Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Make Time...

Hello everyone! I hope that you are having a great month of January! Things have been very busy around our Little Backyard Farm and I am glad that we have been able to take few family walks with the kids, despite the cold temperatures.

We all might start having those winter blues and they are not pretty - kids are getting antsy and crabby and let's admit it - so do we. Try to get yourselves and the kids outside as much as possible!

And generally this is not only about the mood... it is also about family time. Times are busy and we get caught up in life, work, and technology. Make some time for the kids and bring your phone along only to snap pictures...

Make memories...

Notice the small things... that are really the big things...

Kids don't remember their best day of television...

... so go outside and do something you all will remember!

I hope you all have a great time making memories...

~ Monika ~

Friday, January 09, 2015

New Year's Blessings

There is a switch in our minds that gets turned on by the sounds of fireworks on the New Year's Eve. Have you noticed that? I start thinking about all the things that I didn't get to do last year and I am starting to set all different kinds of resolutions for myself for the next year. I take out my notebook and start writing down plans and pointers to get me on the right track. But then as most of the previous years, life happens and I forget about the plans (I did however stick with couple resolutions in the past... just to keep it real) I fall into the same old routine and the same old habbits. Why should this year be different?

Most likely it will not be different and therefor I decided to focus on different part of it all. I decided to count my blessings. Every year we experience ups and downs and we tend to remember the major events that happen to us. But I decided that I don't want to forget even the smallest things... the cutest things my kids say to me... dates with my husband... accomplishments big or small... traveling memories...

To keep a track of it all, I made this blessing jar. I will write my blessings on pieces of paper and I will place them into the jar. At the end of the year... or when life gets tough, I will read them. Because God is good and I don't want to forget!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thanksgiving Table Centerpiece

I have been busy with my Etsy shop orders and neglected my blog for a while and I am sorry about that ;-) Since I love this little place of ideas sharing, food growing, and meals cooking, I am back and hopefully my new plan for this blog will bring everyone more inspiration than ever before.

We are all in our Thanksgiving week preparations just about now and if you need last minute decoration idea, you came to the right place! You can have kids help you with this one or you don't have to, but I had them work on most of it ;-) Put them to work for you, if you can - my advice anyway...

First cut out leaf patterns from construction paper. You can add some fabric, burlap, or felt leaves if you wish. Write on them things that everyone in your family is thankful for - some of my kids words make me laugh but they are truly thankful for those things (like my daughter's love for Hello Kitty was true). Punch a hole on one side to be able to hang them up.

Fill a vase or large jar (how lucky that I found this large Mason Jar on garage sale - my all time favorite) with rocks. Even candy corn, dry corn, or sand will work.

Bring sticks from the outside. Best are those with bunch of small branches coming out of them for fun display of leaves. Place them in the vase, pushing them down into the rocks for stability.

Now tie a burlap fabric or a large ribbon around the mouth of the jar and hang up the leaves. I save the leaves from year to year and kids add new leaves with new things they are thankful for. They love looking back at what they loved and thanked for in the previous years. And so do I!

Monday, October 06, 2014

Announcing my new Etsy Shop and Give Away

I am beyond excited to finally open my new Etsy Shop!!! I have been thinking about this for so long but it was never a good time. In life we often plan but God thinks differently, right? So He finally decided it was time for me to make it happen... ;-) You can see the link in my side bar, so feel free to come and take a look if there is anything that you might like for yourself or someone you know! I also make things to order so don't hesitate to convo me and I will be happy to fulfill your wish.

As a part of the celebration, I am hosting a Give Away on my Instagram Account, so please come and participate. You never know, you might just be the random winner of these goodies! The Give Away is open till Tuesday night. Click here to get to the photo. Good Luck!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Homemade Gifts by Kids - Create your own ISPY Book

Since the Holiday season is slowly approaching I thought this might help you guys out! For the next few weeks I will share with you some of my kids' homemade gifts. We love giving and receiving meaningful presents, especially when they are perfectly fitting the person on the other end. 

The iSpy Book

My kids made this for their cousins' birthdays. It happened to be their favorite kind of book at the time and my kids were very excited they came up with the best gift!

Do you know someone who is a big I SPY Book fan? 

In that case, keep reading...

First, have your kids pick a group of toys they would like to use and set up their first scene. You can either have the kids take a picture or take it yourself (usually depends on each individual kid... some four year olds could be very skillful with a camera ;-)

We also secretly went to their house and set up a scene from their actual toys (luckily they were out of town and we were taking care of their house ;-)

After we took all the pictures we wanted, we uploaded them to iPhoto and edited them. We cropped them and also fixed the exposure and color if it was needed.

I use Shutterfly for all my photo books but if you have a site that is your favorite, you can use that one. Shutterfly has many coupons available most of the time and sometimes you even get the book for free - you just pay shipping. Using their templates we turned our idea into a fabulous book!

After you upload all your photos, you place them onto the pages, and decorate with different embellishments (if you wish of course). Then go back to the pictures and come up with the riddles, which you place on opposite page!

This was such a fun project that we all worked on together for couple weeks. We took our time, went back and forth to adjust different things, but at the end it was all worth it. My kids wanted to have their own copy as well so I had to order two.

We made sure to personalize the book with messages for the boys and personal pictures of all of them together!

Here is an idea for a title page photo ;-)

The boys loved the gift so much!

I hope this helped and have fun with this project!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Kids and Chickens - Why is Chicken Keeping Beneficial for Our Kids

Old McDonald had a Farm ... which little child wasn't in love with this song at some point in their life? We live at least part of this song daily here at our little backyard farm and I see the impact of caring for animals on my children. 

We can go and see animals at the ZOO or a petting place but to experience the ownership that brings on responsibilities in the children is priceless. We have had chickens even before our kids were born, so they both came to live into the farm environment. Last year, we finally decided to get them each a pet chicken. Up until that time, all our chickens were sort of pets that had to go every few years because they would stop laying eggs. But I realized how important it was to them to have a feathered creature here to stay.

And that's how we came to Brownie and Whiny. This above is Brownie - they are both Bantams, miniature chickens. I like having small chickens for the kids, because they are easier for them to handle.
Many times I catch the kids hanging out with their birds. Here is T enjoying afternoon rest with Brownie. 

 Having chickens keeps my kids connected to the reality of where food comes from. They also learn responsibility and compassion towards animals, something that God intended for us to have and to teach to our children. When we come to a slight bump and we have to deal with some emergency in the coop, kids are always involved and they help us solve the problem. Here is Whiny when she nearly died as a baby and we helped her back to life by feeding her sugar water using dropper. 

They LOVE collecting the eggs from nesting boxes and feeding the girls!

During the winter months we grow earthworms for our chickens for healthy snack... what kid doesn't like to participate in something gross right? Our daughter used to be afraid of these wigglers and this exposure helped her feel comfortable and now she handles them without a problem!

 Generally kids love animals and it is up to us parents to nurture that relationship. To close this post, let me list some suitable chicken breeds for you to consider:
  • Silkies
  • Cochins
  • Australorps
  • Bantams
  • Sussex
  • Delaware
  • Red star chickens
are all friendly breeds and are best to make special connection with your kids. Well, this is so exciting and I hope you will start your little chicken coop soon! 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Dreamy Meatloaf Recipe

I used to make meatloaf according to an internet recipe I found and it was good... But then I remembered how my mom used to make this meatloaf, filled with pickles and eggs and hot dogs and I really wanted to try make it myself (to spice up the menu ;-) - don't we all wish to do that). 

Just a note - if you have been following my blog for a while, you know we raise our own chickens and turkeys and I am a big fan and supporter of people eating organic, free range, local meats - so I am using a ground beef that was lovingly raised on my husband's uncle's farm. We just love when we know where our food comes from ;-)

You will need

1 lb of ground beef
1/2 of bagel or 1 french roll
1 egg
1 small onion
3 garlic cloves
2 tbsp majoram
2 tbsp ground caraway
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp of black pepper

For Filling

Hard boiled eggs
Hot dog

give or take 
the amount depends on what you like best - you can double up on the egg and leave out the hot dog etc...

First cut up the bagel or roll and dip it into the milk. Wait until it absorbs the milk and becomes soft and mushy. 

Then work it with hands until it looks like this.

Set it aside and mix the rest of the ingredients ...

... in a Kitchen Aid like mixer - or just use you hands. Preheat oven to 350.

Take it out of the bowl, lay it out on your counter, and form it into a half an inch thick long oval.

Lay the eggs and cucumbers (or hot dogs) on top of the meat mixture...

... and wrap it all up. The mixture should be holding well together.

Pour oil and half of cup of water into a glass (or any) oven dish and place the meatloaf in it.

Bake for 45 minutes (Please check your meatloaf after 35 minutes - ovens might vary and that could make a huge difference) and during that time open the oven couple times to pour some of the oil mixture that is in the dish over the meatloaf to keep it from drying out. Don't take it out of the oven but just turn on the broil option and keep it in for 5 minutes. Observe carefully so you don't burn it. This gives it a crunchy seal (if you prefer not softer meatloaf, skip this step)

You are ready to let it cool down for easier cutting! I hope you enjoy this fun spin on your meat loaf!