Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mothers Day Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

"Oops I picked some mint!"
Mothers Day Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

The kids and I were gardening and Julie accidently snapped off some of our mint. What was a mom like me to do? Make some cookies!!! Since I love chocolate with my mint, I thought that mint chocolate chip cookies would be perfect!

First step, grab your ingredients!
½ cup butter, at room temp
½ cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1 beaten egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-1/2 cup flour
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp baking soda
1 cup chopped chocolate
2 tbs freshly chopped mint (you can add more if you want a more ‘minty’ taste) 

Preheat oven to 350
Stir ingredients together
Form dough into balls, arrange on cookie sheet, flatten slightly and then bake!
Bake 12to 15 min and then cool for 15 min

"Time to sneak some cookies!"
Eat and enjoy!!!

-Amanda and Julie

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Aller Farm Update

Its time for an update on the Aller Farm. If you remember last fall we started an urban farm by taking 1/5 of our back yard and putting in 8 3x6 flower beds. (Since then we put in an herb patch, two more veggie beds measuring 3x8, and then a fence all around it to keep the dog and kids out).
 Over the winter we grew four different varieties of lettuce, spinach, broccoli, two varieties of cauliflower, three different kinds of kale, swiss chard, and garlic. We harvested everything in early spring but the garlic (which will be done growing in July) and planted more broccoli and cauliflower, spinach and lettuce. We harvested these two more times and then planted our late spring /summer goodies!
We have ten different varieties of tomato, corn, herbs, radishes, beans, peas, asparagus, onions, garlic, carrots, 8 varieties of cucumber, zucchini, squash (3 different varieties),  peppers (bell, chili, and jalapeno), a raspberry patch and two blueberry bushes. We also have over 100 different varieties of flowers (marigolds, poppies, and sunflowers have been planted between vegetables, to add color, attract bees, and in the case of the marigolds keep the bad bugs away).
We added five chickens to the farm a few weeks back, two full grown egg laying hens and three chicks. Our hens Yulie and Ulga have a cute little coop in the back and free range of the yard. They eat our bugs and leave some nutritious poop throughout the garden. Unfortunately they started taking dirt baths in my flowers so we had to install bamboo spears with deer netting over them to keep the ladies out.
The chicken protection wasn’t the only thing we got to build. We have been experimenting with different kinds of trellises. We have teepees, square trellises, and wall trellises all of which have been strung up differently (so we can figure out which style works the best), and is all 100% compostable.
In the next month our radishes will be harvested and the next grouping should start to sprout. The onions and garlic will be pulled and dried in the next month, and the tomatoes are starting to turn red! We will keep you updated throughout the summer on how the big harvests go!


Friday, May 11, 2012

A Happy Green (and blue) Wedding

We have been hard at work planning the wedding for Kristins baby brother Jason and his wonderful fiance Jen! In the last month the couple has graduated from college, purchased a house, will be getting married and then running off to Hawaii to celebrate it all. Needless to day the couple wanted something easy, inexpensive and fun for their big day.
We are really excited about the results! The Bride and Groom will be celebrating their nuptials with 80 of their closest friends and family with  a picnic wedding. Over the next few days we will share with you some of the DIY projects that we have been doing to make their special day extra great! The first project is going to be our mason jars!
Hanging Mason Jars
WE LOVE MASON JARS! So much so that we have hundreds stored at our two homes, so we knew this was going to be the perfect wedding accessories (and in our case the perfectly free decoration!). The couple will be hosting their reception at the park under a giant roof. We have suspended mason jar vases and tea light holders in front of each of the pillars. For the tables we have made vases, candle holders, and even some adorable crayon holders to keep the kiddos occupied!

In order to make the hanging mason jars we wound twine around the bottom lip of the mason jar twice, then secured it with a tight knot. We then attached a long strand of twine on opposite sides of the mason jar. We staggered the night of the three jars that we hung together to give it more of a chandelier look.
The best part of this is that after the wedding all of the twine can be re used and so can all of the jars!

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Happy Green Life Book Club

Radical Homemaking by Shannon Hayes
This month we are going to feature an amazing book, one of my favorites actually, Radical Homemakers by Shannon Hayes. Let me start off by saying that this book isn’t exactly a book that you can read to the kids (maybe you could but it would probably put them to sleep).  It isn’t inappropriate in any way but it is pretty heavy and adult oriented.
I have decided to feature it because I think its message is really important. I heard about this book while listening to NPR one morning. They were talking about the power of being a homemaker. There is a hidden revolution (not so hidden if you hang with my group of friends) of people leaving their corporate, consumer driven lives and starting down a new path of ecological sustainability. This path (and I think a lot of our readers are already on it) focuses on sustainability, social justice, the community, the family, health, and happiness. The people on this path take pride in making things, cooking things, and growing things. They are women who are choosing to stay home not to be docile servants to their spouses (like so many think homemakers are) but because they are feminist who see that by staying home they can take care of their families and give them better lives. They are men who stay home because they have the skills that can give their families a better future.
The book Radical Homemaking looks at different people in all kinds of walks making this change. Some have made a total change and left the city behind to live a rural farm life. Others are implementing sustainability and radical homemaking into their urban lives.
I found this book really inspiring. I went to college and had an amazing corporate career, but chose not to go back when I had my babies. I was lucky and my family had the means to support this decision. I wanted to be the one home with my girls when they first walked and first talked. There were times though that I questioned if I was making the right decision. In my heart I knew I was but this book helped me to see that by staying home I could offer my family as much as I could when I was in the corporate world, even more.
Check it out, I think it is an amazing book! It may even be a perfect Mothers Day gift for that radical homemaker in your life.

Meatless Monday

Since it was just Cinco de Mayo I thought we could make our Meatless Monday dish something in theme so tonight we are having:

Vegetarian Mexican Lasagna

Serves 6

1 (15-ounce) can pinto, pink or black beans, drained and rinsed

1 (14-ounce) can diced crushed tomatoes

1/4 C. chopped cilantro

1 clove finely minced garlic

1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles

2 C. frozen corn kernels, thawed

2 scallions, minced

1/2 t. ground cumin

1/2 t. dried oregano

8 corn tortillas

1 1/2 C. grated Monterey Jack cheese

sour cream, optional

Preheat oven to 400°F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine beans, tomatoes, cilantro, garlic, chiles, corn, scallions, cumin and oregano; mix thoroughly.

Oil a 2-quart baking dish and line with 4 tortillas, overlapping if necessary. Spread half of bean mixture in a layer over tortillas. Sprinkle with half of the cheese. Repeat with remaining tortillas, beans and cheese.

Bake 20 - 25 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly. Let stand 1 or 2 minutes, then cut into squares to serve. Top each serving with a dollop sour cream if desired.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

coloring mason jars

We love mason jars here at A Happy Green Life. We use them for decorations, canning, we even use them in our chicken feeders!My favorite mason jars are the vintage blue ones, I am always looking for them at flea markets or on etsy. Recently I found out that I could color them myself. The project was really simple, my three year old even helped!
All you need is:
Mason Jar (clean and dry)
Clear Clue
Food Coloring
Paint brush

I started out by selecting my color, I chose red because we are having a lady bug party for our little one.

 I added a tablespoon of glue (this did three mason jars) and four drops of red food coloring.

You can experiment with the amount of drops you want, (or which colors, I heard its best to mix blue and green to make that vintage blue color).

I then mixed and painted. I used long strokes from top to bottom. There were little bubbles but these disappeared as they dried.

I ended up with some awesome pink/red mason jars.
The only down side to this project is that water makes these jars loose color (though the longer the glue is on the better it stays)