One Flourishing, Frugal and Fun Family!

One mother making ends meet and surviving today's recession by writing. One family learning to live off the land, cut back on expenses, and to live a simpler and a more self-sufficient lifestyle.

Adopted Motto

"Eat it up,
Wear it out,
Make it do,
Or go without."
~A Pioneer Sampler, by Barbara Greenwood~

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Burning the Mignight Oil


I'm using that title as a figure of speech.  I spend countless hours taking care of everyone else, that it's frustrating sometimes just to find one hour to write.  Then when I get my hot little hands on the key board or a pen in my hand, I simply freeze up.

I had to laugh at my son yesterday.  I told him that he reminds me of myself.  For Christmas he received a large drawing pad, and a table top easel.  For two days his drawing pad has sat on the easel, and has been moved from place to place.  However, he has not thought of what he wants to draw or paint.  I laughed because I completely understand the feeling.  My computer or paper and I can sit for days with nothing concrete.  When I saw his easel moving from place to place, I was inspired to not cave into procrastination.  To simply pick up and write, even if I have to put headphones on and blast out the kids chatter.

Well see if my son picks up his art pencils today.  I know I will be writing, even if it means turning off my phone for a few hours.  

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sunny Tueday Happenings

I cannot admit to using time wisely today, but I can say I took time for myself.  It is not a New Year's Resolution, just a matter of getting back my routine.  There's nothing more satisfying than me and my speed bag.  It releases all of my tensions and suddenly whoever or whatever that has been hanging over me like a black cloud is whisked away.

Just ask my kids.  They see my composure after a good workout.  Even though the heavy bag and speed bag are in the cold garage, I can still work up a sweat.  It is so worth it.  The kids laugh at me, but they see how I benefit from it and they encourage me to keep at it.

With all of the tension released, and spending time for myself, I can think more clearly and use my writing time more seriously.  Even if it's writing on this blog, a specific journal or writing out the day's to-do list.  Once I have a clear mind, and start writing something, anything, it all starts to come together.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Wrist Warmers ~ Otherwise known as Fingerless Mittens

Before the winter school break started, I caved and gave the girls their crocheted wrist warmers.  It was pretty (and still is) cold in this old country house.  The younger two wore theirs to school almost everyday.  After a few days, of the girls wearing them to school, my 10 year-old daughter came home to tell me she had an order.  Her friend wanted, not just one pair, but two!!  Then she precedes to tell me she is selling them for $5.00 a pair.  Ha ha ha ha ha! 

"And just who is making these for you?" I asked.

"You are Mom."

You could have heard my long drawn out sigh when this was going on.  However, last night I had time to sit and relax, and watch a movie with the older kids.  During that time I did crochet her friend a pair, but I'm charging for the second pair (ha ha ha ha).  Kids!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Two of my children are lucky to be alive ....

I have not had the time to blog because two of my children were in an accident.  There was not another vehicle.  I was an icy, curvy, country road and a telephone pole.  My son was okay, but his sister went to a second hospital for surgery.  Her jaw was broken in 3 places.  Here is the van.  My daughter's seat belt failed, and both air bags did not deploy.   My daughter's jaw hit the dash and her forehead his the windshield, cracking it.  Thankfully, she does not have spinal injury nor a head injury.  She is recovering pretty well considering.

The second photo is taken from the inside of the van.  It's where my daughter's chin cracked the dash and where her head cracked the windshield.







Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Dinner Time Talk ~ or Should I Say Dance?

Right after dinner the kids turned on the radio for some light talk.  Soon we were all doing the wave at the table, with our bellies full no less.  Of course my husband was not home yet.  He he he!  That's when my 15 year-old daughter announced that her friend wanted to come live with us for a week because we were so much fun.  She proceeded to tell me that she showed her friend a video of them chasing me around the backyard with a frog or toad!  I cannot stand those ugly boogers.  I couldn't believe she showed her friend that video!  Oh, and for the record, there was no frog! 

With my mouth open wide and my eyeballs about to pop, another daughter (10 years old) spoke up.

"Yeah, my friend says that our family is better than cable!" she exclaims.

I suddenly wondered if I should be happy to hear all of this.   Everyone thinks we are boat loads of fun.  And all of their friends want to meet their Uncle.  Oh the stories I could blog!  So much fun!  Hearing this sure made all the bad stuff seem not so bad anymore.

I love my kids and my crazy brother who still wants to have a wheelchair race in the Cleveland Clinic's tunnel!  We may just have to do it yet!  As long as frogs are not involved.

Christmas Classroom Parties ~ It's a Tradition to Make a Treat and Ornament

I volunteered to bring the candy treat for my 2nd grader's class.  It took a while to figure out what I would make.  I have made a lot over the years and did not really want to do the same things I have done in the past.  So far, I have about 17 snowman treat containers started.  Enlisting the help from the other kids has helped.  However, we do have to have them done by next week.  Eeeeek! 

Every child has been blessed with a hand crafted ornament for each of their classmates.  I've done this for all of the kids, and many times for each one.  Each Christmas I make, and hand wrap, a handmade ornament and make a creative treat container filled with goodies.  It's been a tradition of mine and now I only have one child in elementary.   I sure hope they like it.

I've been busy with a family member's health situation, and have been gone a lot.  I'm running out of time to get ready for Christmas.   The pets have even missed me.  I came home to find that one dog had stolen one of my slippers, and we still cannot find it.  He usually gives it back the same day.  He must be really mad at me.  I guess I have some schmoozing to do. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Last Paper for English Class

I'm a currently putting the final touches on the last writing assignment for my college English class.  In doing so, I realized it's been 21 years since I took my the prerequisite for this class. I am striving for an even higher grade than the one I received on the previous assignment.

I have also found a very inspirational book at the library, in regards to writing fiction.  It was printed back in the 90's, but it was just what I needed to focus on daily writing.  If you get a chance to visit your library, look for the book titled,  The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them, written by Jack M. Bickham (© 1992).  My library does not have this book, however I was able to inter loan it from one (and only one) area library.



Sunday, November 29, 2009

Crocheted Dish Scrubbie ~ Christmas 2009

This is my current project for additional Christmas presents.  I am thrilled with the pattern I found in 

Monday, November 23, 2009

Christmas Gift Projects ~ Wrist Warmers


I found a super simple pattern on the Internet for these cute wrist warmers.  They are actually called fingerless mittens on the pattern.  I plan to make more sets with the yarn left over from making slippers.  If I can locate the exact link to the pattern, I will add it to this post.  I think I will make longer ones for the older girls. 

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Finding Muse

I had to laugh when I found out a little tidbit regarding my 15 year-old daughter.  We were all sitting in the kitchen talking about pencils.  We all have our favorite brand of mechanical pencils.  The weird thing was that all of the kids were at the table drawing in their "Doodle" journals.  They each took a spiral notebook and their choice of markers or colored pencils.  Each of them were doodling random drawings for fun.  It was kind of cute to see them all chatting nicely and doodling about nothing in particular.

I found these nice and thick spiral notebooks on clearance for $.50 each.  The covers are pretty neat too.  When I mentioned that it looked like a lot of fun, my 13 year-old daughter went to the storage area and gave me one too. 

"Here Mom you can do one too" she said to me.

Then we started talking about pencils when I asked whose packet of mechanical pencils were on the table. I mentioned my favorite brand, and the one that used to be their favorite too.  It's the Paper Mate Clearpoint Click pencil.  My 13 year-old daughter said she can get through a school year with just two of those pencils and refill leads.  My 15 year-old, who loved them for years, surprised me.

"I don't like those anymore.  I like the other kind and I like to use a different colored pencil every day," she said.

That's when I laughed.  I thought I was weird when I wrote, but hearing her really made me laugh.  I don't think either one of us would feel normal without a pen or pencil in our hands.  So in order to find her muse, she uses a different colored mechanical pencil every day. 

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sluggish Brain

I have discovered on my own, that not exercising truly affects my ability to write creatively.  I'm not able to push "worries" from my head, and concentrate on work.  So, in an effort to think better, I'm back on the treadmill.  The kids have been after me, and now I am after them to exercise.  Last night I had to laugh.

They invited me to do the Boxing VHS tape with them.  I backed out, knowing full well I need to work up to that sort of strain.  Funny thing is, they couldn't do it either.  I looked over at them, and the video was going through the warm-up, and they were just standing there.  I have to say it was pretty funny.  The last time I attempted to do that work-out I just about knocked myself out.  After they work up to 4 moves I just lose track of the sequence. 

The weather is rainy, cold, and dreary today.  Another reason to get off my rear and get motivated. 

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Family Photo Albums Galore!

Now that I have spent about three hours working on my English paper, I think I deserve some fun.  The sun is shining and the weather is very nice today.   I'm not sure what I will be doing yet, but I do know what the kids are doing.

The kids are putting photos into the many photo albums we have.  I took my scan disk in to Wal-mart and ordered 500 photos (some were doubles).  However, this time the employee really messed them up.  They were all completely out of order.  This is making it more difficult. 

I now have only around 600 photos on the scan disk and have the albums caught up to January of 2009 and it's almost a year later.  Sheesh!  I really need to get better at developing photos.  If my scan disk only held 28, I would be forced to develop them more quickly.  But nooooo, it can hold over 1000 photos. 

We have the main family photo album, one for each child (where duplicates go), one for gardens, one for scenery photos, one for crafts, one for food and one for renovations (before and after).  The kids love looking at their own albums, so it's all worth it.  I started each album with photos from when I was pregnant with them to the current date.  When they graduate, it becomes a gift to them to keep, along with a hope chest.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Flocks of Birds and Lots of Droppings

I managed to hang 2 loads of laundry out yesterday.  As I typed away on my synthesis draft, I totally forgot about the laundry.  I remember seeing a huge flock of birds in the front apple tree, but didn't think twice of it.  By evening the birds had landed their droppings on every single thing on the line.  Ugh!

The birds might as well have landed droppings on my paper too.  It totally bombed the first time the writing center reviewed it for me.  I was totally off track in logical flow.  I frantically deleted, added, moved stuff around, and sent it off again.  I'm still waiting for the review.  I'm trying to be patient.

But that's what writers need - composure in handling criticism.  We need it to become better writers.  If we were perfect the first time, every time, then everyone would want to write for a living.  Maybe they already do and have no idea how many drafts it may take to get it right.

"Don't worry Mom.  Some day you'll have your book published" said my 17 year-old son as I typed away last night. 

I was so flabbergasted at trying to make logical order out of my mess, that I typed right through dinner.  At one point I had to grab my shuffle and plug my ears with it.  Blasting out the house full of kids in order to keep my thoughts from unraveling.

We'll see what happens today. 

Monday, November 9, 2009

Kids, Writing and Reading

"Mom how do you spell rock?  I'm having a brain fart" said my 7 year-old daughter.

It is amazing to see the kids drag out their journals when they see me writing.  It is also wonderful to see them read when they see me reading.  Just the other day the same child read her kids' Bible when she saw me doing my Bible study homework. 

I'll get quized also, so I have to pay attention even if I'm doing my own homework.

"Mom what did I just read in the second part?" she'll ask.

If I get caught not answering her right, she will read it again out loud.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Weekend Horse Craze and a Halloween Pudding Cup Theft

I opened my e-mail yesterday morning to find a major alert sent by my 15 yo daughter.  I had to laugh because it described her completely!  If you had to sit and watch the Breeder's Cup all weekend, I did too.  At first it was like torture.  I had retreated to the couch to read my English assignment, but was mystified by my daughter.

There she sat, watching the television intently.  It wasn't just that either.  She was prepared with a clipboard, that held the schedule of events she had printed off of her computer.  With a pen in hand and a snack, she watched and cheered and asked us to bet on a horse.  Her's of course was Zenyatta. 

On Friday I picked the horse who had a name that started with Rose.  She would have won had the other rider not knocked the whip from the jockey's hand (at least that's what I think happened).  That got me started.  I was hooked until Saturday.  Then, I tried to get to work on my homework and writing.

I then retreated to my room to work there on Saturday, but could hear screaming coming from the living room.  And of course the only filly running against the boys won.  The one and only horse she was cheering for - Zenyatta.

Even after the race was over, I caught her re-watching the race on YouTube.  I had to laugh.  Here is a copy of what she sent me in the e-mail:


Mom, I am sending you this message because I think I need to get checked by a doctor. This is a very serious illness and can be highly contagious. Several people have picked up the virus already and I believe that, by some means, I was born with this disease and I am afraid to inform you that there is NO cure. Sadly, there is nothing you can do but support me and help me through the long-term affects that this will have on my body and mind. I hope that you will still love me no matter what.



Love,

********




This is a public service announcement.
Urgent Notice: Potential Danger of Horse Hair

In a press release today, the National Institute of Health has announced the discovery of a potentially dangerous substance in the hair of horses. This substance, called "amobacter equuii" has been linked with the following symptoms in females:
* Reluctance to cook, clean or do housework.
* Reluctance to wear make-up, good clothes or heels.
* Reluctance to spend money on home or car repairs until after "baby has new shoes,pad, blanket, tack, grain, hay & supplements".
"Amobacter equuii" usually results in long hours away from home and exhaustion which may lead to a loss of physical contact with other humans (especially husbands).
"Amobacter equuii" is thought to be addictive, driving the need for additional sources - this may lead to a "herd mentality" or like the potato chip commercial, "you can't have just one". (Especially potent if infected from miniature equines)

Beware! If you come in contact with a female human infected by this substance, be prepared to talk about horses for hours.

Surgeon General's Warning: Horses are expensive, addictive, and may impair the ability to use common sense.


Pretty funny I'd say!

As for the hijacking on my Halloween treat container, well here's the photo with the thief!

If you want to see the cup before the attack visit my article I wrote on how to make them on eHow.  The little booger took it off of my night stand, emptied the contents and was caught running through the house with it hanging from his mouth.  It is now his personal toy.

Last night I was sound asleep when I heard a bang, bang, bang from where the dresser sits.  I jumped from the bed to catch this terrorizing thief with a 10 inch styrofoam Christmas tree in his mouth.  Our youngest had painted it years ago and decorated with pom poms and sequins.  And here this thief was trying to take off with it.  I'm going to have to sleep with one eye open now (ha ha ha!).  

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Funny and Weird Dogs

My 15 year-old daughter caught me talking to her dog yesterday.  There she (the dog) was, sitting proudly behind another rock she had brought in.  And there I was saying (with my index finger going up and down), "Seriously, are we going to have to take you to a doggy counselor?" 

We have the strangest dogs, but love them dearly for their uniqueness.  One has an obsession with rocks.  Instead of playing fetch like our smallest dog, she'd rather be digging up rocks and carrying them around in her mouth.  On any other day she'll be obsessed with chasing her shadows.  If anyone reaches for a flash light, she is ready to chase - for hours.

Then there is the laundry issue.  It's not really an issue, just a cute story.  I hang laundry on the line just about every day here.  I've always taken the dogs out while I hang the laundry on the line, and bring them back in when I come in.  Considering it takes a few loads to get them all on the line, we go out often.  They play, run around and fetch rocks and sticks. 

Now, if I so much as pick up a laundry basket, they all stand at attention ready for me to make my move.  Just to see if they really were smart enough to know that I was going outside, I walked to the utility room, did not turn on the light, and slowly and gently opened the washer.  Immediately, the dogs were staring at me through the doorway with tails wagging.  I can't even say the word "laundry" without them barreling me over to race to the door. 

They are all funny for sure.  They may make it into one of my books yet.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Could Facebook Face Social Networking Competition?

I just found out that there is another social networking site called Orkut.  Have you heard about this networking?  It sounds very similar to Facebook.  I'm wondering how long it will be before there are more on the Internet.  It's interesting to know that so many people rely on the Internet to keep in touch with each other, and how much time is used on the Internet.  People today have, as I believe it, more free time than every before.

I'm wondering what writers prefer to use, and does having a social network help with finding freelance writing.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Joy of the Holidays

My 7 year old showed me a different side of her yesterday morning. She came bouncing down the stairs to get ready for school singing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer! Just as happy as could be and smiling at 7:30am.

I'm pretty sure she gets that holiday spirit from me (tee hee).

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Apple Pie, 10 Stitches, and Good Food

Here is the photo of the homemade apple pie I baked. I have always made Dutch Apple Pie, but this was delicious! The recipe came from AllRecipes on-line. Here is the link: Apple Pie by Grandma Ople. I added cinnamon to the apples before I put them in the crust, just as another person had recommended. Of course we topped it with vanilla ice cream. My son said, "oh we have to take a picture of that!"

I haven't posted since we baked the pie. I had a little accident with my head and flying firewood. It was plain stupidity on my part and I got myself too close to the wood pile, while unloading a truck load of wood. Ladies, if you are unloading wood, be sure to be more careful tan I was. Luckily, it did not knock me out too long (just a second or two). After my brother kept insisting I get it looked at, I went to the hospital.

The doctor on duty convinced me that staples worked better than stitches, so I caved. "Fine, give me the staples, but can you please not shave too much of my hair?" I begged. I have to say the shot to numb it first didn't hurt anywhere near as bad as the thunk to the head. After a few staples, the doctor starts telling me, "uh, there's another cut and I think we are going to have to do stitches anyway." So out the staples went, and in went the stitches - 10 to be exact.

As I was laying on the gurney getting worked on and having friendly conversation I realized I was wearing my neon green socks. The photo doesn't do justice. If I had better lighting you'd see how awful they looked under those bright hospital lights (ugh!). To top it off, I was wearing a yellow shirt. I put the socks on because I was not going anywhere for the day (nothing matches with them). Or so I thought.

I guess the joke was on me! I had to figure that if the doctor saw them sticking out from my jeans, he was thinking "this woman is a case for sure."

My head hurts, but my arm hurts worse from the Tetanus shot I had to get. The kids keep asking me questions to make sure my brain is functioning correctly. This morning, I took the time to cut and chop and mix, to put beef stew into the crock pot. Just a few minutes ago I looked at it and wondered why it wasn't cooking. Once again, I failed to plug it in. Luckily it's early so it has time to cook, and luckily this is nothing abnormal. It's just another crazy day in the home.

The chickens are getting carrot peelings for a treat today. I read that they like peelings but not whole carrots. It's a great way to keep them fed organically and make good use of the scraps.

I have to say, that even though I was supposed to be resting, I made dinner the night of the accident. It came from The Cardiac Recovery Cookbook (how appropriate) and was Summer Vegetable Spaghetti. Now if you froze your garden tomatoes at the end of the season, this is the perfect recipe to add them too (and yellow squash. zucchini and green beans).

Summer Vegetable Spaghetti

I used a 15 oz. can of no-salt added tomato paste, double the vegetables, and did not add the extra salt. I also let the mixture simmer longer until the vegetables were softened. It was delicious. I also added parsley that I had dried from my herb garden and doubled the garlic. I made it as natural and low in sodium as possible. The Parmesan cheese adds enough salt to the dish.

Which brings me to my next synthesis paper for my English class. I'm working on a claim that is somehow related to the fact low cost foods, which many people are buying, are very high in sodium, and the dangers sodium has on the body. I'll have to figure it out and narrow it down.

One last note. Last night, my dear husband came home from work and handed me a pair of safety glasses and said, "Your hard helmet is on order." I had to laugh, but there was a serious tone to his voice about staying clear of accidents while I was healing (and to use safety measures more often). He got bonus points from me because the safety glasses were pink ribbon glasses. I'm sure I'll be wearing both on the next wood splitting day.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fall Trees


I think I may write outdoors today. The trees are turning nice colors, and the weather is actually pretty nice. The tree in the photo above, is actually red today. I took this photo a few days ago. Maybe I'll take my camera and do a little walking too. School seems to be going along well and I only have a book review to write today.

I'm planning on getting work finished early so I can watch an hour of FoodNetwork. I haven't watched it in a long time.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Christmas Gift Ideas - Bead Projects

I found this wonderful link to many free bead projects. All of the instructions include a skill level and there are many ideas for Christmas gifts you can make yourself.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Relief

The kids are very excited it is Friday today! The weather has taken and turn and it is raining and colder today, but the could care less about that. I can remember when I was in High School. I loved Friday's. I couldn't wait for the day to end so I could go out with friends. Now that we live in the country, it's more about just being able to do "nothing."

They still find it fun to see me struggle with my English class, but that's okay. Whey they are all grown up and have children of their own, they will see it differently. However, deep down inside, I think they are all cheering for me to get my book written, get a job related to writing or just want me to succeed in life.

They are already talking about our game of Apples to Apples we play on Sunday.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

One dog, a rabbit and a kitten


It's not the best picture, but this shows how well they all get along. They were all in motion and I was trying to quickly take the picture, but forget to switch the setting on the camera.

Monday, October 19, 2009

One Rabbit and a Kitten ~ Milo and Tiger


You can tell by the amount of hair on the chair, that Tiger sleeps here all day long. The kids put the chair near the wood burning stove and he loves the warmth. We have weird animals. Who would have thought a rabbit and a kitten could get along? I'll have to post a photo of one of the dogs, the rabbit and a kitten who were all playing together on the kitchen floor.

Crackly Pear Cake ~ Writing updates


Today I am baking the Crackly Pear Cake from the Idea Book/Cookbook/Life Book. I am baking it with fresh chicken eggs, and putting the egg shells in the garden for next year's garden. I even wore my apron, even though it' not hand sewn by me (yet).

I had extra pears from our visit to a local orchard, so I thought why not? The family would love a sweet snack when they get home. The chickens have given us 5 eggs today. That's great! The sun is shining they are are out pecking.

While the cake is baking I will get some writing done and work on my short synthesis paper that is due soon. I think I have a journal for just about everything now. I even have a journal for my garden and flower beds. My kids think I am weird. Now if I can just find my hand held tape recorder, I'll be set for the winter. I still need to choose another restaurant to review for the college newspaper. Or maybe a book this time.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Stocking up for winter - Susan G. Komen for the Cure Journal

Winter is on the way and we are stocking up on fire wood. I am also taking inventory on working flashlights and batteries. And it doing so, I found that energizer has printable coupons on their Web site and if you are a supporter of Breast Cancer Research, you'll like the free journal you can mail in for. You just have to send 3 UPC's and the dated receipts.

For the link go to: Energizer Promotions (there is a separate icon for the coupons and one for the printable order form for the Susan G. Komen for the cure journal). Why not get a freebie and save money on something you need? There are expiration dates on the coupon and on the free journal, so be sure to order it soon. Last year they gave away really nice back pack bags.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Pumpkin Walnut Bread Made in the Crock-Pot!

I have never baked a dessert in the crock-pot, so today was the day to try it. I found several recipes on-line, but this one sparked my interest more. It used less eggs and look pretty good.

Pumpkin Walnut Bread - Crock-Pot Recipe

This was delicious! By placing the paper towel in under the lid the bread was very moist! It did not stick to the crock-pot either. I didn't have non-stick spray so I put a light coat of olive oil in the crock-pot.

If you like pumpkin and easy desserts, you have to try this. Next time I will split the flour 1/2 and 1/2 with whole wheat and use applesauce in place of oil. YUM! It passed our test.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Freeze Dried Clothes

Winter is approaching and the cool air is nippy from the wind. I, however, am still putting my clothes on the clothesline to dry. It made a huge difference on the electric bill here. Even though it's cold out, the wind is drying them nicely. I'll have to remember next time to wear gloves to keep my fingers from freezing.

I used my special wire egg basket to retrieve the chicken eggs yesterday. The kids laugh at me because I looked like someone from Little House on the Prairie. Yesterday I had braided ponytails too. It will give them something to talk about with their own kids someday.

The kittens are often found sleeping on the fireproof rug in front of the wood stove. At first they were curious about it, but now they are discovered it's very warm in front of it.

Hopefully, after next week, the girls and I will start our first project with Farmgirl Sisterhood. I can't wait to get started. In a way, we already have.

While at the library, I found a delicious and easy recipe for Black Bean and Avocado Chicken Wraps. I'll have to double check on the name of the magazine, but they will be added to our recipe box. And of course, we substituted baked dry beans for canned beans. There no better way to cook.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Family Games and Fall Food

My 15 year-old daughter won yesterday when we played our family Apples to Apples game. It's seems to be our new winter tradition for Sunday afternoons and evenings. The weather is cooler out and it's nice to sit in front of the wood burning stove to play. The game cards are a bit out of date considering Michael Jackson has passed away. It would be nice for this company to actually sell new card sets every so often, and offer more that are family friendly for kids under 12. Although it's geared toward kids 12 and up, we still play the game together.

We are roasting pumpkin seeds for a snack tonight and I can't wait to eat some. We haven't roasted pumpkin seeds in a few years. It was nice to grow all of our own pumpkins this year and not have to buy them at the store or market.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Christmas Joys ~ Splitting Wood Day

We are already getting excited about the upcoming holidays! Last year we could not find enough blue lights to wrap around our large evergreen tree. Hopefully this year we will. Blue seems to be people's favorite, or maybe the stores are not stocking that color as much. The kids are already asking to put up the artificial tree, but I am standing my ground on that one - no trees until after Thanksgiving. We put the tree up too early one year and it didn't have good results. We actually have 2 trees. I found one at Goodwill for $4.00 during the off season and it's a good size tree.

This year I would like us to visit a tree farm and cut a fresh tree. I'd like to support locally owned businesses and we can mulch our tree after the holidays. I haven't had a "real" tree in a long time. Actually, I have never purchased a real tree since I moved out of my parents and was out on my own. Every year we looked forward to the fragrant evergreen smell coming from our fresh cut tree.

With 2 six month old kittens in the house this holiday, it could be very interesting. I can remember when the kids were very young. I'd have to put my artificial tree into a play pen to keep them out of it. It worked great.

Today, as a family, we are splitting wood in preparation for the up coming cold winter. So far we have not turned on any heat or used the wood stove. It's cold here today too.

We are singing Christmas songs and drawing and writing about the holidays. I am so excited we are planning a traditional holiday, with as much of it as homemade as possible, and keeping the focus on the real meaning.

Jump and sing today! Enjoy your family today!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Afternoon Dancing

"Honey you didn't throw a hip out did you?" asked my husband.

With my beat red face, and harbored breathing I plopped onto the bed to recuperate.

The kids and I have certain times of the day, usually after everyone is home from school, where we turn up the music and just dance like wild people in the kitchen.

I think I am still suffering from hip swinging yet this morning. Have you turned up your music and danced today?

I'm surprised the police didn't show up yesterday, when my 15 year old and I were dancing in our porch chairs during "tea time" (our time of the day to rejuvenate) with headphones plugged in our ears. The farmers across the road probably thought we were on drugs, as we bobbed our heads up and down for all to see.

My lifetime motto is "Dare to be Different".

The kids are encouraging the family to write

For quite some time now, the kids have put our dry erase board to a good use. At the beginning of school we used it a lot for reminder notes, but now it's the board that encourages writing and thinking.

The kids have started writing a question down on the board and everyone writes an answer. Today's question is "What is your favorite food for lunch?" It's fun to see what the new question is, or what every one's answers are. For the youngest one, it's help with spelling too.

Yesterday of the kids drew a Christmas Tree, so I drew ornaments to it (ha ha ha). It's just been a lot fun because they have to think more on what to ask now. We answered so many questions it's getting harder for them to come up with a fun question.

I never knew we would get so much use out of simple dry erase board. I guess I better stock up on dry erase markers (ha ha ha).

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Random Tidbits


Yesterday I was telling one of the girls how peaceful it was to watch a farmer harvest his field. One side of her mouth curved up, and one eyebrow pulled upward. Her mouth fell open and she just thought I was weird. She thought I had lost my marbles.

Watching a farmer sitting in his combine seat, harvesting across a large field, with no other person, house, or vehicle in site, truly is peaceful to watch. It's a way of life that is slowly diminishing.

Speaking of simple country life, I found a wonderful magazine at the local library. It's called Cook's Country. Here's an online link to the Web site to: http://www.cookscountry.com/?extcode=K00YAAN00

Along with Clean Cooking and several others, it has some very good recipes.

The family is getting surprised tonight with a baked cereal snack, and homemade Hot Cranberry Punch. The chickens blessed us with 5 eggs today!

Bless your family, spouse, friend or neighbor today.

Packing Kids' School Lunches

"Mom will you please, please write me a note and sneak me a piece of candy again?"

That came from my 7 year-old. What started as an apology to her, ended up a tradition this year. I took it a bit further and included all the kids, including my 12th grader (tee hee). The way I see it, I only have this school year to embarrass him. He recently got "snacked" and came home with a smirk on his face. He enjoyed it whether he said so or not (tee hee).

So, I better get to the store and stock up on small snacks and note paper (he he he).

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Living my Life ~ Facebook Follies

I have to admit, that many times, I have felt I was not living my life for me. However, since I have put limitations on how much time I spend on the computer, I feel I am giving myself time to live my life. And for me. I'm not speaking selfishly, but in the spirit of caring for myself.

I'm one of the very few people that do not have a facebook account. People can be whoever they want to be when they chat on-line. Whether in a form, chat room, or facebook, there is too much of a window for too many to see your personal life. Sure I have a blog, but do we really need to be on facebook daily? With people who most likely never visit you outside of the virtual realm?

I started my blog to force myself to write everyday. Simply for my own pleasure, in my quest to sharpen my writing skills and to write a book. I began to share family traditions, recipes, crafts and eventually a blog for recycled art projects. Those basic ideas to were good and are still good.

Facebook reminds me of poison. Once you try it, your hooked. If you fail to check it daily, you feel upset. Emotions are stirred when people are rude and emotions stir when someone refuses to be "your friend". It has become one of the top social networks on the Internet today. But do we really need to be so connected that we can't even connect with our husband's and children? You may have gotten today's "news" on facebook, but do you know what your child did in school today? Do you know what your husband did at work today? Interesting thoughts huh?

This is a tough subject, because I have family members with facebook accounts. For whatever reason, they are all different. For old classmates it could be to brag or boast about their career. If I did have a facebook account, it would read "Stay-at-Home Mom" and rich! I'm rich in heart, love, and to the best of my ability, remain rich with Christ in our lives.

As for me, there will not be facebook follies. I'll check my mailbox for letters and answer my phone for calls, and let those who really want to keep in touch, keep in touch the old-fashioned way.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

More crocheted dishcloths finished

(Size 9 x 9 inch, above)



(Size 10 x 10 inch, above)



(Size 8 x 8 inch, above)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Kittens, College and Chickens

That is sure a strange combination to write about today - kittens, college, and chickens. Despite our efforts to find homes for the last two kittens, we could not. They have already adapted to the barn life, and one has already learned to hunt mice. Although they are given fresh food and water twice a day, they still have the instinct to hunt. We have plenty of field mice too. They remain friendly and are often held. We'll have to start working on warm winter beds for them.

I survived writing the group's paper last Friday. We received a 90% grade on it, however not with much help. Apparently, group projects are still required in some classes and many of the students simply don't participate. Why? I have have no idea. Could it be that they aren't the ones paying for their tuition and they could care less if their grade is reduced? Either way, it was tough for me, considering I haven't been to college in years. I was thrilled to see the grade though. Although, I did miss my writer's group meeting due to working on the final touches before handing the paper in.

I'm so happy we started raising chickens for eggs. We were blessed with another double yolk the other day. Each child has learned how to care for them, so it makes it easy when work needs completed. The chickens are getting a bit brave and wandering a bit further each day. We have acres full of grasshoppers that they fight over. They are not caged during the day, and have free roaming access throughout the yard. I do have to be careful in case "foxy loxy" returns to our "farm".

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Learning from College English Class

I have been telling my kids that my college English class is not worth my time, but I am wrong. Even though it doesn't have to do with my fiction writing, I have learned to debate a bit better. I noticed many mistakes I made on a recent debate and have submitted it for corrections. I'll post it again later here.

I have to give my Instructor credit. I have learned, and I am sure I will continue to learn, to improve my writing in some way or another.

Homes for Kittens

We found homes for 3 of the kittens now, including this orange and white tiger kitten. Aren't they cute?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Freezing Green Onion Today


I used to freeze my green onion in ziploc bags and it was always we and mushy when I took it out. However, this time I am letting it air dry on a cookie sheet and dabbing dry with a towel. It dries great and then I'm freezing in containers instead. I have a lot to freeze. We use it a lot.

More Crochet Projects Finished


I'm making these washcloths about 11 x 11 inches. I'm still making other color varieties, as well as white. The pink would make nice gifts for breast cancer survivors, and the red would make nice gifts to women with heart conditions.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Kittens

Here is a photo of one of the five kittens we still have. I can't believe no one is calling to take one. It's been 2 weeks since we put posters out and an ad in the paper. Isn't he cute?

Wind damage to one of the barns

We are having very strong winds today. This is what the wind did to one of the barns today.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Gum Cocktails Update


This was a Strawberry-rhubarb Pie recipe! For details you have get Rachael Ray's October Magazine. I have to say this wad of gum is way too much for my mouth - but we had fun making them.

From my son, "It feels like I put the whole pack of gum in my mouth."

Clearing the Clutter and Clearing the Mind

It really is true that clearing out clutter can reduce anxiety and calm your nerves. I packed up over 100 books yesterday and donated them to Goodwill Industries. They are mostly very large used library books we had used for homeschooling and school use. Either way, we went through them together and decided on which ones needed new homes. We came up with 117 books.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Gum Cocktails ~ The latest thing

You'll find these recipes in Rachael Ray's magazine, October 2009, on page 26. We are not able to get every single gum they use in these "gum cocktails", but tonight we are going to make some and create some. I have to add, that ours are not all sugar free (gulp).

Farmgirl Sisterhood ~ This sounds like so much fun!

I think I have convinced my 15 year old daughter to help me start a chapter with Farmgirl Sisterhood. There aren't any chapters within an hour drive from us. She would be a farmerette in training. This looks like so much fun, and we have done some of the subjects under the merit badges already. We don't have cows, horses, or goats (yet), but we could still start and work our way through it.

My son's photo assignments for 12th grade

After going through some of the photos my son took for a school assignment, I found this one. He has taken some very nice scenery photos. Isn't it peaceful? I love the ripple in the creek too.

Road Runner and a Double Yolk


We were truly blessed yesterday with a double yolk egg from one of our chickens (Road Runner). I actually took a picture of it, but my son, in a hurry with a photo project for class, deleted it from the camera - Grrrr! I never knew raising chickens could be such a blessing to our home.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Saving Money ~ Stop buying wet mop pads

Make these instead: Biffer Shrug (pdf) I definitely have to make these! I will save so much money. There are more patterns on the Internet.

Naughty Kittens

Well, well, well. One of them dug up my dwarf lemon plant. Hmmmm? Which ever one it was, they climbed the kitchen counter some time this morning and dirt is everywhere. Both are sleeping soundly right now. I can't put mothballs in it, so I guess I need another roll of masking tape.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Freezing more garden vegetables


Wow! All of this was in the garden today! I couldn't believe it. I thought there wouldn't be anymore zucchini, but wow! I even had an eggplant! I just froze 2 quart bags of zucchini and 2 bags of tomatoes. I am even getting more tomatoes peeled for Lentil Soup for dinner. I'm adding fresh zucchini to it too. Then, I going to bake 2 large spaghetti squash and make hash browns and a Greek dish. What a blessing this is today! Oh, and the squash are from the garden too.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Chickens and more eggs!

I'm thrilled with raising chickens for eggs! We are now getting 4 eggs a day. Two more chickens have started laying eggs.

I was tickled to see our hummingbird again yesterday. He's brown bellied and has visited us often. Each time we've moved, we've been blessed with at least one hummingbird. And I don't feed it special food. I've attracted them with my flowers and that's it. He/she loves the flowers. It's better for the birds too.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Another beautiful sunrise today

We were blessed with another beautiful sunrise this Sunday. I'm so glad I took the time to watch it.

It's about time to check on the chickens and see if more are laying eggs. Yesterday I bought a metal basket for the kids to bring the eggs inside with. They laughed when I showed them the basket, and said we should call our house "The House on the Prairie". We may not be on the prairie, but it feels wonderful to be in the country.

Yesterday we had a stray dog visit us. Actually there were two, but one ran off. The one that stayed was limping and very friendly. He appeared to be neglected. His tag was a year old, which didn't even match the dog it was on. His nails were way too long, he was missing hair in spots, his eyes were glossy, and his teeth didn't look right. I'm sure whoever was out hunting just let them roam free. He took a nap in one of the bars, but left later. We tried putting him in a tie-out, but he just kept getting loose from it. He smelled horrible also. Poor dog. Why do people get pets and then just tie them outside and ignore them?

We still have the five kittens. We haven't found a home for any of them yet. We did however get the other barn cat spayed before she had even more kittens. They would be great mousers for someone too.

I was woken up this morning by Tiger pouncing on me. He brought his play mouse up to the bed and was darting around with it. Soon, Jasper was there too.

A few days ago, I had chenille stems sitting on the kitchen counter for a craft project. The next thing I knew, both kittens has stolen them and have been playing with them ever since. We also discovered they love drinking straws. We can't store them on a low shelf anymore. One look and we could see tiny teeth marks in the tops of them - ha ha ha!

Crocheted Slippers ~ Christmas Handmade 2009


Another crocheted pair of slippers for Christmas. This pair is for one of the girls that has a dog for a pet. I love the buttons!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Our first dozen chicken eggs

Here is the first full dozen of eggs two chickens are now laying. It feels pretty good to raise our own chickens, and save money on the eggs. Not only that, but we are eating healthier and together it blesses the family.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Kittens and Toilet Paper

CRASH!

I went to investigate the noise I just heard. It came from the bathroom, and sounded like the shower curtain rod hit the floor. Kittens!

There on the floor was the shower curtain and rod. Yep. It was both kittens. And sitting on the cabinet next to the wall mounted toilet paper rod, was Jasper with the end of the toilet paper in his mouth!

I don't know why he has an obsession with the toilet paper, but it's not a cheap one. He stole a roll last week and took it to the hallway to devour. Yuck.

Later I checked on the chickens and we now have two laying eggs. I'm pretty excited about that. It will surely save us money on the groceries.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Lunch Surprises

Today I am sneaking a snack size bag of Good & Plenty into a few of my kid's lunches. Unfortunately, I didn't get them into two of them, so tomorrow I will try again. With a short note (because they always hate Monday's), I included a small pack of candy. I hope it makes their day better.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Our First Home Grown Cabbage

We are enjoying our first home grown cabbage. For some reason, only a few grew, and late too. It's our first vegetable garden, so we are learning quite a bit. Tonight we are eating cabbage, mixed with potatoes, onions, and home grown zucchini, and green pepper. I threw in some grated carrots and flavorings. Topped it off with ground turkey sausage. Yum!

Despite the cool nights here, I still have a few eggplants growing, and a few zucchini yet.

The kids camped out last night and had a ball. I'm encouraging them to do it again, even though they have school tomorrow. Even though I am allowing it, they are saying "no way Mom". I think they have gotten into a no spoken rule zone or something. Who said it can't be done? I sure didn't. And why not? Life is too short to not enjoy it.

Today I found the most delicious hash brown recipe to make, using my spaghetti squash instead of potatoes. They are so good and good for us. I also read, and I'm not sure if it's true, that winter squash is high in pesticides. I will be buying organic when we run out of it in the garden.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Is it worth the time and effort to write articles on-line?

I just checked my earnings on one Web site I write articles for. The earnings have not changed since yesterday, and the day before that it was pennies. So is it really worth it? Writing 100 articles for a few pennies?

I just read a blog about choosing sites wisely. This is absolutely true. Articles on the Internet will not be there forever either. Spending more time writing a novel, while writing a few less time consuming on-line articles makes more sense.

So, in my quest to make "writing" a career and main source of income, I have promised myself to start the "book" I keep talking about but never do anything about. I just wrote an article on the debate of motherhood and time we have to write. Motherhood is a job in itself and mothers have a lot to write about.

Volunteering at the Humane Society


Last night was another night at the Humane Society. Sadly, "Monkey" (Willow) was still there. He's such a playful and loving cat too. We met many new ones, including Lolita, a gorgeous calico kitten with gray, tan and white. What beautiful colors! As I sat on the floor to invite felines to my lap, Owen plopped, and stood ground on not letting any other cat in my lap. There were some crazy cats too. You know, the kind that walk around with their ears back, tail twitching, just looking for something to move so he/she can dive in for an attack. Ha ha ha!

When we arrived home we put all of our clothes in the washing machine. However, even though we did that, and washed our hands good, our kittens must have still smelled the other cats on us. My 12 year old daughter went to bed, but was visited by Jasper. Lovingly, he slowly walked over her on her bed, but stopped and peed on her. We now know that we will have to shower to remove every last scent of cats and other animals.

And all the while, we were more worried about Mom's "devil cat" attacking us at her house. When we stopped to visit before driving home, we faced that fiercesome feline. Here is a glimpse of the "she devil" herself.
Sorry Mom, but I have to post this hilarious picture of your cat. Ha, ha, ha, ha!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Handmade Gift Ideas for Boys or Teenage Boys

In my search to find the right handmade gift idea for my nephews, I decided to post the links I find to many projects. Hopefully it will help others too.

Frugal Front Porch: Boys Denim Wallet

Family Fun: Crafty Lunch Sack (made with recycled jeans or other denim

Make a Hemp necklace

Make a Floppy disk pencil/pen holder

Tie-dyed t-shirts


Stamped t-shirts


Visit us soon as I locate more creative ideas! Get started early for the Holidays!

Latest crochet project for Christmas 2009


These are not the best pictures. I tried to take the photo, avoiding shadows. Today I was blessed with a lot of porch time - ALONE! The kids, prior to leaving me, were discussing what I would be doing all by myself. It doesn't happen very much at all. In fact, I can't remember the last time I had more than a 1/2 hour to myself.

This is the project I just completed. It's a purse for my niece. I hope she likes the colors and the button I used. It reminds me of the colors of India. It measures about 16 inches from the top of the handle to the bottom.

If I have more time later, I may crochet her a chapstick holder to put inside it. Now....if I could just think of something to crochet for my nephew? Maybe I can swindle my daughter to macrame a boys bracelet or necklace? Hmmm. I'll have to think more on that.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Sunset on September 5, 2009

Chickens


Here is our chicken named "Road Runner". She's not the biggest, but the fastest. She's also the first to start laying eggs. They are all locked up nice a tight to keep "Foxy Loxy" away. We also put all the kittens into a dog cage for the night. They are safe too.

Fox in the Field

Here is a photo my son took today. A fox was right in front of the house, walking through this plowed wheat field. He's not very big either. This is the first fox we have seen around here. It's dove hunting season here, so he/she must be out hunting too. This was very neat to see today.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

What to do with all of your spaghetti squash

I found this wonderful Web site with wonderful recipes using spaghetti squash. I can't wait to try some. Next year we will add more to the garden. YUM!

Healthy Recipes for Kids - Spaghetti Squash

Teaching Geography to Kids ~ Making it Fun!

I found the most interesting regarding teaching kids geography! It's called "The Everything Kids' Geography Book". I wish I had this book when I was a kid. The authors combined so many other areas of learning with learning geography. One of the kids may find a copy of it in under the Christmas tree this winter. If you can get a copy at your library, take a look at it. It really is a good teaching tool for kids, and the authors make it fun!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Enjoying our Garden Tomatoes

Our cherry tomatoes were pretty plump. They are the perfect size to top our heart healthy refried beans and low fat cheese burritos. We also topped these with Kale and fat-free sour cream. Yum!

Guess who did this?

"TIGER! Bad kitty! Argggghhhhhhh!"

Our First Chicken Egg!


We are proud to announce the arrival of our first chicken egg!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Reaction to Cutting Zucchini and Eggplant

Well, I'm not the only one, according to the Internet, to have a reaction after cutting up summer squash. My hands are burning, red, raw, peeling, and itching. In the last 2 days I've cut up zucchini, eggplant, spaghetti squash, turnips and beets. I'm betting it's the squash. I put Burt's Bee's hand cream 4 times last night. I'm just about out too. And I'm considering making zucchini brownies for everyone at dinner or after school.

Latest Handmade Christmas Gift Project

You can find the pattern at: Men's Easy Slippers

Although, with all the big feet in this house, I will have to make the ankle part of the slipper wider. They are nice, however, for handmade Christmas presents, or gifts for men.

Sunrise

Monday, August 31, 2009

Freezing Turnips

I'll be pulling all of the remaining turnips, blanching and freezing them tonight. If the good Lord blesses us, we'll have more zucchini to blanch and freeze also. Maybe even beets.

I am making the eggplant/zucchini casserole tonight, but instead of whole wheat spaghetti noodles, I am using baked spaghetti squash. The kids don't like the squash that much, so it's a good way to sneak it in. I hope it tastes good.

I cannot wait to grow this bountiful garden again, and of course with God's blessing.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Spaghetti Squash, Zucchini, Eggplant and Tomatoes

I'm on the search again for new recipes. I have beets roasting to go with our Spinach/yogurt/tomato pizzas. With the cooler weather suddenly arriving, I am a little sad to the zucchini slow in growth. I really enjoyed being able to just walk outside and pick something to make dinner with.

I may substitute the spaghetti noodles in the eggplant/zucchini bake, with the spaghetti squash. Not sure yet. I found a few that looked good too.

I can't wait to can tomato sauce. I use it so much during the summer with vegetables. I'm even using my green onion to top the pizzas for tonight. We went through all of my dried Thyme and Oregano, so I had to cut more to dry. I also cut Rosemary to flavor the beets that are roasting.

I brought a sprig of thyme into the house and potted it. I have never grown my herbs inside, other than rosemary, which I usually kill before spring. I'm heading out tomorrow to cut some oregano to grow inside also. I have grown basil inside since spring, and I am really enjoying not having to buy it. The cats don't bother due to the taste.

Now all we need here are peach trees. I would love to bake with fruit too. The pear and apple trees are young, so it will be a few more years for them. I think we will plant a blackberry bush and strawberries for sure.