Frugal Homeschooling Options

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We have been homeschooling for 10 years now. It’s pretty amazing when I think about it. That’s a long time! But then I realize I have 14 more years to go before my youngest is done and I start to get a little overwhelmed. The time will go by fast though! Ten years has already flown by.

With more and more families choosing homeschool over public school (for obvious reasons which I won’t get into here), the number of curriculum options has increased as well, and some of them are even free! It really is possible to provide an excellent education for your children with limited financial resources.

Continue reading “Frugal Homeschooling Options”

Garden 2017: Cool-Weather Crops!

Garden selfie! Ha! 😀

Howdy! Have you all been experiencing a monsoon like we have here in Kansas? Good grief, it’s been so, so wet here lately. I’m not sure how much rain we’ve gotten although I think we are all caught up for the year and then some. I haven’t been able to plant all of my cool-weather crops yet but have gotten some in the ground thankfully. For as wet as it’s been, I could turn my little garden plot into a rice paddy. 🙂 Continue reading “Garden 2017: Cool-Weather Crops!”

Tips for Easy Meals

spaghetti

spaghetti

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 well!

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 in your cooking adventures, 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!

(Psst. Here’s an easy recipe for you:)

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 14 and 15) 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 were able to do some pretty basic things even when they were younger, and I got to spend some quality time with them too. Now that they’re older, they can take over a lot of the meal preparation, 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! 🙂

Frumpy? No more!

So, I was thinking last night on the way to church about my appearance and apologized to David that I looked frumpy (just got out of the shower, no time to blow dry my hair, so I put it up into a quick ponytail – oh, and it was below zero and I went out with wet hair, lovely). And that got me to thinking that it really has been quite awhile since I actually put a lot of time into my appearance. I remember when we were dating, I spent quite a bit of time getting ready for the day with blow-drying my hair, curling it, wearing make up, etc. It seems that since we’ve been married, specifically since I had the kids, more specifically since I had my last, that I’ve just not put that much effort into looking my best. It’s easy to get into that habit though, especially when you have a crying baby needing to nurse and another crying baby with a dirty diaper. However, um, my children are now 8 and 9 and if my 8-year-old is still nursing, then well, that would probably make the national headlines. So what’s my excuse now? I guess I just formed a bad habit. It’s just easier to shower and pull my hair back into a ponytail than to spend the time to actually fix it up. So, this morning, I decided to do something different. I put on some make up and wanted to fix my hair nice and pretty. I ran into a slight problem though. I really didn’t (don’t) know how to do very many hairstyles. So, I spent a bit of time on the internet looking up some things that would be feasible for me to do. And success! I actually found something and was able to do it! Yay!

I also thought about my clothes and am really ready for a makeover in my closet as well, but right now with a 6-month pregnant belly, that’s just going to have to wait. 🙂

After doing some more thinking, I have decided to make it a priority each morning to spend some time and make myself look as nice as I can, not because I want to attract attention from strangers, but because I want to attract my husband’s attention. I think that’s important, even 11 years later.

So, I am attempting to rid myself of frumpiness. Frumpy no more!  (of course, after the baby comes, I think I may have to take some ex-frumpiness leave and resort to my former frumpy self because I’m sure I won’t care if my hair is curled after getting up every two hours at night).

Did You Ever Know That You’re My Gyro?

I just have to say it. I’m pretty pleased with the title of this post. Say what you will, I think it’s catchy. But why am I talking about gyros to begin with? Because, yesterday we got lamb meat!

“Great, Lisa, but what’s the big deal?”

Because! I’ve wanted to get lamb meat for a long time now and can’t find it or am too stingy economical to buy it. However, one of David’s coworkers went to Kansas City the other day and purchased some for us that was pretty reasonably priced, for lamb meat that is. And so I’m excited! (you’ve probably noticed by now that it doesn’t take much to get me excited, does it?). I will probably not be fixing gyros though despite the catchy title. I’ve been in the curry mood and when we have company over soon I will probably fix this recipe. Along with this. And then a salad. And maybe something for dessert. I was looking for some Pakistani/Indian desserts to make but a lot of them call for some really strange (to me) ingredients. So, I may just skip the authentic dessert and stick with American or maybe I’ll go out on a limb and just have fruit for dessert *gasp!* But then again, I like to take chances. 🙂

Gobs and Gobs of Greasy, Grimy Gopher Guts…

Remember that song? I had it in my head this morning as I was cleaning my…washing machine of all things. You know that washing machines typically are supposed to, um, wash your clothes, right? Well, let me tell you a thing or two about my washing machine. Okay, let’s start with anatomy, of my washing machine that is. You know that part in the middle that spins around and at the top there is a place to pour your liquid fabric softener if you decide to use it? On mine, the part where you put the fabric softener comes out so you can, I don’t know, clean it maybe? Who knew? I took mine out and if you could see what I saw, you’d be singing about gopher guts too. Blech! Ew! Sick! It was this black, thick, nasty gunk in the thing that holds the other thing where you put the liquid fabric softener. It probably has some other technical name besides “thing,” but I don’t have any creative word to use in its place. I spent probably over an hour trying to get this gunk out of my washing machine. I was using a knife, q-tips, toothpicks, paper towels, and bleach. Finally, I got it to where it was looking less disgusting. It still doesn’t look quite like I would like it to, but I couldn’t get it any cleaner unless I can disassemble it somehow. But let’s not go there, shall we? I am afraid what else I might find! The moral of this story: Clean out your fabric softener thingy and the spinner thing that holds it every once in awhile (like every 7 years or so in my situation…eh). David said I should have taken pictures. I thought about it but just didn’t feel like doing that to myself. I might get the EPA knocking at my door or something. 🙂

“…and I forgot my spoon, but I’ve got a straw…”

A-F-R-I-N Spells Relief

At least to some extent. There is a tad bit of oxygen going through my nostrils at this point. Earlier, just my right side was stuffed up. Now, my left side decided to join in the fun. Joy. Okay, so here it is, a little past midnight and my dear, dear husband is off to the only store that is open in Topeka today to get me some NyQuil…Walgreen’s. What a sweetheart he is. Apparently, the place is really busy. I guess that’s not so weird, but I am surprised that there are that many people out so late shopping. ‘Tis the season, I guess. I took my temperature a few minutes ago, positive that I had a fever and I watched it slowly climb up to…98.0. Not that I want a fever, but for as lousy as I feel, I figured a fever would explain part of it. But, since I usually run at around 97.3, does that mean that I really do have a fever? Maybe not.

I don’t know why I felt compelled to blog at 12:15 am. Maybe it was that cup of coffee I had earlier this evening. Maybe I’m dreading getting into bed because I won’t be able to breathe. Maybe just now I’m realizing what a wimp I am because of a stinkin’ cold. Ack! I think I just need to go to bed.

G’nite, all.

P.S. You know, if I keep blogging so frequently, I just may build up my readership a little. A special thanks to those faithful few who have kept checking back at my blog in all of its sporadic-ness!

Okay, really now, good night. If you happen to be up this late reading my blog, go to bed already. Sheesh! It’s nearly 12:30 in the morning. 🙂

It’s Sad, Really

My computer died. It met a sad end and even wailed. Seriously. I had been having some trouble with my computer one morning because it was making a weird buzzing noise and was taking a long time to boot up. So, I went outside with the dog so he could go wee wee outside and not on my carpet, and my daughter came to the door calling for me in a panic. I thought she wast telling me my phone was ringing and couldn’t figure out what was so bad about that. When I got into the house, I heard this weird, high-pitched moan/screech sound. When I realized it was my computer, I turned it off right away. I called David, turned it on again so he could hear it, and even being at work and being the computer guy that he is, he knew that it was toast. Sigh. It’s kind of a love-hate relationship with computers. They’re great when they work. But when they don’t work, it can sure be stressful.

Thankfully, I had most everything backed up. Now, I’m kicking back, relaxing, and typing on David’s iMac (oh yeah!). I guess it isn’t such a bad thing to have my computer die after all…but I need to stop relaxing because I have some housework to do before we leave for colorful Colorado on Monday. By the way, in some rather exciting news (I’m not pregnant, Mom 🙂 ), gas is $1.56 at the Casey’s near our house! Does anybody remember the last time it was that “cheap?” I DO! It was 8 years ago, baby! Too bad you can’t stock up on gas. David and I were just talking about that this morning, about filling up our trash cans, sock drawers, and baking dishes with gas because it’s so cheap now. 🙂 Mark my words, by this time next year, gas will be free…

Potty Training Woes…

We have a new addition to our family. He’s about 4 months old, very cute, playful, and makes us happy. And he’s also furry and walks on all fours. His name is Scout and was a birthday present for the kids. The drawback? The little ball of fur isn’t house trained! *pulls hair out!* Seriously, every time I think we’ve made some progress with the little guy, he pees on my floor. Today, he poo-pooed on my floor…twice! We hadn’t had a poo-poo accident in almost a week and then today he does it twice. The training information I’ve been reading said you should not get mad at the puppy but realize where you went wrong and try it again next time. That whole “not getting mad at the puppy” thing only goes so far though after I’ve cleaned pee off my carpet RIGHT AFTER HE WAS JUST OUTSIDE FOREVER AND HAD PLENTY OF OPPORTUNITY TO RELIEVE HIMSELF BUT NO, HE WAS TOO BUSY EATING BARK OFF A TWIG TO REALIZE HE HAD TO GO UNTIL AFTER WE GOT IN! Ahem. *deep breath.* It’s a good thing he’s so cute (and he really is adorable) or we’d be having us some real live hot dog for dinner, the kind not made with lips and bootie, if you know what I mean. I just hope my carpet holds out.

On another note, I am in danger of losing my vast readership if I don’t keep this site updated! 🙂 Sorry everyone! I’ve actually been in the process of loading up some pictures of recent canning adventures for over a week now. I just need to sit down and get ‘er done because they are really neat (in my humble opinion).

Off I go to get dinner out of the oven and make sure our little four-legged poopy, er, puppy is okay.

Despite How It May Seem…

I’m still alive. Just busy as bees around these parts. I have taken lots of pictures the past couple of weeks of various things I’ve been up to in the kitchen to include canning. Lots and lots of canning. It’s nice to know that skill, and it is really pretty simple, just a lot of sweaty work. We also bought some wheat from a farmer friend at our church, and I had been busy grinding some wheat into flour with a borrowed grain mill. David did a lot of the work. He had the day off from work to get some school stuff done, but he ended up helping me an awful lot in the kitchen, even shredding some cheese (one of my least favorite things to do) for lunch later on. He should take days off more often! Anyway, I will, Lord willing, be posting pictures of my adventures here in the next few days. I have taken so many that it will probably take me awhile to load them all on here. But I am really excited to share them.

For now, since it’s getting late and I still have some housework to do, I will refer you to a really great blog I found the other day. The lady’s name is Laura and her blog, called Heavenly Homemakers, is not only enjoyable to read, but she has some great recipes and lots of other helpful information as well. She also has some e-books you can purchase I used her pizza crust recipe tonight for dinner. I was really intrigued because it only had four ingredients, and not all of them were your standard pizza crust ingredients either; just flour, salt, yogurt, and butter. But wow! It was SO good! The kids really liked it too. I will admit, I was a bit surprised that it called for a cup of butter, but my friend, Cara, gave it rave reviews so I decided to give it a try. I was able to use my freshly ground flour! The dough ended up being soft and very easy to handle. I have trouble sometimes with whole wheat dough because it’s usually harder to work with. This dough, on the other hand, was great! One thing I will do next time is bake it a little before I put all the toppings on as it was kind of difficult to tell when the pizza was done. The crust ended up being a softer, moister crust, maybe from the butter. It really was great. One thing about it is that it is very filling as well, probably because of all the fiber and the higher fat content.

I should have taken pictures BEFORE we ate but maybe taking an after picture will just show you how much we liked it because of how little is left. The pizza below was made with a homemade pizza sauce, hamburger, onions, jalapeños, and cheese of course. It was really good as you can see.

hamburger, onion, jalapeño, and cheese pizza

This next pizza was made with leftover, cut up steak from some burritos the other day, jalapeños, mushrooms, and onions. The sauce was actually Alfredo sauce, just to boost the fat content a little in case we weren’t getting enough 🙂 We still have quite a bit left over. I could have gotten away with just fixing one pizza, but then we wouldn’t be enjoying it tomorrow.

steak, onion, mushroom, jalapeno, and cheese pizza with alfredo sauce

I’ll leave you with that, to tempt your tastebuds a bit. Goodnight!