Saturday, August 29, 2009

An Unscientific Comparison of Meats

The Builder (my hubby), and I went to the local Farmer's Market and purchased a couple of pounds of ground beef from a local farm that raises grass-fed beef. I've wanted to switch from the gross factory farmed grocery store meats for a while, but I could never justify the extra cost. Food is expensive, and we need to stick to a budget. Well, we brought home the beef, cooked it, and were quite surprised. There was absolutely no fat to drain! So I figure, except for a bit of moisture loss, the pound of meat I cooked gave me - get this - a pound of meat! I should have weighed it, but I didn't think about it until after we ate. This pound of meat cost me $5.50. Yes, it was a little hard to explain to the Builder why we were spending that much when I could buy it so much cheaper at the store, but he loves me, and he's a good sport.

Just to compare, a few nights later I cooked some ground beef I had in the freezer. I forgot to weigh it (to calibrate my scale) before I cooked it, but it was 3.5 pounds of ground beef I bought for $3.19 a pound. After I finished cooking it and (attempting) to drain off all the fat, I weighed it. It weighed 2.25 pounds. So I paid for 1 1/4 pounds of fat! BLECH! My grocery store beef ended up costing me almost $5 a pound, and I never could get rid of all the fat. So for just a little bit more, I could buy much healthier, grass fed, local beef. Plus (and this could easily be a biased opinion), the grass feed tasted better.

Totally unscientific experiment completed.

One Decision

Its amazing how many changes one decision can bring. One simple choice, and a domino effect begins. Even when you know its a good choice, and the right choice, some of the changes are a little hard to handle.

My oldest son will be attending the same school my oldest daughter attended for a few years. As with her, we knew that homeschooling was, by far, the best educational choice. But, as with her, there are other circumstances that sometimes make private schooling a good option as well. So after a whirlwind of talking, meeting with the school administrator, and a LOT of prayer, it looks like Josh will be heading to classes on Tuesday. It will be nice to just be Mom again - not Mom, teacher, principal, disciplinarian, nagger of the eternal, "did you finish your school work" question. He's been home with me since first grade, except for one semester in 6th grade when he gave school a shot - he was bored.

The changes?
  • How about 3 hours a day in the car driving him back and forth? In addition to the other errands we run. Yep, that'll be fun. Anyone want to donate to our books on CD fund?
  • Sticking to someone else's schedule. I love being able to come and go as we please. Its a nice day? Lets take the day off and go play. Now we have to abide by a school calendar, no matter the weather, or the energy level.
  • Waking everyone up and getting them dressed, fed and out the door by 7:00. That should be a breeze - I'm a morning person. Except Josh, Zach, Maddie and Emma all sleep till at least 7:00, sometimes 8:00. Emma can't dress or feed herself, and we're adding a newborn in a couple of weeks. How early do I need to wake up to nurse a newborn, and a 16 month old, and make breakfast, and shower, and actually put on clothes?
  • Josh - my Fetcher of Firewood, Snowplower of Driveway, and Mover of All Things Too Heavy to Lift By Myself, will not be home for most of the day. Somehow I need to make sure the wood is ready for the day, the snow doesn't come before he needs to be picked up or before the Builder (my hubby) gets home, and I'll need to either wait for weekends to rearrange furniture or start going to the gym.
  • Three nights a week, we need to leave our house by 5:00, and one night by 4:00, to get to church so he can practice with the Worship Team. We try to have dinner before we leave, although we often end up eating in the car. Now we still need to leave the house early, but by the time we get home from picking Josh up from school it will be 3:30-ish. Crockpot cooking will definitely be my lifesaver! I'll just need to start supper by 5:00 am to fit it into the new schedule. =)
I'm sure there are other things we haven't even thought about - like school events on weekends and evenings, projects that require library time - usually assigned during weeks we absolutely cannot get to the library for some reason, packing nutritional lunches that don't need refrigeration or reheating (a lesson in creativity for everyone who needs to do this).

Looks like it'll be an interesting year!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Making It Home

I've spent the better part of the last week painting our home. Zach and Maddie helped me remove the wallpaper and border that was hung below the chair rail in the kitchen and dining area, then I got to work painting. The kitchen and dining area was finished first, and even my husband was shocked at how much better it looked. I believe his exact words were, "Those are the perfect colors." He's never said that before. Not even close. And I paint. A lot! These colors are warm and inviting - Sherwin Williams Flower Pot below the chair rail (in case you're interested), and Laura Ashley Deep Cowslip 3 above it. This is in the kitchen and attached dining area. Then I moved into the living room and painted everything Laura Ashley Deep Cowslip 2 (a shade lighter than the kitchen). Keeping in mind that two of the walls I was covering were painted a very deep purple, and all the rest of the walls were a purplish-gray, I knew a pale, creamy, yellow would be an improvement, but I didn't realize how much! The rooms in our little house feel so much larger and brighter than before. I still need to finish a bit in the living room as two of the walls reach up to the second floor. I've asked both my husband and oldest son to bring me the extension ladder so I can finish, but they've both declined. The said something about not allowing an 8 month pregnant woman on a high ladder. I hope they're planning on doing it for me, because it will drive me NUTS to see it unfinished!

Its been a lot of work, but now the only rooms remaining to be repainted are the kids' bedrooms and the bathrooms. I love how updating the paint colors to reflect OUR taste has made this even more our Home. Makes me want to keep working on it. Next step - paperwork!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Freezer Meals

In anticipation of the birth of our sixth (!) child in about 6 1/2 (!) weeks, give or take 2 weeks, I am desperately trying to get some meals prepared and in the freezer so that the first couple of weeks will be a little easier. I'm going through my recipes to find appropriate additions to the list, and I have a few favorite websites for recipes as well. My general requirements for a freezer recipe:
  • It has to be relatively inexpensive.
  • It has to be liked by the majority of our family members.
  • It has to be easy to store and prepare from the frozen state.
  • It has to be borderline healthy, although I'll let this one slide for some really good freezer snacks.
Some of my favorite recipe sites are 30 Day Gourmet, Heavenly Homemakers, and this list of great recipes. I also like to use recipes I find in other blogs. I haven't really gone wrong with those yet. My current favorite blog for recipes, especially baking is Pleasant View Schoolhouse. She makes wonderful things. Someday I'd like to meet her.

I really need to stop finding new recipes and just start compiling a good list of what I want to cook so I can get those ingredients and start cooking!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Things To Do

My "To Do" lists are a bit of a joke in our family. The children usually think I'm joking when they ask the plan for the day. My husband has pretty much stopped asking. I don't get it. I'd rather set the standard high and try to reach it than set it too low. What do you think?

Here's my list for today:

Vacuum floor
Mop Floor
Wipe down windowsills
Wash diapers
Wash 2-3 loads of clothes
Bake blueberry muffins (This would accomplish two things - use up the berries in the fridge that need to be used and make breakfast for tomorrow.)
Register hubby's car
Buy chicken bedding - Hubby did that, so I get to cross it out
Buy chicken fencing - theoretically at the same place as the bedding
Pick ripe berries - Kids did that, so again, I get to cross it out
Build a fence for the chickens so they can be evicted from the garage
Roast a chicken for supper
Mow the grass - this is for Josh to do, but its on my list anyway
Order Raspberry tea
Make Josh's book list for this school year so I know what I need to buy
Attend a 3-hour homeschooling meeting
Buy closet organizers (this will almost definitely not get done today)

Absolutely accomplish-able. Right?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The week in review

Last Sunday we had a church picnic. The weather didn't cooperate very well, but the majority of the rain held off until close to the end. After our picnic many of us headed to the waterfront for a baptism. Well, 4 baptisms. Josh and Zach were baptized. In God's pond. Pretty amazing.Can you say BRRR!?

Maddie planned on it, but after arriving at the water's edge and seeing how cold and rainy it was, she decided to wait for a nicer day. I really can't blame her. I thought it was pretty chilly myself, and I didn't go in the water.

Josh got his separators in for his braces on Tuesday. He definitely wasn't expecting his mouth to be sore, but it was. I got to go thrift shopping and made a couple of fun purchases.

Thursday was "a very bad day". You know, those days when nothing really goes right? We had one of those. Josh had to get the upper wires on his braces, plus have the upper and lower expanders put in. My poor husband used our personal bank account to pay for a very expensive work project by mistake, resulting in a rush trip to the bank to deposit funds from another account, phone calls for him to correct the mistake, and an overall not fun experience. It was also a day that things got dropped, broken and messed up every time we tried to do something. So I think it qualifies for a bad day label.

Friday was nice. Even got to go on a surprise date with my hubby. Ok, not really a date, but it was pretty close. Josh was at youth group, Zach and Maddie were at a friend's house, and we found ourselves with a couple of hours and only one child - not counting the one that I carry with me always. So we drove home to drop off his car, drove back into town, had a very nice dinner, went to pick up all the kids, and spent about 2 hours just hanging out with friends.


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