Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Oh! You will find some good stuff here, a wonderful post on the beauty of motherhood.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Birthday Folk

This is such a sweet picture! My great-aunt Mary and Creative Genius are singing happy birthday to each other. She dropped by for a visit on her 73rd birthday, Creative Genius tuned six.

Shana Tovah!

Monday evening at sundown begins the Biblical festival of Rosh Hashana, the new year. We celebrate this in accordance with God's commandment, Leviticus 23:24 is where this is recorded.

Tomorrow we will have a traditional meal, including challah, a round loaf for the holiday symbolizing the cyclical nature of the year as well as sweet foods, for a sweet year, such as apples and honey.

Then we will go to synagogue to hear the reading of the story of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice Isaac. We will hear the blowing of the shofar, it will remind us of the burnt offering that God provided for Himself (Genesis 22:8), but also of the last trump (1 Cor 15:52), the day that we all are looking forward to, when Messiah, Yeshua, comes back to take us with Him.

Rosh Hashana begins the High Holy days, the days of awe, a reflective time period that is also refered to as the days of repentance. Following these ten days, will be the holiday of Yom Kippur, or the day of atonement (Leviticus 23:26).

If you have never celebrated these holidays, I encourage you to do a little bit of studying and present the idea to your husband. Yeshua, Jesus, celebrated Rosh Hashana every year as a Jew, to know more about His life, it would be well worth your effort. Many of the things done year after year reflect the Messiah Himself.

Shana Tovah to you! (Good Year!)

(The picture above is of Macho Man blowing a Yemenite shofar last year during the last of the fall festivals, Sukkot. It may look easy, but let me assure you, it is not. This boy has some kind of talent - or maybe just hot air - because amazingly enough, he can really blast a shofar!)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Little R&R

So, here we are working hard in the house. "Where is Girly Girl"? someone asks.

Turns out Girly Girl and her baby are just hanging out on the deck. They've got a perfect spot in the sensory table.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Taming the Tounge

"If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless" James 1:26

"But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned" Matthew 12:37

Ug. Do these scriptures pierce your heart like they do to me? When I read the first one on Chelsey's blog it was reminiscent of the time I fell down roller skating and got the wind knocked out of me. Same feeling.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Horticulture 101

Today all of my children skipped school participated in a horticulture class.

I had to go to the post office today and made a stop at the country hardware store on the way home for duct tape. I'm an impulse shopper. I came home with three fruit trees.

They were on sale, you know.

So I had to wake up my sleeping husband (who didn't get off work until 1 am the night before) to tell him, very excitedly, to get up and grab a shovel, we needed to get these things planted!

I am thankful for my hard working men.

Us girls, we did a lot of watching.

Thanks, honey, you are the greatest!

Monday, September 22, 2008

My Helpers

Last week we spent a whole afternoon in the kitchen. We shredded and froze 40 cups of zucchini and baked 10 more into 4 loaves of bread and 24 muffins. Creative Genius shredded one of these monsters all by himself.
We also were expecting guests that evening, a couple with nine children, so Girly Girl and I peeled lots of apples, making two pans of apple crisp for desert.

Here are my little dishwashers.
As hard as it is to have so much help in the kitchen, they really are a delight. My Girly Girl runs to get her apron on every time she sees that I am getting ready to make something. She pulls up a chair to help. I just love that.

Make Your Own Vanilla

Homemade Vanilla

1 empty vanilla bottle
1 bottle of Vodka
1-2 Vanilla Beans

Split the vanilla bean on one side so that the top have is cut, being careful not to cut it all the way through. Place your bean(s) in the bottle and fill it with vodka. Shake the bottle once each day for 4 weeks.

It will then be ready to use. Each time you use your vanilla, top it off with vodka. Replace the vanilla beans every six months.

Mud Room Storage

Today, ironically, on the first day of fall, the weather seemed to turn right on que. Since we've had warm weather up until now the low sixties are really chilly.

I hauled the coats out of storage.

In past years I have been SO frustrated with what to do with all of the coats, shoes, hats, gloves and snow gear that each of my children have. Since the little coat closet in the front entry way is beyond too small for all of that stuff, it would end up strewn everywhere.

Last year I asked everyone I knew how they dealt with this issue. They all sort of shrugged their shoulders. How did other mothers keep from going crazy from outerwear???

My solution (prior to what you see above) was to use big three prong hooks that were screwed in to long boards, one for each of my children. They were labeled with their names. I bought small wire mesh baskets from Shop-ko and screwed those in to the wall, one for each child to put their shoes in.

There were a couple of problems with this system. Where do you put the gloves and hats? What do you do for the older kids? Their shoes didn't fit so well in the baskets. And, what do you do for the child (I am not naming any names here but she knows who she is!) who has a pair of shoes for every outfit and occasion? Ak! It's enough to keep a mommy up at night.

I truly did toss and turn and rent and raught over this problem. I looked through school catalogs and drooled over lockers. Expensive lockers. And daycare supply catalogs at coat lockers... at $350 a piece. Oh, how I wanted some of those!

Well, what do you know, just a few months later a daycare center, right here on our street was hauling out sets of cubbies as we drove by. And putting FREE on them. FREE. FREE! I couldn't believe it.

It's been the perfect solution for us. There is a space at the top where the mesh baskets fit. They store their hats, kipas, gloves and purses there. The middle section is where they are supposed to hang their coats (vs. throw or squish in to a little ball and shove it in. I am working on that one. I took this picture with the intention of posting it on the wall near the cubbies so that they would remember how it was supposed to look!) The bottom is perfect for about three pair of shoes (of course, some of my darling daughter's shoes need to be stored elsewhere).

Each section is labeled with the child's name and picture so that even the little ones can see who's is who's and put the items that belong to that person there.

Organization is heavenly. If only I could keep it that way!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Pantry Peek

Do you like to see how everyone else arranges their homes as much as I do? If so, here's a little peek in to my pantry.

When we first bought the house, the breakfast nook (which is now the pantry) was cramped. There was enough room for all of us to eat there but it had sort of a closed in feeling.

We used it for eating for a while. Although I have two other small pantry closets (one used to be a broom closet, I'm sure) somewhere along the line, I decided that I needed more storage, and began to eye the breakfast nook.

Since the built in, hinged benches with bead board are original to our old house, my husband said that he definitely wanted to keep those. I worked around them.

Hubby works at a grocery store. One night he brought me home these Smuckers display shelves that were going to be thrown out. I liked them because they matched my cherry wallpaper. To the right of that you can see my bags of flours and then my dorm-sized refrigerator. Can you believe that we have a condiment fridge? Man cannot live with a side-by-side alone! We have a nice big upright freezer but I do hope to one day have an freezerless fridge for my kitchen. Wouldn't that be wonderful?

Here are some of my free buckets where I have sugar, peanut butter, rice, millet, and a couple other things. The buckets are sitting on a shelf that was on the wall when we moved in to the house, I just turned it upside down to make more space for things underneath. There I have bins for different things: garlic, beans, onions, etc. and a 15 pound bag of potatoes fits nicely next to the onions. You can see my huge bag of oats on the floor, I am slowly working toward the 16 gallon, stacking storage bins from IKEA for those really big things. So, for now, they stay in the bags.

I so love having a place for it all.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Giving of Yourself

Oh, how this spoke to me this morning. I have been feeling the constant wear of doing for you and you and you and you and you.... service can be bondage with the wrong attitude.

I read this post by a mother with more than twice the number of children I have.

And she's right.

Friday, September 19, 2008


Doing it yourself has become an industry in itself in past years. There are entire networks that show you how to decorate your home, cook like the pros and do all manor of weekend projects.

Although I've never been in a place to PAY anyone to decorate my house, there are lots of things that I've paid others to do. It used to be a ritual for me to take the children for haircuts. There was a place where we used to live that had $5 cuts for my boys. They were quick (which is really important to me!!!) and did a good job. I'd take them in, line them up and be out of there in 15 minutes with $15 less in my pocketbook.

I know that $15 doesn't sound like a lot. But what does that add up to over time? Since we went once a month like clockwork, it added up to $180 in one year. I am very sure there were other ways I could have spent that much.

It's that way for a lot of things. Like getting my children's pictures taken. With my first one, I was convinced that I wasn't a good mother unless I had her pictures done every month. Yes, every month. How much did I fork out there? Who knows! Even though I always tried to stay within the bounds of the current special that was going on, I spent a lot of time and money.

I've come to the conclusion that I can do it myself. A lot of things. The picture at the top of this post was taken my my fifteen-year-old daughter (the very child that had her pictures taken professionally once a month!) on our "school picture day" at the arboretum last week. We just dressed everyone up and headed out with the digital camera in hand. My boys haircuts? With encouragement and tips from friends I just do it myself now. And you know, I think I am getting better as I go.

There are lots of other things that we have figured out how to do along the way. I almost never buy convenience food anymore. If they have it at the grocery store, you can most assuredly make it at home for a fraction of the cost. There was a time (I am admitting this!) that I didn't even know you could make a cake without a box. I had no idea that taco seasoning was anything other than what comes in those little foil packets. But, thankfully, with the Internet you can find a recipe for almost anything.

What things are there in your life that you are paying someone else to do? With the economy on a down turn, now is the time to save some of that hard earned money.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

New Fall Clothes

It's sure getting chilly at night around these parts. I got out the warm jammies the other day. Time to put away all the summer things... in an upcoming post I will "come out of the closet" (so to speak!) with my clothing storage system. You'll be surprised!

A little Monopoly action -

Family game night at our house. You know, until I started blogging, I never realized that most of my children are half clothed (or half naked?) most of the time!

More fruit!

One of the best things about living on the sunny side of the state, is that you can grow just about anything. These are from our front yard. I didn't even water it at all this year and we still had grapes!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Leftovers in Disguise

As an addendum to my Planned Leftovers post, I am now adding leftovers from leftovers to my repetoire.

Remember those stuffed peppers? Ours were huge, so I ended up splitting some for the younger children. So I had two and a half leftover.

Tonight I chopped them up and rolled them in tortillas along with small amounts of beans and hamburger I had leftover from another dinner. Adding a bit of pepper jack cheese and enchilada sauce, I had a whole new dinner!

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Ok, can you celebrate this with me?

On March 2nd of this year, I was walking around 75 pounds heavier than I am today!

Can you believe it? Me 'neither.

Planned Leftovers

Have you been to your local farmer's market lately? Or, even better, have any bell peppers from your own garden that are ready to be picked?

Try this recipe for dinner one night, double it and make stuffed peppers the next night. Or, even better, triple it and make two batches of stuffed peppers, one for night #2 and one for the freezer - they turn out great this way.

I got the basic recipe on Hillbilly Housewife, which I happen to love. I've added and subtracted and basically throw whatever I have in to it but here's how I do it most of the time:

Taco Rice

(this recipe serves 8)

2 cups long grain brown rice

1 pound of hamburger

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon each oregano & cumin & garlic powder

1 chopped onion (I often add sliced celery, carrots and peppers if I have them)

16 oz can chopped tomatoes

4 cups water

Using a dutch oven, brown the hamburger with the onion and other veggies if you are using them over medium heat. Add the rice and seasonings when the hamburger is almost done, until the rice is toasty and slightly opaque. Add the tomatoes and water. Stir it up and bring it to a boil. When it starts to boil, cover the pan with a lid and reduce the heat to very low. Cook for 45 minutes. My family really loves it when I shredded a little cheddar cheese over the each individual bowl.

To make stuffed peppers: (makes 6-8 peppers)

Double the above recipe

Add 1 can of tomato paste to the leftover rice mix

core and stuff 6 large or 8 small peppers, place the peppers in a 9x13 pan

bake at 350 for 35 minutes


Quick Tip

You know all of those millions of sites (like here, here and here) that are out there that tell you how to get free stuff by stacking coupons? I never did take full advantage because I refuse to subscribe to the newspaper.

But - a-ha! I don't have to. I stumbled upon the solution to my dilemma.

At most fast food restaurants, people will buy a paper, read it and leave it for the next person. What a great place to pick up the Red Plum and SmartSource inserts! Either get friendly with your local McDonald's crew or stop by Burger King on Sunday and pluck them out of the paper yourself.

And, hey, it's really super green of you. That paper will just get thrown away at the end of the day!

Who Needs The Gym?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

My Three Sons.....

Snakes and snails and puppy dog tails. Aren't they adorable?

Name, rank and serial number only

I found this super secret agent in my yard this afternoon. He wouldn't even tell me his name, he couldn't reveal "it to a girl like me." This un-known boy was covered in bandanas and a camo hat.

Butterin' Up the Teacher

I guess when ALL of your kids are in one class, you have to be REALLY nice to the instructor. No apples here... just beautiful flowers for the teacher. I have such a sweet husband.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Quick Tip

My husband likes to eat healthily.... along with a daily dose of junk food that is! He likes to have snacks to take to work, he's really not picky, but the snacks he likes the best involve some form of chocolate.

So, to try to save $$$ and please my husband, I do a lot of baking.

Did you know that Fred Meyer has a "family size" Duncan Hines brownie mix for 99 cents every day? That's a deal these days, you can't find them on sale for that price at most other stores. When I do stop there to buy the ad items, I always pick up four or more boxes.

I make them, two boxes at a time, in 9x13 pans (with a few chocolate chips added in to the mix!) and when they are cool, cut and package them in twos with plastic wrap. Then slide them in to a gallon freezer bag. I do this with chocolate chip cookie dough too (best price for chocolate chips is Costco - we buy the big bag!) I will quadruple the recipe and make two 9x13 pans at a time, cooking for 20 minutes and cutting them in to bars. I package these up the same way.

When he needs a snack for work, he picks out what he wants and he's off in minutes. And there is no thinking on my part!

Go Check This Out!

You've got to run over here to Femininity and a Feminist World. All I can say to this post is WOW! She's one smart cookie, even if I do say so myself!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

School Room Rehab

When we first moved in to this gigantic house (3500 square feet, not including the basement that has two big rooms and a kitchen), I knew that this room HAD to be the school room. I had to look past paneling, past the harvest gold and brown (peeling!) wallpaper and past the cedar that lined the wall from the picture rail to the ceiling.

It's a fairly large room that was once used for a beauty parlor (I believe in the sixties) and has half linoleum flooring and half carpeting, split right down the middle. I thought that would be ideal for a range of activities from art projects to sitting on the floor with a book. It has a bank of southern facing windows and another window that faces the west, letting in loads of natural light. There is an air conditioner (need that around here!) It has a small half bath too, so even if you have to go potty, you are staying right where mom wants you. There is a large closet that works great for all of our games and puzzles. Perfect.

This is our third year of school in this room. I knew that someday we'd have to deal with the walls... you can see here where I'd pulled the wallpaper off (it came off in big sheets) and just threw up a bulletin board. It was just rough plaster so posters wouldn't stay up with just tape and my husband starts to sweat every time I have a nail in my hand because (did you know this?) you can't actually put nails in plaster lest you have huge cracks down the side of your wall... ask me how I know this little piece of information...

Here is a wonderful view of the former wallpaper choice.

Here is one of the types of wood paneling in this room...

And here is another.

One day I got fed up.

It all started with an innocent thought. Maybe I should change my books around??? Maybe it's important to have the non-fiction books separate from the fiction just so there is no confusion on what is real and what isn't?

So I started dumping books off of shelves. Then I thought that maybe I should move shelves around. While I was at it and had all the books off why didn't I move everything around? If all of the shelves are away from the walls... well...

So then you get the idea, don't you? Pretty soon I had the whole family peeling, stripping and scraping. Once my husband was involved, I knew something was going to get done.

As you know from my previous post, things began to look slightly chaotic. I was secretly worried that it would never get done. Each night after my little ones went to bed, I would immediately get my painting clothes on and get to work. After I spent a couple of hours, I'd go to bed. My husband would get home around midnight and he'd work until about 2 am. We did these back to back shifts for what seemed like forever.
Finally things came together. I did decide to take most of the books out... my husband graciously spent a whole morning moving book shelves and my children and I hauled them up the stairs to the new library, but that's a whole 'nother post.
Anyway, I was able to take some pictures of the finished product yesterday, our first day of school. Before that everything was a big secret, no kids in our out of that room so that it would be a surprise on the big day.
Here's a little tour:

I really love that you can see right in to our school room. It's nice to be able to see all of the art work and fun stuff hanging up from the hallway.

A book area for my little ones, this is one of the areas that I will have a rotating assortment of books. I have vowed to better use the books we have in combination with the public library. I just need to keep up on ordering the books I want online.
What do you think of the blue color I picked? I was thinking along the lines of calm... so naturally it was blue.

Art and classroom supplies at our finger tips. I want to have a variety of art activities for all of my children, so this is important to me.

This alcove, where the desk is now, was where there was a (weirdly placed) sink was. My husband ripped that out and has promised to put in floor to ceiling, built in shelves for me here, I can't wait!
I finally have a computer in this room. My older children are taking Spanish with Rosetta Stone and Macho Man is going to learn to type with Mavis.
Here is my preschool circle time corner. My little ones sit with me every day and do calendar, weather and Bible verses. I think I like this time more than they do!
I did end up using those desks. My three oldest each have one.
Then I added this area for the last desk. Right now it's a science center with posters, books and activities on bones and muscles. I plan to have it rotate for different holiday, science, social studies and history topics. I think the next one will be on the government and electoral process. I want it to be a place they can sit and learn in their free time without feeling like they have to be there. So far, it's been popular.
Ok, it really is time for me to get out from in front of this computer and make those cookies I promised my husband. Thanks for touring my room with me!