Saturday, August 18, 2007

To Children From Mom Letter!

***some humor for your Saturday!***

Dear Children,
Don't be alarmed, the world isn't coming to an end. I am simply taking a bath. It will take about 30 minutes and will involve soap and water. Yes, I know how to swim. Even if I didn't, forcing myself to drown in a foot and a half of lukewarm water is more work than I've got energy for. (Which reminds me, I'm all for science projects, but the next time you want to see if Play-Doh floats, use cold water.)
Don't panic if I'm not out right on time. I've heard that people don't dissolve in water and I'd like to test the theory. While I'm in the tub, I'd like you to remember a few things, the large slab of wood between us is called a door. Do not bang to hear my voice. I promise that even though you can't see me, I am on the other side. I'm not digging an escape tunnel and running for the border, no matter what I said a while ago, I didn't mean it. Honest.
There will be plenty of time later to tell me about your day. Later means at a time when I am no longer naked, wet, and contemplating bubble gum in the blow dryer. I know you have important things to tell me. Please let one of them be that you have invented a new way to blow bubbles, not a new way to add gum to your hair. Believe it or not, shouting, "TELEPHONE!" through the closed bathroom door will not make the phone stop ringing. Answer it and take a message. Since Amazing Mind-Reading Mom has the day off, you'll need to write that message down. Use paper and a pencil. Do not use your brother and the laundry marker. We can't send him to school with telephone-number tattoos. Water makes me wet, not deaf. I can still tell the difference between the sound of "nothing" and the sound of a child playing the piano with a basketball. I can also hear you tattling at the top of your lungs. I'm choosing not to answer you. Don't call your dad at work and tell him I am unconscious in the bathroom. He didn't appreciate it last time. He won't appreciate it this time. Trust me. No matter how much I would like it, water does not make me forgetful. I remember who you are and why you are grounded. No, you can't go to the neighbor's house to play. No, you can't go to the neighbor's house to use the bathroom. If someone is in our other bathroom, you will just have to think dry thoughts and wait. Unless you have four feet and a tail, do not think of going outside to "water" the lawn. I know the dog does it. The neighbors don't feel the need to call me when the dog does it. Unless the house catches on fire, stay inside and keep the doors locked. Do not go outside and throw rocks at the bathroom window to get my attention. I know it works in the movies. This is reality, the place where people don't like to sit in a tub while rocks and broken glass rain in on them. Do not set the house on fire. Call me if there is an emergency.Emergencies are:1. Dad has fallen off the roof.2. Your brother and/or sister is bleeding.3. There's a red fire truck in front of our house.Emergencies are not:1. Dad has fallen asleep.2. Someone on TV is bleeding.3. There's a red pickup truck in front of our house.One other thing: Being forced to use the last roll of toilet paper for a towel does not make me happy. It makes me sticky with little white fuzzy dots. In the future, when the tub overflows, use a mop to clean up the water instead of every towel in the house. For my sanity's sake, let's pretend it was the tub, O.K.? No, I don't want to hear the real story. Ever. Especially not while I'm standing in the pool of water you missed. (P.S. All Play-Doh experiments are canceled.)Be good. Entertain yourselves. Yes, you can do both at the same time. Try coloring, playing a game, or watching television. I'll be out soon. Maybe.
Love, Mom

My version of Once A Month Cooking(OAMC)

Here is what I do after my bi-monthly shopping trips or after one of the grocery stores has a good sale on meat.

For 10-15lbs of ground beef I take and make burgers and meatloaf with the raw meat and freeze them. The burgers get stacked with wax paper between them in a freezer bag. Each freezer bag has the number I need for one meal. I also make meatballs but I cook them and then flash freeze on a cookie sheet and then transfer to a freezer bag. I also brown some of the ground beef and put in plastic containers/freezer bags the amount that I need for a meal of spaghetti, chili, goulash, and sloppy joes.

For chicken meals, I normally just get the Quick frozen boneless chicken breasts/tenders because they are usually on sale more than fresh chicken. So I just take a bag out the night before for the dinner meal the next day. If I get fresh chicken I still make sure that I get it on sale and I get the boneless/skinless breasts....When I get home I clean and de-fat them and put them in a freezer bag in the number I need for a meal(usually 5-6 breasts do it for my family of 7). If the breasts are thick I will butterfly them to make the meat stretch a little more. It also helps to butterfly them when you know that you are grilling them! I also will cut up the raw chicken to pull out for using in soups and such. I also make sure that I get a couple of whole chickens when they are on sale to have to pull out of the freezer for the next day for a drop in the crock pot and forget type meal! LOL

For pork chops...I get one of those half boneless pork loins and bring it home and slice it into pork chops(or you can have the butcher at the grocery store do it too!) and once again make sure that I put wax paper between the chops and divide it into the meals in freezer bags.

I found doing things this way I am not tied down with the precooked meals in the freezer. If I want to try something different/new for a meal I can without having to go to the store to get other meat to use. I also found that doing my meats ahead and putting them in freezer, I have been able to cut the time in the kitchen preparing the meal in half! Most of meals I can get done in an hour or less, unless of course I am using my crock pot! LOL I found with a new baby I was able to nurse baby and put down for a nap and then prepare and eat dinner before baby would need my attention again. If I am using my crock pot I would just put the items in the crock pot when I had about 5 minutes in the morning before lunch.

I found with having a new baby in the house that sitting down and planning out my meals for the week helped a lot. After planning and writing those down I would post them where my dh or dc could see what was going to be for dinner and they could help me make sure that the next day's meat was out thawing the night before we needed it! LOL

The other thing I do is have a baking day where I get a bunch of quick breads/muffins, cookies, and other snacks in the freezer. The quick breads/muffins can be used for breakfast along with some scrambled eggs. The cookies are just nice to have for that sweet tooth! LOL Another thing for breakfast that I have made ahead for my boys is "Mom's Egg McMuffins" toasted english muffin with scrambled egg patty, sliced american cheese, and bacon or ham or sausage patty. Wrap the individually with plastic wrap and then put in a bread bag. When you want one take it out microwave for 20 seconds and then turn it over and microwave for another 20 seconds, if still cold in the middle microwave for 10 more seconds. Let set for 2 minutes and eat! You can use croissants for the same type of sandwiches.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Laundry Cleaning Solutions

Crayon–washed and dried removal:

1. Take off as much wax as possible.

2. Take liquid Wisk and Peanut Butter and smear over the crayon spots.

3. Use NO Bleach!! including liquid Wisk with bleach.

4. Rinse clothes and then wash and dry clothes again.

**Crayola has stain tips guide on their website but I have found this to actually work better!**

This next one is great for those baby formula stains, those crayon marks that you find on clothes before you dry them, it has even worked on tempera paint removal from clothes(doesn't get all of it but makes the clothes look good enough to not have to dump them) , I have used on many stains and have great to good results with it. **This is good for colored clothes as well...use with caution–some colored clothes are not color-fast and colors will fade from bleach.**

“Magic Solution”

½ cup automatic dishwasher soap to ½ cup bleach mixed into 2 gallons of water.

Put soap in with as hot of water as possible. Stop running water pour bleach into water, stir in completely. Then place clothes in solution. Let soak.

Ink or Permanent Marker Stains(in clothes or carpet!):

Good old hairspray!!

hairspray and a dry cloth rag(that you can throw away!). Don't use paper towels as they will just shred. Spray the spots let sit for about 20 seconds for the hairspray to start working and then blot out the ink from the carpet or clothes. Repeat til the spots are gone. The trick is to not let the hair spray sit too long as it can have the opposite effect and set the ink into the carpet or clothes for that matter.Then after you have the ink out I use some carpet cleaner to get the sticky film from the hairspray out of the carpet. For clothes, I wash them immediately.

An Educational Website Review

Energy Information Adminstration-Kids' Page

Join “Energy Ant” learning about energy! Learn facts on the sources, uses, science and saving of energy. Take a look back in history as to energy’s beginnings and along the way meet famous people like Isaac Newton, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and many more who contributed to the science of energy. There are classroom activities that include stories, hands-on activities (including Science Fair ideas), and research articles for all students (K-12) and learning styles. There is even a glossary for all the words that deal with energy on the site! When the learning is done, the learned knowledge can be used for fun and games, where there are puzzles, riddles, follow “Energy Ant” on some of his adventures to cool energy sites around the United States and more.

Reading List for 2007-2008 School Year

I think I have completed a Reading List for D & T for this coming up school year. Some will be read alouds while others they will read on their own. The books with an asterisk are ones that I have found lesson plans/unit studies that I am planning on doing this school year as well. Aside from this list, I am sure that my boys will be reading plenty more as all three of them are avid readers!

Across Five Aprils
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Adventures of Tom Sawyer
A Gathering of Days
Amos Fortune, Free Man
Around the World in Eighty Days
A Wrinkle in Time
A Year Down Yonder
Because of Winn Dixie
Bridge to Terabithia
Bronze Bow
Cabin Faced West
Caddie Woodlawn*
Call It Courage
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch
Chalk Box Kid
Ella Enchanted
Flat Stanley
Freedom Train
Gentle Ben
Harriet the Spy
Henry Reed’s Baby Sitting Service
Indian in the Cupboard*
In Grandma’s Attic
Johnny Tremain
Little Men
Misty of Chincoteague
Mr. Popper’s Penguins
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH*
My Side of the Mountain
Number the Stars
Old Yeller
Oliver Twist
On the Far Side of the Mountain
Pippi Longstocking
Pirate’s Promise
Rabbit Hill
Red Sky at Morning
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry*
Sarah Plain and Tall
Secret Garden*
Sign of the Beaver *
Sing Down the Moon
Stealing Home
Stone Fox
The Borrowers
The Courage of Sarah Noble*
The Giver*
The Incredible Journey
The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe*
The Matchlock Gun
The Monument
The Perilous Road*
The Red Badge of Courage
The Story of Dr. Doolittle
The Witch of Blackbird Pond
Treasure Island*
Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
Tuck Everlasting*
Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Walk Two Moons
Where The Red Fern Grows
White Fang

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Has God Ever Danced On Your Potato Chips?

**Having a frazzled type day?? Remember! God is ALWAYS with us! Take your troubles to Him! The following is something I found that I thought I would share with you today!*

Has God Ever Danced On Your Potato Chips?
Author Unknown

Not too long ago I had "one of those days". I was feeling pressure from a writing deadline. I had company arriving in a couple days and the toilet was clogged. I went to the bank, and the trainee teller processing my deposit had to start over three times. I swung by the supermarket to pick up a few things and the lines were serpentine. By the time I got home, I was frazzled and sweaty and in a hurry to get something on the table for dinner. Deciding on Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup, I grabbed a can opener, cranked open the can, then remembered I had forgotten to buy milk at the store. Nix the soup idea.

Setting the can aside, I went to plan B, which was leftover baked beans. I grabbed a Tupperware from the fridge, popped the seal, took a look and groaned. My husband isn't a picky eater, but even HE won't eat baked beans that look like caterpillars. Really frustrated, now, I decided on a menu that promised to be as foolproof as it is nutrition-free: hot dogs and potato chips. Retrieving a brand new bag of chips from the cupboard, I grabbed the cellophane and gave a hearty pull. The bag didn't open. I tried again. Nothing happened. I took a breath, doubled my muscle, and gave the bag a hearty wrestle. With a loud pop, the cellophane suddenly gave way, ripping wide from top to bottom. Chips flew sky high. I was left holding the bag, and it was empty. It was the final straw. I let out a blood curdling scream. "I CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE!!!"

My husband heard my unorthodox cry for help. Within minutes he was standing at the doorway to the kitchen, where he surveyed the damage: An opened can of soup, melting groceries, moldy baked beans, and one quivering wife standing ankle deep in potato chips. My husband did the most helpful thing he could think of at the moment. He took a flying leap, landing flat-footed in the pile of chips. And then he began to stomp and dance and twirl, grinding those chips into my linoleum in the process!

I stared. I fumed. Pretty soon I was working to stifle a smile. Eventually I had to laugh. And finally I decided to join him. I, too, took a leap onto the chips. And then I danced.

Now I'll be the first to admit that my husband's response wasn't the one I was looking for. But the truth is, it was exactly what I needed. I didn't need a cleanup crew as much as I needed an attitude adjustment, and the laughter from that rather funky moment provided just that.

So now I have a question for you, and it's simply this: Has God ever stomped on your chips? I know that, in my life, there have been plenty of times when I've gotten myself into frustrating situations and I've cried out for help, all the while hoping God would show up with a celestial broom and clean up the mess I've made of things. What often happens instead is that God dances on my chips, answering my prayer in a completely different manner than I had expected, but in the manner that is best for me after all.

Sometimes I can see right away that God's response was the best one after all. Sometimes I have to wait weeks or months before I begin to understand how and why God answered a particular prayer the way he did. There are even some situations that, years later, I'm still trying to understand. I figure God will fill me in sooner or later, either this side of Heaven or beyond.Do I trust Him? Even when He's answering my prayers in a way that is completely different from my expectations? Even when He's dancing and stomping instead of sweeping and mopping? Can I embrace what He's offering? Can I let His joy adjust my attitude? Am I going to stand on the sidelines and sulk, or am I willing to learn the steps of the dance He's dancin' with my needs in mind?

I'll be honest with you: Sometimes I sulk. Sometimes I dance. I'm working on doing more of the latter than the former. I guess the older I get the more I realize that He really does know what He's doing. He loves me and I can trust Him. Even when the chips are down.

Eight Ways to Fix Chicken

Ever get in rut with fixing chicken and don't know what to do different?? Here is eight different ways to fix chicken!

1. Creamy Chicken
dice up cooked chicken and use 2 cans of cream of chicken soup, add about 1 tsp. of each— poultry seasoning, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Serve over rice or egg noodles.

2. BQ Shredded Chicken
place boneless chicken in the crockpot with some bq sauce let simmer all day and about lunch time take a couple of forks and pull the chicken apart to shred it. Let simmer til dinner time serve on hamburg buns.

3. Lemon Pepper Chicken
Got a grill?? Grill Lemon Pepper Chicken moisten the lemon pepper in some olive oil and brush it on the chicken while grilling. I use other seasonings too (like cajun, minced garlic or onion) along with the olive oil. This is something to do other than just brushing on plain ol’ BQ sauce. Also you can do this in the oven as well, place chicken in a shallow baking dish(I use my jelly roll pan) and brush on the seasoning in olive oil, cover with foil and bake @ 375° for 30-45 minutes or til chicken is done. Usually the last 5-10 minutes I take the foil off the chicken so that the chicken can brown some (but it is not necessary to do so)

4. Homemade Chicken Nuggets
Get a box of Shake N Bake or Baking Miracle from the store and follow the directions on the box to make chicken nuggets. I use the Baking Miracle. Serve with fries and a veggie for a quick dinner!

5. Oven Fried Chicken
I got this idea from my friend, Lisa and this is really good!!! I have changed it up a bit and instead of using the poultry seasoning and paprika all the time. I have used cajun seasoning or lemon pepper seasoning and it turns out awesome!

3 lbs chicken (I usually use boneless, skinless chicken breasts, but bone-in will work too!)
1/2c. flour
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. poultry seasoning
margarine slices
Combine together. Dip chicken pieces in this. Place pads of margarine on top of each piece of chicken. (This is the secret to it tasting so delicious.) Place in sprayed pan. Bake 400 for 1 hour.

6. Chicken Club Sandwiches
cook some boneless chicken and bacon and serve on a hamburg bun. My boys (12,9,7) all have a whole sandwich. Sometimes the chicken breasts are thick so I slice them the long ways to make thin slices and then one breast makes two sandwiches! Makes the chicken go further too!

7. Saucy Pork Chops or Chicken
The original recipe calls for pork chops but I use the same sauce for pork chops or chicken!

6 pork chops or chicken
1 can cream of chicken soup
3 Tbsp. ketchup
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. onion, minced
1/2 cup of milk

Brown pork chops or chicken; remove any fat. Salt and pepper to taste; place in a 2 qt. casserole dish. Mix remaining ingredients together and pour over pork chops or chicken. Cover and cook at 350 degrees 1 hour.

Sonshine's notes: Sauce is really good over baked or mashed potatoes or rice. I use boneless/skinless chicken breasts and slice the chicken into 4-5 pieces after browning. This helps to "stretch" the servings out of the main course. Also I double the sauce recipe and put it into a 9x13 or bigger casserole dish when I do chicken. **This recipe is crockpot friendly too!! I put it together at lunch time and place it in the crockpot on high for 2 hours and then on low til dinner time. OR you can start it in the morning after breakfast on low for 5-6 hours.

8. Chicken Veggie Stew/Casserole
1 can cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1/2 cup milk
1 can of chicken broth
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. poultry seasoning
2-3 cups diced cooked chicken
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
2 cups frozen cut green beans, thawed
2 cups sliced or diced cooked potatoes
1 can green peas

In a large bowl, combine soup, milk, broth, thyme, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Stir in chicken, corn, peas, beans and potatoes. Pour into a greased 1 1/2 qt. baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 400° for 15 minutes or until heated through. Yield: 6 servings

Sonshine's notes: This recipe can be doubled and even tripled! This recipe works well in the crockpot on low for 4-6 hours! When I put it in the crockpot I don't grease it. I even have decreased the liquid(didn't use the chicken broth) and used as the filling to potpie!

For more chicken ideas, head over to Frugal Upstate's Frugal Food Series-Chicken

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Kid friendly Muffins


1 egg
½ cup buttermilk
1/3 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1/3 cup margarine, melted
1 2/3 cups flour
½ cup sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt

Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Combine the egg, buttermilk, orange juice concentrate and melted margarine in a separate bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir until batter is moistened but still lumpy.

Lightly spray 12 muffin cups with vegetable oil spray. Fill the muffin cups ¾ full with batter. Bake in a 400° oven for 20 minutes or until muffins are golden brown. Yields 12 muffins

Notes: Can use veggie oil instead of melted margarine. Can also make into bread loaves just adjust baking time.


½ cup sugar
¼ cup shortening
1 egg
½ cup milk
½ tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
½ tsp. soda
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
2/3 cup mini chocolate chips

Cream sugar and shortening till fluffy. Add egg, milk, and vanilla; mix well. Combine dry ingredients gradually add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Fold in chocolate chips. Spoon about 1 tbsp. batter into mini muffin tin. Bake @ 375° for 10-13 minutes or until muffins test done. Cool in pan 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack.


Finally, I decided that it was time to set up a blog. Everyone else is doing it so why not!?

Welcome to my little space on the worldwide web!

A little bit more about myself....
I grow up in the Midwest. I am the oldest of 8 kids. My parents did foster care of severely mentally and physically children for over 10 years. They had over 40 kids in their care over those years. I went on to college and got a degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Special Education. I met my husband while in college. He was in the Navy and I was in college--we met back when message boards were DOS based bulletin boards. So we met via the internet. We have been happily married now for 11 1/2 years. We have 5 children--four boys: J who is 11, D who is 8 soon to be 9, T who is 7 soon to be 8, P who is 9 1/2 months; one girl: S who is 3 1/2 (going on 20!LOL). I have been homeschooling all of them since birth. I do not use any particular curriculum so I guess that makes me eclectic. All of my curriculum I have made up from what I have found on the internet, getting books at the library and the few curriculum books that I have been blessed with from other homeschooling families.

Aside from homeschooling my kids, I love to bake and cook. I also like to help others to declutter and simplify their lives. I also like to give tips on becoming more frugal.

So there it first entry and a glimpse of Sonshine.