June 30, 2010

Loads of fun!

Get it? *wink, wink* Laundry is loads of fun?! O.K., so maybe not.

I know this isn't an edible recipe but it's a recipe for homemade laundry soap. I used to make my own using a different recipe but wasn't very happy with the consistency. It was a little on the gloppy side. When perusing the Duggar's book I found a recipe there. I'm going to give it a try and thought I'd post the recipe here for you.

Homemade Laundry Soap
1 Fels Naptha soap bar, grated
1 cup washing soda
1/2 cup borax

Grate the soap bar into a small saucepan. Cover with hot water. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring continually, until the soap completely dissolves.

Put washing soda and borax in a 5-gallon bucket. Pour in the hot, melted soap mixture. Stir well, until all the powder is dissolved. Fill the bucket to the top with more hot tap water. Stir, cover securely, and let sit overnight. The next morning, stir the mixture. Mix equal amounts of soap concentrate and water in a small laundry-detergent dispenser or container. Shake before using.

For top-loading machines: Use 1 cup of the soap mixture per load.
For front-loading machines: Use 1/3 cup per load.

June 29, 2010

Kitchen Tip Tuesday: More Tips From Gooseberry Patch

Here are a few handy dandy tips from the Gooseberry Patch Slow Cookers, Skillets, and Casseroles Cookbook.

Are you preparing a recipe that calls for thin strips of chicken or beef? Pop it in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes, until slightly frozen...it will slice in a jiffy.

A handy chart in case you don't have the exact size pan or dish called for...
13" x 9" baking pan = 3 quart casserole dish

9" x 9" baking pan = 2 quart casserole dish
8" x 8" baking pan = 1-1/2 quart casserole dish

June 28, 2010

Menu Plan Monday -- Week of June 28

Monday (June 28)
Breakfast: Bagel and egg sandwiches and OJ
Lunch: Deli meat sandwiches, carrots, apples, pretzels
Dinner: Grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, baked beans, chips, carrots

Tuesday (June 2)
Breakfast: Pop tarts -- I know...these aren't the best thing in the world but it's a special treat for this morning
Lunch: Left over hamburgers and hot dogs, baked beans, chips, carrots
Dinner: Spam and macaroni and cheese, chips, carrots, fruit (Yes, I know...Spam is not super healthy, either...again, another "treat" for dinner -- for Hubby anyway)

(June 30)
Breakfast: granola bars, OJ
Lunch: Deli meat sandwiches
Dinner: Sloppy Joes, chips, carrots, fruit

Thursday (July 1)
Breakfast: Muffins
Lunch: left overs
Dinner: Lemony Pork Picatta, Smashed Potatoes, veggies, rolls

Friday (July 2)
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: left overs
Dinner: Stuffed Crust Pizza, chips, carrots, apples

Saturday (July 3)
Breakfast: Muffins
Lunch: left over pizza
Dinner: Creamy Chicken -n- Noodle Casserole with veggies mixed in, rolls

Sunday (July 4) Happy 4th Ya'll!!
Breakfast: Sour Cream Blueberry Bread
Lunch: Grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, chips/pretzels, carrots, apples
Dinner: lunch left overs

June 27, 2010

Stormy Skies

This was the view from our pool deck as a storm came through last week. We have been blessed to not have had such severe storms as our neighbors.

June 26, 2010

Duggar Recipes: Lemonappleade

Back to some yummy recipes in the Duggar book. Here is a yummy beverage that I can't wait to make!


2 small lemons, unpeeled and quartered
10-12 golden delicious apples, cored and cut into large pieces

Put the lemons through the juicer first, then the apples (juicing the lemons first helps keep the beverage from turning brown so fast). The yellower the apples, the prettier the lemonade. Pour over ice and enjoy! Serves 6.

I have to add that I've stumbled across several more yummy looking recipes on their website that I just might have to share with you soon!

June 25, 2010

Creamy Peach Pie

This pie won second place in a pie baking contest a few years ago. Our family loves it and requests it often in the warm summer months. (And sometimes in the cool winter months as well!)

Creamy Peach Pie

1 can (29 oz.) yellow cling peaches in heavy syrup
3 T. reserved peach syrup (from the can)
3 T. cornstarch
1 cup sugar, divided
3 eggs
1/3 cup buttermilk (see my substitution here)
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla

2 T. butter, melted

Prepare crust (recipe here) and press into a 10 inch pie plate. Do not bake. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

For filling, drain peaches, reserving 3 T. syrup. Set aside. Cut peaches into small pieces. Place in a large bowl. Combine corn starch and 2-3 T. sugar. Add 3 T. reserved peach syrup. Add remaining sugar, eggs, and buttermilk. Mix well. Stir in 1/2 cup melted butter & vanilla. Pour over peaches. Stir until peaches are coated. Pour filling into unbaked pie crust. Moisten pastry edge with water.

Cover pie with top crust. Cut slits or use small cookie cutters to cut designs in top crust to allow steam to escape.

For glaze, brush with 2 T. melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes or until filling in center is bubbly and crust is golden brown. Cool to room temperature before serving. Refrigerate leftover pie.


*pic. from artistdaily.com

June 24, 2010

Queen of the Castle: Week 25

For those of you playing along...(if you've just joined us you can get caught up a bit here) we are on week 25 of the book Queen of the Castle: 52 weeks of encouragement for the uninspired, domestically challenged or just plain tired homemaker.

Chapter 25 is titled "Let the Games Begin: Summer Fun". The author, Lynne, reminds us that while fun and exciting (and usually expensive) summer outings and trips are fun and will make for wonderful memories for our children, those day to day fun and exciting small moments are etched just as deeply into their memories.

Lynne suggests reading as an enjoyable summer activity. Our family does something we call "Circle Time" during the school year -- a concept you can read more about here. While our school year Circle Time is a bit more full, my summer goal for Circle Time is to pray, read the Bible together (we're working through the New Testament in a year), sing a few songs and read a book together. We're reading through Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm currently. In the evening my husband will occasionally read aloud through a series of other fun books. For a great list of books to nourish your children check out Honey for a Child's Heart by Gladys Hunt.

Another project idea that Lynne shares is to get caught up on all those photo albums. I'm sure I can hear an "Amen" to that idea! I know I'm not the only one who's up to her elbows in pictures neatly organized but just waiting for someone to put them in albums. Right? *wink*

Here are a few other ideas that Lynne shares for summertime fun:

* Take pictures of everyday life's moments (yes, I said take more pictures...LOL!)

* Make blue Jell-O and float gummy fish in it!

* Check out astronomy books, lie outside under the star and look for constellations and meteor shows July 28 is the next one!

* Check out
Family Fun magazine for all sorts of fun crafts and recipes that are kid-friendly!

"Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person." Colossians 4:6

June 23, 2010

Out Galavantin'

Yoo-hoo! I'm over here today.
Go check it out!

Don't worry...I'll be back tomorrow with the usual chit-chat and recipes!

June 22, 2010

Kitchen Tip Tuesday: Christmas Planning

Yes, I said Christmas! We're almost half-way there to that holly-jolly season, you know! Only 101 days until Christmas music starts ringing through our home! I know, October 1st may seem a bit early to you but I absolutely adore Christmas and like to stretch it out! Just so you know I decorate for Fall Labor Day weekend and then decorate for Christmas the weekend before Thanksgiving. Also in the month of October when Christmas music is wafting about it's all instrumental (piano, guitar, hammered dulcimer, violin...). We don't start listening to music with voices until November. Just sayin'.

Anywho... Since Christmastime's a comin' I want ya'll to be ready for it! Start thinking now about who you'll need gifts for: friends, neighbors, Sunday School teachers, postal workers, hair stylists, co-workers, family, etc. I have a great idea for you. Try making home made goodies to give! I don't recommend baking anything just yet (can you say freezer burn?!) but jams and jellies are a hit! You can give a single jar all prettied up with fabric and ribbon or in a gift bag with biscuit mix and a mixing spoon. By making the jelly or jam now when produce is fresh and even inexpensive if you own them yourself (we have a cherry tree and grapevines) or pick them yourself.

Making jam or jelly can be really easy. I'm not a huge fan of freezer jam...it's too sweet. Yes, I know canned jams and jellies are quite sweet themselves, but they have a different flavor. I buy Kroger brand pectin and follow the recipe on the box. Did you know you don't have to process the canned jams and jellies in the canner pot if you follow all the steps and make sure your jam/jelly is hot enough and your jars and lids/bands are sterile and hot enough until canning. Just follow the directions on the box! I've done it that way for the past two years and I must say I enjoy canning more this way!
So...my tip is to get a step ahead in the gift process...give someone a lovely homemade gift of jam or jelly!

*pic. from www.dianephalen.com

June 21, 2010

Menu Plan Monday -- Week of June 21

Monday (June 21)
Breakfast: English muffins and scrambled eggs
Lunch: Grilled cheese sandwiches, carrots, apples, pretzels
Dinner: Easy Cheesy Bean Dip and chips (also some plain 'ol tacos to go with it)

Tuesday (June 22)
Breakfast: Muffins (our 9 year old is making muffins for 4-H...you'll be seeing a lot of muffins on the menu plan!)
Lunch: Left over tacos and dip, Muffins (just kidding!)
Dinner: Roasted Chicken, Baked Potatoes, veggies, rolls

(June 23)
Breakfast: cereal
Lunch: Sloppy joes, chips, carrots, apples
Dinner: French toast, scrambled eggs, bacon

Thursday (June 24)
Breakfast: Muffins
Lunch: left overs
Dinner: Smoked Kielbasa and Rice (this is a new recipe...if we like it I'll post it next week)

Friday (June 25)
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: left overs
Dinner: Stuffed Crust Pizza, chips, carrots

Saturday (June 26)
Breakfast: ?? Something yummy and home made!
Lunch: PB & J (our peanut allergy sufferers use Sun Butter instead), pretzels, fruit
Dinner: Chicken parmesan (No recipe really...just bake some premade chicken strips, throw on some spaghetti sauce, top with mozzarella and bake a bit. Serve with spaghetti noodles, a salad and garlic bread.)

Sunday (June 27)
Breakfast: Sour Cream Blueberry Bread
Lunch: Sandwiches (we have a busy day planned)
Dinner: Grilled hot dogs, chips/pretzels, carrots, apples

June 20, 2010

Camping Montage

Our family went camping for a few days last week.

We had a wonderful view of the lake from our campsite!

See that little girlie in that green and purple chair? She claimed it was "her" chair. She moved it all over the campsite. Wherever she wanted to make herself comfy, her chair came, too!

Seven happy campers! (Pun totally intended!)


A very Happy Father's Day to my hubby...
who makes our fun times possible!

June 19, 2010

You're laughing with me, right?

Since we are a large homeschool family and we drive a large (verrrrry large) van, aaanndd I've been posting Duggar recipes lately I thought this would be appropriate!


June 18, 2010

Duggar Recipes: Layered Ice Cream Cake

In continuing with recipes from the Duggar book here's a yummy treat!

Layered Ice Cream Cake

24 ice cream sandwiches
8 ounces Cool Whip
2 king-size Butterfinger candy bars, chopped up
1 squeeze-bottle Hershey's chocolate syrup
1 squeeze-bottle Smucker's caramel topping

Arrange in six layers in a 9x13 pan:

First layer: 12 ice cream sandwiches, placed over bottom of pan
Second layer: half the container of Cool Whip
Third layer: half of the chopped-up Butterfinger bars topped with half of the chocolate syrup and half of the caramel topping
Fourth layer: the rest of the Cool Whip
Sixth layer: the rest of the chopped-up Butterfinger bars, topped with the rest of the caramel topping and the chocolate syrup.

Freeze and eat as desired.


June 17, 2010

Go Visit Aunt Ruthie!

Aunt Ruthie at Sugar Pie Farmhouse is having a lovely little giveaway in celebration of her new e-book Watermelon & Fireflies! Go here for more info!

Happy Summer Y'all!!

June 16, 2010

Duggar Recipes: Taco Soup

In continuing with recipes from the Duggar book here's a great one for taco soup! Easy, too!!

The Duggars' Taco Soup

3 pounds ground turkey
3 4-oz. cans green chilies, chopped
3 1.25-oz. packages taco seasoning
3 packages dry ranch dressing mix
3 15.5-oz. cans hominy, undrained
9 14.5-oz. cans diced tomatoes, undrained
3 15-oz. cans kidney beans, undrained
6 15-oz. cans pinto beans, undrained
Grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips for serving

Brown the ground turkey, seasoned as you like (salt, pepper, onion). Stir in the chilies, seasoning mix, ranch dressing mix, hominy, tomatoes, beans, and 5 cups water. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 30 minutes.

To serve, put crushed tortilla chips in bottom of bowl. Add soup, then top with grated cheddar cheese and sour cream. Enjoy!!

(Serves 25-30 people or more!)

Queen of the Castle: Week 24

For those of you playing along...(if you've just joined us you can get caught up a bit here) we are on week 24 of the book Queen of the Castle: 52 weeks of encouragement for the uninspired, domestically challenged or just plain tired homemaker.

Chapter 24 is titled "Father's Day". Lynne, the author, gives some great tips for wives to help promote a great bond between father and children. "First we need to spend lots of time together as a family, including some of it without mom there. Second, we wives need to honor our husbands at the head of the home (see Eph. 5:22-24 and 5:33). When the kids see us respect our husbands and look to them as leaders, they'll do the same." Very good advice! There is nothing better than a daddy's love and respect from his children. Let's remember this coming day to honor our husbands and teach our children to do the same!

The author gives a few tips for making your husband feel special: *Unroll the toilet paper a ways and write a message (encouraging, romantic, etc.), then roll it back up and wait for the discovery. Be careful to use a nonsmear pen (suggests her son!). *Pray for him, especially if he has a rough day ahead. *Run him a warm bath. Have the kiddos add bubbles and bring him a cold drink, a snack, a favorite book or magazine. (After 15 minutes, put a towel in the dryer so he can fluff in luxury.)

"Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips, nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children." Titus 2:3-5

June 15, 2010

Kitchen Tip Tuesday: Egg Noodles

Did you know that Gooseberry Patch cookbooks have lots of neat tips and decorating ideas at the bottom of the pages? I think that's what I love the most about GBP cookbooks! This tip is from the Gooseberry Patch Slow Cookers, Skillets, and Casseroles Cookbook and is akin to the potato tip I gave you last week.

The easiest-ever way to cook egg noodles...bring a big pot of water to a rolling boil, then add the noodles. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 20 minutes, stirring twice. Perfect!!

June 14, 2010

Menu Plan Monday -- Week of June 14

Monday (June 14)
Breakfast: Sour Cream Blueberry Bread
Lunch: grilled cheese, carrots, apples
Dinner: Grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, baked beans, chips, carrots

Tuesday (June 15)
Breakfast: french toast
Lunch: left over hamburgers, hot dogs, etc.
Dinner: Sandwiches?, chips, carrots

(June 16)
Breakfast: cereal
Lunch: deli meat sandwiches, carrots, apples, pretzels or chips
Dinner: Sloppy Joes, chips, carrots

Thursday (June 17)
Breakfast: eggs and toast or bagels
Lunch: left over sloppy joes, carrots, chips(or popcorn), apple slices
Dinner: Chicken Burritoes, Mexican rice, refried beans, sour cream

Friday (June 18)
Breakfast: muffins
Lunch: Grilled cheese or left overs?
Dinner: Ceaser Chicken Pizza

Saturday (June 19)
Breakfast: french toast
Lunch: left over pizza and/or sandwiches
Dinner: Parmesan Crusted Chicken, Smashed Potatoes, corn on the cob, raw veggies rolls

Sunday (June 20)
Breakfast: muffins
Lunch: Grilled burgers, hot dogs, Steak Fries, baked beans, chips, carrots
Dinner: Clean out the fridge night!

June 13, 2010

My Daddy

If my dad would have been with us still he would have turned 70 on Tuesday.

Happy Birthday Daddy!

This is him when he was somewhere between 14-16 years old.
Wasn't he handsome?

My Daddy was always a big fan of my cooking. I absolutely loved it when my parents came for a visit. My Dad oohed and aahed over everything I made. I tried to make the meals special and a treat for them...mostly him because he made me feel like I was Julia Child, Emeril Lagasse and Martha Stewart all rolled into one! This is one of Daddy's favorite breakfast dish recipes. I've shared it before but I'll post it here again in honor of him.

Cherry Cheese Braid

4 packages crescent rolls (8 ct.)
8 oz. package cream cheese softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 can (21 oz.) cherry pie filling
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 T. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Lay out the crescent roll dough on two baking sheets, side by side and seal the seams together. (Lay them out so they fit on the baking sheet.) Cut 9 (3-inch) deep slits into each long side of the
Mix together cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla extract. Spread half of the cream cheese mixture lengthwise down the center of each dough rectangle. Spread half of the pie filling over each cream cheese section. Fold strips of dough over cream cheese filling, alternating sides and making a braid. Pinch ends to seal and tuck under.
Bake 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.
Combine powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract; drizzle over warm loaves. Enjoy!

Notes: You can make this with any kind of pie filling. You can also make your own pie filling.

June 12, 2010

I just had to...

We plan on doing some fishing this summer. We just love this video and we love Tim Hawkins. Here's one of our favorite Tim Hawkins spoofs.

June 11, 2010

Duggar Recipes: Chocolate Sheet Cake & Icing

Our family loves Netflix.com. We quit renting videos months ago after forgetting to renew or return videos to the library. We've saved money by getting an account with Netflix. (FYI: You pay Netflix a once a month fee depending on if you want to have one, two, or three videos out at a time. You can keep them as long as you want and then when you return one they'll send you another one. You have what's called a "queue"; a list of videos you've chosen in sort of a shopping cart. They not only have new releases but old movies (we have "Singing in the Rain" here to watch at some point) and educational ones, too. My point with this whole explanation is that we've recently watched the Duggar family on dvd, courtesy of Netflix. The kiddos and I loved watching how their big family worked. It also made our large family look miniscule in comparison! I checked their book out from the library to read up on this curious family. I gleaned lots of tips and encouragement as a parent in the fields of discipline, organization, and cooking from The Duggars: 20 and Counting!: Raising One of America's Largest Families--How they Do It. Over the course of the coming weeks I'll share with you some recipes that sound yummy and easy to make. I'm sure they will become favorites at our house.

Grandma Mary Duggar's Buttermilk Chocolate Sheet Cake

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 sticks (1 cup) margarine (I use butter)
1 cup water
3 T. cocoa
1/2 cup buttermilk (go here for my substitution)
1 tsp. baking soda
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour a sheet-cake pan (18x24 or as close to that size as you have).

Put the flour and sugar in a bowl. In a small saucepan, melt the margarine, then add the water and cocoa. Bring to a boil, then pour the mixture over flour and sugar and mix. Add remaining ingredients. Stir until well blended. Spread in the pan and bake for 20-25 minutes. When done, toothpick inserted in center of cake might pick up a crumb or two, but will not come out coated with batter. While the cake is still warm, top it with Grandma Mary Duggar's Chocolate Icing.

Grandma Mary Duggar's Chocolate Icing

1 stick (1/2) cup margarine (again, I use butter)
3 T. cocoa
6 T. milk
1 lb. confectioner's sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

In a saucepan, melt the margarine at medium heat, then add the cocoa and milk. Stir. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly. While the icing is warm, spread it over the warm chocolate sheet cake. Delicious served with vanilla ice cream!

Enjoy! I know I will!

June 10, 2010

Queen of the Castle: Week 23

For those of you playing along...(if you've just joined us you can get caught up a bit here) we are on week 23 of the book Queen of the Castle: 52 weeks of encouragement for the uninspired, domestically challenged or just plain tired homemaker.

Chapter 23 is titled "School's Out!". Lynn (the author) give you some great ideas to celebrate the end of the school year. Special gifts, a special treat out, or any number of things are great ideas to mark the end of the school year. Whether your kiddos attend school outside of the home or inside of the home an end of year treat is fun and memorable. We used to mark the end of the school year by going to Krispy Kreme with our report cards and get free donuts. That was until the Krispy Kreme shop closed down. This year we just picked some up at the store. Still yummy but not as fun. We're trying to find something else to encourage and cheer the kiddos on with.

Lynne talks a lot about kiddos going to school and ideas for summertime fun such as visiting parks, mini field trips, playing games, etc. Funny that for us we do a lot of the fun things she's listed all year round because we home school. Just saying. ; )

If you are hard-pressed to find something fun with your kiddos this summer here are a few ideas of hers and mine:

*Learn a new game
*Teach your kiddos how to cook
*Make a craft together
*Pick flowers and press them
*Make one night a week game, puzzle, or movie night
*Start a prayer journal with the kiddos (Write down requests and note the answers. At the end of summer, you'll have a tangible record of God's faithfulness.)

Let's not forget the following verse as we move busily (or lazily) about our summer business.
"Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward." Psalm 127:3

June 9, 2010

Southern Fried Apples

Here's the dessert that I made for the Gooseberry Patch Cookbook Preview Party that I hosted a few weeks ago.

Imagine it served with ice cream on top! Mmm...mmm...yummy! Here's the recipe:

Southern Fried Apples

1/4 cup shortening (I used butter)
6 tart apples, cored, peeled and sliced
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/8 tsp. salt
Garnish: apple pie spice (I sprinkled some cinnamon and nutmeg on top)

Melt shortening (or butter) in a skillet over medium heat. Add apples evenly in a single layer (mine aren't very singular!). Sprinkle with lemon juice, brown sugar and salt. Cover; cook over low heat for 15 minutes, until apples are tender and juicy. Sprinkle with spice and serve warm (with ice cream!!). Serves about 6. (I doubled this recipe for the ladies at the party.)

June 8, 2010

Kitchen Tip Tuesday: A Clean Nuker

I don't know about you, but I really dislike cleaning out the microwave. Especially after someone has warmed up some chili or spaghetti. It's like Bob the Tomato exploded all over the inside.

So here's what I do. Set a bowl of water (for a little something special add a bit of lemon juice) in the microwave. Turn it on for 3 minutes. After it stops let it sit for a minute or two. Then take out the bowl and wipe down the inside and tray of the microwave with a damp washrag. (I dip it in the water a bit -- be careful, though, it's hot!) You will be amazed at how quick and easy it is to clean even the grungiest of microwaves!

June 6, 2010


I love my peonies! They are such pretty and full flowers. I had several peony bushes near the goat pen (they were there when we moved into this house a few years ago). The goats love the leaves. So they had to be moved. Peonies are supposed to be transplanted in the fall but that didn't happen so I thought I'd take my chances and move them this spring/summer before the goats munched them to bits. They seem to be doing pretty well. There are a few that I divided that look a little iffy but I have been able to cut a lot of peonies! I put them in vases and also give to friends. Since there are so many of you that live far away and I can't personally share my peonies with you, I thought I'd share them with you here. Enjoy!

June 5, 2010

Easy Beef and Noodles

I made beef and noodles a few weeks ago and I thought I'd post the recipe because to my surprise it was super easy and it tasted pretty good. So good that after my crowd left the table there was none left at all. That's a good problem to have!

Easy Beef and Noodles

16 oz. bag egg noodles cooked
1- 27 oz. can beef (Grabill Meats...good stuff!)
3 cans beef gravy (Campbell's is what we used)
1/2 tsp. black pepper
salt to taste

Mix together the ingredients and warm up on the stove until it's "scarfing temperature"...that's what hubby calls it!

*Next time I make it (assuming I have some canned beef on hand) I will get some gravy mix packets. It would be much cheaper. But...that's what we had so that's what I used. Worked for me!

June 4, 2010

Queen of the Castle: Week 22

For those of you playing along...(if you've just joined us you can get caught up a bit here) we are on week 22 of the book Queen of the Castle: 52 weeks of encouragement for the uninspired, domestically challenged or just plain tired homemaker.

Chapter 22 is "Dream On: Planning for Summer". "Whichever philosophy fits your family best this year, now is the time to start making plans, whether you hope to catch the free museum days, make deadline for tennis camp, or drive off to that beautiful campsite in the redwoods secure in the knowledge there will be a genuine campsite waiting for you once you arrive. ... Ask God to show you how much activitiy your family needs, which summer programs to sign up for, or whether He wants you to simply lay low and leave lots of white space on the calendar."

Amen! I am a homebody at heart so I'd much rather stay at home, hang out with the kids, read books with them, chit chat, blog, etc., but I know some of them like to get out and get going so to create a happy medium we spend our summer going to piano lessons, visiting the library for the summer reading programs, working on 4-H projects, gardening, camping, and swimming in our pool or at the beach while camping. That's plenty full enough for me and empty enough for them! : )

Lynn, the author, mentioned a book A Mother's Manual for Summer Survival, written by Kathy Peel and Joy Mahaffey. They suggest holding a family meeting before summer starts and talk about goals for each child. Pray for God's guidance. "He knows your child's strengths and weaknesses; He knows in which areas they need to grow. Ask Him to show you the summer goals He would like you, as their mom, to help them reach."

The biggest time waster of summer (and any time of year) is the TV! The author suggests making a TV-watching plan. I suggest going on a TV fast! "Television is the bane of the modern home, but only because it is so often abused. People who cannot find the time to cook, see their children, entertain, read, visit, listen to music, exercise, talk, clean, or do their laundry nonetheless spend many hours -- around twenty hours on average -- watching television every week." (Cheryl Mendelson, Home Comforts)

Here are a few ideas the author suggests that might fit into your summer schedule:
*A weekly field trip to local sites of interest your family doesn't usually have time for.
*A summer garage sale to unload clutter. (That's on my to-do list!)
*More chores. With lighter schedules, summer may be just the time to teach your son to make bacon and french toast or teach your daughter to sew.

"Television is a wondrous invention, but one has to know when to turn it off!" (Gladys Taber, Stillmeadow Sampler)

June 3, 2010

Pioneer Beef Stew

*Note: This week is all topsy turvy...the three day weekend does that to a person! So...the Queen of the Castle book post will be tomorrow. I know...some of you are just so upset because the sun rises and sets on my blog posts! LOL! ; )

Here's another recipe from the Gooseberry Patch Cookbook Preview Party that I hosted last week. It was supposed to be baked in the oven but I was in a crock pot mood so in the crock pot it went!

Pioneer Beef Stew

14-1/2 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
1 c. water
3 T. quick-cooking tapioca, uncooked
2 tsp. sugar
1-1/2 tsp. salt (I used less than 1 tsp. salt)
1/2 tsp. pepper
1-1/2 lbs. stew beef, cubed (I used a can of our local Grabill Meats canned beef...order here.)
3 to 4 potatoes, peeled and cubed (hmm...seems I forgot to add these?)
4 carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
1 onion, diced (I used 1 tsp. onion powder)

In a large bowl, combine tomatoes with juice, water, tapioca, sugar, salt and pepper. Mix well; stir in remaining ingredients. Pour into a grease 3-quart casserole dish. Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, until beef and vegetables are tender. Serves 4 to 6.

*I cooked it in the crock pot on low for about 7 hours. The last 2 hours I cooked it with the lid slightly off to let some of the liquid evaporate. But...thinking about it now if I would have added the potatoes I probably wouldn't have to had take the lid off for a while. I guess I was just so busy that I left the potatoes out. I'm not a huge stew fan but my mom seemed to love it so I guess it wasn't that bad.

June 2, 2010

Homestead Blessings

Raising Homemakers is having a giveaway of a 10 set of dvd's from Homestead Blessings. Remember I blogged about their gardening dvd the other day?
Go here to enter!

Creamy Chicken Sandwiches

I told ya'll I'd share the recipe from the other night's Gooseberry Patch Cookbook Preview Party so here goes...

Creamy Chicken Sandwiches

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
10-3/4 oz. can cream of chicken soup
14-1/2 oz. can chicken broth
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

Put chicken in the bottom of a slow cooker; add soup and broth. Cover and cook on low setting for 8-9 hours, until chicken is tender and mixture is thickened. If too thick, stir in a few crushed saltine crackers to thicken. Shred chicken with a fork and serve on buns. (The recipe says it makes 6 sandwiches but I could easily get 9 or more.)

I made these homemade buns to go with it.


June 1, 2010

Kitchen Tip Tuesday: Potatoes

O.K....this may not be a revelation to ya'll. (Again, feelin' country.) But...if you are needing mashed (or smashed) potatoes for lunch after church and you don't want to wash, peel, cube, etc. right after church (not to mention waiting for them to cook). Then try this...

The night before...yes, I said the night before! Wash, cube (peel if you like them skinless, but the skin is so much healthier, you know?!), and place the potatoes in the pan you'll cook them in. Cover with cold water and put in the fridge. The next morning. Drain the starchy water and add more water to cover them. Put them on the stove, bring to a boil. As soon as they start to boil, turn them off! Yep. Turn them off. Put a lid on them and leave them on the stove. When you get home from church, 2 or 3 or even 4 hours later they'll still be warm. Turn the stove back on and cook until they are totally done. Then prepare them this way or however you like mashed or smashed potatoes. Easy peasy! ; )

*pic. from cobornsdelivers
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