Thursday, June 9, 2011


Yesterday Clara said, "Mom, you need to put more granola in the container," as she munched on the last few bites of cereal.

Today the girls spent hours making granola.  It's been much too long since homemade granola has been in the cupboard.  Several handfulls have already been munched on.

Training my children is so rewarding.

Mix the following in a very large bowl
2 to 3 pounds oats
6 cups of mix-ins (I used coconut, craisins and sliced almonds today, but the fruit and nut mix-ins are pretty flexible, sometimes I use raisins, pecans, walnuts, diced dried apricots, banana chips, flaxseed, wheat germ, seeds, etc)

Whisk the following in a small bowl
1.5 cups oil
1/3 cup water
1.5 cups honey or maple syrup
1 T salt
3 T vanilla

Pour the liquids over the dry mixture and coat well.  Spread this mixture on an oiled cookie sheet.  Bake at 200 degrees for one hour until golden brown.  Stir every 10 minutes.  This should make about 4 cookie sheets, so your oven will be on for a few hours!  If you use more than one sheet at a time, sometimes the granola isn't as crisp, and will form a chunky, sticky mass, but it's still super tasty!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sick Perks - or not?

Today I am torn.  There is the perk of delegating, training my kids from a chair and eating tasty food, because once again, I had them all working together in the kitchen to prepare dinner.  I'm not sick, per se, but I still don't feel great, and I'm so exhausted after standing and working for long periods of time.  I can't even walk up a whole flight of stairs.  That's not a perk.

Another non-perk is not finishing the costumes I'm already dreadfully behind on.  Apparently, despite my best efforts to defeat this part of me, I am a procrastinator.  I know the Renaissance Faire comes every summer.  Last year I purchased everything for my new skirt, shirt and vest thing, but then I became overwhelmed creating (without a pattern) a Queen Lucy from Narnia outfit for my eldest daughter.  I've never done anything that complex, especially without a fool-proof guide.  This year, I have started my own costume, but only a skirt and shirt have been completed (well, both still need hemming).  I may be wearing the same dress I've worn for the past many summers to complete another Narnia dress.  This time she wants to be Queen Susan.  Although the dress last year is long enough to make up for her huge growth spurt, it was a bit snug around the waist last year, and won't fit around her now.  It needs to be altered for my youngest, so I hope a hem will do.

I started last week on this Ren Fest project, but I underestimated the amount of fabric for Susan's dress, the colors of the red and gold applique bled together to make a lovely pink, didn't have the proper color of orange for my shirt, etc.  Then I got sick and I've barely accomplished anything this week!  This is definitely not a perk of being sick.  I think I'll still make the deadline of 2 completed new costumes and 1 altered dress by next Saturday, but it will be tight.  I will probably still be emphasizing my "weakness" and inability to cook, clean and do laundry until then....  Ahh, the perks of being sick.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sick Perks continued...

Blackberries were on sale at Sprouts last week, so I grabbed 10 little boxes hoping I could make a few jars of blackberry syrup.  Then I got sick.  Almost a full week of them sitting in the fridge didn't help their juiciness, but I put my girls to work.  I was still weak from not eating for 2 full days, so I did some sitting and monitoring.  I guess that's
Perk #3 of being sick - sitting while training my children and delegating tasks.

The Ball Blue Book of Canning Recipes didn't have a recipe for blackberry syrup, but since the jam recipe is the same for all the berries, I decided to just swap berries in the blueberry syrup recipe.  If I could follow directions, maybe I'd be able to better make syrup, but instead of a sugar syrup that gets syrupy, I put the sugar in the berries (AGAIN).  I didn't learn my lesson last year with the blueberry syrup, but I made a note in the recipe book this time.  After hours and hours of stirring and straining blackberry juice, we ended up with half the pints it says we'll end up with - 2.  Jim says it's the best syrup ever, so I guess it was successful.  It's also very thick, since I didn't follow the directions properly, but I would have preferred 4 pints.  The girls did a great job and I felt like I did a good job of training today!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Sick Perks

I got sick on Sunday with some stomach thing.  It's horrible, but there are perks to being ill, I guess.

Perk #1
Lay around a lot and catch up on some reading (I've been reading the All New Square Foot Gardening book).

Perk #2
Jim and Clara made cookies.  Clara adores the Food Network and watched Paula Deen make White Chocolate Coconut Cookies.  They're fantastic!

image from

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Training my little ones

There is so much I want to teach my little ones.  They're growing up so quickly and aren't that little anymore.

I want to teach them to cook, bake and nourish their own families someday.

I want to teach them to clean in order to bless their families and care for the material things they've been provided with.

I want to teach them about the feeling they can get when they grow things in their own gardens.

I want to teach them the value of creating beautiful things for their family, home, friends and others by sewing, crafting, scrapbooking, cardmaking, etc.

I want to teach them to love each other.

I want to teach them to love their work as wives and mothers.

There's so much to do and so little time.

I'm so glad I love my work and can show them these things as I go through my normal routines.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Starting Fresh with my Kitchen

This week my 31 Days to Clean challenges all have to do with my kitchen.  What a perfect place, since that's my favorite room.  And I love to cook and bake.  Well, I used to love to cook, until I got in my rut.  Other than my sudden desire to make things with fresh flour, I slap stuff together each night around 5pm and call it dinner.  I used to meal plan.  I used to try new recipes every week.  I used to practice new techniques and try new things.  Instead, I have become lazy and depressed that my house is a mess and I can't find time to hunt for new recipes or be bothered to plan what we'll eat.  

This is where the next part of the giveaway I won came into play.  I received a year long subscription to PlanToEat.  This site inspired me last week to whip out my new cookbook - 1000 Vegetarian Recipes from around the world.  Jim discovered this book at a used bookstore where I have hundreds of dollars worth of credits to use up while we were in Arizona this spring.

I tried Boston Beans, Macaroni Bake, Tomato and Pasta Bake, and Potato and Split Pea Soup.  I also whipped out one of my favorite Pampered Chef cookbooks 29 Minutes to Dinner volume 2 and made Potato-Crusted Tilapia (except I used cod, cuz that was already in the freezer) and tonight's dinner is Beef Satay Fried Rice (which I've made before and is quite tasty).  I befriended a couple people on Plan To Eat and also get to snag their recipes, so I'm going to try Southwestern Chicken with Spinach  and Pasta with Smashed Peas next week, along with a few other new 1000 Vegetarian Recipes.  If you use this service, friend me - lisastone and we can share recipes. I'm excited to be cooking again.  My family is excited to have real food again.  My kitchen is clean again, so I have time and a place to cook again!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Starting Fresh with my home

I won a fabulous prize package a couple weeks ago at

I started off super excited to even enter because of the 31 Days to Clean e-book (find the link and a youtube video about it on the right hand side of her blog).  My youngest daughter used to beg me each night to read the story about Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42 in her children's Bible.  This e-book teaches us to have a Martha house the Mary way.  Martha spent time cooking, cleaning, etc, while Mary sat at Jesus's feet listening intently while He taught.  While there is nothing wrong with cleaning and serving, Jesus said Mary did the better thing by spending time with Him.  I want to please my Lord, spend time with Him each day and still serve my family by cleaning my home.

Unfortunately I've been in a rut and miserably failing at both tasks.  I'm constantly checking email and facebook, looking stuff up and learning how to be a better homemaker, mother and wife.  I clean other people's homes for a living (well, about 4 hours a week isn't really "a living" but it gives us a little extra money to toss into the emergency fund that Dave Ramsey said we should be building for Baby Step #3 now that we're completely debt free (except the house).  Unfortunately, I clean other homes, know how to be a great homemaker, but don't actually do it.  It's been a couple months since I actually cleaned my bathroom (other than just a quick wipe).  My kitchen is constantly covered in flour dust, and the counters covered in dirty dishes.  I get started on cleaning something, then I decide to bake a loaf of bread.  After all the kneading, the dishes still aren't done, but my arms are tired from grinding flour and kneading.  My home is no longer a castle fit for the man of this house.  It's no longer comfortably allergy-free for my health (and my little ones who also suffer from allergies).  I recently read that clutter can cause migraines, which have been an increasing nuisance to me.  My home is no longer fit to invite people over, or when they stop by unannounced to allow them to step into my home.  My home isn't filthy, but it's not what I'd like to present to people or have my husband come home to after a hard day at work.

At the beginning of 2011, I was challenged to read the whole Bible in 66 days.  I thought it to be a crazy and unattainable goal.  January 6th, I decided that I'd try to read it all in 60 days, since I didn't start on time.  I read 43 pages each night for about 40 days.  Then I started to struggle.  I knew I didn't have 2 hours each night sometimes, and I let other things get in the way.  The 60th day came and went, while I sat stationary in 1Corinthians.  After reading so much of the Bible, I gave up because I didn't reach my goal.  Once in a while I'd read a page or two, but overall, I totally neglected my relationship with God in many ways.

I'm motivated once again by this book to focus on why I clean, spend time with Jesus each day and to actually clean my home - not just think about it or read about it.

The Mary challenge for Day one is to come up with a mission statement and make it pretty.  I've been mulling over my mission statement for the past two weeks.  I would write something I think is great, then I change my mind and think it's corny.  I even tried to steal some other people's ideas at Joyful Mothering who is hosting a 31 days to Clean challenge.  This is what I finally decided on because I can't come up with something better.  It's an acrostic poem and I hope to make it all pretty to display in my hallway of aprons soon.  Right now my dear husband is trying to sleep after a 22 hour work day that ended at 5:30am.  That keeps me from my pretty papers and scrapbooking stuff.

Why I Clean

Create a castle for my family that I adore and want to serve
Lovingly train my daughters to care for their family and home
Eager hands that work bring glory to God
Able to have friends and family over
Now I can truly relax, breathe and enjoy my family