Friday, June 29, 2012

Summer Camping Trip

We love to go camping every summer, some years we get to go frequently, but lately we have only gotten to go for one long week, then a weekend. Our week we just got done with.
Here are my boys at the beach

Here they are looking at the baby bullheads

Here's Lore with his new obsession, he's now taken to fishing at every available moment

After going camping, we hit the batting cages. Tim (who never played baseball,) took a turn in the cage. We broke the aluminum bat. We couldn't stop laughing!!

So that was our big vacation week for the summer. I'll have to post soon on my camping philosophy and food.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


This last weekend my eldest son was confirmed, as was my eldest niece. We have such a large family that we took up 1/3 of the church! It was such a blessing of a day.
Here is Levi with all of his grandparents (minus one great great grandma who couldn't make it.)
Here are Levi and Alia
Sometimes they act a bit more like brother and sister than cousins!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Pathfinders/D&D- What we do for our kids

I love my boys. They are getting older and really not wanting to do any of the "fun" stuff that I try to get them to do. (Making bird feeders, painting crafts, baking, etc...) So what is a mom to teen/tweens to do? I didn't know, so I asked them. They expressed that they would like me to play Pathfinder with them. This is something they just started doing with the neighbor kids.
What is Pathfinder? Well, my kids have a long explanation, but it's basically a Role Playing Game like Dungeons and Dragons. Something I figured I would never play.
I have not played it yet. I was told step one is to create a character. So I have this long sheet to fill out. Having never played it before I am a bit overwhelmed as I don't know what to pick for certain things. I'm just trying to roll with it. There is a little spot for a picture. YIPEE! This I can do. So I doodled a little character picture. Then the kids said, that doesn't look anything like the player piece you get. I looked at my player piece and I didn't like it one bit. So again, back into my comfort zone, I made my own player piece out of Shrinky Dinks. I free hand drew it, but I took a lot of inspiration from a few different artist pics I found online, so though I did draw it, it's not really original.

Dwarf Cleric Piece

I'll have to let you know how playing actually goes.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Menu Plan 4/16/2012 - Yogurt slow cooker recipe

I have to admit planning meals has become quite a chore. My husband has been gone since the first of the year only coming home for about a day each weekend. My boys are all tween/teens and are spending far less time home at meal time. We do try to eat together every night, but honestly it's becoming far more of starting with 2 or three of us, then some leaving early and others coming in late. I am also realizing I'm in real trouble when the boys move out. I cook for an army! I cook for extra leftovers, lunches, freezing, etc.. I really don't need to be planning as many meals as I do. We have been consistently skipping at least one of these meals if not two just trying to use up enough leftovers. So here's the plan.

Monday- Chicken Ravioli with Alfredo sauce, lettuce salads, garlic bread
Tuesday- Swedish Meatballs, steamed green beans with almonds, garlic noodles
Wednesday- Chicken Lo Mein w/Vegetable Eggrolls
Thursday- Leftovers
Friday- Kids & hubby gone, out with friends
Saturday- Kids & hubby gone probably junk food!
Sunday- Cranberry Kale, Macaroni and cheese (with bean puree)

I am planning on making some cookies this week to freeze for the boys' lunches. I haven't done that in awhile, and they've noticed!
Last week's biggest success was I made yogurt for the first time. I made it in the crock pot, and I will NEVER buy yogurt again! It's amazing. The recipe I used was from a website that I can't seem to find at the moment (I will update when I do find it.) But it couldn't have been easier.

Slow cooker Yogurt

Slow cooker Yogurt
Large slow cooker - Mine is 7qt.
1 gallon whole milk
1 cup yogurt (you need this for the bacteria, I also read you can use whey also)Plain with live cultures and no added pectin
Coffee filters or something for straining (I have special flour sack towels for this)
Large towel (I used bathtowel)

Sweeteners/Vanilla etc.. if desired (I made plain, because that's what I buy)

Place milk in slow cooker cook on low for 2.5 hours.
Turn off and unplug for 3 hours.
Whisk in 1 cup of yogurt, cover slow cooker with large towel for 8 hours or overnight. Strain whey from yogurt. I put my flour sack towel in a colander over a large bowl. It took some work and time. I had to scrape it frequently to get the whey moving. I tried to use coffee filters, but they kept breaking, so I went to the towel. I made mine nice and thick, greek style.
It made 48oz thick yogurt and a large canning jar of whey. This can easily be halved (it was on the original recipe I used.) Times stay the same.

I am currently finding lots of things to do with whey. I've been throwing it in juice and smoothies. My kids are enjoying it because they love YoJ, but I never buy it for them, and they think the juice with whey tastes like YoJ.

The Prarie Homestead has lots of uses for whey. I'm working my way through them slowly.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Menu Plan 4/4/2012- Do you hide nutritious food?

Do you hide food from your kids? I do and I don't. Growing up my mom always stretched ground beef by adding oatmeal. I do that too. I have always added chopped veggies to everything. I don't really hide them, it's not a secret from my children though. At least not until yesterday.

Our biggest weakness as a family is queso dip. By far not good for you. It's like crack for us. I'm just as guilty. Last night I had an epiphany, white bean puree! My eldest son HATES beans of any kind. He grumbles and argues. He feels I ruin most foods by making them better for him. I am now one of those sneaky moms. I pureed a cup of white beans, mixed it with what was left of the evil queso dip, and NOBODY KNEW!! Yes, we're still eating evil queso, but it's at least a little bit better for us right?

Well, I assumed it was a fluke, but necessity reared it's head today. I was making Lasagna Soup (recipe coming soon) my boys don't care for ricotta, they prefer when I make lasagna with cottage cheese, but I was low on cottage cheese, so I pureed about 1.5 cups of navy beans with the cottage cheese I had, some salt and pepper, and some Parmesan cheese. Again, NOBODY KNEW! It really got me thinking of all the creamy cheesy foods that the kids and hubby love. What if I replace some of the evil with pureed beans? More protein and fiber, less fat. I will be trying this out and I'll let you know how it works out.

Menu Plan
Monday- Meatloaf, baked potatoes, steamed asparagus, lettuce salad
Tuesday- Lasagna Soup (recipe coming soon)
Wednesday- Rotisserie Chicken (got a new rotisserie so we'll have to give it a try), grilled potatoes, broccoli & cauliflower
Thursday- Pot roast sliders, spinach salad, quinoa pilaf
Friday- lunch- chicken pot pie supper- Pizzas
Saturday- lunch- leftovers supper- cabbage rolls
Sunday- brunch out supper- cheese fondue w/spinach salads

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Rainbow Unicorn Cake

Unicorn rainbow cake

My little Liam is officially a teenager. He is so cute and funny! Here is a couple of pictures of his cake. This was the 3rd attempt at this cake. Liam is a bit cursed when it comes to cakes. The first attempt was sat on... (don't ask) The second one I did really late at night on zero sleep, and I must have doubled or tripled the baking soda, so it wasn't good at all. This one was great. It tasted so moist and fabulous! He loved it!

rainbow unicorn cake

Monday, February 27, 2012

Menu Plan Monday 2/27

Well, some hits and some misses last week. The squash lasagna, which I thought was amazing, my kids didn't like at all. I wrote the recipe down, but I'm looking for someone else to try it before I post it, cuz who wants to post a cruddy recipe?!? My hubby will be home for a day this week, so I'll try to get him to taste it.
Cottage pie is always a hit with my family. Meat with gravy and veg smothered in potatoes. Yep, it's what my family would always eat if they had the choice.

Here's this week's menu;
Monday- Orange Chicken with quinoa and a steamed stir fry vegetables
Tuesday- Scrambled Eggs W/French toast made out of English Muffin Bread
Wednesday- I'm bringing a huge batch of Sausage, Kale & Bean Soup to church for our Lenten Soup Supper.
Thursday- Turkey Burgers or Bean Burgers w/potato salad
Friday- Beef Stroganoff

For more meal plans check out

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesdays

Well, we made our official decisions over dinner.
I will be giving up Facebook games (though I will try to minimize my other ideas from my last post)
Levi will be giving up invading personal space
Liam will be giving up soda and juice
Lore will be giving up his pillow and also utensils (except chopsticks)
Tim is out of town for work, so we haven't heard his yet.

My children pick their own items to give up. Once in a while we veto, but these are their own
What are you all giving up?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Do you give something up for Lent?

My family is not the typical family that you would expect gives something up for Lent. We're not Catholic. Not all of us are all that religious in general (though some are.) However, we always give something up for Lent. We have for as long as I can remember.

So why give something up at all if it's not because you "HAVE" to? Well, it's nice once a year to re-examine your life and see where your vices, addictions, or distractions lie. Then see if you can live with out them, even if for a short time. It opens you up to new experiences and opens your heart/life up to let other items in. Be it God, spirituality, family, exercise, healthy habits, meditation, whatever. Though many people go by the honor system and be their own personal Lent police, we choose a charity as a family and any slips we have to put a quarter in the jar. Then at the end of Lent we give the money to that charity. (We have another jar where throughout Lent any money we find gets put into this and donated to our charity also.)

We'll be having our family meeting tonight to declare what we are giving up for Lent. I personally haven't decided yet. Last year I gave up soda. Now I only drink about 1/2 of a soda a month. I'm considering giving up;
  • Facebook games. I do catch myself playing those a bit too much.
  • Multi-tasking. This one would be really hard, but good to fully pay attention to each item of my life. No talking on the phone- making dinner- checking homework- signing permission slips all at the same time.
  • Pinterest- enough said for those who enjoy it
  • Sitting on the sofa- I know this one sounds weird, but my husband and I have "our spots" at night and both are on the sofa. I think getting off the sofa and changing things up would be interesting.

So are you giving something up? What?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Meal Plan Monday 2/20/2012

Last week we did pretty well sticking to our meal plan. Let's hope we do again this week!
Monday- Spaghetti w/ meat sauce and garlic bread
Tuesday- Cottage Pie from freezer
Wednesday- Squash Lasagna
Thursday- Tacos
Friday- Homemade Pizzas
Saturday- We have chess tournaments all day and so we'll bring chicken salad, veggies, grapes, popcorn, Liam's "crack" (it's ranch oyster crackers) and pickled carrots.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Meal Plan Monday 2/13

Sausage Bean & Greens Soup by ezri_b
Sausage Bean & Greens Soup, a photo by ezri_b on Flickr.

Ok, so I normally meal plan once a week anyway, I figured why not share it here. I love getting ideas for my meal plan from other blogs, and it's a way for me to keep track of our eating habits.

Monday- Sausage Bean & Greens Soup (recipe below)

Tuesday- BBQ Chicken Legs with Roasted Beets

Wednesday- Reuben Ravioli (winging it, no recipe yet)

Thursday- Crustless Quiche

Friday- Homemade Pizzas

Saturday- Orange/Honey Chicken on rice

Sunday- Potluck at Church

Before I post the recipe I feel the need to explain how I cook. I don't follow recipes. I don't measure, and I rarely make the exact thing twice. I use what's in my fridge or garden. I taste and see if it needs a "little of this or a little of that." So all of these "recipes" are guidelines. Don't feel limited, just use what you have.

Sausage, Bean, & Greens Soup (sort of recipe) Serves: about 12 main dish
1 large diced onion
3 diced celery stalks
2 diced carrots
2 large handfuls of diced hearty greens (today I used beet greens, but I use kale frequently too)
1 T coconut oil (any oil/butter that you like works) * only if you go vegetarian or have a very low fat sausage
1 diced sausage (we had a large smoked beef sausage that I diced up, but I've used turkey sausage with great results.)
2 15 oz cans great northern beans drained and rinsed
48 oz chicken broth
2 T flour
1/4 c milk/cream *optional
salt and pepper
favorite herbs (I used thyme and marjoram)

Brown up you sausage in large pot, then set aside. Cook vegetables in drippings until soft (if you don't have drippings add a bit of oil/butter)
Once vegetables are soft add flour and cook on low. Add milk/cream and broth. Bring to a low boil. Add remaining ingredients. Continue cooking on low until everything is warm through.

This is great because you can use up pretty much any veggies you have laying around. Also if you have some leftover barley, rice, etc... go ahead and throw it in.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Angry Birds Valentines

Angry Birds Valentines
Well, it is most likely my last year for school Valentines. My youngest is in 5th grade, once in middle school they really don't do anything for Valentine's Day anymore. So my son wanted Angry Birds. We found some simple Valentine cards online from Angry Birds. Then, to add candy, we put stickers on the bottoms of Hershey Kisses. Bagged, tagged, and ready to go!

Angry Birds Valentines

Monday, February 6, 2012

Time, Money, & Need

Laundry Sorting
(This is real laundry, no "staging" was done on these pictures)

I like many others see these amazing blog pictures with gorgeous projects, lovely dream homes. I dream of implementing many of these ideas and having these picture perfect homes too.

I have been really wanting a lovely laundry room and have been wanting for about a year to make this:

but I just haven't had the time or money or ambition.

Then I was walking through Target with my husband and we saw these shelves on sale. I ran over to the laundry basket section grabbed 6 and went to see if they fit. They did and I had 2 shelves to spare. Now I know that this isn't "picture perfect" but it works way better than my system did before, and it didn't cost me as much money as the lovely dressers. I got the shelves for $35 and 6 baskets for $3.50 each. Total cost $56 and I have room for our paint, vinegar (cleaner), caulk, etc. on the bottom shelf and detergent, bleach, dryer sheets & balls on another shelf. Yes, I hope to make it a little nicer looking, but guess what it works and I love it!

Do you ever have these unattainable dreams from looking at different blogs? Do you find yourself putting things off so until you can make it "perfect?"