Friday, December 6, 2013

Baby It's Cold Outside!!! ....and snowy! Wooot Wooot!

It's been a while.  We've been so swamped with life and activities and, well, everything.  Today I just have some pics.  And only 3 of the kids are in them cause A is out hunting with pappy.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Bulk Food Storage!

So when I posted my haul from Beachy's, two people asked how I store it.  I have tried many (many!) different things but this is what works now.  I keep my supplies for using in my lock and lock containers.  I won't buy unless that's what I find.  I have other tupperware for lunches and leftovers and sometimes those sneak into my baking cabinet and it is just not pretty.  Things fall out and its a mess.  Well, its always a mess....its just a bigger one when the containers don't all stack and match.

For the rest of it...I do a couple different things.  For the 50 lb bags of flour I have 2 big 5 gallon buckets.  My mom subs for the school district and is often in the kitchen and was able to snag a couple for me.  I would love to have more (4 or even 6 of them).  I fill these full (one with white flour and one with whole wheat).  They slide behind a curtain the the hole where my dishwasher used to be.  I just slide them back out when I need flour.  This is my "in house" supply rather than in the cabinet.

Everything else goes in the freezer.  Large quantities are bagged two gallon ziplock bags.  I have only ever found these at Martins IGA.  They are not cheap.  But since I store only dry good in them when I empty one I stick it back in the freezer and use it more than once.  After dumping as much flour into the buckets as I can, it takes 3 of these bags to store the rest of the flour.  Not too shabby.  I also use these for the oats.  For smaller things I bag them in 1 gallon freezer bags and get em in the freezer.  This is the best way I've found to keep it all fresh and bug free.  (if you don't rebag it all in freezer bags though it will smell like freezer if it's left in there too take the extra step and rebag or double bag it)

The popcorn comes in a gallon "milk jug" so it just goes into the cabinet that way.  The coconut oil is also just in the cabinet.  I have a section of a lower cabinet that I use for only bulk supplies.  Some of them, like the popcorn, I pour some into a more handy sized container for in "usable" cabinet.  Like a mason jar.  So although I LOVE the lock n lock containers....I think mason jars work well for some things (mostly snacks).  And they look nice in the cabinet that the stupid door fell off of....again. (I hate my kitchen cabinets-but that is an entirely different post).

Spices come in the little "deli" tubs, you know, like the ones a single person gets potato salad in.  Those go directly into the freezer as is.  Do NOT put them in the door where they will slide out when you open it....those suckers explode when they hit the floor.  Again, I have a spice drawer where I keep baby food sized jars of each individual spice and some of my own mixes for handy access.

Bags of flour ready for the freezer

Other grains ready for the freezer.  You can't tell but the big bags are the two gallon freezer bags.  I don't even dump the grain from the bag it came in.  I just drop the whole thing in there.  

Half of my baking cabinet/pantry.  My house actually has a closet style, however, is full of craft supplies so thankfully I have LOTS of cabinet space.  Anyway,  I tried to label what was what but apparently don't know how to do that on the computer.  :(  (and I totally cleaned this cabinet up before I took a never looks like this-HA)

Big buckets of flour.  

My basket of spices in the freezer.  They are clearly all thrown in...just keepin it real.  :)
My spice idea why the pic is sideways.  This drawer is a mess but it is still easier than pulling the mess outta the freezer every time I need a spice.  :)

Snack cabinet.  Mason jars on the top hold snacks that come in bulk.  depending on what it is the rest may be in the lower "bulk" cabinet or the freezer.  Right now I've got a trail mix, popcorn kernels, and pretzel balls.  The big silver things is a vintage cake safe that I store bread in.  (The door totally fell off this cabinet onto my head-so I have made due with what it is now.  Someday I'll remodel the kitchen....someday)

So there ya have it.  That's how I store all my bulk goods.  For the record, I have 3 freezers.  The fridge freezer (that's where the spices are).  I also have a small upright freezer in my laundry room  and a BIG deep freeze in the garage.  We hunt venison and that is our meat for the year so I need the freezer space.  Often at this time of year I am only running one of the big freezers because we are out of meat.  This year A has already gotten 2 deer (one of them was tiny) but we still have to get it in a freezer so I have them all running.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Beachy's Baby!

 So we made a desparate trip to Amish country yesterday....I was out of almost everything I buy there.  So despite the rainy, "stormy" (wasn't really that bad) weather and having to take all the kids along (which I rarely do) we went.

And I stocked up!  I'm ready for winter.  We get a few deer in the freezer and we'll be eating good all winter.  If I'd only been able to can/freeze more produce, I would only have to buy fresh produce, and dairy all cool!

This is what I got (with approximate weights):

  • white flour(50 lbs)
    • I make all our breads/grains from scratch - bread, bagels, pizza crust, muffins and scones, pretzels,waffles, pancakes,etc etc etc
  • whole wheat flour (50  lbs)
    • Almost all our grains are at least 50% whole grain.  So this is used with the white flour above
  • rye flour  (2.5 lbs)
    • our favorite bread calls for 1/2 cup of rye flour....that's all I use rye for
  • grape nuts (7lbs)
    • A's favorite breakfast is quick oats and grapenuts mixed 50/50 with milk and cooked in the micro....add some brown sugar.  YUM
  • quick oats (15 lbs)
    • breakfast cereal, cookies, granola bars, baking
  • rolled oats (7 lbs)
    • I like rolled oats better than quick oats so I make these for breakfast sometimes....also for baking
  • steel cut oats  (2.5 lbs)
    • with these I can make oats overnight in the crockpot without it all turning to mush.
  • cream of wheat (2 lbs)
    • ummm, breakfast
  • wagon wheel pasta (1 lb)
    • I got these for fun.  I'll use them for tuna casserole.  But only cause we were up there and it is on the menu.
  • orzo pasta (1 lb)
    • spaghettios
  • those crunchy noodles like on a salad bar (1lb)
    • on salad  :)
  • yeast
    • bulk yeast is the ONLY way to buy it if you bake often.  I got just shy of a pound (in those plastic tubs that you get potato salad in at the deli) for $3.25.  This is enough to make I don't even know how many yeast breads.  Between bulk yeast and flour I can really really save a lot on our bread products plus they are GOOD!
  • cinnamon
    • um, it's cinnamon....also bulk like the yeast.  
  • chili powder
    • also bulk like the other.  Actually it is worth nothing that I buy ALL my spices at beachys in bulk.  The prices are great and the spice is wonderful.  I have a big basket of spices in my freezer keeping them fresh a little longer.  The only thing I have been a bit dissappointed in was the curry....and I don't cook with curry often so it totally could have been my cooking or my recipe.
  • REAL vanilla
    • pretty self explanatory I would think  ;)
  • a vanilla bean
    • This was a new thing I found there.  SO EXCITED!  I will buy good vodka and put this in a bottle with it.  By Christmas I will have beautiful, home made, tasty vanilla.  Then as I use it I will just top the bottle off with more vodka....and I'll have a "never ending" supply of good real vanilla.
  • pearled barley
    • I sub this in for pasta in a any soup that calls for small pasta (ie minestrone).  It not only adds a good (whole?) grain....but it makes it reheat better.  Unlike pasta the barley seems to stop absorbing water so when you reheat it is still souplike rather than a pasty overcook pasta goupy mess Can you tell I feel strongly about this? :)
  • brown sugar
    • oatmeal in the mornings, baking, etc
  • sea salt
    • basic cooking and table salt
  • loaf of Amish made bread
    • supper last night :)
  • potato soup mix
    • supper last night :)
  • regular muffin papers
    • I use these A LOT!  For baking and freezing muffins.  I found these for less than a penny each
  • mini muffin papers
    • same as the regular muffin papers
  • dry black beans (2 lbs)
    • I cook these down in a crockpot and then freeze in 2 cup portions and use for tacos, soups, etc.  
  • dry red beans (2 lbs)
    • same thing as the black beans
  • walnuts
    • M requested these although I'm sure he won't eat them.  I like them so it'll all be good (I put them in my favorite oatmeal-apple pie oatmeal-YUM!)

  • blueberry honey 
    • this was a treat.  We'll use it in our homemade honey 
  • dry milk powder (1.5 lbs)
    • I add 1/4 cup or so to thicken up my home made yogurt.
  • corn meal (3 lbs)
    • corn bread,  special yeast bread, under pizza crust
  • coconut oil (1 gallon)
    • baking (anything that says Crisco-gag!), greasing pans, washing my face, essential oil dilution, etc etc etc
  • cheese curds
    • snack - except I accidentally bought ranch cheddar.  It is ok but not what I wanted.  grrr
  • popcorn (1 gallon)
    • MOVIE NIGHT!  :)
  • "oil cups"
    • I don't know what to call these but they are the 12 white things in the front,center of the pic.  They look like what carmex comes in kinda....I am using them to mix and store some essential oil blends we use frequently so I don't have to mix all the time.
  • straws
    • Um......

Here's the haul.  Not pictured are the 2 fifty lbs bags of flour.  They are heavy and they look like dog food bags.  seriously.  I've gotta repackage all this for good long term storage.  And then to start baking!!!!!  :)

Thursday, October 31, 2013


So I'm a week late with my photo dump.  Life happens and we've all been a little under the weather.  Lots of nose blowing and coughing and snuggling going on.  But we've still been running around like crazy....hopefully starting tomorrow we'll be able to hang low, do extra school work, and still have a chance to keep recovering.....anyway, here they are in whatever order blogger loaded them in.  I don't have the time to sort....but I will caption
L was a "fairy" for halloween this year.  I've never shopped for girl costumes so we had to kinda make do since I won't put a 2 yr old in a costume that looks like it belongs near a pole.  I'll start early and make her a costume next year.

M was Captain American....

G as Iron Man

A as Robin Hood.

A did a "live in program" at Lincoln Log Cabin recently.  He is the boy in the stocking cap and the red plaid shirt.  They got to live like pioneers for a few hours.  He loved it.

We painted pumpkins instead of carving this year

another pumpkin painter

L and G working some pumpkin painting magic

We had the boys birthday party at our favorite gym...I took pics of the action but they are all blurry.

The King and I had a chance to go ziplining with another couple.  We didn't mess with cameras while ziplining but this was the entrance to the ranch where we went.  SO MUCH FUN!

Llama farm field trip.  
There ya have it.  All the pics I can get my stupid slow internet to load today....:)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

How time flies when you're having fun!!

It has been 2 weeks since I've posted anything on here.  How did that even happen?  (well, I really know that answer....I am chasing my tail most days).  I'll try to do a photo dump the end of this week.

But more is "gotcha day!"  We've had L at home for one whole year.  ONE. WHOLE. YEAR.  How did THAT even happen?

One year ago today we...

...had gotten into Kansas at like 1 in the morning the night before and still didn't sleep much. up early to find a target/walmart or something to buy a car seat and groceries for in the hotel. (trying to                 keep busy while we waited some more)
...waited to hear from the social worker about when we would be able to meet/get her.
...met L at the agency's office.  She came right to me but not the King.
...had to take her immediately to a dr that none of us knew. (I hated that part)
...discovered we would get to meet first mom the next day.
...fell in love with a little girl.

In the last year we....

....bought a bunch of clothes.  She grew through 3 sizes last year....and she's a girl!  ;)
....potty trained (I think we finally got it)
....learned how to do hair very very different from my own.
....celebrated L's second birthday
...experienced the "terrible twos"
....became a family of 6
....enjoyed our first family vacation as a family of 6.
....answered more stupid questions from complete strangers than imaginable
   (Is she adopted?  seriously people! - One day I'm gonna answer "Nope, I had an affair with the mailman!")

L has shown us....
....girls like superheros too.
....and they can "rassle" with the big boys.
....mood swings start early.  ;) do opinions about clothes.
....the best thing to do in a car is sing 2 lines of the same song over and over and over and over again.                 LOUDLY!
....toddlerhood is fun albeit a little hard sometimes too.
...Kids are resilient....shockingly so.

The adoption journey has been an amazing one for our family.  It was a long, long wait.  Each of those years of waiting felt like a lifetime (see our story here).  Now that the waiting part is over, time is FLYING again.  It is crazy!  Life is crazy!  And it's even crazier when you have 4 little ones at home.   Speaking of which, I'm gonna go join them....if I don't I might miss something.

If anyone reading this is unsure or has serious questions about adoption...the process, how it worked for us, whatever.  Please Please Please ask me.  I am an open book to those considering this option for their families.   I can't answer all questions....but I can tell you what it looked like for us.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Missed a week! But here are some pics.

I'm not going to say much and get right to the pictures.  Pictures are worth 1000 words after all!  These are in no specific order....
This week we had a guest student for 3 days.  She has been adopted from Mexico and is hearing impaired....learned and used sign language all week.  And really enjoyed spending time with her.

L is studio ready.  

We got to go to a birthday party at a gym that we love.  The boys party is booked there for later this month.  (I did try getting action shots but every one of them is a blur)

Field trip at a local apple orchard.  L hitched a ride up the BIG hill and I worked up a sweat.

Feeding the fainting goats at the apple orchard.  On a side note: fainting goats are hysterical.

playing with a baby lamb.  So sweet and soft while on the field trip

We made challah bread for social studies as an example of Jewish culture....everyone helped.  (I really wish L would smile for pictures)

Everyone got to knead and roll the bread for braiding.  

Finished challah bread.  YUM!

We also learned about life in an Ancient Roman town.  One of the several projects we did was designing Roman mosaic tiles.  M is just getting started

A is working on a second one....(see the images on the wall-we got the projector out and are using it for school-it took WAY too long to think of this.  It is great!!!!)

So there it is.  A few pictures to represent the last couple weeks in life at our house.  

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


We went to Gulf Shores, AL for vacation at the end of August.  On the drive down, one of the "distractions" from so many hours in the car that I had in my bag of tricks was fake mustaches.  They stuck on and they were HUGE hits (much to my surprise, honestly).  A wore his off and on the whole week we were there until it fell apart.  We let the kids do things like that.  It doesn't hurt anything and, lets be honest, it is hysterical.

We drew the line on Sunday morning when we found a church to visit.  There we required a certain level of respect and that does not include a stick on mustache.

So I bet you are wondering where the funny part comes in....a friend shared this link this morning on facebook.  It is a map showing the 2 weirdest laws in each state.  Many of them are funny (although not all are kid appropriate) Alabama's 2 weird laws.  :)  And A might remember that sometimes mom and dad just need to be obeyed.  Hehehehehe

Monday, September 23, 2013

Our New Addition!

We have a new addition in our family....his name is T-bone!  And the kids love bottle feeding him every morning and evening (wonder how long that will last).  However, his name is indicative of his destiny....but that is 3 years or so down the road and we'll have gotten more calves between now and then (names may include Sir Loin, Ribeye, or A1 as determined when we get them).  :)

Now for pics.....

Introducing T-bone.  He was born July 20 so he is about 2 months old.

getting ready to feed him.  (one day G will learn not to wear flip flops in the pen...he's been told but some people gotta learn the hard way.)  :(

G giving him his bottle.  L wants to do it so bad but he sucks the whole bottle right outta her she assists

M got a turn with the bottle on his first night.  

A taking his turn with the bottle....

This little guy is going to be buddies with the kids till he gets big enough to pasture (and then he'll be friendly enough to be dangerous I'm afraid)....By then we'll have another little guy to be buddies with.  :)  He bawls all night long and then bawls at us if he hears us all day (and it's only been a few days).  When he gets a little bigger I'm guessing he'll be giving rides.  HA!

Friday, September 20, 2013

School week 3!

Ok, first of all I can't believe that I've been able to do a blog post every week about our school year.  This week did not go at all as planned but we still did pretty well.

Karate was fun and more challenging this week.  We had to do a plank (oh man do those hurt) and we got to do some more complex moves.  As we were practicing I thought of the new karate kid because we were all pulling "faces" trying to get it right.

A is working on flash cards with his multiplication facts on them  We are just gonna hang out here until he can do them quickly and accurately.  M is doing well with addition and is working on money.  G is doing well with the new reading program but we are taking it REALLY slow.  I am not hurrying him thru ANYTHING!  We are going to get this.  L is having fun making huge messes!

We were planning on a field trip to a nearby airport to see the planes but I didn't get us signed up in time so we didn't get to go.  We joined a new homeschool group this year and I'm still learning the website.  We were all bummed but it was ok.

In social studies this week, we used the projector (how have I never gotten that out for every day school) and we did an online archeology dig for Roman artifacts, put them back together and decided what they were.  We got many right and when we got them wrong, we learned what they are.  Then as determined by what we found where in the "dig" we were able to see what the little town may have looked like.  It was great fun and we all learned something.  Did you know that at the baths Romans would rub themselves with oil and then steam and then scrape the oil, sweat, and dirt off themselves (or a slave would do it) with a "scraper" (think big old fashioned razor but made of wood).  That was news (and kinda gross) to me.  :)  We're also working on mosaics.

We did a science experiment this week.  I don't have pictures of it because despite 3 tries, it was a total failure.  :(  Moving on to whales next week.

I am enjoying guitar and now that it has new strings it is even better.  And A is jamming on his drum lessons.  So much that we had to get him a drum set.  It is just coming to easily.  We were blessed by another homeschooling family with an awesome price on exactly what we need.

Now for some pictures from the week....
I peaked around the corner and saw this in my living room.  Heart melting image!

Fun at the fall festival parade!

A and daddy pitchin washers at daddy's family reunion

school outside on a beautiful day!!!

MOre outside school

And more outside school!!

We even brought our lunch out that day.

Some ag class up on the roof trying to figure out why our chimney leaks with Pappy.  

More ag class prepping the pen for a new addition to the family.  Pictures to come soon.  He's still a little skittish.

Soon, I'll post some more weekend fun pictures (we've had a birthday and another coming next week)!!!  We are so busy! 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Chunky granola

Recipe from more with less cookbook

Preheat oven to 350

In ungreased 9x13 put
      6 cups rolled oats

Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and add
     1/2 cup each.  Sunflower seeds or nuts, coconut, wheat germ, dry milk powder

In separate bowl combine
     2/3 cup honey,   2/3 cup oil, 1 teas vanilla

Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients.  Make sure to get it really coated (I use my hand even though the oats are hot).  Bake 10-15 minutes longer stirring every 3-5 until golden.  Do not over bake.  Let cool undisturbed.  Then break into chunks.

Chopped raisins dates or dried fruits can be added (I do this as I serve cause sometimes I want them and sometimes I don't)

To turn these into granola bars add to liquids 1 egg, and about 1/3 cup milk.  Press mixture firmly into  two 10x15 well greased pans.  Bake until nicely browned...cut immediately and remove from pan when cool

I am trying the granola bars soon...maybe today :)

Friday, September 13, 2013

School Week 2

Although our days are not always filled with J.O.Y., we are doing well, learning lots and mostly enjoying school time.

This week we focused in on some topics in Rome during the first century.  The big boys got to pick a couple topics they were interested in...I put on my teacher hat and devised an assignment and rubric (by which to grade the assignment)-then I put my mom hat on and helped them find some material by which to learn these materials.  They will be actually filling out the assignment with less of my help.  I found an awesome website for kids about Rome and they were able to find the topics they wanted to study.   They found a game called "Fling the Teacher" where by answering correctly question about Rome, they can build a trebuchet to "fling the teacher"  (It isn't just a clever name).  This was the best and most fun we've had with History in our homeschool career-please please please let it continue.  Here are pics of their completed projects.

In science this week, we started our "ocean boxes" which are long term dioramas we will add to as we learn more about the oceans of the world.  Each child has their own in a medium flat rate box from the post office.  I hope we don't wish we'd done one big "classroom" one.  We were supposed to do an experiment but I didn't have any food coloring (nasty stuff) so we'll do it on monday after I've made a trip to the store.

A is doing US geography (my plan was to do it with both older boys but it is too much for M) and A did a great job looking up the info he needed to find for the 2 states we're covering this week...Maine and Massachusetts.   He says this is his favorite subject!  YAY! I am proud of his willingness to work independently this year.....and it gives me hope for the others.  I'm guessing M (and the others) will be more interested when we "eat" our way thru some of the states.  :)

G is plugging away at reading still.  He is my first to really struggle with reading.  We've switched programs and are trying "Hooked on Phonics"  We'll see how it goes long term.  So far so good.  He is also learning about tally marks and, although he can count them, was having trouble making them and keeping it neat enough to keep track of what he'd done.  So, we busted out some tooth picks and he is doing it that way.  Works great!  And since we are having such difficulty with reversals (d/b mostly) we got out some rice to practice writing letters in....and his handwriting is improving as well.  SCORE!  I'm doing some more research on how to work with reversals with young kids.  It is perfectly normal but he gets frustrated and if we can find a way to make it easier then lets get on it.  :)

M has been very stressed about school work this week.  One morning while getting ready to start keyboarding he started saying he was dizzy and his eyes kinda got funny looking.  He was so anxious about it I think he was hyperventilating and gonna pass out.  As soon as I said "forget it, no more keyboarding till at least after Christmas at the very soonest," he was fine!  He is clearly not yet ready for keyboarding (I thought he would like it cause he HATES writing things out and holds the pencil SO tight that his hands hurt but he is only in 2nd grade so it most definitely NOT necessary).

L is going to be a READER!  She wants me to read books ALL the time.  I read to her at least an hour a day (broken up into 15-20 minute slots).  We read at school time, before nap time, and before bed time almost every day.  And sometimes she gets the boys to read to her too.  During school time she has been a bit of a handful but she is learning the routine.  She plays with rice, or with blocks, and loves to cut and color.  We have to sweep after school every single day....and sometimes midway thru too.  But she is happy, learning, and messes can always be cleaned up.  :)

We also started our extra-curriculars this week.  (Contrary to popular belief, homeschoolers do not lack socialization if you mean the opportunity to socialize with others-hopping off soap box).

We are all (except the Princess who is not big enough) taking Tai Kwan Do at a local community college.  Our teacher is great and it is a very traditional approach.  Respect for teacher and others in authority.  We will not do weapon training and won't start breaking boards till red belt level.  He does not create fighting machines.  I am thrilled with his approach to teaching martial arts (although I have nothing else to compare to).  He was great with the kids.  Instead of registering them in the kids only class, we all registered for the kids/adult class and they will get to interact with kids around their ages (or slightly older in G's case) AND the adults in the class (the adults were much more friendly to tell the truth).  It was great fun and we can't wait to go back next week.  Maybe after a few weeks the "yes, sir" and "yes, ma'am" will carry over into home.  (a homeschool mom can dream right?)  (no pics cause I was in class too).

A and I started drum and guitar lessons (respectively) this week as well.  A totally ROCKED it.  I was so impressed.  He got the both hands and his foot going and all on the right beat.  However, it is going to be VERY hard for him to practice on his practice pad....anybody got a small (and cheap) drum set they wanna get rid of???   I am going to really like guitar although I had a harder time than he did (oh learn while young and its easy people).  I learned all the chords for one song and am practicing them.  But the biggest challenge I think is going to be building up the callouses so my fingers don't feel like they have blisters on them.  But I'll get there.  I like it.

Now for pictures.

A needs to really master his multiplication tables (up to where he is now) before we move on.  He is practicing with wrap ups to get faster.

G is using toothpicks to practice tally marks and counting by fives.

L reading another book

A gets to use the ipad to look up his geography information....maybe this is why its his favorite subject :)

Since G is having trouble with letters....we are practicing them in rice with his finger, and then with a pencil eraser.  It is helping.  woot woot

Making our ocean boxes.

Working on column addition with double digits.  I think we had a lightbulb moment.  YAY!  I love being able to hold up when a child is struggling and find a "non-traditional" way to help him get it.  So much fun to be a part of the lightbulb moment.

Busted out the projector  to make our Roman Soldier  posters.  We projected them on to the paper and and traced the outline and then used it to label and define all his armor.
Finished Roman Soldier Art.  You can't see the labels but all the armor is labeled.  They did a GREAT job!  So proud!