What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Yarn Along

It took printing out the graph 7 times and then gluing the repeats in order on a piece of construction paper for me to finally get the colorwork of this bonnet right.  I wisened up after the 6th or 7th try and too many times ripping out  rows (and rows) of stitches.  (I am slow learner, apparently.)  I have finished the colorwork portion now so I am hopefully optimistic that it will be smooth sailing from here on out and that I might even get this project done before it is too small for Ineke.  

I decided that I would absolutely not start any more projects until I get rid of some (or all) of my WIPs lingering in baskets by the couch.  And then I saw two pesky remnants of yarn that kept tangling up in my project yarn so I whipped up an earwarmer for Corynn with them.  Nothing fancy- just something to get those yarn bits out of the basket.  Of course, then Adele' thought she might need an earwarmer too-so she has put in an order for one as well...rainbow colored.

  Then I got to thinking I might like to make a few festive dishrags to give to a few galpals for Valentine's Day.  This one is awfully cute.  Putting off the WIP's for a week wouldn't hurt, surely.  I can focus on them next week. ;-)

I'm reading We Didn't Know They Were Angels by Doris Greig.  It is a book about Christian hospitality on loan from my mother several months ago.  She has asked about it a few times so I think I had better set aside my other reads for the time being and focus on getting this book done.  Like yarn things, I also tend to have a pile of different books I am working on all at the same time.

 It seems like my life right now might lack a bit of....focus.  ;-)

Monday, February 08, 2016

Week 1 of the No-Groceries-in-February Challenge


~ shredded wheat
~ cinnamon oatmeal
~ omelets with queso blanco cheese
~ homemade vanilla yogurt with toast
~ scrambled eggs
~ Fiesta Omelets (omelets topped with onions, peppers, tomatoes, garlic, salsa and homemade queso cheese.) and caramelized onions
~ banana muffins (using up old, brown bananas)

~ sandwiches everyday but two....most with HC jam, some with homemade garlic dill queso blanco
~ cheeseburger casserole (brought over by my SIL Holly)
~ beans and rice

~ Chili with drop biscuits and queso blanco cheese
~ Turkey Potpie,  green beans, applesauce
~ Leftovers
~ Pizza, carrot sticks, ranch dressing for dip
~ BBQ chicken drumsticks, pizza dip with crackers, carrot and celery sticks
~ Lasagna with collards (because I needed to use up the two batches of ricotta I had made), applesauce, corn boiled in a splash of milk
~ Loaded Nachos 

Pecan sticky buns (Possibly.  Did you come over for a visit last week Elizabeth...or the week before? I can't remember.)
Caprese Salad (for church meal)
Dried Apples (snacks)
Popcorn (snacks)

My approach to food this week was very lackadaisical.  I stayed with stuff I could reach for quickly in the fridge freezer instead of going into the chest freezer (the whole post of this challenge!)  I took the lazy route (as usual) with lunches, fixing sandwiches mostly, knowing that all this bread eating is going to result in no store-bought bread by next week if I am not careful.  I also continue to eat too many handfuls of chocolate chips (60%  cocoa Ghirardelli chips are my weakness and are not bought for baking but for Mama) throughout the day.  These will be gone too if I don't start to show some restraint and then there will be NO CHOCOLATE.

I hope to go through my chest freezers this week to get an idea of what needs to be used up.  In theory, this should help me to be more intentional and creative with food prep.  IN THEORY.  I was, however, more intentional about taking photos of food which is a challenge for me in winter (lighting is so crummy-as you can see with the finished lasagna picture above) and often something I avoid.  But posts about food still need a snapshot or two, am I right?

At this point, the cupboards still overflow with opportunities and I wonder if this month will be difficult at all.  (Except for maybe the chocolate situation.)

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

FUNNY FACE (and a February Challenge)

Thanks everyone for the advice and feedback from my last post!  There were plenty of good ideas swirling around (I knew there would be!) and lots of encouragement too.  I got a hanging rack for the boys' clothes and while it is not very aesthetically pleasing to a room, it has already made a marked improvement to the rumpled clothes situation.   Another major factor after reading your comments is that I have no dirty clothes baskets in the childrens' rooms.  They have to haul them downstairs to the laundry-which apparently is too much hassle.  ;-)  I am thinking a hamper in each room will not only help the kids take care of dirty clothes but also will be a good step in them doing their own laundry.   Because we use the outside clothesline exclusively when weather permits, it isn't always possible to do a load a day or give certain people laundry chores on certain days...but for the moment it would be a great introduction to laundry duty for the children.

As you gathered from the last post, every winter I get bit by the clutterbug and now is right about the time.  And when I get bit, nothing is safe from scrutiny.  Not even the food.  Right about now is when I start looking at our freezers, pantry and canning shelves and realize all that work I did of 'putting up' is only worthwhile if we actually eat it.

I have a confession to make: I am pretty terrible about going deepsea diving in our freezers and instead 'skim off the top' and supplement with the grocery store.

It's apparently too much hassle. (blush)

Thef fact is...there is no need to go to the grocery store for meat and veggies when I have two freezers worth of food and a fully canning cupboard waiting for me.  That is pretty ridiculous.  I need to use up the food we have put up right now in order to make room for the food we will be putting up this year.  Not to mention- I could use the extra cash I save from avoiding the grocery store.  Not to mention, the bathroom scale is begging for me to stay away from the sweets and crackers that inevitably come home with us from the grocery store. Win.Win.Win.

This month I am giving myself another NO GROCERY CHALLENGE in which I will not buy any food at grocery stores for the whole month.  I did a Nothing-But-Dairy grocery challenge in 2014, incidentally, also in February.  (Is this maybe due to the fact that February is the shortest month perhaps?!)  But thanks to the abundance of dairy that Penny is giving us (four gallons a day at one milking!) I won't even need to buy that.  I know we will run out of certain convenience things (like bread) and some delicious things that I can't produce myself (like cheddar) but overall, it shouldn't be all that much of a challenge.  I have put up or can produce much of what we ordinarily consume anyway.  It is just making myself DO it (and not stop for a bag of chips because they taste SO good or a few loaves of bread because I don't feel like baking them or a family pack of ground beef because I forgot to thaw something) that will be the challenge.  Self-discipline...that is always my challenge.

Disclaimer: This is a challenge specifically for human food.  I may find I have to go out for animal feed (a surety) or toilet paper (I just saw I am almost out of SHOUT!) and I am okay with that.

Some specific goals for the month:

~ use up some dried beans/legumes
~ Empty  at least half of chest freezer in laundry room (I'd like to defrost it and move it to another location)
~ Post some recipes on the food blog
~ Make a big batch of feta (maybe two)
~ make Valentine treats instead of buying them
~ inventory the freezers 
~ make Matt's birthday meal without going shopping (and without him feeling gypped).  If that can't be done, I may make an exception for his requested birthday feast.
~ use the crockpot five times
~ can some meat to free up some freezer space (making a country Mamas' version of convenience food) 
~ make a new food budget.  Mine is woefully outdated.

At the end of each week I'll blog about how things are going.  I can post my menus for the week if there is enough interest to do so.  The money I am saving from not going grocery shopping is going towards fixing up the boys' bedroom...the first Papa Project of 2016.

This should be fun!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

In Which The Reader Responds


   Advice.  I need some.  And lots of it.  I want to pick your brains.  I want us to kick ideas around, to put our heads together, have a bit of a powwow.  Or maybe, I just want you to tell me exactly what should be done.    I know I get long-winded sometimes (boy, do I!) and this post pretty much proves it, so for you folks who would prefer an abbreviated version...I've put my queries in bold after all the chatter.  

 I think I can safely say I am feeling like my old self again...capable of doing more than just the same three things every day.  I took on my first major overhaul this week and as exhausting as it was...it was very, very needed.  I always get a bit of a cleaning bug in the spring.  I think this is due to post-holiday clutter and having been stuck indoors for such a long time.  But this was no ordinary clutter bug!
    With the intention of tearing out walls and flooring to the boys' room, I emptied it out last March and moved all the boys' stuff (except the bunkbeds) to the Spare Oom.  The room never was begun and in fact, the mess spread back into the boys' room throughout the year.  All year I have hated going upstairs, all year just the thought of it made me want to scream.  Thankfully, it is UPSTAIRS, which means company could never really see the mess.  (This was my only consolation.)  Before Tiddle arrived, I emptied the boys room all out again, in hopes that the room would be done (or at least, begun) before baby.  Alas.  T'was not to be again.
      Eventually, on top of two rooms worth of furniture and stuff, it became a dumping ground of baby paraphernalia, Christmas gifts, supplies from gift-making, sorted clothing piles and the excesses of two very sloppy boys.  As things accumulated and the already trashed room became even more trashed, it became easier (maybe even necessary, seeing how there was very little floor space in which to walk) to toss more on the heap.  It was bad, folks.  BAD.  I would have taken a before picture but the fact is, I have been nauseated by that sight for so many months and didn't want to spend another moment looking at- ever again.   The room was so out of control that it took three days for me to get thing right.  THREE DAYS.  If I push up my sleeves and jump in, I can usually accomplish any job in a day- but not this one.  I've never taken three days to finish up a room.  During this event, I came to realize a few things.  Firstly, I need some advice!

I moved furniture out of that room and into the master room to fake some floor space.  (Notice I said fake.)  I also had to address the problem of clothing storage. We have two teensy closets upstairs.  One is literally full of just Matt's clothes.  The other, the girls' and I share.   The boys carelessly shove their church clothes in too small drawers and they wind up looking at best disheveled at.all.times.  And that is, if in fact the clothes are clean.   We have a wear-something-until-it-is-dirty policy which, unfortunately, breeds laziness when it comes to actually throwing dirty clothes in the laundry room.  If I see clothes scattered on the floor, I send them up to clean the room and more often than not they shove dirty clothes in their drawers as fast as they can in order to resume their projects/play.  There have been too many times when I discovered too late that all their church clothes were soiled so Mama Hyde mutated right there in the kitchen, yelling for them to find the cleanest looking thing to wear while praying that all those pious souls at church would be so meditative during worship that they wouldn't notice my stained and crusty children.  Not so perfect a heart preparation for worship, let's just say.

Anyone have old farmhouses with small bedrooms, no closet space and a handful of sloppy children? Any solutions and/or advice about clothing said children and storing said clothes would be greatly appreciated.  (Yes, I know fixing the sloppy children problem would be an immense step in the right direction.  Duly noted and working on it.)

Speaking of clothing...I now have a pre-teen who hit a growth spurt like Ella Kate.  Generic teenybopper clothes leave something (a lot) to be desired.  Dresses I can find for her are either too childish or too grown up for her (or my) tastes.   We don't really buy clothes brand new from the store....pretty much ever.  So it is second hand, repurposed or handmade (preferably without the handmade/homeschooled aura) I am in need of some desperate inspiration.  What staples does my 12 year old girl need in her wardrobe and what styles would be fashionable and cute without being too cute or teenybopper?  Anything?  Anything?  Someone make me a Pinterest page, would you? 

I found that woodland animal fabric when I ran into JoAnns the other day and fell in love with it.  I didn't need to buy this fabric (I have fabric), but then again- I kinda did.  I have two yards of it and it is cordoroy.  What should I do with this fabric?  (I realize buying fabric without an intended purpose is a bit ridiculous.  Duly noted and working on it.)

What would be a fun theme party to do for whole families?  I am feeling the itch to plan something for summer.

I started looking around the other day and realized I have so many unfinished projects it might just be a sickness.  I gathered up just the yarn ones (just the YARN ones!) and took this photo.  (PS.  See that fair aisle hat?  I had to pull out my stitches back to the brim SIX TIMES.  That is why it doesn't look any different than it did six months ago.  I have knit on it a lot- but UNKNIT on it just as much.  Argh.)  Is this normal?  How many unfinished projects do you have lying around?  I want numbers, people.

I have found that I have gotten into a terrible habit of waiting until I am ravenous before realizing I need to eat and then, grabbing something not-so-good (like, say, chocolate chips) to eat instead of eating real food that would require me to take the time to make something.  I am trying to cut down a bit on carbs so crackers or a sandwich is kinda out.  I've decided to do a no-grocery challenge for the month of February so you have exactly three more days to give me food ideas before I ban myself from the grocery store for a month.  Hurry!  What are some simple, healthy foods that I can go from getting to eating really quickly?  Maybe it is stuff to make ahead of time...maybe just snacks to always have around?  I need some inspiration!

Alright!  Your turn!   GO!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Her Brothers Were Here

When you discover a bearded baby... you find some solace in the fact that, at the very least, it's a jolly one.

A mother's heart swells with pride as she discovers not only is this a jolly bearded baby but, judging from the twisting of the corners on her moustache, she is a contemplative one too.

I wonder....
Is this look one of disdain for her brothers...or for the Mama who stole her whiskers?

Only time will tell.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Bowls are Not for Bathing

Ineke seems so small...but when I got out the cute red and white enamel washbin for her first at-home bath, I realized she clearly ISN'T.  She wasn't shy in showing her disgust either.

For the record, she loves baths now that her Mama gives her a more spacious SINK instead of a cereal bowl in which to bathe.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A Handful of Things

The kitchen being this cleared was entirely due to this apron-wearing, wooden spoon wielding man of a man.  I miss him now that he left me for work again.  Sniff.

The sweetling is 3 weeks old today.  (Well, yesterday, when I wrote this!) I can't believe it.   She is such a dear girl- already basically sleeping through the night (10-4:30 ish most nights and waking up once if I put her to bed earlier than that) and still sleeping most of the day too.  She peeks out from behind her eyelids to check things out occasionally- but still, mostly with a squint.  She is such a contented little thing.  But even her wails don't bother me at all or stress me out- this, I think, is the gift of a longed-for and waited-for child.  I feel so incredibly blessed to get to hear those sounds at all, they stir up in me only joy and immense gratitude.  They make me happy.

I spend as many moments I can muster of my days trying to soak up her fleeting expressions and stretches and they are never, ever enough.  Her little puckers and when she sticks her tongue out.  The feel of her warm little hand on my chest, her fuzzy little head nuzzled under my chin (she loves that spot.  me too.).  Baby breathing, heavy and quick.  I wonder at the teeny foot that can be massaged with a single thumb and the wrinkles of her hand and her dainty little fingers.  I love the chubby fat at the back of her neck and her dream smiles, glimpses of what the real thing will be like.    I clutch these moments desperately because I know how quickly they are gone.  

After a blissful two weeks off, Matt went back to work last week and real life began.  I have discovered that real life is harder to get back into than I remember with a new baby, even a most contented one like Ineke.  We still have Christmas cards waiting to be mailed.  We are still, three weeks in, incapable of arriving anywhere on time.  The day ends with basket-loads of laundry still to be folded and science still left undone.  And, though not exactly a need but certainly a want, a blog stands too quiet for too long.

Penny (the cow) is producing such quantities of milk now I have to use at least five gallons of milk a day in order to have clean gallon jars available for the next milking.  That means, daily cheese and butter making on top of the laundry, the schooling, the cooking, the cleaning, the nursing, the snuggling, the thank you note writing, the taking down of Christmas and every other thing ToDo.  In the last two weeks or so I have made and gifted to friends and family 24 balls of mozzarella, 25 rolls of cinnamon honey butter and 6 rounds of queso blanco.   In two weeks.  This of course, is not including the cheese and butter and yogurt we have kept for ourselves.  The cheese & butter making is time-consuming, but the constant state of dirty dishes is the most frustrating.  There are some nights I think- if I have to wash this enormous pot ONE MORE TIME today I am going to SCREAM.    It did make for convenient gift-giving this year...but now that the spreading of good cheer (and milk products) is over ... that quantity of milk products being consumed by this family alone will result in me never.ever.ever losing my baby weight.  EVER.  

I have always been over-motivated to get things done.  (This does not mean that I actually get huge quantities of things done- but that I am motivated to *think* about getting them done!)  I make to-do lists that fill entire pages in notebooks and those are things I hope to accomplish in one day.  These days, however, I am finding myself content to get done just a handful of things.  I feel very accomplished if at the end of the day, those things are complete.  And "those things" require no list.  They are the most necessary things. Milk making-at least a bit.  Schooling- a bit more, but still not nearly where we should be.  A load of laundry- washed AND folded.  Filling bellies, large and small.  And then, maybe, one or two snippets of other things a day.  Paying a few bills.  Taking down bits of Christmas.  Writing a few thank-you notes.  And that's it.  That is all I can muster.  IF I AM LUCKY.  If I am particularly productive that day.  Strangely, I feel completely satisfied with this.  I know this feeling of satisfaction will not continue forever and being able to get by accomplishing only a handful of things a day  is completely unsustainable but for now, I feel pretty proud of those handful of things.

A new year- 2016. I love the fresh start.  I love the looking back to see how I have done on my goals for the previous year. I love looking ahead and coming up with new goals for the new year.  It's my thing.  But this year, this moment, I don't feel like looking ahead or looking back.  I am sure it may come eventually, when I can wrap my head around the hugeness of a new year before me.  But, for now, I just want to stay in this moment with this teeny Tiddle squeaking in her sleep and laying peacefully and heavy upon my chest.  

These moments, I wish they could last forever.