Backyard Chickens?

My husband and I have really been considering adding a small flock (if 3 or 4 can be considered a flock) of chickens to our backyard.  Two years ago, I couldn’t imagine myself typing those words, but now I am finding it harder and harder to go on living without these amazing little birds in my life.  Now, if my mom is reading this she’s probably raising an eyebrow, wondering what in the world the Arizona sun has done to her poor daughter’s brain.

It’s fried, mom.  Like an egg! Speaking of eggs…chickens lay those things. I like eggs. What I don’t like is spending $5 a week on a dozen organic “cage free” eggs.  It makes me sad. If I had chickens, they would give me eggs in exchange for a little love and attention. So there.

Also, chickens are funny and entertaining. And yes, this is really one of the reasons I would like to keep chickens.

My one concern, and I’ll admit, it’s a big one, is that my dog will kill all the chickens. I imagine those words running through his little brain the second he sees them…”kill all the chickens”.  It’s not that he’s hungry, he just has such a strong prey drive and likes to kill everything that moves. Except people. And other dogs. It’s scary.

The Stuff of Nightmares.

The Stuff of Nightmares.

Oddly enough (I say that, but it’s really not that odd since it’s chick season), all of my favorite homestead bloggers have been blogging about keeping backyard chickens! Just thought I’d share a few here in case any of you are considering becoming a crazy chicken lady, like myself.

6 Reasons to Keep Backyard Chickens

Keeping Backyard Chickens 101

The Basics of Backyard Chickens

(and just because I love to eat cookie dough) The Number One Reason Why YOU Need Chickens

On top of that, I have been reading A Chicken in Every Yard and The Urban Homestead.

And if my friends and family aren’t quite convinced that I’ve gone completely crazy, I’m looking into urban beekeeping. Yep. It’s true.

 

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Butternut Squash Risotto

So this is a yummy recipe that I got from Giada’s cookbook, Giada’s Kitchen.  I love this cookbook. I make almost everything in it, except the Eggplant Timbale, and that’s just because it looks super time-consuming.  Her recipe calls for vegetable broth, and I suppose you could use that, however, being the meat-lover that I am (TWSS for Sarah), I like to use chicken broth.  You can play around with it and see which one you prefer, but DO NOT leave the vanilla bean out! DO NOT! It is such an important part of this dish.

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Butternut Squash Risotto

4 cups chicken broth

1 vanilla bean

3 cups butternut squash cut into 1 inch squares (one butternut squash)

3 tablespoons butter (Giada’s recipe calls for unsalted, however, I prefer the taste of salted)

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped (about a cup)

1 1/2 cups Arborio rice (or a medium-grain white rice)

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 cup grated parmesan cheese (1/2 to go into the risotto and 1/2 to go on top)

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons finely chopped chives

In a medium sauce pan, heat the broth over medium heat. Cut the vanilla bean in half, lengthwise, and run the tip of the knife along the inside of the shell to get all of the little beans out. Throw the beans and the shell into the pot of broth.  When the broth starts to simmer, add the butternut squash and cook until tender, about 5 – 10 minutes.  Remove the butternut squash with a slotted spoon, and set aside for now. Turn the heat to the lowest setting to keep it warm.

In another medium saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Sauté the onion just until soft, but not browned.  Add the rice and coat with the butter. Add wine and simmer until the wine has evaporated (about 2 or 3 minutes).  Add 1/2 a cup of the broth to the risotto, wait until it is completely absorbed, stirring in the meantime, and add another 1/2 a cup of the broth.  Repeat that process until all of the broth is gone, making sure to continuously stir the risotto.  Discard the vanilla bean pod.  The mixture should look nice and creamy when done. The risotto will be tender, but not mushy.

Take the mixture off of the heat. Add the butternut squash, the other tablespoon of butter, salt, and 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese.  Transfer to a serving dish and top with the other 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese and the chives.

Now sit back and enjoy your tasty treat!

While I was cooking this, I got a few snapshots of Milo picking on the Shibas.  Poor Shibas.

"Move over and let me dump all of your water all over the floor for no reason whatsoever!"

“Move over and let me dump all of your water all over the floor for no reason whatsoever!”

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Enjoy your Tuesday evening!

 

The “Blowin’s of the coats”

If you are lucky enough to have a shiba (or a different breed who decides to leave his entire coat in small pieces all around the house twice a year) then you probably know what the title means.  Yep, it’s that time of year. Kistune has been leaving a trail of hair (more than usual) every where he walks.  He always looks like a homeless dog this time of year, with little spicks of hair sticking up all over his head and back. It makes me think of the time right after I had Miles. I was in the hospital for a week and had come home in the middle of my stay to shower and gather some personal things.  When I walked in, Kit was standing at the top of the stairs with clumps of hair sticking up all over his head and back. He was running around in circles and doing his “shiba scream”. It really did seem that he had gone nuts while we were away. Haha. I laughed pretty hard, but also cried because that was my first time being physically separated from Milo. Anyway, Grandma caught up with Kit the other day and FURminated him! He didn’t seem to ming, though…

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I raked up the hair from the second brushing, so this isn’t even all of it!

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Oh, and here’s a photo of an adorable baby.

Milo: 11 months

Milo: 11 months

Happy Friday!

Liebster Blog Award Nomination! Whoo Hoo!

What an honor to be nominated for this blog award! I am actually quite ashamed to say that I have never heard of the Liebster blog award before today when I decided to catch up on some missed blog entries by my sweet friend, Ashley, over at Immeasurably More.  I was shocked to see that she nominated me for this award because I’ve been so terrible at keeping up with The General Specific lately.  I feel so undeserving.  Maybe this is the boost I need to get me back in action!

LB

Okay, so from what I gather from Ashley’s post on the Liebster award and numerous Google inquiries, liebster is German for “dearest”, “sweet-heart”, and I even found something that said “boyfriend”. Yay! I’m getting the awesome boyfriend award! Haha..only kidding. I also found a few variations of the rules, but, of course, I will be following along with what Ashley posted. 

1. Post 11 random things about yourself.

2. Answer the questions that the nominator posted for you.

3. Create 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate.

4. Choose 11 blogs that you love (with 200 followers or less) and link them to your post.

5. No tag back. However, please leave me a comment so that I know you are aware that you have been chosen. I think this means that you can’t nominate the person who nominated you.

 So here goes #1!
1. I am a huge procrastinator when it comes to school work. In fact, I am procrastinating as I type these words. I am supposed to be writing a 10 page research paper on the impact of divorce on child development, but instead, I am pretending like I’ll do it tomorrow.
2. I cloth diaper my wee one.
3. I have a very difficult time driving without music.
4. I am an INFJ, which is not a very common personality type, which is cool, right?
5. I am studying to be a marriage and family therapist at Liberty University.
6. I am spending the holidays, and all the other days until May, without my husband.  He decided to take an extended vacation to Afghanistan.
7. I love to crochet, and I like to sew…sometimes.
8. I love to cook. I am dedicated to cooking with whole foods only, no processed junk for my baby or husband!
9. I am about to become a first-time aunt! My sister, Stephy, is about 9 months pregnant with baby Annabelle.
10. I have been finding grey hairs on my head. At first I was sad, but then I realized that getting grey hairs only means I’m aging. Then I was sad again.
11. I love yoga…and wine. Can’t forget the wine.
Okay, time for #2: Answer the nominator’s questions.
1. What is your favorite Bible verse? Hm, that is a hard one. I have many favorites.  There are a few that just give me goosebumps when I come across them.  One of them is 1 Peter 2:9:
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness and into his wonderful light (New International Version).
Ooo! Just got goosebumps again!
2. Besides Jesus, what Bible character would you love to meet? I think I would like to meet Sarah, the wife of Abraham.  The bible does not talk much about laughter, or have many examples of people laughing out loud, but Sarah did. She laughed when she learned, at the age of 90, she would be having a son sometime in the future (Gen. 18: 12).  There is much to say about a person who can laugh at themselves, and I think she’d be one worth getting to know.
3. Why did you decide to start a blog? Well, I decided to start The General Specific as an aid to my schoolwork. I thought if I blogged about what I was learning in school, I’d be able to retain the knowledge better. I soon realized how excruciatingly boring that idea was, so I went out, bought myself a sewing machine, signed up for some classes, and started blogging about my sewing projects. Then I started crocheting again, so I blogged about that. Then I blogged about my dog. And my embarrassing experiences in Japan. And my husband. And then it just became this compilation of my sometimes mundane, sometimes exciting life events. I think they call that a “lifestyle” blog. Haha.
4. Where is your dream vacation? Oh, that’s easy. Croatia. And Paris. And Istanbul. And Bali. And the Serengeti. Oh, darn it! Everywhere cool is my dream vacation!
5. Do you prefer salty or sweet snacks? Can I be difficult and say that I prefer a mixture of the two, like white chocolate covered pretzels, or clementines dipped in dark chocolate and then sprinkled with a bit of sea salt?
6. What would you consider to be a hobby of yours? Definitely crocheting. I have too much of a love/hate relationship (leaning more on the “hate” side lately) with sewing to deem it a hobby of mine. Check back in another month, though.
7. Do you have any pets? Well, as a matter of fact, I do! I have a 4 year old shiba inu named Kitsune. He is my first baby and if I ever met someone who did not think he was handsome, cute, or beautiful, I’d have to question whether or not their eyes were working.  See for yourself!
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8. What is your favorite genre of music? Okay, so I had to take a look at my iTunes library to see what I had the most of since I’ve never been one to associate myself with a genre and it looks like folk and singer/songwriter win the prize! Followed closely by gospel and holiday. Eeek. I guess I have way too many Christmas songs. Not! Because that couldn’t happen…ever.
9. What book are you currently reading? Recreationally? Mans Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl.  Although I have had to put it to the side to read my school texts books, Theories of Personality by Feist & Feist, and Loving Your Child Too Much by Dr.’s Clinton and Sibcy.  All great books!
10. What is your favorite Christmas song/tradition? My favorite Christmas song is Oh Holy Night…and a new one is We Have a Savior by Hillsong. Love that tune.  Favorite tradition? The one my husband, child, and future children have yet to establish. I know that sounds weird, but I really don’t have an established tradition right now, but I dream about the traditions that I am going to begin with my husband, when he gets back, and kids. Christmas Eve will be spend with Sam’s parents, because that is their tradition. I want to get up early on Christmas morning, make pancakes, read the story of Jesus’ birth, open Christmas presents, and spend the better part of the day in our p.j.’s while the kids try out all their new stuff and Sam and I just sit on the couch with our coffee and take in all that we have and just be thankful.  That hopeful scenario is my favorite Christmas tradition.
11. Have you ever been on a missions trip? No! But I would love to go to somewhere. I don’t have a specific place that God is calling me to, like he does some people, but I would love to do something like that in the future.
Moving on to rule #3: Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.
1. Since this is a blogging award, what are the reasons you started your blogging adventure?
2. Who/where/what do you want to be one year from now?
3. How do you “get away from it all” and relax when you need to?
4. What is one bad habit you have that affects the people you love?
5. Do you have a guilty pleasure? If so, what?
6. If you were doing the job you dreamed of doing when you were 17, what job would you be doing?
7. If you could choose one place in the whole world to live for the rest of your life, where would it be?
8. Do you have something in your life that deserves less of your attention? If so, what?
9. What is your favorite line from a song or movie?
10. What book(s) are you reading right now?
11. What is the most adventurous thing you have ever done?
Alright, people. Drumroll, please! *announcer voice* And the nominees for the December 6th, 2012 Liebster blog award are:
Alright! I think I covered everything! Thanks, Ashley, for the nomination! If you haven’t already, check out her blog at the link above. She is a fantastic writer and she, unlike me, is dedicated to her blog and updates it everyday! That is a big job!

A healthy side dish: roasted red potatoes

I must say…I have been eating very healthy since I’ve been here in Arizona.  Partly to get back to my pre-baby weight, which has been reached and even beyond that! And the other part, the big one, is that I want to be healthy.  The funny thing that I’ve found about eating healthy all of the time is that you come to despise the thought of unhealthy, processed foods.  Maybe it’s just me (and Debbie, my mother-in-law), but the thought of a big, greasy cheeseburger sided with greasy fries makes my stomach turn. All of that oil would just weigh me down and make my stomach hurt.

One of the sides that I have been making a lot lately is roasted red potatoes.

I love experimenting with different fresh herbs and spices. These were tossed in about 6 tlbs of olive oil, sea salt, pepper, fresh rosemary, fresh thyme, and a little bit of paprika. They turned out amazing, however I didn’t get a picture of them after they were cooked because we gobbled them up so fast!

Just pop them into a 425 degree F oven and roast for about 35 minutes. So yummy and a very healthy alternative to things like mashed potatoes (that would normally be loaded down with butter and sour cream) or french fries.

Roasted Rosemary Potatoes

3lbs red potatoes, quartered

6 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1 tablespoon paprika

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and toss potatoes. Once they are coated well with the mixture, spread the potatoes out on a large baking sheet lined with foil. Roast for about 35 minutes.

Before I wrap this up, I’d like to take a trip to Cutesy-ville!

Six and a half month old Milo jumping in his Jumperoo! Love this sweet baby.

Poor Kitsune has really taken a back seat ever since Miles was born, but I still make time for snuggles with my fur-baby.

Tomorrow is FRIDAY! Whoo-hoo!

Dogs 101 – Shiba Edition!

I was watching a show on Animal Planet today called Dogs 101.  It covers 3 or 4 breeds of dogs in one show, and while they don’t cover ALL of the important characteristics of each breed, they do a good job of telling the audience what kind of household the dog would do best in, grooming requirements, and how easy or hard it is to train the breed.  Here is the one for the Shiba:

 

They did forget to mention a very important part of the Shiba’s life: blowing it’s coat – TWICE A YEAR! I think it’s a big enough event to mention and could possibly deter people from getting this breed.  Their hair literally falls off for about two weeks straight, two times a year. You can just grab handfuls of hair, sweeping is non-stop and they start to look like they have mange. It’s a big job. They also didn’t mention the “shiba scream”.  That is one of the most entertaining thing about these babies! Whenever I put Kitsune’s harness on him (and he knows he’s going for a run) he lets out this scream over and over. It’s so cute…and loud, but mostly cute. He also does it when he’s playing with other dogs or chasing his tail, which he does a lot.  Another thing is that they are very prey driven dogs, and will run away.  Yes, they are loyal, but when they are on something’s trail, they block out everything (your desperate pleas to come back, screaming, crying, etc…) to chase whatever it is down and catch it.  It’s very scary and Kit always has to have a leash on if he’s not in an enclosed area.  Last thing, on the video they say that Shiba’s don’t really like strangers, but Kit loves everyone new who  walks through the door, particularly the ladies.  He does his shiba scream, his little ears fall back and he goes crazy when people come over. It’s so adorable.  That’s all for today!

Kitsune!! (kit-soo-nay)

Magic Coconut Pie

Today was another beautiful day in Shepherdsville, Ky.  It was about 60 degrees F today and the sun was shining all day! I managed to snap a few photos of the dogs playing in the yard.

Keiko!

Kitsune, watching the road..just waiting for his chance.

Spanky, the Fine Gentleman, guarding the yard from disgusting felines.

"Hey Spanks, dude, you smell AWESOME!"

"Mmmm..these might be good enough to eat, since I eat EVERYTHING in sight!"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So anyway, on to the pie:

I was flipping through the March edition of Food and Wine magazine and came across a recipe called “Impossible Pie”.  Apparently it is Jennifer Nettle’s Great-Grandmother’s recipe and she calls it impossible because it seems to form a crust all on its own. Sounds more like “mystery pie” to me, however, that could possibly put people off. So, I decided to call it “Magic Coconut Pie” and change one of the ingredients simply because I thought it would be fun. It was so good. Very buttery and coconutty and custardy!

See the magic crust?

I had a small piece just before dinner, you know, to make sure it was okay.

I really enjoyed photographing this pie. It was very easy to work with, a great model. Not one complaint from the little pac man mouth I made.

Here is the recipe:

1 stick unsalted butter, melted, plus a little more for greasing the pie pan

1  3/4 cups sugar

4 large eggs

1/2 cup self-rising flour

2 cups sweetened shredded coconut

2 cups buttermilk (the original called for regular milk, but I had buttermilk, so guess what..)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and butter two nine inch pie dishes.

In a large bowl, whisk the melted butter and sugar together. Add the eggs and mix well, until smooth. Stir in flour, coconut and buttermilk. Divide mixture between two pie dishes and bake in oven on the lower rack for about an hour or until the top is firm and golden. Cool completely before serving. (I bent this rule and had a piece while it was still warm: best idea today, besides making this pie, of course.)