Thursday, March 28, 2013

Thursday Thoughts

-Spring break is over and I'd have to say it was a success even though we were sick for most of it. And by "we" I mean me. Those kids get sick and they've bounced back in a matter of days. Sean and I get sick and it lingers. This cold was bad, one of the worst I've had. Oh well, glad it's done! I decided to take the kids to the discount theater to see Wreck it Ralph. This would be Greta's first movie theater experience. She did really good. Although she couldn't figure out how to sit in the seats without them collapsing in on her and she wouldn't go for the booster seat which led her to sitting on my lap for a large majority of the movie (which I certainly didn't mind). The movie itself was...different? Most of the animated movies are "feel good" but this one had a "dark" feel to it even though most of it was set in a pink marshmallow candy land setting. Not a bad movie, just different. The kids sure had fun but that might have been because we smuggled in popcorn and Peeps and they got to sit next to Noni.

-Well, "No Shave January" turned into no shave February and most of March. Sean rocked that beard but alas it wasn't meant to be. He said it itched constantly, I said "Shave it!". So I gave him a hair cut and he gave himself a beard shave. He probably lost four pounds of hair. Perhaps we'll see the beard again one day but for now I'm enjoying the smooth look.

-With all this snow and rain it doesn't look like I'll be out getting the garden ready for planting anytime soon. I am not complaining (too much) since snow and rain are moisture after all. But Greta and I both needed a little time away from the house so we went to the mall yesterday to meander around. When you are with a three year old in a mall the number one fun thing to do is ride the escalator. So that is what we did. We rode it up and down, over and over again. By the end Greta was a pro and stepping on and off. It was fun. We had to take a trip over to the play area although it was against my better judgement with all the colds the kids have been bringing home, more germs we don't need. Lucky for me the mall Easter bunny had set up shop right next to the play area and would make random appearances to shake hands with the kids. My little girl did not like the Easter bunny. She kept her eyes on him at all times. She got pretty paranoid about it and in the end we had to leave. Guess we won't have any pictures of her on the Easter bunny's lap.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Strange vehicles, grow lights & free books

Happy first day of spring! I wish I was feeling better to enjoy it but alas Sean and I are still sick. The kids on the other hand are bouncing off the walls. It is Spring Break after all. I wish I had activities planned for these two bored kids but I'm fighting, what I think to be, a sinus infection. Boy, it's not fun. Dizzy in the mornings, congestion, coughing all night long....the works! Sean has pink eye (again) and his ears are starting to hurt, that poor guy gets ear infections whenever Wesley brings home a cold. So our spring break has been a bit low key. The highlight of the week so far has been lunch at Pizza Hut yesterday, that should tell you something. We are getting ice cream cones and hitting the local park today and I have plans to take them to see a movie tomorrow (Greta's first theater experience) so the week hopefully won't be a total wash.

Sean had to work from home a few days so as to not infect everyone at the office with pink eye. He left his laptop at work so I drove in to retrieve it. With a parking lot full of engineers, one never knows what they will park next to. Case in point.

I decided I needed to get my seedlings under some grow lights so I ordered a bulb off of Amazon. Then while I was at Wal-Mart last Friday I thought I'd run by their bulb section to see if, by chance, they carried anything. Low and behold they have a grow light setup for $10.50 (!). That's a few dollars less than the single bulb I ordered online. So between the light bar I got at Wally World and the Amazon bulb, the seedlings have 12 hours of light on them. They are looking healthy and a few are getting their true leaves.  Oh I nearly forgot the best part......I had to build some sort of frame to attach this light bar to. Something that would suspend it over the plants. I've felt like cow dung for the better part of a week now and the thought of going out to the shop and whacking together a wood frame did not interest me. So behold my white trash creation, cereal boxes with a hole cut out. Awesome eh?

I thought I'd also share something cool I found this week. While roaming around Amazon looking at their eBooks I found several gardening eBooks that were free (along with tons of other non-gardening free eBooks). I told Sean this is the first instance I wish we had purchased a Kindle instead of the Nexus tablet. That's when he informed me there is a Kindle app for the Android tablets. Woo hoo! So now I'm this mad downloading fool on Amazon. There are some really great eBooks out there, many of which I've been reading at 3 o'clock in the morning when I'm coughing up a lung. Fun times!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Thursday Thoughts

-I had to really focus to remember what day of the week it was. The kids and I have been holed up sick all week long. I mean sick sick. The kind of sick where you lie around on the couch and try to remember what it's like to not be sick. We've been battling fevers, sore throats, coughing and snot. So much snot. The poor kids and I haven't done much of anything since Monday. Spring break is next week and I'm praying we are over this crud in time to go enjoy the nice weather at the park. Who wants to be sick on spring break?  Not me!

In an effort to combat the blues we all went outside today for some mandatory Vitamin D time. The sun is out, it's 70+ degrees and by golly we got out. Even if we just sat outside on the swing set for 20 minutes.

It's so strange to me how spring just sneaks up one day. It's like one day it's cold and rainy (last Sunday) and then today it's beautifully warm and the bullfrogs are coming out and making their noise. For me, that noise is spring. I love that croaking. That croaking means the mud around the ponds has warmed up enough for them to emerge. Yeah for warm mud!

-My tomato seedlings have emerged. Apparently placing the seed trays on the chicken brooder was an efficient way to heat up the seeds. As soon as they popped up through the dirt I uncovered the trays and put them under some lights. So far so good.

-The baby chicks are growing like weeds. They already look immensely different than they did when I brought them home. They have little feathers that are showing me what their future coloring might resemble. Looks like I should have a colorful flock this year. If my calculations are correct I'll start getting eggs from these new little ones in July or August. In the mean time they are still pretty loud and awake around 5 am for a cheep fest. Since I've been sleeping on the couch, (so I can sleep sitting up for drainage reasons) I've got to enjoy their musical antics. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Happy Birthday Papa Rich

It was a special day. Rich's birthday was today and he was here with us to celebrate it. It was a low key day, not much got done but that's ok. The weather was a dud with freezing wind and spitting rain, brrrr. We all stayed in and vegged out. Enjoyed four pounds of snow crab for dinner and topped it off with a low sugar key lime pie (which was surprisingly good!).

Last summer we went to the zoo for a company picnic and while there we spotted a man wearing a pith helmet. Rich mentioned he always wanted one of those hats so I tucked that information away and ordered a pith helmet for his birthday. He said his grandpa used to always wear one and they are a great way to stay cool in the summer. Heck, I think I want one! Happy Birthday Rich, we enjoyed celebrating your birthday with you!

A 3 year old can't resist a hat box.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Veggie Garden 2013

I'm getting Spring Fever. The need to go get my hands dirty, mud caked on the boots and sore muscles from hefting mulch. I can hardly wait. This time of the year is made for planning. My garden planning is in full swing. I've combed the pages of the Burpee catalog, putting post-its on nearly every page for everything I want to add to the garden this year. After finally thinning it down I got my seeds ordered and they arrived several weeks ago. I have to admit I spent a bit more than planned. It's ok, it's not like anything will go to waste. There are enough mouths, both human and animal, to clean up every scrap that garden produces.

It's amazing how little $75 buys you with a seed catalog.

I went a little nuts with the summer squash this year. I'm trying five varieties: patty pan, yellow egg, bush zucchini, spahgetti and eight ball. Seeing as I usually have an all out war with the squash bugs, this might be interesting. I spent the last evening planning out the garden using an online garden planning program. It was easy and I have a working plan for how I'm going to lay out everything. If you aren't familiar with plant companions, here is a website that will help you choose what to plant next to what. For instance corn likes beans, cucumbers, melons and pumpkin but doesn't do well next to tomatoes.  I'm going to have a nice walkway through the garden this year in an attempt to be able to navigate it once everything gets growing. Right now it's 30 foot by 30 foot but I think we are going to rototill it an extra 10 feet in width because everything is a bit smushed.

The kids and I started three varieties of tomatoes and one variety of bell pepper yesterday. They were so eager to help, it made me happy. Such helpful little ones. After the seeds were planted I covered the trays with cling wrap and went looking for a warm place to keep them until they sprouted. Turns out the chicken brooder gives off plenty of heat so I placed the trays around that. Once they sprout they will go in a sunny window (or I'm toying with the idea of buying some grow lights.). If this works I'll have 48 tomato plants and 16 bell pepper plants, whew!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Thursday Thoughts

-We have a mystery to solve this weekend. Every morning I let the three cats out of the shop to spend the day frolicking and hunting birds like young cats do. Then every evening at feeding time I let them back into the shop for protection and to eat all the mice. Well, lately I let them out in the morning and by noon they are mysteriously back in the shop. It's a well sealed, locked shop. We have no idea how they are getting back in there. There are no obvious reasons so this weekend we'll be watching them closely to see how they are doing it. Silly cats.

-I recently went to Panera for lunch on one of my childless outings and had their Spinach Power Salad. Oh my is it delicious. It's got baby spinach, roasted mushrooms and onions, diced eggs, bacon, frizzled onions & Vidalia onion vinaigrette. I immediately decided I needed to make this at home, and surprisingly enough had nearly all the ingredients (I added red onions and zucchini, omitted the bacon and fried onions). The past two days I've had it for lunch and Greta just looks at it and says "Please don't make me eat that." I don't make her eat it. But it is so good and I highly recommend it if you happen to be an adult and near a Panera Bread.

I've really been cleaning up my diet and it feels wonderful. My goal was to cut out processed foods, fast food (which has been easy to do), only drink water, use only olive oil and coconut oils to cook with, cut bread out by about 85%, switch from cow milk to coconut milk & veggies veggies veggies. I feel like I've gone Paleo without all the meat. Ha ha, I know that's all Paleo is! I have so much energy, the bloated feel is gone and my blood sugars aren't all over the map anymore.  The cleaned up diet, combined with weights and the treadmill seems to be the ticket for me. This is a life style change for me and I'm so excited about it.

-I've become a pro at giving goats shots over the past month. Dym had her follow up worming 21 days after the vet wormed her and promptly stopped eating yet again. This was two nights ago so I immediately started giving her B-12 injections again. Giving shots to animals has always intimated me, mainly due to their size. I'm usually alone when I give these shots so I have to kinda man handle the animal into a position where they can't run. Dym is such a sweet animal and just watches me give the shot now. She knows she gets some molasses and soaked beet pulp when it's done.

My sister and her family was down visiting this past weekend, usually I have my camera out but this time I only managed to capture a couple of cute pictures. It was nice seeing everyone, eating lots of good food and letting the cousins play.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Chicks, Man

I couldn't resist that title as "The Soup" was one of my favorite shows to watch before we got rid of cable. Anyways. We have chicks! I called the local feed stores and were delighted to learn they had pullets (girl baby chicks). Off I went with the kids to pick some out. They only had three breeds so I got one of each with the hope of finding two different breeds at the other store nearby. Sure enough the other store had two different breeds. So we brought home five baby chicks.

This time round I got a nice assortment of breeds, whereas last time (back in 2010) I just got Silver Laced Wyandottes and Araucanas. From left to right in the above picture: Buff Brahma, Brown Leghorn, Black Sex Link, Ideal 236 & Red Hampshire. Interesting facts (at least interesting to me), the Black Sex Link Hybrid is when they mix two heritage breeds, usually a Rhode Island Red Rooster and a Barred Rock Hen, to produce color sexable offspring. The male chicks have light colored neck feathers, female won't. The other interesting chick is the Ideal 236 (the little whitish chick front right). It's a hybrid chicken produced for its extreme egg laying potential. They will nearly lay an egg a day. The lady at the feed store said they aren't as popular in the farm yard because they lay white eggs, most small scale farmers like brown eggs. I found that strange since it's what's in the egg that matters, not the color of the container. So my new chicks will give me white and brown eggs to add to the greenish eggs I'm already getting. It will be fun to have a variety of colors. I'm excited!

Greta and Wesley find it fun to look at the little peepers. I'm keeping the brooder upstairs in the bird room this time round. It was in the living room last time and the chicken dust was nasty. I'm trying to decide who is louder, the cockatiels or the chicks. They have these little chirping / squawking's a bit loud.

Today Greta and I went outside to collect fallen branches to make a perch the babies can sit on. We'll see if they actually use it. Anyways, that's what we're up to.