Friday, July 31, 2009

Bunny Buddies

I grew up in a neighborhood full of squirrels. They were kind of cute, but they were also a nuisance. Fortunately, we now live in a neighborhood where there aren't many squirrels. Every so often, we will see a squirrel and one of us will say "Oh look, there's the neighborhood squirrel!" Sometimes it will be weeks between squirrel sightings. What we do have here is bunnies - Cute little cottontail bunnies. It was the weirdest thing to me the first time I spotted a bunny hopping around outside. A wild bunny was something I had never seen before. To this day, the bunnies outside are kind of a novelty to me, and I love to watch them.


We have a pair of bunnies that likes to hang out in our back yard. They're usually out there for a good part of the day, eating weeds and hopping around. We call one of them "Bunny" and the other one we call "Skittish Bunny". We can get pretty close to Bunny before he hops away, but Skittish Bunny darts away at the first sign of movement. This is Skittish Bunny. He's a little skinnier than Bunny.


This is Bunny. Bunny is the fatter of the pair. Hopefully that doesn't mean we will have more baby bunnies in the yard soon.


Aren't they cute? Despite the gardening challenges (don't plant pansies and petunias!), we are fond of our little friends. They try really hard to help us keep the yard mowed (haha) and they're much cuter than squirrels!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Counting our Chickens

Hello there, little chicken! You're awfully cute! Would you like to come live at our house? Oh wait - you can't. Here in our city, they have a silly ordinance that prevents us from having chickens. They aren't banned completely, but chicken owners are required to keep them at least 150 feet from property lines. Since our property is not near 300 feet wide and long, we are without chickens. That's sad! Since we are without chickens, my husband's friend from work said I could use pictures of his chickens for my blog.


The person who owns these chickens said that this little brown one is his favorite. It follows him around the yard like a little pet whenever he goes out there. It is a bantam chicken, as are all of his chickens. Bantams are smaller than standard sized chickens. Their eggs are smaller as well, but they are just as tasty! We would like some little bantam chickens of our own, to cavort around the back yard and amuse us and give us tasty fresh eggs. I don't think that's too much to ask! It's not like we want to fill up the back yard - We just want a few little chickens.


And look at the little baby chickens! Aren't they cute? Mama chicken is like "What you lookin' at?" Of course, we wouldn't be having any baby chickens, because we just want hens. No roosters here, since they're so noisy and all. I don't think the neighbors would appreciate a new and unrequested early morning rooster alarm. I wouldn't appreciate that either. My husband asked his friend what he was going to do with the baby chickens and he said "Those are your chickens." But we aren't allowed to have them! No fair!

Some of the chickens have funny heads. They have these big puffs of feathers on the tops of their heads. I don't know what they're called, but I'd love for some of them to live in our back yard. Check them out, and check out the feathers on the feet of the white one here.


We've been wanting some chickens for a while now. We talk about it all the time. We have big dreams of building a chicken tractor and bringing in some fun little hens to live in it. We'd call them "The Girls". What? You don't know what a chicken tractor is? Well, I'll tell you! It's a movable chicken enclosure. You can put it in a different place in the yard every day if you want to. It has mesh sides and tops to keep the chickens inside, but the chickens are still able to enjoy the benefits of playing around in the yard. It also keeps the chickens safe from predators while they are frolicking around in the yard. Some chicken tractors even have the coop attached, so if the chickens get tired of the yard during the day, they can go inside and hang out. That is the kind of chicken tractor we would have if we could have chickens. With the coop attached. It would be the ultimate chicken mansion! Unfortunately, we aren't allowed to have chickens, so I have no chicken tractor to show you. However, I do have some more pictures of chickens for you to enjoy!


We were talking about the chickens one day last week and my husband decided to write a letter to the mayor and the city council and request a change to what we are now calling the "Chicken Ordinance". Really, the worst they could do is say no, so it's worth a try, right? So he sent the letter and we waited. Then he said "Hey, there's a city council meeting coming up!" There is a part at the beginning of each meeting where citizens can address the council about any issue they would like. If their issue is not on the agenda for the night, they can't actually discuss making changes, but they can set a date to discuss it in the future. So we decided to go to the meeting. My husband got all his notes together and we set out on our adventure. Here he is filling out the card before the meeting so they would know he wanted to address them.


After my husband said his piece and sat back down, the mayor said that they had gotten several emails about the chickens and that it seems to be a hot topic. He said he thinks it's something that needs to be looked at, and the council set a time to discuss it. After the meeting, one of the council members motioned to talk to my husband. He chatted about chickens for a few minutes and told my husband that he grew up on a farm. We are hoping that he will push a revision to the chicken ordinance. All in all, the vibe we got from the meeting was positive. We're crossing our fingers that we will soon have chickens of our own!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Canning Adventures#2 - Sweet N Hot Corn Relish!

The salsa was so easy, I didn't wait long to try my next canning adventure. Here's the story with this one. When we went to my parents' house for my birthday, my aunt brought this really tasty corn relish, and we ate it with crackers, like dip. It was so good, I decided I needed to try to figure out how to make it. I found a recipe online, and with a few additions I think it turned out really good. It has frozen corn, apple cider vinegar, red and green bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, sugar, turmeric and mustard powder in it.

I didn't get many pictures of this one because I did most of it before my husband got home from work. Here it is in the pan:

corn relish 2

The lids and rings are hot and the water in the canning pot is ready to go!

corn relish 1

And here are the pretty jars all processed and cooling off. Really, aren't they pretty? I may be weird, but I think the food in jars is pretty. I should decorate with them!

corn relish 3

Monday, July 27, 2009


Look out, She's possessed and she's coming to get you!


Seriously, how could I not post this? My husband wanted to take a picture of her because she was panting. It was over 100 degrees outside and she had just come inside. Because she is such a delicate snowflake, she very rarely lowers herself to any activity that would result in her getting hot or any other sort of discomfort, so she seldom pants. Unfortunately, just as he snapped the picture, she closed her mouth, but her tongue was still sticking out. That plus the ultra neon green glowing eyes resulted in a picture too entertaining not to share!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Canning Adventures #1 - Salsa!

This year, when my husband asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I told him I wanted a pressure canner. Yes, I know I'm weird, but it sounded like a fun thing to have! I was very excited to get it, and I decided that salsa would be my first project. It's always important to have salsa on hand for a tasty snack, and home made salsa is MUCH more tasty than store bought.

I started by getting all my ingredients ready. I wasn't sure exactly how much stuff I would need, so I ended up with some extra to save for another cooking project.

hot sauce 1

Then I chopped it all up in the food processor. I know most people make salsas with big chunks of tomatoes and stuff. My family has always just thrown it all in the food processor and pretty much pureed it, so that's how I do it.

I actually made more than one batch and then put it all in a big pot together and brought it to a boil. I don't normally cook it, but the instructions for canning salsa said you need to bring it to a boil, so I did. I'm sure that has something to do with the cootie-killing process that makes it safe to eat, so I didn't question it. Here it is on the stove along with the canning pot full of heating water and the hot rings and lids for the jars.

hot sauce 4

Once I had the salsa boiling, I got my trusty tongs and got the rings and lids out of the water so I could start jarring it all up!

hot sauce 5

Then came the fun part! I grabbed my sterilized and heated jars and started filling them up. This handy funnel came in the canning tools kit my husband got me to go along with the giant pot. It has an extra wide opening so chunks can get through it.

hot sauce 6

The tool kit also came with this headspace measuring tool. Different kinds of foods require different amounts of space in the top of the jar to properly process. The cootie-killing process is quite mysterious.

hot sauce 7

Once I got the space right, the lids and bands went on. The jars were hot. After burning myself a couple of times, I finally figured out that a towel made it easier to hold the jar.

hot sauce 8

All that was left was to get them into the water and boil them! Another handy tool from the tool kit was the jar tongs. They are made so they grab onto the top of the jar so you can get them into and out of the boiling water easily.

hot sauce 9

After they boiled for 15 minutes, out they came! They were actually in there for way longer than 15 minutes. They were probably in there for about an hour and a half, but most of the time I was trying to get the water to boil. Processing time doesn't start until the water actually starts boiling, and it took forever! After waiting over an hour for it to boil, I decided to try my husband's suggestion and put the lid on the pan. It started boiling within a minute or two.

hot sauce 10

I got them all out and lined them up all pretty on a towel so we could look at them.

hot sauce 11

We were sitting on the couch a little while later when we heard the first "pop" of a lid sealing. Why is that exciting? We got really excited every time one of them would pop. It was very silly, but also very cool. Canning the salsa was really easy, and even more fun than I thought it would be. I love domesticated type projects, and this is something I can see myself doing alot of in the future. Be on the lookout for more canning adventures here soon!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Maximizing Space

Food storage has been something of a challenge in our house. For some reason, the builders of the house did not think to include a pantry in the kitchen, so we only have cabinets. The entryway closet is the closest thing we have to a pantry. It was apparently meant to be used as a coat closet. It has the bar in it where a person would normally hang coats, but the bar really serves no purpose since there are also shelves built in there. I suspect that these shelves were built by another former resident who had food storage difficulties. We had it all worked out where we had just enough room to store all our kitchen stuff and food between the cabinets in the kitchen and the entryway closet.

Well, we did have it all figured out until I decided to start canning food. Where were we going to put all those jars? My husband came up with a great plan to make more room in the closet/pantry so we could store all the new tasty canned foods I will be making. Here's the closet. Yeah, I buy store brands.


If you notice on the bottom food shelf, I like to keep the baggies of dog treats with the extra peanut butter and the minced garlic. It's a tasty combo. Anyway... These shelves used to be totally filled with food. In order to make more space, my husband did this.


He cut boards to fit along the wall from the front to the back of the closet. Then he cut blocks of wood to screw into the wall as braces. Once he got the braces screwed in he set the new shelves in place and screwed them into the existing shelves. Look how much space was being wasted before! It is so nice to have that extra space in the closet. Isn't my husband a genius?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Our Little Boarders

We have some little rooms out back that we rent out. All we ask in return for providing them with a happy home is to just be able to enjoy having them here. Can you see one of our boarders peeking out?


I think there were two or three babies in there at the time I took these pictures. We could only see one or maybe two little heads peeking out at one time, but I'm pretty sure I heard another little guy cheeping from the inside. The babies would peek out and say "cheep cheep" until their parents showed up with a snack. I happened to have my camera handy when the daddy bird showed up.


When one of the parents would show up with a snack, the babies went crazy with their cheeping! The parents fed them, then headed off to find more snacks. In the meantime, the babies would just stick their heads out of the hole and wait. The day I took this last picture, it was over 100 degrees outside, and I felt so bad for them! They would stick their heads out as far as they could and they had their little beaks hanging open. I'm surprised they didn't cook!


This little family has actually moved out since I took these pictures. They are the third sparrow family we have had so far this summer, and we already have another pair of birds moving twigs and scraps into the other house. I'm sure the behavior and antics of this new family will be the same as the other families we have provided homes for, but I will be no less fascinated by them than the birds who have lived here in the past. They are so simple and I have already spent many hours watching them, but they still never fail to entertain me!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Birthday Weekend - From the Dog's Perspective

My hubby's parents gave him a fun camera for his birthday, and we figured this past weekend we could put it to good use. We were going to celebrate my birthday with hubby's family on Saturday and with my family on Sunday. It's a fun little camera that attaches to the dog's collar and takes pictures at set intervals. You can pick every 1 minute, 5 minutes or 15 minutes. For Saturday, we chose every 15 minutes because the camera only holds 40 pictures and we wanted to make sure it would be able to take pictures the whole time we were there, without running out of memory. Doesn't this look like something fun to wear around your neck?


We put the camera on Zoey's collar and told her "You have a big job tonight. You are going to document this event for us so can always remember what a fun time we had."

Zoey: I don't know about this camera, Mommy, but I'll try. It's not too comfy."


Maybe I should head to the kitchen first. I am a self proclaimed Chief Crumb Cleaner-Upper, and there's been some cooking going on in there. Maybe Mommy and Daddy would like a nice shot of the kitchen floor and the legs of someone the person sitting at the table.


What's this? A stool? A table? It's a mystery to everyone but me. But don't Grandma and Grandpa have a nice light in the kitchen?


After all that wandering, I'm tired. Maybe I should get in the recliner with Daddy to relax. That's not very productive, but I've been working hard!


Me: Zoey! You hardly got any pictures we could use! You'll get a chance to redeem yourself tomorrow, but you better be thinking about your strategy!

ZZZzzz... ZZZzzz... Snore... Snore...

Me: Ok, Zoey, I decided to set the camera to take pictures every 5 minutes, and I brought the laptop so I can upload them if your camera's memory gets full. It's all in vain, though, if you aren't able to get any good pictures. Have you come up with the perfect strategy to get us top notch doggie cam pictures?

Zoey: I have been mulling it over, Mommy, and I'm up to the task. I won't let you down!


I was on a mission to get better pictures of this event, so I decided to try a different approach Sunday. Positioning myself on the soft warm blanket on the couch would put me at a better level to get the kind of shots Mommy and Daddy are looking for. Plus, it meant I got to lay on a blanket. Blankets are the best!

Look, there's Grandma talking with Mommy's cousin! And I suppose I should try to get Mommy in one of the shots, since it's her birthday and all.


Zoey: Hello, Daddy! I'm here to take your picture! I think I should take a picture of Mommy's brother over there in the doorway too!


What's going on outside? IT'S GRANDPA!!!! My favorite person!!! He's the best! I think I should go see him over there. Wait a minute - What's he doing? He's got meat over the fire! He's cooking tasty burgers!

Oh look, there's Mommy's aunt and cousin! I think they have some dolls on the table there. It looks like they're having a good time. I wonder if they're enjoying the dolls as much as Mommy's sister-in-law is enjoying her cake? Mommy said it was a tasty lemon cake, but she didn't share any morsels with me. Mommy never shares morsels of her cake with me. The nerve!


Grandma and Grandpa's yard is a fun place to wander. Hey there's my little friend Ginger's rear end over there, and some people on the driveway!


Me: Good job, Zoey! You took some good pictures today!

Zoey: Mommy, taking top notch doggie cam pictures is alot tougher than I thought it would be. I'm tuckered. I think it's time for a nap.


Monday, July 20, 2009

I Can Has Cookie, Please?

The cookies I made last week are almost gone. Their time with us has been brief, but oh how we have savored them! Here they are, the last of the cookies, soon to be only a cherished memory.


Please, Mommy - My kingdom for a cookie! No more eating junebugs or bird seed. I'll learn to survive without a blanket on the couch and constant belly rubbing. If only I could have a morsel of your delicious cookie! Just a crumb would be divine - Just a taste!


Aww, gee, if only they didn't have chocolate in them. Dangerous chocolate. It's only for your safety, little Zoey. I wouldn't want anything tragic to happen to you because I shared my cookie. I guess I will have to eat them all up myself!