Awesome Backyard Ecosystem

The dragon and her feeder
The dragon and her feeder

Hi there from Geoff again, long time no see! Wanna know something else that’s awesome about keeping chickens in your backyard? It’s the garden ecosystem it creates!

Now that you have your DIY chicken feeder, (you did make this, right?) you’ve probably noticed that wild birds hang around to pick up any scraps left behind by your chickens. However, the birds leave behind the “food dust” that’s just too small to even bother trying to eat. But where does this food dust go to? It’s there in the evening but gone in the morning…

Mrs Torquington
Mrs Torquington

I’d recommend going out into the garden with a flashlight after dark! 

First off, we have the snails. They are attracted to the smell of the food dust and come crawling out from their hiding places. You can usually see them if it’s been raining. We have around 5 or 6 large snails in our garden, the largest being Mrs Torquington (pictured).

Along with the snails, we have a variety of insects that are also attracted to the food dust. If you were to venture into the garden you would see crickets, cockroaches and beetles munching on the delicious food dust.

Before you screw up your face and say, “ewww” consider this for a moment. The snails and insects are attracted to the dust. This means that they prefer the dust to your plants. So having them all congregate on one section of the garden is beneficial to your veggie garden!

Reginald the Cane Toad
Reginald the Cane Toad

Another benefit to having the invertebrate army in one spot is that predators are also attracted. This is also beneficial to the garden as they love to eat all those crunchy / slimy things that come out after dark. 

My favorite predator is Reginald the Cane Toad. He can be seen stalking the garden almost every night. His favorite spot is to sit right under the chicken feeder and wait for the food to come to him.

During the day we have predatory birds, perching up in the tree just waiting for anything to poke it’s head out of the undergrowth. My two favorite birds are the Red vented Bulbul and the Indian Mynah, both beautiful animals! The insects also attract a variety of lizards including anoles and geckos! The anoles can be seen chilling out, upside-down on the tree, puffing out their colorful throat fans!

Bulbul, Mynah, Gecko & Anole - photos from google
Bulbul, Mynah, Gecko & Anole – photos from google

Having chickens is awesome, you already know that. But if you take the time to sit and watch from a chicken’s perspective, you really do see a whole new world. If you don’t have a chicken, buy some food dust anyway and enjoy your garden ecosystem!

Cherry Limeade Cupcakes from Awesome on 20

Cherry Limeade Cupcakes

Cherry Limeade Cupcakes from Awesome on 20

There are a few tragic facts about living in Hawaii. One of them is that we don’t have Sonic. On the hottest days of the summer, you cannot drive in to a Sonic and order a large cherry limeade. Tragic.

When the sweet folks at Duncan Hines offered to send me a couple of samples of their frosting creations, I chose cherry vanilla as one of my flavors. It’s not summer without cherry limeade.

Duncan Hines Frosting Creations

The lime cupcakes are from Brown Eyed Baker‘s margarita cupcakes. I left the tequila out this time, but you don’t have to. I wanted to try the frosting the way it was intended the first time around. I don’t usually use premade frosting, and if you don’t look at the ingredient list, it tastes totally awesome. It’s a fairly thin frosting, I assume so that you can easily stir in the flavor mix. That’s why I decided to spread it instead of pipe it. It basically tastes exactly like a cherry Laffy Taffy.

Cherry Limeade Cupcakes from Awesome on 20

This cupcake is awesome, but guess what is even awesomer. At the moment this posts I will be on a plane to New Jersey. I won a giveaway on the awesome blog, Crazy for Crust, to visit the test kitchen at Duncan Hines. I’ll get to meet a whole bunch of bloggers that I follow, as well as some talented bakers who all won recipe contests to earn their place. I basically just got super lucky. One of these things does not belong.

I am so excited for this opportunity. I’ll probably completely geek out and act like an idiotic fan girl. I doubt I’ll ever be able to participate in anything like this again, so I’m definitely going to try to make the most of it.

Cherry Limeade Cupcakes from Awesome on 20

Have a cupcake, kids. It tastes like summer.

Cherry Limeade Cupcakes
Yields 12
A sweet summery cherry limeade cupcake almost makes up for never being able to go to Sonic.
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Total Time
50 min
Total Time
50 min
For the cupcakes
  1. 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  3. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  4. 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  5. 1 cup sugar
  6. 2 eggs
  7. zest and juice of 1 lime
  8. 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  9. 10 drops green food coloring (optional)
  10. 1/2 cup buttermilk
For the frosting
  1. 1 packet cherry vanilla frosting creations (Duncan Hines)
  2. 1 container frosting creations frosting starter (Duncan Hines)
For the cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 325 and line cupcake tin with cute cupcake papers.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. With a mixer on medium high, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  4. Turn the mixer down to medium and beat in eggs one at a time.
  5. Mix in zest and lime juice, and vanilla. Finally, add the food coloring, if you want.
  6. Turn the mixer down to low and add a third of the flour mixture, then half of the butttermilk, another third of the flour, the rest of the buttermilk, then the last of the flour.
  7. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula and give it all one last mix.
  8. Scoop the batter evenly into your twelve cups. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Allow cupcakes to cool completely on a wire rack.
For the frosting
  1. Stir the flavor packet into the frosting. Give it a good mix to make sure the color is consistent all the way through.
  2. Spread frosting onto cooled cupcakes.
  3. Pretend you're cruising down the highway in your air conditioned car and eat up.
Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker
Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker
http://awesomeon20.com/

Burgerology: The Counter

The Counter at Kahala Mall

When I’m feeling fancy, I like to grab a custom built burger from The Counter at Kahala Mall. They’re big and juicy and completely customizable. It doesn’t hurt that they have a full bar, either.

Ham, brie, and cranberry burger

The burgers at The Counter are made with high quality ingredients, and there are about twenty different toppings you can choose from. The menu is actually a form you can fill out, checking all the toppings you want on your burger. I’ve gotten a different combination every time. This time around, I got brie, dried cranberries, black forest ham, and roasted garlic aioli on my 1/3 pound beef burger, all served up on a toasted English muffin. I’m basically a genius. 

Spicy Everything Burger

Geoff got a beef burger with fresh jalapenos, sauteed onions, roasted green chiles, spicy pepperoncini, pepper jack cheese, and habanero salsa. He’s a mad man. Previously, you had to order sides, like fries, seperately, but now one side is included with your burger. We both got sweet potato fries. Duh.

Boozy Shakes

This time, Geoff ordered a Kona Long Board, and I got a Woodchuck Cider. They have a pretty good selection of beers. The very most amazingly awesome selection from the bar is the boozy milkshakes. There’s a really creative selection. I had the Thin Mint. Geoff’s was a caramel something. I don’t remember what it was called, but they both tasted so good. One of these days, I’m going here just for drinks and dessert. The menu is so tempting.

The Counter at Kahala Mall

 The Counter is creeping toward the upper end of what I’m willing to pay for a burger, but for a special occasion or a fun night out, it’s totally worth it. You’re definitely getting your money’s worth. The atmosphere is trendy and relaxed. It’s the kind of place where you can laugh as loud as you want. Go get a burger. Fun, laughs, good times!

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