Thursday, February 28, 2019

9 for 2019 February update

Hi friends!  Welcome to our first 9 for 2019 update!  So...I'm kind of second guessing my decision to only set 9 goals this year instead of 19, especially since I've already accomplished two (sorta three.  I mean, all I have to do for the third is wait).  Actually, I had already accomplished two by the day after I posted the list.  But I'm thinking that 9th goal is going to be a doozy, so I'll knock the other ones out quickly and get to that one.

So.  Here's what I've got so far:
  • Replace dish cloths--I did not get them at Ikea.  It appears that Ikea doesn't even sell dishcloths.  I wouldn't know, since I haven't been there yet.  Well, I've been there, but that was long before I wanted to get new dishcloths, so I didn't notice.  There aren't any on the Ikea website.  I got my dishcloths from  I love the color.  And the fact that they don't immediately stink as soon as they get wet.  I'm hoping the cotton doesn't hold odors the way the microfiber ones I had previously do.

  • Put together a traveling charger kit--So this one was actually mostly finished before Christmas, because we traveled to Colorado to visit my brother and his family, and I didn't want to have to grab the cords last minute and potentially forget.  I just didn't have the 30-pin cord for Bubby's iPad.  Well, I had one, but when we got to SheppyBrew Smokehouse and Brewery (y'all should subscribe to the YouTube channel), we discovered that the cord didn't work.  Whoops.  Anyway, it's complete now.  There are earbuds in the Altoids tin, by the way.

Here's what's left:
  • Plant sunflowers by the chicken coop--These will be multipurpose sunflowers.  They'll be pretty, provide shade, and provide food for the chickens.  The challenge will be keeping the girls from eating them before they get strong enough to withstand the chickens' pecking.

  • Make/install chicken swing--My sis said I should do this one, and I have to admit, I'm looking forward to seeing the girls enjoying it.  I hope they do enjoy it.

  • Cover a box that I store things in to make it pretty--I've been meaning to do this for years.  Even though it's a box that I use in our master bathroom, so hardly anyone ever sees it, it will make me happy to have a prettier receptacle.

  • Crochet or knit something, like a ponchoa blanketpurple scarves, or a hat -- I definitely want to expand my yarn-working skills.  It's always so much fun to crochet something, but then the next time I want to try I psych myself out, because I think it'll be difficult.

  • Four playdates with myself (Ikea, Hobby Lobby, downtown, Arboretum)--This is another one my sis said I should do.  And I think I should, too.  You know how some people go shopping for fun?  Yeah.  I do not.  And lately I've been avoiding shopping until absolutely necessary.  But I think I would find these particular expeditions to be inspiring, so I'm going to "make" myself go.

  • Facts of life book--This goal, of course, is continued from last year.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Garden Planning

One might consider it a bit premature, considering it's under 3 feet of snow, but I've been dreaming of my garden these past several weeks.  It's only natural, I suppose, since I've been watching others start seeds on YouTube.  Of course, they live much farther south than I do.  Today, I'm ready to share my plan.

In the north garden bed, I'll be planting sugar snap peas on a trellis, along with radishes.  When the snap peas are done, I'll plant pole beans, both green and yellow (and I'm hoping to find a climbing purple bean locally, but so far no luck), patty pan squash, marigold, zinnia, and possibly nasturtium.  The flowers will be distributed throughout the bed--not all in one place as the plan shows.

In the south bed, I'll be planting tomatoes interspersed with onions.  I'm also going to put some grape tomatoes in this bed, since vine-ripe, sun-warmed grape tomatoes are heaven, and I'm planning to plant garlic in this bed in the fall.  I might put my zucchini here, or I might put it in with the beans and peas, since legumes and squashes like each other.  It just depends on what might catch my eye at the nursery when I'm buying tomatoes.  Again, the distribution will likely be different than the plan shows, and I'm pretty sure some marigolds will end up in this bed.

The middle bed, of course, is full of strawberries, but I hope to someday put asparagus in this bed, too.

As you know from my 9 for 2019 list, I'm planting sunflowers by the chicken coop.  They'll provide shade for the girls in the summer, and food for them in the fall and winter.  I also decided to plant some edible vines to run up the coop, so there will be some sugar snap peas and pole beans, along with climbing nasturtiums (if I can find them locally--otherwise I'll grow some not-climbing nasturtiums over there).

We will probably plant another grape tomato in a pot by our garage again, and I might try cilantro in front of the house where the basil was last year.  I'm trying to decide whether I want to plant potatoes in a big pot in our existing garden enclosure.

That's what I've got for now.  What will you grow this year?


P.S.  I ordered purple pole beans from Baker Creek!  Only $3 and free shipping--yay!  I also picked up a patty pan squash that looks fun, and they're sending me a surprise :)  Check them out.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Menu plan for the week of February 25

One of my favorite YouTubers, Our Tribe of Many, is doing a pantry challenge this month, which means they're trying to eat from their freezers and pantry as much as possible.  Over the course of the month, Sara has had to be more and more creative with meals, as they eat down the food in the house.  Following Sara's lead, I've been trying to use up some of the things in our cupboards--the ingredients I purchased for a recipe, but ended up with more than the recipe called for, and the things that I purchased for recipes that I never actually made.  This week, I'm using up a lonely box of long grain and wild rice to make wild rice casserole, and next week, I'll make lentil soup to use up the rest of our dry lentils.

Speaking of recipes that I never made, I still have not made the granola.  Yikes.  I had more errand days than usual last week, so that's what I'm officially blaming my lack of granola making on, but probably, the truth is closer to the fact that I just haven't felt like it.  Granola is another of the recipes that I planned to make to use up some items in the cupboard--we have some sunflower seeds and pepitas languishing away that want to be granola, but I didn't know what I would substitute for other ingredients that we didn't have.  I really want granola, so I'm committing to myself that I will make it by this time next week.  Y'all can hold me to that.

What ingredients do you have languishing away in your cupboards, hoping to become nourishing food to feed your family?

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



Thursday, February 21, 2019

Don't Close Your Eyes: A Silly Bedtime Story

Don't Close Your Eyes: A Silly Bedtime Story, by Bob Hostetler, Illustrated by Mark Chambers, is a sweet board book.  From the publisher's description:

Children have a lot of fun packed into a day, and they don't always want it to end. Award-winning author Bob Hostetler capitalizes on this by challenging little ones to keep their eyes open, no matter how heavy their eyelids may get. The soft rhymes about animals preparing for sleep will help them settle down until they finally close their eyes and sleep! 
With silly and adorable characters whose sleepy faces will make you laugh out loud, Don’t Close Your Eyes is a unique bedtime book that your child will reach for again and again. Get ready for bed and say your prayers, but whatever you do, don't close your eyes!

I love the premise of this book, challenging sleepy little ones to keep their eyes open so they won't fall asleep.  Most of the rhymes are a little stiff, which makes the read-aloud rhythm a bit clunky. For me, the best part of rhyming books is the fun cadence.  The illustrations, of sleepy animals attempting to stay awake, are adorable, though, and the sentiment is lovely.

Bottom line: This is a cute book, but I would suggest reading it aloud before you buy (the Amazon Look Inside feature doesn't show much, so look for it at a local bookstore or your library), to make sure you're ok with the sometimes clunky rhythm.

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

My Husband Gave Me Cheap Vodka for Valentine's Day

My husband gave me cheap vodka for Valentine's day.  Because nothing says, "I love you," like almost a gallon of cheap vodka.
Several weeks ago, he noticed that I had cheap vodka listed as a possible gift idea for me on our family's gift website.  He thought that was kind of strange, since I don't like alcohol, and I drink alcohol very infrequently.  I actually can't remember the last time I had a drink, I mean, aside from the sips I take of Hubby's beers every now and then to confirm that I still don't like it.

Near the beginning of February, he asked if I would like a gift for Valentine's day.  When I replied in the affirmative, he asked what, and I said vodka.
I'd already purchased the vanilla beans, you see.  And considering my underbuying tendency, and my hatred of shopping in general, I was dreading having to make another stop to buy alcohol (where we live, alcohol has to be sold in separate liquor stores--you won't find it in the grocery store, although pretty much every grocery store around has a liquor store right next to it.  It's still another stop, in my mind, anyway).

So Hubby bought vodka for me.  And that was the perfect way for him to show that he loves me, since my main love language is acts of service.  I love it when he puts gas in the vehicles, too.  I pretty easy to please, actually.
 You know what this means, right?  Yup.  I got the vanilla extract started last week.  It'll be ready in...oh, 4-6 months.  Or longer.  I mean, the longer it sits, the better it tastes, or so I've been told.

Apparently, Hubby was chatting with the senior high youth at our church about where he should buy cheap vodka.  Well, I think he was actually chatting with some of the leaders, but the kids happened to be there.  Because when I posted on Facebook that my husband had purchased cheap vodka for me for Valentine's day, both the minister to families with students and one of our pastors commented on the post, saying things like it was fun listening to the liters to quarts conversion, and oh, so that's what he was talking about.  With impressionable minors.  At least it was educational?
On Sunday, our pastor asked me if I was going to blog about it.  Yes.  Yes, I am.  I'll check back in in a few months.  

If you've been paying attention, you'll know that making vanilla extract was on my 9 for 2019 list.  Whoo hoo!  I'm well on my way to accomplishing  my goals.  Also, passive goals, like this one, are awesome.

For those of you wondering about particulars (there is a lot of varying and contradicting information online about the appropriate vanilla bean to alcohol ratio), I used 40 of these extract grade vanilla beans (the price has gone up since I bought mine, but I liked this seller, because he had the best price at the time, shipped quickly, and included a sample of whole cloves with my order) and 1.75 liters of cheap vodka.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Menu plan for the week of February 18

My main grocery store just switched its ad cycle.  Their ads used to run Sunday to Saturday.  Now the ads run Wednesday to Tuesday.  Adapting has been difficult for me.  Well, to be fair, it's only been a couple of weeks, but still, I'm struggling a little bit. 

It seems difficult because I would like to have Wednesday be my grocery and errand day.  I've been trying to transition for months now.  But my grocery day still remains Tuesday, or even *gasp* Monday most weeks, mostly because we run out of milk.  You're right.  I should buy more milk. I don't buy more milk because I like to be able to carry all of my groceries out to the car in one trip, so I don't have to bring the cart back.

Anyway, when I'm making my list, I'm hoping for Wednesday shopping, but I have to plan for Monday or Tuesday.  Which means writing down the things that I will purchase if I go Wednesday and the things I will purchase if I go Monday or Tuesday.  I shop the sales, see, and there are some things that I only buy when they're on sale, some things I buy because they're on sale.  And those things are different if I go Wednesday versus Tuesday.

I think what I need to do is just give up on Wednesday as my grocery day.  That way I just have to worry about one sales flyer per week.  It's just...I want it to be Wednesday.

My other main grocery store, the one I go to to get the things my main main grocery store doesn't carry, continues to run its sale cycle Sunday to Saturday.  But they like to complicate things by sometimes having fantastic sales that run Thursday through Saturday.  You may have noticed that none of those days is Tuesday, Wednesday, or even Monday.  This week is one of those weeks.  *Sigh*

So I'm grocery shopping on Monday (and buying at least 3 gallons of milk), then hoping to get out again Thursday or Friday for the fantastic deals.  We'll see how that goes...

In the meantime, here's what's on this week's menu.


  • Rice burgler, bread & butter, applesauce
  • Tacos
  • Pizza, salad
  • Moroccan chicken, couscous (or quinoa), vegetable medley
  • Brats or hot dogs, buns, oven fries, carrots, jello
  • Grilled pork chops, garlic toast, grilled green veggie
  • Oven fried (? anyone have a good recipe?) chicken drumsticks, mashed potatoes & (possibly, if I feel like making it) gravy, green beans


Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The Easter Code: A 40-Day Journey to the Cross ~ A Review

Each two page spread in this booklet begins with a reflection on a theme followed by a "Code Word" and brief explanation for the reader to ponder, a "Passion Proclamation", which is a few verses from the Bible, and a short prayer.  The book contains 40 sections, for each of the days of Lent, plus readings for Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday, an introduction, and a epilogue.

I like this book.  The devotionals are short, but powerful, and I appreciate the suggestion of a "Code Word" to keep the lesson in mind all day.  The size of the book, at around 4 by 6 inches, is perfect to tuck into a purse.

I was planning on using this book with our family for our after supper devotions during Lent, and I probably will do that, but the addition of the code word makes this book more appropriate for morning reading, so just keep that in mind if you are an evening devo person.

All proceeds from the book go to support Mission:Dignity, a fund that supports retired ministers who are living near the poverty level.

If you're looking for an easy to read devotional to add a little more meaning to your Lenten season, The Easter Code is a good choice.

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

Monday, February 11, 2019

Menu plan for the week of February 11

I canned black beans on Thursday.  That's one of the reasons I was lying to you last week about what we were going to eat.  When I can beans, I can as many loads as I can in one day.  Which is 4 (well, I could do 5, but I would have to get up earlier and stay up later, and I don't want to do that, especially since 4 loads of quarts requires 10 lbs of beans, which is a nice number of pounds of beans to can).

Anyway, the plan was to have Sunday night stew that day (I know.  On a Thursday.  What was I thinking?), but I recognized early on that I wasn't going to have the stove space available to simmer the stew for two hours.  So I made something in the slow cooker.  You guys.  It was so nice, after canning all day, in between sledding and shoveling off the temporary rink in the yard, to not have to worry about supper in the afternoon.

Our seasonal pond is huge and frozen this year.
It was all fun and games until someone got a split lip.
Don't worry.  It looked worse than it was.
Oh, and just so you know, when you're planning to can 20 quarts of something, it's important to make sure ahead of time that not only do you have enough jars and lids, but that you also have enough of the right kind of lids for the jars that you have available.  Or enough of the right kind of jars for the lids you have available.  I had 11 regular mouth lids and a bunch of wide mouth lids.  I also had 6 wide mouth jars and a bunch of regular mouth jars.  I actually emptied two wide mouth jars into the slow cooker, so then I was up to 19 jars and lids to use for black beans.  I still needed one more. 

Guess what I did, friends.  I reused a lid.  I know!  You're not supposed to do that!  It's not supposed to work; it's not safe.  But I figured if it didn't seal, I would just refrigerate or freeze that jar.  It was easier than canning all the rest of the beans, and just cooking the leftover quart on the stove and then storing them in the fridge or freezer.

But it worked!  In fact, all 20 of my jars sealed this time.  That might be a record.  But I did put that one jar in the cupboard to be used up first.  And I'll be buying regular mouth canning lids this week so I won't have to reuse anymore lids anytime soon.  You know, if I can get to the grocery store.  I'm thinking today might be my best chance.

Other things happened, too, and we ended up having what was on the menu only one night last week.  And it wasn't leftover night.  Hopefully this week, we'll be able to stick a little closer to our plan.  Here it is:



Friday, February 8, 2019

I made it out

Well, I made it out on Tuesday.  Just barely.  And then I almost didn't make it back.  If it had just been groceries that I was after, I probably would have talked myself into staying home, but I had two mystery shops due, scheduled in more optimistic, and less icy, times.  So I girded my loins put on my big girl pants, gunned the engine, and somehow made it to the road before gravity and ice took over.

The roads actually weren't all that bad.  In fact, once I got to the main road, it was completely dry.  It was just that first mile and a half that had me white-knuckling my steering wheel.  Of course, then it started snowing, much earlier than my weather app led me to believe it would.  Then the roads weren't dry.

I successfully completed the two shops, grabbing groceries in between at an Aldi I rarely frequent, and then I decided to go to Wal-mart.  I know, I know.  I generally avoid that place like the plague, but there are some things that Aldi just doesn't carry, like rutabagas.  And Wal-mart was the only grocery store that required right turns only. 

When I returned to my vehicle, it wouldn't start.  Not just wouldn't start, but I couldn't even turn the key.  It was just...stuck.  Now, this is something that happens with some regularity in the Saturn.  You know, the Saturn that is older than my adult child?  And when it happens in the Saturn, all you have to do is jiggle the steering wheel and the key will turn.

Didn't work. 

Checked the owners manual.  Nothing.

Called the Hubs to see if this had happened to him or if he had any suggestions.  On the way into a meeting, he started the car for me remotely, but in order to drive one needs to not only have the key, but also be able to turn the key to the run position.  No go.

Hubby called the dealership, which suggested jiggling the steering wheel while turning the key.  Nope.  Surely this was my punishment for shopping at Wal-mart.

Hubby drove home to get his key to try, then drove to the Wal-mart parking lot.  Meanwhile, I had been trying to turn the key every so often, just to see if the Yukon had changed its mind.  Nope. Nothing. Nada.

Until.  Hubby pulled up into the parking spot beside me.  I tried one more time, and the key turned; the vehicle started.

You guys.  I was annoyed.  The car not starting was not part of my plan for the day.  And it was just so random.  Why would it start just fine, every single time we asked it to, and then suddenly not?  And then just as suddenly decide to start again?  So inconvenient, and not just for me (thank you again for coming to my rescue, Hubby).

But you know what I decided?  It had to have been a God thing.  There was some reason that I needed to be stuck in that parking lot for over an hour.  I will probably never know what disaster was averted due to that little diversion, but I choose to believe my inconvenience was for my protection.  Even if it's not true, it's a lovely thought--a hug from God.

 Now, of course, I'm stuck here.  Forever.  Or until the ice melts.  Hubby tells me I need to just drive in the grass.  As if I could find the grass at this point.  And as if I have that much control over that hunk of metal and glass.  *Sigh*

And it turns out I was lying to you about what we were going to eat this week, even though I did manage to get out for groceries.  Sorry, friends.  Sometimes...things just don't work the way we thought they would.  But that's a story for another time.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

I Love You Funny Bunny: A Review

From the book jacket:
I love you, Funny Bunny, from your whiskers to your toes.
I love the way you hop around and wiggle your cute nose.
I love the way you make me laugh, then melt me with your smile.
And no one in this great big world can match your sense of style. 
With read-aloud rhymes and adorable illustrations, I Love You, Funny Bunny tugs at the heart and celebrates the special bond between a parent and child.  Cuddle up and share this book with the Funny Bunny in your life.
The book jacket kinda says it all.  This is such a sweet book, and the illustrations are lovely.  I love the rhyming cadence of the text and the loving bond between parent and child.  I definitely wish we'd had I Love You, Funny Bunny when my kiddos were in the picture book stage.  And even though my kids are 18. 15, and 11, I think I might just read this one tonight at bedtime, to a chorus of rolling eyes, I'm sure. 

The truth is, I do love my kiddos.  I tell them every day, but I think they absorb it more easily when it rhymes and has illustrations, when it has a rhythm.  Nobody's ever too old for that.

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

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Menu plan for the week of February 4

I made a double batch of Bubby's favorite muffins the other day.  And as I was putting the dough into the muffin cups, I thought there was something a little off with them.  They seemed a little dryer than usual.  I attributed the dryness to forgetting the vanilla extract, because there was a lot going on in the kitchen just then.  Bubby was helping me, and I was helping Hubby with supper.  And there were a lot of dirty dishes that had piled up, because life.  And cluttered surfaces = cluttered brain, for me anyway.

Usually, you see, when I bake something, I take all of the ingredients out of the cupboard first, and line them up on the counter.  I put them away as I use them, and that way, I rarely forget an ingredient.  This time, there wasn't room, so I didn't (get the ingredients out all at once), and I did (forget).  The vanilla extract.  I figured it wouldn't make that much of a difference in the finished product, so I continued on.  I scooped the batter, and Bubby spooned the topping, and into the oven they went.

After they were baked, I tasted one, and it didn't taste quite the same as I remembered these muffins tasting.  It was about an hour later that I realized that I also forgot the sugar. Oy vey.  Nobody else noticed, though, so the moral of the story is you can put (a lot) less sugar in your muffins and no one will notice.

In other news, I don't think my kids are ever going to go to school again.  Last week we had a 7 day weekend due first to a teacher in-service day, then to the actual weekend, followed by snow, and finally record low windchills.  This week, we began with a day off due to icy road conditions, and the temperature continued to fall all day.  That's not a very good way to remove ice from roads.  Plus, we're supposed to be getting snow for the next 3 days (3-5" today), and we're not going above freezing for the foreseeable future.  Isn't that just great.  Ice with snow on top.

Hopefully, at some point I'll be able to get out of the driveway to buy food, so that I'm not lying to you when I say, here's what's on the menu this week:



What's on your menu this week?  And are kiddos in your neighborhood attending school?

Friday, February 1, 2019

Chicken Update

Hi friends.  I thought it was time for another chicken update.

In my last update, I reported that all of the Bigs (about 21 months old) were molting.  I am pleased to announce that all of them have regrown their feathers, and at least two of them, Rocky and Esther, have laid eggs since molting.  That isn't supposed to happen--they're supposed to wait until spring to start laying eggs again after a molt, but my chickens don't concern themselves too much with following rules.  We also had a stretch of warmer weather, which I'm sure helped with the egg situation, especially for Rocky.

Also laying right now are Littles (almost 11 months old), Hazel and Indigo.  Indigo's been laying all along, but Hazel took an extended break in December.  Hazel also had some missing feathers on her breast in early January, but has not gone through a full molt.  Koko was laying regularly up through early January, but hasn't laid an egg in weeks now.  I don't know why, although I have been seeing more Koko feathers than usual on the floor of the hen house.

I have been letting the girls out unsupervised for an hour or two before sunset every day.  There are fewer aerial predators around this time of year, and the girls have also gotten better at taking cover when they hear or see a predator.  A couple of weeks ago, I saw them make a break for the coop when they heard a hawk.  The hawk turned out to be a crow, but better safe than sorry when you're a chicken.  It's been really nice being able to let them out and know that they'll be ok.  Of course, now there's snow on the ground, so they're not venturing out as much.

A few weeks ago, I let the girls out, and when I went out to put them back in again, I noticed that someone had pooped on our deck.  Naughty girls.  So I got my poop scoop, went back to the deck, took care of business, and then walked back to the coop.  I got the girls in for the night, and then as I was walking back to the house, I noticed an egg on my path.  An egg!  On the path!  It hadn't been there as I had been walking back and forth, so someone (probably Hazel) laid an egg on the path on her way back to the hen house for the night.

Just in case you don't know, it actually takes a while for a hen to lay an egg.  My girls will hang out in the nest box for sometimes an hour or more, before the egg comes.  Eggs are not surprises.  But apparently this one was.  It had the same hazy coating on it as the ones I found in the run early on when the Littles first started laying.  So maybe that coating happens when eggs come faster, and maybe they do come as a surprise.

In deference to colder temperatures this week, I put the mama hen heating pad back into use, this time in the hen house.  I have it set to the lowest setting, and I turn it on when the overnight temperatures are -5°F or lower.  It's just there to take a little (tiny) bit of the chill off.  I also left it on during the day when the high temps stayed below -5°F this week, just so the girls had someplace to warm up during the day.  They didn't hang out with the heating pad all day, though.  They spent their time in the run, eating, scratching, and preening.  Honestly, the heat is more for my peace of mind than for the chickens' benefit.  As I say over and over, they do better with cold than with hot.  We had extended periods last winter when the temperature did not go above 0, and they were just fine.

The chickens are fine, but some of the eggs have not been.  I didn't get to a couple until they had frozen and cracked.  No worries--I just thawed them, then scrambled them, shells and all, and fed them back to the chickens.  It was a win-win: I didn't have to waste an egg, and the girls got a yummy, warm snack on a bitterly cold day.

And I think that's all for now.  See ya next time.
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