Wednesday, October 28, 2009


In the crock pot, simmering away:

Black Bean Soup
1 lb. soaked black beans
1 lb. hamburger
2 cups diced carrots
2 cups diced celery
2 cups diced onions
3 cloves of garlic
1 tsp. each, cumin, thyme, oregano, pepper
1 bay leaf
64 oz. vegetable or beef broth
2 tbsp. tomato paste
2 tbsp. lime juice
sour cream, chopped tomatoes, chopped cilantro

Cook hamburger with carrots, celery and onions. Add meat mixture and soaked beans to crockpot along with garlic, cumin, thyme, oregano, bay leaf and pepper. Stir in broth and tomato paste. Cook all day on high, until beans are soft. Stir in lime juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls, serve with sour cream, tomatoes and cilantro.
Makes 12 servings

I plan to serve this with my daughters famous herbed batter rolls. They are so good!
With a little prodding (ok, really, a lot) I was able to get school done with my two middle boys, the little ones had preschool and my two big kids are still working at theirs. Between getting snack out to the table and switching the laundry, I made a stop in the kitchen to make a bucket of hot cocoa mix.

At nap time today, I plan to get out all of my coupons and the ad circulars and see what shopping needs to be done. It's a big job when I haven't been keeping up on my coupon dates so I'm guessing I'll be at it at for at least an hour. I'll make a menu plan at the same time, hopefully for at least the next two weeks.

I'll bake a little something warm for the kids for afternoon snack, I'm thinking about black bottom banana bars.

On the roster for my 4:00 workout time slot:

We really like The Firm videos, they have more weights in them than most - this one is our current favorite.

Since dinner is already taken care of I foresee a calm and easy evening. I'll give a few baths after dinner and then read our current chapter book, Laura Ingalls Wilder, A Storybook Life by the Benges. After having read her series it is interesting to read an actual account of her life in this biography. We are all noticing the slight differences.
After that, a little time to relax with my big kids and then, off to bed for the mommy. And, then, we'll do it all again tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Freezer Meals for the Crockpot

What could be easier? Load your ingredients in to Ziploc bags, put them in the freezer and then when you want to use them, pour the whole thing in to the crock pot.

It's what I call dump cooking. I will often do this if I have lots of some ingredients that need to be used up. If you get a great buy on potatoes, carrots, onions and celery - which is going to be happening here with Thanksgiving on it's way, add chicken, beef or some of that free turkey they will be giving away at the grocery store, to a bag and put in all of your cut up veggies. Add some seasonings. On cooking day, throw it all in together with a little stock, a can of tomatoes, Italian dressing or tomato sauce and dinner will be ready in about 7 or 8 hours.

For a free downloadable ebook with recipes to cook this way, go here. It was put together by Malia Russell of Homemaking911. (Although I strongly encourage the use of the crock pot, I am in no way endorsing the pork recipes!!! :) Enjoy easier fall and winter meals this year!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Book Time for Bedtime

This little sibling bonding time started out with one child reading and one child listening. But, of course, soon he was surrounded by an eager crowd. He was reading one of my favorite children's book of all time.

The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman. I think it's because I can so relate to Mrs. Peters. At least the state of her house, the waning patience directly related to the number of growing demands on her and the abundant love that she has for her little children.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My Three Sons

As a stay-at-home mom you have to find joy in your life where you can. This morning after hanging the laundry out I saw this picture from the bathroom window. Three pair of jeans, like stair steps, representing my three boys. Pure joy.

Monday, October 19, 2009

New Blog

My husband is not the kind of guy that jumps in to anything. In fact, he's the kind of guy that thinks about it, contemplates it, considers it and then puts his big toe in. He is forever saying that I leap before I look, we are just totally opposite in that way.

When I started blogging a year and a half ago, he began thinking of names for his blog. He made lists of possible topics. He thought long and hard about blogging.

Well, I can say, that finally he took the plunge and I am so glad. He studies all the time and is a wonderful teacher. He's already written a four-part series and last night studied the origin of the star of David. I think you will enjoy reading what he has to say, take a look at his new blog: here.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Crazy Rat Race We Run

The Rat Race isn't just about corporate America. It's our whole society's way of thinking.

Take moms for example. How many do you know that are running around like crazy women, shuttling their children from one activity to the next, forever complaining that they don't even have time to do their laundry, there is so much on their plate? I sometimes wonder how many people are "complaining" just to let you know how much they do, but there are others out there who are truly overwhelmed at everything they think is expected of them.

One family that comes to mind are our old friends Jeanette and Bob. She was in charge of the nursery, he was on the worship team. She was on the board for the women's ministry and he was a teacher for the kid's Wednesday night programs. They were there every time the doors were open, three services a week and the weekly Bible study night. Their children are well known in the children's programs because they are always there.

I just found out that Jeanette and Bob have separated.

Then there is my friend, Rachel. She's started back to school this year because "it was an opportunity that she just couldn't pass up." She got a full ride and knows that it is the best thing for her family because she'll be able to work from home after she gets her degree. Never mind that her two teenage children will be practically grown and gone by the time she's done. Never mind that her house is in total disarray. Never mind.

I was talking to a homeschooling mom of three this week. She tells me how she's running from gymnastics for her daughter to sports practice (which is five afternoons a week!) for her son. Her older daughter has her activities too. They all attend classes and although they live far out of town, they are here every day of the week for something. She leans in and whispers that they've had Taco Bell at least every other night, and then laughs.

I don't think it's funny.

Each of these stories are real people that I know personally, and only a very small selection of people that I know who do it all. I'm sure the same holds for the people in your life.

I once heard an older woman say, "To homeschool your children you need to be home." It was my first clue in to the whole idea of a stay-at-home mom really, um, staying at home. I used to believe that to have a well-rounded and well-educated, socialized child I needed to do everything. I felt guilty if I said no to any of the fun activities that were interesting to my children.

Let's hold that ideal up to the light of Scripture.

In Titus 2:3-4 Paul gives these instructions as to how a young married woman is to be trained by older women: “...train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands so that no one will malign the Word of God.”

To be busy at H-O-M-E. I remember the days that I used to think that there was nothing to do at home. Ha! That was because I left the laundry, "cooked" out of a box and didn't take pride in my home. We were up early, left the dishes to get on to co-op preschool and Bible studies. Today I realize that there is much to do here at home. Each year I learn more about gardening and canning, cooking and sewing. My floors are swept and my children are in order (ok, those of you who know me, you know that I am still working on both of those!!!)

"So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander." 1 Timothy 5:14

Managing our homes is a huge job! Meal planning, homeschooling, overseeing chores and character lessons, cleaning, cooking and cleaning it all up again! How do we expect to manage our homes from the driver's seat of the car? The more children that I've had, the more I realize the truth. Being the personal assistant to the CEO of our family is one incredible job, especially when the guy is gone for 8 or 10 hours a day at work, I'm left to do the heavy lifting at home. I don't take my position lightly, I want to be the best manager of my home that I can be. That means spending time planning and scheduling, watching and paying attention. Which is a perfect lead in to the next scripture.

"She looks well to the ways of her household, and eats not the bread of idleness." Proverbs 31:27

Or how about this one? It characterizes the foolish woman.

"She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house." Proverbs 7:11

God, the maker of all things, the guy who invented the parent/child relationship, believes it best for the mom to stay at home. I'm just guessing here, but in all probability, it is good for the children too. I think of the pastor's wife I knew who's fourth child, an infant daughter, would cry every time she saw the car seat because she was strapped in it so much. What about the many toddlers who catch a 15 minute nap on the way to choir practice for their older siblings? Ever read the research on the correlation between the sleep deprivation and ADHD? Just my thoughts.
And, remember that woman who spent so much time at the Taco Bell drive through? Something she said really shook me out of my stupor. When I suggested that she stay home more, she said,"My son would be fine with that, but it's my daughters that are not content with being home." Breeding discontent with the work and cycles of the home life starts young.

Helping out to serve meals at the soup kitchen or taking your child to piano lessons are not bad things in themselves. But, please realize your priorities. Being home to care for the family in every way is our God-given calling.

And, lastly, I leave you with this scripture:

Proverbs 14:1 "Every wise woman builds her house: but the foolish plucks it down with her hands."

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pumpkin Penne


1-12 oz box whole wheat penne pasta
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 - 15 oz can pumpkin
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon, each, salt and pepper
fresh parsley, chopped
1 1/2 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to pot, covering to keep warm.

While the pasta is cooking, in a saucepan, heat oil on medium. Add shallots, cook and stir until tender, about three minutes. Whisk in broth, evaporated milk, pumpkin, spice, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, for four minutes, stirring occasionally.

Toss pasta with sauce.Spoon in to bowls and top with parsley and cheese.

Makes six cups.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Using It Up

For years I made grocery lists according to what we wanted to eat for meals. Lately, I buy what is a on sale for a great price and then make it work for meals. I think it's the next level of grocery shopping.

Last week Top Foods had carrots on sale 2 lbs. / 69c. Good, nutritious food, good, money saving price. I bought several bags. I've been getting really creative with how to use them and realized yesterday as I made a carrot raisin salad to go along with dinner that I've used up the five bags I bought! I made several soups and stews that I filled with carrots, added carrots to our sloppy joes, doled them out as before meal appetizers, added them to three freezer chicken crockpot meals, and made a double batch of carrot raisin muffins.

When I think about it, this is how most of the recipes we know and love today were born. Women had what they had and they used it. If there were apples available, they baked them and fried them, stewed them and put them in to pastries. How funny that today we decide that we want an apple pie and go out to buy the ingredients.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Check, check and check...

Becki's beef stew in the crockpot. School is finished for the day. Bills done, Paperback swap books wrapped, mail sent. Nap time. Ahhhhh.......

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Names not to use...

When does a name just become a generic label?

Since Jennifer was the number one name for a decade and a half, it seems that anyone my age is a Jennifer. My mom says that they knew no Jennifers at the time and it was such a beautiful name (I remind her that it has fur in it...) She says that it was either that or Amy, the number two name for the year I was born - not a lot of originality. I was determined not to do that to my children! I am shocked and appalled to see my eldest daughter's name on the top 100 for our state.

Curious as to where your children's names fit in? Here are the latest stats on the top ten names. Cruise around the site for top names by year or state. Have fun!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Crying Out For The Messiah

My family just loves these little guys. My three-year-old daughter was singing this song while eating snack this afternoon and my four-year-old is riding his bike around the kitchen/dining/living room loop singing it right now. I hope you like them as much as we do.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Friday, October 2, 2009

Away in a manger....

The finishing touches were put on the sukkah this afternoon.

First, the canvas clothed the naked structure, then the lights were added, decorations and lastly the tree branches on the top.

Here is our complete sukkah for the '09 festival, complete with hay bail seating, cornstalks and gourds from the garden and a newly built fire pit out in front for those frosty evenings. These pictures are especially for Gail, who requested them.

Chag Sameach!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sukkah Raising Party '09

As with most things around our house, one person's project turns in to a family project very quickly.
My husband started to get tools and lumber out to put up the sukkah today and everyone got in to the act.

A few innocent bystanders.

Me, pretending to help. Before this I was sitting on the bench in the sunshine with the camera taking pictures of free range chickens and free range children.

The littlest worker.

My husband had sent me to the store to buy bales of straw for the sukkah and while I was gone he got the structure up with the help of all of the children. They are really becoming a good work crew!

Sukkot, or the feast of booths, will be going on this year from October 2nd through the 9th. Consider building a sukkah with your family this year and following the Word:

Leviticus 23:39-43
39"On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the produce of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the LORD seven days. On the first day shall be a solemn rest, and on the eighth day shall be a solemn rest. 40And you shall take on the first day the fruit of splendid trees, branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days. 41 You shall celebrate it as a feast to the LORD for seven days in the year. It is a statute forever throughout your generations; you shall celebrate it in the seventh month. 42 You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All native Israelites shall dwell in booths, 43that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God."

Nehemiah 8:14-18
14And they found it written in the Law that the LORD had commanded by Moses that the people of Israel should dwell in booths during the feast of the seventh month, 15and that they should proclaim it and publish it in all their towns and in Jerusalem, "Go out to the hills and bring branches of olive, wild olive, myrtle, palm, and other leafy trees to make booths, as it is written." 16So the people went out and brought them and made booths for themselves, each on his roof, and in their courts and in the courts of the house of God, and in the square at the Water Gate and in the square at the Gate of Ephraim. 17And all the assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and lived in the booths, for from the days of Jeshua the son of Nun to that day the people of Israel had not done so. And there was very great rejoicing. 18And day by day, from the first day to the last day, he read from the Book of the Law of God. They kept the feast seven days, and on the eighth day there was a solemn assembly, according to the rule.