Friday, August 5, 2016

Summer (Easiest) Blueberry Cobbler

One of our favorite parts of summer is visiting a nearby blueberry farm. This is a great place--the blueberry bushes are as high as trees and even in this summer of little to no rain for our area, they were covered with blueberries.
The kids did a great job picking blueberries the first time we went, so we came home with more than three gallons. And, since they are only $8 a gallon at the farm where we go, we got a great deal!
So, of course, we went back. The kids weren't quite as enthusiastic the second time, and the blueberries were a little sadder (smaller, mostly) because of no rain, but we still came home with 2 gallons to freeze. Hooray!
The first time we went blueberry picking this summer, we made a day of it with friends invited to come with us and then come home to swim and rest. Then the husbands came to join us for dinner, and I made blueberry cobbler.

Easy Blueberry Cobbler
(thanks to my friend Angela, who gave me this recipe ages ago)

1 cup self rising flour 
(or 1 cup AP flour + 1 1/2 t baking powder + 1/4 t salt)
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 stick butter, melted
2 cups blueberries
Butter 9x9 pan, mix ingredients in bowl and pour into pan. Pour on blueberries. Sprinkle with a little extra sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for an hour.

(I usually triple this recipe but only use 2 sticks of butter. Then I use two 9x11 pans.)


Sunday, July 31, 2016

July Stitch Fix

I love having clothes delivered to my door, and being able to try on new clothes with old clothes, and I love having a personal stylist pick out my clothes.
Hooray for Stitch Fix!
The clothes and shoes come wrapped up like gifts. 
(The prepaid mailer is to send back anything you don't like.)

This was the only thing I kept from my last fix. I love the color and the fact that it is reversible!

Your selections always come with suggestions of how to wear them and a sweet little personalized note.
It's so fun to play dress-up adding in other items from the closet!
Want your own box of clothes delivered to your door?

Monday, July 11, 2016

Star Wars Party

Thanks to pinterest and amazon for ideas and easy access to party supplies, this party was not near as difficult as it might seem. 
I used these fantastic star wars drapes for table covers. At only $15, they are a steal because I will use them for a couple of more parties (two more boys this year) and then we'll make them into pillows for the boys' room. 
I googled stars and printed them on yardstick to cut out and tape to my string for the background.

A food marker made these cupcake topper storm troopers a cinch to churn out.

The tutorial for the pool noodle light sabers is here.

These are still getting played with months after the party!


Monday, February 29, 2016

Recent Food

Fancy Snack Toothpicks

Personally prepared Mug Cake!

Pretty Fruit

Pressed Tea

Anything over the fire

Chicken Nuggets (cracker/egg breaded and baked)

Spinach Salad with baked brussel sprouts

kale, carrot, avocado, sunflower seed slaw-type salad with sweet and sour dressing (honey, oil, apple cider vinegar)

Chocolate box for sharing

big breakfasts

Valentines Breakfast with heart shaped donuts and heart-shaped bacon

hard tack while studying the Civil War

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Christmas Cookies

I think it might be time to take the neighbors cookies again this year. 
The kids can help, and hopefully we can hand deliver and have little Christmas chats with our friends and neighbors. Since we're in a new house, this will give us a good excuse to meet the few neighbors we haven't met yet.
I wish I could share a bag of cookies with everyone who reads this, but since I can't make EVERYONE cookies, I can at least share with you the recipes we might use.

Cranberry Squares 1 1/2 c. sugar, 1 t. almond extract, 2 large eggs, 2 c. fresh cranberries, 3/4 c. unsalted butter, melted slightly and cooled, 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour, 1/2 c. chopped pecans Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat sugar and eggs at medium speed with an electric mixer for 2 minutes or until thickened; add butter and almond extract, beating well. Add flour to sugar mixture, beating well. Stir in cranberries and pecans. Pour batter into buttered 9-in. square pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack. Cut into squares. Freezes well.

Snickerdoodles 1 cup shortening, 1 1/2 cups white sugar, 2 eggs, 2 3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 2 teaspoons cream of tartar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons white sugar, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). In a large bowl, mix together the shortening and 1 1/2 cups of white sugar until smooth. Stir in the eggs one at a time, blending well after each. Combine the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt; stir into the batter until blended. Roll the dough into balls the size of small walnuts. Roll in a mixture of 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Granny’s Oatmeal Drop Cookies Boil together for 5 minutes: 1 ½ cup sugar, ¼-1/2 cup cocoa, 1/3 – ½ cup shortening/margerine/oil, ½ cup milk, 1 tsp salt Remove from heat. Immediately add: 3 cups oatmeal, 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla, 1/3- ½ cup peanut butter  Drop by spoonfuls onto wax paper and let cool and harden
Yellow Cake Oatmeal Cookies 1 package yellow cake mix, 2 large eggs, 2 cups quick-cooking oats, 1 cup chopped pecans (opt), 1 cup sugar, 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla, 1 cup oil Combine first 3 ingredients. Combine oil and eggs. Add oil and eggs to first 3 ingredients. Stir in pecans and vanilla. Cook at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.
Jacob’s M & M Chocolate Chip Cookies  1 cup butter, softened, 1 cup granulated sugar,1 cup brown sugar, 2 large eggs, 1 ½ teaspoon vanilla, 2 ½ cups uncooked quick-cooking oats,2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon salt, 1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips, 1 cup M & Ms Beat butter and sugars at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla, beating until blended. Pulse oats in a food processor to a fine powder. Combine oats, flour, and next 3 ingredients in a large bowl; gradually add to butter mixture, beating well. Stir in chocolate chunks, grated chocolate bars, and pecans. Drop dough by 1/4 cupfuls onto lightly greased baking sheets. Bake at 375° for 10 to 14 minutes.
I'm also thinking about using these Thin Mint Cookies and these Gluten Free Chocolate Ones.
Need more COOKIES? Try these ten recipes as well!
Merry Christmas and Happy Baking!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Stitch Fix #1

I love fall! The weather gets cooler. Football season means snuggling on the couch on Saturday afternoons. God paints pictures with the trees and warmer comfort foods are in order.
But every fall I feel this sinking feeling about clothes. The cheap jeans from last year are either worn out or don't fit right, all my cute summer dresses have to be put away, and any day that requires real clothing means trying things on and getting frustrated. And there is this small problem of having five children with me all the time so going shopping and having lots of time to try on clothes is rare and unusual.
So when I heard about Stitch Fix, I thought "GENIUS," and decided to give it a try.
Here are the facts:

*You go to Stitch Fix and let them know all about you as you sign in.
*You let them know when you would like a personal stylist to pick out five items and send them to you. (Just when you choose, monthly, or every three months--however you want to set it up). You're not locked in to anything; you can change it or cancel it any time.
*When you get your box, you are charged $20. If you decide to keep anything from the box, that $20 goes towards your clothing purchase.
*If you choose to keep all five items, you get a 25% discount.
*If anyone else uses your code to get a Stitch Fix box, $25 goes into your account for later clothes purchases.

As you get more boxes and comment on your clothing, your stylist gets to know you better and theoretically your boxes will become more and more suited to you.

So how did my first box go? It was really great. I asked for basics, so there was nothing really super exciting, but I am very pleased. I ended up keeping the black pants and the dress. The jeans were low-rise and just didn't fit right at the top, and the shirts were great, but not worth full price. If the jeans had fit right, I would have kept it all. I spent around $100 for a pair of pants and a dress, which is WAY more than I would shopping on my own--I'm very much a sale rack shopper. That may be why I don't have many clothes that I love or that last. I'm hoping that putting a few quality pieces in my wardrobe through Stitch Fix will make a big difference!
(Forgive the pictures--my closet is still very much in process.)

I have been waiting for a great pair of black pants to make this combo work! One great thing about Stitch Fix is being able to try the clothes on with shoes and clothes from your own closet!

Dress styled with belt, scarf and boots

Dress with my blue jean jacket--I see cute tennis shoes with this in the future.

Black shirt, black pants and comfy heels.

Above outfit with my leather jacket

I have scheduled my next fix for my birthday (next month), and I'm excited to see how it turns out!!
If you're interested, go over to Stitch Fix and see what it's all about!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Catching Up--A New Home!

Well, it's been a while and a few things have changed around here including our HOUSE! We sold the  8 years-3 kids house and, instead of buying small, waiting and building like we thought we would do, bought a big house that had been vacant for a while. We are filling it and loving it and working on it like crazy. Here are some of the (very unfinished) spaces.

I'll start with our first project. The kids' bathroom. They are still all sharing a bathroom, but they now have a separate little room for the toilet and shower. It's great that they can still brush teeth while someone is showering. I wanted a big, bright, colorful piece of art, and after looking unfruitfully for a while, we decided to make our own. The kids each have a color towel assigned to them so that there is no more washing towels that are on the floor because we don't know who used them. If the red towel is on the floor, we know it's the little one who needs to pick it up and hang it on a hook. 
The hooks are a pinterest idea that was a must. Towel bars are too difficult for little hands and where would we put five of them on this one wall? The hooks work GREAT! I also looked for five-hook towel rack, but ended up using one with six that was unfinished. For $8 and a slap of paint, we got the perfect place to hang their towels. There's even a hook for the kids' overnight guests.

On to the school room. I am SO THANKFUL for this room! I wanted to make the space a little more sophisticated than the average home school room--more of a library/school room. The wall that you can't see is just a line of mismatched shelves right now, but I want to put built-ins across that wall to give us more hidden storage (cabinets on the bottom) and lots more book case space (shelves on the top.) 
I was very excited to paint one of the walls with chalkboard paint and have a huge space to work math problems, diagram sentences and write our memory verses.

(still using our Jokkmokk table and chairs and loving them!)

I didn't really give much thought to the view while washing dishes when we first looked at this house, but I am very thankful it faces a window! 
We decided to have one eating room in the house in the eat-in kitchen. It's a huge space, works great with our table now, and will work well when we get our big farm house table later (another project!).

Fireplace area

I found the idea to put your tv on a long low shelf on pinterest. After fretting over the impossibility of affording any of those beautiful long, low shelves, I realized that by putting two Ikea Expedit shelves on their sides, we could have the same effect for nothing (since we already owned two!). I like the idea of decorating around the tv. I put all of my Chinese decor in the family room and love the way it's looking. We still have a long way to go--I promise a final reveal at some point!
I LOVE my new sitting area in the master bedroom! We found these chairs and this rug at a local salvage place. Total cost for two chairs and the rug = $200 (Ikea curtains leftover from our dining room in our old house are standing in until we can paint and choose drapes, and an Ikea blanket is draped over the chair.)

Before and after (loosely)
 This is the opposite corner, but you get the idea. It's an awesome play room with all those built-in shelves and desks.

And look at the GREAT job my mom did recovering the FREE chair. The cushion was recovered with the boys' old black out curtain and mom bought a drop cloth ($10 or 15, I can't remember) to cover the peeling fake leather of the rest of the chair. Hooray! It didn't have to look great because it's just a place for kids to sit and read in the play room, but I think it turned out amazing!

These are very necessary and the sign is the only money we spent on the play room.

My pantry. (Can you hear my heart sing?) My mom painted this space for us before we moved in and I am loving it. We sold our larger deep freeze so that we can buy one to fit in this space. It's one of those things that we keep putting off.

There is so much more to share, but this makes a good start.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Museum Learning on a Budget

The last few months have been blessed with a lot of interesting, informative and fun field trips for our family homeschooling enjoyment. When I look back at my elementary school years (in public school) it is the experiences, projects and field trips that made the biggest impact on me (i.e. I still remember them.) So, I am always trying to throw those kind of learning experiences on the kiddos.
All of these museums might seem like they would add up to $$$$$$$, but actually, I feel like we've tackled them in a very affordable way.

Here's how:
1. FAMILY MEMBERSHIPS! We have a family membership to our local aquarium. It would cost our family about $130 to get in for one day, but the year membership for a family of two adults and all the children in the house is only about $125! WOW! I feel thankful every time we go, and we go a lot. I took the three littles most of the Mondays this semester while the two bigs were at their homeschool tutorial. And now that summer is here, we have an awesome entertainment for rainy or too-hot days. So, look into family memberships.
2. FREE MUSEUMS! Most of the Smithsonian Museums in Washington, D.C. and most of the museums in St. Louis are free. (Makes me feel like running and skipping through a field!) We have enjoyed the Missouri History Museum, Smithsonian Museums, National Archives all for free! I am sure there are other cities with the same benefits. Check it out!
3. ASTC (Association of Science-Technology Centers) Travel Passport Program   This is a best-kept secret, for sure! I can't rave enough about how much of a deal this is! This is a group of museums where if you join one, you can visit any of the others that are 90 miles or more away from the one you joined for... Free. Yes, you heard right! Being a member of one gets you into them all. So my family is a member of the American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. We got a two year membership for our whole family for $70. We have visited the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL and Tellus Science Museum in Cartersville, GA for only the gas money to get there. Hurrah! The list of museums that participate in the passport program is very long; I'm sure you could find one or two or twelve near you!

We've seen rockets and dinosaurs and panned for gemstones and dug up dinosaur bones.

We've looked at helicopters and learned about bears.

We've held the Washington Monument in our hand (sort of).

And we've stopped to cool off in some beautiful places!

I know I could never teach the kids from books, worksheets, curriculum or the internet what they have learned in person from these museums. I am very thankful!