Thursday, July 31, 2008

What's For Dinner??


Tonight I made a new meal. We are celebrating getting renters into our old house. We also are celebrating our great budget last month. I made ribs, the ones I got on sale...they were 30% off because they needed to be froze that night. I also made a fresh cucumber and tomato salad and cantaloupe. We will be having caramel apple pie for dessert...after a while I am stuffed now. Here are the recipes for our meal. I searched http://www.cooks.com/ until I found recipes that matched ingredients we had. I was going to run to the store for BBQ sauce but instead found the recipe that had all my ingredients. So I didn't have to spend any extra money...

My meal costs
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Free cucumber and 2 tomatoes from the garden
$5.29 Ribs
$1.00 (estimated) One large tomato
$0.57 1/4 Cantelope (A huge canteloupe; been eating it 2 days; original Price was $2.28.)
$1.16 1/2 of an apple pie
____
$8.02

Not bad for a family of four and this was an "expensive" meal. I usually try to get more for my money but wanted to make this a special meal.

All the ingredients for the sauces I had in the fridge or pantry. I used dried seasonings. I am not patient enough to calculate a tablespoon of this and a tablespoon of that. I also used one giant cucumber (you wouldn't believe the size of that thing) and two smaller tomatoes from my dad's garden. Then I used one large tomato I picked up from the Farmers Market.

It's amazing by keeping a few select things on hand you can make a world of dishes.
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CROCK POT SPARE RIBS

2 pkg. country style ribs
1 c. catsup
2 c. water
1 onion, diced
1/8 c. Worcestershire sauce
Dash celery salt, garlic powder, seasoned salt & pepper
1/2 c. brown sugar

Mix together all the ingredients except the ribs. Put the ribs in crock pot. Pour the mixture over ribs. Cook on low 8-10 hours in crock pot. Good with baked beans and corn bread.

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FRESH TOMATO AND CUCUMBER SALAD

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
10 fresh basil leaves
5 fresh oregano leaves
3 small fresh cucumbers (pickling or thin slicing)
2 large beefsteak tomatoes, vine ripened

Mince garlic or press through a garlic press. Let garlic stand in balsamic and wine vinegars for 10 minutes (this takes the "edge" off). Discard any garlic which has green sprouts in the center, as the flavor is too sharp and bitter for this salad - use for another purpose.

Wash basil and oregano leaves (pick at noon time on a sunny day for best flavor). Roll up leaves and slice into little strips (chiffonade). Chop and add to your best olive oil and allow to stand in oil while garlic marinates.

Meanwhile, prepare salad ingredients. Wash cucumbers and tomatoes. Peel cucumbers, leaving a scant amount of peel (helps with digestion). Slice cucumbers into 1/4 inch coins (circles).

With a sharp knife, remove stem and blossom end from tomatoes (a very small amount). Slice tomatoes into wedges, being careful not to crush and lose juice.

Place tomatoes and cucumbers in salad bowl and sprinkle with sea salt or kosher salt.

Combine olive oil with vinegars, whisking together well. Use to dress tomatoes and cucumbers; serve at room temperature.

Variations: Add 1 thinly sliced red onion, pitted oil cured black olives and fresh mozzarella, sliced (or use the small bocconcini).

Frugal Lunch and Dinner

I decided to write out some things I did this month to slim the budget. I reviewed my shopping lists, my meal plans, and recipes.

~

My first week of menu planning was originally from www.Hillbillyhousewife.com. I used her suggested menu. I had many of her ingredients on hand. I added a few of my own. I will go into detail on the menu in just a second. This was a good start for me. This lady is has a phenomenal meal plan on her site. She gives you the menu, recipes, shopping lists, and daily jobs to keep the kitchen flowing. It was an eye opener. This first section is breakfast.

~

Here are meals that I cooked this month. I wanted to add that I make a meal plan with three meals a day and add snacks in the notes section. However, I rarely cook what is scheduled for the day. I may not be in the mood for pancakes for breakfast so I have muffins and a smoothie instead. I just cross off what I ate and save the pancakes for another day. But having a menu plan ensures I have the necessary ingredients and I don’t have to wonder what I’m going to make. I have choices.

~

Lunch and dinner tend to be the same types of recipes. Since Pierce’s schedule is hectic I always make sure he has a hot dinner before work…even if it’s at 3 pm. I will post both lunch and dinner recipes.

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MAIN DISHES (click titles for recipe)

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Lentil and Vegetable Soup with Dumplings ~ I have made this a few times.

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Pinto Beans ~ Not really one of our favorites but worth a try.

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Butter Beans ~ I cooked half a pound of bacon to go in this soup. I also added a little of the bacon grease to flavor the beans. I also used baby Lima beans. I LOVED THIS SOUP!!

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Creamed Tuna & Peas ~ I don’t like tuna or peas, but this wasn’t so bad. I have it on the menu again.

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Black Bean Soup ~ You can add whatever taco toppings you like. We actually load up the soup and it's more like nachos. Sometimes I add a little hamburger (or ground turkey) to make it a complete protein.

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Pot Roast ~ I made pot roast one night. The next night I used the leftover meat to make Shepherd Pie.

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Shepherd’s Pie ~ This is another recipe that you throw together and can easily alter. There are two ways to make this. The first is to cook the veggies on the stove top, mix them with the meat and gravy. Or put all the ingredients in the dish and cook the veggies in the oven. I prefer to cook them on the stove because it takes less time in the over.

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Shepherd’s Pie

Left over Pot Roast

Bag of mixed veggies (the stew mix or diced veggies)

Brown gravy seasoning (or homemade gravy)

6-8 Potatoes

I combined a bag of mixed veggies (or any other half bags left in the back of the freezer), diced pot roast, and gravy (made from a packet or left over pot roast broth.) Spread it in the bottom of a casserole dish. Then top with homemade mashed potatoes. I used to put the potatoes in my Easy Accent Decorator to make pretty scalloped potatoes on top of my dish. But I typically just spread the potatoes out over the mixture and dot the top to make peaks. The potatoes brown better and taste better.

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Ramen Stir Fry ~ I got inspiration for this dish from Pampered Chef. They had a ramen noodle recipe though I never looked at it.

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Fajitas ~ We made homemade tortillas. I didn’t have any fajita seasoning on hand. I usually use McCormick’s seasoning packs. But I pulled up a recipe for homemade seasoning and I had most things to make it.

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Fajitas

2 Chicken Breasts

1 Green Pepper

1 Onion

Tortillas

Cheese

Salsa

Any other toppings you like

Sauté the chicken and add in sliced peppers and onions. Cook veggies to desired tenderness. I like mine to be a little crunchy with flavor left in them. Add the seasoning and some water. Wa-LA!! Fajitas!! I have been making these since we first got married. The recipe is on the back of the seasoning pack if you need more instructions.

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Biscuits and Gravy ~ I made this a few times. I used the cream sauce from the Creamed Tuna dish. It's basically a gravy. I made these biscuits.

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SIDE DISHES

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Scalloped Tomatoes ~ An instant HIT!! Everyone loved it.

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Southern Batter Bread ~ Breesa is the only one who was crazy about this recipe. We ate it anyway.

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Corn Bread ~ I have yet to find a homemade recipe I like…

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Cottage Cheese

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Sliced fruit ~ Usually cantaloupe or watermelon.

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Potatoes ~ I make these in a lot of different ways.

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Fruit Salad ~ It’s from a can but way better than fruit cocktail and thrifty too. The only thing I change is draining the fruit in a colander (rinsing if it has heavy syrup).

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SNACKS

Snacks are a necessity with kids and a pregnant mom. Here are some of the snacks we eat…

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Graham Crackers with peanut butter ~ sometimes I top with sliced bananas.

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Fruit ~ sliced apples, bananas, cantaloupe, etc

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Muffins

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Leftovers

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Sliced cheese from a block

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Cheese Quesadillas (if we have homemade tortillas)

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Cookies ~ homemade with WHEAT flour and SOOO good.

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Baked goods ~ I usually have something on hand: muffins, biscuits, cookies. I also have been experimenting with homemade bread…which I cannot resist snacking on.

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Popcorn ~ We pop it on the stove and add a variety of seasonings: sugar and cinnamon for a vaguely sweet snack, parmesan, salt, garlic salt, anything really.

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Smoothies

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Nuts

Frugal Breakfast Ideas

I decided to write out some things I did this month to slim the budget. I reviewed my shopping lists, my meal plans, and recipes.

~

My first week of menu planning was originally from www.Hillbillyhousewife.com. I used her suggested menu. I had many of her ingredients on hand. I added a few of my own. I will go into detail on the menu in just a second. This was a good start for me. This lady is has a phenomenal meal plan on her site. She gives you the menu, recipes, shopping lists, and daily jobs to keep the kitchen flowing. It was an eye opener. This first section is breakfast.

~

Here are meals that I cooked this month. I wanted to add that I make a meal plan with three meals a day and add snacks in the notes section. However, I rarely cook what is scheduled for the day. I may not be in the mood for pancakes for breakfast so I have muffins and a smoothie instead. I just cross off what I ate and save the pancakes for another day. But having a menu plan ensures I have the necessary ingredients and I don’t have to wonder what I’m going to make. I have choices.

~

>Oatmeal – We don’t eat this very often. I keep it on hand for quick a fix or baking.

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>Bran Muffins – These are called 30 Day muffins. I had these as a child and decided to look up the recipe. I use www.cooks.com to find recipes. This recipe will make about 5 dozen muffins. You can keep it in the fridge for thirty days and make them as you go. I need my bowl on a regular basis so I half the recipe. I cook all the muffins, which makes about 2 dozen in my Pampered Chef stones. They are a little bigger. I have switched out a few ingredients as well. Here is my version of the recipe…

.

THIRTY-DAY BRAN MUFFIN MIX

2 c. 100% bran cereal
4 c. All-Bran flakes
1 qt. buttermilk (can be substituted with milk and vinegar)
1 c. butter
2 c. sugar (or natural sugar)
6 eggs
5 c. sifted white flour (I haven't tried wheat yet)
5 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

Combine cereals in a large bowl. Add 2 cups boiling water to dry cereal. Let stand for several minutes. Stir in buttermilk. Cream shortening and sugar together in bowl. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add bran mixture to shortening mixture. Mix well. Sift flour, soda, and salt together.

Stir into bran mixture until mixed. Cover. Refrigerate until needed. Will keep up to 30 days.

Bake muffins in 400 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until muffins test done. (Add nuts and blueberries for a special treat. Allow mixture to set for at least 1 day before baking any muffins.

THIS RECIPE MAKES ABOUT 5 DOZEN!!

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>Smoothies - I make banana smoothies with the muffins. This is probably the most common breakfast for us. The smoothies consist of frozen bananas. I freeze a bunch of bananas. When I am ready to make smoothies, I put the banana in some cold water long enough to make the skin soggy. If you leave it too long the banana thaws. Too short, and the peel is a pain to get off. A frozen banana makes a smoothie. A thawed banana makes “banana milk” as the kids call it. Either way it’s good. I put one banana, milk (probably about 1-2 cups), a few dashes of vanilla, and a teaspoon of sugar. This will make about two 8 oz smoothies. *Note-portion control is a big issue. I use small tumblers that are approximately 8 oz for most drinks. I serve water in the larger glasses.* An 8 oz smoothie and 1-2 muffins will serve an adult. For the little one, I use a tiny, kids coffee mug. It might be a 4 oz. Sometimes I pour one glass and mix a little extra milk to make it go farther. It just depends on how many I am serving.

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>Bacon and eggs – I will make this once a week or so. I only cook 2 – 3 half slices of bacon each. We used to cook the whole pound of bacon and split it four ways. I know; that can’t be good for us. Anyway, one or two eggs, a few slices of bacon, and wheat toast are a great start.

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>Pancakes – Now I copied this recipe from the Hill Billy Housewife site, but changed it again. I never thought my family would go for wheat pancakes but they all liked them...more than me but I am adjusting.

Pancakes

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup wheat flour
  • Dash of cinnamon

Get out a medium sized bowl. Measure in the milk, egg, oil and sugar. Beat well with a fork or wire whisk. Add the salt, baking powder, flour and cinnamon. Beat again, mixing until the batter is smooth. Cook on a hot, well oiled griddle or skillet. I use about 1/4 cup of batter per pancake. I heat up my iron skillet over medium-high heat, and melt a spoonful of butter. I drop in about 1/4 cup of batter. Brown it well, and lay it in a plate. Repeat until all of the batter is used up. The recipe as it is written will serve 4 people with average appetites.

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>French Toast – We have French toast on occasion. There is a recipe for over baked French toast though I haven’t made it. We have tried to cut down our starches to a healthy amount. So we don’t make this often. But it’s an option.

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>Juice – I usually keep juice in the fridge. I make it from concentrate. The only thing I do is add FOUR cans of water instead of three. I water it down a little and no one notices. There can be a lot of sugar in fruit juices so I feel better watering it down a little. I only serve juice for breakfast (unless we are having breakfast for lunch or dinner.) I serve 4-8 ounces.

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>Egg Surprise – Sometimes I scramble eggs and throw in whatever left over veggies are in the fridge and toss with a little cheese. Sort of like an omelet but scrambled.

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This is our basic breakfast menu. Muffins and smoothies are common for us. Since I can spend an hour making the muffins, once a week and have both breakfast and snacks on hand. The smoothies only take a few minutes as well. This works well for rushed mornings since it can be eaten in the car.

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As far as shopping goes, there really aren't many ingredients used for the recipes above. Here is what I have come up with to keep on hand...

Canister of Oatmeal

Bananas (in he freezer)

Milk

Bacon

Eggs

Flour

Baking soda

Baking powder (I use this a lot for many different recipes. I had no idea!!)

~

The ingredients for the muffins have to be considered. I don't use the bran cereals for anything. So I keep them on hand for the muffins. The ingredients go pretty far with this recipe. I have made about 6 dozen muffins off the same boxes of cereal. The only thing I need to remember is the buttermilk. I buy about 1 qt every two to three weeks. I hope this is helpful in planning your breakfasts.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

My Home Organizer


I was initially inspired by Fly Lady, but Candy's blog got me moving. Here is my Home Organizer, also called many other things by other ladies. If you want more information on starting your own, check Candy's Home Management Binder University or list of other women's binders. Her web pages is http://www.keepingthehome.com/. The links are in her side bar.


So here is the tour of my binder...

Here is the cover. I decorated it with scrapbooking stickers, cute quotes, and Thomas Kincaid stickers.

The pocket of the binder hold mail, usually bills. There also happens to be a paint sample for the front porch, stickers from my daughter, and some other junk I have yet to file. My pencil holder has a few pens, pencils, a highlighter, and post it notes. I use the notes all over my binder to remind me things to update or create. The first page in my binder is a page of notes from a book I am reading. It includes 10 things to pray for everyday in regards to my children.


The tabs in my book are
Red - Calendar
Purple – Daily Routines
Yellow - Cleaning
Green – Meal Planning
Blue – To Do
Red - Budget
Purple - (empty)
Yellow - Social
Green – Home School
Blue - College



The first tab is my calendar section. I printed these from Donna Young. Pretty basic stuff.


The next tab is our daily schedule. I break it into blocks. Rise & Shine, Morning, Afternoon, and Bedtime. The morning and afternoon blocks are done in any order really. Just get it done before lunch or before dinner. The Rise & Shine and Bedtime are done first and last in the day. I find it easier to keep this sort of schedule because days are hectic and at least I know I have a basic list to get things finished. A minute-to-minute schedule is not easy for me to follow.


The next section is cleaning...my least used section. Ok I'm still working on this area. I made these sheets in Excel. The first is a list of chores that only need to be done weekly, such as mopping, cleaning glass, etc. I like this because if I need to skip something at least I have a record of when it was done last. (I can skip something different this week...should I repeat I am still working in this area??)

This page is a list of chores to do every day. It mostly includes quick cleaning, wipe downs, emptying trash, straighting type stuff. The days 1st-15th are on the front and the 16th-31st are on the backside.
Also in my cleaning section, you will find a laundry list of which load to do on each day. Homemade Cleaning Recipes and Age Appropriate Chores.

The next area is my To Do List section...perhaps my favorite section. I love to make lists...I grew up on them. Anyway, I didn't feel a need for pictures of this one. But I keep loose, leaf paper in this section and my many to do lists. My husband is working so hard on all our projects, that I recently re-wrote the lists. My lists now include To Do: Around the House-my list of things that need done. I have a To Do: Projects on the House-a list for Pierce and I to stay on the same page about the direction we are moving in remodeling our house. He is working on the list as I type...yay! The next list is To Do: Decluttering. Since we are remodeling and unpacking, there is always somewhere to declutter. I might make other lists and keep them here but that is all I have for now.

The next tab is my Budget section. I didn't include pictures because most pages have personal information on them. Anyway, I get a lot of printouts from http://www.crown.org/. They are a great financial resource. I keep a list of financial goals and a percentage guide for family income. This is a page that has many income brackets and lets you know what percent of your income should be spent on each area. For instance, housing expenses for a family of 4 range from 39% to 29% of net income. I use this to make sure we are spending our money in the right areas. It has been my inspiration for getting our food budget down. Gas is next!! I printed it from the Crown website. I also keep a list of debts to pay. If there is someone who can't be paid when the bill comes in, I list them on this page.


Ok back to visuals...

This is my meal planner. I plan three meals a day for most days of the week, unless we are out of town or busy that night. I rarely cook what I have listed for that day. But I have to make this or my meals are a mess. Instead, I cross off what I make. I may not be in the mood for something so I steal tomorrow nights meal plan and cook it tonight. Then I just cross it off. Some days I plan lunch and write "leftovers" beside it for dinner because I know I can make enough to last for both meals.

I also keep a list of meals we like make. This way I have ideas when I am planning my menu. I will ask my family what they want. I jot the ideas down at the top of my meal plan. Then I head to the store. I try to match what's on sale with their requests. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I use this system to keep the budget down, instead of buying what they want regardless of the price. I also have a master grocery list I printed from online at Donna Young. But I have a sticky note to make a new one. My list is much different than hers and it took me FOREVER to get my shopping done using this one. Needless to say, I only used it once. I keep the old one in there to remind me that I need to make a customized grocery list.

The next tab is yellow and I called it the Family Yellow Pages...ha ha. Anyway, I keep phone numbers here. Also, there is a page for birthdays and anniversaries. But I never send cards so I don't really know why I have it. I guess I intend to get around to it.





The second to last area is Homeschooling. I love this section because I am currently working on it. The first page is a list of Breesa's Daily Preschool Tasks. This is what it looks like...

Preschool

Calendar Activities
Month, Day of Week, Date
Weather

Reading
15 minutes of reading

Letter of the Week
Check daily activities

Bible
Read story
Songs
Verse for Sunday School
Practice hymn for church service

Math
Number of the week
Activity or Game

Writing
Pre-writing books

Personal Care

It is more or less an overview of my ideal day with her. I blogged a whole post about this. It's in the side bar. Anyway, we don't always get to everything but when she needs an activity to keep her busy I try to pull from this list first.


This is a handout from her Sunday School teacher with the bible verses on it for the next few months. We post the current verse on her learning board.


This page is a list of things typically taught in preschool. You can find the list at World Book. They have all grades listed. I copied this to a document and customized it by adding a few things of my own and deleting a few. I try to keep this fresh in my mind. That way, if we stumble upon a learning opportunity, I can remember what she still needs to work on. Daddy likes this area too. He loves to teach her things and I can let me know what she needs to work on. I highlight the tasks when I think she has learned it. Most are easily taught while going through daily activities.

I also have a list of activities for my kids. Activities are things they like to do and are mom approved... boredom breeds trouble. Here are some of their things to do..

Jenga Blocks
Play-Doh
Moon Sand
Finger Painting
Game Boy
Water colors
Reading
Crayons or Markers Drawing
Puzzles
Playing Outside
Bowl Matching Game
Foam Book
Baby Einstein
Pom Pom Animals
Park
Hide n Seek
Tea Party
Pet Shop
Candyland
Webkins
Babies
TV or Movies
Hi Ho Cherry-O
Fly Pen
Memory
Play with rock collection
Dress up
Board game
Computer

This list is handy for when they are bored or I need to keep them busy so I can get something down. It also helps if I want to spend time with them we can do something they will enjoy.

I also have some pages going into this section for Peyton. She will have a list of books to read this school year. I will have a page to keep track of her ACE paces at school. Some handouts from school may go here. I have quite a few of her old homeschool books she likes to work in. We have Home Ec, Typing, Photography, and I am ordering the Prairie Primer. So I will keep anything for her in this section as well.

The last section is our College area. Pierce and I both take classes online. I keep our paperwork in this section. The page shown is a list of classes needed to graduate. I keep track of our classes and which ones to take next.

That's all there is to my binder. I wanted to add that I keep loose, leaf paper in the back. Whenever I am brainstorming a new page, I make it on the notebook paper first. Then type it when I get around to it.













Peyton

Well Peyton has had an exciting day as well. She made homemade biscuits for lunch. We had biscuits and gravy which was really good. We spent the afternoon talking about Little House on the Prairie books. She has all nine of the original books in a box set. I was planning on reading them with her but she has read them all. We played around on the Little House on the Prairie website. She took a quiz to see how well she remembered the book. She got 9/10. I was impressed since she hasn't read the books lately.

I almost bought her a book called Prairie Primer a while ago. It is a book that explains the history around the time of the books. It can be a homeschool unit study. You can learn geography, history, English, etc. all in relation to the books. There is also a Little House Cookbook. I picked it up at a garage sale but it's packed up. I guess I didn't realize how much she liked those books. I think I might go ahead and buy the Prairie Primer and we can work through it on Fridays, since she doesn't go to school on Fridays.

Peyton has been working hard on her attitude...which is no easy feat for a 12 y/o girl. She did so good today. After she had a bad attitude, I would tell her and she would find a way to lighten the atmosphere. Her way of doing this is turning on some music...this just gives the room a happier feeling.

She also did well with her chores today. Something we have been working on. I have been making her little lists that say task by task how to get the kitchen clean. The kitchen is her area to clean. Mostly just after meals. But I am finding that the kitchen is looking better everyday.

She also volunteered to make bacon and eggs for dinner. She did pretty good. She made the bacon first. Then she cooked the eggs. The tricky part was watching the eggs and making the toast. Pierce stepped in and helped her so she didn't get too frustrated. All-in-all it's been a great day!!

Learning Letters

I had planned Breesa preschool for the year. However, after stumbling upon www.starfall.com I may have to start over. Starfall has great activities for kids. I was looking for activities I could do with Breesa to work on phonics. We are supposed to be learning letters and their sounds. Well, I found Starfall and decided to let Breesa try her hand at the computer. It was so exciting to see her little brain connecting the dots of how to use and enjoy this computer.

What a natural! Actually, it took her a little while to get used to the eye-hand coordination of using the mouse. She would be jerky or fast. But anyway, she has been playing letters all day. Ok not all day. But after lunch she played a while. I had to set the timer and then put her down for a nap. After her nap, she snuggled on the couch with me. Peyton read her some books. Then I let her play some more.

She was working on the letter H h. The sentence read "See the happy hippo". She told me all the letters except e and i. This morning she didn't even know any little letters except a, which is our letter of the week. I can't believe she picked up those letters with just an afternoon of playing. I am so excited.

We did a lot of preschool today. I made a list of daily subjects. We attempt to get to them but if not no biggie. Here is what our daily check list looks like:

Preschool

Calendar Activities
Month, Day of Week, Date
Weather

Reading
15 minutes of reading

Letter of the Week
Check daily activities

Bible
Read story
Songs
Verse
Practice hymn

Math
Number of the week
Activity or Game

Writing
Pre-writing books

We got to most of this today. We visited the calendar first thing this morning. She liked looking outside the window and then picking the cloud to put on the calendar. She played Hi Ho Cherry-O for math. This may seem silly but she is counting, sorting colors, taking turns, recognizing numbers, getting to spend time with mom "playing". We did different things with the game but all in all it's a math lesson. She also worked in her pre-writing books. This she LOVES to do. Yesterday she circled the "little a's" in the words, though this wasn't the assignment.

After lunch, she got to play on the computer. Then, take her nap.

After her nap, Peyton read books to her. She read a bible story from Breesa's little book of bible stories. Then they read books that I had picked out. The books are mostly letter or number themed. Some are just alphabet books, a few Dr. Seuss books about letters, a counting book with glittery fairies, and one called Five Little Bunnies (similar to Monkeys Jumping on the Bed). I am sure they read longer than 15 minutes. Anyway, I picked all those books to support our number and letter learning. These are the books I put on her desk for easy access.

We didn't get to sing bible songs together. But Breesa often sings as she plays whether they are bible songs or something she is making up as she goes. We also haven't practiced her bible verses or her church song. So we missed a few things. Like I said, we have a list we can follow and we do what we do. But Breesa thinks it is SO fun to do preschool. I have a feeling most days will be like today.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Monday, July 28, 2008

Correction

We spent $120 in groceries last month!! I checked my receipts. Today is the 28th so today's groceries would techinically count for next month. It seems rightfully so considering it will take a few weeks to eat the meat.

We did eat out a few times. We also traveled one weekend. I am so excited!! Make the effort worth while.

What a day...

Well the day started out rainy. The girls played for a while and I read a book. We made our own homemade tortillas. It was tedious!! I rolled and Peyton cooked. Breesa would "smash the balls" before I rolled them. She can't stand to be left out in the kitchen. Anyway, it was a fun experience. Pierce was sleeping and we set off the smoke detector!! I told Breesa to quickly run and tell him everything was ok; Peyton fanned the detector; while I flipped the burning tortilla. That happened two or three times!! Every time Breesa came back and said daddy was still sleeping. When we were finished, we made fajitas mix to go in our new tortillas. When I was making her lunch, she said, "Can I have one without polka dots?" She didn't like the burnt spots. Maybe next time we won't need the smoke detector.

About 5 this evening, we headed to my uncles orchard. We picked black berries and peaches. It was a lot of fun. The girls like being outside and picking is a lot of fun. Usually, we just eat as we walk. But today we brought some home. The peaches were falling off the trees. The plums were also ripe. I ate a few but didn't bring much home.

On our way to his house, one lane of the road was under water. The MoDOT guys were out there shutting it down. So we had to take the long way home. I decided we might as well get some groceries if we were coming through town. I hit the jackpot of meat. Wal-mart had a bunch of meat marked down because the use or freeze by date was getting close. So we bought almost all they had...which was the perfect amount to restock my freezer. We got ribs, chicken wings, ground beef, and ground pork all on sale. The only clearance meat I didn't buy was the turkey brats. I had a bad round of morning sickness on the side of the road in the rain after eating some brats a few months ago. I just left those there. I got this weeks groceries and only spent $66. I always say "this weeks groceries" but they always last longer by the time we finish off leftovers. Oh yeah, I also bought two apple pies that were on the bakery's clearance rack. They were also "use or freeze by"

Peyton was reading through a home ec book we had for homeschool this week. She thought it was neat you could make popcorn on the stove. So we also got popcorn kernels. I was so excited we got so much for $66 and I "splurged a little" and stocked the meat in the freezer!!! I guess it's just the little things in life.

Over all this month, I have spent about $160 for groceries. I spent $50 one week, $50 the next, and $60 this week. It actually took a little longer to eat everything so I think it lasted close to a month!! I am going to double check receipts and dates.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Plain ol' Friday

Well nothing special is going on today. The sun is out so that is nice. The girls and I picked a bunch of apples from the trees in the backyard. We may try a new apple pie recipe. I have a recipe that tells you how to make and freeze the pies. Wouldn't that be wonderful to have 10 apple pies in the fridge and I wouldn't have to make any for a year. I don't really like making apple pie because it takes a lot of patience to peel, sliced, and mix the apples. Then you still have the crust. But apple pie is Pierce's favorite. So it would be nice to have a bunch in the freezer and just pull one out now and again.

Yesterday, we made stuff for Breesa's preschool. She can start when Peyton does in August. I printed out a list of things to learn in preschool. Somethings I know she can do and others I had never thought of. I never ask her questions about the stories we read. But last night we read three stories and she answered lots of questions. So I have made a goals list for her pre-school. Though most of our preschool will be "unschooling". Unschooling is a way of teaching that is student led. At this age it is very appropriate. I am not sure about when she gets older. Anyway, I let her show me what she is interested in and I provide her with materials that help.

Right now Breesa likes to count. She likes to say how many boys and how many girls. Or how many cars, stop lights, plates on the table, crayons on the desk, or what ever else she comes across. So I made a caterpillar and each section of the body has a different number. I also made her a calendar so that she can see the numbers of the days. (There are a lot of things to be learned on a calendar: days of the week, months, holidays, numbers, etc. I also added the weather for a little science.) I made her a little counting game on construction paper and covered it with contact paper so she can use it over and over. I went through all her books and pick out anything to do with counting or numbers. It never surprises what books I can find in her room to go with what ever she likes at the time.

I have tried to provide her with these things so she can play at her own will. I don't say, "it's time for school." I say, "Hey, want to play that counting game." We are going to use the Letter of the Day curriculum from here. We will review uppercase and start learning lower case and letter sounds. I have changed it a little. My grandma left behind OODLES of post cards. I went through them last night and picked out all the animals. I plan to let Breesa choose and animal of the week. Then we can learn about it. That is "child-led" learning.

Well more about the learning later. I will post pictures of her learning area when I finish getting it set up.