Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Children; Blessings or Burdens?

Yesterday I read a post by Laura at Heavenly Homemakers.  A reader, struggling with when to start a family, asked the question, "Why are kids a blessing?"  You can click on the link to read the article in it's entirety, but the comment of her's that hit me the hardest was this one: "I know that the Bible says that children are a blessing from God but honestly sometimes I look at my friends with babies and think, 'Honey, you don't look blessed, you look haggard and tired'."  Well, that's putting it out there clear as crystal, isn't it?  Laura did a good job answering the question, and many of her readers also commented.

While there may be nothing we can do to keep from looking run down occasionally (I have flash backs of the time 3 of our 4 girls and hubby, all contracted chicken pox when I was 8 mos. pregnant with T.Lynn), there is much we can do about the over-all perception we give others with regard to motherhood.  The whole thing made me think that we need to always be mindful of what we say.  I've mentioned on the blog before that one of the things I disliked about our previous church was the number of women milling around, constantly complaining about their children.  Don't get me wrong, I complain about mine from time to time, and I'm all about not sugar-coating stuff, so I would never lead a woman to believe that being a mother was all about sweetness and light, nursery rhymes and cuddle time, and sweet baby kisses.  Oh, my heavens no; I agree with Laura; it's hard, exhausting, frustrating, etc.  As a matter of a fact, I've admitted to many people that there were days when, if Attila the Hun had magically appeared on my door-step, offering up babysitting services, I'd have jumped at the opportunity.  But, as Laura and many of the other women mentioned, the blessings you do receive from having them are indescribably wonderful.  I just think we should keep this in mind when we are talking to other women.  It's easy to get with another mother and pour out all the bad things that happened that week, but we should be mindful of others that we may be influencing.  We should try to at least keep a balance of things; telling of some of the weird, crazy, often frustrating things (because, lets face it - after the fact some of that stuff is pretty dog-gone funny), and throwing in a lot of the positive, beautiful, wonderful aspects of having children.  If we really need to sound off in order to regain sanity, or ask someone else's advice on how to handle something, it would best be done in a priviate setting anyway.  

Let's all make sure we're setting a good example for all those mothers yet to be.


Monday, February 22, 2010


So far planning my menus is working out well.  Last week's menu required no changes, but I did update this week's in order to utilized things already in the freezer and pantry so I wouldn't have to run out to the grocery store.
What's on the menu for this week:
Mon - breakfast - french breakfast muffins, scrambled eggs
             supper - ham and potato casserole, salad
Tues - breakfast - biscuts and gravy
             supper - pinto beans, rice, green beans
Wed - breakfast - smoothies or yogurt, cinnamon swirl bread
             supper - kielbasa bake, salad
Thurs - breakfast - blueberry muffins, cottage cheese
             supper - roast, potatoes, peas & carrots
Fri - breakfast - grits, sausage, eggs (for those that like them)
             supper - barbeque chicken, corn, chopped fresh veggies
Sat - breakfast - sticky buns
          supper - chicken & dumplings, mixed veggies
Sun - waffles
           lunch - leftover chicken & dumplings


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Ketchup, and other randomness

Ruby, over at Mumma's Place , has inadvertantly suggested another "make it from scratch" challenge.  Ketchup.  Here's her comment regarding my last post on barbeque sauce:

"It does sound very yummy! Is ketchup bought sauce though. We call it Tomato Sauce here but I am wondering whether it is one you make or a bought variety?"

First off, Ruby is from Australia so I'll explain that ketchup is a premade, seasoned sauce with tomato sauce or tomato paste as it's base (she probably already knows that, but just in case...).  So, I'm a little curious now as to whether or not the tomato sauce Ruby talks about is a seasoned tomato sauce used on burgers and such.  You'll have to let me know Ruby.  I love learning about these little differences in how we speak. From her site, I recently found out that they call skeeters (mosquitos-for those of you not from the South), mozzies down there.
At any rate, I plan on trying out a ketchup recipe as soon as our current stash of ketchup is depleted.  At least what I do have on hand is organic.  I will have to use store bought tomato paste as my base though, because we have long since gone through the small amount of tomatoes I canned last summer.  I'll have to get ahold of a much bigger quantity of them this year in order to can some of my own sauce, in addition to other tomato stuff.  I'm wanting to try my hand at plain sauce, spaghetti sauce, and homemade "Rotel", in addition to the plain diced tomatoes that I have done before. 

Now, on to other randomness...

This is the cake Bree made Beenie for her
birthday a couple of weeks ago.  I just love
the spiral candle "hair".

Superman brought these to Ri last weekend.
He remembered her saying that she loves
sunflowers.  Aren't they gorgeous.

I finally finished the little white jacket that
goes with T.Lynn's red, polka dot dress.
I think it turned out well, even though I
made a huge mistake when putting it
together.  For any of you who do much
sewing, see if you can tell what I did wrong.

Ri came in while I was finishing up this post
and did what I had been trying (and failing
miserably) to do; get a close-up on the details.
My newest sewing machine has some simple
embroidery stitches, so I used one of them
to topstitch around the entire jacket.  Then
T., who is VERY modest, insisted on having
this clasp added, just in case the jacket were
to blow open (remember, it's a sleeveless dress).

Well, it's time to heard folks through the bath.  I hope y'all have an opportunity for some quality fellowship tomorrow.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Oh the things we do...

just because we always have. 
I'm not being highbrow here - I'm talking about cooking.
I was slightly amused one night a few years ago when we had invited some people from church over for supper.  The only thing I can definately remember serving that night was homemade yeast rolls.  No big deal; I've been making homemade bread since I was in highschool (maybe before; it's been too long ago, I can't remember).  What struck me as funny was that at some point, the mother of the family found out that the rolls were homemade; I think her husband asked me if they were, and she looked at me, in wide eyed amazement, and said, "I didn't think you could make these at home."   Of course rolls, an all manner of other things can be made at home.  In the grand scheme of things, food manufacuring is a fairly recent occurrence, so I was tickled by her comment.  But, I am just as guilty.  Not necessarily of assuming things can't be made at home, but certainly of not thinking about making things at home instead of buying stuff pre-made.
Case in point:  Barbeque sauce. 
I had tried out different sauces from Whole Foods in an attempt to find one that didn't have high fructose corn syrup in it, and just never found one I liked very much.  Since I don't use barbeque sauce all that much (mostly to top meatloaf - Ri makes our barbeque chicken from scratch), I finally gave up and decided that if we are eating pretty healthy most of the time, it probably won't hurt us too seriously to have a little regular barbeque sauce every great once in awhile.  (And, I still don't really think we'll keel over from a little HFCS, I would just like to avoid it if possible.) On to what happened this week (finally - right?).  I didn't have barbeque sauce (not much anyway), and Mesquite cheesy chicken was on the menu for last night.  I really want to stick to my menu, so I decided to try my hand a regular barbeque sauce (what Ri makes is kind of chunky, but delicious).  I looked up a recipe online and proceeded to change it. I didn't have tomato puree, so I used ketchup; I didn't want a chunky sauce, so I finely grated the onion instead of chopping it; I wanted a smokey flavor, so I added liquid smoke, etc.  This stuff was so simple.  I'll never buy bottled sauce again.  I can't really give a recipe since I radically changed the one I printed off, and I wasn't really measuring things anyway, but I'll give you the list of ingredients and encourage you to do what I did:  start throwing stuff in the pan, taste often adjusting things as you go, and you'll have a delicious sauce in no time.

Some kind of oil, one small finely grated onion, ketchup, red wine vinegar, worchestershire sauce, sugar*, ground mustard, liquid smoke, and chili powder or cayenne pepper (if you want some spice)

I started with normal kitchen economy - the pan I browned the chicken in, it's comination of coconut oil and butter, and the little crispy bits of brown goodness on the bottom.  I poured off most of the oil because I didn't want a greasy sauce - just enough to keep the onion from sticking. 
I added the grated onion and stirred around just until it was brown - it didn't take long, and I don't know if it was brown from cooking or from the bits on the bottom, but it can't possibly take long to cook grated onion.
Next I added ketchup - maybe 1/3c?  (I know I added more later).
Then, red wine vinegar - a couple of healthy splashes (added more of this later too)
Some brown sugar* - roughly 3-4Tbls?, but my sauce was a little too sweet, I'll use less next time.
Worchestershire sauce - maybe 1Tbls.
I sprinkled in some mustard powder and added
a few drops liquid smoke (it never takes much of this stuff)
I didn't add chili powder or cayenne this time, but I will next time.
Like I said, I just put the stuff in the pan, whisking as I went and tasting every so often; adding things in as I felt they were needed.
*A note about the sugar - you could certainly use sucanat in this (and I will in the future), but since I was expirimenting, I wanted to use the much cheaper brown sugar I had.

Maybe you already make your own sauce.  If you do, great.  But if you don't, please give it a try.  BTW - if you use canned cream of (chicken, potato, etc.) soup, you should really try making your "cream of..." soup from scratch - it's outta this world good, and much better for you.  Now I'll have to find something else that I buy without thinking about, and try to make it from scratch.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Cold, Wet, Yuck

Today was milk day, and it wasn't raining.  Yay!  BUT...it was cold, and everything at the barn is wet, so naturally there was a lot of mud - yuck.  I'm a big girl though, I can handle the mud, the problem is really for the farmers.  It's been so snowy, and rainy, and snowy, and icky, and snowy, and...well, you get the picture, that the pastures are nothing but big mud holes.  The farmers will have to re-seed all the pastures (or large percent of them), plus, they can't get their crops started for this year's hay and silage.   Our dairy farmer said the deadline for when the wheat should have been in the ground has already passed, but it's just too wet, and they are calling for more rain down there.  He's lived there forever and says he can't remember it ever being this wet, for this long.  I certainly hope things turn around for them; they can't keep paying for hay brought in from elsewhere.  The next time I'm tempted to complain about the weather I'll try to remember, and say a prayer for others who's livelihoods are dependent on things like the weather.  All the snow and ickiness may be an inconvience to me, but that's pretty much all it is.  If I weren't buying stuff from local farms, chances are I'd never even think about things like that.  Trying to eat healthy, and locally does bring you into a greater awareness of life around you.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Menu Plans

I'm happy to say that things went well last week with following my menu plans.  There were only two things that didn't make it in; we didn't do biscuts and gravy Wed. morning (lack of time), and on Thurs., we ended up getting pizza because the new recipe I tried for teriyaki chicken was just awful.  The best thing that even my most adventurous eater could say about it was that she would eat it before she would eat a prune. Oh well, we were going to treat the kids to pizza one day this week anyway, so we just switched up weeks.
On to this week's menu:
Mon - breakfast - Pumpkin muffins , scrambled eggs
            supper - navy beans, mac & cheese, baked squash, raw veggie assort.
Tues - breakfast - crossiants, fruit salad, yogurt
            supper - spaghetti, salad
Wed - breakfast - golden rod eggs (or as old cookbooks called it, eggs a la golden rod)
            supper - mesquite cheesy chicken, baked beans (made from Mon left-overs), salad
Thurs - breakfast - lemon poppy seed muffins, eggs or cottage cheese
            supper - pork tenderloin in mushroom gravy over rice, lima beans, fresh carrots
Fri - breakfast - pancakes, sausage patties
          supper - country style steak, mashed potatoes, green beans
Sat - breakfast - eggs, hashbrowns
           supper - ham, macaroni and cheese, salad (or peas w/ carrots)
Sun - breakfast - waffles
           lunch - tacos

Since I've already done the shopping for the basics, my grocery list for this week is very short - Yay!  Most of it is the fresh produce. I think I might be enjoying this menu planning stuff.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Odds and Ends

Just a few random photos (with explanations).

The last weekend in Jan.  No, the bottom step
doesn't sit right on the ground.  There's more of
a difference between it and the ground than there
is between the steps, so there's a lot of snow.

You can barely see the culvert at the end of
the drive.

A snow angel Bree made.

The flowers hubby gave me for our
anniversary last week.  Aren't they

The florist gave these flowers to the girls that
were with hubby that day (Bree and Ri were with me).
It was last Tues.; Grandma had fallen early
that morning, we had the milk to go get - it was
a rough day.  He had two very lovely cards, the
flowers, and some much needed chocolate waiting
for me when I got home.  Plus, he took me to my
favorite restaurant for supper.  I think I'll keep him. :D

I picked up the plant at the bottom of the pic
the last time I was in Whole Foods.
I wish I could take a decent picture; it's really
very pretty.  The tag said Campanula, but it must
be some sort of minature.

Superman has become a regular here, so we put
him to work on a regular basis.  I don't know
who took this, or when, so I don't know what
Ri was making him help her cook, but it could
have been nearly any Saturday we haven't
been snowed in.  Don't know why they look the
same height here, but I'll use it to pick on him about
 shrinking in his old age since he constantly refers
 to himself as old (he JUST turned 20 - yeah, real old).   
My lastest sewing project.  I won't
tell you how long this dress has been
cut out and sitting on the side of my
sewing table.  T.Lynn still fits it (with
room to spare), so we're okay.  And yes,
it was cut out for her - not for one of the
older ones.  I'm not quite THAT far behind.

Self explanitory - the back.  I secretly
hated that zipper - wasn't the zipper's
fault of course; it was the three layers
making up the skirt (because we HAVE to
have an attached crinoline to make the
skirt poofy - and we, under no circumstances,
actually want to feel any part of the itchy stuff).

The all important spin around...

...and plop down to see how big a puddle the
skirt makes test.  This one passes.

It was hard to tell from the other photos that
the fabric had small white polka dots.  I came
across this daisy "lace", with red centers shortly
after we had bought the fabric, and couldn't
resist adding it to the dress.

The dress is supposed to have a little
white jacket to go with it, but you can
see why she's not wearing that right now.
I did get started on it while the computer
was doing it's thing moving the photos over
a little bit ago.

It's cold today, and very windy.  I woke up at around 4 o'clock this morning, hearing the wind pushing the swing around on the deck.  I didn't know we were supposed to have windy weather, or I would have taken the cover off the top last night.  Since the wind has knocked it into the sliding glass door before, I threw on a dress and went out to take the top off.  It was COLD, and the cover acted like a big sail, but I managed to get it down by myself; not, however, without waking several others because I was forced to let go of it at one point and it crashed onto the deck.  So much for trying to let everyone else sleep.  I should have just woke someone else up to begin with, then there would have only been two of us up.  Oh well, live and learn.


Monday, February 8, 2010

Menu Plans

I have been piddl'n around with the idea of planning out our menus lately.  You know, as opposed to hollering for someone to pull something out of the freezer (at some point in the morning - or early afternoon), and then trying to decide what to do with it later.  I've tried to do menus in the past, but never stuck with it very well.  And giving my nautral proclivity for forgeting to lay something out to defrost in the first place, I've really been doing quite well lately.  The whole, last minute supper decisions thing has only worked because I generally keep a fairly well stocked freezer and pantry.  Stocked with the basics anyway.  But, since we are aiming at reducing our debt this year, I decided that a menu would be really helpful in staying on budget, and it would force a little more discipline with regard to eating healthy.  We do eat a fairly healthy diet, but it could be better with a little more planning.
So, with all that in mind, I sat down last week and planned out a basic supper menu for the month.  We only get paid once a month, so I'm still more comfortable with getting the bulk of my pantry and freezer items at the beginning of the month - hence the major planning happening all at once.  The fine tuning on the menus will be done by week, and will allow me to make out a grocery store list for things like produce, or to take advantage of what the butcher has on sale. I worked out a menu for part of last week and stuck to it, so I'm hopeful.
Here's what this week's menu looks like:
Mon - Breakfast - Blueberry muffins w/ eggs or cottage cheese (we have several non-egg eaters, they get it from their father, so we allow them an alternate sometimes). 
          Supper - Beans (a mix of pinto and small red), rice, green beans
Tues - Breakfast - Overnight waffles (I prefer a sourdough waffle recipe I have, but my starter died -at least this one is soaked, and it tastes almost as good as the sourdough)
           Supper - Chicken pan pie, mixed veggies (this may change a bit, as we're having company I didn't know about when first planning the menu - a certain amount of flexability must be maintained).
Wed - Breakfast - Biscuts and gravy (I did say fairly healthy)
          Supper - Lasagna, salad
Thurs - Breakfast - Smoothies, or fruit topped with yogurt (depends on the individual), and toast
            Supper - Teriyaki chicken, rice, zuchinni & onion (I hope the zuchinnis look good, I've been wanting this for days!)
Fri - Breakfast - Eggs, grits, sausage
          Supper - Buffaloaf (yep - meatloaf made from ground bison), corn on the cob, salad
Sat - Breakfast - Cinnamon muffins (or if pressed for time, I'll turn it into a coffee cake), applesauce
          Supper - Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, peas & carrots
Sun - Waffles (I usually make these on Sun - the only reason I will make them on Tues is because I missed having them this past Sun)
         Lunch - Beef stew, whole grain rolls

You may have noticed that I don't plan out our lunches (except for Sun, when our bigger meal is switched from supper-time to lunch). There are very few lunch items that everyone likes; for instance, if I put PB&J on the menu, I'd either go hungry at lunch or veer from the plan anyway, because while most of the girls will eat it, I absolutely can't stand peanut butter.  Same goes for other things, like liver pudding (some call it liver mush); Kay and I like it, but nobody else does.  So we allow them to pick what they want for lunch.  Several will usually go in together to fix something, and every great once in awhile, they'll all eat the same thing - like when we make tomato soup, or grilled cheese.  This also allows all the leftovers (which are rarely in sufficient enough quantities to feed everyone) to be used up.

So there.  Maybe putting it out, for the whole world to see, will encourage me to stick with it.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Bridge Builder

An old man going a lone highway,
Came in the evening cold and gray,
To a chasm vast and deep and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.

The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The sullen stream had no fears for him;
But he turned, when safe on the other side,
And built a bridge to span the tide.

"Old man," said a fellow pilgrim near,
"You are wasting strength with building here. 
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again will pass this way;
You've crossed the chasm deep and wide;
Why build you this bridge at evening tide?"

The builder lifted his old gray head,
"Good friend, in the path I have come," he siad,
"There followeth after me today,
A youth whose feet must pass this way.

This chasm which has been naught to me,
To that fair-haired youth might a pitfall be.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him."

-Will Allen Dromgoole

I love the reminder of our responsibilities that this poem provides.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

See what she can do

See what my wonderful, very patient (at least with the computer) 17yr old can do?
She made this neat little blog button for my side bar.
When something happened to the one that was there, and I couldn't find one I liked to replace it, she said she thought she could make one.  Sure enough, she did.  And I think it's lovely.  I told her to pick a quote she knew I liked, so she picked this one by Abe Lincolon that I had shown to her not long ago.  She's says that I should add here that I actually picked out the color, which I did after she had trouble getting the right shade - but trust me, the color thing was a shot in the dark.  Since the color wasn't on the paint thingy, I picked one and started messing around.  (BTW - she's sitting here laughing at my highly technical terminology.)
At any rate, I just wanted to give her a big ol thumbs up for all her work.  She's a marvel.  I think I'll keep her.  (At least until I have to EVENTUALLY give her away to the guy who won't stop hanging around here.  I bet you all know his stage name - that's right, it's Superman.)

I'll be putting back up my 'Updates on Grandma' sidebar thingy (yes, that's a technical term) very soon.  Actually, I think I'll leave this to Ri too.  She has a neat little idea for the box, but before she got too far in the "telling" of how to do it, I kind of looked at her in a certain way, and she, sort of, voluteered. (BTW - she doesn't really agree with the word volunteer, but I'm not twisting her arm - really, I'm not.) 

She has me in stitches.  She's says that it's only because she can't type with a twisted arm.  I've got to stop and wipe the tears streaming down my face.


Y'all bare with me

Just trying something, please ignore random posts!


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

If Only

I would deal with a dozen people showing up unannounced on my doorstep right now if it meant that Grandma could come home.

Unfortunately, just two weeks after getting back home, Grandma fell during the wee hours this morning and broke her hip.  Normally I don't like my husband's insomnia, but because of it, he was awake and heard her immediately.  She was in acute pain, so I had hubby wake Kay so that she and I could lift her straight off the floor.  My father came to see if he could get her to the hospital for an x-ray (with the roads in bad condition, it took him an hour), but she couldn't stand being lifted in the position that was required to put her in the car.    Needless to say, an ambulance had to be called, and we had another bit of a wait while they tried to get through (then, of course, they were going to have to take the long way around to the hospital so they could stay on the main highways).  It was a long, slow morning.  Eventually all the girls woke up, but thankfully, remained upstairs.  Once everyone was gone (Dad followed the ambulance to the hosp.), I had them come down and explained everything to them.  I tried to get everyone settled back down to sleep, but you can guess how that went.  We got back to sleep around 5:30 or 6:00, but the two youngest ended up with me.  We are waiting to hear how the doctors want to handle this, since it's the second time she's broken that hip.


Monday, February 1, 2010


Today is payday.  I need to go to the bank.  I need to go to the post office.  I REALLY need to go to the store (in a house full of females, TP beats out milk and bread as a necessity).  But, because of this weekend's weather, I'm sitting here waiting.  Waiting for the temperature to get above freezing.  Waiting for the desire to actually get out and do it all.  I'm pretty sure that desire won't actually emerge until the temp reaches at least 65, so I'll just have to force myself to do all this stuff.  I would love to hibernate.

Oh well...on to a different topic.

Somehow we ended up with a bunch of crippled people this weekend.  (It's a turn of phrase - I'm not picking on crippled people, my own husband is disabled.)  And, it's all of the older girls (that includes me).  I threw out my arm - doing what you may ask? - of all things, playing the Wii we finally broke down and bought for Christmas.  I know...brilliant.  I should have exhibited a little more restraint, but I'm just a tad competitive. 
Kay fell outside yesterday, while trying to get some of the snow off the driveway, which is where Bree got the incredible sunburn she has now.  Here again, I know I should have known better.  The sun will still burn you even if it's 30 outside, but you just don't think about getting sunburned in the middle of the winter.  Since it is winter, her burn is only on her face, but it's bad.  She is feeling icky, so she may have a bit of sun poisoning.  Kay scraped up her arm, and since she suffered from a rare, degenerative condition (which required surgery on her hips) as a child, falls are always more problematic for her. 
Ri fell down the stairs Saturday night.  Not quite sure how she did that (she doesn't know either), but she's pretty banged up right now too.
So...all of the oldest, most capable people around here don't really feel up to doing much.  I wish we could take a couple of days and do nothing but recuperate, but it's the first of the month (always the busiest time), so we'll just have to push through.  I can a least go relatively easy on them with regard to the housework.  The house certainly won't fall down around our ears if the furniture doesn't get dusted, the floors moped, or the bathrooms scrubbed until this weekend.  Laundry and kitchen duty - large enough tasks in a family of eight - will be the order of the week.  Oh, and all that dreaded running around.  But, I can do most of that (with the exception of the milk tomorrow) on my own.

So, it's off to check the temperature again, and try to convince myself that it really won't be all that bad to leave the house.  Yeah right.