how to hard boil fresh eggs (that actually peel easily)

It's the little things in life some days.

Yesterday morning when I opened the fridge I was greeted with nearly three dozen eggs from our backyard hens. There has been baking, I have been making a huge frittata once a week, and we've been eating eggs for breakfast too…. but the hens were getting ahead of us. I have had no luck with anyone's method of hard-boiling eggs. Some of them helped (pin hole, vinegar, salt, ice bath, let them age) but none of them really yielded an easily peeled egg. Let alone one the kids could peel on their own. And I just can't let my eggs sit in the fridge for a few weeks before I boil them…. the beauty of backyard hens is fresh eggs, right?

So I googled it. And the one thing I had not tried was steaming them. Following the instructions from this, I steamed about a dozen and a half eggs from the weekend……..

how to hard boil fresh eggs (that actually peel easily)

how to hard boil fresh eggs (that actually peel easily)

how to hard boil fresh eggs (that actually peel easily)

how to hard boil fresh eggs (that actually peel easily)

how to hard boil fresh eggs (that actually peel easily)

how to hard boil fresh eggs (that actually peel easily)

how to hard boil fresh eggs (that actually peel easily)

You need some sort of steamer basket for this. I used one of those fold up style baskets that fit in a variety of pot sizes. Add just enough water to cover the bottom, the eggs shouldn't sit in the water. Put the lid on & bring the pot to a boil. Fill with as many eggs as you want to cook & steam for 15 minutes with the lid on. Keep an eye to make sure you don't run out of water. I know that seems like a long time…. but you can see that it yields perfectly cooked eggs. I was wary, but it's just right. Spoon the eggs into iced cold water & chill until they are cool to the touch. Peel easily, without saying any bad words. (that's the best part.) And if you (like me) are so excited about this epiphany that you are jumping up and down and you offer a hard-steamed egg to every family member while squeaking "what until you peel it!"….. then we were meant to be the best of friends…. and I wish you lived closer.

It's egg salad for lunch here today.

Have a lovely Tuesday……

xo,

s

  

(ps – if you like the centers soft, boil for 10-12 minutes! we love them this way too!)

it’s not you…… it’s me….

it's not you...... it's me....

 

Random HUGE egg photo that has nothing to do with this post…. yes it was a double. Which totally freaks my husband out. (Sorry honey, sort of threw you under the bus on that one).

And yes, the comments are broken. I know some of you noticed. Frustrating stuff indeed….

It's not you though, it's me. Or well, actually it's them

So, I guess that's it. You can always come say hello on facebook…..

Here's hoping things are back to normal sooner than later….

xo~

s

tiny pieces of spring…..

tiny pieces of spring......

tiny pieces of spring......

tiny pieces of spring......

tiny pieces of spring......

tiny pieces of spring......

tiny pieces of spring......

tiny pieces of spring......

 

Hello, hello! It's so nice to be back! If you visited during the last few days you likely found only a strange blank page. Typepad is my blogging platform and they were under DDoS attacks. What the heck is that you say? Read here for the answer (and wow, I'm glad I don't have their job.) But hey, they worked their tails off and pulled things back together and not a speck of anything I can find is out of place… so I am one grateful blogger. 

And now….. back to the regular ramblings you're used to.

Spring….. I've been walking through the backyard for the last few weeks looking at the tips of every branch and closely at the ground. Watching for tiny pieces of spring emerge….

The buds slowly turn rosy and pink and are finally just about ready to burst into leaf or blossom. The plum tree and grape vines we planted when the ground was barely soft enough for a shovel are dancing right along to the tune of the swamp maple and ferns.

Slowly, slowly our forest is waking up.

When the evening light casts a soft glow over everything, you can see the tips of every branch light up. It's as if they are soaking in the last bit of each days sunshine. No doubt they too are ready for warmth and long sunny days.

No matter how many times I watch it, I never tire. This tiny little bud that made its way through winter. Waiting, waiting, waiting for just the right recipe of warmth and light to finally burst forth and ring in the new season…. the tree knows just what to do…… such amazing and good stuff for sure.

xo~

s

ps ~ I am leaving this lovely giveaway up through Saturday since the blog disappeared and few of you got the chance to see it. Do swing over and enter to win…… and share it with your online pals. Thank you!

 

ongoings & some link love……

ongoings & some link love......

ongoings & some link love......

ongoings & some link love......

ongoings & some link love......

ongoings & some link love......

ongoings & some link love......

ongoings & some link love......

ongoings & some link love......

ongoings & some link love......

ongoings & some link love......

:: fire cider to bottle

:: fresh fabric stacks

:: a clean up date night with my studio & a glass of wine is in order (goodness, it's messy in there)

:: seedlings getting taller every day

:: old globe making my kids and me smile as they find their favorite places

:: new tiny bolga baskets

:: gumbo for dinner tonight

:: fresh cookbooks 

:: painting wooden eggs with the kids tonight

:: the light in here at 3:30…… love

 

Some weekend links for you……

~ I ordered two new vegan cookbooks this week,  here and here. They are both very, very good!

~ Some good ideas for using stinging nettle this spring.

~ This Owl and this moon….. I am in love with her art. For sure.

~ Fairy garden season is here!

~ The overprotected kid. (loved this!)

~ Things to eat : tahini toast and chickpea avocado sandwiches. (Amanda, that last one has your name all over it!)

~ Just for fun, a year ago this week.

 

Some of you may have seen my post on the gypsyforest facebook page about my friends at  Cubit's being featured in Etsy's Quit your Day Job series. It is so awesome to see a hard working small business be in the spotlight. AND they just bought a 13 acre farm! Congratulations Laura and Ryan. Today is the last day to enter this giveaway for a six pack of their herb seeds too!

Also, I have TWO awesome giveaways planned for you this weekend! So swing back in to enter.

xo,

s

  

at least we have muffins…..

at least we have muffins.....

at least we have muffins.....

at least we have muffins.....

at least we have muffins.....

at least we have muffins.....

Sometime last night the rain switched to ice pellets and then a sleet-y snow mixture. We woke up to a cold and hard crust of snow outside. Luke stumbled into the living room this morning at 6:30 with sleepy eyes. 

Good Morning Dad, good morning Mama, he said as he made his way to the sun room to assess the day. He does this every morning.

I watched.

His shoulders slumped.

Well THIS is a lovely spring day, he grumbled.

And with that he stomped up the stairs and went back to bed.

An hour later I lured him down with warm blueberry muffins fresh from the oven.

Still scowling, his mood lightened a bit. At least we have muffins, he mumbled.

That about says it. I think he summed up most of New England’s thoughts on this morning’s snow. He makes me giggle. This southern boy. I forget he has only really known mild winters and days upon days of sun. Last week in the grocery store he asked me if I knew how to make Ms Nancy’s gumbo. I dug the recipe out this morning and it’s on the menu for this week. It will be a nice surprise for him……

Today though, I’ll leave you with these. Some delicious blueberry muffins. Worth their weight in gold. Why? Because they were made with the last few cups of frozen blueberries from Rocky Point. There are still a dozen jars of jam but I have been rationing the last bits of frozen blueberries. This of course means a lot more picking trips next summer. Which you know I don’t mind one bit. Oh July, you won’t be here soon enough……

 

Blueberry Muffins (loosely inspired by blueberry butter cake from this cookbook)

1 cup rye flour

2 cups unbleached white bread flour

1/2 cup white sugar (we like evaporated cane juice)

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

a generous pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (optional)

4 eggs

1.5 cups milk (we used almond)

2 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup melted butter

2-3 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

 

Preheat the oven to 350. Line muffin tin with liners if needed.

Mix dry ingredients together and set aside.

Mix the eggs, milk, & vanilla together. Mix half of the flour into the wet mixture. Slowly drizzle the butter into the batter stirring as you do so. This makes it so the butter is incorporated better and doesn’t just clump up like it will if you add it directly to the milk/egg mixture. Mix in the remaining flour until the mixture is barely combined and a little lumpy. Don’t over mix or they’ll lose their tender crumb. Gently stir in the blueberries. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until lightly golden brown. (Or a toothpick inserted is clean, if you’re unsure.)

These are a very lightly sweetened muffin, perfect for a snack or breakfast. If you like a sweeter muffin up the sugar by another 1/4 cup. You can use any milk or milk alternative or even buttermilk or kefir for the liquid. For that matter, to make them dairy free, you could swap the butter for another oil too.

Enjoy!

xo,

s

  

and then there were bees……..

and then there were bees........

and then there were bees........

and then there were bees........

and then there were bees........

and then there were bees........

and then there were bees........

and then there were bees........

and then there were bees........

and then there were bees........

and then there were bees........

and then there were bees........

 

We did it. 

On Saturday we waited for hours, the arrival of the bees was delayed and I checked facebook far too many times to watch for updates. Finally they were on their way to Berkley, MA where we were to pick them up at one of the Beekeeper Association member's home. We watched them install two packages into hives in the backyard. One skillfully done by a young girl just two years older than Sophie. 

We headed back to the table and looked at the boxes and boxes of bees.

Pick out your two, Ed said to us. 

Is there a trick to this? I asked. Is it like picking out a puppy?

Sort of, he said. Pick the ones that speak to you.

Sophie and I each picked one out. 

We sprayed them with sugar water and put them into a cardboard box and headed home. We had the ac on full blast in hopes of keeping them cool. We should have left the box lid wide open or gotten them their own boxes…. they got a little warm in there together. 

Home. A bustle of activity. Gear. Bee suits. Sugar water. The bees sat in a cool dark corner of the garage.

We followed the instructions of the experts and memory of so many videos watched in the past few weeks. Everything went off without a single problem. After the first package was in, Sophie asked if she could do the second one. I can do this mama, she said to me.

I pulled the queen out and then let her take over from there. Calm and confident that girl. Bees all over us and she was so relaxed…. amazing. All of it. No one was stung either.

Sunday morning I drifted out there first thing with my coffee. They are amazing to watch. I could sit there forever. 

I peeked in this afternoon to see if either queen was out. They're both so close, but not quite there. You can see the queen box in that last photo. Everyone looked well in there, at least to this very novice set of eyes.

Oh my. We really are beekeepers. She and I. 

xo,

s

{Thank you to Joe for taking pictures of us installing the bees & thank you to all the incredible members of our Bee Association who give so much of their time & answer *so* MANY questions for us novice beekeepers!} 

  

spring, by sophie……

I sent her outside with my camera. Take pictures of spring, I said.

This is what she came back with…… it's always fun to see what the kids choose to capture……..

spring, by sophie......

spring, by sophie......

spring, by sophie......

spring, by sophie......

spring, by sophie......

spring, by sophie......

spring, by sophie......

spring, by sophie......

 

Tomorrow is THE day.

Bee day.

I made sugar syrup and bee food today. We got the hives out in the yard today. I planted 5 raspberry bushes behind them and got three grapevines and 6 blackberry bushes in too. There were supposed to be five blackberries, the bonus made me smile. Then Maggie ate one. Dang dog. I think she's part goat. Always eating sticks. She did feel bad. Joe yelled at her and she sat on a huge rock in the middle of the yard sulking while I finished planting. She's a character for sure. And such a softy….

I'll be here in the morning with a giveaway from one of my lovely sponsors. It's a good one!

Wish me luck installing bee packages tomorrow afternoon. Oh my. I can't really believe it's finally the day. Eeek!

Happy weekending to you all.

xo,

s

seeds…… that I didn’t kill……

seeds..... that I didn't kill....

seeds..... that I didn't kill....

seeds..... that I didn't kill....

seeds..... that I didn't kill....

seeds..... that I didn't kill....

seeds..... that I didn't kill....

seeds..... that I didn't kill....

seeds..... that I didn't kill....

seeds..... that I didn't kill....

seeds..... that I didn't kill....

I am very, very good at killing seedlings. I did have a few successful years in Louisiana. Oh that garden was a battle….. but a good one in learning to let go and work with what I had. And things did start to go well as time went by. Except those potatoes, ahem.

Last year I had a lovely pile of seeds in hopes of starting a garden….. but wow. Moving is a lot of work and getting settled is even more work and so I tucked them away (in a cool dry place) for the next spring. And here we are. A year later. I got a little enthusiastic in February. It happens to the best of us. Especially perhaps to a girl who was having her first real winter in four years. The result?

Two varieties of peppers, five varieties of tomatoes, lettuce, more than a dozen herbs, at least a dozen flowers, potatoes, a few winter squash, lots of dark leafy greens, tons of lettuce, cucumbers, melon, beans…. and I'm sure I've left something out….

In the next week or so we'll be putting in three 4×12 foot raised beds out back. Tucked somewhere in between the grape vines and berry bushes. Oh my….

But back to the seeds. This is my most successful year yet. I followed the advice of one of my favorite books. I thought it would be nice to share a few of the successful tips here with you:

Buy an inexpensive shop light that you can raise & lower to be 2-3 inches above your seedlings. The close light keeps them from growing too quickly, aka spindly.

Use one warm fluorescent and one cool fluorescent for a good uv spectrum.

Plug your light into a timer to make sure the seedlings are getting 16 hours of light each day.

Keep them in the warmest spot in the house.

Leave the plastic cover on until they sprout, then take it off.

*these are all from the book*

Use great seeds! (Mine are from this place and this place.)

I splurged on self watering trays from Home Depot. These are the cat's meow. They have channels in them, a water absorbing mat on top, and the seedling in peat pots over that. You simply keep the trough filled and the plants drink what they need through little holes in the top tray, encouraging deep root growth and discouraging that thing where they all keel over at the base. That's so sad when that happens. Next year, I'll just need some little homemade peat starters and I can reuse this system.

The tomatoes all sprouted right up and are getting their second leaves. The peppers took a little more coaxing and a heating pad tucked under the tray for encouragement….. but they're up now! Next is thinning. Oh I hate that part. I think this weekend I'll start some herbs, because as you know, I have a few of those…..

Are any of you starting your garden plans? Tell me what you're growing!

xo,

s

 

somebunny loves you…….

somebunny loves you.......

 

Improv sewing by Sophia. Aren't they sweet? I love them.

Speaking of love…. you all are the best. Such sweet words shared on Friday's post…. seriously, I love you.

In other news. Holy banana sandwiches.

How many of you mamas also run an unpaid taxi service. I mean really, who knew the weekend could be summed up with, "I drove the kids everywhere." Wowza. But yeah, I did.

Friday :: Run kids places. House full of girls getting ready for some sort of glow dance. Oh highschool, you are a funny thing. Lots of giggling. Lots of pizza. Girls off to dance. Parents off to home depot for bee hive paint and galvanized staples. Girls home from dance. More pizza, and giggling, and ice cream.

Saturday :: Run kids places. Check out bee buddy's hive. First up close and personal meeting with so many bees (eek! so cool!) Into work clothes. Watch man dig holes. Decide on tree placement. Out of work clothes, back out to pick up kiddos. Home again, back into work clothes. Plant trees by the moonlight because we're so determined to get them into the ground. Make neighbor question flashlight ongoings in backyard. (not for the first time, and likely not the last) Prime bee boxes over a few margaritas on the rocks.

Sunday :: Tidy house in preparation to meet another taxi mom shuttling big girl and friends to the mall. (hey mall, I like highschool dances more than you. just saying.) Paint clothes on. Hives almost painted. Out of paint clothes to run and pick up two kids. Home again and back into paint clothes. Wander backyard for more tree planning, berry placement, etc. Finish painting bee boxes. Man plants plum tree. (seven trees in this weekend!) Oldest girl saves the evening by making dinner. Love her. Realize I totally missed painting the bee entrance. Oopsie.

Take bath. So tired, go to bed. 

Repeat.

Phew. So uhm… I'm just saying, hats off to my fellow taxi drivers. Fo' reals.

In other news.

BEES! Coming this weekend. Oh. My. Goodness.

I put in a request for a taxi free weekend. The bees arrive Saturday and we have a few yards of compost to pick up in Rhode Island for the garden beds we're building. This is the sort of thing that makes me do a little happy dance. Yep, you heard me. Dirt and bugs. Woo-hoo!

That's all for tonight. As soon as I get the berry bushes in I'll give you a tour of our hopeful mini orchard.

Goodnight all.

xo,

s

  

these last few days……..

these last few days......

these last few days......

these last few days......

these last few days......

these last few days......

these last few days......

these last few days........

these last few days......

 

Lots going on here. 

Bee hive building.

Seed starting.

Coffee.

Spring.

Beer brewing.

Life.

I lost a friend of mine in the landslide in Washington. For a few days we hoped, prayed for a miracle. No one got one. Life is hard like that sometimes. No warnings, no answers. Just loss.

She weighed heavily on my mind these last few days. Whatever faith background you have…. I think there is such a healing goodness about truly spending some time thinking about someone you've lost. I think somehow this helps them transition between here and there. If that makes sense.

It was a quiet week. 

I almost didn't mention all of it here. And then last night when I finally downloaded several days of photos, I changed my mind. I was overcome with gratitude as I looked through the bits and pieces of the last few days. Ordinary, beautiful life.

Julie, you will be missed by many. Cheers to good memories and never forgetting your incredible laugh. Every quilt stitch from here on out will make me think of you with a smile….

Happy weekending folks.

Much love~

Stephinie