Monday, September 29, 2008

Explaining My Month of Nothing

We are about to embark on our Month of Nothing. I thought it would be good to explain how it is going to work, and why we decided to do it.

Why we are doing this:

In order to explain why we are doing this, I have to explain the opposite! We are not doing this because we "need" to save money (although couldn't we all stand to save some money - especially now in this economy?). We are doing just fine, thank you. We are not doing this to prove we are better than you are. I am only blogging about this to keep myself honest (and hopefully entertain all of you).

We are doing this to force ourselves to look at how we use money. We want to decide what is necessary and what we just really want. Could we do with less and still be happy?

We also want to have our children (and ourselves) gain an greater appreciation for what we do have. We have so much! We aren't rich by any means, and sometimes we feel downright poor. But the reality is, we are so blessed. When I look around me, and when I look around the world, I realize that we have so much. Too much, sometimes. The United States accounts for 4% of the world's population but we consume 25% of the world's fossil fuel supply. Americans throw out 200,000 tons of edible food daily. The average American generates 52 tons of garbage by age 75. The average individual daily consumption of water is 159 gallons, while more than half the world's population lives on 25 gallons. In a really, really sad statistic, there are more shopping malls than high schools in the US. We have become a consumer oriented society - and our family is just as guilty. We are hoping that a month of no spending will break us of the habit.

The Rules:

We are trying to spend only what is absolutely necessary.

I will have $50 a week for groceries. I have a very well stocked pantry so the $50 will be for milk, fresh fruit and veggies, some cheese, and anything else that we run out of that we really need. I'm not going to let my family starve, so if we are out of food and we need to spend $60 one week, I will. But I might make my family eat rice and beans for dinner or oatmeal for breakfast instead of going out and buying cereal or chicken.

Hubby and I are going to fill up the gas tanks at the end of this month (tomorrow - yikes!) and our goal is to not fill up again until November. This sounds crazy, and maybe it is, but we think it is doable. I walk to work every day. Hubby will drive to the lightrail stop and use public transportation to work. We can walk to church every Sunday. I will need to drive to the grocery store once a week and we have some family birthday parties to attend here in town. It will be a big stretch for Hubby, but I should be just fine.

We will not be going out to eat, or out to movies (except for the Saturday matinee movies that we already bought the tickets to), no movie rentals, no trips to Target for "stuff," no new clothes, nothing that we don't really, really, REALLY need.

As the month goes on, I'm sure I will be faced with choices. Remember those family birthday parties I told you about? How will we do presents? Make something? Buy something on sale? Write heartfelt notes? Well, we'll see. And what if something breaks during the month? Do we go buy new or do we try to do without? I'll just have to wait and see what comes up - and I'll be sure to post and tell you what I'm going through.

I mentioned yesterday that I'm going to be going to Costco tomorrow to buy a few things (a $75 budget). I'm not trying to stock up, I just don't want to start the month with a deficit either. We are out of a few things (or almost out of) and I don't want to start the month already behind.

Wish me luck.

Oh! On a really positive note (and a totally consumer note) we got our new camera today. That means that I'll be able to post pictures of this adventure. Lots of pictures of sad teenagers and disappointed seven year olds. Should be fun.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - Month of Nothing Edition

After reading all about Mary's adventures with a month of nothing over at Owlhaven, I was intrigued. I really wanted to do something similar but wasn't sure if I'd be able to get my family to go along with it. Then my 15 yo saw the article, "My Family's No-Buy Experiment," in Reader's Digest and said, "Hey Mom, we should totally do this!"

So, we're doing it.

Starting October 1 (which is Wednesday - yikes!), we will be embarking on a Month of Nothing. What this means is that we will be buying NOTHING that isn't necessary and very carefully deciding whether we really have to buy those things we consider necessary. For example, Hubby and I will be filling our tanks with gas before the month starts and the goal is to not fill them again until November. I have budgeted $50 a week for groceries for my family of 6 (don't panic! I have a well stocked pantry, also know as the Crazyville Food Shoppe, and I'm not going to let my family starve just to prove a point.) We won't be going out for dinner during the month, or renting movies, or taking trips to the ice cream store. We will make do or do without. (Confession: I will be taking a trip to Costco on Tuesday to stock up on a few things we are either out of or almost out of. I am giving myself a budget of $75, because it wouldn't really be fair to spend $300 and then brag about how I "only spent $50 a week on food!")

So here is the first week of menus for our Month of Nothing:

  • Oatmeal, frozen berries
  • Cereal (still have lots from our stock up)
  • Toast with jam or peanut butter, fruit
  • This is going to be the hardest part of the Month of Nothing. I usually buy a lot of
    convenience foods - cheese sticks, Wheat Thins, lunch meat, Babybel cheeses, etc. I don't buy Lunchables or prepackaged applesauce or whatever but packing lunches is hard from scratch!
  • Peanut butter and jelly
  • leftovers (for Hubby and I)
  • applesauce and graham crackers, fruit, cheese sticks (while I still have them)
  • yogurt with granola
  • Bean soup with bread (make extra bread for snacks for the week)
  • Spanish Tortilla, tomatoes from the garden
  • Zucchini Pie, bread sticks
  • Bean burritos with homemade refried beans, rice, cheese, etc
  • Vegetarian Slow Cooker Something (I borrowed my friend's vegetarian slow cooker cookbooks, so I pick something to try)
  • homemade granola bars
  • Cinnamon Bread
  • Zucchini Bread
  • Homemade bread toast
  • fruit
  • veggies with ranch
  • leftovers
I will keep you all updated on how we do on our Month Of Nothing!

Wish us luck.

We are going to need it.

If you want menus from people who aren't totally crazy, visit Org Junkie.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Yeah Me!

I had one of those days today. I went to bed last night disgusted with my house and my out-of-control life! I had things on my to-do list that had been on there for weeks. I needed to finally do a couple of those things and not be disgusted anymore.

So, today I got up and got ready. Then I went and found some cheap apples ($6.00 for a 22 lb box of Galas - I bought four boxes) then came home and got to work. I cleaned both chicken coops (the one they are living in now, and the one in my yard that is empty but hadn't been cleaned out. See, I told you it was disgusting!), held a funeral for five baby bunnies that didn't live nearly long enough, transfered straw from one bin to a different bin for transferring to the new coop, made 33 chewy granola bars, canned 25 quarts of applesauce, made all the children actually do their Saturday chores, made pasta salad and foccacia bread for dinner, planned my lesson for church tomorrow, vacuumed the kid's rooms, cleaned my bathroom, had a long phone conversation with a good friend I haven't talked to in a long time, threw in a load of laundry, cleaned the kitchen and wrote this post.

I'm totally exhausted but it is a good kind of exhaustion. I feel very satisfied that some things that have been bugging me forever are done. My house is cleaner than it has been in weeks, and I can sleep deep.

Yeah, me!


Friday, September 26, 2008

I Love Fall

I love fall! I love the leaves. I love the crisp cool mornings and evenings. I love the smell of fall in the air. The light feels different in the fall - maybe the different slant of the earth? I love going back to school. (I also love this picture, it is of my daughter Tali on a trip to Portland State University, my alma mater (go Viks!). My husband gave me a framed copy of this picture with the words "Life is an occasion. Rise to it." This quote is from the movie "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium" and is my motto for life.)

When fall comes I feel the need to prepare for winter. I want to can applesauce and pears. I want to stock my pantry. Anyone else get this feeling in fall?

I am so busy these days that I don't feel like I have time to do any of the things I want to do. But I do want to do applesauce. My children are addicted to applesauce!! The take it with graham crackers for lunch. The eat it as snacks, before bed, and after school. In addition, I use it in place of oil in baking. I use in my latest "favorite" recipe (it changes weekly it seems), Cinnamon Bread Delight. If I run out of applesauce in January, I'm in trouble! But when do I find time to do applesauce? I guess tomorrow I could do some and then afternoons next week. I'd like to do 40 to 50 quarts of applesauce. Sheesh, that sound like a lot!

I think I'll go back outside and enjoy the leaves. Maybe go for a walk. If I go downtown I could walk here:This is Portland State again. This is so Portland! Look at all the bikes. Portland is the bike capital of the world! Actual we have a very "bike-friendly culture" and you can sure see it in this picture! If I walk here maybe I could forget about 50 quarts of applesauce. Probably not.

Ok, tomorrow I get up early and buy 100 lbs of apples and start making applesauce.

But I'm not going to like it.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

I Bought a New Slow Cooker!

I have owned a CrockPot for the past two years that I hate. I have been doing a slow burn over this slow cooker. It burns everything I cook! It drives me nuts. Have I stopped using it? No, I just have suffered. After all, it cost money and I should use it until I gotten out of it what I paid, right?

Wrong! Sometimes it is just better to admit defeat and start over. I recently (Monday) bought a new one. I'm SO excited! I bought this one:Mine looks a little different, the various crocks are all white. I was excited to have a crockpot that had different sizes. The crocks all stack together for storage which will be nice.

I made a bean soup in the 4 quart crock last night and it worked fabulous! Cooked it 8 hours on low and when I came home it was gently simmering. In my old one, it would have been boiling furiously and burned on the sides and bottom. I made overnight oatmeal in the 2 quart last night for breakfast this morning. It cooked perfectly, but I can't say it was a winner here in our house. I used steel cut oatmeal that had been on the shelf for awhile and it had a slightly stale taste. I liked it and my son asked for seconds. Carina had to be forced it eat it and no one else would even try. *sigh* I try to cook healthy.

So, if you are suffering with something that just doesn't work, I would highly recommend getting a new, different one. Unless it's your husband.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - Rainy Day Edition

The last few weeks have been SO busy! I started a new job (which I love), gave two newspaper interviews - for The Oregonian and The Gresham Outlook, testified before our city council again, and wrote a response to one of the newspaper articles. In addition I have gotten lots of email, phone calls, etc of support for my chicken fight. I need EASY recipes this week!! Monday is my son's birthday and he wants Dutch Babies which is easy and yummy. And some family favorites which are easy.

  • cereal (Albertsons had a sale and I bought 40 boxes of cereal for $1 each)
  • Homemade bread toast with jam
  • oatmeal with berries
  • brown rice, black beans, cheese, salsa and sour cream. (One of my all-time favorite meals for lunch!)
  • lunch meat sandwiches, fruit, pretzels
  • whatever else people want to put in their lunches (I've got lots of good lunch stuff around, in addition to Cinnamon Bread Delight, lemon poppyseed muffins, granola bars)
  • Wagon Wheel Chili (boil some wagon wheel pasta, drain, add a can of your favorite chili, a small can of tomato sauce and some garlic powder, stir and serve), biscuits, fruit
  • Spaghetti Carbonara, tomatoes, - (the link is for a recipe which is similar to the one I make except we of course make much, much more! We also use bacon instead of pancetta - I'm sure the pancetta is much more authentic but it is also much more expensive! And I have bacon in my freezer!)
  • Dutch Babies (German pancakes), for Kaden's birthday
  • Soup and bread (in the crockpot hopefully. The soup not the bread)
  • Bean burritos, rice, fruit
I'm going to be ordering a new crockpot (because mine is crud!) so hopefully it will get here before the end of the week.

Org Junkie is having a "Family Favorites" menu plan Monday, check it out for lots more menus and recipes.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Gresham Outlook Article (and a few corrections)

The article in the Gresham Outlook, titled "Something Fowl Afoot in Gresham Neighborhood," came out today. The pictures are great and in general the article is good.

I do have a few corrections I'd like to make.

1. My neighbor stated that "those chickens are 12 feet from my bedroom." In actuality, it is 18 feet from the coop to his property line and at least that again to his house. So "those chickens" are actually about 40 feet from his bedroom.

2. My neighbor stated that "they're running loose and out of control." My chickens have always stayed in my fully fenced backyard. If your neighbor's dog was in their backyard would you call that "running loose?" As for chickens being out of control . . . what does that mean? They are in my backyard, minding their own business, eating grass and producing eggs - is that out of control?

3. My neighbor states that if the city council reduces the buffer, then "you might have everyone out here raising chickens."

And wouldn't that be sad?

Everyone would be reducing the waste they throw away everyday.

Everyone would be reducing the waste in our landfills.

Everyone would be reducing the amount of harmful pesticides and fertilizers they use in their yards.

Everyone would be eating fresh, healthy eggs.

How horrible that would be for Gresham and for the environment as a whole.


Friday, September 19, 2008

A Breath of Fresh Air

We are finally having real Oregon weather! It has been so hot this summer, especially the last few weeks, but we are finally having some cool cloudy weather. It is even supposed to rain this weekend!

I love the rain. I once wrote that you know you are a true Oregonian when you truly love the rain. I am SO ready for fall. I'm ready for soup and bread for dinner. I'm ready for sweaters and cozy sweatshirts. I'm ready for crunching through the leaves. I'm ready for long hot bubble baths. I'm ready for cups of hot cocoa.

I'm sure that my neck of the woods will experience a couple more really warm days, but I'm really glad that fall and winter are right around the corner.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Oh, the paparazzi!

Yesterday my chickens had a photo op. This photo op was arranged by their press secretary (that would be me) and attended by the paparazzi and other media people. It was crazy, and we weren't sure how we were going to get out of their safely without running over media with our get-away car. I don't know how the celebrities do it.

Ok, actually, it was one cool photographer, a really nice reporter from our local paper and her little girl (who is SO cute!). The location was my backyard and there were no cars involved. But I'm sticking by my title of "Chicken Press Secretary."

The reporter, Mara Stein, was from our local paper, The Gresham Outlook. She and her photographer, Jim, were here to interview me for a story they are doing about my chickens. We had a good time "talkin' chicken" and they took great pictures of the girls. It was a fun afternoon.

The article will be in The Gresham Outlook on this Saturday - September 20. I'll post a link if I can.

My friend Kari called me yesterday and asked me if I was still going to can applesauce and pears this year. My answer was very honest and so telling of my life right now: "I want to do applesauce and pears this year, but I'm feeling very overwhelmed right now and I'm not sure how I'm going to come up with the time!!"

Someone asked me how I do it all and I laughed - until I wasn't laughing anymore. I don't do it all! There are so many things that I don't have time for right now. Like a clean house. *sigh* I do what I have to do, and the "optionals" slide. Unfortunately, right now, laundry, a clean house, and calling my good friends, are all optional.

But there are seasons in life, right? Right now is a busy season: new job, chicken fight, kids back to school, kids sports, family drama, and all the other stuff. Before too long, I'll be in a different season and scrubbing toilets, laundry and lunch with friends will be the have-to's, and media requests will be optional.

I just have to remember that time with the kids and the husband are NEVER optional!

I just wish sleep was optional - think how much more time I'd have!


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Speaking to The City Council…again!

The last few two days have been fun days on the chicken front! I got a call from our local paper, The Gresham Outlook, requesting to do an article on our "chicken fight." I said, "Of course!" So I brought my three baby chickens back down to our house so that the reporter and photographer can come and see our chickens in their "natural" habitat and take pictures of our chickens and coop. Then my little babies will go back to their home away from home. It is easiest to move chickens at night, once it is dark, they become very inactive and quiet and docile and very easy to pick up and move. So they are spending the night here and the reporter will come on Wednesday.

The other update I have to give is that I talked to one of the City Council members. The Council is very busy right now planning the budget and "Council Work Plan" for 2009. It isn't realistic to pull staff off of those projects to address chickens. But it is on the list and when things quiet down (in a month or two) they will start the process. Unfortunately, government moves about as fast as . . . well, I can't think of anything that moves that slow! Turtles in a coma? My hope and prayer is to have my chickens back home before next spring. Sooner would be a dream come true but I'm trying to be realistic.

I spoke at the City Council meeting today. Mostly it was to let them know how much support I have received and how many people want to see this code changed. It was also to keep the chickens "on the radar." I will probably speak occasionally to the City Council for the next several months, just to let them know that I'm still here and my chickens aren't!

The Councilor that I spoke to said that they have already received many letters in support (and a few in opposition), so thank you to all of you who called, email, or wrote letters. I really appreciate it! I especially appreciate that the "pro" letters outnumber the "con" letters.

I'll post updates as I get them. And one day soon, I'm going to actually post a recipe or two on this food blog!


Saturday, September 13, 2008

How You Can Help

Having yourself and your children (and your chickens!) in the paper sure is fun! I have had fun showing the article to co-workers, friends and family. I knew they would all be excited to see someone they know in the paper. What I wasn't prepared for was the response I've been getting from the content of the article.

I have been amazed by the support that has been given me in the last few days! Everyone I've talked to has told me they support the idea of chickens (hens only!) in the city. But those people I speak to face-to-face are my friends - they're supposed to support me! What has been amazing has been the support I've gotten from people I don't even know. People have visited my blog and posted comments in support of my fight to get the chicken code changed here in Gresham.

One comment on the last post "My Pets With a Purpose" got me thinking:

Lauren and Jeremy smith+(Cybil, Bazil and Manuel) said...
"We saw your article in the Oregonian and we were very upset by your situation. Chickens are NOT noisy animals and if cared for, as yours clearly are, they do not smell. Is there a petition that we can sign or some way we can help?"

Actually, there is a way everyone can help! If the City Council knows that there is support among the population and a desire to change the code, they will be more likely to act.

So, if you think the code should be changed to allow chickens, and my chickens should be allowed to come home, contact the Gresham City Council. You can do that one of three ways. You can mail a letter of support to:

Gresham City Council

1333 NW Eastman Parkway

, OR 97030

Or you can phone or email:
Connie Otto is the City Council Coordinator, tell her you want the City Council to know that there is support for this change. She will make sure they know about it.

Of course, if you would like to go even further and speak before the City Council, I'd love to have you. You can email me for information (or post a response to this post and it will show up in my email) or you can go to the City of Gresham website for the date and time of the next council meeting. You need to show up about five minutes early to fill out a quick form, give that form to the recording secretary, then just wait your turn. You have three minutes to speak - although it feels longer!

One thing I have to say about this whole experience is that it has given me new respect for our city government. I'm sure they are not perfect, but everyone I've spoken with has been so supportive, polite, responsive, and helpful. I am gaining a new knowledge about city government and a desire to become more involved. This experience has been very beneficial in that regard.

Thank you all for your support. I will keep posting updates here. Join me as we fight city hall!!


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My Pets with a Purpose

I have always wanted to have chickens. I think it stems from having read a lot of Laura Ingalls Wilder books as a kid. And watching Little House on the Prairie TV shows. I never wanted to slaughter and eat them, I just wanted to toss them grain from my apron, watch them cluck and peck around my yard, and collect their brown eggs in that same apron. Ok, I don't ever throw grain from my apron and I'm pretty sure I've never collected them in one either, but I do love to watch them peck around my yard. They are fabulous pets and I've loved having them. I thought I would show everyone just what my "chicken set-up" looks like and introduce you to my babies.

Sadly, these pictures were all taken when my babies still lived here. Thanks to recent developments, they are now living elsewhere. I'm working hard on trying to change the code in our city and bring my chickens home. You can read about our local paper's take on my fight here. But come with me for a tour down memory lane and I show you what life used to be like . . .

When some people think about chicken coops they think about a bunch of old weathered boards nailed together in some haphazard fashion emitting a foul stench. I'm sure there are some chicken coops like this, but it doesn't have to be that way, and ours certainly isn't.

Here is our coop - designed and built by my Hubby.

Isn't my little red barn cute? The "corral" is for when we want to keep them chickens locked up, like if we are on vacation, or in the morning before we let them out. We learned, rather painfully, that the chickens need to be kept locked up at night or the raccoons will get them. As for the smell, it isn't bad if you take care of it and change the bedding frequently - especially in the summer.

The other building in the background is our shed, it has since been painted red to match the coop. Doesn't it just look like I live on a little farm? I don't. Just over that fence in the background is my friend Kari's house.

I loved to go out and collect their eggs, usually without my apron but whatever. Sometimes, when I open up the "egg door" this is what I see:
Oops! Sorry Jellybean, you're not done yet, I'll come back later.

They are supposed to lay their eggs in the nest boxes up above but they always choose to lay in the corner on the floor. Whatever floats their little chicken boats! As long as they keep laying I'm happy. Sometimes, however, they take liberties with my leniency and I find eggs like this:

This is the box where we keep the extra hay. (Actually it is a little wading pool that has a lid) I sometimes find eggs here. This has got to stop! I'll put your little chicken bottoms in time-out if you don't stop that!

My kids love to collect eggs, too. Well, not the teenagers, but my teenagers don't love anything these days. Aren't those eggs pretty? The girl holding them is pretty, too, trust me on this one.

When my chickens aren't busy laying eggs they just wander the yard eating bugs and looking cute.
Hey wait! That isn't my yard, that's my deck! Shoo! Get off my deck chickens - my deck doesn't need any fertilizer! What were they thinking? I wonder how they got the idea that coming on the deck was ok? I'm sure that it isn't because I feed them oats on the deck - I would never do that!

By the way, that is Lacey in the front, Jellybean is the all black one and the gold colored one is Goldilocks.
This is Carina and Kaden feeding my babies - Cocoa, Gumdrop, and Chocolate. They love to come and eat out of our hands - they get the best food this way. These babies are new this year, they are now about 17 weeks old. Chickens usually start laying at about 20 weeks so we should start getting eggs from the babies soon. I can't wait!

I hope you have enjoyed your tour of Jill's Crazy Chicken Farm. If you'll excuse me, I'm going to need to go put those chickens in time out - they are back on the deck!!


Can't Wait For Tomorrow

I'm so excited! Tomorrow is the day that the newspaper article about me and my fight to save my chickens appears in the paper. Or at least it is supposed to - the reporter said that feature stories sometimes get bumped for actual news. NEWS?! You mean they might think something was more important than my chickens??! Whatever. (Did you notice that perfect imitation of a teenager there? Do I have my teenager impressions down, or what?)

Later today (after I get back from work) I'm going to post a whole pictorial about my chickens. I had taken a bunch of pictures before this whole mess started (and my chickens had to move) and I intended to do a whole blog post on my chickens, but never got around to it. I'm doing it tonight because the reporter said she would include a link to my blog.

On chicken news, I have calls in to several people about the status of the "fight" but haven't received calls back yet. The reporter (her name was Robyn) was going to call all the same people so maybe the information will be in the article.

I will be sure to link to the article when it comes out.

Think I'll be able to sleep tonight?


Sunday, September 7, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - Sept 9 - 14

This week is my second week of working. I was exhausted last week so I'm trying to plan really easy meal this week in case I'm really tired again. I'm also trying to be really cheap because I'm saving up to place an order from Azure Standard. I've found some really great things I want to get but ordering in bulk can add up!!

  • Baked oatmeal (I've had this on my menu for the last three weeks and I haven't made it yet! This week I'm doing it for sure!!)
  • Cereal (we still have lots from the great sale at Safeway a few weeks ago)
  • Oatmeal with berries
  • One-Eyed Egyptians
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
  • yogurt with granola
  • Bean burritos (with leftover homemade refried beans from Friday night's Navajo Tacos)
  • veggies with ranch
  • all lunches will be supplemented with fruit and crackers or pretzels
  • Soup and bread (whatever kind of soup strikes my fancy but probably a bean soup)
  • Parmesan chicken and potatoes (we got lots of red potatoes from the garden)
  • Good Ol' Beans and Rice
  • Potatoes, sauerkraut, and sausage
  • Homemade Mac and Cheese
  • all dinners will be supplemented with salad and veggies from the garden - we have SO many tomatoes!
This week I will also be making pesto from all the basil in my garden. I'm thinking of canning pears this next weekend. We'll see if I have the energy for it!

For more menu ideas, visit Organizing Junkie.


Thursday, September 4, 2008

Cottage Cheese Casserole

I'm feeling much more rested today - nine hours of sleep will do that! So here is the recipe I promised.

When I was 20 years old, I went to live with a family in Washington DC as their nanny. I had a fabulous time and learned many things. The family was vegetarians and I cooked dinner for them during the week so I learned lots of great vegetarian recipes. This one was one of their favorites, and now it's one of mine.

This takes some time but read the notes at the end, because I figured out a way to make it much faster!! It makes a lot, but it reheats well. Plus, it is very, very cheap!!

This recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks "More With Less Cookbook," by Doris Janzen Longacre.

Cottage Cheese Casserole

Saute in a large skillet:

2 Tbs. margarine
1/2 C. chopped mushrooms
1/2 c. chopped celery
1/2 c. chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced

Stir in:

1/4 tsp marjoram, crushed
4 1/2 c. water
3/4 c. tomato paste
4 c. elbow macaroni
2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar

Simmer until macaroni is tender, about 25 minutes.
Have ready:

1/4 c. parsley, chopped
2 c. cottage cheese
1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese

Put half of the macaroni mixture in a greased 2 qt. casserole dish. Top with 1 c. cottage cheese and 1/2 of the Parmesan cheese and parsley. Repeat layers. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

  • Sometimes I don't bother layering, I just mix it all together. Perhaps not as pretty, but it's quick.
  • I use one small can of tomato paste which is about 3/4 c.
  • 2 cups of cottage cheese is one 16 oz container.
  • I use the fake Parmesan cheese in the canister - I'm cheap, but it seems to work well.
  • I used penne pasta this last time because I was out of elbow macaroni. It was fine, but we like the macaroni better.
  • I was in a hurry last night so after I layered it, I microwaved it for about 10 minutes, then broiled it til the top was brown. It was impossible to tell I hadn't baked it for 40 minutes. I'll do it this way from now on.
  • I'd really like to try this with whole wheat pasta and see if it works, I'd really like the extra nutrition it would add.
  • I sometimes leave out the mushrooms if I don't have any. When I do put them in, I leave them fairly big so that the picky eaters can pick them out!


Speaking to The City Council

As part of my fight for my chickens, on Tuesday night I spoke in front of our city council. I had already spoken to several of the councilors but I needed to speak to the whole council (including the mayor) to publicly introduce my idea to change the code regarding chickens.

Let me just say that I love to speak in front of people. Really. I do not have that "fear of public speaking" phobia that something like 90% of the population has. I was a theater major for awhile in college. I teach a class to 60 adults every Sunday.

I really like speaking in public.

And I was scared! Really scared!!

This was a very formal setting: microphones, audience, TV cameras, flashing timer lights, all six councilors and the mayor looking at me. I was shaking and couldn't sit still in my chair. I read my statement (I much prefer to speak without notes but people had encouraged me to read it because they are very strict about time limits - I had 3 minutes), I got lost a couple of times but managed to recover quickly.

My points were simple: chickens are ecologically sound, they (and their eggs) are good for our health, having chickens and their cheap eggs is financially beneficial, and other cities in our area allow them so we would simply be bringing our city in line with everyone else.

Turns out I am the talk of Town Hall. Even before I spoke, I was approached by several people (some who I recognized, some not) who joked about how I should have brought a chicken for "show and tell." The lady at the recording secretary's desk who knew I was the "chicken lady." I guess this is good, because the more people who hear about it, the more likely it will happen. On that note, I was interviewed by a very nice reporter from The Oregonian today. She is doing a very thorough job - she's even going to interview my neighbor who called on my chickens because he was mad about my cat! He isn't aware I'm trying to change the code, that should be an interesting interview!!

While I was very nervous as I spoke and the whole experience was stressful, I'd do it again if it would bring my chickens home.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008


How can working four hours a day make you so tired?? I think I'm trying to get used to a new routine, but for right now I can hardly see (and you should see all the typos that I'm correcting!). I spoke in front of the City Council last night and a lot of prep work went into it - maybe that is it? Maybe I'm just old. Nah, that can't be it.

I'm going to bed. I'm going to sleep 9 hours at least!

Tomorrow I will be able to function better. I hope.

Tomorrow I will post the Cottage Cheese Casserole recipe that I made for dinner tonight and everyone liked.

Tomorrow I will give an interview to The Oregonian (the major newspaper in our area) about my chicken fight.

Tomorrow I will blog. I promise.