Thursday, March 31, 2011

Two Delicious Bread Recipes

I am sharing two bread recipes today -- a tasty quick bread and a yummy yeast bread.

This first recipe was requested by one of my readers, who is a friend IRL.  My Mom used to make this tasty bread, because it was the only way my father would eat zucchini!  :)  I'm sure this will become your new favorite way to eat zucchini, too! 

Zucchini Bread

3 eggs, beaten
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup oil (I recommend coconut oil)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 cups zucchini, grated
1 cup chopped nuts
1 cup raisins
2 cups chocolate chips
1/2 cup shredded coconut

Mix together eggs, sugars, oil, sour cream, and vanilla.  Add dry ingredients and mix well.  Stir in zucchini.  Scrape bowl to be sure batter is thoroughly mixed.  Add nuts, raisins, chocolate chips, and coconut and combine thoroughly.

Pour batter into 2 (9") loaf pans sprayed with Pam or other cooking spray.  Bake in oven pre-heated to 350 degrees F for 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Chill before serving.  Freezes well.


While visiting this fascinating blog this week, I discovered this amazing recipe!  Of course, I couldn't wait to try it!  It turned out beautiful and delicious!

Honey Butter Oat Bread


6 cups warm water
3/4 cup honey
3 TBSP Saf Yeast
3 cups old fashioned oats
1 stick butter, softened
8+ cups whole wheat flour (until you have a very thick batter)

Mix together with dough hook.  Soak this mixture for 20 minutes to allow the flour to hydrate. This will help it knead up quicker and prevent you from adding too much flour.


3 TBSP sea salt
flour as needed  (I added flour until dough cleaned sides of bowl)

Knead mixture until dough is elastic. Allow to rise in a warm location until doubled (about 1 hour). Divide into 5 sections, shape into loaves and then place in greased bread pans.

Allow to rise again until doubled or just cresting over the top of the pan. Place in an oven that has been preheated to 375 degrees and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Remove loaves from pan as soon as they come out of the oven to cooling rack to prevent soggy loaves.

Have you baked anything yummy lately?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

All in a Day: Housecleaning

Today the All in a Day bloggers are discussing how we tackle housecleaning, which can be a never-ending job with a large family!

We have used various systems through the years.  At times, we have had a big cleaning day one day a week.  At other times, we have divided up the jobs/rooms over the course of a week and cleaned certain areas each day. 

Before we moved, this was the system we had in place:

Monday:  We all cleaned our bedrooms.

Tuesday:  We deep-cleaned all the bathrooms.  I also focused on laundry and ironing.

Wednesday:  We thoroughly cleaned the kitchen, and I let the children sign up for the detail jobs of their choosing, such as cleaning out the microwave, wiping down the white cabinet fronts, scrubbing out the sink, etc.

Thursday:  We cleaned the family room, dining room, and foyer.

Friday:  We cleaned the bonus room/school room.

Saturday:  We tackled the porches and van, and sometimes weeded or raked or did other yard jobs, as needed.

To maintain, the children and I straightened or quick-cleaned our assigned jurisdictions each morning throughout the week. 

Disclaimer:  This looked great on paper and worked well when we followed the plan!  Of course, it didn't always work out as perfectly as it sounds here!  

Since moving, we have been cleaning one day a week -- on Friday afternoon or Saturday morning.  Each child cleans their assigned jurisdictions, and I clean mine.  This is working for now. 

I have used the idea of Jurisdictions, or areas of responsibility, for the last twelve or thirteen years. The idea is to not just give your children little jobs to do, but to give them whole rooms or areas of jurisdiction, to be responsible for cleaning and maintaining throughout the week.  This teaches them responsibility and has proven to be more effective and efficient than just assigning random jobs.

One thing that has never worked for me is the rotating job chart!!  They take a long time to set up, and I could never keep up with whose turn it was to do what!  With so many children, it just became too complicated!  It was definitely more work than it was worth!

A workable system needs to be relatively simple to create and keep going, or it will soon fall by the wayside.  It also needs to fit where your family is Right Now.

There are two other tools that I use from time to time, as needed.  One is the Master Job List, usually written on a legal pad.  I go around the house and write down every job I can think of that needs to be done, and then the children sign up for jobs, one at a time until they are all taken.  At times, I've assigned point or monetary values to the jobs, which increases motivation exponentially! This is a great way to quickly tackle a house that is a mess.

The other tool is Individual Job Lists.  I usually write these on index cards.  I write each child's name on top and each job I want them to complete on the card.  When all of their assigned jobs are done, they can have Free Time!  This is as simple as it gets, and it works!

When all else fails, the best idea is to invite guests over for dinner!  Amazing how that motivates a good old-fashioned house cleaning!!!   ;)

I don't know about you, but I'm eager to discover how the other All in a Day bloggers manage to keep their homes spic and span!!  ;)  Check out what they have to say:

Carrie @ Our Full House

Christi @ Where the Creek Meets the Lake

Elizabeth @ Yes They're All Ours

Kathy @ Kathy Mom of Many

Kristy @ Homemaker's Cottage

Lori @ Happy Busy Mama

Monica @ Natural Mama

Renee @ Bakers Dozen

Please leave a comment sharing your system, or link your blog with us. 

Here's how it works:

1. Copy and Paste this code to add the All in a Day banner to the top of your post.

2. Copy and paste the list of "All in a Day Bloggers" into your post.

3. Put your name and a direct link to your blog post into Mr. Linky, below:

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Are You Happy or Joyful?

I've been thinking a lot about Joyfulness this week, partly because that was the topic of our Ladies'
Bible Study lesson on Sunday, and partly because this week has brought chilly, rainy, dreary weather to our normally sun-soaked area, a nasty stomach virus to a daughter, a cancelled picnic in the park, and a disappointing change of plans to sons, all of which have cast a gray shadow over our normally sunny home.

So, I have been rehearsing the many truths which were shared on Sunday:

  • Joy is an attitude, not an emotion.
  • Joy is an outward response to an inward relationship with God.
  • Joy originates with our salvation.  (Luke 10:17-21, Psalm 21:1, Psalm 35:9)
  • Joy is nurtured in the presence of the Lord.  (Psalm 16:11)
  • Joy is watered by time in the Word.  (John 15:11, 1 John 1:4)
  • Joy will be visible to the world around us.  (Psalm 95:1-2, Luke 6:23)
  • Joy is found in serving others.  (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20)
  • Joy is created out of sorrow.  (Psalm 30:5, John 16:20)
  • Joy is perfected in tribulation.  (James 1:2, 2 Corinthians 7:4)
  • Joy is our strength.  (Nehemiah 8:10)

You know how it is after you are taught important truths -- a test is right around the corner!   It seems we are rarely ready when that "pop quiz" comes!  So, I decided I needed some extra studying!  ;)

First, I looked up the verses which we studied in class, and then I looked up the definition of Joyfulness in my Power for True Success book:

Joyfulness vs. Self-Pity

"Joyfulness is the bright spirit and radiant countenance that come by being in full fellowship with the Lord."

I am reminded of the cheery sunflower, which always turns its face towards the sun.

"Joy is the component that, when added to a trial, provides the strength to endure it." 

"For the joy of the Lord is your strength."  -- Nehemiah 8:10

I was also reminded of this blog post that perfectly illustrates how Joy comes through serving others.  I read it again, even though I have never forgotten it since my first reading.  Such a woman who is able to so completely die to self and spend her days . . . her life . . . serving others with such joy is simply unforgettable. 

"Who among us can be counted on for happiness?  It is those who never take self into consideration."  -- Amy Carmichael

Then, quite unexpectedly, I unearthed this treasure on the difference between happiness and joy:

“If happiness is gained through service to others and in living your life in a way that is pleasing to God, then it is a noble thing. However, happiness is not an end in itself; but you will notice that many people treat it as such. The search for happiness as an ultimate good appeals to, and cultivates, supreme selfishness in the heart. It shuts out affections, tramples on the most sacred rights of others, and often fills families with great pain.” -- Karen Santorum in Everyday Graces.

Many people believe they have the "right" to pursue happiness at all costs, even if their choices damage or destroy the lives of others.  Obviously, this is the antithesis of Biblical Joy.

"Joy is proof to the world that God can fully satisfy the human heart."

"In thy presence is fullness of joy: and at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore." -- Psalm 16:11

What about you?  Do you have the Joy of the Lord in your life?  Or do you struggle with Joy? 

"Joy is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of Christ." -- William Vander Hoven

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

All in a Day: Meal Planning and Favorite Quick Meals

This week we are talking about menu planning and our favorite quick recipes.

Through the years my menu planning methods have varied.   I have used all of the following plans at different times:

  • Once a month cooking
  • Monthly menu planning
  • Weekly menu planning
  • In-store menu planning (based around what's on sale)
  • No planning -- which translates into "Help!  It's 5:00 and what on earth am I going to make for supper tonight?"

Currently, I am trying to jot down at least 28 meal ideas before I go to Sams/Costco for the month.  I may or may not make those meals!  But, at least I have the ingredients for them!

Sometimes, when you are not in the mood to make what you've planned, or don't have time to put a more time-consuming meal together, or are missing an ingredient, or forgot to thaw your meat, or are exhausted from a day of running around, you just need a simple, no-brainer type of meal that you can throw together quickly.  What recipes do you turn to at such a time?   Here are a few of my favorite go-to meals.

Lemon-Pepper Chicken

I buy the big bags of chicken breast cutlets from Sams/Costco and keep these on hand.  Then, I just pull out at least one chicken breast per person and place them in a couple 9x13 baking dishes.  I mix equal parts lemon juice and melted butter, usually about 1/2 cup of each, and pour over the chicken.  Then, I sprinkle generously with lemon pepper seasoning and pop in the oven for about an hour at 350 degrees F.  While the chicken is cooking, I make a pot of rice and steam some broccoli.  My family likes to sprinkle lemon pepper seasoning on the broccoli, too.  I also make this meal in the electric skillet, which is even faster, but more hands-on, than baking in the oven.


While I enjoy making spaghetti sauce from scratch with Italian sausage, and lots of cut up veggies (onions, garlic, mushrooms, bell peppers, zucchini, etc.) that I saute in olive oil, keeping jars of pasta sauce on hand ensures a quick meal when needed.  All I have to do is open a couple jars of sauce and heat (I usually add a good shake of Italian seasoning); cook the noodles (whole wheat when possible); open up a bagged salad mix, and I have a nice dinner that fills up everyone and is generally well-liked.

Cheese Quesadillas

I keep tortillas and shredded Mexican 4-cheese on hand for a quick meal when needed.  I just sprinkle tortillas with cheese, spread butter on the outside and heat on the griddle (or in a skillet) until cheese is melted and both sides are browned.  If I have some on hand, I might add chopped chicken, onions, etc. I usually serve with sour cream and salsa and orange slices for a quick, popular dinner.  If I have it, I will open a bag of salad mix to round out the meal.

Taco Soup

I've been making this quick soup recipe for over 20 years for a simple lunch or supper.  I brown a pound or two of ground beef along with a chopped onion, and drain.  Then I add a few cans of diced tomatoes (could use Mexican tomatoes with chiles), a couple cans of kidney beans, and a couple cans of corn.  (Do not drain.)  I stir in Taco seasoning to taste and let simmer for at least 15 minutes.  I ladle the soup in bowls and let each person garnish with their choice of crushed tortilla chips, shredded Mexican 4-cheese, and sour cream.  If I have it, I add some orange slices and/or a tossed salad to round out this meal. 

Emilie's Noodle Bake

This recipe from Emilie Barnes has been a staple for about 17 years!  I just cook some pasta (spirals, shells, elbows, etc.); drain, and pour back into the pot.  I add a couple pounds of browned ground beef, a couple jars of pasta sauce, a container of cottage cheese and some mozzarella cheese.   If I'm in a big hurry, I warm this on the stove and serve.  Otherwise, I dump into a 9x13 baking dish and top with shredded mozzarella cheese and bake for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees F.  This is best served with a tossed salad and maybe some garlic bread for a wonderful meal!

These are my favorite go-to recipes.  Now stop by the other All in a Day bloggers to see what they have cooking!

Check out the other All in a Day Bloggers...

Carrie @     <>       Our Full House

Christi @   <>  Where the Creek Meets the Lake

Elizabeth @   <>   Yes They're All Ours

Kathy @  <>   Kathy Mom of Many

Kristy @  <>   Homemaker's Cottage

Lori @  <>   Happy Busy Mama

Monica @  <>   Natural Mama

Renee @  <>  Bakers Dozen

We would love to have you link your blog with us, at All in a Day.
Here's how it works:

1. Copy and Paste this code to add the All in a Day banner to the top of
your post.

2. Copy and paste the list of the "All in a Day Bloggers" into your post.

3. Put your name and a direct link to your blog post into Mr. Linky, below.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

All in a Day: The Sunday Rush

Sunday mornings:  the place where your faith is put to the test each and every week!!

Yes, Sunday mornings can prove challenging for the large family, especially when you have many young children to get ready!   Back in the day when all my children were little, we drove 45 minutes to church, too!!   So, it was definitely an undertaking that often left me physically and emotionally exhausted by the time we got to church!

I remember the days of the assembly line through the bathtub . . . it is definitely easier now that everyone in the family bathes themselves, and most are self-sufficient when it comes to dressing, fixing hair, getting breakfast, etc.  Still, most Sundays seem to contain some small crisis or trial.  I'm convinced it's just part of the enemy's ploy to keep us from arriving at church serene and in a spirit of worship.  In fact, I think we should consider moving the altar call to the beginning of the service, so we can get our hearts right before the service!!   :)

I don't feel that I ever totally conquered the Sunday Morning Rush; however, here are a few tips that have proven helpful:

1.  Prepare the day before.  I've never fully mastered this, as I've always found that my Saturdays were full to overflowing, but the more you do beforehand, the easier it is on Sunday morning.  Note to self:  Remember your own good advice and make sure you have the boys church clothes ironed on Saturday, if not before, so you are not scrambling around on Sunday morning trying to iron them.

2.  Get up EARLY.  It's always tempting to sleep in on Sunday mornings, but it's just not worth it!!  I'm always the first one up.  I make coffee, unload the dishwasher, prepare Sunday dinner, take my shower while there is still plenty of hot water, and even check my email or look for a recipe online.

3.  Simplify clothing.   Through the years I bought my boys navy and khaki pants and one or two dress shirts to match.  If they had more than that, it was usually because we received clothing secondhand or as a gift.  The girls tended to have a few more choices for Sunday clothes.  Socks were often a source of contention, and still are at times, as those Sunday socks can be like a needle in a haystack to find!

4.  Make a simple breakfast.   Unless your husband likes to treat the family to a special breakfast of his making, I would say that this is not the day for a big breakfast!  We've always eaten cold cereal or bagels and cream cheese on Sunday mornings.  The key is coming up with something simple for everyone to prepare and clean up.

5.  Put Sunday dinner in the crock pot.   I love putting together a simple meal in my crock pot or roaster oven that will cook safely while we are at church and be ready to eat when we get home.  Usually we have to pull together the sides when we get home, but it is a relief to have the main dish ready to eat.  We often cook a huge pork loin roast from Sams/Costco, an eye of round roast, a turkey breast, etc.  Then, I often make the Real Idahoan mashed potatoes, sauteed green beans or asparagus, cooked carrots, etc. to round out the meal.  Sometimes we have dessert.  If not, my husband usually hints about wanting something sweet, and Hannah or I will whip up some Sunday afternoon delight.

There were probably other things I've done to help ease Sunday morning stress, but it has been a very long day here, and I just can't seem to think of anything else right now!  So, you'll just have to check out the other All in a Day Bloggers for their tips. . .

Carrie @ Our Full House

Christi @ Where the Creek Meets the Lake

Kathy @ Kathy Mom of Many

Kristy @ Homemaker's Cottage     

Lori @ Happy Busy Mama

Monica @ Natural Mama

Renee @ Bakers Dozen

We would love to have you link your blog with us, at All in a Day.  

Here's how it works:

1. Copy and Paste this code to add the All in a Day banner to the top of your post.

2. Copy and paste the list of the "All in a Day Bloggers" into your post.

3. Put your name and a direct link to your blog post into Mr. Linky, below

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

When Daughter(s) Come for the Weekend

Abby's family was in Albany this past weekend, and so it worked out for Abby to ride over to the Coast with Tiffany to spend the weekend with us!!  Kristi came over to join the fun on Friday evening for a Girl's Night at the Movies, but she had to work on Saturday.  Here are a few glimpses of the fun times shared:

Saturday, March 12, 2011

My Little Entrepreneur

We are currently living in a golf community.  Matt has been treasure hunting lately -- looking for lost golf balls in the bushes and mud along the edges of the course.   So, he came up with an idea to sell his treasures to the golfers!  Today was a beautiful day -- sunny and high 60s -- just the type of day that lures golfers to the greens!  So, Matt set up shop near the golf cart path.

He soon had a customer!!! 

More than one customer, in fact -- in a little over an hour he sold $5 worth of golf balls!!!   :)

Edited:  He has now made $10!!!!!

Now, it is time for more treasure hunting!  :)

Winner Announced

Congratulations to Laura who was the winner of the Giveaway from

Laura, please contact me for information on how to receive your FREE one year membership.

Even if you did not win this giveaway, you can still sign up for a FREE 3-month trial membership.  You can try efiling your attendance reports for the rest of this school year and see how you like it!  Click here to give it a try.

The creator of Homeschool Compliance would like to get the word out to more families, so if you are a blogger and live in Georgia and would be interested in offering a giveaway to your readers, email me and I will put you in touch with Scott Meadows.

Thanks to all who participated and shared about this on Facebook!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

What I Took to Homeschool Co-op Today

Granola Bars

2 cups flour (whole wheat is fine)
2 cups rolled oats (I used old fashioned)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened (I used 1/2 coconut oil)
2/3 cup peanut butter
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 TBSP peanut butter

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2.  Mix all bar ingredients together in electric mixer.
3.  Press into an ungreased 15x10" jelly roll pan.  (I sprayed with cooking spray anyway.)
4.  Bake at 350 F for 20-25 minutes.
5.  Cool a bit.
6.  In small glass bowl, melt chocolate chips and peanut butter for 1 minute in microwave, or until smooth.
7.  Blend together and spread over bars.
8.  Cool completely and cut into bars.
9.  Enjoy!  :)

These were a perfect snack for homeschool co-op today and would be good for an after-school snack.

From Sea to Shining Sea

Five years ago on this day our family pulled out of our driveway, our van bulging with eleven people, eleven duffle bags, and all kinds of stuff, and headed west.  As in California or Bust!

My husband's job is greatly affected by local politics, and at that time the recent elections had not been in his favor.  So, while he was in between jobs, he cautiously approached me about loading up our van with all of the children and hitching up our jointly-owned pop-up camper and taking a trip to the West Coast and back.  First, let me explain that I am not a traveler and I hate long car trips!  I am perfectly content as a homebody!  Second, I really don't like camping, unless it involves a motel and a real  shower!  (Not to mention a toilet that you don't have to hike to in the middle of the night!!)   :)    So, you won't be surprised to know that everything in my being screamed, "NO WAY!"  But, what I said was, "Sure!  Let's give it a go!"  :)  And we did!!

It wasn't easy -- there were many challenges along the way, but it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and the fulfillment of one of my husband's long-standing dreams, and I'm so glad I said, YES!  :)   It is hard to appreciate how vast and varied our great country is until you travel its roads and eat in its diners and gaze at its wonders.

There was much we just did not get to do and see in such a short amount of time (5 weeks), but we did hit some of the highlights, and we made some wonderful memories!  Unfortunately, most all of our pictures of the trip were lost in a computer crash, but my daughter, Ashlyn, (18 at the time) blogged about our trip along the way, adding pictures and updates whenever we had internet access.  We recently rediscovered this old blog and thoroughly enjoyed reminiscing about our "big trip!"  If you would like to read about our adventures and see what our sweet little children looked like five years ago (Yes, they were amazingly still little at that point!) . . . . check out this now abandoned blog.  Keep clicking on "Previous 5" until you have exhausted the blog posts about our trip.  Our trip ended mid-April.  Ashlyn continued to blog there for awhile about her life, before eventually abandoning the blog.

She also put together this fun video of our trip.  I'm not sure if you can see this or not -- or if you have to be her friend on Facebook, but here is the link:!/video/video.php?v=448868175776&comments

Have you ever driven cross country?  Have you shared about it on your blog?  If so, please leave a link to your blog post in the comments section, so we can read about it!  What was your favorite place or experience?   I'll share mine in a comment!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

All in a Day: Conquering Clutter

This week the All in a Day bloggers are talking about Clutter!!  What a timely topic!! 

I've come to the conclusion that large homeschooling families are especially prone to problems with clutter.  In fact, I think the two tend to stick together like peanut butter on bread!

Here are my Top 10 Reasons why Large Families Struggle with Clutter:

1.  Most large families live in houses that are designed for much smaller families.

2.  Because of #1, we often have multiple children squeezed into bedrooms meant for one child, which means there is never enough closet space and rarely enough drawer space for our children and all of their clothes, shoes and treasures.

3.  Lots of clothes equals lots of laundry, which must be sorted, washed, dried, folded, ironed, and put away -- on a daily basis!!!  Laundry -- at any point of the cycle (except for when it is hidden away in the washer and dryer!) can create a lot of Clutter!  See our All in a Day laundry posts for more details about how to conquer this problem! 

4.  Kids have a tendency to Grow.  That means they are always outgrowing clothes and shoes, so we must constantly be weeding outgrown clothes and shoes from their closets and drawers and replacing with clothes that fit.  Because there are other children coming along behind them who will one day wear those clothes, this requires us to come up with a workable storage system for clothes that are waiting to be grown into by another child.  This can be quite complicated -- and requires plenty of accessible storage space to maintain!  See my system for storing clothes by size and gender here. 

5.  Lots of children equals lots of clothes and shoes, no matter how much you try to simplify, and keep it all clean, put away and organized.  Just consider shoes for a moment -- if each child has just three pairs of shoes, which isn't much (think one pair of dress shoes, athletic shoes and sandals), and you have twelve people in the family (as we do), that would equal 36 pairs  -- or 72 individual shoes!!!  I'm not even sure that is a realistic number of shoes, as most families tend to also have specialized shoes, such as snow boots, swim shoes, gardening shoes, cleats, etc.  You can see how quickly just shoes could overtake a house!!!

6.  Children's clothes aren't the only cause of clutter.  Many mothers of large families have enough inventory to open a consignment shop in their own closets!  (Guilty as charged!)  This is from gaining weight throughout the childbearing years (and beyond) and having a closet full of clothes in various sizes, plus maternity and nursing clothes, etc.  Most of us have clothes in our closet that we're hoping to wear again one day . . .

7.  Many large families also choose to homeschool -- and homeschooling brings with it extra books, papers, projects, science experiments, and academic records to be kept -- all of which must be strategically organized, stored, gotten out and put away again on a regular basis.  Plus, bookcases must be squeezed into the decor of any and every room.  (Yes, the rumor is true -- I actually have a bookcase full of books in my bathroom!)  ;)

8.  Most large families are not of the "Jon and Kate plus 8" variety.  (Thank God!!!)  That means they have children of all ages in the home, which makes it impossible to get rid of the baby equipment and toys or the early readers after a couple years.  Instead, we tend to accumulate toys, books, games, etc. that are appropriate for all ages from very young children to teens and young adults.

9.  People love to bless large families with clothing, toys and books that their children have outgrown. 
This can be a mixed blessing!  There are often treasures hidden in those big black bags -- but it also tempts us to keep things we don't need or have room to store.  Also, it requires that we find time to sort through all of those bags of stuff. 

10.  We often hang onto things, such as clothes that don't fit, because we know if we give things away, we won't have the money to replace those items if we need them down the road . . . (a lack of faith, perhaps?)

So, now we are well acquainted with the problem, but what about the solution??

Here are my Top 10 Suggestions for Dealing with Clutter:

1.  Thank God for your clutter!  This is partly because we are commanded to give thanks in all things (1 Thessalonians 5:18), and partly because the fact we have clutter reveals how abundantly God has blessed us!

2.  Sell all you have and go to the mission field!  (This is a bit extreme, perhaps -- but it would solve the problem!)

3.  Move!!  (It forces you to sort through things!)   ;)

4.  Read my favorite book on clutter -- Clutter's Last Stand by Don Aslett and he will motivate you to start de-junking! 

5.  Realize that clutter is anything that is unwanted, unused, in the way, stealing your joy, or robbing you of mental, emotional and spiritual energy.

6.  Don't love anything that doesn't love you back.  (Don Aslett)

7.  Make a rule that every time you bring something new into your house, something old has to leave.

8.  Declutter a little bit each day, a la the Fly Lady.  Learn her method here: Declutter in Fifteen Minutes a Day.

9.  Remember that clutter attracts more clutter (The Fly Lady), but order attracts order.  (In other words, you don't mind sitting something down where it doesn't belong if there is already a pile there, but if the area is clean and neat, you don't want to mess it up.)

10.  Learn to distinguish the difference between junk and treasures (from Don Aslett):

It is junk if:
  • it's broken or obsolete
  • you've outgrown it, physically or emotionally
  • you've always hated it
  • it's the wrong size, color, or style
  • using it is more bother than it's worth
  • it wouldn't really affect you if you never saw it again
  • it generates bad feelings
  • you have to clean it, store it, and insure it -- but you don't get much enjoyment out of it
  • it will shock, bore or burden the next generation
It is not junk if it:
  • generates love and good feelings
  • helps you make a living
  • will do something you need done
  • has significant cash value
  • gives you more than it takes from you
  • will enrich or delight the next generation

Decluttering is a lot of work, and it must be done over and over and over again  . . . . but it is amazing how it frees us up when we take the time to eliminate the clutter from our homes and our lives!

" . . .let us strip off and throw aside every encumberance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us."  -- Hebrews 12:1 (Amplified version)

Check out the other All in a Day Bloggers for more help with decluttering your house and your life:

Carrie @  Our Full House

Christi @  Where the Creek Meets the Lake

Elizabeth @  Yes They're All Ours

Kathy @  Kathy Mom of Many

Kristy @  Homemaker's Cottage

Lori @  Happy Busy Mama

Monica @  Natural Mama

Renee @  Bakers Dozen

We would love to have you link your blog with us, at All in a Day.

Here's how it works:

1. Copy and Paste this code to add the All in a Day banner to the top of your post.

2. Copy and paste the list of the "All in a Day Bloggers" into your post.

3. Put your name and a direct link to your blog post into Mr. Linky, below.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Chili in Every Pot

Taylor and Joe and I went with Alan to the Island on Saturday to the Rotary Club Red Hot Chili Cook Off!   We walked around and tried about a dozen chili samples from the competing groups.  Then, we voted for our favorite. 

Our Spoon was labeled our MVT -- Most Valuable Tool and was our "ticket" to many tasty samples!

There were many different varieties of chili, from South Georgian style to Cajun to Classic American.  The most interesting was the "Coon Chili!"  :)

This booth served up some Sixties Style Chili!!

While the band served up some "Oldies but Goodies."

We left with our bellies full of chili and our mouths on fire!! 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Attention Georgia Homeschoolers!! You Won't Want to Miss This Post!!

Do you ever find yourself scrambling around trying to find a pen that writes so you can fill out your monthly attendance report, then trying to get a copy of it made for your records, followed by searching for an envelope and hoping you have a stamp, so you can get that thing in the mail before the deadline each month???

There is an easier way!!

Homeschooling father, Scott Meadows, has created a homeschool-mom-friendly website that allows you to file your Declaration of Intent and monthly attendance records online. Over a thousand families are now using this fast, simple method to simplify their homeschool reporting.

Thanks to the email reminder that you will receive each month in your Inbox, you will never again forget to file your attendance reports!  Simply click on the link in the email, and it will take you right to your personalized attendance form, with all normal school days already checked (just un-check any days that you did not actually have school that month).  You can then Preview and Send.  What could be easier? 

You will not only save time, but also gain peace of mind, because you will receive a return receipt (proof that your school district received your forms) and 12 years of offsite backup.   And, would you believe that you get all of this for only $1 per month?  When you consider the cost of paper, envelopes, printer ink, and postage stamps, you can see what a bargain this is!

I love!  It has taken all the work and stress out of filing monthly attendance reports!  Also, whenever I've had any problems (such as when I moved from one county to another mid-year), Scott Meadows has been extremely helpful and prompt in responding to my emails and helping me resolve any issues.

Not only that, but Scott has generously offered a free one-year membership to for one of my Georgia readers!  All you have to do to enter this giveaway is go here to read the top ten reasons for efiling, then come back here and leave me a comment telling me which benefit of efiling most interests you.  For an extra entry, share about this giveaway on Facebook, and leave a separate comment.  Deadline to enter is Friday, March 11th.  I will announce the winner on Saturday, March 12th!  Spread the word!!!

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Twist on Oatmeal

Oatmeal is a frugal and nutritious breakfast, definitely a staple for most large families!   But, let's face it -- oatmeal everyday for breakfast gets old pretty quick, and some kids (and mommas) really don't like the slimy texture!  So, Baked Oatmeal to the rescue!  This recipe is loved by young and old at my house, and has been a family favorite for about 17 years! 

You can either mix this up the night before and refrigerate, or mix it up quickly in the morning.  Either way, it really doesn't take long to throw together -- and could be delegated to an older child.

Baked Oatmeal

Mix together:

1 cup melted butter (or coconut oil)
2 cups brown sugar (or sucanat)
4 eggs, beaten


6 cups old-fashioned oats
3-4 tsp baking powder
1-2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon (optional)

Mix well and add:

2-3 cups whole milk, yogurt or kefir (I like to use half milk and half yogurt)

Pour into a greased 9x13 casserole dish and bake for 30 minutes at 350 F.

Serve with milk poured over it in a bowl.  YUM!  :)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

All in a Day: A Typical Day

Today the All in a Day bloggers are blogging about what a typical day looks like in a large family.  Although we strive for order and routine, it seems that the out-of-the-ordinary day is the "new normal!"  :)

I've decided to follow Carrie's example and try to blog through my day today, figuring that it is just as "typical" as any other day.

5:30 am -- My alarm on my cell phone went off and I ignored it!  ;)

6:00 am -- My alarm went off again and I thought, "I'll lay here for just a second and enjoy the fresh air coming in through the open window.

6:24 -- I awoke with a start, realizing that I had fallen back asleep for more than a "second!"  I jumped out of bed, mad at myself for sleeping so late!  I put in my contacts (the first thing I do every morning!), got dressed in my exercise clothes, and hurried out to the kitchen, realizing that I had missed Josh, who had already left for work.

6:30 -- I made coffee, unloaded the dishwasher, reloaded the dishwasher, and cleaned the kitchen from the late-night meals eaten by the older boys when they got home from work.  Then, I made breakfast (creamy grits and eggs), and sat down with a cup of coffee to read my Bible in my Quiet Time corner.

7:15 -- I talked to Alan and Joe, while they ate their breakfasts, and saw them out the door for work/school about 7:30 am.

7:30 -- With the house still Quiet and Asleep, I sat down and finished reading my Bible, checked my email, read a couple blog posts, and wrote out my To-Do List for the day.  Then, little Bethany woke up and came to snuggle in the living room with me.

8:30 -- The other children got up, took their showers and came down to eat breakfast.  Tay left for his 9 am class.

9:00 -- While sitting at the breakfast table, I read aloud Psalm 2 and Proverbs 2, praised Chris for the character qualities he demonstrated yesterday in accomplishing a special project, read about those qualities in Achieving True Success, and then read and discussed a chapter from the incredible book Created for Work by Bob Schultz.

Then, we all worked together to quickly clean the kitchen and straighten the house, making sure to "do our work heartily as unto the Lord" (what we had just read about). 

Then the children started their classes.  We use BJU Distance Learning, which I highly recommend!!! 
Here are some pictures of them watching their classes:




Hannah and Chris:

While the children watched their classes, I helped them as needed, called the dentist to make appointments, changed over the washer and dryer a couple times, made a batch of chocolate chip cookies, and worked on this blog post!

After I finished helping Matthew and Bethany with their worktext pages around noon, I went to my room to exercise.  I did the T-Tapp Basic Workout, which is pictured below:

Then, I took a shower and wiped up my bathroom. 

My lunch was a delicious Isagenix protein shake.

When the older children had finished their classes around 1:30 or so, they got on Facebook to see what their friends were up to, and then came down for lunch.  While they ate lunch and then folded the laundry, I read aloud to them two chapters from The Family Under the Bridge.

Then Matt unloaded the dishwasher so he and I could leave.  He had been invited to our pastor's house to spend the afternoon with Michael and Jordan.  After I dropped him off, Bethany and I ran a few errands -- a quick run through the grocery store, a stop at Wal-Mart (which is never quick!) and a quick stop for vitamins at the Health Food Store.

While we were gone, Chris, Hannah and Luke were doing their homework like good kids!  :)

We stopped at home long enough to unload groceries and for Bethany to change her clothes, and then we all loaded up in the "White Elephant" and headed to church.  The youth were doing a fundraiser for an upcoming trip, and cooked and served a spaghetti dinner.  They did a great job, and it meant I got a break from cooking supper!  (I do like to cook -- but a break is always nice!)   :)

Maddie greeted us, took our money and showed us to our table.

Julie served our table.  Naturally, Chris and Luke tried to make it hard on her!  :)

After dinner, the children went to their classes and I went to Bible Study.  Pastor David taught us about the importance of having discernment and recognizing false teachers, which are plentiful in our world today!  Great message!

When I got home from church, I immediately sat down to finish up this blog post.  The kids are upstairs playing a game with Josh and his girl friend, Kristi.  Joe is just walking in the door from work.  Alan and Tay were watching a basketball game, and now Taylor is working on some homework and Alan is reading the newspaper.  I'm starting to yawn, and beginning to look forward to snuggling under my covers!!   :)   Morning comes early . . . and I hope to do a better job of getting out of bed on time tomorrow morning!  ;) 

It has been a good day here.  How about at your house??

Make sure you stop by and visit these All in a Day bloggers, to find out what a "typical day" looks like at their houses!

Carrie @ Our Full House

Christi @ Where the Creek Meets the Lake

Elizabeth @ Yes They're All Ours

Kathy @ Kathy Mom of Many

Kristy @ Homemaker's Cottage

Lori @ Happy Busy Mama

Monica @ Natural Mama

Renee @ Bakers Dozen

We would love to have you link your blog with us, at All in a Day, too, and share about a typical day at your house.

Here's how it works:

1. Copy and Paste this code to add the All in a Day banner to the top of your post.

2. Copy and paste the list of the "All in a Day Bloggers" into your post.

3. Put your name and a direct link to your blog post into Mr. Linky, below.

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