Monday, September 30, 2013

Pantry Pictures

Ok, this is in answer to a request. And, yes, I am one of those people who strongly believes that every family should maintain a decent sized stockpile of food in their homes. No, I don't think 2 weeks is enough. I think you really should be trying for 3 months at a minimum because you just never know when your situation may change. You may get hit by bad weather or sickness keeping you from leaving the house. You may suffer a job loss, reduction in income or sudden increase in bills. You may have family members or friends who are suddenly in need of help.   All of those reasons could cause you to need access to a readily available supply of already purchased food.

These two pictures focus pretty much on the home canned food. We also put 50+ pounds of chicken into the freezer over the weekend and I am planning to still do a batch of grape jelly and hopefully some sauerkraut (if we can figure out what we did wrong last time).  What you don't see are the 50+ pounds of pasta, tons of frozen peppers, extra canned tomato products, the butter, cream cheese, apples, and cabbage in the fridge, the flour and sugar I keep in the spare fridge (not turned on except during meat delivery season), the onions we harvested this year that are stored upstairs for the winter, and a few other pantry supplies. I also do my best to store those things like toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, detergent, and such things that you would want to buy no matter what but those are kept in the bathrooms. With our current supplies, if Alan gets laid off for some reason, I could avoid shopping except for milk and the occasional fresh produce for several months. The current lack of flour and sugar would send me to the store before anything else but I tend to stock up on those during the October-December holiday sales.

Meal Plan

M: cereal (B), taco soup (D)
T: breakfast sandwiches (B), cabbage casserole (D)
W: baked oatmeal (B), mac and cheese (D)
T: yogurt and granola (B), chicken soup (D)
F: cereal (B), bean burritos (B)
S: waffles (B), pizza (D)

Snacks this week are carrots, celery, apples, radishes, animal crackers, and rice crispy treats.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Been Busy

Been busy canning and freezing and such things. So not much new to report. Other than a 25 lb bag of rice translates to 4 gallons of rice. I'm wondering how much space 25 lbs of popcorn kernels would take up but we'd probably be better off finding someone to split a bag of popcorn of that size with.  We are going to give making sauerkraut one more try hopefully tonight (the last attempt did not turn out well, it is supposed to be a super simple process so I have no clue what went wrong). I also need to can some apricots, make one more batch of apple jelly, and we'll hopefully pull enough grapes off the vines for a batch of grape jelly. Then I think I will be done canning for the time being. I got a bit crazy and started emptying the open canning jars in the fridge and putting the contents in other containers so I could reuse the jars. Now to just figure out how to adapt our diet over the next 6/8 months to use up all the jars of pickled peppers. Since they are a mix of spicy and sweet peppers, I imagine they'll just get tossed on sandwiches a lot.  Anyway, the pantry is looking awesome and it is now time to refocus on stocking up on baking supplies during the holiday sales. We missed most of the sales last year and actually have had to pay full price for flour which totally stinks.  Anyway, hopefully soon we'll be back to our normal schedule and have pictures and such things.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Stokoe Farms 2013

                                                                                                                     Last weekend was the military appreciation weekend at Stokoe Farms so we got free admission for the entire family.  Translation: the only way we could afford to attend.  Combine that with the discounts Bryan gets for working there this year and we had a fun time.  Bryan was able to provide free admission for his Grandparents and a significant discount on lunch for everyone.

Apple Picking

After processing all of the apples last week that I bought from the produce stand, you'd think I would want to avoid apple picking. But we went this past weekend (in the rain) and got a bunch more apples for the next few months.  Yes, apples will keep in the fridge that long if you store the proper variety.  I'll also be making a few more batches of applesauce, pie filling, apples and cheddar, and cinnamon spiced apples.  Depending on what is left at that point, we may dehydrate a few or try apple fruit leather.  It depends on how the week goes.
Robert was here but was hidden by a few older people.
Grandma and Grandpa even treated us to honey crisp apples which I've always refused to buy in the past because they are just too expensive.

Meal Plan

M: donuts (B), leftovers (D)
T: eggs and toast (B), apple bbq pork chops (D)
W: cereal (B), spaghetti (D)
T: oatmeal (B), chicken and gnocchi soup (D)
F: zucchini or pumpkin bread (B), mac and cheese (D)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Stokoe Farms 5K

Alan and the older 5 children participated in the Stokoe Farms 5K fund raiser run this past weekend. The run raises funds to send live Christmas trees to troops overseas.

This was the second year running for the older two boys and the first for the rest of the kids.  Everyone had an awesome time. Sean came in 11th place or so and everyone finished the race strong.  There are already plans in place for running next year.  No pictures of Sean running because he finished before the folks with the camera but he was there to cheer everyone else on while they finished.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Canning Update

I bought out an entire table labeled day old produce from the produce stand. This netted me 6 large boxes plus several 8 quart baskets full of apples, peppers (both spicy and bell), pears, peaches, apricots, a few zucchini and tomatoes. I traded one box with a mix of apples and peppers for a bag of tomatoes and some last minute housecleaning with a friend. Spotless house out of the deal in time for the Frontier Girls meeting means I definitely made out better on that deal. I have been canning and freezing for two days and still have work ahead of me because the boys picked 16 quarts of pears off our trees and most of the tomatoes are untouched and some of the grapes are ready and I have a box full of bell peppers waiting to be cut up, not to mention the apple peels and cores sitting in the crockpot juicing right now for apple peel jelly and the older apples in the basement freezer I need to use. So the current canning count from the past two days stands at:

7 quarts of pickled peppers
6 12 oz jars of pickled peppers
1 8 oz jar of pickled peppers
21 quarts of applesauce
3 pints of applesauce
10 jars of roasted red pepper spread
6 jars of pear butter
10 jars of apple butter
18 quarts of bell peppers in the freezer

Yes, I had to buy a few new jars.  We have actually had 2 break in the canner this year but they were both my Grandmother's so I figure they have seen more than a few years' worth of use. Now I actually need to take a break and make dinner since I told everyone last night was leftover night.  But I'm sitting here listening to the sound of popping canning lids and enjoying the sight of counters and tables covered in home canned food. The pantry shelves will be looking awfully full tonight.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Meal Plan

S: easy breakfast casserole (B), FFY (L), turkey and stuffing (D)
M: oatmeal cups (B), sandwiches (L), baked 3 cheese chicken pasta (D)
T: eggs and toast (B), sandwiches/leftovers (L), cheesy beef and rice (D)
W: yogurt and granola (B), sandwiches (L), cheese ravioli (D)
T: eggs and bacon (B), FFY (L), pot roast (D)
F: pumpkin bread or cranberry bread (B), sandwiches (L), not a clue yet (D)
S: breakfast cake (B), leftovers (L), pizza (D)

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Meal Plan

Did you ever make up a meal plan on Saturday night and then first thing Sunday morning abandon it in favor of telling the kids to just go grab cereal for breakfast? Nope, I would never ever do such a lazy thing. Nope, not at all.

S: cereal because that extra half hour of sleep was so worth it (B), leftovers (L), finger foods and cupcakes to celebrate the Blessed Mother's birthday (D)
M: eggs in toast (B), packed lunch (L), spicy chicken soup (D)
T: oatmeal cups (B), chicken quesadillas (L), leftovers or sandwiches (D)
W: waffles and apple butter (B), tuna melts (L), bean burritos (D)
T: yogurt (B), sandwiches/leftovers (L), hot dogs (D)
F: cereal (B), grilled cheese (L), spaghetti (D)
S: pumpkin bread (B), leftovers/FFY (L),  pizza (D)

Friday, September 6, 2013

Pictures from our World

Just a few recent pictures from our life lately. Here's  the helicopter Gabe built by himself using the directions in his LEGOClubJr magazine.  If you have LEGO fans in your house, LEGO offers both a regular and a Jr. version of their magazine for free. You have to request a new subscription every two years or so but it's free and all my kid have loved it.
Some of the peaches off our trees this year. This was an awesome year for the peach crop. Sadly the week the kids picked most of the peaches, I got super sick, Alan was out of town, and we were unable to can them.  Truly heart breaking sad to have wasted them.  Seriously. I guess next time I'll try to call a friend to help can them so they don't go to waste.
A special Reese's Pieces snack to go with movie night. You can find the recipe here.
Because we were watching this movie.  I'm liking the idea of themed snacks for movie night. Just might have to try to continue it when possible.

And our version of vanschooling. Or what happens when Mom really needs a break so Dad takes all the kids to karate.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Helicopter Days

Gabe got a LEGOClub Jr. Magazine  in the mail this week.  Included in the magazine were directions for making a helicopter. So he sat down and built a very awesome looking helicopter.  I don't have pictures because Alan took them with his camera. Maybe I'll get them soon.  But he has been playing with the helicopter ever since.  Which caused  Robert to dig out his Hess helicopter to play with.  Which is totally awesome. They are playing together nicely and being rather imaginative. Here is where the problem comes in.

Ellie is in a baby doll phase right now. She often carries the doll with her everywhere right now. Which is rather cute.  Right up until the point where she starts playing with her brothers and they decide to pretend they are chopping the doll's head up with the helicopter blades.  Yes, my children are weird.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Robert Update

Robert has been sick this week with what I had last week.  So the boy was confined to his room watching movies and such things for most of two days (yes, we quarantine the sick ones over a certain age to help prevent getting everyone sick. It may not always work but we try) After settling the younger 3 down for naps yesterday, I took the middle 4 with me to pick up our order from SAMS club.  When we got home, Liam went upstairs to give Robert the rest of his soda.  He comes downstairs to tell me that Robert has blood in his ear.  The poor boy ruptured an ear drum.  For some reason the pediatrician's office was closed at 3:00 on a Tuesday so the two of us headed to urgent care. On the positive side, no one else was there when we got there. On the negative side, they are more expensive than the ped. And I'm fairly certain I could have asked him for just one antibiotic instead of two.  Heck, do you ever feel like you just want to call the doctor and say hey, this is the problem. Can you just call in a prescription for me? Because some days I feel like I wish I could do that and save myself the trip. Anyway, Robert is doing much better today. Not sure if that is the meds or just where he was with the bug since I know once the pain went away in my ear, I started feeling much better, too.  But he'll be laying low for a few more days anyway just in case.

Monday, September 2, 2013

What a Day of School Really Looks Like Around Here

I ran into someone before church yesterday who asked me in a nutshell if homeschooling ever was just pure chaos in our world because, as she put it, you never hear from anyone about trying to read a story over the noise and screaming from the younger ones.  And so this post is for all those moms out there wondering why it is that their life never seems as put together as what everyone else is talking about.

Let me tell you about our day today.  See, I knew that our school year this year would be a rough one.  We are coming off a very crappy year educationally and otherwise.  I'm not sure we taught the kids much of anything last year other than it is possible to face your worst fear, fell like you have walked through hell, and come out on the other side. You won't be the same person, but you can make it through.  I remember telling someone after they asked what the oldest boy was covering for religion last year "Oh, you mean I am supposed to be teaching them something?"  Yup, that kind of a year.  So I knew this year would be rough.  We are behind in every way imaginable.  To make it even worse, we decided  we needed to enroll in a full-service provider this year to give everyone a bit of accountability and back-up support.  And I have 8 students this year.  Yes, eight. And that spoiled rotten toddler terror running around causing background noise.

So I planned for today to be a light day. This week to be a light week. I figured everyone but the older two could do about a half schedule this week and we'll spend the next two weeks working up to a full schedule.  I even pulled out the easiest subjects.  You know, things like handwriting and spelling and the math they were supposed to be doing all summer.  So things should have gone well. But they didn't. One  child spent 2 hours "doing" handwriting. One child spend the same 2 hrs "doing" math.  Another child could not remember the sounds made by 4 letters. The letters in his name.  (Yes, we are still teaching the 6-year-old to read. Crappy year last year, remember?) One child sat down to read a book and discovered that it is not put together properly so half the book is missing. Two other children conveniently managed to lose the discs they need for their math program.  Another kid is apparently not enrolled properly in an on-line course.  Yup, nothing worked today at all. And did I mention the child who is making sure we all know he's sick by fake coughing every 30 seconds? And the two-year-old peeing right through her diaper all over the basement floor which apparently is not laid totally flat because the puddle all ran in one direction right towards a wall, definitely going down hill.

So I decided before my blood pressure goes through the roof, I will get out of the house with some of these children and go grocery shopping.  Left  the older ones home to finish their work (and please clean this one spot on the kitchen floor) after tucking the younger ones in for naps. So I just have children with me who SHOULD know how to behave in the store. They have forgotten how. But I ran into another Mom telling her children as she attempted to maneuver a corner with one hanging onto the cart  and one hanging from her back "I said walk behind  me and quit goofing off" as she deftly dodged the oncoming carts in the aisle.  Solidarity my friends. Look for those other frazzled moms who are telling their children "I should not have to keep telling you that the grocery store is NOT the appropriate place to practice karate" and "Walk  in a line behind me, there is no reason for us to take up the entire aisle." We make it home and the one spot on the kitchen floor has not actually been cleaned and I tell the children who were with me to get back to the work they did not finish (so I am listening to one of them yell at the math computer right now because apparently it is wrong and he is right and I am still telling said older child to clean that dad gum kitchen floor because apparently only I can see the stuff laying on top of it).

Yup, it's been a day. A day I'm sure we will repeat over and over and over again.  Because I don't know how you keep things organized and clutter free and less chaotic. I really don't.  Heck, even the lady at the homeschooling conference who talks about all you have to do is stick to a schedule and not put your kids in outside activities and stay home all the time and it will all work perfectly only had 6 students at any one time. And even if she says everyone must always start at 8:00 am, I don't see that happening in this house.  Hopefully by 9:00 though.  I know with lots of littles the normal tricks are to work during naptime and put a video on for the younger ones or have special school time only toys or to put an older child in charge of the youngers while you work with the other older kids.  But that doesn't work until you have enough older kids to rotate.  I know it would be easier if I was not fighting against such a long pattern of the kids not doing much but I can't change that one.

I can say that it's not always perfect or wonderful or easy. We just don't always share those stories because it would frighten people away.  Seriously.  Just find your own groove and work with it. And when you figure out how to keep it organized and clutter free and non-headache inducing, let me know how you did it, ok?