June 27, 2009

Listen to the Bible

I was getting a little discouraged lately because I was feeling like I was so hungry for the Word of God but I just couldn't find enough time to read the Bible. The early morning was the best time but now that it's summer my 2 year old is up with the sun and the evening time is not so good because I am just so tired I can't focus very well. I was wishing that I could read at times like when the girls are occupied and I am washing dishes but dishes and reading don't go so well together. So what to do I wondered.

I was then blessed to find this site. Here you can download the Bible in MP3 format. Some versions like the KJV offer you the entire Bible for free in MP3 format and others like the NKJV offer the New Testament for free and the entire Bible for a fee.

What a blessing this has been to me Now when the girls are playing or otherwise occupied and I have chores to do, I can fill myself with the Word of God at the same time.

If you'd like more time in the Word check this out! If you don't own an MP3 player you can pick one up with enough capacity to hold the Bible download for about $30 at Wal-Mart. If your budget is a little larger than that, you can always buy a pre-loaded MP3 player with the Bible already on it. These type of players cost about $80 but they have more advanced search features. This one is on my Christmas wish list :0)

June 26, 2009

A Fun Summer Giveaway

If you haven't already visited today, take a trip over to DeNiece's blog. She is hosting a fun summer giveaway today with a really nice prize.

I'll be back in blog land tomorrow, lots to do today!


June 25, 2009

What are you doing today?

Whenever I post about what I am doing on any given day I always wonder what other people are up to on that same day. So tell me everyone, what ARE you doing today? :0)

Today I have one big project to tackle. I am going to sort our clothing and take out all the things that done fit the girls any more any all the things that hubby and I have been hanging onto that either don't fit or are worn out. I'm doing the same for the linen closet. Then all the drawers and closets will be organized when we put everything back.

This morning I put a roast in the crock pot for dinner and started some yams baking in a smaller crock pot. I'll use those for muffins later on this week. Later on I'm going to start a batch of yogurt in the tiny crock pot. (Yes, I know I have a LOT of crock pots, LOL!)

The girls are playing Speed Stacks in the front room and 2 yo is filling any and every things she can find with water from the water cooler and pouring it all over the floor. I often wonder why someone doesn't invent a lock for those coolers to prevent little ones from flooding the floor. Hummm... maybe I should invent one! :0)

June 22, 2009

Father's Day and feeling better

We had a wonderful Father's Day yesterday. After the girls gave Daddy his gifts and after eating breakfast, we spent the morning at church then had lunch together. We spent the evening with some dear friends and had a blessed time of worship and prayer as well as talking and catching up.

I had the massage therapy appointment after church while my husband spent time with the girls. The massage helped me so much, I had a wonderful therapist and she said I had two very large knots in my upper back which was probably the reason I was in such pain and that it lasted so long. Today I was just praising God because I was able to get down on the floor with the girls with no pain for the first time in years and I was able to bend over to pick things up without pain which never normally happens for me. My neck and back feel totally normal and I am just so thankful.

Thanks for everyone that was praying for me, God heard your prayers!

June 20, 2009

A New Day and an Award!

My sweet husband took the day off work yesterday to take me to the doctor. I wasn't really up to driving and managing the little ones in the waiting room because I was in too much pain. So it was a huge blessing to have him come along with me.

The doctor said that I have a lot of tension in my back and neck muscles which is causing the pain I am experiencing. Tomorrow I have an appointment for a deep tissue massage which I am praying will help me feel much better. So after church it's off to the massage office then home to spend a relaxing evening celebrating Father's Day.

I woke up this morning praising for for this new day. The weather has been BEAUTIFUL here for the last several weeks. Normally at this time of year it is in the 100's already and edging up to the 110's. Not so this year! The girls have been able to go outside often and I am so thankful for that. The summer is not usually the most fun time for outdoor activities where we live.

My sweet husband leaves early for work and he let me sleep in because he knew I wasn't feeling well. I am thankful for that as well because sleep is certainly necessary for good health. I was able to get up and make some bread dough this morning and make the girls breakfast as well. Then my lovely young ladies took over for lunch as I began to braid 7 yo's hair with my heating pad in tow.

I was also so blessed this morning by my sweet sister in Christ, DeNiece. She awarded me with this lovely blog award.

Thanks so much DeNiece, your blog is such a blessing to me and I am honored that you chose me for this award.

As I read on DeNiece's blog, the "rules" for this award are that you list 7 things that you love, link back to the person that gave you the award and pass the award on to 7 other bloggers. So here is my list of what I love and who I would like to bless with this award.

I love...

1. Above all I love God. He is my salvation, my strength, my healer, my provider and my comfort in all things.

2. I love my husband. I am eternally thankful that God has allowed me to share my life with him.

3. I love my children. They are precious little gifts and it is a joy to watch them grow and learn.

4. I love my family and friends. My parents, sister, in-laws, aunts, uncles, cousins, all of my friends etc. I am blessed with a big and loving family and loving friends and for all of them I am thankful.

5. I love it when it rains! Especially in the summer. The fierce thunder and lightning coupled with the cool drizzle of falling rain is God's power incarnate.

6. I love freshly baked bread. Any type, if it's warm from the oven and topped with butter. Mmmm!

7. I love blogging. Getting to know others and being edified by them and encouraging them is such a blessing.

I would like to pass this award on to the following bloggers that have truly blessed me...

1. Bethany at Happy To Be Called "Mommy"

2. Crystal at Homemaking Homesteader

3. Linda at Homeschooling 6

4. Erika at Tummy Treasure

5. Sharon at Keeper of The Home

6. Donetta at A Life Uncommon

7. Dawn from On A Quest For Plain Living

Praying you all have a beautiful and blessed weekend!

June 18, 2009

When Mommy Is Sick

I've been sick for several days now. Not the runny nose, coughing kind of sick. Actually I pulled a muscle or a nerve (or something) in my upper back. I have been trying to take it easy but it's hard to do when the days are busy and full. Tomorrow I will finally see the doctor because it will be almost a week since this started and I'm still in quite a bit of pain and feeling very fatigued.

I'm sure any mother knows, it's tough around the house when mom is sick. Yesterday I had a bad flare up of pain right around my 2 year old's nap time. I asked my 9 year old to help her get into the crib for her nap as I lay down on the sofa with a heating pad. I explained to 2 yo that mommy is not feeling well and her sister would help her to bed for a nap. She seemed fine with this at first but the crying began as soon as 9 yo left her room. It took us about 15 or 20 minutes to get her down for a nap with me calling out to her from across the house to quiet down and take her nap and I would see her when she woke up.

Even though times like this can be trying, it is a great opportunity for learning and training your children. My 7 and 9 year old have taken over most chores the past three days. I have been very tiredand achy so after just an hour or so of housework I am spent and have had to lie down with my heating pad. The big girls took over with no problem and had a great attitude too. My 4 yo enjoyed playing "baby-sitter" when 2 yo was awake and felt like such a big girl watching and playing with her baby sister. My 9 yo was so happy when I had one pretty good day and went out shopping for groceries. I told her that even though I was fairly ok, I would need a helper to lift things and put large things under the cart. She was a huge help! Daddy watched the youger three girls and reported that they had been extremely well behaved when we got home.

I also believe that when mom is sick it really teaches children to learn how to serve others. Parents naturally serve their children all day but children don't always get a chance to really serve their parents, especially when they are young. When my girls see their daddy helping me when I am unable to do something or when I ask them to help and compliment them when they do a good job or have a good attitude, it really helps them to learn to have a servant's heart.

Prayerfully, I will be just fine after tomorrow's consult with my doctor but in the meanwhile it gives me such peace and joy to see the love of Christ shine through my children.

This Really Touched Me

Prepare to shed a tear as you watch this, it's only about 5 minutes long but it really hits home about how we in the western world take our blessings for granted.

June 13, 2009

Hair Day

It's "Hair Day" today and I'm about to wash, comb, brush and braid four heads of beautiful hair. Although I love my girls beautiful hair, I will be honest... I don't enjoy doing their hair. It is very challenging for me and can really try my patience.

My own hair is not as curly nor as thick as theirs so styling their hair has been a learning experience for me. I can easily wash, condition and air dry my hair and it looks just fine but not so with my girls. They must have their hair in braids, plaits or twists or it will get very tangled and be impossible to manage. Not to mention that each of them has a different texture to their hair so it requires different treatment. I once received a comment on this blog asking why I don't style my girls hair. That actually hurt my feelings because I spend TONS of time each week on the girls hair and I really try to make it look nice. We spend almost all day Saturday on hair.

What I do each and every Saturday is wash each girls hair. My 9 year old washes her own hair. If I wash their hair more often it will become very dry and break easily. I wash and deep condition then apply some sort of hair oil Usually I use a product called Hair Pudding which my good friend Tanisha makes. Here is a link to her site. She and her family some great products! Sometimes I use Alberto VO5 (the oil in the small tube). I am also planning to buy some products that I found which I think will work well for my 9 year old and myself and possible my 4 year old. It is from a company called Mixed Chicks. It is kind of pricey but if it works then it will be well worth it!

Once I wash, condition and oil their hair I usually do 9 year old and 4 year old first. Their hair is has the loosest curls so I usually give them each two braids or plaits. Sometimes I get more fancy with 4 year old and give her several plaits on each side so she can pull them back into a pony tail. This usually lasts for about 2 or 3 days. Then I re-do them. Rarely I make 4 year old puffs. She loves her puffs but they don't last and her hair gets more tangled when I do it this way. She's got her puffs on the photo in the sidebar. They are loose puffs because her curls are so loose.

I do 2 year old after that. Her hair is so short it's fairly easy to do at this point. I like to keep her in two braids but if she's restless I just make her two puffs which can be easily re-done daily.

7 year old has the thickest and coarsest hair so it takes much longer. Her hair is very delicate and falls out or breaks off easily. I have to be very gentle with her combing and section it off into small portions to get it nice and tangle free. I then put it into many small two-strand twists all over which she can pull back into pony tails or I put it into 4 or 6 braids on each side which she can also pull back. This usually lasts 4 to 6 days then I re-do it. Her hair takes about 2 to three hours from start to finish. The re-do only takes about 45 minutes because it's already nice and smooth from being in braids or twists already. Most days I just un-do any braids or twists that look "fluffy" and re-do those and leave the rest alone.

I have been reading up a lot about multi-racial hair care and I am going to be buying a spray bottle so I can give them an all over spraying with an oil (olive oil) and water mixture every day to retain more moisture in their hair.

Does anyone else have children with very curly or multi-racial hair? I'd love to hear about your hair routine!

June 10, 2009

Honey Wheat Bread

I made two loaves of this bread today and it was amazing! I used the "medium" recipe but doubled it so it would make two loaves. I used buttermilk in place of the milk, added two tablespoons of wheat gluten flour. I used two packages of rapid-rise yeast and made it in my kitchen aid mixer. This one is a keeper!

I also made my first batch of dough using a sourdough starter that I began last week. It only took 4 days for the starter to ripen and be ready for use. The dough is slowly rising as we speak. I plan to let it rise until around bed time then divide it in two and shape it and cover it well on greased cookie sheets then bake it first thing tomorrow morning. I made my starter with King Arthur White Whole Wheat flour which is my absolute favorite flour for any baked goods, even pancakes, cakes or biscuits!

It's been a productive day, now I am off to make a grocery list for my shopping trip this weekend.

Have a blessed evening!

June 9, 2009

Making Use Of The Summer Months

Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

Titus 2: 3-5

I belong to a few different email loops and local homeschool groups. It's so wonderful to have like minded people to fellowship with and to share ideas with. Over the past couple of weeks most of these groups have been winding down for the summer as many take the time to take a much needed vacation or embark upon projects other than the normal school related grind.

I was kind of surprised, however, to hear several people saying that they would like to know who would like to participate in different activities on a daily basis this summer to "get out of the house" because they don't like to "sit around all summer." HUH??? :0(

Don't get me wrong, I am not one for idle time either. I don't enjoy just sitting around my house either doing nothing. But there is SO MUCH to do at home that I can't imagine being bored. For my family once or twice a week is plenty of time to get out of the house. The rest of the time we spend doing activities at home.

So what IS there to do during the summer? Well, whether you homeschool your children or they attend school away from there is much to be done at home during the summer. Here are a few ideas...

Gardening - depending on where you live, it's not too late to start some plants for the summer. What about a vegetable garden? That is not only a nice fun activity for you and your children, but it's healthy to go outdoors and get some sun every day. The fruits of your labor will also help supplement your family's grocery budget.

Sewing - it's a great time to make some nice decorative items for your home or some clothing for yourself and your children. Older children can also be taught to sew. Even boys should know how to mend or sew on buttons!

Cooking - stock up your freezer! Take the time to make a recipe you have been wanting to try. If you don't like to cook or don't' know how, it's a great time to learn or practice your skills. Baking is a great all day activity for children, they love to make things that are good to easy. If you have a garden, use the end of the summer to do some canning or freezing of your summer bounty.

Organizing - sort and organize your closets, drawers, shelves, etc. You'll feel like your home is brand new. If you find a lot of items that are still good that you don't use any more, have a yard sale or start an Ebay store.

Clean - if you didn't get a chance to deep clean your home in the spring, now is the perfect time. Give everything a good scrubbing and get your kids to help.

Read - Take a weekly trip to the library or order some favorites from an on-line book seller. Read books that you have been wanting to read and haven't had time for or better yet read out loud to your children from a well loved classic. When you finish the book have the kids make up dress up and act out part of the story.

Play a game - break out those dusty board games and have some game time each day. Your children will thank you :0)

Exercise - put on some fun music and get moving as a family. This is great to do early in the day so that the little ones will have a nice sound nap in the afternoon.

Practice hospitality - have friends over for the day. Have lunch together and enjoy a visit. Have friends over for dinner on the weekends. Host a tea party for your children and their friends. Have an ice cream social. Have a BBQ. Invite out of town friends or relatives to visit with you for a few days this summer.

Swim - if you are blessed with a backyard swimming pool take the time to use it. Better yet, host a pool party.

Plan for school - if you are a homeschooling mom, now is the time to order your items for the next school year and make a daily school schedule. Plan your activities and field trips. Do your on-line research. Ask your kids what they would like to study next year. If your kids go to a traditional school, start planning what supplies and clothing you will need to get them for the next school year.

Write a letter or make a phone call - get in touch with friends and family members that you haven't spoken to in a while. Encourage your children to do the same.

Charity work - see if there is any way you can serve your church or your community from home. Make baby blankets or baby hats for a local woman's shelter or Right To Life organization. Pack up canned goods or other items for a local food bank or other charity. Make hand made blankets or quilts for a local homeless shelter.

Do some crafting - if you have a craft that you enjoy spend time working on it. If you make a lot of hand made items, consider starting an Etsy store.

Watch a movie - It's pretty hard to find a good, quality movie any more but there are still some out there! Instead of going to the movie theater, make a nice cozy pile of blankets on the floor in your living room, pop some popcorn and watch a movie as a family. Not only will this save you a lot of money at the theater, it is much more realizing for younger children to enjoy a movie at home where they can doze off if they get sleepy.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. There is so much to be done at home. When you do go out for grocery shopping, errands or just for some away from home fun, make good use of your time so that you can be at home the majority of the time. Spending too much time away from home can cause exhausted kids, frustrated mothers, undone chores and too much money spent. Remember that God calls mothers to be keepers at home and we should take pride and joy in our calling. Let's honor God in all we do this summer!

June 8, 2009

Homemade Laundry Detergent Update

I made the homemade laundry detergent today. It works great! I did a little more research and found out that since we have hard water there were a couple more ingredients that I needed to add

Here is the final recipe I came up with after further research after my last post.

Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent

1 cup Borax
1 cup Arm and Hammer baking soda
1 cup Arm and Hammer Washing Soda
1/3 cup of Oxy Clean (I used a generic brand, not the high priced name brand stuff)
One bar of Zote or Fels Naptha soap (grated then processed in a food processor - or you could use a box grater for this)

Mix everything very well then put it into a storage container. Use 1 to 2 Tbsp. per load.

(Updated to add, I now always use only 1 Tbsp. per load or 1 1/2 Tbsp. for a highly soiled load. I use the Zote soap now, as it seems to work better.)

For my first load which was a very large load of very dirty white clothes I used 3 Tbsp. of this mix along with about 3/4 c. of bleach. I washed with hot water on a 12 minute cycle and they clothes came out wonderful.

I was a bit skeptical at first because not only did 3 Tbsp. seem like a tiny amount of detergent, I was worried that I would not be able to tolerate this detergent. I am highly allergic to perfumed soaps and the Fels Naptha has a strong scent. Normally I buy Arm and Hammer Dye and Perfume free detergent or ALL FREE detergent because they have no scent and clean our clothes very well.

This homemade detergent worked better than our normal brands. Everything smelled fresh, nothing needed to be rewashed which is sometimes the case with the store brand stuff. There was no trace of a scent on the washed clothes. They smelled fresh and clean but not perfumed.

I think the ingredients (container included cost about $10 and I have plenty of everything left except for the Fels Naptha bar, which was under $2. I can make several more batches of this if I buy more soap bars. The batch I made should probably wash about 40 loads.

If you want to save some money on your laundry I highly suggest giving this recipe a try!

June 6, 2009

We are blessed, we are blessed!

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. I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him."

Lamentations 3:22-24

God is so amazing, he never ceases to put me in awe. I guess that is not surprising, LOL! I just wanted to share about how much God has blessed us as a family as of late.

I mentioned a few weeks ago about how my husband had hurt his leg and was off work for a while. It was only about a week or week and a half that he was off but it took a nice sized bite out of his check. This wasn't really good because we had just bought a vehicle and had that additional payment to make. The loss of pay put us behind on several things and instead of being ahead of the game we were in a position of struggling on figuring out how to balance everything in time.

We had a moment or two of stress, but then just turned it all over to the Lord. He is after all above all, especially our finances. We chose to tithe as always and even chose to stick with eating our new healthier diet instead of cutting our food budget back in order to make ends meet. We feel that after all, if we are not healthy they we can't function properly because then we don't feel well physically.

Now, fast forward a little bit to today. Not only did my husband get the extra days of overtime that he wanted to make a little extra cash to catch everything up, he also found out that he will be receiving a check that we did not even know was coming AND he is getting a bonus check from work! Is the Lord not good? :0) Not only are we back on track, we are ahead and will have extra to add to savings.

Praise God for his provision and His goodness!

June 5, 2009

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Ive seen recipes all over the internet for homemade laundry detergent and have wanted to give it a try myself for some time now. Every time I looked for the ingredients I needed, my grocery store only had one or two of them but never all three at once. However, today I finally came across all three so I picked them up as well as a container to store the soap once I make it.

There are a lot of recipes out there, some call for water and others only the dry ingredients. I think the dry will work best for us as far as the space we have as well as the tools needed to make it. I am posting the recipe I found that I like best here but as I try this and make changes if needed, I will post updates as to how it works and how well I like it.

If it works out well it should save us about $25 a month! Sounds good to me :0)

Homemade Laundry Detergent

1/2 cup borax
1/2 cup washing soda
1 cup grated soap flakes (Fels Naptha, Zote, Ivory or similar soap bar- approximately 1/2 of one bar is one cup of flakes).

Stir to combine. Use 2-3 tablespoons per regular load of laundry.

June 4, 2009

Enjoying The Day

Yesterday was so productive that today is going to be nice and relaxing. We just finished up breakfast a little while ago and the dishes are either washed or soaking (for the ones that decided to be stubborn, LOL). I have ground beef thawing for Shepherd's Pie for dinner and lunch will be leftovers from last night's dinner.

The yogurt in the crock pot turned out wonderful! We had it for breakfast this morning. I was so thankful to find a recipe that worked the first time with no tweaking. I have that recipe posted on my crock pot blog now in case anyone else is interested. Thanks again Candy (and DeNiece) for the video blog posts last week that inspired me to give it a try!

I had a phone call to make this morning and a few things I wanted to look up on-line in preparation for next years homeschool plans. As I do that, the girls are reading and listening to a favorite CD. My two year old is happily sitting with her big sister listening to stories read to her.

All the girls are signed up for our library's summer reading program. They have to either read or listen to 24 books over the summer and they win prizes for doing so. My 7 year old finished her books in the first 3 days! She did a combination of reading to herself and to her sisters to earn credit for prizes. She is still reading daily, all of them start their day with a book or their Bible or both. It is such a blessing to have children that love to read. My husband and I both love books as well!

This afternoon we are going to work on some craft projects. I made a culotte skirt for 7 year old and a skirt for 4 year old and both need to be hemmed so they can wear them to church on Sunday. I will then cut out skirts for myself and my 9 year old and a jumper for baby girl. My 9 year old bought a craft kit to make a mobile for the girls room so she will work on that. 7 year old is going to cut out a dress for her doll. I'm sure my 5 year old will want to do the same so the two of them will work on the doll dresses. Baby girl will be napping at this time so she will be safely out of the way of all pins and needles and such that she so loves to touch when no one is looking :0)

I guess that is all I have to say for today. 7 year old just came in and asked if she could make "cheesecake grahams" for a snack so I need to give her a hand with the honey bottle which just happens to pour out way too fast! If you like cheesecake, you would love these snacks and your kids will love making them!

Cheesecake Grahams

Graham Crackers
Cream Cheese

Spread graham crackers with cream cheese. Drizzle with honey them sprinkle with cinnamon. Great with a cup of tea!

June 2, 2009

Busy Day In The Kitchen!

This is one of those days that I wish my carera hadn't died on me because I sure would have lots of great photos to share :0)

I woke up super early this morning and decided to surprise my still sleeping girls with a breakfast pizza. What I did was make up some biscuit dough and rolled it out onto a cookie sheet. I then baked it for 5 minutes. I then topped it with scrambled eggs, grated cheese and crumbled turkey bacon. I then baked it for 5 more minutes and it was done. The girls loved this and it was filling enough for leftovers. When I make this again I will add some country gravy as a sort of sauce so it will be more moist. What I am planning to do this weekend is to make the dough and roll it out onto the pan and prepare the gravy on Saturday night, then store those in the fridge. Then I will scramble up the eggs and cook the bacon on Sunday morning for a very quick breakfast before we head off to church. I plan to make two so I can make one of them with tomatoes, bell peppers, onions and spinach on top as well. My husband will love that but the girls would run and hide :0)

I spent all morning in the kitchen getting a lot of good things going for the rest of the week. Eating healthy is so good for us but it also keeps me in the kitchen a lot. It's a good thing I love being in the kitchen. :)

Tonight I am going to roast a chicken so this morning I took a nice roasting chicken, cleaned and rinsed it, sprinkled it inside and out with seasonings and lemon juice then tucked it nicely into a ziploc bag with some extra virgin olive oil to marinade before roasting. We'll have that tonight with mashed potatoes and gravy and green beans. Yum!

I also have 4 loaves of homemade bread rising in the kitchen right now. It's a recipe I found on a package of Red Star yeast called Classic Country bread. My family loves it so I make it often. Here is that recipe.

Classic Country Bread

1 1/2 c. water
2 Tbsp. canola oil
1/3 c. molasses
2 1/4 tsp salt
2/3 c. oatmeal (I used Bob's Red Mill 5 Grain Cereal)
1 1/3 c. whole wheat flour
2 1/2 c. bread flour
2 tsp. quick rise or bread machine yeast

Put all ingredients in bread machine in the order suggested by the manufacturer. Set on "dough" cycle. When dough is ready, split into two equal pieces and form into loaves. Please each loaf into a greased bread pan. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rise for 45 minutes. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 50 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks and allow to cool before slicing. Makes 2 loaves.

This morning I also started a batch of homemade buttermilk from a recipe I found while reading through Candy's blog. She actually did a video tutorial on this recipe and several other last week which is what prompted me to give it a try. We love buttermilk for biscuits, pancakes, coffee cake and lots of other good things so this is really going to be good to try.

Tonight I am going to make homemade yogurt. I make this often in my little Salton Yogurt Maker . Candy gave a tutorial on how to make yogurt in the crock pot so I will be using both methods tonight. If the crock pot version works well I will use it regularly because as much as I love my Salton, it doesn't make very much and my family adores yogurt.

Finally I am about to go make up some pie crust for quiche later in the week as well as empanada dough that I will use for both savory and sweet empanada snacks for the freezer.

Praying your day has been a blessed one!