Spaghetti, Crock Pots, and Desperation – Oh My!


When David and I were first married, I had very little experience with cooking. I mean very, very little. When I still lived at home with my parents, I cooked some but definitely not very much. After we were married, my go-to recipe was spaghetti because it was easy and we both liked it. Tired and needed an easy meal? Spaghetti. Company coming over? Spaghetti. A romantic meal for two? Yeah. Spaghetti again. :) I did expand my menu repertoire over the years (thankfully!) and as you might imagine, we really don’t eat spaghetti that often anymore. David has been a very willing guinea pig too, which I really appreciate. I have had a few flops but most things have actually turned out pretty to be pretty good.

If you need some help in planning meals for your family either due to lack of experience or feel like you just don’t have time, here are some things that have helped me quite a bit over the years.

1. Don’t make it difficult.
Your meals don’t have to be fancy and elaborate to be good and healthy. There is a time and a place for that but if you are tired after a long day of work or homeschooling or you’re just starting out, go with an easy recipe. Even now, nearly 17 years after our wedding day, a lot of my recipes don’t have much more than five ingredients or so. And you know what? I have gotten more compliments on those recipes than on more elaborate ones!

Here’s an easy, easy recipe for you:
Roasted Chicken and Vegetables
(I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. I don’t often measure anything in my recipes so the following is kind of an estimate. You can vary it depending on the amount of people you are serving.)

1 pound of carrots, cut up (Use baby carrots to make it super easy, and you don’t even have to cut them up!)
3 pounds (or so) of potatoes, cubed
3-5 pounds of raw chicken breasts, cut up
1-2 packets of ranch dressing mix OR 2-4 tablespoons of homemade ranch dressing mix
1 stick of butter, cut up

Toss everything together and put it in your Crock Pot on low for 6-8 hours.

2. Use your Crock Pot
Several years ago when I first started working from home, my older two kids were pretty young and I was working from 2p.m. until about 8 p.m. every weeknight. I used my Crock Pot ALL the time! It was a lifesaver for me. Now, you do have to do some planning, but dinner cooks all day long and when the busyness of the evening comes around, it’s ready! Some meals are so easy that you don’t even have to defrost the meat. I will be posting some of those recipes soon.

3. Enlist some help!
My older two children (who are now 13 and 14) are a huge help to me in the kitchen. This obviously didn’t happen overnight and took some training, but it definitely pays off. They can do some pretty basic things even when they’re young, and you get to spend some quality time with them too. And now that they’re older, they can take over a lot of the meal preparation at this point, and this has saved my sanity on more than one occasion.

4. Find a few meals you and your family like and stick with them.
I have a friend who kind of just rotates through about five or six meals that she makes for her family. She doesn’t have a whole lot of experience and cooking isn’t really her thing so this works really well for her. It’s easy and economical. Her kids don’t complain and they love those meals. I have seen them chow down! This sounds like a great option. Maybe after awhile your family will get tired of those same meals, so then you can change it up and come up with another five or six meals that they really like. I think planning meals this way is an excellent, easy, and frugal idea. And I’m all about being frugal!

I hope that these tips have been helpful. If anyone has other suggestions, I would love to hear them! If you have some inexpensive and easy recipes to share, please do so! The more, the better! :)

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Pico De Gallo

There are some things that taste like summer to me. Watermelon, lemonade, hamburgers on the grill. And pico de gallo! We love to make this recipe in the summer. It’s easy, healthy, and uses up the abundance of garden tomatoes you hopefully have! 

tomato-721603_1920It is getting to be tomato season. Are you swimming in tomatoes yet? My plants aren’t doing as well as last year, but I hope to at least get enough to make a batch or two of our favorite salsa: pico de gallo, also known as fresh tomato salsa. Now, I will warn you that with so many of my recipes, I rarely measure anything. This recipe is no exception. So much of it is a matter of personal preference. Maybe you don’t like cilantro at all so you can leave that out. Maybe you prefer a milder batch? Go ahead and leave out the jalapeno. It’s kind of trial and error really. Here is the recipe.

Pico de Gallo
Fresh tomatoes, maybe 3 or 4
1/2 to 1 red onion (I’ve used yellow and white before too.)
1/2 to 1 jalapeno, seeded (or omit this altogether)
a bunch of cilantro (This is where your personal preference will come in. Start with a smaller amount and add more if you think it needs it.)
2 teaspoons more or less of fresh minced garlic (I have also used garlic powder to taste.)
salt to taste

Now just chop everything up and mix it together. Add more seasoning if needed. Enjoy with tortilla chips!

Posted in Recipes | 2 Comments

Goal Update and New Weekly Goals


Time to sit down and give a recap of my goals from last week. I had a fairly productive week, though didn’t get everything done, particularly in our home repair category. So I’ll just tack that on to this week’s list. I really would like to at least get some of that stuff done!

Weed, baby, weed (the vegetable garden specifically).
Harvest some kale. (I didn’t get that done but harvested some tomatoes, squash, and jalapenos!)
Water consistently. (The Lord took care of that one for me! We had some rain this past week so I didn’t need to water.)
Weed back flower bed. (Isaiah did this one.)
Weed front flower bed. (He did this one too! :) )

Home Improvement Projects: Well, sadly, I didn’t accomplish anything in this category. Time to move the list to this week’s goals!
Buy peel and stick vinyl for this project. I am so excited to try this! It might actually be something I can do.
Scrape the porch of old stain
Prep the porch to apply new stain
Hopefully apply the stain and be done with this project!

Devotions before noon each day
Set aside some time to read. (Didn’t get that one done. Does Pinterest count? ;) )
Work out every day. (I did this everyday but Thursday.)
Write out my to-do list for the next day the night before. (It really seems to work best for me to do this in the morning so that’s what I will stick with.)

Prep dinner in the morning using the crockpot or plan an easy meal.
Bake some bread to freeze (I baked some bread, just didn’t freeze it!)
Follow the Motivated Moms chore planner at least 80% of the time.
Have the house straightened up before David gets home from work.
Declutter! (I am always on a mission to get rid of stuff. That is not always a good thing though. Just ask David. :) )

With the older kids, help them with math.
Keep all kids on task with their chores.
Make sure the older kids memorize their catechism.
For the younger kids, help Sam with his reading lesson. (We are slowly making our way through his reading lesson book.)
Help them memorize catechism questions.

And now goals for this week!

Weed veggie garden (this will be ongoing).
Harvest veggies (including kale!).

Blog everyday!
Post a recipe or two.
Take some business-related classes on (they’re free!).
Read posts about blogging ( has some great information).

Home Improvement Projects
See last week’s list. It is exactly the same!

Continue having devotions before noon each day.
Set aside some time to read everyday.
Work out everyday.
Write my to-do list every morning.

Prep dinner in the morning or around lunch time (or at least have a plan in place to make dinnertime run smoothly).
Follow the Motivated Moms chore planner 80% of the time.
Continue my decluttering mission!
Have the house straightened up before David gets home everyday.

Help the older kids with math.
Go over catechism questions with younger kids.
Help older kids stay on task with memorizing catechism questions.
Continue reading lessons with Sam.

I hope everyone has a productive week!

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Gardening Update


Note: The following post may contain one or more affiliate links. By purchasing through these links, I receive a small compensation that supports this site. Thank you so much!

I love this time of year! There is so much fresh produce available. The garden is doing well for the most part. I have a TON of kale and basil. Plus my zucchini and summer squash plants are doing great. My tomato plants aren’t looking so hot though. They do have some tomatoes on them, but not as many as I think they should. The plants themselves aren’t getting very big and the leaves are turning yellow toward the bottom. I’m not sure what’s going on there. Hopefully I will get enough to make pico de gallo. We made a ton of that last year. It was so good!

My bell pepper and jalapeno pepper plants are producing nicely too. However, I have so much stuff crammed in my garden that some of these plants aren’t getting enough sun. I think when my squash plants are done producing, they will get more sun and produce better. Lesson learned!

In the spring when everything was still small or hadn’t grown at all yet, I saw all the empty space and wanted to fill it up with as many veggies as I could. Now it is like a jungle out there! My space between rows especially by the squash plants is pretty much nonexistent. It’s exciting to see how much stuff I can grow though. And my garden plot isn’t huge by any stretch of the imagination.


Some dear friends recently gave me a book called The Backyard Homestead. The author shows you how to grow so much food, even if you don’t live on much space! It gives you the basics on how to grow pretty much anything, even information for raising chickens (something I would love to do one day!) and other livestock. I have been slowly making my way through the book. It has lots of information in there.

If you have a garden, how is it growing this year? Any issues with bugs, weather, or bad soil? I have often remarked that I am so thankful we don’t have to rely solely on our gardens for food. I think we’d go hungry! :)

Posted in Gardening | 4 Comments

Do the Next Thing

This post was originally published in August of 2008, but it is still definitely true today. I thought it pretty much sums up how I feel most days, and I hope it is an encouragement to you as well!

I am busy. Busier now than I’ve probably ever been in my life. Staying busy is good. But there comes a point when I feel like I just can’t do it anymore. The other day, however, I came across a poem that was posted on a woman’s blog whose husband died of cancer just three months ago. He was not that much older than me and not only left behind his wife but three young children. The poem that she posted was written by a woman named Elisabeth Elliott whose husband was a missionary. She was eventually widowed twice. After the death of her first husband, she wrote a poem called, “Do the Next Thing.” I know my trials are relatively small compared to hers, but I found her thoughts helpful for my situation, too. When I get overwhelmed in the mornings, thinking about all that I have to get done for the day: do the next thing. When the laundry is piling up, the fridge is bare, and I have four hours of work ahead of me: do the next thing. When I get worried about tomorrow, wondering in my unbelief if God will provide for us: do the next thing. When my children are fighting, our car breaks down, and the amount in the bank doesn’t look like it can possibly carry us through the month: do the next thing. God gives his people grace as they need it. He will keep me going, putting one foot in front of the other, doing the next thing whatever that may be. All of my worry, fear, unbelief, even my tears won’t make the busyness go away. “Do the next thing.” As Christ himself said, “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” I will leave you with Elisabeth Elliott’s words to think about.

“Do the Next Thing”

At an old English parsonage down by the sea,
there came in the twilight a message to me.
Its quaint Saxon legend deeply engraven
that, as it seems to me, teaching from heaven.
And all through the hours the quiet words ring,
like a low inspiration, ‘Do the next thing.’

Many a questioning, many a fear,
many a doubt hath its quieting here.
Moment by moment, let down from heaven,
time, opportunity, guidance are given.
Fear not tomorrow, child of the King,
trust that with Jesus, do the next thing.

Do it immediately, do it with prayer,
do it reliantly, casting all care.
Do it with reverence, tracing His hand,
who placed it before thee with earnest command.
Stayed on omnipotence, safe ‘neath His wing,
leave all resultings, do the next thing.

Looking to Jesus, ever serener,
working or suffering be thy demeanor,
in His dear presence, the rest of His calm,
the light of His countenance, be thy psalm.
Strong in his faithfulness,
Praise and sing,
Then, as he beckons thee,
Do the next thing.

*Apparently, this poem was not written by Elisabeth Elliott but was quoted by her (maybe in a book?) at some point. Regardless, it’s good!

Posted in Christianity, Homeschooling, Motherhood | Leave a comment

Homemade Frozen Yogurt Popsicles


When the heat index is over 100 degrees, something cold and sweet (and preferably homemade!) is in order. Yesterday, it felt as hot as 124 according to Weather Underground. Gotta love Kansas. Unless you don’t. :)

Today, since the temp “only” felt like 102, I did some weeding in my garden. My poor onions were being taken over! I still have a ways to go though. That’s what happens when you are lazy about weeding busy with life. My zucchini and squash plants are doing very well and I was able to harvest one zucchini and two squash. Woot!

The kids really like homemade frozen yogurt popsicles and they are very easy to make! I don’t have exact measurements for these but I will do my best. If you like them sweeter, add more jelly/jam/preserves.

Frozen Yogurt Popsicles

2 cups regular or Greek yogurt
1/2 cup (or to taste) of your favorite jam/jelly/preserves (I used strawberry – yum!)

Mix everything together and put the mixture into popsicle molds. Freeze until solid. Voila! Done!

I hope you enjoy these as much as we do. They sure taste good on a hot summer day.

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In Which the Author Discusses Curriculum in the Summertime Because She’s a Glutton for Punishment


Note: The following post may contain one or more affiliate links. By purchasing through these links, I receive a small compensation that supports this site. Thank you so much!

If you are anything like me, you really don’t even want to think about school until at least the end of the month (but truthfully if you are a homeschool mom, it’s probably on your mind all year long, amiright?) I was talking to a fellow homeschooling mom the other day and we both agreed that the summer goes by much, much faster as an adult than as a kid. Seriously, how is it possible that school will be starting in a little over a month?! I will have two 9th graders and one in kindergarten. This will be the first time I have ever homeschooled two grades before. But at least kindergarten will be easy so it shouldn’t be too bad, right? Right…

Last year for 8th grade, we used a site called Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool (not an affiliate link). It is a completely FREE curriculum and she has courses on there from pre-K through 12th grade. Did I mention it’s free? Because yeah, it’s free! Lee Giles, the woman who designed the whole thing, has no intention of ever charging for this curriculum either (though if you do use it a bit, you might consider a donation – she has a link where you can do that). We used her Year 4 History course plus Spanish 1 and English 8 on her sister site, Easy Peasy All-in-One High School (not an affiliate link). Both kids really loved the Spanish course. We could occasionally find a broken link, and she asks that people let her know if that happens.  Overall, it was much more in depth than I thought it would be so be prepared for your kiddos to be quite busy. My kids both enthusiastically want to take the Spanish 2 course for 9th grade. But free homeschool curriculum? Yes please!

Another site we made much use of was And let me just tell you guys, THEY ROCK. For $12.95 per month, you can have access to over 200 courses ranging from pre-K through 12th grade. My two older children particularly liked the Career Exploration course! Their customer service is excellent as well. All my questions have been answered very promptly.

So what will we do next year? That’s a great question, one that I have been thinking about probably since the beginning of the year (or earlier – I have a tendency to obsess over these things). We’re going to use Easy Peasy again and take Foundations, Bible, PE/Health, and Spanish 2. The Foundations class incorporates things like time management, study skills, speech, etc. It looks really interesting.

For English, we’re going to use Schoolhouse Teachers again and take the Writing and Classics Based Writing courses plus Daily Grammar. For the literature component, Glencoe has some free (hollah!) study guides you can use so we’re probably going to go through 4 novels.

Science will be Studies in World History through Master Books. This looks like a really excellent course and I would ideally like to get through volumes 1 and 2. We’ll see how that goes.

Oh, and I’m going to be teaching home ec with my kids and with some friends! That will be a separate post coming up so stay tuned for more info. I’m pumped about it!

So what will you be doing next year? Do you have it all mapped out or do you wait until a little closer to when school actually starts? I’d love to hear if any of you have tried the curriculums in this post. We can share and obsess together! :)

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Goals for the Week!

Well, well, well, I guess I will just dig right in! I have many things I want to accomplish this week so I have a feeling that some of these will carry over into next week, but that’s okay! We just have to do what we can, right? Here are some things I hope to accomplish this week in no particular order.

Weed, baby, weed (the vegetable garden specifically).
Harvest some kale. (That stuff is going nuts! I hope to post some pics of my garden soon. I’m so excited about how well it’s doing this year.)
Water consistently.
Weed back flower bed.
Weed front flower bed.

Home Improvement Projects: (This category is daunting because there’s so much to do and I don’t have the skilz.)
Buy peel and stick vinyl for this project. I am so excited to try this! It might actually be something I can do.
Scrape the porch of old stain
Prep the porch to apply new stain
Hopefully apply the stain and be done with this project!

Devotions before noon each day
Set aside some time to read. (I have a bunch of books that I want to go through including The Backyard Homestead.)
Work out every day. (You guys should check out Bodyfit by Amy on YouTube. She’s amazing!)
Write out my to-do list for the next day the night before.

Prep dinner in the morning using the crockpot or plan an easy meal.
Bake some bread to freeze using this recipe. So good!
Follow the Motivated Moms chore planner at least 80% of the time.
Have the house straightened up before David gets home from work.
Declutter! (I am always on a mission to get rid of stuff. That is not always a good thing though. Just ask David. :) )

With the older kids, help them with math. (sheesh, are we ever going to finish this?!)
Keep all kids on task with their chores. (for a list of age-appropriate chores, check out this chart!)
Make sure the older kids memorize their catechism.
For the younger kids, help Sam with his reading lesson.
Help them memorize catechism questions.

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If I Had a Million Dollars…

I would fix our kitchen floor and buy a car. How about you? :)

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Bodybugg System – A Review

This is probably a premature post since I have only worn my bodybugg for about 4 hours now, but this thing is so cool! I have wanted to get a bodybugg for awhile but after pricing them on Amazon it was too expensive for my frugal blood. However, my dear mother got me a bodybugg for my birthday this year! Yesterday was the first time I set everything up since I didn’t want to use it while I was pregnant. So, here’s the scoop on how it works.

It comes with a free 1-year subscription/membership to where you log in what you eat, upload your bodybugg info onto your computer, and it keeps track of how many calories you burned and need to burn that day. It’s nice because it does all the figuring for you to include all the calories you need to burn to get a calorie deficit. Ideally, I would like to lose 2 pounds per week, so it said I need to shoot for a calorie burn of 1,000 calories per day. At first I thought that would be hard, but you know what? After doing some work at my computer, doing light housework, and taking care of the baby, I’ve already burned 438 calories. Cool, huh? The website also gives you small goals to shoot for. For instance, if you need to lose 100 pounds, it will give you smaller goals first, like 12 pounds over two months and then you go from there.

I will definitely be updating my progress, but so far I’m pretty pumped about this!

Posted in Health/Wellness | 2 Comments