New recipe Monday — Snickerdoodles

These are a family favorite. I will usually double the recipe as they are gone quickly. I’ll often bake these for Christmas or birthday goodies.
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Combine 1 1/2 cups white sugar, butter or margarine, vanilla and eggs. Mix well.
Stir in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Blend well. Shape dough into 1 inch balls.
Combine 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon. Roll dough in sugar/cinnamon mixture and place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets (I flatten just a bit with a juice glass). I use my small cookie scoop and roll these in my hands then in the cinnamon sugar mixture. The dough is sticky, wet your hands slightly before rolling.
Bake 10-12 minutes or until set. Immediately remove from cookie sheets.

Five Minute Friday — Community

So let’s spend our five minutes of writing today, sharing about community. Fight it, love it, hate it, hurt or healed by it, we were certainly built for it.
Set a timer and just write. Don’t worry about making it just right or not.
Go all in with your words.
Are you ready?

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. Please visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments.
OK, are you ready? Give me your best five minutes on:


I grew up in a small community, 500 people. There were good things and bad things about growing up in such a little place.

  • We had lunches made in our school, by our “lunch ladies” who also happened to be moms of kids going to school too. I was so thankful they put out a cookbook. I’ve made many recipes for my family that I remember eating as a student. I know now, how blessed we were as students to be cared for each day.
  • We played 8 man football. Our basketball team one year only had 6 girls out, just enough for a substitute. We had a stellar band and choir.
  • If you shot a deer in the morning before school, you could probably miss the first 2 hours while you drug it up to your house. It wasn’t uncommon for kids to come to school in camo with a gun in their gun rack. We weren’t worried about getting shot, we wanted to know what they shot and where.
  • We didn’t have homework on Wednesday night usually because everyone went to church.
  • We had a spring concert with a huge BBQ for the community. We walked to the nursing home for social studies when we were in junior high.
  • We have a Threshing days celebration every year that is an impromptu class reunion for anyone who happens to be visiting. The band marches, we eat, we watch sand volleyball and we catch up. I knew the name of every person in my high school and really, for several years before and after me.
  • Our school was “haunted” and our art teacher was a great story teller.

But there were drawbacks. It was sometimes hard to find a niche’ where you felt like you belonged. I moved into that little town when I was 8, third grade. I remember feeling like such an outsider. Like there was some kind of secret I was supposed to know but didn’t about being there. When I graduated 9 years later, I still felt like an outsider. It was a shell I never felt like I could break through. The town motto painted on the side of the grocery store was “Small town, Big heart”. Sometimes, it could feel like it was the other way around if you weren’t born there or were just a little bit “different”.
There were people though, who did their best to make everyone feel welcome. I remember my bus driver stopping me before I got off the bus so she could zip my coat for me. We had a long driveway and the wind was cold. When she retired, we were blessed with another bus driver who came to my wedding. I had a math teacher who invested in my future and who spent lots of time with me helping me understand trig. I had a wood shop teacher (yes, I took wood shop), who would spend late nights at the end of the semester helping students finish projects. He’d also draw all over the top of your board to make sure you sanded it good enough.
I met and started dating my husband in our little community. We were 15. We made an unlikely pair because we were so different. I am so blessed though in reality we couldn’t have been better matched.
When I think of community, there are so many different things that come to mind…church, family, work, school. But most often what comes to mind is the little community I grew up in, in south central Kansas. The place where I learned about making friends and enemies, acceptance and rejection and that no matter where you go small town living has no rival.  That little community taught me far more in terms of “life” than any other place I’ve been. I’m thankful for my experience growing up there and as a parent I try to capture and teach some of those same lessons to my children while living in a much bigger city.

Dream Big

Since we have no idea what we’re going to be doing or where we’re going to be going in the next few months, I dream a lot. It’s kind of fun to dream about what we’d like to be doing someday. I don’t know if it’s God’s will for us to do these things, but they’re things I think I’d really enjoy. Here’s my list…
* Live out in the sticks, off grid. I would love to live way out yonder, with solar energy, my own well and be as self sustaining as possible. The idea of  raising our own food and living as independently as possible is exciting to me. I’m talking big garden, lots of animals, goats, chickens, a cow or two, possibly a pig, definitely dogs and cats running around outside. If I could justify a horse I would, but since we don’t milk them and eating them is a bit taboo, Kerry is going to be a tough sell on that one. I know it would be tough and a lot of work, but I think it would be rewarding. The fresh air would do everyone good. It would help us appreciate the effort it takes to grow food, appreciate hard work and the role that each family member plays in making the home work. I would, of course, need internet access a girl has to blog afterall.

* Live in an old farmhouse. I grew up in an older farm house and I thought it was great. I like the character of older homes. The craftsmanship in old farms is so incredible compared to the cookie cutter houses we see being built today. In order for it to really work though, Kerry says it would have to be energy efficient. I’m good with that as long as it still looks and feels like an old farmhouse.
* The boys say they’d like to live in the country. They want to have chickens and rabbits. We recently visited our farm supply store here in Pueblo and the boys saw the little bunnies and chickens for sale. They fell in love. I’m good with the chickens for sure, we go through 5 dozen eggs every 4 weeks or so. I’m not so sure about the rabbits. We have more than our share here and I have no desire to encourage them. It’s a must that they be allowed to shoot guns where ever we end up. They also want to be able to hunt and fish. Otto has been talking about when he’ll be old enough to have a .22 rifle. Ummm after you’ve taken hunter’s safety and even then…it might be a bit.

In a nutshell, we want to get to the simple life. We’re not overly involved in a lot of stuff, but we’re always busy. We feel like we’re constantly going and we would like to get away from that. I’m hoping that quitting my job will allow me to help slow the pace down here at home, regardless of where we end up. We long to be able to spend more time together as family, learning together, playing together and just being together.
Notice I didn’t say anything about a job other than working for our family. Partly because we don’t have a clue what we’ll end up doing. And truth be told, my full time “job” (as of two weeks from now) will be stay at home mom. I can’t wait. So yeah, if we’re going to be changing what we’re doing…we might as well change it big time, and besides it’s fun to dream. So dream big.

Does that count?

One of the great things about homeschooling is that our days don’t always look like “school”. We don’t have to sit at the table and do worksheet after worksheet. We don’t even have to open a book and it still “counts”. There are plenty of days when we do open books, but around here…it’s not our whole focus.
So today, we were a little less “traditional” in our approach. Here are some highlights from today.
* It works better to hang up clothes when you put the hanger through the neck hole rather than the arm hole. It’s also a good idea to put big people clothes on bigger hangers. Daddy’s shirts don’t stay very well on kid hangers.
* It’s cute the first time brother climbs in the laundry basket for a “ride” from the dryer to the living room. It’s not so cute when both little brothers do it.
* It’s moth (miller) season here in Colorado. I worked on hand-eye coordination with the boys by arming each of them with a fly swatter and told em “Have at it fellas”. Then we learned how to vacuum thoroughly and dust the walls.
* You have to watch Titus when he’s swatting moths. He’s a little crazy with his follow through and some times he hits you if you’re not looking.
* We have a lot of stuff. We’re sorting, throwing, packing (no we don’t know where we’re going yet) stuff. We have a system. Too bad sorting “stuff” isn’t as fun as sorting Legos.
* Egg cartons burn for a long time when you start them on fire with a magnifying glass. They make a lot of smoke and kind of stink.
So no, our day didn’t look like school but we learned valuable lessons. Oh, they each did a worksheet in math and read for 45 minutes. I guess that makes it “official”.

2 Week Menu rotation 2

I plan our meals 2 weeks at a time. I shared our rotation 1 here.
I forgot to say in my initial post that often times, I won’t make a couple of the meals on the list because we have more left overs than I had planned or because we have an unexpected “family date night” and I don’t have to cook dinner that night. Since I’ve already purchased the ingredients for the meal, depending on how perishable it is, I’ll either save it for the following time the meal is used or I’ll switch it out for another one later. In other words, I’m not legalistic about my menu. Just cause it’s listed doesn’t mean we have to eat it.
I’ll paste the menu below, but I’ll also share a link in case you can’t see the whole thing.

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Cubed steak, potatoes and gravy Crockpot scalloped potatoes and ham Crockpot tortellini Church (we alternate bringing meals with another family from our church on Wednesday night) Left overs (every family has to have a left over night). J Breakfast casserole (I often use hamburger) Verenika or bierock casserole
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Pizza and salad Leftovers Tacos, corn Church Easy beef stroganoff Grilled chicken, green beans and salad Chicken fajitas or grilled chicken salad

See the menu here

New Recipe Monday — Famous Cheese Dip

My Kansas peeps might appreciate this recipe more than most. When I was growing up, there was this Mexican restaurant that was fantastic near our home town, and then closed during my sophomore year of high school. They served this cheese dip that I have yet to find any where else. It’s not salsa and it’s not entirely cheese either. They’d serve it at the beginning of the meal with chips, but would also smother everything else with it too. When I was first pregnant with Gabe, I craved it like nobody’s business. I was fortunate enough that Kerry worked with the guys son who used to own the place. We bought cheese dip by the gallon. Someone, I’ll never say who, blessed me with the recipe when I was pregnant with my second son. I’ve made some modifications for our family, but it still has the same flavor it always did growing up. Enjoy!
1 big can of tomato sauce
1 big jug of tomato juice
1 onion chopped
green chilies (optional). I use roasted Pueblo Chilies, but you could use 2 small cans as well.
Shredded cheddar cheese (I use several handfuls)
In large sauce pan, saute onion in oil until translucent and slightly browned. It’s important not to skip the slightly browned part, it adds a lot of flavor later.
Dump tomato juice and sauce in with onions. If you’re using green chilies add them now too. Warm until heated through. Add a couple handfuls of cheddar cheese and stir until melted, heating thoroughly. We like ours fairly cheesy, so I add about 3. 🙂 I will usually simmer the dip for 20-30 minutes on low stirring often so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
Serve over burritos, with chips or tortillas. Sprinkle with a bit of cheese just prior to serving. I meant to take pictures this week, but we were too busy eating it that I completely forgot. The only picture I grabbed was the dip in the pan before I served it. Enjoy!

2 week menu rotation 1

Around here I do a 2 week menu rotation and buy groceries every 2 weeks or so. I have been able to limit my trips to the grocery store, which saves us money in the long run and also helps me stay of the “I can’t think of anything for dinner so let’s go out” trap. I can only fit 4 gallons of milk on our fridge at a time without it freezing everything, so we do have to make weekly trips to the store for milk. We have 2 deep freezers, one for our meat and one for everything else.
For our family of 6, I have a food budget of about $500-550 per month. Our family does buy a cow each summer, well, this year we bought 3/4 of a cow. Most of my recipes use “usual” ingredients and nothing terribly exotic. We do try to buy organic or local produce when possible. Gardening here poses some challenges that we didn’t have when we lived in Kansas, although we do grow some things. I try to use a little processed stuff as possible, but occasionally I do. I have a busy schedule the first week of May, so I have a lot of crock pot meals or “easy” stuff for my husband to fix on the nights I’m not here. So here it is for the next two weeks.

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Ribs, corn, biscuits French Dip sandwiches (made with roast from freezer), peas Black bean and salsa soup, tortillas and corn Church (we alternate bringing meals with another family from our church on Wednesday night) Left overs (every family has to have a left over night). 🙂 Pancakes, eggs or pork side (bacon that we got from my in-laws pig, it doesn’t have the salt or preservatives that store bought bacon does) Grill steak, baked potatoes, salad
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Left overs or Steak Caesar salad, steak quesadillas Roast, potatoes and carrots Spaghetti, Corn and garlic bread Church Roast chicken, broccoli (I will usually roast 2 or 3 chickens at a time and then debone them and freeze for later use) Meat loaf, corn or mashed potatoes Chicken enchiladas (made with left over chicken from Thursday)

I bought groceries this morning. I had many of the veggies on hand, because we either froze them this summer or bought them on sale a few weeks ago. My grocery bill this morning was $110. I had to stock up on eggs (we go through about 5 dozen every 2-3 weeks), milk (again 4 gallons a week here), bread and fruit.
I don’t usually make anything fancy for lunch around here. We either have left overs, sandwiches, or mac and cheese with tuna and peas. Breakfast usually consists of cereal, toast, oatmeal or eggs. Supper is definitely our “big” meal of the day. We do eat quite a bit of fruit during the week for morning and afternoon snacks. I share some of our favorite recipes on Mondays with my “new recipe Monday” posts.

I am me

Seems simple enough. To borrow a line from Popeye “I yam what I yam”.
But sometimes it doesn’t feel like it’s enough. As I try to navigate this road of discipleship with my children, homeschooling them and leading them, figuring out how to be a mom and keep my house clean, I sometimes feel like I’m not enough.

I read books, blogs, articles, watch movies to help me try to figure it all out. I get some great ideas, but sometimes I just feel bad. I hear folks talk about how they’re teaching their kids history and I think “I haven’t even really started that yet” or I hear the fun activities they do for unit studies and I can’t help but think “I wish I had the energy/time/imagination to do that stuff with my kids.” And I wonder if I’m failing them. Sure they did fantastic on their required standardized tests this year, but for some reason that doesn’t feel good enough some days.
It is so hard not to compare yourself to every other homeschooling mom, working mom, stay at home mom out there. But you know…I’ll bet there is something undone at their house. I’ll be they have dirty socks under their beds, or maybe there is a fine layer of dust on their book shelf, oooh! or maybe they hide their dirty dishes in their oven when people come to visit. The truth is, as much as we’d like to, no one has it all together. Even the families on the covers of magazines.

I have be concentrating on not being “perfect” but in having realistic expectations for myself, my boys and our home. As much as I would love to have a spotless house…with 4 boys I’ve decided it’s just not going to happen. Truth be told, there are days when I wonder why I even try…and then I see a mouse run across the floor and I remember. I can’t do every cool unit study out there we don’t have time and I don’t have the energy. So for now, we’ll just keep doing what we’re doing (after all it is working).
We’ve made certain things a priority for our family, our home and our boys. Those are the things we focus on and we do the other stuff when we can. We’ll work it all in somewhere. But our priority is not to have them know every little fact about world history before they get to 5th grade.
There are some days that it’s easier said than done. I still walk away some days feeling like I’m missing something and failing some how, but I “yam what I yam” and for right now that has to be enough.

New Recipe Monday — Breakfast Casserole

We often have breakfast casserole for supper. It’s easy to make and filling for everyone. Here is a recipe I’ve used recently and we all really enjoyed.


  • 1 pound sliced bacon, diced (I didn’t use bacon this last time, instead I used left over Easter ham)
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped (I usually use half because the kids don’t care for onion much)
  • 6 eggs, lightly beaten (I used 8 eggs)
  • 4 cups frozen shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups small curd cottage cheese
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded Swiss cheese (I omitted the swiss cheese and just used a little extra cheddar).
  • I’ve also added a green onion for some extra flavor.


  1. In a large skillet, cook bacon and onion until bacon is crisp; drain. In a bowl, combine the remaining ingredients; stir in bacon mixture. Transfer to a greased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish.
  2. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 35-40 minutes or until set and bubbly. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.

What next?

When I tell someone I’ve quit my job, the very next question is “what are you going to do?” Well… I’m going to stay home with our children. But I really think the question they’re asking is “how are you going to pay your bills?”
The truth is we have no idea what lies ahead for our family. We took a step of faith (and obedience) when I turned in my resignation. We felt like God was calling me home full time to disciple and school our children. We trust that God will provide for our family because He is faithful to those who are obedient to Him. We have never been hungry and we have always had a home to sleep in. 1 Timothy 6:8 says “If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content”. We have been so blessed that Kerry has always been able to find a job that provides for our needs and that we have both been able to work while homeschooling and have not had to put our boys in childcare. We are looking forward even more to me being able to be home full time. (And can I say when I was younger, I never thought I would want to be a stay at home mom…but that is a whole other post).
So no, we don’t know what lies ahead. We don’t know if we’ll move or if we’ll stay here. Kerry has been called to be in ministry and he would love to be in ministry full time. He is looking for a position that will allow him to be full time answering that call. So if you know of anything…:)
Will we move? Beats me. We are open to moving just about any where, and since I worked as a traveling nurse the idea of a new place is a little exciting. (Although we like it here and are so blessed by a church family that is really FAMILY). Our Kansas family would like us to move that direction, but we really are open to any where. I’ve always wanted to try living in Alaska, but they might disown us if we moved there. Some of our criteria for if we move are that 1. the church be Biblically sound and we are called there 2. I will be able to stay at home and 3. the homeschooling laws/options are doable. We’re not limiting ourselves to certain states or areas (although there are some we’d enjoy more than others).
Saying “I have no idea” sounds so ill advised when people ask the “what next” question. But it isn’t. No we don’t know where we will be, what we will be doing or where we are going. But we do know that we are being obedient and our God is faithful. Both Kerry and I have felt such peace since we’ve made our decision, and because of that peace we know we’re doing exactly what God has called us to do. I may not know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future (I think Homer said it). That’s exactly how we feel.

Matthew 6: 25-24 (NASB)

25 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? 28And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes thegrass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31 Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.


I’m also reminded of a song we sing sometimes in church. It’s a Gaither song (not usually my type), but it captures why we’re so peaceful about our “unknown future”.

Because He Lives

God sent His son, they called Him Jesus
He came to love, heal, and forgive.
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, All fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living just because He lives.

How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives.
But greater still the calm assurance,
This child can face uncertain days because He lives.

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, All fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living just because He lives.

And then one day I’ll cross the river,
I’ll fight life’s final war with pain.
And then as death gives way to victory,
I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He lives.

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, All fear is gone!
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living just because He lives!

~ William and Gloria Gaither ~