Lisa's Homemaking Corner

Lisa's Homemaking Corner

Monday, December 22, 2014

Easing Christmas Stress

While I LOVE hosting our family Christmas every year, it CAN get overwhelming.  This year, I vowed it would be different.  Here's what I did.

1. I made it a potluck, so that we can still have a good spread without me doing all the cooking.  Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love cooking and baking.  But, even if you do some things ahead, the amount of work that has to happen all at once...well, that alone can be enough to make you want to pull all your hair out! So I've asked my guests, if they are able, to bring an app and a side.  I've also finally realized after all these years of Christmases, that I don't have to find a way to make every. single. food. item. from scratch.  Guess what?  Canned cranberries are actually not bad.  And  those buttermints I wanted to make from pinterest?  Nevermind.  Hey, if I can even find them in the store, I will buy them.  If I can't find them, oh well!  Yes, I do believe the food should be great, but it is NOT the main reason for the gathering!  If food is the only method you have of getting guests to show up, well, that's an issue for a whole different blog post!

2. Our crock pots have multiplied in the past year, so most of the cooking I DO have to do will be done in those.  Ham?  Can be done in the crock pot.  Mashed potatoes?  Yep, in the crock pot.  Hot apps?  I've always done them in the crock pot.  Stuffing?  Nope, that won't be in the crock pot.  ;-)  Hey, want to know my secret stuffing recipe?  A few boxes of stuffing from Aldi done on the stove top in a few minutes. *Gasp!* I know, horrific, right?!  That will probably be the only reason I turn on the stove on Christmas day.

3. Unlike years past, I don't have a super long list of cookies to make, as I cut it down...just doing more amounts of fewer kinds; along that line, I cut the roll-out sugar cookies this year and did drop cookies instead, and they turned out great!  Nope, it's not the same as having all those pretty little shapes decorated like all get out.  But, they taste pretty much the same, and you can still make them pretty with sprinkles and colored sugar.

4. I let the kids decorate this year.  Yep, the 13-, 8-, and 6-year-olds.  They had a little (and I do mean little) help from Daddy, and they did great!  Plus, they had a LOT of fun.  I have now realized that in the past, I have been WAY too picky about the decorating.  This was purely the hubby's idea and I have to admit that at first, I was in panic mode.  I thought for sure I'd be rearranging everything later. But nope, I'm leaving it. There are a few odd placements, but you know what?  They make me smile rather than cringe.  It's a much-needed attitude shift, I gotta tell you.

Nope, we didn't have another kid, the hubby ACTUALLY got the dog a stocking this year!  Can you believe it???

5. I told myself I was NOT going to go crazy power cleaning and organizing...just do the normal weekly cleaning and NOTHING extra.  We are at, what, three days out, and this is actually going quite well.  Now, I would still be totally embarrassed about gross bathrooms or something like that.  But you know what?  The cleaning and picking up we do all the time that is good enough for the family that lives here, well then, it's good enough for family and friends who come to see, what, a clean house???  No!  I would HOPE that they're here to visit US, and celebrate the reason that we are gathered together.  I stopped "making" the boys clean their room quite awhile ago, and they actually keep them cleaner than when I nagged.  They still get messy, but they know their mess is NOT to spill out to the rest of the house.  They also know that they have quite a few little cousins coming over, and that helps, too, because they know all their special things better be taken care of and put away right.

6. Staying connected to the One whose birth we are celebrating.  I don't do the full study time I would LIKE to do every day in reading and prayer.  But, I always try to do SOMEthing, and I try not to be too hard on myself when I feel like it "wasn't much."  It is so important to just keep remembering why we truly celebrate this season, and to not let anyone or anything steal away our JOY and hope in the birth of Jesus.  Remember WHY He came, and for WHO He came, and be thankful.

Remember the Reason for the Season

Monday, April 28, 2014

Menu Plan Monday

This week features a menu that we are doing for school, out of the "U.S. History Cookbook," by Joan D'Amico and Karen Eich Drummond.  We will be preparing and serving it on Tuesday.  :-)  We also have a few throwbacks from last week that we didn't get to, because we changed things up at the last minute, once to celebrate one of the kiddos learning how to ride a two-wheeler, and the other times just because!

Sunday:  BBQ Pulled Pork sandwiches (topped with coleslaw, yummy!)
Monday:  Hawaiian Meatloaf, Baked Potatoes, Stir-Fry Veggie
Tuesday:  Shrimp and Ham Jambalaya, Bread Pudding with Fruit, King Cake
Wednesday:  Five-Ingredient Bacon Asparagus Pasta
Thursday:  Zucchini Soup
Friday:  Sweet Garlic Chicken, Baked Potatoes, Salad or Veggies
Saturday:  Three-Layer Dinner

Have a great week everyone!  And to those who are getting a ton of rain like we are right now, hopefully the sun will soon shine on all this green!  :-)

MFW 1850's to Modern Times Week 4

This was the week I was just so happy to finish out, because I could finally see that I could do school with all three boys and be consistent about it! And, it just seems to get more and more fun each week.  ALL of us keep looking forward to school, and that is huge!

This week, we wrapped up our hymn, "Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus."  I think I can safely say it is a favorite for all of us.  Every single one of them was belting it out by the last day of the week.  It makes it a little tough for a mama to sing when she's trying not to cry!  ;-)

We did quite a variety of things for our Bible time this week, including learning about missionaries David Livingstone and Hudson Taylor, reading out of "A Young Person's Guide to Knowing God," and praying for protection over the United States from our enemies.  Our memory verse was 1 John 3:16:

Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

The boys were excited that we finished up the beginning-of-the-year handwriting practice this week!

For history, Andrew learned about the Pony Express, and he also learned more about how to read maps.  With Vincent, we read about David Livingstone's trek through the African interior, the "resurrection" of Italy, and the Taiping Rebellion in China.  One of the activities for this was to make a stencil of the front side of a Taiping coin and use it to dust powdered sugar onto a cake.  I found the last non-gluten-free cake mix in the cupboard and made a couple of round cakes for the occasion.  Strawberry!  The temptation was definitely there, but my last experience with gluten is a VERY strong deterrent!
The boys also played a round of States Rummy together, and learned about President Franklin Pierce.

For science, Andrew learned about solids, liquids, gases, melting, freezing, evaporating, and floating.  Sorry I don't have a lot of pictures from this week, but here is one of the experiments.  One plate of water went in the toaster oven (warm), and the other went in the fridge, to learn about how different temperatures affect evaporation. It's hard to see, but the one on the right (on the hot pad) has almost no water left.  Big stuff for a second grader! ;-)

I continued to read "Farmer Boy" to Andrew, and started a book called "Courage to Run," by Wendy Lawton, with Vincent.  It's about the childhood of Harriet Tubman.  It had me crying in the very first chapter.

We finished out our week with a nature walk.  This time we went to a county park reserve near our home, and I think we will be spending a lot of time there this year...we haven't even come close to exploring half of it!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Menu Plan Monday 4/21/14

We will be going through and trying many of my Pinterest recipes this week, in an effort to clear out my "Recipes to Try" board a little.  And I do mean a little.  ;-)

Sunday:  We had pizza delivered to celebrate Andrew finally learning to ride a two-wheel bike!
Monday: Baked Beef Stew, biscuits (added from last week as we didn't have it yet)
Tuesday: Chicken Enchilada Stuffed Zucchini Boats
Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday: Baked Artichoke Chicken, Bacon Green Beans, Salt & Vinegar Broiled Potatoes
Friday: Hawaiian Meatloaf (made with ground turkey), Baked Potatoes, Stir-Fry Veggies, Strawberry Pie for dessert

Have a great week, everyone!