Friday, April 30, 2010

Kitchen Pests

Who else suffers from those annoying kitchen pests called fruit flies?

If you compost, have bananas on your counter, or make kombucha or kefir, chances are you have a fruit fly problem. Here is a quick fix to the pesky problem...

Place a 1/4c. or so of apple cider vinegar (any vinegar or red wine will work too) in a small bowl and cover it tightly with saran wrap. Pole tiny holes in it with a sharp knife. The flies will fly in but they can't get out. A-ha! You've got a quick trap with minimal effort.

My experience is that this is a must-do if you have fruit flies...but it doesn't do anything about where they are laying their eggs. I've heard of bleach down the drain, cleaning the garbage disposal, and getting rid of all possible sources of fruit on the counter.

What have you done that has solved the problem for good????

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Naya's Puppies

Two weeks ago Tom built what is called a "whelping box" for our Naya girl who seemed that she would burst at a moment's notice. Riley went out to the barn to say goodnight to her before he went off to bed.

"Nite, nite, Naya girl."

On Abram's birthday, at 9:30 am, Tom went out into the barn and this is what he found. One little, teeny-weeny black pup. Naya was in labor and we set aside all birthday plans to stay home to help Naya if she needed it.

Turns out, she pushed out a new puppy about every 30 minutes until she stopped around 1pm with a total of 6 little soft and cuddly black puppies.

One little helpless pup was born in its sack. I quickly called Tom over who broke it open and we stimulated it with warm towels until it started to breathe and then we placed it on Naya's chest. (Interesting note: Mama dogs typically break the sack upon birth and quickly eat it up along with the umbilical cord and any "birth juices".)

Happy Mama of 6 roly-poly squirmers.

Later that evening, after we had already determined that she was done having pups (It had been 9 hours since the last one as born), we let Naya outside to go potty. It was raining and pouring outside and under our metal roof, you really can't hear a thing. Naya usually comes right back within a few minutes but this night she didn't return after Tom waited for her for about 10 minutes. He got his rain gear on and put his head lamp on and went outside. He came back inside after a while with two wet, cold puppies in his hands. It looks like Naya thought she had to go potty when really she had two more puppies to birth!

So, there were 8 total.

Naya is such a good mama-girl. She loves her pups, nurses them all day, and licks them clean so they shine like the sun.

Now...since this was UNPLANNED, (and we can't possibly keep them all), who wants an adorable black lab-mix puppy???

Monday, April 26, 2010

Homemade Laundry Detergent

I've wanted to do this for a while now...make my own homemade laundry detergent. Not only do we have laundry from four people (three of them who like getting VERY DIRTY), a home, baby chicks, and a dog, ... we wash all of our diapers. This means that we can go through quite a bit of laundry soap. However, we do own a HE washer which does cut down on the soap needed.

I've seen friends do this and I've read in countless blogs that more and more people are trying to make more of what they use themselves...I guess you can equate it with becoming more sustainable.

SO, I finally decided to give it a try. You only need three ingredients.
1) Fels-Naptha soap (you can use Zote or Ivory too)
2) Washing Sosa (NOT TO BE CONFUSED with Baking Soda. You really do need Washing Soda.
3) Borax

That's it.

Grate 1 c. of the bar of soap with any 'ol cheese grater or food processor. I used my handy-dandy microplane which I consider a NECESSARY kitchen tool.

1/2 c. Washing Soda

1/2 c. Borax

Mix it all together, put in any old container and YOU'RE DONE!

There are many recipes online for making a liquid detergent too. I like the ease and simplicity of the powdered...but maybe when I go through this, I will try the liquid detergent.

And...for those penny pinchers out there..


The recipe yields 2 cups of laundry detergent. If you use 1 tablespoon per load, you will be able to wash 32 loads of clothes

20 Mule Team Borax: $2.50 for 70 oz. – Cost per batch: .14 (4 oz needed for recipe)
Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda: $2.50 for 55 oz. Cost per batch .18.(4 oz needed for recipe)
Fels Naphtha: $1.24 per bar. Cost per batch: .83 (2/3 bar of soap needed for recipe) *

Total cost to make: $1.15 Yields 2 cups which translates to 3.5 cents per load

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Look what arrived at the post office for us today!!!

Live baby chicks!!!

We ordered 20 baby chicks back in March and at 8am this morning we got a phone call from the local country post office that our chicks had arrived! We were all so excited that we immediately got in the car to go pick them up. They had travelled from Missouri and have been without food and water for two days.

We ordered 5 production reds, 5 silver wyandottes, 5 americaunas (they lay the green and blue eggs), and 5 buff orpingtons.

Both boys loved to watch them scurry about and listen to them peep.

The chicks are Riley's business venture. They'll not only provide our family with enough eggs to eat and bake with but we'll sell the extra to our hay customers and Riley will have his own business. More to come on this later....

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

New Pictures of the Garden

Have you ever seen a bigger parsley plant than this? I had Riley stand in front of it to show how tall it is. He is just shy of 4', which would make this parsley plant over 5' tall. (And that is spearmint next to it...which we can't stop from growing. It smells so wonderful and makes a yummy moroccan mint tea for us on a regular basis!

The boys trimming and doing garden work.

Yard work is REALLY fun when you've got motorized equipment to make things easier. Forget the shovel and wheelbarrow when you've got access to a Bobcat!

The boys love riding with Papa. The way we figure it...with all of the driving experience Riley gets every day, he'll be driving completely on his own (around the farm) by 8 years old.

And the boy sure pulls his weight around here...if it involves dirt, Riley is all about helping.

13 tomato plants and 2 tomatillo plants

Sugar snap peas, lettuce, swiss chard, potatoes, onions, radishes, broccoli, cabbage, and scallions

The whole 9 yards.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Happy Birthday Abram Oak

Happy Birthday Abram Oak Rickstrew!

Abram turned ONE YEAR OLD last Thursday.

Once a year he gets to eat on his special birthday plate...a favorite gift of ours from Gigi and Grandpa here in Texas.

We had big plans to have a picnic at a local nature reserve but it rained and poured all daylong so we stayed inside and celebrated. I made banana cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and I am sure more of it went into Abram's hair and clothes than in his mouth.

This was Abram's first experience with opening gifts. He didn't really know what to think of it...but a soft and furry card from Grandma that squeaked when you pinched it was his absolute favorite. It really got him in the mood to see what was next.

Grandma and Grandpa bought him a Radio Flyer push wagon which clicks when the wheels turn. Riley got the idea that since Abram doesn't walk quite yet, why doesn't Abram sit inside the wagon and Riley will push him around? This is how we spent the rest of the afternoon...watching Riley and Abram have a blast while touring our tiny home.

Happy Birthday my sweet son!!!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Musical Prodigies?

Yesterday when Riley and I went to get Abram out of his crib after a good long nap, Riley handed Abram a harmonica to see what he would do with it. Turns out...they made some pretty good music together.

You can watch the adorable footage here.
(Click on Large and listen's kinda quiet at first =)

Who knew babies were so musically talented?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Aerial Photo

Our friend Ryan is a pilot and regularly flies over our area. He took a couple photos and later that night came to our home with his family for dinner and gave them to us. Ryan asked Riley that night "Were you outside with a yellow dump truck around 2pm?" Riley said, "Yes, I was outside all day." Ryan said, "I saw you from my plane!" Riley was excited about that and now waves to every plane he sees flying above.

To orient you...can you see the two long rectangle fields just above the part of the plane? That is our hay farm! (There is more to it, but this is the bulk of the hay field.) And the white buildings at the left side are the hay barns, the barn we live in, and Grandpa and Gigi's house.

More Wildflowers

Just had to show you more of our roadside beauties.
Aren't they lovely?

This bouquet was collected for Gigi's birthday on April 5th. The dark pink tall flowers in the middle are her favorites.

Hand picked for my mom the day before she flew home.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Nana Comes To Texas

My mom ("Nana") is visiting from Colorado. We spent the week at the Round Top/ Marburger Farm Antiques Fair. If you've ever seen a Country Living or Cottage Living magazine, you'll know about this Fair as it is one of the biggest in the world. (Sorry, didn't lug my big camera around, so I don't have any Antique Fair pictures this year.)

Riley picked these wildflowers for Nana on the outskirts of our property. Aren't they gorgeous? And to think...the hillsides are COVERED with these beauties.

One of Riley and Abram's favorite things to do is have someone read them a book. Nana got right to work in that department when we arrived home from the airport.

It was windy (so windy, my skirt puffed up with air and I look 9 months pregnant!) on Easter Sunday, but it was worth snapping a photo.

My mama and my sweet babe with the wildflowers we picked just yesterday.

Riley has learned to catch a ball quite well and he enjoys getting all of the practice someone else will give him. Nana and Riley played "catch" while the sun set last night.

Thanks for coming Nana!!

Getting Our Garden Ready

Now that Spring has sprung, we've been working hard to get our newly expanded garden ready to plant. So far, we've planted tomatoes, tomatillos, serrano peppers, carrots, butternut squash, cantaloupe, and green beans. Our strawberries are just now coming in full speed and Riley's having fun checking to see if there are any red ones every morning for our steel cut oats.

A Bachelor Button growing in my flower garden.

Calendula growing in the same flower garden.

In Texas, I'm going to have to choose Spring as my favorite time of the year. Everything is beautiful right now.