FOR TODAY...Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Outside my window...somewhat muggy for an autumn day ~ where did our cool breezes go? Where did the 70 something temps go? I had to turn the air on to get the stickiness out…ugh!

I am thinking...about a lot of things. My mind is like an Energizer bunny…it just keeps going and going and going, especially this time of year.

I am thankful for...

#31 ~ great dental appointments today {five of the children had appointments today and all had great reports},

#32 ~ Sam’s Club {our six week run today after dental check-ups and I am hoping to not go again until after the first of the year…well, maybe for a Christmas shopping trip but not to stock up},

#33 ~ Growing up {Austin got his learner’s permit today yesterday…where does the time go?},

#34 ~ snickerdoodle cookies and the boy who loves to make all things cookies,

#35 ~ Operation Christmas Child {our way to give to those who would not otherwise have and praying that the Gospel message would be shared to each child}

Drop Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes off between November here to find a location near you.

#36 ~ easy meals {Shrimp Alfredo tonight last night and Texas toast…yum}

#37 ~ visits with friends

#38 ~ improving stamina for mom these past few days

#39 ~ nature sightings {yesterday a bald eagle chasing another bird until it dropped the fish in flight at which time the eagle caught it and flew to a nearby tree…and today yesterday a huge red-headed woodpecker} ~ lovely pictures of His creation

#40 ~ opportunities to serve others and hopefully be a witness of His grace

#41 ~ buzz cuts for boys

#42 ~ using leftover veggies to make a nice side dish for dinner…thanks to a friend’s yummy recipe

I am praying for…upcoming weekend events ~ football, a wedding and fellowship time; next week’s activities ~ Thanksgiving dinner here; for yielding hearts to live out the Gospel; a mouth that is SLOW to speak…and ears that are QUICK to listen; a young family going through a challenging time; Mom; the Lord to provide a window of opportunity to spend with a couple friends next week

From the learning rooms...well, I’ve worked on this post for 3 days now…so much learning has been taking place, hence the delay in getting THIS done. I am contemplating shutting down for the rest of the week to just do Thanksgiving stories, activities, and all things related. I think we could all use this time away from our SCHEDULE and focus on history, gratitude and preparations.

From the kitchen...tonight ~ Squash casserole {thanks to my friend’s recipe} as a side dish with rice buttermilk biscuits and stuffed chicken. This week’s menu:

Sunday ~ was SIMPLE…leftovers

Monday ~ “Tortilla Night”!!! VERY happy children!

Tuesday ~ Shrimp Alfredo and Texas toast

Wednesday ~ above

Thursday ~ Baked ziti w/ spinach asiago chicken sausage and garlic rolls

Friday ~ ?...leftovers

Saturday ~ Santé Fe soup topped with shredded fiesta blend cheese, sour cream and Fritos chips…yummy!

I am wearing...white cotton skort, black tee, bare feet and hair pulled back in a simple clipped ponytail

I am creating...Thanksgiving plans and memories as I list a simple agenda and menu for the day…still looking forward to carving out some time for sewing skirts this coming week.

I am going...contemplating taking the children to a historical lecture tomorrow afternoon about the Roosevelt’s, to the Dollar Tree and to the nail salon {using the last of my gift certificate from my birthday…thanks Zach} later today tomorrow evening, and errands Friday afternoon with football practice in the evening…the weekend will comprise of picking up our pork order from a local farm Saturday AM, football directly after that {their last game before playoffs in December}, a much anticipated wedding and sweet fellowship, then church and maybe more fellowship time on Sunday.

I continue reading...just the Bible and read alouds to the children.

I am hearing...the vacuum running in the garage, the AC {yes, it had to be turned on due to sticky humid weather}, a girl just getting up from her afternoon nap and children stirring in their afternoon activities.

Around the, clothes purging and organizing {I feel like I just did this…they just keep growing!}, Thanksgiving Day preparations and lots of paperwork for the business.

One of my favorite things…the smell of the air when it is crisp and cool, fireplaces burning and a nice cup of hot {warm} cocoa…okay, that was three.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing…

Blessings ~

 Linked to:




Food Storage for Large Families

This week I’m linking to 4 Moms: 35 Kids ~ How Moms of Many Manage and posting on the topic of food storage for large families.  See links at the bottom to their sites for more ideas on making the most of your food storage area, maybe get some storage ideas and money saving tips.

Why have a food "pantry"?
Living in a hurricane possible location, having food on hand and a plan for keeping our perishables from spoiling in a power outage is just sensible. Building a food pantry has cost benefits for our family, too. As most large families, feeding the crew can be expensive if you don’t plan and budget appropriately for it. For this reason and others, I try to buy based on the best unit price and for certain foods will buy based on the healthiest choice. With the savings over time having a food pantry provides, healthier purchases can be made on certain foods while staying within our overall weekly budget. Basically speaking then we have three reasons for having a food pantry: cost benefit, preparedness benefit and nutrition benefit. Every family who has a food pantry will reflect the needs and priorities of that family with amounts of what to have on hand, the types of foods selected to store and the space allotted for doing so factors to consider.

How do we build our food "pantry"?

As a large family, saving money and stretching the ever-decreasing valued dollar is a weekly endeavor. Over time and as our food budget permits, I make purchases when items are on sale, using coupons when available, but mainly focusing on the bottom line…the best unit price. I will buy extras of those sale items {only purchasing the items we like and use} and store them in our food pantry. This method helps to build having extras on hand of the items we consistently use. When meal planning, I have attempted to keep our meals simple, drawing from recipes that use normal, everyday ingredients. Having a meal plan helps to save money and save food waste.

Where do we make purchases from to build our food "pantry"?

1. Buying in bulk {i.e. Sam’s Club, Costco Wholesale Club, etc.}

2. Purchasing through a food co-op {i.e. BreadBeckers, Montana Wheat Company, etc.}

3. taking advantage of buy one get one free offers

4. using store and manufacturer’s coupons or competitor ads being match by select retailers {Wal*Mart will match any valid competitors ad for the exact item, Publix will accept select competitors’ coupons and some stores double coupons…ask your local grocery or discount chain in your area to see what they will do}

5. purchasing meat from local farm for no hormones, no antibiotics, grain/grass fed purposes {i.e. beef and pork}

Other options could include: purchasing from local farmers or farmer’s markets for fresh/organic produce or even an organic produce co-op, growing your own fruits and vegetables or bartering with those who do, and discount food chains or outlets.

Where do we store these savings and how?

I have posted on storage ideas in the past here, but this week I will cover more specifically our food storage areas.

1. Meats ~ if bought in bulk from the grocery or wholesale club, then we will repackage it into freezer bags based on our families’ consumption and date the package, remove air and lay flat in our upright freezer {maximizing the space}

2. Can goods and boxed items ~ I keep opened and a base amount in our inside kitchen pantry…I’ll call this my working pantry and my surplus is kept in our garage storage area.

     a. First, my kitchen pantry storage:

          i. Items such as pasta, dry beans, baking supplies, snacks, dry cereals, etc. of which we would use on a frequent basis are kept inside and stored in glass jars like these or these {both made in the USA}, Tupperware storage containers like these, plastic storage bins, or food buckets.

          ii. When my base count gets low, I will refill that item into its storage container {i.e. Pastas are removed from their manufacturer packaging and put in the labeled storage container designated. Dry beans are emptied from their packaging and kept in glass jars. Snack items such as popcorn, animal crackers, snack bars, crackers, etc. are removed from their manufacturer boxes and stored in their designated containers. This allows my kitchen pantry to stay organized, gives me a visual on when my stock is getting low {since the containers are clear} and keeps food from spoiling, as their containers are air tight.

     b. Next, my garage storage area {you can read a little about it here}:

          i. I now have floor to ceiling adjustable wall shelving {thanks to my dear husband} for storing my extra can items, boxed items and room for my 5 gallon buckets underneath {these are the ones with air-tight gamma lids on them}

          ii. I have used the old storage shelf for putting wheat buckets, canning supplies and seasonal kitchen supplies on.

          iii. I have a couple wire rack shelves for storing bulk paper products, storage containers and baskets {for our ongoing organizing & re-organizing projects in our home}, hospitality items {i.e. drink containers, trays and divided platters, chargers, etc.} and bulk drinks {water bottles, flavored juices, etc.}

3. Perishables ~ Items I will stock up on such as milk, eggs, cheese, in-season fruits and veggies are kept in our kitchen refrigerator with extras kept in our garage refrigerator. This method allows me to take advantage of sales, thus saving money in the long run.

For our large family, doing items 1-6 above are beneficial for our pocket books as well as our health. Side benefits from having a food pantry include having food during slow economic times {aren’t we there now?}, for preparedness in response to natural disasters {hurricanes, flooding, power outages, etc.} when trips to the store may not be possible and even ministering to others who may be in need.

I draw from the Scriptures in providing for our family without becoming out-of-balance or extreme. Our faith and trust is in the Lord to provide therefore, our trust and hope is NOT in our food pantry or earthly possessions. Here are a few to verses to encourage you as well:

  • A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. He who gathers in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame. Proverbs 10:4-5 {not to be one who would seek riches of this earth, but on the contrary, one who is willing to work so their future is secure}
  •  She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. She considers a field and buys it with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Proverbs 31:14-16, 18, 20-21, 25, 27 {to be a woman who is resourceful, is profitable in her undertakings, is giving, is aware of the needs of her own family and insures those needs are met, is a preparer and secure in the days ahead and works diligently for her family}
  • Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21 {the balance…not to be so consumed with a food storage pantry and its contents…or anything else for that matter, that it becomes the hope and source of faith and trust ~ not to replace the Lord who is over all}

Basically, my hope is to be the best “keeper of my home” as possible, drawing from the Lord’s word for how to do that, gleaning from others so that we can be good stewards of what He provides and trusting in Him to provide for all our needs as He sees fit to do.

May you seek His direction for ways to maximize what space He has given you and His wisdom to prepare as He leads you.

Blessings ~

Linked this week to:

Visit Kimberly, Connie, the Headmistress of the Common Room, & Kim C
In my life this past week…

Care giving was a primary focus. Mom had a difficult week so added time with her was adjusted into our days {and nights}. A yielding heart to God’s direction and flexibility from each person in the family is both important components to handling curve-balls thrown into normal routines. For me, a knowledge and keen awareness of how life is truly just a vapor, does help accept changes to our schedule. In the BIG picture of life, we are not guaranteed another day, let alone another moment. With mom being sick these past couple of years and seeing first hand the mercy of God in that does make prioritizing what truly is most meaningful to be first, even when it is not convenient. To live in peace in the sovereignty of God in all areas of our lives…to make the most of each moment…to create memories and deep relationships with those He has put into our lives…to hope that I would be yielding to be used by Him for His glory in whatever capacity He calls me to…to be ready in season and out of season to share the Word which is the hope within me. These are the truths that I try to meditate on and allow to encourage me to do what is right.

What’s coming up this week…

the usual Orchestra practices, football practices and game, a much anticipated home school park day to take advantage of the glorious Florida autumn weather and an appointment with my mid-wife {looking forward to seeing how much Carolyne has grown}.

In our home school this week…

Carolyne continues to be a good nurser, is sleeping a bit better during the days and is greatly loved by all her siblings…not lacking love and attention. Liz and K continue to keeping us on our toes, provide MANY opportunities for training and give me encouragement on how great they are GOING to be as they get older…after their energy is refined. ;-)

Enjoying a good nap this past week...
Graham’s excitement for learning is rewarding and makes learning easy…new letters, continuing to learn blend sounds and sounds out WORDS! He is doing well with math and quotes his addition families during meals often. ;-)

Alyssa continues to work on multiplication and division in ABeka 3 Arithmetic, is enjoying reading The Secret of the Maple Tree {and a myriad of other books…my bookworm} and has asked several times for our sewing time to make skirts…maybe during our Thanksgiving break.

Logan worked on science this morning making the earth out of Rice Crispie treats…Apologia Astronomy. It worked well for the most part ~ until covering the treat balls with melted chocolate…VERY messy and made them start to come apart…fun though and a reminder that learning is messy, but sometimes the mess makes it memorable. ;-)
Before the Crispie spheres were covered in chocolate...that was the messy part that was stopped after covering about six of them.  Oh well, the mess was part of the fun and makes learning the layers of the earth memorable. ;-)

As I type this post, Austin is in his private cello lesson then will be off to orchestra after that. He continues showing diligence in his studies in spite of helping with home projects, pitching in with younger siblings when needed and taking on several paying jobs this past week. I am pleased with how the Lord is using it all to further develop good character in him which will make him a better husband and father one day.

Zach took a small reprieve from work and studies this weekend to enjoy a weekend event our family enjoys twice a year. Good fellowship time, good music and just time away from his normal routine will hopefully give a boost to upcoming papers and finals.

Things I’m working on…

food storage areas. Mark has added adjustable wall shelving in our garage to maximize the space I have for my food pantry. The heavy duty shelf unit we had been using had a lot of wasted space and things just didn’t fit properly. With the new shelving I have increased my storage space and was able to adjust each shelf to the height needed to the food items I keep on it. I have been working on stocking my pantry for rainy days, taking advantage of sales {especially buy one get one offers} to stretch the ever decreasing value of our dollars. In this economy you never know what the next day will be like, so having extra on hand just makes good economic sense…we always need to eat. ;-)

I’m cooking…

This week’s menu:

Sunday: Out-to-eat BBQ after a full day of activities

Monday: Chicken Cordon Bleu, yellow rice, mixed veggies and biscuits
        Old-fashioned Soft Pumpkin Cookies {yummy!}

Ready to be put in the oven...

 Tuesday: Cheesy sausage and rice casserole {I also add about 5 sliced yellow squash to our casserole and more rice}, croissants

Wednesday: Shrimp Alfredo over bow ties, Texas toast and buttered peas

Thursday: Slow cooked BBQ chicken, pressure cooked potatoes, green beans w/bacon & onions

Friday: Meatball alphabet veggie soup, rolls

We enjoy this soup on cold's expected to be highs of 67 on Friday, so a perfect compliment to the day.  ;-)
Saturday: Leftovers

I’m grateful for…

#22 ~ messy learning

#23 ~ lives intertwined daily…homeschooling is an instrumental part of keeping our lives connected

#24 ~ laundry to wash…the day will arrive when the work load is minimal and I will miss having the dirty laundry drawers filled

#25 ~ Fall Jamboree traditions…a weekend full of folk and gospel music, good friends, barn dancing, special treats

#26 ~ a boy who beams with delight as his feet dance the Broom Dance, Virginia Reel & Gypsy Dance to name a few
A more confident boy he selects 4 girls to dance with on the Broom Dance...too funny.
#27 ~ a picnic lunch in spite of mosquitoes and looming rain

#28 ~ thorns…a reminder of how such a small thorn causes such discomfort…a picture of how little sins cause big pain…great life lessons.

#29 ~ hard work…good character being sown through doing the hard things

#30 ~ pumpkin cookies and a cold glass of milk

I’m praying for…

the Light to shine in this dark world…that we would not miss our opportunities to speak truth into the lives of all He brings into our paths and that our lives would reflect His love, mercy and grace…the world all around us needs Him so.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…

Visit Joy here for a list of great Thanksgiving resources to enhance this upcoming holiday...she has a lovely blog and her post is an encouragement to have a heart of gratitude.

Blessings ~

Linked with:

Visit Ann here

Click here to meet Sue

Meet Laura here

Pumpkin, Projects, "Pretties" and Praise

This past week was a time for all of the above. 

Kailynn and I made pumpkin muffins. I used all freshly milled soft whole wheat flour instead of a combination of all-purpose and whole wheat as the recipe stated. I love the autumn season and the pumpkin recipes that accompany it!

Alyssa and I also made this delicious pumpkin bread recipe we found on Raising Homemakers. It was simple to make and lives up to its name...Delicious Pumpkin Bread!  This is definately more of a dessert than bread...delish!  {And here's a frugal tip for you...when you use your butter sticks, take the wrapper and put in the freezer.  When you need to grease a pan, take the frozen wrapper and rub on your pan to grease...and then through away.  This method utilizes that last bit of butter ~ no waste and pennies saved.  ;-) }

Another family favorite pumpkin treat are these pumpkin sandwiches.

Pumpkin has such wonderful nutritional benefits. {nutritional facts found here}

Of course, these recipes are not as healthy due to the sugar and butter, but oh do they taste good.

These treats have made completing projects less laborious. ;-) Austin has been busy getting things ready for fall fun.
A close up of one of the boxes...some re-purposed {or being frugal...however you want to look at it} wood from our old deck still being used for new projects.  Sand for the pit area and black mulch for the "platform" area.

Here's a distant shot with a glimpse of some improved landscaping down at the rear of our property...two planters:  one with crotons, aloe and some flower plants the other in the top right contain iris plants.

The horseshoe pits are completed and the garden is planted for winter, which we hope will provide a nice crop of lettuce, cabbage and two kinds of potatoes. The potatoes we are experimenting with…how hard can it be to grow potatoes? Last year our lettuce turned out well and the cabbage…it’s a locally grown crop, so the climate is right for it. We are using starter plants for both greens.  Time will tell what this winter crop will be...

Cabbage starter plants before he put them in the garden boxes.

 The girls and I enjoyed some “girl time” this past week…with toenail painting on a rainy morning. It’s been a long time since I have painted toenails for the girls and they were delighted! They were happy to pick their colors and little special stickers. It was a perfect opportunity to talk about how Jesus served his disciples by washing their feet and how we should seek to serve one another as Christ gave us this example to follow.

 This month is a wonderful month to lift up praise to Him from whom all blessings flow. As we read our Thanksgiving books this month, fill out “Thanksgiving” leaves for our “Tree of Thanks” and seek to serve one another {and others}, we cultivate a heart of praise. Those moments each day when we take time to “Be still and know He is God”, provide opportunity to give Him praise for all He is and does. Throughout the day, when we listen to our worship music, we can lift our voices in songs of praise. I love hearing the children singing Amazing Grace, Come Thou Fount and Be Thou My Vision as much as hearing them sing the children songs A Little Missionary, This Little Light of Mine, and Jesus Loves Me. To cultivate a heart of thanksgiving at an early age…

In celebration of Thanksgiving this month, I am planning to do a GIVEAWAY that week. I hope you will be blessed and join in ~ check back for details SOON. Until then, have a blessed weekend and let your heart be filled with praise!

Blessings ~

Linked this week to:

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY...Tuesday, November 2, 2011

Outside my window...beautiful Florida autumn weather with temperatures in the 70’s, cool breezes throughout the day {great for hanging out laundry} and a warm sun that feels so good on the face.

Our tall Sycamore trees blowing in today's morning breeze...the sun's rays breaking through the branches making the leaves glisten a Florida autumn color ~ much green still remaining.

I am thinking...I hope today Carolyne has a better day…which means we will all have a better day; praying she doesn’t have tummy bubbles today and will actually take a couple of good naps ~ much gets done during naptimes around here.  AND it's been far too long since I posted my daybook, too.

So far, so good...a peaceful morning due to a sleeping Carolyne Joy.

I am thankful for...physical health, the refreshing change in weather making outside work and play enjoyable, each day the Lord has given…how precious and short this life is {may I not take it for granted, but use the moments I am given well…}.

Mark & Austin take advantage of the great autumn weather and work on making horseshoe pits in the back area of the property...this will be great outdoor fun!

I am praying for…my mom, my uncle & his family at the loss of their son, a friend’s mother who will be having surgery on Thursday, and for intentional living.

From the learning rooms...beginning to read {5 yr old}, practicing division problems {8 yr old}, dividing fractions {11 yr old}, practicing several classical pieces on the cello {15 yr old} and two of our children practicing a song to be sang in a couple of weeks at church…life skills are daily being learned in baking, constructing horse shoe pit and log rack for fire wood.

Loving Apoligia LIVE classes this year for's going GREAT!
Working on ABeka arithmetic this morning...division is our new focus and review of the other signs...of course, ABeka makes math challenging. ;-)
Handwriting and Henty...the perfect match.  This morning Logan's listening to Winning His Spurs, a classic about the crusades during King Richard the Lion Heart's era.  He's battling his own war, so to speak, with a head ache this morning.
An ABeka activity today was to drawn your breakfast on a paper plate...K drew an egg on hers and Graham drew an egg, bacon and a blueberry muffin on's breakfast.  ;-)

Logan made a whole wheat chocolate chip cookie recipe completely on his own this weekend and served them to the outdoor crew {Mark, Austin and the rest of us}.  They turned out delicious...job well done!
Austin used leftover wood from our backyard remodel summer project to construct this fire wood rack.  This will be great for this autumn/winter evening fires with s'more making!

From the kitchen...meatloaf tonight with fresh steamed green beans and pressure cooked potatoes.

I am wearing...a long, black cotton skirt with a cornflower blue scoop neck t-shirt, bare feet and hair pulled back in a long pony-tail…simple, comfortable outer attire covering a peaceful spirit

I am creating...more like what I’d like to be creating and hope to work on this week ~ updating Carolyne’s scrapbook, making circle skirts for the 3 girls {this is a BIG ambition…not sure time will permit}, and a new “Thanksgiving Tree” to use this month.

I am see if we can do a fire this week with s’more making ~ the children are looking forward to this activity…we do this time of year…the boys will be more than willing to cut some fire wood and my husband is always ready to sit around the fire {s’mores are just icing on the cake}…maybe we’ll do our devotion time around the fire and hymn singing, too. The more I sit here thinking about it, the more it’s moving up on the “let’s-do list” this week!

I continue reading...and meditating on Scripture ~ last night the Gospel of John.

I am hearing...the sound of the washing machine, ABeka phonics video lesson and the sound of the breeze blowing through the leaves as the windows are open this morning

Around the house...continued projects for making the most of the space our Lord has given us to serve our family and extend hospitality to family & friends; daily lessons; baking {cookie recipes being tested weekly with the children} and cleaning/organizing {a continual process in our cozy home of 10}.

One of my favorite things…the rich colors of autumn {artificially created in our home, since Florida’s autumn is a far cry from the mountains north of us!}, cool nights, a fire in the fire pit and a cup of “warm” cocoa ~ okay, so that’s more than ONE, but they all tie together so nicely.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing…

She loves braided pig-tails...or as she would say, "Mom, tie my hair in two ponies."  ;-)

Blessings this week ~

Thanks Peggy for hosting this Simple Woman's Daybook.