Wednesday, July 23, 2014

I'm a Terrible Blogger

        Why, you ask? Well, firstly because I've been bad about actually posting as of late, and secondly because I'm leaving y'all. Again. I'm sorry. But I'm not sorry, 'cause guess where I'm going?!?! TEXAS! 
        But guess why I'm not a terrible blogger? Because it's my dear friend Kayla who I'm going to visit, and we actually met through blogging! See, I had been reading her blog, and saw that she had taken a temporary job in California - that's where I live. Then she mentioned 'going down to Fresno' to stay for a few days, and I thought, "Hey, she probably lives near me!" Anywhoo, I left her a comment with my email and we started chatting. Eventually, she came down for an afternoon, and we talked so late that she ended up staying the night. Problem? Not a bit. I think she ended up coming maybe two or three more times before she went back home, and by that time we, of course, were trying to plan how we could see each other again soon. Well, an opportunity presented itself, and I'm going to stay with her family for almost two weeks. I'll be leaving on Friday, and I won't be back until the 6th of August. During that time, I *think* I'll also be seeing Aspen, and possibly Desarae as well! I'm sure you can tell how awesome they are by their blogs as well. 
        SO although I have already left you too many times this summer, I am doing it again. I'm a bad blogger, but oh well! And if the stars align (that means if I get my act together and finish packing with more that five minutes to spare), you may just get another post before I leave. It's unlikely, so no promises. Savvy? 


Thursday, July 17, 2014

How To - Elderberry Syrup

        You may have heard of or seen elderberry syrup in health food stores, catalogs, or other places. It usually sells for about $25 per eight ounce, which is a pretty steep price if you ask me! Hey, I have good news for you - you can make it easily in your own kitchen! We do it each year; several times during elderberry season because we go through it so quickly during the year.

  • Fresh elderberries
  • Honey or maple syrup ( as the sweetener, you could use sugar as well)
  • Water
     The first thing to do is go find some elder trees growing remotely near your house. Take some large paper bags with you and pick the clumps of berries off. Here are a bunch of pictures I have taken over the years to help you identify this plant:

       You got it? As you might be able to see, they often grow on the sides of roads, which isn't the best location because of pollution. If you live in a relatively quiet area, though, this won't be a problem at all.

        When you get home from your berry picking excursion, you'll want to settle down and get the next step over with as quickly as possible. I usually put on a BBC miniseries and watch it at the kitchen table while I pick the berries off of the stems. Now, the stems are poisonous, so be sure you don't leave any of the large pieces in (the small stems that are directly connected to the berries are harmless. If there are some dried flowers still stuck to the berries, you don't have to worry about picking those off. You'll be straining the juice later.

         Put your berries into a large saucepan (or small, depending on how much berries you have). Add a small amount of water - perhaps enough to put an inch in the bottom of the pan. Cook the berries on medium-high heat until they're pretty soft, then puree the mixture with an immersion blender and cook some more. This is NOT an exact science, but you should have about 15 min of cooking time all together at this point. If you have more or less, guess what? It really doesn't matter.

         Strain the mixture through a cheesecloth or a bandana or something else like that. I usually leave this for a couple of hours.

         When all of the flowers and seeds and other stuff is strained out, pour the juice into a saucepan (you can just rinse out the one you were using before). You'll need to estimate or measure how much juice you have at this point, and then add 1/4 to 1/2 that amount on honey or maple syrup. If you are using sugar add 1/3 to 2/3. Heat it up to just before boiling, stirring to dissolve the sweetener. Taste it to see if it's sweet enough.

        When I'm making the syrup, altogether too much goes into the 'tasting bowl'. 

        We usually can some of ours and keep some in the fridge.

        So now that you have your delicious syrup, what do you do with it? Well, you can use it as pancake/waffle/french toast syrup, you can put it on hot cereal, in smoothies, milkshakes, yogurt - really anything you want! It's so tasty, and it's good for you! Eat it during flu season and you won't get sick; it's one of the most powerful anti-viral herbs. At the first symptom of flu, you can take one teaspoon every hour to prevent getting more sick, but you have to do it quickly. Don't wait! And in the meantime, just enjoy the lovely flavor of the syrup. For an extra spice, I like to add a bit of powdered ginger as well some batches.
        Let me know if you make some!


An Update On Goats

        I haven't been letting y'all know what's been going on with the goats lately, but I kinda figured I should since things are a bit different. I suppose I'll just go goat by goat and then summarize things at the end.

Eponine - My darlin' has been doing very well as of late. She is quite chubby, but then again, a chubby stomach in a goat shows that their rumen is healthy. ;) She is still my snuggle-bug, and a gorgeous goat, if I may say so. Since she isn't pregnant yet, I am thinking of just waiting a few more months (separating her and Thorin when she is in heat), so that she will have spring babies. I think that will be easier and more enjoyable.

Thorin - My little man is doing well too. He is starting to get a bit smelly, though, so when he wants to jump in my lap for snuggles I don't always let him. ;) I think the last time I posted a picture of him he had horns, but we have since banded them. He was too bossy around the food and wouldn't let Eponine eat. I've never done disbudding before but I'm thinking that it is a better option than the banding. It was SO hard to get the bands into the right place to begin with, and that process in itself was traumatizing to Thorin. He yelled bloody murder, not so much I think because it was painful, but because he was restrained and desperate to get away. After we got the bands on, he was fine for a few weeks, but when the bands started cutting into the horns we had some problems. I think this is normal, but there was quite a bit of blood and other stuff around the horns for about a week; we were worried it would get infected. Not to mention he was in a lot of pain during that time. I knew there wasn't anything we could do about it so I didn't let myself get too sad for him, but I'm not sure I would want to do that again. He just wanted to be by himself and just lay around for a week or so. When the horns fell off there was even more blood and stuff running down his face and... yeah, gross. This is when we first put the bands on:

And no, I don't have any pictures of the stuff running all down his poor little face. That was disgusting. Now, though, he has no horns. After the horns fell off, there were these gaping holes in his head where the main blood vessel had been. Since I had never seen anyone band a goat's horns before, I didn't know if any of this was normal or what, so I put some natural antibacterial powder on and hoped he'd be okay. He was, although now he's growing some scurs. That can't really be avoided when using the disbudding iron either (or so I've heard and seen), but the whole process was painful and traumatizing to him and scary for me. I don't think I'll be doing it again unless I absolutely have to. Of course, he doesn't remember any of it now - he's not very smart for a goat - but I still feel bad.

Lilly - No, Lilly isn't our goat, but we've been taking responsibility for her a lot lately. I don't want to say a lot of bad things about our neighbors, but lets just say that they have no memory (or other brains for that matter). To make a long story short, Lilly got sick because they were just feeding her big bowls of oats and alfalfa pellets three times a day, and her milk production dropped way off. Now, she never gave much milk to begin with since she doesn't come from good milk lines, but the amount we were getting was cut in half. My mom finally got it into their heads that if they didn't fix what she was going to eat. So, Lilly went on a diet. Milk production was completely shot by that time, so we still are hardly getting anything. We are thinking of breeding her too, because does always give more milk their second freshening.

        So that's what's been going on with our Capricorns. Breeding will probably be held off until Autumn, so I'll just content myself with taking them for walks and snuggling them. As much as I LOVE goat babies, I can wait. ;)


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

New Hunting Recurve

        I recently purchased a Shakespeare Kaibab hunting bow from someone on Craigslist. I had been wanting a bow for about two years (perhaps longer - I can't remember), but I just never came across the right one until a few weeks ago. It was a bit more expensive than I would have liked, but from the information I came across online, this bow is very rare and people hang on to them because they're so good. Thus, I was willing to pay a bit extra to get one of my own. :)
        It was made in the 70s, so it qualifies as vintage; I like that! It can be used to hunt larger game, since it has a 50+ draw weight, which is good 'cause I want to hunt deer. Another plus is that it came with five broadhead arrows, camo bow sleeves, and a glove. The glove was a size large, but I just moved the Velcro and it fits now. Here's a picture of the bow itself:

        These are practice arrows that I bought, since I can't use the broadheads for that purpose. I had them fitted at an archery store, but I think I'll need new ones soon since my arm is going to get stronger. I haven't done archery for a long time, but the guy who fitted me at the store said that I was able to pull the 50+ draw back much farther than he would have ever expected me to. He had to check on the bow again to make sure he read the draw weight right!

        The glove and armguard:

         I went with my brother to where he shoots his recurve at our neighbors' house; he has a straw bale set up with a target. I soon found out that my bow is far to strong for that, though. My arrows got lodged in the board behind and it was a nightmare to try to get them out without snapping them. A while back, a friend from church who owns a house in our town gave us permission to set up a target on his land, up in a clearing they don't really use. I'm going to get a few straw bales and put them back to back - then I can just walk the mile down there and shoot whenever I want.
        I love my bow! It is so strong; I was amazed at how fast those arrows flew, even when I didn't pull it back as far as I can! I'm really looking forward to eventually going deer hunting with it! :)
        What are your thoughts on archery? Have you ever bow hunted? Recurve? Compound (I know that's what almost all people use for hunting, especially large game)?


Monday, July 14, 2014

Golden Sky

        I snapped a few pictures out of my window this evening as the sun was setting. We have had a lot of wind and rolling clouds throughout the day, and that always makes for an unusual sunset. Usually - since I live in a city - the view is obscured by buildings and/or trees, but tonight I think those things actually added to the beauty. Silhouettes, anyone?

        Pretty, no? Sorry for ALL of the pictures - I couldn't chose my favorites. :)


Saturday, July 12, 2014


        Lately, our pastor has been talking a lot to us about the things that we do and why we do them. He's been working with the student leadership on this subject especially, and although I'm not officially in leadership yet, I've been kind of thinking about this a lot. 
        Why do we do sports? Why do we go to school? Why do we go hang out with our friends? Why do we do the things that we do? Mostly, it's probably for our own selfish reasons. At least it is for me. Why should we do the things we do? The answer to that is straightforward - although its application is far more difficult. Our duty as Believers, as adopted children of God, is to do all things for the greater honor and glory of our Savior. We were saved so we could do good works. Ephesians 2:10 says:

         'For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."

        When God chose us, not because of anything we could ever do, but simply out of His abundant mercy, we were in Christ a new creation. He picked us up off of our road to destruction (which we were perfectly enjoying), and turned us around. All because He loved us. All so that we could do good works. See, we are not saved because we do good works, but we are saved so we can do good works
        Anyway, I was examining my own life, and what my motives are for the activities I personally engage. One of them was, you guessed it, blogging. So I started thinking, well, why do I blog? I blog because it's fun. I blog because I learn things. I blog because most of my friends don't live around here and I like sharing what I'm up to with others. I blog because I like to pass on stuff I know to others. I blog because I like the people I meet.
        Why should I blog? I should blog to further Christ's kingdom. I feel like I've been rather lazy lately in this regard. Not only have I not been posting much - y'all may have noticed this - but I also haven't been posting about very important things. Movie reviews, music, blogging awards; they're pretty easy posts to do. Now please don't get me wrong, I LOVE getting blog awards. It makes my day every time! I love doing movie reviews. It's nice being able to fangirl completely over stuff and not get weird looks from my family. ;) 
        I feel like I've kind of neglected the reason I should be blogging, though. Yes, I suppose it's rather obvious from the about me section in my sidebar (and the page), and from the little picture I have below that, but aside from letting people know I'm a Christian, what else am I saying? Nothing, really. Do I want passers-by on my blog to think that followers of Christ are really just like unsaved people - only with a Bible on the shelf? No, of course not! But I'm not doing anything about it. 
        If I'm not blogging with the right motives, should I be blogging at all? How can I use this amazing opportunity to glorify God? That's what I've been thinking about lately.


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Liebster Blog Award

        I've been nominated for the first time for this delightful blogging award!

        The nomination came from my dear friend Aspen, who blogs over at Texas Rebel Girl. It's an awesome blog, if you ask me. Definitely go check it out if you have a moment.


Link back to the person who nominated you.

List 11 facts about yourself.

Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you.

Nominate 9 bloggers who have fewer than 200 followers.

Ask them 11 questions.

Let them know about the nomination.

        Since I already linked back to the blogger who nominated me, lets get started with the 11 facts!
  1. My nose is peeling for the second time this summer. Did I ever mention that I hate sunblock?
  2. We had steak for dinner last night for the first time in a few months. My dad barbequed it and it was heavenly. I love steak. :)
  3. My brother recently traded a whole bunch of crayfish he caught in the creek to a Mexican gentleman at the farmer's market for a whole bundle of fruit. White and yellow peaches, plums, apricots, etc.
  4. I am planning on buying a Phenix M1 fishing pole as soon as I save enough money. I'm not sure whether I want a bait casting or spinning rod, though.
  5. I've been singing Phantom of the Opera nonstop for the past two weeks. No idea why.
  6. I got a nice compliment from our youth pastor on thursday. He said that every times he sees me, I am 'the very picture of feminine grace'. It was nice to hear, but, umm, he has NO idea. Lol.
  7. We went to pick blackberries two days ago, and I still have scratches all over my arms.
  8. I just got the Indiana Jones piano sheet music - awesome!
  9. I like the A's and the Giants baseball teams equally.
  10. I have been studying Matthew 12 recently.
  11. I have an absolutely awesome little brother!
        Now moving on to the 11 questions from Aspen:

  1.  Favorite kind of tree? Hey, you'll never guess. Aspens!
  2. Your weapon of choice, sword, axe, bow or other (if so what and why)? This is one tough question! I've never had a sword, but I think I would like that muchly. Right now, I think I'll have to go with a bow. 
  3. Do you like hunting? Yes! I love it!
  4. Is there a book (besides the Bible) that inspires you? Why? Uh, well I'm sure this isn't the best one I could think up if I thought for longer, but Sherlock Holmes. I always feel inspired and go into detective mode for a day or so after I read some of that. :) 
  5. Are you a fan of Shakespeare? Yes, it makes me laugh sometimes. One of my favorite plays is The Tempest.
  6. If I handed you a wildcard plane ticket, where would you go? And why? By myself? That would mean either Texas or Maine. 
  7. Could you survive and make do with out all the modern conveniences (i.e phones, cars, computers, electricity, etc)? I think so. In fact, I think I would prefer to live that way.
  8. What's your ideal lifestyle situation? Well, my dream is to live on a homestead out in the country. Of course, I can't really do that unless my family moves (which won't happen soon if ever) or if I get married, so either way my husband or the rest of my family will have a big part of the decision making. With that being said, I would like either a cob or log house, chickens for eggs and meat, Alpine goats, sheep to eat, an alpaca, a jersey cow, and some angora rabbits. I want a garden and a sizeable orchard so we can be pretty self-sufficient. I'd like to use a wood-burning stove in the house and have an outdoor oven as well so that we don't use much electricity. Lanterns too, and an icebox. Get the picture?
  9. Are you a book hoarder? *raises hand..I am* Oh yeah. No question.
  10. OK, so this is kind of strange question, but what are some of your favorite smells? For instance mine are sweaty horses (don't you dare laugh...I can see you smirking! Wipe that smile off your face this instant! ;), leather-shops, feed stores, old books...stopping now. One of my favorite smells is from my Les Mis brochure that I got when I saw the show in SF two years ago. I loved the show, and I've never found anything else that smells like that brochure. And yes, right after that comes leather-shops, feed stores, old books, goats...
  11. Do you like coffee? I've actually never had it before. :/ I like coffee ice cream, though!

        And here are my nominees (I couldn't think up 9):

Laura at Gazing Wonders
Naomi at Wonderland Creek
 Khloe Grace at All Things Good

         And my questions for you are:

  1.  Do you have a favorite classic hymn? If so, what is it?
  2.  What is your favorite way to eat potatoes (this can be as common or unusual as you want)?
  3.  What do you consider to be the most fascinating time period in history?
  4.  Which time period would you best like to live in?
  5.  Have you ever worn a hoopskirt?
  6.  What might one find you doing on a rainy afternoon?
  7.  How many bookshelves do you have, if any?
  8.  Do you prefer a laptop or a desktop?
  9.  And now for my favorite (I've re-used it a couple of times so far): what's the desktop on your computer right now?
  10.  Do you like to write with a pen or a pencil?
  11.  What was the last song you sang?
        Thanks again Aspen for the nomination! I look forward to seeing my nominees' answers as well!


Saturday, July 5, 2014

Lessons From Working In Food Service

        I have been working at the local bakery/coffee shop for almost a year now. I make customers' espresso drinks, get them  their pastries and cakes, and make soups, salads, and sandwiches. Over the past 10 months, though, I've learned a lot more than just how to make a marbled mocha and the proper order for sandwich ingredients to go on the bread. Here are a few rules to make life easier for the people who work in these types of small businesses. Just because, well, that's nice. And yes, this is meant to be slightly humorous, although it's not one bit exaggerated. Keep in mind this only applies to small, non-chain, family-run restaurants.
  1. Be polite. If you are rude, the people serving you will will grudge their job. Just be nice, and it makes everyone happy. After standing up non-stop during an eight-hour shift, a polite smile can go miles. And don't come in and tell me for five minutes straight how awful my donuts look. You're not obligated to like or buy anything.
  2. Don't come in less than fifteen minutes before closing. At this point, we (the people working) are exhausted. We've probably already cleaned up most machines in anticipation of hopefully going home early. Please PLEASE PLEASE don't come in a few minutes before we lock the doors and ask for a panini, a bowl of soup, and a hot chocolate with whipped cream. Even if it's to go, that doesn't help much. We still have to clean up. Again. P.S. It's okay if you just want a few of the pastries left in the case or a cup of coffee. Just PLEASE nothing else. We'll tell you 'It's okay, I can make it for you'. Don't be fooled. We're lying. What we want to say is 'Leave now, and NEVER come back!' But we don't 'cause then we'd get fired.
  3. Some cafes have a policy that requires the workers to clear the tables - so you, the customer, can just leave them there. Many, however, don't. If you see a bin with a sign that reads 'PLATES', do us a favor and put them in when you're done. It only takes a few seconds, and makes things easier for us. :)
  4. Never EVER put a disposable cup into the trash can if it still has liquid in it. You may think that one small quarter of a cup of hot coffee won't do much damage, but trust me, that's what everyone thinks. It adds up, and by the end of the day a little person like me can't even lift the bag out of the can because it's so full of liquid. That's not the worst of it, either. If it's hot enough, it melts a hole in the bag and that's one more thing we find right as we're going out the door - we have to scrub the can as well.
  5. Enjoy your short stay at our little shop! We love our customers! As long as you are considerate and follow the above rules. :)


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

How To Train Your Dragon 2

        Yesterday, I went to see HTTYD 2 with one of my co-workers. Gah, where do I even start? Well, I suppose I could start with my feelings/opinion about the first one. I saw it a few years ago when we had free Netflix for a month, and I've seen it perhaps a half-dozen times since. We've gotten it from the library several times, and I watched it with my little cousins once. You might deduce simply from the fact I've watched it kind of a lot (and the fact that I went to see the second one in theaters, which I never do with movies) that I like it muchly. Is it a bad thing that I don't quite know why? Okay, I can think of a few reasons why I like it, but that's not really all of it. There is something more, something special about the story of the first movie that just grabbed me. These are the only things I could come up with for why I like it so:

  1. Vikings. I like vikings.
  2. Toothless. He is the most adorable dragon in the world.
  3. The music. It's SPECTACULAR.
  4. Gerard Butler's voice. 'Nuff said.
        See, that's all. I can't really explain why I like it so much without this post turning into a big gushing run-on sentence about HTTYD 1. We're supposed to be talking about 2 here! WARNING: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS AHEAD!! AND I WON'T BE ANNOUNCING THEM AS THEY COME!

*deep breath*

        Berk seemed somehow more colorful than it was five years ago. There are dragons everywhere, and brightly hued paint all over. Perhaps it was just for the games - I don't know. My first thoughts were, as I watched the opening scene, Wow, that animation is amazing! and Wow, so much movement and dragons and flying sheep and omigoodness I can't even process all of this. Yeah, the first scene was a little to busy for my taste. I loved when it switched over to Hiccup and Toothless, though; that had more of what I loved so much about the first movie. Simple and free, slow-paced and flowing. Oh, and *this*? Awesome.

         Toothless flew away with my heart once again.This movie was most definitely darker than the first. From the burned forest to the massively destructive icy blasts, there was a much stronger sense of danger and peril than in the first. They needed to survive. This scene however...

        Toothless, I love you. 
        Obviously, most of the characters were the same - Stoick, Gobber, Fishlegs, Snotlout, Astrid, and the twins, Ruffnut and Tuffnut (lovely names, right?). I most definitely could have gone without the whole thing about Fishlegs and Snotlout liking Ruffnut and Ruffnut herself liking Eret - it was only worth an almost amused snort from me. I started out hating Eret, but by the end of the film I didn't mind him so much. I think the character development was quite good.

        Next new character: Valka. She's Hiccup's mother (which we knew from the trailer), and she's stayed away from Berk for 20 years, rescuing dragons and bringing them back to her home. And as a side note, I spent the entire film wondering where I had hear her voice before - then I saw the credits. It's Galadriel, peoples! I loved how Stoic came and they still loved each other and the song and the whole family being together and it was just so sweet and... I liked it. Could you tell? The first scene we see her in, when she and Hiccup are flying just above the clouds, was amazing. It was so eerie and mystical. 

        And the bewilderbeast? Pretty neat as well.

         Next new character: Drago Bludvist. I did not like him one single bit. I tend to like the villains in movies - not like what they do, of course - but how their minds work often interests me. Not so with Drago. He was plain out evil; cruel and hardhearted with a thirst for power. He is, yes, a madman.

        Now we come to the part that I've been needing to gush over to someone ever since I watched this. So Drago has a Bewilderbeast who defeats Valka's and takes control over all of the dragons. He stares at them, I suppose it's rather like hypnosis, and then they have to do whatever he says. Mind-control, basically. Drago's Bewilderbeast hypnotizes Toothless, and commands him to kill Hiccup. While the battles between the other dragons rages on around them, Hiccup tries desperately to bring Toothless out from under the controlling power of the Alpha Bewilderbeast. Toothless no longer sees Hiccup as a friend, though, but as an enemy, and backs him up against a boulder, growling and threatening to kill him. Just as he is about to kill a heartbroken and terrified Hiccup, Stoick rushes over and throws himself in between the two, taking the blast himself. Toothless killed Stoick. And if that wasn't heart wrenching enough watching this perfectly tame and friendly animal destroy his best friend's father, we now have to see Hiccup's pain and sorrow over his father, and his rejection of Toothless. I admit I cried at this point (although that's not saying too much for me). Just a lot of tears running down my cheeks. It was like after all that we dreamed and worked for in the first movie - coming to the realization that dragons are amazing and gentle creatures that can work with the vikings - had now come crashing down in pieces. It was as if all of the work was for nothing. I cried for Toothless. And I cried for Hiccup. I have now decided that this movie shall henceforth be called by me 'Sad Dragon Story'. *SOB*

        Where they had the boat that everyone shot flaming arrows into as it sailed of to see didn't help with the feels at all either. Not one bit.
        The rest of the movie consisted of the defeat of Drago after he came to Berk, and of Hiccup and Toothless being reunited. I loved the part where Hiccup called him out of the hypnosis. You could see his eyes, which were just little slits, struggle back into their normal position, and then fall back, come out of the mind control, and then fall back. The whole time I was saying Come on Toothless, come on! And then he did, and then he defeated Drago and the Bewilderbeast, and Hiccup was made chief of Berk. And it all ended happily, except there was no more Stoic. But there was Valka, reunited again with the son she left so many years ago.
        Now I'm just going to put a bunch of nice pictures from Google and Pinterest (I don't own any of them).

        So yes, I liked 'Sad Dragon Story'. I'll definitely be watching it again when I can, and getting the soundtrack as well. It didn't have the thrill that the first one had - after I watch HTTYD 1 I have this thrilling feeling the music and the ending that I can't explain - but it is still very good, and worth a watch.