Wednesday, December 31, 2014


In the midst of my big freezer cooking plans, I am also planning my January menu.  I do this on my calendar and then go grocery shopping.  I haven't done a "big shop" in a few weeks cause I hate shopping in december so this weekend is going to be a doozy.  This plan includes only dinner meals (the big family meal of the day).  Lunches and breakfasts are a completely different ballgame.  They are boring and I haven't found a good way to keep them simple and make them interesting....but I'm working on it.

One of the goals I have for 2015 is to remember recipes we like so I can make them again.  I am creating a home binder for this but I figure an online option won't this is January.  I've already put them in my calendar....but here is my list.  Links included to online recipes so I can find them again.

1. snacks (cheese, summer sausage, crackers, fruit) -This is my big freezer prep day with friends so I won't be cooking supper.
2. eat out - grocery shopping
3. taco chili (from the freezer)
4. salad bar (french dressing)
5. egg scramble
6. italian sausage (from the freezer)
7. date night/birthday night at awana
8. pancakes (L birthday dinner)
9. pork chops - sweet potatoes - roasted cauli and broccoli (I'll use the pork chop recipe here or here)
10. turkey dinner - mashed potatoes - green beans (this makes great leftovers for future meals)
12. turkey fried rice (using leftover turkey)
13. shepherds pie (using leftover mashed potatoes)
14. biscuits n gravy
15. chicken lickin (from the freezer)
16. pizza 
17. Ponderosa meal (this is what we call it when we empty the fridge of all leftovers and scavenge for dinner)
21. sloppy joe with fries
22. turkey pot pie (with leftover turkey)
23. ham n beans
24. cornish pasties  - I use a recipe with ground beef but this covers the basics and the history
25. fried fish - slaw - corn
27. nacho chicken (from the freezer)

The days at the end of the month are intentionally not left fully filled in because there is always a meal or two (or five) that I didn't make ( made something else cause I always have some staples on hand or ate out or something else came up- so I plan to not follow things exactly).  So I sub it into a day later in the month.  Plus there are several meals that will be in the freezer that aren't on the menu.  I can use those in a pinch as well.   I will also hit the store midmonth to grab little things (milk, produce, stuff I forgot, etc).

In my pantry/fridge/freezer, I almost always have things for tuna burgers or tuna casserole, or hot dogs and in the winter chili and/or other soups.  I also have my canned veggies (green beans and corn) and meat from our deer, and pork.  I keep pasta, dry beans, rice, dry milk powder, and grains like oats and flour in bulk in the pantry.  We have egg chickens and buy eggs from a friend with more chickens than they need for eggs.  So although I do need to buy some things....I could go several weeks and we would not go hungry.  But we might not eat what we want.  Although there may be a time that we eat what we have because that's all we can get, we are not at that point so I do this so we have variety and enjoy our meals.

I'll try to report back at the end of the month and let you all know how it goes.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Freezer Prep Cooking with Friends - part 2- The Plan!

So a quick recap.....

I found 4 friends who want to prep with me (still working on a name).  And determined nobody had any food allergies and were pretty much game for trying new things.  (YAY!)  Then I got to searching.  Seriously, LOTS of recipes!  LOTS!

Reviewing what we will prep this can be found here

Italian Sausage
Bean Enchiladas
Taco chili
nacho chicken
cowboy beef n beans
chili dogs
chicken lickin
veggie chili
bean and potato soup
german potato soup

Here is my grocery list.  I also did a cost analysis using prices from Aldi and Walmart (so I could give the other moms an accurate estimate of cost).  That is going to be different depending on where you live so I took that part out for this doc  Across the top are the meals we prepped for.  Down the sides are all the ingredients we would have to buy.  I did not include spices as I keep those in bulk in my kitchen.  This doc gives the ingredients for ONE family.  So I multiplied everything by 5 at the store.  :)  If you are shopping for multiple families don't forget to check bulk options and compare price per unit.  It was cheaper per unit to buy a BIG can (like 7 lbs I think) of baked beans but the tomato sauce was cheaper per unit in little 8 oz cans.  Do not try to apply logic while in is futile.

 I've been working on the plan since about Thanksgiving to find recipes that offered variety and options and stayed at my goal price point. After doing the shopping this weekend, my time and work paid off and I stayed RIGHT on budget.  Each family will spend $55 total or $5 per meal which is at or less than $1/serving.  Several of the meals are complete.  A few do have some basics that will be needed for serving.

Here is the list of spices needed for all of these recipes....

bay leaf
caraway seeds (we are likely leaving this out)
dried minced onion
chili powder
ground ginger
garlic salt
red pepper flakes
onion powder
garlic powder
cajun seasoning

Monday, December 29, 2014

Freezer Prep Cooking with Friends- part 1 - The recipes!

I thought it would be fun to get together with several other moms and get some good food in the freezer for those days that you just don't have it in you to cook a meal.  I found 4 interested mommas (we need a cool name now) and got to work.

 I chose meals after discussing with the 4 others any food allergies and what they like or dislike.  Thankfully everyone was game to try new things. So after searching the interwebs, hitting some cookbooks, and getting some family favs from some of the moms.  Then doing some math to figure cost for each meal that were contenders....these are the 11 meals we (By 'we' I mean 'I')settled on.

Italian Sausage
Bean Enchiladas
Taco chili
nacho chicken
cowboy beef n beans
chili dogs
chicken lickin
veggie chili
bean and potato soup
german potato soup

All non-linked recipes can be found here  (I am working on the link for the italian sausage)

Although this makes for a short (fairly boring) blog post....this was actually quite challenging.  There are a LOT of recipes out there.  I was trying for variety and low cost.  Also mostly healthy.  Not all of these meet all of the criteria.  But I think it is pretty good all around.  Only 3 of the recipes have I tried before.  I have had similar recipes of 2 more.  The rest are all gambles.  :)

Up next.  the grocery list....this part took a LONG time!   

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Creation Museum!

ready to hit the museum!!!

We went to 2 movies at the planetarium....
L insisted on her own chair until her legs got tired of hold the chair back

Ready to travel into the cosmos.

Oh my goodness A smiled nicely for a picture!!!

They took time to find the chameleons in the case.

Checking out Dr. Crawlies insects.

So much hands on things makes for fun for the kids.....and the king.  
Butterfly cases.  

Wouldn't be complete without some dinosaurs.

And big fossils too!

Ready to enter the cavern.  :)  So many smiles!!!!!

We got to hunt for fossils in this big wall

L found one.  Wooot!  Woot!!!

This is a poster of the solar system.  We saw this the day after the planetarium.  I didn't really think L paid much attention during the show.  But she told me all about space and how we got to go floating in it (the movie made it feel that way).  I was surprised and impressed.

A in the Garden of Eden!

G visiting a dino in the Garden.

M thinks it's funny it looks like he's gonna get eaten but its really the dino's head and leg.  HA

L in the Garden too.

Noah's ark model.  
 ** There was so much more noah's ark stuff.  But I didn't get many good pictures.  It is my favorite section of the museum so maybe that's why.  The kids really enjoyed an interactive computer game where they answer questions about the building of the ark and every time they got one right, another section was added to the digital ark.  But I don't know what happened to the pictures.  :/

Hotel time is also great!  Since we don't have channels at home they LOVE watching cartoons.  And I love being reminded of the many reason we don't have channels at home.  ;)
You know those little make-up mirrors in hotel bathrooms.  This one cracked me up.  I know I am short but come on.  It was SO far up there....

Happy, sleepy kids on the drive home!
We have now done a long family vacation (to the beach) and several short trips throughout the year and both are so much fun!  Family time is the best time!!!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Run for my Money!

There are weeks at a time that L gives me (and pretty much everyone) a run for our money.  She is antagonistic, whiny, and just miserable to be around.  It makes life very difficult for her and not great for anyone else....and then she gets over it and becomes a fun, lovely, enjoyable kid again!  We are in a fun fun time so far this week.  (I really thought we'd get to hold off on mood swings till she hit puberty.  sigh)

So in the last few days she has been full of some funny this.

We listen to spotify on the computer.  I have a list of worship songs that I love with a few secular songs mixed in.  It spans a BROAD spectrum of music.  Yesterday, the boys were begging to put it on a Luke Brian station so I finally caved and they did....then this conversation happened.

some Luke Brian song starts playing.
M:  Yay!  This song is awesome!
L: I don't like this song
M:  TOO BAD!  (very loudly)

....or this......

Last night at dinner.
L: (to daddy) A, M, and G have clocks in their room
S: yes they do.
Me: she noticed this today.
L: I want a clock
S:  Why?
L: cause I like clocks.
M: I saw a H-E-L-L-O  K-I-T-T-Y one at walmart.
L:  No, I want a pink G-R-F-I-R-S one.

We need to work on her spelling apparently.
......or one more......

And this morning:
L:  Mom is it wintertime?
Me: Yes it is.
L:  So can I wear my pink dress?
Me: (sigh) Yes I guess (she's been wanting to wear this dress and I've been telling her no cause its for winter time-she outsmarted me)
time passes
Me: We need to get shoes on.
L: Can I wear my cowgirl boots?
Me: (resigned and chuckling) Sure why not!

This girl has got a sense of style all her own.  Off we head for the dentist, out to lunch, drum lessons and a playday with friends.  :)

Watch out world!  She is gonna give you all a run for your money too.  I only hope you meet her on a good day!  ;)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Mighty Hunters of Mine!

Pictures are worth 1000 here they are!

The King got himself a little one (see the king holding on to his buck's rack....yep, its a button buck)   and A took a trophy today!  

Pappy pictures along side the hunter as guide....and proud grandpa!  :)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Pumpkin Patch Field Trip

This fall we went on a homeschool field trip to a pumpkin patch.  There was a large group of homeschoolers but we kinda split up and didn't hang real close to the whole group the whole time  It was hard to get many pics of the boys cause they ran off with some older friends and had a blast.  

D liked the lesson on the one room school house....she raised her hand the whole time.

G and a friend listening.

M might be a little bored.  D is still ready to answer a question.

L and her bestie sitting right up front.

heading for another maze

My friend and I thought we might die in the corn maze.  We were in there for something like 3 weeks we think....the kids thought it was fun.

......except for D who totally bit it in the mud.  Ooopsie.
all the kids are in there somewhere.

 It was such a fun day and we can't wait for the trip next fall.  We'll be back every year.  SO worth it!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Fall Ball - Halloween.

Plus I got a new camera!  YAY!

I haven't posted pictures in a while cause my camera blew up.  Now that I have a new one....I have pictures.  Actually several different posts worth but it'll take some time.  I'm strugging to keep all my chores done.

But we went to a fall ball at a a little country church in our neighborhood tonight.  And I got some great pictures of the kids in their costumes.

Friday, September 26, 2014

I can't....I'm not smart enough.

When does it become ok to say "I can't....?"  At what age is that an acceptable excuse?  That is exactly what it excuse.

A good parent tells their kids "of course, you can." for so many things.  We teach kids to dream big.  Then as an adult we get in a box and stay there.  We don't fight the status quo (and if we do we are wierd!)

As a side note - When I hear a parent saying "oh, s/he can't _______________." about their child it infuriates me.  Of course, s/he can try martial arts, drive a car, play soccer, do that math, or fill in the blank.  It is important that our kids understand that they may not be the best martial artist, baseball/basketball/football/soccer player but that they can for sure DO it.  But that is a different blog post for a different day. So I'm going back to my original thought today.

I have heard adults say "I can't homeschool" several times in the last few weeks.  I get that there are situations and life that makes homeschooling not possible.  Single parents households is one that comes to mind (although I know single parent homeschoolers).  Some would say financial reasons are a problem.  That is a harder one....could it be a lifestyle issue instead?  (I am not placing judgement if homeschooling is not for you....or not for you at this stage of your life) But the reason I've heard recently is that "I'm not smart enough." or "With my personality, I don't think it will work.  We will just butt heads"


When does that become an acceptable thing to say about yourself?  When does that become a viable reason....


When your child comes home with miserable math homework does she get to say "I'm not smart enough for this work." and you say "Oh right.  You are not smart enough"

Or what about an F on a science test?  Can he look at you and say "I'm not smart enough to take a science test" and be off the hook.

Can your high school student say "I'm not smart enough to get a job and stay in school" and you pay all his bills while he floats through.

Or can she say "mom I'm not smart enough to go to college." and you said "oh that's true. You aren't good enough for college"

What about when you get called to the principal's office AGAIN because he got in a fight over lunch and punched a kid.  Does he get to say "Mom, its my personality.  I just butt heads with Johnny."

What about when she loses another job because she smarts off to the boss.  Does she get to blame her personality? and move in to your basement?

What about when he gets into an argument with his wife?  Can he say "our personalities are clashing"

I'm making an assumption that all of the answer to these questions is no.  I am not saying it is wrong to pay all your kids bills thru highschool (it won't happen in this house but do what you want).  College may not be a path your child chooses....also ok.  A fight with another child might happen (one of mine bloodied a friend's nose once).  My point is the excuse that "I'm not smart enough" or "I have a __________ personality" is invalid.  

If it isn't a good enough excuse for your kids to get out of what you know they need to do or to get out of trouble you know they caused....then it isn't good enough for an adult.  I am not saying that everyone should homeschool...I am, however, saying that if you are feeling led in that direction and are fighting that feeling....find a better excuse than your brains or your personality.  Cause anyone who has homeschooled for any length of time knows it is a poor excuse and we aren't buying it.  

So I'll end by saying what any good parent would say to their child who thinks they aren't smart enough or their personality is all wrong.  Honey, you CAN do anything you put your mind to.  If God calls you to do something, he also equips you for it in one way or another.  And personalities are something we will live with our whole lives.  We have to learn to use our personality for the best always.  We can either fight it or learn to use it, may as well learn to work with the one God gave you.  We won't always get along with everyone all the time....but we can always get along with someone most of the time.  And lastly....all choices come with sacrifices.  We have to decide which things are worth sacrificing and which aren't....or ways to find the balance.  

But we are smart enough and God gave us the perfect personality to do whatever He calls us to do and don't use that excuse on me anymore, young man/lady.  ;)  

***If you have questions about homeschooling in general or how we do it....ask.  Any homeschooler you know will likely talk your ear off (myself included).*****

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Two Week Menu Sept 15

I am in a group on facebook where we talk about wellness and health goals.  Menu planning has recently come up and someone asked me to share my 2 week menu.  So that's what I'm doing.

I use these to plan.  I like the horizontal 2 week planner but there are lots to chose from.  I have the master so I can type in my plan and save and then theoretically reuse that menu later.

So here is my menu for the next 2 weeks.  I schedule these by day so that the crock pot meals are on days that I'm busy and don't have time to prep supper, fast meals on days that we have plans in the evenings.  And my lunches make use of leftovers before they go bad.  ;)  I think the only way to do this nicely on here though is to just make a list of here goes.

eggs your way
brownie batter oatmeal
banana splits (banana, plain yogurt, melted peanut butter, and honey)
huevos rancheros tacos (or make your own breakfast cause mommy wants to try something new)
oatmeal your way
cinnamon rolls
english muffins
oatmeal (we like this one and it is apple season)
egg and toast
coffee cake
crock pot breakfast (another new one)

chicken wraps
flat bread pizzas (I use this bread recipe and add pizza sauce and cheese after flipping the first time)
fruity lunch (cheese, crackers, fresh fruit, veggies and dip)
grilled sandwiches and soup
picnic lunch
mexican sushi (another new one)
hot dogs & mac n cheese
homemade spaghettios (M will have pb & j I'm sure)

whole chicken in the crock pot, veggie, potatoes
shepherds pie
salad bar
fish, rice pilaf, veggies
crock pot turkey fajitas
minestrone, artisan bread
tuna burgers, veggies and dip
meatloaf, potatoes, green beans
biscuits n gravy
sloppy joes, slaw fries.

Ok, so there it is.  For better or worse.  :)  I wish I could make it look pretty in a table.  That really bugs me.  Grrrrrr.

Friday, August 29, 2014

School-Week One!

I make no promises about posting weekly.  For one thing, my camera is busted.  Right now I have a borrowed camera but I'm going to need to return it soon.  It is hard to not have a camera but I want to wait to buy one when I can afford one I really want.  Secondly, promises like that are just made to be broken.

But that isn't what this is about.  Our first week of school was FABULOUS!  We've finished our work each day.  School lasts longer than it has in the past but we have older kids so that day was coming anyway.  Science went great (i didn't get any pictures of our experiments).  We learned about matter, mass, and density.  The kids have jumped into seat work with great attitudes and ready to learn it.  I am so proud of them.

I know that we won't always have great school days.  I know there will be days I want to run away.  I know there will be days where every stinkin thing is a fight and a battle.  But this week, is an encouraging start to the year.  And it shows me that they CAN do all of this.  My expectations are NOT too high.  I had mixed feelings about starting school this fall.  So ready to jump in and yet didn't feel quite prepared.  And it has all gone well.

Now I just need to lesson plan for next week.  HA.  I'll try to get that done by Sunday night.  :)  Next week we will be adding in our 15 minute "dash n stash" and our daily cleaning duties....gonna work to "reset" the house back to mostly clean over the weekend.  Although we jump into school work with both feet, we are taking just a little time to rebuild our school time routine...I can only pray it continues to go this well!

A is coloring "Mitchells map" for history.

Reading the "Mayflower Compact" - see how nice the projector works.  That's on my white board so we can highlight and circle things we're projecting.  I love it!

L is all about the markers these days.  So far she's only used them on paper so that's cool

More map work

G doesn't like to use a chair for school work at the table.  

The car seat is in the living room since we are getting a new van and she likes to sit in it to read her stories.

She picked out some puzzles to do.  And took off her dress.  Sigh.
All three boys are doing some computer learning this year.  G is doing typing here.  They are also learning spanish with Rosetta Stone on the computer.

Spelling "test" time.  

This is my FAVORITE school picture I can ever remember taking....This is what it looks like when 2 boys get ALL their spelling words correct.

working on his model of Jamestown.  This project gave us all some fits.  But we persevered thru it.
G and his finished Jamestown model.  Woot woot
M and his finished model of Jamestown

I don't know why the last 3 pictures won't center....I am done trying to fix it.  HA!  Great week of school in the books!