About Me

My photo
Indiana, United States
Updates on our homeschooling family with ten children, a handful of chickens, a couple horses, three bunnies, and six cats. Visit our website at PeacefulHome.net


Blog Archive

Grocery Spending

Food Only

Oct 2010 - $231.39

Nov 2010 - $998.22

Dec 2010 - $340.29

Jan 2011 - $855.15

Feb 2011 - $203.17

Mar 2011 - $916.52

Monthly Average $590.79

Weekly Average $137.85
Our family's website, PeacefulHome.net, is in the process of changing hosting companies and is currently inactive. Our plan is to move this blog over once construction is complete. Please stay tuned for updates!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Reformation Day!

Tonight, the church we've been attending lately held it's annual Reformation Day Celebration. The children had a wonderful time playing traditional games like bobbing for apples and tug-of-war, as well as the special games like "Pin the Theses on the Door" and "Pennies for Penance."

Caleb bobbing with his support team of Heidi and Brigitta

Jacob and Brigitta work out the strategy.

Ted got so wet that if we'd had soap, it would have counted for his bath.

Three-legged racing.

The children out-number adults by about 6:1...

So the parents didn't have a chance! The adults were creamed!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bring Joy to Your Man

One of the five speakers that blessed me at this past weekend's IAHE Mom's Retreat was Tess Worrell of Your Family Matters. Speaking on the topic of Bringing Joy to Our Husbands, she neatly articulated something that I've been wanting to mention here for months.

One of the ways that we can bring our husbands joy (and greatly improve our marriages in the process), is though affirming him. As Ephesians 5:33 states, the wife is to respect the husband. This counts more to them than love! I mentioned this to my husband, and his answer was "Of course!"

As Tess stated so concisely, we do this by "showing our husbands our preference and our deference." Our husbands need to see by our words and our behaviors that we prefer them over all others: girlfriends, our parents, our children, and especially our time in front of the computer (you can leave now if you have to)!

We also need to show them deference in believing that they are competent and trustworthy. When does the world ever show us a strong competent husband on a TV sitcom? It's usually the husband messing up and super-wife comes in and picks up the pieces. Even if we're afraid they're not going to do something "right" especially when it comes to the children, we need to back them up. Some of the things I cringed about the most, became treasured memories. (Like when Bryan took 7 children, by himself, hiking in the snow).

You can control 50% of the attitudes in the marriage, but that may make 100% of a difference.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

How to Make Muffins in Five Easy Steps

From a real-life experience that happened in my kitchen with one of my closest friends. I submitted this for an informal essay assignment.

Observe. It is the box. Within this cardboard creation lies the secrets of cooking- the wondrous ingredients of unparalleled food. Behold. It contains baking mix, strudel, cinnamon swirl mix, and a crowning glory of glaze. This is the Cinnabon Muffin Make-Them-At-Home! Box of Mixes.

Now to make these little beauties is not hard. Only follow these five easy and highly effective steps. They are presented in sequential order. Take note that these steps may differ slightly from those found on the back of the box. However, these steps are the result of my personal experience.

Step 1- Read the recipe on the back on the box. Decide you need the baking mix. Reach into the box. Select the first random packet you can grasp. Empty into a large mixing bowl. Add milk and butter; mix until incorporated (batter will be lumpy). Afterwards, contemplate how thin and soupy the batter looks. Deduct that it is certainly not possible to make eighteen muffins out of this watery little puddle.

Step 2- Re-read the recipe. Decide that you probably did it right. Search in the box for the cinnamon swirl mix. Pull it out and realize with a shock of horror that it looks just like the “baking mix” that you just put into the bowl. Dump out the contents of the box onto the counter. Find the real baking mix at the bottom. Add the baking mix to the soup you created, mix well.

Step 3- Add cinnamon swirl mix. Stir seven times- do not incorporate. Study the thick dough you just made. Add a leetle bit of water to thin it out- mix in while desperately trying to not incorporate the cinnamon swirl mix too much. Be mildly surprised that the batter actually looks ok.

Step 4- Pour the batter into the liberally greased muffin cups. Hunt through the pile of mix packets to find the strudel topping. Fail in finding it. Realize that you original hypothesis has been disproved. You didn’t put in an extra pack of course, decently thick cinnamon mix instead of the baking mix. You put in the thin, crumbly strudel. That accounts for the soup at the beginning of the process. Decide and realize that the only thing to do is leave the muffins as they are, sans strudel on the top.

Step 5- Put the muffins into the oven, preheated to 350°. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the muffin tops resemble volcanoes with lava running profusely out of them. Remove from oven, let cool until your patience evaporates. Remove from muffin pan. Admire the mushroom-cloud shape. Drizzle with glaze. Enjoy!*

*Enjoyment may be hampered by the contemplation of how many calories and chemicals you are consuming.

WFMW - Hot Cocoa and Bible Time

Here is an idea that my dear friend and mother-of-nine came up with at the beginning of this school year. The Stumpfs have gladly latched on, as has Jamers, and now we pass it forward to you!

In order to get the little darlings to the breakfast table on their own accord and start the day in God's word, we offer a treat that doesn't appear at any other time: hot cocoa! Fifteen minutes before our scheduled breakfast time, anyone who wants to participate makes themselves a mug and settles down to read their Bible assignment for the day or study their AWANA verses. The little girls look through picture Bibles.

Everyone is quiet (well, mostly) and has their noses in the word of God. Awesome!

Part of what makes this such a treat is that we have been using store-bought hot cocoa mix. Those corn syrup solids just make a super yummy cup that no homemade mix can duplicate! Plus, mini marshmallows - need I say more?

I do mix up some of my homemade mix and use it to s-t-r-e-t-c-h the can since we go through the largest can available at the grocery store in two days! I'll be checking at Sam's soon!

Here is the recipe for the best homemade mix I've come across:

4C Instant Nonfat Dry Milk
1 1/2C Sugar
1C Non-dairy creamer
2/3C Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 Package Chocolate or Vanilla Instant Pudding Mix

Put everything in the blender and process until powdery fine. This makes it more like the consistency of commercial powders. We use 3 heaping teaspoons to a cup of warm or hot water.

Organizational note: We each have an assigned mug which does not change from day-to-day. We wash them out after breakfast and use them as our cups all day long. Otherwise, we would have 20+ cups and mugs in the dishwasher each night!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Cauliflower in the Banana Bread?

When I bought The Sneaky Chef and Deceptively Delicious a couple years ago, I started an ongoing adventure of hiding vegetables in different foods without anyone catching on to what I was doing. Just today, the blueberry muffins at breakfast had pear puree, and at dinner, our taco meat hid spinach, blueberries, and carrots!

While the books are a great read for the how-tos and inspiration, here are some sneaky tips to get you started on your own path to incognito veggies. After steaming and pureeing the veggies, I freeze them in 1 cup Gladware-type containers. Write the contents on the lid with a sharpie.

Cauliflower or mashed white beans - into anything pale like muffins, cookies, and cream sauces.

Carrots, squash, or sweet potatoes - this is the most versatile. Put it into baked beans, any reddish sauce, even into hamburger patties

Spinach - combined with blueberries, you can hide this in brownies or chocolate cupcakes. I'm serious! I also make a green puree of spinach, broccoli, and peas that I put into red sauces, burgers, and even gingerbread!

The key is really to match the color of the puree with the sauce. (Green puree into mac 'n cheese would be a bad move!) Start with 1/4 C of puree and work up to 1/2 to 1 cup. Try not to giggle too much when they're happily eating spinach brownies!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - October 26, 2009

It truly feels like fall. As I sit here, I smell campfire on my clothes. Teddy (12) decided to build a fire pit last week, and tonight we enjoyed it complete with roasting marshmallows. So lovely to have an activity that everyone in the family delights in. Thanks, Ted! We look forward to many more campfires!

This weekend was spent with dear friends at the homeschool Mom's Retreat. Wonderful speakers and music. More insights on that to come...

I've been working on getting our 2009 dinner menus (Jan-October) up to our website. I should have it done before bedtime tonight (Sunday), so check it out on our downloads page at PeacefulHome.net.

This is one of those rare weeks when there are no meetings/activities to muddle up our dinners. I look forward the following family dinners:

Monday - Soft Tacos, Homemade Corn Tortillas , Skillet Corn

Tuesday - Spaghetti & Meatballs, Garlic Bread

Wednesday - Pumpkin Pancakes, Glazed Apples & Sausage

Thursday - Bean Burritos, Homemade Flour Tortillas

Friday - Bible Study

Saturday - Cranberry Baked Beans, Steamed Brown Bread

Friday, October 23, 2009

Amish Friendship Bread - Starters & More!

We love a big pan of Amish Friendship Bread as a side for just about any meal. About once a year or so, I get some starter going, nurture it along for a few months, and then I'm really over the whole process.

Instead of searching for people willing to take my extra starter, I freeze it in one cup amounts to use when I don't have a frightening, fermenting baggie in my fridge. These frozen portions can also be used to start a new batch of starter, or you can go at it from scratch.

Here is the basic recipe:
Day 1
Mix 1C milk, 1C sugar, and 1C flour in a one-gallon freezer bag. Most recipes say to leave it on the counter. Every time I've done that I've ended up with a rotting science experiment. I keep mine in the fridge.

Day 2-5
Leave alone.

Day 6
Squish the bag.

Day 7
Feed with 1C milk, 1C sugar, and 1C flour.

Day 8-9
Squish the bag every day.

Day 10
Ready for use. Feed before (less tangy) or after (more tangy) removing amount needed for recipe.

Yeast Starter Version
Day 1
Mix 2.25 teaspoons regular yeast with 2C warm water in a one-gallon baggie. Store in the fridge

Days 2-4
Squish baggie once a day.

Day 5
Feed with Feed with 1C milk, 1C sugar, and 1C flour.

Days 6-9
Squish baggie once a day.

Day 10
Ready for use. Feed before (less tangy) or after (more tangy) removing amount needed for recipe.

These two versions can be used interchangeably in all Friendship Bread recipes. The yeast version gives a more sourdough taste. Sometimes I don't wait until day 10 to start baking. After day 10 you feed the starter every 5th day. I write "feed" on the calendar and then tell the children those are the only days I'm going to feed them! I usually just make something every few days and feed it/freeze extra at that time.

This is one of our favorite ways to use the starter. These are delicious sourdough pancakes that are even better sprinkled with chocolate chips or M&Ms.

Makes 8-10 Pancakes
1C Flour
2 tea. Sugar
2 tea. Baking Powder
1/2 tea. Baking Soda
1/2 tea. Salt
1/3 C Friendship Starter
1 C Milk
1 Egg
2 Tbl. Oil

Mix all together and cook pancakes! Yum!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

There's a gap in your grin...

Where the air can whistle in;
There's a place in your face
Where you've got an empty space...
You've got style in your smile
(More than a crocodile),
And to tell you the truth--
You look cute without your tooth!

Or in this case, teeth!

Caleb lost a several teeth in a very short period of time. Not to be outdone, Ted's lost two molars in the past week. No photo of him because it looks more like a throat exam.

We told the boys that trying to out-eat each other in pizza or pancakes is one thing. Going for "Most Teeth Lost" is quite another!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Is it just me, or is Moses shorter than you imagined?

Tonight, our AWANA Club held it's annual "Dress Like a Bible Character" night. The children look forward to this every year. You'd think we'd plan for it by now! We started talking about the costumes yesterday and managed to pull them together in one mad dash tonight at 5:30.

Meghan as "Martha," sister of Mary and Lazarus

Caleb as, well, "Caleb" coming from the promised land with milk, honey, and grapes.

Jacob as "Moses"

Brigitta as "Mary," mother of Jesus

WFMW - How do you like them potatoes?

Actual photo from last night's dinner. Note grumpy baby in the background!

When we serve baked potatoes (which we do a lot because, hey, they're cheap!) I chop up the potatoes after they're baked and put them on a platter. I then top them and serve.

This lets everyone get as much as they want without waste. Plus, by topping them ahead of time, it curbs the children that consider butter and sour cream to be the main dish! Leftovers heat up great, too.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Muffin Mania

A long time ago, in a battered library copy of The Complete Tightwad Gazette, I read a tip that has really made me happier on some levels. And now I share it with you:

Bake a batch of muffins in an oblong pan and cut them into squares to eat.

Do you hear angels singing? I do because I detest scrubbing a muffin pan. And I never have enough of those paper liners around and you still have to wash the pan and no amount of greasing makes it easy to clean and, and , and...

We have muffins for breakfast every Monday morning. I bake a batch of 24 in my Pampered Chef 10 x 15 bar pan. They cook in 18 minutes and can be cut and spatulad-out immediately. My 12 x 18 baking pan can hold the batter for two loaves of quick bread (current favorite if Cinnamon Amish Bread) that would take 50 minutes to bake in loaf pans. In the big rectangle - only 20 minutes!

The only downside we've experienced is that my children don't realize that muffins are really supposed to be round. When a friend delivered a batch of healthy muffins after Hunter's birth, the small children called them cupcakes (and were a little disappointed when they bit into one!).

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Power of 10

Clutter makes me a bit nuts. My children would probably say more than a bit! But with 10 of us making messes around here (some more than others, and you know who you are), things tend toward disheveled.

Two techniques that help keep me sane on some days are:

Get Rid of 10
One of the "hot spots" for junk accumulation is an area on my kitchen counter. I have a basket where Bryan throws the mail, I keep "in process" things, and the children think it's OK to drop whatever they have in their hands as they walk by. It can get overwhelming, and messy breeds more mess.

In between other activities, I'll tell myself to get rid of 10 items in that area. Just 10. Stop when I reach 10, or it becomes a project. And by get rid of it means throw away, put away or deal with. Not move to another pile.

After a couple sessions, the area looks much neater, and I've only spent a total
of a couple minutes. When the surfaces of my house are tidy, it's much easier to tackle those more hidden areas in...

Work for 10
It's amazing how much I can do in 10 minutes. Organizing projects that I haven't gotten around to for months can often get completed in one or two 10 minute sessions.

I love to set the timer for 10 minutes and see how much I can get done. And by love I mean it's better than scrubbing a toilet.

Great 10 minute projects: the linen closet, the junk drawer, the coupon pile, a child's underwear drawer, tiding up the surfaces in my bedroom, organizing our mud room (shudder).

Go discover what 10 can do in your home!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - October 19, 2009

What? Sunday night already? How did that happen?

Somehow those great weekends, full of fellowship, seem to fly by. Friday we watched our dear friends' children so they could have a date night (hope you enjoyed, you two!). Saturday I was able to scrapbook. Somehow there was a lot more giggling than scrapbooking. After worship on Sunday, Bryan and I worked at the 4-H Project Fair. And thus kicks off another exciting season of 4-H!

This week, I'll be home most days, but Bryan has more night meetings than usual. On Friday, I head off with a couple buddies to the Homeschool Mom's Retreat. I'm really looking forward to it!

In the midst of all this fun, this week we'll be enjoying:

Monday - Thanksgiving in a pan (except I'll use chicken. shhh! don't tell)

Tuesday (Bryan night meeting) - Loaded Baked Potatoes (making a big batch of cheese sauce)

Wednesday (AWANA, Bryan night meeting) - Cold Cuts, Popcorn

Thurday (Bryan night meeting) - Waffles, Omelets

Friday (Lainie to Mom's retreat) - Hamburgers and Fries

Saturday (Lainie at Mom's retreat) - Homestyle Mac n Cheese (with the cheese sauce from Tues.), Pinto Beans, Cornbread

Sunday - Cheddar Veggie Soup (finishing up that cheese sauce), Fresh Bread

Find more menus at orgjunkie.com.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Disney World Photos - Part 5

Like Uncle Milty's slide show that never ends, there is the penultimate installment of the Disney World vacations photos.

Day 6 - September 17 (EPCOT)

I don't have many photos of this day, either. I'm hoping Emelie has more! We spent our morning in the pool before heading to EPCOT. We ate dinner at the Biergärten. Bryan was in heaven over the wonderful German food. The cast members there loved our last name, too!

Once again, water was a huge hit!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Reason #4,867 why I love my husband

I have a great walk-in pantry. However, we've long since maxed out the shelf space since so much other than groceries seems to get stored in there. I didn't think to take a "Before" photo, but, trust me, it wasn't pretty: appliances on the floor and stuff crammed on and around a little bookcase.

Recently, Bryan spent a Saturday morning building new shelves around our freezer. Those babies are so sturdy, the rest of the house could blow away, and they would still be standing!

These were the existing shelves that came with the house.

Here are the new shelves (choir singing "Alleluia!"). Someday we'll paint them, but I think they're lovely as they are!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Don't be so hard on yourself!

victorian mother and child Pictures, Images and Photos

Training children can often be an overwhelming task. It is by far the hardest thing I've ever attempted and a job that refines my character every day. I often feel that I'm failing in many areas. I know that God had prepared me for this calling and daily gives me the strength and grace to get through. Sometimes that's a little tough to remember when you're in the trenches.

If you're feeling overwhelmed, let's see the glass as half-full. Keep a list of what you do in a day to serve and train your children. Dieters often write down every bite to have a realistic view of how much they're eating. It is encouraging to keep a tally (even if only mental) of how deep and broad the task of mothering.

Guess what? I bet you stop counting by breakfast because you'll realize just how much you're doing to make a difference in those beloved ones' lives!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

WFMW - Character Study

A few years ago I realized that it did no good to encourage a particular character trait (like diligence or deference) if the children didn't understand what that word meant. Kathy from The Courtship Connection mentioned "Character Building for Families," and I looked into it.

Each 20 minute lesson (which requires no prep time!) involves scripture reading and memorization, as well as discussion about the trait being studied. We spend several days or weeks studying a particular trait. Now I can even ask a little one, "What does the Bible say about (insert trait here)?" and they can give me a scriptural answer.

Last year the children and I worked on the study during the day. This year we're enjoying Dad leading the studies with everyone before bedtime. We've even been able to use the scripture we've learned during Memorization Sundays at church.

Cut down on sugar!

Perhaps you've seen the ads for the "new" sugar substitute, Tuvia. The reality is the Stevia has been used as a sweetener for thousands of years. We've been enjoying the liquid form for a couple years as a way to reduce our intake of refined sugar. I've also had poor luck with the powder dissolving.

Since I (and my children) do notice the after-taste, we combine it with sugar or honey in our Kool-aid type beverages lemonade, and sweet tea. Many of the children also like the flavored liquid drops in their milk. For some, that's the only way they'll drink their cow-juice. I'll also use it 50/50 with sugar in some baked goods, like muffins.

It is expensive, but don't rule it out on that point. The bottles of flavored drops last over a year in the 'fridge, and the big bottle of plain lasts us about 6 months of almost daily use in gallon beverages.

The liquids are cheapest when purchased through a natural foods co-op, but can be found at places like Whole Foods. I'm currently buying though Amazon for some savings and convenience!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Photos of our Theatrical Experience

Last week, four of the children participated in the Missoula Children's Theatre production of the Amazing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe. They audition on Monday, rehearse Tuesday-Friday, and perform twice on Saturday.

All the children look forward to the experience every year and can't wait until they are old enough to try out. The week is crazy with rehearsals every night at varying times, but so worth it for the experience of performing.

Here's the whole cast:

Jacob as a Chameleon. He loved this so much, he lit up the stage!

Caleb was also a Chameleon with his best Pollard buddy.

Emelie as a Goat with another cute Pollard.

Teddy was challenged to be grumpy as a member of the "Frowny-Faced Tribe"

Super-cute audience member

Brigitta can't wait to audition next year!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - October 12, 2009

Whoo Hoo! We made it through Missoula Week. Photos of the performance will be posted tomorrow. We had a wonderful time with Jammers and family, and our house feels sort of empty now.

Much to everyone's delight (thinking positively here) were back to our regular schedule of school and jobs tomorrow. The house definitely needs to be whipped into shape after letting things slide for a week.

This week I'm getting our big grocery list together. There is an air of excitement because a new Super Wal-Mart will be opening this week. This will cut our drive time to a grocery store in half (15 minutes)!

This week, the Stumpfs will be enjoying:

Monday (Bryan night meeting) - Orange Chicken Supper

Tuesday (Homeschool group) - Franks n' Beans (crockpot), Cornbread

Wednesday (AWANA) - Smoke Sausage Sandwiches, Baked Potatoes

Thursday - Dried Beef Gravy, Toast, Eggs

Friday - Italian Sausage Sandwiches, Potato Wedges

Saturday (I'm scrapbooking!!) - Pizza

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Disney World Photos - Part 4

September 16 - Day 5 (Animal Kingdom)

We call this day our "Wardrobe Malfunction Day." Those of you that have been following along probably noticed that the whole family wears the same color t-shirt each day. This not only simplifies packing, but is essential for keeping track of everyone in the busy parks. We definitely draw more attention to ourselves when dressed alike, and it also invites some questions and conversations with people. We pray that these interactions are glorifying to God. Since Bryan had been given several t-shirts from his Extreme Makeover experience, we decided to make those one of our outfits.

We were totally unprepared for attention that it gave us. Well over 100 people ran up to us throughout the day asking if we were having a home built. Even people who could barely speak English congratulated us on our new home. We would explain that we were involved in the construction of a home and that ABC had not paid for our trip to Disney World. At first it was funny, but as the day wore on, it became distracting. Often I would be talking to one family, while Bryan would be talking to someone else. Emelie and Teddy were also questioned.
We laughed about it later, thinking that for every person that came up to us, there were probably 10 that were assuming the same thing. Now they'll be watching for us on TV!

Water was always a hit where ever we found it!

The children titled this photo "Daddy"

Teddy getting weak from hunger waiting for lunch, and Emelie, as always, behind the camera.

When we got to the Petting Zoo, Heidi just grabbed a brush and got to work!

On Safari

How Hunter experienced most of the trip