Chrissy’s Pumpkin Pie…From Scratch

First, I should let you know that even though I live a pretty healthy lifestyle, I don’t skimp on dessert. When I make desserts I use sugar and flour and shortening! You have to treat yourself and enjoy dessert. That’s how I live. Now, get your pie pants on and let’s make some pie!!!!

My dad has always been the pie maker in our family. I am not sure how he got started but for as long as I can remember, when holidays came around it was always my dad with the apron on. Once I got married and left the nest I started making pies. I’ll follow a recipe for various pies but pumpkin pie is my specialty. It’s mine! If I happen to be home around fall or the holidays I am the pumpkin pie maker.

When I left home, I took my dad’s pie crust recipe with me. I’ve never bought pre-made crust, ever. I used to make the crust and then just buy the already done pumpkin pie filling (the one that has all the spices and you just add an egg and evaporated milk) but one day I decided to try using an actual pumpkin. I have been racking my brain the last couple days trying to figure out how long ago it was that I used an actual pumpkin for the first time. I am going to say the first time was about 8 years ago. I don’t think I ever did it before my daughter was born but I cannot remember. I may have. Ugh. Getting off track. Since that first time, whenever it was, I have not bought pumpkin filling for a pie. I have made my pumpkin pies completely from scratch every time. Okay, I may buy a can of pumpkin if actual pumpkins aren’t around anymore, but only plain pumpkin, and then I add all my own stuff. Annnnnyyyway…let’s get to the baking shall we?!

This is actually the earliest in the fall season I have ever made a pie. I guess I can blame it on Lowes for having a great deal on pumpkins already. I spent at least 5 minutes picking up every single pumpkin to find the heaviest one. I am always going to get my money’s worth. $2.98 each is a super deal! They are usually that much per pound. So, home I went to “murder a pumpkin” (it’s what I say every year). But first, lemme take a selfie.

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Okay, let’s really get going now. First let’s start with cooking your pumpkin. If you bought a can of pumpkin, skip down to the crust recipe.

Cut your pumpkin in half. It’s not an easy task. I usually start about 2 inches under the stem and work one side until the bottom. Then I do the same on the other side. Once you have a cut on both sides you can pull the pumpkin apart. The stem will just break off onto one side. Next, scoop out all the seeds and as much of the stringy stuff as you can. Pretend you’re carving a pumpkin but you want the inside to be super clean. Once done, put your two halves face up on a baking sheet, cover with a foil tent, and put them in a 350-375 degree oven.

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Now, go do something with your time because it’s going to take at least an hour and a half to bake if not longer. At this point, I went and did yoga, took a shower, and cooked myself lunch. I checked the pumpkin after an hour and reset the timer for 30 minutes. I did this twice, so it was approximately 2 hours for the pumpkin to bake and get soft.

Once soft, I poked mine with a fork a bunch of times, let it cool for a bit just so that you don’t burn your hands when you’re scooping out all the pumpkin. You might see some liquid in the pumpkin halves as well letting you know they are done. Once cool enough, scoop out all the pumpkin. As you can see, I try to get every little spec out. Place in a bowl and set aside. Time for crust!!

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I turned my oven off now just to give it a break.

Items you will need for the crust and filling…
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Ingredients for Crust:
2 1/4 cups flour
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup shortening
3 tbs butter
1/3 cup water
1 egg white (beaten until foamy)

Directions:
Put flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Cut butter and shortening into flour and salt. (See photo for cutting utensil) Your dough will be very chunky (see photo). Stir in water and egg white. Your dough ball will form now. Flour your work space and hands, and roll your dough. I like to put wax paper down and tape it to the counter; easy clean up.

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Place your flattened crust in your pie pan and set it aside.

But wait…do you have extra pie crust? Yes you do. What do you do with that? Make crust cookies, duh. Turn your oven back on to 425 (for the pie). Roll out your remaining dough and use a cookie cutter to make some shapes. Place those on a baking sheet, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar or pumpkin pie spice, and throw em in the oven. I didn’t even wait for the temperature to get all the way to 425 (it was already pretty warm from the pumpkin). I cooked the cookies for about 6 minutes. Now you have a snack while your pie cooks. GENIUS!! Side note: my Christmas cookies are usually pie crust cookies. They are that good!!

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Time for the pumpkin filling. You will need:
1 1/2 cups cooked pumpkin
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
12oz evaporated milk (usually 1 can)
1 tbsp of pumpkin pie spice (a tbsp is really a lot. I’ve added more before and it’s too spicy. Stick with this much)

Measure out your cooked pumpkin before you start adding the ingredients. I had almost 3 cups. I put the extra in a bowl and put it in the fridge for later. That blog is coming later so stay tuned.

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Mix everything except the evaporated milk together. Slowly add the evaporated milk, mix, and pour into your pie crust. Those neat red things are silicone crust covers. If you don’t have those, make thin strips of foil to place around and over your crust.

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Place pie in oven for 15 minutes on 425. Turn the temperature down to 325 and continue cooking for another 50-60 minutes. Do the fork test in the middle. Viola!

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Later, enjoy a slice with your friends or family.

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We usually don’t share our pie; at least not the first one of the season. But I have shared before and this is what people say about it.

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If you used this recipe for the whole pie, or just the crust or filling, I’d love to hear how you liked it! Comment below. Happy Fall!!

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Run & Garden #FarmlifeFriday

Does it feel like fall to you yet? I’m seriously trying to will it to be fall. It’s been raining enough to make it seem like fall but it’s still muggy and low 80s so it’s still shorts weather. I’m ready for socks and scarves! But the rain is nice and it’s keeping everything green.

Speaking of green…

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I super cleaned the garden this week. I pulled out so many weeds and also rehomed some flowers that were taking over. I moved a basil plant (the closer one) and replanted 2 sweet taters…

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And a red tater.

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Hopefully we can get some before it gets too cold.

Still growing are my 2 bell peppers, they are producing massive-sized peppers, 2 banana peppers, another basil, and a tomato plant. That tomato plant is driving me nuts. It hasn’t produced a single mater yet. The flowers grow and then die. And there aren’t any bugs attacking them now. I don’t know.  I’m guessing it’s a nutrient deficiency but not sure. It sure is huge though and very green and healthy (looking). On the backside that you can’t see I have a leafless brussels sprout and a leafless broccoli, thanks to caterpillars, but they’re still alive. Those are both fall/winter harvest so I’m not worried yet. I also have a couple lettuce and carrot sprouts popping up. Hopefully we can get a salad or two out of those. Next year we hope to plan the garden a lot better and maybe even expand it. 

And now that we’re talking about expanding… We finally got our chicken/duck run finished! It’s been a long process, mainly for monetary reasons (chicken wire doesn’t grow on trees), but its done and everyone is super happy! Now the birds can roam around, swim all day if they want, eat grass and bugs, and enjoy not being cooped up all day.

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We cut a hole in the original coop and set up the dog crate (duck crate), so that they have more space to sleep but also be locked up at night, and they can travel freely between the coop and the run.

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We added a circus area.

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And then of course the swimmin’ hole.

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Right now we have a sail over part of the run for shade and protection and will add a second one soon. We also plan to run some sort of rope across the poles for added protection from predetors.

Daisy is consistently laying one egg a day! She goes up into the hen house around 11am each day and lays one egg. Then I cook it for the hub the next day.

[Farm]Life is good.

 

 

Little bit of This Yoga, Little Bit of That Yoga #NamasteTuesday

This last week was neat. I helped my best friend sleep better by teaching her breathing exercises over the phone. She’s in Hawaii and I’m in Virginia but I was able to talk her through and give her some insight on breathing, and how its associated with yoga of course, and she slept a lot better. I also had two different friends text me and say, “I need your help getting started with yoga. I need more zen in my life.” People asking me for help is just so wonderful. Besides the obvious personal benefits of practicing yoga, one of my favorite parts is sharing it with others. It’s why I drive to a tiny little community center on Tuesday nights to teach even when only person is going to show up. I love teaching, not only for the experience, but because I love to share yoga with others.

Last Tuesday I said I’d write about the last challenge I did. So here goes. I participated in a two-week backbend challenge called #Bentyogis. Man, was it awesome. The first challenge I did was definitely fun, but that one lacked the diversity of this one. In this challenge, each host showed a different variation of each pose and usually gave directions on how to do them. I wasn’t just back-bending during the challenge, I was bending and twisting in ways I never have before. I loved every second. I was pushing myself and learning new things and practicing others. There were some poses I had done before so I took a fun variation. There were some poses I had tried but couldn’t quite do previously so I took a variation. There were some that you look at and think, “That looks easy,” and then you start and you’re like, “Wait! How is my leg supposed to even do that?” If I had to sum up this challenge in one word it would easily be CHALLENGING. Below is a collage of some of the poses.

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I think my favorite pose out of this challenge was king or royal pigeon.” This is a pose I include in my everyday practice. I think it is incredibly beautiful as well as a great bend and stretch. Since I had done this pose before I looked to one of the hosts for a variation and found the bound variation. It just made the pose even more beautiful.

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Another king or full pose was dancer. This is one I have been struggling with. For one, my legs don’t quite split to the point where I need them and it is a challenge on my shoulders to reach back. So in this challenge I used a strap but I said in my caption, “I will grab my foot by the end of 2016.”

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Last Thursday I was at home doing my yoga thing. There are some days when I go into my flow knowing something specific I want to include or practice. Most days I just start and go with the flow and do whatever feels good and feels right. Without even thinking, I got into dancer and then reached back and like magic, grabbed my foot and got into full dancer. I held it for a total of 0.0000004 seconds but I was there. (I did it twice so I could take a photo and show my bff)

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When I was finished, I posted it to IG, duh, and I wrote that I now know what people mean when they say something feels “organic.” That’s how this felt. I didn’t feel like I was forced to try this or that I needed to try it. It just happened. I just progressed through my flow and it happened.

This week is a regular week for me but next week I’m dashing off to California for a wedding. Besides being excited about that, I’m crazy excited because I can go to Core Power Yoga while I’m there. I won’t have a ton of time to go more that once, but I am making the time to get to a C2 class. I am not sure if I wrote about it before but I had the chance to check out the studio over the summer and those were my people. I feel at home when I’m there. Guys, I’ve literally been only three times. Maybe it’s because I am “home” in San Diego, maybe it’s the way they teach, maybe it’s the humidity they drown you in (even in regular class not just hot yoga), or maybe it’s just the type of yogis. I can’t explain it too much but I can’t wait to be “home”.

Chrissy’s Banana Bread

I feel like I can officially call this MY bread because I didn’t follow a specific recipe and I added things that were not in a recipe.

This past Friday night my husband was gone and I felt like baking. I had 3 really ripe bananas so I thought about trying banana bread. I had never made it before so I called my bff because it just so happened she planned to make banana bread too. She text me a recipe. I headed to my cupboard to see if I had all the right ingredients. I did, but I also had some almond flour and thought maybe I’d try that rather than white flour. So I text my other bff for advice. BFF 1 is more of a “follow the recipe” type where BFF2 is a “throw it together and see what happens” type. I told her that I was going to make banana bread with almond flour and she sent me a Paleo recipe. She also let me know that almond flour is heavier than regular flour and I should add extra baking soda or baking powder. So…I took what I learned from both recipes and BFFs and came up with my own concoction.

Besides the almond flour variation, I was also just looking around to see what I had in the spice department to add. I didn’t have chocolate chips or nuts, but I did have honey, baking cocoa, and cinnamon. I was already using sugar so I nixed the honey but stuck with the cocoa and cinnamon. One recipe called for 1 egg, the other for 2. I just went for it! I created my own.

Here is my bread on it’s way into the oven. It’s in a Corningware dish because I don’t have a loaf pan (obviously not a bread making girl). The cocoa made it very dark.

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My house smelled soooooooooo good all evening and into the next morning. I feel like I may make banana bread more often just to recreate this smell. OMG!

And then, voila! Soooo delicious!!

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What’s funny is how my husband’s and my minds played tricks on us as we were reaching for bites. I saw brown and knew it was bread so my mind when to gingerbread. My husband saw brown and thought brownies. He loved the bread but kept saying, “Nope. Still not brownies.” (I should make him some brownies)

Here’s my recipe:

Ingredients:
3 ripe bananas
1/3 cup melted butter (I use old fashioned salted butter)
2 cups almond flour
1 tbsp baking soda
Pinch of salt (Yes, I added salt even with salted butter. I like salt. I used one twist of my pink himalayan salt)
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp baking cocoa

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Some ingredients are gluten free and/or organic but this is not a requirement for this recipe. It’s just what I have in my house.

Preheat oven to 350
Grease baking pan
**Side Note: A friend of mine taught me this fun trick. Save the wrappers from your sticks of butter. When you need to butter or grease a pan, rub the wrapper on your pan. The left over butter is the perfect amount. This is what I did and it’s the best thing ever.

In a large bowl, mash bananas using a fork until they are nice and mushy. Add melted butter and stir. Add all other ingredients except the almond flour and stir. Slowly add the almond flour and stir. No need to get aggressive, just casually mix everything together.

Pour into your baking dish and put it in the oven. I set my timer for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes the middle was still jello-y so I set the timer for another 15 minutes. I checked the middle with a fork and the middle was clean.

I couldn’t wait until the morning to taste it, so I cut a small piece out the corner to test. Soooo moist and yummy! By Sunday morning the bread was gone but it was just as moist a couple days later. It was really spectacular. I will make this again for sure.

Variations I suggest…Don’t add sugar. I think the bananas are sweet enough that you really don’t need the sugar. The first recipe I saw said 1 whole cup. I only added 1/2 but I bet I didn’t need it. Maybe next time I will omit the sugar and add the honey instead. Obviously adding nuts and chocolate chips is a good idea.

If you happen to try my recipe, leave me a comment and let me know how you liked it! Happy Cooking!

We Have EGGS!! #FarmlifeFriday

This has been a great week! Our chickens are finally laying eggs!! Not only does this mean we won’t have to buy eggs in the future, this also means we have been able to cheat nature (birds of prey) and keep our birds alive long enough to lay. This is huge considering all our loss since the beginning of this venture.

About a month or so ago, we watched our hen Lagertha, lay a white egg and then immediately turn around and eat it. We weren’t sure what to think. We checked the coop and there was an egg in there as well. We were both excited and disturbed. Up until this week we hadn’t seen eggs after that day. We hoped our girls weren’t laying and eating the eggs.

We knew Lagertha was of age to lay, obviously, but we didn’t know about Frenchie, her “sister”, because we got them as sort of a package deal when we picked up Carl. “You can have Carl annndddd these 4 chickens if you want.” We didn’t even think to ask their ages.

The only age we know for sure is Daisy because we’ve had her since she was born. We knew it was getting close to her time to start laying.

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We’ve been checking the coop everyday, just in case, and finally!!! Daisy laid an egg! A nice, healthy, brown egg!! We were so proud of her. I checked the next day and nothing. Then….

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Two more beauties! But now I’m confused. I know it is possible, but it’s unlikely that Daisy laid two eggs. Since Lagertha’s previous eggs were white, we were assuming these were Daisy’s. I don’t think Hagrid (our Jersey Giant) is quite of age yet, but I know the French girls are. So I did some research. Turns out Hagrid’s eggs will be brown and it’s possible for Faverolles eggs to be white or brown or any color in between. So… We’re still proud of Daisy but we’re also proud of our French girls for finally getting with the program.

I found one more egg just this morning hiding under some hay. We finally have egg layers!!!! And the eggs are great. They are yolkier than store-bought eggs but that just adds flavor. And I’d say they are medium to large size.

Now we just have to wait and see if our one female duck starts laying.

Yoga & Art: When Passions Meet #NamasteTuesday

When we first moved here to Virginia, my husband wanted me to have my own space for yoga. He knew, before me really, how much it meant to me and how having my own space was going to make me happy. The house we moved in to was rather small but I had my own space. I had a section of our bedroom just for yoga. It was great. I decorated it how I wanted and it was MY space.

When we moved into the current house (we had to move because the owner of the first one wanted to move back in his house) I was going to have a craft/yoga room! Both of my passions inside one big room. Woohoo!!! Once I started unpacking and figuring out where everything was going to go I realized that my space was getting smaller and smaller. My husband said, “Why don’t you just have a craft room AND a yoga room?” Seriously, could I love him any more? Two rooms just for me? And that was the end of that and the beginning of the west side of the house being all for me.

When I first started practicing yoga I never thought it would become a passion and consume a lot of my life. Maybe I just needed my own room. I spend more time in this room than any other in the house. And it’s decorated with things that mean the most to me. Race paraphernalia, a poster of The Rock, and art.

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Along that far wall are all art pieces done by myself or my friends. Before I ditched cable I used to watch The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Yolanda had a wall of canvases in her house and each one was painted by someone in her family or friends. She even had a painting party when her daughter was moving so that she could make her her own wall. I fell in love with this idea. For my birthday in 2015 I had a painting party! I had my closest girlfriends over and we spent the day painting. Their paintings were my gifts (those are all the small ones). The top and bottom canvases were done at Wine Nights in Arizona, the ones where everyone drinks and paints the same picture. And then I have these…

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My daughter spent the summer in San Diego with my parents and I had a lot of free time. Since painting is my first passion, I thought I’d spend some time painting for me. I don’t usually do that. When thinking about what to paint of course my first thought was yoga. But what to do. I started by drawing an outline of someone doing Warrior 2. The ideas started flowing from there. I decided to look up the chakras and see which one coincided with that pose. Then I had to try more poses. I picked two more of my favorites; dancer and king cobra.

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While I was researching chakras I learned that wheel, also known as bridge, upward facing bow, or a backbend, is thought to align all 7 chakras. If you don’t know already, a basic backbend is by far my most favorite pose and learning it’s chakra alignment made me extremely excited. I searched around the craft room for more canvas and found a big one. SCORE! And then I needed a model.

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Who better to model than myself? I’ve never done any sort of self-portrait work. This isn’t exactly a portrait, but it’s based on me and I think I did pretty good.

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At the end of my last yoga blog I talked about my Instagram backbend challenges. I just finished a two-week long one and I am going to post about that next week! I had such a wonderful time.

But to finish this post, I’ll leave you with this photo. My bff, Isis, and I doing scorpion pose. This is part of a series we do that we call “long distance yoga bffs.”

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Free Range a.k.a Heartbreak #FarmlifeFriday

This is an “In Memoriam” post.

We’ve lost a lot of birds. This whole farming thing has taught us and our eight year old daughter a lot about the circle of life.

When we first got birds back in Arizona, it was an impulse buy, of course, because they had just built a new ranching store in town and they sold chicks. Why wouldn’t we get a couple? We bought two Cornish cross chicks with the intention of eating them. We thought it would be a good lesson for our daughter; she could see where her food came from, how it was raised, and how it was slaughteted. Knowing where your food comes from is just a tiny piece of our healthy lifestyle. Long story short, those chicks lived out their lives without being slaughtered but died within about 2 months because those chickens are bred to grow rapidly and if you don’t kill them they’ll usually die from heart attacks. We hope we gave them an enjoyable 2 months. So far we’re up to 2 deaths in this bird adventure.

Flash forward to this year in Virginia. We started with 5 chickens and 2 ducks. We had them free range around the yard. They loved it. More grass and bugs then they could ever eat. And free range should equal happier birds!  (Below is all the birds right after we got them)

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Happy birds… until they’re eaten.

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This was Henrietta. She was MY bird. She would ALWAYS come over to me and sit on my lap or on my head. She loved me and I loved her. She was our first girl to disappear. One day in the mid afternoon I went outside and she was gone. No feathers or anything. I suspected she was taken by a bigger bird because of the lack of evidence. 

Within a week, all but 2 were gone. We still aren’t sure but we think either fox, raccoons, or coyotes were the culprits. We were left with 2 hens, Daisy and Caramel.

Then we moved to the house we live in now. Within a couple weeks Caramel was taken. RIP.

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Poor Daisy! She had seen so much death in her short life. At this point we were making sure all the birds were locked up tight at night but we still really wanted them to be free range.

We got more birds.

Then an owl happened and killed 2 ducks. We know this because owls rip the heads off of their prey. We found 2 headless ducks.

Then this happened.

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That’s an approximately 7ft black racer. He slithered into our coop and ate 2 of our bantams, Willow and Tough Nut. That day, we revamped the coop and installed smaller wire.

Then a hawk happened. This one really got to me. I was putting the birds in early one afternoon because I was going to be out late. It was maybe 4pm. I called everyone in and I couldn’t find Spicy. I called her and looked all over. I went around to the front of the house and watched the hawk fly off. All that was left were feathers. I cried for an hour. I was so devastated.

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A week later the hawk was back and took Rough Nut, our last bantam. That was wasn’t as devastating to me as Spicy but still sad because she was a very unique chicken. We called her our “duck chicken”. We aren’t sure why but she thought she was a duck. She followed the ducks, walked in line with them, slept in the duck house, and even cleaned her feathers when the ducks did. The hawk that got her was most likely a Cooper’s Hawk: small but very deadly. (Below is Rough Nut snoozing with the ducks)

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We asked everyone what we should do. The general consensus was, “You’re birds are free range? Then you’re never going to have birds.” And we also learned that once a hawk knows you have food they’ll hang around. So now the birds live in the coop unless we’re outside with them. We’re on the process of building a big, covered run so they have more space during the day. We haven’t had a death since. But we’re still on high alert. The other day we looked up and saw an eagle. A freaking bald eagle. While majestic and awesome to see in your yard, we don’t want them around. Even though we only have big birds left we’re pretty sure an eagle can handle them.

So while we want our birds to have “extremely” enjoyable lives free ranging, we are settling for giving them “very” enjoyable lives… where they’re kept alive. We think we are doing a pretty good job. But it’s sure been difficult on the heart. You think you’re doing the right thing and then nature reminds you that it’s in charge.

And good ‘olev Daisy, our runt, is becoming such a beautiful hen despite her own heartache watching her friends die. If only she’d start laying eggs!!!!

Much Bendy! So Bend! #NamasteTuesday

I’m totes sticking to my blogging goal so far!! How are you guys liking my #FarmlifeFriday posts? Since I do more than sit around with my birds, I decided to add another day to my weekly blogging.

Welcome to #NamasteTuesday!! My weekly yoga post!! Hope you enjoy.

In my “About Me” section I mention that I love Instagram. It’s true. I do. Not only do I love the fun filters that make me look purdy when I actually look haggard, there’s something different about the community of IG. I follow friends but I also follow a lot of yogis. These are my people even if I don’t actually know them. There’s something different about people who embrace the yoga lifestyle. And yes, it is a lifestyle. Yoga is not just about stretching and exercise to a lot of people. Yoga can become a way of life. Yoga has changed me, and the people I follow are like minded and share the same “beliefs” as me. (I use the weird beliefs because it’s the only word I could think of, but I don’t mean that in a religious aspect).

One thing I’ve changed in the last month or two is how I share things on Facebook. An acquaintance of mine mentioned that she hasn’t seen any fitness updates on my page in a while. I said, “that’s because my friends don’t care about that shit.” I don’t know if this is 100% true because they should care about things that I’m passionate about, but I don’t like pushing things in people faces. I don’t like to constantly update about my fitness routines, my healthy food, or my yoga because I imagine people are like, “We get it. You don’t eat junk food anymore and you do yoga.” But IG is different. On IG it’s encouraged. To me, it’s basically a blog in pictures. And when you follow the right people or #hashtag it right so people see your stuff, you get some really amazing positivity and encouragement.

I’ve seen “challenges” on IG a lot but never participated. Some of the yogis who do the challenges are quite intimidating. There are lots of handstand challenges that I cannot join because I don’t handstand. There are lots of balance challenges that I don’t join because I’m just starting to dip in to the arm balances. But about a month ago I saw a backbend challenge. I was sold!! Backbends are my most favorite!

It was a week of getting bendy and it was titled #SoulShineYogis. These challenges don’t actually have winners, they’re just a way to challenge yourself, promote businesses and yogis, and grow your network/community on IG. Below is my week of bends.

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Just this last weekend I started a new backbend challenge called #Bentyogis. The poses in this challenge are a bit more, well, challenging. But I’m having a blast and “meeting” so many new yogis. It’s really amazing.

Here’s a sneak peek. This pose is called Alien and it is funky. 👽

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I was about to publish this and realized I didn’t even plug myself. @chrissyq02 💜 Follow if you like!

I’m off to go put my birds back in the coop and start my day. Have a great rest of the week. See you Friday… Or maybe another day in between. 😉

City Folk Living the Country Life #FarmlifeFriday

This mornings edition of #FarmlifeFriday comes to you from my phone while I sit in the backyard enjoying the early day sun and watch my birds as they roam around in the cut-down corn fields. I just looked up and saw my 4 ducks headed back, all in a row, to get a drink and a bath. One of my dogs is also out here somewhere on an adventure, probably getting covered in ticks. Ugh.

My husband and I both grew up in San Diego and enjoyed the city life. Fast paced, never stopping, lights, and chaos. We never thought we’d enjoy the country life as much as we do. But man, do we love it. I still have that city girl in me, and we do spend time in the city here in Virginia and act like hipsters, but we have fully embraced the slower, laid-back, outdoorsy, country lifestyle. So here’s a couple things that are totally new to us.

Corn fields and combines!

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Here’s me about 2 months ago showing off how crazy tall the corn was. The house we rent is on 140 acres. I’d estimate that we maintain about 3 while the rest is leased out for crops. We were completely surrounded by corn this summer. It was our natural privacy fence. But, that had to come to end. 😢

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We woke up last week to this giant monster in the front yard. What a neat contraption this is. City folk don’t know how awesome this thing is. It chops down the corn stalk, strips the ears of the kernals, then spits out the husks and cobs. Then it empties all the bright yellow corn into a truck that totes it off to a factory.

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But unfortunately, after all that fun, you are left with 100+ acres of nothing and no more privacy.

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No more naked strolls in the yard.

But the birds sure love it.

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Sometimes they even come back with souvineers.

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Something else new to us is hunting. Sure, people in California hunt but we never had. Fishing was about the extent of our “hunting and gaming”. But to go along with our desire to be self-sustaining, hunting your own food is right up our alley. Cue, sunflowers.

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Along the west side of or driveway was a beautiful patch of sunflowers. When they dry out and die, doves love them. The owners of our house love dove hunting. Last weekend was opening day of dove season, so our yard was full of real-tree clad men and boys ready to shoot some lunch. 20160903_125551

I won’t scar your eyeballs with photos of deceased doves. Instead, here’s the hub all geared up for his first time hunting. He shot a total of 6 doves and 1 city dove, aka pigeon. Not bad for his first time. I followed him out carrying the shotgun, fully intending on trying my hand at the sport, but there were too many “rules”, and the idea of shooting a moving target made me think I would just be wasting ammo. So I left the hunting up to him.

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I did enjoy the spoils of the hunt though. On the top of the grill are dove breasts wrapped in bacon sitting in onion cups. They were pretty tasty. And how awesome to hunt your food, prepare your food, and eat your food right in the front yard. Farm to table, or err, sky to table? You know what I mean. My daughter and I watched the process of “breasting” the birds and then helped with the cooking. We like to think we’re giving her a healthy City Bumpkin upbringing; an equal dose of both the city and the country.

This weekend we are doing something else new and going to a Hoedown on a horse ranch. I’m guessing it’s like a fair at someone’s house. Fun times will be had!!

The Flock! #FarmlifeFriday

Before I get into all the gory details of farm life I thought I should introduce you to our flock.

This is Daisy. She is a Red Ranger hen. She is our only surviving hen from our very first flock of birds we started earlier this year. More details about death in another blog…the gory stuff I mentioned. Daisy isn’t laying yet but should soon. She was the runt of the original flock but has grown up quite nicely. She is our Queen Hen. (not the best photo of her but its what you get for now)

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This is Hagrid. She’s a Jersery Giant. We bought her at a poultry swap but we hadn’t planned on buying birds so we didn’t have box to transport her home. No worries. She rode home on my lap and we had that chance to bond. She is MY girl. We cuddle daily. She was smaller than Daisy when we brought her home but is now bigger than Daisy. She isn’t as girthy yet but that will come. Jersey Giants are the largest breed of chicken and can be up to 14lbs. The photo is showing the time that she walked in the back door and was hanging out in the kitchen.

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This is Carl. He is our first rooster. He’s an Amerucana. He’s still a young rooster but already has chosen Daisy as his girl. Hagrid is his side chick. Our daughter and Carl bonded and she’s holds him the most out of the three of us.

20160822_194106This is Ragnar. He’s a faverolles rooster. He and his girls were a package deal when we got Carl. He sure does like to hear himself crow! He is older, based on his severely ugly toenails and the size of his spurs, but was welcomed into the flock. He and I have a ritual when I feed everyone; He gets a tiny bit extra straight from the cup. Just a fun way to bond.

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Ragnar’s girl is Lagertha (Get it? Like from the show Vikings). She is also a faverolles. She is pretty skittish but still a great girl. More about her near the end.

Our last chicken is Frenchie. She had a man, Rolo, but he is one of our departed. (We named her Frenchie because in the show Vikings, Rolo marries a french chick. We like to do silly things like that). Frenchie is my hard-headed girl. She is always the last one in the coop and likes to take her sweet time. She is also very skittish but coming around.

Since our faverolles girls aren’t very friendly, I don’t have too many photos of them alone. This is the group of 4 a few days after we got them. Ragnar (left), Rolo, the departed (top), Frenchie (bottom left), and Lagertha (bottom right).

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Then we have the ducks. They are all Pekin ducks. Based on how noisy one is, we are guessing she is our only female. That makes us a bit sad because we were hoping for an abundance of duck eggs. But we’ll see as time goes on. The ducks are so fun. They get along with the chickens well and all sleep together peacefully. They love to eat and swim. I could watch them in their pool all day long. We have only named one, Peewee, because he is our runt. He’s the one with the silly looking feathers. More on him in a later blog.

The photo is from yesterday when I was refilling their pool. They were so excited for the fresh water that they jumped in with only an inch or so of water. Peewee is the one outside the pool.

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Getting back to Lagertha…something fun we did this morning was fix a warty looking thing on her back. We had noticed it since we got her, since she is lacking feathers thanks to her boyfriend, but decided to cut it open today and see what was happening. We carefully sliced the zit/wart thing open and pushed. First some puss came out so we immediately knew what it was. She had ingrown feathers. I held her while my husband used tweezers to extract about 10 tiny, coiled up feathers. Then we lathered her up with antiseptic and sent her on her way.

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Come back next week for more farm fun!!!

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