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Monday, July 27, 2015

A Lofty Question

I believe life is meant to have a purpose. Our job is to find our purpose and fulfill it to the best of our abilities. 

If my purpose on this Earth was nothing more than to save a couple dozen animals from death, then I feel it was a life well spent. Not all of us can change the tide of human history, but we can change the tide of one soul.

Greg feels that we aren't born with a purpose but rather we should be useful (and the best) in whatever kind of situation Fate throws at us. To him, the test lies in how we face challenges, demons, and the consequences of our actions.

I think both viewpoints ring true depending on your personality. 

How about you?

Does life need a purpose? Is it enough just to live a good life? And here's a tricky question. What is a 'good' life?

Sometimes it seems all we see are the loud mouths and the crazies, rocket fuel for higher ratings and clickability. Beneath all the noise there are still decent people out there trying to do the best they can.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Selling My Chickens

Recently, we had a boy contact me (through his mother) asking if we had any chickens to sell.

As it happens, I wanted to sell my black Australorps. I invited them over and showed them the birds. A mutual friend had encouraged him to contact me, but I didn't want him to feel obligated to buy my birds.

It turns out he's in 4-H. For those of you unfamiliar with it, it's a youth organization that strives to teach kids through doing. It's most commonly practiced in rural areas. 

Had 4-H been offered in the inner city of Chicago back when I was a kid, I would've been all over it in a heartbeat. Alas, I too learned by doing, but for the most part it was trial and error. A lot of error. LOL.

We were glad to help this kid anyway we could because we appreciate children wanting to get hands-on experience in something other than texting and Instagram. His mother insisted that he also buy our 'chicken tractor', a movable pen so chickens can pasture in safety.

Greg built ours. 

We don't use it anymore because frankly, we're too lazy to move it around the pasture. When the garden is through for the year, we usually let the chickens roam free. They're good about returning home every night. In five years, we've only lost two birds. One to a coyote and another to a car.

I was surprised they wanted the chicken tractor since he's already building a coop, but they have the acreage for a movable pen so it'll work well for them. Besides, he's young and won't grouse about hauling it around the way we do. Ha!

We've got a few eggs from the Australorps in the incubator. I shouldn't have done it, but darn it, I like those birds. They're so well behaved compared to the Marans.

I'm still on the fence whether to continue with the Australorps or the Marans. 

I'll know by Wednesday if any of the eggs hatched. Wish me luck.

Have you ever been in 4-H or known someone who has? How was it? I'm envious of anyone who grew up on a farm. How much further ahead I would've been if I had had a mentor.

Have you ever mentored someone in anything? What was it?

Monday, July 13, 2015

Creative Ways to Use Leftovers and Scraps

Here are ten (or more) ways to keep food from being wasted...starting with bread.

Stale bread
• Toast, then cube for croutons or crumble for crumbs. Freeze for later.

Freeze whole bread and pull out for:
• Grilled cheese sandwiches.
• French toast.

Green Onions
• Save the tops (roots) and grow new green onions in a pot. You can do this indefinitely.

Black bananas
You know the feeling. You just can't eat one more banana and now they're overly ripe. Freeze them. If you have three of them, save them for banana bread. Here's a recipe.

It's hard to believe we have left over desserts, but most recipes make too much for two people. If I can't halve the recipe, I give half away. 

Some desserts, like cookies or brownies are easy to freeze and taste fine when thawed.

Canned food
I discovered I really didn't like canned black beans. Crazy, I know! And I had bought a bunch of them on sale--certain I would like them. 

After the first can, the rest went to a food bank.

Orange and lemon peels
I've mentioned this one before. Whenever we eat citrus, I save the peels so I can zest it later for other recipes.

Limes: I've never used lime zest, so I just toss the whole (used) fruit into the garbage disposal. Makes it smell nice and fresh.

Chicken carcass
Once you've picked that chicken clean, boil it and make chicken broth. MUCH better than the canned stuff. I then pour the broth into an ice cube tray or into small plastic tubs in 1-2 cup servings.

Extra chicken meat: Make chicken salad for the next day. An easy and fast lunch.

Beer and wine
We always add a cup of red wine into our homemade pasta sauce. Really gives it another level of flavor. Beer is good in chili. That might be sacrilege to some folks, but we don't drink enough to polish off an entire bottle in a timely fashion.

Coffee grounds and (crushed) egg shells
Sprinkle them in your garden. 

There are only two of us so it's easy to waste food if we're not careful. To make matters worse, we don't always have the same taste in food. 

I won't drink beer or Dr. Pepper, and pumpkin pie makes me grimace. Every year I make Greg a pumpkin pie. I've never tasted it, but it must be good because he always asks for one. LOL!

Is your family easy to please at the table or does everyone have different likes and dislikes with the dishes you prepare?

What's your favorite food? Least favorite?
I adore frog legs, and Mexican food.

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Celebration Continues

We're still in holiday mode at the Zannini ranch. Today is Greg's birthday--a milestone birthday to boot. 

His beard might be snowy white but to me he'll always be the 24-year old hunk showing off at the pool.

We've been through so much and it went by in the blink of an eye. We spent the last fifteen years as a long-distance couple--the most grueling fifteen years of my life. If that doesn't test you, nothing will. 

It's been seven months since he retired and I'm still giddy knowing I wake up to him every day.

We usually celebrate birthdays by letting the guest of honor decide that day's events. He hasn't mentioned what he wants to do yet. Probably a movie, and dinner at a nice restaurant.

Independence Day 2015 was great! Greg barbequed. I made the side dishes and an awesome blackberry cobbler. I have to say it was awesome because I always mess up the pastry, but this time it came out absolutely perfect, flaky and delicious. I was shocked! The only thing I did differently this time was chill all my implements and ingredients.

Yesterday, we were weeding the garden and came across this.

These are baby bunnies in the middle of what used to be my snow pea bed. I couldn't bear to disturb them so I left the bed as is. Hopefully, they'll be weaned in a few weeks and move on.

So what do you like to do on your birthday? Is there anything special you wish someone would do for you?

I'd be happy if someone cleaned my house and fed the animals. I don't know what it's like to sleep in late. :grin:  (I so wish I was joking.)