Blog Archive

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Friends, Chickens, and a Trial Diet

Where did the weekend go? It just flew a right by me.

Let's see, Friday evening there was a big holiday/birthday party in my department.  We never had a Christmas party so someone decided we needed a make up celebration. It was fun and full of lots of yummy food (and ridiculous decorations for everything from Presidents Day to Christmas to Ground Hog Day).

That night Cassie held a Parents's Night Out so we were kid free from 6-9:30pm. We saw Wanderlust. Whoa, nudity. And not by any of the hot actors watcher beware of you decide to see it.

Eddie was the only kid there when we picked him up. He was watching Charlotte's Web and was 100% not tired. We wanted dessert, so being the good parents we are, took our little 2 year old out to froyo at 10pm. He was in his jammies and didn't have a sweater...we got some looks to say the least. Especially on the two block walk back to the car, when he was smeared with chocolate goop. At least he was happy! And he slept in until nearly 9am the next morning. Score.

Saturday morning was sort of lazy. Eddie and I painted our nails (he chose pink for his fingers and blue for his toes, and he chose green for my toes) and then watched a show while the paint dried.
Later, while the boys were napping I went to the store to get storage totes for Eddie's old clothes. I bought 8 and I don't think that's enough. I sure hope we end up with another boy! We have so. much. clothing. Ouf.

That afternoon Dave was finally able to assemble the stairs for Eddie's bunk bed. There are about a zillion pieces just for the stairs, and we haven't even made the drawers yet. Ha! Maybe next weekend?
During our date on Friday, Dave and I were talking about what changes he could and should make to improve his health. He claims not to have time to exercise (I disagree). After about 3 years of suggesting it, he finally agreed to try avoiding gluten for a few weeks so we can see if he feels better without it. Who knows if it'll help, but it's worth a shot. I've heard claims that it causes weight gain, stuffy sinuses, chronic pain, and fatigue. Dave has issues with alllllll of those. Being a good wife and always up for a challenge, I decided to do it, too. Having done the whole gluten free meal planning and cooking a lot over the last 4 or so years, I don't think it'll be that big of a deal. I rarely eat bread at home anymore and we usually have oatmeal for breakfast anyway. So pasta will be the biggest hurdle for me, personally (okay...and all those Girl Scout cookies I just bought last week). But good alternative pastas are available and I've got a great pasta dough recipe. Dave will have a very hard time giving up wheat bread and breakfast cereal. He eats a sandwich everyday for lunch and has a big bowl of HBO or raisin bran crunch each morning. Even the most healthy-appearing cereal is crap anyway, so giving that boxed stuff up is good sense regardless (just refined carbs and sugar).

To prepare ourselves, I made us each a loaf of bread and a big batch of whole grain granola (chalk full of nuts, seeds, quinoa flakes, oats, and some dried is GOOD). So far, so good. Eddie likes the bread but I don't. I might turn some into crumbs for croquettes later this week. Or heavily toasted/seasoned croutons for soup.
Anyway, so for Saturday lunch we had quinoa pilaf with pesto, chicken, and sundried tomatoes with a side of orange juice braised broccoli/greens.
That evening we went to Josh's first birthday party. He had a boob cake, just like Eddie did! It was awesome. I brought some gluten free focaccia to share, which was delicious topped with Brian and Sarah's winey, tomatoey meatballs. Their parties are always great because we get to hang out with Brian's family (Dave's best friends growing up) and meet new, interesting people. This time I got to hold and feed a 6 month old baby girl named Ruth (Baby Ruth!). Ah, she was spit up scented heaven!

Brian's parents stayed the night with us so they could attend the party. They offered to stay home with sleeping Eddie that night so we could get away. Guess what we did? Grocery shopping.

Sunday morning was a full house, as Brian's family met up here at our house before they headed off to church. It was so nice to have house guests! I love having a full house--of humans and animals.  I also love having all my chickens running around outside, doing their thing.  They are such little weirdos, it just makes my heart melt.  Most of them come running, seriously running full charge at me whenever I come outside.  They are food motivated and I have trained them to know that Mama Julie = worms, snails, slugs, or grain. I adore how ridiculous it is to have a flock of chickens running in excitement toward me.  Haha.Only two of them will allow me to pick them up during the daytime, so I do, often.  The others only let me handle them when it is dark--at night chickens sorta turn "off" and you can handle them, move them, etc. all you want.
I am rapidly becoming a crazy animal lady.  To date, I have: two dogs, 7 chickens, 2 fish, and an aquarium snail.  I say "I  have" because most of these critters Dave could easily live without.  I really want to add a flemish giant rabbit and a cat to our household (and a flock of guinea fowl, and perhaps a pygmy goat or two).  But most of those things will have to wait until we move to Gualala.  Are you ready Davie?!

Last week I looked out my window to see a Rhode Island Red chicken standing outside the chicken pen.  I thought, "Oh, Tikka must not have been inside when I closed the door last night." But I went out there and discovered that we actually had two new chickens in the yard.  I have no idea where they came from.  Normally you don't want random chickens interacting with your own, lest they carry disease.  But these looked and acted perfectly healthy (unlike the one that showed up last year), so I just let them hang out with our lady birds in the yard.  I've asked around the neighborhood and posted a lost ad on Craigslist, but no one is claiming them.  They don't lay eggs and my neighbor suggested that perhaps someone just threw them over our fence to get rid of them since they aren't productive anymore.  Since our house borders the park and I'm outside twice a day saying sweet nothings to my chickie chickens, it is definitely possible that someone overheard me and realized that I'm the kind of animal loving schmuck who'd happily become a chicken rescue.  Who knows.  Both my friend Kelly and a neighbor have offered to take them in if I don't want them.  So either way they'll be taken care of.  The silly girls don't go into the pen at night, so I have to carry them in after dark.  They'll probably be okay roosting on the fence, but I worry about coons getting to them.
Anyway, where was I?  Right.  Sunday morning.  We got to play at the park with Eddie's friend, Isaac.

Those boys, along with Isaac's big sister, had so much fun together, running around, playing "fire rocket," and coloring with chalk. It was definitely nearing nap time when we walked home from the park. I made some pumpkin and mushroom fried rice using leftovers (namely the bacon fat in the skillet from breakfast...yum!). While chopping the pumpkin, I cut off a chunk of my finger tip, which was super annoying because it kept bleeding through the gauze I taped to it.
While the boys napped (why don't I nap on the weekends?), I biked to the store and bought what I hope is a month's supply of gluten free flours. Tapioca, potato starch, coconut flour, quinoa, rice, sorghum, millet, almond flour, xanthan gum, etc. My oh my.

For dinner we had polish sausages, salad, crockpot beans cooked with ham drippings, and sweet potato fries. I usually soak my beans over night in water and change the water before cooking. But recently I read on a blog that soaking them in a baking soda solution prevents the gas issues from eating beans. I tired it and it TOTALLY worked. I mean, completely. For a sandwich baggie of dried beans, I used about 2 quarts of water and 1/4 cup of baking soda over night. Amazing.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


We finally got to visit Gualala last weekend.  Eddie and I had not been there since October.  It was the longest absence since we got engaged, I think, and was too long.

Nothing major happened while we were there so I'll explain in pictures.

Friday morning was our first gymnastics class. Normally Dave will take him, but since he didn't come home I got to go. It's mostly free play, with only a few minutes of doing stretches with the teacher.  I didn't go to work that day since I didn't have childcare. So we spent the day packing and prepping the house for our absence (filling the chicken water/food, cleaning the house, etc.).
Friday afternoon Eddie went to lab meeting with me. He was  pretty good during the presentation, during which he stood in the hallway scowling (several of us sat on the floor near the door because there weren't enough chairs). And then he passed out some cookies we'd made that morning. I don't like having to take him to meetings on campus, but when I have to I can feel good that it definitely reminds my PI of the juggling act I have to do.  ;)  He wanted to walk back to the car, which I parked at Cassie's.  The walk too FOREVER and a day because he doesn't walk in a straight line and kept stopping to collect acorns, rocks, leaves, cigarette butts (ew), etc.
We hit the road right after the meeting...and four hours later (Taco Bell pit stop on the way), we arrived in Gualala. Eddie was soooooooooooooo excited to see his Papa and Grammy.  Maybe he was just excited to have a nose-picking buddy?
The next morning he helped Grammy fill in all the holes Puppy dug in the yard.
Then he went on a walk with Papa to see the skidder and backhoe. 
A friend gave us her daughter's seldom-used Barbie Jeep (yes, Barbie). We took it to Gualala so he and Zennie can drive it when they are visiting.  Eddie made sure to park "his" car along with the others when it was time to come in.  
Saturday's dinner: mustard/orange glazed ham, scalloped potatoes with butternut squash and caramelized onions, and salad.
Saturday night I gave the boys haircuts. Dave usually has a 5 on the top and a 2 on the sides.  But since the #2 guard fell OFF while I was fading it up, he ended up with a scary/terrible/awful haircut (0 on the sides, which I tried to fade up to 3 on the top).  It was not pretty.  At least his hair grows really quickly so it should look much, much better this coming weekend.  (His head is so weird--so many pores have multiple hairs growing out of them.  Ick.)
The doggies got along fine, except that Puppy is crazy and will NOT STOP PLAYING until she's over tired.  She's definitely still a puppy.  (I've taken to calling her Puppy since I cannot call her Missy Bean.)
Saturday's lunch was local crab and red wine risotto with purple asparagus, leeks, broccoli, and orange juice.
Dinner that night was our typical abalone and pesto pasta.  Our good family friend, Mary Jo, joined us.  Dave and I haven't seen her in too long so it was nice to catch up.
Sunday dinner.
Nap/show time.
Tired doggies.  I love that they use pillows!
Monday morning we went down to the Coast House (Dave's late Papa's house where his dad grew up).  We are making plans to live there after I graduate and wanted to take some measurements.  We pulled up the icky carpet in the living room and were thrilled to discover lovely oak floors beneath.  
Eddie was happy watching Cartoon Network while we poked around the house.  We are NOT keeping that couch, by the way.  When was that fabric ever in style?
This is the house.  Dave's brother's family lived here for 4 years and then Eddie, Dave, and I lived here for 3 months right after Eddie was born.   It needs a lot of work...we're mentally prepping ourselves for the effort and expense of renovating another house.  Sigh. 
While Peggy was looking at the dog photo album, I found this little gem.  That's Dave at 11 years old, sitting in a dog house, surrounded by border collie puppies.  He was in HEAVEN.
Of course there were airplanes flying around.
Around 2pm we had to say goodbye to Grammy and Papa so we could drive home.
Back in Davis, we stopped by the store for a gallon of milk.  I don't really shop at the store anymore (egg, produce delivery and Dave goes to Costco) and was worried that Eddie would run around like a mad man.  Luckily he wanted to ride in the car cart and even "helped" me put all the stuff on the self-check-out scanner.
We had mac-n-cheese for dinner that night.  I like to mix mine with black beans and peas, topped with sriracha.  Mmmmm.
Once I start teaching during spring quarter (until 5pm on Fridays), it'll be harder to go to Gualala.  With such a long drive and so much work involved in packing us and the dogs up, I only want to go when we can be there for three nights.  So we'll try to go another 2 times before April and then we'll have to wait until Memorial Day weekend.  Boo.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Uncle's House

Edward and Jennifer now have their very own apartment in Mountain View.  They've been in it for a few weeks and we finally got to visit this past weekend.  Dave and Eddie drove down on Friday morning and I took Amtrak down later that evening, after my lab meeting.  Driving takes 1.5-2 hours, depending on traffic and the train takes 3 hours.  Doubling the commute time is fine by me when I don't have to drive and I get a few uninterrupted hours of knitting and reading.

I actually spent the fist half of the train ride talking to a nice old man about various things: his work as a non-JD lawyer for a title company (he showed me some 1800s letters he's having to read through for historical information on a particular property in Sacramento), compost, how he raised his girls alone back in the 1950s because their mother "was crazy." He was one of those guys who makes puns constantly and then laughs at all his jokes.  Except he didn't just laugh, he snorted when he laughed.  It was ridiculous.  Toward the end of the line, when there weren't many people left on the train, I realized that the lady across from me was deaf.  She startled me when she tapped loudly on the table between us to get my attention while I was reading and snarfing down my Chipotle burrito.  She tried to write "San Jose?" with her finger on the table, but I couldn't figure out what she meant.  Finally I found a pen in my backpack and asked her to write it again.  Since she can't hear the announcements and there's aren't clearly posted signs in the Amtrak stations (as on BART), she had no idea where we were.  Later, I'd show her my phone's Google Map image so she'd know. 

Eddie was asleep by the time I got to the apartment (thank goodness for 2 bedrooms!) so us adults got to have a quiet, yummy dinner.  Then we set up our blow up and pull-out sofa beds so we could go to sleep. 

The next morning we had breakfast and then Edward, Eddie, and I went to Dyani's to pick up Batiste.  They needed a sitter that day while they were at work.  How perfect that we were in the area and wanted to play with Batiste anyway!
He looks so small in the big boy seat!
We took the kiddos to Happy Hallow park and zoo in San Jose.  It was a bit cold and overcast, but so much fun.
Is it weird that I think Dave is super hot when pushing a stroller?
Batiste thought this car was pretty fun.

Us checking out the capybara...I want one badly.
Walking man is getting fast!
Sand is fun! Especially when there are dinosaur fossils in it!
The boys didn't care much for the animals but LOVED the play structure.  Batiste also spent a LOT of time playing in the landscaping mulch.

Batiste spent about 30 minutes picking up mulch and making little piles.
Forget the zoo! Let's make mulch piles (you can see three here).
Eddie went on his first roller coaster several times.  Oh man, I can't wait to take this kid to Disneyland.

There's a 2 story wood-and-rope play structure there and both boys seemed to love it.  Even though Batiste is just mastering walking, he climbed up the nets and stairs like a pro (going down required some help, however).  We had 4 adults and 2 kids and we were all playing tag-team and zone defense on that play structure...the boys can really move FAST!
My little tight rope walker!
Go Batiste! Go!
He lost a shoe, but it didn't slow him down!
Happy boys, happy Auntie
Having skipped naps, the boys were weary and a little cranky (at least mine was) by the time we left.  Batiste loathes being in a car seat so be screamed the whole way back to Mountain View but Eddie zonked right out.  Dave dropped us off at the grocery store, where I carried Batiste in the Ergo (he fell asleep immediately and I'd forget I was carrying him until he'd occasionally sigh).  We bought all kinds of delicious stuff for dinner: ham, asparagus, potatoes au gratin fixings (with mushrooms and jalapeno!)...and of course, strawberries and whipping cream for dessert.  Edward and I walked home so Batiste could keep sleeping a while longer. 
Sleepy tired!
Back in the kitchen, Jennifer, Edward, and I got to work cooking.  Alex and his friend came over, and later, Dyani and Brice.  Most of us changed into swimming suits for a quick hot tub dip while dinner cooked in the oven. 
Dinner buffet!
Once dinner was ready, we all squeezed around their kitchen table, sitting on a variety of chairs: office, beach, folding church chairs from the 1920s, and an overturned Rubbermaid tote.  (Jennifer's furniture is en-route to them from her parents' home in New our next visit the house will be fully furnished.  Not that we minded one bit this way.)  Dinner was super good, the only thing missing was a pair of quiet toddlers...maybe next time.  =)

At some point that night Dyani and Brice (with an Ergo-ed Batiste) began teaching Edward and Jennifer how to salsa dance.  I'd thought that there wasn't enough wine in the world to force Edward into dancing, but apparently there is (plus Dyani can be very convincing).  This whole time Eddie was up and running around, like a small mad man.
After dessert was made, eaten, and the kitchen cleaned up, I looked at the clock--eek, it was nearly 11pm!--and decided to get Eddie to bed.  The good thing is that having him stay up late means he'll sleep in late, too.  We are VERY lucky to have a child who sleeps a given number of hours and not by the clock or sun. 

Sunday morning I rolled out of bed at 9:20am to take a shower.  I don't even think anyone else was up!  After I got dressed, I discovered that Dave and Eddie were snuggling in Eddie's bed.  Once Auntie and Uncle were up, we had some coffee and strawberries, just enough to tide us over until we got to the deliciousness of the farmers market.  What should have taken us about 15 minutes to walk there, turned into nearly 30 because Eddie kept changing his mode of transportation.  He oscillated between the stroller, Uncle's shoulders or arms, running, walking, and having Mama carry him.  It was ridiculous!


Walking...gotta fix his Spider Man sunglasses first!
Coming from Davis, home of a world famous farmers market, I was surprised and the size, variety, and business of this south bay market.  It was pretty big and had musicians at both ends of it.  Eddie loved it because it was right along the CalTrain tracks so he got to see a few choochoos go by.  Plus, he got a balloon (he chose the Spider Man option but pretended it was a leaf blower by scooting it along the ground making a "wrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr" noise...he's lucky he didn't pop it!). 
Waiting impatiently for his balloon.
At about 2pm we decided to head back to the apartment because Eddie was tired and we needed to pack up and head out.  We were going to having Cousin Zennie over to play that evening so her parents could go on a date.  (Unfortunately, Mike's back was hurting so they didn't end up coming over.  Hopefully we get to play with her soon, though!)  Eddie slept the whole drive home and was a happy camper when we got home to the doggies (and all his toys).  Our babysitter took good care of the dogs, chickens, and fish for us while we were gone. 

After some intense mess-making (I mean, train and block playing...) Eddie had mac-n-cheese for dinner and then went to bed.  Dave and I waited to eat until he was down so we could enjoy the pork pate I bought at the farmers market that morning.  Mmmmmmm, it was good.  
My next culinary goal is to make some pate; I just watched the Julia Child episode so it can't be that hard.
While we were munching on the crusty olive bread and buttery pate with pickles on top and spicy mustard below, my phone chirped to remind me that I had to bring 16 Valentine's cards to Eddie's preschool the next morning for their party.  DANG IT.  Downton Abbey was starting in only 30 minutes so I didn't have much time.  I pulled out my hefty craft bin and, in record time, Dave and I churned out 16 individualized cards for the kids.  Whew. 

I settled back on the couch to watch my favorite show of all time.  It was so annoying that the HD antenna wasn't working.  For the first half of the show the signal was bad so the image and sound would freeze.  At least it'll be streaming for free on soon and the second half of the 2-hour show was fine.