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Monday, April 30, 2012

Snakes

  Snakes!  Yes, it is that time of the year.  This past week my hubby has killed three cottonmouths.  it started out a few days ago with my 14 year old son heading out to weed the garden.  As he was walking toward the garden, he was about 10 feet from the back of the house and walked past his go-cart.  Well, guess what struck out at him?  Yep, a cottonmouth.  Luckily, it did not get him.  Hubby was outside at the time too and went and killed it.  Then yesterday, hubby and son started yard work cleaning paths to the different gardens, around the yard, etc. so we could see things better.  They found 2 more cottonmouths and a baby one.  All dead now.  We live in the country and know to always be on the look out but it seems they are out worse this year than past years.  Have you had any run-ins with snakes in your area this year?

Cotton mouth, cottonmouth snake, snakes in the garden

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Our son Ronny

   Our youngest son is named Ronny.  Ronny was born 7 1/2 years ago with a series of heart conditions.  Ronny was life flighted shortly after he was born and the doctors did not expect him to make it.  As soon as the helicopter lifted off taking him to a larger city and hospital, people began to pray.  By the time the helicopter reached Tulsa, Ronny had stabilized.  The nurse on the chopper with Ronny said it was amazing.  One minute Ronny was fighting for his life and the next minute he stabilized and rested peacefully.
     Ronny was only in NICU for a few days before he was released.  Ronny still suffers from Pulmonary Stenosis and ASD.  They say Ronny will require open heart surgery soon so please pray for Ronny.
      As I said before, we are believers and believe in the power of prayer.  For many years we have prayed that God would make Ronny strong enough to withstand anything thrown at him.  Well, God answered in a BIG way.  :-)  Ronny is a BIG boy.  Seriously, he is 7 1/2 years old and is 4'7" tall.  He is projected to be just over 7 feet tall.  He is the height and weight of a 12 year old (and the appetite).
    He wears a size 6 1/2 MEN'S shoe.  Men's small/medium t-shirts.  I guess you get the idea.  We always joke that maybe we prayed a little too hard.  (Just kidding, all prayer is wonderful).  Now the issue is that Ronny has heart conditions and a 7 year old child heart that is trying to maintain a 12 year old size body.  New issues but I believe God has a reason for everything.
    Pray for Ronny and share with me your stories.  Do you have a 7 year old?  How tall is he?

ASD, pulmonary stenosis,
Phineas (8 months) & Ronny (5)

ASD, Pulmonary Stenosis
Phineas (2), Ronny (6)

ASD, Pulmonary Stenosis
Ronny and Conner, both 7. 
The above picture is of Ronny and his friend Conner.  Conner is a "normal" sized 7 year old.  We grow 'em big, don't we?  :-)


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Friday, April 27, 2012

Frugal living: Waste Not

      We are big in our household on not wasting much at all.  We reuse, recycle and do everything possible that everything we have is used, resused or consumed in some way.  Some examples, I make homemade bread for our family.  If the end dries out, we cut it off and I turn it into bread crumbs to be used in meatloaf or dressing or make croutons out of it.
        After we make a pot of coffee, we pour the coffee grounds out into our garden.  Coffee grounds at nitrogen to the soil and your garden will really benefit from it.  At the end of the day, if you have a little bit of coffee left in your coffee pot, don't pour it out.  Pour it into an ice tray so next time you want iced coffee, use the frozen coffee instead of regular ice.  When it melts, your iced coffee is great and not just watered down.


     When we have potatoes, we fry them up with the skins on.  The only time we peel a potato is when we have mashed potatoes and then we save the peelings for our pigs.  Or put them in a compost bin if you have one.  And if I boil the potatoes, I never pour out the "potato" water.  Save it in the refrigerator or freeze it.  I use potato water for soup & bread recipes.  Use it in place of plain water and the difference is wonderful.
     When I use an onion, I save the outer peelings and ends for when I make my chicken broth and chicken stock.  Same with carrot ends and peelings, celery, etc.  Use them for chicken broth or chicken stock.  Or feed them to your meat rabbits, chickens, or pigs.  Or if it is a green onion, I keep it and regrow it.  Here is how:  How to regrow green onions.
 
      When I cook chicken, I cook a whole chicken.  I save the neck and other parts my family won't eat to be used for the chicken broth I make.  The leftover bones will be cracked and used in my chicken stock.  I crack the bones because you get more minerals and nutrients into your stock from the marrow that is released.
      Any time you have an orange or lemon, grate off the peelings and freeze them until you need them for zest in a recipe.  Bananas go bad, freeze them and use them to make banana bread.  Feed the banana peels to your pigs or compost them.  When we crack open an egg, we put the egg shell out for the pigs, or we grind them up to be fed to our chickens or even rinse the eggshells, crush them than put them in your garden near the tomato or pepper plants.  The calcium will help them.
     Don't know what to do with your corn cobs once you have eaten off the corn?  Well, how about making Corn cob stock out of them or corn cob jelly or coating them with peanut butter and bird seed and put out for squirrels and birds to eat?  All great and practical ideas.
     When your laundry detergent bottle or dishsoap bottle is empty, fill them up with water and save them.  Use the soapy water to wash dishes on a camp-out, etc.  Just think before you throw anything away.  Think how can I use this item.  I am sure you can think of a use for it.  
   Do you have any other suggestions?  I would love to hear them.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Chocolate Covered Bacon Recipe

       One of my favorite party recipes is CHOCOLATE COVERED BACON.  When I first heard of this, I almost gagged but it is surprisingly delicious.  We love it.  Salty and sweet never tasted so good together.   They make great gifts and they are great to sell at bazaars and bake sales.
   This recipe was a winner in a contest by Oklahoma New's Channel 6 and the Oklahoma Pork Council.  Check it out: Recipe Madness Contest.

      They are also super easy to make.  All you need is thick sliced bacon (the thicker the better), semi-sweet chocolate chips and shortening.     To begin:  place the bacon on a cookie sheet and place it in a preheated 400 degree oven.  Bake for 20 min.  You can cook it for a shorter amount of time for softer bacon but I think the crisp bacon works so much better.  Once the bacon is cooked, blot it with a paper towel to absorb the oil and remove from pan to cool.  As it cools, place the chocolate chips (1 bagful/2 c.) into a microwave safe bowl.  Add in 2 T. shortening and "nuke" for 30 seconds at a time, stirring often, until completely melted.
     Once the mixture is melted, use a pastry brush or the back side of a teaspoon to coat one side of the bacon completely.  Once that side is completely dry, turn over and coat the back side.   Package them up prettily or eat them.
    Here is how mine turned out!
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Chocolate covered bacon




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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Pizza & Bowling: Family Night Out

   Recently our family was fortunate enough to get to go to Pizza Hut and go bowling.  It was the first time in a long time that we were able to do something like that and we had a fantastic time.  Gift certificates for things like that always make an awesome gift to families that do not get to do stuff like that very often.  We live on a very strict and fixed income and really appreciated the generosity.  Anyway, we wanted to share pictures from our family night.  Hope you enjoy!
Family night, bowling,
Brandon getting ready to bowl

Family night, bowling,
Brandon bowling.

Family night, bowling,
Me throwing my ball

Family night, bowling,
My Darling Hubby.

Family night, bowling,
My DH bowling.

Family night, bowling, Poteau
Ronny!

Family night, bowling, Poteau
Ronny watching his ball go.

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Easy French-Dip Sandwiches


   I don't know about you but I absolutely LOVE Arby's French Dip and Swiss sandwiches with au jus!  They are so delicious but we have to pinch pennies so we rarely go out to eat.  I found a recipe a few years back, tried it, modified it and now use it about once a month to treat my family.



Easy French Dip Sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 1 (10.5 ounce) can beef consomm√© (It is different than the beef broth).
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 lb. thinly sliced roast beef from a deli
  • 8 slices Swiss cheese
  • 4 hoagie rolls, cut lengthwise (so you will have 8 halves of hoagie rolls).

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Lay the 8 hoagie halves on a cookie sheet.
  3. Heat up the beef consomme and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
  4.  Place the roast beef in the broth and warm for 3 minutes.
  5. Arrange the meat on the hoagie rolls and top each roll with 2 slices of cheese.
  6. Bake the sandwiches in the preheated oven for 5 minutes, or until the cheese just begins to melt. Serve the sandwiches with small bowls of the warm consomme for dipping.

     Do you have any fast food or favorite restaurant style recipes to share?

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A quick poll

I have 2 loaves of homemade bread in the oven right now. The house is smelling sooooo good right now. Do you make homemade bread at your house? If so, how often do you make it? We make 2 loaves every other day here.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Many Faces of Ronny

     Recently our youngest son Ronny was especially expressive while doing his homework.  He was so serious and "into" the homework that I couldn't help but snap a few pictures of his facial expressions.  I hope you enjoy viewing them as much as I do!
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homeschool,  homeschooling, facial expressions, homework
I love the look of seriousness he has here. 

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homeschool,  homeschooling, facial expressions, homework

homeschool,  homeschooling, facial expressions, homework

homeschool,  homeschooling, facial expressions, homework

    I am just really thankful that there is no one around to take pictures of me when I am deep in thought.  I sure doubt I would look as cute!


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Puppet Making

    Puppet Making!  Doesn't this sound fun?  Well, we can honestly say, it was a blast.  I even made one.  What kind of fun crafts do you make with your children?

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Ronny and his creation.

Puppets, puppet making, homeschool craft, homeschooling,
Conner and his creation.

Puppets, puppet making, homeschool craft, homeschooling,
Brandon and his creation. (Kind of got that deer-in-the-headlights look going on.)


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Me & my puppet!





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Monday, April 23, 2012

Homemade Meat Loaf Recipe

  
      Many people have been requesting my recipe for my meatloaf so by popular demand, here it is!  

                     Melody's MMM Good Meatloaf
2 lbs. beef                                                1 1/2 c. instant oats
1 1/2 tsp. dried chopped onion      1/2 c. ketchup
6 oz. can tomato paste                     2 eggs
1 1/2 T. Worcestershire sauce       1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. salt                                               1 T.  BBQ sauce
1/2 tsp. pepper                                    1 tsp. soy sauce

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  
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Gather your utensils and ingredients

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Hamburger meat.  We just purchase our hamburger in rolls. 


     Put all the ingredients into a bowl and "smush" them all together with your hands.  I know it is messy and feels gross but it is the only way to get it mixed together well enough.  Once it is mixed together thoroughly, divide the meat mixture into 2 equal parts.  Spray 2 loaf pans with cooking spray.  Place one half of the meat  mixture into each loaf pan and pat down.
     Place one into your preheated oven for 1 hour.  Double wrap the other loaf in foil and then date it and place it in your freezer.  Frozen, it is good for 3 months.  Just pull it out next time you are pressed for time or need something for potluck.  
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The meat in the pans before cooking.

homemade meatloaf, meat loaf, meatloaf recipe, frugal living, cooking
Wrapped in foil, ready for the freezer.

      Prepare the glaze for the top of the meatloaf by mixing together 1/2 c. ketchup, 1 T. brown sugar, 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce, and 1 T. BBQ sauce (we use Honey BBQ sauce) all together in a small bowl.  Ten minutes before meatloaf is done, pour glaze over top of meatloaf and let it finish cooking.
     This is a VERY moist meatloaf.  If you like a drier meatloaf, just add an additional 1/2 c. of oats and just leave out the tomato paste.

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Field Trip to an Airport

   As homeschoolers, we try to do some really fun field trips when we can.  For example, for National Aviation Day, which is August 19th, we went on tour of a nearby airport.  National Aviation Day is also Orville Wright's birthday, who was born 8/19/1871.  Of course, we all know that Orville and his brother Wilbur were responsible for inventing the first successful airplane.
      Anyway, to celebrate the day, we went on a tour of the airport in Poteau, OK.  It is a small airport but that is the beauty of it.  The man pretty much let us have a run of the whole place.  We got to go on the runway, see the airplanes up and personal and check out the hangars.  It was a real treat.

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This is a single seat "kit" plane.  From left to right, my son Brandon,  our friend Conner, and my son Ronny.  

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This plane was made in 1979.  It can fly for about 4 hours before it needs to refuel.  It cruises at about 150 m.p.h.


       One the drive back home over the mountain, my husband quizzed the children on what they had learned.  They went over the purpose of the wings and how they work; control services on how planes turn and go up and down; and learned about how they can tell how fast a plane goes by using a "pito" tube.
        What kinds of field trips do you make with your homeschool or family?  We would love to hear!


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Homemade Play-Doh

        Another thing we like to do at our home is to make homemade Play-Doh.  We use it in our homeschool program and just for fun.  The kids love to help make it and they really love to play with it.  I always let them help in the measuring of ingredients and stirring.
      This is how we make it:
Ingredients:
2 c. flour
1 c. salt
4 T. vegetable oil
4 T. apple cider vinegar PLUS add enough BOILING water to equal to 2 c. total
food coloring
glitter, optional

     I use canola oil but only because that is what we use at our house.  Whatever kind you use will work fine.  The glitter is also optional but the kids (even the boys) like glitter in their Play-Doh.  We use blue glitter in the blue Play-Doh, etc. but you can mix and match.  Just do what you want and have fun with the whole process.

Directions:
    Help your children measure up and pour in the flour, salt and oil into a medium sized bowl.  Then have the adult measure and pour in the vinegar and hot water.  Stir well.  Once you have it mixed up good, divide it up into four equal sizes.    Place each glob into a separate bowl and add a few drops of food coloring and glitter.  Once each batch is mixed up, put it on the table and knead it a bit.  Once that is complete you are ready to play with it.

    Just remember that homemade Play-Doh is a lot softer than store bought.  My kids like it better because of this.  Store each color in its own baggie.

frugal living, homemade play-doh, craft ideas, crafts, homeschool crafts, homeschooling
Conner playing with some of the Play-Doh we made.

frugal living, homemade play-doh, craft ideas, crafts, homeschool crafts, homeschooling
Ronny trying to decide on his masterpiece!

   Hope you enjoyed reading this.  We would love to hear from you...




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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Our sugar gliders

     Our sugar glider pair our proud new parents.   They have 2 new babies and they have just left the pouch.  We cannot take pictures of them yet but in the next couple of weeks we should be posting pictures.  Let me just say, they are adorable and so TINY.  My thumb is bigger than their entire body.

sugar glider, baby sugar gliders, exotic pets, exotic pet,
This is Sable, the momma.

sugar glider, sugar gliders, baby sugar glider, baby sugar gliders, exotic pets
This is the male Scrat running around on my arm.

baby sugar glider, sugar glider, sugar gliders, exotic pet, exotic pets
One of our sugar gliders on one of our a violin cases. 

baby sugar glider, sugar glider, sugar gliders, exotic pet, exotic pets
Here is Sable again. 
   Our sugar gliders are sooo cute and sweet.  Their fur is so unbelievably soft too.  And if you have never heard a sugar glider, the sound will give you chills the first time you hear it.   The first month we had them, every time they made the sound, it scared the bejeebers out of me.  They rarely make the "scary" noise anymore but they do "bark" a lot.  The funnest thing is to watch them "fly".  They resemble flying squirrels in flight and can glide clear across the room.

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Bird eggs: Tufted Titmouse

    Hi, everyone.  We are all pretty excited because we have 6 baby bird eggs.  Yep, that's right.  :-)  We could be wrong, but we believe they are Tufted Titmouse eggs.  We see them a lot around here and the egg size and color is correct but we have not seen any bird fly into the nest yet.
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Picture of the nest

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Close up picture of the eggs

     The only problem with the whole situation is WHERE the eggs were laid.  They are in the battery cavity of my husband's ATV.  :-)   He rode his Honda 400 ex the other day and decided to charge the battery.  Anyway, he removed the battery and put it in the storage building to charge.  Less than a week later, he went to put the battery back and that is when he found the bird nest and eggs.  Guess who won't get to ride his ATV for a few weeks?  It's okay, he's a good sport about it all.  Unfortunately, his Polaris is broke down so he has nothing to ride or use for the farm work.
Honda ATV, Honda 400 ex, Tufted Titmouse, farm life, baby birds, small bird eggs
My hubbies Honda 400ex (and new home to a family of Tufted Titmouse).

   Here's a weird question, what is plural of Titmouse?  I had no idea how to write the caption to the above picture.  Titmouses sounded weird but I wasn't sure if it remains the same whether it was one or a bunch.  Anyway, if you want to learn more about the Tufted Titmouse, click here to be directed to a wonderful site that has all kinds of great information on birds. 
     As always, I look forward to any comments you may have.

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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Homemade Laundry Detergent

     We have been making our own laundry detergent for quite some time now and thought we would share how we do it today.  Our recipe is just slightly different then most you find online though.  Most use a different soap then we do but in our past experience, the other soap has caused skin allergies or sensitivity.  By using Ivory soap, we can even use it on baby clothes without having to worry.   Also, Ivory bar soap is so much easier to find in a store.  Double plus!
     My mother-in-law recently asked for some of our homemade laundry detergent and is thrilled with it.  She tried an experiment of washing whites with my homemade detergent and then washing some with her old brand.  She could not believe how much whiter my soap did compared to her "store-bought" brand.  It thrilled me to death to know this too.
   Okay, so here is what you will need:
  • 1 bar of Ivory soap
  • 1/2 cup washing soda 
  • 1/2 cup borax
    The washing soda I purchased online from Amazon.com.  For shipping and all cost me less than $10 and the box will last a LONG time.  The Borax I found at Walmart in the laundry aisle.

homemade laundry soap, homemade laundry detergent, how to make your own laundry soap
This is what it looks like after you add the soap shavings and water.
  First thing you need to do is grate the Ivory soap.  I use a vegetable peeler that I purchased for this purpose but you can use what ever you desire.  Once it is all grated, put it in a large pot.  Now add 6 cups of water and heat it up until the soap is all melted.
Then add in the washing soda and the Borax.  Stir it up until it is mixed well.  Remove it off the stove and set aside.  Take a HUGE pot or bucket and pour in 4 cups of hot water and then pour in the soap mixture.  Stir it again then add a gallon of water and an additional 6 cups of water and stir it up again.  Now just put the bucket out of the way somewhere overnight.  After about 24 hours it is ready to use.
      The detergent turns into a gel like mass.  Do not expect it to be totally gelled though.  Another thing to note about the detergent is that there will be very little suds when you wash.  Do not panic.  It is okay.  With this soap, it is the ingredients that do the cleaning and not the bubbles.  Trust me.  :-)
   Use 1/2 cup per load.
   Besides making our own detergent, we also do not use a standard washing machine.  We do the laundry by hand (well sort-of).  We actually do it with a plunger, a five gallon bucket, and tub.  If you want to see how, you can view how we do laundry country style here.  I also make our own fabric softener and dishwasher detergent.  Check back soon to learn how to do it.

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Homeschooling

   Many people often ask us about our homeschooling experience.  We have been homeschooling for over 15 years and love it.  Our 2 boys, age 14 and 7, have never been to public school.  People wonder if it is hard.  Yes, it can be but it is so enjoyable too.
     We converted an extra bedroom into our "school" room.  Of course, lessons take place in every room of our house and outside too though.  But the bulk of the sit down school work is in the school room.  Hope you enjoy the pictures.
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 This is our "centers" area.  Just a place to keep everything organized.


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 The back wall....


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 Our craft supply area.


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 The front wall.


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 Our reading center.


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Student work area




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Friday, April 20, 2012

Chickens: Our starting flock

This is one of the Plymouth Rocks we got.


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Cinnamon Queen, sex link chicken, backyard chickens, chickenThis is our Cinnamon Queen. Isn't she beautiful?


We began our chicken adventure back on August 7, 2011 with the purchase of our first flock of chickens. I am so glad we did too. These five layers have provided us with a lot of joy and a LOT of eggs. We consistently get 3-5 eggs a day, everyday, from these 5 ladies. That is more than the average for the breeds but they are really happy here and love us like we love them.
We have one Plymouth Rock, a Cuckoo Maran, a Golden Lace Wyandotte, a Cinnamon Queen and a Blue Silkie. I need to get more recent pictures of our girls because they are so beautiful now. The Blue Silkie is simply gorgeous and takes your breath away.
We are heavy eaters in our family and since we have had these five girls, I have yet to buy eggs from the store. We eat a sausage and egg casserole several days a week and I do a lot of baking but these girls keep up our demand.
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