• Don't forget to use Halloween to teach your kids about paying taxes to the authorities! ;-)

    Don't forget to use Halloween to teach your kids about paying taxes to the authorities! ;-)

  • What I learned – Bulk Freezer to Slow Cooker packs

    whatilearned

    whatilearned

    I’m not a person who loves to cook.  I do it because it is what is best for my family, but it isn’t something I enjoy! I’d much rather be on my computer playing with scrapbooking stuff or knitting/crocheting.  But every day I need to come up with at least one meal.  I menu plan and use various tools but lately it’s been even harder and Hubs has been asked to “pick something up on the way home” more than I’d like to admit! Not good for our budget either!

    Over the years I’ve tried Once a Month plans, freezer cooking, bulk cooking, etc.  Recently I decided to try producing a bunch of freezer packets for my slow cooker.  So I did a bit of research and found a couple at http://www.5dollardinners.com/ that appealed to me.  All the products were from Costco and the meals themselves looked good too.  Not having much experience with these menus, I bought the $5 version that came with videos and other helps. However, they are also available for $2.49 without a few of those things.  Now that I’ve done it once, I see I could have gotten away with buying the $2.49 version.  (FYI, I bought the Gluten Free version, but only because I thought the recipes looked good.)

    So, I was determined to go yesterday even though I was homeschooling, working and Sissy only had a 1/2 day at school.  Once I finally got out the door to do my shopping, it was 2pm.  When I got to Costco and realized I didn’t have my list, drove back home and back to store, it was now 2:30.  I was starting to wonder if I could do this.

    A few items were cheaper at my Costco than the menu author’s but a few were more expensive too.  Living in California, I am used to our grocery prices being higher.  The menu author said she spent $161.96.  My total was $185.16. Not bad.  Of course, we could add another $20 to that amount as I also bought dinner for that evening as I knew I’d be too tired to cook.  That was both a good and bad idea – more on that later.

    Had to hit a 2nd store on way home to get a few small things like Coconut milk and rosemary. When I got home, I put all unrefrigerated all over my table. It was now 4:15 and I was getting started processing the ingredients. I don’t have a large kitchen but I made good use of all of my surfaces. I start chopping and slicing and soon I had bowls of various ingredients everywhere! I had potatoes in water in my sink, bowls of onions and peppers on the stove!

    At 5pm, I put dinner in the oven and called my Hubs to come help. I was having serious misgivings about completing this, but it was too late to stop!  With Eric’s help we assembled 19 meals. I ran out of chicken so next time I will buy more chicken than suggested.  By 6:30 we were done and I was cleaning the kitchen. I was also exhausted!  But I learned a lot!

    To summarize, here is what I learned and what I need to do next time:

    • Order in – don’t bake anything for dinner that night.  Not a good idea to heat up the kitchen!
    • Since I couldn’t find our clear packing tape to attach the ingredient/recipe list, we double-bagged our meals.  We put the ingredients/recipe between the bags.  The added benefit of this was that I’m not too worried about them leaking/spilling.  I’ll do that again.
    • Speaking of spilling….the last few recipes had more liquids in them than the first few. And, I was more tired so we had a couple of big messes.  Next time I will put the bags into bowls as I’m assembling them to keep the mess to a minimum.
    • I think next time I will shop in the morning, take a break and then prep the ingredients and assemble later in the day.
    • Measurements.  Yes, I know this is probably just MY issue as I’m a bit anal, but after I chop up 10 pounds of potatoes, putting 2 potatoes in a bag made me crazy.  I have no idea if I put in enough or not.  We’ll see I guess.  But I think next time, I might do that part a bit differently.  It may not bother you.
    • Slow down & pay attention. I think I was simply moving too quickly and didn’t notice that I bought boneless, skinless chicken breasts but neglected to do same for thighs. :( Oh well, I’ll deal with it on meal day, but hopefully I won’t do that again!

    Overall, this was an exhausting but satisfying experience.  Next time, I’ll go a bit slower, pace myself and possibly get some more help! :)  OH! And, 19 meals won’t fit in our freezer, luckily we have a 2nd freezer/refrigerator so we used some space there too.  Just mention that if you want to do this but only have a traditional freezer.

    Good luck and let me know if you have any good freezer to slow cooker recipes! I’m definitely doing this again!

  • After!

    After!

  • That was yummy!

    That was yummy!

  • Sad faces because, while we found a DQ, no pumpkin ice cream.

    Sad faces because, while we found a DQ, no pumpkin ice cream.

  • That was a good day! :-)

    That was a good day! :-)

  • Overheard in our homeschool

    After older brother has a nose bleed, “Did you get beat up by the school bully?”

    “I AM the school bully!”  Running, smacking and giggling follows.

    Sigh.

    Homeschooling boys! What an adventure!  Where are those idyllic moments where everyone is reading classical literature and sprawled all over the house?  The only time there is quiet here is when they are doing Legos! lol

    They really do love each other!

    IMG_0016

  • When God is Silent

    whengodissilent

    whengodissilent

    I’ve been watching some friends be lied about and gossiped about for quite some time now. This post isn’t about them except that I’ve been praying and trying to encourage and lift them up.  And, the Lord has been silent.

    The trial is not over. It continues and it’s not fair.  And, the Lord is silent.

    Waiting on the Lord has been bringing up some pain for me that I’ve haven’t wanted to look at or think about. Times when only God could do something and yet, He didn’t. Situations where only He could change them and yet, He didn’t. I felt as dry and lifeless as that old nest I pictured above.  But, eventually, through prayer and scriptures I would pull myself together and trust Him anyway.

    But this recent trial – not even mine – seems to be hitting me hard. Maybe it’s harder to watch others go through the valley than to travel it yourself. Or maybe it is time for me to deal with some stuff I’ve let sit for awhile.

    Today, through tears, I googled “When God is silent” and one of the first responses was a sermon by Charles Stanley by the same name.  It really blessed me and I wanted to share parts of it with others as needed.

    I don’t think we need to examine times when God was silent, I’m sure each of us have our own stories, but one Mr. Stanley didn’t mention that always has struck me was all the times God was silent when Job was persecuted. It’s almost the end of the book before the Lord replies.  (And, when He does, wow!)  But all that time, Job had to sit there, mourning and grieving.  A wife who just wanted him to curse God and die! And friends who were sure there was sin to confess!  I’m sure you’ve heard “Where there’s smoke…”  :(

    Mr. Stanley moves on from his examples and right into WHY?!  Yes! My heart cried, “WHY?!” Mr. Stanley listed 7 reasons and a couple really stood out to me:

    • To get our attention.  When the bills are all paid and the bellies are full, am I likely to turn to God?  Well, we should, but if I am honest I will admit that I am more likely to turn to Him when life is hard.  When I need guidance, comfort and support.
    • To teach us to trust in Him.  Oh yes, I can see and feel that…now.
    • To teach us the practice of sitting quietly in His presence.  In the hard days after Joshua died and my arms were so very empty, I was afraid of my own thoughts.  Bedtime was very scary because I couldn’t stop all the what ifs and maybes in my head. I started to visualize crawling up into my Abba Father’s lap and having Him enfold me in his powerful strong arms.  Only then did quiet and sleep come.  He was silent, but He was there.

    There are many ways we can respond to God’s silence.  Some are disappointed and discouraged.  They doubt He’s really there.  They fear they have committed a sin TOO great for forgiveness and maybe they’ve lost their salvation.  And, sometimes they get angry.

    But Mr. Stanley does a great job reminding of us what we SHOULD do in the face of God’s silence!

    • Ask the Lord why.  Even Jesus questioned the Father. It’s OK. Ask Him! Pray and then listen for Him to speak.
    • Remember God’s silence doesn’t mean he’s inactive! Trust Him. Remember, He works for good in our lives!
    • Anticipate a more intimate relationship with Him. I admit this one made me stop and think.  Yes! Hope in the midst of the Storm (a ongoing theme in my life – thank you Lord!)
    • Respect God’s right to be silent.  Another one that stopped me cold.  Sometimes I relate my relationship with God to my parenting. Aren’t there times I don’t reply because it will help them grow, but sometimes I am silent because I have already told them what they need to do or go and now they just need to do it.  Wow.
    • Read the Bible, and tell the Lord you are available to listen.  Today as I struggled, I wrote out Scripture to help me take it in even more.  The Lord definitely spoke through the words that were coming in through my eyes, rattling around in my brain and coming out in the motions of my fingers!  I was so blessed by this simple act.
    • Finally, keep praying.  Eventually, you will have a breakthrough.  When I reflect on where I’ve been – and the silent times – I remember that He does not stay silent. Praise the Lord!

    ps2714_dillon

  • Encouragement for the Day

    ps2714_dillon

    Thanks to my Mom for sharing her favorite verses today. Picture is of Tamales Point from Dillon Beach, CA. I think I need a day there.

  • Overheard at the breakfast table

    Chirp, chirp.

    chirp chirp.

    I don’t know what I am saying. I am just trying to blend in.

    Chirp, chirp.

    I hope I am saying something nice!

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