Monday, September 29, 2014

Weekly Goals

It's been awhile since I've done any weekly goals. Bout time I started them up again. I am a planner and tend to get things done if I have goals. Here are this weeks goals.

1. Make laundry detergent. I am seriously low on detergent. I try not to use any store bought stuff, but have bought some if they are on sale and I have coupons for it. But right now, I have nothing. I already have the Zote soap shredded, I just need to mix everything.

2. Can the remainder of the tomato sauce. We had a wonderful tomato harvest this year. I think I have enough to have one pasta dinner a week for the whole year. I am getting sick of cooking the sauce and canning it. I hate the smell of tomatoes cooking. It grosses me out. I love my sauce though.

3. Make croutons and breadcrumbs. I have been blessed with tons of free bread. I have five or six 2 foot loaves of bread all dried out to make bread crumbs with. I also have four loaves that are starting to dry out that I will turn into croutons. I tend to just eat the croutons as a snack. They don't seem to make it into any salads. With soup season upon us though, I will be using them in my soups.

4. Make apple sauce. The hubby and I bought a couple of half bushel bags of utility Mac's from the farm up the street from us. Nothing wrong with the apples other than bruises and blemishes. Fruit is still really good. They sell the utility bags loads cheaper than the normal bags. One bag is dedicated to apple sauce.

5. Make dry apple slices. With the other utility bag of apples, I will be drying them out for snacks during the winter. I eat them like some people eat potato chips. Love them! Last year, I didn't make much, so this year I will be making a bunch.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Corn Maze

Yesterday, Matt and I joined our local homeschool group for a little fun in a corn maze at a farm near us. We have lots of farms around here considering we are not in an rural area.

Most, okay all, of the kids that went were a lot younger than Matt. Most of the were girls too. I met quite a few nice parents, both moms and dads. Matt was kinda bored while we waited for the rest of the group to show up. I was content talking to the other parents. I needed the socialization more than Matt at this point. LOL

Off we go! We started out with the whole group but eventually Matt wanted to go his own way.

I can never seem to get a picture of him anymore. He hates to have his picture taken. I snapped this one quick while he was running back towards me. Not too bad really.

I put my phone up above the corn stalks when we were on the top of the hills to see the view (all these pictures were taken on my iphone). Matt tried to duck out of the way, but I still got him.

Eventually he took off and left me. He was within ear shot, so all I had to do was call for him and he came back.

Another view of the fields around us. I love it here. Matt and I were far from the little kids at this point. We did find them eventually, but we continued to go our own way.

Throughout the maze there were these posts with a nursery rhyme on it and a little clue as to where to go to either get out or get further into the maze. We found 2 of them.

This is one of the signs up closer. We figured out that the spout would lead us out, so we went right.

Eventually we made it out.We were the last ones in, first ones out. Well one of the moms took the short cut out because her kids (they were 5 and 2) were tired.

One of the displays of pumpkins and mums.

Lots of pumpkins for sale. In the back is a hay maze for the little kids to play in.

It was a beautiful day. In the high 60's and warm. Perfect day for this. Of course Matt didn't want to do any school work other than math after, so I decided it was okay to take the day off. I have been super tired this week anyway. I am due for my infusion (I have it tomorrow) and I always get really tired and more sore the week before I have it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Cottage Pie

Cottage pie is basically the poor man's Shepherd's Pie. An authentic Shepherd's Pie is made with ground lamb. An authentic Cottage Pie is made with ground beef.

I made this for dinner tonight so I could visualize the amounts of ingredients that I put in it. I have made this for so long, that I don't measure anything anymore. Some add cheese to the top or even a pie crust, I don't do either. Hubby doesn't like cheese (oh the horror!) and my family has never made it with a crust before. This is my take on the Cottage Pie. Hope you enjoy it!

Cottage Pie

1 lb. ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 cup fresh or frozen corn
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup beef broth
1 tsp tomato paste
3 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp flour
4 large potatoes
4 tsp butter
1/4 cup milk
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/2 tsp dried parsley

1. Chop potatoes and add to salted water. Cook until tender. Drain water. Add butter and mash. Add milk and continue to mash. Add salt and pepper.

2. Cook the ground beef with the onion. Drain off any fat. Add garlic and cook a minute or two. Add flour and mix well to cover beef.

3. Add carrots and corn to beef mixture.

4. Mix the tomato paste with the beef broth. Add beef broth to meat/veggie mixture. Add Worcestershire sauce. Cook until thickened.

5. Add salt, pepper and parsley. Put mixture into 9x9 baking dish. Top with the mashed potatoes

6. Cook at 350°F for 30 minutes. Serve and enjoy.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Homeschooling with cats

Having pets sure makes your life interesting. Homeschooling with them has its own difficulties.

Today for instance, Abby wanted to sit in Matt's lap. She loves to curl up in his lap while he pets her. Well, his lap was taken up with his English book, so she decided this was an okay spot.

I love how her paws are folded. She kept giving me the stink eye. She wanted her lap back and couldn't until we were done. She then decided to help us finish faster by eating the teachers book.

I'm going to have to put a disclaimer in my Ebay add when I resell the book. Nomed on by a impatient cat. It only has a few teeth marks in it.

Later on, Max decided he wanted to curl up on my lap. He is not a lap cat really, but if he is cold, he will curl up only on my lap or the hubby's lap. This was my view while I was trying to fold socks.

He's part Maine Coon, so he is a big boy. He wouldn't get off my lap even when I was half way up getting off the sofa. Guess he wanted me to shut the window or something. Later on I found him curled up in our printer paper bin. *sigh* Now I know why our paper was furry.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Weekly Menu 9/15 ~ 9/21

Monday ~  Baked stuffed chicken breasts, mashed potatoes, green beans and gravy

Tuesday ~ Bangers (sausage) & mash (potatoes)

Wednesday ~ Spaghetti & Meatballs, garlic bread

Thursday ~ Steak tips, rice pilaf and carrots

Friday ~ Vegetable Beef Soup

Saturday ~ Cottage Pie

Sunday ~ Tuna Noodle Casserole

Linked up to Meal Plan Monday

It's beginning to feel like fall

Fall time is my favorite time of year. I love the cool temperatures (normally very welcomed after the hot summer, but this summer was oddly cool and wet). I love the smells and colors. We had to turn the heat on last night too! Never turned it on this early in the season. It is still summer! Fall doesn't start until the 23rd.

The cool weather loving plants/flowers of mine are in heaven. Normally I would have pulled the petunias by now and plant mums instead, but the petunias have decided to bloom again. My black one is going bonkers right now. I am going to attempt to save it and see if it will come back in the spring. Doubt it will work, but you never know.

Grilling some steak for dinner last night. Not to many more grilling days left. We are one of those that closes up the grill and don't use it during the winter. We get too much snow at times and don't want to dig out the grill to cook. If I had no choice, I would though. I can't wait till we can cook some cold weather foods, like casseroles and soups. Things I don't ever cook in the summer. My oven never turns on in the summer. Well only once, to make cupcakes for Matt's birthday.

My garden is pretty much done. Only some tomatoes left and an occasional lone cucumber. I pulled all the butternut squash the other day and will process it soon. We didn't plant this much, so we didn't get much. I will have to change that next year. Not to mention they are smaller than normal. We plant a bush variety, so it is smaller than other Waltham Butternut Squash, but they were smaller than the normal bush kind. At least we have some. Hubby is the only one who enjoys it.

The hubby and I are already making plans on what to do next year in the garden to improve it. I keep mental notes all spring/summer long of what to change, not to do, etc.

Our homeschool year is in full swing. We are still adjusting our days now that we have added a homeschool archery class that falls on different days/times of the week. It makes planning a little difficult. We are not child directed learners/unschoolers. I do wish we could be, I love the idea, but I know my son and know he would never learn things he needs to learn.

Well, time to get back to my day. Took a little time while Matt was taking a chapter test in history to type this post up.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Homemade tomato sauce

Normally, by this time of year, I am all done with canning all my tomatoes into sauce, but this cool summer has made the tomatoes take forever getting ripe. I still have a bunch of tomatoes on the vines to pick today and have a bunch that I picked 2 days ago to can. Lots of them have cracking thanks to the wet spring and summer we had, but the fruit is still good.

This year I tried a new tomato instead of my normal roma tomatoes. Burpee has a Super Sauce tomato that I decided to try out. I ordered 9 plants (I can never get them to grow by seed for some reason). I also got 3 of their new Steakhouse Hybrid tomato. It was okay. It didn't grow fruit as large as they said it could. I had bigger and more fruit from the regular Big Boy tomato plant that my neighbor gave me. But the Super Sauce I will be doing again. The fruit is HUGE. I mean look at it compared to my hand. And this wasn't even the biggest one picked. They are full of meat, very little seed. I have my dad and sister adding these babies to their to buy list for next year.

I don't do anything special or put anything into the sauce, it is just tomatoes. I add seasoning and other veggies to it when I am making a pasta dinner. Last year I had to freeze up my tomatoes because we had them coming in sporadically all summer. This year, they are coming ripe in huge lots, so it is making it easier to process.

First thing I do is peel the skin off. I have a seed/skin strainer that I can use, but it caused me issues last year, so I just skipped it. Instead, I just put the tomatoes, 4 or 5 at a time because they are so huge, in a pot of boiling water for 3 minutes. The skin starts to crack that that point.

Once this is done, I put the tomatoes into ice water to make them cool enough to handle. The skin comes off really easy. I trim off the tops and slice the tomatoes in half. I have had both my crock pots going at the same time full of tomatoes to cook down.

I cook them over night on low and then smash them with a potato masher. Then I leave the crock pot lid off a crack to let the extra water cook off. I like a thicker sauce. Once the tomatoes have the right consistency for me, I puree them using my immersion blender. Then the canning of them starts.

I can them in pints. I add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to each jar and fill the jars up with the sauce leaving a 1/2 inch head space. Then I water bath can them for 30 minutes. Easy peasy.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

First day of 8th grade

Today was our official start of the new school year. Welcome to 8th grade. Our day was simple really. We went over everything Matt will be learning, went through the books, installed the disks onto the computer (math & typing). It took us about 2 hours, but I just wanted to have a simple easy day to ease him back into school. He thought the little sign I printed up was stupid, but humored me. LOL. He needs a hair cut something fierce, but doesn't want me cutting it, yet.

At noon, he had his first homeschool archery class. Matt has been doing archery since 2007, but hasn't really done anything for the past 2 years or so. The class is full of many ages, like most homeschool classes are. Matt is the eldest (and the tallest out of everyone, even the adults lol) and the youngest is about 5 or so. The teacher (a homeschooling mom herself) is going to divide the class up so the advanced kids (like Matt and 4 others) won't get bored with the younger ones. Matt was showing the other kids good form and other things. He was like the teachers pet or something LOL.

After the class, we headed over to the archery range that is at the place where we buy our bows and accessories to do a little more shooting and get his bow sighted in more. He just needs more practice to get back into the groove.

Tomorrow we actually start lessons. Let the fun times begin.

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