Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Give us this day our daily bread {a bread recipe}

I have been scared of yeasted breads for years even though I longed to give my family homemade whole wheat bread without all the weird stuff from the grocery store...but I was terrified of killing the yeast! I would have out my thermometers, googling "the right temp for yeast", just ridiculous! I was so stressed out and it never seemed to come out right. One day, my friend Traci told me to chill out...yeast is easy and actually hard to kill (I think my stress killed the yeast) so I relaxed and found this yummy bread recipe in some old homeschool/parenting newsletters from my MIL. We make bread every week now and I really love it! I've never had a flop batch of bread. John says it reminds him of the bread his mom made as a kid. Well, that's because it is the same bread! Let me know if you try it out!

Whole Wheat Bread

6-7 cups whole wheat flour
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup honey
2 3/4 cups warm water
1 T yeast (or 1 pkg)
1 t salt

Mix the yeast into 3/4 cup warm water and let dissolve. (Really, just get it warm and mix the yeast in slowly while stirring. It's never died on me.) Mix oil, honey, salt, water and dissolved yeast together with 6 cups of flour. Knead dough until it is elastic, adding more flour as needed (approx. 15 mins) (I usually call Traci and put her on speaker phone at this point...makes the time go by faster since I don't have a fancy mixer to do the work for me!) Form the dough into two loaves and put them into two greased bread pans to rise. Let rise for about an hour, until double in bulk. Bake at 350 for 35 mins.

That's it! Easy peasy! And when it comes out of the oven, slice everyone a thick piece and drizzle with honey and enjoy! I store one loaf in a cotton towel and in a little drawstring bag that was a gift and the other in a cotton towel in a large ziplock bag. They stay soft and fresh and delicious! Enjoy!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Cat Quotes: brought to you by Jay, Hunter & Tyler


Our cat has it rough with 3 boys who love to cuddle, kiss, love and generally smother him with so-called affection!

Cat Quote #1:
Hunter: TYLER! Don't blow your nose on the cat!

Cat Quote #2:
Jay: Mom, Hunter has a chain (plastic, toy chain), an oatmeal box and the cat...I'm afraid he's going to do something bad!!!!

Hunter: I'm not going to capture the cat!

Note: No harm was brought to our sweet little cat...on that day....

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

6 things that make my home run smooth(er)

It's hard work keeping a home. It's even harder with little people. I have three littles. One more coming soon. Here are a couple of things (nothing earth shattering) that keep my home running as smoothly as I can...

1) Wake up earlier than the children.
I have read this before and thought that it meant that I need to wake at 5 and do all of these amazing things before everyone gets up. That may work for some people but not for me. What I have realized lately is that all I need to do is wake up earlier. Sometimes that means that I get a lot accomplished before the day begins some days it means that I lay in bed and look at my email and just enjoy a few minutes of quiet by myself. It really helps my day start off right. I look forward to everyone waking up rather than thinking "5 more minutes..." as my guys are jumping on me asking for pizza for breakfast...yeah, Tyler...

2) The Drink Tray

I hate having random cups sitting all over the kitchen. I end up throwing them in the dishwasher just because I hate the clutter. My MIL was getting rid of this small silver tray and it has become the home for cups in use. It has changed my kitchen completely! I am happy because there aren't cups everywhere and my family is happy because they can keep a cup for more than 5 seconds before mom gets rid of it.

3) Morning Chores
We finally have a morning rhythm - and it feels great! Eat breakfast, clean up (unload the dishwasher it's ready to be emptied), get dressed, make beds. That's how it goes. Easy peasy and makes the mornings run smoothly. I also love having my room clean with all the beds made (the boy's are in our room in bunk beds right now). It starts my day out on the right foot without clutter and chaos...well, maybe still some chaos!

4) Smiley Face Chart

I've never really been a chart kind of girl but lately it's been nice to have a little reward for good, helpful, happy attitudes. So we started the Smiley Face Chart. They have to get 25 smiley faces and they get a treat. I have seen a huge difference in behavior since we started this. It started out with a lot of "mom, I helped Tyler up the stairs, can I get a smiley face?!" or "I said 'yes ma'am' can I get a smiley?" and it's moved into habits. I see them being kind and helpful to me and each other without expecting or even thinking about a smiley face. I try to keep them pretty even so they will get a treat at the same time. Tyler is also potty training right now so he gets one when he tinkles in the potty. For now, this is working for us and I love it!

5) Menu Planning
I have been doing this for a few years now and I still swear by it. The worst feeling in the world is looking at the clock and it's 4:00 and then staring into the fridge wondering what the heck to make for dinner. I spend less money and impulse dinner purchases ("honey, can you pick up a pizza on the way home?"), have less wasted leftovers that never get used, and the bonus is a happy mommy in the kitchen at dinner time! =)
Cheryl's kitchen secret: "Whatever Quesadillas" Once a week or so I take leftovers like beans, meat, rice, or whatever is in the fridge, saute some veggies that need to be used, add cheese and voila! Yummy quesadilla DINNER!. Come on, anything with cheese and salsa on a tortilla is a winner!

6) No dirty clothes piles
Seriously! Ok, maybe sometimes...
Disclaimer: I don't sort my laundry unless there's something new or really gross dirty and then I wash them separately. So if you are a laundry sorter...this isn't for you!
At the end of the day I make sure the washer is empty and my family take their dirty clothes from their bodies to the washer along with their bath towels, wash clothes, and whatever else needs a wash. I also throw my kitchen towels, cloth napkins from the day, etc. Sometimes it fills it up and sometimes it doesn't and I leave it until it's full. I never have piles of dirty clothes around. Piles of clean clothes is another problem that I'm working on. I hate putting laundry away but here's what's working for me now. When the dryer buzzes I fold the clothes as I pull them out of the dryer and put them in a laundry basket and put them all away when the basket is full...usually 2 or 3 loads. I hang up any nice clothes right away so I don't have to risk ironing! The boys put away their own clothes and one other stack. This is working so far. I'll keep you posted.

So, like I said...nothing earth shattering just a few things I've found that work for me. I like reading other mommy's tips so I hope you pick up something new that will work for your home!

The Art of Gratitude

I wish I had more time to really think about this post because it's something that is very real in my life right now. My internet time is limited since we don't have it at our new house yet and I really just want to get my thoughts on "paper" before they get lost in the fog of pregnancy and motherhood...

This has been a trying time for our family, starting a new business, our home remodel, an unexpected pregnancy, and just regular life on top of it all. We keep reminding ourselves that noone makes money the first year in business but remembering that doesn't pay the bills...ya know? We are walking by faith, confident that this is where God wants us. Making us work...hard. Making us grateful...for every little thing. Making us trust...when it looks hopeless. I look and realize how ungrateful and ugly I have been in the past. Always wishing for more money, more stuff, more, more, more. When, in reality, we had an over abundance. So much. I see it now. I wish I had seen it then.

Times are different now. We are relying on the Lord's goodness every day. It's a humbling place to be. It's all good stuff that is happening. There are worse places to be in life. We are self employed, have a beautiful house with minimal debt, blessed with 3 boys and another pregnancy. Nothing is bad in our life. Money is just tight. And that's okay. I'm learning that it's okay. Money doesn't buy happiness...just stuff that I don't need anyway. The best thing is seeing first hand how the Lord provides. Over the years I have seen crazy things in other's lives ..."Whoa...they gave you a car?" , "she is paying for your raw milk?" , "your dad helped out with Christmas and medical bills?" , "wow, that's all amazing!" Seeing these things in our lives has been...um, amazing! When it looks like there's no way we are going to make it....something unexpected happens. I'm humbled. I lay awake at night scheming ways to bring in more money or to shift this or that to make things work and in the end it's not my bright ideas that bring us through....it's God and His timing and His crazy, lovely ways that gets us to the next month.
I feel like we are being pruned. It isn't pleasant and hasn't been comfortable at all...but it's necessary and beautiful. I don't ever again want to look back and think "man, I had it so good and didn't know it." Even now, I have so much. I realize what a great life I have and I am grateful. It's an art that I hope to always be perfecting.