Thursday, October 19, 2017

Progress on 2017 Goals: August & September TJs purchases

As y'all know, one of my 2017 goals is to try something new from Trader Joe's each month this year.  Click here to read all of my TJs posts.

Knowing that the summer was going to be crazy and compressed, when I was at TJs in June, buying my chocolate (mmmm...chocolate), I picked up what I thought would be my July and August purchases: fire roasted vegetables with balsamic butter sauce, and zucchini fries.  I figured I might not get over to TJs during the summer, but with school starting up halfway through August, I'd have plenty of time to get there in September.

I ended up actually trying the veggies in August and the fries in September, and I was going to lie to you and tell you it was July and August, and then buy something else for September, but eh.  I did warn y'all that I might take the summer off.'s all good.

I didn't like either of them.  I really wanted to, but...I didn't.  The veggies were a bit spongy and the balsamic overpowered.  The fries were soggy and I didn't like the flavor of the breading.  Hubby liked the zucchini fries, but otherwise these two were duds.

Only a few more months!  Any suggestions for me?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Taco Bean Soup {Updated}

Hi everybody.

I'm making taco bean soup today, so I thought I'd finally update y'all on how I make it now.

It all started years ago, when a dear friend gave me her recipe for taco bean soup.  We were in a Bible study together, and the group decided to share our favorite soup recipes.  At the time, Minestrone was my favorite, but I didn't make it often because it's a lot of work.  Taco bean soup quickly became my new favorite soup, and continues to be my favorite because it is so tasty and, most importantly, easy.

Through the years I've made modifications, so I thought I'd share the recipe as it stands now.  I make this just about every week and freeze it in individual portions.  I heat it up for lunch or supper or even sometimes, breakfast, if I don't feel like putting any effort into breakfast that day.

Taco Bean Soup
(click here to print this recipe)

Ingredients (serves 14)
  • 2 lbs lean ground beef (or ground turkey or shredded, cooked chicken)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 4 oz can chopped green chilies
  • 1 10-15 oz can diced tomatoes with green chilies (Rotel or similar)
  • 1 quart home-canned pinto beans (or two 15 oz cans)
  • 1 quart home-canned black beans (or two 15 oz cans)
  • 2 15 oz cans no-salt diced petite tomatoes (or one quart home-canned)
  • 1 15 oz can yellow hominy (or white if you can't find yellow)
  • 1/2 of a 16 oz package (about 2 cups) frozen corn
  • 2 T homemade taco seasoning mix (or 1 packet taco seasoning mix)
  • 3 T homemade ranch seasoning mix (or 1 packet ranch seasoning mix)
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 t pepper
  • 1/2 t celery seeds
  • 1/2 t. truvia

  1. Brown meat and add onion.
  2. Add remaining ingredients (do not drain vegetables--just open and dump).
  3. Simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally (I set my kitchen timer for 10 minute intervals so I don't forget).
Optional: serve this soup with crushed tortilla chips (or you can make some baked tortilla strips) and shredded cheddar cheese. So yummy!

Note: be sure to adjust the salt level based on your ingredients. I use no salt added beans and tomatoes, and my homemade seasoning mixes have less salt than their comercial counterparts.
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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Mountain Between Us

I borrowed this book from the library:

Because I saw this movie trailer:

And I knew I had to watch the movie, but I wanted to read the book first.

I should have known better.

Hubby was out of town, and I stay up too late when he's gone anyway, but I stayed up until 2 in the morning reading the book, until I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer.  Then I woke up the next morning and finished reading before I got out of bed.  I spent the whole next day feeling groggy and out of sorts, but it was worth it.

I had to keep reading, because I knew the secret.  I just knew it, and I had to keep reading to find out if I was right (I was).  That is absolutely the best kind of book.

It's an amazing story of strength and courage, from where one would expect in a story of this sort, but also from a surprising direction that took my breath away.  I devoured the book.  I am so glad I read it: that I felt the things I felt and thought the things I thought.  I'll carry it with me.

But now, I don't know if I can see the movie.  Because there is no way to do justice to this story in a movie, and I don't think I can bear to watch a movie that doesn't. 

So read this book.  Or watch the movie.  But probably not both.

P.S. I probably will watch the movie, number 1 because I think Hubby will want to watch it, and number 2, for the same reason I had to keep reading--I need to know if I'm right.  And if I'm not right, if the movie is amazing and gives all the feels and all the chills, I can't bear to miss that, either.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Menu plan for the week of October 16

Hey y'all.  MC is done(ish.  He had his last game and last practice, but for some reason they need to have equipment hand-in a week and a half after the last practice.  I feel like that could have been easily accomplished the day after or even the day of the last practice), Bubby has one more week of football, and AKD has two of biking.  It's been a long couple of super-busy months, and I am so looking forward to menu planning being difficult only because I don't know what to serve, instead of it being difficult because I don't know what to serve and I don't have time to prepare it and we have to eat in shifts.  I can almost taste it y'all (and yes, I punned on purpose).

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


No other this week, not because I won't make anything else, but because I used up all of my menu planning energy on supper...

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Chickens: 22 weeks

I don't have much to report on the chickens, but I know y'all wait anxiously for these updates, so... here ya go.
Rocky and Toasty Crunch continue to lay approximately one egg each per day.  Approximately, because every so often, they don't.  Esther is not laying yet.  She's not doing the submissive squat, but her comb is pretty red.  The thing is, Easter Eggers aren't a breed--they're mutts, and the hatchery mine came from uses different crosses to produce a variety of colors, patterns, and egg colors--so there really isn't a "typical" age for their Easter Eggers begin laying.

I'm still waiting patiently.  Sort of.  Really looking forward to discovering what color her eggs are.
Rocky has taken to pecking Esther.  For no apparent reason.  Esther has taken to avoiding Rocky.  For good reason.  So I guess Rocky's at the top of the pecking order, and Esther is at the bottom, and Toasty stays out of it.

Toasty Crunch

Monday, October 9, 2017

Menu plan for the week of October 9

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



Friday, October 6, 2017

The Power of the Timer (aka Just Start)

For the past several weeks, ok, months, every time I've looked at our front garden area, which is every day, I've thought to myself, ugh.  I really need to clean that out.  That being the weeds and dead flowers and spent vegetation. 

But, I think next, it will take for-ev-er

For-ev-er is a tad bit longer than I have to spend on a weeding/deadheading/preparing an outdoor space for winter project.  So I don't do anything.  And then the next day, I see the space again, and I think the thoughts again.  And, entropy being entropy, not only does the space not improve, it actually gets worse.

The other day I was watching a video. 

Oh my, y'all, I have fallen down theYouTube rabbit hole.  Did you know that there are things called "haul" videos, in which people who have gone shopping show and talk about everything that they bought?  I'm serious.  It's a thing.  Also a thing is cleaning videos.  How to clean, clean with me (wherein someone videos herself cleaning...and people watch!  Power hours are viewer favorites), favorite cleaning hacks, favorite cleaning equipment, (by the way, I need a Dyson V8 Animal Cordless Vacuum now, because that's what Love Meg uses on her hardwood floors), hoarder to minimalist.  And don't even get me started on the DIYs.

Anyway, I was watching a YouTube video, and the YouTuber told me that I should set a timer and clean for 15 minutes a day.  That something is better than nothing, and when the 15 minute timer rings, I can walk away.

I know this, of course, and even use it from time to time when I'm feeling overwhelmed by a cleaning task (Bubby's bedroom comes to mind.  I tell ya, I can completely understand why he gets anxious just thinking about cleaning his room, because it makes me, the equivocal adult, anxious).  But until that moment, I had never thought of weeding as a cleaning task.

Weeding is totally a cleaning task, y'all!

So yesterday, even though I just knew I wasn't going to be able to get very far in 15 minutes, I set a timer.  Trusting that something is better than nothing and nothing was ever going to happen if I didn't get started.  Know what happened?  I got through more than half of the flower bed.  What?! 

It didn't take half of for-ev-er to clean half of the flower bed.  It took 15 minutes.  And it looks so much better.  If I keep working on that flower bed for 15 minutes a day, it will take me one more day.  One.

So here's the take-away, and you can apply this to just about anything friends: just start. 

Just. Start.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Making apple pie (in three easy steps)

I'm making apple pies today.  Step one: pick the apples.  Oh, you're wondering how we have any apples left after the whole making gallons of applesauce thing?  We made applesauce with the apples on our "little" tree, which had more, but smaller, apples on it this year.  We did nothing with the apples on the "big" tree, probably because it didn't seem worthwhile to harvest apples that were so far apart.  Yeah, set up the ladder, pick one apple, move the ladder, pick 2, move the ladder, pick one and have another one fall off, precariously close to your head...

Gallons of applesauce.  It's so yum this year.  Sweet and a little tart.
And, randomly, an iron. 
Lest you think I was actually ironing clothes, not to worry--
our iron is for crafting purposes only
Kind of like the coffee filters.
Anyway, I had to pick the apples.  But before that, I brought the chickens some fermented food.  Since I'm so efficient (not really, but go with me here), I approached the chicken coop carrying the ladder.  True to form, the chickens freaked out.  Toasty even went into the hen house until the other girls told her it was OK, it was just that crazy chicken lady who brings the food, and I had put the ladder down

I wasn't really expecting any eggs this early in the morning.  As I explained, it takes more than 24 hours for an egg to develop, so the egg appears later each day, until the day there isn't one, and the next day, an egg will show up early in the morning again.  So I wasn't expecting any eggs, but I checked the nest box anyway, and found another rubber egg under the roost.  Does this mean Esther is laying and the first one surprised her?  Or does this mean that Toasty Crunch was so freaked out by her human carrying a ladder, that she just had to let that egg go before it was ready?  Let us hope it was the former, 'cause I can't handle never carrying a ladder or rake or shovel in the vicinity of the chicken coop.  I'm kind of waiting patiently for Esther to begin laying, but I really would like to know what color her eggs will be.

I'm using frozen crust for the pies, because they need to be in disposable pans, and why buy disposable pans and then put your own crust in, when for less than a dollar more, you can buy disposable pans pre-filled with crust (this reminds me of the egg carton thing)?  As I went through the checkout lane with my turnips, potatoes, and pie crust, the cashier queried, "making pumpkin pie?"  No.  I am not making anything at this time.  I am, however, buying pie crust, turnips, and potatoes, lady (oh, I guess that means I'm making a purchase).  What's it to you?

Why?  Why would you go there first?  Pumpkin?  Apples are in season, too.  If anything, she should have been wondering if I was making turnip or potato pie.  Of course, based on the number of apples I was able to get (possibly not enough), I might be making pumpkin pie, too.  But that is most definitely beside the point.

Maybe.  The answer is maybe, lady, ok?   And yes, friends, I know the cashier was just making conversation.  Whatever. 

I'm using my friend's apple pie recipe.  I asked her for it last year, when she mentioned making pies (using free apples and store-bought pie crust) and selling them.  She texted me a picture of a recipe card: "Grandma Opal's Apple Pie," it said.  Oh, how sweet, I thought.  KT's making apple pie from the recipe handed down from her grandma.  I wish I had my grandma's apple pie recipe.  Well, actually, maybe I don't.  I don't remember my grandma ever making a pie.

But no.  In the next text message, KT shattered my fantasy, "truth be told, I don't have a Grandma Opal.  It was the recipe on that had the most reviews."

Alrighty then.  At least now I don't have to feel bad about not having my Grandma's pie recipe.  And actually, the recipe card KT sent me bears only a passing resemblance to the recipe posted on allrecipes. 

Apparently, step 2 in the apple pie making process is blogging about it.  Blogging is, after all, one of my favorite chore avoidance techniques.  Not that making apple pie is a chore, but peeling, coring, and chopping apples for the pie is.  I'm trying to decide if I think it's worthwhile to get out our peeler/corer/slicer for 12 apples.  And, you know, writing about it helps.  Or at least delays the decision.
The boys, peeling, coring, and slicing apples. 
Wish they were here now...
But, I think I need to get going, because my feet are cold.  And it's not like I can close the window or put socks or slippers on.  I need to get away from the open window so my feet will not be cold.

Step 3: make the pies.  Just Grandma Opal and me.  In the kitchen.  Here I go.


Monday, October 2, 2017

Menu plan for the week of October 2

Y'all, this is seriously the longest September ever.  Know why?  Even though I spent half of August thinking it was September, and since September has 30 days, I should think it's halfway into October already, I still think it's September.  As I was typing that title up there, I was kind of squinting at the September section of my little year at a glance calendar, thinking, ok, what's the date?  September 11?  Yeah.  That sounds about right.  So weird, y'all.  You would think I really like September or something.  I mean, it's alright, but not 8 weeks-worth!

We canned applesauce this weekend.  I'm so glad.  We were running out, and the apples were ripe, and we've got stuff going on every weekend for the rest of September October (see?  I did it again), and making applesauce is not really something I want to do on my own.  So yay.  We had a smaller than usual harvest this year, so we only made 6.25 gallons.  Yeah, I know.  Only.

Speaking of only, we only have two more weeks of crazy, crazy, crazy busy.  Only two more weeks of needing to leave the house to pick up a kid every day right at supper-making time--MC's football season is almost over.  Then it'll just be crazy, crazy busy.

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



Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Girls: 20 weeks (aka the Toasty Crunch show)

Love those fluffy chicken butts!
Esther, Rocky, Toasty Crunch

So.  For those of you who found this post by googling something like:
     how long will my pullet/hen/chicken
          just coming into lay/beginning to lay
               continue to lay rubber eggs/shell-less eggs/thin shelled eggs,
let me just get this out of the way right now.

As you know, if you have googled such a thing, the usual, and perhaps only, answer out there is: a little while.  Every hen is different.  Just be patient.  The girls are working out the kinks in their egg-laying systems.

Ha.  Easy for them to say, when we are waiting on pins and needles for those perfect eggs.

Here's my answer.  My hen (and I'm not sure whether it was the cinnamon queen or the barred rock--I used to think it was the cinnamon queen, but now I'm leaning toward the rock, based on other clues that have come to light), laid rubber/shell-less/thin shelled eggs every day, sometimes multiple per day, for 9 days, then started laying regular hard-shelled eggs.  Again, every hen is different, but perhaps that will give you a little peace of mind in the midst of what seems like a never-ending string of weird rubber-like eggs.

I need to be straight with you here and let you know that during that string of weird eggs, the temperature was warmer than usual, which might have been a contributing factor in the longevity of the rubber egg run.  But there it is.  Nine days, and probably 20 eggs.  I'm pretty sure we didn't even find all of them.

All right, so, back to the update, for those of you who are not compulsively googling about thin-shelled eggs (those of you who are, are welcome to stay for the update, too).

The girls have been with us for 20 weeks, which is about 4 1/2 months.  We've been getting 1 or 2 cute little eggs a day pretty consistently for about a week, which is fun.  It's a little like a treasure hunt.  I mean, when you have 2 dozen laying hens, pretty much anytime you decide to go check the nest boxes, you're going to find eggs, but not when you only have two.

A lot of people assume that chickens lay their eggs at the same time every day, but that's not true.  It takes more than 24 hours for an egg to form, so the girls lay the eggs more than 24 hours apart.  We haven't quite figured out the girls' laying schedule yet, so we just go when the mood strikes us, and sometimes we find an egg or two.

Speaking of having two laying hens, on Sunday morning, we found another two shell-less eggs.  So it's possible Esther is getting close to laying, or it's possible that Rocky succumbed to the heat and wasn't able to keep those eggs in long enough for the shells to deposit (one was perfect except for the lack of shell; the other was pretty much a yolk in a membrane. We know it wasn't Toasty Crunch, because she laid an egg later in the day, and there's no way she would have had time to form a third, perfect egg in that amount of time).  My gracious, y'all.  It was so hot.  And those poor chickens are wearing down coats.  It's ok if it gets hot during the summer, 'cause they're acclimmated to it, but this time of year?  Nope.  Not a good situation.

I helped the girls cool down a little bit using a three pronged aproach.  First, I gave them strawberries frozen in water, to cool them from the inside out.  Second, I put ice in their waterer.  Third, I made a little icewater bath that they could stand in, if they chose.  I don't think it helped a whole lot, but they did seem to appreciate my efforts.  And now, it's cool again, and we're all much happier and less pant-y.

And now for the Toasty Crunch show (she was exceptionally photogenic these past two weeks, I guess)!
Climbing the tractor trailer to get a better view.  After this, she flew onto the arm of my chair and then tried to fly up to my shoulder or head (not sure which, because she didn't make it that far, what with the flailing human-arms in her way)
Peeking out of the nest box

Just a boy and his chicken.
This was the best I could do between the uncooperative chicken and the boy who kept making weird expressions.

Esther, panting in the heat (just making sure you're paying attention)

Dust bathing.  Look how fluffy!

Fresh eggs
Top row from Toasty Crunch, bottom row from Rocky, along with a store-bought egg for size comparison
For those of you who are wondering, yes, I am still buying eggs, although I only bought one dozen yesterday, rather than my usual 2 or 3.  Like I said, we've been getting one or two eggs a day, and I'd estimate they add up to about a dozen a week.  The eggs we're getting from our girls are about half size, which is actually kind of nice--there have been many times when I've wanted half an egg for various reasons--now I've got some.

I guess that's all for now.  I don't know if you've noticed this, but I love those silly birds.  They're more than just chickens; maybe I'll explain someday.  I miss Austro and Red, and I often think about how it would be if they were still with us.  My sis said they're probably out in the world having a grand adventure.  That's a much better way to picture them.  <3

Monday, September 25, 2017

Menu plan for the week of September 25

It has been unseasonably warm here for the past several days.  It's autumn, according to the calendar, the meteorologists, and the position of the earth relative to the sun, but we've been in the high 80s and even over 90°, and humid.  I'm not positive, but I think this past week has been hotter than it even got during the summer (we were out of town during the hottest week of the summer, so it's possible it was warmer then).  It's reminded me of my week on a mission trip in Tennessee: it was so hot and humid that I would dry off after my shower, and immediately be wet again.  Yuck.

When it's hot (and humid), it's hard to even think about food, but somehow, I managed to come up with a menu for this week.  And praise God, it's supposed to be much cooler for the next several days.

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



Monday, September 18, 2017

Menu plan for the week of September 18

Hi everyone.

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


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

18 weeks

Remember when I said I was ready to deal with all of the stuff that goes along with owning chickens?

It turns out I was wrong.  

A week ago, the girls were out free ranging.  Two of our chickens didn't come home that evening, and they are presumed dead.

I am distraught.  It's not like I didn't know that things like this might happen, but still, I feel sad, and guilty, and like I failed my girls.  This is definitely my fault.  I still get teary when I think about it.  Those poor, sweet chickens...  

We don't even know what happened to them, although that's probably a blessing, because having the image of their torn-apart bodies in my brain would make this even worse.  It seems very strange for two of them to go missing together--chickens are so skittish, there's no way a single predator would be able to get two of them.  Nevertheless, they are gone.  I'm trying to take comfort in the fact that they had a good life.  It's not working very well.  It's the guilt.

The other chickens seem to be adjusting to their new normal.  Here they are eating some fermented feed.  Well, two of them were--Esther kept pecking at the bowl--it was the first time I used a yellow bowl for their feed, and she wasn't quite sure what was happening.

Esther, Rocky, and Toasty Crunch

I don't think I can let the girls free range anymore, and they really, really want to...

Before the tradgedy, the girls introduced themselves to the family of deer that frequents our back yard.

In other news, we found something eggstra in the nest box on Saturday.

It was pretty eggsciting.  We think that part of the yolk didn't make it into the egg (here's how an egg forms)--we're postulating that's what the yellow stuff is to the left of the egg (the "egg" on the right is a nest egg).

I'm amazed and impressed that this egg appeared in the nest box.  I mean, we put the ceramic eggs in there to show the girls where eggs go, but if they've never laid an egg before, how do they know that there's an egg coming out?  Such clever girls.

It was a cute little egg, as first eggs often are.

We think Rocky laid this egg, because her comb and wattles are the reddest and she was the only one who had been doing the submissive squat, but since we didn't catch her in the act, we're not sure.

 Rocky.  That chair in the background is where I sit to watch the girls (it's usually on the other side of the coop, but I move it around to get the best view).  I've heard of chickens being used as therapy animals and I can understand why.

 Poor Esther--the confinement is taking its worst toll on her.  She paces frantically back and forth in front of (or is that behind?) the door whenever I approach the coop.  Makes sense, since she's descended from jungle fowl.  Esther kept wanting to photobomb with her fluffy cheeks.  No wattles and her pea comb is still pink. 

 Toasty Crunch, looking prehistoric.  Just in the past week her wattles have gotten bigger and her comb has gotten redder.  She did the submissive squat for the first time on Sunday.

On Tuesday morning, Toasty greeted me with a loud bok, bok, bok-bok, baaaaaawk, as I walked out to the coop.  It seemed like she was trying to tell me something.  Turns out she was.

Now these are the weird, misshapen, thin-shelled eggs I was eggspecting for the girls' first eggs.  I think Toasty's is the oblong one, for various reasons.

Two chickens laying, one to go!  We're crossing our fingers for blue or green eggs from Esther.

Red and Austro <3
Miss them.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Menu plan for the week of September 11

Things are about to get even more complicated at supper time, friends.  AKD begins working two evenings a week this week, and Cub Scouts starts up next week.  Will we ever eat supper as a family again?  Sure.  As soon as bike season is over.

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



Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Menu plan for the week of September 4

Welcome to actual September, my friends.

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



Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Sixteen week chicken update

Inquiring minds want to know: got eggs, Scarlet?  Nope.  No eggs.  But I'm sure they'll come any day now.  Yup.  Any day.

Here's what the girls are looking like these days:

Austro.  I really wish I could get my camera to capture the green/blue sheen in her feathers.  You can see it just a little bit here.  By the way, those are the nest boxes in the background that the girls are so interested in.  For some reason, they compulsively eat the wood shavings.

Esther is just SO FLUFFY!  Don't you just want to squeeze those cheeks?!

Red, looking at me like whatchu lookin' at chicken lady?  Red is definitely the leader of this crew and she's taken to following me around.  Which means they all follow me around.  I'm so flattered that they want to be with me.  Red still has the reddest comb and wattles.

Rocky, with fermented feed on her beak.  AKD thought she looked like a grumpy old grandpa in the picture from the last update, and I have to admit, she kind of does here, too.

Toasty Crunch, looking somewhat confused.  She's always the first to follow Red's lead, which is funny, because she was always the first to join in with Rocky's antics as a chick.  I guess she's a good follower.

 Here's a picture of the roost in the run.  It was naptime for everybody...

 Except Toasty.

I thought that since our first 50 lb bag of chick food lasted for a little more than 10 weeks, that the 40 lb bag I bought subsequently would last for 8 weeks.  I was wrong, and since the recommendations are to feed chick food until the girls lay their first egg or are 18 weeks old (whichever comes first), I bought an additional 25 lb bag this weekend.  At the same time I picked up some oyster shell to provide supplemental calcium.  Just in case someone wants to lay an egg before the chick food is gone (chick feed has less calcium and a little more protein than layer feed).

In line with my cheap and lazy chicken directives, I used a repurposed cool whip container, attached with pipe cleaners to the wall of the run (I would have used zip ties, but I couldn't find where Hubby is hiding them).  Supposedly, chickens are self-regulating, and will only eat the oyster shell if they actually need more calcium, so it's recommended that one leave supplemental calcium out all the time.

Once the girls are laying, I can save, dry, and grind up their own egg shells to use for supplemental calcium, but I guess they could pick up microorganisms their bodies aren't used to if they eat eggshells from another source, so that will have to wait (I was disappointed that I actually had to buy oyster shell, when I had a source of calcium already, but the girls' health comes first).

 The other day, Red climbed up into this tree.

Of course, once she got up there, she wasn't quite sure how to get down.  It doesn't look like it, but she was about 6 feet up from the ground on the side she was trying to get down to.  She eventually managed a glide/flight to the ground to rejoin her sisters.

And I will leave you, once again, with fluffy chicken butts.  Here are the girls settling in for a preening session on the hen house roost.

I think they need a mirror.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Menu plan for the week of September -4

Y'all.  I realized something last week.

I think it's September.

You know how sometimes you go through a whole day thinking it's a different day than it is? If you don't, please don't tell me.  I need to think I'm not the only crazy one.  Well, I've been going through weeks of thinking it's a different month than it is.  Someone will tell me something is happening in September, and I'll think to myself, well, that's just a few days from now.  Even if it's something that is happening September 15.  September 15 is any day now, because it's been September for two and a half weeks.

And yes, I know that if it's been September for two and half weeks, it is at least September 17, which is two days after September 15, but since whoever is telling me the thing is speaking about it in the future, it can't have happened yet.

I'm serious, y'all.  I keep thinking September is almost over and anything that is happening in September is happening within 2 days from now.  This is going to be the longest September ever.

The reason, of course, is because in the state which the Bluefield family currently calls home, schools have to get special permission to begin before September 1.  There's a law.  Which our school system, of course, did.  But the fact remains: the kiddos have never started school in August (except for one kid, one year).  That's right, folks, every school year, for the past 12 years, except this one, has begun in September.

(omygosh, y'all, I just checked the website for the school AKD attended for the first half of kindergarten to see when they started this year (September -11, or as you all probably refer to it, August 21), and there's a blurb on the website about their asbestos management plan!  Yikes!  They also publish their bus schedules online, with addresses.  Yup, sex offenders, here's where the kids will be and what time)

Anyway, I think it's September.  In four days I will be right.  On to the menu.


I had an "other" breakdown this week, because the grocery store with the sale on chicken was out of stock when I got there (and I didn't bother to go back), and I opened up my bean storage bin to find that I didn't have any dry pinto beans.  I didn't make the yogurt because I was specifically making it for the avocado chicken salad, which I couldn't make because we have no chicken.  And...I just realized I'm not going to be able to make Chicken Broccoli Braid on Monday... 

So, although I did make Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies and Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins, I did not make any of the things that were actually on my "other" list last week.  I'm making a trip to the warehouse store early in the week, and hopefully we'll be back in business.  

Let's try this again.


Monday, August 21, 2017

Menu plan for the week of August 21

This is so weird, y'all.  The kids being back in school so early.  Just...weird.

So they've had two days of school, and we're waiting for the schedule to settle.  As I've mentioned, the reason school started so early this year is because the high school is undergoing some improvements.  We started early this year, and will start late next year, to allow a longer summer period without students in the building.  As a result of the ongoing construction, bus schedules have been completely reimagined, and busses have been running late.  So late.  Which means that this year, it'll take longer to fall back into "normal."  In fact, we might not get back to "normal" until the kiddos are done with their fall sports.

In the meantime, I'm doing my best with the menu plan.  Here's what we're planning on eating this week, and I'm gonna do my best to make it actually happen.



Thursday, August 17, 2017

I survived...and updates

Are y'all familiar with the I Survived series by Lauren Tarshis?  I think my first exposure was when AKD read I Survived the Sinking of the Titanic, 1912.  He went through a Titanic phase, as many boys do, during which he read pretty much every Titanic book ever written.

The books are historical fiction, aimed at about a 2nd-5th grade level, and they focus on disasters and wars and other terrifying events in history.

I was thinking we needed to add a new book to the series last weekend:
I Survived 48 Hours Without Internet, 2017!

Yeah.  It was touch and go there for a while, but we made it through.  Turns out a family of wasps had taken up residence in our junction box, and they chewed through the fiber optic cables.  What?  How is that even a thing?  And why don't they protect those things better if they're that fragile?

Anyway...that's the excuse I'm giving for not getting a menu post up this week.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

I also did not get a chicken update up this week.  The excuse I'm giving for that is I was involved in a focus group.  It was interesting and rewarding, but I can't tell you any more about it (except that if you want to be involved in a focus group, too, you can sign up for the company I work for here).

So the girls are 14 weeks now.
Toasty Crunch

Esther--look how long her neck is

Austro has the most gorgeous feathers.  They're black, of course, but in certain light, they're green/blue iridescent

Red has the biggest and reddest comb and wattles.  They're still not very big or red, though.

We raised the roost to its final height of about 2 feet above the hen house floor last week, opened the nest boxes, and installed some ceramic eggs.  The idea is that the eggs will show the girls where they're supposed to lay their eggs, and if they do happen to peck at them, they will quickly learn that eggs are not worth pecking at.  Because chickens are cannibals.  And we don't want any of that egg-eating nonsense going on around here.

We also put together a dust bath, and installed a roost in the run.  So far, the girls seem more interested in eating the contents of the dust bath than bathing in it.  And I don't have pictures of any of those things, because I forget to bring a camera out with me when I visit the girls.  So...I'll just leave you with this picture of a fluffy chicken butt.

That's Red, in case you were wondering.

And, my excuse for not giving you a garden update is...well, there's not much to share.  I never did get any tomatoes in the ground, although I finally planted the corn, about 6 weeks later than intended.  Whoops.  It's taller than me, but probably not as tall as it should be.  Despite all that, there are some ears growing.  I guess we'll just see what happens.  And, I have more corn seeds for next year.

Tried to get all artsy and take this photo on an angle.  Turns out it just looks weird. 

The strawberries have done well this year, and what I'm most excited about in the strawberry realm (beside that fact that we figured out how to keep rodents from eating them) is the plants sent out runners this year that took root.  Pretty soon our 4x4' bed will be full of strawberry plants.

Our zucchini plants are finally producing.  This is the zucchini that's been selected to stay on the plant to see how big it will get.  Yeah.  Because we need to know.

Also in the bed with the strawberries and zucchini, I planted four onions.  'Cause my sis sent them to me.  I think they're done, but it's kind of hard to tell with root veggies.  And since we don't need them for anything right now, they're staying in the ground.

I planted carrots, and a grand total of three of them sprouted.  Again, root veggies, so I'm not sure how I'll know they're ready.  I planted to rest of my carrot seeds today.  There's definitely not enough time for them to mature before we get frost, but they're in a pot, so I can easily cover them or bring them inside.  I also began a new succession planting (that's where I plant some each week for a staggered harvest) of radishes today.  They mature in about 30 days, so we should be able to get a few groups of them before frost.

And finally, as of now, we have apples on our trees.  I feel like we had apples on our trees last year at this time, too, but somehow they all disappeared before harvest.  Hopefully we'll get something this year, because we're down to our last 8 or 9 jars of applesauce.

And that leaves me with the final update.  The kiddos started school today.  And we got pictures.  Before school.  Whoohoo!

Last first day of high school

First first day of high school

Fourth grade
I blinked, y'all.

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