Monday, January 31, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Monday - Ravioli w/ bread

Tuesday- Chinese-chicken w/ rice

Wednesday- Pancakes w/ fruit. and toppings

Thursday- Chicken Fajitas

Friday- Beef  Barley Soup

Saturday- Tuna Casserole

Sunday- Roast beef w/ mashed potato

This is also linked up at Organizing Junkie

Monday, January 17, 2011

Some more Allegany 2009

It's really cold out there today so more pictures from our family trip to Allegany in 2009 in order to feel warm, once again we are heading there this summer. Looking forward to spending time with our extended family, hoping for a bit less rain, no tornado's, and bears not knocking on our front door. Can't wait to see some of our favorites again like Thunder Rocks, Bridal Falls, Bear Caves, Stone Tower, and the Fire Tower, maybe even finding some new spots to visit.

Fossil Hike

What do see in this rock ?
The Fire tower

Bridal Falls- after a week of lots rain

Riding down the hill is alot easier then going up

Menu Plan Monday 1-17

Monday- Pasta w/ white sauce, chicken, peas, and salad w/ watermelon

Tuesday- Ham that we didn't eat on Sunday because DH took us out to eat, with cheesy potatoes, green beans, salad, and melon

Wednesday- Turkey Pot Pie from the freezer, salad, rice, and oranges

Thursday- Chicken Fajitas ( freezer meal ), leftover rice from Wed., and salad

Friday- Chicken and dumplings , with salad and cake.

Saturday- Leftovers

Sunday- Roast beef w/ potato and green beans

this post is also linked at Organizing Junkie

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Allegany is coming in 6 months

Our bi-yearly family trip to Allegany State Park will be at then end of July this year. This time we have 3 cabins, one for Don and Marge and the girls, one for Mom and Dad and whoever happens to fit, and one for the boys to sleep in. More information like packing lists, menu's, and so on will be coming later as we get closer.

This is the cabin that Don and Marge have it is the same one we had in 2007

This year we are hoping for alot less rain then we had in 2009, and weather more like 2007. Here are some more pictures from 2007.                                                                                                                           

Don relaxing with a coloring book

Dom and Sarah Playing Checkers

Conner getting sprayed

Sabrina and Danny at the creek

It's crayfish mom

Thunder Rocks that and the bear caves are two places we try to get to each time.

And some pictures from 2009
I am not sure if there is room for the kids

Our favorite creek

Buddy system for Thunder Rocks

The boys love it, I just shut my eyes and keep the first aid kit handy

Even the little ones want to climb

Ruling the world is much more fun with your cousins

This year we will be close enough to the flush toilets that you can avoid seeing the inside of this building

Boys got dish duty

A nature hike

Looking down from the stone tower

A smiley face,taken from the fire tower


allegany 2009

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Works for me Wednesday- Kitchen Timer

There is this wonderful thing at the dollar store that every house should have one or more of, and that is a kitchen timer.


In our home I use one for the laundry, when I go downstairs to start a load I program a few minutes before the stop time. Then I go about daily life and when it dings I head downstairs to fold what's in the dryer and change the wash around. When my timer has died like it did this week, laundry is not nearly done as efficient.

With the children it is helpful for timing reading, homework, music practice time, even showers for the teens.

I use one for my computer time, if I am taking a computer break, set the timer and when it dings it is time to get back to work.

When it it canning season the timers are great, just set for the time your cans need to process and no more wondering what time did I put those cans in.

What do you use Kitchen Timers for ?

this post is linked at We are that Family

Monday, January 10, 2011

How to build a Pantry

Now that you have a idea were to have a pantry, and why to have one, here is how to start building it.

Rule Number One - Never buy anything you don't eat, if your family doesn't like mushrooms there is no reason to have mushrooms in the pantry.

I have started a pantry many times for example when getting married and  after moving. Over time I have come up with this method and it works well, and since every families pantry needs are different you can make it work for you.

Picture yourself as a manager of store you only want things in the store that sell, and you need to make sure that you have just enough on hand, and you need to rotate the stock.

First get a notebook and pencil, you are going to make a list of everything in your freezer, and pantry shelf items. For example :

Corn Flakes
Egg noodles
elbow noddles
ground beef

This is also a great time to clean out the cupboards and freezer while making the list. Also when you go shopping this month if you buy anything not already on the list add it.

Next every time you use a pantry item in the next month you are going to place a tally mark next to it, at the end of the month you will have in front of you your pantry list.

It will change a bit season to season for example we eat more elbows in summer and more soup in winter.

Then you are going to make a new list, I have two copies my pencil one and the other on excel that I can print out each month , it is going to look a bit like this:

Food Item          Need           Have           To get       

1. The need collum is the amount of that item you used in the last month, that is the number that over time you want to have in your panty as a min.
2. The have collum is the one that each time before you make your shopping list you are going to go to your panty and take a inventory
3. The to get collum is the the difference been the Need and Have collum, this is where your shopping list starts

You do not need to buy everything in the "to get" list at once, but over time if you pick up one or two extra things each shopping day you will get the pantry built up. Also this list lets you know that if you come across a great sale of lets say tuna fish but the shopping list is already to the penny, you can look and see that ok I have 10 pounds of rice already at home, so I can take rice off todays list and use that money to stock up on tuna.

Seasonal items- over time I have learned that we use about 14 bags of powered sugar over a year, so when baking goods are on sale at Thanksgiving- Christmas time I try to buy all 14 bags, same with canned pumpkin we eat it year round but the best price is at Thanksgiving. The same thing applies to things like peppers, I can buy local peppers at a great price in Aug, and I cut them up ( diced, sliced) for the freezer and I do not buy another pepper until next year.

This comes from being really aware of what we eat over time, something that if you have never had a pantry you will learn.

Baking items- I do have things like spices, vanilla, and yeast on my pantry list , they are things I might only buy 1x a year, but I am not caught with them going empty. Because when I inventory them I can look at the list and know that I just opened the last yeast so I need to get another one, or the vanilla is 1/2 empty I need to pick up another soon.

Non- Food items- like dish soap, laundry soap ( or if you make your own the supplies to make it), foil , toothpaste, extra toothbrushes, other personal care, etc also go on the pantry list.

Pet items - if you have animals make a section for them on the pantry list to
Hope this gets you started on building a pantry if you do not have one.

And now I am off to follow my own advice as I make up this month's big food shop.

Why Have a Pantry

On to the Why have a Pantry

  • june 056

  • I know you are thinking that the store is just down the street, my husband can pick up what ever I need on the way home, pantries are so old fashioned we don't need them in todays world. And I am sure there are plenty of other reasons people feel that you don't need a pantry.

    Well I am going to give you some reasons why you should have one, and later tell you how to build one up.

    1. Getting the most for your dollar- Yes the store is just down the street, but you may not be getting the best price for the item you are buying, plus most people and yes I am one of them never seem to leave the store with just what I went in there for. Plus if you buy food in season it is cheaper.

    2. Weather - out here it is mostly snow and there are weeks that it might be pay day and therefore shopping day but due to the weather I can't leave the house safely for a few days. And one year in the summer there was a flood, one that we were not expecting to happen to the level that it did. And it happened the night before shopping day, if I didn't have a pantry we would have been trouble.

    3. To serve others- yes a pantry helps you to serve others, when the neighbor calls asking for something you can say yes I have that, when the church calls and asks you to make something for a dinner you can say sure no problem, when the boy  scout comes to the door collecting food for the local pantry you can say here.

    4. Illness- you never know when it is going to happen, and if you have a well stocked pantry you can better care for the ill ones, or if mom is ill the family is going to have something to eat. Plus if you find out others are ill, you have on hand the food to make them a meal.

    5. Budget- When your husband comes to you and says dear we need to cut the budget somewhere for the next two months due to extra bills, car repairs, etc. You can say no problem dear, and eat mostly out of the pantry for the lean times, restocking in the times of plenty.

    Where to have a Pantry

    I had another blog over at xanga, and I am bringing over some of my older posts from there to share here.

    Some thoughts on pantries, the nuts and bolts you could say

    First the definition of a pantry is :

     1.a room or closet in which food, groceries, and other provisions, or silverware, dishes, etc., are kept.
    And my definition, is a pantry is not necessary the place, but the food stored. A take off of the saying the church is not the building but the people.
    So based on the first definition a pantry is a storage area for food, so lets talk about were to have your pantry.
    1. A closet, I have taken a coat closet that was never used as more then a dumping ground and had ds build some shelves in there. I have also in the past stored the sheets in the bedrooms and the towels in the bathroom in order to use a hallway linen closet as a pantry.
    2. The good old shelves in the basement, not very pretty but it works. For this you just need a not damp basement, and some shelves
    3. The kitchen, I find that for my size family and pantry needs I still need a second location.
    4. Just about any other place you can think about that doesn't get to hot or freezing cold. We have used a wall in the laundry room, you could use some shelves in a bedroom and cover the fronts with fabric, a attached garage, just about any spot.

    Menu Plan Monday 1-10

    Monday- Baked Ziti, salad, and bread and apples for dessert

    Tuesday- Cheesy rice and beans, salad, and pineapple

    Wednesday- Chicken and Biscuits w/ peas and carrots, applesauce

    Thursday- Taco's, salad, fresh veggies and dip

    Friday- Potato corn chowder with chicken added, bread, fresh veggies, and oranges

    Saturday- I have a mega chicken cooking day planned for the freezer, so it is pizza for dinner

    This entry is also linked at Organizing Junkie

    Sunday, January 9, 2011

    Freezer Friday- 1/7

    This week I was able to find a good price on ground beef and that is what I restocked in the freezer. I made 4 meatloaf for the freezer, plus was able to add 6 packages of cooked ground beef to the freezer.

    Out of the freezer we had some mystery meat ( chicken or turkey), it had been in there awhile, and wasn't labeled. It turned out to be chicken, and was great served over stuffing.

    But it once again reminds me that I should label the food going into the freezer because there will always be the things that get lost, and when found I will not remember what it was.

    Friday, January 7, 2011

    Thrifty Thursday - Laundry

    Thrifty Laundry, yes there is such a thing. For the longest time I was not a person who thought much about how much doing laundry cost, I just bought laundry soap, fabric softer, had the husband pay the electric bill , water bill and  buy me a new washer every 2-3 years when I would burn out the motor.

    But then I finally grew up and had to think about what doing laundry was costing and with a family of 8 that is a lot of laundry and expense.


    First I have learned that with a top loader I will always overload, and never balance right. So after much looking and thinking we bought a front loader, a pricey investment even with getting the cheapest model  but it uses less water, the clothes come out dryer, and I can never overload, and rarely unbalance a load. We also bought the 5 year warranty just in case I did manage to kill it, I did have the repair guy out a few times to empty the pump trap thingy. I also know how to do it myself now and can skip calling the repair guy.

    Picture from Google Images

    Next is the commitment to use the clothesline outside for drying when the weather permits, even going as far as looking at the weather reports in the spring-fall and doing laundry on the days I will be able to hang laundry. It is easier to just toss the laundry in the dryer, but hanging is cheaper, gives me a upper body workout and some sun to my pale skin.

    Laundry soap and fabric softener, I do a couple of things here I do sometimes buy laundry soap when it is on sale, but usually make my own laundry soap using washing soda, borax, and  fels napta soap ( that soap your mom and grandma used to get stains out). It's cheap to make, it works, and it lasts a long time. I have made it both as a Liquid Laundry Soap and a powder, right now I am using the Powder Laundry Detergent.

    For fabric softener I use plain white vinegar bought in the big jugs at Sam's Club, you just fill the fabric softener cup on your washer with the vinegar. Yes when you take your clothes out they will smell a bit like a salad, but once dry there is no smell ( it even gets rid the pet smell out of towels), and your clothes are soft.

    Wednesday, January 5, 2011

    Jeans into a Skirt

    My 10 yo daughter decided to grow ,leaving me with a pile of pants that fit her in the waist but not the legnth. We were able to replace her pants with new ones at the thrift store, but every skirt they had there was way to short for a young girl who doesn't always remember how to sit like a lady.

    So after some on-line research I decided to try to turn a pair of the to- short jeans into a skirt. It really didn't take long and would have gone faster except that I didn't have seam reaper.

    Here are some of the links I used:
    Turning Old Jeans into a Skirt
    The Family Homestead

    And the best part it was easy to sew, and since I used a pair of pants it has pockets, a zipper,and a waist band that I didn't have to sew,  which I really don't like to do. She also was happy to see it when she walked in the door, and I promised to have it hemmed and ready to wear on Sunday.

    I plan on making the next one shorter and using the fabric insert in the back only.

    The Home Keeper's Journal - 1/ 5

    In my Winter Kitchen…
    Candles are burning, soup is simmering, bread is baking.

    The hardest part about Winter for my household is ….

    Staying warm, and not being able to park in the driveway.

    My favorite Winter time meal is….
    Beef Barley soup with fresh bread, and hot tea.

    I Do/Do Not (choose one) tend to be depressed in the Winter…..
    I tend to be depressed in the winter, just because it is cold and cloudy weather. Opening the curtains on the days when is sunny helps, and looking at garden catalogs  helps.

    A favorite Winter time activity my family enjoys is ….

    A fire in the fireplace, blankets on the couch, and a family movie to watch.

    To help my home look and feel inviting in the Winter….

    Keeping it extra clean, dusting, candles, blankets, Christmas Lights.

    How I dress to stay warm ……
    Long underwear, slippers ( if my feet are warm then I am warm), sweaters, and layers.

    One really important health rule for the Winter time I’d like to share ….
    Washing hands after being out, cover it don't share it, and sneeze into your elbow not your hands.  Also if you are not able to be outside in the sun, don't forget to take your vitamin D.

    This post is also linked at Christian Homekeeper

    Meatloaf- recipie

    Meatloaf is a staple in the winter menu around here, until the time for burgers on the grill comes around. Here is the recipe that is a combo of my husbands meatloaf and my need stay within the budget.

    4 cups TVP- hydrate with 8 cups of hot water ( I am able to buy this very cheaply at our local bulk food store)

    5lbs ground beef
    6 eggs
    4 cups bread crumbs
    1 cup finely chopped carrots
    1 cup finely chopped onion

    This the basic start of the recipe, then depending on my mood is what is added. This time it was basil, parsley, salt, pepper, steak sauce and some mustard. Other times we add diced tomato, barbecue sauce, ketchup, and other spice options.

    Then I form the loaf on foil, flash freeze and bag in zip lock bags. This makes 4 really large meat loafs that feeds our family of 8 with leftovers.

    To cook place frozen meatloaf on wire rack in pan ( I don't like my meatloaf sitting in grease), and bake at 400 degree for about 60 min until it is done.

    Monday, January 3, 2011

    Winter Menu Plan

    What I have done is make a menu list for winter and fall, and then will make another for spring and summer. Alot of these dishes the first time they are made I will make 2-3 for the frezzer at the same time saving time in Feburary and March.
    Winter Dinner Options
    Roast Beef
    Shepard’s Pie
    Beef Pot Pie
    Pasta w/ sauce and meatball
    Pasta w/ white sauce and chicken
    Baked Ziti
    Tortilla w/ Alfredo sauce
    Cheesy Rice and Beans
    Chili w/ meat and Beans
    Cowboy Beans (with biscuits and corn)

    Chicken and Biscuits
    Honey Chicken and Rice
    Chicken Pot Pie
    Chicken and Stuffing
    Chicken Enchilada
    Chicken and Fajitas
    Beef Enchilada
    Potato corn chowder
    Chicken and dumplings
    Beef barley
    Beef stew
    Tuna Casserole

    Menu Plan Monday- 1-3

    What I have done to make menu planning easier is make up a winter menu with 4-5 different choices for each day.

    Monday is pasta, Tuesday is beans, Wednesday is chicken, Thursday is Mexican, Friday is soup, Saturday leftovers, and Sunday is beef. Then each week I pick one thing for each day,or show the husband and get his input on what he would like to eat this week. Winter Menu Plan

    We also are still working on including more veggies and fruits in our meals.

    Monday- Ravioli w/ salad, and oranges

    Tuesday-Cowboy Beans (with biscuits and corn) w/ salad and melon

    Wednesday- Chicken and Stuffing w/ green beans and pineapple

    Thursday- Beef Enchilada w/ salad and apples

    Friday-  Chicken and dumplings w/ salad and banana

    Saturday- Leftovers

    Sunday- Meatloaf w/ mashed potato, peas, salad, melon

    Breakfast - this is a bit up in the air, but cearl, muffins, pancakes, and so on.

    Lunches- this week are once again Packed Lunches

    This post is also linked at Organizing Junkie

    Saturday, January 1, 2011

    Freezer Friday - 12/31

    This week was not a real big re-stock freezer week but there were some meal parts added to the freezer. There is now 3 meals of Turkey Pot Pie in the freezer waiting to be added to pie crusts, and baked up some day for dinner.

    Also top round beef was an sale locally for 1.79 a pound this week, so 2 roasts were done up in the crock pot with some onion. Then shredded and most of it went into the freezer to be used in soup, stew, or another beef meal. The rest of it was added to potato and carrots with some of the beef broth making for a beef stew for dinner, then on Sunday the leftover beef stew will have some more beef broth added, some more veggies and find it self topped with Bisquick mix turning into a pot pie type dish.

    There also are 4 more roasts in the freezer that will be cooked up some day, once I have some ideas on how to use them in recipes.

    So what was added to your freezer this week ?

    Turkey Pot Pie

    What to do with the turkey after Christmas dinner, here it finds it way into a pot. Cover with water, add some carrots,celery, basil, onion, garlic and let it boil away. Then when the meat is falling off the bones turn it off and let it cool a bit, then strain it , letting all that good broth run into one pot the bones and meat into a bowl.

    Then let the meat cool until it cool enough to handle with your hand, sort the meat from the bones add the meat to the broth, add more carrots, potatoes cook until tender, add any leftover veggies from the fridge, and thicken with flour.

    Here is were we cheat using pre made pie crusts for the bottom and making the top crust from any cookbook. Fill the crust with the pot pie filling and top with homemade crust bake at 350 until the crust is brown.

    This of course makes way more filling then needed at any one meal, so the rest finds it way to the frezzer to later be made into more pot pie later in the month.