Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Homemade Ice Cream


My son has been having a friend over a few nights this week for a sleepover, so I decided to make some homemade ice cream & let them make sundaes. I tried a new recipe & it was really good. It was one I had cut out of the newspaper long ago. Here it is!

Ingredients:
3 tbs cornstarch
6 cups whole milk
2 2/3 cups sugar
4 eggs
3/4 tsp salt
1 12-oz can evaporated milk
1 pint whipping cream
3 1/2 tbs pure vanilla extract

Directions:

Mix cornstarch with 1/2 cup milk. Add 1 1/2 cups milk and cook in double boiler or large pot until thick and smooth, beating constantly to avoid lumps.

Blend sugar, eggs, salt and evaporated milk with electric mixer. Add whipping cream, remaining milk and vanilla extract. Pour into freezer and crank.

I like to make my ice cream either early in the morning or the day before, that way it's not as soft. Enjoy!

This post is linking up with:
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday
Tuesdays At the Table

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Soaking Up the Summer- Pictures From Our Week

Well, last week started out pretty rough, but things did get better, thankfully. I appreciated everyone's encouragement in the comments. It's nice to know that others struggle with the same things & that I'm not the only one.

Before we know it, the summer will be gone, so we've been trying to enjoy it while we can. Here are some pictures of my boys last week, soaking up what's left of the summer:

Big J cools off in the pool with friends... the temps have been pretty high here lately.


Little J enjoys the sand almost as much as he enjoys the water. Good thing our local pool has a sand area.


My mom gave us her playground this weekend, and the boys are loving it.


Little J got a big coloring book for his birthday, so we've been doing lots of coloring around here lately.


This post is linking up with:
A Lot of Loves
5 Minutes For Mom
Wordless Wednesday
Wordful Wednesday
Two of a Kind
Gratituesday
Chatting at the Sky

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Just Not My Week


This just hasn't been my week. After a really productive weekend getting most of my school preparations done, I just can't seem to accomplish anything this week. Add to that the fact that it seems there's always someone crying or complaining, along with me having a headache for several days, my energy level has been running low, and I've been feeling overwhelmed.

The hardest thing is we've been dealing with a lot of attitude from my 9-yr old & it's really been getting me down. Constantly arguing with him about his chores, about following directions, about being nice to his brother, about watching how he talks to us, and even about lying is sapping my energy. I think being a parent is so much easier when they're babies & toddlers! It's hard when your child acts unthankful about everything no matter what you do, especially when you're already feeling pulled in so many directions, trying to keep everything going.


Now that August is here, I'm feeling the added pressure of trying to fit in the rest of the fun activities we wanted to do this summer, while still trying to finish up some projects on our list before the busy-ness of school starts up, as well as getting all the school preparations, chore schedules, & routines in place. Whew! No wonder I'm overwhelmed!

I actually really love this time of year, getting organized, the fresh start of a new school year, thinking about new ways of doing things... I think January & August just might be my favorite months of the year! But right now, it's not feeling so fun. I'm just feeling overwhelmed. And impatient. And grumpy. Maybe I should just let some of that stuff on my to-do list go.


I had so much fun yesterday afternoon, spending 3 hours of one-on-one time with my 2-yr old at the pool & sand area. But the entire rest of the day was literally spent arguing with my 9-yr old. The. entire. rest. of. the. day!

So last night, I talked with my hubby about how something needs to change. It seems like we're just not getting through to our son, and we're talking to him about the same things over & over again. Then we remembered that we bought a couple of books at the curriculum fair a few years ago:


We still haven't even used them yet! So we got them out & looked through them & they seem perfect for what we're dealing with right now. Both are written by Pam Forster & published by Doorposts. You can look up a certain character topic like disobedience, laziness, arguing, theft, etc and it points you to a list of verses as well as ideas of things you can have your children do to help them to grow in a Godly manner in that area. I don't know why we haven't been using them all along!

So after realizing that, I've been feeling a lot better. More than anything, I want my son to have a heart that's tender towards the Lord and have the desire to do what's right. We plan to add these books as part of our curriculum for the coming year. I'm excited to get started!

This post is linking up to:
5 Minutes For Mom,
Wordful Wednesday,
Works For Me Wednesday,
Two Of a Kind,
Word-Filled Wednesday,
Tuesday Unwrapped,
Tidy Mom,
Gratituesday


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Our Financial Journey - Part 2

This week, I am continuing on with Part 2 of my family's financial journey. To read Part 1 of our journey, click here.

(Hubby & I with Little J in 2008)

When my oldest son was born, we were debt-free, other than our house payment. It felt really good to know that we had reached our goal of paying off our debt of $20,000. We remained debt-free for over 3 years. I was a stay-at-home mom & we were living on one income. We didn't have a lot, but we had enough. God was providing.

(Big J @ 4 months)

In 2003, we owned 2 vehicles that were paid off, a 30-yr old pickup and a 9-yr old Dodge Neon (which was slowly dying). The Neon was becoming extremely unreliable & constantly breaking down, leaving us stranded (with a toddler in tow). Not a good situation. My hubby spent a lot of time working on the car, fixing each thing as it went wrong. It was costing us a lot of his time, as well as money.

We had been putting up with this for about 3 1/2 years, never knowing when & where we were going to get stranded. It was so frustrating! So we finally decided to trade in the Dodge Neon for something more reliable, and we bought a used mini-van, adding a vehicle payment to the mix. It has never left us stranded, and we still own it today. I love it!

(Big J @ 5 years with van in background)

Then the following year, my hubby decided to sell his 30-year-old pickup for a newer model. I can't say that I blamed him... I sure wouldn't want to drive that thing... it was as old as I was! Add in vehicle payment #2.

(Hubby with his old truck)

(Big J @ 4 years in new truck)

Somewhere in there, we also added in a credit card & began using it occasionally to live beyond our means. Not really the vision we had when we first got married. We were still doing okay, but things were tight. Having debt was really starting to become a burden. Something needed to change...

Check back next week to read Part 3...

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and Lolli


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

You Know You're Probably Nesting When...

... you realize at 2am on a Saturday morning that you just can't live with your stove being dirty for one more minute. So you decide to clean it. At 2am on a Saturday morning. Then you continue on with the rest of the kitchen.


Yep, that's how I started my weekend. Pulled the burners out, lifted the top, and started scrubbing away. I had been needing to do some deep-cleaning around here. This rental just wasn't up to our standards when we moved in, and although I did do some deep-cleaning at the time, I just didn't have the energy during my first trimester to do it all. So this weekend, I decided to not put it off any longer, and I got quite a lot done, actually. Yeah, I know I'm weird. But when you hate cleaning, and all of a sudden, you actually feel up to it, you just go with it.


I'm starting to think about the school year, and there are some things that I'd like to get behind me so we can have a successful year and I can focus better. One is cleaning, the other is decorating. I don't really enjoy either one. But I'd like to be able to feel comfortable having people over & having those two things done would certainly help. Plus it's really helping this place feel more like home. My mom said it would.


The past few weeks, she's been helping me decorate & we're getting close to being done. Most of the rooms have picture frames up now. Do you know just how long it takes to hang a series of 3 pictures on the wall & have it turn out right? Good thing I have my mom to come help me since I'm clueless in that department, otherwise this place might have always looked like we just moved in (& we've been here 3 months already!). Now I just need to get some pictures printed up to put in those frames. So that is my project this week. I'm also planning to get portraits done of the boys, since it's about time for that too.

This post is linking up to:

Monday, August 2, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - Aug 2nd


The best thing about my menu this week is that I don't have to cook until Wednesday! We're having pizza with my college roommate & her family tonight. Then tomorrow, our new friends from church have invited us over for dinner.

The rest of the week, all of my meals will be in the crockpot by noon, giving me the rest of the day to be anywhere but my kitchen. That's right, I'm doing all slow cooker meals this week, mostly soups.

I'm in a weird mood for soups. And my husband said he's getting tired of chicken so no chicken this week. Haha, after this week, he'll be telling me he's tired of soup! I'm trying some new recipes out of my Fix-It & Forget-It Cookbook, so I'm putting page numbers after the titles.

Here's what we're having for dinner this week:

Monday: Pizza with friends

Tuesday: Dinner with friends

Wednesday: Meatloaf Casserole (P. 107)

Thursday: Texican Chili (P. 31) & Cornbread

Friday: Manhattan Clam Chowder (P. 44)

Saturday: Taco Soup with Pizza Sauce (P. 38)

Sunday: Spicy Potato Soup (P. 52)

To see more menu plans, visit OrgJunkie.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Our Financial Journey - Part 1

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.


I'm starting a series of posts about my family's financial journey over the past 12 years that we've been married. We're not perfect, but I believe God is faithful, even when we make mistakes and get off-course. He's there to pick us back up, dust us off, and help us get back on the right path, even if we don't know exactly where that path is headed. Our job is to trust Him and to follow Him. I know He's not done with us, as we are still on the journey. Check back to read future posts about our financial journey and what God has done in our lives. And maybe it will help you in some way as you travel along on your own path.


Here is our story...

When my husband & I first got married, we had over $20,000 in debt (mostly his, but I'll take credit for a little of it too, I guess)- student loans, a car payment, credit cards... it all added up. Our goal was for me to be able to stay at home once we began having children. This is something that was important to us, even from the beginning of our marriage.

So for the next 2 1/2 years, I worked full time in the accounting dept at an adoption agency, & every penny of my paycheck went towards reducing the debt. I enjoyed my job and the people I worked with, but I really wanted to be a full-time mom.
God knew our hearts, and it's amazing how He worked things out for us in the way that He did.


Eventually, 2 1/2 years after we got married, the day arrived that we became debt free. And the blessings kept pouring in. During that same month, the house that we had been trying to buy (it was a bank repo, so the process was slower) finally went through & we became first-time homeowners as well. Then, a few weeks after we moved in, we became pregnant, after trying for 3-4 months (We always seem to get pregnant when we move! lol).

So, we paid off our debt, bought a home, and got pregnant, all in the same month, and in that order. I believe it was all God because it was beyond our power to make all those things happen the way they did, even if we had tried.

One month before my oldest son was born, I was able to quit my job & I have never looked back. I love being a stay-at-home mom and having the chance to homeschool my children. And I know I am right where God wants me to be.


But things didn't always go the way we planned, financially. That nasty debt has a way of creeping back in...

Click here to read part 2 of our financial journey.





PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and Caitlin


The Dog Ate My Homework


We've all heard the line, "The dog ate my homework" and, well, it doesn't usually work, of course, especially if you don't even own a dog. Well, yesterday my 9-yr old son came up with his own unique version of that & I just had to laugh. He was working at the table on his language arts paper, then got up & said he had to go to the bathroom. During this time, I am sitting on the couch, feeding Baby J.

A few minutes later, I look up & where is my 9-yr old? At the table, finishing his paper? Nope. He's sitting on the couch reading one of his library books. I ask him why he's not working on his language arts & he tells me, "I can't find my paper!". Really? LOL Nice try. We quickly found his paper sitting on the shelf, where he set it when he was headed into the bathroom. Never a dull moment with that boy.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Few Movies We've Enjoyed Lately

It seems harder & harder to find good movies that we enjoy. So I thought I'd post a few of the good ones we've seen this summer. You can click on the titles to see a trailer for each movie.

Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story- "A frustrated young boy with problems in school overcomes the obstacles in his life to become a world-renowned neurosurgeon. Based on a true story."


Taken- "
A former spy relies on his old skills to save his estranged daughter, who has been forced into the slave trade."


Holes-
"Always in the wrong place at the wrong time, Stanley is unfairly sentenced to months of detention at Camp Green Lake. There, he and his campmates are forced by the warden and her right-hand men to dig holes in order to build character. Nobody knows the real reason they're digging these holes, but Stanley soon begins to question why the Warden is so interested in anything special the boys find." (This was a great family movie)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Cheesy Beef & Potato Bake


My family really enjoys these potatoes. It was a Taste of Home recipe that I used to serve with meatloaf. Eventually, we ditched the meatloaf & now just add ground beef right on top, and my family likes it better that way. I like to use the Yukon gold or yellow potatoes.

Ingredients:

1 lb ground beef

4 large unpeeled potatoes

1/4 cup butter
1-2 tbs diced onion
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/8 tsp pepper
1 cup (4 oz) shredded cheddar cheese
1 tsp dried parsley

Directions:
Cook ground beef & drain. Thinly slice the potatoes & place in a greased shallow 2-qt baking dish. Add ground beef on top. In a small saucepan, heat butter, onion, salt, thyme & pepper until the butter is melted. Drizzle over potatoes. Cover & bake at 425 degrees for 45 minutes or until tender. Sprinkler with cheese & parsley. Bake, uncovered, 15 minutes longer or until the cheese melts. Yield: 4-6 servings.

This recipe is linking up with: 5 Dollar Dinners, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Two For Tuesdays, New Nostalgia, Tuesdays @ the Table, Delicious Dishes, Grocery Cart Challenge, Foodie Friday, and Slightly Indulgent Tuesday.

Menu Plan Monday - July 26th


Okay, so last week, I think I only made half of the meals on my menu. It's so easy to get busy in the summer doing spontaneous things that come along, that sometimes your menu just has to change to keep up. My life certainly doesn't revolve around my menu! lol I love spontaneity sometimes.

My mom & I have also been really busy with tackling some projects around here (have I mentioned that I have an awesome mom?)... lots of yard stuff- cutting back trees & bushes, weeding, hauling off a truck-load of yard debris, getting ready to rototill, then will put down some bark. Cleaned off the back patio. Finally put up the curtains. Went through my mom's glassware, getting ready to fill the curio cabinet. Need to do some deep cleaning, although not sure when I'll get to that. I'm bored with cleaning right now. lol


We are picking so much zucchini, green beans & lettuce right now in our garden, that many of the veggies in our meals are revolving around that. I've never made green bean casserole from scratch, only using the cans or frozen, so I'm excited to try that this week. And I found a healthier version of the french fried onions for the topping at Trader Joe's.


I think I'll also post a recipe for my zucchini & onions later this week that I make (so easy!). It's a great way to use up some up that zucchini, as one can only make so much zucchini bread.


Here's what we're having this week:


Monday
: Roasted Chicken & Potatoes, Green Bean Casserole

Tuesday: Salmon Cakes, Rice, Zucchini
, Salad

Wednesday:
Tacos

Thursday
: Chicken Salad

Friday: Beef Stir Fry

Saturday: Tuna Casserole, Salad

Sunday
: Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Casserole (never made last week)

For desserts this week, I'm planning to make zucchini bread (you knew this was coming, lol), homemade ice cream, chocolate pudding, and smoothies.

To check out more menu plans, visit Organizing Junkie.

Free Game of Bowling on August 7th


GoBowling.com has a coupon you can print for a free game of bowling on August 7th. You can even print a coupon for everyone in your group. There's a link above the coupon to see which locations near you are participating. We have three near us. I don't really care for bowling, but my oldest son does, so we might try to go. And my two-year old just got a new bowling set for his birthday, so I bet he'd love it too!

Head over to Blog Party
for more great deals

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I Have a Daughter!


Yesterday morning, I had my ultrasound. It was a very emotional morning for me. With 3 boys already, we had decided this would be our last baby. This also meant it was our last chance for a girl. I was prepared for either outcome since, although I would have loved to have a girl, boys are what I know & what I'm comfortable with. And besides, I can't seem to get enough of that cute, smiley, kissable baby boy that I already have. So I knew, of course, that I would be happy either way.

However, until that point, I really thought it was going to be another boy, so when I heard it was a girl, the tears just started streaming. I was surprised by the emotion that came over me. I never realized just how much I wanted a girl until the ultrasound tech said those words. No longer was it just "a girl", it was my daughter. We have a daughter! WOW. I think it's going to take a while before that one sinks in.

I even asked her if she could please be VERY sure because I have 3 boys... lol... so she checked several times... Yep, it's a GIRL! And everything looked great... the baby is healthy. Praise God! My due date is December 5th, but will most likely be a little early with a c-section.

This post is linked to Finer Things Friday, Gratituesday, I'm Lovin' It Fridays, & Chatting At The Sky.


Friday Blog Hops

Happy Friday Everyone!! I am happy to participate in the following Follow Me Fridays. It's a great way to discover some wonderful new blogs.



New Friend Fridays








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