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Monday, October 11, 2010

Ack! It's Been Over a Month since I blogged!!

I can't believe it!  Well, yes I can.  We started school for the year and got in several weeks.  Hosting a crafting weekend at our church, then attended a scrapbooking retreat.  Grandma took us to Branson for 3 days, then we were home for a week before visiting friends in Wyoming.  Now we are back, staying home and getting lots of school done, not to mention getting into the routine of all of our activities: 4H, choir, confirmation class.

Between the crafting weekend and my retreat I got a lot of pages scrapbooked:  29 pages and 46 at the retreat!  Just this morning, I got them all arranged in their respective books along with the others I had put together and hadn't filed in their binders.  I am happy to report that I put 45 pages (give or take) in each of the kids' albums.  YEAH!  Basically I have Christmas pictures left to put in their books and 2008 is HISTORY (at least in the kids' albums).  I am one happy camper.

I have lots of pictures to post from Branson and from Wyoming, but that will have to wait because I have church council in a couple hours and choir tomorrow afternoon.  Keep checking back.  I promise I will post some pictures soon.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Reiman Gardens

Took our second visit to Reiman Gardens for a field trip last week.  Absolutely beautiful grounds on the Iowa State University Campus.  Love the Butterfly House too.

Daniel and Tom on the covered bridge.
I seriously want one of these at my house!  I mean look at that arbor!!!

Getting Something Crossed of the To Do List

We are on our second week school and it was hard to get going again after the long weekend.  We attended the Lifelight Music Festival on Sunday evening and drove home very late after it ended.   Totally worth the sleep we lost!  After sleeping in (well most of us), the morning was shot and I had high hopes of decluttering and reorganizing the dumping ground that is my office.  So we decided against going ahead and doing school on the Labor Day holiday and got some things done in there.    Today we hit the books again for a full and very productive school day.  By the end of the week, I think we'll be fully in the school groove again.

Tonight my husband helped me put together the IKEA Expedit that I purchased several months ago in Minneapolis to store my scrapbook supplies, paper, albums, etc.  Here is a link to it:
http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/60071358

I read somewhere on the internet that it took a lady's husband 3.5 hours to put the same kind together.  As my husband said, "I think there was a game in there somewhere."  We put it together in just under an hour, working together.  I don't think it would have taken 2 hours for one person, or that other fellow might not have been very handy.  Only one minor mishap (using a rubber mallet to put the last side on, dented the hollow core, so I will have to be crafty there.  Thinking of using one of the Command Adhesive hooks on the side to hang a little bag or picture I make.  Because the bottom is made solid and the top is not, this side will be exposed, unless I put it on the north wall rather than the east wall.  Because of the sun exposure, I think I will go with my original plan and decorate it to cover it up.

Hubby just came up with a new plan to get it in the room.  Praying it isn't too heavy for us to move it this way.  It would not require me to completely empty the room first.  Then I could simply move items from their current location to the new shelf.  Hope he is right.  Usually is!!  :)

Feeling like I am getting a little crossed off my list.  Still hoping to paint in that room this fall, but it should be made much easier if I can pull my supplies from existing furniture and fill the bookshelf.  That will allow me to paint the other walls first by moving the existing furniture.  Hoping the weather holds and I can get this one in the books and move on to the livingroom (it is connected to the office with a half wall so it will look bad if I don't get it painted).

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A Neat Site

I came across this site through links from another blog.

http://www.justpeace.org/better.htm

It has quite a few recipes for making your own mixes, and also lots of recipes for crockpot meals, breakfasts, soups, etc.

Whether you are trying to save some money, cut down on the additives and preservatives in your food, or just prefer to make things yourself, you should find something here that you can use.

Another similar site is:

www.hillbillyhousewife.com

It looks like she is sprucing up the website right now, but you can still link there to the old website addy and find what you are looking for.

If you have other great similar sites, I would love to have you share them in the comments.

Where Did Our Summer Go?

As I have been walking in the evenings this summer with my next door neighbor, we have been lamenting the fact that life seems so busy, that we can't even get to the things we'd like to do.  Just trying to stay caught up with the things we need to do/have to do seems to take up most of our time.  Guess it might be time to look at my priorities again and also to see if I have allowed too many things to creep onto my plate.

I am reminded of this when I am asked to do one more thing.  Sometimes I say yes, as it does not add significantly to my workload, requires a minimum of additional time or effort on my part and doesn't take away from responsibilities and vocation as a wife and mother.  Sometimes, I have to ask a lot more questions to find out how this will affect me if I do say yes.  You can't always tell right away.  Usually you need to get more information, or if you are lucky, you are told up front when asked.

This week I was asked to run for a position.  The person who asked me graciously explained it all up front (which is a blessing).  I told her I would talk it over with my husband and she asked that I get back to her later that evening.  Of course we got busy when we returned home and I realized it very late (too late to call her).  Thankfully I emailed her then and followed up with a  phone call the next morning.  As I wrote out why I regretfully couldn't do it, I started writing out what I all have on my plate.  The list was long and very full.  No wonder I don't have time to get to the things I would like to do.  Actually, I do make time for the one thing that I really love to do and that is scrapbook.  Probably because I prioritize some time (usually monthly) and put it on the calendar, I do manage to accomplish this.

Guess I should take a cue from that and do the same with other things that I would really like to do.
Even with simple one time things, like painting a room and reorganizing it, if I put it on my calendar, I will likely be able to make it work.  So today, I plan to clear out part of my office and get a wall painted so that I can begin rearranging the furniture in there and paint the other walls.  The whole day is before me and part of Monday as well.  Much of the delay is not wanting to deal with the stuff that accumulates and just needs to be dealt with.  The other is wasting time on the computer, internet, etc and justifying that time to myself.

I get reminders sent to me on an email list about productivity.  Their motto is:

Off, Go, Do!

Get off the computer, Go out and Do those things that need doing.

Otherwise you are just wasting time that you could be productive.

And with that, I am posting this, getting OFF the computer, and Going Out to Do my office today!!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Where to start????

Things have been pretty much nonstop around here over the last month.

My 25th High School Reunion
4th of July
Family Reunion
Trips for the kids to stay with Grandpa and Grandma in Nebraska
Installation of our New Pastor
Hosted a speaker here on our farm
County Fair

I have tons of pictures to post and will put those into a bunch of blog posts as I find time.

Hoping to work on decluttering the house and get some rooms repainted and put together and then work on lesson plans for the year.  I already have the books, just need to do the planning.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Beauties of Nature

We have been getting rain at least daily and sometimes multiple times daily here.  The grass is growing like gangbusters and everything is green (various shades) which makes for real beauty.

A few nights ago we were under a tornado watch but the weather didn't really develop into much until very late (like after bedtime), but around 6:00 p.m. I noticed some interesting clouds, so I grabbed my digital camera and went outside.  I ended up walking down our lane, down the gravel road and back up the other lane that come into our farmstead.  The views, looking in different directions, with different amounts of sunlight, front-lit and back-lit were pretty incredible.  And I also got some photos of the sunset over the horizon.

Saturday evening on our way home from the homeschool conference, there were quite a few storms brewing on either side of us.  We managed to avoid all but a little bit of rain, but as we approached home there was a beautiful pink sunset with sun rays showing through the dark clouds.  Was sure missing my camera.  While we had it in the vehicle, it was in the very back and we didn't have time to stop and get it to take pictures.  Hubby was trying to get home before dark so he could do a few things before it got dark and another storm hit.

A couple days ago, I hung a decorative wooden birdhouse on a nail on our porch.  Lo and behold, today, we have a couple of wrens, just singing their hearts out as the build a nest it in.  It is right out my office window and I am really enjoying their diligent work and beautiful songs, given the gray, cloudy backdrop that the weather is giving us.

Sorry to disappoint but I didn't get a card reader yet and it seems that my laptop and my camera dock, don't like to work together.  Hopefully this weekend, I can get one.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Getting in Shape and Losing Weight

Recently someone on one of my email lists posted a challenge to see if others would like to join her in a quest to lose some weight.  After some quick banter online, about a dozen of us took the challenge and we'll be working on losing pounds, inches, and/or various other goals (ie. getting into this size clothes, etc).

I used to be very fit and participated in all kinds of sports in high school.  Haven't done anything like that in years.  Also I am very busy, so it is difficult to fit exercise into my routine.  I know that watching my calories and drinking more water are easy to incorporate into my routine.  Here are the ideas I came up with so far for exercise:

walking (with a neighbor) - which I already committed to, but can't seem to find the time to do (frustrating)
biking - would have to be one of the kid's bikes as I don't own one
Fitness DVD - Have one or two of these
Dance Dance Revolution - or some other fitness thing on Wii (don't own Wii Fit but am considering it).

Would love to hear your suggestions as I need to get going on this.

Thanks in advance.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Day After the Primaries

Well, my selection for Governor candidate lost yesterday in the primary, but not without putting up a good campaign.  He stood on principle and got the word out and let people know where he stood on the issues that matter most to them.  I must commend him for not doing whatever is politically correct in order to get the Establishment (political party) vote.

Evidently not enough people in our state are suffiiciently irritated (lighter word than I am thinking) about the financial condition of our state, activists judges who legislate from the bench and the general downward spiral of society.  I had hoped that the last couple of years would have made it easy to see what is going on right before our very eyes, but evidently too many people are blind to the reality of what is going on, our rights are being eroded, private sector business is being taken over systematically by government bailouts and inflation and taxes are eroding everyone's paycheck.

Shame on us for being blind.  Thankfully, I know God has it all under control and perhaps we will learn the lessons he is trying to teach us.

A number of other candidates did win their primaries yesterday, standing on principle and I will continue to support each and every one of them through the general election. 

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Primary Time!!

If you live in Iowa or a handful of other states, then today it is your civic duty to go vote in the primary election.  Given the condition of our state and our country, we need to send a message that it isn't politics as usual any longer.

There are many good candidates running who believe that the Constitution means what it says and will stand up for it.

So go out and do your part by participating in the election process and let your voice be heard.

If we don't get these candidates on the ballot now, it won't matter as much when it is time for the general election.  Then it will be politics as usual.

Go vote!!  We are headed to the polls right now!

God Bless America!

Monday, June 7, 2010

I Did It Again!!!

Yes, I have fallen off the blogging bandwagon! My life gets hectic and even though I take tons of pictures and take pictures nearly every day, I rarely seem to get them posted here. My camera dock has not been playing well lately with my laptop, so I am considering buying a card reader the next time I get to the city. Then there will be no more excuses.

I am in the process of learning to take over the webmaster position for our website: Thankful Harvest. We are still working on getting our shopping cart features workable and I will also be blogging there about our farm.

On the home front, there is much mowing to be done, laundry and cooking as always, trying to finish up a few school subjects in the next 2 weeks and getting a list of curriculum to buy for next year put together, so I don't go way over budget. This week we are doing swimming lessons (got rained out tonight, so we'll make that one up Wed. night), hosting a meeting and then have family and friends coming over the weekend.

So I will keep taking pictures and maybe someday I will get a bunch of posts done so you can see what we are up to around here.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

They Grow Up SOOOOOO Fast!!

My friend Gina posted about how her little boy is growing up so fast. Last week, he couldn't reach the faucet to wash his hands and this week he can!! I have been realizing that myself a lot lately. Things that the kids hadn't done before, they are learning to do. Looking at the ages, I am quickly reminded that they will soon be adults, striving out into the world. Life passes by so quickly and we get caught up in the daily busyness. We need to stop and remember that even though there are the things that we need to do, we don't want our kids to grow up right before our eyes and miss it, because we were too busy!!!

Share what you do to make sure the busyness doesn't rob you of the precious time you have with your children.

We try to establish traditions, both at holidays and other times throughout the year. Some revolve around the foods we eat, the decorations we use, the places we go and others may be just a one-time thing, but they all add to our collective memories, that are specific to our family. One of the many reasons that I take lots of pictures and scrapbook is to make sure these things are not forgotten. Like today, when Grandma taught both of the girls to drive the tractor.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Scraproom is Moving Forward

Thursday afternoon and evening (in and around Maundy Thursday services), we emptied our two large bookcases in the office and moved them to our schoolroom in the basement. No small task as they are each 4 feet by 7 feet with 6 shelves in them. Right now, I have books piled in the office and the livingroom to sort through. I plan to donate a lot of them and sell a few.

The rest will return to the bookshelves in the basement, but not before I type up a list on the computer. I can't remember all that we have and have actually bought duplicates because of it. It will be nice to have the list with me when looking for books for school, particularly on my iPod to make it portable. Once the books are sorted, I plan to paint the wall they are on, move some desks around and finish the rest. Also, I have a new set of shelves to put up for my scrapbook supplies.

Moving these 2 large bookcases, were the key to getting the rest of the furniture moved, repurposed, the rooms painted, and finishing organizing our schoolroom. We had planned to move them over Christmas and then were socked with a huge snowstorm (2 feet of snow). Because of the size of the bookshelves, we couldn't take them down our stairs and make the turn, so we had to wait for the snow to finally melt. It only took from Christmas to Easter!!! Better late than never!

Thanks to my husband for all the help. I couldn't do it without him!! I will post pictures when I get it all done.
Jeffrey Smith wrote the book Seeds of Deception, which talks about genetically modified seeds. This article discusses real concerns that scientists had prior to genetically modified seeds being approved for use and how hug conflicts of interest are overlooked in politics. Insider were appointed to positions in the agencies charged with protecting the public and the public's health. Now we can see the drastic negative results that have come about because of this.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeffrey-smith/youre-appointing-who-plea_b_243810.html

Friday, April 2, 2010

Foodie Fridays - Food Documentaries


I found this link on the Whole Foods newsletter I receive. It is a listing of food-based documentaries that are available and where they are showing around the country. If you are not nearby, many of them are available for purchase. We own King Corn and Food Inc.

I am guessing that many of the other ones (excluding the brand new releases) are probably available from Netflix. We got The Future of Food last Friday from Netflix, but haven't had time to watch it yet.

We will be seeing a preview of Farmaggedon in Madison, WI in about 10 days.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Thrifty Thursdays - Buying In Bulk

Some of you may use bulk buying to purchase items, some may not. I see several benefits to buying in bulk. I will also discuss some of the drawbacks.

  1. Generally there are price discounts (volume discounts) when buying larger quantities of items.
  2. You won't be paying for as much individual packaging, as with smaller quantities.
  3. You won't run out as often and need to run to the store to purchase more, often at an inconvenient time. I do the bulk of my shopping (what we don't produce ourselves) once a month through our food coop (buying club).
  4. Buying in bulk in conjunction with sale pricing, brings down overall cost of the item.
  5. It allows you to help out a neighbor, who went to bake and realizes she is out of flour and lives 15 miles from the nearest store, or lives in town, but has an hour to get her baking done before she goes to work and has no time to run to the store.
  6. It allows you to practice charity - those canned veggies you bought by the case can be used to dontate to the food drive at your church or school function. Also you have something on hand to whip up goodies for the afternoon bake sale that your little darling forgot to tell you about until this morning's breakfast.
  7. Buying in conjunction with others generally allows you to share shipping with others if not purchased directly at the store.

Drawbacks:

  1. Buying bulk might require a larger initial outlay of cash than you would otherwise, which may be a strain on your budget.
  2. You may not have a lot of storage space available. This may mean a pantry area, extra closet, storage totes or a freezer, depending on the type of item.
  3. You may not have proper storage containers to accomodate large quantities, which will need to protected from bug infestations, humidity, etc. in the case of food purchases.
  4. Some items may not store well.
  5. You may not have a need for large quantities of items (you are single for example).

There are many items that can be purchased in bulk, primarily food products, but also toiletries and other household goods, also school supplies. To be even thriftier when you are stocking up on food and toiletries, try to combine manufacturer's coupons with store coupons or sale prices. If you have the time to watch these things, you can do really well. My friend Laura's blog regularly has stories of the money-saving ventures. She does really well. Unfortunately for me, I tend to not buy the items that usually have coupons for them.

I grew up about 15 miles from the nearest town, so we didn't run to town every day when we needed something. I lived in the city during college and for 3 years afterwards, but again moved to the country when I married, again living 15 miles from the nearest town where I could buy food and other supplies. So for me, buying in bulk is a habit instilled by my mother, who I know still has plenty of food on hand to feed us all when we come home for a visit/holiday (except it is not my parents and us 4 kids - it is now my parents, us 4 kids and our 4 spouses and 8 (soon to be 9) grandkids).

Buying in bulk can be a great strategy to stretch your buying dollars.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tasty Tuesdays - Bacon Potato Soup

Bacon Potato Soup

4 cups diced potatoes
1 cup chopped celery
1 carrot, sliced
1/4 cup bacon pieces
2 cups milk
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chicken broth

Combine all ingredients but milk, in a 3 quart saucepan and cook until potatoes are tender, stirring frequent. Stir in milk, salt and pepper to taste. Serves 10.

Note: I copied this from a magazine with microwave instructions, so it is adjusted (without times) to be cooked on a stove top. If you need microwave instructions, I will post them in the comments if requested.

Possible New iPhone Carrier

New iPhone Carrier perhaps

I hope this is true and the cost is not outrageous. Verizon has great coverage in our area. Need to see how it compares to our current carrier and price differences. Guess we will wait and see since it will be at least 6 months before it happens.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Foodie Fridays - The Lost Arts

I know this is a little late, but we were busy with quilting class, education fair and then we helped my sister pack up for their move this week. We also made up a couple meals for my sister while she is on bedrest, which started a couple days ago for her.

Lost Arts Kitchen

I just found this blog on Traditional Foods recipes through another link. The recipes look wonderful and I can't wait to try them. There is quite a variety from meats to soups, to dressings,etc. Hope you find something you like.

Enjoy! I know I will!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Scrappy Saturdays - Video Tutorials

Archivers Online Tutorials

If you have a scrapbooking tool that you bought and haven't figured out, or would like to try out but are unsure how to use it, the link above has lots of video tutorials to show you how. I have the Crop-a-dile Big Bite for reaching the center of 12 x 12 paper, but haven't really used it. Now I can see all that it can do and try to use it on my pages.

There are 14 tutorials on binding machines, Copic markers, using acrylic stamps and much more! Enjoy and start using those tools that you bought and haven't taken the time to learn how to use. I am especially excited to use the tutorial on the Bind It All so I can make my own mini albums of events, my neices and nephews, themes, etc.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Foodie Fridays - Ezekiel Sprouted Tortillas

We eat tortillas in fits and spurts around here (mainly for tacos/burritos) and some times for sandwich wraps (cream cheese and deli meat or peanut butter and honey). Another gal in our buying club (food coop) wanted to split a case of the Ezekiel sprouted grain tortillas. So I bought 3-4 packages and and we tried them out the other day. We really like them and since we were out of bread, we tried them with burgers. The kids all said to go ahead and order them and the mixture of several sprouted grains has a nice nutty flavor to it. I know that the sprouted grains are healthier for you but I haven't gotten around to sprouting anything of my own, so was happy to try these and like them a lot.

We quit buying bread from the food coop and started making our own in the bread machine, but need to do a better job of either soaking our flours or sprouting our grains to get more optimal nutrition. For right now, in my life, this is what I have time for and if some day I can do that, then that will be another item I can check off the list of THINGS I WOULD LIKE TO DO.....

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution

Reminder: the show debuts on ABC tomorrow (Friday) night. Larry King interviewed Jamie Oliver, Ryan Seacrest and a Baptist pastor from Huntington Beach tonight on Larry King Live.

We will be driving home from the education fair so we set the DVR to record all the episodes, beginning tomorrow night, so we can watch them when it works for us. Tomorrow night's debut is 2 hours long (7:00 p.m. Central time)

Thrifty Thursdays - Reuse

One of the things that I always try to do is to reuse packaging that comes into my home. This can take various forms:
Paper grocery bags
Plastic sacks
cardboard boxes
Bubble Wrap
Packing Peanut
Glass Jars

These are just of the few items that I can think of off the top of my head. I will try to list a few of the ways I reuse these items to give some food for thought. I hope you will add in your comments of ways you reuse these items and others that you reuse.

Paper Grocery Sacks -
  • use it to hold recyclable papers, cardboards
  • to hold items you are donating to charity
  • cut them apart and turn inside out to wrap boxes for mailing
  • use them to create a pattern for sewing or other item where you need a pattern for cutting
Plastic Sacks -
  • use these for your small garbage can liners (bathroom, bedrooms, etc) - I have never bought garbage bags for these small garbage cans
  • use them for additional packaging when mailing books
  • use these to fill space in a box when mailing something fragile or that you don't want moving around in a package
  • put a wet or soiled diaper in these till you can dispose of it (if you are away from home)
  • line mud boots that might have a small crack in them
  • use this to transport dirty clothes or muddy shoes or boots
  • wet swimwear and towels/coverupss
  • sandy blankets, shoes, etc.
Cardboard Boxes -
  • use to mail items/particularly books and gifts
  • use to sort outgrown children's clothing by size and gender to pass along to others so you know exactly what you have and can pass it on to the person who can use it
  • group like items for your own storage (ie. camping dishes, etc)
  • holding items you plan to donate to charity (they can be labeled for easy sorting - to various charities or by item) and stacked till you are ready to transport them
Bubble Wrap -
  • wrap photo frames when moving
  • wrap fragile gifts before shipping
  • entertain your kids :)
Packing Peanuts -

  • Fill extra space in packages that you are shipping
  • Use extra packing peanuts to beef up the stuffing in your bean bags that have gone flat over time
  • Use in the same way for the neck pillows that are full of beads
Glass jars -

  • Store grease from frying foods to dispose of later
  • Store bulk staples - sugar, spices, grains, honey, etc
  • Store leftovers - and you won't need tupperware
  • Use to store your homemade sauces, marinades
  • use for cotton balls or cotton cosmetics pads
  • Q-tips
  • paint brushes
  • pencils/pens
  • hardware - screws, nails, etc
I am sure that I will think of tons more things. Please share your uses for these common household items that continually come into our houses, as I am sure we can all learn something from one another. Please add other items that you reuse in your comments as well.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wordless Wednesdays - aren't working for me right now

It seems that my camera likes to give me fits, so while I always have lots of pictures, my battery on the camera isn't holding a charge well and the cheaper one that the Walmart employee told me would work in my Kodak camera (instead of the name brand) won't fit. So it takes hours to recharge the camera. By the time it is charged, I don't have time to upload pics to the computer.

Hopefully I will get a new battery soon and resume putting more pictures on my blog. I have blog posts on hold for Homeschool Day at the Capital, the christian concert we attended Saturday night and others. This week we have the education fair and a baby shower for my sister, so I am sure to take lots more pictures. I just hate having to fork over $40 for a battery. Especially since I wear it out in less than 18 months (a rechargable).

So instead of being wordless, I am having Wordy Wednesdays.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tasty Tuesdays - Oatmeal Cake

This recipe was my Grandma Judy's recipe. It is especially delicious warm with some powder sugar frosting. I think of her every time I make it. Enjoy! I am sure you will.

Oatmeal Cake
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 cups boiling water
1 cup oatmeal
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream sugars, butter, salt and eggs. Mix oatmeal with boiling water and add to sugar mixture. Stir dry ingredients and add last with the vanilla. Pour into a greased and floured 9 x 13 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Friday, March 19, 2010

I haven't disappeared....

Just been a little busy. I promise to post some photos from our Homeschool Day at the Capital and the rest of our activities through the week and weekend. Not sure if I will get to it this weekend or not, but stay tuned. I have lots of blog post ideas swirling around in my head.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tasty Tuesdays - Orange Julius

Orange Julius

1 - 6 oz. can frozen orange juice
1 cup water
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
ice cubes
Put all ingredients in blender. Add ice cubes until blender is full. Blend until smooth and frothy.

I have had this recipe for a long time. We recently started making them again and my girls have taken that over. We all love them and it is so easy. Enjoy. We have been branching out and trying Peach Julius as well.

Tasty Tuesdays - Will be Late today

We are attending our state's Homeschool Day at the Capitol as a family tomorrow. So we will be leaving at O'Dark Thirty in the morning to make the 3 hour drive to the Capitol, and make a much-needed stop at the chiropractor's office on the return trip. I plan to post a recipe later tomorrow night and perhaps some pictures from our trip.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Maddening Mondays - Are You Politically Active????

Since I have been busy rearranging furniture in my house and attending to other family matters, I haven't given a lot of time or thought to what I would blog about here today. I decided to pose the question - Are you politically active?

If someone had asked me this 20 years ago or even 10 years ago, I would have answered NO. Sometime in the last 5-10 years, my husband started getting more politically involved, so the natural result was that I did too. It started with watching certain TV talk shows and listening to radio shows. Once I became more aware of how the system worked and what the parties and organizations stood for, I realized that I could do my part to effect change at a grassroots level.

The logical first step was to identify the party affiliation that most closely resembled my views. For me, that was the Republican Party (at the time). I had previously been registered with the Democratic Party (because my parents were). Same for my husband. As time goes on, I realize that I still identify with some of the Republican Party platform, but am an Independent in other areas.

The next step was to do my civic duty and vote in the elections. The general elections, the primary elections, the school board elections, the special elections. While I may not have seen the desired outcomes, I had hoped for, I did participate.

During the last Presidential elections, my husband and I attended the Iowa Straw Poll. Neither of us had attended this before, but we enjoyed it and learned a lot. Later on we attended our county's caucus.

Most recently my husband was a delegate to our county convention and our three kids were junior delegates. My husband was selected as a District Delegate and a State Delegate. The kids are also Junior Delegates to the District and State Conventions. The kids are starting this process much earlier than I ever did.

Another thing that has been an education for me is to get involved with legislation at the grassroots level. Rallying support for an issue, developing a bill, seeing it introduced at the state level and the process it goes through to become a law, has been a great educational tool, both for myself and our children. Great civics lessons.

The advent of the internet and blogging has increased the amount of information on issues significantly and allows you to easily gather information about a topic. Blogging allows you to share your thoughts and get others feedback.

A quote I have read: "All it takes for evil to flourish, is for good men to do nothing." This is not an exact quote and I have been unable to locate the exact author of the quote, but some attribute it to Edmund Burke. I realized that if I am not going to be active and do something, then I have no right to complain if I don't like what is happening in my world. Given the events of the last 2.5 years with our nation's economy, political climate, financial uncertainty and a slide away from the Constitutional principles set forth by our founding fathers, I feel the need to become politically active, not only for the sake of myself, but for my children and future generations that follow.

So my final thought, are you politically active? If the answer is no, I must ask, why not?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Scrappy Saturdays - Online Scrapbooking Classes

I thought I would try to round up the online websites that have scrapbook classes. This is by no means all of the sites, just the ones that I am familiar with. Most of them have a variety of classes, ranging from free, to self-paced, to month long and some even have longer, more involved classes.

Big Picture Scrapbooking - www.bigpicturescrapbooking.com
Jessica Sprague - www.jessicasprague.com
Get It Scrapped - www.debbiehodge.com
Two Peas in a Bucket - www.twopeasinabucket.com

That is all I can think off off the top of my head and I know there are others out there. I will add them as I find them.

Scrappy Saturdays - Mini Album Idea Book Download

Oh My Crafts has a free download for a Mini Album Idea Book.

I am not sure how long it is available, but should be for a while. Just came into my inbox.

Since it is put out by Oh My Crafts, they do include advertising in it, but the ideas are really cute and I hope to try them out soon. I have had a Bind It All tool for over a year and a half and have never used it. I have lots of great ideas but haven't gotten around to them yet. Maybe this will get me to use it.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Foodie Fridays - Food Inc. on Oprah

I am not normally an Oprah viewer, but my MIL called to tell me what was on her show today. She recently saw the documentary Food Inc. and decided that she had to do a show on it. Our family watched Food Inc. recently with our traditional foods group (a chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation) following a potluck.

The documentary uncovers what the industrial food system has done and is doing to our nation's farmers and to our nation's (collective) health. Various clips were run and she then interviewed Michael Pollan (author of the Omnivore's Dilemma and more recently Food Rules) who gave an overview of the changes over the past 50-60 years (nearly a complete monopoly over the meat in this country, production practices, huge amounts of antiobiotic use in animals, etc.). One of Michael Pollan's food rules is "If your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize this as food, don't eat it. (slight paraphrase)"

Oprah also interviewed Alicia Silverstone, who went vegan and improved her health (that would not work for me cause I LOVE MEAT!), but she did advocate eating more whole foods and produce. So that part I can agree with.

The final segment she interviewed Steve Ells, founder of Chipotle Grill. While I was not able to watch the entire third segment, I did gather that he sources as much sustainably raised food as possible and more of the dollars spent, go back to the farmer/producer.

As Oprah said, you need to see this and make your own decision. I urge everyone to see this movie. Buy it, rent it, go to the theatre! We need to make conscious decisions about the food we put in our bodies. If you have seen this documentary, please share your thoughts and ask those in your sphere of influence to watch this movie and make their own decisions.

Thrifty Thursdays - Saving Money by Cooking from Scratch

When we started changing our diet to more natural and organic foods almost 11 years ago, one of the first things we did, was to decrease and eventually eliminate some foods. When I say eliminate, I need to clarify. We eliminated the processed, boxed version and replaced some of them with a homemade, made-from scratch version when possible. The others that we couldn't replace, we simply quit eating.

With the power of the internet at your fingertips (either in your home or at a local library) you likely will be able to find a recipe for almost anything. Not only will you save money by making it yourself, instead of paying someone else for making it, packaging it, marketing it, transporting it, storing it and selling it, but you will you save yourself from all the additives and preservatives that extend shelf life. In other words, you will know what is in your food, because you made it and you know the source of your ingredients (not some "natural flavorings" or other catch-all terms).

While we don't make everything from scratch (I am still trying to find a suitable replacement for canned tomato soup, etc), we keep looking. Next on my list is to find a good ranch dressing. I also have some great cracker recipes to try that a friend gave me. Much of the delay in me trying these things, is having a schedule that is too packed to allow time for trying them out. We have begun to cut back on outside commitments to really focus on what is most important to us and our family. My hope is that simplifying my life will free up more time to do these type of things that we desire to do.

One of the first websites I found with recipes for cooking almost anything from scratch was Hillbilly Housewife The site has extensive amounts of recipes in all categories. Other sites I have used are:

Be aware that some of these sites will have recipes specifying canned, boxed or other processed items as ingredients. I look at recipes and base my decision on whether to try or not, by taste. If I think it looks tasty, then I will go about changing the source of ingredients. For example, it it calls for chicken broth, I will try to replace it with homemade chicken stock if I have it, or use an organic chicken base and water, or thirdly canned chicken stock (with a SHORT ingredient list).

Of course, there are tons of cookbooks out there to make nearly anything from scratch as well. In fact you may have a few of them in your kitchen. Some that I have are: Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, More With Less, Whole Foods for the Whole Family, The Maker's Diet and Nourishing Traditions. Most likely the older versions of the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook will be what you are looking for. Sometimes older church and/or community cookbooks can be a good source of from scratch recipes. Most current ones rely heavily on a can of this, a package of that, or a box of this.

I hope this will give some food for thought and I look forward to your comments and suggestions on cooking items from scratch.
I avoid recipes that require non dairy whipped topping, high fructose corn syrup, etc. If I end up using one of those recipes, then I will use whipped cream or honey in place of the two ingredients I just listed. Automatic replacements are butter for margarine (won't eat that). While margarine may be cheaper to buy, my health is not. I will pay for and eat butter.

Not only does cooking from scratch save you money, it will likely save your health. We spend almost nothing on health care and choose to spend a little more on certain food items which cost a bit more (like the butter I mentioned above). We tend to rely on whole foods for our diet, that is not to say that we don't eat any junk food because we do. Our health has improved dramatically and the only time we see a medical doctor is for regular checkups or stitches.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tasty Tuesdays - Wild Rice Soup

This is a recipe from my late Aunt Eileen (who was also my godmother). She was a wonderful cook. We have many, many recipes that she shared with us over the years that have become family favorites. I am sure you will love this one as much as we do. I plan to share more of her wonderful recipes over time.

Wild Rice Soup

6 Tbsp. butter or marg.
1 Tbsp. minced onion
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3 cups chicken stock
2 cups cooked wild rice
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup half and half
2 Tbsp dry sherry (optional)
snipped parsley or chives.

Melt butter in saucepan, saute onion until tender. Blend in flour, gradually stir in broth. Cook, stirring constantly until misture comes to a boil and stir one minute. Stir in rice and salt: simmer about 5 minutes. Blend in half and half and sherry. Heat to serving temp. Garnish w/parsley.

Variations: Add 1/3 cup minced ham or chopped cooked chicken, 1/2 cup finely shredded carrot and 2 TBSP chopped/crushed sliced almonds with rice and salt.

NOTES: Below are some additional things that my sisters and I have done, especially if we are short on time (with kids and jobs, sometimes time is just short).

I do not buy and cook the real wild rice that takes forever. I use the Uncle Ben's stuff and it works just fine too. For the 1/2 and 1/2, I use about 1/2 of that and then the rest with regular milk so it isn't soooooo thick. I usually cook and add in a couple chicken breasts. The sherry is optional but I usually add it and it does add a nice flavor.

Monday, March 8, 2010

In An Effort to Blog More Regularly....

I am attempting to blog (as I can) on specific categories on Specific Days. That way, I don't have to come up with something out of the blue.

These categories may change some, but I am working on making them representative of who I am, so they may change over time. Without further ado, here they are:

Maddening Mondays - Political Discussions
Tasty Tuesdays - Recipes
Wordless Wednesdays - Current Photos/Events (hat tip to Angie and Pam for this idea)
Thrifty Thursdays - Saving Money
Foodie Fridays - Organic/Healthy Living
Scrappy Saturdays - Scrapbooking Goodies
Sabbath Sundays - probably nothing cause I'm lazy

I am certain that life will get in the way and I won't get a post done every day, but at least if I get a bunch of posts written I can spread them over several days.

Would love any input on other ideas you might have.

Weekend Update

My husband was a delegate to our County Convention this weekend on Saturday morning and the kids were Junior delegates. So they left the house and I thoroughly enjoyed having the house all to myself for a few hours. I started reorganizing my scrapbook supplies since I had pulled most of them out for a retreat the weekend before. Knowing that I had just a few events to finish up to complete my 2007 books, I set about to get those completed.

Over the course of yesterday and today, I completed 15 pages to get those events completed! I spent the rest of the evening putting everything I did plus those I did in December at a crop, into page protectors and getting everything into the appropriate album.

I am happy to have that project done. Now to sort more photos and plan pages. My picture taking has increased exponentially in the last 2 years, so I also need to find a way to scrap faster. I have read a number of blog posts and articles with tips for scrapbooking more efficiently, so I hope to put those into practice.

We have been getting rain since Friday and it is really helping to get rid of the massive amounts of snow we have here. Our highs are supposed to increase to near 50 degrees by next weekend and several days include rain in the forecast. I am hopeful it will be gone in the next 7 days. We shall see!

Considering that I am having a hard time keeping my eyes open, I am going to put some things away and get some zzzzz's. I promise that not all my posts will be on scrapbooking.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Roller Skating

Our homeschool group went rollerskating today. There were 100 people attending, which blew me away. We got there a little late (1/2 hour), but the kids had plenty of time to skate (1.5 hours).

I got to visit a little bit with some of the other moms and attempted to take pictures but due to the poor lighting in the roller rink, my camera didn't want to cooperate very well. Most of the pictures were blurry unless the kids were standing still and posed. After attending a scrapbook retreat last weekend and watching a 20 minute video on improving your pictures, I thought I had the problem figured out. I switched to the sports mode (and the pictures turned out worst). So I just kept shooting, hoping for a few that turned out.

However, I don't think any are worthy of posting, The kids managed to do the chicken dance, the hokey-pokey and the crazy trio dance and didn't fall a ton. Unfortunately, they usually only got 1-2 times a year, so it is hard to get proficient at it.

A big thanks goes out to Melanie who organizes weekly phys ed activities for our group (of 100 families). She puts a lot of time into this and it is so appreciated by all of us. There is a great variety as well: ice skating, roller skating, climbing wall, flag football, hiking, biking, frisbee and gym time, etc.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Scheduling

I just found out that this post never posted to my blog. So while it is now a month old, I am going to post it anyway, to give you a taste of my days. Ironic that the title is scheduling, as this post never got scheduled in the blogger system. LOL!

I can't believe how crazy busy life can get some times. We just came off probably one of the busiest months of our lives. Just nuts! We travelled to Lexington, KY for a meeting that my hubby attended and we took in some sight seeing. The next weekend we celebrated a belated Christmas with my mom's side of the family. Orthodontist appointment for my son. Husband spoke at a conference. He was home for one night and then spent 2 days teaching a seminar a couple hours away. Home for a day and a half then to a 2.5 day meeting where he had a booth and put on some informational meetings. I attended 1.5 days of the meeting with them, then headed to a weekend scrapbook retreat with friends (my twice a year getaway with friends to do what I love - SCRAPBOOK!)

Interspersed with all of this our kids have activities that they need to be shuttled to: voice lessons, catechism classes, music practice and homeschool coop, plus a few extra phys ed activities like ice skating and this week roller skating. Living on a farm with animals there are always daily chores to do: feeding hay to the horses, taking care of dogs and cats and helping feed cattle hay. My husband and I also both serve on boards at church.

As you can see it has been a whirlwind around here lately. Thankfully today I was successful at getting some upcoming things scheduled: oral surgery to extract a tooth for my son, appointment to get his braces the following week, registering for an upcoming conference we are attending next month and the kids' voice recital. Nothing overlapped!!! PHEW!!

I am tired just typing that all out....no wonder my blogging was non-existent for so long. We have dropped some non-essentials to concentrate more on things that involve our entire family and what is best for them and now that we survived February things are looking a little simpler.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Weekend Report

I spent the last weekend with good friends from my hometown. About 2.5 years ago my best friend that I have known since Kindergarten (and attended through high school and all the way through college) invited me to join her family at a scrapbook retreat. It is held in March and September at a Catholic Retreat Center. The event begins at 4:00 on Friday afternoon and concludes at 3:00 on Sunday afternoon.

We get two days of uninterrupted time to scrapbook, visit, eat, reminisce, eat, visit, eat...well, you get the picture. There are cabins to stay in onsite. My friend has 4 sisters (3 of which came), and her mom and a cousin. My husband was at a meeting close by so I stayed with him the first night and at my sister's the second night.

I was able to get 35 pages done this time and was very happy with that, as they ready to be loaded into the album (THEY ARE DONE!). I always have grand plans of getting stuff organized better and picked out ahead of time, so I am more productive. The last week before the retreat, my husband was out of town 4 of 7 days, so there were lots of extra chores to be done around the farm, so the organizing wish didn't come true.

One of my goals was to complete all the little groups of photos from various years that I hadn't completed for the albums for my kids. A trip to Ft. Wayne in 2005, Christmas pictures from 2007 and a visit to the Ranchwife from 2006. The only group of photos that didn't get completed from those years were our trip to Austin, TX in 2007 (because either I didn't print them all or I can't find them). I ran across them on my computer the week before and didn't manage to upload them to Walmart to get them printed. Now I can't find them again. Now I can get a fresh start on 2008 photos. I have them all printed and sorted, so next time I get a chance to work I am ready to go.

Unfortunately in my rush to get them into their respective albums today, I forgot to take a picture of any of them to post. Oh well, guess you will have to come visit and look through them. :)

Reminder to Self

Don't create 2 blogs and then fail to post on either one. When you finally post on your main blog, it will show up in the inactive blog with no template and you will think you have lost all of previous posts, pictures, blogrolls etc.

Thank goodness for cut and paste and the back arrow on the computer.

Don't have a heart attack, anybody that follows my blog. This is 2 posts in one day!!!

I will try to pace myself okay?!?

It's Been How Long?????

Oh my goodness! I didn't realize it had been nearly 10 months since I last posted to my blog!!! YIKES!!

Life gets a little crazy! I have been very busy and have made a point to get myself a little more organized so that I can do the things that NEED to be done (like laundry, cleaning, dishes, schoolwork) and the things that I WANT to get done (like blogging, scrapbooking, painting and decluttering.

I enjoy reading other's blogs, catching a little glimpse into their lives and perhaps gleaning a nugget of wisdom from their experience to implement in my own life.

This winter has been one for the recordbooks and my husband and I have been taking pictures to document this record-breaking year. Lots of plans for upcoming posts including outdoor pictures, a couple business trips we made and some creative posts (primarily some of the scrapping I got done last weekend at a scrapbooking retreat).

I can't promise that I will blog every day (not realistic). I will try to blog on a more regular basis going forward. In fact I am going to start working on a list of blog posts to write and get started on them later this week.