Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Banshee

Whenever I tell this story, everybody gets a good laugh, so I figured I would post it because it's somewhat a spin off on the topic of the day:  Food/Environment.

As I mentioned in April, I am a chicken co-owner, but the coop is at my house.  My friend and I decided to raise our own chickens for fresh organic eggs, and it's been well worth it!  At first, we dealt with moles and/or voles around the coop area, which seemed to have disappeared this fall, but we were having new fecal matter in the coop.  The week prior to this event, the nesting box broke and since we were considering how we were going to build the new coop, which included moving the whole thing, I wanted to make sure nothing was living under the coop that could hurt us.  I didn't think anything of it, until I heard the Banshee.

I just got home around 9pm, and settled in to get some homework done that was due that night at midnight.  All of a sudden I heard this loud shriek from outside "EEEEEEEEEEEEEE" with a flutter of wings and loud noises from the chickens.  I didn't know what to make of the noise at first because I have never heard it before.  Was that the feral cat outside trying to get at the chickens again?  I grabbed a flashlight and headed outside cautiously because I wasn't sure if the thing that startled the chickens was inside the coop or wandering around the gated area that we had.  (To better understand our setup, a picture of it is below.)  There was the potential that it could try and attack me too if it was not on the inside.  As I wave the flashlight back and forth across the yard, I walked in the direction of the chicken coop.  I first shine the light on the chickens who are huddled together by the gate entrance and then I survey the area.  Beady eyes look at me as he stood still on one of the chicken perches.  I glared at the possum and thought "How in the world did you get in there?!?!"  But then I realized that we were giving him a lot of great food!  Not only in the coop area was he getting eggs, but he was also getting leftover chicken feed and/or the moles/voles.  AND...right next to the gated chicken area is my compost pile!  No wonder why he was around.  In all honesty, seeing him on the perch, I realized all the possum wanted to do was "hang" with the chickens on their perches, and they decided to be high maintenance and not want him around.  I don't blame the chickens by any means.  After seeing the culprit, I called my chicken co-owner, who was already in bed, and then my boyfriend who gave me strict orders "not to go in and remove the possum myself."  I can't help but be injury prone...  When I got back out there with my cell phone, the possum had already left.  Ironically, about a week later, he climbed up my oak tree in a rain storm.

We still need to re-do the coop, but we assume that the possum is getting in from the backside.  He hasn't been much of a bother, if any at all, since we turned on the heating lamp for the winter.

L. Composting piles.  R. Chicken area with wooden coop (prior to having chickens)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Recipe: Cheesy Chicken and Rice Bake

This recipe from Tasty Kitchen is simple and rather healthy.  I used nonfat Greek Yogurt rather than the sour cream and didn't notice any difference in texture or taste.  I think I just might start substituting nonfat Greek Yogurt for any recipes that ask for sour cream because it's healthier (more protein, less fat, and contains probiotics).  Livestrong reviews the difference between the two in an article. 

I did a Weight Watcher's point calculation, and for five servings, it's 11 points, but it could easily be six or seven servings depending on hunger.  I found that the brown rice really filled me up.  I made a few minor modifications to the original recipe of Tasty Kitchen, which I also added in below.

  • 2 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts (cooked, boiled)
  • 4 cups Cooked Brown Rice
  • 1 cup Frozen Corn
  • 15 ounces, Can Black Beans, Drained And Rinsed
  • 1 cup Plain Nonfat Greek Yogurt
  • 3 Jalapenos
  • ½ cups Salsa
  • 1 cup Low-fat Cheddar Cheese, Plus More For Topping


1.  Preheat oven to 350F while boiling the chicken. 
2.  Cook brown rice according to directions.  Add chopped jalapenos to the boiling water.
3.  In a large bowl, combine cooked rice, cooked chicken, corn, black beans, nonfat Greet Yogurt, salsa, and cheese.  Stir and season with salt and pepper if desired.
4.  Add to oven-safe dish and top with extra cheese if you choose to.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until heated through. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Just Do It

Yes, it's a well known Nike slogan:  "Just Do It," but it's fitting in anything and everything we want to pursue.  Well, at least for the procrastinator it is, even when all signs are pointing in that direction.

Sign #1
At the end of last semester I was walking out of Kick Butt Coffee in the Triangle, and I saw a woman wearing at Team 413 t-shirt.  This peaked my interest because I grew up in area code 413, so eventually I Googled the slogan.  Team 413 is a ministry based on Phillipians 4:13 - "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."  The best way to describe the ministry is that it's a "running club" that speaks the truth of our Savior; through Him, all things are possible.  Do you believe in coincidences?  I sure don't.

Sign #2
My pastor is the best.  I'm probably going to make him blush if he ever reads this, but he recently blogged about something that hit home to me, "How to Avoid a Massive Failure."  I recently wrote about my failure to finish the Austin Half Marathon last year, and how it destroyed any and all ambition I had since I felt pretty prepared for it.  In his blog, and I won't give it all away, he has five tips:
1.  Know what you are getting into (I did, I ran a 10K after all.)
2.  Listen to wise counsel (I really should have sought this a bit more.)
3.  Start small and be OK with it (Wasn't a 10K small enough to start with?)
4.  Don't carry a bunch of excess baggage ( about some emotional and physical baggage in my case?)
5.  Know when to quit (But I think more importantly, know when to try again.)

As we all know, I'm back at square one, and I need to be okay with that.  I will be okay with that, as soon as I stop making excuses and procrastinating.  Tomorrow may never come.

Sign #3
My Joyce Meyer daily devotional today was John 14:23 (NIV):  Jesus replied, "Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them."  Joyce made some great remarks about this passage which I need to hold close to my heart:  
This simply starts with being obedient to His Word. A commitment to turn from behavior that offends God is the number one sign of spiritual maturity. It shows you care about what He thinks.

That means you choose to be generous toward others, you learn to forgive, let go of your offenses and live in peace. When we choose to be intentional with our words, giving thanks to God and lifting up others, we'll feel connected to God all throughout the day.  
Sign #4
A Facebook post about slaying my dragons before breakfast.  I need to re-focus my attention to things that God will approve and wants for me.  He wants me to be healthy and live a long fulfilling life, so what keeps getting in the way?

My Next Steps
1.  I need to devote more time to my Bible and to prayer.  With my new daily devotions sent to my inbox, this will help.  I need to please Him rather than myself.
2.  I need to exercise in the morning before work or school, no matter how tired I am.  Once I'm out of bed, I can function pretty well.
3.  I need to reach my target and read seven books (besides school books) this year.  This is easily obtainable if I hit the gym with my Kindle.
4.  I need to forgive and let go of those who have "trespassed" against me.  As much as I hate to admit it, God will forgive them if they ask for it, so I should too.  I'm beginning to think spiritual maturity is not going to be too easy.  I need peace.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

A Worrying Fool

I'm a natural over-thinker and worrier.  I worry about day-to-day items.  I worry about the future.  I worry about the past.  I worry about the decisions I need to make and how those decisions will affect my life FOREVER.  Over-thinking will ruin things.  It will consume you and will make you miss out on what's happening in the present.  I try not to over-think when it comes to being healthy, but I can't help but do so.  Will my friends still accept me if I physically change?  Will my personality change?  Will I become more egotistical and more me-focused rather than others-focused?  Over-thinking has always been my downfall, but I have yet to come up with a solution.  Any thoughts from my readers?

Monday, January 02, 2012

Kisses from Katie

I am completely amazed and humbled by this young woman.  Katie decided to go into ministry after high school and follow God's plan for her life.  She is now 22 and has her own non-profit for orphans in Jinja, Uganda; a country and city I fell in love with in 2009 when I was there.  I would like my readers to take two things away from this:

1.  If you allow God to use you the way He wants to, amazing things will happen for your life.  We all have a calling, but do most of us utilize the skills that have been given to us?  I know I haven't, and that's something to change in the New Year.

2.  I understand that the United States has a number of orphans that need families too, but witnessing the poverty in Uganda and knowing that most of these orphans are due to HIV/AIDS, it's a humbling experience.  Please consider sponsoring an orphan in Uganda through Amazima; they can feed a child three meals per day and educate him/her with only $300 per year:

I hope everybody had an eventful and safe new year.  I look forward to seeing what God has in store for you this year!