Sunday, August 7, 2011

Chickens: There's No Stopping Them

I've had a keen eye on the political hen house here in Maplewood, NJ: The clucking over granting residents permission to keep chickens in their yards has ruffled more than a few feathers. But it looks as if the chickens are coming home to roost! I read in our local Patch that last night, the Township Committee members asked Town Counsel Roger Desiderio to draft an ordinance that would allow 14 households to pilot a one-year program that will be introduced on Sept. 6.

Now that's something to crow about! (Okay, I promise, no more chicken puns.)

Chickens aren't new, but they have gotten quite hot, as the locavore movement spreads rapidly through cities and towns all around the country.

I just love the idea of chickens in the backyard. I have a soft spot for any animal, and I quite like the idea of having an egg-laying operation. Besides, chickens are just so cool!

The Front Yard Coop!
There was squawking (oops, sorry) from some residents, with worries about raccoon raids, poop-y yards and noise. Not to worry: Chickens will happily lay without the noisy rooster, and for the style conscious, here's the Frank Lloyd Wright of chicken coops — called the Front Yard Coop. Touted as the The World's First Self-Propelled Chicken Coop , it stores power from a solar cell in a marine deep-charge battery and inches along your yard at a safe and subtle 16 feet per hour. When it bumps into something, the circuit board reverses the coop’s direction. This distributes the flock’s impact on your lawn, spreads its beneficial manure and constantly offers your birds fresh forage.  The stored solar power also provides power for the electric fence that keeps predators out. 

Besides, it's so darn pretty! 

If you like your chicken abode to be a little more of a permanent structure, Country Living Magazine's July/August issue has a great article on building your own super-de-lux chicken coop. It's very stylish as well — I think any hen would feel proud to call it home!  

The plans for this darling coop-cottage are from FreshEggsDaily.
I thought I'd round this article out with a few of the delightful items I found, as I searched through Etsy, with the keyword "chicken".
This gorgeous Burlap Pillow from Samantha2818 comes complete with a French accent!

Isn't this this needle-felted Chicken Rattle from countrywildflower darling? It even comes with it's own needle-felted nest!

You can always count on finding some prime "chicken" cuteness, shopping in the vintage section. These charmers are from maplestreettreasures!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Katie's Kitchen: Fresh Fruit Fraisier

 I use to cook.

There was even a time in my past — as an unhappy art director working for an ad agency — that I thought of giving it all up and becoming a chef. It took me exactly one catered affair to change my mind.

It's been many years since; living on both coasts, meeting the love of my life, raising 2 wonderful daughters and finding the passion I was searching for in an easel and brush. 

But, even now I still can't resist the lure of recipes. If you saw my cookbook collection, you might think I was an accomplished cook, or at the very least someone who actually did cook. Nope. I just love reading about cooking! Especially the pictures.

Juggling my work, kids and sanity keeps me busy enough for a good excuse to not cook. Until the time comes when life slows down, I will live vicariously through those who do spend there time, lovingly creating culinary works of art. With the appreciation of a connoisseur, I will continue to enjoy my voyeuristic pastime!

All this brings me 'round to my addiction to Katie's Making Michael Pollan Proud blog. (Her tendancy towards luscious desserts helps, too.) 

Katie recently featured a Fresh Fruit Fraisier — as a challenge she completed for a very fun web-based group called Daring Baker. Katie explains, "Daring Bakers brings cooks from across the world together once a month to create a common dish and try out recipes they might not have dared attempt on their own."

I think Katie's gorgeous confection looks like just the thing for a hot summer party. Visit Katie's blog to find out how she made this dreamy dessert!