Thursday, May 9, 2013

Bluebirds and Tree Swallows Finally Nesting

It has finally happened.  Both the Tree Swallows and the Bluebirds have started to build their nests.  They are pretty late this year, but it has happened.

Every single year it is like watching the Hatfields and the McCoys.  We have two bird houses spaced about twenty three feet apart.  The Bluebirds usually come first but this year the Tree Swallows were the first to arrive.  They just hang around for a while, look in both houses and then start building.  They always choose the same house even though I am sure these aren't the same birds returning year after year.  During the process, the bluebirds sit in a nearby tree but as soon as they show any interest in going into their house, they are bombarded by the swallows.  They even physically fight with feathers flying.  Soon one or the other completes their nest, lays the eggs and begins incubating.  At that point the other finishes and from then on everything is fine.  They live in harmony.

The Tree Swallow sitting on the bluebird house.

The Bluebird sitting on the Tree Swallow house.                                             

Tree Swallow

Tree Swallows guarding the area

Female bluebird waiting for help

Let's get started

Here we go.

Oops, I dropped it.

Ok, lets try again.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Sam Got His Brown-Black Belt

I really don't know anything about karate.  I just know that they wear special outfits and go barefoot.  Sometimes they kick and sometimes they jab.  I do know that it has been a wonderful activity for my grandson Sam.  Sam started to go to karate when he was four and a half.

Sam when he first began Karate

He will be nine in July.  For over four years he has been learning and practicing, working through the different belts.  He has been mastering different karate positions and even breaking boards.

Board breaking day with his dad holding the board

Then last Saturday Sam tested for a Brown-Black belt.  He learned all the routines and passed with flying colors.  Karate teaches self discipline and confidence.  It was sometimes hard for him but he kept at it and succeeded.  In six months he will be able to try for his Black Belt.  Quite an accomplishment for a boy his age.  We are very proud.

Sam doing pushups

Karate is serious business

Using the Bo Staff


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Make Your Own Ketchup and Barbeque Sauce

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about Date Paste (Date Paste) and how much I enjoyed it as a nutritious sweetener.

With the paste I made ketchup, which I mentioned but I didn't provide the recipe.  I also made Barbeque sauce.  Here are both recipes from the chicagohealthygirl blog.

Homemade Ketchup

3 cups tomato paste
1 cup date paste
2 cups white vinegar
1 large white onion
4 garlic cloves
Optional add ins: 1 red, yellow, or green bell pepper, 5 sweet peppers, 1/2 jalapeno, 1/2 chili pepper, 1/4 - 1/2 cup honey, increase garlic cloves up to 10 cloves

Directions: Place the tomato paste in a large sauce pan. Set aside. Add all other ingredients to the blender and blend until completely smooth. Add this mixture to the sauce pan and stir well. Heat over medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring frequently.   It is important to stir frequently.  I just went to the sink for a couple seconds and this is what happened.  Oops!

Ketchup splatters on the ceiling.  It's like bubbling lava.
Place into a container of your choice and store it in the refrigerator.

Ketchup, it's very thick.

Barbeque Sauce

1 1/4 cups ketchup (use homemade ketchup...or this will not be nearly as good)
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup date paste
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup mustard
1 red bell pepper, stem removed
1 large white onion
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper (freshly ground is best)
1/2 chili pepper (optional)
Directions: Place all of the ingredients in the blender and blend until liquified. You can use this sauce immediately, but it tastes better to let it sit overnight in the refrigerator to allow the flavors to mix.

BBQ sauce

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Woodchuck In Our Yard

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Hopefully not much or I might wake up some day in a pile of sawdust.

Woodchuck or Groundhog

This little guy has been showing up around our yard the last few days.  I don't know where he lives, but I probably should figure it out.  He was even up on our porch yesterday until I chased him away.  Notice our grass or lack of it.  Last year we had a terrible drought, and our grass burned up.  It doesn't look like it will recover this year.  Clearly this animal isn't here for the lush green grass.