Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Wednesday Snap Shot

Wednesday Snap Shot is a quick peek into my week.

If you'd like to join in on my Wednesday Snap Shot.. copy and paste my post, add your answers (you can also copy the pic..BUT Please download the picture to your computer first.. do not just directly copy and paste.. otherwise you are using my bandwidth..thank you! :).. link your post to my blog and then come back and let me know you shared your week. I'll come and visit you and read about your homemaking week!! :)

So Far This Week
I had a super nice week. It was quiet in some ways. My son left to go see his sister in Sacramento. He was accompanying my daughter Hannah and her children. And she was very thankful to have him join her. She was going to go on her own, as her hubby had to work. In the end she was so grateful for his help. A 12 hour road trip with 4 children is not easy, especially if you are on your own! :)

While he was gone the house was quiet. It was just me and hubby. We enjoyed it but we also spent a good deal of time reminiscing about all the years of raising 8 children and the noise and activity, and energy. Being in our 50's now we enjoy the peace and quiet! :) but in so many ways we both miss the “good ol' days”.. :)

One thing about becoming an empty nester is that you realize the value of what you had more so and you know that God is opening new doors to a new season of life. And that season also has it's joys, they are just different now. I think it takes some time to adjust to it.

I was wishing I could have been there with them! But, I feel extremely blessed that my children all have a close relationship with each other and that they desire to spend time together.

Here are few pics of my grandchildren (and son) on their trip.

On My To-Do List
It's grocery shopping day and I'm finishing up my grocery list this morning before heading out.

I have a chicken to cook today. I'll cook it in my Instant Pot and then debone it and freeze in meal size portions.

I did a good cleaning of the house on Monday. But I have company coming soon and I need to go and remake the guest room beds (I've had a few kids visiting recently) and prepare for them all.

Other then that, it will be making something yummy for dinner! :) I'm thinking of using some of the chicken for enchiladas.

Projects I'm Working On
I started tackling my basement clean up. I have a nice size load ready to take to Good Will and I was able to throw away a lot of things.

One thing I have to say is I crave simplicity. Having things in my home that I don't use and that take up space robs me from the simplicity that I desire. Every time I take a load of usable items to Good Will I feel a lot of freedom and I always say a prayer that somebody, somewhere is blessed by the items and can use them.

My goal for this upcoming week is to keep working on this project and prepare another car load of items to donate.

Today's Weather
We've had some lovely summer days, but today... not so much. It's overcast and I'm not sure if it will clear up before the day is over. Living realitively close to the Pacific Ocean we can get a lot of marine air coming in the mornings. In the summer time this usually clears up by afternoon.

Today's High, 72 Low, 55

The View from my Deck (or window)

What I'm Reading
I love reading, but this week has had so much going on that I've really not tackled much reading. So, time to get back at it!

What I'm Listening To
I have a window open in my living room and I'm listening to the birds singing. I can also hear my hubby loading up car with the items to take to Good Will.

Something Frugal I've Done This Week
This is another frugal cleaning tip. I had a bathroom sink that was draining quite slow. And it was getting worse by the day. I did what I normally do when this happens. I sprinkled some baking soda down the drain and then followed that with pouring some vinegar down. It fizzed and bubbled and yucky stuff was spewing up. And that helped a lot, but it was not draining as well as I wanted. I then poured a teapot full of boiling water down, and that helped. Then I repeated it all again. And, like magic.. the drain was back to normal! :) I spent pennies to take care of this issue and did not have to buy expensive drain cleaners.

Fitness and Health for the Week
I wanted to do more.. but, don't we all have those weeks? I think it has been one of those weeks for me. I struggled to make sure I was eating my veggies and fruit, I've struggled to go above and beyond in exercising... and was not very successful at it. So, this week, it's time for me to get serious again!!

That is all for this week! Hope you all are having a great week.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Menu Monday!

We had a wonderfully nice hot weekend, but then I love the heat! :) It was hard to think about cooking and food when it was hot, but I managed to come up with a few meals for the week.

Tonight I'm making pulled pork sandwiches. I'll use one of my pork roasts that I have from the big roast I bought last week. I'll serve it with coleslaw and use up some cabbage I have for this. I may also make a bean side dish. Both the pulled pork and the beans will be cooked in my Instant Pot. A fruit salad on the side sounds like a nice summer meal.

Here what's on my menu for the rest of the week..

I'm thinking of putting my little toaster oven on the deck to cook my meatloaf in. It will keep my kitchen cooler. I'll cook up a few sweet potatoes (in my Instant Pot) and serve garlic bread and a salad on the side.

Summer Pasta
Can't remember where I first saw this recipe but I like it because it's easy and quick. I don't have an official recipe as I just kind of toss it all together shortly before dinner time.

I bring a large pot of water or chicken broth (or a combo of both) to a boil. I add to the boiling water pasta of my choice, cut up pieces of raw chicken, and veggies. I usually use what I have on had such as onion, peppers, zucchini, cut up carrots, kale, broccoli, etc. I add spices such as salt, pepper, seasoning salt, garlic, Italian seasonings, etc. I cook it until the pasta and chicken are done. Pour into a strainer to drain, and serve. Goes great with french bread and a salad.

I have a whole chicken that I'm also going to cook up this week and debone. I'll freeze the meat in meal size portions. I'm looking at a couple different recipes to use this with. If I need another meal then I'll pick one of these..

That should do it for us for the week.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Friday in the Kitchen

Friday in the Kitchen is about sharing some of the food I've been cooking in my kitchen recently.

Stretching Out Dinner
On my menu this week was Hawaiian BBQ Taco's. So I made them on Tuesday. They were delicious! We really enjoyed them. I started by making the pineapple slaw that goes with them. It was not only a meal that tasted it good it was pretty as well!

The slaw...

I used my Instant Pot to make the chicken. I found with the liquid amounts in this crockpot recipe I did not have to add any extra liquid to my IP. I used chicken thighs and cooked them for 12 minutes. They were perfect. I cut the recipe for the meat and sauce in half as I was only feeding 3 of us.

The tacos..

We ate up all the meat for dinner that night. So the next night I still had quite a bit of the slaw left and decided to make the same meal again only using pork. This worked well as I was cutting up a 15 pound pork roast for the freezer and used about 2 pounds of that for our dinner. I whipped up the same sauce and let the IP do it's magic :).

The tacos were just as wonderful with pork on the second night.

The third night, I had only a little slaw left and still had pork meat left. So this time I decided to make rice. I took some of the leftover coconut milk I had (from making the slaw) and cut up a couple green onions and chopped up some cilantro for this and cooked it in my IP.

I served the leftover pork with the rice smothered in the sauce for dinner. I made a green salad and topped our salad servings with the last of the slaw.

The flavors in these meals was so good and we enjoyed it for 3 nights with enough of a twist that we did not tire of it.

Tonight we are moving onto shrimp scampi (and finishing up the leftover coconut rice! :)

Coconut Rice in the Instant Pot

2 cups rice (I use the cup that came with the IP. It's a little larger then a standard cup, but using a standard cup with the recipe works too)
1t salt
2 green onions, sliced
2 to 3T chopped fresh cilantro
2 cups water (use the same cup you measured the rice with)
½ cup coconut (the type from the can)

Rinse your rice for a couple minutes in cold water. Put in the Instant Pot. Add salt, green onions, cilantro, water and coconut milk. Stir it around a bit. Put the lid on, turn the knob on the top to “Sealing”. Press the “Manual” button and sit the time for 10 minutes. When the time is up, let the rice sit for about 10 minutes before releasing pressure.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Wednesday Snap Shot

Wednesday Snap Shot is a quick peek into my week.

If you'd like to join in on my Wednesday Snap Shot.. copy and paste my post, add your answers (you can also copy the pic..BUT Please download the picture to your computer first.. do not just directly copy and paste.. otherwise you are using my bandwidth..thank you! :).. link your post to my blog and then come back and let me know you shared your week. I'll come and visit you and read about your homemaking week!! :)

So Far This Week
It's been a great week so far. The sun is finally shining and that makes any week a good one.. :) Summer might just be here in the PNW! We will see..

The other morning was warm and sunny and I stepped outside to enjoy my coffee on the deck and see my buck in the front yard. Made me smile, so I snapped a pic of him (I know I previously shared this on my FaceBook page, but it's too cute not to share again :)

Over the Father's Day weekend we had a few of the children come up to see dad, and others made phone calls and sent him messages. It was good to see my kids this weekend. Sierra came and brought hubby a mini cake.. German Chocolate, his favorite. He was happy. :)

Hubby and I have been enjoy the sunshine and spent time swimming in our pond.

On My To-Do List
Yesterday I was so happy to take a big load of things to Good Will. I have more to clean out, but this was the last of my loads of my upstairs. Today I think I may tackle some storage totes and see if I can come up with another load. My goal now is to reduce my stuff. We've lived in our home for 21 years and it's crazy how much you can accumulate over time. I desire simplicity, and reducing unused things is my current goal.

Aside from this, I have a few other things I want to take care of..

~mop kitchen floor
~clean and organize my laundry room, it's feeling a little crowded in there :)
~cut and freeze my pork roast that I bought yesterday

Projects I'm Working On
The storage totes as I mentioned above. I'm also ready to tackle my new guest room, but will patiently wait for my sister in law to come help me. This really is her area of expertise.. and she loves doing it. With the upstairs all cleaned out, I'll just have to wait for her schedule to coordinate with mine and then we will tackle it together.. :) And I'm truly grateful for her help and her willingness to come and spend time with me for this project.

Today's Weather
It's going to be another sunny day.  It feels good to dry out and see the blue skies. 

High, 74  Low, 49

The View from my Deck (or window)
It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood!  :)

What I'm Reading
I've not started a new book yet and instead spent more time reading my Bible. I finished Psalms and am almost done with Proverbs.

What I'm Listening To
It's a quiet summer morning, the kind I just love.  I have my door open and a few windows open.  I'm hearing a lot birds singing and there is a gentle breeze that is making my wind chime make it's happy sounds.  I love the peacefulness of it. 

Something Frugal I've Done This Week
Costco had pork shoulder/butt on sale for $1.99 a pound. It's a good price around here. This cut makes the best bbq pork and the most tender roasts. I bought 15lbs of it. I will cut it up into meal size portions and put it into freezer bags to freeze. Buying smaller cuts of meat can be more expensive. So, even though I don't have the same family size to feed as I use to, I still buy some things in large quantities and freeze them to take advantage of less expensive prices.

Fitness and Health for the Week
I'm making great progress in eating more veggies and fruits. And just incorporating more plant based foods into our diet. So, I'll just keep at it!

That is all for this week! Hope you all are having a great week.


Monday, June 19, 2017

Menu Monday!

I hope you had a good Father's Day. Ours was quiet, Sunday is a work day for my hubby. He had phone calls and visits from the kids and that was nice.

I made a nice dinner for him as well. It was not something I had originally planned, but I had everything on hand to make it. I made a pork loin roast, baked beans, macaroni salad and a green salad. I had a couple kids here to help us eat all the food, but still have enough for leftovers tonight.

Today is grocery shopping and running a few errands. It will be nice to just have to reheat dinner in the microwave this evening.

Here what's on my menu for the rest of the week..

Chicken Salad & Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
I plan on making a main dish chicken salad with lots of yummy greens and veggies. I'll marinate chicken breasts or thighs before grilling them for the salad.

Shrimp Scampi
It's a quick and easy meal to put together. I sautee garlic in butter and add a little lemon juice and my shrimp and cook for 2 or 3 minutes. Optionally I can add a little white wine and red pepper flakes if I'm in the mood. :) Toss it all with angel hair pasta and serve broccoli on the side.

I'm feeling the need for something more creative then just typical hamburger tacos. When I came across THIS recipe, I knew it was what I was looking for. So, I'll give it a try this week and see what we think.

That should do it for us for the week, as I should have plenty of leftovers.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Wednesday Snap Shot

Wednesday Snap Shot is a quick peek into my week.

If you'd like to join in on my Wednesday Snap Shot.. copy and paste my post, add your answers (you can also copy the pic..BUT Please download the picture to your computer first.. do not just directly copy and paste.. otherwise you are using my bandwidth..thank you! :).. link your post to my blog and then come back and let me know you shared your week. I'll come and visit you and read about your homemaking week!! :)

So Far This Week
It's so nice to back! It was a much needed break. Hubby and I enjoyed some vacation time as well. We headed south to the desert. Living in this waterlogged and cloudy part of the world we so enjoy just getting away and soaking up heat, sunshine and pool time. We also met up with friends of ours that are from England. We meet up with them yearly and always look forward to our visits. We stay in touch through the year with cards and phone calls, but in person visits can't be beat.

Me and Hubby enjoying that desert heat and sunshine...

Since I've been home I've spent time just working on getting things back in order and getting back on the reality track.

I also had a nice visit with my daughter Hannah and my grandbabies.

I have a few family pics to share with you this week....

My grandson William, has learned to ride his bike. He's very pleased with himself!

My daughter Sierra took this pretty picture of my granddaughter Elizabeth...

My daughter Hannah and her hubby...

And an updated pic of my daughter Emily with her hubby and baby...

On My To-Do List
I did not quite get my upstairs finished. I still have some piles of things to deal with and sort out what is garbage and what will be taken to the Good Will. I'll do that this afternoon. 

But I'll get to this job after enjoying coffee with my neighbor this morning.. :)

~swish through the bathroom
~make some dinner

Projects I'm Working On
As mentioned above, finish getting my upstairs all cleaned out and then I'll be ready to work on my next guest room.

Normally this time of year I'd be working on getting my garden in. I'm currently working through some vision issues and it is making some of the simplest things in life a challenge and that includes gardening. So due to that, I will not be planting a garden this summer. I'll miss it, but the break will be nice too. I'll have to start visiting the farmers market to get some fresh and local produce soon.

Today's Weather

High 70, Low 54  and cloudy

The View from my Deck (or window)
The clouds do look like they want to break up, maybe we'll see the sun today! :)

What I'm Reading
I finished The Last of the Mohicans just before leaving on vacation and have not started a new book yet. Still deciding what to read next.

I'm almost done with the book of Psalms in the Bible.

What I'm Listening To
My hubby removing the dishwasher.  We woke up to water leaking on the floor, it wasn't to bad but he decided to remove the dishwasher and take it to his shop to fix it.  I don't use it that much nowadays so I told him there's no rush on getting it fixed.

Something Frugal I've Done This Week
While this is a repeat, it is also an update. This week I started 2 more batches of orange vinegar cleaner (I talked about it in THIS post). I wanted to see what I thought of it before making more... and, well, I LOVE it! I love the citrusy smell, but more so I love the added boost that the natural orange oils (from the peels) give the cleaner. It does a great job of cutting through greasy stove tops and stuck on grime. I now use it for all my cleaning. I clean the kitchen and the bathroom with it and use it to mop my floors as well. I love how well it works and how frugal it is!
I also have a little tip to share if you are going to make this (or you do make this).  My hubby and I eat a lot of oranges in a week.  But I still end up needing to wait a couple days or so to have enough oranges to fill my quart jar (I find the peels from 3 large oranges fills a jar nicely).  So instead of waiting (I don't have a lot of patience for things like this :)..  I peel all my oranges at once and put the them in a plastic container in the fridge. I find they last for several days, and are ready to eat when we want them.  This way I have the peels I need to get my cleaner going.  The vinegar needs to mix with the oranges for a couple weeks (the longer it sits, the better it smells and the stronger the cleaner is). 

Fitness and Health for the Week
After a vacation of eating out for every meal it was good to come home and stock my kitchen with lots of fresh veggies and fruit and get back to homemade food. Eating out makes it hard to stick with a healthy diet.

My vision issues have made walking a challenge for me as well. I hope soon to be able to get back on track with this. In the meantime I plan to pull out my Leslie Sansone walking DVD's and get more steps in my day!

That is all for this week! Hope you all are having a great week.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Menu Monday! & Super Easy Lasagna Recipe

I'm baaacckk!! :) It was a wonderful break and just what I needed. Hubby and I had a little vacation time during my break and that was refreshing as well.

While I enjoyed my break and enjoyed eating out while on vacation, there is something so nice about homemade, home cooked food. I'm happy to be back to menu planning once again.

We did a little grocery shopping as soon as we got back home but only enough to last for a few days. Today is a big grocery shopping day, I need to get my fridge and pantry stocked up again.

Here is what I plan to make this week...

Lasagna, French Bread, Salad, Green Beans
This meal should be simple enough to put together when I get home from grocery shopping. I've posted my basic lasagna recipe below this weeks menu. I've been buying fresh green beans and they are so yummy. I cook them up in my Instant Pot with a little salt, pepper and butter. They make a yummy addition to any meal. I use any we have leftover to top my lunch salads.

Pork Stir Fry over Rice
I'll stir fry up lots of good fresh veggies & pork and serve over brown rice. I'll either a salad or some soup on the side.

One Pan Black Beans, Chicken & Rice
I'm using THIS recipe, only making a few changes. I'll be making my own black beans and using brown rice (which I'll cook in my IP). I'll serve biscuits and a green salad on the side.

Saucy Meatballs & Macaroni Salad
I'll use precooked, frozen meatballs for this. I plan to use the familiar chili sauce/grape jelly for the sauce mix. I'll serve homemade macaroni salad and roasted broccoli & carrots on the side.

That should do it for the week for us!

Healthy & Quick Lasagna
1 lb hamburger
1 onion, chopped
1jar (25oz approx) organic pasta sauce such as the brand Muir Glen
1 container (16oz) organic cultured cottage cheese
8 whole wheat lasagna noodles
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Here is how it is made
Begin by gathering together your ingredients


Put a frying pan on the stove to heat up.  


While it is getting hot, chop up your onion


Cook hamburger and onion until hamburger is no longer pink and onion is soft


Add pasta sauce and mix well



You will need a 13x9 pan to make this in.  Spray the pan with non-stick spray


Lay 4 uncooked noodles in the bottom of the pan


Spoon half the hamburger/pasta sauce mix over the noodles


Spoon half the cottage cheese over the hamburger/pasta sauce mix



Now cover with half the cheese


Start the process all over again beginning with the uncooked lasagna noodles and using up the rest of the ingredients and ending with the shredded mozzarella.


After you have covered the top with the last of the cottage cheese and mozzarella cheese you will need to cover it with foil.  If you want to prevent the cheese from sticking to the foil as it cooks and melts then spray your foil with non-stick spray first and then cover the lasagna.

Cook at 350 for about 1 hour.  Pull it out and stab it with a fork to make sure the noodles are soft.  If you need to cook it longer you can put it back in for another 15 minutes.  When the lasagna is done allow to cool for 20 to 30 minutes so it will firm up and be easier to serve.  Then enjoy!!  

Friday, June 9, 2017

Hands that Labor & Love

Father's Day is right around the corner.  I posted this last year in honor of all hard working, loving and caring dad's out there...  

My hubby has been working very hard this spring on our homestead. He also works a full time job and commutes 45 minutes each way to work. His weeks are often very long.

Last winter we had a huge tree fall during a storm. This spring he began to clean up the tree. The tree was so big it will provide all our firewood for this year and much of what we will need for next year. It has been a big project. He has just kept working at it day by day. Sawing the limbs off one by one, bringing the wood up closer to the house and then cutting it up and splitting it by hand.

The other day he said to me that his hands were aching a bit and could I rub them. I of course did. And as I rubbed his hands I just started noticing them even more so. They feel rough and have cuts and callouses from the work he has been doing. I spent time thinking about those hands.

These are the hands that work a job to provide for us. The hands that work our homestead to keep it looking nice, to make improvements, to gather in the firewood each year. The hands that have remodeled parts of our home, built chicken coops and repaired an old barn. The hands that fix the cars when needed, the hands that have fixed broken toys and bicycles for children, fixed broken equipment, lawn mowers, string trimmers, even microwaves, ovens, dishwashers, washing machines, dryers and the list could go on.

Those strong hands are also the hands that have held our newborn babies, wiped tears and hugged crying children, cleaned up messes that little ones made, changed a lot of diapers over the years and taught children how to drive a stick shift and change a tire on their car before letting them get a drivers license. Hands that today hold his grandchildren's hands as they come here to visit and see Grandpa.

They are also the hands that have held me when I cried, wiped my tears, held my hand while we walk, given me amazing back rubs, hands that wrap me in his arms and whisper “I love you”. Hands that have cared for me when I was sick, hands that have loved me and our family in many ways through many years.

Hands that show to me all the labor and all the love that comes from his heart. Much of life can be seen through our hands.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Hamburger Mix for the Freezer

Cook food up a head of time for the freezer is so helpful.  When I don't want to fuss with putting complete meals in the freezer I will make up "Freezer Mixes".    These are made of cooked meats and seasonings that can be used in various meals.  

This post shows how I make "Hamburger Mix".  This mix is very versatile.  You can use it to make chili, tacos, soup, spaghetti....  and more!   

For this tutorial I used 3lbs of hamburger to make my Hamburger Mix recipe (this is one of the recipes from my ebook Freezer Cooking with Meal Starters). 

The original recipe calls for using 5lbs of hamburger.  I added a quart of my home canned red beans to stretch the meat out. The original recipe (posted below) uses just hamburger.   Here is what I did…

I cut my pepper (I used a red pepper because that is what I had on hand) and onion. Then gathered the rest of the ingredients..

I cooked up the hamburger and veggies until the meat was done cooking and the veggies were soft. Then added the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes..

Then added my jar of beans, stirred it up and set it aside to cool. After it had cooled down I divided the mix into 5 zip lock bags. I put about 2 ½ cups of mix in each bag. This is equivalent to 1lb of cooked hamburger (1lb of cooked hamburger measures 2 ½ cups).

I then put the mix into the freezer. Hamburger Mix can be used in spaghetti, casseroles, soups, etc.. anything that calls for a pound of cooked hamburger.

This recipe is from my ebook, Freezer Cooking with Meal Starters:

Hamburger Mix
Crystal Miller

5 lbs. ground beef
1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3 t. chopped garlic
3 t. salt
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce

Cook ground beef, onion and green pepper until beef is no longer pink and veggies are soft. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Divide into 5 containers. There will be 2 ½ plus cups of mix per bag. Label bags and freeze.