Monday, March 30, 2020

Menu plan for the week of March 30

Have you been to a grocery store lately?  Yeah.  Me neither.  And yet, we continue to eat: a situation for which I am grateful. 

You know, I was a little concerned that we would, yet again, not finish up our homemade applesauce before applesauce season came around again, but with AKD home from school, and me not hitting the grocery store as often, we have a good chance of eating it up. This is what we call a COVID-19 hidden blessing.  Have you experienced any hidden blessings as a result of sheltering in place?

Here's what we're planning for this week.



Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Check in and menu post for the week of March 23

Hi friends.  How are you?

Now, how are you *really*?

Seriously, y'all.  What a strange time.  For weeks, I've been feeling like there's a tidal wave coming at us in slow motion, and we don't know when, exactly, it'll get here, or how bad, exactly, it'll be, or how long, exactly, it'll last, or even how to tell that it's arrived, but we just know that it's coming and it's threatening to overtake us.

We are well.  Mostly.  I mean, I think so.  Tomorrow, our state's governor is planning to sign a Safer at Home order, which is just a gentle and hopefully-strong-enough, but also not-panic-inducing, way to tell people to stay home, already.  Frankly, I think some people need a little more panic in their lives.  Not actual panic panic, but enough panic to realize that this is serious business.

Since all of us are home indefinitely, I wish I had a space where I could close the door--a place to which I could retreat and regroup--but with a very open floor plan, and 5 people for 4 bedrooms, there isn't a place for me.  Everyone's schedule has been disrupted, of course, but of the five of us, I think I, more than any of us, needs personal space, and time without people.  I've been doing some thinking on this issue, and here's what I've come up with for retreat spots:

  • The master bathroom.  I could put all of the decorative pillows that are usually on our bed in our double jetted tub to make a comfy reading nook.  Advantage: I'd have running water and a toilet right there.  Disadvantage: people might want to use the bathroom for its intended purpose.
  • The car.  It's actually pretty comfy in there.  The front seats recline and the back seats can be folded down or removed.  Disadvantage: it might be cold this time of year, and it'll be dark if I leave it parked in the garage.
  • A hammock outside.  It snowed last night, but this could work.  Disadvantage: people could very easily find me, especially if I return to the hammock regularly.  Also, it's a little cold right now, but I could bundle up and/or bring my sleeping bag with me.  Advantage: it would be comfy, and being outside would be good for my mental well-being.
  • The utility room.  It has a door, and people hardly ever go in there.  Advantage: there's food.  Disadvantage: the food is frozen and/or raw.  But there is a microwave in there.  Not plugged in, but that's easily remedied.  Also, there isn't any comfy furniture, and the lighting is depressing.
  • The chicken coop.  It's kind of small, and I run the risk of being pooped upon, but it does have a door that I can close.
I've been feeling it in my body--this tension, the not knowing.  The concern, not necessarily for myself, but for the others.  The others who are vulnerable and know it.  The others who feel invincible, and are putting themselves and others at risk.  The others who already felt isolated and now are even more so.  The others who have lost their jobs, and may lose their homes as well.  The others who may lose their small businesses.  The others who are working so hard to keep essential services going.  The others who are caring for the sick.

Friends, I know that we're going to get through this, and we will be better, stronger.  I know that my trust is in God, and the assurance that God wins.  I don't mean to be trite or overly simplistic, but y'all.  This is the only way I can move forward.  

Anyway, what are you eating?  Here's what's on our menu this week:
  • Pasties with gravy, broccoli, corn, applesauce
  • Nachos with taco toppings and guacamole
  • Sausage and egg sandwiches, fresh fruit, raw veggies
  • Corned beef and Brussels sprout saute, rolls, applesauce
  • Pizza, salad
  • Hot dogs and brats, buns, chips, raw veggies
  • Grilled steak, roasted asparagus, oven fries

Monday, March 16, 2020

Menu plan for the week of March 16

I'm going grocery shopping today.  I have a list, but I'm not sure what I'll find.  Last week, when I grocery shopped on Monday, everything seemed normal.  It was a little busier than I'm used to, but I attributed that to it being later in the day than I normally shop.  In the week since then, I've heard stories and seen pictures of empty grocery store shelves.  Tomorrow, I'll see for myself.

Regardless of what I find or don't find tomorrow, I am certain of this: God will provide. God always provides.  Now, it's true, sometimes God provides in ways that we weren't expecting or ways that we wouldn't have chosen.  Sometimes it doesn't feel like God is providing.  Sometimes God doesn't provide what we want or what we think we need, but what we actually need. 

So we'll see, my friends. Today, and tomorrow, and every day, we will trust.  And we will see God's loving care for my family.

8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9

Have you ever heard that Yiddish proverb?  Man plans and God laughs?  Here's the menu plan for the week.


  • Tacos with taco toppings
  • Fend for yourself
  • Pancakes, eggs, bacon
  • Spaghetti, garlic toast, green beans
  • Pizza
  • Hamburgers, buns, chips, raw veggies/salad
  • Pork chops, mashed potatoes, gravy, grilled green veggie

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Chicken update and new babies on the way

Saturday was the Littles' 2nd hatch day.  As often happens with younger children, their special day passed without fanfare.  It was on the calendar, but did I look at the calendar?  No.  Not until it was too late.  Whoops.  Anyway, it's been a while, so I thought it was time for a chicken update.

We've entered swamp season in the coop.  Melting snow has made it quite wet in there.  This year, we don't have standing water, at least, and the snow is almost gone, so we're probably not going to.  Still, it's wet in the run, and because it's wet, it's also a bit stinky.  It's an awkward time of year for footwear.  It's definitely muddy enough that I want to have my chicken boots on, but there's still enough ice around the coop and on my path to the coop, that I want to wear boots with a little more traction.  Usually the chicken boots win.

I've been sending the girls out to play just about every afternoon.  At first, they were reluctant to walk the 20 feet or so on snow to get to the cleared ground, so I set up a couple of logs as a bridge for them to walk along so they wouldn't have to walk in snow. 

A couple of weeks ago, enough snow had melted that they were able to walk along the northern perimeter of the yard to get over the the garden and climbing wall area, but then they forgot how to get back to the coop. 

Koko is the most sensible, so she just walked across the snow (I'm really bad at estimating distances, but 20 yards or so?  Too far to fly), Toasty followed her, but got stuck in some deeper snow under the trampoline frame.  I led Rocky and Esther to safety around the perimeter, but Indigo decided to go it on her own and flew in three great bounds over to the fire pit, about halfway across the yard, and had to be rescued.  Indigo is not fond of being picked up or carried, but we reached a tentative truce that day--she seemed to know that she wasn't going to be able to get out of that situation by herself.

All five of the girls have resumed laying after their molts and winter, although they are not yet laying consistently.  Still, it's been thrilling to find eggs in the nest box again.  They are getting "older," so I expect production to decrease--peak egg production is generally between 1-2 years of age.

In other chicken news, Bubby and I ordered new chicks the other day.  They're supposed to arrive around April 23--it kind of blows my mind that their eggs haven't even been laid yet.  I'm a bit reluctant to receive the birds that late in the season, because I want them to be old enough to begin laying before the cold weather sets in, but that's the date that was available.  It's about 3 weeks earlier in the year than I got the Bigs, so maybe it'll be ok.

Bubby decided that he wanted a Cochin, which is a larger breed that's super fluffy and has feathered feet and five toes (most chickens have 4).  He plans to name her Fluffer-Nutter (anyone else remember fluffer-nutters?).  He chose the gold laced coloration.

We also ordered a California White, which is a cross between the white leghorn (leghorns are the chickens commercial egg producers use--if you're eating a white egg that you bought at a store, it's from a leghorn) and the California gray.  It's heavier, and therefore less flighty, than white leghorns, but is still a prolific egg layer.  I wanted white eggs in my egg basket, and I chose this breed because it's friendly and cold hardy, but still a good layer.

And our third new chick will be a Cream Legbar.  I've wanted one of these ever since I heard of their existence, because they are one of the few breeds that lays blue, and only blue, eggs (there are a few breeds that might lay blue eggs, but they could also lay other colors).  Cream Legbars are interesting looking, too--I love the little poof on their heads, too.

We're looking for names for the California White and the Cream Legbar, so drop your suggestions below.  Bonus points if they don't start with E, F, I, K, R or T and/or are a really good pun.

Next time we order chickens (yes, we're already planning our next purchase.  We would have gotten one more this time, but I think our coop is maxed out for space with 8), I would like to get a Welsummer.  They lay dark brown eggs with speckles.  Speckles!

I think that's all I have to say about chickens right now.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Menu plan for the week of March 9

Friends, thank you so much for your menu suggestions last week.  We liked everything, and I think we might have found a couple of new favorite recipes to add to our rotation.  I won't do it every week, but I think I might have you all plan our menu for us more often.

As I type, I'm boiling down the box elder sap--the windows are open, and it smells maple-y.  It lifts my spirits.  I'm 8 gallons in, with another to go, and the weather is warm enough that this might be the end of the sap run.  That's totally ok.  If we get a quart of syrup, that's plenty for us.

Speaking of plenty for us, I have toilet paper in my Sam's Club pick-up-in-store cart, and over the past week, I've been watching it go out of stock and then back in, briefly, before going out of stock again.  This is happening, of course, because people are stocking up in case they need to quarantine themselves.  I can definitely understand the desire to not run out of toilet paper.  I mean, I don't ever want to run out of toilet paper, myself.  I know there are alternatives, but I'm not fond of them.  At all.  But I don't understand needing to buy out the store shelves.

Hubby and I were talking about it, briefly, and he said he didn't think toilet paper was essential.  Yes, he actually said that.  Probably because, number 1 (no pun intended), he's a boy, and number 2 (definitely no pun intended) he would not have to deal with the aftermath of the people in this household using non-toilet paper for toilet paper purposes (for example, cleaning washcloths, or unclogging toilets if people decided to flush items that are not supposed to be flushed).

Anyway, we're fine for toilet paper right now.  We've got some under each of our bathroom sinks, and some in storage.  But we're definitely down to the point where I want to replenish our supply, and normally would replenish our supply, and I can't.  Because everyone* else is going crazy.

And on that cheery and totally appropriate note, here's what's on the menu this week:


*OK, not everyone, but enough to impact TP supply.

Friday, March 6, 2020


I finally watched Overcomer last month.  I was already bawling just watching the previews, 'cause it's just that kind of movie.  If you haven't seen it, I do recommend it. 

At one point, the female lead was encouraged to read Ephesians 1 & 2, and to write down everything that God says about her in those two chapters, using "I am" statements.  I thought, that's a good idea, and so about a week later, I read chapter one. 

Y'all.  Seriously, even though I had watched it being done in the movie, I was not prepared for how it would feel to write those I am statements.  It was like reading a love letter.  I recommend this, too.

Anyway, Ephesians 1 contains a bunch of wonderful affirmations, but the one that stood out to me the most was in verse 13(b): "Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit."

I am sealed.

I had heard this before, and I had always thought of the seal as it's described, as a mark, identifying me as belonging to God.  Kings would affix their seals to proclamations to signify their approval.  Letter writers would attach their seal to prove the letter was legitimate.  Those are the things I have associated with being marked with God's seal. 

But, I've been doing a lot of sealing lately, which has given me a new perspective.  When I make wooden signs, I seal them to protect them. You can still see the wood underneath, but it's protected from damage.  And the right kind of sealer on a project can really make the characteristics of the piece shine out.  It makes the piece more dimensional, deeper.

I love that picture of me being sealed, by God, against the storms and pressures of life.  They're still there, all the temptations, all the sadness, all the harm, but I... I am protected by that God-seal, and made more beautiful because of it.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

9/20 for 2020

Y'all!  I am totally rocking this 20 for 2020 list.  Like, completely crushing it.  We are only about 1/6 through the year, and I have already accomplished 45% of my goals.  I have to say, I am really appreciating the fact that I didn't commit to all twenty goals at once.  I am loving the flexibility that I have to look at the list each month and decide what I want to accomplish short term.

Here are the first nine of my 20 for 2020 goals:
  1. Make sauerkraut. I did it!  Truthfully, it still tastes like salty cabbage to me, or at least it did when I put it in the refrigerator--I haven't eaten any since.
  2. Grow an amaryllis. I think I need to change this goal to: attempt to grow an amaryllis.  I don't know if it's too cold by the window or I've been giving it too much water, but I've got zero growth.  I moved it away from the window to the tiny piece of countertop between the fridge and the stove.  It's warmer there.
  3. Drink tea.  I did it!  I drank tea.  And I'm going to do it again.
  4. Make cloth napkins for more seasons.  Valentine's napkins, so far.  I was hoping to find something flowery or springy or Eastery, too, but all of the ones I liked had prominent white in the patterns.  It's all fun and games until someone wipes taco juice on a white napkin.  I'll keep looking.  We already had fall/Thanksgiving and Christmas/winter napkins, along with a generic, anytime pattern, and a summery pattern.
  5. Track something.  I added this to the list, and I started tracking two somethings, because I'm an overachiever like that.  And then I realized that I already track something (egg production).  Winning!
  6. Buy a statement necklace. A friend of mine hosted a Trades of Hope party, and I found the necklace I've been looking for for the past 3 years, made by an artisan in India.  Yay!
  7. Make a box to sit on our toilet tank.  I attempted to do this last year, but the box was too big.  I tried again, and I love it.  Since it's made out of pallet wood, it's a little wonky, but it is beautiful and just the right size.
  8. Make a particular wooden sign for a friend.  I did it!  I just can't show it to you yet, because it's a surprise.
  9. Make mayonnaise.
My box.  It's a little wonky because I used pallet wood, but I love how it turned out.  It's perfectly sized, and has a rustic feel.  Now, of course, I need to get serious about painting this bathroom.

Here are three goals I plan to work on in March:
  1. Make maple syrup.  I tapped the trees over the weekend, and the sap is flowing.
  2. Make and install towel hooks/shelf in the bathroom.  I have the hooks.  I have the wood.  I bought a jig.  It needs to happen.  The installation portion of this goal will probably take place after the bathroom is painted, which will happen after we brood a new batch of chicks beginning in late April.
  3. Make a reusable bag out of a chicken feed sack 

And here is the list of potential goals:
  1. Crochet a cowl
  2. Crochet a poncho
  3. Make a reusable bag out of a chicken feed sack (this, and the other sewing-related potential goals, are complicated by the fact that my kiddo just declared my sewing machine officially not-worth-fixing.  I am definitely not up for handsewing this, or anything, in 2020).
  4. Make reusable food wrap
  5. Make a pretty apron (I would have to find a pattern I like first.  Also, a sewing machine)
  6. Make lip balm
  7. Make soap
  8. Make a console table/thing to keep the step stool from dinging our wall.
  9. Make a frame for the B
  10. String art
  11. Install pallet wall
  12. Install gallery wall (we had a gallery wall, but there was just something off about it.  I was never happy with it.  Too symmetrical, maybe.  Or the frames were too close together.  Or maybe too big or too small in scale for the wall.  So I'm afraid to try again, lest I not like it again.  I think a gallery would look better on the wall we're intending to palletisize (absolutely a word), but I don't know if I will want to cover up so much of that wall).
  13. Light an outdoor tree (there is a sledding hill between our house and the tree I want to light, so I'm not sure it'll work.  Either there will be an extension cord that we will have to avoid while sledding, or the lights will have to be solar or battery powered, which, of course, would drive up the cost of this project).
  14. Go to a movie by myself (not sure what's coming in 2020, but there's bound to be at least one movie that I want to see, but no one else in my family wants to see).
  15. Hang the W (MC made a beautiful wooden W sign that needs hanging).
  16. Repair moose pillows
  17. Log 50 activities on Strava
  18. Finish or decide to abandon that darn puzzle
  19. Make maple syrup
  20. Can apple pie filling
  21. Remove a popcorn ceiling
  22. Wash outside windows
  23. Grow and can pickles
  24. Obtain a working sewing machine
  25. Make and install towel hooks/shelf in the bathroom.  I have the hooks.  I think I probably have the wood (I need to go through the stack of pallet wood to see if I have a combination of sizes that will add up to the size I want).  It needs to happen.  Now it's just a question of how long it'll take for me to actually take action.
  26. New floor.  It's time.  It's past time.
  27. Watch the Star Wars movies in timeline order.  I don't think I've ever seen any of them besides Episodes IV, V, and VI.  That is a travesty.
  28. Make a cast iron skillet handle cover.  Cast iron skillets are excellent for cooking because they heat so evenly.  Unfortunately, the even heat means the handle gets hot, too.  I'll be making a heat-resistant handle cover.
  29. & 30. Plant something new and start seeds indoors.  I ordered some seeds!  And they've been shipped!  Imagine a fruit that looks like, and has the texture of, a granny smith apple, but tastes like honeydew.  That's what I'm growing!  And starting indoors.  I also grabbed a small watermelon and a beet variety.  So fun!

Monday, March 2, 2020

Menu plan for the week of March 2

Whoa.  March, already.

You may have noticed that I am fond of decluttering.  I am so enamored of decluttering that sometimes I wonder how we have anything left in our house.  The answer, of course, is that there are 3, sometimes 4, other people living here, and I don't declutter their stuff, at least not without their permission. 

Anyway, I'm pretty good at decluttering as I move through life.  If I see something that doesn't need to be in my life anymore, I remove it from my home right then. I have decided, however, to participate in a "Clean Out Challenge," hosted by  I thought it would be a fun way to focus my decluttering efforts in areas that I might not always think about.  Check it out--I'd love for you to join me.

Speaking of joining me, last week, I asked y'all to help plan my menu, and you came through for me!  Thank you, friends!  My absolute favorite suggestion was from my nephew.  We're having it on Wednesday. 

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


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