Unnaturally warm spring

I know a lot of the country is getting hammered with winter storms, but in our neck of the Utah woods it’s been beautiful.  Our flowers have been coming up the past couple weeks and the weather has reached the mid 60s a few times.  On the one hand I like the warm weather, but on the other hand I think we’re facing a heck of a drought this summer.

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Joline lounging outside

Joline lounging outside

Ezra throwing pinecones in the air

Ezra throwing pinecones in the air

Many times in the morning Ezra goes upstairs and plays before we’re fully up and about.  A few days ago (and this has happened twice now) he opened the fridge and took out the Babybel cheese and fed them to the dogs.

In case you are unaware, they look like this:

Babybel cheese

Babybel cheese

Now, Ezra really likes the Babybel cheese but he also likes to share so most likely he thought he was doing a good deed.  Except he was feeding the cheese to the dogs whole, wax wrapper and all.  I’m grateful they didn’t have any blockages from this.

As an aside, we do have a child lock on the fridge, but Ezra can now drag a chair over to the refrigerator and unlock the sliding lock.  Good times.  We’ve explained to him that he’s not supposed to feed the dogs people food but I don’t know how much really sticks with him.  This morning Jesse went upstairs to find Ezra had been throwing our eggs on the kitchen floor for the dogs to eat.  I told Jess we are quickly running out of elevated spaces to put things.  *sigh*

We are kind of thinking about doing a small hydroponic system for some of our gardening this year.  It’s more of an initial cost but it sounds like it is less work and requires less water overall.  We really don’t like the idea of watering grass which is one of the reasons we’ve left our yard kind of a gardening dirt pit, but having no grass means we get a ton of dirt and dust in the house, mainly dragged in with the dogs.  If we had grass it would really cut down on that.  So we are considering getting some grass growing, but I don’t know if we’d do the whole yard or just part of it, or what.  And then we have to decide to do seed or sod.  Growing a lawn from seed is much less expensive but sounds like more time intensive, whereas getting sod going mainly sounds like a bunch of watering but a higher initial cost.  And if we do go for a lawn we’d kind of like to install a watering system of some sort, so that’s another added expense.

Did you know that a whole cow liver is frickin’ huge?!  We bought the liver and kidneys from a local butcher, Dale T Smith and Sons, to cut up for the dogs’ nightly meals.  We bought about 20 lbs. of each organ and while there were multiple kidneys included in the one bag, there were two bags for the liver, one whole and one to make up the rest of the 20 lbs.  I had to chunk up the whole liver before I could start paring it down into the proper meal size but left whole probably would have taken up one side of my counter.  Huge!  I was actually pretty impressed with the prices at the meat place; they had ribeye steaks for $5.39/lb and we bought a brisket for $3.59/lb.  We may go back just for regular cuts instead of hitting up Costco….

My original plan was to dehydrate some liver to make into dog treats but that didn’t happen.  Maybe next time but I got to thinking and you’re not supposed to overfeed liver to dogs because it make them have cannon butt, so I guess I’ll just stick to non-organ training treats.  I did just buy another order of treats from Best Bully Sticks.  They are a little pricey but have a great selection of nominally processed chews.  Those should be coming in a couple days and then we’ll be stocked up once again.

Ezra cuddling dad

Ezra cuddling dad

Dehydrated liver treats? Sounds yummy, right?

Jesse and I have been going back and forth whether or not to keep Luca because let’s face it, Luca’s a little crazy.  When people come over he jumps all over them whereas Benny gets really excited as well but then very quickly goes and lies down.  Luca nips at our hands while walking past, and he’s not great in the car (Benny has his issues too; face biting, anyone?).  But how can I get rid of Luca when he gives me this face?

Luca

Luca

So I’ve decided I need to start working with the dogs again.  So far I’m using up the leftover treats we bought when the dogs were wee puppies but I’ll soon be out of that.  I was trying to think of other things we can train them with.  I’ve thought of very small pieces of cheese; should be easy enough and we have a cheddar cheese block to use.  We can boil up some chicken breast and cube/shred it.  It also occurred to me that I can dehydrate liver in our new dehydrator!  There is a butcher facility not too far from my work where we got our organs last time and I do need to reorder.  I can just order extra liver and cube into small pieces and dehydrate those!  I’m pretty happy about this because I would like to get more organ meat into the dogs and this way the treats should be long-lasting, unlike the shredded chicken or the cheese.

We bought Ezra some finger paints on Amazon and let him try them out last night.  He didn’t *quite* have the hang of how it should work.  Jesse put blobs of paint on the right side of the sheet of paper and Ez basically just ran his whole hand over the blobs to mix up the colors and then slapped his hand on the sheet to make splatters.  It was kind of a mess but I did like the finished product.

Ezra's finger painting

Ezra’s finger painting; it’s hanging upside down to dry.  The hand print slaps that have the green at the top (which would technically be the bottom), he kept calling those prints “flamingos”.

We had him naked while painting because he already had no bottoms on and we didn’t want to stain the shirt even though the paints are supposed to be washable (we need to get a painting smock for him).  By the end of the painting time he was fairly colorful so we put him in a bath.  We had also purchased some bath color tablets and he thought those were pretty neat.

bath tablets

They have pretty good saturation and Ezra liked the fizziness aspect of them, he called them volcanoes.  Of course, I could probably make something similar at home, but I get lazy after a certain point, you know?  I was going to buy bath crayons as well, but apparently those *are* easy to make, so I will look up a recipe and see what’s what.  We’re trying to find anything to make bath time more fun.  He enjoys himself once he’s in the tub, but resists the idea of a bath when he’s not actually in the water.

Our chickens are giving us about four eggs a day, according to Jesse.  Velvet is going to get her own chicks this year so while she’ll probably take some eggs off our hands until summer, we will still have more than enough for the next couple months.  Here comes more quiche, yum!  We make awesome quiche.

I got some milk kefir grain and have been working to rehydrate them and transfer them onto raw milk, but it’s turning into more of a process than I feel it should be.  Probably because I keep trying to rush the process.  In any event I’ll probably try to get some extra grains from someone who already has them acclimated to raw milk.  I want to try that milk kefir!  I’m giving the dogs the cultured milk at this stage because it’s not the quality of kefir I want and the pups appear to enjoy it very much.  The cats, not so much.  Fingers crossed I can finally get it right!

Grandma chic

I bought a black maternity skirt at Old Navy awhile back and have pretty much been living in it.  I decided it was high time to get more skirts because I am NOT wearing maternity pants.  Those things are fairly uncomfortable in my opinion and super pricey.  I shopped the Old Navy website and purchased a few more skirts (on sale, woot!) and one of them arrived a couple days ago.  I decided to wear it today and straight off, this skirt is so comfortable!  And then I noticed the skirt has slits on both sides of the legs.  Hmm.  I am not a fan of slit skirts but thought the skirt was so comfy I’d just ignore it.  Except…  I have to wear compression socks/hose for the swelling.  My last pregnancy I swelled up like crazy and I’m trying to combat it this time.  These socks are pretty cute, kind of like knee-high trouser socks, and they are patterned!  So I’m walking in this floor-length maxi skirt that has slits up to my knees, and when I walk you can totally see I’m wearing knee-high socks.  It’s the latest in sexy grandma chic, I tell you.

 

 

A weekend for making things

Ok folks, I made so many things this weekend!  First I poured off and made some new water kefir.  I’m doing a second ferment with our homemade elderberry syrup because it actually seems to flavor it fairly strongly and it’s one flavor Jesse seems to like.  I also like adding a bit of sugar water with some vanilla, it’s like a cream soda then.  I’ll have to make that flavor again soon, maybe with the next batch.  That’s one item off the list.

Thinking about making our own snacky foods, I then made cheese crackers (think cheese nips) and they were ok, but I think I either need to let them bake longer or have them be a more uniform size.  Also I used a bit more cheese than called for.  Ezra seemed to like them but they get kind of soft after the next day, a little soggy.

cheese crackers

cheese crackers

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And remember forever ago when I said I was going to make homemade deodorant and see how that works?  Well, I finally did it.  There are a lot of recipes out there with similar ingredients, so I went with one that was 1/4 C. coconut oil, 1/4 C. baking soda, and 1/4 C. arrowroot powder.  I added a few drops of lavender essential oil for good measure.  The mix itself smells really good, kind of a light coconut/lavender scent going on.  I wore it today for the first time and doing a smell test after 8+ hours has me believing this just may work.  Some people reported that the baking soda left their skin rashy and tender but if that happens apparently you can decrease the baking soda and increase the arrowroot powder.  Other people use cornstarch in their ingredients, and others yet include shea butter or cocoa butter.  I will stick with this simple recipe unless I am forced to change it.

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Jesse wants to try it as well.  I told him I’d make him some that smelled more manly (think cedarwood) but he said he didn’t mind smelling like lavender:)  My lucky coworkers will get to let me know if I start to stink.  Although they will probably be too polite to tell me to my face and will have to go to my supervisor instead.  I’m not too worried about it if today is anything to go by.

I have a crazy sweet tooth and saw we had shredded coconut flakes, so I found a coconut cream recipe and made a pie.  I think this was a recipe Jesse had made before I wasn’t a huge fan of the pudding filling.  I’ve made a banana cream pie before and really liked that pudding base, but of course I lost that recipe.  In this coconut cream one I did about half the dairy and included a can of coconut milk to increase the coconut flavor.  It’s ok and Jesse seems to like it, but I think the flour addition gives it a more bland flavor.

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I made spaghetti last night and it was so good!  I made everything from scratch using our canned tomatoes and grass-fed beef and sausage.  Of course, we didn’t process the meat nor dry the Italian herbs, but I will still call it from scratch.  Ezra doesn’t like meat sauce (which is weird because he likes meat) so I just gave him noodles and cheese, which he loves.

I made us some smoothies from frozen organic cherries, frozen strawberries, and yogurt.  I want to use our Vitamix more often (that’s why I put it on our new kitchen island).  Ezra liked it, dare say.

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Of our two dogs, Benny doesn’t bark all that often.  Luca will go out at night and I don’t know what the hell he’s barking at.  If it’s some potential intruder, then I’m glad he does it.  However, I’m pretty sure he’s just barking at shadows and that gets old really quickly.  This morning around 4am I’d had enough so I went out and called in both dogs (Benny had just gone out to see what Luca was shouting about) and when they came in I tried to shut the dog door using the metal plate insert but somehow the tracks in the door had become bent so I couldn’t fit the door into the tracks.  I finally said screw it and just put them both in their kennels and went back to bed.  They did pretty well; sometimes Luca just scratches at the base of the floor but it seemed like they both just settled down and slept until I let them out around 8am.  Then a few hours later I looked outside and saw they were both in the chicken coop.  Normally this wouldn’t be an issue but for the past couple days we’ve been keeping the chickens penned up which meant the dogs had found some way to break in.  The weird thing was both dogs were eating the wilting spinach that Jesse had just given to the chickens.  Jesse had to go to school so he wrangled the dog door insert into place and we’ve had to manually let out the dogs today.  It’s not that I’m afraid the dogs with go to the bathroom inside but really they’ve had access to that dog door since they were little so haven’t learned any real method of communicating to us that they need to go outside.  So it is a wee concern.  (Haha *wee* concern, get it?  Yeah, at least I think I’m funny.)

Now I just need to focus on getting that bone broth into us on a daily basis.  Still haven’t got that ball rolling yet.  But I *DID* just get some milk kefir grains today when I picked up our raw milk at the store.  The cruddy thing is they are dehydrated, and you’re supposed to rehydrate using pasteurized milk, which we don’t have.  I had to pasteurize the milk myself heating it up to a certain point for a certain amount of time.  Pain in the ass.  Once the grains are rehydrated then I can work on transitioning to raw milk.

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Superbowl Sunday (and I couldn’t care less)

Me:  I was going to see if the guys at work wanted to do a potluck for Superbowl Sunday tomorrow, but they weren’t there at work and now it’s too late to set something up.
Jesse:  Can you watch the game at work?
Me:  Nope, but I wanted to do the food thing.
Jesse:  But why would you bring food if you can’t watch the game?  Although, the game doesn’t start until four, so you might get to watch some of it.
Me:   I don’t care about the game, I care about the food!
Jesse:  But…why can’t you just do a potluck some other Sunday, why does it have to be Superbowl Sunday?
Me:  Because it’s an excuse to eat a lot of food!  What aren’t you getting about this?!

Men, I tell you.

So, I recently said we were eating out too much and were going to focus eating more at home, remember that?  Yeah, that night we had Chinese food.  Good times.  To be fair, after that Jesse and I discussed ways to improve our eating and we are going to start having a small mug of homemade bone broth everyday.  We will have to find a way to smuggle it into Ezra because I doubt he’s going to be down for drinking warmed, meat-flavored gelatin water (sounds tasty, right?).  We’ll figure something out.  Also, I’m going to be better about drinking my kefir and kombucha.

Speaking of kefir, I think I’m going to get some kefir milk grains.  We’ve (I’ve) been drinking water kefir, but I was reading a post by another blogger and she lays out some interesting information about milk kefir vs. water kefir.  She also has a post on milk kefir vs. yogurt that seems pretty sound.  Jesse likes a certain brand of honeyed Greek yogurt but reluctantly said he would try a kefir version.  I just need to get some milk kefir grains because you cannot use the water grain variety.

water kefir grains

water kefir grains

milk kefir grains

milk kefir grains

I’ve also been looking into straw bale gardening.  Jesse has pooh-poohed this idea, but I still may want to get a couple bales and see how they do compared to the rest of the garden we’ll be doing this year.

example of straw-bale gardening

example of straw bale gardening

Speaking of the garden, Jesse wants to move the chickens and their coop from their present location to a different area of the yard, so I’m not sure what the garden will look like this year.  He’s tried to explain it to me verbally, but I really need to *see* it to understand it, so one of these days I will need to walk the yard with him to figure out where everything is going to go.

This baby boy has been very active.  Last night he was kicking around and all of a sudden it was like he was having a seizure, kicking and punching in a fury…and then nothing.  Absence.  Totally freaked me out.  I lay there for awhile all anxious before he started kicking again and I felt relieved.  Don’t do that, baby!