Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Meal Plan Monday 12-29-08

Planning any New Year's Resolutions for the coming year? Mine will be to have my Meal Plan Monday post up on Sundays!

This is going to be a lean week. Lot's of freezer meals, digging down deep into the corners of the chest freezer.

Breakfasts for this week are going to be a little monotonous. Our hens are laying quite well still with no additional light in the evening except for about 1/2 hour after dark to get them all settled in. They have pretty good lives, I think their house may be warmer than ours! We will be having eggs and toast in some manner for this week. I've been baking up a storm! I think I've worked out the kinks of my sourdough bread recipe and I've made about 4 loaves in the last week.

Lunches are also going to be repetitive; tuna, egg salad and chicken salad sandwiches are on the menu for this week.
Basically, that leaves dinner. Here is our dinner menu for this week:

Sunday
Burgers on Homemade Buns

Monday

Crockpot Chicken and Acorn Squash Casserole

Tuesday

Pizza Night

Wednesday

In-laws are cooking for New Year's Eve!

Thursday

Spicy Turkey Stuffed Zucchini and Brown Rice

Friday

Crockpot Beef and Beans

Saturday

Roasted Chicken and Sweet Potatoes

Baked goodies for this week so far have been Pear Bran Muffins from Farmgirl Fare. I made them without the candied ginger and used agave nectar.

Have a wonderful week -Wonderwoman

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

This is the scarf Little T. made for Zoe -
note how her eyes always go in two different directions!

It's Christmas Day night and the family has settled down to a movie on the couch after two days of excitment, a Veggie Tales movie is just about all we can handle right now. Superman is napping and I can't tell if Gramma Butternut is snoring in the big comfy chair or if it's Zoe - our oldest Boston Terrier.

Last night we drove to Massachussets to spend Christmas Eve with Uncle N. and Aunt C. and their family. We have spent the last few Christmas Eve's here at home and felt like we wanted to be with family this year. We were expecting a night full of good food and laughter, what we weren't expecting was their awesome generosity.

Me, Aunt C. and Cousin N. pose like Barbies!



This year, I didn't do any real Christmas shopping. Seriously, none except for a few things for Little T. Superman and I didn't buy for each other or anyone else. I made few small things for the people closest to us, but that was it. I'm not into whining....but (no, that not a but I'm going to anyway!), our bills are all paid and up to date and that's all the money there was. We couldn't allow our family finances to be troubled for months and months buying gifts for one day. It's years like this that help keep in perspective the real meaning of Christmas - and for that...we are truly grateful.

I thought this was a cute phote of the men NOT wanting their photo taken, notice
Superman taking the photo in the mirror.


Back to what I didn't expect last night at Uncle N. and Aunt C.'s house.....their generosity was unbelievable. Not just them, but everyone who was there; Aunties, Uncles and Cousins. They showered Little T. with gifts! Clothes, games, earrings....she was excited....and very grateful. She's told us how much she appreciates their thoughtfulness. They were able to give her the Christmas that we couldn't. (teary eyed)

Aunt C. and the newest and cutest member of the family - Shortie. I think Shortie needs a more feminine name like 'Sassie' or something like that, don't you? She's too cute.

Here's Aunt C.'s mom holding Aunt C.'s baby Bailey. Bailey is a sweet little girl dog!


We got home at 2:30 Christmas morning. I'm not a late night person, but it was worth it to be with our loving and giving family last night.

This morning came real fast! I made coffee twice this morning because it didn't seem to work the first time. Gramma Butternut and Papa-rottzi snuck in last night when we weren't home and filled our house with MORE gifts for Little T (and for Superman and me too)! They spoiled her all over again. Many things she was in great need of like clothes. She's grown so much and still wearing the clothes from last winter. Gramma Butternut bought her some really cute outfits. They are always taking care of us.


"Officer, these are the people who broke into my house and LEFT gifts...."

They spent the rest of the day playing games and watching movies. We were all sort of out of it today from lack of sleep. We'll be back to our old selves tomorrow! I guess it wouldn't really be Christmas if we weren't all pooped at the end of the day!

Evie and her new Christmas bone.

Merry Christmas to all and to all....an early night! -Wonderwoman

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Meal Plan Monday 12-22-08

I know, I know....Meal Plan Monday posted on a Tuesday!? That's just the way it's working out this week.

I have been working on a very important project. At least it's very important to me. The Raw Milk Producers of Connecticut are in trouble, read here for more information. And because raw milk is an important part of my families diet - I just have to help them fight this fight. You will be hearing much more about this in future posts. Right now, if you know any Connecticut residents who believe in freedom of choice, please send them here to give me a hand.

The menu for this week is really not that exciting, even with Christmas being this week. We've spent most of our food budget on medicine for poor Superman who has been burning his candle at both ends for months now and his immune system finally quit on him. He is starting to finally feel better.

Sunday
B - leftover Sourdough Pancakes
L- Chicken Soup
D - Spinach & Feta Turkey Meatballs (I'm going to have to write this down the next time I make it, they are the most yummy meatballs ever!)

Monday
B - Eggs on Toast
L - Leftover Pizza
B - French Toast Casserole I will cook this in the oven for about an hour.
L - Egg Salad Sandwiches
D - One Skillet Sausage & Cabbage w/ Brown Rice

Wednesday
B - Leftover French Toast Casserole
L - T. B. D. (to be determined)
D - traditional Italian Christmas Eve dinner at Aunts & Uncles

Thursday

B - Sourdough Pancakes w/ Blueberry Sauce & Whipped Cream
L - Ham & Grilled Cheese Sandwiches w/ Coleslaw
D - believe it or not, we're having Pizza! Lot's of different ones, everyone loves pizza.
During Christmas Day we will also be having French Coconut Pie and Eggnog. The recipe for eggnog is absolutely terrific!

Friday
B - Leftover Sourdough Pancakes
L - T.B.D.
D - Sticky Chicken & Acorn Squash Casserole

Saturday
B - Omelets
L - Chicken Sandwiches
D - Not sure yet!


For more great menu ideas check out http://www.orgjunkie.com/.
Have a wonderful and very Merry Christmas!

-Wonderwoman

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Pinata for Chickens!




In case you were wondering what we do for fun around here....


Yesterday I made the girls their own fresh loaf of Eggshell Bread, see recipe below. Ever since they were little chicka-bay-bees, I make sure they always have something to do. This way they spend less time picking at each other. This is what we consider 'good flock management'.
So now I have a flock of spoiled brats on my hands and with the cold weather upon us, there is much less for them to do.
I like to read blogs about small farms and I finally found someone who shares my thoughts about keeping the girls busy. Over at Children in the Corn, they've made a chicken pinata for their girls out of a head of cabbage. Now, I know my girls...and if I give them cabbage or lettuce...they give me dirty looks. Like I said they're spoiled.
I explained to Little T. what I wanted to do and she suggested making them a round loaf of bread to use as our pinata. What a great idea! We went a step further with this idea and ground up their eggshells as an ingredient to keep their new eggshells tough as can be.

This loaf of bread kept them entertained all day! They'd jump and peck it and then it would swing around and spin and they'd try catch it and peck it again!


Here's our recipe for hours of entertainment:
2 1/4 tsp yeast dissolved in 1/4 c water
2 1/2 c flour
8 eggshells tossed into the food processor
1 egg
1 spoonful of honey (add to yeast mixture)
More flour as necessary if mixture is too wet

Dissolve the yeast in the water and wait until it's bubbly and then add the honey. In mixing bowl, add flour and yeast mixture and use your dough hook to knead. Add egg and eggshells and continue to knead. Shape into a round loaf and let rise for 2-3 hours. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Let the bread cool and harden overnight. The next day make a hole with a skewer through the loaf and run twine through to hang up for your chickens.


It was fun making this bread. Superman had to work late the day we made it. Gramma Butternut came to sit with Little T. while I went to a meeting with our local raw milk farmers (read here for the info on the fight in CT).


I knew that Superman would be home before me and that the loaf of bread was cooling on the counter right next to our regular loaves of sourdough bread. All of sudden it hit me while I was meeting with the farmers....I started getting cold sweats....thinking...I hope he doesn't slice open the loaf of Eggshell Bread thinking it's something special for him! Luckily, Little T. had told Gramma about the bread and she told Superman not to eat it.!

Enjoy the day -Wonderwoman

Monday, December 15, 2008

Quilling & Spa Night

Superman resumed his Monday night Bible class tonight which leaves the chicks in the house to do what chickies do....






Tonight was Nosies and Tosies Night - a mommy and me spa night that included a facial and a pedicure.

We filled the tub with hot water, a soothing foot soak and some lavender oil and soaked our tosies! Little T. loved it. We scrubbed and filed and polished our toes while our faces were covered with a cream masque. I actually took a photo of her with the masque on with a great big smile...but didn't have the heart to post it. I wouldn't want it to haunt her in her dating years!

Before our spa time, Little T. and I got to do some quilling. This is a great craft for kids to do and all you really need is a quilling tool like this and some strips of paper. I'm sure you can find patterns on line, but I happened to have a pattern in my file (I bought this pattern 12 years ago and it's the first time I've used it) from Lake City Craft Co., if you click on the link it will take you to a free pattern of a snowflake like the one we made.

Little T. made this one herself. She was disappointed because we used rubber cement to glue it onto paper and it looks shiny wherever the glue is. I told her we'd try again tomorrow and use Aleene's Tacky Glue. As you can see, this pattern is really simple: 6 open hearts, 12 S scrolls and 6 marquises. Check out this site for instructions for the shapes.

Enjoy the day -Wonderwoman

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Recorded Nutrition/Weight Loss Meeting

Superman records all of the LIVE meetings we present each week so that members of our group can watch it when their schedule allows. Many of them log on and watch it LIVE, others will actually join us in our living room to participate.

Last week, the topic was a review...but it ended up being much more than that. We've decided to share it not just with our members but with anyone who might benefit from it...which pretty much is everyone.

Keep in mind that I'm speaking to a group of people that you might not hear talk back to me. Click Here to watch the presentation in Windows Media Player.

For more info about this program, visit www.resetyourways.com. You can e-mail me from there if you have questions.

Enjoy your day -Wonderwoman

Meal Plan Monday 12-15-08

Today we did a cute little craft I read about over at this blog. We've made play dough like this before, but this is the first time we made ornaments out of it. All of us made an ornament for the tree. It was a lot of fun. I think I'll invite a few of Little T.'s friends over Friday night and make them as a group.
After dinner tonight we played a game of Spill and Spell. This is one of my favorite games, probably because it's the only one I can actually win. While we were playing, the firetruck sirens were driving the dogs crazy.

We realized that tonight was the night that the volunteer firemen dress up like Santa and the Elves to deliver gifts and candy to the children in town. We live in a pretty small town. They stop in front of each house and wait for the kids to come out.

I ran outside to take photos of the fire trucks and this John Deere tractor all decorated and looking festive. Little T. has always known there is no Santa, we taught her to enjoy it as any other fairy tale. Our Christmas emphasis is on Christ. (Christ - mas: with Christ.)



It's still fun for her to run outside and wave and greet these guys! However, it took me about three clicks of my camera to realize that I was standing on our front lawn alone! All of a sudden we're shy?!

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear? Santa all decked out and a bunch of volunteers! This nice guy gave Little T. a cute teddy bear (tax dollars at work) and both of us a candy cane.


Here is the menu for this week:


Sunday

B - Leftover Bacon, Mushroom, Tomato and Cheese Strata (this was so good!)
L - Crockpot Tomato and Rice Soup (I used the cherry tomatoes frozen from summer)
D - Breaded Chicken w/ Sauce & Baked Cheese and Green Bean Casserole

Monday

B - Spinach and Cheese Omelets
L - Leftover Tomato and Rice Soup
D - Cabbage Roll Casserole

Tuesday
B - Baked Oatmeal
L- T.B.D. (to be determined - usually leftovers)
D - Spicy Turkey Stuffed Zucchini (using jumbo zucchini shells frozen from summer) and brown rice

Wednesday
B - Leftover Baked Oatmeal
L - T.B.D.
D - Salad Night


Thursday

B - Bacon Quiche (see recipe below)
L - T.B.D.
D - Kung Pao Chicken


Friday

B - French Toast
L - T.B.D.
D - Spinach and Feta Turkey Meatballs with Pasta and Sauce


Saturday

B - Sourdough Pancakes, Blueberry Sauce and Whipped Cream
L - T.B.D.
D - Pizza Night


Bacon Quiche
8 slices bacon

1 c shredded Swiss cheese
2 T melted butter
4 beaten eggs
1/4 c chopped onion
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups milk


Cook bacon and crumble. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 inch pie plate. Place bacon and cheese in bottom of pie plate. Combine eggs, butter, onion, salt, flour and milk; whisk together until smooth and pour into pie plate. Bake for 35 minutes or until set.





For more great menu ideas check out
www.orgjunkie.com!

Enjoy the week -Wonderwoman






Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Documentary to Watch!

Here is a short preview of a documentary Superman and I watched the other night. It only applies to people who eat food...which of course is all of us! But not everyone wants to know about this information because then we have to respond. The best way for any of us to respond is with our dollars.



You can watch the whole documentary instantly on NetFlix or you can ask your local library to find a copy for you. I originally learned about this film over at The Christian Moms Outlet.

Enjoy the day -Wonderwoman



Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas Decorating Part 2


The decorating for Christmas is finally done...and about a week later than I intended to have it all up! Superman was less than enthusiastic about this process, that's putting it mildly. I can't wait until the day we have pull down attic stairs so that I can take care of getting the Christmas stuff up and down from the attic on my own.





We cut our tree from a family owned Christmas Tree Farm just about a mile from our house. This was not my first choice for farms because they do not shape or weed their trees. Many of the trees had bittersweet growing up inside them. We walked around for a while looking for the 'perfect' tree. I came to the realization this year, that all Christmas trees are perfect once you get the decorations on them. Our truck is out of commission for a while, so we put the tree in the trunk of Superman's car with the trunk open and drove real slow.

The trees are all up and the December calendar seems to be flying! Now come the Christmas cards. I've always made our own and the years we haven't sent any are because I never got around to making them!

Below are the photos of our trees. Enjoy the day - Wonderwoman
Superman and the cut tree.
The living room or formal tree.

The tree for miniature ornaments.

The school room tree.

The fruit and vegetable tree.


Sunday, December 7, 2008

Meal Plan Monday 12-8-08

Not sure what my deal is with making yogurt...I've successfully done it three times and messed it up royally twice. I've tried two different recipes, both use the cooler method which I find very appealling. This last time I used the recipe at Heavenly Homemakers and trust me when I tell you I know there's nothing wrong with her recipe (all of her recipes are very clear, concise and super yummy - the trouble is operator error), I'm pretty sure the mistake I made was that I used 2 quarts of milk and poured it all into a 2 quart container (after heating and mixing in the yogurt culture), instead of like the directions say: pour into a quart container. The yogurt was still very watering after 7 hours so I poured in more hot water and left it for another 12 hours. The final result was a VERY sour watery yogurt....so I'm thinking it was the huge amount of milk in one big container (?). I'm going to try again tonight.

We use raw milk from a local farm. It's like white gold. So here I am with 2 quarts of watery sour yogurt that I refuse to throw out. Sour yogurt is kind of like buttermilk so I figured I would try making some muffins to use up my failed yogurt.

This recipe for Cream Cheese Apple Muffins from A Simple Walk (a wonderful blog) is one that I've used - modified slightly. Here is what I did today:

4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 c agave nectar
2 eggs
1 c yogurt
1/4 c coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c spelt flour

1 c whole wheat flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 medium apples, peeled and diced


Soak the flours with the yogurt overnight. The next day, mix together cream cheese, agave, eggs, melted coconut oil, and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Add baking powder and soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg to the soaked flour and then stir in the liquid mixture. Fold in apples. (this time I also added cranberries we dried that do not contain any sugar or sweeteners). Bake for 35 minutes in 350 degree oven or until toothpick comes out clean.

The other muffins I'll be making tomorrow morning are Soaked Apple Cinnamon Muffins from The Christian Moms Outlet. The flour is soaking with the sour yogurt right now.

Sunday
B - Eggs & Toast
L - Leftover Pizza
D - Sticky Chicken, Sweet Potatoes & Brussel Sprouts

Monday
B - Baked Oatmeal
L - Turkey Sandwiches
D - 1 Skillet Sausage & Cabbage

Tuesday
B - Leftover Baked Oatmeal
L - T.B.D. (to be determined, usually leftovers)
D - Coconut Chicken Fingers & Acorn Squash Casserole

Wednesday
B - Breakfast Casserole
L - T.B.D.
D - Black Bean Burgers & Big Salad

Thursday
B - French Toast & Smoothies
L - T.B.D.
D - Chicken & Broccoli Fettucini Alfredo

Friday
B - Omelets
L - T.B.D.
D - Taco Salad

Saturday
B - Bacon Mushroom Tomato and Cheese Strata
L - T.B.D.
D - Pizza Night

I'm also going to try making sourdough bagels this week. Superman is getting really bored with our selections of breakfast foods.


For more great menu ideas check out http://www.orgjunkie.com/! Any yogurt making wisdom would be greatly appreciated. I'm going to keep trying so I can provide my family with good healthy yogurt - I just hope I don't end up making muffins every time - :)
Enjoy the day -Wonderwoman

Chickens' First Snow

The lake - partially frozen

What a surprise this morning when I woke up to a winter wonderland! I pretty much never know what the weather is going to do because we don't have TV. Usually my mom will call me and give me the weather report everyday, but she's been busy with her wreath making business for Christmas.

Whenever is snows, it's so quiet outside first thing in the morning....no birds...no cars...just peaceful quiet....and on this morning it was not any different...until -

...I opened the chicken coop door. New things are scary for people, nevermind chickens who are sure that death is around every corner. Our morning routine did not go as usual. Usually, I open the doors and they all come rushing out. This morning, a few stood by the door where there was no snow and the rest of them just peaked out in scary disbelief thinking, "where did the ground go?" (I narrate all the time for them - usually out loud.)

They pretty much are sure that all new scary things are my fault. Like the time I was carrying the Brown Umbrella of Death or the time I threw the Empty Feed Bag of Fright over the fence. Scary times!

"Where did my feet go?" say Butternut and Ixie

The ones who did venture away from the door only stood in the snow for a few minutes and then when one of them decided to fly like mad back inside - the others did too - squawking like mad.

This is the worst chicken feed she's ever bought!

It took four hours before they decided that there was no imminent danger and venture outside of their house.

"Mom, can you please OPEN the door?" Zoe & Evie on the back porch.

Even my herding dogs waited by the door to their house while I did the morning chores! How many days 'til spring?

Enjoy the day - Wonderwoman

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Christmas Decorating Part 1

If the decorating doesn't get done today - then it's not getting done this year! I'm writing this post early on Saturday morning....dreaming of all the things we'll do today. Superman is still sleeping. Little does that poor sleeping man know, he is going to work hard today! He'll be begging for his desk job by Sunday night!

Here's the to do list for today:
  1. Get boxes out of attic - there's about 20 or so!
  2. Unpack all boxes and put decorations in their place
  3. Put the empty boxes back in attic
  4. Cut fresh tree for living room
  5. Put up 3 artificial trees (kitchen, sunroom, schoolroom)
  6. Decorate all the trees

Doesn't sound like much. I'll just tell him there's only 6 things on his to do list today (smirk).

Little T. and I have done some decorating already this week. We cut greens and filled the outdoor containers and baskets as well as a little tea set we had in storage to use for our table centerpiece. She really enjoyed making the arrangements and mommy backed off and let her do some on her own. Credit is due to her for the bunny arrangement and the concrete urn below.





I just ran outside to take these photos, but before I did - I put the bacon in the oven to wake up the rest of the house. This works every time. Nothing says lovin' like bacon in the oven!

This day will be a whirlwind of decorating, I'll post photos of the house tonight when it's all done. How is your decorating going?

- Wonderwoman

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Crock Pot Turkey Soup!


While the Thanksgiving leftovers are all gone by now, there is one little thing to still be thankful for and that's turkey stock! We cooked two 15 pound turkeys this year, giving us plenty of stock to freeze.



Below is a recipe I adapted to make Turkey Crock Pot Soup. Usually the stock is beef and the meat is a pound of stew meat slice thin and normally we use rice instead of barley.


Crock Pot Soup

Leftover beef, chicken or turkey
3 c sliced carrots
3 c sliced celery
1 onion - chopped
1 c barley or rice - uncooked
¼ c chopped parsley
2 tsp salt
½ c lentils - uncooked
1 c adzuki beans -or your choice of beans
16 c total liquid - see note below

This recipe works with whatever you have on hand (I usually will add cabbage or any other veggies that need to be used up), but above is the bare bones of the ingredients and the order. Note: measurement of beans is dry, cook before adding to crock pot.

Layer your crock pot as listed above and don’t stir. Other note: the liquid part should consist of at least ½ of it being beef, chicken or turkey stock and the rest can be water. If you’re using beef as your meat, slice thin and cook before adding. Cook on low 10 hours or high 6 hours.


'Tis the season for soup! Enjoy -Wonderwoman

One more note (12-4-08): I saw the Smart Crock Pot (the last review on the page is the most helpful one) on sale at our local WalMart for only $20!!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Decking the Halls

While our families Christmas decorations are not put up yet, Little T. and I did get a chance to help our church family decorate the church today.


The theme this year is 'silver tea pots'. Tea pots were loaned for use as centerpieces and after our Christmas party, the loaners get to take the tea pots home filled with a beautiful arrangement.


One of the work tables.

C.J., is the person who collects most of the live greens to be used for the arrangements, wreaths, swags and other decorations. She collects just about everywhere....one of these years we're going to have to take up a collection to bail her out for trespassing!


Working with this group of talented ladies today got me thinking that I have a silver tea set somewhere in the basement and I think I know just the place to collect some greens of my own!

Now where are my pruners? - Wonderwoman