Monday, October 31, 2011

Monday Meaderings

What a busy weekend. It would have been a whole lot busier if the kids hadn't got sick. Sometimes I think sickness is the only way God can bring sanity back into our schedule. While I was at a MOPS leadership meeting Friday night, Michael took Josiah and Hailey to a Hallelujah Party at a local church. We went last year and really liked it. They do praise and worship and lots of fun games and prizes, without all the scary stuff. I was really proud of Michael for dressing up and taking them by himself. I'm usually the one who does that. 

Hailey was Rapunzel.

Josiah is still hooked on his kilt.

On Saturday, the kids and I were feeling a bit under the weather, so we stayed home from the homeschool picnic we were going to go to, and processed lots and lots of apples. The kids were a big help this year!

After making apple juice, using my steamer/juicer, I broke out the Squeezo steamed apples through it. This is like a kid's dream kitchen tool. It is really safe for them to use, too.

This is seriously, the coolest device ever - "The Squeezo". You feed the stuff through the hopper, turn the crank and it goes through a screen and "poops" out the peel, seeds and core material. It has different sized screens, so you can do tomatoes or even something as small as raspberries. It poops the seeds right out. Awesome!

The pulp goes into a bowl. We freeze the apple sauce (I use it for cooking only since it is a little dry and thick because I take a lot of the juice out first). We also used the apple/corer/slicer to prepare apples for drying. It was a long day, but we got it all done. Was bummed to miss the homeschool picnic, but glad the kids were inside and not getting any sicker.

On Sunday, the kids were still not up to par with their colds, so Michael stayed home from church with them. Instead of going to our church's harvest party, we decided to stay home with the kids and invite a couple of friends over. It turned into a fun kilt party. Our friend just got a kilt and was looking for his first opportunity to wear it. Of course, we were more than happy to comply! Have I mentioned that our family loves to dress up? We love it when we can find friends to dress up with, too!

His son was wearing his kilt with the addition of a new belt and rabbit fur sporran. Does it get any cuter than that? 

So even though our original plans changed, we still had a lot of fun. God is so good! Since it is Halloween tonight, we are simply going to turn it into a family night. I see pajamas, popcorn and some "Smash Lab" in our near future :o)

God Bless and Happy Harvest!

Jackie

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

May My Life Be Like A River

When I look at these photos, it sure makes me count my blessings. Man, I love these children! Even though they drive me crazy or drive me to exhaustion, it is all worth it. I love that both my kids come up to me out of the blue, multiple times a day to tell me they love me. Hailey says, "I love you even when you discipline me." Does it get any better than that? 

I praise God He loves me enough to discipline me. I'm getting to a place in my spiritual walk, where I'm wanting Him to keep me on the straight and narrow path. I want to keep in step with Him always. Of course he has to discipline me to do it, but it is worth it to get back under His wing of protection.


I'm seeing glimpses of fruit in my children's lives, especially Josiah right now. I'm starting to see that the hard work of training is worth it. The other day, Josiah's AWANAS teacher told my neighbor that she noticed Josiah was really growing up and becoming a fine young man. Last year, we were getting a bad report every other week. Since he's started the new year, there hasn't been a bad report yet. This is a good reminder to me that every season in parenting is temporary. They really are paying attention and learning. All the training we do does have its benefits. 

Even though we still have our intense moments, they are fewer and farther between. So much of that is because of MY willingness to change. God has been working on me big time with my anger and frustration level, especially my natural tendency to yell and be sarcastic. It still happens every now and then, but nothing like it was. As I keep working on this character flaw of mine, I pray that one day (sooner rather than later), it will be gone completely. I want to "Lead with cords of human kindness, with ties of love." Hosea 11:4. I pray that nearly every morning and I will until the day I die if I have to.

I want my home to resemble this river. Calm, yet flowing. Peaceful, yet still moving. Still getting the job done. Still running the race. These cute, active, challenging redheads in my life have made me face myself. My pure selfishness at times. God is using them to refine me in a whole new way. My faith has been stretched sometimes to the breaking point, but still I hold on, even by a thread. When I gain perspective again, I always come out of the difficult situation with my faith stronger than it was. "For God works to the good of those who love him and are called according to His purpose" Roman 8:28 - my life verse.

If you are having a hard season with your children, marriage, employment situation, ministry, etc. I hope this encourages you today. God loves us too much to let us remain stagnant in our faith. Let our faith be like a flowing river instead. Sometimes we'll have calm moments, sometimes we'll have rapids in our lives, but we always need to keep moving towards the prize.

God Bless,
Jackie

Monday, October 24, 2011

Joe's "To-Die-For" Sweet Chili Nectarine Salsa Recipe

I was at a birthday party a couple of months ago and made the mistake of sitting too close to the salsa bowl. My friend's husband, Joe, had made this sweet salsa that I seriously could not stop eating. I almost made myself sick on it, LOL. I finally had to put my hands up and back away from the bowl!  Since then, I've been making it quite a bit. Most kids really like this salsa, too. Joe has given me permission to post his recipe.

Joe's "To-Die-For" Sweet Chili Nectarine Salsa Recipe
6 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 nectarines, peels on, chopped
1 bunch of cilantro
1 Tbl fresh finely chopped basil leaves
1/3 cup of Franky's Sweet Red Hot Chili Sauce (made with sugar, not corn syrup)
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all together and you've got a new salsa favorite! Just be careful about sitting too close to the bowl, LOL.

This recipe makes about 1 quart of salsa.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

MOPS Pumpkin Patch Play Date

We had a great time meeting up with our local MOPS group at the Pumpkin Patch. The kids played for 2 solid hours. Hailey's favorite part was getting to pet the steer while he was eating.

Josiah joined in.

They have a really great maze built from straw bales. I liked it it except I don't know why they felt they needed to add some scary elements to it. Totally unnecessary! In fact it would be more fun without it. 

 The rest of the pics in this post were taken by a budding teenage photographer, Janie, who is in our homeschool group and also is the main babysitter for our MOPS group. I always love seeing what she comes up with. Gorgeous view of the mountains.

Josiah with his good friend, Mitch, as they listened to the story while sitting on straw bales and drinking apple cider.

Mitch's younger brother, Max, is Hailey's age. They are also listening to the story. Love this pic!

Janie snapped this pic of Hailey and I. It was my favorite pic of the day. In fact, I'm now using it as my Facebook profile pic. 

Each kid got to pick out a pumpkin. We do allow the kids to carve pumpkins, but only happy faces :o) Looking forward to the Hallelujah Party coming up this week. The kids will get to dress up in their non-scary costumes and go to a carnival at a local church.  As for the actual day of Halloween, we have turned it into a "Family Night" and the kids are just fine with it. This will be our second year of not celebrating Halloween. I was worried the kids would have a hard time adjusting, but we simply brought in new traditions and they are very happy with the change. They know we can find other ways to have fun without all the scary stuff that is contrary to what Scripture teaches. Some may view this as legalistic, but the more I read the Word, I believe Christians shouldn't compromise on this one. Why are we teaching our kids that it is fun to be "scared" when scripture tells us not to fear? It just doesn't make sense to me. O.K., I'll get off my soap box now. 

We are going to start working on getting our garden ready for winter today. Everything has been pulled up and thrown into the compost pile last week. Now we are going to add cardboard to the beds, then spread the compost on top of it. Maybe by next week the leaves will be falling and we'll be able to start putting a thick layer of leaves over the cardboard and compost to let it "work" over the winter.

Hope you all are having a wonderful fall. It has been absolutely beautiful so far. 

God Bless,
Jackie

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday Meaderings

Thought I would do a catch up post. Still been too busy to blog much. Josiah took this pic of my twin sis, Stacie and I, when she was up for a visit last week. She came up all by herself to relax. Her husband was gracious enough to take all 6 of her children to the beach so that she could have a time of rest. We had so much fun. I was able to take her to a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) meeting as well as the women's weekly bible study I'm a part of. It was so fun to be able to show her off and for her to meet my friends. I was sad for her to leave though. I miss her so much, but I'm thankful we are able to call each other often.

It has been a fabulous year for tomatoes around here. My 20 tomato plants (think I'll scale back a little next year) produced more than we could handle. My freezer is full of diced tomatoes, frozen salsa and tomato sauce. 

My mom came over and helped me make freezer salsa for the first time. It was so nice having her help and being able to visit, too.

I quickly learned that tomato sauce isn't worth the effort in my opinion. 5 gallons of tomatoes ended up equaling about 1 gallon of tomato sauce. 

We pulled out our entire garden this weekend and saved a bunch of seed. Here are some seeds that are drying. After they are completely dried, I put them in labeled paper sacks and staple the tops down. Easy peasy! I'm hoping to save myself a bunch of money next year when I plant. The beauty of heirloom gardening! 

We were listening to bagpipe music the other day and Josiah grabs the paper, staples, tape and yard. He quickly whips up a paper bagpipe and comes out in his kilt and hat to play. Just cracked me up!

Front view of my piper.

Michael tried teaching Hailey how to braid. He tied three strands of yard to her toe. She pretty much just twisted it, but she had a great time doing it and it kept her occupied for quite awhile.

Hailey and Josiah are just like me. They love puzzles. The hardest part is getting them to work together to complete a puzzle - not against each other. I don't know if it is the red hair or what, but they are both so competitive. I was thrilled when I saw them complete this whole puzzle without getting on each other's nerves. 

Yay, teamwork! It's a good thing ;o)

We started the homeschool "show and tell" time at the library again. We had two or three times the amount of families we did last year. It is exciting to see the homeschool community growing by such leaps and bounds. Our children's librarian even got a grant for buy specifically homeschool materials and we now have our own section. How cool is that?

Our family joined the Celtic Society of Eastern Oregon and Michael was voted in the Sergeant of Arms for that group. 

We have also started seriously looking into Civil War reenacting. Unfortunately, it is pretty expensive. Hoping to start buying one item a month for Michael's uniform. We found a Cavalry unit out of Eastern Oregon and can join up as dismounted Cavalry as soon as we can get Michael's uniform together. Buying the proper gun is the real expense. Everything else can come later. We would probably only get to go to one or two events per year, so it isn't much of a time commitment. 

Homeschooling is going really well. Still working on attitudes (including mine), but it is much better than last year at this time. It is exciting to see their progress. My biggest challenge is to keep from getting too busy! I'm sure you can all relate :o) Sometimes we have to say no, even to good things.

God Bless,
Jackie

Friday, October 14, 2011

Best Yard Sale Picks of the Season

 Here I am "without one plea", showing off the hand-made apron I got at a yard sale. It even had matching potholders. Josiah took this pic of me at the end of a very long Monday (my cooking/laundry day). 

I had the opportunity to go yard saling quite a bit in August and September. I mostly went by myself with the kids since Michael was usually out of town or hunting. My kids have grown to love yard sales. My strategy for keeping them content is lots of snacks, water and a "Hank the Cowdog" book on tape. Then they don't want to get out at every sale because they are listening to "Hank". I also promise that if they are good, they will get to split an Italian soda from Dutch Bros. This is a real treat for them. 

I love yard sales because I'm able to purchase or upgrade on things I normally wouldn't be able to afford. They are indeed a blessings for our family. There is sort of a thrill in it, too, like you are treasure hunting! Even Michael likes to go when he can.
My sis was able to hit a few yard sales with me when she came up for Hailey's birthday. She got this NICE "Tangled" tower that works perfectly in Hailey's room because it is tall and skinny. So glad we were able to get her a doll house in her room finally :) She plays with it all the time and Stacie even got her a "Tangled" doll to go with it. Stacie got this for $10 and it was in awesome condition.

I know I already posted this pic, but just had to say again how thrilled I was to pick up this Spanish lace shawl, vintage shirt and sash to complete my Civil War reenactment outfit. I think I paid $6 for all.

Hailey spotted this Playmobile set for only $3. It was still in the box and only had TWO pieces missing! She loves it!

I was thrilled to freshen up our bedroom with a new look. This bedding, complete with shams, a pillow and bedskirt, all for drumroll please....$10! It is in perfect condition and matches the other decor in the room perfectly. Lovin' the change!
As usual, I was able to freshen up my wardrobe this summer. I got all this and more for less than $10. The dress on the left is a vintage 50's dress with old lace. Always love vintage and it was just my size!

Found this leather jacket from the Worthington Coat Factory at the MOPS yard sale. I love it! 

Of course, I got countless other items we needed for the household or homeschooling . The kids got so many toys, that we've had to purge again the other day. That is the only bad thing about yard saling with kids. Everyone wants to give them something. It gets a little crazy after awhile and I have to purge, sometimes when they aren't looking ;)

Hope you are all having a great fall so far. We've already started making hot chocolate and easy homemade marshmallows, so it feels officially fall around here. Picking the rest of the garden today and tomorrow. Will miss the garden, but will enjoy a little break from it as well :)

God Bless,
Jackie

Friday, October 7, 2011

Shepherd's Pie Recipe


We always eat Shepherd's Pie for supper on Christmas Eve in honor of the shepherds who came to see baby Jesus. This is a great recipe to load up or "hide" as many veggies at you can. I also quadruple the recipe and freeze four casseroles at a time. It can be easily made non-dairy or gluten-free. This is a great dish to take to a potluck, too.

Shepherd's Pie Recipe:
2 cups ground beef
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 tsp coconut oil
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 to 2tsp Celtic Sea salt
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 to 4 cups fresh or thawed, previously frozen veggies such as carrots, peas, green beans, corn
1 cup fresh or frozen, kale, chard or spinach, chopped (optional)
2 cups, approx homemade beef or cream of mushroom condensed soup (can be made, non-dairy and gluten-free)
3 to 4 cups mashed potatoes, I like to add a little butter and sour cream to these, but you don't have to
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional) 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Get about 1 or 2 lbs, potatoes quartered then boiling. In a large saute pan, brown hamburger in oil and drain. Add onion and garlic and saute until tender. Add salt, pepper, thyme. Mix in veggies and soup. Pour mixture into a greased 9 x 13 pan.

When potatoes are done, drain and then mash (I use my Kitchen Aid and add some butter and sour cream). Spoon mashed potatoes over the meat and veggie mixture as evenly as you can. Sprinkle with the shredded cheddar. 

Bake at 375 degrees F for 35 to 45 minutes. 

*Note - I make my make my basic condensed soup in large batches and then freeze in pint jars so I just thaw out and pour. I often times brown a whole bunch of hamburger and freeze it. You can do the same thing with the mashed potatoes. Makes this recipe super easy. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Bringing in the Harvest

This is just a small sampling of why we've been so busy. Because of getting our garden in late due to the weird weather, everything finally came on all at once near the end of August. We have a very large garden and we I using every inch of space. It has been a fabulous year for tomatoes and peppers. God has blessed us richly in this area, now it is my job to bring in the harvest! The kids have been much more help this year. They helped me freeze four and half gallons of sliced carrots this year. Carrots are big job and it was nice to have some help. They also helped pick green beans and tomatoes and we had lots to give away to friends. We are making freezer salsa for the first time today with my mom. I'll let you know if it turns out well. 

This is what our salads are looking like these days. We are using fresh green chard, cukes, cherry tomatoes and my favorites are these "atomic red" carrots. Seriously, aren't they beautiful? Love the flavor, too! I'm going to miss all these fresh veggies. When we prepare our garden beds for winter, I'm going to see what we can do about trying to grow some lettuce and spinach throughout the winter. It would save us a lot of money and be healthier, too.

I've been making lots of healthy, whole wheat zucchini bread for breakfast and snacks. See the post before this one for the recipe or just click on this link

This kids and I decorated for fall on the first day of autumn. It seemed kind of weird this year since we are having such a late summer, but time marches on. This is the centerpiece for my dining room table.

I started looking for fall decorations at yard sales last year when we decided to celebrate fall and the harvest instead of Halloween. The kids don't seem to miss it at all since we've replaced the Halloween items with these beautiful finds.

Josiah decorated the covered porch entry. He used corn stalks from our garden, and placed dried corn beside the white pumpkins he grew in his portion of the garden. I thought he did a really good job.

Since we've been going yard saling the last few weekends, I've found some nice things and I thought I'd do a 2011 yard sale season "treasure" post next.

Hope to have time to catch up with all of you soon :)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Healthy, Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread Recipe

This recipe is for you, Leslie. I got this out of the MOPS cookbook, but changed it up to make is healthy. If you are looking for a inexpensive, easy breakfast/snack for your kids or something to take to a potluck, this stuff is always a hit. 

Healthy, Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread Recipe
3 eggs
2 cups sucanat
2 cups grated or ground zucchini
1 c butter (you could also do 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup applesauce)
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp Celtic sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 F. Mix together all liquids and then add all the dry ingredients (I just turn on my Kitchen Aid and start dumping). Pour into 2 greased 9x5 loaf pans and bake for 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes, then remove from pan to cool completely. This recipe freezes well.

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