Friday, June 29, 2018

18 for 2018 (June)

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

In July, we'll get the kids' pictures taken, and I'm planning to go on dates with MC and Bubby.  I'm tempted to send out Christmas cards as well, because who knows how I'm going to feel in late November or early December.  Here's what's left on the list...
  • ** # Purge file cabinet and create paper organization system--Ugh!  We have so.much.paper.  Half of me wants to get rid of it all.  The other half is afraid I'll shred something we'll need later.
  • ** Create a household binder/legacy box--I think my boys would be lost if something happened to me.
  • Go on a date with each of my boys (AKD, MC, Bubby)
  • ** # Get the boys' picture taken--the place I used to take them to closed, so I need to find a new photographer.
  • Send Christmas cards in 2018
** The things that would have been on my list of 8
# Partially completed

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

Here's the entire list:

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

Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Littles: 16 weeks

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

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

 Ah, sweet Koko. She's so dainty.

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

Making a break for freedom.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Wild Rice Casserole

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

Here ya go:

Wild Rice Casserole
(click here to print)

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

Menu plan for the week of June 25

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

Here it is:

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


Monday, June 18, 2018

Menu plan for the week of June 18

There has been an unfortunate lack of guacamole in my life lately.  Not to worry--that situation will be remedied this week. 

In the meantime, here are some lovely haiku about guacamole:

Guacamole, you
are absolutely the best
thing ever.  Yummy.

GUAC-amole! So
much fun to say.  My second
favorite word.  Yup.

What can I say?  I'm passionate about guacamole.  I'm also reading this book, wherein Apollo (the god of poetry, among other things) begins each chapter with a Haiku.  The world would be a better place with more Haiku (and guacamole).  Here's what's on the menu this week.  You know, besides guacamole.



Saturday, June 16, 2018

God's Words of Life for Mothers: A Review

God's Words of Life for Mothers is a sweet book offering encouragement to mothers.  In the book, there are 42 topics, such as Asking for Help, Fear, Joy, Loneliness, Trust, and Worship.  Each topic includes several scripture passages and a 1-2 page devotion on the topic.  The table of contents, which is arranged alphabetically, makes it easy for Mamas to find a specific topic on which they would like guidance from God's word.  The book includes a ribbon bookmark, and several lined pages at the end for the reader to add her thoughts.

It's a nice book--well bound, and a good size to tuck in a purse.  The one thing I didn't particularly like was the scalloped pages.  They look nice, but make it a little hard to turn the pages.

I got this book specifically to hand on to one of my Mama friends who needs encouragement, and this book did not disappoint.  It's a handy reference for any mama--'cause let's face it: we all can use encouragement.

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Still more things I want to tell you

Welp. I thought I was done telling you things for a while, but then I remembered the actual thing that I wanted to tell you first, so I'm back. Yeah. How could I have forgotten, through two whole other posts?  I'm just talented like that, I guess.

I got my hair cut. Now I don't have enough hair to make a poof (some of you might call it a messy bun, but obviously, those of you who do, don't live here), but I do have enough to make two cute little mini-poofs, which makes me look vaguely Disneyish. Two mini-poofs are super fun--I'm not sure why I never made mini-poofs before.

Anyway, here's how it went down. The hair stylist was combing my hair, preparing to cut, when her comb snagged on something on my scalp. Since I have naturally curly hair, I didn't think anything of it. Combs snag in my hair all.the.time, especially fine toothed combs like this one. The stylist thought maybe it was a mole, and she looked for it for a little while, found nothing, and then proceeded to cut.

Some time later, when I had a lot less hair, she happened upon a bump. With two little red marks on it. Like bite marks. The theory is that the stylist knocked a tick off my head. We were unable to find the tick, however, so we're not sure.

Of course now I'm paranoid. Every little itch, especially on my scalp, makes me think I have a tick on me, even though when ticks bite, they inject anesthetic, so a tick bite wouldn't itch. I'm also wondering how I'm gonna be able to tell if I have a bullseye rash on my head.  Without shaving it, that is, which I did briefly consider.

The other thing I want to tell you is that I stay up way too late when Hubby's out of town. Good thing he's back, so I can get some sleep.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Stay Hidden by Leigh Fleming: A Review

My friend Leigh Fleming has released her new book, Stay Hidden, which is the first book in the Hidden series.  I've read all of Leigh's books, and loved them all.  This newest is no exception.

From the first page, I was riveted.  I couldn't put this book down--in fact, I read it in less than a day.  Stay Hidden is the first book in The Hidden series, but the characters and setting are familiar.  Stay Hidden is Riley's story--Riley is one of the residents of Highland Springs, WV, which Leigh created in her Whatever series.  Riley is on the run from a secret in her past, living in constant fear that her abusive ex-boyfriend will find her.  She's living a lie, and doesn't want to let anyone get too close.  Enter FBI agent Derek Bronson, who is working on solving a series of bank robberies, the first of which resulted in his own father's murder.  Add in instant attraction, misunderstandings, betrayal, and a hostage situation, all wrapped up in a happily ever after, and you've got an amazing romantic suspense novel. I loved the story, I loved the characters, I loved the setting.  Leigh's vivid character development and perfect pacing kept me on the edge of my seat--I couldn't wait to see what happened.

This easy to read, engaging book would be a perfect read for the beach or vacation.

Sign up for Leigh's newsletter for information about upcoming releases and monthly giveaways.

Check out Leigh's Whatever series:

Bread Machine Raised Doughnuts

On national donut day, I made raised doughnuts for the first time.  They were so light and yummy.  I had this idea in my head that making raised doughnuts is difficult and time consuming, but after this experience, I just might make doughnuts more often.  I used my bread machine to mix, knead, and raise the dough, making the hands-on time minimal.

Bread Machine Raised Doughnuts
(Click here to print)
Ingredients (Makes about 12)
  • 2 T + 2 t water
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup milk, scalded and cooled
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 T + 2 t shortening
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 t dry yeast
  • canola oil for frying
For the Glaze
  • powdered sugar
  • water
  • chocolate (optional)
Other Toppings
  • Prepared frostings
  • Cinnamon-sugar (my family's favorite)
  • Powdered sugar
  • Sprinkles, decors, small candies

  1. Add ingredients to the bread maker in the order suggested by the manufacturer (for mine, it's liquids first, then dry ingredients, with yeast on the top).
  2. Set bread maker to the dough cycle, and start.
  3. When the break maker dough cycle is finished, punch down dough, and pat or roll 1/2" thick.
  4. Cut into doughnut shapes. Cover and let rise until double, about 30 minutes.
  5. In a deep pan, heat oil to 350°F. Carefully place the donuts in the oil. Cook until they're golden brown, about a minute each side.
  6. Drain on paper towels or paper bag.
  7. Top as desired.
For the Glaze
Mix water into powdered sugar until desired consistency is reached. Add melted chocolate to make chocolate glaze.
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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

More things I want to tell you

Yesterday, when I was telling you the things I wanted to tell you, I started talking about chickens.  And, as you well know, I almost always want to talk about chickens.  For a long time.  And it just seemed like the post was getting a little long, so I decided to tell you more of the things today.  It's really just the Hazel show today, but, you know.

I thought I might have been imagining it, but about a week ago, Hazel, who was then 14 weeks old, and had no business submissively squatting, nevertheless, submissively squatted.  And then she did it again a few days later for Bubby.  As a refresher, generally when chickens start squatting, it means they're a week or less from laying eggs.  Based on her size, it wouldn't surprise me, but her comb isn't anywhere near where it needs to be for laying.  I guess we'll see.  I'll keep you posted.

Speaking of Hazel's size, her feet are bigger now than all three of the bigs' feet.  Or should that be all six of the bigs' feet?  (depends on if we're modifying bigs or feet)  Regardless, Hazel's feet are bigger.  It's no wonder she's so clumsy.

Speaking of Hazel laying eggs, part of the reason we got a Calico Princess was because according to the feed store from which we ordered this batch of chicks, they're supposed to lay white eggs, and we wanted a little more variety in egg color.  But then I was looking at another hatchery's website, and Calico Princess was listed in the brown egg layers category.  Yet another website said Calico Princess lays cream colored eggs, which is close enough to white.  But then I found the website of the original breeder in Czech Republic.  Well, I think it was the original breeder--the breed was named something else, but the picture was the exact same picture I've been seeing all over for Calico Princess.  And that website says the eggs are brown.  I don't know what to think, although I do know what to hope.  I'll keep you posted on that, too.  According to the breeder website, median age of lay for both Sapphire Gems and Calico Princess is 23 weeks.

Continuing with the Hazel show, we set up a bigger, higher roost for the littles, because they had outgrown the ladder they had been roosting on at night.  Except now Hazel doesn't seem to know how to get up to the roost.  It's the same height as the bigs' roost, and Hazel has no problem getting up there--she just has a problem staying up there because Esther or Toasty peck her until she gets down.  It's the same diameter as the roost in the run, and Hazel has no problem getting and staying up there. I just don't know what the issue is.  I've been trying to make it easier for her by putting the ladder nearby for her to climb, but she just doesn't seem to get it.  So every day since the new roost went in about a week ago, I've lifted Hazel up to the roost.  But she doesn't go quietly.  She panics.  Wings flapping, beak squawking, she ends up on roosting on my hands, and then steps down, none too gracefully, to the roost.  Every single time.  Such a production.  At least she stays there.

And, I think that's all I have for today.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Things I want to tell you

Today I've just got some odds and ends for you: some random things that really don't warrant a full post by themselves, but that I still want to tell you about.

I've noticed something about the way I put on shoes, or at least the way I put on my chicken boots.  I keep telling myself to pay attention when I'm putting on other shoes, but I never do.  I store my chicken boots on the doormat in the garage.  Those boots step in chicken poop, and while I'm pretty sure the poop gets rubbed off by the time I get back to the house, I don't want to step into the house wearing them.
I am so happy with my chicken boots.  I use them all.the.time, even when I'm not tending chickens.  They're just so comfortable and convenient, plus waterproof.  Everybody should have some.
There's about an 8 inch step down from the mud room to the garage floor, and I step down into my chicken boots.  But here's what I noticed: I have to step down with my left foot first.  Because of the proximity of the boots to a wall, it would be easier to step down with my right foot, moving the right boot to the right, and then stepping down into the left boot, but I just can't do it.  When I step out of my chicken boots into the house, I have to step up with my right foot first.

We are filling our swimming pool.  We fill it slowly, a few hours at a time, so as not to stress the well, but it always feels a little like a race against time, because we can't really put any chemicals in, and the water isn't filtered, until it gets to be about 3 1/2 feet deep.  So we're filling slowly, so we don't stress the well, but as fast as we can, to prevent debris from dropping, algae from growing, and frogs from laying eggs in our pool.  We just committed mass tadpole-icide when we cleaned the pool--I don't want to have to do it again.  The frogs live in the lining of the pool, where the poles meet the top ring.  It is no trouble at all for them to drop down to deposit their genetic material.

Speaking of frogs, we've been sleeping with the windows open for the past several days to cool the house off, and those frogs are so LOUD!  Holy moly, they're loud, and they never stop.  But the other night, we had the frogs singing to each other, plus some kind of bird.  It sounded just like Hazel honking, but it was right outside our window.  It was funny, because it sounded funny, but it was also kind of disturbing, because it didn't seem like there should be that kind of noise coming from that place.
That is not a frog, but it probably makes loud noises outside windows, too.

Speaking of kind of disturbing, I saw a black bear walking across our back yard the other night.  She was little, but not a baby, so perhaps she was kicked out of the den when a younger sibling came along.  She was heading away from the chicken coop, and didn't appear to notice the girls.  She also started loping when she heard my voice, so that was good.  And of course, the sliding glass door to the back porch, which she must have passed within feet of, was open that night.

Our strawberries are producing like crazy, and as of now, the only thing eating them is human (yay!  Although I feel like I'm cheating fate a little by not deploying my bird and rodent counter-measures as of yet).  And those strawberries are so delicious.  Organic, too.  Everyone should grow strawberries.

And...I think that's all for now.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Menu plan for the week of June 11

Hi, friends.  I'm making ice cream cake this week, and I need your help.  Which flavor combination should I use?

  1. Oreos, moose tracks, cookies & cream, peanut butter, and semi-sweet chocolate?
  2. Oreos, mint chocolate chip, chocolate, hot fudge, and semi-sweet chocolate?  

Let me know in the comments below.

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



Friday, June 8, 2018

I AM Devotional: a Review

Our family finished this devotional, I AM Devotional: 100 Devotions About the Name of God, by Diane Stortz, about a week ago.  Each two page devotional features a name of God, a Bible verse or two, along with a reflection about the particular name of God, a prayer, questions for reflection, and a Bible passage to read to go deeper.

We liked it.  It was especially fun trying to pronounce the names, when they were in a language other than English (phonetic spelling was provided, but we still struggled).  I would have liked to have more scripture incorporated into each devotion, but the length of the devotions was just right for our after supper devotional time, and the messages were more or less relevant to our lives.  I loved how the names describe God's character.  By learning His names, we learned more about Him.

Bottom line: this is a good devotional for the elementary age group, exposing them (and their parents), to names of God that they might not be familiar with.

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

Monday, June 4, 2018

Menu plan for the week of June 4

It's summer.  Here's the menu.


This year, I decided to automate breakfast and lunch for the kids during the summer, so it doesn't end up being snacks for lunch every day.  I think lunches will be a bit more flexible, as we may need portable lunches on days other than Wednesday.  But, at least it's a plan.  We'll see if it lasts.  Here's what I've got for that.

Breakfast & Lunch:
  • Monday: Muffins, Mac-n-Cheese
  • Tuesday: Tpancakes, Tacos
  • Wednesday: Waffles, Wraps/sandwiches
  • Thursday: Throw whatever together, Thfreezer food (chicken tenders, mini corn dogs, pizza)
  • Friday: French toast/toast, Fend for yourself

Friday, June 1, 2018

Chick Integration, part 2

Hi everybody.  Today is National Donut Day.  I personally prefer doughnuts, but I probably won't turn down a donut today if you offer me one.  I know it's short notice, but there is still time to make these super easy homemade dough/donutsI'm going to try these Krispy Kreme copycats, using my bread machine to mix, knead, and raise the dough. 

This concludes both the doughnut and the donut portion of this blog post (by the way, spell check knows that doughnut is the proper spelling--why doesn't anyone else?).

When last we spoke (about chickens), I informed you that two Sundays ago, I integrated the chicks with the chickens.  The littles were big enough that in order for them to be able to come and go from their safe spaces, the openings had to be big enough that the bigs could also enter.  There didn't seem to be much point in maintaining safe spaces that were no longer safe, so I removed them. 

What I didn't tell you was that I proceeded to leave town less than 48 hours later.  I didn't want to.  But it was the way it had to go down.  At one point during the week, Bbil, my favorite brother in law, looked at me and said, "so, you integrated the chickens and then you left?"  Yes.  I did.  When we got chickens, Hubby had two conditions.  First, no roosters, and second, the chickens can't get in the way of travel.

It was bad timing, but there was nothing else I could do.  Also badly timed was the heatwave that hit while we were gone.  I don't think the high temp was below 90°F the whole time we were gone.  One day a friend posted a picture of her outdoor thermometer reading 112°F.  I was already worried about the chickens getting along, and then I had to also worry about the heat killing them.

We returned home on Tuesday, and I am overjoyed to announce that all of the chickens made it through the week. 

And they were so happy to be outside that they didn't even mind the rain.

As far as integration goes, there are still two distinct flocks, and the bigs still chase the littles.  It's a lot better, though, than when I left.  Rocky is the most mellow toward the littles, which surprises me a little because she was, and still is, the meanest to Esther.  Esther is the most intolerant of the littles, which does not surprise me.  Esther's on the bottom of the bigs' pecking order, so she's thrilled to have someone to pick on, and she also has a lot at stake.  As far as sleeping, Indigo keeps trying to sleep with the big girls every night.   Rocky and Toasty don't care one way or the other, but Esther keeps chasing her off the roost every night. 

The littles are 12 weeks old now, and it's conceivable that they, or at least Hazel, could begin laying in about a month.  Hopefully as the littles get bigger and start laying, the chasing will decrease.  I suspect the littles will be on the bottom of the pecking order for a long time, but I do hope that the girls will eventually start behaving like one flock.
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