Friday, October 31, 2008


In our house the preschoolers are Speed Racer and Girly Girl, officially. But Creative Genius also goes to preschool times because he still enjoys them. Sweetie Pie even gets in on a few story times when she isn't down for her morning nap yet.

This is how it works. There are two half hour blocks dedicated to the preschoolers, specifically. My daughter, Sissy, does one that we call Way Fun Preschool Time and I have one about an hour after that.
Sissy has planning sheets that I made up for her. Using a theme-based plan, she orders books from the library, plans crafts, songs and other experiences based on the subject of the week. This preparation as well as the classroom time is part of her learning too, she's taking Early Childhood Education here at home. Some of the things that they have studied so far this year are fall leaves, farm animals and flowers. This month she's working on community helpers, so right now they are learning about police and next week will be fire fighters.

It is often a challenge for Sissy to come up with things that the children will enjoy and understand at this age. I am having her keep her planning sheets with all of the things she's done for the week (and what worked and what didn't) in a notebook for future reference. Not only is the trial and error way of learning something that she'll remember, but she'll have ready-made plans for her own children some day.

During my preschool time, I focus on teaching a training my children in the way that they should go. I am working my way through the Bible, reading children's Bible stories, memorizing verses with the children and teaching them other basic things that they need to know. Their address, phone number, how to tie their shoes, that kind of thing. I don't generally do crafts but during the fall feasts I did do special games and decorations with them.

Preschool times have really been a hit with our little ones. They feel special and look forward to doing the activities that they don't get to do at other times of the day. It is a memorable time for everyone involved.

I cherish my time with just my little ones. I hope this post encourages you to spend that extra-special time with yours today.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Make Your Own: Hot Cocoa Mix

Here is yet another use for those free buckets.... make your family a bucket 'o hot chocolate mix.


*12 cups non fat dry milk powder
*1 lb. (or 4 cups) powdered sugar
*1 - 16 oz container chocolate milk mix (like Quik - but it's now like 14.5 oz. or something!)
*1 - 16 oz jar non-dairy coffee creamer (powdered that is!)

Mix it all up in your bucket. Add 1/3 cup of mix to 1 cup of hot water. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My Sweetheart

This morning my youngest son and I had a conversation over breakfast.

Speed Racer: Know what you are, mommy?

Me: Hmmmm.....?

Speed Racer: A GOOD JOB.

He melts my heart.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Leftover Oatmeal?

Then try this recipe. I even cheat and make it right in the oatmeal pot after breakfast.

Leftover Oatmeal Cookies

2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup butter
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups leftover oatmeal

Mix it all up and drop from teaspoon on to greased baking sheets. Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes. Yield: 4 dozen

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Laundry Room Storage

One of the most freeing things I have done in my adult life is to implement the family closet in our house. No more dressers in the bedrooms taking up space and no more hauling clothes from one end of the house to the other. It is wonderful.

Mr. Right was kind enough to turn one of our top floor bedrooms in to the laundry room for me. Most of the children's dressers are in my laundry room so it makes short work of the three loads of laundry that I do a day.

We picked a sunny room that shares a wall with the bathroom for water drainage. My husband just added a vent and we were in business. I was very proud of myself, I put up this rod. My ironing board sits under it and I hang all of my husband's work shirts on it. We have casement windows throughout the house, so it makes it easy to access my clothesline, I just open the window and hang them out.

I have all of the children's drawers labled so that anyone can put them away, that's really helpful when I am not available - like right after I have a baby.

I have one dresser on top of another so it's like one continous wall of drawers. Very handy.

Here is the back of the door that exits to the hallway. This is one of those cheap plastic pocket organizers. I have all of the girl's hair accessories sorted by color. It has saved me so much time!

The changing table ends the tour, I love having it in here. I can just change a child and throw their clothes right in to the washing machine.

Thanks for coming to visit!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Who needs to learn that?

In trying to interest Creative Genius to learn to tie his shoes I say to him, "You know, I won't always be around to tie your shoes for you."

He quickly counters with, "Well, guess I'll wear boots in the winter and then there are always sandals in the summer!"

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Preschool Fun

How's preschool going at your house? Are you scheduling time in with your preschoolers every day? Running out of fun things for them to do?

Try this classic preschool activity, noodle necklaces. Not only is it fun and a bit challenging for some but they will be developing their fine motor skills, the ones that they will need later for writing. Hand-eye coordination is also playing a part here, something else that they need every day.


A package of noodles, find one that has a larger hole
Side note: *If you want colored noodles like the ones shown above, you need to think ahead and using just enough rubbing alcohol to cover the noodles in a bowl or ziplock bag, add a generous amount of food coloring. Let them sit that way for a little while and then lay them out on paper towels to dry. Remember to use more than one bowl for more than one color. Once they are dry they are ready for any number of preschool or early schooling uses, sorting, use as counters, crafts, sensory experiences. This also works great for rice and looks so nice in a sensory table.*
yarn, floss, string or lanyard
a plastic needle or use tape wound around the end of the yarn to make it stiff for threading

Give each child a choice of colors to string on his or her yarn. If you want to add a little math in do some patterning. One red, one yellow, one red, what comes next?

Add some fun foam shapes or paper cut outs between each noodle for an even more glamorous necklace.

All this just too complicated for you? The easy way is to cut up some plastic drinking straws in to sections and just thread those. You can get some great colors these days and it's easier than coloring noodles.

Have fun with your little ones today!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

GREAT chili

As an addendum to my last post on soup, here is a wonderful recipe for white chicken chili. I first had it at my brother and sis-in-law's house, she'd gotten it from her friend's mother. I think that this recipe really makes the rounds.

Erin's White Chicken Chili

4 cans small white beans, drained

1 can chicken broth

1 tsp. chicken bullion

1 tsp. garlic powder

2 medium onions chopped and sauteed

3 4oz. cans of green chilies

4 tsp. cumin

2 tsp. oregano

2 tsp. cayenne pepper

5 cups cooked, chopped chicken

3 cups grated jack cheese

2 cups sour cream

Mix beans, chicken broth, bullion, garlic powder in a large pot. Add chilies and stir. Add cumin oregano and cheese. Remove from heat and add sour cream.

*This was the way I got the recipe. Since then I've played with it a little. I usually cook two pounds of dry white beans in the crock pot and then add 1 and a half pounds of cooked chopped chicken, the spices x 4 and let everyone add cheese and sour cream to each individual bowl.*

Mmm, mmm, good...

Is soup on the menu at your house since it's been chilly outside?
I used to shy away from making it because it turned out sort of watery and less than tasty. But I kept trying and trying because soup is not only good food, it's very cheap!

Then I found this recipe for soup seasoning. I've tried to share it will all of my friends because I love it so much, it just makes the soup. And, if you are thinking ahead toward the holidays, it makes a nice gift if you use a pretty jar and some ribbon.

Basic Soup Seasoning:

1/4 cup basil

6 Tbsp. seasoning salt

1/8 cup thyme

1/8 cup onion salt

1/8 cup garlic powder

1/8 cup sage

1/8 cup pepper

1/8 cup celery salt

Mix well, store in airtight container. Use about 2 Tbsp. per pot of soup (or more, if you like it a little spicier like I do).

I hope you enjoy making soup more using this recipe!

Monday, October 20, 2008


It is traditional to have guests over during the feast of booths, or Sukkot. Tonight, when evening comes, we will be saying goodbye to this festive holiday for yet another year as the holiday will be ending. I will miss the enjoyable, outdoor fellowship the most. I just love the beautiful foliage, hot chocolate and an evening with friends.

{As a side note here, I want to recommend a movie to you, Ushpizin, it's all about Sukkot and unexpected guests. We rented it from our Blockbuster. A little warning, though, it's subtitled, so only the older, reading child would enjoy it. But, it's a great family movie.}

On Friday night we had a fun family over that has many children. We ate white chicken chili out of the warm crock pot with corn bread and had a peach sauce over spice cake later on for desert. My daughter sang, several children recited memory verses and two of the children played their instruments for us. The oldest daughter of the family that came over plays the harp. What a beautiful music! Her mom told me, "it's the one instrument that will sound lovely no matter how unskilled the player." Forget the piano or clarinet for my children!

Saturday evening was a more adult atmosphere. We had couples from the Bible study we attend. There were only two children (in addition to our six) but everyone had a great time. We ate rice and beans with homemade tortillas brought by one of the ladies and had cheesecake and apple pie for desert. We sat out in the cold with warm drinks, under the white Christmas lights and grape lights. It was great to get to know everyone a little better.

Tomorrow the sukkah comes down and I will miss it.

On my bookshelf...

This was such an informative book! There are recipes for so much more than jams and jellies, all sorts of condiments, in fact. Ketchup, mustard, relishes, flavored oils and lots more. There were recipes not just for the summer months either, many for winter-time marmalade using cranberries and oranges, I can't wait to try those, what wonderful gifts they will be.

Since it was borrowed from the library, I sat for several hours copying recipes that I thought I could use on to 3x5 cards.

I hope you love it as much as I did.
This one had less usable information for me, but was well written and easily understandable for the beginner. I am wanting to try having chickens, but since we live right in town, we'll have to go rooster-less and the other animals just won't work for us. But, if you are looking in to or just interested in the topic, check this book out.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Serenity has had a *guest* writer on her blog! Check out the interesting information that he gives about our current Biblical holiday, the feast of Sukkot!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Quick Tip

Those of us here in the Northwest have a Fred Meyer in almost every town.

This week it is 70% off of clearance clothing, shoes and jewelry.

When I went I didn't see too many things that I had to have but I did pick up several pairs of summer shoes for children at $4 and $5 a piece. Great prices, it doesn't get any lower than this!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Make Your Own Relish

Ever tried to make relish? It's so easy! Use some of that free zucchini or yellow squash everyone is offering now.

Barbecue Relish

4 cups finely chopped zucchini

1 cup finely chopped onions

1 medium sweet red or green pepper

1/2 cup finely chopped celery

2 Tbsp. pickling salt

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 1/4 cup white vinegar (you can use apple cider vinegar)

1 Tbsp. celery seed (optional)

1 tsp. mustard seed

1/2 tsp. each, dry mustard and ground cloves

1. Combine zuch, onion, pepper and celery in large bowl. Sprinkle with the salt and cover with cold water. Let stand for 1 hour. Drain veggies in a sieve, pressing out excess moisture and reserve vegetables.

2. Combine sugar, vinegar, celery seed, mustard seed, dry mustard and cloves in a large stainless saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat and add reserved vegetable mixture. Return to boil, reduce heat and boil gently, uncovered for 45 minutes or until mixture thickens.

3. Add to hot jars. Process 10 minutes for 1/2 pint and 15 minutes for pint jars.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Autumn Pleasures... on a limited calorie budget

For the last several months, I've been really careful about what I put in my mouth. Or, really, what I allow with in 3 feet of my person due to the perpetual arm bending that seems to happen. Before I started this whole thing, I had no idea that there were so many calories in many of my favorite foods.

Take my usual autumn drinks. I love a carmel macchiato from Starbucks. Can you even guess how many calories are in one of those (272 for a 20 oz, but that's with low fat milk, if you don't specify you'll get the whole milk version at 312)? And I do enjoy a hot chocolate on a cold evening. Especially something with mint (Alpine mint hot chocolate - 500 calories for one serving!!!) What is a consciences dieter to do?

Check out Hungry Girl's tips on hot drinks here. Maybe you'll get some ideas of your own.

While we're on the subject, here are a few of my favorite diet conscious treats:

South Beach meal bars, especially chocolate, 180 calories. Tastes like a candy bar but has lots of protein. They keep me full for a long time. Just between you and me, I sometimes eat them for breakfast.

McDonald's ice cream cone, 150. I know that it's getting cold out but what a diet deal!

York peppermint patty, 140. I love these things.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


Here are a few books I am currently reading that you too may find interesting...

Can You Trust A Tomato In January? This has all sorts of interesting tidbits about our food supply, from when the grocery stores took off and how to surprising info about the things that happen to our food before it hits the table here at home.

It really can't be a bad thing to be ready for a unexpected things to happen, power outages, natural disasters, that sort of thing.
So, when I saw this book at the library, I picked it up and have been studying the pages since. It's a new one, just out this past summer.

I find her ideas helpful and have found a good place to start. Living here in earthquake country, I'm especially interested in the section on evacuation. If we had to leave our house in five minutes would I have any idea of what to take? This book has helped me with some insight on what could be important in this type of situation.

I picked this little treasure up at a homeschool support group last night... it was on the "blessing" table, where others leave things they are finished with and anyone else can pick things up that they are interested in. It was fun to shop for free!
This little book has some sweet things to do, recipes, and just an overall positive way of looking at things. It's categorized by seasons, so I naturally have been reading in the fall section and finding all sorts of fun ideas.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Challah bread is the center of many Biblical feasts. Every week I bake two loaves, on Friday night we break bread together and say the kiddush. If you haven't tried this bread, you must! And, of course, you know I always advocate for you to try blessing the Shabbat as a family.

Need a good challah recipe?

I've tried a lot of recipes and this is my favorite. I like to double it and put two loaves in the freezer for the next week. If you'd like to try freezing them, I'll include those directions at the end of the recipe.

1 T active dry yeast
1 3/4 cups lukewarm water
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 oil
4 eggs
9 cups flour
2 T salt
poppy or sesame seeds for sprinkling (optional)
1 additional egg for the glaze
1. In large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Add the sugar and oil and mix well with a whisk or wooden spoon. Beat in four of the eggs and gradually stir in 8 cups of flour and salt. When you have a dough that holds together well, it's ready for kneading. Kneed about 10 minutes on a lightly floured surface. You can work in up to another 1 - 1 1/2 cups of flour as needed Better yet, get the troops in the kitchen and give them each a ball of dough and let them go to town. (The dough should be smooth and elastic at this point).

2. Place the dough in a large, oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise in a warm place for about an hour, until it's about doubled it's size.

3. Remove it from the bowl and punch it down. Be rough! The dough loves it!

4. Return to bowl and let it rise again for 30 minutes more.

5. Take it out of the bowl and make six equal balls of dough. Make each ball into a rope about 14 inches long. Pinch three together on one end and braid. Do it again for the second loaf.

6. Let the challah loaves rise another hour, uncovered. Fifteen minutes before putting the loaves in the oven, beat the remaining egg and brush it gently over them. Five minutes later, brush them again. Sprinkle with the seeds.

7. Preheat the oven to 375 and bake for about 30 minutes. Remove and cool on a rack.

To Freeze: Stop at #5. After braiding your bread, but before letting it rise again, double wrap it in plastic wrap and place on a cookie sheet in the freezer. When you are ready to use it, take it out 5 hours before you want to glaze and bake.


Oh! And it makes fabulous french toast the next day (this is from a round loaf, just braided and twisted in to a circle for Rosh Hashana)...

Or try a regular braided challah as sub sandwich bread. Your children will love it.

Like the New Look?

It was so easy and fun! Try it at Cutest Blog on the Block for free!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Your Sins Will Be Cast in to the Depths of the Sea

My husband reciting the tashlich prayer on Rosh Hashana.

It is traditional to cast bread crumbs on the water while calling out your sins. Rebelliousness, disobedience, lying....
Some of us were confused about what the bread was for....

Thanks Tammy!

I wanted to publicly thank Tammy of Tammy's Recipes for linking to my Rosh Hashana post... I think I've had more hits in the last two days than I've had ever before! Thank you!!!