Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Daniel's Junior Prom

I was in Houston over the weekend, so I put Dana and Jennie in charge of JUNIOR PROM PHOTOS. Daniel took a girl named Jessie Salmans. He says she is full of personality and reminds him of his sister, Jennie. Word has it, "She really digs him." Here are a few pics of their evening. More to come later...

Daniel with his date.

Pretty girl!

Gotta' love the dress!

Don't poke me!

Group shot.

Just the guys.

Just the girls.

A bit gangsta?

Just bein' Daniel.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

One Every Wednesday

My girlfriend, Becky, makes this stinkin' good cake with oatmeal.  Trust me, the photo doesn't do it justice; it is gooey, warm, and delicious!  I thought it would be just the thing to lift our spirits in times of disaster.  So, of course, I had to create a food storage version.  I made it with white flour, but I'm sure you could do half wheat as well.  Enjoy!


1 cup oats
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup vegetable oil or shortening (I store both; shortening has a longer shelf life)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
4 Tbsp. dried egg powder
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Combine oats with boiling water.  Let stand.  In the meantime, cream shortening and sugars in mixing bowl.  Add powdered eggs, water and oatmeal mixture.  Blend well. Add all dry ingredients.  Bake 35 minutes at 350 degrees in 9 x 13 pan.  Pull out of oven and poke with holes.  Pour topping over warm cake and let seep into holes. Serve warm.

2 Tbsp. powdered buttermilk (can buy this at Walmart)
1 cup powdered butter
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. Karo syrup

Combine ingredients and warm in sauce pan.  Pour over cake while still hot.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Jennie's Home!

Can I just tell you how WONDERFUL it is to have an adult daughter! Jennie is mature, helpful, and a complete joy to have around. It's amazing the growth that comes with that first year away at college. The other day she asked me for advice explaining that I was "older and wiser" (something I never would have heard when she was fifteen or sixteen...'cause I was the world's biggest idiot).

She is home for the next four months and we are all so thrilled to have her back! Things just aren't the same when Jennie is gone. She brings a certain energy and light into our hearts and home. She is smart, spunky, sweet, and so stinkin' on the ball. She knows who she is and what she wants.

These are some of the things I love about Jennie:

  • I love that she sits down at the piano and brings her beautiful musical talent into our home.

  • I love that she has style and is just plain classy.

  • I love how she volunteers to help in the kitchen and to taxi Jessie around.

  • I love that she is such a fabulous friend to her siblings.

  • I love how she keeps her room organized and clean and it looks like a designer showcase.

  • I love watching her enjoy my daycare babies.

  • I love that she helps me take care of them.

  • I love her laughter.

  • I love her quick wit and clever sense of humor.

  • I love her beautiful face.

  • I love her sweetness and how she is able to get along with everyone.

  • I love that she is frugal and financially wise.

  • I love how she is comfortable hanging out with her mom and dad.

  • I love her positive energy and how she generates enthusiasm.

  • I love that she is not afraid to disagree with me, but does so respectfully.

  • I love how she is a natural leader but never bossy.

  • I love how she inspires me to be better.

  • I love her child-like humility and her fascination with learning new things.

  • I love that she is such an individual.

  • I love that she is beautiful inside and out!

  • I love having Jennie HOME!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

One Every Wednesday

Chicken Biscuit Stew is one of our family favorites.  I got the recipe years ago out of one of those Pillsbury paperback cookbooks you can get at checkout. Daniel requests this dish often in the fall/winter months.  I figured I could tweak it a little and make it food storage friendly. So here's the converted version: 

1/4 cup powdered butter; 1/4 cup non-fat dry milk; 1/3 cup flour; dash of pepper; 2 1/2 cups warm water (including liquid from canned chicken); 1-2 tsp. chicken bouillon granules; 2 10-oz. cans chicken; 1 cup freeze dried peas (reconstituted according to package directions); 1 cup dehydrated carrots (reconstituted according to package directions); 1/3 cup dry minced onions; 10 biscuits (see recipe below); Poppy seed, if desired.
Heat oven to 375 degrees.  In 10-inch skillet, combine powdered butter, powdered milk, flour, and pepper.  Open canned chicken and drain, saving liquid.  Add enough warm water to liquid to total  2 1/2 cups. With a whisk, gradually stir in water/liquid.  Add chicken bouillon granules. Cook until mixture boils and thickens, stirring  constantly. Add chicken, hydrated peas, hydrated carrots, and minced onion; cook until hot and bubbly.   Arrange biscuits over hot chicken mixture in skillet; sprinkle with poppy seed.  Bake at 375 for 20 to 25 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown.

2 1/4 cups biscuit mix (I store Walmart Brand); 1/4 cup non-fat dry milk; 2/3 cup water; bit of flour (if desired)

In a small bowl, mix together first three ingredients until dough forms.  If dough is too sticky, add a little more biscuit mix. Dust smooth surface with biscuit mix (or flour) and lightly coat dough. Shape into ball.  Roll out to 1/2 inch thickness and cut with 2 1/2 inch round biscuit cutter dipped in biscuit mix (or flour).  Place on ungreased baking sheet.  Bake at 450 for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.

Looks can be deceiving...

View this video to the end; I promise, you will not regret it. A frumpy, 47-year-old, unemployed single woman from Britain has the guts to stand before a huge audience and perform an extremely challenging song. You won't believe what happens. Complete video is seven minutes long.

(To pause background music, go to very bottom of blog)

Monday, April 6, 2009

One Every Wednesday

So, I'm kind of on a new food storage 
kick!  Not that we're completely new to food storage. Our family has been pretty good about following the counsel to store food, water, and other necessities for several years.  We use our food storage on a regular basis--basically treat it like an extended pantry.  Instead of running to the store, we run to the basement for a box of brownie mix, some more rice, oats, or a can of tomato paste.  I keep it pretty well stocked replacing used items regularly.  It's all stored in the perfect cool, dark place allowing for longer shelf life.

But lately I'm feeling this urgency to be
 better prepared--like someday we may actually have to LIVE on this stuff.  It's not unlikely that situations could occur in the future proving our food storage more valuable...things like abnormal weather patterns (extreme temperatures, floods, or droughts), natural disasters (most likely tornadoes in our neck of the woods), regional crop failures or infestations, loss of employment (which we experienced AGAIN this past year), extended illness or personal disability (you never know!) transportation or other labor strikes, world economic fluctuations, national turmoil (WAR), or even increased inflation and high food prices.  I'm thinking in today's times of economic uncertainty, this is one thing I can do to bring added peace to my family.  "If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear."

This is a partial view of our storage shelves.  They are stocked with non-perishable foods, paper goods, and toiletries.  My most recent addition was 16 pounds of chocolate chips (enough to bake cookies twice a month for a year) that I sealed in mason jars with a Foodsaver.  Click here for a cool video about how to do it:  

Here you see about twelve of our 33 cases of long-term storage (#10 cans of wheat, oats, beans, powdered milk, dried fruits and vegetables, macaroni, powdered eggs, powdered butter, etc).  It's not the best set up for rotation, but we don't pull from this stack very often, and for now I'd rather spend my budget on food than on expensive shelving.  Sorry, Shelf Reliance!  

This photo shows three of our five 55-gallon barrels of drinking water.  We plan to increase our water storage by adding two additional water heaters to our home (not to heat, just to store).  That way, the water will be continually rotated.

The question  is, if we had to completely rely on our food storage to survive, what would I make?  Would there be any variety?  What if that necessity lasted for a year or more? What kinds of meals could we create that would be both tasty and nutritious?   I want to have a plan!  This year,  in order to compile our family's list of food storage emergency meals, I set a goal. Once a week I make my family dinner strictly from food storage (nothing fresh, nothing refrigerated, nothing frozen) and once a month, I prepare our dinner without any electricity. ('Cause let's face it, we may not have all the modern conveniences we're used to in a time of disaster.)  

Then a friend told me about Wendy Dewitt's Food Storage Seminar.  This lady has got it goin' on!  I LOVE her system (although I want much more variety) and found her information inspiring. Click below to see the first of nine segments.  These clips are not long and they are NOT BORING!  

Anyway, several of my friends who have heard what I'm doing have requested recipes, so I decided to post them here ONE EVERY WEDNESDAY. Remember, these are not gourmet meals; they are survival meals.  So, adjust your expectations accordingly. 


Sauce:  2 Tbsp. oil; 3 Tbsp. flour; 2 (8-oz) cans tomato sauce; 1 1/2 cups water (including broth from canned meat). 

Filling:  1 (12-oz.) can beef or chicken chunks, drained and broken up; 1-2 (15 oz.) cans any beans, drained; 12 corn tortillas (see recipe below); 1 (8-oz.) bottle processed cheese sauce; 2 Tbsp. dried minced onion; 1/2 tsp. - 2 Tbsp. chili powder; 1/2 tsp. sugar; 1/2 tsp. vinegar; 1/4 tsp. garlic powder; 1 (4-oz.) can diced green chilies, 1 tsp. onion powder.

Directions:  In sauce pan, combine oil and flour until there are no lumps.  Add rest of sauce ingredients and bring to boil while stirring. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Cool while making tortillas.

In a bowl combine beef, beans and chilies.  Spread 1/2 cup sauce over bottom of lightly greased 9 x 3-inch baking dish.  Pour some of sauce in to a pie pan.  Quickly dip tortillas in sauce on both sides and fill with meat mixture.  Roll tortillas and place seam side down in pan. Pack enchiladas tightly and cover with remaining sauce.  Dot with processed cheese sauce and bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

My Notes:  I made this recipe with black beans and beef.  It turned out pretty good.  The only problem was the cheese "dots" didn't melt; they just sat on top and burned.  Next time, I'd just leave the cheese off or try adding it for the last five minutes only.  

Family Consensus:  THUMBS UP!


Ingredients:  1 cup cornmeal; 1 cup white flour; 3/4 tsp. salt; 1/4 cup shortening; 2/3 cup hot water

Directions:  Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl; roughly cut in shortening.  Stir in water; knead for at least a minute.  Divide dough in to 12 equal pieces.  Heat heavy skillet, wiped with oil.  Roll one dough piece into a 7-inch circle on floured counter.  Cook in hot skillet on medium-high heat about 30 seconds on each side.  If pan is hot enough, little brown spots will appear on each side as tortillas cook. These go fast--so roll tortillas out as you cook them. 

For Corn Chips:  Cut tortillas into quarters and fry in an inch or two of hot oil until crisp.  Drain on a doubled paper towel-lined plate.  Salt and enjoy!

My Notes:  This recipe makes tortillas with a great flavor, but they will not look like commercial tortillas.  I made them for the enchilada recipe above using my electric skillet.  The dough was a little too dry to work with, so I had to add more water.  Otherwise, they were totally fine.

Family Consensus:  THUMBS UP!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Colleen's Home Infant Care

So, I've always had this special passion for babies and small children. To say that I love infants is almost an understatement. I'm drawn to their sweet innocence and their open-eyed wonder about this new place called earth. Their precious spirits, fresh from heaven, bring a powerful feeling of love and warmth. Their perfect little bodies smell sweet and new, and they have the most kissable cheeks! Yes, I love babies; and interestingly enough, they love me. It's my god-given gift. I was endowed with an extra dose of compassion for little ones. I'm all about babies!

When my youngest child reached school age, it was quite an adjustment for me. No more small children at home? What will I do all day? Who will I play with? I needed someone to teach, train, and be an example to; I needed someone to nurture and love. It's what I was created to do! I got through it...FOUND PLENTY TO DO...but I always missed that early stage of child development--so full of discovery--and so full of CUTENESS!

Everything a baby does is new and exciting. Everything about babies is adorable in my eyes. They receive with eagerness and delight all the love you can possibly give and they freely and willingly love you back...completely...no matter what. It doesn't get any better than snuggling an infant in your arms or rocking them to sleep. Reading books to little ones is WAY more fun than reading to yourself. And as far as I'm concerned, nothing is more enjoyable than a baby just learning to throw a ball, to play peek-a-boo, or to wobble on those growing legs.

After a while, I realized I kept borrowing other people's babies just to get my fix. When my oldest left for college, I knew it was time.

I converted one of our large extra bedrooms into a nursery. With the walls newly painted a soft baby blue, I filled the room with darling cribs, colorful toys, and soft snuggly blankets. In no time at all, Colleen's Home Infant Care was born--a warm, safe, nurturing place for babies to grow and learn. My target market? Affluent parents who want THE VERY BEST for their child (and who are willing to pay $250/week). It's been almost two years now, and I still don't feel like I'm working. I can't believe people actually PAY me to do something I enjoy so much. These are the little ones currently being loved in our home:

"Brookie Baby"



We are expecting another precious girl in the fall. She doesn't have a nickname yet, but I'm sure once she spends a few days with us, my kids will come up with the perfect moniker.

Happy April Fools' Day!

I thought this would be appropriate to post today.  This is my kind of story!  I hope it inspires you too.  Enjoy...
(To pause background music, go to very bottom of blog)