Friday, January 28, 2011

Ask the Crazy Woman

So I have gotten a few emails with some questions an thought, "What? You are asking me? A crazy woman?"
Then I laughed out loud and didn't answer the emails. Until now. Maybe someone really does want to know how crazy I am. Let's start the weekend off with my take on a few things, then we can all laugh and realize that I am indeed crazy. I am kidding. But really I'm not.

1. You had 5 daughters first then boys. Were you and your husband "trying" for a boy? Now that you have 2 boys are you done?

After the third daughter was born we resigned to only having girls and actually I would say that the girls were far easier as toddlers than my oldest boy is now at 2 years old. He's a mess and always "into" something. In fact I rarely take him out because he is just plain difficult. We were shocked when we had a boy because we just "knew" we would only have girls and we had even grown used to strangers making the typical comments about having all girls. No, we never tried for a boy. We just hope that we have a boy or girl and not a puppy, because I tell you that even with 7 kids at home...another dog would be terrible. We have 4 now and they are a handful. So babies, yes. Puppies, no.

2. What time do your kids go to bed? Does everyone take a nap during the day?

In a perfect world I would blissfully go about my day and then right after lunch I would make everyone lay down for naps whilst I tend to a quiet hobby or nap myself. Honey, I have NEVER had a perfect day. :-)
Currently the 2 year old takes a 2 hour nap everyday after lunch. While he naps I threaten my children to stay quiet or play outside so as to not wake him up. Usually I must hush and threaten every child about 3 times during the two hour relief from toddler take over. The baby sleeps when ever he wants and I am the WORST about baby routines. I nurse constantly on demand and cross my fingers that he will take a cat nap while I am cooking meals. Otherwise, he sits in a sling and watches everything going on in his crazy fun filled world.
At night, however, I make the little ones go to bed between 7:30 and 8:00 (depending on how exhausted I am) and the older ones go to their rooms at the same time and read until 9:00. I do believe that an early bedtime is the BEST managing tool to having kids.

3. I have considered keeping bees too. Is it hard and do you ever get stung?

Bees are NOT hard. Never mind that I have lost almost ALL of my hives this winter, it is NOT hard. Beekeeping IS about working with many factors that are out of a beekeepers control such as weather, pests, genetics, nectar flow, drought. It is sometimes frustrating, but easy. It is fun, but you cannot be the type who gets easily discouraged, especially when you lose almost all of your hives over the winter. I am NOT discouraged. I am NOT discouraged, etc.

As for stings? I have been stung many times. In fact the VERY first package of bees I got stung me about 12 times. You see, I read up on all of the beekeeping books and saw these bee keepers with no veil or protection just happily looking at frames of bees. Naturally I figured I could do the same with a new package. My reasoning was "they are homeless, confused, and docile."
I wen tout to my bee yard with my 3 packages in a t-shirt and shorts..nothing else. Actually the first 2 packages WERE pretty docile and I put them in the hives with no issues. The third package, however, were so mad that as soon as I opened the package they came out and stung me and my husband about a dozen times each! We had to run out through the pasture waving our hand and arms wildly, trying to get the bees out of our hair and clothes. I now gear up in protective clothing while installing a package of bees. Some lessons are learned the hard way.

Thanks for asking and for waiting while I pulled my self together and organized my day enough to answer. Have a great weekend and tune in next week to find out about my new sewing machines that are arriving today via the brown truck. Yep, machineS...plural! I am so excited I could squeal....but I won't.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Rose is pouting?????

Nawww... didn't think so!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My Day

This week is packed full with stuff! Yesterday was spent at the orthodonist so Quinn could get new wires and poor Journee could get a few braces BACK on! Having her wisdom teeth extracted caused her back teeth to shift slightly so she has a few braces on for 3 weeks. The shift was hardly noticeable but our doc is a perfectionist.

Today we start a new Algebra 1 program for Journee. Though we use Math U See for math, it is not a good Algebra 1 program. There are not nearly enough practice problems and the dvd lessons are not very
We are switching to Dive Into Math which also uses Saxon. I watched the intro and lesson one last night and it looks great. Journee is thrilled:-)

My other project is the never-ending laundry. Today I plan to get it all done and put away. Everyone has goals to reach, right? At any rate, I am thankful for high efficiency machines and many hands for folding it all.

This here is another project happening here. I had a huge cork board area here that was actually cork tiles glued to the wall, except they did not stick well. We tore it all down ans spackled the damage. Devin will sand and paint then hang a dry erase board and a cork board. We are an ever evolving organizational crew here.

Speaking of which I have a chore chart! Wahoo! The girls have their chores for the week and every Friday
I will turn the inside plate and they will get a new set for a week. I think the girls enjoy the change and I enjoy the hassle free help. They all still must tidy their rooms and make their beds.
Indiana started guitar lessons last week and loved it! I was curious as to how a teacher actually teaches the guitar and was happy to listen in on her private instruction. Her instructor was really nice and patient, and Indiana liked him. It's great to learn new things!

So there is quite a bit going on, but no more than usual I guess. Days like this require patience and an easy meal. I have chili on the stove and bread dough in the fridge. Devin is FINALLY off a day from work tomorrow, of course he has meetings to attend. I am glad he will be home tomorrow night as they are predicting some snow??? Again????

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Whole Wheat Pancake Mix

Whole wheat pancakes are a regular breakfast around here because they are not only delicious but VERY easy. Years ago I rarely made pancakes because that meant pulling out the wheat grinder first thing in the morning which also meant little kiddos all around me on chairs "helping." I prefer that my young chefs help me after I have at least had one cup of tea...or a shower. (I am not the sweetest morning person sometimes)
No longer a problem. I make up several mixes and store them in my freezer. All I have to do is add my wet ingredients and we are set for breakfast. Here is my special pancake mix post for all of my dear wheat grinding moms!

Grind up a great big bowl of soft white wheat. It will take 3 C of flour per batch.

Line up some 1 gallon sized freezer bags and label them "Pancake Mix." I buy sturdy bags and reuse them time and time again for these mixes.
In each bag place the following dry ingredients:

3 C soft whole wheat flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda

Now seal the bags up. Store them in the freezer and when you want to make pancakes just take a bag out and dump it into a mixing bowl. Add these wet ingredients:

1/4 C oil
1/4 C honey
2 eggs
2 C milk
Mix well.
You can write the ingredients on the bag if you wish.
These flatten and stack well for the freezer. Who says homemade can't be convenient?

Next week I am going to answer some emails I have gotten from a few readers. I was surprised to see my inbox had questions! Next week...I'm on it! Have a great weekend!

Friday, January 21, 2011

I Must Be Hungry!

This week has been a week of getting back to out routine, and also organizing things back to where they should be.
I actually made out a chore chart, which I have not done in a kazillion years. I will let ya'll know how that works out. I decided to shake things up so that the kids were not "stuck" only doing the same chores over and over. I will switch out every week. I like to shake things up sometimes like that:-)

I have also been cooking and baking. When I am not doing those things I am craving and drooling over new recipes. Tonight we are having Chicken Marbella and I will let ya'll know how that turns out. So far the marinade smells so good.

For today I am going to give a recipe for a great "go to" cake. You know what that means? This is a cake that you most likely have all of the ingredients for and you can whip it up in a snap! It uses a boxed cake mix too which makes it very simple. I got the recipe from a friend and last night I my kids devoured it! It's that I am keeping it around so we can become true friends. Let me introduce you.

Blueberry and Cream Cheese Pound Cake

1 8oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 C vegetable oil
1 box yellow cake mix
1 3oz box instant vanilla pudding
4 eggs, slightly beaten
2 tsp vanilla
2 C blueberries

Preheat oven 325 and grease and flour a bundt pan.
Combine cream cheese and oil until creamy. Add cake mix, pudding, vanilla and eggs. Combine well. The mixture will be thick. Fold in blueberries. Pour into pan and bake about an hour. Cool on rack 5 minutes then turn out of pan. Let cool 20 minutes before you dig an and gorge yourself. Please remember to save a sliver for your spouse and children.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Artisan Bread Part 2

As promised here is the part where you can bake your bread. If you missed part 1, then READ IT HERE.

Get your dough out of the fridge and also get a piece of parchment paper out to bake your bread on. If you don't have parchment paper, don't sweat it. You will need to flour whatever pan or stone you wish to bake the bread on. Then when you go to the store get some parchment paper! It makes baking tons easier!

Now get a little flour and sprinkle it on top of the dough.
Now reach into the dough with your hand and grab about a grapefruit sized portion of dough.
Now fold the sides down and around to make a smooth ball with the seams at the bottom. This should only take seconds....don't obsess over it:-)
Okay, you are ready to place the dough on the paper or baking sheet and let it rest about an hour. Also, preheat your oven to 450. Yep, 450!

If you feel impatient or very, very hungry you can let it rest only 45 minutes:-)

Now that it has rested you can make three slits into the dough with a serrated knife. Be quick and firm...don't hesitate!

Now, let's discuss the oven. I use an oven stone. It's a stone that I keep on my rack to bake bread on. I bake everyday so it's useful. Before I had an "official" oven stone I kept a rectangular stone in my oven that I bought years ago from The Pampered Chef. You do not have to use a stone. You can bake this bread on a baking sheet or on a stone. The stone lends a more artisan look and texture. Here is my set up.
I have my stone and also have a broiler pan on the rack underneath. Water can be poured into the broiler pan just as the dough is placed on the stone. This creates steam which in turn creates a very hard crust. This crust on the bread will be hard even without the use what you have and it will be perfect!
 Place your slit dough loaves into the oven. (I always make 2 loaves for my crew at lunch time)
If you are using steam, then pour about a cup of water into the broiler pan just before closing the oven door.

Allow the bread to bake 30-40 minutes. It will smell yummy and will turn a nice golden brown. Do not worry too much about drying this bread out by overcooking. Remember that you started with a wet dough and it is pretty forgiving.

When it's done take it out and allow it to cool on a wire rack.
It's difficult to slice if it is hot, so at least restrain yourself a bit and allow it to get to the warm stage. I speak from experience! As with all homemade breads I recommend you slice it with an electric knife, but any serrated knife will do. Enjoy!!

Let me know how hooked you become:-)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Artisan Bread the Easy Way

What do I do when I suddenly crave a yummy warm loaf of artisan bread? Well I suppose I could hop in my car and drive to the local bakery BUT my life is more involved than that.
I have too many kids to just hop in my car large van and spend a nice afternoon sipping tea and eating fancy bread.
Nope, my life and circumstance requires that I be more efficient, frugal, and practical.
Here is my secret weapon
 I bought this book a couple of months ago and LOVE it. L-O-V-E. IT!
Let me tell ya'll that I am not affiliated with the authors of this book, but I do want to share the basic recipe and show ya'll how great it is to bake fresh artisan bread in a snap. Everyday.
The concept behind this method is to mix up the dough and place it in the fridge. Now, the dough is wet and not kneaded like your typical bread. This means you do not need a huge mixer or any fancy gadgets. The recipe makes enough dough for 4 loaves. You make how many you need and store the leftover dough on the fridge for another day...up to a week.
Let's get started by making the dough today and then tomorrow we will make a loaf of bread.

Basic Boule Recipe
3 C warm water
1 1/2 TB active yeast (2 packets)
1 1/2 TB Kosher salt
6 1/2 C all-purpose flour

To start you will need a container for the dough. Choose one with a lid, but not an airtight lid. A 5qt ice cream bucket works great. I double my recipe so I use a larger container that I bought at Sam's Club.

Now all you have to do is add 3 C warm water to your container.

To this add your yeast, salt and flour. Just dump it in there. Now, if you plan to bake alot of bread it would be best to buy your yeast at a wholesaler such as Sam's Club. This is what I buy and I store the opened package in the freezer and use it as needed.
You actually get 2 pounds of yeast for about $6.00. That is a great price if you bake quite a bit. The same goes with flour. I buy and use Bread Flour that I buy at either Sam's or Costco. It's a great deal. What about whole wheat flour? Yes, I do grind my own wheat and you may certainly use whole wheat in this recipe. I tried it with all whole wheat flour and it was good, but very dense. I also tried half wheat and half white and though it was not as dense and still good I just prefer using all white in this bread. It's a treat. I still use all whole wheat in our sandwich bread.
Moving on...... now you simply grab your largest wooden spoon and mix and stir just until all of the flour is incorporated.
That's it! Do not knead this dough. It will be a little wet and lumpy and that is OK! Now,place the lid on (not airtight!) and allow this to rest at room temp about an hour.
Once it has about doubled in size like this.....

You can place it in the fridge. Tomorrow we will pull it out and bake bread. It's that simple. The whole process to make the dough takes about 10 minutes tops!
Yeah, you'll be hooked!
See ya tomorrow.

Sunday, January 16, 2011



I woke up with a cold.

I baked fresh whole wheat bread.

I missed my dad so much it hurt.

I took a nap with the baby and snuggled him close.

I crossed only one item off my "to do" list.

I walked to the beehives and back.

I saw this hanging around my front step.

I noticed I have a Christmas decoration still out near the front door.

I am thankful for all that I have.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Shock and Awe

We are back from our road trip to visit my sister in Arkansas and while we were gone something amazing happened. It snowed. A. Lot.

Ya'll this was not a small snow. It snowed 8 inches and today is day 4 of the stuff still hanging around. I thought we were in the South, but now I wonder.
Anyway, we are home and spending the day doing nothing but playing, relaxing and eating. Monday will be a kicker here when we start school back. It will be a loooong day, I am sure of it.

Here is what most people look like when they see us show up at their door for a 5 day visit.

That is my nephew, actually, and we were playing charades. I think he was acting out "my aunt and her large brood just showed up for a 5 day visit!"

Seriously, we had a great time, and I am not very good at Just Dance 2 unless you count points for making up moves as you dance along. I am expert at that:-)

Now that we are back home it is time to start making my lists of everything I need to accomplish this month year. The list looks something like this:

1. Bake cookies
2. Watch movies
3. Organize closets
4. Clean pantry

Oh, it is a longer list than this, BUT I am feeling very motivated and happy to have accomplished the first 2 items.
Can I get a hip=hip hurray?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Road Trip

There's nothing like planning a trip across states to visit family. I have 7 kiddos plus myself to pack for...and 2 are in diapers. I also have piles of blankets and pillows and stuffed animals.
Tomorrow we head out to visit my sister, although Devin gets to stay home and take care of the billions of critters here. This will be a short trip and we will be back early next week.
It's amazing how much laundry I must do in order for us to have enough clothes to take. But we are almost ready to pack the van up..the cooler is in back already. Yes, I pack a massive cooler with drinks and food. A trip through a McDonalds costs me about $ we pack a cooler which actually is nicer, besides being cheaper. It is the supply of soda and tootsie roll pops that gets me through.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Spring Dreaming

There's nothing like weeks of winter to get me thinking about spring. Yes, WEEKS of cold weather. I know, I know..some of ya'll have MONTHS of cold weather. Me? I am whining about winter already:-)

Today my sewing patterns arrived for the spring skirts I will be sewing for myself and at least 2 of the girls. My oldest girls want to live barefoot and in cut off shorts. That's fine. I, however, along with my little girls wish to sport around barefoot and in a pretty skirt.

Don't they look great? You can find them for sale HERE.

Now all I need is a great sale at the quilt store for fabric!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Big Hearts

Tonight my girls and I sat on the bed and talked about orphans. We discussed why some kids are orphans, we discussed the ugly truth about abandonment and civil war, we discussed HIV and what it means for an orphan in Africa.
We looked at pictures of beautiful, sweet children of God who are orphans. My sweet Willow thinks these kids need a mom and dad and 2 brothers and 5 sisters. She is right, you know.
My girls have big hearts.
Won't you go visit Ordinary Hero? It might change your life for the better.

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