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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Big Momma's House

Last week I posted about the 5'2" visitor we had in the coop.  And L no longer has a philosophy that every good snake is a dead snake (I'm less certain of this policy, but I am not in charge of these issues, and don't want to be either) unless it is poisonous or in the act of doing something that it shouldn't, like heading into coop for a snack.

This week Big Momma showed up.

Thankfully it was L who found her.

He was in the coop to pick up eggs and found Big Momma with her mouth on an egg about to down it.

She was busted!

So he came in and said get your camera, we have another snake.  Isn't he just the most thoughtful guy?  I think so too!

He got it into a spot where he could take proper aim.  She didn't think to much of that idea.

Then the body removal... 
The we did the measuring. I had the option of standing on the head or pulling the tail.  Neither really appealed to me, so I stood on the blade of the hoe and he pulled on the tail to straighten her out.  
Five foot even.  
You can even see some of the snake spit on one of the eggs, and then her blood on another.

Now there is a wooded egg in the coop.  At least if there are children, or  third cousins once removed or uncles they will at least have indigestion working through the wooden egg.  

How much is a wooden egg you ask?  A wooden nickel of course.  

Friday, June 29, 2012

Frugal Friday--Chicken Barrier

I am running a little behind on my Frugal Friday tip this week, but better late than never.  I just wanted you to know I recognized I was a little behind.

A few weeks ago as our tomatoes started to ripen I began noticing that they were getting eaten with a little more regularity than previous years.  Turns out that when the chickens go in for a little snack of bug juice, they also like to take a nibble off of a tomato.

I could show you pictures of the mass destruction, but I just didn't have the heart to snap any photos.  They were sneaking in through the 4" square openings in the gate.  While that was sufficient to keep Missy out last summer, it nothing for them to squeeze their little bodies through.

But if I could block the gate with something and allow the gate to still be accessible, then I would have a win-win.

Two months ago my mom cleaned out her sewing room of all things that she no longer wants to keep and I ended up taking a few things into my collection.  You know important things like hook & eyes, small velcro buttons, short ends of ribbon, yarn, cut pieces of applique,

a nice 2.5 yard piece of cotton duck.  Some of them had to be at least from 1988.

So I combined a lot of these items and made a gate cover.  At least that is what I labeled it on my 'list'.
Isn't it cute???
The good news is that it does keep out the chickens.
The bad news, the rabbits are still getting in and boldly feasting on the green beans.  The one I ran out last night keep squishing up its nose saying hold on, just a few more bites before it finally left.

The tomatoes are already starting to look better.

It might be time to make salsa.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Weekly Menu 6/30+


turkey burgers
baked beans

garlic bread

fruit cocktail

chicken alfredo
angel hair pasta
banana split cake

hot dogs
macaroni salad

blueberry chocolate chip bacon bit  pancakes

make your own pizza

Grocery Deals 6/27+

Sprouts        Cherries 1.69/lb (vs 3.77 HEB), seedless watermelon $3 (vs $4 Randalls), oranges .99/lb, , red/black/green grapes 1.99/lb, celery .99, green beans .99/lb, cucumbers .50, green bell peppers .50, cluster tomatoes .99/lb, zucchini .99/lb, avocado .50, red/yellow bell peppers .99, pork chops/roast 1.99/lb
HEB                blueberries 1.47/pt (vs $2 Sprouts), mangos .50, corn .17 (vs. Sprouts.33), sweet potatoes .67/lb, zucchini .87/lb, legs/thighs $1/lb, chicken fajitas 1.97/lb, beef fajitas 2.97/lb, mayo/miracle whip 2.23, ice cream 3.50
Randalls         NY strip or sirloin 4.99/lb, Ribeye 5.99/lb, brisket 1.49/lb, corn .17, lettuce .99, strawberries 1.77 (vs $2 Sprouts), Bluebell 3.99
Friday only: $5 deli pizza
Friday-Monday: pre-cooked baby back ribs $5

Friday, June 22, 2012

What Sort of Visitor is 5' 2"?

Who is 5' 2", has brown eyes and dark skin?  And came to visit under the crescent moon?

Friday night I went out to lock up the chickens and as I moved the angled board that keeps the door propped open all day I saw him/it.  Well at least the first foot of it.  

I pretty much went squealing like a little girl into the house where cooler heads prevailed, mostly because there was chocolate ice cream involved.

But if you guessed a big chicken snake earlier, then you were right.  The first foot of him was headed in for a snack, and the other four feet were wrapped around the far side of the coop.  

L says we can't have chicken snakes in the chicken coop, which I was thankful to hear.  Snakes in the coop have been my #1 concern about having chickens since they first arrived.

So he, the snake, not L, went to swim with the fishes tonight.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Happy First Day of Summer

As you might imagine it's been plenty hot already here.  We've been enjoying our red-neck pool nearly every day.  Yesterday was one of those days that we didn't jump in, because it was too cool outside at only 84.  We decided that two days of only 80 degree highs would make the water too cold for us thin-blooded types.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Weekly Menu 6/23+


PW meatballs
fried potatoes
oatmeal chipper skillet

chicken parmesan
angel hair with pesto
spinach salad
garlic bread

beef stroganoff

baked ranch chicken
creamed corn
green beans

sausage wraps
mac & cheese

ez salisbury steak
red potatoes

king ranch chicken
avocado & tomatoes

Grocery Deals 6/20+

Sprouts       blueberries 1.69/pt (vs 2.88 HEB), cherries 1.99/lb (vs 4.99 Randalls), oranges .88/lb, cantaloupes $2, strawberries $2/lb, red/black grapes 1.49/lb (vs 1.99 Randalls), lettuce .88, red/yellow/orange peppers .88, avocados .88, celery .99, zucchini .99/lb, cluster tomatoes .99/lb
HEB               corn .25, white grapes 1.77/lb (vs 1.99 Randalls), cantaloupe .97, gold potatoes 2.97/5#, sirloin 3.97/lb, pork chops 1.97/lb, whole chicken .77/lb
Randalls       93% lean ground beef 2.99/lb, pork ribs 1.99/lb, leg quarters .59/lb,  spinach .99 (vs 2.50 HEB), black plums, strawberries 1.99/lb
Friday only:  strawberries $5/3#
Walgreens  eggs $1/dozen (thru Saturday). 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Tuesday's Terrific Tip--Paint Touchups

You might remember the early morning hole that I punched in the wall with my left knee.  You can read about it here.

I am happy to report that thanks to J's regular reminder that it would be my responsibility to fix that and pay for it.  The repair has finally been completed.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Frugal Friday--Free Fun Stuff To Do

One of my dedicated readers J who is always searching for fun things to do sent me the following: 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Weekly Menu 6/16+


grilled chicken
buttered noodles
green beans

baked potatoes
chocolate banana pudding


chocolate chip pancakes
orange slices
sausage links

grilled panini
home fries

strawberries & yogurt

fish sticks
tater tots

J had quite a few contributions to the menu this week, particularly starting with Tuesday and beyond. 

Grocery Deals 6/13+

Sprouts     cherries 1.67/lb (vs 2.77 HEB, 4.99/lb Randalls--YIKES), pineapple, strawberries, cantaloupe $2, blueberries 2.50 (pt), Red/green bell      peppers .49, yellow/orange peppers .88, lettuce .88 (vs. .99 Randalls), avocados .88 (vs 1.25 Randalls), celery .88, onions .50/lb, cabbage .50/lb
                      Fri-Sat-Sunday only:  corn 3/$1, cheddar 1.99/lb (best price), roasted almonds 2.99/lb, 85% lean ground beef 2.99/lb, BlueBell ice cream 3.99.

HEB               pears .98/lb, peaches .98/lb, corn 3/$1, chicken breasts $1/lb, HEB sliced cheese 2.47                                                                                                              

Randalls      NY strip 4.77/lb, corn 3/$1

Monday, June 11, 2012

Tip Tuesday--Candle Extraction Made Easy

This is a continuation of our series of great ideas from Girls Club almost a month ago now.  This week's idea comes from Marketing Director T who likes to burn a lot of candles.  I'm pretty sure she doesn't burn them at both ends.  That honor belongs to a different person--St is guilty of that these days.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

What's Happenin' Round Here

I have heard from a few readers that they miss hearing about the chickens, and various other things going on around here.  So I thought I would provide an update to you via a picture tour of some things I've been doing.  I wanted to confirm for you that I'm not just sitting on the couch eating bon bons nor am I just sitting on my hands waiting for something to happen either.

We bought four more chickens, but these aren't them.
They are still very skittish and worried every time anyone walks too close to them.  But these three girls were enjoying the last six Easter eggs that hadnt been eaten.  It was time for them to go so I sent J outside with a small hammer and he had a blast busting them open.  The chickens were quick to come over and eat the eggs.  Yeah, we think that's weird and sick too.  Seems almost cannibalistic of them; they were store bought eggs so just distant cousins, not the Donner Party or anything like that.  See doesn't it sound much more normal now.  I didn't think so.

B & I started our next quilt project.  This will be a 'couch blanket'.  Yes, I know we could warm up the a/c , but it is nice to have a little something to snuggle under, even in the summer and L & I don't always agree on what a comfortable temperature is, so this helps me be more comfortable.

I attempted to be random in putting this together, but I know there is a method to the madness.  Can you also see it???
 The shorter two block column is what has already been sewn together.  I didn't follow the directions very well and this seemed like a good place to stop once I figured that out.

When the swallows came back in March we thought, wow there aren't very many of them this year.
We don't think that now.  The nest right outside the computer window has a bumper crop of babies--six!  usually someone 'falls' out of the nest, but these guys are all flying and have survived.  It's crowded up there, but they are so cute to watch.

J and I put the pool up about a week ago.  I received a full chemistry lesson at the pool store and caught about 35% of it.  Calcium ions are positively charged and they need something to bond with beside the side of the pool; check.  Free water balancing and testing can happen at our store every time you come to town; check.

It sure is nice, especially this afternoon when it was 98 degrees outside.

And I've been working in the garden.  I estimated I need to apply 8 man-hours to get the weeds under control.  everything looked like this when I started.

Now this is what I am seeing after six hours.
still some work to be done, but not too shabby...

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Weekly Menu 6/9+


alabama chicken
corn on the cob

panfried pork chops
super mashed potatoes
green beans

fish tacos
purple cows

el rancho grande
yellow squash
banana pudding

carrot sticks
berry parfaits

farmers market stir fry
chocolate pudding

homemade pizza

Alabama Chicken (America’s Test Kitchen –I think)
White BBQ Sauce
cup  mayonnaise 
tablespoons  cider vinegar 
teaspoons  sugar 
teaspoon  prepared horseradish 
teaspoon  table salt 
teaspoon  ground black pepper 
teaspoon  cayenne pepper 

teaspoon  table salt 
teaspoon  ground black pepper 
teaspoon  cayenne pepper 
whole chickens (3 1/2- to 4-pound), patted dry and split, (see photos)
cups  hickory wood chips 
Vegetable oil for grill grate
For the sauce: Mix all ingredients in blender until smooth, about 1 minute.
Refrigerate sauce in airtight container for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.
For the chicken: Mix salt, black pepper, and cayenne in small bowl. Rub spice mixture all over chicken.
Soak wood chips in bowl of water to cover for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, open bottom grill vents completely. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (about 90 coals) and burn until charcoal is covered with fine gray ash. Place 13 by 9-inch disposable aluminum roasting pan in center of grill. Pour half of coals into pile on each side of grill, leaving pan in center. Scatter wood chips evenly over coals and set cooking grate in place. Cover, with lid vents positioned over center of grill and opened halfway. Let grill heat for 5 minutes.
Dip wad of paper towels in oil and oil grate, holding paper towels with long-handled tongs. Place chicken skin side down on center of grill. Cover (with half-opened lid vents over chicken).
Grill chickens until skin is well browned, 35 to 45 minutes. Flip chickens skin side up and grill, covered, until breast meat registers 165 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 15 to 20 minutes longer.
Transfer chickens to cutting board, brush with 2 tablespoons sauce, tent with foil, and let rest 10 minutes. Remove foil and brush chicken with 1 tablespoon sauce. Carve and serve, passing remaining sauce at table.

Corn on the cob

Pan-Fried Pork Chops
Salt and Pepper meat, dredge through flour, then fry in a small amount of oil in heavy skillet.  Flip when the edges start to look cooked. 
Super Mashed Potatoes
2-3 c mashed potatoes
Sour cream
Grated cheddar cheese
Chopped green onions (if you like that sort of thing)
Bacon bits (no fake-o’s please)
French’s Fried Onions
Green Beans

Fish Tacos
Cook fish (ie open the bag of Gorton’s and heat up) and place in a tortilla with ketchup or tartar sauce. 
Cole Slaw
Purple Cows
Chill grape soda and pour over ice cream to make grape floats that are purple.  If you get the soda cold enough when it hits the ice cream it will make a wonderful crystal of creamy grape goodness.

This is so much fun to say, especially if you really roll your R’s.  Reminds me of Sra. Chapman’s Spanish class…Erre con erre cigarro…. Sorry I got side tracked. 
If you want to get crazy indulgent with the pudding you can substitute ½ cup of cream for the ½ cup of the milk.  You can finish using the rest of the cream on Wednesday. 
El Rancho Grande
2 c cooked ground beef
6 tsp (1 packet) taco seasoning mix
1 small bell pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
½ c chopped celery
16 oz can of diced tomatoes, undrained
2 c water
1 c egg noodles (6 oz)
Sautee the veggies, then add in remaining ingredients and simmer 20 minutes.  Top with American cheese if desired

Yellow Squash
Banana Pudding
Layer vanilla or banana flavored pudding with slices of fresh bananas and ‘nilla wafers. 

Spam Egg & Cheese Sandwiches
Carrot Sticks
Berry Parfait
Layer vanilla yogurt, berries and crushed up pecan sandie cookies (or skip the cookies)

Farmers’ Market Stir Fry (Kraft Food & Family)
½ lb linguine, cooked
1 ½ lb boneless chicken, cut in strips
½ tsp pepper
2T olive oil
3 zucchini sliced (small ones, not the mondo size I made three zucchini breads out of today)
3 squash, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ c 3-cheese blend (parm, romano, mozzarella)
¼ c chopped fresh basil
¼ c parmesan cheese

Sprinkle chicken with pepper.  Heat oil in large nonstick skillet on medium heat.  Add chicken; cook 5-7 min on each side or until done.  Remove to plate; cover to keep warm.  Add additional oil if needed.  Add squash; sitr-fry 3 min.  Add garlic; cook an additional 3 minutes.  Toss with pasta.

Chocolate Pudding

Nana sent me this dough recipe and I made it up for supper tonight.  It was super easy, didn’t need to rise before baking.  I didn’t cut the recipe in fourths as she did so it made a sheet pan’s worth of pizza.  Enough for us to have some leftovers which is nice.  I also had some leftover meat sauce from spaghetti that I made last week and used that instead of a fresh jar of sauce. 

Nana: Tonight I had a link of Italian sausage (almost a half-pound) and decided to make pizza.  Also had all sorts of little tidbits that could be used up on a pizza.  Found this pizza dough recipe that I cut in fourths.  It was very thin and crunchy.

Homemade Pizza

3/4 c. warm water
1 pkg. yeast
2 1/2 c. Bisquick
Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add Bisquick and beat. Turn on floured surface, knead until smooth (20 times). Divide dough into 4 pieces. Roll paper thin 10". Place on ungreased baking sheet. Put on toppings. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.


Grocery Deals 6/6+

Sprouts     cherries 1.99/lb (vs 3.77 HEB), blueberries $2, blackberries $2 (vs $3 Randalls), strawberries $2, apricots 1.49/lb, oranges .99/lb, red/yellow/orange bell peppers .88 (vs .99 Randalls), broccoli .99/lb (vs 1.49 Randalls), green beans .99/lb, squash .99/lb, lettuce .88, tomatoes .88/lb (vs 1.47 HEB, 2.19 Randalls), avocados .88, cheddar cheese 2.99/lb

Randalls  chicken breast .99/lb, leg quarters .59/lb, pork chops 1.99/lb, 90% lean ground beef 2.99/lb, cantaloupe$2.50

HEB        corn .33, red grapes 1.27/lb, blueberries 2.98 (1pt), peaches .98 (vs 1.49 Sprouts), boneless breasts 1.97/lb, pork chops 1.97/lb, ice cream 3.50

Monday, June 4, 2012

Tuesday's Terrific Tip--The Fruits of Your Labor

This week's tip is from K.  She shared that her boss has encouraged her to purposefully block off two hours on Friday afternoon from 1-3pm to pull together her week and do a wrap up of the week.  Put finishing touches on small items.  Get things ready for next week, prioritize what needs to happen first thing Monday morning,