peace of my mind

peace I leave you; my peace I give you… Jn.14:27


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Kinda like an old cellar

I’ve always thought the space under our basement stairs would be perfect for a second pantry. Like my Grandma’s fruit cellar, I could store canned goods in plenty as well as hide the lunch stash from after-school noshers, and keep extra water, paper and bulk products easily at hand.  It’s been a notion that wouldn’t go away, and my dear dad made it a reality this week.
Pantry in Progress 1
Here’s dad hard at work.
Pantry in Progress 2
Here’s kids hard at play. My kids love this classic book, and their favorite page is the last one where a similar sort of “bed” is shown. They had plans to sleep there that night, but my paper towels and ketchup bottles were calling.
Finished (sans paint)
Here’s the almost finished product.
It still needs some paint and a door, but the usable space is 100% improved from what it was.   The bottom 2 shelves will hold nine 5 gallon buckets each. I’m planning to get several empty buckets from our local deli and then fill them with pastas, flours and rice via a bulk order from the Health Food Coop in which I participate.

And not a moment too soon because the appetites on these boys are on the rise..and how!

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Calgon, take me away!

Salt

I’m working on thinning my schedule. Sometimes I get in the warped frame of mind that I can say yes to everything. The stress and complexity that, in turn, brings to our home quickly shows me that I CAN’T! Duh!

Here is a “recipe” for some lovely Candy Cane Bath Salts.

12 tall jelly (12-ounce) canning jars with lid and rings

2 4-pound cartons Epsom Salts (approximately 16 cups)
4 pounds sea salt or Kosher salt (approximately 6 cups)
1/2 teaspoon glycerin, divided
12 to 15 drops peppermint essential oil
12 to 15 drops red food color

Wash, rinse and dry canning jars.

Empty one carton Epsom Salts into large mixing bowl or batter bowl. Add 3 cups sea salt, stir well. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon glycerin and 6 to 8 drops essential oil. Mix well.

In second large mixing bowl, empty one carton Epsom Salts, and add 3 cups sea salt. Stir well. Add 1/4 teaspoon glycerin, 6 to 8 drops essential oil, and food color. Stir until completely blended. Color should be even.

CEO’s tip: use a heavy-duty stand mixer (such as Kitchenaid-brand) to mix bath salts easily. Set mixer to lowest setting and mix until color is even–but don’t try this with hand mixers or smaller stand mixers!

Holding canning jars at an angle, layer salts in jars, alternating white and colored mixtures.

Melts away stress…or causes it…if you agree to coordinate making some for the PTO Christmas store when you have no wiggle room in your schedule as it is. And then you get to the meeting…for which your dear mother in law agreed to watch your children-one of which has come down with a strange virus at her house…only to find they don’t really even need the help after all. And you realize that rather than go to the next PTO meeting, you will be far better off to give your MIL her peace and quiet, put the kids to bed early and use a big dose of the lovely Candy Cane Bath Salts yourself.

I’m not bitter…just thinning the schedule.

Candy Cand Bath Salts


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The Goops

The Goops they lick their fingers, The Goops they lick their knives;
They spill their broth on the tablecloth-They lead disgusting lives.
The Goops they talk while eating, And loud and fast they chew;
So that is why I am glad that I Am not a Goop. Are you?
Table Manners
By Gelett Burgess

I learned this poem in first grade and it has never left me.  I used to quote it often to my children, but forgot about it for a while.  It’s making a comeback!

Manners

What’s the big deal about manners?  They are sometimes pretentious and often uncomfortable–especially from a child’s point of view.  But when all is said and done, they are important. They amount to considering your neighbor before yourself.  They are in place on other people’s behalf.   Thank you Mr. Turner for an excellent reminder in Sunday School of how to “consider your brother before yourself” (Phillipians 2).

My children’s manners need bumped up a bit.  They deteriorate quickly and if we are not eating regular, family-style meals together, they go unchecked even longer.  So I’m poking myself to get back on the wagon and raise the bar.

Not exactly pertaining to manners, but in the same ballpark is a great post on teaching children how to set the table from Flip Flops and Applesauce.   Amelia enjoyed it.  She colored and cut this template out and has learned to set the table as a result.  I’m going to print a few more for the boys.

Every once in a while we do a theme dinner to pass the winter blah months.  Maybe a formal meal with lots of forks and extra saucers is in our future.  We’ll see…the best laid plans, ya know.  For now, “please chew with your mouth closed” and “sit with your bum on the chair” works for me.


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Behold the Butterfly

DSCN0264

Don’t these look like earrings on a rack? They’re not. They’re butterfly cocoons. I’ve tried several times throughout recent years to maintain a chrysalis.  But being a bit of a clod with delicate things, I’ve never managed to keep even the caterpillar alive.

My dear neighbor shared some tricks with us as they’ve been hatching Monarch’s all summer. Before they left on vacation, she brought over a cocoon that was set to open while they were away. She thought the kids would enjoy it and I was pleased that the hard part of keeping the darn thing alive had already been done.

We checked on the little green dangler every day. Finally on the fifth day, though we didn’t witness it’s reveal, we saw a beautiful Monarch in the netted bucket. The kids were pretty excited about it-especially Jack-Jack.
My neighbor mentioned that if we wanted to watch it a while that we should give it some honey water. Ok…honey water. Easy enough.

I put some honey water in a small ramekin and in the process of setting it in the bucket, Kevin watched as I bumped the butterfly right into the water (Clod!).  It wasn’t very pretty as the young insect laid in a puddle of honey water.  I tried to help it out only to find it wasn’t budging.  So a bit pessimistic, we went to bed hoping things would look brighter in the morning.

Nothing had changed by morning.  The butterfly was still in the ramekin and was now not moving at all.  I was going to have to tell the kids, and worse yet, I was going to have to tell my neighbor that we killed it!

I did tell the kids and they immediately took it outside and sadly buried it in “the graveyard”.  This consisted of Luke turning the bucket over on the butterfly and leaving it to deal with later.

When they got home from school that afternoon, Gabe went to check on it.  When he lifted the bucket, to all of our surprise the little Monarch flew away.  We didn’t kill the Monarch…it just had wet sticky wings.  Maybe it had wished we did kill it given the circumstances, but after a little perseverance, it made it through an entire chrysalis and a week at our house.  That is indeed a miracle.

DSCN0266

These photos are not of Monarchs.  They were taken earlier this summer at a butterfly house. Guess I was too caught up in the moment to get any of “the one that got away.”


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Plan of Attack

I took a few days off due to the full-on flu. I can’t remember the last time I felt so bad. My sweet husband called his dear mother who took our 3 littles for the day while my 2 older ones had school. I was literally in bed until 5pm. I could hardly move. Aches, chills, fever, cough, etc. I’m thankfully feeling better today. Hopefully I’ll be full strength soon. I keep praying I won’t go into labor until I am full strength. Can’t think of anything more miserable than going through labor with the flu! Enough sick talk.

On another note, I am finding this blog to be therapeutic in alot of ways. Sometimes people ask me when I have time to craft. My answer is always the same…it’s therapy for me! And how! This blog is fitting into that same category. I try to do it after the day is done and the kids are tucked in bed. It causes me to take stock in the day and often make plans for the next. I’m enjoying the posting process.

Thanks to those of you who are checking in. Drop me a note to say Hi! and by all means, stay away from that nasty flu bug.


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Feeding the Freezer

Feeding the FreezerMy dear mom came up today to help watch kiddos so I could feed my freezer. Although I was completely spent at the end of the day, I’m always glad when I put it into overhaul like this and get some plans in place for the “I don’t feel like cooking tonight” dilemma.

My list was a bit ambitious for one woman on her own, and I didn’t complete it all, but by the week’s end, I think I can tick it all off.

My go-to stash includes batch cooking across several food groups:

Protein batches included one 20 lb. turkey which yielded roughly 16 2- c. servings of chopped turkey for casseroles and soups plus dinner for that night, 3 lbs of pre-made meatballs and 2 meatloaves, 4 bags of “dump” chicken, 4 spaghetti pies, 2 quiche-in-a-bags, and I still have about 3 servings of creamy chicken shells to stuff.

During that time my bread maker was cranking out 4 large pizza doughs and a batch of Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls and I baked off 1 large and 2 small pumpkin quick breads.

I still want to make a cheesecake, muffins for after-school snacks, corndog muffins, crabcakes, and turkey pot pie filling.

I need more counters!
If you’ve done this style of cooking you know it’s the clean up that can kick your tail. I tried to keep up with the pots and pans, but I didn’t finish all the clean up till today.
Cinnamon Rolls in the making
This is my family’s absolute favorite breakfast treat…the Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls. The recipe can be found here. I roll them out and freeze them. Then I take them out the night before, thaw them in the fridge to rise, and they’re ready to bake off in the morning.  Yum!
Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls