Sunday, September 25, 2011

Apricots







Cooked on low for hours.
Some of the puree was frozen for baby food.
Sugar was added to the remaining apricot puree and left to simmer on the stove for a couple more hours to make apricot butter.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Heart of the Home

I spend a vast majority of my time in the kitchen. The kitchen is where I prepare meals not only for my family but also for my daycare family. Three meals plus two snacks, at least five days a week. This is also where we home school and it is the first room that the children enter when they arrive each morning. Needless to say it's hard to keep this room clean. The table (opposite of the sink), which also gets used as the school "desk",  gets piled with books, mail, canning jars, groceries, and daycare coloring/painting projects.  The other day as I had many kitchen tasks going at one time, I stepped back and looked at the mess. My first reaction was to be overwhelmed by the mess that I had created. But then I looked closer..or I should say, I stepped back, saw the big picture and the many "blessings" in the midst of the chaos.

This is how I LIKE my kitchen to look:
 I LOVE clear counter tops. When the kitchen is as I like it, the counter is essentially bare. On my counter is the coffee pot which is a necessity for the 2 pots of coffee made each day. My cooking utensils are used daily and the beautiful ceramic utensil holder was a gift from my daughter that she purchased a trip to Mexico. I love my colorful container but even more I love that my daughter was thoughtful enough to find something that she knew I'd love. The red canisters in the far right corner were Christmas gifts from hubby. One contains coffee so that's important to keep handy. I prefer to have my kitchen sink empty and shiny (inspired by Fly Lady) but this is far from reality in my world. I just noticed that I forgot my big stock pot on the radiator (bottom left) and that the towels aren't perfectly folded/positioned on the stove but this is just a friendly reminder that clean doesn't have to be perfect....and that I'm far from perfect.

So 10 hours before the above picture, I took the following picture. This is the scene that made me gasp until I realized that even such a disaster can be a good thing.
From left to right:
  • containers prepared to be filled with apricot pureed baby food
  • stock pot is sterilizing jars for apricot butter
  • orange pot is cooking the apricot puree (after it cooked down a bit, I filled my "baby containers" and added a little sugar to the remaining puree to make apricot butter)
  • cookie sheet drying behind the stove top was used to make cookies...the day before
  • 2 half gallon jars and sugar container for making kombucha
  • crock pot full of leftover chicken and a handful of vegetable scraps simmering into a wonderful chicken broth
  • sink completely full of dishes, dishwasher full of clean dishes (hint: empty the dishwasher BEFORE food prep so that dirty dishes have a place to go other than the sink....someday I may take my own advice.)
  • Tomatoes ripening in the window.
  • blender which was first used to puree the apricots and then used to make my apricot, avocado, and banana smoothie (I know, weird combo but it was actually very good!)
  • another bucha container
  • toaster which made toast for the kiddos snack
  • another crock pot which later housed dinner (it was only a couple of days ago yet I have no clue what we had for dinner that night. It all tends to blur together.)
  • coffee can for collecting scraps for my chickens.
Look at that beautiful sunshine coming in through the window! I love sunny fall days. The two HUGE tomatoes riping in the window provided us with a delicious spaghetti sauce for dinner last night.

I learned that sometimes I need to change my perspective which will in turn change my attitude. In the midst of my mess the other day, I become completely overwhelmed. I was mad that I was tackling too many projects (as I'm known to do), I was grumbling that my kitchen was too small and grumbling that my family expected too much from me (couldn't they make me dinner just once??).  I was whining, "How am I ever going to clean up this mess?" And then God tapped me on the shoulder. Amazingly I heeded his summoning and I took a step back so that I could look at my work in a different light. When I changed my perspective, I could see the beauty in this messy kitchen. I am thankful that I have a kitchen in which to work. I am thankful that I have a family and an extended family (my daycare kiddos) in which to feed. I am thankful that I have food in which to feed my family with. I have so much to be thankful for. I am thankful that I have a God that loves me enough to give me a gentle reminder that sometimes perceived burdens are truly blessings.

God, open my eyes so that I can see the blessings everyday, in the everyday tasks, that you have so graciously bestowed upon me.


Shared on Homestead Revival's Barn Hop


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bits and Pieces

First Day of School!

Before.......

after. Still not quite right.
School has started, yet I'm still trying to find a better way to store our books. These books get used at least weekly but most are used daily. Our "once-in-awhile" books, such as reference books, are kept on one of the book shelves in the living room. So what do I do with our school books?? The location works. However the books are held up by a knife block, which means whenever I grab one of the heftier books the whole pile falls over. This is irritating...and a time waster. So I grabbed a book shelf thinking this would eliminate this problem. I was hoping to position the shelf on it's side however my books are too tall. Not only is the shelf a bit of an eye sore (not a huge issue for me as I prefer function over fashion) but it's still not big enough. I'm stumped. If I had an unlimited money tree, I'd buy something that works better. No, actually I'd have the whole microwave cabinet remade. A custom cabinet. This area seems to have a lot of wasted space and a floor to ceiling cabinet would be great. Not only would I have room for books but I'd have room for all my kitchen gear that's stored in the laundry room. But alas, I don't have a money tree so I need to work with what I have. Meanwhile we are continuing to work with the shelf that's on top of a ...well, shelf. I'm hoping this helps me pin point what I want/need...or a better solution.




 
A few years ago we acquired a snapping turtle from a daycare friend. He had found the turtle at his mother's work and knew that we would love it. I think his name is Dash...or Bolt...it's changed a few times and I just called him turtle. The daycare kids have loved the turtle. Turtle, like The Boy, has grown at unbelievable speed this past year. He was so happy to have room to swim. I tried to get a picture of him swimming but he lived up to his name and was gone in a flash. I think I could hear him shouting as he swam down the river, "WAHOO! I'M FREE!"
The scenery in Turtle's backyard.

Visiting the farm. The Boy and Caufield

The Boy coloring his pumpkin at Quarry Hill Fall Festival. Yes, he made that face on purpose.





First Football Game. The Boy plays center.

The Boy loves playing football and the only football that I desire to watch is the team with my boy on it. When Hubby watches the Vikings on Sunday afternoon, I know this means that I get to take a nap (I guess I DO love football because I love having an excuse to nap!). I am completely clueless when it comes to football. In my defense, I do know when the team (or player) is doing something good (such as running the ball towards the end posts...or whatever they are called). I also know enough to cheer at the appropriate times.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

My Amazing God

This morning I was thinking about our trip "Up North" (Bemidji, MN) over Labor Day Weekend. After a crazy, hectic summer, a trip to the cabin was just what I needed to refresh and rejuvenate me before we headed into another year of homeschooling and daycare. This morning as I rushed from folding laundry to filling the dishwasher to cutting beans to stewing tomatoes to breaking up another disagreement with the preschoolers to feeding the kiddos breakfast....I was thinking of my Labor Day weekend sunset and I felt that God would certainly sustain me through the chaos of my life. And then I heard the following song on my morning play list. God IS amazing. During times of chaos it is essential to stop and notice just how amazing He is!


Chris Tomlin's Indescribable

From the highest of heights to the depths of the sea
Creation's revealing Your majesty
From the colors of fall to the fragrance of spring
Every creature unique in the song that it sings
All exclaiming
The little white fleck in sky? That's the moon. :)
Indescribable, uncontainable
You placed the stars in the sky
And You know them by name
You are amazing, God



All powerful, untameable
Awestruck we fall to our knees
As we humbly proclaim
You are amazing, God
Who has told every lightning bolt where it should go
Or seen heavenly storehouses laden with snow
Who imagined the sun and gives source to its light
Yet, conceals it to bring us the coolness of night
None can fathom



Indescribable, uncontainable
You placed the stars in the sky
And You know them by name
You are amazing, God
All powerful, untameable
Awestruck we fall to our knees
As we humbly proclaim
You are amazing, God
You are amazing, God


Incomparable, unchangeable
You see the depths of my heart
And You love me the same
You are amazing, God
You are amazing, God

Today I am so thankful for my amazing God and pray that I will continue to notice HIM in everything I do....whether it's watching His beautiful sunsets and washing the dishes. Every blessing in my life comes from Him (yes, even dishes and laundry are a blessing).


 
Exodus 15:2
The LORD is my strength and song,And He has become my salvation; He is my God, and I will praise Him; My father’s God, and I will exalt Him.


Friday, September 2, 2011

A Week in Pictures

Whew, the past two weeks have been a whirlwind. The Boy started football practice. Daycare has been hoppin' busy with a house full of kids, many of which are school agers and getting "bored". The garden has been overflowing with it's bounty which I've been busy preserving. Somehow while the kids are resting today I need to get my bags packed so that we can head out of town for the weekend. A long weekend "Up North" at the cabin is just what this weary mamma needs. Three days of nothing but reading, fishing, walking through the woods...and sleeping in!

Here's what we've been up to:

   Hubby's MG Midget went from this
to this:

Curriculum Planning ~ I had great intentions of finishing my planning in June but then summer happened.


My dad went from here........





to here.
I am still in awe of my dad. At the beginning of July he had a valve replacement surgery...at the end of August he's climbing my trees like a monkey.



100 tomatoes were turned into salsa, tomato paste and spaghetti sauce.


I made my favorite Head to Toe Shampoo Bars. Leftover "crumbs" were turned into liquid hand soap.




The Boy and I attended our first honey spin!






I almost forgot.......Spicy Dill Pickle Spears and Green Beans


Now it's time to pack! Have a lovely weekend!

Planning and Recordkeeping Made Simple

The Well Planned Day Home School Planner was helpful in keeping us on track last year. I've been looking at other planners and have thought of making my own (by using a binder and printing off free planning pages.) After factoring in the cost of paper and ink, not to mention the time involved, I decided that I am sticking with The Well Planned Day.