Lies People Tell About Chickens, and the Joy of Good Friends

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Hello Bloggy friends!

 

I hope you are well and hearty ūüėÄ

 

Today something delicious happened to me. Yes, delicious.  I have to tell you!

 

But first, do you recall back in January, the very dear Heidi ( alias: Super Secret Agent Chicken Little), surprised the BB household with four chickens?

Chickens generate an enormous amount of fun. ¬†Chickens make great pets (here’s Bloss having a ball with them..)

 

 

They are relaxing to watch, they keep down weeds in the lawn,¬†they eat your left over veggie scraps and if all that weren’t enough for you, they also lay eggs.

But friends, there is a dark side to chicken ownership.  At least, there is if you believe every thing you read  about the purported benefits of chickens.  I have read times without number that chickens will keep down pests in your garden. That they will help fulfil your permaculture dreams. (Yes, I can hear everyone who has ever owned chickens, snickering.) And I am going to expose that claim for what it is: chicken propaganda.

Let me tell you the truth.

 

Chickens, those dear, sweet, relaxing-to-watch creatures, will wait until you are out, and they will EAT your garden.  They will DIG in your garden. They will DESTROY your garden.

Yessssirrreee.

Those sneaky girls will betray you.  If they survive that, they will openly defy you, and right under  your very nose,  will waltz up to your lettuce and eat it clean up.  Just. like. that.

And if that isn’t insult enough, they will abscond to your neighbour’s yard, the neighbours who haven’t given you a moments grief in all the years you’ve been neighbours, and decimate their pride and joy flower garden. ¬†It will happen. ¬†You can take it to the bank.

So, what’s a chicken owner to do? ¬†WELL. ¬†Cue the joy of having The Best Friends in the Whole World. ¬†And I do. ¬†And two of them came over today, and, in an act of something between mercy and insanity, they undertook to fence my chickens in.

 

 

With the help of five members of the BB household, I’m sure you can imagine what a task it was to achieve. ¬†As a bit of a hint… we are so accustomed to doing useful jobs such as fencing, that three of our number were wearing ankle length skirts. (Yes. We have never put up fences before. You live and learn!)

 

Not only did my very dear friends fence in my chickens and in many other ways improve my yard, but they came bearing gifts.. There were little butterfly cupcakes baked fresh this morning, and enough cut jasmine that every room in my house is perfumed.

 

I may have mentioned once or twice before, but it bears saying again…

 

I have the best friends in the world! ‚ô•

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Hairdos, History, and St Helena Island

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Hello Bloggy friends!

I have much to tell you.  HEAPS to tell you.  But the worst of it is that when we have a lot of adventures, there is little time to blog about them.

Here’s a quick peek at this weekend’s activities..

Off to a ball Friday night…

A couple of hours sleep, and it was time for the Abbey Tournament! ¬†If you haven’t been to a medieval fair….go! ¬†There is jousting, sword fighting, birds of prey, Turkish oil wrestling (yes! ūüėõ ), and.. and… one of the joys of my life.. a furrier! ¬†I thought that nothing in the world could be softer than the beaver pelt I became attached to last time we went. ¬†But! ¬†When dragging a bunch of friends there today to see why beaver fur is a great passion of mine, one of my friends had the sense to ask the lady stall holder if there is anything softer.

Oh. ¬†Friends. ¬†I want a chinchilla. ¬†I want a warm, live one to love and stroke, and conversely I’d like a bundle of them to wear. ūüėÄ

And because history is irresistible fun for us..  we recently went to St Helena Island.  If you are studying Australian History and you live in SE Qld, this is a great excursion.  Truly, this deserves a post all its own, but you may all have finished homeschooling before I get to it.  Have a look at Brisbane Bay Tours.  Brendan (the proprietor)  is very friendly, will transport you to the island,  provide a guided tour and a yummy lunch, and take you back all happy and exhausted.

You’ll see prison ruins..

There were wallabies about the ruins.. cute!

There is also a museum.

And.. one of the extra fun activities was feeding the fish at the end of the jetty before going home. The water is crystal clear, and we saw a couple of stingrays on the walk back to the boat, and some days you can see sharks.

And the good news? Brendan will offer a discount to homeschooling groups/families if you book during the quieter midweek time. ¬†Sweet? Yes! Oh, and I must say: wear comfy shoes for walking. And the kind of clothes that are sensible for getting on and off boats. Just saying… ¬†ūüėČ

That’s it for now folks. ūüėÄ

Hear Ye, Hear Ye! …or… Dead Easy Rag Curls.

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Bloggy friends!

Rejoice with me! ¬†My life just got easier. ūüėÄ

I now share with you the rag curl method that will make Regency Ball preparation fast and painless! (Um, painless for¬†me. ¬†That’s what counts. ūüėõ )

Ready?

Tear (or cut, if you feel civilized) a sheet into strips twice as long as the hair you want to curl.  The Chicklette has ridiculously long hair, so my pieces were.. ridiculously long.

Divide the hair into five or six big sections.  Brush, smooth, and spray each section as you go with a little styling lotion.  No need to wet all over.  Leave enough rag out to allow you to tie it off when you  finish winding, and ask someone to hold it firmly in place.  You can see I have borrowed the hand of the Miss 13 to hold the rag in place for me.

Wind the hair smoothly around the rag. By not overlapping the hair on itself, it will dry faster and produce an even curl.

Wind all the way to the end. ¬†Smoothing the hair around the rag (you don’t want the very last bit¬†crinkly!) flip the end of your rag back around the part you have just been winding, and¬†commence¬†winding the rag around the hair.

Keep going all the way to the top.  This gives you the two ends to tie together, and the rag wound back around the hair stops it getting all ruffled while your poor petal sleeps in it.

When you get back to the top, tie the two ends. ¬†You don’t¬†have¬†to tie it in a bow, I just couldn’t resist. ūüėÄ ¬†Because… how cute is this?!

Leave in over night. ¬†When you take them out, unwind carefully. ¬†You can separate each curl into two for a “more curls” look. If you attempt that and get a big,¬†foofy, fuzzy disaster, don’t panic. ¬†Brush the end of the particularly disastrous curl, and then wind it around your finger, encouraging it back in the direction it was wound the first time, and it will behave nicely. ¬†A little Anti-frizz serum or ends shine, or similar product, will help, but don’t over do it or your curl will soften too much.

This method doesn’t curl right to the roots of the hair, which is easier if you’re going for¬†an upstyle¬†– hooray! ¬†We weren’t as this was only¬†for¬†experimental purposes, ¬†so I added a bow. ¬†High is cute for little people, low is more suitable for older girls.

And that’s it folks. ¬†Toooooo¬†easy!

Chocolate: not just for breakfast anymore!

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Yes, Bloggy friends, it’s a chocolate so good for you, that you can eat it regularly, and guilt free.

You can! ¬†Honest! ūüėÄ

I have to thank my Mama ♥ for this new addiction recipe: she is a great experimenter!

Now.. before we go any further, I must preface this with saying I am a heavy Lindt dark chocolate user. ¬†If you’re a milk chocolate fan, you may want to try some of the tamer recipes out there using¬†condensed milk to sweeten. ¬†Or you could play around with this one and add more sweetener than I have.

I regularly use coconut oil and am happy with that taste, but if you and coconut oil are not well acquainted, try it with mostly butter first. ¬†It won’t be as good for you (don’t get me raving on the benefits of coconut oil!) but you can build up to it.

Here’s the list of so-spanking-good-for-you ingredients that even your weirdest, most alternate, sugar hatin’ , barley green eatin’, homeschooling friends won’t grimace at.

Ready? ūüėÄ

3/4 cup honey ( I use raw.. because it’s good for you! But any honey with a mild taste will do.)

stevia to taste (it’s not necessary: you can add more honey, but stevia adds a big punch of sweetness with zero calories. ¬†AND it contains nothing artificial. It’s a herb. ūüôā )

125 grams butter

1/2 cup coconut oil (now remember… if you don’t normally use it, add a couple of tablespoons, and make the rest of the measurement up with extra butter.)

1/2 cup cacao powder  (you can use more if you want a more chocolately taste, and this friends, is the beauty of this recipe: the amount of times you have to taste test it while making.  Glory!)

Almond meal. I used 125 grams, but you could add more.  It gives the mixture body, and almonds are yummy.

Mix the whole lot together. ¬†There is no need to warm it, even, if room temperature has your coconut oil runny and your butter soft. ¬†If it’s cold, or you are impatient, then warm in a double boiler enough that you can blend the ingredients. ¬†It doesn’t need to cook in any way, it’s only necessary ¬†to make the ingredients blend.

And now for the fun part… ¬†(um… that would be more taste testing! ūüėõ )

Here you add whatever grabs your fancy.  I *adore* peanut butter.  So, if I have it on hand, I add great wads of peanut butter to the mix.  Oh, but not that stuff you buy in the supermarket that has no taste.  If you go to the health food shop (unless you are a REAL die-hard homeschooler and have your own super juicer that makes nut butters..  or you can just go to the health food shop as I do) they will grind it fresh while you wait, to the texture you specify.

Toasted, flaked almonds tossed in at the end are great, too.

What is truly, ruly, delectable if you have no peanut butter, is throwing a large handful of macadamias into your food processor and adding those along with macadamia halves, to your glorious, chocolately, experiment. ¬†Then…taste, of course! You know, just to make sure there isn’t something else it needs…

You could try shredded coconut, dried fruit, any kind of nuts you fancy.

When you’re all done, pour it into a greased tray or Pyrex dish to set in the fridge. ¬†The texture will depend on what your ingredient¬†choices were, and it will come out more like a fudge than a hard commercial chocolate. ¬†If it is not perfect for you, if it needs more¬†sweetening, or less sweetening, or to have more texture, melt it down in a double boiler (or a bowl over hot water) until it is liquid again, and adjust!

Friends, experiment with me! ūüėÄ

Bounty!

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Hello, Bloggy friends!

My garden grew. ūüėÄ

Here is December 5th, 2011.

Here is January 1st, 2012.

This week, we have been eating our corn. ¬†We couldn’t help all feeling a little surprised that we planted corn, and … well, that it worked. ūüėÄ

Some of the other things, (see those lush looking Chinese cabbages?) didn’t work so well. ¬†They grew, of course, but (shhh… it was very un-homeschooler-ish of me not to research properly!) it was the wrong time of year for them. ¬†Being far too wet and hot, they looked scrumptious on the outside, but were rotting on the inside. ¬†Completely unlovely of them. I’ve gone right off Chinese cabbages.

I was mildly concerned about my gardening. ¬†Once, I thought I wanted to be a farmer. ¬†Then I spent quite a bit of time on a farm. ¬†ūüėČ

Would the idea of growing my produce be more appealing than the reality?  I have been known to get a lot more excited about the planning of something than the eventuality.

The garden has, despite my inexperience resulting in a few disasters, been a deeply satisfying, somewhat addictive project.  Today the Chicklette and I have discussed what to pull up and discard (capsicums are very prone to pests.  Currently we are growing them only to feed the bugs!) and what we should plant instead.

We’re thinking a LOT of snow peas: everyone adores to eat them straight from the bush. And sliverbeet. And pumpkin. ¬†Have you tried homegrown pumpkin? ¬†It is not only enormously flavoursome, but easy to cut.

But of course this time we will check that those things are in season to grow, and not assume that just because the nursery is selling seedlings, it must the right time for them.

Bloggy friends, if you don’t have a veggie garden, you should experiment. ¬†There are many things you can grow in pots if you want to start small. It’s fun. Honest! ¬†You should try. ūüėÄ

School’s In! (or.. homeschool for highschool)

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People who don’t homeschool have always assumed that I wouldn’t dare homeschool for highschool. ¬†Surely not!?

I dare.

What’s more, for those of you not there yet, be assured it is a very natural extension of schooling the primary grades, and my excess of panic about covering everything was all for nought.

My conflict has always been how to do all the things we had to do, yet still have time for the things that first influenced me to choose homeschooling Рabundant time for music, art, reading, and a long list of things I consider no childhood is complete without.

It is ridiculously easy to make up the amount of credits required to complete senior, if that is your goal.  So ridiculously easy, in fact, that if I gave the Chicklette the same workload she has had for the previous three years of highschool, she would have nothing to do next year.

Joy! ¬†We have time in the next two years to do some of the ¬†delicious, “not required by the education board” type things.

The year 11 schedule (unless I change my mind again!) includes…

Economics in One Lesson, by Henry Hazlitt.

(Read a chapter per sitting, take note of important points, attend weekly meeting with local businessman {her Da!} to discuss how world view and political persuasion effect our view of economic policy.)

With follow-up resources from Homeschool Economics if there is further interest in the subject.

Subscription to the following:

Australian Conservative

(Read, summarise, narrate!)

Salt Shakers newsletter – A little introduction to political activism.

¬†SAT question a day: This is just plain fun. ¬†(Honest! You should try it. ¬†There is even an iPhone app ūüėÄ )

Maths – Algebra II, using ACE paces.

Science – Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Physics. ¬†We haven’t used this curriculum before, but if it proves worthy, will follow it with the Chemistry book next year. ¬†If it is not clear and well written, there is a wealth of teaching available at Khan Academy¬†that we may use as a back up.

English РParticipation in nanowrimo;  regular, on-demand, timed essays using SAT prompts (available prolifically online); our general reading schedule continued, peppered with some thought-provoking novels introduced for discussion.

Latin – Henle. ¬†After Prima Latina, Latina Christian I, and Latina Christiana II, it’s on to Henle. ¬†She didn’t look excited. It’s only a year. ¬†She’ll live.

Logic – After Traditional Logic I with Martin Cothran, it surely makes sense to do Traditional Logic II, Advanced Formal Logic? ¬†This elicited nothing but groans from the Chicklette. ¬†Sigh. ¬†No sense of adventure! ¬†(Perhaps I will soften on that one.. have to wait and see… )

Music – Aim to finish AMEB grade six exams by the end of next year.

Art РContinuing our Art in the Park activities, with the difference that I will be requiring the Chicklette to complete the lesson before hand and facilitate the class on a regular basis, thus providing her with opportunity to  hone her public speaking skills, her time management skills, and her confidence leading a group.

Once a week she’s off to work in the office with her Da. ¬†It’s been a practice for her to tag along for a couple of years now and make herself useful after she’s finished her school work. ¬†Somehow, though, now that she looks old enough to go, it’s hard to watch her leave. ¬†Childhood is fleeting!

And that’s it, folks.

Unless I change my mind.

Again.

Hope your year is off to a great start. ¬†If you’re feeling that you haven’t quite recovered from last year and the holiday festivities, and if school looks overwhelming and undo-able, and the thought of another year of it makes you shudder…. read! ¬†Start school a few days late and read a stirring read aloud to the children (one you like, or you’ll never see it through!), or read a bunch of inspiring homeschool articles on-line, or dust off those Above Rubies mags… ūüėÄ

Anything to remind yourself why you are sitting home chanting the times tables with your dear children while your peers are out sipping lattes and taking yoga classes.

You can do it! ‚ô•

p.s. If none of that helps, and you still feel like hiding in bed with a bit of fluffy chick lit and a bag of baci kisses, then take heart: homeschooling can’t last forever. xx

The Bright Side

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Bloggy friends..  I have many things to tell you!

 

Does anyone recall (ahem!) me mentioning in a previous post that I have the best bloggy friends in the world? ¬†You may…. vaguely recall..me asserting such a thing?

 

It’s true! ūüėÄ

 

Last week I had the enchanting, amusing, charming experience of meeting Mr Richard Stevens. Richard is associated with the dainty Rustique Rose tea room at Laidley, the scene of one of our adventures last year.

What’s so special about Mr Stevens? ¬†Well! ¬†Apart from the pleasure of listening to his well modulated voice, (though we couldn’t convince him to sing for us!), and apart from his wit and sparkling conversation, Mr Stevens came bearing gifts.

The image above is from an autograph book of ¬†a young lady attending teachers college in (British colonised) India in the early 1900’s, and was one of the treasures Mr Stevens has left in my charge. ¬†Among other things was a scrapbook of collected “pretty” things – poems, cards, pictures etc.

But by far the most exciting discovery for me was the following pages..

 

 

 

 

 

The first time I read about the funeral for the “Unknown Soldier”, I cried. ¬†I, generally something of a stoic, wept at the thought of the collective pain of the families whose menfolk were left on foreign fields, but more so at the astounding beauty and mercy of the idea of a state funeral that could be, for each person attending, ¬†in honour of their lost.

 

Imagine my wonder at finding newspaper clippings on just that very subject among the collections of  fancy dress plates and society pictures the young lady had pasted into her book.  My very own source of primary history on a subject dear to my heart!

 

And because all the joyful happenings of my life seem to come in bundles, just a day later I met with another bloggy friend, who also came bearing gifts!

 

Super Secret Agent Chicken Little (alias, Heidi: ¬†some of you may remember Heidi? ūüėÄ ) came with her family to visit ours! ¬†After staying at her house, swapping all sorts of interesting things through the mail, and having her as part of my blogging community for some years, I can finally report that she is real. ¬†Yes, folks, Heidi is no longer an invisible friend. ¬†ūüėČ

And in a conspiracy that only girls with pluck would attempt, we managed to surprise Mr BB and the Chicklettes with … four chickens! ūüėÄ ¬† Have I mentioned Mr BB likes surprises? ¬†He (cough!) certainly looked surprised.

I really like chickens. ūüėÄ

 

Here’s one being adored by Miss 9.

 

It’s a joyful business meeting up with special people.

I am very blessed!

 

 

 

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