Sunday, September 16, 2012

Canning Ring Pumpkin

My friend posted this darling canning ring pumpkin on her Facebook page the other day from Simply Klassic Home...and I knew I had to have one:).


I have plenty of old canning rings, so this was a perfect project because I had everything on hand!
You will need:
canning rings {I used 14 regular mouth rings} rusty ones are perfect!!
string
glue gun
small twigs or cinnamon sticks
fabric scrap or burlap for the leaves





Just tie the canning rings at the center and form into a pumpkin.
Insert the twig/cinnamon sticks in the center and glue, add little leaves that you have cut out...at that is it!
I think it took me under 5 minutes.
This is a GREAT kid craft, too!

It is a lovely little Fall decoration for this time of the year:).
Visit Kristin at Simply Klassic Home for more ideas!!

~Julia


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Reducing Food Waste at Home...and a Menu Plan

~My apologies to those of you who saw this post...it disappeared for a bit because I wasn't quite finished!
A little somebody around here accidentally hit "publish!"

Are you starting to crave hot bowls of soup or chili, homemade breads, and other comfort foods?
Fall seems to bring that out for me.
I have been doing fairly well on our food budget, which can be hard because we really try to not eat many processed foods.
I am not perfect, but on the whole, I make most everything from scratch and try my best not to waste a morsel.
Fresh fruits and veges can be expensive as we head into the Fall/Winter months, so I am freezing as much as I can!

This week, I planned our menu around good old Pinterest ideas.
My Farm Recipes  board is full of wonderful recipes.
I am trying to branch out and separate recipes by category, so you will find other food related boards on my page, too:).

Here are 5 days of breakfast, lunch, and dinner ideas for the week.
I tried to have the meal plans follow each other in a way that everything is used up and there is NO WASTE.
Waste not, want not...right?
A 2004 study actually found that 50% of all food harvested in the U.S. never gets used.
Read about it HERE.
I think that is sad, and believe me...I am guilty, too.
Most Americans waste about 14% of their food which adds up to about $600 a year!
To help combat the waste, I am planning more carefully how I use food.
I can cook a chicken and have chicken noodle soup one night, chicken salad for lunch the next day, and any leftovers could easily be frozen for later use.
There are many ways to reduce waste, but it does take planning.
Here are a few ways to start reducing food waste in your home:

1. Have an organized fridge so that things don't get pushed to the back.
 Label leftovers and date them.
Clear plastic or glass containers work well because you can see what is inside.

2. Stick to small portions on your plate...you can always go back for seconds.

3. Make dinner your use it up meal and make casseroles or soup with veges that are just starting to wilt.
Smoothies or making popsicles with bruised fruit is a great idea. Just cut off the bruised portion. If fruit is moldy it shouldn't be used.

4. Your fridge should be set at 39 degrees to prevent spoilage.

5. Freeze leftovers and label. Make sure to have a day when you use them up!

6. Menu plan to use up meat, pasta, other veges for a couple of days.
Think outside of the box!
Plan about 5 days worth of meals and be sure to make them conducive to your schedule.
I like to leave about two days for leftovers.

7. Buy local at Farmer's Markets...the food has not had to travel for 7 days to get to the shelf.
Better yet, plant a garden!

8. Here is my biggest tip: If your kids don't eat all of their lunch or dinner, package it up to use as a snack later.

So, here are 5 days of meals easy on the budget, healthy, home cooked, and waste reducing:).
Some of the recipes I have altered slightly to include leftover vegetables.
I really feel like the taste is not compromised at all...and you are using everything in your refrigerator and saving $$!

Just click on the pictures for the recipes!
Day 1
Breakfast
Banana Oatmeal Smoothie
quick Chiquita Banana Oatmeal Smoothie Recipe

Lunch
Banana Roll Ups
{Using up the bananas:)}
school lunch ideas
Sliced Apples

Dinner
Pork Chops {from our freezer}


Easy Oven Roasted Potatoes
{Save leftovers for soup later this week.}


Roasted Parmesan Green Beans
{Save leftovers for soup later this week.}


Snacks

Five Ingredient Peanut Butter Granola Bars
5 Ingredient Peanut Butter Granola Bars 


Day 2

Breakfast
Bacon, Cheddar, and Tomato Bake
{I made a batch of ground pork sausage and used it in place of the bacon and then saved some for tomorrow's dinner.}


Lunch
{Leftovers from Dinner Last Night}

Dinner

Beef and Bean Enchilada Casserole
Save some ground beef for tomorrow night...I usually double the amount because it saves time and is just as easy to make 1 pound as it is 2 pounds.
{I also put in any leftover pork, diced, from last night's dinner}.

Bean-and-Beef Enchilada Casserole

Salad with This Dressing...
homemade ranch dressing.

Mustard Glazed Carrots
We are harvesting carrots from the garden:).
{Save leftovers for soup later this week.}


Snacks

Healthy Chocolate Muffins
Chocolate muffins with greek yogurt, cocoa, and applesauce, 58 calories each.

Day 3

Breakfast

Honey Pumpkin Oatmeal with Toast


Lunch
Spicy Tuna Melts
Spicy Tuna Melts
Served with Fruit


Dinner
Chunky Vegetable Soup
{Add sausage from Day 2's breakfast, and any carrots, potatoes, or green beans left over from dinner this week!}


Spinach Pesto Grilled Cheese
I have a lot of spinach in my garden right now and just put spinach leaves on the sandwich and added my basil pesto.
If you would like to make your own pesto, here is a great recipe.
Spinach Pesto Grilled Cheese Sandwich- again with the bread! I need to learn how to make paleo bread! This looks so good!

Snacks
Homemade Wheat Thins 
Homemade Wheat Thins, extremely easy and cheap, plus they taste better than the original!

Pumpkin Smoothie
{Using up the pumpkin puree from this morning.}
Saving it for fall... Pumpkin Pie Smoothie  1/2 banana,  1/3 cup pumpkin puree, 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt , 3/4 cup vanilla almond milk (or vanilla soy milk), few shakes of pumpkin pie spice, 4-5 ice cubes fall

Day 4

Breakfast
Egg and Spinach Quiche Cups
{Using more spinach from the garden.}
Great idea for breakfast once school is back in session.
{Make Homemade Granola for tomorrow.}

Lunch
Good ole PBJ's, fruit, carrots {from the garden} and Ranch dip from Day1.

Dinner
Crockpot Chicken Tacos
{I also baked 4 more chicken breasts in the oven to use for tomorrow.}
Crockpot Chicken Tacos by mychocolatetherapy. Recipe from Tasty Kitchen: Only 3 ingredients, a package of taco seasoning, boneless chicken breasts and a jar of salsa. Use the leftovers for tortilla soup! #Chicken #Tacos #Chicken_Tacos #Crockpot #Slow_Cooker #mychocolatetherapy


Salad with Ranch Dressing from Day 1.

Snacks
Herbed Garlic~Parmesan Popcorn
herbed garlic parmesan popcorn

Day 5

Breakfast
Homemade Granola


Lunch
Chicken Salad on Homemade Buns
{Buns from last night's dinner.}

1 cup mayo
1 tbs. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. pepper
4 cups chopped cooked chicken
1/2 tsp basil
2 stalks celery chopped
1/2 cup chopped apples {opt.}
1/8 tsp. seasoned salt

Mix well and serve on buns.

Homemade Buns

Another pinner says: "My absolute favorite buns in the world, the only ones I ever make...and they're ready in 40 minutes!

Served with carrots and Ranch dip and Homemade Wheat Thins

Dinner
Tortilla Soup
{Using leftover chicken from last night's dinner.}

South of the Border Sandwiches
{I substituted chicken from last night in place of the turkey, and used the buns from lunch.}


Served with Salad and Ranch Dressing.

Snacks
Homemade Carrot Raisin Cookies
{Using up those carrots.}
carrot cookies


Hope you enjoy!
Sorry to not have a grocery list available, but many of the items should be things that we already have on hand.
I also tend to double all of the recipes for my family of 6...I have growing boys who eat for three people!

Happy Fall!
~Julia




Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Keeping It Cozy...Country Living Blog Awards

I have a sweet bloggy friend who has the blog Keeping It Cozy.
She writes beautifully about her life, home renovation projects, and has some wonderful food recipes to boot!
Her little farm house is simply amazing and the projects that she and her husband have tackled together are inspiring:).
Keeping It Cozy has been nominated for The Country Living Blue Ribbon Blogger Awards, which is so impressive as there were thousands of entries!!
Visit Keeping It Cozy ...I am sure my friend would love to have you stop by and say hello:). 
I am positive you will leave inspired by her creativity:).
You can also vote for her until Sept. 17th by clicking on the icon below !!

I love supporting Mom's who are reaching out with their talents and endeavors...all the while being at home:).

~Julia

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Summer Wrap Up

Summer is closing fast and we are so looking forward to Fall.
I love it!
Autumn is so glorious and my favorite season of the year.
The crisp weather, warm sweaters, slowing down to enjoy nature studies and Fall walks in the woods.
My time has been so limited at the computer lately with the County Fair and all of our kids showing there, and then all of the busyness with planning and easing into school.
I don't mind being booked up for a while, but look forward to a slower pace afterwards.
We have been contemplating what activities are most important and necessary this year.
I know I go against the norm on this, but do kids really need to be involved in absolutely every opportunity presented to them?
I think being too busy creates a nervous and less creative child.
So we pick only activities that we feel better our kids and pray about what things are important to their development.
Having down time is good.
I always tell my kids that you can hear God in the quiet.
When life is loud and hurried, it is harder to listen. 

So here is a summer wrap up in pictures for you:).
Hope your new Fall beginnings are going well!
It feels like a fresh new start to me!
 The flowers in the field are still gorgeous.


A little Fall project I am working on...

 Lily showed Ruthie at the Fair and did so well!



 Will showing his pig.
He ended up with a Reserve Grand Champion and his pig was #2 at the auction...which fetched a great price.



The Fairgrounds created a small village with a historic school house {that used to be near where we live} and other historic homes from the valley.
It is just charming!

Here is the little store where kids can buy penny candy and huge 50 cent dill pickles.


Jack and his friends enjoyed the clown show which played next to the 4-H Dog Area about 5 times a day.
We spent 5 days at the Fair and I think they watched it 20 times without tiring.

 Buying MORE penny candy with the cousins:).

 Notice the speed....Jack was running to tell me he needed $1 for a root beer at the "saloon."






 Tim showed so well even though his pig was sooo loud!
He really wanted to go back to his pen and screamed and squealed.

 He loved the Fair.
 Goofy girls after a long day of herdsmanship.
 Having FUN!
 Tim showing his pig Billy.
Will talking with the judge during one of his classes.
 Fair rides are the best with friends!

 Lily and Tim participated in the Greased Pig Contest.
I love this one...
 Here are the piggies all greased up:).
 The kids get a little instruction on the rules...
 And then they are off!
 Lily ALMOST had the pig, but it slipped through her greasy hands.
 Instead, her friend caught the first one and brought it to the pen.
She cheered him all the way and was so excited when he won 1st place that she forgot to try and catch the remaining 2 piggies!



 This has been a summer of fires.
Don't worry...this was just a farmer burning his field next to us.
It totally improves the soil:).



 The kids and I got a little closer to watch...it was pretty exciting.


The boys have loved the weather to fly their RC planes. 
We've only had a few crashes:).




Hope you are enjoying your summer wrap up and the beautiful Fall weather that is making its appearance.

~Julia
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