Postcards from LA

Just a few notes from our visit to LA, in no particularly well thought out order. Our visit here has gone quickly, despite thinking a week would be a long time to be away from home. At the beginning of the week, we walked around Beverly Hills, went to the Tolerance museum (where there were many signs in the neighborhood to stop the museum’s expansion, which I found a little ironic), went down to the Central market for some authentic Mexican food and horchata, and went for many walks. On Wednesday, I went to our niece and nephew’s school for a morning visit, then we moved on to Irvine.

In Irvine, we visited with our other family here, and everyone got together for Thanksgiving. We spent another day there visiting the CA state park Crystal Cove. It looks like a really nice area, and the kids enjoyed running around the beach for a while. Today we went to the Getty Museum. Tomorrow, our last day here, we’ll spend a little more time exploring, then it’s time to get ready to go back home.

On the way out, I was thirsty for most of the flight – I had asked for water since almost all the drinks on board have HFCS. The irony in doing so is that if you ask for water, you get one small cup of it. No can, no refill. Why is it that the least expensive beverage on the flight is the one given out most sparingly? Is the deal the airlines have with beverage companies so ironclad that sodas or fake fruit juices are less costly than serving water? Anyway, I found it annoying that I was on water rations and I got milk for the second beverage service. Of course, the milk carton is much smaller than a can, but at least it was more than half a tiny cup.

This brings me to a future topic, the book “The End of Food.” I’ve been talking about it out here, and I want to comment on some of the particularly intriguing points. I’m about two thirds the way through & will post when I’ve finished reading.

That’s about all for tonight, since I’m co-opting my sister’s computer to write this. I don’t want to keep it much longer.

Restaurant Review: Angelas Coal Fired Pizza.

A group of us got together for the 2nd anniversary of my 29th birthday at Angela’s Coal Fired Pizza this past Thursday. I thought since this location just opened, I’d share a short review.
The restaurant is situated not far from route 3, just south of Nashua. We called ahead to make sure there was not going to be an issue seating a party of 8 on short notice, since they just opened on November 17th. I wasn’t sure if it was going to be a mad house, or they were going for a soft opening. It was the latter, as the hostess was confident they’d have no issue seating us. To add to this theory, there is no mention of the opening day on their web page, we even had to search the page for the address.
After being seated at a large white table clothed table behind the bar area, the friendly server gave the spiel, about their 900 degree oven, and the ‘well doneness’ of their pizzas. Since they use a large hot coal fired oven all of their pizzas are cooked well done. He also explained they they were not doing the special pizza of the month (Hawaiian), or the sandwiches yet, but they would have them soon. I guess those are the breaks of going within the first week of opening.
I didn’t get a chance to review the wine list thoroughly, but it seemed a reasonably priced list, but only a moderate selection. Since it was mid week, I didn’t get a glass or even a draft so I can’t speak for the offerings. They do have some beers on tap, but nothing off the beaten path, they do however carry Peroni. We ordered 2 orders of the garlic lemon wings, which are also coal fired. The portion was generous, too much for our party of 7. They arrived quickly, but at little cooler temperature wise than I’d have expected. They were covered in darkly caramelized onions, on sliced flat bread. They got pretty solid reviews around the table, and while I’m more of a spicy wing guy, I enjoyed them as well.
The pies arrived soon after.  We had ordered an Ultimo, a Pollo Alfredo, and an Angelas traditional cheese. The large (18") pies were well received by our mixed group. The Ultimo was a hit with the heart attack crowd, topped with all the meat. The Pollo Alfredo, a white pizza, was cooked perfectly with still crisp broccoli and tender chicken, and was my favorite of the evening. The traditional cheese and tomato was T’s prefered slice. While we were all happy with the pizzas, I think there is certainly room for improvement. The meatballs on the ultimo tasted dried out, and could have used a bit more spice. All of the pizzas seemed a bit heavy on toppings. You can consider it a bonus, more meat and cheese, or an imbalance between the crispy crust, and an overloaded pie. It wasn’t what I was expecting. I was hoping for a thinner, new york style thin crispy pie. Overall we enjoyed the meal, the service was good, and the staff seemed friendly. We do expect to go back.

99 Things Meme – I rarely do these things.

I saw this list on david’s shared feed he saw it on http://www.birddigiscoping.com/blog.html

Things I have done are in bold text.

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars

3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower

6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain

9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset

31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie

56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle

79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

Cold, cold, cold

That’s the theme for tonight. We’re getting down to the mid-20s, which is basically real winter weather. Boo. I’m not real psyched about this. It also means snow is not far around the corner. I had to hook up the chickens’ heater tonight, as well as the pacas’ heated bucket. Hopefully they will do the job, safely. We’ve wanted to get a wireless thermometer to keep a reading of how cold it’s getting in the barn and coop, but haven’t yet. Guess it’s time for a trip to Wally-world, someplace I really don’t enjoy going. But for this kind of thing, the alternatives stores aren’t any better, and Wally-world is cheap. Plus, someone has to pay back our debt to China. Well, ok, maybe like .000001 % of the interest on it. But I digress.
We had some strange egg milestones this weekend, after a warm rainy day (hey, it’s New England – the weather isn’t supposed to be predictable or anything). We had an 8 egg day. We also have gotten an enormous blue EE egg that must have been painful for the pullet, poor girl. We’ll take a picture before it becomes Good Eats. Today, though, we had 5 brown eggs, and no EEs.
Is it sad if this is one of my favorite parts of the day to look forward to?
Bijan is doing much better, and able to eat well enough. He’s almost a toothless wonder now, but somehow he gets it down.
I had a great weekend – got to see Iron & wine in a small venue setting. In some ways it was better than seeing them at ACL, but in others, it was worse. I was very keyed for both shows, but the nature of ACL with it being outside, sunny, diverse, all-day, enormous show made for a much more relaxed event; in Northampton, we were among the oldest in the crowd, there was not seat anywhere, and we were packed in so close that… well, maybe you should ask m750 about how close we were ;). Anyway, just a very different experience. I’m almost loathe to admit this, but I think I enjoyed seeing him at Austin City Limits better, it was just much shorter. Maybe we should just try to catch him in Austin proper. Although, we are taping the ACL showing on PBS this week.
I have added a latest music gadget thing on the right side menu, via blip.fm, if anyone wants to hear some of my recent favorite music.
As my last quick update, Aaron’s birthday is coming up – Wednesday, Nov 19th! If you can, wish him happy birthday, he loves hearing from everyone! He’ll be joining the ranks of the officially *OVER*t 30 crowd, as he’s turning 31.

Druggie cat!

Our 14.5 year old cat went in for dental work today (which of course in pets usually means yanking). He lost three teeth, including a canine, though the vet only trimmed it off and closed the gums over it (too embedded in the bone). Anyway, he is back home and must be on some strong painkillers. His pupils are completely dilated, he keeps getting up to walk around but is kinda wobbly, and also sits in one spot staring at things two inches from his face, like the books in our bookshelf. I feel bad for him since we can’t get him to settle down, but it’s also a tad bit funny to see him like this.
In other news, we had a down egg day – only 3! Of course I am fine with that. Chickens need rest, too!
We did sell our first eggs (to coworkers). If you want to be on the list, let us know!
Here is a picture from my Dad’s visit last week. This is me learning to inoculate my alpacas. The vet is showing me.

More pictures coming to Flickr soon…

A questionnaire from The Back Forty blog…

There’s another blog that has posed a chicken survey. So, Aaron suggested I blog the answers… here goes.
1. Do you have a particular favorite breed of chicken, and if so what is it and why do you prefer it? Or if more than one, which ones, etc?
Fairly new to chickens, so I have no strong preferences. Our black sex links are laying like crazy, and our Blue Laced Red Wyandotte roo is quite the looker. Though he is a big baby. The Easter Eggers lay fun eggs and are pretty chickens, too. If I were going just for volume, the black sex links would win.
2. Do you use your chickens for your family, to sell, or both? Meat, or eggs, or both?
We have our layer hens and we only plan to sell the excess (to friends, coworkers, family). We subsidized the raising of 10 meat birds at another farm, and we’ve had 1-2 roasters a month since they were processed in July. This usually translates to several meals for 2 based on a 5-6 lb bird. The meat birds were able to enjoy fresh pasture and were fed w/organic feed.
3. What advice would you give to anyone wanting to start out raising them, other than reading some good books on the subject?
Backyardchicens.com, and build a strong run. Don’t skimp on the housing and fencing, though the very resourceful can get a lot of building materials through yardsales, Craigslist etc. Just make sure it will be a clean and dry home. Overestimate the size you need, you can always add chickens if you want to later!
4. Do you primarily keep your chickens in a coop/enclosed chicken yard, or do they roam your property?
Our chickens stay in the run area for most of the time. We let them out only when we are ourselves outside doing work around the barn, yard, etc. We usually do this late in the day so twilight gets them back in the run. However, a cup of scratch tossed in the run will usually work too!
5. Do you ever let them into your garden? If no, do you have a fence or something to keep them out?
Uhm, yes, they have gone in our garden. It is not fenced from them. But our garden was not a wild success this summer. Next summer may be different.
6. Do you ever use a chicken tractor, and if so, is it for meat birds only? do you use electric/ net poultry fencing? I’m interested in which has worked for you and which has not. What has been your experience with pastured poultry ‘a la the Joel Salatin sort (follow behind the livestock grazings at the optimum time), if that applies?
We do not use a tractor for the layers. The meat birds were in a tractor for much of the time.
7. Do you keep chickens year-round, or raise them for seasonal processing?
Year round; it’ll be our first winter with the hens.
8. How many chickens of a certain type do you raise at one time (what works best for you as far as how many to raise at a time?)
I think this depends on your goals. If it’s just family eggs you want, a half dozen may be enough. We have 12 hens and 1 roo, in part because I figured a few wouldn’t make it. They all did! But we’re happy anyway, a dozen seems like a good number for us.
Inquiring minds (me!) want to know. I’ve seen so many folks with their own styles of chicken raising, and I’m so curious to know what works best for you…
Raising them from chicks is very rewarding!

5 egg day, and random updates

Well, I started this one days ago, but the title still applies. We got five eggs today, and for the first time two Easter Eggs! The new egg is a lovely shade of pale blue, not as green. It is pretty big for a first egg also (well, we think it is a first egg). Our trendlines are really beginning to go up in our graph, despite the daylight hours being much shorter at this time of year. According to our spreadsheet, we have gotten roughly 90 eggs since they started laying, which sounds like an awful lot for a short time. If we get up to 50% laying a day, that will be very impressive.
Fortunately, the temperature has moderated so the waterer hasn’t frozen this week at all. We did get a heater base, and as of today, a heavy duty outdoor cord. The alps already have the heated bucket I got this weekend, though presently unplugged.
Yesterday, Aaron prepared a dinner with 10 of our fresh eggs, sliced dried tomatoes, goat cheese, and herbs (basil, chives) from our winter herb garden. We had some hearty bread on the side. More on that some other time… I’ve been negligent in my reporting on the hydroponic herb garden (Aerogarden).
It’s also been great to have my Dad here, on this very historic week. We’ve had a lot of great conversations which makes for a great change of pace, even though this week has certainly been as hectic as any, with coordination of more alpaca moving going on. The vet will be out to our farm tomorrow, I’ve got the day off to spend with my Dad, though I am hoping to get to the gym as well. Aaron’s parents will be here later in the evening before they head off on a fun trip to Costa Rica with his sister, her husband, and their granddaughter.
Over the weekend, I’m hoping we’ll have time and good weather to get into the woods for some walking, as well as visit some local farm stores.
For those who may have missed, we have a cam currently pointed at our paddock. You may be able to spy pacas or chickens. They will be small (chickens especially) so look carefully.

http://www.crankynstinky.com/pict/tank.jpg

Works during the day.
All in all, we’re well, but busy.