Friday, January 30, 2015

Week in Review in Photos

It's been a good busy week. Here are some pictures of our work and play together - schoolwork, games, cooking, housework and just plain fun.

How was your week? I'd love to read about it in the comments.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

I Want to Plant My Garden!

The holidays are over and the new year has begun and as usually happens this time of year my fingers are itching to plant something. But January really isn't a good month for planting much of anything - at least not here in Virginia. So instead I look at seeds and gardening tools and beautiful pictures of other people's gardens. And I read about gardens and all things related.

I thought since I have this obsession I may as well share it so here are some of the things I've been looking at, reading about and dreaming of.


Seeds, seeds and more seeds! There are so many things I want to plant this year that I'm not sure where we'll find room for all of it. The last two years we increased our garden space and it looks like this year we'll have to increase it again.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Stalker Fish, Traveling Chickens and Happy Rabbits

My Betas make me laugh every morning when I find them staring at me waiting for their food. I call them my stalker fish because they seem to watch my every move until they get fed.

I'm trying to decide what to do with the chicken run. We've been letting the chickens free range but they are starting to expand their territory. Two of them have discovered the dogs across the road will share his food with them. So I need to keep them in more. And if I do that I who like to expand the size of the run.   I'll still let them free range a few hours a day but not all day like they have been. I've noticed in the past that they don't go as far if their free time is limited. I caught one coming back home this morning. 

Our rabbits are doing well. The litter of six born in September are almost as big as their mother now. They all seem to get along great live happily in their little home. Austin brought one in this morning for us to see.

THURSDAY - HomeAcre Hop

Friday, January 23, 2015

Keeping It Real - Oops!

This is what happens when I walk away from the oven on broil for a "minute" and then forget to come back. As it turned out they actually tasted better than they looked and we ate them anyway. Couldn't waste that bacon!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Banana Cookies

Almost every week I buy lots of bananas. Some weeks the kids eat them all up in the first few days and other weeks they just sit on the shelf until they start to turn brown. This was a sit on the shelf and turn brown week so I ended up with a lot of bananas to find ways to use. So I made a batch of these banana cookies for the kid to eat for snacks. Here's the recipe

Banana Cookies

1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour*
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. (180 degrees C)

Cream butter, add brown sugar, beating well. Add eggs, vanilla and bananas, beating well.

Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Add to creamed mixture; mix well.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoons full on top greased cookie sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 12 minutes. Place on wire racks to cool.

*I replaced 1/2 cup of white flour with wheat flour.

I also used a bunch of bananas in this Banana Berry Bread.

A few other good things from the kitchen recently were Veggie Tuna Noodle Casserole, Homemade Bread, and Cheese Pizza.


12+ Healthy Breakfast Ideas

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Priorities and Making the Most of Five Minutes

Since I've just begun my new posting schedule I really don't have a good post full of projects accomplished ready to share today. So I thought I'd share a few tips I use to help keep things running smoothly.

The first one is something I began using years ago when things were even crazier than they are now. The main reason it was chaotic was the number of small kids I had to care for. In order to keep my head above water I HAD to prioritize. So this is the mental priority list I would repeat in my head all day long

1. God
2. Kids
3. Food for the Kids
4. Clean Clothes for the Kids
5. Everything Else

It was simple but for me, in that season it worked. It gave me a mental guideline I desperately needed.

My other go to tip was to always make the most of five minutes. If there was 5 minutes of time between activities I would make a game of seeing what I could get done - sweep a floor, wash a window, make a phone call - anything to chip away at the never ending to do list. And it's amazing how fast those little five minutes add up. During the years when Michael did not seem to ever sleep at night sometimes the most important thing I could
do was simply close my eyes for five minutes (while keeping my ears open). But even that was so helpful and five minutes well invested.

Also, today I have a few helpful links to share from my reading around the web. 

Monthly Budget Printable

What's So Great About "Homemaking"?

Please don't feed the dust bunnies. - Author Unknown

WEDNESDAY - Wake Up Wednesday

Monday, January 19, 2015

Banana Berry Bread and More: The Walnut Acre Daily - Monday, January 19, 2015


You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You. - Isaiah 26:3


The weather has been so much nicer today than we've seen here for awhile. The sun was shining and the sky was bright blue. There was a breeze but not too much. Schools were closed today for Martin Luther King Jr day so the kids got to go outside and play.

We got a lot of work done both inside and outside today. Austin cleaned out the van, took care of the animals and a few other chores around the house. Amanda hung a new shower curtain given to us from a friend at church (now I need to put up a different curtain on the window) and did some cleaning up around the house. I did lots of laundry (I loved being able to hang it out on the line) some cleaning and taking people here and there. I took Austin to his friend Colby's house, took my friend to work and then picked Austin up again. Doug even got in on the dish washing this evening.

After dinner this evening the kids were WIRED so I got out some games and we played for over an hour. We played I Spy  memory, Dominoes, Food Group Bingo, Word Family UNO, Bible Memory, and Transportation Memory.

This afternoon I finished reading The Hero's Lot by Patrick W. Carr and started reading Venture Untamed by R. H. Russell.

I didn't post Saturday or Sunday but we had a good weekend. Saturday evening was the annual Stuart's Draft Rescue Squad Banquet. They did awards and installation of officers. Doug was installed as Motor Pool Sergeant. White Hill Catering served the food and it was SO good! The beef brisket was delicious and tender, the mashed potatoes were awesomely flavored, and the macaroni and cheese was some of the best I've ever eaten.


We had pancakes and apples with peanut butter for breakfast this morning
For lunch I made cheese pizza, green beans and peeled some oranges. 
For dinner this evening I we had turkey, broccoli/cauliflower with cheese, salad and homemade bread

The last two times I tried to make bread it didn't rise properly so I decided the yeast I was using was probably old. I bought more yeast and today the bread rose beautifully. 

Saturday I had some bananas that needed to be used up so I made some Banana Berry Bread. It turned out very well and then kids had some for dinner Saturday evening and have been eating it for snacks. Here's the recipe for this fruity quick bread.

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 cups flour*
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 medium ripe bananas
2 cups frozen mixed berries

In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture, beating just until combined. Stir in bananas. Fold in berries.

Pour into two greased loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 35-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans. 


*I used 1 cup of whole wheat flour and 3 cups of white.


A few pictures of some of our flock of chickens.
The top left is Daisy. We raised Daisy from a chick, hatched in our incubator, and the kids named him before they new he was a rooster. The two photos on the bottom are of Weepy, our last hatchling before we decided to put away the incubator for the winter. Amanda named this Weepy because it talks all the time and sounds like it's whining. This chicken is sure it's a human and follows us around and wants to be the companion of anyone who is close by. The other chickens have never allowed it to be part of any of their little groups so Weepy is our special chicken friend.

One of our naughty little kittens playing with laundry on the line.


He who trims himself to suit everyone will soon find himself whittled away to nothing. -Raymond Hull

Linking Here
Tuesday - One Project at a Time, Show and Share Wednesday- Share it Link Party, Wow Me Wednesday

Friday, January 16, 2015

Errand Day, Small Group and More: The Walnut Acre Daily - Friday January 16, 2015



The kids started out their morning drawing. They wanted me the take pictures of them with their drawings.

Today was errand day again. We picked up my friend, Jennifer, and her two girls to go with us. There was no school today (teacher work day or something) so we five kids, two teenagers and two adults. We always have fun together although it can get a little crazy - lots of interesting conversations, laughter, a few squabbles and more conversation and laughter. We went to two pet stores, the dollar store, the vets office and the grocery store. 

After we had finished everything we went to Jennifer's apartment for lunch. The kids played and ate and watched TV. We got home a little after 3:00. Austin and Amanda did their afternoon chores and I did some laundry and washed dishes and hung out with the kids. 

One of Austin's jobs is to cut up our empty cardboard boxes. The kids use some of the cardboard to draw or paint on or to make crafts with. And some of the cardboard we tear up or shred and use as bedding for some of the small animals. We also shred scrap paper to use as animal bedding. Then when we clean out the bedding we compost it to use in the garden.

This evening Doug and I went to our small group/Bible study that meets Friday evenings. I just love this group of people. We're using the book Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear by Max Lucado. We're also using the companion workbook. This study has sparked some awesome discussions. We all have fear we have to deal with until we realize that if we truly allow God to have control he WILL work in our lives for our good and His glory and we truly are safe with Him. As was pointed out by one member of our group 1 John 4:18 tells us that perfect love casts out fear and we know that God loves us perfectly so we have no need to fear.


I haven't spent much time in the kitchen today. The kids had cereal and juice for breakfast. Jennifer made us lunch and my sister made us dinner. So I haven't had to cook today.



Faith is the bird that sings when the dawn is still dark. Rabindranath Tagore

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Dentist Appointment, Red Stew and More: The Walnut Acre Daily - January 15, 2015


Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, -Romans 5:1


Somehow I didn't get any pictures today. 

Austin had a dentist appointment today. It turned out to be a really long one - around two hours. On our way out to the dentist the school called and said one of the kids I babysit wasn't feeling well. So I dropped Austin off at the dentists office, went to the school to pick her up, and then went back to the dentist's office. While we were gone Michael stayed at my sister's. 

This afternoon was quiet. Michael and Mateah watched a movie while I did some online work.

This evening has been quiet too. All three of my kids are at my sister's for the evening. 


I made a pork stew for dinner this evening. When I was deciding which vegetables to put in the stew I noticed a head of red cabbage in the refrigerator and decided to add that. I didn't realize how much the color in the cabbage would color the rest of the vegetables. When I took it out of the oven I was surprised to see that all the other vegetables were reddish purple too - the carrots, green pepper, potatoes, and onion were all red. I was making this for both my family and my sister's so I had to explain what it was I was bringing them. At least it tasted better than it looked.



Remember, if you're headed in the wrong direction, God allows U-turns. - Allison Gappa Bottke


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Homemade Fabric Softener, Snow Day and More: The Walnut Acre Daily - Wednesday January 14,, 2015


God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. "Selah"  - Psalm 46:1-3


Snow Day !!!!!!

There really wasn't all that much snow on the ground but for this area it was just enough for the kids to get a day off from school. And of course a snow day means bundling up and heading out to get cold and wet. While they were out Mateah found a nest where our one hen still laying has been hiding her eggs. She brought me five frozen eggs.

A couple months ago I watched my sister make homemade fabric softener. It was very simple and I knew I wanted to make some too. It is very simple and inexpensive. Just six cups water, three cups white vinegar, and two cups hair conditioner. Since it's so simple to make I decided to have the kids help me. I put the six cups of water into a large bowl and then we put in the vinegar . . .

. . . added the hair conditioner . . .

. . . and stirred.

I put the finished product in an empty, washed laundry detergent bottle. I've tried this fabric softener on a load of towels and it does work. The towels were soft (though not quite as soft as I remember them being with store bought softener) static free and very lightly scented. I think next time I'll use a little more and see what the results are. 

The rest of the day we stayed busy cooking, cleaning (does that ever end), doing laundry (or that), reading, singing, drawing and playing. And I gave both boys haircuts. Austin really, really needed one and when Michael saw me cutting Austin's he wanted a haircut too.


Normally on Wednesday evenings we are at church but all activities for the evening (including dinner) were canceled so I had to cook. We had a potato, cheese and bacon casserole, peas, peaches and butter bread.


Amanda giving Sheena a morning snuggle.


There is no surprise more magical than the surprise of being loved. It is God's finger on man's shoulder. - Charles Morgan


Linking Here

Monday - Inspire Me Monday, Much Ado About Monday A Round Tuit  Tuesday - One Project at a Time , Show and Share, Thursday Moonlight and Mason Jars Link Party, Inspiration, Great Idea Thursdays, Creative Inspirations, Artsy Fartsy Link Party, Create It Thursday Friday - Fridays Unfolded, Awesome Life Friday, Shabbilicious Friday, Home Sweet Home Saturday- My Favorite Things

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Dance Party, Liver and Onions and Himalayan Salt: The Walnut Acre Daily - Tuesday January 13, 2015


Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. - 2 Corinthians 3:17


We had a quiet morning at home. The school kids went to school on time and Michael slept until after nine. I worked on more laundry and cleaning and some dinner prep. After Michael woke up and had his breakfast we did his schoolwork and then he took a bath.

After lunch I gave a friend a ride to work, came home for read aloud time with Austin and Amanda and then spent some time at my sister's house. After a quick check in at home I went to look her up from work and take her home.

The rest of the family has been busy today as well. Here areva few snippets of their day. After work this evening Doug took one of the ambulances to have an oil change. Austin worked with my dad again this afternoon. And Amanda decided to reorganize Michael's clothes this evening.

Michael and Mateah had their own little dance party in the kitchen this evening. These are the moments I never want to forget. And Michael looks like he thinks it's summer. I'm not sure why he changed into those clothes when we got home this evening.


Amanda fixed us chicken nuggets, corn and applesauce for lunch. 

For dinner this evening I fried chicken liver and onions and cooked green beans. We also had applesauce and butter bread. I remember eating fried liver and onions often as a child and I loved them but I wasn't sure I could make them the way my mamma did. They turned out pretty good, even the kids liked them, but I still think hers were better.


My dad was telling me about  Himalayan salt this afternoon. He bought some because it is said to be healthier than regular salt. It is said to have more minerals in it than regular salt.
I did a little reading and there are many claims of it's benefits although there also those who disagree. I tasted it and I thought it had a somewhat milder taste than regular table salt. It also has a pinkish color that I liked.


If evolution really works, how come mother's only have two hands? - Milton Berle