My 100th Post and a Farewell to 2010

It seems fitting that my 100th post is closing the year of 2010.  This year was very interesting.
2010 showed me what panic is, what fear is, and what loss is.  It offered a new perspective for me concerning what I want from the relationships I have and made me face the harsh realities those conclusions brought.
But even with all of that, I still serve an amazing God.  There were days that I could not have gotten out of bed had it not been for His putting my feet on the floor.  He usually did this with a phone call from a sister or the sweet face of one of my children staring at me. 
I don't know that I have ever shed so many tears in one year or if I have ever known the fear that I tasted this past October and November and the panic I feel now whenever my child gets a headache or has eye pain.  Every feeling, but the love I have for my God, pales in comparison to it.
A couple of you know what it is to hear that your child is desperately ill, and they can't seem to figure out why.  You know what it is like to watch that child suffer in ways that most adults won't ever know.  You know how it is to see your child writhe in agony, and nothing you do can help them.  Then the doctors tell you he has one of three things, none of them good, two are life threatening, and the other could saddle him with a lifelong disability that could come with dangerous surgeries.
That was the end of 2010, but it took over the whole year. 
So, all I have to say to the year 2010 is this: You really, really sucked. I am glad you are over.
May the next year serve everyone a lot better.

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

Chicken Chimichangas - A Deep Fried Piece of Heaven

Here is what I had for dinner this evening.  I am making no claims that these are healthy or fat free.  I am asserting that they are OH SO GOOD and will completely ruin a diet.  You could probably cut the cheese in half and bake them - but why would you when they are so good this way?

Chicken Chimichangas
2 pound of cooked chicken breasts, shredded or chopped
2 cups of sharp cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cup of your favorite salsa
1 medium onion, chopped finely
1/2 cup of cilantro, chopped coarsely
10 ounces of frozen spinach, thawed and drained well
1 6 ounce can of tomato paste
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can of whole kernel corn, drained
1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
2 jalepeno peppers, seeded and minced (optional)
1 1/2 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp of pepper
1 tablespoon of cumin
20 Fajita sized Flour Tortillas
Oil for Frying
1 egg

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Warm the tortillas, 5 at a time, in the microwave, until soft and pliable but not to hot to handle - about 20 seconds depending on your microwave.

Fill tortillas with a heaping spoonful of mix - somewhere around a third of a cup.  Roll up, folding the sides up a little around the filling, then the bottom part over the sides and tightly rolling until almost completely rolled up.  Brush the inside edge of the tortilla with the egg, and finish rolling up.  Place seam side down on a plate until you have rolled up all of your tortillas.  If you have extra filling, it will freeze beautifully! 

Pour enough oil into a large, heavy skillet so you have about an inch of oil in the pan.  Wait until the oil is hot.  When the oil is hot, and a piece of bread will sizzle in it, gently place the tortillas, started with the ones you wrapped first, into the hot oil.  Remember, the filling is cooked already so when the tortilla is browned to your liking, take it out of the oil and drain on a plate with paper towels.  Continue cooking until all of them are finished.

You can freeze these before or after they are cooked.  When reheating, do not thaw.  Just put them in the oven until done, you may have to flip them.

Avocado Ranch Dipping sauce
1/2 an avocado, chopped
1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice
1 cup ranch Dressing
pinch of salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients together.  Eat with your chimichangas.
It is so so good!

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

Only for People Who Want to Die Happy

This is probably the most fattening but tastiest chicken soup in the world.  I have looked high and low so I could tell you where the basic recipe came from, but I could not find the source.  This is my own take on it anyway!
Don't eat this if you are on a diet, watching your cholesterol, or just don't want to die happy.

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

2 chicken breasts, boiled, deskined, deboned, and shredded.  Reserve broth.
4 to 6 cups of reserved chicken broth
1 can of condensed chicken noodle soup
1 box of long grain and wild rice with seasoning packet
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 pint of heavy cream
4 ounces of cream cheese

Bring 4 cups of broth, chicken and and chicken soup to a boil.  Add rice and seasoning packet.  Simmer until rice is mostly tender, about 8 to 10 minutes.  Add cream of chicken soup.  Stir until soup is mixed thoroughly.  Continue simmering until rice is fully cooked.  Add cream cheese, stir until it is mixed into the soup.  Add the heavy cream.  Bring back to a simmer.  If the soup is too thick, add more broth.

To freeze this soup, cook the chicken, chicken noodle soup, and rice together until the rice is about halfway done.  Freeze the soup base at this point.  Then to prepare, simply thaw and continue cooking per the regular instructions.

You can add shredded or diced carrots to this as well.  It is very, very tasty.
Serve with cresent rolls, yeast biscuits, or crackers.


  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

No Eating Out Month (January)!

Thirty one days of no eating out. No McDonalds, no Burger King, no Dominos, no Chilis, no food purchased in a restaraunt shall be paid for out of my wallet!
This is going to be very difficult for me.  Even when I have a freezer full of food and a well stocked pantry; after a day of four rambunctious kids, homeschooling, helping to run our HVAC business, and the dog; I am TIRED.  Oh and then there is the clean up afterwards.  Needless to say, cooking is not very high on the list of things I want to do at the end of the day.
Couple all of that with the fact that I generally plan and buy for some of the most ridiculously elaborate things, it is no wonder I can't put a hot dog on a paper plate when 5:30 rolls around.
But there is something magical about January.  You can finally close the door on the year and make all sorts of plans for the clean slate you now have called the new year.
So, for January, I will avoid all eateries like the plague.  I will, however, accept all dinner invitations! 
In order to make this work, I will need to publicly announce this.  I need the threat of suffering the humiliation of failure to make me behave.  I will also need my husband's full cooperation.  I am sure I can accomplish this by simply telling him that we can pay his van insurance for the year with the money we will save.  But, mostly I will need to plan. I need to plan for plan A and also have lots of plan B's!
I know for the children's lunches I will need quick and easy things.  It is difficult for me to feed four kids while simultaneously trying to stay sane!  For suppers, I need crock pot foods and things that don't require a lot of prep time.  Pork roast with red pepper aioli is really good, but is probably not the most practical thing for me to make, so I need to make sure that while I have this type of thing as an option should I feel like an adventurous night in the kitchen, I have some nice easy meal ideas as well.
Wish me luck!


PS.  In the interest of full disclosure, I do have a date night scheduled at OutBack. I got a $25 gift card in a rousing game of dirty Santa, so if I don't get to use that before the end of the year, we will be redeeming in January.  But that, short of an emergency, will be my only exception. 

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

Biscuits with a Little Intervention....

I was in the kitchen the other day, trying to quickly throw something together for dinner.  Well, I decided that the good old "breakfast for supper" routine was going to be the best thing. 
I preheated the oven to 450, intending on baking some biscuits, which I had big plans on using for some good ole biscuits and sausage gravy.
The joke was on me however, when I got down the ice cream bucket that contains the flour.  There wasn't near enough to make the huge pan of biscuits it takes to feed my family of seven!  I put the flour I did have, about 2 and 1/2 cups, in the mixing bowl, hoping that it would be like when Elijah went to the widow's house in Zarephath and the barrel of meal always had some left.
My bucket emptied out verrryy quickly, and when it was gone, it was gone!
I put a couple of tablespoons of shortening in there and turned on the mixer.  Then I went hunting through the pantry for something that I could use to stretch that mix!  The answer came to me as soon as the cabinet door was opened.  Pancake mix.
I used about 1 1/2 cups of pancake mix, added a bit more shortening and then added the milk I needed to make a soft biscuit dough.  I did not add my usual bit of sugar, as I figured the pancake mix already had some in it.
It worked out supremely well!  I was really impressed.  If I had not added the pancake mix in there myself, I would have never have known it was there. 
They were especially good smothered in the white gravy I made!
Here is how I make yummy white sausage gravy!

Sausage Gravy

3 Tbsp of shortening or drippings from bacon or sausage
3 Tbsp of flour
3 to 4 Cups of Milk
Salt and pepper
1 pound of cooked crumbled sausage

Melt the shortening in a heavy skillet and add flour.  Stir it around for about a minute or so, until it is hot and bubbly.  It needs to be about the consistency of very thick cake batter, so adjust the shortening or flour as you need to. 
Slowly, while stirring constantly, add about a cup or so of the milk.  It should thicken up pretty quickly, as it starts to get thick, add another cup of the milk, again, while stirring constantly.  Continue until you have added at least 3 cups of milk.  When it is thick and bubbly, add salt and pepper.  Taste, if it is bland, add more salt and pepper.  It always takes more than I think it will!  Just taste it as you go along and stop when it is good!  If the gravy is too thick, add more milk.  If it is too thin, remember it will thicken as it stands.  If it is runny like water, you will need to simmer it while stirring almost constantly until it thickens up.  This could take a while.  Another option you have is too mix a tablespoon of water with a tablespoon of flour - in a separate container - until it is very smooth, and then adding that to your cooking gravy.  DO NOT add more flour into the gravy without mixing it with water or milk first, you are asking for lumpy gravy otherwise!

After you have the gravy perfect, add your cooked sausage. We like a lot in ours so we use a full pound.  Use what you have or what you like!

Merry Christmas and may all your biscuits turn out light and your gravies smooth!


  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

A Wonderful Recipe to Celebrate!

Ok, so my child has been remarkably symptom free for a little over a week now.  The lumbar puncture he had this past week showed good results.  The medication he is on is really working very well!  I am grateful for this, yet at the same time, grieving the fact he has to be on medication or he could get sick again.  I hope I can have my medication free child back someday! 

I figured all the good news deserved a GREAT recipe.  This is what I will be taking to my sister's christmas party this Saturday. This is seriously just as good, if not better, than what the restaraunts serve!

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

10 to 12 ounces of spinach - if using frozen, thaw and drain well.
1 can of artichokes hearts, chopped
1 8 ounce package of cream cheese
1 jar of alfredo sauce
2 cups of mozzerella, divided
1 cup shredded parmesan, divided
1/2 tsp pepper (use more or less to suit you)

Preheat oven to 350.  Put spinach in microwave with a teaspoon of water until wilted, about a minute then drain off water.  Put in a bowl and add chopped artichokes hearts.  In a small bowl, heat cream cheese in microwave until soft and smooth, about 2 minutes, stirring halfway.  Put in bowl with spinach.  Pour in jar of alfredo sauce.  Mix in a cup of mozzerella cheese and 2/3 cup of parmesan.  Stir everything until mixed completely.
Pour into an 8x8 casserole or the large oval from pampered chef.  Top with remaining cheeses.
Bake until bubbly and cheese is just starting to have the little brown spots on top.  About 25 minutes. 

This is really good with chips or you can add cooked penne rigate or linguine for a nice meal!

Merry Christmas!


  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertention a.k.a. Pseudotumor Cerebri

My five year old son has just been diagnosed with this.
It started the second week of October.  He woke up with a severe headache, neck pain, and vomiting.  I immediately thought something was wrong with his head, so I took him to the pediatrician that day.  They announced he did not have strep throat and said it was probably viral.  He was sick two or three days and then seemed to be getting a little better for a couple of days.  Then he was horribly sick again.  The pediatrician said it was more than likely the same virus.  He was sick two or three more days, then stopped vomiting for a couple more days.  Then he got sick again.
The doctor ordered an MRI and lots of bloodwork. He also had him go see an ophthalmologist.
Everything was fine, except my child was very sick.
Finally, last week, we took him to Vanderbilt in Nashville.  The lumbar puncture had an opening pressure of 55.  I knew that was not good.  They did a CT scan and then a CT scan with contrast.  That was fine.  They admitted him and ran several more tests.  They decided that this was IIH, better known as pseudotumor.
The ophthalmologist that looked at him there found his optic nerves were swollen but his sight was fine.
He was in the hospital the better part of a week.  We are now at home.  He is still having vomiting and headaches, but he is feeling much better. 
If anyone knows anyone who's CHILD was diagnosed with this, please send along my email: jessi0519 at gmail dot com. 

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

Kid's Say the Darndest Things!

A while ago this little questionaire went around on Facebook.  I thought it would be fun to requiz the kids, now that they are all older.  The old answers are in italics.  The new ones follow.
Enjoy a small glimpse into the minds of my 3 oldest children. :)

1. What is something mom always says to you?

Go to bed

Micah - Don't say bad words
Jaela - I love you
Quin -Do chores
2. What makes mom happy?

doing what you are told to do

Micah - hugging her
Jaela - not lying
Quin - Tickling her

3. What makes mom sad?

Disobeying and saying no

Jaela - Kicking Micah, even if you say sorry
Micah - when we are mean to you
Quin - Worms in our house (?)

4. How does your mom make you laugh?

by saying funny things

Jaela & Micah- By tickling, by saying funny things on the phone
5. What was your mom like as a child?

acting cute

a baby doll (Micah) Short with blonde hair (Jaela)
6. How old is your mom?


Jaela - 24
Quin - 47
Micah - 18
7. How tall is your mom?

probably like 42

Jaela - 5 foot 6
Micah - Raises hand in the air and says about this tall
Quin - an inch and a half
8. What is her favorite thing to do?

doing chores (Micah)

Quin - Read Books
Micah - picking flowers
Jaela - spank kids & cook
9. What does your mom do when you're not around?

watch tv

play on the computer - Jaela and Micah
go in the kitchen and make stuff - Quin

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?

spankings (Laquinthia)

Micah - playing Drums
Jaela & Quin - a fashion model

11. What is your mom really good at?

doing chores (Micah)

Quin - games
Micah - cooking and picking roses
Jaela - braiding
12. What is your mom not very good at?

putting her leg on the back of her head

Jaela -  "I am not going to answer that" (smart girl this one!)
Micah - picking up heavy stuff
Quin - monopoly
13. What does your mom do for her job?

do chores (evidently this has really stuck with Micah)

Quin - Clean up the kitchen
Jaela - tells us to do chores
Micah - "Mommy doesn't have a job, but I will tell you what her job is, cleaning up the kitchen, cleaning up the bathroom...."
14. What is your mom's favorite food?

pizza, apples, vanilla (??????)

Jaela - Eggrolls
Quin - Chicken pop soup (???????)
Micah - Pizza with drinking soda
15. What makes you proud of your mom?

she gives you nice things when your sick, like letting you sit in her bed and watch tv

Quin - Making soup
Micah - When she gives me toys
Jaela - when she lets me do whatever I want to do, like go bowling.
16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?


Micah - a princess
Jaela - Sandy Cheeks off of Spongebob
Quin - Someone off of Emporer's new groove 
17. What do you and your mom do together?

laugh and play video games

Jaela - tell daddy to stop passing gas in the house (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA)
Micah - go shopping
Quin - Pick up
18. How are you and your mom the same?

we look alike with the same smile and face (????!!) Jaela goes on to say we have the same roundness.

Jaela - we like doing some of the same stuff
Micah - By loving and picking flowers
Quin - By picking flowers and peaches
19. How are you and your mom different?

we play on barbie dot com and you play on facebook

Micah - I don't know
Quin - I don't know
Jaela - I like playing in make up and mom doesn't
20. How do you know your mom loves you?

Because she takes care of me

Jaela - by what she does
Micah - by hugging
Quin - I don't know (the land before time was on and clearly not a good time to ask her questions)
21. Where is your mom's favorite place to go?


Jaela  - Khols
Quin - Asahi
Micah - Walmart
Danny - Kroger

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

This is a Rant :)

Recently a news station out of Nashville reported this story:
It is a biased report attacking church related umbrella schools here in Tennessee.

Go, read or watch, then come back and see my email to her and her response.

From: Jessica Carter []
Sent: Tuesday, October 26, 2010 2:29 PM
To: Jennifer (WSMV) Johnson

Subject: Church related schools

I am really disappointed with this report. It was very biased and based solely on a single family, who were obviously having difficulties in home.

This father was shocked at how far behind his children were. I find that sad. Had he been involved in children’s education, there would have been no shock.

The state of Tennessee DOES know how many children are enrolled in church related schools. Church related schools report to the state, every year, how many students they have enrolled.

My children are enrolled in a church related school. I pulled my oldest child out of public school because the school system, with all their oversight, was failing her. She could not read past a kindergarten level and she was in second grade. She is now in fourth grade and is reading much better. I am now educating her and her siblings.

I am not interested in standardized testing for my children. I don’t use the same curriculum as public schools. There are differences in curriculums and standardized testing would not be able to account for this. So the results would not accurately portray what my children have learned and not learned. My daughter, due to how far behind she was when I pulled her out of public schools, doesn’t yet know multiplication. She would test “behind” in that area. But, if she has not yet been taught that, is she really behind? No, she is just not meeting the standard of a totally different curriculum for her grade. But, she is exactly where she is supposed to be in the curriculum she is being taught.

Isn’t the most important thing that she is learning and moving forward? Why should she be forced to learn what she is not ready to learn, simply to meet the standards of a test?

Furthermore, Sylvan Learning Center is a for profit organization whose job it is to inform you of how miserably behind your child is. They want your money. Their standards are not even the school’s standards. Since when are they responsible for setting the standards for children?

Stories of children being behind and failing, are a dime a dozen in the public school system. The public school system has an extraordinarily large amount of government oversight, and they are failing children in many different areas. Where is your outrage and report?

Thank you for this report, as it reminds me of the ignorance and misinformation that most people have concerning homeschooling. I imagine that you have heard from many homeschoolers by this point, because we are one of the most active and effective voices in our communities. We are dedicated to our children and their educations. Shame on you for picking a single bad example and ignoring the thousands of good ones. The public school teachers I know would love to have the time, attention, and creative energy to devote to their students that we are able to give to our students.


Jessica Carter

Now her reply

Ms. Carter,

Thank you for your e-mail. I’m sorry you feel this way. The story wasn’t meant to be biased or insinuate that all students taught at home are failing. That’s why I used the statistic pointing out that home school students test 2 points higher on the ACT than their public school counterparts. I think Mr. Shearer also made some eloquent comments that speak to your points.

What the story WAS designed to do is point out that there are children who are slipping through the cracks, and I stand behind that. This is not an isolated incident. The state department of education says they get a half a dozen calls a day from people just like Greg. I’m sorry if I left you with the impression that this was an issue about one Tennessee family. I can assure you… that’s not the case. The fact that these kids are behind was illustrated by the fact that a judge stepped in and ordered them back to school.

I agree with you. There are many students being taught at home who are thriving. There are also some who are slipping through the cracks. If there are any other specific facts you dispute in the story, I will be happy to address those.
Jennifer Johnson

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

Yummy Beef Enchiladas

1 pound of ground beef
1/4 cup chopped onion
packet of taco seasoning (optional)

3 tablespoons of butter
1/4 cup flour
1 chicken boulion cube
2 1/2 cups of water
1 tablespoon chili powder

8 to 10 corn tortillas

Brown ground beef with onion, drain fat.  Mix it taco seasoning and prepare according to package directions.  Or if you are omitting the seasoning, just add salt and pepper to your ground beef.  (This is the way I like it best.)  Set aside.
Melt butter in saucepan.  Add flour and stir for about thirty seconds to a minute.  Add boullion cube and water.  Whisk in chili powder.  Stir until thickened and bubbly.  Set aside.
In a nonstick skillet, heat a corn tortilla until warm and pliable.  Put a few tablespoons of beef filling into tortilla and roll up.  Pour a few tablespoons of enchilada sauce onto rolled up tortilla and beef. 

Repeat until all the meat or tortillas are filled.  Serve with shredded white american cheese, lettuce, sour cream, and tomatoes if desired. 

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

Looking for Used Homeschool Curriculum?

Ok, remember I said that November was generally a good time to start looking for used curriculum?  Well, October is the new November! 
I have noticed a significant increase in used curriculum postings, especially Sonlight!  Remember these tips:

  1. Do not be afraid to ask for a lower price.  In fact, always do!
  2. Unless you need it now or come across a hard to find item, wait until January.
  3. Don't buy the first deal offered:  SHOP AROUND.
  4. You will probably turn down lots of 'deals' before finding the right one!
  5. Do not pay more than 50% of the current retail price for a used item, unless it is a hard to find one, then make sure the new item is NOT on sale.
Here are some good places to start:
Good Luck!!

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

Most. Awesome. Fabulous. Granola. EVER.

This is the best granola I have ever had.  I love it.  The kids love it.  The dog, well the puppy, she loves most all of what the kids' drop. But anyway, here is the recipe!

7 cups of oats - not quick cooking
1 cup of Wheat Germ (found in the cereal section of the grocery store)
1 cup of chopped almonds
1 cup of chopped pecans
1 cup of sesame seed kernels (this means take them out of the shell or buy them that way)
1 cup of coconut
1 1/2 cup of Maple Syrup (the REAL stuff, I know it is expensive, but it is worth it!)
2/3 cup of vegetable oil

Mix dry ingredients in a big bowl.  Mix wet ingredients in a smaller bowl.  Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients.  Bake at 300 for around an hour and a half, stirring after every half hour. 

This makes a one gallon freezer bag FULL of granola.  It lasts my family of seven about 2 weeks.

After it has baked and cooled you can add mini chocolate chips, dried fruit, m&m's..... :-D

Share on Facebook

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

Is that my ........ OMG!!!! IT IS!

Yesterday, I was on the phone with a friend, and after I finished berating her for not telling me about B12 and it's wonderful energy giving effects, she mentioned, "Jessica, didn't we always feel better after we exercised?"
I was all like "Ummm what is this ex-er-cise you speak of? And what the heck does it have to do with B12 and energy?" 
She went on rather enthusiastically about how we used to exercise together and how that made us feel so much better and more healthy.... Then I was all like... "Shut and tell me about more pills!" haha
Anyway, she says, "Let's go walking tomorrow morning, at 7 AM."  I am stupidly up for most anything as long as it gets me kid free out of the house. So I told her to call me at 6:30 and wake me up.  I had been reveling in the bliss that late sleepers must feel and not getting up until 7:30 or 8 - LOL  (This was a true change from my 4 AM days!)

At 6:57 this morning, I was still in bed.  I was wondering why friend did not call.  Rotten friend got me all hyped up and I woke up early in anticipation of the phone ringing.  So I got up, got dressed in work out clothes and called her.  She was still in bed.  Said she was up but was just laying there.
Ok, rotten friend, that is not the park!  I said, "Get up. I am dressed and putting on my shoes. Hurry up and get yo act together!"  She said she would meet me by 7:15.
Cool.  I go to the park with a cup of coffee that I drink on the way.

I get there and park next to a vehicle that looks much like friend's vehicle, but I am not sure.  She isn't in it.  So, I am inconspicuously trying to peer into this vehicle to see if it has signs of being my friends.  I may have peed my pants if someone had said something to me.
After I decided that it was NOT friend's vehicle I started doing stretches.  I used to get horrible shin splints way back when asphalt and treadmills got to experience my feet pounding on them.  So, I learned to do really good calf stretches so I would be able to walk the next day.
Friend pulls up. 

After a minor discussion about what the heck do you do with your car keys, down the track we went.  She was practically running.  Now, this chick is short.  She *may* be five foot tall.  I am considerably taller than her.  So for her to get as far ahead of me as she did, I am convinced her feet did not touch the ground during her power walk.  She half ran/flew.  I was thinking, "I thought you said WALK!!!!" and ran to catch up with her. 

Much begging for her to slow down did absolutely no good.  She basically called me a pansy and then announced we were going to run from one light pole to the other.  REALLY!!!!!!!!  RUN!!!!!!!  She called it a "slow jog." I felt like putting on a pair of skates and hooking up to her... Wheeeee!
As she was 'slow jogging' and I was lumbering quickly after her, convinced I was going to die from oxygen depravation at any moment, the light pole mysteriously moved further and further away from its original location.

After the 'slow jog' I sounded like my fat dog breathing after the short walk to the door to outside.  I was all haaaagggghhhhh,  uhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, haaaaaaggggghhhh, uuuuuuhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, choke cough.
We walked to the other light pole and she announced we were going to run again.
WHY!????  Why did I call this rotten friend.  Why did I feel like making her hold up her invitation of torture? Why am I friends with her in the first place?  Who cares that she is one of the coolest people I currently know.  I could drop her, find more cool people.  Preferably fat, cool people who think that exercise it what you do when you walk to the refrigerator for more diet soda and ice cream.

As we were running, I kept feeling this weird thing going on behind me.  What is that?  It felt like something had snuck into my pants and was having a dance party.  I turned and look. 
"Is that my ...." Humiliation of all humiliation.  "OMG!!!!!  IT IS!!!  That is my BUTT!" 
It is, well, bouncing up and down, up and down.....I can feel it.  If I can feel it, I know others can see it.  GREAT! This is why I wear tight jeans.  To keep that joker under control.  Workout pants just give it free range to do what ever it wants and invites the whole world to notice.  I may have well set music to it and invited people over to the track for the show.

So now that I have been tortured, humiliated, and have probably overdosed on advil since arriving home, I am still in good spirits.  I refuse to be beat. 

And, if I can still walk, we are going to do it again tomorrow!

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

Freezer Cooking on the Fly

If you give a mom a few minutes...

If you give mom a few minutes of peace and quiet, she will probably get a cup of coffee.
While she is drinking her coffee, she will probably pick up her laptop and check her email.

She will be looking through her email until she reads one reminding her that she needs a dinner plan.
She will then start doing recipe searches based on the few ingredients one generally has after refusing to go grocery shopping for several weeks.

While searching for recipes, she will realize all the meat in the house is frozen, thereby leading her brain down the path of 'freezer cooking.'
So, in an effort to find a complete plan, she will start googling such terms as; once a month cooking, bulk cooking, and freezer cooking.

She will find a plan and decide to print it all out.
While printing, the printer will run out of paper, so the mom goes to the usual spot the paper is kept.

She will find the paper missing. While silently berating her organizational skills, she will go through every last stack of paper and magazines in the livingroom.
When she finally decides that she is out of printer paper, and is having a discussion with herself about whether or not the plan can be printed on construction paper, her 10 year old artist will finally tell her what she did with the paper and the current location of what is left of it.

She will reload the paper in the printer.
After the printing is completed, she will take the grocery lists and look through all the cabinets, refrigerator, freezers, and the pantry and mark off the ingredients she already has.

While doing so, the children will think she is in the kitchen for the sole purpose of making them a snack. The mom will see that it is 11:30 in the afternoon and tell all the children that lunch is on the way.
The two year old will misinterpret this to mean that pizza will be delivered shortly, and announce with glee and sheer delight that she "loves pidda!"

The mom will notice the look of dismay the two year old gives the peanut butter sandwich. Which will remind the mom that grocery shopping does have to occur somewhere in the near future.

The mom will tell the dad that she is going to the supermarket and leaving all the children with him. Because she has left all the children, she view grocery shopping as a leisurely excursion and spend two hours at the grocery store, where she finds that, she can still think in coherent sentences and follow a grocery list.

Because she made such wonderful discoveries, she will decide that she is the supreme - can do it all then help you with yours - mom.
She will decided to start the once a month cooking plan when she gets home. She will not care that it is a Saturday afternoon and the kitchen is a wreck. She is the - can do it all and then help with yours - mom!
She will go home and stand in her kitchen while the children and husband unload the van. She - in her self affirmed stupor- blissfully ignores the chaos around her, not to mention the fact it is 2 in the afternoon and turn the oven on the preheat.

She will NOT unload the groceries. "Why unload the groceries if you are just going to get them all back out?" she thinks.

She gets out the first recipes and starts cooking and assembling. She has to step over several bags.
She decides that having the bags all over the kitchen floor was probably not the best idea. However, she is in a crucial - don't turn away - moment in one of her recipes. She begins to feel the facade of -can do it all and then help with yours - start to crumble.

Panic will start setting in. Because she is not one to panic; she is one to plan, she desperately yells out calls her children, "Get the groceries out of the bags and put them on top of the counter!"

Because the children were in the middle of watching Spongebob Squarepants, and mom is very occupied, the sweet angels will only halfway complete the job. The oldest child will decide to not only help unload the groceries, she will also help put them away.

Mom will notice the actions of the oldest when she has to remove the cream cheese from the hallway closet.
While walking from the closet back to the kitchen, mom will notice the puppy had an accident on the hallway carpet. She will announce this to her husband, who is sitting in the recliner, and continue walking to the kitchen.
Once back at the kitchen, she will notice the puppy is trying to chew through one of the remaining grocery bags on the floor. She kicks at waves her foot around the puppy, while holding a pot of smushy looking chicken, and tries to get husband out of the recliner and into the kitchen to help her.

Husband removes puppy. He is reminded by this action, that this same puppy had an accident on the floor of the hallway. He leaves kitchen to take care of it.
Mom tries not to think about said accident and how long it has been there. She is aware that she is losing control. She is no longer the - can do it all and then help with yours - mom. She is now the - what was I thinking I know better than this - mom.

She starts to feel a strange sensation. It is not her nerves. They are too shot at this point to feel anything. It is the start of a cold. Headache, runny nose, achiness - WHAMO! All at once it hits her. She never gets sick.
(Her husband has wished for her immune system on more than one occasion.)

She frantically starts trying to get everything put away. It is 10 pm and the kids are still not in bed, only one third of the recipes are done, and she is feeling worse by the second.
At 11 pm, the - wilted crazy eyed promise never to talk herself up in the grocery store ever again because in all reality she is just crazy stupid- mom, crawls into bed.

On a good note, she finds an angel to take her Sunday School class of two year olds, and rests up. She is able to complete her cooking day and is now having to resist the urge to gloat over her full freezers everytime she opens them. She finds herself thinking such thoughts as, "It wasn't really that bad" and "I am the most bestest frugalest super mom ever, WOO HOO!"

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

Home Schooling For Less

There are lots of websites out there that tell us how we can home school our children for free or practically free.  There are even several books written on the subject.  I say nothing is truly free.  The paper that you print on cost money, not to mention the ink for the printer.  Internet connections and books all cost money.

But even though you can't homeschool for free, you can certainly homeschool for less!  I spent very little money on our curriculum this year.

We use Weaver.  I love it, and more importantly, my kids love it.  If you bought the curriculum from Alpha Omega, the publisher, you would spend a nice little sum of money.  I only paid $25 for mine.  I got it used.  You can barely tell it has been used. I bought all five Weaver Volumes, their accompanying Day by Days, and some extras that go with them, and the Interlock for about $200 including shipping.  I even have a couple of extra volumes that I will sell to recoup some of my cost. 

When we were trying to decide on which curriculum to use, I bought the entire Sonlight kindegarten newcomer kit with the art and physical education electives.  I did NOT pay the $700 + dollars that Sonlight asks for.  I bought it slightly used for $300, shipped.  It also came with a set of Childcraft Encyclopedias thrown in for free.

I decided to give Switched on Schoolhouse a go last year for my then third grader.  I paid $85 for the next to the newest version and then when we decided it was not going to work, I sold it for $150 on ebay.

There are sites that offer the curriculum itself for free - is one of them.  They use older resources though, and you do have to supplement the science. has a great phonics program for absolutely nothing.  They also have a complete preschool/kindergarten curriculum for free as well! 

So, in reality, homeschooling doesn't have to be expensive.  It can be as cheap as you want it to be, all you need is a little patience and flexibility.

Start your search for curriculum with these sites:,, and ebay. Never pay full asking price, unless it is a rare find, and you desperately need the item NOW.  (But that level of need is what prompted the $150 sale of the SOS I had! So beware, you will spend more with that attitude.) 

Do not wait until the last minute to get your curriculum.  Look in November and January.  That is when people are looking to 'dump' the curriculum they are currently using because they are frustrated with it, their kids don't like it, or they decided to put the kids back in public school.

Good luck!

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

Book Review: Tell a Lie and Your Butt Will Grow

  I have read to my kids since they were very little. But over the past year, their interest in being read to waned. I was disappointed, to say the least. I love reading and really wanted to cultivate a love of reading in my kids.

I discussed how to overcome this with a couple of great friends and fellow homeschooling moms. They both suggested I not allow them to watch as much TV as I have been. So, I started turning off the TV as soon as Daddy left and did not let them turn it on without permission. It was an adjustment. There have definitely been some positive results. They play outside more. They play with their toys and each other. They have more to talk about. But they were still disinterested in hearing me read to them. They would sit in silence as I read books like "The Family Under the Bridge" and "Sounder".

So I tried a different tactic. Pick the craziest sounding kid book I could find at the Goodwill. Don't worry about whether or not it won awards or if it would strengthen their character and teach good life lessons.

I found what I was looking for. For the cool price of $0.49, I picked up "Tell a Lie and Your Butt Will Grow" by Dan Greenburg. It had a crazy looking kid with a big behind on the cover. I sighed as I handed over my hard earned cash for something as silly as this book.

I showed it to the kids. They. Were. Thrilled. THRILLED. They were laughing at the title and were begging me to read it to them. My oldest actually asked if she could go ahead and read it on her own. I began that book a couple evenings later.

The book is about a boy, Andrew, who can not help but brag and lie. His exaggerated tale telling and plain old lying, causes his butt to grow some with each whopper. It is threatening to ruin the science fair project!

I did not like how the main character, Zack, said that Andrew could not help but brag and lie. That idea was not corrected, and it did prompt a talk about how we can control what comes out of our mouths. Everything we say, we choose to say. I did censor a couple things. Silly things really, I did not read the word 'moron' when a character in the book called someone that. I did not want my kids repeating it. I don't think it is a bad word, but they hear Squidward say it and I have to get after them then for repeating it. I certainly did not want to do anything further to encourage its usage. But, really, it did not say anything that they don't already hear now on Spongebob Squarepants. It was a silly little book, very fast to read, and the kids laughed out loud on a regular basis.

So even though it has little in the way of profoundness and real character building, it was a fast, easy read. And most of all, my kids looked forward to me reading to them. Perhaps the sweetest moment was after the book was read, my oldest went to the bookshelf, looked a bit, and brought me "Old Yeller."

I had to promise we would start tomorrow.

Oh and yes, when it was done, we could watch the movie :) .


  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

Chore Chart to Replace My ModEcoKids one!

I found a chore chart that was so pretty at ModEcoKids.  Then their website disappeared.  It is so sad!  I have searched and searched and could not find what may have happened to it. 
So, I tried my best to recreate it!  I have ordered a laminator from and am going to laminate them.

Here is a link to one you can use! (I hope I am not breaking any copyright laws here!)  I will be glad to email you the docx file so you can edit it with Word!  Just shoot me an email asking for it!

Chore Chart

Enjoy --- Jessica

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

The Secret to Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies :)

I am going to brag a bit.  I make awesome chocolate chip cookies!  They are crisp around the edges, soft and chewy in the middle, and ohhhh so good!  At 7:00 last night I made 6 dozen.  It is 10:00 this morning and they are all gone.  Not a crumb left.  They are that good.  (Well, there is also the fact that I have seven people that live in my house.)

I have talked to a lot of people about making cookies and there are two common problems, they are either too cakey or two crunchy. 

The secret to good cookies -
1. Make sure you are using a recipe that is known for it's success.  I use the Toll House Cookie recipe.
2.  Use REAL butter and make sure it is SOFT butter.  The day you want to make cookies, set the butter out a few hours before you start.  I also let the eggs come to room temperature.
3.  Do NOT use self rising flour in place of the plain flour, salt, and baking soda.  Make sure you measure the flour into the cup with a spoon and level with the backside of a knife.
4.  Preheat the oven before you put the first cookie in there!
5.  Make sure your pans are cleaned and cooled between batches.
6.  Take your cookies out when they are slightly under done.  They will continue to cook for a minute after you pull them out.  The instructions say bake 9 - 11 minutes.  My oven cooks a bit hot, so I leave them for 8 1/2 to 9 minutes.  That is it.

If you use margarine, it contains water.  This will make your cookies cakey.  I also had great success with the smart balance 50/50 blend.  It has some water, but it did not really make a difference in the finished product.
Do not overcook.  If they look set and done in the oven, they will be crispy when they are cooled.  They have overcooked. 

Happy cookie making!

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

Four EASY Things to do With Twenty Pounds of Ground Beef

Ground beef is on sale at Town & Country in Humboldt for $1.28 a pound.  If you could buy 20 or more pounds of this, you could save a bunch of money.  But, let's face it, once you get 20 pounds of ground beef home, and put on your countertop, it could look really overwhelming!

So I am here to help you!  I am going to buy 20 pounds of ground beef.  I am feeding seven people, so my portions may be bigger or smaller than yours.
1.  Meatloaf - 4 lbs Mix up 2 - 2 lb meatloaves and don't cook them. Pat into a loaf and wrap up in aluminum foil.  Freeze.  To cook:  Heat oven to 350.  Unwrap from foil and put in baking dish.  Cook for around an hour and a half until done.
2.  Taco Meat - 6 lbs - Cook all ground beef until done, drain, and add taco seasoning.  Divide into 3 ziploc bags.  Freeze.  Reheat to serve.
3.  Hamburger Patties - 4 lbs - Pat out 12 hamburger patties and place two pieces of wax paper in between each one. Place in a clear freezer bag.  I cook these straight on the grill or skillet from their frozen state.
4.  This will leave you with 6 pounds left to do something with.  Cook the rest with some garlic and onion.  Divide equally into 6 freezer bags.  You will use this for chilis, soups, casseroles, and whatever else your imagination leads you to prepare!

This will not take as long as you might think.  I would put aside an hour of my time to do it all completely, including the clean up. 

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

Grocery Shopping - Some Practical Advice

We have all heard the saying:  Never shop for groceries while you are hungry! 

That is sage advice.  I ate breakfast before I left and actually only got what I needed.  The urge to impulse buy was cut drastically. 

Here is another one:  Try to not take the kids with you. 

Now if you are anything like me, you generally have to have the kids with you.  That is the time to keep the list short and bribery is acceptable.  Go to the toy section, pick out the cheap toys ($2 or less).  Make the kids hold them. Tell them if they put the toy down, put the toy in the buggy, or otherwise let go of the toy, you will not be getting it for them.  That takes care of one hand.  LOL...  I let me children walk ahead of me in the aisle I am in, so long as they do not leave my sight.  My older child who is ten, can go get specific things for me.  Kids are going to touch things.  They are curious and they want to know about everything.  Gentle reminders about not removing things from shelves need to happen with some frequency.

You can also post on your facebook page or email your Sunday school class to try to find another mom to swap grocery time with you.  You watch her kids while she shops, and she in turn watches your kids while you shop.  Place firm rules on this - no more than two hours away, the parent is responsible for their own kid's lunch, etc...  Whatever you both need to be comfortable with the arrangement.

Go with a list.  I emphasize this enough.  Don't trust your own memory.  That is how you come home with things you don't need and nothing you did.

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

Grow Your Own Herbs!

Is there an herb you use a lot?  Do you find yourself always reaching for the italian seasoning mix?  Do you always wish you had fresh basil? 
We can spend a ton of money stocking our spice racks.  But a lot of the dried herbs are extremely cheap to grow and taste much better fresh.
I love this stuff called Laab.  It is a Thai meat salad.  It has ground pork, chicken, or beef.  It is seasoned with rice powder, thai chilis, lime juice, basil, mint, and green onion.  I have and could eat a pound of this stuff at a time.  There really is nothing quite like it.  But it takes fresh basil and fresh mint, and let's face it:  Those are EXPENSIVE to buy.  So I decided to grow my own herb garden.  With a little bit of research about what growing zone you live in, you can do your own herb garden too!  I live in Tennessee, so I can grow quite a bit. 
I grow my herbs in a raised bed up next to my house, in my backyard.  Here is what I have.
Sage:  I bought a small sage plant last spring.  Cost $2.00  It is evidently a perinnial and has grown into a big bushy plant.  I have had to cut it back quite a bit.  I dried most of what I cut off, until I had more sage than I will ever need.  Now I throw it away.  It is currently finishing up blooming and it quite pretty.
Basil:  This is an annual.  Keep pinching off the blooms to extend it growing season.  One plant grew pretty big and I let it go to seed and got more basil seeds than I know what to do with.  One plant gave me all the basil I could ever want.  You must plant more the following year.
Mint:  This plant can be very invasive.  It is supposed to be more than easy to grow.  I admit, I killed mine last year.  I have spearmint, not peppermint.  I got a cutting a from my cousin.  It is now growing in great abundance and I will have to keep it cut back, or else it will take over.  A perinnial.
Chinese basil:  I just got the seeds from a friend.  It is doing well so far.
Oregano:  It grows and grows and grows.  A perinnial.
Green onion:  I just stuck the onion bottoms from some green onions in the dirt and voila!  They grew and now I just cut the tops off.  Eventually, they bloom, and go to seed. 
Cilanto:  Plant a very good crop.  It will grow in very cool weather.  You can take cuttings off of it throughout its life, but it will eventually go to seed.  Let it and you will have all the cilantro you will ever need.  When it gets too cool, save the seeds for the next year or plant them in your indoor herb garden.
Thai Chili Peppers:  I got seeds from a friend, but they refused to grow.  So I bought a plant from Lowe's.  It said ornamental, I just laughed.  It has just got done blooming for the first time and I expect to have lots of these wonderful, red-hot chilis very soon.
I am going to plant Thyme, I have these seeds. Just need to find it a spot.
Lemon Balm:  Just got a cutting from another cousin.  I am not sure what I am going to do with it yet!
If anyone wants cuttings or seeds, send me your address and I will see what I can do.  It is, of course, first come first serve.


  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

Peach Cobbler

The only thing you really need to know about making cobblers is, it is NOT an exact science.

Tonight I opened 2 cans of peaches, drained one and then poured them both into a 9x9 baking dish.  I added several tablespoons of brown sugar and sprinkled some cinnamon in it.  Stir to combine it all. 

For the topping I put about a cup or two of bisquick in a bowl, enough milk to put it at the consistency of pancake batter, and then added 1/2 to 3/4 cups of sugar to make it taste sweet.  Yes, I tasted it as I was going. 

(You can also do 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of sugar, and 1 cup of milk for the topping.)

Pour that over the top.

Bake at 400  until a knife inserted into the center of the cobbler comes out clean of dough.  It will have the juice of the cobbler on it but that is ok.

I had to cover mine with foil halfway through.


  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

Left-Over Black Bean Salad

I have really good intentions when I go to the grocery store.  I buy fruits and veggies, and all sorts of interesting things to cook.  Problem is, half of it can ruin before I find the energy find the time to get to it.  I also tend to throw away a lot leftovers.
So tonight, in an effort to combat that issue, I looked in the fridge and created this:

1 can of drained and rinsed black beans (or as close as you can get to a cup - I used left overs)
1 cup of corn.  (I used leftover)
1 tomato, diced
1 half an avocado, peeled and diced
1 half of a jalapeno, seeded and diced
3 Tbsp of chopped cilantro (or to taste - I just eyeballed it)
juice from half a lime

Dressing (mix together in a separate dish)
3 Tbsps of Red Wine Vinegar
3 Tbsps of Olive Oil
2 teaspoons of finely chopped fresh oregano (you could substitute dried, I just happen to grow it)
1 tsp cumin

Measure vinegar into bowl, slowly drizzle in olive oil into vinegar, whisking constantly.  Add spices.

Mix all salad ingredients well and top with dressing.


  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

Southwestern Steak Sandwiches

Southwestern Steak Sandwiches

Pack of Onion Buns
1/2 cup Ranch dressing
1/2 jalepeno, finely chopped
1/4 avocado, mashed
1 1/2 lb thinly sliced sirloin steak
1/2 bottle Chipotle Citrus Marinade
1 small Onion, diced
olive oil
1 1/2 cups frozen corn

Mix Ranch dressing, jalapeno, and avocado.  Refrigerate.
Put steak into a dish and cover with marinade.  Refrigerate.
Spread frozen corn into single layer on a cookie sheet.  Sprinkle with olive oil and a bit of salt.  Roast in oven until shiny and beginning to brown.  Remove from oven.
Meanwhile, saute onion in skillet with olive oil.  Add steak slices to skillet. Discard remaining marinade. Cook until meat reaches preferred doneness.  Chop into bite sized pieces.
Slice buns open and lightly spread on olive oil.  Toast in oven or in a skillet until browned.

To assemble sandwiches:
Spread a thin layer of avocado ranch dressing on bottom bun, sprinkle on roasted corn.  Add meat, tomato slices, and lettuce.  Top with the top half of the bun.


You can also nix the bun and serve over lettuce to cut out some of the carbs!


  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

Bar B Q Ribs! Yummmmmm

I did it.  I finally put ribs on the grill and they came out just like I wanted them too!  I like my ribs a bit on the dry, chewy side.  Not like jerky or shoe leather, nope, I want them tender enough to come off the bone with a little effort, with no chewy, soggy fat to go through.  I finally perfected this tonight!  Wooo Hoo!  Here's how ya do it!

Heat your gas or charcoal grill up to 300 to 350 degrees.  Push all the charcoal to one side.  Place seasoned (I used the Paula Dean season my friend Kim gave me) ribs, meat side up, on the side with no charcoal.  Close grill.  Resist opening for 30 minutes. 
After 30 minutes, add 5 charcoal briquets to the charcoal, and turn meat over.  Close again for another 30 minutes.  Do not open the grill unless you think the ribs hopped over to the charcoal side and are now on fire!  After the 30 minutes if up, add more charcoal - another 5 to 10 briquets, and turn ribs again.  They should be getting nicely browned at this point and pulling away from the top of the bone.  Close lid and cook 30 more minutes. 
Now they have been cooking for 1 1/2 hours.  They should be juicy looking and just about done, depending on the size of the ribs.  If you want fall of the bone tender and juicy ribs, cook another 30 minutes over the indirect heat and mop with your favorite sauce for the last 5 or 10 minutes.  I did not however, so I pulled my ribs over to the charcoal.
Ahhhhhh, there is nothing like that sizzling sound!!!!!!  I cooked them, turning frequently, for 30 more minutes.  Hallelujah!!!!!  There was singing in my mouth as I looked at what I had done! 
They were perfect.
And I never once had to turn on the oven.  WAHOOO!


  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

I know; It's been a while!

It has been over a month since my last post.  Between a friends world falling apart and being put back together and then my life in general, it was better to just set the blog aside. 
But, I am back now!

My dh will be gone for a few days, and I am going to survive by making things like pizza rolls and sandwiches.  It is remarkably cheap to feed you family this way.  But, I could not in good conscience do this for the long haul!  I felt so guilty and felt the need to reassure the cashier as I was unloading my prepackaged harvest, that I did know how to cook and that they all would take a multi vitamin this week! 

I had some thoughts of preparing freezer meals for this occasion, but I never got around to it.

So I don't know that I have anything beneficial to say to you at this point, except don't do what I have done!



  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

Chicken Chili Stew

Here is a recipe I created on the fly tonight.  It was 6 o'clock, I had baby gold potatoes and asparagus that HAD to be cooked.  I needed a meal that was quick.  I knew I wanted to roast the potatoes and saute the asparagus.  So I needed to create something that could sit on a plate next to my veggies, and could be made on the stove top.  This is what I came up with.  It is economical, contains only five ingredients, and is quite tasty.
Chicken Chili Stew
2 Chicken Breasts (I had a larger one and a very small one.)
1 can of corn
1 can of great northern beans
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon of cumin (use more or less to suit you)

Dice chicken breasts.  Cook in skillet until done.  Drain and rinse corn and beans.  Add corn, beans, undrained tomatoes, and cumin to chicken.  Stir well.  Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes until most of the liquid cooks out.  Add salt and pepper to taste. 


  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

Managers of Their Homes - A Review (So Far!)

I recently heard about a scheduling system by Steve Teri Maxwell called, "Managers of Their Homes."  I decided to give it a go.  I went to the website and gave them my $25.00 plus shipping.  I read the book.  It took me pretty much all week.  It is spiral bound with a bigger font and a lot of white space, it was easy to read, easy to follow, and was like having someone just talk to you about it.  It did help me to realize that I pretty much already live by a schedule.  It was not written down anywhere, but we basically do the same things every day, so putting together the schedule was relatively easy. 
The system works like this:  Read the book.  This would be an important step.  It explains scheduling and why you need to do it.  It has a ton of suggestions about scheduling your children and yourself.  It also has a chapter dedicated to scheduling infants.  I don't schedule infants and whole heartedly disagree with the notion, so I skimmed that part.  But, if you are like some of my dearest friends, and you want to know how to schedule babies, this would tell you how to do it. 

For me, there was nothing 'earth shattering' or life changing as far as new information goes, but there were some very practical suggestions and some much needed reminders.

After the book is read, you follow a few steps and fill out a couple of forms.  You will have written down for everyone in your home, except for your spouse, a list of things they do and things you would like for them to do and how long it takes to do it. 

Then you transfer that to a bunch of colored squares.  Each person has their own color.  Mine was golden.  :)  The squares represent either a half hour or one hour block of time.  You cut out the squares and sticky tac them onto the 'master schedule worksheet'.  It was fun!  It was like putting together a puzzle. 

I did all the scheduling work today.  Interestingly enough, my house near about fell apart while I was doing it because we were so far out of our normal routine LOL....  They do suggest that you plan blocks of time to do all this and NOT sit down for 4 hours at the kitchen table.....  Unless, of course, that is what you planned for. 

I am not overly concerned about the implementation of the schedule.  It is VERY close to what we do now.  The biggest difference is I have tried to make sure everyone will be purposefully occupied for the majority of the day instead of turning into vegetables in front of the TV.

I have also made sure I worked in blogging time, household management time, and school planning time into my schedule.  I previously just hoped to find a second. 

So I am committed to giving this a fair shake.  I am glad it is set up to where you can move around the blocks and rearrange things with out having to retype and reprint the whole thing.  I expect we will do a bit of that before we can make the "final schedule." 

If you are interested, this can be bought from Ebay or Amazon, but you will not have access to the support forums if you do.  The best place to get it from is 

This is NOT a paid review.  I bought this book with my own money.  I have nothing to lose or gain if you buy 1 or 100 or none.  :) 



  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

Make it Fast, Save a Dollar!

Part of how we save money is by planning.  Dinner comes around every evening.  Yet, sometimes we are surprised by this.  When you regularly find yourself saying, "Oh Crap!" around 5 o clock, and everyone in your family is hovering around you like hungry baby birds, it is sometimes easier to go out and grab something.  You think, at this point, that it will be faster. 

If your family is anything like mine, it won't be that much faster.  By the time you load the kids up, and drive to the local hamburger joint, you will have taken 30 minutes.  Then you have to get out or go through the drive through.  If you go through the drive through, is everyone eating in the car?  If they are desparate, and you let them, they will! But then there will be french fries all over the back seat, and really, haven't we all found those pickles in the most interesting of spaces!

When I have to pull something out of thin air and need to get it together quick, I run to the kitchen, turn the oven on to 350, and set a pot of water on to boil.  This does two things:  It lets my family know supper is on the way, and it is there just in case I need it.  :-D 

Here is a list of ideas of quickie meals:
Taco Salad - Ground beef or canned chicken, taco seasoning, lettuce, salsa, cheese, and a can of corn, black beans, or pinto beans.  Use tortillas, taco shells, or chips if you have them.

Macaroni and Cheese - Macaroni or some other type of pasta (yay for having the water boiling already).  Put half a stick of butter or margarine in a sauce pan, once it is melted add 1/4 cup of flour.  Stir to combine.  Add a couple cups of cream or milk, stir until combined.  Add 2 cups of whatever cheese you have and some salt and pepper.  Stir until melted and thickened.  Pour over the cooked noodles in a baking dish.  Turn the oven up to 400.  Cook for 10 minutes or so and then turn on the broiler.  Let it it start to brown and it is done!  Woo Hoo!  Serve with a can of green beans, peas, or a salad.

Sandwiches, chips, and a can of fruit. 

Chili - Ground beef, couple 15 ounce cans of tomato something (sauce, diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes).  Add chili mix if you have it, cumin and chili powder if you don't, and salt and pepper.  Throw in some chili beans, brown beans, kidney beans, or black beans.  Serve with hot dogs and cheese or just serve with crackers. 

There are a few ideas of things I can put together fast.  Make up your list and then make sure you keep those pantry ingredients on hand at all times.  :)

Happy Cooking!


  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

Cabbage, Sausage, and Cornbread - Cheap, Easy, and Quick

I am tired and a bit overwhelmed.  I started a new homeschool curriculum today and it took me until 2 pm to get it all done.  Then I had to wrap up some loose ends with the planning of it and that took until 4 pm.  On top of all that, my 22 month old is very crabby.  I think she may be coming down with something.  I have yet to plan my menu out for this week and earlier today I had big plans on making Tilapia and fresh asparugus.  HAHA!  Ok so instead I decided I would make something fast.
There are several things that can be thrown together in a pinch.  Taco salad is one of them.  I can put taco salad on the table, from frozen meat to the table, in 20 to 25 minutes.  But, we had taco salad a couple nights ago.  That was out.  So I decided to do Cabbage and sausage.

Cabbage and Sausage
Core and chop a large head of cabbage.  The cabbage pieces needed to be bite sized.  Slice a pound of smoked sausage, bratwurst, or kielbasa.  Put everything into a deep skillet.  Pour in a cup of water, plenty of salt and pepper, and half a stick of butter.  Put a lid on it and turn the heat to medium high.  Stir occasionally.  If it starts to brown, add a half cup more water and turn the heat down a bit.  That means it is cooking to fast.

Turn on the oven.  If you have Jiffy Cornbread Mix, this would be the day to use it.  If you don't then here is a great cornbread recipe.  It tastes like cake.  I got it from my BFF, Kim.  (Check out her blog, Kim's Whims.) 

Kim's Cornbread
1 cup Cornmeal mix
1 cup self rising flour
4 tbsps sugar
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup  melted shortenting

Preheat oven to 400.  In an 8 x 8 baking dish or cast iron skillet, pour in melted shortening.  (I put the glob of shortening in the skillet and stick it in the oven while it is preheating.)  Mix dry ingredients together.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients.  Mix until just combined.  Do not overmix.  Pour into baking dish.  Bake until beginning to brown and knife comes out clean when inserted in to middle. 



  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

First of the Month Tips

If you are a reader at Feeding the Family for Less, I’m sure you want to provide your family the best possible food all the while saving time and money.  Saving time and money requires a little effort on your part.  Following are some tips that you should look into now.

1.  Get the coupons under control.  By this time in the month, I usually have gone through my coupon binder and removed all coupons that expired in the last month.  While I’m doing it, if there are any expiring in the next week and I know I won’t use them, I pull and toss those as well!

2.  Take a minute and consider your family’s grocery needs for the month.  A great way to start is to take an inventory of everything you have on hand.  There is a simple Pantry Inventory Form here.  If you have never used one before this is a good time to start.  If you do not know how much ground beef your family uses in a month’s time, then you won’t know how much to buy when it’s at it’s lowest price!

3. If you have a good idea of the food you have on hand, then start looking at this week’s grocery store ads.  Your coupons are up to date, you know what you already have, now you can plan a menu that incorporates this week’s sales.  With the money you save, you can take advantage of some of the low, low prices on meats and produce to stock up for future use.  Don’t make the mistake that many of us have made when starting out in couponing.  Do not go rushing into the store to grab the good deals and come home wondering what in the world you’re going to cook for supper.  Canned soup for $.10 per can is a very good deal, but not if you spent your entire grocery budget on it!

Plan now.  Put in 15 minutes as you can.  Before you know it, you’ll have a system that is manageable and works for your family!

Blog Signature

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

Town & Country Grocery Ad 3/3/10 – 3/9/10

Possible Deal:  All KELLOGG’S Cereal 50% off.  Combined with coupons, this could be a good deal.
2 Pk Whole Pork Boston Butts, $.98/lb—good deal, but remember that sometimes these go as low as $.88/lb.
Maxwell House Coffee, Original 34.5 oz. $4.99, combined with $2.00/2 coupon found on some tear pads = Great Deal on Coffee!
Strawberries 1lb. pkg 2/$3.99
Jacks Pizza 4/$10, use SS Coupon $.20 (doubles) for a GREAT DEAL!
Green Giant Whole (fresh) Mushrooms 8oz. pkg. $1.29.  This is a good price as the lowest I remember getting these is $1.50, but normally are $1.88.
Happy Shopping!
     I need to brag on T & C for a minute.  I have been looking for Spaghetti Squash for several weeks now.  I could go to Jackson and I know Kroger would have it.  Fact is, it’s just not that easy for me to run all over the place for groceries.  I decided today to ask the friendly produce man at T&C if they could get Spaghetti Squash and that I would buy at least 2 per month.  He went to the back, got his order form and told me he’d have it on Friday!  How wonderful is that?  Come to think of it, I asked them once about my particular Sugar Free variety of coffee creamer.  They have carried it ever since!  Love that!
Blog Signature

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

Homemade Laundry Detergent – An Honest Review

We have all heard about homemade laundry detergent lately.  I decided to give it a go.  I bought what I needed at  I followed the instructions pretty closely.  Here is the recipe:

Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap

4  Cups - hot tap water
1  Bar of Fels-Naptha
1 Cup Washing Soda
½ Cup Borax

Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted. Put melted soap mixture, washing soda, and borax into a 10 gallon bucket.  Add hot tap water to fill bucket.  Stir until dissolved. Let sit overnight. The mixture will turn into this clumpy gel looking stuff.  

Use 1/2 cup for top load machines and 1/4 cup for front loaders.

Now for the review:

It was a pain in the behind to grate the soap.  I did not want to spend the money on the Fels Naptha, and my baby is allergic to Ivory (another substitution), so I used a couple of bars of Johnson’s Buddies LOL.   When I was melting the soap, it tried to stick to the pot I was using.  That kinda shocked me a bit.  The ingredients were very inexpensive, less than 10 bucks for everything. I have a LOT of wasing soda and borax left over.  I did not have two 5 gallon buckets so I just made one and figured I would use half the amount in the wash.  To get the clothes clean enough for me, I ended up using 1/2 cup in my front loader.  You do need to pretreat things like ketchup, chocolate, coffee, and heavily soiled places.  Other than that, it works well!  The clothes smell clean.  I have a bedwetter in my house and those sheets came out smelling fresh and clean.  Overall, even when I think about the cost of using a stain spray and doubling the recommended amount of detergent, it is still FAR less than other detergents.  I am going to play with this a bit.  I think I am going to use a bit more washing soda in the next batch.  I am also going to use my food processor to grate the soap.

So I give it 5 stars for the savings, 3 1/2 stars for “on its own” cleaning, and 4 1/2 stars for cleaning when combined with a stain remover spray. 


  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

The Flu! The Flu!

This is what I needed to get this week. 

 Go here to get coupons for Lysol products.

My 9 YO, 5 YO, 4 YO, and disabled brother all have the flu.  It started Monday and is still going.  So far, neither my 1YO or I have gotten it.  Hopefully it will miss us.  :) 
On the brighter side, with most of the children down for the count, I have gotten a major amount of housework done!
I have been using homemade laundry detergent and am composing a post to give the recipe and a straight forward review.  Hopefully coming later today or tomorrow morning! 
We are also participating in Friday follow at Midday Escapades. Go there and link up to play!

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

Town & Country Deals 2/24/10 – 3/2/10

It’s that time of the week.  The T&C ad is online and you can view it here.

Honeysuckle Bone In Turkey Breast $.99/lb

Best Choice White Bread $.88

Strawberries 1lb 2/%5.00

Best Choice Flour 5lb $1.29

Russet Potatoes 10lb $1.88

Family Pk 10lb Fryer Leg Quarters $.59/lb (I don’t personally use these, but I’m pretty sure that is a good deal!

Star Kist Tuna 5 oz. $.79

Chicken of the Sea Tuna 5 oz. $.69

Best Choice Water 24 pk – 1/2 L Bottles $3/$10

Cabbage 3lbs/$1.00

Farmland 1lb All Varieties Pork Sausage $.99


I am a big fan of coupons.  I love them and get good great deals with them.  But I want you to look back over this week’s list.  Without the first coupon, I can see how one could with little money  stock up on some really good deals this week.  You could cook a week’s worth of suppers from just what is listed above or you could by these items while they are at their lowest price and stock pile them so that you do not have to run out and buy them at full price on down the road. 

Be smart with your grocery shopping.  It does not have to be as expensive as it is if we put a little thought into it before we go into the grocery store.

One more tip for you.  At T&C they often have a buggy or two of clearance items.  When I buy from the clearance bin and combine it with coupons, I get super great deals!  Don’t forget to check it out if you are there!

Blog Signature

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

Tips Tuesday

I recently read this statement on a blog, "I have SUCH complete respect for women with children that keep good meals on the table and their house spotless....."  Hmmmm...  I hope it was ok that I was highly amused!  I am trying to think of just one mommy that can do this.  No one is coming to mind.  To the wonderful blogger who said this; I say this to you, If you know someone like this - they are probably stuffing crap under the sofa!  I have four kids.  They are 9, 5, 4, and almost 2.  I gave up on the idea of spotless a long time ago.  It. Is. Not. Going. To. Happen. Period.  I have had to lower my standards more than I expected to have to.  But I wanted to remain sane and happy!  I also noticed the times that my house was the absolute cleanest, were the times that my children were left ignored and unattended.  I was constantly up on my feet, moving about, picking up every little piece of lint I saw.  I was continually after the kids to pick up whatever item they dropped.  I was exhausted.  So, spotless was just not going to happen if I wanted a happy life.  Before anyone gets their panties in a twist, if you can do this and be happy, then fine.  I am not talking to you anyway and we are probably not close friends.  ;-)

So, I keep a modestly clean house.   I try to follow Flylady.  (My bossy, opinionated self wants to tell her to shut up, but I resist and dutifully put on my lace up shoes every morning.)  I have chore charts and the kids do a pretty swell job of doing what I ask.  As long as I am not expecting them to make a wrinkle free bed and to not miss a spot with the vacuum, it is clean enough.  Is there dust on my mantle?  Sure, it is under all of my husbands stuff he has piled there.  :) There is also fingerprints from curious hands and nose prints from curious faces on the windows and doors.  There are books in front of the overflowing bookshelves that were happily looked at.  There are a few stray puzzle pieces in front of the puzzle basket that were missed when my 22 month put them away.  One of the kitchen chairs is pulled up to the sink where the baby tried to help wash the dishes last night.

I spoke with Kim, from The Whims Of Kim, last night.  I complained that I worked REALLY hard on the house yesterday morning and it was messy again when we went to bed.  But, this morning I woke up with a different opinion.  We worked hard, played hard, and had time for lots of hugs and kisses.  It was a great day, even with a sick child.  We took time to learn that 7 wants to be a 10 in our math lesson.  We learned that the world was a different place in the book, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.  But mostly we learned about hard work, and not taking things for granted.

So my "tip' for you on this Tips For Tuesday - Keep it safe, keep it basically clean but, don't sweat about the dust.  If all the puzzle pieces don't get put away before bed, or the books lay on the floor in front of the bookcase, it is ok.  There is no long term or eternal consequence.  There will be lots of time to clean the house when the kids are bigger.  The rewards from time spent with the children far outweigh the satisfaction that comes with lack of dust. 

Here is the sweet blog post I referred to earlier.  Go link up if you have housekeeping tips!


  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

My Menu for the Week

  Breakfast Lunch Supper Snack
Monday Cereal Homemade Pepperoni Pizza, Applesauce Vegetable Beef Soup, Cornbread Yogurt
Tuesday Cinnamon Rolls Ramen Noodle Chicken Soup Italian Beef, Salad, Macaroni & Cheese Popcorn
Wednesday Cereal Fish Sticks, French Fries, Peach Slices Spaghetti and Meatballs, Salad, Garlic Bread Bananas
Thursday Sausage & Cheese Omelets Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches, Applesauce, Chips Chicken Taco Soup,  Crackers Cubed Cheese, Crackers
Friday Cereal Ham & Cheese Slices, Crackers, Broccoli & Ranch, Juice Pork Chops, Broccoli & Cheese Noodles, Green Beans Carrots & Ranch
Saturday Pancakes Hoagie Sandwiches, Chips, Apple Slices Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes, Peas Canned Pears
Sunday Cereal Out for Lunch! Cabbage and Smoked Sausage, Cornbread Pretzels & Dip

I am linking up with Menu Plan Monday!


  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

Chimichurri Sauce

Chimichurri sauce is a spectacular condiment for steaks, chicken, pork, tacos, and just about everything else.  I love it.  I could not find a version that suited me.  So I created my own. 

1/2 cup very finely chopped cilantro
1 clove of minced garlic
4 T olive oil
2 T lime juice
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together.  Let sit for at least an hour.  Enjoy!
You can also do 1/4 cup cilantro and 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley. 


  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

Search This Blog