Sunday, August 31, 2008

Thanks for Voting!

So Joel and I sat down and really tried to figure out the last time he had no facial hair. The votes, as you can see, confirm that it's been a long time since any of us have seen Joel without a beard, mustache or goatee. This picture was taken Halloween of 1997 - Joel and Diane went as Drew and Mimi from The Drew Carey Show. I'm not sure if they won any awards that Halloween but they should have!!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

It's Been Years...literally!

How do you startle your wife of 13 years then make her laugh? You say you're going to go shave your head (a normal and common occurrence), allow the razor to take over and shave ALL the hair off of your head! I have not seen Joel without some sort of facial hair for years! It's a debate on how long it's been but I'm saying right around the time Noah was born was the last time - that's over 7 years! I'm still trying to get used to it and hear rumors that this look won't last. I had put Noah to bed while he was doing this and when I found Joel trying to impersonate a naked mole rat I went and got Noah out of bed and told him to go look at his dad. Noah came around the corner in the bathroom, looked at Joel, then started laughing. He went back to bed laughing. Oliver didn't see him until the next day when Joel got home from work. Noah and I had been telling Oliver all day long that Daddy looked different and didn't have his beard or mustache anymore. Ollie did really well when he saw Joel and it didn't seem to phase him much at all. Now, go answer the poll on the left side of our blog...


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Tastes Like Chicken

I finally cooked up one of our chickens tonight and it was delicious! Joel and I are trying to figure out how to describe the difference and what we have to say is that it tastes like chicken, really good chicken. I know, I know, but it's the truth. I roasted the chicken simply - just a little bit of butter, stuffing, homegrown delicious green beans from Chris and Amy, mashed potatoes and a light gravy. It was wonderful! This was a big meal for us considering it wasn't a holiday but we figured the first cooked bird was worth it...just hope Joel doesn't expect this with every bird!

Escrima Stick Training Leads to...

A Star Wars party!! Last Friday Kanthak Karate celebrated how well the kids did with their Escrima Stick training by having a party full of light saber wielding students! Noah had a lot of fun and is already talking about next years party.

Patiently waiting for the fun to begin.

An idea of how they decorated. All the windows blacked out and lots of fun stuff that glows in black light after the regular lights are turned off.

As so it begins...

Mr. B taking them through their angles.

Noah's a little blurry but it's a fun picture none-the-less.

Gives you an idea of what the room looked like.

Noah going through his freestyle routine.

Posing at the end for a group shot.

One of Noah's favorite pictures is of Mr. B with TWO light sabers running through his freestyle routine.

The Cool Down

After our day of processing chickens we had wanted to just go somewhere and get away from it all for a while. Just as we were wrapping things up and they guys were getting ready to return the equipment Ben and Christie called to see if we wanted to come over and swim. Of course we said yes and headed over for some fun in the pool and pizza. Just a couple of quick shots...

They had just purchased some motorized bumper boats for their pool. All of the kids had a great time playing in them. It gave Oliver a new level of freedom in the water and it gave all of us adults a day of being sprayed in the face!
The gang in the pool. So much fun on a hot day!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

An Anniversary Wish

Today is John and Stephanie's 13th wedding anniversary. They were married two weeks after Joel and I were married. It was a beautiful wedding...you can check out a couple pictures on their blog.

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Chickens Are Ready to Eat

**WARNING**
The following blog post and pictures may be disturbing to some people. I questioned if I should actually post this on our blog but there are a lot of people that were interested in how it went and what it was all about. Plus, it's what we did, it was a fair bit of work and it was a first for us all. So this is your last warning, do not continue if you don't want to see pictures of our "escapades".

Note: Steph posted her take on the day at her blog, go check it out at
http://thepyrytnest.blogspot.com/
and leave her a comment too!!


Today was chicken processing day. The chickens (see this post) we got with The Pyryt's back in June were finally big enough to butcher. I will write about it up here at the top and if you decide you don't want to see pictures you can stop before scrolling down. Steph and I drove out to Aurora yesterday and picked up some equipment for this morning. If you decide to raise and butcher your own chickens I suggest finding or renting equipment like we did. Go to www.portableplucker.com for more information. Anyway, we picked up the scalder, the Featherman plucker and some killing cones. Joel headed down to John and Steph's at 7am and I followed after the boys woke up and had a quick breakfast. The first couple of birds took a while but we figure that we processed the last 14 in about 2 hours. Not bad for a bunch of rookies that didn't know what they were doing. Don't get me wrong, Steph and I have been studying since the day we ordered the chicks but studying and doing are completely different. Wes and Kim Betts, who are considering raising some birds of their own in the future, also joined us this morning. As we got into the swing of things this is how it played out. Note: I'm not holding back so if reading graphic posts might bother you then stop now. John and Joel would retrieve two chickens and bring them over to the processing area. The chickens were then put into the killing cones, head down and their throats cut quickly and cleanly with a sharp knife. The cones (and the guys) held the chickens snugly, which helped to keep them calm while they bled out. Keeping them snug in the cone and calm prevents bruising and unnecessary stress on the chickens. I have to say that Joel and John handled this part in grand style. They just did what had to be done, didn't complain and kept the day moving right along. I didn't do this part today but Steph did try killing one but had a brief moment of panic so John quickly stepped in and took care of the bird. Props to Steph for giving it a try though! After about 2 minutes of bleeding the birds were moved to the scalder. The scalder is set to cycle at about 150 degrees. Scalding the chickens for about a minute loosens the feathers and makes it much easier to remove them. Wes did a great job of keeping an eye on the clock for us. Now, a lot of people pluck their feathers by hand but we opted for the plucker. The Portable Plucker is a plastic bucket lined with a bunch of rubber fingers. As the water sprays down onto the bird(s) the bottom plate spins and rolls the chicken(s) around and the rubber fingers grab and pluck the feathers. As the feathers are pulled off they are washed down and out a chute at the back of the plucker. It took about a minute for this process! A quick spin and you have a clean bird ready for the butchering table. Kim, Steph and I manned the butchering table. After my first bird, I took to this part really well, by the end I could process a bird fairly quickly. The feet come off first and they were tossed into a pot to be made into chicken stock later. Then we'd loosen the skin around the head and, as gross as it may sound, pulled it right off. Slicing into the skin on the neck and peeling it back allowed us to loosen the crop from the body which would be later pulled out the other end. The neck came out next after a quick loosening around the shoulders with the knife and a twist or two. The neck along with the heart, kidneys and livers were all tossed into a bucket that Steph is turning into dog food. At this time you turn the bird around and remove the oil gland on top of the tail. Flip the bird over, make a small cut and pull it open with your hands. Pulling it open made for a cleaner flap at the end. After the skin was loosened up a bit then it was time to dive in, literally. You slide your hand in up along the back bone all the way to the front of the bird. Scoop your fingers down and pull back slowly and firmly. Laugh at the odd noises and strange feeling as the contents of the chicken come out the back end and onto the table. A quick cut down and around the vent and voila your chicken is free of viscera, well mostly free anyway. The lungs don't like to be removed. You have to get in there and scrape them out. Sometimes you could slide a finger underneath and loosen it up quite a bit. A quick check to make sure everything came out, a hosing off and into the cooler it goes. Like I mentioned above we would take the organs and set them aside for Sunshine. In a nut shell that's how we processed our chickens. The birds are now sitting in ice water to rest and will be frozen tomorrow night or Monday morning.

**LAST WARNING**


Our setup, the butchering table ended up off the left of this picture.

One last look, we figure they averaged 5-7 pounds each.

Two chickens in the cones. I took this shot after they were done bleeding. This is a great picture to show how the cones help hold them in place.

The dip in the scalder. The guys ended up using a stick and wooden spoon to hold them under. The dunking apparatus seemed to allow them to float up too much. It might have worked better had we had more chickens on it but doing two at a time it was just easier to poke at them.

Joel, Noah and Sunshine watching a bird spin in the plucker. All of the kids thought this was interesting to watch.
A bird taking a ride in the plucker.
The bird, all plucked, ready to head to the butcher table.

Joel inspecting the freshly plucked chicken before we got to it with our knives.

I have a few other pictures of us butchering but I liked this one because Sunshine kept looking back and forth. She couldn't figure out which one of us was more likely to drop a chicken part. Kim and I, sorry Sunny, kept it all on the table or in the appropriate buckets.

Stephanie going for gold! Sorry, the Olympics are on, I couldn't resist!

Look at that bird! Into the cooler you go.

Okay, here is another warning!! If you do not have a sense of humor you are not allowed to look at the next picture!
*
*
*


John, choking his chicken!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Twilight Criterium

Last Friday, the 8th, we went down to the Twilight Criterium that happens in the North Park Blocks of Portland. Even if you don't bike much this is fun race to watch. I'm sure I've talked about criteriums before so I'll save you the details. Although the pictures convey the speed at which these guys fly around the course I also included a video just to make sure you get a feel for the race. We sat on the corner of 8th and Everett this year, corners are always fun to sit at during these races. We saw 4 or 5 crashes this year - talk about making your heart race! Come join us next year!!

That big streak there, that is a racer flying by us.

The pack coming around the corner, you could hear them changing gears, see them hammering down hard to hit the straight away and the sound that always made me cringe a little...their pedals hitting the pavement. Between them leaning into the turn and the condition of the road those pedals were scraping more often than I cared for!

Just a silly shot of Noah at the race but you can see the bikers flying by behind him. Just another perspective on the race.


This is a video of the racers coming around the corner we were sitting at.
video

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Rare Photo Opportunity

I wish I was better or maybe quicker with my camera and it's settings. I'm still learning (working on a different post on this right now actually) all about my camera and photography itself. I'm not a talented photographer by any means but I don't totally stink either. I'm just trying to be a good photographer that gets some decent pictures. Anyway, I was out practicing with my camera in my mom's flower bed and heard humming birds. It took me a second or two to figure out exactly where they were and I started snapping some pictures. Only a couple turned out and then I got this one, a rare sight indeed! It's not a fantastic picture but it's the one I got...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Recipe - Easy and Yummy!!

I always wanted to make my own tortillas but for some reason never did. Maybe I thought it would be more difficult or take a lot of time or, or, or - who knows what I was thinking! Anyway, taco night is a huge hit in this house and it's difficult to find organic tortillas and when you do they are usually so expensive. I finally decided to pull out this recipe that I've had forever and give making tortillas a try. WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG? It was simple, less expensive than even the regular packs of tortillas I end up buying and so delicious! I apologize to the author of this recipe, I can't remember where I got it from but I thank you. Here is the recipe, I inserted my notes in a different color text followed by a few pictures from my first time. I made these on a non-taco night just in case I messed them up. We tried them with many different things. I made 24 small tortillas with this recipe late afternoon and they were gone by noon the next day. We did have them again and that time they made it to taco night. I've also made home made corn tortillas recently, huevos rancheros anyone?
  • 4 cups white or whole wheat flour or half each (I use Bob's Red Mill Organic)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (I use Kosher)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (optional but I use it)
  • 1/3 cup shortening (I use Spectrum Organic All Vegetable Shortening)
  • Waxed Paper (I didn't use/do this part)

In a large bowl combine the flour, salt and baking powder. I prefer to use the baking powder because it makes the tortillas lighter, even if you roll them a little thick. The baking powder is not an authentic addition though, rather it is a southern mutation. Next cut in the shortening with a fork. When the flour is crumbly, add the water. Stir the dough with your fork until it makes a cohesive ball of dough. You may need to add an extra small spoonful of water if the dough is too dry. Be careful not to add too much though. When the dough forms a ball, knead it about 20 times. Then let it rest in the bowl for about 10 minutes. I do all of these steps in my Kitchen Aid mixer, even the kneading. After it has rested, form it into 10 or 12 equal balls. I made 24 smaller ones instead since we weren't using them for tacos that night. Roll each ball in a little flour, to coat the outside of it evenly. Place a ball of dough on a sheet of waxed paper, or a clean, well floured surface. Roll the dough out into a a 6 or 7-inch circle. Try to get it as thin as you can. Loosen the tortilla from the rolling surface. Flop it onto a dry, hot skillet. Cook about 30 seconds, until the under side is dry, with a few brown spots. Flip it and cook the other side the same way. Transfer the cooked tortilla to a plate, and cook the next one. This goes pretty fast after you get the hang of it. You can roll out all of the tortillas first, in one stage, and then cook them all in the second stage. After you practice it some, the whole procedure takes less than 20 minutes, and the tortillas are sooo good. Use them the same way you would store-bought tortillas: burritos, soft tacos, etc. Homemade tortillas are not as flexible as store-bought tortillas. To make them more flexible, place them in a plastic bag while still warm, and let them cool right there in the bag. The steam will make them more pliable, and easier to roll up into fancy burrito shapes. This recipe makes about a dozen big tortillas or 24 small.

I can get the small ones rolled out to about 6 inches. The larger ones I've made since are upwards of 10 to 12 inches.

Fist side is done and looking good! I found that fewer brown spots make them even more flexible in the end.

Steaming and cooling in a Ziploc bag, not many got to stay in there until they were completely cool.

Waiting for the dry hot pan.

The boys and I found that a warm tortilla, with a little bit of butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar makes a super tasty treat! Peanut butter, ham & cheese, hummus, plain - all delicious!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Riddle of The Day

So maybe it's not so much a riddle as it is natural progression of events in a house constantly full of boys! Here we go...

1) An innocent marshmallow minding it's own business, what did it ever do?2) A, not so innocent, boy looking a bit mischievous!

3) A sling shot being stretched to it's extreme in the hands of boy.

4) Innocent marshmallow being shot over wall into family room where a friend lies in wait for said marshmallow missile to appear. (Marshmallow is directly above Noah's head, see it?)

5) Boy encourages friend to, "give it a try!" So friend launches one too! (See this one? It's just to the left of the heating register it had just ricocheted off of the ceiling.)

Look Who Stopped By

It's none other than Bob, a.k.a. GrandBob! Bob and his girlfriend, T, decided to take a trip to Canada. T, the sane one, flew to Portland to meet up with Bob, the not so sane one, who drove from Laughlin Nevada. Bob got here before T but they both stayed to visit for a couple of days. They were taking off to drive up to Canada. T, again the sane one, will be flying back home but Bob, again the not so sane one, will be driving home hitting a few stops along the way. Always on the job he will be meeting up folks, doing interviews, doing some photo shoots, etc. It was great to see them both and we hope that it isn't so long before the next visit. Here are a few shots from the visit...

GrandBob

T, Bob, Joel, Oliver and Mauricia
Noah and I are behind the camera

T showing Noah how to make...

...these Origami Frogs

Bob, Noah and Ollie

Bob spoiled the boys a little bit and brought them each a gift. Noah got a remote control Wall-E and Oliver got a really cool Step 2 Firehouse, complete with firetrucks!


Thursday, August 07, 2008

August 6th, 1995

I should have posted this yesterday but ended up knee deep in multiple auto repairs and I just ran out of time and energy. Yesterday was our 13th wedding anniversary. Joel proposed on April 6 and we were married four months later in August. It was a small wedding, mostly family and a few special friends at Oaks Pioneer Church in Milwaukie. Quick and simple is the best way to describe our wedding day. I took some pictures of pictures to post from that day. Joel and I went out to dinner last night at P.F. Changs then headed to Powell's Bookstore to browse. Thanks mom for watching the boys.

The wedding party Tony, Joel (with hair), Tiff and Jodi
My mom made my dress and she did a great job!

Oaks Pioneer Church

The rings

Yuck - sorry!

Sisterly love???