Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Stress baking

I don't know if y'all have noticed, but I've been stress baking.  I've always liked to bake, and there's just something so comforting about gathering ingredients and methodically following instructions to transform them into something warm and delicious.  Bread baking is one of my very favorite scents.

I brought the friendship bread starter out, which we previously established cannot really be called friendship bread, so instead we call her Shirley.  I made English muffins, of all things.  They were pretty easy.  And one of the kiddos said they actually tasted good, as opposed to the store bought ones that don't.  I hadn't known, up until that moment, that this kiddo didn't like English muffins.  This week's planned addition to the stress-baking repertoire is brookies.  That's brownies + cookies, y'all.  I say planned addition, because you know there's going to be more unplanned additions.  Probably lots more.

I mention the stress-baking thing, because you might be looking at what I'm making and thinking, wow.  She's got it so together, she can make decorated sugar cookies, and a royal icing transfer for a cake, and a cake.  She can keep a friendship bread starter alive, and make things like biscuits from it.  She can make donuts and cinnamon rolls from scratch.

All true, except for the she's got it all together part.  The baking, that's part of what's holding me together right now.  It nurtures and sustains me. I'm sure you have something like that, too.  Something that, if I knew you were doing it, I would be super impressed and think you have it all together.  Something that, however, is actually nurturing and sustaining for you, and right now feels necessary.

Y'all.  This thing is affecting us all differently.  That doesn't necessarily mean it's easier or more difficult, just different.  And just as we're all being affected differently, we're all using different means to cope.  For me, that's baking.  What is that for you?

Monday, April 27, 2020

Menu plan for the week of April 27

Hi friends.  Here I go, planning meals again.  They're a bit repetitive right now.  The menus, that is.  Thankfully, no one is complaining about it.  At least not yet.  I could eat the same thing every day for a long time--in fact, I do, for breakfast and lunch.  Not sure about those other people who live here, though.

A note on a couple of the menu items. 

We're having Italian sausage k-bobs this week, based on my very favorite sheet pan meal.  Every time we have this dish, AKD suggests that we should make it in k-bob form.  The other kiddos will probably have hot dogs, because they don't like Italian sausage all that much, and we only have a few Italian sausage links. 

I'm also making AFB granola bars this week.  I revived my starter a couple of weeks ago, and when baking day came around last week, I didn't feel like making the traditional bread, or actually, any bread at all (I made cookies).  The granola bars sounded good but, in my opinion, we didn't have a wide enough variety of mix-ins available at the time.  All the rest of the starter went into the freezer for future use, but I kept out a half cup for these. 

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


  • Meatballs, mashed potatoes, green beans, applesauce
  • Tacos
  • Pizza casserole, green beans, applesauce
  • Rice burgler
  • Hamburgers, buns, chips, grilled veggie
  • Italian sausage k-bobs (this sheet pan meal, in shish-kabob form), roasted brussels sprouts
  • Grilled chicken, salad, grilled asparagus


Friday, April 24, 2020

No chicks for me!


Funny story.  I was supposed to be spending today picking up three new chicks and getting them settled in their new home.

I ordered these chicks in February.  That's two months ago, and long before their eggs were even laid.  One would think that two months notice was plenty, and that I would be able to get the chicks I wanted.  One should know better than to count her chicks before they're hatched.

The first indication that something was amiss was a phone call from the feed store about a month ago.  They were not going to be able to get the gold laced Cochin that we ordered, but they could get us either a blue Cochin or a light Brahma.  We decided on the light Brahma, because this:

I mean, who wouldn't want these majestic creatures in their backyard flock?  I wasn't even disappointed by this turn of events. 

About a week later, another phone call.  No light Brahma for us, but would we like the blue Cochin?

OK, yes.  We already have a chicken with the blue color variation, and I was really looking forward to having a light Brahma, but this chicken will be fluffy, so we'll take it.

So all was well, mostly.  I mean, does Fluffer Nutter even make sense as a name for a gray and dark gray chicken, even if it's super fluffy?  I don't know.  But we ordered three chickens and we were going to receive three chickens, and we would love them, even if one of them wasn't our first choice.

Fast forward to Wednesday.  Yeah.  Two days ago Wednesday.  The hatchery doesn't have the blue Cochin or the Cream Legbar.  Not this week.  But they promised, guaranteed, in fact, that those two chickens would come at the end of May.  Which meant we were still going to be getting our California White today.  With no buddies.  And two more chickens in 5 weeks.  Which is not ideal.  For multiple reasons.

My good friend Brenda, whom I met two months ago, but with whom I have bonded hard over these past months, assured me that she would try to find another chicken for me so my poor CW wouldn't be alone, and she would call me Friday to pick up one or more chicks.

OK.  It's ok.  I'm ok.  Everything is O. K.  I spent Thursday adjusting my brain to the changes, and hoping that it would be two chicks that I would be picking up today.

But no.  Nope.  No chicks for me.  Brenda called this morning to let me know that my California White never shipped.  There was some kind of problem at the hatchery, she didn't make it on to the truck, and they're not allowed to ship chicks that are more than a day old.

So where does that leave us?  Well, supposedly, my California White, Americana, and Speckled Sussex will be coming next week.

Wait.  What?  Yeah.  I'm getting three chickens, only one of which I actually ordered, a week later than they were supposed to arrive.  And then. Yes, and then, four weeks later, I'll get the blue Cochin and the Cream Legbar.

I just don't even know what's happening anymore.  We're going to make it work.  Whatever it turns out to actually be.  Because now I know, from experience, that I need to not count these chicks before they hatch.

I'll keep you posted.


Here's the lineup, as it currently stands.  Yes, this, along with our current five, is too many chickens for our coop.  We'll figure it out.

Arriving May 1ish:
Charlotte, California White

Guacamole, Americana

Buttercup, Speckled Sussex

Arriving May 29ish:
Amelia Eggheart, Cream Legbar

Fluffer Nutter, Blue Cochin

Monday, April 20, 2020

Menu plan for the week of April 20

Menu planning is both easier and more difficult right now. 
Apparently, that's all I have to say about that.  You know, considering that I typed that sentence and then stared at it, doing nothing, for approximately 578 seconds. 


Here's what I've got.


  • Beef stroganoff, green beans, applesauce
  • Nachos with guacamole
  • Pancakes, bacon, eggs, fruit
  • Spaghetti, broccoli, garlic toast
  • Pizza, salad
  • Hot dogs or brats, buns, chips, raw veggies
  • Grilled steak, mashed potatoes with gravy, grilled veggie


Monday, April 13, 2020

Menu plan for the week of April 13

So.  It snowed.  That was fun.  It's probably because we both took the plastic off of the chicken coop and put the snow pants away.  Apparently, in 2019 we had a snow day on April 11, so this is not that out of the ordinary.  It's still a little jarring, though, to fall asleep in a hammock in the sun one day and be shoveling snow the next.

Because I want to avoid heading to the grocery store, I'm making some bread this week, including one variety I've never made from scratch.  I'm making rolls/hamburger buns, tortillas, garlic toast (from the French bread I made last week), and English muffins.  The English muffins are the bread I've never made before--I've planned to make English muffins, but just never actually gotten around to actually doing it.  Seems easy enough, so here we go.  I'm also making some friendship bread this week (hopefully).  My brother inspired me to get my starter going again--I've kept this starter since 2014.

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


  • Wild rice casserole, green beans, applesauce
  • Spaghetti, green beans, garlic toast
  • Sausage and egg sandwiches, fruit
  • Tacos
  • Hamburgers, buns, jello, chips, broccoli
  • Pizza, salad
  • Grilled pork chops, mashed potatoes, broccoli


Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Our Free Trial

In the interests of finishing my watch-all-Star-Wars-movies-in-timeline-order goal, and in acknowledgement that my primary method of consuming movies (the library) is closed right now, I signed up for a free one week trial of Disney+.  We've made great progress on the Star Wars goal, and now we only have three films left (I think?  I don't have my list here right now and it is too much work to look it up and filter through all those millions of results again).

We're not watching those final three right now because Hubby is watching along with us, and someone has to work around here, and also, the third of those three isn't available yet.  In the meantime, I asked the kiddos if there was anything available from Disney+ that they wanted to watch, and MC said he'd like to watch Marvel.

So we're watching Marvel in release order.  We're up to Iron Man 3.  Y'all, I admit that I am not paying very close attention, but these movies don't make a whole lot of sense.  There's a whole lot of people stabbing and shooting each other and blowing things up, and not a lot of story.  Why do people like these movies?

AKD tells me that the Marvel universe makes more sense if the movies are watched in timeline order.  He also said that you kind of have to watch them twice to actually be able to follow the story.

I am not watching these again.

I do like Tony Starks' house in this one.  Well, until it got destroyed about 10 minutes in.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Menu plan for the week of April 6

Hi friends.  How are you doing?  I haven't been sleeping well, which, along with all this togetherness, makes me more vulnerable to impatience, so I've been having to do a lot of taking of deep breaths lately. 

I don't know if y'all have noticed, but we're eating a lot of broccoli and green beans these days.  That's because I canned 3 dozen pints of green beans last summer, and I stocked up on broccoli before I started limiting my errands to once a week or less (although, honestly, I mostly limited my errands to once a week before this).  I thought it would take us years to use up those green beans--yet another hidden blessing.

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


  • Shepherd's pie, applesauce, rolls
  • Nachos with guacamole
  • French toast (I made French bread using this recipe), sausage patties, fruit
  • Spaghetti, garlic toast (I'll use the leftover French bread, if there is any), broccoli
  • Pizza, salad
  • Hot dogs or brats, buns, jello, chips, green beans
  • Ham, mashed potatoes with gravy, broccoli


  • Muffins
  • Taco pasta salad (for Hubby & AKD's lunches)

Thursday, April 2, 2020

12/20 for 2020

It's April, friends, which means it's time for another 20 for 2020 update.  I'm still plugging along on my goals, although I kind of lost momentum when my kiddos and hubby all started working and schooling from home.  It's strange to go from pretty much being alone all day every day to suddenly having four other humans in your space all.the.time.  It threw me off my game a bit.

Anyway, here are the first twelve of my 20 for 2020 goals:
  1. Make sauerkraut
  2. Grow an amaryllis. Well, it didn't grow the way amaryllis usually does, but the amaryllis found a way.  There are shoots coming up on three sides of the bulb and from the center.
  3. Drink tea.
  4. Make cloth napkins for more seasons.
  5. Track something.
  6. Buy a statement necklace.
  7. Make a box to sit on our toilet tank.  
  8. Make a particular wooden sign for a friend.  I did it!  And I gave it to her, so now I can show you!

  9. Make mayonnaise.
  10. Make maple syrup.  Isn't it beautiful?  This year's syrup season seemed particularly ... not really difficult, but ... fraught with issues.  Right now, I don't see myself doing this again.  Maybe I'll remember this feeling the next time I get the urge to make syrup.
  11. Watch the Star Wars movies in timeline order.  I don't think I had ever seen any of them besides Episodes IV, V, and VI.  That is a travesty.  We've watched up through Rogue One, but the library isn't circulating materials right now, so I'm not sure when we'll be able to continue.  We might have to bite the bullet and sign up for Disney+.  The free trial, of course.
  12. Start seeds indoors.  I did it.  I planted carrots and radishes the other day.  And I promptly forgot which veggie variety was in which container.  No worries--I'll be able to tell once they sprout.  While my intent with this goal was to start seeds for later transplanting, I decided that planting seeds in containers indoors was close enough.  I have the dates in my calendar to plant seeds for transplanting, too.

Here are three goals I plan to work on in April:
  1. Finish or decide to abandon that darn puzzle.  We've had it, and it's been in progress, for 5 or 6 years.
  2. Make and install towel hooks/shelf in the bathroom.  I wonder how many more months I will intend to work on this goal.  It does seem a bit pointless to work on it right now because then I'll have to store it for months while I first brood chicks, and then paint the bathroom. 
  3. Make a reusable bag out of a chicken feed sack 

And here is the list of potential goals, which is finally decreasing in length:
  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. Can apple pie filling
  20. Remove a popcorn ceiling
  21. Wash outside windows
  22. Grow and can pickles
  23. Obtain a working sewing machine
  24. 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.
  25. New floor.  It's time.  It's past time.
  26. 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.
  27. Plant something new .  I ordered some seeds!  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!
  28. Stencil a welcome mat.  Because our storm door opens outward and is very close to the porch surface, we won't be able to actually use the welcome mat at our own house, but I really want to try the technique.
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