Cinnamon rolls, an explosion and a deer head

Monday, January 26, 2015

If you think you are the only one that has crazy incidents and prone to absent mindedness... this story is for you.

I was feeling pretty happy with myself Saturday morning as I got up early to surprise my family with homemade cinnamon rolls. While they were rising I was even able to fit in a workout. I had to burn off some calories so I wouldn't feel bad eating all those cinnamon rolls;)

As the rolls were rising I snapped a few pics just in case I wanted to show them off or share my recipe; they were perfect. I put them in the oven and as they were baking I put a pot on the stove to make a caramel sauce to go over them. My husband came in at this moment with a deer head in a big pot and wanted to use the stove to boil it. Yes, you read correctly...a deer head.( He was making a European mount with the buck his brother had shot) I begrudgingly gave up one of my burners.

When the rolls were ready I had no where to put them so I moved the pot with the caramel sauce and placed the glass dish on top of said burner all the while forgetting it was on. The boys came in and where hovering over the hot, fragrant rolls as I tried to make room on the counter. As I turned around I heard a huge explosion. Glass was everywhere, one of the boys got nicked by a flying piece, I stepped down and cut my big toe and the rolls were now burning on the stove with chunks of glass in them.

I turned off the burner and yelled for my husband. He had the sense to get all the kids and myself out of the kitchen and get the rolls off the burner. As I sat outside with my husband bandaging up my bloody foot I started sobbing uncontrollably. My foot didn't hurt, but my heart did. Here I was getting up early, taking all this time and effort to make my family a delicious breakfast and it was all in the garbage now. I had nothing to show for it, just the smell of those rolls permeating the house; along with the deer head.

Not only was I distressed that all the work I did was for nothing but the thought that someone could have got seriously hurt scared me. I wanted to blame that deer head but I knew that wasn't the cause of this catastrophe. I had simply made a mistake. So I sat on the back steps with one of my son's; both of us crying, mourning the loss of those ooey gooey, sugary rolls.

After we got the kitchen cleaned up Josh went to lift up the pot with the deer head and put his back out. Oh and did I mention the baby who was soundly sleeping woke up at this moment? Josh was in agony but being the awesome husband that he is went to the store and brought back doughnuts and yes, you guessed it cinnamon rolls and a new pyrex pan.

In the blink of an eye our morning took a drastic turn. It could have been much worse but thankfully we only suffered the minor injures of a cut toe, scrape on the lip and a back out of place.

I was trying to figure out what God could possibly be trying to teach me through the mornings incidents and I came to the conclusion that if that was the worse that we went through this week, we were very blessed...blessed with provision to make delicious, nourishing food, blessed with a kitchen and utensils to make food with, blessed with the ability to make food and blessed with love ones to make it for. Oh and I learned to never place a glass dish on a hot burner!

Josh said we will look back on this incident and laugh but I think I might still cry at the thought of those warm, sweet cinnamon rolls that never made their way to my mouth.

Stamping with Fruits and Vegetables for Preschoolers

Friday, January 16, 2015

Throughout the day my daughter's favorite question seems to always be,"Mom can we do a really, really cool craft?" Try as I might to facilitate her love for crafts and encourage her love for "the arts" I just can't keep them coming her way fast enough. Just when I think I have found something really cool for her to do she breezes through it and asks for another craft to keep her busy fingers occupied. She would be content to draw, paint, stamp, cut and glitter all day long.

Of course I can not always do amazing crafts with her every single day since I do have to teach her brothers, so I try to find things that she can do on her own without needing too much prep or help from me.

On one such day when she was begging me for a new project to tackle, I noticed that there was a bottom of a lettuce and celery head ready to go to the chickens. Why not use them as stamps? I love the shapes they make that look just like flowers. I found an apple and a lemon that were about to go bad that would work well also. I don't think the chickens will miss them too much.

I simply poured different colors of paint on plates and let Ellie and her brother go to town. They had so much fun and to my relief kept at it for almost an hour! They did get paint all over them but that was nothing a bath couldn't fix. I usually put smocks on them but totally forgot.

If you have a crafty kid at home that is getting bored of the crayons and coloring books; look around the kitchen and see if you have any produce lying around. You might find they are the perfect tools to make works of art!

Linking up with Homeschool Creations Preschool and Kindergarten Community, A Little Bird Told Me

Practical goals: Meal Planning

Monday, January 12, 2015

I know everyone and their brother's are out there making big goals and resolutions for the year like:

Not eating sugar...ummm no thanks, maybe I do need to eat a little less.
Running a marathon...a half was enough for me but I do want to do a triathlon...someday.
Reading 100 books...I am just happy if I read my Bible daily though there are a few other books I would like to read also this year.

I am making goals too but they are more like daily goals, hourly goals, minute by minute goals so I can keep my sanity and be effective and productive in the jobs God has given me.

Here are my practical goals for the year:

Keeping the kids fed and alive.
Staying focused and on track with school.
Keeping the house from looking like a garbage dump, aka making sure the kid's are on top of their chores.
Less time in cyberspace and more time looking in my kids face's.
Not freaking out at the kids when I can't find any  pens, pencils, tape or scissors etc...etc...

I know...I aim high.

But seriously, I have been praying and asking God to show me how I can be more faithful with my time and finances and he has been so gracious as to point out some areas that I know I can improve on to make my days more efficient.

Meal Planning is a biggie. I have a tendency to get "distracted" throughout the day and before I know it it's dinner time and I haven't even thought about or prepared anything. I hate that feeling of not knowing what we are going to have for dinner. It's just the worst. So here is how I am going about changing that:

{Consistently menu planning and shopping}

I don't know about you, but after all the cooking from Thanksgiving and Christmas I really haven't felt like cooking, shopping or planning our meals. We have just been winging it and eating out a lot. Which I am fine with getting a little break from cooking but not breaking our bank account and fast food isn't the greatest on our guts.

I usually have a good routine of  planning our meals and making a big shopping trip every two weeks to Aldi (don't you just love Aldi?) Sam's Club, Publix and the fruit stand every two weeks. I know it sounds like a lot but when I make the effort my kitchen and life runs a lot smoother. When I don't keep it up things start getting hairy as in I am pulling out my hair because I have to keep running back and forth to the store and we still don't seem to have enough food.

With a large family it's detrimental to our survival and to my sanity to plan ahead. Because its never fun when I finish cleaning up the kitchen from lunch to turn around to cries of "I'm hungry, what's for dinner?" To which I answer,"I don't know"... read (while pulling my hair out and yelling)"I just fed you, you can't possibly be hungry!!!!" 

Thankfully there are a million resources out there to help us weary mom's in the kitchen. But the thing with all those options is that it can get overwhelming and confusing.

Here's some practical steps that have helped me without adding to the stress. I hope they help you too! I am not a meal planning authority by any means but this is just what has helped me as I have learned to adjust to feeding my growing family.

{Print out a meal planner}

Here are some I like:
This free downloadable weekly menu planner from organizing home life and a monthly menu planner from hellobee, or you can buy a reusable dry erase board. It just helps to have it all written down. As long as I have dinner planned out I feel like everything is right in the world. You can even change your dinners around to suit your cravings or time needs.

This menu planning advice has helped me also. I try to focus mainly on dinner.  I love making breakfast and we usually have leftovers for lunch. I try to plan out our meals and shop every two weeks. It has been the best fit for my family right now but find out what works best for your family and the season you are in.

{Set a Date}

Schedule on your calendar when you are going to go food shopping. Get a babysitter(husband) and get r' done! I like to go early in the morning if I can when there are not a lot of crowds. I usually take one child with me to "help" and to have some special alone time. I remember shopping with my Dad and I still have good memories of getting cookies with him. I loved helping my Dad and having time with just me and him.

Whether you go once a week, twice a month or once a month it will help keep you on track in your meal planning and help you not to get stuck without any food in the house. Even if you don't need a lot of things, go anyway so that you can stock up on the things that will run out quickly. I can't tell you how many times I have had to make mad dashes to the store with all the kids in tow to get milk or toilet paper during rush bueno. Thankfully the kids are usually well behaved( thanks to many years of training) but it's always so much easier not to have to take them all in the store.

{Gather Recipes}

I can easily get in a rut of making the same things over and over again because I know my kids will like it, but that gets old real quick. I have found pinterest to be a great resource of new meal ideas. Here is the link to my meal idea board that has great meals to keep both kids and adults happy. I also have ripped out a ton of recipes from magazines over the years and put them into a binder, categorizing them into different groups. It's so nice to have them on hand without having to scour multiple sites online.

Don't feel like you have to make food network worthy recipes every day. Find out what your family likes and add to your list of favorites; experimenting at least once a week with a new one.

{Take short cuts}

I will do pretty much anything to save myself from making more work and cleaning up more messes... give yourself a break too!

~Invest in paper plates and plastic cups~

For a couple of dollars you can save the sink from piling up non stop, that's not too shabby if you ask me! I can't tell you how many times my kids get out new cups because they lost track of theirs. It's so frustrating to see all the cups on the counter that have to be washed...again! I have now put into Harris family law that each person get's their own respective plastic cup with their name sharpied on it and no more wondering whose cup is who' be it!

We usually use paper plates for lunch when we are pressed for time and need to get back to school and on the weekends so we can enjoy more time together. Trust me... paper and plastic are the new black!

~Use slave labor~

For a long time I felt like a slave cleaning up after my kids and having them order me around. Once I realized what was happening I switched gears fast and assigned them age appropriate chores. Now they set the table, clean up and put the dishes in the dishwasher. I usually still have to do a little extra cleaning to get it up to my standards but it's so nice having the extra help and teaching them responsibility at the same time.
I had my son drew this chart so he and his brother would be sure not to have any excuses!

When my two oldest sons were old enough I showed them how to make a few simple meals. This has been so helpful! It been great that they don't have to rely on me for every meal, not only feeding themselves but their younger siblings and myself also. I have been pretty impressed by their cooking skills as well. All the hard work I have poured into them is finally paying off and their future wives will thank me!

If your husband can cook, recruit him also! I am so blessed to have a husband that not only cooks but is probably a better cook than I am. After a long day I take advantage of his cooking skills and put him to work! To those of you whose husband's can't cook, my deepest sympathy goes out to you. Let them buy you take out;)

~Use the Crockpot~
I love the crockpot! It is one of my best friends in the kitchen. It's the best feeling in the world when dinner time rolls around and there is a tender, delicious meal all prepared..heated up and waiting for you to serve. All you have to do is prepare your ingredients (some recipes require a little cooking) plop them in the crock pot, let them cook and make you look like a superhero.  Here is my pinterest board of life saving recipes.

{Make Time to Save Time}

~ Make Freezer Meals~

At least once a month take the time to make a few freezer meals. It will take a couple of hours but will save you a lot more, especially when you are short for time. I have done it a couple of times and it has been so comforting to go out to the freezer and take out an already prepared meal when I know I am going to be having a busy day. I am determined to do it monthly. The Pioneer Woman has some great recipes and tips for making freezer meals apart of your life.

~Double Recipes~

While you are already making a meal and have all the ingredients out and pots and pans dirtied,why not make some extra for tomorrow's lunch or to freeze? My motto is "It's always better to have too much then not enough" Though I am sure someone else said it first. Pizza dough, bread, and granola are great foods to make in big batches!

{A Weeks worth of meals in Review}

So what does a week's worth of meals look like for my family of 7? I'm glad you asked!
(Disclaimer: This is if we are all well and nothing crazy comes up, we also are usually home in the evenings) Ice Cream is usually our go to dessert:)

Sunday( I usually take a break from cooking on sunday, everyone need's a day of rest, right?)
B: doughnuts
L: Panda Express
D: leftovers or something easy like spaghetti and salad(honestly if we have had a big lunch we will have a bowl of cereal for dinner:)

B: Strawberry Kefir Smoothie/cereal for those who won't eat fruit ;/
L: Salad for me/ turkey or PB and J sandwiches for the kids
D: Fish Tacos with homemade coleslaw( fish provided by my husband's mad fishing skills)

B: Breakfast sandwiches/that the kids can make themselves( scrambled eggs, turkey, cheese, mayo, english muffins)
L: Quesadilla's using leftovers from fish tacos
D: Chicken with Mustard Cream Sauce with rice and green beans

B: Pancakes/ made by Israel
L: leftovers
D: Venison Roast in the crockpot using this recipe:Tuscan Pot Roast with Cheesy Grits

B: Oatmeal/ cereal for my picky eaters who won't eat oatmeal:/
L: Leftovers from last night
D:Chicken Pot Pie and homemade peasant bread

B: Homemade Granola
L: Beet and Goat Cheese Salad for me/ leftovers for kids
D: Homemade Pizza

B: Homemade Waffles
L: leftover pizza
D: Couscous Stuffed Peppers with basil cream sauce/with Cumin Grilled Chicken

So that's what a well planned week's worth of meals looks like. There was once a day when the words menu planning weren't in my vocabulary but since having a very hungry growing family I have learned the power of these words. I haven't always stayed true to them but I hope to use them to their full potential this year.

Please let me know if this been helpful to you?

Do you have any practical goals for the year to keep you sane?

I would love to hear what helps you feed your family!

Giving my plans, dreams, goals and resolutions... to Jesus

Sunday, January 4, 2015

With the coming of the new year I have been making new goals, plans and resolutions along with everyone else. Practical goals and daily goals; necessary plans and resolutions if I want to keep my sanity as a wife, mama, teacher, homemaker, friend and servant of God.

 I also have been dreaming dreams for my family, for my self, for my marriage, for my home.

 I have been praying prayers; prayers that are very near to my heart, for loved ones to know Jesus, for all that has been lost to be restored, for my soul to be satisfied in Christ alone, for my attitude to be that of Christ's, for my fears and worries to be vanquished and for my life to make an impact for eternity. Daily prayers are being sent up also for strength and grace just to get me through the day and keep my kids all alive!

I have been asking God what he wants me to plan, dream, and pray. My life belongs to him and though I might have good desires for my life...he has the best!

 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

 As I am daily learning to surrender my life to him, giving him all my hopes and dreams I find that he gives me back more then I could have ever imagined or dreamed for myself. Believe me it's not easy; its painful and gut wrenching to give up what I want the most; what I think is best, but all the things I think I want and need in life pale in comparison to what he gives me. Though I might not understand or comprehend it at the time, his ways are always higher then mine and are not only for this life but for the life to come.

 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord." Isaiah 55:8

 You see we could never make plans or dream dreams for our lives as good as his, because he sees the whole picture; the beginning and end and holds are lives in his hands.

So instead of running ahead of God this year and telling him what I want to do and asking him to accommodate my plans and agendas...I am asking him to guide me, to pray through me, to dream through me...because it is only with and through him that I will succeed! Will you join me?

"Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." 
Proverbs 19:21 NIV

It's only when we give our everything to Jesus that he gives us what we really want, what we really need in the first place...true fulfillment in him.

"Won't you take all my dreams, all my goals ; blown away, but that's okay, your all I need." song "Blown Away"   written by my husband- Josh Harris

Looking back and looking forward

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Every year I love to look back and be reminded of all that has transpired.

Growth in my walk with the Lord.

Lessons that I have learned.

Prayers that God has answered.

Goals that have been accomplished.

The Bible talks a lot about remembering what God has done, because unfortunately we so easily forget.

"I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old." Psalm 77:11

"But they soon forgot his works; they did not wait for his counsel." Psalm 106: 13

" And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord has lead you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not."

 I don't know about you but I don't want to have to keep learning the same lessons over and over again, wandering around like the Israelite's for forty years; no thank you! I want to grow and learn from the testings and trials in my life, allowing God to refine and mature me. Lord please help me!

Not only do I want to remember what God has done in the past but I want to look ahead to what God has in store for the future; determining in my heart to persevere to know him more and make him known.

Not living off of yesterday's manna but seeking him continually each day for his fresh word and truth, never settling for just a good relationship, but always striving to know him better.

Here are some things I am looking forward to this year:

Knowing God more

Having an even better marriage

Seeing my kids grow and learn

Prayers being answered

Tackling new projects

I am excited to see what God is going to do! He is always doing a new thing  and exceeding my expectations. I am so thankful to be apart of his great kingdom!

Here are some of my favorite highlights of 2014:

                              Fun times at the beach

This Daddy and husband, who is always teaching, loving and laughing

                    This princess
    All these boys

Meeting new cousins
Seeing my brother and his family
The old and new generation
A little boys obsession with dinosaurs
This smile
Snuggling this sweet baby
Our bees thriving and our honey business growing

Seeing old friends
making new ones
                                                                                                                                                            family vacation     

                                                       seeing my kids talents emerge
                                                                Seeing the sun rise

I start this new year thankful, hopeful and humbled by God's grace and his mercy upon my life, I have done nothing deserving of anything that he has given me.

"The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy."Psalm 126:3  

I hope 2014 was a great year for you also and I pray that 2015 will be even better!

Have you looked back on the year and seen answered prayer? If not keep praying!

What are your prayers and goals for the new year?
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