Monday, August 31, 2009

I'm hooked!

Last night on eHow.com, RD and I discovered how to make Salt 'n Vinegar popcorn! Oh man! It was awesome (that is, if you like that sort of thing). We liked it so much we went ahead and bought some salt and vinegar flavoring online (and we got a Ranch-flavoring for the kiddos). Yum! Oh man, you gotta try it!

Zucchini Brownies


Zucchini Brownies
*compliments of Nathan S., a friend from college*

Combine in 1 bowl:
1-1/4 cup sugar
1 C oil
2 eggs

Combine in another bowl:
2 C flour
1/2 C cocoa
1-1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1/2 C nuts (optional)

Mix these two well. Fold in 2 C grated, raw zucchini. (Note: mixture is VERY HARD to fold in, and will not look right, However when baked, the zucchini breaks down.)

Place in greased 13x9 pan.
(Note: RD and I like to always sprinkle a handful of chocolate chips on the top. Yum!) Bake at 350F for 25-30 min.

Turns out more like cake. It is very moist. We like it without icing.

*Note:
I used shredded/frozen zucchini from last year, which I had separated out into 1-cup quantities. After thawing it out, there was a LOT of juice. If you are using zucchini this way, DO NOT drain the liquid. Put it ALL in the brownie mix.*

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Changing Demographics

This video is not only eye-opening... it's frightening!



A call to action:
1- we need to be evangelizing the nations
2- we need to be producing godly seed in numbers
God's Word says were are to be fruitful and multiply. Mathematically, that would mean at least producing 4 children. God's Word also says that our quivers are to be full of arrows. We are in a real battle here against the powers and forces of darkness! When we limit our family size, what we are doing is drastically limiting the power of Christianity upon the world.
Think about it... The children in our home get constant discipleship 24-7 for at least 18 years! How great of an evangelism tactic is that?!
Just some things to consider...

Eww eww eww!!!

Found two of these on one of our tomato plants today!

Tomato Hornworm

We gave our other plants a good look down and didn't see any other indications they were spreading. No other munchings. No droppings. No eggs. Ugh! Talk about NASTY! I'd never seen one before. Heard people talk about them, but never seen one up close and personal. YUCK! I'm hoping we're in the clear. But we'll have to check our plants closely every day. We found these two buggers on the one tomato plant that was furthest away from mint. Figures. We plucked the branches they were on and put them in a quart jar to show the kids. In one regard, it's kinda cool. But in another, it's pretty yucky!

Also, update on the squash bugs. We are pretty much through harvest time on the squash, and good thing, too, because we are JUST now starting to spot a random nymph here and there. Nothing huge or unmanageable. Yet. But I think since we're through harvest, we're gonna go ahead and set it one fire as planned and burn the suckers so they won't be there next year.

We're pretty much through our harvest season altogether. We'll be getting tomatoes for a while longer (yea!). There's one plant that hasn't even turned red at all yet! The other ones are producing wonderfully. Pumpkins are big and orange already! Watermelons need to get just a tad bit bigger, but they are doing great! Nasturtiums, Marigolds, begonias, and Calendula are still as perky as ever. All my mint has flowered. Peas and yellow Crookneck squash are done.

It took me a little while to chop up all that yellow Crookneck squash as I accidentally chopped off a bit of the tip of my thumb. Ouch! Now that it's had a few days to heal, I've gotten back to it. I shredded part of it- filled a 1 gallon freezer bag with sandwich baggies consisting of 1 cup amounts. I also filled another 1 gallon freezer bag with cubed squash. There's a couple more to chop up but I think I'll save those for stir fry. There were also a few that got too big and hardy and I couldn't cut through them- they'll be used as fall decor.

Homemade Dinner Party #2

I can't believe it, but RD and I actually won "The Most Homemade" prize! We decided on making zucchini brownies- completely homemade, with zucchini from our garden. It's really yummy! And you'd never know there was zucchini in it!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Blanching tomatoes

For anyone who's never blanched tomatoes,
I thought I'd share a brief tutorial with you.

During the summer season, since our tomatoes tend to ripen at differing times, we've found it to be SO MUCH EASIER to blanch/skin the tomatoes as they come and freeze them until the entire harvest is completed. Then in one fell swoop, we can can can can can until we're done (usually all within the span of a weekend). It works for us because we don't have canning paraphernalia lying about all summer. :-)

------------------------------------------------------------------------------
So, without further ado: Blanching 101

Step 1: wash/rinse tomatoes; core
*if you have super juicy tomatoes, wait to core them*

Step 2: slit a (+) on the bottom
*this aids in the peeling process later*

Step 3: bring your water to a rolling boil; then carefully drop tomatoes in the water; set timer for 2 min.
*2 min. is only an approximation*
For large batches I often reuse the hot water- just bring it back to a rolling boil again (which it will do quickly since it's already still hot).

Step 4: remove tomatoes from boiling water and immediately place in COLD water
*this stops the cooking process*
To test whether your tomatoes are ready to be removed from the boiling water, they should start to split and peel and look like this:

Step 5: peel the skins off
*if you left the core in due to having a juicy tomato, now's the time to core it*
They should just slide ride off with ease.

Step 6: bag it and allow to cool

Step 7: seal and freeze (deep freeze)

When you're ready to start canning, simply thaw!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Waking up is hard to do

The Laryngospasms
These very talented singers are all American certified registered nurse anesthetists in Minnesota and they can really sing. They are also funny. Enjoy!

Homemade Dinner Party

My sister and her husband recently invited my family and several others to an up-coming Dinner Party this Saturday. The theme of the dinner is to be as homemade as possible in whatever dish you bring. Crushed wheat to make bread, garden fresh veggies, etc.

I had a brilliant idea! I don't have a cow or a goat to milk... but I can still produce my OWN milk! In fact, I've got some stored in the freezer still! That's as homemade as you can get! Maybe I could make something with that! Like brownies or cookies or something. (I was TOTALLY joking when I made the suggestion, mind you! *grin*) With that, they jokingly said they might un-invite me. Humph. Guess I'll have to come up with something else "homemade". ;-)

Apparently whoever makes the most homemade item wins a prize! Since my breast milk idea was squashed, I'll have to conjure up something else. Anyone have and ideas on what I could make?

Control Journal #2

Yea! Just got all my office supplies last night for my CJ! It's looking better (and fuller) all the time! I figure it's going to be something that morphs through time with the ebb and flow of family life. But at least it'll be all put together in one single reference spot! And I've been doing really well with sticking to a daily plan/schedule. I get so easily bogged down with this never ending to-do list. Now in just 15 min. segments, I'm finally getting stuff done! I've been working for 2 days now on our entrance alone. Today, I'll be able to finish deep cleaning/organizing it. It looks SOOOO much better! Something that I thought was insurmountable (come on- I have 4 kids!- how on earth would I have time to do that?) and I'm able to chunk away at it until completion! Pictures to come.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Control Journal & misc.

Here's my basic Control Journal.
I am planning on sprucing it up with colored tabs and dividers
(and a nicer binder!)

Example pages:


Tabs:
-Emergency Numbers
-Morning, Afternoon, & Evening Routine
-Basic Weekly Chore Plan
-Detailed Cleaning List
-Addresses and Phone Numbers
-Bible Reading and Memorization
-Birthdays, Anniversaries, & Special Occasions
-Book List (to read/want to read)
-Budget & Finances
-Christmas
-Crafts & Projects
-Exercise & Measurements
-Gardening
-Menu Planning & Grocery Shopping
-Praise & Worship Music
-Spanish
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Here's what we pulled from our garden!!!


I'm going to be a very busy woman this evening!
I think I'm just going to shred &/or cube the summer squash and freeze it. The tomatoes are going to be blanched, peeled and frozen until the entire harvest is through. Then, it'll be used for juice and salsa.
Oh, and did I tell you those "yellow squash mated with a zucchini" squash things are actually spaghetti squash?!!! How awesome is that?! (There's a couple of them in the picture above.)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Building a Control Journal

I'm starting on building my own Home Control Journal, which is basically a 3 ring binder filled with the in's and out's of our home: schedules, chore charts, budget, reading lists, menu planning, etc. I have a decent system going now, but it's scattered. I'm now putting together all the scattered pieces into an organized binder for easy reference. It's terribly basic as it's mostly just print-outs and whatnot. I hope to get it looking pretty and organized with tabs, folders, and pics. When I do, I'll be sure and post pics!

For anyone interested in creating your own Home Control Journal, check out these sites:

Home Management Binder

Control Journal

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Misc.

I'm trying my hand at a bit of drawing.
My girlfriend, Rebekah, has a son (now 5 months) with the absolute cutest baby feet! To boot, they're unique. Here's the photo I took of them and my Draft #1. Since I've never had any formal training in art/drawing, this is totally foreign to me. For Draft #2, I'm going to use the background as a marker on where to draw the feet, as Draft #1 is drawn way too close to the top.



My first green bean canning experience!
My father-in-law's secretary gave us a generous bag of fresh picked green beans from her garden. So my mother-in-law and I canned them! YUM!

Here's our first watermelon from our garden!
At first I wasn't sure if it was ripe enough to pick as the flesh was such a light pink, but the smell was just wonderful! And the taste?! NOTHING like I've ever received from the store. It was AMAZING!

The kids dried the seeds so we can use them in our garden next year!
Can't wait for more to be picked!

For seed packets, I used pictures the children had colored. Just took some of their best artwork, folded it into little pouches, poured the seeds in, and taped it shut for next year.
The kids love how their art is being used!

Monday, August 17, 2009

We've been thinking...

... and haven't quite come to a conclusion on this, but just how "harmless" are the princess, fairy, and Barbie dolls?



Never really thought about this much until here recently when I casually took a glimpse through my 6 year old daughter's doll stuff and realized for the first time that many of her dolls are actually quite "sexy". Hmmm. Not sure it's something I really want my daughter's filling their formidable minds with. Not a real accurate/Biblical view of femininity. She's got plenty of other dolls (Madame Alexander, Cabbage Patch, Dora, etc) that don't look at all sexy but are plenty fun to play with. Do our daughters really need these sexualized dolls to play with?
Are these the role models we want for them?...

Ugh... and what on earth do we do with all these DVD's and clothes we've accumulated?...

What are your thoughts?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

What's new...

I'm learning Spanish!!! I joined LiveMocha.com, a free on-line language learning program. We were originally going to buy from Rosetta Stone, but whew!, they're a bit pricey. LiveMocha is awesome because it's more than home learning. It's got online support, mentorship, chat rooms, native speaking people who will review and correct your written and verbal submissions, etc. I'm loving it! And what I learn, I turn around and teach my children. I would LOVE for them all to be bilingual!!! Can't wait till we know the language a bit more because there are a LOT of Hispanics that live around us that I could randomly strike up a conversation with and test my skills out on. :-)

Someone please tell me...

Why on earth do pizza joints like to be located next to fitness/weight loss centers? Seriously!


Friday, August 07, 2009

Misc.

I am currently training Edmund on "blanket time".
I'd heard the idea from my girlfriend (who's seen her Aunt successfully do this with her daughter) and I've been intrigued with the idea since. Since we currently live in a small home, our Pack-n-Play takes up almost a 1/3 of the living room! (And it's driving me nuts!) So.... I'm training Edmund to stay on a blanket rather than being dependent upon a play yard. It will be soooo nice having him trained. We'll be able to go pretty much anywhere (church, park, other people's homes, etc.) and NOT need to bring the clunky play pen along with us. Just a folded blanket! I'm training him in 10 min. spurts and for the past 2 days now, and he's really getting the hang of it! Let you all know how he does!

YIKES!
Got really busy one week and had THIS on my countertop!

~sigh~
Muuuuuch better!