Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I just love summer foods!

I have made it my goal to freeze and can this year a lot of foods to make it through the winter and "off" season without spending tons of money on the foods we love and because it is just plain healthier!  So far, I made strawberry freezer jam and froze whole (with stems removed) strawberries.  Today, I purchased 20 pounds of peaches for eating, freezing and making some "baby" friendly treats (we'll see how this goes). These will also be good for adding to plain yogurt for flavor. And, I purchased 6 more pounds of strawberries.  Also, last night I got a great deal on onions, $1.40 a bag.  I plan to prep these tonight, lay on a pan to flash freeze and divide them into 1 cup baggies for quick cooking later.  Today, I also got some sweet corn from a local farm stand that we will use for meals tonight, and I am hoping to do some corn freezing later on this summer.  I dropped by the local berry patch and red raspberries are ready and black ones will be ready by this weekend.  I hope to get out there Saturday morning to pick some!

Here is my to-do list for the summer:  (most of these items will come from our own garden)

Freeze: 
Fruits (strawberries, peaches, black and red raspberries, blueberries)
Apple Sauce (I could probably can this, but freezing is just as easy)
Pear Sauce
Spaghetti Sauce (made from garden tomatoes)
Savory Pastry Crust
Corn
Onions
Green peppers (I dice some and cut others length wise for fajitas--just makes for less prep later)

Canning:
Tomato Juice
Diced tomatoes in juice
Tomato Sauce (seasoned and plain)
Zucchini Relish
Chicken and Beef Stock
Blueberry Syrup
Salsa (a request from my husband)
Roasted Romas
Green Beans

I use the Ball Canning Book for my recipes and directions. 

Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving

It is certainly the old standby. 

This last weekend I also got over to the local honey farm and picked up some local spring honey.  

I forget what type of honey the stuff on the left is, but it is not supposed to soak in as much when you put it on toast, etc...I bought it for the boys to try. 

What is your plan for the summer? Do you can and/or freeze? Any recipes that you would like to share? Let me know! I am always up for a challenge..

Blessings to you,

Amanda

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A fun trip!

Last Thursday morning I packed up my kiddos for a much needed trip to visit with 2 of my college roommates.  We all live in different states now, but Erica was in town, from Washington, to visit her parents near Chicago, and Laura till lives in northern Illinois.  I had to drive the furthest, but it was well worth it for the time (however short it may have been) to visit with them.  I have enjoyed their friendship over the years and miss them a lot!  On the way, however, the kiddos and I stopped at the Albaneese Candy Factory for some goodies.  We LOVE that place...there is a "chocolate fountain" where chocolate streams from the ceiling and the boys just love it (and I do too)!  I even planned a trip to Ikea, because there just isn't one close enough to me and I LOVE that place and needed quite a few things. We had planned to go to a park to play, but the weather just wasn't cooperating--so we went a mall that had an indoor play area.  It was a short trip, and I had to leave early because of the Chicago traffic on a Friday night, but I am so glad we went.  Here are some pictures of the adventure! Oh, and Lisa (the 4th roommate) we missed you TONS!! I hope to see you sometime too! 




Blessings to you,

Amanda

Menu Plan Monday--On Tuesday!



OK...after a couple weeks of floundering in the menu department, just throwing together whatever I can (usually at the last minute), and lacking motivation (I totally needed some new recipes)--I decided a menu plan for this week is a MUST! I just really  need the organization and direction on hectic days or days when it is just too pretty outside to do anything inside, if you know what I mean.  So, here is the run down.

Monday: We had spaghetti with meat sauce and salads with almonds, dried cranberries, and cucumbers on them...and the lettuce was our first harvest from the garden.

Tuesday: Tonight we are having Tilapia (baked, with quinoa and brown rice, corn on the cob (that I just bought from a farm stand and strawberries.

Wednesday: Fajitas (beef) with peppers, onions and tomatoes, Salads (lettuce from the garden), and peaches

Thursday: Simple Italian Grilled Chicken (this recipe I tore out of a magazine, but is a Crisco recipe from crisco.com/oliveoil--I'll share the recipe later this week), Salads, more corn on the cob, and strawberries--I LOVE SUMMER FOODS!

Friday: Sandra Lee's Beefy Mac (this is also a new recipe for me!), Salads, and peaches

Saturday:  Beach Day--so we'll probably go out to eat

Sunday: Sandra Lee's Cajun Chicken Pasta (never tried this before) and salads

Well, I am excited to try some new recipes and to hopefully stay on track this week! How about you?



This picture is what I scraped together last minute on Sunday for dinner, pork out of the freezer, cottage cheese, frozen blueberries, some sliced cucumbers from the fridge and ranch, fried zucchini. 

I had one zucchini left so I went looking for bread crumbs, didn't find any so I crushed up some croutons, and added some parmesan cheese, I dipped the sliced zucchini in egg and tossed it into the bag of goodies,  and then plopped them in the skillet.

After they were cooked, I placed them on paper towel on a plate to drain the oil/butter (can't remember what I used).  It was a super quick fix for a hungry family! 
Aaron doesn't care for zucchini, especially this way, but I love it! 
Blessings to you,

Amanda

Linking up with I'm An Organizing Junkie 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Strawberries

Last week, when strawberries were at the peak of freshness I decided to venture out with my brood to pick some...shouldn't be too hard right? I mean...it's only a field with fragile plants and the hot sun...how hard could it be?!? Well...when we got there the lady was a bit apprehensive that I had not one, but 2 three year olds and a baby....and I was going to do the picking myself--I am totally sure she was wishing she had binoculars to see this sight.  I assured her that my kids were well behaved and would not ruin her plants...and she trusted me.  I put Lydia in the sling, on my hip--and gave each of the boys a box--I told them it was their special box, and mommy would fill it and they could then dump the berries into the big box and I would give them some more.  We did a brief lesson on no eating the berries (we never eat before we wash-we've been working on this one) and walking only on the hay, not touching the plants and not squeezing the berries....and off we went.  We traipsed down the lane about a 1/2 mile to the site where we were to pick...we were already hot and sweaty at this point and I figured we were already here and going...might as well try.  We ended up staying about an hour and the boys did really well--I paid $6.00 for my berries (they were $1.50 a pound).  If you total up hours worked and amount of berries, it probably doesn't seem worth the time.  After all, we only had enough to eat some for dinner that night and breakfast the next morning, and to freeze a few for smoothies at a later date.  But, the boys had a fantastic time! I didn't have to remind them much about the rules, and they were SO into it.  They told daddy every day for the rest of the week!  I told the lady I'd be back sometime without my littles, so I could get more, but that didn't happen--we went another 20 miles on the bikes this weekend instead.



So...fast forward to yesterday--I was really craving more strawberries, my goal this year is to be more proactive about freezing and canning in season, so that we have some for later.  It just wasn't happening--me getting back out to the patch--and I was ready to have some more berries.  Yesterday, after gymnastics, we headed to Sam's--it is a 1/2 hour drive from my house and although we have some good stores in our little town--I just needed some things, and we made a day of it.  While at Sam's I found their strawberries, and they were actually per pound...comparable to what I was going to pay at the patch--without the work--so it was settled, I bought them...4 of their large clam shells of them..and set out to reach my goal of making strawberry freezer jam this week.  So, tonight was the night...and actually, strawberry freezer jam is not so hard--here's the how to:

Wash and clean the berries, I laid mine out to dry…

Slice them up and put them in a bowl ( I did a double batch, so I needed 8 total cups of berries)…

You need to crush the berries…I used my potato masher as I went along and it helped me know how many more I needed. 

I had to stop when I was done with this step, because I had a visitor (up from nap) in the kitchen who needed some of his own berries as a snack…and some alone momma attention. 

Later, I just pulled out my berries (from the fridge) and added them to a bowl with the freezer jam pectin in it with the sugar. (freezer jam pectin-Ball Brand-in the green envelope--I had a picture, but it isn't loading right)


After that, you let it sit for 30 minutes…

Put it in containers, and enjoy!



Mine was nice and sweet! I love that I made it, and I know what’s in it!  I bet it was cheaper than the other stuff, too! 

Blessings to you!
Amanda

Linking up here...At Like a Bubbling Brook

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

To the man who has held my hand and walked through the valley, shared my joy, and loved me like none other, I love you more than you could ever know...you are an amazing father and husband...and you deserve to have an amazing day! You are the BEST...ABSOLUTELY!  and...I am crazy in love with you! 

Amanda


School

I have been pouring through curriculum catalogs and online resources since I came home from the Cincinnati Homeschool Convention. I guess you could say, that I am more than a little obsessed with it and have resolved to the fact that it is why I became a teacher in the first place. I love school, I love school supplies, I love organizing it, and being creative...I just plain love it!  We do school a few times a week now, but we are mostly doing Tot School and are using mostly Montessori Methods.  For Pre School this year, I am doing a combination of Montessori and Classical Education and have fallen in love with 2 classical curriculums.  I really like Classical Conversations and Veritas Press.  After scouring, going through what I do and don't have--and what I want, I have come up with this rough list...what do you think?

Veritas Press
Big Picture Bible Timeline         
Child’s Story Bible                         
(already have wee sing bible songs)
Addition Math Songs                    
Subtraction Songs                          
Saxon Math  meeting book                            
Literature unit--Phonics Museum                            

My Father’s World
Number Puzzle Boards and Pegs              
Textured Letters                           
Already have pegboard and lacing shapes, and other misc stations. 
Pre School Cards, and Hide ‘em in your Heart

Hooked on Phonics
Super workbook Pre-K and other misc. resources (already have)

I will probably use these resources for the next 2 years depending on how quickly we go through them.  I am super excited that I have a plan!  I have some great units saved from 1+1+1=1 and Homeschool Creations, too!  What are you planning on using this year?

Much Love, 

Amanda
Linking up here at Educating Layton
and at:  

Not Back to School Blog Hop

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Busy!

This week has been a "busy"week for us...I say that in quotes because to the rest of the world we don't even make a dent in a "normal" busy schedule.  Not to say that we don't do anything and sit around on our rumps all day, but we are being intentional about not cluttering our lives with "busy" and "chaos".  Life in and of itself is crazy enough and a family could easily never see each other if they let the "busy" take over too much.  Anyway, yesterday the boys had gymnastics in the morning, then we headed to a strawberry patch to pick some of our own...on the way we passed a garden stand and bought some tomatoes, zucchini, and some green onions, then a workout at the Y.  Today, the boys had their first eye Dr. appointments and passed with flying colors.  Tomorrow, we are going to stay home...(except for my afternoon workout) and cleaning, putting away laundry, doing school, and those other things that make up our day.  Thank goodness! 

I did however get the disk with our most recent family photos in the mail today...so, as promised, here they are...enjoy!











Photos were taken by Elizabeth Highcock--High 5 Photography


Blessings to you and yours,

Amanda