Thursday, June 30, 2011

Home Invasion!!!

I must confess I think I'm doing a better job at writing a homemaking blog than a homeschooling one, but anyhoo...

For those of ya'll who are on Facebook, I already mentioned that I'm going to have a large group of people in my house for the next 10 days or so during a semi-annual church conference. They come from out of town & instead of having them stay in a hotel, we host them here! It is SO. MUCH. FUN! Chaotic in many ways, but superabundantly fun and such a blessing to my family. It really causes you to grow in your basic humanity, forcing you to think of others & do your best to make them comfortable. Letting them into your lives, heart & home. For my children, these two times of the year (during Christmastime & Fourth of July) are the best times. They would rather have these people come invade our home and take over their bedroom than go on vacation or to Disneyland. Weird right? But they love having people over, and they help me out a lot to make it happen! (Just the other night, Caitlin helped me de-bone two chickens that I cooked in advance to have shredded chicken & some broth.) They know it takes a lot of work, but its worth every bit of extra effort!

We will be having about 26 people the first night, then about 22 for the rest of the time. Add our family to the mix and we'll have about 30 people in this house for 10 days! YIKES!!! Well, luckily I've done this a time or two and I'm getting the hang of this gig! Not to mention, the mothers of these other families are super-women! Two of them have 8 kids each, and the other has 3. All of them happen to homeschool their children (which just means they are equally as crazy as I!).

So, how do I do this? I know, I're wondering how we pay for this, why we do it (I sort-of answered that above), how we could possibly have the room for that many people? Well, we save up the money for it (No vacation? Eh, there'll be time/money for that someday. For now, we'd rather do this. Not to mention that the families that come usually do leave a thoughtful monetary gift when they leave. It is never expected, but nice when they are able to help out a bit. However, we would do everything in our power to do this even if they weren't able to help out.) We do happen to live in a pretty large house (there are 6 bedrooms, a few big ones, a couple smallish ones). But hey, as much as we want to have these people, they want to come. So, we try to get couples comfortable in beds and kids sleep on floors. We usually have a room for the girls, a room for the boys, and some of the smaller ones sleep with parents. This year, there will be a group of jr. high/high school/college boys in the living room. Their luggage will go under the stairs. And they will be in the living room because we usually stay up late each night, and they will be among those allowed to stay up a bit later. The younger kids will be in bedrooms.

As far as the practical matters, I shop well. Not with coupons...I haven't learned the art of couponing. But I do find things (especially meat) when it's on sale and buy in bulk to freeze it. Like the other day, I got chicken quarters for $0.49/pound. (Yup that's 49 CENTS, people!) For 30 pounds of chicken, I paid less than $15.00!! (Note: I RARELY pay more than $2.00/pound for meat. So, I don't eat super expensive cuts of meat, but we eat very well. I make a lot of roasts, or shred meat for tacos. There are lots of things to do with cheaper cuts of meat! I will post some ideas/recipes in the next couple weeks.) THAT, my friends, is how you shop when you will have 30 people in your house for ten days. lol... I shop at the Mexican markets. Psshhhh, what? I shop at Costco. I shop at Stater Bros. I shop wherever I know I will find those deals!

Okay, so I won't get into recipes today, but here are a few photos of my house as I'm preparing. Four grocery stores later (twice to Costco), here are how the cupboards & fridges are looking. (Oh yeah, I just plugged in the third fridge to give us some breathing room, so I can actually be able to find stuff in the fridges!).

A plethora of new "Tupperware" containers.

Storage for big items, rice, beans, rice cooker, etc...

More storage containers.

Bread (3 loaves for one day's french toast...I hope it's enough!) 
Croissants, sheepherder's bread, marshmallows for a 
jello salad & for Rice Krispy Treats!

Kitchen Fridge...pretty much every crevice is filled. 
You have to make SURE the door is shut! lol

Upper Cabinet. Snacks & some cereals.

Main Pantry.

It's easier if you get organized in advance. 
Baking supplies together (I have moved the p.b., by the way). 

Canned fruit, oodles of noodles, misc things.

More canned goods & some other misc goods.

Freezer #2, crammed full. I had to open it slowwwwwlyyyy! 
Didn't get knocked out by frozen chicken! Whew!

Fridge #2 door, crammed full of stuff.

Fridge #2 main area. I've gotten to move some of this out of there to the third fridge.   **And we usually go grocery shopping once or twice during the week!** 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Stay-at-Home Mom Myths...Busted! :)

I really appreciated this article. Myth #3 is my favorite. People say this to me all the time. It's an excuse. I'm no more patient than the next guy/gal (probably less), but we were born capable of raising our own children (I'm sure there are a few exceptions...such as a mom with a severe disability or a single mom who has to work...don't get CRAZY with me here--I KNOW there are some exceptions!). But generally speaking, I think we've just become accustomed to a culture where staying at home is just not good enough. And the money thing. I don't EVEN wanna hear it. We do not make a huge amount of money. Sometimes we barely get by. But if we can do it...YOU can do it. If you want to stay at home with your children, YOU CAN! I'm sure you've heard the saying, "Where there's a will, there's a way." Hey, we know this is true. When we want that big-screen t.v., there's a way. When we want that designer purse, there's a way. Just sayin'...

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not telling you that YOU SHOULD stay at home. I'm just saying that if you want to, THERE IS A WAY! :)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Your Kids Will Beg You For More!!! :)

You just had a BBQ, but you know how it goes. You buy enough buns for everyone to have one (or two or three, maybe more for good ole Uncle Joe), but then not everyone wants a bun. Then you're left with a TON of extra hamburger or hot dog buns, and no hamburgers or hot dogs. Been there, done that? ME. TOO. A lot of times I'll throw them in the freezer, but often times I'll just use them up right away (especially when the freezer is loaded with a summertime fave, like ice cream & popsicles!).

A few things I've used them for:

~Cinnamon-Sugar Bread: Either use the toaster to make toast and sprinkle on the cinn-sugar, or if you are like me, you place them on a large baking sheet, butter them, sprinkle them with the cinnamon-sugar & broil them for just a minute or two until they are a perfect golden-brown and the sugar caramalizes! YUM!

~Quick Garlic Bread when I'm in a hurry. Just butter them, sprinkle with some garlic powder & maybe just a smidge of garlic salt (since the garlic powder doesn't have any salt) & broil for a few minutes.

~Mini Pizzas!!! This is what I'll show you today! I love making these. Actually, USUALLY I just put all the ingredients out & let the kids make 'em. It's true what they say; when kids MAKE the food, they are much more likely to eat it. This is a FABULOUS time to include fresh veggies. It's pizza! They will eat them (even my pickiest eater who despises veggies--she's a total carnivore--ate this in a pretty reasonable time frame).


*Lay buns on a baking sheet.

*Put ingredients in bowls on the counter (we used two types of fresh squash, bell peppers & basil from our organic garden, along with black olives. For other ingredients, just think about your favorite toppings that you usually order, and don't be afraid to try new ones. I'm thinking about garbanzo beans for some reason. I might try to find a pizza that would work well with those. Also, you DON'T have to use pizza sauce. It costs more so I never buy it. Spaghetti sauce works fine (I normally use, I sure wish they were paying me to say that! lol). Also, I don't usually have Mozzarella cheese on hand, but I always have Cheddar and Pecorino Romano, so I use those and they are amazing! You might try drizzling with a tad bit of extra virgin olive oil & sprinkling with fresh-cracked pepper & a tiny bit of kosher salt (you don't need much salt because the pre-made sauce will have plenty).

*Let the kids come in and build their very own pizza.

*Pop in the oven to bake for a bit (and the last minute or so, place the pan on the top shelf and broil it). I find that sometimes when I broil from the beginning, it doesn't always get cooked through how I like it, so I bake first, then broil just to get the cheese perfectly crisp! Mmmmmmmmmm!

Serve with whatever you like. Last night we had fresh fruit on hand. We had cantelope & raspberries from Costco (nope, not organic, but those pesticide-filled berries sure tasted good), along with some fabulously organic blueberries (probably the best I've ever eaten) that my hubby & kids picked themselves from Soffel Farms in Redlands! If you haven't been there, you should check it out. You can eat while you pick (I'm pretty sure with the amount Matthew stuffed in his mouth, we definitely made out like bandits!) and it is just a fun experience for the kids & you come home with amazing fresh, healthy fruit!

Here are the pics I took of our dinner from last night! I hope you'll have fun with the kids & your leftover buns next time! :)

Lay the buns on a baking sheet...yes, the yellow buns were a different brand! lol

Our toppings from last squash, peppers & basil and some
canned black olives...

We used spaghetti sauce, cheddar cheese & Pecorino romano cheese...

All ready to go into the oven...

All done! Ready to eat!!!

Our yummy "dessert" of sorts...fresh fruit! (okay, okay, I have to 'fess up...
Art and I did have the last piece of triple-berry pie later on for our
dessert. ;)