Happy birthday to me!

My 34th birthday was on Wednesday.  On Monday Jesse had suggested going to Wendover to celebrate but we weren’t sure who we could get to watch Ezra.  On Tuesday we asked Jesse’s folks and they agreed so we quickly got our stuff together and dropped off Ezra at their house.  The drive to Wendover was pretty uneventful, it’s a fairly uneventful drive out past the salt flats.  Wendover itself is a small gambling town on the border of Nevada and Utah and I love seeing the bright, twinkling lights when it comes into view.  We stayed at the Montego Bay casino and after a brief mix up where our key cards didn’t work, we settled in.  We went to the Italian restaurant on site and while the soup was awesome, the entrees left a lot to be desired.  We gambled after dinner and I of course was tapped by the end of the night while Jesse still had some money to play around with.

I woke up the next morning to a phone call from some guy that our dogs had escaped our backyard and that he had them.  He lives somewhere in the neighborhood, probably in our cul de sac area, but I never got his name.  He said he’d just take the dogs home for us and lock them up again.  I was thankful that they were both together and that they still both had on their tags (Luca tends to slip his collar, abetted by Benny).

Because I had lost all my money the night before, I took out some more money but after losing another $50 we decided to head over to the Nugget casino because we had some “free play” money available, and who doesn’t like free money?  I totally lost that money, too, but then I saw a Willy Wonka slot machine and how neat is it there are Willy Wonka slot machines?!  It was a two-seater design and there was a woman on one side so we went around the other side and started playing.  After about four pulls at max bet the Oompa Loompas started singing so I had triggered a feature of some sort.  I saw a couple wild card rows appear, and then the multiplier landed on 10x, so I thought that was neat.  The bonus winnings started rolling up and it got to $100 and I thought, cool!  Then it got to $200 and I thought, right on!  And it just kept going up!  It finally topped out at $1390 and we were SUPER excited!  I could now pay my car registration!  And get some other much needed items!  Wahoo!

Winner!

Winner!

We had to wait for an attendant to notice us and then I had to fill out a bunch of tax paperwork because apparently if you win $1200 or more you have to report it on your taxes.  So that process took another 20 mins or so and then they cashed me out.  I played a little longer after that but decided we shouldn’t press our luck and headed home.

Visions of what we could do with the money danced in my head.  Jesse graciously said I should keep the money since I won it with my personal allowance money, but I thought maybe I’d just pay myself back my original amount and use the rest of the winnings for communal purchases.  We compromised.

After we picked up Ezra and got home we checked on the dogs.  It appears they somehow got the gate to unlock and unlatch and that’s how they got out.  We made sure they were secure and headed to Cabela’s where we eventually bought a new wood smoker and a dehydrator.  Happy birthday to me, indeed!

We have venison!

Jesse was such a tired man when he got home from hunting.  His nephew had shot a deer around sundown the day before but they couldn’t find it in the dark when they went looking for it.  Luckily they were able to find it the next morning pretty close to where they shot it, it sounds like.  Jesse told me it was gut shot, and I immediately started thinking the meat wouldn’t be good because it would have been stewing in its bacteria-laden fluids all night.  After doing some research, though, it’s actually recommended you leave the deer alone for a couple hours if you gut shoot it, because the animal can live for hours and if you pursue it will run whereas if you leave it alone it typically lays down in the area it was shot and just expires.  Not a pretty way to go, I know, but at least the animal doesn’t go to waste if you can get to it.  I suppose wild animals like coyotes or wolves would get to it as well so it wouldn’t be wasted, but you know what I mean.

They field dressed the buck and started on the way back home.  It sounds like Jesse was stressed on the drive to and from because he was driving another’s vehicle and trailer and wanted to be especially careful with it.  Then the motor home my BIL and family took locked them out so they had to break a window and everyone had to crawl in through the window because the door wouldn’t open.  Good times.

Jesse finally got home around 10 or 11pm maybe?  He was tired and dirty and stressed and he still had to deal with the deer.  He put it in the buck bag and strung it from our deck and called it a night.

After I got home the next night and we put Ezra to bed, we tackled the deer.  We had to refer to the YouTube video numerous times to make sure we were doing it correctly, and even then we probably butchered it more than was strictly required.  Have you ever butchered an animal?  I can tell you firsthand, processing an animal has a pretty pungent scent.  Definitely different than opening a package of meat from the store.  That was kind of a difficulty for us, not knowing what was an “off” scent versus what was just a normal death/meat smell.  But, I think we did pretty well all in all.  We got a lot of roasts from it that will turn into jerky somehow, and the back steaks looked great.

(The above video is the one we used; that guy moves so quickly!)

At one point you take off/break the skeleton carcass at the pelvis to leave you with the hind legs and we were trying to decide what to do with the carcass when we thought we’d just give it to the dogs.  They could eat what they wanted and we’d throw out the rest.  I thought maybe there would be arguing or snarling but no such thing happened.  They both went to town on it with no apparent aggression issues.  We left them outside instead of bringing them in for the night because I was unsure if there would be any digestive upset.  I mean, we raw feed, but that was A LOT of food.  The only thing I could tell was off the next day was they were so sleepy.  They snoozed a good portion of the day away like they were in a food stupor, it was awesome.

Anyway, we put some meat aside while we were processing that we knew would be dog food and had another pile for obviously bad areas, and the rest we put in a cooler with ice, layering towels between the meat layers to soak up any blood and juices.  That method seemed to work really well and we’ll probably do it again like that in the future.  We were able to let the meat rest/age for a couple days and didn’t have to take up any fridge space to do it.

It was a little daunting to process our own deer instead of taking it in somewhere, but I liked that we got to experience it hands on and that we now know it’s not impossible to do again.

Caramel baby

I told my coworkers that this baby is going to be so sweet because it’ll be half caramel. You are what you eat, right?

The other day I lost my cool with Ezra because he was driving me nuts and I said, “Why are you being such a bad boy today?” and he kind of looked at me like he was thinking about it, and then I thought crap, what did I just say?  I mean, I didn’t yell it at him, just said it in exasperation.  So then I said, “No, I’m sorry, you’re not a bad boy.  You are my good boy, but I need you to listen to mama.”  And he said, “No, I not, I a bad boy.”  And my heart just sank.

He said it a few more times that day when he did something he knew I didn’t like and he’s said it a few times since then.  Now, I don’t know how much he actually thinks he’s “bad” versus just repeating back what I said to him, but I definitely need to watch what I say because I don’t want him thinking that *I* think he’s bad.  I definitely try to praise him for things, even exhaustively where Jesse probably wonders why I’m telling Ez good job for eating his vitamins or whatever.  I tell him I love him all the time, but sometimes I worry that the things I say in one-off situations will leave longer lasting impressions.

We recently bought a whole set of stainless steel pans from Costco.  Our other pans were the non-stick kind that we’d had for years and the non-stick surface was flaking off pretty badly on some of them.  Combine that with the reports I was reading about how even supposedly safe non-stick coatings were actual toxic, and that led to the decision for stainless steel.  I really love the bottoms on these things, they are super thick which means more even heating.  They don’t have any rubber or coating on them so they are safe to use *in* the oven as well.  Their only downside I can find is that they are frickin’ heavy.  But I’m willing to put up with that.  So far I’ve used one pan to make…I cannot recall what I made.  But I’m sure it was tasty.  And I know it didn’t stick too badly, whatever it was.  And I made popcorn in a deeper sauce/soup pan which turned out great.  So far, so good.

We stored the old pans in the library room which is actually just a catch-all room for all the crap we don’t have other space set aside for.  On the one hand, I like having additional pots and pans in case we need them, but on the other hand we entertain so infrequently it’s unlikely we would need those additional pans more than maybe twice a year and it’s not like we’d even have space on the stove top range for more than four pans at a time anyway.  So really, I think I’m going to push for us just getting rid of them.  One less box of useless items cluttering up that room.

Is venison on the menu? Maybe.

Jesse is hunting this weekend with his brother and nephew.  While he doesn’t have a hunting license, he doesn’t plan to actually shoot anything so it should be all good.  My brother-in-law doesn’t like venison too much and we are always looking for sources of meat for the dogs so Jesse thought he would go along and help them pack out whatever they got.  Jess and I did have a conversation where we decided that while we love of dogs, they were not going to be the recipients of ALL the venison.  My mom has claimed some, and we also want to make jerky.  This is based on the assumption the boys will come home with meat.  I sent a request out to my cousin to talk with *his* dad about their venison jerky recipe because I remember it as amazing.

If they do come home with deer, we are going to process it ourselves because it can be quite costly to have someone process it for you and that kind of defeats the purpose of sourcing cheaper meats.  I’ve been watching YouTube videos on field dressing and butchering, and have been reading articles about how long to hang the meat to age it and let me tell you, there is a crap-ton of different ways of doing things.  There really isn’t a consensus.  To age or not to age?  To skin immediately or leave on skin while aging?  To cut bone or to cut around bone (something to do with chronic wasting disease)?  It can get seriously confusing.  I imagine we’ll end up with a bunch of meat scraps/stew meat, and that’s ok.  I see a lot of folks actually pressure can their meat and that way it’s immediately ready when making soups and stews.  We did that with chicken breast and it turned out great (I made chicken salad from it last week that was pretty tasty), so I may have to do it again with venison.

Again, this is assuming they come home with any deer at all.  *fingers crossed*

simply adorable

simply adorable

So far with this pregnancy I’m up a few times a night either from acid reflux or to run to the bathroom.  This worked to my advantage today because I had to run Ezra to grandma’s this morning and my phone chose today as the perfect day to shut itself off in the middle of the night.  That means that instead of getting up an hour earlier to get the house and occupants ready for the day, I actually got up about 15 minutes later than normal.  Go small bladder!  I groggily looked at the clock this morning and saw it was 6:15am and rolled over before thinking, why didn’t my alarm go off at 6am?  Which then got me to thinking, wait, why didn’t my alarm go off at *5am*?  Which got my adrenaline spiking as I realized what had happened.  Stupid phone.  Glad to say I still made it to work on time this morning.

I cannot say if it’s pregnancy hormones or just a growing inability to deal with what I deem stupid people, but I’ve having some trouble remaining polite while taking calls at work.  This isn’t to say I’m cursing at them or anything, but I’m getting frustrated more easily by their lack of understanding of whatever process it is I’m trying to explain.  There are really only so many ways to say “Ok, now click the Edit button” before I’m just yelling, “CLICK THE EDIT BUTTON!  THE ONE NEXT TO THE PREVIEW BUTTON!” while my closest coworker laughs at me.

how I feel on calls

how I feel on calls

Another day, another dollar

Some mornings as I’m getting ready to leave the house to go to work, I kind of want to shove Jesse off the bed and onto the floor.  Because he is still sleeping!  And how come he gets to sleep in all days when I don’t?!  Unfair!  On the flip side, he does take care of Ezra on the days I’m not home and that can be exhausting so I can’t really begrudge him his sleep.  Even though I want to sleep in, too.  I’m tired almost all the time.

This is probably because I’m up at least once a night to go to the bathroom.  Or because I’m having vivid dreams.  You remember I had that dream a few weeks ago where Ezra drowned?  Last night I had a nightmare where I miscarried.  I woke up gasping for air, chest aching, as I had been sobbing in my dream.  It actually took me a few minutes to realize it had been a dream.  Horrible!

Jesse cleaned out the tomato plants from the garden area yesterday and took down the chicken fencing, so I imagine the chickens are having a field day today.  Literally:)  Jesse made batches and batches of salsa last night with the remainder of our red tomatoes.  We still have quite a few green tomatoes ripening in the back bedroom.

I’m glad he did something with the tomatoes, because I have NOT been in a cooking mood lately.  I think I’ve bought something for dinner for the last four nights.  I’m always envious of people who meal plan.  I have just never been able to get myself put together like that.  Maybe someday.  Especially since by OB doesn’t want me dining out at all.  We’ll see.