Friday, March 29, 2019

9 for 2019 March Update

Hi friends.  It's the end of March, which means it's time for another update on my goals.  

This month I:

  • Crocheted a purple scarf, which I told you about here.  I also decided that I'm going to make a poncho next.

I had already accomplished these:

  • Replace dish cloths

  • Put together a traveling charger kit--You know, cords and wall chargers that are specifically designated for travel.

I've completed 47% of my goals, and we are about 25% through the year.  Yay, me!

And I still have these to do:

  • 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.

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

How are you doing on your 2019 goals?

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Glory Road by Lauren Denton: a Review

"Written in Lauren Denton's signature Southern style, Glory Road tells the story of three generations of women navigating the uncertain pathways of their hearts during a summer that promises to bring change--whether they're ready for it or not." -- from the book jacket

This novel is told from the perspective of three generations of women in turns: Jessie, a divorced mom running a garden shop; her daughter Evan, who is poised to begin her first year of High School; and Jessie's mom, Gus, who is suffering increasingly frequent memory lapses.  The reader follows these three women, living and working together on Glory Road, through a summer that brings new people and new opportunities, as well as the chance to face fears and move beyond past hurts.

This sweet story drew me in and captivated me until the last page.  In fact, it captivated me beyond the last page--I would love to catch up with these characters again sometime.  In turns, I found myself feeling wistful and yearning, hopeful and inspired.  The settings and characters are beautifully described and relatable.  I want to live on Glory Road and be friends with these people.

"In one summer, everything will change.  But for these three strong Southern women, the roots they've planed on Glory Road will give life to the adventures waiting just around the curve." -- from the book jacket

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

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

I went to IKEA

A couple of weeks ago, I went to IKEA. 

Here's what IKEA says about itself:
The IKEA Concept starts with the idea of providing a range of home furnishing products that are affordable to the many people, not just the few. It is achieved by combining function, quality, design and value - always with sustainability in mind. The IKEA Concept exists in every part of our company, from design, sourcing, packing and distributing through to our business model. Our aim is to help more people live a better life at home.
If you've never been, IKEA is ... an experience.  It's a labyrinth, which is to say, there is only one way through, and one must travel through the entire store in order to get out.  Well, sorta.  Unlike a labyrinth, there are shortcuts.  Like a labyrinth, it is winding and laborious.

I find IKEA to be completely overwhelming.  There is so much to see.  And if you're not prepared for the store's format, it's confusing and strange.  On this, my second ever trip to IKEA, I knew what to expect, and was able to move through the overwhelm to inspiration. 

There is so much to be inspired by at IKEA.  That said, I think IKEA is definitely best visited with a specific project in mind.  As I wandered through, I found myself feeling like I wanted both everything and nothing.  It was too much and too little.

I bought a succulent.  And took pictures of countertops.  And want to go back.  And want to avoid all future contact. 

And checked off 1/4 of another 9 for 2019 goal.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Menu plan for the week of March 25

Last week was "spring" break here, and I must say, it does feel pretty spring-like.  It rained for three days week before last, which meant we lost a lot of snow.  It also means we're wallowing in mud.  We had standing water in the chicken run.  It's merely soggy now, instead of straight-out wet (thanks to a week or so of not-rain, and judicious application of shredded aspen), but I'm pretty sure one of the girls' food bowls in buried in muck, possibly never to be seen again.  I kept seeing pictures of friends in warm, sunny, non-muddy places, and I'm just over here, wearing my chicken boots, trying to keep my chickens from being swallowed by the muddy abyss.

In my continuing quest to use up pantry and fridge items that are open, but are not ingredients used in our regular recipes, on Saturday, I made Cheerio Treats.  I used up three separate open packages of marshmallows, and that still wasn't quite as much as the recipe calls for, but no way was I going to open one of the two unopened packages in our cupboard, lest I need to find another way to use those.  My go-to when using up dry or sticky marshmallows is rice krispie treats, but in the spirit of not buying anything new that will then, in turn, need to be used up, I went with honey nut cheerios instead--although I have been thinking about making clif bars lately, so I might be buying rice krispies anyway.

The remainder of the 2011 barley ended up being just a tiny bit over the 2/3 c. called for in the Beef Barley soup recipe, so, as promised, I threw it all in.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you feel about these things), Hubby and I really liked the soup, and I think AKD would, too, so there might be barley in our cupboard again soon.

This week, I'm making Italian sausage and white bean skillet to use up a can of beans that my sis gave me.  The recipe also calls for spinach, which I just happen to have in my freezer, leftover from another recipe a couple of months ago, and I'm planning to cook the little bit of penne pasta I have left in an open box to serve with it.  I'm also using up an open bottle of salsa verde on Thursday, and I found 3 candy canes in the cupboard, which will be going into cookies this week.

I also found cans of evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk, and a jar of turkey gravy in the cupboard.  Any ideas?

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



Monday, March 18, 2019

Menu plan for the week of March 18

You guys.  I made Bubby's favorite muffins again the other day.  Remember when I made a double batch and I forgot the vanilla extract?  And sugar?  No one noticed.  Well, this time, I forgot the chocolate chips.  Seriously, what is wrong with me?  I'm not sure if anyone would have noticed this time because I pointed it out to them before they had a chance to notice.  Bubby has decided they're not worth eating without the chocolate chips.  Now, I agree, chocolate is life, but I honestly feel like leaving the sugar out would make muffins taste worse than leaving the chocolate out.  Am I wrong on this?

And now we have a new rule in our house.  I can only make these muffins when they are the only thing I am making at the time, and when all of the dishes have been washed and the counters are clear.  Because that's what happened, again.  I was making a graham cracker crust for one of our Pi day pies, and decided I might as well make these muffins too, since the previous batch was gone, and I was already crushing graham crackers.  There were dirty bowls and spoons and rubber scrapers and pastry blenders and pie plates and rolling pins everywhere, so I didn't want to add to the chaos by lining up all of the ingredients for this recipe.  And I was so careful to make sure I was adding everything.  Until, of course, the chocolate chips.  *Sigh*

In my continuing quest to use up pantry items, this week I'm making Beef Barley Soup, to finally use up that barley we have in the cupboard.  I don't even know how much barley is still in the box: I don't know if it's more, or less, or just the right amount, for the soup.  Regardless, it's going in.  All of it.  I caved, and peeked at the expiration date.  2011.  It's ok.  We'll be fine.  Really.  Dried grains don't really go bad.  In the soup, I'm also using some of the carrots and celery that I purchased for the lentil soup two weeks ago.  In addition, we have spaghetti and meatballs on the menu today.  I've got some meatballs in the freezer, and a half jar of spaghetti sauce that I used for the stuffed shells.  We're also eating down the pasta collection.

It's satisfying, this using up of the things.  I love the challenge, and I love not wasting food.  I also love getting seldom-used ingredients out of my cupboards.  Until the next time I buy a seldom-used ingredient, that is.  How about you?  Do you have anything in your cupboards that you're not sure how to use?

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


  • Spaghetti & meatballs, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, garlic toast
  • Tacos with veggies
  • Pancakes & bacon, strawberries
  • Slow cooker beef barley soup, rolls
  • Pizza (saucecrust), salad
  • Grilled pork chops, mashed potatoes, grilled veggie
  • Hot dogs or brats, buns, grilled veggie, jello
I don't know.  I'm finding it difficult to commit right now.  But I'm sure I'll make something else this week.  Oh, yeah.  Warm me up sausage quiche.  I'm making that.  Probably other things, too.  But probably not muffins.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Saving daylight and chicken birthdays

You guys.  Daylight savings time is kicking my butt.  Or it could be that weird dream that woke me at 4:20 a.m. yesterday, and wouldn't let me go back to sleep again, is kicking my butt. Either way, it was a rough morning, and a rough afternoon, yesterday. 

I've seen a lot of social media posts in the past couple of days saying that people's animals are confused because of us humans changing our clocks.  The animals are not confused.  They're just keeping on, using the sun to tell them when to wake up and when to go to sleep, unlike us poor humans.  We're the confused ones.  It's not like our animals have somewhere to be at a specific time.  They're not watching the clock.  They don't care that now MC is heading out to the bus stop in the dark again.

I remember my first beginning-of-daylight-savings-time as a mama.  A couple days after we sprang forward, I was talking with a couple of other new mamas, and one of them asked me if the time change had messed AKD up.  No, it hadn't.  He was still waking up at the same time as always, only now we were calling it 5:30 a.m. instead of 6:30.  It didn't mess him up, but it kinda messed me up.

Even though I'm tired, I have to admit that I'm enjoying the fact that the sun has been at a lower angle when I've gone out to read to the chickens in the morning the past couple of days.  There's something so joyful about the sun being in my eyes.  In that place and at that time of day, anyway.

Speaking of chickens, the Littles had a birthday!  Or hatchday, I guess.  Last week.  Hazel, Indigo, and Koko, at a year old, are officially hens.

Koko, enjoying some oatmeal cookies. 
I left out the bugs and eggshells, so these are actually yummy for humans, too.
We celebrated by having extended free range time, which wasn't really all that free because there was snow on the ground and there's a huge snow dam around the coop, which means they didn't have much more room than they have in their enclosed, snow-free run.  I also fed them cookies, which were kinda yummy.  And I gave them a gift--freeze dried black soldier fly larva.  Yum!

The girls have picked up their egg-laying, and now we're getting 3-5 eggs daily from 6 hens.  A week or so ago everyone laid an egg on the same day.  So I made a flower.

From top left: Rocky, Koko, Toasty, Indigo, Esther, Hazel
And then I put them in an egg carton.  And I had to take another picture. 

Pretty, right?  I'm thinking my pickled eggs will be in process sooner than I anticipated.  Yay!

Monday, March 11, 2019

Menu plan for the week of March 11

My baby's home for spring break this week, so some of his favorites are on the menu.

Here it is:



  • Pie

Thursday, March 7, 2019

I finished my purple scarf

I finished my purple scarf.

I must have pulled out my stitches 10 times to start over, only to discover my new work was just as wavy and inconsistent as the previous work had been.  The first day, I crocheted for a total of about 6 hours, and at the end of the day I had a bunch of unraveled yarn to show for it.  I finally realized that if I was going to finish this scarf, I had to stop starting over.  And if the scarf turned out wavy, so be it.  Friends, this scarf is a testament to the idea that some things are worth doing poorly.  It was better to make an inconsistent, but finished, scarf, than a perfect, nonexistent scarf.

And so I started over one more time.  And somehow I lost stitches, which made the scarf narrower than it was supposed to be, but I persisted.  And then somehow I gained stitches again, which made it the right width again.  Still, I persisted.  And now, it's done, in all its thin and thick and imperfect beauty.

I made this purple scarf as a gesture of welcome to the participants of the 2020 General Conference of the United Methodist Church.  Now, I don't even know if there's going to be a General Conference in Minnesota in 2020, or if there is, if my church will be a part of it.  If there isn't, or we're not, I'm not sure what I'll do with this purple scarf.  I do know that I won't keep it.  This purple scarf was made to be given away.

I didn't grow up in the United Methodist Church, although now I've attended UM churches for more than half my life.  I didn't know there was such a thing as a Book of Discipline, or care about the organizational structure of the church.  I had no idea what all these conferences were about: Charge, Annual, General.  Truthfully, I still don't, nor do I care, really.

My husband and I grew up in different Christian denominations, and as we were looking for a church together, we didn't really concern ourselves with what the churches called themselves.  Rather, we paid attention to the people: their attitudes and values, and how we felt when we were there.  And one thing that I especially appreciated about the United Methodist Churches that we visited, and ultimately joined, was their absolute, almost aggressive, welcoming inclusivity.  They went out of their way to let everyone know that they were loved and valued and welcomed by God, and, therefore, loved and valued and welcomed by the church.  The only rule seemed to be Love.

I was shocked to discover last week that not all churches called United Methodist feel the same.  That some think there are whole groups of people who are not as valued, who are less than.  It broke my heart.

Now, we the church are on the brink of something new.  It's scary.  And exhilarating.  Well, exhilarating, if you go for that kind of thing.  I, personally, have no desire to stand at the top of a cliff and jump off.  But here I am.  Here we are.  Poised to jump into the unknown.

Friends, let me be clear: I don't care who you are or what you've done.  I don't care how you identify or about your sexuality.  I don't care how much money you make or how you choose to spend it.  I don't care what color you are or where you're from.  I don't care that you just cut me off in traffic.  You are loved, you are valued, you are worthy.  Not because of who you are, but because of who God is.  Who am I to exclude someone whom God welcomes?

It was good practice, making that scarf, I suppose.  By the end, I was more consistent in my stitches.  The second half of the scarf has fairly straight edges.  In the same way, we will find our way to the something new, imperfectly, perhaps, but growing and learning and becoming better.

I say that we are poised to jump into the unknown, but that's not exactly true.  We are poised to jump into a more perfect love.  That, we absolutely know.  The unknown is how exactly we'll get there, and how, exactly, it'll look.  We do know that it will be beautiful.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Menu plan for the week of March 4

...and just like that, it's March.

In my continuing effort to use up some miscellaneous food items from the cupboard, this week I'm making stuffed shells (using my favorite stuffed manicotti recipe from a church fundraising cookbook), and lentil soup with ancient grains (a Trader Joe's copycat).  I have a half pound of lentils in the cupboard that I wanted to use up, and I thought for sure that I could find a box of "ancient grains" somewhere.  I remember seeing something like that at Aldi, even, and Aldi doesn't carry a huge variety of food.

But I couldn't find such a thing at Aldi, or my regular grocery store, or Trader Joe's, or Target.  I couldn't even find all of the ancient grains for the recipe, which are amaranth, millet, flax, and quinoa, separately in any of those stores.  Not that I would have wanted to buy any of those separately, because then I'd have to figure out how to use the rest of those.  So I bought a small amount of already-cooked farrow (which is none of those ancient grains), and will use quinoa and maybe barley, from our cupboard, and call it good.  At least, I hope we can call it good instead of bad, or gross, or disgusting.

The pasta shells, well, I'm taking a don't ask don't tell approach with the package's expiration date.  I will tell you, though, that the last time stuffed shells showed up on in our menu plan was this time.  Yikes.

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



  • Oatmeal cookie treat balls--in celebration of the Littles' first birthday!  (using up some raisins and cranberries that no one else in this household wants to eat.  Not sure if I have cornmeal, and I know I don't have wheat germ, so I substitute whole wheat flour and ground flax for those) 
  • Bread machine cinnamon rolls
  • Snickerdoodles

Friday, March 1, 2019

The Tiny Truths Illustrated Bible: A Review

You may have noticed I've been reviewing a lot of children's books lately.  That's mostly because there aren't any adult-level books available for review that interest me, but also because I love children's books.  My kiddos are "too old" to enjoy them, but I figure there might be grandchildren eventually, and I can enjoy children's books by myself in the meantime.  I've also been reviewing a lot of children's books because they're easy to read, and I can knock out reviews quickly.

When I requested The Tiny Truths Illustrated Bible: The Incredible Story of Who God is, Who You Are, and Who You Were Made to Be, by Joanna Rivard & Tim Penner to review, I wasn't expecting much.  I've read many children's Bibles through the years, and they generally fall into one of two categories: board books, that are perfect for babies and young toddlers, that generally contain about 5-10 stories, and therefore, skip a lot, or Bibles meant for children who can read well, that may be a little paraphrased, but are generally the whole Bible.  There's not much available in that in-between space.  Until now.

The Tiny Truths Illustrated Bible bridges that gap beautifully.  The stories are a bit longer, and go more in-depth than the board book types, but don't contain so much detail as to be boring or confusing to little readers.  The Bible is pretty comprehensive, containing all of the most prominent stories from the Bible, from creation to the kingdom of heaven (Revelation).  The chapters vary in length, from 3 pages, up to 10 pages, and the illustrations are gorgeous.  I especially appreciate that the people are portrayed accurately from an ethnicity standpoint. 

Some details are glossed over, like when describing the Passover, the author says, "But God doesn't give up.  Finally he sent so much trouble to Egypt that Pharoah had no choice but to change his mind."  But really, do 4 to 8 year-olds need to know what actually happened at that point?  Or can that wait a little while until their minds and hearts mature?  The authors do a great job portraying a loving, caring God for little ones to love and trust.

Bottom line: I love this book, and definitely wish it had been around when my kiddos were younger. The Tiny Truths Illustrated Bible fills the gap in the children's Bible category.  Perfect for parents to read aloud to their kiddos, or readers to read to themselves.

Visit The Tiny Truths website to look inside the book, and to print coloring sheets and other activities.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...