Monthly Archives: September 2012

Canning Madness

Alternate title: Tomatoes, Grapes, and Apples, Oh my!!

Last week.

Cooking down the Pizza Sauce.

1 bushel of grapes…

The results: 26 pints of Pizza Sauce, 6 half pints and 3 pints of grape jelly (from a different batch of grapes), 42 quarts of grape juice, and 8 half gallons of grape juice!!

Today’s project… 3 bushels of apples!

What are you canning?






Paint Samples: Definitely Worth It!

Painting is not my favorite thing to do.  Not even close.  So, when I do paint a room I really want it to be done for awhile.

I’ve decided it is finally time to paint over the hideous green color I picked for our kitchen and entryway 5 years ago.  I’ve been putting off because someday we will be renovating the whole kitchen anyway.  Realistically, though, that is probably 10 years away.  I can’t look at that color for 10 more years!!  When I picked it I wanted a nice country green – maybe sage is the word? – like my Mom had in her kitchen.  Instead… it looks like mint ice cream.  Seriously.  Yuck.

This time I’m not taking any chances.  For less than $10 total I picked out three different colors of paint and had little samples mixed.  I bought mine at Menard’s.  The lady at the paint desk assured me it won’t really matter that the sample size paint is a different brand than what I will ultimately go with.  Likewise, I was able to pick from all of the paint chips and not just those available for that brand.

I want gray this time.  Here are my top picks, with a sampling of mint ice cream in the background:

I’ll carry over the same color or a complimentary color in to the living room.  I love it that I get to see what a big swatch looks like with our existing lighting.

For $10 it is well worth it to me to buy samples.  I will never be stuck with a paint color I hate again.  The samples are supposed to cover a 2’x3′ area but I did two stripes about 1’x3′ or larger and I still have at least 2/3rds of each color left.  They will be perfect to have around for touch ups and accent pieces!

Have you ever tried paint samples?  Are you contemplating any room makeovers?

Tot School Week #3: Yellow

I love it that my son had a sense of humor. This is how I found the shape sorter.

These “triangles” are actually pentahedrons according to Wiki Answers here. They were a little bit challenging for him to put in but he did get it a few times.

Our yellow basket.

This guitar plays the most annoying music but Kent LOVES it. I was showing him the different colors.

Mud is the best sensory material ever, right!?

Practicing balance on his ATV.

I got this ramp toy at Wal-Mart with a birthday gift card. It was the only thing wooden I could find there. 😦 Luckily, it is really cool and he likes it. Sometimes he puts the car on sideways and it won’t go but the rest of the time it is very entertaining.

What are you doing in your house to learn about colors?  Or do you have suggestions for fun activities we should try?

Chit Chat and Haircut

I think Saturdays may be a good day to do casual posts.  We’ll see.  The whole idea of jumping back in to blogging is appealing but I’m just taking it as it comes.

Here’s me with my new haircut.  It looks lopsided in this pic but it’s not.  It’s so light compared to my long heavy ponytail.  When I get to the point where all I do is put my hair in a ponytail I know it’s time to change things up!!

Tomorrow is my birthday.  We’re going out to dinner at our favorite place: Red Lobster!  I have a lot to celebrate this year with having Kent and eliminating debt.  I feel so blessed!  I’ll be turning 26.

The farm is keeping us busy.  We’re forever expanding it seems like.  We’ve had to hire some occasional help to keep up.  We’re in talks with a restaurant about potentially supplying them with meat.  I am working on the zoning application for a little on-farm store where we can sell our meats by the cut.  I had hoped it would be done this month but it looks like that won’t happen.

Kent is growing fast and thriving.  He is 14 months old now.  He was 33″+ tall and over 22# at last check.  He is starting to use silverware and dishes to eat instead of just taking food off his tray by hand.  He drinks by himself from a real glass at meals, usually getting quite a bit in his lap but not throwing the cup or spilling it on purpose.  I recently read Diaper Free Before 3 and introduced him to the potty about 2 weeks ago.  We have ups and downs but he definitely gets the concept.  He’s napping in his “big boy bed” (futon mattress on the floor) right now.  Our baby is definitely not a baby anymore!  He’s past toddling even: he runs everywhere, climbs up and down stairs alone, climbs up and goes down his Little Tykes slide alone, climbs in his high chair alone, and is fascinated with getting up on the step stool and washing his hands in the sink (with help).

Long enough, I suppose…

What’s new at your place?  I’d love to hear!

Tot School Week #2: Red

Expect a couple more of these posts in quick succession as I’m still catching up.  We continued our Color Themes with Red.

Kent was 12 months old.

He stopped climbing on the Magna Doodle long enough to figure out how to use the stylus!!! This is exactly why we’re doing these activities, because I never would have thought about skills like this before.

He also figured out how to scribble with crayon. You can probably tell which marks are his.

He got this shape sorter from my Mom. He had fun putting the red marker “in” and taking in “out” again.

We snuck in some sensory play when I spilled flour in the kitchen. 😉

What fun pre-writing activities does your child enjoy?

This post is linked to the weekly Tot School link up at 1+1+1=1.

Details on our Debt Free Status

As I mentioned here, we became debt free except the mortgage on August 28th, 2012.

You can follow our journey from the very beginning in Our Money Story.  We got serious about kicking the debt habit in October of 2009.  So, it took a lot of meandering along and then 3 years of pretty focused work to eliminate our line of credit for the farm, Brian’s truck loan, and my student loans.  Along the way we continued to cash flow our (big) farm expenses and paid cash for a semi, a dump trailer, two pickups, a loader tractor, and a new barn.  In the interest of full disclosure a couple of those things were purchased with an insurance check after our shed fire in 2009.  The rest, though, all came from our own efforts and God’s grace.  Over the last 3 years we have also expanded our farming operation extensively by growing our cattle herd and sheep flock and renting more acreage.

As always, I’m being transparent here in the interest of encouraging you and spreading the word that it is possible to live without the constant pressure of bills.  There is no way we could have done this on our own so we can’t even pretend to brag about it.  I can’t count the number of times I balanced the checkbook and the numbers came out in the red only to have an unexpected check show up in the mail that very day.  One of my favorite moments of this whole experience was when I overheard my dear husband tell someone that he doesn’t know how we got here but he does know that part of it is because his wife prays a lot.  I can’t say it any better.

So… what next?  Well, per Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps, we are tackling our Fully Funded Emergency Fund with a vengeance.  I have estimated that in the case of us losing the income from Brian’s day job we would need $1000 a month to cover the basics.  Since we are a single income family we will be building our emergency fund to $6000 to cover us for up to six months in the event of an unforeseen loss of income.  We’ve already set up an automatic monthly transfer of funds from our checking account to our emergency fund.  Those transfers will finish the emergency fund in 8 1/2 months.  Let’s see… that’s the middle of May.  I’d like to think we’ll be able to put a lot of extra money with it and get done a lot faster.  By the end of 2012 sure would be nice!

So, there’s the nitty gritty.  Questions?  Are you on a plan to get debt free?  What step are you on?

Linked to: Teach Me Tuesday @ Growing Home.

Tot School Week #1: Blue

I have a few weeks of Tot School to post about so I can get caught up.  We started with Color Themes.  First up was Blue.

Kent was 12 months old that week.

The very first thing we did was go around the house and collect all the blue items we could find. I recently read that Montessori theory speaks against this activity for fear of teaching the child to recognize an object only for it’s individual characteristics instead of appreciating it as a whole. I still see value in doing this activity so I just make a point to clarify that “The bucket is blue. The bucket is also round, and light” instead of just saying “This is blue”.

He had fun with a little blue food coloring added to cornstarch and water. He didn’t really paint but flung water around a little bit.


I attempted to make blue food but it turned out green. Blue food coloring + canned pears and french toast.

I introduced him to the Magna Doodle. At that point his favorite part was chewing on the stylus.

He didn’t grasp the concept of writing with the stylus but he did have fun using the magnet shapes. He was acting incredibly goofy with the Magna Doodle. He was climbing on it and rolling around by it like a cat in catnip.

This caught his interest.

He was gifted with Melissa and Doug’s Cutting Food. He had a great time exploring the different pieces.

We tried dot art with this printout. He wasn’t in to it at all.

Our washing machine was on the fritz so Kent and I took advantage of the opportunity to deep clean and scrub some of Daddy’s dirty work clothes. I’m calling it a great sensory activity!

He had a great time rolling this truck around on different surfaces. This was a pretty new skill for him.

His fascination with climbing around on the Magna Doodle continued all week.

Have you done Color Themes?  Any must-do activities to share?  What does your kid do with a Magna Doodle?