Sanity Saver: 15 Minutes in the Kitchen

The number one sanity saver I have discovered, over my years of trial and error in attempting to raise my crew, is 15 Minutes in the Kitchen.

Raising lots of hungry kids and feeding them three meals a day (and snacks in between), along with all the necessary meal preparations, adds up to one incessantly dirty kitchen. Well, maybe not incessantly dirty, because there are those brief interludes in between the kitchen being cleaned up and somebody being in need of more food. Mama’s kitchen isn’t supposed to be a full-time restaurant, but it does feel that way at times. kitchen7I’ve tried various tactics over the years in trying to keep up with the endless kitchen duties. Continue reading “Sanity Saver: 15 Minutes in the Kitchen”

5 Flavorful Recipe Ideas! (to get you out of that cooking rut)

This weekend we are celebrating another 16th birthday. Somehow it has been sixteen years since Katelyn Noelle made her appearance, and we brought her home on a snowy December morning.

I seem to have a tradition of doing food posts on teenage birthdays, so here’s another one, this time a guest post from my sister Rachel, who is an excellent cook! She has shared five of her favorite, tried and true recipes with us, along with her comments. I have made most of these and they are delicious; quickly devoured by the clan. (I should say *we* have made… since Katie is my right arm in the kitchen these days!) When I made Rachel’s focaccia bread recipe [below] recently, Joshua took one bite and said, “What’s different about this focaccia bread?” I answered, “It’s a new recipe.” He said, “Oh. Well, make this one from now on.”

Author: Rachel Contreras

About Rachel: She is the youngest of my three sisters. She is married to Joey, an engineer, and they make their home up near Lake Michigan. They have three girls, Emma (6), Grace (3), and Anne (almost 3 months). We all adored tiny little Anne over Thanksgiving and I just couldn’t get enough of her sweetness!

Rachel4
Precious little Anne Harmony

I asked Rachel to tell us a little bit about herself. She replied, “I enjoy cooking, reading, thrifting, and homeschooling. My dislikes include exercising, a messy house, suspenseful movies, and when my kids destroy my bed three minutes after I finish making it.”

Rachel1
Rachel & Grace

From Rachel: Cooking is one of my favorite things. As a homemaker, I count this as a blessing, since so much of the work of homemaking involves food. I love trying new recipes, and my girls have fun voting on if the new dish should become a regular. Continue reading “5 Flavorful Recipe Ideas! (to get you out of that cooking rut)”

Gift Ideas! Toys our children have loved over the years.

Here are five classic toys that have been well loved and well played with at our house. Maybe this will give you some gift ideas for your younger kiddos, during this portion of the holiday season also known as mom-wracking-her-brain-for-gift-ideas.

1) We’ve had Color & Shape Bingo for a long time. It’s requested over and over by my little ones. An adult can manage about four young children participating in this game. (As you probably know, this cannot be said of many games.) Great learning reinforcement of colors and shapes, and good for short attention spans.Bingo4 Continue reading “Gift Ideas! Toys our children have loved over the years.”

Saying Goodbye to Windy Hill

Moving is beyond exhausting, and when in that weakened frame of mind, you arrive at the moment of saying goodbye to your home of thirteen years, it can be pretty tough. And so, the heart-wrenching moment had come.

As we explored the familiar spaces for the last time, our voices echoed through the now empty rooms.

Our minds went back to when we, so young and naive, first bought the old place, and the farmhouse adventure began. Continue reading “Saying Goodbye to Windy Hill”

Inspiration for the Everyday

 

It’s called a peaceMAKER. Somebody who makes something works at it.
-Dr. Gertz

fruit1

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace.” Luke 2:14
These two conditions are joined together, and none can separate them. Do you want peace? Your highest aim must be the glory of God. Do you seek God’s glory as your highest aim? Then, the inevitable result will be the peace that passeth understanding.
-F. B. Meyer

Continue reading “Inspiration for the Everyday”

Three things I’m loving about our homeschool this year

#1 Joel of Galilee. This book. Oh my goodness. What a treasure! As the title suggests, Joel is a boy living at the time of Christ. This little gem was written in the 1800’s and has been reprinted for today. We have been reading this aloud for our elementary school history each day. It’s had me in tears recently. Poignant, beautiful, stirring, enlightening.joel1

joel2#2 Independent Reading. Upon packing up all of our things for our move, sorting through, figuring out what to keep and what to get rid of, I realized how many wonderful books we had that seemingly never got read. You probably know the kind I mean— the more educational types of books of all sorts and sizes. I grouped them all together in one big box for the move, and made a note that when we started school again, I wanted these books to have more of an ‘official’ place in our homeschool. They now occupy their own dedicated shelf, and they are getting read! Continue reading “Three things I’m loving about our homeschool this year”

Inspiration for the Everyday

Some of us spend our whole lives regretting the past and fearing tomorrow, instead of trusting God for today.
-Pastor Frank Hall

edit15

There are in all human lives hours of overpowering anxiety, when we feel as though it were impossible to live another moment— exposed to danger, separated from dear ones, not knowing what an hour may bring forth. Then, as you look up, you find that the LORD is beside you, sharing your anxieties, and affording you His inviolable protection. You cannot see Him with the natural eye, but you know Him to be there, and neither man nor devil can prevail against you.
-F.B. Meyer

edit20

Why are we so weak, fearful, and wishy-washy? Omnipotence is on our side!
-Brian Bonney

{These quotations are from my commonplace book.}

Blessings to you today, as you serve God wherever He has placed you!

I’d like to homeschool, but I have questions…

Hi Jennifer,

I just love seeing pictures and reading updates on your family. I really look up to women like you who have big families. We have four right now and that is considered big here. My oldest two, both boys, attend school in grades 4 and 2. My 3 year old son is going three days a week to a Montessori preschool and I have the baby at home. After my oldest son’s first year of school I looked into homeschooling. I knew it was something I needed to consider. He did well in school but there were just so many conflicting ideas that we didn’t necessarily agree with. We never did decide to homeschool, however, it is always on my mind and heart. I guess what I’m asking is what kind of structure do you have to your days? At this time I’m all over the place with my home keeping and I fear that would be the case if we chose to teach the children from home.

A Mom in Canada


Hi,

Thank you for your kind words. I love seeing your sweet little ones on Facebook and seeing how your family is doing, as well.

This is a great question and a big one. Here are some thoughts on keeping a balance between keeping up with the housework and teaching school. Continue reading “I’d like to homeschool, but I have questions…”

Inspiration for the Everyday

Several years ago, I began to compile a commonplace book. I called it “Inspiration for the Everyday.” In it, I have been writing down quotations, bits and pieces of various lengths from various sources; words that I have heard or read. If it seems that I might want to come back to those words at a future time, I try to write them down in my commonplace book.

I have found myself coming back to them many times over, and it occurred to me that maybe you’d be blessed and encouraged by some of these thoughts, from time to time, as well. Continue reading “Inspiration for the Everyday”

Photo Post: Family Outing to Fugate Woods

Being in a new area of the country means finding new places to explore! We all piled in the van recently to venture out to Fugate Woods. So often in life, simple things bring the most joy.

The photographers happily photographed whatever struck their fancy, the little ones happily ran and climbed, Micah happily hummed a tune, Steve patiently (and happily) pushed the stroller the whole way, and we all hungrily devoured a watermelon at a clearing while the boys tossed a football. The happiness was marred only by a gnat getting in Olivia’s eye and a frog getting in my shoe. Continue reading “Photo Post: Family Outing to Fugate Woods”