Monday, October 29, 2012

This Week’s Menu

This week’s menu is short.  On Friday my family and I will be heading to California for my daughter Emily’s wedding and will not be back until Sunday. 

Asian chicken, rice, salad (Leanne’s is cooking this night)

Sautéed sausages w/onion & mushrooms, baked potatoes, salad

Taco’s w/all the trimmings, chips & salsa

Spaghetti, french bread, salad

Friday to Sunday
Out of town..   :)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Becoming an Empty Nest

A while back a nice lady sent me an email asking me to write a a blog post on how I handled the difficulties of watching my children leave home and my thoughts on the empty nest topic.  At this point I’m not an empty nest yet, but I see it quickly approaching. After raising 8 children the thoughts of soon being down to the last 2 at home makes the empty nest much more of a reality. In this post I’m sharing my thoughts on this subject.

I was 18 when I had my first child and 33 (almost 34) when I had my 8th and last child. I have loved having a big family. I’ve spent my life devoted to raising them, caring for them and educating them. In the years that all of them were at home the thoughts of them someday growing up, beginning their own lives and moving away from home, honestly never occurred to me. I felt like the life I was living would go on forever; which was ok with me. I enjoyed it. Then my oldest son moved out. He had a job in the city and was going to college full time and he moved in with his grandfather to be closer to work and school. I cried myself to sleep that first night that he left. Then the reality hit me. Someday this will come to an end. All the children will grow up, move out and move on. It was a sad sobering thought to me.

Another reality hit me soon after this. As I was thinking, contemplating and praying about my son leaving home and in the years to follow the rest of my children leaving home, I realized something more important. This is exactly what I am raising them for. I am raising them to become their own people. Not my emotional crutch. Not my emotional stability. Not my emotional fulfillment. I am raising them to become independent, capable, God fearing, Jesus loving, people that can care for themselves, their families and step out in this world as prepared as much as I am able to prepare them.

One by one my children have begun to move out and move on with their own lives. It is always a little sad for me when they move on. But, I’m not sad for long knowing that they are stepping out in this world and fulfilling their own desires and purpose. I soon look at them and feel blessed to see adults that are productive, happy, achieving their goals and God given purpose in life.

This year I started out with 5 children still at home. Emily had come home after her year in Denmark working as an au pair and Jacob had lived with Hannah and her family for a short time while he was working full time in the city and not wanting the very long commute that living at home would have been. But the job ended for him and he moved back home. My house was full again. Then Emily got a job that was an hour and half away and moved closer to her work, Jacob began community college and working 4 to 5 nights a week and once again moved in with Hannah & her family to save on commute time and gas. Now Leanne will be leaving in less than a month for South Korea. As it stands at this point I will be down to my last 2 children living at home.

I have to admit that after 30 years of mothering/parenting I’m actually a little excited about what life with a small family looks and feels like and the prospect of being an empty nest in a few short years. You see, long ago I realized that I am my own person and not completely defined by my children but defined by many things. I think the empty nest issues result when we feel like we are only defined by our children and our role in raising them. Part of who I am is a mother and one who has dedicated her life to them, but there is so much more to see and experience. There are things I’ve wanted to do but not had the time to do, volunteer work I would love to do but not have had the time, home business ideas I would like to explore but have had no time, writing I’ve wanted to do but not had the time. You see the “me” that I know is proud to be a mom but also knows there is more to me as well. 

That is not to say I am in any hurry to see my children leave. Not at all, I am excited to spend one on one time with the youngest children. Sometimes in a big family the last are the ones that receive the least attention because as the older ones grow they seem to require so much to help them launch and begin their own lives. Now I have the time to invest more into them and this excites me. But I know that the same I’ve seen with the others will happen with them… they will move out and move on. And that is the way it should be!

Another part of who I am is a wife. During 30 years of raising children it’s easy to forget that my husband and I were a couple before we had children. We look forward to the years of freedom to be “us” again. I’ve seen many couples let their marriage take a back seat to raising a family. My husband and I have made a point over the years to nurture our relationship. We knew it was important to care for and invest in. We did not want to wake up after 35 years of raising children and look at each other and have no idea who “we” were any more. Part of becoming and empty nest for us has meant more time spent together and more time invested in our relationship and that has been such a sweet reward.

Life seems to be about seasons. There is a season for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven). There is a season to meet and marry the man you love, a season to have a family, a season to raise them and a season to let them go… and a season to embrace and enjoy what God has still for you to do. We all want purpose in life. And certainly having children and raising a family is an incredible purpose. As that season begins to change then it is good to know that the Lord has another purpose for us. Another season for us to walk into. Just like the seasons of the year we walk from summer into fall and it is different, but it is still full of beauty, joy and excitement if we allow the Lord to guide the way.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Enchiladas Using Home Canned Foods

I made enchiladas for dinner tonight. I used my home canned beef (that I shared in my last blog post). I also used some leftover brown rice pilaf from dinner a couple of days ago. I made the enchilada sauce using a quart of my home canned tomato puree. Here is what was needed to make the enchiladas…

I usually make enchilada sauce according to this recipe:  But for these enchiladas I used 1 quart of my tomato puree. I put the puree in the blender and added the cornstarch and spices according to the recipe. I heated it on the stove and let it simmer for a few minutes…

To make the enchilada filling I opened a pint jar of roast beef and broke it up to shred it a bit. I added 2 cups of leftover brown rice pilaf and mixed it together.

I quickly fried up a dozen tortillas in coconut oil just until soft. I then put a large scoop of the tortilla filling in the center of a tortilla and topped it with a bit of cheddar cheese….

I folded it over and put it in a 9x13 pan (that had been sprayed with non-stick spray)….

I did this for the rest of the tortillas…

When this was done I poured the enchilada sauce over the tortillas and topped with a little more cheese…

This was baked at 350 for 30 to 35 minutes. I served the enchiladas with a salad along with chips and homemade, home canned salsa…

It was delish!!

Monday, October 22, 2012

This Week’s Menu

Hot dogs, tomato soup, salad

Enchiladas, chips & salsa, salad



Clam chowder, crackers, salad

Lasagna, french bread, salad


Friday, October 19, 2012

Canning Beef

Now that I’m done canning my garden harvest my goal is to stock my shelves with more home canned convenience foods. Today I canned beef. Canned beef can be used for so many things. I will use it in soups, stew, enchiladas, casseroles .. the list is long.

I purchased 15 pounds of beef and cut it all into bite size chunks….

I canned the beef in pint size jars. A pint will hold about 1 pound of meat or a tad more if packed tightly. I put a ½ teaspoon of salt into the bottom of each pint jar and filled the jars with the meat. I packed them in the jar tightly. I did not add any liquid. The meat will create its own liquid as it cooks in the pressure canner.

After the jars were filled I wiped the rim with a clean cloth and put a lid and ring on. I put them in the canner…

I canned the beef for 90 minutes at 11 pounds of pressure (this pressure is according to my altitude. You can find out the correct pressure for your altitude here: ). I ended up with 14 pints of beef that is completely cooked (the meat will be tender and falling apart) ready to be used at a moments notice…

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Garlic Tea for Sniffles & Colds

We have had a cold trying to take hold here at our home. I had a lot garlic in the fridge and decided to make garlic tea to tackle the sniffles, stuffy noses and cold symptoms. Garlic is amazing for fighting colds and flu symptoms. Garlic has incredibly health promoting qualities. It is said to be an effective antibiotic and natural virus killer as well as an immune enhancer, anti-fungal, and so much more.

So how do you take garlic for medicinal purposes? Adding it to your food, lots of garlic to your meals is great. But when the cold season strikes you need a way to get more potent amounts into your body. Garlic tea has been the answer lately.

Garlic tea is very effective. My son Isaac had a stuffy head, runny nose and was just not feeling to good the other morning. So I made him a cup of garlic tea and shortly after drinking it all down he was feeling better, stuffy head and runny nose were pretty much gone and he was much more alert and was back to concentrating on his school work. He had another cup in the evening and another the next morning and was on the mend after this.
I saw the same results after taking it myself and one of my daughters as well.

So how do you make garlic tea? Very easily!!

Begin by chopping up 3 to 5 cloves of garlic…

Put them in them a mug…

Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice…

And 1 tablespoon honey..


Fill the mug with boiling water…

Stir and wait until it is cool enough to drink and drink it all (you can toss the garlic when you get to the bottom of the cup)


Monday, October 15, 2012

This Week’s Menu

Hamburger bean soup made with my freezer stash.  (I have a quart bag of cooked hamburger & beans, a quart bag of beef stock, a quart bag of cabbage that will go into the soup along with onions and garlic and a few other misc veggies I have in the fridge that need to be used up), french bread and a salad


Chili, chips & salsa, salad

Spaghetti , french bread, salad

Mexican chicken, brown rice pilaf, roasted brussel sprouts


Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, salad

Friday, October 12, 2012

Tomato Sauce/Puree for Canning

This is my last post for the season on tomato canning. I have enough tomatoes left to eat and use in a few meals. I am not tired of canning but sure am tired of tomatoes! But oh so thankful for such a bountiful harvest this year.

I made over 60 quarts of tomato sauce/puree. Here is how I made it…

For each batch I used about 45 pounds of tomatoes. I pureed them in my food processor. I did not peel them, but you could if you wanted. After I pureed them I put them in my large roaster oven (you could also use a large stock pot, but I find the roaster oven to be easy and convenient)….

I let them boil and cook until they had cooked down a bit. Actually all 45 pounds did not fit in the pan to begin with. I filled the pan as much as I could and let it cook down until I could add the remaining tomatoes, then let them cook down until the sauce/puree was not so watery. This took several hours.

When it was all cooked down it was time to start canning. To each quart jar I added 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon citric acid to bring up the acidity level so I could water bath can them. Citric acid can be found online and often in the canning section of stores that sell canning supplies. If you would rather you could add 1 tablespoon vinegar or 2 tablespoons lemon juice to each jar. I like using the citric acid because it does not affect the flavor of the tomatoes as much as vinegar and lemon juice do.

Then I filled the jars with tomato sauce/puree and put a new lid on and ring and put them in a boiling water bath. I canned them for 40 minutes. Here is my last batch…

I ended up with anywhere from 15 to 17 quarts of sauce/puree per batch. The amount varies depending on how much you let it cook down.

That ends the canning from this year's garden. My next canning projects will soups, stew, and meat.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Updates from the Homestead

What a busy time it has been lately on my homestead and so many things to share. This will be a long post!! :)

Garden & Canning
We cleaned up the garden as I mentioned in a previous post. However the tomatoes are still coming on. They are almost done and as soon as we have our first frost they will officially be done and I can’t say I will be sorry! I have had a huge bumper crop this year. I am pretty sure I’m up to around 300 lbs picked. Here is what I’ve made so far..

45 quarts spaghetti sauce
62 pints and 14 quarts salsa
45 quarts of tomato sauce/puree (with another 15 quarts to can today)

Plus I’ve given many pounds away and we’ve eaten lots of them!

Here is two batches of tomato sauce/puree I made last week…

When we cleaned up the garden I also picked all of my corn. I did not plant as much this year as I have in years past. I still have some corn (on and off the cob) in the freezer. This year I decided to can what I had. I ended up with 28 pints of canned corn….

Last week I decided it was time for a field trip. Even though it we were only into our 2nd week of homeschooling I felt it would be fun. The weather here has been dry, warm and amazing. I knew soon the rains would come and it would be too late for any outdoor type field trips. I asked my kids where they wanted to go and they said Multnomah Falls and Vista House. These are both right here in the Columbia River Gorge… right in our own neighborhood, so to speak. These attractions are on the Oregon side of the Gorge. I live on the Washington side. The thing about living in an area that has these types of attractions is you just don’t seem to take the time out of daily life and go look. Of course having lived here all my life I’ve been to both places numerous times, but many years ago. So we (Tobin went along too as it was his day off) packed up the kids and one grandson and headed to the falls. It was windy and cool.. but beautiful! We hiked a bit up the trail and Sierra was in photography heaven! LOL..

We tried to get to the Vista House but wouldn’t you know it… about 3 days before it had closed for the season. Vista House is a big round building that has information about the Gorge and it is an awesome lookout point as well as it sits way up above the Gorge. We found another park not far from Vista House that gave us some nice views as well.

Here is the Vista House from where we were…

And the view (I live on the left side - the Washington side - down the river a bit ;)…

And Sierra enjoying the photo ops…

Leanne Update
I previously have shared that after my daughter Leanne received her degree she then spent the summer going through a program to be certified to teach English as a foreign language and volunteering her time at the community college in town as a teacher/tutor for the ESL program. She received her certification and began looking for work in South Korea. As of a few days ago she signed a one year contract for a position in a private school in Seoul. We are so excited for her!! Currently life seems to be filled with excitement, paperwork to send in, packing lists and the zillion other things that keep coming up. It is not easy to figure out what you need to consider when you will be gone for a whole year! I have some experience with Emily when she was gone for a year to Denmark working as an au pair. But one thing I know is that I will certainly miss her! On the other hand it is so exciting to see your children work hard to achieve a goal and finally make it happen in their lives. All I can say is thank goodness for SKYPE!!! That was my lifeline to Emily and I know it will be to her as well.

Grandchildren Birthdays
Wow.. I tell you the years just fly by! You see it in your own children as they grow but I really see it even more when I see my grandchildren growing! My granddaughter Elizabeth (Hannah’s daughter) turned 4….

And my oldest grandchild Caden turned 6 in the same week. Caden will always be a memorable birth for me. I had the honor and privilege of delivering my grandson with the help of my most loved and amazing friend Sarah. My daughter Carolyn had an unassisted homebirth and the two of us (Sarah and me) flew down to San Jose (where she was living at the time) to deliver this little guy. Hard to believe it has been 6 years already…

That is all from the homestead for now! This post was plenty long enough.. as I said, lots to share lately!

This Week’s Menu


Chili, chips & salsa, salad

Cajun chicken, macaroni & cheese,  garlic roasted broccoli (never did make this last week…  so trying again!)

Pineapple pork roast, brown rice pilaf, black beans, salad


Chicken soup, crackers, salad



Thursday, October 4, 2012

Garden Clean Up

Sadly my garden season is pretty much done. I'm such a summer loving gal that it always makes me sad when the season is done.  I left my tomato plants because they are still producing and I left my flowers because they are pretty and I still wanted to look down on my garden and see them :) .

We pulled everything else out and picked the last of the veggies. We had a nice amount of corn. Not as much as years before because I did not plant as many. I still have corn in the freezer from last year. I plan to can up whatever I get from this harvest…

Then I picked the tomatoes, a few squash and one pumpkin I had not yet picked…

At this point the garden looked like this….

Then Tobin & Isaac spread wood ash (from burning wood for heat through the winter). Wood ash is good for the garden. Helps to balance acidity in soil (which is good, due to our abundant rains we have acidic soil), plus adds phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. Then they spread wood shavings (from cutting and chopping our winter wood) all over the garden. After we pull out the tomatoes all this will get rototilled in. The garden is looking much more under control and preparations for next year’s garden are under way!