Wednesday, July 31, 2019

9 for 2019 July update

Hi friends.  It's the last day of July, which means it's time for another 9 for 2019 update.  So.  Here we go.
I did nothing. 

At all. 

In July.

OK, that's not entirely true.  I did do things in July, just nothing on my goal list.  If you want, you can go back and read the June update.  You know, if you're feeling cheated, gypped, deprived, snookered.

And guess what?  I'm not going to do anything in August, either.  So maybe bookmark that June update so you can read it again at the end of August and be totally up to speed on how I'm doing on my goals.

In the meantime, here is a gratuitous picture.

How are you doing on your goals?

Monday, July 29, 2019

Menu plan for the week of July 29

July 29, y'all.  That means almost August.  And you know what happens in August, right?  Yup.  Football practice.  Two-a-day for a while.  And football practice means our summer is effectively over.

OK, not really, but it is a little more difficult to go on family fun adventures when one of the family is practicing all morning, then has to go back at 6, and another family member practices at 5:30.  On the positive side, summer being practically over means the hot is almost over.

You might notice pasties on the menu again this week.  Yeah.  We didn't get to them two weeks ago, because our oven decided to stop working.  So this week, pasties with turkey gravy for sure.  Still need to use up the evaporated milk and candy canes (not necessarily together), though.

The oven situation made us break our muffin streak, so bakery style double chocolate muffins are back on the menu this week, along with the ah-maze-bars that we've been dreaming of but unable to bake.  It is so good to have an oven.

  • Meat sauce with angel hair or zoodles, green beans, garlic toast
  • Chicken tacos (in the crock pot), guacamole and taco toppings
  • Pasties, turkey gravy, broccoli/cauliflower/carrots
  • Fend for yourself
  • Pizza, salad
  • Beef k-bobs with grilled veggies and fresh fruit
  • Grilled steak with portabello wine sauce, mashed potatoes, broccoli, cake


Thursday, July 25, 2019

This week's Cricut brag post

I gotta tell you, friends.  When I pushed "publish" on last week's brag post, I didn't think there was going to be a brag post this week.  I knew I was going to be super busy in the week in between and didn't think I'd get around to making anything in the meantime.

I was wrong.

I made this mug, and I'm so happy with how it turned out.
This is black EV51 on a dollar tree mug. You might remember from this post that it was supposed to say
a little bit of
but the little letters were too little and it didn't cut or weed right.  But this works, too.  AKD saw it and said, "not for you, I'm guessing?"  No, not for me, because mine would say chocolate instead of coffee.  Incidentally, the reverse canvas with this saying is still in the works.  I attempted, but failed, to obtain a canvas on Friday, or you'd probably be seeing it now.

On Saturday, I made this sign.  My friend chose the design on the left, but that's OK.  It looks good, too.  I like how you can see the grain of the wood through the black paint.
AKD saw this one and said, "also not for you, I'm guessing?"  He is correct.  It's perfect for my friend, though.  This is white Oracal 651 on a pine board, painted with black Apple Barrel acrylic paint ('cause I'm not cool enough to use chalk paint).

Also on Saturday, I made this sign.

When AKD saw this one, he said, "ah.  This one could be for you."  But it's not.  It's for a friend, or actually, more accurately, a friend of a friend.

I went with possibly-older-than-our-marriage walnut stain on a pine board.  I used Oramask 813 for the stencil and white Apple Barrel acrylic paint.  And by the way, I think the possibly-older-than-our-marriage walnut stain is gone, or at least what's left is too gummy to be useful, so I'll have to get some definitely-younger-than-our-marriage walnut stain for future projects.  It makes me kind of sad.

It seems like a strange thing, that I would make this time consuming project for someone I hardly know, and very rarely see, but what can I say?  I felt compelled.  And I'm glad I got it done so I will be able to hand-deliver it.   I know she'll love it.

So that's all for this week.  Maybe I'll get that canvas done in the next week.  See you next time.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Week 6 garden tour

Hi friends.  Time for another garden tour/update.  I've decided that from now on all garden produce, when ripe, must contrast in color with its foliage.  Next year. #goals

 This is our tower of peas and beans.  The vegetation is quite dense, and it is difficult to actually find the peas and beans to harvest.  Nevertheless, we've been harvesting 10-15 sugar snap peas each day. I'm looking forward to the purple beans coming on, so I'll be able to see them.  Of course, they're climbing so high, I might need a ladder to reach them...

 Here are some green beans, blending in with their foliage.  They look like they're ready, but I think these might be* one of the asparagus bean plants, so I'm leaving them out there to see how long they get.

*the reason I'm not sure that these are asparagus beans is because I planted one asparagus bean and one generic green bean by the post, and this plant is one of those.

 Poor watermelon is hanging in there.  We've had quite a few male flowers--you can see two of the spent blooms in the upper right quadrant of the photo--but no female flowers, and therefore no set fruit as yet.

 Bean flowers.  So pretty.

 One of the nasturtiums has a bud!  Yay!  This is the first time I've grown edible flowers for eating, so I hope we get lots more.

 One of the zinnias in the bean/pea jungle getting ready to bloom.

 We've had lots of male zucchini and patty pan squash flowers, too, but no set fruit.  I've been wanting to try eating these, too, but haven't gotten around to doing the necessary research to discover how to prepare them.

 Here's a flower on the mini pepper plant.  I've seen lots of flowers, but again, no set fruit.

 These grape tomatoes are just now starting to turn.

 And all of the Big Beefs have set fruit on them, too.  I've noticed a little bit of yellowing and spotting on lower tomato leaves, but I've been pruning them off as I see them, so hopefully we can fend off blight for long enough to get a decent harvest.  These tomatoes are planted in the same place where we had tomatoes last year, which is kind of a no-no when it comes to preventing tomato disease.

 I loved the way the dew looked on these pea flowers in the morning sunlight.

 Our largest sunflower is probably 3 1/2 feet tall now.  I'm thinking I might be able to remove the fence in the next few weeks, because the plants are well established.  I'm kinda nervous, though, because the chickens are certainly capable of decimating all of these plants in just a few minutes if they choose to do so.

Still no flowers on the lemon cucumbers, but they are sprawling all over, and I am seeing buds, so it's only a matter of time.

And that's it for now.  What's growing in your garden?

Thursday, July 18, 2019

This week's Cricut brag post

Last week, I asked for your help deciding what project I should do first with my new Cricut, and overwhelmingly, you voted for putting a chicken mama decal on my water bottle.

So I did.

And then it seemed like it needed something more.  Something pink.  So I added some flowers.

I'm so pleased with how it turned out.  Good call on the first project, friends.

Then Bubby decided he needed a mountain decal on his water bottle, so I showed him how to do that.

Next, I made some thank you notes for my kiddo who is off on a mission trip to send out to people who supported the trip.

I tackled the project that's been vexing me for ages.

I went with possibly-older-than-our-marriage walnut stain on sanded pallet wood with white oracal 651 and sky blue EV51.

The football mom shirt was the 2nd most popular project when I asked for help choosing what to do first. 

Free SVG from here
 I was super intimidated by the heat transfer vinyl, but I did it.  I wish I thought I was going to be doing enough heat transfer projects to justify buying a heat press or Cricut EasyPress, but I think my regular old iron did ok. 

Siser HTV on A New Day (Target) shirt
You can see the dots from my iron's steam holes under the design.  We'll see how it holds up to washing.

I spent way too much time, having way too much fun, designing this sign for a friend.  Still need to decide on the final--I'm leaning toward the one on the right.

And I made some art for my toenails.  Chickens, of course.  I considered other things, like flowers, palm trees, even turtles, but in the end, it had to be chickens.

That's all for this week!

If you need any Cricut or Silhouette supplies, check out Expressions Vinyl.  If you sign up for their rewards program using my affiliate link, you'll get $5 off your first order, and I'll get rewards points.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Menu plan for the week of July 15

Hi friends.  We're down a man this week.  He's off in Tennessee doing home repair and yard work and sweating a lot and fending off bugs (they grow 'em big down there).  I'm taking advantage of MC's absence to make a few meals that he definitely doesn't like--things with potatoes in them.  I know!  Who doesn't like potatoes?  My kids are weird.

In MC's absence, Bubby learned to mow.
 One of the things with potatoes is pasties, which is giving us an opportunity to use that jar of turkey gravy that I've been asking you how I should use for several weeks.  Yay!  Still have the candy canes and evaporated milk, though.  Humph.

And our muffin streak continues.  This week it's AKD's turn to pick.  When I asked what kind of muffins he wants, he told me he wanted cupcakes.  So I'm giving him pretty-much-cupcakes muffins, also known as bakery style double chocolate muffins.  All they need to be cupcakes is frosting.

What's on your menu?  Here's what we're eating this week.


  • Beef & potato casserole, green beans
  • Nachos, guacamole
  • Pasties, turkey gravy, broccoli/cauliflower/carrots
  • Fend for yourself
  • Hamburgers, buns, chips, jello, raw veggies
  • Hot dogs or brats, buns, pretzels, carrots
  • Grilled pork chops, grilled veggie, garlic toast


Thursday, July 11, 2019

What should I do first?

You guys!  My Cricut has arrived!  Ahhh!  I am so excited!

But here's the thing.  I don't know what to do first.  I have lots of projects that I want to work on, and that I have been working on, at least in the design phase, and I don't know which one should be the inaugural project on my new machine.  So I thought I'd ask you all for your opinion.  What do you think?

Here are some options, but feel free to give me other ideas to further complicate my choice :)

1.  Redoing this chicken sign.
I made a new sign out of pallet wood and it's sanded and ready to go.  I think I'm going to do vinyl instead of a stencil, but I'm not sure what finish to give the background.  Do I stain it dark and do the words in white and turquoise vinyl?  Or do I stain it dark, whitewash it, and do the words in gray and turquoise?  By the way, you can answer the finish question separately from the what project should I do first question.

2.  This chicken mandala.
This is seriously gorgeous.  And would take a seriously long time to weed (picking out all the little pieces of vinyl that I don't want to transfer to the finished project).  I love this, and I'm leaning toward this being my first project.  Except I don't know what to put it on.  Originally, when I designed it, I was thinking I'd put it on wood and hang it in the coop somewhere (by the way, I'm kind of running out of places to put wooden signs in the coop.  I guess we just need more chickens and a bigger coop. Or something like that).  But it would also look really nice on a tote bag or t-shirt, I think.

3. Putting one of these chicken mamas on my water bottle.
Or something else on my water bottle (any suggestions?).  The graphics wore off, and it's looking a little plain.

4. This wooden sign.
It'll be stenciled on stained wood.

5. This.
I have two friends that I want to give this to, one as a reverse canvas (a reverse canvas is when you take apart a canvas and use the frame as a visible frame, reattaching the canvas in the rear) to celebrate her kitchen remodel, and another either on a mug or on a t-shirt.

6. This.
I'm not sure where I would put it or to whom I would give it, but I need to put this saying on something.

7. A football mom t-shirt.
Football season is coming up, you know.

8. Some other idea.

Let me know what you think! 

Also, you might not see me for a while.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Week 4 Garden Tour

As promised, I went out bright and early with a 100% charged camera/phone battery, and I've put together a garden update for you.  The problem with bright and early, though is that it's...well...bright.  I think you'll get the idea, though.

 I ended up with 11 lemon cucumber plants, and they're doing well in their pots so far.  I'm hoping to get enough cucumbers to make a batch of pickles from a recipe a friend sent me.  And yes, I know that lemon cucumbers are not ideal for pickling, but what else am I going to do with 11 plants-worth of lemon cucumbers?  No way are we going to be able to keep up with eating them fresh. 

 This is the mini pepper plant.  You can just see a few buds forming.  I've never had any luck with full sized bell peppers, but I did get quite a few jalapenos last year, so I'm hoping these mini peppers will do well, too.

The bean and pea patch is a jungle.  Blauhilde beans (a purple pole bean from Baker Creek) on the right, and sugar snap peas and a random green pole bean that I'm supposed to grow and give to a food bank on the left.  I am loving the purple vines of the Blauhilde beans.

Sugar snap peas and Asparagus bean on the right, and Kentucky Wonder pole beans on the left.  Some of the sugar snap peas are taller than me now, and some of the Kentucky Wonders have made it past the apex of the trellis.  Still no bean flowers, but the peas have flowers and pea pods, some of which are very close to harvestable.

 One of the peas.  Isn't it pretty?

One of the zinnias, amid the bean jungle.  The bud is forming.

 Patty pan squash is doing well.


 Poor little watermelon plant trailing out of the garden bed to escape the bean jungle.  I should have planted this little guy in one of the radish spots, but the radishes weren't done yet, and I wanted the watermelon to have a trellis to climb.  Maybe next year I'll plant a bed of just watermelons to improve my chances.

Our tallest sunflower is about 2 feet tall.  And Koko decided to photobomb.

I've given up on the strawberry patch for this year.  It's overgrown with weeds, and the strawberries are pretty much done for the year anyway.  Between the weeds and the tiny green worms, I'm not sure what to do with this space next year--if I should try to dig up some of the plants in the fall and transplant them to another bed, or start over with new plants, or just keep them where they are and see what happens.  It'll probably depend on how much energy I have when the other garden beds are done producing for the year.  On the bright side, if I do decide to either start over or transplant, I can put some asparagus in with the strawberries this time.

You've already seen this picture of our farthest along grape tomatoes.  Today I noticed our first Big Beef tomato as well, but I couldn't get a good picture of it.  I've been pruning the tomatoes this year again, taking the suckers off as they form to hopefully direct more energy to the main plant and fruit production, but I missed a couple of suckers that are huge now, and I don't want to take those off, so I guess they get to stay and contribute to the tomato jungle.

I think that's it.  Did I miss anything? 

Until next time...happy gardening!

Monday, July 8, 2019

So exciting!

I was planning on giving y'all a garden update today, because the trend seems to be for me to do an update once every two weeks.  But when I went out yesterday to take pictures of everything, my camera, which is actually my phone, went kaput.  Not permanent kaput, but the sudden low battery so it has to shut off right now kind of kaput.

Here's one I took Wednesday--the grape tomatoes.  Yum!

Has this phenomenon happened to you?  Anytime my battery dips below 40% or so, I have to be prepared for sudden phone shut down at any moment.  It's a little frustrating.  But I haven't had time to explore whether it's possible and/or cost effective to replace the battery, and so I just deal with it.  And sometimes that means no pictures, and no garden update.

Tomorrow.  I promise.  I'll go out bright and early with a 100% battery.

But it's ok that you're not getting a garden update today, because


Oh yes, it's Christmas in July for Scarlet :)  I ordered it last night, and it's supposed to be here next Monday!

Get ready, friends, to be bombarded with Cricut posts.  Here we go!

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate for Canning or Freezing

Our strawberry harvest this year is by far the best harvest we've had since we planted the strawberry patch a few years ago.  I think it's partly because the patch is well-established, and partly because I've done a better job protecting the berries from rodents and birds this year, and partly because of the weather.

This year, for the first time, I've been harvesting enough strawberries that we can't eat them all before they go bad.  That's why I decided to make them into strawberry lemonade concentrate.  Sure, I could freeze them, but I think my family will enjoy them more this way (and if you're like me, harvesting your own strawberries, you can freeze them until you get enough to make the strawberry lemonade.

This is a super simple recipe, with only 3 ingredients.  It tastes sweet and tart, just perfect to sip while sitting in the porch spring on a hot summer evening.  I canned my strawberry lemonade concentrate, because I have way more shelf space than I do freezer space, but if you don't want to can it, you could certainly freeze it.  Enjoy!

Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate
(to print this recipe, click here)

Ingredients (About 6 pints)
  • 6 c. strawberry puree (3-4 pounds strawberries)
  • 4 c. lemon juice (bottled is fine)
  • 6 c. granulated sugar

  1. Wash, hull, and puree the strawberries in a blender or food processor, measuring to make 6 cups of strawberry puree.
  2. Add the strawberry puree, lemon juice, and sugar to a non-reactive pot and stir.
  3. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, to 190°F. Remove from heat, and skim any foam.
If canning
Ladle hot liquid into about 6 pint jars or 3 quart jars, leaving 1/4" head space. Process in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes.

If freezing
Allow to cool. Ladle into freezer containers and freeze.

To reconstitute

Add 3 jars water, sparkling water, or lemon-lime soda to one jar concentrate. Taste, and add more water or sugar if desired.
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Monday, July 1, 2019

Menu plan for the week of July 1

Hey.  Did y'all know it's July today?  Crazy, right?  It seems crazy both because the kids just got out of school, and because of the cooler-than-usual weather that eased us into the season.  But it is, in fact, July, regardless of our incredulity. 

Do you do anything fun for Independence Day?  We used to go camping every year, and for a while there we were making and wearing matching 4th of July shirts, but as the kiddos got older and busier, we fell out of that habit.  Generally now we stay closer to home and do a mix and fun and not-so-fun things outdoors, in not-matching shirts.  Now that I'm Cricut-obsessed, I can definitely see more matching t-shirts in our future.  And luckily, I have trained my children well, so that they know that sometimes they have to do things, like wear cheesy matching shirts, just to make the mama happy.

So here's this week's menu plan.  I am happy to report that I've kept up with my (loose) goal of making muffins each week, even though I haven't been telling you about it every week.  Last week it was lemon-chia friendship bread muffins, especially for AKD, and this week it will be chocolate chip graham muffins, which everybody loves, but are a particular favorite of Bubby.

Here you go:


  • Spaghetti, green beans, garlic toast
  • Tacos
  • Hot dogs or brats, buns, chips, pudding raw veggies
  • Hamburgers, buns, chips, jello, raw veggies
  • Chicken skewers, salad, garlic toast, fresh fruit
  • Pie iron pizza
  • Fend for yourself


  • Rolls
  • Chocolate chip graham muffins
  • Cookies?  (I'm hoping to do something like this, but I have a feeling I won't get to it) (P.S. Can you believe what they're charging for these?  I don't blame them, though, because that is time consuming work!)
Did I ever show you these?  I've blocked out the specifics, but I think it took about 3 hours to decorate 2 dozen cookies. That's not counting the time it took to mix and chill and roll out and cut and bake and cool. Crazy time consuming, especially since they're meant to be eaten, and the kiddos could care less what they look like.
(By the way, any mini m&ms you see are courtesy of Bubby)

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