It’s gettin’ hot in here (so take off all your clothes)

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Yeah.  You all know what I’m talking about.  It is frickin’ hot right now, and I am not loving it.  And for some reason, it’s been a bit muggy, which is weird because our Utah location is usually arid desert.

When we take Ezra outsize, we often like to let him run around naked.  Part of it is because it’d be nice to have him start potty training and I’d like him to know what it feels like when he pees instead of having his diapers whisk it away, but mostly I like that he’s getting vitamin D from the sun, and he gets to play in the dirt which I’m sure is beneficial.  And also, we can just hose him off when we need to.

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Our garden is still going strong.  We have more tomatoes than I know what to do with.  The thing is, we have a vast abundance of cherry tomatoes as well.  A lot of them are “volunteers” from last year when we just let the tomatoes rot on the ground.  Now, the larger tomatoes we will do some canning and make a tomato base and whatnot, but what to do with the ginormous amount of cherry tomatoes?  I’m going to have to go on YouTube and see what others are doing with them.

large tomatoes from the garden, second harvest

large tomatoes from the garden, second harvest

a tiny showing of our cherry tomatoes

a tiny showing of our cherry tomatoes

growing spaghetti squash

growing spaghetti squash

shallots

shallots

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Those really tall things in the front with the wilty bottoms?  Yeah, that’s lettuce.  Lettuce!  I never knew they could grow that tall.  I figured they just stayed these nice, neat little round-shaped heads and that was it.

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Our yard looks a treat, doesn’t it?  We have so much stuff just lying around, it’s ridiculous.

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These sunflowers just started growing and we figured it they get the nice heads we can feed them to the animals, although from what I understand, the black oil sunflower seeds are the best.  I guess they are really high in fat and animals just love them.  Although, just now looking over some images on Google, maybe that’s what we have growing.  Who knows, we’ll just have to wait and see.

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We are now getting about 5 eggs a day from our hens, so Jesse decided we needed to start making quiche.  Now, I’ve made quiche before but was never overly enamored of it, and I never used to use a pie crust with it because of the extra carbs, but Jesse wanted these to have a crust, so he set about learning how to do it.  His first attempt at quiche was delicious and they just keep getting better.  (Side note: Our first quiche we used some fresh basil in the mix.  OMG!  Why don’t we use basil more often?  It was great!)  Last night he decided that he shouldn’t be the only one to know how to make pie crust, so he taught me how.  To be fair, he actually made the dough, but then he showed me how to roll it and bake it off.

amazing quiche

amazing quiche

Mmm.  In this iteration we used numerous cheeses, spinish, cream, eggs, salt and pepper, and diced ham.  The crust was perfect!  All it needs it a couple slices of fresh tomato and some asparagus and it would be even better!  But I’m fairly lazy, so usually I just eat the quiche on it’s own.

We got our Vitamix blender the other day and tried it out that first night.

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How to describe it…It was good, but totally not what I was expecting.  I mean, the machine works perfectly, and even though I knew it was a blender and not a juicer, I guess I was still expecting it to be more juice-like, with less pulp.  But of course, we were blending the entire fruit and veggies and I really didn’t put in much extra liquid, so it turned out to be a very thick concoction.  And I used two carrots, so it was more fibrous than it needed to be.  I know there are probably thousands of actual recipes out there, but we’ve just been winging it.  Last night I made a batch that included kale, spinach, apple, banana, strawberry, raspberry, peach, carrot, honey, and cherry juice.  It is good, but it looks like sludge.  It’s brown.  Sludge brown.  It’s tasty once you get past the visuals.  And I’m getting more veggies in my diet, which was the whole point.  I gave some to Ezra last night and finally gave him a spoon to eat it with.  He thought that was pretty cool.

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Aren’t these grapes so pretty?!  On the old deck for a backdrop, it’s almost like something you’d see in a magazine.  These are the grapes from our back fence.  The yellow jackets were starting to eat them, so we harvested the grapes and Jesse borrowed his mom’s steam juicer.  I didn’t have high hopes, I’ll be honest, because I had tried eating those little purple grapes off the vine and they were still pretty tart.  But Jesse put all the grapes into that steam juice and brought me down a sip from the results and I was shocked!  Shocked I tell you!  Because it was really very tasty.  I think we filled out a couple quart jars with the juice, and that juice was drank quite quickly.  So, I look forward to next year’s harvest.

the good grapes

the good grapes

Jojo-kitty hanging out by the coop

Jojo-kitty hanging out by the coop

I will leave you with your moment of zen:

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Rabbit gender fail!

As you all know by now, a few months back we acquired 4 rabbits; 3 does and 1 buck.  We lost 1 doe to heat stress, but the others were doing fine, so we decided to begin breeding them.  We took the New Zealand White doe and placed her with the NZW buck.  They smelled each other a bit, and then the buck started doing his business to the doe’s head.  It was the wrong end, but we figured he’d get it eventually.  Soon, though, the buck was running around his cage, grunting, and trying to hide in the corner.  The doe mounted him a couple times, but I had read about that, dominance games.  Eventually, our buck just looked so stressed and freaked out that we took the doe and put her back in her own cage.

Two days later, we decided to try again, only this time with the Californian doe.  Pretty much the same thing happened.  When we took out the doe, we decided to check her gender, just to make sure.  After all, these are our first rabbits, and I relied on the breeder we got them from to get me the correct genders.  So, I’m checking out her equipment, and it doesn’t look quite like I thought it should.  We took out the other doe and looked her over as well (and let me tell you, none of them like being picked up.  Thank goodness for Jesse and his long arms, able to reach to the back of the cages) and her parts looked way different.  On a whim, we decided to look over the buck, so we could compare him to the other two.  Only…his equipment looked a lot like the NZW doe.  Crap.

We went inside and watched a few YouTube videos, then went back out to check the Cali doe again.  Yeah.  It was an epic gender fail.  It turns out we do have two does and one buck, we just had a couple animals incorrectly labeled.  And that explains why the NZW “buck” was freaking out and running in circles; a doe does not like other animals in her den, they can get very aggressive.  Typically they will attack other rabbits, especially males, and here we were putting other rabbits in her den!  I guess we were lucky that she’s a fairly gentle rabbit.

We tried putting the other NZW doe in with the actual buck, but nothing happened.  They kind of just hung out.  Now, the Cali buck is about 2 weeks younger than the other two, so it could just be he’s a bit on the young side, or it could be the heat is making him uninterested.  We’ll probably wait a couple weeks and try again.

We’ve been making ciabatta bread like it’s going out of style lately.  It’s such an easy recipe to follow, though, it’s hard not to want to make it.  We made some zucchini bread the other day as well.  It was like cake, delicious!

A lot of the time, I like to be literally hands-on with Ezra.  I like to stroke his face when I talking with him, give him kisses and cuddles, that kind of thing.  Yesterday he was in his high chair and he stretched out his hand, so I leaned in to kiss his finger, and then he cupped my cheek and stroked it.  It was frickin’ adorable.  I practically melted on the spot.  He is such a sweet boy.

Cleaning off in a garden sprinkler

Cleaning off in a garden sprinkler

At night, he’s gotten into a routine where he wants me to tickle daddy, and then tickle his (Ezra’s) belly right after.  He just laughs and laughs, he loves to be tickled.  But, he always wants me to tickle daddy first.  I’m telling you, I wish I had a video camera set up to record it, or may a pair of those Google glasses that can record right then and there.

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We have a couple types of grapes along the back fence, some are juice grapes and some are table grapes.  I’m not impressed with the juice grapes so far, and I thought the table grapes were going to be these green, very tart types – not my style at all.

grapes for juicing

grapes for juicing

I was walking the back fence last night and saw some of the green grapes actually has a blush color to them, so I thought I would try them.  Oh.  My.  Goodness.  Those grapes are amazing!  They are juicy, and sweet, and have just a *hint* of tartness.  They are what all grapes should be.  I totally want to rip out the other grapes and just plant this style of grape.  Jesse says he is going to take clippings this fall and plant them around the yard, and maybe over the chicken coop.  I am ALL for that plan.

the most amazing grapes!

the most amazing grapes!

Speaking of juice grapes, we have decided that we need to get more fruit and veggies into out diets.  For the most part, we pretty much have a protein, maybe some bread, occasionally a vegetable for our meals.  I mean, I like vegetables well enough, I just don’t prepare them that often.  To this end, we decided to get a Vitamix!  This blender is purported to be the end-all be-all to blenders.  We were going to go with a cheaper brand, but watching side-by-side reviews on YouTube led us to go with the higher-end brand.  I, for one, didn’t want to be drinking what could turn out to be a very chunky salsa-type drink.  I want smooth and creamy.  I want to be able to chug it, because I’m probably not going to be enamored of the flavor at first.

We purchased directly through Vitamix website, one of their reconditioned models.  They all have a 5-year warranty on them, so I’m not too worried about it being reconditioned.  The only thing that was weird is that you cannot select which model to get, they basically tell you it is going to be a model out of X line of models and you get what you get.  To be fair, they are all pretty comparable when all is said and done.  The delivery countdown begins!  And really, who needs a credit card with any spending limit left over, right?

Our chickens are still pretty miffed that we are not allowing them out of the coop run.  But, until we harvest most of the tomatoes, there they will stay.  We have another one or two giving eggs now, so we get about 4 eggs a day.  Two of them are typically very small, and lightly green, so they must be coming from the Ameraucana birds.  Jesse wants to learn how to make quiche, and you just know we need to learn more recipes that call for eggs.

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We had a very productive last couple of days with regard to reorganizing the house.  I wish I would have taken before and after photos!  We took the kitchen racks and pots/pans out of the soap room, organized the soap room, took the soap display shelves upstairs into the soap room, and moved the packing materials into the soap room.

We decided to overhaul the library room and we spent time organizing what books to keep and which to sell.  I have a kindle now and a good portion of those books in digital format, so really it makes no sense to keep a tangible copy, it just takes up space. So now we have about two full bookshelves for books to be sold, and another couple for keepers.  We have a lot of bookshelves.

By bringing the soap display racks upstairs, it opened up space in the downstairs family room.  The whole point of this is to make it more childproofed so Ezra can come downstairs and play around.  School is starting again, and we’d like to be able to have Jesse work on homework and keep an eye on Ez at the same time.  We were able to move Jesse’s tool rack upstairs in the library room, and I moved Ezra’s changing table around.  It’s amazing how empty a room can look when you take everything out of it:)

We mounted the TV to the wall, and we plan to move the printer station.  We are kind of thinking of getting one of those hexagon dog fences and stretch it out to partition our computers from the area Ezra can get into.  He loves clicking the mouse and keyboard buttons.  I come home and my settings are changed.  Not so fun.  I told Jesse the layout of the room seems to be calling for a bean bag chair.  My grandparents had one, and I remember we used to run and throw ourselves into it.  I bet Ezra would love one.  But, while I’m willing to pay good money for a Vitamix, I am not so quick to pay out for a bean bag chair.  So, he’ll just have to lounge on the floor for now.

See what I mean?  Productive!

Taming of the shrew(s)

With our rabbits getting all mature and frisky, we are starting to plan a breeding schedule.  Well, not so much a schedule as when to breed for the first time.  We’ll go to a schedule once we get a feel for the situation most likely.  I have been on one of my Facebook rabbit forums and the talk moved to the socialization of the does (doe, like a singular female deer, and does for the plural).  I have not done great with socializing these rabbits.  The buck is pretty chill, all thing considered.  He comes to the door, lets me pet him, kind of just hangs out looking for treats.  The girls, on the other hand, are more…I don’t know.  I don’t feel comfortable leaving my hand near their heads, I’ll say that.  They have sharp teeth.  They’ve never bitten me, of course, but they are just so skittish.

I’ve been working with them more in the sense that I’m bringing them treats, trying to pet them while they are snacking on them to build a positive association with me, and it seems like it might be paying off.  The forum folks suggest I get some leather gloves, thick, long-sleeved shirt, and hold them a couple times a day with the intent to get the does to build up some trust so when the time comes for me to handle their kits they don’t go batshit crazy.  The problem I have is, I work long hours at my regular job, and when I get home I try to spend time with my husband and also the babe before he goes to bed.  However, we are planning on breeding the rabbits at the end of the month, so I’ll have to figure out how to step up my game somehow.

our buck

our buck, look at those ears!

Our garden is growing at a pretty good pace.  We are going to be swamped with tomatoes before too long.  We really need to get some canning jars, as we plan on making salsa and maybe a plain tomato base of some sort.  I suggested to Jesse that we go to a thrift shop and pick up some used jars and then just buy some lids – thinking this would be a cheaper alternative than buying everything new (this being the first year we have grown enough to can), but he says he likes the uniformity of having the same size of everything.  So who knows what we’ll do about that.  I still want to look through the thrift shop.

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We have harvested a crazy amount of zuchini this year.  A lot of it grew large before we came back from our vacation, so we chopped that up and froze it to give to the animals as treats.  We probably have 50 lbs of zuchini in the freezer right now.  And then we gave some to my sister and her friend, but it just keeps coming!  I’m thinking I will grate the stuff we have now and freeze it to use in bread this fall and winter.  I’m not a fan of zuchini, and though my husband proclaims to like it grilled, he has yet to do so, even with the smaller ones.  I forsee a lot of zuchini bread coming.

Speaking about bread, I tried my hand at ciabatta bread a couple days ago.  I used this recipe as my inspiration, but didn’t follow the part about beating it down and letting it rise again, so my bread was less fluffy that it could have been.  It was way tasty, though.

Ciabatta bread

Ciabatta bread

And now for something completely different, we have another chicken laying eggs!  Today, Jesse found a tan egg along with a brown egg.  He thinks it came from one of the Blue Andalusian hens.  Now if only the remaining 5 would get to business.

Tan/white egg!

Tan/white egg!

(Side note: I just figured out how to show these images in a larger size!  Go me!)

Speaking of hens, we have been allowing the girls out during the day and then they’ve naturally wandered back into the coop at dusk where we lock them in for the night.  A couple mornings ago, Jesse went to the back of the coop to lift the latch and get an egg, when our black sex link came around the corner to see what he was doing.  To clarify, she came around the corner *outside of the coop*.  Somehow she got lost in the crowd and must have slept the night away in the hedge area next to the coop.

black sex link

black sex link

The other night it was I who went outside to lock the girls up for the night.  Mindful of what had happened a couple nights ago, I opened up the side door to do a head count and came up one short.  It took me forever to figure out who was missing and I had to keep going over which breeds we had and how many of each before I realized it was the black sex link that was out again!  Of course, it was nightfall then and dark, and all I had was a flashlight so I didn’t have high hopes I’d find her.  I thought I had heard a peep when I was passing the rabbit hutch earlier so went to check it out and sure enough, she was roosting on a perch on the rabbit hutch.  I scolded her gently, picked her up, and put her in the hen house where she belonged.  It was kind of cute to see her settling in with the rabbits, but I’m not sure why she isn’t staying with the crowd when they come in at night.

I came home after work tonight to find the girls in the tomato beds.  Perhaps we won’t have such a bumper crop after all.

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Bad chickens!