Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The To-Do Notebook

My hands are still tingling from having wrestled around the snowblower for the past hour or so.  The weather people predicted we'd get 3-5 inches, which usually means we'll get 1-2.  But this time, we got the full 5, maybe even 6.  It was a lot.  I came to the realization, while snowblowing our almost 1/10 mile long driveway, that I would not have the patience to snowblow a cute, short driveway, like the one we had in Minnesota, or the ones our parents and siblings have now.  All that stopping and turning and starting again... Of course, if we had a cute little driveway like that, we probably wouldn't own a snowblower.  As it is, snowblowing our driveway is almost meditative.  I do enjoy it.  Although that tingling is making it a little difficult to type right now.

The kids had a late start this morning (I'm writing on Friday), due to "treacherous road conditions."  Sounds so...treacherous.  About an hour before he had to leave, AKD asked me if I thought we should attempt to clear the driveway before he went to school.  I told him to look outside and tell me if he thought we needed to.  He thought not, partly because he drives a 4 wheel drive vehicle, but mostly because he's a pro at procrastination.  So I put it on my to-do list.  And then I crossed it off my to-do list.

One of the completed items on my 18 for 2018 list was to obtain and begin using a to-do notebook.  I picked one up at the dollar store.  Isn't it pretty?  Pretty is an essential quality for a to-do notebook, don't you think?
The colors are much more vibrant in person
The idea is to just keep a running to-do list, in one central place, instead of on little pieces of paper all over.  I think I must have originally, subliminally, even, gotten the idea from my mom.  She writes things down in notebooks.  In my to-do notebook, I just write down things that I need to do, as they occur to me, and then cross them off when they're done.  When the two facing pages that I'm currently working on are mostly crossed off, I'll transfer any remaining items to the new page and go from there.

Here's what I like about my to-do notebook.
  • The notebook is a lot more difficult to lose than random pieces of paper.
  • I can write things down when I think of them, even if I know I won't get to them today, beause it's a running list.  I never felt like I could write future to-do items on my random-pieces-of-paper list, because there wasn't room.  Future items were written on their own random-pieces-of-paper, which were then subsequently misplaced, and found weeks, months, or even years later.
  • I always have something to do during those random pockets of time where I've finished a task, and I'm not quite sure what to do next.  I just check my list to see what I can get done in the amount of time I have available.
  • It's handy for writing things down when they occur to me in the wee hours of the morning, which, in turn, (usually) helps me get back to sleep faster.  That would never happen with a random-piece-of-paper list, because the random-piece-of-paper list doesn't exist until the civilized, waking up hours of the morning.
  • At 5x7 inches in size, my to-do notebook fits nicely in my purse, so I can carry it with me.
  • It's pretty.

You may be wondering why I don't keep my to-do list electronically.  The truth is, I kind of do.  If there is something that I need to do on a specific date, like add money to the kids' meal accounts, or pay a bill, or check on the status of my chick order, I will set a reminder in my google calendar.  Google will then remind me to do the thing on the correct date, via a notification on my phone that doesn't go away until I complete the task (thank you, google).

But for this list, the do-these-things-sometime list, I prefer paper, first, because it's easier for me to see the list and interpret the entries at a glance on paper, and second, because it's easier and faster to write something down than to wake up my phone, unlock my phone, click on the little google microphone (my phone is not always listening to me), tell google to put something on my list, and then check to make sure that google got it right.  Retrieval is a lot faster on paper, too.  I guess there's a third reason, which is that I don't always have my phone on me (I know.  Unheard-of these days, but true), and since the notebook is brightly colored, and bigger than my phone, it's easier to find.

Anyway, I wanted to share, because I've found my to-do notebook to be so helpful in the month or so that I've been using it.  I don't use it every day, but I do feel like my days go so much more smoothly when I do.  

What about you?  Do you think this low-tech solution would help you feel more on top of things?  Let me know if you try it!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Menu plan for the week of February 26

I made a discovery last week.  Commercially canned beans are different from my home canned beans.  Yeah, I know.  Seems like not an earth shattering discovery.  But seriously?  Aren't black beans black beans?

Last week I made a 1.5 batch of taco bean soup, because now I have a pot that can hold more than one batch.  And for the black beans, I used a quart of my home canned beans, plus a 15 oz can of commercially canned beans.  My sis keeps mailing commercially canned black beans to me.  Because she loves me.  And also, because I use them more frequently than she does.

Anyway, there were the two different varieties of black beans in the soup, and I noticed that both the taste (which makes sense, since my beans don't have added salt), and the texture (which makes less sense, because presumably the safety standards and cooking times are similar) were different.  They even look different.  Theirs are, well, black, and mine are a lovely deep purpley-black color.  There I was, eating my soup, and something was just a little ... off ... about it.  So I isolated one of each and tasted and, well, there I was.  Knowing that they're different.  Which I already knew.  I just wasn't expecting to notice.

There isn't any taco bean soup on the menu this week, because 1.5 batches is enough to last more than a week, but there are other yummy things, and even one that uses black beans (for which I will use the last of the commercially canned black beans that my sis sent to me).  Here's what's on the menu this week:


  • Meat sauce with angel hair pasta, green beans, garlic toast, pears
  • Tacos with taco toppings and guacamole
  • Chunky slow cooker beef stew, rolls
  • Mexican quinoa with grilled chicken, tortilla chips
  • Hamburgers, buns, oven fries, carrots, jello
  • Grilled pork chops, mashed potatoes, grilled green veggie
  • Grilled chicken, salad, grilled green veggie, "baked" potatoes
  • Beef and potato casserole (I guess this is the recipe I need to share next, because I can't find it online), green beans, applesauce


Friday, February 23, 2018

18 for 2018 Update

Hey y'all.  I told you I'd keep you informed of my progress on goals, so here ya go.

In the past month, I've completed a few more of my 18 for 2018 items.  
  • (10) I deleted over 500 mystery shop screen shots and receipts that I have saved over the past few years.  This is definitely something that I should do more often, but it always seems like such an arduous task.   It took me about 15 minutes, including finding and emptying the "recycling bin" after deleting them.  Yeah.  Not so arduous.
  • (11) I bought a desk task light.  My poor eyes are getting old, and the light available in our bedroom (where the desk is) was woefully inadequate.  I originally wanted a floor lamp with a gooseneck task light, but the base took up too much room, and the light itself was kind of flimsy.  I ended up going with this one, and I'm happy with it.
    It kind of looks like the Pixar lamp
  • (6) I sent friend mail to two more friends, bringing the total to 4 down, 4 to go.
  • (5) I went on a date with AKD to The Sound of Music at his high school, and then out to eat.
  • (8) I've been working on purging paper.  It is so painful!  I don't know why we saved all that paper, but that scares me, because what if there was a good reason?  Hmph.  I'm going with the theory that almost all of it is available online.  I'll keep working on it.
  • (14) I investigated community education classes, and narrowed my selection down to two, but then I wondered if I should take the beginning crochet class because that would help with goal number 16, and then I decided to check out a local arts store to see what classes they have available, because I kind of want to fuse glass, so then I ended up not deciding.  And then I wrote a run-on sentence, because run-on sentences are fun.
  • I planted garlic.  And then I realized that planting garlic did not make it on to the top 18 list.  Oops.  Potatoes didn't make it either.  Double oops.

So what's next?  I think I'll aim to make oyster shell and grit dispensers (1) and have everyone in the household take the love languages quiz (4) in the next month.  I'll also try to go on at least one more date (5), figure out which class to take (14), and continue purging paper (8).

How are you doing on your 2018 goals?

 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

Monday, February 19, 2018

Menu plan for the week of February 19

I feel like I'm letting you down by not having anything to say at the beginning of my menu plan posts.  I know you don't come for my witty repartee--you come for the meal planning inspiration--but it just seems so...blah.  I'm not feeling it.  Sorry, friends. 

Wait.  I've got something.  So y'all know I order meat from Zaycon Fresh from time to time.  I ordered Italian sausage when there was a coupon code, and they've changed the delivery date two times.  First, delivery was supposed to be in late January, but it got moved to February 23, which is this Friday, and perfect timing for Friday's meal.  Then, just a couple of days ago, they changed it to March 3.  Grrr.

The problem with this, besides the fact that March 3 is a Saturday and the beginning of my kiddos' spring break, is that I scheduled a couple of mystery shops to complete in that area on February 23.  Oh, and that area is about a 35 minute drive away from my house.  The only reason I ever go there is to pick up my Zaycon orders.  No way is the MS company going to reschedule these particular shops for a week later.  So I have to drive way out of my way and do those shops, so the MS schedulers don't flag me as a flake, and then I have to go back again a week later to get my sausage.  I think I'm going to cancel the sausage.  Hmph.

And...maybe you didn't need to know that, but I feel (slightly) better.  Here's what's on the menu this week:



Monday, February 12, 2018

Menu plan for the week of February 12

Hi friends.

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

  • Rice burgler, applesauce
  • Pancakes, eggs, bacon, fresh fruit
  • Chicken tenders, broccoli/cauliflower/carrots, mandarin oranges
  • Grilled chicken, grilled green veggie, salad
  • Pizza, salad
  • Grilled pork chops, grilled potatoes, grilled green veggie, (not grilled) pears
  • Fend for yourselves/out to eat (Mama has a date)
  • Meatballs, mashed potatoes and gravy, cooked carrots, applesauce


Friday, February 9, 2018

Nine months (with chickens)!

So the chickens are nine months old today, and tomorrow they will have been with us for 3/4 of a year.  My...how time flies. 

Anyway, nine months.  I was all set to tell y'all about how there hadn't been any changes, that Toasty Crunch was still laying just about every day, but the others were still not laying.  But then on Wednesday when I went out to check on the girls, I found two eggs waiting for me in the nest box!  Whoohoo!  And then it happened again on Thursday!  Double whoohoo!  That means that two of the girls are laying now.  The extra egg looks like a Rocky egg, but since I didn't catch her in the act, it could be Esther's.  Esther performed a submissive squat for Bubby a couple of weeks ago, so she's ready or close to ready and Easter eggers can lay light brown or pink eggs.  I'm hoping it was Rocky, though, because I'm still holding out hope for blue eggs from Esther in our egg basket.

This is my path through the flower bed to get to the chicken coop.
I also found a frozen dead mole in the run when I went out to check on the girls on Wednesday.  This is the second one I've found.  I scooped it up with a shovel and flung it in the deep snow behind the barn.  We might have quite the scene of carnage over there when the snow melts...

I don't know if the moles are freezing to death, or starving to death, or thirsting to death, or if the chickens are killing them.  About a week before I found the first one, I saw Toasty running around with something in her mouth, and Rocky was chasing her, but I couldn't tell what it was.  Upon reflection, it was the right color and size to be a mole.  Eeew.  The dead ones that I've found haven't been pecked over, so if the girls are killing them, they've decided they don't like the taste.  Or maybe it's a texture thing?

When it comes right down to it, I don't care how they're dying.  I do wonder how they're getting in though, considering we put considerable effort into predator "proofing" the coop, including laying down hardware cloth to prevent burrowing creatures from entering.

 Throwback to when the girls were new:

Esther.  So fluffy!

Toasty Crunch

They used to all fit in this box.  Now, we wouldn't even be able to fit one.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Warm Me Up Sausage Quiche

This is another recipe that shows up often enough in my menu plans that I thought I should share the recipe.  I make a version that's slightly modified from the original, and then I eat it for breakfast and/or lunch all week.  This is also one of my favorite things to serve when we have breakfast guests.  I mix it up the night before, then pop it in the oven in the morning.

Warm Me Up Sausage Quiche
(Modified from the original; Click here to print)

Ingredients (Serves 6-8)
  • 1 pound Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup small-curd cottage cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded pepper Jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour or white whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • (optional) 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chilies
  1. Cook breakfast sausage on the stove top over medium heat until cooked through, stirring to break into small pieces. Set aside.
  2. Mix together eggs, cheeses, flour, butter, and baking powder.
  3. Stir in mushrooms, sausage, onion, and green chilies.
  4. Pour into a greased 9x9" pan.
  5. Bake at 375°F for about 35 minutes, or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean (my oven cooks slow, so I actually bake at 400°F for about 45 minutes).
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Monday, February 5, 2018

Menu plan for the week of February 5

Good morning, friends.  I've been loving all the snow we've been getting.  We're still below average for the year, but we've had more this winter than we've had for the last few winters.  I figure, if it's going to be cold, there might as well be snow, so we can play in it.

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


  • Pizza, salad
  • Tacos
  • Cheesy mini burgers, brown rice, green beans
  • Grilled chicken, grilled green veggies, salad
  • Beef stroganoff, green beans, pears
  • Pepper grilled steak with portobello wine reduction, mashed potatoes, grilled green veggie
  • Sunday night stew, mashed potatoes
  • Rice burgler, applesauce


Thursday, February 1, 2018

Easy Beef Stroganoff

Easy beef stroganoff is one of AKD's favorite meals.  In fact, he once challenged his uncle to a beef stroganoff eating challenge.  Mostly because AKD enjoys eating it so much--he wanted to have an excuse to eat a whole lot of it all at once.

This shows up in our menu plans often enough that I thought it was time I finally posted the recipe.  One warning: it looks hopeless when you add the sour cream and cream of mushroom soup, but just keep stirring and heating--it'll come together.

Easy Beef Stroganoff
(to print, click here)

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/2 c. chopped onion
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 c. sour cream
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup (or use substitute cream of ______ soup)
  • 8 oz cooked egg noodles

  • In a large skillet, cook ground beef and chopped onion until beef is no longer pink. Drain.
  • Salt and pepper the beef & onions to taste.
  • Add sour cream and cream of mushroom soup, and stir to combine. Simmer until heated through.
  • Serve with cooked noodles (we mix the noddles into the sauce).
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See?  Told ya it was easy!
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