Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hippie Kid

This post isn't really going to be about James' need of a haircut or the 'soul patch' of hot chocolate mix on his chin.  I just thought it was fun picture to go with an Over Worked, Underpaid sort of post. 

*Meetings: Parents required to attend meetings regarding soccer and theatre.  Falls right during dinner time.  Do I feed them before or after meeting?

* Soccer practice: 6-7:30.  Again, do I feed them before or after.

* Grades: We have this thing called Skyward that allows us to track our children's grades down to the moment.  Good thing/bad thing.  Good because we can discuss falling grades before they get too far down. Bad because we can discuss falling grades before they get too far down.  Depends on which side of the discussion you are. Motivating without threatening is a fine line to walk.  When to step fully onto the threatening side?? 

*Another death at church: A shock. Unexpected. One of our patriarchs.  We are a tiny congregation of about 70 on a good Sunday.  We are family.  He went in for knee replacement and died of a heart attack in recovery.  In the last 2.5 years, we have lost 4 folks that attended/participated in amazing ways.  Members of our church have also lost parents.  Seven parents.  We keep going to funerals and saying, "Okay, lets be done with this for awhile. No one else can get sick or die." I know that we all reach a certain age and funerals become a part of the landscape, but.......well, just but!  

*Remodeling: Our church is taking on a huge remodeling project.  It is being taken more seriously than a remodel, as it should with a church project.  We have to answer questions about why we're really doing this and for whom.  We're having committees and meetings and committees and meetings and mailings and scriptures and food and more food.  I am in charge of the food part.  I love food, I love to provide food for others.  It's just that there's a lot of it needed.  Last night I had a meltdown and wondered why folks can't make their own darn PB&J's for a lunch meeting.  I'll get over it.  It's a new day.

*The economy: What can I say.  I really don't understand the finer points of what is happening.  I'm just glad Lee does.  I'm praying that everyone will be okay.

*Pain: Day 3 of a headache from hades.  It's because I forgot that I'm 40 something and spending the weekend with your neck bent upwards and your arm over your head is going to cause pain.  I gave the chicken coop a fresh coat of paint and a general clean up.  I hate that what didn't used to phase me, now causes me to seek out Advil in great numbers.

* Clocks: This one will fill you in on my state of mind.  I now have two clocks in my office.  Lee got one as a present from a co-worker.  Really, really doesn't match our decor' in any way.  It's beautiful, just not us.  It ended up in my office.  The two clocks do not tick at the same time. He might get the clock back in his home office. It can be ugly in his office.  It's his gift after all. :)

The end.  Tomorrow will be embarrassing pictures of my molting chickens.  One in particular always looks as though she's been in one of those automated chicken pluckers.  

Friday, September 26, 2008

What's Wrong With This Picture?-Part II

I am not kidding!  Can you see this?  I guess this is just a problem similar to dirty dishes sitting above the dishwasher or dirty clothes sitting on the floor by the hamper.  That little woven/wooden thing below the t.p. holder is a waste basket. There sits the cardboard tube from the roll in the previous post on this matter.

You know what, I'm going to let this go.  I'm going to see how many cardboard tubes end up on the counter.  The toilet paper fairy will not be visiting this bathroom.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

It's What's For Dinner

I don't really have a name for this dish. When someone in my house asks what's for dinner, I just say, "That sausage, potato, green bean, oven thing". Very uptown, don't you think?
Just as a disclaimer, there are two steps to this dish that you can leave out if you want( I'll point them out ). The whole idea is that this be as easy and quick as possible.

That Sausage, Potato, Green Bean, Oven Thing

What you'll need:
1/3 lb. (per person) smoked sausage
1 potato (per person)
1/4 lb. (per person) fresh green beans
1/2 to 1 yellow onion depending on your taste
olive oil, salt and pepper
9 x13 cookie sheet or larger

Preheat oven to 425*

Here's a step that can be left out. Even though the sausage is already cooked, I boil mine for a bit to leach out some of the excess fat. If you use a leaner kind of sausage than I do, or don't care about the fat, then just chop it into bite sized pieces and set it aside. (The yellow thing in the pot is just a reflection. Some have asked if it's an egg yolk.)

Here's the second thing that can be left out. I blanch my green beans for 5 minutes. If you put them straight in the oven with the other things, they tend to get tough. Again, if that doesn't matter to you, then pop off the ends and set them aside.

If you've chosen the blanch method, be sure to put them in ice water after the blanch. This stops the cooking and helps them retain that pretty green color. I leave them in this water until I'm ready to assemble the dish.

Cut potatoes into bite size pieces.

Same thing with the onion

Same time, same channel for the sausage (boiled or unboiled)

Place sausage, onion, and potatoes in the pan of your choice. The shorter the sides of the pan, the browner you'll be able to get the potatoes. Toss all this with a bit of olive oil to keep it from sticking. Salt and pepper to taste. Bake for 40 minutes, stir once during that time.
You'll notice there are no green beans in the pan. I don't add those until the last 10 minutes. Otherwise, their moisture will keep the potatoes from browning.
I'm going to admit that this pan is too crowded and the sides are too high. If you don't care about brown potatoes (my kids do), then don't worry so much about pan size and height.

At the 30 minute mark, drain the green beans .

Add the green beans and stir again, so they'll be coated in the olive oil also.
Bake another 10 minutes and voila', dinner is served.

This dish isn't really all that involved. I started out just chopping up the ingredients, and tossing them in a pan with the olive oil. Then kids started fussing about potatoes that weren't brown and the grown ups started worrying about their waistlines and cholesterol levels. It can be assembled and tossed in the oven for 40-45 minutes--never stirred, never checked on. It still turns out really yummy.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Jury Rigging

Jury Rigging refers to makeshift repairs or temporary contrivances, made only with the tools and materials that happen to be on hand.  Originally a nautical term, on sailing ships a jury rig is a replacement mast and yards improvised in case of damage or loss of the original mast~wikipedia

And all this time I thought it originally meant paying off a jury member to vote one way or another during a trial.  I also knew it was a slang word for fixing stuff with duct tape, baling wire and zip ties.  In other words, faking it.

Below, you see my jury rigged attempt to keep the House Sparrows out of my chicken food until I can come up with something different.  Yes, I see the irony in using a bird cage to do the job.  I'd like to gather the little buggers up in the cage and take them 20 miles away to a new home.
Most chicken coops have a wooden door that has a sort of 'doggy door' at the base. The people use the big door, and the chickens use the little door.  The big door stays closed and keeps the majority of wild birds out of the coop.  My entire coop is a jury rigged 6 x 10 dog run.  I lined the entire thing with hardware cloth, and then put a roof on it.  There are also wooden panels on two sides to keep the wind and rain from the north, off the birds.  They are held in place with bolts and wingnuts. The boards, not the birds-silly. Yes, the whole thing looks like a set piece from the Beverly Hillbillies, but I haven't lost a bird to a predator yet. That hardware cloth makes it Fort Knox at night.  

I would love to put a 'chicken door' in the door of my coop, but it is made of welded steel. Not gonna happen.  

This will be my next try.  Ignore the cheesy guy standing in the doorway with goodies for his BBQ.  He's the model for the ad for the product I want.  Besides, real men don't wear aprons, they BBQ in their wife beaters.  I digress
The product is a widget made out of screen that has a split in the middle and overlaps.  I know I could probably make one, but this one is already made to perfectly fit my coop doorway.  It has a top and a bottom that are sewn already, and it has a magnet situation at the bottom that causes it to 'close' automatically.
Yes, I know that some sparrows might get in and out.  Hopefully, not all 30 or so that I have counted.  The trick will be convincing the chickens that this bit of jury rigging won't kill them.  Whenever I introduced something new to the coop, they all sit around and discuss it for hours.  You'd think I was putting cobras in the pen the way they carry on.  
Bug Off for doorway
I'll let you know how it turns out.  My next move is a sparrow trap.  They might just all get to move 20 miles away anyway.   They are considered a introduced, invasive species by all government agencies who care.  I could drown the critters if I wanted to, but I don't.  I just don't want to feed them very expensive chicken food anymore.

Monday, September 22, 2008

What's Wrong With This Picture?

You know, I have searched and search online, and in the "How to be the Perfect Woman to all Family Members" handbook and I cannot locate where it says
Moms must always be the one to replace the toilet paper roll.

I've blogged on this before, and assured my family that no such fairy exists.  Maybe they think I'm lying.

The roll that is being used in the picture above, isn't new.  It was obvious to me, when I went in, that it had been used by multiple perpetrators---probably more than once!  

What is it?  Is the spring action of the TP holder just too complex for all but the mom brain?  Is it frightening?  Is is just too darn much work when you're in a hurry?  Is everybody in a hurry but me?  I tend to think that folks (in my family, anyway) really just don't care.  Do you think if I got one of those trendy holders that is just a bent piece of metal with one end open for TP replacement, that my family would be more willing to replace the roll?

If you have somehow managed to raise a household full of TP changers, please let me know your secret.  

Goodness knows I must be the only blogger with two labels regarding toilet paper! Well, I'm off to change the roll.  Have a good day.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

One Step Behind

I am an amateur gardener with just one wish; to grow a few of my own fruits and veggies.  Here in Texas, two things work against the fulfillment of that wish---extreme temperature variations and insects.  We also have seasonal issues with wind.  

Here, I've managed to outwit both wind and temperature by weaving a cloth-like tree wrap through the garden fence.  It holds up to any wind and provides shade for my growing green beans.
I just used a stapler to attach it firmly at either end.  

Just when I get one problem managed, I discover another.  If you look closely at the picture, you'll see tiny, white specks on the flower next to the bee.  No, he doesn't have dandruff.  I wish it were that easy.  My garden has a terrible case of Whiteflies.  They are barely bigger than a speck of dust, and fairly harmless as adults.  It's their larvae that are devastating.  They like tomatoes, lettuces, beans, melons, cucumbers and members of the broccoli family.  Great, what am I growing in my fall garden: Green Beans, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, Collards, and several types of Lettuce.  
I headed to my Rodale's Vegetable Garden Problem Solver.  It says not to let them get out of hand.  Too late for that.  One day they weren't there, the next day they were everywhere.  Anyway, I hit them with a bit of soapy water last night.  We'll see what come next.  
Wish me luck.  I'd hate to lose a whole growing season to a bunch of microscopic flies!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Three Guesses

1. I finally caught all the English House Sparrows that are devouring the chicken food and pooping all over everything, then had a "Fargo" moment.

2. Lee finally had enough of being awakened at 6am and blew up the our rooster with a leftover sleeve of Blackcat firecrackers.

3. My chickens are molting like crazy and aren't laying any eggs at all.  It always looks like someone ran over a chicken with a lawnmower once the molt begins. 
Note the perfectly trimmed grass line outside the chicken run.  You can tell just how long their necks are, by how far out the grass is eaten.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Last Minute Shopping

Sunset in the Cosmos flowers
Honeybee and crab spider.
Honeybee and Whiteflies (arrrggghhh!)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Don't Stop 'Til You Drop

This wee person is 14 years old today!  Well, not officially until 3:02 this afternoon.
She has been busy since she was born---3 weeks early.  These are two pictures, about 8 months apart, where it's obvious that she couldn't be bothered with horizontal sleeping.  She was just plain tuckered out and gave up, right where she was standing. She'd just lock up one knee like a horse, and take a nap.  
I have to share the story of how she got her name, Pearl, because it's so unusual in this day and age.  Lee and I tossed names around for months.  It came down to two, very southern names.  Georgia and Pearl.  I fought tooth and nail against Pearl for several reasons.  It was too old fashioned.  My granny's name was Pearl, and she was one mean old woman. It was too old fashioned.  She'd get made fun of at school. Did I mention that it was too old fashioned? 
Lee said that if the baby was a girl (we didn't find out ahead of time), that he knew she'd be small and precious--like a pearl.  Goodness, I was glad he didn't like the name  Ruby!  Still, her name was not going to be Pearl.  Maybe, maybe, maybe as a middle name.  Maybe not!

In my 9th month, I was headed to the OB for a weekly checkup.  I had my dear MIL along.  As we rounded a corner to head up a long hill, we heard a huge 'explosion' in the rear of the car.  I had no brakes!!  I headed up the hill and my driver's education kicked in like ObiWan Kenobi--"Use the parking break, CeeCee".  When I topped the hill, I turned onto a side street and pulled the car to the curb.  I got my big, old pregnant body out of the car and started walking for the nearest house. This was before cell phones.  We were in the middle of University of Texas housing and some poor frat boy stumbled to the door.  I asked for the phone.  He pointed at it and laid back down on the couch. I called a tow service and was asked the address.  The poor frat boy was rousted again--"What's the address here?" "Four Twenty-One Pearl Street". NO WAY, not it a million billion years could the street be named Pearl street!!! 
You guessed it, I gave in.  Her middle name is Pearl.  It was meant to be.  It fits her, too.

And so, HAPPY BIRTHDAY Pearl!! You are no longer small, but you are still precious to us and always will be.  Dad and I are so proud of the young lady you are becoming.  You are smart, beautiful, and have an enormous heart.  You bring light to any room you enter.  You are going places.  Places you haven't even dreamed of yet.  We love you! 

It's Time You Knew

It's time you knew, since it tends to confuse folks that know me.  The names of my friends and family in this blog are their middle names.  Several of them, in the beginning, asked that I keep their real names out of it.  I respected that.
Heck, Ree hasn't been able to keep the names of her family private, despite all her best attempts.  I just worried that one day I'd be as blog-famous as she is and I might need to keep everyone's name a secret.  

Hey, stop laughing, it could happen!  My name, CeeCee is a combination of my first and last initials.  I've always (for 20 married years anyway) secretly wished folks would call me that.  As a child I always hated my name, because it was the same as my mother's.  When I went away to school, she started calling me by my other name, to avoid confusion.  I hated that too, because I was named after a hurricane.

Geez, talk about needing therapy! Named after a hurricane and your mother.  
And so, like Ree, I'll divulge my real name, but continue to use my nickname----that I love because I made it up all by my big-girl self.  The name that everyone knows me by is, Carla.  Hurricane Carla.  It fits me quite often.  Just ask my long-suffering hubby. :) 

Here's the rest of the crew:
Lee is really Eric
Tom is really Preston
Pearl is really Jenna
James is really Quinn

Nice to meet you.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Okay, this is a preemptive warning to all those that are a teeny bit freaked out by bugs.  The bug below is the King of creepy.  The Sultan of goosebumps.  The Grand Poobah of nightmares.  The CEO of scream out loud.  The.....you get the picture. 

His black, segmented body can reach 8 inches long. He has been  found in Arkansas, southern Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona and far northern Mexico. He has 21 pairs of legs.  The final two at the back of his body, while fearsome looking, are not "teeth" as some would believe. His yellow antennae are in constant movement looking for prey.  

Yes, they are predators.  They eat things like crickets and scorpions and roaches, but I still don't want one in or near the house.  They deliver a most painful bite and venom to go with it.  They won't kill you, but just the thought of it make me wish for a snake bite instead.

So, why is this post entitled, "Bubbles".  Let me tell you!  One morning I was making my coffee and my daughter, Pearl, came down with one of these monsters in one of those disposable food containers.  Mind you, it was only 2 inches long, but still!  "I named him Bubbles, because I found him the bathtub last night when I was getting ready for bed." "He was a little afraid at first, so it took me a while to catch him." "Why didn't you just squish him--scorpions and centipedes don't get rescued, they get squished.  That's the rule!" "Because." "Hey, do you think he would eat a grasshopper if I caught one?" "You are not keeping that thing as a pet!" (as she walks out to catch a grasshopper)

It was so much like a sound effect from a horror movie when he ate the poor grasshopper! Crunch, crunch, crunch.  Lucky for me, Mr. Red Headed Centipede ate only one hopper and then went on a hunger strike to protest his captivity.  Two days later, my kind hearted daughter let him go----a long way from the house.
"Mom, how do you suppose it got in the house?  Since it's a baby, do you think there are more?"
Thanks Pearl, thanks a lot.  I didn't even think of that.

Here's your warning.  The picture is not one I took.  We tried to get pictures of Mr. Red Headed Centipede, but he wouldn't sit still.  Maybe he was on the lamb from the law or something?

Scolopendra heros adultfemale with eggs

Monday, September 15, 2008

How to Juice A Pomegranate

Several days ago I posted about harvesting this years pomegranates.  I had no idea what to do with them, as seeding them can be a major pain in the backside.  The seeds are pretty in salads but, honestly, I don't really care for the flavor. Tart, earthy, fruity and just a hint of sweetness at the very end.  Sounds like a description of a $100 bottle of wine.
The trouble is, they are crazy good for you.  I couldn't waste free health food!

While on a trip to my favorite plant nursery for my fall seedlings (another post), I mentioned my pomegranate dilemma to someone there.  His reply was, "Why don't you just juice them?"  Well duh!  Why didn't I think of that?  I guess I just figured it wouldn't work with my little old fashioned juicer.  It did, surprise!  Here's the skinny on how to do it.

First and foremost, wear an apron or your old paint shirt, cuz you're gonna get covered in tiny drops of antioxidants.
Cut it in half and place one half on the juicer.  Squeeze gently.  Don't attempt the "twist and turn" method you'd use with citrus, until you've squeezed out about half the bulk of the pom.
You'll know you're done when you've got nothing put white seed pulp on the halves and on top the juicer.
Poor the juice through a strainer into a clean container with a lid.
That's all there is to it.  I got a pint of juice from 3 medium size pomegranates and some nice goodies for the compost bin.

The question remains: what to do with the stuff?  You can add it to any of your favorite beverages.  The man at Natural Gardener said he adds it to seltzer water with a little sugar and he's got a nice Italian soda.   Be sure to use seltzer and not tonic/club soda or mineral water.  Those three have too much sodium and minerals to make taste good.  Just my opinion.

Friday, September 12, 2008

I Hate It When They're Cute

Please remember to click on this picture to get the full cuteness effect.  
English Sparrows are the bane of my birdy existence.  They are prolific poopers, prolific breeders, known song bird killers, disease carriers and can eat their weight in chicken food every day.  
Okay, that last one is just my imagination, but I believe they eat as much chicken food as the chickens.  Really.  I've tried everything to keep them out of the chicken coop, but they're smart little buggers.  They also make it nearly impossible for the songbirds to get near my bird feeders.  The poor titmice and chickadees have to elbow their way in.  The cardinals manage to hold their own.  
All that is why this picture pains me.  The sprinkler system was going this morning and I looked out to see this pretty little scene behind my pool.  Two pairs of the darn flying rats, enjoying a moment at Spa CeeCee.  Oh well, at least it means that there are four fewer sparrows eating chicken food at the moment.   

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Look what I got from SugarCreekStuff!  Please be sure to visit her site, because I love her blog too.  She's an artist, a mom, and a self-proclaimed penny pincher.  You ought to see what she does with every day garage sale finds.

I visit many blogs, and so picking just 6 will be hard.  
1. Lisa, over at Laughing Orca Ranch is a homeschooling mom to 3 kids.  She lives in New Mexico, has all the animals I wish I had.  She also has another blog devoted to her kids. I've decided that she and I often live in parallel universes, for the things we have in common.

2. Danni, over at On the Way to Critter Farm, needs to change the name of her blog.  She's officially reached Critter-ness.  She has achieved the small, family farm that she'd dreamed of.  She also is a foster home for donkeys. She makes you want donks!

3. Kelly and Meg over at Future Farm House are a young couple doing their best to make a difference on the planet.  I love their description of themselves, so I'm stealing it---"Vegetables, environmental politics, DIY projects, beer and chicken stories feature prominently, along with book reviews and cooking experiments."

4. Tia, over at Health Food Made Easy makes navigating the world of "will make you thin, will make you live forever, will make you look younger, will make you feel younger, will turn your hair red, will grow hair on your head.... " claims, a little easier paddle through.  She gives easy to understand information on things that are good for you, and debunks the myths that are running rampant in foodie advertising these days.

5. I think you all probably know about Ree over at Confessions of a Pioneer Woman.  I can say that she was the first blog I ever read. I read her back before she was internet-famous.  Back when she might get 10 or 15 comments a day.  Aside from being very gifted and funny, she showed me that blogging could be a great creative outlet.

6. Last, but certainly not least, is Vonda, at Little Egg Farm.  She's a mom, a grandma, a wife and runs a farm in Oregon.  She sees beauty all around her, and shares it with everyone.  Her photos are delightful---make you feel like you are right there.  Her storytelling draws you right to where she is and what she's doing.  I notice she's already gotten this award, so she gets a pass on giving it out 6 more times.

Will He or Won't He?

The new afternoon advisory from the National Hurricane Center is in and the forecast is still looking bad for the middle Texas coast.  The new Hurricane Center track  calls for Ike to move inland along the middle coast, but a little further north compared to this morning's forecast.  This point of landfall is expected to be near San Antonio Bay, or about half way between Corpus Christi and Matagorda.  This track places the Lower Colorado River on the dangerous right-front side of the hurricane, the region with very high winds, extremely heavy rain and tornadoes.  In addition, most of today's forecast solutions, including the official track from the Hurricane Center, now call for Ike to turn north once it moves inland.  The core of the weakening hurricane is forecast to track into Central Texas Saturday night, reaching a position west of the Dallas/Fort Worth area Sunday afternoon.   On this projected path, tropical storm force to near hurricane force winds along with very heavy rains will be possible over much of Central Texas and the eastern Hill Country late Saturday and Saturday night. (from Bob Rose's blog, Meteorologist-Lower Colorado River Authority)

We shall see.  I'm trying to figure out what plants to try to protect, how to make sure the trampoline doesn't flip and where to put the chickens if the winds pick up.  As with most hurricane forecasts, anything could happen between today and Saturday.

Update as of Thursday, September 11th: It looks as though Central Texas will be spared the brunt of the storm.  It has moved more toward Houston and Lousiana.  That means that Austin will not be on the eastern edge of the incoming winds.  We will still get rain, but not the 50-70 mph sustained winds that we were expecting.  Pray for those still in its path.

Ike Projected Path

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Sooo, Whatcha Eatin'?

Our dogs are master beggars.  They don't beg at the table, but can hear the pantry door or the fridge door open from anywhere in the house.  In fact, they believe that the only reason we open the pantry door is to get dog treats for them.  They have us well trained.

On the other hand, our cat, Lucky is wwaaaayyyy too cool for begging.  He has a very special relationship with Pearl, but he's never stooped to beg from her.  He will occasionally sit by the pantry door with the dogs and wait for a cat treat.  His attitude is "well, as long as you're in there...".  

A few days ago, Pearl made herself a frozen dinner (Lee was out of town, I don't cook much when he's out of town).  It was Roasted Rosemary Chicken with whole grains, veggies, and sticks in a delicate garlic rosemary butter reduction.  I'm kidding, but it had some high brow name that is supposed to make you believe you aren't eating a frozen dinner.  I digress.

Our uppity cat found the smell of said dinner too much to resist.  He got down off his throne, yawned, stretched and hopped up in Pearl's lap.  He laid there, and lost his cool.  He was nearly drooling.  I ran for the camera and he suddenly came to his senses.  I was only able to get one shot before he took on the air of, "I only came over here because I was chilly.  I wouldn't eat any of her nasty frozen chicken if it were the last meal on earth."  

I did observe that he stayed put just in case any of her nasty chicken happened to fall off her fork.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Not a Good Day for Flying

Just about every year since living in this house (8 years), I have come upon a creature I've never seen before.  It's not that I wasn't looking when I lived in suburbia; I think it was because of all the pesticide use for the perfect yard and beds in my old neighborhood.

This year the find was a hatch of about 20 neon yellow caterpillars with racing stripes.  They are Cloudless Sulphur butterfly cats. This pic was taken on August 28th.  Judging by their size, it seemed as though it wouldn't be long until the chrysalis stage.
That was the Thursday just prior to Labor day and I forgot about them.  When I went back out on September 2nd, this is what I found.  I wasn't sure how long they'd been this way, so I had no idea when to expect a hatch.
Again, another weekend had me doing other things and I forgot about them.  This morning as I wandered up the driveway for the paper, it began to spit rain (which is all it did, btw.).  I walked by the tree the chrysalis' were in and made a note to take a look when it got light out.  
It was a good thing I remembered them. If I'd have waited one more day, I'd have missed them.  It was still very damp, but the tree was covered with butterfly ornaments.  All in varying stages of drying their wings.  

According to my search on the matter, this is a male Cloudless.  If you click on the picture, you will see a couple non-descript white spots on the wing.  If this were a female, the spots would be much larger and ringed with a copper color.  Another bit of useless trivia unless you are an entomologist. 

Sunday, September 7, 2008

No! Not Clogs!

I was over at Laughing Orca Ranch and Lisa was telling us all about what sort of shoe she'd be, if she were a shoe.  I love these tests!  They're so silly, but so telling.  
I decided to take the test and ended up being clogs!  Clogs are so 70's!  I had a pair.  I was one stylin' preteen.  I don't want to be clogs.  Now, I think of them as useful shoes, shoes for people older than me. I wanna be flip flops! Maybe I'll go back and take the test and lie on the answers until I can be flip flops or barefoot or slippers.  Just not clogs.
What's a real killer, is that the description of me is right on the money. Just ask my kids or my hubby, I am the queen of contradiction.  I, however, have no need to live in Europe, whatsoever.  

Okay, so now that I've had my drama.  You take the test and let me know what shoe you are. Please, please, let someone else be clogs, too!

You Are Clogs
You are a solid and down to earth person.
You seek – and almost always achieve – a really sound balance in your life.

You are stylish yet comfortable. Mellow but driven. Excited yet calm.
You are the perfect mesh of contradictions.

No matter what happens, you have the ability to stay well grounded in your life.
People know that they can truly depend on you.

You should live: In Europe

You should work: At a company dedicated to helping the world

Friday, September 5, 2008

Double Digits

Happy Birthday, James!

Happy Birthday my littlest dude!  I can't believe you are double digits!  Ten years ago this morning you were born.  You were born just after 9am on September 5th. 
The nurses all thought it was great fun that I was in labor on Labor Day.  I didn't think it was as funny as they did.  You didn't make a sound like most babies do when they are born.  You just laid in dad's arms and looked around.  It worried him, but I thought maybe you were just saving up the crying for when we got home. You surprised me by being a great baby.  You only cried when you needed something.  You're still a great baby, only you aren't a baby anymore. :)
Dad and I are very proud of the young man you are growing up to be.  You get along with everyone, you are smart, and still pretty laid back--just like the day you were born.
Happy Birthday Boo-Boo.  

James playin' the blues on his guitar.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Cue Stevie Wonder

"Isn't she lovely, isn't she wonderful..."
This romanesque beauty is a Gulf Coast Toad.  I know it's a 'she' because it lacks a yellow-green patch on its sizable throat.  Also, females tend to be larger than males.
You can see in this picture that she has size and then some.  She and her boyfriend, who lives under a nearby rock, are the reason I don't kill my slugs and snails with snail bait.   The Decollate snails have one bed under control.  She and her sweetie are working hard to bring my other garden bed under control.  

Many people wonder how they can get so large.  It would seem that dogs and cats and snakes and small children would all but kill them off.  They have a weapon--poison!  You can't see them, but she has one large spot behind each eye.  There sits the paratoid gland, just waiting to be used.  They secrete the poison when any would be attacker picks them up.  In very extreme cases, it can cause death in pets. Mostly, it just causes foaming at the mouth and vomiting by idiot dogs who continue to hassle said toads.  In humans, I think your chances of getting peed on are far better than getting poisoned.  In either case, I just wash my hands.  

Yet another thing to add to "stuff is just bigger in Texas!"  She's useful, handsome and can take care of herself.  

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Beautiful Powerhouse

We got our largest number of pomegranates this year.  All the weather gods aligned and we harvested 22 poms off our tiny little tree.  
Pomegranate juice seems to be all the rage in nutritional circles right now.  I wondered if it really pulls its weight.  Of course, I had to spend time with Uncle Google and found this informative and very cool website.  It turns out all they say is true.

What I can't figure out is why the stuff costs so much.  My tree is totally neglected as garden plants go.  No extra water or nutrients.  Every pomegranate for itself. Still, it produced with ease.  They took about as long as an apple from blossom to harvest. By comparison, my Meyer lemons are still green.  We can be pretty positive that the juice companies do not pull all the seeds from the fruit before they juice them. If you've ever seeded a pomegranate (that's the part you eat, btw), you know it takes forever.  I'd imagine they throw the whole works in a bin and squish it.  We can be sure the margins on juice are high.

I'm adding a recipe, because it looked yummy.  I'll let you know how it turns out.
I love ginger!

Pomegranate Ginger Muffins
2 c. flour
2/3 c. sugar
1 T. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/3 c. minced crystallized ginger
1 t. lemon peel
1 and 1/4 c. pomegranate seeds
1 c. milk
1 large egg
1/4 c. canola oil
Preheat oven to 425*
Mix all dry ingredients together.  Add ginger, seeds, and lemon peel to dry ingredients. 
In another bowl, mix the wet ingredients together well.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until they are mixed together.  The batter will be lumpy.  Over mixing will cause the muffins to be 'tough'
Spoon batter into 12 (2 1/2 inch wide) muffin cups or 24 (1 3/4 inch wide) muffin cups.  Fill each one, almost to the rim.  Sprinkle tops with sugar for a nice crunchy top
Bake until lightly brown---16 minutes for large muffins, 13 minutes for small muffins.
Remove muffins from pans right away and cool on rack.

Two Signs of Fall

Well, I'm feeling much better today thanks to uplifting words from many of you and my sister.  Thank you so much for your support.  It's funny that the internet can spread such venom and lies, but it can also be a port in a storm---a port full of complete strangers.  Thanks again. :)

Fall is coming!  I can feel it in the air this morning and I'm thrilled.  The wind is coming from the North for the first time in months.  
The two main signs of impending weather change, whether the temperature supports it or not are: acorns on the oak trees and moulting chickens. 
I wish I believed in  the old time weather predictor of  "lots of acorns means a harsh winter."  In the nearly 20 years I've lived in Texas, many acorns do not mean harsh winters.  

As for moulting chickens.  It always make me laugh when folks come over who don't have chickens and see mine in their varying stages of 'undress'.  The chicken yard starts to look like a chicken blew up because there are so many feathers laying about.  One poor hen in particular looks downright raggedy when she moults. She's always the last to go too.  I worry she'll freeze when the cold winds begin to blow. She just snuggles in with the other girls extra tight at night.