Chorizo Sweet Potatoes

This is the dish you had while you were here – I thought I would type it out!

Ingredients

1 package of chorizo

1-2  bell peppers (any color)

1 onion

3 cloves of garlic

2-3 sweet potatoes

1 diced avocado

Directions

Put the sweet potatoes in the crock pot in the morning so that they are soft by dinner time.

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Chop the onion, garlic and bell peppers.

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Make sure to have a glass of wine and to drink it while cooking. This is a very important step: don’t skip it!

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Cut the casing off of the chorizo. Remind yourself that while chorizo looks disgusting, it tastes amazing!

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In a large skillet, salute the onion, garlic and bell peppers in oil/butter until soft – about 10 minutes. I just used my cast iron with left over bacon grease from that morning, but any oil will work!

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Add the chorizo – stir until it is crumbly and cooked all the way through.

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Dice the avocado. Put a sweet potato in a bowl and smash it with a fork. Top it with chorizo mix and half of the avocado. Enjoy!

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Product Review: Native Deodorant

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And on goes the search for the perfect natural deodorant. I first heard about Native Deodorant from Ace’s sister. We were lamenting about how sweaty and gross we get while pregnant and breast-feeding. She had just started using Native and said it was actually holding up to its promises to work as well as the chemical laden deodorants.

While the deodorant per stick is pricey, you can order a sample pack of 3 to lessen the cost and they have free shipping and returns (!!!). I ordered the men’s sample pack because I wanted Ace to try it and I don’t mind smelling like a dude. The sample pack came with 3 full-sized sticks, one of each of their’ men’s scents.

https://www.nativecos.com/product/deodorant-men/

Ace chose the Citrus & Herbal Musk scent and I kept the Eucalyptus & Mint and Tea Tree & Sage scents (I’ve been going back and forth). All 3 of them have a nice smell that isn’t overwhelming. We have now been wearing Native for a few weeks (including going to bootcamp) and its been working really well. I would say it ALMOST holds up to chemical deodorants. By the end of the day, Im a bit stinky and need to reapply, but aside from that, it holds its own. Ace says that he “doesn’t think about it” which is a really good thing – he hasn’t noticed being sweatier or smellier than when using his other kind.

When I first apply it in the mornings (especially if I’ve shaved) it does sting a little bit. I’m sensitive to baking soda and this is what causes the sting. Native offers a sensitive deodorant but in my extensive search of natural deodorants, they never work as well. While it does sting, it has yet to cause burning or redness like some I have used.

Native has now taken the place of Primally Pure as the best natural deodorant that I have used. Plus, it has a major leg up on Primally Pure since they offer free shipping and returns. If you aren’t picky about the scent, order the sample pack for a bit of a discount. Plus, as usual, if you sign up for their e-mails, you will get a discount code on your first order.

Smell ya later!

 

Book Review #1: Crazy Rich Asian series

Let me start by saying you need to buy these books immediately. I loved all three of them! They are light reads, hilarious, and just overall entertaining. I would put them in the “chick lit” category but also think people who like heavier material would enjoy them. Make sure to read the foot notes at the end of each chapter. The author references real places and events and gives incredibly witty explanations of them – this is one of the best parts of the series! This series is going to make you want to travel to Asia….

Crazy Rich Asians

The first book in the series follows an American girl named Rachel as she travels to Singapore to meet the family of her boyfriend. Once there, she comes to realize that her boyfriend, Nick, is the heir to one of Asia’s biggest family fortunes. Nick’s family is headed by his grandmother, matriarch Su Yi. Su Yi, along with her 3 children (including Nick’s father) and their families, have no idea that Rachel exists until he brings her to visit. Each family member has a very different reaction to Nick dating an ABC (American Born Chinese) girl and getting to know these characters is so fun. My favorite character in this book (and series) is Nick’s beautiful cousin, Astrid. This book takes place mainly in Singapore, which Im now dying to visit.

China Rich Girlfriend

In the sequel to Crazy Rich Asians, Nick and Rachel are engaged (much to his mother’s dismay) when an unexpected turn of events takes place – Rachel is introduced to her birth father. Rachel and Nick travel to China to spend time with her father, his wife, and their son, Carlton. Rachel and Carlton become fast friends and we follow along as they navigate their new family dynamics. My favorite part of this book is the heavier focus on Astrid. In my opinion, she’s the best character.

Rich People Problems

At the beginning of this last installment of the series, the matriarch of the family, Su Yi, becomes very ill. Her billion dollar fortune, along with her massive estate, Tyersall Park, are up for grabs. The entire family flocks to Singapore to be by her side, and to steak their claim on her fortune. In this book, Su Yi has flash backs to her days as a young woman and its fascinating. Again, while this series is fictional, the author accurately references historical events. Learning a bit about Singapore’s dark history is really interesting. My favorite girl, Astrid, is back with a new set of problems and her cousin Eddie rises to the top as one of the most entertaining characters of this book. I definitely think that both the 2nd and 3rd books are just as good as the first- you don’t see this much in series of books!

No Bake Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chip Cookies

These no bake cookies turned out really delicious. They are SO easy to make. Cora loves to “sample” as we bake, so anything healthy and without raw eggs is a winner in my book. Between bootcamp and constantly feeding growth-spurt Drew, Im extra hungry today and these really hit the spot. Store them in the fridge for a quick snack!

Ingredients

1/2 cup Coconut Flour

1/2 cup Almond Flour

1/2 cup Rolled Oats

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup Peanut Butter

1/4 cup Honey

Milk of choice

Chocolate Chips

Directions

Combine flours, rolled oats and salt. Melt peanut butter and honey in the microwave and stir together. Combine wet and dry ingredients. If mixture is crumbly, pour milk in a little at a time until everything is combined and wet – I used goat milk because thats what I had but anything would work.

Roll the dough into small balls and put on a cookie sheet, pressing them flat with the palm of your hand. Let your 3 year old “decorate” them with chocolate chips. Try to police her as she consumes more chocolate than she puts on the cookies. Then give up, you are losing. Plus, chocolate chips are delicious.

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Put them in the fridge for 30 minutes before eating. Give one to your 3 year old. Laugh when she eats the chocolate chips off of the top, hands you the bowl and says “I’m done”.

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This recipe could be easily changed to use what you have on hand. Since you don’t bake these cookies, any flour would work- I just combined what I had on hand. Obviously you could switch peanut butter for almond butter and the chocolate chips for white chocolate, dried fruit, etc. These are so easy and so delicious!

Backyard Chickens

When we first started looking into getting backyard chickens, I did a lot of online research. Not going to lie, according to the internet, keeping chickens in your backyard is a BIG task. Its high maintenance and requires extensive knowledge. In the 2.5 years since we got our first flock of chickens, I’ve found that this is anything from the truth. Backyard chickens are incredibly easy to maintain. If you have a husband, children and a dog like I do, they will be the easiest members of your family.

The Coop and Run

Figuring out the coop and the run is the hardest part of backyard chickens, in my opinion. Here in Dallas, there are companies who will come to your home and build a coop and run. However, these companies are super expensive. A small coop is typically at least $2000. So we set out to find a coop on the cheap. I found one online that was less than $200. It came disassembled but had pretty good reviews. When it arrived, Ace was able to easily put it together. It was small, but perfect for our soon to be flock of 6 chickens. Unfortunately, it started to fall apart in less than a year. The material was cheap and couldn’t hold up in Texas weather. I did some research online and found some solid blog posts about building your own coop. After showing them to Ace, he agreed that he could easily build us one. The material was about $150 and it took him less than a weekend to complete. This coop has been up for around 2 years now and even survived a move. In retrospect, we should have just done this from the beginning.

Here are the blog posts that we based our coop on:

http://www.ana-white.com/2012/05/plans/frame-chicken-coop

http://www.southernrevivals.com/2012/09/barbie-dream-house-chicken-coop.html

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The coop mid-build. This was at our old house, when the chickens lived in an enclosed side yard.

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This is our coop right after Ace built it and I painted it. I used left over paint that we had from other projects. The white is the color we used on our kitchen cabinets and the black is the color we used to paint the front door. I bought the lantern, rooster decor, and door knob at hobby lobby.

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View from the side. The pull down door on the right opens up to the hen loft where the girls lay their eggs. The one on the left opens up and shows the roosting bar, where they sleep. 

Our current house does not have a side yard like our old house did so we had to build a run. Ace build the run on a strip of grass on the side of our yard. Some people simply have the coop and let the chickens roam the entire yard. We didn’t want this for a couple of reasons. 1) We wanted Murphy to be able to be outside at anytime without having to coop the chickens up. 2) We didn’t want them to ruin the grass in the large part of our yard. Chickens will destroy any grass they are given access to. Ace has a post hole digger so he simply dug holes, cemented the posts in, then wrapped everything with chicken wire. He created a door closer to the coop to allow us easy access in and out.

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We placed the coop close to our car port so that it is partially covered. The door is just to the right of the coop.

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The run extends the length of our yard, giving the gals plenty of room to roam. There used to be grass in this area, but they destroyed it. Another advantage of having a run is that we don’t have to “coop” them at night. If they are not enclosed, it is wise to go close their coop door at night and then let them out in the morning to keep them safe from other animals. 

 

Building your Flock

Many people build their flock by first ordering baby chicks from hatcheries or local hard ware stores. When doing this, you get to see the chick go from a 1 day old baby to an egg laying machine. Pretty cool, especially if you have older kids who can help and appreciate it. Going this route is more work, you need a brooder, lights and the time to raise baby chickens. You can also buy chickens, for a bit more money, as pullets. Basically they are teenagers on the verge of laying eggs. The price is a bit higher because the hard work of raising them out of infancy has already been done. This is the route we decided to take. We didn’t have the space for a brooder at that point and paying a little more for pullets was worth it to us.

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Our original flock soon after we brought them home. Plus, our first egg!

My biggest advice in building your flock is to do simple research on the breed. We basically researched everything about chickens except for the best and easiest breeds to keep in your back yard and ended up with 6 high maintenance gals. They went broody constantly and only laid 3-4 eggs each per week. We have a completely different flock now, consisting of 5 easy going gals who lay 6-7 eggs per week.

Here is a great article on easy chickens:

http://www.thehappychickencoop.com/10-breeds-of-chicken-that-will-lay-lots-of-eggs-for-you/

 

Chicken food and bedding

Our local hardware store sells chicken food that is made in Texas, is organic and non GMO. We have been buying this from the beginning and pretty much every local chicken owner we know uses this brand. Check out your local stores to find a similar food in your area. I bought the feeders and water unit from amazon. We put shavings down in their coop that we also find at the local hardware store. I used to change the shavings every week or so but realized that was overkill. Now I do it every few months or when its been raining and everything is wet.

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Here is the late Rachel nestled in some bedding after she laid her egg. RIP, Rachel. You were a good chicken….kind of. 

Tips and Tricks

Collect eggs daily.

Make sure they have plenty of clean water every day.

Feed them 1 time per day. We used to leave a feeder full of food out at all times but quickly realized that those bodacious gals will eat constantly if given the opportunity. Plus, squirrels were eating the food at night time. Just feeding them what they need once a day will save you from wasting food.

Have “chicken sh*t” shoes that you keep in the garage so you don’t track chicken poop into the house.

Relax and just go for it. Chickens are super easy so don’t let other online articles intimidate you. Build a simple and sturdy coop, buy some chicks or pullets that are on the list of good back yard breeds, give them some food and water, and enjoy!