Friday, May 31, 2019

9 for 2019 May Update

Hi friends.  It's the last day of May, which means it's time for a 9 for 2019 goal update.

In May, I:

  • Covered 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.
(I'm not sure why it looks so lopsided in this picture--it's not that lopsided in real life)
And then I found the material that I originally wanted to use to cover the box, and I thought I had leftover from another project, but couldn't find.  Isn't it pretty?
And then I made a wooden box (yes, I used safety glasses), and the box I made doesn't work in the spot I meant it for, and it looks better in the spot where I keep this box, so my covered box might become irrelevant soon.
Does that ever happen to you?  You set goals and then they become irrelevant?  It's inevitable, I suppose.

I also, from my longer 19 for 2019 list
  • Found a pretty bottle for my mouthwash and
  • Scheduled an appointment for Bubby with the orthodontist.

I had already completed:

I still need to: 
  • 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.
  • Facts of life book--I had been working on this, but my enthusiasm fizzled, and I don't think there's any chance of my enthusiasm unfizzling anytime soon, what with the onset of summer break looming.  September, maybe.

How are you doing on your 2019 goals?

Thursday, May 30, 2019

This week in Cricut

When last we spoke, on matters of Cricut, I had finished my first project, and was all set to cut stencils for my next and next-after-that projects.

So on Friday, I cut those stencils, and I verified the fact that you don't actually need a mat to cut vinyl!  The library only has a 12x12" cutting mat, and for my next project I needed to cut stencils that are 12x16".  I just loaded the vinyl into the machine like I would have loaded the mat, and it worked.

 I'm in love with this chicken sign stencil!  So cute!  I'm waiting for Hubby to cut a board for me, because I think this one is going to involve a table saw, but I know what colors I'm going to use, so I'll be good to go once I have the board.  So exciting!

 The boards are cut for my next sign.  Just have to join them together, sand, and stain, and I'll be ready to go.  I'm super excited about this one, too.

Yesterday, I stopped by the library to do two quick cuts.  I cut some decals for AKD,

 And a decal for a sign I'm working on for a friend.  This sign is actually cutting in front of my next and next-after-that projects, because it's so easy and the only power tools involved are a miter saw and a palm sander. As soon as the stain dries, I can apply the decal, and then I'll seal it and be done.

This not having my own Cricut machine* is becoming tedious.  I dream of the day when I can conceive an idea, design, and execute it, without having to pause for a trip to the library.  Even more tedious, yesterday someone tried to kick me out of the iLab because the Cricut was making "too much noise."  In her defense, she was there first.  However, the Cricut is part of the iLab, so... I was almost done, so I just finished up and left, although I probably would have attempted to design and cut another decal if the wet blanket other library patron hadn't been there.

Next week, I might be cutting a decal for use in our gallery wall.  I bought a frame yesterday, and I know just what I want to do with it, but it might take a bit of time to find a font that I like.  Or I might take a break from cutting for a bit.  I'm still a little bitter about the iLab incident.

* I checked with my favorite deal website, and Cricuts went on sale in July last year, so maybe I don't have too much longer to wait.  I'm saving my pennies!

Monday, May 27, 2019

Menu plan for the week of May 27

Hi friends.  I'm back to trying to figure out how to use various random ingredients that have found their way into our cupboards.  This week it's turkey gravy and evaporated milk.  The turkey gravy is from Thanksgiving.  I asked Hubby if he was going to make gravy or if he wanted me to buy some.  He told me to buy it, and then he also made some.  Silly Hubby.  And he's the only one who will eat it (I think.  AKD might, too).  I think the evaporated milk is Hubby's fault, too.  He wanted "us" to make a certain kind of cookie, that is so labor intensive, I refuse to make it without help.  But when Hubby says "we" should make something, he usually means "I" (as in me, Scarlet) should make it.  So the cookies remain unmade.

If you have any ideas to use up turkey gravy or evaporated milk, let me know.  In the meantime, here's what we're eating this week.



Friday, May 24, 2019

The Yogurt Struggle

Friends.  The yogurt struggle.  It's real.

My favorite way to eat yogurt is to begin with creamy homemade Greek yogurt, add sweetener and vanilla, and top with chopped strawberries and homemade granola.  It is so good!  Mmmm...

The difficult part, the struggle, if you will, is making sure that I have all of those components available at the same time

I'll have yogurt but not granola. 

Or granola and yogurt but not strawberries.

I'll have strawberries, but by the time I get around to making the yogurt and granola, they will have gone bad. 

I'll have granola, but by the time I get around to buying strawberries and making yogurt, the people who live here will have eaten it all.

And I know, I know, I could compromise.  I could use a different fruit.  Or seeds or chopped nuts instead of granola (not store-bought granola: never that).  I could buy yogurt, even.  Or switch it up completely and go with cookie dough yogurt (yogurt + honey or maple syrup + peanut butter + mini chocolate chips).  But it's just not the same delicious combination of creamy and crunchy, sweet and tart.  And it is a struggle to coordinate this yogurt perfection. 

I've figured out a couple of things over the years to help myself out.  I realized I can buy strawberries when they're on sale, chop them up and freeze them, then add them to my yogurt--the only issue there is I need to plan ahead a little so the strawberry chunks have time to thaw, but when they thaw, they release yummy strawberry juice which infuses the whole yogurt with strawberry flavor, so freezing them is maybe even better than using them fresh.  And now whenever I make granola I triple the recipe and freeze 5/6th of it.  The family can't eat what they don't know is there, and they rarely venture into the freezer in search of sustenance.

The thing I can't really make ahead is the yogurt, and unfortunately, that's the most daunting of the three.  Making yogurt requires good planning skills--which sometimes I have, and others not so much.

This week, the stars have aligned and I have all three: yogurt, granola, and strawberries in the house.  It's been heavenly.

I finally got the opportunity to try this little hack.

See my ducks in the background? 
Me, either, but they're there *somewhere*
I hope

So cute and fun, don't you think?  Super useful and functional, too.  I've got yogurt and strawberries in the jar and granola in the little cup on top. 

To do this you need a wide mouth mason jar with lid and sealing ring, plus a little plastic cup, like the ones you can buy fruit in.  Put food in the jar.  Put other food, that you don't necessarily want coming into contact with the first food (in this case, the granola, because I don't want it to get soggy during storage and transport), in the plastic cup.  put the lid on the cup, then turn the cup and lid over and place on top of the jar.  Use the sealing ring to hold everything in place. 

If you use a larger jar, you can also put a plastic cup inside the jar, resting on the lip of the jar, if you have two things you want to keep separate until serving (like with a jar salad, put the salad in the jar, dressing in the cup in the jar, croutons in the cup outside the jar).

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

My first Cricut project

I finished my first Cricut project!  Well, I guess it's actually my second, but I kinda don't count the trophy.  Because it was so easy?  And a joint project?  And it's not actually all the way done yet because Hubby has yet to put the date, the winner(<-- me)'s name, and points on it?

So, my first Cricut project.  Yay!

I asked Bubby months ago what my next wooden sign should be, and he told me we needed a Dinosaur Crossing sign for the chicken coop.  I, of course, agreed.

I forgot to take any pictures in the beginning because I was so excited to finally be getting started, so I'll just tell you what I did to get to this point.  First, I made the stencils on the Cricut using clear contact paper because that's what I had, and the internets told me it would work.

Then I cut the board (yes, I used safety glasses), sanded it, and stained it.  I used a walnut stain that is probably older than our marriage, but miraculously, it worked.  Then I painted using white craft paint--the kind you can get at craft stores for less than $1.  After it dried, I sanded again to take some of the paint off and give it a weathered look.

After wiping off the dust, I applied the contact paper stencil, and painted the chicken footprints in a dark green color.  After the paint was dry, I removed the stencil and moved on to the words.

So, here's the thing.  Yes, contact paper totally works as a stencil--it works really well, actually, but if you use clear, it's gonna be really difficult to see where you're actually applying your design.  Yeah.  So.  I did my best.  Below you can (not really) see the letter stencil applied over the chicken footprints.

Next, I painted the letters a dark gray.  Here's where I tell you that I should have used different colors, because there's not enough contrast between the green and the gray.  But honestly, I'm not sure what colors I should have used, because I love these colors for this sign.  Maybe a bright blue for the footprints?  Or brown footprints and green letters?  I don't know.

After the paint was dry, I removed the stencil, then I sprayed it with a clear sealer.  I really like how it came out, and I'm sure the girls will appreciate the new signage.

My final step will be figuring out where I want to put it.  Near a door seems appropriate, but I haven't decided which one yet.

Y'all.  I am pretty much obsessed.  Now I'm downloading fonts and making .svg files using Inkscape--two things I never imagined I would do--and dreaming of all the fun things I need to make.  This not actually having a Cricut machine is really cramping my style.

Here's my project-after-next.  I love this saying--and it's ~perfect~ for me.  And isn't that font the cutest (SuperVillain)?

When If I figure out how, I'll share the file with y'all so you can make one, too.  

My next project is the pretty complicated stencil project.  I ordered some stencil material, and the file is all ready to be cut when the stencil vinyl arrives.  I'm in the process of tearing apart pallets for another project, so I'm going to appropriate some of those for my stencil project (I seriously can't wait.  It's going to be amazing and perfect for the space).

Seriously, let me know if you need want me to make anything for you using the Cricut (and not just wooden signs--it can do t-shirts and water bottles and the lamp on my desk and your laptop and furniture and mugs and just about anything that has a smooth-ish surface). 'Cause I've only got so many places to put things, and I'm gonna run out eventually.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Menu plan for the week of May 20

I have noticed that we're going through snacks a lot faster these days.  I'm not gonna point fingers, but it's AKD's fault.  I think.  I mean, he came home from school and all.  Last week I filled our snack bin on Sunday, and by Thursday it was pretty much empty again.  (By the way, I'm still using that same box for snacks, only now it's divided into four sections--I put a different snack (or two) into each section (at least one section is always fruit), so they're easier to find.  Also I'm a little compulsive about organization).  I'm heading to Sam's Club this week to stock back up on the kids' favorites.

In other news, I've set a loose goal of trying to make muffins every week (loose as in, not sure how long it'll last, but it'll be nice in the meantime).  Last week it was chocolate muffins (<--these were really good), and this week it'll be AKD's professed favorite--lemon poppy seed (he's looking for a new recipe for me to try).  I guess that's kind of not-other news, because the presence of muffins should help with the snack situation.  Maybe.

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


  • Chicken Alfredo with fettuccine (left over from the IP extravaganza), spaghetti, or zoodles (the ones I froze experimentally a couple of weeks ago--if they thaw well, I might have to plant more zucchini than I had originally planned), veggie medley
  • Tacos
  • Hot beef sandwiches, buns, mashed potatoes, raw veggies
  • Fend for yourself
  • Pizza, salad
  • Hamburgers, buns, mashed potatoes, grilled broccoli
  • Brats or hot dogs, buns, green stuff, chips, raw veggies


Thursday, May 16, 2019

10 Minutes in the Word: John ~ a Review

Lately I've been reading a new devotional from the 10 Minutes in the Word series: 10 Minutes in the Word: John.  Each of the 46 chapters highlights a verse from the day's reading, then gives the instruction to read the day's scripture from John, followed by a 2 page reflection on the reading, a prayer, and a couple of questions for further reflection.  The book is perfectly sized to fit in a purse or briefcase, and each day really does take 10 minutes or less to read.  I really appreciate the built-in ribbon bookmark to help me keep my place.

I like this book.  I appreciate the fact that this devotional series in rooted in scripture, inviting the reader to study more than just a few verses of scripture each day, like many other devotionals I've read.  I was a little disappointed, however, to discover that the readings skip some parts of the book of John, as I was expecting to have read all of John by the time I finished the devotional, but when there are gaps, I just read the extra so I'm not missing anything.  I also appreciate the questions for further contemplation.  I find myself revisiting them throughout the day. The book breaks up John into easy to read sections, focuses my attention on the ancient writings, and helps me to apply the words of John to my life today.

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

I need a Cricut

Ever since I made my chicken sign, I've been plotting and dreaming about the next wooden sign I was going to make.


I had three in mind, of varying complicatedness.  One was quite simple--just two words, and I figured I would use the same technique that I used on these mugs to make that one.

By the way, I saw a picture of one of these not too long ago, and it seems to be holding up well--
I don't know how often it's used, but the technique seems to have worked.
Another was pretty complicated--ten words, each in a different font--and I figured I would make that one at a workshop, like I did the chicken sign.  Paying someone to make the stencil and put the sign together for me, and provide all the paint, would be totally worthwhile.  The other was moderately complicated, but it wasn't worth it to me to pay for another workshop to make.

And then, my life changed.

You know how sometimes you'll have a revelation, or gain an insight, and suddenly everything is different?  Like there's the time before, and then there's the time after, and nothing is ever the same after that?

That's what happened.

I found out our library has a Cricut available for patron use.

It was life changing, this knowledge.

The Cricut is a cutting machine.  It can cut all sorts of materials, including paper, craft foam, metal, and vinyl.  I guess it can even cut fabric and craft wood.  There are other brands of machine that do the same thing, but Cricut seems to be the most popular, and after a bit of research I've discovered it's the most user-friendly as well.  And one of the things Cricut cuts is self-adhesive vinyl and stencil material.  Which means that suddenly, I can make whatever I want as often as I want with stencils and self-adhesive vinyl.

This is the first thing I made:

I had to make my own trophy*.  Which is completely OK, because I GOT TO USE THE CRICUT FOR THE FIRST TIME.  It was easy and fun.  And easy. And fun.

And I am hooked.  Seriously.  There are so many crafty thoughts pinging around in my brain right now.  I started designing the stencil for my pretty complicated wood sign--I think I have it how I want it now, and I will definitely show you when it's done.  I have another word all set to cut and apply to a box, and I cut stencils for the moderately complicated sign.

Except I can't really make whatever I want as often as I want because I have to share with all of the other thousands of library patrons (none of whom have actually used the Cricut yet), and I have to do it during library open hours.

So I've decided that I need a Cricut.  So I will have 24 hour a day access.  That is not at all ridiculous or frivolous.

You probably need a Cricut, too (if only so I can use it when I see ya).

*the trophy's not done yet--Hubby needs to put the winner's name on, and he feels about the label-maker almost the same as I feel about the Cricut.  I don't want to deny him that pleasure.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Menu plan for the week of May 13

Hi friends.  Another week, another menu.  This week I'm pulling some meats from the freezer, including the ham leftover from Easter, and some taco seasoned meat leftover from a couple of weeks ago.  It seems like eventually we should run out of things to use up, and maybe we will, but I kind of figured everything that needed to be used up would be used up by now.

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



Friday, May 10, 2019

We have ducks ~ and the Bigs are 2!

We have ducks.  And sometimes they're all in a row.

We have ducks in the same way that we have deer and turkeys and coyotes and opossums and bears (I wonder how those cubs are doing...)--sometimes they wander through our yard.  A pair of ducks has been hanging out in one of our seasonal ponds.  They paddle and dunk, and occasionally they line up in a row.  I have seen the drake on the pond more recently than the hen, which leads me to believe hope that she is now happily sitting on her clutch.

I walked the perimeter of the pond this morning, hoping to find the duck's nest, but all I found were some deer ticks (two, so far) and an old rusted aerosol can.  So either my duck doesn't have a nest, at least not here, or she is well camouflaged. 

Since they've decided to hang out here, I'm sure this pair is clever, so I choose to believe their nest is just very well hidden, and that, in about 4 weeks, we'll have ducklings, too.  I hope the pond lasts that long.

Not my duck.
Speaking of birds that may or may not belong to me, the Bigs turned two yesterday!  Happy, happy hatch-day to my girls.  I neglected to do anything special to help them celebrate (besides setting them loose to enjoy a smorgasbord of worms, bugs, and grass for an hour or so, and wishing Esther a happy birthday as she groomed herself while sitting on my knee), because I've been preoccupied with Indigo for the past couple of days.

Indigo hasn't been doing well--she's been moping around, and she refuses to tell me what's wrong or how I can help her feel better.  After Hazel's sudden death last month, I admit I'm a bit paranoid when it comes to the chickens' health.  I'm pretty sure Hazel died from something that's not contagious, but I don't really know.  Indigo was a little better yesterday, and today she's better than yesterday, so she seems to be on the mend.  At least she's eating again, although she's hasn't given us any eggs for several days.

I'm making it up to the Bigs today, the second anniversary of their homecoming.  I brought them hard boiled eggs and strawberries this morning, and I think we'll kill the bag of Grubblies this evening.  I also got them a gift--dried mealworms, which we'll dig in to this weekend, I'm sure.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Menu plan for the week of May 6

A few days ago, I found 2 pounds of bacon in my freezer.  It was a little like Christmas, only better, because the bacon was completely unexpected.  And even though I already had 6 pounds of bacon, that I knew about, in the "starter" freezer, it was still a nice surprise.  And one can never have too much bacon.

This week, I'm back to using stuff up.  I'm making Mexican quinoa with grilled chicken that's been in the freezer for months.  I'm also using up the last of the spaghetti sauce that I made who-knows-when-but-probably-more-than-a-year-ago, and the leftover Easter ham.

Here ya go:



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