Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Updates from the Homestead


In mid January we celebrated my son Jacob's 21st birthday! My 6th baby is growing up fast!! He is a great kid. Works a full time job faithfully and is incredibly responsible. I feel very blessed. His girlfriend, Julie (the sweetest girl in the world!! :), baked all the goodies. She made an eggnog cake with rum frosting, vodka soaked gummy bears and Kahlua balls. She went to a lot of effort to make the evening fun. I served all of Jacob's favorite foods... pizza, sushi, egg rolls.. and added some fruit in there.. LOL.. :) He had a few of his friends over as well. These boys have been friends with him since they were just little boys... I have many, many memories of all the boys hanging at my house. In fact one of his friends said to me.. This has always been the “fun” house to be at! Very sweet memories. Here are a few pics from our evening...

Jacob and Julie



This is a pic of Jacob (on the right) with his buddies...  and Isaac (back towards the photo)...  not taken at this bday(but about a week or so before) but I never got a lot really good pics of all of them on his bday...



My son Isaac is 16, almost 17 and currently enrolled in drivers education. He has been driving me everywhere. I joke with him and tell him how wonderful it is to be chauffeured around by such a handsome young man. He's a quick learner for sure and doing amazingly well. I have to say that teaching my kids to drive has never, ever, been my favorite thing to do. In fact I really don't like it all. But at this point I've taught 7 children to drive and am now almost done with #8. Since the first child, it has been a mental countdown for me. After the first.. I said.. 1 down, 7 to go!! And the countdown continued with each child... After Sierra got her license last March, I was feeling happy, as my count was 7 down, 1 to go!! And now I'm here. It looks like, if all goes according to plan, that I'll be doing a super big happy dance this spring... and will be proclaiming.. 8 down.. 0 to go!


Finally, my last update is on my daughter Leanne. She has had a few jobs since coming home from S. Korea and tried to figure out what she really wanted to do with her life. In the end, she said, she misses teaching and she misses S. Korea. She loved it there. She loved the people, the country, the culture, and so much more. Last fall she began the long paperwork process to prepare herself to go back. As with all things such as paperwork, it is a slow process. But it all finally came in. She immediately sent it all to her recruiter. The next day her recruiter contacted Leanne and said she had a job possibility for her. Two days later Leanne had a SKYPE interview with a private school in Seoul. Three hours after the interview she was contacted by her recruiter and told that the school wanted to hire her. She is thrilled and I'm very happy for her. As the paperwork process continues (Visa's and such) she is cleaning out her things, and preparing to pack. It looks like she will be heading back to S. Korea at the end of February. As a mama it is hard to see her go for another year. But, I'm thankful for the year plus that we've had together and the fact that she is heading back to do what she dearly loves doing.

This is a picture of Leanne and my grandgirls, Elizabeth and Rylee. She recently spent a day with Hannah and her nieces and nephew.



That's all the updates from the homestead for now!!



 


Monday, January 26, 2015

Menu Monday!






A trip to town is on my to-do list today. Need to get a few groceries in the house and run some errands. The rest of the day will be busy at home. My barn really needs a bit of pick up and cleaning.. but that may be put off until tomorrow!! Always things that need to be done, which is why it's nice to have a menu all planned out... how's your menu planning coming along this week?


Monday
Chicken & broccoli casserole, rice, salad


Tuesday
Crockpot beef & peppers, french bread, salad


Wednesday
Cabbage & hamburger skillet, broccoli


Thursday
Leftovers


Friday
Chicken soup, biscuits, salad


Saturday
Burrito Casserole, tortilla chips, salad


Sunday
Leftovers

 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Roasted Garlic


I love garlic and add it to everything I can.. soups, stir-fries, veggies, casseroles, chopped & sprinkled over a salad, etc. I don't love to spend a lot of my cooking/kitchen time peeling it. So I purchase my garlic already peeled. In a BIG bag from Costco....



It's a 3# bag. That is a lot of garlic! I have frozen it, but it seems to be soft and loses some of the flavor when defrosted. I thought of roasting it to see if it might last longer. So far, it is doing great. I did this a little over a week ago and so far my garlic is still flavorful and is very easy to use.

I roasted it and stored it in canning jars and covered it in olive oil. When I want to use it, I take a fork or spoon and take out what I need.

Here is how I did it...

I put about 4 cups of peeled garlic in a bowl. I drizzled and coated the garlic with olive oil. I don't have measurements, just drizzled and stirred until the garlic was nicely coated. Then I sprinkled salt over it all (Himalayan Pink Salt.. my newest favorite salt).



I laid it all out on a jelly roll pan that had been lined with parchment paper...



I roasted the garlic at 375 for about 45 minutes. I stirred it half way through and took it out when it was nicely browned...



When done I put it into canning jars and poured olive oil over it..




I've used it a lot since making it and am happy with it. I'll have to see if it lasts any longer than the fresh garlic..



 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Life is not a Race to the End

 
All my kids in 2002...


I remember getting frustrated in the morning.. I just needed a little coffee before the kids all stared talking to me... just a little.. but no, as soon as they were up they were talking to me.. Sometimes I just needed a few moments of peace and quiet.. they went to bed, the house was quiet, finally.. but I was exhausted.. and went to bed.. no time to enjoy that peace and quiet. I just wanted a few moments to myself.. go to the bathroom.. they knock on the door.. and start talking to me.. I tell them to work on their school .. as soon as I walk out of the room... to put some laundry through.. they suddenly ALL need me.. my life and time was always in demand.. and I just wanted a few moments to myself..

Fast forward .. I now wake up, make my coffee, enjoy peace and quiet, kids gone to work, one still sleeping, I use the bathroom in peace and life is quiet and smooth. And you know what??? I miss those years.

They were busy.. animals to take care of, gardens to plant and harvest and can, driving kids here and there as they try and reach their own goals in life, homeschooling, keeping the house clean, meals to cook, bread to bake. It can make a person feel overwhelmed at times.

But then it seems that suddenly it is over.. the kids are growing and grown and start to move out and begin their own lives. Life settles down and ever so slowly you move into a new season. And you think to yourself.. what was I stressing over? You realize that (as my father in law once said to me).. life is not a race to the end. You wait for some peace and some quiet and just a few moments to think. Then it is there .. and you realize .. you miss those hectic times, those moments when they are all looking at you to make their lives happen.

I miss those mornings when I'd wake up, get my coffee going and have my daughter Emily come downstairs and tell me everything that was on her mind.. at the time.. I'd be like.. wait, dear.. let me wake up.. ~smile~ … but no she had so much to say.. Today, I'd like that again, at least every now and again :) ...

So.. as I move into a different season I can say one thing.. Love, appreciate, enjoy EACH day and each season that you are in. Don't wait for it to change.. embrace it. It will be over before you even know it. In a blink of an eye.. it will all be a memory.. it will be what your life was all about.. it will have been all about them.. and it will have been worth every day, every stressful moment.. every joy, every laugh, every bit of stress and excitement.. because one day.. trust me on this.. it will all be over. And you will move into a new season.

So today mama.. just breathe, just enjoy, just embrace... it's not a race to the end.. hug those babies, laugh with them, talk to them, love them, love your life.. make memories... It will mean everything to you one day...

 
All my kids..  same position in 2012... 



Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Jelly Roll Race Quilt


I've been meaning to write a blog post for a bit now on the quilts I made my granddaughters for Christmas. I wanted so much to post about them while I was making them.. but I know my daughter reads my blog and I wanted them to be a surprise.

These quilts were so fun to make!! If you are not familiar with jelly roll quilts I'll share. You begin making this quilt by buying a jelly roll. This is 40 strips of fabric that are 2 ½ inches wide and about 44 inches long. The fabric in each jelly roll typically comes from one line of fabric. This is a huge plus because it means that all the colors in the quilt will coordinate. Here is a pic of the jelly roll I bought for my granddaughters quilts (I bought 2 jelly rolls.. one for each quilt)...




I wanted a bright fun girlie print. This is a link to the fabric I chose: https://www.missouriquiltco.com/shop/detail/20547/riley-blake/samantha-walker/girl-crazy-rolie-polie


I also bought extra fabric so I could add a border to the quilts.


Before I started I searched everywhere on the internet to learn about this quilt and to find good instructions on it. The Missouri Star Quilt Company not only sells great quality fabric but also has some amazing tutorials on how to make tons of quilts and squares and a great video on the jelly roll race quilt. Below is the video for anyone interested in the technique used to sew this quilt together.



 



The quilt top went together very easily and very quickly... and was so much fun to make! Here is a pic of the first one when it was done ….




And after adding the borders. I added a 2 ½ inch border and then a 4 inch border...



I machine quilted both of them. It was a big job. I became much better friends with my seam ripper than I had ever wanted to... ~smile~

I purchased fabric from the fabric store in the city and chose a different fabric color for each quilt (just to make them slightly different :). And I trimmed one quilt with the backing fabric and the other I used leftover fabric from the boarders to make the trim (again .. just slight differences :).

And the finished quilts with the cute grandgirls.... taken at Christmas....




 



Monday, January 19, 2015

Menu Monday!







Monday
Tortilla Soup w/pork, salad


Tuesday
Chicken broccoli casserole, rice, salad


Wednesday
Tacos w/trimmings


Thursday
Leftovers


Friday
Chili, cornbread, salad


Saturday
Fried cabbage & meatballs, rice, salad


Sunday
Cheeseburger soup, biscuits, salad


 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Disclosure






Blogs have become very interesting in the last 10 years. I started blogging almost 10 years ago. Back then blogs were all about the person and their life and sharing. Today blogs have mostly become 'professional'. Very “cookie cutter” like, not always as personal. Something (in my humble opinion) has been lost along the way.. but maybe that is just me .. reminiscing about how it use to be.. ~smile~ My goal in blogging has never been to be a professional blogger.

That said, I occasionally do put affiliate links on my site. Besides this blog I have a very large website (The Family Homestead)  that I've had for over 10 years. It costs me money to keep that going and to store my photos and such. Plus I spend a lot of my time working on my blog. Which is fine by me, I enjoy it.. and have enjoyed it for the last (almost) 10 years.

When I post an affiliate link and then make a little money from it, I appreciate that. It helps me to pay for my website, storage, and sometimes there is a bit left over.. I can enjoy treating my daughters to a coffee now and again! :)

As I understand, the law now requires that I let my readers know when the links I post are affiliate links. So that is what I am doing. The adsense and Amazon links that you see on my blog are affiliate links. Occasionally I'll post about something on a blog post and give you an Amazon link to the product I use (I never post about or encourage products that I don't personally use)... from this point forward I will be letting you know when a link I post is an affiliate link and I make a small amount from this if you click through and purchase something.

If I don't inform you, then you will know that the link I share is not an affiliate link. Just me sharing a link to a business that I like and want to pass on to you.

I truly appreciate all the support that comes my way. Thank you so very much. As I said, I have no desire to make a living or a big income on blogging.. that has never been my goal. Any money I do make goes to support this blog and encourage me in my blogging (an afternoon of coffee with my girls is a lot of encouragement! ~smile~ )...


Truly grateful and appreciative,
Crystal
 


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Easy to Make Sliders


I had a house full of people one evening.. kids, a few friends.. etc... and was wanting something quick and easy to give them for a snack. Sliders were on my mind. I had some dinner rolls that I had bought from Costco to use. I had lunch meat and swiss cheese.

To make this easy for a crowd here is what I did...

I cut the rolls in half and laid the bottom half in a 9x13 pan (I lined it with parchment paper to make clean up easier).. I topped each piece with a little honey mustard...





















Then laid ham lunch meat slices and swiss cheese on top of the rolls...then topped with the top half of the rolls..






















I put it in the oven and baked it at 350 for about 20 minutes .. long enough to warm them up and melt the cheese..

Then used a knife to cut and separate the sliders.. served them.. 
















They were a HUGE hit.. and easy to make!

NOTES: in the future.. I will buy dinner rolls that are even in size. These were odd shaped and made it a little of a challenge to cut afterwards...


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Cabbage Roll Casserole



I love cabbage rolls, but they are time consuming to make. I wanted something similar that was a bit simpler. So I made this recipe up the other night. It turned out really good and the family enjoyed it.


Cabbage Roll Casserole

1 medium head cabbage, chopped
2lbs hamburger
1 medium onion, chopped
4 or 5 cloves garlic, chopped
1T Italian seasonings
2 14oz cans diced tomatoes
salt, pepper to taste
1 cup grated cheese (of your choice, I used cheddar but mozzarella would be great as well)


Put chopped cabbage in a stock pot with a small amount of water. Heat to boiling, turn heat down, cover and simmer until the cabbage is soft. Drain.

While the cabbage is simmering cook hamburger, onions and garlic in a large frying pan until hamburger is not longer pink and onions are soft. Add diced tomatoes, Italian seasonings along with salt and pepper (taste to adjust salt to your liking).

After the cabbage has drained combine it with the hamburger mixture. Pour into a 9x13 pan. Top with grated cheese.


Bake at 375 for 30 to 40 minutes.. until everything is hot and bubbly and cheese is melted.


Let sit for 15 minutes or so before serving. Serve over rice.


NOTES: I found this to be very juicy. But that seemed fine as we were serving it over rice. Another option would be to add 2 or 3 cups of cooked rice to the mixture right before baking it. The only thing I would consider is that you would either need to cut the recipe in half and then add the rice or put it all into a bigger sized pan such as an 11x15 size. 

Also, in the future I think I'll add a 1/2 teaspoon or so of red pepper flakes to give it a little bite.  But that is totally optional.


Monday, January 12, 2015

Menu Monday!!



 
It's Monday once again!!  Time for the weekly menu.  Today is grocery shopping day for me as well.  Hope your menu planning is going great! 


Monday
Cabbage roll casserole, rice, salad


Tuesday
Meatballs & peppers, buttered noodles, roasted veggies


Wednesday
Thai pork riblets, rice, salad


Thursday
Leftovers


Friday
Roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, broccoli slaw


Saturday
Leftovers


Sunday
HM pizza, salad


 


Saturday, January 10, 2015

Crockpot Creamy Mexican Chicken over Rice


This was a super simple meal (seems to be my favorite type of meals at the moment.. ~smile~ ) and tasted oh so good. The family ate it up!! It was a great winter nights meal.

It was a cut up the meat and veggies, put all the ingredients in a crockpot and let it cook all day. The best type of meals... I served it with cornbread and a salad.




Crockpot Creamy Mexican Chicken over Rice

3#'s boneless, skinless chicken (breast or thighs), cut into bite size pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large pepper (red, green, yellow.. your choice), chopped
2 cups sliced celery
1 can rotel tomatoes
8oz cream cheese
2T chili powder
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in crockpot. Cook on low for about 6 to 8 hours. Stir occasionally while cooking to distribute the cream cheese.

Serve over rice, top with a bit of cheese and sour cream (add salsa it you want too) and enjoy!!


 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Meatball Sub Sandwiches


If you need a pretty easy meal, this may be the one. I was going to be gone for the day and wanted to make sure I had dinner pretty much ready when I got home. I did not have a lot of time before I left to prepare. Meatball subs seemed like the perfect answer.

I put 2#'s of meatballs in my crockpot. These can be homemade meatballs or store bought. I had a big bag of meatballs that I had purchased from Costco in my freezer. So used some of those. I poured a 24oz jar of spaghetti sauce over them, set the crockpot on low and headed out the door.

When I got home, I stirred them up, and they were ready to go (they had been on low in the crockpot for about 6 hours) ...




I used hoagie rolls and put the meatballs and a little sauce in each sandwich and sprinkled some cheese on the top.

I served them with coleslaw that I had picked up from the deli while I was in town and potato chips.


My guys gave this meal a big thumbs up!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Updates from the Homestead... and a few empty nest thoughts...


After a great Christmas holiday... I came down with a cold. I'm still dealing with the congestion and sinus yuckiness... Not the best way to start a new year! But such is life. I'm still moving forward and making progress.

Currently I'm looking at a very different life for a few months. My daughters Leanne and Sierra are house sitting in the city for a friend who will be gone for an extended amount of time. Over the weekend, it was quiet, it was different.

I've never had a problem with the thoughts of being an empty nest. This is probably the closest I've been. My son Jacob lives at home, but works full time. For most of the week its going to be just me and Isaac (and hubby of course, but he also is working full time). It looks and feels different.

I happen to enjoy it. Don't get me wrong, I love my children, I adore them. I have no problem with them living at home as they work to get their own lives started. But at the same time, I'm enjoying the quiet time. I'm enjoying a less busy household. It's giving me a little peek into the future. And I have to admit, that I like the look.

This may be difficult for some to understand. Maybe it's because I've had 8 children. I've been a mother now for 32 years. That, to me, is a long time. After enough years you begin to wonder a few things. What will life look like without children? Who was I before I had children? Who am I now? Surely not only a mother? That was and still is a HUGE part of who I am, but there is more to me, I'm sure of that. What are some of my desires and interests in life that I'd like to pursue now?

Also after 32 years of raising children, cooking, cleaning, educating, caring... I'm tired. It is a lot of hard work. It was and is most certainly a labor of love and I would not change anything... I have incredible memories, beautiful children, grandchildren and a very blessed life and would not want it to be any different. But the reality is, I'm tired. I'm ready for a change of pace, a change in the direction of some things in my life.

Mostly the change I'd like to see.. less cooking, less cleaning, less educating, less laundry.. Ha, ha.. but I have seen that as the children, one by one, have left the nest.

I know my daughter Sierra will most likely be back at the end of the house sitting job. Leanne is currently dealing with necessary paperwork to go back to S. Korea to teach. But in the meantime... it is giving me more time to contemplate the whole empty nest life and what that will be like for my hubby and I.

It is a change of season for me, and my husband. I've been a mama and raising kids since I was 18. I think a little adjustment time is natural! :) … I'm actually looking forward to what God has in store for us!!

Lastly.. a recent family photo of Hannah, her husband, and babies... they are growing so fast it is amazing.. she is a wonderful mama, and I'm just in love with them all (as to be expected... I'm the mama and grandma! :) …  but in the light of being an empty nest, I think about all the memories and years of raising my babies..  and then to see them... living amazing lives..  just warms my heart and blesses me... 




That is all from the homestead!!!


If you are an empty nest... I'd love to hear from you.. how have you adjusted? What has been the most difficult for you? What has God shown you through it all? There is not much out there on the internet about empty nest... I'd love to hear from those who are now dealing with the same issues.. or will soon be dealing with them..


 
 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Menu Monday!





Our household has been dealing with a nasty cold this last week, but I think we are nearing the end! Appetites should be back to normal. :) How's your menu planning coming along for the week?


Monday
Meatball sub sandwiches, chips, coleslaw


Tuesday
Tacos w/all the trimmings, tortilla chips & salsa


Wednesday
Chicken noodle soup, crackers, salad


Thursday
Leftovers


Friday
Creamy salsa chicken over rice, salad


Saturday
Tuna patties, roasted potatoes, salad


Sunday
Leftovers