Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Countdown to my Birthday

Sunday is my birthday! I'll be 25. Wow. I think the best part about this birthday is that my car insurance premiums decrease! Woohoo.

Racking Wine

Monday night, we racked the orange wine. It will now sit in this 5 gallon water bottle for quite awhile. I'm not sure exactly how long since the next time we rack it, the liquid should be clear. I tasted it, and as of right now, it's not turning out so hot. It's got tons of alcohol. A few sips and it makes you woozy! We can add more sugar syrup later to make it taste better.
The top of the bottle gets a stopper with an air-lock in it. It's filled part way with water to let the gas out of the bottle and it doesn't let any air in. Outside air can make it rancid and moldy.

Tuesday night, we made three 5 gallon buckets of grapefruit wine. All three buckets are made a little different. Buckets #1&2 have the same amount of juice (12 pts), but different amounts of sugar. Bucket #3 has a lot more juice (20 pts). The little glass stick that's floating in there is a hydrometer. It helped us judge how much sugar to add to each bucket to get the desired dryness or sweetness. Bucket #1 will (hopefully) be a dry wine with a hydrometer reading of 80. Bucket #2 will be a sweeter wine with a reading of 120. Bucket #3 will be in the middle with a reading of 100. We'll see how they actually turn out. We can adjust next time based on the best tasting.

Here's our 3 buckets sitting next to the Orange wine. Tomorrow, I'll add the yeast and yeast nutrient to the grapefruit wine. It will ferment in the buckets for 2-3 days and then we'll rack it and put it into big bottles with air-locks. From there, it's just a waiting game!

After all of this work, I hope at least some of it turns out! I want something to show for this time-consuming process!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Grapevine Pruning

Wednesday, Elizabeth & I attended a grapevine pruning workshop at a local vinyard. My father-in-law helps to put a couple on every year for the local growers. Fritz, the Extension Viticulturist, was there to demonstrate proper pruning techniques how to root cuttings for propagation. The program ran a little long, but as you can see, he's pretty easy on the eyes, so it didn't really matter!! :) Don't worry, Travis, you are way hotter!!

It was pretty warm that day, so Elizabeth & I slathered on the sunscreen and enjoyed the day. Grandpa helped me watch her during the demonstrations. Everyone thought she was just the best little girl. Luckily, she was on her best behavior. It's also kinda nice that the same people show up to a lot of the programs that my father-in-law puts on. It helps Elizabeth to get to know them and she's not seeing all total strangers every time we go out. Besides, I think Grandpa likes showing her off!

I took her stroller out with me and she really liked that. She loves being outside anyway, but getting a ride was the icing on the cake! I made sure her little head was covered and she looked super cute in her hat!

To me, she just looks so different with a hat on! Just too cute...well besides the drool running down her chin!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Roaches & Roses

Blick! This morning, I was getting ready in my bathroom and Elizabeth was playing on the floor. I see her race (crawling) across the floor, so I turn to look and she is playing with...a...roach!!! GROSS! After supressing the urge to vomit, I scoop her up, set her in the sink-pj's and all-and scrub her hands clean. She thought it was really fun. All I was thinking is "Gross, so gross. I can't believe she was chasing a roach across the floor. Gross, gross, gross." To think of it another way, Elizabeth was winning. The roach just wasn't fast enough to get away. But, still gross! So after scrubbing her hands clean, I take her and run to the kitchen, set her down on the floor to play with her toys, grab an empty formula can, run back to the bathroom, and trap the roach with the formula can. Travis can deal with it when he gets home. He's now been home for 5 hours and the can is still on the floor, trapping the roach! I wonder how long it will actually stay there...

This afternoon, I stuck rose cuttings into buckets for rooting. 42 of them. Of course, I forgot the rooting hormone, so either I'll have to take them all out and put hormone on them or I'll just hope that they take. They had lots of thorns, so I'm on the fence about what to do. I got pricked a few times and that's never fun. My father-in-law pruned their rose bushes Sunday and gave me all of the cuttings so we can have roses when we move.

This is what the cuttings look like. They have to be covered about half way up with soil for the best chance that somewhere along the cutting, they'll take root. It will be a little while before I know for sure how many are going to make it. From the buckets, I'll take and pot them into individual pots, but for now to save space, they're in 5 gallon buckets.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Fermenting Wine

This afternoon Elizabeth & I attended the annual Farmers Market meeting at the Extension office here in Victoria. It was a pretty good meeting and we got to meet the new Horticulture Extension Agent from College Station. There was one speaker who was exceptional...I just can't think of his name right now. I'm pretty sure he's the County Agent in Victoria County, though...I'm sure it will come to me... ;) Hehe. Just kidding! My Father-in-law did a wonderful job today. He even helped take care of Elizabeth when she was getting fussy. One lady who didn't know that he was Grandpa was telling me how she thought he was quite an agent if he was helping out with baby duty!! That's when I told her who we were. She still thought he was a pretty good guy anyway!
Ok, so I was going to put a video on here showing how the Orange Wine was fermenting. You can see all of the little air bubbles rise to the top and burst on the surface. This means that the yeast is working to break down all of the sugars in the oranges and raisins. It is really neat. Here's a picture of Travis sealing the must off. You have to put the plastic wrap right on top of the must so no air can get in. The only time we open it for the next week or so is to stir it.

Elizabeth was a complete mess the other night, so we had to strip her down to her diaper and put her robe on her until bath time. I don't think she minded! She was pretty darn cute!

Here's our big girl drinking out of her sippy cup all by herself. *Sniff, sniff!* I can hardly believe that just over a week ago she didn't want anything to do with it. Now she crawls to it when I set it on the floor and takes a swig! I still help her out when she's sitting up, though, because she hasn't quite figured out to tilt her head back!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Making Orange Wine

Travis & I have started our first batch of wine for the year. Orange Wine. We're using a recipe out of an old wine book, so we hope it turns out good! Here's our setup:

The worst part about making wine is the mess it makes!!

Chopping raisins in the food processor.

Squeezing oranges.

We ended up with 3.25 quarts of orange juice.

I zested about 6 oranges to add to the must (the mix of ingredients that will ferment).

We weighed out 9 lbs of sugar to dissolve in 3 gallons of water.

The must: Orange juice, water/sugar syrup, 3 lbs raisins, orange zest, 6 sliced oranges, Campden tablets to kill all of the bad bacteria growing in the must, yeast nutrient, and, 24 hours later, yeast. This will ferment for 14 days and then we'll rack the wine (take out all of the solids, so only the liquid remains) and put it into a 5 gallon glass carboy (or jug). It will take 2-3 months before it will be ready to taste and possibly bottle. I just ordered more wine supplies, so hopefully we'll be ready to juice grapefruits this weekend!

And...just for good measure, I'll put in a picture of Elizabeth I took recently! She's standing up between our recliners. She's really moving around the room holding onto all of the furniture. She just hasn't figured out how to sit down without plopping on her booty!