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


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!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Better than a boot to the head

Why do I always hear the cry from the mudroom, "There aren't any boots in my size!" Let me assure you, unless your foot is the size of Shaquille O'Neil's, we have a pair of boots in your size!

Since we have an "if it fits, it's yours" attitude toward the boot mess, the issue lies in the ability to locate and recognize the size in the plethora of boots that we have been blessed with.

With a nod to the organizational system of roller rinks, I used a paint pen to identify the sizes on the backs of our boots. Know your size? Find your boots!

Here's the shelf I recently dragged up from the basement. When we first moved in here, we used a half-bookcase to hold our boots. Then we moved to a plastic, 5-shelf bookcase. Now we have this big mama-jama!

Here are the sizes on the boots. Now if only the boots would put themselves back on the shelf!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

He's been listening!

The other day I was cleaning up the kitchen after dinner when Caleb (8) walked in. "Mom, which was more tragic: the bombing of Pearl Harbor or Black Tuesday when the Stock Market crashed?"

My mind was spinning back and forth between "He's really been listening during our history lessons!" and "How do I answer this question?!"

I love that we are all learning together! History is a living, breathing part of our everyday life. While I stumbled around to give him an acceptable answer to his question, the most coolest thing is that he asked it!

Monday, December 28, 2009

LEGO madness

A week before Christmas a friend casually mentioned that she had purchased at a garage sale a Rubbermaid tote full of LEGOs to give to her 7-year-old son for Christmas. She knew that there were instructions for several kits included, but had no idea where to begin in putting them together.

I volunteered my 12-year-old LEGO master to help her out. She couldn't believe that he would be willing to spend time in doing this. Ted assured her that he would be happy to help out in this way. Two days later, she dropped off the tub.

Some were not allowed to help, only watch.

Some were even caged!

Over the next three days, the entire family (even Bryan and Grandma Nan) got into the act. Digging for needed pieces became as addicting as working a jigsaw puzzle. Emelie had never put together a kit in her life, but thoroughly enjoyed assembling the many Harry Potter sets. (Since my children have never read the Harry Potter series, they made up their own story about Harry being an international gem smuggler!)

The children worked together so beautifully, and God truly blessed the work of their hands. They were occupied in those exciting days before Christmas so time passed quicker for them. The only downside: from now on building an ordinary kit with all the pieces separated and available will have no challenge!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - December 27, 2009

I hope that your Christmas weekend was a joyous celebration of the birth of Christ! Our family had a wonderful time with all our beloved traditions, much laughter, and a feast to end all feasts! Bryan and I were thinking of fasting until New Year's!

I need to go through the hundreds of pictures taken to come up with a "highlight reel" for the weekend. Hopefully within the next couple days.

We're looking forward to Bryan being home this week and more fellowship with friends at our New Year's Eve gathering. Jamers, have you ever blogged about the Blue Ribbon-winning Miller Mix? We can't wait to have some!

Notice in this menu, some of the "planned-over" meats I've cooked recently. For the last week of this year, as well as the last week of this decade, we will be having:
Monday - BBQ Beef Sandwiches (from the roast I cooked a couple weeks ago), Potato Salad, Fruit Cocktail

Tuesday (4-H Horse Judging) - Chicken & Dumplings (from the roasted chickens of a few weeks ago), Salad

Wednesday - Baked Bean Chili (from baked beans made two months ago), Cornbread

Thursday (New Year's Eve) - Sandwich Rolls for our party

Friday - Ham & Potatoes (from Christmas Ham), Broccoli, Sweet Muffins

Saturday - Spicy Lemon Chicken, Egg Noodles

Find more menus at orgjunkie.com. Our menus for the year can be found at our website. Breakfast menu is here; Lunch is here. What's on your menu this week?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Vacation

Even though Cousin Eddy isn't coming to stay, I'm going to lay low this week and enjoy our family's Advent time. I'll be back next week with a couple new organization tips and more Christmas photos than you signed up to see!

May God be with you during this blessed time of year!

Merry Christmas!

Menu Plan Monday - December 21, 2009

We've enjoyed a fantastic weekend of friends and fellowship with a bit of Christmas shopping thrown in the middle. Between Bible Study Friday evening and the "Welcome Home for the Holidays" dinner for Lisa and Jason, we've served dinner to almost 60 people this weekend. This is my favorite way to spend the holidays!

A few years ago, we started the tradition of the children drawing each other's name and picking out a gift at the Dollar Store. They absolutely love it! We're hoping this starts the name-drawing early so they never have to buy gifts for 20+ nieces and nephews:-) They love giving each other gifts, and this is a very inexpensive way for the little ones to give something.

Except for shopping for Christmas dinner, I'm all done with going out! Phew! And almost everything is wrapped. Bryan and I have gotten so quick with wrapping, I'm thinking this could be a second career - if we had more time!

As we prepare for the biggest birthday party of the year, we will be enjoying:

Monday - Hot Roast Beef Sandwiches, Mashed Potatoes, Corn

Tuesday (Bryan Night Meeting, 4-H Horse Judging) - Chicken Barley Soup, Veggies and Dip

Wednesday - Broccoli Summer Sausage

Thursday - Cheeseburger Soup in Bread Bowls (annual tradition)

Friday - Christmas Dinner starring Ham!

Saturday - Christmas Leftovers!!

Find more menus at orgjunkie.com. Our menus for the year can be found at our website. Breakfast menu is here; Lunch is here. What's on your menu this week?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

No Time to Post

No, not because of the holiday rush. This afternoon we decided to tackle our New Year's Day project early by painting our mud bathroom Magellan blue. A vast improvement over its previous color - muddy hand-prints. Never mind that tomorrow afternoon we're having about 20 people over and this is one of the high-traffic bathrooms....

And then, because the mud bathroom is attached to the mud room (shocking!), I realized that there was a shelving unit in the basement that just wasn't pulling its weight. It would be perfect for our boots. So while Bryan was painting the "up high parts," I was hauling shelves and organizing. Starting to sound like If You Give a Mouse a Cookie?

I love this stuff! Proud photos to come! Happy weekend!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Potluck Pleasers

Tonight for Bible Study I made a couple family favorites to serve to our "Not-so-Small-Group." They were well received and can easily be doubled, tripled, or in our case, quadrupled to feed a crowd. Great to fall back on with all the holiday gatherings!

Sweet & Sour Sausage
1 can Pineapple Chunks, reserve juice
1/4 C Brown Sugar
2 Tbl. Cornstarch
1/4 C Water
1/4 C Cider Vinegar
2 tea. Soy Sauce
8 Smoked Sausages, Bias Cut
optional: 1 can Water Chestnuts; 1 Green Bell Pepper, chopped

Combine brown sugar and cornstarch in a skillet. Blend in pineapple juice, water, vinegar, and soy sauce. Cook & stir until thickened. Stir in sausage, pineapple, water chestnuts, and bell pepper. Heat through. Serve over rice or egg noodles.

Chili-Day Meatballs
12-ounce jar Chili Sauce (or 1.5 C Homemade - recipe to follow)
11-ounce jar of Grape Jelly
2 Tbl. Lemon Juice
1 cube Beef Bouillon dissolved in 1/2 C hot water
1 package of frozen meatballs

Whisk together chili sauce, grape jelly, lemon juice, and bouillon/ Simmer on low until sauce starts to thicken. Add meatballs and cook until heated through. Serve over rice or egg noodles. This also works wonderfully in the crockpot!

Homemade Chili Sauce (a life-saver if you forget to pick some up at the store!)

32 oz Tomato Sauce
1 tea. Onion Powder
1/2 C Brown Sugar
2 tea. Salt
1/2 tea. Pepper
1/2 tea. Cinnamon
1/2 tea. Allspice
1/2 tea. Cloves

Mix together and simmer for 20 minutes. Any extra can be frozen!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

WFMW - Love this lotion!

The Body Shop Hemp Hand Protector is absolutely the best lotion for fighting the winter-dry hands and feet that comes with our Indiana winters. My feet get so nasty that the little children will point to the white dryness and ask, "What's that?"

Unfortunately I have a real thing about my feet. I don't even like to lotion them, and the thought of a pedicure or using one of those pumice stones makes me nauseous. True confession time - Bryan bought me one of those foot massage things for Mother's Day (following some BAD advice of a coworker who obviously doesn't have feet issues). I used it once, grimacing the whole time. Want it? It's collecting dust in my basement. Come and get it!

Before bed I smear this wonderful Body Shop lotion on my feet and then put on socks. (And as Kristen told us last week, we sleep better with socks on - I'm a believer now!) My feet aren't yucky anymore! Socks don't catch as I'm pulling them on.

This lotion isn't cheap, but it works so much better than anything I've picked up at Wal-Mart. It also smells a little strange, but not in an overpowering way. Bryan says it will make him fail random drug testing, but with the economy, who's paying for that anyway?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

As Seen on TV

Our relationship with the ShamWow began as a joke Bryan posted on Facebook. On Mother's Day he posted that he was getting me a ShamWow as a present. I told him he couldn't put it out there to the world without delivering!

He was unsuccessful in finding them at Lowes, but the associate there pointed him toward Walgreens. At Walgreens, the young, enthusiastic employee showed him where they were while informing him that there was even a ShamWow fan page on Facebook.

The bottom line is that we love these things! They are great to have at the table for spills (which happen at every meal around here). I love them under my drying dishes because they don't get soppy wet like a towel. And those potty-training accidents on the carpet... dried up in a flash! Then they can be tossed in the washer.

I've seen them lately at the check-out lane at Wal-Mart. Give 'em a try. If you're not familiar with the ShamWow, here's the commercial:

Monday, December 14, 2009

Stumpf-Sized Pies

Here's another "think outside the pan idea" along the lines of how we make muffins. There are a couple pies we make every holiday season that are huge hits around here, namely pecan and coconut cream. Since one pie would be decimated in a blink, we've started making our pies in 9 X 13 baking pans. Here's why:
  • Square pieces are easier to serve,
  • Folks that like crust can get an edge, other get an inside piece.
  • The crust doesn't get too brown.
  • The crust doesn't have to be as pretty.
  • Double the filling fits into about 1.5 single crusts.
  • The crust can be patted into place rather than rolled out on another board that you then have to clean up.
  • More pie for later!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - December 14, 2009

Can you believe that it's only 10 days until Christmas Eve? I'm looking forward to Christmas break to get the house tidied and some projects done. But this week is still full of real life.

Tomorrow I'll make about 20 lbs of beef roast. We'll have it for dinner and the rest will be used in menus throughout the next month. Part of my plan to free up some more time.

This week we'll be enjoying:
Monday (Bryan Night Meeting) - Roast & Veggies, Buttermilk Muffins

Tuesday (Homeschool Group) - Mexican Chicken, Spanish Rice/Steamed Rice

Wednesday (Bryan Night Meeting, AWANA) - Chicken Patty Sandwiches, Popcorn

Thursday - Apple Kielbasa Coins, Crepe Cups, Peaches

Friday - Bible Study

Saturday - Black Bean Quesadillas

Find more menus at orgjunkie.com. Our menus for the year can be found at our website. Breakfast menu is here; Lunch is here. What's on your menu this week?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Hunter the Headbanger

This video has a slightly different feel than the Heidi version. I filmed this boy (obviously in need of a nap) in the midst of a little fit because I've been told that his father used to demonstrate these same charming behaviors. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree!

He's still cute, even when he's mad!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

WFMW - Our Favorite Calendar

Last year I discovered the Sandra Boyton Mom's Family Calendar. My children have all grown up with her books and love seeing their old "friends" on the wall. And I'm not alone. It has a 5/5 star rating!

Why we love it:
"Running 17 months, from August 2009 through December 2010,
MOM'S has an oversize, vertical grid with five columns across the top (one for each family member) and the days of the month running down the left side. There's plenty of space for everyone's activities, and Mom and Dad can see who's doing what with just a glance,. Includes a drop-down storage pocket, 500 stickers, and write-on, wipe-off magnetic phone list for the fridge."

Since there are 10 in our family, we each share a column (and all but a couple days a year that works just fine!). I write on it with an extra-fine point Sharpie, putting the child's color-coded initial in front of the activity (look out, I'm color-coding again).

Don't have 5 in your family? Use the extra column(s) to record other events like extended family members' birthdays!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Holding Loves for Ransom

Have you ever extracted a promise from your child to clean-up an activity only to come back in the room later to a huge mess with the mess-maker no where to be found? This makes my blood boil, so I'm always looking for ways to avoid this situation since a mama with boilin' blood does not a Peaceful Home make.

All of my children have their special "loves." A blanket, a Barney, a chicken, a dog. Those items that no bedtime can be without. Now when one of my little darlings want to play with a special toy with many pieces, work a puzzle, or do a messy craft, they have to offer their "love" in exchange.

I'll put the sacrificial blanket up high in the pantry to be returned when the activity is cleaned up. It's so cute to see Brigitta walk up, holding out her blanket and say, "May I please play Disney Castle?" Things are more often cleaned up with out reminders.

True confession time: One night at bedtime, we couldn't find Brigitta's blanket. Yup, you guessed it. A couple hours later, Emelie walked in the pantry and came out asking, "Why is Bitta's pinkie up on the shelf?" Whoops!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Fun and Different Christmas Cookies

I made up a batch of these cookies for a Ladies' Tea this past weekend. They looked so festive! I can see the possibilities for making them work for many different holidays by changing the Jell-O color. I took them scrapbooking where Stacia and Kate asked for the recipe, so here you are, ladies:

JELL-O® Pastel Cookies

3-1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. CALUMET Baking Powder
1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
2 pkg. (4-serving size each) JELL-O Gelatin, any flavor, divided
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla

PREHEAT oven to 400°F. Mix flour and baking powder; set aside. Beat butter in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until creamy. Gradually add sugar and 1 pkg. of the dry gelatin, beating until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; mix well. Gradually add flour mixture, beating until well blended after each addition.

SHAPE dough into 1-inch balls. Place, 2 inches apart, on ungreased baking sheets. Flatten with bottom of clean glass. Sprinkle with remaining dry gelatin.

BAKE 8 to 10 min. or until edges are lightly browned. Remove from baking sheets to wire racks. Cool completely. Store in tightly covered container at room temperature.

Stumpfs Notes: I divided my dough in half before adding the Jell-O. I added strawberry to one half, lime to the other. I mixed these up in the food processor and they were quick & easy!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - December 7, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Bryan and the children went to Dull's Tree Farm today to cut down our tree. We'll decorate it on Monday night. It was too cold out for the little ones, so I took one for the team and stayed home to nap. Tough job, tough job.

The next couple weeks, as things seem busier than usual, I'm striving to keep things simple here at home. Dinners that cook themselves, paper plates if necessary, a few minutes each evening cutting clutter and tidying up to keep the house in OK shape.

Tomorrow I'll roast a couple chickens. Most of one will be eaten for dinner. The other will be used in menus throughout the next month (like this week's chicken fajitas). Part of my plan to free up some more time.

This week we'll be enjoying:

Monday - Roasted Chicken, Buttered Rice, Salad, Rolls

Tuesday (Homeschool Group, Horse Judging) - Franks & Beans (crockpot), Cornbread

Wednesday (AWANA) - Frozen Pizza, Mac 'n Cheese

Thursday - Chicken Fajitas, Chips & Salsa, Corn

Friday - Bible Study

Saturday - Sandwich Rolls

Find more menus at orgjunkie.com. Our menus for the year can be found at our website. Breakfast menu is here; Lunch is here. What's on your menu this week?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Please Pray

This came in an email tonight from our Pastor. Please send a prayer for comfort to those left behind.

From the Aquila Report:

Sudden and Powerful Storm Takes Lives of Two Bristol, Virginia Women, Members of St. Peter Presbyterian Church

Written by Don Clements
Friday, 04 December 2009 14:17

Two women, both members of St. Peter Presbyterian Church in Mendota, Va., were killed in an auto accident caused by a powerful storm this past Wednesday night, December 2.

The accident happened when a massive tree fell and crashed on a rural highway in southwest Virginia near the town of Mendota, located about a half-hour’s drive north of Bristol, Va. Stories like this happen many times a day throughout the U.S., but seldom do they have such a deep impact on one church.

The two women were driving in a Ford F-350 multi-passenger van along State Route 622. The Highway Patrol report indicates that 39-year-old Theresa Bullen and 44-year-old Deaun Brockmyre died instantly in the freak accident where a huge and sudden downdraft totally uprooted a large tree which came down directly on the van. Bullen was driving northbound when the tree, at least 70 feet tall and two feet in diameter, fell directly across the front of their van. Brockmyre was in the passenger seat. No one else was in the vehicle, and no other vehicles were involved. The ladies were returning home to Mendota from a shopping trip.

Mrs. Bullen leaves behind a husband and nine children; Mrs. Brockmyre a husband and eight children. Both ladies were members of St. Peter Presbyterian Church, a Confederation of Reformed and Evangelical Churches (CREC) congregation in Mendota, one of a couple of related churches in the area. The Reverend R. C. Sproul, Jr., Director of the nearby HighlandStudyCenter, serves as one of the pastors of the churches.

On Thursday, pastors and members of the church were already coming together to help both families cope with their loss. “We are committed to helping these families in any possible way we can and I know both of these families have been a part of our church for a long time and they are confident that they can count on us,“ said Pastor Sproul.

Obituary notices for Mrs. Brockmyre is below, but details for Mrs. Bullen, who will be buried next Tuesday, are still pending. More details will be posted as they are received - now expected by Sunday moring. (Please note that the Eric Dye shown as a brother to Mrs. Brockmyre is NOT the PCA minister by the same name.)

Deaun Ruth Dye Brockmyre: We mourn the loss of our treasured daughter, wife, mother and friend but give thanks in the assurance that our beloved, Deaun is rejoicing with her Lord and Savior. Deaun Ruth Dye Brockmyre, age 44, went to Heaven on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2009, following an automobile accident. Deaun was loved by many for her sweet gentle spirit and generous heart. She was born in Richmond, Va., and had worked as a nurse and case manager at BristolRegionalMedicalCenter before devoting her time to raising and home schooling her children. She was a member of St. Peter Presbyterian Church and a shining example of faith and devotion. She is survived by her husband, Dr. Andrew Brockmyre, MD; five daughters, Heather Bailey and husband Ryan of Lexington, Va., Isabel, Bliss, Maeve and Ellianna Brockmyre; three sons, Calvin, Christopher and Benjamin Brockmyre; her parents, Dr. Daniel and Phyllis Compton Dye of Bristol Tennessee; one brother, Eric Daniel Dye and wife Mandy Mink Dye of Knoxville, Tenn.; and several nieces and nephews. The funeral service will be conducted at 2 p.m.Sunday, Dec. 6, 2009, at FirstBaptistChurch, BristolVirginia, with R.C. Sproul Jr., Laurence Windham, Wayne Hays and Mark Dewey officiating. The committal service and interment will be at 4 p.m. Sunday in RussellMemorialCemetery in Lebanon, Va. The family will receive friends from 6 8 p.m. Saturday at Akard Funeral Home. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Samaritan's Purse, P.O. Box 3000, Boone, NC 28607. E-mail condolences may be sent to the family at akardfh@akardfuneralhome.com

Akard Funeral Home, 1912 W. State St., Bristol, TN (423) 989-4800, is serving the family of Mrs. Brockmyre.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Organizing School Supplies - Part 1

We don't have a school room, per se. When we lived in our tiny home, I dreamed of a room lined with books, filled with art supplies, a comfy couch or two...You get the idea.

When we designed this home, I had the opportunity to put in a school room, but by that point our school style had changed to the point that I no longer wanted one. I wanted to be able to keep the momentum going even while I cooked or did laundry. However, since homeschooling still comes with lots of "stuff," we needed a way to keep everything tidy.

We keep many of our supplies in the "nook" off the kitchen. We have cupboard and file cabinets that we bought for $40 when Bryan's company moved. The table is used more for crafting than school, since school really takes place all over the rest of the house - primarily in the living room and dining room.

Since the children don't have desks, we keep all their books in Wal-mart available bins. Some of these bins (the blue ones) are going on 9 years old! The bins make it easy for the children to take their schoolwork wherever they want to work (a portable desk!), as well as making it easy for me to grade or find their work from the previous week. We used these when we lived in our small house (stacked up only taking up 1.5 sq. feet on the floor), when we lived in our "temporary house" when everything was in storage (decorating the living room), and even now (on the shelves) when we have more room. Simple, easy, effective.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Preparing for the Christmas Season

The following posts have blessed me greatly, so my tip for today is to go read them. (This is not a cop-out, just being efficient with my holiday time!)

Kendra at Preschoolers and Peace gives some wonderful ideas on how to have "An Incredible, yet frugal, Christmas Celebration." Be sure to read the comments for even more wonderful ideas!

Are you struggling with how, as a Christian, you should celebrate Christmas? Kendra also posted about "Honoring Christ and Celebrating Christmas." It was just what I needed to get me into the spirit. (Thanks, Sharon, for sending me there!)