Friday, June 28, 2019

9 for 2019 June Update

It's that time again, friends: time for a 9 for 2019 update.

I feel like my updates aren't as exciting this year.  That's probably because I set half the amount of goals this year as I did last year, and I'm completing them at a comparable rate, which means more slowly.

I wonder what this means for next year.  Will I go with 20?  Or 10?  Or 0?  Time will tell.  I guess.  In the meantime, here's what happened this month:

In June I:

  • Planted 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.

And from my extended, 19 for 2019 list, I:

  • Made a sugar scrub.  I love this stuff.  It's exfoliating, but it's also kind of like applying lotion in the shower, except the lotion stays instead of getting rinsed away.  I'm definitely going to keep sugar scrub in the shower during the winter (although I might use an oil that is liquid at room temperature).

I had already accomplished:

And I also had accomplished these from the longer 19 for 2019 list
  • Find a pretty bottle for my mouthwash 
  • Scheduled an appointment for Bubby with the orthodontist.

I still need to: 
  • 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.

Y'all.  I'm running out of goals.  Do you know what that means?  It means I've got no excuse not to work on that darn Facts of Life book. *Sigh*

Monday, June 24, 2019

Not-so-empty Garden Tour

You guessed it, friends.  No menu plan today (but click here for ideas).  Today I'm showing you what's growing in the garden.  It looks a little different than it did 2 weeks ago.

These are the lemon cucumbers.  They're called lemon cucumbers because they are yellow and shaped like lemons, not because they taste anything like lemons--they actually taste like regular cucumbers.  These seeds were packed for 2013 or 14, and I wasn't sure what the germination rate would be, so I planted 7 of them in this pot.  They hadn't come up after a couple of weeks, and the zucchinis and patty pan squashes had, so I decided to plant 12 more indoors where I could keep a better eye on them.  The very next morning, one was up, and the second came up later that afternoon.  Now there are five.  I'm not sure where I'm going to put all these plants if I get the same germination rate with the indoor seeds.

 Here are the sunflowers by the chicken coop.  Nine of them came up.  A couple of them are pretty big, like 5 inches tall, maybe?  The same three sugar snap peas that were up before are still there, but they are not growing as quickly as the sugar snap peas in the garden.  I read somewhere that sunflowers put out a toxic substance into the soil to retard the growth of other plants, so maybe that's what's happening.  I was thinking next year I should put corn here.  The chickens would like that.  We'll see if that happens.

 What a difference a couple of weeks make!   On the right, we have Blauhilde beans (a purple pole bean from Baker Creek), and on the left we have sugar snap peas and a random green pole bean that I'm supposed to grow and give to a food bank.  I love the purple stems and veins of the Blauhilde beans, and those sugar snap peas are huge!  Still no flowers yet, though.

 On the right, we have sugar snap peas and Asparagus bean, and on the left it's Kentucky Wonder pole beans.

 I am so impressed that my nasturtium seeds sprouted.  Apparently, they're difficult to germinate, and nicking them with a file helps.  I wasn't sure I was doing it right.  I guess I was.  I've never eaten flowers that I've grown myself, but that's the goal with these.  I was hoping to find a climbing nasturtium to plant by the chicken coop, but I wasn't able to find any locally.

So the orange arrows point to nasturtiums, pink are zinnias, yellow are marigold, and red is the watermelon.

 We've been enjoying a few strawberries each day for about a week.  This is, by far, the best strawberry harvest we've ever had.

 Unfortunately, strawberries are not the only thing we've been harvesting from the strawberry patch.  These little green caterpillars are everywhere.  Or they were.  They're getting harder to find as I pull more and more of them off, but every time I go out there I find some.

Our strawberry patch is organic, but maybe not for long.  If we do use a chemical pesticide, I want to make sure it's safe for bees, which might be a tall order.  Anyway, for now, I'm just picking them off by hand and feeding them to the chickens.  I don't know if the plants will have enough leaves left to store enough energy to come back up next year.  It would be disappointing if they don't return, but it would be ok.  That would give me a chance to both break the pest cycle, and move the strawberries to a more convenient location.

 Here are the radishes.  We've harvested four so far, and it's looking like we've got at least 6 more that will get to harvest size.  I don't know why some radishes form nice, plump, round roots, and others are skinny and long, even right next to each other, in (presumably) the same conditions.

 Zucchini.  And a couple of zinnias.  My zoodle freezing experiment was a success, so it'll be good to have lots of zucchini this year.

 Patty pan squash.  I'm really looking forward to eating these!

 Isn't this mini pepper plant just the cutest?

 Our grape tomato plant had flowers on it, which I pinched off, when I transplanted it.  Now it has more flowers, so hopefully we'll have fruit soon.  There is nothing like a sweet vine ripened grape tomato eaten fresh from the garden, warm from the sun.  So good!

 Here are another couple of nasturtiums.

Peonies.  Just because they're pretty.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Father's Day

I get marketing emails from Cricut, because I made an account for Cricut Design Space.  I found it amusing that in the month or so before Father's Day, this would show up in Cricut emails:

Yup, they were telling me that I should buy a Cricut, for $229, so I could make a gift for my dad (or my kids' dad), that would presumably cost much less, but would be personalized.  I mean, it's pretty much buying a gift for my dad (or husband) to buy myself a Cricut.  

I won't tell you I wasn't tempted.

But I resisted, displaying epic quantities of discipline and self-control.  

Anyway, I found it amusing that they were so artfully playing into my desire to own a Cricut.  Don't do it for yourself, they said, do it for your dad.  But here's what's even more funny (at least I think so).

The gift we gave my children's dad for Father's Day was actually a gift for me :)  We gave him a cordless reciprocating saw, which, in truth, he has wanted for ages.  But we finally decided to give it to him now so he can tear apart those infernal pallets for me, and much more easily than me going at them with a crowbar, a prybar, and a hammer.

Do I feel bad about the ulterior motive behind the gift?  No, I do not.  Next Father's Day, he's getting a Cricut.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Menu plan for the week of June 17

Hi friends, and welcome to the first menu plan post of summer!  So far our "summer" has consisted of school ending, and the boys heading off to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.  They're back, and they're hungry, so let's get right into the menu.



Remember--if you're looking for more menu planning inspiration while my menu plan posts are a bit sporadic over the summer, check out my menu plan archives.

Friday, June 14, 2019

I made a sugar scrub

I finally gave up on the idealized version of myself making the Strawberry Cobb Salad that showed up in my menu plan for three weeks in a row.  That recipe is just too involved (oh. my. goodness.  It is not that complicated) to make when we don't have any guests to impress.  This decision, to give up on making the salad, left me with a lime to use up.

For years, I have been intending to make a sugar scrub.  It was in the running for my 18 for 2018 list, and actually made it to my expanded 19 for 2019 list.  So of course, when I suddenly had a lime to use up (ok, not all that sudden--it was three weeks in coming), my thoughts went immediately to DIY Coconut Lime Sugar Scrub.  All you do is mix coconut oil, sugar, and lime zest.

I'm going to admit right up front that I'm still not quite sure how one is supposed to use a sugar scrub.  But it smells amazing, and tastes even better, so if nothing else, I can have a little snack if I get hungry in the shower.  Or scrub the dry skin on my elbows.  Either, or.

Anyway, it was super easy to make and I feel all fancy even having sugar scrub.

Of course, the sugar scrub only used the zest of my lime, so I still had the juice and pulp, and I ended up making the Strawberry Cobb Salad balsamic dressing, too.  It is a really delicious dressing (and sugar-free).  Yay!

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

This week's Cricut brag post

Hi friends.  I think this might be my last Cricut post for a while.  I've made all the projects that I was feeling a burning desire to create (except one, but I need a break from that one), and I'm definitely needing a break from the library Cricut scene.  The technology specialist told me that he was hoping to get the Cricut set up in a permanent location, and that would definitely be a good idea.  I don't want to talk to the librarians (who recognize me as the Cricut lady now), transport the machine, set everything up, worry about making too much noise, break everything down, etc. If it was already in place, I would get to skip everything except the fun part--the cutting. Which is not to say that I will never use the library machine again--I just need to refrain for a while.

Also, summer.  My kids might want me to do things with them.  Or at least drive them places.

Anyway, here's what I made this week.

 This is white vinyl (Oracal 651) on a stained (Minwax Jacobean) pine board.  This is going to be part of our new gallery wall, when we get around to putting it up.  It's a sweet reminder of a running sorta-joke between AKD and me.

This is white vinyl (Oracal 651) in a 9" square Dollar Tree frame.  Either Hubby (if I can convince him to) or I will make a new frame out of pallet wood (which will require table saw use, so I'm hoping Hubby or one of the boys will agree, at least to ripping the boards for me), and this will also be going on our gallery wall.  I love how the wall color is visible through the frame.

I can't show you this project, because it's a gift for a friend and she hasn't seen it yet, but this is white vinyl (Oracal 651) on a stained (Minwax Jacobean) pallet (oak?) board.  I just love how it turned out, and I hope she does, too.  This is part of one of my favorite Bible verses, and I think one of hers, too.

And then, there's this project.
I love this project so much, but it continues to vex me.  This time the background paint stayed in place, and the letters also stayed for the most part, but the mod podge, which I used in an attempt to keep the background intact, peeled horribly.  It looks great from a distance, but up close and personal, it looks pretty ugly.  And that chicken--it ended up looking more like a goose!

This is the project from which I need a break.  I've decided that when I do pick it up again, I'm just going to cut and apply the vinyl instead of using a stencil.  I'm not sure yet how I'm going to prepare the board.  I still want a thin board with a white faux shiplap background with gray and blue letters.  AKD suggested using spray paint, so maybe I'll try that.  Or maybe Hubby can find some skinny plywood for me--the wood grain might hold the paint better than MDF.  Or maybe I'll decide that what I really want is a wood stain with white and blue letters.

I am also working on a t-shirt design for a friend, and another Bible verse stencil, but those are both now, and will remain, in the design stage, for a (long) while.  That, at least, I can do at home, with minimal human interaction.

So that's it, for now.

Monday, June 10, 2019

(mostly) Empty Garden Tour

Hi friends.  No menu plan today, but I do have an empty garden tour for you.  Have you noticed YouTubers and Bloggers doing empty home tours?  And then have you noticed some YouTubers and Bloggers doing weekly garden tours?  I thought I'd combine the two.  Because my garden is mostly empty.  And why not?  And also, I don't have a menu plan.

 Here are the eggs that were in the nest box when I went out to photograph.  I think that middle one is from Indigo, which is great news.  After she was sick, she went 21 days without laying, then another 9 before laying this one.  It's an improving trend.

 Here's the sunflowers by the chicken coop (one of my 9 for 2019 goals).  And part of my finger.  It was bright out, and I couldn't see.  I also planted some sugar snap peas here, and three of them came up.

 On the right, we have Blauhilde beans (a purple pole bean from Baker Creek), and on the left we have sugar snap peas and a random green pole bean that I'm supposed to grow and give to a food bank.  I planted around 25 sugar snap pea seeds from 2 or 3 years ago, and 9 of them came up (and one of those plants has since died).  I filled in the blanks with new seeds, so hopefully we'll get a good amount of sugar snap peas this year.

 On the right, we have sugar snap peas and Asparagus bean, so named because the pods are long and skinny--the package says they're best picked when less than 18 inches long.  Eighteen inches!  And on the left it's Kentucky Wonder pole beans.

You may have noticed that I planted a lot of beans.  Or maybe not, since nothing's happening with them yet.  I'm crossing my fingers that they'll produce well and I'll be able to can some this year.  Planting a green bean tee pee was on my list of 19 goals for 2019--it's not a tee pee, but it is green pole beans, so I'm calling that one accomplished.

 Ah, and here we have actual food growing instead of just empty dirt--hooray for perennials in the garden!  We have lots of flowers and lots of set fruit on our strawberry plants.  I need to get our bird and rodent deterrent systems up and running soon (I've been seeing a rabbit in the garden almost every time I go out there--it squeezes through the 2x4" rectangles of the fence!)

 Here we have radishes.  I think they're supposed to be done by now--I planted them near the beginning of May--but they're not.

 Here's the zucchini.  I planted a couple of seeds leftover from a 3-4 year old packet, along with a couple of Black Beauty seeds.

 Here's the patty pan squash from Baker Creek.  The variety is Gelber Englischer Custard.  I am really looking forward to seeing these grow.

 And here is where I'm planting 4 Better Boy tomatoes, one Grape tomato, and a sweet mini-pepper plant.  I've given up on getting enough tomatoes to make canning worthwhile--now I'm just hoping for enough for salsa and BLTs.  I'm also going to be planting marigolds in this bed (but I need to do that when it's less hot out).

And here is where the watermelon goes.  Hope springs eternal!  Maybe this is the year we actually get to eat watermelon from our own garden.  There will be some zinnias in this region, too, and maybe more radishes once all the peas and beans grow up to shade them.

What are you growing this year?

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Cricut setbacks and success

Let me begin by saying that I am still just as adamant that I need a Cricut as I have been forever the past couple of weeks.  I've had a couple of Cricut fails in the past week, though, so I'm feeling a little frustrated.  Mostly because I can't just re-cut and retry right away.  Which will be solved by the acquisition of a Cricut machine.

So I put the decal on the sign I'm making for a friend, and it looked so good!  I loved it.  I mean, I love, loved it.  And then I tried to seal it.  And now I think I might know why I never see anyone sealing their vinyl signs.  They seal the stenciled signs, at least the ones that are going outside, but not the vinyl signs. 

The vinyl started peeling up pretty much as soon as I applied the sealer.

I tried to fix it, by putting a cover sheet on it and burnishing, and it would have worked, except some of the lines were narrow and they curled and it was very sticky at that point and I couldn't uncurl them.  So I tore it all off.  And I haven't gotten to the library to re-cut the vinyl yet.  Because it is a pain in the tuchas to go to the library, check out the machine, find out which space in the library is available for me to use it, transport it to said space, set up the machine, set up my laptop, set up my mobile hot spot (because for some reason, one cannot use design space over the library's wifi network, but one can over my hot spot), and then cut.  And then reverse the steps when the cutting is done.

So I decided to move on to my next next project.  Hubby cut the board for me, and I painted it white, then added a faux shiplap detail and applied the stencil. 

All was well, and I started painting.  So far, so good.

But then when I pulled the stencil off, not only did it also pull off about half of my letters (and all of my chickens)--it also pulled off much of the base paint.  I don't know why the base paint would come up.  I have definitely seen people apply stencils to painted surfaces and remove them cleanly.  This board is MDF, so that might have made the difference--it's easier to pull up particles than it is to pull up solid wood.  I also did not allow the paint to dry for very long, so that might have been a factor.

As for the letters, I think it's the paint (in addition to the fact that the base paint wasn't sticking very well).  I used the same paint for my next project, and I had the same issue with the letters peeling up and stretching when I pulled that stencil off.  I love the color, but I'm going to have to use something else, because it is so disheartening to see those letters peel up with the stencil.

Again, I haven't had the chance to get to the library to re-cut the stencil.  But I have repainted the board, and I'm trying to figure out if I can seal the base paint somehow and still be able to have the stenciled paint stick.  I'm also trying to figure out if I want to just go ahead and cut it twice so I can retry right away if it fails again.

Moving on (because heartbreak after heartbreak is not a happy topic).

I was really reluctant to get started on my next project, because I was afraid something would go wrong, and this was a higher stakes project.  At least it felt that way.  My next project is a 25x18 inch wooden pallet sign that will be displayed in our living room.  I wanted it to look good, and I needed something to go right.

So Hubby put the sign together for me and I sanded it, and sanded it, and sanded some more, and then sanded again, for good measure.  Then I just stared at it for a couple of days before finally staining it with two coats of probably-older-than-our-marriage walnut stain.  And then I stared at it again for a couple of days.  And then, I plucked up my courage and went for it.
(My sis, upon seeing this picture, thought it read:
which is partially right.
I love, love, love how it turned out (I still need to seal it, which will make the words stand out more)!  It's got a few imperfections, but you can't really tell unless you know what to look for.  That darn gray paint wanted to peel up again.  

So what's next for me and the Cricut machine?  Well, I'm hoping to get to the library this afternoon, where I will re-cut the vinyl for the sign and the stencil for the chicken sign.  I'm also going to cut a vinyl B and another vinyl design that will be part of our new gallery wall.

In the meantime, I am crossing my fingers that there will be some great Cricut deals in July.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Menu plan for the week of June 3

Hey friends.  It's getting busy up in here.  You know, the regular end of the school year stuff, where the teachers try to throw as much as possible as they can at us to distract us from the fact that we've got a long summer ahead of us with our kiddos.  It's our last year of elementary school, and I gotta tell you--I love our little elementary school, but I'm ready to be done with the elementary years and move on with our lives. 

Clearly, they love me over there, because for the third time in our elementary school history, they're throwing a huge party for my birthday.  I didn't have the heart to tell them that I'd really prefer they not.  I definitely would have appreciated the birthday gift they gave MC (a snow day) more, but I shall accept the party graciously.  And leave as soon as I can, politely.

I'm happy to report that the muffin baking streak is continuing.  This week it was MC's turn to choose, and he wanted a repeat of the chocolate muffins from a couple of weeks ago.

This week, we're using up some Italian sausage that came home with the boys after a Boy Scout campout, along with some elk something (it might be steak?  Not sure--but it doesn't really matter--it will get used this week, and that's the last of the elk).  And I'm still looking for suggestions to use up turkey gravy and evaporated milk.  Not necessarily together... Anyone?

Oh hey.  I need to warn you: because the school year is ending, my menu posts will probably become a little more sporadic for a while.  If you need menu planning inspiration, click here to see previous menu plan posts.


  • Zuppa Toscana, rolls
  • Nachos, guacamole
  • Chicken tenders
  • Fend for yourself
  • Hamburgers, jello, grilled green veggie
  • Grilled pork chops or elk steak, broccoli/cauliflower/carrots, garlic toast
  • Chicken pot pie, salad

  • Creamy Greek yogurt
  • Double chocolate muffins
  • Cake balls?  I found what appears to be a chocolate cake mix in our cupboard, in a mason jar, with no instructions, and I feel like I want to get rid of use that.  We also have some random colors of candy melts that it would be nice to use up.  And there are always random leftover sprinkles to use.  So maybe that will happen this week.
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