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Friday, April 30, 2010

Door to Door Organics 4/29/10


We got our D2D box today and here's what we found in it.

5 bunches red leaf lettuce - very large. I had 2 to share with a friend :)
2 avocados
1 package grape tomatoes
2 cucumbers
4 lemons
1 bunch of beets
1 bunch of turnips
6 barlett pears
6 gala apples
6 cara cara oranges
1 bunch of bananas
2 large onions

That's a lot of produce when it's all pilling up on the table! I've never done anything with turnips other than put them in homemade chicken soup. Since I made my soup today and these arrived after it was finished, I'm trying out the below recipe. I also have never done anything with beets other than cook them whole. I'll let you know how I like the recipes below.

In response to my last D2D Organics purchase, we loved the pasta made with the greens.

On to the recipes :)

Recipes was taken from here. While I love avocado's, I will not be putting them in my salad. I am also going to caramelize my walnuts in maple syrup and a dash of salt for my salad. Regardless, here's the original recipe.

Beet and Goat Cheese Arugula Salad
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis
Prep Time:20 minInactive Prep Time:10 minCook Time:12 min
Level:
Easy
Serves:
4 servings

Ingredients
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons shallots, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon honey
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 medium beets, cooked and quartered
6 cups fresh arugula
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries or dried cherries
1/2 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cubed
3 ounces soft fresh goat cheese, coarsely crumbled

Directions
1. Line a baking sheet with foil. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
2. Whisk the vinegar, shallots, and honey in a medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in the oil. Season the vinaigrette, to taste, with salt and pepper. Toss the beets in a small bowl with enough dressing to coat. Place the beets on the prepared baking sheet and roast until the beets are slightly caramelized, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Set aside and cool.
3. Toss the arugula, walnuts, and cranberries in a large bowl with enough vinaigrette to coat. Season the salad, to taste, with salt and pepper. Mound the salad atop 4 plates. Arrange the beets around the salad. Sprinkle with the avocado and goat cheese, and serve.



Next up, I'm going to make a Beet Green Gratin recipe by Alton Brown. I have my friend, Tonya Prim to thank for telling me about him. I like his style and his food! Here's the recipe!
Beet Green Gratin
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown

Prep Time:25 minInactive Prep Time: hr minCook Time:50 min
Level:
Easy
Serves:
6 to 8 servings

Ingredients
1 tablespoon butter
12 ounces sliced mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound beet greens, cleaned and picked
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
4 egg yolks, beaten
1 cups ricotta
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup crumbled crackers (recommended: Ritz crackers)

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the mushrooms and garlic and sweat. Add the beet greens and mix well. Remove pan from heat. Season with salt and pepper.
3. In a separate bowl, combine the egg yolks, ricotta, Parmesan cheese, and salt. Combine everything and put into a lightly oiled 9 by 11-inch baking dish. Top with the crumbled crackers and bake for 30 minutes covered. Uncover and bake for an additional 15 minutes.



Next up is the turnips. I found this recipe on recipzaar. It sounds divine ! I've fallen in love with leeks ever since I got them from my first D2D order. I'm bad about pureeing soups because of the mess. If someone has a hand held little blender, feel free to pass it on to me if you don't use it anymore. I just might love you forever. lol! On to the recipe which can be found here.

Cream of Potato, Turnip and Leek Soup
SERVES 6 -8 (change servings and units)
Ingredients:
1/4 cup butter
8 cups thinly sliced leeks (tender parts)
1 lb turnip, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch chunks
1 lb potato, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch chunks
5 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups milk or light cream

Directions:
1. Melt butter over medium heat and add the vegetables; stir to coat.
2. Reduce heat to very low, cover and cook the veggies, stirring occasionally, for 30 to 40 minutes.
3. Add chicken broth. Increase heat to medium, cover and simmer 45 minutes, until veggies are utterly tender.
4. In batches, puree soup in blender or food processor.
5. Return soup to pot; add 1 to 1 and ½ C milk or light cream, thinning to desired consistency.
6. Season to taste with salt and pepper.



Last but not least, for the turnip greens. I am going to cook my greens from the turnips just like I did my collard greens not long ago. I used this method when I made my greens the last time. Dave seems like a pretty good cook :) This recipe is so simple and very flavorful!



So there you have it. I'll post on here with my next D2D order on what I've received and what recipes from this time I like. I love experimenting and I love it even more when it's a recipe we fall in love with.

Happy Eating!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Meal Plan Friday!

Ok I changed the name around a bit but you still get to see what we're eating :) Here goes for the next two weeks. This will start when hubby gets his check tomorrow. I'm no longer putting my meals in order by day of the week. I've found it's easier to make a list of meals and shop for those; then on hard days, I can pick something easier to make. Here goes:)

1. Homemade chicken soup for my Jon.
2. Chicken on salad greens w/soup.
3. Chicken tacos with all the toppings..
4. Goulash with salad and garlic bread - mmmm!
5. Pizza on the grill with salad.
6. BBQ chicken, and potato salad.
7. Fried chicken fingers, mashed potatoes and salad.
8. Fish, baked potatoes and coleslaw.
9. Frankfurters (from Turtlebee Farms) tator tots and veggie.
10. Breakfast for dinner using sausage from Turtlebee Farms and eggs from a local farm.
11. BLT's - bacon from Turtlebee Farms. Maybe some homemade guacamole and chips too.
12. Eating out - giving mama a break!
13. Crockpot roast, carrots and onions served with mashed potatoes.
14. Tuna noodle casserole with applesauce.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Live Footage of Gnowfglins muffins, our garden and more:)

Since it takes so long to upload movies here on this site, I've decided to upload to youtube. Here's what you see in the movie:)

1. Muffin batter (soaking). I got the recipe from Wardeh at Gnowfglins. You can check her out here.
2. Sourdough starter. I got this recipe from here. I'll let you know how that turns out. It will be a few more days.

Notice Matt's Golden Grahams and then our organic cereal we purchased from Aldi.

3. Our started plants - all doing very well! Yeah!
4. Jon's bean plant that we transplanted outdoors. How fun! We're transplanting another one today.
5. Our boxes of lettuce. They are slowly coming up. Yeah! Even after shooting this video yesterday, the lettuce has gotten bigger.
6. Strawberries - this will be the first year we get fruits from them.
7. 10x10 foot garden for tomatoes, herbs, etc...
8. Our compost bin we got from Sams Club.
9. Our new little herb gardens and plans for more!



Fast forward to now - the muffins are great! They are very moist and flavorful.

We have lots of work to do outside and will def. be making more muffins as well. Thanks Wardeh!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Scrumptious and Super Easy Sweet Potatoes and Squash


I was having a very hard and busy day a few days back. I was going to have hubby grill some meat but that still left sides that needed to be made. I had several sweet potatoes and a small winter squash I had gotten from Door to Door Organics. I quickly washed them all, cut them in half and seeded the squash. I threw them all in the crockpot, skin side down, poured in a bit of water and turned it on high. I just love to be able to throw something in the crockpot and have it ready hours later.

I checked on it a few hours later and it was nice and tender. IT was about an hour before diner time so I adjusted my crockpot to the warm setting (you could also turn it in low). Everything was perfect! Talk about an easy side! Our baby Joshua could not get enough.

One thing to keep track of is the water. You don't need much at all, just enough to have about an inch or less of standing water in the bottom. This helps steam the veggies and keep them from burning on the bottom. Another thing to mention is that I actually had these layered on top of each other. It really doesn't matter if they are 1 or 2 layers thick :)

Happy Eating!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Look What Tomorrow Brought




When my Lyshie was a baby, I wished away the time. I wished she could hold her bottle sooner, walk sooner, learn to dress herself sooner. That time has come and gone like the tide brings the waves to the sand and takes them back out again. Tomorrow brought my baby girl into learning to become a young lady. What will tomorrow bring you?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Little Toes and Dandelions

Picking Dandelions.


Picking grass.


Using grass as a bandaid.


My sweet boy and his baby blues.

Dandelions - Five Iron Frenzy

In a field of yellow flowers,
underneath the sun,
bluest eyes that spark with lightning,
boy with shoes undone.
He is young, so full of hope,
reveling in tiny dreams,
filling up, his arms with flowers,
right for giving any queen.

Running to her beaming bright,
while cradling his prize.
A flickering of yellow light,
within his mother's eyes.
She holds them to her heart,
keeping them where they'll be safe,
clasped within her very marrow,
dandelions in a vase.

She sees love, where anyone else would see weeds.
all hope is found.
Here is everything he needs.

Fathomless your endless mercy,
weight I could not lift.
Where do I fit in this puzzle,
what good are these gifts?
Not a martyr, or a saint,
scarcely can I struggle through.
All that I have ever wanted,
was to give my best to you.

Lord, search my heart,
create in me something clean.
Dandelions
you see flowers in these weeds.

Gently lifting hands to heaven,
softened by the sweetest hush,
a Father sings over his children,
loving them so very much.
More than words could warrant,
deeper than the darkest blue,
more than sacrifice could merit,
Lord, I give my heart to you.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Earth Day Give Away




My daughter and I had so much fun planting more seeds today. I planted 28 pepper seeds and will hopefully have 100% yield. Ok even 50% would be cool. She planted 72 seeds consisting of Impatiens, Marigolds and Zinnias. As you can see above, she had a lot of fun doing this.

There are a lot of sites out there for kids activities for earth day. I'm only going to give you one link. The below link is celebrating the creator, not the creation. Let's keep that in mind as Earth Day approaches. I do feel as Christians we do need to take care of what he has given us in any way we can or know how. :)

http://www.christianpreschoolprintables.com/EarthDay.html

In lieu of the coming Earth Day 2010, we're going to have a giveaway. We will send you the leftover seeds of what we're using this year and a few from last year. So far the mix includes marigolds, basil, a few organic pepper seeds and more. There's the possibility there may be some other goodies in there as well. We will pay for first class shipping to you. Sorry, only United States residents.

How to enter:
1. Post here and tell me your favorite gardening tip.
2. For a second entry, post this giveaway on your blog.
3. For a third entry, post this giveaway on your facebook page.

To the winner of this give away, we'd love to see pictures of you and your child planting these seeds together as well as updates on growth if possible. If not, we understand.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Door to Door Organics 4/15/2010





Here is what we got in our box today!
1 ea. Avocado
6 ea. Bananas
6 ea. Bartlett Pears
1 lb Yellow Onions
1 ea. Mangoes
1 ea. Strawberries
2 ea. Red Bell Peppers
1 ea. Celery
0.33 lb Garlic
1 ea. Green Leaf Lettuce
3 lb Yams
1 lb Zucchini
1 ea. Broccoli Rapini
2 ea. Avocado
1 ea. Red Russian Kale
Box Cost: $39.00

Every time we get our box it's like Christmas! We love seeing what yummy foods have arrived. In this box I have received something I've never tried before. It is the Broccoli Rapini. I've found several recipes online but the one that really looked yummy to me was the Broccoli Raab Pasta. You will see the recipe below.

When I first started getting Door to Door Organics boxes, I had never made kale before. Here is the recipe I love for Potato Kale Soup. I had also never had chard. I make a harvest pot pie with that. My sil gave me a turkey recipe for that which I'll be posting soon. I think the turkey is ok but I have made a change and made it more like a beef harvest pot pie instead. Very yummy!

If you're interested in purchasing from Door to Door Organics and live in one of the below states, visit doortodoororganics.com and let them know Amanda Kaake referred you :) Yes we do get referral credit. It's so nice to know where our food comes from and that it's organically treated.

Door to Door Organic Locations:
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Kansas City
Maryland
Michigan
New Jersey
New York
Pennsylvania
Virginia
Washington DC


BROCCOLI RAAB PASTA
Ingredients:
1 large onion thinly sliced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch broccoli rapini (raab)
olive oil
romano cheese
red pepper flakes
salt
1/2 pound penne pasta
red wine vinegar

Directions:
Put on a large pot of water to boil. In a skillet, coated with olive oil, heat the onion over high heat. When onion is browning in spots, add the garlic, red pepper flakes and salt to taste. Toss briefly, then add the raab and a splash of water. Lower the heat and cook until tender, stirring frequently. Meanwhile cook pasta. Taste the raab and adjust the seasonings. Add a generous amount of olive oil and a splash of vinegar. Toss with the drained pasta and top with romano cheese.


Keep an eye out for new posts and recipes from the foods we make with our Door to Door organics box!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Agave Lemonade


The above picture was taken from here.

thought I"d make some healthier lemonade today with the raw agave I had on hand. Unfortunately, it did not taste as good as I thought it should. My kids loved it though. Maybe I'll keep trying to make it better. Next time maybe stevia or xylitol? We'll see.

Lemonade with Agave
Ingredients:
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 cups water
5 tablespoons agave

Directions:
1. Mix all ingredients and pour over ice.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Parenting with a Purpose - Part 2



Before we get started I do need to say this. I will be the first to say that I am not perfect, neither is my parenting. With the Lord's help and guidance, we'll continue to grow and learn more about parenting our children the Lord's way. That said, get a cup of tea and take your time going through the following.

So, goal #1 - Raise Your Children in the Admonition of the Lord:

“Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates: That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth.” (Deut 11:18-21)

This verse talks about teaching your child about the Lord every waking moment! I won't make this a discussion about whether or not I think you should homeschool or send your child to a Christian school. I will say this; if you send your child to a public institution where they do not teach the ways of the Lord (and worse yet, teach against it), how much more do you have your work cut out for you in teaching your children of the Lord. Your child is in that situation more waking hours than you will see him/her. You must be on guard, teach your child and battle for their souls even more so because of the negative impact their schooling is having on them.

I also encourage you to watch the dvd, Raising Godly Children in an Ungodly World by Ken Ham. We have a few more complimentary copies in our home if you're interested. Just ask how you can receive your own copy.



Goal #2 - Teaching Your Child To Love and Receive Love:

1 Corinthians 13 tells us all about love and how to go about that. I won't list them all here. When I was a preteen and young adult, I thought love was more fuzzy feelings than anything else. That was one of the many reasons I chose to stray from the protection of my father, away from my God, the church and everything I had been taught. I didn't learn till I was working with my (now) husband's mother that love is an action. How so glad I am to her for speaking those words to me while we were working together.



Goal #3 - Obedience:

Here is what the Lord does for us as his children.

Hebrews 12:6
Because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.


Here is what we must do for our children.

Ephesians 6:4
Fahter's, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

1 Timothy 3:4
....one who manages his household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity.

Proverbs 19:18
Discipline your son while there is still hope, And do not desire his death.


I can't begin to tell you how many times I've seen parents say "oh he'll grow out of that". When a child is allowed to willfully disobey at the toddler age, and is not disciplined for it, there is no reason for him to "grow out of it". Take heed with this verse. Otherwise, you may very well wind up saying when your child is a preteen "I just don't understand why Johnny is this way". The one thing I encourage parents to do is find something that works and stay consistent with it. And for goodness sake, don't take advice from other new parents. It's just a disaster waiting to happen. There are many good parenting resources out there. We've found that we don't stick with one, but instead mesh many together. Here's a few good ones to look into.

Raising Kids God's Way
Love and Logic - I don't think this should ever be used on it's own. Too much lacking.
Raising Godly Tomatoes
To Train Up A Child - controversial for those who don't truly understand it.

Make sure your child knows what your boundaries are and what happens when they cross them. Make sure to parent in love, not out of anger. Glaring, yelling or striking out in anger is never and will never be ok in parenting a child. If you struggle with this, go to the Lord and your spouse. Be in prayer about this and find a way to get out of this rut. It's sometimes great to have a discipline chart or list that spells out disobedient behavior and the consequences. That way when a child is out of control, it gives mama or dad time to cool off while going to get the list. Since it's in writing, it keeps you from making empty threats.



Goal #4: True Happiness and Contentment

True happiness and contentment is not found in this world, but in the Lord alone. We can try to grasp for happiness but our human attempts always fail. How many people do we meet that are not content with their looks, their financial status, their house, car, etc... What are you not happy with today? I'm sure we can all find something. Let's learn to be content with what the Lord has given us and happy where he has put us. This is definitely one of those times where actions will speak much louder than words. More often than not, a discontent child has a discontent parent. Is that something you want for your child? If not, go to the Lord today in prayer and petition to change your heart and mind. To get it on the right focus so that in any circumstance, you can be joyful.

Phillipians 4:11-13
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Luke 3:14
them. Then some soldiers asked him, "And what should we do?" He replied, "Don't extort money and don't accuse people falsely—be content with your pay."




Goal #5 - To recognize sin and ask for and accept forgiveness.

Another goal for children is that they have the ability to live in fellowship with God, through Biblical confession of sin, to support daily growth in the spiritual life.

When I was younger, there were several movies and children I personally knew that taught me about "white lies". How many times have you heard that phrase? It's kind of like the "grey area". The bible makes it clear to us whether what we're doing, thinking and acting on is sinful or not. There is no grey area; we are either sinning or we're not. How very important for our children to be taught what sin is and how we can ask for forgiveness of those sins. How we don't have to live under guilt for our sins after we have confessed them because they were already bought at a price and paid for - they are done and over with. Do you have guilt from past sins today that God has already forgiven you for? Instead of letting Satan have power over you with that guilt, go to the Lord and ask him to take it away from you. Guilt can be a nasty thing Satan throws up at us. We can sometimes trick ourselves into thinking other people think ill of us because of our own guilt when in all reality, that's just not true. Teach your children to accept God's amazing forgiveness of sin the first time they ask for it. May it not be a cloud to hang over them and overshadow then for years to come. This can also tie in with teaching your children to forgive others.

1 John:1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Acts 2:38
And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

John 3:16
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Mat 6:14-15 (NIV) "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But, if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."

Col 3:12-13 (Jer) You are God's chosen race, his saints; he loves you, and you should be clothed in sincere compassion, in kindness and humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with one another; forgive each other as soon as a quarrel begins. The Lord has forgiven you; now you must do the same.




Goal #6: Respect for Authority

I have heard it said that if a child is not taught to respect and obey their parents, they will not respect and obey those in authority over them. Some examples are teachers, their boss, and worse yet, their God. How very true this is. The bible talks about a wife being in submission and to the husband, to love his wife like Christ loves the church. When a child sees this biblical role being played out properly, what a great foundation from them to learn from! The one thing we've been teaching our pre-teen lately is that she may not agree with our decisions or understand them: she doesn't even have to like them, but she does have to respectively obey. What a huge difference alone this has made in her life and her response to us.

Colossians 3:18-25
Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.




Goal #7 A Biblical Worldview
Many people today have no idea that there is indeed a biblical worldview and a secular worldview. Most have been taught or been around a secular world view all their lives and don't even realize it. Put very simply, a biblical world view is taking what the bible has to say as your first and foremost authority, and getting your thinking from there. A lovely ministry called Answers In Genesis (answersingenesis.org) is a fantastic resource on teaching you how to view the world from biblical glasses. They say that for every question you may have, you can get the answer from Genesis chapters 1-11. Where did Cain get his wife? Why do we have a 7 week day? Where did marriage first start? Did dinosaurs live with humans? And so on and so forth. When you teach the bible as the authoritative word of God, the answers come much more simply. Not only that, but we are better equipped to test and approve the will of God. What a wonderful tool this will be for your children.

Romans 12:1-2
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will."

Psalm 32:8-10
"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you and watch over you."
Do not be like the horse or the mule,
which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
or they will not come to you.
Many are the woes of the wicked,
but the LORD's unfailing love
surrounds the man who trusts in him."

Philippians 4:4-7
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."



I'm sure there are many other things we can cover but to recap, here are some important areas in parenting you'll want to purposely cover.

1. Raise your children in the admonition of the Lord.

2. Teach your children to love and receive love.

3. Teach your children obedience.

4. Teach your child contentment and happiness.

5. Teach your child to recognize sin and ask for forgiveness.

6. Teach your child to respect authority.

7. Teach your child to see the world through biblical glass, not secular glasses.


As human parents, ,we will never be perfect. However, we have an amazing God who will always hear you when you pray. He can help you through your latest struggle in parenting your children. Don't let the excuse of not being perfect keep you from purposely raising your children for the Lord. Instead, realize that you need the Lord's help in raising your children. I can hear some people mumbling under their breathe, "yeah, I've seen Christian kids go wrong all the time. What makes you think my kids have a chance?" "Kids these days are up against too much, I can't compete with that", etc... You know what, yes, the bible speaks of the world getting more wicked as we get close to the end. Yes our kids are up against a lot. That is why now more than ever we need to battle for their souls. There will come a time when your children will be old enough to make their own decisions - and some will stray. However, I cling to this verse as I'm sure did my mother. You see, I was a prodigal child that returned back to the arms of my mother and father - and my heavenly Father.

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.


I encourage you to be aliens of this world so that others may see a difference in you and your family and want to know the Lord. It's easy to walk the road the rest of the world walks, but that road will only lead to eternal destruction. Stand firm for the Lord! Our children are given to us for such a short time, do all you can now while you still have the chance. Whether you need to brush up on or implement one or all of these areas, take your time and bring your requests to the Lord. Maybe focus on one area per week or month.

Happy Parenting!

Springtime in Michigan

Here is what spring looks like here in Michigan at our home. There's so much more but the sun is not out and the ground is very wet. I'll take more pictures later. Click on the pictures below to see a higher resolution and bigger picture.

Chives and mints I divided. There's one space like this on both sides of our back deck. Given time, it will be huge and lovely:)


What a beautiful tree blossom. Matt planted this one just last year!


This is the third year I've had this lilac bush and the first year it's had buds on it. I'm so super excited! Lilacs are my favorite flower!


Here are shoots from a peony I transplanted from our homeschool plant exchange last year. I'm so super excited!!! I didn't think it was going to survive. Just look at it now!


The first birds nest for the year. They tried making this nest in my wreath that is hanging on my front door. I don't think so!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Looking for a dentist?


Picture taken from here.

Everyone (or most everyone) knows how picky I can be when it comes to dental care. A couple years or so back I went to the dentist for my first filling. It was horrendous! I decided not to have pain meds because of a personal preference and boy did I have pain! They were working around an exposed nerve. Since then I had been too scared to go back to have the rest of the work done.

Fast forward a year. My husband kept telling me we should go see Larry Bush, a friend, fellow Christian and as you would have it, a dentist. I kept telling him I did not want him seeing into my mouth. I also didn't want him seeing me in pain because of not using pain meds. Well, come to find out, they use a laser. Hmmm, something worth checking into right?

A couple days ago I went to see Dr. Larry and was more than impressed. He cleaned out my old fillings, opened them up and with the laser I had virtually no pain. There were a couple times it was getting a bit uncomfortable, but NOTHING like before. The best thing, I was also in no pain at all afterwards like at the previous dentist. I'm very impressed with the state of the art equipment they use, how well everything is explained to me and how Dr. Larry respects certain decisions I make (like not using fluoride) whether or not he agrees with it. I feel like I'm treated like a human instead of another number.

So, there's my little plug in for Pairadocs Dental Group in Flint. If you'd like to find out more about my new beloved dental group, please visit the below link and tell them Mandi Kaake sent you :)

http://www.pairadocsdentalgroup.com/

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Gardening tips on a budget

Matt planting our $5 tree. It's 3 years old now and is gorgeous!!!



A variety of basil panted in a container.


Our lovely calendula. This is a family favorite grown from seed.


Cherry tomatoes.


Squash


Another variety of basil. That was just a bit of what I grew a couple years ago.


Bean plant.


Lovely lavender!

Many times I've wanted to plant a massive garden or have several plants I could simply not afford. Not just that but other things such as mulch, weed blankets and more. I hope you find the tips below as helpful as we have. Please feel free to add your own gardening tips.

1. Purchase trees at the end of the season. We've gotten a few trees for $5 and $10 at the end of the season. We planted them and they've done just fine! Talk about a huge savings! You can also do this with bulbs and other plants. :)

2. Use newspaper for weed barrier protection instead of the weed blankets. You'll want to do this fairly thick; anywhere from 5-10 sheets if you can. Top that with mulch or stones/rocks.

3. Check craigslist! You can find free bricks, landscaping stones, mulch, compost, manure, and top soil if you're willing to do some work to load it up and take it home.

4. Ask friends for divisions of their plants. Every spring, many plants can be divided up and given away. Why spend $10's of dollars on plants at a nursery when you can get a free division or start from a friend?

5. Save seeds. You can find out online how to save your own seeds year to year. Seed Savers Exchange is a great place to start! Thanks Beka for the tip!

6. Like little Jon did below, find items you can use to make your own greenhouses. You can even use the tops of plastic containers (dome shaped ones) and more. People discard those every day.

7. Compost! Your garden will love you for it and so will your wallet. You can purchase a compost bin for as little as $35 at Sams Club (this is what we do), or make your own compostable area. There's tons of information on how to do this online. YOu can also make compost tea which is great plant fertilizers.

8. Capture rain water. A rain barrel would be ideal if you can find one cheap enough to make yourself. If not, when it rains, set up a couple buckets with a rock on the bottom so it doesn't blow over. Collect your rain and use it to water your plants. Nothing could be simpler. We all know that plants grow much better and larger with rain water than they do with our city water. Plus, if you live in the city, you don't have to pay for the water you're using to water your plants. :) You can capture a lot of water very fast under the downspout.

9. For starting plants, the easiest way I've found is to purchase a box of pellet refills instead of the whole seed starting kit. Then use whatever you can to cover it (plastic) for a greenhouse. We got 36 pellets at WalMart for under $3. No mess and no fuss.

10. I have yet to try this one but it looks like a great idea! Save and dry orange peels. Sprinkle them around plants. This is great for insect repellant.

11. Grow in your garden what your soil prefers. While we'd like to plant some things that just won't grow in our soil, we generally don't. It's much easier and cheaper working with our soil and growing what it likes. Herbs are definitely the easiest for us to grow. Plus, most of them grow back each year - perennials. They don't require much care, grow like mad and give us a nice supply year after year. There is one area nothing grows in. This is where I put stepping stones, a bird bath and other lovely items. Working with your soil is always much easier and cheaper than trying to change it.

Remember your plants essentials:
Water
Sunlight
Food

Three very basic things to help your plants not just survive but thrive.

Want to have even more fun? Start a plant exchange with your friends. Last year our homeschooling group hosted our first ever plant exchange. We're doing it again this year because of the fun we had last year. We not only exchange plants but seeds, garden supplies, decor, etc...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Jon's bean plants and our homemade greenhouse




Kids just love to garden, there's no doubt about that. I was trying to figure out what to do with Jon this year to get him more excited about gardening and being more hands on. I decided on bean plants since they grow quickly - which is key in getting younger children more excited about gardening. If it takes too long to grow, you might as well hang it up.

The next thing I needed to figure out was how to make things simple as well as little mess as possible. Because of that and cost, we decided to pick up some soil pellets from Walmart. We got 36 pellets for under $3! Not bad.

We next picked up some organic bean seeds. We'd only need 3 for what we were doing.

Here's what we did.

1. We found a plastic container we didn't care much about and put the pellets in there to rehydrate. Jon loved watching this part!

2. Next, we took 3 bean seeds out of our package (we got organic from WalMart). We took one seed at a time and pushed it down a bit into the pellet, but not too far.

3. Next, we cut out the top of a 2-liter bottle and placed that over the pellets in the container upside down. This created a mini greenhouse.

4. We placed this in front of our sliding glass door window and just waited. Only water when it starts getting dry.

As you can see, our plants are doing great. This may be the start of me starting plants and selling them in the future. Hmmm, well, let's not get ahead of ourselves eigh? lol! Have fun gardening with your children.

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. ~Confucius

Parenting with a Purpose - Part 1


While on the way home from the homeschooling convention, Matt and I were talking about all different types of things. One of them being parenting. Without delving into this yet, as a Christian parent, answer yourself this question.

What is successful parenting?

From a world view, successful parenting has been described as some of the following.
1. My child having a great paying job.
2. My child having a complete college education.
3. Rasing a child who is able to adapt to and in this world.
4. Raising a child who doesn't make the same mistakes you did.
5. Raising a well rounded child.
6. Raising a child who always puts others first.
7. Raising a child who serves his country in uniform.

I'm sure there are many other ideals out there of what it means to raise children successfully. I will even go so far as to say the above list in itself is not bad. One thing I do need to note up front is that no parent will ever be perfect. That is not what I'm striving for here. Ok, now to move on. This does bring me to another question you need to ask yourself.

Do you have any goals for raising your children?

I've heard it said many times for many areas of life, "If you do not have any goals, you will get nowhere very fast". This is true with finances, weight loss, education and many more. The same can be applied to parenthood. Look around you, maybe even in your own home. How do you parent your child? Let's look at some examples of how some parenting is done.

1. Pure survival. These parents can't wait till their children go back to school from summer vacation. In the evening, they feel it's all they can do to get through dinner, extracurricular activities, etc... When children their children are babies, they wish they were toddlers. When they are toddlers, they wish they were elementary age. They never truly enjoy their children in the then and now. They're always looking forward to the time when their child is just a bit older.

2. The Unparents. Ok, maybe I made up this word but it works for what I'm trying to convey. I see the unparents as those who are just around. They help provide for their children financially as well as emotionally. They just kind of drift through life making sure their children possibly eat well, take care of themselves physically, etc... The child pursues only things that interest them at the moment and are never in any way directed.

3. The spiritual parents. Please again keep in mind I'm addressing Christian parents. These are the parents who take their children to church - either regular or not. They practice main holidays and even may pray at meals times and hard times. These parents know it's important to have God in their lives as well as their children's lives so they do not end up in hell and because it's just a good thing to do. They believe everything has a meaning in life, and love worship time because it gives them an amazing inner feeling. Life to them is all about a spiritual journey.

Here are just a few exmpales of Christian parents today. Do most of them realize they're parenting without purpose? I do not think so. A good majority of parents truly want what's best for their child. They just don't know how to go about it. I've always said our first child is our biggest experiment. How so very true! Then you learn your second, third, fourth and other children are yet different from the first - more experiments.

I'll leave it there for now and give you time to ponder and pray. More to come soon ;)