Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Family Who Works Together

We still have lots of projects going on around here.  I thought I would  post a few pictures of the actual work being done.  Devin is finishing up a couple of rogue shutters this morning and is sanding and painting the swing.

Yesterday, however, we left our home projects and went down to Lauren's and helped her move in to a FEMA trailer. You can read about the tornado that hit her house here.   I wish I had taken the camera with us so you could see what is left of the house.  Anyway, we were pleasantly surprised with the size of this trailer.  It has three small bedrooms provided with full sized beds and metal floor-to-ceiling closets.  It also has a large bathroom that is handicap accessible which means there is no tub only a huge shower.  The hallways are very wide, so she may be able to have bookcases along one of the hallways (if she thinks she can keep some monkeys from climbing on them!)  The living area consists of the dining room, living room and kitchen.  It is small and comes furnished with metal table, chairs and end tables, a hide-a-bed sofa and club chair.  The kitchen has metal cabinets but also has a full sized fridge, stove and microwave.  It is fresh and clean, so that is a great blessing!  It will be a change from their large home, but they needed to down size anyway!  Please continue to remember them in prayer.  There is still a HUGE amount of clean  up to be done and some big decisions to be made regarding her health issues and deciding where to go from here as far as buying/building a new  home.  They are both extremely thankful and grateful for the Lord's mercies and for many who have offered physical and monetary help.  It would be so very easy to sink into despair when you see the difficulties that must be overcome, but positive attitudes prevail!

Kaelan is priming the porch railing.

Jackson worked hard on the primer as well!

The next day the real painting began.  Kaelan is smiling here, but she still has paint all over her arms, legs and feet!

Jeff took over for Jackson.

Aaron was a hard worker.

The three beds in the middle to upper part of this photo have lots of compost in them are are doing really well.  Now we have cucumbers blooming in the first bed here along with onions.  Above is our lettuce bed that has been wonderful and beyond that are garden peas that we will be harvesting in the next week or so.  Just waiting for the pods to plump up some more.

While the others were painting, Jordan was adding more compost to some of the beds.  This morning when I checked a few of these tomato plants had tomatoes on them!

Blossoms from the garden pea bed.

Squash blossoms!  We have about 6 kinds of squash in the garden this year.  I hope we have a great crop!

Our two mature blueberry plants are so heavy with berries that Jeff had to stake and tie them up!  

We have a huge bed with mint.  I love mint tea!!  

On the deck we have lots of herbs and some more tomato starts.   Here we have two pots with lettuce, a can with 3-4 heirloom tomato plants and a pot with chocolate mint.  We have many more cans and pots with a huge variety of herbs that we hope will do well and can be moved to permanent beds later.

Jeff and I spent a few moments dreaming together about what we would like to do on our little homestead in the future.  So many plans that will require sacrifice and hard work.  We realize how beneficial this is to our own character and to the character of our children.  Putting up fences, cutting down trees, clearing land to garden, planting, weeding, hoeing, mowing, painting, canning, and just the day-to-day work required in living the "simple" life builds confidence, patience, diligence, obedience, orderliness, attentiveness and so very much more.  We are so grateful for the training ground that the Lord has blessed us with and for all these precious children he has given us to learn and work with.  We are all learning and working together!

 Hip Homeschool Hop Button 

Check out other gardens at Smockity Frocks.

Friday, May 27, 2011

It's Another Work Day

It's another work day around here today.  I've got butter to finish making and need to do some baking and cheese making as well.  A little laundry, lots of dusting, mopping and scrubbing, tossing away and straightening up needs to be done as well.  I used the leaf blower to clean out the beds in front of the house earlier.  I think the boys need to do that once a month!!  What a job that was!  We have so many trees around here that there was a thick layer of leaves under all the shrubs.  Now they can get the weeds pulled.

Jordan is transplanting wild muscadines from the woods into our garden area.  We would love to have muscadine jelly in the pantry!  He also has more basil to set out and then he will help Kaelan and Aaron put the final coat of paint on the trim and railing of the porch.  Pressure washing didn't get done yesterday, so someone will  have to get that done, sticks and trash need to be gathered and burned, our huge yard needs to be mowed and Jeff has a couple of dead trees that he wants down today.  I'll be shorthanded here in the house and all the big kids will be outside working and Devin is teaching all day today.  I  hope to post pictures of all our projects today or tomorrow.  It's been great having everyone concentrating on cleaning up the exterior of the house and a few interior projects are being completed with more planned as well.  We are always learning...whether it be with our books or with our hands!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Project Day

Don't forget to sign up for my current giveaway HERE!!

Today we are working on various projects around the house.  I finished dehydrating my first 50 pound bag of onions.  Of course, we used many of them as we cooked throughout the month, but now I have over a gallon of minced onions for all kinds of uses.  This morning I canned 14 pints of peaches to use for cobblers.  I also bagged up 6 pints to use for smoothies and also bagged up about 8 quarts of strawberries for the freezer as well.

Jeff has been in the garden making a trellis for the cucumbers and the snow peas.  The blueberries are so heavy this year that he has also been staking them up.  I've enjoyed watching him and the little boys work as I hung laundry out to dry!

Jordan is working at The Homeschool Channel this afternoon while Aaron, Kaelan and Jackson paint the trim work and railing around the porch.  Oh, Caedmon and Devin are taking a nap.  Yes, Devin still needs a nap a few days a week!  LOL!  We still need to paint another set of shutters that were missed last Saturday and we will need to finish washing the house with the pressure washer.  Jordan, Aaron and Jackson worked together yesterday to clean and decorate out back deck.  It looks great and after we pressure wash, I'll post some pictures.

I got a good deal on some stew meat the other day and hope to make a huge batch of beef tips in mushroom gravy with it to can.  That project will have to wait until tomorrow thought.  Lots of laundry to finish up, canners to wash up and dinner to cook up!

Hope you all are having a blessed and productive day!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Voices from the Past Giveaway

Kaelan and I have been greatly enjoying this series of audiobooks  Voices from the Past adapted and read by Victoria Botkin.  Kaelan has enjoyed them so much that she requested a personal CD player so she could listen to them on her own in the evenings before bed.  Her favorite so far is A Bride Goes West, but we have really enjoyed them all.  

Today I am offering Abigail Adams:  Her Letters which is a 3 CD set of these delightful audio books.  Abigail Adams has long been a model of a virtuous woman in our home and this CD set was a wonderful addition to our collection of books regarding this Founding Family.  I think you will enjoy this set as well.  Victoria has a very nice voice which makes listening to the letters of Abigail Adams very interesting.  

Any of these CDs would be great for your summertime lessons or a great enhancement as you travel with your family.  We have many great memories of long car trips that were made more bearable by listening to wonderful tapes or CDs.   What a blessing it would be to share these with your family!  

Please leave a comment letting me know that you are interested in winning the Abigail Adams Her Letters collection of CDs.  One comment;  that's all!!  Deadline for entering is midnight, Wednesday, June 1.  The winner will be announced on Thursday, June 2. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Last week we celebrated Kaelan's 12th birthday.  She is such a blessing in our lives and is growing up to be a hard worker who is  very thoughtful of others.  Kaelan and I spent the afternoon together for her birthday.  We went out for lunch and then did lots of shopping.  We spent a good while at a local bookstore selecting a handful of good collector quality books.  She chose two Anne of Green Gables books and Heidi.  Then I surprised her with a trip over to Walmart to get a personal CD player so she could listen to  some audio books and teachings on her own.  We also threw in a little grocery shopping and shopped for a bridal shower.  It was good to have that one-on-one time with Kaelan.  It can be rare in a busy large family!

Devin treated Kaelan to a new outfit, Lauren gave her some perfume and the boys gifted her with money that she is determined to save.  She also received cards and monetary gifts from her grandmothers and a friend.

Our birthday celebrant gets to choose the dinner menu and Kaelan requested a meatless pasta dish that Devin created a while back using jarred (!) spaghetti sauce and alfredo sauce.  We also had a salad from the garden and garlic bread.

My baby girl is growing up!

All of the girls started making their own birthday cakes starting at about the age of 10.  They also do the cakes for the boys, Jeff and I and even the grandchildren at times.  Kaelan made a two layer white cake with a layer of chocolate mint ice cream.  It was delicious!!

Delicious cake!

Kaelan also got a watch that she had picked out the week before.  Now she has no excuse to be late!

Happy birthday, Kaelan!  We love you so much and are so thankful for the wonderful woman that you are becoming!  We pray that you will continue to seek the Lord in all that you do!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Menu Plan for May 23-29

I felt horrible yesterday and didn't get our menu planned until late this morning.  Breakfasts will be yogurt, granola, fruit smoothies, pancakes, eggs and sausage.  Lunches will be leftovers from the evening meal,  herbed yogurt cheese with crackers, popcorn, peaches,  apples or grapes.

beefy nachos with peppers and  onions, refried beans and rice

meat loaf, green beans, corn, stewed potatoes, salad

chicken wraps, salad

meatball stroganoff, rice, green beans, squash, salad

homemade pizzas, salad, dessert

bbq sandwiches, baked beans, potato salad, cole slaw, chocolate sheet cake

beef roast, potatoes, carrots, onions, purple hull peas, squash casserole, green salad, rolls

Family Work Day: Outdoor Version

Saturday the entire family worked outside.  There was much to do!  I decided that I could no longer abide the hunter green doors, trim work and shutters.  I now have red doors and slate gray shutters!

Devin had made this painting for the front door several weeks ago.  It was the inspiration for my color choices.  The walls look so bright after being bleached and pressure washed!

Freshly painted shutters

Even the antique outdoor furniture got a face lift!   Turquoise glider and chair for the front porch.

An orange coffee table and glider for the back deck!

The blooms from the sage planted in the front yard.

The sage is doing wonderfully!
 We also were able to bleach and pressure wash the front of the house.  The sides, back and garage will happen later this week.  We still have to paint all of the hunter green wood work around the porch.  It will be white and it will take a while!  There's a lot of it!

The azaleas were beautiful a few weeks ago!

This storm door will be replaced and that white door also painted red.  And yes, that's me working the pressure washer!  By the end of the day may arms and face were quite red!

Caedmon enjoyed being outside all day and playing in the puddles created by the pressure washer.

We also set out a few more perennials and some herbs and hung some baskets of flowers on the porch.  I need to find a good price on outdoor ceiling fans as the ones on the porch quiet working and look horrible.  It is really nice to sit out on the porch with the fans going in the summer.  It's a great place to make ice cream, shell peas or shuck corn, or just to read a book!  Having it all cleaned up and freshly painted will make it even more enjoyable for our family and creates a welcoming environment for visitors.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Franklin Springs Media Sale at the AFA Store!

The AFA Store (click to go to the AFA Store) has got a great deal on some of my family's favorite dvds from Franklin Springs Media. (click to go to the special sale page)  All dvds are on sale for $9!!  That's just $9!!  And, if you use my special coupon code, ANITA64, at checkout, you will get an extra 10% off your entire purchase.  Really, you will!  How neat is that?  Pictured below you will see links to some of our favorites, but there are lots more to choose from.  Take advantage of this great price and enjoy some family movie time this summer.


Thursday, May 19, 2011


Ever since my canner came in the mail, I have been brainstorming ways to make fast foods with the canner.  One basic that I have done now is turkey broth which will be the basis of a soup and used in casseroles and much more. I hope to can lots of soup, chili, spaghetti sauce and sloppy joe meat soon.

I have also canned pinto beans!  Canned pinto beans have been the basis of a few meals lately and we have really enjoyed them.  One of our favorite ways to enjoy pinto beans is refried beans.  Devin always makes these and they are really tasty.  She takes a quart of beans and puts them in the blender with some salsa (homemade or store bought), some cilantro and cayenne pepper.  She may add salt and garlic if needed.  She pours this into a casserole dish and mixes in some sour cream and tops with cheese.  Into the oven it goes to be heated until the cheese melts.  We've enjoyed these as a side dish with tortilla chips and as a filling for burritos.  Cheap, easy and filling!!

Another recipe using dried beans is a lentil-rice casserole that I adapted from Sue Gregg's Main Dishes Cookbook.  This is a very easy recipe and I can use my home canned chicken or turkey broth.

In a casserole dish combine:

3 cups turkey or chicken broth
3/4 cups uncooked WASHED lentils
1/2 cup uncooked WASHED brown rice
1/4 cup instant minced onion flakes
1/2 t. basil
1/4 t. oregano
1/4 t. thyme
1/4 t. garlic powder

Bake uncovered at 300 degrees for 2 hours until tender.  You may top with 3/4 cup of cheddar cheese if you desire.  I have never done this.  This recipe makes about 3 cups which is 4-6 servings.

This is a great recipe to use your food storage!  Canned broth, lentils, brown rice, minced onion and all the spices are essential to a great food storage plan.  I have been dehydrating onions and will have a great stock of minced onions for my pantry.

Do you have some favorite recipes using dried beans?  Please share a link or a recipe in the comments!

I'm linking up with Kim C over at In a Shoe.  She's not the only one who is trying to cut the grocery bill.  Lots of ladies have linked up some great bean recipes over there, so take a look!

Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to Paula with comment number 5.  She has already been notified that she has won the Victoria Botkin Curriculum Advice CD set.  Her main concern with homeschooling is like so many others:  trying to get it all done!!

Stay tuned for another giveaway coming up next week!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Thoughts to Ponder and a Giveaway Reminder

Just wanted to remind you all that the giveaway for Victoria Botkin's Curriculum Advice vol. 1 and 2 ends tonight at midnight!  Click here to sign up in the comments.

Things are a little chaotic around here with some croupy sounding coughs and little boys who need help with shoes and snacks and jackets and, well, pretty much everything!  The following quotes were posted on FB this morning and I thought I would share them very quickly for you to ponder today. 

Now I am off to take care of some kitchen duties that have been piling up all week.   I also noticed that there are a few piles of laundry that have accumulated in the hallway and lots of muffin crumbs in the dining room and, well, you can imagine what all there is to do today after having a quick dinner last night before heading out for piano recital and then home to quickly get the dishes done and then piled the little ones in the beds.  Twelve people make a little more mess than eight people...especially when three of them are three and under!  I know that the work I do in my home is not only for my benefit, but for the benefit of my family and, if done well and with a thankful attitude, brings glory to God.

"Feminism is mixed up with a muddled idea that women are free when they serve their employers but slaves when they help their husbands." ~G.K. Chesterton
You are as much serving God in looking after your own children, and training them up in God's fear, and minding the house, and making your household a church for God, as you would be if you had been called to lead an army to battle for the Lord of hosts." -Charles Spurgeon.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Wise and Witty Sayings of My Two Little Men

My two little guys can come up with some doozies!!  I have noticed that every time I wear a skirt Caedmon says, "Mom, you're beauful!"  Beautiful in two year old language and then immediately asks me to dance!! Hmmm, what is about about men and women in skirts?

I walked into the kitchen the other day to find Caedmon digging in the sugar bucket.  Yes, bucket!!  I buy in bulk for my big family, remember?  Anyway, he saw me and with his sugar-coated face and hands said, "Look, Mommy!!  It's nummy!!"

It's a plane!

And then on Sunday as we were traveling to church I was talking with Jeff about how my hands were stained from the onions I had been chopping onions all weekend for the dehydrator.  Little ears in the back seat were listening in and a little later Jackson gave me some advice.  "Mom," he said, " I think you need to let Kaelan do more cooking in the kitchen.  You are getting too old for all that chopping and cooking!"  Bless his heart!  He'll be looking out for his old momma for sure one day!

Learning to chop firewood.

Now that's a face that will melt your heart for sure!

I am so very thankful for these future men that God gave me in my 40's!  What a blessing we would have missed out on if we followed the wisdom of the world.  God's ways are always better....even if on some days I feel like Sarah!

Linked up at Titus 2sday!
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