Wednesday, December 28, 2011


We made some today.  Cranberry limeade too.  It was easy.  It's yummy!  1 qt is already gone.  Limes are on sale again.  Hmmm.  Here's what we did if you're interested:
  • juiced all the limes we had in the juicer-cut into quarters first, but tossed in peel and all
  • made a simple syrup of 1/2 cup evaporated cane juice to 1 cup water-I think I ended up doing this 3 times
  • tossed 1 cup of cranberries into the first batch of syrup-they were frozen and that was a quick way to thaw, as well as cool the syrup
  • ran the cranberry & syrup mixture in blender to chop them up
We ended up with about 3 cups of lime juice.  From that I made 2 qts of limeade by adding about a cup of juice, a cup of syrup and 2 cups of water to quart jars.

In another quart jar I put about 1 1/2 cups of the cranberry mixture and 1 cup of syrup with the rest filled with water.

I still have a full quart of cranberry limeade concentrate to use for more or to flavor club soda.  I love bubbly drinks and have grown used to straight club soda, but I sure enjoy it more with flavor!  Tonight we polished off a qt of the limeade mixing it with club soda.

This would have made a great festive punch for a Christmas party-a bowl of sparkling limeade (or even a pretty glass pitcher) with chopped cranberries floating in it.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Operation Christmas Child 2011-Processing Center Day One

Tony and I just got back to our hotel after working a day at the processing center for Operation Christmas Child.  It was my second time to be here and Tony's first.  I taped boxes until we stopped for lunch around 1PM, and Tony was the heavy lifter.  That's the only job I haven't done and probably won't this year.  After lunch I moved to inspector and worked on the same aisle as Tony, so he helped me when I'd get a little backed up.  I like to work quickly and that's how it was last year, since we (mom and I) were first timers with seasoned veterans.  Today I was the "seasoned" veteran working with first timers.  At one point there were two ladies checking the boxes for monetary donations while I was the sole inspector looking for inappropriate items.  I could keep up until there'd be a box with stuff I had to take out, or a box would be so full I couldn't get things back in, but it was more exciting that way. 

Inappropriate items include anything liquid (bubbles, lotion, liquid body soaps, mouthwash, etc); any food item (except candy-seems the rats won't eat that, so why do we?); chocolate because it can melt; anything breakable (think mirrors, picture frame glass); war related items like army men; pokemon and Harry Potter items; aerosol items; used/damaged goods; medications or vitamins.

At first it feels like you have to remove everything to be able to tell if it's all allowed, but after a while I develop a pretty good ability to spot those things without even really "seeing" all of it.  You might be wondering what happens to those things that can't be sent or maybe even why some aren't allowed.  Anything pulled from a box goes to a local Christian ministry that will use it in their outreach.  So don't feel bad if you filled a box and put something in that I had to take out-it's still going to a good cause.  As for why certain things aren't allowed, either the item has the potential to leak and damage many boxes; attract rodents that will destroy boxes; break and be a hazard; or has the potential to cause harm in the community where the box is given.  I trust that the powers that be at Samaritan's Purse have given this careful thought and much prayer.

If a box doesn't have very much in it, we have trinkets available to add to the box, so all kids get a good variety.

Some ideas of what NOT to do, just to make the processing of hundreds of thousands of boxes easier:
  • No tissue paper in the box, UNLESS it's shorter than the height of the box.  Trying to stuff all that tissue back into the box slows things down.
  • A full box is fabulous-one that requires a master packer to get it all back in is not.
  • Do not wrap the entire box-it has to be inspected, so it's going to be opened.  You can wrap the lid and box separately, making it possible to get into the box without unwrapping it though.
Some cute things I saw that would be fun to do next year:
  • Some of the boxes had been wrapped with flannel material.  It makes a great presentation and I'm sure the child that receives it will be thrilled with the added gift.  However, if you do this, PLEASE don't overfill.  The fabric makes the taping difficult because it doesn't stick very well, and a stuffed box is just that much harder.
  • Color coordinated items in the box, especially for girls.  It's visually appealing and in my opinion, adds to the thrill of the gift.
  • Boys and girls age 5-9 get the most boxes.  Consider packing your box for the 2-4 year olds, or the 10-14 year olds.
  • Get together with a group to craft some of the items.  I saw little bears that had been cut from material and stitched.  Knitted hats.  We made yarn dolls to go in some of our boxes.
  • Pez dispensers.  When I saw these I kicked myself for not buying the box of vintage ones we saw recently at a flea market that would have been inexpensive and a great combo gift.
  • Baseball mitts.  Soccer balls (deflated and with hand pump-I think).
  • We're told that the older boys often have jobs and need tools.  Consider packing duct tape, screw driver, hammer, or other basic supplies along with a few fun things.
Ideas for getting great stuff without spending a fortune:
  • Shop the back to school sales.  Crayons, markers, paper, pencils and sharpeners, etc are all very cheap during those sales. 
  • Always check the clearance racks when shopping.  The little JC Penney near me often has off season clothing marked down at least 75%.
  • If you frequent fast food restaurants, buy the kids meal and keep the toy for a shoebox (if your kids won't get upset!)
  • Use coupons to purchase personal care items greatly reduced.
  • Ask your dentist to donate toothbrushes and toothpaste.
  • Ask your insurance agent if they have coloring books or other goodies that would be fun filler.
  • Buy trinkets and candy the day after any holiday for deep discounts.
I write this as much for my own memory as to share with you what you can do to help.  Have you packed shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child?  Got any tips to share?

Monday, November 14, 2011

A River Runs Thru It

OK, it's really just a creek, but on days like today, it looks like a river.  I think this is the first time it's been high this time of year.  Usually it's January before we see it this high, but it's sure fun.

It's Monday again and normally that means a new menu plan.  However, since the challenge is over and there's no link up, I'm not sure I'll keep posting it.  If it's here, I have to log in to see it, as I don't take the time to both write and type it.  Although, I've been using my Nook Color for things like that more lately, and it might be a good idea.  Just not today, cuz I haven't planned the week yet!  I did think it might be fun to compare what I planned with what we actually ate.  I had to keep a record for my naturopath, so I could easily copy and paste.  OK, I will.  First is the planned meal, then what I actually had.

Smoothie #1: Eggs, bananas, milk, yogurt & cacao powder: S1 with maca root powder
Breakfast: oatmeal, milk: oatmeal with butter, raisins, cinnamon and sugar
Lunch: leftover noodle casserole: noodle casserole with mozzarella
Snack: Veggie smoothie (any assortment of fruits and veggies available) with breadsticks or crackers and olive oil dipping sauce: organic chocolate chip granola bar
Dinner: Shredded chicken in the rest of the leftover noodle casserole, baked sweet potato and garden salad: the last of the noodle casserole with chicken and cheese and baked sweet potato fries, can of Hansen’s soda
Pretty close this day!

Smoothie #1: S1 and Traditional Medicinals Detox Tea
Breakfast: something baked to take to the park ???: baked oatmeal squares
Lunch: Tuna salad on greens: cheese crisp (We’re out of mayo, so no tuna salad)
Snack: Veggie smoothie (any assortment of fruits and veggies available) with breadsticks or crackers and olive oil dipping sauce: nada
Dinner: Goat meat chili, shredded cheese and diced onions with a salad: goat meat chili with shredded cheese and sour cream
Quick adjustment for no mayo, and then never had a snack

Smoothie #2: Coconut milk and berries: S1 w/o cacao
Breakfast: bacon & eggs: bacon and eggs, slice of sourdough bread
Lunch: Peanut butter and celery and a salad: celery & peanut butter
Snack: Veggie smoothie (any assortment of fruits and veggies available) with breadsticks or crackers and olive oil dipping sauce: 1 slice sourdough bread with olive oil/balsamic vinegar
Dinner: short ribs with roasted butternut squash: rockfish with artichoke tapenade, sm chunk butternut squash and salad with ranch
Clearly not getting my quota of greens; had to switch to rockfish, as short ribs are in freezer at work and Tony came home before I could have him take them out on Tuesday.

Smoothie #1: S1 w/o cacao or eggs plus teaspoon of peanut butter (not in the smoothie)
Breakfast: butternut squash pancakes, milk: pumpkin pancakes
Lunch: eggs salad: sandwich with bacon, colby, tomato and avocado on sourdough bread (still no mayo, but oh boy was this sandwich GOOD!)
Snack: Veggie smoothie (any assortment of fruits and veggies available) with breadsticks or crackers and olive oil dipping sauce: nada again
Dinner: Lunch box from Wild Flower Bread Co at the Sinfonietta: turkey, cheddar, lettuce & tomato sandwich, grapes, sm cookie & water (from Wild Flower Bread Co)

Closer than I thought for these days. Looks like I’m mostly missing a healthy afternoon snack and plenty of greens. I have good intentions-like juicing a bunch of stuff to freeze in ice cube trays and use for afternoon smoothies, but that takes time and energy that I just don’t seem to have. Then, the $7 carton of organic salad mix I bought that had a “Best If Used By” date of 11-11 was starting to get slimy on 11-9. I was really irritated over that! It took me about 15 minutes to hand wash (already washed lettuce) enough of it to serve that night, and even then I still found slimy lettuce in my salad and that’s a big turn off for me. The rest went to the goats. I’m glad it got used, but I can’t afford $7/pound goat food!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Monday Meal Plan, Nov 7-Nov 13

I thought I should confess that I have not once had my afternoon snack as planned.  No green smoothie with breadstix and olive oil dipping sauce.  I have breadstix in the freezer-homemade even-I just forget to take one out to thaw and rise for fresh baking.  Maybe I'll see what's available at the store...I did however, have a veggie smoothie one day last week.  I juiced 3 small beets, 3 stalks of celery, 2 small apples and a wedge of purple cabbage and put that into the blender with a bunch of lettuce.  The lettuce didn't get chopped up small enough, so it was hard to drink, but flavorful.

Smoothie #1: Eggs, bananas, milk, yogurt & cacao powder
Breakfast: oatmeal, milk
Lunch: leftover noodle casserole
Snack: Veggie smoothie (any assortment of fruits and veggies available) with breadsticks or crackers and olive oil dipping sauce
Dinner: Shredded chicken in the rest of the leftover noodle casserole, baked sweet potato and garden salad

Smoothie #1
Breakfast: something baked to take to the park ???
Lunch: Tuna salad on greens
Snack: Veggie smoothie (any assortment of fruits and veggies available) with breadsticks or crackers and olive oil dipping sauce
Dinner: Goat meat chili, shredded cheese and diced onions with a salad
Smoothie #2: Coconut milk and berries
Breakfast: bacon & eggs
Lunch: Peanutbutter and celery and a salad
Snack: Veggie smoothie (any assortment of fruits and veggies available) with breadsticks or crackers and olive oil dipping sauce
Dinner: short ribs with roasted butternut squash
Smoothie #1
Breakfast: butternut squash pancakes, milk
Lunch: eggs salad
Snack: Veggie smoothie (any assortment of fruits and veggies available) with breadsticks or crackers and olive oil dipping sauce
Dinner: Lunch box from Wild Flower Bread Co at the Sinfonietta
Smoothie #2
Breakfast: bacon & eggs, milk
Lunch: green salad and goat cheese, milk
Snack: Veggie smoothie (any assortment of fruits and veggies available) with breadsticks or crackers and olive oil dipping sauce
Dinner: orange chicken and fried rice
Smoothie #1
Breakfast: Cinnamon rolls
Lunch: Grilled cheese sandwiches and green salad
Snack: Veggie smoothie (any assortment of fruits and veggies available) with breadsticks or crackers and olive oil dipping sauce
Dinner: Pizza and salad

Smoothie #1
Breakfast: Eggs & bacon before church
Lunch: hot dogs @ fundraiser, then to Su Casa with OCC team
Snack: Veggie smoothie (any assortment of fruits and veggies available) with breadsticks or crackers and olive oil dipping sauce
Dinner: Leftovers

This post is part of the Plan It-Don't Panic Challenge at Keeper of the Home.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Monday Meal Plan, Oct 31-Nov 6

Wow!  It's Tuesday night already and I haven't made a meal plan.  Haven't hardly made a meal either!  Tony will be gone several nights this week (tonight being one) so I probably won't cook much.  We have a lot of chicken and various leftovers I'm going to use up.

Smoothie #1: Eggs, bananas, milk, yogurt & cacao powder
Breakfast: Baked oatmeal, milk
Lunch: Nachos with chicken and green chilies
Snack: Veggie smoothie (any assortment of fruits and veggies available) with breadsticks or crackers and olive oil dipping sauce
Dinner: Baked whitefish topped with leftover Bearnaise sauce, baked sweet potato and garden salad

Smoothie #1
Breakfast: pumpkin muffins
Lunch: Tuna salad on greens
Snack: Veggie smoothie (any assortment of fruits and veggies available) with breadsticks or crackers and olive oil dipping sauce
Dinner: Cheese, leftover potato salad, tortilla chips

Smoothie #2: Coconut milk and berries
Breakfast: Steak & Eggs
Lunch: Peanutbutter and celery
Snack: Veggie smoothie (any assortment of fruits and veggies available) with breadsticks or crackers and olive oil dipping sauce
Dinner: Chicken soup

Smoothie #1
Breakfast: Sourdough waffles, milk
Lunch: Sliced cheese and veggies with ranch dressing
Snack: Veggie smoothie (any assortment of fruits and veggies available) with breadsticks or crackers and olive oil dipping sauce
Dinner: Chicken quesadillas and refried beans

Smoothie #2
Breakfast: Frittata, milk
Lunch: Grilled chicken on a bed of greens, milk
Snack: Veggie smoothie (any assortment of fruits and veggies available) with breadsticks or crackers and olive oil dipping sauce
Dinner: Beef shortribs, zucchini, salad

Smoothie #1
Breakfast: Cinnamon roll pancakes
Lunch: Grilled cheese sandwiches and green salad
Snack: Veggie smoothie (any assortment of fruits and veggies available) with breadsticks or crackers and olive oil dipping sauce
Dinner: Pizza and salad

Smoothie #1
Breakfast: Eggs & meat
Lunch: Leftovers
Snack: Veggie smoothie (any assortment of fruits and veggies available) with breadsticks or crackers and olive oil dipping sauce
Dinner: Leftovers

This post is part of the Plan It-Don't Panic Challenge at Keeper of the Home.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Here and There in the Blogger World

I read a lot more blog posts than I write.  I probably even comment more at other blogs than write original posts on mine.  This week I was quoted at SteadyMom.  She had written a brief story about achieving peace.  My comments were quoted in her next post about What Choosing Peace Does Not Mean.  I was pretty excited about that!

Then there's the grain debate that's so popular right now.  I've read a bit on both sides.  I whole-heartedly agree that processed white flour should be avoided, but I don't come to the same conclusion with whole grains.  I know that gluten intolerance is on the rise and many people are avoiding wheat and other gluten containing grains.  I don't notice any symptoms though, in myself or my family.  The debate regarding whether humans should even eat grains is a very interesting one and you can find a lot of info on both sides.  I have an online friend that removed all grains from her diet (and subsequently her family's diet) and they are all doing wonderfully.  But they had issues prior.  One blogger has tried a few of the grain free approaches and still has the same symptoms, so it clearly isn't a one size fits all resolution.  I appreciate her willingness to take up the pro-grain side of the story and show that it's not a demon for everyone.  I encourage you to read her post, but be warned-there are nearly 300 comments!

There's also Kelly the Kitchen Kop writing a story in support of healthy grains.  I left a comment that sparked interest for another commenter and we had a respectable discussion that I found refreshing and interesting.  You can read it here.  It seems rare (for me anyway) to be able to present and discuss opposing viewpoints without it breaking down into heated debate.  In my experience, people don't like to have their opinions questioned.  I say-how do you learn something if you don't ask questions?  I ask nicely, never resorting to name calling or belittling, but I still get those that get all riled up simply because I asked to know more about their point of view.  Oh well, I digress.  Take the time to read the other posts and let me know what you think on both of the issues.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Words I Thought I'd Never Say

"Got a hatchet?"
to my husband, as I hold a hen caught eating an egg, standing just outside the door.  We've got a broody hen whose chicks are due to hatch any day now, so I was watching out the window, having seen her out looking for food.  Then I saw her getting aggressive and not letting any other hens into the hen house.  I went out to investigate and she was up on a pole squawking at the egg eater in her nest!  It wasn't a fertilized (or maybe just not developed enough yet) egg, but we've been having a problem and I was glad to catch the culprit.  Tony is plucking and cleaning her right now.

Yep, we've come quite a ways on this journey-had we written out a 5 and 10 year plan when we got married, raising animals for food wouldn't have even crossed our minds, let alone made it to the list!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Blustery Day

Defined at
blus·ter   /ˈblʌstər/ roar and be tumultuous, as wind.

After reading the definition, I'm not so sure it fits, but since Winnie the Pooh likes it, I'll keep it.  It's been cloudy and a bit windy, with rain two different times.  The cloudy sky makes the various colors of the leaves seem more vibrant.

We were outside unloading pine branches from the truck to the goat pen when it finally occurred to me why Molly and Annie have been crying, despite having food and water, and it not being milking time.  They're both in heat!  We just got back from delivering them to the pasture to hang out with Boots, and they all seem very happy about the situation.

Boots, summer 2010

 Molly, winter 2009
 Annie, spring 2010

As I was milking, I thought once again about the fact that I haven't kept very good records this year in regards to who was taken to see Boots and when.  I've got my milk/egg record calendar here with me and as I go thru it for clues, I'm going to give a report!
  • Cream gave birth to Sugar and Spice on Jan 24th.  She never did become the milker I thought she'd be.
  • We bought 6 Cinnamon Queen chicks on April 7th, and 2 turkeys.  See this post about disappearing poultry.
  • Yodelady went to Boots on April 16th.  Hmm, she must not have gotten pregnant right away, as gestation is 155 days and that would have been September 18th.  Better tell the neighbors to keep an eye on her.  Or bring her back from their house!
  • Our first chicks hatched on May 4th.
  • Peaches had twin bucklings on May 16th.
  • Annie had a buckling and doeling on May 18th.
  • Molly had a single doeling on May 24th.
  • Belle went to see Boots on June 10th.  She's due as early as November 11th.  Better tell the people we gave her to in trade for the pig.
  • A bull was brought to Elsie on July 1st.  She'll be due April 11th.
  • On September 12th we got the pig and gave Patches and Belle away.  Peaches went to Boots that day.
  • I have no notes about Sugar and Spice and when they went to meet Boots, but it seems like it was before we got the pig.  Some time in July, I think.  Actually it probably wasn't until after August 1st, since that's when the bull was moved back to his pasture.  Although since the goats also use the neighbors pasture, it could have been before.  Eek!
I feel better knowing the dates of most breeding "appointments", at least!

Now to go calculate costs associated with keeping the steer thru winter vs butchering next month.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday Meal Plan, Oct 24-30

My parents visited this weekend.  I mentioned to my mom that she could use my menu plans to encourage them to eat out less often.  She told me she didn't understand my code.  Oops.  I did that because I don't like to type repetitive stuff.  I'll spell it all out this week and just make changes each week to the things that actually change.  I think I'll do away with the bullets too-they mess up the formatting when copying and pasting!  I also think I'm going to start making the plans on Saturday, even though they don't get posted until Monday.

Smoothie #1:  Eggs, bananas, milk, yogurt & cacao powder
Breakfast:  Baked oatmeal, milk
Lunch:  Nachos with chicken and green chilies
Snack:  Veggie smoothie (any assortment of fruits and veggies available) with breadsticks or crackers and olive oil dipping sauce
Dinner:  Baked whitefish topped with leftover Bearnaise sauce, baked sweet potato and garden salad

Smoothie #1
Breakfast:  Boiled eggs and apple slices, milk (park day, need something portable)
Lunch:  Tuna salad on greens
Snack: Veggie smoothie (any assortment of fruits and veggies available) with breadsticks or crackers and olive oil dipping sauce
Dinner:  Chicken chili verde and beans, green salad

Smoothie #2:  Coconut milk and berries
Breakfast:  Pumpkin pancakes and milk
Lunch:  Egg salad, crackers and celery
Snack: Veggie smoothie (any assortment of fruits and veggies available) with breadsticks or crackers and olive oil dipping sauce
Dinner:  ?  It's beef night and I think we're all out!  I have a butternut squash to use for something though!

Smoothie #1
Breakfast:  Fritatta, milk
Lunch:  Sliced cheese and veggies with ranch dressing
Snack: Veggie smoothie (any assortment of fruits and veggies available) with breadsticks or crackers and olive oil dipping sauce
Dinner:  Swordfish, sauteed squash and salad

Smoothie #2
Breakfast:  Eggs & meat, milk
Lunch:  Peanut butter and celery, milk
Snack: Veggie smoothie (any assortment of fruits and veggies available) with breadsticks or crackers and olive oil dipping sauce
Dinner:  Orange chicken, fried rice

Smoothie #1
Breakfast:  Cinnamon roll pancakes
Lunch:  Ham sandwiches and green salad
Snack: Veggie smoothie (any assortment of fruits and veggies available) with breadsticks or crackers and olive oil dipping sauce
Dinner:  Pizza and salad

Smoothie #1
Breakfast:  Eggs & meat
Lunch:  Leftovers
Snack: Veggie smoothie (any assortment of fruits and veggies available) with breadsticks or crackers and olive oil dipping sauce
Dinner:  Leftovers

This post is part of the Plan It-Don't Panic Challenge at Keeper of the Home.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday Meal Plan, Oct 17-23

I'm enjoying my new Menu Framework. I wish I could paste the spreadsheet of the details. Anyone know how to do that?  With the Framework, breakfast and lunch basically remain the same from week to week unless I want to change it, and dinners are generically planned, as in Monday is chicken, Tuesday is soup, etc.  That allows for variety without the need for detailed planning all the time.  Snacks and smoothies are the same too.

  • S2*
  • pork and scrambled eggs
  • GS (green salad) and hot dogs
  • VS (veggie smoothie) & sourdough crackers
  • herbed chicken, spaghetti squash & GS


  • S1
  • sourdough waffles and milk
  • tuna salad and goat cheese
  • VS & sourdough breadsticks with olive oil dipping sauce
  • beef barley soup and GS

  • S1
  • veggie & cheese omelet
  • GS, garlic bologna sandwiches
  • VS & sourdough breadsticks with olive oil dipping sauce
  • steaks, yam, veggie, GS

  • S2 
  • baked oatmeal
  • ham sandwiches
  • VS & sourdough breadsticks with olive oil dipping sauce
  • whitefish, veggie & sweet potato


  • S1
  • beef & fried eggs
  • GS & goat cheese
  • VS & sourdough breadsticks with olive oil dipping sauce
  • tacos

  • S1
  • pumpkin rolls
  • egg salad
  • VS & sourdough breadsticks with olive oil dipping sauce
  • pepperoni pizza & GS


  • S1
  • eggs & meat
  • leftovers
  • VS & sourdough breadsticks with olive oil dipping sauce
  • leftovers

This post is part of the Plan It, Don't Panic series at Keeper of the Home.

 I just realized I've never explained my abbreviations!  S1=smoothie made with bananas, eggs, milk and cacao powder.  S2=smoothie made with coconut milk and frozen berries.  VS=veggie smoothie.  GS=green salad.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Monday Meal Plan, Oct 10-16

I'm a day late, but I've had it written out since yesterday, if that counts!  I wish I could insert a table in Blogger.  Over the weekend I worked on what I call a Menu Framework.  I blogged about it Sunday, but can't paste the spreadsheet of the details.  I'd appreciate your thoughts on that post too!

  • S2
  • pork and scrambled eggs
  • GS (green salad) and nachos
  • VS (veggie smoothie) & sourdough crackers
  • diablo chicken, corn & GS
  • S1
  • sourdough waffles and milk
  • tuna salad and goat cheese
  • VS & sourdough breadsticks with olive oil dipping sauce
  • butternut squash soup and GS
  • S1
  • southwest omelet
  • GS, celery with peanutbutter
  • VS & sourdough breadsticks with olive oil dipping sauce
  • salmon, soaked brown rice, veggie, GS
  • S2
  • baked oatmeal
  • egg salad
  • VS & sourdough breadsticks with olive oil dipping sauce
  • beef shank, veggie & sweet potato
  • S1
  • beef & fried eggs
  • GS & goat cheese
  • VS & sourdough breadsticks with olive oil dipping sauce
  • chicken enchilada casserole
  • S1
  • pumpkin rolls
  • lasagna casserole
  • VS & sourdough breadsticks with olive oil dipping sauce
  • pepperoni pizza & GS
  • S1
  • eggs & meat
  • leftovers
  • VS & sourdough breadsticks with olive oil dipping sauce
  • leftovers
This post is part of the Plan It, Don't Panic series at Keeper of the Home.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Precursor to Monday Menu Plan

I just completed what I'm calling a Menu Framework.  It's a basic outline of what to serve daily so that I get all the nutrients I'm trying to get to heal from adrenal fatigue.  The Too Tired eCourse I've been studying has a list of various foods I need to eat every day.  Rather than wing it and hope that I've consumed all that I should, I made a plan.  Or an outline, more precisely.  Hopefully it's a broad scope of what to have when, with the flexibility to keep meals from becoming mundane.  It's structured enough to take the majority of the work out of the way so that I can just plug in favorite meals or even new recipes when I choose.

It takes into account our commitments away from home so that meals will be simple for those times.  Tuesday night is a good example.  Goober Gus and I like to go to the library in the afternoon to spend time there, and afterwards we go walk with a friend.  That puts us home right at dinner time, with no allowance for prep time.  It's also a night that Tony goes to a men's Bible study.  Sometimes he's hungry before, but most of the time prefers to eat after.  So Tuesday night is soup night.  It can be simmering in the crockpot all day and ready to eat at any time.  It will be accompanied by a salad and either sourdough bread or sourdough crackers.

It reminds me to get more veggies into our diet and makes me think about how.  Our afternoon snack, which prior to now has been very hit or miss, but which I think is vital to consuming enough nutrients and helping to avoid the afternoon crash, is a veggie smoothie and sourdough breadsticks with an olive oil dip.  That came about for two reasons. 
  1. I should get some olive oil every day.  Other than cooking with it on occasion, I don't really get much, so planning to have breadsticks to dip into an olive oil dip will take care of that. 
  2. I need two servings of leafy green vegetables every single day.  I might get two every single month!  So-a veggie smoothie with leafy greens in it will cover one of those servings.
Hopefully it will also remind me of all the herbal remedies I have at my disposal for boosting health.  As I finished this rough framework I realized I could take it a step further and where beef is on the menu every Wednesday, one week could be a casserole, one a grill night, one a roast, or whatever new recipe I want to try calling for beef.  Same thing with Friday ethnic nights.  Our favorite is Mexican, but we could try others as well.  Saturday is pizza night, but that could be altered to be pizza or other Italian meal.  Sundays are leftovers and that serves 2 purposes.  It obviously uses up the leftovers, but also gives me a day off from cooking!

Another habit I want to develop is cooking once and eating twice or more-making a double batch of whatever I'm preparing and freezing the extra for another time.  You know, one of those days where nothing goes right and suddenly it's dinner time and there's nothing prepared (despite having a plan).  I will either be sure to use my glassware that can go from freezer to oven or perhaps buy some disposable aluminum pans for that purpose.  I haven't decided yet.  There's always the option to freeze it in the pan, using a liner of waxed paper, then take it out of the pan and wrap in plastic to return it to the freezer.  At least then the pan would be available to be used.

Now, can I get in the habit of eating a green salad every day?  Funny thing is, I like salads, I just rarely think to eat them!

How about you?  Do you have a plan in place for eating and getting all the good foods in you want to eat?  Do you have a green smoothie recipe you'd like to share?  I need ideas for those!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Bad Year for Poultry

This year has been hard on the poultry on our farm.  Our first year we lost 11 birds over a 1 year span and then went a very long time with no losses.  This year we're seeing a rise again.  These are the ones I can recall, we may have lost 1 or 2 prior to the loss of the first juveniles in the spring.
  1. 1 young turkey due to exposure
  2. 1 young chick due to 5 year old boy's curiosity
  3. 1 young turkey cause unknown
  4. 1 adult hen from accidental poisoning
  5. 1 juvenile hen due to illness
  6. 1 rooster due to hawk attack (assumed hawk)
  7. 1 adult hen simply disappeared
  8. 1 juvenile hen eaten by pig
It's sad to lose one, but this year, fencing the property wouldn't have saved any of them except maybe the 2nd turkey and the hen that disappeared earlier this week.  It's still cheaper to replace a bird than to fence everything, but if we choose to make this our long term home, we'll likely fence it for various reasons.  The first year when we lost 11, most were probably coyote attacks, but even then it's still more expensive to put up fencing.

The one lost to the pig happened today.  Probably when we were at the park late afternoon.  I don't know how she got in there, but there are feathers all over and the backbone and wings.  It's not the loss that bothers me as much as which one-it'd be nice if it were one of the older hens on the downside of their laying career rather than one that just entered that stage, but it's in God's hands, right?  I hope the other hens were watching so they'll not try to go in the pig pen!

EDIT!  That darn pig got another of the juvenile hens!!  Guess whose life will be cut short, despite making good growth gains since coming to us?!  I'm off to research roasting whole pigs, as she's not big enough to take the time to butcher.  We can't figure out how or why the chickens are getting into her pen, but suspect it's to scrounge after food she hasn't eaten.  They could be flying over, as the fencing isn't very high, but more so than the hens usually go.

Also, I forgot that we lost 2 ducks shortly after they came to our home, so with today's attack, the total is now 11 poultry birds lost this year, making it worse than the first year.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Monday Meal Plan, Oct 3-9

Last week I published my menu plan here along with the link to Keeper of the Home, but I think I forgot to actually link the post!  I'll try to remember that step this time!

This is going to be quick and not very imaginative, but it will be better than winging it!

  • S1
  • scrambled eggs with mozzarella and sd toast, milk
  • celery and peanut butter
  • bean soup
  • S1
  • soaked apple raisin muffins and milk
  • pepperoni and carrots
  • gulash
  • S2
  • mini egg muffins
  • tuna salad
  • hosting a visiting missionary, may prepare what he desires
  • S1
  • sd waffles and milk
  • egg salad and carrots
  • fish and wild rice
  • S2
  • fried eggs
  • carrots and cheese
  • beef roast and veggies
  • S1
  • pumpkin bread
  • grilled pork
  • green salad with boiled eggs
  • S1
  • eggs and sd toast
  • leftovers
  • leftovers

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Monday Meal Plan, Sept 26-Oct 2

Yes, it's Tuesday already and I haven't made a meal plan for the week.  On Saturday Tony decided to rearrange the furniture in our tiny house and as of this moment it's still not all back in order.  We didn't get around to having most of the dinner items last week, so I'm improvising by adjusting last week's plan a bit.

Chocolate Banana Smoothie (AKA S1)
Sourdough waffles Did we ear breakfast?
Egg salad pepperoni and SD crackers
Beef short ribs Turkey soup


Coconut Milk Smoothie (AKA S2)
Boiled eggs and fruit with goat cheese Apple muffins
Quesadillas hot dogs
Bean Soup  ??

S1  It's Goober Gus's birthday so he gets to choose.
Coconut flour pancakes
Goat cheese, SD crackers and carrots
Pulled pork

Scrambled eggs and SD English muffins
Peanut butter and celery

Baked oatmeal
Goat cheese and tomatoes
Homemade hot wings

Berry Smoothie
Bacon, eggs and SD toast
Goat cheese and crackers
Meatza pizza

Baked oatmeal

This post is part of the Plan It-Don't Panic Challenge at Keeper of the Home.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Cracker Map

I was baking crackers yesterday.  A triple batch so we'd have enough to snack on this week with plenty left over for Goober Gus's birthday party Saturday.  As I was preparing to take the first batch off the tray, I noticed that it kinda looked like a map of the US.  Not that I was trying, but do you see it?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Do you know...

what a screaming raccoon sounds like?  We just found out!  Tony was playing chess with our son on the new Nook Color I got for my birthday (yeah, it's supposed to be mine, hehe) while I was searching for new apps for the Nook when we heard this horrendous screeching outside.  I ran out as fast as I could but didn't grab the flashlight.  My first thought was something was attacking chickens, but when I got outside the few that sleep under the stars seems unruffled so I thought maybe something jumped into the pig pen and was attacking her.  Tony grabbed the light and came out, but went toward the creek from the other side of the goat pen, so I still couldn't see the pig.  He said it was raccoons and could see them up in the giant cottonwood tree by the creek.  We heard splashes from the beaver but it wasn't adding up for me.

Once we confirmed the pig and goats were OK, he tried to scare the 'coons off.  They did run away, but we don't know where.  All I can say is that's an AWFUL sound and if the raccoons are going to fight, they need to do it somewhere else!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Monday Meal Plan, Sept 19-25

I decided to participate in the Plan It, Don't Panic meal planning challenge hosted by Stephanie at Keeper of the Home

I like making plans.  I'm not so good at following them though.  Whether they be meal plans, housekeeping plans, homeschool plans-any plan.  My excitement comes with making it, not following it!  I learned why a couple of years ago, but that's another topic for another time.  The challenge doesn't actually start until next Monday, but my family and I will be better off starting it now.  My son and I will actually eat lunch!

So here it is (Smoothie, Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, in that order)
  • Chocolate Banana Smoothie (AKA S1)
  • Sourdough waffles
  • Egg salad and SD crackers
  • Beef short ribs
  • Coconut Milk Smoothie (AKA S2)
  • Boiled eggs and fruit with goat cheese
  • Quesadillas
  • Bean Soup
  • S1
  • Coconut flour pancakes
  • Goat cheese, SD crackers and carrots
  • Pulled pork
  • S2
  • Scrambled eggs and SD English muffins
  • Peanut butter and celery
  • Frittata
  • S1
  • Baked oatmeal
  • Goat cheese and tomatoes
  • Homemade hot wings
  • Berry Smoothie
  • Bacon, eggs and SD toast
  • Goat cheese and crackers
  • Meatza pizza
  • S1
  • Baked oatmeal
  • Leftovers
  • Leftovers
I'm also going to try making some coconut oil fudge for snacks, and I usually have coconut bark to nibble throughout the day too.  Each morning I hope to brew some herbal teas to sip on also.  One is high in vitamin C, the other in calcium.  I've got another that I brew a couple of quarts at a time and keep in the fridge.  It's not the best tasting, but is supposed to be good for adrenal fatigue so I'm trying it.  This plan is obviously fairly bare bones, but that's more than I usually have to go on.  I want to stop at the farm stands up the road and get some fresh veggies to add to meals, and I forgot that my parents gave us a couple of packages of raspberries that I'll likely serve with freshly whipped cream.  There may be some homemade ice cream happening at various times too.  It's been a long week, a fun filled weekend and I'm tired, so there aren't links to where some of my recipes are found, or other posts that explain some other things, but maybe later in the week I'll come back and add them in.  Can you tell we have a large, steady supply of goat milk?  [The smoothies and goat cheese both utilize this wonderful commodity!]

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Emergency Flashlights

Or power outage lights, as I just learned they are called, come in handy when it suddenly goes dark because of a power failure.  This is not the kind we have, but I didn't want to spend a lot of time searching for the exact one.  I also know nothing about the site, it was first in the list of search results.

We have one that my sister in law gave us for Christmas a few years ago.  It plugs into an outlet and when the electricity stops flowing to it, the light comes on.  This is nice when it happens at night, as happened to us a few weeks ago.  We saw the lightning and a big clap of thunder popped then it was dark.  Except for this light coming from behind the entertainment center.  It just happens to be the only outlet not used regularly.  I had only recently plugged it back in (ask me why it wasn't always plugged in-I don't know) and was glad I had.  We had a boy here visiting and while he had just fallen asleep, our son had not and the whole event shook him up.  Being able to get to that light and then light candles helped keep him calm.

We figured it was an area wide outage until Tony looked towards the neighbor's house and they had light.  Turns out the lightning blew a fuse in the power line across the road and about 6 or 8 homes are served by that fuse.  It's too bad both of the boys were asleep by the time the power company arrived to solve the problem because it was neat to watch how they changed out the fuse.

A couple of nights ago we took my parents out for burgers and when we arrived home the power was out again.  It had been off for nearly half an hour when we got home and was off for nearly two.  It was still light out when we returned so we didn't notice right away.  The flashlight was still working though.  I'm glad we have it and that it got plugged back in!

If you don't have one of these, I recommend them.  It's nice to have an instant light source when the power goes off so that you can get to your other sources of light easily.

This post is part of the Preparedness Challenge at Homestead Revival.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Monday, August 15, 2011

Social Media Sites

You know the drill.  You can "like" something on facebook or tweet about things.  Now I'm hearing about one called pinterest which looks like a visual bookmark page, as far as I can tell.  I don't see the attraction at this point though.

I had a facebook account a couple of years ago.  The young moms in my MOPS group said it was great-find old friends, keep up with new friends, play games, share pictures.  So I tried.  I didn't like it.  I think I had my account for close to a year.  It was a time sucker that didn't give me anything positive to show for it, so I disabled it.

I've never tweeted, and as mentioned, don't see the attraction to pinterest.  However, it's getting harder and harder to get some of the wonderful things bloggers offer unless I have a facebook account, so I'm considering getting one somewhat incognito.  Perhaps using my blog name as the log in account, and then only using it to access updates from other bloggers, etc.  Yeah, I think that's what I'll do, but someone needs to keep me accountable to ONLY using it for those purposes.  I've been reducing screen time and want to stay on that trend.

How about you?  Do you enjoy the social media sites or find them overwhelming and time consuming?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Crazy Mixed-Up Day

It started off sanely enough.  No plans outside of the ordinary daily tasks.  Kinda felt a bit of freedom as a result.  Did I say it started off sanely?  Shows how crazy it's been-Tony slept in and I got up to let the chickens out.  I noticed that Sugar was out of the goat pen with Spice.  Spice gets out all the time, but it was odd to see Sugar out too.  Then I saw the rest of the goats were out and the gate was open.  That explains the noises that sounded similar to Goober Gus getting out of bed and stomping around in his room.  The hay bales are outside our bedroom, so we could hear them stealing food.  I grabbed Annie and Molly by the collar and Peaches tagged along and went back voluntarily.  Sugar and Spice did too.  That just left Cream and she eventually jumped in on her own.

Last night was the first time we took all the baby goats out-they're old enough to be weaned now, so they're in their own pen full time.  At milking time I got 158 ounces total from Annie and Molly.  That's a gallon and bit over a pint.  I left 2 quarts out for a new batch of yogurt that I'd decided I'd culture for 4 hours instead of 8 and see how that came out.  Some time during all this I decided I could bake crackers-oh, but we're trying to do all those things with sourdough and it should ferment overnight.  I figured I'd go ahead and start it and bake them after several hours instead of overnight.

Then I remembered that a friend of ours has a neighbor with overloaded peach trees and neither the friend nor the neighbor do any food preserving, so the trees were made available to us for picking.  Goober Gus and I got about 5 pounds the other day and I told the owner we'd be back when more ripened.  All 3 of us went today and returned with roughly 80 pounds, and you can hardly tell we took any!  Both days we picked up the bug eaten ones to bring to the chickens, so they're getting a treat too.  This is one branch and there are several trees, all loaded like this.

Sorry about the sideways shot...
On the way home we stopped at a farm stand to get more cherry tomatoes.  I bought half a pound the other day and GG ate them all before I could tell him to save some for dad.  We also got giant green bell peppers for .75¢ and this farmer doesn't use chemical herbicides or pesticides.  Organic peppers sell for $6 EACH at the grocery store.  These are so flavorful that you can smell them a yard away.  We also bought some very spicy salsa to snack on for lunch.  So spicy that I had to add tomatoes, green chilies and onions to thin it out some.  We made 2 trays of nachos and polished off another bag of our new favorite tortilla chips.

It was during lunch that I decided we could make lasagna for dinner, so I took out a package of ground pork sausage and tomato sauce from the freezer.  We've got 2 gallons of whey to make ricotta, so it was all set.  I also decided I better learn the process of lacto fermentation and be ready to start preserving these peaches.  Tony spent close to an hour placing them in apple boxes that this same friend had brought us when we thought we'd found a place to move to.  The inserts to separate fruit were still there, so they came in very handy.  We have 3 and a half boxes of peaches!

OK, so now I have cracker dough souring, 80+ pounds of peaches picked, plans for a fairly involved dinner and I'm looking thru my GNOWFGLINS courses for the one on lacto-fermented fruit.  Tony needed to go to the shop and work on a couple of cellos.  GG asked if he could go with because his bike tires are both flat and the air compressor is at the shop.  I reminded Tony that today was the last day of a pretty good sale at OfficeMax and asked if it was worth it for me to drive to Cottonwood to take advantage of it.  He suggested I drop them off at the shop, go to Cottonwood and pick them up on the way back.  I hate dislike it when he makes a logical suggestion that doesn't line up with what I was thinking. 

Alright, so instead of working on peaches and spending some time planning out the upcoming week-GG wants to study volcanoes-I drove to Cottonwood.  Did I mention that driving makes me drowsy?  Yeah, so when we got home a nap was definitely needed.  GG watched Prince of Egypt and we dozed.  Until I remembered I wanted to put the yogurt in the fridge at 130 and it was now after 4.  So much for a nap.

I went out to check all the animals and poor patches had his head stuck in the fence.  Reason enough to dehorn any horned animal, IMO.  We tried cauterizing the horn buds when all the babies were a few days old, but the boys' horns grew anyway.  Now they're banded, but haven't fallen off yet.  It was at this point that I remembered that I needed to check the mamas and see if they needed to be milked again.  We (I) normally only milk once a day, but with this being the first day of weaning, I figured they'd need a second go around.  Got all the feed and supplies ready and came out to find that Spice had jumped out and eaten the milking time treats, so had to start a new batch soaking.  "When am I going to be able to start dinner?"  I thought to myself.  GG and Tony were playing "bollyball" (that'd be volleyball for anyone over the age of 10) and it was a nice late afternoon outside.

The girls gave nearly another 3 quarts of milk, though we only got to keep about half that.  Molly promptly stepped into the bucket today and then kicked it about 15 feet behind her.  I retrieved the bucket and milked her anyway, giving it to the chickens, who probably suggested she kick the bucket in the first place.  I'm not sure what the chickens do to repay the goats for this, though.

OK, on to dinner.  Tony started cooking the sausage-I asked why he was slicing it instead of just crumbling it and he said it was venison.  What?  We don't have any venison.  He told me to look at the wrapper in the trash.  Sure enough, the inside packaging says venison.  I looked more closely at the butcher paper on the outside and the word I couldn't make out this morning was now obviously antelope.  I vaguely recall neighbors giving us this when they gave us some pork sausage to try.  OK, so the lasagna is going to be made with cubed antelope sausage.  I also decided to try a recipe I had seen for lasagna "cupcakes".  In the original recipe won-ton wraps are used to line muffin tins and hold all the filling.  I had 6 lasagna noodles left from the last time we made it and didn't want to buy another box, so we tried this method.  Oh, but first I have to tell you about the ricotta.  For something that's supposed to be easy, I've had more failure than success.

The method is simply bringing the whey to roughly 180° and then pouring it through a butter muslin lined colander.  The one success I can recall, I brought the whey to nearly boiling, so that was my aim tonight.  Didn't work.  No ricotta.  Zero, zilch, nada.  {Hmm, that rhymed, maybe I should write children's silly stories?}  OK, I'm not going to the store for ricotta when I've managed to find a suitable alternative for everything else.  We decided to use chevre and just added Italian seasoning, garlic and salt. 

Cutting the partially cooked noodles into the right size circles seemed easy enough until we realized the size that fits the top is too big for the bottom, so Tony used scissors and custom cut them.  I topped with tomato sauce, antelope sausage, chevre, more sauce, another noodle and mozzarella.  Did I mention it's about 7PM already?  Or that the sweet elderly man that brings yard and garden trimmings for the goats and books or toys for Goober Gus stopped by just before we started cutting noodles.  As the oven is warming up and we're about done filling muffin cups with lasagna goodness, I start smelling something close to burning.  We just put a new (freecycle find) oven in yesterday, but it was clean inside.  Oh no!!  I put the cracker dough in there to keep flies off it!  Fortunately it was in a large Pyrex bowl, so no breakage, and I don't think the heat was a problem for the fermenting process, but it actually could be now that I think about it.  So we get these things into the oven finally and I start washing dishes so the kitchen won't be a total disaster tomorrow.  Tony and GG clean off the table and empty the dishwasher-oh wait, they did that while we waited for the whey to boil.  I finish the bulk of the dishes and check the lasagna.  Why aren't they cooked more than that already?  In my rush to stop the burning smell, I turned the oven off.  Goodness!  Will the craziness never end today? 

Here's the steps to filling the tins:

I turned it back on and we waited about 10 minutes.  Tony read a chapter from Charlotte's Web to Gus.  We started it last night and it's our aim to read a few chapters each evening.  Dinner was a hit, despite the many obstacles.  The flavor was outstanding!  Tony ate 6, I had 5 and GG had 4!  I thought he'd be too full to eat because he ate all the partially cooked noodle pieces.  Fooled me!

By now it's nearly 830 and we are at least half an hour behind in our evening routine.  We went out to lock up the chickens and check the goats, then got teeth brushed, read one more book, took fish oil and put him to bed!  That was at 9, it's now 10 and all I've done since then is write this very long description of a crazy weird day!  If you've read this far, pat yourself on the back and grab a gold star, you deserve it!!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Operation Christmas Child-Gearing Up

Last year my mom and I worked that the west coast processing center for Operation Christmas Child.  We learned a lot about what to pack in the boxes and have been trying to buy things on clearance that would be a good fit for the boxes.  JC Penney usually has some great deals on off season clothing, so when I'm there to buy anything else, I check the kids' clothing clearance racks.  I have 5 empty shoe boxes to fill, not sure how many my mom has set aside.

We met at an outlet mall last month and I completely forgot about buying clearance items.  I saw T-shirts for $2 each, but didn't buy any because no one in my family needed them.  Oops, there I go just thinking about "me" again.

As long as we're talking about me, I love office supplies, and you know what that means this time of year, right?  Tremendous savings on back to school supplies.  Since we homeschool, and don't really go through very many items, it feels as though I don't get to participate in these great sales events, until I remember that school supplies are great things for OCC boxes!  Woo-hoo, now I get to indulge my shopping desire AND think of someone else!

I think I've gone a little overboard though.  I emptied all the bags into a large box tonight and here's what I have:
  • 5 boxes of colored pencils
  • 6 boxes of markers
  • 7 boxes of crayons
  • 16 glue sticks
  • 4 mini staplers
  • 3, 10 count packages of pens
  • 2, 8 count packages of fun pens
  • 4 packages of regular pencils
  • 10 pencil sharpeners
  • 8 file folders with pockets
  • 6 spiral notebooks
  • 4 composition books
  • 9 packages of filler paper
  • 4 bottles of glue
The liquid glue can't be sent, and the spiral notebooks may not fit, but there are local collections of these items for kids here who can't afford these things.  I was going to buy a couple of backpacks for the local kids also, as OfficeMax usually has a time when they'll give 100% back in MaxPerks rewards, but I missed that deal.

I wonder if things like bar soap are on sale this time of year too?  I bought an 18 count package of wash cloths, and it'd be nice to wrap each one around a bar of soap.  I'm going to ask my dentist how many tooth brushes and dental floss samples his office is willing to donate. 

One weekend, my parents will come visit and we'll make yarn dolls to go in the boxes too.  I have some camo yarn so that we can make "boy" dolls too.  Last Christmas we made some as gifts for cousins and my son showed me a way to attach a button to one hand for a shield and a toothpick in the other for a sword, but we can't send military/fighting type toys.

At the homeschool conference last weekend I picked up a few small items for the boxes-a few pens, a pin, a book.  Oh, I should get some inexpensive coloring books to go with those crayons, markers and colored pencils!  Oh yeah, I got a couple of packages of stickers too.

One of our homeschool projects will be to write letters to the children that will get the boxes.  It nearly brought tears to my eyes last year to see the handwritten letters and pictures done by children for children.  Do they know the impact they are having?

I was hoping to find the story of the girl who lived in Russia that didn't want to go to school that day because her shoes were falling apart.  Her mother made her go, and she made plans to run away after school.  Guess what happened?  That day at school, Samaritan's Purse was there giving out boxes to the kids.  Guess what was in her box?  Yep, shoes.  Her size.  Think she ran away?  Nope, she ran right into God's arms, because He used a family to send this girl exactly what she needed at the moment she needed it most.  He's like that, you know.

Friday, July 29, 2011

What is she doing?

I don't know if this is the first time she's hung out here, but it's the first time I've seen it.  This is a metal cart on the back patio where I keep milking and feeding supplies.  She's been back in there a few times today.

I looked after she left and there's no food there to attract her, nor any type of "nesting" material.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Monument Valley

These were taken a few weeks ago when we drove to Colorado.  The audio is our Treasure Island audio book, sorry.

The rain storm made for an interesting background, and I'm thinking the quality is pretty good considering it's taken from a moving vehicle through the closed windows.

Monday, July 25, 2011

AFHE Annual Home Educator's Convention

Tony and I went again this year.  It was very inspiring and motivating last time, and who can't use a boost of those on a regular basis?  This year was just as good.  Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis was the keynote speaker and had workshops throughout the day.  Tony went to most of his workshops, and I attended other great ones. 

My schedule on Friday looked like this:
  • Keynote:  Raising Godly Children in an Ungodly World by Ken Ham
  • Mother, More Than Just the Heart of Her Home by Rachael Carman
  • Smart Kids Who Hate to Write by Dianne Craft
  • The Angry Child-What Ticks Johnny Off by Mike Smith
  • Education is Discipleship:  A Vision for Homeschooling by Brad Melton
On Saturday I attended:
  • Keynote:  How Do We Measure Success in Homeschooling?  by Mike Smith
  • Learning to Think Biblically by Ken Ham
  • Incorporating the Charlotte Mason Method in Your Homeschool by Carol Shippy
  • Missional Homeschooling by Heather Haupt and Colene Lewis
  • Creating Your Family's Best Learning Environment by Carol Gary
Tony was able to attend these workshops on Friday:
  • Keynote: Raising Godly Children in an Ungodly World by Ken Ham
  • Genesis:  Key to Rebuilding the Foundation in Family Culture by Ken Ham
  • The Power of Praise with our Children by Mike Smith
  • The Origin of the Races by Ken Ham
Saturday looked like this:
  • Keynote: How Do We Measure Success in Homeschooling? by Mike Smith
  • Learning to Think Biblically by Ken Ham
  • How to Reach Today's World with the Christian Message by Ken Ham
  • I'm Not Ashamed of Natural Selection:  Do Animals Change?  by Ken Ham
  • Strengthening Your Marriage by Hal & Melanie Young
During the breaks we strolled the aisles in the Exhibitor Hall exploring the gazillion options available to Home Educators these days.  There are so many that I would thoroughly enjoy, but Goober Gus wouldn't even want to sit down with me to work on them, so they'd be a waste since I've already completed kindergarten!  We did buy a few things and learned about a mission that saves you money on cell phone services and then asks that you use the difference to support orphans in Tijuana.  After we verify motives and legitimacy, we'll be joining that.

We learned of a free movie that can be watched online called Divided.  It appears to be a discussion on the merits of separating youth from their family during church service.  It's something we're exploring, as the Bible does not mention age segregation.  Is it Biblical?

We bought 2 DVD's produced by home educating families, but haven't been able to watch either one yet.  One is the first of a series that uses the Indiana Jones adventurer style to teach character traits with Scriptural reference.

One thing I noticed and wondered how common it is at other state homeschool conferences is that our governor, a US congressman and state senator all showed up to address the audience of approximately 5000.  Does this happen at your homeschool convention? 

Love & Respect: A Book Review

My husband and I attended the Love & Respect seminar a few years ago and having the book around is a wonderful tool to refer to. I especially appreciate the biological approach that shows that men and women are wired differently. That doesn't make one right and the other wrong, it's just different. Dr Eggerichs explains the "crazy cycle" that so many of us fall into and how to stop repeating it so that both husband and wife get what they need from the relationship, bringing about more of what the other needs and turning the crazy cycle into a healthy one.

I also appreciate the Scriptural basis for the logic and reasoning, as Christ is the center of all good marriages. Buy this book and follow its principles and see how your marriage is healed and made better!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Rocky Mountain High

We’ve been in Colorado for the last several days and while we haven’t been at the top of the Rockies at all, we are now staying in the midst of one of the mesas. I believe our elevation is about 6000’ and we’re in a little valley full of rolling, grassy hills with views of higher mountains in the distance. I’m enjoying a rare bit of peace with quiet. Our hosts have taken the majority of this party out fishing. I thought more were staying behind, but I think there are just 3 of us women here. All men, children and a few other moms and young ladies are gone.
This is a stark contrast to last night, when the band Tony came to Colorado to play with set up on the big back porch of our hosts’ home and played for hours to a crowd of close to 100. A temporary dance floor was set up over the gravel driveway; food came from all over-as did the multitude of family members of the hosts. The children were loud, the music louder. Some danced, some chatted, some continued to eat, some played horseshoes, kids played whatever their imaginations could dream up. Those so inclined drank. And drank. And drank some more.
It was the kind of scene that causes me to long for it when seen in a movie or the pages of a magazine. Being in the midst of it was different. My original perspective was one of “how long will this take?” However, once the music started (and not even music that I choose to listen to at home) my discomfort eased a bit into realizing precisely what I just stated-this is the real deal. This is what goes on all across the country when large families gather for good times and good food.
The fact that I am not part of this family and knew not a single one prior to arrival (except one guitarist whom I’d met on one occasion in the past, though would not have recognized him passing him on the street) made it a bit uncomfortable for me. Not for Goober Gus though. He was in heaven with all those kids to play with. They ran all over the upper and lower yards, used a discarded length of plastic to slide down a short dirt hill, teamed up and played spies, danced from time to time and likely all assortment of other childhood activities.

To my credit, I did try to strike up conversations with a few women, but that was a challenge when the music was playing. That challenge was not made any easier by the fact that since this was a family gathering, they all knew each other and already had connections and things to talk about. They probably wondered who this strange lady was at their event. I would have thought the same thing had roles been reversed. I did manage to talk to one woman that homeschooled her 5 children, 2 of which were adopted thru foster care. We got to share a bit about the horrors of the foster care system and the hurdles that families are required to jump prior to adopting a child. The unfairness of the process to the child involved. The struggles that families face when resolving issues created by far less than desirable living conditions that the adopted child was removed from. I felt a bit cheated when she left without saying goodbye.

I thought once night settled in and it was too dark to see that the kids would come down off the hill they were playing on and spend time in the grassy yard next to the band. I was wrong. They got out flashlights and continued to play. Most would run through the crowd from time to time and I kept waiting for Gus to make his appearance. I got a bit distressed when he never did. I thought about trudging up the hill to look for him, but having not been up there with daylight to orient myself, and not having a flashlight of my own, I decided against that approach. I searched for one of the older kids to do my searching for me, but could not find one that was old enough to follow through and return with the desired news. I decided I’d wait until the next band break and have Tony go with me. Just prior to that happening, here comes my sweatshirt-with-the-hood-up wearing son. Crying. Profusely. He’d been playing spies with the older boys of the lead guitarist, they are 10 and 12, I believe, when some of the tween girls came looking for dance partners. Gus was assigned the task of guarding the fort until the boys’ return and also given orders to misdirect any future girls seeking dance partners. Apparently he took his orders quite seriously and patiently waited for more girls to come looking, while also anticipating the return of the boys. But he could wait no longer. It was dark. He was alone. He wasn’t sure how to get back to the crowd, though he obviously figured it out. After holding and comforting him and hearing his loud description of what had happened, amidst great tears, the band took a break. Dad came over to help out. The father of the boys stopped to see what was wrong and was pleased to get the inside scoop on what was happening between the girls and boys. Gus felt sufficiently reinforced to traipse out into the dark woods again. Pondering what had happened, and feeling bad that I hadn’t gone in search of him, it hit me. I think he was more upset over not getting to carry out his orders than he was scared of being left in the dark.
By now it was about 10, but since we’re in DST, really just 9, but past his bedtime either way. I knew I’d never convince him that it was time to go to sleep while there were kids still playing. I began to wonder just how late the other kids would stay up. I then realized that the other kids-or many of them anyway-would be leaving to go home to sleep. Not us. Our bed was scarcely 100’ from the amplified band, if that far even. The reality that getting him to go to bed before the band was done began to sink in. How long would the band play? It was already approaching 11, but by beer drinking, concert going, partiers, that was nothing. I was long past ready for sleep, but also realizing it wouldn’t likely happen while there was music playing. It was about this time, while the band was on another break that my son approaches me and asks when he can go to bed. “Who are you and what have you done with my son?” was my first thought. Gratitude my second. Mixed with a bit of disbelief that I’d even heard what I thought I’d heard. OK, so off to bed it is.
Sleep on the other hand was an entirely different story. The band only played one more set, but that didn’t mean the party-and thus the noise-was over. The last time I checked the clock, it was just after 3AM and there was a crowd of men outside talking-which was OK, but apparently whatever they were talking about was worthy of hearty laughs approximately every 45 seconds. Exhaustion must have finally taken over because I don’t recall anything else until the sun started bringing light to the windows. That had to be 530 or 6, though I didn’t check. I stayed in bed until nearly 9, Gus had been awake for a while and there was no convincing him that it was too early to be up. I learned that hardly anyone else got any sleep either and so didn’t feel singled out. :-)  The plan the night before had been for the guys to leave around 9 to go fishing. They left about 115.

I was eager to get to my book-the one whose first chapter (only 6 pages) I had barely finished the night before, and I started reading it when we checked in to our hotel Wednesday night! The one that I was certain I’d be able to get a great start on, given that I thought I had two entire nights with nothing else to do but read. Yeah right. I joked that I could have had 5 more chapters read had I not been waiting for them to leave prior to opening the book again. Oh well. I did read 3 after they left, amidst a good nap too.
Is there a moral to this story? What I’ve learned is to come prepared for the best. In this case, bringing 4 books (not that I’d finish them all, but to satisfy any mood), a planning notebook, and laptop for blogging, but allowing for unplanned and unforeseen schedule changes and taking advantage of those “un’s”. I’m not so good at the last part. I go to the Murphy’s Law way of thinking and mutter that had I not brought anything to do I’d have far too much free time. The other lesson is to seek out the person in the crowd that appears to be uncomfortable or lonely and ask about their day. I challenge you to do the same, you just might bring a bit of missing joy to that lonely soul.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Before and After

I read a guest post today from Kitchen Stewardship that reminded me a lot of my own food journey so I thought I'd share my story.

If we look at life about two and a half years ago, meal planning consisted of thinking it'd be good to have fish once a week and trying not to have the same type of meat twice in a row-in other words beef, pork, chicken, lather, rinse, repeat.  We ate out several nights a week, as well as every Sunday after church.  Fast food was a regular part of our diet.  I tried to make sure we got a variety of foods but that was about the extent of making healthy choices.

Had you told me then that just about everything we eat would be made from scratch-by me-I would have laughed literally out loud.  Yeah, I enjoyed cooking and baking, but not to the point of making bread on a regular basis or homemade crackers.  I baked cookies when we were in the mood, not because it was a better choice health wise.  Probably the biggest reason for my disbelief would have been that I just don't have the energy to do all that cooking and baking.

In January of 2009 my chiropractor suggested that I have adrenal fatigue.  I'd never heard of it, but a bit of research lined everything up.  A bit more research and we started applying a few changes:
  1. Bought baby chicks so we could have farm fresh eggs (then added two adults because we didn't want to wait!)
  2. Discovered how expensive raw milk is and decided to buy a couple of goats to have our own fresh, raw, milk.
  3. Learned to make yogurt and chevre with the raw milk.
  4. Eliminated HFCS and hydrogenated fats.
  5. Added coconut oil.
  6. Reduced sugar intake (refined white).
  7. Cut back on fast food consumption.
  8. Started trying to buy non factory farmed meat.
  9. Learned to milk a cow that didn't want to be milked.
  10. Began following the Dirty Dozen/Clean 15 system for buying produce.
  11. Began trying to avoid GMO's.
  12. Discovered son was sensitive to food chemicals and started avoiding them.
  13. Learned that I'd have to make a lot of things from scratch to keep from eating foods with chemicals.
    1. Cookies
    2. Ice cream
    3. Crackers (wheat thin style)
    4. Bread
    5. Sour Cream
    6. Buttermilk
    7. Graham Crackers
    8. Granola type bars
    9. Marshmallows (who can give up s'mores??)
    10. Meatballs
    11. Bread crumbs
    12. Mayo
    13. Ketchup
    14. Tomato sauce
    15. Granola
    16. Toothpaste
    17. Mouthwash
    18. Laundry soap
    19. Deodorant
    20. Dishwashing soap
    21. Insect repellent
    22. Household cleaners
  14. Stopped enjoying eating out-the flavor just isn't there when you no longer eat processed foods all the time.
  15. Realized that I've come a long way when I cringe at nearly everything available away from home and when others point out how much I do.
No wonder I'm still tired all the time!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Books and Clutter

You may be wondering how these go together.  Or maybe you already know.  In my house, books are treasured.  Not always read, but still treasured.  Their mere presence can cause two types of clutter:  physical and mental.  The space they take up, especially with a young child, can be overwhelming in a small house.  Goober Gus has 5 plastic bins for storing books-I got this idea from an organizational book I read.  Pre-readers can't tell what book it is from the spine, so storing them the way a library does on a shelf causes angst for them and the one who has to put them back after that child has moved all to the floor to get to the desired book.  This method has worked well, we've just run out of bins and places to put them.  I also try to have a specific place for library books to be kept so it's easier to find them when they're due back.

Well, that's all good until even that space is overrun with more books.  A good friend is in charge of the library book sale and she regularly gives me "special admission" to the sale on non-sale days to preview new donations.  So yeah, the spot for library books technically is holding library books, just ones that don't have to be returned because we've bought them.

Then there's my books.  I try not to buy books that I won't use again in the future, such as fiction.  I also prefer to check a book out from the library before purchasing just to be sure I like it and will refer to it regularly.  There are times though, that I just can't pass up a bargain even if I haven't read it (or at least perused it) to be sure I want to add it to my collection.  I have boxes of books in storage.  You're probably wondering why in the world I'd have books in boxes?  Simple.  We were supposed to be in this house temporarily while we built elsewhere.  That's no longer a plan and I don't have any place to unpack those books.  It will be like Christmas when I do finally get to unpack those boxes!  There are 2 that I miss, The Power of a Praying Wife and The Power of a Praying Parent.  If I could easily access the boxes I'd get them out, but that's not the case.

That covers the physical clutter, now on to the mental clutter.  Time.  Time to read these wonderful books and make good use of them.  I started to clear out and clean a space in our entertainment center that is home to a few books, some scrapbook materials, a beautiful tea set I bought two years ago at a yard sale (and have never used) and office supplies (a whole different love affair).  The books here I haven't even thought about for a long time and most were acquired while I was involved with MOPS.  I was going to sell or give them away.  Then I started looking thru them and realized I need to reread some.  I've been feeling a bit dry spiritually lately and was about to order a devotional book to give me something to focus on, then realized that at least 5 of these can fill that need. 

But when?  Most of my non computer screen reading happens in the moments before bed and I prefer that not be anything to keep me awake thinking.  Oddly enough, I got up close to 90 minutes earlier today than usual, just to have a few moments to read my Bible and pray before taking on the day.  I got dressed and went outside to release the chickens and feed the goats.  Guess who walked outside 2 hours before his normal time?  Yep.  So much for a few minutes to read and pray.  I'll never understand or figure out how kids know the days to get up early when parents want them to sleep in.  He'll easily sleep until 830 or 9 most days and was up at 630 this morning.

But I digress.  My daily schedule needs some shaking up anyway, so perhaps adding in some reading breaks would clear the mental clutter of having all these wonderful books that I want to read but don't.  How do you squeeze in reading time?

These are the ones I don't want anymore.  See one you'd like?  Let's make a deal!  Books for Sale
Adding these to my devotional time.  Got suggestions for more?  Devotionals