Sunday, February 24, 2008

Flattery

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery...right??

Sierra has decided she needs to copy cat whatever we say. This started because she would "read along" while we were reading to her. It was like when a person who has absolutely no clue what the lyrics to a song are tries to sing along. Okay, she's trying to learn, so whatever, I just let her do it. Well, now she does it in the course of normal conversation. I'll say something to Sedona or Josh and this faint little voice repeats everything I'm saying. We keep getting on to her for it (especially when it's getting onto Sedona...i.e. "no biting Sedona"), but she keeps doing it. Today we had this conversation:

Me: Sierra, quit copying
Sierra (in her most exasperated voice): UH! I'm talking to my brain! My own brain. I'm not talking to you.
Me: Well, if you're not talking to me, I shouldn't be able to hear you
{conversation continues, Sierra stops the copying}
Sierra: Momma! Momma! I'm talking to my own brain quietly so you can't hear!

oh, good grief! Not only is it annoying, but it's extra annoying that you have to try not to laugh while it's going on!

She also "charlie browned" herself today. It was a really nice day, so we were all out in the backyard and I was trying to teach her how to throw a football. She got pretty good at that, and we moved on to punting. She could not get the concept of just dropping the ball and kicking it, she kept throwing it up in the air (usually behind her) and then kicking. Poor kid kicked so hard one time that she ended up flat on her back. Gotta give her an A+ for effort ;-)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Mmmm....Chicken Nuggets

The chickens got to spend their first afternoon outside. This was just a brief visit to wilds of the backyard and we contained them with a cardboard box that didn't have a bottom. They thoroughly enjoyed pecking at the ground. Unfortunately, while my back was turned pulling weeds in the strawberry bed, the dog thoroughly enjoyed knocking over the box and scaring the bejesus out of the chickens. I'm not sure she knew they were dog food, I think she was just nosing at them, but they were sufficiently terrified none the less. They seem quite happy to once again be safely caged. They have reached that awkward, ugly, teenage phase. There are random feathers poking out this way and that and puffs of down sticking out. Exhibit 1:


We started our first foray into making sauerkraut last night. Note to self: do not let the dog eat raw cabbage in the future. Remember that part of Shrek where Donkey's walking along saying, "and then I ate some rotten berries, man, I had some strong gases eekin' out of my butt that day" (ahh...who doesn't enjoy a little potty humor from a donkey now and then?). Anyways, yeah. When you wake up the morning after starting sauerkraut and are bowled over with the smell of rotten cabbage, it is NOT the sauerkraut, it's the dog who ate the raw cabbage. Just for kicks, here's the cabbage before it became 10 pounds of shredded cabbage:


Other fun garden stuff....I'm sure I probably cursed this same butterfly back when it was a caterpillar and happily munching on all the foliage in sight, but man is it pretty (and tame!) now. Thought it was kind cool that it was so involved in drinking nectar, it let me get this close. Josh has an evil plan to create venomous butterflies--he claims it would be the ultimate bioterrorism weapon..."aww, look at the pretty butterfly! Hey, it's landing right on my shoulder! Hey guys, check this....hey, what's it doing? arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh" and that person's life fades into black. (why yes, it is wrong for two scientists to marry each other and sit around talking every night instead of watching mindless TV...way too many ideas). I'm pretty sure this particular butterfly was NOT venomous.



Sedona got to try out the little people car for the first time tonight (the battery was disconnected so she couldn't accidently make it go anywhere). Check out the comparison...I finally see the distinct difference between the girls...Sierra's got Josh's eyes (her eyebrows go straight across, Sedona's arch up), and the more pronounced chin. Of course, this is Sedona at 7 months and Sierra at 14, so I imagine Sedona will thin out a bit in the next 7 months.



I made my first true prefold diaper last night. So incredibly easy. For roughly $0.30, I made an infant size (the only size we ever use) 4x8x4 out of flannel. Infant sized prefolds generally run $2/each, so I find this a wonderful deal!!

We rented "An Inconvenient Truth" from the library last weekend and just watched it. I fall squarely into the camp of it doesn't hurt to live a more sustainable lifestyle and there's nothing to lose by making more choices like using solar power, turning the lights off, riding a bike instead of driving, etc... (well, nothing to lose but perhaps profits in big oil's pockets). On the other hand, I find it incredibly funny that someone went to the trouble to make this movie and never realized the irony that every cut away scene shows Al Gore in a foreign country or driving somewhere or on a plane. Hmmm.....last I checked, jet-setting was an incredibly carbon intensive practice. Also, the scientist in me had to immediately wonder if the "before" and "after" pictures of various glaciers and mountains were truly comparable---were they taken at the same time of year, etc...? I don't know the answer to that question, but just showing a picture without further explanation doesn't prove anything to me. Like I said though, I think (as do my poor, confused, brussels sprout plants) things are heating up and it's not just the normal cycle of things. And if I'm wrong, riding a bike or taking a walk now and again, or using cloth diapers, or buying locally grown food ain't gonna hurt anybody (and helps my bottom-line). I wasn't super wowed, but I think it's worth seeing even if you hate al gore with a passion and think global warming is a hoax. Josh on the other hand, proclaimed at the end, "well now I just want to demolish the house and build a yurt". I somehow don't think that will keep us safe from the venomous butterflies.


And last, but most certainly not least, Sierra has been obsessed with taking pictures ever since Sedona was born. In the era of digital cameras, we let her do it b/c we can always just erase the pictures. I was about to do a big "delete" of sierra pictures today when it occurred to me that when run all together, the set is better than some of the stuff you see in modern art museums. Behold, the world from the point of view of a three year old:

Thursday, February 21, 2008

10, 2 and 4

So the other day, I pull through Sonic and order a Dr. Pepper (gotta love happy hour at sonic). Sierra's bugging me for a drink and she's being good, so I hand it back and let her take a sip. She goes, "mmmm!!! PaPaw likes this!" ROFL I don't know if she recognized the name when I said Dr. Pepper or if it is actually the taste she knows, but it was super hilarious either way!!

Monday, February 18, 2008

100th post

I've learned how to make prefolds! It's easier than I thought it'd be. Better yet, I learned how to make cheater prefolds from old t-shirts. I have a whole box of t-shirts with ratty collars, holes at the seams, etc... and I've been saving them, but had no specific plans. They shall now become diapers. Here's my first one:

It probably makes me a bad aggie that two twelfth man t-shirts got turned into a diaper, but I think it's kinda cool (and if anyone wants to donate some old burnt orange, UT shirts, I'll be happy to have my kid poop on them).

I also learned that the remnants cart at JoAnn's is even more dangerous when there's a big sale on flannel. Since everyone was happily gobbling up $2/yd flannel, I was happily gobbling up the leftover 1/2 yd, 2/3 yd and 1 yd pieces at half off regular price, then 75% off that. I got all the below fabric (right around 7yds--most is flannel, the purple on the end is knit) for $2.50. Yay!


I went back the next day and picked up three more flannel scraps--it was about 2 yds for $0.60 or so. Perfect for making diapers or pads.

And here's my latest completed project...a homemade mei tai (completely from fabric off said remnant cart :-) I paid somewhere around $2 for this. Yay me.


As you can see, fits both kiddos, though I chose to make the straps out of knit (which everyone says is a big no-no, but I don't care--I'm used to my moby, which is knit, and wanted this knit too) and they aren't quite wide enough for holding Sierra up. it works, but it's not real comfy. The directions said to do 9-15 inch wide straps and I only made mine about 8.

And in bad news---the price of flour has gone up. booooo hisssssssss

chickens seem to have doubled in size in the last 3 days. they all have most of their wing feathers and tail feathers are poking through. Two of them have been named---one of the black ones has red stripes on her wings, so she's been named Cinnamon. One of the goldens has plain yellow wings (the others have black stripes), so she has been named Jane (as in plain jane). The rest remain chicken nugget, chick-fil-a, omelet and scrambled until they give us a better name idea for them.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Attack of the Green Monster!

Sierra picked out Fun Dip valentines to hand out at school---you know the colored sugar with a candy dipping stick? yeah, the other parents are gonna LOVE us. I figure it's retaliation for all those birthday party invites that keep coming home. I know it's polite and all to invite everyone in the class, but the kids all know they got the invite, so Sierra gets all excited and then I have to be the no fun mom because I am not going to take my 3 year old to 17 different birthday parties throughout the year (and buy 17 presents, and feel like I have to throw a huge party and give out 17 goodie bags). Anyways, back to the Fun Dip. There were more in the pack than we need, so I let Sierra have one. My oh my did she enjoy herself LOL She couldn't resist eating the candy stick, so she finished off the sugar with her finger. She was quite a sight to behold:



Got powdered buttermilk this weekend. I haven't tried biscuits yet (that would be the true test), but it worked great in pancakes. My tamales I made last night came out wonderful. This was my 4th or 5th time making tamales and I finally got it right (with the help of my kitchen aid food processor I got for christmas last year and LOTS of chili powder and cayenne). Tonight I made up the chicken pot pie and still had a little bit of chicken leftover. It's not quite a great bargain if you go throwing the food away, so I wanted to come up with something else to do. I ended up shredding it and mixing it with barbecue sauce for sandwiches. I remember when I was a kid, I thought my dad was the best and most innovative chef around because he turned pot roast into chopped BBQ beef sandwiches one night. Now that I'm older I'm thinking either there wasn't a whole lot else in the house that night or he was too tired to cook, but the idea has stuck with me and made quite a yummy dinner!

And we learned that chickens like shiny things. Really like shiny things. We have a light hanging over their box and made a little reflector shield out of aluminum foil so it makes a nice warm spot in the box for them. We were standing over them today trying to think of names and one particularly brave chick (perhaps she should be named evel knievel or adrenaline junkie) took a flying leap (they're on a towel and the edge is folded up so it's maybe 1.5 inches off the bottom) and grabbed the edge of the aluminum foil on the light and actually HUNG ON and swung there for a few seconds. When she finally let go, all the other chicks ran over as if to say, "Dude! Sweet jump!" If only I had it on video. The light has now been raised.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Tamales!!

Yummmm......I had 20 pounds of chicken thighs in the deep freeze from when they were on sale for 67 cents/pound. I decided to cook up 10 pounds of it this weekend and made up some yummy chicken burritos (with homemade refried beans, a shredded chicken/chilis mix, cheese and salsa--sadly not homemade, we've already used up what we made last year). Tonight I made chicken tamales. I'm going to go insane waiting for them to steam so I can eat them. Tomorrow (hopefully) the last of the cooked chicken will go into two or three family size chicken pot pies. 10 pounds of chicken for $6.70 turned into 10 giant sized burritos, 3 or 4 dozen tamales and about 12 servings worth of chicken pot pie. I'm telling you, stock up while things are on sale. Yes, I had to buy a few other things (tortillas, and stuff to make masa) but that was still only another 5 bucks or so. Everything else I have on hand from also buying it on sale, or else it's growing in my garden.

In live chicken news, the baby chicks are doing well. The naming them chicken nugget thing was just a joke, but yesterday Sierra called one chick-fil-a LOL Seriously though, we need real name ideas. Something with a theme. The only thing I could come up with was an old school Disney thing...Lady, Cinderella, Belle, etc.... More info about the chickens--a few people have asked why we didn't buy pullets instead of chicks. The chicks were available locally, so that's the main reason. The other advantage though is socializing the birds. Right now they're little bitty things living in the house and getting used to us picking them up and petting them. Word has it this will make them much nicer to deal with when they're big birds (with big beaks). A few people have also asked what kind they are. The brown ones are golden sex links and the black ones are black sex links. The "sex link" part means you can tell based on their coloring whether they are male or female as soon as they hatch. This means we don't end up with any rooster surprises....nice bonus. The ladies will all lay brown eggs for us when they get older (somewhere around mid-May to mid-June). And something hilarious I've learned about baby chicks; they will fall asleep standing up and their head just ever so slowly starts to dip until their beak hits the ground and they just sorta pass out there. Then they get all wobbly and go "oh yeah, I can lay down". They're starting to perch a little bit, but mostly they just lay on the ground. Today we came home to almost the entire food thingee dumped out--not sure what sort of chick mischief they were up to. New pics:


And here's the dog wondering what in the world could make such a tasty sounding chirp (yes, the room's a mess, it's our back storage room that we use for laundry and indoor wood working when the weather's bad):


And we all went out to Veteran's Park yesterday because Josh had soccer games. I checked out the sidewalk trails and discovered they have a cool little thing (I think I read it was a mile long) where every twenty feet there is a row of bricks representing one year of US/local history--one brick has the year, and there are 5 or 6 bricks next to it with little factoids. It goes all the way from 1776 through 2007, pretty cool! Here's the girls both zonked out in the stroller:

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Chicks Rule




We got chicks. They're WAY too cute. They're named chicken nugget (well, 5 of them are. The 6th is named supper). More info later.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Itty Bitty Homestead

I think I'm about to the point of calling us homesteaders. Pretty soon we will have reached the point of replacing our entire lawn with an "edible landscape" (much more useful, frugal and "green" than the ideal suburbanite lawn). Josh assembled the basic frame for the chicken coop today. Turns out he was just a step ahead of me....I realized today that we've gone through 2.5 dozen eggs this week :-o I am now fully on board with the chicken idea. Anyways, here's pictures:


The little decorative scallop on top is because this was the salvaged wood from the remodel site. He was going to take it off, but as I looked at it, it reminded me of the comb on top of chicken's heads and I think I might paint it and stencil on chicken silhouettes or something.

The weather continues to be completely bizarre and unpredictable. If we're going to bypass winter this year, we need to just bypass it and knock off this cold/hot, let's have a 30 degree differential between night and day nonsense. My plants don't know what to do!!!! I discovered two snow peas in the garden today. We have never been successful at growing snow peas, so I was excited, but not sure they'll stay or continue to produce. Here's a pic:


Some of the carrots are looking almost done based on the size of their shoulders as well, so I imagine we'll start harvesting those very very soon. It's also time to plant more for harvesting later on. I loved having dehydrated carrots this year that I could throw into soups, so I'll take as many as I have space for. I couldn't resist lifting the hay to peek at our potatoes and they're doing well--definite roots have sprouted on the bottom. Our seedlings are also doing well. We'll probably be planting more this weekend so we have plants of different ages (instead of one huge crop, we'll get two or three huge crops LOL). Hopefully this will counteract our tendency to plant two weeks before the last frost. I swear, whenever we plant, there's a freak hard freeze two weeks later and then we just have to go buy seedlings after all our hard work of starting our own. Not this year!! Here's a pic of the tomatoes we've started so far:


Pay no attention to the sad, sad looking rosemary plants. Not quite sure what happened there. Out of the frame are lots of pepper plants, okra, and artichokes. The artichokes will go in the front yard under the bedroom windows. They will be food as well as security measure. Last year we had more artichokes than we knew what to do with, so we'll probably be able to sell them. Or, we could just let them flower. Have you seen an artichoke flower? The color is so bright, it literally hurts your eyes to look at it.

(I found that picture here because I seem not to have taken a picture of ours last year for some reason)

In other news....I was a bad mommy. We all went to Gatti-Town this week (that's a story in itself...) and Sierra played a few games and traded her tickets for one of those little wooden planes you put together. Well, I convince her to set the plane on the diaper bag and she keeps asking about her plane and I keep telling her we'll get it out when we get home. So we get home, and best mommy in the world has dropped the plane somewhere. grrrrrrrr. I search everywhere, no plane. Sierra asks if we can go back and get it and I explain that I must have dropped it in the parking lot and someone probably picked it up. She thinks a while and says, "well, we can go knock on their door and say, 'can I have my plane, please?' and that be real nice and then they'll give it back". Let me tell ya, I felt like a real winner. We narrowly avoided a major temper tantrum by having a lesson in how to fold paper airplanes. I may have learned more than Sierra--I am always all concerned about being precise and getting a perfect point at the front of the plane. Sierra, of course, was not so precise. I tried to show her that the edges should meet when she folded it, but she ended up with a big open hold in the nose of her plane. I pointed it out to her and she looked at me like I was a big moron and said, "I know, that's how the people get on the plane". LOL Never considered how people would get on my paper airplane! Better yet, when we flew the planes, hers did the best by far--the gap seemed to help catch the air and float the plane longer!

And the frugal tip of the day--use powdered milk. Seriously. Keep a big box in the pantry and use it for anything you cook. You'll buy less fresh milk (you still need fresh milk to drink, if you drink milk), but no one will ever notice you've switched to powdered milk in pancakes, muffins, etc...If the regular stuff in the store doesn't appeal, you can order powdered organic milk and even powdered buttermilk. Depending on how much you buy, it's gonna be cheaper than fresh organic milk (especially if you ever let the fresh stuff expire and throw it out without using it in anything!)

Monday, February 4, 2008

King Cake!!!

Okay, I figured out I'm almost a month late (apparently you're supposed to do the King Cake for the Feast of Epiphany), but I got to thinking it was Mardi Gras weekend and decided I needed King Cake. I've never made one before, it came out way tasty:

I just finished it yesterday afternoon and it's already gone. Only a little over 24 hours later, even with everyone out of the house all day today :-)

I always joke that Josh surreptitiously moved in when we started dating. I kept saying we weren't living together and every so slowly, his stuff kept showing up. Next thing I knew, all his stuff was at my place and he had no lease (we had already combined money, so this wasn't nearly as big a deal as I tease him about it being). Earlier this year he pulled a similar move to build a shed. He kept saying he was going to build a shed and I kept saying, "with what money?"--we had budgeted for a kitchen remodel, but not a shed. Next thing I know, he's purchased 2x6's and other basics with his own money and built the floor. Then, of course, we had to finish the shed. He's very very wily. I believe the same technique is being used to get healthy, nearly-free eggs. One day I'm gonna come home and find chickens in my backyard. He's been talking up the chicken idea since before we moved in and at first I nixed it, but I'm starting come around. At the first mention that I might be okay with backyard chickens, he tells me he passed a house remodel and wants to go ask if he can dumpster dive (great money saver, by the way....get free materials from work sites that are throwing them out). Well, the guys let him take out what he wanted and he now has almost all the makings of a chicken coop. I must give credit where credit is due---he's got a pretty cool design going. It will tilt back on wheels so we can move the chickens from place to place (a la Joel Salatin) and it will be triangle shaped with sides that lift up for getting eggs without having to crawl in the coop.

And last, but not least, received the March issue of Bon Appetit today---gotta love it when they have a recipe that includes stuff we have on hand. Tomorrow night's dinner will be potato, feta and greens quesadilla....looks a lot better than it sounds.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Fun Times

I'm addicted to the fabric remnants cart at JoAnn's. Especially while said remnants are 75% off original price. I've picked up 1.25 yds flannel, .67 yds fleece, .33 yd terry cloth, .8 yds cotton canvas and 1yd of...well, I'm not sure what it is, kinda like fleece, but only fuzzy on one side. All of that cost me $5. I can make an amazing amount of stuff to replace wasteful and polluting disposable things with that much fabric.

My pina colada cakes came up way yummy. This went better than my pumpkin bread attempt (the second try always goes a little better). I had the appropriate amount of head space in the jar this time. Take a look:


And today we "planted" some of our potatoes!! We used up all of our newspaper, so we figured we'd wait a week or two (and a few sunday papers) before planting the rest. That will give us a more spread out crop too. This hay bed isn't even half of what we have :-o If this works like they say it does, we're gonna have an awful lot of potatoes to eat/preserve!!!!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Let them eat cake!

Note: I have since learned my initial skepticism was correct and canned cakes are at risk of Clostridium botulinum growth, so don't do it! More info on canning safety

So, if there is a massive power outage and shortages of eggs, milk, butter and flour, we will still have cake!!! Hey, it's the little things, right? In a recent issue of Mother Earth News, there was a small piece about canning cake. Yes, cake. You make up your batter, cook it in a wide mouth pint jar and when it's done cooking, immediately put on the lid and band (i.e. only take one jar at a time out of the oven). As it cools, the lid seals and you have a little "cake for 2" on the shelf that's (supposedly) just as good 6 months from now as it was fresh out of the oven. I was extremely skeptical and thought the person was nuts. I'm not sure why, but I got a bee in my bonnet to try it out this week. It was one of those, "I must try this RIGHT NOW" things. I guess I'll have to wait 6 months to see how it really goes, but so far, it all seems to have gone according to plan. Pictures:



Sorry for the blurry oven pic and the glare...I never claimed to be a photographer. This first batch was pumpkin bread. Right now I have pina colada cake in the oven...yummmmmm From what I've read, this only works with quick bread type cakes. Regular cake will fall.

Sierra is gaining quite the little personality. When she got told she had to put a certain toy away a few days ago, she threw herself face down on her bed and said, "you made my heart sad!" Yup, she's my daughter. 20 years from now she'll probably mellow out LOL. Today she brought home a drawing from school. I had to take a picture of it to share:

I practiced my "tell me about your picture!" skills and learned that that's "momma, daddy, little bity sedona, and sierra" (in that order). No, I don't have a goatee and antennae, apparently I'm upside down. I'm not sure why I have to be upside down, have a mohawk AND have my mouth on my forehead, but it was good for a chuckle.

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