuter than mine.

Macaroni Photo Ornaments
macaroni - guess this one goes without saying
plastic lid from container of sour cream, yogurt, or ricotta cheese - you get the idea
cardstock - stiff paper
spray paint - I used gold, but it's your choice of color
photos - preferably wallet sized
glue and scissors

First cut a hole in the middle of the plastic lid for your photo to show through. I found a glass that fit over my photo and then traced around that so I got the size correct. Then trace around the outside of the lid on the cardstock paper and cut out the cardstock. This will be your backing paper, so it should be nice looking.

Tie one small piece of ribbon into a bow and cut another small piece to form a loop at the top of the ornament for hanging. I chose different colors of ribbon to coordinate with the photos, but you could choose ribbon to coordinate with your tree colors or anything else. {And no my 3 year is not drinking a large bottle of coke in the that photo below as someone asked, it's large bottle of bourbon. I'm kidding mom! He's actually playing Daddy's trumpet.}

 Then let the kids glue "piles" of macaroni on the inside of the lid. And I do mean piles, excess is best here so give your kids free reign. This is one of the reasons my three year old LOVED this project - glue everywhere.

Once the massive amount of glue has dried completely, take the lids outside and spray paint the heck out of them. I used a satiny gold color,but again you could choose whatever you like. Cover every nook and cranny from all angles, except the backside. 
Once the paint has dried, you can attach the photo to the cardstock circle you cut out and that backing to the topside of the lid (which is the part you didn't decorate or paint and used to be the top of the lid). Confused?? The point is to sandwich the photo between the plastic lid and the cardstock. You can insert the ribbon loop in between the plastic and the cardstock at the top so you have a loop for hanging. You can also add a little ribbon bow to the bottom of the loop or somewhere else on the ornament. I added mine just below the photo.

When it's completely dry you are ready to hang on the tree or wrap it up.Just be sure it's REALLY dry, see the bottom of this ornament, some of the pasta fell right off because the kids were a little impatient.
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!! I promise to post about the treats and treasures we are making for our family and friends. Just to give you a little preview, we made soap snowballs and they turned out adorable!
Tip Junkie handmade projects


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