Category Archives: Product Review

Lesson 877 – Fresh Eggs Daily by Lisa Steele – book review

Last week I taught part one of my two-part Chicken Owning workshop for our town’s Adult Education program.  I always have a lot of fun teaching the class and it’s good to see the continued interest in chickens.

We started with obtaining chicks and I told them about how I recommend that all baby chicks get medicated feed until they are fully feathered (about 5 or 6 weeks.) At that point I suggest that you discontinue all medicated feed and transition them to regular feed, free ranged food, and kitchen scraps. My reasoning for this (besides the fact that I have worked as a clinical microbiologist and I respect the bacteria) is that often baby chicks are around many other baby chicks and there is a high probability of them being exposed to various pathogens.  I see giving them the medicated feed as a type of insurance.

“But, we want to raise our chickens organically, is there anything we can do for our chicks that could protect them naturally, without medication?” one of my workshop attendees asked me. Continue reading


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Lesson 865 – Put an egg on it by Lara Ferroni – cookbook review

When you write about chickens and eggs (and children and parenting and Lyme disease and books) people tend to send you things to take a look at and/or review.

put an eggRecently I was sent the cookbook Put an egg on it by Lara Ferroni. Laura loves eggs the way I loved raw carrots as a child, it wasn’t a good day unless my mother had a peeled carrot waiting for me when I got off the school bus and likewise Ferroni  is not happy without her eggs.

Ferroni, a self-described egg addict and food writer/photographer from Portand, Oregon and who regularly contributes to, Portland Monthly, edibleSEATTLE, and Seattle magazine writes:

It never fails. When I look at a menu, my eyes magically zoom to any dish where an egg appears. You might, if you listen closely, even hear a little “oooo” escape my lips. (OK, maybe you don’t have to listen that closely.)

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I like a good egg dish but this lady LOVES her some eggs and because of this love she has created a cookbook filled with gorgeous photos (that one would be tempted to call true food porn) and “70 delicious dishes that deserve a sunny topping.” Continue reading

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Cooking with Trader Joe’s Cookbook: Easy Lunch Boxes – and the world’s best chicken sandwich

Back in the day when I was writing a column about being thrifty (as opposed to now writing a column about family finances) I reviewed a product called Easy Lunch Boxes. They consisted of reusable heavy duty bento-style lunch boxes that even had their own carriers.

We tested them in our family.

I loved these lunch boxes, as did my kids (the foods didn’t get mixed together which meant that lunch was more than just a sandwich.) Each box had 3 compartments, 1 large enough for a sandwich (or salad) the other 2 for sides.

I still use these boxes when I need to pack a lunch and the absolute best thing about them is that they force to reflect on what it is you are going to put in your body. There are 2 small compartments – gee, maybe I’ll put carrots in one, or some leftover rice from last night. These lunch boxes force you to diversify your meal and to think before you eat. Not a bad thing, not a bad thing at all.

So imagine my delight when the inventor of these boxes, Kelly Lester came out with a cookbook on ways to pack lunches. It’s called Cooking with Trader Joe’s Cookbook: Easy Lunch Boxes and it includes easy ideas using the good food from Trader Joe’s and what you have around the house.

It’s more than just a cookbook though, using Trader Joe’s products, it’s also a fantastic idea book. For example, one suggestion is to use Trader Joe’s Mac and cheese balls for the main dish and then strips of bell peppers and ranch dipping sauce in the other 2 containers. A quick, easy, and healthy lunch that even I would like.

Kelly works at presentation and balance and she shows how it really doesn’t take a lot of effort to pack a healthy lunch that is appealing. (Compare her approach to some of the commercial “lunches in a box” from the grocery store and you’ll see what I mean – soda and a candy bar is not the way to make a lunch appealing.) Those of us who are constantly fighting the good battle of feeding our kids healthy food while trying to keep them away from the temptations of all the junk food out there fully appreciate this approach. Continue reading


Filed under Inspiration, Product Review, Teaching kids, The Family

Lesson 421 – A life without my Droid

Ack, my phone died yesterday. The Droid with which I’ve had this love hate relationship ever since we met. It was working fine in the early morning and then when I went to answer a call it seemed to forget that it was a touch screen. I couldn’t slide that little bar to “open” the phone. A call from my son (who had just been at the Doctor’s for blood work) taunted me as it beeped loudly literally out of my touch. “Trevor, call the house phone,” I yelled at the device, hoping that maybe he would telepathically receive the message.

He didn’t.

Oh well, I was without a phone. Not the worst thing in the world.

Not being a geek in a household where I am greatly outnumbered by them, I decided to go about this my own way. Perhaps if I let the phone “rest” for a little bit, it might come back to life. Hey it works for me. I considered giving it a glass of wine to relax but even this non-geek knows to keep moisture away from any circuits.


So big deal, I don’t have a phone. Who needs to be constantly connected to the net anyway? Just like I tell my son who is always glued in front of his computer – “How about trying real life for a change?” Continue reading

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Filed under Inspiration, Life Lessons, Mama Hen, Personal, Points to ponder, Product Review, The Family

Project Chickens before the Eggs – Lesson 257 – Keeping the eggs cool with Packit bags

I don’t have the kind of blog where I sample things and then try to sell you on them. I’m more of a let’s try this out and see if it really works kind of gal.

Take for instance our experiments with the Jamie Oliver Food Revolution Cookbook (which I absolutely adore but which threatened to burn my house down). I would have no problem telling everyone (and oh I do) to go out and get that cookbook. All my kids are getting a copy when they get their first apartments. I love it, I really do.

I’ve also tried organic homemade marshmallows – maybe it was me, but I’m definitely partial to the tried and true Campfire all-perfectly-formed-and-uniformly-white blobs of s’more perfection. Sometimes childhood memories are the best.

So when I was approached to try out a new lunch bag, at first I thought nope, not for me. Don’t see the applicability. I mean I have kids but I also have a lot of lunch bags thank you very much.

But then after looking at the website (yes I really do fully consider each offer) I immediately saw that while the bags are a great idea for lunches, I could use the bags for something else. Continue reading

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Filed under All things chickens, Backyard Chickens, Eggs, Everything Eggs, Product Review, Project Chickens before the Eggs

Why I hate my new Verizon Droid

Why I hate my new Verizon Droid

Last week I got a new Verizon Droid. My son and I were ready for a phone upgrade and so we got the two for one (guess who had to pay for the one that was not free?).

We are now a three Droid family and yes, these were the Droids we were looking for.

Flickr: Let Ideas Compete – CCL

The salesman talked me into buying a screen protector as well as a case (because you know you’re going to drop it he said). I declined the insurance (and this is what we call foreshadowing) figuring no one else would be touching my phone save me.

Sure enough during the week, the phone fell from my pocket onto the floor. I held my breath when I picked it up, but no, it was fine, all I had done was dislodge the screen protector which caused a tiny bubble under the plastic.

Lesson learned, don’t transport your Droid in your pocket. Continue reading


Filed under Personal, Product Review, The Family, Uncategorized

Portion Plates – how did the kids do on their own?

The time has come, the Walrus said, or in this case, more accurately, the momma.

The time has come, the momma said, to speak of many things.
Of Portion plates and proper sizes,
Of vegetables and onion rings.

(My sincerest apologies to Lewis Carroll)

It was time to see if the kids had learned anything from using the Portion Plates in our house for the last month.

Yup, it was D-day (dine-day) we took the kids to a local restaurant called the Grand Buffet where there are miles and miles of different foods available. Meats, pastries, sushi, vegetables, fruits, and yes, even ice cream. Although my kids are pretty good eaters, in the past it was not unusual to see plates filled with French fries and watermelon slices. But because it’s rare that we bring all 6 kids to a restaurant, I usually don’t say much about what their choices are.

On the way over, I reminded the kids of why we were going. Remember the Portion Plates and how we used them for a month? I want to see what you’ve learned. That’s all I said, I didn’t remind them of the portion sizes or anything. Continue reading


Filed under Portion Plates experiment, Product Review, Teaching kids, The Family

Easter Dinner on a Portion Plate, a walk and no bugs

For those of us living in New Hampshire, this past Sunday, Easter, was glorious.

Not a rain cloud in the sky, not a puddle in the roads. We sat outside in our short-sleeved shirts around a small fire soaking up the warmth and holiday company. Long snow hidden corners of yards were explored once again and moods were as bright as the sunshine.

And no bugs. Continue reading

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Book Review: Motherhood Is Easy… As Long As You Have Nothing To Do For The Next 50 Years

Title: Motherhood Is Easy….As Long As You Have Nothing Else To Do For The Next 50 Years
Author: Rebekah Hunter Scott
Publisher: Clear View Press
Available for pre-order: Books ship April 2010
Reviewer: Wendy Thomas

With a voice as refreshing and delightful as Sex-on-the-Beach (the real thing not the cocktail) Rebekah Hunter Scott nails what it feels like to have that special love-hate relationship with your kids and husband that only a mommy can have.

I get this kind of humor. I love my 6 kids. I know that I would lay my life on the line for them at any time but I also know that if I had been around them 24 hours a day when they were younger, I would currently be in jail for 6 counts of manslaughter, maybe 7 if you threw my husband into the mix.

When Rebekah writes about embracing your “Inner White Trash” while at Wal-Mart with a kid wearing only a diaper and trying to buy a pair of shorts because she had forgotten to pack them in her diaper bag… I can relate.

When she writes about desperately trying to get her toddler son to take a nap because his nap time is mommy’s “sacred time”… I was so there.

While I have never been able to relate to the moms out there who have matching baby accessories, video cameras focused on their sleeping cherubs, and who know how to effectively remove every stain known to mankind from their children’s clothing. I am able to relate to a funny, sharp witted, intelligent, and honest mom who realizes that while she loves her children, being a mom is a tough, tough job that without humor can crush even the strongest woman.

With great insight and giving us lessons learned, Hunter shares with us her battle stories of mommy-hood from deep in the trenches, poopy diapers, dried lady bug carcasses and all. She will make you laugh, she’ll make you cry, she’ll make you realize that you’re not alone when at the end of the day, after giving the kids their food; you decide that alcohol is enough of a food pyramid for you.


I received a copy of this book  from the author for review.  I received no other compensation for this post.  My words and my opinions are my own.

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The Portion Plates – food for thought

We are continuing with using the Portion Plates at our house. Not a meal goes by that someone doesn’t ask if we are using the brightly colored, picture covered dishes.

At dinner, we each get our plate and put the food on it making sure that we stay to the guidelines. We still have sporadic grumbling about vegetables but everyone (even the resident cauliflower  hater) puts at least some veggies on their plate. Continue reading

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