Monday, December 14, 2015

College is out and it is almost Christmas

My college classes are done. I pulled A's thank goodness. Not that I have to get all A's but I hate to do all of that work and it not be recognized. So now we are in Christmas mode. We are making pumpkin bread for folks at school.
It is just enough that everyone gets a good taste and wants more. It is so yummy. I like giving baked goods at Christmas because I can make a bunch for cheap and not many people bake anymore, so it is a good treat. 

The oldest two are in El Salvador for a week. They earned all of their own money to go and I am so proud of them. It should be a memorable trip for sure. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Fall Break

We have been very busy lately. So busy that I have had no time to blog or anything else. Between me working full time and going to school full time at night and football season and soccer we are busy. Add our church commitments and we are slightly overloaded. We don't want to quit anything so we keep going. 

Natalie recently got her learners. God help us all. 

Ashley went to homecoming dance. So pretty and growny. 
We also have baby pigs. Ha ha. 

We are going to look at colleges tomorrow. I will let you know what we think. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Why I work in the pubic school system and cream of chicken soup

I wanted to write for a minute about why I work I the public schools.  I have a degree in business and accounting and could work at an accounting firm or a bank, make more money than I am making now, and have a lot less stress and not have to deal with children or the behaviors that come with them.  However, after my little boy went to school, I started looking for a job in the school system so that I could have the same work schedule as the kid's school schedule.  We lived in a different town than we are in now, and when I went for an interview I didn't get a job at all.  I started that year off working in a church preschool.  After Thanksgiving I was called and asked if I wanted a job working in a severe and profound high school special education room.  This is something that I had never considered, but I decided to give it a try and I found out that I love special needs.

Fast forward to a few years later and I now work in an elementary school with children with learning disabilities.  Most of these kids need extra help in the classroom to do their work and some need remediation in a pull out setting.  I feel like the kids I help are the ones who are most in need of a teacher to teach them, and this is where I come in.  This is also a great place to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  We have so many children who have terrible home lives, and I get to show these kids a little kindness.  We have some who need a listening ear, and I get to do that too.  When their peers or even classroom teachers don't understand the way they are I get to step in and help and this lets the children know that someone cares.  While most people run away from the needy students that struggle academically as well as socially I am attracted to them.  I can't really explain it, but I feel a connection to the struggling student when we achieve our little goals.  I don't get paid much, but that is ok.  Life is not about how much money you make, it is about the impact you have on other people's lives, and I am in the perfect place to make that impact.

On to homemade cream of chicken soup.

Yes I will use canned soup, especially if I am in a hurry, but homemade soup is cheap and much tastier.  It is not a thick as canned so take that into consideration if you are putting it in a casserole.  All I do is make a basic white sauce.  I take three tbsp. of butter and melt it in a pan with five tbsp. of flour.  Stir this around and add two cups of milk.  Cook this until the sauce it thick and bubbly.  You need to continue to stir it because the milk can burn.  I then add two chicken bullion cubes, or you could add the powder or the paste. whatever you have on hand.  I buy the bullion from SAMs and it lasts me forever.  That is it and it is easy.  If I am doing a big batch cooking I will double or triple this recipe to go in all of the dishes that need cream soup. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Cranberry Pork Roast

I had promised that I would share some recipes from my freezer cooking. I don't want to share them until we have tried them so that I could recommend them or not. I highly recommend the cranberry pork loin. It was so easy and good. I bought a really big pork loin from SAMs and cut it into four pieces for four different dinners. Depending on the size of your family and how much meat you eat, you might be able to get four dinners out of it or you might only want to get three.  Anyway, I put my pork roast in a freezer bag with a can of whole craberry sauce and a package of onion soup mix and put it in the freezer.

  On cooking day I ran the bag under hot water to loosen it and put it in the crockpot on low. I also added some baby carrots that we're getting dry.  When I got home at 5:00 I chopped the meat and put it back in the sauce and added a little water.  I cooked pasta to go with it but it would have been good with rice too.  I served it with home canned green beans.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

The night before the last day of summer

I did a little grocery shopping and preparing of food this weekend.  We are starting back to school this week.  I have to go back tomorrow and the kids come on Friday.  This is some of the food that I bought.
These are some of the food that I prepped. The gallon baggies are crock pot freezer meals and the pans have casseroles in the them.  I also prepped a meatloaf and some hamburger patties.

Some have been asking me for recipes/  I don't want to give any until we have tried the food.  Some of these are new to me and some are old.  I will give one that is easy and we all like.
Crockpot Freezer Fajitas
Place in a gallon freezer bag:
4 boneless chicken breast
1 green pepper chopped
1 onion chopped
one envelope of taco seasoning
juice of one lime
Place in freezer until ready to use.  On the day of use run bag under hot water to loosen and place contents of bag into crock pot.  Cook on low 8 to 10 hours.  Shred chicken with fork.  Serve on flour tortillas with cheese and salsa and fixings of choice. 
It helps us so much to have food in the freezer.  It saves us so much time and money.   I keeps lunch and sandwich makings in the fridge and cereal, eggs, grits, and bagels for breakfast.  This should be enough for the month along with what we already had in the freezer and pantry.  I will have to go to the store for milk and a few other things, but not another big shop for a while. 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

In a different time

Life has been busy around here. I have been canning and shopping but not the kind of shopping most of my friends are doing.

I realized long ago that I probably should have lived at a different time. Don't get me wrong, I like electricity (especially in the summer in Georgia) and I like to use technology (especially when writing a paper for college classes), but I really don't enjoy main stream activities. I don't enjoying shopping and consumerism. I prefer to buy things used or not at all. I don't like dinners out very often (but I do enjoy eating Japanese food with my family on my birthday or dinner out with friends)'and I don't really like going to the movies. TV is fairly boring and in my opinion leads back to consumerism that I avoid. 

What do I really like to do?  I like to cook and clean and organize my home. I like to visit farmers markets and natural markets to find fresh food and new things to try in the kitchen. I like to read just about anything. I like knitting and needlework but I am not a good sewer or crafter. I like to have good conversation, spend time with my family, take walks whe the weather is nice, swimming, studying and church activities. I also love to attend any activity my children are participating in.  We like camping as a family and discovering new state parks and new areas. We all love nature and like to hike and explore in the fall and spring. 

I know that I am not alone. There are other people like me that don't  enjoy shopping, eating out and running the rat race. It just seems that every time we go to town that there are so many that are into this kind of lifestyle and we are the minority. Even in the workplace I often don't feel like I know the tv shows or movies the others know or haven't been to that restaurant or been shopping at the nice stores and don't really seem like I fit in, but then I have things that they don't have. I have a large family that loves to linger at the table talking after a homemade dinner. I have kids that enjoy the simple things and really appreciate it when I buy them something. We study gods word together and try to live the way he would want us to. 

So even if I feel like we live different from many others it is not a bad way to live. In fact, we all quite enjoy it. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Getting stuff done.

I am trying to get a few last things done before school starts back up. With the start of school starts work for me and college classes and football and soccer and and and...  Do you see what a I mean. Busy busy busy.

Yesterday I took my mom to Woodstock to Bread Beckers. It is a small place where we buy all of our wheat for whole wheat baking. I love going there. I always learn something new. It's is kind of like hanging out with the hippies, which I guess I have kind of evolved over the years into a cross between a hippie and a redneck.   Anyway the trip was fun and informative. I enjoyed the time with my mom. We don't see eye to eye on everything but we don't let that hinder our relationship. We just agree to disagree.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

School supplies

I have a love/hate relationship with school supplies. Everyone loves new pens, shiny new binders and fresh notebooks. Not to mention the clothes, shoes, and new stuff needed for school and it gets expensive. I have to buy stuff in chunks so it is not so much at once. I start in the beginning of July looking for new shoes and clothes. Then later do school supplies. I try to catch stuff on sale and buy for the whole school year. 

Today we went and saw Ant Man. It was better than I expected. We went to the orthodontist and then home for dinner   I then made chicken broccoli cheese casserole and it was so good. I made it with homemade cream of chicken soup. Yummy. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A trip to the beach.

These kids really enjoy being together. Yes we sometimes get on each other's nerves but it is to be expected. We do live together. Sometimes someone is teenagerie acting and needs a moment but generally they enjoy each other. 

We didn't do much at the beach but relax. We are not big lay on the beach people. We are too pale, but we do enjoy swimming in the ocean. We also like walking on the beach at night. 

The kids played lots of cards and games of clue. I cooked seafood a few times. We did go out for ice cream but not out to dinner. It is too expensive to take 6 out at a resort. At least for us it is. 

All in all we had a good time and had some down time. School starts for me next Monday. Yikes!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

These are some pictures from Emma's birthday.  My baby girl is 13.  What is even harder to believe is that my oldest girl is 17 and a senior.  Crazy. 
Our summer has been busy.  We have had VBS, Youth Camp, trips to the beach, and various play dates and work.  I have been canning like crazy.  If I can find some pictures I will post them.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Beans Beans Everywhere

We had friends that told us that they were done picking beans in their garden and that we could pick some.  We have planted some in our garden, but they are not ready yet.  We got our garden in late because of all of the wet weather.  Here is what we picked last night in under an hour.

We will snap them today and I hope to can them tomorrow.  I like to have about 50-75 cans of beans to last the winter. We eat them about once a week and I always bring them when someone has a need for a meal.  Fresh beans are yummy.

I have to buckle down and get some schoolwork done.  I am enjoying the summer break too much.  We spent all yesterday afternoon by the pool and had a great time.  Oh well, it is summer and I am enjoying my summer.

I have also been walking.  I enjoy walking down the country dirt road near my house.  Here is what the view looks like.

Isn't that lovely.  We have been living here for about five years and we love the country.  Sometimes the kids miss having kids in the neighborhood nearby, but we import plenty and we love our quiet time.  I love socializing with others, but at heart I love just being at home with my family.

I guess I am going to go walk.  Evan wants to go with me and do some running.  He wants to get ready for soccer.  Gotta love some kids who like to be active.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Summer Begins Now

Well I was supposed to go to some training today and my summer was supposed to start tomorrow, but I got an email that it had been cancelled so now my summer starts.  We are going to do some cleaning and putting away today and go shopping this afternoon.  Ashley needs some shorts.  We are going to start at Plato's Closet.  If you haven't been there it is a great consignment store.  It mostly sells teen clothes, but sometimes we find mom jeans and shirts.  They have name brand stuff at good prices, so we will start there.  If we don't find much then we will go to Kohls.  We always have coupons for them and they have decent prices.

We had  deacon's dinner at our church last night.  We had smoked chicken and everyone brought sides.  Sometimes I am asked how do we afford not only to feed our family, but to bring dishes to church event, bring other families meals, and have others over all the time.  One way is to have some tried and true recipes that are cost efficient and can be made with bulk items that I keep in stock.  One of our favorites is crock pot mac and cheese.

This is easy.  I cook about three cups of macaroni noodles in boiling water.  In the crock pot I add half a stick of butter, about a cup of milk, three eggs, about three cups of shredded cheese, and a teaspoon of salt.  I mix it all up a cook on low for a few hours.  I like to add some Velveeta if I have it.  If it starts looking dry I add more milk.  This gets eaten every time I bring it somewhere.

I buy macaroni noodles in five pound bags and cheese in five pound bags from Sams so I usually have them on hand.  Having main ingredients for several basic dishes makes bringing a dish somewhere easy, especially if you work full time and don't have time to go to the store.

Well, I have to get off the computer and do some exercise.  My goal is to walk in the mornings and swim in the afternoons.  I have gotten soft this winter and eaten way too much junk.  Time to do something about that!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

I know I haven't posted in forever.  There has been so much going on that I don't know where to start.  We had the death of a close friend a few month ago and while his wife was trying to get her feet back under her we got custody of there kids.  They have four kids and we have four kids so that made eight kids at my house.  Couple that with working full time, going to school at night, and everything else in my life, we have been pretty busy.  Now at last things are settling down and we only have our kids at home now.  Don't they look lovely.
I have only one more day of school work and then it is officially my summer break.  I am taking one college level class this summer, but besides that I am free.  If you don't count VBS, youth camp, and various other things that we like to participate in.
I have missed posting pictures. Here are some prom pictures.  I think Ashley was beautiful but I am biased.

These two are beautiful inside and out.  They both have a love of Christ and a heart for missions. 

Well, we have one more day of training then here comes summer.  Yeah!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Pantry Challenge update January 2

I went and did some shopping today.  Normally Wal-Mart is not my first choice for grocery shopping.  I don't think that they always have the best prices, but our little town only has a Wal-Mart and an Ingles and I wanted to get a few things to round out meals for the next week or so.  It was raining and I couldn't justify making the 15 mile trip to the bigger city so I went to Wal-Mart and got a few things.
I spent about $45 today.  I hate that the little pack of ground beef was $7.00 but I will mix it with some ground deer meat and make a meat loaf and some hamburger patties.  The bag of chicken was also $10.00 but at least it had 5 pounds of meat in it.  I wasn't planning on buying 8 pounds of pinto beans but it was such a good price at $6.00 that I couldn't pass it up.  I am hopping that we can put together about 10 meals from this and what we have on hand and that next weekend all I will need to get is some more fruit and some milk.  We will see.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year

I know I still have to post my last El Salvador post and I will do that later today or tomorrow.  I really wanted to tell everyone Happy New Year.  We had a bunch over here from our church and a few family members over for New Years Eve.  I like to do New Years Eve because it is after Christmas and before school starts back up so I feel like I have lots of time to get ready for the party and to clean up after.  We love having people over, but with our work and school schedules we don't do it as often as I would like.

Also, I wanted to report on the pantry challenge so far.  We did make a trip to Kroger and to Aldi to get some New Years Eve party food.  I didn't include all of this in my $50 a week but I wanted to show that by shopping sales and discount you can still have a nice party.

 This came from Kroger.  The total was $14.00  The cream cheese and sour cream were on sale.  The broccoli wasn't but I wanted it for a stir fry and the English muffins we made mini pizzas out of.
 This picture is from Aldi. We spent about $35 on these.  We needed the cookies and white chocolate chips to make Oreo balls which is a New Years Eve tradition.
Here are the Oreo balls. Think the kids counted 185 of them.  I think all got eaten except for three.  They are always very popular.

So tonight I will make a pot of spaghetti.  I have home canned tomatoes and the herbs on hand and lots of pasta so I wont need anything from the store.  We don't like black eyed peas or collard greens so we don't usually have a traditional meal.