Bugs Be Gone!

Hey y’all! Sorry I haven’t posted in a while. It has been crazy around here. First Matthew was sick and had to be hospitalized for a couple weeks so I was home alone with the kids. Then it’s just been a mad house around here with court dates, school, appointments, and the summer weather calls us outside.

Anyway, with it being almost summer (sure feels like it today) I thought I’d share some good all natural bug sprays you can make and use at home. I’m sure you all know about the risks of using commercial insect repellents with Deet in them. Everything that touches your skin is absorbed in to your blood stream. However, sometimes it is necessary to use them; like in a particularly mosquito infested place it would be a good idea to spray it on clothing to keep disease-carrying insects away. Please read the label before applying as some of these can be quite risky for children and are not really supposed to go on your skin. But, there are other options that are less scary to use every day while out in the yard, going to the park, etc.

First off I’ll share some essential oils that are great for deterring bugs:

I’ve added links to each oil and I urge you to do your own research before using. If you read about each oil you will see the many amazing uses for them; I’ve just highlighted ones pertaining to insects. Also, plants like citronella, lemongrass, and peppermint are great to plant in the garden to help keep bugs away as well.

I highly recommend everyone owning a bottle of tea tree oil. I put it in my kids’s hair dangler to ward away lice as they are in school, but there are so many amazing uses for it. I also apply to directly to pimples to dry them out. You could also put a few drops in their shampoo or conditioner (you can buy ones with it already in, too) or even just mix some with water and spray their hair before going to school. I even spray it in my hair just in case. I’m terrified of lice and now that I have two kids in kindergarten and one in preschool I think about it all the time! We haven’t had any so far though so I’m thankful for that.

This is the bug spray I used all last summer and I will definitely use it again!20160503_130623_1

Ingredients
  • ¼ cup Water
  • ¼ cup Witch Hazel
  • 1 Tbsp Epsom Salts
  • 1 Tbsp Aloe Vera Gel
  • 15 drops Citronella essential oil
  • 10 drops of each Tea Tree, Lavender, and Eucalyptus essential oils
  • 1 tsp Vitamin E oil (optional for extra moisturizer)
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients together in a spray bottle and shake before using. Spray as necessary!

What I like about this bug spray is that it also has Aloe Vera, Epsom salts, and Witch Hazel which are all great for soothing sun burns and itchiness caused by bug bites (from not using the spray ;)).

I also found this post if you’d like to try some other blends and see what works best for you. Here is another site with some great recipes to try as well. Here is one last one that uses apple cider vinegar in it.

I hope this helps keep you bug and itch-free this summer. Enjoy your day!

 

“He answered: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’, and ‘Love your neighbors as yourself.”      Luke 10:27

 

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Sprays!

So this week I’m kind of obsessed with sprays! I’ve already made an all-purpose cleaning 20160302_181156
spray that I’ve already talked about and I love and use every day; but this week I wanted to try some different kind of sprays.

The first spray I’d like to share is one that I’ve been using for a while now. I have three little girls who love to do somersaults and roll all over their beds at night…but they also all want hair down to their bums. You can guess what that means. Yup…crazy, messy, bird’s nest hair every single morning. I had to find a good way to help get the tangles out of their hair in a mostly-painless way. I tried buying hair detanglers, but then I thought “I could probably make something with stuff I have around the house!” Sure enough, I found a simple recipe that works great and smells great.

I can’t remember where I found the recipe; if I find it I will post it here. But here is how I 20160302_182901make it:

Ingredients:

  • Spray bottle
  • 1-2 tbsp conditioner
  • 1-2 tsp coconut oil
  • 6-12 drops Tea Tree oil
  • 6 drops Rosemary oil
  • Vitamin E oil

Directions:

  • Put all of your ingredients in the bottle, then add hot water.
  • Shake and spray on hair then brush.

That’s it! Super easy and it smells great. The conditioner and coconut oil are both great for making hair soft and helping the brush run through easier. The Vitamin E makes hair stronger and healthier and the rosemary oil makes hair grow faster. The tea tree oil is my favorite part because great for kids in school as it’s a natural lice repellent. Just make sure you shake it up every time you use it!

The next spray I tried was “The Good Morning Wake Up Spritzer“. When I found this recipe I just had to try it. I’m not sure if you’d call me a morning person. I mean, I can get out of bed at 7:00 and not push snooze if that counts. My mom would say it does…but she is a night owl and I definitely am not! Anyways, I thought this would smell great and be fun to spray on in the mornings so I gave it a try. I usually start feeling tired in the afternoons so I like that I can spray this on anytime of day. Here is what I did: 20160302_183440

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp witch hazel
  • filtered water
  • 3 drops Patchouli oil
  • 4 drops Bergamot oil

  • 8 drops Lemongrass oil

  • 6 drops Orange oil

  • 8 drops Lemon oil

  • 6 drops Peppermint oil

  • 4 oz. blue glass spray bottle

Directions:

  • Add the witch hazel into the bottle first. Then drop in the essential oils in the above water, gently swishing the bottle between each oil. Then simply fill up the rest with the water.
  • Make sure you put a label on it so you remember what’s inside!

The final spray I will share today is the “Skin Cleaning Face Mist“. I was excited when I found this recipe because I love finding ways to incorporate tea in to different things. I have never had an acne problem, but I do have a greasy T-zone so I get a few between my eyebrows, around the hair line, and on my chin. I have already shared my lotion recipe that I use every morning and every night, but I thought this would be fun to try as well. Anyways, here’s how I made it:

Ingredients: 20160302_203708

  • 2 tsp Epsom salt (the recipe says Himalayan salt but I read the reviews and someone recommended Epsom salts and I already had those so I used them)
  • 1 cup Chamomile Bloom with added peppermint leaves
  • 1/2 tsp Tea Tree oil (Is this not the most amazing oil?!)
  • 3 drops Lavender oil
  • 3 drops Lemongrass oil

Directions:

  • To make, first brew a cup of tea. While it’s still hot, add in your salt and mix well to dissolve. Then, mix in your tea tree oil and essential oils, and allow to cool. Funnel your mixture into a glass spray bottle, and you’re good to go!

This is a great combination of oils because lavender is a natural antiseptic, lemongrass lightens the mood, and tea tree kills bacteria. Chamomile is calming and peppermint cools the skin (so it’s great to use when it’s hot out or after a work out). Epsom salts are amazing for it’s healing properties and like a million other reasons you can read about here. Plus the magnesium in it is a bonus! This spray just makes your face feel awesome.

Well, that’s all I’ll share today! I hope you find a spray that you’d like to try and let me know how it works for you.

Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”           John 7:38

Gyros and Rice

So I tried something new for supper tonight and I just have to share it. I don’t know about you guys, but once in a while I need to try something that I’ve never made before. Matthew always shivers slightly when I tell him I’m trying something new. I guess he has good reason. Most of the time it turns outs awesome…but sometimes not so much. Over the years I have seen him respond to these food adventures in different ways…from cringing at the first bite, to telling me it’s “not bad”, and even telling me I need to make it again. Tonight’s meal was the latter. Even when I told him what was in it, he still wants me to make it again! (He’s usually not a fan of using tea in foods.) I call that a success.

Now to be fair, we tried gyros for the first time last week so that wasn’t new. Everyone loved them so much I had to make them again. We made them with garlic pita bread, baked chicken, lettuce, cheese, and tzatziki. This time I decided to make the chicken a little more interesting so I started with Baked Honey Mustard Chicken. I didn’t quite have all the spices so here is my improvised recipe: 20160223_181417

Ingredients:

  • 4 large chicken breasts
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup honey mustard
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp marjoram

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  • Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt and pepper to taste, and place in a lightly greased 9×13 inch baking dish. In a small bowl, combine the honey, mustard, oregano, paprika, and marjoram. Mix well. Pour 1/2 of this mixture over the chicken, and brush to cover.
  • Bake for 30 minutes. Turn chicken pieces over and brush with the remaining 1/2 of the honey mustard mixture. Bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear. Cut in to pieces.

When everything was ready we made the gyros the same as before. We like to warm up the pitas in the oven for 90 seconds at 200 degrees first. Then I spread some tzatziki over it and placed lettuce, chicken, shredded cheese, and Matthew and I like to add some green onion.

For the side dish I tried rice this time. I saw a post about Jasmine rice and thought that sounded good…but I didn’t have Jasmine tea or the special rice so I improvised again. Here is what I did: 20160223_182237

Ingredients:

  • water
  • brown rice
  • honey green tea
  • chopped green onion
  • slivered almonds
  • margarine
  • sea salt

Directions:

  • Read instructions on the box for how to make rice. Different kinds of rice have different instructions so just follow yours. Mine said to boil the water first. So as it was boiling I put some tea in a strainer ball and swished it around in the water until it was fragrant (then I put the tea leaves in my tea maker and drank some yummy honey green tea all evening). Then I cooked the rice like normal.
  • After it was cooked I added some margarine, green onion, salt, and almonds. You can add as much or as little as you like.

20160223_182847And that’s it! Let me know if you try it and if you liked it. A lot of times there are recipes that sound really good but I don’t have all the stuff handy so I just improvise. Usually they turn out alright. Let me know if you do that, too!

We wait in hope for the Lord;
    he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
    for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
    even as we put our hope in you.                                                                          Psalm 33:20-22

 

 

This Week

I know you’re all wondering how court went again yesterday, but we have no new news. It

20160128_191130

Don’t really have any new pictures to share 🙂

was adjourned again for another 3 weeks. It is a little frustrating that no decisions have been made yet. Yes I want princess to stay around as long as possible, but they’ve been putting off making any decisions for 6 months already.

On a brighter note, I think we’re all on the mend finally. My cough is almost gone and the girls’s are on the way out too. Thankfully, Matthew didn’t get the chest infection as well (fingers crossed). Munchkin had pink eye again today, but she let me put eye drops in without screaming or flailing (win!). Plus it was nice enough to go to the park today, so the kids really enjoyed that. Aaaand I packed chocolate chip pancakes and fruit salad for lunch tomorrow so I pretty much feel like an awesome mom right now.

20160123_121245

“Dragon” bun

Actually I’ve been trying to come up with some creative lunch meals, as they aren’t allowed to bring any food that needs to be warmed up. My go-to is usually just a sandwich, a fruit, and a veggie…but the girls are getting pretty bored with that. On Monday I packed English muffin pizza buns, which the girls really enjoyed. Today we had tuna with cheese, green onion, and pickles on vegetable crackers. Tomorrow will be chocolate chip pancakes and fruit salad (as previously stated :)) and Thursday will be pigs in a blanket. Friday is the girls’s Valentine’s party at school so I’m going to pack some strawberry muffins with ham, cheese, and veggie crackers. Sounds like a pretty yummy week to me!

I don’t really have much more to report at the moment, but I’m going to try to do a few posts here and there when things do happen for those of you who wonder what’s up. I’m also hoping to do a few posts in the future about some things that I’m trying at home that I’m pretty excited about so far! I hope they continue to be great so I can share them soon!

I’m going to share a quick house cleaning recipe because I’ve been impressed with how well it’s been working.

All Purpose Cleaner

  • 2 tbspDr. Bronner’s liquid soap (I like the peppermint)
  • 20-30 drops tea tree oil
  • 1 cup white vinegar (optional)
  • Warm water
  • Spray bottle

Directions

  • Add 3 Tablespoons of your favorite Dr. Bronner’s castile soap, 1 cup of vinegar, and 20-30 drops of tea tree oil to a 16 oz. spray bottle.
  • Fill nearly to the top with warm water.
  • Shake it well and spray it on bathroom or kitchen surfaces, floors, even dirty little hands if they’re nearby. Wipe off with a damp cloth.

This has been working really well for me so far. If there’s a stubborn dirt spot just spray it and let it sit for a minute or so and then wipe it. I love that you can use it on pretty much everything! You can use unscented soap if you want and use a different essential oil or blend of oils that you like (like lemon). The great thing about making your own is you can personalize it!

If you look around on Pinterest there are a lot of other great non-harmful cleaners you can make easily. It’s great to have an every day one that isn’t full of harmful chemicals or fragrances…especially if there are little ones around. I know some cleaners out there that burn the inside of your nose when you use it! They can’t really be good to be around right? Ones with Dr. Bronner’s soap, vinegar or apple cider vinegar would be good too. Vinegar has a lot of great uses…especially apple cider vinegar which can be used in everything from cleaners to diabetes to weight loss. Here is some information about apple cider vinegar. There are some others that use real lemons or oranges that would be fun, too, and both have great natural cleaning properties.

 

Busy!

Sorry y’all! We have had a house full of sickies this past week. I’m pretty sure all three girls now have the same chest infection as me. I took two of them to the doctor this morning and he gave them both some antibiotics and an inhaler to help. Both of them have had days that their coughing is so bad I think they’re going to puke. Hopefully this helps…and quickly. I didn’t want to take all three to the doctor by myself (sometimes it’s over an hour wait to see the doctor) so Matthew will take the other one tomorrow, but I’m sure she’ll be put on the same medications. So far Matthew hasn’t been coughing up a lung like the rest of us, but he’s been having some problems with his eyes. not really sure what’s going on there, but he’s trying some eye drops so hopefully those help. He also has some kind of sciatica in his legs, so that’s been pretty painful as well.

funky-monkey-sand-drenched

Just like this guy!

I know everyone’s been waiting on pins and needles to find out what happened at court today. I know I’ve been dreading this day for the past month. Before Christmas it seemed so far away, but once the new year hit it rushed up like a dehydrated monkey in the desert after he spots an oasis. Unfortunately they told us the wrong date for two of our little munchkins and it’s actually next Monday. For the other one, they’ve decided to go to trial so we’ll be waiting to hear when this is. So we still don’t have any answers today, but hopefully when they do make a decision it is one that is best for the
girls. They are amazing girls and they deserve to have the best life they possibly can!

20160201_152912I’m not going to write anything else today as it has been
a really crazy day. With zumba, the doctor’s trip, groceries, another trip to the store, reading for small group tonight, and making sticker chore charts for the girls I don’t have much time today! So I guess I’ll leave you with this today; we must always cling to the absolute fact that there is always hope. With Jesus, no one can ever take that away from us.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14

 

Lotion Potion

Sorry, I know I haven’t posted for a while. I decided to take a bit of time after grandma 20160125_104236[1]passed to remember her…plus I’ve had this awful cough for 5 weeks now so I haven’t been feeling the greatest. We’re not positive what this is but it’s definitely some kind of chest infection. I was put on antibiotics and given some kind of cough syrup and I think it’s slowly starting to go away. Everyone else in the house is coughing though, too. I can hear all three girls coughing at night and even Matthew is not feeling well now. Children under 6 really aren’t supposed to have cough medicine so I got them some Stodal honey cough syrup. It’s a homeopathic medicine with honey that’s really popular in the east. It seems to help their coughs so I am happy with it. I’ve also had my diffuser on constantly with Thieves oil to help!

Anyway, I guess I’ll start with what I wanted to talk about today. In the past I’ve talked about how awesome coconut oil is, and I’m sure this will not be the last time! I’ll be sharing a quick lotion recipe that is good for really dry skin and some lotions I love. First I’ll just share how I came about deciding to use it.

I’m sure that many of you suffer with eczema brought on by our harsh Saskatchewan winters. The dry air and cold winds just suck all the moisture out of our skin. All three of our girls have had it pretty bad on their faces; it doesn’t help that they’ve also had runny noses because of the cold, too. They always lick their lips and the skin around their lips, which also contributes to it. (I’ll add a picture sometime if it happens again, but we’ve been managing it pretty well so it hasn’t been bad in a while.) I mostly suffer with super dry hands in the winter time. If I don’t put lotion on many times a day, they will actually crack and bleed. It’s been like that as long as I can remember.

Anyway, they were all complaining that their faces hurt; and it really looked sore. They had red blotches all around their mouths and up their cheeks and their hands were just 20160125_103912dried out as well. I could’ve went to the doctor and gotten a medicated lotion, but I wanted to try something a little simpler first so I found a recipe that only uses 3-4 ingredients. Here is the recipe that I use.

The Best Lotion For Dry Skin

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup shea butter
  • 10 drops lavender essential oil
  • 10 drops tea tree oil

Just whip it all together and you’re good to go! The longer you whip it, the fluffier it will get. Not everyone likes the smell of those two mixed together, but it really works. You can leave out the shea butter if you don’t have any. Coconut oil itself will work great!

I’ve never had a problem with dry skin on my face (in fact I have an oily T-zone so I’ve always been scared to put lotions on my face) but I put this on my face every morning after I shower and every night before bed and my skin feels amazing! I love how soft and healthy it makes my skin feel. Lavender and tea tree oil are both antibacterial so it’s just a great combination. I like to put this on my feet at 20160125_103528night, too and I even put it on my tattoo to brighten it up.

I know I’ve said this before, but I love the Barefoot Venus lotions. I use these for my hands every single day. They have many great scents and they use natural ingredients, which I love! My favorite one is this macadamia oil body cream which is scented with pink grapefruit, bergamot and peppermint oils. I also really like the Hunny Mango body cream because the smell reminds me of Hawaii.

At night time I like to use the 20160125_103542instant hand repair butters. You can get them in any scent that the creams come in. Right now I have the Vanilla Shake, but I’m not a huge vanilla fan and I prefer the citrus scents. I like these at night because they are heavier and don’t soak in as quickly so they work all night and in the morning my hands are nice 20160125_103512and soft.

The only place in town I’ve found these at is Pharmasave. They always have some testers there so you can try or smell them to which one you like. I like the Lilly Pilly and Gingerly scents as well but haven’t tried them yet as one bottle lasts quite a while. I have tried the Gingerly hand soap, though, and quite enjoyed it. I also love their mustard bath because it smells amazing and makes you feel really relaxed.

That’s all for now! I hope you enjoy the dry skin lotion, I know we have. I keep a jar upstairs for bedtime and one in the diaper bag for travel. The girls ask for it every single night because they know it works. They want me to put it on every singly “owie” they get because they think it fixes everything. I also hope you enjoy the lotion suggestions. I’ve had incredibly dry hands since I was a child (ask my mom!) and this stuff has definitely worked the best.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Philippians 4:8 NIV

 

Elsie

I’m sitting here trying to rack my brain on what to write and how to write this. At 5:27 pm20141111_140358.jpg on January 18, 2016 my dad called me and told me that my grandma had passed away. For a few moments I had no words. Tears filled my eyes and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. My grandma wasn’t here anymore…. She wasn’t in her little house watching the weather channel while drinking tea, she wasn’t dusting her doll collection, she wasn’t about to call me to check in and see how the weather was in her old town or asking to fill her in on how the family’s doing. She was gone…leaving behind 2 of her 3 children, 10 grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren.

When I think about my grandma, I always think about her in her old home…the one she 20160118_215100moved in to after my grandpa passed away and she moved to the city. My grandma was an amazing artist. Her medium was porcelain. She painted dolls, plates, china cups, tiles, hot plates, tea pots, etc. They were very, very good! Her kitchen had a shelf that spanned two walls, plus another in the living room, on which she displayed her plates. She had more china cabinets than I can really remember, all full of her treasures. The ones on the main floor were for her smaller pieces, like smaller dolls, figurines, etc. The basement was full of her porcelain dolls. She had collectors dolls, like the princess Diana wedding set and the quintets, and an assortment of ones she’d made herself that were all beautiful. She also collected beanie babies because she figured they’d be MMS82.jpgworth something someday.

My grandma was a very unique lady and here are some things that will always make me think of her: the pink chesterfields in her living room, the giant ornate mirror, the rocking armchair in her kitchen, taking panorama pictures, floral shirts and skirts with slippers, the smell of mothballs, her sunroom, and Sunny D are just a few. We would always fight over who got to sit in that big armchair! Otherwise you had to sit on one of the dining chairs while everyone visited. When we were little, she had a closet in the hallway that had some toys in it and as a kid I remember going straight to the closet to try and grab the best toys before my siblings got there. I also remember getting freaked out at the porcelain mannequin sitting at the end of the hallway next to the mirror.

My grandma was very thoughtful in her own way. She would find pamphlets, articles, or newspaper clippings that she thought contained very useful information that she wanted to pass on to us. I still remember getting slightly traumatized at age 16 when she gave me a pamphlet on how not to get traveler’s diarrhea. Or the time she told me never to shave my legs because eventually all the hair would fall out anyways. She loved her family deeply, even if we didn’t always understand the ways she showed it. She thought about us all constantly.

20160118_215009

Left: A rhino (Grimace) she gave Matthew after he commented on it. Right: Scorch, my favorite stuffie growing up.

I guess my grandpa was the conversationalist of the pair; that’s what I’m told anyways, as he passed when I was just one year old. But she loved having visitors. She liked to putter around making sure people were fed and watered and had everything they needed. She had her special chair at the table that everyone knew was grandma’s chair. We often had to tell her to just sit and eat with us because she was so busy checking on everything and everyone. I don’t think I’ll ever forget her carrot jello (orange jello with shaved carrots inside) or her cupboard full of boxes and boxes of teas.

You never knew when she was going to give you a gift. You could go years without a birthday or Christmas present, but you’d go for a random visit and she’d send you home with a stuffed animal (that turns out to be your favorite for many years) or just some clothes that she wore as a young lady and thought you might like. Or one time we convinced her that she needed to get another VHS movie because basically all she had was The Adventures of Milo and Otis and we’d seen it about a million times. So we went to the store and picked out Atlantis and watched that one a million times, too.

She was always there for us when we needed her. She was basically the sole carer for my uncle when he lived in the hospital and couldn’t take care of himselfIMG-20110212-00080 anymore. She visited him almost daily and took care of anything he needed. She always had a room ready for anyone. The hide-a-bed was not always the comfiest, but it was always perfectly made up when we went to visit…right next to the Christmas tree that stayed up all year with a bag on it. She would always have a bed waiting for me if I needed to stay for a weekend while I was working at camp or just wanted to come visit friends. When my cousin needed a place to live for a while, she offered her downstairs bedroom to him. When it was my turn to need somewhere to live, she didn’t even hesitate and even made me porridge every morning and gave me as many canned crab apples as I wanted. I was staying there when I got the call about Matthew having cancer and I was living there when he proposed.

 

 

1950 John & Elsie wedding (color)I’ll never forget my grandma. She was a very special and hardworking woman and she always supported me. There are so many memories I have of her, it was hard to just pick a few. Yes she’s gone, but we’ll never forget the time we spent with her and how special she was to us. I have already shed tears for her and I will shed more as more memories come forward; but I will always smile when I think of the times we spent together.

We all have our own stories to share of times with her. If you have any of her or my grandpa please share them in the comments, I’d love to read all of them!

 

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.       Romans 15:13

 

 

Meat You in the Middle

I don’t have to tell you guys how important beef is on the prairies! We raise it, we sell it, we eat it…a lot. Everybody has their favorite beef infused dishes and I’m no exception. I’ll just quickly be sharing a couple recipes that I have tried many times and they’ve always come out great!

This first dish is one that I’ve been using for many years. As a teenager I did a lot of cooking for the family and let me tell you, it can be difficult to find a good recipe for 7 people…especially one that everyone likes. We had a ton of Company’s Coming cookbooks and this one hails from the Casseroles book.

Beef and Corn Bake

Ingredients

20160117_171512

Ok so I’m not so neat at pouring stuff in…still tastes good!

  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil*
  • 12 oz kernel corn**
  • 2 – 10 oz condensed tomato soup
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 2 cups cooked noodles***
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Directions

  • Put ground beef, onion, and oil in frying pan. Stir to break up meat as it browns. Drain off fat. Discard. Put meat mixture into large bowl.
  • Put corn, soup, salt, pepper, and ketchup into same bowl. Stir to mix together with meat.
  • Prepare noodles according to package directions. Drain. Measure. Combine with all ingredients in bowl. Pour into 3-quart casserole.
  • Sprinkle grated cheese over top. Cover. Bake in 350ºF oven for 45 minutes. Remove cover and continue to bake until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serves 6-8.

*I have never used this much oil. I usually just put a thin layer on the bottom. You can use any kind of cooking oil.

**This recipe is amazing with corn but some frozen mixed vegetables work great too.

***I like to use elbow macaroni!

The next recipe I’d like to share is this one for sweet and sour meatballs. I’ve made this one a few times and it just tastes great. Even Matthew loves this recipe and asks me to make it all the time! In fact, I just made 3 meals worth of meatballs yesterday and put them in the freezer. They are really great served over rice.

The Best Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Ingredients 

20160117_171318

Mmm…meatballs!

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce

Directions

  • In a medium bowl, combine the ground beef, egg, bread crumbs and onion. Mix thoroughly and shape into golf ball-sized balls.
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, gently brown the meatballs and set aside.
  • In a large saucepan, combine the brown sugar, flour, water, white vinegar and soy sauce. Mix thoroughly. Add meatballs and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, for 30 minutes.

Now if you don’t like sweet and sour or you want a different sauce, just do the first two bullets and then add them to whatever sauce you want. They are also great with spaghetti!

I hope you like these recipes as much as we do! The kids always gobble both of these dishes up and Matthew tells me all the time that he wishes he didn’t have to share the meatballs and could eat them all.

The Weak and the Strong – Romans 14

Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.   Romans 14:5-6

 

 

Alot of Oatmeal

Today I’m just going to be sharing a short post as it’s pretty busy this weekend! My brother is visiting for a few days and we are going to a special little 3 year old’s birthday party later on.

I woke up this morning wondering what I should make for breakfast. I pondered cereal, toast, bagels, eggs…but all of a sudden I got a massive hankering for butterscotch oatmeal. It is seriously the best oatmeal I’ve ever had! Here is the recipe for my favorite oatmeal. 20160116_092230

Ingredients

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Directions

  • In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the egg, milk and brown sugar. Mix in the oats. When the oatmeal begins to boil, cook and stir until thick. Remove from the heat, and stir in butter until melted. Serve immediately.

If you’re a tea drinker, like me, then another great way to eat oatmeal is to use tea instead of water. Just make your favorite tea and pour it over the oats and let them cook! It tastes amazing and, if you’ve made enough, then you have leftover tea to drink!

I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I do!

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23 

All Sorrows Are Less With Bread

First of all, I am so proud of my little girl! She lost 2 teeth yesterday! This is my first time 20160113_214230handling lost teeth and I was totally unprepared. I had to quickly run to the store and get some “tooth fairy” stuff and then try and get it done before she went to bed. She was pretty excited to lay her teeth in the tooth fairy bed and then see that they were replaced with prizes this morning! I have a feeling that she’ll be talking about this until her next tooth falls out.

Bread

So today I’m going to do something a little different than other posts. Today is bread making day! I love bread making day. The house smells amazing and it’s actually pretty fun to make your own bread. I’ve only been doing it for a couple months, but I hope I can keep this up!

I have always loved baking. I mean, cooking is alright but nothing compares with baking. I’m not sure what it is. I love measuring out the flour and sugar, cracking the eggs, the smell of the kitchen, and (of course) licking the bowl after! Although I wouldn’t want to lick the bread bowl afterwards, it’s still baking and it’s still fun. Growing up as the eldest child in a house of 7 people, I had a lot of chances to cook and bake. Instead of doing just a batch of cookies, I’d have to do at least 3. Of course, we’d try to freeze some for lunches 20160114_093742and stuff…but they still didn’t last super long.

I’ve always been drawn to the kitchen though. Whenever chores were divvied, I was often on kitchen duty. Even now the kitchen feels like center of my house, and I spend a lot of time in it. As I write this post I’m sitting at my kitchen counter drinking some chamomile tea enjoying the focus concentration blend in my diffuser.  It doesn’t help that I have an awesome kitchen! I love my wrap around counter…although I wish these stools were a bit softer. I like to fill my kitchen (and house) with pictures of the people I love and my “china cabinet” is full of my treasures and memories. It’s just an overall calming place for me.

Anyway, back to bread! Here is the recipe that I love using. I have used other recipes, but this one always turns out great for me.

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Traditional White Bread

Ingredients

  • 2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast20160114_103650
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 3 tablespoons lard, softened*
  • 1 tablespoon salt**
  • 6 1/2 cups bread flour***

Directions

  • In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Stir in lard, salt and two cups of the flour. Stir in the remaining flour, 20160114_1141361/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.
  • Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

    20160114_141737

    Mmm fresh!

  • Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and form into loaves. Place the loaves into two lightly greased 9×5 inch loaf pans. Cover
    the loaves with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
  • Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for about 30 minutes or until the top is golden
    brown and the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.

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*I usually substitute for margarine. I’ve also tried coconut oil and it turned out well but 20151225_201240just didn’t rise quite as much when baked.

**I always follow one of the comment suggestions and use less salt. Usually about 1 tsp – 1/2 tbsp.

***I like to just use all-purpose flour. I have used whole wheat flour and it worked well, but the bread was a little drier than with the all-purpose flour.

I often knead my bread by hand because it’s fun and therapeutic. But sometimes I use my awesome KitchenAid mixer that I got for Christmas! I’ve been wanting one for so long and I’m pretty pumped that I have one now!

Butter

I think I’d really like to try making my own butter, too. There is nothing better than a slice of homemade bread, fresh out of the oven, with butter on it. Yum! This recipe looks pretty good. If I ever get my hands on some heavy whipping cream I’ll definitely be trying it. Here is another super easy one.

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Blender Butter

Ingredients

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ice water

Yep. That’s it. Oh yeah…and a blender (at least for this version.) Oh, and something to

IMG_5627

Old picture of my “china cabinet”

strain the butter/buttermilk. But THAT’S it.

Directions:

  • You want to start with the cream at room temperature…it will go a lot faster that way. Pour the cream into the blender.
  • Add salt to taste if desired. I used about a 1/4 teaspoon.
  • Blend on medium-high speed for 3-5 (or more) minutes. How long this step takes will be highly dependent on your blender. It could take up to 10 minutes in an older blender.
  • Just keep an eye on it and when the butter starts to separate into butter and buttermilk stop the blender.
  • Let the cream sit for a minute or two as the butter rises to the top. Pour the buttermilk off into another container.
  • Rise until water runs clear, or about 6 or 7 times. (Add cold water to blender and pulse for a few seconds, then rinse)
  •  Spoon butter into a strainer to drain. At this point you can pack your butter into molds or form it into a log like I did. Stick it in the refrigerator to chill.

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Sounds pretty good right?

20160114_141717

I made two batches so I can freeze some!

Ok, I think I’ve spent enough typing for now. Time to get making this bread! I hope you all have a great day and remember, there is always hope.

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. John 6:35

“All sorrows are less with bread.”
Miguel de Cervantes, Spanish author. (1547-1616)