Thursday, July 31, 2008

Making Mixes Is Easy and A Time Saver Too

In preparation for getting out of town for a few days my daughter has been making up some mixes- pancake, muffin, biscuit etc. We have found this is a wonderful way to speed up meal preparation so we all can take a vacation.

It's easy-take your favorite recipe and a zip lock bag. Write the mixing and baking instructions from your recipe on the bag with a sharpie marker - be sure to list the wet ingredients and items you'll be adding later that aren't in your mix. Next add all the dry ingredients to your bag and zip it up. The bag can either be stored in the refrig or freezer until your ready to go. We have found the bags pack neatly and tightly.

While we are making our mixes we keep two lists on hand one for other grocery items we want to take from home and another for our grocery list to purchase once we arrive. This way we ensure that all the ingredients needed to mix up our dish are on hand. We also make seasoning packets for spaghetti sauce, tacos or other dishes we'll be preparing that week. My daughter likes to label her mixes with the day she'll be preparing them- so while the mixes are being made the menus are all planned out.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Write on the bag -Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a separate bowl combine- 1 2/3 cups honey; 1 cup oil; 3 eggs; 1 3/4 cups milk; 2 teaspoons vanilla flavoring; 2 teaspoons lemon flavoring. Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Pour into greased muffin cups and bake for 20-30 minutes.

Place in bag- 3 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour; 1 Tablespoon baking powder; 1 1/2 teaspoon salt; 1/4 cup poppy seeds.

Note: this makes a lot you may want to half the recipe.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

Guess you can tell what I've been up to lately. After a rather busy weekend I succumbed to a sore throat, achy body, and a general overall lousy feeling.

I'm back on my feet (somewhat) today after a day of rest and many healthy "treatments". Here are a few of my favorites:

Routine Care and Immunity Boosting

  • Emergen C- we love these little packets- contains 1000 mg of vitamin C & many extras (our Walmart carries these)
  • garlic capsules- taken daily to boost immunity
Sore Throat Treatment
  • gargle with warm salt water (I remember doing this as a child)- it really works and is so soothing!
  • make a warm drink of lemon juice and honey- sip on this throughout the day to relieve a dry scratchy throat
Overall Lousy Feeling
  • Berry Well- we just love this stuff. A teaspoon 3 times a day helps shorten an illness and reduce the severity.
  • Echinacea Complete Care Wellness Tea by Celestial Seasonings- two to three cups a day as soon as you notice any symptoms.
Ear Ache
  • Garlic Ear Oil- I wished I had known this remedy when the children were younger- it seems as if we went through dozens of antibiotics. For achy ears we put drops in the ear canal three times a day. I haven't used an antibiotic for ear aches in eight years!
What about you? What are your favorite home remedies?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Monday Meditation

I really don't pay a lot of attention to all the imperfections in my home until I start to clean. Suddenly it begins to become painfully aware how many things are broken and worn out. The pedal on the trash can, the vacuum cleaner taped together, the broken window, the couches painfully in need of an upholstery job, etc. etc. Thoughts can run rampant and this mother of many can end up easily becoming depressed.

Last week we were getting ready to have a few folks over for dinner and if you have a larger than "normal" family like we do a few families quickly adds up to about fifty people. Right inside our front door is a door mat given to us by a very special family last year for Christmas. The inscription reads: "As for me and my house we will serve the Lord".

While getting ready for company and staring at the rug I was trying to decide is it too worn out, should I put it up before our company comes? Then it dawned on me the reason why it was "worn out"- feet passing in and out. That's it -we're here to be used- our homes, our possessions, our lives given for the glory and service of Christ.

Worn out or just coming into season-how's it with you?

Friday, July 25, 2008

It's Not Too Late

The other day I was visiting with a friend and she made the comment, "peppers are selling for $1.00/each you can buy a plant for cheaper than that". I thought how true.

With the price of food lately even if you're an armchair gardener growing just a few things can translate into big grocery savings. And the best news, (depending upon where you live) it's not too late. When I was in Walmart today I noticed they still had pepper, tomato, and other vegetable plants for sale.

In Patricia Lanza' s Lasagna Gardening for Small Spaces: A Layering System for Big Results in Small Gardens and Containers she has tons of tips for growing vegetables in containers. So, if traditional gardening is not "your thing" and you'd still like to save a little on your grocery budget you may want to give her method a try.

On the other hand, it you love to garden and are bursting at the seams with produce, pour yourself a big glass of iced tea, and get some good food preservation tips at the carnival of home preserving.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Easy Rag Quilt

My girls had so much fun making this rag quilt

If you can cut squares and sew straight lines you can make this quilt.

Check out these easy directions

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I Really Don't Know What I Was Thinking

We had been blueberry picking once already and come home with five gallons, but the bushes were still loaded and I couldn't stand the thought of leaving so many on the bush.

Soooooooooo, back we go and home again with five more gallons. My thought being they are so delicious, so easy to freeze, so wonderful to cook with and on and on.

Anyway, if you have a surplus too, here are some more ideas-

Blueberry smoothie-

Fresh blueberries, frozen bananas, and yogurt

Wonderful Blueberry Oat Coffee Cake
Preheat oven to 325 degrees

4 Tablespoons butter melted
1 cup oats

Wet ingredients:
1 cup milk or buttermilk
2/3 cup honey
4 eggs

Dry ingredients:
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
5 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

Mix the topping ingredients together and set aside. Combine the next four wet ingredients and mix well. In a separate bowl combine the next five ingredients dry ingredients and mix together. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, mix briefly, and pour into a greased 9x13x2 glass pan.

Sprinkle the blueberries and topping on top. Bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes.

Does anyone have a recipe for blueberry jam?

Has anyone dehydrated blueberries?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

It's Been Awfully Quiet Up There... today I thought I'd go check. I'd seen the girls in and out, up and down quietly doing....something. Let's go see.

What fun laundry bags!

This idea came from Romantic Home Sewing by Christina Strutt.

Chapters include: Living Room, Bedroom and bathroom, Clothes and accessories, Gifts, Instructions, Templates, Stocklists, and Index.

In addition to the beautiful photography and clever ideas there is a full section in the back complete with instructions and templates.

Check your library- that's where we got ours.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Monday Meditation

May the mind of Christ, my Savior,
Live in me from day to day,
By His love and power controlling
All I do and say.

May the Word of God dwell richly
In my heart from hour to hour,
So that all may see I triumph
Only through His power.

May the peace of God my Father
Rule my life in everything,
That I may be calm to comfort
Sick and sorrowing.

May the love of Jesus fill me
As the waters fill the sea;
Him exalting, self abasing,
This is victory.

May I run the race before me,
Strong and brave to face the foe,
Looking only unto Jesus
As I onward go.

May His beauty rest upon me,
As I seek the lost to win,
And may they forget the channel,
Seeing only Him.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Vinegar.....Don't You Love It?

Increase soil acidity. In hard water areas, add a cup of vinegar to a gallon of tap water for
watering acid loving plants like rhododendrums, gardenias, or azaleas. The vinegar will release iron in the soil for the plants to use.

Kill grass on walks and driveways. Pour full strength on unwanted grass.

Deter ants. Spray vinegar around door and window frames, under appliances, and along other known ant trails.

Keep cats away. Sprinkle vinegar on an area to discourage cats from walking,sleeping, or
scratching on it.

Relieve itching by using a cotton ball to dab mosquito and other bug bites with Vinegar straight from the bottle.

Cure for colds. Mix one-quarter cup Apple Cider Vinegar with one-quarter cup honey.
Take one tablespoon six to eight times daily.

Remove fruit stains from hands. Rub with vinegar.

Use in laundry to cut soap.

Keep bright colors from running. Immerse clothes in full strength vinegar for 10 minutes before washing.

Freshen up the washing machine. Clean the hoses and unclog soap scum.

Freshen vegetables. Soak wilted vegetables in 2 cups of water and a tablespoon of vinegar.

Boil better eggs by adding 2 tablespoons water before boiling. Keeps them from cracking.

Vinegar can help to dissolve mineral deposits that collect in automatic drip coffee makers. Fill the reservoir with vinegar and run it through a brewing cycle. Rinse thoroughly with water when the cycle is finished. (Be sure sure to check the owners manual for
specific instructions).

Brass, copper and pewter will shine if cleaned with the following mixture. Dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of distilled vinegar.

Clean the dishwasher by running a cup of vinegar through the whole cycle once a month to reduce soap build up on the inner mechanisms and on glassware.

Make your own scouring cleanser by combining 1/4 cup baking soda with 1 tablespoon liquid detergent. Add just enough white distilled vinegar to give it a thick but creamy texture.

Clean counter tops and make them smell sweet again with a cloth soaked in undiluted white distilled vinegar.

Clean the shelves and walls of the refrigerator with a half-and-half solution of water and white distilled vinegar.

Cut the grime on the top of the refrigerator with a paper towel or cloth and full-strength white distilled vinegar.

Get rid of fruit flies by setting out a small dish of undiluted white distilled vinegar.

Create your own window cleaning solution by combining 1/2 cup non-sudsy ammonia, 1 cup white distilled vinegar, and 2 tablespoons cornstarch in a gallon of water.

What's your favorite vinegar tip?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Baking With Whole Wheat Flour -Part I

Part I - All Whole Wheat Flour is Not Created Equal

Here is an interesting article from describing the differences between different types of whole wheat flour. If you are trying to switch to whole wheat flour or just add more whole wheat to your recipes it is important that you understand the differences between hard wheat and soft wheat.

Whole-Wheat Flour

Whole-wheat flour is produced from grinding the full wheat berry (kernel). All parts of the wheat berry are used in the flour including the bran, germ, and the endosperm, which when milled, creates the speckled brown color that is characteristic of the flour. Three granulations (particle size) of whole-wheat are produced: fine, medium, and coarse. The particle size influences the rate liquid is absorbed into the flour. Finer grained flour absorbs liquid at a faster rate than medium or coarse grains, thus affecting the preparation of the dough.

Fine grain whole-wheat flour is used for all types of baked goods, such as breads, rolls, and pastries. Medium grained can be used for the same types of foods, but will provide a coarser crumb. Coarse whole-wheat flour has a much larger bran particle and consequently is most often used to provide breads with natural, nutty flavors and rough textures.

Whole-wheat flour used for bread making is usually milled from red wheat. White whole-wheat flour is milled from hard white winter wheat and has a milder flavor, lighter color, and a texture that is not as course. Whole-wheat flour used alone in bread making results in a nutritious, but smaller and denser loaf due to the bran, which hinders the dough from rising fully. In order to create a bread loaf that is a bit lighter and of greater volume, it is often best to combine whole-wheat flour with all-purpose flour or bread flour. Whole-wheat flour may also be referred to as entire wheat flour or graham flour (although there are some differences).

Whole-Wheat Pastry Flour

Like refined white pastry flour, whole-wheat pastry flour is produced from soft-wheat and it has a fine-texture and a high starch content, however not all of the bran and germ portions of the wheat kernel have been removed during the milling process. Because of the presence of some of the bran and germ, pastry items made with whole-wheat pastry flour are more nutritious than pastries made with white pastry flour, but they are not quite as light and airy.

Stay Tuned- Part II- Recipes and Tips for Adapting Your Recipes

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Blueberries!!! Muffins Anyone?

The blueberries are in and boy are they sweet. Some of my children helped me pick and between the seven of us we got 5 gallons and are planning to go back for more. The bushes belong to a neighbor of ours and we couldn't believe how loaded they were. You could stand in one spot and pick forever.

Here are two of our favorite blueberry muffin recipes. One is the sweet bakery type- white flour, white sugar- terrible for you but wonderfully fluffy and delicious.

The other is slightly sweet and much more hearty- made with whole wheat flour, oats and honey. Good for you and good tasting too.

What mood are you in?

Blueberry Streusel Muffins

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup all- purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter softened

Cream butter; gradually add 1/3 cup sugar, beating at medium speed of an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg, beating well

Combine 2 1/3 cups flour, baking powder, and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk, stirring well after each addition. Stir in vanilla extract, and fold in blueberries

Spoon batter into greased muffin pans, filling two-thirds full. Combine topping ingredients with a pastry blender until crumbly. Sprinkle on top of muffin batter. Bake at 375 degrees 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans immediately. Yield 1 1/2 dozen

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

Wet Ingredients:
2 cups rolled oats
2 cups milk
2 eggs
2/3 cup honey
2/3 cup canola oil

Dry Ingredients
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon soda

1 1/2 cup blueberries

Combine the wet ingredients using a wire whisk.

In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients.

Add both mixtures together. Gently stir in the blueberries

Pour the batter into greased muffin cups

Bake 400 degrees for about 20 minutes or until light brown.

What's your favorite blueberry treat?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

What is That Refreshing Smell?

We had a terrific time at the herb class held recently at the Cedar House. Olivia did an outstanding job teaching us about herbs- how to grow them; how to cook with them. She had herbs displayed everywhere and the minute you walked into the room the wonderful aroma hit you in the face. I thought-"wouldn't it be wonderful if we could get our house to smell like this?"

We came home with recipes, a pot of growing herbs, and a bag of dried spearmint. One of the ladies who attended the class bought a large bag of dried spearmint to share with everyone- the scent was wonderful. I came home heated a little on the stove to "scent" up the kitchen. Then the bag just kinda sat. Whenever I came into the kitchen I'd smell the spearmint through the bag. Then the thought occurred- what about herb sachets? We had some pretty little drawstring bags- I filled them with the dried herb and sat them around in the bathroom and kitchen- ahhhhh what a wonderful smell.

What about you what do you do with your dried or fresh herbs?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Monday Meditations

Refreshing Wonderful......Rain!

The rain has socked in, puddles are forming all over the pasture, and I'm feeling like crawling up with a good book. I don't think I realized until recently the impact that last year's drought had on me. I had never lived through a drought or even been in drought like conditions before. It was so sad to see everything so brown and dry. There were no all day rains and very few showers. There was dust everywhere. Any time spent outdoors was miserable because of the heat, dust, and continual reminders of dryness. Time that had been spent in the garden was a total waste as we watered what we could, but it still died in spite of our efforts. All the news was totally depressing- there was no forecast of rain in sight and water restrictions and shortages were reported everywhere- not to mention the risk of forest fires. There was nothing we could do- nothing, but God could make it rain. In our culture there are very few things we can't fix, but this was one of them- nothing and no one but God could make it rain, and rain is something we desperately needed.

This summer has been totally different. The grass and trees are green- the garden is growing- puddles are forming-and ...we've had rain. Not flooding mind you, but what we need. It still gets dry, but just about the time it gets really dry rains.

There are not a whole lot of things these days that remind us of our total dependence on God. But shouldn't we really live all our days as if we were in a drought- totally dependent on God- for truly we are.

"I also will give you rain unto your land in due time, the first rain and the later, that thou mayest gather in thy wheat, and thy wine, and thine oil. Also I will send grass in thy field for thy cattle, that thou mayest eat, and have enough. But beware lest your heart deceive you , and lest ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them." Deuteronomy 11:14

Friday, July 11, 2008

We Love the Sue Gregg Cookbooks

Can you tell?

Do any of y'all use Sue Gregg's cookbooks? We love her recipes and meal ideas. Her books are much more than just recipes- she has cooking tips, menu ideas, nutrition facts galore, and dollar amount per serving! Wow- so much information in one location. Here's one of our standbys-

Tuna Fettuchini

amount 6 servings

1. To cook pasta, add noodles, salt, and oil to boiling water and cook until barely tender, 5-6 minutes; drain and rinse in cold water
4 quarts boiling water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon oil
8 oz. whole grain noodles

2. Saute nuts and vegetables in butter:
1/4 cup melted butter, unsalted
1/4 cup almonds, slivered or chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
or 1 teaspoon ready to use cut garlic

3. Blend together in large bowl and fold in cooked noodles and sauteed ingredients:
1 cup sour cream or light sour cream
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt

4. Gently fold in:
6 1/2 ounce can tuna, water pack
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 cup frozen peas (broken apart)

5. Pour into a 2 1/2 quart casserole and bake 350 degrees until bubbly.

taken from Casseroles Meals in Minutes by Sue Gregg

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Now's The Time!!!

Pumpkin Time

It is time to get started for that perfect fall pumpkin.

We've also started some broccoli and lettuce. It maybe too early on the lettuce, we'll let you know. It has been in the nineties this week- I'm dreaming of fall :)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Fancy Handkerchiefs

How about dressing up a simple cotton handkerchief? We found a package of cotton handkerchiefs at our local Walmart store and decided to add a fancy feminine border. You can use a border from some crochet patterns you have on hand or use our simple pattern as follows.

Using a very fine crochet hook (size 10 or 1.3mm) and cotton crochet thread stick the hook firmly into the fabric and work around the handkerchief in single crochet stitches. This will be your foundation row. The next time around we made a shell stitch- skip stitch, slip stitch, *3 dc in the same stitch, skip stitch, skip stitch, repeat from * until the corner sc . On the corner single crochet we worked 3 double crochet, chain 3, 3 double crochet in the same stitch.

Don't worry you can't mess it up and this project is a wonderful opportunity for beginners to practice easy stitches. You can place the handkerchief, ball of thread, and needle in a zip lock bag and its perfect for time in the car or waits in the doctor's office.

If you have trouble getting your crochet needle to poke through the cotton fabric machine baste in large stitches around the handkerchief and then pull the thread out. The machine needle will have made the hole for you. Start your single crochets about 1/4 inch inside the edge of your handkerchief. It'll be pretty!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Easy Breezy Squash Casserole

Yes, here it is the first squash casserole of the season- and I have a feeling not the last!

Easy Squash Casserole

6-8 good size yellow squash
1 large videlia onion
bread crumbs
cheddar cheese

Slice squash and thickly dice onion. Boil until tender and drain. Pour squash and onion into a large casserole dish and dot generously with butter. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and sage. Top with bread crumbs and cheddar cheese. Bake until bubbly.

What are you doing with your squash? Send ideas soon I'm drowning in squash!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Monday Meditations

Now is the time to get things done...
wade in the water,
sit in the sun,
squish my toes
in the mud by the door,
explore the world in a boy just four.

Now is the time to study books,
how a cloud looks;
to ponder "up,"
where God sleeps nights,
why mosquitoes take such big bites.

Later there'll be time
to sew and clean,
paint the hall
that soft new green,
to make new drapes,
refinish the floor-
Later on..when he's not just four.

Irene Foster
"Time Is of the Essence"

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Simple Summer Menu

Homemade Tuna Salad-
in a tomato flower

Sauteed Green Beans

Whole Wheat Parmesan Cheese Toast

Tip-for a heartier tuna salad add finely chopped: celery, green pepper, purple onion, boiled egg, and walnuts.

Yum, yum- easy and cool!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th of July Whole Wheat Sugar Cookies

Whole Wheat Sugar Cookies

2 sticks butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond flavoring
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt

Beat softened butter with sugar until very creamy. Add egg and flour mixed with baking power and salt. Mix briefly and then add the vanilla. Beat one final time. At this point you can either drop the cookies onto a baking sheet or put them through a cookie press. If you would like to roll them and cut them into shapes they need to be refrigerated for several hours.

Bake at 350-375 degrees for about 10 minutes or until light brown.
Decorate if desired and enjoy!

We love to make these cookies because not only are they very versatile and easy to make- we always have the ingredients on hand- they are only slightly sweet. If you like a really sweet cookie you can decorate these with icing or sugars to your hearts content or you can leave them plain and they still taste good. We've also been know to add chocolate chips:).

Coming soon- tips on baking with whole wheat flour.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Other Side of The Story

"Martha takes a most prosaic view of this proceeding, in which she detects malice prepense on my part. She says I shall now have one mouth the more to fill and two feet the more to shoe, more disturbed nights, more laborious days, and less leisure or visiting, reading , music and drawing.

Well! This is one side of the story,to be sure, but I look at the other. Here is a sweet mouth to kiss; here are two more feet to make music with their pattering about my nursery. Here is a soul to train for God; and the body in which it dwells is worthy all it will cost, since it is the abode of a kingly tenant. I may see less of friends, but I have gained one dearer than them all, to whom, while I minister in Christ's name, I make a willing sacrifice of what little leisure for my own recreation my other darlings had left me. Yes, my precious baby, you are welcome to your mother's heart, welcome to her time, her strength, her health, her tenderest cares, to her lifelong prayers! Oh, how rich I am, how truly how wondrously blest!
excerpted from Stepping Heavenward
by Mrs. Elizabeth Prentiss

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Necessary Business

Yes, this is a picture of our front yard. This was not an easy way to learn that a septic tank should be pumped out about every 3-5 years. Ours had never been pumped out and consequently the field lines had to be replaced- ouch!

Anyone have any good suggestions for natural additives to keep septic systems healthy? It was recommended that we give our system a good dose of Ridex every month. I'm sure there has to be a more natural cheaper solution.

What a mess, but what a lesson in gratefulness- for indoor plumbing that works!!