Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Restful Weekend

Memorial weekend was very restful for all of us. The kids went with DH camping, and I stayed home to take care of the animals and catch up on work. I got a ton of things done, and actually even had time to cross stitch!! The nicest thing about the family all gone was that I didn't have to stop what I was doing and make dinner, or take care of other things. I could go as long as I liked, and boy, was it productive!!! The kids said they had a great time, and DH enjoyed himself with the kids. He doesn't get much alone time with them, so it was extra special for all of them. It was also a great excuse to have a fire, and DH and the kids love to cook and sit by an open fire.

While the crew was away, I got all caught up on laundry, and with the nice weekend, I could hang it all out. Oh, there's nothing like bed linens dried on the line. The sheets smelled so good when I crawled into bed. I not sure if it was the great smell or just being tuckered out, but I fell asleep almost as soon as my head hit the pillow.

I also got the end of our winter squash out of storage and put up. I can't believe how well they all stored! All of it is now in the freezer, except for the 3 cups I put aside to make pumpkin muffins and pumpkin dinner rolls with. I was finishing up at 11:30pm, put the squash aside to put in the fridge to use up the next morning, and don't know how it happened, but I never put those 3 cups of squash away. SIGH.... It all had to be tossed. The chickens didn't mind one bit, though. They cleaned it all up. Between those birds, the dog, the cats and the compost pile, we don't waste a thing! It was still such a disappointment not being able to bake those pumpkin muffins, though!

I did have some R&R, even with all the work I got done. I had pulled out a XS pattern that I had kitted up a couple of years ago. I've been wanting to start it, but like everything else, something kept coming up. Finally, I decided it was just time to sit down and do something for me :)

This is "Full Winter Moon" by Katherine Moser of Brown House Studio. Stitched on an unknown 32-ct. linen using the recommended DMC and Stranded by the Sea colors.
Memorial weekend was very restful for all of us. The kids went with DH camping, and I stayed home to take care of the animals and catch up on work. I got a ton of things done, and actually even had time to cross stitch!! The nicest thing about the family all gone was that I didn't have to stop what I was doing and make dinner, or take care of other things. I could go as long as I liked, and boy, was it productive!!! The kids said they had a great time, and DH enjoyed himself - but then again, he always enjoys himself when there's a fire involved :-)

I put the finishing stitches in my XS today. I had this kitted up for a few years, and decided that it was time to finally pull it out. That takes another one out of the stash closet.

"Full Winter Moon" by Katherine Moser of Brown House Studio. Stitched on an unknown 32-ct. linen using the recommended DMC and Stranded by the Sea colors.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Free Razor from Old Spice

My son signed up for one of these razors, and he's looking forward to trying it. I thought the offer was just too good not to share.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Free Starbucks Coffee At Home Sample

I received a free sample of coffee from Starbucks on Saturday. I was surprised because it wasn't a small sample, but a whole pot! Sunday morning, we tried our new coffee with the Peaches 'n Cream braid. What a treat!!!

My husband likes a dark, rich flavored coffee, so I chose the Sumatra for our sample. It was described as a deep and earthy flavor. It has almost a smoky flavor when we tasted it black (plain), but with a creamer in it, it's flavor changed and it was really good and rich.

This is definitely worth a try. If you'd like to get your own sample, go to Starbucks Coffee at Home and wait for the page to load in. Then click "Explore our Coffees" and then click on "Enjoy a Complimentary Sample".


My Latest Read

Did you ever buy a book with hopes that you are really going to learn something that will change your life and make it a little better, or a little easier? I came across the book, "How to Survive Without a Salary" by Charles Long, and had some high hopes, especially since DH's job is far from secure at this point. Both DH and I read the book together, and anticipated that we'd soon learn something new: maybe learn something to help with our finances, where we could cut more, and more importantly how to live without a salary... With each page we turned we had hoped for something enlightening to come. It never did.

We didn't find anything new, nor that we haven't tried before. Mind you, if you are starting out on the path to financial freedom, or are looking for ways to cut back, this book has a lot of good ideas and advice. I wouldn't rush out and buy it, though, but would suggest getting it from the library first.

Food Storage

With my searches through youtube, I came across many great places to learn about food storage. The ladies of the Latter Day Saints really have some great systems. I was amazed on how things were put away, and how they organized and kept track of what they had. Their system is something to look into. I have also come across some wonderful information from the Survivalist community as well. Mind you, I'm not saying that I endorse either group. I just find their food storage information very, very useful and enlightening.

One of the things that I had heard on one of the videos that I watched (or maybe it was a radio broadcast) was, if one had stored food back last fall, especially corn, rice and wheat, just look how much money one could be saving now! Yah, I know I'm kicking myself some for that. I put aside looking at how to store the grain for other things, and never got back with it. Now our family is paying dearly for that mistake. We used to pay $6.90 for a 25 pound bag of flour last fall. Now it's over $17 for the same bag from the same supplier.

One Year Supply

When you hear that someone like the LDS ladies has a one year supply, what do you think of? Do you think of groceries? Beans and grains? Maybe all those MRE's that the military uses? For me, I had just figured it was groceries and maybe a few other things. Some of the ladies I saw had a mini store in their basement. I'm not talking about just groceries, either. I mean - everything one would use in a year, it was all there. It was fantastic! Some of the things that they stored, I really didn't know how one could do it. I will definitely be looking more deeply into how they are putting some things up.

My Goal

We have things put up for hard times, but we lack in a lot of areas. My past entries show how we are getting some things for nearly free, free or better than free, and those things are being put away to build up a stock. One example of what has been put away is toothpaste and toothbrushes. I have 10 toothpastes and 9 toothbrushes in a box on the shelf. All were free or better than free. I'm going to try stocking my shelves that way.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Wheat Storage

I have been looking at different places on the net to find information on wheat storage. One of the best finds I had was on This man did a 3 part series on food storage, and has answered a bunch of questions for me. He also did a 2 part follow-up that also needs to be viewed. I had no idea that grains could be stored so long!

The forecast for this week calls for rain showers every day. I put my laundry in last night hoping I could miss the rain and hung out my first load a little after 6:30 am. I got quite lucky, and had things out until noon, when we got hit with rain. Things are mostly dry, so I have the damp items hanging around. I can't tell you how much I had missed the smell of things hung out to dry. Now, I can't wait to see the difference in our electric bill!

We are already on our last loaf of bread, so I took the rest of the morning to make some Honey Oatmeal bread. I used the recipe that I used for my bread maker in a previous post. I doubled the recipe and baked it in 2 large bread pans at 375 degrees F for around 35 minutes. They came out nice. I read that if you cut 2 small x's in the top of the bread, you won't get air bubbles and you'll end up with a nice rounded top. I tried it, and you can see the result for the rounded bread. HA! One went up - one went out. Now, we'll see if I ended up with any hollow spaces.

Now that our "official" school year is over, DD took the day to get out all her summer clothing and sort through them all. She pulled out what no longer fits, and some that were out of style, she decided to keep and revamp them - giving them a new look. She's been at the sewing machine all day, and has done some creative things to them. Other things, she altered to fit her better. She's my fashion diva!

It has been a really nice, productive day at the homestead. :)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Saturday Bread Baking

Yesterday turned out to be a nice day to bake bread. The morning was cool, and it was supposed to rain, so I wasn't planning on working outside. DH asked me to make muffins, but being low on milk and not being able to get it until Monday, made it pretty much impossible. The dairy only bottles milk on Mondays and Thursdays, so we wait until those days to get milk. It's a fresh as it gets. Thursday wasn't a possibility, because of the kids' evaluations, so we just decided to stretch it out instead of buying commercial milk.

I felt badly that DH wasn't getting his muffins, so I asked if he'd liked something like a Danish instead. Would you believe he had no idea what I was talking about. I felt just awful that all these years I was married to him that I never made him anything close to a Danish. What's worse is - my grandmother always made all kinds of yummy things, and I never did for my family. Well, that just had to change!

First thing I did was start 4 loaves of wheat bread. We ground the wheat - making it half red and half white hard wheat. While that was sitting in a bowl to rise, I did the dough for making a sweet dough braid filled with homemade preserves and cream cheese.

Peaches 'n' Cream Braid

Place the following in your mixer using the dough hook:

1 1/2 cups very warm water (110-120 degrees)
3 Tbsp. dry milk powder
2 cups unbleached flour
2 Tbsp. yeast

Mix on low until combined. Add:

3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. sea salt
3 eggs
3/4 cup oil

Mix until combined and then add unbleached flour - 1 cup at a time (up to 6 more cups). Add until you end up with a soft workable dough. Knead for 2 minutes with KitchenAid on #2 or on medium speed with another mixer for 5 minutes.

Turn out dough on a lightly floured surface and divide into 3 equal parts. (Weigh to get more accurate sizes). Roll each on into a 9" x 12" rectangle. Spread 1/3 of filling (see below for recipe) and approximately 1/2 cup of an all fruit peach preserve (really any flavor works with this recipe - we used homemade peach jam on 2 of them, and some homemade strawberry rhubarb on the other.) Make cuts into dough at 1" intervals along the long side of the rectangle - keeping about 1/2" away from the filling (this prevents leakage). Fold and overlap the strips diagonally over the filling in a braid-like fashion. Let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes to an hour. This braid doesn't raise much until it goes into the oven, where it will make a lovely size bread. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until done. Drizzle with a mixture of Confectioner's sugar, a little milk and a couple of drops of almond extract (make it a pretty thick spreading type consistency) while the braids are warm. You can also sprinkle with toasted sliced almonds.

Filling Mixture: Blend 8oz cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar and 1 Tbsp. lemon juice until smooth and creamy.

After I set aside the braids to rise, I shaped the wheat bread into 4 1-1/4 pound loaves. They rose and baked just in time to put the braids in. They all turned out lovely, and while I was getting things set up to take a photograph, the crew came in hungry for dinner, and spied the bread. So much for a photograph this time! LOL

**Graphic from **

Friday, May 16, 2008

Baking and Loving It!

The new KitchenAid mixer had become my new love. I have been putting it to the test, trying out new recipes and all I can say is that we are going to have a long and happy relationship.

We have been spending a lot of time finishing up the school year. The kids had their evaluations on Thursday, and all went very well. When they took the time to look at their portfolios, they were surprised at how much they really had accomplished in a year. When not working on school, I was working with our budget and coupons, and spending the rest of the time in the kitchen experimenting with new bread recipes.

The first recipe I made was the cheddar cheese cracker recipe from the manual that came with my KA. To say they turned out YUMMY is an understatement! These were fantastic!!! My husband was not looking forward to crackers since my last batch that turned out OK, but didn't stay crisp. This recipe put out a nice size batch, and my sweet hubby has asked me to make them again - soon.

Crispy Cheese Wafers

3 cups shredded extra sharp Cheddar Cheese
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon cayenne

Mix cheese and butter in bowl - using flat better to mix. Mix on low for about 45 seconds to combine. Beat on medium for about 30 seconds, or until well blended. Add flour and cayenne, and mix on stir for 45 seconds or until mixture forms a ball. (or stir in by hand - or low with another beater)

Divide dough in half. Wrap one half in plastic wrap and place in fridge. On floured surface, roll remaining half of dough to 1/4" thick. Cut into squares or desired shapes. With floured spatula, place on large, lightly greased baking sheet. (prick with fork if desired). Bake at 375 degrees F for 10-12 minutes or until set. Let stand one minute, then transfer onto wire racks to cool. Repeat with remaining dough.

We tried these at different points of "doneness": Baking until set - with hardly any color change, then with them being a bit golden, and some a darker golden. The lightly golden had the best flavor according to DH and myself, the darker golden was DD's favorite, and the one with hardly any color change was DS's favorite.

I also tried my hand at making French bread using Garden Gnome's recipe and instructions for making it in the KitchenAid. We were pleased with the results, but I have not found the exact bread I'm looking for yet. The search will continue on this one. I'm looking for more of the classic taste. DH was still very happy and ended up taking part of one for his lunch. He took a hoagie for lunch and said it made a nice tasting roll for it.

**Public domain image from United States Dept. of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service. Photo by Scott Bauer.**

Monday, May 12, 2008

My Family Is a Blessing

There are days that I sometimes wonder what life would have been like had I decided to go back to work and be the career person that all my old friends encouraged me to be. They thought I was wasting my time "sitting at home and playing house". They thought I should get back to having a "real job" like they did. I think about those "helpful suggestions" and look at my family, and know that I did the right thing, and stayed home to have my "real job" just as the Lord had intended. It was difficult watching my friendships dissolve, because our beliefs and points of view were so different.

I am truly blessed with such a wonderful family, and I know every time I look at them, I've done the right thing staying home and home schooling. Seriously, I don't think I gave a thing up to be home, but instead I've gotten so much more than I ever did from working outside the home.

This past week is just one example that I'm truly blessed. Thursday was my birthday. My husband took off work, and he and the kids let me sleep in, while they made breakfast. I was treated to sausage and gravy over biscuits, scrambled eggs, toast, orange juice and coffee. The whole day I was not allowed to do anything, but just relax and enjoy the day. While I was relaxing, they made me a chocolate cake (from scratch) with peanut butter icing. Then they made a tomato, garlic, and onion pizza for supper. YUMM!!! After the yummy cake, was present time. DD gave me a set of earphones for my MP3 player. I accidently cut the wire on my other ones last year while I was gardening. My DS gave me a certificate for the movies and it had to be a movie of my choice - not one the whole family would like. If I couldn't find anything at the movies, the certificate stated that I could buy 2 DVD's of my choice instead. :) DH gave me a box that contained a repair kit for my new headphones just in case I decided to cut the wires again. (HAHAHAHA!!!) In the bottom of the box was shipping info for my gift that hadn't arrived yet, with no clue what it was, except that it was in transit. For the evening treat, we played Mario Kart and watched and Indiana Jones movie. I had a fantastic birthday - one that made me realize how much Iwas appreciated and loved!

Friday, my birthday present arrived, but the kids scooted it in the house before I could see it. DH wanted me to wait until he got home to open it. When it came, it was very obvious what the package held, and they didn't want me to have any hint of what it was. It was a long wait until DH got home, as I am so childlike when it comes to surprises - I love them, but hate to wait to get them :) Oh, but the wait was sooooo worth it! I was absolutely stunned! DH bought me the mixer of my dreams...

A Kitchen Aid Professional 600 series (6 qt.). It has a 575 watt motor and mixes like a dream! The first thing I made was Cheddar Cheese Crackers from the Kitchen Aid book that came with the mixer. They were so easy and tasted so good!! To make it even sweeter, all has not arrived. There is still an ice cream maker that will be sent to me when the rebate form is sent in!!

You would think that things couldn't be any better, but Mother's Day came, and again, I got treated to a great breakfast. We had pancakes, sausage, orange juice, and coffee. For my Mother's Day gift, everyone went out and put up a lovely clothes line for me.

YAY!!! Now, I will once again have freshly dried clothes. I have missed this luxary for the last few years. How could my week get any better? By having dinner made for me. We had some of the best home grilled burgers!! The kids did a wonderful job cooking - with just a bit of help from DH. We were all so full that we didn't even eat dessert, but instead had Bible study, then played Mario Kart. I'm sure if anyone went past our house while we were playing, they probably thought we were nuts - all the squeals that came from all of us while we played. Mario Kart has got to be one of our family's favorite games. It was sad that the weekend had to end. I haven't had so much fun in a long time

Today I was hoping to be able to wash and hang clothes out on my new clothes line, but I woke up to a nice rainy day. Instead, I spent the day going through some boxes from the attic. Out of everything I've brought down, I've decided to weed out about 2/3's of the stuff. So far, I've been successful. I've listed a bunch of books on Paperback Swap, and have a box full of stuff to give away on FreeCycle. I decided that I was going to go through things as if we were moving away. If it's not worth taking to a new home, why am I keeping it?