Tuesday, May 31, 2011


This is our one and only cat.  Actually we are his people.  Those of you who have cats know that you don't ever really own them, they own you.

He is an outside cat about 90% of the time.  He occasionally comes in the house and allows Scamper to torment him briefly before he unsheathes his claws, and shows her who is REALLY in charge.

He does a good job of keeping the mouse population to a minimum around our homestead.  In exchange we feed him cat food and allow him to take naps in our flower beds, and on top of our gas grill.

He has two habits that are rather annoying.  He cannot be petted without kneading something soft (my lap) and he also drools when you scratch his ears.  Besides those two minor faults he is an exemplary cat.

My husband ( a non-cat-lover ) puts up with Kasey's presence, and Kasey, in typical cat form, chooses to snobbishly ignore him. 

Out of sheer boredom Kasey will sometimes saunter over to our next door neighbors to fight with their cat.  Our neighbor lady solves this by shooting them with her water pistol--a very effective treatment.

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Friday, May 27, 2011

An Experiment

One of the things I enjoy most about gardening is trying something new. 

 For the last several years we have been plagued with tomato blight.  I know that it comes from the soil, but we have tried pretty much everything we could think of including spraying with chemicals to try to eradicate said blight with very little success.  Some years it seems less severe, and mulching heavily helps a little, but for the most part I simply plant plenty of tomatoes and plan on losing the plants after several weeks of production.

This year I'm trying something new.  Can you guess what this is?
If you said tomato plants you would be right.  However, they aren't planted in the garden.

 I planted the usual amount in our garden, but I reserved three plants for a little experiment. 

Three weeks ago we cleaned off the compost pile and spread it on our garden.   The soil underneath the pile was black and rich--as it hadn't been completely removed for several years. 

My husband suggested that we move the compost pile several feet--since we have two chicken coops right now and the current location would have been directly in front of one of the coops doors.

Over the next few days I kept eyeing that rich soil that had been hidden by compost.  Surely I could use it for something .

Then a light bulb went on in my head.  Why not try growing a few tomato plants there?  So, Monday I planted three tomato plants there.  I hope the compost is rotted well enough that it won't burn the plants.

  It's my little experiment for the year. 

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Rhubarb Sauce

This is a unique recipe, and one that is surrounded with fond memories for me.  My mom would usually make several rhubarb pies, and possibly a rhubarb crunch and then toward the end of the season she would make a batch of this.

  I have an odd attraction to sour flavors, and this sauce was-in my childish mind-the definition of perfection.  A mix of tart and sweet with a pale pink color that attracts your attention because it's so obviously not artificially colored.

 Oh yes, and it's simple to make which wins it a place in my recipe box.


3 cups finely chopped rhubarb

1 1/2 cups water

4 Tablespoons granulated tapioca

1 cup sugar -you can use a little more or a little less depending on how tart you like it

Cook rhubarb and water until soft. ( It only takes a few minutes.)  Add tapioca stirring to prevent lumping, and bring mixture back to a boil, and then turn off the burner.  Add sugar and stir until dissolved.  Pour into serving dish and chill. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ten Things About Me

1.  I'm a people person.  I love to talk to people.  Life without people would be boring, but I also need a little down time each day--away from people.

2. I love to read.  I read books, blogs, newspapers, magazines...... My house has many books, and the number is constantly increasing. 

3. I'm not very good with numbers.  They irritate me.  I keep the books for my husbands business only because I love him and it saves us money.

4. I got married very young.  I was a month away from turning 19 when I said "I do".

5.  I've never regretted number 4.  We have had our share of ups and downs, but he will always be my best friend.

6.  I don't enjoy grocery shopping.  If I could have my groceries delivered to my home ( and it didn't cost me more ) I would.

7.  I like animals.  I have a bad habit of talking to them like they are people, and sometimes this gets me some strange looks.

8.  I actually enjoy winter.  I do not like 80 plus degree weather.  I wouldn't want to live somewhere that was cold all year, but I enjoy a season of winter.

9. I'm not very coordinated.  I can't pat my head and rub my belly at the same time.  I fall over my own feet sometimes.

10. I don't like steak that much.  I don't exactly dislike it, but I don't ever get hungry for it.   Unfortunately this is one of my husbands favorite foods. : )

Okay, now its your turn.  Tell me something about yourself.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011



This is our homestead's watchdog. If you try to cross her she may bite your toenails off, or possibly lick you to death.

She doesn't know that she is a dog. She thinks she is a person. We let her think that most of the time.  However, she sleeps in a little cage, eats dog food, and chews bones.......none of the people in our house do that.

She is an Australian Terrier, or is it an Australian terror?  Quite likely one of the nicest small-breed dogs that we have ever owned.  She puts up with all sorts of nonsense from my children.  Also a little nonsense from my hubby who enjoys picking on her.

She-like most females-loves to talk. When we come home she bark/howls at us for a long time--telling us how glad she is to see us and what happened while we were gone.  Too bad we can't understand her.  I sometimes wish I knew what goes on in my house when I'm not here.  Other times I'm glad I don't.

She and Goliath ( the head rooster ) have frequent arguments thru the chicken fence.  Scamper thoroughly enjoys ruffling his hens, and he finds this highly distressing.  They seem to have a mutual peace agreement tho.  She goes tearing at the hens, Goliath runs after her, then they all settle down and she lays outside the chicken run and watches them scratch and peck.

Monday, May 23, 2011

When Plans Fail

Last week was a little busier than I expected, and as a result the only thing that was accomplished on my list was the garden seeds getting planted.  Life is like that--sometimes the best plans fail, and unexpected interruptions come up. 

The important thing is how we respond when our plans get rearranged.  I have to admit that I often get irritated and impatient with schedule changes.  This is something that I'm working on--being more flexible, and open to what God's plans are for my day.

My new updated list for this week.

1.  Clean venetian blinds in master bedroom.

2.  Clean off and organize laundry room shelf.

3.  Clean a little in the garage each day.

4.  Clean and put away humidifiers for the summer.

The garage is a project that I don't expect to accomplish in one week.  I'm hoping to work about an hour a day on it until it is done.  This may take me several weeks. 

I'm struggling to make the transition from school year to summer.  It always seems like the change in routine takes a week or two for us as a family to adjust.  I would be open for advice in this area. 

How does your family transition from the busier school year to the more relaxed (hopefully) summer?

Friday, May 20, 2011


If I had to choose a favorite flower it would probably be the lilac.  We have a huge mass of lilac bushes in our back yard.  The property that we live on was at one time part of the city dump.  The office building was on our land and the majority of the dump was on our neighbors land.  They must have had lilacs somewhere near the office and they have grown huge.  I don't mind this at all. : )

This picture is only about half of the entire bush.  The scent is so powerful right now that when I went for my walk yesterday I could smell them a long time before I could see them.  I wish there was a way you could bottle this scent and save it to smell all year. 
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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

White Chili

Kim is asking for our favorite bean or lentil recipes and I immediately thought of this one. 

This is the first meal I cooked for my husband when we were dating. 

I didn't realize that he liked Mexican food, and I scored all kinds of brownie points with this dish.  It may be why he asked me to marry him. : )

2 cups cooked shredded chicken

2 tablespoons cumin

1 quart of salsa (mild is best since this is the base for the soup)

1 quart great white northern beans ( you can use canned or cook dried ones)

8 ounces montery jack cheese

Cube or shred cheese, and mix with all other ingredients in crockpot.  Simmer for 3-4 hours.  Serve with corn chips.  Serves 4-6

A Walk


When little boys go for a walk--

they take along a bucket to take home "treasures" in.

they stop and inspect each road kill.

sometimes they try to pick the road kill off the road. : (

they throw stones in all the ditches to try to scare frogs.

they keep up a running commentary about what they see in the neighbors yards.

they remind mom repeatedly how HEALTHY the walk is in hopes that she will take them again tomorrow.

they discuss every car that passes them and whether they think they would like to drive one like it someday.

they come home and tear off to play while mom collapses on the couch.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Are You Waiting?

 Contentment is something that doesn't come easy for me, but it is something I need to cultivate.  I tend to be a "do it now and think about it later" kind of gal.  When I have to wait I get agitated and irritable.  However, I've noticed that I grow more when I have to wait.

Waiting forces me to depend on God in a way that I don't "have" to when everything is happening right on schedule.  As long as life keeps moving along I can get caught up in the next moment and forget to depend on the One who is allowing my every breath.

I also think the quiet waiting times are when I can best hear God's voice whispering to my heart.  There is nothing there to drown Him out. 

When you think about it our entire lives here on earth are essentially a waiting period before heaven.

How about you?  Are you waiting right now?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Grape Vines

Remember the grape arbor that was my project for Saturday? 

Well, it's done. 

It took me most of the day, but it's done.

When grape vines climb trees they do not do it delicately or timidly like a morning glory.

Oh no, they do it viciously, and wrap wooden tendrils around each limb they reach.

At one point I was pulling on the vine with all my weight trying to tug it down.

I truly hope the neighbors were not watching.

My list for this week will be a little short.

1. Clean venetian blinds in the master bedroom.

2. Clean off and organize the shelf in the laundry room.

3. Finish planting the seeds in the garden.

I'll let you know how it went on Friday.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Checking Off Mondays List

I'm finally updating on my list from Monday.  I was planning to do this yesterday, but the issues with blogger kept me from it.

Ok, here goes.....

1. I cleaned out my flower bed and fertilized it--I'm hoping to get some bark today to mulch it.

2. My sewing room is tidier than it has been in six months.

3. The winter coats are washed and stored, and the boots are stored--no, I don't wash my winter boots, I don't know why I worded it that way.

4. Due to weather issues the grape arbor is my project for today.

5. The snowfall was removed from the top of the desk, and filed--I even cleaned out a file drawer too!

I'm amazed at the motivation this list gave me.  I am a list person but posting it for others to read added a whole new level of urgency to getting the things done.

 I'm hoping to do another list on Monday, but I would like a little feedback.  Do you like reading my to-do lists for the week?

Friday, May 13, 2011

My Favorite Appliance

Allow me to introduce you to my favorite kitchen appliance.

Without it I would be in a continual state of brain fog.

Most of the time I think I would rather give up any appliance but this one.

That's right I would rather wash dishes BY HAND than do without my coffee.

The one feature I especially love is the automatic timer.

This allows me to enjoy coffee before I even fully open my eyes.

I just stagger to the kitchen pour and slurp......oh, first I add a little milk.

What's your favorite appliance?

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Things That Make You Happy

Decluttering is a constant battle at my house.  Sometimes it seems like for every thing I get rid of three more take their place. 

I try to keep at it because an orderly uncluttered house is a priority to me.  I know that my children play and work more contentedly in a picked up house, and my husband finds a tidy home more restful. ( Not that my home always fits that description, but it's a goal I aim at. )

 I came across a tip recently that helps me in my quest for neatness.
When you are trying to decide whether to keep something, give it away, or throw it away.  Stop and think whether the item makes you happy.  Let me explain. 

Does the "thing" in question annoy you because it's hard to dust or keep clean?  An example of this was a dried flower arrangement that I kept for years.  It was coated with a gummy layer of dust that I couldn't get off and every time I looked at it I felt irritated, yet I saved it because it was given to me by a friend.  This "thing" obviously didn't make me happy--so I decided to dispose of it.  Afterward I wondered why it had taken me so long.

Another example would be something that wasn't useful in your current living conditions.  I have an ironing board rack that is sitting on a closet shelf in my sewing room.  In our previous house it was mounted on the wall in the laundry room and my ironing board and iron fit neatly on it.  This house has no convenient place for it and yet I keep it.  Does it make me happy?  No!  It takes up space on my closet shelf that could be used for other things.

See how it works?  I just made the decision to donate something that was cluttering my closet.

What are some of your favorite decluttering strategies?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Am I Getting Old?

There was a time when I could wake up in the middle of the night and go right back to sleep--not anymore.

There was a time when I could plant garden all day, and my muscles didn't hurt the next day--not anymore.

There was a time when there were no little crinkles by my eyes (except when I was smiling)--not anymore.

There was a time when 35 was old and 40 seemed ancient--not anymore.

There was a time when I drank coffee not to wake up, but because it tasted good--not anymore.

There was a time when I worried too much about what people thought of me and not enough about what God thought of me--not anymore.

Am I getting old?

Nah........I'm just growing up.

Monday, May 9, 2011

It's Monday!

I have a love/hate relationship with Mondays.

I hate them because it is hard to get back into a routine after the weekend, but I love them because there is a whole long week stretching in front of me just waiting to be filled with activity.

Having said that--here is a list of things that I would like to accomplish this week.....in addition to the normal housework/homeschooling/gardening etc.

1. Clean out perennial bed and fertilize and mulch it.

2.  Organize my sewing room.  ( It looks like a natural disaster happened in there )

3.  Wash and store winter coats and boots.

4.  Prune and possibly downsize the grape arbor.  ( It's crawling up a tree........not good )

5.  Do some filing and paperwork in the office.  ( The top of the desk is buried under a 8 inch snowfall )

There!  Five things, that shouldn't be too hard to accomplish should it?  I'll let you know how it went on Friday.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

What Mothers Day Means To Me

For a long time Mothers Day was a holiday I wished did not exist.

I avoided it--like the plague.

My husband and I would go away and spend the day away from everyone, and pretend that it wasn't Mothers Day.

See, I wasn't a mother.

I wished that I was,

But I wasn't.

I would have moved heaven and earth to be a mother,

But I couldn't.

Then, a little over seven years ago all that changed.

For the first time in my life I was a Mother.

Suddenly, Mother's Day was something good, not just a painful reminder.

My life has never been the same.

But, there is a part of me that will never forget.

What Mothers Day feels like when you aren't a mother.

The pain is gone, but the memory is still there.

For those of you that are waiting.

That feel like it will never happen to you.

Please know that I understand.

Happy Mothers Day!

Friday, May 6, 2011


Friendship is something that I don't take lightly.  I grew up eleven years after my closest sibling and so without friends I would have been very lonely.

I often ponder what attracts certain friends to each other.  When I was younger I used to think that being the same age, and having very similar interests were the most important factors.  However, the older I get the less I think that is true. 

Don't get me wrong, most of the people that I would count as close friends are within ten years of my age, but as far as interests go the spectrum is pretty broad.

One of my best friends is a very creative person.  Her flower beds are beyond comparison, and her decorating in her home is gorgeous.  I, on the other hand, enjoy flowers, but don't have the patience to go much beyond a couple perennial beds.  My house reflects my personality with quite a hodge podge of this and that.  Having said that, I know that my friends creativity is part of what attracts me to her as a friend. When I need advice especially in the creativity department I know who to call.

Another close friend has an excellent eye for details, and authenticity.  If I'm not quite sure if I trust someone she is the one I ask.  I even asked for her opinion on my future husband. :) 

I guess my point in all of this is that a big part of friendship for me is an admiration of qualities in other people that I myself do not possess.

One definition of the word friend is; A person whom one knows, likes, and trusts.

I especially like that last word because it's a good reminder of what makes me a friend to others.  If I am not trustworthy I shouldn't be surprised if I don't have many close friends.

I should say that I think everyone goes thru seasons of their life when they feel more lonely, and like they don't have many friends.  I think this is one way that God draws us close to himself.  "A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother."  Proverbs 18:24  I also think that when we are feeling lonely is an excellent time to reach out to someone else who might be lonely.  Send a card, make a phone call, or drop off supper for another busy mom. 

I feel like I've been truly blessed with a number of wonderful friends.  If you are one of them, and you are reading this--Thank you for being my friend!!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Sweet and Sour Chicken

This is one of my families favorite dishes.  We all enjoy Chinese food, but don't enjoy some of the side affects of MSG-a common seasoning in Chinese dishes.  This recipe doesn't call for it and it's excellent and simple to make.

4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts

1 Green Pepper

1 Medium Onion

12 or 15 Baby Carrots

1/2 Cup of Ketchup

1/4 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar

2/3 Cup Sugar

3/4 Cup Water

1 Tablespoon Cornstarch

Cut the chicken breasts into bite size chunks. Fry in large frying pan in a little butter or olive oil until tender. (approximately 20 minutes)  Meanwhile chop the veggies in bite size chunks and make the sweet and sour sauce.  To make sauce mix ketchup, vinegar, and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Add cornstarch to the 3/4 cup of water and add to boiling ketchup mixture.  Bring back to a boil and cook till thick.  When the chicken is tender add the chopped veggies to the pan and cover.  Steam until veggies are crisp tender--about 5 minutes.  Serve chicken veggie mixture over steamed rice and drizzle the sweet and sour sauce over the top.  Delicious!!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Why "Chicken Scratchings"

There is a story behind my blog title.  No, I don't plan to post mostly about chickens--although they are a common theme around here.

My mom moved out of her home state several years after she married, and at that time snail mail was the cheapest method of communication.  Now, my mom is a proficient letter writer, but she had a single brother who was not.  He cared for his out-of-state sister however, and he did his very best.  His grammar and punctuation left something to be desired, and was a source of amusement to my mom.

  For one reason or another my mother has saved some of my uncle's letters, and occasionally I dig them out and read them.
One of the letters began with these words  "I hope you can read my chicken scratchings."  And thus the name of my blog was born. 

My uncle passed away several years ago, but I have some very fond memories of his love of the land.  He was a veteran homesteader who survived without many of the conveniences that I consider necessities.

 He never had very much in the way of worldly possession's, but was rich in contentment.  He had a profound limp that made his work slow and clumsy, and yet to my knowledge never complained.

His life was, and is an inspiration to me of perseverance and contentment.

Do you have someone in your past or present who inspires you?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


This is Goliath.  He is the top bird on our little homestead.  After several experiences with bad-tempered roosters a friend gave us this regal bird.  He rules the hens with a firm, but kind hand (or I guess I should say claw).  He makes sure they don't wander into potentially dangerous places to scratch for bugs, and he loves them unconditionally as only a rooster can.

My favorite thing about him though is that he doesn't chase my children or me.  I have a huge aversion to looking over my shoulder all the time for fear a naughty rooster might pounce on me.  It makes me feel like I'm a criminal and there is a resident policeman in my own back yard.  One with feathers and spurs.  Anyway...Goliath is a perfect gentleman.  He does occasionally give me the evil eye when I have to shoo his ladies away from somewhere, but he never acts on it.  Probably he mutters about me in chicken language behind my back, but I can live with that.

He almost looks like he is posing for the picture with one claw lifted delicately.
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Monday, May 2, 2011

My Favorite Time of Day

My favorite hours of the day are those before eight am.  Now don't get huffy if you're not a morning person.  I can't help it that between six (when my alarm goes off and the coffee maker goes on) and eight (when my children get up) is when my mind is most clear and I can make sense of life.  If I want to accomplish something worthwhile it is best started before eight. 
I think this is hereditary because I come from a long line of relatives who define sleeping in as getting up after seven.  Most of my friends including my husband are not early birds and so all the joy that could be shared in those early morning hours has to be kept to myself.
  When I was younger I thought I might outgrow this strange attraction to the early sunrise, but alas it has gotten worse.  If anything I wake up earlier than ever--sometimes a full forty-five minutes before my alarm. Most of the time when this happens I lay there with my eyes pinched shut and pretend that I'm still sleeping.
I've found that as a mother being a "morning person" has many advantages:

If I haven't tidied the house before I went to bed it can be done in the morning with a cup of coffee in one hand.

Morning is an excellent time for me to read my Bible and pray--there is no one to interrupt me.

I often start a load or two of laundry and by the time the sun comes up I can hang them on the line.

There are a few disadvantages:

When we are traveling and my husband (NOT a morning person) wishes to drive thru the night I am not very adept at keeping him awake. (he insists that snoring from the passenger seat doesn't work)

If we have company and they stay past ten, I become incoherent and the brunt of many jokes over stupid things I mutter in my half-awake state.

I've concluded that being a morning person is something about myself that I cannot change so I try to use it to my greatest advantage.  Also, it helps to laugh with people (night hawks) who enjoy cracking jokes at my expense.
What's your favorite time of day?