Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Giant Egg

For those of you who read my blog regularly, you know that we added 19 chickens to our family this spring. We have had tons of fun watching and were so excited when they laid their first eggs at twenty weeks, right on schedule I might add.

Their egg production has been on the rise and we have been loving having fresh eggs! The only complaint if you can call it that is that the eggs were a little on the small side. So you can imagine every one's surprise when we found this . . .

gigantic egg in the egg box. You can see it is double the size of our other eggs. A wampin' 3" long. And even better when we cracked it . . .

You guessed it. Our first double yolk egg! The girls thought that was really cool.
For those of you who are local we are selling eggs for $2.50 a dozen. Just let me know if you are interested!

Friday, October 30, 2009

BBQ Pork Chops with Apples

This was a quick and easy dinner and perfect for a fall evening. I was able to use up the least few apples we had left from apple picking. I wasn't sure how this would go over with the family, so I was a little surprised when everyone loved it. We will definitely be making this again.

  • 6 pork chops - I used a boneless pork roast that I sliced about 1/2" thick
  • 4 Tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 3/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 med onion, sliced
  • 2 cups thinly sliced apples
  • 3 Tbsp BBQ sauce
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 3 cloves garlic minced or crushed
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a pie plate mix flour, onion powder, garlic powder and paprika. Season pork chops with salt and pepper and then dredge in the flour mixture.

In a skillet melt the butter with the olive oil. Brown the pork chops on both sides. Add the onions, apples, BBQ sauce, honey, and garlic.

Cover and simmer about 45 minutes or until the chops are tender.

Serve over hot cooked rice.

Homemade Color Scratch Paper

Sarah learned how to do this at last week's poetry class. One of the mom's was preparing an art project for another class and Sarah was so intrigued she wrote her poem about what she saw. After class she asked the mom what she was doing and learned how to make this really cool paper.

  • white cardstock
  • crayons or oil pastels
  • black tempera paint
  • castile soap
  • paintbrush
  • pointed object - tooth pick, knitting needle, sharpened dowel

Step One

One the cardstock, use the crayons or oil pastels to cover the entire paper with random shapes of color. The smaller the patches of color the more

Second Step

Mix black tempera paint with castile soap - about a 4:1 ratio (you are putting just enough castile soap to break the paint so that when scratched off it doesn't flake) Let the paint mixture dry completely.

Now the fun part

With your scratching tool make your design. Sarah scratched in the poem she had written and decorated the boarder with art supplies.

I can tell you we will be making these again. Hope you all get a chance to give it a try. I think if you did smaller pieces (or cut a 12x12 paper into four pieces), tied them with a piece of raffia, and included a sharpened dowel this would make a really cool gift or party favor.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Weekly Menu Plan

I know it has been a while since I've posted the family menu plan. Summer tends to see the menu plan fly out the window as we eat whatever may have come out of the garden that day or pack an impromptu picnic and head to the lake for an evening of canoeing and kayaking.

While fall truly here I have felt a need to begin planning the weekly menus again. I have been for a few weeks now, but haven't found the time to post them. Hopefully, they will make it to the blog along with the new recipes regularly.

Breakfast - Crepes with Ricotta Cheese Filling and Fruit
Lunch - Tuna Wraps and Apple Slices
Dinner - Turkey Divan, Salad, 90 Minute Rolls

Breakfast - Poached Eggs on Toast
Lunch - Grilled Cheese and Roasted Tomato Soup
Dinner - Pork Chops with Apples, Cornbread Stuffing and Squash

Breakfast - Pancakes
Lunch - Chicken Nuggets, Apple Sauce
Dinner - Cheesy Beef Casserole, Green Beans

Breakfast - Yogurt and Granola
Lunch - Orzo with Pesto and diced Tomatoes
Dinner - Kielbasa, Red Potatoes & Onions, and Beets

Breakfast - Scrambled Eggs, Toast
Lunch - Picnic
Dinner - Mexican Crock Pot Chicken over Rice

Breakfast - Blueberry Muffins
Lunch -
Dinner - Pizza

Breakfast - Waffles and Bacon
Lunch -
Dinner - American Chop Suey

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds


The girls couldn't wait to roast pumpkin seeds this year. The pumpkins have been sitting on the entryway steps for a while now and the girls really have been patient. So today was the perfect day to carve the pumpkins and roast the seeds.

So easy and so yummy. Just wash the seeds, spread then in a single layer on a baking sheet, sprinkle with a little olive oil and seasoning of your choice. We all like chili powder. Then pop them in a 400 degree oven for about 10-15 tossing halfway through cooking. Cool and eat!

These two little jars wont last long. Luckily you can roast squash seed the same way so we will be replenishing out stash throughout the fall.

Stayed tuned for the carved pumpkins - they came out really well. Everyone was inspired after seeing a carving competition last week.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Automatic Dishwashing Soap - A Frugal and Green Alternative

We ran out of automatic dishwashing soap today. I knew we were low and was planning to run to the dollar store. However the torrential rain sent me looking for an alternative. A quick Internet search yielded a bunch of recipes. So after reviewing a few I decided to try this one out.

This was quick and easy and all of the ingredients are items I always have on hand.

1/2 cup liquid castile soap - I use Dr. Bronners
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3 drops tea tree oil - known for its antibacterial properties
1/4 cup white vinegar

Combine the castile soap and water. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until blended evenly. Store in a squeeze bottle. When I first mixed the ingredients they were still liquid and easy to pour. By the time I used the soap it had become a gel similar in consistency to store bought dishweasher soap.

The original recipe said to use 2 Tablespoons per wash in a standard-size dishwasher. I used a little less and was very pleased with the results.

I love that this is safe for my family and the environment. It is economical and oh so easy to make. I think this will be a keeper.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Playgrounds and Knitting - Do they mix?

While the big girls are at poetry the little ones and I head to the playground for a couple of hours. Luckily the weather has been beautiful the last few Fridays and we have enjoyed picnic lunches and lots of fresh air.

Every week I bring one of the knitting projects I am working on and every week it ends up sitting on our picnic quilt. If I am lucky I might get a row or two done. No worries though. This is one of the things I so love about knitting. It can go with me anywhere without any hassle and if I get a little time great and if not - no worries. A row here, a row there, projects are getting done at just the right pace for this family.

The cat and mouse on the playground, the underdogs on the swings, and the trains on the slide are so much more important than the knit one pearl one. And of course there is the giggles and memories being made. I don't even think Sarah will mind that her lime green legwarmers will be a little while longer.

So for now I will continue to take my knitting with me, but the kids know they come first.

Peanut Butter Cake

As many of you know Hannah loves to bake and decorate cakes. Unfortunately we can't eat them as fast as she would like to make them. One a day really needs to be saved for apples and coffee not cakes.

Anyway, we have supported her passion and she has become the family cake baker. She didn't let us down with this four layer peanut butter cake with peanut butter cream filling and chocolate frosting.

And if you count the candles you know it was mom's 18th birthday. Yes I'm a big kid at heart.

Thanks to everyone for a great birthday and all the well wishes.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Apple Update!

After bringing home 3 bushels of apples, we have been busy canning, freezing, baking and eating apples. A few have asked how we have done on out apple do list, so I thought I would post a quick update.

32 quarts of applesauce
10 - 12oz jars of apple butter
12 cups diced and frozen
6 pie filling frozen
1 gallon jar dried
6 apple dumplings
6 caramel apples
1 apple crisp baked
and lots and lots eaten

Obviously not everything is pictured here, and believe it or not we still have 3/4 of a bushel left to take care of. So what's left?

6 more frozen pie filling
2 trays of apple leather
apple fritters
12 more cups of chopped and frozen
6 apple crisp filling - frozen

Hopefully, this will last the family at least a little while. I noticed the dried apple jar is already depleted a bit. Maybe we'll be drying more as well.

Oh and some asked what the going rate for apples is. Well we lucked out and went right after the first big wind storm and got beautiful "drops" for $10.00 a bushel. A picked bushel was $25.00.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Little More Knitting

Knitting has become my new found joy. I have always loved to craft and create, but in the last few years have found it hard to steal large enough chunks of time to sew and scrapbook. Knitting has become the answer. I love that I can take it anywhere and that I can sneak in a row here and there, pick it up and put it down at a moments notice. And of course there is the added bonus of the warm and heartfelt creations made for those I love.

I knit the hat for Hannah a while back and I don't think she has had it off since. When she saw that I had some yarn leftover she asked for a scarf. Of course I didn't have quite enough yarn, so it sat unfinished until I could get more. Well the yarn came and now she had a matching scarf. Can you guess what might be next?

Rebekah's hat was the first one I knit. You can read about that and find the pattern here. Being the avid blog reading that I am I stumbled across this pattern for a raglan sweater and just knew Rebekah had to have one. So after knitting five hats, I took the plunge and tried my hand at a sweater, a sweater with cables no less. It took a little bit of practice, a few video tutorials on line, and the help from a sweet woman we met on our hawk watch, but I finally finished it without too many handmade love spot (mistakes). Rebekah loves it and it is so toasty warm. The pattern has a cardigan version, and I think Rebekah may need one of those as well.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

First Snow!

The girls were so suprised to wake up this morning to find it snowing! I have to say so was I. It is only October 13th and I am not ready for snow. But they sure had fun.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Apple Picking

Fall just wouldn't be fall without a trip to the apple orchard to pick a bushel or two or three of apples. We had a beautiful day to head off to the orchard and were lucky enough to share it with good friends.

Rebekah is sure she knows where the best apples in the orchard will be found and she is making sure Sarah know just where to go.

A little help for a big sister and that perfect apple is just in reach.

And boy does it ever taste good!

Hannah did her share of picking too.

And someone even managed to snap a picture of mom.

Thanks to friends for letting us borrow their wagon to haul our apples out of the orchard. This is only half of the three bushels we picked. And this was actually the easy part. Now its time to make . . . .

apple sauce
apple butter
pie filling
crisp filling
chopped to be frozen
dried slices
fruit leather
apple dumplings
apple fritters
caramel apples

I'm tired just thinking about it all. Actually it is a family affair and everyone helps out so it really is just a lot of fun. And of course homemade is so much better and cheaper too.

Stay tuned for updates on all our apple cooking fun!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

This Weeks Freebies in the Mail Box

As most of you know I love a good deal, and it doesn't get much better than FREE! And that is exactly what all this stuff was - FREE:

Kashi Blueberry Cereal plus $2.00 coupon
Kashi Coupon Book with 12 - $1.50 coupons
Fiber One Ceral plus $5.00 in coupons
Fiber One Ceral Bar
TWO Gooseberry Patch Cookbooks
TWO Coupons for FREE M&M candy

Kotex sample pack
Not pictured are 3 refund checks totaling over $8.00!

And this was just this week. I can't wait to see what will be in the mail next week.

We've Got EGGS!

As some of you will remember we decided to try raising chicken last spring. The little chicks lived in the kitchen until we got the coop built. You can see the arrival of the chicks here. My wonderful husband did a fabulous job designing and building the coop.

Isn't she beautiful? Here is the first egg! And the sweet chicken even laid it in the right spot! I am so proud of my little feathered girls.

Hannah and Rebekah couldn't wait to collect the first treasure. Rebekah carried it oh so carefully back to the house. By the end of the day we had our second egg that Sarah and Dad got to collect.

Today we had an egg, but I waited for the girls to go and collect it and somehow it disappeared! Anyone have any ideas? I really hope we don't have a little critter stealing eggs. The second egg today was beautiful, but cracked. Once again, don't know what happened. Thinking maybe the hen stepped on it. I sure hope it isn't our little egg stealing critter.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Poetry Reading

Sarah was asked to be part of a poetry class. The class of about 12 homeschoolers is being taught by professional poets. The kids have all been writing original poems and having a great time doing it. After four weeks with Ed Patch, the kids were invited to a poetry reading at a local library. The host and guest speaker read some of the poems first and then there was an open mic session when all the kids got to read.

Sarah read two of the poems she wrote during class. She did a great job!

The Oak Tree - by Sarah

I stand tall, tall
Swaying in the gentle breeze
Shaking my arms and rattling my leaves
Visiting squirrels scamper up and down
Tickling me with there little feet
Me and my brother and sister
Maple, birch
Cherry and mahogany
I stand next to them all
I the oak tree.

This was one of the poems Sarah wrote and read. The assignment was to write an "I" or personification poem. I thought it was beautiful.

This is Mr. Patch, the children's teacher. He was fabulous and really taught the kids a lot. I don't think any of them expected poetry to be so much fun.

Rebekah and Rosie enjoyed the evening as well.