Monday, June 24, 2013

Backyard Treasures

We have lived in our house for nine years (which is crazy to me), and we have had this ugly prickly tree in the backyard that assaults any being who gets too close.  Decomposed berries hang off the tree and scatter all over the ground; we have had many years of trying to keep the animals away from them.  

Our friends were over last summer and they took a picture of the tree with its leaves and berries.  After consulting with some gardening experts, they reported back that the tree is a sour cherry tree.  That's pretty awesome, but what do you do with sour cherries?  I made a batch of just-OK scones last year and called it a day.

Good thing this prickly beast provides some tasty cherries.
The eldest Picky has been watching the tree with baited breath and yesterday she announced it was finally ready!  Sure enough, the little hanging fruit had turned bright red overnight.  So as the Pickies got ready for the day (ie: started the fighting before 8:00 a.m.), I harvested some of the cherries.

Surprisingly, I was inspired to bake yesterday afternoon and I put Little Miss Picky to work.  In-between Kelly Clarkson tunes, while I got the batter ready, I taught her how to prep the cherries-she removed the stems, rinsed them and pitted each one.  I was glad to have her so helpful and willing.  (Because let's face it-you never know what you will get with an almost nine-year old girl).

And the muffins were a pretty awesome mix of sweet and sour.  Kind of like my Pickies.

Cherry Almond Muffins

1 cup unsweetened vanilla coconut milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup oat flour
1/2 cup sugar (plus more for sprinkling)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup favorite vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract

2 cups sliced sour cherries

Preheat oven to 375 degree.  Grease your favorite muffin pan-you know, the one that doesn't have all the crispsies from the last baking adventure.  In a small bowl, add the apple cider vinegar to the coconut milk and set aside (this my non-vegan friends, is how you make butter"milk").  

In a large mixing bowl, stir together all the dry ingredients.  Add the oil and extract to your milk and gently pour it into the flour mixture.  Mix together until the batter is moistened...don't over-mix!  Fold the cherries gently into the batter.

Fill each muffin cup about 2/3 of the way.  Sprinkle with sugar on top.  Bake for 25 minutes.  
Try not to eat them all.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Little Beings of Fur, Whimsy and CHOMP CHOMP

So my Pickies are err...picky and wonderful and exhausting, but the little furry beings that take up my heart are another story.

Hubby and I LOVE animals (duh) and when we were dating back in the day, we went to California and came home with a Boston Terrier pup.  We were such responsible adults; we not only brought her home on the airplane cross country, but we lived in an apartment with a pretty strict "no pet" clause.  Kali was sweet but she had a mean bite ("CHOMP, CHOMP!") and she did eat my first ever pair of expensive Steve Madden boots.  But we loved her anyway.

We continued our quest of responsibility when we rescued Pugsley (surprise-a pug!) from a puppy mill.  She came home the size of my palm and I loved her with every ounce of my being.  Of course she came to that "no pet" apartment where she and Kali became best buddies.  OK, not really, but they loved and tolerated one another amongst chewed-up carpet (hey, it wasn't ours!) and puppy pee pads.

Nine years went by with no issue; we moved, we had kids, the little beings carved out their places on couch cushions and in the laundry room.  Pugsley lost one of her eyes in a freak gasoline fight (shout-out to "Zoolander")-no, not really, but she had an accident and had to have it removed.  And for the next two years, she was the sweetest, kindest, most patient dog on the planet.  

A year later, we rescued Winnie the Pug and she brought an interesting energy to the house.  See, we knew that the girls were getting older and we were afraid that if one of them passed, the other would be miserable.  So Winnie, at seven months old, brought the playful side out of Pugsley and the persnickety side of Kali.

Pugsley passed away this past October and we buried her in the backyard and sang "Let it Be".  

Two months later in pure "The Notebook" fashion, we lost Kali as well.  We spread her ashes in the same area as Pugs, and we sang "Let it Be" again.  Sidenote:  My kids now get sad when they hear this song.  Lesson?  Don't use perfectly beautiful songs for animal funerals if you want to keep liking them.

We spent this winter with one dog-the first time in over ten years.  And we eagerly anticipated getting Winnie another little furry being to play, romp and create mischief.

And there is our Ruby.  She is 2 1/2 months old and she is teething something awful.  Pity the animal, human or article of clothing that comes towards her mouth because CHOMP, CHOMP, she gets it.  Hoping this is a quick phase.

It is extraordinary how these little beings conquer our hearts and how much the grief physically hurts when they are gone.  Not only for us adults, but the Pickies talk a lot about them, too.  I'm so glad that they are able to experience the love and compassion of animal companionship-even if it means I'm mad at the pup for biting my favorite dress (or two!).

We will always have these little beings and their stories in our hearts.  What are YOUR animal stories?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Hopefully Summer Can Get Past Bodily Functions

Summer vacation is here and this was a text from yesterday:

(me): "He hasn't puked in over 24 hours and boom-continually every 20 minutes for the next few hours"
(response): "That's awful!
(me): "Yes.  Especially since I got toilet water in my eye during one of the sessions.  It's OK to laugh."

That about sums it up. Ladies and Gentlemen, we have started summer vacation with the stomach flu. Besides the random vomiting at the most inopportune times, jumping into action every time someone coughs, and making the littlest Picky carry a bucket everywhere he goes, it's been OK. I've worked on laundry, planted a garden, read and even got in a couple workouts.
Hello Veggies.
But now what? As I wait to see who will be the next to drop, we need to have some fun. Not too much fun, the kind of fun that requires a bit of resting as to not aggravate the ex-sicky Picky. 

 I would like it to NOT include:
  • Vomiting (duh)
  • The Wiggles "Hot Poppin' Popcorn dvd or music
  • Slug-Bug or Jeeper assaults
  • Dog pee from the new puppy (who is very cute-but she bites and pees in the house.)
    I'm cute but my teeth are sharp!
I'm hoping I can stick with blogging this summer's adventures. I'll let you know what the Pickies decide they want to do to pass the beautiful, warm days.

The biggest picky just stepped in pee. 
And as the littlest picky would say, "That's what you get!"