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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Simplifying Mealtime

One of the easiest ways we have found to simplify mealtimes is by having meals (or parts of meals) already prepared and in the freezer.  I know this is a no-brainer, but over the summer I have not been consistently "refilling" my freezer with prepared meals and now that our homeschool football season has started I am really starting to miss it.   My plan at the moment is to spend the latter part of the week taking inventory of my freezer and pantry to see what's there and then take at least one day to prepare a few meals for the freezer.  I already know that I will be making pancakes, bread, applesauce muffins, taco soup, chili, pulled pork, bar-b-que chicken chunks, mashed potatoes, broccoli & rice casserole, cheeseburger meatloaf, meatballs, seasoned beans, and lentil soup.  Some of these things I will cook before freezing (either in the crockpot or on the stove) and some of them I will prepare and freeze to cook later.   Even though it's a lot of work at the time, it is well worth the savings in time and money later.  We are not as tempted to eat out and can also better meet the needs of our family members with food sensitivities.  I am really looking forward to having my freezer full of meals again!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Thrifty Toddler Fun


Recently one of our neighbors asked if we would be interested in having this swingset that their granchildren had outgrown.   So with a little bit of  "elbow grease" and a couple of new chains we have a "like new" swingset for our grandchildren to enjoy!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Finished Project --- Portable Chicken Coop

My Dad and Caleb finished up my portable chicken coop today!  I am so excited, although, not nearly as excited as the baby chicks were when I put them in it!   The really great part is that the whole thing was built with scrap material that we already had laying around.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Frenzied Friday

I don't know about anyone else, but I really hate days that I have so much to do that I know, before I even start, that I won't get half of it done!    This is one of  those days.  We are not even attempting school today, I know that it's just not going to happen and I refuse to put myself and Ferrell through trying.   

This is our week for church cleaning and mowing, so the day started for the guys (Caleb and Ferrell) about 8:00 this morning.  They went to the church and took care of the yard work (Amanda and I cleaned it yesterday).   When they finished at the church they came home and have started on our yard, which is a fairly large undertaking.   While they have been doing yard work, I went over and helped Amanda with the babies while she was getting Alan off to Kentucky for the weekend.  After he left, I came home and started making soap.  I have gotten so far behind with my soapmaking that I have sold out of almost everything.  I have some people waiting on me to get some more made so I knew that I absolutely HAD to get at least two batches of soap made today.  I did small batches though, so it did not take quite as long, although it will only be enough to fill what has already been ordered.  I will have to take a day next week to get a couple more batches made.   I have just finished cleaning my kitchen and decided to take a 15 minute break, before moving on to the next thing.   I need to get the chicken box cleaned out next and I have a few more things to do in our fall garden while the sun is shining. 

It's a natural assumption that my family would like to have clean clothes to wear so I will also be attacking a mountain of laundry that continues growing, and growing, and growing!!!!  I have been sick the last week or so and still am not feeling very well, so things have really been getting out of control.  Oh well, my break is about over so I guess I better get busy.  Hope ya'll have a great weekend!!!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Gluten Free Chicken Casserole

During the last year of adjusting my cooking habits to cater to the gluten free needs of my son, I have learned to become more and more creative.   Last night I had one of those creative moments.  My son had  commented to me that he really missed being able to eat things like his grandmothers chicken casserole.  I decided that there had to be way to make a gluten free alternative so last night was the night.  To my surprise (and delight) it turned out very well.  In place of canned cream of chicken soup I made my own (recipe located on recipe page) and in place of Ritz crackers I used gluten free pretzels.  Now, before anyone tells me, I already know that gluten free pretzels are very expensive.  Amazon, however,  has a subscribe and save program that we have signed up for to get our pretzels, which gives not only a discount, but also free shipping.  In addition to that I had enough Amazon gift cards from swagbucks that I was able to get a case of pretzels for $2.61.  Other than those two substitutions I was able to follow the original recipe and the result (If I do say so myself) was delicious.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Routines

I have come to the conclusion that deep down, I am a very "conflicted" person.  I have always liked organizing things and having things done a certain way, but have never been able to consistently follow through with my goals in those areas.  By nature I am a "fly by the seat of my pants" type personality.  I love having things organized, but am easily distracted by something (anything) else.   That's why I am so very thankful to be starting a new school year.  Not because I get to send my child off to school (I am a homeschooling mother), but because a new school year brings a routine to my life.  This year, so far, is going very well.  I guess it should be since this is only the second day of school for us.  In the past, by the second day of school my planned routine would have changed numerous times.  I think this year, though, I may have gotten it right.  At least for now.  Due to football season and various other things the schedule could (and probably will) change.  Our schedule for the moment is to get up by 6:00 a.m. ( I know that isn't early to some folks, but to me it is plenty early), and have my quiet time with the Lord.  At 7:00 I wake Ferrell up for his quiet time after which he goes and runs, stretches, and whatever other exercise he feels he should do.  While he is having his quiet time and exercise I cook breakfast.  After eating we are ready to start school (approximately 8:00 or so).  We work on the subjects requiring my help first and then while he works independently I clean house.  By lunch time the house is relatively straight and I can move on to other things like soap making, gardening, playing with my grandchildren, etc.  Whenever Ferrell finishes whatever subjects he has for the day he either does yard work, helps my Dad with a few projects, cleans his room, or whatever else needs doing at the time.  I think I have finally (after 16 years of homeschooling) figured out that the key is for me to do whatever things I "HAVE" to do early and that leaves me free for "distractions" later in the day.  I work very well as long as I have no interruptions.  By the time the phone starts ringing or  people are coming in and out of my house my mind has started going a thousand different directions.  Hopefully this years routine will help me be a more efficient wife and mother.   Really though, whether the routine does or doesn't help my efficiency I am really and truly looking forward to this year of school.  Ferrell and I have lots of plans and lots of projects with or without a routine!

Country Living

Family Made has a new project in progress. We spent almost all day Saturday working on my new portable chicken coop. My Dad had built the frame for me a few weeks ago and on Saturday, Daddy, Alan, Ferrell, Heath, Caleb and myself all spent the day putting the wire on. Now all that's left is putting the tin on the shelter part and adding the nest boxes and roost poles! In case you haven't noticed I'm slightly excited! I love chickens and we have not had any in several years. I talked to my Dad and he said that it would be fine for me to go ahead and order my chicks, because we should be able to finish the coop this week!!!!! I will definitely be posting pictures when my new babies get here and will be posting pictures of my new coop as well.


Oh, by the way, we also have nine new baby turkeys!!! Life doesn't get any better than this!

Monday, August 2, 2010

August

The month of August is always a busy one for us.  Not only do we start school in August, we also have quite a few birthday's and anniversary's scattered throughout the month.  We start off on August 3 with the birthday of my youngest son, Ferrell.  Then comes my birthday on the 5th of August.  My mother-in-law's birthday is the 6th of August and my father-in-law's birthday is the 11th of August.  My parents anniversary is the 9th of August, my son-in-law has a birthday on the 21st of August and my oldest grandaughter's birthday is the 24th of August.  Throw in a few friends and extended family with birthdays and anniversarys and it makes for a busy (and potentially expensive) month.  

I think our method of gift giving has become the idea behind Family Made.  Amanda and I spend quite a bit of time making gifts or bargain shopping (way in advance) for our family and we thought we would share some of our ideas with you.  Gift giving, when I am the recipient, gives the most pleasure if it is something practical.   For instance, I love to garden.  This year I have requested boards (scap will do), compost (hauled from our compost bin), and labor to put it all together for beds similar to  "The Square Foot Garden"  plan.  For Mother's Day I asked for soapmaking supplies, which my boys graciously did for me, although Ferrell did tell me it was a little embarrassing to go in Walmart to purchase lard, coconut oil, olive oil, rubber gloves, etc. and be asked by the cashier what he was planning to do with all of that.  He told her it was a gift for his mom :)  I can only imagine what she thought.   As for me,  I was delighted.  Gifts for the rest of the family are geared to each one's individual interest.  When Caleb graduated from high school he requested a garden tiller.  Even though it was expensive we went in with my parents and bought him a really nice one which he has been using for four years now.   Heath usually requests tools of some sort, which is fitting since he is a mechanic and the tools are used for years and years.  Ferrell we usually do some books and an assortment of other things like games, etc.  Most of which we purchase way in advance and greatly discounted.  Quite often we give homemade gifts which  in the past have included: bath wraps, baby items (blankets, nursing capes, etc.), bath salts, baked goods, crocheted items, items made from wood (shelves, soap savers, signs) and quilts, which is always a big hit with my boys.   We would love to hear what works for you.