There should be a title here

If you have not seen Atomic Blonde, I highly recommend it. We saw it last week and it was great! Charlize Theron hadn’t been in much lately but she’s starting to crop up again. She plays a kickass MI6 agent set in 1980s Berlin right before the wall comes down. The movie has a great soundtrack as well. Two thumbs up.

Jesse and I have been talking about how to get better quality meats/seafood into our diet. Pretty sure we’re getting a quarter cow and half a pig from the farm nearby. We’re hoping to get a deer or elk this fall as well. We just purchased a case of wild-caught salmon from Zaycon that should be delivered in November. We’re kind of talking about maybe decreasing our protein intake as well, at least from animal sources. That idea freaks me out a bit because I love my meat, so that is just a tentative idea for now, but something like Meatless Mondays might be doable. I’ve been fasting fairly regularly lately so that has really cut back on food needs around the house. Now that I think about it, simply fasting decreases my meat consumption, so Meatless Mondays might not need to happen! Huzzah!

I’ve been watching a lot of canning and dehydrating videos again. I remember my grandparents giving us canned food for a snack and it was always way tasty. I would like to do that for my kids as well. One problem is that if your land doesn’t provide the produce it’s usually cheaper to just buy whatever the canned item is from the store. Cheaper but not necessarily better for your health. So it may be time to hit up some farmer’s markets and see what they have. Or at lease keep my ear to the ground for some great sales. Canned cherries have been on my mind a lot.

We’re having game night at Velvet’s this week and the potluck theme is “salad” so everyone is to bring a salad of some sort. I didn’t want to bring a lettuce salad because I figure someone else will have that covered so instead we’re trying our hand at a marinated cauliflower antipasta salad. Fingers crossed it turns out ok.

We’re going to see Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets tonight. The trailer looks good and it’s gotten pretty good reviews. Velvet and I are on this app called Meetup and we joined a group where they frequently give away free advanced screening tickets to upcoming movies. That’s how I see the majority of my films now. Usually you watch the movie and once it’s over you can give them your feedback. I think the studios do it to get soundbites to use and also to gauge interest as to how many theatres it should go to. Pretty fun.

You’d think our yard work would be over by now, wouldn’t you? Well, you’d be wrong. Little things are still cropping up that need to be managed. And how the heck do we have weeds already?! They told us that a healthy lawn will block weed growth, and yet here we are. I’ve reached out to Jonathon but haven’t heard back yet. Such a surprise.

Ezra has made friends with a couple of the neighbor girls. I only know one of their names and while they’ve been at our house almost every day this week I don’t know that they know Ezra’s name. It’s always, “Can *he* play?” To be fair, I don’t know if Ez knows their names either. One of them lives two house down from us and all I know about the other one is I’ve seen her around so she must live in one of the houses in the culs-de-sac. Parenting at its finest, folks.

Nose studs unite!

When I was in the hospital after having had Leo, I lost my nose stud somewhere along the way and didn’t notice until after I was home.  I’d thought maybe I would go to a piercing parlor and have them put in new jewelry but it took me awhile to recover and after a couple weeks it seemed like the hole had closed up and I didn’t want to bother with getting it pierced again.  It seemed strange that a piercing I’d had for years would close up so quickly, but whatever.

Fast forward to last night when my niece decided it was time to get *her* nose pierced and she and her mom invited me along.  I decided I would get my nose pierced again, and then decided I wasn’t going to after all (who needs that pain for a third time, right?).  I waffled back and forth the whole afternoon and when we pulled up to the parlor decided I’d get it done after all.  My nose piercing is my one claim to rebelliousness I have left!

We had to wait quite a long time and it was closer to 8pm before they called us back.  They had me on the table first and the apprentice explained that she would set up the materials and place the dot and everything and then the pro would come back to actually do the piercing.  When she heard I’d only had my jewelry out four months she thought maybe the hole was still open.  She use a “hole-finder” needle and was able to get it about halfway through but didn’t want to press her luck.  When the piercer got back there he was all business.  Poking the needle this way and that, then eventually checking out the hole from inside the nostril, then BAM! the needle was through.  Let me tell you, it may not have been an actual piercing but it still smarted pretty good.  They didn’t want to have to pierce me with another hole, they said, because even though my nose will be sore for about a week or so it will stretch and heal MUCH more quickly than a new hole.

I chose a different kind of post than I’ve ever had before, it’s threaded.  Basically the post goes though the hole from inside the nostril until the post pokes out on the outside of the nostril, and it has a hollow tube.  The jewel, or topper, has a solid post and it slides into the tube that’s coming out of the nostril.  It’s different, and I like that I won’t have to constantly be on the lookout for a piece of metal coming out of my nose.  I was always adjusting my nose screw because the curly/bendy part was always moving forward when I would talk or blow my nose or whatever.

Then it was Grace’s turn.  She took it like a champ and was super excited after it was done.  I told her that her mom was pretty cool to let her 12-year-old daughter get a nose piercing.  My mom had problems with my extra earring holes in my ears, let alone giving the okay to do my nose.  Then again, I wasn’t into facial jewelry in those days so it would have been a moot point.  But still!  She ended up getting a threaded piece of jewelry as well.  The nice thing about this is that with a regular nose screw you cannot change it for at least three months.  With the threaded jewelry you can swap out the post the next day, they said, because the main part of the post remains in the nose.  Cool, huh?

nose studs unite!

nose studs unite!

My nose was sore last night and it was hindering me from yawning because every time I’d start to yawn my nostrils would flare and that would hurt and that would break the yawn.  It was so unsatisfying!  Grace and I were lamenting our poor ability to yawn and then Velvet yawned a huge yawn while we were driving home.  She was rubbing it in our faces!  But as of about thirty minutes ago my nose suddenly hurts a lot less and I’ve been able to yawn successfully (and satisfyingly) without pain.  I am still contemplating getting my other side done, but I’m also thinking about getting a lip piercing so I purchased a fake lip ring off eBay to see how I like the look on myself, a try-before-you-buy kind of thing.  We’ll see.  Jesse is not a fan of facial jewelry, so who knows if he’d even still give me smooches if I got one.

I made chicken stock a couple nights ago in the pressure cooker and when I went to strain off the veggies and bones a bit of stock splashed out and hit my stomach.  Holy scalding pain, Batman!  It frickin’ hurt, BAD!  Not more than a splash got on me, but it was enough.  When I checked later, there was a spot the size of a dime on my stomach that was all read and the skin was already peeling off.  The next morning that patch was irritated and after my shower the skin came off completely.  So now I have a lovely scald wound from a dash of a splash.  I’m ruined!  Just kidding.  It’s actually on one of my stretch marks so maybe it’ll get rid of it in that area.

Awhile back Benny’s eye were super red so I took him to the vet where he was diagnosed with pink eye.  We were given eye drops (which Benny hated) and his eyes seemed to get better but then Luca seemed to come down with it.  Took him in, same diagnosis, same meds.  I noticed that both their eyes still seemed red so I called the vet to see if I could get drops for both of them to medicate at the same time.  If it is pink eye, they’ve probably just been trading it back and forth.  They agreed to give me the drops so I’ve been medicating the pups since last Wednesday.  As per usual, Benny did not like the drops.  In fact, he flat-out bared his teeth at me when I attempted it the first time this go round.  However, I’ve learned a couple things recently that has helped me.  Benny doesn’t mind the drops if the bottle isn’t close to his eye!  So, if I hold the bottle above his head and use my left hand to kind of tilt his head up, he will stare at me and let the drop fall in his eye!  So much easier!  Luca, however, doesn’t like it when it’s too far above his head (and I don’t blame him; I’d think the farther away the drop the harder it would hit the eye).  And of course I give them a small treat after each drop.

I changed up the treats because the usual training treats weren’t really holding their fancy for this situation.  I busted out the Fruitables and they seem to really like those.  I bought a variety of flavors and they really enjoy the blueberry flavor.  I barely opened the vanilla and they seem to like that as well.  Of course, maybe their desire for them is because the cookie is larger than the regular training treats, who knows?  I dropped an apple slice on the floor the other day and broke it in half and gave it to them and they just chomped it up.

I’ve read up recently about the benefits of chlorella, so I decided to buy some from Amazon.  It’s a blue-green algae and it’s supposed to bind to metals and help with energy and a whole host of other purported benefits.  I’ve  been adding it to my kefir smoothies the past two days.  It’s too early to tell if I’m experiencing any benefits yet.  I also ordered spirulina but it hasn’t been delivered yet.  Fingers crossed I start to get more energy!

 

Handmade doings around the house

We’ve been eating out a lot lately.  A LOT.  So I’m trying to be better about making things around the house.  Yesterday I decided to make taco soup using our canned ground beef and canned beef stock I had made.  This was my first experience with canned ground beef.  Some folks don’t like canned ground beef because the texture isn’t as firm as freshly cooked ground and I would have to say that they are right about the texture; it’s definitely softer.  However, I didn’t mind it at all in the soup.  Now, I might not like it for stroganoff or something like that, but it worked great in this iteration.

canned beef stock and canned ground beef

canned beef stock and canned ground beef

When the beef came out, it had this perfect fat cap layer that I was able to just scoop out of the pan and throw away.  I wish I thought to snap a picture of the finished soup because I think it all turned out quite pretty.  I put in black beans, canned corn, canned tomatoes, and some taco seasoning.  When I dished it up, I garnished it with shredded cheese and sour cream and ate it with tortilla chips.  Totally great soup.  And, because I used our beef stock, we get the added benefit of the natural gelatin that is so good for joints and overall wellness.  Go us!

I’ve been eating our chicken eggs with abandon, frying up a couple for dinner when I don’t feel like actually making a main meal.  Of course, since we are trying to be better about eating out, that whole “meal planning” thing would probably come in quite handy.  Still need to look into that.

We took Benny for a walk the other night.  It was a very stilted affair, he definitely needs work.  It makes sense, because we’ve only tried to walk him maybe twice now in his 10 months of life, so nothing will be perfect.  Definitely need to work on that.  Still kicking around the idea of only having one dog.  Velvet may have a coworker for the other one, we’ll see how that pans out.  I think Benny might miss Luca at first but would *probably* grow to be ok with being the only dog in the house.  Anyone have experience with that, removing a dog from the household?  How did your remaining dog react?  Our Jojo kitty would probably be very happy about it.  She’d be ecstatic if we got rid of both dogs.

I’m thinking on my days off from work I should be more hands-on with Ezra.  Like, maybe schedule a definite time for things.  10-11am, coloring.  11am-12pm, reading.  Something along those lines.  Of course, I really like my non-scheduled days off because of their flexibility.

Potty training with Ezra is coming along.  He’s really very good when he doesn’t have on any bottoms, and he absolutely hates to poo in a diaper anymore and always tells us when he needs to do that business, but he WILL NOT tell us when he has to pee.  Just goes in the diaper and calls it a day.  Maybe if we put him in underwear and he gets wet a couple times it will start to bother him enough to make the effort.  Of course, then I’ll have to clean up pee puddles around the house…. Ideas are welcome!

Homemade marshmallows

I am not a huge fan of marshmallows.  They are chewy and usually pretty bland and typically I only enjoy them in s’mores (and really it’s the chocolate that carries that treat), but I saw a maple/bacon marshmallow on Etsy that looked pretty good so I decided to do some investigating.  What I found was shocking: making homemade marshmallows is super easy.

I watched a few YouTube videos and then hunted down a recipe. Eventually I would like to find a recipe that doesn’t use corn syrup, but until then I think I’ll stick with this Alton Brown recipe.

gelatin and water

gelatin and water

water, granulated sugar, corn syrup, and salt

water, granulated sugar, corn syrup, and salt

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all set up the next morning

all set up the next morning

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finished marshmallows

finished marshmallows

073

The end result was pretty tasty.  Granted, these are a basic vanilla flavor, but I liked the texture and they didn’t seem as weirdly waxy as some of the store bought can get.  There are no added preservatives so they should be used up within a couple weeks.  One of the recipes I saw called for a little bit of peppermint extract for holiday-themed treats.  Might make for some nice homemade gifts around the end of the year.

We buy bananas pretty frequently but usually we have a couple that are browning before we get around to eating them, so I just throw them in the freezer to use in banana bread later.  While I like banana bread, I like banana muffins better.  Ezra helped me make some a couple weeks ago and they turned out very well!  Here is the recipe I used.

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One of Velvet’s friends has a dessert food blog and made some buckeye treats.  Velvet was talking about them so I decided to make some myself, only I didn’t care enough to make them actually look like buckeye nuts, so I coated the entire peanut butter ball in chocolate.  I also swapped out the shortening for coconut oil and it was a great substitute.

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On the home front, we’re still trying to decide if we are going to continue with the rabbits.  A part of me really wants to, but the majority of me is lazy and thinking they aren’t worth the hassle.  I told Jesse we should keep them through the growing season where we can feed them more garden scraps to cut back on the pellet feed food costs, but the rabbits in the freezer just aren’t a go-to protein for us.  I have, however, seen a number of YouTube videos making fried rabbit very similar to fried chicken, so most likely I just haven’t tried them with enough variety.

One of my coworkers gave us a bunch of small, cleaned fish, so I think we’ll be trying them out tomorrow for dinner.  Jesse didn’t seem to enthused about it, but I will try most anything once.

Our chicken are ramping up egg production so many days we get between five to the full seven.  Our smaller chicks won’t start producing until around the end of summer.

We’re still trying to figure out what to do with our garden this year which isn’t really a good thing because I think we should have started planting already.  But, Jesse still has a few more weeks of school and then after that the garden will probably really get going.

I decided I needed more activity in my sedentary days, so a couple of us at work put together a 10k challenge – 10,000 steps, that is.  Every day from 4/14/14 until 7/31/14 we are going to commit to walking 10k steps.  That is roughly five miles a day, and the steps count from when you wake up until when you go to bed.

To that end, I bought a Fitbit Flex tracker and got it last Wednesday.  I’m glad I got it earlier than the challenge started because I wanted to have a baseline for what my days are normally.  Yeah…apparently normal for me is about 5,000 steps a day, if not less, and the average is about 3,000 to 5,000 for most people.  So I am really going to have to push it to get to 10k a day.  The last couple days I have been doing a two-mile walking video by Leslie Sansone, and that usually gets me to around 9,000+, but never yet to that elusive 10,000.  I told my challenge partners that it’ll probably take me a couple weeks before I will be able to consistently hit 10k a day.  Also, it seems like the Fitbit doesn’t count steps very well when the exercise involves a lot of random arm movement, so after I do the two miles I usually manually log the distance in order to get a more correct step count.  It’s not a perfect science but I like the tracker well enough.

Ever since we placed Ezra’s mattress on the floor and dismantled the crib, there is almost no getting this kid to take a nap.  He has free access to all his books and toys now, so nap time is basically kid-locked-in-his-room time while mama tries to get stuff done.  Speaking of, I’m off to put him back to bed once again.

The mouse in the diapers

Folding diapers a couple nights ago, I picked up a diaper and shook it out.  What appeared to be a piece of bark or a large moth flung backward and landed on my shirt.  I’m not huge on insects and the cats have been known to bring in moths, so I was on the verge of freaking out.  A quick look down proved it was not tree bark or a moth, but actually a live mouse.  I commenced flinging my shirt out and flipped the mouse back onto the ground, where Jesse nabbed it and took it outside.  I *almost* panicked there for a moment.  Jesse said he saw Jojo pawing at the diaper pile earlier but then lost interest, so he figured she was just having fun in the diapers.  Dang cats.

A few weeks ago, I bought a bushel of apples and a bushel of pears.  The pears were finally ripe enough to use, so I ran them through the food saucer and started simmering them on the stove to reduce their liquid.  This should not suggest it was an easy process.  The pears were very juicy and my pot was not huge, so I had to keep waiting for the sauce to reduce in volume before I could add more pear mixture.  This whole process took many hours, but I was super excited for the end result so it was worth it.  I had just put the last batch of milled pears into the pot when it was time to leave for my birthday dinner (sushi!) so I put a lid on the pot and turned off the burner.

After we got home the mix was still hot, so I turned the burner back on to get it back up to simmering.  Pretty soon Mom mentioned there was a burned smell to the air, but some pears had splashed out earlier, so I wasn’t worried, just thought they were burning off.  Big mistake!  I had turned up the burner too high and had scortched the entire bottom of the pan, and if you’ve cooked often you’ll know that scortched flavor permeates every particle of the mix.  I was so pissed at myself for making such a rookie mistake!  And the killer is, that pear sauce was delicious under the scortched flavor!  Jesse chided me that I shouldn’t have tried to reduce it more, and that I should have just canned it like it was because we could have used it in smoothies…  *sigh*  Lesson learned, but still, that was probably almost 8 hours of work, literally down the drain.

The next day I made more marinara sauce because I am a glutton for punishment.  Ezra loves to help when he sees me get the food mill out, but usually he can’t quite turn the handle all the way around so this time I hit upon the idea of having him help me smoosh the tomatoes.

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While Mom and Jim were here we went to Gardner Village.  It’s this little boutique-type area, and they have these witches posted all around the shopping area.  There was a scavenger hunt to find certain witches, and you could take in the results to this bakery and get a cookie at $.35 instead of $.90!  I have to say, it was not really our thing.  I mean, I like Halloween but I don’t shop at boutiques and the $.55 is not a great incentive to come on down!  I’m glad we went so we could see what all the hubbub is about.  I hear they do something for the Christmas holiday as well.  Here are some photos of the witches we found:

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Ezra, ever the gentleman as we walked around

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While mom and Jim were here, we celebrated the October birthdays:

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new rabbit setup under the deck

new rabbit setup under the deck

I’m feeling less and less like our doe is going to kindle.  I put in a nesting box and filled it with hay, but she just seems like she’s eating all the hay and not really interested in the nesting aspect.  Of course, maybe I’ll go out there and be surprised.  But if after another five days there are no babies, she’s getting bred again.

I saw this image not too long ago:

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This is so valid!  Our hens are laying more than we can eat, so I’ve been selling some to my sister, and will try to sell some to my coworkers.  A part of me thinks that $3/dozen is high, and my mom sure gave me grief that I was charging my sister *anything*, let alone $3/dozen, and sure you can buy crappy factory-farmed eggs for much less, but the nutrient quality is so much higher with pastured hens.  You can read more on the subject here and here and here.

My point is, as a people, we’re willing to pay for a cup of coffee and not think twice, but we think we’re being held up when it comes to eggs or other farmed items.  It’s a weird mindset.

On completely other and perhaps TMI news, Ezra peed in the toilet for the first time!  I praised the heck out of him and he thought that was great, but then didn’t give me a repeat performance.  Perhaps this will be the beginning of potty training.  I definitely don’t want to pressure him, so I suppose we’ll just have to keep a weather eye for signs.