Monday, September 30, 2013

Mole Patrol and Fall pictures

Well, we found evidence of another mole.  I was about ready to announce that we were mole free for a while, but alas, we found one.  This one is proving to be quite elusive.  It seems to be playing along side my driveway where there is dirt and where I can hardly tell.  Hubby noticed when he was mowing the lawn on Thursday.  We got out the hose and tried in about a dozen different places and couldn't catch the little beast.
(this one has a mound that hubby stamped on)
I never in my wildest dreams thought that we would be dealing with moles.  And I can completely understand the phrase "making mountains out of molehills."  The other night when we were working on the nesting boxes for the chicken coop, I ran to the shop to get something and noticed all sorts of little tunnels under the ground.  This one is really teasing us well!  I'll keep you updated.

One of my friends at work and I like to talk about zombie protection strategies (lightheartedly of course, I just think its funny to talk about).  I had to let them know that I saw these in the local hardware store.  Zombie specific Ammo Cans.  Awesome!

I have also seen zombie target things in Walmart for shooting practice and a zombie apocalypse survival guide in Target.  I didn't expect to see these kinds of things out here, its kinda funny! :)

On a completely different note, here are some pictures of the coop alongside the bean field this fall! Its so pretty!
 Here is the view to the right...
 And yet another view of the left field without the coop.  :)
 Oh oh oh oh oh!!!  Guess what I picked yesterday!!!!!
These 4 beautiful raspberries...YUM!!  Hubby and I both had 2.  I picked another one this morning!  Homegrown raspberries are sooooooooooo delicious!   Someday I hope to have a nice big raspberry and strawberry patch!

Some of you might remember that at one point I had an irregular heartbeat and have been taking heart medicine to make it regular again.  I believe it came to be because I was pretty addicted to caffeine for about 6 years.  Which I have stopped drinking every day, now I only have a little bit once or twice a week, no where nearly as much as what I was having before.  As an update, this last time I visited the doctor, they put me on an EKG for a few minutes to measure my heartbeat. I'm happy to announce that it was working perfectly!!!!!  All is well!  I do have to keep taking the heart medicine though because if you stop cold turkey your heart will tend to go back to the way it was before.  The doctor lowered the dosage and everything seems to be working perfectly!  (knock on wood) Not to worry everyone! :)

Today is the chickens' 4 month hatch day!  I hope to take some pictures tomorrow and post about that tomorrow!  (we'll see if that happens!)  :) I'll take pictures of the nesting boxes we built this weekend too!


Friday, September 13, 2013

Chicks, garden pics, and painting, oh my!

Well, hubby and I have been on a work trip this week, during which I have been quite bored and been able to read books that I have wanted to read for quite some time!  It has been very nice, even though hubby has been gone for most of it.  But we have taken a few chances in the evenings to do a few fun things in the area, but for the most part we like our vacations pretty boring. :)

So, I'd like to take the chance to post about a few things that I have had in the queue to blog about for a while, this way I should be slightly caught up.  You remember how we made the pvc and netting run for the chickens?  We use that now as an attachment onto the coop so that they have a lot more run area and it seems to be working pretty well!

Here is a picture of Parker, the partridge rooster...He has so many nice colors and is really filling in to be a very nice looking rooster!  I'm afraid that Basil is still the number one rooster though!

We decided to finish off the garden, so I picked all the carrots and all the rest of the watermelons, whether they were ready or not.  I think we are going to end up feeding all the watermelons to the chickens because we kind of have to be in the mood for watermelon, and we haven't really been in the mood for it.  But...the chickens are absolutely in love with watermelon and I know they are hoping that all the cucumbers I take out to them are watermelons...I can see the disappointment when they discover they are cucumbers, hehe...
Here are the flowers on the raspberry plants...I hope that we don't miss them.  I'm hoping they are red, ripe and ready when we get home and that we are able to eat them.  YUM!! So glad we did the raspberries!
I have to figure out how to save some strawberry starts so that we can make some more pots, I have been getting tons of strawberry starts, but just been putting them back in the pot.
And, alas, here is the garden.  I cut out the tomato plants from their mangled cages and pulled them from the ground.  I wasn't going to use any more tomatoes and decided it was time to call it done. It was fun though, wasn't it?  While hubby was mowing the lawn I sprayed the garden with round up just to kill anything growing in there.
After hubby mowed the lawn and I raked it all up, he distributed the grass all over the garden just so it would help kill some of the garden greens.
Next year, I think I will use newspaper in between my plants to keep the weeds down and aid my gardening skills.  Plus, I think newspaper just decomposes and adds some nutrients in the soil, I think...I'm quite sure.  (Hubby is looking at pictures of goats and I want some pygmy goats soooo bad!!!)
On a different note, here is my finished painting from the acrylic painting class I took!  Ta Da!!!!
I think it turned out okay, and I really like how the red of the face of the bottom brown one turned out.  I'm not sure that painting is one of my skills, but it was worth a try! :)

Here is a quilt that I am in the process of kind of making.  It is no where near perfect...
And it may not be to anyone else's taste, but its a collection of my favorite fabrics that I have.  It has been pinned together in my fabric box for quite some time and I've been able to take some time the last few weeks to sew the pieces together.  Many mornings it can take quite a while to get any work to do, so I have been taking that time to clean the house and sew this thing together.  I still have to get some batting and a sheet for the back side and sew it all together.  I want to make it a bit heavier (I like heavy blankets), so maybe I'll see if I can add something in between the sheet and the batting to add some weight.  I think its a twin size blanket, if not a little smaller, so I might have to add a border around it to make it work with the sheet.  I also have some more large pieces that I want to use to make something else, not quite this crazy though.  I need to post pictures of the 2 king size quilts that hubby and I both made with the help of his wonderful mother...They are incredible!!!  :)

Also, I kind of want to learn how to knit, so I thought I would take the time to learn how this week. I have a little swatch working, but I'm still working through learning the stitches.  When I finish learning them I'll post a picture of the swatch and the book that I'm learning from.  I think that because I already know how to crochet that maybe that has helped maybe a little bit.  Maybe not, I dunno.  We will see how this goes.  :) It is kind of fun though!


Monday, September 9, 2013

Baking / Foodstuff!

Well, I think it has been quite a while since I have posted anything about food or anything and I have been doing quite a bit!  Well, sort of.

Let's start with my go to hamburger buns!  We have finally perfected (I think) the perfect hamburger bun, including size and time baked and all that.  Here is the link to the 40 Minute Hamburger Buns recipe that we use!  They are soooo good!
The recipe says that it makes 12 buns.  If you do the 12 buns they are a little bit too small for a good hamburger!  So, I usually make 8 pretty decent size ones.  In the picture above, I believe I halved the recipe and only made 4, so we had very little leftover (that is not an 11" x 17" baking sheet, its half that size, so the rolls aren't THAT big!  haha!).  Oh!  And we usually let them rise for a half hour or so until we get the size we like, not the 10 minutes the recipe calls for.  You should definitely try them!

Well, I thought it would be fun to try my hand at cinnamon rolls.  This is the first attempt with a cinnamon roll recipe with cream cheese icing.  As you can see, making and cutting them was a GIANT mess.  (I love my table!)
That thing that looks like a really thick hair at the bottom of the pic is actually dental floss.  It is a really great way to cut the cinnamon rolls!  And yes, I put the goo from the table back onto the cinnamon rolls in the pan.  I couldn't just waste it!  Is that gross?  Oh...but it wasn't!  :)  here they are after baking...they look really messy and not pretty...
Here is the icing...still looking for just the right recipe.  I still haven't found an icing/frosting recipe I like that doesn't taste like powdered sugar.  What am I doing wrong?  But this one called for cream cheese, which I think helped the flavor a little.  I'll have to keep playing with it.
 And here are the cinnamon rolls after the icing is on...Mmmm...
 They were really really good!  Funnily enough, BETTER the next day!!
Here is another attempt at cinnamon rolls using the other half of my famous roll recipe.
While they are prettier, I don't think that the regular roll recipe should be used as cinnamon rolls, I think it needs to be a sweeter, better recipe instead.  I also shouldn't have made them so small, I didn't like how thin the dough was after it was baked, it needed more structure to it.  So I think I'll stick with cinnamon roll dough instead.

This post isn't all about cinnamon rolls and hamburger buns, even though they are the best part of ... well, anything!  It is also about salsa and spaghetti sauce.  I made my first attempt at salsa.  The recipe I received from a friend said to roast the veggies until almost burnt to add more flavor to it.
The salsa that I made that called for roasted veggies turned out okay, but it was still a little too tomatoey for hubby and way too garlicky.  He doesn't like fresh tomatoes, you see.  But, I also tried another batch with fresh tomatoes and things like that, this one turned out way better, but it tasted, pretty much like fresh tomatoes blended up.  The picture below is not the recipe that was made from the roasted veggies above, it was the fresh tomato one.  I didn't really care for the bright red color, it kind of weirded me out.
Final verdict: I think we will be sticking to buying our salsa.  Pace knows what they are doing, they make it so it doesn't taste too much like tomato and it's just right.  

I also tried my hand at spaghetti sauce, mostly because I just had so many tomatoes!!!  I wanted to can it at some point, but I figured I should try the recipes first before I'm committed to a bunch of jars of it.  I got this recipe from a book called "Healthy Meals for Less" by Jonni McCoy.  She says that it also doubles as a pizza sauce, which is really cool.
I purchased the ebook not too long ago, and it has been really fun to page through it and see what I would like to make.  This book is all about being frugal and providing realistic food that is cheap and they don't seem to use too crazy of ingredients.  The recipe for this spaghetti sauce called for homemade italian seasoning (recipe also included in the book).  It also only cooked for half an hour, but of course, the recipe took me an hour or so to make.  But it actually tasted really nice! And I could see how it would be a pretty decent pizza sauce too!  I have another recipe for pizza sauce that I got from a friend that I need to try with the last bunch of tomatoes that I picked yesterday before finishing up the garden.  But I think this one really is a contender for my spaghetti sauce that I could can.  I'd have to look into safety for canning and stuff like that, I think.  At least if I have a plan for all of the tomatoes I'll have a better justification for planting them, otherwise I might just do 1 or 2 cherry tomato plants...we will see how things go!

I also tried two recipes for blondies.  Butterscotch Blondies and Blondies.  I found both of them on Pinterest, which I am falling more in love with every day.  I actually made 2 separate batches of the Butterscotch Blondies, they were definitely the favorite and had the best flavor.  I think that maybe I didn't cook the Blondies as long as I should have, but we definitely liked the Butterscotch ones better. Speaking of which, I might go get some right now... :)  With the butterscotch ones,  the recipe calls for a 10" x 10" glass pan, but I tried an 11" x 7" instead.  I felt like it should have been in a larger pan.  And it also didn't cook all the way in the middle, but the parts that were cooked were really good.  For the second batch, I added half a teaspoon of salt.  Maybe to give it some more flavor/savory?  I dunno, but I felt like I should add it, so I did.  I also baked it in a 13" x 9" equivalent oval stoneware pan that I got from Ikea.  (LOVE IKEA!)  I ended up cooking it for about 46 minutes, I think, and it cooked pretty well and all the way through.  We were very pleased... :)  Wish I would have taken pictures of them for you, but I forgot to! Sorry! :(

Alrighty, well, I best get to eating those butterscotch brownies... :)

Monday, September 2, 2013

Chicken adventures: 3 months!

Well, the babies turned 3 months old the other day!  Very exciting!  We are only 1 to 3 months away from getting our first eggs!  Which of course, is not why we got the chickens, they are our pets, but I am extremely excited to have my own eggs again.  And brown eggs.  I don't know why but I like brown eggs, but I'm too cheap to buy them in the stores and it doesn't matter that much to me.  Even if that means a 10 egg omelette on the weekends!  Because most of our chickens are bantams and the eggs are super tiny!
Here are some pictures of the kids that I took the other day...

Basil.  I love his facial expression, he looks really stern and kind of angry...haha!
 Dusting in a hole...She seems so happy!
Parker.  He's turning out really really handsome, look at all those colors!  Filling in nicely!

 Here is the progress of my painting last week.  This Wednesday is the last day of the class.
I was finding it so hard to paint them!  I was just so worried about making them look like real chickens that I decided to just go with it and see what I could do.  Not worry so much about them looking like real chickens.  And so, I decided to turn the picture that I was painting from around and paint from memory, which actually ended up being better for me and that is how all of this happened!  :)  Hopefully I'll post a picture of the finished product this week!

P.S.  We've almost sold 2 of our metal home decor things that we brought with us! Woo hoo!!!  :)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Garden update: near the end...

Real quick because we are getting set up for Lego Labor day!  I usually go shopping in Park City, Utah with my mother in law and sisters in law, but since we moved we are unable to participate this year.  Which is really sad, I really miss it this year!  :) This year, however, I think we are going to play with legos instead.  Which I am really excited for because it has been a very long time! Yay!

Here is the overall garden.  I'm not proud.  I did not weed like I thought I would, its pretty cool that we got what we got out of it!

 Here is the watermelon patch, we got probably 6-7 out of it this year!  Sweet!
Here is how I found out how to tell if they were ripe...If the tendril is brown, and not green, it should be ripe!  The tendril is that little tiny random stem that is nearest the part that attaches to the watermelon.  It is that little tiny branchy thing at the top of the overall watermelon to the kind of left that's brown.  Wish I could draw on the picture...
This one is green...follow the stem that attaches to the watermelon to the right to where it bends and you'll see the tiny random stem coming out.  That is what is green and should turn brown when ripe.
 Here is the watermelon plants to the right, I think the grass overtook it.  :( Totally my fault.
 Check out the raspberry plants!  The one went kind of crazy!!  Awesome!
 And look at what I found the other day on each branch of the crazy one!
Again...HOLY COW!  I'm so excited!  Looks like we'll hopefully have more than 2 raspberries from the plants this year! yay!!
The strawberries filled the pots and have been putting out bunches of starters...thinking of picking them and saving them, but I don't know how to do that...
 And, picked all the carrots and the rest of the watermelons...
The only thing left in the garden is tomatoes...and I might call them done, too.  Unless the spaghetti sauce I'm going to try is good. The salsa I tried wasn't very good, and I don't think that we like fresh salsa, regardless of the recipe.  I'll post about the salsa next time as well as my first attempt at homemade cinnamon rolls! ;)