Thursday, March 31, 2011

Clean House!

...for the chickens anyway, lol.

video

They got an entirely fresh load of Pine Shavings (mainly because we bought a gigantic bag at the feed store (filled a 45-gallon trash can) and it was super cheap), I raised the water up by stacking it on top of an overturned Dog Dish (metal), moved the roost stick to a new location (no more chick bums hanging over the water while they eat!), relocated the feather duster, and added some "fresh" sand to the sand box!  They especially appreciated the sand though, lol.  They didn't care that it was still wet (open bag and none of it even dried a little)!  I was rewarded for my efforts with happy chirping and flying sand, lol.

On the Hunt for Low Carb Snacks...

Lunch!

As I sat down to eat my lunch today (Tuna Melt in Tomato halves), I was looking for good snack and meal ideas that are also low carb.  Not that low carb food is all that hard to make, at least for me.  I like to keep things simple most of the time, today's lunch was a handful of ingredients and took all of 5 minutes to make, most of which was spent cutting pickles, lol.  That first picture is what my lunch looked like before I made it "more edible", lol.  I also added a little Salt & pepper along with some dehydrated minced Onion (this Toss on top of the tuna while I dice my pickles to sort of "rehydrate" in the juices in the meat).  I only buy Best Foods Mayo (Hellman's for anyone on the east coast, same company...different name by region) because it has the fewest carbs (and plainest ingredients)...besides it just tastes good!  The pickles aren't nearly as good as the last jar I had, but they were Nalley brand and these are Vlasic, nothing bad about these, I just prefer the flavor of the other.  I'll buy whatever I can get my hands on though!  Sugar Free sweet pickles?!?  Where were these when I was a kid and they took away my sweet pickles because I was Diabetic?  "Back then" it was a treat to get one tiny sweet pickle at Thanksgiving!  I've been munching on these guys like they're going out of style the last few weeks, hence getting out the second jar!  Tuna I'm not too picky about, as long as it's "Light" or "White".  I don't care for the Albacore or whatever they call the "darker" tuna and oil-packed makes me want to yarf, lol.  Although, oil-packed is supposed to be better for us low-carbers... I just can't make that switch! 

Cheese though...mmm...cheese (think Homer and his Donuts here)!  I grew up in Oregon and as long as you don't adhere to Wisconsin's claim as the cheese capitol of the world....there is nothing better than Tillamook cheese!  If you're ever anywhere near Tillamook, OR...take the time to visit the facilities and take the tour!  I went with my little sister several years ago, it was supposed to be a big vacation to the coast with my Cousin (really she's my Dad's cousin...my parent's age), my Mother, Grandmother, and Aunt (my cousin's Mother, so my Great Aunt), but my Grandmother got sick and we ended up spending our entire vacation in Portland (where they all lived) instead and the two of us made a day trip to the Oregon coast (Newport, Seaside, the works!) and stopped at the Tillamook Cheese Factory for a tour on the way to the beach (a 1-2 hour drive from the city).  You get to see them making the cheese and I believe (though it has been a very long time) milk the cows.  You are on the actual ranch were the cows are...so be prepared for "cow smell" when you step out of your vehicle!  Anyway, the tour ends in the gift shop.  Make sure to pick up some fun gifts if you go!  We got a fridge magnet for my Mother that looks like a brick of cheese!  Also, they have cheese samples there, you'll want to try the cheeses you just saw being made, cut, packaged, and labeled for sale!  And pick up a few pounds of cheese while you're there too!  Or, ya know...go to the local grocery store and just buy some.   We get our shredded cheese nearly in bulk when it goes on sale (which it has done recently a few times) at Fred Meyer, they put out a coupon usually about once a month in the Sunday paper for Tillamook shredded cheese 10 for $10!  I almost never pass this coupon up...that's why I have 15 bags of shredded cheese (10-12 of which are in my box freezer)!  When I can't afford Tillamook (the bricks can be a little spendy), I buy Bandon cheese...oddly enough, this is also owned by Tillamook!

Non-Food Item...

Before I get into what I found but haven't purchased any of yet...I got this fun new toy yesterday too!  Normally, I just buy a cheap baby bottle brush to get inside the Thermos, scrub tall glasses, etc...but after looking at this scrubber by Dawn...I decided to pay the extra $0.70 or so and give it a try.  You just push the scrubber down into the glass (or whatever) and as you push down, the handle spins doing all the scrubbing for you!  I broke my bottle brush quite a while ago and have had a Thermos sitting full of soapy water ever since waiting for me to remember to buy a new one (gross I know...I changed the water daily though...).  I was finally able to clean it though and boy am I happy with the job it did!  I think that the Thermos is cleaner than it's ever been!  It does spray water everywhere though...so stand back!

Items to Try...

All I did was go to Amazon.com and type in "sugar free", then I did a few searches for "low carb"...but for the most part, these all came off the sugar free search.  The first thing that popped up was an amazing treat for this house!  Sugar Free Oreos?!?  It can't be!  Of course, the carb count on them is a little steep at 3g Net carb per cookie!  They're also a little spendy ($8+ at Amazon), but I found them cheaper at Netrition ($3.50, plus shipping), so I'll order them from there when I do order them.  I'll save these for a special occasion though... you only get "about 16" cookies for that price...so $4.95 for UPS shipping to my zip code, plus $3.49 for the cookies....divided by 16 cookies...makes the cookies cost $0.53 each!  It could be worse, but I think I'll save them for a birthday or Christmas, lol.  By then we should be able to "afford" a few extra carbs now and then.

I already have my second bottle of this stuff opened, but it is definitely worth mentioning!  I didn't think Id ever see Honey again when I decided to go back to Low carb eating!  Yet, there it was!  I had seen it called for in recipes and after a complete failure at trying to make low carb, sugar free caramels, I was on a mission to find this.  I figured it had gone the way of most low carb items that were on the market 5+ years ago, but after much "Googling" and searching through people's comments in threads about it, I saw a semi-recent post (it was under a year old) on a forum that said that their local Wal-Mart carried it!  Woot!  I rushed right out (at 10pm) and drove the few miles to my local Wal-Mart!  There it was, nestled amid the regular Honey!  It isn't priced too bad either, right around $2, just like the "regular" kind!  It tastes "like" honey, but it is sure not "exactly like" it!  It is excellent though in a nice hot cup of Earl Grey with just a touch of Cream added to it!  Earl Grey is a recently acquired taste, I never could stand the stuff growing up, I thought my Mother was nuts for drinking it, lol.  Yup...showing my age now!  I swiped the picture off of Honey Tree's website, the pictures I took of my score are blurry and sort of "blah" looking, lol.

They sell large packages of these at the WinCo near my house (50 in a package!), but I haven't had the nerve to try them yet!  Strictly speaking, Whole Wheat is not a food that should be in our diets just yet.  But, if/when I think we "need" a Taco night...I'll get a package of these!  The large package is "on sale" for $5.98...12 cents and 3g Net carbs each!  We could have one "taco" and seconds could be on a bowl, lol.  I haven't read through the entire company website, but they appear to know what they're doing in all things "low carb tortilla" wise, lol.






Gifts for the Low-Carbers....
 I was going to suggest a book...but after reading through the "look inside" pages, I'm glad I did!  Normally the "for Dummies" books are pretty good, but the Low carb book is just another persons version of what low carb is.  I know, I know, they all are...but I have found that the first low carb diet I was following just wasn't working for me this round (last time I lost 30-45 lbs in under 6 months, but I went off the diet and now weigh much more than I did then).  I was "Somersizing", but it seems even the creator if that plan has "fallen off the wagon" and changed her own diet to suit her (I'm talking about Suzanne Somers...the Blond from Three's Company).  She does have a similar low carb eating plan out now (with a new book to boot), but it is specifically for women over 40, I'm not there yet, lol.

I have switched to following Atkins' diet...it is a little less strict with the foods you can and cannot eat (I got to add Olives, Pumpkin, nuts, and coconut back into my diet).  It does require you keep track and limit yourself to a total number of carbs each day, Induction (phase 1) is 20g Net carbs.  As of yesterday, I'm down 22.6 pounds total since I started low carbing in October!  Other people have lost as much as 30 lbs in the first month, I'm jealous of those people, lol.  The only thing I don't follow according to the Atkins' plan is the Cream and Splenda (or other sweetener) guidelines.  I like cream in my morning coffee (and more than the 2 T a day you're allowed), I usually have several cups!  Also, you are supposed to limit Sweetener to 3 packets...that's a grand total of 1 Tablespoon a day!  So, I don't follow that part...I'm still loosing!

Instead of wasting money on that "for Dummies" book...get a good one, the new Atkins' book!  First though, if you want to try it or are already low carbing and haven't so yet...go to this website and order your "starter kit" (it's free and comes with a little recipe book, and 3 of the Atkins' snack bars!), and while you're there, download the $3 off coupon for the book!  Just remember to send the coupon in (it's a rebate type deal)...we forgot too, it's being used as the bookmark in the book, lol.

I did find a sort of cool gift idea on Amazon, though I can't figure out just who the seller is...I need to do some research on the Brand name here.  A cooler packed full of meat!  The description claims that it's all low carb, but I'm suspicious of it until I get a look at the ingredients and nutritional info.  They had several "gift pack" sizes listed, ranging from around $40 to $200!  The "20-piece" pictured was for $60, but it does come in that snazzy 6-pack cooler, lol.  This is not cheap meat!  I went to the website list on the cooler (or here) and a 1.25 lb "slab" of 30 (1/2 slab) servings (1g Carb each serving) was $28!  Yep, not something I'll buy myself, lol.  This does give me an idea for a "do-it-yourself" gift basket though...just using less expensive packages I can find locally!  I bet one or two of the local butchers sell similar products...  Also, while the website appears to have lots of "low carb" choices, in a small box when I clicked the nutritional link to the slab of jerky was a little note that they carry X number of low carb options...with instructions to follow a link to see them.  Oh well, the idea is still a good one!

That's pretty much all I found that was truly low carb...Dreamfields pasta claims to be low carb...but I need to do a little looking to see what they consider to be "protected carbs", the nutritional info for their Angel Hair pasta says that each serving has 41g total carbs, 5g Fiber (you subtract these out), and 31g of "protected carbs" (and they subtracted those too)...leaving each serving with 5g Net carbs.  Looks to me like 36g net carbs and someones "fancy math" skills at work though...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Catch up Time! (Part 2)

Chicks!

The girls have figured out that the stacking laundry basket that will eventually become their nest box means something yummy their way comes!  This was the look I was getting last night before they saw the treat!

Of course, they thought the treat was even better, lol.  I only give them half a yolk at any given time, because they absolutely stuff themselves with it and then don't eat their "healthy diet" of Chick Starter.  This yolk came out of the 2-day pickled egg I ate that I made using the juice leftover in the last jar of Sugar Free Sweet Gherkins!  I found I prefer "sweet" pickled eggs to the Dill ones!  Who'da thunk it?!?  I don't think I've ever even had them done in sweet juice, but it's the only jar of pickles in the house at the moment, lol.
The other day I was feeling bad about not having given them any "treats" for several days, so I mixed a little Hot Water in their feed and gave them a little bowl of it.  Pandemonium ensued!  They fought over a place to stand and eat and had little tiffs when they couldn't share, lol.  They also cause quite a racket with happy little chirps!  Nothing like the chirping I heard when I got home from my basket weaving class today!  Today they were all in a panic when Gerty figured out how to jump on top of the feeder!  I went running down the stairs to panicked chirps on;y to find her perched atop the feeder looking down at the other two, lol.  I ended up taking the lid off and sitting with them so they could try to jump up onto the lip of the tub (they can't do it consistently, but both Clyde and Gerty have done it).  Most of the time, they fall a little short and only get their head even with the top, but it's fun to watch them try!

The girls have slowly figured out what a bowl full of sand was for (another panicked chirping moment) this week...Gerty was first, but I've caught them all dust bathing since.  And boy is the dust flying now! They are growing new feathers so fast now!  Fluff and dust is everywhere now!  I'm going to have to do a thorough dusting in there this weekend, lol.  But, it is so much fun watching them dig out a hole and then use the feathers at the tips of their wings to throw dirt/sand onto their backs from under their wings!
Gerty, still covered in dirt/sand after her first Dust bath!

Henri getting set for another "hand nap"!

Clyde "posing" while I was trying to get a close pic of her "owie".



Other Stuff...

I mentioned my new obsession with Tuna Salad and other foods earlier... my Tuna for lunch didn't pan out (I had to leave for my class), so instead I had a MiM with a little butter on it and a very small amount of Walden Farms "Raspberry" Jam.  I use the quotes because it doesn't contain enough Raspberry for it to register in the Calories/Carbs/anything!  It does however, taste like a no sugar/no carb/no calorie food...  It was a decent change from nothing though...  I also had a "1-day" pickled egg that I put in the jar last night.  I am already planning a Tuna Melt in Tomato Halves for lunch tomorrow!

The third and final basket in my basket weaving class was finished today the last day of class)!  It's a pretty basket, large and round.  I don't like working with Sea Grass though (the darker colored stuff)...it smells funky and comes apart way too easy!  Also, I think it would look better with using a dyed reed the same size as the rest...but in some fun color, like Purple!  I need to get some reed ordered so I can get to work on the Easter baskets for the boys...I only have a few weeks before they need them!  I may get that ordered this weekend, if not before.



Catch up Time! (Part 1)

I still can't get video off my phone...stupid Zune.  But, I was able (with the help of someone else) to get my Facebook set up right so that I can upload pics to there!  Then, I just copy them to my desktop and then upload to Photobucket, lol.

Where to start?  I have so much catching up to do!   Today is the 8 week (I think) mark until the last frost!  That means it's time to get those Veggie seeds into the starter cells so they're ready to plant next month!  I haven't done that quite yet today, but it is on the "to do" list!  First though, I need to figure out a better solution for setting them up to grow...my youngest cat, Baby (who wouldn't touch the Cat Grass), has decided he really likes to eat Sweet Pea and Morning Glory starts!  Bad kitty...  I should have that all figured out by tomorrow though.

Food Stuffs!

The other day (two nights ago) I didn't really feel like cooking a "bog elaborate" meal, so I made Breakfast for Dinner!  We haven't really been eating breakfast lately, mostly because I'm having a hard time getting up in time to make it.  So, I was really craving Scrambled Eggs!  In the back of the photo, you can kinda see my accidentally "Cajun'd" Pork Sausage Links, I buy Hormel Little Sizzlers, they come pre-formed as links, or patties, but are raw sausage.  I put the whole package in the fridge over night and by morning they are thawed and cook much faster, they can be cooked from frozen, but they take forever!  I keep my Eggs simple...a little cream, Salt (unless I'm using Salted Butter) and Pepper, nothing else in there!  I use a little butter in the pan, and once they're cooked...I add another pat of butter, it's a trick I learned watching the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten, on the Food Network a few years ago...makes pretty glossy eggs, every time!  I know that muffin doesn't look low carb at all, but I promise, it is!  I made a regular MiM (Muffin in a Minute) following the recipe on the Atkins website (3.2, maybe 3.4g Net carbs in a whole muffin!)  After I cooked the MiM (1 minute in the microwave), I split it and tossed it under the broiler to "toast" it up, which really is just drying out to sides.  It had the feel of a lightly toasted piece of bread!  The topping is just Rhubarb, that I made into a sauce kind of like a jam.  I have about 4 gallons of frozen Rhubarb that my Mother brought me last summer and helped me chop into roughly 1" pieces.  My Rhubarb hasn't really done well since we moved here and I haven't been able to get anything off of my 6 plants for the last 3 summers!  Anyway, I filled my smallest sauce pan about 3/4 full of frozen rhubarb and put in enough water to barely cover the bottom of the pan.  Put a lid on t over high heat and let it come to a boil, some stirring required as the Rhubarb thaws.  After it had thawed/boiled, I added a little Splenda (to taste, I think Rhubarb is great with a little bitter coming through), some Cinnamon and Nutmeg (next time I'll leave these out), and just a little Vanilla.  With lots of stirring to break down the Rhubarb into a jam consistency rather than chunks, I turned down the heat and let it simmer while I cooked the sausage.  I moved it to a dish I could cover before I started the eggs.  I topped my MiM with a little Butter and about 1/4 cup of the Rhubarb Sauce (1/2 cup would be 1.7 carbs before factoring n the Splenda, which I ignore)!  And, it's a Foundation Veggie!

I've been on a little bit of a MiM kick, but my true passion this past week has been Tuna Salad!  Actually I've gone a little crazy over the Sugar Free Sweet Gherkins too...  For lunch yesterday, I made a MiM for "bread" and toasted it under the broiler.  Then, I topped it with my own version of Tuna Salad...I wasn't fond of the last one I tried with diced Egg in it...  Mine was a pouch of Tuna (I buy the pouch kind because I can send it in lunch boxes and let my other half mix his own at work), maybe 2 T Mayo (I like my salad a little dry for Melts), and 3 Sweet Gherkins!  I love the sweet pickle taste in Tuna Salad!  I piled it super high on my split MiM, topped it with Swiss Cheese and put it back under the broiler, where I accidentally burnt the MiM trying to get the Cheese to bubble & brown, lol.  It was awesome though and I fully plan to make another in the near future!

My New Phone!

I ended up getting the new Windows phone that Sprint is carrying, the HTC Arrive.  It's a horrible picture (taken with the old cell phone), but you get the idea, lol.  I'm still getting used to it, but I am officially in love with an App for it called "Pic2shop"!  You can scan a barcode by taking a picture of it, or even just by entering the numbers on a barcode!  It searches everything and finds what you're looking for!  But, beware...I found out some things share the same barcode!  I scanned in the bottle of Acrylic paint I used for the photo frames and it came up with a very adult movie (there were three X's on the front...)!  Obviously, after that I was a little put off, so I put the program away and hadn't really played with it since.  But, since today was the last of my basket weaving classes, I wanted to make sure I had the name of an excellent pattern book the instructor had, after taking several pictures of the front so I could look for it when I got home, I tried the scanner app and it found it!  It searched and found it for sale at multiple sites online and it even searched all library databases within 50 miles of me too!  I'm very impressed!  I'll be buying the book this evening from Amazon for $0.32 plus $3.99 shipping!  Talk about a steal of a book!  But, back to the new phone. It took me several days and finally asking for help because the manual said that I should be able to just "click the button to upload to Facebook" (for pictures), but they failed to mention how and/or where you needed to set up Facebook!  I already had a Facebook app installed, I didn't know I needed two of them, lol. 
Since we went to a "phone event" at the Sprint store in the mall, I was supposed to spin a wheel to get a "prize" for buying a phone...but the manager let me choose my prize instead, lol.  So, I got a free $25 Bluetooth headset to go with my new phone!  It isn't much and the sound quality on the "other end" of the phone isn't great according to my other half, but on my end it's great.  The whole thing is about the size of a Nickel too, so it isn't a big heavy headset either...my last one was and it eventually fell into a bunch of little pieces because it fell off me constantly!  This one has a little clip that can go on it, but it holds pretty well without it too.

Insurance is a GOOD thing!


I had to go and get one of my Insulin prescriptions today, my Lantus (long acting that I take 89 units a day of).  With our insurance, we pay $65 for a one month supply (I use a pen system so my insulin comes in prefilled cartridges with 300 units per "pen" and 5 pens in a box...so that's 2 boxes, 10 pens for a month).  I love the "Your Insurance Saved You..." at the bottom of the info sheets!  I "saved" $444.19 on this prescription!  If I were to fill my Humalog (the short acting insulin) prescription, it's also $65 and I "save" something like $900 and change!  Of course, with switching to a low carb diet, I'm still working on the first box of the prescription that I got in mid-January (and on that one I get 4 boxes, or 20 pens)!  Yup, I love my insurance company!  It also doesn't hurt that it's where my other half is employed too, lol.  That's why we have the "good" insurance!

Plant Life...


I have three hanging planters now hanging around my living room!  I have already planted my Morning Glory seedlings in the planters they'll go outside in, they were getting a bit "tall" for the seed starter cells, lol.  However, my cat decided he likes to chew on the Morning Glory's!  He topped 2 of the 14 of them!  I guess he prefers the Sweet Peas though, since he topped every last one of them and didn't spit them out like he did the Morning Glory!  My third planter, pictured to the right, is a Pothos I bought at Wal-Mart 3-4 weeks ago.  I haven't had a Pothos for years!  The last Pothos I had anything to do with were gigantic and had overgrown the windows they lived in..I also accidentally killed them when I moved, lol.  This little one though, is doing great!  There are new roots digging in and it hasn't turned brown yet!  Ha! 

Shopping and Weight Loss

I usually only weigh myself on Fridays, I started low carbing it on a Friday, so that way my weights are all 7 days apart, rather than just taking the "low" for the week...it keeps me honest, lol.  But, I do occasionally weigh myself during the week to see where I'm at.  That's what I did this morning and I actually had to weigh myself twice to make sure I wasn't seeing things!  I'm down 22.6 lbs from my starting weight in October!  My first "mini goal" is 25 lbs. and my reward for that is "something pretty" that I want, lol.  I don't want to get clothes, because they won't fit after long enough and I don't really wear much jewelry (necklaces occasionally).  At the moment that's mostly due to one of my earring holes completely closing up...I need to get it re pierced!  So, while I was doing a little shopping today...I looked at things I might like to get myself...  These plastic chairs are what I came up with!  They're Adirondack style chairs in nice bright (yet pale) Easter colors (Yellow, Blue, and Pink)!  I'd really like to get one of each, but I'll settle for 2 of them, lol.  I think I'll end up with a Pink and a Blue, but I really like the Yellow too...  They also have them in Dark Green and I think Black (could have been dark Brown), but they are priced at $30 a chair instead!  Happy colors work for me, lol.



Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sorry!

I've been trying to figure out how to get the pictures and videos off my new cell phone!  I hope for a nice long update this evening!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Food 'n Stuff

Pork Chops, Green Beans, & Bacon!
A favorite meal around our house is Pork Chops...they're pretty hard to screw up and only take a few minutes to cook!  So, last night, I got out the two 3" thick boneless Pork Chops I bought last week (I get mine at the meat counter in Fred Meyer, they way thicker than what they sell prepackaged!), sliced them in half to make four 1.5" thick chops and sprinkled them with a little Mrs Dash.  I picked up a new (to me) flavor the other day as well, Caribbean Citrus!  Then, I heated my favorite frying pan (the only one we own that isn't warped) and put a little EVOO and butter in the pan.  When hot, I tossed in the chops, seasoned side down, and topped them with another good sprinkle of the Mrs Dash.  While they started cooking, I filled the small sauce pot with water and tossed in about 1 cup of green beans (Cut, and just enough for the two of us to each have about half a cup).  After a few minutes (4-5 maybe), I flipped the pork.  I wait until most of the top side is white (not pink) before I flip them, that way the first side has a nice golden brown crisp to it.  Another few minutes and they were done (I usually flip them around a few times while the other side cooks to even out the browning)!  To the heated up green beans, after straining, I added a large handful of bacon bits (I bought a bag of "Real Bacon Recipe Pieces") and tossed them together and put it back on the hot burner to help "crisp up" the bacon, since it appeared to be mostly fat.  Once I was happy with the look and smell of my green beans, I added a little pat of butter (1-2 teaspoons) and set it on the now turned off burner to melt the butter.  Another good toss to coat and the beans were ready too!  Total cook time was maybe 15 minutes...like I said, fast and easy meal!  This is half the reason it's a favorite...  What you can't see in the photo is the puddle of juices from the chops!  When I cut into mine, liquid literally ran out!  Which, I just "dip" my bites of meat into as I eat, to soak up all the yummy flavor!  I was completely stuffed after this dinner!  (But, before we went to bed, some 6 hours after dinner, we finished our evening off with an Atkins' shake before bed.  That was a long time after dinner!)

Coffee Table Book!
Yesterday morning/afternoon, we went to the mall to talk to the people at the Sprint store about new phones, my poor Palm Pre is getting ready to give up the ghost again.  We did find out they are having an "event" tonight, so are going back at 6pm to most likely get me a new phone, the new Windows phone that Sprint carries...the HTC Arrive.  I have an accessory picked out that I want, but I also need a bluetooth headset (my hand-me0down one broke over a year ago)...we'll see what they're offering on their "wheel spin", lol.

Anyhow, while we were at the mall, we went to Barnes & Noble to browse and I broke down and got a "coffee table" style book...big, with lots of pictures!  Extraordinary Chickens was in the "bargain books" section, and has been there for nearly 2 months with none of them being sold, as far as I could tell.  So, for $7.98 (minus our member discount, so just barely over $7), I picked up one!  I've looked through it at the store before...I really enjoy all the crazy looking chickens!  The cover is a White Frizzled Polish, awesome looking little birds (they fit in the bantam category)!  The white dot in it's mouth though is just the glare from the flash.


Henri taking a moment to pose.
 My girls are getting bigger every day!  And, as they get older, they are getting used to being handled more and have either decided they like it or are just resigned to the fact that it will happen whether they want it to or not, lol.  As their "big girl" feathers are coming in, each one's individual pattern is starting to show more and more!  Gerty (the Plymouth Barred Rock) has alternating bands of black & white on each feather, the other two are still looking pretty mottled, but they will all be black & white when they have all the adult feathers in a few months!  Henri has a little more white on her wings right now, and I suspect (since she has the light streak down her back) that she will end up with more white than Clyde.

Painted & awaiting chalk "primer"!
Last night was a busy night!  I also finished painting the picture frames I'm giving three of my nephews!  I had to do some touch up work on the trims after making a big mess with the chalkboard paint!  I let the paint dry over night, then I brought them up stairs (where our sidewalk chalk lives) and gave them a good rub down with the chalk (like the paint directions say to) before I wrote a little "Happy Easter" message on each board.  They are now ready to go in the Easter baskets (that I will hopefully have done by then)!  I also want to attach a small piece of ribbon to the backs so they can be hung up...they came with a little wooden rod, but I think it would be easier to play with if they could take them down to draw on them!

Boiling Rhubarb!
Today has been less busy, most of it spent playing Dragon Age and World of Warcraft...but I did get a "cooking bug" and decided to try a sugar free "Rhubarb Sauce".  I had a sweet tooth and wanted to give it a try, since Rhubarb is technically a vegetable and allowed on Atkins, even better!  All I did was put 2 cups (frozen, pre-cut) of Rhubarb into a pot with about 1/4 cup of water, with 2 T Splenda, a dash of Cinnamon (I keep mine in a baby food jar and just shake a little out), half as much Nutmeg as Cinnamon, and a splash of Vanilla (I use Madagascar Pure Vanilla from Costco).  Bring to a boil, stir the heck out of it to break up the rhubarb pieces, and wait for it to thicken a little!  I didn't think it was quite sweet enough, so when it was done, I poured a little imitation Honey over the top and stirred it in before I ate it.  YUM!  This time around, I just ate it with a spoon, but it would be awesome on top of homemade (sugar free, low carb) Ice Cream or under a little fresh made whipped cream!  Or better yet, sandwiched between to the two!  Now I'm hungry again, lol.
Dish of vegetabley goodness!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Chicks & Movie Night!


I was trying to get her left side, lol.

Clyde prefers everyone see this view of her...



We went to see Sucker Punch tonight with a group of my other half's friends.  It was pretty dang good!  But, probably not if you don't like fantasy, steam punk, or watching hot chicks kick some mean guy butt!  I enjoyed it though.  We had a good time and didn't go see a "kid" movie!  We tend to only go for things like Harry Potter, lol.  So, it was nice seeing an adult movie...it was unpleasant though that the theater staff let not one, but two people in with "under 2 footers"!  One cried through the whole thing (parent's refused to leave) and the other one was either crying or running up and down the stairs from the top of the theater to the bottom, with his parent chasing him the whole time!  If you really want to take your kid to a movie, please make it one appropriate for children!
Henri obliging me a picture if I'd let her lay down for a nap!
As for the chicks...I gave them their sandbox today, mostly to get it in the brooder where the heat lamp could help dry out the sand!  They ate a bunch of it, but the finally figured out they shouldn't eat too much, lol.They appreciated the new toy so much, that before I left for the evening, all three of them sat for pictures on my hand!  But, Clyde still won't face me when I'm trying to take her picture, lol.  Gerty loves to pose for the flash!  And Henri was just as happy to cuddle into my cupped hand and take a nap, but she let me take a few snaps as well.

I did some experimenting with new recipes today too.  First, I tried two recipes for lunch...a Tuna Salad recipe and one for a Tuna Melt that uses tomatoes instead of the bread.  I used Swiss cheese (we have three packages of sliced Swiss!) and Roma Tomatoes, because that's what I had handy.  I also just diced up a Sugar Free Sweet Gherkin (I can't find Sugar Free Sweet Relish) and didn't have any Chives, so left them out.  I only made 1/4 of the Tuna Salad recipe (1 pouch of tuna & 1 egg) since it was just for me.  I thought I could have used more tuna & sweet pickle and not used the egg at all...it was a little odd putting an egg in my tuna salad!  But, after broiling until the cheese was nice and bubbly, they tasted great!  I ended up filling 4 tomato halves (cut in half and the centers removed, and fed to the dog), so 4-5g Net Carbs there...but worth it in my opinion!  Besides, I'm still having a hard time getting enough veggies in!  I would have liked it better if the cheese had turned dark on the tops of the "bubbles", but my rack wasn't close enough to the broiler for that.  It did warm the edges of the tomato up and cooked them a bit, but for the most part they stayed pretty cold, which was nice.

For dinner tonight, I made Flatout "pizzas"!  I started with a piece of Flatout flat bread, spread some homemade pizza sauce on (small can of tomato sauce with Italian seasoning mixed in...I blend my own Italian mix, but use what you like...), put on some shredded cheese (I keep mine in the freezer, works great for things that need to bake in the oven) and Pepperoni.  For my pizza, I also diced up a few black olives and a handful of Baby portabella mushroom slices in a "slap chop" type device (I was too lazy to cut them up by hand) and put that layer between the cheese and Pepperonis.  I then sprinkled a little more cheese on top and put them (one at a time) in the oven for 6-8 minutes.  A little high in carbs for the level 1/ level 2 eating we're on right now...but well worth it since we've both been dying for a good, solid pizza!

We got home a little late (for us anyway) from the movie tonight, so when we got in I went to shut off the overhead fluorescent light in the laundry room and check on the girls before we came upstairs for our own "bed time".  All three of them were cuddled up on the stick I put in the coop!  They're learning to roost!  I know, it's just instinct, but I'm excited!  When I added the sandbox today, I move the branch so that it was a little higher off the ground, and they must like it, because they were all up there starting to doze when I opened the door!  They didn't even bother getting up, lol.  They just cheeped at me while I snapped a quick picture, turned off the light, and told them "night night", lol.

L-R:  Henrietta, Clyde, & Gertrude

Thursday, March 24, 2011

New Stuffs!

We went out tonight and did a little shopping!  First, we went to Home Depot (my favorite DIY store) and picked up Play Sand for the chicks to take "dust baths" in...clean chickies, woot!  While I was there, I picked up a staple gun (can you believe I've gone this long without one?) and staples to go with it.  My plan id to get the hardware cloth outside and get the edges that need it attached to the coop so I can start painting!  After the painting is done (on the outside anyway), we can get the wire mesh (we're using 2"x4" and 1/2"x1/2") up and enclose the run!  Then, of course, I need to get a door built so I can get in, lol.

I never knew there was such a large range of staplers to choose from...we got a mid-range one that happens to be the exact kind my Mother has (and I have used before).  It works "backwards" from a normal "cheap" one, but once you get used to it, it works great!

We went with the 3/8" staples...I hope they work, lol!

When we got home, I got the sand opened up (inside a large planter I have) and I got a 12" skillet that I've been saving just for the chickens out to fill up with sand for a "chick sized" dust bath in the brooder.  That tub is sure filling up fast!  Who knew chicks would "need" that much space?  Of course, they don't really need the dust bath or the stick/roost, or even the feather duster for that matter!  But, it does make them happier having things to play with other than each other.  But, the sand was wet inside the bag!  I hadn't expected that, lol.  I was expecting to come home, dump a little sand in a tray and let them have some fun!  I suppose the fun will have to wait a day...  As for the skillet, well...that was a $20 purchase at Ross when we were looking for a nice, large, flat bottomed pan.  It worked great the first time we used it!  I even hand washed the darned thing because it's too big to go in the dishwasher!  But, apparently water somehow got between the layers of metal on the bottom of the pan.  The second time I used it (making a modified version of Chicken Cordon Bleu), when the oil/butter in the pan was nice and hot (and browning my diced chicken), something exploded within the layers of the bottom of the pan, sending it off the stove!  Luckily, I had my hands on both handles when it happened, so it didn't get very far, but it did launch hot grease and raw chicken in my direction!  After that, we dumped the cooking food in another pan, washed this one up and I decided it was going to be the chickens "treat" pan!  This was way back in December or January...long before we had even ordered our chicks, lol.  I'll still use it for their treats when they get bigger, but for now...it's just the right size for dust baths!

I also got a little painting done today...I got the first coat of primary color on the picture frames for the boys, as well as three coats of the chalkboard paint on the fronts of all three!  They look really cool, but need to cure for 24 hours before I can do anything else with them.  Once they've dried and cured, I'll tape of the edges and give the side edges a few more coats of the yellow, red, and blue.  Then, I need to decide what color to paint the fourth one, lol.  I can either paint it the same as one of the ones going to my sister's kids...or do it a completely different color.  I'm still waiting on my other half to decide if he wants to send one to our nephew on his side of the family...  Pics to come when I get them all painted...they look a bit like a 10 year old did them at the moment, lol.  I even have the chalk to go with them!  They're going to make great Easter gifts!

One Week Old...and some Food Stuffs...

What a busy day yesterday was!  The girls are a week old now!  Well, since they were 2-3 days old when I got them, they're just over a week old, but since I don't know the "exact" hatch date, I figure it's easier to go with the day I got them.  Yesterday the temp got lowered in the brooder, it's now 91 degrees (though at the moment, it's registering at 94)...next week I'll lower it to around 85. :)

Yesterday the girls got a few "treats" for the occasion, besides the lowered heat!  First, they got a little diced up egg (even a little white)...this I shared from my lunch of Egg Salad.  I took a little video of them getting the bits of egg, I even chopped up the smallest amount of a Cilantro stems...something them won't get as adults because it'll make the eggs taste "off", lol.

video
Don't mind me talking in the background...Gertrude really likes to grab hold of the healing blood blister on my index finger and see if she can pull it off!  Once I got Gerty moved to the side of my finger that isn't injured (or at least where she can't see anything like a freckle...), things went much smoother!  They only got about 1/4 of an egg, probably less, but they took their time finishing it so I think it was just the right amount!  Somewhere around 1:05, Clyde cleans her beak on the paper towel...I don't know why, but this always amuses the heck out of me!


(L-R) Clyde, Henrietta, & Gertrude!

Last night, I also rearranged their brooder a little.  They've started "flying" around the brooder!  Mostly they just flap their wings really hard and get an inch or two off the ground, but it's so dang cute!  So, I added a roost of sorts for them to play on too.  I went out to the leftover pile of Sumac branches (left by the guy I sold them to) and pulled out a piece that's about an inch thick and short enough to fit inside the brooder box.  They were terrified of it at first, as chickens will be of "new" things, but this morning they were playing all over it!  It's only a half an inch or so above the pine shavings, but they are having a lot of fun playing "Queen of the hill" on it, lol.  They actually knock each other off of it so that they are the only one on it!  The branch is close to 2 feet long, but they all want the same spot, lol.


Henri!

Gerty!

They've all "caught up" growth wise...Henrietta is still a little smaller than the other two, but I'm not as worried about it anymore.  Everyone is growing in wing and tail feathers!

This morning I was able to grab a little video of the girls doing their daily routine...which is pretty much "eat, sleep, poop" still.  But, they have added in flying lessons which are a blast to watch!  I also caught a little "poopy dance" (0:08)!  I was talking about it yesterday at my basket weaving class...all three of them do a little dance when they poo, I don't know if other chickens do it, but mine do!  They hold their wings out a little, fluff them up a bit, and do this little backwards shuffle until the poo comes out!  Then they go back to whatever they were doing prior.  I laugh every time I see them do it!  It also has made things easier to spot who was having the runs...turned out to be nothing to worry about though.  The one I caught in the video isn't nearly as elaborate as they usually are, but funny to see none the less!  Towards the end (1:42 or so), Clyde got in a good "flight", she went from one end of the brooder to the other, crashing into the feeder!  I guess I'm going to have to set up a larger play pen for them somehow, lol.

video

A low carb lunch for 1!  On Wednesday's I have to eat my lunch a little early because I leave for my class when I normally eat.  Egg Salad sounded so good yesterday, so I made a little.  This time around, I used a little Mayo, a little Yellow Mustard, Salt & Pepper, and I added in a little Cilantro (I have a bunch that's starting to turn on me).  It turned out pretty tasty!  I piled my salad mix into a couple of Romaine leaves, which I pulled the ribs off of.  To make little "pockets", I held the tails of the lettuce together with some clothes pins (plastic ones would work better)...it's what I had handy!  To go with the Salad, I had a Milk Chocolate Atkins Shake and one piece each of the Sugar Free York Peppermint Patties and Sugar Free Reese's Peanut Butter Cups!  The whole meal was a whopping 3.5g Net Carbs and I even "snuck in" some Foundation Veggies!

More Veggies at dinner time, but not as many as I could have had...I made Hot Dogs for dinner (Ball Park for my other half and Nathan's for me...both brands are 1g Carb per dog).  To go with mine, I made a fresh Guacamole!  I know it sounds weird, but I discovered this gem of a combo last year (while not low-carbing)!  I had planned on Guacamole Burgers, only to discover we had no hamburgers!  So, I made hot dogs and didn't want to "waste" the Guacamole I had already made.  For the low-carber in me...these will be awesome this Summer on Oopsie Hot Dog buns (which I have yet to make)!  Last night's Guac (as all Guac's in my house turn out a little different) was 1/2 a Haas Avocado, roughly 1/4 c of small diced Roma Tomato, a little Garlic (I buy the big tub of minced at Costco and just reached in for a finger full), Salt & Pepper, more Cilantro (it's going bad, remember?), and a good squirt of Lime juice (maybe 1 teaspoon)!  I mashed it pretty well, so no large chunks of Avocado in this one...I knew I would be using it as a dip rather than a topping.  The picture I took of it was over 30 minutes after I had made it!  Actually, now that I think about it, it sat uncovered in the fridge for more than 30 minutes...  But, it was still a bright green color!  I am now sold on using Lime as opposed to Lemon juice in my Guacamole!  The other half of the avocado is still not browning in my fridge this morning!  No more Lemon in this girl's Guac, that's for sure!

In my basket weaving class yesterday, we started our third basket.  It's pretty, using round reed and Sea grass, but it is taking forever to make!  Good thing we have another week to work on it, lol.  I brought home a little extra material so I could work on it, but I didn't bring home nearly enough to finish it!  I'll take pictures when it's done...I really like the shape of this one...my list of items to buy is getting longer at every class, lol.  I think I may forgo the $40 savings on the microscope for now and get basket making supplies...I really want to get a few baskets done by mid-April!

I need to run to the store again today...we're out of cream and I need some for two dinners this week (Bacon & Pea Carbonara & Mac & Cheese), as well as the morning coffee!  I also want to go to Home Depot and pick up a 50 pound sack of play sand for the chicks...to dust bathe in as well as to start  working on a sandbox for them in the chicken run.  As it is now, the floor of the run is all River Rock...not good for chickens to take a dust bath in!  I'm considering just getting one of those turtle shaped kid's sandboxes...Sears has a little one on their website (not sold in Spokane or surrounding areas) for $24!  It holds 150 pounds of sand...that would be 3 bags (sold at Home Depot for under $4 a bag), that would be a fairly cheap "fix"... and it has a lid so I could cover up the sand when the wind gets to really blowing!  I also need a Staple Gun and staples for the Chicken run...almost time to get the wire mesh up!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Oh, And...

My sister found out (and announced to the world) yesterday that she's pregnant again!  We'll have another nephew around the end of November, first week of December. ;)  Exciting and disappointing all at the same time...

Busy Day!

I received a lovely card yesterday from a gal that works with my other half, it's so cute I had to share!  I got thanked for holding her place in line, even though I would have done it anyway (I was there after all).  The gift card that came inside was unneeded, but highly appreciated!

It also helped get me motivated to start working on my chicken coop again...like the three gals in the laundry room weren't enough incentive, lol.

So, I got outside this afternoon, after another trip out shopping, and I got the final wall up!  Technically, the only wall here is that piece of OSB on the left that has the Orange spray paint on it, the rest is the "people" door, lol.  But, it works!  I attached a 4" wide piece of thinner plywood to the edge of the OSB, so that it lines up with the thicker plywood I used for the door (and the back wall).  That piece of plywood is also what I attached the locking mechanisms for the door to (thicker than anywhere else, so more secure).
There is a bolt-action lock at the top of the door and a hook & eye at the bottom (I had planned on putting a second bolt-action, but nothing is sitting quite "straight" so I couldn't get things to line up).  It takes a little work for the bolt-action to line up, but once it does, it's really secure!  I'm guessing my whole hen house leans to the front a little, because the door swings open very fast!  But, once it's open, it stays that way quite nicely!  I will attach a chain with a small spring-closed clip to hold the door open when I need it to be open though.  I still need to figure out where I'll have the pop door (somewhere on the main door), finish the back wall (the small piece of wood on the right is stuffed behind the longer board and is blocking an opening that runs from the top down and is 8-10" wide), wrap the right hand corners in hardware cloth (added ventilation where my boards didn't line up right), paint the whole thing (inside & out), and get some paneling up on the interior for the roof!  But, they have 4 walls now!

As I mentioned before, I had to do a little shopping today, which included a stop at Cash & Carry!  I normally buy Da Vinci's coffee syrups, but Torani was on sale for a few cents less...and they had some flavors I've been wanting to try anyway!  I got Black Cherry & Mango to make Italian Sodas and Creamosas (Italian soda with a little cream added) out of...great hot weather treats when soda is just too "heavy"!  Then, I got Caramel, Peppermint, and Almond Roca flavors to replace the bottles I have that are running out or extremely low (Praline, Macadamia Nut, Huckleberry, and one or two more)!  I like having options for my morning coffee...  Normally, I buy Peppermint Paddy, which is green and is a mix of Chocolate & Peppermint, but since we still have 2/3 of a bottle of Chocolate, I figured we could mix our own "Paddys".   I highly recommend getting these types of things where the coffee shops buy them...and not at the Grocery stores!  I paid $3.74 a bottle, as opposed to the price tag at Fred Meyer, which is $6.99!  Not only do I save a ton of money this way...but I have a huge flavor selection to choose from, instead of the standard "Vanilla, Hazelnut, or Raspberry" that most groceries carry!  I have to control myself a bit when I do this shopping though...I'd love to have one of every flavor!  I found that my local Cash & Carry (at the end of my street, lucky me) now has Sugar Free Banana flavor!  I plan on getting one of those this summer to go with the Coconut in a Creamosa!  I used to get them at a local coffee shop by my Mother's house with Pineapple, Banana, & Coconut...but that wasn't sugar free!  I suppose I'll "have" to buy a bottle of the Pineapple flavor too!

I did find a flavor that I doubt I will ever spend money on though...Coffee flavor!  I can just imagine what "coffee flavored Coffee" would taste like...  The price tag in that photo is why we normally buy Da Vinci's though...these just happened to be "hot sheeted" today, which is C&C's sale ad (no coupon needed).  Be prepared to spend around $20 though, lol!  My Mother called to tell e about her first trip in alone, after a trip in to the one near her while I was there in February, they spent over $50 stocking up on flavors!  I limit myself to the "staple" flavors (French Vanilla, Peppermint (normally Paddy), & Caramel), but not all at the same time and one or two bottles of "new" flavors.  I almost never buy the same "new" ones in a row, lol.  Blueberry was my most recent try...I wasn't a huge fan though.  It makes a great Blueberry Muffin flavored coffee with a little bit of French Vanilla mixed in, or mixed with Coconut is good too...but it is a very strong flavor, so a little goes a long way!


I found a roll of Tomato Twine today while I was looking for regular Twine.  It's a huge roll with over 800 feet of twine and the only other twine was Sisal twine (way to rough for what I want it for).  So, the boys are going to get to make green twined hanging planters!

I also made a stop at Michael's (it's next to Cash & Carry) and picked up nice wide picture frames for $1 each that I'm going to paint with the Chalkboard paint!  I also got some "craft" paint in Bright Yellow (oldest Nephew's favorite color), Bright Blue (another favorite, but I forget which of the other two boys), and Bright Red (the other one's favorite color) to do the backs and edges with!  I got a fourth frame to make one for the nephew on the other side of the family as well, but I'm not sure which color I'll use for it. Only thing I'll need to find to go with them is a little bit of chalk!  I also got a couple of "kid sized" plates for our house that have a cute black & white chicken on them and say "Rise & Shine!" on them.  I don't like giving the kids full sized plates, because other adults seem to think the kids need a full plate too.  And, we tend to use the one "kid plate" we have here as soon as it's washed for snacks and/or light lunches!  I paid $1 each for the plates and $0.59 each for the colored paints.