Monday, October 24, 2016

(H)Owl Fest

It was a pretty busy weekend in our world. Saturday morning we began an adventure that I will share later this week - it totally deserves a post of its own :)

Friday night was the end of the high school football season :(  Saturday afternoon we went to a local wildlife rehabilitation center for Owl Fest (or Howl Fest) as our small fry says (makes me laugh every time).
I am seriously deficient in selfie taking skills. Can I blame it on this big ol' head, the super bright sun and the horrible glare on my phone. Obviously, my owl friend does NOT have my squinting problem either.
As one might expect, there were many owls on display. Several of the birds at the rehab center have become permanent residents due to injuries that prevent them from being released back to the wild. Many of the birds are used in educational programs. This barred owl is a perfect example. He has a broken wing that prevents him from flying. What you don't see in this picture is that our little sidekick was standing about 5 inches from the owl. He didn't mind at all. Appropriately, his name is Chill.
We saw owls of all shapes and sizes.
The muted colors on this barn own were simply beautiful.
I don't think it is possible for Great Horned Owls to look friendly.
This poor guy was in Owl Jail (actually more of a hospital room). . He is expected to fully recover from his current condition and therefore should be released - the cage is meant to minimize human contact.

In addition to the owls, there are many other birds of prey living at the center both permanently and in various stages of rehab. I saw at least five bald eagles.
This osprey did not seem to be a fan of all the people. In general, ospreys don't do well in captivity because they are very picky eaters - fish only.

This is "Ed" the resident pelican who apparently loves to look at himself in the mirror. He also, has a companion with whom they say he gets along with quite well - until fish are involved.

There was a whole cage of baby squirrels who looked about ready to be released. Hopefully, they can get their acorns together before winter.
Saturday evening we spent some time around the fire at the farm. I would like to say Millie is hanging out with my husband, but in truth she is hanging out with his hotdogs.

I love how my MIL can turn anything into something fun. This half ripened pumpkin is not jack-o-lantern material, but certainly won't be left out.
Sunday we had a relaxing afternoon at home. I had bought some chicken legs on sale (69 cents a pound). I have only grilled legs once before and remembered this recipe to brine them before grilling.  I used my own BBQ sauce "recipe." The brine is supposed to keep the meat extra juicy...I trust you Tyler Florence.
 I soaked the chicken for about 2 hours in water, salt, brown sugar, garlic and thyme.
Honestly the chicken was good with just the brine flavors, but since it was football Sunday I decided to make them like wings. On the left, are legs I just dipped in bottled wing sauce and placed back on the grill to char a bit. The legs on the left are coated with my "not-so-secret" BBQ sauce recipe (Kraft Spicy Honey BBQ sauce with chopped cilantro and grated jalapeno added by me). I am a bit "meh" about wing sauce, but the BBQ legs were perfection - spicy, sweet, sticky. I am not sure I will ever go back to wings. The legs were way more economical and the grilling flavor was better than the oven.
After a good lunch, I got to work on one of my Christmas projects - homemade vanilla extract. I have been plotting this since I received the best vanilla (ever) last year from a friend. And I am pretty impressed that it isn't even the end of October and I am already on preparation  I ordered the vanilla beans and bottles on Amazon. I had to go to the store for the colossal bottle of vodka. Of course, I ran into one of my husband's co-workers. I resisted the need to tell her why I was buying it.
The beans smelled divine. I wanted to stay them under my pillow and dream the sweetest of dreams.
I cut the beans in thirds and dropped them in the bottles. The bottles were a bit bigger than I anticipated. I am hoping I added enough beans. If not, I should know well before Christmas and can order a few more beans. Again, I have to say how impressed I am that I have this finished already. Truth is I will probably be printing labels the night before Christmas...
Capped and ready to hide out in the closet for the next two months. I have a small confession I have never tasted vodka. I had about a half a cup left and debated about trying it, but in the end I just threw it away cause I figured I would not like it. In retrospect, I could kick myself. I could have used that half cup to try some lemon extract. Oh well, there are always more trips to Walmart to be made.
I wish I could say there is more progress in the weight loss area, but at this point I am feeling much like Dora's friend The Big Red Chicken (although he didn't seem to mind weighing more than an elephant.)
Oh wait. there was a small victory or two this weekend. My sidekick and I went to a bakery on Saturday morning and I brought home a cookie and a brownie. When I tasted the brownie later it was not nearly as delicious as I thought it would be. So after two bites I threw it away (even though I had paid $3.50 for it.)  Let me say that again - I threw away a brownie!!

We also made chocolate chip cookies because we were making a chocolate cookie cake for someone. I baked up the rest of the cookie dough and we gave half the cookies to the neighbor and half to my father-in-law. Full disclosure - we did eat a couple before we divided them in half, but it kept me from eating 3 1/2 dozen cookies.

I put those two moments in the win column. I am hoping to add a Wednesday lunch walk to my win column...stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Random New Things

Because I am generally a sucker for trying new things (not because of an unfulfilled pumpkin spice obsession) I picked up this box of Pumpkin Spice Cheerios. I have had them for about two weeks and have yet to try a bowl. I sampled a couple dry Cheerios and thought they must be better with milk, but they still sit atop the fridge. The other night my poor husband thought they were Honey Nut Cheerios...disappointment. I am a bit turned off by the strong clove smell. I need to try them or move on, I will let you know.
Now these are what I really wish I had in the house. I have resisted them several times in the store. Crunch Berries are kinda my thing and I need to leave them at the store :(
I noticed these in the store awhile back, but have been turned off by the price - almost $4 for three packets. The other day I threw budget to the wind and picked them up.
It was a nice is hard not to like cheddar, cashews and raisins. I am not sure if they are the most satisfying snack because I actually ate them as part of my lunch. I have two more packets to experiment with.
I found these at Aldi the other day. I forgot until after I bought them that I am not a big fan of freeze dried strawberries in cereal (like Special K). They weren't bad though on their own. However, I much prefer the peach. The whole bag is one serving (130-150 calories), but it only weighs 1.2 oz so it isn't filling anyone up. I will say one or two pieces of the peach is pretty satisfying. They were $3 a bag so it is a good thing I can make them last.
We ate at a little Cuban place last week. I have had their sandwiches and street tacos before. Last time we were there, I heard another customer raving about the salmon and the Cuban of course, I had to try it. It was very tasty. Even my non-fish eater husband kept stealing bites from my plate.
The farmer's market is starting to close down, but not before putting all the squash and gourds on display :)
There was also an adjoining craft/yard sale at the market last Saturday. I am a bit in love with the birds.
I had to laugh when I saw this guy. Engelbert Humperdinck is my husband's go-to alias. It is an unforgettable name. I tried to take a selfie with him, but I failed. Maybe I should try listening to some of his music.
And because this post is a bit random already, I am including my favorite thing that has come home from pre-school. We have been hearing plenty about fire safety this week :)
 Finally - T-bone - need I say more?
Have you tried anything new lately you can recommend (or warn against)?

Sunday, October 16, 2016

His & Hers

Today was the day. We haven't made homemade pizza in a long time and even longer since we have made grilled pizza. While my husband was working extra hours on Saturday I picked up all the must have ingredients for our homemade pizza. There are two main things I like about making our own pizza - controlling the amount of toppings on the pizza and that we can each customize our own pizza. Our toppings when we order pizza are pretty much locked in depending on where we order from. Our top three pizza places:  1) sausage, pepperoni, green olives  2) sausage, jalapeno and 3) pepperoni, pineapple.

However, when we make it we go crazy with toppings. My husband's homemade pizza must haves.
I am a little less loyal to particular toppings. Today, I was feeling a veggie pizza. There is no chance I am getting spinach, mushrooms or fresh mozzarella on a pizza we would share, much less all three.
 We start with a simple yeast dough. We like this recipe.
To be sure the dough cooks through we pre-cook it on one side. I love watching the crust bubble up on the hot grill.
Grilled side up it is time to load the toppings. I highly recommend being sure that everything is in place so you can move quickly. My husband it trying to decide which crust is bigger ;)
 Loading them up!
 Back on the grill. We precooked the peppers a bit first because it doesn't take long at all for the crust to finish and the cheese to melt...not quite enough time to cook all the veggies if you load the toppings like we tend to do.
 Ready for our pizza feast.
 And a close up of my pizza. They say you eat with your eyes first...definitely!
The pizza was perfect. I can't get enough of the crust - crispy, soft and chewy all at the same time. Sometimes, I worry that I will miss a particular topping or not like the combo. But honestly, that rarely happens. I debated throwing on some pepperoni, but I am SO glad I didn't.

After a post pizza snooze, I managed to get my hiney out for a 45 minute walk. There was some serious debating about taking the shorter route and doubling the loop. I didn't trust myself to not cut it short, so I went the long (with no available shortcuts).

I saw these faces in the window as I left the yard. I think the one on the left was especially disappointed to be left behind.

 Perfect time of day for long shadow legs.
Here comes the color. There are some of the most gorgeous fall trees in our neighborhood.
Of course, there are plenty of fall and Halloween decorations. I particularly liked the slightly see-through ghosts. I might have to do a little Googling to find some of my own :)
I am wondering about this little swing(?)  I wonder how long I could sit in it before being chased off.

 I wonder if he is stuck.
 Someone is enjoying their pavement marking job :)
 A bit of summer is still hanging on. It is actually supposed to be 90 degrees tomorrow...ugh.

When I made the turn for home, I noticed a guy standing in the street.  It looked like he was taking a picture. I will be honest, at first I didn't recognize him...creeper?  I was trying to figure out if he was taking a picture and if so, of what. And then I realized it was my husband. (Confession - I made him pose for me so I could get a picture. I certainly didn't take this while I still thought he was some sort of creeper.)
It was so nice to have my guy come out to meet me and walk me home the last couple of blocks. I am definitely glad I took the walk. I was definitely motivated by this blog. I told my husband I wanted to walk because I wanted to write about something other than the pizza :)
All in all, it was a good Sunday. Millie wasn't the only one relaxing and watching football. Go Lions (or whoever is playing the Rams)!!
On a completely unrelated note...I bought my first Christmas ornament of the 2016 season last weekend. It is hand painted. I like the texture.
I hope you all had a good weekend. What is on your agenda this week?