Monday, September 17, 2018

Menu plan for the week of September 17

You guys!  Menu plan breakdown did not occur until Wednesday last week.  Whoohoo!  But when it happened, the breakdown was spectacular.  We finally got back on track yesterday.  This week, like last week, I suspect breakdown will occur in 12 hours or less, but maybe I'll be surprised and we'll be able to hold out longer.  Only 5ish more weeks of football season.  Then I won't have as good an excuse for not cooking and the consequential menu plan breakdown.

Menu plan breakdown isn't all bad.  Sometimes, it can be a good thing.  That's because I don't have to think of as many meals--I can just move the unmade, but shopped-for meals to subsequent weeks.  And yes, I am hopelessly optimistic sometimes, thank you.

I also need to tell you that the French onion chicken skillet was really yummy.  I liked it a lot.  MC said it was ok and he'd be willing to eat it again, Bubby tolerated it (but made toast at the earliest opportunity).  That's about as good as it gets around here.

Here's what's on the menu this week:

Supper:

Monday, September 10, 2018

Menu plan for the week of September 10

You guys.  I don't even.  I mean.  I can't.

See?  I can't even get a full sentence out (<-- oh, look.  There's one).  There is no way that this meal plan will make it through the week intact.  Absolutely no chance.  I know this with certainty.  And yet, I persist in posting.  I guess it just goes to show, hope survives even in the face of insurmountable odds.  And thank God for that, amiright?

I really liked the rotating two week menu plan that we used for 6 weeks during late summer, so I sorta kinda did something similar.  Some meals are repeated every week, some every other week, some every 3 weeks, and some not at all, but the upshot is, I have meals planned for most days in September and October.  And when October is over, so is football season, which will take a lot of the meal-making pressure off.

Here's the plan.  Care to make any guesses as to how long before menu plan breakdown occurs?

Supper:

Friday, September 7, 2018

Late summer garden and chicken update

According to Hubby, summer is over, because to him, Labor Day marks the end of summer.  According to my calendar, summer will be over September 22.  According to my kids, summer will be over Monday, when they head back to school.  According to my garden, the end of summer is eminent. 

Yes, the garden is straggling along.  We've got a few more tomatoes left in the garden.  I did get one batch of salsa made with tomatoes and jalapenos from our garden, and the rest of the tomatoes I've been harvesting as they ripen, then blanching, peeling, coring, quartering, and freezing them.  I was hoping to get enough tomatoes (25 pounds) to make spaghetti sauce to can.  Now I'm thinking I'll probably just dice and can them.


We probably have enough jalapenos still on the plants to can a load.  Maybe I'll get to that next week.  The jalapenos on one of the plants turned purple almost right away, and long before they were ripe, which makes me think that one plant is a different variety than the others. 

The cantaloupe did really well.  I harvested one that was over 7 pounds, and there are three more melons on the plant.

The Brussels sprouts did not as well.  There are sprouts on the plants, but they're not very big, and I don't know if it's worthwhile harvesting and eating them.  Brussels sprouts like the cold, though, so I'll just leave them out there and see what happens.

I decided that we needed to dig up at least one of the potato plants before AKD headed off to school, since it was his idea to plant potatoes.  We did, indeed, get some potatoes, but they were pathetically small.  The volume of potatoes that we harvested didn't even equal the volume of the potato we planted.  We do still have four more potato mounds, so maybe those did better.  We're waiting until the plants die away before digging those up.

I do not have high hopes for the garlic and carrots.  They're root veggies, so obviously we can't tell what's going on with them, but looking at the leaves, it's not looking good.


Our basil plant was doing really well, and I should have pruned it and dried basil before we left to take AKD to school, but I didn't have time so I left it, and by the time we got home, the plant was shriveled and black.  It rained a lot while we were gone, so it wasn't lack of water that did the basil in.  The lavender plant is blooming again.  It seems well established, so hopefully it'll come back in the spring.


In chicken news, the Bigs' egg production has dropped big time.  I don't think we've gotten an egg from Esther in 5 or 6 days.  Got one from Rocky and one from Toasty yesterday, but before that it had been a while for both of them.  The weird thing is they're still sitting in the nest box.  They're expecting eggs--they're just not coming.  Surely, it can't be lack of sunlight already that's causing them to lay less.  Or maybe it can?  This development has me seriously rethinking my no-light-in-the-coop-to-give-the-girls-a-rest policy.  The other possibility is that they're entering molt, wherein they lose their feathers and then grow them back again.  It seems really odd to me that a chicken would lose her feathers just as it's getting cold, but nevertheless, that's what they do.


Luckily, the Littles' egg production has been ramping up, so we're still getting about three eggs a day.  They're little eggs, but at least they're eggs.  I was thinking I wouldn't have to buy eggs anymore once AKD left us, but I'm not sure if that's actually going to be the case.  MC is still eating three eggs a day, and I'm still eating one.  Bubby seems to have passed through his waffles-for-every-meal stage, so at least we're not needing eggs for that.


Speaking of little eggs, we've been getting so many double yolk eggs since the Littles started laying.  Apparently it's really common for new layers, and old (near the end of their laying years) layers to lay double yolks, but we never got any from our first set of hens.  It's mostly Indigo laying the doubles, and they are huge.  Poor Indigo.  But lucky us.


I haven't made much progress toward turning Koko into a lap chicken, although she did let me pet her without running away yesterday.  I guess I'll keep working on it.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Summer 2018, Part 5

Hi friends.

Sorry I've been neglecting you.  One of the podcasts to which I listen is Organize 365.  And one of the things Lisa talks about is that she divides her year into three parts, each with a "new year," with new goals.  I've talked about how for people associated with the school system, the beginning of school is more of a new year than January 1.  Same concept.  Her year-parts begin in January, May, and September.  Another thing Lisa says about her year-parts is that they always begin super-organized and dissolve into chaos by the end.

That is what has happened here.  My summer year-part started organized with all kinds of plans and schemes, and has devolved into chaos.  And I am still there, in the chaos, because school hasn't started yet.  We're having the longest summer ever, thanks to the ongoing construction in our school district.

A week ago, I left my first baby in a place where they don't know him, and could never love him as well as me.  I know he is ready.  I know he will find his way.  I have always known that this day was coming.  That doesn't make it any easier to bear.  I cry, not for him, but for me.  I miss him.  And I know that our relationship will never be the same.  He will always be my baby, but he is not a child anymore.  My heart aches with sweet memories of the boy he was and the time we shared.  I guess I just need to grieve a little longer before my heart is ready to accept the new sweet memories that are sure to come.

So that's why I've been neglecting you.  Chaos and grief.  There is still chaos; there is still grief.  But I'm back.  I think.

As a result of the chaos, I lost my enthusiasm for taking pictures to share with you.  But here's what I have.  Love ya.  Talk to you soon.















Friday, August 31, 2018

18 for 2018 (August)

It's time for another 18 for 2018 update!

In July, I said I didn't know if I would make any progress in August.  I am happy to report that I did, indeed, make some small progress.

In August, I ordered Christmas cards (because ten of them were free, and another six of them got my Shutterfly order up high enough to get free shipping), so 16 of you get Christmas cards (you will note, I did not specify how many or when these cards would be sent).  I also got some Christmas postage stamps, because there was a deal.  And I found the envelopes I saved from last year's Christmas cards so I know who to send cards to this year.  So that goal is well in hand.
And that's all.  Still working on the paper and the household binder.  And I feel like I have to wait until at least October to send Christmas cards.


*****
Here's the entire list:
18 for 2018
  1. ** Make oyster shell and grit dispensers for the chickens
  2. ** Plant a garden--with tomatoes and jalapenos
  3. Can jalapenos--they don't necessarily have to be the ones I grow
  4. Have everyone in the household take the love languages quiz--we could do this on Valentine's Day, but since it's also Ash Wednesday this year, I don't think that's gonna happen...
  5. Go on a date with each of my boys (AKD, MC, Bubby)
  6. ** Send friend mail 8 6 4 times (if you'd like to receive friend mail from me, use the contact link above to give me your address)
  7. Obtain and begin using a to-do notebook--this has already been so useful!  I have a running to-do list now, instead of having to start fresh every day.  It's a lot more difficult to misplace than a random piece of paper.
  8. ** Purge file cabinet and create paper organization system--Ugh!  We have so.much.paper.  Half of me wants to get rid of it all.  The other half is afraid I'll shred something we'll need later.
  9. ** Create a household binder/legacy box--I think my boys would be lost if something happened to me.
  10. Delete saved electronic mystery shop screen shots and receipts--yep, I've got every screen shot and almost every receipt from every mystery shop I've done in the past four years.  It's a lot.
  11. ** Buy desk task light--I've already tried once this year, but I didn't like it, so I need to try again.
  12. Buy phone charging cords for each of our vehicles--I told Hubby I was going to do this, and he was like, but we have charging cords in all the vehicles, don't we?  Well, yes, we do...for his phone, but not for AKD's and mine.
  13. Make a chicken sign--It's going to have the silhouette of a chicken, and say something along the lines of, "Danger: Dinosaur Area."
  14. Take a class through community education or a local craft store--I used to do this fairly often, but somewhere along the line, I stopped.
  15. ** Finish valances for master bedroom.  I've only had the material for...3 years? 4?  A long time.
  16. Crochet messy bun hat or Arm knit scarf
  17. ** Get the boys' picture taken--the place I used to take them to closed, so I need to find a new photographer.
  18. Send Christmas cards in 2018

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Boundaries for Your Soul: A Review


Hi friends.  I wanted to read Boundaries for Your Soul by Alison Cook and Kimberly Miller because boundaries are kind of big right now, and I'm not really sure what boundaries are, how boundaries work.  I mean, I kind of know what I think boundaries means.  But I have no idea how to implement. 

I also wanted to read because of the subtitle: "How to Turn Your Overwhelming Thoughts and Feelings into Your Greatest Allies."  Because, friends, I have overwhelming feelings and thoughts sometimes, and it seems like a great idea to use them to my benefit.

I enjoyed reading the book, but I have mixed feelings about it.  As I was reading, what the authors were saying made a lot of sense.  They introduced four parts of the soul, including managers, firefighters, exiles, and the Spirit-led self.  They outlined five steps to take to make a You-Turn when overwhelmed by emotion.  They gave examples of folks who got in touch with different parts of their souls and harnessed those parts' powers for good.  I loved it.  All of it.  It made so much sense, and gave so much hope.

On the other hand, I came to realize that I don't have the imagination, or focus, or something, to go through the process by myself.  I need someone else to guide me.  And that someone else needs to read the book first.  So...I'm not going to be making any You-Turns myself for a while.  I also realized that this book isn't really about boundaries.  At least, not what I think boundaries are.  

All is not lost, however.  My main take-away from the book was self-compassion.  Instead of berating myself for feelings that I can't control, I can attempt to get to know, and understand where that feeling is coming from.  And by getting to know my feelings, they begin to have less power over me.

I received this book for free from the publisher through Book Look Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Menu plan for the week of August 20

Hi friends.  Can you believe how fast August has flown by?  Like, we only have two more weeks of our rotating two week menu plan.  Which I have really appreciated having.  I'm definitely considering adapting and extending it.  It's funny, though.  There are meals on the rotation that we haven't had yet, for various reasons. 

In case you missed it, Koko started laying :)  But y'all.  I've been buying eggs the past few weeks.  Hmph.  Those chickens are supposed to be keeping us in eggs.  Here's what happened, though.  MC started football.  And he eats 3 eggs every morning for breakfast.  Bubby became obsessed with waffles, which he makes just about every day.  Waffles require one egg.  I have continued to eat an egg just about every morning for breakfast (one egg omelet with bacon, cheese, and guacamole.  So yummy).  That's 5 eggs a day, not even counting Hubby, who often eats 3 eggs at a time, or AKD, or has eaten 8 eggs in one sitting, or my favorite quiche, which uses eggs in multiples of 6.  I just did the math, and so far we've been getting an average of 3.8 eggs a day.  Not enough.  So, I'm buying eggs for now.

I suspect that in about three weeks we will have a glut of eggs again.  But maybe not, since we're losing light.  I'll let you know.

Here's what's on the menu this week:

Supper:

Friday, August 17, 2018

A little bit of this

Hey y'all.  Sorry about the lack of menu post, or any post, this week.  The Hubs was out of town for a couple of days, and the 2nd kid started football, so it got busy.  But the real reason I didn't post the  menu was because I didn't feel like it.  Rest assured, we did eat things this week. 

Friends, last year, my kiddos started school on this day.  This year, we still have over 3 weeks of summer left (even though it seems like summer's over, because football practice is all consuming).  Mind boggling.

I made cinnamon rolls yesterday.  And when they were done, I realized how easy it is to make cinnamon rolls (the bread machine mixes and raises the dough for me).  In fact, cinnamon rolls are easier to make than cookies--cookie cutter cookies, for sure, but honestly, I think cinnamon rolls are even easier than drop cookies.  They're so easy, I wonder why I don't make them more often.  And here is the truth.  I don't make them more often because I don't eat them.  I don't make cookies all that often, either, because they're harder to resist than cinnamon rolls, and sugar is the enemy.

In chicken news, on Wednesday, we got 5 brown eggs, and on Thursday we got 6 eggs, which means all six of the chickens are laying.  And also, Koko is an egg laying champ, having lain two days in a row at the beginning of her laying career.  It is entirely possible that Koko has been laying for weeks, but because we've not gotten 5 brown eggs in one day before (except that one time, which we're attributing to the invisible chicken), and we haven't caught her in the act, we just don't know.

Koko's eggs are very pale, which is confounding.  Her eggs are supposed to be dark brown.  And Indigo's (which are also very pale) are supposed to be medium brown.  And Hazel's (which are medium brown) are supposed to be white or cream colored.  Evidently, nobody told them.  Well, except me.  I've told them, but they're not really listening.  It's not that I mind--I love their egg colors--but it does make it more difficult to figure them out in the beginning.

Remember Bubby's lap chicken?  Well, Esther is mine.  Whenever the girls are out, Esther spends some time perched on my boot or my leg, or on my shoulder.  I sometimes hang in my hammock, and Esther jumps up to join me.  Her feet are warm and dry, which is a cozy sensation. 


I'm trying to groom Koko to also be a lap chicken.  She's a lovely bird, and I'd like to spend more time with her.  She's also the flightiest of the birds; because she's the smallest, she's at the bottom of the pecking order, which means she runs when approached, by bird or human.  With the advent of egg-laying, she's been slightly less flighty, which means there may be hope.  The issue is, how do I sneak treats to Koko to make her want to hang out with me, without the other girls swarming us?  I'm working on it.

And yes, I'm playing favorites.  What can I say?  I'm a sucker for the underdogchicken.

That's all for now.  I'm planning to get you a menu post next week, but based on my current level of ambivalence, I would suggest not holding your breath.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Menu plan for the week of August 6

August already?  How did that happen?  Week three of our rotating menu plan--still going strong.

Supper:



Other:

Monday, July 30, 2018

Menu plan for the week of July 30

Hi friends.  It's week two of the two week rotating menu plan, and so far, so good.  I need to move a couple of things around this week because of afternoon and evening activities, but it's all good.  At least I don't have to plan what to cook--I just have to plan when.

Last week, I batched the taco-seasoned beef and the hamburgers (along with last weeks' basil chicken burgers), which means less prep time for me!  Yay!  This week, I'll batch the meat sauce, and probably make 2 dozen buns.  I know I'll be ready for a change by the end of August, but at this point, it's hard to imagine moving on from this schedule.  It is so nice to not have to think about food for a while.

Here's what's on the menu this week:

Supper:
  • Tacos, guacamole, taco toppings
  • Out to eat
  • Meat sauce with angel hair pasta, green beans, garlic toast
  • Grilled chicken, salad, garlic toast
  • BLTs, carrots, fruit
  • Hamburgers, buns, chips, broccoli/cauliflower/carrots
  • Grilled pork chops, mashed potatoes, grilled green veggie

Other:
  • Muffins
  • Cinnamon rolls
  • Buns

Friday, July 27, 2018

18 for 2018 (July)

It's time for another monthly update on my 18 goals for 2018.  In July, I ...
  • Got the boys' pictures taken.  I actually won a photo shoot in a contest, just in time to complete this goal.  The photographer did a pretty good job, but she found it strange that my kiddos were not complaining.  I told her that they know by now that sometimes you just have to do things to make the Mama happy.
  • Went on "dates" with MC and Bubby
There's hardly anything left on the list, so I'm not sure if I'll make any progress in August.  Maybe.  But if not, I'm still way ahead of schedule, so it's all good.  The first two goals that are left are definitely the most difficult ones to acheive, so it makes sense that they're still ongoing.  Here's what's left:
  • ** # Purge file cabinet and create paper organization system--Ugh!  We have so.much.paper.  Half of me wants to get rid of it all.  The other half is afraid I'll shred something we'll need later.
  • ** Create a household binder/legacy box--I think my boys would be lost if something happened to me.
  • Send Christmas cards in 2018
** The things that would have been on my list of 8
# Partially completed

How are you doing on your goals this year?


*****
Here's the entire list:
18 for 2018
  1. ** Make oyster shell and grit dispensers for the chickens
  2. ** Plant a garden--with tomatoes and jalapenos
  3. Can jalapenos--they don't necessarily have to be the ones I grow
  4. Have everyone in the household take the love languages quiz--we could do this on Valentine's Day, but since it's also Ash Wednesday this year, I don't think that's gonna happen...
  5. Go on a date with each of my boys (AKD, MC, Bubby)
  6. ** Send friend mail 8 6 4 times (if you'd like to receive friend mail from me, use the contact link above to give me your address)
  7. Obtain and begin using a to-do notebook--this has already been so useful!  I have a running to-do list now, instead of having to start fresh every day.  It's a lot more difficult to misplace than a random piece of paper.
  8. ** Purge file cabinet and create paper organization system--Ugh!  We have so.much.paper.  Half of me wants to get rid of it all.  The other half is afraid I'll shred something we'll need later.
  9. ** Create a household binder/legacy box--I think my boys would be lost if something happened to me.
  10. Delete saved electronic mystery shop screen shots and receipts--yep, I've got every screen shot and almost every receipt from every mystery shop I've done in the past four years.  It's a lot.
  11. ** Buy desk task light--I've already tried once this year, but I didn't like it, so I need to try again.
  12. Buy phone charging cords for each of our vehicles--I told Hubby I was going to do this, and he was like, but we have charging cords in all the vehicles, don't we?  Well, yes, we do...for his phone, but not for AKD's and mine.
  13. Make a chicken sign--It's going to have the silhouette of a chicken, and say something along the lines of, "Danger: Dinosaur Area."
  14. Take a class through community education or a local craft store--I used to do this fairly often, but somewhere along the line, I stopped.
  15. ** Finish valances for master bedroom.  I've only had the material for...3 years? 4?  A long time.
  16. Crochet messy bun hat or Arm knit scarf
  17. ** Get the boys' picture taken--the place I used to take them to closed, so I need to find a new photographer.
  18. Send Christmas cards in 2018

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Basil Chicken Burgers

Do you ever run into recipes where, before you can make the recipe, first you have to make some of the recipe components?  For instance, if you're making a trifle, first you have to make the cake, pastry creme or pudding, and whip the cream.

I ran into just that sort of recipe yesterday, when I made Basil Chicken Burgers.  First I had to grind the chicken and make the pesto.  In order to make the pesto I had to toast the walnuts.  Luckily, toasted walnuts only have one ingredient, or I'm sure I would have had to make something else before toasting the walnuts, too.  In order to serve the burgers, I had to make buns.

And you are absolutely right.  I could have purchased ground chicken.  But why would I pay three times as much when I can grind it myself?  I could have purchased pesto (and have, in fact, purchased pesto in the past).  But why would I when I have basil in abundance, and all of the other ingredients on hand?  I could have purchased the walnuts already toasted.  But why would I when I have 2+ pounds of raw walnuts in my freezer?  I could have purchased the buns, but why would I when my homemade ones taste so much better and don't contain high fructose corn syrup or preservatives?

You may be relieved to hear that I did purchase mayonnaise to use in this recipe.  I could have made my own, but why would I, when I made $0.50 on the "purchase" of this mayo (and it also doesn't have high fructose corn syrup or preservatives)?

I found this recipe in a Family Fun Magazine years ago, and I can't find the recipe online anymore, so I've posted it below.  Since this is one of the recipes on my two week rotating menu plan, I tripled the recipe and froze the extras.  Hooray for batch cooking!

Chicken Basil Burgers
(click here to print this recipe)
Ingredients (serves 6)
    For the burgers:
    • 1 1/2 pounds ground chicken (I grind my own in the food processor)
    • 3/4 cup grated sharp Cheddar or 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
    • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
    • 2 tablespoons pesto (store-bought or your favorite recipe)
    • Oil for brushing the burgers
    For serving:
    • 6 burger rolls
    • Lettuce
    • Sliced tomatoes
    For the Pesto Mayonnaise:
    • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
    • 2 tablespoons pesto
    Instructions

    1. Line a medium-size baking sheet with plastic wrap and set it aside.
    2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground chicken, cheese, salt, and pepper, gently tossing the mixture with your hands or a large fork, until evenly blended.
    3. In a small bowl, mix 1/3 c. mayonnaise with 2 T pesto, then add it to the ground chicken mixture and combine until evenly blended.
    4. (Because I have kiddos who don't like cheese, I combine all the ingredients except for the cheese, then divide the mixture into two even portions, and add half the amount of cheese to one portion)
    5. Shape the meat into six 1/2-inch-thick patties, placing each one on the lined baking sheet as you go. Cover the burgers with plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least 30 minutes to firm them. (Note: The patties will be softer than traditional hamburgers.)
    6. While the meat is chilling, prepare the grill and make the Pesto Mayonnaise (just combine the ingredients in a small bowl).
    7. Brush one side of each of the burgers with a little oil and place them on the grill, oiled side down. Lightly brush oil on the other side of the burgers and cook them for 5 minutes on each side, turning once, or until the meat is no longer pink inside.
    8. Serve the burgers on the rolls, dressed with the lettuce, tomatoes, and Pesto Mayonnaise.
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    Wednesday, July 25, 2018

    Garden update

    Hey y'all.  Things are happening in the garden, so I thought I'd post another update.

    Most exciting, to me anyway, are the grape tomatoes.  There are three that are just about ready for harvest.  Mmmm.  So good.

    I also noticed that two of my tomatoes turned orange overnight.  They'll be perfect for BLT night next week.

    The Brussels sprouts are finally forming, although I've already seen bugs on them, so I'm not sure if we'll actually be able to enjoy them or not.  I'm sorta tempted to pull at least some of the plants out, because they're crowding both the cantaloupe and the jalapeno peppers.

    Speaking of jalapeno peppers, I'm not sure how to tell when they're ready for picking.  We have about 5 that are close, but I don't want to pick them too early.  Or too late.  I guess I have some googling to do.  It would be really nice if I had enough tomatoes and enough jalapenos for a batch of salsa, ready at the same time.

    I've seen a couple of small cantaloupes on the vines, which are going everywhere.  The Brussels sprouts are shadowing the plants where they're rooted, so the vines are seeking out sunshine elsewhere.  One of them even climbed one of the sprout plants.

    We have both June bearing and ever-bearing strawberries in our garden, and the ever-bearers are working on their second wave of strawberries.

    As far as I know, the potatoes are doing OK.  Kind of hard to tell, since the tubers form underground.  It's an exercise in faith.  The green parts, that are above ground, are doing well, although they're a bit leggier than I think potato plants ought to be, and something has been eating a few leaves here and there.
    There are potatoes under there.  I think.

    The basil is doing really well.  I keep cutting it back because it's getting too big, and then three days later it's back, and even bigger than when I cut it.  I dried some in the oven, which I will use to make spaghetti sauce next week, and today I'll make pesto to use for the chicken basil burgers.  I have the perfect little mason jar in which to store the extra.  If there is any extra.

    Last week I told a friend that next year I need to plant sugar snap peas, or some other early harvest crop, because I am not good at waiting for things to grow in the garden.  If I can have that not-quite-instant, but certainly pretty fast, gratification of harvesting something early, that will go a long way to keeping me focused and motivated.

    Of course, it won't hurt to get the garden planted a little earlier, either.

    That's it for now.
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