Thursday, September 29, 2011

Emily’s Homecoming..

Well Emily was up for 30+ hours and slept for 10 hours and got up this morning and we had coffee. After that she was ready to roll.. gotta love that girl! LOL… So I got a hold of the rest of the sisters and we had a meet up at our favorite Starbucks. It was so much fun! The grand kids were there too.. Lots of good memories made..

My Girls..

Me and my girls (and a couple grandkids! :)..

Me and Rylee.. she is almost 5 months old now!! Time flies!

Surprise, Surprise!!

Yesterday I got the shock of my life! I was in the kitchen working on dinner preps when my daughter Leanne pulled up in her car and the next thing I knew she was in the house with a big “SURPRISE MOM” and who did she have with her but my daughter Emily!!! :)

Emily was going be home in November but her host family was moving to Bangladesh due to a job transfer and no longer needed an au pair. So Emily decided it was time to come home. She did not tell anyone she was coming home because she wanted to surprise us all!! And boy did she! I was in shock! But oh so happy to have my daughter home!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Canning Spaghetti Sauce

More spaghetti sauce was on my to-do list this last week. I had enough tomatoes to make another batch of sauce. My canning shelf is filling up and it is a great feeling. A productive garden is a blessing!

I have 22 quarts canned so far and am hoping to have enough tomatoes for one more batch before the season is over…

Here is my recipe:

Spaghetti Sauce
(for canning)

20lbs tomatoes
3 medium onions, chopped
2 green peppers, chopped
2 cups chopped mushrooms
2T minced garlic
6T salt
3T Italian seasonings
1T oregano
1 cup red wine vinegar
½ cup lemon juice
½ cup white sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
3 – 12oz cans tomato paste

Wash & chop tomatoes in a food processor (peeling is optional). Put in large pot (I use a 14qt pot). Add remaining ingredients, except tomato paste. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 to 2 hours. Add tomato paste and mix in well. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for another 45 minutes.

Put hot spaghetti sauce into hot quart jars. Process in a boiling water bath for 40 minutes.

Makes approx 10 to 11 quarts

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

We Now Officially Have a Winner!!

Congratulations to Julie Gonzales!!

Thank you to everyone who entered!!  

If you’d still like a chance to get some free Basic H2 please check out Cathie’s Blog:    She will be giving away 5 samples to the ones who respond first!! 

If you are looking for some really great home cleaning products I urge you give Shaklee cleaning products a try.  I have been so pleased with them!! 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Blog Giveaway Update!!

I have not forgotten about the blog giveaway!  I emailed the winner (twice) and have not heard back yet..    Here is the comment left from the winner:

Anonymous said...
    Posted on FB, and sent to some friends. A co-worker of mine just had a party with these products. My e-mail is pastorleegonzales@*****.****

If this is you..  please email me ( .. asap..

If I don’t hear from this person very soon, I will pick another name out of the hat!  :)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Blog Giveaway!!!!

This Blog Giveaway is now officially closed!!  I will announce a winner tomorrow!!  :)

It’s time for another blog giveaway!! My friend Cathie ( )  asked if she could host another giveaway of her awesome Shaklee cleaning supplies! She is giving away another very generous Shaklee Basic H2 Cleaning Kit for your home.

I’m really excited for another lucky winner to get to try these cleaners! I can’t tell you how much I love the Shaklee cleaners! I don’t share about or promote things I don’t use or believe in. Last April Cathie gave me a 16oz bottle of Basic H2 super concentrated cleaner to try out. I’ve used it constantly since then. I’ve made countless bottles of the “basic cleaner”, “window cleaner” and “degreaser”. I have also used it for cleaning my floors. And about 5 months later I still have about 2/3rds of my bottle left. Because I have been so pleased with it I have even bought bottles of it for a few family members to try.

I encourage you to check out Cathie’s site and see all the great products that Shaklee sells for cleaning your home. The nicest part about the cleaner is that it is an organic cleaner without added chemicals. It is nontoxic, no fumes, hypoallergenic, and more.. You can see more about the cleaners here: 

Now for the details of this giveaway ..

The winner will receive the following items from Cathie:

1. 16oz bottle of Basic H2 Organic Super Cleaning Concentrate
2. 3 spray bottles to mix up cleaning solutions (and they are marked for you too.. “window cleaner”, “all purpose cleaner”, and “degreaser” and instructions to make the cleaners)
3. A super nice cloth shopping bag
4. A microfiber window cleaning cloth (personally, I love this cloth! :)
5. And.. a catalog of Shaklee products

Here’s how the giveaway works…

Post on your blog or Facebook page about this giveaway and give a link back to my blog and then post back here in the comments section with your name and link to your blog or some way to get a hold of you and let me know you have done this.

I will close this giveaway on Saturday September 22nd and pick a winner (I’ll draw your name out of a hat :) and I will contact you and let you know.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Proverbs 31:13

She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands.

According to the dictionary the work “seek” means: To try to locate or discover; search for.

Wool and flax were used for clothing. It had to be spun, weaved into fabric and then sewn into clothing. Talk about a lot of work!

So does this verse mean we all need to be sewing clothing for our family to be a Proverbs 31 woman? In my personal opinion, no it does not. Some are incredibly talented in sewing. Some do sew their own clothing. And some seek and find their families clothing at department stores, thrift stores, garage sales, etc.

I go back to one main thought for this Bible chapter. Proverbs is a book of wisdom. I really don’t think Proverbs 31 is a checklist of skills to learn. If you’ve never sewn a stitch in your life it does not mean you are not a true Proverbs 31 woman :) .

The second half of this verse is where I see the wisdom, “and willingly works with her hands”. Willingly is the key. The definition of willingly is: Acting or ready to act gladly; eagerly compliant. The wisdom here is that when we endeavor on any task as a homemaker (no matter how large as just making clothing was a very large task), we need to do it gladly and even eagerly.

Willingly is also an act of the will. Monica is a very nice lady who leaves comments on my blog. She left a comment on my last post on Proverbs that was from her grandmother. When asked how her grandmother did so much she replied, "You just have to want to more than not want to". I loved that quote!

Remember homemaking is not some laborious tedious task to drag us down in life. It is a calling, a profession, a vocation which we are particularly suited for (how do I know this? Because God gave us a husband and family!). He also gave us wisdom in his Word on how to carry out our daily life. 

With these thoughts on my mind this morning I am getting ready to tackle my day. My to do list is written out, my goals for the day are planned and it is time to willingly jump into my day! :)


Monday, September 19, 2011

Updates from the Homestead

Another pause in blogging.. this time it has been spaghetti sauce and homeschooling. Life just seems busy right now. My tomatoes are coming on in force (not as great as last year, but I’m thankful for what I have gotten). I canned 10 quarts of spaghetti sauce on Saturday and hope to get enough to can up another batch in the next day or two.

We finished our first week of homeschooling and it went well. Started week 2 and it is off to a great start.

We had a rainy cool weekend. I even started a fire to take the chill off the house. First one in a few months. I thought for sure the summer was over. But today the sun came out again and the forecast is for the high 70’s and low 80’s this week.. Yea! Summer is not over yet. I’m still waiting for my corn to ripen so the more sunny warm days the better.

I also harvested my beets this last week. Made 15 pints of pickled beets! My canning shelves are filling up and that is a great feeling. When my kids and I were at the garden picking beets I took a few pics.

My beet harvest (filled a wheel barrow.. I kept some of the greens and froze them for making veggie stock later on, the rest went to the goats.. )

More pics…

That is all for now from the homestead.. more to come, including another blog giveaway.. so stay tuned.. :D

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Canning Salsa and Starting our School Year

My pause in blogging has been due to being very busy in the last few days! My tomatoes are starting to ripen up thanks to a beautiful stretch of hot sunny days. I’ve gotten about 45 to 50 jars of salsa made. I have another big bowl full of tomatoes and am hoping to get some more over the next few days and have enough for spaghetti sauce. I also canned up another batch of zucchini bread and butter pickles. Here is a pic of some of my salsa and the pickles..

You can find my salsa recipe here: 

On Monday I was trying to decide if we should start the school year or wait another week. So I asked Sierra and Isaac (my only two students this year :) if they wanted another week off or if they wanted to start. To my surprise they were both ready to jump in and start the year. And that is what we did. This year begins my 24th year of homeschooling.. hard to believe it has been that many years. 

For Isaac (8th grade) this year I decided to give Switched on Schoolhouse a try. I tried it several years ago and liked it a little but there were things about the program I did not like. I researched it this summer and found that they have made a ton of changes to the curriculum and addressed a lot of the issues that I did not like (apparently others did not like it either).. we are only a few days into the program but so far I like what I see. I am using it for English, science and history. Math for Isaac is still Saxon.

Sierra is in 10th grade. I am using SOS only for World History. I have another science curriculum I’m trying with her ( ) and she is doing American Literature (my own program) , Saxon Algebra 2, Art (she takes a weekly art class in town), and PE is running. She and a friend have started running together each morning. When the weather turns bad we will see where to go from there.

Today I do believe the plan is to pick all my beets in the garden and can up pickled beets. I’ll let you know how that goes!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Proverbs 31:17

She girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms. 

Homemaking is an interesting thing. Because we, as housewives, are basically our own boss we set the level of household functioning wherever we want it to be. There are all kinds of books written on what personality types we are when it comes to home management. Everything from neat and orderly Martha Stewart types to the messy and totally unorganized. Some of that type of thing is not bad. I guess if I determine what type of housekeeper I am, I know the challenges in front of me better. But I don’t think this should be used as excuse not to always focus on a clean and orderly house. The biggest challenge I have had to fight over the last 27+ years is just plain laziness.


Homemaking requires tenacity. To "gird" is to tighten the belt up on the robe, or better put in today’s terms is to roll up our sleeves and get it done. Homemaking is hard work and our wise example from the Proverbs 31 woman is that her days were filled with productively working to manage and care for her home. And this requires strength. It requires physical strength but it also requires inner strength which comes from God (Psalm 18:1 I will love you O Lord, my Strength). It is not always easy to rise up and do the same jobs over and over each day. We can accomplish this by looking at the goal the Lord has set in front of us, our home and family and all the responsibility that goes into managing and caring for it well. In return the Lord gives us that inner strength to tackle the day. Psalm 18:39 says.. For You have armed me with strength for the battle.. and while housekeeping is not a battle field, sometimes the mind and will do it is certainly a battle! And always the end result of hard work is physical strength.

These are the thoughts on my mind this morning as I am thinking about our upcoming new school year and getting back into more regular daily routines. I need to work on some organizing and cleaning. It is time for me to start focusing on fall and schedules and cleaning up from summer.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Happy Birthday Lolot and Leanne!!!


Two birthdays in one weeks time!!

My so very sweet daughter in law, Doneza (nickname is Lolot) celebrated her birthday last Tuesday. The family got together at my son’s house to celebrate. It was a lot of fun.. Lolot has made some huge changes in her life. She left family and friends and all that she knew and was familiar with in the Philippines to come to this country and marry my son. She has done a great job adjusting to life here. I know she misses her family but she has blended in with our family so well that I pray this helps some of the homesickness she feels. She and my son, Richard, are planning a trip back to the Philippines soon so they can visit her family. For now, she is working full time and loves her job and the fact that she is helping my son get through his last two years of college.

And.. Today is my daughter Leanne’s birthday! Where do all the years go? Leanne is my fifth child (4th daughter) and is turning 20 today. I always like to think back and reflect on the day my kids were born on their birthdays… Leanne’s birth was by far my fastest birth. I woke up at 6:am to the first contraction and she was born at 8:30am.. Midwife made it to my house 6 minutes before she was born!

She has been the sweetest daughter. She has always been loving and kind.. She is trustworthy, loves the Lord, and has a heart for helping people. I am so proud of my daughter!! As of right now she is 12 credits away from earning her bachelor’s degree in English. She is currently taking the last 4 classes so she should have her degree by the end of this year. She is itching to get on with life! She would like to do some teaching and eventually when she marries she wants to work with her local homeschooling community as a tutor. Aside from these plans, her biggest passion in life is ballroom dancing. She has been taking lessons for a couple of years now and is super good at it. Someday she would also like to be a dance instructor, just for the fun of it. For now she enjoys her lessons and dance parties and time with lots of good friends she has met in the process.

Leanne Dancing…

Leanne has an adventurous side.. This is her bungee jumping… (I could handle this.. she says she wants to sky dive.. that one I can NOT handle.. LOL.. )

4th of July (with Jacob and my grandson Caden)

Leanne with her sister Emily and friend Rona when she was in Copenhagen visiting Emily

Happy birthday to two beautiful wonderful women!! So thankful to have you both in my life!! 

Monday, September 5, 2011

September Menu

This month’s menu may be subject to change as I have some meal ideas floating around in my head, but have not taken the time to put it down on paper.   But for now this is what I have planned.  You can find a menu planning calendar for September here:

1st – leftovers
2nd – spaghetti, garlic toast, salad
3rd – chicken rice stir fry, salad
4th –  bbq ham & cornbread casserole, dinner rolls, salad
5th – chili dogs topped w/onions & cheese, watermelon & cantaloupe, salad
6th – pizza – Leanne’s birthday!
7th – hamburgers w/ trimmings, watermelon, potato salad
8th chicken cacciatore, dinner rolls, salad
9th salmon patties, sautéed zucchini, garlic roasted potatoes, salad
10th meatloaf, brown rice Florentine, salad
11th – leftovers
12th –  delicious Italian casserole, salad
13th – tacos w/all the trimmings, fresh fruit
14th – Chinese rice w/chicken, egg rolls
15th – leftovers
16th – oven baked chicken, Laurie’s Mac & Cheese, salad
17th – lasagna, French bread, salad
18thpotato sausage chowder, salad, fresh fruit
19th -  leftovers
20th delicious Italian casserole, salad, fresh fruit
21st – sub sandwiches, fresh fruit
22nd jambalaya, salad, fresh fruit
23rd – leftovers
24thcrockpot meatballs, crockpot mac & cheese, salad
25th – taco pie, salad
26thranch house chicken casserole, biscuits, salad
27th – leftovers
28th – beef & bean enchiladas, tortilla chips & salsa, salad
29th – sautéed chicken & rice w/sauerkraut, salad
30th – crockpot pot roast & potatoes, peas & carrots, salad

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Bread & Butter Zucchini Pickles

May tomatoes may not be doing so great this year but my zucchini and yellow summer squash are forcing me to work hard to keep up with them! LOL!! I had another bowl full of squash staring at me so I took the smaller sized ones and made bread & butter pickles and the larger ones I cut them into chunks and filled 2 more gallon size bags for the freezer (to use in veggie broth). As of now, until I pick more, I am on top of my zucchini game! :)

Here is the recipe (oh and there was a few left that did not fill a jar so we all taste tested those.. tastes like regular bread & butter pickles.. )

Bread & Butter Zucchini Pickles

16 cups sliced zucchini (I used both zucchini and yellow squash)
4 cups thinly sliced onions
½ cup non iodized salt (I used sea salt)
6 cups white vinegar
3 cups sugar
6T mustard seed
3T celery seed
3t turmeric

Put zucchini and onions and salt in a large pan. Cover with water and let sit for 2 hours. Drain thoroughly and rinse. Combine vinegar, sugar and spices. Bring to a boil and add zucchini/onions and simmer for 5 minutes. Fill pint jars and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Approx. 7 pints.


Friday, September 2, 2011

Zucchini Pineapple for Canning

I’m still working to use my zucchini up! One thing I have been doing is cutting the zucchini up in large chunks and putting them in zip lock gallon size bags. I plan to use this for making vegetable stock later in the year. I typically use 3 gallon size bags of frozen veggies when I make stock and I will use one bag of frozen zucchini each time I make it. You can find my recipe for veggie stock here: 

Yesterday I made up and canned zucchini pineapple. I had an abundance of yellow squash so I used that in the recipe. I found similar recipes online and I tweaked this to utilize what I had on hand. Zucchini pineapple can be used in place of crushed pineapple. I also plan to mix it equal parts with bbq sauce to go over meatballs, meatloaf or chicken. It can also be mixed into fruit salads. Lots of possibilities!

Zucchini Pineapple

8 quarts grated zucchini
1 #10 can pineapple chunks in juice
6 cups sugar
3 cups lemon juice

Combine all ingredients (do not drain pineapple).. heat to a boiling, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Ladle hot mixture into hot pint jars and can in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Use in place of recipes that call for crushed pineapple..