January 31, 2011


You're going to LOVE what's coming tomorrow!  Oooh I am so excited!  Is it Feb. 1st, yet?  


January 29, 2011

What a Deal!

Amazon has a great sale going on the Cuisenart Ice Cream Maker.  I know it's not even spring yet, but you can't pass up on this price! The regular price is $90!  It's on sale for $37.10 (and that includes free shipping!).  Great deal I thought I'd pass along to ya'll!

Off Galavantin'

I'm over HERE at Raising Homemakers today sharing recipes and some tips for saving a little time in the kitchen.  Hope you all have a blessed day and a wonderful weekend!  Now...go take a peek at RH and go whip up something yummy in the kitchen. *smile*

January 28, 2011

Crazy Brave

Today's the last day of "Spirit Week" at hubby's school.  You can take a peak at his other dress up days HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Today  is "Crazy Braves Day".  So...here's my crazy brave.

I was going to paint one half of his beard yellow (the side with blue face paint) and the other half of his beard blue (the side with yellow face paint), but the paint wouldn't stick.  The other day when I painted his beard white I used Crayola tempera paint.  I ran out of yellow and blue Crayola a while ago so I bought Elmer's brand.  I'm not too crazy about Elmer's brand.  Besides it staining the kids' hands it's not thick enough to paint his beard with.  Next time I find Crayola tempera paint on sale I'm stocking up!  Can't beat Crayola!

I hope you all have enjoyed this week's pictures of my hubby.  He's such a good sport!  Thanks so much for all your comments and suggestions!  It's been a fun week!  Next week, Tuesday, begins a month of fun for the blogaversary so stay tuned!!

January 27, 2011

Queen of the Castle: Week 3

We're back near the beginning of the book.  We started on week 17 of Queen of the Castle: 52 weeks of encouragement for the uninspired, domestically challenged or just plain tired homemaker  HERE (in April).  This week's chapter is "Achoo!  I Feel Fine:  Fostering Our Health".

Author, Lynn Walker, starts out reminding us that often times our children are well taken care of while our own health and well-being is put on the back burner. Some suggestions are getting a check up (*raising hand* "I did that!!!"), mammogram, dental check up, get enough calcium (1000-12000 mg per day), exercise (*plugging ears* "La la la la!"), eat better, and get between 6-9 hours of sleep a night (maybe a nap mid-day?).  I know. I'm a real killjoy here, aren't I?  I need to hear this and you need to hear this.  If we have any hope of being kind, loving, stress-free mothers we need to take care of our bodies and our minds. 

I urge you to seek the Lord first in your day.   Even if it's just a few verses and a small amount of prayer time; you need to start somewhere.  Of course your main goal would be to read a chapter or two and some deep prayer time...I'm talking praying for all those people you say you'll pray for; neighbors, relatives, church prayer chain requests.  It makes a huge difference in your day to start out on the right foot. 

- - -

"For Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother's womb.   I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;  Wonderful are Thy works, and my soul knows it very well."  Psalm 139:13-14

Elfen Magic

Today at hubby's school is "Holidays" Day.  You can see what else he was Tuesday and Wednesday HERE and HERE.) They can be whatever from whichever holiday they choose. I got some pretty good suggestions on the blog and Facebook, but my resources were low for what I'd need.  After chatting with a friend we came up with this ensemble.   Thanks, Amy, for the use of the hat!  Oh, and thanks to my Hannah, too, for the use of her candy striped leggings.  Those two parts make the outfit!  And yes, he's wearing some blush on his cheeks and nose.  I think he's a cute little elf.  Er, I mean cute ginormous elf!  Just call him "Leon".  (Get it? Noel spelled backward.)  

I thought I was off the hook tomorrow since it's Blue and Yellow Day.  He'll wear his school t-shirt, but he now wants me to paint one side of his face blue and the other yellow.  I have another idea.  You'll have to wait and see.  *wink*

January 26, 2011

Weight Loss Wednesday

Well.  How did your week of portion control go?  I did great with portion control during meals.  It was those blasted Valentine chocolates that followed us home from the grocery store.  Curse you Dove melt-away centers!  Curse you and your creaminess!  From here on out I pledge to only bring candy into the home that the kids love and I dislike.  No more chocolate...for a while.  *sigh*

My test...yes that test came back fine!  Phew!  Now I'm waiting on my blood work results.  Hoping and praying here!   The scale?  We're still not friends, but I'm o.k. with that.  I'm sure it'll warm up to me after a while.  *wink*

This week let's keep focusing on portion control and add 8 whopping glasses of water!  No, other beverages don't count.  Not soda, tea, coffee, chai (a-hem).  Water!  Of course you can drink those other beverages but did you know that you need to drink one glass of water for every glass of tea, coffee, soda, etc. that you drink.  So let's do the math.  If you drink say a chai and a glass of tea, then you need to drink your 8 glasses of water plus 2 more glasses to match those other beverages.  Good news?  Milk and juices count towards that 8 glasses of water!  Yahoo!

So this week...portion control, portion control, portion control and drink, drink, drink!  Go forth and conquer the scale my friends!  Go forth!


Yesterday hubby was a little old man for dress up day at school.  Today is "Animal" day.  I had several great suggestions from ya'll, but we were lacking in the materials to make a lot of them.  I'm definitely going to keep my eye out for a brown XLT hoodie!  He'd make a cute lion, bear, dog, or any other fuzzy critter that's brown. 

One of our kiddos suggested something and I got to thinking and looking around the house to see what I had.  So here he is without further adieu...

The One Eyed One Horned Flying Purple People Eater!

(We're skipping the "people eater" part.  That's a little disturbing.  LOL!)

Tomorrow is "Holiday" theme.  If he had a green shirt I'd dress him up like a Christmas tree.  Again...I need your help, ladies!  What ya got?

January 25, 2011

This Old Man

This week is "Spirit Week" were my hubby teaches.  It's Homecoming week and each day is a dress up day.  Yesterday was "Pajama Day" so he had the horrible trouble of teaching in his p.j.'s.  He wore lounge pants, t-shirt, robe, and slippers.  Rough life, I know.  Ha! 

Today is "Time Warp Day".   He could dress up as somebody from the past or future, a character, Bible figure, etc.  His options were limited and using what we had around the house he went as a retiring school teacher.  Guess what I had the fun of doing this morning?  Hair and makeup!  First I used white acrylic paint and a q-tip to apply the white paint on his eyebrows, beard and mustache, and strategically around where his hat would be.  Then I used some eyeliner (brown was all I had, gray would have been better) to make fake wrinkles.  It was all actually kind of fun for 6:30 in the morning!


Isn't he a cute 'lil 'ol man?

Tomorrow is "Animal Day".  I need to come up with something and I'm hoping you all have some great ideas!  Please!!  E-mail me, post a comment here or on Facebook.  Anything!  I need ideas! 

January 24, 2011

Ultimate Cheddar Bay Biscuits

I found this recipe over at Suzanne's blog Chickens in the Road.  Yes, these are like the biscuits from that seafood restaurant that starts with Red and ends in Lobster...but better.  *wink*  I made them to accompany our Sunday afternoon chili.  And what a lovely companion it was!  These biscuits are sooo good!  It definitely passed the taste test of the whole family!  I even drizzled some of the butter topping over my mom's gluten free bread and popped that in the oven. She loved it!  I made a few tweaks to the recipe so it's a bit different than what you'll find at Suzanne's site.  Feel free to do some tweaking of your own.  That's the fun part of cooking! *wink*

Ultimate Cheddar Bay Biscuits

2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 T. baking powder
2 t. sugar
1/2 t. cream of tartar
1/4 t. salt
1/4 heaping t. ground cayenne pepper
1 t. garlic powder
1/2 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. grated mild cheddar cheese
3/4 c. grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/4 cups milk

6 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/4 t. garlic powder
1 teaspoon parsley
dash of salt

Mix first 7 ingredients in a large bowl.  Cut in butter with a pastry cutter. Stir in cheese then add sour cream and milk. Scoop large spoonfuls of biscuit dough in a greased 9 x 13 casserole pan.  (Not a cookie sheet...you need an edge to catch the butter!) 

For the topping: Melt butter. Stir in garlic powder, parsley, and a dash of salt. Spoon half of the topping over unbaked biscuits.  Bake at 450 degrees for 20-ish minutes.  (Mine made 15 biscuits, but you can get more if you make smaller scoops.)  After removing biscuits from the oven, spoon the rest of the topping over them.  These are sooo good!  (Did I say that already? *wink*) Enjoy! 

January 22, 2011

You Don't Know Beans!

Well I didn't anyway.  The first time I had the inkling to make chili using the less expensive dried bean option it was a total flop.  We were crunching our way through the chili.  Then bloated and ... well I'll let you imagine the rest.  It wasn't good.  At. All.  So I experimented until my beans weren't crunchy and we weren't ill.  Did you know that you can get ill from undercooked kidney beans? Read more about it HERE.

Here's what I do.  I get out the crock pot that I'll be using for my chili.  Remember that I really don't like to dirty more than one dish or pan if I have to.  That's how I roll.  Put your bag 'o beans in the crock pot and cover it with at least 8 cups of water.  I eye ball it and add enough water so that it's 3/4 of the way up the side of the crock pot to allow room for the beans to expand.  Let it sit all day.  At night before I go to bed I drain the water and then add more.  This time I add enough water to get closer to the top of the crock since the beans won't expand as much but need the water to keep from getting dry.  Cook on Low until morning.  In the morning, carefully drain the water and add whatever ingredients for your dish.  Set it to cook and when it's done put it on a "keep warm" setting if you need to.  If you like you can start the soaking process at night, cook them during the day and then make your meal on the stove top.  It's up to you.  But I've found the soaking and the cooking before putting them in the dish are beneficial and appreciated by the family.  *wink*

Here's my chili recipe (tweaked a bit from last time) to warm you up on a very cold day!  It's freezing here!  Hope ya'll are staying warm!


1 28 oz. can tomato sauce (or use tomato puree from your garden tomatoes)
1 46 oz. can tomato juice
2 lbs. ground chuck, browned and drained
1 lb. dry kidney beans (see Notes at the bottom)
2 T. onion powder (or 2 med. onions chopped)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder (or 4 cloves garlic, crushed)
4-6 T. chili powder
2 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cayenne pepper (Hubby likes a little kick and it clears the 'ol sinuses!)

Combine all ingredients in a large crock pot.  (I use a 6.5 quart.)  Cover; cook on low 8-10 hours  or on high 4-5 hours.
Notes: This serves our gang for dinner and enough for lunch the next day with some grilled cheese.  I like to make Jiffy corn bread mix to serve with it, too.  Also, try serving it with sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, and dip Fritos scoops in it.  We love it that way!!

January 21, 2011

Old House Kitchen Breakfast Cups

Disclaimer-- I'm still tweaking this recipe, but I thought I'd share it with you and see if you had any tweaks you'd make yourselves.  Kind of like learning together. How's that sound?  

32 oz. shredded hashbrowns (I used the frozen kind, but thawed them first -- in the fridge)
1 lb. cooked and crumbled bacon (For a tutorial on how to bake them go HERE.)
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese (set 1/2 c. aside)
6 eggs (beaten)
1/2 c. sour cream
1/2 c. milk
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. pepper
48 Biscuits (My recipe is HERE.)

Make roll out biscuits or use the bang-on-the-counter kind.  Cut them out about the size of a pint canning jar opening (really scientific, I know).  Then press them into the bottom of lightly sprayed muffin tins so that the dough goes up the sides.  Fold together hashbrowns, bacon, 1 1/2 c. cheese, eggs, sour cream, milk, garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper together.  Scoop into muffin tins until it's all evenly doled out. Top with 1/2 cup cheese and bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 30 minutes.  Serve with pancakes and syrup or all by themselves for busy mornings.


January 20, 2011

Queen of the Castle: Week 2

We're back near the beginning of the book.  We started on week 17 of Queen of the Castle: 52 weeks of encouragement for the uninspired, domestically challenged or just plain tired homemaker  HERE (in April).  This week's chapter is "Giving Homemaking Our Best".

Lynn begins by lamenting that being a homemaker in our culture is not a valued position. Those who trivialize it have obviously never done it.  (Can I get an "Amen"!?)  "Those of us who run a home every day have a thorough appreciation for the enormity of the task, even when our children no longer ride around in grocery carts.  Counters do not wipe themselves, socks do not wash themselves (or turn themselves right side out), mail does not answer itself.  Those of us who run a home know there is always more to be done."  This homemaking business is a 24 hour a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks out of the year job.  It's a job.  It's an important one!

Sometimes those who are closest to us are the ones who haven't a clue what our job entails.  I can picture Lynn saying this with a twinkle in her eye:  "If that special someone in your life hasn't yet had the opportunity of running your home for a time -- even if it's just a day or two -- consider going on a weekend women's retreat or maybe a short visit to a relative.  Give him the gift of discovering just what a homemaker's job entails.  Attitudes around your home may never be the same."  I am very thankful that I have a husband who is very capable of running our household when I'm gone.  He may not be able to make more than stir-fry or grilled cheese, but he's very capable of managing our home in my absence.  He knows what needs to get done and sees to it that the children are doing their jobs, that they are clean, healthy and fed (he knows the number to the local pizza delivery, too!).  At the end of the day he enjoys getting down on the floor to read books, play checkers and have a good old fashioned tickle fight.  He's also a very willing grocery shopper.  He enjoys the coupons and sales; the thrill of the hunt.  (Insert my best Tim the Toolman Taylor manly grunt here.)  I am blessed!  I hope you are, too.  However, if you aren't feeling very appreciated around your home consider praying and then talking to your husband in a loving manner. 

Lynn warns us, though, not to fall victim to the mentality that since we don't get paid in money (hugs and kisses don't count to society) that we look to other public commitments to get our accolades.  Lynn warns "...if organizing the bake sale or directing the Christmas play come at the expense of dirty laundry that's beginning to emit interesting smells from our back room, it may be time to back off from some of our more public activities.  Our families pay a price when we are overcommitted."  Don't give all the good parts of you away so you have nothing left to give to those at home, ladies. 

Dr. Mary Ann Froehlich ("What's a Smart Woman Like You Doing in a Place Like This? Homemaking on Purpose") says "Consider the following 'log in the eye' situations.  Sally teaches gourmet cooking classes two evenings a week while her family is home eating TV dinners.  ...  Kathy diligently prepares and teaches two Bible studies a week.  She does not have devotions with her own children."  Seek the Lord first, then care for our families, then serve our communities.

Lynn encourages us to look at this wonderful opportunity of home making as a ministry.  Let's not compare our homes and meals to others.  "We are each unique, "immaculately unique" as one author puts it.  God has given us "varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.  And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord" (I Corinthians 12:4-5).  We have different gifts and different ministries.  Why do we think our homes should look the same?"

- - -

"Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired.  His understanding is inscrutable.  He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power.  Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary."  

Isaiah 40:28-31 

January 19, 2011

Weight Loss Wednesday

I visited the doctor Monday.  It had been about three years since that kind of visit.  You know, the one that involves instruments and paper clothing?  I wasn't slacking or anything.  Uh uh.  Nope.  Not me. *sigh* I had put it off long enough.  I want to start the year off healthy so I decided to bite the bullet and go.

It wasn't good.  I really don't think they put a mirror behind the door so I could check my teeth for broccoli before the doctor came in.  Nope.  It was there to torment me; and any woman who dared disrobe in that room for that matter.  I'm  pretty sure they put one of those carnival mirrors in there.  You know, the kind that makes you look all round and blobby?  Why couldn't they have put in one that makes you look tall and slim?  Maybe then women would want to go!  Anywho...after I scared myself in the mirror I had the ordeal of donning a lovely outfit. Can I just say that blue plastic/paper jackets and white paper sheets to cover the nether regions is not the way I like to greet someone I haven't seen in a while.  (By the way, in my defense even Elle Macpherson could not work that ensemble!) Oh and dark brown knee socks.  I kept those on.  It was my only form of dignity. Well that and I don't have very pretty feet so I thought I'd spare him that one atrocity.  After I strategically sat down I realized that keeping the brown socks on where not a good idea.  I felt like an old man wearing black socks with white tennis shoes.

So in came doc and I beat him to the punch.  I told him a.) I know it's been over three years and I pinky promise to never, ever skip a year (or two, or three- a-hem) ever, ever again.  O.k. well I didn't pinky promise.  And b.) I know I need to lose weight.  He giggled and said I took all the fun out of this visit.  Ha!  I really do like our doctor.  He has a great sense of humor.  And he can appreciate the fact that a busy momma of seven children would have a hard time making it in to the doctor by herself and that she might have a small weight issue.  He has seven children, too.  I like his style.  He rocks.  A-hem.

Back to the visit.  Aside from waiting for the results from the test and getting my blood drawn to see if there are any other issues like thyroid, cholesterol, sugar, etc. and waiting for those results I'm good to go.  I know...I'm in denial.  I know I'm not good to go.  He told me so.  I need to eat healthy, exercise, and therefore lose weight.  That would solve a lot of my issues.  One of those issues is the fact that I have a ton of clothes collecting dust in my closet that need to be used and abused before they go out of style and then come back in style again.   Remember the large belts and ballet flats in the late 80's?  Hello?!

So today begins a new weekly seriesWeight Loss Wednesday.  I will share with you how I'm doing.  I may eventually post my weight.  When I'm delirious.  But for now I'll share a healthy living tip each Wednesday.  I will, however, let you in on my goal.  I would like to lose 20 pounds.  If it takes me the year then so be it.  The sooner the better, though.  How am I going to do it?  Well I lost a lot of weight years ago after baby number four.  Now, mind you, I was nursing so it was a lot easier.  Maybe it was harder because I wanted to eat everything in sight?  I can't remember much.  I've slept since then.  *wink*  But if I did it before I can do it again. 

My advice for you this week?  Two words:  Portion Control.  I don't plan to starve myself.  I love food too much!  Have you seen some of the recipes I share on this blog?  Food was meant to be enjoyed!  The Bible is full of all sorts of "feasts".  It's evident that God gave us food to enjoy.  Something that I plan to do is eat one small portion of each dish in a meal and that's it.  Maybe make it a little smaller.  Eating on a luncheon plate helps a lot.  (You know it's the size between a dinner plate and a dessert plate.)  If you don't have the room there's nowhere to put all the food.  Make sense?

What about you?  Will you begin your quest today of eating healthy so you can live a healthy life?  Try that one thing this week; portion control.  Remember it's good to have a goal! 

January 17, 2011

Healthy Breakfasts

On the FB page we had a string of comments going about breakfasts.  What to fix and what to do so you aren't spending an hour in the kitchen just on breakfast alone.

Planning ahead helps a lot!  We have cold cereal maybe two days a week.  I save those days for when I don't feel well or we're in a hurry to get to piano, etc.  Delegating is very helpful if you have a child old enough to help out in the kitchen.  I have one daughter who loves to make muffins so she does that about every other week and those go great with yogurt.  Recipe for Bananaberry Muffins is HERE.

We have pancakes and scrambled eggs at least two days a week  I mix my pancake dry mix and keep it in a jar so all I have to do is scoop out the dry mix and add the milk, eggs, and melted butter.  The recipe is HERE. Scrambled eggs are inexpensive for us because we have about 10-ish laying chickens.  (We have several that aren't earning their keep. So they'll be butchered soon.)  My oldest son (13) loves to make scrambled eggs and my oldest daughter (12) usually runs the pancake griddle so that's a big help for me. I supervise!  *wink*  My scrambled egg recipe is HERE.  If you want something you can make the night before and just pop in the oven in the morning try my baked egg recipe HERE.

We have yogurt about two days a week.  I've started making my own and they love smoothies or yogurt in a bowl with granola.  Recipe for yogurt is HERE, granola recipe is HERE.

If none of the above sounds good I make baked oatmeal.  I keep a few batches of the dry ingredients mixed together in baggies in an old oatmeal container.  The recipe is HERE.  I'm going to get brave enough one day to make it the night before and put it in the crock pot.  I'm hesitant, though, because I know it won't be as crispy on the edges and I have a few kiddos who love the crispy edges.  Some day I'll be brave.  Ha!

So there you have it...my breakfast ideas.   They're not 100% healthy since some contain sugar and what-not, but so much better than processed and pre-packaged foods.  Feel free to comment with links to recipes and other ideas.  I love getting new ideas and enjoy "meeting" ya'll!

January 13, 2011

Super Simple Granola

A dear friend gave me a link to The Happy Housewife the other day for a granola recipe.  I've been reading THH for a long time and I can't believe I missed this recipe!

It's super simple.  I am thinking about tweaking it a bit.  For a yogurt topping, though, it works great!  The eldest boy even liked it as cereal!  


  • 3 cups dry oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
First melt the butter in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the honey and salt and briefly heat with the butter. Turn off the heat and add the oatmeal and wheat germ. Stir. Pour the mixture onto a cookie sheet. Spread the mixture out evenly and bake it at 375° for 10 minutes. It will be a golden brown color. Remove from the oven and let cool. Store in an airtight container.

Yogurt Revisited

I was at it again the other evening...attempting to make the perfect homemade yogurt.  I posted the original yogurt recipe I tried HERE.  I tweaked it a bit with some suggestions from Suzanne's blog Chickens in the Road (one of my new favorite blogs!).  I'll post my original recipe, but with the tweaks highlighted (so you'll know what I changed).

Home Made Yogurt (revised)

What you need to gather before you begin:
4-quart crock pot
8 cups (half-gallon) of whole milk -- I used 2% from the store
1/2 cup dry powdered milk  
1 cup store-bought natural, live/active culture plain yogurt (I used 1/2 cup before) (This is your "starter". You can buy yogurt starter in a powder, but yogurt works just fine.  Once you have made your own, you can use that as a starter.)
Frozen or fresh fruit for flavoring
Thick bath towel

The Directions (so super easy!):

This takes about 13-14 hours. Make your yogurt on a day when you are home to monitor.

Plug in your crockpot and turn to low. Add an entire half gallon of milk and gently mix in 1/2 cup dry powdered milk. Cover and cook on low for 2 1/2 hours.

Unplug your crockpot. Leave the cover on, and let it sit for 3 hours.

When 3 hours have passed, scoop out 2 cups of the warmish milk and put it in a bowl. Whisk in 1 cup of store-bought live/active culture yogurt. Then pour the bowl contents back into the crockpot. Stir to combine.

Put the lid back on your crockpot. Keep it unplugged, and wrap a heavy bath towel all the way around the crock for insulation. I used two heavy towels...better safe than sorry, right?  : )

Go to bed, or let it sit for 8 hours.

In the morning, the yogurt will have thickened---it's not as thick as store-bought yogurt, but has the consistency of low-fat plain yogurt.

Blend in batches with your favorite fruit. We did blueberry and strawberry. You can also add honey (remember not to give honey to babies under one year old).  When you blend in the fruit, bubbles will form and might bother you. They aren't a big deal, and will settle eventually.  My kiddos love smoothies...yogurt, ice, some orange juice and fruit in the blender (I add a smidge of sugar or honey, too).  I'm also experimenting with granola recipes to see how that pairs with the yogurt. 

Chill in plastic containers in the refrigerator. Your fresh yogurt will last 7-10 days. Save 1/2 cup as a starter to make a new batch (do this before you add any fruit or sweeteners).


Well just a few changes like the powdered milk and a bit more yogurt as a starter worked great.  It's still a bit thinner than store bought, but my kiddos didn't mind at all.

This morning I thawed a bag of sliced strawberries (from last summer) that I had frozen with sugar.  I strained it and added the strawberries to some of the yogurt.  There are no specifics because I just eyeballed it.  *wink*  Some of the kiddos didn't like the chunks in it.  They eat store bought yogurt that has chunks?  What's up with that?  Being ever so thankful that I saved the syrupy juice, I added that to another portion of yogurt.  The naysayers gobbled it right up.  

I also made up some granola and they loved it!  (I'll post the recipe soon.)  We have one child who detests yogurt, sour cream, cream cheese...you know anything yummy like that!  Argh!  So he ate granola in a bowl with some raisins and milk.  So glad he liked it or he was going to be feasting on toast with jam.  *smile*

I had a few suggestions offered in the comments from the last yogurt post. Someone suggested gelatin...that might work if you're willing.  I'm not a huge fan of regular 'ol gelatin and the name brand types (beginning with "J" and ending in "ello") lately.  After reading what's in gelatin I'm not so sure about them.  I know you can get some plant based gelatins so I may be looking into that for some of the recipes that I hold dear to my heart.  

Someone else suggested adding sugar (or sweetener of your choice) in the mix at the beginning.  You can also add vanilla extract if you like; 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons (for the recipe above).  I used strawberries that had sugar in them and I had to add a bit more sugar after I'd taste-tested it.  I'd recommend adding the sugar in the beginning when you make the mix; about 1/2 cup.  When you add it right before eating it doesn't dissolve well enough and makes it a bit gritty...it needs time to dissolve.

Kelly over at Loving Life's Little Moments has an idea HERE for straining yogurt.

Suzanne over at Chickens in the Road has a great idea HERE for making yogurt cheese (it's at the bottom of her post).  That's sounds sooo intriguing!  I may have to give it a try!  She also has some homemade cheese making recipes, too.

Enjoy!  Give it a try...let me know how you like it! 


Queen of the Castle: In Absentia

Sorry folks,  my copy of QOTC is MIA.  The copy that I have on hold from the library is there.  On a shelf. Waiting for me. But...our car is broken and hubby should have the part for it on Friday.  Hubby has to use the van for driving back and forth for school which leaves us stuck here on the 'ol homestead with nowhere to roam.  I'm not complaining.  I love staying at home.  I love staying in my comfy clothes and being able to complete tasks at my leisure and not scurrying around getting little (and big...they're growing up...a lot!) people bundled up and out the door.  So.  I'm here, and the book's there.  Hubby can't pick it up for me on his way home since the library has strict rules.  You know, those crazy men who just happen to have the same last name, same address, and yet can't check out books on their wife's account are so scary. Such a threat to society.  *wink*  I'm not bitter, really, I do understand the "rules".  I just don't like them.  That rule, anyway.

So...since I don't have anything from Queen of the Castle this week (I'll double up next week. Promise!) I didn't want you to go away empty handed.  So I'll leave you with a re-post of a favorite recipe.  Sound like a plan?

Want something yummy and creamy and just heavenly on a winter's night.  Chicken Pot Pie is the answer!

Chicken Pot Pie
This recipe is for 3 pot pies -- if you don't need to eat three, then eat one, bless a friend with one, and stick the other one in the fridge for another day that week.  *wink*

Double Crust Pie Crust Recipe x3
2 lb. bag of frozen mixed veggies (I get the kind with carrots, peas, and green beans)
2 T. onion powder (or 2 medium onions chopped)
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup flour (I use unbleached all-purpose)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sage
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. pepper
4 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups milk
3 pounds cubed cooked chicken (or turkey for turkey pot pie)
1/4 cup dried parsley (or 1/2 cup fresh)

Make the pie crust and stick it in the fridge for a while to stiffen up. Cook the mixed veggies according to the package; drain. In a very large saucepan melt butter and stir in onion powder (or cook onions until tender). Stir in flour, salt, sage, thyme, parsley (unless fresh then add it when the chicken is added) and pepper. Add chicken broth and milk all at once. Cook and stir till thickened and bubbly. Stir in drained veggies and chicken. Heat while mixing until it's bubbly. Turn it down to warm then roll out your pie crusts, pour in the fillings, then top with crust. Flute edges of pastry, cut slits in the top for steam to escape. Cover the edges with foil and bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes, remove the foil and bake until golden brown on top (about 20 minutes more).

*Sometimes I'm feeling really industrious so I dice up some potatoes, cook them most of the way then add that to the pot pie filling. Make sure to reduce the veggies to 1 lb. or you'll have extra filling left.

*Also, you can pour the filling into a 9x13 baking dish. Roll out the pie crust (use 1 double crust recipe) and place over the top. Flute the edges, cut slits in the top. Bake 450 degrees for 15 minutes or so.


January 8, 2011

Butterscotch Bars

This is a gem from Gooseberry Patch's Fall Family and Friends book.

18-1/4 oz. spice or carrot cake mix
2 T. brown sugar, packed
1/2 c. oil
2 eggs
2 T. water
1/2 c. chopped walnuts or pecans (we don't "do" nuts so I left those out)
1 c. butterscotch chips

Stir together cake mix and brown sugar.  Add oil, eggs and water; mix well.  Stir in nuts and butterscotch chips.  Spread in a 9x13 baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray.  Bake at 350 degrees until done but not dry, about 22 minutes.  Let cool; cut into bars.  Makes 20 bars.


January 7, 2011

Home Made Yogurt!

I love yogurt, my kids love yogurt (well all but one and hubby's not too fond of it, either).  But I hate buying yogurt.  It can be expensive to buy for our gang if I don't catch it with a sale and a coupon.  I had heard about making yogurt at home but I was very apprehensive.  I decided to look up a crock pot recipe for it.  Here's the recipe that I used from crockpot365.blogspot.com.

Home Made Yogurt

What you need to gather before you begin:
4-quart crock pot
8 cups (half-gallon) of whole milk -- I used 2% from the store
1/2 cup store-bought natural, live/active culture plain yogurt (you need to have a starter. Once you have made your own, you can use that as a starter)
Frozen or fresh fruit for flavoring
Thick bath towel

The Directions (so super easy!):

This takes about 13-14 hours. Make your yogurt on a day when you are home to monitor.

Plug in your crockpot and turn to low. Add an entire half gallon of milk. Cover and cook on low for 2 1/2 hours.

Unplug your crockpot. Leave the cover on, and let it sit for 3 hours.

When 3 hours have passed, scoop out 2 cups of the warmish milk and put it in a bowl. Whisk in 1/2 cup of store-bought live/active culture yogurt. Then pour the bowl contents back into the crockpot. Stir to combine.

Put the lid back on your crockpot. Keep it unplugged, and wrap a heavy bath towel all the way around the crock for insulation. I used two heavy towels...better safe than sorry, right?  : )

Go to bed, or let it sit for 8 hours.

In the morning, the yogurt will have thickened---it's not as thick as store-bought yogurt, but has the consistency of low-fat plain yogurt.

Blend in batches with your favorite fruit. We did blueberry and strawberry. You can also add honey (remember not to give honey to babies under one year old).  When you blend in the fruit, bubbles will form and might bother you. They aren't a big deal, and will settle eventually.  My kiddos love smoothies...yogurt, ice, some orange juice and fruit in the blender (I add a smidge of sugar or honey, too).  I'm also experimenting with granola recipes to see how that pairs with the yogurt. 

Chill in plastic containers in the refrigerator. Your fresh yogurt will last 7-10 days. Save 1/2 cup as a starter to make a new batch (do this before you add any fruit or sweeteners).

Results:  It was a bit runnier than store bought.  I think it might have to do with using 2% milk.   I am going to try a different recipe next time and post that one, too.


January 3, 2011

A Clean Slate

wisteria.com (Love this site!)
Literally!  These past few weeks have been full of joy, fun and merriment that goes along with the holidays!  These past few weeks have also been painful!  In the wallet and with our patience.  The week and a half before Christmas our septic tank needed to be pumped.  The Sunday before Christmas our furnace went kaput.  We lived with the warmth from our propane fireplace and heaters for 4 days.  The Thursday before Christmas we had a shiny new furnace installed; along with a shiny new bill to pay in the coming year.  Then a few days before the end of the year our computer was hit with a virus.   A bad one.  So bad that my techie hubby was not able to combat it.  So bad that he had to save what he could on disks (on New Year's Eve while we watched The Sound of Music--love that movie!) and then make it a clean computer on New Year's Day...when he was going to be finishing up scoring school papers and final touches on Sunday School lessons.  So we have a computer that is much better now ... even better than this time last year!  But...we have lost so much.  He was able to save pictures that I had yet to upload to Kodak.  I am so happy about that!  He was able to save all of his church and school documents that were very important.  What he couldn't save and I didn't realize it until this afternoon is we have lost last year and this years' school records.  I have a paper copy from this year, but I will have to go through every. single. workbook for last year and re-record it.  (I think I'll wait until a lazy summer day to tackle that one!)  Lost are all of my lists and charts for school, chores, recipes (not sure about my BigOven recipes...hubby's checking on that), Christmas card lists, Christmas letters from past years, all of my blog folder belongings, personal items, past e-mails (including addresses), etc.  I am sorry to babble on so, but I'm really bummed by this loss.  So...

On we start the year new...with a clean slate!  I am trying to look at it on the upside that when suggested in Motivated Mom's planner to clean out old e-mails and files I don't have to worry about it for quite a while.  I'm all set!  *wink*

How are ya'all doing on your goals for the year?  I'm plugging away at mine.  I thought I'd take a moment to share my plans for the blog this year.  In keeping with my goal to spend more time with family (as well as my other goals), my posting here may be a bit less often compared to last year.  If there are a few days that are post-less, don't be alarmed.  I'll still be here and on Facebook, too.  I'll still share yummy recipes, I plan to continue the Queen of the Castle series, share a few shameless pictures of my kiddos, share a craft every now and then, but in less volume.  My children were so happy that I spent a lot less time on the computer during Christmas break.  They weren't looking forward to school starting back up for the semester.  Not just because of less play time, but because "Mom'll be on the computer more"...ouch!  So...since my babes are a priority (after the Lord and my hubby) I need to make sure they feel that they are a priority. 

I look forward to the coming year and finishing the important tasks set before me.  What important tasks/goals are you looking forward to this year?  Please share!  Let's encourage one another!

- - -

Philippians 3:14  "I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

January 1, 2011

Simplify Your Life Series

Follow along as we go through Country Living's Simple Country Wisdom: 501 Old Fashioned Ideas To Simplify Your Life.  (To order click on the book cover above.) 











Frequently Asked Questions

I love to get emails...it's like Christmas!  Well, not really, but you know what I mean.  I thought I'd take a moment to answer some of the questions that I get in emails so ya'll can save your typing fingers. If your question isn't answered here send me an email and I'll add it on.

*My Story  Hubby and I were high school sweethearts.  He graduated in 1991 and I in 1992.  We married the summer of 1994, right before his Senior year of college at University of Michigan and my Junior year at Eastern Michigan University.  We were young and I'm sure people wondered if we'd make it, but we didn't worry about what they thought.   We grew so close those first few years.  Our grades were better and we saved a lot more money living in our apartment and eating meals at home than living in the dorms and eating cafeteria food!  He graduated with a degree in History and worked full time at a power equipment dealership (lawn mowers and chain saws) while I finished my Elementary Ed. degree classes.  We moved to Maryland in 1996 for him to attend a Seminary...to study to be a pastor.  The second week or so that we were there I was very sick.   We were puzzled, but not for long.  We were expecting our first baby!   I was student teaching through the University of Maryland and then graduated from EMU in December.  Noah was born April of '97 (I was 22).  Rebekah came along in December of '98.  We moved back to northern Indiana to be closer to family in Michigan the summer of '99.  (He transferred to another Seminary.)  Hannah came along August '00, Isaac in April '02, Lydia in March '04, Elijah in February '06, Abigail in May '08 (just a few weeks after we moved into this house!) and Samuel Thomas early November (11-1-11 to be exact!).

*Old House Yes the house is ours.  It's really old, too.  Hence the name. *wink*  We have about 3 acres with a garden, goats, chickens, a cherry tree, and blueberry bushes. It's a pre-Civil War Greek Revival farmhouse.  We don't know the exact year it was built because the county courthouse (along with all records) burned in the early 1900's, but with the help of a few historians and some of our own homework we've determined the approximate age.  We can't believe it's over 150 years old!  We hope to leave this homestead to our children some day!

*My Cooking Debut  I remember making Doritoes with American cheese slices melted in the oven when I was little.  I thought I was big stuff! Ha!  I cooked a few meals when I was a teen.  Nothing fancy, though, unless you count fish sticks and Kraft mac-n-cheese fancy.  Our first week of marriage was interesting since Hubby decided he'd cook.  I tired of stir-fry and decided to put on my big girl apron and get to it.  I called his mom and grandmothers a lot! 

*One Check or Two?  Living on one income isn't easy...especially when you have a large family!  Let's start with spending less.  To be totally honest it's hard most of the time.  But we've made the decision that our family is more important than lots of the material things that the average American family expects.  So we drive older cars (and have no car payments), we don't have cable TV, I cut all the boys' hair, etc..  In general terms we strive to owe no one anything as much as possible.

Specifically, I make a lot of use of coupons.  I plan our menu for the week based on what's on sale and what we have coupons for - preferably both at the same time!  We buy clothes the same way: Goodwill, or Kohl's when they have sales and I have a percent off coupon.  I love visiting Bargains to Bounty and Money Saving Mom for deal ideas and coupon links!

On the other side of the equation, my husband strives to make money whenever and however he can.  He works full time as a teacher, part time as a pastor (teaching, writing curriculum, etc.), and any other spare time (usually in the summer) doing carpentry work.  He often says he'll do just about anything (legal!) if the pay is reasonable.

For us, it's far more about saving money/spending less than it is making more - we're not exactly bringing in a huge income.  But we make it work.  My husband says the biggest single thing is not owing lots of people for lots of things: it's amazing what not having a car payment (for example) can do to your monthly budget.  That means, of course, that our cars need worked on a little more often than new ones.  That brings us to another point:  do for yourself.

It's amazing what you can learn on the internet.  We try not to call in the professionals for repairs.  Sure, there will always be some things you can't figure out, but you can save yourself a lot of money with a determination to call in the experts only when you really need them.  My husband does almost all the work on our cars, plumbing, electrical, framing, landscaping, etc... The girls and I sew a lot, repairing clothes others might throw out.  By cooking from scratch, we not only eat better and healthier, but it's also a lot cheaper than buying a whole refrigerator full of frozen/preserved foods.

I also strive to earn a bit of income from this blog.  People clicking on links and making purchases at my Amazon ShopMotivated Moms (a cleaning/organization schedule for your home), and Tell Your Time (a life organization system) all help out a little bit at a time.  I have hand made items for sale in my Old House Mercantile Etsy Shop.

Above all these ideas is our commitment to keep God and family first (in that order), with the "stuff" of life much further down the list.  I'm not sure that I can scientifically explain it, but somehow God honors that decision.  He's never let us down.  We strive to make wise decisions and trust the details to Him.  

*How do you do it? I've been asked by several how I find time to blog and craft while taking care of our home, family, meals, homeschooling, etc.  I'll be the first to admit it's not easy.  As a matter of fact, some days it's downright hard.  Sometimes I don't get things done that I would like, but being flexible is key.  I also have a lot of help with my organizational systems.  You can read more about them HERE

 *Where Do I Start? If you're new to cooking I would recommend starting with a list of easy meals to make.  Under the header of this blog there are tabs labeled "Dinner", "Beverage", etc.  Click on "Dinner" and peruse the recipes.  Pick out 5 dinners and then make a grocery list from the recipes.  Next click on the "Sides" tab. Pick out a few side dishes that you think would work well for your family. "Breads" will round out your meal as will some yummy "Desserts"!  Check out the "Tips" tab for kitchen helps and do-it-yourself ideas. Don't forget to whip up some Spiced Chai to sip while perusing the site! 


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