Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Day of Firsts...

Today, we had a lot of firsts, some insignificant, but some big ones!  here are some pics to go with (most of) them:

Ellie got a french braid crown on her head.

Ben got his Sparks book and vest for next year.

Sam rode in a booster seat for the first time!  He can now, since he's four!

Sam also got his second year Cubbies book.

And John, who learned to sit up last week, sat in grass for the first time.  He was definitely intrigued.

John also got his two bottom middle teeth last week. They are coming in fast, and they are cute! :-)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Tomato sandwich.

My favorite summertime lunch. A big slab of tomato on a sandwich with a generous helping of mayo.  Yum.  Please notice that the above tomato fills my bread entirely. And look at all the wrinkles!  It is a really great heirloom variety that we got this year.  And did I mention that tomato slice FILLS MY SANDWICH?  amazing.  :-)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sam Turns 4!!

My "Sweet Baby Sam" turned four today!  Can you believe it? Me either.
Fall 2008

Winter 2009
Sam has always had a heart for worship (Fall 2010):

Sam turned three at the beach last year! (2011)
Just look how he's grown!

Sam wanted beef tacos for dinner and chocolate cupcakes for dessert.  I made these chocolate muffins and iced them with a very (homemade) butter-heavy (so it would be super creamy) icing. 

They were super moist and delicious! I used half the sugar, omitted the chocolate chips and subbed butter for the oil.  We made butter earlier this week from the thickest heavy cream I have ever seen!  It was basicaly butter when we started.  :-)  Thanks to Milky Way Farm for selling it and my lovely friend Monica for telling me to buy it!

We love you, Sam!  Happy birthday.  :-)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Dishwasher Responsibilities!

One thing I am working to make a habit before we start school is doing chores around the house.  Right now, my kids are young, and need to be encouraged (prodded) to do what they need to. Plus, I want then to learn to do it correctly, and faithfully and diligently.  So, in the mornings before school, I have a few things around the house that I want to get done, and I have the kids help me.  Then, we are all learning to keep our house in good order, the kids see and participate in keeping our house, and they learn from a young age that it is important to keep your house well.  Now, I'm not saying I'm the housekeeping champion or anything like that.  Ask my mom what my room looked like when I was young.  This does not come naturally to me!  But, I am hoping this will help form a habit, not only for my children, but also for me-- so that soon, it will just be second nature to keep my house tidy and do the things that need to be done everyday diligently.  :-)

Today I made a dishwasher responsibility chart.  When I envisioned this, it was laminated and had magnets stuck to the back, but this simple print out with post it notes works great too, and is much cheaper! I do have to edit it a little bit--

I decided today after I printed it that these would be permanent jobs, not rotating ones.  So Ben's jobs will be silverware and mugs, Sam's jobs will be bowls and glasses, and Ellie's jobs will be plates and cutting boards.

You can see from the picture that the mugs are too high for Sam and Ellie to reach, so Ben automatically gets that job.  Ellie is not great at putting glasses away-- I am always sure she is going to smash them all, so Sam gets that job. Ben gets the silverware because he is best at sorting (when Ellie does the silverware it all gets rearranged!).  Sam is better at stacking bowls than Ellie, so he gets bowls and she gets plates-- she can carry them one at a time.  And, Ellie needed a second job so she gets cutting boards. 

And, there you have a quick outline of our dishwasher responsibilites at our house.  Hopefully, they will be age appropriate and the kids will get good at/ used to their jobs quickly. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Garden Bounty

Why I love summer:

Okay, well one of the reasons I love summer anyway.  :-)  Most of this was picked tonight from our garden.  There are a few tomatoes from our CSA thrown in there (maybe four), but other than that, it's all homegrown!

ps. see that cute, tiny potato right out in front?!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Plans for the Fall

Hey, this was originally an all-food blog, but I have desired to write about other stuff in my life too.  So, today we will take a break from talking about food and I will let you in on my plans for the fall.

I am homeschooling, and this year I have a first grader, a pre-schooler, and a little girl who 'does school' too.  :-) I was stressing about how in the world I was going to manage a household, a one room school house and an infant this fall. 

I started praying, and came to the conclusion that I am going to have to have a much more structured life than I used to.  This is going to be good for me and for our kids.  We are going to have a 'routine' that we go through every day. I don't like calling it a schedule, because that sounds so strict and rigid.  I want structure, with a little give.  I have a four month old, after all, and things are going to need some leeway. 

I think (hope!) I have left adequate 'extra time' built into our routine so that our days will go smoothly without me getting stressed out, but also so that our days will be completed.  I don't want to be discouraged at the end of every day that we didn't get through everything I wanted to. Or get to the end of the day and have a house that looks like a war zone. I want peace.  :-)

Here's my plan for the fall:

7AM-8AM-- wake/ shower/ breakfast/ get dressed/ make beds/ brush teeth/ do hair/ nurse John

8AM-9:15AM--start laundry/ fold, put away laundry that's clean/ empty,fill DW/ clean up breakfast/ daily room clean up*

9:15-9:30-- quick pick up of toys or clutter that has amassed so far

9:30-10-- scripture time with kids*

10-11:30--School with Ben, Sam and Ellie*/ Nurse John at some point

11:30-12:30-- Make lunch/ eat lunch/ clean up lunch/ continue laundry

12:30-1:15-- daily room clean up, if we didn't get to it earlier/ outside, if it's nice/ read with mom

1:15-1:30-- clean up outside/ read book with Ellie for nap/ clean up toys

1:30-Ellie's Nap (Nurse John)

1:30-2-- School with Ben and Sam (History, Science, or Art)

2-3-- Quiet Time/ Nap Time

3-4-- Outside or free play inside

4-5:30-- Make Dinner/ Clear, set table/ Nurse John

5:30-6:30-- Eat dinner/ clean up

6:30-7:15-- Play, outside or inside

7:15-8-- Clean up/ pajamas/ brush teeth/ read stories/ Chris play guitar

8-- bedtime/ nurse John

And, there you have it-- our daily (on school days at least) routine. The Starred items will require another post about how I am going to do these things more specifically.

John throws a small wrench into the whole plan because his day really depends on what time he wakes up in the morning, how loud/quiet it is for his nap, if some well meaning (or not so well meaning) sibling comes in to 'say goodnight' while he is already sleeping, if he is insatiably hungry and requires me to feed him every 2-2 1/2 hours... you get the idea.  Usually he eats every three hours, sometimes up to 3 1/2.  As he grows, he'll get more consistent.  And, being home more often in the fall will also help him fall into a good routine.  Right now, it's summer, and our life is very flexible-- we are out a lot at parks or pools or traveling to grandparents, etc. The fall will be more calm and more predictable.

Well, that concludes my plans for the fall so far.  I do have a 'daily room plan' that I will share in a future post.  But for now, I must go cut up watermelon, make pickled eggs, and shop for a cheesecake.  :-)


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Homemade Barbeque Sauce

The other day I wanted to make some grilled chicken, and add some pizzazz. I usually just grill the chicken... but I felt that would be boring this particular evening.  I thought of barbeque sauce because we were also having potato wedges and Chris and the kids love to dip their fries in barbeque sauce.

Again, I 'poked around on the internet' meaning, I googled "homemade barbeque sauce" and clicked on the first one.

I modified it, mostly because I didn't have enough ketchup to make the original recipe. (And also because it has WAY too much sugar for our family.) And I don't have red wine vinegar.

Here's what I came up with:

Homemade Barbeque Sauce
3/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup honey
3 TBS- 1/4 cup molasses
Generous TBS Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp ground mustard
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper

Whisk all ingredients together. Put on whatever you want!  Yum.

We really liked this.  Chris said if I hadn't mentioned it, he would have assumed it came from the store.  :-) I will definitely be making this again.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Roasted Tomatoes with Garlic Butter Spaghetti

This is one of our favorite summer meals.

The roasted cherry tomatoes come from our garden.  Some came from our CSA this time.  It is simple and easy to prepare, and filling for those summer nights when you have been outside all day and come in ravenous for dinner.  :-)

I roasted the tomatoes on a cookie sheet for about 1 hour at 250*. I only put salt and pepper on them, although sometimes I drizzle with olive oil and even some crushed red pepper spices it up a bit.

I cooked one pound of whole wheat spaghetti.

I melted one stick of butter and sauteed three cloves of garlic, although I would do six next time-- it hardly tasted of garlic.

I tossed it all together with 2 TBS of fresh chopped basil from my back porch and brought it to the table.

So easy, and so delicious.

Another variation of this meal is to make alfredo sauce to go with everything.  I personally love this!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Zucchini Ice Cream

Zucchini is always so abundant in the summertime!  I struggle with making it fun to eat.  And to use it in creative ways.  Recently, I have wanted to make everything into ice cream.  I think it is because I have a great, wonderful, delicious vanilla ice cream recipe that I can use as a base and safely add almost anything I want. (I'll let Chris come up with something un-appetizing to add to ice cream.  He's always good at that. :-)
Here is my zucchini all grated up and my homemade vanilla in an old frank's bottle.  and some vanilla spilled on the counter.  :-)

My vision was zucchini bread as ice cream.  I love zucchini bread and I love ice cream.  and I love eating them together.  So, this must be a perfect match!

I came up with my recipe by poking around a bit on the internet. (Actually, I googled "zucchini ice cream" and clicked on the first link that came up.) I looked at the recipe, took away what I needed to know, and came up with my very own version.

Zucchini Ice Cream
1 egg yolk
2 cups cream
1 cup milk
1 TBS arrowroot, tapioca starch or cornstarch
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup (or so) zucchini
2 TBS alcohol (I used brandy, and I quite like the pairing with the cinnamon and raisins.)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup raisins

Mix all ingredients except zucchini and raisins. add in zucchini and raisins.  pour into ice cream freezer.  stand impatiently by until it is finished. (or go read something, or do the dishes, nurse the baby, etc.)

One note about the alcohol-- you don't have to use it; it is to help the ice cream stay soft in the freezer.  You know how store-bought ice cream stays all soft and homemade gets hard as a rock?  Well, they put anti-freeze in ice cream to help it stay soft!  Alcohol does the same thing. And I personally would choose it any day over anti-freeze.  :-)

Things I would do differently: grate zucchini finer, use smaller raisins.  or maybe currants.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Produce... from our garden

I grabbed some quick pictures of veggies that we picked out of our garden the other day. 

We filled a whole basket! Green peppers, tomatoes and even a habenero, a seven pot and a jalapeno.

Has anyone ever seen this happen to a pepper?  We haven't.  We think it might be lack of water?  We have been watering our tomatoes but not our peppers because the nursery where we got them said we should not water them much.

Look at this beautiful heirloom tomato we have this year!  Do you notice the evil bunny teeth right in the middle of the side.  The first time we saw the bunny in our garden, it was only palm sized.  Now it's probably twice as big. 

After we were done picking peppers and tomatoes, the boys dug our potatoes!  I think we got about 10lbs.  (but I didn't weigh them) This is a much better yeild that last year, when we only got about three too-small-to-eat potatoes.  This year, instead of buying seed potatoes from the internet, we bought real, organic potatoes from the store and planted them! 

Finally, here is some tomatillo salsa that Chris made.  It is fermenting on our counter. Remember when I talked about adding fermented food to our diet (Kombucha is fermented!)?  We are trying new ways.  I also made a fermented green pepper and zucchini relish earlier this summer.

Well, I am going to try to add posts more often; maybe just take a quick picture and post a little blurb about it.  I know the pictures I take aren't the greatest, but they are what I have to work with now.  I don't have a great phone camera, but I also would never post another picture if I had to take them with my camera and upload them to the site.  So, for now I am going with low quality pictures over none at all.  :-) 

Have a blessed day!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Tomato Update!

Well, I finished canning my forty pounds of tomatoes, and I got:

14 quarts
1 pint
and leftover sauce to make lasagna


I used one of the quarts today (it didn't seal) to make a zucchini-beef bake that was supposed to be like lasagna but just turned out more like a casserole instead.

Friday, August 3, 2012


I just bought 40+ lbs of tomatoes for $10!!! 

So excited-- tomato sauce is in my future. 

Will update with the end result of quarts made and total cost breakdown.  :-)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

How to make Bread

Or, a transcript of the last hour of my life.

 Add ingredients to the bowl for making bread.
 Run out of flour.
Grind more.
Ben informs me Sam peed on the floor.
 Go help Sam clean up pee.
Baby is crying.  Needs nap. 
 Ellie has to go pee.
 Leave baby on bed.
Help Ellie go pee.
Turn on water for Sam to wash hands. 
Go to put baby to bed.
Sheet needs to be changed.
Get sheet.
Ellie needs to wash hands. Turn on water for her.
Smells like baby poop in room-- need to wash diapers.
Go to start diapers soaking.
Change baby's sheet.
Shut off water for Ellie.
Put baby to bed.
Find one more diaper-- put it in the wash.
Admire Ben and Ellie's castle-- realize Ellie never put pants back on.
Tell Ellie to get her pants on.
Go put flour into bowl and let it knead.
Stop kneeding-- realize baby still crying.
Set timer so bread can rise.
Baby acting hungry.
Remember diaper in diaper bag from yesterday.
Throw it in the wash.
Give 'middles' phone to watch pictures while I nurse.
Baby takes few sips, not interested.
Middles fighting because they are touching each other.
Ben enters scene-- tries to resolve situation, to no avail.
Take phone away from children.
Sulking because 'didn't get to see enough pictures.'
Send three oldest to bed for ten minutes for whining.
Put baby in cow chair to try and finish typing. 
Baby still crying when put him down.
Type for a few minutes.
Baby crying.
Ellie comes running out of room-- "I have to pee-- I'm peeing!!"
Run to help Ellie maybe make it to the potty.
Too late.
Clean up pee.
Wash mine and Ellie's hands.
Baby still crying.
Have small freak out session.
Apologize to kids for loss of self control.
Give each child something to do by themselves.
Put baby to bed-- still crying. 
Finish typing (hopefully!)
Ahh, baby finally went to sleep.
Children being somewhat considerate. 

So, that's how you make bread.  Hopefully there won't be as many steps for the other things on my list today, because 'make bread' was only the first.  Still on the list:

Make sauerkraut
brew kombucha
clean shower
vacuum living room, dining room
scripture time with kids
quiet time for me
change table cloth, and wash table cloths
hard boiled eggs
make egg salad for dinner
(go to the pool)-- not going to happen, considering it's already lunch time and i only got to one thing on my list.
go out to dinner with my husband for my anniversary.

now, on to accomplish something great today!