Monday, August 26, 2019

It's been a while since we've had a chicken update

It's just as well I didn't post a menu plan last week, since we actually ate the meals on the menu plan once during the week.  Just once.  This is such a busy time of year for us.  One day I counted, and I made six trips to town and back (that's 13 trip segments) getting people and desserts where they needed to go.  I suspect that I would be appalled if I counted how many miles I have driven just between our house and town in the past two weeks.  That's why I haven't counted.  It's all worth it, though (I think), especially the desserts.  And once school starts, it'll probably be an average of one trip to town per day, hallelujah.

I'm not going to do a menu plan this week, either, but I thought I would talk about chickens.  We have them, you know.

Where should I begin?  The last update was on the Bigs' 2nd birthday in May, so I guess I'll start then.

So, Indigo wasn't feeling well.  She was moping around and not laying eggs.  Since then, she's perked up, and is back to laying, although she isn't laying very regularly, and her shells are pretty fragile.  She might be laying more than I'm aware of, because she is prone to laying rubber (shell-free) eggs, and I found evidence of one in the hen house a week or so ago.  She was laying so many rubber eggs that for a while the others would follow her around pecking at her vent, waiting for the rubber egg to come out.  One day I let the girls out and then noticed that Indigo had a ruptured egg membrane sticking out of her vent--the others got to and ate the egg before it was even out.

Also not laying regularly, or at all, is Esther.  She hasn't laid since August 1.  She's molting.  It's about a month earlier than last year, so I was caught off guard, but this is a more sensible time of year to lose one's feathers.

And rounding out our roster of non-layers is Rocky.  I think she must be heading into a molt, too, although I haven't noticed any of her feathers missing or on the ground.  Yet.

So if you've been paying attention, you will realize that we only have two chickens who are laying with any regularity these days.  That is not enough to keep up with our consumption, especially with AKD still at home.  I've been buying eggs for a couple of weeks now, and I'm contemplating whether I want to add a few more girls to our flock in the spring.  I wasn't planning on it, but now I'm not sure. 

I felt like six was a really good number, based on egg production and feeder/waterer capacity, and five was actually a good number of chickens when they were all laying regularly.  In fact, we almost couldn't keep up with them when they were all laying regularly.  Chickens can live for a long time if they're well cared for, although their egg laying drops off tremendously at around three years of age.  Our max capacity is around 8 (although I would not be opposed to squeezing a couple more in), and we have to get at least three at a time.  And we all know that there will be no old-age culling around here.

I'm also reluctant to go through the acclimation process again, unless we can come up with a secure grow-out pen for the chicks.  I lost so much sleep over chicken integration when the Bigs and Littles needed to be in the same coop, but the Littles were still so little.

We'll see, I guess.  I've got time to contemplate.

Toasty and Koko are still laying, and they are doing well.  Toasty is still at the top of the pecking order and Koko is at the bottom.  Since we lost Hazel, Toasty seems to have lost her desire to be a rooster--I haven't seen her mount any of the others for a while.

I've been letting the girls out to free range for 2-3 hours at the end of the day most days.  They seem to be very attentive to the sky and have been avoiding aerial predators thus far.  It's funny.  If I go out to the coop early in the day, the girls might line up to greet me, but for the most part, they don't pay me much attention.  But if I go out anytime after about 5:30 p.m., they start pacing in front of the door, hopping over each other when they get in each others' way.  The girls can tell time, and they know they're going to be let out.

Oh, those silly birds have brought so much joy and laughter into my life.  I'm grateful to have them.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Another thing that annoys me

Or maybe it just puzzles me?  I guess it depends on my mood when the situation presents itself.

So, as you may know, I am a member of a couple of Cricut Facebook groups.  Because I'm just a teensy bit obsessed.  The same questions tend to be asked over and over in these Facebook groups, and sometimes I shake my head and scroll past, because if you are a member of one of these groups for more than 5 minutes, you will have already seen the answer to your question, and sometimes I attempt to give a useful answer.

But here is one I do not understand.  Someone will post a picture of something she has already made, something that was specifically requested by a customer and is personalized for that customer.  And that someone will ask, "how much would you charge for this?"



Isn't that something that you should have discussed, and agreed upon, with the customer before you started working on their personalized project that you are never, ever going to be able to sell to someone else if the customer decides she doesn't want to pay the price you set?

I don't get it.  I really don't.

* * * * *
Speaking of Cricut, you may have noticed I didn't post a brag post last week.  Or this week.  That's because I was stuck.  I'm still kind of a little mentally stuck.  I've got this shadow box that I told you about.

I thought this was the perfect blank for my Throw Kindness Like Confetti sign.  I mean, there's "confetti" right in there.

So I took it apart and took the word off the glass (Hubby didn't even bat an eye when I asked him where the razor blades were), and I painted the backdrop with about 80 bajillion coats to cover those words, ending with a lovely ombre effect.

But then I couldn't decide whether I wanted to just put the same (blue) sequins back in, or put multi-colored sequins in, or put actual confetti in.

And yes, I absolutely could have cut and applied the vinyl words while I was deciding, but I couldn't.  I just...couldn't.  That happens to me sometimes.  I just get stuck and can't move forward, and not only with creative endeavors.

So here's what I did.  The other day, when practice was changed, yet again, leaving us with a morning when all of us were home (except the Hubby), I made a list of chores, and told everyone to choose 5.  One of those chores was "help mom decide on confetti."  And MC, my child who has the most difficulty with decision making, claimed it. 

He, without hesitation, told me I should use the multi-colored sequins.  I was kind of shocked, to be honest, not about the decision itself, but by the confidence and authority with which it was made.  I wish all of MC's decisions could be like this.

And I...remained in my inertia.  Maybe today will be the day.

* * * * *
And in the same vein, let me tell you about a couple of projects I've done in the past few weeks.

(Can we just stop to acknowledge and appreciate how beautiful this background is?  I love this view)

I made football earrings!  Aren't they cute?  I don't even wear earrings (although I did get one in the other day, and I'm sure I could have gotten the other one in if I had been looking in a mirror)!  So if you want some football earrings, let me know (yes, I am willing to ship these)!

I also made a decal for MC's water bottle with his number cut out of a football, and his name.  I'm planning on doing the same (times two and minus the name) for my water bottle as soon as Bubby gets his number.

I made some stickers to stick to my finished projects with my craft email and phone number on it.  You know, just in case someone wants to get ahold of me to make something for them.

And Bubby and I made a sign for his buddy's birthday.  It felt a little strange, but Bubby assured me that that is what he wanted to give his friend, so we went with it.

I don't really have any imminent projects at the moment, well, besides the kindness shadow box.  I have a couple of ideas floating in and out of my head, but no immediate plans.  So hey, hit me up if you have an idea for something I should make.

And tune in next time for more thoughts that are flitting through my brain.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

This is going to be all over the place

Hi friends.  I've had a lot of thoughts running through my head lately, and just your luck--you get to hear about them.  Yay!  So this post is going to be a little all over the place, because that's how my brain is right now.  All. Over. the Place.

The other day I was feeling annoyed because a change in practice schedule meant that I needed to have two people in two places at once.  But then I remembered that three and four years ago, it would have been three people and four places, with one of those places being a half hour drive away. 

That's when I realized that the real reason I'm annoyed is because the schedule seems so uncertain.  We got a paper schedule in June.  And I made plans based on that schedule.  And then I looked at the online schedule and it's different.  Like, completely different.  And sometimes, the online schedule is not only different from the paper schedule, but it contradicts itself.  Like, it'll say practice is at this time at this place and it will say practice is at this time at that place.  Same time; different places.  Oh, and I would say that probably about 10% of practices so far have actually been at a time and place and day that was on one of the schedules.

I realize that plans change--that it's unreasonable to expect that a schedule published in June would be exactly adhered to in August.  But it seems to me like it would be easy to communicate changes in a timely manner.  Like maybe a weekly email saying here's the schedule for this week--we'll let you know if anything changes.  So that if I, for instance, schedule a photography session on a Wednesday when there isn't practice, and then it turns out there actually is practice, I can let the photographer know more than 4 hours in advance that we're not going to make it.

As it stands, I have no idea today what the proposed schedule is for tomorrow.  My life does not revolve around this sport (although heaven knows, it does, for some parents).  I need to do things other than getting my kid to and from practices at random times each day, and it would make life so. much. easier if I knew when I would be able to fit those other things in.  Ugh.

I think the problem is, the coaches, they've been doing this forever.  They probably even have some reason for scheduling practices when they do.  But they don't realize that, for at least half of us, this is our first time.  We don't know why.  And even for those of us for whom it is not the first time, it is certainly not our 15th or 8th or 22nd.

Annoyed.  I try really hard to be a go with the flow person, but in my heart, I am a person who really, really likes to have a plan, and who really, really dislikes not having a plan.  It is easier for me (still not easy, but easier) to change plans than it is to not have a plan in the first place.  And it is (obviously, because I've been going on about this for a couple of hundred words now) really difficult for me to deal with not knowing if there even is a plan.

Just tell me the plan!  Please.  As soon as possible.  So I can react accordingly.

Fortunately, with school beginning soon, they can't really change the schedule too much.  I'm looking forward to that.

Well.  Would you look at that?  That seems like it's long enough to be its own blog post.  Turns out this post is not going to be all over the place.  That seems a little bit of false advertising.

Thank you for forgiving me.  I'll make it up to you tomorrow, or maybe next week, or next month, when I share one or more additional random thoughts with you! Don't you just love how specific I am?!  It's a plan.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Menu plan for the week of August 12

Hi friends.  I'm taking life day by day.  I'm reminded of Lisa from  She talks about how she divides her year into 3 parts: September - December, January - April, and May-August.  For those of us who have school-aged children, it makes sense.  Even for those who don't, it makes a certain kind of sense.  I mean, January is obvious--it's the beginning of a new year.  May is the beginning of summer, which has a different vibe from the rest of the year, and it seems like lots of things, not just school, start up in September.  So Lisa divides her year into these three parts, and she says she always starts the year-part super organized, and ends it super disorganized.  She says it's just the nature of life.  That is definitely how I'm feeling right now.  Disorganized.

I'm probably actually more organized than I feel, but my brain feels haphazard and scattered.  I feel like I must be missing things.  Important things.  And that bothers me.  I hate missing things*.  I'm feeling ok about it, though, because I figure if I do miss something, I wouldn't be the first mama to do that.   Plus, I've got my eye on the prize of September.  I will magically feel more organized and more in control once that calendar flip occurs. *snigger*

Both of the football players are in practice this week, for a total of 5 evenings at supper time.  So I've begun the annual ponderance of meals that are portable and/or can be eaten in shifts.  As always, please share if you have ideas for me!

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


  • Alice Springs chicken (Outback copycat?  I've never heard of it, but it looked really good), broccoli/cauliflower/carrots
  • Fend for yourself
  • Meat sauce with angel hair or zoodles, green beans, garlic toast
  • Club sandwiches, carrots
  • Shepherd's pie, applesauce, bread & butter
  • Hot dogs or brats, buns, jello, carrots, chips
  • Grilled pork chops, brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes and gravy

I don't know.  I barely had enough brain power to come up with supper ideas, and I'm not in any way confident that I'll make all, or even most, of those.

* Never mind the fact that I haven't missed anything yet.  I feel like I must be, which creates a constant low level on anxiety.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

This week's Cricut brag post

Look at those cute pudgy toes :)
 The chickens fell off my toenails, so I decided to do bears.  Except I cut them a little too big.  I measured, I promise.  Not sure where I went wrong.  Remind me to set the largest dimension at no more than 1/2 inch from now on, 'kay?  Also, what should I put on my toenails next time?

I finally obtained a canvas to try the reverse canvas technique.  Basically, you tear the canvas off, finish the frame (I stained this one, but you could paint it), decorate the canvas (lots of people use heat transfer vinyl, but I used regular permanent vinyl and ran a hot iron over it to get it to adhere better), and then reattach the canvas to the back of the frame.
Canvas, walnut stain, silver gray and sky blue permanent vinyl
I'm so pleased with how it turned out.  I love the colors and the fonts and the sentiment, and the friend for whom I made it.  I definitely need to make more with that gorgeous silver gray color (and the blue, too).

 black apple barrel paint on a pine board, silver gray oracal 651
 Speaking of that gorgeous silver gray color, this is a sign my friend asked me to make so she could give it as a housewarming gift.

I decided to go for it on the chicken mandala.  I'm not going to say I wasn't intimidated.

It turned out not to be as difficult as I'd feared.  I lost a few of the small pieces in weeding, but they were all around the edge, so their absence wasn't very noticeable.  I was also very frustrated by the depth of the cut--the cut depth made it very difficult to get the small pieces of vinyl off their backing and on to the transfer paper, but with a lot of painstaking effort, I finally got it.

Sky blue apple barrel paint on a pine board, black EV51 permanent vinyl
Anyway, it was worth the angst, because I love it, and I'm sure the girls will appreciate some new decor.   

Here's my next project.  Can you guess what it will be?

I'll give you a hint.  Also, that paint was a royal pain to get off the glass.  All worth it, though...

If you'd like to talk to me about a custom sign or mug or anything else, really, feel free to email me.  I'm definitely willing to ship!

Monday, August 5, 2019

Garden Update, week 8

I feel like my garden is so far behind this year!  Probably because it is.  I didn't plant until June--I would blame the unusually cool weather we had in May and early June, but the actual reason is I just didn't get to it.

Anyway, not much is happening in the garden, but it's still fun to go out and see what's new.

Most exciting this week (for me, anyway) was the emergence of female patty pan squash flowers.

 This is a picture before the flower was even fertilized.  The ovary is huge!  I'm really looking forward to harvesting and eating these fruits.

 Our sunflowers continue to grow.  The tallest one is almost taller than me, now (photo bomb by Koko and Toasty).

 You can see the immature, unfertilized seeds in the seed head.  Well, you can't, but if you were here, looking at it in person, you could.

 A couple of the zinnias have bloomed.  Remind me that we need more zinnias next year.

 I fed Hubby a nasturtium the other day.  He was skeptical, but he ate it.

 The big beefs continue to grow, and the yellow spots continue to spread.  I'm crossing my fingers I'll be able to harvest some (hopefully most) of these!

 We have a watermelon, shown here nestled against a strawberry leaf.  So exciting!  Then again, we've had watermelons before, but they've never made it to harvest.  There were another two, and I was so happy to see them, until I noticed that the vine they were on had been bitten off the plant.  So sad.

 Something also bit through quite a few of my pole bean plants, about 6 inches up from the ground.  The purple beans haven't been affected (so far), so hopefully we'll get quite a few beans still.  It is strange, though.  Based on the number of flowers I've been seeing, I would think we would have lots and lots of beans by now.

I thought my itty bitty baby lemon cucumbers had a touch of blossom end rot, so I gave them a bit of supplemental calcium.  Now I'm thinking maybe that's just the way they look after they're fertilized, with the spent bloom covering the whole blossom end.  In any case, the calcium won't do any harm. 

And I think that's it.  What's growing in your garden?

Thursday, August 1, 2019


Have you been waiting for this week's Cricut brag post?  I don't have one.  I thought I was going to be too busy to Cricut last week, but it turns out I was actually too busy to Cricut this week.  I do have something sorta Cricut related to talk about, though.

I'm a member of a couple of Cricut Facebook groups.  It's a lot of people asking for advice on projects they're doing, wondering where to get a certain svg or font, and showing off their finished products.  Almost every one of the brag posts starts with something like, "I know it's not perfect, but..."

It's starting to bother me.  A lot.  Even though I think I've done it myself.  Because of course it's not perfect.  Being humans, it is beyond our ability to do anything perfectly.  We're not God.  When did we decide that it's not ok to be proud of something unless it's perfect?  When did we decide that perfection is necessary? 

Almost inevitably, someone (or many someones) will comment that they love it, that they didn't even notice the perceived imperfection.  Because that's what we do.  We are our own worst critics, not willing to accept anything less than perfection in ourselves and apologizing for what we consider to be mistakes, but we see the beauty and value in others' imperfect work.

Friends, I implore you: please, treat yourself as you would treat a friend.  When you speak to yourself, be kind and supportive and loving.  Don't expect something from yourself that you would consider unreasonable to expect in someone else.

Speaking of imperfect, I finally obtained a canvas for this reverse canvas and I tore it apart and cut the vinyl.  I'm waiting on stain for the frame, and to tell the truth, I'm a little intimidated by the transfer.  I've heard (from my Cricut FB groups) that it can be difficult to get vinyl to stick to canvas.

But I think my friend is going to love it, and I love it, too.  Already.  I definitely need to add some more of that silver-gray vinyl to my next vinyl order--it's gorgeous.

And in other news, I've received my first paid Cricut commission: a wooden sign.  Yay!  That'll be in next week's brag post :)

Oh, and let me know if you want me to make this welcome mat for you--I'll do it for cost (probably around $15).  I really want to make one, but because of our storm door, we can't have a thick mat like this at our front door.


If you'd like to talk to me about a custom sign or mug or anything else, really, feel free to email me.  I'm definitely willing to ship!
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