Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Menu plan for the week of June 1

I'm a day late on the menu plan, friends, because, well, you know why.  If not, go ahead and click "previous post" down there at the bottom of the page.  I'll wait.

School ended, without a lot of fanfare.  I did make an ice cream dessert to mark the occasion, but even with a special dessert, the school year just sort of fizzled out into nothing.  I've never really enjoyed the end of the school year celebrations because I don't like being around a lot of people, and also, I don't like being hot, but this way, with no fanfare, just seemed a little not-right.

And now what do we do, right?  I mean, most of the attractions that the kids and I would normally visit during the summer are closed right now.  State parks, which we enjoy, are open, but super crowded.  I feel like the summer is going to proceed in the same way that the end of the school year did.  Day will blur into day, and the summer will eventually fizzle to an end.

And now, please join me in praying that in-person school can happen in some sort of way in the fall.  I mean, yes, it would be nice for these people who are here all the time to leave sometimes so they're not constantly a part of my mental load, but even more than that, I just can't even imagine how difficult it would be for a teacher to teach students online that they've never met in person.  Or for students to learn from a teacher they've never met.  It would be so very strange.

I know that this pandemic is not going away anytime soon, but I am fervently hoping for enough of a reprieve to at least get the school year underway in person.

Anyway, here's this week's menu plan.

Supper:


Other:
I don't know.  Probably something for lunch.  Maybe some cookies or muffins.

Monday, June 1, 2020

No title

I have never claimed to be perfect, friends.  I have hesitated to speak my heart on this matter, because I wasn't sure I'd be able to put the right words together.  But I realized that I have to try. 

As violence creeps closer to my side of the river, I am fearful.  I am afraid that the riots will reach my town, and I'm not really reassured by the mayor putting the National Guard on stand-by or the sheriff's department saying they have extra precautions in place and are cooperating with their law enforcement partners.  I do not like this feeling that I may not be safe.  I'm supposed to be doing a job over there today, close to where there has been some property damage, where stores have been closed and boarded up as a precaution, and I don't really want to.  Why should I put myself into potential danger?

But y'all, I am a white woman living in rural America.  I have the privilege of living in a place where I feel safe, almost all the time.  I have the privilege of not putting myself in unnecessary danger.  I have the privilege of knowing that my local police force won't assume that I'm up to no good.  I can go for a walk around the "block," and not be afraid.  For me, being home equals being safe, and to be honest, it is unlikely that the riots will come here.

For so many, being afraid is a daily occurrence.  For black men living in America, feeling unsafe is a way of life.  Black men don't feel safe in their own neighborhoods, friends.  They don't feel safe jogging around the block.  They don't feel safe walking down the street.  They don't feel safe at the dog park.  Even if they happen to live in an affluent suburb or in a "safe" rural area.  For them, it isn't even a question of whether they will be in danger--it is a question of when.  And unfortunately, they're afraid, for good reason, of those who are sworn to protect them.

That is just wrong.

We are broken, friends.  I don't see a solution, but I do see hope.  Let's keep talking about this.  Let's listen to each other, because it seems to me, relationship is the only way through.  Let's be good humans.  Let's love each other.  Fiercely. 

One more thing: don't mistake violence for protest.  The rioters don't care about George Floyd or institutional racism--all they care about is stirring up trouble, and they are doing an excellent job at that.  The rioters are making racial disparity in Minneapolis worse, by scaring and displacing residents who have nowhere else to go, by burning down grocery stores, by causing public transit to be shut down. 

In this epicenter of the storm, the protesters are peaceful, just wanting to be heard, and stirring up trouble of a different kind.  The protesters are stirring up heart trouble for all of those of us who didn't realize this problem exists, or those of us who have become complacent, or those of us who don't think they can be a part of a solution.  Oppression is only possible if those who are not oppressed won't stand for those who are.

Monday, May 18, 2020

5/18/2020

I'm sad today.  I am weary and worn.  I feel inadequate, so less-than, practically worthless.  I know.  It'll pass.  But today?  Today is rough.


Supper:


Other:

  • Taco pasta salad--this is lunch for the adults who like/don't mind eating pasta
  • Some kind of muffins that people who live here like, but not like so much that they eat the entire batch in less than 2 days.
  • Some kind of cookies that people who live here like, but not like so much that they eat the entire batch in less than 2 days.  Bonus points if it's also a kind of cookie that I don't like.
  • Cheeseburger soup?  I'm concerned about ground beef supply, and it seems indulgent to use a couple of pounds of our limited supply just to make lunch for myself.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Strawberry Fluff: a recipe

The other day AKD mentioned that he thought it would be good to have strawberry fluff: like green stuff, which some people call Waldorf salad, or caramel apple salad, but with strawberries.  My personal strawberries aren't ready yet (I saw a few flowers the other day), but somebody's are, because I've been seeing them for cheap at my grocery store...or, more accurately, in my grocery store's sales flyer.

So I decided to look online for a strawberry fluff recipe.  And I found a few, but they all contained cream cheese, which sounded delicious to me, but was a no-go for AKD.  So I had to make my own recipe.

All of the people (who tried it) liked it.  Strawberry fluff won't replace caramel apple salad or green stuff in our menu plans, but we will definitely be adding it to the rotation.


In the tradition of green stuff, strawberry fluff is light and slightly sweet, with just a little bit of crunch, a perfect summer side dish or dessert when strawberries are in season.  Here's the recipe.

Strawberry Fluff
  • 20 oz can crushed pineapple, undrained
  • 1 pkg (3 oz) strawberry flavored gelatin
  • 1 pkg (3.4 oz) instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 lb strawberries, hulled and chopped, about 2 cups
  • 1 c. mini marshmallows
  • 1 c. chopped walnuts (optional. Substitute pecans, pistachios, cashews, or macadamia nuts if desired)
  • 1 pkg (8 oz) whipped dairy topping, thawed
  • (optional) crushed pretzels for garnish
Mix together crushed pineapple with juice, strawberry flavored gelatin, and instant pudding mix.  Add strawberries, marshmallows, and nuts, and stir to combine.  Fold in whipped dairy topping.  Top with additional whole or chopped nuts, if desired, or top with crushed pretzels just before serving.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Menu plan for the week of May 11

Hi friends.  It's May, which means we've got May flowers, right? 

Well, we do have some tulips that are blooming, but that's about it for us.  It's been unseasonably cold the past couple of days, which has me wanting to curl up by the fire with a book.  It's been kind of hard for me to believe that it's May the past couple of days.  It's sort of like when we went to Hawaii, and I had to keep reminding myself that yes, we were in the US, and yes, it was still winter.  Yes, it is May.

Meal planning was difficult this week.  I mean, when is it not?  But it seemed like even more of a slog this time.  The funny thing about that was I actually only had one blank spot to fill on the calendar.

The kids made breakfast for me yesterday, and later on in the day, one of them said to me, "I think it's hard to cook for other people."  Yup.  Sure is.

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

Supper:

  • Bacon ranch meatloaf, mashed potato (that's right--one mashed potato, because that's all we have), green beans
  • Tacos, Strawberry fluff (we're making this one up as we go along)
  • Chicken bundles, green beans
  • Italian Sausage sheet pan meal, applesauce
  • Hamburgers, buns, carrots
  • Pizza, salad
  • Grilled pork chops, mashed potatoes (hopefully we'll have more potatoes by then), grilled broccoli

Friday, May 8, 2020

One week chick update

When last we spoke (about chicks), I wasn't getting any (chicks), at least not that day.  I had been assured that my Blue Cochin and Cream Legbar would be coming at the end of May, and that my California White, along with my bonus Speckled Sussex and Americana, would be coming the next week.

Imagine my surprise when I actually did get a call the next week, saying my chicks were in, and would I like to come pick them up at 1 p.m.?

So I picked up my California White and my two bonus chicks, and asked about the other chicks that were supposed to come at the end of the month.  Yes, they were still supposed to arrive.  Yes, the hatchery guaranteed they'd come.

In the week that they've been with us, the Minis, as we've chosen to call them, have settled in nicely.

This is Charlotte, the California White.
Charlotte is the loudest of the three, and is possibly the ring leader?  It's a little too soon to tell.  She is definitely plotting an escape, and I think she'll be capable of it before we know it.  Charlotte was the first to perch on the little roost, and she spends a lot of time there gazing longingly at the open top of the brooder.

This is Buttercup, the Speckled Sussex.
Buttercup likes to peck at Charlotte's feet when Charlotte is on the roost.  Buttercup is also super fast, zipping around the brooder, seemingly at random.  When I took the Minis out for their photo shoot, Buttercup decided to spend the whole time trying to dust bathe on the towel (I'm going to go get the girl a dust bath as soon as I'm done typing).  I took a short video, but I guess I must have deleted it accidentally when I was deciding which photos to show y'all.  That makes me sad.

This is Guacamole, the Americana.
She is so fluffy!  Guac is the biggest, and also the calmest, of this group of chicks.  She seems pretty laid back.

Unfortunately, Guacamole has developed a cross beak. 
See how her bottom beak doesn't line up with the top?  This can be caused by weak genetics or improper incubation temperature or just bad luck.  A cross beak makes it difficult for a chicken to eat or drink, and because of that, it can be a fatal condition.  There's nothing that can be done about the cross beak, unfortunately.  Nothing will make it better.  So far, she's eating and drinking well, and if she does start to have a problem, there are some things we can do for her to make eating and drinking easier, but her future is uncertain.

I got another call from the feed store yesterday.  Apparently, all of the Cream Legbars are sold out for the season.  And the Blue Cochins are all spoken for.  Yup, the very same ones that the hatchery guaranteed would be available at the end of May.  Would I like an olive egger and a light brahma?  Yeah.  No.  No more chicks for us this year.  Maybe we'll try again next year.  Or not.  Although I think a lot of hatcheries have been having trouble keeping up with demand, and it's not the feed store's fault, I don't think I'll order chicks through this particular feed store again.  I'll go with a store that orders from a larger hatchery.

What a strange and disappointing chick season.  Of the three chicks I ordered, I actually received one, and of the three chicks I received, one has a potentially fatal condition.  Ugh.

Nonetheless, I am happy to have the chicks that I do, for as long as they're with me. And, on the bright side, chick care has become a lot less complicated now that we're not getting a second set of chicks four weeks later.

So that's that.  And those are the Minis. And that's all for now.  Take care, friends.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Bread Machine English Muffins

Yup.  I made English muffins, friends.  Finally.

I saved a recipe, printed from some website, for years, intending to make English muffins.  I bought muffin rings...in 2013 (thank you, Amazon, for keeping track of that for me).  I almost got rid of those muffin rings while decluttering my kitchen too many times to count.  It took a pandemic for me to finally make the English muffins.

It turns out, English muffins are super easy to make, even if you don't have muffin rings.  With just a few ingredients and some patience, you too can make fresh, delicious English muffins in a few hours. I used my bread machine to mix, knead, and raise these, but you can definitely do these things by hand if you don't have a bread machine.


Here's the recipe:
English Muffins
adapted from here
1 c. milk
3 T. butter, melted and cooled
1 egg
1/2 t. salt
2 t. sugar
3 c. all purpose flour
1 1/2 t. yeast
cornmeal (for dusting)

  • Add ingredients, except for cornmeal, to bread machine in the order listed.
  • Start the dough cycle.  After about 5 minutes, lift the bread machine lid to check on the ingredients.  If needed, scrape down sides.  If the dough seems too dry, add water, 1 t at a time until it comes together.  If the dough seems too wet, add flour 1 t at a time.
  • When the dough cycle is complete, on a surface lightly dusted with cornmeal, pat the dough into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick, and cut into rounds using a cup, a biscuit cutter, a muffin, ring, or even a tuna can.  You can gather up scraps and cut more rounds, for a total of 8-10.  Alternately, divide the dough into 8 equal portions, and pat each portion into rounds about half an inch thick, then dip both sides in cornmeal.
  • Cover and let rise for 20-30 minutes.
  • Heat a cast iron skillet or electric griddle over medium-low heat.
  • Cook the muffins, until they are golden brown, about 5-7 minutes per side.
  • Cut with a serrated knife and serve warm.  Any extras can be frozen, and heated in the toaster or microwave.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Cricut brag post

I definitely go through periods of time where it seems impossible to do anything creative, and the advent of our state's stay at home order seemed like one of those times.  So here I was thinking that I had done hardly any Cricuting in the past few months, but in the midst of the impossible, I've been able to find pockets of inspiration.  I was planning on making this Cricut brag post part of a Random Thoughts with Scarlet post, but I've done enough projects since my last Cricut brag post in February that you're getting a whole separate post.

Here they are, in reverse chronological order.

 I made this sign for my aunt--it's an inside joke between her and my uncle.  It's pretty rustic, but I love the way it turned out.

 I made this sign for a friend whose female kitten keeps attacking my friend's husband when he tries to enter my friend's office.  I figured my friend's husband needed a sign to remind him to stay out, because he keeps going in there, despite Elf the kitten's insistence to the contrary.

 I kind of flinch when people refer to what's happening right now as being quarantined, because we (most of us) are not quarantined.  If we were quarantined, we wouldn't be able to go anywhere at all.  Nowhere.  Not the grocery store.  Not to pick up take-out.  Not to go for a walk.  Nowhere.

But this is what the customer wanted.  And when the customer is a high school senior whose k12 school career is ending nothing like she expected it to go, I'm willing to flinch a little.

 Hubby's cousin welcomed a new little one, so I made a onesie.  So sweet.

 Bunnies for Easter.

 Carrots for the bunnies.

 I'm hoping this holds true for this year.

These projects were completed before our state ordered us to stay home.
 This one might look familiar.  I made a similar sign for a silent auction.  This one is for my brother and sis.  Actually, I'm not sure my brother even knows about it, so maybe it's just for my sis.

 I made this sign for a friend of mine who has two grown children.

 I made this sign for a friend.  It's something her youngest kiddo said when he was 5 or 6 years old.  I love this idea!  Did your kiddo say cute things when they were young?

One of our pastors shared that in a meeting, she had been asked what her word of the year was.  Not having really thought about it before, she sort of panicked and said the first word that came to mind.  It's not a bad word, and I hope it's been a good guide for her in 2020.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Menu plan for the week of May 4

It's May 4th today, or, as one of my kiddos keeps reminding me, May the Fourth.  I got nothin' special for today.  Except maybe today is the day we finish my Star Wars goal.  Except our library has started circulating materials again, and I'm on the list, so maybe not.  There's nothing special as far as food goes, though.  If you were having special food for May the Fourth day, what would you have?

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

Supper:

  • Cheesy mini burgers, rice, broccoli
  • Nachos, guacamole
  • Breakfast pizza
  • Spaghetti, green beans, garlic toast
  • Hot dogs, buns, jello, chips, carrots
  • Chicken basil burgers, buns, asparagus
  • Fend for yourself


Other:

  • Mexican quinoa with grilled chicken



Friday, May 1, 2020

15/20 for 2020

I feel like I need to slow down, y'all.  We're just 1/3 of the way through the year, and already 3/4 of my 20 goals have been completed.  At this rate, I'm going to overshoot my goal of completing twenty goals this year.  I do know, from past experience, that I will be less likely to complete goals during the summer and during the last few months of the year, so maybe it's good that I'm this far in already.

Anyway, here are the first fifteen of my 20 for 2020 goals:
  1. Make sauerkraut
  2. Grow an amaryllis
  3. Drink tea.
  4. Make cloth napkins for more seasons.
  5. Track something.
  6. Buy a statement necklace.
  7. Make a box to sit on our toilet tank.  
  8. Make a particular wooden sign for a friend.
  9. Make mayonnaise.
  10. Make maple syrup.  
  11. Watch the Star Wars movies in timeline order.  I don't think I had ever seen any of them besides Episodes IV, V, and VI.  That is a travesty.  
  12. Start seeds indoors
  13. Make a reusable bag out of a chicken feed sack.  Don't look too closely at my stitches, because they're not pretty, but I love my new chicken bag.  Based on this goal, you might assume that I also accomplished the "obtain a working sewing machine" goal.  That's kind of true, but it's also kind of not true, since I feel like it could stop working at any time, and also, it's not working well (see: don't look too closely at my stitches).  
  14. Finish or decide to abandon that darn puzzle.  This is one of those COVID-19 hidden blessings.  No way would we have finished this puzzle without our state's Safer at Home order.  We've had it, and it's been in progress, for 5 or 6 years.  There are 1000 "random-cut" pieces, and because they don't necessarily all lock into place with each other, we couldn't even tell if we had the entire outer edge done.  It was a very frustrating experience, and now I know to avoid "random-cut" puzzles at all costs.  Too late, I realized that I should have taken a photo every day to show the progress.  Oh well.  Here it is, finished (except for one piece that has been lost to the universe.  I feel like that's pretty darn good for sitting out where wild children congregate for 5 or so years).  
  15. Make a cast iron skillet handle cover.  Cast iron skillets are excellent for cooking because they heat so evenly.  Unfortunately, the even heat means the handle gets hot, too, which is why I wanted a cover.  This was more difficult than I anticipated, and it didn't turn out exactly how I pictured it, but I managed.   

Here are some goals I plan to work on in May:
  1. Make and install towel hooks/shelf in the bathroom.  I wonder how many more months I will intend to work on this goal.  It does seem a bit pointless to work on it right now because then I'll have to store it for months while I first brood chicks, and then paint the bathroom. 
  2. Wash outside windows
  3. Plant something new.  Imagine a fruit that looks like, and has the texture of, a granny smith apple, but tastes like honeydew.  That's what I'm growing!  And starting indoors.  I'm also growing a new to me watermelon and beets for the first time.  So fun!


And here is the list of potential goals, which is finally decreasing in length:
  1. Crochet a cowl
  2. Crochet a poncho
  3. Make reusable food wrap
  4. Make a pretty apron (I would have to find a pattern I like first.  Also, a sewing machine)
  5. Make lip balm
  6. Make soap
  7. Make a console table/thing to keep the step stool from dinging our wall.
  8. Make a frame for the B
  9. String art
  10. Install pallet wall
  11. Install gallery wall (we had a gallery wall, but there was just something off about it.  I was never happy with it.  Too symmetrical, maybe.  Or the frames were too close together.  Or maybe too big or too small in scale for the wall.  So I'm afraid to try again, lest I not like it again.  I think a gallery would look better on the wall we're intending to palletisize (absolutely a word), but I don't know if I will want to cover up so much of that wall).
  12. Light an outdoor tree (there is a sledding hill between our house and the tree I want to light, so I'm not sure it'll work.  Either there will be an extension cord that we will have to avoid while sledding, or the lights will have to be solar or battery powered, which, of course, would drive up the cost of this project).
  13. Go to a movie by myself (not sure what's coming in 2020, but there's bound to be at least one movie that I want to see, but no one else in my family wants to see).
  14. Hang the W (MC made a beautiful wooden W sign that needs hanging).
  15. Repair moose pillows
  16. Log 50 activities on Strava
  17. Can apple pie filling
  18. Remove a popcorn ceiling
  19. Wash outside windows
  20. Grow and can pickles
  21. Obtain a working sewing machine
  22. Make and install towel hooks/shelf in the bathroom.  I have the hooks.  I think I probably have the wood (I need to go through the stack of pallet wood to see if I have a combination of sizes that will add up to the size I want).  It needs to happen.  Now it's just a question of how long it'll take for me to actually take action.
  23. New floor.  It's time.  It's past time.
  24. Plant something new .  Imagine a fruit that looks like, and has the texture of, a granny smith apple, but tastes like honeydew.  That's what I'm growing!  And starting indoors.  I'm also growing a new to me watermelon and beets for the first time.  So fun!
  25. Stencil a welcome mat.  Because our storm door opens outward and is very close to the porch surface, we won't be able to actually use the welcome mat at our own house, but I really want to try the technique.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Stress baking

I don't know if y'all have noticed, but I've been stress baking.  I've always liked to bake, and there's just something so comforting about gathering ingredients and methodically following instructions to transform them into something warm and delicious.  Bread baking is one of my very favorite scents.


I brought the friendship bread starter out, which we previously established cannot really be called friendship bread, so instead we call her Shirley.  I made English muffins, of all things.  They were pretty easy.  And one of the kiddos said they actually tasted good, as opposed to the store bought ones that don't.  I hadn't known, up until that moment, that this kiddo didn't like English muffins.  This week's planned addition to the stress-baking repertoire is brookies.  That's brownies + cookies, y'all.  I say planned addition, because you know there's going to be more unplanned additions.  Probably lots more.


I mention the stress-baking thing, because you might be looking at what I'm making and thinking, wow.  She's got it so together, she can make decorated sugar cookies, and a royal icing transfer for a cake, and a cake.  She can keep a friendship bread starter alive, and make things like biscuits from it.  She can make donuts and cinnamon rolls from scratch.


All true, except for the she's got it all together part.  The baking, that's part of what's holding me together right now.  It nurtures and sustains me. I'm sure you have something like that, too.  Something that, if I knew you were doing it, I would be super impressed and think you have it all together.  Something that, however, is actually nurturing and sustaining for you, and right now feels necessary.


Y'all.  This thing is affecting us all differently.  That doesn't necessarily mean it's easier or more difficult, just different.  And just as we're all being affected differently, we're all using different means to cope.  For me, that's baking.  What is that for you?

Monday, April 27, 2020

Menu plan for the week of April 27

Hi friends.  Here I go, planning meals again.  They're a bit repetitive right now.  The menus, that is.  Thankfully, no one is complaining about it.  At least not yet.  I could eat the same thing every day for a long time--in fact, I do, for breakfast and lunch.  Not sure about those other people who live here, though.

A note on a couple of the menu items. 

We're having Italian sausage k-bobs this week, based on my very favorite sheet pan meal.  Every time we have this dish, AKD suggests that we should make it in k-bob form.  The other kiddos will probably have hot dogs, because they don't like Italian sausage all that much, and we only have a few Italian sausage links. 

I'm also making AFB granola bars this week.  I revived my starter a couple of weeks ago, and when baking day came around last week, I didn't feel like making the traditional bread, or actually, any bread at all (I made cookies).  The granola bars sounded good but, in my opinion, we didn't have a wide enough variety of mix-ins available at the time.  All the rest of the starter went into the freezer for future use, but I kept out a half cup for these. 

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

Supper:

  • Meatballs, mashed potatoes, green beans, applesauce
  • Tacos
  • Pizza casserole, green beans, applesauce
  • Rice burgler
  • Hamburgers, buns, chips, grilled veggie
  • Italian sausage k-bobs (this sheet pan meal, in shish-kabob form), roasted brussels sprouts
  • Grilled chicken, salad, grilled asparagus


Other:

Friday, April 24, 2020

No chicks for me!

Welp...

Funny story.  I was supposed to be spending today picking up three new chicks and getting them settled in their new home.

I ordered these chicks in February.  That's two months ago, and long before their eggs were even laid.  One would think that two months notice was plenty, and that I would be able to get the chicks I wanted.  One should know better than to count her chicks before they're hatched.

The first indication that something was amiss was a phone call from the feed store about a month ago.  They were not going to be able to get the gold laced Cochin that we ordered, but they could get us either a blue Cochin or a light Brahma.  We decided on the light Brahma, because this:



I mean, who wouldn't want these majestic creatures in their backyard flock?  I wasn't even disappointed by this turn of events. 

About a week later, another phone call.  No light Brahma for us, but would we like the blue Cochin?

OK, yes.  We already have a chicken with the blue color variation, and I was really looking forward to having a light Brahma, but this chicken will be fluffy, so we'll take it.

So all was well, mostly.  I mean, does Fluffer Nutter even make sense as a name for a gray and dark gray chicken, even if it's super fluffy?  I don't know.  But we ordered three chickens and we were going to receive three chickens, and we would love them, even if one of them wasn't our first choice.

Fast forward to Wednesday.  Yeah.  Two days ago Wednesday.  The hatchery doesn't have the blue Cochin or the Cream Legbar.  Not this week.  But they promised, guaranteed, in fact, that those two chickens would come at the end of May.  Which meant we were still going to be getting our California White today.  With no buddies.  And two more chickens in 5 weeks.  Which is not ideal.  For multiple reasons.

My good friend Brenda, whom I met two months ago, but with whom I have bonded hard over these past months, assured me that she would try to find another chicken for me so my poor CW wouldn't be alone, and she would call me Friday to pick up one or more chicks.

OK.  It's ok.  I'm ok.  Everything is O. K.  I spent Thursday adjusting my brain to the changes, and hoping that it would be two chicks that I would be picking up today.

But no.  Nope.  No chicks for me.  Brenda called this morning to let me know that my California White never shipped.  There was some kind of problem at the hatchery, she didn't make it on to the truck, and they're not allowed to ship chicks that are more than a day old.

So where does that leave us?  Well, supposedly, my California White, Americana, and Speckled Sussex will be coming next week.

Wait.  What?  Yeah.  I'm getting three chickens, only one of which I actually ordered, a week later than they were supposed to arrive.  And then. Yes, and then, four weeks later, I'll get the blue Cochin and the Cream Legbar.

I just don't even know what's happening anymore.  We're going to make it work.  Whatever it turns out to actually be.  Because now I know, from experience, that I need to not count these chicks before they hatch.

I'll keep you posted.

*****

Here's the lineup, as it currently stands.  Yes, this, along with our current five, is too many chickens for our coop.  We'll figure it out.

Arriving May 1ish:
Charlotte, California White

Guacamole, Americana

Buttercup, Speckled Sussex


Arriving May 29ish:
Amelia Eggheart, Cream Legbar

Fluffer Nutter, Blue Cochin

Monday, April 20, 2020

Menu plan for the week of April 20

Menu planning is both easier and more difficult right now. 
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.
.
.
.
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Apparently, that's all I have to say about that.  You know, considering that I typed that sentence and then stared at it, doing nothing, for approximately 578 seconds. 

Ha.

Here's what I've got.

Supper:

  • Beef stroganoff, green beans, applesauce
  • Nachos with guacamole
  • Pancakes, bacon, eggs, fruit
  • Spaghetti, broccoli, garlic toast
  • Pizza, salad
  • Hot dogs or brats, buns, chips, raw veggies
  • Grilled steak, mashed potatoes with gravy, grilled veggie


Other:

Monday, April 13, 2020

Menu plan for the week of April 13

So.  It snowed.  That was fun.  It's probably because we both took the plastic off of the chicken coop and put the snow pants away.  Apparently, in 2019 we had a snow day on April 11, so this is not that out of the ordinary.  It's still a little jarring, though, to fall asleep in a hammock in the sun one day and be shoveling snow the next.

Because I want to avoid heading to the grocery store, I'm making some bread this week, including one variety I've never made from scratch.  I'm making rolls/hamburger buns, tortillas, garlic toast (from the French bread I made last week), and English muffins.  The English muffins are the bread I've never made before--I've planned to make English muffins, but just never actually gotten around to actually doing it.  Seems easy enough, so here we go.  I'm also making some friendship bread this week (hopefully).  My brother inspired me to get my starter going again--I've kept this starter since 2014.

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

Supper:

  • Wild rice casserole, green beans, applesauce
  • Spaghetti, green beans, garlic toast
  • Sausage and egg sandwiches, fruit
  • Tacos
  • Hamburgers, buns, jello, chips, broccoli
  • Pizza, salad
  • Grilled pork chops, mashed potatoes, broccoli


Other:

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Our Free Trial

In the interests of finishing my watch-all-Star-Wars-movies-in-timeline-order goal, and in acknowledgement that my primary method of consuming movies (the library) is closed right now, I signed up for a free one week trial of Disney+.  We've made great progress on the Star Wars goal, and now we only have three films left (I think?  I don't have my list here right now and it is too much work to look it up and filter through all those millions of results again).

We're not watching those final three right now because Hubby is watching along with us, and someone has to work around here, and also, the third of those three isn't available yet.  In the meantime, I asked the kiddos if there was anything available from Disney+ that they wanted to watch, and MC said he'd like to watch Marvel.

So we're watching Marvel in release order.  We're up to Iron Man 3.  Y'all, I admit that I am not paying very close attention, but these movies don't make a whole lot of sense.  There's a whole lot of people stabbing and shooting each other and blowing things up, and not a lot of story.  Why do people like these movies?

AKD tells me that the Marvel universe makes more sense if the movies are watched in timeline order.  He also said that you kind of have to watch them twice to actually be able to follow the story.

I am not watching these again.

I do like Tony Starks' house in this one.  Well, until it got destroyed about 10 minutes in.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Menu plan for the week of April 6

Hi friends.  How are you doing?  I haven't been sleeping well, which, along with all this togetherness, makes me more vulnerable to impatience, so I've been having to do a lot of taking of deep breaths lately. 

I don't know if y'all have noticed, but we're eating a lot of broccoli and green beans these days.  That's because I canned 3 dozen pints of green beans last summer, and I stocked up on broccoli before I started limiting my errands to once a week or less (although, honestly, I mostly limited my errands to once a week before this).  I thought it would take us years to use up those green beans--yet another hidden blessing.

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

Supper:

  • Shepherd's pie, applesauce, rolls
  • Nachos with guacamole
  • French toast (I made French bread using this recipe), sausage patties, fruit
  • Spaghetti, garlic toast (I'll use the leftover French bread, if there is any), broccoli
  • Pizza, salad
  • Hot dogs or brats, buns, jello, chips, green beans
  • Ham, mashed potatoes with gravy, broccoli


Other:

  • Muffins
  • Taco pasta salad (for Hubby & AKD's lunches)

Thursday, April 2, 2020

12/20 for 2020

It's April, friends, which means it's time for another 20 for 2020 update.  I'm still plugging along on my goals, although I kind of lost momentum when my kiddos and hubby all started working and schooling from home.  It's strange to go from pretty much being alone all day every day to suddenly having four other humans in your space all.the.time.  It threw me off my game a bit.

Anyway, here are the first twelve of my 20 for 2020 goals:
  1. Make sauerkraut
  2. Grow an amaryllis. Well, it didn't grow the way amaryllis usually does, but the amaryllis found a way.  There are shoots coming up on three sides of the bulb and from the center.
  3. Drink tea.
  4. Make cloth napkins for more seasons.
  5. Track something.
  6. Buy a statement necklace.
  7. Make a box to sit on our toilet tank.  
  8. Make a particular wooden sign for a friend.  I did it!  And I gave it to her, so now I can show you!

  9. Make mayonnaise.
  10. Make maple syrup.  Isn't it beautiful?  This year's syrup season seemed particularly ... not really difficult, but ... fraught with issues.  Right now, I don't see myself doing this again.  Maybe I'll remember this feeling the next time I get the urge to make syrup.
  11. Watch the Star Wars movies in timeline order.  I don't think I had ever seen any of them besides Episodes IV, V, and VI.  That is a travesty.  We've watched up through Rogue One, but the library isn't circulating materials right now, so I'm not sure when we'll be able to continue.  We might have to bite the bullet and sign up for Disney+.  The free trial, of course.
  12. Start seeds indoors.  I did it.  I planted carrots and radishes the other day.  And I promptly forgot which veggie variety was in which container.  No worries--I'll be able to tell once they sprout.  While my intent with this goal was to start seeds for later transplanting, I decided that planting seeds in containers indoors was close enough.  I have the dates in my calendar to plant seeds for transplanting, too.


Here are three goals I plan to work on in April:
  1. Finish or decide to abandon that darn puzzle.  We've had it, and it's been in progress, for 5 or 6 years.
  2. Make and install towel hooks/shelf in the bathroom.  I wonder how many more months I will intend to work on this goal.  It does seem a bit pointless to work on it right now because then I'll have to store it for months while I first brood chicks, and then paint the bathroom. 
  3. Make a reusable bag out of a chicken feed sack 


And here is the list of potential goals, which is finally decreasing in length:
  1. Crochet a cowl
  2. Crochet a poncho
  3. Make a reusable bag out of a chicken feed sack (this, and the other sewing-related potential goals, are complicated by the fact that my kiddo just declared my sewing machine officially not-worth-fixing.  I am definitely not up for handsewing this, or anything, in 2020).
  4. Make reusable food wrap
  5. Make a pretty apron (I would have to find a pattern I like first.  Also, a sewing machine)
  6. Make lip balm
  7. Make soap
  8. Make a console table/thing to keep the step stool from dinging our wall.
  9. Make a frame for the B
  10. String art
  11. Install pallet wall
  12. Install gallery wall (we had a gallery wall, but there was just something off about it.  I was never happy with it.  Too symmetrical, maybe.  Or the frames were too close together.  Or maybe too big or too small in scale for the wall.  So I'm afraid to try again, lest I not like it again.  I think a gallery would look better on the wall we're intending to palletisize (absolutely a word), but I don't know if I will want to cover up so much of that wall).
  13. Light an outdoor tree (there is a sledding hill between our house and the tree I want to light, so I'm not sure it'll work.  Either there will be an extension cord that we will have to avoid while sledding, or the lights will have to be solar or battery powered, which, of course, would drive up the cost of this project).
  14. Go to a movie by myself (not sure what's coming in 2020, but there's bound to be at least one movie that I want to see, but no one else in my family wants to see).
  15. Hang the W (MC made a beautiful wooden W sign that needs hanging).
  16. Repair moose pillows
  17. Log 50 activities on Strava
  18. Finish or decide to abandon that darn puzzle
  19. Can apple pie filling
  20. Remove a popcorn ceiling
  21. Wash outside windows
  22. Grow and can pickles
  23. Obtain a working sewing machine
  24. Make and install towel hooks/shelf in the bathroom.  I have the hooks.  I think I probably have the wood (I need to go through the stack of pallet wood to see if I have a combination of sizes that will add up to the size I want).  It needs to happen.  Now it's just a question of how long it'll take for me to actually take action.
  25. New floor.  It's time.  It's past time.
  26. Make a cast iron skillet handle cover.  Cast iron skillets are excellent for cooking because they heat so evenly.  Unfortunately, the even heat means the handle gets hot, too.  I'll be making a heat-resistant handle cover.
  27. Plant something new .  I ordered some seeds!  Imagine a fruit that looks like, and has the texture of, a granny smith apple, but tastes like honeydew.  That's what I'm growing!  And starting indoors.  I also grabbed a small watermelon and a beet variety.  So fun!
  28. Stencil a welcome mat.  Because our storm door opens outward and is very close to the porch surface, we won't be able to actually use the welcome mat at our own house, but I really want to try the technique.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Menu plan for the week of March 30

Have you been to a grocery store lately?  Yeah.  Me neither.  And yet, we continue to eat: a situation for which I am grateful. 

You know, I was a little concerned that we would, yet again, not finish up our homemade applesauce before applesauce season came around again, but with AKD home from school, and me not hitting the grocery store as often, we have a good chance of eating it up. This is what we call a COVID-19 hidden blessing.  Have you experienced any hidden blessings as a result of sheltering in place?

Here's what we're planning for this week.

Supper:



Other:

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Check in and menu post for the week of March 23

Hi friends.  How are you?

Now, how are you *really*?

Seriously, y'all.  What a strange time.  For weeks, I've been feeling like there's a tidal wave coming at us in slow motion, and we don't know when, exactly, it'll get here, or how bad, exactly, it'll be, or how long, exactly, it'll last, or even how to tell that it's arrived, but we just know that it's coming and it's threatening to overtake us.

We are well.  Mostly.  I mean, I think so.  Tomorrow, our state's governor is planning to sign a Safer at Home order, which is just a gentle and hopefully-strong-enough, but also not-panic-inducing, way to tell people to stay home, already.  Frankly, I think some people need a little more panic in their lives.  Not actual panic panic, but enough panic to realize that this is serious business.

Since all of us are home indefinitely, I wish I had a space where I could close the door--a place to which I could retreat and regroup--but with a very open floor plan, and 5 people for 4 bedrooms, there isn't a place for me.  Everyone's schedule has been disrupted, of course, but of the five of us, I think I, more than any of us, needs personal space, and time without people.  I've been doing some thinking on this issue, and here's what I've come up with for retreat spots:

  • The master bathroom.  I could put all of the decorative pillows that are usually on our bed in our double jetted tub to make a comfy reading nook.  Advantage: I'd have running water and a toilet right there.  Disadvantage: people might want to use the bathroom for its intended purpose.
  • The car.  It's actually pretty comfy in there.  The front seats recline and the back seats can be folded down or removed.  Disadvantage: it might be cold this time of year, and it'll be dark if I leave it parked in the garage.
  • A hammock outside.  It snowed last night, but this could work.  Disadvantage: people could very easily find me, especially if I return to the hammock regularly.  Also, it's a little cold right now, but I could bundle up and/or bring my sleeping bag with me.  Advantage: it would be comfy, and being outside would be good for my mental well-being.
  • The utility room.  It has a door, and people hardly ever go in there.  Advantage: there's food.  Disadvantage: the food is frozen and/or raw.  But there is a microwave in there.  Not plugged in, but that's easily remedied.  Also, there isn't any comfy furniture, and the lighting is depressing.
  • The chicken coop.  It's kind of small, and I run the risk of being pooped upon, but it does have a door that I can close.
I've been feeling it in my body--this tension, the not knowing.  The concern, not necessarily for myself, but for the others.  The others who are vulnerable and know it.  The others who feel invincible, and are putting themselves and others at risk.  The others who already felt isolated and now are even more so.  The others who have lost their jobs, and may lose their homes as well.  The others who may lose their small businesses.  The others who are working so hard to keep essential services going.  The others who are caring for the sick.

Friends, I know that we're going to get through this, and we will be better, stronger.  I know that my trust is in God, and the assurance that God wins.  I don't mean to be trite or overly simplistic, but y'all.  This is the only way I can move forward.  

Anyway, what are you eating?  Here's what's on our menu this week:
  • Pasties with gravy, broccoli, corn, applesauce
  • Nachos with taco toppings and guacamole
  • Sausage and egg sandwiches, fresh fruit, raw veggies
  • Corned beef and Brussels sprout saute, rolls, applesauce
  • Pizza, salad
  • Hot dogs and brats, buns, chips, raw veggies
  • Grilled steak, roasted asparagus, oven fries

Monday, March 16, 2020

Menu plan for the week of March 16

I'm going grocery shopping today.  I have a list, but I'm not sure what I'll find.  Last week, when I grocery shopped on Monday, everything seemed normal.  It was a little busier than I'm used to, but I attributed that to it being later in the day than I normally shop.  In the week since then, I've heard stories and seen pictures of empty grocery store shelves.  Tomorrow, I'll see for myself.

Regardless of what I find or don't find tomorrow, I am certain of this: God will provide. God always provides.  Now, it's true, sometimes God provides in ways that we weren't expecting or ways that we wouldn't have chosen.  Sometimes it doesn't feel like God is providing.  Sometimes God doesn't provide what we want or what we think we need, but what we actually need. 

So we'll see, my friends. Today, and tomorrow, and every day, we will trust.  And we will see God's loving care for my family.

8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9

Have you ever heard that Yiddish proverb?  Man plans and God laughs?  Here's the menu plan for the week.

Supper:

  • Tacos with taco toppings
  • Fend for yourself
  • Pancakes, eggs, bacon
  • Spaghetti, garlic toast, green beans
  • Pizza
  • Hamburgers, buns, chips, raw veggies/salad
  • Pork chops, mashed potatoes, gravy, grilled green veggie

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Chicken update and new babies on the way

Saturday was the Littles' 2nd hatch day.  As often happens with younger children, their special day passed without fanfare.  It was on the calendar, but did I look at the calendar?  No.  Not until it was too late.  Whoops.  Anyway, it's been a while, so I thought it was time for a chicken update.

We've entered swamp season in the coop.  Melting snow has made it quite wet in there.  This year, we don't have standing water, at least, and the snow is almost gone, so we're probably not going to.  Still, it's wet in the run, and because it's wet, it's also a bit stinky.  It's an awkward time of year for footwear.  It's definitely muddy enough that I want to have my chicken boots on, but there's still enough ice around the coop and on my path to the coop, that I want to wear boots with a little more traction.  Usually the chicken boots win.


I've been sending the girls out to play just about every afternoon.  At first, they were reluctant to walk the 20 feet or so on snow to get to the cleared ground, so I set up a couple of logs as a bridge for them to walk along so they wouldn't have to walk in snow. 

A couple of weeks ago, enough snow had melted that they were able to walk along the northern perimeter of the yard to get over the the garden and climbing wall area, but then they forgot how to get back to the coop. 

Koko is the most sensible, so she just walked across the snow (I'm really bad at estimating distances, but 20 yards or so?  Too far to fly), Toasty followed her, but got stuck in some deeper snow under the trampoline frame.  I led Rocky and Esther to safety around the perimeter, but Indigo decided to go it on her own and flew in three great bounds over to the fire pit, about halfway across the yard, and had to be rescued.  Indigo is not fond of being picked up or carried, but we reached a tentative truce that day--she seemed to know that she wasn't going to be able to get out of that situation by herself.


All five of the girls have resumed laying after their molts and winter, although they are not yet laying consistently.  Still, it's been thrilling to find eggs in the nest box again.  They are getting "older," so I expect production to decrease--peak egg production is generally between 1-2 years of age.

In other chicken news, Bubby and I ordered new chicks the other day.  They're supposed to arrive around April 23--it kind of blows my mind that their eggs haven't even been laid yet.  I'm a bit reluctant to receive the birds that late in the season, because I want them to be old enough to begin laying before the cold weather sets in, but that's the date that was available.  It's about 3 weeks earlier in the year than I got the Bigs, so maybe it'll be ok.

Bubby decided that he wanted a Cochin, which is a larger breed that's super fluffy and has feathered feet and five toes (most chickens have 4).  He plans to name her Fluffer-Nutter (anyone else remember fluffer-nutters?).  He chose the gold laced coloration.

We also ordered a California White, which is a cross between the white leghorn (leghorns are the chickens commercial egg producers use--if you're eating a white egg that you bought at a store, it's from a leghorn) and the California gray.  It's heavier, and therefore less flighty, than white leghorns, but is still a prolific egg layer.  I wanted white eggs in my egg basket, and I chose this breed because it's friendly and cold hardy, but still a good layer.

And our third new chick will be a Cream Legbar.  I've wanted one of these ever since I heard of their existence, because they are one of the few breeds that lays blue, and only blue, eggs (there are a few breeds that might lay blue eggs, but they could also lay other colors).  Cream Legbars are interesting looking, too--I love the little poof on their heads, too.

We're looking for names for the California White and the Cream Legbar, so drop your suggestions below.  Bonus points if they don't start with E, F, I, K, R or T and/or are a really good pun.

Next time we order chickens (yes, we're already planning our next purchase.  We would have gotten one more this time, but I think our coop is maxed out for space with 8), I would like to get a Welsummer.  They lay dark brown eggs with speckles.  Speckles!

I think that's all I have to say about chickens right now.
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