Monday, January 17, 2022

Menu plan for the week of January 17

 Know what I find satisfying*?  Scraping ice or packed snow off the driveway when it comes off in big chunks or sheets.  Know what I find less-than-satisfying?  When the packed snow or ice does not scrape off the driveway in big chunks or sheets.

I know there's a lesson in there somewhere.

But while we're waiting for that lesson to present itself, I'll tell you what's on our menu this week.

  • FFS/Restaurant take-out mystery shop (if you sign up, tell 'em I sent you--I think I might get a referral bonus)
  • Tacos
  • FFS
  • Leftover pork fried rice (I'm not a big fan of pork chops, so we always seem to end up with about 3/4 of a chop leftover, which I froze the last two times--finally took the time to find a recipe to use them up.  Bonus--we also have some leftover rice and leftover veggies that will work well for this dish), steamed broccoli (Hubby got a new seasoning blend in his Christmas stocking and it makes steamed broccoli taste over the top amazing)
  • Pizza, salad
  • Hot dogs or brats, buns, raw veggies, chips
  • Grilled chicken, salad, a vegetable of some sort


* This is just one of the many things I find satisfying.

Monday, January 10, 2022

Menu plan for the week of January 10

 I got a new kitchen appliance, and I've been making a dessert in the new appliance fairly often.  The actual name of the dessert is "Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie," but we call it "Death Cookie."  See, the first time I made "Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie," the top was way too brown for my liking.  So the next time, I reduced the baking time, thinking that would make the top not as brown.

I was right: the cookie top was not as brown, but the cookie was also not fully baked in the center.  Hence the name "Death Cookie." Because everyone knows eating raw eggs can kill you.  And I know that it's actually eating raw flour that can kill you.  Oh, and sugar.  Sugar can kill you, but that one's much slower than the raw eggs or raw flour.

I keep making the Death Cookie, hoping to find the perfect balance between the brownness of the top and the doneness of the cookie, but it just keeps trying to kill us by not being done in the middle.  

I'm not entirely sure how concerned I should be that my people are willing to put their lives on the line again and again to help me find that perfect balance.

Anyway, the latest Death Cookie, baked yesterday, was not cooked through, so I'm sure I'll be making another this week.  And I'll be making other things, too.  But not very many, because, yeah.  The fend for yourself game is strong with us.  Here's what's on the menu this week:



Monday, January 3, 2022

Menu plan for the week of January 3

 Hi friends.

For those of you who were worried about me kind of hating working my puzzle, I'm pleased to inform you that I have moved on to the obsessed-with-working-the-puzzle stage, so we're all good.  Pretty soon I'll get to the no-way-are-there-enough-pieces-to-finish-this-puzzle and/or the there-are-way-too-many-pieces-to- fit-them-all-in-this-puzzle stage.  Whew!  That's a relief.  I don't recall ever going through an I-hate-this stage with any previous puzzles, so it's good to know it was temporary and my fantasy self can go on believing that she enjoys working puzzles.

I'm wondering, though, if next years' Christmas break puzzle ought to have fewer pieces.  Fantasy self says no. 

Here's how it was looking Sunday afternoon:

Something I also kind of hate* is meal planning.  Today, I'm sharing this week's plan.  Don't get used to it, though, because there are still an awful lot of fend for yourselves coming up, and publishing a plan that is half fend for yourself is hardly helpful.

Here's what's on the menu this week:
  • Maybe banana bread?  Made in my new kitchen appliance?
  • Cookies?  Ugh.  But they're so much work.  And I usually don't eat them.  So why?

* hate, but will never stop doing because I don't know how people can not.  I mean, what do you do at the grocery store if you don't know what you'll be eating that week?  Pick up random items that look good?  And then what do you do when it's 5 p.m. and people start asking what's for dinner?

Sunday, January 2, 2022

21 for 2021 goal wrap-up, part 3

 As promised, I'm back today with part 3 of my 2021 goal wrap-up.  

Here we go.  The format will be original goal, followed by my commentary and whether or not, and how, the goal was accomplished and/or what I thought and/or think about it.

  • Make marshmallows from scratch.
I didn't!  I think this is the one I'm the most disappointed about.  The problem with making marshmallows is, it needs to be not humid, but my family doesn't really consume marshmallows when it's not humid.  Because when it's not humid, it's winter.  So I thought about making marshmallows lots of times, but I wanted to give myself the best chance of success (by not making them when it was humid), and I also wanted to give myself the best chance of people actually eating them (by making them when it was bonfire season and when we had guests to help eat them).  Someday, I will make marshmallows.
  • Make a list of 21 go-to meals that (mostly) everyone in my family likes.
I started.  I think I stalled out at around 15.  Which is not nothing.  But is also not 21.
  • Oil wooden spoons, bowls, and cutting board regularly.  Not sure what "regularly" means.  Once a month?  Each quarter?  Once a year?  It's too nonspecific to be an actual goal, but it's my goal, so deal with it.
Well, I oiled them.  More than once.  So, yes?  I accomplished this one?  The spoons need to be oiled again.  Please pause.

OK.  I'm back.
  • Attempt to donate blood 6 times.  I'm saying attempt because I have a history of being rejected, and I want to make sure all of my goals are actually achievable.  If I successfully donate 6 times this year I'll earn my gallon pin, which should actually be a 2 gallon pin, but I took a long enough break in between that they stopped keeping track of my past donations.
I attempted.  I succeeded 2 1/2 times.  I want to save lives, put a I kinda hate rejection.  And I definitely hate the blood drive workers not letting me leave because I fainted/feel faint, when all I need to do to not feel faint anymore is to  (I eventually snuck out the back door while no one was looking).
  • Volunteer not-at-home at least 12 times this year (I was going to say once a month, but since volunteering is a little more difficult for me in the summer, and I've already volunteered more than once this year, I went with 12 times).
Yeah.  I stopped keeping track, but I'm pretty sure I made it, volunteering for food prep, food packing, food distribution, and food ordering for a food bank.  Yeah.  I'm a little food-obsessed, even in my volunteering.  Oh, and ornament making, but we're not going to talk about that one.  We're just going to pretend it never happened.  And yes, I totally skipped out on most of the clean-up, because I had already been there 1.5 hours longer than I committed to.
  • Grow paperwhites.  These are the little white flowers that are available around Christmas time when the amaryllis bulbs are in stores.
Yup, I did it.  And I learned something.  Paperwhites smell like stale pee.  They're kind of gross.  So while I was thinking that I would save the bulbs and attempt to force them next year, I am not.
  • Create a new goal.
Should I?  Should I create a new goal?  The way I'm feeling about goals right now?  No.  No, I should not.

And that's a wrap.

How about you?  Did you accomplish your 2021 goals?  Do you have any goals for 2022?  Let me know!

Saturday, January 1, 2022

21 for 2021 goal wrap-up, part 2

Hey.  Happy 2022!  Let's be great this year.

As promised, I'm back today with part 2 of my 2021 goal wrap-up.  

So here we go.  The format will be original goal, followed by my commentary and whether or not, and how, the goal was accomplished and/or what I thought and/or think about it.

  • Complete 12 new (to me) hikes.  Stretch goal: 21 new to me hikes
I'm not sure how many new (to me) hikes I completed.  It was more than 4 and less than 12.  When I set this goal, I was counting on my middle and youngest kiddos hiking with me on Wednesdays when their school let out 3 hours early every week.  And they did.  But then it got super cold (by super cold, I generally mean high temperatures below 0°F), and I didn't have the heart to force them to hike with me when we had cold temps and even colder wind chills.  And then it got warmer, but MC started an after school job, and Bubby started up football training on Wednesdays.  I know, excuses.  I definitely could have accomplished this goal even with those circumstances.  But I didn't.
  • Complete streaks of 20 and 21 days.  The 20 day streak will lend itself nicely to a Monday through Friday goal, and the 21 day streak will work for a 7 day a week goal.
I flossed my teeth every day for 21 days.  I did not accomplish the 20 day streak--I would have if I'd treated it the same way as the 21 day streak, rather than weekdays for 4 weeks.  Oh well.
  • Send birthday cards to 12 people I don't usually send birthday cards to.
Nope.  Sorry, people I don't usually send birthday cards to.
  • Walk at least 202.1 miles (hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, and running count.  As if I'm going to run any miles.  Ha).
Yup, I did that.  I think I passed the mark in July.  I mean, I probably passed the mark way before then, but that was when I passed the mark with walks recorded in my activity app.
  • Plant a pine cone.
Nope.  But I did, from time to time, look for likely pine-cone-planting candidates as I walked from the house to the chicken coop and back.
  • Go to at least one in-person flower show at the conservatory.  Stretch goal: go to all of the shows either in person or virtually.
Nope.  I made an attempt to get our Christmas visitors to go with me, thus accomplishing this goal, but it didn't happen.
  • Obtain a non-plastic countertop (which I will keep under the sink, because I hate countertop clutter) compost bin.  My current kitchen compost is in a repurposed plastic container, and it stinks.  The plastic picks up odors from the compost, and will not release them.  That's why I need something not-plastic.
I wanted something pretty specific, and I haven't been able to find what I wanted for a price I was willing to pay.  I wanted it to be ceramic or stoneware, with a carrying handle, a seal around the lid, a capacity of at least 3 quarts, and a price tag under $30.  I also wanted it to look pretty.  Or at least not garish.  No dice.  I did, however, find something that met all but one of the criteria, and I ordered it yesterday.  It was totally not a last ditch effort to accomplish at least one more 2021 goal.

All right.  We're almost done with these goal wrap-up posts.  Back tomorrow with the final installment.

Friday, December 31, 2021

21 for 2021 goal wrap-up, part 1

 I promised a 21 for 2021 goal wrap-up post, and I'm generally a person who keeps promises, so here I am with a wrap-up.  I've decided to wrap in three parts because I just don't think I'll be able to hold your attention for a whole 21 goals.  I mean, that would be a lot of words.  And 21 just lends itself so nicely to three parts of seven.  

So here we go.  The format will be original goal, followed by my commentary and whether or not, and how, the goal was accomplished and/or what I thought and/or think about it.

  • Set up a spreadsheet to keep track of mystery shopping assignments, payment, and reimbursement.  There's one particular mystery shopping company that I really need to keep a close eye on payments for, and the system I've used in the past--hatch marks on an envelope--revealed itself to be insufficient last year, so I really need a new system. 
I did this!  I was so proud of myself for figuring out how to format the spreadsheet so that it would automatically keep track of assignments and payment amounts in total and by mystery shopping company.  I liked this system so much that I've copied it to use again next year.
  • Set up an electronic list of future projects--these can include Cricut projects, building projects, or really any ideas for future projects that I may want to accomplish at some point in the future, but that have no urgency or due date.  I do have a running list in my to-do notebook, but an electronic list would be easier to organize, which would make it easier to keep track of what's on the list.
I did set up an electronic list of future projects, but I simply added all of the projects that were on my written list and then never looked at it again.  As much as I would like to be, I am not a person who does well with electronic lists.
  • Complete 10 of the projects from my electronic project list (it's acceptable to add something to the list just to cross it off).
So, I just looked at the list (see above goal), and I didn't do anything--not one thing--from the electronic list.  Which is an accomplishment in itself, yes?
  • Declutter and reorganize Pinterest boards.  At the beginning of the year, I had over 1600 pins in 90 boards.  It's too much.  I'm hoping to get down to 21 reorganized boards.  Twenty-one, because it's 2021, not because I've done careful consideration and planning and decided that 21 is the number of boards I need.  
I consider this goal complete: I did reduce my number of pins and pinboards.  Unfortunately, this kind of thing actually needs to happen regularly, so even though I completed the goal, I have not (and will never) complete the task.
  • Declutter electronic mystery shopping receipts, photos, and screen shots.  Again.  
Yup.  Did it.  Need to do it again, and annually.
  • Unsubscribe from 21 email lists in the first 21 days of 2021
Absolutely.  In fact, I unsubscribed from 40 email lists before I stopped keeping count.  This is, once again, is a never-ending task.  *Sigh*
I accomplished this one, too!  In fact, I achieved Megastar (which is better than Superstar) on all of the extreme versions except one.  It's been a while since I've danced--I need to get back to it.

So that's the first seven.  Not bad, eh?  Well, especially not-bad for a person who decided almost immediately upon stating her goals that she didn't actually want to do any of those things.

I'll be back tomorrow with the next seven.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

My fantasy self does puzzles (and likes them)

You know how there are people in the world who set out a puzzle around Christmas time and the whole family will work on it from time to time as they pass by?  And the puzzle brings different groups together for brief moments of time and they chat while they work and they find pieces for each other?  And then the next time it's a slightly different group and they still talk and work and laugh and in general have a good time and enjoy each other's company?  And how those people get those puzzles done in a reasonable amount of time?  Like a week?  Or two days*?

I want to be one of those people, one of those families.  I have wanted that for a while now, at least 10 years, and this year, this Christmas, I actually obtained a puzzle and set it out for the family to work on.  

But my family is not being cooperative**.  And my puzzle fantasy is dead.  Dead, I tell you.

Here's how my puzzle looked on December 25.

And here's how it looks today, five days later.

OK, yeah, there has been some progress.  But y'all.  There is no family-members-stopping-to-put-in-a- puzzle-piece-as-they-pass by.  There is no forming-and-reforming-temporary-groups-to-work-on-the- puzzle-together.  There is definitely no getting-it-put-together-in-a-week.  It's pretty much just me.  Kind of hating it, except when I find a piece--then I temporarily love it and immediately go back to kind of hating it, until I find the next piece.

I'm not sure the pleasure of actually finding a match makes the angst of looking worthwhile***.

But will I stop?  Oh no.  Definitely not.  I will not stop working on the puzzle.  I will not stop looking for new puzzles to put together.  I will not stop thinking about which puzzle we should do as a family next Christmas.  I will not stop pretending that working puzzles is something I enjoy.  I will not let my fantasy puzzle self go.  

It's disappointing and annoying to be faced with such strong proof that something I believed to be true about myself is not.  Someday (probably within a year, but I'm not making any promises) I will finish this puzzle, and then I can go blissfully back to believing that I enjoy working puzzles.  

Until then, tell me: what does your fantasy self enjoy?

*OK, you're right--two days is definitely not reasonable for a 1000 piece puzzle.
**I should have been more strategic in choosing the family to work on my real life puzzle with my fantasy self.  Like I should have chosen the family that actually likes and is good at puzzles.  But they weren't available.
**This seems like a statement that could apply to a lot of situations, but it's that weird week between Christmas and New Year's Day, and I have no brain power to even keep track of what day it is, so I'm not gonna go any deeper on that.  But hey, feel free if you're in the mood.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Long time no read

 Hey friends.  It's been a while.  I feel compelled to tell y'all that the reason I haven't even been doing menu plans is because we've been having an awful lot of fend-for-yourself these past couple of months.  It just seems not worthwhile to post a menu that is half or more fend-for-yourself.

Anyway, I've been thinking the past couple of days that I should revisit my 2021 goals for y'all, because while I almost immediately decided that I didn't want to do them, I did accomplish some.  And I'm curious to see how many.  

But that's not what I'm doing right now.  Right now I'm telling you about Esther.  Our Easter egger chicken, Esther.  My OG* lap chicken.

For the past couple of weeks, I've been going out to the coop after dark and moving Esther from the roost in the run to the doorway of the hen house.  In other words, she's been sleeping in the run, by herself, instead of with her sisters in the cozy hen house.

Most of the time after I move her, she hops up to the roost on her own, but at least once (it was dark, so she couldn't see very well), I lifted her up there.

A couple of times, I've removed Charlotte from the hen house roost, and put her in the run to allow Esther to hop up to the roost unaccosted.  

Because Charlotte is a bully.  And Esther is gentle, and would rather sleep all by herself than stand up to Charlotte.  Who is, by the way, three years younger.  Respect your elders, Char.  Honestly.

I hope that someday I'll go out and not see Esther on the roost in the run, but for now, I go outside every day around sunset, and Esther and I do our little ritual.  Me lifting her into the hen house, and her flapping her wings in protest.  

Be back soon with that 2021 goal wrap-up.  In the meantime, any guesses as to how many I accomplished?

* OG stands for Original Gangster?  Huh.  Based on current usage, I was thinking Original Great, even though that sounds weird.  Esther is definitely not a gangster, although maybe Charlotte is...

Monday, October 4, 2021

Menu plan for the week of October 4

 Is anyone else kind of excited that it's October?  It has been a long, hot, dry summer, and I am so ready for cooler weather.

Guess what I did the other day!  I made cheese.  Ricotta cheese, to be specific.  It was so easy, y'all.  It took less time than it would have taken for me to drive to the store, buy the ricotta, and drive home, and used ingredients that I always have in the house.  As an extra bonus, I was able to make just the amount I need for my recipe, rather than buying whatever size is available at the store, and then storing a half used carton in the fridge for months.  Will I ever buy ricotta cheese again?  Maybe.  But it's nice having this recipe in my back pocket.

Cottage cheese seems almost as easy, and uses the same ingredients.  So maybe I'll try that next.  

I needed ricotta cheese for one of this week's meals: Pepperoni pizza lasagna rolls.  This is the closest my family has come to lasagna in years because some of these people don't like cheese, but it's a good one for us, because each roll can be customized.  I'm using zucchini strips for mine.

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

  • Pepperoni pizza lasagna rolls
  • Fend for yourself
  • Mini corndogs, carrots, fresh fruit
  • Fend for yourself
  • Pizza, salad
  • Hot dogs or brats, buns, chips, carrots, fresh pineapple
  • Peppered steak with portabello mushroom sauce, grilled green veggie, mashed potatoes


Monday, September 20, 2021

Menu plan for the week of September 20

 I kinda feel like our meal plan must have fallen apart last week, because we've got a couple of repeats this week.  But I don't remember the meal plan falling apart, which is weird.  I probably should remember that.

I also feel like there was something I wanted to tell y'all this week about last week, but I don't remember what it is.  Which is not at all weird, because I often don't remember things I want to tell people.  Or why I walked in to a room.  Or what I was doing 3 seconds earlier.

Also not weird: my family will want to eat food this week.  Here's what's on the menu:



Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Last(?) Garden Update for the season

 Hi friends.  It's time for the monthly-ish garden update.

The other day, I cleared out both the pea bed and the melon bed.  When I harvested melons, I left one watermelon hanging on the fence to see what would happen.  See, the thing is, when you're relying on the ground spot to help you decide when your watermelons are ripe, and the watermelons are not actually on the ground, there is no ground spot.  So it's not possible to judge whether the ground spot is creamy yellow.

So I left the biggest one hanging, and it had a hammock to support it, but I guess the hammock was not supportive enough, because a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that the final watermelon had disconnected from the vine.

With the final melon harvested, I was able to remove the vines from the garden bed, and while I was at it, I cleaned out the weeds that had grown in the pea bed after the peas capitulated to the weather.

I harvested some compost, which, frankly, surprised me--that there was enough finished compost to harvest--and added it to the top of the empty beds.  I covered one of the beds with cardboard to keep the weeds down while the bed isn't being used.  I neglected to cover the other bed because I didn't have enough cardboard, but I suspect that, given enough time, I will accumulate enough cardboard to cover that one, too.

That leaves the flower/tomato jungle bed, and it is still full and alive and blooming.  It is such a joy to look out at that colorful bounty.

The sunflowers are about 10 feet tall, with multiple heads.  I am hoping to be able to harvest these as a treat for the chickens, but I've seen both squirrels and birds snacking on these, so I'm not sure there will be anything left for the girls.

Oh, these marigolds are glorious.  The plants are just full of blooms, which I continue to deadhead to encourage more blooms.

The zinnias are also glorious.  I've been cutting them throughout the summer, so that I've had a bouquet on the table for the last three months or so.  I marked this particular bloom to save its seeds.  I am so glad that I made the decision to grow flowers, rather than food, in 1/3 of my garden space this season.

And the tomato jungle, aka the one cherry tomato plant, continues to produce.  The harvest has slowed from its peak, but there are still plenty of ripening fruits as well as new blooms.  I would top this plant (cut off the growing top to encourage the plant to put its energy into ripening the fruits it already has, versus putting its energy into setting new fruit), if I could figure out where the top is.  When I say it's a jungle, I'm not kidding.

As usual at this time of year, I'm already dreaming of next year's garden.  This garden thing--it's a joy.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Menu plan for the week of September 13, aka the third week of Shelftember

I finally made the one pot kielbasa pasta last week, and the people liked it.  I think.  They at least ate it.  Without complaining.  I left out the cheese because of my cheese-hating kiddo, but melted some on top of mine.  So good!  Definitely worth a try if your people like kielbasa and noodles.

We're getting a little low on random foods around here, so this might be the last week of Shelftember for us, but that's ok.  For me, the point is to make a concerted effort to use up food that I wouldn't otherwise use, and I've definitely succeeded in that.  I might even have a $25 minimal grocery list this week.  We'll see.  

Have you noticed grocery prices increasing lately?  I haven't noticed individual prices being higher (except milk and eggs, which tend to fluctuate a lot anyway), but somehow my total grocery bill keeps creeping up.  It's kinda weird.

Anyway, I've got a full week of mostly shelf cooking coming up this week.  Should be interesting and delicious.  Here's what's on the menu this week:


  • Nesquik brownies--why do we have Nesquik?  That's not important.  What is important is that I've almost thrown it away at least three times in the past couple of years.  If I use it for brownies, it will be gone and I won't have to be tempted to throw it away anymore.
  • Copycat nutragrain bars (using some strawberry jam from my freezer)--whoops.  Didn't get to these last week.
  • Mexican quinoa with grilled chicken?  Depends on what the leftover situation is looking like for Hubby's lunches.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Menu plan for the week of September 6

 Last week, a friend asked, about using up random food in the kitchen, what do you do when you find a recipe to use something up, but it calls for another ingredient that you don't already have?

In retrospect, she was probably asking what I, personally, do, but I answered as if she had been asking about the general, plural, you.  What does one do in that situation?  I told her I don't think folks that practice shelf cooking on a regular basis actually use recipes.  They just throw things together and somehow it tastes good.  Upon reflection, I don't think that's actually what's happening most of the time.  Most of the time, I think, shelf cookers do have a recipe in mind, but if they don't have an ingredient the recipe calls for, they make it work.

Me, personally?  Sometimes I will buy the thing that will help me use up the other thing, which  sometimes leads to me needing to find a way to use up the other thing.  Sometimes I will find a substitute for the other thing or leave it out.  Sometimes I will find another recipe.  And sometimes I just throw things together and hope for the best.

I didn't buy a single thing last week to make these enchiladas/wet burritos/not sure what to call them.  Everything came from my fridge, freezer, or pantry.

I got inspired, so I ramped up my Shelftember/using-up-random-odds-and-ends meals this week.  The only thing I'm going to buy for these meals is ... carrots.  Yup, we somehow have everything else.  Or at least enough of everything else to make it work.  I think this is gonna be fun.  

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

  • Hamburgers (or hot dogs), buns, chips/pretzels, grilled broccoli, jello
  • Beef barley casserole, green beans
  • One pot kielbasa pasta (third time was not the charm, but this is getting made this week), green beans
  • Rotel sausage dip (yeah.  This one is going to be interesting.  But seriously, what's not to like about sausage and cream cheese and some other random stuff?  Even if it's not in the "right" proportions?), pork rinds, tortilla chips
  • Pizza casserole, corn
  • Hot dogs or brats, buns, tator tots, carrots
  • Grilled chicken and salad


Monday, August 30, 2021

Menu plan for the week of August 30

 Hello, friends.

September begins this week.  Do you know what that means?  Yup!  It's Shelftember time again.  I'm not feeling it this year, but Jordan is talking about it, so I guess I might feel inspired at some point next month.  Maybe I'll at least make a list of things to use up and see what happens.

But, hey.  If you're going to Shelftember, let me know.  I'd love to hear about it.

  • Hamburgers, buns, chips, grilled broccoli, jello
  • Enchiladas, salad
  • One pot kielbasa pasta (third time's the charm?), green beans
  • Rice burgler, applesauce, rolls
  • Pizza, salad
  • Chicken nuggets, carrots
  • Grilled chicken, salad

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