Monday, August 31, 2015

Kitchen Tip

   Our home is busy.  We are always going somewhere or doing some fun activity.  We fill in our days with visits to friends, going to the local bike trail, picnics, swimming, trips and family activities. Those kind of days make for a lot of laundry and a dirty house so there is a lot of cleaning to do also. I like to make quick meals when the schedule is full.  One way that I do that is by keeping browned hamburger in the freezer.

   I divide it in 3/4 to 1 pound containers.  Just enough for a recipe- I usually do not need to use a whole pound of meat in a recipe so it stretches the meat further. I keep the meat plain.  I have read many suggestions mentioning that they seasoned it for taco meat or add onions to their hamburger and those are great ideas.  I find that I don't care to do that because I like the flexibility to make the meat into what I need for each meal. 

   If we decide we want tacos then I add the salsa, seasoning and the optional refried beans to the hamburger.  I make the meat mix while I warm the soft taco wraps. Add corn or a veggie/salad and you have an easy meal. 

   If we are having spaghetti, I don't make meatballs, I just add some of the browned hamburger to spaghetti sauce and make it a meat sauce.  I take a container of browned meat out of the freezer while the pasta is cooking and sit it on the counter.  As soon as the pasta is done, I drain it and leave it in the colander.  I put the spaghetti sauce and hamburger in the pasta pot and heat it up, stirring it to break up the hamburger. When it is heated thoroughly, I add the pasta. It makes for an exceptionally easy meal served with garlic bread and a salad/green beans. Clean up consists of one pot and a colander.

   I make my own version of Hamburger Helper but you can make it even faster; just pull out a container of hamburger and add the water, milk and seasoning to the hamburger. Stir and heat and the meat will easily break up.

   Do you brown and freeze hamburger?  If you do, what is your favorite way to use it?   

Monday, August 24, 2015

100 Questions

  I was reading some blogs today and I came to Mrs. Pepper's blog and she answered 100 questions.  I thought it would be fun!

1. Do you sleep with your closet doors open or closed? 


2. Do you take the shampoos and conditioner bottles from hotels?

Sometimes but not always

3. Do you sleep with your sheets tucked in or out?

Tucked in

4. Have you stolen a street sign before?

No, never even thought about doing that before!

5. Do you like to use post-it notes?

Yes, I like to use them.  They are convenient to stick reminders on my fridge

6. Do you cut out coupons but then never use them?

All the time!

7. Would you rather be attacked by a big bear or a swarm of bees?

I would prefer neither one, but if I had to choose....I am would ask that the bear hit me hard on the head and knock me out first!

8. Do you have freckles?


9. Do you always smile for pictures?


10. What is your biggest pet peeve?

People who do NOT use turn signals when driving!  Oh, I so dislike that!!

11. Do you ever count your steps when you walk?

No I don't.  I used to when my kids were little to help them learn to count. 

12. Have you peed in the woods?

I must admit that, unfortunately yes, I have had to go in the woods. 

13. Have you ever pooped in the woods?

Nope, number one was enough.

14. Do you ever dance even if there's no music playing?

I have danced without music.  It wasn't pretty but I just did it a couple days ago when the kids were messing around in the living room and I made a few ballet type dance moves to exit the room.

15. Do you chew your pens and pencils?

Nope, I don't think I have ever done that or put them in my mouth either!

16. How many hours did you sleep last night?

7.5 Hours

17.  What size is your bed?

18. What is your song of the week?
I can't say that I have a song of the week.  It has just been too busy here to think about that much.

19. Is it OK for guys to wear pink?

I am going to say nah.  It is just weird to me. 

20. Do you still watch cartoons?

Yes, the TV is on and there is a cartoon showing.  I don't mind watching cartoons. 

21. What is your least favorite movie?

Any horror movie! 

22. Where would you bury hidden treasure if you had some?

In our woods.  It would be an awesome place to hide buried treasure!

23. What do you drink with dinner?

Usually ice water.  I will occasionally drink iced tea or lemonade.

24. What do you dip a chicken nugget in?

If I would happen to eat a chicken nugget, I would dip it in ranch dressing or ketchup.

25. What is your favorite food?

I will say homemade pizza or homemade pretzels.

26. What movie could you watch over and over again and still love?

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers!!  I love that movie! 

27. Last person you kissed/kissed you?


28. Were you ever a boy/girl scout?


29. Would you ever strip or pose nude in a magazine?

Never, ever, ever!!!

30. When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone on paper?

I can't remember

31. Can you change the oil on a car?

Jeremiah has tried to teach me and I don't pay enough attention I guess.  However, he has successfully taught both kids how to do it.

32. Ever gotten a speeding ticket?

Yep- one.

33. Ever ran out of gas?

I haven't  run out of gas in my own vehicle but when Jeremiah and I were dating we took his parents car to go to my grandma's house for Christmas dinner.  We ran out of gas about 2 miles away from a gas station.  We passed several gas stations on our way but they were closed for the day. I have an issue with letting my car get below a half a tank of gas.  I try to fill it up when it gets to 1/2 a tank.

34. What’s your favorite kind of sandwich?

At the moment, it has to be BLT's! I have to change it a bit though and add an O- onion!  (bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion with mayo)

35. Best thing to eat for breakfast?

I do not like breakfast.  If I have to make a choice I would say homemade cinnamon rolls or Jeremiah has been making pancakes and bacon lately and they are delicious!  I am not good at making pancakes!

36. What is your usual bedtime?

I don't have a usual bedtime.  I go to bed when I am tired- usually 11 pm or later but I wake up between 6:30 and 7 am. 

37. Are you lazy?

I try not to be.

38. When you were a kid, what did you dress up as for Halloween?

I can't remember dressing up for Halloween as a kid. 

39. What is your Chinese astrological sign?

Not a clue!

40. How many languages can you speak?


41. Do you have any magazine subscriptions?

Nature Friend and Grit

42. Which are better: Legos or Lincoln Logs?

I liked both of them but my brothers and I played with Lincoln Logs the most.  My kids have both but played with Legos more when they were little.

43. Are you stubborn?

I can be!

44. Who is better: Leno or Letterman?

Well, they are both done hosting their shows now but I would say that Leno was better.  Jimmy Fallon is a great host of The Tonight Show. He is definitely my favorite now.

45. Ever watch soap operas?

Nope, I do not watch them

46. Are you afraid of heights?


47. Do you sing in the car?


48. Do you sing in the shower?


49. Do you dance in the car?

I have!

50. Ever used a gun?


51. Last time you got a portrait taken by a photographer?

Last year we had two weddings in the family. Jeremiah's sister got married in June and his brother in September. I was in the family pictures for them.  Before then, it was quite some time ago.... maybe 10 years ago.

52. Do you think musicals are cheesy?

Nope!  I mentioned in question 26 my favorite movie is a musical. 

53. Is Christmas stressful?

Sometimes.  I try to plan ahead but occasionally it gets a bit crazy.  I love it though and try to avoid the stress.

54. Ever eat a pierogi?

Yes, just last week!

55. Favorite type of fruit pie?

I don't like pie and not a fan of any fruit pie.  If I had eat one though, I guess I would choose apple.

56. Occupations you wanted to be when you were a kid?

I wanted to be a teacher.  I guess that happened since I am home schooling my kids. 

57. Do you believe in ghosts?

Not really. 

58. Ever have a Deja-vu feeling?

Yes, and it is weird!

59. Do you take a vitamin daily?


60. Do you wear slippers?


61. Do you wear a bath robe?

No, I don't own one.

62. What do you wear to bed?

Really? Does anyone really want to know that?  PJ's if you want to know!

63. What was your first concert?

I have never been to a concert.  I have been to the symphony though.

64. Walmart, Target, or Kmart?


65. Nike or Adidas?

Neither, I don't have anything from either brand.

66. Cheetos or Fritos?

I don't think this is a fair question!  It would be like choosing my favorite kid!  I like them both!

67. Peanuts or Sunflower seeds?

Sunflower seeds

68. Ever hear of the group Tres Bien?


69. Ever take dance lessons?


70. Is there a profession you picture your future spouse doing?

Hopefully I don't ever have a "future spouse"!  I am happily married and pray it stays that way! 

71. Can you curl your tongue?


72. Ever won a spelling bee?

I have no clue.  I can't remember any spelling bees in elementary school.

73. Have you ever cried because you were so happy?

Yes, all the time!

74. Own any record albums?


75. Own a record player?


76. Do you regularly burn incense?

No, but we do burn candles and I have wax melter and I diffuse essential oils. 

77. Ever been in love?

I am still in love with my wonderful husband!  He can still make my heart beat fast!

78. Who would you like to see in concert?

I am not a fan of concerts so if I had to go I would choose TobyMac, Third Day or Crowder

79. What was the last concert you saw?

Well from my answer to #63 I haven't been to a concert so I can't say the last one I have seen!

80. Hot tea or cold tea?

BOTH!!  Tea is my favorite!

81. Tea or coffee?


82. Sugar cookies or snickerdoodles?

Sugar cookies.

83. Can you swim well?

I used to be a good swimmer.  I don't swim often now so I am sure those skills are rusty!

84. Can you hold your breath without holding your nose?


85. Are you patient?


86. DJ or band at a wedding?


87. Ever won a contest?


88. Have you ever had plastic surgery?

No and I don't ever plan on it.  However, when I was 15 years old I had a bad cut on my eye and a plastic surgeon stitched it up so it wouldn't scar too bad.

89. Which are better: black or green olives?

Neither! I think olives are gross!

90. Can you knit or crochet?

I can crochet the longest chain length, well until the yarn runs out!  That's it!

91. Best room for a fireplace?

Living room. 

92. Do you want to get married?

I am very happily married.

93. If married, how long have you been married?

Close to 19 years! 

94. Who was your high school crush?

Jeremiah.  We started dating when we were 16!

95. Do you cry and throw a fit until you get your own way?

No, I save my tears for the happy times!

96. Do you have kids?

Yes, I do!

97. Do you want kids?

I certainly wanted kids. I am very happy with the two I am blessed to have! 

98. What is your favorite color?


99. Do you miss anyone right now?


100. Who are you going to ask to answer these questions next?

No one!  If someone wants to answer some or all just let me know in the comments so I can read your answers! 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. Way back when (the Hodgepodge bicentennial to be precise) several of you submitted questions as part of a giveaway I was hosting. I went back to that list for inspiration today and found a question  submitted by Marla, who blogs over at Marla's Musings. Thanks Marla!

She asks-At what age did you feel like a 'grown-up'? What keeps you young now?   

Grown-up?  I still don't feel grown up and I am 40! I feel like I am still learning and trying to keep one step ahead of the game all the time. I guess you want an answer so I think I felt officially grown up when I was 21 and Jeremiah and I got married.  My kiddo's keep me young.

 2. When did you last buy a vehicle? Was this by design or because you had no other option? Was the car/truck purchased for your own personal use or was it bought for someone else to drive? On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being delightful and 1 being 'pass the Excedrin') how would you rate the experience?

The last vehicle we purchased was for Jeremiah.  It was a personal sale and went smoothly.  No issues.  It seems that this question is leaning towards a car dealership sale and that would have been in 2004 when we bought the car that I still drive.  It is a good car even though it has had its fair share of troubles.  Jeremiah and his dad have been able to repair them.  Our experience has been very good at the dealership.  I would rate it high like a 9 or 10.

 3. Corn bread, corn chips, corn pudding, corn on the cob, cornflakes, corn chowder-your favorite of the corn-y foods listed? What needs to be served alongside your selection?

Oh boy this one is a bit hard for me to decide!  I like a lot of them.  I will go with corn bread though since we just had it Sunday.  I like it paired with chili. Wait no, corn chips, I had corn chips last night.  But corn on the cob is delicious; we just ate some of that too!  Corn chowder is good- my uncle makes some of the best! Cornflakes are good also but I don't eat much cereal. I hate to admit it but I never heard of corn pudding.

 4. What's something in your life that regularly requires you to 'put your thinking cap on'?

Wednesday Hodgepodge!  Thank you Joyce for keeping my mind sharp! You probably want a better answer than that right?  I will say when I have to sit down and go over the budget.  That requires a lot of thinking. 

 5. Share a favorite movie set in a school or classroom, or whose theme relates to school days in some way.

The kids watched a movie a while back on Disney called Lemonade Mouth.  I don't watch many movies so it's hard to even come up with a favorite, let alone a favorite school themed movie.

 6. Reading, writing, and 'rithmatic' are commonly referred to as the three R's. What are the three R's in your life right now?

School started for us on Monday so those three R's are pretty prevalent right now. 

 7. What's something you've learned or tried recently you can say was as 'easy as ABC'?

I made peach jam this past weekend.  I will admit that I was nervous about making it.  It was super easy and I am not quite sure why I waited so long to make it.

 8. Insert your own random thought here.

We have been canning, freezing and dehydrating a lot of produce lately. I like having well stocked shelves to choose from during the winter.  We are also trying new recipes and canning things that we haven't canned before.  It has been fun.  Madilynne really likes to can and has been a great help with it.  This is the first year that we have dehydrated any kind of fruit. We did some banana chips that didn't turn out too good and sliced strawberries that will be great in granola or added to cereal. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

First Day of School 2015

   Today started our new homeschool year.  We started homeschooling Madilynne when she was 3 years old.  She loved doing arts and crafts and learning her numbers and letters. She was so excited every day to start school. Fast forward quite a few years and she is still just as enthused to start school.  Ryder isn't quite as happy about starting school but he said the sooner he starts the sooner he is finished. Good outlook!  We had originally planned to start school two weeks ago but a family friend needed some help watching their granddaughter so we fill in for them when we can. She will be starting school again when our local public school starts back up, Sept 1, but we will keep her when we can until then.

   We had planned that our day would go smoothly with maybe the occasional bump.  Well, it didn't go quite as planned and you know what? It was all good.  We had some unexpected visitors stop by to drop off some stuff and they stayed to visit for a bit since we haven't seen them for awhile.  I also had to conquer Mt. Laundry.  I was able to tackle some of it but not all of it- tomorrow is another day.  I had started soaking some beans last night so I could make refried beans today.  That took extra time too.  All in all our first day of school was a success.  We finished our work and had an enjoyable day.  The weather was sunshiny and bright and just made the house a happy place to be today.   It also helps when you have two great kids and I am so happy that we home educate.

   I hope you had a great day today too.  Tomorrow will be another busy day of schooling, cleaning and canning.  I will post about our canning adventures sometime soon.


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. When was the last time you relocated? Did you move yourself or leave it to the professionals? Are you happy staying put or is there a move in your future? Best thing about moving to a new city or town? Least favorite and/or hardest thing about moving house?
The last time I relocated was 10 years ago in May.  We moved our belongs ourselves with the help of close family.  I am quite happy to stay here on our family farm as it has been in my family for about 150 years! I honestly couldn't tell you what is best about moving to a new city as I have only ever lived rurally in the same area.  We did live in a small village before moving to the farm and it was by a dreadfully busy road.  I didn't like that.  This house has a nice quite road with the main traffic just being those going to work.  I chuckle as I write this because I know 80% of the folks who drive by my house.  My least favorite part about moving is trying to get rid of the stuff that we accumulated and no longer used but had kept anyway!

2. When were you last 'moved to tears'? Explain.

Well, I can say that I am easily moved to tears.  It could be something sad but usually it is something sweet or loving or those proud mama moments.  I try to avoid sad tears so I don't watch sad movies or read sad books no matter how highly recommended they come!  I can't remember though when I was moved to tears last.... It was probably just this week but it is normal for me so it doesn't stand out.

3. Do you have rules about eating in the car...any forbidden foods? What's the last thing you consumed in your car? Your go-to car snack when traveling long distance?

Rules about eating in the car....umm, well the rule is if we are in the car and we need to eat, we eat! We do a lot of running so eating in the car is normal for us.  When you have a teen boy with hollow legs, food is always being consumed!  It can be anything that we packed or picked up at the grocery store or a fast food drive-thru (though we try to avoid that option). We just ate yesterday in the car on our way home from the park.  We met with some of our homeschool group friends and we pack a lunch.  We always pack extra because we are usually hungry (some starving) on our way home.  I had to stop and pick up some bacon at a little country store and they had some beautiful, local strawberries for sale so I pickup up two quarts- one to eat on the way home and one for today! Our go-to car snacks for long distances- anything with out much sugar, caffeine or dyes!

4. Share a favorite song relating to cars and/or driving.
"Overcomer" by Mandisa  This is the verse that comes to mind.
Staring at a stop sign
Watching people drive by
T Mac on the radio
Got so much on your mind
Nothing's really going right
Looking for a ray of hope
5. What's your most frequently visited drive-thru...Starbucks? the bank? the pharmacy? some other window?
I guess I have to say the bank.  I have never had anything from Starbucks.  I was in the drive thru for Starbucks once because the driver of the car we were in wanted coffee. 

6. "He who hesitates is lost"...would you agree? When it comes to making decisions do you generally act quickly or do you more often than not fall into the 'lost' category?
I tend to make decisions quickly and have lost because I didn't think it through. My husband on the other hand is quicker to hesitate on a decision and it usually works out.  I think there is a balance to be found on both ends of that statement so I don't agree with it.

7. When was the last time you got lost? Was it stressful or an unexpected happy adventure?
The last time I was lost....I have to really think about it.  I guess I would have to say April 2014 when I was taking the kids to a Bible Quiz camp.  I missed a turn because I misunderstood the directions. It was more of an adventure because it was in a beautiful mountainous area that we had never been in before.  Normally though if I am lost it would fall under stressful for me! I do not get stressed though if Jeremiah is driving and we get lost.  That doesn't faze me at all.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.
The kids and I went to a local bike trail earlier this week to meet with some friends.  Ryder takes his bike and Madilynne and I walk.  It rained pretty heavy on our way back and we were trying to get under some of the trees that overhang on the trail to stay a bit drier.  Madilynne and her friends had a great time strolling in the rain. I was doing the powerwalk to get out of it!  Ryder came rolling by with his friends- they were having a blast riding in the rain.  I saw he had a ball cap on and asked him if I could have it to keep the rain from getting my hair so wet.  He quickly took it off and gave it to me- so sweet and gentlemanly!  My hair stayed pretty decent for the errands that we had to run afterwards even though my clothes were completely soaked!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Blackberries and Huckleberries

   The kids and I went berry picking recently.  Madilynne wasn't excited to go pick at first but once we started picking, her whole attitude changed for the better.  She really enjoyed picking.  Ryder was ready to jump into picking as soon as I mentioned it.  I think his belly and taste buds were a factor in that.
   The blackberries and huckleberries are ripe and ready to pick in our area.  If you aren't familiar with huckleberries they are small, dark blue berries that are really sweet.  I thought I would share some pictures of the berries we actually brought home and what was left since we ate most of them right off the bushes!

When we brought them home, Ryder started to eat them by the handful.  I am happy that he enjoys the berries as they are very nutritious.  These are all the berries I had left to freeze

This picture shows the huckleberries.  They are roughly the size of a pea and look similar to a blueberry. I think they are awesome frozen!

These are the frozen blackberries.  If Ryder doesn't finish them off they will be delicious in a smoothie. 
We stayed on the look out at all times because bears like blackberries and huckleberries also.  We saw some bear paw prints but no bears! We were kind enough to leave many berries for the bears, deer and turkeys to nibble on too!  I think they would thank us- if they could!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Day at the Lake

   This weekend was a beautiful- sunny and comfortably warm with no/low humidity.  Our family went to a local lake to meet my brother's girlfriend's parents.  Did you follow that?  Her parents are so sweet. We had a delicious lunch before going down to the lake to ride the boat.  I am not a big fan of boat rides but I have gone before and it has been fine. This time was not the day that all would be fine.  I am not sure if age is becoming more of a factor or the lake was just too choppy but I couldn't handle it.  It was just too much for my stomach.  I tried to use a motion sickness remedy but it didn't work. I had to go back to the dock.

   Jeremiah was able to stay and enjoy watching the kids try to water ski for the first time, they weren't successful, but had fun trying. They also rode on a raft that was pulled behind the boat.  I am so glad they got to spend the afternoon on the lake.  Madilynne and Ryder both enjoy swimming so when they came back to get more drinking water, they jumped off the dock and swam around in the lake.  I spent the afternoon watching the boats go by with my mom and step-dad.  We had a good time too- on solid ground! My mom gets worse motion sickness than me.

   I hope everyone is enjoying these last few weeks before fall. The temperatures will cool down and school will start soon.  Enjoy each day and the blessings found in them!