Saturday, October 23, 2010

Whistles and Chocolates

Yesterday, the kids and I went on a field trip with a homeschool field trip group. Our first stop was the American Whistle factory. We each got a whistle at the end of the tour, and I bought different colored lanyards for each of us. The kids were really good and I didn't have to confiscate any whistles. This is in Columbus, OH. The tour costs $4.00 per person and you get a whistle. If you can't make it to the factory, they were featured on How It's Made season 10 episode 12 and will be featured on Factory Made.

My kids are on the right end of each row.
Top row: Birdie and Froggie
Middle row: Monkey and Kitty Kat
Bottom row: Puppy Dog and Little Bear
I think one of the moms told the kids to make funny faces.

We ate lunch after the whistle factory tour and then went to the Anthony-Thomas candy factory.

This huge buckeye weighs 235 lbs. and costs $3500.00! The girls asked how old it was and found out it is seven years old. At the end of the tour, we got to sample the normal sized buckeyes. Some of my kids liked them, but most of us prefer homemade buckeyes.

Yeah, it's about time for Little Bear to clean off his temporary tattoos.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Breakfast - cold cereal with bananas and milk

I started keeping track of what we were eating this past week. This posts title was saved in a draft from the seventeenth. That's all I had. I didn't get back to it until today. Pardon me if I don't dig through my memory and recap the entire week.

Did you notice in the title that we had bananas? Though I did have banana slices in the freezer (part of the frozen fruit in this post), these were fresh bananas. Jon brought home a case of bananas that needed to be used right away. I now have more banana slices and two banana pudding pies in our freezer. We also ate some banana pudding cups the other night for a snack.

Apparently, the chili and potatoes went over well with Jon. Monday evening, while I was at Sonflower Scouts with the girls, Jon and the boys went grocery shopping. Jon bought some huge potatoes and some more chili ingredients along with a bunch of other things (he even bought dry beans, rice, and lentils). Jon thought I was going to fix chili and potatoes for our Life Group on Thursday. He forgot that I was going to make beef stew. So, I took a poll of our group members. Chili and potatoes won.

Thursday Night's Chili

2 lbs. ground beef
1 large onion (chopped large so those who don't like onions can pick them out)
1 30(?) oz. can of diced tomatoes
1 10-12 oz. can tomato paste plus one can water
2 15 oz. cans diced tomatoes with jalapenos
2 15 oz. cans hot chili beans

Brown the ground beef and onions. Drain. Mix all ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on high for a few hours or low for longer. I think I used a combination of high and low. I also left the lid propped open with a spoon for a few hours to let the chili cook down some. Less or no water could be used for thicker chili. I mostly used the water to help get the paste rinsed out of the can.

Our potatoes were BIG, so I baked them at 400* for about two hours.

The chili and potatoes went over well. One of the men had a work related meeting, so he wasn't at Life Group. We only had one potato and a bit of chili left over. The man's wife didn't want the leftovers, so Jon took those for his work lunch today.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Tonight's Chili

I make different versions of chili depending on our moods, what I have on hand, or what I can get a good deal on at the store. I try not to spend more than two dollars a pound for any kind of meat. It is getting increasingly more difficult, but I try to buy extra when there is a good deal. The ground beef was expensive this week and I was out, so I bought a two pound pack and a pound of lentils that were on sale for less than two dollars a pound. I had a fifty-five cents off coupon that got raised to one dollar off for two cans of Brooks chili beans, so I bought two large cans that were on sale.

I cooked the lentils and browned the ground beef. Then, added enough lentils to the browned ground beef to double the volume. After mixing the beef and lentils, I put half away in the refrigerator to use for tacos later this week. I still have some lentils cooling. I think I'll freeze those with the water they are in to use for soup.

So, here is the recipe I threw together for tonight's chili:

1 lb. ground beef browned and drained
cooked lentils (enough to double the volume of the beef)
1-30.5 oz. can mild chili beans
1-30.5 oz. can hot chili beans
1-14.5 oz. can peeled diced tomatoes with jalapeno peppers
1-14.5 oz. can peeled diced chili ready tomatoes

I let this simmer while I baked some potatoes. I baked extra potatoes for Jon's work lunches and for use later this week.

To prepare the potatoes I slice them in half, make some slits in the meat of the potatoes, butter them with Country Crock calcium plus vitamin D, and salt and pepper them. The chili goes on top of the potato and then we add a sprinkle of cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream.

On The Menu

I’ve been so busy lately that I’ve neglected to fully plan our menu. So, today I decided to just do it. Pardon me as I think in this post.

Grains: rice, various flours, corn meal, a small amount of star shaped pasta, oatmeal, bread scraps in the freezer, flour tortillas, tortilla chips, cold cereal

Fruits and Vegetables: potatoes (~ 15 lbs.), celery, cabbage, frozen three pepper and onion blend, one onion, frozen spinach, canned tomatoes (various styles),
tomato paste, pineapple tidbits, mandarin oranges, a small jar of peaches,
~ 1 b. of various apples, frozen fruits, canned pumpkin, pickles, applesauce

Proteins: peanut butter (smooth and crunchy), a fryer chicken, a beef chuck blade pot
Roast, a 20 lb. turkey (thawing in a cooler), chili beans, lentils, 2 lbs. ground
beef, pork shanks, dry navy beans, 4 doz. Eggs, Polish sausage

Dairy: 2 gal. milk, 11 slices of American cheese, 6 c. shredded mild cheddar, 6 c. shredded mozzarella, 2 lbs. Velveeta, 16 oz. sour cream, mint chocolate chip
ice cream

Beverages: water, tea bags (various flavors), coffee and creamer

Other: a Wanchai Ferry sweet & sour chicken meal for two, instant pudding and gelatin mixes, cake mixes, etc.

Meal Ideas

Lunch or Supper

Polish sausage with three pepper and onion blend over rice with cheddar cheese
PB&J, apple slices or applesauce, celery
Chili with baked potatoes cheese and sour cream
Ham, beans, and corn bread
Tacos, chips and salsa
Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, pumpkin pie or cake (buy some g. beans?**)
Turkey salad sandwiches, celery
Roast chicken, potato wedges, veggie (I need to buy some more**)
Chicken and stars soup, PB&J
*Beef stew (I need to buy carrots**), rolls, dessert of some sort
Turkey burritos or tacos
Turkey and cheese sandwiches, pickles, carrot sticks (need to buy carrots**)
Leftovers for Jon’s lunches

Oatmeal (various flavors)
Cold cereal
Pancakes and fruit syrup
Eggs and toast

*The beef stew meal will be for our Life Group (small group through church). I’ll probably plan something else for the kids to eat unless the roast I have is big enough to make two stews.

**The store was out of the carrots I normally get last night. I didn’t buy many vegetables, because money was tight and I wanted to make sure I had enough for incidentals later. I managed to save $22 of my grocery money that I can use tomorrow to buy the Sunday paper (for the coupons), carrots, and some other veggies.

Today’s meals:

Breakfast - cinnamon raison oatmeal

Lunch - pizza made with leftover spaghetti sauce that needed used up I went light on the cheese

Supper - I plan on making chili with baked potatoes, cheddar cheese, and sour cream.

Snacks - I haven’t decided yet. Though, I did eat some turnip greens for my mid-morning snack. The children got up late today, so they didn’t have a mid-morning snack.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


I overheard the following during a rather calm argument my boys were having.
Puppy Dog: "So, just stop arguing."
Little Bear: "Yeah, that's a good idea." (I posted this on Facebook earlier this week.)

Monkey and Puppy Dog had been in a fight. I had just finished hashing it out with them and told them, "now, hug each other and make up." Monkey and Puppy Dog hugged. As they were hugging, Monkey said, "alright, now we've hugged. Let's go find some make-up so we can hug it." Then, they did.