Monday, December 2, 2013

A Time to Be Thankful

November has come and gone. It flew by before I knew it. Now it's on to December and time to start thinking about Christmas. Before Thanksgiving is just a memory, I want to share a list of things I am thankful for. I have so many blessings in my life. In no particular order, here's a list:

  • My husband Greg. He works so hard and gives 110% to everything he does. He is a wonderful husband and father. 
  • Dwight and Jordan. I had no idea that two little guys could change my life so much. They are such happy babies, and they make me smile 81 times a day. (I don't really count how many times they make me smile; that's just an approximation.)
  • The rest of my family. Even when they frustrate the heck out me, I'm thankful for the family I was born into and the family I married into. I am glad that my children will have the opportunity to be a part of these groups.
  • Being able to use my talents. I was afraid that if I wasn't teaching, then I wouldn't be able to use things like program planning, problem solving, and facilitating. I am thankful that I've found ways to use those gifts. 
  • Opportunities. The opportunity I've had this year to build our seed business has been a blessing. I am thankful that I've been able to connect with farmers and help to make their farms more profitable by sharing solutions. 
  • Church. Crossroads is a church unlike any other. I am glad Greg and I can benefit from the teaching and give back to the congregation through volunteering. This weekend, we met another family in the church nursery with twins two months older than ours. I am glad Dwight and Jordan will grow up in a church with kids their age. It is a wonderful place to grow our faith. 
  • Friends. They make life fun. End of story. 
This list could continue on and on. This holiday season, take time to remember what is important to you. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Pinterest Day!

This past weekend, I hosted a first-ever Pinterest Day. It was a great time! Here's the invite my good friend Toni and I shared with other friends:

Planning the event was very simple. Here's how you can do it. 

  1. Choose a craft. We selected the Christmas ornament wreath from Six Sisters Blog. Instructions can be found here.
  2. Collect RSVPs. You will need the RSVPs in order to make sure you have enough supplies for all of your guests to make the project. We had 10 adults making the wreaths.
  3. Purchase the supplies. We headed over to the good ol'e Dollar Tree to buy an assortment of ribbon and ornaments. Each guest put $10 into the fund to cover the costs. 
  4. Encourage your guests to bring a snack. It was neat to see Pinterest recipes in real life. For example, we had the famous Cake Mix Puppy Chow, Country Time Lemonade Punch, Rice Crispy Paint Brushes, and lots of other neat snacks. 
  5. Gather together, craft, and socialize! It was great having lots of people doing the same craft, so we could help each other along. Here are our finished projects:

It was a great excuse to get together, and we had a neat project to show for the day when we were finished. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Busy bottles

Here's a super-quick project that's kept my boys entertained today. I call it a busy bottle. (The idea for this might be floating out there in cyberspace, but I dreamed it up on my own, so let me be happy with myself, ok?)

I do things in twos around here: change two diapers, get two bottles ready, give two baths... you get the point. So I made two of these in about 5 minutes.

I started with empty water bottles. I filled them 3/4 of the way full with baby oil (I thought the items would float slower in baby oil than water, but it turns out the baby oil wasn't as thick as I thought it would be, so it didn't do much, other than bubble when it's shook up.) Then, I added some goodies. From my craft room, I took small beads, felt pom-pons, and foam shapes. I put them in the bottle, and then I added water to fill it the rest of the way up. I ran a line of hot glue all around the top of the bottle, which holds the lid on tight, so none of the small items escape. 

So far, the boys are occupied!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Married to a farmer

I have a confession to make: I get a little irritated when people complain about their spouses' work schedule. If they think they have a rough schedule or think they work a lot of hours, they should try being married to a farmer.

Ironically, when I started typing the title of this blog post, I left out the last "er," so it read, "Married to a farm." In a lot of ways, we are married to a farm, but I wouldn't change being"Married to a farmer," for anything.

I'm so glad that my husband gets to do something he is 110% passionate about every day. Sure, it means long hours, but I know there's nothing else he would rather do. He is making a difference, right here within a few miles of our home. I hope one day our boys will be able to farm, if that's what they choose to do.

For other farm wives out there, I know this time of year is tough. Long hours and short fuses can get the best of us if we let it. Instead, let's focus on staying positive, and remember there are perks to this job. Where else do you get views like this?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Freezer meals... for the rest of us.

You've probably seen blogs with these claims:

  • "Make 50 freezer meals in a day."
  • "30 days of freezer cooking."
  • "16 freezer meals in one hour."
This is not one of those blog posts. Instead, this is the story of two friends who live in the land of reality and who got together to make freezer meals. Think of the story as "Freezer meals... for the rest of us."

So here's how it went down. 

Toni and I decided it would be fun/practical to get together and prepare some freezer meals. A couple of weeks ago we got together to choose our recipes, so we could plan our shopping lists. Since this was our first time doing a freezer day, we wanted to start small. We chose to each select three recipes: a pork dish, a chicken dish, and a beef dish. We would double the recipe (if necessary; if it was already a large portion, we didn't double it) so we each got enough for one meal and leftovers. Our husbands are "meat and potatoes" kind of guys. Nothing too crazy for them. We looked for recipes that were simple enough to make but were different from something we already make, so we could add some new dishes to our normal line-up. 

Here's what I picked out:
  • Hawaiian Pizza Pockets 
    • Doubled the recipe
    • Put in foil pans, ready to freeze and ready to bake
    • We each ended up with 6 pockets.
  • Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole
    • Doubled the recipe
    • Put in foil pans, ready to freeze and ready to bake
    • We each ended up with 2 small pans (each pan is enough for 2 meals.)
  • Crockpot Pizza Casserole 
    • Doubled the hamburger, nothing else
    • Put in gallon-size freezer bags, ready to freeze and put in the crockpot
    • We each ended up with 1 bag (enough for 2 meals.)
And Toni chose:
  • Peachy Pork Picante 
    • Doubled the recipe
    • Put in quart-size freezer bags, ready to freeze and reheat
    • We each ended up with 1 bag (enough for 1-2 meals.)
  • Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole 
    • Did not double
    • Put in foil pans, ready to freeze and ready to bake
    • We each ended up with 2 small pans (enough for 2 meals.)
  • Million Dollar Casserole 
    • Did not double
    • Put in foil pans, ready to freeze and ready to bake
    • We each ended up with 2 small pans (enough for 2 meals.)
A note on the recipes: Six Sisters Stuff has awesome recipes (an crafts, and decor, and tips, etc.) It was hard to find "freezer meal ideas" that involved pork. We relied a lot on Pork: Be Inspired. That website (funded by hog farmers!) has over 75 categories of recipes you can search by.

There are lots of ways to do freezer meal get-togethers, but we decided that we would each bring the ingredients for our recipes to my house, where we would cook and assemble the meals. If we do this again, we might bring the meat pre-cooked, because that took the bulk of our time. We each also had containers to put the meals in. (Freezer bags and foil pans with lids are a must!)

Four hours later, here's what we had:

Now, four hours seems like a long time, but we each ended up with nine dishes (which will generate leftovers as well.) You'll notice we labeled the pans with the recipe name and baking/cooking directions. Basically, all of the recipes we completely prepared except the baking part, so all we have to do is take the pan out of the freezer and stick it in the oven. Also, the four hours included clean-up time, which was nice to share with another person.

Oh, and did I mention dessert?
  • Frozen Strawberry Fluff (did not double, poured into pre-made graham cracker crusts)
  • Easy Ice Cream Cake (layer ice cream sandwiches and cool whip, top with candy bars of your choice and chocolate syrup)
All in all, I think we were happy with our efforts. We can't wait to taste these new recipes and enjoy good, home-cooked meals with the effort out of the way!