Friday, August 31, 2007

Frugal dinner - Beans and rice!

Tonight I am putting on a crock pot of black beans to simmer through the night and the rest of the day tomorrow until dinner time. I love this meal because it takes so little work to prepare, it is yummy and filling AND it is really, really CHEAP!! I put half a small bag of black beans in my crock pot, cover them with water, add a 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda and turn the pot on low. Tomorrow morning I'll add any seasonings (and a touch more water if need be) and continue to cook it on low until its time to eat. (5:00pm is what I shoot for.) About 1/2 hour before dinner I cook some rice in my rice cooker, heat up tortillas, prepare any toppings (lettuce, cilantro, sour cream, cheese, guacomole) and then dish up! Not a fussy meal at all! I usually will serve some fruit as a side with this meal but that is it. Easy Peasy.

What to write?

I've been praying lately for God to show me how I can Biblically bring some income into the Lewis household much like how the Proverbs 31 contributed to her household finances. (The Proverbs 31 woman was a extremely wise and shrewd business woman!)

I have been contemplating writing an e-book and I would love for my readers to sound off on the concept. Have you written one? Was it profitable? Have you bought one? Would you ever? What topics are you interested in?

I have two fiction books in various stages and have also contemplated starting up a conservative Christian homesteading magazine ( among other ideas).

Any input and ideas would be appreciated. :)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

School at the Farmer's Market

Yesterday we took our first field trip of the school year. I needed to buy produce at the local farmer's market so the kids were told to load up with pencil and notebooks for a practical lesson.

We were on day three of creation and studying land vegetation. I had the kids list everything they saw at the market that came from plants. Of course they had a long list of fruits and veges but they needed to be reminded that bread came from plants (wheat), and the calligrapher's paper came from trees, and the woodworker's wares came from trees.

We also did math. They had to find the best buys for me and add up the total and figure out the change from what I paid. They even had to do division when I asked how much each cookie in the 6 pak cost and multiplication when I bought 8 ears of corn priced per four pieces.

I like practical lessons to remind the kids that they will use the facts learned in school in everyday life. It also livens up the day.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

More Dough!!

We had strawberry shortcake for dessert the other night. Instead of using Angel Food cake or pound cake I decided to use scones.

2 cup flour ( I use all purpose)
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
1 egg, beaten (for dough)
3/4 cup milk
1 egg, beaten (for brushing the tops of uncooked scones)
sugar for sprinkling scone tops

Mix dry ingredients together, cut in butter until mixture is "crumby", stir in egg, add milk, turn out on floured surface and knead until dough is workable. Roll out to about 3/4 inch thick, cut with a 2 inch round cutter. Place scones on greased cookie sheet, brush tops with beaten egg. Sprinkle sugar over tops.

Bake for 10 minutes in a 450 degree oven (pre-heated). Makes about nine scones.

We had English Scones for breakfast with the leftovers. Scones, jam, and homemade whipping cream. Traditionally the English use clotted cream but my family just uses heavy whipping cream.

Homemade Whipping Cream
1 to 2 cups of heavy whipping cream whipped until thick peaks form
sugar to taste
1 tsp. vanilla or other flavoring (optional)

Clotted Cream
2 cups heavy cream- cook until reduced to about half and it is the consistancy of butter with a golden crust. Transfer to a bowl and let stand 2 hours. Refridgerate for 12 hours. Stir and serve. Keeps four days in a refridgerated air-tight container.


Mrs. U over at Making a House a Home ( asked for my pizza dough recipe. Mine comes from Bread Machine Magic by Linda Rehberg and Lois Conway ( My husband and I received this for a wedding present 14 years ago and it has proved to be one of the most used and practical gifts we recieved.)

This makes one pound of dough:

3/4 cup warm water
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons yeast

I get my water measured first in a measuring cup and add my yeast and sugar to this and let it sit for about five minutes to bloom (Yeast starts to grow). Add the rest of the ingredients to your bread machine pan. Add yeast mix after bloom is achieved. I just run this on my machine's dough setting. It takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes. I usually make mine in the morning and just sit the bread machine pan in the fridge after the dough is done until I'm ready to make the pizza. I usually turn out my dough on a floured surface and roll it with a pin into a circle and then transfer it to a greased pizza pan where I finish rolling/stretching it to the size I want. For whole wheat users: sub half the all-purpose flour with whole wheat. You can also sub honey for sugar.

I also consulted the book A Loaf of Bread by Gail Duff that I currently have checked out of the library. She mentions that you can turn any basic loaf dough into a pizza dough with the addition of olive oil- one to two tablespoons per pound of dough.

Basic Sauce Recipe:
1 lb. scalded, skinned, chopped tomatoes
1 small onion chopped
3 cloves garlic chopped
2 tablspoons olive oil

Saute garlic and onion in olive oil until soft, add tomatoes and simmer 50 minutes until a thick puree is formed. Cool and spread on dough.

Monday, August 27, 2007

School is here!

We officially are back at Lewis Homeschool today after taking a summer break. Last night we unofficially started by watching the Discovery Channel's Blue Planet: Living Seas. My 9 and 10 year old girls loved the show and even took notes. We are starting the year off with a study of God's creation and even though we won't hit Day 5 of Creation until next week I didn't want to pass up having the kids see the fantastic images that were captured. Evolution gobbledegook was, of course, present but not overwhelming. Now I have to decide if I want to wake the kids up at 4am tomorrow and have them witness the eclipse. I'm not sure that they will get much out of the experience at that time of day.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Homemade Pizza

It is a remarkable thing to make pizza at home. My children, who generally vanish into thin air around dinner prep time, wouldn't leave me alone. The younger two insisted on helping roll out the dough. (Made in the bread machine.) Reagan was thrilled that she could make hand prints in the dough. The older two wanted to spread out the sauce, put on the pepperoni and put on the cheese. I guess "I" should make pizza more often.

Monkeys in the bed

I have literally had rocks in my dryer, dinosaurs in my shoes and now Monkeys in the bed! When my youngest was put to bed there were no toys in the bed. Upon arising the next morning there was an infestation of blue barrel monkeys among her bedding.

Friday, August 24, 2007


We lost power on Wednesday night. When the kids and I left church the storm was approaching. It was dark, windy and the thunder was rumbling. By the time we were 1/3 the way home it was a downpour. We all got drenched just getting out of the car and moving the five or so feet to the porch. We were met with a dark house. My husband said the power went out about 8:30 or so. The kids find power outages a mix of fearfullness and fun. They don't like the storm, dark or lack of bathroom facilities (We are on a electric well pump- no electricity, no water, no flushing toliet.) but they love the slumber party atmosphere where we all bunk down in Mom and Dad's bedroom and use flashlights, candles and oil lamps. Since it was pretty much bedtime when we got home, I read the kids a chapter of the book we are reading together using my husband's night time fishing head lamp (battery powered) and then we sweltered in the heat and humidity. Our power came on around 12:30am and oh sweet air conditioning.

Yesterday the weather report called for more severe evening storms and if you caught any national news you heard that Chicago (2 1/2 hours southwest of us) got nailed. I was prepared! The flashlights were ready, the candles on standby, the oil lamp filled. I made sure the load of just washed clothes made it to the drier so they wouldn't be left sitting in a wet lump in the heat, dinner was prepared before the storm was supposed to hit, dessert (root beer floats) was planned so that we could have something easy and cooling if the power was out. I even had water sitting by the toilet for flushing purposes if need be. Wouldn't you know it... the storm totally went around us. We got some rain and some wind but most of the Grand Rapids, MI area was spared. Unfortunately for Kalamazoo (I love that name) and Battle Creek to the south of us they got the brunt of the storm. None-the-less since we were so prepared for losing power, we all played board games together instead of having electrical entertainment on and I read more. It was good family time. More storms are possible for today.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Urgent Care Clinic

The kids and I took John to the urgent care clinic yesterday for his back. While he can now lay in bed with out pain, he still can not sit up or walk with out pain. He has been out of work for about a week and is getting antsy to get back into life. He was given more/different pain relievers and muscle relaxers and had an x-ray taken. Then we stopped by his Costco where he told his boss he would be in on Saturday. I think he is thinking wishfully.

Small Town America

I love living in small town, mid-west, America! The kids and I attended the local community fair yesterday. Kids up to 11 get in free and adults are only two dollars but I had a free pass because our church is hosting a booth. Parking is free too! Earlier this summer, through our local library, I found out that the fair was hosting a summer reading program... for every 90 minutes kids read they would get a free carnival ride ticket up to five tickets. My 3 reading age kids did all the required reading and were looking forward to a free ride (usually most rides cost 3 or 4 tickets) but we were pleasantly surprised to find out the day the kids were to redeem their prizes was one ticket per ride day! The kids each got five free rides. Then I splurged on 4 more tickets so that my two year old could ride the merri-go-round with her siblings. $4 is not a bad price for an afternoon of family fun. I also convinced the kids to for-go fair food and we would stop at Mcdonald's and get ice cream so that we could bring something home to daddy who has been laid up with a bad back all week. Despite all the mud (it had rained the day before and in the morning) it was very fun. The kids even handled looking at the animals (my favorite thing to do.) Reagan (my two year old) thought this was pretty great as well. Her favorites were the bunnies. She stopped at every cage. I also took time to assure the children that mom did not want to get one of the really big cows that we walked past. I only wanted a little Dexter breed. The kids are still not anxious for a cow. I was really wishing we lived close to Mom Lewis when I saw how much Reagan liked the bunnies. I would get a really fluffy alpaca and then she could have the hair to spin. Well, maybe we will still get one and just mail the hair cross country.

Andi and the Orbiter

Rem, Andi, and Seven on the Tornado

Reagan on the Merry-Go-Round

Pastor Sam Hendrickson at Westside Baptist booth

Girl meets chicken

Bread and Casserole

I apologize for the couple of days with no posts. I wanted to post pictures and I am not a tech girl. I had to wait for my husband to be able to download the pictures off the camera and onto the computer.

The casserole of the other night turned out great! Only one child didn't care for it. I ended up not putting in eggs but using mushrooms instead that I sauteed in butter with garlic and onion. I also used extra toppings. Not only did I use mozzerrella cheese but bread crumbs and bacon bits.

The non-bread machine french bread also turned out better.




Homemade french bread

Monday, August 20, 2007

Blogs I read

These are blogs I check daily and love to read:

For men I recommend:

Win a Waffle Maker

Crystal Paine has an offer over at that includes a chance to win a waffle maker. Check it out!

Great Weather!

I have been yearning for a couple of cool, rainy days ever since summer began. I finally got them- yesterday and today. BAKING DAYS! I have missed oven baked bread and freshly baked cookies! Yesterday I experimented with french bread. I made the dough in the bread machine and then finished it in the oven. The results were so-so. It tasted good but I wouldn't have turned it in to be judged at a fair. I also made a batch of snickerdoodle cookies which the family promptly inhaled.

Today I'm going to make the french bread completely by hand and see what the difference is. I also plan on experimenting with making a casserole. Amy Dacyczyn in The Tightwad Gazette 3 provides a basic recipe sent to her by Maria Kleinberg (Sterling Heights, MI):

1 cup main ingredient (tuna, chicken, turkey, ham ,seafood)
1 cup second ingredient (celery, mushrooms, peas, hard boiled eggs)
1-2 cup starchy ingredient (potatoes, pasta, rice)
1 1/2 cup binder (cream sauce, sour cream, creamed soup)
1/4 goodie (optional) (pimiento, olives, almonds, water chestnuts)
Topping (potatoe chips, cheese, bread crumbs)

The combinations and possibilites are endless. I have on hand today: chicken, eggs, pasta, sour cream, olives and cheese. Sucess at the Lewis home is if 3 of the 4 children give the dish the thumbs up! 4out of 4 is too much to hope for... LOL! All I can say is ladies of Westside Baptist Church I am prepared to come with casseroles!


Sunday, August 19, 2007

Refining Silver

Jendi over at Musings and Mommy Stuff, , posted this:

Malachi 3:3 says, “And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.”
This verse puzzled some women in a Bible study and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God. One of the women offered to find out the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible Study.
That week, the woman called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn’t mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining Silver.
As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities.
The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot; then she thought again about the verse that says: “He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver.” She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.
The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, “How do you know when the silver is fully refined?” He smiled at her and answered, “Oh, that’s easy — when I see my image in it.”
If today you are feeling the heat of the fire , remember that God has his eye on you and will keep watching you until He sees His image in you.

Is that not awesome or what! Praise be to God!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Alpha Omega Mom

I was reading an article in a magazine the other day about "Alpha Moms"- do it all moms that keep up on the newest products and trends and pass the word on to their friends. Apparently big companies such as Nintendo and others are reaching out for the opinions of these ladies as marketing schemes. There was a time in the not too distant past that I would have been trying to be lumped in with these ladies but God changed my heart and my direction. I am proud to say that I am an Alpha Omega Mom! Doing what God desires, keeping up with and sharing his product (The Holy Bible) and concentrating on time proven traditions over trends. Some how I don't think Starbucks or Nintendo will be knocking on my door any time soon but in the scope of all eternity... It doesn't matter really does it!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Reading and to-do list

In my efforts to raise the level and skill of my homemaking I am currently reading the following:

Living a Beautiful Life by Alexandra Stoddard
Gift of a Letter by Alexandra Stoddard
Homegrown Hospitality... magazine currently on the newstands
Loaf of Bread by Gail Duff
Daring To Be Yourself by Alexandra Stoddard
The Tighwad Gazette 3 by Amy Dacyczyn
Having Tea by Tricia Foley
Creating a Beautiful Home by Alexandra Stoddard
What Your 1st, 3rd and 4th Grader Should Know series by Delta Education

On my planning to-do list:

Unit studies and homemade school curriculum for the upcoming school year. The first being on creation since we will be visiting the new Creation Museum outside Cinninatti this mid-September
Family Schedule including chore chart
Meal planning
Titus 2 Home making class for church
Home made Christmas gifts for family and friends

I love being a homemaker, mother and wife! I wouldn't trade this for anything.

Thursday, August 16, 2007



My name is Cyndi Lewis and God has place "home" on my heart. The goal of this blog is to chronicle The Lord's workings in Lewis family life and to encourage, equip, and lead others in home-centered activities to the glory of God.