Monday, June 30, 2014

Isaac is home!

Isaac is home from SMA training.  He had a wonderful week!  It is so good to have him home and hear about the things that he learned and the friends that he made while he was gone.

Before Isaac was born, I prayed for him.  I prayed that he would put his trust in the Lord Jesus as his Savior and Lord.  I prayed that he would love the Lord and serve Him all of his days.

When Isaac made the choice to serve the Lord this summer by teaching 5-Day Clubs, that was an answer to those prayers of the last fifteen years.

Thank you, Father, for allowing me to see my son serving you.  Please give him a heart for You for the rest of his life.  Amen.

Friday, June 27, 2014

My Garden is Planted

Finally!  My garden is all planted!  I'm so late this year.  Now we just need a good rain to get everything going well.  Or else I need to water everything.

Here is a list of what I planted:
salsify (new to me, I've never even tasted it!)
red cabbage
regular cabbage
potatoes (not very many)
winter squash
and a whole package of Bountiful Gardens Seeds for Kids.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

How shall I dispose of my clothes?

We are blessed with friends who give us their children's clothes when they outgrow them.  I appreciate this so much as I hardly ever have to buy clothes for my daughters, but sometimes there are just too many!  What to do with the excess?  For a while, I hung it on an extra clothes rod in the basement, but there really are only so many extra clothes that one needs to store.  

I've discovered that a couple in town collect used clothing and fabric and pack it up to send to Eastern European countries.  They retired from their business, so now they use the warehouse as storage.  My son and I had the opportunity a few months ago to go help on one of their loading days.  Isaac got to be part of the assembly line passing the filled boxes from one person to the next right up into the truck.  They filled a semi truck with banana boxes full of clothes.  There wasn't room for anything else in that truck when they finished.  While Isaac helped load boxed on the truck, I helped pack more boxes.  The clothing was sorted and packed according to type and size; winter girls, summer boys, adult coats, shoes....and on and on.  They have schools that can use fabric to teach sewing classes, so many boxes are filled with fabric or sheets or lace or whatever.  

It is so nice to be able to take extra clothes that we have and box them up to donate and know that they are going somewhere that they are truly needed and appreciated!  It is easier to give things away knowing that they are being used to help others.  When I think of the people who need things and I think of the excess that I am blessed with, it is so humbling! 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Check out the produce list

Every summer, I try to keep track of what I harvest from my yard and garden.  Usually I stop when the produce starts pouring in, but I've started a page on my blog that I update every day or two.  Hopefully, I can be consistent with it even when I'm bring in bucketfuls of tomatoes and zucchini.  It will be fun to see how much produce I actually get from the garden.  Be sure to check on it occasionally and see how my yard is doing!

Friday, June 20, 2014


As our children grow, we seek to do many things in their lives.  One is to help them sink their roots deeply into the love of Christ and our family; another is to give them wings to fly away.  My son flew away this morning.  Not really, but he took a first fledgling swoop out into the great beyond.

He actually will be at training for the next nine days at SMA.  He is training to teach 5-Day Clubs with CEF.  I'm so proud of him.  He has chosen to spend his summer ministering to children and telling them about the love of Jesus.

I'm also kind of sad.  After all, he is my first-born.  He has been my friend for 14 years.  And he is gone for a week and a half.  Last night was a little bit hard.  He came in and said, "Mom, I'm kinda nervous."  I said, "Yeah, that's normal." and we talked for a while.  I was afraid we'd let the roots grow too deep and clipped the wings in the process.  But this morning, he was ready to leave.

And now he is gone.  He will be back in nine days, but he will be gone teaching for most of the summer.  People have told me that I will have so much fun and I should be sure to enjoy this time with the girls while he is gone.  We will enjoy our girl time, to be sure.  But what I'm realizing is that my baby boy has grown up to become a good friend.  I miss him.  But I'm so happy for him to be spending this summer this way.  What a fine young man he is becoming.

Anyway, enough sentiment!  If you were wondering why I haven't blogged lately, the answer is that the last several days have been pretty busy getting him ready to go.  So I'm back again, but not for long.  My daughters are having a tea party, and if you'll excuse, I believe I'll go have a cup of tea.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Old Friends

We had a sweet visit today with old friends, friends of my grandparents from a long time ago.  My grandfather was a missionary with Child Evangelism Fellowship, and he talked his friend into also becoming a CEF missionary.  He went to Finland 50 years ago and up to last year was still traveling the rivers of Russian Siberia to tell village children the good news of salvation through Christ.  He is 88 years old.

Today, we got to enjoy two meals with this special couple and listen to him speak at our church.  Words can't adequately explain how we love visits from this dear godly man.  Our children each consider him a special friend.  He prays for us often.  He writes us letters and sends a package at Christmas.  But to see him and hug him and laugh with him around my dining table--priceless!  And having his wife come along on this trip was extra nice as she hasn't been here for a visit in 12 years.

He doesn't think he'll be traveling this way again.  It is getting to be too hard to travel.  He said he would see us at the great feast in Heaven.  I asked him to save me a seat near him.  I'm sure looking forward to the visiting we'll get to do when we get there!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Young Eagle Flights

Today at the little local airport they were giving Young Eagle Flights.  Have you heard of these?  I think they do them nationwide and if you have children, you should find out when they are offered.  Local small plane personal pilots take children ages 7 to 17 for a 10 minute airplane ride for free!  When I say small planes, I mean they hold one to three people besides the pilot.  They are small privately owned planes, and these pilots do a great job giving the children a wonderful ride.  My oldest three children got to go for a ride, and they were so excited!  My kids saw our house, our church, a couple of lakes, the hospital where daddy works, and lots of trees!  They didn't all recognize each of these geographical markers, but they all had a wonderful time!

Making memories doesn't have to cost a lot of money, and this was a great memory that the children will be talking about for weeks to come.

On the decluttering front: I went through my closet yesterday and eliminated six paper grocery bags full of clothes.  They all fit me, but I just didn't need them all.  I chose mostly plain tops and a mixture of plain and printed skirts that I could make many different combinations with.  I did keep a couple tops that only go with one skirt, but it is one of my most comfortable and lovely skirts.  My closet feels so much cleaner and is easier to find what I want.  I still have all my favorite clothes.  Because I had been considering doing this for quite a while, I had a good idea of what type clothes I wanted to keep and what I was willing to part with, so it took me about 1/2 an hour to go through all of my clothes and get rid of that many items.  That was a pretty rewarding return for a small time investment.

And now that I have gotten started in my bedroom, I'm looking forward to keeping on going.  For some reason, our bedroom is the hardest room for me to declutter.  I think it is because I use it to organize schoolwork, go through paperwork and finances, read books, and hide clutter when visitors come, so EVERYTHING collects there.  I know that shouldn't be the case, but it is nonetheless.  My husband is no less guilty of collecting bedroom clutter than I am, so our room gets full quickly.  Hopefully, I can keep going now that I have some momentum started.

Once A Month Cooking

I am done cooking!  I am not done cleaning, and you don't want to see my kitchen right now, but I am done cooking.  I did the rest of my food prep yesterday, so today I assembled the meals.  I made two or three meals each of Apple Bacon Breakfast Cake, Paleo Slow Cooker Breakfast Casserole, Apple Chicken Nuggets, Blueberry Chicken Salad, Cheesy Broccoli Cups, Chicken PotPie Soup, Ground Beef Fried Rice, Kale and Meatball Soup, Sweet Potato Spinach Burgers, Coconut Green Chili Chicken Soup, Paleo Pulled Pork, and Apricot Glazed Pan Seared Chicken.  I have all the ingredients for Cod with Tomatoes and Capers and Blueberry Cheesecake Smoothies, but I decided they were simple enough to throw together on cooking day.

Time to go clean my kitchen!  Talk to you all later!

Update:  I wrote this at about 8:30 last night.  By midnight, my dishes were washed and spread to dry on towels on my counters and table, all the food was in the freezer or refrigerator, and I was ready for bed.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Once a Month Grocery Shopping--How much did I spend?

I have the last frozen meal that I prepared last month in my crockpot right now.  That means it is time to shop and cook and freeze meals for another month.

Since I need the van all week to bring my daughters and their friends to VBS, I am bringing my husband to work every morning.  He starts work shortly after 6:00am this week.  This means I got to go grocery shopping at 6:30 this morning!  Have you ever gone grocery shopping at that time of the morning?  It's great!  You are almost the only person in the store.  The dairy guy, the butcher, the produce man--they are all out there arranging their shelves, stocking things, and best of all, able to answer questions and tell you about the great deals they have that day!

So I did my Once a Month Shopping today, so that over the next three days or so, I can do my Once A Month Cooking.  I used to do this very faithfully, but then I quit when we started eating healthier.  Last month, I found the Once A Month Meals website.  What a great tool!  Amazing!  A member can choose from traditional, whole foods, paleo, diet, vegetarian and other menus with a new menu each month.  Previous months menus are available to choose as well.  With a premium membership, you can swap recipes if there is one your family won't enjoy or that your allergies prohibit you from making.  At $16 a month for a premium membership, I shuddered at first, but I had a free month membership.  Once I tried it, I loved it.  The time saved in planning is worth that money to me right now.  See, once you have your menu planned, you can enter the number of servings you want and print out a shopping list, recipe cards, prep work, cooking day tasks, and a thaw sheet so you know what to do with your meals when you take them out of the freezer.  I print all of these up and put them in a three-ring binder, so after I've done this for a few months, I'll have a nice collection of menus to choose from.

Back to today's shopping.  I went to two stores this morning.  At my main store, I spent $219.37.  I saved $75.64 by shopping the sales and using coupons that I found as I shopped.  (I am not a big couponer, but I use them when I find them next to the item I am using)  At the next store, I spent $23.47.  That is a total of $242.84.  I have things like flour, salt, and such at home, because I buy them in bulk from a co-op.  With what I spent, I will have everything I need for a month of meals.  I don't anticipate going shopping again for a month.  We'll see how that goes!  I did put down that I wanted 8 servings instead of six when I printed my menu, because last month, the meals were just right for a meal.  For many people that would be perfect, but I'm a leftovers kind of gal.  I missed having leftovers to send to work with my hubby and use for the kids and I at home for lunch.  So I increased the servings that I needed for this month to see if I will have enough leftovers.

Monday, June 9, 2014

A day to relax

We had a very busy weekend with a pastoral candidate visiting our church.  One or more members of our family went to 11 different events at our church over the last four days.  Wow!  That makes me tired just writing it.  It was really fun and wasn't too overwhelming in actuality.  We knew the schedule for the weekend in advance and planned to not be able to do anything at home for the weekend.  Going in knowing that made it easier.

Another thing that helped a lot was that I wrote a detailed list for myself of what I had to do each day before and during the visit, and I stuck with that pretty carefully.  Because of that, I found myself very calm and able to relax and enjoy the time.  Which got me to thinking.  Why don't I plan my own time as carefully when I'm "just" working at home with housework and homeschooling?  I've tried, but I don't keep at it very long.  Why not?  I don't have an answer to that yet, but I'm working on it.  I think it might be because I think it will slow my creativity and "cramp" my style.  Maybe?  Or maybe I'm just too lazy to keep with it?  In any case, I'm going to try to do it again and see if I can stick with it.  I'll type up a schedule for the week today.

For the most part, today is going to be a day to relax and catch up from the busy weekend.  It is good to plan some time to relax; then you don't have to feel guilty about not accomplishing very much during that time.  My girls are going to go to a friend's church for VBS this week, and they are excited about it.  Other than our church, this VBS is one they go to almost every year.  

Friday, June 6, 2014

Garden Fresh Greens

I went out to my garden early this morning and picked fresh sorrel today.  Winter has been so long!  It was a healing experience just being able to go out to the garden and pick something to eat.  I lightly sauteed these leaves and ate them for breakfast.

Sorrel isn't my favorite veggie, but anything from the garden tastes good this time of year.  Sorrel is sour and lemony, and sauteed with salt and pepper, it is pretty good.  It is high in oxalic acid, so you don't want to eat too much of it at once.  Not usually a problem here, though my daughters really like to go eat it out of the garden so I have to keep an eye on that.  The chickens also like to eat it.  My garden borders the chicken pen, and they keep the sorrel they can reach through the fence well picked.  I threw a couple of handfuls over the fence to them this morning when I picked mine for breakfast.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Birthday Party

My oldest daughter turned 11 toward the end of May.  My next daughter will turn 9 in the middle of June.  My grandmother will turn 94 in the middle of June (don't tell her I told).  We had a group party last Monday.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  Here are several thousand worth.

We had the party in the backyard of the assisted living home that my grandmother resides in.  It was a beautiful sunny day when we started.  Our first activity was to draw outlines of the girls on the patio; then the girls colored themselves in.  This picture was taken after the rain made a short surprise visit to the party.

We played a game with a hula hoop where the players stood in a circle and held hands.  A hula hoop was put around one person's arm.  Then the hula had to passed around the circle without anyone letting go of hands.  We put short people between taller people to up the difficulty and the laughter.

For dessert, we enjoyed dirt cake.  I made a gluten-free chocolate cake and chocolate avocado pudding and combined them for the cake.  I put it into a new washed sand bucket from the dollar store and stuck some pretty fake black-eyes susans into it.  Then I served it with the shovel that came with the bucket.  Once I convinced everyone it was actually edible, it was a huge success!
The birthday girls

Donkeys live next door to the assisted living home.  They came over to check out the party!

Isaac gave all the girls Touchable Bubbles for gifts.  They were a big hit!

More Touchable Bubbles


I bought plants for the garden.  20 tomato plants and 7 herb plants.  The tomato plants are 11 different varieties of heirloom plants.  I was surprised and pleased to find so much variety at my local greenhouse.  I got Tiny Tim, Black Cherry, Orange Strawberry, Garden Delight, Yellow Pear, Brandywine, Black Krim, Jubilee, Bloody Butcher, Sausage, and Maremmeno.  I paid $1.00 per plant.  That's a lot more than it would have cost to start them from seed, but it was a pretty good deal for such nice plants.  The herbs were a little more expensive, but we'll use all the basil and parsley we can grow.  I tried a pineapple sage this year too, just for the fun of it.  It smelled so good as I brushed my hand over it.  If it grows, I'll have to look up some recipes and figure out what to do with it.

Now I have to get them into the garden.  I have, unfortunately, a lot of weeds growing in my garden right now.  Little, teeny-tiny weeds.  The ones that grow about 2,000 per square foot.  My dad usually comes over and tills up the garden for me, but I've been reading about how that actually turns up the weed seeds and helps them grow, so I'm considering planting without tilling this year.  How to take care of the little weeds is a problem.  The big ones I'm going out to pull right now.

Favorite Quote of the Day

My 14 year old son came up to me yesterday and said, "Hey, Mom,  I think our chickens are the Albert Einsteins of the Houdini world!"  I love it!

In case you're wondering what he was talking about, our chickens have a special talent for escaping their pen.  Doesn't seem to matter what we do to stop them, they can find a way under, over, or through whatever we add to keep them in.

Here is a picture of them actually inside the fence.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


Confession is good for the soul.  Here goes.

I.  Am.  Buying.  Unneeded.  Stuff.  Mostly.  Food.

There it is in black and white.

Now that the confession is done, let me explain the reasons.  First, I have my husband's blessing.  Second, we have a pastoral candidate coming to our church this weekend.  We will be very busy.  I am helping with many meals.

I have things in my freezer and pantry I could use to cook from scratch, but I'm not going to.  I want to use my time elsewhere, so I'm buying food for the potluck, for the brunch, for the youth activity, and for the committee dinner.  I'm also buying food for us to eat at home while we're in between meetings.  And I bought food for a date night last night with my husband.

Speaking of date nights, day before yesterday, while I brought hubby to work, he suggested we have a date night last night as we have been so busy and haven't enjoyed being with one another much lately.  So we sent all the kiddos to their rooms early last night, enjoyed a quiet dinner for two, took a walk around the neighborhood (our oldest watched the others), and played a favorite board game.  It was an almost free night and it was so refreshing and relaxing to just enjoy one another's company without thinking about the work that needs to get done or the decisions to be made.

Pretty special idea my sweetheart had!