Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Boys in the Kitchen

{well, some girls too}

We are in the midst of final preparations for the District 4H food competition.  All my boys are doing a Quiz Bowl – they have to memorize tons of nutrition info and then as a team they compete to see which team can get more points.

My oldest is also in the Food Challenge, which is like Chopped on the Food channel.  They are given some food and they have to make a dish, then talk about what they did, the nutritional value per serving and how it meets the USDA for our diets.  So, yesterday we met at a Lake House to practice…

After watching these kids in the kitchen practicing I am even more determined to get my kids in my kitchen more often than I do.  So today I recruited J to make some hummus for us for lunch!

chef j

We used THIS recipe.  We assembled our ingredients


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Fun with Family

We had so much fun in December with family!  We had the first (hopefully annual) family Christmas gathering with lots of Robert’s cousins from the area!!

First, a sign to point everyone the right way!!

christmas sign

Then add some family from 4 different areas (to include Michigan)

table full of people

family party


Add some cousins …

3 sweet boys one wierd one

Bring out the bow and arrow….

boys and bow and arrow

Monday, January 21, 2013

Book Review : Cheaper, Better, Faster

I love to read hints from Heloise, or all those other great tips in magazines, websites, and of course pinterest
Do you want to know a great resource to have to help you find all those tips and tricks in one place?

CBF_3D copy

Cheaper, Better, Faster by Mary Hunt is the book for you!

Mary Hunt put this book together after publishing the Debt-Proof Living newsletter – when everyone would send in tips and ideas, she realized that she might be onto something!  Check out Mary’s blog to read more about the birthing of this book!!

I have loved reviewing several other books by Mary Hunt and this one was also a delight!  When this book arrived during our Christmas break, my mom could not get enough of this book!  Every night, afternoon, or really anytime we were just relaxing in the living room, she was reading through this book sharing all her new knowledge with us!

This book has tips in all of these categories :

Automobiles                                   Cleaning

Clothing & Accessories             Food & Cooking

Gifts                                                   Healthy and Beauty

Holidays                                         Home

Kids & Babies                               Laundry

Money                                             Outdoors

Pets                                                  Repair & Maintenance

Shopping                                      Travel & Expenses

I have loved going through these pages and gleaning tons of little bits of information!! 

Here are a few tips I thought were worth remembering:

- get rid of pet hair by running a damp sponge over surfaces

- fleas hate vinegar, spray your pet before taking for a walk to kill/rid them of fleas

- use placemats to line drawers instead of drawer liner, easier to wash

- to make candles dripless, soak in strong saltwater solution and then dry well

- hide some charcoal in your bathroom to absorb moisture

- keep a container in the freezer to throw in vegetable pieces, when full make stock (same with beef or chicken bones or pieces)

- use an ice cream scoop to scoop out inside of squash

- to keep steel wool from rusting, store it in the box with the other ones.

- use sock singles (widows) to dust – slip them over your (or your kids) hand and use to wipe furniture clean.

Okay, those were a few, there are over 2000 tips in this great book!  Really check it out, you will learn more than you knew you needed to know!!

Take control of your financial future!

NOTE : I was offered a copy of Cheaper, Better, Faster by Mary Hunt, in exchange for an honest review by Revell Publishers.

Friday, January 18, 2013

A new Venture

Sometimes you can get idea and know it is the ONE.  Sometimes we run full speed into the unknown hoping that we know enough.  And I did. 

Right now (a few hours fully committed) I think I did adequate research.  I think I asked more than enough questions.  And I am tickled!

So, here’s the scoop.  First, I read THIS article about stopping Asthma in kids without meds.  The milk thing is not new, we were off milk for months last winter and this summer, drinking Almond Milk or Coconut Milk – but still eating normal cheese.  Feeling that drinking milk was offering too much dairy and aggravating the asthma.  So reading that article was not really new stuff, just a new way to do it.

I have wanted to try milking a cow since we got out here and Robert told me I was crazy.  Then I talked to many many people and said – fine, but still was mildly interested.  So when DaNelle explained that she substituted Raw Goat Milk in their family and her son’s asthma was managed (with many other changes too, read the article!!) I was hooked!! 

The goats that DaNelle milks are Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats – so they are smaller, eat less, are very friendly and make enough milk for an average family.   So with lots of research, with a few visits to meet others who are raising goats, I quickly determined this was the farm animal for us!!

So meet our sweet either month old doelings:


petunia (2)





They are so sweet – and so fun already!!  We are just thrilled to have some new members of our fun farm!  Polly is not sure about them (our dog) and they are not sure about Steve (our calf) – but all will get along just fine!

petunia and primrose

both girlspetuniaprimrose


We plan to breed one of these little girls this fall and then we will start getting goat’s milk daily in the spring and for about 9 months.  Then next spring we will breed the other sister and her milk will start fall of 2014 and go for about 9 months as well.  The bonus will be little “kids” who we can then raise or sell.  Did I mention the kids can show these girls or their off-spring?  They can and I bet we have 4 showing goats before too long!  I cannot wait!

{I’m sharing on The Prairie Homestead Barn Hop}


Book Review : The Lesson

I admit, I am a sucker for a fun book.  I like a light-hearted story with great characters who I can see doing life with.  I like to see them face realistic challenges and deal head on with them.

Suzanne Woods Fisher has once again written a story about the Lapp family that will grab you quickly and draw you in until you finish the last page.  I love this family, they have their quirks, but I love how they live out life together.  I love how they get through challenges, work things out, and forgive. 

Mary Kate has been in the other two Lapp Family stories in the Stoney Ridge Series, The Keeper and The Haven.  In those stories you get a glimpse of this feisty young lady who is trying to figure out who she is.  I enjoyed her in the other stories, but delighted in her story this time!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Praying Circles around your Children {Giveaway & Review}

As a mom of four children, my heart’s desire is to do it right.  However to define “right” might take eons.  I mean, I go to bed most nights feeling defeated.  I yelled too much, I forgot to encourage, I did not hug enough, I snapped….

The solution to this never-ending problem is to stop trying to make it “right” and start trusting God with our most precious treasures, our children. 

Mark Batterson’s book Praying Circles around your Children is a book to help you surrender, to quit striving and to gently lean on Him to lead us on this journey.  This book is based on the best seller The Circle Maker (which I am currently reading as well – not a coincidence!!).  However, in the Circle Maker, Mark focuses on our prayer life in a general sense.  This book, Praying Circles around your Children is about specifically praying for our children. 

I read this entire book in about 90 minutes.  It is that straight forward.  He does not waste words, or paper for that matter.  It is a simple concept : pray circles, or unceasingly, for your children and your prayers will become their future.  Not in a genii in a bottle kind of way, but when we pray God’s word over them something beyond ourselves happens, God takes over.  It’s no longer about us doing the right thing, it becomes about trusting God to lead them on the path He has for them.

This was a profound book.  While I did read it quickly I think this will be a book I go back to over and over.  I already have taken an idea that Mark mentioned about posting prophetic words about your child in a place they will see them.  So I am going to ask a few people close to me to offer a few words that either describe who my child is already or who they see God raising my child up to become.  Then I will put these words together with their name to put up near their bed.  Mark talks about his daughter having something similar and how he would use it to pray over her, and when she could not sleep she would read it and meditate on it.  Such a reminder could do more than just encourage their soul, who knows, it may just plant seeds that will one day bear fruit!

I highly, highly recommend this little book to every parent out there.  Not only that, get a copy for a friend, it is that good!

Do you want to get a free copy?  Leave a comment and I will draw a name at random to send you a copy of this amazing little book!!

Mark Batterson

Mark Batterson serves as the lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D. C. Recognized as “one of America’s 25 most innovative churches,” NCC is one church with seven locations. Mark’s blog ( and webcast ( also reach a virtual congregation around the world. Mark is the author of several bestselling books, including New York Times Bestseller - The Circle Maker and In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day. He and his wife, Lora, live on Capitol Hill with their three children. You can follow Mark on Twitter: @markbatterson

Description on Zondervan :

Mark Batterson shares a perfect blend of biblical yet practical advice that will revolutionize your prayer life by giving you a new vocabulary and a new methodology. You’ll see how prayer is your secret weapon. Through stories of parents just like you, Batterson shares five prayer circles that will not only help you pray for your kids, but also pray through your kids.
Batterson teaches about how to create prayer lists unique to your family, claim God-inspired promises for your children, turn your family circle into a prayer circle, and discover your child’s life themes. And he not only tells you how, he illustrates why.
As Batterson says, “I realize that not everyone inherited a prayer legacy like I did, but you can leave a legacy for generations to come. Your prayers have the power to shape the destiny of your children and your children’s children. It’s time to start circling.”

NOTE : I was offered a copy of this book at no cost, in exchange for an honest review, by Zondervan.  (Zondervan also provided my give-away copy!!)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Did you know? It’s Garden time!!

Yes, I know it is January, and well, you may not live in East Texas.  But, if you do it is time to be thinking about your garden!!  I have been thinking tons about mine.  Tonight I started 72 tomato plants, well, maybe 5 of those were basil – and 5 cabbage – so I guess 62 tomato plants – but either way I am thrilled!!  I have a few heirloom seeds (which if you do not know yet, those are the ones you want!!). 


Also, onions need to go in now!


Also right now, in Zone 8 (my zone) it is time to throw seeds into the garden outside as well!! Not all of them, mind you, but many. And in case you are not sure what to do for your zone in January, you should check out Organic Gardening – when you get there search for “what to do in January” and so on. I cut and pasted and threw all that info into my gardening notebook. So now each month, I will get it, and check out my list.

Meanwhile, my other Amazing idea – not so much my own, I think I merged a couple ideas to figure this out – but I am storing all my seeds in baby food jars. My friend graciously gave me about 100 last fall when she was feeding her baby. I held on to them knowing I would figure out a perfect use. And Voila!!

seed storage

I did! I had some seeds in a brown bag from the feed store and weevils got in and ate through EVERY one of my purple hulled peas!! UGH!! NO MORE!! And for peas, I will use smaller canning jars. Make sure your jars are clean and very dry, and your seeds are dry too!!

I also rescued an old soda crate at an antique store (my sister in law gave me one I use to hold tea, and knew I could find a use for another) and plan to paint the lids and then store the jars with lids exposed and their contents labeled.



Okay – 2 more great ideas I thought I would share.  I was hoping Hobby Farm magazine would have the info, but online you cannot see what I am looking at.  So, if you get the magazine, check it out – if not, check it out at the store.  There is a tiered seed drying rack.  Where you make these “drawers” with screen bottoms, to put your seeds on to dry when you, say scoop out a squash.  Then they dry out in your dryer.  It has a base/frame that the drawers slide into.  This is going to be my big boy’s project this spring for me.

Can you tell I need this?  Because right now I am drying some organic pepper seeds this way…

old seed drying

The next one, my next son is going to make a rack to dry herbs on.  This has dowels that go across and you would bundle some Basil, tie it together and then drape it on the dowel, kind of in the middle of the bundle.  And it would dry out too, to save to use in foods or whatever. 

I cannot wait to get my new projects – maybe for my birthday!  A great excuse for Robert to work with them, teach them some wood working and have fun!!  I love it!

That’s all for now.  Off to think more about my garden and other fun projects blooming around here!!

{I’m sharing on The Prairie Homestead Barn Hop}


Sunday, January 6, 2013


We got to get away a bit today into Athens (quite a drive) – to try and geocache with my new App!   {today is actually a while ago…}

Our first cache was not in such great shape, but it was still fun to find it!!

first cache

e in the woods


Then we wandered a bit more to the next one, on a suspension bridge…

e climbing suspension bridgegeocaching with Jpj looking for a cache


found it

It was a great sunny Texas day for January!  We found 2 caches and had quite some fun.  Hoping to do more of this in 2013 – the kids love it and it is a great excuse to get out and enjoy the great outdoors!

on our way home


Another great day being outside, a little exercise and lots of fun!!!

all done with playing

Book Review : Vanished

My latest great read is a book by Irene Hannon : Vanished.  This is my second book by Irene Hannon and I really enjoyed this story!!



This is the first in her new trilogy The Private Justice Novels.  The main characters in this story are Moira and Cal.  Moira is a investigative reporter who has an accident while driving home on a rainy night.  There are many details that lead her to hire a private investigator, Cal, to help her figure out the mystery.  While working together, both share their information about their past and also learn to open up to each other.

I really enjoyed the depth of the characters in this story, and felt they were easy to relate to very quickly, they were he type of people you could see being your friends in real life.  Both Cal and Moira demonstrated an amazing amount of character  and integrity while making choices through the story.   I enjoyed watching he relationship between Cal and his fellow PI’s too, they all hold he same values and moral integrity, but joke and rib each other as well.   There is a great deal of mystery in this story, that will keep you wondering what happened that night in the rain. 

If you like a story that weaves a bit of romance with some intrigue and suspense this is the book for you!  I am already looking forward to following this book with the next installment in this series!!

NOTE : I was offered a copy of Vanished, at no cost, in exchange for an honest review, by Revell Publishers.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Review : Les Miserables (Audio Drama)

Have you seen the movie yet?  I am dying to see it, especially after listening to the  Les Miserables (Radio Theatre) by Focus on the Family!!

Les Miserables (Radio Theatre)

Confession time, I saw the show at least 2 times while living in New York, at least once on Broadway and once at West Point.  I knew I loved it, but could not have told you one single thing about it.  I had no memory other than I enjoyed it.  Not sure I even really understood it at the time, since I currently had no memory it.

This time though, I loved it.  I loved it!!!  My kids listened as intently as I did and they thoroughly enjoyed it too!  I cried at the end and I keep thinking about the characters – what they stood for, how they loved hard, and how through hard choices and tough times they overcame.

As always, we love when Focus on the Family does these audio dramas, they do such an amazing job matching personalities with voices and the sound effects make you feel like you really are listening to a movie instead of someone just reading to you! 

Les Miserables (Radio Theatre) takes place during the French Revolution and the story it tells is inspiring and humbling!  Jean Valjean is a man whose integrity is above reproach, a man of his word; a man when given a second chance at life takes that chance and makes the most of it by giving.   When the story begins Jean Valjean is being released from a 19 year prison sentence, he earned by stealing bread for his sister’s starving family.  He meets up with a man who challenges him to take this freedom (new life) and make the most of it, start over, do something great.  Jean does just that, he spends his life giving back, all the while raising young Cosette.  Of course many things happen along the way, but this story will grab your heart. 

After listening to this audio drama I cannot wait to watch the movie and then I plan to get my hands on the book and read it too.  I know that the end will not be a surprise, but I want to experience all that Victor Hugo meant for the reader to see, feel and sense when he initially wrote this book.

The CD is recommended for children above the age of 8, but I do admit, our 6 year old listened along with us.   

I highly recommend this Audio Drama by Focus, or any of their others to include Oliver Twist, Christmas Carole, Corrie Ten Boom, and many others to include Adventures in Odyssey.  We have loved everything we have listened to by Focus on the Family and trust you will to!!

I did receive a free copy of Les Miserables  in exchange from an honest review, by Tyndale House publishers.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Year = Changes

So what does your new year look like?  What changes, commitments, resolutions, goals are you making?

I am refining my goals for this next year.  I think the more specific I am, the better.  The more I spend time really praying about where I feel God is leading me, the more likely I am to be on the right track.

Meanwhile, change is here.

We are planning to changing some things up, and hoping to change others things up.

The plan.  We are moving one boy out of the boy room, into the girl room.  So we will now have the big kid room and the younger kid room.  We are painting the girl/boy room a slate blue (this week or next) with a white ceiling.  A big change from Pepto-Bismol pink.  Ugh!

We are moving bunk beds into the new room, and 2 twins in the big boys room (AKA guest room).

I plan to put maps up all over one of those walls, and get some kind of head boards up in there too.  Should be fun – and will be a huge improvement in there!!

Next, we are moving lots of stuff around, switching beds, moving dressers and getting everyone re-situated in their updated rooms.

While all this is going on I was thinking I really need to spend a few weeks organizing the house – and maybe January is a great time for that.  I have these great books on organizing – I may have to pull them out, dust them off and apply some great stuff, we’ll see!!

So, it’s a new year, change is brewing around here – and I am excited!!


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