Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Day for Sumo

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Years ago, when we first bought the VeggieTale, 'Sumo of the Opera' I was surprised and pleased to find a small story about St. Patrick's Day and the history behind it. Very cute and entertaining, I just loved it. Ever since, it's been a tradition to let my kids watch that every March 17. I'm sure a lot of you probably do the same thing, but just in case...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

I'm a little behind on this, but I love planning out my menus for the week ahead of time so I don't have to think about 'what's for dinner?' at 5:00 every night!

Breakfasts: Cereal, cheese grits, scrambled eggs/toast, oven pancake

Lunches: Sandwiches, leftovers


Monday-EASY Red beans and rice, carrot sticks

Tuesday-Italian Chicken w/rotini pasta, breadsticks, peas

Wednesday-Frito Chili pie, mixed veggies

Thursday--French Fry Casserole (recipe later), corn, crescent rolls

Friday--Birthday Pizza Party! Pizza, Birthday Cake and homemade Ice Cream. Sweet Chex Mix and pretzels for snacks.

Saturday--Baked Potato Bar w/leftover chili and other fixin's

Sunday--Chicken Pot Pie

Menu Plan Monday is being hosted by $5 Dinners this week, so check it out!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Modest Fashion Giveaway!

Tons of awesome resources at this site--she's been focusing on modest fashions all week. Today is the last day to enter, check it out!

modest fashion week

Thursday, March 12, 2009

On My Needles

Well, since I *did* title my blog, 'Many2Knit4', I thought it was probably time for some knitting content. That gorgeous yarn you see here, Fleece Artist Trail Socks in Aurora (purchased at The Loopy Ewe, is currently being knitted into my new favorite socks.

Now, there was a bit of drama regarding the pattern of these new favorite socks. I was participating in the Sock Knitters Anonymous KAL on Ravelry, and one of the theme options was a sock published in an online magazine. I use Knitty all the time, so wanted to try something from a different mag. I fell in love with Kaibashira, by Chrissy Gardiner. Did a guage swatch and found that the fabric I got at the recommended guage, was too stiff for my liking. Went up a needle size and got perfect fabric, but guage was too big. Long story short, the beautiful ruffly cast-on became the bane of my existence. I ripped and re-knit THREE times before I gave up. This pattern has become my Eleanor. Maybe someday I'll catch her.

I love this yarn, though. It wants to be my New Favorite Socks. So I've got half of a plain vanilla sock knit up. I love the bright spots of color on the dark, night-sky background. The yarn is soft, but the nylon gives it durablity. Not to mention, the colorway name is dear to my heart--the name of my firstborn. :)

Large Family Cooking

It occurred to me today as I was fixing biscuits and gravy for lunch, that I really do some things a lot differently than most people. (And no, I don't cook lunch everyday, but we were out of leftovers and bread for sandwiches.) I see most recipes calling for a pound of meat to feed four to six people. When our family was smaller, I followed these recipes exactly because I was just learning to cook. But now, I see those recipes and I adapt them to feed our family of 10 (well, 9 solid-food-eaters), often with leftovers, without using more meat. No one really needs as much meat as is typically served in our country these days, anyway.

For sauce-based foods like pasta dishes and gravy, I simply use more of the 'sauce' ingredients and keep the amount of meat the same. It's hardly noticeable once the sauce is mixed with the pasta or the gravy is on the biscuits. Same strategy in casseroles--I can usually get away with doubling all the ingredients except the meat, and the dish will still be delicious. Dh sometimes says something, but usually he doesn't even notice.

In dishes like this one where the meat is meant to be the 'star', I'd trim the meat into smaller portions before cooking. For instance, the above recipe calls for 4 chicken breasts to serve 4 people--I'd definitely cut the chicken breasts in half first. Those frozen chicken breasts I usually buy are huge! One-third of a large one is plenty for my kids, and a half will fill me up. I'd just serve it with it's sauce over rice, noodles, couscous, or even mashed potatoes/hash browns for some items. Add a veggie, salad, and biscuit or roll, and you've got a satisfying meal.

Serving plenty of side dishes with your meal is a budget-stretcher as well. Things like biscuits or rolls, raw or steamed veggies (with or without sauce or dip), fruits, salads, pasta and rice will fill your people up and satisfy them without using so much meat, saving you money. Keep things super-nutritious by using part or all whole wheat flour to make your breads from scratch. We use plenty of canned fruits and veggies (as well as some frozen) to help stretch the more expensive fresh stuff, but I try to make sure the kiddos get at least one serving of fresh produce per day, supplemented by canned/jarred items, juice, and dried fruit. This helps me cut down my trips to the grocery store, too, which is the number one way to cut down on spending!

I've got some other ideas to share--check back in a couple days!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Chewy Granola Bars!

I've tried a couple different granola bar recipes hoping for nice chewy ones, but they always seem to turn out more crumbly than I'd like. I just made a batch using a recipe on the back of a box of Hodgson Mill Wheat Bran--modifying it a bit, of course. Here's the modified recipe:

Chewy Granola Bars
1 cup Brown Sugar
2/3 cup Peanut butter (they said crunchy--I only had creamy)
1/2 cup Corn syrup (I used half honey)
1/2 cup Butter, melted
1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla
2 1/2 cups Oatmeal
1 1/4 cups Wheat Bran
1/2 tsp. Salt
3-4 T. Sunflower Seeds
1/2 cup Raisins (plus a bit of dried mixed fruit I had on hand)
about 2 cups worth of crumbs from the bottom of Frosted Shredded Wheat cereal :)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 9x13 pan. In a large bowl, combine brown sugar, peanut butter, corn syrup, butter and vanilla; blend well. Stir in oatmeal, wheat bran, sesame seeds and salt. Press mixture evenly in prepared pan. Bake 15-20 mins or until light brown. Cool completely before cutting into bars. Yield: 24 bars.

MODS: OK, the frosted shredded wheat crumbs might sound weird, but I HATE eating that stuff when the normal part of the cereal is gone, and the thrifty part of me hates throwing it away (hey, I paid for that!) So I've put it in granola before, and we all loved it. I do wish I had cut down on the corn syrup/honey a bit more, as the bars turned out a bit sweet, even for us. I probably could have cut it way back to 1/4 cup. I forgot to add the crumbs until the very end, though, which made the mixture a bit dry. I added a bit more butter for this reason--the total amount used is what I listed above.

The original recipe used sesame seeds, which we don't like. I subbed sunflower seeds, and twice as much of them as what the recipe called for. I also used all oatmeal instead of half that and half oat bran, since I didn't have oat bran on hand. The original recipe didn't call for raisins, either--but what's a granola bar without raisins? I'm thinking next time I'll use a bit more peanut butter and add some mini chocolate chips. What can I say--health food is just more fun when it looks like junk food. :)

I scored the bars when they were still warm, which made the final cutting much easier. They're moist and chewy and I'm sure the kids will be begging for them a lot--which I won't mind a bit since these are so easy to throw together!

Happy Baby Day!

The day got off to a wonderful start this morning--we received a phone call from a good friend at 7:30 a.m. announcing the birth of his first child! This is a young couple in our church who is very dear to us. They were married on our wedding anniversary and started out with a 'bun in the oven' just like we did. They've grown so much in the last 9 months, and it's so amazing to see them becoming parents. We've known the new daddy since he was in elementary school, which is fun (but makes me feel REALLY old). So CONGRATS Ben and Molly!

In other news, DH made the most amazing strawberry ice cream this weekend. He used this recipe which we always use for vanilla, but with more milk to make a 2-qt batch. This time, he added about 3 cups of chopped, smashed strawberries--you know, out-of-season winter strawberries (can't wait for June...). But it was mouthwatering nonetheless, and I personally was responsible for the disappearance of about 1/4 of the batch. It would have been more, but we had company over so decided to share.

Tuesdays and Thursdays are my days off from babysitting. You know, it's only one extra kid for most of the day, and he's really a great kid, but.....it's just such a weight off my shoulders when his dad picks him up (and his 2 siblings that come over after school). My eight kids seems so much more manageable when I'm not responsible for someone else's child, as well.

For supper today, I'm gonna try the wet burritos from The Happy Housewife. I've got some leftover burrito meat (mixed with refried beans) for half of the batch, and some leftover cooked chicken from last night, for the other half. I think it'll work out great. DD made us poppyseed-lemon muffins for breakfast (though she didn't hear the timer go off and let them get a *little* overbrowned), and I just whipped up a batch of granola bars for snacks/breakfast later in the week. Lunch will probably be PB&J today--I'm out of leftovers and we just had ham yesterday. Gotta work on my menus for the rest of the week!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Dishwasher Drama

Our dishwasher is dead.

It's a long story, but to sum up: we ended up with a lemon, and a poorly designed one at that. Due to some, um, unsympathetic 'service' people at the place we purchased from, we never could get service (Tracey can relate, I know). So we're looking for a new one. We're not taking this mission lightly, no sir-ee. I've been online investigating for a couple days, and we scoured 4 different appliance centers just today. No one has my perfect machine in stock, so kind and patient salespeople have been looking things up on their computer systems for me all day. I think we've got it narrowed down to two different models/brands. Each has been recommended to me by a friend or relative, but I've also read some negative reviews regarding each one. One has a better service record, the other is a much more reasonable price. The pricier one is from a store with a better reputation for service and repairs, though, so that's the way I'm leaning. They've also got a satisfaction guarantee, which means a lot to me after the last experience. Off to do some more investigating before we make a commitment--pray for us! :)

Friday, March 6, 2009

Fun for Friday

This is one of our favorite comedians--my kids get such a kick out of him! My daughter, B, especially loves the song, "Jesus Take the Wheel". So when she heard this song she wasn't sure whether to laugh or grumble, LOL. But anytime we start watching a Tim Hawkins video, we can count on the kids being entranced at the computer for a good 45 minutes, because you can't watch just one!

Thursday, March 5, 2009


As creative activities leader of our local MOPS group, I'm in charge of organizing our Bunko night (which is 3 weeks from now). Problem is, I've never played. Now, I've read some rules online and it sounds like a perfect activity for our social group. But I know I'm missing some of the subtleties of the game. And I have no idea what I'm doing as far as gathering supplies, prizes, etc. to make it a fun and memorable night. I would LOVE for any of you who have fun Bunko groups, to pass along some advice. I'm starting to stress a bit here.

On a different note, the weather was gorgeous here today and I took some of the kids to the park with a friend and her kids. They all had a great time for a while and then I was reminded why I almost never take my children to the park: D had to go potty and the bathrooms were locked, G fell in a mud puddle and ruined his shoes, and baby H was miserable because it was just windy enough that he had to duck his head inside the baby pouch to get his breath, therefore not able to enjoy the outdoors at all. Praise the LORD for the backyard swingset, even if it is 20 years old...

Piano Day

Today is piano lesson day. So since A is a procrastinator like her mama, she is practicing now before starting her schoolwork. Classic. F just brought me a couple of trains (Edward and James to be exact) that need new batteries. G is walking around with his thumb in his mouth and the other hand down the back of his big boy underwear, even though this particular pair doesn't have a 'silky tag', it's become a habit now. I"m sitting on the computer when I should be showering/cleaning up breakfast, but at least I've got the twins' schoolwork checked and media cards distributed.

The in-laws dropped off a hanging basket grow kit with strawberry seeds, last night while I was catching up on sleep. I've got a black thumb, though I'd love to be able to grow stuff. I'm pretty sure that if I have one of the girls actually deposit the seeds into the soil, they will grow. So that's the plan.

Gotta go clean up pee off the bathroom floor. Apparently G is holding something against me.