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My Juice Fast: A Full Report

On January 6th, I announced via an Instagram photo that I was on day one of a juice fast.  I honestly didn’t even think anyone would care about my juice fast. But turns out you guys are SUPER interested in juice fasts.  I’ve completely lost track of the number of texts, Facebook messages, Instagram comments, etc. that I’ve gotten in the past few days wanting to know what program I’m following, is it working, do I like it, how long am I doing this?   So I figured the best way to answer everyone’s questions was through a blog post since we’ve sort of fired up the blog again anyway.  I’ve done sort of an “interview” with myself using all the questions I’ve gotten over the past week…and then at the bottom posted a link to another page with more info in case you are hungry for more juicy details.  (See what I did there? Juicy….)

The Instagram photo that started it all.  Day One.  #juicing #juicefast

The Instagram photo that started it all. Day One. #juicing #juicefast

“What made you want to do this?”  Keith and I enjoy watching documentaries on rare nights when we’re both home and have nothing to do.  We’ve watched lots of them on a plethora of topics over the years, but last Monday, January 5th, as we perused the documentary options, we decided to watch one we’d scrolled past a few times before, “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.”  The movie chronicles the story of Joe Cross, and Australian battling an autoimmune disorder and obesity who goes on a 60 day juice fast, loses a large amount of weight, cures his disease and is able to get off all prescriptions, and in the process travels around inspiring others and ultimately forming his own juicing-plan empire.  Neither Keith nor I are obese and neither of us battle any chronic diseases, but we both were feeling sluggish and like we each wanted to just “lose 5 pounds.”  As I mentioned in last Monday’s recipe post, we were determined to get back on our Paleo/healthy eating plans and maybe even start working out again.  It seems like a million years ago when I went all exercise crazy and did two half marathons and a triathalon in the space of three months.  (check out our running adventures here).  I’m kind of a sucker for an inspirational story, so after the show was over I turned to Keith and said, “I’m doing that.  A juice fast.  I don’t know for how long, or what it looks like, but I’m doing that.”  And because he’s the best husband on the face of the planet, he VOLUNTARILY decided to join me.

Day Two: #juicing #juicefast

Day Two: #juicing #juicefast

“Are you following a certain plan?  Where do you get your recipes?”  The answer to this is No, I’m not following any specific plan.  Since Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead was where I got the idea, Keith and I both did a good bit of reading on Joe’s website and have taken lots of cues from the info that he provides…tips on how to prepare certain fruits and veggies for juicing, a few recipes, some basic advice.  This wasn’t my first experience with juicing.  We’d had a brief fling with it after we ended up scoring a free juicer with purchase of some large appliances at Sears a few years ago (gotta love random incentives on items you’re already planning on buying).  Back then I’d also bought The Juicing Bible (2nd edition) and so I pulled that out and grabbed a few recipes from that as well.   But then most of the time, I just throw in what I’m feeling like and go for it.

Day Four: #juicing #juicefast  Oranges, Grapefruit, Carrots, Rasberries

Day Four: #juicing #juicefast Oranges, Grapefruit, Carrots, Rasberries

“How long are you going to do this?  Have you cheated yet?”  When I first started, I said my minimum was 3 days.  I’d read that that’s about how long it takes for your body to “cleanse.”  Because I knew it would be a very difficult to sustain this fast while on the road like I am, I decided the longest I would do it would be 10 days, because that was how many days I had in town before hitting the road again.  I decided I’d see how things went after day 3 and figure it out from there.  Days 1, 2 and 3 I juiced like a champ drinking about 16 ounces of juice for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and any time in-between that I was hungry.  Day 2, around dinner time, I missed chewing.  I know that sounds weird.  But I was making a juice and had all these veggies on the counter-top and I just wanted to EAT, not drink.  So I ate an entire pomegranate-worth of seeds, and a bowl of plain, raw spinach leaves.  I refuse to count this as a cheat because it was stuff that would have gone in my juice…I just ate it instead of drinking it.

But then Day 4 was a little tough and so I’m going to say that this was the day I ended my official “juice fast” and entered a healthy eating phase.  I was feeling weak and a little headachy, and after Keith spent some time on Google searching for info, we decided I was feeling a little sodium deficient.   A text conversation with Mary-Hall ensued and she suggested salting the rim of my juice glass like you would a margarita, which was positively genius, but Keith and I decided we both probably needed some salt and some protein.  So we went to one of our favorite restaurants right down the street that we know uses all local and organic fixin’s and doesn’t cook everything in 6 pounds of butter and we each got a meal: a grilled chicken breast on top of their “local salad” of mixed greens, butternut squash and pecans.  And for “dessert” we split an order of sweet potato fries…(they make their own, fry them in peanut oil and salt them.) So I guess technically my “fast” is broken and now I’m just on a juicing-heavy diet, but I don’t feel a bit bad about myself if a grilled chicken breast on a salad of mixed greens is a “cheat.”

Since then, I’ve been doing juice most of the day, and then incorporating one healthy meal.  Day 5 I had an appetizer-size portion seared ahi tuna with avocado along with a small portion of chicken and mushrooms.  Day 6 was a plate of okra sauteed in olive oil and seasoned only with salt and pepper as well as a small bowl of homemade turkey, kale and cannelloni bean soup.  I’m still feeling great, loving the vitamins and minerals I’m getting through the juice, and loving that my meals are small portions of very healthy foods so when I do eat, I don’t feel too full…or guilty.

Okra.  One of my favorites!  Cut the stem-ends off 1 pound of small okra pods.  Sautee on high medium-high heat for 6 or 7 minutes in 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Season with ground red & black peppers and salt to taste.  Delish!

Okra. One of my favorites! Cut the stem-ends off 1 pound of small okra pods. Sautee on high medium-high heat for 6 or 7 minutes in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with ground red & black peppers and salt to taste. Delish!

“Are you seeing any results?”  Yes!  Since starting the juice fast I’ve lost an average of a pound a day and I feel like my mood, productivity at work and energy levels have all improved.  (Except once or twice apparently I’ve teetered on the edge of grumpy because Keith has said, “I think you need to make a juice.”) I think my stomach has shrunk as I could barely finish my chicken breast and greens on Friday night.  Also….and this has been the biggest thing….my cravings have changed.  I no longer want cupcakes and fast food.  If I crave something to eat its more like I really want to eat the fruits and veggies I’m putting in my juice instead of drinking them.  Or for instance, on day 4, for whatever reason I was DYING for a grilled chicken breast.

“I want to try.  Can you tell me what to do?” I love getting to inspire and encourage others to be healthy, so my answer is yes and no.  Disclaimer time: First of all, for full disclosure, while I do have a Masters degree in Health Education, I’m not a doctor or a certified nutritionist or anything like that.  So while I would never knowingly make a risky health decision for myself or others, I’m also not in any place, particularly not knowing your specific health status and circumstances, to advise you on what you should or shouldn’t do from a diet standpoint.  However, I do know enough that I can safely advise you that particularly if you have any health issues, it would be best for you to talk to your doctor before beginning any drastic diet or exercise regimen. Also that barring particular allergies or diseases that might be directly linked to sugar intake or intake of specific vitamins, adding in a few servings of fruits or veggies generally serves to promote overall good health.  So with that being said,  I’ve actually put together a whole page of recipes, tips, suggestions, etc. for you to peruse if you’re thinking of doing your own juice-fast.  You can click the link below to read more!

CLICK HERE for juice recipes, tips on choosing and prepping fruits and veggies and more.

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The Last Paw Paw Muffin

Oh yeah hey blog! Its 2015, time for my annual post. Actually when Bethany posted her paleo recipe earlier week, she reminded me of this half-written post from last summer. Since 1/1/15, our paleo posts have been seeing an uptick in traffic, which I can only assume is due to new years resolutions.  Meanwhile, I am trying a diet called “eat all the sugar and drink all the soda” (don’t recommended). So sorry to disappoint, but much like my diet, there’s nothing healthy for the remainder of this post. Womp womp. But there is a reference to the Jungle Book movie.

—–Written in August 2014—-

Well, its an exciting time over here in Johnson land.  Having been here just over a year now, we’ve made it through all the seasons at least once and yet are still discovering new plants here and there.  Since spring we’ve found a sizeable stand of wild blackberries, a mulberry tree, and two pawpaw trees.

Pawpaw, you ask?

Why yes, apparently they are the largest indigenous fruit in North America.  I had never heard of such, outside of the Jungle Book song Bare Necessities.

bear necessities

Here’s the youtube if you’re craving some Baloo now. So good. Anyway.

One afternoon earlier this summer, Ransom’s Pawpaw (no joke) was walking through our yard and asked August about a tree bearing some unusual fruit.  We had never even noticed it.  I don’t think the trees had much fruit last year, or if they did, we missed it completely.  A few google searches later, we learned that we were proud owners of two pawpaw trees.

As I learned from wikipedia, pears, apples, citrus, etc. were all brought from elsewhere. Besides pawpaws, the only actual indigenous fruits are basically berries and grapes.

That was in May and now, after much anticipation, the paw paws are ripening. The internet will tell you that they taste like a mixture of banana and mango. In my opinion, they are in the same genre as a mango, banana, or papaya (i.e. mushy) but really have a flavor all their own. Honestly to me they taste kind of like a starburst candy.  And that being said, if a mango and a pawpaw were sitting next to each other on the shelf at a grocery store, I’d definitely grab the mango.

pawpaw1However, we’re not talking about grocery stores here.  These are in the yard, and so obviously we’re going to eat them.  And so what did we do first?

Pawpaw Sherbet

Ingredients

1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups pawpaw puree
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups very cold whole milk

1) Mix it all up, and then freeze in your ice maker.

pawpaw2

———– end of old text, resume Jan 2015 ——

Step 2) would be:

2) Leave the sherbet in said freezer and then throw 90% of it out a month later when you need the container for a new batch of non-pawpaw ice cream.

The ice cream was fine but I like my ice cream to be AWESOME. We barely ate it.

I also made some pawpaw muffins and in fact, I am consuming the LAST one right now, in honor of this post. I made a big batch for the freezer in August and we’ve been working our way through them. They are kinda awesome with a unique flavor that’s closest to…. strawberry cake, maybe? They even turned faintly pink inside.

I just took my favorite banana bread recipe and substituted paw paw and slivered almonds for bananas and pecans, respectively. Most reviewers agreed that they were awesome, although in to be fair, all the reviewers were related to me (mother, father, sister-in-law, brother, husband, sons). Husband actually said he’d rather have banana bread.

And now, The World’s First Pawpaw Muffin Selfie
pawpawselfie

The end!

Mini Paleo Pear-Date Bakes

It’s the new year and everyone is making resolutions to work out, get organized, spend more time doing one thing, or less time doing another, ahem, BLOG MORE? and of course, eat healthier foods.  Keith and I have sadly gotten way off the Paleo bandwagon, but are determined to do better in 2015.  This past weekend after whipping up a giant batch of Caveman Chili….still a Bordeaux family favorite…Keith decided he wanted something sweet.  And then he got specific about it.  He wanted something sweet that involved “pears, and maybe dates and nuts that was like a cobbler.”  So of course I took that as a challenge….not to hunt through my cookbooks for a recipe…but to make up one myself.  And then this old familiar feeling crept in and I knew I wanted to make something up and then blog about it.  Because frankly, sharing is more fun and I miss you people.

So I did a trial run Saturday night and it was absolutely amazing and precisely what Keith was hoping for.  And we ate all of it, which meant Sunday night involved a trip to the grocery store and then the making of batch #2…this time carefully writing down how much I used of what, tweaking a few things that didn’t go super easy the first time, etc.  And it was just as delicious.  So behold, I bring you an original, pretty much healthy (minus some sugar naturally contained in fruit and honey) and absolutely tasty desert.

“Mini Paleo Pear-Date Bake”

Like a mini-cobbler or a slice of pie, with a fraction of the sugar, and yummy Paleo-friendly ingredients.

Like a mini-cobbler or a slice of pie, with a fraction of the sugar, and yummy Paleo-friendly ingredients.

Time: about 15 minutes prep time & 15 minutes bake time

Makes: 6 individual portions….so feeds 6 people, or 3 hungry people, or 2 super-hungry people….

Ingredients

*2 Bartlett pears

*2 cups pitted dates

*1 Tablespoon honey

*1/4 cup water

*1 teaspoon coconut oil  (plus additional for topping….see instructions below)

*1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

*1/4 to 1/2 cups crushed walnuts

*Food Processor

*6, 4-oz Ramekins (dishes)

*cookie sheet

*apple corer

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees (F).

2. Slice both pears using an apple corer.  Set aside 6 slices of pear (we’ll get to those later) and throw the rest of the pear slices in the food processor and blend until chopped finely.  (A minute or two) (note: I actually tried to make this in the blender the first night and while it tasted excellent it took about twice as long and was kind of a pain.  I recommend a food processor if you have one, but if you don’t, a high power blender like a Ninja or something will do the trick if you have patience.)

3. Add the 2 cups of pitted dates, 1 tablespoon of honey, 1/4 cup water, 1 teaspoon coconut oil and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon to the food processor.  Blend as long as needed to achieve a puree about the consistency of baby food or applesauce.

4. Fill each ramekin with about 3 ounces of puree (I grabbed a spoon from my everyday silverware to spoon it into the ramekins and it was about two heaping spoon-fulls per ramekin.).  No need to grease or butter or line the ramekins.  Just spoon the puree on in there.

5. Slice the remaining 6 pear slices thinly and then cut them in half so that they (roughly) make small triangular slices.  Insert the slices around the edges of the ramekins standing up and then one in the center. (see photos below to see how it should look).

6. Using either pre-crushed walnuts from a package or crushing your own (Keith crushed our walnuts in a mortar and pestle and they were perfect) sprinkle them over the top of each ramekin to cover the entire surface of the puree.  I used approximately 2 1/2 teaspoons crushed nuts per ramekin….use more or less to taste.

7. The last step before baking is to put a thin layer of coconut oil over the nut topping.  After trying it several different ways over the course of two evenings, I think there’s no real exact science to this.  I used a butter knife to scrape tiny bits off and put about four small pieces in sort of a circle on the nut topping of each Ramekin so that when it melts, it would cover the entire top.  (again, see photos below for some clarification.)

8. Line up the 6 ramekins on a cookie sheet (this makes it easier than trying to get the individual ones in and out of the oven) and bake on 325 for 15 minutes.

9. Best enjoyed when hot as it tastes like a cobbler!  But, if you want to save some for the next day, just cover over with plastic wrap and store in the fridge.  They reheat well in the microwave on high for 40 seconds.  Also, never-mind if the pears turn brown.  They still taste fantastic.

Clockwise from Top Left corner.... 1. spooning in the puree 2. adding the apple slices 3. adding the nut topping 4. adding the un-melted coconut oil clumps.

Clockwise from Top Left corner….
1. spooning in the puree
2. adding the apple slices
3. adding the nut topping
4. adding the coconut oil clumps. (They melt in in the oven!)

Close-ups of pear slices and crushing the walnuts.

Close-ups of pear slices and crushing the walnuts.

Start to finish!!!  Ingredients lined up and ready to go....and then 6 Mini Paleo Pear-Date Bakes hot and fresh out the oven!

Start to finish!!! Ingredients lined up and ready to go….and then 6 Mini Paleo Pear-Date Bakes hot and fresh out the oven!

Variations:  While I haven’t tried making variations yet because I was trying to get this one right…but here are a few ideas that I have for down the road or that might be fun…

*substitute dried apricots for pitted dates as they have less amounts of sugar.

*substitute 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg for the 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.

*substitute apples for pears.

I’d LOVE to know what you think if you try this recipe out…and if you make any variations, I’d love to know about that too!  Leave a comment below!

Composting for Dummies

Bethany mentioned composting in her awesome post on Monday, so today I will share about our new compost pile.  We just so happened to start informally composting several months ago.  {Read: not an expert.}

I happened to visit Bethany during her last composting phase, I think, although this was years ago now.  I believe there was a plastic bin and some worms involved.  I believe she referred to the composting process as “feeding her pet worms”.

That is one way to do it, yes.  Maybe this is what is making Keith shudder – more mouths to feed.  So much responsibility, and so forth.

So take heart, this composting thing does not have to be complicated.  Here are my pointers:

1.) You can’t really mess this up.

Last summer, I let a patch of morning glory vine really get out of control.  Here it was:

IMG_1662

One afternoon I decided to reclaim my flower patch, so I spent a couple of hours literally rolling the Morning Glory vine into a giant lump.  The lump was so big that I could roll it but not exactly pick it up.  I’d say it was approximately the size of bathtub.  And so there it sat in the middle of the garden the several months.

Do you know what it had turned into by springtime?  Compost, {morning} glorious compost.  (har har)

2) Add some brown, add some green.

Sure, there are some complicated composting methods out there.  Lots to learn about ratios and turning and so forth.  My “Self-sufficient Gardener” book has a whole chapter on it, complete with diagrams.  However, the simplest method I’ve come across is, just dump about equal amounts of green to brown.

Sources of green: watermelon rinds, squash necks, all other veggie waste, fresh grass clippings, morning glory vine.

Sources of brown: dried leaves, dried weeds, dried grass, chicken poop, dryer lints, shredded newspaper, dirt

We’ve been following this formula very loosely for several months and haven’t had any odor problem.  (Except for the time that August threw some dead fish in. That was stinky.  Fish are neither green nor brown matter and don’t go in the compost pile, fyi. )  I suspect we add more green than brown in general, just because we have so many garden scraps, but nothing bad has happened to date.

3) Don’t let the perfect stand in the way of the good.

(My life motto these days.)

I spent several months thinking about starting a compost pile but was held back by all the complications.  Forget about all that.  You just need a place to pile the compost, a shovel/hoe/rake, and a container with which to carry the kitchen scraps out to the pile.  After that, just get started.

I looked around for a suitable kitchen container for a while to no avail.  So now I use chip bags or other soon-to-be-trashed items.  Then when they get funky with slightly too old kitchen scraps, I just pitch them.  No need to wash.

Here are our duel compost piles.  Right now, Bin 1 is the compost for use in the garden.  We used a lot of it in the garden this spring, and now as you can see, its grown a healthy layer of grass.   Bin 2 is where we are actively composting.  Once we use up all the compost from Bin 1, we’ll switch.  The door on Bin 2 is removable and fits either bin.

IMG_3263

Having the piles right there on the ground means that the worms and other critters can just make their way in and out as they please.  i.e., no responsibility.  August gives our pile a quick stir with the hoe when we are adding a batch of scraps, but otherwise there’s no maintenance.

For urban composting, I’d probably use some pallets for walls in order to make it match my chicken coop.  But if that’s holding you back, perhaps just find a discreet corner behind the shed or something.  Its just a glorified dirt pile, you can always move it.

4) Chickens get first dibs.

More customized advice for those of us with urban chickens:  I think the chickens are more efficient composters.  So, I’d give them priority on any veggies or fruits you would normally feed them.  Then you can add their poop to the compost pile.

Here at the Johnsons we are composting very haphazardly and its working out just fine.  Our weekly garbage back is much less “messy” and of course I love making something valuable from trash.  Who doesn’t love that?

Moral of the story:

Make a small pile of dirt and dried grass clippings.  Start collecting your kitchen waste and throwing it out there.  The end!

 

What I Did With My Maternity Leave

Just like that, my new baby is 11 weeks old and I am back to work.  What?!?  Where does the time go?

So instead of ‘what I did on summer vacation’, here’s my essay on  my 11-week break from working.

First, I attempted to grow the largest baby on the earth.  Although I didn’t exactly achieve Guinness Book-level baby, I came close enough.  We have a seriously large child over here.  I mean, they all grow up too fast but one Sir Davis has grown VERY quickly.  It hurts a mama’s heart a bit to be constantly putting whole groups of onesies back into storage.  We have blown tall the way to the 9-month stuff.  9-month old baby clothes!  Sniff.  17 lbs.  Also, #backache.

   IMG_3185And this picture is several weeks old.

Second, we have also pretty successfully grown the largest tomato plants on earth.  They are threatening to take over the entire garden.  Well, the cherry tomato is trying to take over all the other tomatoes at least.  I can’t really claim this as a maternity leave activity because we have done exactly nothing to make them so huge.  I do sneak out there when I can to tend things when I can.  Up next: canning tomatoes?  What are we gonna do with all these?

IMG_3186Fun times in the garden.

IMG_3183Large tomato.  Our secret is… nothing.  Luck.

Third, we have all taken luxuriously long naps, day in and day out.  Yes that is a LIE.  Ransom’s daily nap has gone from a solid 2.5 hours to more like 45 minutes some days.  I can’t complain, many kids his age don’t nap at all.  Meanwhile Davis has become the champion of cat-napping.  No, its not good for his little 11-week-old brain development, but I mean honestly, what am I gonna do.  There’s no arguing with babies sometimes.  They wake up when they feel like it.

IMG_3182No one is actually sleeping in this picture.

Fourth, we have played with the LEGOs. Pirate ships, tree forts, castles, race tracks, all manner of wheeled vehicles.  Ransom is a die-hard Lego lover, and he has entirely too many of them even at the tender age of 3.5.  (They are hand-me-downs.  #daddyisapackrat.)  While playing Legos with Ransom, I have been cogitating on the most efficient Lego organizational system.  I’m still tweaking it, but once we get done, I promise to share with the internet.  When I do, a light will shine down from the heavens (with a chorus of angel voices) I’m sure because this has got to be one of the most enduring problems of the modern era.  I mean, what do you do with ALL THESE TINY PIECES?  His room is a serious construction zone/disaster area ALL THE TIME.  Really though, what’s clutter in the grand scheme of things.  Although stepped-on legos do hurt a lot.

IMG_3184Ransom has entered the ‘weird picture face’ phase.

Fifth, I dabbled in Paleo cooking & eating again.  I wanted to try to recapture that “energized” feeling I felt during that Whole30 (okay whole25) I did last year.  This year we made it just under two weeks (Whole11?), and then we had some travel plans and it wasn’t worth sticking to the diet while staying with family.  Plus I really wanted to eat some gluten.  ha.  But, now that the garden veggies are coming in, I am determined to up the health-factor in my cooking.  So get ready for some OKRA recipes because we are going to have a lot of that to eat.

That’s most of it!  There was also: replacing the cabinet pulls in the kitchen, two weeks of swimming lessons, a stomach virus, a couple of trips to Columbus, a couple of power outages, a partridge, and two pear trees.  Oh, wait, make that a couple of paw paw trees.  yes, seriously.  More on that later.  Now we are three days into the next ‘new normal’, and struggling to adjust to another new routine.  I’m now working half-days for the rest of the summer, and looking forward to it, but also missing our totally carefree do-whatever-slash-survival days.

 

 

 

Garden Tour 2014: Nashville Edition

A few weeks ago, Mary Hall graciously took us on a tour of this year’s Johnson family garden.  And it got me thinking that I should follow suit.  Now before you get all excited, lets review that I don’t have a large garden.  In fact, I just have a few things growing here and there, but what I’ve got is strategic so I just had to share.

First off, we have an herb box on our back porch willed with lavender, rosemary and cilantro.  Everything grew gangbusters this year thanks to some stakes and netting I added over it.  Last year, the chickens decided that the herb box was the perfect size for them to hop in and take a dirt bath so our herbs didn’t make it very far.  Although the netting is only loosely draped over the top, it’s been enough to deter my feathered friends from trying to get cozy so I’ll probably continue this practice in years to come.

Lavender, Rosemary, Cilantro.  Yummy tasting and yummier smelling.

Lavender, Rosemary, Cilantro. Yummy tasting and yummier smelling.

 

Next is a new addition to the yard….two blueberry bushes.  If you remember from years past, Keith and I both really love picking blueberries (see here and here for more blueberry adventures, or here and here for some yummy blueberry recipes) so it really only made sense for us to add our own bushes.  Louisa the chicken has developed a penchant for jumping up to grab the ripe berries off the top so we may not end up getting very many until the bushes get bigger.  But I’m glad to have them in our yard nonetheless…and have enjoyed the few tasty berries I’ve already been able to pick from them.

Our two blueberry bushes.  Tasty fruit and nice addition to our landscaping.

Our two blueberry bushes. Tasty fruit and nice addition to our landscaping.

Berries!  Wonder how long before Louisa the chow-hen figures out they are there?

Berries! Wonder how long before Louisa the chow-hen figures out they are there?

Last on the list of growing our own food this year is the actual garden portion of our “garden coop.”  Last year I decided to bring some shade into the coop by growing pole bean plants and cherry tomatoes up the side of the coop.  (You can see the start of that project here, although I apparently neglected to post update photos.)  The beans were wildly successful and the tomatoes were as well so I reprised the project this year and planted from seed long before the last freeze not knowing that you’re supposed to start seeds inside and that beans and tomatoes both have a planting season.  I don’t know if it’s all that fertile soil from the chicken poop, or just dumb luck or a combination of both, but my little seeds are growing like champs, climbing the coop wall like a trellis and already bringing shade to our hens.  The bean plants are full of blooms and I have several baby tomatoes on my tomato vines.  I put some bird netting around this garden too to keep the chickens from digging up my plants and so far it’s been successful.

Edible shade....green beans and tomatoes growing on our chicken coop!  We should have our first harvest in a few weeks!

Edible shade….green beans and tomatoes growing on our chicken coop! We should have our first harvest in a few weeks!

 

Look at how huge those tomatoes and bean plants are!  No stakes needed....they hold themselves up to the side of the coop.

Look at how huge those tomatoes and bean plants are! No stakes needed….they hold themselves up to the side of the coop.

baby beefy boy tomatoes.

baby beefy boy tomatoes.

green beans ready for harvest!

green beans ready for harvest!

And on the non-edibles front, we did a few hanging baskets and such, but the most notable victory has been our daffodils.  Aren’t they lovely?

image

So there you have it.  Not as fancy as the all-out farm that Mary-Hall has cranking at her place, but always exciting to grow your own food.

Foto Friday: Camera “Friend”ly Chickens

Whenever I run into one of the 5 people that actually read our blog, everyone always seems to comment that they love Mary-Hall’s recipes and DIY projects and my chicken posts.  At a wedding a few weeks ago, one of Keith’s co-workers said, “please do another chicken post soon!” So to comply with that tidbit of free “market research,” I figured it was high time for another chicken post, since I haven’t done one since Sylvia died.  And it’s perfect timing too since we’ve been talking about the Not Wedding Dinner Party Styled shoot all week…

All the vendors absolutely cracked up when they found about the chickens and the coop and then became sort of obsessed with them.  We even incorporated the ladies into several of the shots…lured into doing pretty much anything with the help of a few dried worms.  Since the ladies have already had their portraits painted, and won a photo contest, it seemed only logical that being included in a high-fashion, wedding-themed, professional-level photo shoot was the next progression in their path to fame and fortune.  Our friend Hannah snapped some amazing photos that I thought I’d share with you here.  So just scroll away and check out the captions.

Louisa is our jumper...nothing is out of her reach.  She was determined to get to that jar of worms and Hannah's expert timing caught this great shot of her mid-air.

Photo Credit: Hannah Elaine Photography  – Louisa is our jumper…nothing is out of her reach. She was determined to get to that jar of worms and Hannah’s expert timing caught this great shot of her mid-air.

Welcome to our humble abode.

Photo Credit: Hannah Elaine Photography – Welcome to our humble abode.

Louisa was so curious about what was going on....

Photo Credit: Hannah Elaine Photography – Jane was so curious about what was going on….

...but Lousia was confused because everyone knows flowers don't grow in jars.

Photo Credit: Hannah Elaine Photography – …but Louisa was confused because everyone knows flowers don’t grow in jars.

Nothing sells bridesmaid dresses quite like a chicken themed ad....right?

Photo Credit: Hannah Elaine Photography – Erin, Keely and I “clucking away” in front of the coop while the girls forage for treats.

"You really have such a lovely home!  Thanks for inviting us over!"

Photo Credit Hannah Elaine Photography – “You really have such a lovely home! Thanks for inviting us over!”

Jane is jealous that she doesn't get a pretty frock to flaunt.

Photo Credit: Hannah Elaine Photography – Jane is jealous that she doesn’t get a pretty frock to flaunt.

Enjoying a quiet snack together.

Photo Credit: Hannah Elaine Photography – Enjoying a quiet snack together.

The dresses were "you break it, you buy it" which proved not conducive to chicken holding.

Photo Credit: Hannah Elaine Photography – The dresses were “you break it, you buy it” which proved not conducive to chicken holding.

Holding a chicken in a beautiful dress.  The irony was just too much.

Photo Credit: Hannah Elaine Photography – Holding a chicken in a beautiful dress. The silliness of it all was just too much.

...aaaaaaand......i'm outta here!

Photo Credit: Hannah Elaine Photography – …aaaaaaand……i’m outta here!

Beverly wasn't down with sitting at the table, either.

Photo Credit: Hannah Elaine Photography – Beverly wasn’t down with sitting at the table, either…

but she let us get this one final "family portrait."

Photo Credit: Hannah Elaine Photography – …but she let us get this one final “family portrait.”

Photo Credit: Julee Duwe Roark - Lousia is always on a mission with a story to tell...

Photo Credit: Julee Duwe Roark – Lousia is always on a mission with a story to tell…

The girls have also never met a stranger and love it when people stop by to see them which is a good thing because it seems to happen frequently.  But when it comes to holding still for a picture, Beverly is the most patient with those not used to holding hens.  Plus, she’s just so fluffy and yellow that it’s quite adorable.  My favorite quote of all time is when a business contact of mine said, in the most serious tone ever, “Do you think Beverly Clucky KNOWS she’s the prettiest of all the chickens?”  So here you go, just for fun, a few additional pictures of Beverly with the friends she’s made along the way.  Oh, and one of Louisa, just for good measure.

Elaine of "Events by Elaine" noted it was her first time having chickens as event props and decor.

Photo Credit: Hannah Elaine Photography – Elaine of “Events by Elaine” noted it was her first time having chickens as event props and decor.

Keely wasn't so sure at first, but Beverly won her over.

Photo Credit: Hannah Elaine Photography – Keely wasn’t so sure at first, but Beverly won her over.

Hayley (Make Up Artist) posted this pic of her and Louisa to Instagram....Lousia wasn't feeling snuggly.

Photo Credit: Reuben Bidez – Hayley (Make Up Artist) posted this pic of her and Louisa to Instagram….Lousia wasn’t feeling it and jumped down shortly thereafter.

Reuben, the bartender behind "Peace In The Valley" clearly picked the wrong girl to snuggle with.  Love the live action shot as Louisa gets away, and how calmly Bevery looks on in the background.

Photo Credit: Hayley Bidez – Reuben, the bartender behind “Peace In The Valley” clearly picked the wrong girl to snuggle with. Love the live action shot as Louisa gets away, and how calmly Bevery looks on in the background.

My boss Kelly and her nephew Will came by a few weeks ago to see the chickens.  Will thought they were cool to watch, but when asked if he wanted to hold one, he wrinkled his nose and said, "Mmmmmm, no tanks."

I snapped this sweet moment on film when my boss Kelly and her nephew Will came by a few weeks ago to see the chickens. Will thought they were cool to watch, but when asked if he wanted to hold one, he wrinkled his nose and said, “Mmmmmm, no tanks.”