Thursday, December 31, 2009

Pantry Challenge - part 2

Today I'm sharing my pantry contents...  Does anyone else find it weird to show the whole world what's inside your fridge/freezer and pantry?  Or is that just me?

Moving right along then - here is yesterday's post of what I found in my freezers and fridges (it's A LOT more than I thought I had).

Top 3 shelves (that second shelf is baking supplies -and a jumbo container of taco seasoning- only)

Bottom shelf and floor.

Here's what I found in the pantry (tally marks indicate 1 meal of each item, unless otherwise noted):
Tuna - I
Canned chicken - I  I
Salmon - I
Rotel - I  I  I
Green beans - I  I
Peas - I
Tomato paste - I  I
Tomato sauce - I
Home canned spag. sauce - 1½ pints
Dehydrated tomatoes - 1 bag
Black olives - I  I
Home canned jalapenos - ½ pint
Home canned apple butter - ½ pint
Pizza sauce - I  I  I  I
Peanut butter - 4 jars
Apple sauce - ½ gallon
Pumpkin pancake mix - I  I  I
Italian dressing (marinade) - I
Baking supplies - PLENTY (including about 12lb of flour and ½ giant bag of chocolate chips in garage fridge)
Pasta - I  I
Corn chips - 1 bag = I  I  I

Other random items include - snacks left over from Christmas sacks, tea, popcorn, cereal, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar.

I have WAY more food than I ever dreamed I had in my house.  I managed to make an entire month's menu plan and only added a few items to my list that I'll need to buy during the second half of the month.  I picked up a few things today and I shouldn't need to purchase anything for at least 2 weeks.

On Monday I'll share my menu plan for the entire month of January and my budget for the month (including what I spent today).

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Pantry Challenge - part 1

Are you taking the pantry challenge?  I am!  If you're not familiar with what the pantry challenge is all about, you can hop over to either Money Saving Mom or Life As Mom and find out more.

My first step in starting this month of eating from what we have with minimal shopping was to take an inventory of my freezers, fridges and pantry.

Today I'm sharing my fridges and freezers with you.

This is the freezer in my garage.

This is the freezer inside.
Here's my freezer inventory (each tally mark represents 1 meal worth of the item - unless otherwise noted):
Fish - I
Chicken breasts - I
Ground beef - I  I  I  I  I  I  I
Browned taco meat - I
Steak - I
Antelope steaks - I
Deer sausage - I
Whole chicken - I
Cooked shredded chicken - I  I  I
Jumbo bag of chicken nuggets

Carrots - I  I
Pumpkin puree - 11 pints
Frozen mixed veggies - I  I  I  I  I
Frozen corn - I  I  ½
Frozen broccoli - I
Jumbo unopened bag of frozen strawberries
Jumbo bag of frozen blueberries - ½

Chicken stock - I  I  I
Bread - 2 loaves

This is the fridge in the garage.

This is the inside fridge.

Here is my fridge inventory:
Crescent rolls (canned) - I  I  I  I
Pizza crust (canned) - I  I  I  I
Tortillas - 2+ packages = appx. 24
Brown rice - I  I  I  I
Quinoa - I  I  I  I

Several jars of beans in varying amounts, including - pinto, navy, red/kidney, lentils, black and black eyed peas.
Refried beans - I

Turkey pepperoni - ½ bag
Hot dogs - I  I  I
Deli meat - I

Salsa (homemade) - 3 pints
Applesauce - ½ jar
Onions - I  I  I  I  I  I  I
Garlic - tons from my aunt's garden
Potatoes - I  I

Cheddar - 2lb
Mozzarella - ½lb
Eggs - 2 doz.

That's it for today.  Tomorrow, I'll give you my pantry inventory and my meal plan for the entire month of January!  I'll also include my goal for how much I'll spend for the month and what I'll be purchasing with that amount.

You can follow along with Part 2, also.

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Incredibly thankful

I have never participated in Gratituesday, but thought it was about time since I can think of so many things to be thankful for this year.

In no particular order, here are some of the things I'm thankful for from 2009:

~ My garden and all of it's abundance.
~ Eli has made so much progress with physical therapy that he is down to only going once per month! (That link is to a really old post, but it will give you background on Eli's condition in case you aren't familiar).
~ Homeschooling and a kindergartener that is so eager to learn and easy to teach.
~ A wonderful husband who serves this country faithfully without ever complaining and is currently serving a 6 month deployment in Iraq.
~ The best next door neighbors a family could ever ask for.  Seriously, they take care of our yard and house each time we are away, shovel my snow when Michael isn't home, check on the kids and me frequently when he's away and babysit (for free!).
~ How God is using us to minister to a young unmarried couple we are friends with and the wonderful fruits I see of our investment of time and family into these young lives.
~ Bloggy friends who I'm proud to say are now real-life friends.  It is such a pleasure to call Carrie and Amy my new real-life friends!
~ Our new church.  In late July, after much prayer and many discussions, we moved our family to a new church and could not be happier.  This church is exactly what we were looking for and the entire family loves it!

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, December 17, 2009

My little Houdini!

This child can get out of just about any shirt I put her in (unless it snaps in the crotch)!  It's quite comical!  I think the only reason she didn't get this one completely off is because it had a snap at the back of the neck.  In this photo she's 8 months old.

She can also get out of velcro diapers when she's not wearing something to cover them.  I learned this the hard way with a very nasty diaper this summer (not pictured...)! She's 10 months in this photo.

Good morning mama!  13 months.

And this was taken today - and she's done this more than once today!!  She's 15 months.

She also frequently tries to get her sleepers off while I have them unzipped changing her diaper.  She tries feverishly to get her arms out before I get done with the diaper change!!  She WILL NOT leave socks on.  I have to put Robeez on her to get her to keep her socks on because the Robeez have elastic around the ankles and she hasn't figured out how to get them off yet.  She also constantly pulls on the feet of her tights trying to pull them off.

She's funny!

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Quite overwhelmed

Whew!  What a whirlwind 2 weeks.  I am feeling quite overwhelmed today.

If you missed it, two weeks ago, we found out we are moving to Turkey in July!  Why the stress, July is many months away still?  Did I mention that Michael is leaving TOMORROW and will be in Iraq for the next six months...  Oy vey!

There have been so many things that were necessary to accomplish before he left that I feel like I haven't stopped or taken a breath in the last two weeks.

Beyond my regular motherly/homemaker duties we have:
~ Completely cleared our crawl space before Michael leaves (because the movers won't go in there) since I didn't want to get stuck trying to bring all the stuff up by myself.
~ I have sorted EVERY piece of baby/kid clothing and gear in all of the bins we were keeping for future children (most of you know that we won't be having any more children since I had such extreme complications following Rachael's birth).  I have taken photos and listed a lot of our gear on craigslist, given/sold some to friends and taken tons to Goodwill.
~ All of the items that had previously been stored (in Rubbermaid tubs) in the crawl space are now stored in the garage, so I've completely rearranged the garage to accommodate all the bins AND the van.
~ Spent countless hours discussing all the ins-and-outs of things I will need to accomplish while Michael is away.
~ Decided not to sell our house.
~ Filled out lots of paperwork.
~ Plus tons more small things that I know I'm forgetting because my head is so full of information, I feel like it will explode at any moment.

Today is the final appointment of items to be accomplished before Michael leaves.  We must go apply for our military passports and Visas.  The paperwork is complete and photos have been taken, the only thing left is to go in at 2:00 and finalize it all.

I still have a long journey ahead of me, but it's all manageable since I don't have to accomplish it all in a two week time span (and I have some wonderful babysitters lined up for those days when I just don't want to take the children to certain appointments)!

So, dear readers, if I'm not around much over the next few weeks, it's not because I've abandoned you, it's because I'm taking a wee break.  The kids and I will be driving to Arkansas to spend Christmas with some of my extended family and I'm going to rest my tired self and gain up my strength to endure this deployment!

Bookmark and Share

Friday, December 11, 2009

Frugal Christmas for kids

As a family, we do not place a lot of emphasis on Christmas gifts the way the commercial world would like us to.  We choose to mostly celebrate Jesus' birth!  We do give gifts to our children, but they are usually small and Christmas morning is NOT an elaborate gift-opening-event in our home.  Rather, it is leisurely.  There's a fresh, hot breakfast and then the children are permitted to open their gifts.

Michael and I also typically do not exchange gifts.  Not because we're anti-gift, but simply because we have decided that if there is truly something out there we want, and it's in the budget, we would go ahead and purchase it, no need for a special occasion!  However, there are, on occasion, surprises!!

This year the children are receiving small gifts.

~ new pair of waterproof gloves
~ ninja costume
~ pillow case with a photo of Michael and the boys
~ stuffed animal with recorded greeting from Michael (these are provided by Airman and Family Readiness Center)

~ new winter ha
~ Power Ranger costume
~ pillow case with a photo of Michael and the boys
~ stuffed animal with recorded greeting from Michael

~ Cabbage Patch doll (each child has received a Cabbage Patch doll on their first Christmas, however, last Christmas, the company only had reproduction 25th anniversary dolls out - and they were much too retro for my taste!)
~ stuffed animal with recorded greeting from Michael

Michael is deploying to Iraq on Wednesday, December 16, so the boys will receive their pillow cases this Tuesday (provided I get them finished this weekend - I've already printed the transfers, just need to iron them on) as a special gift to help them sleep well and feel like daddy is close, even though he's very far away.

Tip: I shop Target on November 1 each year and purchase a few costumes for each child.  I got both costumes this year for $15 total.  Retailers deeply discount any left over Halloween costumes starting the day after Halloween.  This year Michael was TDY for the first 2 weeks of November (he left VERY early on the 1st) and I wasn't unable to purchase any other costumes (the kids were with me even for the ones I did buy, but I *think* they've forgotten about them by now).  Rachael is still a bit young for dressing up, so she isn't receiving a costume this year.

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Littles and card games

I enjoy playing card games with the boys and it's so fun to watch them learn and develop new thinking and reasoning skills.  We are currently mostly playing games like Go Fish or Crazy 8's with card sets found at Dollar Tree (but Jacob also really enjoys Uno). These are awesome and usually come in packs of two - we have one that had Crazy 8's and Go Fish and another pack that they received as a gift that had Crazy 8's and Memory and each pack is only $1!!  So far they're holding up quite nicely!

However, Jacob has finally gotten to the age where he understands that his hand of cards should be kept out of view of everyone else playing the game but at almost 6, his hand isn't quite big enough to pull of the feat of holding them all....

Enter, the card holder:

This has quickly become one of my favorite "gadgets" for having fun with littles.  It seems to be even more helpful for Eli who is 3 and is constantly fidgety and always knocking his cards off the table.  It helps him keep them all in one place and for Jacob it is helping him learn the art of keeping his hand hidden!

This post is linked to Works For Me Wednesday.

Bookmark and Share

Monday, December 7, 2009

Easy peel hard boiled eggs

Do you have trouble peeling your boiled eggs?  I did too, until I learned a wonderful, new trick and I have barely had any trouble with peeling eggs since!!

I'm going to share with you my egg boiling procedure start to finish:

* Choose your oldest eggs (I usually have 2 cartons of eggs in my fridge, and always leave the older eggs in the bottom carton, using the eggs in the carton on top for baking, breakfast, etc.).  Older eggs crack and the shell separates from the egg more easily.
* Place desired amount of eggs in a pot with cold water to about 2" above the eggs.
* Turn on high and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, set your timer for 13 minutes and continue to boil.
* While eggs are boiling, make an ice water bath (large bowl, ½ ice and ½ water).
* Once your timer beeps, turn the eggs off and immediately dip them out of boiling water and place in ice water bath.
* Leave in ice water bath until completely chilled through (this is usually when I move on to another project and come back in an hour or two when I remember that I have eggs chillin'!).
* Remove eggs from ice water onto a towel.
* If you are not using the eggs immediately, allow to dry, slip them into a ziploc and place in fridge.
* If you are using the eggs immediately:
     :: Crack egg on counter (similar to how you'd crack a raw egg) until a dime size area is cracked.
     :: Roll your egg on the counter while applying gentle pressure to crack the egg all the way around.  (It's best if you use your palm, but I wanted you to actually see the egg!).  The idea is to gently 'smush' the peel and release the membrane from the white while rolling.  If you don't apply enough pressure the membrane won't loosen, however, if you apply too much pressure it will actually break the white and then you'll have a heck-of-a-time getting the peel off... ask me how I know!

     :: The cracked egg should look something like this (they don't always work this well, but are still definitely peel-able):

     :: And if you're really fortunate, this will happen:

:: Now, you're ready to peel the rest and prepare that dish!

I boiled 12 eggs and only 2 of them had any white damage after I peeled them. I was making deviled eggs and one of them was definitely not usable (it was absolutely awful to peel) and the other was doable, but the boys came in from playing outside just as I was finishing peeling the eggs, so they ate the damaged ones and I made the rest into deviled eggs!

Total time spent peeling 12 eggs, under 15 minutes!!

This post is linked to Kitchen Tip Tuesday.

Bookmark and Share

To sell or not to sell. . .

Ho hum.  Sometimes I wish God would just slap me in the face with the correct path to take in life.

On Wednesday, we thought we were set on selling the house, but it turns out, after much more discussion, we still have no idea what we are going to do.  ::sigh::

I spoke with a realtor on Saturday and he will be getting me all of the market comparisons, time on market info., etc. on Tuesday.  In the mean time I will be contacting property management companies to get all of my questions answered.

Time with Michael is dwindling since he leaves for Iraq in about 10 days.

In the mean time, until we actually make a decision, we have been acting as if we are selling.  I have been purging like a crazy woman (we have a weight limit for household goods)!  I have finally found a good excuse to part with all of the baby "stuff"* so that has all been brought up from the crawl space and I've already listed some of it on Craigslist.

*Until this point, I was having a very hard time (emotionally speaking) deciding to depart with all of the baby items.  Even though I know we most likely won't have another child, I had been so torn over this decision.  So, I guess in retrospect, this might have been God slapping me in the face about it being a good time to part with all of those things, because I am very much at peace with it now.

So far, I have purged 3 large, "outdoor" size trash bags with clothing that I had been hanging on to, bags/purses/backpacks and stuffed animals all to go to the Disabled American Veterans.  We have also purged another 2 of those trash bags of "junk" for the trash.  The only other major thing to be purged will be toys.  We have way too many and I'm so tired of it - this is a really good time to get the toys down to a manageable amount.  Why do we have so much stuff???

Even with all of the work we've been doing and the seemingly daunting task ahead of me, I'm overcome with excitement for his move!

Bookmark and Share

Friday, December 4, 2009

We're moving....

to Turkey!!!  Yes dear readers, next July we will be residing in Turkey at Incirlik Air Force Base!!

Michael called me early yesterday afternoon to tell me he got a PCS (permanent change of station) assignment to Turkey!  AND he is still leaving for Iraq for 6 months in under 2 weeks.  He'll be home sometime in late June and his report date for Incirlik is the end of July.  Whew, it's going to be a very busy time for me.

The biggest time consumer is going to be selling our house.  Doesn't that sound like something you want to do all by yourself with three young children?  No?  Me either... I'm sure this season will be very trying, but I am so thankful to have wonderful friends.

Turkey was actually one of the countries listed on Michael's overseas "wish-list" so we are definitely very excited about this move!!

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Advent study for young children

Once again, I waited until the last minute to try to get an Advent study together for our family...  However, I managed to pull it off without too much fuss and no money spent.  What I came up with will suffice for this year, and I WILL get my act together and create real ornaments for next year!

What I devised as an interim, until I can make permanent ornaments, is to use this devotion along with some printed "ornaments".  I opened MS Word and got busy finding clip art suitable for each ornament.  I made a document with each the clip arts sized to what I thought was appropriate and printed it on matte photo supreme paper (it's as thick as cardstock).  It's not the best thing ever, but thankfully my children don't really care about aesthetic appeal.  I have posted the Word document I created here, you're welcome to it.*

I cut out each of the items with decorative scissors, leaving enough room at the top for a small hole punch to feed a ribbon through.  Then the ribbon in a loop to make a "hanger" for the tree.  We will just hang them on our regular tree in with our regular ornaments.  You might also want to have a separate small tree devoted to being a Jesse Tree.

We were 5 days late getting started, so yesterday we covered the first three days' devotions during our Bible time.  We managed to not get any school work done today so we will try to get caught up on Friday and then do one a day as we're suppose to.

If you are looking for Advent/Jesse Tree devotionals for your family for the Christmas season, you might want to check out some of these wonderful posts:

* Keeping Christ in Christmas with the Jesse Tree from A High and Noble Calling
* Celebrate with Joy: Week 1 from Keeper of the Home
* Our Jesse Tree: A Focused Advent Celebration from Passionate Homemaking
* Jesse Tree from Rocks in My Dryer (from 2008)
* Advent Daily Dose: The Jesse Tree from Kitchen Stewardship

* Feel free to print and use the Advent "ornaments" I created, however if you link to the document on a post, I would appreciate a link-back.  Thanks.

This post is linked to Frugal Fridays.

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Reusing ziploc bags

I am a big fan of reusing ziploc bags.  I reuse all of my ziplocs that have not had raw meat in them.  I use them until they simply give out and get a hole or spring a leak.

If they have held something dry (crackers, cookies, etc.) I usually just empty the crumbs into the trash and stick the bag back in my stash.  However, if they've held another type of food or something messy, I wash them by hand.

My tip for you is to hang on to your bottle/sippy cup drying rack once you're no longer using it for its intended purpose, it makes a really good baggie drying rack.  I also frequently have more bags to dry than will fit on the rack so I move my utensil bucket onto a towel and place bags onto taller spoons and spatulas to dry.  Here's what my kitchen counter looks like on those occasions.

Be sure to head on over to Kitchen Tip Tuesday for more wonderful tips to make your kitchen time go more smoothly.

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - 11/23

This week is a short menu for me. We will be leaving Thursday morning (yes, we're driving on Thanksgiving Day) and heading to Oklahoma for the weekend. We originally planned to leave Wednesday afternoon, but decided since we'll be staying in a hotel, we didn't want to have to figure out what to do for food for a Thanksgiving meal. Most restaurants that are open require a reservation and have higher costs for that meal, so we opted to avoid that dilemma by traveling on the day and packing our travel food (as we always do).

So, here's what I have planned:

Cold cereals and ::gasp:: poptarts on travel day, the hotel has an omelet bar for the other mornings!

Leftovers, sandwiches, snack foods, fresh fruit

Monday: Sloppy joes, corn, fruit smoothies
Tuesday: Baked chicken, steamed veggies, bread/rolls
Wednesday: Grilled cheese, tomato soup, fruit smoothies
Thursday: packing sandwiches, fruit and snacks for our trip
Friday: Dinner out with Michael's mom
Saturday: No idea.
Sunday: packing sandwiches, fruit and snacks for our trip home

For more weekly menu plans (including Thanksgiving meals) hop on over to Menu Plan Monday.

Friday, November 20, 2009

It's a girl thing!

A year and a half ago when I found out I was having a girl - after already having had two boys - I was definitely very excited! But I thought, since I am a fairly plain girl, I wouldn't be all that into frilly, girly things.... but I was VERY wrong. I love dressing her up in cute clothing and hairbows! It's just so easy to do!

This week, at 14 months, she had her first pig-tails and I was over the moon about it!I think that knowing she is most likely my last (doctor's orders) unless God decides to surprise us and bless us with another - which would be absolutely OK with me - has made me enjoy these baby days just a bit more than I did with the first two. It's a finer thing to love and cherish a baby!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A morning time saver tip

I have an awesome tip for those of you that have trouble getting out the door in the morning (due to all the little things that hold the kids up). This will apply mostly to those of us with younger children who require constant supervision when doing those final tasks like brushing teeth, combing hair, hair bows, etc.

Of course, this may be irrelevant if you live in a single story home, but maybe you'll still find something useful to implement in your routine.

We live in a two story home with full bathrooms upstairs and a half bath downstairs just inside the door to the garage (in the kitchen). Many months ago, I was becoming frustrated on the mornings we had to be somewhere early due to all the running back and forth up the stairs. The up-and-down is very time consuming and very ineffective when trying to keep a schedule. So here's what I came up with:
I bought a duplicate set of all of the staple, last minute items we were constantly running back upstairs to do (myself included). We now have toothbrushes, toothpaste, lotion, hair smoother, and a comb located in the downstairs bathroom. It is so quick for me to send the boys in there one at a time to brush their teeth and comb their hair while I'm in the kitchen getting someone else ready (tying shoes, putting on coats, etc.). I also keep a few of Rachael's hair ties/bows outside the bathroom on a shelf in the kitchen for easy access for me [I don't keep these in the bathroom because a certain 3 year old likes to flick them when I'm not looking!!]. It has saved me so much frustration in the mornings and I just love the simplicity of it! It absolutely works for me.

Be sure to hop on over to Works-For-Me-Wednesday for more wonderful posts on what's working for everyone.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - 11/16

What a crazy couple of weeks it has been around here. Whew! But, I don't foresee the busy-ness slowing down until after Christmas. I am so happy that I participated in baking day, it is saving me loads of time in my meal planning and preparations!!

Here's what we are planning for meals for this week:

~ pumpkin pancakes (from the pre-made mix I made on baking day) and cold cereal (we are very overstocked on cereal from a recent deal)

~ leftovers, simple thrown together things of varying assortments, fresh fruits and veggies

~ Monday: Chicken tortilla soup (from freezer)
~ Tuesday: Tacos (with lots of trimmings) served with fresh fruit
~ Wednesday: Pan seared Tilapia (seared in coconut oil), steamed veggies and bread or rolls
~ Thursday: Ziti (from freezer), steamed veggies and bread or rolls
~ Friday: Pizza night with fruit smoothies
~ Saturday: No idea because we may spend the day in Denver, if not we'll probably have burritos from the freezer
~ Sunday: Date night - Michael and I have an inside date after the kids go to bed - we choose somewhere simple to order takeout and then watch a favorite show or movie together!!

Be sure to visit Menu Planning Monday for more inspiration and weekly menu plans.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Times are changing

Just wanted to give you all a heads-up that there will be some changes taking place around here in the weeks/months to come. Working on a completely new experience here at Bloggin' Mama. And possibly a new name (more on that another day)!!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Happy Veteran's Day.

Happy Veteran's Day to all of you! We thank you immensly for what you have done and continue to do for this great country.

There's one veteran in particular who is really special to us! He is TSgt Michael Venning of the United States Air Force.
I am proud to call him my husband! And our children are proud to call him dad!

Somehow I don't have a current photo of Michael in uniform. The most recent one I could find was at his previous rank... The above photo was taken in Kuwait in 2005.

My personal thanks also go out to my grandfather, B.S. Thompson, who served during the Korean conflict,

My late grandfather, C.G. Scott who served during Vietnam.

My uncle, Master Chief Petty Officer (retired) John Schnoering.

Another special thanks goes out to the late grandfather of my most dear friend (Wanda), Harold Wainwright, who served in the 3rd Infantry Division and received a purple heart in 1943.

Please be sure to visit the Happy Housewife for many more thank you's and tributes.

About me

Hello and Welcome to Bloggin' Mama!

I'm Laura and I am the proud wife of Michael and am blessed to be the mommy of Jacob, Eli and Rachael.  Michael is currently a TSgt in the US Air Force and we are currently calling Colorado Springs, Colorado home, but it looks like we'll be transplanting to Turkey mid-2010!

About four years ago God really convicted us to make me staying home to raise our children a priority.  I am proud to say that three and a half years ago we took that step and I am a domestic mommy to our three precious treasures!

More recently we have really begun to learn that homeschooling our children is what God wants from us as a family.  Through homeschooling we are able to be more involved in developing and shaping our childrens' hearts and who they will become as men and women of God.

I currently spend my time refining my homemaking skills, homeschooling (currently kindergarten and preschool), coordinating the finances for my local MOPS group, learning/researching natural and whole food living, learning how to live a more Christ focused life and teach our children this same lifestyle and working part time from home for a small law firm in Oklahoma (my place of previous on-site employment).

I hope you have learned a little more about my family and my focus.  I'd love it if you'd stay for a while and explore a little around Bloggin' Mama!


I can be reached at homemakingjoyfully(at)gmail(dot)com and would love to hear from you!

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Baking day summary

Whew, what a crazy two days! If you weren't able to participate in Baking Day, maybe you can join in another time. You can keep up with the info. by follow Money Saving Mom and Life As Mom.

Here's what my kitchen looked like at one point today:
That's me rolling out cinnamon roll dough, with my Spalding Handbook open (on the high chair tray) for vocabulary/spelling words that I'm dictating to Jacob who's writing them in his workbook. How's that for multitasking?

On Tuesday, I only planned a small amount of cooking due to prior commitments. Even, so I got all but one item on my list complete and that was simply because I ran out of steam this afternoon.

Here's what I completed (and I'm way too lazy at this point to go pull it all out to photograph it):
3 bags of browned and seasoned taco meat
8 beef and bean burritos (these work well for quick fix lunches)
2.5 pans of chicken enchiladas (we've already eaten the small pan)
2 meals of Ziti
2 meals of spaghetti
2 meals of chicken tortilla soup
2 loaves of pumpkin bread
2 loaves of zucchini bread (one loaf has already been eaten!)
2 pans cinnamon rolls
4 pints of salsa (with my homegrown tomatoes and neighbors homegrown habaneros)
2 premade pumpkin pancake mixes (just the dry ingredients)
1 batch pumpkin scones (to take to MOPS tomorrow morning)

That comes out to 13 meals and lots of breakfasts and goodies. On the days I'll be using one of these premade meals all I'll have to do is prepare a side and throw the main course in the oven to heat through!

Be sure to head on over to Money Saving Mom's link-up to see some of the other participants and what they were able to accomplish.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Baking day, day 1 update

At the start of today, my list looked daunting. But, I have to say that even as busy as my day was without the baking/cooking added in, I managed to pull off more than I thought I could.
3lb. ground beef seasoned with taco seasoning for freezer
3lb. regular ground beef for meals on this list
Pancake mix x2
Beef/bean burritos

Pumpkin bread
Zucchini bread
Chicken enchiladas x2 - 1 to eat on Tuesday and 1 to freeze

Cinnamon rolls
Honey pumpkin muffins x2
Salsa (using the last of my homegrown tomatoes)
Chicken tortilla soup x2
Pumpkin scones (for MOPS on Thursday morning)

I think day 2 definitely looks doable now. I know that I'm starting with cinnamon rolls because while they're rising I can work on other things. Beyond that, I'll just play it by ear based on the kiddos and what items I can work on. By the end of tomorrow I hope to have everything on the list complete.

Here's what today's work looks like (minus one pan of enchiladas that we devoured for dinner).

Monday, November 2, 2009

Baking/freezer-cooking day

If you follow the blogs or twitter feeds of Money Saving Mom or Life As Mom you've probably already read about their planned baking/cook-ahead days scheduled for tomorrow and Wednesday. If not, here's the scoop (straight from Money Saving Mom's post):
"As I mentioned on Saturday, FishMama from LifeAsMom and I are planning to host a Freezer Cooking Day on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. We'll be live-blogging our progress and sharing tips and recipes along the way on both of our blogs. If you'd like to join in the fun, you can sign up at the Facebook Event page here, follow along on twitter with the #bakingday hashtag, or just check our blogs for updates, pictures, and more!"
I've replied to the event and I'm planning on participating. Michael will be deploying in about 6 weeks and getting in the habit of planning further ahead than I normally do (2 weeks is all I usually plan out) will be very beneficial to me while he's gone. Especially on "those" days when things just don't go as planned and dinner as planned just isn't happening - I'll have something quick and effortless to just throw in the oven or reheat on the stove!

I do believe my plan for this time might be a bit ambitious because I already had some prior commitments on Tuesday. And Michael is TDY right now so I'm not sure how things will work with me not having a relief-parent after dinner!!

Prep work:
Clean kitchen and ALL dishes (to be done Monday night and Tuesday night) - DONE
Thaw pumpkin, chicken and ground beef - DONE
Shred zucchini - DONE
Dice 3 onions - DONE
Find a pumpkin scone recipe
Grate cheese - DONE
Make pumpkin pie spice mix - DONE
I even went ahead and labeled some of my freezer bags!!

3lb. ground beef seasoned with taco seasoning for freezer
3lb. regular ground beef for meals on this list
Pancake mix x2
Beef/bean burritos
Pumpkin bread
Zucchini bread
Chicken enchiladas x2 - 1 to eat on Tuesday and 1 to freeze
Cinnamon rolls
Honey pumpkin muffins x2
Salsa (using the last of my homegrown tomatoes)
Chicken tortilla soup x2
Pumpkin scones (for MOPS on Thursday morning)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - 11/2

Michael is TDY at a training course this week and next, so while he's out "playing war", sleeping in a tent and probably eating MRE's I'm keeping it pretty kid-friendly around here.

Baked fish, steamed veggies and brown rice
~Thaw pumpkin

BAKING DAY, day #1 (There will be a separate post about my accomplishments (or lack thereof) at the end of the day on Wednesday) - However, I doubt much baking/cooking ahead will be happening for me on Tuesday b/c of prior commitments.
Chicken enchiladas

BAKING DAY, day #2 Hoping to accomplish TONS since I have no need to leave the house.
Spaghetti, corn, bread w/butter or rolls

Grilled cheese, fresh fruit

Pizza night

Meatloaf, roasted potatoes, bread or rolls, fresh fruit

French toast, fruit smoothies

Be sure to head on over to Menu Plan Monday for a look at 300+ menu plans for the week!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - 10/12

Well, this is how we're starting our week here in Colorado. It has snowed/iced off and on since Friday evening. This is what my grass looked like after we returned from church this morning. If Michael hadn't been here, there is NO WAY I would have braved the icy roads with the kids by myself to get to church, it was quite slick.

We had about 3 weeks of actual fall-ish weather and now we've skipped straight on to winter. Boo :-(

Here's what I'm planning for our meals this week:

Breakfasts will consist of cold cereal, oatmeal with honey/maple syrup and fruit and pancakes.

Lunches: Michael typically eats the leftovers from dinner the night before and the kids and I have quick fixes like, pasta, baked chicken nuggets, fresh fruit, veggie trays, cheese and crackers, sandwich wraps and any straggling left overs.

Monday - Crockpot chili, topped with cheese and crackers, and a side of fresh fruit
Tuesday - Meatloaf, oven roasted potatoes, green beans and bread with butter
Wednesday - Baked lemon pepper fish, steamed veggies, fresh fruit and rolls
Thursday - Philly cheesesteak sandwiches and fruit smoothies
Friday - Pizza night
Saturday - Baked chicken, steamed veggies, rice and rolls.
Sunday - The kids eat whatever I can scrounge up and Michael and I have a special take out dinner later in the evening.

Other goodies on the list for the week include apple crisp, gingerbread muffins and honey pumpkin muffins which will serve as our snacks and desserts through the week.

Monday, October 5, 2009

I think I just might turn into a pumpkin...

Do you remember this post and my gigantic pumpkins? Well, today was the day I tackled some of the preserving.

We had a regular size pumpkin from a pumpkin patch we visited and our 2 ginormous pumpkins. I chose to take care of the two smaller ones today (and we've since decided to sell the 76lb-er on Craigslist). I started this process just after lunch today and just now (at 9pm) closed up shop and I'm not even finished yet.

The average size pumpkin was definitely nothing special, but this guy was a bit challenging to cut into, even with my very best knife.

Here's the first batch in the oven baking.

Here are the other two batches waiting.

Today yielded me 15 pints of puree for the freezer and I still have about 4-6 more pints that are baked, peeled and chopped and ready to be pureed but I didn't have any more standing up left in me today (since I've been standing for the better part of the last 8 hours).

I also have enough pumpkin seeds to be roasted to last us a long while. They've been washed and I'll roast them tomorrow.
Updated 10/11
In other preserving news, here's what I have done and still have on the to-do list:
* Apple butter - done (2 pints and 8 half-pints)
* Apple pie filling - decided to just make a few batches of apple crisp instead
* Tomato/pasta sauce - (1.5 pints done and still have lots of tomatoes ripening, will probably have enough to make a few pints by the end of next week) DONE
* Jalapenos - done (half pint)
* Tomatoes; dehydrated - (have dehydrated a few pounds and will probably do the same with the stragglers that are the last to ripen once I've canned all that I can)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Cinnamon sugar shaker (say that 5 times fast!)

It's Kitchen Tip Tuesday time and I haven't participated in quite a while but I have a good one for you this week!

Here it is:
It's my cinnamon sugar shaker (a repurposed sea salt shaker). I keep it premixed so that it's readily available whenever I'm making cinnamon rolls, french toast, cinnamon toast, oatmeal, etc. Then there's no extra work involved in sprinkling it right on.

I use Rapadura/Sucanat/evaporated cane juice (whatever you want to call it, it's all the same stuff) and ground cinnamon. Our personal taste is approximately 3/4 sugar and 1/4 cinnamon. I like a LOT of cinnamon! Sometimes I mix it stronger than that. Just use a funnel and pour in your cinnamon and sugar, leaving about 1/2 inch at top. Replace shaker top and cap and then shake and roll it around until you have it mixed evenly.

Now it's ready for whenever you need a cinnamon sugar mixture!