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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Pressed Flower Ornaments

Last fall during the first few weeks of using Oak Meadow's First Grade Curriculum, we pressed what very little flowers were left in our garden and have kept them tucked away in a book not really knowing what to do with them. Recently I came across the most beautiful tutorial found at Twig and Toadstool for pressed flower ornaments as well as a wonderful recipe for white clay (which I'll be using more of in the future) and despite being nowhere near Christmas, I needed to make these pretties STAT! 
Here's what you'll need:


  • 1 cup of baking soda
  • 1/2 cup of corn starch 
  • 3/4 cup of warm water
  • Rolling pin
  • Pressed flowers
  • Mod Podge
  • Paint brush
  • String or Twine
Directions:
First you need to start off by making your white clay following the directions below.
In a medium sauce pan, combine the baking soda and corn starch, then add the warm water. Over medium heat mix all of the ingredients.  
Bring the mixture to a boil. Stir constantly.
The clay will begin to bind and pull away from the sides of the pan.  When the clay begins to resemble play dough, remove the pan from the heat and allow the clay to cool.  
Next you will shape and bake your ornaments.  
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees. 
Once the clay has cooled, kneed the clay, form it into a ball and roll the clay out on a flat surface using your rolling pin, about 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch in thickness.  

Once the clay is rolled flat, cut out your circles by using a round cookie cutter or the top of a mason jar (which is what we used).  
Place the cut-outs on a lined baking sheet and create a hole in the top using a straw (we used a skewer).
Bake your ornaments for about 1 hour at 200 degrees and allow to cool before decorating.  
Lets Decorate! 
After your ornaments have fully cooled, brush a thin layer of Mod Podge over the top. 
Before the Mod Podge has a chance to dry, carefully place the dried flowers on top. It helps to have a set of tweezers for this. Once the flowers are in place, carefully brush a second layer of Mod Podge over the top of the ornament and set aside to dry. Once the Mod Podge has dried you can string your ornaments.  We used twine, but fishing wire or a thin string would work as well! 





We are days away from spring and have no tree to hang these beauties from at the moment, so the kids and I found a nice branch outside and strung it up in the front window to hang our ornaments from.  

Don't forget to press your flowers this fall, come Christmas they will be ready to be turned into beautiful ornaments and will make such a wonderful gift for those that you love!  

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Pumpkin Bird Feeders


We had one itty bitty pumpkin left from last years garden and we finally decided to gut it so that we could save the seeds to plant next year.  Instead of throwing out the shell, we made these simple little pumpkin bird feeders! Here's what you will need to make them.
  • A pumpkin, orange, grapefruit, et. cut in half and cleaned out. 
  • Two wooden skewers 
  • Twine 
  • Bird seed

  1. Pierce the skewer through one side of the pumpkin into the other, one on top of the other. 
  2. Tie the twine on one of the skewers, opposite sides of each other. 
  3. Fill with bird seed and hang! 



Monday, March 16, 2015

Handwriting Practice with "Storage Bottles"

Handwriting can be a bit tedious so today we switched it up, went outside and used these super cheap bottles that I found at Harbor Freight filled with water to practice writing letters.  Simple and a great way to involve multiple senses for better memory retention.  




Reuben Omelette



Ingredients:
  • 3 eggs, beaten  
  • 3 slices of turkey or corned beef, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sauerkraut 
  • 3 tablespoons french dressing
  • 3 sliced of swiss cheese 
Directions: 

So, this is pretty simple.... 
  1. Turn the broiler on in your oven (or toaster oven if you have one).
  2. In a medium pan over medium heat, sauté the turkey/corned beef and sauerkraut until browned. 
  3. Depending on how you like your omelettes, you can either pour the eggs over the top of the sauerkraut and turkey/corned beef or in a separate pan you can cook the eggs and add the fillings later.  
  4. Cook the eggs and flip.  Alternatively you can cook the eggs on one side, and add the pan to the over to cook the top.  I prefer this method because it makes for a perfect omelette but is a little more time consuming. 
  5. Once the omelette has cooked on both sides, spoon the french dressing onto the eggs (and add the turkey/corned beef and sauerkraut mixture if you cooked them in a separate pan).  Fold the omelette in half and arrange the slices of swiss cheese over the top.  
  6. Place the pan inside of your oven for about 5 minutes, or until the cheese has melted on top.  
  7. Enjoy! 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Mother Nature News Article


Mother Earth News just named Our Little Coop as one of 11 Fascinating Farm Blogs!  We feel pretty honored.  Thank you MNN!

You can find the entire article HERE.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Tap My Trees Maple Sugaring Starter Kit GIVEAWAY


The giveaway for the Tap My Trees Maple Sugaring Starter Kit has begun!

The Prize:
One lucky winner will receive a Maple Sugaring Starter Kit compliments of Tap My Trees.  This starter kit includes everything you will need to tap up to three maple trees.  You will receive:
  • 3 Aluminum Buckets 
  • 3 Metal Lids
  • 3 Stainless Steel Spiles
  • 3 Hooks
  • Maple Sugaring at Home book
  • Drill Bit 
  • Cheesecloth 

For more information detailed information about this kit, please click here.  

The giveaway begins NOW and will end 3/6/2015 at 12:00 am central time.  

 Enter below for your chance to win! Good luck! 



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, February 26, 2015

March 2015: Click-a-Day Photo Challenge



Welcome to the Click-a-Day Photo Challenge! 
 For those that have never done a photo challenge, it is simple! 

The Unofficial Rules:
  • Each month there will be a list.  
  • Every day you will take a photo using the list to inspire you.
  • After you have taken your photo,  post your photo to Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram using the hashtag #clickadaychallenge
  • Happy clicking! 

To see other participants photos, simply click or search using the hashtag #clickadaychallenge 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tap My Trees "Maple Sugaring Starter Kit" - Kevin's review

If you only read one article on making maple syrup, read this one.  I promise everything you need to know is contained in the included content.  






I am very excited to be sharing "Tap My Trees" with our readers!

If you are not already making your own maple syrup at home or with your classroom you are really, really missing out.

A few years ago I stumbled onto the whole maple syrup making at home thing and gave it a shot.  Like any other endeavor, I spent hours upon hours researching products, looking for one that I could afford from a reputable site.  I quickly found myself overwhelmed but before giving up, I grabbed my cordless drill, a short length of 1/2" pvc, a utility hook, and a plastic bucket. As luck would have it, I struck gold (well not exactly... but I had collected a lot of maple sap in a very short amount of time).  I will never forget running in to the house to grab Emily and the kids and dragging them outside to witness the very first sign of Spring!  We were going to be making the most delicious PURE maple syrup ever.

Here is what I quickly learned:

  • Collecting sap and making maple syrup is addicting.
  • Collecting sap and making maple syrup is contagious.
  • You will find yourself spotting out potential maple trees to tap at your family, neighbors and friends house all year.
  • "Sugaring" is the proper terminology.
  • The sugaring season is WAY TOO SHORT!
  • Everything in one site www.tapymytrees.com
But most importantly:

  • EVERY DROP OF SAP COUNTS.

Every single drop of sap counts. What is lost to overflow or not making it into the bucket, does not result in syrup.  

Everything you need to know about making maple syrup is included in this simple to understand book,  included in the kits available only from www.tapmytrees.com.
*Remember Joe put together this kit with educating children in mind.
 

Tap My Trees LLC. is not only a company providing amazing and affordable kits at a reasonable cost, they are very dedicated in educating those who are interesting in the maple syrup making process.  Their owner Joe McHale was kind enough to send us one of the Maple Sugaring Starter Kits to review and will also be donating a Maple Sugaring Starter Kit for a Give-away in the VERY near future.  

Here is what is included in the "Starter Kit"

Tap My Trees Maple Sugaring Kit

Unboxing the Maple Sugaring Starter Kit.


Everything comes conveniently packaged in one box and is individually wrapped.

Everything needed to collect sap is included,  except for a cordless drill and a tree!

3 - Aluminum (2 gallon) buckets are included in this kit.

3 - Metal lids are included, which help to prevent rain, snow, and debris from falling in to the buckets while collecting sap.

Everything is excellent quality, or as I like to call it, "heirloom quality."

The beautiful stainless steel spiles included in this kit will outlast my kids, kids.

The quality of this kit is truly amazing and much better than I had expected.  This kit is it.  Im done.  No more messing around with plastic buckets, pvc pipe, or utility hooks.  At the end of the season I will wash these components out and put them up in the rafters of the garage anxiously awaiting the next sugaring season.  

Lets face the facts.  If something is difficult to do, we are quickly robbed of a potentially great experience.  Children have short attention spans and are not going to wait while you figure out how to efficiently collect sap.  Trust me.  The maple sugaring season doesn't last forever unfortunately but the experience surely will.  My family is greatly appreciative to now be able to throw on our coats, grab this kit, go outside and start collecting sap.  While the buckets begin to fill with the sugary goodness, we will sit down and again read Joe's book about sugaring in anticipation for what should be the most enjoyable maple syrup season yet!


A couple of noteworthy mentions:

Tap My Trees stainless steel maple sugaring funnel
I was unable to find this through the website and will update this as it becomes available.  This is not a "needed" item due to the fact the kit includes cheesecloth.  I was fortunate enough to find this at our local Farm and Fleet store in the "Tap My Trees section" and can tell you for the $8.00 it cost me, it will be well worth it.  This funnel or the cheesecloth is used to filter out any bark or debris that makes its way past the lid and into your sap before you boil it.  

Tap My Trees syrup bottles or small canning jars.
Don't forget a few glass jars (or more) to store your maple syrup in.  Jars of pure maple syrup your family has made also make great gifts for friends and family.

Photo Credit: Tap My Trees site.  The Teachers Kit

Classroom teachers or homeschool parents:  Our kids get really excited about this lesson every year!  Joe offers a kit just for you which will include a lesson plan that is adaptable all the way up to high school.  




Preparation:

  • Identify your maple trees
  • Obtain the equipment needed to tap trees


Tapping Trees:

  • When to tap maple trees
  • Select maple trees to tap
  • Clean equipment
  • Gather equipment
  • Tap the tree
  • Hang the bucket and attach lid


Collect Sap and
Make Syrup:

  • Transfer sap from buckets to storage containers
  • Storing your sap
  • Process sap into maple syrup and other uses
  • When to stop collecting saps


Cleanup:

  • Remove spiles (taps), buckets, and lids from trees
  • Clean equipment
  • Store equipment for next year
Photo Credit: Tapmytrees.com

I found this handy little time line on the Tap My Trees website.

I'm out of space for now, but Im going to call this my part one of this article.  At the current time of this writing, we are almost but not quite into maple sugaring season as the daytime temperatures are still way below freezing.  In part two I am going to show you how simple the sap collecting process is.  I think you will be amazed.

But DO NOT WAIT FOR ME!  The maple sugaring season varies from state to state and only lasts for a short period of time as I have previously mentioned.  Here is the information so you can order your own kit and supplies:

www.TapMyTrees.com
All orders include a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee for one full year from date of purchase.
Email: info@tapmytrees.com
Mail: Tap My Trees LLC, 268 Simpaug Turnpike Suite 125, Redding, CT 06896
Toll Free Telephone: (888) 990-9948 
Fax: (888) 666-9120
Cheers! ~ Kevin

Saturday, February 21, 2015

And the winner of the Brinsea EcoGlow Brooder Giveaway is.....


Congratulations Amanda P! 
You are the lucky winner of a brand new Brinsea EcoGlow Brooder!  We have a feeling you will have some very happy and warm chicks this spring!  

We will be contacting you shortly! 

A huge THANK YOU to everyone who entered.  If you did not win and are interested in purchasing this or any other items from Brinsea, please visit www.brinsea.com  DONT FORGET to use the code COOP at checkout to receive 10% off your ENTIRE order.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks for playing!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Brinsea OvaView and OvaScope: Kevin's Review


Brinsea OvaView and OvaScope egg candle
Brinsea OvaView & OvaScope

**Buying a Brinsea product? Enter the word "COOP" at checkout and save 10%!!


Brinsea has "taken" the market once again with their OvaView and OvaScope! Gone are the days of cupping fragile eggs between your thumb and forefinger, while trying to perfectly position it in front of a flashlight to check for chick development.  The Brinsea OvaView in itself, is a great egg candling lamp.  When paired with the OvaScope, there is nothing that can compare.

Brinsea OvaView and OvaScope egg candle
Brinsea OvaView
The OvaView's sturdy structure measures 5" long x 3.3" wide x 1.3"high and weighs only 3 oz. The high efficiency LED bulb is powered by 4 AA batteries which Brinsea supplies with the unit.  The beauty of being an LED bulb opposed to an incandescent, is the obvious longevity of the product, and little or no concerns about overheating the eggs during candling.  In the package you will also find, detailed instructions, and a flexible rubber ring which holds itself around the light bulb socket to insure you have a proper seal with the egg so there isn't any light leaking around, which can hinder your viewing.  This model has a very good quality push button switch to turn the light on or off. 

Brinsea OvaScope

If you are buying the Brinsea OvaView, *DO NOT FORGET to order the OvaScope.  The OvaScope is a great compliment to the candling light.  It simply fits over the OvaView and firmly snaps into place allowing the viewer to observe the egg in daylight and at a slight magnification. Simply remove a side cover and place your egg into the holder and its "in the dark". Brinsea again has listened to its customers and has strategically added 2 nubs, on the sides of the scope, in which a web cam can be placed over the viewing hole and held in place with a simple rubber band. The OvaScope also has a handy little wheel that allows you to rotate the egg without having to remove the side cover. 




Brinsea OvaView and OvaScope egg candle
Brinsea OvaScope firmly snaps over the OvaView

Brinsea OvaView and OvaScope egg candle
Brinsea OvaScope side "egg door".

Brinsea OvaView and OvaScope egg candle
Serama chicken egg-Day 5 as seen through the Brinsea OvaScope

In conclusion, there is not a better egg candling device on the market.  I will never juggle a flashlight or goofy cardboard box concoction again.
Cheers! ~ Kevin

Contact:
Brinsea Products Inc.
704 N. Dixie Avenue
Titusville
Florida
FL 32796
USA

Phone (888) 667 7009
Web http://www.brinsea.com

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