I decided to stain the master bedroom windowsill in our house. I had been a natural wood color since we moved in almost two years ago, and this whole time I knew I was going to make it look new and shiny again. I finally purchased the stain – ebony color – and completed my project on a Sunday afternoon. The instructions on the bottle said the paint would dry in one hour. However, checking on it Sunday afternoon revealed the project was nowhere near dry.
This meant we had make the difficult (for me) decision to lock Wyatt out of the bedroom for the night, as the windowsill was a favorite spot of his to hang out, day or night. Let me tell you, Wyatt is not used to being locked out of the bedroom. It’s literally unheard of in our household and is not expected to be taken well by Wyatt. That’s exactly what followed – Wyatt tried to get in throughout the night; I could hear his paws getting at the door and I felt terrible. Anyway, the night passed and morning came.
I checked the paint as soon as we got up – still kinda wet! We knew we had to be careful with Wyatt. Regardless, as soon as we opened to bedroom door, Wyatt was there, darting into the room. And what was immediately his first destination? The windowsill.
I anticipated this and quickly followed him, but by the time I grabbed him, Wyatt left his eternal signature on this project of mine. It’s a perfect paw print and honestly, James and I don’t mind all that much. I think it made for a sweet story. You have to see the pictures to appreciate it fully (I guess you will if you are a cat lover).
pre-heated oven to 400
Looking for ideas to utilize some eggs and decided to try this recipe. Nothing measured so lets be adventurous. First thing I did was fry up a little bacon, next I chopped up a few vegetables, a bit of onion, bell pepper, and green onion. Then grated a little sharp cheddar, with that in a bowl I began adding eggs. With what I had I just estimated how many eggs I needed, and this batch took 10. I added a little evaporated milk, salt and pepper. Next I sprayed my muffin pan with non-stick spray and filled each cup about 1/3 full.
I baked 23 minutes testing with a butter knife that came out clean. I then let set a few minutes before removing with a knife. The muffins came out wonderfully.
So Janka and I had decided over dinner with our neighbors Caroline and Dawn that we would attend VANC’s 1st Annual Halloween Dance. Following some phone-call conversations, it seemed that Caroline and Dawn planned and decided on their costumes in no time (of course they did not want to disclose what the costumes were). For Janka and I, arriving at a decision was a lengthy process.
Janka’s first idea I really liked.
We also considered something like this
After a little debate we decided this was the way to go
Here are a few photos from the Dance. Thanks VANC!
With all the eggs the chickens have been providing I have been doing quite a bit of baking. While trying to recreate one of my favorite cookies my mom use to bake for Derek, Steven, and I, a yummy treat has been created.
The JamesandJanka Cookie
¾ Cups butter
1 Cup brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 cups and 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1teaspoon of salt
1 Teaspoon baking soda
½ Cup chopped pecans
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Begin by taking
- 1/2 cup butter or margarine
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sifted all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon soda
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Cream butter; add sugars and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Sift together flour, salt, and soda; add to creamed mixture. Stir until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips and pecans. Set in the refrigerator to harden.
1 Cup Flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
less than 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg white
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened baking cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
about 1/8 ounce frozen bakers chocolate
Cream butter and sugar (I added a bit of white sugar to my brown here; didn’t measure just added less then 1/4 cup) and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and egg white. Sift together flour, cocoa, salt, and soda; add to creamed mixture. Stir until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips. I also took some frozen baking chocolate and knifed off some chunks to mix in the dough. Set in the refrigerator two hours to harden.
Pre heat oven to 375˚F
Roll 1 inch diameter balls mixing doughs together
Place about 2 inches apart on greased cookie sheet
Bake between 8 to 11 minutes
Remove with spatula to wire rack to cool
You’ll Love Them!
To be honest, I don’t even remember how getting chickens came about. We had recently purchased our first home, we had a big backyard, a garden, and chickens just seemed like a perfect addition. Following encouragement of Sonja, one of my co-workers who is a fellow chicken farmer, we made a trip to a local feed store in search for the new Bond family members. The first time we tried, we were unsuccessful. Some guy bought the last three hens right in front of our eyes! All that was left was little baby chicks, which we did not consider. We were unsure about our ability to keep the little buggers alive and raise adult hens, we had never done this! I was very disappointed. It seemed that hens were difficult to get, as opposed to little chicks which seemed available everywhere.
Sonja’s account of her and her husband’s experience raising baby chicks made it sound simple and easy. All you need is keep them warm and comfortable, feed them baby food and make sure they know where the water is. We reconsidered and did it! And really, it was, easy.
We got our three little yellow princesses at the feed store the following weekend. We already had a coop that we used as their house, placed it in the garage, attached a red heat lamp to one of the walls (outside the coop, through the wires), bought a feeder and a water dispenser, some baby chicken feed and we were all set.
According to the store keeper’s instructions, when we first placed them in their new home, we dipped each chick’s beak into the water in the water dispenser so that they would remember where to go for a drink. Finding the food was not difficult for them. It seemed that they ate all day, every day! Those little cute things were at the feeder constantly, pushing each other, eagerly cleaning up the dish, everyday. We watched them with joy. And how they grew! They seemed bigger every day. Soon they started showing brown feathers, their legs became sturdier, and they were changing. In a few weeks, we had handsome young hens.
It was time to introduce them to the outside. We started taking them out into the backyard, keeping them under a chicken wire. They enjoyed running around, spreading their wings and eating grass. We would take them back into the garage at night.
Eventually, we bought a larger coop and moved the chickens outside permanently. The first night was not easy. There were lots of noises coming from the coop! I am not sure if it was surprise, fear or discomfort. I tried to calm them down, talking to them through the little wired window at the top of the coop. Of course, the girls got used to the new routine very quickly.
Now, we are about five months from the day we brought the girls (three weeks old), and things couldn’t be better. Zsa Zsa, Brigitte and Josephine seem happy, healthy, and are used to us (walk around my feet, hoping for food when I enter their run, let us stroke their shiny brown feathers). They each lay an egg every day, which they announce with a loud chicken signing. The eggs taste amazing, the freshest you can get, the yolks the brightest yellow and we have enough to share with our friends, neighbors and co-workers.
1/2 large yellow onion 1/2 lb Spicy Italian pork sausage 1/2 lb ground beef 2 cups Mexican three cheese blend
2 cups Mozzarella cheese 1 table spoon minced garlic Spinach eh about 2 cups 2 bottles Classic Tomato and Basil pasta sauce
Step 2. Cut one half yellow onion and brown with 1/2lb spicy Italian pork sausage, ½ lb hamburger and a tablespoon of minced garlic.
Step 3. Put on water to boil noodles. No boil noodles are a no no !
Step 5. Take a sip of JBC!
Step 6. Place Ricotta in a bowl with an egg and mix with salt and pepper.
Step 8. Add sauce to meat about a bottle and ½ of Classic Tomato and Basil that I get at Costco.
Step 9. Spray pan with non stick spray
Step 10. Drain noodles and rinse with cold water
Step 11. Add layer of meat sauce to pan
Step 12. Top meat sauce with a layer of noodles
Step 13. Add layer of 1/2 Ricotta mixture and ½ of spinach
Step 14. Top with Mozzarella cheese and layer of meat sauce
Step 16. Add layer of noodles rest of ricotta mixture and spinach
Step 17. Layer of Mexican style Blend shredded cheese and meat sauce
Final Layer of noodles last of meat sauce and rest of cheese.
Didn’t take a picture of final I ate! The last photo is just before I added layer 3 of noodles.
You may remember from our Gardening Time post that Janka and I abruptly quit working on our garden to begin landscaping our front yard. It was a long journey but we thoroughly enjoyed it and wanted to share a few photos from the process..
Escrow was not kind to our front yard. The grass was suffering and gophers had destroyed the lawn. I bought an electric trimmer and began shaping what was left. I didn’t take me long to come to the conclusion we would have to start over. I began looking for landscapers when Janka expressed her strong belief we could do it ourselves. Remember the Painting Our House post? We were about to start another project together.
Step one was to look around for inspiration. We took a stroll around our neighborhood and saw a few designs and plants we liked. Next was researching online to fine tune our vision.
Once we had some good examples we drew a guide for our work.
The first thing that had to go was the old flower bed. That was actually pretty easy.
Next was breaking up the soil and as you can see from the picture one of us was working harder than the other during this part.
After a couple of weekends of heavy digging and turning the soil, our neighbor Tony came over to help us lay our irrigation system.
Creating a new flower bed was next and once again one of us was working harder than the other as shown in the pictures.
We laid the stone steps and planted grass seeds along the path that we designed based on one of the sketches.
Then it was time to cover the main area of the yard. We chose large river stones as the material, which turned out to be a lot harder than we thought. Load after load we got it done but decided to reduce the size of the stone portion of the lawn, when we realized how many loads and stones it would take to fill the whole area. Mulch was easier to work with and looked good too.
However, after a short break we regained our energy and enthusiasm, brought more stones and finished the lawn as planned.
It’s a Jungle out There!
So I am enjoying the backyard and have decided to take some photos of my local wild life.
So here they are from A to Z:
Yes these little guys will soon be getting their own post I am sure. Tilling the soil for our garden I realized just how many ants we have in our backyard! Not sure what I am going to do as a garden is a must for me. Right now I am trying to reduce the population with Boric Acid, Sugar, and Water.
Glad to see these little guys as I will be needing them to pollenate my flowers and garden.
Just some little guys that drop by daily but I don’t know what species they are eventually, eventually.
So this little guy was under a shrub of mine battling some ants. By the time I ran to get the camera and got back, he had escaped. He soon reached up, grabbed a limb of the shrub and climbed into the canopy.
These guys are always scurrying around. Some nice colors on them actually.
Yes please be very, very careful when you come over. We have a mountain lion named Wyatt that roams the premises.
Not technically in our backyard but he is right next-door and definitely contributes to the ambiance!
That’s right, I said mantid…you can find some interesting discussions about mantis or mantid.
Now, I have always been a fan of birds of prey. While these guys aren’t officially in my backyard, they too are right behind the fence. Hopefully they will come inside the fence and fix my little gopher or mole problem.
These guys are all over the back. I am getting a greenhouse to protect my veggies!
Not much to say here, just hope I don’t get stung.
Not sure how it came to be but something Janka and I are both extremely excited about is our garden. I guess I have to confess I took a minute to get involved. I was just ensuring we had all the services, address changes, and minutia of the move under control. That said I would say Janka has been ensuring we keep up the excitement of building a home together. We are really a good team in that way, so I felt a little guilty as I watched her start tilling the soil where we want to put some citrus and avacoda trees in the back. Don’t get me started on correct digging attire, yes she was wearing a bikini and flip flops but she was having fun and excited about the project!
The soil was arid in the area where we want to place the trees so we needed to break it up and see just how bad it was. I bent the shovel several times just trying to get it into the ground. What we discovered was ants were using old mole or gopher tunnels as highways under the ground. I found several old tree roots that I needed to take out and we definitely needed to breathe some life into this soil.
Janka took a soil sample up to our local nursery and came back with Planter Mix and Mulch. I worked that into the soil of our two garden sites.
While doing this digging and planting we decided we wanted to try our hand at growing things. Luckily our friends Art and Anna brought by some arugula and Janka has been doing just find with that plant. So we picked up some herbs and a tomatoes plant to test out our green thumbs.
All the excitement was catching momentum until I realized we needed to work on the front yard before we start spending on our green house. So we have abruptly stopped working on the back and are focusing on the front lawn.
More to come…