Friday, July 20, 2018

More Random Musings

I just finished the report for a restaurant mystery shop.  This report is so easy.  Ridiculously easy.  No commentary (written answers to questions)--only multiple choice questions.  Takes less than 5 minutes.  And the in-store portion is super easy, too.

Every time I do this particular shop, I tell myself I should really do it more often.  The reason I don't do it more often, though, is that this particular shop doesn't pay a fee.  It's reimbursement only.  Which means I always wait until this shop gets bonused, which doesn't always happen.  And when this shop is bonused, other people often snap it up before I get a chance.

And now that I've confused, and/or bored-to-tears all but one of you, here's what else I've been musing upon:

*****
This is kind of funny.  And sad.  Because I am losing my mind.  And a mind is a terrible thing to lose.

I follow a YouTube channel that puts a video out every Thursday at 8 p.m.  I know this because when I let the girls out, it's at 8 p.m., and I sometimes watch YouTube videos as I'm watching them.  And on Thursdays, this is the video I watch.  So I was hanging out with the chickens, and thought to myself, I'll watch that video.  Only, it never came.  I kept checking back, but nothing.  I was disappointed.  I wondered if some emergency had befallen the family.

The chickens went back into their coop, I secured them, and went to bed.  And then I woke up.  Yesterday.  Thursday.  Yup.  I was waiting for my Thursday video on Wednesday.  The struggle is real, y'all.

*****
Our library system recently changed the way they fill holds.  It used to be that when I requested an item, my name would go on a list of everybody who had requested that item from our library system.  Every copy of that same item owned by any of the 49 libraries in the system would be put in a (virtual) pile , and as they became available, items would be sent to where ever the next-in-line requester wanted them, in the order in which they requested the item.  First come, first served, from the pool of all the libraries.

Now, when I request an item, my name is put on two lists: the first is the list of people who requested the item to be picked up at my library.  The second is the list of all of the people who requested the item to be picked up at any member library.  My hold will be filled with a copy from my library.  They just go down the list of people who requested the item from my library, and give it to each of us, in order.

If copies of the item that are owned by other libraries in the system become available before the copy from my library is available (because fewer people requested the item from that library), my hold will be filled, on a first come first serve basis, with a copy from another library.  They'll go down the second list, and send it off in order of request.  This means that, even though I requested the item 6 months ago, someone who requested it a week ago might get a copy before me.

I understand why they would want to do this.  I'm sure it cuts down tremendously on library materials needing to be couriered around from library to library.  It's also probably pretty frustrating to the librarians to have to send their copy of whatever it is all over the place, while their local patrons have to wait.

And I really don't mind.  It's fine with me if they want to fill holds that way.  What does bother me, though, is that I can't tell where I am in the queue anymore.  I used to be able to go to the website and see that I was next in line, or 10th in line, or 363rd in line.  And I could use that information to decide if I wanted to suspend a hold, like if we were going to be out of town or particularly busy when the item became available.  I could plan ahead.  If it looked like I was going to be getting a DVD on Thursday, I could tell the fam that we were going to be having a family movie night on Saturday.

I can't do that anymore.  It's always a surprise.  Which is ok, I mean, who doesn't love surprises?  But also, I would like to know.  Because I don't actually like surprises all that much.  I hope they're working on it.

*****
My oldest is heading off to college in the fall, and I'm a part of a few parent Facebook groups associated with the university.  It's been really interesting seeing the kinds of questions parents are asking, and the kinds of answers they're getting.  It's definitely highlighting to me how everybody parents differently. 

One thing in particular that has struck me is the parents who are packing for their children.  I don't even pack for my children when we go on short trips, and it makes absolutely no sense to me to pack for AKD to go to school.  How do I know what he wants up at school?  I mean, I'm giving him suggestions, because I've been there, but ultimately, he is an adult (in a few more days), and he will figure out what he wants and needs.

I'm not judging--I'm sure they're doing what's best for their family--but it just highlights how different every family is.

And then there are the questions that parents ask on behalf of their children.  For instance, does anyone know when RAs can move in?  Girlfriend, if your child is an RA, it's kind of their job to know when they're supposed to move in.  Or if they don't know, they should sure as heck know how to find out.

The other questions that kind of amuse me are the questions that can be easily answered by looking on the school's website.  I understand.  Sometimes it's easier to ask someone rather than figure out the answer yourself.  And believe me, I would be asking those questions, too, if I wasn't so confident in my son's ability to figure things out.  But I have to laugh because inevitably, one of the other parents in the group will respond with a link to the page on the school's website that addresses the question.  Not in a snarky way, but kind of.  Like, stop wasting my time, and look it up for yourself.  Except they didn't  have to answer--they could have just scrolled on by.  So funny.

*****
This egg situation, man.  It's driving me to crazy town.  Yesterday, I went out to the coop in the morning and got two eggs: one from Rocky, one from Indigo.  Around lunch time, I went out again and got another two eggs: one from Toasty, one from Rocky.  Except.  Rocky can't lay two eggs in four hours.  So who *actually* laid those eggs?  It's mind bending.  

You might wonder why it matters, why I bother to keep track.  Well, first, I just want to know.  It's kind of fun knowing whose egg I'm eating.  The other day I made cookies with two Hazel eggs.  This morning I had an Esther egg omelet.  And second, egg-laying is an indicator of hen-health.  If a hen is laying eggs regularly, she's in fairly good health.  If she stops, there might be something wrong.

In this case, all of the eggs are shades of brown, so I know Esther didn't lay any of them.  And Koko's not laying yet (or is she?), so I know she didn't lay any of them.  Which means all four of the others each laid one of these eggs.  I don't really need to know who laid each egg, just that those four produced eggs yesterday.  In this case, examining the eggs side-by-side, it must have been Toasty, Indigo, Hazel, Rocky, but it doesn't really matter.

I still want to know, though.  

This one's from Indigo ~ ~ ~ This one's from Hazel
I know, because I caught them in the act.
But that was a week ago.


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Girls

Just wanted to share some updated pictures of the girls.  The Littles are 19 weeks old.  The Bigs are 14 months old.  Enjoy.

Indigo

Koko, with Hazel in the background

Hazel

Toasty Crunch, with Esther in the background

Rocky

Esther

Esther, Hazel, Indigo, and Koko on the other side of the hardware cloth
 
Toasty, Indigo, Hazel, Koko

Indigo and Hazel

Koko and Hazel

Indigo, Hazel, Koko
Esther, on my foot, looking down on Koko, Hazel, and Indigo as the sun goes down

Monday, July 16, 2018

No menu plan for the week of July 16

Hi friends.

Turns out, I stay up way too late when Hubby is in town, too.  It's not that I want to stay up late.  It just happens.  After about a month (who am I kidding, it's been 6 months) of Hubby being alternately home and not home, and me not really sleeping either way, I'm a zombie.  Except I don't eat brains.  My brain is pretty foggy, though.  I don't think I should be operating heavy machinery.

...

Kitchen appliances are heavy, don't you think?  Yeah.  I think so, too.  Better not to risk it.  So no menu plan this week.  I suspect we will be eating a lot of breakfast foods at all hours of the day this week.  Maybe some tacos.

As for other stuff, we are in dire need of canned beans, as in, we are completely out, even of commercially canned beans.  I'm not sure if my zombie-self can muster up the brain power or hand-eye coordination for pressure canning, though.  And oh my lanta!  No way can I pressure can if the weather continues to be as hot and humid this week as it was last week.  I'm definitely wishing that I had canned more beans back in February.  I should have canned all the beans when it was cold.  This winter, I'll know better.  If I can remember.

What are you eating this week?

Friday, July 13, 2018

Garden Update

I thought y'all might be curious as to how the garden's growing, or at least how the tomatoes and jalapenos are doing.  No salsa yet, due to the late planting.  Soon, though.

 I planted basil this year, right outside the front door so I can run out and snip some when I need it.  I pruned it a couple of weeks ago, and it's doing really well.

In the background, you can see a little bit of the pond--it has a leak, but we don't know where.  Going to have to do something about that at some point.

 Also right outside the front door, we have one grape tomato plant.  If you have never plopped a sweet, ripe, sun-warmed grape tomato straight from the vine into your mouth, you have not lived.  Divine.

 The potatoes are flowering.  Who knew potatoes had such pretty flowers?  Anyway, they're flowering, which means right now the potatoes are forming.  If we dug them now, we would get new potatoes.  It's very tempting, but I think we owe it to the experiment to keep them in the ground.  Potatoes only form between the seed potato and the top of the soil, so if/when we plant potatoes again, we are going to make it easier to bury the plants as they grow, by planting in a trench, or a bucket, or a pile of old tires.

 We have a few jalapenos on each of our four plants.  I have never, ever successfully grown peppers.  Guess I just wasn't planting the right kind.

The garlic that I planted in between the jalapeno plants is growing.  I'm excited to see how that turns out.

 We have four different varieties of tomatoes in the back garden, and all of them are setting fruit.  I don't know if pruning the suckers is making any difference in the production of the plants, but it sure does keep the plants more manageable.  It's not quite as jungle-like as some of my previous tomato beds.

I purchased the tomatoes as transplants in four-packs, and when I got them home, I realized one of the four-packs only had three plants in it.  Oops.  And I did put at least one back on the shelf for that very reason.  So I had an empty spot in the tomato bed.  I had heard that you can root suckers to make new tomato plants.  Of course I also heard that you should put rooting powder on them and put them in water and then transplant to the garden.  I just stuck them in the dirt instead--three of them--to see what would happen, and one of them did, indeed, take root.  I noticed flower buds on that plant the other day, and it's getting big enough that it probably needs a stake.

We've been seeing lots of flowers on our cantaloupe plants, but no melons yet.  I haven't started hand pollinating them, but I might, soon, if nothing develops.  As planned, the vines are climbing the fence at the back of the garden.

The Brussels sprouts are taking over their garden bed.  Who knew those things would get so big?  Well, ok, I did.  No actual sprouts, yet, and the leaves are polka dotted with holes from insects of the Brassicaceae-pest variety.  Brussels sprouts don't take too well to hot weather, which is what we've been having this summer, so I'm not holding out too much hope for them.

I deadheaded my lavender the other day, and my hands sure smelled good after that.  While I was deadheading, I noticed a lot of new growth.  I'm hoping that eventually, lavender will take over the area behind the pond--I'm trying to make that area butterfly friendly.

And I think that's it.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

What the...? ~or~ Who's laying which eggs?

Y'all.  I don't know how to tell you this, so I'm just gonna come right out and say it: we got six eggs yesterday.  Yeah.  You read that right.  Six. 

I'm pretty sure only five of the girls are laying.  I mean, Koko is still so small, and she has a really small comb and really small wattles, and there has been no submissive squatting, only running away.  Additionally, heritage breeds, like black austrolorps, generally come into lay about a month later than hybrids.

So how (in the world) could we get six eggs in one day?  This situation reminds me of this:

{source}
Based on the number of eggs, there must be chickens around here that I haven't met.

I printed out an egg calendar, because I need to keep track, not only of how many eggs we're getting each day, but of how many eggs each chicken is laying.  But since I don't know who's laying half of these eggs, there just isn't room on the family calendar to keep track.


When it was just the Bigs laying, I used their initials, but for these little eggs, I need to use descriptors.  

There they are, one each from Esther, Toasty Crunch, and Rocky, plus a brown egg in the run, a brown egg in the nest box, and a white egg in the nest box.


Here's how it's possible.  I sent one of the boys out on Monday night for the last egg check of the day.  I told him to check in the run, but maybe he didn't see that egg.  Or maybe it was buried in the grass clippings that we're using as bedding in the run.  I'm going with that theory for now, because I don't see how it's possible that Koko could be laying, and I don't see how it's possible that one of the girls, especially one of the littles, could lay two eggs in one day.

With the discovery of a second white egg, our current theory is that Hazel is indeed laying white/cream eggs (yay!).  Which means that Indigo has to be laying all of the little brown eggs.  And there have been a lot of little brown eggs!  And it also means that Hazel has laid just two.  That's kind of unbelievable, because Indigo is so much smaller than Hazel and started squatting much later.  If the brown eggs are Indigo's, that means she laid the first egg.  And if all of the brown eggs are Indigo's, why are some of them in the run, some in the hen house, and some in the nest box?

I asked the girls, but they were close-mouthed about the whole thing.  Except Toasty, who has always been pretty vocal.  She had no insight into the egg mystery, however.

It's a mystery, for sure.  I'm thinking about just camping out in the coop until I catch the Littles in the act.  Or set up a hen house cam.  I'll keep you posted.

By the way, the first egg that we found in the hen house, the one that was bigger than all of the other little eggs, had two yolks.  So whoever laid that one (Indigo?) laid a double yolk for her first egg.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Menu plan for the week of July 9

Hi everybody--it's time for another menu plan post! 

I inventoried my freezer the other day, and as a result I worked up a 2 week rotating menu for half of July and all of August, in an attempt to use up some of our frozen meats.  Repeating the same meals every other week will give me a chance to buy in bulk to stock up ahead of time, meaning hopefully I'll only need to buy a few groceries each week, things like milk and fresh produce.  It also means I'll be able to do some batch cooking, which will hopefully minimize daily prep time.  I'll be introducing that menu in two weeks, but for now, here's what's on the menu this week:

Supper:


Other:

Sunday, July 8, 2018

10 Minutes in the Word: Proverbs ~ A Review


10 Minutes in the Word: Proverbs is a perfectly sized devotional book that takes the reader through the entire book of Proverbs in 45 short chapters.  Each four page devotional begins with a highlighted verse or two, followed by instructions to read part of Proverbs.  The book covers the entire text of Proverbs, but each day includes a chapter or less of reading.  The reading is followed by a 2 page reflection on the passage, a short prayer, and questions for reflection.  Each day really does take 10 minutes or less to complete.

I liked this book.  I've attempted to read Proverbs in the past, but usually just ended up confused, or even worse, not really retaining anything from what I had read.  This devotional breaks Proverbs into easy sections, and the reflections focused my attention so that I could relate these thousands of years old words to my modern life.

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


Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Curious Occurrences in the Coop

Well, y'all, I'm really not sure what to make of this.

On Monday, when I went out to check on the girls, I found this:

just sitting in the run near the grit dispensers.  I was so excited, although a bit disappointed that it wasn't white or cream. I congratulated Hazel on laying her first egg, but admonished her to lay the next one in a nest box.

Later that evening, the girls were out eating bugs, and I decided to do a little poop scooping in the hen house.  I opened the people door and noticed a little depression in the bedding in the back left corner.  That's where I found this:

What?!  Had Hazel laid an egg previously and I just hadn't noticed it (entirely possible, since I don't open the people door every day)?  Had Indigo laid one of the eggs?  Or both?  Had Toasty decided she'd had enough of the nest box and decided to make her own nest (it's a bit smaller than hers usually are, but approximately the right color)?

I collected the eggs, and admonished the girls, once again, to please lay their eggs in the nest box.  It's 6 feet from the people door to the back of the hen house, and I can't reach that far without assistance of some sort.

On Tuesday, Bubby and I returned from an outing and found this in the nest box:

and this in the hen house, this time in a little nest-like depression in the back right corner.:

In all, we got 5 eggs on Tuesday.  Do you know what this means, friends?  This means we have five hens laying!  It also means that one of the littles (probably Hazel) lays cream colored eggs.  It also also means that someone (probably Indigo) is in the habit of laying eggs in the hen house, which I don't blame her for, because the wood shavings are deeper and cushier there, but which I do not appreciate.  Bubby and I have a plan to get her to lay in the nest box, but I'm going to give her at least one more day before implementation.

(Sorry the color's not true in those photos above, but here you can see how they compare to each other.  The second one I found (second from the left) is bigger than the others, which seems really strange, if it was a first egg)

It's kind of a mystery, what's going on in the coop, but I like a good mystery.  Soon enough we will catch one or both of them in the act, and then we'll know who is laying what.  I'll keep you posted.

*****
There's another odd thing happening in the coop.  Toasty is acting like a rooster.  Like actually mounting Indigo like a rooster would.  Remember when I told you that chickens can change gender?  Um...yeah.  Except Toasty is still laying eggs, so hopefully, this is just a case of the top hen asserting her authority.  She was doing it to Hazel, too, but now that Hazel is bigger than Toasty, I haven't seen her attempt it.  So strange, but, perhaps, normal chicken behavior.  I'll keep you posted on that, too.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Menu plan for the week of July 2

Hey y'all.  Happy July. 

I am so impressed with myself for getting these menu plan posts up every week, even though it's summer.  Well, except for the week of the non-menu post.  How long can this possibly last?  I don't know.  Seems impossible to continue.  But I know how much at least one of you looks forward to these posts, and I don't want to disappoint, so I shall try my best.  Or, you know, halfway or something.

Anyway, here's what's on the menu this week:

Supper:

  • Wild rice casserole, green beans, applesauce
  • Grilled steak, mashed potatoes, grilled green veggie
  • Hot dogs or brats, buns, potato salad, fresh fruit, carrots
  • Tacos
  • Pizza, salad
  • Hamburgers, buns, corn on the cob, fruit
  • Out to eat
  • Chicken pot pie, salad, applesauce


Other:

Friday, June 29, 2018

18 for 2018 (June)

Here's the monthly update on my 18 goals for 2018.  In June I ...
  • Planted a garden.  With tomatoes and jalapenos.  I also planted potatoes, Brussels sprouts, garlic, cantaloupe, carrots, basil, and lavender.  Kind of random, I know.
Everything's doing well.  I mounded the potatoes the other day (and decided that if I ever plant potatoes again, it'll be in a trench), and this year, for the first time ever, I'm trying to keep on top of the tomato suckers.  Supposedly, pruning the suckers off will increase tomato yield.
  • Accomplished goals 13 and 14 in one fell swoop, making a chicken sign at a local painting store that does custom wooden sign classes.
I'm so pleased with how it turned out--they really captured the essence of my vision for this sign.  The store's owner said he and his employees got a real kick out of creating the custom stencils for me, including enjoying speculating about the story behind the sign.  He's planning on adding it to their wooden sign offerings.
  • Scheduled the portrait session required for goal number 17.

In July, we'll get the kids' pictures taken, and I'm planning to go on dates with MC and Bubby.  I'm tempted to send out Christmas cards as well, because who knows how I'm going to feel in late November or early December.  Here's what's left on the list...
  • ** # 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.
  • Go on a date with each of my boys (AKD, MC, Bubby)
  • ** # Get the boys' picture taken--the place I used to take them to closed, so I need to find a new photographer.
  • Send Christmas cards in 2018
** The things that would have been on my list of 8
# Partially completed

We're halfway through the year, and I'm almost done.  Yay for achievable goals!



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, June 28, 2018

The Littles: 16 weeks

The littles are 16 weeks old. Which means they could start laying any day now.
Yup. Any day.

 Just in the past couple of days, Indigo has been looking very hen-like, and she even squatted submissively the other day.  So pretty.

 Ah, sweet Koko. She's so dainty.

Bubby's lap chicken. I think Hazel is actually bigger than Toasty Crunch now, and, of course, she's been submissively squatting for weeks now. 

Making a break for freedom.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Wild Rice Casserole

This is yet another meal that ends up on our menu plans often enough that I thought I should share the recipe.  This is a filling meat and rice casserole that I found in a church fundraising cookbook.

Here ya go:


Wild Rice Casserole
(click here to print)

Ingredients
  • 3 c. boiling water, divided
  • 1 box Uncle Ben's Long Grain & Wild Rice (there are copycat recipes around if you don't want to use a box)
  • 1 lb ground beef (substitute 2-3 c. cooked chicken, cut into bite sized pieces if desired)
  • 1/2 c. chopped onion
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup (or use Cream of _________ Soup Substitute
Instructions
  1. Place Uncle Ben's Long Grain and Wild Rice in a 2 quart baking dish, setting the seasoning packet aside. Pour 2 cups boiling water over the rice, and let sit for about 15 minutes, then drain.
  2. Dissolve bouillon cubes in the remaining 1 c. of boiling water.
  3. Brown ground beef and onion, drain, and add seasoning packet to ground beef mixture.
  4. Mix together dissolved bouillon cubes, drained rice, ground beef mixture, and soup in the casserole dish.
  5. Bake, uncovered, at 325°F for about 30 minutes, or until rice is done and casserole is heated through.
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Monday, June 25, 2018

Menu plan for the week of June 25

We've been having fluctuating numbers of people around here lately.  Wednesday we had four.  Thursday, five.  Friday, three.  Saturday and Sunday, down to two.  Today, we're back up to four, but a different four than were here Wednesday.  All this fluctuation makes it difficult to plan and execute meals, but I think we'll have four for most of the week, so it should be better.  Hopefully?

Here it is:

Supper:
  • Beef stroganoff, corn applesauce
  • Tacos
  • Pasties with beef gravy, salad
  • Rice burgler, applesause
  • Hamburgers, buns, chips, grilled broccoli
  • Brats, hot dogs, buns, oven fries, corn on the cob
  • Hobo pies
  • Wild rice casserole, vegetable medley


Other:

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