Friday, August 28, 2009

Ducks are in heaven

I realized I haven't updated the ducks in a while. As you can see, they have lost all their juvenile feathers, and now look like adult ducks. That is Mario in the front, Spicy right behind him (the white one), then Chatty is brown (she's shy), and Blackie in the back.

Blackie is the prettiest of my ducks, with feathers that are iridescent green on his head and back, and blue on his wings. I call him my "fashion model" because he doesn't have brains to go with his looks. He is a total follower!

Mario is what is called a "Trout" runner duck. Looks like a Mallard Male duck. He is the boss of the yard, and will chase the dogs around, nipping at them. All the ducks have claimed full ownership of the yard, and definitely feel they are higher on the pecking order than the dogs. Thank goodness my dogs aren't feisty, they just stick close to me, or stay on the deck to be away from the ducks.

Spicy is still the lead female. She is white with a little bit of tan on her, looks more like an apricot color. Too bad Mario is hogging the pic so she is hard to see! Spicy is likely to duck her head down and let you know that she is watching you, but will rarely actually chase the dogs (that's the boys job!). She's very vocal and continues to speak her mind about things!

Chatty is the baby. She is a Khaki runner duck, with some pretty dark brown lacing on her feathers. She is prettier in person than in the pics. Chatty joined us a week after the other ducklings, and has never been the leader of the pack. She is a follower, and the one most likely to fall behind the flock or to be sitting a little apart from the group.

They have started acting like pairs in some ways, with Spicy and Mario as one pair, and Chatty and Blackie as the other. Still no eggs, but I can hope for some by Halloween!

They are eating bean plants that I tossed out from the garden. I had a few bean plants growing on the fence, and the ducks love to eat their leaves, stripping any new growth off of the vines every day. Since the beans are about done for the year, I thought I would make them happy by tossing some out to them!

The ducks are pretty smart, smarter than you would think. Every night, at dark, I use a flashlight to see my way out to their pen. They follow along behind me, staying in the light, and walk right into their pen. In the morning, not long after sunrise, Spicy and Chatty will begin calling to be let out. I go open the gate to their pen, and out they race, talking all the while, trying to chase up some bugs. Funny to watch!

Well, I am off to can more tomato's. Gotta get it done before the day gets too hot. Oh, and by the title "Ducks are in heaven"? I mean, they LOVE the bean leaves and are having the best time stripping those vines!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Catching up with my garden

Since I have been gone for a few weeks, my garden is bursting at the seams. I picked pound after pound of tomato's yesterday, and set them to cooking all afternoon and evening. Nothing like canning up tomato's at 9pm at night! They smelled so good, and were sweet as anything!

I also made a greek salad. Oh so very yummy!

Greek Salad
1/2 cup plain yogurt
3/4 cup greek dressing
kalamata olives, pitted
feta cheese, crumbled

-Cut the tomato's into bite sized pieces
-Partially peel the cucumber, and cut into bite sized slices
-Clean the onion, and chop
-Mix together yogurt and greek dressing.
-Fold in the tomato's, cucumbers, onion, olives and feta cheese.
-Let sit in fridge for 2 hours to allow flavors to mingle before eating

This salad is my total splurge of the week. The olives and feta are rarely in my budget, but this salad is SO yummy. And making it myself is much more affordable than buying the salad already made. (My tomato's are much better than the styrofoam tomato's that the deli uses!)

I'm still working on catching up with all the tomato's out there. But eating them is so much fun.

Vacation--family style

Sorry that there haven't been any posts recently, we were gone on vacation.

We did our yearly trip to Montana to visit with family. Ten hours in a car with four dogs, two's a test to stay sane. But how terrific is it to be with family?

The kids had fun, going to ghost towns, rafting down the river, and fishing in the creek by the house. The manly men got together and made fishing spinners from old spoons, as well as welding other things together (I have no idea what they were doing in the garage, just that it made a lot of noise). My mom and I worked on pillows for the kids, finishing up a quilt for Skinny Boy, and starting a throw for my bedroom.

It doesn't sound like much, but it's our traditional family vacation!

Friday, August 7, 2009

I made Chutney! it is! My semi-creative way to use up some green tomato's.

It tastes pretty good, would be better with meats (like chicken or pork). Can also add it in to curry. hmmmm....meal ideas!

I love the new style of jars. See the little shorty half-pints? Sure, they hold practically no chutney, but they are so gosh-darn cute!

It's much cooler this week, and I am feeling better today, I am thinking of baking. Sounds really good to me today.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The tomato's are coming

Here in Oregon, we get a late tomato harvest. My birthday is mid-August, and I typically don't get any tomato's until my birthday. Always later than I want it to be! But this year, we had a shocker of a heat wave in July, and the tomato's have arrived early.

I have been enjoying tomato's several times a day for a week now. Eating the cherry ones that ripen first, popping them in my mouth like candy, or with a little drizzle of dressing. But take a look at that big whopper that I picked this morning! My goodness, that thing is screaming "Mozzarella, tomato, basil salad!". Ohhhh.....yum.

I leave for vacation soon, and my thoughts turn to "what about all the ripe tomato's while I am gone? What about the tomato's!!!!" I am weird, I know. I am thinking, cook up some green tomato chutney, and can it up for winter. I love chutney, but I have never made any. May as well give it a whirl and see how it turns out. At the very least, it will use up some green tomato's. Heaven's knows I over-estimated in planting tomato's this year (I planted 9 plants, and they have literally taken over half of my garden! Spilling out over the fence and into the yard.), and will have tons more in September to can. to buy spices and apples to go in the chutney. Wish me luck!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Redneck ways to say I love you

Awwhhh yeah!!! No better way for a man to show he lub's yew than by siphoning gas at 9:30 at night.

Explanation? Well, the old girl has been retired to the back yard, awaiting her next driver to age a little. That is gonna be another year or longer, and she still had over half a tank of gas in her. That gas is going to go bad before the car is driven again.

Waste not, want not. My new hoop-dee needs some gas, so we decided to siphon the gas out and transfer it to the new ride. Of course, nothing goes the way it's supposed to, Hubs couldn't get it out of the gas tank, and had to reroute the overflow gas into the travel tank.

Here we are, by the romantic glow of the flashlight, watching gas slowly move to the tank, and watching the gas gauge drop. Ahhhh.....even after almost 5 years, the romance is still there!

Thoughts to the Newlyweds

There is a sweet couple at church getting married next weekend. A young couple, starting out fresh in the world, they have ...well, nothing. I have so many good wishes, prayers, for them both. It is so hard to be starting out, especially in this day and age.

I was thinking about what to tell them. Words of "wisdom" and lessons I learned.'s okay to not have money, but don't let the stress of not having money tear you apart. When I was newly married and in college, we were oh-so-very broke. And the fears of not being able to pay the bills, wondering where food was going to come from, all those anxieties would cause each of us to lash out at the other. It wasn't meanness, it was fear, and we didn't know how to talk about those fears. It is so important to be able to join together and trust the other person, to know that you are in it together, rather than looking at the other person and thinking they are doing something foolish or to hurt you. It is a rough lesson. Important to keep in mind that you are working together, not against each other.

There are ways to be frugal. There are fabulous books in the library about ways to cut costs, plus tons of sites on the internet. It is worth reading and finding the tips that work best in your situation. If you have the finances, make changes slowly. If you cut back too strongly, you feel deprived. Living frugally isn't just about your actions, it is about a mind-set. Knowing that you are making conscious choices and prioritizing what is important to you, that helps make the sacrifices worth it.

Recognize that your parents and older friends didn't get all that they have overnight. Most of us went through the "poor" period of our lives, and the nice things most of us do have, came over time.

Take good care of what you do have. I have found that if I keep what I do have clean and tidy, I don't feel driven to need to replace it. This means sewing back on a loose button, hemming pants so they fit just right, keeping my car clean on the inside--having pride in what I do have.

Thinking outside the box. When hubby and I do eat out, we usually buy an appetizer and split an entree. Or go to happy hour (you can order lemonade or a soda, but the food is inexpensive for a treat!). For fast food, we order one combo meal, upsize it, and order a second sandwich from the dollar menu.

Of course, eating at home is far less expensive! Brew coffee at home and take it in a mug with you instead of hitting the coffee shop. Even buying frozen dinners at a dollar a piece and taking that for lunch is less expensive than fast food.

There is more. So much more, but that is a start. I wish all the best for them, and that they were able to have all they need. But I believe and trust that they will do well.