Feb 182017
 

making breakfast exciting again collage

We may not be trapped at home with feet of snow, though part of me really wishes we were, yet it is still winter and the perfect time for warm breakfast foods.

With a lot of changes to our routines coming up, again, I am looking for some quick yet easy things to add to our breakfast rotation on weekdays.  While I could literally eat the same thing for breakfast every day, my kids finally revolted.

Mom, enough.  Can we please have something else?

My kids tend to be carb lovers, yet burn enough calories to need protein with their meals. Especially with breakfast. I have chosen to find new recipes that hopefully lean toward more protein than carbs.

My boys can eat more than me, if they decide they actually like their food.  Actually, they could almost out eat me when they were only 3 or 4, and I am not exactly a light eater.  They are not necessarily picky eaters, but more along the lines of “we finally have a enough to eat that we can have foods we prefer to eat.”  And that is why I am wanting to put dwarf fruit trees in my next garden/yard, along with vegetables and root vegetables.

Having these on hand allows me to plan for some of the more expensive or not-normally-on-our-shopping-list items.  I doubt these can be made for $0.50 a person, which is where I like to keep most weekday breakfasts.  However, I might find I am wrong, which would be lovely.

A few of these would also be good as a sandwich version, made ahead and frozen for reheating.  Also, a few call for croissants*, which are not cheap but can be found on sale if you look for them.  *I am not talking about crescent rolls, though those are also in a few recipes.  They are similar but not the same.

While my husband we love to have croissants for breakfast, if you do not eat them in time they are not as nice.  Or so my husband says.  His palate is more in tune to that sort of thing.  You can also find older ones on discount at the grocery store.  I am thinking those would be good for some of these recipes, especially for those who will be soaked in eggs and milk.

Here are 10 recipes I plan to try out in the upcoming days:

  1. Egg Croissant Casserole Recipe
  2. Sausage McMuffin Casserole
  3. Cheesy Tat Tot Breakfast Bake
  4. Easy Cheesy Breakfast Casserole
  5. Overnight Mexican Breakfast Casserole
  6. Breakfast Enchilada Bake
  7. Spinach, Feta, and Artichoke Breakfast Bake
  8. Italian Breakfast Casserole
  9. Farmer’s Market Overnight Breakfast Egg Casserole
  10. Broccoli, Ham, Mozzarella Baked with Eggs
Dec 052016
 

This post contains affiliate links.

kids-garden-containers

When I was younger, think college, my plan was to work for a few years to gain experience.  After a few years, I would move back to the rural county I grew up in.  I grew up in the same county as 99% of my family.  My friends were from the same county as 99% of their family.  We used to joke that no one left the county; we all were born there and would live there till we died.  Yet, I did not mind that fact.  I liked knowing the history of the area, who used to farm where, the valley where my great great grandparents raised their family (their two room house was still there, along with the newspaper insulation and back porch kitchen), and the fact that the lakes now used for fishing and swimming were CCC projects during the Great Depression.

Yeah, it did not happen that way.  Something I had not planned on took place and changed all my plans.  I met a guy who brought me flowers and walked me home from my late night job, even when it was cold and snowing. A few months later he asked me to marry him.  And so the tour of growing zones began.

Contrary to my previously self-decided plans of living and working in the county where I grew up, we proceeded to live in 4 states over the first 6 years of our marriage.  We are now married over a decade and living in state #5.  Yup, very much not what was in my plan.

While moving has not gotten any easier or more fun, I have learned that each move brings about things I never would have considered.  Whether it is finding different ways to save money, becoming foster parents, starting this blog, working for one of the largest cities in the country, having a road side stand, or utilizing some of my minor talents to find work, I have been able to experience new opportunities and grow personally.  Several of the opportunities were things I would never dreamed of having tried had I stayed in the county where I grew up; the box I had put myself into was too comfortable.

Now that we have moved again.  I find myself asking what does this mean for various aspects of our lives?

For the blog

Not as many pictures of snow, for starters.  With a reduction in items vying for my attention, I hope to get to some of those posts that have been flying through my head.  I also want to focus on improving my writing and following through with what I start.

For my garden

It means that my gardening this upcoming year may be mainly in pots, or in places where it can double as landscape, or that we may find a house to buy and have a traditional garden.  Or we may find a house to buy and it comes with fruit trees and raised beds. (Yes, I did see one for sale as such and was instantly attracted to it … I do not remember much about the house itself. Imagine that.)

I am very thankful to my friend who offered to share blackberry starts with me once we get settled into a more permanent place than the rental house.  It is a good thing I shared my blackberry starts with her a few years ago.  I am also thankful for the time I invested learning about improving soils for my beds, both vegetable and flower.  Looking at the soils in our new area, it will come in very handy.

Our School Week collage

For the kids’ schooling

George will be starting a new school tomorrow.  The class sizes are smaller while the over all population of his elementary school is larger.  There is also a speech therapist who has been there for longer than a year, which is a great detail for a kid who has a motor speech disorder.  While I have my hesitations about starting over with a new school, I also have higher hopes for his progress here.

Jack will still be home schooled.  Different state, different laws, though thankfully I was able to find something that matched our beliefs and needs.  At first I bucked and groaned, overall throwing a HUGE internal tantrum. Then I sat down at the computer, after a few days… okay weeks, and did my research.  Now, I too have higher hopes for his progress here.

With me being able to give him more of my attention, we will not be taking December off as I had planned at the beginning of the school year.  Instead, we will slowly buckle down more and make up for lost time.  Why slowly?  Because it will be a change in routines and I would rather it be a pleasant experience rather than something that takes us another 5 months to recover from.

While we have been covering the basics of reading, arithmetic, and touching on other subjects here and there, we have not really been able to focus on them to the extent I have been wanting.  You know what, though?  I have noticed him still learning things we have not gotten to, making connections without me making any effort to lead him that direction, and his curiosity leading him to inquire and learn subjects which I thought he would buck at.

He has also improved upon how to appropriately entertain himself while bored.  If you do not think that skill is important, I encourage you to start paying attention to your day.  What do you do while:

  • sitting in traffic
  • waiting for someone to get to the car so you can leave
  • falling asleep at night
  • waiting for supper to cook or the waitress to bring your food
  • watching Kindergarten t-ball games
  • waiting in the checkout line at the grocery store
  • during that (sorry ministers) boring part of the sermon at church

These are things many of us naturally have learned to tolerate, finding something to keep our minds and/or hands busy.  These are things Jack greatly struggles with enduring. I have had to contentiously point out to him that these activities bore me also, and then share what I do to entertain myself.

There are also more outside the home activity options to take advantage of.  “Making friends” is still  the biggest reason he misses public school.  Apparently hanging with your mamma all day is not nearly as fun. 😉2 snowy seats and table

For other homemaking activities

For starters, we live closer than 30 minutes from more than one grocery store.  While I am going to miss one store in particular from our last home, it was actually in the country but was a source of huge savings, I am not going to miss sub-par produce from Small Town grocery.

Not only will be be closer to multiple grocery stores, the stores around here double coupons. :gasp:  It has been almost a decade since I lived near such stores.  While in Small Town, the closest store that doubled was 40 minutes away.  Not exactly a cost saving trip; it was often cheaper to stay in Small Town and shop the grocer there.

These past few months have shown me that the largest cost savings in the grocery category has been not shopping.  My husband and I both began making simpler meals and found we actually enjoyed it.  I hope to continue this activity to the reduction of our grocery shopping category.

Speaking of meals, my husband also works further from our house.  This means he will no longer be able to come home for lunches.  Jack suggests we find a home which would “make it possible for Daddy to come home for lunches again.”  We never took for granted the fact that living in Small Town and me not working outside the home meant we were close enough for my husband to have this benefit.  However, Jack does not remember it being any other way, and therefore did not know it was not ‘normal’.

With our current home being a rental house, I will not be focusing on decorating or painting or landscaping or any of those other activities that seems to have taken up a lot of my time these past few months years.  I will continue to use up, get rid of, or otherwise re-home items that we no longer need or love.

In addition to making our bed every morning, there are other habits which I plan to continue and hopefully build upon.  Keeping our kitchen counter clear of clutter has been something we have done well at these past few years.  In preparation of putting our home on the market, I took it a step further and cleared it as much as possible of other items.  Clean dishes were put away, only one spoon rest was left out, and the window sill was cleared of everything except one small plant.  The fruit bowl was left out, but the other small appliances and utensils were put away.

cleared off kitchen counters

When I first arrived at our rental house, my initial goal was to carry over the same counter clearing action for this kitchen.  This has been harder to do than I thought.  As soon as it gets cleared off, I find myself unpacking another box, doing a grocery shopping trip, or coming back from a long trip to visit family over Thanksgiving.  While I get items put away, new items without homes yet always seem to find their way onto the counter.

If I put off picking up the kitchen till after the kids are asleep, I find myself also falling asleep or with no energy to tackle this task.  The solution?  Try to stay home more. Too obvious?  Maybe, but it really does work.

We are back to cooking on an electric stove and non-convection oven.  I had to explain to the kids the differences with an electric stove, namely that the coils stay hot after they are turned off.

Cooking has also had a difference timing.  It takes things longer to boil, yet it keeps cooking once the heat is turned off.  I have not tried baking yet, as we still have muffins in the freezer.

purple flowers

While I can not ignore how things are different, it is up to me how I react to them.  There are a lot of changes, a lot of things I could dwell on as not being as good as it used to be.  Changes can be hard to adjust to.  It is easy to put on a pedestal the way things were.  However, taking this path only leads to discontentment, regret, and feeling depressed.

Choosing to keep how things were in the correct perspective, looking for the good in what is now around us, and finding ways to reach out to others rather than retreat into my shell will take me down a completely different path.  Just as I slowly found beauty in the flat corn fields surrounding us in Zone 5, I will eventually find some beauty here in Zone 7.  I may not like all the changes life is presenting to us right now, but I may grow to love them once I get over how they are not the same as they used to be.

Unit I reach that point, I will continue to challenge negative thoughts with lists of the good things I see happening.

May 272016
 

2016 Garden Update

Garden perennials are my friend. They get planted once, then come back over and over if treated right.  A great return on investment in my book.

There are now several various perennials in my garden, both flowers and fruits.  The flowers were somewhat unplanned, a rush planting when I happened to find them unexpectedly and they needed planting right then.  What could have been disastrous turned out to actually be the right call on my part.  There are a few that I wish I had put elsewhere, but those can be easily moved later in the year.

Last week a friend gave me two starts of Rhubarb.  Yippee, another perennial! This will be a long-term relationship as it will take several years before I can reap the rewards. Till then they will have a home in one of the garden beds.

After taking a year off in the plant starting area, I set out to start my tomato plants for the year.  While they sprouted, they did not grow much at all.  Perhaps it was the lack of putting them under a florescent light?  Either way, I knew I was going to have to look elsewhere for plants.  My neighbor had several extras so I went that route.  There are now 10 cherry plants (of two varieties), 3 yellow tomato plants, and 3 red ‘regular’ tomato plants.  So far so good.  I mixed up where they were planted a bit to see if my success at cherry tomatoes last year had to do with the type of plant or the location.

Over a month ago I picked up a bag of onion sets, planning to put them in the ground when I had a few free moments.  It is a bit too late at this time, but I hope to get at least a few from the bag of 100.  These are used a lot in our beef stew recipe.  I found they are available in the winter months at the store, in the form of pearl onion, though they are almost $4 a bag.  By spending about $2 and a bit of time now, I can have many more of these frozen in the freezer for future use.

Radishes were a spring crop that I harvested but did not plant.  Last year I had spread seeds in the gaps in the strawberry bed, leaving some to go to seed.  I would like to say it was a planned experiment, but like most things last year it was a “perfectly imperfect garden”.  This year I had radishes in the strawberry bed, as well as in the yard.  I gathered up the seed pods, saving them for this fall.  Several were opened, the seeds spread in a different bed this time.  I will let you know what happens.

strawberry patch collage

Three or four years ago I took two smaller raised beds and converted them to a strawberry patch. It was a learning curve for me, but now things seem to be doing well.  The strawberries came back strong this year.  While I have only gotten a picture of one day’s harvest, we have had several bowls of these the past two weeks.  I think part of the success was a mild winter.  They did not have to be covered and uncovered like they would have if it had been as cold as it was two winters ago.  They are already sending out runners, all of which are being directed towards one side of the bed.  If I can start getting that side established then I will be able to take out the old plants in 1/4 of the bed each year starting in Year 4.  This is a great way to keep the bed renewed and producing.

The blackberry plants began blooming this week.  I did a bad job keeping up with their trimming last summer and am paying for it this year.  The one group is too large and will cause me problems soon.  Later this summer I will trim them like they should have been in order to have upright canes.  Something I did do right last year as to lay canes over in order to create new plants for this year.  While I should have a nice small-ish crop this year, I am looking at having a much larger crop next spring.  All we can do is learn and grow, literally.

As for my goal of using up the canned goods I already have, I made 6 batches of cornbread muffins earlier this week.  It resulted in almost 9 dozen, most going to the freezer.  There are very few things left, namely – pickled beets, about 6 jars of crushed tomatoes, green tomato pie filling (destined for muffins), various jams and 2 more quarts of corn.  There are also a few quarts of  applesauce to be used up in the next month or so.  I had not realized exactly how much I had canned and how many jar I had till this past year.  I did no canning last year and yet we still have food in the basement.

Mar 252016
 

This post contains affiliate links.  If you click through a link and purchase a product this blog will receive a small portion at no added cost to you.  Thank you for your support.


Don’t forget, Craftsy is having a sale for their Online DIY Classes, 3/25-3/28.  This is a great time to take a step in learning something new or improving in an area you are already learning.  With 1,000+ classes there is a wide selection available.

With the Craftsy guarantee you know you will be able to watch the lessons any time and from anywhere, and your access never expires.  There is also a 100% money back guarantee in case you are not satisfied with the product.

Whether you are looking for classes, tutorials, fabric, yarn, paint, art, drawing, painting, baking, cooking, cake decorating, scrapbooking, stamping, sewing, photography, knitting, quilting, woodworking, gardening, or home decor, Craftsy.com is the one stop place for all your DIY classes.

Mar 202016
 

This post contains affiliate links.  If you click through a link and purchase a product this blog will receive a small portion at no added cost to you.  Thank you for your support.


If you missed the DIY Class Bundle Sale two weeks ago, you are in luck.  Craftsy is having a sale for their Online DIY Classes, 3/25-3/28

Learn from instructors in 1,000+ classes.  With the Craftsy guarantee you know you will be able to watch the lessons any time and from anywhere, and your access never expires.  There is also a 100% money back guarantee in case you are not satisfied with the product.

Whether you are looking for classes, tutorials, fabric, yarn, paint, art, drawing, painting, baking, cooking, cake decorating, scrapbooking, stamping, sewing, photography, knitting, quilting, woodworking, gardening, or home decor, Craftsy.com is the one stop place for all your DIY classes.

Mar 192016
 

This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you for your support.

Craftsy is giving away a special mystery box full of some of the Craftsy Supplies Shop’s most popular offerings for your craft. Valued at $700, this mystery box is ready to be transformed into your next show-stopping project.

Enter anytime before 11:59 p.m. March 31, 2016 — it’s fast, easy and free! We’ll notify the winner via email and ask them to share the name of the friend they’d like to receive the other box.

FaveCrafts: Enter to win The Craft Obsession Grand Prize Giveaway! One lucky winner will receive an incredible assortment of DIY and craft supplies! The deadline to enter is March 31, 2016 at 11:59:59 p.m. Eastern Time.

Enter to win all the National Craft Month individual company prizes in one grand prize giveaway. Participating companies include: FloraCraft, Polyform, We Are Knitters, American Quilter’s Society, and Red Heart.

A.C. Moore Arts & Crafts, Highlights, and Leisure Arts are teaming up to bring a prize package that will make both kids and parents happy.  In Celebration of National Craft Month you have the chance to be one of 6 winners selected to receive a prize package.

One entry per person and must be received before 11:59 p.m. ET on Thursday, March 31, 2016 to be eligible for the prize drawings. (Contest Rules)

Mar 172016
 


3/17-3/20 craft supplies will be on sale at Craftsy.  No getting dressed or wasting time driving in the car.  Go online and do all your craft shopping while you are thinking about it.

Craftsy carries a wide variety of craft supplies for almost every sort of craft you may be looking to accomplish:

  • fabric
  • yarn
  • art
  • drawing
  • painting
  • baking
  • cooking
  • cake decorating
  • scrapbooking
  • stamping
  • sewing
  • photography
  • knitting
  • quilting
  • woodworking
  • gardening
  • home decor
  • gifts
  • and more.

 

Craftsy

Mar 122016
 


Did you register for one of Craftsy’s class bundles currently on sale and now need supplies?  Or perhaps you are planning something to celebrate the start of spring but find you are needing some more items.  3/17-3/20 craft supplies will be on sale at Craftsy.

Craftsy carries a wide variety of craft supplies for almost every sort of craft you may be looking to accomplish:

  • fabric
  • yarn
  • art
  • drawing
  • painting
  • baking
  • cooking
  • cake decorating
  • scrapbooking
  • stamping
  • sewing
  • photography
  • knitting
  • quilting
  • woodworking
  • gardening
  • home decor
  • gifts
  • and more.

 

Craftsy

Mar 122016
 

This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you for your support.

Craftsy is giving away a special mystery box full of some of the Craftsy Supplies Shop’s most popular offerings for your craft. Valued at $700, this mystery box is ready to be transformed into your next show-stopping project.

Enter anytime before 11:59 p.m. March 31, 2016 — it’s fast, easy and free! We’ll notify the winner via email and ask them to share the name of the friend they’d like to receive the other box.

FaveCrafts: Enter to win The Craft Obsession Grand Prize Giveaway! One lucky winner will receive an incredible assortment of DIY and craft supplies! The deadline to enter is March 31, 2016 at 11:59:59 p.m. Eastern Time.

Enter to win all the National Craft Month individual company prizes in one grand prize giveaway. Participating companies include: FloraCraft, Polyform, We Are Knitters, American Quilter’s Society, and Red Heart.

 

Mar 082016
 

This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you for your support.

Craftsy is giving away a special mystery box full of some of the Craftsy Supplies Shop’s most popular offerings for your craft. Valued at $700, this mystery box is ready to be transformed into your next show-stopping project.

Enter anytime before 11:59 p.m. March 31, 2016 — it’s fast, easy and free! We’ll notify the winner via email and ask them to share the name of the friend they’d like to receive the other box.