Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Country Kids' Swimming Pool

We love our country life.  Swimming right out the back door in the reservoir.  That's how we spent our afternoon, the one where the thermometer read 103 on the chicken coop.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Answer Me This: Ice Cream Edition

I'm playing along with Kendra from Catholic All Year again.  And it looks like this will be the last week for awhile; she just had a baby girl.  If you're into birthing stories, hers is pretty fun to read because she ACCIDENTALLY HAD THE BABY AT HOME.

So, here's getting to know me better than you'd like.

1. What's your favorite grocery store splurge?

I'm a pretty frugal person when it comes to groceries.  I shop at Aldi and clip coupons for everything else.  Recently, Amber's been asking for Annie's Organic shells and white cheddar macaroni and cheese.  Come on, $2.42 for a box that serves 3 people.

 Lucky for her, I found a similar item at Aldi:  Simply Nature Organic shells and white cheddar and it's only $1.39/box.  Is that a splurge?  In my book, yes!

2. How's your penmanship?

Remember the grading system in grade school.

E = Excellent
G = Good
S = Satisfactory
N = Needs Improvement
U = Unsatisfactory

I'm pretty sure I got an "S" in penmanship many years in a row.

3. Do you have a "Summer Bucket List?"

Not a list on paper titled "Summer Bucket List", but we do talk privately about summer plans and then put a few things on the calendar before it fills up with all the other to do's.  This summer we wanted to go to a Rafter's Baseball game (check), tubing/kneeboarding (check), fishing on Lake Arrowhead (check), stand-up paddle board (check) and a big bike ride (still thinking on that one and trying to figure out bikes/carriers for all 9 of us).  In past years we wrote our ideas on a sticky note and stuck it to the fridge calendar.  It kept us on track and doing all the things we had set out to do that summer.  I'm not sure why we stopped that method because it worked well.  I'd even catch kids adding ideas to the sticky note.

4. What's the best thing on the radio right now?

Talk radio.  I love it.  Relevant Radio, WFHR, Rush (in small doses), Dave Ramsey, a little bit of Bob and Tom when they're not too crude.

5. Ice cream or frozen yogurt?

Definitely ice cream.  Soft serve chocolate.  Hand dipped mint chocolate chip, butter pecan, turtle praline, peanut butter cup.  I really like chunks in ice cream.  I have nothing against frozen yogurt, I've just never gotten into it.

For more answers from random bloggers please check out Kendra's blog and link-up.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Canning.....Small Batch Style

Pressure Canning.  If any old-fashioned kitchen task can elicit fear, This is it.  I've heard many stories about pressure canners blowing up, spewing glass shards and bits of vegetables, meat, or even rice into the light fixtures, ceiling tiles and kitchen crevices.  As one such story goes:  when the granddaughter (my old boss) was cleaning out the home for sale after the grandparents had passed, they found hardened grains of rice still in the kitchen light fixture from a canning incident occurring over 40 years earlier.  That's enough to scare any new homesteader.  Admittedly, I was apprehensive when I first started canning.  I made many calls to grandma for advice and kept my manual in my hand throughout the ENTIRE canning process.

Well, one of the reasons it seemed so daunting a task to can was that everyone talked of canning 100 quarts of tomatoes, 80 quarts of pickles, 75 quarts of applesauce.  What?  I could hardly get in a shower and a shave before some emergency over a couch cushion fort cut it short.  How would I ever accomplish such a task as canning with children in the house?

My answer is:  Small Batch canning

I like spending lots of time in the kitchen.  I like canning.  I like preserving our extra garden produce for cold winter days.  I really like canning huge amounts of anything.  But this mama doesn't always get what she likes.  She has to settle for short bouts in the kitchen.  That's where small batch canning comes into play.  And when I say small I mean sometimes only ONE jar.  Does that sound crazy?  Yes!  Does one jar take long to can?  No.  So if you find yourself yearning to try canning, but are a little apprehensive about the process or feel like there's no way you can commit the time for typical canning, then this is for you.  It works especially well for water bath canning.  Now this is not a post about the canning process.  You can find lots of information at your University Extension office.  I am writing this to encourage you to try canning even if it's only one jar at a time.

Itching to begin the canning season, I headed outside to grab some of this.

 And then picked these.
Boston picklers 
 And then I made this ONE jar of Garlic Dill Pickles.  Sometimes this is all the time I can commit to canning.  And I'm OK with that.

Give canning a try.  Small Batch canning fills the shelves, just a bit slower.

What's your favorite food to can?  Any stories you'd like to share?  I'd love to read them.

For more of my posts on canning/food preservation click here.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Zucchini Season Has Arrived

See the bumblebee pollinating?
I've been getting zucchini for two weeks now.  I never tire of entering the garden and finding zucchini of all sizes hiding under those giant leaves.  Peter goes with me most days and counts the "bigenough?" ones before giving them a twist freeing them from the stem.  Then he counts the "not yet, mom?" zucchinis before traipsing back to the house with his shirt full of dark green bounty that he has NO intention of eating.  My mind starts running through the list of recipes I could make.  But, I save out a few of the smallest ones for sauteing in olive oil.  A fried egg with sauteed zucchini makes for the best breakfast and really sticks with me; keeps the snacking to a minimum.

So, if you have a basket full of zucchini waiting to become a delicious treat, start shredding and try one of these yummy recipes.

This first one is from the blog Pattitudes.  Cranberry Zucchini Bread - this is so yummy and very moist.  We like the tartness of cranberries so I leave them whole and use 2 level cups.  A single recipe makes either two large loaf pans or 4 smaller loaf pans.

Zucchini-Chocolate Chip Muffins - I've been making these for 5 years (my recipe was printed in 2010).  They are so tasty, but what isn't when it's chock full of mini chocolate chips.

See those "bigenough" zucchini, shred those; save the little ones for sauteeing

What do you do with all your garden zucchini?  Please share.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Answer Me This: Superhero Edition


Kendra at Catholic All Year has this fun little game where she asks random questions and then answers them herself before letting her readers answer them.  Since I've recently revisited my blogging, I thought I'd play along.  For her answers to her random questions check out her blog.  If you want to read my answers, well keep reading and if you want to read random answers from random bloggers follow the links at Kendra's blog.

Here's to getting to know me better than you'd like.

1. What's currently on your To Do list?

There's always the typical:  pick-up stuff around the house, tame the laundry monster, make food in large quantities.  Other than that, today I need to find old sheets to cover my garden, vacuum the sand out of the van, water flowers, vacuum hallway and my bedroom, make treat for Baseball players.

2. Better type of superhero: magic/radioactive powers? Or trauma/gadgets/hard work?

If given a test to match superhero pictures with their names I could probably do all right.  Their power?  Their rival?  My knowledge doesn't go that deep.  So I'd have to say hard work because it always pays off in the end.

3. Finding out if baby is a boy or a girl before birth: Good idea? Bad idea?

I really do like the element of surprise.  We didn't know with our first.  Like Kendra, I enjoy the old-fashioned delivery room announcement of "It's a boy" or "It's a girl".  However, with each consecutive baby we knew the gender.  I have a blood antigen issue so we have multiple ultrasounds and even for the lay person it's pretty obvious at 37 weeks if it's a boy or girl.  With some of the babies we got gender confirmation from our doctor, one we didn't want to know but the doctor slipped up and used the gender appropriate pronoun, and with a couple of them we self-determined and were right.

4. Have you ever appeared on a stadium jumbotron?

Simply put.....NO!  But, Sam is reading over my shoulder and he just told me about the time he was on the Jumbotron at Monster Jam.

5. Are you more book smart or more street smart?

It depends on the situation.  I think I've always had more book smarts than street smarts.  And with homeschooling, it's like getting a refresher course every year.  I've now learned Wisconsin history 5 times.  Once when I was in 4th grade and another 4 times with my kids.  And guess what?  I get to do it 3 more times, but it'll be a while.  Algebra 1 and 2?  Done that multiple times, too.  Like I said new refresher courses every year.

Street smarts have obviously come with age, experience and wisdom.  The more one has to attend to emergency situations the better prepared they become to deal with them.  I also have a husband who is very street smart (and book smart) so I can usually fake my street smarts by asking him first and then going with his plan.

I'm linking up with Kendra's Answer Me This post.

Boundary Waters 2015

The three oldest headed to the Boundary Waters.  It's year 6 for Emily and year 5 for Nick.  Amber is making her maiden voyage.  Woohoo!  They've been going with some family friends.  Each year the group is a bit different, the core group staying the same.  This year they headed off with the maximum size group of 9.  That's how many are allowed at one campsite.  Four of the 9 are "newbies" so I'm looking forward to lots of stories.  For a look back at 2011 click here.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Pioneer Life

Packing for camp, driving to camp, driving home, wondering how much fun child is having at camp, driving to camp, picking up child from camp and then returning home.  We do this numerous times each summer as each child heads to one camp or another.  In all the years we've never ventured from this routine until this year.

After picking up Sam from camp we headed to Pepin for an afternoon of exploring the pioneer life.  We had planned on having a picnic lunch along the way and happened upon the perfect place - Caddie Woodlawn's homestead and wayside.  Have you read about Caddie?  She's a real pioneer girl who lived in Wisconsin during the late 1800's.  Such a great story.  Anyway, we stopped at her homestead and had our picnic lunch.  I only took a couple pictures before my camera broke.  It just stopped focusing - still working on finding a repair shop.  Do those even exist anymore?  Or are electronics just use up and throw away?

There's something about a lichen and fungus covered, ant infested tree stump.  It attracts the kids every time.

Little girls in dresses running across large grassy lawns......so cute.

This is the original homestead.

And then the camera broke.  The end.

Not really.  Then we headed to Pepin to visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder museum, stopped by Villa Bellezza for a glass of wine.  Then off to the Mississippi River/Lake Pepin for a little fishing and to watch the sailboats.  Once everyone was hydrated and changed into clean clothes we headed home.

It's summertime in Wisconsin and we're enjoying every minute.

Do you have any Wisconsin hotspots?  Please share.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

3 Years.......How Can That Be?

So, my attempts at getting back into the blogging rhythm have failed twice. Three time's a charm?? Last time I wrote here Peter was our baby and he wasn't quite 1. Now he's 3 1/2 and Maria is the baby. She's almost 2. I'm not feeling like my writing fingers are in full swing so I'll share a few pictures to get things started. 

I made these end of the year "magazine covers" for each of the kids. What fun to interview them; they all have such distinct personalities.


I originally saw this idea at Shower of Roses.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving - 1 Year Later

I'm so glad to be back in the blogging world.  I've been wanting to get back at it for some time now, but thought it would be fun to start back exactly one year since my last post.  So I had to wait for Thanksgiving to make that happen.  I'll be blogging about all the same things as in the past:  family, homeschooling, celebrating the liturgical year, food with a few new twists thrown in. 

Pinterest....I resisted it, knowing I'd be hooked, until one day about a month ago.  I wanted to look up the recipe for a powdered laundry detergent which I received a sample of from a friend.  She had commented in passing that she found it on Pinterest.  I reluctantly typed pinterest.com into my address bar and the rest is history.  I've been pinning like crazy.  In my defense, I've also been doing like crazy.  What I love about Pinterest is that a picture is tagged to all the links making it so easy to find the craft I pinned last week that I'm ready to make now.  In the past I would add links to my favorites bar and they would get lost in a sea of words.  I'd click on every link that had the word turkey in it before I'd find the right craft.  By the time I located the directions my crafter would be on to other things and we'd end up forgetting about it.  Not with Pinterest.  I just pop onto my boards and scroll through until I find the pic and then click over to the original post and voila!  we are ready to get busy.  That was a long way of saying that each week I'll be doing a post called "How Pinterest Got Me Through The Week".  I'll highlight the crafts, recipes and home decor ideas I try with a quick review.  I wish I had been taking pics of all the things we've done already.  Some hot and some NOT. 

And lastly Happy Thanksgiving!  I have so much to be thankful for this year.  Of course there's the new little guy who's not so new anymore.  He'll be 1 in just a few weeks.  I'll introduce him in his own post.  But so many other things as well:  family, health, home addition.  I'm leaving you with a lovely prayer from the Magnificat magazine.
Happy Thanksgiving from MAGNIFICAT

Dear Friends,

We wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

In celebration of this beautiful holiday, we would like to share with you the following Thanksgiving Day blessing and litany that you might like to pray with your family and loved ones.
Most merciful Father,
your gifts of love are countless
and your goodness infinite.
On this Thanksgiving Day we come before you
with gratitude for your kindness:
open our hearts to concern for others
so that we may share your gifts
of loving service with all your people.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Litany of Thanksgiving
Response: We thank you, O Lord.
This is a day to thank God for all his many blessings in our lives. With gratitude we now say:
For the love of God, for faith, family, and friends: R/
For joys, successes, achievements, and accomplishments: R/
For health, safety, work, and rest: R/
For struggles, sorrows, trials, and sufferings: R/
For our jobs, for those who support us, for our education, and for the chance to serve: R/
For our gifts, talents, and abilities, for honors, for strength and energy: R/
For our homes, for food, warmth, and shelter, for all the things that have made us happy: R/
For our hobbies and pets, for happy memories, for our favorite things, for leisure and relaxation: R/
For our nation, for freedom and peace, for teachers, leaders, and those who give us good example: R/
For the ability to say "I'm sorry," for the grace of repentance, for the forgiveness of others, for the generosity of others: R/
For good advice, for financial security, for the trust others put in us, for tenderness, understanding, and compassion: R/
For kindness, goodness, joy, and laughter, for the times we have helped others or made them happy: R/
For all the wonders of creation, for beauty, music, sports, and art, for new opportunities and second chances: R/
For failures and rejection, for all the ways we have grown up and become better people: R/
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be for ever.
Thank you for being a faithful member of the MAGNIFICAT family.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
*Adapted from "A Thanksgiving Day Grace"
in Blessing Prayers: Devotions for Growing in Faith
by Fr. Peter John Cameron, o.p.
Blessing Prayers

As always don't forget the cranberries.