Baby Chicks!

Little did we know that first time we bought chicks that it would be an annual thing…  First due to wanting more eggs, and then due to bobcats.  Hopefully we won’t need chicks again for a while.  But for now, we bought 3 Buff Orphingtons this week, and will pick up 3 Light Brahmas next week.  I’ve grown rather fond of these sweet creatures, already!  Meet Sunny, Topaz, and Athena Glory:

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Getting Warmer…

Before leaving for our cruise, Southern California was experiencing a heat wave.  We got back, only to experience more of the same.  I can’t wait to blog more about our cruise, but I’ve been busy trying to balance enjoying this beautiful weather with getting back into the swing of things.  It’s been a good week, and an even better weekend.  I think I am finally caught-up on “stuff.”  (Of course, caught-up only lasts a few hours around here before laundry, dishes, and messes pile up.  A mom’s life is blessed and busy!)  **sigh**  Here is a glimpse of our warm weather activities:

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Making “Fairy Water”

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Washing the car.

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Enjoying glorious apricot tree blossoms.

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Painting fairy houses from Grandma.

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It is hard not to want this weather.  All the windows are open.  We start our days on bikes and scooters.  But alas, it is not even spring yet, so I am praying for rain.  In the meantime, you can find us outside!

Peaches and Sunsets

This is our 5th winter in this home, and yet it surprises me every time — peach blossoms in mid-January.  From the looks of things, we may have another prolific year.  (It’s very hard for me not to count my chickens before they hatch!)  I took these pictures today after a night of horrific winds.  I’m thankful these beauties survived, though our entire avocado tree fell and our garbage bins were down the street!

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I’ve been remembering to close the chicken coop up every night, and love seeing a beautiful sunset as I leave the chicken yard.  No more chickens for you, Mr. Bobcat!  And, I can’t wait to kick Malachi and his diggers out of our garden boxes and start getting veggies and flowers, again.  (Praying for a better gardening year than last year!)

Goodbye 2015 Summer Garden

Yes, it was time to say goodbye…

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You would not believe how overrun the garden had become.  I should have taken a picture, but really our gardening was somewhat impromptu.

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We have a long way to go to get it cleaned up…but it’s nice to have it started.

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Buddy enjoyed half of our last watermelon, and the chickens enjoyed the other half.

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Bell peppers are suddenly flourishing???  I think we’ll get rid of them, anyway.  I want a clean start to the garden.

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Next up, (if we indeed get it cleaned out), I want to have winter lettuce and flowers.  We’ll see!

Bread Bowls

While making my menu for the week, I had no idea we would be experiencing a day full of rain.  Yesterday was absolutely wonderful, and such a blessing for Southern California!  I even went for a jog in the pouring rain early in the morning and had more energy than usual.  It felt glorious!  We rarely experience cooler temps in September, and certainly not rain!

Anyway, I had asked my daughter Natalie what I should put on the menu for dinner, and she requested broccoli and cheese soup bowls.  I have always wanted to try to make soup bowls, but never got around to it.  Since she said it and I was at a loss for ideas, I wrote it in.  Done.  Now I had to try!

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I really wasn’t sure what I was doing.  I just divided the dough into 6 rounds and let them rise on parchment individually in bowls.  In the meantime, I worked on the soup…

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As I suspected, the two little ones didn’t eat much of their bowls.  But, I was ok with that.  I used my new favorite simple bread recipe I keep talking about, so I only wasted a little flour… these were so much cheaper than buying 6 little bread bowls!  I would rather waste a bit and let them have the full fun of eating out of a bread bowl than make them eat out of a regular bowl while watching their big sisters have all the fun.  Not to mention, the chickens loved the leftovers!

I’m excited to try these again some time!

In the Garden

We haven’t had much good news to report on the garden… Tomatoes are slowing way down.  (We had to buy some for our salsa today!)  Zucchini plant is ginormous, while the zucchini have also slowed way down.  Then there’s the cantaloupe…

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A mouse!  Can you believe it?  I was so glad that our current cat is not a hunter.  I did not like all the mice and lizard presents our previous two cats brought us.  But now?!?!?  I am thinking we need a hunter cat.  After this picture, I picked the cantaloupe and cut it for the chickens.  Later I cut 2 more that I thought were ripe so the mouse wouldn’t get them.  They were awesome.  Then, the mouse got our last one.  Grrr… So we were 2 for 4 on our cantaloupes this year.

Last but not least is our pepper plant.  We had SO many just get rotten before they got ripe.  But then we had one ripe one.  It looked amazing…

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I cut it and the texture seemed perfect.  We added it to our pizza, and then…

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We took it off again and gave it to the chickens.  It was bitter.  Bummer.

The only good in all this is the lesson my 5 year old has been learning.  I keep telling her we learn best through our mistakes; not just when we do things right the first time.  I have used the garden as my personal example.  She has learned this lesson well.  She now rejoices in hr mistakes and says, “Because I am learning even more, right Mommy?”  That’s right, sweetie.  It has revolutionized our schooling.  We still have our challenges, but making mistakes is no longer one of them!

Homegrown Watermelon

I still have the little stick that came with our watermelon plant, indicating that we bought a “black, seedless watermelon plant.”  Since it says “black,” I’ve been waiting for the watermelon to turn black before I pick it.  Well, it hasn’t been getting black, but the sun has given it some nice yellow sun spots, so I decided to go online to see when it would be ripe for picking.

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The few places I checked all said to look at the tendril closest to the watermelon, and if it is brown and dried it is ready to pick.  It sounded easy enough, so I checked, and sure enough it was ready!

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It weighed-in at a whopping 6.6 pounds.  (Yikes!  I need to clean my scale!)

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As you can see, our black, seedless watermelon is neither black, nor seedless.  It was filled with seeds!  The worst part was, it didn’t taste that great.  It wasn’t bad; the texture was good.  But, we must have been lacking something in our soil because it wasn’t super sweet.  I really did zero research on growing a watermelon, and picked our bad drought year, so I am surprised it didn’t turn out worse.  The chickens loved pecking at the rinds.  Overall, it was a fun experience, but I am a little discouraged about growing watermelons…

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It doesn’t really matter how “good” or “bad” the watermelon is — if you stick it on the table with toothpicks, this boy will gobble it up.  The other girls thought it was ok, but only tried one piece.  We have one more watermelon growing, but I think I may rip it out and start planting some lettuce.  Fresh salad; mmmm….