I Think I’ll Keep the Bite Marks #TBCcrafters

Do remember when you were pregnant and you wanted to buy all the very best stuff for your little one to come? I do. I remember spending hours comparing cribs on the internet and spending weeks visiting stores to “try them out” so I was sure to get the very best one to keep my baby safe at night. After all of my dedication and research I finally found the one that I thought was superior. I set it up in the nursery and imaged how peaceful my baby would be sleeping there in that superior crib. Haha! Yes, I can hear all the moms out there laughing at me right now. You are right. Instead of my daughter sleeping peacefully in her crib, it ended up that I was too scared to let her sleep in it. I could not hear her well from my room and I wanted to be able to wake up and see her. So the superior crib made the nursery look beautiful but she ended up sleeping in a pack in play next to my bed where she was in arms reach.  

Next my son came along. Having high hopes for this one sleeping on his own I set up the brand new crib again in his nursery. This time I was prepared to have him sleep on his own. Then he didn’t. He wouldn’t. He downright refused to sleep without being held. So he too ended up in moms room and to be quite frank, he still wont leave. There was one day, however, that I really tried to train him to sleep in his crib. I placed him in there and using the advice I read in a book I let him “cry it out”. Now the “superior crib” has bite marks in its pretty white paint. 馃檪 
However, even though my kids barely used this crib it still has memories attached to it for me. Plus, it cost a lot of money so I want to get SOME use out of it. And now that the kids are a bit older and definitely not going to be using it we have decided to turn the old crib into something really useful, a desk. My kids love to play on our computer and they love to color and create art. This seemed like a perfectly good idea for a re purpose project. You know how I love those! 
It was actually quite an easy process from crib to desk. First, we removed one side railing and all of its hardware. I am planning on using the discarded rail as a trellis in my garden. The rest of the crib remained set up as usual. We brought the base all the way up to the top holes so the kids legs had room to fit underneath while they were sitting in chairs. The board that holds up the mattress was removed and re purposed as a chalk board back and we found an old piece of counter top which we cut down to fit as a desk top.  To finish the desk I found a set of aluminum hanging tubs to hold their markers, chalk and papers to keep the desk top clean. I am very excited by the finished project and the kids seem to adore it. What do you think?
Super glad I finally got to use the crib!
<3 Dick and Jane
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A Crafty Soiree

The 36th AVENUE



Stopping to Smell the Horses {WW LINKY}

Even though I am a stay at home mother I still feel like my days are rushed. On a typical day I wake up early to get my kids ready for school, run one off to one school, take the younger one to a pre-preschool time (which I have to stay and participate in), then off to grab lunch with the youngest, grocery shopping, come home to put the groceries away, clean up the house, go pick up the first one from school, come home and start dinner, give bathtubs and put them to bed. From morning to night, I have an agenda and keep moving. There is always something to be done.
 
Sometimes, however, in the rush of the day I am missing the real reason why we decided I would be a stay at home mom. I wanted to be a stay at home mother so I was able to give my kids my quality time and to be there for them so they always know they have someone to come home to (on top of all the chores I do, cuz moms do it all right?). So yesterday as we were rushing home from the grocery store to put things away I heard my son shouting from the back seat. “Oook Momma! Orse, Orse!” as he points out his window. To the left of our car was a field with two horses in it. In my rearview mirror I could see him struggling in his seat to see the horses out his window. So, even though I had melting ice cream in the trunk I decided to pull over and spend a few moments with my son starring at the horses. These couple of moments were the best spent moments of my day. He watched in amazement at the horses interacting with each other and laughed as one of the horses stuck his nose in a pile of mud. These are the moments that I chose to be a stay at home mother for. These are the moments we will remember.
 
However, as I began to think about it, while I was choosing to be a stay at home mother to benefit my children it has actually been a huge blessing for me in return. I can not ever remember a time before my children that I would pull over off the road just to look at horses. These small moments are amazing and wondrous. As you help your children grow and learn, they do the exact same for you in return. It is a beautiful circle.
 
Our Horses
 
This weeks Wordless Wednesday post is a feature of my favorite Instagram photo from the week proceeding. Not yet following me on Instagram? Join me at http://www.instagram.com/raisingdickjane

<3 Dick and Jane

 
 

Come Join Me in My Gardens {Happy Earth Day}

Yesterday was a beautiful day here in Michigan. The sun was shining, the weather was warming and I was excited to get out in my yard and plant some trees for earth day. Planting a tree together as a family has become a tradition of ours. It all began when our daughter brought home a small tree one day from her preschool earth day celebration. It was donated by a local nursery and we didn’t want to disappoint this small child holding a little spruce tree. So we quickly planted it and took every precaution to make sure it survived. We’ve cared for and watched this little spruce grow each year. I never imagined that this little tree would bring so much to our home. Not only has it brought a more beautiful landscape, but it has helped to build memories into our homestead. Every time I walk by that little tree I remember my sweet little preschooler who brought it home and the time we spent as a family planting and caring for it. Her little blonde hair, big eyes and chubby cheeks will live forever in that tree and in my memory.
This beautiful tree was planted the year we moved into our new house. It reminds me of the struggle we faced to get where we are now and how lucky we are to have family that loves us. This tree grows in beauty and size each year and has amazing intertwining branches just like families do.
This is the tree we just planted yesterday. It is a dwarf burning bush. The kids and I searched through the trees for what seemed like hours and finally found one that they wanted. (Sure, its a bush and not technically a tree, but that’s ok. . they finally picked one!!) We brought the “tree” home and after another decision making process of where to put it we all finally agreed that next to our barn was the perfect spot. While I was digging a hole the neighbor kids came over and asked to play. . so I sort of lost the interest from the kids in planting the tree to the fun of playing with their friends. Even though I ended up planting this tree all on my own, the tree will still hold memories for me. This little “tree” reminds me to cherish the time I have with them now, because they are getting bigger and they are starting to lead their own paths. I am trying to teach myself to let them go, let them grow up and experience things on their own. This is not an easy task for a mom, its scary. However it is scarier to me to have my kids growing up resenting me for all the things they missed out on. So this tree will forever remind me to “let go”.
To finish off our little tour, here is a picture of my butterfly house. No real reason, I just love it and think its cute.
Do you have any earth day traditions or things you do year round to help keep our planet clean? We’d love to have you share your ideas with us!
<3 Dick and Jane

One Pot Broccoli Pasta {My Fav Recipe}

This meal is perfect for those days when you just don’t feel like cooking, but still need to feed your kids a healthy meal. Its super easy, quick and can be customized to your families liking. I love just the vegetarian option, but my husband and kids love to add in either chicken or steak. Either way, this is a recipe you will want to try!
 
 
Broccoli Penne Pasta
 
Ingredients:
 
Penne Pasta
Bunch of Broccoli
2-3 Garlic Cloves
Olive Oil
1 Lemon
 
Directions:
1. Begin by bringing a large pan of water to boil on the stove.
2. Stir in a box of penne pasta.
3. When the pasta is slightly al dente add in your broccoli (cut into smaller pieces)
4. Cook until pasta and broccoli are ready, drain.
5. Return the pasta and broccoli to the pan and add your pressed garlic.
6. Cut your lemon in half and squeeze half of the lemon on top of the pasta.
7. Drizzle a few tablespoons of olive oil over the pasta and stir.
 
Tip: When squeezing your lemon keep the cut side facing up in your hands to help prevent seeds from falling into your pasta.
 
That’s it! I like to enjoy this meal vegetarian style, but if you like meat then you can serve it with some chicken or steak. Both make a great pairing with this pasta.
 
We just planted some broccoli in our garden and I cannot wait until we can make this using our own crop! What did you plant in your gardens this year?
 
<3 Dick and Jane

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Jam HandsSumo's Sweet Stuff

 

Couponing and Cooking

Sweet Anne Designs - Sweet Sharing Monday

Building a Terrarium with Your Kids #TBCcrafters

I don’t know about your kids, but mine are fascinated by the world and how it works. They love when we start our seeds in the garden and they can watch them sprout and grow. There is something “magical” about the wonder of seed sprouting. Unfortunately, it is hard for my kids to see what is happening when a seed goes from just a seed to a plant since this process takes place under the dirt out back in our garden. Since my kids were so interested in seed sprouting, Jane and I decided to create a small terrarium that we could keep indoors and watch the process from seed to plant. Creating a terrarium turned out to be a fun, easy and educational project that we just adored.
What is a terrarium?
ter路rar路i路um  (t-r芒rm)
n. pl. ter路rar路i路ums or ter路rar路i路a (-)
A small enclosure or closed container in which selected living plants and sometimes small land animals, such as turtles and lizards, are kept and observed.
What can my kids learn from planting a terrarium?
Terrariums teach kids about nature and how seeds go from a seed to a plant. Not only do terrariums teach kids about plant growth, but also about our ecosystem. Inside your container you will be creating an entire ecosystem for your plants to survive. There will be a water table, clouds, dirt, air and plants. This process can also teach your kids about recycling because we will be using an old single serve milk container for our terrarium. You can also use a water bottle or any other small clear bottle with a lid. A 2 liter pop bottle would also work.
You will need:
A small clean clear container
Small pebbles
Clean dirt (potting soil works great)
A spray bottle with water inside
Seeds (we used grass seeds)
A funnel
How to create your terrarium:
1. Begin by making sure your container has been cleaned out and air dried.
2. Fill the bottom of your container with small pebbles, about 1 inch in depth. You can talk with your kids about how the extra water will drain down from the dirt and store in the rocks until the plants need it. This is their water table.
3. Next add about 2 inches of dirt. Be sure not to let the dirt and rocks mix. The dirt needs to only layer on top of the rocks. (no shaking)
4. On top of the dirt, sprinkle your seeds. Grass seeds work great for this because they simple need to sit on top of the dirt and do not need to be buried.
5. Lastly, you will want to spray 3-4 squirts of water from a water bottle into the jar and replace the lid.
6. Place your terrarium in a sunny window.
That’s it! You have just created a small ecosystem for your plants to live in. Within a few days you will have some seeds sprouting up and your kids will be amazed. Remember to keep the lid on, place your container in a sunny window and your small ecosystem will do the rest. As long as you keep the lid on tight, you should not ever need water your terrarium.
<3 Dick and Jane
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Farm Girl Friday Blog Fest

{Another} Quesadilla Recipe – Mushrooms

 
Quesadillas are the poor boy’s meal in my home. Whenever I am out of groceries or don’t have anything to cook for dinner I will scavenge through my fridge and put whatever I can find into a quesadilla. This week, since our family has been plagued by the horrid stomach flu for two weeks, we don’t have much in the way of groceries. Now that the kids are feeling better I need to give them something to eat. I was able to forage some tortilla shells and mozzarella (which I ALWAYS have on hand), some mushrooms, onions and garlic. I decided to mix it all together and give it a try; it was surprisingly good! I started off by saut茅ing the onions and garlic together until caramelized. Then I added in the mushrooms and cook until heated through. Once the ingredients were hot I removed them from the heat and placed them in a bowl. In the same pan I added one flour tortilla and topped it with some mozzarella cheese. I then added a portion of my mushroom mixture and another tortilla shell. Once the bottom side is slightly browned, flip it over and heat the top side. Once both sides are toasted, remove it from the heat and serve with sour cream. Its yummy!
 
What are you favorite things to add to your quesadilla? Get creative and let us know! Check out my other quesadilla recipe here: Very Veggie Quesadilla
 
 
MUSHROOM ONION QUESADILLAS
 
Ingredients:
 
Flour Tortillas
Mozzarella Cheese
Sliced Mushrooms
Onion – Chopped
1-2 Cloves of Garlic
 
Directions:
 
1. Add 2 TBS of olive oil to a pan on med-high heat.
2. Add onion and garlic to pan and saut茅 until caramelized.  
3. Add mushrooms and stir until heated through.
4. Remove from heat and pan.
5. Place one flour tortilla in pan and reduce heat to med-low.
6. Top tortilla with a handful of mozzarella cheese and mushroom mixture. Top with another tortilla shell.
7. Slightly brown each side and serve.
<3 Dick and Jane锘

Upcycle Gardening #TBCcrafters

 
This year I am super excited to get my garden going, more so than other years for some reason. I don’t know if its been just because the winter was so long, or if its because I am finally starting to find my “niche” in the gardening world? Years past I would spend a fortune each spring buying plants, pots, dirt, etc.. You know how it goes. This year, I had a ah-ha moment and decided to start using items which could be considered trash items to remake my garden into an artistic space. I also started all of my plants from seeds using a recycled greenhouse method. It might be just that as I get closer to nature and put more effort into my garden space the more I enjoy it. Not sure.

I have several projects that I am working on for my garden, but with the weather still not cooperating this is the only one I have done so far. So, I will just share them as we go along during the next couple of weeks. For this project I used old wooden crates that I found in my garage to create a layered planter. I really wanted to use this planter for strawberries, but I am concerned about the spray paint that is on them seeping into the dirt and effecting my produce.
 
I was lucky to have crates already made that I could just fill with dirt and stack them on top of each other, but I was thinking. . this would be easy to make with pallets as well. Pallet crafts are gaining in popularity and I know several DIYers who have pallets stacked up in their garages. lol. So if you are one of those pallet hoarders, share with us if you created this project using them. Id love to hear how it turns out. If you don’t have pallets laying around, I bought these crates a few years back at Michaels craft store. However, I have seen them there still just a few weeks ago.
 
 
I cant wait to show you the planter full of plants! I will have to do an update in a few months when the weather turns and my plants can be transplanted outside. Can you help me decide what to plant in them? Will the spray paint on the wood affect my produce or should I just stick with flowers? Comment with your answer.
 
Beyond just planters there are so many projects I have “up my sleeve”. Ooohh! I am just so excited to share them all with you!! More posts coming soon.
 
<3 Dick and Jane

 

DIY Chicken Coop Design {Guest Post by Colleen from Five Little Homesteaders}

I am super excited today to introduce you to Colleen from Five Little Homesteaders blog. Colleen has been an inspiration to our family as we make our journey to a healthier, homestead lifestyle of our own.  Over the last couple of months I have been quite excited about the idea of adding chickens to our home. One of my biggest concerns to getting chickens is where the chickens will live and how to keep them happy and safe. Today, Colleen is going to share with us her experience with building a chicken coop that has all of the things chickens need to survive.
 
Colleen is a teacher turned stay-at-home mom to three little ones – ages 3, 2, and 1. Her days are filled with laughing and tears, joys and frustrations, chickens and children. Her family of five lives on a .15 acre lot in the heart of Phoenix, Arizona. Through this urban homesteading journey, Colleen hopes to lead her family down the path to a more sustainable, intentional, and fulfilled life. Follow their adventures on their blog Five Little Homesteaders or find them on Facebook and Twitter. 
 

I am excited to be guest posting today on 鈥淩aising Dick & Jane.鈥  I love Mary鈥檚 blog and share her desire to feed her family only the best food possible.  I was excited when I read that she is seriously considering getting chickens this time next year.  If you鈥檝e ever read my blog, you know I鈥檓 advocate for chicken rearing.  So, without further
 ado, here鈥檚 a little post that should get Mary (and you!)
started on the road to raising chickens.

DIY Chicken Coop Design
 
I truly believe that chickens are a great animal to raise.  Not only are they full of personality and incredibly easy to care for, they give you food almost every single day.  That鈥檚 way more than my dog does for me!  I live on a very small piece of land in an urban environment (.15 acres, 3 miles from downtown Phoenix) and I find raising chickens to be incredibly rewarding and fun.  We currently own six chickens who live in two different coops – our first two girls are almost two and we have four chicks who are almost three months old.
 
This is 鈥淨uack Quack鈥 – She始s a Rhode Island Red and almost two.

There are many thing to think about when delving into the world of chicken raising – breeds, chicks, feed, housing, cleaning, predators, etc.   In this post, I want to look a little more closely at where chickens live, i.e. the coop.  This is an area where one can be incredibly creative or perfectly simplistic.  We鈥檝e gone pretty simplistic (so far) with the coops on our property but no matter which you decide, there are some basic things that must be considered when deciding on a coop design.  (For the purposes of this post, I鈥檒l consider that we are designing for laying hens, as opposed to meat birds.)  

1. Free Range or Coop with Run –  In the backyard chicken raising environment, one has to consider whether their chickens will free range around the yard (which generally requires that they be let out of the coop in the morning and locked back in at night) or be confined to a coop with a run.  Both can be good options; however, we use a coop with a run.  We have found that between low fence walls, hawks, neighborhood cats, and my desire to keep a garden and NOT have it completely consumed by my chickens, this is the best option for our set-up.   

 

2. Ventilation – Adequate ventilation keeps the chickens healthy.  It is important to consider your climate when it comes to ventilation.  Those in cold climates will need to protect their chickens from drafts and warm climates will need to provide vents to keep air moving in the coop.  As you鈥檒l notice in my pictures, living in Phoenix, I have to make sure that air is always able to move and therefore our coops are completely open air. 


3. Roosts – Chickens will instinctively roost up high to sleep at night.  They also enjoy roosting during the day when nothing else is going on.  Roosts are generally made from some type of wood and sanded smooth to protect the chickens鈥 feet from splinters.  
 

My scrubbing down the top roost in one of our coops.
 

4. Nesting Boxes – These don鈥檛 have to be fancy but they are necessary as hens instinctively want to lay eggs in a dark and protected space.  Generally, a 12 inch cube will work as a nesting box.  I鈥檝e read that one nesting box for every four hens should be plenty but in my experience, it works better if you have a box for every two chickens.  It seems my girls always want to lay at the same time.  

Two Nesting Boxes – The holes in the back are for egg collecting.
 
5. Feed and Water – Pretty easy, but you鈥檒l want to make sure that you think about a place for feed and a place for water to be stored in the coop.  There are many different products on the market to take care of both of these needs and as with anything, you can spend a lot of money or go simple and spend relatively little.  As with most things, we鈥檝e gone pretty simple in this department and I鈥檝e had no regrets.   
 

You can see the feeder hanging in the middle and the waterer on the left in the back.
 

6. Predator Protection – We鈥檙e lucky that, except for stray cats and the hawks that fly overhead during the day, there aren鈥檛 a lot of predators in the downtown Phoenix area.  When my hens are in their coop and run, I know that they are pretty safe.  However, I鈥檝e hear stories of places where raccoons are smart enough to get latches undone and snakes slither into nesting boxes to gobble up eggs.  That being said, know what the predators are in your area and design accordingly.  
 

There you have it.  Six important things to consider when planning for your first chicken coop.  I am far from an expert on the matter but these are the basics and this is a good place for the beginning chicken keeper to start.  
 
My biggest piece of advice for those thinking about getting chickens is to just do it!  I鈥檝e found the process to be easier than I could have ever expected and ever so rewarding for me, my husband, and especially our three children.  As I always tell people, I think my chickens are easier than my 10 year old house cat!  Don鈥檛 be intimidated.  Read a little about it, pick breeds carefully, and then dive in!  You鈥檒l be so glad you did. 

For those considering raising chickens, here are some good resources that I鈥檝e come across in the last few years: 
 
Chicken Coops: 45 Building Plan for Housing Your Flock By Judy Pangman

Storey鈥檚 Guide to Raising Chickens By Gail Damerow

The Urban Chicken An ebook by Heather Harris 

Thank you Colleen for sharing your expertise with us today! It was a pleasure having you join us.
 
<3 Dick and Jane

Dick and Jane wants to hear from you!

1. Do you own chickens?
2. What would you consider to be the toughest or most rewarding thing about owning chickens?
3. What advice would you give to someone thinking about owning chickens? 

BuyGreen.com Earth Day Giveaway

Have you ever heard of BuyGreen.com? I hadn’t until now. I was introduced to the website through this giveaway and the Homestead Bloggers Network. <—A green living blogging group I belong to.
As many of you know I have been working hard to start living a more “green” lifestyle. My family and I have been making tons of changes around our house to start re-using and re purposing, growing our own food and buying organic what we can not grow. This website, buygreen.com is pretty cool. They carry just about everything you could ever want or need and its all environmentally safe. No more guessing if something is organic or safe for your family. I love it!
One of the things I love about being part of the Homestead Bloggers Network is being able to join with other bloggers to bring you guys really great prizes that I might not be able to secure on my own. This prize is great. I wish I could win!!!
In celebration of Earth Day 2013, members of the Homestead Bloggers Network have partnered with BuyGreen.com to make going green even easier!  With a generous gift card for $250, BuyGreen.com makes going (or staying) green even easier! So what can I find at BuyGreen.com?  Maybe the question should be, “what can’t I find at BuyGreen.com?” From clothing to composting, they’ve got you covered!  BuyGreen.com believes that the power to make a change rests with consumers.  Take a stand and demand healthier, greener products as a BuyGreen.com customer and let’s make a change together. a Rafflecopter giveaway
 
Additional prizes are offered by participating blogs:
Disclosure:  I was not financially compensated for this post.  The Homestead Bloggers Network and participating blogs are not responsible for prize fulfillment. Giveaway is open to US & Canadian Residents ages 18 and over only. Entries close on April 22 and winners will be drawn by April 26. This giveaway is part of the Homestead Bloggers Network and sponsored by BuyGreen.com.
 
 

Participating Blogs

  1. Heather Harris – The Homesteading Hippy
  2. Mary Hitchings – Raising Dick & Jane
  3. Dani Meyer – The Adventure Bite
  4. Chris Dalziel – Joybillee Farm
  5. Annie Bernauer – Montana Solar Creations
  6. Jen Fowler – Frugal Upstate 
  7. Chris McLaughlin – A Suburban Farmer
  8. Kristi Stone – Let This Mind Be In You
  9. Lindsey Knerl – Lille Punkin’
  10. Krystyna Thomas – Spring Mountain Living
  11. Shanyn Cascia – Fresh From Home
  12. Wendy Hammond – The Local Cook
  13. Angela England – Untrained Housewife
  14. Amanda Jones – Adventures of Mommyhood
 
Leave me a comment letting me know that you entered! I would love to see which of you are taking advantage of this giveaway.
 
Good Luck! Happy Earth Day!
<3 Dick and Jane

    DIY Fairy Doors #TBCcrafters

     
     
    A few years back I found a fairy door on etsy, bought it and nailed it to a tree in our yard while the kids were away for the day. The kids returned to find the fairy door and were excited by its “magic”. Ever since this day we have been finding ways to welcome more fairies to our home by making their home beautiful and comfortable. If you ever get a chance to visit Ann Arbor, Michigan it is said that there are small fairy doors hidden all over the town. I have not yet seen it myself, but I plan to go when the weather warms up and see what I can find. Until then, I will just have to create my own “Fairy Village” in my backyard. I have a set of trees that is perfect for creating a little neighborhood of homes.
     
    I decided to try and build an inexpensive fairy door myself that the kids could help personalize themselves. We came up with a door made out of Popsicle sticks and modge podge. They turned out pretty good. I do have a few changes I would make and will note them as we go through the directions.
    You will need:
     
    Popsicle Sticks
    Modge Podge
    Paint
    Something to use as a doorknob (button, dowel, etc)
    A small hook for attaching it to the tree
     
     
    How to create your own fairy door:
     
    Begin by laying out your Popsicle sticks to the size you desire your door. I made a few wider than others because not all doors are the same. Carefully while holding the sticks in place add modge podge to the sticks to keep them in place. Be careful to not add too much your first time or you will glue your sticks to the table. Re-apply several coats to both sides once they dry.
     
     
    Once the door is completely dry you can paint it and add your door knob using hot glue. You will also want to add a hook to the back using your glue gun to attach your door to the tree.  I made the mistake of trying to nail through the door into the tree. . bad idea. I lost two doors because they split and fell apart from the nail.
     
     
    When you are happy with the way your door looks, go outside and find the perfect spot to build your village. Stack them to build apartments or hide them for a fun little secret passage. Don’t forget to stack up a few rocks to help create some “curb appeal”. You can also find little white picket fences at a craft store to give your door a more inviting look.
     
     
    Fairy Dust
    <3 Dick and Jane