Archives for October 2011

Chipotle’s Boo-rito Costume Contest

Our Family Farm inspired costume for Chipotle Restaurant's "Boo-rito Costume Contest".

I have absolutely no shame when it comes to making a fool of myself for something I believe in. Add to that a chance to win some serious cash and you have no idea how shameless I can be.

When Amanda called me and told me Chipotle Restaurant’s were having a “family farm” costume contest with a $2,500 first prize and five $1,000 runner up prizes, I practically ran up into the attic to see what I could piece together. The rules of the contest stated that you had to submit a photo that clearly showed that you were in or outside a Chipotle Restaurant. Plus, tonight after 6:00 if you went there in a costume you got a burrito for $2 with all proceeds going to Chipotle’s Cultivate Foundation and Farm Aid.

I had one adult chicken costume for me that I bought last year. I figured if business got slow on Free Range Friday’s I could stand out there in a chicken suit and attract customers. So far I haven’t had to use it, so this could be it’s big debut.

Believe it or not, I dragged down the India’s chick costume from when she was 3-1/2, and with a few snips at the seams and removal of the sleeves, I managed to stuff Maia into it! The costume was showing it’s age after 9 years of attic storage and there was some serious “molting” going on.

And we managed to get India into the scarecrow costume I made last year for our Wizard of Oz theme.

We brought a real chicken for India to hold. We decided to re-name her Chipotle after tonight's adventure.

For Jim I went to the local Goodwill in search of a pair of overalls but they didn’t have any. I don’t think a lot of people in our area wear overalls. I did find them at the local army/navy store and they were pretty inexpensive compared to what they’re getting for normal jeans these days. They also had one of those caps with the fake fur ear flaps I’ve been wanting for winter farm chores that would be perfect.

Jim wore a flannel shirt with the overalls and the cap and we stuffed some hay in his bib and pants pockets. The finishing touch was Kiki. She came along for the ride. I’m quite sure grace was pissed that she didn’t get to go and I’m sure I’ll hear it from her tomorrow.

Farmer Jim and Kiki

Evan was being a typical 11-year old boy and couldn’t squeeze his family in when he had trick or treating to do with his friends.

You should have seen the faces on the people working at Chipotle when we walked in. They couldn’t run for their phones to take their own pictures fast enough. They asked us where we rented the goat and chicken! Both goat and chicken were very well behaved and we didn’t have any unfortunate poop or pee incidents while inside. I figure that will help our chances of winning.

They announce the winners on November 15th, so keep your fingers crossed for us. If we win one of the cash prizes, I’ll give the girls each a little money for Christmas shopping and maybe some special treats for the goats and chickens too, but I sure would be thrilled to be able to send a bunch of it back to some farm charity or use some to for the membership dues the Connecticut Farm Bureau and the Connecticut chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association.

Windows & Wood

The side of an old log homestead's barn on Mormon Row in Kelly, Wyoming.

The Outhouse

This was an outhouse at a property I looked at yesterday. A series of dilapidated buildings on a nice piece of land. The worn colors on this outhouse were gorgeous.

An October Nor’Easter?

Although the weatherman predicted it, I have learned not to believe it until I see it when it comes to weather predictions. Well, for once they were right. By mid-morning it was snowing here, and by mid-afternoon the power and internet were out. Driving was a bit slippery, the highway was crawling, and it was really, really cold out for Connecticut on October 29th.

A Land Trust field in Westport, CT covered in Snow today - October 29th. Crazy.

This was the view out my car window on Interstate I-95 today around 1:00 this afternoon. Maia and I went up to the new Shake Shack for a late lunch with the gift certificate she won at her school's halloween dance last night for having the most creative costume.

"What the heck is that?" the goats were all asking me this morning. Kiki and Grace had never seen snow before, and Princess Kate may not remember it from her younger kid days. They wanted nothing to do with the snow today.

Large branches still filled with fall leaves were snapped by the heavy snow, bringing power lines down everywhere.

Our power came back on tonight around 10:00, which I’m very grateful for. Our house was beginning to get really cold and we were all walking around with hats and winter coats on. The internet just came on recently, and I’m even more grateful for that luxury.

Halloween 2011 & Other Things

As I said in the posts on Halloween Costumes Through the Years, I have lost my Halloween spirit this year. I don’t want to make a costume for anybody. I guess I’ve burned myself out. When the kids asked what they were going to be this year, I told them to go shopping up in the attic, where I keep all of the old costumes (or at least the ones worth saving).

The kids all had a Halloween dance at their school tonight, and although not all kids were going to go in costume, all of mine wanted to. There was a prize for “most creative” costume, and Maia had her eye on that prize.

Maia decided she would resurrect her sandwich costume from a few years ago. I really can’t remember what year she wore this, but I suspect it was that year that India was the mother dog with a box full of puppies, as that seems to be the only year I’m missing photos of the twins’ costumes.

Maia as a sandwich. A costume I made a few years ago that we recycled. I just had to freshen up the paint on the pickle hat and make a new toothpick for it and she was all set.

India remembered that last year, until I got going with my Wizard of Oz theme, I had bought all of the materials to make her a jellyfish costume. While India did attempt to make this herself, I did find myself doing a lot of the work on this costume. Luckily it wasn’t that complicated of a costume to make, and I think it came out really cute.

India the jellyfish. This was a pretty simple costume to make and it looked pretty good. I've seen it done more recently with streamers hung off of a clear umbrella and that looks really great too.

Evan’s costume came about in a funny way. Evan loves candy — probably more than most kids do. In Jackson, Wyoming there’s one of the best candy stores I’ve ever been to. When Evan gets older he plans on buying the current owner out and re-naming it “Evan’s Heaven”. Evan also has an irrational fear of not succeeding in life and becoming homeless. Amanda came across this photo on Pinterest and sent it to me.

I sent the photo to Evan since it was a funny/sad combination of two things he could relate to. Surprisingly, he thought it was a great idea for a Halloween costume. Since it would probably be the easiest costume I’ve ever done, I heartily agreed. He already owned a red plaid shirt and jeans, so the only thing I had to buy was a plain black cap.

Evan's costume.

But then, while I’m searching for the original photo Amanda had sent to me, I come across incredible photos like these of real homeless people and animals.

And it makes me think how fortunate I’ve been in my life. How lucky my children are. And how lucky I feel to be able to give my animals a happy place to live with plenty of food to eat.

But it also makes me realize that Evan’s fears may seem irrational to me, but he has real anxiety issues, and they are very real to him at times. As his mother it’s hard to grasp it, but at 11 years old, my child can lose sleep worrying about things like this.

So I’ll let him wear his costume again on Halloween night. But this costume was never meant to poke fun at the unfortunate homeless people in the world. It was meant to make light of a two personality traits in my son. His love of candy, which is funny, and his anxiety, which is not.

Wow. What started as a nice, lighthearted post sure ended shitty, didn’t it?

Vines & Berries

I was at a beautiful home up in Redding, Connecticut today. They had a gorgeous old stone garage with old wood doors covered in these red fall-leaved vines and beautiful blue berries. Stunning.

Peanut-Pecan Butter and Oatmeal Cookies

I came across this recipe in the November 2011 issue of Bon Appetit‘s r.s.v.p. section. I have found so many great recipes in that column. It’s from Big Spoon Roasters in  North Carolina. It sounded really interesting because it has peanut butter, toasted pecans, and both old-fashioned and quick-cooking oats in the recipe, which sounded like the perfect combination to me. Not too peanutty, not too overwhelmingly pecan, and just enough oatmeal. And that is exactly what these cookies are. Perfect. I brought them to a meeting tonight and they disappeared before the meeting even started. Luckily I saved a bunch to keep here at home.

Having a large family as well as somewhere I could bring cookies to tonight, I doubled the recipe and it worked great.

Peanut-Pecan Butter and Oatmeal Cookies

Original recipe from Bon Appetit, November, 2011. Altered slightly by Crafty Farm Girl, October, 2011.

Yield: About 20 3” cookies

1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
1/3 cup pecans, toasted, cooled
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
½ cup old-fashioned oats
¼ cup quick-cooking oats

Combine peanut butter and pecans in a food processor and puree until almost smooth.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.

Using an electric mixer, beat both sugars and butter in a large bowl until fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Add peanut butter mixture and vanilla. Beat to blend well.

Beat in egg.

Add dry ingredients and mix until well combined.

Add both oats. Continue to blend at high speed for 1 minute.

Now here’s where I veered off from the original recipe. The original recipe said to refrigerate the dough for at least 3 hours and then scoop them onto foil-lined cookie sheets. I was running out of time, so I scooped the dough out onto parchment lined baking sheets, spacing about 1” apart (using a scoop that held just under 3 tablespoons of dough), and then refrigerated the cookie sheets for about 45 minutes before baking. This seemed to work just fine. They also said to use a foil-lined baking sheet, but I used parchment and that also seemed to have no ill effects on the final cookie.

Arrange racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 375 degrees. Bake until light golden, 10-12 minutes (rotate baking sheets 180 degrees halfway through baking).

Let cookies cool on sheets for 2 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Grace Gives Ballet Lessons

I was outside the other day and caught Grace in such a strange position that I decided she was giving ballet lessons to Kiki.

"And point that toe!"

"And stretch that leg!"

Kiki looks like she's doing a pretty good job in her first ballet lesson.

Until grumpy Melina tells Grace to stop goofing around and start acting like a goat.

So Grace tells Kiki the lessons over for the day.

And that’s the way it is today here in my strange little world.

And they just keep coming…

I really think I’ve found one of my favorite form of art. I just can’t seem to get enough of making these linoleum print cards. I added 3 new ones to the portfolio in the past week or two. For the first time I printed these using an oil-based block printing ink. While it’s a bigger clean-up, I really liked the results and thought it made a ‘cleaner’ print than the water based ink does.

The Snowy Farmhouse printed card.

Silver Spangled Hamburg black print with red hand-painted combs.

Japanese Gray Cockerel black print with red hand-painted combs.

And although it’s time consuming, I love the pop of color the red combs add to the rooster and chicken prints.

I’m working on a new one right now from one of my favorite photographs of a crested crane that will use a salmon colored hand-painted accent color.  We’ll see how that looks.

Litchfield County, Connecticut

As some of you may know, I long to leave my small plot of land behind and move to the country to a much larger piece of land. To a real farm. I’d like more goats, more chickens, my horses, some sheep, and at least one cow. Probably an alpaca for kicks and most certainly a donkey. And a barn cat. Jim and Maia are allergic, but I figure in a barn it could keep the mice down and it won’t bother them out there.

An area that I am continually drawn to is Litchfield County in northwestern Connecticut. It’s one of the few remaining areas of Connecticut that still has a small bit of farmland left undeveloped. I’ve been up there quite a few times over the past few months for various reasons, and I’ve yet to see anything I don’t like about the area.

While I was driving up there yesterday I had some extra time so cut off the main route to take some back roads. I found the most beautiful roads with old farmhouses from the 1800’s and rolling hills and pastures. This kind of land is becoming pretty scarce in Connecticut.

And many of them were still working farms. I actually saw a lot of cows.

This farm had mostly Holstein cows, but they had this beautiful Brown Swiss steer. I love the color of these cows.

I saw one simple but beautiful farmhouse that appeared to be empty. I turned into their driveway to take a better look, and there, behind a hedge, I was greeted by this lovely flock of ladies. I guess the house wasn’t empty after all, since they certainly looked happy and healthy.

Every street I turned down seemed to take me on an even more beautiful road than the one before it. It was a lovely fall day which certainly helped. I was coming up a rather steep hill, and I’d already been climbing quite a bit. I stopped to take a picture of the views.

All of a sudden, there on my left, was a field full of Randall cattle. This had to be Howland Homestead Farm. When I first became interested in heritage breed animals, Randall Cattle were one of the first I looked into after reading an article on them in Hobby Farms Magazine. I actually called this farm and took the kids up there one cold and snowy early spring day, where we all got a chance to milk a cow. It’s an image that the kids love finding on Google, and it was there on their website when I got home to confirm that it was, in fact, the same farm I’d visited probably 7 years ago.

I was so surprised to come across a field full of Randall Cattle on my back roads side trip.

And here's the picture of us milking a Randall cow at that very farm probably 6 or 7 years ago.

One day I will own a Randall cow. Maybe in this very area.

This barn had a similar decorating style as my newly completed goat house has I thought.

My goat house.

It was a lovely day spent in a lovely area.

The covered bridge in Cornwall, Connecticut.