23 December 2010

merry christmas~

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!
I know the photo is blurry; but as is the story of my entire year 
I don't really have time to try and figure out how to fix it
so it's just going to have to be the thought that counts  :)
Feel free to click through to see a better version!



(and thank you to the amazing lillian b photography for our first ever family photos...we love them!)

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13 October 2010

in which i disappear~

What can I say?  I'm busy.  But as I hopped over here today I realized how woefully out of date things are.  So....I have (loosely held) hopes to clean things up a bit and post a little in the near future.  Geez, I still haven't even finished the Preparing for Baby posts but I think all I really have left is cleaning part.

Anyway...see you soon?  (ish)

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in which i disappear~

25 June 2010

preparing for baby
part 5
stocking the freezer and easy meals~




~for previous posts in the series, click on the banner  :)

There is no way that I had an evening to myself on Wednesday and enjoyed sitting outside at Panera working on this post for over an hour only to have the computer freeze up on me and lose the entire thing.  Stuff like that never happens to me; just in case you were wondering.

eh~


It is without question that having meals on hand after the birth of a baby are tremendously helpful.  It is equally helpful to have things on hand to make creating those meals easy.  Multiple births have taught me that the time and energy invested are most definitely worth it.


I like to stock my freezer with a lot of meals.  Around 34-36 weeks, or whenever I am mostly done with the other preparations (except cleaning) I plan what I want to make for my freezer.  I sit down and make a list of meals my family enjoys that are freezer friendly.  I plan a cooking day (usually a Saturday for me) and figure out how much I can reasonably accomplish in one day.  I make a list of what I will need from the store, (don't forget disposable ziploc bags and foil pans!) and do my shopping a couple of days in advance.  


Ideally you will be able to get a lot of prep work done before your cooking day (chicken cooked/shredded, meat browned, veggies chopped, etc.) but if you can't then just plan it into your day.  No worries.


I wish I could give you some really great tips on freezer cooking. Sadly, that is not really my area of expertise.  I just get it done.  I try and be as efficient as possible, but it's really just been trial and error.  Every time I do it it gets easier.  And this is something I actually try and do at least a couple of times of year, even when I'm not pregnant.  It's just really helpful.  Some really resourceful and impressive people do it on an ongoing basis, always doubling or tripling recipes and sticking the extras in the freezer.  Hopefully I'll be that impressive one day, but for now this works for me.  I can't really get my brain around adding anything else to my life right now.  :)


While I mainly just use my own recipes that I've gathered from all over the place, one book in particular that helped me a lot the first few times I did it was Don't Panic - Dinner's In the Freezer.  I really only used a handful of the recipes (though there were a lot that sounded promising) and tweaked them to my liking.  But reading about the process was really helpful.  


And if the idea of big cooking day  makes you panic is a bit overwhelming, just having some things in your freezer to simplify meal making is really handy.  If I were only going to do some very basic freezer preparations I would have pre-cooked, shredded chicken in ziploc bags (Dear Costco, I love you.), browned hamburger and onion pre-measured into ziploc bags of approximately 1lb each, and various chopped, frozen veggies.  I would also have some frozen fruit since we like to make a lot of smoothies.  Just having these basic things will enable you to throw together quite a few meals quickly.  Even more so if you have dry ingredient mixes already prepared for things like chicken pot pie, casseroles, etc. and broth on hand to put together soups, stews, or chili.


(To get a glimpse of what the end of my pregnancy and some of the freezer prep I did with Grace, read here.  You have to scroll down a bit to get past the pregnancy update but down a ways is a good picture of what life looks like around here toward the end of my pregnancies.)


Here is a list of what I made before I had Grace just to give you some ideas.  If you click on recipes, it will take you to some of these.



6 meatloaves (yep, with hidden zucchini again...shhh)
4 chicken casseroles
3 sesame chicken
3 chicken enchiladas
2 bags chicken in raspberry walnut vinagarette  (edit: won't use this again, it was not good as a marinade!)
2 bags chicken in some other marinade I can't remember :o)
4 bags beef brisket
15lbs browned hamburger with onions
10c. cooked, shredded chicken
some hot dogs and beef smoked sausage for easy, fast meals (i know, i know...yuck. but i have kids, people. kids)
turkey bacon & turkey sausage

several bags frozen chicken tenderloins
we still have a huge amount of beef from the cow we split with my dad
a ridiculous amount of frozen veggies
a stack of pizzas and gluten free pizza crusts
frozen waffles & french toast sticks
whole rotesserie chickens in freezer ready to be thawed and reheated; which they do beautifully


Next time I will probably make some of the same stuff and also some different things.  Some other ideas and meals I made in my first trimester (which we ate during the fall and winter months) were:


cheesy chicken vermicelli
chicken & rice soup
white chicken chili
chicken casserole
chicken tenderloins frozen in egg to make homemade chicken tenders quickly
chicken pot pie
lentil soup
tortilla soup






~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It is also nice to make a list of fairly easy to make meals to be able to reference when you just can't seem to think of anything to make.  Meal planning is really great, and I would love to do it more often, but truthfully, I don't do it nearly as often as I could.  Okay, okay.  I rarely do it.  I generally have an idea in my head of what I might possibly make, but I am not a meal planner on a regular basis.  So it is helpful for me to keep a list on hand (I tape it inside one of my cabinets) of  meals I can usually put together from things in my pantry and freezer.  

These are a few of the meals that are pretty easy around here.  Usually.

spaghetti 
tacos 
sloppy joes
chili
(these are considered easy since I keep browned beef in the freezer)

anything grilled - fish, burgers, grilled chicken
baked potatos with various toppings
breakfast food 
rice with creamed chicken and veggies
roast

and obviously anything I can pull out of the freezer, already made  :)



What foods and meals do you  like to have on hand?



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19 June 2010

preparing for baby
part 4
pantry items~




Find Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of the Preparing for Baby Series here

So we've covered first trimester preparation, baby stuff, and non food items.  Next comes the tricky part.  Pantry items.  Again, you'll want to take into consideration your budget, storage space, and your family's needs and habits.  This is where your list could vary greatly from mine.  The point is that you will want to figure out what non-perishable/staple food items your family uses on a regular basis and how much of a stockpile you want to have on hand.  

Now, we like to have some food stockpiled anyway, so it just made sense to add some to it.  Like before, I was aiming for an approximate six month stockpile.  And like before, on some things I overestimated  :)   That worked out okay since we like to keep food on hand (our power goes out frequently; three times in the last two weeks, in fact!)

Since I tend to have my babies pretty early (no haters, I did have a 15 day late baby!) I like to have everything done by 38 weeks at the latest.  This includes everything previously mentioned, and also my house completely clean and in order.  I save the cleaning for last (since with seven kids it's not like it's actually going to stay that way for long.)  I also like to take the cleaning kind of slow (seeing as how 9 1/2 babies inside a 5'2" body don't lend themselves to cleaningly quickly, easily, or comfortably) so some of it overlaps with the other stuff, but I'll get to that eventually.  Hopefully. (This is taking more work than I anticipated.)

Back to the point.  Between 30 and 32 weeks I like to get the non-food items stocked up.  Then around 32-34 weeks I like to get the pantry items stocked up.  It's not like the timetable is set in stone, it just kind of gets me organized and gives me a general goal to aim for.

First, you will want to go through your cupboards and make a list of all the non-perishable food items you use regularly.  Figure out how much you want to have on hand (taking into account that if you prefer  tutorrosso crushed tomatos with basil that are typically on the bottom shelf and shoved behind the regular tomatos your husband will probably not have the patience to find them and will come home with regular diced tomatos instead.  Not that my husband would ever do anything like that.  But still, you should consider it.  Ha ha)  And make your list accordingly.  Do make sure you pay attention to expiration dates if you are aiming long term so that you don't end up with expired pretzels and have an internal dilemma over whether or not it's acceptable to give them to the church pantry since you did eat some and they taste fine.  But still.  (Don't worry, I didn't give them to the church pantry.)

To give you some ideas, this is what my list with Grace looked like:

*premixed cornbread bags (my husband has celiac and therefore I have to make things with alternative flours.   The cornbread we make is a combination of several different things, so I mix all the dry ingredients up and store them in quart ziplocs so when we want cornbread we just grab a bag, add the wet ingredients, and bake.  Otherwise, I would never get around to making cornbread.  Which he loves.  Sorry, that was a long paragraph.)
*premixed chicken pot pie topping bags (re-read above description)
*premixed biscuit mix (same thing.  Are you observing a pattern?  If you frequently bake things that require multiple dry ingredients, it is super helpful to mix large batches and store them in grab and go bags.  I do this regularly, otherwise I would never bake anything.  I already said that, sorry.)
*24 jars spaghetti sauce
*48 boxes of gluten free spaghetti (We use two at a time, we eat spaghetti approximately once a week, therefore to have around six months' supply I needed 48.)
*taco shells
*tortilla chips
*taco seasoning mix
*sugar
*salt/pepper
*flour/baking powder/etc.
*baking soda
*6 bottles of ketchup
*24 bags of pretzels
*6 boxes of tea bags
*bacon bits  (baked potatos are an easy, quick, and filling meal)
*12 large cans fruit cocktail (its a lot cheaper to buy in #10 cans and I just rinse it really well)
*96 cans of corn (we've since switched to mostly frozen vegetables, so next time I will be stocking up on those instead.  We do have an extra freezer which I would highly suggest getting if you are able.  We got ours on craigslist.  But it's still a good idea to keep canned foods on hand as well in case of power outages.)
*48 cans of peas
*24 cans of carrots
*12 cans petite cut diced tomatos
*12 cans each black, pinto, and kidney beans
*tomato basil soup ingredients
*96 cans baked beans
*chocolate chips
*granola bars
*baking m&ms
*24 containers of peanuts
*icing
*bbq sauce
*various other salad dressings, marinades, etc. that I might use 
*popcorn and paper bags (we pop regular popcorn in brown paper bags)
*a ridiculous amount of cereal
*an equally ridiculous amount of oatmeal
*2, 25lb bags of rice
*12 jars peanut butter
*2-3 jars of honey
*we get canned jelly from my grandparents, but you'll want this too if you eat a lot of jelly)
*tamari sauce (gf soy sauce)
*vinegars/cooking wine/etc.
*spices
*garlic
*you get the point

This was my basic list.  I'm sure I thought of other things while I was at the store.  Costco was great for quite a few of these things.  I also use Amazon quite a bit for some of this stuff.

Up next, stocking the freezer...


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18 June 2010

preparing for baby
part 3
non food items~






Click on the banner to read all of the Preparing For Baby Series


When I was expecting my first baby I was working full time.  I continued to do that until the day before she was born.  My preparations looked like any first time mother's.  I registered, had a couple of baby showers, got the room ready, and that was about it.  It never occured to me to do much else...  

Until the night before she was born.  I (ignorantly) decided to be induced for no good reason other than impatience, so I knew the next day was the day.  I rushed around like a crazy lady trying to get everything clean.  There wasn't really a whole lot I needed to do since it was just Glen and myself at home, but I did want to have everything nice, clean, and in order.  (Which ended up coming in handy since I couldn't walk for two weeks.  But that's a different story...)   It didn't occur to me to have meals prepared or extra supplies on hand.  Now, with a first baby (and possibly even a second) it wasn't a huge deal to not have much prepared or stocked up, but once you hit that third baby, it is quite advantageous to put a little forethought into baby preparation.

So I approach baby preparation with these things in mind:

*not having to get my husband to have to pick up anything other than perishables in the days following the   birth
*having enough paper products and non perishables food items on hand to last for awhile to make shopping trips with an infant as infrequent and quick as possible
*having some meals in the freezer for those days
*having supplies and ingredients for quick meals on hand
*having the clothes organized, bedding ready, and house cleaned

I am an intense nester.  After that intial first trimester cooking spree, it kicks in again around week 18 when we find out the gender (earlier in the case of Grace.)  Once I know boy or girl the clothes are out, washed and folded by 20 weeks. Seriously.  With Grace, since I found out way early, I think I had clothes out by like 16 weeks.  But that's my OCD shining through.  I don't think that's normal.  I have friends that can be overdue and say things like, "I guess I should get some clothes out of the attic,"  or  (cannot imagine in a million years) don't even find out what they're having!  I feel faint even thinking about it  :)

Anyway, the first things I begin to stock up on are paper goods and other non-food items.  I do this starting around 30 weeks or so.  I usually spread it out over a few weeks of shopping and often will get coupons from the coupon clippers. Over the years, and as my family has grown, my goals for quantity have changed.  You will need to think about your budget, your habits, how much you like shopping (considering that you will have an infant in tow and possibly other children), distance from the store, and storage space.  With Grace I wanted to have a stockpile of non food items to last six months.  That is probably quite a bit more than most people will want to have, but for me it was great.  

This is my preparing for baby checklist #1~

Baby~
*newborn diapers
*size 1 diapers
*diapers for other children
*diaper cream/baby powder
*baby wipes
*baby lotion
*infant gas drops
*infant tylenol & motrin
*pacifiers
*bottles if needed
*lansinoh - if you are nursing, you will want this.  Trust me.
*nursing pads possibly

Personal Care/Household~
*shampoo/conditioner
*soap/body wash
*hand soap and lotion
*toothpaste and toothbrushes
*razor blades/shaving cream
*any medicines you use on a regular basis 
(non prescription, if you can get prescription meds in advance that's great, too)
*laundry detergent/fabric softener
*stain remover
*deodarant
*feminine products
*toilet paper
*bathroom trash bags

Kitchen~
*paper towels
*napkins
*paper plates
*kitchen trash bags
*sandwich bags
*freezer bags (quart and gallon)
*dishwashing detergent
*dishwasher detergent


That's it.  I kind of miscalculated with Grace.  She was the first one that I aimed for a six month stockpile.  I ended up with almost a year's worth of supplies in some things!  Next time, I don't think I'll be quite as ambitious in my quantities, but nevertheless it came in handy!


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preparing for baby...misc

tea tree, baking soda, etc.
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preparing for baby
part 2
baby stuff~


Click on the banner for the complete Preparing For Baby Series  :)


I wanted to take a minute to say that these posts are by no means meant to come across as Super Mom posts.  For someone that loves to be prepared and feel like things are under control then I hope they will be helpful.  But some people thrive on spontanaity and have those fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants personalities; very free-spirited, and I never want to make someone feel like they are failures or don't have it all together like I do.  (cough, choke, spit...ahem...)   :)


I am a planner.  A huge planner.  I think it has something to do with my needing to feel in control of everything, but regardless of the reason, I love to plan things.  I'm not always so great on the follow through, but if all else fails, at least I have a plan  :)


So while there are plenty of lists to be found online about what you need to have on hand for a baby, this is my list of essentials.  It's what I've figured out works for us after seven children. And it falls into the whole Preparing for Baby series by being what I like to have accomplished around twenty weeks or so.  Well, the clothes and bedding part.  The equipment can wait, especially if it's a first baby and you're going to be having a shower.  


These are the things I have found to be actually used and needed.  But, for example, I don't do baby bows or shoes.  If you do, then you will want to add those to your list.  On the otherhand, I do gas drops like they are liquid gold and use the bouncy seat extensively.  If you're a sling kind of gal, then you may not need the bouncy seat.  If you cloth diaper, you will definitely want to add those to the list.  (And by the way, cloth diapering falls into the Super Mom category.  Yet another reason why I am not in that category.)


Baby Clothes You Actually Need~
*Lots of pajamas. I personally like Gymboree and Gap sleepers and two piece pajama sets, but I buy them off ebay.   Babies spit up and their diapers leak a lot, so you will want extra.  My babies live in pajamas the first two months of their life.  I like to get cute ones that are perfectly acceptable to take them out in.  I like to make sure my babies stay warm, so I don't typically do onesies until they are older.  Again, that's me, but other than a couple of going out outfits we just do cute pajamas.  But make sure you have a lot, unless you want to be doing a lot of laundry.  I have had several late spring/summer babies and I still find that 90% of the time I use long sleeved pajamas.  Some lists will point out convenience issues of zippers vs gowns vs pants, etc.  Honestly, I buy what I think is cute and deal with it.  It's not that hard to slide baby legs in and out of pajamas.  Six month olds, well, that can be a little trickier :)


*Two or three "dress up" outfits.  For church, going out, whatever.  But they don't need a lot.  I mean, feel free to have as many as you want, but they don't actually need that many.  I just like to buy the cute pajamas since that's what I see them in most of the time.


*Socks.  If you use them.


That's really about it in the clothing department.  Though with the state of my brain I'm probably missing something glaringly obvious, like underwear.  Except that babies don't need underwear.  Though for baby girls a few cute diaper covers could definitely be in order.


Bedding, Etc.~
*Five or six blankets.  Not huge blankets, but just regular blankets.  I tend (again) to like Gymboree and Gap blankets (again, off ebay mostly.)  They are thicker and more substantial than receiving blankets, but not huge.  Great for swaddling, covering up while nursing, laying flat to change a diaper, burping etc.  Due to the whole spit up/diaper issue previously mentioned you'll probably want a handful.


*A few burp cloths.  I don't use these a whole lot, I tend to just use the blanket, but my fabulous sister in law makes super cute ones and uses them a lot, so again, your mileage may vary.  (I know, I know.  I'm supposed to be telling you what you actually need but some of these things just aren't scientific.)


*Whatever you plan to use in the crib or bassinet.  We use a (generously sized) bassinet for the first six months.  This could be a bumper, quilt, etc.  I don't necessarily think this has to be done by twenty weeks either, but for lack of a better place to put it, here it is.


*I like to have one super soft snuggly blanket for those first few weeks  :)


*You may want a nursing cover.  I personally don't use them as I feel like I might as well wear a sign that says, "Hey, I'm nursing over here!"  But a lot of people really like them.  I prefer to just use a blanket.


*The Miracle Blanket.  The best swaddling blanket, hands down.  If you can get past feeling like you're mummifying your baby or putting them in a straight jacket.  Haven absolutely loved his.  We had three or four once we realized he practically lived in them.  Grace didn't really care for being swaddled, so you may want just one to start out until you figure out if your baby likes to be swaddled.


Equipment~
*A bouncy seat.  If I could only have one thing it would be a bouncy seat.  They are easily portable, the baby can sleep in them, and well, they're bouncy.  Our babies like them.  A lot.


*A swing.  Some babies like them, some not so much.  But we typically use one quite a bit.


*A baby carrier.  I'm not so much a sling or carrier person so much at first, though they can come in quite handy at the beginning when you're going out and don't want everyone breathing on your baby.  Once older, for me, the ergo is indispensable.  But in the beginning I mostly drag carry them around in the infant seat.


*Infant seat and stroller.  Not that I needed to mention it, but for the sake of being thorough, here it is on the list.


* Bassinet.  We co-sleep a little in the interest of training the baby to recognize night as night (the best to do this is by sleeping and nursing while lying down at night in my opinion) but I put baby in the bassinet right next to the bed at every possible opportunity.  The bassinet stays by our bed for a few weeks, then moves into the baby's room.  Which at our house happens to be our large, vented, walk in closet  :)


*Pack n Play.  Not absolutely necessary, but great for having another place for them to learn to play when they're older.


*Exersaucer.  Around 4ish months our babies have all loved their exersaucer.


*Play mat.  Really comes chronologically before the exersaucer, but it's too much work to change it at this point.  Our babies love and use their play mats.


*Bumbo seat.  How I wish they had these when my older kids were babies.  They are so much fun.  And if you have super squishy babies like me, they look super cute all squished into them.  We also use them for bathtime once they outgrow the baby bathtub.  (Which isn't on my list of necessary items since we just kind of dunk and go.)  But if you use the bumbo seat in the bath, obviously stay with your baby just in case it floats up.  Which has only happened to us once.  But I don't really need to tell you to stay with your baby in the bath anyway.  Obviously.


*High chair.  We prefer those booster kind of seats that attach to an actual chair so we can just slide it under the table.  And they're portable and can be used on the ground as well so they're great for going to the park, church meals, relatives, etc.


*There are plenty of other things you may need; such as a baby gate for stairs, outlet plugs, etc. but that's not really the point of this list so you'll have to find that info somewhere else.  Sorry.  I've got smashed grapes all over the floor since I've been ignoring Grace so that I can write some cleaning up to do before Glen gets home.


That's all I've got for now.  I guess if I figure out something I've left out I can always add it later.  Feel free to leave a comment on what your most used and indispensable baby items are!  And if you read on facebook, leave your comment on the blog so my non-facebook friends can see what you love!


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17 June 2010

preparing for baby
part 1
first trimester preparation~



Click on the banner to read the complete Preparing For Baby series  :)


I will confess I feel a bit silly.  Back when I was busy preparing for Grace and was talking about it I had quite a few people ask me questions or comment on what I do to get ready, but it hasn't exactly been a topic of conversation recently.  So to help me not feel quite so silly, I just want to say I decided to put all these in post form for a few different reasons.  Namely, I needed to get it off the sidebar.  I mean, talk about a neglected looking blog!  Secondly, I want to be able to reference should there be a next time.  And hopefully it will come in handy for anyone else that happens to be looking for the info; including maybe my own children one day  ;)


With that said...


Preparing for a new baby is one of my favorite things to do.  It helps the time pass by more quickly and helps you focus on something other than waiting and feeling blah.  While I do lots of nesting and preparing toward the end of my pregnancies, another super helpful thing I've found to do is to make some freezer meals as soon as you get two pink lines.  Seriously.  While meals after the birth of a baby are wonderful, having meals in that first trimester when you don't feel so hot can keep your family from eating pizza five nights a week  be such a blessing  to those around you that do feel like eating.


With the advent of early pregnancy tests, it is not uncommon for women to find out they are expecting as early as four weeks.  That gives most women, give or take, two to four weeks to do a little advance cooking to make that first trimester a bit easier.  Longer if you're lucky.


So what I do as soon as I can is plan a cooking day.  Or a couple.  This really depends on the needs of your family.  Not to mention how badly you are affected by morning sickness.  I usually spend about two full days making some freezer meals.  I plan out in advance the meals I want to prepare and make my grocery list.  I then spend all day Saturday in the kitchen.  And then I usually do it again.  But that's because I have a big family and I really enjoy having meals on hand.  


So part one is pretty straightforward.  When you find out you are pregnant, make some meals for your freezer.  Brown some ground beef and put it in bags in your freezer.  Roast a few chickens, or take the easy way out like me and buy some from Costco, pick them, and store them in your freezer.  If you're really ambitious, make broth for your freezer to have some super nutritious baby-growing food on hand for easy soups.  Stock up on some items for easy meals like noodles, frozen or canned veggies, spaghetti sauce, etc.  


The other thing I attempt to do after I stock my freezer and pantry, but before I start feeling yucky, is do a really good house clean and make sure we've got the whole kids and jobs things figured out pretty well.  No one wants to clean when they feel yucky, and no one wants to be in a messy house when they feel yucky, so if you are able to get your house in a really good order, by all means do it.


Trust me on this one.  You'll thank me for it.  I just wish I had figured it out before baby number six!


To read about my cooking day adventures when I found out I was expecting Grace, read here.





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how to be lazy and save money
(aka) how to make homemade chicken broth~

I know, I'm supposed to be writing about preparing for a baby, but in trying to put that together I kept running across the fact that I keep chicken broth on hand and seeing as how I had this homemade broth brain block for so long I thought I'd just type up what I do in case some other poor soul ever comes along and things, "Wow, Shyla, thanks so much for posting that.  I never knew."   :)

Anyway, I was always intimidated of making homemade chicken broth.  It just seemed a little too much.  Right up there with grinding my own wheat and canning my own vegetables that I had grown in my very own garden.  I'm busy on facebook raising children and homeschooling, people, what do you think I am, Super Mom?  (If you do these things, and I know many women do, then you qualify for Super Mom AND Super Wife AND Super Homemaker but you should probably keep quiet so the rest of us don't throw things at you.)

I digress...

But I hated buying broth, the good kind was expensive for the amount of soup that I make, not to mention that I have to use it in making sauces for Glen with the whole celiac thing.  So I finally just got over myself and asked someone.  And I found out it was super easy.  And then I found out I could justify doing it the lazy way.

So, this is what I do.  I buy rotesserie chickens from Costco.  They cost $5.  They are amazingly yummy.  I buy one every week and we either eat it plain (as in roast chicken) or I'll use it in a recipe.  If I have time I pick off the dark meat and save it for tacos, soup, or casseroles.  I throw the leftovers in a bag in the freezer.  That was a lot of words to basically say that first we eat most of the meat or save it for later.

Then I throw the entire carcass into the crockpot.  I cut an onion in half or fourths, toss in some carrots, garlic, and whatever else I have on hand, and let it cook on low all night.  Pretty much until whenever I can get to it the next day.  Then when I have time, I put my colander into another large bowl and pour everything into it.  Then I take the broth, set my strainer (it's different than a colander in that it's mesh) over another large bowl, and pour it through again.  My colander catches the big stuff, the strainer catches the grainy stuff.  I let it cool, I skim the fat, then I pour it into containers and put it in the freezer.

Wa la. Homemade, nutritious chicken broth.

But you said be lazy AND save money.

Oh yes.  The lazy part is buying the Costco chicken instead of roasting my own.  For me, the savings of buying an unroasted chicken, plus spices, plus time is insignificant compared to the taste and convenience of the Costco chicken.  They are delicious.  And we don't usually eat them the same day.  I usually reheat them a few days after I buy them and they are still yummy.  The saving money part is because I estimate I can make $10 worth of the good broth from one $5 chicken.  

So there you have it.  You know, since you asked and all.



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preparing for baby~

No, this isn't an announcement  :)   Grace is refusing to let Aunt Flo visit (which is completely fine since we don't like her much anyway) so this is actually the first time EVER that I've had a 14month old and not been expecting again.  It's kind of weird.

But, seeing as how Grace is fourteen months old and I've never updated the sidebar to remove all my baby preparations, I thought about making them into a few posts.  Preparing for the arrival of a baby is something I actually feel like I've gotten down pretty well, so I thought I'd share.  

And there's no way I'm choosing this topic to write about since the work is already done for me and I don't have the brain energy to deal with photos and come up with anything original.  I'm never lazy like that.  Geez.

Stay tuned...



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14 April 2010

in which i confess to weenie camping~

I used to be a camping snob.  In kind of a backwards way.  I thought unless you tent camped, you weren't really camping.  You know, you were just weenie camping.  That was back when I only had six children  ;)
Then, I got pregnant with Grace, and had a pretty serious hemhorrage while I was pregnant.  I was released back to "light to normal" activity right as fall was beginning, but somehow tent camping with six kids and being pregnant didn't sound quite like something I should be doing.  

Enter the pop up.  It was great.  Not super weenie like those mini-condo RVs.  It still fell under the category of "roughing it."  Sort of.  I still suffered minor twinges of guilt when I would tell people we liked to camp.  But gee, traveling in general with a pile of kids is not exceptionally easy, add to that preparing meals, dealing with laundry, etc. in an outdoor setting and I still felt that we qualified.  At least a bit.

So for the past year and a half we camped in the pop up.  And the best part was that while we used to only camp twice a year, we suddenly started camping almost once a month except for during the winter.  Camping is super great for family time, and probably the best part for me is that I don't feel like I should be doing something.  I can be lazy  relax.

So when this Spring began we started looking ahead.  We really enjoyed going somewhere every month, but we really wanted to go further.  As in the mountains.  I've never been West.  (Unless you count that layover in Texas when I went on a mission trip to Mexico.  I guess technically I've been West, but an airport in Dallas doesn't really count.  In my opinion, anyway.)  But the pop up takes awhile to set up and even longer to pack back down, so it wasn't really a viable option for a multiple stop trip.  So we sold it.  For a lot more money than we bought it for, actually, which was definitely a bonus.  And then we started watching craigslist for (gasp) a camper.  After some waiting we found one that just happened to be listed by a guy Glen has done some work for.  So he gave us a great deal.  

So now we have a travel trailer.  As in one with a kitchen, and two sets of bunk beds, and a pull out sofa, and a separate "room" for Glen and me.  And the table makes into a bed too!  But guess what!  It's big enough that we don't even have to take down the table at bedtime, we can leave it up the entire time!  Trust me, when you've been trying to get 9 people to bed in a space where you can hardly squeeze past each other this is a Very Big Deal.  We even have enough room to just hang out and play games if it's rainy.  I can wash dishes, cook an actual meal, and we can even leave the pack and play set up.  And it has a bathroom with a shower.  This is also a Very Big Deal when you have lots of little people needing to potty.  Trust me.

Since it's so big, we wanted to take it somewhere close by the first time to make sure we didn't get stuck  didn't crash into anyone  weren't going to end up in a ditch  Glen could handle it easily.  So this past weekend we went to a campground about an hour away that's right on a lake.  My sister even stopped by one night.  It was lovely.  Beautiful weather, and we were right by the playground and swimming area.  I lost track of how many Scrabble Slap, Chess, and Uno games I played.  Grace and I even took a nap on the beach by the lake.  And we didn't even crash into anything.

So there.  I confess.  We are now full fledged weenie campers.  And I don't care one little bit.  You can make fun of me.  I can take it.  :)




What are you doing this summer?

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13 April 2010

and she turns 1~

My Dearest Grace,


Has it really been a year?  How can that be?  Wasn't it just yesterday you were a newborn baby snuggled up in softness with sleepy eyes and tiny clentched fists?  Delighting me with sweet baby yawns and sighs.  Don't you know your Mama's heart relishes your baby-ness?  Don't you know you're supposed to grow up slower than other babies?  Oh, how thankful I am that you are a snuggler.  And even though I enjoy a good nights' sleep, there is something precious about snuggling and nursing in those sleepy dark hours.  There really is.










You are such a delight to us.  Do you know how many requests I have to turn down from your brothers and sisters to please wake you up early in the morning?  Every day you're like a new gift.  You bring us countless smiles and indescribable joy.  You are such a sweet, happy baby.  We love seeing your face and eyes light up when someone walks in the room.  We love watching you bounce up and down with excitement when someone comes to play with you.  And even though you are just now beginning to show signs of trying to crawl, we're not worried.  That's how your brothers and sisters have been too.  It's a great adventure to set you down and see how far you can scoot yourself  :)


Children are a blessing.  Blessed  is the man whose quiver is full.  We know it.  Without a doubt. We live it every day.  We are so thankful for you.  We are so thankful you are here with us when you might not have been.  Every day we thank the Father for the wonderful gift of Grace.  You are sweet, and beautiful, and such a delight.


We love you, Precious Girl.  Sweet Baby Grace.








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24 March 2010

one day you’ll look back on this and laugh~

 

Um, yeah.  I’m sure I will.  As soon as I hear that Noah and Haven have woken up to an entire gallon of milk spilled and a box of cereal thrown all over the floor by their children on a Saturday morning.  And that my grandchildren danced in it.  Then you’ll see me rolling on the floor  :)

the big snow of 2010~

I thought I may as well do a little catching up on what's been going on; other than my internal wrestlings, that is  :)   After all, I did intend for this to be a record of our life to look back on.



In January we had a big snow.  Or maybe February.  I can't actually remember.  All my days tend to run together.  Anyway, it was rare for where we live.  We only get a snow like this every five years or so.  It was perfect.  The first day it was nice and fluffy.  Great for throwing and making snow angels.  That night it iced over and so the next day it was super hard and crunchy.  Awesome for sledding (and for letting Glen be stuck at home!)   As it melted over the following days it was perfect for building snowmen.  It was absolutely wonderful.  Where we live is kind of up on a hill, so when it snows we are often stuck for several days, even after the rest of the world goes back to normal.  I will freely admit the highlight for me of snow days is Glen being home.  It's so nice feeling like all you can do is be lazy and spend time together.   Ahh....forget work, forget school....


We have an incredible place for sledding.  From this view you go down a fairly steep hill and the snow was packed just right so that you picked up plenty of speed to continue back up the other side.  It was great.



Glen and I even took a few turns. 
 Yes, I  know I look stupid, but I hate being cold.  :)



Grace thought she'd participate too   :)




Glen got the next to last sled from the hardware store, and then he came home and the kids started trying to sled before the snow even started!  A couple of days later he built a seven person sled, but he was the only one strong enough to drag it back up the hill.



I'm sure all you folks that live further north find this somewhat amusing, but for us it was a big deal.  I could use a couple of big snows every winter  :)  


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"How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about arithmetic, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness." ~GK Chesterton

2012 November

2012 November