Friday, July 31, 2009

Of Ducks and the Death of a Dream

This bit takes place back in late May and early June. It’s only now that I can talk about it.

I find that life is odd in that a crushing blow can come in any disguise. This time it came as ducks. This is serious business. A dream of mine was laid to rest just weeks ago. The wound is still fresh.

Ducks by pots wm.jpeg

I’ll start somewhere in the middle. I’m not always good with times and dates.

Somewhere back yonder in my late thirties I thought I would own me some omelets- I mean chickens. Don’t quite remember how the notion was first placed in my head, but there it sat. Much research was done. Much. I researched chicken houses, chicken tractors, the Eglu and building my own chicken structure. Rather, someone who knows how to correctly use power tools, building me a chicken structure.

Much research was done on types of chickens. Bantams and Standards, Brown egg layers and white egg layers. There are silkies, cresteds, cockerels, BBQ’ers (it is what you think it is) and leghorns. I even shanghaied the family into attending the State Fair Poultry competition. Chickens are serious business. I wrote down breeds and winners and contact information. The owners, nice farm people, watched me assured I was some important city girl come to invest in a large amount of ribboned poultry. A lot of pictures were taken. Sixty dollars worth of books were purchased so that much knowledge would be gained.

Picnik collage wm.jpeg

There were naysayers in my life. “How can you keep chickens with cats?”, they said. “Farms, cats and chickens have existed for hundreds of years”, I said. “You can’t have a rooster in the city!”, they said. “You can order them by sex.”, I said. “They’ll eat up your flowers and tear up your yard.”, they said. “They’ll eat the weeds too.”, I said. “They’re messy!”, they said. “It will be fun.”, I said… This last one was my undoing. Did you hear the wail? That, dear reader, is what a dream that is dying sounds like.

So, you ask how does this relate to ducks? I’m getting there. If you remember, in late May I left my home and traveled to Colorado for my sisters wedding. I knew a small amount of mayhem and foolishness would ensue whilst I was gone. I returned to find two baby ducks growing on my backyard patio. They were precious. Small. They had names. Jedidiah and Levi. I don’t know why those names were chosen. It doesn’t really matter.

Graduation pic wm.jpeg

Being a responsible parent, I investigated into the perpetrator of this malfeasance. The “perp”? The eldest daughter. Soon to be High School graduate, intelligent child, should have known better. Stern talk was made about pet ownership responsibility, research and the life purpose of ducks. I let them stay. If only…

The eldest daughter spent much time working at her summer job and at summer visits with her father, living in another city. These activities took her away from the care, love and attention 2 baby ducks require. More and more of my time was spent caring, loving and attending. Yes, I loved those baby ducks. Each morning, when I went out to spend time in my backyard, they greeted me with their little ducky cheeps. Under my watchful eyes, they would waddle through the backyard curiously pecking at leaves and such. We fed them grasshoppers. They joyfully played in the water that sprayed from the “needing to be repaired” outdoor faucet.

ducks playing in the water wm.jpeg

At first they lived in the cage that was purchased for my chickens. Humph. A wee pond was improvised for them from a hamster cage. Soon, they needed something bigger. I bought a toddler pool. They were happy and cheeped their appreciation. They swam round and round, playfully ducking under water. Such good times. They also poo-ed. Poo is a small word. As soon as the pool was clean and they were replaced, they poo-ed. I don’t understand that. I had been warned by the naysayer that fowl do poo.

duckie pool wm.jpeg

Ducks poo in exponential amounts. Each morning and evening was spent changing out the foul, discolored poo water.

Mornings are important. A disagreeable start to a day translates to a disagreeable day. Many disagreeable mornings ensued. It was a difficult time. It was hard to balance the affection for the cute duckies and what came from their hineys.

The end had to come. I issued the proclamation, in my best person of authority voice, that all things foul -fowl, had to leave immediately, if not sooner. Henceforth, never to return. Balking and hemming and hawing came from the “perp.” Threats were made. Jedidiah and Levi left in a box (that they very quickly poo-ed in) to be returned to the feed store from whence they came.

That, I guess, is the end of the story. No more ducks. No more dreams of chicken ownership. The ducky poo ruined everything. But, you know, looking at all the chicken sites for this story, I can’t help but dream…

My favorite chicken sites:

The City Chicken

McMurray Hatchery

Brown Egg Blue Egg

You tube video may all your dreams .jpeg

Monday, July 27, 2009

A dreamy way to spend a summer afternoon

   We are having some unusually cool and overcast summer days here in Texas.  Perfect timing for a summer dream to come true.  I need to gather a few things.  Come along with me.

   Definitely going to need a few of these hanging out above me. (Click the second one down on the right,The Flamenco, it’s my favorite.)  They’re as good as candy .  Probably going to need a freestanding hammock.  One that  holds two people so Lovey can join me.  And of course my favorite lemonade which just happens to be very pretty to look at.  It helps when the weather cooperates and it’s that perfect temperature, where you don’t feel warm or cool, which makes me a little sleepy.  Oh, and if the place you are choosing to dream is too warm, play song #68 from my Playlist below.  So right in the middle of a good summer book I drift off…

A good recipe for Strawberry Lemonade

lemonade in glass wm.jpeg

Adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

1 lemon, sliced thin, ends discarded

2 cups fresh strawberries, washed and hulled

1 1/2 cups sugar

7 cups cold club soda

2 cups fresh lemon juice (about 12 lemons)

ice for serving

Mash the lemon slices, strawberries and sugar in a large non-reactive pot or deep bowl until the slices release their juice and the sugar begins to dissolve.

muddling the lemons wm.jpeg

Warm lemons quickly in microwave (10-30 seconds, depending on your microwave) till they are just warm.  Roll on counter to soften.  The warming and rolling seems to help them yield more juice.  Juice the lemons.

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(Above are the tools I use to make lemonade.  The juicer is on the left and is from Wal-Mart.  The masher in the middle is plastic coated so that it doesn’t scratch my non-stick pan.  The little thing on the left is a strawberry huller.  To use it, stick one side into the strawberry under the hull, pinch the hull and pull up.  Makes quick work of a lot of strawberries and the kids can use it too to help hull all those strawberries for the homemade jam you’re making this summer!)

Stir the club soda and lemon juice into the strawberry/sugar mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Pour over ice to serve.


  • Mashing the lemon slices with the sugar is called “muddling.”  Muddling is sort of like meddling except that meddling is done with your teenage children and their facebook account.  But I digress…  “muddling, or lightly mashing the sliced lemon to release its essential oils gives this lemonade a balanced citrus flavor, without an overwhelming acidity.”
  • You can also use regular water
  • You can substitute fresh or frozen blueberries and raspberries for the strawberries
  • I use about 8 lemons as I never seem to have 12 lemons

lemons and strawberries wm.jpeg

When life hands you a beautiful day, make lemonade!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday Morning Collecting

   Once again, I think I mentioned a different topic to post but I had to share this.  So consider this a blog commercial and not a post!

   I peeked into my art room today and what a mess!   Right now it seems easier to collect stuff that’s already pretty than to even think about making it. Here’s a few things I found today yard sale-ing.  Did you find any pretties today?

          green glass wm. jpeg

   These are my favorite find today.  Actually, I picked these up at The Goodwill, $1 for both.  They have a iridescent shine.  I’m sure there is a name for this type of glass. 

tin with flowers wm.jpeg

   I seem to have started a Tin collection.  I have several now.  They’re charmingly utilitarian.  I use them in the bathroom to hold lip gloss and cotton balls, etc.  This one looks cheery holding flowers I think.

fan dish wm.jpeg

    And what do you think of this little dish?  So nice to toss rings or bracelets in.

   That’s all.  Have a happy weekend!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Promised Summertime Dinner Recipe

Gosh, somewhere back in time I remember promising my favorite summertime dinner recipe. S-o-r-r-y! We took a family vacation (to Colorado- more about that later), I came back and watered flowers, ate cookies, then I found myself and here I am ready to share that recipe with you. You’ll love it. It will have been worth the wait.

When I last made the recipe it was more “wet” than usual, as you’ll see in the pic’s, but was still tasty. Maybe we nibbled on the chicken a little and had less to add… Here at last is my quick go to, no cooking, summertime recipe!

Chicken roll up wm.jpeg This recipe came from the August 2008, House Beautiful magazine

Almond Chutney Chicken in Lettuce Roll-Ups

Chicken Salad:

1 3-pound roasted chicken

1 medium red onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice

Grated zest of 1 large lemon

Juice of 3 large lemons, or more to taste

2 Jalapeno chilies, seeded and minced, or hot sauce to taste

9-ounce jar Major Grey Chutney, cut into bite-size pieces if necessary

1/2 cup mayonnaise

Salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste

3 large stalks celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1 cup whole salted almonds, coarse chopped

Lettuce Cups and Herbs

1 large head Bibb lettuce, leaves separated, washed and dried

1 large bunch fresh basil, washed and dried

1 large bunch fresh cilantro, washed and dried

8 radishes, thin sliced

1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and sliced into thin rounds or 2-inch sticks

1 Pull the meat from the chicken carcass, discarding the skin and bones. Cut it into bite-size pieces.

2 In a large bowl combine the onion, lemon zest and juice, jalapeno, chutney, mayo, salt, and pepper. Fold in the chicken. Taste the mix for lemon, mayo, and spice, adding more as needed. Let it stand for 20 minutes to blend flavors or refrigerate overnight.

3 To serve, blend the celery and nuts into the chicken mixture. Mound the salad at one side of a big platter. Pile up the lettuce leaves at the other side, and cluster sprigs of herbs in the center. Tuck the radishes and cucumbers next to the herbs.

4 Put a few herb leaves in the bottom of a lettuce “cup,” top them with a spoonful of the salad, a slice each of radish and cucumber, and roll up.

Chicken wrap fixings wm.jpeg

Above are all the “fixin’s.” I use the almonds (purchased slivered to save on prep time) and the celery as an add on and not mixed into the chicken salad. Everyone adds their favorites. In the magazine, one guest noted as he waved his basil leaf, “These are the key to the whole enterprise!” I agree, the basil is fantastic and, you know, you really should have some growing in a pot in the backyard.

Something new to try…

Chicken wrap in rice paper wm.jpeg

We also like to eat the chicken salad wrapped in Spring Roll wrappers. If you’ve never used these before, you’re in for some fun! The kids will like making these. Above, is a brand I’ve found in my local grocery store. Spring Roll wrappers are made of rice and tapioca and need to be softened in water to eat. To make them, get a large bowl and fill it with warm tap water. Put one spring roll wrapper in the water at a time and let it soften for a minute (or less). They are translucent and will feel rubbery and bend easily when ready. Take out of the water and lay flat on a plate. Fill with the lettuce, chicken salad and fixin’s. Fold up like a burrito, which is fold ends in first and then roll up. The wrapper will stick to itself and stay in a nice little package. As seen in the pic above, Spring Rolls make a pretty presentation when you layer the cilantro and a radish slice on to the wrapper first, then a piece of lettuce, then chicken salad.

A few more notes if you’re still hanging around here and not out by the pool…

  • About the roasted chicken; I purchase mine at Costco as it is affordable and much larger than the one I can purchase at the grocery store. Go for the big chicken, you’re going to want a lot of this hanging around in your fridge.
  • To get lemon zest, I use a size “fine” Microplane. These are available at your favorite kitchen store or places like Central Market.
  • If you want to tone down the “heat” from the jalapeno’s, be sure to remove the veins and seeds. That’s where your heat is. To keep the oil off of my hands (and later out of my baby kitty eyes when I take off my makeup for bedtime!) I wear a sandwich baggie like a glove to pull out the veins and seeds. Then I can just toss the baggie out with the veins and seeds.
  • Major Grey Chutney can be found in the ethnic foods section of most grocery stores. It comes in regular and spicy. I’ve used both and liked them both. The mango pieces in the chutney are large and need to be chopped up.
  • I use whatever lettuce I have on hand, Bib or Iceberg.

Yummo! Please invite me over to help you eat these!

Next blog: A dreamy way I’d like to spend a summer afternoon