Monday, March 31, 2008

Just Be

Today I'm going to step outside with a cup of coffee in my hand, breath, and just be for a while. With all the hamster wheeling I've done this weekend, it's nice to read a scripture that reminds me of the incomprehensible simplicity of God's might. He just is and just does. Without all the drama we humans conjure up.

"He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heaven by his understanding.

When he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens and causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth: he maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures.

Every man is brutish by his knowledge; every founder is confounded by the graven image: for his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them.

They are vanity, the work of errors: in the time of their visitation they shall perish."

Jeremiah 51:15-18

Today I'm going to just be.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Honey and Bread

Honey class picture: From left to right, Dutch Gold Wildflower honey (product of Canada, USA, and Argentina), Bernard's Acadiana honey (Breaux Bridge, LA), Art's Honey (Pearl River, LA), Sage honey (California), Avocado honey (California)

Honey is so yummy. It's really difficult to imagine that honey is made by insects. Cute little insects, but insects nonetheless. I'm not really sure I want to know how they make it.

Here are a few varieties of honey I have around the house. I read once that if you eat honey made in your local area it can help with allergies. So I bought a couple of honeys made locally. Also honey has antiseptic qualities and can be used on cuts and such. Regardless of all that, honey just tastes really good. When we travel, I love to stop at roadside stands and buy local honey or produce that I find.

When we were in California last year we stopped at several roadside stands and bought all kinds of local produce for ridiculously low prices. They weren't perfectly shaped or shiny from food grade wax, Oh but they were out of sight delicious. I also bought some California made honey. My all time fav honey is desert buckwheat honey. (If anyone knows where I can get some more, please let me know) I had bought some when my husband's band was in California a while back, but couldn't find any this past time. The next best is Dutch Gold wildflower honey I get at the local IGA. You can tell by looking at the bottles which I like best! :) Honeys are distinctly different from region to region or flower to flower.

But few things are better than fresh baked bread, butter and honey!!!!!!! Yum Yum. Here is a pic of some honey whole wheat bread that I made. The bread is basically made with 2/3 whole wheat flour, 1/3 white flour, yeast, milk, honey and butter.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Our Scandalous Easter

The whole Saturday before Easter Seleste and Talia busied themselves with Easter preparations. Trying on their new Easter finery, hats and gloves included. Conferring on how exactly they should fix their hair. Talia knew hers must be curled and Seleste decided a plain braid would be fine in order to keep her very long hair from getting in the way while hunting eggs. Hunting eggs!!! This always brings up a favorite pre-Easter topic of theirs. Those boys! Those boys referring to my sisters' sons, Jacob, Brennen, Michael and Gene. But mainly that scandalous Brennen.

They clucked about the house gripping about all the horrid things those boys do. Like hiding the Easter eggs on top of enormous red ant hills and putting them in ridiculously high places encouraging small children to hop fruitlessly then employ the shoulders of a taller uncle or aunt to retrieve the egg, or the time Brennen dyed an egg brown then wrote on it, "Do not eat! Gone down toilet!" Terribly disgusting in the girls opinion.

Seleste and Talia especially like to bend the ear of their sympathetic Maw Maw Rivero. Telling her their stories of Easter woes caused by those boys. Maw Maw loves to call and inform me to, "Tell those boys not to be hiding eggs in ant hills and up too high, and they better not break Seleste's eggs. She worked so hard on them." While large eyed nodding little girls look at me in hopes of additional sympathy for their Easter plight.

True to their worries, we again had a scandalous Easter. Those boys hid the eggs in high places, and Brennen again made "disgusting" eggs. What are two little girls to do in order to have a proper pastel and sweet Easter? Sad. Sad.

Egg hidden in tree. Oh the horrors.
And up on the balcony! They know we can't reach that!
I wouldn't dare eat an egg Brennen dyed anyway! You never know what might have been done to it!
Just disgusting. The sumo wrestler egg.
Now why can't all of Easter be like this? Seleste's sweet little puppy dog egg.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Chickies First Day Out

Byron put the top on the chicken run, and since it was such a lovely day we decided to let the chickies out of the chicken house. We graciously opened the little door to the runway leading to the ground. Our chickens not so graciously ran to the back of the house and cowered there. Not one would even attempt a daring peek out of the small door.

With me opening the egg door and shooing the chicks to the front of the house, Byron caught each one and placed them in the grass. After the wing flapping and squawking subsided they seemed to enjoy basking in the sun and pecking at the weeds and bugs.

This evening we decided that with the temps dropping it would be best to make sure each chick made it safely back into the chicken house. We found out the little guys wouldn't (possibly couldn't) climb back up into the house. So Byron proceeded to chase the chickens around the chicken run until he caught each one and placed it securely in the house. It's hilarious how much we enjoy all the trouble these little critters cause. So tonight they are all snug in their finally complete house and run. The girls did name three of the chickens today. When our neighbor asked them what they were going to name them they informed her, "Daddy said we can't name animals we are going to eat." I told them we are not going to eat the hens. They can name them.

Brownie, named by Talia
Not yet named
Cocktail - Named by Seleste (Don't ask me where she got that name from)
Lu Lu (the brown leghorn) - named by all of us

No Names the Meat Birds

Friday, March 21, 2008

Audubon Zoo

Today's weather was perfect! Sunny in the 70's a slight breeze...Byron's Friday off...the girl's first day of spring break...So let's go to the zoo! We always buy a yearly membership. That way we can come and go as we please. When it's really hot we can zip in for an hour and leave before everyone is cranky. We don't feel like we have to stay all day and get our money's worth. Our money's worth is gotten a few hours at a time throughout the year.

Audubon Zoo does a great job of making you feel as if you are just wandering through the forest, swamp or the savanna. The gardens are wonderful, the ancient live oaks are worth going to view alone, and those lazy animals are taken well care of.
The elephants usually love to back up to the moat and wag one leg and their back end over the edge. All the people gasp, believing that any moment it will plunge over. I'm sure when they go into their elephant house at night they snicker about this.
This is one of the large live oaks that has been around since the revolutionary war. I took a picture of the side without children. The other side has a branch that sweeps to the ground and must have had twenty five children on it at the time I took this picture. My husband and I both remember climbing this tree when we were young.
Lazy cat. This reminds me of Flossie my cat. Always laying around. Sometimes when she stares at me I wonder if she's thinking about eating me. This cat was content to soak in the spring sun.

Seleste's favorite animals are the birds. There are little feed machines that you can put a quarter in and get a hand full of feed. Today there were so many people at the zoo that the birds were stuffed and just idly glanced at the food the girls tossed. These pelicans were huge and stayed together as if they were having an important discussion. Maybe on global warming or how they could band together to get their own pond away from those pesky ducks.

This regal wood duck posed and preened for everyone. He knew he was gorgeous.

The white rhinos are awesome to behold. We even got to see two of them snort threateningly and charge at one another. I guess it was just a bluff because they veered off. Such creatures make you wonder at the diversity of creation. I found myself wondering aloud today, "What if people had noses like elephant trunks? Would we shake trunks? Would we use our trunks to eat our food?" Byron just looked at me. No answer. Oh well.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Path to Freedom

Ever since I was a child visiting my Grandmother in Mississippi and picking veggies out of her garden, I have been fascinated with the fact that FOOD GROWS FOR FREE!!!! It just amazed me that a little seed could be planted and the most delicious tomatoes and cucumbers would emerge. As long as you knew which pasture the "mean" bull was in, you could pick blackberries that grew along the fences and low spots in the field and eat them right away.

So what do you do if you live in the city and want to grow those delectable homegrown veggies and fruit?

These are the two lovely cabbages I picked from my garden. We are going to eat them tonight.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Chicken Coop

The coop is finished except for the top, a little painting and the sunflowers! We worked all day Saturday to get it done. Luckily my neighbors live far enough away not to be bothered, but I don't think this coop looks too shabby. My Brother-in-law has already confessed coop envy.
After reading chicken horror stories on other sites, I told Byron, "This coop must be predator proof!!!" I don't want to go outside and see headless chickens scattered about the chicken yard. So he buried hardware cloth 1 ft below the ground and secured it to the coop. We are also going to put a poultry wire top on the coop before we let the little critters out of the house. I was thinking maybe some roving "chicken tractors" later to allow them to forage a little.
Look at the pretty solar lanterns. This gives me a nice pretty glow at night to check on the chicks without using electricity. The temps have been pretty high recently. Saturday it was 88 degrees. I don't think the chicks are going to need the brooder light any longer. Maybe if we have a cold night.
Here's lettuce I picked for Saturday. With the temps getting so high we need to eat up all the lettuce.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Charlie Bit Me - So Cute

I saw this on Homesteading The Back Side of Forty Site and just had to post it. What a sweet little boy. One of my children would have already hauled off and hit the other. So Cute.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Japanese Plum

My Japanese plum is bearing fruit!!! This is the first year this particular tree has produced. I had one that made very yummy large fruit, but it was destroyed in Katrina. I planted two more since.
Japanese plums are ripe when they are an orangish yellow. They do well in the full sun and make a beautiful small tree. Plant them where the dropping fruit won't be a problem. It produces so much that there is plenty to share with friends and wildlife. The fruit doesn't keep long once picked. When green, the fruit makes great missiles. While growing up we loved to use our neighbors green plums for warfare. He in turn loved to yell at us pesky bratty kids, so we all got enjoyment out of the entire matter. Although, we did resist the urge to throw the plums at him.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Around the House and Garden

The veggie garden. The wind keeps blowing the pyramids down, so I took them out until Byron secures them.
My cold frames Byron made me from left over wood and old windows I salvaged after Katrina.
The chicks are two weeks old!!! Look how much bigger the meat birds are. They are at least three times the size of the hens. We are going to try to separate them this week. I think they are to big to be with the small chickens. The X-rocks are more aggressive too.
I just love this little brown chicken. I think it is a brown leg horn.
This is the beginnings of the new front landscape. I'm going to use as many native plants and ornamental edibles as possible.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Saving on the Food Bill

Yikes! Gas is getting expensive and so is food. Listening to Dave Ramsey has taught me the importance of budgeting. Budgeting is telling every dollar you bring in exactly where to go. If you don't, they seem to just scatter everywhere and you're wondering why there is more month left over than money.

There are so many amounts that people say is reasonable for a food budget. My monthly budget for groceries is $500.00 for five people. I also designate $200.00 monthly for miscellaneous items-toiletries, cleaning supplies, seeds, chicken feed etc... I know I don't have boys. I've heard they eat their weight in food daily. It's just me, Byron and our three little girls (12, 9, and 8). I still think my budget is pretty good.

Here are some things I do to help with the food budget and our health:

Do not buy pre-packaged-tempting I know. Especially if your super busy. Proper planning eliminates the need for these items. Also if you're that busy, SLOW DOWN. You only have one life on earth so actually live it!

Do not waste- Eat leftovers. Re-invent them.

Buy whole-As close to nature as possible. They say these items are mostly found on the outer perimeter of a store. Simple noodles or rice is much cheaper than packaged precooked mixes.

Do not overeat- Since Byron has been cutting back on calories, we were commenting on how much longer milk lasts now. (and other food as well :)

Learn to cook- Some items people buy prepackaged are so quick and easy to make at home, are sometimes more nutritious and always taste better. Such as icing, pie crust, biscuits, bread, soups, casseroles.

Skip the packaged snacks- Say no to cookies, chips, puddings and such. Instead buy mini carrots, pistachios, grain crackers, cheese, yogurt, fruit, broccoli...

Don't drink your money or your calories- Say no to soft drinks and juices. They are high in calories and expensive. Eat your fruit, don't drink it. We drink water, tea, milk and coffee.

Bring a list- and stick with it. Avoid impulse buys. Only buy what you need.

Grow your own- You would be amazed at what you can grow on a patio in pots. Just start small and grow as your skill grows. Don't buy expensive supplies either. Just use a five gallon bucket with holes in the bottom, or a wooden box!

I also buy local and organic whenever possible and still stay within my budget.

If you run out of money before the end of the month, be creative with the food you have in your home. With patience and perseverance you can bring down your grocery bill significantly. Improved health will be an added benefit. Sometimes you have to gradually sneak these changes in on your family.

What is your budget for food? What do you do to save money on groceries?

Here's some sites to help:

Dollar Stretcher
Dave Ramsey
How to save money on groceries at Blogher

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Building the Chicken Run

This is Byron and his Dad working on the run! Yes the chickies are in the house. So far it has worked very well. I added the old blue tarp (compliments of FEMA) to block the very cold north wind. I have an awful confession. I kinda liked the idea of global warming (the being warm part), but this year there is no sign of it here. I need to paint the chicken house, but it has been too cold.

Once the construction is completed, I'm going to plant sunflowers, marigolds, and flowering vines on the coop to give the chicks shade later. Maybe I'll start calling them "chooks" like our Australian friends. I like the sound of that, "chooks". Also some homemade muscadine wreaths would look cute hanging on the run. I once saw a chicken coop that someone had put a "Watch Your Step" sticker on the little runway to the door. I want one of those too. :)

Cookin' up a Storm

Cooking up a Storm

This is the cute title for our church's, soon to debut, cookbook. In order to raise funds to finish up the final restoration of our church after hurricane Katrina, Our church is publishing a recipe book. It will contain "recipes and remembrances from Katrina".

We are collecting stories and recipes from all of the areas where we were scattered. From Maryland to Mississippi to Colorado and beyond. This book will be such a wonderful historical reference from a positive point of view. I'm going to buy one for each one of my girls and give it to them when they get married. It will have some of my recipes of course!

The real kicker to the whole thing is going to be a bonus they are including, A raw video taken of St. Bernard Parish after the storm. Several of the men in our church were allowed back into the parish under homeland security. This is the most true video of the destruction that I have ever seen. They will edit out the dead bodies out of respect to the departed. ---don't cry Kristi----But throughout the video they will insert stories of overcoming. The spirit God put in us humans is just amazing.

The book should be ready sometime in June. I will let everyone know how to order one for themselves.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Training for The Grand Canyon

Byron and I both are attempting to shape up. That way when we hike the Grand Canyon the only extra 35 pounds we'll be carrying will be our backpacks. At the beginning of the year I had resolved to lose 5 lbs a month for a total of 30 before we go. That would put me at 125 and a state of elation. I have managed to lose a total of 7 lbs. Three less than what I should be now to achieve my goal. Hey at least I'm not gaining.

But Byron....Is looking great!! He has so much resolve when he wants to. Like a rock and you can't budge him. Temptation seems to be non-existent for Byron. He has lost 30 lbs!!!!! In six weeks mind you. He is hitting the weights as well. You know I'm smiling.

Anyway, I was reading in my April issue of Prevention Magazine about different diets that heal. I was diagnosed with Graves disease right before hurricane Katrina hit and received treatment in Maryland. With Graves disease your thyroid is hyper therefore you can eat garmunctuous amounts of calories and still lose weight. After treatment the thyroid is hypo until you level off your hormones using medication. So after treatment I gained 30 lbs. I managed to finally stop the weight gain, and I am now losing it. I had to learn to eat reasonable amounts of food again. Yes, an overactive thyroid may sound like a wonderful thing. It's not. My heart rate was 120 even when resting. My body was consuming my muscles and I could barely climb stairs. My hands shook constantly and my writing was wiggly and I couldn't draw anymore. I was warned that if it wasn't treated it would soon lead to stroke and dementia. I already felt demented so I figured I didn't need a stroke on top of it.

The Prevention article made a lot of sense. They suggested the Pritikin diet for diabetes, the Portfolio Diet for high cholesterol, and the DASH diet for high blood pressure.

Byron is simply consuming less calories, eating healthy foods, and exercising more. Hey that sounds so easy.... Why is it so hard??? Grrrr....

Prevention-Heal Yourself With Food

Pritikin Longevity Center
Portfolio Eating Plan

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Young-uns a Week Later

Here are the chickies one week later. They have doubled in size and eat constantly. They sit in front of the trough and eat and eat, then nod off with their little beaks buried in the feed crumbles. Reminds me of Seleste in her high chair. We lost a total of six babies. We now have 21, 6 hens and 15 meat birds. We ordered another shipment of hens that will arrive March 31st. Byron is going to have to hurry. Those chickies are going to want to run around outside before we know it.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Sunday at Mom and Dad's

My nephew Michael's game rooster. Cock fighting is still allowed in Louisiana-Why? I don't know. There is a movement to end it. This little rooster doesn't fight (at least anymore), but his father did. I was told his father was a champion, but now he's missing an eye and a toe. I think he would have rathered not been a champion. His son lives a better life being spoiled by Michael and protecting all the girls (hens).
This is my Mom's kitchen sink window. Look how the violets show off for her. They love her. I love the old mirror hung right in the center of the window.
This is Seleste. What better way to enjoy a Sunday afternoon between church services? Just eat a nice big lunch then lounge on the sofa reading a Calvin and Hobbes book.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

How Cute Are These Shoes?

This is the time I like to shop, Dillard's had an additional 40% off of their merchandise that was already marked down 75%. Cheaper than thrift store prices but brand new. Who could resist???? Here are my $11.00 regular $79.00 gold shoes. Everyone knows gold is a neutral so I can wear them with anything. Right? (Byron says I have a shoe issue.) Anyway, they are very comfy and adorable in an old fashioned way.

My other great deals were: $4.50 fleece jacket for my self, $5.99 jean skirt, $5.99 shirt, $2.24 sweaters for girls, $3.50 shirts for girls, $4.00 jackets for girls, $2.00 leggings for girls, $8.00 belt for girls, $11.00 shirts for hubby, $8.70 pants for hubby. The original prices are ridiculous, and it's no wonder our society is deep in credit debt if they are trying to pay those prices!

Really, All I wanted to do was show you my cute gold shoes. :D