Monthly Archives: November 2011

Time to be Real

This has been one of those weeks! You know, those kind. The ones where you throw everything to the wind and just go forward one step at a time. We’ve hardly eaten any dinners I had planned on my menu for this week, my kids have watched too much TV, I’ve bought fast food one too many times, and I have laundry and unfinished projects scattered around me. Not exactly what I had planned. I would have rather said, “We ate from home for every meal, I stayed caught up on all my chores, we never turned the TV on, we’ve been homeschooling every day with extra Thanksgiving projects thrown in, and I rescued a stray dog!” Yeah, nope. But, that’s life and I’m ok with it.

I didn’t do anything for Kitchen Tuesday today either, but mainly because we ventured out for a playdate this morning. And the kids had fun so it was worth it 🙂 All I have done is pull out the homemade pizza dough from the freezer (yay for freezing food for later!) and mixed up a jar of iced fruit water. I cut up an apple, a pear, and some lemon and threw it together in hopes that my kids will be excited about a ‘new’ kind of water. They drink water really well already, but there are times when they start asking for juice so I’m hoping this will help! I found the idea on pinterest, of course.

Check this blog out for cool flavored iced water ideas, http://nancycreative.wordpress.com/2010/06/25/feast-your-eyes-on-flavored-water/.

And to stay updated, here is the progress on the chicken coop!

Hubby has been working so hard for me!! Hopefully it will only take another day of work before its finished, minus the painting. That will be MY part.

And here is the new project I acquired in the last week.

Its a TRUNK! And I scored it at my thrift shop for $10! I’m hoping to get it sanded before the end of the weekend and then get some paint and new hardware for the front.

So, even with things not going as planned, they’re still going. And I have faces like this to look at everyday. *sigh*

And now I’m off to tackle the laundry that’s staring me down.

 

Kitchen Tuesday!

We almost didn’t have a Kitchen Tuesday here, folks. Caleb dropped a hammer on his toe this morning while the 2 month old was holding a huge cryfest. And both thought the end of the world had come…..and I’m pretty sure I did, too.

But, thankfully, things simmered down some so I was able to get a few things done in the kitchen.

First up, I made pizza dough! I found a recipe for it over at http://frugalandsimple.com/2011/01/04/pizza-crust/ and hubby really likes it! Yes, it is white flour. The man still likes his white flour sometimes and who am I to refuse him? 🙂

I froze the dough so that when we are ready for pizza night, its already there! It freezes well.

Next, I grated some cheese…

Sounds exciting, right?! But, I bought some in bulk at Costco and instead of buying the shredded kind which is usually coated in cellulose or potato starch, I figured I’d shred it myself and keep it in a baggie. It took me only a few minutes to do this.

Note to self:   Buy a new grater. Soon.

I’ve heard good things about this one from IKEA…and its only $5.

While I made the boys lunch, I took a few minutes to tidy up the pantry and throw out some old items that I wasn’t using. We are not totally crunchy here yet (baby steps folks) hence the chips and Nutella and such…..Mmmmmm…Nutella. I’v recently discovered (thanks to Pinterest) that it makes THE BEST hot chocolate and you can also mix a cup of plain yogurt with about 1/2 cup of Nutella for some yummy fruit dip!

I was suckered into that red bag of caramel popcorn by the Boy Scout that came to the door.

And looking at this now, I need to throw out that microwave popcorn since I put our microwave in the garage about 2 weeks ago! We’ve been living fine without it, and I now have more counter space!

Next shelves…That last one is mainly pitchers, utensils and such.

The last thing I did was to make some bread crumbs. I made 2 loaves of homemade bread a few days ago and it tasted awful! Waaaaay too yeasty tasting. It was like eating solid beer. Blech! I have no idea what happened to it, so if you do, please fill me in.

I didn’t want to waste the bread so into the food processor it went! I made one bag of regular crumbs and threw some Italian seasoning in another bag for some seasoned crumbs.

I put both bags in the freezer. And that was that!

Now just be glad I didn’t show you the sinks full of dishes I was trying to avoid while getting something done for my Kitchen Tuesday. It wasn’t pretty.

Building the Coop, Day One!

Today is the day! We actually started building the coop and I’m really excited folks! Chickens are coming SOOOOOOON!

I am taking pics as we go along in case others are looking for some help with chicken coops, and so we can go back later and see how we built it. I know I personally spent days looking at others’ coops online so one more can only help, right? This was our very first one and hubby said to mention that he is not an experienced carpenter (but I LOVE what he’s done and don’t really think it needs mentioning, lol).

We can only have 2 hens here in Garland so we are building the coop to be about 48″ x 36″ and fencing off a large run area since we probably won’t let them roam around the whole backyard too much. (I thought about it but the poop factor all over our patio and such scares me.) We plan to put the 2 nesting areas in the back with a divider in between since I read that they like to lay their eggs in privacy, and then have some space in front of the boxes with a roosting perch above. You don’t want the perch above the nesting boxes or you’ll be cleaning a whole lotta poop of of your eggs. Then we’ll attach a door of sorts to the backside so that I can reach in and get the eggs. The flooring is mesh wire and we’ll pile some pine shavings on top of it. This will let the air circulate through, but also keep them warm.

Without further ado, here are the progress pics!

First off, you don’t need a big yard to accommodate chickens. Here is a view of our yard from the back door. (Don’t mind the toys, we live here.)

And here is the other side where the chicken coop and run will be!

Side note: We acquired some pallets to help supply some wood, and while that is the case and its working, pallets can be extremely hard to take apart and the wood splits really easily.

The fencing is 48″ x 50′. I’m hoping its tall enough but I’m considering having the hens’ wings trimmed just in case they try flying over.

Cutest little ‘helpers’ ever.

This is about as far as my hard working hubby got today but stay tuned! I’ll keep posting the progress. 🙂

Thinking Early About Gardening

I start planning things WAY in advance, you guys. So even though I won’t start planting my garden for a while, I’ve already been thinking about how I want to do it. I was hoping to start composting before we plant, but since we haven’t made much progress on the chickens or compost area yet (don’t worry, we will!), it probably won’t be ready to use for a while.

But check this out!!!!

Every year I start asking “When do I need to plant those seeds? How long does it take for those to grow?”, but no more! A genius woman over at http://www.yougrowgirl.com/ posted an Excel spreadsheet for the lazy gardener! All you have to do is click the picture, insert your last frost date and it calculates it all for you! I should send the creator some chocolate for this.

I already have mine saved and ready!This next year I plan to plant tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, carrots, and maybe garlic. I don’t want to plant too much because I want to work on how to store them once they’re harvested and not let them go to waste, as in the past.

Here’s what the garden looks like now…empty except for one little bell pepper plant in the front that I’m not sure why its still there, lol.

And now for some garden eye candy! Does anyone know if I’m supposed to site these if I find them on pinterest? Not sure of all of the ‘blog rules’ yet. lol

Isn't this awesome?! I may try this...

So pretty!

So, how does your garden grow? Or if you don’t have one yet, how do you want it to grow?

Not-So Kitchen Tuesday

I mentioned in an earlier post that I’m trying to designate some time on Tuesdays to cooking and stocking up on items that I plan to make from scratch often – things like bread, yogurt, granola, etc.

Today was not like that.

After school time and picking up, I really wanted to do some research and pricing things for bulk ordering. I am going through flour, honey, oats and other things like crazy and I know there’s a better way to buy it, but I haven’t figured out what will work best for me yet. So this is what I did instead of cooking…

I spent some time looking through Azure Standard’s catalog and scrolling through Vitacost online.

I’ve heard good things about Azure Standard

and they seem to have good pricing for organic produce, but I’m still a newbie and not sure what I would do with 20lbs of organic apples and other produce items! We do eat a lot of apples but man, I’d be making lots of applesauce I think with 20lbs worth. And you need a $50 minimum order unless you want some added handling fees. So, how do you handle so much produce? Any tips? Would dividing with someone else be the best way? And would my portion last a whole month?

I did a little looking at Vitacost

but other than spices and vitamins, I haven’t found many deals yet. But, I didn’t get to look very long so I plan to do more searching. Their prices on flour and apple cider vinegar seem to be comparable to Sprouts.

The next step is to do some online searching for some local food coops that I might not know about. I know of one lady who buys from the downtown Farmer’s Market and then sells bags of produce for $6 I think, from her home on Wednesdays, but I’ve yet to call her and I don’t know if its organic produce.

So today was a sorta not really maybe a little Kitchen Tuesday. Anyone wanna come make bread for me?  :o)

A Day in the Life

My friend Randa, over at http://homeschoolroundup.com/, asked if I wanted to participate in her ‘Day in the Life’ segment of her webpage and I finally got around to writing it up! I figured I’d share it here also.

Ages of children: 2 boys, ages 5 and 3

Number of Years Homeschooling: 2 years of homeschooling

Curriculum:  Just this year I’ve started implementing more of a Charlotte Mason style of learning, but I tweak to what fits us, so there’s a little eclectic in there as well. I use Handwriting Without Tears for writing and phonics, Miquon Math, Story of the World for some history, Signing Time for sign language (just started this!), and we also do nature notebooks, picture study, some phonics flash cards and things here and there, and LOTS of outside play time.

My oldest is 5 and ‘technically’ for a Charlotte Mason style of learning, you shouldn’t be doing much sit down work until they’re 6 years old. Ethan surprised me at 3-4 years old wanting to write and asking lots of questions so I started preschool with him then using Heart of Dakota, an excellent Bible-based, all-in-one curriculum. He LOVED it! After we finished that, I had found out and read the Charlotte Mason style of learning but I knew I wanted to keep going with some of his skills instead of stopping and waiting until he was 6, so since then we’ve been doing a very relaxed schedule of schooling.

Our day starts at 7am with breakfast unless my little blessings decide to wake earlier while Mommy is still trying to drink her coffee and figure out what day it is. While they eat I do a quick Bible study with them out of the Bible or another book that emphasizes the stories and scriptures. We have gone through “God’s Wisdom for Little Boys” and also “A Little Boy After God’s Own Heart” by Jim and Elizabeth George and they have been great for helping with scripture memory and character building!

After this, they go do their “BBs”, as I call them- brush their teeth and make their beds. If I am gung-ho and ready at this point then we will sit at the dining table to do some HWT or phonics and Miquon Math. It takes no more than 30 minutes for sit down work. I try to alternate days of handwriting and phonics and do math each time. The schedule I made looks something like this:

Mondays-Bible Story, HWT, Miquon, Nature Walk, outside play

Tuesdays- Scripture Memory, Phonics, Miquon, Read Aloud History, Outside Play

Wednesdays – Bible Story, Signing Time, park/library/field trip day

Thursdays- Scripture Memory, HWT, Miquon, Read Aloud Poem, Outside Play

Fridays- Bible Story, Phonics, Artwork Appreciation, Handicraft Focus, and Outside Play

Please know that I do not follow this schedule to a ‘T’ yet as my kids are still little, I have an 8 week old, and I have ‘issues’ with sticking to schedules and enjoy flying by the seat of my pants. You all can just pray for me with that one.  But it does look cool, doesn’t it?! lol

My youngest boy loves to ‘do school time’ too so I will sit him at the table with us to play with pattern blocks, magnets or other things that he doesn’t get to have full access to throughout the day. Sometimes this works and sometimes he is too distracting for my oldest so I’ll tell him to play on the floor with his beloved trains or something else.

I am definitely still learning the ropes and since my boys are young I put life skills and character building first so things don’t always, or even mostly, go as scheduled but I know that I would much rather foster a love for the Lord, family and learning than to just rigidly force the school work to get done. I have no doubts that my kids will learn what they need to in time. I am also very blessed to have a wonderful support group of moms around me who have been doing this longer than I have that I can go to with any questions.

My Biggest Challenges: doing ‘artsy’ crafts that require cutting and glue (I get frustrated easy with messes), and sticking to schedules!

My Other Love

I love my husband deeply. And my kids. But, I have to confess….

I really love thrift shopping. Really.

I can’t stand paying full price for stuff. I check craigslist, freecycle, and hit the local thrift stores and garage sales often. Its a wonderful way to save money, especially living on one income! And no, thrift shopping does not mean that we all have cruddy clothes and that our house looks like someone’s attic. You can still have nice looking things and save money!!

I took the babe with me tonight and headed out to my AMAZING thrift store. (Yes, I call it mine. It’s that good.) I was originally going to look for containers for my kitchen, dish towels, and white dishes but ended up with some other really cool things!

I’ve been thinking about switching over to cloth napkins. It would save me a little money since  I wouldn’t need the paper ones, and they look nicer. I’m thinking a couple sets for everyday use and a nicer set for company. Well, I scored a 6 pack tonight for $2!

They’re a pretty bright yellow, but I am also planning to switch over to white dishes since I can make anything – tablecloth, napkins, holiday stuff, match white,  so I think these would be great for spring or summer.

I also found a small Christmas wreath for my door for $2…

A couple of dresses for the itty bitty one, about $2 each….

That red one will be great for Christmas pics!

Some Christmas ribbon for present decorating for $.99…..

This cool wooden heart decoration for $3. I’m thinking of hanging it out by the front door and I may spray paint it and put some flowers on it….

And this chalkboard wall hanging for $5! I plan to use this for scripture verses and other school things.

And I already hung it by our dining table where we do our school.  I love it!

A lot of things in my home are second hand, at least.  Here are a couple other things I snagged a picture of while I had the camera out:

The picture on my mantle came from the thrift store and cost me $4…

And some of my bedroom decorations….

The white shelves were from a garage sale, the picture frames were clearance at Target, and the vases came from a thrift store.

So, what about you? Do you share my love for thrifting? 🙂