Sunday, December 15, 2013

Baby Kitty Update

This is an update to my responsible pet parenting page. After many, many ups and downs I am proud to say "Baby" Larkin is doing great! He is a sweetie and great addition to out menagerie of pets!
                                                             Before: June 3rd 2013

After: December 14th 2013

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

What are you growing?

Quick Post for today. I stumbled across this piece of work, poetry, quote, whatever you will. But to me it is real food for thought. Just wanted to share with my readers.

"Your Mind is a Garden, Your Thoughts are the Seeds,
  You can Grow Flowers or You can Grow Weeds."

Just something to think about, while we are doing our day to day. Or while we are working in our Gardens!


Sunday, June 9, 2013

Do Pastured Eggs Need to Be Refrigerated?

If you get your eggs from your local farmer you may notice they have some, um, greenish brown streak marks on them still. Maybe even a feather or two as well. If you can recall, it is very different than what an industrial egg from the grocery store looks like, all clean and uniform in size (even the so-called "free range" or "cage free" eggs).

What's the big difference? Prior to the 1940's eggs were kept on the counter because there were no refrigerators! What has changed?

Before I go any further I am going to just state the obvious because I feel it is necessary... Nature is so amazing and it's incredible to me that everything is created to have a purpose!

Ok, now that I got my soulful-hippie two cents out of the way, we can discuss what actually happens when an egg comes out of the hen.

Pastured Egg

An egg shell is very porous and has anywhere from 3-6,000 pores covering the entire surface! (source) When the hen lays an egg her body does one last thing to protect the egg before hitting the air: she deposits a natural anti-bacterial mucus membrane called the bloom. The bloom comes out wet on the egg but then dries quickly, filling in all those little pores on the egg to protect it against things like bacteria and outside gases or chemicals.
The bloom also serves a purpose of keeping the egg fresh on the inside. The bloom keeps the moisture contained leaving a much bigger, firmer and more bright orange yolk. The albumen, the soft, jelly-like substance surrounding the yolk, is slightly hazy looking. (source) This is a reaction with carbon dioxide and proves the egg to be fresh.

Something else to consider is, in nature, it takes about 2 weeks for the hen to lay the eggs and then "set" (incubate) on them. During this time period, the eggs have not been refrigerated and will eventually hatch into vibrant little chicks.

Then why is refrigeration necessary in a large egg producing factory?

Industrial Egg

Let's take what we learned about an egg and put it into the industrial setting. We now know the surface of an egg is extremely porous and when we consider the way things are "managed" in an industrial environment, it can be quite frightening to think about eating an industrial egg.

We are all aware that in large egg producing factories hens are living in crowded and unhealthy conditions, breathing in the ammonia fumes all day, every day and have little to no sunlight. Common sense will tell us that sick hens equals sick eggs.

Within 7 days of when the sickly hens (who may or may not have salmonella) lay their sickly eggs, workers take the eggs and wash them to get all the dirt and feathers off of them. Some companies take it a step further and rinse the eggs with a chemical wash.

No bloom + chemical wash = chemicals seeping into the egg

No bueno!!

Companies may also spray the egg with their own protective coating (mineral or GE vegetable oil) to make them appear satisfactory to the consumer. (
source) If the eggs you buy at the grocery store appear to be shiny that's why! Once washed, rinsed and/or sprayed the eggs then HAVE to be placed in a refrigerator to protect them from being infected with bacteria. I've read that several companies actually pasteurize the whole egg to ensure there is no bacterial growth going on. From the time of being laid to the time it actually hits your belly, the egg may sit for weeks! Talk about a nutrient depleted egg!

Remember how I mentioned the bloom serves a purpose of keeping the egg fresh? Well, with industrial eggs since the bloom is washed off, the pores are then exposed. This creates open airways to allow any kind of bacteria (think salmonella) to enter. Not only that, the quality and freshness of the egg drops. This is why if you crack an industrial egg open, the yolk is small and pale yellow. The albumen loses it's haziness and becomes translucent. All are indications of an egg that has lost its freshness.

So Do Eggs Need to be Refrigerated?

Scenario 1: Okay let's say you buy eggs from the farm with the blooms still intact and you put them in the fridge immediately. No worries! But let's say you take those same farm fresh bloom-intact refrigerated eggs and let them sit out to the point they start to sweat. At that time, it's imperative to use the eggs as soon as possible because when the egg sweats it loses the bloom. I also wouldn't recommend putting them back in the fridge because since the egg has no bloom it is now at the point where the quality and freshness are quickly degrading.

Scenario 2: Now let's say you buy eggs from the farm with the blooms still intact and instead of putting them in the refrigerator immediately, you leave them on the counter. No worries! But if you wash the eggs, you must use the eggs as soon as possible. Again, the bloom comes off as soon as any liquid hits it.

Scenario 3: You buy free range eggs from the grocery store..... wait. I don't recommend this scenario to anyone because industrial eggs are bad news! BUT if you have to buy them, always keep them refrigerated... no matter what! If you take them out, use them immediately!

The Ideal Temperature

With backyard eggs or eggs from a trustworthy farm source, you can get away with leaving them on your counter for a couple months if they are stored around 65°F to 70°F. If you are nervous they may not be fresh, you can do the float test to see if they are okay to eat or not. With factory farm eggs, it's necessary to keep them at a temperature of 40°F (USDA guidelines) so no bacterial growth occurs.

If you are still worried and consider yourself somewhat of a germ-o-phobe a good general rule of thumb to follow is to keep the eggs the way in which you received them. If they were refrigerated, keep them refrigerated. If they were sitting out at the farm store, leave them on your counter! And always ask the person you are purchasing the eggs from if they have washed them or not.

A good solution to ensuring you receive the freshest of the fresh eggs is to have your own backyard chickens!

Special Thanks for this great post.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Responsible Pet Parenting

  I would have to say that I am a huge animal person. I have always felt a need to have a family of dogs or cats, or whatever comes into the yard or my life for that matter. Seems like I am always rescuing or saving something, its nothing new for us. I had yet another occasion to rescue a kitten this past weekend, he was neglected, 4 weeks old and very sick. Most likely if he had made it another day it would have been a miracle. This guy doenst even have his eyes open because they were so badly infected, from the upper respiratory he has. Things like this anger me so much. I mean if you cant handle the responsibilty of animals then dont have them. If you do choose to have them then get them spayed or neutered, so that they cant become out of control in litters of unwanted, uncared for babies. And even at that if you do find you cant care for your pet in a responsible way or if circumstances extremely change in your life then seek help, call a shelter or a no kill SPCA. Its cruel and disgusting to let something so tiny go to the brink of death, and it doesnt even matter how small, letting anything be so badly neglected and without any care is terrible. If you see cases of animal abuse, do something, call your local SPCA, and keep calling until you see results. Sometimes, the best way to get the job done well is to roll up your sleeves, put on your boots and head to where the animals need us most.
  On a positive note, our guy is getting better, steady improvement and only after 3 days. He is eating, drinking, pottying, and purrs like crazy when you hold him. He is on antibiotics twice a day, has special vitamin formula for nutrients every hour, eye salve every 2-4 hours, special kitty food when he wants it, and he drinks from a dropper right now. Unfortuantely his eyes are still something we are unsure of, we are hopeful but we are also expecting the chance that he may be blind. But even at that he is a very happy boy and doesnt seem to know the difference. Let me just say though, so far he has very good ears and sense of smell, especially for his food! He has definitly crawled right into my heart. I will post updates as I can.

Waking him up for pictures. :)

                   Stretch and Yawn! :)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Gluten-Free Lemon Blueberry Muffins

I am so excited to be posting my first gluten-free recipe. For a long time I have struggled with weight problems, poor skin and stomach pain, so I am thinking I am going to try to reduce my gluten intake. My niece also struggles with gluten and so do a few of my close friends, So I am trying to have more GF recipes on hand that actually taste good. So here is a great recipe for Gluten-Free Lemon Blueberry Muffins. I like this one because we have a blueberry farm, so I have more blueberries than I know what to do with! 
I will be adding more GF recipes as I find them and the ones proven to have great taste. You can make this recipe with regular flour as well. Its low in sugar too.

Gluten-Free Lemon Blueberry Muffins


  • 1-3/4 Cup Gluten-free Multi-Purpose baking mix (Hodgson Mills)
  • 3/4 Cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. Gluten-free baking powder (Rumford brand)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 Cup light sour cream
  • 1/2 Cup 2% milk
  • 1/4 Cup fresh lemon juice and its zest
  • 1/4 Cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Cup frozen blueberries
Cooking Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees and prepare a 12 hole muffin tin with paper liners or butter.
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl.
  3. Mix the wet ingredients together in a separate bowl.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.
  5. Fill the muffin tins with a few tablespoons of the batter then dop in 4-5 blueberries in and cover with more batter.
  6. Bake for 16 min.
 * GF flours don't brown like regular flours do so check them for doneness, not by color. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


Osteoarthritis is something that my 36 year old body deals with on a regular basis. My pain areas are my knees which Drs. say is almost bone on bone, back and my hands. My knees probably being the worse since I have been really hard on them as an avid snowboarder and instructor. I stumbled across some really great natural home remedies to help with pain and discomfort, I am planning on trying a few out. If any of my readers do also, please let me know what you think and how it worked for you.
• Arthritis affects the joints causing severe pain
• This pain can make a person immobile
• It is one of the most common joint disorders which occurs with age

Symptoms to look for:
• Swelling and pain in the affected joint
• Cracking noise on any joint movement
• Constant stiffness

• Wear and tear of the cartilage, a cushion between the bones and joints,
• Increases the friction between the bones
• Leads to stiffness and pain in the joints
• Overweight
• Injury
• Excessive exercising
• Hereditary factors

Natural home remedy using potato:
1. Wash and cut an unpeeled potato into thin slices
2. Soak them in water overnight
3. Strain the water in the morning
4. Drink it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach

Natural home remedy using mustard oil and camphor:
1. Heat 1 cup of mustard oil
2. Add 10 g of camphor
3. Heat till camphor dissolves completely
4. Massage with the oil when lukewarm
This increases the blood supply and reduces inflammation and stiffness

Natural home remedy using sesame seeds:
1. Take 100 ml of water
2. Soak 1 tsp of black sesame seeds in it overnight
3. Consume this mixture in the morning

Natural home remedy using cinnamon powder and honey:
1. Take 1 tsp of cinnamon powder
2. Add 1 tbsp of honey
3. Mix well
4. Have this on an empty stomach every morning

 Completely natural, non-invasive, and can be prepared at home.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Natural Infused Water

Ok, so I admit it, I do enjoy having a soda every now and then, but I am constantly reminded of how many calories and sugars are in them, even in "diet" drinks.
 So I am on a quest to rid myself of soda pop. 
Today I had a glass of water infused with pomegranate!
 It was a nice light flavor and really tasted great!
Put as much fruit in water as you like and let the water sit for at least 30 minutes before drinking. I chose pomegranate today, But I also have cucumber I plan to try
and I am a regular with lemon water.
Besides tasting great and being very healthy, Infused waters also can 
help with detoxification, energy and hydration.
Below is a sample of some combinations and how they
may help your body and health.

1. Green tea, mint, lime: can help with fat burning, digestion,
 headaches, congestion and natural breath freshener.
2. Strawberry, kiwi: can help with cardiovascular health,
immune system protection, blood sugar regulation, digestion.
3. Cucumber, lime, lemon:  can help with water weight management,
bloating, appetite control, hydration, digestion
4. Lemon, lime, orange: digestion vitamin C, immune defense,
 heartburn, (Drink this one at room temperature)
As I have, I am sure you too will find that in no time this is all
you'll want to drink and you wont even miss Soda!

Monday, May 6, 2013

My Kitchen Garden

After much thought and consideration, I have finally decided on a
Kitchen Garden, I love the concept and the look.
A kitchen garden can be the central feature of an all-season landscape or it may be a little more than a humble veggie plot. It is a source of herbs, vegetables and fruits, but it is often also a structured garden space with a design based on repetitive geometric patterns.
I am going to use 4 by 4 squares with a walk way between each square section.
A kitchen garden has year-round visual appeal and can incorporate permanent perennials or woody shrub plantings, and annuals. I hope to fence with a shabby white picket fence...If I can get my hands on some! :) Maybe a nice trellis for my squash and cucumbers and maybe a bench! I am sure this will be an ongoing process but I have the plans!

Thursday, May 2, 2013


Its finally spring time! Here in WNY it seemed like it took a long time to get here! Finally this week we are having 70 and 80 degree weather! The Horner household is getting busy trying to take advantage of the beautiful weather and the fact its not raining. We bought our seeds for our garden this year, a big in ground garden versus our normal container gardening. I decided to use paper egg cartons for my seedlings to start in, they are biodegradable and will just break down in the soil, so its a win-win situation. I made a makeshift green house of sorts with 2x4s and plexi glass, and I must say its been working very well!
 Soon I will be working in my new green house and I cant wait!

I am not a very patient person, so waiting for those seedlings to grow has been killing me, but finally Results!!! My cucumber, basil, squash and corn is coming up! Few more weeks before they can handle WNY weather, we get frost rather late. Cant wait to enjoy the "Fruits of Our Labor"

We also have taken on 6 more chicks! Austrolorps, they are an Australian breed, black and white. Very cute! However 4 of them are Roosters...uuugh. So I think I am going to advertise breeders for sale, or we will have chicken in the freezer. They are growing fast too! Few more months and we should be getting more eggs! Its a fun season and a busy one! Updates when I can!
New Babies with heat light on.
                                                                                 Big Babies outside on the
                                                                                  porch now, heat at night.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Homemade Detergent Results

I thought I would post an update to my Homemade Laundry Soap Project. So far it has been working great, I dont see any negative side effects and it cleans as well if not better than normal store bought detergent. The freshness last a long ways. I just finished using up the first batch of soap and it lasted a total of 4 months for me, but I also gave quite a bit away, to my mom, my sister in law, my aunt, and a friend. If I had that back I think I could have easily gotten 6 months or more out of the first batch!! What a savings! Less than $20 for 6 month supply of soap! I made another batch today, but I changed up the recipe just a pinch, I am trying "Zote" Soap along with the Fels Naptha, Zote is also a natural cleaner and its great for whites. The Zote is a bigger bar than the Fels, so you can use just the Zote and get more bar soap for your money. The Zote is a little bit softer than the fels when you grate it. I also love that the Zote is pink! Gives it a fun color along with the yellow Fels. I also used a new Laundry Crystal this time as well. Its Purex for babies. Its safe for washing PJs, hypoallergenic and 87% natural, so its gentle on babies skin! It also has a great light scent!
I will repost again in a few months on how the new mix is working! Oh yeah I found another new trick: Add a tennis ball to your dryer, it will cut your dry time in half!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Homemade Bird Suet

I have been really enjoying my new bird watching hobby! I am getting so many varieties of birds at my feeders, its so neat to see the array of colors out there. I have been using store bought suet cakes and they have needless to say devoured them! Today is a particular cold day in Western NY, especially where I am in the Southern Tier, and I noticed all of there suet cakes were gone, and although there is a feeder out there they prefer the cakes, knowing that is so cold and my birds need there food, I stumbled on a recipe for homemade suet with most things already in
your cupboard! Less cost and less trips to buy more! After making the mix and putting
it out my birds are going crazy over it! Here is the recipe I used:
1 cup of vegetable shortening or lard
 1 cup of peanut butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups of dry ingredients such as cornmeal,
oatmeal, birdseed mix, dried fruit or sunflower seeds.
You can add more than one of those ingredients.

Mix the vegetable shortening and peanut butter into a large, microwave-safe bowl.

Microwave the mixture on high for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the shortening is liquefied. Stir the all-purpose flour into the melted vegetable shortening and peanut butter. Continue stirring until the mixture is one uniform color. Stir in up to 4 cups of dry ingredients such as cornmeal, oatmeal, birdseed mix, dried fruit or sunflower seeds.
Knead the mixture together by hand until it forms a dough the approximate consistency of cookie dough. ( I didnt knead mine I just stirred it by hand.)
Press the homemade suet into an 8-inch square pan. You dont need to grease the pan because the vegetable shortening will prevent the suet from sticking.

Place the pan in a cool, dry spot and wait for the suet to cool completely. I put mine in the freezer.

Cut the cool homemade bird food suet into chunks and hang them from trees in mesh bags or place them in suet bird feeders.

My birds are going crazy for this! I hope you have as much success as I am! Leave me a comment!
I will post pics soon!


Monday, January 28, 2013

Vintage Button Rings

So my newest obsession are these awesome old vintage metal, brass, bronze, copper, etc. buttons - I just love the patina and the story behind some of them. And repurposing them into jewelry is my latest hobby and obsession! They are truly unique and if your looking for one of a kind, look no further! Stunning detail in each and every piece. An Example of some of my recent work.

Not Vintage, But Pretty Flower
Cabachon Rings.


So I have decided to do an all natural detox. Its made with apples and cinnamon. It cleanses your system and is supposed to help you lose weight and gain energy! Who wouldnt love that? Today Is day number 1, I will post photos and the recipe soon, I wanna see how this goes before I reccomend it! If you have any ideas or suggestions for natural detoxes leave me a comment!