Works for Me Wednesday

The dynamics of managing a large family is all encompassing...the more people living in a home, the more there is to manage, right?  Well, one summer after loading a full dishwasher of CUPS (are you kidding), something had to change.  I mean many cups do you need in a day?

Here's what works for us:

Each morning the children select their cup.  We label it with a strip of masking tape and write their name on it.  For the sippy cups we try to write a date on it, too.  (How many of you have FOUND a sippy cup with milk or juice remnants in it after 'hiding' for a few days?  Not pretty, although it could make for a great science experiment!)

A simple label with initial or name and date to help keep cup consumption under control...Works for Me!

Wallah!  Now, we have severely decreased our cup consumption, thus saving TIME and RESOURCES (electricity, water and chemicals needed for washing all those cups).

Hope that helps some mom of many out there...

Happy Cup Reducing ~

P.S.  I hope you'll pop over to enter "A Thankful Heart" giveaway I'm hosting...see what the Lord has placed on my heart, join in the challenge and enter the giveaway. 

This post is linked up to:

Breakfast ~ at our home

So, what does breakfast look like in our house?  Each morning, for the most part, we gather around the table together.  Before each "school year" begins, I work on menu planning.  Our menu plans include:  breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack and dinner.  These are guides providing benefits like:  eliminating the famous "what's for ...?", saves time and money, is designed to make meals manageable on busier days of the week, includes input from the whole family based on their favorites which makes for happy children & husband.

My breakfast and afternoon snack menus (unlike our lunch and dinner) are a one week plan, which means every Monday we have "x", every Tuesday we have "y", etc.  This makes the start to our day easy and keeping breakfast items on hand simple.

Here's our breakfast menu (click here for my printed form):

~ Sunday: Homemade whole wheat pancakes (a large batch is made and the leftovers are frozen in a gallon sized Ziploc to be eaten on Tuesday)...some mini chocolate chip, some cranberry chocolate chip and the others are plain

~ Monday:  Scrambled eggs, fried seasoned hash browns, toasted bagels

~ Tuesday:  Leftover frozen pancakes

~ Wednesday:  Eggs, bacon or sausage and biscuits

~ Thursday:  Homemade whole wheat muffins (made on Wednesday night in three batches...millet, mini chocolate chip and either blueberry or apple cinnamon)

Millet and chocolate chip muffins cooling while more are baking

~ Friday:  Yogurt, fruit and homemade whole wheat coffee cake or homemade cinnamon rolls

~ Saturday:  French toast or waffles

Typically, breakfast preparations are done by our oldest sons or on the weekends my, I am not the breakfast maker (only on rare occasions ;-D ).  We try to incorporate all the children in the kitchen at some point or another, giving them basic cooking skills that will help them when they have their own homes someday. 

"Give a man a fish, feed him for a day...TEACH a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime."  This statement applies to so many areas of child training...basic life skills are an important part of our family ~ cooking, doing one's laundry, helping with household chores, etc.  Not only are the skills learned helpful to them for when they are on their own, it is always a means of teaching them responsibility, building character and allows them to contribute to the family.

The few mornings when our oldest leaves early for work or classes or when my husband has to leave early for work, have been planned as easy to prepare breakfasts.  For example, of the older children can easily help heat up pancakes for everyone in the microwave.  Those that are home, gather around the kitchen table and have a time of prayer and enjoy our simple breakfast together.

Other breakfast favorites include:

~ Ham n' Jam croissants (quick and EASY)
~ Brunch Egg bake (usually make for special occasions and for Christmas morning breakfast)
~ Breakfast tortillas (when I make homemade tortillas, sometimes we will use the leftover tortillas to wrap scrambled eggs, shredded cheese and sauteed veggies or sausage altogether...delicious)

The sign of a tortilla maker on our table is a happy day!
What does breakfast look like in your home?  Who handles the preparations and is it a time everyone is still home, able to sit and start the day together or do schedules dictate a more varied start to the day?  Are your children incorporated into the morning preparations and if so, what parts do they play?  Every home is different, with different needs, schedules and priorities...what have you found to work for breakfast time?  Any tips or no-fail recipes?  Your comments are welcomed and a blessing to be able to glean from.

Blessings ~

To see how other families do breakfast check out 4 Moms:  35 Children where they are hosting Breakfast themed.

Also linking to Diary of a Stay at Home Mom for Cooking Thursday.

Making My Home a Haven...Music

This week's challenge from Courtney at Women Living Well is to play soft music everyday.  Our focus challenge is to be peaceful through our words and as mothers to work on gentleness.

Today began harried, with much needing to be done.  What was missing?  I always start my day in prayer, committing the day to the Lord and asking for grace to handle it as He may direct.  I try to meditate on a Scripture verse before starting my day as well.  The missing element this morning, music.  I try to play hymns for instrumentals as a backdrop each day in our kitchen so the tune is subtly carried through our living areas.  It seems to set the pace for things and a volume of low.

Well, afternoon is here...actually it's near evening and one of my favorite CD's is playing.  His Faithfulness ~ The Poetry of Amy Carmichael set to music by Jim Spencer.  Her lovely poems are peacefully sung by Sarah MacIntosh, Ingrid Dumosch and Shannon Wexelberg.  I highly recommend this treasure of poetry to feed your spirit. 

This week I will attempt to be diligent to watch my words and tone, extending gentleness for harshness (Proverbs 15:1).  I will try to be slow to speak and to never speak when angry {a lovely reminder while attending our weekly young ladies (and Mom's) group last week}.  I will try to extend antidotes of love sweetly whispered in my children's ear each day to remind them of my love for them in the midst of this confused world.  What will you do to practice peace through your words this week?

My day is usually ended as it began, in communion with my Lord.  All is still, the next day prepared for and everyone has been tucked in...the house takes a breath then and I breathe in His words.  I confess my stumbling and renew my mind with His forgiveness, His truth, His mercy with each morsel of those God-breathed words from His book.  What a gift we all have to be able to open It, read It and proclaim the truths that are found in It!

May peace be present in your homes this week as you create a haven for your families ~ 

If you would like to join the wonderful challenge Courtney is doing this month, click here to read more.

Making Your Home a Haven

Greetings! I pray that with this season change upon us (our Northern friends are surely in full thrust of rich colors now); it has brought about a refreshing breeze to your homes and lives. Like a breath of fresh air the Father above gives us through His word as we breathe it in daily, I hope this season will bring a renewed desire to be intentional in our living. If this is your first time visiting, be sure to leave a comment and say “hello” (or if you have visited before…leave a note to say you stopped by). My hope is that while here you will be encouraged in your calling as a wife, mother, daughter, sister…

Well, as a further encouragement during this lovely season, Courtney at Women Living Well is hosting an October challenge ~ Making Your Home a Haven. This challenge is broken down into weekly challenges for the month of October for intentional living as we focus on making our homes a haven.  (Monica from the homespun heart is also doing a similar challenge this week.)

As wives and mothers our days are full of Distractions, Demands and Duties…sometimes we can allow these to hinder our Delight. I intend for this challenge to help me intentionally refocus my attention onto the Lord and to pray more, live more intentionally and focus more on how my behavior and attitude can set the tone of my home.

Courtney’s first challenge for this week is to:

  • Light a candle everyday in your home (well, that’s pretty simple) AND
  • Every time your eye catches sight of your lit candle, to say a prayer for peace to be in your home. (This is what I would call the intentional part.)
    One in the hub of our home...the kitchen
Another near a beautiful reminder of God's quiet time candle

I did light a few candles yesterday (as well as today) and my prayer is for peace to be the tone of our home ~ peace between each other, peace with the Lord’s direction for our day and peace to take over when things may not go smoothly (with a home full of children there is always sharing and kindness with everyone putting others needs before their own usually a squabble to be had at some point … several points… during the day). As the aroma from the candles fill my home, I pray that peace will also be the unseen aroma that resides throughout it…by God’s grace and my intentional actions to aide in bringing that about.

Yesterday, we spent some time bringing out our autumn decorations and creating focal points of the rich colors this season provides. Our Creator is so giving to design us to have senses…senses to smell the fragrances of His creation, senses to tastes the fruits of each season, senses to see the beauty of His design (if we will just slow down long enough to look at it), senses to hear the sounds associated with a change in season and senses to touch that can warm our hearts.

How are you intentional in living, in such a way, to create a peaceful home? What have you found to be a way (or ways) to encourage peace and joy to be present? Your comments may be just the means used by the Lord to encourage someone today that is struggling in this area…

That peace would be evident ~

If you would like to participate in Courtney’s challenge you can click here to see the challenges for this month.

I am also linking up with Monica over at the homespun heart, doing a similar challenge titled Make Your Home a Haven each day during this week.  She has a lovely blog reflecting the beauty of her creativity and making her home a haven.

Frugal Fridays: Money, Resources and Time

Frugal, as defined in Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, means to be economical in the use of money, goods or provisions of any kind. Frugality is not a principle to frown upon, but one we should embrace as it is a means to freedom…be it, financial freedom, freedom from the bondage of “stuff” or freedom to do things the Lord puts before you to do (minister to the sick, to be hospitable, to serve others, etc.) because we have managed in such as way to allow us the “time” to do so.

Here are some of the frugal things that work for me in each category:

Money ~

We make our own laundry detergent and save much money by doing so. Here is the recipe we have found to work for us:

Ingredients ~

1 cup Borax
1 cup Washing Soda (not baking soda)
1 bar of Fels-Naptha (grated)
¼ cup Dr. Bonner’s Pure Castile Soap (we have used Tea Tree, Citrus Orange and Unscented for laundry soap making purpose…lavender would probably work just as well, too)
6 gallon bucket
Hot water (about 6 gallons)

Click here for my laundry soap post for instructions and my cost analysis.

Goods ~

I try to conserve resources (water, which we pay for) but limiting the amount of dishes I dirty in meal preparations. Whenever possible, I use one pot or one bowl for recipes. For baking recipes that say “cream” this in one bowl and “mix” dry goods in another, I “cream” in the mixing bowl and add the dry goods to it. My recipes have never flopped from not using that other bowl. When making a casserole or soup recipe, I use one pot for all my preparations…brown the meats, then add the veggies that need to be sautéed then the rest of the ingredients. Once again, our meals have turned out fine and I have saved from dirtying extra dishes, which ultimately saves water usage as I am washing less dishes.

Another water saving tip…catching rain water and using it to water plants or using cooking water to water them (once cooled). Why pour good costly water down the drain?

Time ~

I try to save time (which ultimately saves goods AND money) by menu planning. I have planned our meals for years and have found having a meal plan works for us. I have a breakfast menu, which is simple enough that the children (assigned to a couple of them) can prepare for the family. Our lunch menu was selected based on three factors: preparation time, nutritional balance and ease in preparing. Although they are not the most frugal lunches, they are still fairly economical when feeding a large crew. Our dinner menu is a four/five week rotation, without repeating any dishes (typically) for the month. I take advantage of sales and have built our pantry and freezer inventory over time, allowing me to keep those levels maintained which ultimately saves money and wasted trips to the store.

Another time saver is making a grocery list each week. I refer to our menu plan before each weekly shopping trip and base my shopping list on what items are low in our food inventory, the fresh produce items which will be needed for the upcoming week and any sales that may be happening at the two stores I buy from. Coupons are used (for items we regularly consume when I have them) and sticking to my list both save time and money. Our food budget for our family of 9 is around $150 per week and I regularly am able to stay within that budget. Now, I do not buy strictly organic (if I did that would reek havoc on my budget), but instead buy certain items such as milk, eggs, chicken, beef and pork (both purchased as part of a co-op locally) and some other basic items consumed regularly.

Well, those are my frugal tips for saving MONEY, GOODS and TIME. What do you do to save in those areas? I love learning from all you ladies out there, so leave me a comment, sharing your tips and helpful hints. If you would like to read what others do to be frugal, click here. This post has been linked up with Frugal Fridays.

Blessings as you save money, goods and time ~