About Me

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Married twenty-three years to my wonderful husband and best friend. We have 3 "home-grown" kids, 1 hand-picked by God from Africa and 1 very hyper-active dog. Our life is blessed. We are a close knit family with strong Christian beliefs. And just recently we have bought ourselves a farm. Do we know what we are doing? Nope. Come along with us on our journey…you might have a great laugh or two.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Recipes I can't live without...homemade bread

Have you ever thought about the bread you eat and what's in it? Oh sure, it might say it's whole wheat but read on down on the ingredients label and see if you can pronounce...much less know what it is...the rest of the ingredients listed (other than the whole wheat part). Personally, I looked up a couple of items and it's just scary.

Now, I know what your saying...but, it's ooey and gooey and sticks to the roof of your mouth when it's got peanut butter on it. Believe me, I've got four kids, I know. We could wipe out a loaf of bread in one sitting practically. But to me, it just didn't feel right giving them something that had stuff in it that wasn't really good for them...and is seriously so very easy to make. So, after testing quite a few bread recipes out in the land of the internet, here's the one that I found to be closest to what I call really good sandwich bread.

Ingredients:

3 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
1/3 cup honey
5 cups bread flour
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon salt
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Directions: (I have a big stand up mixer so I mix and knead all of the bread that way....much easier!)

In a large bowl, mix warm water, yeast, and 1/3 cup honey. Add 5 cups white bread flour, and stir to combine. Let set for 30 minutes, or until big and bubbly.

Mix in 3 tablespoons melted butter, 1/3 cup honey, and salt. Stir in 2 cups whole wheat flour. Flour a flat surface and knead with whole wheat flour until not real sticky - just pulling away from the counter, but still sticky to touch. This may take an additional 2 to 4 cups of whole wheat flour. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat the surface of the dough. Cover with a dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled.

Punch down and divide into 3 loaves. Place in greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans, and allow to rise until dough has topped the pans by one inch.

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 25 to 30 minutes; do not over bake. Lightly brush the tops of loaves with 2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine when done to prevent crust from getting hard. Cool completely. At this moment your house will smell divine...

When I'm finished, I freeze the extra bread so that I always have one ready. Enjoy!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Recipes I can't live without...homemade granola

Okay, in keeping with the "homemade" theme in our house...here's the recipe for our delicious homemade granola. Way cheaper than buying it in the stores and it makes a boatload of it.

Here's what you will need:

6 cups rolled oats
1 cup chopped walnuts, or cashews
1/2 cup sesame seeds (I've used pistachio nuts...just because that's all I had)
1/2 cup flax seed
1/2 cup wheat germ, (optional...but recommended, because it's good for you)
1 cup unsalted sunflower seeds (I have trouble finding these cheap so I usually omit this)
3/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup honey
1 cup dried cranberries

Directions: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). In a large bowl, stir together the oats, nuts, sesame seeds, wheat germ, and sunflower seeds. In a small pan over medium heat, stir together the oil and honey. Cook and stir until blended. Pour over the oat mixture, and stir to coat evenly. Spread out in an even layer on a cookie sheet. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, or until golden brown. (I usually stir about every 10 minutes so that the granola is evenly golden) Immediately after it comes out of the oven mix in the dried cranberries. Store in an airtight container when it cools.

Mix this with the homemade yogurt and fresh raspberries and you've got yourself one whopper of a humdinger of a breakfast. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Recipes I can't live without...homemade yogurt

Since our little "experiment" to go all natural, less processed and organic began in our household a month or so ago...well, there are a few things that I have been cooking like crazy.

One is my homemade yogurt. The funny thing is that we didn't even eat that much yogurt before all of this. For one reason, is that it is very expensive to buy those tiny little sugary things. Then, you could never find a flavor that everyone liked and believe me, no one would touch the unflavored kind. Then I started making my own. Man, my family just gobbles this stuff up. So, I'm going to share my recipe with you...okay, technically it's not my recipe but it's the one I use and it's perfect. To keep things on the crazy side of life....I even make the stuff in a crock pot.

So here goes....You will need 1 half gallon of organic whole milk (I've used 1% as well, because that's all I had in the house and it worked just fine), 1 cup of plain yogurt and 1 packet of unflavored gelatin.

Step 1: In a crock pot, pour in 1/2 gallon of whole milk and 1 packet of unflavored gelatin. Whisk together, cover and set on low. After 2.5 hours, shut it off. With the lid on, let the warm milk set for 3 more hours.

Step 2: After 3 hours, whisk one container (or one cup) of plain yogurt into the heated milk.

Step 3: Cover the crock pot with a blanket or a couple of towels and allow to sit overnight or at least 8 - 10 hours. When you check the mixture at the end, it should be thickened.

Step 4: Stir the yogurt and refrigerate.

That's it! My family loves this stuff. Now, I should mention that this is obviously plain yogurt, so we add a small amount of sugar to our individual bowls when we add in the fruit and granola. The yogurt doesn't do well if you add the sugar or fruit at the beginning of the process. (also, make sure that you keep 1 cup of the yogurt from your previous batch so you can make it again...one less thing to buy)

Next, I'll give you my recipe for homemade granola...another recipe you're going to love!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Hours upon hours...

Hours upon hours of training in the water....

Hours upon hours at a swim meet...

Hours upon hours of waiting your turn to swim...

Ask both of my kids....

Hours of hours of fun...

Our swim season is slowly coming to a close and I think the kids are feeling a bit sad. Just a few more weeks to go and then they get a break from the constant practice. Me, I get a break from washing towel after towel after towel. They have improved every time that have competed in the water and that to me is the biggest accomplishment of all. Here's a few photos from this swimming season.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Happy Birthday my 14 year old...

It seems to me that my son is getting taller, and taller and TALLER every single birthday. I tell him all the time that he's like some sort of freak of nature because of his height...but know this... it's all out of love.

Today was his 14th birthday. He was easy to please on this one. All he wanted was books, books and more books. Between the books we gave to him and the ones my mother sent to him he practically will be set for a month...or at least a week...given how fast that boy reads. He is such a teenager right now. He loves to make people laugh and is always coming up with an "idea" on how to enter a room...your guess is as good as mine on that one. He's into basically whatever his Dad is into at the moment and loves to spend time with him. That to me is a good thing...a son always needs his Dad. He is also such an easy to please child. He didn't even complain when we "reused" the Cars birthday tablecloth for his birthday...of course, that confused our little boy something fierce (he thought his turn was up again). He is a blessing to this family and will help out whenever I ask him to. I love that boy...all 856 feet of his wingspan. Happy 14th Birthday...we love you!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Is that my Grandmommy?...


We were at Costco one Sunday after church. As we got done with our shopping the two little ones and I waited for my husband and the older ones to bring the car around to pick us up. I was involved in a conversation with my little girl when my little son tugged and pulled at my coat sleeve.


"Mom....Mom....Mom", he said. "What is it?" "Is that my Grandmommy?" he said. The grin on his face was priceless and so full of hope. I looked back over my shoulder and saw a older woman with a haircut kind of like my Mom's and blonde hair. She was obviously with her grandchild and was singing and playing with them...and for a single moment my heart hurt. You see, my mother lives on the West coast...about a far as your can get from us without falling into the ocean. It is times like these that I miss her so very much. "Is that my Grandmommy?", he asked again, bringing my thoughts back to him. "No sweetie, that's someone else's Grandmommy. But she sure does look pretty special, huh?" "Yeah", he said with a smile.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Happy Birthday my 3 year old...

Today was our little one's 3 year old birthday. He chose to have a Cars 2 birthday party with a chocolate cake. Okay, granted the girls and I chose the chocolate cake part but he didn't seem to mind. That boy has as much love for chocolate as all of us girls do. He loved his presents. We got him some more Car 2 "shake n' go" cars" to add to his collection he got for Christmas. He adores them...it's all about Cars right now for him. He also got a couple of ride on toys...a scooter and a big wheel. They're great for the long winter days inside.
Happy Birthday my baby boy...3 years old. I can't believe it... We love you so very much!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

I'm going to blame this one on the milk...

I have fallen off the cliff...jumped overboard...become obsessive....BUT THIS TIME...I'm going to blame it on the milk.

You see, I have been contemplating for a while now about changing our milk to organic milk. The more I research organic milk (the pros and cons) the more I think it is the best thing for our family. Less pesticides and antibiotics. Well, this sounds simple, right? Wrong! We drink a little over a gallon of milk a day. Money plays a major issue in this factor. A gallon of organic milk here cost and upwards of 6 dollars or more. For us, you don't just add in that significant cost without making some sort of "adjustment"...and that's where the laundry comes in.

I made a list of all of the things we spend a lot of money on. Milk was first...laundry detergent was a close second (apparently we are very dirty people here...) or I like to think of it as we are very CLEAN people. So I decided to just shift the laundry money to the milk side of the table. Well, you can't just not "do" laundry so I had to find a way to make that cost drop dramatically. I began diving into research of how to make your own laundry detergent. I found a recipe from the Duggar family website and took on a little experiment of my own. I would give it several weeks and see what our laundry looks and smells like after that...basically see if I noticed any differences.

I am happy to report that after several weeks I will NEVER go back to paying for Tide ever again. I spent a whopping 7 dollars on the homemade laundry materials...made a good 640 loads worth of detergent and barely made a dent in the supplies I bought for it. Viola! I found my milk money....

I wish I could say that it stopped there...but alas, I have fallen off the cliff...jumped overboard...become obsessive. Next, came the homemade yogurt and granola. Then it was juicing all of our drinks (orange, apple, etc.) and making all of our breads. I have been reading everything an anything on going organic all the way. Once we are out of all of our cleaning supplies, I plan on making my own stuff there as well. Vinegar and baking soda are very cheap and work wonders.

It's like taking on one big "experiment" for me. Exactly how much can I make homemade in the house. I know some of you are thinking...yeah, what about your time involved. Well, you'd be surprised...it takes a lot less time than you think...just a bit more planning. Plus less processed foods and more natural for the kids. It just makes sense. And man oh, man has our budget ever looked so good!

Now, if I can just talk my husband into a few chickens in the backyard....Ahhhhh!!!! Someone help me, I've become a pioneer woman.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Perspective...

Time is a funny thing. It keeps moving whether you want it to or not. Time also has a way of making you put things into "perspective"...but that doesn't come overnight.

My 2 year old lives in the moment. He only knows about the right now. When he wakes up (from a nap or whatever), he just assumes it's the next day. We have to teach him about time. About the changes that happen...sometimes slowly...and sometimes way faster than you would like. But it's all about time.

My 7 year old knows more about time. She understands the concept but still lives for each day. She has trouble looking too far ahead in the future. She's impatient. And that's what we teach her...patience...about time.

My 12 year old knows even more, but she's a bit stuck. She wants to be a part of the "right here, right now" moment but she can wait...better than her sister, I might add...but still she's learning about time.

My 13 year old....we'll time for him is rushing past. To me, he seems to be racing through his lifetime...growing up too fast. He sees the future so close, but yet cannot reach. At the same time he's longs to still be the kid. And that's what we teach him...that it's okay to wait and still enjoy the moment.

As you age and more and more time passes you by. Suddenly you realize that it's not time you are learning about...but perspective. You begin to look at things and see what really counts in life. What matters most to you...

For this new year, I pray that each and everyone of you find your perspective in life...