Wednesday, July 23, 2014

How's everyone?
It's been busy around here with my son, who just turned 14, home for the summer. Trying to keep a boy entertained and off the internet can be a challenge and that's been keeping me pretty busy. We don't live in a neighborhood with boys his age, they're all under 9 it seems, so friends have to be driven here or picked up or he's driven there. It's really no problem, but he's a spur of the moment kind of kid and I am soooo not spur of the moment, so adjusting to his life takes some major adjusting in mine. It's all good though.
It seems the internet and video games is how kids socialize these days. My son gets on and plays with his friends with the whole set up; laptop and headphones and they all communicate with each other. It's like they're together but in a virtual world. It bothers me at times since my childhood, back to the "good ol days", was riding bikes until the sun goes down and just being outside all day. That's my main thing with my son---get outside! Times ARE different and that's just the way it is. So we walk the dogs, go geocaching,  take him swimming, ride bikes and kayak at the river. Since he's not into sports and doesn't play in them, he needs some other physical activity and real life experiences. Times are just different.

Summer has been really great so far and my garden has been so beautiful. I harvested a few Zucchini from a pot I planted them in.

I made vegetarian stuffed zucchini last night that was pretty good. My husband really liked it but I didn't care for the texture, so I'll be using a different method next time for the stuffing. The flavors were great!

I've been so excited that my zucchini has been doing so well since I had so much trouble with them last year with blossom rot. I lost all of the vegetables on my two plants I had potted. My father in law told me it was inconsistent watering that caused it, so this year I've been watching it like a hawk. I've been thrilled with all the blossoms and new growth with the tiny little zucchinis.

Until yesterday.

They're rotting. *sigh*

I tried.
Not sure what I'll do with the plant. Hopefully, it'll only be the few that I found but it looks like it's affecting everything.

This summer has been really nice outside. Usually, June can be pretty rainy and cold only warming up after the 4th of July, but this year we've had a really nice and warm spring and summer. Today it's been pouring but the plants needed it so badly. The neighborhood trees are starting to lose their leaves for lack of water.

I do have some sad news. I'm an animal lover and have quite a few. One of those is a little guinea pig, my son's little guinea pig. Bugsy is her name. Well, Bugsy started acting a little off a few weeks ago and since guinea pigs go down real fast when they get sick, I immediately took her to the vet. He found she had some swollen lymph nodes and wanted to check her for cancer. Two days later the results were in--she had an aggressive form of lymphoma and she only had a very short period of time. I had decided to put her down the following day so she wouldn't suffer. I was given plenty of pain killers for her and we were able to give her lots of cuddles and love but it was so hard and my heart breaks everytime I lose a pet. I know that I give my pets the most excellent care so she had a wonderful life. I miss her. She was a great pig.

In more pet news, I've been looking into getting another bird here for the last several months and have finally chosen which one I'm going to add to the flock. A Green-cheeked Conure.  I'll be setting up it's cage this week. Saturday, I'll be going to take a look at the one the gal has. She's been gone all week and the husband doesn't allow people out to his home when he's alone. (Totally get that) and he said she'll be home Saturday. They're people who hand raise baby parrots and bird of all kinds and have lots of seals of approval. They don't breed but get their babies from reputable breeders. They have a 4 month of Conure that I would like to see. They live about and hour and half away, but I have no problem going there and if the bird will not work for me--going home without one. I'm pretty picky about what I want and the health. They only make appointments for people to come out and see their babies and how they run the place and that's a great sign of a good bird people. But, if the bird doesn't like These can live for up to 20 years. I've got to get the one that will work for me and that likes me. I'm excited to get to training but the first month the poor little thing has to be quarantined away from my other birds. Just for a month to make sure he won't make my birds sick. Birds, when under stress, can get sick especially if they're carrying diseases that lay dormant until the bird gets stressed. This can affect my other birds and make them sick, so it's best to play by the rules and quarantine the little one for 30 days.
I'm pretty excited and I'll keep ya'll posted.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Blueberry Lemonade Oat muffins

Today is my son's 14th birthday and I'm amazed at how time will fly by without a care in the world. One day you wake up and that little itty bitty baby now has a man voice (kinda) and is almost as tall as me, and I'm tall! 
He had a friend over to play video games most of the night, but I was pretty surprised when they conked out at around midnight. 
My son loves to have people over night and the more the merrier. But, that means I get to cook breakfast for a bunch of teenage boys. 
I wanted to try something other than my go to pancakes and I had a bunch of blueberries in the freezer, so I thought I would wow them with my muffin skills. (not).
It's a super easy recipe with the muffins being light and tasty. I had some lemonade (the fresh stuff) in the fridge I needed to use up so I thought I would try it in this recipe. I love lemon and blueberry together and adding the lemonade gave a nice amount of flavor and kick of lemon at the end of the bite. The oatmeal gave  the right amount of texture. 

Blueberry Lemonade Oat muffins
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup lemonade
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries.
For the topping
1 Tablespoon turbinado sugar
1 Teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a 12 cup muffin pan by lightly spraying with non-stick spray.
In a small bowl, combine the oats and the lemonade and set aside.
In a medium bowl combine flour, 1/2 cup sugar, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Whisk those together and set aside.
In another medium bowl mix the oil  and egg together.
Add the combined egg and oil mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well. The batter will be dry looking but keep mixing until it's mixed together.
Once the egg, oil and the dry ingredients are mixed well, add the combined lemonade and cooking oats and mix together. 
Gently fold in your blueberries.
Fill the muffin pan cups 2/3 full. There should be enough batter for 12 muffins. In a small bowl, combine turbinado sugar and cinnamon. (or regular sugar but turbinado gives more of a crunch) Sprinkle onto the muffins. 
Bake muffins for 18- 20 minutes or when a toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean.
Let cool for a few minutes.
Dig in!

My son said they were "delicious"! (no prodding from me, he said it all on his own) and he and his friend gobbled them all down.
A success and better than pancakes!
Although, I can make a mean pancake.

(Recipe slightly adapted from Allrecipes)

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Happy Fourth Of July!

Hope everyone had an exciting and happy 4th of July!

 We had a lot of fun in my neck of the woods, with a friend and his kids, over at our home. We didn't buy fireworks this year since I'm such a cheapy and didn't want to spend money on something I'll burn up. My dogs freak out, so I usually spend the evening and the rest of the night under a cocker spaniel and a golden retriever, since they insist on climbing on me when the booms start. Anyhoo, we decided to take the money that we would normally spend on fireworks every year and divide it up three ways, then each of us could do what we wanted with the "fireworks" money. If one of us wanted to buy fireworks, we could. But, each of us decided to do something else with it. Our friends had some fireworks they purchased and decided to light them off in our neighborhood. Which was a lot of fun despite the fact we were fourth of July scrooges.

Our neighborhood usually has a ton of fireworks up and down the the street but this year, it seemed folks were out of town since it was a lot quieter.

 AND, my sons birthday is coming up, he'll be 14 on the 8th, so we celebrate his birthday on the 8th and on the 4th. He gets two birthdays!
Per his request he wanted a chocolate oreo cookie cake so I came up with this and it was delicious! Actually, this was mostly his idea.

We don't care for the thick frostings on cakes so I usually use Cool Whip. Have you ever tried it? I won't go back to regular frosting.
 For this cake, we made a devils food chocolate box cake and added crushed up oreos to the whip. We used two sleeves of the cookies and crushed them really well then added it to the Cool Whip. It's gets pretty  messy but, I love to play with mah food. So..there ya have it. 
Frost that cake just like you would with regular frosting.
Top it off with a few oreos. Refrigerate until you want to eat that bad boy.
It was deeee licious!

 My husband took off Thursday so it gave him an extra long weekend but I put him to work.
We've been debating about putting trees up on the hill behind our house or a fence for privacy reasons. A fence was going to cost a lot more than some fast growing trees, so, we picked the trees.

Here in the Northwest, the dirt is really hard and clay like, it's called hardpan and it can be about as hard as concrete. My husband is digging holes in this stuff. I tried, but the incline is close to 45 degrees and the dirt is so hard, my knees and ankles couldn't do it. My hubby is a runner and a cyclist so this was not problem for him. I'm a big baby.
And NOT only can he dig holes in horrible dirt at a 45 degree angle, but he can make one of the best apple pies on earth.

Kid. You. Not. 
The best. ON. EARTH.
I do have to interject that my son and I peeled the apples and sliced them. 

Did ya BBQ? I think that's the thing to do on the fourth since everybody's grill was fired up. After we ate we played a fun Star Wars Saga role playing game.

Our friend, who's a genius and a geek through and through (think of Sheldon on  Big Bang, give him a funny personality and that's our friend (and he has six kids) ) he was the Game Master and had created this particular game. 
So much fun. 

We all ended the night with a bang!! It was a great time.

Hope everyone had a safe and happy fourth of July!