Thursday, April 10, 2014

Snail Cupcakes for Spring!

I'm no Martha Stewart, but I do love baking and I'm trying my hand at cake decorating. You can learn so much from YouTube for free!

My youngest son's homeschool science class has Snail Olympics every year. I volunteered to bring a snack for the event. These snail cupcakes went over very well!

roll out a small piece of fondant. Tapering at one end.

next, smash down on each side of the fat end for the front bottom of the body

next roll out a long piece. Flatten at the fat end and taper at the other.

roll starting at the tapered end. Keep a little shelf at the flat end.
add to the body of the snail. Press a little to adhere. Cut some
flower stamens from the cake decorating area to make antennas.
I also used a toothpick to poke little indentions on the body
of the snail.
flower stamens

I made a few white mushrooms from the fondant

I added some grass with a grass tip and icing. Put a little
crumbled up oreo cookie for dirt and put the rest of the items.
I used a little edible paint to make the shell. I sprinkled
it with a little edible iridescent powder. I also painted a
little trail of corn syrup sprinkled with iridescent powder for
the snail trail behind it.

you can see the corn syrup "snail trail" a little better in this picture.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

How the Lord Protected Us

Doesn't it seem like there are just relentless attacks of the Enemy that come in quick bursts? It seems that our family is being targeted. The Enemy would like nothing better than to neutralize us as Christians. We are ineffective for the kingdom if we are busy nursing our wounds. We must be ever vigilant of these attacks. We also must stand against these attacks and tell Satan where he can go. He has no authority over us.

Monday, March 24, 2014 at 11:00 we were targeted for attack. Death may have been the ultimate goal of our Enemy. But God...  God intervened and spared our lives.

We were coming from visiting my dear Mamon in the nursing home who has just herself fought a serious health battle and won. I saw her looking better than she had in a long time. We had a lovely visit, took pictures and gave lots of smooches. I always knew she loved me and I am so grateful that I got the opportunity to tell her how much I love her. I don't know that I will see her again on this side of heaven.

We stayed with our friends and had a lovely but brief visit. We only stayed overnight and left on Monday because we had a long list of responsibilities awaiting us at home. My son wanted to drive back on I-10. I agreed because he was a fairly new driver and I knew that it would give him some good experience and I could give him some good tips as we drove back. He was doing well. We made it from Sulphur almost all the way through Beaumont when disaster struck.

We were travelling in the right lane getting ready to go over a high overpass over a ravine. There was traffic merging onto I-10 right before this bridge. A large white double-cab work truck full of workers was merging onto I-10 without looking to see if the lane was clear. Everything happened in an instant although it felt like forever. I saw what was about to happen and looked to left to see if my son could escape. I saw another white truck in the far left lane behind us. I didn't think we had enough room to swerve in front of him. I knew we were trapped. The next second we were hit by the work truck. I can't recall the actual sequence of events. But I remember feeling like we swerved for what seemed an eternity. We hit the concrete barrier on the left at some point. I felt like we were in a pinball machine. It felt so unreal. Like we were in a movie. I kept thinking, "this isn't real". I remember trying to reach over to grab the steering wheel to help Lucas. A massive jolt prevented me from doing this. All of the sudden, we were spinning. I saw oncoming traffic on I-10 coming toward us. I knew we were in trouble. The first thing that comes out of my mouth is "Jesus". I hear Lucas repeating "Jesus". I say it a second time. I hear Lucas say something like "It's going to be OK." and our car comes to a sudden stop in the grass alongside of I-10 along the steep embankment of the overpass. The front of the car is facing I-10, but we are safely off of the freeway. I tell Lucas to pull the emergency brake and turn off the car. Smoke is inside the car and it smells strongly of burnt rubber. I try my door and it won't open. The boys exit their side of the vehicle and I crawl over the driver's seat and get out. I almost fall down because the embankment is so very steep. I can hardly stand. I look over and see the concrete-lined ravine below the bridge. I check the boys and they are fine. I can't catch my breath.

We just start hugging, kissing and telling each other we love each other. I am praising God right there on the side of I-10 for his protection. I don't care who sees. A kind lady with a small child in the back seat rolls down her window and asks if we are OK. Immediately, we are surrounded by three amazing witnesses who stopped their vehicles and are checking on us. God bless those precious people! We check over the car and see that the front driver's side wheel is completely gone. Not just the tire, but the entire wheel. As near as we can figure, it hit the edge of the bridge as we were spinning and was ripped off. It is holding onto the grass and dirt like a claw. We see a tire at the bottom of the steep embankment, but we aren't sure if it is ours. There are dents on both sides and the rear corner of the vehicle. The trunk is open. The airbags never deployed. One of our suitcases was tossed from the vehicle and lay on the side of I-10 about a foot from our vehicle. Nothing else is missing from our trunk which was full of suitcases, air mattress and other items. The glass candles I was carrying in the trunk never even broke. Amazing!

I can feel my neck already hurting. That isn't a good sign. Zack says the middle of his back hurts and Lucas complains about one of his shoulders and neck. No bruises or bleeding.

We look westward down I-10 about 1/4 of a mile and see the work truck that hit us. We can see the workers getting out of the car and checking on the vehicle. Suddenly, one of our witnesses yells "They are leaving!". The workers got back in their truck and left the scene of the accident without checking on us. I can't believe it. At this point, about three minutes after the accident, three very kind Beaumont police officers show up. The three witnesses give their information and leave. One of our witnesses tells us and the police that the vehicle that hit us is from one of two companies. How does he know this? One of our witnesses has to go to Houston where his mom is at the doctor. He says he will keep an eye out for this vehicle and call us if he sees it. (He calls later to say he arrived in Houston without seeing the vehicle.) I call my husband to tell him about the accident. He's on his way to us. He has an hour and a half drive before he sees us.

The police officers offered to take us to a nearby hotel. We took what we could from the trunk and put it in the back of the police car. We climb into the bare, uncomfortable plastic seat of the police vehicle. This is the first (and hopefully last) time any of us have ever been in the back of a police car. As we are driving up to the road to the hotel, the gravity of what happened hit me like a ton of bricks. We could have plunged into the ravine below and been killed. We could have been hit by other vehicles on I-10. We could have been seriously injured. I am overcome with gratefulness for God's protection of us and I start crying in the back seat of the police car. Lucas was sitting next to me and put his arm around me to comfort me. I assure him it is tears of thankfulness.

The police officers arranged with the front desk for us to stay in the lobby until my husband arrives. The hotel is very gracious. We hug all of the officers because we are so grateful for their kindness. One of the police officers comes back to the hotel after the car was safely towed and gave us all the information regarding where it was towed and our police report number. He told us "I don't want to scare you, but we see this kind of accident all the time and it usually involves several other vehicles plowing into the first vehicle that has spun out. I don't know how you avoided other collisions." I tell him "God protected us." 

Lucas has some scratches on his arm. We figured out is was from my fingernails as I tried to grab the wheel to help him gain control of the vehicle. We get a good laugh about that. Other than that, we had no broken bones, bruises or cuts.

I call my friend Laura and ask her to pray and have a friend look in on our dog. She prays with me and listens as I tell her how God spared our lives that day. I am so thankful for my prayer warrior friend.

The boys and I try to reconstruct the accident. Each of us remembers certain parts of the accident, so together we come up with the picture of what might have happened. Of course, we won't know this side of heaven. I can tell you that we had angels round about that vehicle and Jesus inside that vehicle with us.

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. Matthew 18:20

In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. Psalm 18:6

He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. Psalm 18:17

The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread? Psalm 27:1

As soon as Greg arrived, we told him about the accident. We drove over to the tow place where our vehicle was. We took pictures and took everything out of the vehicle. It was totaled and we were never going to see it again.
front driver's side wheel was completely torn off

driver's side where we hit the concrete barrier

banged up

passenger side of the vehicle where we were struck. Note the angle of the back bumper.
The police said they saw the underside of the vehicle when it was towed and the frame was bent.

The next day, I am driving Lucas to school in his vehicle. I don't want him driving yet. I'm jumpy but OK. As I'm driving back, I am suddenly aware that I am running a red light. It looked green but suddenly it is red. I look in my rear-view mirror and see another vehicle stopped at the intersection where I just was and one coming from the opposite side. Clearly something isn't right. I am praying myself home. I find my mind wandering and I'm losing chunks of time. I use rhyming words instead of the word I want to use. I had some fuzzy vision in my right eye and my right sinus cavity feels pressure. My dear Laura comes to my rescue again and drives me to the doctor. X-rays reveal whiplash. My primary care physician chalks the time loss and loss of concentration to post concussion syndrome and says it will all be better in a week. X-rays later reveal that Lucas also has whiplash. Zack was spared this diagnoses. We are all in chiropractic care. Our doctor feels confident that we will be back to normal very soon. I'm driving again but I always take someone with me and call out the color of the light I see before going through an intersection. It feels ridiculous, but it works. So far, no errors.

The PTSD is real and hard after an accident like this. Closing your eyes and seeing the scenes of the accident playing over and over in your head is unnerving. I couldn't sleep well after the accident. I am overcome by emotion at odd times. I am aggravated at my husband when I think he is being dismissive and isn't being sensitive about how I am feeling. I can't even imagine how hard PTSD must be for our soldiers coming back. They have seen and experienced so much worse. Lord bless them and heal them!

Yes, we are all OK. Yes, vehicles can be replaced. Yes, the Lord will restore us to better than before. But this is all so very fresh and raw. I'm giving myself time to process and heal. It will come. It isn't fair that someone injures us and gets away with it. They stole our vehicle and our health. "Vengeance is mine" saith the Lord. They will get away with nothing.

I pray that someone in that vehicle have a change of heart and turn themselves in. They need to pay for what they did. Only a coward runs away from his responsibilities. I am thankful for those good witnesses that stopped and made sure we were OK and stayed with us until the police came. They all had somewhere to be but stopped for us. Although there was an entire truck filled with cowards, there was an entire interstate filled with righteous and caring people. God's blessing on you all.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Drip Irrigation Installation or How I Found Out I Have No Perserverance

I am the proud owner of a drip irrigation system. My husband and youngest son were amazing at designing and implementing it. Me? Ummmmm... I gave up twice in Lowe's while shopping for the system and once at home when it was being installed. Ughhh... it was a pain in the rear to design and install. No getting around it. We came up against several obstacles, the least of which was NOT me. I'm usually not such a "giver upper", but this thing ate my lunch. I'm thankful for the perseverance of my family. My husband designed and then redesigned it several times while standing in the store. That isn't the way I roll. He's more flexible. I am a rigid pole in the middle of cement. I want things planned out. He can successfully fly by the seat of his pants if need be. We made probably 84 trips to Lowe's because we forgot stuff, or something broke, or I got the wrong drip head. Well, that is an exaggeration. Probably more like 4. But it felt like 84. I was so very glad when it was all done. Now, it is like a miracle that my garden gets watered automatically every morning even before my eyes open. I don't think I will ever sell my house now. I can't even stomach the idea of having to do this again. If we do have to do this again, I am going to Rhonda's house and stay for a few days. One thing that may come back to bite us is that we dug through our "Forest Floor" landscaping. I may end up having to layer newspaper over where we dug and put another layer of chopped up trees this fall. I will see how we fare this summer. It would have been smart to do all the digging before doing our "Forest Floor" landscaping, but that's the way it all happened, so we will deal with the consequences later (if, in fact, there are any).

We dug a trench to hide the pipe in

The "T" for each bed.
The closeup of the connection in each bed
My husband showing each connection that is buried in each bed

The flexible line that is on top of each bed

We had to use a heat gun to fit the pieces together

closeup of each bed. We have a 1 gallon drip head in each square.
In the two beds that stay shady and wetter, we put adjustable heads. Because
the flexible hose on the top was so curly, we ended up affixing it in place
to the floating divider wood on top with zip-ties.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Throwing a Tantrum or How This Homeschool Mom Feels about Graduating Her First Child

Yup... this picture about sums it up.

I am a homeschool momma with a High School graduate this year. I am happy for him and all the adventures he will have. I am excited to see all that he will become with the talents our Lord has given him. I am happy to say I have successfully homeschooled my eldest son for eleven years and not totally screwed him up. *fist pump* At the same time, I am so very sad to lose my oldest son to the world. The world that doesn't understand and cherish him the way I do. The world that doesn't marvel at his brilliance and wit. The world that doesn't appreciate all the hard work he puts into everything he does. I want to kick the world's butt.

My eldest is doing dual credit courses at our local community college. He's doing very well. He also has a job at a local restaurant. He was recently promoted and is the youngest person at the restaurant to hold this job. We are so proud of his work ethic. He saved his money and purchased a very nice and reliable vehicle all on his own. He's driving himself to work and school. I rarely see him now and I MISS HIM! How many times have I read something funny and go to tell him and realize he isn't here. I know the whole empty nest thing is coming. I'm getting a taste of it now. I'm not so sure I like it one bit. Nope.

My only saving grace is my youngest son. He's three years behind his brother in age. I also am helping a friend homeschool her young teen son and her five-year old. It's a wonderful thing to have someone to pour my time, attention and love into. I think I am driving the five year old crazy with all my pictures. I realized too late that I should have taken more pictures!

Oh, and then there is going through all the pictures from the beginning of our homeschooling until now. Gulp. That'll get you.

Our family photographer, Sheree, took some amazing Senior pictures of my young man. They are gorgeous! I have to share just a few of my favorites.

Here are the Laundromat pictures:

Here are the guitar pictures in the park behind our house:

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

How to make a prop fountain for Prom or Homecoming or other event

I know you are going to think I'm crazy, but I was desperate last year when putting together a formal for our homeschool teens. I had a shoestring budget. Our theme begged for a fountain, but the budget said "no". I don't like it when the budget says no. I found a way.

First off, I found someone who was giving away one of those sand turtles. I just needed the bottom. I cut off the little knobs that secure the top.

I found a large plastic bowl and some large containers with screw off tops at the Dollar Store. I also found an ugly angel at the thrift store.

Next, I spray painted everything with some special Plastic Spray in a neutral shade. Grey would have been smarter, but I used what I had.

I used epoxy glue to secure each of the screw lidded jars and the large bowl together. It is important to use screw lids so that the fountain can be taken apart for delivery.

Also, we had to deal with the feet and head of the turtle. I made some rocks by lightly crumpling some dollar store aluminum foil. Covering it with paper mache' (paper towels stuck on with a flour/water mixture). Spray painted them with various shades of brown, grey and black spray paint. We glued those around the existing feet and head bumps to hide them.

Then we used epoxy glue to secure an extension cord. I don't think it was necessary, but it was nice to have at the time.

We sprayed everything down with a stone look spray paint. I also took some brown antiquing medium (at Hobby Lobby) and went over the cracks to give it some age. I also used various green and brown paint and ragged it on to mimic dirt and algae. We spray painted the feet and head of the turtle in the colors of the rocks.

I stuck some inexpensive ferns in the holes left over when we cut off the knobs that secured the lid.

We lined the bottom with crumpled foil. Put some twinkle lights over the foil and covered it all with blue cello wrap from the party store. My partner in crime, Antoinette, decided that it would be better if we covered the wire between each light with foil. It think it made a world of difference and would recommend doing this. Here is the finished product.



Monday, January 27, 2014

Easier cooking for busy days

Since we decided to homeschool with some dear family friends, it seems that the day flies by. I'm not complaining, mind you. It has been an honor and a privilege to share this responsibility with their mom. I am committed to helping my friend homeschool her boys as she goes through nursing school. While I am physically at home with my students, we are so busy that time goes by so fast now. I turn around and it is supper time! I love my crockpot and it has saved me these past few weeks. However, I feel there is a better way to utilize it.

My goal is to be able to cook twice during the workweek and get several meals out of it. I want to utilize my crockpot or cooking ahead as much as I can. I am assuming your crockpot automatically goes to "warm" after its cooking cycle. If yours doesn't, run out and get one! Here is my revised busy life monthly menu for Winter:

BUSY LIFE WINTER MENU updated on 2/27/14
WEEK #1:

Shopping List for week 1:
Produce:  1 yellow onion, 5 cloves garlic, parsley, thyme, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, fresh salad greens, fresh carrots, cucumber, green onions, tomato
Dairy: sour cream, 8 oz cheddar cheese, butter
Meat: 4 lb. roast, 2 whole chickens (you can also get 2 rotisserie chickens), 1 lb. smoked sausage
Frozen: baby broccoli, chopped carrots, peas
Baking Aisle: rosemary, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, brown sugar, cinnamon, flour, yeast, chicken stock (1 meal), cornstarch
Condiment: Worcester sauce, croutons
Dry goods: Basmati rice, noodles (enough for two meals), plastic zipper bags

The weekend before:
Grocery shop for needed ingredients. Chop yellow onion and freeze it in a plastic zipper bag. Slice the cucumber, chop the tomato, chop the parsley, chop the green onions, shred the cheese. All go in separate plastic bags in the fridge. Cut each of the 3 cloves of garlic in half. Stuff the roast with the garlic.  Cook two chickens in the oven if you won't be home during the day this week. Prior to cooking, sprinkle the chicken with rosemary, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes at 350 degrees. You can also purchase 2 rotisserie chickens.

On Monday morning:
Throw Roast into crockpot, half of frozen chopped onions and 1/4 cup of water, Worcester sauce, hot sauce, onion powder, garlic powder, pepper (add salt right before serving). High 6-8 hours or Low 10-12 hours.
Throw ingredients into breadmaker for a loaf of bread

Monday night:
Roast meal #1:
Roast, Rice and Gravy and peas with fresh bread. Make rice and cook peas when you get home. After the meal, the leftover roast and gravy goes in the fridge.

On Tuesday afternoon:
If you are home, throw two chickens in oven to bake and hour and 15 minutes before time to eat. Sprinkle with rosemary, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. You can also purchase 2 rotisserie chickens or cook two chickens during the weekend. If needed, heat up the pre-cooked chicken in the oven before serving on Tuesday night.

Tuesday night:
Chicken meal #1:
Baked chicken, broccoli and sweet potatoes. Cook sweet potatoes in microwave (serve with butter, brown sugar and cinnamon). Cook frozen baby broccoli in microwave with a little butter and salt.  After the meal, debone the rest of the chicken meat and put in a zipper plastic bag in the fridge.

Wednesday night:
Roast meal #2:
Beef stroganoff. Add a little sour cream to the gravy and heat everything up on a low heat. Toss in chopped mushrooms. Cook noodles. A simple salad mix with croutons and half the sliced cucumber, half of a chopped tomato and the rest of the bread. (You can toast the bread in the oven with a little butter, a little grated cheese and garlic powder if you like.)

Thursday morning. Throw your jambalaya ingredients into the crock pot. This will use the rest of the pre-cooked chicken. Recipe here.

Thursday night:
Chicken Meal #2:
Jambalaya with fresh salad greens topped with grated carrot and croutons.

Friday night:
Chicken meal #3:
Chicken noodle soup. Recipe here. Use the rest of the leftover chicken. You can throw everything (except the noodles) into the crockpot in the morning or you can throw it all together 30 minutes before eating. Serve with the rest of the salad greens and croutons.

WEEK #2:

Shopping List for week 2:
Produce:  1 yellow onion, 3 cloves garlic, thyme, green onions (enough to make 1/4 cup of chopped onions), parsley, large baking potatoes for each member of your family, 2 apples
Dairy: butter, Parmesan cheese, 8 oz. cheddar cheese, sour cream
Meat: 4-6 pieces of bacon, 2 lbs smoked sausage, 1 whole chicken (or rotisserie chicken with meat removed)
Frozen: broccoli, artichoke,
Baking Aisle: Tony Chachere seasoning, cornstarch, olive oil, chicken stock, celery salt, Fruit Fresh, cinnamon, chopped pecans,
Condiment: Tabasco, hot sauce
Dry goods: Basmati rice, plastic zipper bags, Blue Runner Cream style beans, regular or spicy (see picture below), refried beans, nacho chips

During the weekend:
Grocery shop for needed ingredients. Chop 2 yellow onions and freeze it in a plastic zipper bag. Chop up 1 cup of green onion. Chop up the sausage. Grate cheese. Grate your carrot. Cook the bacon and crumble. All go in separate plastic bags in the fridge. Get a rotisserie chicken or bake 1 chicken spiced with Tony Chachere seasoning and remove the meat from the bone and put in plastic zipper bag. Chop up 2 apples and toss with "Fruit Fresh" so it doesn't turn brown. Sprinkle with cinnamon, add 2 Tbl. honey and some chopped pecans. Toss and put in zipper plastic bag.

Monday night:
Chicken Meal  #1:
Chicken pasta with artichoke and broccoli.
Cook your favorite pasta. Drain. Then start your meal.
Saute in 2 Tbl. butter frozen artichokes, broccoli and garlic together. Add 1/2 of the chicken and stir until it is hot. Add the pasta. 2 more Tbl. of butter and stir until butter is melted and mixed in well on pasta. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Serve.

On Tuesday morning: Throw the chopped sausage in crockpot with the chopped yellow  onion and 2 cloves of minced garlic. Add sprinkle of Tony Chachere seasoning and a dash of hot sauce. Mix 1 Tbl. of the cornstarch with 1 cup of the water and stir well. Add to crockpot. Low for 4 hours.

Tuesday night:
Sausage Meal #1:
Sausage, Rice and Gravy with broccoli. Make the rice. Sprinkle 1/3 of the chopped green onions on top of sausage and gravy before serving. Put the leftover sausage and gravy in the fridge.

Wednesday night:
Baked potatoes. Bake potatoes in microwave. Serve topped with butter, 1/2 of the grated cheese, sour cream, bacon, 1/3 of chopped green onions. Serve the chopped apple fruit salad on the side.

Thursday night:
Chicken meal #2:
Chicken nachos. Half of the remaining chicken with refried beans, the rest of the shredded cheddar cheese. After they are cooked, top with sour cream, hot sauce, the rest of the tomato and green onions. Serve with the rest of the cucumber on the side.

On Friday morning: put cornbread in bread maker.

Friday night:
Sausage meal #2:
Red Beans and Rice with sausage and cornbread. Make Rice. Heat up the sausage and gravy on low heat. Add the Blue Runner Cream Style Red Beans. Heat just until hot. Serve over rice with the cornbread.

WEEK #3:

Shopping List for week 3:
Produce:   3 yellow onions, 4 cloves garlic, cilantro, fresh oregano, parsley, mushrooms, 2 apples
Dairy: 16 oz. cheddar cheese, sour cream, milk, butter,
Meat: 2 lbs of lean ground beef, 6-8 chicken breasts
Frozen: corn,
Baking Aisle: olive oil, pepper, salt, garlic powder, flour, oregano, chicken stock, sugar, rosemary, thyme, oregano, cinnamon, chopped pecans
Condiment: sliced jalapenos. Cholula Hot Sauce
Dry goods: cream of tomato soup, bread, canned enchilada sauce (or make your own with this recipe), 6 flour tortillas, 1 can tomato paste, 2 cans Muir Glen Roasted Tomatoes, 1 can pinto beans, a handful of tortilla chips for garnish, pasta noodles (like 3 color Garden rotini),

 If you are making your own enchilada sauce, here are the needed ingredients:
butter, onion, garlic, bellpepper, 2 cans tomato paste, 1 can fire roasted tomatoes Muir Glen Organic, chili powder, oregano, paprika, cumin, black pepper, salt

During the weekend: Chop 3 onions. Freeze 3/4 chopped onions. Precook 2 lbs of ground beef seasoned with salt and pepper add 1/4 of your chopped onion, 2 cloves of garlic, 4 tsp. cumin, 2 bunches of cilantro chopped, 2 tsp. black pepper, 2 tsp. Kosher salt,  dash of Cholula Hot Sauce (or your favorite mexican hot sauce). Grate the cheese. Make Enchilada Sauce if you don't purchase canned sauce. Assemble your Enchilada Casserole with half of the cooked ground beef and top with foil (sprayed with Pam on the underside so the cheese doesn't stick). Grill 6-8 chicken breasts (or enough for 2 meals for your family). Put in fridge. Chop up 2 apples and toss with "Fruit Fresh" so it doesn't turn brown. Sprinkle with cinnamon, add 2 Tbl. honey and some chopped pecans. Toss and put in zipper plastic bag.

Monday Night:
Ground Beef Meal #1:
Easy Enchilada Casserole - pop in oven 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Uncover and cook for 10 more minutes.

Tuesday morning: Start bread in breadmaker

Tuesday Night:
Chicken Meal #1:
Grilled Chicken Breasts, broccoli with butter, homemade bread. Put your 4 whole pre-cooked chicken breasts in an oven safe dish, add 1 Tbl. water and cover with foil. Heat at 300 degrees for about 15 minutes or until hot. Cook broccoli in microwave.

Wednesday Night:
Cream of Tomato Soup and grilled cheese with apple salad. You can add some luncheon meat to your grilled cheese sandwiches if you want to make them heartier.

Thursday morning: Add all the ingredients for Taco soup in your crock pot. This uses the last of the pre-cooked ground beef and 1/4 of the frozen chopped onion. Recipe here.

Thursday night:
Ground Beef Meal #2:
Taco Soup (uses the rest of the ground beef and 1/4 of the onion) with cheese, sour cream & tortilla chip toppers

Friday morning: Throw your ingredients for Chicken Cacciatore into the crock pot. Recipe here. Uses the last of your onion and the chicken.

Friday night:
Chicken Meal #2:
Chicken Cacciatore - cook your pasta. Serve the hot sauce over the pasta. Eat with the last of your bread.

WEEK #4:

Shopping List for week 3:
Produce:   2 yellow onions, 3 clove garlic, 4 yellow potatoes, mushrooms, green onions, parsley
Dairy: Mozzarella cheese, ricotta cheese, egg
Meat: 1 lb. of ground meat,  3 strip steaks cut into thin slices, 1 chicken chopped into pieces
Frozen: sliced carrots, frozen stir fry veggie mix, eggrolls, green beans, peas,
Baking Aisle: onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, basil, salt, pepper, sugar, olive oil, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning mix, nutmeg, bay leaf, cornstarch
Condiment: Worcester sauce
Dry goods: parmesan cheese, 1 can Muir Glen Organic Diced Tomatoes, 2 6 oz. cans tomato paste, 1 box Rotini pasta, spaghetti noodles, French bread, Basmati rice,

During the weekend: chop your onion and freeze. Chop parsley & green onions. Chop your whole chicken into pieces. Grate your Mozzarella cheese,  Cook half a box of Rotini noodles. Put in a zipper plastic bag, toss in olive oil and mix it up to make sure all the noodles are coated with oil and put in fridge. cut your 3 strip steaks into thin slices. Divide evenly into two bags. Cube potatoes and put in a bowl with water covering them.

Monday morning: Throw all of your ingredients for spaghetti with meatsauce into your crockpot. Recipe here. Use 1/3 of the chopped onion.

Monday night:
Ground Meat Spaghetti Sauce Meal #1:
Spaghetti with meat sauce over pasta with corn. Cook your spaghetti noodles. Cook your corn with butter in the microwave. Take out half of the meat sauce and put in fridge for later on.

Tuesday morning: Add 1/2 of the sliced beef, 1/3 frozen chopped onion, 1 clove garlic, frozen carrots and green beans, cubed potatoes, mushrooms, bay leaf, and Worcester Sauce with 1/4 cup of water. Salt and pepper to taste. 4 hours high.

Tuesday night:
Beef Stew with 1/2 of French bread

Wednesday morning: Throw all ingredients for sticky chicken into crockpot. Recipe here. Use the last of the frozen onions.

Wednesday night:
Sticky Chicken over Rice and peas. Cook your rice. Heat your peas in the microwave.

Thursday morning: Put your ingredients for lasagna in the crock pot. Use your pre-cooked Rotini noodles. Recipe here.

Thursday night:
Ground Meat Spaghetti Sauce Meal #1:
Crock pot Lasagna with rest of French bread (you can toast in oven with butter and garlic powder)

Friday Night:
Stir fry beef and vegetables with eggrolls. Uses up the rest of the sliced steak. Here is a good recipe for a sugar free teriyaki sauce.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Forest Floor is complete!

Hello fellow gardeners! We have had some major developments in the garden area. First, I can officially say that our backyard is completely grass free! Yipee! We got another free load of chipped up trees from our local tree trimmer and our "Forest Floor" is complete. We had some cedar in this batch, and it smells wonderful. With some newspaper contributions from our generous friends, we have completed our project. We are so thrilled at the way it looks and we are over the moon that we will not have to mow in our backyard ever again. My youngest son did a wonderful job working with me. We became a well-oiled machine with his dumping and me laying newspaper and spreading! Here are some very bad quality pictures from my phone (my camera is on the fritz). We put a thick layer (4-5" thick) knowing from our past experience that it will settle down nicely. The only upkeep is that in a few years we will have to get another batch of free chipped up trees from our local tree trimmer and put another layer on it to keep it thick. Because we are not laying any more newspaper, it will go much faster. We had a nice rain shortly after we put everything down and the "Forest Floor" did a great job at soaking up the rain. It was so great to walk in the backyard and not have muddy or soggy areas. My dog was a little confused as to were she was to do her business as she preferred the few grassy areas we had left, but now she is AOK with it. If you are interested in how we did the "Forest Floor" landscaping project, check out my other blog entries by clicking on the "Forest Floor" page link to the right.

Second, I have been wishing that I had a rain barrel. They are pretty pricey, so it had been just a wish. Well, our dear and thoughtful friends surprised us this Christmas with a collapsible rain barrel. Too cool! The first light rain filled up the 50-gallon barrel! I am so impressed. Looking forward to watering my seeds with fresh rain water. What a difference rain water makes to seeds. They far prefer it to hose water. Check on the picture of the rain barrel below.

Third, I have been dreaming of a drip irrigation system. After pricing the pieces out, it isn't as pricey as I thought it would be. Sooooo.... this is my next big project.

the area around our cypress tree is now grass free!

we finished off the rest of the side of our house

the area in front of the cabin looks great!

Check out this little beauty! A wonderful collapsible rain
barrel. A thoughtful Christmas gift from our friends!


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