Sunday, June 30, 2013

Meal Plan

Alan has declared that he is a wee bit tired of hot dogs so I actually must get creative and leave them off this week. :)  I guess a few too many camp type meals as of late.

S: French toast (B), Liam's birthday meal out (L), chicken caesar wraps/leftovers (D)
M: eggs and potatoes (B), pbj (L), beef teriyaki (D)
T: oatmeal (B), chicken salad sandwiches (L), crock pot macaroni and cheese (D)
W: cereal (B), tuna melts (L), crock pot broccoli beef (D)
T: muffins (B), leftovers (L), hamburgers (D)
F: oatmeal (B), pbj (L), baked ziti (D)
S: not sure (B), leftovers (L), pizza (D)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Happy Birthday Liam!

Today Liam turned 10.  This a big milestone. Not only do you hit double digits, you get an allowance (and a few more chores) and an ID card (once your parents take care of it).

His birthday started with the end of the boys' campout. In other words, he woke up totally soaked.  It's been raining a wee little bit.  We would have gone out to get his birthday gift but instead Dad required a visit to urgent care so we'll take care of that tomorrow after his birthday lunch out.  Granted, he has been kept totally happy with the box full of duct tape he got from his Grandparents and a LEGO game from his cousins.  He was even nice enough to share. Katie made a cake for him, Ellie tried to eat half of it, and Sean covered the damage with orange frosting.  Yup, it's been a typical birthday around here.

Frontier Girls Bonfire Night

A few brave families decided to brave the weather on Thursday night and come out for our family bonfire night.  We got the fire going and dinner cooking, then the skies opened up.

 So we moved the festivities inside.  Everyone went home fed, wet, and hopefully happy.

Here's hoping next year the weather will cooperate with us a bit more.

Monday, June 24, 2013


Sigh, we seem to have a broken oven. Hoping it will be an easy fix. Not because I truly need an oven normally. I can do just about anything in a crock pot (which reminds me, I really need to get dinner going).  But we have a birthday on Saturday and the birthday child has requested enchiladas. Those just are not the same in the crock pot. And making enough to feed us in a crock pot will require actually pulling out the roaster instead and using it as a crock pot.  And there is the making of the birthday cake thing.  Yup, kind of a sucky week to have the oven stop working right. So time to revamp the meal plan a bit.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Meal Plan

This is the chaotic birthday week edition.

S: donuts (B), leftovers (L), ham and scalloped potatoes (D)
M: oatmeal (B), sandwiches and fruit (L), Italian sausage pasta sauce with pasta, of course (D)
T: eggs (B), sandwiches (L), tacos (D)
W: cereal (B), leftovers (L), Mexican haystacks (D)
T: breakfast casserole (B), tuna sandwiches (L), Frontier Girls bonfire night (D)
F: muffins (B), leftovers (L), boys' campout night - hopefully they'll make a few hot dogs for those of us stuck in the house (D)
S: cereal (B), FFY (L), green chili chicken enchiladas and chocolate cake (D)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Dairy Goats

The trip to the zoo brought up an interesting question to ponder. We keep jokingly saying that we just need to invest in a cow given that we can easily go through over 20 gallons of milk in a month.  While at the zoo, Kieran spent quite a bit of time reading all the information at the goat exhibit and then told us that perhaps we should invest in a dairy goat instead of a cow because they would be easier to take care of and require less land.  The crazy thing is that now we are actually considering it a little bit. At least enough to start doing some research on the topic. I'm not so sure I could get used to drinking goat's milk but I'd love the chance to make cheese and such things with it.  So now onto the research phase and wrapping my mind around the fact that I no longer find such suggestions to be odd.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Lions and Tigers and Bears

Ok, not really because we went to our local zoo so they don't really have so many animals.  Lion, yes. Tigers, no. And the bears were no where to be seen today.  But when Alan got to work yesterday he discovered that he actually had that day and the next day off. He just sort of forgot. So he stayed at work on Thursday and then took today off.  Alan had all sorts of plans for the day that mostly involved farm related work but I suggested that we take the kids to the zoo instead.  So we loaded them up, got most of the way there, and blew a tire.  On the van. After about an hour and having a child stand on the  tire iron to see if the bolts would loosen (nope, but Alan did get hit in the leg) and some help from a few local folks, we finally got the tire changed.  About 5 minutes after I'd called the roadside assistance folks to come do it.  Now if I'd been alone, that would have been the first call I made because even though I know how to change a tire and can do so, changing the tires on the van involve a bit more work than normal and that's kind of what we pay for the roadside assistance for in the first place. So now instead of just needing 2 new tires on the van, we likely will end up having to replace all 4 because, of course, it wasn't one of the older ones that got hit with a nail.
So we finally made it to the zoo and everyone had a great time. There are lots of baby animals who have just been born. Very cute little things.

This was our first zoo trip without a stroller. Very odd for me.  Ellie absolutely enjoyed herself and the older kids were wonderful with her. I think the only complaint the kids had was that I refused to buy food at the zoo. Because I'm just so mean.

  I love that our local zoo is small enough to get through in 2 hours and yet keeps growing enough to have new things to enjoy. Of course, I would be rather annoyed if we actually paid a daily admission rate when we wee visiting the area because it is rather small (comparing it the zoo in Tampa). But I guess the benefit of the membership is you can go for a few hours and then come back another day and not worry. And for a family of 11 the membership is cheaper than one days admission anyway.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Meal Plan Time Again

It's time once again to come up with a meal plan.  You'd think this would be an easy task given that the house is absolutely full of food.  And yet, I always struggle with coming up with fresh ideas. There have been a few requests for the week (Kieran has requested steak and bleu cheese roll-ups which are delicious but definitely one of our more expensive meals) and we have the leftover hot dogs and buns from the bonfire night that was cancelled due to days and days of constant rain.  The yard is looking decidedly wet and muddy at the moment.

S: Dad says he is cooking (B), FFY (L), grilled pork chops (D)
M: oatmeal (B), pbj (L), chicken divan (D)
T: eggs (B), grilled cheese (L), hot dogs/bratwurst (D)
W: cereal (B), leftovers (L), steak and bleu cheese roll-ups (D)
T: yogurt and granola (B), tuna sandwiches (L), bean and cheese enchiladas (D)
F: cranberry bread (B), leftovers (L), BBQ chicken legs (D)
S: biscuits and gravy (B), FFY (L), pizza (D)

I'm starting to debate the merits of planning meals on a twice monthly basis instead of every week.  I'm not sure if that would be beneficial to us or not at this point.  I may have to give it a try soon.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The $5 Grin

This was the best $5 we have spent in a long time. Just look at that grin.


He clearly has a rough life.
She just sat still and ate.
We did our first round of strawberry picking today. I say first round because we often need a bit more strawberries than we got today to see us through the year but we've learned it is best to get them in batches so as not to become overwhelmed with processing them. I'm hoping to make several batches of strawberry jam and triple berry jam as well as some strawberry syrup.  And just put some in the freezer for later in the year.

I only took 6 of the kids with me since Alan took 3 of the boys to go work on the farm.  The ladies working at the strawberry fields already thought our crew was a large family until the children informed them that a bunch of kids had been left behind to do other work.  Call me crazy, but I love the incredulous looks on people's faces when they learn something of that sort. Followed by the sheer amazement in their voices as they say "And your kids are just so well behaved."  Because, of course, you must always be shocked by children behaving as they should I suppose.  Ah well. We had a good time and the kids are looking forward to going again.
These two were my big kid crew today.
The fruits of our labor.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Bryan officially has his permit and Alan has taken him for his first drive. I think I will let  Alan handle breaking him in for a few weeks before letting him take over the drives to karate. He's very happy but will have to wait 6 months minimum for a license (NY State law) which is a slight bummer since I was kind of looking forward to help with the driving a bit before that. But now we start our next adventure.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Weekend in Pictures

Building a new sheep pen.

Ellie wearing muck boots and carrying a golf club just totally sums up the way things work around here. Watching to make sure Liam does things properly.

This is just a pure Katie picture. 

The younger crews' version of being helpful.


The sheep enjoying their new pen (now we hopefully won't find them in the cornfield across the street.)

Some of the chickens.

Guinness hanging out by the barn (or the Beer Dog as a friend has taken to calling him).

Meal Plan

I've decided that it just might be easier to try meal planning before going shopping rather than after. But, hey, why mess with what seems to work. And sometimes drive me bonkers.

M: cereal (B), pbj (L), taco soup (D)
T: eggs (B), grilled cheese (L), crock pot lemon chicken - can you read lemon chicken without thinking of Everybody Loves Raymond because we can't but perhaps you are slightly more sophisticated than we are around here (D)
W: oatmeal (B), tuna sandwiches (L), either pulled pork of BBQ beef sandwiches depending on which roast gets pulled out of the freezer (D)
T: pumpkin bread (B), leftovers (L), Frontier Girl bonfire night so hot dogs and such things (D)
F: crock pot breakfast casserole (B), leftovers or sandwiches (L), chicken and rice with asparagus (D)
S: breakfast sandwiches (B), FFY (L), pizza (D)

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Just a Song

It's getting fairly close to Father's Day so I just thought I'd share this song. Yes, I know it's early. That's how I'm doing things right now.  Round about the 6th of every month I get fairly depressed and spend some time on youtube listening to music because, well, that's what you do at times. Because you can't feel much of anything at other times because if you ever start crying, you'll never stop. So you lock it up and pretend it's not there because no one really can handle hearing it anyway. Anyway, I stumbled upon this song. I've always loved it.  Sharing it with you because it is fairly awesome from a message stand point even if country isn't your thing. So just ignore my pathetic rambling and listen to the song. And share it with a Dad you know.

Chicken Satay For Real

Ok, we finally did it. We finally managed to pulled the chicken satay out of the freezer, toss it on the grill, and serve it for dinner. And everyone loved it.  Yet again one of those times when I must admit to myself that my children are nothing like what I remember in my family growing up. They are adventurous eaters who willing try a whole host of foods that deviate from standard American fare. I know I've heard it said many times that your palette just develops more as an adult but I really am starting to think that is a bunch of hooey.  Yes, you often expand upon what you eat as a adult but I truly see a benefit in attempting to expose your kids to a wider variety of food when they are younger.  Beyond the benefits of finding cheaper and healthier foods, it keeps things much more interesting.  So I'm thinking the next time I have room in the freezer for some freezer meals, chicken satay will be made again.  But that might take a while since we still have most of the the pig, almost half a cow, 2 turkeys, 2 chickens, and a bunch of other stuff. There are much worse things in life than having freezers that are slightly full, that's all I can say. I just hope we can get them empty enough by January to get the lamb in.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Donut Day

One of those small simple ways to add a little fun into our daily routine. Today is National Donut Day so we celebrated with donuts and coffee for breakfast. Yes, the kids had coffee. Heavy on the milk for most of them.
I do realize that today is a feast day as well. We'll hit that celebration with dessert tonight.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


Have you started using SavingStar yet? It's a super easy way to earn a few extra dollars while doing your grocery shopping.  You just load their coupons onto your grocery store loyalty card.  When checking out, scan our card and any purchases made using the coupons you loaded count towards your SavingStar account. So rather than having the coupons take money off at the register, the money accrues separately. Once you reach $5 in your SavingStar account, you are able to redeem the money for a gift card, paypal payout or have it sent directly to your bank account.  Assuming you are only buying products you would have already purchased, this works out to free money for doing what you already do. I just cashed in my credits for an Amazon gift card this morning and received it in less than 10 minutes.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Meal Plan

This will be a try to keep the house cool edition of the meal plan. It has cooled down today and should hopefully stay cooler over the next day or so but I am still hoping I can avoid turning the oven on as much as possible.

M: egg sandwiches (B), chicken salad (L), sloppy joes in the crock pot for the kids, date night for Mom and Dad and I'm not sure what we will be making yet (D)
T: oatmeal (B), grilled cheese (L), beef teriyaki with pineapple (D)
W: cranberry bread and fruit (B), tuna sandwiches (L), pork chops and rice (D)
T: eggs (B), leftovers (L), I have heard talk of a Boy Scout picnic we are expected to attend so I will assume we will be there and are required to bring drinks (D)
F: vanilla muffins and apple butter because I have a ton of it in the pantry that we keep forgetting to bring upstairs during the year and yet I know I'll make more in the fall because it is delicious (B), sandwiches or leftovers depending on the state of the fridge (L), chicken satay because we still haven't pulled it out of the freezer because we keep ending up planning it on a night when life goes crazy (D)

I really need to get back to planning snacks and such things because that is where the budget often takes a hit. Nectarines and bananas must be eaten first, we have some baby carrots, I might make rice crispy treats assuming all the ingredients are still in the house, I'm fairly certain the kids have already eaten all of the snack type things I brought home from the store on Friday so those are out, watermelon will be eaten this week as well.

Abby's Dessert

I've been wanting to take a break from ice cream on Sunday nights for our Sundae's on Sunday tradition for a while.  Mostly because it seems I can't eat ice cream myself anymore without feeling sick which is truly quite a bummer. We wanted to start adding small simple traditions to our daily life but sometime the same old thing gets a bit boring for Mom and Dad.

This week Abby helped me make a banana split dessert. I seem to recall my Mom making something of this sort a time or two when we were growing up but I'm not sure if this was it.  I looked at a few recipes on-line and then tweaked them a bit to match what we had in the house at the time. We ended up with something simple, almost no-bake but decidedly not a healthy dessert. Alan claims it can be considered healthy because it has bananas and pineapple in it. I'm not sure if we really want to go down that road because I can see the absolute potential for truly abusing that kind of a rule.  Anyway, here's what we did just in case you want to try it yourself.
Mix about 2 cups of crushed graham crackers with 1 stick of melted butter. Spread in the bottom of a 9 by 13 pan and bake for 5 minutes or so.  Combine 16 oz of softened cream cheese with 2 cups of powdered sugar and layer on top of the crust.  Next cut up 3 bananas and layer those on.   Top with one can of drained crushed pineapple.  The next layer is a container of cool-whip type whipped cream stuff.  Then you can add marachino cherries or chocolate or nuts or whatever you might like or have around. Like I said, not healthy but sometimes it is nice to just not worry about such things.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Home Depot Saturday

After dropping the older 3 boys off at a Boy Scout service project, the younger 6 went with me to Home Depot today for the kids' workshop.  I relearned a lesson today: a two-year-old will not just sit and watch everyone else build and be ok with it.  She wants to do her own project and have something to take home to show Dad, too.  Why I have to relearn this with each successive child I'm really not sure.  Where the child gets her stubborn streak, that one I can tell you easily.
So we brought home 6 lawnmower pencil organizers.  Very nifty looking and super easy to make. Even if I did refuse to allow them to paint their projects this time. No pictures of the kids in action because I'm still getting back into the routine of doing such projects alone with 6 kids so I just left the camera at home. I've become way too dependent lately on the older boys and Alan. Guess I've gotten used to having an extra set of helping hands around.  Shocking thing.  I really need to relearn how not to depend on them so much.