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7/31/08

by @ Thursday, July 31st, 2008. Filed under Fostering, Life

Reader Paula sent me a link to Suzanne McMinn’s blog a few months ago, and I checked it out and liked it and added it to my links list and Google Reader feeds and have been reading it ever since. The other day, just after Fred harvested the very last of our yellow squash and zucchini before yanking up the squash-bug-infested plants, she (Suzanne McMinn, that is) posted a Summer Vegetable Pie recipe. Since it involved things I had on hand, I decided to give it a try.

I originally intended to make chicken soup for dinner on Tuesday night with a side of Summer Vegetable Pie, but after discussing it with Fred, I decided to just add some chicken to the pie and we’d have that as the main dish, since Fred’s not a chicken soup lover. (That’s because he has no soul. HA! HA!)

Instead of substituting a cup of chicken for a cup of vegetables, I just added the chicken to the pie since I have a deep-dish pie plate. It ended up needing to be cooked an extra ten minutes (though in retrospect, an extra five would have done).

It was FABULOUS.

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Two thumbs up for McLovin pie!

Fred had me worried, because he’d read somewhere that old roosters can be “gamy”, but to my relief after three or four hours of simmering on the stove, the chicken was not tough at all, and not gamy at all. WHEW.

For dinner last night, we had another round of chicken and rice casserole and oven-fried green tomatoes. We’ll have more Summer Vegetable McLovin Pie tonight, and more chicken and rice casserole tomorrow night. That’s four meals off one chicken, if you’re keeping track, and there should be a couple of lunches left over from that, even.

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I find that, oftentimes, a crappy day starts with events that happened the night before. Getting the crap ball rolling, so to speak.

Tuesday night, after sitting down to watch TV early – it rained Tuesday afternoon, which kind of put the kibosh on Fred’s plans to weed the garden, which meant he had nothing to do and announced at 5:30 “I’m ready to watch TV whenever you are!” – we realized shortly before bedtime that the reason we were both so hot and sleepy was because I was cold when we sat down to watch TV, which made me turn the thermostat from 73 to 75, and it’s amazing the difference those few degrees will make, ain’t it? We were both HOT and sleepy at bedtime, and I got the plate of yummins for the upstairs kitties – it’s how I lure most of them into the kitten room so I can shut them in for the night – and when I went upstairs everyone but Kaylee went running into the kitten room to partake of the yummins. She can usually be lured out from under the bed (she’s the one smartypants who seems to understand that bedtime means she has to be locked in the room with her mother and siblings and cannot wander the house at will* but that night she would not be lured, and finally I was like “Fine! Stay out all night, see if I care, and I hope you don’t want to snuggle with your mommy or sisters, because I’m not getting up and letting you in that damn room in the middle of the night!” and went off to brush my teeth.

(Fred lured her out and put her in the kitten room when he came upstairs. He’s so handy.)

Then we got in bed and Fred was all whiny about “I’m hooooooot.” and “I hope I don’t toss and turn because it’s so hooooot.” and fidgeting and moving around until I was all “Goddamn! Would you lay still!” and then Miz Poo climbed up in bed with us and began her SO VERY ANNOYING rubbing-her-nose-on-everything-in-sight until I pushed her off the bed, then she jumped back up and did it again, so I got the can of compressed air off the bedside table (that you guys ALWAYS think is whipped cream when you see it in pictures, pervs) and pointed it at her, and she was all “Oh! I think I heard something downstairs I need to investigate, bye!”

So after a little while of boring, desultory, sleepy conversation, Fred said “Are you ready to go to sleep?” and I said “Yeah.” and Miz Poo jumped back up on the bed like “Hai guys! Is it time for the sleepin’?!” and Fred got up and headed for the door and then I felt something wet spray across my face and I exclaimed “Goddamn! What the hell was that?” and Fred said “What?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “Something wet sprayed across my face!” I wiped my hand across my face and smelled the wet stuff and it smelled like nothing in particular, and then I heard a cat hit the floor.

“Is Miz Poo on the bed?” I asked.

“Yeah, I see her. Someone dark just jumped down,” Fred said.

“Well, I think Miz Poo [who is known to have an abundance of saliva when she’s particularly happy] shook her head and sprayed spit on me,” I said. “Can you turn the light on so I can make sure it’s not vomit or blood or something?”

Fred turned the light on, and I looked and he looked and he said “Uh.” and I said “GOD. DAMN. I AM GOING TO KILL A CAT.”

Because there was a puddle of pee on the pillow on the other side of the bed, dripping gently down onto the bed. Someone had peed upon the pillow and then casually strolled off.

“YOU FIGURE OUT WHO DID THIS!” I yelled at Fred. “You go figure out who did this, because I am going to KILL HIM.”

“How the hell am I supposed to figure it out?” Fred asked.

“GO DOWNSTAIRS AND SEE WHO’S ACTING GUILTY!” I bellowed, and I started stripping the bed. Fred went downstairs and reported that Tommy was on the couch where he’d been all night, Stinky was up in her cat tree, Sugarbutt was sleeping on a chair in the dining room. Spanky was off being good somewhere (we knew it wasn’t him, ’cause it had been a dark cat on the bed, not a light one). Joe Bob was hiding somewhere, and Mister Boogers was strutting around acting like an asshole.

Mister Boogers has been known to occasionally pee on things when he’s displeased – he peed on Fred one night – but he’s never EVER peed on MY bed, none of the cats have, so I was seeing red.

Until I went back upstairs to see if Joe Bob was hiding somewhere up there, and I pulled back the shower curtain, and I realized that the kittens had pulled the bathmat into the tub, thus covering up the drain, thus making it impossible for Mister Boogers to pee in the drain which he LOVES SO GODDAMN MUCH TO DO, and thus requiring him to register his displeasure in a way that we’d sit up and take notice.

I was still pissed, but somehow a little less pissed now that I knew there was some kind of reasoning behind the bed peeing and it wasn’t some random act of peeing. I don’t know. I’m grasping at straws and reasons not to kill that little fucker, I guess.

So I put the peed-upon pillows on the side porch (yes, I could have sprayed them with Stink-Free and I’m sure they would have been fine, but I wasn’t fine with the idea of laying my head upon pillows that have pee particles bouncing around inside them so off to the trash they went. I need new pillows anyway.) and the dirty laundry on the washer, and then I sat angrily in front of my computer and surfed around for an hour or so, and then I went to bed on my nice clean sheets, under my favorite comforter and I slept like a log.

‘Til 4:45, when I heard an odd sound and, upon taking out my earplug I realized it was the cat water fountain in the bathroom, and that the water level had gotten low enough that the pump inside was making that annoying grinding noise. We have this waterer in the upstairs bathroom and this one downstairs in the laundry room near the food bowls, and they’re both pretty popular, in fact when I let the kittens out of the kitten room in the morning, Kaylee goes directly into the bathroom and slurps up water like it’s going out of style. So I rolled out of bed, dumped a couple of cups of water into the waterer, which silenced the grinding noise, then went back to bed.

I woke again at 5:15 and after a few minutes of trying to go back to sleep admitted there was no more sleep to be had, and rolled out of bed. Fred heard me and came upstairs, and told me to come with him. He’s been telling me that the little roosters are starting to find their voices, and it sounds awfully funny when they try to crow. I followed him into the chicken yard and watched the little chickens run out of their coop and flap their wings and stretch and just generally act like little cuties.

Finally, one of the little speckled roosters crowed for us and I agreed that it was pretty damn cute.

I came back inside and posted my entry and then went upstairs to take my shower and get dressed.

All went well until about 7:00, when I decided it was time to get off my ass and make that Jalapeño Jelly I’d been putting off making. I got the jalapeños and green peppers chopped and blended and mixed them with the vinegar and sugar in the big pot, and I was cleaning up the kitchen while keeping an eye on the mixture on the stove because the recipe says that it boils over easily, and I’ve found that to be true. So I’d clean a little, then check on the pot. Clean, check. Clean, check. I was standing at the sink rinsing out a rag when I heard a loud hissing sound, and I turned to find that not only had the mixture come to a boil, it had come to a FURIOUS boil and it was pouring out of the top of the pot like a fucking fountain.

“SHIT!” I yelled. “SHIT, SHIT!” I grabbed the pot and put it in the sink, then I took the pot of simmering water (for sterilizing canning lids and rings) off the stove, and then the liquid that had poured out of the pot rushed onto the still-hot burner and I grabbed a rag to start soaking some of the liquid up.

And then the liquid caught on fire.

OF COURSE IT DID.

I thought for an instant of smacking at the flame with the rag I was holding, but immediately knew that to be a bad idea because there was so much liquid that it would go splashing everywhere and would cause a lot of fucking damage. I grabbed the fire extinguisher and stood and watched to see what the fuck would happen.

(Okay, that’s a lie to placate Fred. I didn’t grab the fire extinguisher. SHUT. UP. You weren’t here, WERE you? So SHUT UP.)

I stood and watched to see what would happen, hoping that the liquid would burn off and the flame would go out, and that’s exactly what eventually happened, though that flame got awfully high there for a moment and I worried that it would melt the microwave (it didn’t) or catch the cabinets on fire (it didn’t) and finally the goddamn flame got lower and then went out.

And then I got to clean up the mess. I dumped the mixture out of the pot and cleaned the pot, cleaned the pot that had been simmering and waiting for lids and rings to sterilize, I emptied out and cleaned the hot water canner, I used a spatula to scrape at the mixture that had burned to the stovetop (did I mention there were FIVE POUNDS of sugar in that mixture? It tends to make things a teeny bit, shall we say, FUCKING STICKY when it’s pouring out of a pot and splashing everywhere.) and then I got down on my hands and knees and scrubbed the floor in the kitchen, twice.

Then I neatly put everything away and I called Fred.

“This is Fred,” he said.

“When you get home, please go out into the garden and pull up those goddamn jalapeño plants because I AM DONE. I am never making that goddamn jalapeño jelly again in my life, WHY WOULD I NEED TO, I go through like one jar a year of the stuff!”

I babbled incoherently at him for several minutes, and then he presented a perfect target for my anger.

“Frank (Fred’s coworker, who went in with us on the pigs, and to whom Little(r) Pig belongs) wants to see pictures of the pigs,” he said. “I was going to ask you to go out and take pictures of them.”

“FUCK HIM!” I said. “I JUST PUT UP FUCKING PICTURES OF THE FUCKING PIGS LAST FUCKING WEEK! HOW MUCH COULD THEY HAVE FUCKING CHANGED IN THE LAST FUCKING WEEK?!”

“He wants to see them not all covered in mud,” Fred said mildly.

“WELL THAT’S TOO GODDAMN BAD! HE CAN COME OUT HERE AND SEE THEM IF HE’S SO GODDAMN DESPERATE TO SEE THEM! GOD, I HATE HIM**, HE IS SUCH A FUCKING PAIN IN THE GODDAMN ASS***, YOU ARE FORBIDDEN TO EVER FUCKING TEAM UP WITH HIM WHEN IT COMES TO PIGS OR COWS OR ANY KIND OF ANIMAL EVER!!!”

Then I think my head spun around and I projectile vomited pea soup.

After hanging up the phone, I had breakfast and I had that unsettled and annoyed feeling where I couldn’t quite decide what to do, so I ended up laying on the couch and watching a disc and a half of The L Word for the rest of the morning and part of the afternoon.

(I just finished Disc 3 of Season 2. I adore Shane. I think Jenny continues to be unbearably adorable. Tina kind of annoys the fucking shit out of me, which I know she shouldn’t because she’s so SWEET and all but I want to smack her really hard in the face.)

If I don’t start my period soon, I’m afraid I’m going to go on a shooting spree. This premenstrual shit is FOR THE GODDAMN BIRDS.

*Before you ask: I lock Kara and her babies in the foster room at night so Miz Poo can come upstairs and sleep with me. If I let them stay out all night, Miz Poo would be too scared to come upstairs and if she tried Kara would face her down and some sort of slapfight would ensue with lots of growling and hissing and I LIKE MY SLEEP.

**I don’t hate him.

***He’s not all that much a pain in the ass, I will grudgingly admit.

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The kittens are 15 weeks old today (at some point I suppose I’ll have to stop counting weeks and start counting months, huh?) and I’m starting to think we’re going to have them ’til they’re grown. Adoptions are going incredibly slowly for the shelter and room isn’t opening up and no one’s shown interest in adopting the little brats. I love them to pieces, but the older they get, the more traumatic it’s going to be when they leave the only home they’ve ever known and go to a new home, you know?

Ugh. I’ll just try not to think about it…

(And, no. We’re NOT keeping them!)

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Smilin’ Joe.

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Previously
2007: Pictures from around Crooked Acres.
2006: But I’ve been secretly calling it hepatootis to myself.
2005: No entry.
2004: Hawaii recap.
2003: No entry.
2002: Around the neighborhood.
2001: “SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP YOU FUCKING ASSHOLE!” I yelled.
2000: All hail Dumbass Bitchypoo.

7/30/08

by @ Wednesday, July 30th, 2008. Filed under Fostering, Life, Picture Entries

My Facebook Scrabulous peeps, since they’ve disabled Scrabulous and Scrabble BETA isn’t due to be available for a few more weeks (mid-August is what I saw), there’s something to tide us over: Wordscraper. It’s like Scrabulous, it just looks a little different. If you’re interested, come start up a game with me!

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Zoe makes this face a LOT.

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Previously
2007: Now THAT is a signal I understand.
2006: No entry.
2005: No entry.
2004: My crap, is my scalp FRIED.
2003: I’m still thinking of killing her.
2002: Getting impatient, because Fred hadn’t carried the bag of food upstairs and poured some fresh food for his majesty, Tubby started bitching “Give me food, damnit!”
2001: “Remember when you moved that dresser? That was cool.”
2000: No entry.

7/29/08

by @ Tuesday, July 29th, 2008. Filed under Fostering, Life

I might be easily amused, but I think this video is AWESOME.

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Thanks, you guys, for your tomato-saucing ideas. I got an email from reader Michele, who ordered me to get one of these RIGHT NOW. Since I’m obedient, I went and ordered one immediately. I told her that if it works as well as she says, I’ll name a chicken after her.

Speaking of chickens, in my comments yesterday Donna-loo said “No talk about McLovin?”

Well, not really. McLovin is in the process of becoming dinner tonight. Fred processed him on Friday – if you want to read about it in detail (warning: THERE ARE PICTURES of the processing process), you can go read about it here. Long story short: McLovin was picking on the little roosters, so he had to go.

I’ll admit, I kind of miss him. He was pretty entertaining to watch and certainly very pretty. If our little roosters grow up to be half as pretty as he was, I’ll consider us lucky.

One of the little roosters – these little roosters are from the batch of roosters we hatched ourselves in the incubator, thus they’re McLovin’s sons – has no fear of us at all. He’s always looking curiously at us, he doesn’t mind Fred picking him up, and he’s a pretty little thing.

Hint to the chickens: You can ensure yourselves a long life by being friendly. I’m just sayin’.

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Our favorite little rooster.

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And his sister, who matches him nicely. I love that little pouf of a tail she has.

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Hey now you’re a Rock Star get the show on, get paid. (So pretty but SUCH a featherheaded dunce, this one.)

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At the watering hole, our favorite little rooster regales the girls with tales of his exploits. As you can see, they’re fascinated.

Also in my comments yesterday, Amy said:

Robyn, This has nothing to do with your post today but I saw the big buckets at Lowe’s that you used for litter boxes and I got some. The cats really like them and I do too. Our former litter boxes were covered and I like the uncovered better because of the access. But with the buckets, the sides are high enough to keep everything in. Thanks for a great idea!

By the way, what did you do with your old litter boxes? Our are at LEAST 2 years old…maybe more but each one cost us like…$30 and we are loath to get ride of them right away.

The bucket litter box continues to work really well for us, and I highly recommend it. They seem to prefer that one to the top-entry litter box, so we may just make it so that they have two bucket litter boxes at some point soon.

ANYWAY, what we did with the old litter boxes is keep them. I put them upstairs in the garage just in case we need them in the future, ’cause you can never have too many litter boxes. If you have the room, I recommend hanging on to them for a little while just in case. If you don’t – maybe Craigslist? Make a little money off them?

And lastly, Sue who asked if I’m watching Date My Ex, check out Friday’s entry, here.

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Sunday I never got around to taking the recycling to the recycling center as I’d intended (I had a fairly lazy weekend), so I did that yesterday and stopped at the crappy-ass local grocery store to pick up some sugar. The jalapeños have started coming in, and I needed lots of sugar to make and can a batch of jalapeño jelly.

Imagine my surprise, when I was ready to make the damn jelly, to find that I didn’t have enough apple cider vinegar. I went down to the dollar store, sure they’d have it, but the only vinegar they had was white vinegar. Since I was already out, I decided to drive to the crappy grocery store in town, because it might be a crappy grocery store that does NOT carry fresh cilantro (for Fred’s salsa, which I do not eat) but I was sure it would carry apple cider vinegar.

It did indeed carry apple cider vinegar, so I bought a big-ass bottle and got home, and then looked over my recipe (I have mentioned, have I not, that I have the horrible habit of not reading over a recipe entirely before beginning to make it?) and realized I didn’t have enough Certo and I was DAMNED if I was going to go into town for a THIRD time in the same day, so I gave up on the jalapeño jelly for the day, and made Fred’s salsa instead. Which he did not deserve because who do you SUPPOSE was the bastard who used up all the Certo so I didn’t have enough?

(Nevermind that I’m the dumbass who didn’t check to make sure I had enough Certo before I went into town. GAH.)

SO I GUESS I’LL BE GOING UP INTO TOWN TO BUY CERTO NOW IF YOU’LL EXCUSE ME.

I’m sure I’ll get home to find that the cats MacGyvered their way into the refrigerator and ate all the jalapeños while I was gone.

At least if they’re busy doing that, they won’t be vomiting in their food bowls and leaving it for me to clean up AGAIN. Except that surely they’ll have vomited the jalapeño from one end of the house to the other.

Goddamn cats.

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Recently, someone on Flickr posted pictures of her cats playing with some interesting-looking knit toys. She mentioned where she’d gotten them, so I went over and checked ’em out, and ended up buying a set of five toys for $4. As you can see, they were a hit with the kittens. And even better – all proceeds from the sale of these toys goes to a no-kill shelter. Five awesome toys for $4, and it’s like donating to a no-kill shelter. How can you beat that?

(Answer: you can’t!)

Get them here.

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::urrrrrrp:: “Oh! ‘Scuse me!”

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Previously
2007: No entry.
2006: No entry.
2005: “Did you fart?” I said accusingly.
2004: No entry.
2003: No entry.
2002: “KITTIES!” I scolded, and after a moment the thumping and running stopped.
2001: No entry.
2000: No entry.

7-28-08

by @ Monday, July 28th, 2008. Filed under Crooked Acres, Fostering, Life

Oh tomatoes, how you PISS ME OFF. I know that Roma tomatoes are considered the best tomatoes for making tomato sauce and such, but if the fucking things won’t grow any bigger than two inches long and after peeling and seeding them, I get maybe a pea-sized amount of tomato meat off each tomato, WHAT IS THE FUCKING POINT?

I spent two and a half hours on Saturday peeling and seeding tomatoes, and before I began I was all kinds of thrilled because I was looking forward to making this tomato sauce. We never got enough tomatoes to make as much tomato sauce as I wanted last year, so this year Fred planted a million tomato plants and they’ve slowly started coming in and I’ve been popping them in plastic bags and putting them in the freezer, because once tomatoes are frozen and thawed, the skin slips right off and you don’t have to blanch them.

So after two and a half hours of peeling and seeding and chopping out the stems, I ran everything I had through the food mill, because that recipe calls for 10 quarts of tomato puree to start. Know how much tomato puree I ended up with?

Five and a half cups. Not even a quart and a half.

“How is this possible?” Fred asked when I presented him with the evidence. “Ragu is a buck a bottle. It should cost like a thousand dollars!”

No shit.

So I put the puree in a freezer bag and froze it, and maybe after another couple of months and 130 hours of effort, perhaps I’ll end up with enough tomato puree.

UGH.

DAMN YOU, TOMATOES.

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What I accomplished this weekend, in pictures.

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Dehydrated eggplant slices to rehydrate and use as lasagna noodles this winter.

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Dehydrated cherry tomatoes to use in stir-fries and chili this winter.

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Canned tomato juice. I don’t know what on earth I’ll use this stuff for (certainly not for drinking), but it seemed a shame to let it go to waste.

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Fred made his first batch of strawberry habanero jam of the year. He says it’s particularly good. I myself didn’t try it – I prefer not to sizzle my taste buds right out of my mouth.

Also, I vacuumed the house and did laundry and hung out with the kittens, but I have no pictures of those exciting activities. I also took a Saturday afternoon nap with Kaylee flopped across my stomach. I love that damn kitten.

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Summer squash season, at least for the And3rsons, is over. We’ve got enough put away until next year, so we were just eating it as it came in, but the squash bugs completely infested the plants (and the squash), and when Fred brought squash in yesterday, all of it had holes in it (and some even had squash bugs still rooting around inside the squash, yum!), so he spent the afternoon yanking up the squash plants.

We never did get much zucchini, though I got several cups of shredded frozen before the squash bugs had their way with the squash. Squashes? You know what I mean.

Speaking of zucchini, a few weeks ago Webster asked if I wanted her chocolate zucchini bundt cake recipe from Sunset Magazine, and of course I said yes, so she shared it with me, and this past weekend I made it.

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It’s really good! Fred tried it, and he said “There’s an interesting flavor… it’s familiar, I can’t think of what it is…” and I said “It’s got orange peel in it” and he said “That’s it!” I like the very slight orange flavor and the slight cinnamon flavor, and the glaze could not have been easier to make and drizzle (I put the glaze in a plastic sandwich bag and cut a hole in one corner and drizzled away, ’cause I’m fancy like that).

So, thanks Webster! In the middle of the winter I’ll pull some shredded zucchini out of the freezer and make the cake again, and it’ll taste like summer to us.

This here is the recipe, if you’re interested.

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Previously
2007: No entry.
2006: Y’all are good for my yellow ego!
2005: Maine recap.
2004: Hawaii recap.
2003: Maine recap.
2002: No entry.
2001: No entry.
2000: The cats are suddenly deciding to take closed doors as a personal affront.

7-25-08

by @ Friday, July 25th, 2008. Filed under CAE, Fostering, Life

You guys, this is the coolest thing. PetSmart Charities created this program called Rescue Waggin’:

The Rescue Waggin’ ® program was created by PetSmart Charities to help save the lives of homeless dogs and puppies by transporting them from areas of high pet population (where they face certain euthanasia) to shelters where adoptable dogs are in demand.

If you go to this page and watch the video of Spunky taking “The ride of her life” (upper left corner), Pedigree dog food will donate $1 to the charity. It only takes a few minutes and if you’re a sap like me you’ll at least tear up a little, and then you’ve earned $1 for the Rescue Waggin’ program. How could it be any easier? Watch the video all the way through ’til you get the “Thank you” message, please.

Please just take a few minutes out of your day to watch it? Please please?

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The dancing guy video I referred to yesterday was the America’s Funniest Home Video where the wife kept locking her husband out of the house or car, and wouldn’t let him back in until he danced for her, but an email and a comment reminded me – you guys have seen Where the Hell is Matt, right? I’m linking it just in case you haven’t. (And thank you to reader Michele, who reminded me that I’ve been meaning to link to it for ages!)

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Awwww…how can you resist Spanky’s warm, fuzzy-ness?

I know this is a rhetorical question, but I’m going to take a moment to sing the praises of Spanky. He is SUCH a good boy, our Spanky. He’s the elder statesman of the Crooked Acres kitties (almost 12!), and except for a couple of urinary tract infections, he has never ever given us a single moment of trouble. He’s quiet but loves to be petted – sometimes in the evenings he’ll get up on the couch next to Fred and just look up at Fred with the Eyes o’ Love, and if Fred looks down at him, Spanky moves his head around like “HI DAD!” and meows softly.

He’s always been kind of a timid cat. I think I’ve probably told the story, back in the early days of my journal, about how I was sitting on the couch reading and I kept hearing ::THUMPTHUMPTHUMP::HISS::THUMPTHUMPTHUMP:: and it turned out that all the cats were chasing Spanky around the house. At that point, he wouldn’t fight another cat unless he was directly attacked, and even then he preferred to run away.

These days, he’s a little more willing to put the smack down. For some reason he does NOT like Joe Bob (Joe Bob, we’ve discovered recently, has taken to occasional spraying, and I think Spanky takes strong offense to that kind of behavior) and will kick Joe’s butt on a moment’s notice. (Don’t feel too sorry for Joe Bob – he, in turn, has something against Stinkerbelle and teases her horribly until she unleashes the hellcat scream.)

Every night at Snackin’! Time!, all the other cats mill around like little idiots, all “Where my snack? Where’m I supposed to be? Is it snack time? Uh duh?” despite the fact that each of them is given their snack in very specific locations. Spanky is the ONE cat who always knows exactly where he’s supposed to be, and he patiently sits in his corner until he gets his little plate of Snackin’.

Also, he’s the Bathroom Ambassador, and without his help, how on EARTH would we know where the bathroom is kept?

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If I remember right you had a “I want it” attack about key covers some celebrity had. I just found a website that sells different types. I think you later changed your mind but I thought I would insert some temptation into your life.

Give to me this url, please. I did change my mind, but my mind can always be changed back!

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Robyn, just wondering if you know what Bonnie, used to be Bontasia, from San Antonio’s website is? My computer crashed and I lost it.

Bonnie’s here now. She doesn’t write a lot, but she does drop in from time to time to post something.

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Actually, brown sugar is just less refined than white sugar. If you don’t have brown sugar handy, you can add molasses to the white sugar to make a substitute. If Fred really hates molasses, you might try turbinado (Sugar in the Raw) or Demarara sugar. Both of them are just unrefined cane sugar and might be more to his liking. I’ve used a combination of maple sugar and turbinado in baked beans, and it works well. Or is is possible that Fred just doesn’t like sulphured molasses? I like unsulphured, but I’ve never cared for sulphured.

I actually didn’t know the answer to the sulphured vs. unsulphured question so I asked him and he said “I just don’t like molasses, period.” So there you go.

I LOVE turbinado sugar – I used it the first time in a recipe I made a few months back (a blueberry coffeecake recipe where you sprinkle turbinado sugar on the top before baking) and really liked the flavor.

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I recently started watching Tori and Dean and I don’t know why but I love it. I used to think that Dean was not very good looking but he is growing on me and their baby….OMG so cute!!

I think Dean can be really good looking, or he can be kind of goofy looking, depending on what he’s doing or talking about.

I have to say, though the fact that he calls Tori “Mama” all the time annoys me, the way he looks at her – like he is the luckiest man on earth and God, how the hell did I get this lucky?! – melts my heart a little. And yeah, that is one adorable baby!

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Do you watch Chelsea Handler? If so, what do you think? We are definitely on board. Have to DVR it though, can’t stay up late to watch it real time.

I’ve never watched Chelsea Handler, but next time I’m in front of the TV, I’m going to set up to tape a few episodes and see if it’s something I want to keep watching.

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I can’t remember, what happened to Jake kitty? I think that was his name. He had been adopted and brought back maybe a couple of times.

I knew exactly which cat you were talking about, but it took the LONGEST time for me to remember his right name. Jack Frost! Jack Frost was adopted and returned a couple of times, but it appears that he’s been adopted for good – it’s been a few months and he hasn’t come back yet. Yay!

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The cupcakes look good. wouldn’t it be easier to just put a mini reeses peanut butter cup in the middle and then make the peanut butter frosting? (aside from the pain in the ass of unwrapping the peanut butter cups, that is. LOL)

Y’know, it wasn’t until you said that that I realized it was kind of silly to use a box mix to make the cupcake part, but have to mix peanut butter and powdered sugar and roll it up into balls. You’re right, it would be way easier to use mini peanut butter cups instead of dealing with the peanut butter. A lot less messy, too!

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Not that you were asking for suggestions… When we last froze corn we used a turkey fryer to boil the corn. Since it was set up outside the kitchen wasn’t so #*&$ hot, and we could do a ton of ears at a time. It may go without saying, but just in case: We filled the turkey fryer with water, not oil.

That’s an excellent idea. Am I wrong in believing that corn deep-fried in oil would be FABULOUS, though?

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You’ve seen this, haven’t you? http://www.drhorrible.com/ It’s from the creator of Buffy and Firefly. It’s truly great.

I actually did get to see all three parts when they were available on that page (they’re now only available via iTunes) and I agree – it was really good, and I liked the singing! When it comes out on DVD, I want to watch it again, though. I ADORE Neil Patrick Harris.

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There are even more great pics of the garden and how it’s laid out here: http://www.vituperation.com/2008/06/30. gave me ideas for my own (much smaller) one.

Kathy’s right, the pictures on that page do give a better idea of how the garden is laid out; Fred didn’t put it in his “Crooked Acres” category on his journal, which is how I missed it while I was looking for pictures last week.

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So dish: Is homegrown chicken significantly better tasting than store bought?

It absolutely is about ten zillion times better and more flavorful. And this was a year-old chicken (the chickens you buy in the store are about 45 days old when they’re processed), so it was a wee bit tougher than store-bought chicken, but the taste more than made up for it. Also, weighing in at just under three pounds before I popped it in the oven (in other words, bones and all), we still managed to get three meals out of one chicken – the roasted chicken we had for lunch on Sunday, then the chicken and rice casserole we had twice this week. Also, my lunch today!

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Oh I have no doubt you will eat the pigs…but I thought I read you will not be doing the slaughtering, correct?

Nope, a professional will be doing the job on the pigs. HOWEVER, Fred is already talking about getting a couple more pigs in a few months, and I’m fully aware that they will be ready to be processed in the cold months of the year, which means Fred will want to take care of them himself. And I vehemently protest this turn of events. VEHEMENTLY. I think it should be left up to the professionals. And I will be going out of town if he insists on processing them himself.

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I swear, I thought you were going to segue into saying, “and that’s why Fred and I have become vegan,” ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

Fred enjoys his meat far too much to ever do that; so do I, for that matter!

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Good for you, Robyn! Personally, I don’t think I could do it. I’m reading “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” and there’s a passage in there about killing chickens. The author takes his turn at it to see what it’s like. It’s certainly better than how factory chickens are raised and killed. Have you read this book? You might find it interesting.

I own it, but I haven’t read it yet. Hopefully I’ll get around to it soon!

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I figured you had to kill chickens sooner or later. Otherwise, you’d be known as the crazy chicken lady instead of crazy cat lady. You ONLY have 9 permanent cats. Do you even know how many chickens you have these days? I had no doubt on the pigs either. You do not like them, you won’t pet them, you feed them using a long stick etc! Ha ha! I was surprised when Fred mentioned in his blog that the pigs are going in August or September. I thought it was more like November. He did mention getting a cow. Are you going to be milking it or Fred or is it going to be a steer just for beef?

We have around 50 chickens, and four of our hens are currently sitting on 17 eggs, so the population will be exploding here, pretty quickly!

(Actually, Fred spotted our first newborn last night when he was making his rounds.)

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I do, actually, like the pigs. Or at least I find them entertaining, and they crack me up when we (Fred) feeds them cookies and they chew the cookies and look all contemplative, like they’re fine gourmets who are considering the ingredients of their snack before they decide how to rate us in the Piggelin Guide.

And we feed them using a skewer ’cause they get kinda bitey when they get excited, and I’m attached (HAR HAR) to my fingers.

We originally thought it would be later in the year before they’d be big enough, but Farmwife called it when she said it wouldn’t be that long because they’d be big enough LONG before the winter. Fred measured them last week and Big Pig is over 200 pounds; Little Pig is around 145. They’re a lot bigger at this point than we’d expected!

I don’t know which of us will be milking the cow – I’ve never milked a cow and don’t know how good I’d be at it, so we’ll have to see about that!

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Hey, yeah do those undies ride up? I have to admit, I buy men’s bikini underwear because for whatever reason, THEY stay where they are supposed to be. Womens always seem to be up my butt.

When I read “Womens always seem to be up my butt”, I snickered. That sounds like a line from a rap song.

I have have no riding-up issues with my Hanes Cotton Bikini panties at all, and I highly recommend them.

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Your green beans look just like my Grandma’s. Would you please tell us how you cook them?

I use Pioneer Woman’s Fresh Green Beans One Way recipe. Her recipe calls for red bell pepper and I don’t like bell pepper, so I just leave that out, and it is still FABULOUS.

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I used to work on a poultry farm and it cracks me up that you went through the chopping method to kill your bird. We used to just put a foot on their head to hold them down and give a good yank on their legs. That breaks their necks and kills them instantly. I never had one go all flappy on me afterwards. I would never have lived through the sprayed with blood thing either. ick

and

I was told that my great grandmother lived on a farm and would just kill the chicken by grabbing it by the neck and swinging it around over her head breaking the neck.

I’ve had other people tell me that neck-wringing was the way to go, too, but I don’t know that I can bring myself to do that. Give me time, maybe one day I could, but I’m just a poor beginner when it comes to this stuff, y’know. After perusing Carla Emery’s book (we call it the Country Bible), I found that in her chicken section she listed methods of killing chickens from worst to best. The worst? Chopping its head off. The best? Using a killing cone. You can read more at Fred’s site if you’re interested; I don’t think I’ll be going into any more chicken-killing specifics in the future. I prefer to focus on the happier and less grisly side of life!

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Why does Flappy look raw in the photo?!?

‘Cause we take the skin off our chicken after cooking it. It was skinless but cooked through, believe me – nothing makes me gag faster than the idea of eating raw (or rare!) chicken. Gah.

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At first glance I thought that pattypan squash thing was some sort of muffin-like pizza dish and I got all excited, but then I read what it was and yea, the excitement was lost. Oh well, it still looks nice.

I don’t know what a muffin-like pizza dish would be, but I’m with you – I want some of that!

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Ok, if pigs don’t have sweat glands then how does one “sweat like a pig?”

Hell if I know! Maybe you go roll around in a mud hole?

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I hate squash SO MUCH (as in it makes me GAG), but that patty pan stuff kind of looks good. Can you get it in grocery stores?

I’ve never seen pattypan squash in the grocery store. The first time we found it was at a farmer’s market, which gave Fred the idea to grow it ourselves, and I know I’ve seen it from time to time at the produce stand I drive by regularly, but never in the grocery stores.

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The “little” pig? Little? Robyn, there is no longer any “little” pig. They’re both HUGE!

Well, compared to the big pig he’s little! Littler, maybe? Smaller? Smaller pig? We have to have some way to differentiate them when we’re talking about them, though the little pig is a pushy little brat, maybe we could go to calling them Mr. Nice and Mr. Pushy.

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Do your cats ever just flop down in such a manner that you have to go and nudge them, to make sure they haven’t had a stroke or something? My mom’s cat does that. Walking across the room, and BAM, on the floor.

They don’t ever flop down so suddenly that I think they’ve had a stroke, but at least once a day I’ll see a cat that is sleeping so hard that they look like they’re not even breathing, so I either nudge them ’til they look up sleepily at me all “WTF?”, or I make a kissy noise at them so they’ll twitch their ears.

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Those pigs are no longer cute lil piggies; they richly deserve the name “Hogs.” I bet they will be extremely delicious. Would you consider shipping some bacon???

I haven’t asked, so I don’t know for sure, but I suspect that giving any of our bacon to someone else would probably be considered a divorceable offense by Fred.

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A webcam on crooked acres’ farm would be most entertaining!!!

I agree! One out by the pigs, one by the chickens, one on the front porch, and one in the foster kitten room would be perfect. Fred doesn’t agree with me, though – at least, not yet!

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Will you butcher the pigs at the same time? If you don’t, will the remaining piggy be lonely without his friend to whisper secrets to?

Yeah, they’ll both be going at the same time. I don’t know if pigs are particularly social, but these two like to hang out together, they’re almost always in the same part of the yard, and they like to chase each other around, too. Partly they’ll both be going because we wouldn’t want the one who was left behind to be lonely, but also getting them there is going to be… not difficult, but it’ll take some planning as far as getting them there, and I think it’s better to do it once instead of twice.

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Robyn, what ever happened to the Spiderman you used to photograph when you were remodeling/painting Crooked Acres? I haven’t seen him in a long, long time. Did he get et by a pig perhaps?

He’s still around here somewhere. After his tussle with Malevolent Madeleine, he hasn’t quite been the same. After sitting around on his Spidey ass eating too many donuts and gaining some flab, he started working out and he’s almost back in fighting form.

Good thing – I hear there are some VERY BAD kittens around here somewhere…

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i saw this on apartment therapy and just had to share the photo with you…are you sure that’s not your house:) hehe

I LOVE it! I think Fred should build me something like that, don’t you?

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I have a question about squirrels (I know you have had your fun and games with them). Someone in the neighborhood is giving them peanuts. They are planting the peanuts in my flower garden, digging in the soil and killing all my plants. How can I get them to stop?

I’m the wrong person to ask, ’cause I’ve never even tried to stop the squirrels from the pain in the ass stuff they do – but I have the best readers in all the land, and I bet they have great suggestions. Readers?

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Are you watching Date My Ex? I keep forgetting to ask.

No, I haven’t seen it yet and I don’t think I want to. I strongly suspect that it’s going to end with Slade saying “Jo, after all this, I’ve come to the conclusion that the best man for you is ME!” and Jo will be all (in baby talk) “OMG! Slade, you’re right!” and they’ll get back together and next year will come the reality show My Big Fat Dysfunctional Relationship.

Jo bugs me with the baby talk and Slade is just so slick he makes me want to smack him.

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I cannot stand Tori and Dean, yet I watch that damn program every week. (I usually catch the 15th out of 45th rerun, or some other such nonsense.) Do you think their marriage will last, or will it implode just like about every other celeb marriage that is the basis of a television show?

Who knows? Hollywood marriages don’t have a tendency of lasting very long, obviously, but SOMEONE has to be the next Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, right?

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When making your homemade laundry detergent, did you use an old stockpot? I would really love to try and make this, but I don’t have a stockpot that is not being used for cooking food. (And I can’t use that one, lest I poison all the people in the house. Right?) Do people really have pots that they use just for non-food purposes?

I do have a pot devoted to nothing but laundry detergent, it’s a big cheap pot I bought somewhere last year and then never used. I was just concerned that after I made the soap I wouldn’t be able to get the pot clean enough to make food in it, and decided to err on the side of caution.

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I love baked beans but I can’t fathom growing navy beans when they are 29 cents a pound at the grocery store. On the other hand, I should plant and learn to tap a maple tree since I’m willing to pay $7/pound for maple sugar, which I use in my baked beans.

Well, to be fair they cost 99 cents a pound around here. Since we planted half a pound at the beginning of the summer and ended up with four and a half pounds, that’s QUITE the savings!

Okay, maybe not.

It’s less about the saving-money aspect and more about the knowing where our food comes from. And it’s just kind of cool to grow our own food and then can it as baked beans and not have to go out and buy a can when we need it. Kind of dorky, I know, but that’s us. 🙂

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The face of disgust kills me. "Yeah, I know. He KEEPS showing it to me. He thinks I WANT to see it. This is what I live with, day in and day out."

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Some cats like to sit IN the box. Not our Joe Bob – he’s a rebel.

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Previously
2007: Evan Rachel Wood! You are throwing away your youth and beauty on a talentless freak! You are wasting the pretty! Stop it right now, young lady!
2006: No entry.
2005: Home again, home again.
2004: I am a SUCKAH for the bullshit claims on bottles of lotion.
2003: Momma always said, stupid is as stupid does…
2002: No entry.
2001: Oh joy.
2000: I’m such a wimp that even a confrontation on TV ties my stomach in knots.

7/24/08

by @ Thursday, July 24th, 2008. Filed under Fostering, Life

Reader Lisa says:

I recently wrote an article for Compassion International, (the child sponsor organization), and am looking for people to read it and leave a comment. I know you have a huge following and am wondering if you could post the link and ask people to take a look? The article is called “Iowa, Flooding and the Global Food Crisis.” It’s about how the floods in Iowa are going to effect the global food supply and those who live in poverty in other countries.

Y’all go check it out and comment on the article, would you?

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Someone did a site search on “Dancing Guy Video” yesterday. It used to be here, but it’s been removed due to copyright infringement. DAMNIT.

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How is it that a cat can get in a litter box, do his (OH MY GOD THE STANK) business and then scratch around for five full minutes and THEN go skipping off without having covered their great big nasty pile of stank? HOW? I spend half my friggin’ life using the litter scoop to cover the nastiness myself, and that just ain’t right.

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I have a confession.

I’ve been watching Tori and Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood. On purpose.

I kind of enjoy it – ALTHOUGH I should add that I’m usually playing Scrabble on Facebook (on the laptop) while I watch it.

Dean is SERIOUSLY whipped, but he’s kinda likable in a bumbling sort of way. I’d prefer it if he’d STOP CALLING TORI “MAMA”, but whatever.

Shaddup.

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A few weeks ago when I made pineapple upside-down cake, Fred asked if I’d used dark brown sugar when I made it. I told him that I had, and he asked if, next time, I’d use light brown sugar instead.

“Brown sugar is white sugar mixed with molasses,” he said. “And the darker the sugar, the more molasses are in the sugar.”

“I never knew that!” I said. Which is to say that I never thought about it – and if I had, I probably would have come to the conclusion that dark brown sugar came from a different part of the… cane than white sugar. Or something. I don’t know – who the hell thinks about these things?!

“Yeah. And you know I don’t really like molasses.”

“I know, baby.”

So yesterday when several of you pointed out in my comments that Bush’s Baked Beans have molasses in them, Fred was all “They need to look at the ingredients on a can of Bush’s! There’s no molasses in there!” Because during the bean-baking process, we’d both looked at the ingredients to what was in those damn baked beans.

“Well, except for the molasses in the brown sugar, right?” I said.

Silence.

“Because brown sugar is white sugar mixed with molasses, right?” I prodded.

Silence. And then I heard the tappity-tap-tap of a man looking on Google.

“Huh,” he eventually said. “It IS. I didn’t know that!”

So my question to you: when the Alzheimer’s gets really bad, would it be better to feed him to the pigs or just chop his head off with the hatchet?

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By the way, thank you, all of you who shared your baked bean recipes with me! I’m going to have to buy several bags of navy beans at the grocery store later so we can try them all and decide which ones we like the most.

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Hey, remember a couple of weeks ago when I dropped a bunch of bill payments in the mailbox and then realized later I’d sent them out with 41 cent stamps affixed instead of the correct 42 cent stamps?

Not only were the bills not returned to me, all the checks I sent out that day have cleared.

Kinda cool.

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“Nyah.”

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Previously
2007: (Yeah, yeah, har. I am HILARIOUS.)
2006: No entry.
2005: No entry.
2004: No entry.
2003: No entry.
2002: “You mean Todd Beamer wasn’t the only one on that flight?”
2001: That’s it, that’s all the Miz Poo stories I have at the moment. I hope that’ll hold you.
2000: At the end, after having achieved a size 8, Jemima porked ALL the way back up to a 10, the cow.

7/23/08

by @ Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008. Filed under Crooked Acres, Fostering, Life

Some days I feel like the stream of dirty dishes is endless and I do nothing all goddamn day long but wash dish after dish after dish, dry them, put them away, and then – bingo! – the sink is full of dishes again.

Yesterday was one of those days. Fred harvested the navy beans last weekend, and I looked around online for a canned baked bean recipe, and so yesterday I spent all day making the goddamn things which involved washing the beans, measuring them, figuring out how much water to add, bringing the water (with beans) to a boil, letting them sit for an hour, draining them, adding them back to the pot with fresh water, bringing the water to a boil again, then draining them while reserving the liquid and good god, what a pain in the ass.

I love – LOVE – baked beans, and last year after we harvested the black-eyed peas I said “What kind of beans do you use to make baked beans? Let’s grow some of those!” So earlier this year Fred put navy beans on the grocery list and I bought a bag of dried navy beans, and we planted half of them in the garden.

(I’m sorry, is it not fucking AWESOME that you can buy a bag of beans at the grocery store, plant them, and have them GROW? I’ll never get over that.)

After the harvested beans were – what the fuck is the word I’m looking for? De-podded? There’s a word, I just cannot think of it. I’m ovulating and have Stupid Brain today. YOU’RE WELCOME. – removed from their pods and ready to go, I weighed what we had, and we ended up with four and a half pounds. Four and a half pounds from half a pound planted. Not shabby, I guess, though Fred thinks if he were to pick the pods when they were done growing instead of leaving them to dry on the bush, we might have ended up with more.

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So I found this recipe for making your own canned baked beans, and first the issue was that Fred doesn’t like molasses, but we got the suggestion from a canning guru on the forum where he hangs out to substitute honey or brown sugar for the molasses, then once I got to the part where the beans were baking in the oven, I thought about the fact that there’s 3 tablespoons of honey for 4 1/2 pounds of navy beans, and I don’t know much but I’m pretty sure that the baked beans we usually use are way sweeter than 3 tablespoons would make them.

We usually eat Bush’s Baked Beans, for the record.

I spent some time looking around online after my beans had been in the oven for a few hours, and stumbled upon a site where someone claimed that they used the baked bean recipe in the Ball Blue Book, and when they substituted maple syrup for the molasses, it tasted exactly like the Bush’s baked beans. Since my baked beans were already in the oven with their honey sauce, I decided I’d grab a bag of navy beans at the grocery store when I go on Thursday and try that version of baked beans.

Meantime, I had to take the beans out of the oven every hour to make sure they were covered with liquid, and since I was using a flimsy foil pan, every time I took them out of the oven I dumped liquid and beans on the bottom of the oven, which burned. You can imagine how fantastic my house was smelling by then.

With the beans finally done cooking at around 3:00, I got them canned (well, half of them canned. 5 pounds of navy beans makes about 7 quart-size canning jars; my pressure canner only holds 4 jars at a time, so I had to put the uncanned beans in a plastic container to can at a future date (probably later today). When Fred got home, he tasted the beans and declared that they just tasted like cooked beans, not like there was any honey or spices in there at all.

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Grrrr.

We talked about it some more, and I think that when I can the second half of the beans, I may stir some BBQ sauce in with them to improve the flavor. I don’t know. Those of you who know about canning and baked beans – hell, even those of you who don’t – what would you recommend I do? Suggestions? I don’t want these beans to go to waste!

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So in and amongst all the bean baking and canning, I put the leftover chicken from Sunday’s lunch on to simmer for a few hours so I could pick the chicken off the bones and make chicken and rice casserole. I was concerned that there wouldn’t be enough chicken meat to make a small batch of the casserole, but there was enough, and after we ate it for dinner last night, we had enough left over for another night.

Tonight, I’m making a stuffed pattypan squash for myself and a stuffed green pepper for Fred. And some oven-fried squash and green tomato.

Ordinarily before I go get groceries on Sunday, we make a list of the meals we want to have throughout the week, but this past Sunday I decided to just figure it out as the week went along, and if I had to run to the store to get something, it’s only a five minute drive to the crappy grocery store. So far, I haven’t had to get a thing – between our garden and our chickens, we’ve pretty much been all set this week.

I love it when that happens.

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Previously
2007: No entry.
2006: No entry.
2005: No entry.
2004: I really REALLY want a monkeypod tree for my back yard.
2003: Bonus entry, just for you!
2002: Sit on it.
2001: Packing, packing, packing.
2000: No entry.

7-22-08

by @ Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008. Filed under Crooked Acres, Life

When I was looking through past entries to get the links at the bottom of this page (yes, I do them by hand every day), I came across this entry from six years ago. It’s about the day I was vacuuming the house and came across a great big fat meaty frog in the study and I freaked out and shut the door, and if you want to know more, go read the entry. At the time, I belonged to a mailing list and people were emailing back and forth about how funny it was.

And this one woman, someone who annoyed the everloving shit out of me every time she sent an email to the list, said “I don’t see what the big deal is, it was just a frog, I have no problems handling frogs. ::shrug::”

That only confirmed my belief that she was a humorless douchebag and what annoys the shit out of me lo these many years later is that every time I see that entry, I always think of her and get annoyed all over again.

(No, it isn’t you. It’s someone who never read me, who always annoyed me, and may or may not still have some kind of online presence. I don’t know and I wouldn’t read her if I did.)

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Yesterday morning, the phone rang.

“It’s going to be really, really hot today,” Fred informed me. “The temperature’s going to be up around 100, and with the heat index it’s supposed to be close to 110. The pigs have mud in their wallow, but it’s only filled about halfway. Would you go out and run the hose to the hole and let the water run for five minutes or so, so it’s got water in there too, and they can really sink down in it?”

Pigs, for the record, wallow in mud because they have no sweat glands and covering themselves in mud keeps them cool and protects their skin from sunburn as well.

I went out to the pig yard and at first I didn’t see them anywhere and I worried for a moment that maybe they’d sprouted wings and flown over the fence or were piled up in their shelter (I can’t imagine anything less comfortable on a hot hot summer morning than a pile of hay (straw? One or the other) in an unventilated shelter, but then I realized they’d camouflaged themselves. They’re wily ones, those pigs.

I took the end off the hose and opened the gate, sure that the pigs would hear me and come running for their treat. (And I wished I’d thought to bring them a few treats while I was at it.)

They didn’t move.

I walked across the pig yard toward the wallow, sure that they’d turn and grunt at me at any moment.

They didn’t move.

I was about two feet away from the hole where they were sound asleep before the big pig heard me, and he turned his head and was startled by my presence, which in turn startled the little pig, which in turn startled me and all three of us kind of ran in place for a moment. They both stood up out of the mud, accompanied by a loud sucking sound, and they climbed out of the hole and blinked sleepily at me.

I put the end of the hose in the wallow, then went to the spigot and turned it on. The pigs checked their troughs, ate some pig chow, and grunted sleepily at each other.

While I was waiting for the wallow to fill, I wandered off and filled the bird feeders and gave the chickens some bird feed and talked to Maxi and Newt, who were hanging out on the driveway. By the time I got back to the pig yard, about ten minutes had lapsed, and as I got closer, I could see the pigs, happily back in their wallow.

It was filled almost all the way, and they were happily blowing bubbles and telling secrets.

Then I came inside and made a batch of cookies for them. This time, along with the raisins, I tossed in a handful of chocolate chips and a sprinkle of cinnamon on top.

I call them Piggerdoodles.

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We sure have a lot of chickens. And we’re due to have a bunch more – we have 4 broody chickens sitting on 17 eggs right now. Also, we apparently have at least a few roosters from the batch of eggs we hatched ourselves. I haven’t seen it myself, but apparently the little roosters are trying to get some hen lovin’, and McLovin’ isn’t taking it well.

He thinks they’re HIS wimmin, y’know.

When I went outside yesterday at 1:00 to get a bowl of Sungold tomatoes off the plant in the back yard for my lunch, there wasn’t a chicken to be seen in the chicken yard. When I leaned down and looked, I could see them all under the chicken coop, trying to stay cool. I hate seeing them walk around with their beaks open, trying to cool down.

I think they need a window air conditioning unit in the coop.

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Food I have made recently:

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Stuffed Pattypan Squash.

One day last week Fred mentioned that he’d read somewhere that people would hollow out Pattypan Squash and stuff and bake them. Since pattypan is a pain in the ass to slice for oven-fried squash, I decided to give it a try. After looking around online for recipes, I ended up coming up with my own. I boiled the pattypan to soften it up, scooped out the seeds, and made a filling of browned ground beef (which Fred got from his coworker who raises his own cattle and gave us several pounds of ground beef), chopped onion (from our garden), brown rice, and spaghetti sauce. I stuffed the squash, sprinkled cheese on top, and baked it for 15 minutes.

That recipe was definitely a keeper – and it’s here, in case you want it for future reference. I find that I have a whole new appreciation for Pattypan! I made four Stuffed Pattypans, and we each ate one, and had the leftovers for dinner last night. I ended up with leftover filling, which I’ll use in a green pepper for Fred for dinner tomorrow night. Can’t let it go to waste!

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Last Friday I made Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cupcakes. These were chocolate cupcakes made from a mix, with a peanut butter center and buttercream frosting. They weren’t bad, but I bet that if the cake had been made from scratch and the frosting had been peanut butter frosting instead of buttercream, it would have been killer.

We knew we wouldn’t eat 24 cupcakes (or even 12), so we gave the pigs the batter that was left over after I made a dozen cupcakes, and then we ended up giving them several of the 12 that I made and frosted.

The pigs really like Fridays, as you can imagine, because they always get our leftovers from whatever sweet treat I made for us. It’s a rough life, but someone’s gotta live it.

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Kitten, mid-jump.


Getting some time away from the kittens.


“What?”

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Newt, flopped out on the patio and sleeping like the dead.

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Previously
2007: No entry.
2006: Maine facts.
2005: No entry.
2004: No entry.
2003: “Okay, first of all she wasn’t married to Frank Gifford, that was Kathie Lee, and secondly FRANK GIFFORD ISN’T DEAD!”
2002: “Hallo, Clarice,” he said.
2001: No entry.
2000: No entry.

7/21/08

by @ Monday, July 21st, 2008. Filed under Crooked Acres, Fostering, Life

I finally posted an entry at OneFatBitchypoo, and at the bottom there’s a link to my surgery before-and-after pictures. No underwear pics, though, ya pervs.

I’m plenty pleased with my results.

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Almost two years ago when we bought this house, we bought it with the intention of making a life for ourselves that was both simpler and a lot more work. We wanted to go from a McMansion house on a tiny bit of land to a smaller house that suited us better on a lot more land. Land we could use to feed ourselves. With that in mind, we planted a garden to provide us with vegetables and we bought chickens to provide us with eggs and eventually meat.

This summer, there’s been a disconnect between what we’d intended and what we’d accomplished – that is, we were getting plenty of vegetables from the garden, and eating them and putting them away for the winter, we were eating lots of eggs (I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of scrambled eggs), and our chicken population was growing by leaps and bounds.

But we weren’t killing and eating chickens the way we’d intended. At first, we didn’t kill any of our first batch of chickens because they were providing us so nicely with eggs and even enough that we could occasionally sell some. Then we got the second batch of chickens, and we still didn’t eat any chickens, because we were waiting for our second batch to start laying.

With every meal, the disconnect grew. We were eating vegetables we’d grown ourselves on plates next to factory-grown chickens who assuredly don’t live the life of Riley the ways ours do.

And then we realized that Flappy, after providing us with the super-freaky double egg, stopped laying altogether. Fred suggested that we use her as our “test” chicken, to see if we had the intestinal fortitude to eat our own chickens. I put him off for a while, but this past week he got insistent. It was apparently time to put our money where our mouths were. Were we going to be able to kill and eat one of our own chickens, or should we just make little beds for them in the house and start treating them like pets?

We talked about doing it early Friday morning, but Fred was afraid that he’d lay awake all night fretting about it, so when he got home Thursday from work, he declared that it was time. We went out and tried to catch Flappy.

Flappy – always a bit of a spaz – dodged and feinted and weaved and hid under the chicken coop. I don’t for one minute believe that she had any idea what was coming, just that these big lumbering idiots were trying to touch her and she DID NOT WANT. After a few tries, I noticed that there was an unused gate leaned up against the chicken coop, and I grabbed it and it helped immeasurably in cornering her.

Fred picked her up, and she was completely calm and docile. We walked through the chicken yard to a spot over by the garden where Fred had put the big tree stump we were going to use. It wasn’t until this point that I started getting butterflies in my stomach. I’d occasionally thought during the day of what we were going to do, but hadn’t dwelt on it. Fred and I are polar opposites when it comes to this sort of thing – he dreads it all the way up until the moment of, and then he’s okay; I’m okay right up until the moment of.

Fred put her down on the stump, her head between two nails. She remained completely calm, and I lifted the hatchet to do the chop, and she blinked up at me. Something about seeing her blink made the voice in my head scream “NO WAY”, but then I thought “I have to”, and a moment later it was done. Then I turned and walked away a little and lost it for a moment.

Fred wrote that I preferred to do the actual chopping rather than hold her body, but in actuality I volunteered to do the chopping because then I wouldn’t feel bad about going inside and letting him deal with the feathers and guts. He never suggested that I do the chop; it was my idea. I never really doubted that I could do it, but I didn’t ENJOY it or look forward to it.

I suspect that it surprises a lot of people that I would be willing to do the killing myself, and that I’ll be doing it again in the future. It surprises me that it surprises you. Though they’re very entertaining to watch, and I like Frick a LOT (Frick is absolutely never going to become dinner; she’s too much like a little puppy, and I get to play favorites if I want to) and I am without a doubt an animal lover, I don’t consider the chickens to be our pets. They’re a food source, and they’ll be spoiled rotten as long as they’re with us, but in the end they’re going to be eaten.

That’s what they’re for.

(Fred wrote about the process in a little more detail, if you’re interested.)

The disconcerting thing to me was how at 4:00 Flappy looked like any ol’ chicken running around, and an hour later she looked like a chicken you’d see in the grocery store. I don’t know what I expected her to look like, but apparently I didn’t expect her to look like that.

Once Fred cleaned her, we put her in a bag in the refrigerator, then on Saturday I made a brine and put her in it. For Sunday lunch, we had roasted chicken, deviled eggs (made with our eggs and pickle relish I canned last year), green beans, oven-fried yellow and pattypan squash, corn on the cob, and sliced tomatoes. Everything grown in our garden or in our chicken yard.

Fred’s plate:

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It was fabulous.

Back when we named the pigs (and we never ever call them by name, by the way – they’re just “the big pig” and “the pushy little bastard pig” to us these days), people warned us that naming them would ensure we’d never eat them.

Well.

We named Flappy, and not only did we eat her, we called her by name right up until the moment we ate her – and even while we were eating her, as a matter of fact. So apparently naming animals doesn’t stop US from eating them.

Out of curiosity – anyone still think we won’t eat those pigs?

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“Be vewwy quiet, girlies. It will come closer and I will GET IT! Watch Mama at work!”

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Something hath disturbed the Boogs.

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Previously
2007: No entry.
2006: No entry.
2005: No entry.
2004: No entry.
2003: Handwritten.
2002: No entry.
2001: No entry.
2000: Jemima J.

7/18/08

by @ Friday, July 18th, 2008. Filed under CAE, Fostering, Life

A couple of weeks ago someone asked:

I was going through my bookmarked blogs the other day and ran across the old link for Anita’s site (bald moses). I miss her writing. Do you know what happened to her? Is she writing somewhere else?

In my response to the question, I totally lied and said I didn’t know, but I got the okay from her to announce that actually she’s blogging privately, and anyone who wants to know where, email me and I’ll forward your email to her.

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What a garden haul! I have a question about the cucumbers: are those two different varieties? I was wondering why some curve when the rest are straight. Last year all my cukes curved, but I didn’t know why. Still tasted good, just looked odd.

Yeah, they’re two different varieties – Straight Eights, and Pickling Cucumbers, I’m told. I’ll be damned if I can tell any difference between the two – and as a reminder to 2009 Robyn and Fred, YOU DON’T NEED TWO DIFFERENT KINDS OF CUCUMBERS. Pickling cucumbers are all you need. You don’t really LIKE cucumbers all that much, and for the love of god, only plant one panel worth of cucumbers, not TWO.

For the green beans, have you tried the recipe on the Pioneer Woman Cooks blog? I haven’t tried it yet, but it looks so good!

I’ve made it several times – always without the red peppers, because I don’t like bell peppers (or any kind, really) – and though I’ve never actually gotten to the point where the onion carmelizes (no matter what temperature I cook it at or whether I keep the lid on or not or how long I cook it), it’s still DAMN good. I also don’t use bacon grease, because we rarely have bacon and thus have no grease to keep around, so I stick with the butter/ olive oil combo.

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It seems like you have so many veggies and you don’t like doing all the canning and what not. Did you ever think of planting less or selling/giving some away???

Well, no. I’m canning this stuff not for shits and giggles, but so we’ll have it to eat through the year until next Summer, when we can have it fresh from the garden again. You can enjoy the results of something without enjoying the process of getting there. Once we’ve put away enough of each vegetable to get us through the year and have made sure our friends and family have more than enough, we either feed the excess to the pigs and chickens, or yank the plants up.

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Is that thing Zoe is sitting on a cat scratcher?

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Yeah, it’s one of these (I did NOT pay $30 for it, though! I don’t think I got it at the pet store, either. Maybe Target or Wal-Mart?). Also, there’s a fuzzy ball hanging down from the part that curves upward, and Zoe likes to get on her back under there and bat at it. She looks like a little kitty mechanic when she does.

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How do you prepare your sweet corn for freezing? The last recipe I tried was a disaster; the directions were a real pain and the end result was hard and unappetizing.

We have this book , the Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery. In it, she says that she brings a big pot to boil, puts as many ears of corn that will fit in it, then when the water comes back to a boil (it takes a few minutes), she removes the corn and puts it in ice water. That’s what I did this weekend with all our corn – the other books I have say that you should blanch the ears for like 10 minutes – that’s WAY too long in my opinion, and you’ll end up with mushy corn.

Another way to do it, if you have room – we did this last year – is to just freeze the corn in the husk without blanching or anything (though you’ll want to put the ears in bags for freezing). When you’re ready to eat it, thaw it out (still in the husk) and microwave it for three minutes. It tastes great and it’s easier to husk after it’s been microwaved, too. The only reason we didn’t do that this year is because our ears of corn were particularly wormy – every ear of corn Fred checked had a worm in it – and I didn’t want to find a cooked worm in my corn next year!

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Are those hats or just stuffed animals on the cats’ heads? I can’t believe you got one on the Boogs. Is he hetting much?

They’re hats. I got them at Target (I stood in the aisle and giggled for several minutes when I spotted them, imagining how much we’d have torturing the cats), and I’d link to them, but I can’t seem to find them on the Target site.

Mister Boogers didn’t het for long – he’s a kind and benevolent Boogs.

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Have you taken any pictures of your garden? I didn’t realize you had so many different things growing at once. It’d be cool to see it all before it was harvested all pretty on the vines/trees/etc.

I thought I had, but apparently not! Fred’s got pictures here and here (from early May), though.

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I was thinking of doing a fall garden….I’ve never done one. In fact, I haven’t even done a summer garden in probably 15 years. So, do tell, Robyn….what does one plant in a Fall garden? Because I’d like to try it this fall.

This Fall, we’re planning on growing:

Collards
Turnips
Carrots
Broccoli
Cauliflower
Cabbage
Potatoes (we grew red potatoes this summer, and will grow white this Fall)
and possibly Kale

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I need your help, Oh Creative One-I’m planning my first ever trip to Maine in September and have no idea where to start with planning. I want to eat lobster and just generally see some pretty scenery. I love the water and would enjoy some easy hiking. Any suggestions? We’ll be there 4-5 days.

A great area to stay in Maine for day hiking, seeing wildlife, and go whale watching (not to mention shopping) would be either the Portland area (they have a walking/ running path around the Back Bay, boat tours that leave pretty regularly in the summer and early Fall, and plenty of shopping – though for some SERIOUS outlet shopping, I’d recommend either Freeport or Kittery) or Bar Harbor. I’d almost recommend Bar Harbor higher than Portland because it’s near Acadia National Park (ie, lots of day hikes – http://www.acadia.national-park.com/hike.htm ), it’s on the water and if I recall correctly, it’s got ferries to nearby islands, some of which you can spend lots of time exploring on foot. It used to have pretty good shopping – lots of little shops to check out – when I was last there (though it’s been a few years), and it’s a very pretty small-town Maine experience.

The Seabasket has – in my opinion – the best seafood in all of Maine.

That’s what comes to mind right away – those of you who’ve been to Maine, feel free to chime in with suggestions!

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You’re making cookies? For the pigs? Don’t take this the wrong way, because I say this with love, but that’s CRAZY.

and

Homemade cookies for pigs – yep – crazy! Isn’t easier to just buy some day old cheapy cookies?

I am SO not crazy. It takes like 10 minutes to make the cookies, I know what’s going into the them (ie, BETTER FOR THEM), and I don’t have to haul my ass to the store to buy cheap-ass chemical-filled cookies. HMPH.

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Robyn: We get to suggest “Best of”s? I like the Senator Boogerton entry.

One of the absolute best entries EVAH is the one describing how you got your arm stuck behind the bed. PRETTY PLEASE add that one.

This one? Also, I am sad to say, I got my arm stuck behind the bed a second time six months later, and Fred wrote about it.

Anyone who ever wants to suggest an entry for the “Best Of” page, feel free to!

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Is it the camera angle or is Zoe really like half the size of the others?!

It’s the camera angle. Zoe and Kaylee are about the same size – they’re the little ones I call my “peanuts” – Inara’s bigger than both of them, and River is the moose of the bunch.

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Is there something wrong with Mr. Booger’s eye?

If he spends too much time outside, Mister Boogers’ allergies start acting up, and his one eye gets watery and kind of gross looking. If it gets particularly bad, we treat it with chlorpheneramine which usually clears it right up.

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Edgar may be your secret boyfriend but Phil of Cornelia Marie, Rick of Maverick and Sig of Northwestern are mine. >D I got a little captain in me.

Man, stop bogarting all the captains! My favorite captain is Phil but for overall funnest boat I have to say that the Hillstrands seem to have some serious good times.

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what do you do with the dried cherry tomatoes?

I stick ’em in the freezer, and then during the winter I make what we’ve come to call “vegetable medley” with yellow squash, pattypan squash, zucchini, okra, and dehydrated cherry tomatoes. It’s faaaaaaaabulous.

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Kittens, fighting. First on the bed, and then in the tub:

See it here in MPG format.

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Joe Bob, probably planning to pee on my laundry when I’m not looking.

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Previously
2007: Like mud with a soupcon of cat poop stirred in for good measure.
2006: No entry.
2005: No entry.
2004: No entry.
2003: If I were Jennifer Lopez, I would be VERY frightened at the thought of birthing an Affleck baby, if noggins like that run in the family.
2002: I mean, an online journal. Have you ever heard of such a silly thing?
2001: No entry.
2000: Okay, I just really don’t have anything to say today.

[Bitchypoo is peeing-her-pants excited to be powered by WordPress.]