Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Maple Hill Hop 40

Maple Hill Hop

Welcome to 
The Maple Hill Hop,
where we share posts about the outdoors!
What in the world is happening outside where you are?

This past weekend we decided to visit some yard sales
in nearby Lake Wales.
It's too hot to do much outdoors here in summertime,
but we got out early.

Wouldn't you know, the first one we found had plants for sale.
This guy had some of the most unique plants.
He showed me the extensive landscaping he'd done
on this little cottage.
He and his mom have quite the green thumb.
We chatted about gardening for a good, long time.

On another block close by,
we spied this chicken sign in someone's yard.
It represents this homeowner supporting the recent
"backyard chicken initiative" program we talked about here.
Go, chickens!

On our rounds, we stopped by Struthers,
to load up on local honey.
It's used to make my new favorite drink, honey lemonade.
Nothin' like it.

We enjoy supporting our local honey supplier.

No treasures were found,
but it was great gettin' out there
and spending time together.

What have you been doing outside?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Real Simple Mac-N-Cheese

On occasion, I enjoy reading the magazine,
Real Simple,
as I have a passion for organization.
Their motivating organizing articles 
and streamlining techniques for household tasks
fill my heart with joy.  Really.
The same simplified philosophy is evident in their recipes.

Their cookbook was ordered from the library,
and we've been enjoying a few of the simple recipes.
This one's a keeper.

***One exciting note-if you're at all familiar with past recipes posted here, you know that I usually have to substitute dairy milk with rice or almond milk.
It's recently been discovered that I can indeed tolerate cow's milk,
so I have been savoring all things dairy!
(Yes, this includes loads of chocolate ice cream!)

Macaroni and Cheese
(Real Simple Meals Made Easy)
1 lb. elbow macaroni (any type will do)
5 T unsalted butter
1/2 C  flour
6 C whole milk
3 1/2 C grated Cheddar cheese
3 t kosher salt (*see note)
1 C dry bread crumbs
1/4 C fresh flat-leafed parsley, finely chopped
1/4 C olive oil
1/4 t pepper

Cook macaroni according to package directions.
Meanwhile, melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat.
Slowly, add flour and cook, stirring constantly for 3 minutes.
Add milk in steady stream and cook 7 minutes.
Add Cheddar and 2 t of the salt, and cook 5 minutes, then remove from heat.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Grease a large casserole with additional butter and place cooked noodles inside.
Pour cheese sauce over macaroni.
In a small jar, mix together parsley, breadcrumbs, oil, pepper and remaining salt.
Sprinkle over casserole.
Bake uncovered, about 25 minutes.

*Note:  We found the recipe a bit salty, 
so next time we will reduce the salt to 1 1/2 t total.



Thursday, July 17, 2014

Fire-Starting Fatwood

Have you ever heard of Fatwood?
I hadn't either until my farmer friend Lynn told me about it.
This past weekend, when I was working with him,
he explained a little bit about it.

This is Fatwood.
It is wood that comes from the trunk of a dead pine tree.
Once the tree dies, the resin saturates the trunk,
which is what makes it burn so easily.

This long-leaf pine, dead for years, toppled recently
during a fierce windstorm.

Other types of pines can also provide Fatwood.
It can be found anywhere older conifers have been living.
Hunters, hikers and nature lovers have spotted it all over the country.

Lynn showed me how he divides the pieces into
manageable shims for burning.

Using the top of one of the logs,
he places the wedge flat, and slices portions off,
working in a circular direction.

Each slice is then trimmed into stakes about 1-inch thick.

A few of these on a camping trip would be more than ample
for all of your fire starting needs.
This stuff burns quickly and lasts a good, long time.

Bonfire, anyone? 

We were first introduced to this fantastic resource here.
You can read more about Fatwood here

SchneiderPeeps - Simple Lives Thursdays Link Up


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Maple Hill Hop 39

Maple Hill Hop

Welcome to 
The Maple Hill Hop,
where we share our outdoor posts, 
no matter the season.
Grab the button and join on in!

Last week we shared our adventure with these visitors
to our deed-restricted suburban neighborhood,
where the HOA tries to run your life
livestock is not permitted.

Neighbors had noticed them criss-crossing the street,
going from yard to yard scratching for juicy morsels
in the way of bugs, worms and other underground treats.

I knew it was just a matter of time before someone called the paddy wagon
to come and pick them up.
We enjoyed watching them forage in our yard,
knowing that since we don't use chemicals,
they'd have a safe place to find some scrumptious fare.

The experience also helped me visualize 
what our life will be like
when we have chickens of our own.
I think this is God's way of telling me
to hang in there, it won't be long now.
It's been difficult having our house on the market,
then off, and now deciding to put it back on
so that we can move forward with our plans to relocate further north
and find a place where chicks are part of the neighborhood landscape.

This whole adventure was so timely.
Just the week before, 
I had listed some plants I had to give away
on Craig's List.
I had over 20 responses to the ad.
What are the chances that the woman I chose to call back first
has chickens, among other critters on her farm?
So, when I couldn't get the chickens corralled,
who do you think I called?

It took two days,
but after following Ms. Rita's suggestions,
I lured the chicks into the patio with bread.
There they stayed safe-n-sound until she came to get them.

Even Lil' Guy, who is usually quite leery about new experiences,
enjoyed watching their antics.
I have to say, never having been close to chickens,
I was quite proud that I managed to wrangle two of the three myself.

Ms. Rita said that they were a bit on the thin side,
so she will remedy that ASAP.
I'm so glad that they ended up here,
and knowing they will have a loving home made it easier to say goodbye.

Ms. Rita even invited us to come and visit them,
as her farm is in the next town.
Thankfully, there are folks like Ms. Rita 
who have enough love in their hearts to care for critters
who are injured or have been abandoned.
What a generous soul she is.
Blessings, chickies!

What's going on outside where you are?