July 31, 2007

Feeding A Crowd

Does anyone know of some good recipes or where to find some that will feed a large group of people? My brother-in-law's family isn't really large, just 6 of them, but three are teenage boys and they can go through the food. I think they may be slightly picky eaters as well. I am keeping my 4 month old niece today along with my three girls, so I may not have time to search for ideas.

Please leave me a comment if you know of something! Thanks :)

July 30, 2007

Busy Week

I may be scarce this week- for one thing I travel a ways twice a week for my daughter's therapy, my dryer is broken so I have to spend a lot more time on laundry (it also keeps storming so I sometimes have to re-do a load) and my brother-in-law and his large family are coming to stay this weekend, which means extra cooking and cleaning.

It all just depends on various things if I will get to post anything of interest this week :)

July 28, 2007

My Home Management Binder

Well, here is my attempt at showing off my binder. I apologize that the pictures aren't very good- I did it pretty quickly. I used to think it was pretty nerdy to have a binder with home management stuff in it and resisted the idea. I tried to get one going before, but I still wasn't convinced that it would be helpful and didn't stay with it. Now I really understand the idea behind it, and I've been blessed to have all my information all in one place. It's like a second brain :) I have two sets of dividers and lots of page protectors (I just started using those), as well as a zippered bag with pens and such in the front. I've been building it for several months, maybe close to a year.

Front Cover:

The inside- I have a pad of note paper on the inside pocket, as well as some scratch papers or whatever papers I need to 'file'. Then I have my zippered bag with pens, dry erase markers and other things I need easy access to.

Next is my 'Rules' Section, which I got from www.myblessedhome.blogspot.com. I have three pages- "A Woman's Rules to Live By", " Mothers' Rules" and "Children's Rules".

Next is the Calendar Section. I have one with all the months of the year on one page, and then blank ones that I can write in. I mostly write my menus in those- guess I should move them to my 'Menu' section.

Next one is my Schedules. I have several things in there- the Master schedule, routines, to-do lists, and my revised summer schedule, which I've revised again but haven't added to the section yet.

Here is the Menu section. I don't really have a set menu plan, but I made a few up just to have on hand. I also have a master grocery list to help me check off any items we're out of that I might forget. (things you don't normally buy weekly, like baking powder)

Next is the Child Training section. I have lots of pages printed out from raisinggodlytomatoes.com- I should refer to it more than I do :) I intend to add information for ideas of fun activities to do with the kids, and chart their learning progress etc.

Next I have recipes- most are not in page protectors, but I'm planning get them all 'protected' because they get splattered on. I have tons of recipes in another notebook, and I plan to add my favorites to this one, someday!

My cleaning section is next, and this picture is my 'normal' method, not the summer-modified one. I also have detailed instructions for cleaning specific things and recipes for homemade cleaning solutions.

The next one is a health section, to put various articles I find important, but there aren't any yet! I keep forgetting to print things out.

Then I have a tab for Leiah, to put some of her medical records (like shots) and her school info in.

Next I have extra dividers, page protectors and I forgot, but I have scratch paper in the front behind my zipper bag. Then I have a stack of inspirational articles in the back pocket of the notebook.

Here is the very back of the binder, with a copy of my master schedule from a few months ago.

And there you are, my brain in a book :)

Clothesline Diaries

I wanted to share a fun experience, and I say fun in a most sarcastic way. Thursday I had hung out about 100 items on our clothesline to dry. It was late in the day because that morning the dryer was working, so I didn't realize it wasn't drying until later. About 5pm I was in the kitchen making dinner when I noticed it was getting pretty dark. It has been raining and storming almost daily for the whole summer, but the past week had been sunny most of the time. OOPS!

So I ran outside and the wind was gusting, tree branches were breaking off and falling around me, and I was frantically pulling off mostly-dry clothes while also putting my clothespins in my little bag to take inside. I think I got it all off in two minutes! Plus I had all the little people running around my legs trying to 'help'. I ran with that heavy laundry basket trailing clothespins behind me and just made it in when the rain hit. Fun stuff. The same thing happened yesterday only I didn't get it off the line in time- they just got a 'second washing'.

If all goes well today I plan to put my home management binder online. We'll see, if not, I will get it soon.

Happy Saturday everyone!

July 26, 2007

Flower from another planet?

I found this flower growing in the backyard. I don't know what it is but it sure is cool.

Coffee Cake

I tried out a recipe for coffee cake- something I've never made- last weekend. I used Anna's recipe here:

I made one for our Pastor's wife for babysitting for me, and it looked so wonderful that I made another one for us. I followed the recipe except I used butter for the topping and buttermilk instead of rice milk. I also used the rest of the local peaches for the fruit.

Monday night I made another one- cherry almond flavor. I had a can of dark sweet cherries that I didn't know what to do with, so I drained them well and put them on top. Then I sprinkled the streusel topping on, and then some sliced almonds, about 1/4c. I also reduced the sugar to half a cup for the cake part, and 2-3 T for the topping. That was a good one :) I will most likely be making another one today- either with frozen blueberries or apples.

Got to keep a constant supply of coffee cake around here :) We all love it, and it's fun to play around with the ingredients. And it's not too terribly 'bad' for you. Yummy!

July 24, 2007

A bad day that turned out good

Well, I thought yesterday was difficult.

Today started out pretty well, until I decided to do some more searching and calling for vacation rentals (affordable ones, ha,ha). The kids went berserk then. Tuesday is my day to do the bulk of my cleaning, since I have to take my oldest daughter to speech therapy on Monday and Wednesday in the middle of the day. I also had a friend who has never been to our new house before coming for dinner and to visit this evening, so I had a special meal to prepare.

I tried to get my kids working on different activities while I did my cleaning, but they just cried for one reason or another. They have all sorts of cool things to play with, but I guess they're bored with them or something since they would rather peel wallpaper off the wall or climb on the wood stove. ???? I yelled. A lot. I'm not a loud yelling-type person either. I just got real frustrated.

So, after trying to get things done for a couple of hours, and after firing off a few emails to my new friend Vicki (thirdtimama) I decided to chill. So what if my toilets didn't get scrubbed or if the kitchen floor wasn't spotless? I went to the kitchen and made lunch, fish sticks and french fries-healthy! I figured if they were eating then they'd be busy. I started preparing our evening meal. (lasagna, salad, homemade garlic bread, lemon-butter broccoli, Tirimisu cheesecake) Then because they were a mess ( I let them sample the cheesecake) we put on swim suits and they played in their pool and sandbox while I cleaned up the patio and hung out laundry. We had a good time. Afterwards I finished meal prep while they watched Sesame Street, then they had naps.

My whole attitude shifted- someone was praying for me because everything became nice and calm and happy again. Maybe I had a dip in hormones this morning, LOL! What annoyed and angered me before was only a slight bother. I didn't yell anymore. I am so thankful and blessed that I know the Lord and have His Spirit living in me. What a terrible sight I would be without Him.

And, after I rested a bit and did more online searching, I made myself look presentable (I had been wearing some grungy clothes) in a nice dress, earrings, makeup and fixed hair, cleaned the toilets, tub and sinks, put away all the laundry, finished tidying the kitchen and meal prep, got my girls prettied up and had time for them to help me finish our meal. Everyone was pleasant and happy. Wow.

It all got done anyhow, with a good attitude. By the grace of God! Thank you too Vicki!

P.S. I am planning to do more posting besides on my crazy days. I am planning to do one of my binder and possibly a 'Week in Feminine Dress'. Not sure how to take pictures of myself since my camera doesn't have a timer.

July 23, 2007

My Monday

Wow, what a day. Usually Mondays are good for me- I've had all day Sunday to rest and relax and am ready to go again on Monday. Well, for one reason or another I just got way backed up on things this weekend- such as the dryer not working, I have a terrible pain in my back/hip- like a pinched nerve that I am going to see a doctor for, and just being busy in general. I actually didn't do dishes two nights in a row! GASP!! I hate the feeling of being behind, and that everything is just building up.

So, I planned to go to bed early and get up early to get things moving since today Leiah had speech therapy and I didn't have babysitters for the other two. Well, let's just say things didn't go as planned with going to bed early . I got up at 6:30, showered, dressed, tidied the bedroom, quickly cleaned our toilet, and started laundry. I then started breakfast, loaded the dishwasher and started it, and quickly tidied up the kitchen and living room. After I got the girls up and changed (diaper/pullup) they ate breakfast, I stripped all beds, got them dressed, switched laundry, finished getting myself ready, packed the purse/diaper bag and put the animals out. I was also on the computer for about 20 minutes in there looking for accomodations for our vacation- a very spur of the moment one.

So, kids are all in the car (which is a feat in itself- three five point harness carseats, ack!) got the dvd going, begin driving. An hour later we arrive to the therapy place, kids are all over the place while I'm haggling with the front desk lady about my copay, then Alexa has to go to the bathroom, so we all go in there- she's on the potty while I'm trying to keep Sarah andLeiah out of everything, which Sarah did get her hand in the toilet, so we washed everyone's hands, then the therapist came out and she was a 'sub' so we all went with Leiah so she wouldn't get upset.

After that we drive to Brookshires, a grocery store my husband works for, and attempt to remember the few things I needed. See, they're running a special that if you buy $35 worth of groceries each week for 14 weeks, then you get a free canopy thing that goes outside- kind of like a tent. Very handy at parks and beaches. So, I went there to buy $35 of items and get my canopy. (since we're planning to go to the beach soon) After I pay for everything, they tell me all the canopies are gone- they're out! 4 months of buying groceries and I don't get it! They did give me a $70 gift card, so at least it was something.

We drive home, eat a sandwich, put kids down for naps. Sarah doesn't want to sleep, which is VERY unusual- she usually takes a 3 hour nap. So after 45 minutes of playing I let her up. I had been online again looking for places to stay. So, that was when I realized my dryer wasn't working anymore (about 3:30pm) and I had all of our wet bedding to get dry. So I hung it all out on my new clothesline. Then, because I splurged and drank a 20oz Coke- not in one sitting- I got a major energy rush and got all my dishes washed, laundry folded, floors cleaned, clutter put away and made dinner.

I didn't get my exercising in and I barely got tweaking my home management binder in today. I still have time for Bible reading, but I forget that my schedule doesn't rule me. It's not going to scold me for not getting everything done. I am thinking about changing things up a bit, maybe lightening the cleaning load until Leiah goes back to school. I am also going to put a new section in my binder- "Daily Reminders". There are things that I NEED to do that I totally forget about- like taking vitamins, putting Leiah's glasses on her and her eyedrops, and other things I forgot, LOL. I am also going to have company tomorrow night, which is usually when I shop for groceries, so I had to rearrange things a bit. It's good to be flexible though. It sort of feels like someone who is juggling breakable items while running at the same time!

July 22, 2007

It's Alive!! (insert evil laugh)

My handy hubby seems to have fixed the dryer---yea!

July 21, 2007

My Dryer is Dead

Well, for the third time in 4 years my dryer wasn't working. Before, my handy hubby always found a way to rescue it and extend it's life. Well this time it died. After messing with it for 45 minutes he came to me and said, "Were you praying that it was dead?" I laughed and said no, I hoped it could live on so we didn't have to buy another one.

He is off to the store to buy some clothesline for outside and indoors, because it has been raining just about everyday here for the last few months. Guess laundry will be taking up my time a bit more now :)

Meanwhile we're scanning ads for used dryers. The one we had was used and it's probably 20 years old. It served us well, we put it through some hard use, and it gave out.

This always happens in the summer.

July 20, 2007

Week of Rashes

This week all of my kids have had something called impetigo. At first they appeared to have mosquito bites, and then the bites turned into open sores. I thought they had just been scratching at them. Finally Sarah's got really nasty, and my mom took one look at them and said, 'Oh that's impetigo." What's that?

Apparently impetigo is caused by a bacteria (staph or strep) that infects the skin when you scratch the insect bites. Mostly kids get it in the summer. The treatment: bathe daily with soap and water, try to remove any yellow crust (doesn't that make you gag?) from the sores, and apply antibiotic ointment. I used a cream the doctor prescribed and they are healing well. Thankfully they only had a few spots on their body- our friend that we caught it from had them ALL OVER! It was awful looking.

Well that was Monday, and this morning when I went to get baby Sarah out of her crib, she was covered in a red, splotchy, lacy rash. Her trunk area was red like a sunburn, and everywhere else were the splotchy bumps. Her skin also felt hot. I really thought it was an allergic reaction and gave her some benadryl. I talked her pediatrician's nurse and she said it was Fifth's Disease. duh! My other two had it at this age, but it's been so long I forgot what it looked like. They are contagious until they break out-lovely.

I was supposed to keep my 4 month old niece today, but I'm glad I didn't just in case. The fun of childhood ills :)

July 19, 2007

My story of becoming a homemaker

Long ago, I was a typical little girl. I loved playing with my baby dolls, tea party set, Barbies and dress up. I dreamed of having 10 kids of my own someday and played 'house' all the time. I never had a pretend husband, didn't have much use for him, LOL. I am almost embarrassed to admit this, but I played with my dolls up until I was 13 or 14 years old, and I still had coloring books I colored in regularly when I was older :)

I loved school and playing school and so believed that I would one day also be a teacher. How I planned to mesh these two things together I didn't know, but it wasn't a concern for me then. Somewhere between junior high and highschool I bought into the idea that I needed a career and to make something of myself. I was a very tough, I can do-anything-a-man-can type of girl, mainly because I was taller and bigger than all the boys, and even they would tell me things like "you should try out for football" or "How's the weather up there?" I even did some testing with the Marine Corps as I was considering joining. (I had been watching G.I. Jane)

It bothered me though I laughed. I didn't want to stick out, I wanted to blend in with the other littler pretty girls that they liked. I had lots of fun guy friends, we were equal I suppose. For some reason I thought that the smarter and tougher I was, the more respected and liked I would be. I wouldn't even carry a purse because I felt I would look girly. Now, I did have very long curly hair, wore make-up, and was generally a quiet type person on the outside. So it's not like I looked or acted like a guy, at least not in extreme. And I did wear dresses to church and sometimes at school. (when nothing else was clean) I just felt I had to prove myself.

So, I set my sights on something great. A chemistry teacher, a doctor, a scientist, one of those things. I went to an awesome missionary-taught highschool called Christian Heritage. ( if you've ever heard of YWAM- Youth With A Mission) I had thought of becoming part of the ministry and doing a discipleship training school (DTS) instead of college, but my dad was less than pleased with that idea. So off to college I went.

I hated it. Never before in my life had I felt so little drive to make that A+. Because of an inaccurate test, I was placed in remedial reading and math, even though my senior year in highschool I made an A in all my classes, including calculus, physics, literature that I wrote some 100 essays for, all A's!!! I couldn't remember how to do 5th grade math after calculus, so I was placed in a remedial class. I would skip several classes and still make an A. I had to take another test mid-semester to test out of those classes and thankfully I did. I just didn't feel that I was in the right place.

One day while driving home from school I was praying, out loud. I said, "God, if you want me to go into DTS and become a missionary to a foreign place, I will do it. I know it might be hard, but if it's where you want me to be, I'll do it."
Then I said, "Lord, if you want me to stay in school and become a doctor, I know it would be really hard, but You would help me if that's what I'm supposed to do."

A few minutes passed, and I kind of chuckled and said,"And if you just want me to get married and have babies then I guess I'll do that."

BAM! I immediately felt in my spirit that God said " Ok." Like, He was waiting for me to be willing. Right after that my future husband and I started getting to know each other. At the time I just thought "hmm" and put it on the back burner of my mind.

Well, about 6 months later I was married, less than a year since I had graduated from highschool. Before I graduated I distinctly remember saying this, "I think it is so stupid for girls to get married right out of highschool. " I et my words, huh.

And I was right where I was supposed to be. It wasn't until about three years into our marriage that I learned about being a homemaker. My whole world changed. Why didn't anyone tell me this stuff before? I happened onto www.ladiesagaintsfeminism.com and that's where it all started. I learned about modest dress, my role as a homemaker, my role as a helpmeet to my husband and about training up godly children. It has been a process these three years since the first 'paradigm shift', but I am amazed at how far I've come. And I feel freedom in knowing I'm doing exactly what God wants me to.

I do above and beyond now with three children than I did when it was just Matt and I. We would wade into the laundry room to find our clothes. The dishes got done every few days. I did cook and grocery shop, and I did work outside the home, but still, I was so ignorant. Oh, how I wish I would have known these things before we got married. But, God has perfect timing.

Life is far from perfect. I still have moments when I feel insignificant and like nothing I do is amounting to anything eternal, even though I know it's not true. I have 'rebellious' feelings at times- wanting to run away from it all when things get crazy. I am human, but I honestly can't think of anything I would rather be doing. On the rare occasion I'm home alone, I don't know what to do with myself. It's as if I can't think clearly about what I could or should do. Things don't feel right.

But I am ever so thankful that God has shown me these things now, that I might serve my husband in the way he needs me to, raise my daughters in this knowledge, that home is a wonderful and productive place, and help other women to know what their purpose and role is in life, almost like 'spreading the Good news' in a sense.

Anyways, that's my story of how I came to be a keeper at home. What's yours?

July 17, 2007


I just had a fun time in the kitchen- note, my children were taking naps :) Cooking can sometimes be very stressful when the kiddies are trying to 'help'.

Nearby there is a large peach orchard that's going out of business so to say, and anyone can come pick all the peaches they want. My mom went Saturday and picked and ate many! Anyways, I brought about 10 good sized peaches home to play around with.

How to know if peaches are ripe: first, I smell them, if they smell nice and peachy, then more than likely they are ripe or will be soon. Next the color- if they are orangey-yellow, with a pretty peachy-pink and sometimes almost red blush, generally they are ripe. I also give them a light squeeze, and they should just give a little, not squish! If they are very hard, then set them in a kitchen window for a few days.

I haven't really done a lot with peaches. I find it's hard to get good ones in the store sometimes, either they look and smell ripe and aren't, or they just don't have a good flavor. My mom made a wonderful peach cobbler that I ate too much of :) I didn't really have time to make pastry today, so I searched www.allrecipes.com and found this recipe for Peach Upside Down Cake.

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 5 fresh peaches - peeled, pitted and halved
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk

  1. Melt 1/4 cup butter or margarine in an 8 inch square pan. Sprinkle with brown sugar and nutmeg. Arrange peach halves, cut side down, in pan.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg. Stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition. Spread batter over peaches.
  3. Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 35 to 40 minutes, or until lightly browned on top. Remove cake from oven, and let stand in pan for 5 minutes; invert onto serving platter. Serve with whipped cream.
The recipe was fairly easy. I had never peeled peaches before, but I knew how. You fill a big pot with water and bring to a boil, cut a small X in the bottom of the peach (not stem end) and place in boiling water for 30-60 seconds. Then you drain them in a colander and let cool. I took a paring knife and where the X in the skin of the peach was I started peeling the skin. It came off really easily- piece of cake! Then I cut around the peach in a big circle, used my thumb to help open it in half, poked out the pit with my knife and I sliced the peaches.

* Notes- I added ground cinnamon and nutmeg to the cake batter, as well as some almond extract. Plus I sliced the peaches instead of halving

I just pulled it out of the oven all golden brown and bubbling, and have yet to turn it out of the pan.

I only used about three of the six peaches I prepared, and I had some leftover- getting- stale sourdough bread, so I thought I'd put together a breakfast baked french toast casserole with peaches. I got a 9x13 pan, buttered it and laid slices of the homemade bread (with crusts cut off) in the pan. Then I put the rest of the sliced peaches, a cup or so, and some fresh blueberries from my mom's blueberry bush that I had sugared for dessert last night. I think I added about a cup of those. I didn't have enough bread to cover the top, so I crumbled the slices over the top. I mixed 4 eggs, 1 cup of milk, a bit of almond extract and a pinch of cinnamon in a small bowl, then poured over everything. I covered it with foil and put it in the fridge. Can't wait for breakfast!!

It was fun to use an ingredient I don't normally buy. I always had the idea that peaches were difficult because they had the pit in the middle and the fuzzy skin. It does take a little extra time to boil water and throw them in, but afterwards peeling and slicing them is much easier. And since these peaches were given to me, these dishes were quite frugal. Always a plus :)

***Edited to add, the upside down cake was good, but too sweet. A few tablespoons of sugar on top would have been plenty, also some chopped peaches in the cake batter would have been good too. The breakfast casserole was very yummy- I baked it at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes, then we topped it with maple syrup and ate it with turkey bacon. Not too sweet and very fresh tasting.

Schedule Progress

I just wanted to report that it's been a week and the schedule is going very well. In the past I could only stay with it for a few days, if that! The things that are hardest to get done is getting dressed/tidying bedroom early in the morning, and the exercise and all laundry put away. I used to just start the day in my nightgown. I still do on the weekend :) And I haven't been able to do any sewing yet. Having my daily to-do lists as well as my master schedule have really helped me to stay on task.

Another thing is I have a good attitude about my schedule and truly want to do all the things I'm supposed to. In my earlier attempts at organizing my life, my attitude didn't seem to be where it should, and I would really dread looking at my lists :) My Home Management Binder is becoming a good friend :)

I will try to post some pictures of it soon- I'll have to schedule that time in, ha,ha!

July 15, 2007

Old Time Recipe

My mom just returned from a trip with her sisters to Hot Springs, Arkansas. She brought me a souveneir, a cookbook called "Dear Daughter Cookbook: favorite recipes of the last 100 years"

There are recipes from 1850 on up to the 1960's. Supposedly they are family favorites handed down to new brides so they can continue cooking the well loved dishes. I found an interesting 'recipe' for making yeast. Apparently back in the 1850's or so, yeast cakes weren't readily available, most especially to those in remote places. So here is what they would do:

Homemade Yeast 1850
" Boil six large poatoes in three pints of water. Tie a handful of hops in a small muslin bag and boil with the potatoes. When thoroughly cooked, drain the water into enough flour to make a thin batter. Set this on the range and scald long enough to cook the flour, which makes the yeast keep longer. Set off to cool, then add the potatoes which have been mashed. Add and mix in a halfcup sugar, two tablespoons salt, and a teacupful of yeast. Let stand in a warm place until thoroughly risen, then place in a large-mouthed jug and cover tightly, and set away in a cool place. "

"Two-thirds of a coffeecupful of this yeast makes four loaves of bread."

Here is the recipe for bread and homemade yeast cakes.

Bread Like Grandma Made
Use one-half cup of homemade yeast to each two quarts of sifted flour."

"Sift 2 quarts flour into a large bread pan or bowl, making a hole in the center for the yeast. Stir in yeast lightly, into the center of the flour, then sture in some milk or water but still do not use all the flour in the pan. The milk or water should be warm in winter; cold in summer. Cover pan with a thick cloth and set away in a warm place to rise. (This is called 'putting the bread to sponge.') In winter, in the cold houses of long ago, the sponge was set over-night. Nowadays, the sponge is set in only a few hours. After the sponge is formed, add one teaspoon of salt, and mix up with all the flour in the bowl, knead well, and ste to rise until quite light. (Two or more hours) After rising, place on bread board and work thoroughly until the dough is elastuc under pressure of the hand. in this kneading period, work in as little flour as possibly. Make into loaves and put into bread pans, and the loaves should fill the pans but halfway. Let rise to double in bulk, then bake in a hot oven- and oven hot enough to brown a teaspoonful of flour in five minutes. Bake 45-60 minutes. Let bread cool, then store in a loarge stone crock or a tine bread box."

Yeast Cakes

Take some of the homemade yeast, mix in enough cornmeal to amke thick dough which can be rolled out.Roll out the dough, cut into small squares, and spread in a clean, airy place to dry out. Store in a dry place. "

The terminology in these recipes is interesting- not exact measurements either :) I love reading about 'old timey' things. The Little House books are some of my favorites because I'm so in awe at how they lived totally self-sufficient. Oh, Pa wants to move west again, ok we'll just make new furniture when we get there. There's no kerosene in town, but Ma can make a 'lamp' out of a button and some fat. Part of me wants to return to such a simple way of life, and the other part is very glad to live in the time I do now with air conditioning, indoor toilets etc.

July 13, 2007

My Wild Hair

Today, as me, Leiah and Alexa were sitting at the table, stringing some pony beads on some string, Alexa says " Mom, you need a haircuit." I laughed and said why? " Because it's wild." she said

I laughed and laughed! I told her yes my hair is wild, but it's curly and that's just how it is. I always have the 'messy' look and it works for me. Hers is straight as a stick :) I am always telling her she looks like a 'wild woman' when she wakes up or pulls her ponytails down.

It's so weird to hear these things from my three year old. What kind of stuff will she say when she's 5? I don't know want to know yet...

July 12, 2007


I've been bloggin' it up today! Actually I've had a crazy day, and somehow I've managed to write three blog posts, hmmm.

Anyways, I've been trying to utilize my crockpot more on busy days. I've never been particularly thrilled with my crockpot success in the past and I bought myself a cookbook called The Fix it and Forget it Cookbook. There's hundreds of recipes and some great ideas.

However, me being the non-conformist I am, I chose not to even use the cookbook today- plus it was in the back of my car. I just put the ingredients in as I would if I cooked it on the stove top, remembering that you don't need a lot of liquids. I learned that the hard way. Anyways, I made beef stew with dumplings and it was by far the best thing I've ever made in a crockpot :)

Here's what I put in there:

1 whole chopped onion (in large pieces)
2 large carrots cut in medium slices
2 stalks of sliced celery
1.6lbs of beef stew meat (that's what it said on the package, 1.6lbs)
1 bay leaf
a drizzle of worcestorshire sauce
1 can beef broth (I know, not homemade...)
a few tablespoons red cooking wine

First I put the veggies in on the bottom. Then I took about 2/3 cup of flour, 1 t salt and a pinch of dried thyme, mixed it together and dredged the stew meat in it. Then I put the meat and bay leaf on top, poured the liquids in and cooked it for 6 hours.

About 30 minutes before you want to eat, make the dumplings. Turn crockpot on high. Mix 1 cup of flour, 1 t salt, 1.5 t baking powder, 1 T butter, (I put some more thyme in, a pinch) and 2/3 cup of milk. Drop 1 tablespoon at a time in the stew and cover. When the dumplings are not mushy and sort of firm or dried out looking, they're done. I served it with a salad of romaine (chopped), some shredded red cabbage, sliced carrots and diced tomatoes. We used ranch dressing, but last night I made a yummy homemade dressing for it.

1 t dijon mustard
1 t honey
3 T red wine vinegar
1 t salt
cracked pepper
abut 6 T olive oil (I never measure, just eyeball it)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl except olive oil and whisk well. While continuing to whisk, slowly drizzle olive oil into bowl. Pour over salad- tangy, but not too much. I ate over half the whole bowl of salad last night. At least it was something healthy to gorge on, ha,ha.

The Ticker is Gone

I decided to take my weight ticker off for now. I'm not losing despite eating pretty well and exercising. Maybe after a few weeks of regular exercise and less sugar I will see a difference. Life is so busy right now, unfortunately weight loss isn't something I can really concentrate on. I will still be exercising and working on my eating habits, just not real aggressively.
I just had to brag on my daughters. Leiah has been to speech therapy twice this week and is doing wonderfully. I am so proud of her. Previously, she would be very upset about going with the therapist- now she just whines a little until she gets through the door. Then, when they would try to get her to say anything, she might try a little and then get frustrated and cry. Well, she has been saying everything the therapist wants her to. Yesterday they broke up the word 'apple' into three parts- 'a...pp...le' and Leiah said all of it. She is getting her to say the 'buh' sound for /b/ and I've been getting her to say /b/ words all the time. This is so exciting- it's a breakthrough for her. I can see now that it won't be long before she can get words and communicate with us.

Now about Alexa- Monday as I was walking through the room I heard her talking to herself 'Jesus loves me.' she said. I stopped and asked her ' Did you say Jesus loves me?' She smiled and said yes. When you think things aren't getting through to them, they really are.

On to Sarah, this child is getting smart. She has been running into the kitchen when she wants something, like a bottle, and will kind of whine till I come in there. Then she'll walk over to the cupboard where I keep her bottles/cups, I'll get one, then she'll run over to the fridge to 'tell' me to get the milk or water or juice or whatever. Then when I get it and pour it into the bottle or cup, she starts laughing. I guess she's saying thank you. She's getting her message across at only 16 months.

Such sweet children- there are days when they aren't too sweet, but then I'm probably not sweet all the time either. I forget they are very little still and have lots to learn.

July 10, 2007

Experimenting with Bread

As you can see from my previous post about how I cook, I try to make the healthiest foods I can. I make most of our food from scratch, but I generally buy bread. For awhile I was in the habit of making our bread, and it was good. I made it the way most people do though with regular yeast, which isn't necessarily good for you. However, we started moving and bread making went out the window, at least regular bread baking did. So, I'm experimenting with different recipes and methods to see what will work for our family. I made Candy's recipe for amazing bread, which was easy and since it takes a long time to rise, kind of takes care of itself, plus it uses sourdough starter, much better since it's a natural form of leavening. However it is a strong taste and texture than the store bought kind.

I had been wanting to try Hillbillyhousewife's method- which uses only a little yeast and it takes 12-18hrs for the dough to rise. I thought if I used buttermilk it would get rid of the phytates in the whole wheat flour, which lock onto the precious nutrients-vitamins and minerals- and make them unavailable to your body for nourishment. So last night I have it a try.

The ingredients:

1 cup warm water
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon yeast
about 2 T honey
1.5 teaspoons of salt
2-3 T softened butter
5-6 cups of whole wheat pastry flour (very finely ground whole wheat)

I did the usual- combine water with yeast and honey and buttermilk, let sit for a few minutes to dissolve yeast. Then I added the salt, butter, and 2 cups of flour. (I used a kitchen aid mixer) Then I switched to the dough hook attachment for the next 3 cups of flour. I took the dough out and kneaded it about 10 minutes, adding about 1/2 c more flour. It did not take the full 6 cups. Then I greased a bowl and rolled the ball of dough around in it, covered with a damp towel and let it rise. I did this around 8pm and at 6:30 am this morning it had doubled in bulk. I didn't think I had enough dough to make two loaves, so I just rolled it out and shaped it into one big loaf. It rose again in the pan for about 45 minutes. When the dough had doubled bulk I baked it at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes. It turned into a gigantic loaf of bread!

After it cooled we sliced and buttered and jammed it- it's pretty good. I think it could use a bit more salt and honey for more flavor, but the texture is nice, soft but not crumbly, the crust is crunchy but not super crusty. My kids and I devoured our slices. It was also great with the egg salad we had for lunch. A good all purpose bread with lots of room for variations.

Thursday night I plan to make the full recipe, which makes four loaves, and bake them off Friday and see how we do with the homemade bread. Wished I would have taken a picture of it before I cut into it...oops.


Now that I have to travel an hour away twice a week to take Leiah to speech therapy, I've been trying really hard to get a routine set. I'm the kind of person that likes to have a loose plan, and often 'wing it'. However, it's very important to me to have all bases covered and not feel like I'm behind all the time. That just makes me feel guilty!

I asked Candy to give me some personal help with getting my act together and she graciously obliged. Here's what had to happen each week:
The daily work: cooking, dishes, laundry, clutter control, tidying bedrooms and bathrooms, some 'school' time with Leiah, exercise, Bible study

Weekly work- all my cleaning chores! Plus, due the price of gas and copays for therapy, finances are a bit crunched, so I need to sew more. Also, planning meals and grocery shopping and running other errands.

I've also set up a list of To Do lists- ha,ha a list of lists! That just sounds nuts :) You do what ya gotta do when life gets real full. This way, I can just glance at my to do list and easily see what needs to be done that day. It's for quick reference :)

To Do List

Monday: wash bedding laundry, clean bathroom mirrors and kitchen counters, speech, exercise 30 minutes, work on home management binder, Bible study

Tuesday: Cleaning Day- early morning exercise, wash towels and washcloths and one other load, dust, wipe down surfaces, screens, mirrors, chairs and highchair, vacuum, sweep and mop hard floors, wipe down tub/showers, clean out fridge, plan meals and make grocery list, school time, Bible study

Wednesday: wash kid's clothes, wipe down toilets, speech therapy, buy groceries if not the night before, exercise 30 minutes, Bible study

Thursday: Kitchen Day- early morning exercise, wash mine and hubby's clothes, clean all kitchen appliances and washer/drier, bake bread and/or other items, make kombucha, soak any grains/legumes for the week, make stock, feed starter, school time, Bible study

Friday: morning exercise, touch up bathrooms and floors, wash highchair cover, afghans etc., work on organizing and/or sewing projects, Bible study

Saturday isn't listed, but it's generally a fun day whether we go anywhere or not, and I'm going to institute it be our date night with a special meal. I don't get a chance to cook gourmet items anymore, so this is fun for me to plan.

Here is what we came up with- she has most of this on her blog- but I set up morning, afternoon and evening routines.

Morning Routine

Wake up- 6:30 on therapy days, 5:30 on 'regular'days for exercise
make bed
get dressed
do hair and makeup
tidy bathroom
take any clothes to laundry room
start first load of laundry

Afternoon Routine

Tidy up living areas/kitchen
unload dishwasher if needed
fold and put away any laundry
do food prep for next day, if needed

Evening Routine

Tidy living and kitchen areas
run dishwasher or unload it depending on the situation
lay out clean dishcloths and towels
get clothes ready for next day
take shower
read Bible and/or other book

I also have a master schedule, well two- one for days at home and one for therapy days- I couldn't get everything in on one. However, there's a lot of info there and I don't know how to get an Excel document on blogger...I'll have to check into that.

On the days I have to do speech therapy, I will use my crockpot. Yesterday I put some chicken thighs with salt, pepper and herb de Provence seasoning (which I love!), sliced onions and garlic, and chunks of carrots and potatoes. It was good! We also had some leftover peas (from frozen, green peas) and some Amazing bread, Candy's recipe.

One thing I have realized, exercise really does give you more energy. I woke up at 5:30 and have been blowing and going almost non stop. I have worked really hard, my appetite has been normal (not under or over hungry) and I've been wanting to drink water. I am tired, but I have an overall sense of well being. I've also been making sure I drink 4 or more ounces of kombucha a day and I'm amazed at the difference! Yea bacteria!

Hopefully I'll have enough energy left to make a trip to the grocery store, in the late afternoon which is really busy, and with all the kids :)

July 7, 2007

Our Leiah Rose

We had a major epiphany this week regarding our oldest daughter, Leiah. When I was carrying her, the doctor noticed at our 22 week ultrasound that she appeared smaller than normal, so we did another one around 28 weeks or so. The next day I got a frantic phone call from my husband, who had been contacted by our doctor and for some reason couldn't get in touch with me. We had to come in right away!

She explained that little Leiah was not growing according to the normal rate, and we were in a serious situation. I had to quit my job, be on semi bed rest, come see her twice a week for ultrasounds and non-stress tests (which were quite the opposite for me) and if at any time the baby appeared to be in distress, she would have to be taken out and be air lifted to Dallas. ( we live about 80 miles away) As long as she continued growing, we would keep her in the womb for as long as possible.

On January 3 of 2003, we went in for a routine test and scan,and all went well until her heart rate plummeted from 135 to 80. The nurse ran out of the room yelling for the doctor, and she looks at the test and says very calmly,'"Well, we're having a baby today." About an hour later I was lying on the operating table while they were cutting me open like a fish to get Leiah. I went numb, no feelings at all, just steeling myself for a tiny baby and possibly no crying. Out she came, crying and not as tiny as I thought at 4lbs 1oz and 17.5 inches long. She made it to 37 weeks, which is considered full term. YEA! I saw her little face for about 20 seconds before she was taken to the nursery where they monitored her breathing for about 8hrs. I finally got to hold her after that.

Anyways, after 10 days in the hospital, she was eating and breathing well, gaining weight and we went home. From then on she was healthy, gained weight and did great. At about 6 months I noticed she wasn't grabbing at things or trying to sit up or babble. By the time she was 9 months I was really concerned, but her pediatrician didn't seen any reason for alarm because she was so small. Her development was progressing, just very slowly. At 16 months she wasn't walking or crawling so we started physical therapy-- AWFUL! Leiah was very attached to me, and absolutely freaked out when others touched her and when I was out of sight. We stopped that after 6 weeks. She started walking not too long before her second birthday. In the meantime I had learned about ECI- Early Childhood Intervention, and was able to get speech therapy in our home twice a week. Now that she was walking, speech was next.

When she turned three she started going to a specialized preschool in the public school called PPCD. (can't remember what it stands for) This has helped her so much socially. She is not attached to me anymore and interacts very well with people. Still no words. In January, I took her to a doctor that specializes in delayed children. She said Leiah had high functioning autism and mild mental retardation. I believed none of that. In April we had an MRI because her eye doctor thought something looked weird in the optic nerve, were told she had hydrocephalus, which is excess spinal fluid on the brain, went to a neurosurgeon, he told us nothing was wrong with her brain, went to a geneticist and had chromosome testing done.

Monday morning I got the call that something was found and we needed to come to the office. Leiah has something called Trisomy 9. Apparently, in the 9th pair of chromosomes in some of her cells, she has a third chromosome instead of just two. Only 10-15% of her cells in her body have this, which is why she seems mostly normal, just a bit slower. Children whose cells all have the third chromosome cannot live, and many children who have this trisomy 9 die in utero or are very disabled. The hardest part about this news is wondering if me or my husband carry this in our genes and if future children could get this as well. We could get tested if we wanted, we may someday.

We are currently checking into specific nutrition for her cells to see if they can be repaired. Apparently children have a hard time getting their brains to connect with their voice boxes to get the words out. This explains why I know she understands me and is very smart, but can't seem to get anything to come out of her mouth. She does sign language which I taught her as a baby, but is very limited in that as well as words.

I will be honest and say I didn't take this news well. I was surprised that anything was found, and after 4.5 years of wondering what was going on, we finally had an answer. We've been through a lot with her, not to mention we have two other little ones. I can see God's providence in this though, when Leiah was 3 months old, I found out were having another baby. Alexa was born a week before Leiah's first birthday. Alexa progressed normally, and because she was sitting and crawling and babbling, Leiah copied her. Alexa would take things away from Leiah and bite and fight with her, and at first Leiah would just cry and take it, then all of a sudden it occurred to her that she could fight back. Having Alexa was the best thing for Leiah, though it made things very difficult for me :)

It is strange to finally have a name for whatever has caused her delay in development. But now we know, and can move on. She was created for greatness and something special I believe, and many others have said so. Thank the Lord for such a precious, happy little girl. I love you Leiah.

This was in July 2006- Leiah was 3, Alexa 2, and Sarah was 4 months- the whole crew!

July 5, 2007

The cucumbers

Well, I tested the fermented cukes yesterday. They tasted great! Like nice dill pickles, not too salty or dilly or whatever. However, the texture was mushy, yack! Next time I think I will leave the skin on and cut them in bigger chunks. Now I have to figure out what to do with these ones :(

July 3, 2007

About cleaning and such

My cleaning plan looks great and organized on paper. I appear to be very 'together' and organized on my Day in the Life of Me post as well. Well, I guess in my brain I'm fairly organized, and I do have certain places in my house that are clutter free and organized.

But, remember I do have three daughters age 4,3, and 1...and they LOVE to destroy! If I give them a paper napkin, instead of actually using it to wipe their mouths they shred it, automatically without thinking. If they get crayons to color with, they peel the paper off and shred that then start throwing the crayons. They just naturally have a destructive force within! Blows my mind.

They are learning, I am teaching them at every opportunity and, was pleasantly surprised when Alexa, my three year old, took it upon herself to fold all the baby washcloths and bibs that I just throw in the drawer. It does rub off!

About cleaning the bedrooms- generally each morning after breakfast and getting dressed I have the girls tidy up toys and clothes, and help with making their beds. Then on the days I vacuum, I do the whole house, and the days I dust we do the same, so all the bedrooms get cleaned. Sometimes I do set aside some time to just work on the bedrooms- maybe I need to get rid of some worn out clothes, or wipe the windows, or reorganize the closet etc. Just as needed and as I can get to it. I still have a lot of organizing to do since we moved here in late March and just about everything under the sun has happened to us since then and there has been no time to do these things!

My advice Heather, would be to really work on getting your kids to do as much as possible. I'm sure that they can learn to neatly fix their beds and pick up clothes and toys, and as long as you show your appreciation and approval of a job well done (whether it's up to your standards or not) will make them want to keep doing it and with a good attitude. And sometimes, when things aren't going well, I just make a point to keep the main areas tidied and not worry about the bedrooms. When I was preggo, basically all I did was laundry, dishes, make beds, cook, and sweep/vacuum as needed. I think I cleaned bathrooms maybe a few times in 5 months :) Probably not the best thing, but with two other children under the age of two, that's all I could manage :)

Anyways, at present this is what my house looks like. We have had such a busy weekend and my husband got some surprise days off, so everything gets of whack then. I've been staying up too late and been all tired and sluggish. So, I'm letting everyone see what I usually try to hide- that I am human and not superwoman :)

July 1, 2007

My Kitchen is Alive!

Health has become a sort of hobby to me. I love to research something to death and apply it to my life :) Back in the first year I was married I learned that there is a direct connection between what you eat and the state of your health. Since then I've continued my 'education' on the subject and learned quite a lot.

About a year ago I read, or started reading a book called Nourishing Traditions. It is huge with tons of information in it and I still haven't read everything yet. Basically, it teaches that the foods and preparation of foods that traditional peoples used was the healthiest. For instance, many cultures eat large quantities of fat, either in the form of actual meat and the fat on it, or in fresh milk/milk produts, eggs, nuts etc. Yet, they have little to no heart disease, obesity or health problems in general, including perfect teeth. Another practice was to soak or pre-digest grains and flours, legumes and nuts before cooking and eating them. This was to break down a substance that inhibited the nutrients in the food from being readily absorbed in the body.

Now, at first it is very intimidating. Fermentation is just not a popular thing with most people, nor is taking time to prepare foods slowly. However, I have made gradual changes over the last year, and I'm sharing them with you all.

Let's start with breakfast. We generally eat all natural good quality eggs in any form several days a week, at least 4 times. We enjoy cooking them in virgin coconut oil, which oddly tastes great on the eggs. Who'd have thunk it?

On other days we eat our beloved Scottish oatmeal. My kids really like it, so I make 1.5cups dry oatmeal, which probably comes out to 3-4cups cooked. Oats contain phytates, which is a substance that inhibits the nutrients from being broken down and absorbed in the body. So, at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours before you eat it, you soak the oats in filtered water and an acidic medium. The preferred is whey, which is from milk or yogurt, or good quality buttermilk, kefir (a fermented milk) or if there are severe milk allergies, vinegar. I keep buttermilk on hand all the time, so that is my usual choice. When cooked, the oatmeal has a slight tang, like good buttermilk biscuits. We top ours with cinnamon, raw honey or brown sugar and some milk. I also make pancakes, muffins etc. and remember to soak the flour about half the time :)

While we are on the topic of soaking, I have finally found THE way to cook beans. I was terrible at cooking dried beans because the after effects were not pleasant. So I didn't cook them very much. After I read Nourishing Traditions, I decided to try it the way it said to in the book. You take your beans, however much you want to cook, wash them, and then soak them in warm water and a couple of tablespoons of vinegar or 1/4 cup of whey.( I used Bragg's Apple Cider vinegar because it's 'living') Let them soak at least 12 hours, drain water, put beans in pot with lots of fresh water, and slowly let it come up to a simmer. Let them simmer on low for a few hours, until tender, then season as desired. Works great, no after effects :) This method works for all types of beans except lentils, which only need about 7hrs to soak. This same process is also used for whole grains, such as brown rice, barley, bulgur wheat, millet, and quinoa. (prounounced keen-wah)

Dairy products- I actually found a source of raw milk close by. Why raw milk? Well, during the pasteurization process, many of the enzymes necessary for digesting the milk are destroyed, and ultimately the nutritional value is lowered significantly. People drank milk straight from the source for how many years? Obviously the world didn't die out so it must have been a good thing. We buy two gallons of raw goat milk every two weeks. It is expensive, but I supplement it with organic milk from the store to help stretch it. The goat milk is specifically for drinking. We eat storebought yogurt as of now (I'm in love with the Brown Cow brand full fat plain yogurt with honey on top). I tried to make yogurt from the goat milk, but it flopped majorly.

Speaking of fermentation, I have been brewing an interesting drink called kombucha. It is a drink made from regular ole tea and white sugar. BUT, you place a 'mushroom' or scoby it is called, which is a large pancake looking mass of bacteria basically. They are the good guys though. They convert the sugar and caffeine into an excellent form of probiotics and natural detoxifiers. It's taken awhile, but I finally got the recipe adjusted to something we really like. What is neat about this thing is that each time you make a batch, the 'mother' mushroom creates a new 'baby' one, so then you have two. Now you can make two separate batches and end up with 4 scobies and so on...
Nourishing Traditions also explains that traditional breads were not made from commercial yeast, and that yeast is a relatively 'new invention'. People made sourdough bread with starter. The one in the book is a rye starter. Very simple- you take a cup of rye flour, a cup of water and mix together, then leave in a warm place with a breathable covering (towel, cheesecloth) over it. You actually 'catch' a wild yeast, and then each day for 7 days you add more flour and water. Then you have enough starter to make some bread. Candy graciously brought me some of her starter and saved me the time of creating another one since mine didn't make the move. Can't wait to try her Amazing bread recipe. ** I have pictures of the starter and me adding to it, but I can't get them to load. I will try again later.

Apparently, people also used to ferment or pickle just about everything before refrigeration. The good lactobacilli would inhibit the growth of bad bacteria and render a very digestible chocked full of the good guys (probiotics- good bacteria) quality food. Here is a step by step process for making the 'real' lacto-fermented pickles. I was originally going to do this with some fresh cucumbers from someone's garden, but I just didn't have time before they needed to be used up. So, I just used regular cucumbers from the store and peeled them.

Here is the general set up and recipe from the book.

I peeled and sliced the cucumbers about 1/4 inch thick. In they go into a quart sized jar- actually this jar might be a bit bigger, not sure. I pour in the whey that I drained from a container of yogurt. *Note to self, do not try to use fat free yogurt to get whey, because you don't get much! That's what I get for being cheap.

Then I add the whole mustard seeds, the wonderful smelling fresh dill weed, and a tablespoon of salt. I use Real Salt, which is salt extracted from the ocean sea bed and contains all the minerals and the reason why it looks like beach sand. Then I added two cups of filtered water, stirred it a bit, and closed the lid. It is important for the lid to be tight fitting for this one. Then I sit it in a corner of the kitchen for two days to ferment. They are then transferred to cold storage, or the refrigerator. The texture will not be crisp and crunchy like pickles made with vinegar, and the last time I made them I didn't have the dill or mustard seed, I think I used garlic instead. I will be reporting on how this batch turns out in a few days.

One other basic skill of cooking the Nourishing Traditions way is making homemade meat stocks. I was doing this regularly for awhile, but somehow got out of the habit of it. Stocks made from the bones of chickens, cows and fish provide a very nourishing powerhouse of nutrition. This is not a hard process. For awhile I was using my stockpots and simmering my stocks in it. Then I learned that I could use my large crockpot to cook a stock. You take either a whole chicken, cut up or left whole, or leftover chicken bones, put in crockpot with half to a whole onion, a carrot, a stick of celery, some whole peppercorns (if desired), a bay leaf and a little salt, cover with water, and add approximately 1/4c vinegar to the mix. Let sit for an hour or overnight. The vinegar draws out all the nutrients from the bones and veggies. Then turn the crockpot on low and let cook for 10 hours. Afterwards, strain stock and cool, then either refrigerate, use it right away or freeze. Boy does it make such a difference in homemade soup or anything that calls for broth.

Now, while I do try to make the healthiest food possible for my family, I have to be practical. I don't have access or money to buy all organic foods. We do have three tomato plants that are producing tomatoes, and access to produce stands, but as far as meat goes, we stick to ground turkey and other turkey products, chicken and a little beef. Pork doesn't agree with us too well. We eat lots of veggies, either in salads, fresh or frozen. But, my kids eat goldfish crackers, juice from frozen concentrate, occasional cereal and the homemade treats I make. All in moderation here. I could do a lot better with our diet as far as cutting the sugar more, but isn't that part of being a kid? The sheer excitement and enjoyment of eating a cookie or a popsicle? Hey, at least it is homemade :)
Here is the set up- bowl with strainer, cheesecloth, then yogurt. You can see the whey in the above picture where I am pouring it into the cucumbers.

If you are wondering how you get whey from yogurt, here is how. I have a sieve that I lined with cheesecloth or a paper towel will work and set it over a bowl. I pour the plain yogurt into the sieve and let sit for several hours or overnight. The whey drips down into the bowl and the yogurt becomes firmer and 'yogurt cheese'. So now you have whey and cheese, or curds and whey Little Miss Muffet, ha,ha!