Friday, August 29, 2008

Covered Wagon

My husband got creative again. He wanted to take the kids (ours and a friend's) for a wagon ride, but he didn't want them baking in the sun. So he rigged up a covered wagon. The kids all thought it was great!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Running Ha-mok

Ah, the lazy days of summer. I opened the door to call everyone in for dinner and this is what I found:

Napping in the hammock! Whilst I slaved away cooking dinner! The nerve.

Actually, it turns out Teagan wasn't really sleeping. So, he came in for dinner and we left Ruby where she was. Let sleeping dogs lie and all that.

Anyway, I thought it was adorable and just had to share. :-)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


*For those of you scared of snakes, don't be afraid. There are no real snakes in this post*

Ruby came running in the house the other day and said, "Mama, there's a big snake outside!! Come see it!"

I don't like snakes, so I was a bit leery of what I might find. But I followed her just the same.

I was surprised and relieved by what I found.

She had to point it out to me at first - can you believe I had trouble seeing the big snake? You'd think I would have noticed it being so big and all...

Did you see it? She's pointing right to it. You can't miss it..

See, right there. I told you. It's a great big snake.

What a hoot. And to think I was worried about a little old earthworm. ;-)

Monday, August 25, 2008


I caught Hosanna climbing the stairs today.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!! (screams the panicking mother)

She's only 8 months old FPS!!! We are in SO much trouble.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Lentils & Rice Experiment

I like to read blogs. Usually I read about natural living, being a better wife/mom, frugality, and healthy cooking. Those things are usually reflected back here as I write. A couple of months ago I came across a blog called Lentils and Rice. It covered all of my favorite topics and was quickly bookmarked.

One of the things Robyn posts about often is "Stretchy Beans." Stretchy Beans is the concept of taking a very frugal pot of beans and rice and making several (healthy) meals out of it. I thought it sounded like a great idea. I'm always trying to stretch our food dollars a little bit more and beans, rice, and lentils are CHEAP.

So I decided to experiment on my unsuspecting family. Using this post for instructions, I cooked up a pot of lentils & rice. I followed it to the letter: 2 lbs. rice, 1 lb. lentils. What I didn't anticipate was the sheer amount of food that was!! Robyn says it makes 4-6 meals for her family of 5. Well, here was the pot after I made 6 meals out of it:

That's a lotta food still in that pot!! A whole lotta food.

I reincarnated the plain lentils and rice as fried rice:
And as a cold salad:
And as tacos, veggie casserole, lentil burgers, and a few other things. All told I made 11 meals out of that pot. (That includes meals from leftovers.) I would have gotten more, but I got sick and wasn't cooking for a few days so the lentils & rice languished in my fridge and I ended up throwing some away. That really bummed me out, but I didn't know I was going to get SO sick.

I guess I would call the experiment a success overall. Next time I will make only half as much lentils & rice to start with. And I will probably freeze whatever is left after the first 4 meals or so. But it is a great frugal way to eat. The lentils & rice can substitute for rice or ground meat so it was very versatile. I will probably do it again, and may even try it with *beans*.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Who will help me grind the wheat?

Did I ever tell you about the screaming deal I got last spring? I had been looking for a grain mill. I was going to buy one new - you know, stimulate the economy and all that, but they are expensive!! Amidst my waffling on which one to get, was the beginning of rummage sale season. A friend of mine was having a rummage sale with some of her neighbors. I stopped in. Lo and behold, I found a grain mill with a flaker attachment for $5.00!!! I snapped it up in a heartbeat!

When I got home, I looked up my find on the internet. I had just bought a grain mill worth $180 for $5. WoW! God is so awesome!! Here's my mill on its maiden voyage:

Now, the girls think it's great fun to grind the grain into flour. Jade especially liked turning the handle and watching the flour come out.
Not to be outdone, Ruby got in on the action.
Now I feel a bit like the Little Red Hen. Except I actually have help. ;-)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Future Worship Leader?

Ruby was serenading me this morning. She was playing the guitar and singing "Jesus songs." We sang Amazing Grace, The B-I-B-L-E, and Jesus Loves the Little Children. It was so cute. Apparently we are doing something right as parents. She loves church and reading the Bible, and singing praises. Praise the Lord for her soft heart for Him!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Another Escape Artist

Hosanna hasn't even been crawling a week yet, and she's already trying to escape for Pete's sake!
She sees the other kids go outside and boogies over to the door to try and follow them. The other day, the door wasn't latched. She tried to push it open and go out, but it would swing back and bonk her on the head before she could get all the way out. (Thank goodness!)

What on earth kind of genes are we giving these kiddos? 3 out of 4 of them are complusive escapers! When do I get the easy kid?? LOL

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Love at First Bite

Is there any kid on the planet who doesn't love watermelon?

Hosanna had her first piece of watermelon the other day and she loved it! Of course. Who wouldn't? It went something like this...

Just Peachy

A week ago Friday my yearly peach order came in. For the last 2 years I've gotten a bushel of peaches to preserve. It's wonderful in the throes of a winter snowstorm to pull a jar of summer-fresh peaches out of the cupboard. The bushel lasted us the whole year, with just a couple quarts left. As our family grows I may need to get more, but for now a bushel is quite enough thank you.

Since we were busy with the rummage sale last weekend, it was Monday before my peaches got out of the box and saw the light of day. Here was the scene Monday morning.

I decided to try something different this year. All the books I've read tell you to dip them in boiling water then cold water to slip off the skins. But that's a lot of hassle and a lot of standing in front of the stove. Teagan suggested I try using a vegetable peeler instead. Since none of my books could tell me why not to do this, I did it. Boy was it fast and easy! Sure, I lost just a bit of the fruit with the peel, but it wasn't enough to really justify going back to the dip method. (If anyone knows why using a peeler is a bad idea, leave a comment and let me know.) The big payoff with the peeler was that I could sit down to peel instead of being on my feet for 2 solid days. My chiropractor was very pleased.

Another thing I tried was freezing in quart bags. But since I use honey to preserve and not sugar, it didn't work that well. With sugar you can just toss the peaches in the dry sugar and bag them, but with honey you have to make a syrup to freeze them in. That ended up taking more honey than canning, so for the sake of my grocery budget I switched back to canning.

It only took 2 afternoons to do all the canning, as opposed to 2 entire days last year. Part of the credit goes to the peeler trick. But a lot of the credit goes to my peachy crew of helpers. I gave Kordell the task of collecting and washing jars. And Teagan measured honey and ran the canner while I kept peeling. It was a team effort this year and I'm so thankful for my guys and all the help they gave.

I came out with 21 quarts canned and 2 quarts in the freezer. The kids ate quite a few fresh. Even Hosanna got in on it, eating little pieces that I diced up for her. Peaches are quite the hit around here. I had 15 or so peaches left after Tuesday's canning and I decided to make jam. I didn't actually get to the jam making until last night though. I used Tanna's spiced honey peach jam recipe. It uses regular pectin and she always had it gel up nicely, so I'm hoping mine will do the same. So far it isn't gelled. I guess it can take up to 2 weeks to gel completely, so I'm trying to be patient.
They sure are pretty though. Not bad for my first attempt at jam.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Garden Update: Mid-August

Time for another garden update! The weather has been quite dry the last few weeks. But we've kept up with the water and things still look good. The peppers are finally setting fruit! Don't they look nice? We lost a few blossoms & fruit that was just starting last week. I think the combination of cooler nights and no rain are taking a toll. Hopefully we won't lose too many more.
My tomato tree is absolutely LOADED with green tomatoes. I have a sneaking suspicion that I will be overrun with ripe tomatoes in a few weeks.
And I am quickly becoming buried by eggplant! We have harvested a dozen already, with 2 more ready to come off the vine any day. There are 8-10 more forming and many more blossoms. Anyone have eggplant recipes to share??

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Just Busy

It's just that time of year, I think. Again, my blog is neglected. Though I have pictures sitting on my camera for blog posts, they just aren't here yet. I've been canning peaches and recovering from the massive declutter last week. I've even done a little reading. *gasp*

I will be back with something interesting soon...

Saturday, August 09, 2008

I Lost Count

Well, I am declaring the 1000 Things Challenge a success! I the last week of massive deluttering I went way over the top! I was at almost 600 things before I purged my wardrobe - that added over 150 things. Then we hauled a TRAILER LOAD of things off the front porch. Then I purged the girls wardrobes! I know I went way over 1,000. I may have even gotten close to 2,000. Either way, I am declaring it a success.

All this stuff went to the rummage sale my friends & I held this weekend. All the proceeds are going to fund Project Lifesaver for our county. So, it was for a good cause. I don't know the exact final tally, but I know we raised over $700 for the project. That's enough to buy wristbands for 2 kids. Jade will be one of them, and my friend's child will be the other. There is still about $9,000 to be raised before PLS will be up and running, but we're off to a good start.

As for me and the challenge, it may be over, but the urge and need to simplify continues. Simplify, simplify, simplify. The less we have, the more we can live. Too much time is spent wrangling stuff and maintaining things. As we purge our stuff, we gain freedom. So we will keep on the declutter train for awhile yet.

Edit: I just got the final total for the rummage sale... $1153.60!!! That's enough for almost 4 wristbands!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

How to Make Pesto: Part 2

Now we get down to the nitty-gritty pesto-making process. I removed all the stems, washed the leaves, and ran them through the salad spinner to get rid of the excess water. Then, into the food processor.

I added salt, garlic cloves, and parmesan cheese. The recipe called for pine nuts, but I didn't have any so I left the nuts out. We'll use the olive oil in just a minute.
Turn on the food processor and let it go until everything is nice and chopped up. Then add the olive oil, a little bit at a time, through the spout on top while the food processor is running. When the pesto is the consistency you want, stop adding oil and turn it off.And here is our finished pesto! Lovely green goo. It tastes better than it looks, trust me. :-)
I used it to make "Creamy Pesto Pasta" which was just a basic white sauce with pesto added and served over whole wheat rotini. Everyone gobbled it up! Which is a big deal in my house, since I have some picky eaters around here.

So there you go. Find a friend with basil plants, or go pick some up at the farmer's market and make your own pesto! It's easy and yummy.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

How to Make Pesto: Part 1

Since I have lots of yummy basil growing in my garden, I thought it was high time to try my hand at making pesto. I've never even eaten pesto, but it's what you make with lots of basil so I decided to try it.

Step 1: Make sure you have a really good garden helper. Look how nicely my garden helper holds the bowl.
Step 2: Distract your garden helper with pretty flowers while you pick the basil.
Step 3: Have your garden helper taste the basil to make sure it's good.
Step 4: Make sure your garden helper isn't choking on the basil.

Step 5: Into the house to make pesto! To be continued...

Monday, August 04, 2008

The First Tomato

A week ago we harvested our first tomato of the season. We've had green tomatoes on the vine since we got home from vacation and they are just finally starting to ripen. We noticed a slight blush starting on Thursday, and by Sunday evening it was ready for picking. There it is. Isn't it beautiful?

Because it was our very first tomato, we had a little ceremony out by the tomato tree. (Yes, I said tomato tree. The thing is almost as tall as me, and that makes it a tree in my book.) Here we are, all gathered around for the picking.
And here I am, post picking, showing off my harvest. It wasn't a very big tomato, but it tasted good! Better than tomatoes from the store, that's for sure.