Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Green Bean Fries!

Photo from because my photo didn't work.  The beans kept being--well--eaten.
This recipe is very simple.

Toss green beans with olive oil, sea salt and black pepper.  Roast in 350 degree oven until lightly crunchified.  Eat like french fries.  Yummy!!!  They don't last long in our house!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Decorating For Fall

Our fireplace this fall.

It's been so fun to get ready for autumn.  It really is my favorite season, and I love to celebrate the beautiful gourds and colorful corn that grows so abundantly.  Do you decorate your hearth for the holidays or different seasons? 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Holiday Plan: Week #5!!

Wahoo!  91 Days left until Christmas.  I'm excited.  Even better?  78 days until little munchkin #4 is supposed to arrive!! 

Week #5 is supposed to be to prepare a guest room.  I will definitely be doing that, as I will be having my mother and mother-in-law (separately) staying with us while I adjust to having another little one around.  Humorously, in my house that means cleaning up the office...again.  Because the futon that folds down into a full bed is in there.  But I'll have sheets ready, and pillows, and the bathroom stocked for them so that all they (and I) have to worry about when they come is spending time with munchkins #1, #2 & #3 while #4 arrives. 

I'm so excited!!

Bread, Glorious Bread

The bread, rising early in the morning.  What a wonderful smell.

So, I was asked to bake for the kids' Fall Festival Bake Sale.  It wasn't a huge task, but I also knew I didn't want to be making messy cupcakes!  So, I decided on whole grain breads.  I made 8 loaves for sale.  

Cooling off...

The house smelled sooo good when I was done.  They sold quickly, but I was happy to see them go to satisfied customers.  

All dolled up and ready to be sold!  

Thursday, September 22, 2011

So Busy!

This week has been a blast and a half, I tell ya!

I've been prepping to teach my son's 3rd grade class's art appreciation segment, and I'm a little sad that I only get 15 minutes this week because we're supposed to study Raphael's School of Athens, which has so much technique and so many different known mathematicians and scientists and philosophers in it that we could study it for months and not be done!

I also teach reading in my daughter's 1st grade class once a week, one on one--not the whole group.  See?  In the time I took to teach these classes, my kids would be done with their work for the day!  Oh well...we're helping multiple little people this year. 

Our family is (OK, I'm) baking seeded loaves of bread for the bake sale that will take place at the school's Fall Festival.  The kids are excited because I let them buy the wristbands that make all the outdoor rides unlimited (we're talking about climbing walls, bouncy houses, sumo-wrestling, bungee racing, etc...very exciting for them).  And during all of this fun activity I had that wonderful glucose test that makes every pregnant woman everywhere sick. Why yes I'd love to drink nauseating sugar-syrup and then have you poke me with needles!  Thank you for offering!  Blech.

And pack meeting was last night--my boy came with me!  He'll be 8 next week, and is excited to jump in on the fun.  We did service for families in the neighborhood for the activity--fall yard work for those that can't.  And then came home and did ours.  We had a great time, and it was wonderful to see those little scouts do service for their neighbors and learn what it is like to take care of another human being.

Did I mention we also preserved 14 dozen ears of corn?  Nothing like putting things away for the winter!  Some of them were cross bred sweet corn with Indian corn, so it's very pretty.  We kept those on the cob and plan on serving the multi-colored corn on the cob for Thanksgiving.  I still haven't made the apricot jam.  I'm slacking, I know.

Then tonight, I get to go to a class on making your homeschool more exciting (not that ours was boring, in all actuality, I'm just uber-happy that there will be around 40 other homeschooling mothers there--you know, in case I uh, decide that we're going to homeschool again.)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Christmas Planning--Week 4!'s been FOUR WEEKS?!?

That means that the children have been in school for four weeks (and I'm learning to roll with it, but haven't started to love it yet...), my tot and I have been heading to story time for three weeks, and my house is...well, a bit more organized. 

Last week, my master bedroom didn't become a haven.  I did keep the laundry in there clean, and the clothes that I miss are in a box while I wear things that sort of flatter my motherly figure.  BUT, the bedframe I wanted was SOLD OUT on all of the websites I shopped on, and then I decided to go to a consignment sale and buy some baby things--which I stuck in the master bedroom because, ummm, well I don't have a nursery in this house (phew, a good excuse!).

This week is called Close to Home Week, where you work on things that matter close to home such as your children's bedrooms, playrooms, and messes that keep piling up.  In all my coolness, I plan to do my kids' laundry for them today (yes, I make my 8 & 6 year old do their own, under my supervision--of course!) while they are at school.  Giving them a bit of a break so we can do other things in the evenings together.  I wonder if they'll notice that it's done...

Monday, September 12, 2011


It's only Monday afternoon, and I've finished
  • Two freezer lasagnas
  • Two freezer enchiladas
  • One package of frozen hot sausage dip for Christmas!
No, I didn't take pictures...I flew through my work, and now I'm going to go fill in in my daughter's 1st grade class.  Being MOM rocks.

Meal Plan Monday

So far, so good!  We've had a great week, and I think it'll get even better.

Sunday:  Peanut chicken over rice, yellow zucchini
Monday: Sausage, potato, kale soup.  Bread
Tuesday: Chicken enchiladas with green sauce
Wednesday: Fridge clean out!
Thursday: Squash bake
Friday: Pasta with left over veggies.

Week Three: Me & Mine Week

I'm quite excited about this week, due to the fact that I dislike the idea of having a messy bedroom, but yet, use my bedroom as the dumping ground for everything not organized as I clean up the rest of the house.  I love the premise of having a calm place to go, even when things are crazy--and we all know that things might be a bit crazy with the holidays over-lapping with new baby #4!!! Those of you following the Christmas plan know there are 104 days til Christmas as of this morning (yippee!), but hopefully, I've only got 92 days until the ball starts rolling! 

Some of my thoughts for the week:

Make a few make ahead meals: 
Chicken enchiladas

Turn part of the apricots into fruit leather rather than all jam--we made zucchini leather this week with cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg!  It was so good, and I felt great sending extra veggies to school rather than a candy in the lunchbox.

Actually follow the room clean-up plan.  There are some great coupons to the craft stores in our area out this week (50% off here, 40% off there), and so I hope to take the time to make our room better.  I might even invest in a bed frame!  See, we bought a great mattress, but it's still on the floor...
Perhaps like this one?
Queen Size Quad-Fold Folding Bed Frame
I really want to paint the bedroom set we bought at a thrift store ($190 for a high boy, vanity, and two night stands!) but I realize that we'll be moving within a year, and if I can hold off, I can prevent having to do touch-up paint.  So, I'm waiting...and that's OK.  Plus, sanding and paint fumes during pregnancy is supposedly a no-no... But maybe...nah, I really can wait.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Organized Christmas: Week 3!!

I must say that though I didn't follow the plan word for word, having it on my mind definitely is making a difference.  This week, in spite of a fender-bender & a holiday, I was still able to get a few things done, such as:

  • Switch my older daughter's small dresser with the one we had in storage (that is larger), to give the small one to the baby.
  • Take the non-maternity clothes out of my drawers.
  • Go yard-saling with winter clothing in mind, rather than haphazardly.
  • Plan my meals.
  • Thank about the craft box.  No...I didn't actually get to it.
  • Buy a snazzy, large, RECTANGULAR basket at a yard sale to put the cloth diapers in (for 75 CENTS!!)
  • Took my munchkin to the library with extra reading in mind (for all the children, not just her pre-school stuff).  I brought home many fall-themed books, and will continue to try to make each week a reading theme.  It's gone really well.
  • Gone house hunting!  
  • Read a majority of the book  The Millionaire Next Door: Surprising Secrets of America's Wealthy.  I've read it before, back when we were college students and were deciding whether to take out more loans or have me stay home with the children and be a cloth-diapering, gardening mama!  This book influenced me quite a bit (perhaps you can tell?), and now that we have graduated (one of us with a B.S. Bus, the other with a Ph.D (and all the other degrees that come along the way with that)), it was time to look at the book from a different point of view.
    I'm very glad I did, especially as we house hunt!  FYI:  I also enjoy Millionaire Women Next Door: The Many Journeys of Successful American Businesswomen.  I think if you read it, you'd be surprised!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Cucumbers have taken over my house...HELP!

Just a quick post to say I don't think we'll be sticking to our meal plan.  We have had a lot of produce given to us, and so my frozen ingredients are going to stay that way, and these fresh ones are going to fill our bellies.  However, I need some cucumber ideas that you have USED and your children have LIKED.  My kiddos are quickly becoming non-fans of the cucumber/onion/vinegar salad.

We're going to try cucumber lemonade tomorrow, as well as cucumber soup.  And I might dice one into our fresh salsa (oh, yeah, the tomatoes...and I'm not in the mood to can them right now...I've still got jam and jelly to make!).  Tomato sandwiches, cucumber sandwiches...Whew!

OK, people--start brainstorming...NOW!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Meal Plan...Tuesday

Monday:  Chili & Whole wheat drop biscuits (see below--they're super easy!)
Tuesday:  Baked potatoes, chili, sour cream, cheddar, cucumber salad
We're making homemade huckleberry ice cream after!
Wednesday: Chopped mixed veggies, rice, chicken
Thursday:  Corn chowder
Friday:  Chicken enchiladas
Saturday:  Left Overs
Sunday: Crockpot cranberry chicken over mashed potatoes

Whole Wheat Drop Biscuits

2 C whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp baking powder
4 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 C milk

Mix together.  Plop into 12 spots on baking sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes (til tops brown).  Serve warm!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Huckleberry Picking!

As promised, I am posting photos of our hunt in the wilderness for huckleberries!  Idaho huckleberries, because they are amazing in flavor.  They also cost $50/lb if you ever try to buy them, because it really is a hunting trip for them.  And once you find a patch, it'll still take you hours to fill a bucket of those tiny, delicious wild-growing berries.  I realize you can cultivate huckleberries...but the flavor does not compare to a wild one.  Not at all. Here are some highlights of our trip:
The kids helping pick.

A little distracted...

Me!  Picking those at a time...

There were lots this year!

We got 12 cups in 3 hours.  Phew!

And threw in a little playtime.
 Next time...well post on how to turn these berries into one of my sweet husband's favorite ice-creams!  Huckleberry Pie.

Week 2: Calendar and Creativity Week

This week should be a lot of fun.  Organizing crafts, cleaning out the craft box (I used to toss stuff, but I think this year, I'm going to give the stuff I don't want to use to a craft box for the kids to use).  It says to plan the activities for the next few months, and I'm already ahead of the game.  I bought a big calendar on Amazon (this one)
2011 Big Plans Wall Calendar

And I've filled in all the days the kids have off school, all my baby appointments (glucose test this month, ug!), and days that we HAVE to be somewhere.  This week I'll add the things we want to do, like taking our son on a short trip for his 8th birthday, planning his baptism, park days, holiday visits (I made our extended family agree to a Thanksgiving dinner here at our house earlier in the month!), house hunting appointments, and so on.  I think I'm going to start up a pinterest page as well, as I'm already addicted to the ideas, so I might as well share them.  Oh, and then, perhaps some more Christmas shopping...because...well...  Well, c'mon...who doesn't love to spread out a good reason to go shopping over several months?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Week 2 Begins: So, How'd It Go?

Honestly?  I made large dents in my to-do list.  Did I do everything?  No.  I took naps.  Muahaha.  However, I still did a lot, and was still able to read to my toddler, help the older two with homework, and get some sunshine (because what good is fall if there is no sunshine played in?)  Autumn is my favorite season of all, and I couldn't resist putting up some decorations today, even though it doesn't officially start until the 21st.  There will probably not be as much done as I hoped, because I live where I see things like this once Sept. hits:

These aren't my handiwork.  I just typed in the name of the city I live in, and this is what comes up on Google Images.  Amazing though, and they capture it very well.  I love it, and plan on being out in it.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Oh No!

Currants on the vine...mine are in the freezer...

So, as I was putting the frozen meatballs into baggies and back into the freezer, I made a discovery:  There were MORE currants.  I guess I'm not done making jelly.  It's OK, though.  This time, due to already having some jelly made that set, I can experiment myself using the juice to see if cutting the sugar still allows it to set.  I'm kind of excited about the prospect. 

My mother-in-law also told me that huckleberries are ready (Idaho huckleberries, so we'll have to drive a bit because we don't live in Idaho), but we haven't had a good harvest of those in years, so guess what I'm doing this weekend?  I'll take pictures...sadly, I can't send taste via blog.  They are so good, and the only good ones grow wild on the mountain side.  The cultivated ones are tasteless in comparison.  THEN, she informed me that choke cherries will be on soon after!  And I have ZERO choke cherry syrup in my pantry for the winter.  And I LOVE choke cherry syrup on pancakes...soooo, I'll go back again.  And pick.  And can. 

I'm quite happy my little boy isn't due until winter.  The others all came in the early fall or spring, and those are times when there is much to do.  I'm excited that the others will have 3 weeks off school for the holidays when he comes, and we can just be together.  I've cancelled all holiday parties (except for small gatherings at our home, with plenty of holiday food), so we can just be together, getting to know our newest addition. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday, Friday, Friday!

I love Fridays.  Especially since the kids have started school--they come home earlier, it's a no homework day, and it starts off our weekend wonderfully!  I don't think I could ever adequately explain how much I miss them while they are gone. 

Today, I actually need to RE CLEAN my desk again.  I thought it'd be easier to keep clean after I'd gotten rid of a bunch of things, but things keep coming.  My toddler continues to draw pictures (which I love, really), paperwork comes home from school, bills come in (thank heaven I already have the habit of immediately paying them...but then I let the envelope and leftover paper sit there--WHY?!?). Right now, there are a bunch of coupons I will probably not use sitting here by my keyboard.  So, off I go!  Of course, there's also the usual laundry and kitchen clean up (and those apricots are still calling my name...).

And, as for the Holiday Plan, I realize that wardrobe week isn't until week 6, but I'm going to have to do a little tweaking because at 26 weeks, my other clothes don't fit any more and I'll have to give in and take them out of my drawers (they are sitting folded nicely in the drawers and all the maternity clothes I've been wearing are in piles on top of the dresser.  What a mess!) Also, though wardrobe week is supposed to be a time when I go in and make sure the kids' cold weather clothes are available, the chilly morning we had this morning tells me that I might want to go ahead and get the sweaters out--even if they take them off by noon.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Thursday's Work

So, this morning I got up and took my own advice.  I prepped dinner and made meals for the future but DID NOT cook the meat--just froze it.  This morning's endeavor was making two meatloaves and 54 meatballs.  I use the term "meat" loosely, as there is a lot of veggie goodness in that loaf!

I don't follow a recipe, though there are some good ones in a book I got from the library named Once-A-Month Cooking, Revised and Expanded: A Proven System for Spending Less Time in the Kitchen and Enjoying Delicious, Homemade Meals Every Day

My mixture this morning used up a bit of our summer produce.  Here it is, if you'd like to try it.

4 lbs of lean ground beef
1 C old fashioned oats (quick oats would work as well, but not instant)
1 bunch of celery, diced very finely (I used my Bosch mixer with attachments for all chopping, blending, and shredding in this recipe.  The whole endeavor went very quickly).
1 medium zucchini, shredded finely
Blended/pureed: 1 onion, 1 head of garlic, some spinach, 1 tomato
Crumbled the last 1/10 of a loaf of whole wheat bread
4 eggs
Adobo seasoning
black pepper crushed

Put all ingredients into mixer, using bread hook, mix well.  Alternatively, get your hands dirty and smoosh it all together, but I like my method better.  ;)

Separate mixture into two loaves of your liking, and make the rest into meatballs.  I chose to freeze one loaf and all of the meatballs.  One loaf will be dinner tonight, along with the potatoes I already diced (which I'll boil and turn into smashed spuds with butta!)

The currant/tart cherry jelly is complete!  The tiny jars will be gifts (if you get one, and you read this...well, you know the work that went into it and how much I must love you.  *wink*).  And a big thank you to my mother-in-law who let me borrow her steam juicer to speed up the process.  I started out with the cheesecloth/squish 'em method, and it was taking forever!

I followed a recipe in the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving.  It was a bit sweet for me, though others in the house like it.  I wanted to cut back on sugar, but I've never made jelly before, and I didn't know if cutting the sugar would inhibit the setting process, or if the pectin does all the work and therefore less sugar can be used.  If you know, leave me a comment, would you?  I'd love to make this again, with more berry--less sweet.

Adapted from: Currant Jelly Recipe (Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving).  My addition is tart cherry juice, as we didn't quite have enough currants for a double recipe.

5 C currant juice
7 C sugar
1 packet liquid pectin

Bring to high boil (make sure all sugar is dissolved).  Bottle in hot jars with hot lids.  Process ten minutes in boiling water bath. 

Wednesday--Hmmm, is this Day Three? Or Four?

It's Wednesday, how did the Holiday Plan go?  Well, here I vacuumed the LR, mopped the K floor, and folded about 5 loads of laundry (and I put them away!  Huzzah!).   We also went to the town 15 minutes away to pick up our weekly basket of produce (this guy is great!  He only plants things that you can seed save from, heirloom varieties, and allows us to have canning quantities if we want them--all for $15/week!)  I read books with my toddler, made muffins, and researched batch cooking. I'm not sure I'm sold on it standbys, like making meatloaf & meatballs ahead of time (but not cooking them) are OK, but Stephen and I both notice if meat has been cooked then frozen.  It tastes different, and not in a good way.  But we have picky taste buds.  I can see chopping the veggies and having them ready, but how is that different than buying frozen bags of vegetables?  I mean, other than these came from our garden... It's not that much faster than what I do now.  And I like my baked goods fresh.  I tried the whole making 6 loaves of bread at once, freezing 5 and thawing at leisure thing...I wanted hot bread.  Picky, picky.  I know.  But, I mean, isn't the point of having someone at home supposed to be quality of life?  If quality of life decreases due to busy-ness at certain times of day, and there isn't a good fix for it, something's gotta go!  It might be better when there are two parents here again, as my husband usually works from home and can do half the work at 5/6 PM that I've been doing alone (cooking, homework, toddler care, etc).

I'm going to have to brainstorm, because I need the extra time at the end of the day with the kids...I have free time during the day, but dinner time is rushed, and I don't like that.  I'm tempted to homeschool again for that reason alone!!!  However, as my dear friend told me to do today...I will give it time, in case it's just adjustment anxt.