Thursday, March 22, 2018

Two week chick update

Our new chicks have been home now for two weeks.  Oh, how time flies.  And chicks do, too.  Both Hazel and Indigo have made it to perches on top of the feeder and waterer, and Indigo attempted (and failed) to make it out of the brooder.  Koko likes to fly straight up, in the corner.  I'm not sure what's she's expecting to happen.

Indigo.  Seconds later, she made a break for the top of the brooder.  She *almost* made it.
This week we put the screen on top of the brooder to prevent escapees, which I think is earlier than last year.  But I was just reading last year's two week chick update, and apparently those chicks were flying and escaping at two weeks, too.  I also added a "hat" to the waterer, to keep the chicks from using it as a stepping stone.

These chicks are so messy!  I changed that water about 10 minutes before the picture was taken, and there were already pine shavings in it.  Because of this, I'll be working on setting up a nipple waterer for the chicks this week.

I did not put a hat on the feeder (soon), but I did have a brilliant idea regarding the feeder.  Last years' chicks were constantly knocking their feeder over when they got to be around 5 weeks old, so I decided to bungee cord the feeder into a corner of the brooder this time.

Except I wasn't sure where Hubby hides the bungee cords, so I used an elastic hair band.  There are paperclips holding it in place on the outside of the brooder.

I did a little redecorating in the brooder.  I hung the mirror, which up until then had been propped up in a corner.  The chicks are obsessed with this mirror.  I think they think it's a window and there are more chicks on the other side.

Koko, Indigo, Hazel
This is the corner Koko likes to fly up in.
 I saw Indigo taking a dust bath in the pine shavings the other day, so I added a dust bath, and of course I had to put it by the mirror.  I tell ya, it was an adventure getting that dirt.  The ground is frozen, even though our daytime temps have been above freezing lately (except Tuesday.  Tuesday was a cold(er) day).  There is some non-frozen ground, but it's muddy.  I thought I could just take some dirt from the chicken run, but it's pretty wet, too.  I ended up taking this dirt from the big girls' dust bath, which, to my knowledge, they haven't used all winter.  Of course, when I started taking dirt out, they immediately decided they wanted to take a bath in it.

Hazel dust bathing, and Koko "helping"

The dust bath serves triple purposes.  The first, of course, is to bathe in.  The second is to provide grit to help them grind up food.  And the third is to expose them to Coccidiosis, so they can begin to build immunity.

Koko is the smallest of the chicks, and she is a busy bird.  She digs and races around with her wings flapping and then digs some more.  She digs and flaps and runs with gusto.  She also likes to stand up tall and flap her wings.  And fly up in corners.  This is in direct contrast Austro, who was always very calm, and was one of the bigger chicks.

Indigo seems to be doing everything first.  First to fly up to the top of the waterer.  First to attempt an escape.  First to take a bath.  She's also very vocal, always peeping away.

Hazel is still the biggest--she's twice as big as Koko.  It seems crazy to me that they're the same age.  It also seems crazy that Koko is supposed to be bigger than Hazel when they reach maturity.  She's pretty sweet and even tempered.  Except when she's stepping on Koko in the dust bath.  She seems to be the friendliest, which isn't saying much, since these chicks scatter at pretty much anything.  I've noticed some comb development on both Hazel and Indigo.

Koko, perching on Bubby's hand, with Indigo in the background

In other news, I collected three eggs on Monday.  Esther lays green.

Rocky, Toasty, Esther.  Finally.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Menu plan for the week of March 19

It's spring this week, friends!  Of course, we still have up to 6 inches of snow on the ground in spots, but hey.  The calendar says it's spring, so we can just ignore the fact that it looks like it's not.

My favorite breakfast lately has been a one-egg omelet with bacon, cheddar cheese and guacamole.  So yummy.  Mmmm.  However, there has been an unfortunate lack of guacamole around here lately.  I'm hoping to fix that early this week, because guacamole = happiness. 

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



Sunday, March 18, 2018

Chick update 1 week-ish

You guys!  I am so late with the 1 week chick update.  I considered just waiting until Thursday, and making it a 2 week update, and I'm sure you all would have been fine with that, but.  Well.  They're so cute.  And growing so fast.  So here it is.

The girls are doing great with the mama hen heating pad.  They love it under there--maybe a little too much.  These chicks are more skittish than our previous batch of chicks.  As soon as they hear or see someone in the room with them, they startle and run under the heating pad, so I've been sneaking up on them, trying to get a glimpse of them out in the open.

The temp under the heating pad has been between 90 and 95°F, which is right on track with what all the chicken people say the chicks need.  Just today, I turned the heat setting down one notch, and AKD told me I should raise it up a bit (so the chicks wouldn't get clothes-lined as they were fleeing to safety), so I did that, too.  I'm keeping a close eye on them and the temperature today, and will decide later on if the temp needs to go back up over night.

Koko is the smallest and shyest of the chicks.  She's the first to panic, and spends the most time under the heating pad.  As you can see, her tail feathers and wing feathers are coming in.  I love the pure white wing tips.

Isn't Indigo pretty?  Like all of the chicks, her wing and tail feathers are coming in, and hers are just striking in grayscale.  Indigo seems to be the ring leader at this point.  Both Koko and Indigo have doubled in size since coming home.  It's really remarkable how much they've grown in such a short time, which goes a long way to explaining why these chicks looked so much smaller when we brought them home, than we remember our first set of chicks being.  Just like human babies, we forget how little they were.

 If Koko and Indigo have doubled in size, Hazel has quadrupled.  She is, by far, the biggest of the three.  When we first brought them home, Hazel seemed a bit unstable.  She would do her little ballet move (where she stretches out a leg and the wing on the same side, behind her), and almost toppled over.  Chicks (and chickens) kind of squat when they poop, and one time she almost fell over backward while relieving herself.  She has figured out her equilibrium and is doing just fine these days.  Speaking of poop, a couple of days ago, I noticed that Hazel was "pasted up," which means she had dried poop blocking her vent.  Bubby and I cleaned her up, and she is none the worse for wear.

I added a mirror to the brooder, and all of the girls like looking at themselves in it.  They hang out by the mirror quite a bit.  I think.  I mean, I'm not really sure because they usually run when I go look at them.  The girls also appear to already be plotting their escape.  They're looking up toward the top of the brooder and testing their wings, and digging in various spots, trying to find a weak spot.

The chicks are extremely talented at getting pine shavings in their water, even after I elevated it a bit more, so I'll be setting up the nipple waterer as soon as I can manage it (first we need to empty a container of the right sort, since I recycled the one we used last year).  I gave the chicks fermented food for the first time today, and while it doesn't appear to be their favorite thing ever, I did see all three of them eating it.

This week, I will attempt to set up a dust bath in the brooder.  I say "attempt" because I'm not sure where I'm going to find dry, non-snow-covered dirt around here.  Wish me luck.

And, I will close with this.  So sweet.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Spy gear and staplers

On Monday, it was a bit windy, which is why, when the refuse haulers emptied ours and our neighbors' trash bins, not all of the trash made it into the truck.  When I left that morning, I noticed a grocery store flyer in the middle of the road, which I picked up and put into our recycling bin.

On Wednesday, I noticed a piece of something that didn't belong at the tree line near our bus stop.  I meant to go collect it after Bubby boarded the bus, but I forgot.  So when I saw it again yesterday, I went to grab it right away.  From the 20 feet or so away from which I first spotted it, it looked like a plastic bag with black writing on it.  It turned out to be an empty package from a SPY+ TARGA II. It kind of sounded, based on the bullet points, like a camera, but then I turned the package over and they tag clarified that they were Spy Goggles.  Spy goggles.  One of our neighbors purchased, and threw away the packaging for, spy goggles.  Either that, or someone who was spying on us was very careless with their off-cast packaging.

I asked Bubby which neighbor he thought was a spy.  He wasn't sure.


As you may know, AKD is a high school senior, and will be heading off to school in the fall.  He's concerned that he'll forget certain things.  Things that are community supplies, things that we just have in the house because we're a household, but that he won't think to bring.  So we decided to make a list.  Every time we think of something like that, usually because we're using it, we put it on the list.  So far, the list consists of
  • stapler
Yup.  He's going to be super prepared for college.

On the bright side, by the time we get to Bubby, we'll have figured out what we're doing.


I signed up for this thing called Informed Delivery, through the post office.  As part of the sorting process, USPS takes a digital image of all letter-sized mail pieces that are processed through USPS' automated equipment.  The images can then be made available to the addressee via an online dashboard, the informed delivery app, or a daily email.  So basically, you know ahead of time what's going to be in your mailbox.

I thought it was going to be great!  I mean, who doesn't love knowing what's coming in the mail?  But you know how disappointing it is when you reach into your mailbox and all that's there is bills and junk mail?  Yeah.  Now I just get to feel that disappointment earlier in the day.

I will say that the packages feature has been kind of fun, so it's not all disappointment.  As soon as USPS accepts a package that is being sent to my address, it shows up on my dashboard.  Not a picture of the package, just that there is a package and where the postage was paid.  I have had so much fun puzzling out what the heck the packages are, especially when I'm not expecting anything.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Ornament Exchange

The Bible study I'm involved with did an ornament exchange this year.  Everyone was supposed to bring a wrapped ornament, and we were supposed to play a game to determine which ornament we would take home.

I'm not sure if you noticed, but I suffer from social anxiety.
According to the Social Anxiety Institute, "social anxiety is the fear of being judged and evaluated negatively by other people, leading to feelings of inadequacy, inferiority, embarrassment, humiliation, and depression."  I'd say that about sums it up.  

{And please don't tell me I  shouldn't worry about that kind of stuff.  This is an irrational fear, which means no amount of truth is going to make it go away.}

In my case, I have to give myself a little pep talk every time I go somewhere, even somewhere where there are people I love being with, like my Bible study.  I can have physical symptoms, like nausea, headache, rapid heartbeat, sometimes (thankfully, very rarely), I have panic attacks.  The past couple of months, my anxiety has been increasing, to the point where no pep talk was enough; I hadn't been to my Bible study in probably two months.  

I hadn't been able to convince myself that it would be OK to go be with people who love me, for two months.

I wanted to go to the ornament exchange, but I didn't know if I could.

About a week before the party, I was running errands, and suddenly I was absolutely convinced that I needed to go to the ornament exchange, and I needed to make an ornament with Joshua 1:9 on it.  And I just knew that my ornament would be for a specific woman in the group.
My friend has been going through a really rough time for a long time, and it doesn't seem like anything ever changes, no matter what she does.  She's being torn apart by forces beyond her control; she needs a Word of hope.

So on the one hand, I had this conviction, that felt like a divine message, and on the other hand, I had anxiety.  And the anxiety was louder.

I did what any reasonable, anxiety-ridden person would do.  I procrastinated.  I was sick.  And then I found it really difficult to stay out of bed for three days, but finally, that divine message drove me to make the ornament.

And it didn't work.  The method I had planned to use turned into a big mess.  And the anxiety whispered, "you can't do anything right."

Yup, this was definitely a sign--the excuse I needed to give in to anxiety and not go exchange ornaments.  So I planned to not go.

And then I realized that I could still make it work a different way, that I could still go to the party.  Honestly, y'all, that was a divine message, too.  Anxiety blocked my brain, but the Spirit showed me the way.

It was like having something dark and ugly and heavy pulling on my leg, pulling me down, and something dazzling and holy and beautiful yanking on my arm, pulling me up.  I was the rope in a spiritual tug of war.

I honestly didn't know, until I walked in the door, whether or not I was going to actually go to the ornament exchange.

I am absolutely certain that my Bible study sisters had no idea how much effort it took for me to be there.  I don't think any of them have a clue that, even on my best days, I have to give myself a mini pep talk in order to show up.  But that day, I made it.

Fast forward to almost the end of the party.  It was time to exchange the ornaments, and we played the game to see who would get which ornament.  When I returned from selecting my ornament to take home, I noticed that the ornament I had made was in the hand of the woman I was convinced it was meant for.


Later, she texted me:
"Thanks so much for the beautiful ornament!  I love the message! It was meant for me!"

Yes, it was.

You know, nothing bad would have happened if I hadn't shown up that day (well, except that the anxiety would have that much tighter of a hold on me), but because I did, something amazing and holy did.

Both of us received a divine hug that day.  God sees both of us.  He knows our struggles, and He gives us the strength needed, just for today.  What a joy, what a gift it was, to be the bearer of that holy message.

My ornament from J.  Isn't she talented?  There's a card attached that says,
"What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store? 
What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?"
There's a heart on the back. <3

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Rice Burgler (an un-recipe)

Rice burgler was a staple meal in my childhood home.  It's an easy, filling, and inexpensive mixture of cooked brown rice, browned ground beef, and vegetables.  This dish is so easy, in fact, you don't really need a recipe.  However, rice burgler shows up in my menu plans often enough that I felt like I should share it.  Feel free to substitute other meats or vegetables, based on what you have on hand, and according to your tastes.

Rice Burgler
Click here to print this "recipe"

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • ~ 2 c. cooked brown rice
  • ~ 1/2 lb (about 2 c.) frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • shredded cheese (optional)
  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, brown ground beef, stirring to break up into small bite-sized pieces. Drain fat and return to pan. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. Add cooked brown rice and mixed vegetables, and heat on medium-low, stirring occasionally, until warmed through.
  3. If desired, sprinkle shredded cheese on top, and cover. Cook over low heat for a few more minutes until cheese is melted.
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Monday, March 12, 2018

Menu plan for the week of March 12

Hi friends.  I'm not quite as tired as the mama of a newborn human, but I'm still pretty tired.  Those cute little chick babies woke me up around 4 a.m. on their first night, making distressed sounds.  Indigo, in particular, seemed to be protesting the world's injustices.  Turns out they were too warm (I think), because turning down the heat helped tremendously.  They haven't woken me since then, but that doesn't mean that I've slept well.  It's kind of how, when one's baby human sleeps through the night for the first time, one wakes up in the wee hours in a panic because the baby hasn't cried (or is that just me?).  If I start making noises about getting new chicks next spring, remind me of this, kay?  I'm not getting any younger, and I need good sleep.  Then there's the whole daylight savings debacle.  Why does one hour make such a big difference?

The babies are eating and drinking well, and spending most of their time hanging out under the mama hen heating pad, darting out every once in a while for a snack.  Speaking of eating, here's what's on the menu this week:



Friday, March 9, 2018

Introducing...and 10 month chicken update

We ordered more chickens y'all.  Because chicken math.  These three, plus the three we already have, technically max out our coop space (depending on whose numbers we choose to believe), but the way chicken math works, we may find ourselves with more than six soon enough.

Hazel ~ Calico Princess
The Calico Princess is a relatively new breed developed in the Czech Republic.  They are fairly hardy, and are prolific layers.  The climate in Czech Republic seems similar to ours, so I think she'll do just fine.  Ours is named Hazel, because of her color, and after a character in one of Bubby's favorite book series.  Hazel will lay large cream colored eggs.

Indigo ~ Sapphire Gem
The Sapphire Gem is also a relatively new hybrid developed in the Czech Republic, and they are prolific layers of brown eggs.  We're naming ours Indigo, for her color, and also because it's a lovely name.  Yes, she will actually be blue/lavender!  Both Hazel and Indigo are sex-linked chickens, which means the male and female chicks are different colors.  Therefore, we know for sure that these two girls are, in fact, girls.

Koko ~ Black Australorp
Our hen Austro was a Black Australorp.  She was so sweet and pretty, and was both Bubby's and my favorite, so we decided to get another one.  Black Australorps are cold-hardy, and are considered to have generally docile dispositions.  Ours is named Koko, which is of Native American Blackfoot origin, and means night.  Koko will lay brown eggs. 

We picked them up from the feed store, and they were peeping away the whole ride home.  Now they're snuggled up under their mama hen heating pad (they've been sleeping a lot), and Bubby is waiting~ sort-of~patiently for them to come out and play.

The other three are still doing well, although I think they're a little tired of being cooped up.  I keep seeing and hearing hawks, though, so I'm not willing to let them out by themselves until we have a secure area for them.

 I have been taking the girls out to a relatively snow-free patch of forest floor for about an hour at a time, and they've enjoyed scratching in some new ground.  They've found a few pieces of still-green grass, and some bugs.  Esther still likes to hop up on my knee, and she was eyeing my head the other day.

 Toasty is laying 6-7 eggs per week, and Rocky has ramped up production to 5-7 eggs per week.  Still nothing from Esther, but she is definitely submissively squatting, and her comb and face are red, so it should be any day now.  Hubby joked that maybe she'd lay her first egg on Easter.  We'll see.

Toasty Crunch
To combat boredom in the coop, I made some chicken toys out of peanut butter jars (once again, my obsessive saving of empty containers pays off).  I poked two holes, about 3/4 cm in diameter, on opposite sides, near the tops of the peanut butter jars.  Then I put sunflower seeds in the jars and affixed the lids.  The girls peck and scratch at the jars, and as the jars roll, the seeds drop out of the holes.  Poor Esther is still at the bottom of the pecking order, so she doesn't often get to play with the toys--the other two chase her off.  I tell Esther to stand up for herself, but so far she hasn't.  Maybe she'll have more confidence when she starts laying.

Speaking of boredom, my friend Bert recently sent the girls a xylophone to play, because their lives were dreary and meaningless without music (thanks again, Bert!).  Hopefully we'll be able to get that, along with the chicken grit and oyster shell dispensers, installed in the coop soon.

I think that's all for now; I'm off to tend to sit-and-watch-for-hours the babies.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Beef and Potato Casserole

In the church fundraising cookbook from which I obtained this recipe, its title is "Hamburger Casserole."  The whole calling ground beef hamburger is something that irks me.  I mean, hamburgers are a hot sandwich, not a raw ground meat.  There are also four other recipes in the cookbook called "Hamburger Casserole."  So I changed the name.  AKD calls it "the stuff with the soy sauce."

Whatever you call it, this is a hearty and filling meat and potatoes main dish.  And yes, use the soy sauce.  You won't be sorry.

Beef & Potato Casserole
(Click here to print)

  • 1 to 1 1/2 lb lean ground beef
  • 4 c. diced raw potatoes *
  • 1/4 c. diced green pepper (optional)
  • 1/2 c. chopped onion
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/8 t. pepper
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup or use cream of [blank] soup substitute
  • 1 c. milk
  1. Brown ground beef and drain.
  2. Mix in the rest of the ingredients, and pour into a greased 1 1/2 - 2 quart casserole dish.
  3. Bake at 350° F for 1 1/2 hours, or until potatoes are soft. *
  4. Serve with soy sauce.
* If you don't have an hour and a half to bake this, microwave the potatoes until they're mostly done, before dicing them.  The texture won't be quite as creamy and mashed-potato-ish, but you'll have supper on the table.
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Monday, March 5, 2018

Menu plan for the week of March 5

We went to church yesterday.  Usually, I sit between Bubby and MC, but yesterday, I ended up sitting between 14 year old MC and 17 year old AKD.  And when we stood up for the second song, I noticed that I was surrounded by tall people.  They've both been taller than me for years, but I don't usually stand between them, so I don't usually feel surrounded by tall people.  Seems like it wasn't so very long ago that I felt surrounded by little people.

I think the reason they're so tall is because we feed them.  Here's what we're feeding them this week:


I don't think I'll be making extras this week.  Maybe some cookies.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Canning dry beans

Last week, I canned another four batches of dry beans (and now I have so.many.beans).  You may recall that I am challenged in the bean-cooking arena.  My beans always turn out scorched or undercooked and crunchy, or both scorched and undercooked at the same time.  Because I'm just that talented.

So I was thrilled to discover that some home canners had had success with just putting beans and water into jars and canning them.  No soaking, no precooking required.  I tried it, and it worked, but inconsistently.  It was kind of hit and miss as to whether the jars would seal, and while it was true that the beans were cooked, it would have been nice for them to be shelf-stable as well.

I've canned beans many times over the years, and my method has evolved.  I'm happy to report that I have near 100% success with this method, and I thought it was high time I shared it with you.  It's a little more work than just putting beans and water in jars and then processing them in a pressure canner, but the reliability is worth the extra steps.

Here's what to do.
  1. Rinse and pick through beans.  I buy mine in 10-12 lb bags from my local warehouse store for less than $1 per pound.  Cover with at least 1 inch water, and soak for 8 hours or overnight.  I soak 1/2 lb of dry beans per quart, or 1/4 lb per pint.  My pressure canner holds 5 quart jars or 8 pint jars, so I soak 2 1/2 or 2 pounds of beans.
  2. Drain the beans, recover with 1 inch water, bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, and skimming off foam as needed.
  3. Meanwhile, begin heating the canner, jars, and lids.
  4. Distribute partially cooked beans evenly in the jars, then add cooking liquid to the jars, leaving 1 inch headspace.  Remember--the beans are not yet fully cooked, so they will expand.  Don't just fill the jars with as many beans as will fit unless you cook them all the way first.  Add salt, if desired: 1/2 t. per pint or 1 t. per quart.
  5. Process at 10 lbs of pressure in pressure canner, 75 minutes for pints, or 90 minutes for quarts.
That's it!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The To-Do Notebook

My hands are still tingling from having wrestled around the snowblower for the past hour or so.  The weather people predicted we'd get 3-5 inches, which usually means we'll get 1-2.  But this time, we got the full 5, maybe even 6.  It was a lot.  I came to the realization, while snowblowing our almost 1/10 mile long driveway, that I would not have the patience to snowblow a cute, short driveway, like the one we had in Minnesota, or the ones our parents and siblings have now.  All that stopping and turning and starting again... Of course, if we had a cute little driveway like that, we probably wouldn't own a snowblower.  As it is, snowblowing our driveway is almost meditative.  I do enjoy it.  Although that tingling is making it a little difficult to type right now.

The kids had a late start this morning (I'm writing on Friday), due to "treacherous road conditions."  Sounds so...treacherous.  About an hour before he had to leave, AKD asked me if I thought we should attempt to clear the driveway before he went to school.  I told him to look outside and tell me if he thought we needed to.  He thought not, partly because he drives a 4 wheel drive vehicle, but mostly because he's a pro at procrastination.  So I put it on my to-do list.  And then I crossed it off my to-do list.

One of the completed items on my 18 for 2018 list was to obtain and begin using a to-do notebook.  I picked one up at the dollar store.  Isn't it pretty?  Pretty is an essential quality for a to-do notebook, don't you think?
The colors are much more vibrant in person
The idea is to just keep a running to-do list, in one central place, instead of on little pieces of paper all over.  I think I must have originally, subliminally, even, gotten the idea from my mom.  She writes things down in notebooks.  In my to-do notebook, I just write down things that I need to do, as they occur to me, and then cross them off when they're done.  When the two facing pages that I'm currently working on are mostly crossed off, I'll transfer any remaining items to the new page and go from there.

Here's what I like about my to-do notebook.
  • The notebook is a lot more difficult to lose than random pieces of paper.
  • I can write things down when I think of them, even if I know I won't get to them today, beause it's a running list.  I never felt like I could write future to-do items on my random-pieces-of-paper list, because there wasn't room.  Future items were written on their own random-pieces-of-paper, which were then subsequently misplaced, and found weeks, months, or even years later.
  • I always have something to do during those random pockets of time where I've finished a task, and I'm not quite sure what to do next.  I just check my list to see what I can get done in the amount of time I have available.
  • It's handy for writing things down when they occur to me in the wee hours of the morning, which, in turn, (usually) helps me get back to sleep faster.  That would never happen with a random-piece-of-paper list, because the random-piece-of-paper list doesn't exist until the civilized, waking up hours of the morning.
  • At 5x7 inches in size, my to-do notebook fits nicely in my purse, so I can carry it with me.
  • It's pretty.

You may be wondering why I don't keep my to-do list electronically.  The truth is, I kind of do.  If there is something that I need to do on a specific date, like add money to the kids' meal accounts, or pay a bill, or check on the status of my chick order, I will set a reminder in my google calendar.  Google will then remind me to do the thing on the correct date, via a notification on my phone that doesn't go away until I complete the task (thank you, google).

But for this list, the do-these-things-sometime list, I prefer paper, first, because it's easier for me to see the list and interpret the entries at a glance on paper, and second, because it's easier and faster to write something down than to wake up my phone, unlock my phone, click on the little google microphone (my phone is not always listening to me), tell google to put something on my list, and then check to make sure that google got it right.  Retrieval is a lot faster on paper, too.  I guess there's a third reason, which is that I don't always have my phone on me (I know.  Unheard-of these days, but true), and since the notebook is brightly colored, and bigger than my phone, it's easier to find.

Anyway, I wanted to share, because I've found my to-do notebook to be so helpful in the month or so that I've been using it.  I don't use it every day, but I do feel like my days go so much more smoothly when I do.  

What about you?  Do you think this low-tech solution would help you feel more on top of things?  Let me know if you try it!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Menu plan for the week of February 26

I made a discovery last week.  Commercially canned beans are different from my home canned beans.  Yeah, I know.  Seems like not an earth shattering discovery.  But seriously?  Aren't black beans black beans?

Last week I made a 1.5 batch of taco bean soup, because now I have a pot that can hold more than one batch.  And for the black beans, I used a quart of my home canned beans, plus a 15 oz can of commercially canned beans.  My sis keeps mailing commercially canned black beans to me.  Because she loves me.  And also, because I use them more frequently than she does.

Anyway, there were the two different varieties of black beans in the soup, and I noticed that both the taste (which makes sense, since my beans don't have added salt), and the texture (which makes less sense, because presumably the safety standards and cooking times are similar) were different.  They even look different.  Theirs are, well, black, and mine are a lovely deep purpley-black color.  There I was, eating my soup, and something was just a little ... off ... about it.  So I isolated one of each and tasted and, well, there I was.  Knowing that they're different.  Which I already knew.  I just wasn't expecting to notice.

There isn't any taco bean soup on the menu this week, because 1.5 batches is enough to last more than a week, but there are other yummy things, and even one that uses black beans (for which I will use the last of the commercially canned black beans that my sis sent to me).  Here's what's on the menu this week:


  • Meat sauce with angel hair pasta, green beans, garlic toast, pears
  • Tacos with taco toppings and guacamole
  • Chunky slow cooker beef stew, rolls
  • Mexican quinoa with grilled chicken, tortilla chips
  • Hamburgers, buns, oven fries, carrots, jello
  • Grilled pork chops, mashed potatoes, grilled green veggie
  • Grilled chicken, salad, grilled green veggie, "baked" potatoes
  • Beef and potato casserole (I guess this is the recipe I need to share next, because I can't find it online), green beans, applesauce


Friday, February 23, 2018

18 for 2018 Update

Hey y'all.  I told you I'd keep you informed of my progress on goals, so here ya go.

In the past month, I've completed a few more of my 18 for 2018 items.  
  • (10) I deleted over 500 mystery shop screen shots and receipts that I have saved over the past few years.  This is definitely something that I should do more often, but it always seems like such an arduous task.   It took me about 15 minutes, including finding and emptying the "recycling bin" after deleting them.  Yeah.  Not so arduous.
  • (11) I bought a desk task light.  My poor eyes are getting old, and the light available in our bedroom (where the desk is) was woefully inadequate.  I originally wanted a floor lamp with a gooseneck task light, but the base took up too much room, and the light itself was kind of flimsy.  I ended up going with this one, and I'm happy with it.
    It kind of looks like the Pixar lamp
  • (6) I sent friend mail to two more friends, bringing the total to 4 down, 4 to go.
  • (5) I went on a date with AKD to The Sound of Music at his high school, and then out to eat.
  • (8) I've been working on purging paper.  It is so painful!  I don't know why we saved all that paper, but that scares me, because what if there was a good reason?  Hmph.  I'm going with the theory that almost all of it is available online.  I'll keep working on it.
  • (14) I investigated community education classes, and narrowed my selection down to two, but then I wondered if I should take the beginning crochet class because that would help with goal number 16, and then I decided to check out a local arts store to see what classes they have available, because I kind of want to fuse glass, so then I ended up not deciding.  And then I wrote a run-on sentence, because run-on sentences are fun.
  • I planted garlic.  And then I realized that planting garlic did not make it on to the top 18 list.  Oops.  Potatoes didn't make it either.  Double oops.

So what's next?  I think I'll aim to make oyster shell and grit dispensers (1) and have everyone in the household take the love languages quiz (4) in the next month.  I'll also try to go on at least one more date (5), figure out which class to take (14), and continue purging paper (8).

How are you doing on your 2018 goals?

 18 for 2018
  1. ** Make oyster shell and grit dispensers for the chickens
  2. ** Plant a garden--with tomatoes and jalapenos
  3. Can jalapenos--they don't necessarily have to be the ones I grow
  4. Have everyone in the household take the love languages quiz--we could do this on Valentine's Day, but since it's also Ash Wednesday this year, I don't think that's gonna happen...
  5. Go on a date with each of my boys (AKD, MC, Bubby)
  6. ** Send friend mail 8 6 4 times (if you'd like to receive friend mail from me, use the contact link above to give me your address)
  7. Obtain and begin using a to-do notebook--this has already been so useful!  I have a running to-do list now, instead of having to start fresh every day.  It's a lot more difficult to misplace than a random piece of paper.
  8. ** Purge file cabinet and create paper organization system--Ugh!  We have so.much.paper.  Half of me wants to get rid of it all.  The other half is afraid I'll shred something we'll need later.
  9. ** Create a household binder/legacy box--I think my boys would be lost if something happened to me.
  10. Delete saved electronic mystery shop screen shots and receipts--yep, I've got every screen shot and almost every receipt from every mystery shop I've done in the past four years.  It's a lot.
  11. ** Buy desk task light--I've already tried once this year, but I didn't like it, so I need to try again.
  12. Buy phone charging cords for each of our vehicles--I told Hubby I was going to do this, and he was like, but we have charging cords in all the vehicles, don't we?  Well, yes, we do...for his phone, but not for AKD's and mine.
  13. Make a chicken sign--It's going to have the silhouette of a chicken, and say something along the lines of, "Danger: Dinosaur Area."
  14. Take a class through community education or a local craft store--I used to do this fairly often, but somewhere along the line, I stopped.
  15. ** Finish valances for master bedroom.  I've only had the material for...3 years? 4?  A long time.
  16. Crochet messy bun hat or Arm knit scarf
  17. ** Get the boys' picture taken--the place I used to take them to closed, so I need to find a new photographer.
  18. Send Christmas cards in 2018
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