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

Friday, February 26, 2016

Call me Pollyanna


I have a love of prisms.    I have a thing about babies too.

That moment in the afternoon when the sun shines bright and rainbows dance on the walls and this baby lays happily on twisted bits of color...it makes me glad.  Very glad, indeed.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Week 3 No Grocery Challenge and a Spittlebug

I added a bit of color-coding.  Mainly because it is more fun to look at- but also, it may give you (and myself) an idea where things are coming from.  
                  *Homecanned       *Emptying Freezer       *From Our Milk Cow 
Breakfast~ scrambled eggs, onion queso blanco
Lunch~ sandwiches 
Dinner~ Leftovers, garlic foccacia bread

Breakfast~ banana bread, vanilla yogurt
Lunch~ grilled mozzerella cheese sandwiches on homemade bread
Dinner~ Sausage Gravy over toast (milk, sausage), peas, applesauce

Breakfast~ "White Mules" (scrambled eggs topped with leftover sausage gravy)
Lunch~ tomato soup (milk)
Dinner~ Chicken, broccoli and ham pockets (cheese, meats, broccoli) (Made enough pizza dough to freeze so I won't have to make it on Friday night.)

Breakfast~ banana bread, yogurt
Lunch~ beans and rice
Dinner~ Turkey Sloppy Joe on a few rolls passed along by my MIL, green beans, fruit salad, bean/rice/sweet potato concoction using leftovers from lunch that really wasn't all that great and so will be used in another capacity-probably bean soup.

Breakfast~ cinnamon raisin oatmeal
Lunch~ chicken nuggets (We were uptown right smack dab in the middle of lunch.  BK is having a nuggets special of 10 for $1.49.  I didn't have storebought bread to make sandwiches and I didn't want to get home just to have to cook something up and then have the children wait until 2:30ish to eat lunch. 'Nuff said.  Don't judge.)
Dinner~ Pizza night!  Carrot Sticks.

Breakfast~ yogurt, buttered toast
Lunch~ bean and sausage soup (using Thursday's leftover beans and rice)
Dinner~ eggs topped with peppers, onions and cheese.  Ham. (Matt made supper because I was gone all day visiting with my Opa.)

Breakfast~ cornmeal mush (milk)
Lunch~ queso blanco cheese, apple slices, meat sticks
Dinner~ went to an ice-skating party.  Burgers were served.  I brought the cocoa and whipped cream. 


~ Three jars of Ghee from butter in freezer
~ Hot Cocoa with whipped cream
~ 5 qts chicken stock, canned
~ 5 qts canned chicken, canned
~ hot cocoa with whipped cream
~ apple cider
~ buttermint icecream


By Monday, we had used up all our storebought bread.  It's homemade bread from here on out.  I also discovered we had only about 1/4 cup vegetable oil and olive oil left.  (Not so good for bread baking, huh?) I did find a large olive oil container down cellar but I wonder if I should use expensive olive oil instead of veggie oil or if I should just go buy some cheap veggie oil?  Using olive oil alone is the more expensive of the options so I may go to the store and get some.  Salt is nearly gone and only enough citric acid for ONE MORE cheese recipe.  These are necessities, people.

We haven't had fresh fruit or vegetables for what feels like forever.  We have been eating carrots and apples- but we are down to the last few carrots.  One more pizza nights' worth.

While we have been eating out of the freezer more this week, I am still using up the more simple things like vegetables and sausage.  This is because the main chest freezer (which holds all of our meats) has been inaccessible due to a very fragile, very bulky, in-process stained glass project of mine that must be moved in order to open the freezer lid.  It is hard to move so I have avoided moving it...and thus, have not been able to use up those meats like I have hoped.  The other day I cleared a spot in my room to move the project and now the freezer lid is free for the opening.  Hopefully this week I will be able to use up some meats and inventory the freezer.   It is, after all, the end of February!

My precious Ghirardelli chips were gone at the beginning of the week and it has been basically excruciating since then.  I didn't realize just how many of those little suckers I ate each day but let's just say that after every meal and before bed I have had crazy urges to go get a handful.  Chocolate!  I need chocolate!!!   It's probably a very good thing that they are gone.  But breaking that addiction has been (still is) PAINFUL. It makes me wonder if after I get accustomed to NOT eating them, if I should even buy them.  I shouldn't.  But I still might.  ;-)

I was terrible at photographing food this week and wish the days were longer and the light was lasting... instead of food, you get photos of a spittlebug.  

Things to buy in March:

vegetable oil
dried minced onion
garlic powder
citric acid
frozen veggies: peas
BREAD.  Oh yes, I am.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

A Dump

A Photo Dump

Ineke on her baptism day.  It was a hurried affair getting everyone prepared for church on time (and we were still late) so I snapped only this one measley photo before heading out the door.  Darling girl.

I love a girl in a kerchief.  

Especially this girl.
Don't let this snoozing duo fool you...
Andrew saw me coming and assumed 'syruppy sweet sleeping' pose.  Little did he know the moment was already syruppy sweet just as it was.
Lovely girl who, when standing on tiptoes, is alarmingly near to reaching eye-to-eye with her Mama.  

Ahhhh, this photo.  This breath-taking photo was taken mere moments before Matt and I went on a desperately needed date which turned out to be the worst date (and quite possibly DAY) of our entire lives.  It began with walking into a billiard hall the minute they were unexpectedly shutting down and ended with gas being accidentally poured all over himself at a gas station and needing to have the windows open despite the winter temps on the way home just to remain conscious.  Every moment between the start and the finish (about 3 hours) was filled with tears, tantrums, screaming and gnashing of teeth.  And we did nothing during that time but drive.  This photo.  This photo.  It mocks my pain.
Hello porch.  I miss you.  *muah*
Judah asked to take a picture of me and Ineke.  I never let my children use my camera (yeah.  hundreds of bucks.)  But I did this time...I post it because I have no double chin.  
Adele' saw and then asked to take one too.  I must be fair.  I post this one because I see a sleepy grin poking out from behind that arm.
Even with hat head, he's STILL handsome.
Another day, another fortress.
My sweets.
Their sweets.
I have this thing about wax seals for letter-writing.  Love them.  While making buttermints, I thought maybe they would work for decorations.  I feel very clever, indeed.

Who needs conversation hearts when they can have bee-buttermints.  BEE MINE?
After the buttermints and before the chocolate lollipops I made for everyone, we made saltwater taffy.  The children enjoyed stretching the taffy and with four children doing it, it wasn't so labor intensive.  The labor intensive part came with wrapping each individual taffy.  At which point everyone child save one hightailed it outta there.  Thank goodness for my girl.
Winter has arrived on the hill.  
This photo is a testament to how well our new woodstove is working.  Such a worthwhile investment of our tax return last year. While previous winters in this house found us covered in layers upon layers of clothing and still shivering down to the bone, this winter finds us without sweaters and coats!  In fact, even without shirts for the fearless among us. 
That was a photo dump...as opposed to a gutting-a-room-so-the-entire-upstairs-is-in-shambles-and-will-be-for-the-foreseeable-future sort of dump:

A new Papa project.  And hopefully, now that it is officially begun, a *quick* one.  

Monday, February 15, 2016

Week 2 No Grocery Challenge


I added a bit of color-coding this week.  Mainly because it is more fun to look at- but also, it may give you (and myself) an idea where things are coming from.  
                  *Homecanned       *Emptying Freezer       *From Our Milk Cow        

Breakfast- banana muffins, vanilla yogurt
* The rest of the day was spent traveling/visiting my parents so we didn't eat at home, from pantry or freezer.

Breakfast- omelets with cheese
Lunch- peanut butter and honey sandwiches, slices of onion queso blanco cheese
Dinnerzucchini soup, cornbread (with molasses, for those who wanted it), chocolate pudding

Breakfast- cornmeal mush with brown sugar
Lunch-  Turkey Noodle Soup (this was homecanned this past year and I can't tell you how handy it has been to have a ready-to-eat meal on the shelves!  If you buy canned soups from the store, you know this already, but since I don't really buy them- I  haven't had that luxury for quite some time and forgot how amazing it is! Definitely want to do more of this sort of thing in the future!)
Dinner- Tuna Salad on a bed of lettuce, red pepper queso blanco cheese and crackers

Breakfastyogurt and toast
Lunch-peanut butter and candy apple jelly sandwiches
Dinner- Ham, pickled beets, sauteed cabbage, applesauce

Breakfast- scrambled eggs, queso blanco cheese
Lunch- beans and rice
Dinner- Pizza Night! One was meatlovers, the other ham and pineapple.  Carrot Sticks.  (mozzerellameatssauce)

Breakfast- waffles, plain and blueberrymaple syrup
Lunch- grilled cheese sandwiches (on homemade bread this time)
Dinner- ate dinner at Matts' parents' house.  Took a candy tray*

Breakfast- yogurt, eggs, homefries, copious amounts of sweets*
Lunch- queso cheese, crackers, apple slices, copious amounts of sweets
Dinner- Krotenmen Spek (bacon) and Split Pea Soup (using the hambone and broth from Thursday).  Homemade Bread.  White cake with peanut butter icing for dessert.

As Well As:

~Oatmeal Raisin cookies (Corynn and Andrew made)
~Hot Cocoa
~Buttermint Ice cream
~Two turkey potpies-to take to friends in mourning
~Peach handpies-for same friends
~ homemade bread
~ about 3 lbs of Feta Cheese
* Sundry Sweets for Valentine's Day *
~Saltwater Taffy- flavored in grape, cinnamon and watermelon
~Buttermints- a double batch!
~Chocolate heart lollipops


       This week I was a bit concerned with not going to the grocery store.  Both Valentine's Day AND Matt's birthday fell this week and I was prepared for neither.  I never bought any Valentine candy but the children are easy to please and would have been happy with heart-shaped sugar cookies, if need be.  But birthday dinners are another thing entirely.  Matt never told me his requested birthday meal back in January so I was never able to 'stock up' to make sure I had what I needed.  I was afraid he would choose something that I didn't have the supplies for here.  Thankfully, his requested meal was krotenmen spek (not sure if I spelled that right...), a delicious dutch meal consisting of mashed beets and potatoes with bacon with a soup course of split pea soup.  Happily, I found one package of bacon in the freezer.  Phew!  Because we were invited to his parents' house on his actual birthday, we had his birthday feast on Valentine's Day instead.  Since the potatoes were dyed pink from beet juice, it was quite fitting!

 I will say, I can't make a from-scratch vanilla cake worth beans.  I have tried and tried and tried- and always I fail.  It is always dense.  Oily-ish.  Sticks to pans.  Heavy.  I had to make TWO birthday cakes for Matt because the first one was a total botch.  The second, I didn't even taste because those cakes had made me so upset.  I can make from scratch pretty much everything but I think white-cake is just something I need to buy from a box.  :-(

This whole no-shopping thing is pretty darn easy when you have a milk cow and have a generally good stock-pile of foodstuff.  I am betting I am not the only one with plenty of food in their cupboards.  Generally, it isn't so much a matter of there being no FOOD in the house, just no motivation to turn ingredients INTO food.    I am still not feeling the least bit pinched or panicked with food options.   It is a total pain when you don't feel like cooking though.  ;-)

We haven't been eating from the freezers as much as I had hoped.  I was hoping to have made a much larger dent by now.  Maybe this week I can concentrate on that.  I am still holding out hope to have emptied out half a freezer by the end of this month.  But I have some serious work to do to get to that point!  I bought two cases of chicken legs for .49 a pound last year.  Maybe I'll get some of those out and can some for soups.  That would empty things up a bit AND make for some convenient lunches!

I made feta- which was one of my goals for the month.  Did you know you can make cow's milk feta?  It's true!  And it tastes the same.  I've been wanting to make it (and have had the supplies for six months) but I was too nervous to do it. As is usually the case, I worked myself up for nothing.  Things always seem like such a BIG DEAL when you are thinking about doing something you've never done before...and then you do it and realize that is wasn't that big a deal at all.  I'll be making several more batches of the stuff before we dry Penny off- the great thing about feta is that it will store for a YEAR!  As you've no doubt noticed- we eat a lot of cheese.  That is because I MAKE a lot of cheese and it needs to be used up.  I am desperate to find ways to make it and then store it for when we no longer have fresh milk.  The pressure would be off to eat it all now.  ;-)  Until I get my much coveted cheese-press, feta will do!

Out of:

I have nearly run out of salt (and I started out with two extra containers!)- I use SO much for cheesemaking, it is crazy.  This may be something I *have* to get because I can't let up on the cheesemaking or milk will go to waste.  And when a husband wakes up at o-dark-thirty and freezes his digits off milking a cow in below zero temps, I don't want it to be in vain.   I may be able to squeak by...we'll see.  I am also nearly out of dried minced onion (also due to cheesemaking) and I have officially run out of my ghirardelli chocolate chips.  (Wahhhh!)

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!