Saturday, February 28, 2009

Workin' on the blog...

I have some techno questions for my readers who also have blogs. I'm wanting to tweak my blog but I'm soooo not technological.

I have created a slide show in photobucket and a music playlist but have no clue how to upload them to my blog. Does anyone know how to do this. I don't want them as posts but as an added "gadget" on the side that comes up everytime my blog loads.

Also how does one go about starting a carnival? I have two or three I'm thinking about but I'm unsure about how to add Mr. Linky, how to create a graphic for it, how to get people to participate?

What would you all like to see me add? What kind of posts do you like or dislike. I haven't been feeling very original lately. Input greatly needed. PLEASE!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Frugal Friday- Free is good! True Beauty!

My four beauties!

And one crazy boy!

If y'all head over to she is having a giveaway sponsered by Vision Forum. You can win your choice of one of five different VF conference albums- one of which is on raising Godly daughters! That was my pick as I currently have 4 lovely daughters and perhaps the Lord will bless us with more. You have to hurry though! The give away closes tonight at 10pm! (EST) God Bless!

For more Frugal Fridays head on over to

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Taylor post as required by Grandmas

Homemade Thursday- Old Post

I'm cheating for this week's Homemade Thursday post. I linked to and old post from last year. Here is the page link: .

Have Fun! For more Homemade Thursdays go to .

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Works For Me Wednesday- Free is Good!

If you haven't heard, head on over to either of Crystal Paine's two blogs ( or ). She is sponsering a free entrepreneurial download from , a division of . It is an audio (MP3) file of Vision Forum's Entrepreneurial Bootcamp. If you were to pay for this it would cost around $100 ($65 on sale). If you are even the slightest bit entrepreneurial or thinking of starting a business of your own, head over and pick up the coupon code from Crystal that will allow you to download all 21 files absolutely free! This is only offered until Saturday so don't delay! I have wanted to purchase this for ages and now I was able to get it free! FREE works for me.

Also under Free works for me: I have a new pasta container. In its former life it used to hold "Pub Mix" a cheesy cracker/pretzel type snack mix by UTZ sold at Costco. Now, after said crackerage was eaten, the container stripped of its packaging and washed, it hold my spagehtti noodles. No more taping boxes or bags closed or accidentally dumping my pasta all over the pantry. FREE works for me!

For more Works For Me Wednesday head on over to (old host) or even better try the new hostess over at .

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Help For Growing Families- Franklin Springs

Maybe I'm a bit behind the times but I just discovered Franklin Springs Family Media. It is a Christian family owned/operated company. They produce and film wonderful family orientated films and DVD's. As I ran down the catalog list they have available, I found 7 must haves for my family and the rest of the films also sounded uplifting and encouraging to my walk as a Christian and mother.

They have documentaries, instructional videos for men, women and children, and helps for the family. I can't wait to get my hands on their The Art of Breadmaking DVD, Inherit the Land, and The Family Meal Table. For my DH: A Journey Home. For my son: Measure Twice, Cut Once. For my girls: The Art of Candlemaking and The Art of Soapmaking.

I can see my brood having good family time watching these DVD's and applying what they've learned to their skill and knowledge bank.

For more Help With Growing Families check out

Monday, February 23, 2009

Meal Plan Monday

I have never participated in a Meal Plan Monday before. I have planned out menus before but it fell by the wayside last year when I was pregnant and then after my new one was born. This is my first week back on it. The goal is to avoid the fast food joints by having this plan and let eating out be a rare treat.

Monday: Spagehtti, homemade bread, salad, minister's delight

Tuesday: Beans and rice, sauted green beans, applesauce

Wednesday: Porkchop and potato casserole, homemade bread, salad, peaches

Thursday: Fried Chicken, mashed potato, sauted green beans, cookies (homemade)

Friday: Turkey sloppy joes, corn, cookies (homemade)

Saturday: Tacos, refried beans, finger veges, applesauce

Sunday: Homemade challah bread, cheese soup, pudding

If you notice: I put a dessert with each meal. I'm trying to cut out unhealthy snacking during the day and after dinner. By having a sweet option (including but not limited to fruit) it pleases the sweet tooth but eliminates snack binges of sugar and salt.

Minister's Delight:

1 can (21oz) fruit filling

1 packaged yellow/white cake mix

1/2 cup butter (melted)

1/3 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Put fruit filling in slow cooker, combine cake mix and butter, sprinkle over filling, sprinkle on nuts, cover and cook on low for 2-3 hours. (Serve in bowls.)

For more menu planning ideas go to

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Inherit The Land

I don't usually post on Sundays but we are home from church today with a sickie (My four year-old has an ear ache.) and I didn't post yesterday, so I thought I'd let you all know about a contest over at . She's giving away a DVD from Franklin Springs- Inherit The Land. Check it out and enter!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Homemade Thursday (On Friday)- Daily Bread Part 2

A beautiful finished product

A cup full of ice helps form a crispy crust

Scoring of the bread

Shaped and floured loaf

A baker's best friend- Silpat

My baking set up (I don't have a baker's stone)
As promised here is the second part of my bread post. Yesterday I made the dough and placed it in the refrigerator overnight. This helps develop flavor and makes the dough easier to handle. After taking it out of the refrigerator, I shaped it and floured it right on my Silpat lined baking sheet. Then the bread rests for 40 minutes. While the bread is resting, I set up my pans in the oven: One pan on the bottom to hold ice for steaming and an upside down pan on the rack above to serve as my baking stone. When the pans are in place, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
After 40 minutes have passed, score your bread anyway you like using a serated knife. Quickly load the bread into the oven and toss a cup of ice onto the bottom pan. Shut the door ASAP so the steam from the melting ice doesn't escape. Bake the bread for 20-30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. That's it Folks. Easy Peasy! No more store bought bread for me.

Frugal Friday- Dave Ramsey

The DH and I went to see Dave Ramsey live last night. Even though there was a hoard of people at the sold out venue, we still managed to have a good time and walked away, not with new knowledge (well some facts were new to us) but with a vision. He used a clip of a gazelle trying to avoid getting eaten by a cheetah as a visual on how we should be trying to avoid debt. Worked for me.

This morning my son counted his money and had me price a video game he wanted. He tried to convince me that he had most of the price and I could just pay for the rest. Uhmmm... not! Seemed like a good time to start in on the "save till you can pay for it fully" lesson and start moving him away from instant gratification. It is, however, much easier to be good when it is not your money and desire that is in the way.

Now we have to come up with a budget and stay on track. We are on Baby Step One. Not sure how we are coming up with $1,000 but it will be time to look at our "stuff" really carefully. We really are in for a total money makeover and lots of delayed gratification. We are definately not purchasing a house without 20% down and are even considering 100% down.

I recommend Dave Ramsey to any one. You don't have to buy his books or pay to see him live. Listen to him on the radio or tv. He's not saying anything new but he is really good in the motivation department.

Mom, would you be angry if I sold my china?

For more Frugal Friday posts, check out

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Homemade Thursday- Daily Bread- Part 1

1. Gather what you need

2. Spray a spatula and bowl with cooking spray

3. Get three cups warm water

4. Add 1 1/2 Tbsp. yeast

5. Add 1Tbsp. sugar, stir mixture to incorporate.

6. Let sit until Bloom forms (5 to 10 minutes)

7. While waiting for your yeast mixture to "Bloom" add 6 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose white flour to your mixing bowl (you may mix by hand, hand mixer or a free-standing mixer with a dough hook)

8. Add yeast mixture to flour and mix until just blended

9. Add salt and blend just until a sticky dough forms, do not knead (I add salt at this stage rather than earlier to avoid the salt "killing" the yeast and thus preventing a good rise.)

10. Transfer dough to prepared bowl and cover with plastic wrap

11. Let sit for about 2 hours (until dough flattens on top or starts to fall) and then refrigerate for three hours. (This is a sticky dough. The refrigeration will allow you to be able to shape the dough easier. You can shape a loaf immediately though.)

Homemade Thursday is hosted by

I have found that with this bread recipe I can keep my family in bread on a daily basis. It is easy and requires very little "hands-on" time. Best of all- it turns out great every time! I adapted this recipe from the basic recipe in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Herzberg and Zoe Francois. I've added sugar to it and changed the directions to my liking.
This recipe makes 4 lbs of bread dough (recipe may be doubled also) and may be kept in a refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. You may freeze it also in individual loaf portions.
Check back tomorrow for part two- shaping and baking the loaves. I will also post tomorrow's post to next week's Homemade Thursday.

Lewis Daily Bread:

3 cups warm water
1 1/2 Tbsp. yeast
1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar (I find that my yeast blooms better with some type of sweetner to feed on.)
1 1/2 Tbsp. coarse kosher salt
6 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose white flour
See also . She just posted about making the original recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Works For Me Wednesday- Green Bananas

For some reason my local Costco sells bananas that are greener than a leprechaun on St. Patty's Day. My simple solution: put them in a plastic bag with an apple. It makes a great homeschool science experiment too. The gases given off the ripe apple cause the bananas to ripen. Go figure! Works for me! Tip: Don't store ripe bananas near apples or you'll be making banana bread pretty darn quick!
Works For Me Wednesday is sponsered by

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Help For Growing Families- Chores/Allowence/Entrepreneurship

Reagan is encouraged to help wherever she wishes!
Hi All,

I'm taking a break from my vacation series to talk a little bit more about what Mother Hen at (Hostess of Help For Growing Families) commented on this week.

Our family, like Mother Hen's, expects children to help out greatly around the house. My eldest daughter (12) folds all our clothes, sweeps upstairs daily and cleans the bathroom as needed. My second eldest daughter (10) is in charge of dishes (loading/unloading dishwasher, hand washing) and helping with floors. My son (8) takes out all the trash and readies it for pick up, vaccums the upstairs daily and scrubs floors as needed. They all help carry in groceries and occasionally are called on to help with meals. They are also expected to keep their rooms clean, beds made and the downstairs playroom picked up. Any large chores, inside or out they are expected to help with. Also if there is something I just can't get to, they made be called on to pinch hit. (Like helping my four year-old in the bath or playing with the baby.) This is just part of our family. They do not get paid for these chores and we do not give out allowences. (We can't afford to even if we thought allowences to be a good idea.)

So how do our kids come across their spending money? We encourage entrepreneurship. This spring our kids will be putting up a treat table every day for when the school kids get off the bus. (40+ kids live on our street.) Koolaid, cookies etc. made by my children will be available at reasonable prices for the hungry kids. The DH and I will fund the start up and then the kids are expected to tithe and put their earnings back into the business before drawing a salary . On Saturdays we will be holding a "market" in our front yard with various homemade items for sale. Each child will have his own products to make/purchase and be in charge off. This will teach them great business skills and hopefully allow them to run profitable businesses when they get older, rather than just go "get a job".

I recommend the e-book Learning and Earning by Jim Erskine. You may contact him at . It is full of ideas for child operated businesses and inspirational stories of other young entrepreneurs!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Car Issues

Our Dodge Durango was making strange noises so we took it in to the shop today. Sigh... it needs a new engine and it might not be covered by the warranty my DH purchased for said purpose. According to the shop records we missed a couple of oil changes so that may void the coverage. Very frustrating. We are trying so hard to pay off debt and we just seem to keep accruing it. We are going through the Dave Ramsey book and work book and might be going to see him live this week. But ARRGH! The hits just keep coming. But it's okay! The Lord tell us to consider trials of any sort a joy. We just need to keep our eyes on Him and make our hearts malleable for teaching. Still, I'm thinking the Amish horse and buggy thing sounds pretty good right now.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Current Reading

Slow Cooker Classics (Reader's Digest)- to save time and money and beat the eating out or prepared food habit.

The Bread Bible (Rose Levy Beranbaum)- to master the art and eventually make saleable loaves.

Candymaking (Kendrick & Atkinson)- to master the art and eventually make saleable products.

Total Money Make Over (Dave Ramsey)- to GET OUT AND STAY OUT OF DEBT! Whoo... this is a whole other post.

Happy Valentine's Day! I'm off to bake bread and make some heart shaped sugar cookies for my kids to frost and contemplate what lucious dinner to cook the DH. We're sending the kids downstairs early tonight and having a date/movie night. (Watching Fireproof- for the second time.)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Little Lady Reagan

Being a proper lady is serious business- but who needs shoes?

Just let me grab my baby!

I'm ready for my close up!

I'm ready to go shopping!

Little ones sure do like to imitate grown ups. I forget how much they like to watch and follow.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Homemade Thursdays- Pot Roast

Pot roast covered in garlic, onion, mushrooms and Worchestershire sauce.

Made easy in the slow cooker!

Homemade Thursdays is hosted by

Tonight's dinner is pot roast. In an effort to make cooking a good dinner easier, I pulled out the crock pot. I don't use it as often as I could so I'm going to make a habit of using it more. The DH has challenged me to save money. So instead of waiting till the last minute to think about dinner and thus pulling out the frozen prepared food or coaxing the DH to let us go out, I'm going to work on my cooking in the crock pot. A little work in the morning and a good healthy, less expensive dinner, is on its way.

I just plopped my roast in, added a couple of tablespoons of minced garlic, half a chopped onion, some sliced mushrooms, salt, pepper, and liberal dashes of Worchestershire sauce. It's cooking on low and smells great.

I plan on serving mashed potatoes and gravy with it as well as creamed spinach. I also have blackberries to make into a crisp or cobbler.

This is how my DH feels loved- A good homemade dinner that I spent time on. While he understands that some days just don't allow for tons of cooking, he does prefer more cooking and less defrosting and heating.

Pictures of Tay- For Grandmas

My sister, Seven, is 12 years old. She got to choose my clothes today. She likes color.

My brother loves me!

I don't quite have the concept of sitting down yet.

My sisters love me too, but I hate this hat!

I can blow great raspberries these days. Momma thinks I'm starting to teethe.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

This is what happens in Michigan...

...when we have a mid-winter thaw! It was 60 degrees yesterday!! Kids reappeared outside (in shorts and t-shirts of all things).

Out came all the skateboards, bikes and rollerblades.

It isn't quite time for sandcastles but why not build a few snow castles? (In roller blades of course.)

Ahhh... if only it would stay this way. Unfortunately today is raining and the snow returns tomorrow. Still, it was a nice break. I even took little Taylor out in the stroller for a walk up and down the street.