Tuesday, June 26, 2007

I love Bible School!!!

I love Bible School. My children love Bible School, but I love Bible School too!!

This only happens once a year. For 3 1/2 hours a night, for five night - all my children are out of the house at the same time!! They even eat dinner at church. This is the only time ALL YEAR (even during school hours with homeschooling - some one is always here) that they are all doing something at the same time away from home. I can count the number of times I've been alone in the last 16 years!!!

It is so quiet in my house!!! Artie and I eat out every night of BS.

Sunday was Artie's pick - but he couldn't make up his mind - so I picked Long John Silver's. It's in with an A&W and set up like an old time soda fountain. They had oldies music playing. I kept telling Artie - I know this song - it was on my Donnie and Marie album or my Kristie and Jimmy McNichol album or me and my friend Allison use to sing this on her front porch. :-) After dinner I worked on some homeschool things for the upcoming school year. I still have to order Brenda's book and got a good list ready.

Last night we enjoyed the air conditioning at Bronco's Mexican Restaurant. We just had a new one open here in town and it was the first time we've eaten there. I didn't eat lunch saving up my WW points for dinner!!

Tonight I think we are eating at Sub Station II and then tomorrow and Thursday are Artie's picks again.

Friday, June 22, 2007


Gywn found my homeschool notes I lost!!!! I left them at a book sale at Restoration Church. One of the secretaries held on to it and was trying to find out whose it was. That is such a relief!!!! I have so many plans in there!!!

Now, time to get to work on our plans for the upcoming school year!!!

Our Favorite Summer Meals

I love the different seasons!! I love change and making things different. I love looking forward to things and making family memories.

We have different things we serve at different times of the year. We don't grill much during the winter and we don't have salads and things from the garden. Likewise - we don't serve spaghetti (sometimes at a birthday if it's requested) or chili or stews in the summer. My family looks forward to their favorites coming up each season. Keeps their love alive. They sit in the summer and say I can't wait for some of your chili mama or in the winter - I can't wait till we can grill out some hamburgers with garden fresh tomatoes on them. It keeps the food fresh and not boring.

Here are some of our summer foods -


hot dogs
hamburgers (my all time favorite summer meal)
hamburger steak
pork chops

Summer dinners:

A big salad (using things from the garden)

A big sandwich - a loaf of french bread - sliced lengthwise and loaded like a Dagwood then sliced for individual slices


Tomato and bacon sandwiches (tomatoes from the garden)

Corn on the cob, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, and sliced cantaloupe. (I don't get away with many meals without meat - but this one is okay cause it's so summer-y)

Chicken Taco Salad - great served cold

Pepperoni pasta salad

Tuna salad

Chicken salad

BBQ sandwiches


Veggies and dip

baked beans


macaroni salad - want to find a good one

potato salad - not much

boiled eggs

deviled eggs



sweet tea


I want to learn how to make homemade ice cream this summer!!

ice cream

ice cream cones


Italian icee

strawberries and whipped cream

strawberry shortcake




From the garden:

fresh made salsa

Meal Activities:

picnic at the park

picnic at the lake

when it gets really hot - sometimes we will put a video in, turn fans on everyone and watch a movie during dinner on a blanket

hobo lunch - I love this one - I fix the littles a lunch - Pb&J, carrots, a little Debbie, chips or something - tie it up with a bandanna and hang it on a stick. - little boys and sticks with a lunch on it - it doesn't get better than that!!

Please share your summer meal ideas....

Using up my grocery stock!!!

So, here I am talking about stocking up my freezer and pantry and now my stock's down - but it sure came in handy. Last Friday night my billfold was stolen from inside my car in my carport.

It was totally my fault - Artie told me all the time not to leave my billfold in there - but somehow I never really understood he meant it. But guess who isn't leaving anything in the car now?

So, Friday was the day after Artie's payday and I had all my grocery money in it from the week. All gone!!! I could have gotten more money out of the bank - but really felt like it was my fault and I needed to try and do the best with what I already had in the house without buying more.

I've made it through the week now and am ready to plan some real meals for this week!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Planning Our Meals

Four weeks ago
Originally uploaded by helenjane
So, my meal planning has changed a little over the years. I started with a calendar and a piece of paper. I would see what was going on that week - note it on the calendar and then plan what we wanted to eat around that (our four meals plus one new to try). :-) My grocery list was pretty similar each week.

As I grew in my cooking, I began to learn to get the store sale papers each week and see what was on sale. If it wasn't on sale - we didn't eat it!! :-) It help my learning experience to find new meat on sale(besides my favorite hamburger) and then find some way to cook it. My learning kinda hit a wall as far as planning was concerned. My meals were still growing, but I didn't change my method of preparation for years.

Months ago, I had a revelation. I had been sweeping my living room and there were a few pennies and a dime in the dirt pile. You have to understand my house - when I sweep (a multi - times a day event) - the dust pan is always overflowing!! We make a lot of dirt!! I never would get little pennies out of the dirt pile. As I was sweeping I was reminded of the story of the widow woman in the Bible who was rejoicing when she found her lost coin. Then I thought about the verses about keeping account of your herds and how God was a God of order. It wasn't honoring to Him or Artie (who works so hard for us) for me to sweep up money and throw it in the trash. Basically it was laziness. I could justify - it's just a penny - but wow, they add up. I decided I would be more faithful about the money God and Artie gave me to work with. I started collecting every penny I found. I began finding them everywhere. Some days I would have more than a dollar in my pocket at the end of the day.

It was that same time that my eyes were opened to couponing. I use to coupon - saving maybe $5-8 a trip - years ago. That's not what I'm talking about. I am COUPONING!!! In one weekend at a triple sale I saved over ....$550!!!! It has been amazing to me and everyone who has watched the process. I have found so much to buy with those little pennies I had been throwing away. Bread for $.29, spices for pennies, sugar for $.19, the list is endless. That's not even counting the many many things I've been able to get totally free.

Now, for the first time in our marriage, my freezer is full from stocking up when I can get things very cheap or better yet, free. My grocery bill has dropped from $300 a week (for everything - paper products, cat food, diapers, health and beauty supplies) to $200 a week for 8 people. I didn't get a bunch of money and go and stock up. I am adding to my stock each week as I'm watching my grocery bill go down!!! It's amazing to me to watch the growth and the money savings all at the same time. I think God smiles when he looks at my growing pantry. It feels very Proverb 31ish to me!! :-)

So, now my planning consists of getting my little piece of paper and my calendar - seeing what is going on that week - and then going to the freezer and writing down the meats I have in there. I plan meals based on what I already have and then just get the few items I need to round it out.

Meal Planning

meal planning
Originally uploaded by Jenblossom
I am working on some meal planning notes for a Yahoo group I am a part of, so I though I would do some of my thinking out loud here.

I have always planned my meals from the day I got married. I was so excited about the first meal I cooked for Artie. I can't remember everything I cooked, but I know there were several dishes including a pasta salad and some other side dishes. It looked so pretty and fresh. Artie sat down at the table and just looked around waiting for me to bring the rest of the food. He thought it was some kind of joke. I was broken hearted at his disappointment. He couldn't believe I would serve a meal with no meat!!!! What was wrong with me? Wow, what an eye opener - he expected meat at every meal. I hardly ever ate meat and had no idea how to cook it!!!

I had four meals I could cook and we rotated them each week (or really every four days)...

1. Hamburger Helper (which has many different varieties!!) :-)
2. Tacos
3. Cubed Steak
4. My mama's spaghetti

(Notice it's almost all hamburger meat!!! I had no idea how to cook any other meat!!)

That was it. That was all I could cook. We ate those four things and then one new thing. After we ate the new meal - we would vote if we ever wanted to have it again or throw away that recipe. They were a "keeper" or a "thrower". There was only one night that I remember that we actually had to throw the whole dinner out - it was a corn chowder - I've never made it since. So, slowly, the list of things I could cook grew. I got pregnant two months after we got married and was extremely sick. I couldn't even be in the same room where meat was cooking - there was a chicken commercial (we're having "chicken tonight, chicken tonight") and every time I ever heard that commercial I threw up. That lasted the full nine months of pregnancy. So it was a very long process with my learning!!!! But, I don't think my family has had to suffer too much. I have come a long way in my cooking. I'm not ready to be in any type of cooking contest, but if you sit seven hungry children down at my table - I can make them and their daddy happy!!! (most nights)


I have lost my planning notes with all homeschool plans for next year!!!

Only me!!!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Tonight's Dinner

Tonight we are having Zatarain's Yellow Rice with Smoked Sausage fried up and added in (of course sweet tea will be served as always!!). Brenda is cooking dinner for us. /this is her first time cooking this dish - she likes making new things!! We used to eat the Jambalaya, but it was a little too hot for the younger children. I hope this will be a little better tonight.
The Zatarain's (we are using 3 boxes) is from my first triple sale at Lowe's Foods. It was free. The smoked sausage was on sale at Bi-Lo this week for $1 after a coupon was added to the sale price. So.,.. 8 of us are eating dinner for $1 tonight!!! Wow, Artie will love this meal!!!

New School Books

I love when the mailman comes with packages. We got in two new school books for next year: Keeping a Nature Journal by Leslie and Roth and Paddle to the Sea by H. C. Holling. I am excited about the nature journal book. I've never been very good about drawing or journaling or being outside!! ;-) School teaches so much - even to the teacher. I'm going to start my own nature journal this year with the girls I think. There are journal examples for each season. Brenda and I have already both been drawing from the pictures inside.

Paddle to the Sea is one of the books Emily will use for her Geography. Brenda used it and loved it. It is a story about a boy who sends a little toy boat with an Indian inside down through the Great Lakes on a journey to the ocean. I am planning on Brenda being the teacher for this subject for Emily - it will help reinforce the things she learned and I think they will like working together.

Monday, June 11, 2007

I Love Girl Scouts!!

thin mints (drool)
Originally uploaded by sgoralnick

Emily has had so much fun in Girl Scouts this year. She sold Girl Scout cookies (thank you to all who bought some - she sold over 100!), walked in parades, visited a nursing home, earned a bunch of badges, dressed up like Cinderella for a tea party, had a cook out and played on a water slide. The list just goes on and on. It brings back so many fun memories of my mama and me when I was in Girl Scouts. She was the leaders helper and involved in everything I did. I hope Emily will have as many good memories as I do.

Emily;s troop is ending next year. I hope we can find another good troop for her!! I really wish we could find a troop for Brenda - this year there weren't any troops for her age in our town. There are lots more opportunities for younger girls here - but much more fun things to do the older you get. I wish more girls were involved here. We'll just have to wait and see....