Earth Day 2009: Happy Earth Day!

Fun In The Making joined the Earth Day celebration in Leonardtown Maryland in the historic town center. I had a display set up with lots of examples of eco-friendly projects and craft ideas. It was fun to inspire people to be creative and to reuse. The day was nice and I enjoyed meeting all of you who came by my table.

The Owls were there too. The Owls is the name of the kids’ environmental club my daughter started last year but hadn’t named until this year. This was the second year that they were at Earth Day, helping children make free egg-heads with grass hair. The egg-head project was a big hit with the kids! The Owls were also raising money for WWF adopt an animal program. They sold heirloom tomato seedlings and collected donations. This year they (the 5 attending Owls) decided to raise money for the polar bears. After a last minute donation, the girls reached their goal of $50. Good work girls!

Some Owls (a kid's environmental club) Earthday 2009
Two Owl members.

happy egg-head crafters
Two proud crafters.

Want to know how to make these cute egg heads with grass hair?

Delicious Home-made Chicken Soup Made With Locally Raised, Free Range Chicken

bowl of chicken soup

We’ve been raising chickens for about 4 years now. They are truly charming and we love them. However, roosters can cause problems. First of all, although often very pretty, you can’t keep very many. It is suggested that you have one rooster to 25 hens. We therefore, only need to keep around one and only if we want fertilized eggs for hatching baby chicks. You don’t need a rooster at all to get eggs by the way. Fertilized and unfertilized eggs are indistinguishable in taste. Second, if you hatch out chicks (on average half are male), when they become “teenagers” they start to fight. In addition, if there aren’t enough hens, the rooster(s) can hurt the hen’s back from too much mating. This can lead to complete feather loss on their backs and even large cuts from the rooster’s claws and spurs. Third, not always but sometimes you will have an over aggressive rooster and they will attack you or worse your kids. For these reasons, we on occasion have locally raised chicken for dinner.

If you want to know that the chicken that you eat is humanly raised; raise them yourself. Our chickens have a very large area in which to range, peck, and scratch around like chickens. This area is fenced however, to keep away stray dogs or a marauding fox.Furthermore, I can make sure they have a healthy diet. So, why not enjoy chicken soup on occasion and have your own supply of superior eggs.

I always make a soup out of the leftovers and my family loves it.

cup of chicken soup
I bake the chicken in my cast iron French oven (Dutch oven) made by Le Creuset. After the first dinner, I pick off any meat that is quick and easy to remove. Then I add enough water to cover the chicken bones. I also add a large onion (cut up in large chunks), a bay leaf or two, some fresh thyme from my garden, a few stocks of celery if I have any, and simmer it on the stove with the cover on but not completely closed for an hour or more. I then remove the carcass to anther container. If I’m making the soup right away, I scoop the droopy onion and celery out of the broth. Then I add some veggies- like chopped carrots, peas, corn… and a starch (brown rice, barley, or noodles). While that stuff is simmering on the stove in the same French oven, I pick all the meat off the bones. When the Veggies (and rice) are cooked, I add the chicken meat. I used to always shy away from dark meat but not anymore. Season with salt and pepper or leave out the salt and put in a bouillon cube instead.
I have an old fashion kind of cooking style. It’s the kind where you use up things that you have on hand, I don’t measure (well maybe when baking), and I make things to taste (shouldn’t we all?).

pot of chicken soup
I make soup like my dad; thick with lots of stuff.

Protect Vegetable Transplants With Home-Made Glass Garden Cloches

MYO jug cloche
My husband made these cute little garden cloches for me. I Think that Martinelli’s apple juice jugs (1.5 liters) look nice with the leaf pattern in the glass but use whatever you can get your hands on. I hope to find some gallon sized jugs next; I’ve seen them in stores. Cloches are very useful in family vegetable gardens like mine!

MYO jug garden cloche
These home-made cloches acts like a mini greenhouse.
How to:
Collect glass jugs. After I transplant tender plants into my garden, I like to set out my home-made garden cloches beside each plant (in this case broccoli) that way they will be close when needed. If it gets cold at night or if it is going to be cold for a few days, I put these cloches over the transplants to keep them warmer.
Removing the bottom off your glass jugs:
Basically you roll the bottle around creating a score line: the tool holds the bottle in place so you get a straight line. You heat the score line with the flame of a candle then cool the area with cool tap water. If all goes well the bottom will just fall off. Then file or sand the raw edge. Plan to practice on a few scrap bottles. Follow the detailed instructions included with your bottle cutter. This is a good beginner bottle cutter project because the edge doesn’t need to look flawless as in when cutting drinking glasses.

bottle cutter
I’ve included a picture of the bottle cutter that we own. We like the bottle cutter that we got but apparently they aren’t available anymore. (It was called BottleCutter) However, if you Google bottle cutter you will find other brands for sale.

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