Thursday, November 21, 2013

Our Perfect Bread

After playing with ingredients, a few not so great loaves, and finally sweet success.... our perfect bread recipe was born!  By 'OUR' perfect, I mean that it fits my definition as perfect in that it's non-processed, so easy, and full of nutrition!  If you're more interested in those things, you can read about how a few simple steps can help your family over here at this post.  You'll find a challenge there as well!  So drum roll please.........

Our Perfect Bread

Yes....I know the water counts for EIGHT whole ingredients :)
And pictured here, I threw some bulgar wheat on top and pressed in before baking!


4 Cups Hot Water
1/2 Cup Honey (I use local)
2/3 Cup Salted Butter
2 Tbsp. Salt
3 Tbsp. Yeast
1/2 C. Flax Seed Meal
6 C. Whole Wheat Flour
2-5 C. White All Purpose Flour
Preheat your oven to 170 degrees.
In Mixer, mix Butter (room temp is best), 4 C. of the wheat flour, Flax Seed Meal, Salt, Honey, and HOT water.  Go ahead and put your mixer up unless you have one of those bad boys that will mix dough with no worries.  I don't, so I go it by hand from here. 
Add Yeast, stir a couple of times just until you get it moved into the mixture good.  Add the other 2 C of your wheat flour and work into dough.  This is where you have to put some muscle into it, but that's okay-it works! 
Now here's where it might get intimidating!  Bread making is one of those things best taught in person because you're going for just the right consistency in your dough.  But once you get it down, you can bake bread with your eyes closed!  It can differ each time with the humidity level and just because I guess.  So, just know you are going for dough that stays together good (or pulls away from the sides of your bowl) and isn't too sticky to work with.  To get there, add flour a little at a time (this is where I start using my white flour).  And to be honest, sometimes I don't even get it to where it's 'unsticky' before moving to the next step!  When I do that, I just throw in more flour all over the dough and my hands when shaping it for loaves!  Anyhow~when you've added enough flour to have your dough ready, stick a clean towel over your bowl and set it aside for about 5 minutes.
Grease your bread pans while you're waiting.  I use 3 loaf pans and make rolls on a flat pan out of my remainder of dough.  These are a wonderful, fresh baked snack for the kiddos.....and keeps them from sneaking a pinch of off my cooling loaves!
Okay-back to your bowl!  PUNCH that baby down a time or two! your loaves and rolls out~  This is where extra flour comes in handy!  How sticky, or not, your dough is, tells you how much flour you need to use!  I don't go by rules here, just by look and feel!  If it's sticking to your hands-throw more flour in and work your balls!  Lengthen your balls into a loaf shape-then SPANK them to get rid of any bubbles!  Yes....this is my favorite part of the process!  There's something stress relieving about spanking raw dough....weird, I know!  Put dough into loaf pans and stick them in your preheated oven. 
Let rise at this temp for about 30 minutes.  When it looks about the size you want your final product to be...bump up the temp to 350 degrees (with the bread still in the oven) and bake another 20-30 minutes.  You'll know it's done when it starts getting golden on top and makes a hollow sound when knocked on!
Remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack!
But He answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.           Matthew 4:4

Monday, November 18, 2013

5 Huge Baby Steps to eating WHOLE and REAL~Take the 3 DAY CHALLENGE!!!

Organic.  Farm raised.  Additive free.  Home grown.

Okay, I'll count down for you.....3, 2, 1...

now let's eye roll together!

Yep, that was me until recently.

I've always believed in giving my children good choices of food to eat, balanced with a realistic bit of freedom for goodies.  That's part of being a kid, right? 
We love to garden, fill our freezers with wild game, and eat home cooked meals.  We don't eat out often-it's a 15 minute drive to the nearest fast food option.  I don't fill our pantry with Ramen Noodles and cookies as the kids' only food options.  So we were doing good, right?
Nope-guess again! 
I' m going to make a very long story short today.  We have a story-and I'm not completely ready to share it, nor do I have it all figured out to share anyway.  So, just know that we've had things happen within our family, to those we cherish the most dearly, that made me stop in my tracks and take a good, long look at what I've been feeding those I love the most.  And I can say with confidence that I have noticed a HUGE difference, one that's big enough to keep me on this road and to keep paying attention.
Even Shorter Story....
I've tried to eliminate as much processed and artificial food from our pantry, refrigerator, kitchen table, diets, and thus our bodies as I can.  I don't even know what I call it, maybe REAL eating?  A WHOLE foods diet?  Either way-it's huge, and it's working in great ways for my family.
DISCLAIMER:  I live in the real world.  I haven't tripled my grocery budget by going 'organic' when most of said foods aren't truly organic anyway.  I don't always provide my family with the best food-we still occasionally hit the drive through or pick up a pizza.  My husband is forever attached to processed foods so we tend to slack more when he's around....and that's OK-it's called life. 
Ok, with all of that behind us-let me tell you that this journey can be SO very confusing.  Once you do make a decision to shop and eat better foods, the information out there can be mind boggling!  Don't worry about learning it all-just make a CHOICE to start education yourself and take it one step at a time! 
When reading and learning online-beware of those who are trying to sell you a product or supplement.  I'm not saying each individual is bad, but if I'm trying to 'detox' my family's diet, the last thing I want to add is another 'product'.  And I'm just not sure how much I trust the information coming from a company trying to market something at the same time. 
One site and story I've found that I REALLY seem to identify with and whose ideas see very real to me is the following.....
I trust her information and have looked to it often! 
I started this one step at a time.  And before I knew it, I had us almost completely on a non-processed menu!  The next grocery trip-I realized that I had accidentally saved us tons of money in doing so.  It's a win-win right?  It gets better....the differences in certain individuals in our family has been unmistakable and all of the proof that I need.  On top of that, I love being in the kitchen and the time spent preparing foods has become one of enjoyment in many ways.
I CHALLENGE YOU to read the ingredients list of every food you eat and feed your family for just 3 days.  Take note of the number of ingredients on these lists, along with the number of ingredients that you don't even recognize!

So, here's 5 basic steps that will make a HUGE impact in your food choices!

1.  Skip anything PREpared.  We've ditched the meals that come in a can, box, or frozen.  Same thing with the snacks.  I don't buy fruit snacks and snack crackers anymore.  This is an example of the type of snack or an easy lunch that I might serve the kids.  Meals are just made from scratch.  Just think, it gives you even more reason to pamper yourself to those food prep tools you know you want!
Easy Snack Ideas:
Homemade Cookies
Homemade snack crackers
2.  Say goodbye to the PREshredded and processed cheeses!  Below shows the ingredients from a PREshredded bag of cheese compared to a block of cheese.  I'll let you go discover the ingredients list on the processed cheese singles you know we all keep in our fridge!  Just buy whole blocks, shred and slice as needed!
3.  Bake your own bread.  Okay-I know it sounds really hard and probably unrealistic, but I for one was pleasantly surprised!  It took a few tries, but now I can do it with my eyes closed and it only takes a small amount of time about every 3 days to make enough bread to feed our family of 5.  The only motivation I needed was the ingredients list on a store bought loaf of bread.  My bread recipe will be posted soon!

4.  DUMP the margarine and butter substitutes!!  WOW is all I can say after I compared ingredients lists here!  We shop at our Warehouse store and a package of butter is very affordable when bought this way!  It tastes so much better and I've started using it in EVERYTHING!  That eliminated hydrogenated oils as an ingredient in home baked goods, and let me ditch my cooking spray as well!

5.  Honey!  I still use sugar at times, but I've began substituting honey (local) in everything I can!  I use it as the only sweetener in many things, including my bread!  The health benefits in local honey are unbeatable as well! 

That's 5 easy steps that will make a HUGE difference in the things you're putting into your body as well as those you love the most! 
Let me know how that 3 day challenge works for you and look forward to my bread recipe and other non-processed recipes to come!
Good Luck and God Bless you and your families as you dive into this! :)

Friday, November 15, 2013

Gracie Elizabeth Sheree


My Girl

Always know that you were fearfully and wonderfully made....
the only YOU that God gave this world!
You are a blessing to your Daddy and me!  One of the greatest gifts that God has ever given to our lives!
These other 3 love you wildly and free....and I pray you will always treasure the gift of each other!
They loved you first, and you've loved them since!  Here and in heaven, you are still their great baby girl!
And the 'Grands'... lets just call them 5 of your biggest fans!  Gracie Elizabeth Sheree.... you too are blessed my dear!
And loved, and loved, and loved some more....
ALWAYS loved past your wildest the One Maker, our ONE TRUE KING! 
I pray our love will be a reflection of our Savior towards you....
And that you will always know the only one, perfect love of Jesus.
How much He treasures you.
Yes YOU!
Your are His child first, then thankfully entrusted to us!
Never forget...He has plans for you.  To prosper you, and not to harm you!  My sweet girl, I love living this life with you!  You are loved and cherished more than we could ever tell you.  So I pray, that we can and always will show you.
You, my baby girl, are a gift!


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Starting Supplies 101


Long story short....
Little sister needs a supply list to begin crocheting!
Big sister wants to help!
Said sisters are located 5 states away from each other!
Blog post serves as an easier and faster way to give her the info!
Blog post could also help someone else!  So.....
You only need 3 basics to begin
1. Crochet Needle
2. Yarn
3.  To know the stitch
Get it?  Got it?  Good....
This picture shows a selection of various needles!  I generally use the H/5mm needle for most projects.  I use it with regular weight yard (info to follow).  So, start with a size H/5mm Crochet Needle.  You'll use the others after you get the hang of things, start using other yarns, ect. And a yarn needle comes in handy as well (small one the opposite way than the others).

Every yarn I've used lists the needle to be used with it.  This says 5.5, I still use my 5mm.  One needle means crochet, two means knitting!

Here's some examples of some average weight yarn.  Yes, it has an official name or number, I think maybe a 4 something?  I don't pay much attention to that, but if you really feel the the labels and compare! LOL!
I use that weight of yarn and the H/5mm needle to make projects like this unfinished one!
And of course the famous owl purse!  This purse is made with that Sugar & Cream Yarn you see above!  Something about it makes it more coarse than the others of the same weight.  It also comes in smaller skeins (that's a 'thing' of yarn) and cute funky colors for the kids!
And these!
You'll get the hang of it in no time!  You are so creative and crafty, that you'll be doing what I do....using patterns for reference only or not at all!  Until then, learn a stitch or two and start with something basic!
As SOON as you get the feel for the needle.....I say venture into some Sashay yarn!  I just started and cannot believe how easy and affordable these kind of scarves are to make! 

The yarn will look like this-this is the one I'm working with and the black is another unopened skein to show you before it's opened!  They are small skeins and cost more, but it goes SO far!  See the pattern behind the needle?  That's the yarn itself when stretched out!  If you buy this type of yarn, get you a J/6mm needle-that works so well!

Here's a scarf I made this morning, in just a couple of hours....including the time away to handle kids, figure out the feel for the yarn, ect....


And I made this scarf for Gracie girl last night!  Same thing....I made it in one sitting and barely used ANY of the skein of yarn!
So, here's what you need....
1.  Yarn-regular weight to start (2 average skeins for an easy scarf and you should have plenty leftover).
2. Size H/5mm Crochet Needle
(Yarn Needle optional)
3.  Grandma and/or me to teach you a basic stitch
Then, you can crochet away!  Be's in your blood, you'll be hooked!  Oh my...hooked...get it?  Crochet Hooked?!?!  You know I just cracked you up too Nessie!!!
If you wanna buy for the Sashay, get....
1.  A skein of the Sashay style yarn
2. a Size J/6mm Crochet Needle
So, finish your movie and go shopping!   LOVE & MISS YOU!!!!
Big Sister

Friday, November 8, 2013

Homeschool Simplified

We're finishing up week 11 of our school year here at home!  So, since I'm technically NOT a beginner anymore, I want to share some tips and tricks that have simplified our school days!


(It's completely okay if your drumroll consisted of toddler demands or feet running through the house-that's how we roll too!)


Ready.  Set.  SCHOOL!!!  Many of us know that feeling!  I spent so much time and energy into getting ready for our first homeschool year!  It was all a learning experience and once the train actually started to roll, it allowed me many things to hang onto....and showed me what would be unnecessary!  So, for the sake of efficiency, I scrapped some of my original plan in lesson making and such!  However, I have clung to that MASTER PLAN and it has turned into one of my greatest homeschooling tools!  No matter what the week brings or life throws our way, I can change up the day because I am one of those crazy Mama' know the kind that educates her OWN children!  ;)  And, because of my original Master Plan, I can do so with the confidence of being exactly where I want to be in our progress-give or take a day or two!


A.  Curriculum arrived....I oohed and aahed and flipped through the fresh books. 

B.  I then proceeded to break down each subject for each kid into the number of weeks I wanted our school year to consist of.  I chose to follow the flow of the local public school calender-except I choose what days and weeks to take off!  I used the Lesson Plan Section of Mardel-A Simple Plan's online FREE planner!

C.  Each week, I prepare an outline of what we need to accomplish to get where we need to be (using my master plan for guidance).  This is SO easy and I never have to wonder where we are because I simply grab my master plan!

Each kid has an individual plan of course!   This is a PRIME example of how a few hours of work before the year began has saved me immeasurable time, stress, and energy as the weeks go by!


Drill.  Drill.  Drill.  Drill.  Drill.  Okay, since we have that established-here's my tip......

A.  Organize with a coupon/bill organizer found at any local retailer!  These come super cheap at dollar stores or you can let go of a few more pennies to buy one to better suit your style!  I have divided mine into sections by student/subject/covered/not get the picture!

B.  Use page protectors to cover your full sized material!  For Kindergarten, I use many of these pages such as the Hundreds Chart (which I customized for Miss Priss as a reward), basic alphabet for handwriting and reference, and BLEND LADDERS!  We love our phonics curriculum, but I have added blend ladders for extra help and practice.  If your child is struggling with 'putting sounds together' or discouraged with pre-reading or reading in general....these are great memorization and drill material.  So great, that they gave my girl the extra boost of confidence!  We keep these all in one tidy little folder and they may even make it into a binder one day!  These exact blend ladders can be found at  Just click on the link to go visit and land directly at the post where you find these handy pages! 

C.  For the older kids-write the needed to learn term/concept on an index card.  Hand that over to them to fill in the backs as they read!  This helps to get said concept into that smart little brain and then they go back and drill with the same cards!


Believe it or not, you do this already....all of the time!  Once you switch your family over to a learning 'frame of mind', you'll be amazed at how naturally and easily the teaching (and learning) will come, for all of you involved!  The local fair.  A seasonal fun day (think Pumpkin Patch or Tree Farm), local festivals (you wouldn't believe the local heritage and history to be found at such), a day at the zoo with friends (what is there NOT to learn), or a road trip to see family (reference THIS POST to see how a simple roadie binder turns this into a fun, real life geography lesson).  My kids know more about some states and their locations before they're even introduced to them in a school setting!

My point is....chances are that you and your children learn together already!  OWN that and claim it for what it is....learning life!  A simple change in how we see things with our kids opens up endless opportunity!  There's nothing better than a trip to the zoo turning into a simple biology lesson....on accident! 


Morning break!  Aaaaahhhh, one of the best times of our day!  I get these kids in here and I work them....until I've pushed just enough to get their best of the morning without discouragment  You'll know that moment when it comes....TRUST ME!  Then outside it is.....

Fresh air, natural Vitaman D from the sun, plenty of exercise, spontaneous nature art, puppy play....what is there NOT to love about this!  Some days we go out and get back in 20 minutes later for a snack.  There's been MANY days we end up outside for an hour or more...and we go with it!  We believe in strong, sturdy, old fashion, hit the books curriculum!  We also believe in family, real life, and our kids learning to love the world around them!  So, the breaks and the in-between of formal school days is when you will find us "unschooling".

Favorite examples: 

Walk in the woods turning into plant and tree identification, taught exclusively by Daddy himself!

Squirrel season + break time + perfect coincidence= extended morning break to skin squirrel, spontaneous squirrel anatomy lesson, comparison to how God made our bodies anatomically, and discussion of how many chambers a squirrel's heart must have.  And yes, that did lead to us finding out for ourselves! LOL! 

DISCLAIMER:  If you have a problem with the above example-let me just state that at least our anatomy experiment served dinner as well, therefore we didn't waste the rest!  Also, God gave us domain over the animals, and permission to eat them for supper.  And last but not least....if ever without food, my kids could hunt, kill, and eat the little furry guys to survive!  Disclaimer complete!

Mornings that break turn into a family football game on the gravel road.  Priceless. 

A picture can say this so much better......


Firm believer here!  The proof is in the pudding and we thrive on it...the kids AND this Mama!  We have a very firm schedule of early wakeup, breakfast, morning responsibilities, then meet me in the school room!  We basically school on a set schedule of 7:30-noon, give or take a few minutes.  Some days we get it all done and even more to be ahead of said master plan!  Other days, we've had a rough go of it, and things are left undone!  The 'set time' has given me the flexibility of having 2 great advantages.

A.  We often get ahead which lets us 'catch up' on future days when something comes up or you happens!

B.  If you homeschool, or if you're a parent in general, you know that life NEVER goes as planned, we ALL have our down days, and sometimes things just don't work the way we want them to.  That's life!  That's also school!  So, when it's been rough-this allows us to just stop at stop time and go about our daily lives!

Option A covers B and B covers A.  It's a win win.  An additional bonus is that I have eliminated the sibling argument of who gets to be done first.  Yep....they have yet to accept the fact that that different grade levels mean different amount of works, which makes it fair.  Not gonna happen here, so this eliminates any need to address such argument!

We multitask 'individual child spare time' with online supplements. for my K girl and PreK boy and for my 3rd grader.  Free kid time + I need to individually teach=wonderful time to sneak in extra learning!  Or, they just draw or create!

These simple concepts have made our days flow much smoother than without them!  And it's the PLAN and the ROUTINE that allow me the extra freedom to let each individual child grow, thrive, and learn outside of the classroom!  We are happy with these things!  For us....they work!   



Saturday, November 2, 2013

November Begins

November begins.
As you stop to count your blessings, let me ask you this....
How often do you slow down to really see?
To see the beauty of creation all around you.
Once a day?
Once a week?
With every breath?
Look Mama, it's moss.

Touch it, it's so soft....

I look up to catch so many perfect moments.

Simple words, time taken to give...

Morning school break gives way to family football time!

Those kind of things.  Simple gifts in the every day.  Now let me ask you more...

How often do you check your Facebook?
How many times a day to you read or hear the news?

Point taken?  It's okay.  I can only ask the questions because I go through and do the same things I ask of.

Distraction~worldly distraction.  I fall into this trap more than I'd like to admit-sometimes knowingly...other times on accident.  Only to be left with an overwhelmed, overstimulated, tired, broken, and discouraged heart.  Even when what I've allowed into my heart, my mind seems to be positive.  Still, it's too much. 
God's patiently showed me how tender, how fragile my heart really is.  The older I get, the more life I make it through, the more challenges that are conquered.....the more I learn to listen for HIM.  And this time, my God has really surprised me with the simple.  An equation that doesn't seem to add up.
I thought the older I got-the stronger I'd be.  No, I do believe I may be able to admit the opposite today.  No matter how positive things may heart is too tender to absorb it all.
Each picture of a sick child on Facebook that needs my prayer, the next story of a persecuted Christian in a school classroom, the 5:00 news story of a mother's missing child....
Today-I can't do it.
And it's OK to close my eyes and turn my ears away.
So I've began to turn off the news....I know what's going on in our world.  I know the times we face.  I can pray for our nation and the people of the world without knowing and seeing every detail of pain come through my television.
My heart aches for every family facing the illness of a child.  I can love and pray from afar without following a news feed to daily tug my heart away from the focus of my own family.
I know our children are being raised in a broken, backwards world that will try to tear at their mind and heart the first chance it gets.  I don't need to read every article of persecution and unjust story to make me more aware.  Instead, I can tend to my own children, raise them right, and prepare them for the world around them.
The missing child....God knows where he or she is.  My prayers will help from afar, but His presence is already there and He is with that child.  Same for the sick in the world, same for the things gone wrong in the news.
My heart was not made to take it all in.  Maybe some hearts are, I don't really know.   I do know what His word tells me....
And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.  Romans 12:2
I've discovered the easiest way for me to do that is to turn the worldly information off and tune in to the moments around me.  The simple.  The small.  The together.  In that, I see God, I feel His touch, and I'm reminded of all He gives...
Inspired moments turn into projects...



So that when a time for warrior prayer comes....I'm stronger, I'm ready, and I have the strength to give my all to intercession!  In the meantime, my children are learning this as they grow.  I'm focused on Christ, my relationships, and able to give more fully to my daily prayer life.  Yes, we still use technology and I am obviously a fan of social media...on my terms.  More importantly, only secondary to my relationship with Christ and to life's real moments. 
Slow down.
Turn the information off.
Open your eyes, take a deep breath, and enjoy!
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.  Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do.  And the God of peace shall be with you.  Philippians 4:8-9