Monday, March 31, 2014

Menu Monday!


Fish sticks, mac & cheese, salad

Spaghetti, french bread, salad

Crockpot chicken chili, chips & salsa, veggie platter


Tuna noodle casserole (no cream soup), veggie platter

Marinated chicken, brown rice pilaf, broccoli

Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, salad

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Meal Planning Simplicity

This episode of “Meal Planning Simplicity” is about how I dealt with the meat I purchased on my recent shopping trip. My daughter Leanne and I spent 1 hour in the kitchen and got 5 meals in the freezer.

Here is what I purchased:

6#’s hamburger
6#’s boneless, skinless chicken thighs
4 ½ #’s pork riblets

This is what we made:

From the hamburger:
3#’s were made into meatloaf
3#’s were cooked and frozen for a meal

From the chicken:
3#’s + 1# were put in ziplock bags with a delish marinade sauce (recipe link coming). The 1# bag was made for my daughter Emily. She is in the midst of tax season and working 14+ hour days so I’ve been making her a few meals for her freezer to make her life a little easier.
2#’s were made into a chicken chili freezer meal

From the pork riblets:
All of them were put in a Korean marinade

Here is how my shopping day went… I started the morning by putting a pork roast in the crockpot. I went shopping and came home and unloaded it all. Then I put on a pot of beans to cook (for the chicken chili). I used 3 cups of black beans and 3 cups of pintos. However, you can use whatever type of beans you would like. I then cut up a big bunch of red potatoes and mixed them with some salt, pepper, and olive oil. I put them in the oven to roast (for that nights dinner). I then cut up broccoli, cauliflower, and carrot sticks for a veggie platter. I served dinner, cleaned up, got my hubby out the door to work and then got busy with the meals.

Leanne started by making the marinated chicken. This is the recipe she used: She has made this many times and it is wonderful! We love it and it is easy to make and easy to cook up. She bagged the chicken and poured the marinated ingredients right into the bag. Labeled and sealed…

Then she made the Korean marinade. I’ve share this recipe before and it is amazing. You can find this marinade here:  You can use the riblets, pork chops or steaks. I’ve used this marinade on chicken and beef as well.

While Leanne was busy doing that I took half the hamburger and made meatloaf. I divided it into 2 pans and wrapped them in foil for the freezer…

Then I cooked the rest of the hamburger for a meal coming up this week. I bagged it and labeled it for the freezer.

Finally I took the last 2#’s of meat to make chicken chili. By the time we got started on the meals the beans were done cooking. I drained the beans and reserved 1 cup of the bean broth for the chili. I had more beans than I needed. I usually cook more than needed so I can freeze some for another day.

Here is a pic of the ingredients needed for the chili and the recipe follows…

Crockpot Chicken Chili (freezer recipe)
1 can of olives, sliced
1 can diced tomatoes
1 cup salsa
2 cups frozen corn
2 #’s chicken
6 cups cooked beans + 1 cup reserved bean broth
8oz cream cheese
1T chili powder
2t cumin

Layer all ingredients in a one gallon zip lock bag. Label & seal bag for the freezer. On serving day put contents of bag in crockpot and cook on low for 8 hours. Taste and salt if needed, according to your own taste.

At the end of our kitchen time we had spent 1 hour start to finish, dishes washed and kitchen completely cleaned up and had 5 meals (not including the extra meal for my daughter or the extra bag of beans) in the freezer. This will make next week go amazingly smooth.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Few Thoughts on Social Media


I just spent a 3 day mini vacation at the Oregon Coast. My hubby took me to celebrate my 50th birthday. We had a wonderful time. I came home and my oldest son was here visiting and jokingly said to me, “What mom? No FaceBook status updates while you were gone?” We both laughed, nope, none. But then he knows me well enough to know I most likely would not post anything. I have my reasons. It was an opportunity for me to reflect a bit on social media. 


I have a fairly private FaceBook account. I have a small “friends” list. It mostly consists of my children and family and a few close friends. Over the years I’ve seen a trend that really saddens me. I have to ask myself, “have we forgotten how to live life?”. Over the years I’ve watched people post about family vacations. I see posts that share… we are leaving the house, we are at the airport, we are boarding the plane, we’ve landed, we’ve checked into our hotel, and then continues to give moment by moment updates on all they are doing. I’ve seen couples celebrating their anniversaries. I’ve known where they were going, what hotel they were staying at, where they are having their “romantic” dinner (as they are having that romantic dinner), what they are doing each day. It has now become a pet peeve of mine. But more than that it has made me sad. Very sad that rather than soaking in family time, a romantic dinner with their husbands, privately enjoying the years of marriage, there seems to be a need to make sure everyone knows too. 


Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy FB, I enjoy social media for many reasons. I have been known to post a status update now and again of where I am at and what I’m doing, but, I don’t do it all the time. I’ve come to believe that this is a huge distraction in living life. In being focused and directed in our daily life and on our God given mission and blessings. I’m not judging anyone who does this, rather asking myself why so many feel the need to allow this kind of distraction to pull them away from the people that are right there in front of them, those that they love and hold more dear than anything else in their lives? If anyone has an understanding of this more than I do, please share. 


Maybe because I’m 50 I remember life before social media. I remember when life was not about the next FB post but rather about the moment, the people, and just plain living life. A little of this is fine with me, as I said, I’ve done/do it too. Sometimes I do it for my adult kids because this is one way that we, as a big family, keep connected, sometimes I do it for friends that it might be relevant to (I remember posting that my daughter and I and my “French Daughter” were having coffee at Starbucks after I’d picked her up at the airport. I wanted her mom to know she had arrived and was safe and sound). Having a post or 2 while on vacation is not what I’m focusing on here. It is more of the need that I see for some to post everything that is happening that I don’t understand and this is what saddens me. I try and avoid using social media as my daily journal. I’d like to think that I’m more focused in daily life and I personally don’t have a need to make sure everyone around me knows what I’m doing every minute. But as I said, maybe this is just me? 


My only thoughts to the younger generation are, once in awhile, put your phone down and shut it off, look into the eyes and hearts of those around you. Give them your attention completely. Live life, love life, and afterwards, go ahead and give an update… but put living life first, updating can wait.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Homemaking Challenge for March: Update!


This month’s project has been cleaning out and organizing the bathroom. My somewhat small project has morphed into a bigger project!! Ha, ha!! My sister in law has been here and we discussed the project and decided to remove all the doors and drawers from the cabinets and paint them. I’m really excited about this as I know it will give the bathroom a fresh look. However it has slowed us down. The doors/drawers have needed to be sanded and primed and painted. Due to a small space to work we can only do a few at a time (my bathroom has several). So I may not finish this by the end of the month. Nonetheless there will still be a new project come April. Seeing as I have helpers (both my sister in law and my daughter Sierra is helping with the bathroom) I know I can move onto something new (just not something so big.. LOL). I will keep you posted on the progress of the bathroom and let you know when it is finished.

For now, this is where we are at with these 2 cupboards that I showed you in the first post on this (the first one is the before, the second is where they are at currently) ….
The lighting in the bathroom was not that great for both current pictures..  the paint color is white, nothing fancy.  I just wanted it to look clean and fresh...

And here are a couple of the doors laid out currently being painted…

How have you done this month on cleaning out and organizing your bathroom?

We Can Do This Girls!!


Monday, March 24, 2014

Menu Monday!

Hamburgers w/trimmings, chips & salad

Lasagna, french bread, salad

Bibimbap, kimchi (Korean meal made by Leanne)

Pork roast, potatoes & carrots, salad

Burrito pie, chips & salsa, veggie platter


Clam chowder, dinner rolls, salad

Friday, March 21, 2014

Chicken Bacon Chowder

I was asked to share this recipe after I made it. This was excellent! A creamy chowder full of chicken & bacon flavor. With lots of veggies as well this chowder was a big hit. I ended up serving it with some cornbread and a salad.

Chicken Bacon Chowder

2lbs boneless, skinless chicken (thighs or breasts)
1lb bacon
1 large onion, chopped
1 stick/cube butter
2 cups celery slices
5 to 6 medium mushrooms, sliced
1 pepper (red or green), cut into pieces
1 bag (2lbs) frozen “southeren style” hash browns
1 quart chicken broth
12oz cream cheese, softened
4 cups whole milk
Salt & pepper, to taste

Cook chicken meat, cool & cut up. In a frying pan cook bacon and crumble, set aside.

In an 8 quart stock pot melt butter over medium high heat. Add onion, celery, mushrooms and peppers. Saute until veggies are soft. Add bag of frozen potatoes. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Let simmer for 10 minutes or until potatoes are cooked. Add cream cheese and stir to combine and mix in and then add in the chicken & bacon. Add milk, stir, taste, add salt & pepper to desired taste.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Tuesday on the Homestead

So, here it is Tuesday… and my to-do list is long. I’m still in the midst of my bathroom cleaning and reorganization project. My sister in law is here.. and has kind of taken over.. with my blessings! She is painting and removing doors and drawers to paint and update. Honestly, I’m thankful. I would never have embarked on such a project because my time just would not accommodate it. But, she is an ever willing helper to jump in and tackle stuff I cannot.. so I hope this project will be done by the end of the month, I’ll keep you posted!!

Yesterday was my weekly grocery shopping day and today I have stuff to take care of. I bought 6#’s of hamburger.. 3 pounds will be made into meatballs for an upcoming meal and 3 #’s will be cooked and bagged for an upcoming meal. Yesterday Leanne made about 1 ½ dozen black bean patties for lunch time meals this week. I’ll post on that soon. Today Leanne will also make a batch of creamy broccoli soup for lunch time meals. Having good quality, economical lunch time options is very helpful.

The rest of my to-do list? Laundry, house cleaning, organizing some drawers & cupboards that have been neglected way to long, clean the bathroom, meal cooking (chicken bacon chowder on the menu tonight! Yum.. and maybe some homemade dinner rolls and a veggie platter), and time spent with my hubby and family. This is the middle of hubby’s weekend (he works over the “normal” weekend).

And here is the dinner Leanne and I made the other night. We were not following my menu due to a crazy week. We looked in the fridge and said.. what shall we do the day before grocery shopping day?  Our options were limited. We came up with Creamy Onion Soup and Ham & Cheese Bread.

Creamy Onion Soup

3 medium sized onions, any kind but the sweet onions are my favorite for this soup
7 cups chicken or veggie broth, divided
2 cups whole milk (you can use 2% I am sure but we always use/have whole milk)
1 T sugar
1 t salt, more or less to taste
½ to ¾ t pepper
¾ cup flour
1 cup shredded cheese, any kind

Cut onions into slices and then cut those slices in quarters and set aside. In a good sized soup pot combine 6 cups broth and the onion slices. Bring this all to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. When the simmering time is finished, turn burner off and add milk, sugar, salt and pepper.

In a canning jar with a tight fitting lid combine the reserved cup of broth and the flour. With the lid on, shake the jar well to combine flour and water and break up any lumps.
Add the water/flour mixture to the soup pot with a wire whisk. Turn the heat on high and stir well until the soup boils and begins to thicken. Reduce the heat and let simmer on low for 15 minutes to blend flavors.

Sprinkle cheese on the top of the soup and stir that in just before serving.  Add a few green onions to the soup if you want.. 

Ham & Cheese Bread

Use this recipe:  and instead of pepperoni use ham lunch meat and cheddar cheese. Follow the rest of the instructions. It is amazing! :)


Monday, March 17, 2014

Menu Monday!


Tacos w/trimmings, chips & salsa

Chicken bacon chowder (did not get this made last week), dinner rolls, veggie platter

Tuna patties, brown rice pilaf, greek salad

Sausage veggie bake, cornbread, salad


Sour cream chicken enchiladas, tortilla chips & salsa, carrot sticks

Bbq meatballs, mashed potatoes, stuffed mushrooms, broccoli

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Unexpected Blog Break & Recipe to Share!

I’ve not blogged all week and that was not my intentions. It has just been a week that has had a mind of its’ own. I know you’ve all had weeks like that. It was not in a bad way at all, just busy with life and family.

My sister in law, Debbie, surprised us with a visit. Her plans had changed and she was able to come and stay with us for a bit. I’ve shared about my SIL in the past. We are very close and are more like sisters than “sisters in law”. She is a true blessing in my life. So her change of plans was a wonderful surprise! We've had a fun week of visiting, catching up on life and planning a new project together. She likes to be a blessing where ever she goes and is ready to help out around the house. I’m enlisting her in my current bathroom organization project!

My son Isaac also had a birthday this week. Hard to believe my baby is 16 already. Where does the time go? He had friends over and my oldest son was able to join in the celebration time.

The weather here is looking more and more like spring every day. Two weeks ago we had snow, ice & cold and now the sun has been shining and the temps are warming up. It was time for me to break out the flip flops & capris!

Finally in all this busyness and extra people in the house I’ve had to modify my menu for a couple of nights. One recipe that I made last night was so good. 

Everyone said it was a keeper. I made 2 9x13 pans. So feel free to cut the recipe in half to meet your family’s needs if necessary.

I came up with this recipe by staring into freezer & fridge and examining what I had! Ha, ha! This was the end product:

Mexican Chicken & Potato Casserole
*Makes 2 9x13 pans

3lbs boneless, skinless chicken, cooked & chopped up
4 cups frozen corn
2 cups cooked beans (I had these in the freezer, a can of beans could also be used)
1 2# bag frozen hash brown potatoes (the little cubes)
2 cans Rotel tomatoes
1 cup salsa
2 cups sour cream
Salt, to taste
4 cups grated cheddar cheese, divided

In a large bowl combine chicken, corn, beans, hash browns, tomatoes, salsa, sour cream and half of the cheese. Divide mixture into 2 9x13 casserole dishes. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Bake at 350 for 30 to 45 minutes until all is hot & bubbly and cheese is melted. Serve with more sour cream & salsa on top and a veggie platter or salad.


Monday, March 10, 2014

Menu Monday!


SW stew, brown rice, salad
Tacos w/all the trimmings, chips & salsa
Pizza & sushi (Isaac’s birthday dinner)

Marinated chicken, kimchi fried rice, steamed mixed veggies
Chicken bacon chowder, crackers, veggie platter

Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, salad

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Updates from the Homestead

How is everyone surviving winter? Is it still in full swing in your area or slowly turning to spring? We had a couple very nice days that were just teasers I guess. Right after those nice days we had a snow and ice storm hit us. There was not a lot of snow but the ice caused problems. Not many for us personally but due to falling tree limbs several of my area friends lost power and the cold froze pipes. My hubby had to get to and from work in it, but did so without too much issue. We lost a few tree limbs but nothing damaging, thank the Lord. Here are a few pics that my daughter Sierra took:

Teaching my kids to drive (as I’ve shared before) is one of my least enjoyed jobs of parenting. I’m not sure why but it is. None the less, I’ve managed to teach 7 so far. Maybe because of the area we live in can tend to make my nerves a wreck. Apparently we live near one of the most dangerous stretches of highway in Washington State (and our only way in and out of the Gorge). Lots of curves, drop offs and people traveling too fast and not knowing the roads. Countless trucks have tipped over on the curvy highway and many have lost their life. So setting out with a brand new driver on the highway always gets my heart racing, my adrenaline going and my prayers going up just as fast! :) .. Soon they are doing fine and the job of teaching them to drive in the city, parallel park, back around a corner (skills needed to pass the test) and at least 50 required hours of driving time, is stressful for me. The best news from this last week is that my daughter Sierra got her driver’s license! She was thrilled and I was beyond ecstatic to think that now I only have one more child left to teach. I’ve been telling everyone, “7 down, 1 to go!” .. Hard to believe it was 15 years ago when I was saying just the reverse. After I taught my oldest to drive and he got his license I said, “1 down, 7 to go!” Ha, ha!!

My daughter Hannah stopped by recently and I so loved the grandma time. Little baby Will is growing fast, he'll be 8 months old near the end of this month. He was born with a ton of hair and it's just been growing since! Funny to think about getting a baby’s hair cut before they are even one year old! Hannah still has not cut it.. she says she’ll wait as long as she can because he is just too cute with all that hair! Here is a recent picture Sierra took of him…

That is all from the homestead for now!


Friday, March 7, 2014

Meal Planning Simplicity


This week’s Meal Planning Simplicity is about lunch time planning. With my children being older and having various schedules they can all eat lunch at different times. They also make their own lunches. To avoid having messes in the kitchen from several people in there during the day I try and do things ahead of time to make the process a little simpler for them and less mess as well. I’m also am conscious on keeping lunch meals inexpensive. With two teenage/adult boys in the house who can eat and eat I really need to make the choices that are healthy as well as easy on my budget.

Leftovers of course are typically always the first choice for me when it comes to lunch. However often times I don’t have any leftovers or my leftovers are “planned overs” that I intend to use for another meal.

Here is what I do. I change things up from week to week with different types of food. But here are the basics of what I do. Nothing earth shattering here, pretty basic.

Sandwiches are a quick and easy meal. At the beginning of the week I open up several cans of tuna fish and put it in the fridge. When anyone is looking for something quick this is an easy meal option.

The next thing I do is boil up several eggs, usually 1 to 2 dozen. I’ve found that the easiest time to peel and egg is right after cooking. I cook the eggs for about 10 minutes and then put them in cold water. As soon as they are cool enough to touch I run them under cold water and peel them. I put them in a bowl, cover them and put them in the fridge. My kids will eat them for breakfast (along with fruit and toast) or grab a couple and make eggs salad for sandwiches. We also like them sliced on top salad.

Bean soups are economical to make and are a good quick lunch. I will make up some bean soup every now and again and it will provide lunch for everyone for 2 or 3 days. I rarely put meat in it, just beans, veggies, salt. It’s simple food that is healthy, inexpensive, and easy to heat and eat.

Finally to round off these lunch items I set up a plastic container of cut up vegetables.

All these foods don’t take too long to prepare, will sit in the fridge for 3 or 4 days, and make it simple for a quick lunch, with minimal mess and easy on my budget.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Homemaking Challenge for March


Time to move on to another “out of sight, out of mind” project in my home for the month of March….

The Homemaking Challenge for March is: The Bathroom

This is very needed in my home. We have one bathroom. These old homes were only built with one bathroom. We’ve had up to 10 people living in this home and we still made one bathroom work. We’ve considered converting one of the upstairs bedrooms into a bathroom, but we needed the bedroom space more than we needed another bathroom! Ha, ha! :) However it may be a future project. 

There are six of us living in this home currently. The bathroom gets a lot of use. And over time things get tossed here and there in the cupboards and drawers. I know there is a better way to organize things, but first I need to sort through bottles, containers, and stuff to find out what we are actually using and then come up with a better plan to organize it all.

Here is an example of a couple of the drawers…

I have 2 daughters still at home and hair stuff, makeup and the like are everywhere.. my plan is to get this organized in a way that does not take over the whole bathroom.

My next project is this cupboard…

I think it is a bad use of space (and yes I stock up on toilet paper when it goes on sale.. ha, ha!!!  :) ..  I . I’m hoping to clear it out, paint it, and put some shelves up. I want to move things around and store more commonly used items (such as bath towels, washcloths, etc.. here).  The towels are currently in a cupboard that I think would have a better use...

And above the tall cupboard is more “stuff”..

Time to sort through and organize it so finding what we need and want is not such a chore…

So there you have it! Let’s clean out and organize the bathroom this month!!

We Can Do This Girls!!