Friday, October 28, 2016

If You Walk With Me...

You might notice I take a ton of pictures - even when I don't know I am taking pictures. I didn't even know I took the picture above- total accident, but I like it. Every walk starts with a step out the door, right? 

You might notice I need new shoes. Looks like I will be shopping soon - my little toes are about to fall out on both shoes. Funny how I wear them all the time and didn't notice until today. 
We might walk through this neighborhood at lunchtime. Beautiful historic homes of all styles. I especially love all the mature trees new neighborhoods lack. 

You might spot fun Halloween decorations. 

You might become obsessed with street markings. I don't understand them all, but I found today's particularly colorful.

First time I have seen pink.

You might also notice my obsession with manhole covers. 
You might enjoy the colors of fall flowers and berries. These orange berries make a stunning shrub. 

You might play hide and seek with the squirrels.

I hope you enjoyed our virtual walk. Truth is I feel like I walk with you every time because I am always looking for things to share. I ended up walking 40 minutes at lunch because I was so engrossed.

On an unrelated note I found these trick or treat pails a bit disturbing. What do you think?

We always used grocery bags as kids. I was looking for a pumpkin pail when I spotted these. No pumpkins in sight. Then we went to a party tonight and they gave our small fry a pail she will use :) 

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)?