Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Meal Preps for Eating Well (and a new YouTube!)

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One thing I know for sure, when I had a lot of people to feed it was much easier to cook daily than when I just need to fix something for myself for lunch. It's easier to think about cooking even if it is just feeding my hubby and me. But when I'm hungry, I find it very difficult to muster the desire to pull out all my veggies and make a salad, or cook something up for just me.

Part of working to get fit means that I want to make sure I have good food to eat to support my body.

Here has been my solution, fill up my fridge with easy to grab, no thought required, healthy food choices. 

The pic above shows my latest meal preps.

I've been making bone broth and keeping that in the fridge. I drink a mug of this almost daily. I also cut some of the chicken from my last batch and kept that in the fridge. I add the chicken to my daily cup of broth for a little extra protein.

I made several jars of overnight oatmeal. I use to make this long ago and my family really enjoyed it. I forgot how easy it is to make and nice it is to have on hand.

I hard boiled a few eggs. These are great to eat for a quick breakfast or easily turn them into egg salad sandwiches.

I made smoothie starters and put them in little zip bags in the freezer. Mine contain strawberries, blueberries, chia seeds, and gelatin protein powder. All I have to do is dump them in the blender, add the liquid and blend. Instant breakfast!

Because I've been making feta cheese lately I have a lot whey. So I am also making Whey Lemonade. No need to buy expensive beverages when I can have a healthful probiotic lemonade made for very little.

One of the best things I been doing is making salad in a jar. The idea has been running around the internet for a while now. I'm just now trying it out. What makes it so great is that you can easily just grab the jar of salad out of the fridge, shake it up and enjoy. I like calling it healthy fast food.

The trick to getting it to last a few days is pretty simple. Make sure your veggies are all very fresh, make sure they are dry. Wash the veggies and let them dry out. Moisture is not a salads friend. You put the dressing on the bottom of the jar, then you add the harder type veggies such as radishes, carrots, celery, beans, etc.. then the softer veggies and finally the lettuce goes on top. I also don't add cut tomatoes, cut up tomatoes will deteriorate very quickly. I find grape tomatoes work the best.

Below is a little YouTube video I made on assembling salad in a jar...

Having a lot of easy to grab options makes eating a healthy diet much easier!


Monday, March 28, 2016

Menu Monday!

I took a blog break last week as it was busy. Hubby took a couple extra days off and he and I went away to the Oregon Coast for a few days for my birthday. It was so enjoyable and a much needed break for both of us. We even had a small break in the rain early one morning to get out and walk on the beach and get my 10,000 steps in.. Ha, ha.. :) 

The rain was falling over the ocean but it was sunny on the beach and I caught this rainbow over the ocean.  I only had the camera on my phone with me so the pic does not do justice to how beautiful it was to see..

I have a lot of blog posts going on in my head, the hope is to have the time to get them out there this week.

For now I have the menu planned out and life is back to routine.

Always my favorite stand by. Spaghetti, garlic toast, salad. Easy and good.

BBQ Chicken
I'll do this in the crockpot. Cut up chicken breasts, smothered in bbq sauce and served with rice. I'll serve broccoli on the side.

Ham Steaks
Fried ham steaks are fast and yummy. I fry them up in a little coconut oil and serve with spicy mustard. I'll serve mashed potatoes and gravy (made with my recent batch of chicken stock) and a salad to round out the meal.

I'm pretty sure this should do it for the week. If not, a night of sub sandwiches and tomato soup will fill in the gap.

How's your menu planning coming along this week?

Monday, March 21, 2016

Menu Monday!

This week Tobin and I have plans that will only have has eating at home a few nights. So my menu will reflect this.

I'm finally getting the split pea soup made that I'm had on my list for the last week or more. I have some beef kielbasa that I'll be using for this. We are having that for dinner tonight along with crackers and a salad.

The rest of the week looks like this..

BBQ Meatballs
I'll be using premade meatballs in the crockpot simmered in bbq sauce. Mashed potatoes, broccoli and coleslaw will be the sides.

Mexican Chicken Casserole
A mixture of chicken, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, salsa, and rice. Tortilla chips & salsa and a nice salad will round out the meal.

Due to our busy week this should do it.

How's your menu planning coming along? :)


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Spring is in the Air!!

I personally love the time change. I love having it stay light longer in the evening. It just says spring to me. I've had a whole lot of spring excitement on my homestead lately.

One of the first signs of spring on my homestead is when the ducks start to come and visit our pond. They are coming home from the south and see our pond and stop by for a visit. I always know spring is here when the ducks start visiting our pond...

Baby goats!! Spring is the time for baby animals. My mama goat had twin girls! It was so fun to walk in the barn that day and see my 2 new little goats!

Two days later I had my grandchildren here for a visit to hug and hold those new baby goats. It was a wonderful day!

And finally, my youngest son, Isaac, turned 18! I have raised all my kids to the age of 18 and beyond. But, it seems to happen very fast. My husband and I looked at each other and said... how did this happen so fast? In many ways we miss a house full of busy children and activity. In other ways we are enjoying our peace and quiet now.

I'm a little slow this year in ordering seeds for my garden. I now have my list together and will be making my order this week. For now, my cabbage plants are just about ready to replant.

I'm dreaming of warm days, gardens and spring turning into summer!!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Menu Monday!

Happy Monday everyone! :) For this weeks menu I have most everything I need in my freezer already. I'll be grocery shopping today for fresh fruits and veggies and a few more things for the week.

I'm working lately to think ahead on more than just my main meals. I have chicken broth going in the crockpot right now . After grocery shopping I plan to prep some simple breakfast, lunch and healthy snacks. I'll be sharing what I do later this week. I know it is so much easier to figure out what to eat if I have simple things ready to go in the fridge.

Now for the main meals this week..

Chicken Gravy over Rice
I'll use precooked chicken I have in the freezer (the chicken I have from making my last batch of chicken stock) and make gravy with it, serve it over rice. Baked sweet potatoes and broccoli will be served on the side.

Corned Beef & Cabbage
This time of year corned beef is for sale everywhere. I'll make this traditional meal on St. Patrick's day. I have small red potatoes as well to go with this. I plan to cook this up in my cast iron dutch oven. Salad will round out the meal.

Crockpot Cheesy Chicken Tater Tot Casserole
I'll whip up something cheesy and good with this combo! :) And serve a nice green salad on the side.

Split Pea Soup
I have some kielbasa in the freezer and will use it to make the soup. Biscuits or crackers and cut up fresh veggies will make this an easy dinner.


Friday, March 11, 2016

25 Things to Contemplate When Turning 18

I wrote this article about 2 years ago when my daughter was turning 18.  This weekend my youngest son, Isaac, turns 18 and my prayer for my son is that he has these basic skills and character traits in his heart as he begins life as an adult.  Happy Birthday Isaac!  

As my Father in Law once said to me, "Life is not a race to the end, it's a journey".  As my children grow up and one by one begin their journey I think about how prepared they are for it.  My youngest daughter is turning 18 next month. She is my 7th child to hit this landmark age. I've been thinking about when my older children turned 18 and the life lessons I had/have hoped they understand as they begin their journey into adulthood. I decided to start writing these things down. I’d like to think the things I’ve written are basic character traits I’ve instilled in my children over the years. It is a list of advice I’ve tried to pass on to them. It’s not a comprehensive list and I’m sure not everyone would agree on the best advice to give an 18 year old, but this is just my own personal list. I wrote this list down as it came to me; they are not in any particular order.

25 Things to Contemplate When Turning 18

1. Becoming 18 does not automatically make you an adult, in the eyes of the law it means you are now responsible for your own debt and actions. Becoming an adult takes time.

2. Your relationship with God is most important.

3. Think before you act, do my choices in life honor God, honor my parents, and lead me in a direction that God wants me go?

4. Don’t spend your time worrying about having a boyfriend/girlfriend. God has a plan for you and this is the time in your life to focus on Him, your relationship with Him and that plan. Move forward in your life, follow your dreams, be passionate and work hard to achieve them. Wait patiently on God’s timing for the right person for your life.

5. Remember no one owes you anything. If you want something in life you must figure out how to make it happen. Allow God to lead you.

6. Never stop learning. Read books, explore topics that interest you. Always be learning and increasing in knowledge.

7. Read your Bible. Never stop learning and increasing in knowledge about our Lord & Savior and His Word.

8. Be content with where God has you for the moment. The desire to be on your own, do your own thing, provide for yourself is normal. Be patient to work towards these goals but on God’s time frame. The second part that goes right along with contentment is learn to make the most of your life with what you have, right where God has you for the moment.

9. Take care of your responsibilities and work hard. Hard work is not something to avoid it’s something to embrace. Whatever goals you make understand it will take work to get there.

10. Understand the value of TRUST. Be a person others can trust. Trust that is broken is very hard to regain.

11. Pray often! Pray for others; keep a prayer journal that is filled with the thoughts and prayers of loved ones, friends and those in need. Focus less on yourself and more on others.

12. Be generous. Be Generous in love, generous in forgiveness, generous in longsuffering, generous with encouragement to others, generous with your time & finances.

13. Be Kind. The world is a rough place. Many people hurt and are struggling with issues that no one sees. Every day in every way you are able take time to show kindness to others.

14. Don’t be afraid to think “outside the box” in life. Be an independent thinker. It is ok to go against societal norms if you feel God is leading you in that direction. Just make sure your choices reflect #3.

15. Be wise with your finances. All that you have comes from God; prayerfully consider how to use your money.

16. Be willing to say, “I’m sorry” if a situation requires it. Be humble and admit when you are wrong. Life is not about always proving we are right.

17. Mistakes in life are unavoidable. We have all made them. We can either chose to let them bring us down or we can learn from them. No matter what the mistake is, learn from it, ask God for forgiveness and commit to walking forward having learned from it.

18. Be thankful always, no matter the situation. Life will have its ups and downs. At times life will seem like a walk in the park on a sunny day and at other times life will make you feel as though you are being tossed about on a turbulent stormy sea. Always hang onto God. And every day give God thanks! Don’t get caught up in a vortex of self-pity… Look to God, give thanks to Him and ask for guidance. God is good.. all the time.

19. Love is a choice. Choose to love daily and allow the love of God to flow through you, even in difficult situations.

20. Pray for wisdom. God has said in his Word that he will give wisdom to those that ask. Desire and pray for godly wisdom. Avoid the wisdom of this world and pray for God’s wisdom and direction.

21. Learn to make a really good cup of coffee (or tea). Many heartfelt memories with others in your life will come over a good cup of coffee.

22. . Know how to cook a meal, or rather many meals. As in #21 many heartfelt memories with others will come to you over a good home cooked meal. Not to mention that it is also practical and economical to know how to cook and not be at the mercy of fast food.

23. Know what you believe and why and stand firm. The loss of a friend, event, or opportunity in life that goes against what you believe is not worth stepping away from your convictions and beliefs

24. On a practical note, make sure you learn how to change a flat tire, check and be able to change the oil in your car.

25. Spend time serving others. This can be as simple as your family right in your home or your next door neighbor, your community, your church. Be willing to give of your time and talents as you can.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Chicken Stock in the Crockpot (New YouTube!)

Last week I made a batch of chicken stock/broth in my crockpot. It turned out great. I made a tutorial video while I was at it.

Homemade broth is so good and incredibly nutritious. The more I read about it the more I'm inspired to make this a staple in my household. I drink a nice warm mug of it everyday now. I use it in my cooking too.

Here is my tutorial video....


I mention at the end of the video about Sally Fallon's book Nourishing Broth. I purchased the book not long ago and have been reading it. It is so informative. If you want a comprehensive look at what broth does for the body and how it heals, rejuvenates and improves your health than I highly recommend this book. 


I hope this inspires you to make some broth for your family!


Monday, March 7, 2016

Menu Monday!

How is your Monday going? Mine is looking busy. Grocery shopping is on my list today and running errands.

Spring is in the air and that always is so refreshing. Over the weekend we had 4 visiting ducks in our pond. That is a sure sign that spring is right around the corner. I'm hoping for a break in the rain this week and maybe plan a walk with my daughter Hannah and the grandbabies.

Back to menu planning.. :) Since I'll be in town for a good part of the day I'm going super easy tonight. Fish sticks, tater tots and coleslaw from the deli.

The rest of my week is looking like this...

A favorite standby and quick to put together. I'll serve baked potatoes and broccoli to go along side.

Parmesan Chicken
Another quick and easy meal that is so good! Buttered pasta and a big green salad sound perfect to go with the chicken. You can find my parmesan chicken recipe HERE.

This was a request from my son Isaac. Simple enough to make. I'll serve them with the typically trimmings (lettuce, tomatoes, sliced olives, cheese, etc..) and tortilla chips & salsa.

That should do it for the week. If I need another meal it will most like be split pea soup with kielbasa in it. I have some kielbasa in the freezer that I can use for this.

Hope your week is off to a great start and happy menu planning!! :)


Friday, March 4, 2016

The Ability to Say “No”

Pics of my kids over the years are in the post..  :)

One of the struggles I remember so well over the years of raising kids is that I was asked a lot to do things for groups I belonged to, church activities, family, and more. I hated saying 'no' to anyone. So I would say, “yes”, often.

Sometimes this was just fine. I enjoyed helping out in any way I could. But often times the reality was that I was so busy in my life just raising my children, homeschooling, animals, home chores to do, baking, cooking, etc... that when I would say yes, I found that someone or something always suffered at home.

At one point I had a house full of little ones, I was pregnant with baby #5 or #6 and I was asked to teach a year of Sunday School. I hesitated, but not wanting to say no, I said yes. Oh my.. that was a hard year in my life. I was exhausted all the time as it was and had lessons for my own children to plan and now I had lessons for SS to plan as well and be there each Sunday to teach. I fulfilled my commitment but I also learned something for this.

I needed to understand my priorities. I needed to put my husband, children, home first. Then, take on other commitments as I was able to. There was a reality for me that I was at a time of my life that I just might not be able to take on much more than I had right in my own home.

I had to learn to say no. It was very hard. I felt I had to explain, I felt I was letting people down. I felt I was not doing my part. But thank the Lord that He showed me something so important. He had already given me my ministry. It was there right in front of my face every single day. It was an amazing hardworking husband, a house full of beautiful children that He had led us to homeschool. It was a lifestyle that required a lot of work and time and that was my priority.

I began to really consider what I was asked to do and would ask myself, can I do this and still put my family first? What I found was that there were small things I could do. I could make a meal for a new mama because it was no extra work for me to make a bigger batch of something that I was already doing. I could work in the nursery on Sunday morning when someone was sick, I did not have to make a commitment to this. I could write a card to someone sick, I could be on a prayer chain.

Learning my priorities, keeping my family first, and helping as it worked in my life and being confident in this gave me the ability to say, “No” when I could see I was asked to do something that did not fit this criteria.

Nowadays, my life is not what it was and the ability to say yes can certainly happen more than it use to. It is good to remember that we can't do everything, be everything for everyone. We have to have boundaries. We have to have priorities and know that it is ok to say 'no' if it does not work for the season of life we are in.


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Meatball & Broccoli Cream Soup (YouTube)

I was going to make chili last week but instead decided to make a pot of meatball & broccoli cream soup. I used prepackaged frozen meatballs. I buy them from Costco and they are so versatile to have on hand. You can do a lot with them beyond spaghetti & meatballs and this is one example.

I made a short little YouTube tutorial on making this soup. Below the video is the complete recipe. Hope you enjoy!


Meatball & Broccoli Cream Soup

1lb frozen meatballs (homemade or store bought), defrosted enough to cut them in half
1lb frozen broccoli cuts
2 cups beef broth/stock
1 stick butter
1 medium onion, chopped
½ cup flour
3 cups milk
1 can corn (or 1 pint home canned as I used in the video)
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
salt & pepper to taste

In a 6 quart pot put meatballs and broccoli. Add beef stock, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 to 12 minutes or until the broccoli is tender and the meatballs heated through.

In a frying pan, melt butter. Add onion. Cook onion until soft. Add flour and stir well to combine. Add milk, stir well and bring to a boil. Let simmer until thick.

Add cream sauce to pot of meatballs & broccoli and stir. Add corn and cheese. Taste and add salt and pepper.

Serve and enjoy!