Tuesday, July 26, 2011

We Are Going To Be Parents!

...to an adorable ball of fur!

She is a beautiful 7 week old German Shepherd.  
We haven't named her yet.  Well more specifically we haven't set her name in stone.  We are trying a few on for size.  It's just so hard to decide.  A dog name that's not my favorite kid name or a friend's favorite kid name...a name that fits a german shepherd but isn't too stern or serious because she is a nice girl!...a name that fits a dog that black and tan and silver. 
 I don't exactly come from a family of great pet namers.  Let's be honest we've had Bugsy, the Beagle...ok that one isn't that bad.  But then there were, Corky, the cat and C.J., Corky Junior, the cat.  And yes, Corky is what my Dad goes by...a grown human.  You can thank 3 year old Camille for those two.  Then we've had Bear, the Great Pyrenees and Baby Bear, the 2nd Pyrenees.  P.K., Princess Kitty, the dog.  Yes I said dog.  Long story that ends with we got her from a lady named Kitty who was Kitty Wells's granddaughter. So basically P.K. is famous.  But anywho, as you can see...We're bad at naming pets.  So you're thinking, it's okay, B can surely appropriately name a pet, but most of their pets were named after carbohydrates.  Sugar.  Muffin.  Hush-puppy.  Hershey.  I know we are awful!  We must get this one right!

Ok, back to our baby girl.  We are so excited.  But also nervous.  Like a baby (but I know way less serious and HUMAN...back down momma's), a puppy needs SO much stuff.  We were so out of sorts when we went on our first trip to PetSmart.
  A Crate...I hear they are important, but I'll be honest I don't know all the rules of crate training. 
A Leash... that isn't too girly so my husband won't turn into a woman when he walks her.  
A Collar... that's girly enough that people know she is a girl.  
Puppy food... that isn't too expensive so as to make us broke but is full of good things that make her grow big and beautiful and who's first ingredient is meat...Very important per animal-loving-over-eager-PetSmart-product-pushing employee.  
Toys...Every dog needs a toy.
Treats...for training and maybe for fun too.
A Dog Bowl...we went with cheap and generic for now.  Until I find a set of bowls that match my kitchen.  Please!  You knew I would.
A Teething Toy...because we are going to be doing some serious re-direction with any chewing or teething.
And I know I'm forgetting things!!!!!  It's a crazy mess around you!

So PLEASE offer your best advice for puppies and new puppy parents!  Your favorite purchases.  Things we should be sure to know from the beginning. 

Thanks for your help!  I will be looking for puppy play mates for fun play dates!  If you have a puppy, we would love to have you and your little pup over for dinner and some playtime.  We also welcome children because I hear early socialization is key.  Luckily her birth family had a 3 year-old rambunctious little boy who had played with our pup since birth.  So she loves kids right now and is a total doll right now!  But we want to keep it that way!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Fruits of Our Labor

I know what you are thinking.  No really I do.  I'm an idiot.  I broke my blog.  Yes it is possible.  I did it.  I will slowly be restoring it to his full glory with the magical assistance of the beautiful and talented Caity Shinnick.  I'd be lost in this big ol' blogland without her.


Can you believe it is the end of July!  Summer is flying by.
But with the heat of summer, comes the full bloom of our garden.  All of the hard work finally pays off with dividends...and maybe some more work too.  Picking is exhausting and back-breaking; oh well, at least the veggies are good.

Flowers are in full bloom!

 Veggies are coming in like crazy!  So I snapped a quick pictures a couple of weeks ago of my picks.  
Squash and Garlic.  Tomatoes and Onions.  Zucchini and Green beans.

Speaking of green beans...
They are crazy!  We've already picked 3 times and we need to pick again.  Its nuts!
 Here is part of my first pick.

Now onto the snapping.  Removing the ends and "snapping" the beans into your desired size.  I usually snap smaller beans for good old southern green beans and longer beans for green bean bundles.  Its not particularly necessary to snap longer beans for bundles but I find it to be much easier to bundle beans when they are longer.

Next, it's time for canning.  Canning is not difficult and is a great way to preserve your garden favorites.
Left:  My southern green beans.  Right:  My green bean bundles.  I was so proud of my stacking.  Can you tell?!
Next a half of a teaspoon of salt for every pint of green beans (a full teaspoon if canning quarts).  I prefer to do most of my green beans in pints because I have found it is the perfect amount for two people.  I often put up my green bean bundles in quarts due to their size and I usually make them for company.
 Then you fill the jars with boiling water to cover the beans.

Place the sterilized lids on and screw on the band.  Place the jars in a pressure canner and process as recommended by your owner's manual.

TADA!!!!!!  Dinner is served!  AND...You have green beans for the whole year!

Putting vegetables up and having them to eat for the rest of the year is one of my absolute favorite things about gardening!  It is so nice.  And I SAVE so much money!  Yay!

Our favorite new way to cook green beans is on the stove with some chicken base (bouillon), seasoning salt, pepper, and sugar.  Cooking for as long as I can...45 minutes-ish on a light simmer.  It's even better if you have a strip of bacon or fat back.  Yes, you know you are in the south when someone uses the word fat back.

What is your favorite way to cook green beans?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Happy Birthday: Round 2

For whatever reason, July is a big birthday month in the Steele house.  I have two sisters with birthdays and both of B's siblings were born in July; funny thing is each of our siblings were born on back to back days.  July 4th and 5th = Wes and Cara, July 17th and 18th = Candace and Whitni.  Crazy huh!  It could only get weirder if they were also the same ages.  

So this week we celebrated Candace and Whitni!

Happy Birthday Sisters!

July 17th!  Happy Birthday Candace!
Beautiful Mommy and Wife.
Best Friend and Sister Extraordinaire.

July 18th!  Happy Birthday Whitni!
Sweet Mommy to These Adorable Boys!
...one of the BEST sister-in-laws in the world!
...and future nurse!

I'm so lucky!  I have the best sisters!  And they are almost all nurses.  Crazy, huh?  It is so nice to always have family in the medical field.  Hope your family is as great as mine!  If not, I'm sure we can work out a deal.  I'm willing to share.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Country Life is the Sweet Life

Sorry for the lack of posts last week, I was out of town.  But Yay!  I'm back.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to the ole' farm homestead and spent a day with my Momma.

Fun Fact:  My Momma is a bee-keeper!  
You heard me like a person who has bees in a hive and fills jars in the shape of a bear with honey.  A bee-keeper.  She's in an association.  It's legit.  And I got to be an apprentice for the day.

First we got suited up.

Beekeeping isn't exactly glamorous, but I was VERY happy to have every bit of my skinned covered when those little sweet makers started swarming my body.  And boy did they!  I was slightly nervous...Okay a lot nervous!  1000 bees buzzing in my ear.  Resting on my the mesh 2 inches from my face.  Yeah, my heart was racing, but I lived.  And it was all very exciting!
Fun Fact:  Honeybees can fly up to 15 mph!  Aaaahhhh!
This is one of my mom's hives.

Fun Fact:  Did you know that honeybees are responsible for pollenating approximately 80% of all fruit, vegetables, and seed crops in the U.S.  Those little buzzers are super important!There are so many of them.  Always working, working.  

Opening up the hive.  Here come the bees.

Holding one of the hive's frame.  Yes.  Covered in bees.

Next, we take a box of completed combs back to the lab.

Okay...Its just my parents' basement, but there is lots of equipment required for honey extraction.

First things first.  The surface of the comb must be removed with a hot knife to allow the honey to flow.

Next the frames are placed in an extractor and spun to remove all the honey.

Then the honey is drained into a bucket and poured through a strainer.

Then the honey is ready for bottling!

...And eating!  YUM!
Fun Fact:  You can chew honey comb like gum!
A tablespoon a day is also used as a natural remedy for people who struggle with asthma and allergies.  However, for those of you considering giving honey a shot as a natural remedy, it is important to use local honey because it will be made from the pollen and plants that cause you so much grief.  Honey from Montana may taste great but if you are using it for your allergies it may be less than effective.  I love honey on biscuits, on pizza crusts... basically any form of bread.  However, its also great for baking as a natural sugar in cookies, mixed into your favorite smoothie, or as my dad would do...as the sweetner in your coffee.  

Fun Fact:  Honey never spoils!  So its great for those end of the world junkies you know.

Harvesting honey is HARD work.  You should thank your local beekeeper.  But more important you should be nice to your local honeybees.  
Last fun fact:  To make 1 pound of honey, the honeybee colony must visit approximately 2 million flowers, fly over 55,000 miles, and will be the lifetime work of approximately 300 bees.  Aww.  
Isn't it amazing how God created bees to make honey just for us!  I love it!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Good Ol' Southern Holiday

I know another 4th of July post 3 days late... but what can I say, I'm a blogaholic.  Yes that is a real thing.  And No I am not currently seeking treatment.
We spent the 4th of July in the Big Murray, KY as we often do.  That's tobacco country you know.

Brandon's favorite brother, Wes, was born on the 4th so the festivities are extra special!  Our weekend basically consisted of family time, swimming, eating, family time, football, swimming, eating.  Rinse and Repeat.  We had so much fun getting to finally spend some quality time with Brandon's family.  It's been a while since we've been able to go and stay a while but one of the not so fun aspects of being an adult I suppose.

Here is our weekend in pictures:
(quality varies as most were taken on my phone.  bad blogger i know.)

Shooting guns in the corn field.

 Wes has a 357 Magnum, snub-nosed something or another pistol.  Big name for a little gun.  However, size does NOT matter when discussing guns.  That little puppy was the loudest thing I've heard in a very long time.  My ears are ringing literally just thinking about it.  I only shot once and let the boys do the rest.  It was almost a bit much.  We were shooting at styrofoam cups in the back of a corn field.  Check out the destruction this baby produces:
Crazy!  The picture of the right is the entrance hole and the picture of the left is the gaping exit point.

Although fun, not sure I was competent enough to feel safe with it.  Everyone handling such weapons should take a safety course, myself included. 

One of a several backyard football games.
 The boys loved throwing and have quite the guns like their "Gunner" Uncle B.  Yes, having your shirt off does make you a better athlete.  The boys have learned this young.

Everybody loves a ride on the 4-wheeler.

Fireworks! Big Hit with 3 and 6 year old boys.  I know can you believe it?  Safety?  Questionable.
Look at those faces of amazement!  I love it.

Grilling Out!
The boys are learning to use my camera.  I think Caden took this one.
Yes we had like 16 of these gynormous steaks!  Delicious!  Brandon's cousin is quite the chef and made an absolutely amazing bourbon butter.  It made the steaks taste like you were eating at your favorite uber-expensive, have to wear nice clothes, and use the correct fork steak places.  YUM!

Here is a recipe I found on world wide web so you can make your own!  Brandon's cousin edited the recipe he found to his taste and I suggest you do the same.  You won't regret it!

Bourbon Butter:
2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
2 shallots minced finely, soaked in 1 shot of bourbon or whiskey
3 teaspoons minced parsley
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
3 teaspoons of bourbon or whiskey
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
white pepper to taste

Make butter at least 3 hours in advance.  Combine butter, shallots soaked in bourbon, parsley, Worcestershire, mustard, bourbon, salt and pepper.  Mix well.  On a piece of plastic wrap, drop butter in spoonfuls to form a log.  Roll butter in plastic wrap to form a smooth round log.  Refrigerate until ready to use. 

Then just grill a fabulous steak and place a large dollop on top!  Yum!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Happy 4th and 5th of July!
Yes 4th AND 5th!  They are both national holidays in our family!

Not only is the 4th the birthdate of our beautiful America, but also our favorite brother and farmer, Wes!  
Wes and his beautiful wife, Stephanie, are parents to the cutest white dog you've ever scene, Oliver.

The celebration continues to the 5th of July in celebration of the blessed birth of our newest RN, Carebear!
Cara with her two favorite boys.

Yes, You've heard Cara was famous, but did you know she graces the likes of a billboard!  Yes, a real life billboard on a street near you.  Keep your eyes peeled.

Happy early July birthdays to you!  You heard me round 2 of Steele family birthdays is coming to a blog post you'll read in a couple of weeks.
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