Sunday, December 29, 2013

Dinner Plans 12/30 - 1/5

Monday ~ Ham & Bean Soup

Tuesday ~ Leftover soup

Wednesday ~ Spaghetti & Meatballs, Garlic Bread

Thursday ~ Ground Beef Stroganoff

Friday ~ Homemade Pizza

Saturday ~ Stuffed Chicken Breast, Green Beans, Mashed Potatoes

Sunday ~ Pork Chops, Carrots, Rice

Saturday, December 28, 2013

31 Days of Spending Zero

Starting January first, I am participating in a month long challenge to spend no money, except for the essentials like gas, household bills, groceries. You can find the challenge at Living Well Spending Less.

There is also a Facebook group to join for extra support and encouragement, should you need it.

I told the hubby about this and told him that he has to help out as well. He always spends extra money everyday at work. So, it will be up to me to make sure he has a lunch and snacks for the week, as well as my son.

Because we have a rather expensive bill coming up (labor for installing a new engine for the hubby's truck that we bought used), I am taking this challenge a step farther and not spending any money on groceries other than milk. I have been slowly stockpiling food for the past couple of months, so we will be able to use the food we have on hand. Thanks to our garden and the sales on turkey at Thanksgiving (we have 6 in a chest freezer) and other meat, as well as the deer the hubby got, we will have plenty of meat. I can make one turkey stretch for a week and a half or so.

I can make pretty much everything from scratch. I refilled my stock of bread and whole wheat flour today so I will be making bread soon. I have a friend who can give me eggs from her chickens, if I need them. I do have 2 dozen eggs at the moment that should last us a little bit. Plenty of pasta and dried beans as well.

I will come back every Sunday with a post to let you all know how the challenge is going for me. I am so excited to start this. It will be hard, mostly to get the hubby to stop than me, but we are ready to do this. If it works out, I will try it again in March. I might do this every other month or so.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Our Christmas 2013

I hope everyone has had a blessed day. My Christmas was nice this year. Normally Christmas day is spent with the hubby's side of the family, but my RA wasn't going to let me drive 2 1/2 - 3 hours to our nieces new house, so we had a relaxing day at home.

On Christmas Eve, we always go to my sisters house to celebrate. My daughter and her boyfriend joined us there. The hubby (mine and my sisters) had to work, so they joined us later in the day. The kids had fun playing and hanging out together. Gotta love cousins!

Baby Jesus doesn't go in our manger until Christmas Eve. I bought this little set this year in cause Abby decided to knock it over or eat some pieces. I am afraid to put out the Nativity that my mom made when I was little.

The whole gang is there now. All celebrating Christ's birth!

I tend to spread the gifts out around the tree to make it look like we got a ton of things even though there isn't.

Abby sure likes the nutcracker she gave me. She kept popping up to attack the fish.

We get Matt a new Nerf gun every year. This years is the newest one out. Thing is huge!

Me (ack!) with my new Kindle. I had an older one (2nd generation not a fancy fire one) and it froze and stayed that way, so the hubby upgraded. I love to read and have over three thousand books in my Kindle cloud. Most I have read though. He got me the first one to safe space in the house. LOL. I still have a bunch of books, but I have a hard time holding them because of my RA.

Uncle Bobby got him a Red Ryder BB gun (Like the one in the Christmas Story movie).

A new hunting bow from us. He should be in this one for quite a few years before he moves into his final one.

The big Nerf gun all put together and showing off how big the ammo is. Darn thing is about as tall as two of my nephews!

We had some yummy Homemade cinnamon rolls that my sister made us the day before for breakfast. I also cooked my own homemade cinnamon rolls because they aren't as sweet as my sisters. The hubby is diabetic, so he didn't want the super sweet ones.

Dinner was a nice roast in the crock pot. Now I just have to get up off the sofa, attempt to navigate the box littered living room and wash up the dishes and tidy up the kitchen. Ahh the work of a wife/mom/housekeeper never ends.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Advent Readings Week 4 ~ Love

Week 4 ~ Love
  • Sun ~ Matthew 2:7-12, Isaiah 7:10-14
  • Mon ~ Matthew 2:19-23
  • Tue ~ Isaiah 9:2-7, Ephesians 5:1-2
  • Wed ~ Ephesians 5:15-20
  • Thu ~ Colossians 1:15-20
  • Fri ~ 1 John 4:7-12
  • Sat ~ 1 John 4:13-19

Friday, December 20, 2013

2014 Homestead Goals

It's getting to that time of year when I start to plan what I will do around the homestead. I may not have a homestead like a lot of the blogs I read. I can not have chickens or goats or other outside animals where I am at. I can't raise animals for meat. Believe me, if I could, I would. Today, homesteading is more of a way of life.

For me, homesteading is growing all or most of the veggies my family will eat for the next year.  Preserving the food, baking from scratch using read foods and less if any processed foods. I buy veggies from the farmers market until mine come up. I continue to buy from a farm down the street from me getting veggies I can't grow or have no luck growing, like onions.

I try to be as frugal and sustainable as I can. I make my own cleaners, use cloths to wash the dishes, floors and to dust. I use cloth bags when shopping. I have dollar store bags to wash your undies in and use those for the produce I do buy. I shop at thrift stores for most of our clothes. I won't buy underwear and socks used. That just gives me the willies.

The seed catalogs are starting to come in which gets me all excited to see what veggies to plant this spring. I like to try a few new veggies every year, so reading the catalogs and searching the web on tips for growing them is the first goal to do.

Next is planning the garden. I need to rotate my plants every year so I need to know where to plant and where not to plant them in the garden. I also do companion gardening, so I need to make suree the plants that are near each other will be beneficial to each other. We expanded the garden this past fall, so we will be able to plant more this year. This has me so excited!

Ordering up the seeds to plant is next on my list. I have saved a few seeds from last years garden, like the beans. I also have some left over, like the lettuce and carrots. I try to buy more than I think I will need in case not all of them germinate. Plus, I can share some with a couple of my neighbors that garden. I got some nice garlic chives from my neighbor across the street from me.

I would like to build some hoop houses and cold frames so that I can grow earlier in the spring. I have plans for both, but have yet to actually make anything. The hubby has been grabbing old windows when he sees them by peoples trash to use for the cold frames.

I need a door for the garden. After lasts years mess with the ground hogs, we put up a fence around the garden. We used a piece of ply wood on its side for a door that slides over. It worked well, but it was ugly and not very permanent. I would like a nice half door made up with maybe a sign for my homestead. The fence goes back up in April before I plant to keep out any would be veggie eaters.

Clean out the stream of plant debris. We have a little run of stream behind the house. It is so full of dead leaves, fallen down trees, sticks and gets overgrown by plants and flowers. The landlord is suppose to take care of it, but doesn't. We will take care of the part that is on our part of the land. The hubby wants to line the stream bed with rocks and make a bridge to go over it. Right now there is a very big fallen tree that we use as a bridge.

Get a new oil tank and pour a concrete pad under it. We have needed a new oil tank for a couple of years now, but we are at the point now that our oil guy doesn't want to deliver oil to us. There is a few rust stains on it  but it isn't that bad in my opinion. Hubby says it needs to be done, so it gets put on our list.

Start putting new windows in. We have these old single pane windows that came with the mobile home, so you can just imagine how much energy we loose. We do put plastic on the windows every year and put up the storm windows, but it still isn't enough.

De-clutter and organize the house. We have a lot of stuff, some that just collects dust and is useless to us. I have no problems getting rid of things, the hubby on the other hand, likes to keep things. I swear he has hoarder tendencies. It took me years to get him to take the fishing poles out of the living room and put them in the storage unit. Lots of things will get donated to the thrift store in town. We shop there a lot for clothes for Matt and myself. We like to help out our local communities this way.

These are the only goals that I can think of right now. I know things will change and things may be added or taken off the list.

What goals to do have for your homestead for the coming year?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Let is snow, Let it snow, Let it snow

The other day we got about 9 inches of snow. Then two days later we got 5 more inches. I have only been out of the house once since then. I hate driving in the snow. I like how it looks out in the yard, but hate how slippery it is. I do know how to drive well in it, you have to living up here, but still it makes me nervous.

My poor car, Clarice, all buried in snow. It was a light fluffy snow, so it drifted everywhere. Doesn't look like we got that much from this picture though.

Part of the backyard. I didn't have boots on, so I didn't go out back to take pictures. Soon though, before all the snow is gone. The temps right now and for the weekend are in the 40's. It's going to rain on Sunday too.

The window boxes that my dad made up with greens and winter berries are so covered in snow that you can hardly see what is in them.

There are a few berry branches poking out though. They look so pretty in the snow.

The sky after it snowed was so pretty. The air was nice and crisp and smelled clean and fresh. Granted the air up here smells better than when we lived in the city, but there is something about the way the air smells after it snows or rains that I love.

Advent Reading Week 3 ~ Joy

Forgot to post this on Sunday.

Week 3 ~ Joy
  • Sun ~ Luke 1:57-66
  • Mon ~ Luke 1:67-80
  • Tue ~ Luke 2:1-7
  • Wed ~ Luke 2:8-20
  • Thu ~ Luke 2:21-35
  • Fri ~ Luke 2:36-40
  • Sat ~ Matthew 2:1-6

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Hunkering down for the storm

Yup, my area is finally getting a storm this winter season. Well, technically winter doesn't start until next week, but who's counting. We have had a dusting here and there, but starting tonight and into tomorrow, my area is expected to get 10-14 inches. I live near the coast (15 minutes inland) so the numbers could go either way.

We are already though. We went to the store to get a few things that we can't grow on our own, like milk, eggs and Diet Coke for the hubby. hehe. We picked up some ice melt today. The boys spent an hour or so picking up the yard of stuff that never got put up and secured things like the trash barrels.

Yesterday I spent a couple of hours wrapping my gifts. Let me tell you, it is a pain to do anything with paper or fabric for that matter with a kitten around. I spent more time picking her up and putting her down or locking her in another room to get anything done. My wrapping time looked like this:

Sorry Kiernan if your gift is fuzzy and ripped, Abby says Your Welcome. hehe

Chantelle, you might want to wash the straw really good. She licked it for you. Making sure it was ok for you.

And she made sure the box was the perfect size for my hubby's shirt. I think it will fit well.

Today, I spent some time cutting out fabric to make us some new stockings. Abby of course had to help, but I didn't have my camera near by. She kept trying to go under the fabric, dive bombing the scissors as I was cutting. I am surprised that she still has her paws. I had just sharpened the scissors today too. Here is the fabric I am using. I got it off Nice stuff. I have only ordered from them twice, but have been happy with what I have received.

I have a chicken ready to put in the oven to help keep us warm during the storm. Plenty of books to read, laptop, camera and iphone charged, kindle charging, so I am all set. Plenty of warm clothes and blankets in case the power goes out. Not to mention my homemade hot chocolate mix to make.

Tomorrow night we are suppose to have our Yankee Swap at our Boy Scout meeting, but I am doubting that will happen, but we will see. I am surprised I haven't herd anything from the scouts yet. I might have to email them and see.

Well, I'll post some pictures of our snow once it stops and we are able to get out the door. We always get drifts up on our deck and they block the door.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Confident Heart ~ Chapters 10 & 11

I can't believe this is the last week of our study for A Confident Heart. It was my first Bible study to do since following Christ again. I have truly enjoyed it and look forward to the next study in January. Until that one starts up, I will be doing a short study on prayer by myself.

Chapter 10 was probably my favorite chapter. It screamed out to me. Not following God consistently. I still struggle daily with following my path. Satan wants me to fall off my new path and go back to him. I want nothing more to do with that path. Reading this chapter let me know that I am not the only one that struggles with staying constant.

Chapter 11 was a pretty good one as well. It made me think about what kind of woman I want to be. I want to be a good helpmeet for my husband, a good mom for my son. It has been a struggle this past month, but I know I am different and have started to change for the better. I mentioned to my husband that ever since my grandmother died, I have been reading the Bible daily. He noticed but didn't say anything. He was raiseed Catholic and has always wanted our son to have some religion in his life. We have talked about trying out the Baptist church at the end of our street.

For this weeks blog hop, I have chosen to write a letter to the author, Renee Swope.

Dear Renee,

You have no idea how much I have truly enjoyed and felt lead to your book and this study. I had spent the last 20 years following a Pagan path after a bad episode at the church I grew up in. This past year, my Meme (grandmother) passed. I was very close to her and I took her death very hard. Ever since her death, it was like a door opened up and my mind was changing. I stopped following my Pagan ways and turned my heart back to Christ.

Just a month after I started to follow Christ again, I found this study. I was a very scared, unsure woman, not knowing if I was making the right choices in my life as well as in my families life.

As I went through the study, I have noticed a change in me. I have more secure in the path that I have chosen and have even told my mom and step-father (who is an ordained minister). They were and still are very happy and proud of me. I am different in the way that I parent, not as much as a push over with my son. I actually carry through in the punishments.

I have noticed a change in my relationship with my husband. I am more happy and am a better wife. I now pray about things before doing them. I need to make sure they are warranted before I follow through with them. Trusting my husband more and trusting God more has helped me a ton.

I want to thank you for this book and to all the ladies at P31 Ministries for putting on this study. I can't wait for the next study so that I can further my relationship with Christ.

With much love,

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Homemade Hot Chocolate

Nothing is better on a snowy day than some hot chocolate. Today we got a little bit of snow. So far we only got a dusting to maybe an inch, but are not expected to get much more.

Hot Chocolate Mix

10 2/3 cups Instant Dry Milk
3 cups Powdered Creamer, Non-Dairy
4 cups Powdered Sugar
2 cups Unsweetened Cocoa

Mix everything together. Store in a glass jar or another air tight container.

How much you use per cup depends on how big your cup is. 1/3 a cup or more. I used a 1/2 a cup for our large Pooh and Tigger cups. Add some whipped cream or marshmallow fluff and enjoy!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Advent Reading ~ Week 2

Week 2 ~ Peace
  • Sun ~ Zechariah 6:12-13, Luke 1:5-13
  • Mon ~ Luke 1:14-20
  • Tue ~ Luke 1:21-25
  • Wed ~ Malachi 3:1-6, Luke 1:26-38
  • Thu ~ Luke 1:39-45
  • Fri ~ Luke 1:46-56
  • Sat ~ Mark 1:1-3, Matthew 1:18-24

Friday, December 6, 2013

Christmas decorating around the homestead

I love this time of year. I love looking at all the lights and all the different Christmas decorations. Normally I out up so much things that my kids say it looks like Christmas puked in the house. When we lived in the bigger house in Massachusetts, I was able to decorate every room without it looking over crowded. Now that we have moved up to New Hampshire and bought our mobile home, I am not able to put up everything. I still put up a lot though.

Right now in the living room I have the tree up, all my nutcrackers up on the big bookshelf, a count down to Christmas garland over one window and a small nativity up. I bought a small nativity this year just in case our very curious kitten Abby decided to nibble on them and walk off with a person or two. I did not want to put up the nativity I grew up with that my mom made.

Cute nativity I think. Abby already walked off with one of the wise men and knocked over the sheep. Baby Jesus is put up higher because he never went into the creche until Christmas Eve. It's just something we did growing up, so I continue the little tradition.

Our tree all lit up in the dark. Well, actually, when I took the picture it was around 9 am, but it has been so gloomy here the past few days, that it was rather dark even with the mini blinds opened.

Most of my nutcrackers. I love collecting them. Every year I add one more to my collection. My grandmother Meme kinda got me started. I always loved the nutcrackers that she put out at Christmas, so when I was able to, I started collecting. Right now I have 22, I think. There is 21 pictured here and I have a 2 foot one as well. At one time I had some ornament ones, but I can't seem to find those anymore.

On the back of the front door, I have a wreath that Matt made me back in kindergarten I think. It is made from a wire coat hanger and strips of fabric tied to the hanger after it was shaped into a circle. I love it.

In the kitchen I have the Advent wreath set up on the small sideboard that divides up the kitchen from the eat in nook area.

New candles on it this year, so it looked odd in the picture if I took it from the side, so I took it from overhead. One candle lit so far, second one this Sunday.

I also have this beautiful glass tree that my dad bought me a few years ago and the plate and cup for Santa's snacks. My kids don't believe any longer, and we are focusing on the true meaning of the season now, but I still like it. Plus my mom made me the cup back in 1980. My sister had one too, but that either got broken or lost years ago.

On the way down the hallway, we have our mistletoe hanging down. Both my hubby and son are always stopping in this doorway, so it gives me a good excuse to give them a smooch. Matt tries to avoid it this time of year. I mean what 13 year old boy wants their mom to give them a kiss anyway. I have fun trying though and love listening to him giggle and scream. It usually ends up with both of us on the floor trying to lick each other. Gross I know, but it's fun. LOL

In the hallway, I have a poinsettia garland over the window. On the door to the furnace I have this little decoration that my mom made me years ago. When I was little, my Nana (dad's mom) would make each of her grand kids some mittens and give each of us a 5.00 check. I missed getting them when she passed away back when I was 14. Mom made me this decoration and included a poem (who knows what happened to that though) so that I will remember my Nana.

To help block the breeze that we feel from the backdoor, I put up my Santa doorstop. The rest of the winter I use a towel. I might actually make myself something fancier this year instead of the towel.

At the moment, on the back of the backdoor, I have thee wreath I made for the front of the house. We have three windows in the front and I want to put a wreath in front of each window. So far I finished one wreath. It was easy to make, but very time consuming when you have to wrestle two cats from attacking it and when your hands, fingers and wrists are hurting because of the storm front moving in. I like how it came out though. I also made one for the front door. Same colors, but smaller and different.

Tomorrow is our towns Christmas parade. Matt will be selling hot chocolate with his Boy Scout troop during it. My daughter and her boyfriend are coming down to watch the parade with me. Sunday we are decorating the outside of the house. I already have my wreath up on the door that I made. My dad put greens and red berries in my window boxes, so all we have left is some lights on the deck (our first year putting up lights too) and the wreaths on the front windows. I'll do a post when it is all done to show you all. I am soo excited to to the outside up.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Confident Heart ~ Chapter 9

When Doubt Whispers "I Can't Stop Worrying"

I swear this chapter was written about me. I worry about everything. Finances, being a good wife and mom, if I am raising my son good enough, and so on. I worry about things that I can not control as well. Like if my car is going to breakdown when I am not near home (has happened before so now I worry about it happening again).

I am still working through the chapter, and have been taking soo many notes in my journal for this study. I love the acronym that Renee uses to for what worry stands for:

Worry Only Robs Rest from You

That it does. There are times that I can not fall asleep because my mind is racing with all sorts of thoughts. I am hoping that once I am done with this chapter and read the other blogs in our hop, that I can stop worrying so much over things that I can not control. It is driving me bonkers now. At times I feel like a chicken with its head cut off.

On to this weeks blog hop topic.

A Setting For Two ~

I have enjoyed curling up on my sofa to have some alone time with Christ. Right now our Christmas tree is up, so to look at the pretty lights and all our ornaments that have meaning, makes it easier for me to think of Jesus. I am most comfortable here mostly because I am not moving around in pain so much.

In the warm months, I have enjoyed curling up in my garden. Something about looking around the yard and seeing everything growing that makes you smile and think of what Christ has done to help you feel your family. Yes sitting in the plastic outdoor chairs is uncomfortable and the sun bothers me and hurts my eyes, but I enjoy looking at my garden growing, listening to the birds fighting over the feeders we provide for them and smelling the fresh cut hay. Makes me wish that it was spring and summer here now. hehe

Monday, December 2, 2013

Advent Readings ~ Week 1 ~ Hope

Week 1 ~ Hope

  • Sun ~ Isaiah 40:1-5
  • Mon ~ Isaiah 40:6-11, Isaiah 52:7-10
  • Tue ~ Isaiah 11:1-10
  • Wed ~ Isaiah 9:2-7, Genesis 3:8-15
  • Thu ~ Genesis 15:1-6, Micah 5:2-5
  • Fri ~ Deut. 18:15-19, John 1:1-9
  • Sat ~ Psalm 89:1-4, John 1:10-18

Countdown to Christmas Garland

Over the years, we have used all sorts of ways to countdown the days till Christmas. We have used the ones with little windows that open up to reveal some chocolate, Lego themed ones, ornament cards for the tree. This year I wanted to do something a little different.

I put up some garland above one of the large windows in my living room, put a homemade bow in the middle and wrapped some beads around it. Nothing fancy, but knowing how I am, I will be tweaking it all week long.

I found some tags and little numbered envelopes at Michael's Crafts. On the back of the tags, I printed out a different activity to do every day till Christmas and added them to the tag. Then I hung the them on the garland. I used the branches of the garland to hang the envelopes on.

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