Monday, October 31, 2011

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Halloween and other stuff

Our little friend, Corey joined Sarah, Emily, Kyle, Amber, Tyler and Steve for trick-or-treating tonight! This is a great neighborhood and everyone had so much fun! They brought home enough candy to fill a very big pinata....hmmmm. :)

Ian just asked if Gremlins are real. YES! Duh! :) They are watching that movie right now. Classic..?

My first batch of paperwork for Independent Studies with Tyler were due Friday. Innovations Academy Charter School is set up to allow for 3 day a week or 5 day a week program K-8. The idea is that you can home school part time. I opted to do the 3 day a week with Tyler but didn't make that decision until a couple weeks into the school year. Maybe that was the problem or maybe it was this teacher. Either way, I did all the paperwork wrong according to the teach which really upset me! Ask Steve as he has had to listen to me rant about it for 2 days now. I was able to contact the right person and I think things are going in a better direction now. I think. I hope. This is Kindergarten. It should not be this difficult.

I am thinking of gathering all of my recipes, methods to the madness and such into a book. Not a book for sale but I could put it on here and maybe find one of those companies that will print a small number of your book for you, (they are pretty popular in Colorado so this should be easy enough).  Maybe my kids would one day like to have such a thing. What do you think?

I am thankful for my family and all of the blessing and challenges they bring me every moment of every day!     Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Cow Talk and More Cooking

It was great to see my friend Angie at the Scripps Ranch Farmer's market this morning and to meet her husband and son. Tyler had a great time trick-or-treating as Spider man at the farmer's market. We ordered our cow and pig and I cannot wait to get them next weekend! In the process I learned a lot about grass fed cows....probably more than anyone should know. Ours was a heifer and according to Dave from Da Le Ranch she was beautiful and well rounded. I didn't ask about the pig. That was more than I needed to know! Grass fed cows have a higher amount of Omega 3 and taste sooo good! That is actually all you need to know.

Steve, Sarah, Emily and Kyle went to a Halloween/Birthday party today. Emily and Sarah were Zombie Prom Queens and Kyle was a ghost thing.  They were pretty scary!

Jacob spent the day at Scripps Ranch High School with the drama department, getting things squared away for a production there.

Ian , Amber, Tyler and I held down things at home this afternoon. I did a whole bunch of cooking!
I made enough sauce for 3 spaghetti meals, including a ton of little meatballs. I made the meatballs out of 2lbs of ground turkey, 1 lb ground beef and 1 lb Italian sausage, (bread crumbs, egg, onion, garlic, basil, oregano, sage, rosemary, A-1 sauce, salt and pepper). The meat balls were a little smaller than ping pong balls.  Into the sauce went the usual spaghetti sauce ingredients plus V-8 juice, beef broth and pureed squash and carrots.
I cooked a big batch of ground meat, turkey and beef, with onion and garlic to freeze for tacos. I brown the meat almost done in a big cast iron skillet. Then add a couple cups of water and finish cooking it. I let it cool enough to handle the pan and pour it into a strainer. When I re-heat it there won't be any fat left in it. I scoop it into freezer Ziploc bags and freeze it flat. The same with the sauce by the way. I freeze it in Ziploc bags lying flat.
Last but not least was putting as much chicken on the bone as I could squeeze into my crock pot with onion, garlic. a couple cans of chicken broth and water. I am about to go pull it off the bone now and freeze it for soup or dumplings or maybe pot pie.

We need to go get a pumpkin for carving tomorrow and maybe make some pumpkin cookies. I have a great recipe for those but I haven't made them in a long time.

The kids were playing Wii this evening for the first time in awhile. They are fun to watch! We need to get them doing that more often although the space they have to play in is rather...smallish. This can be a problem for some of the games...I don't think bowling is supposed to be a contact sport!

Elisa (my daughter who is in Colorado), told me tonight that her debit card number was stolen and someone in California made 3 ATM withdrawals totally $600. Her card itself was never missing. The bank, (Wells Fargo) is handling it and will be refunding her money to her account within 48 hours. Thank goodness!

Yesterday I rescued a Martha Washington Geranium from what will eventually be a planter box at Innovations Academy. Now I get to nurse it back to health and take it back. I also volunteered to be in charge of the Kindergarten class' planter box which doesn't even have any dirt yet. It is about 2' x 4' and 15" deep. Dirt!!! Well not yet but soon. I am hoping to be able to get Walter Anderson Nursery to donate some soil and a few plants to the project. There are actually 4 such planters and only one has anything in it....1/2 filled with a mulch sort of soil-ish stuff and a near dead geranium. This sounds like just my kind of project!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Saturday Chores Cleaning Tips

Usually Saturday mornings we do a lot of chores around here. I start taking a look on Friday evening at what needs to get done.It is not as complicated as it my seem. There is a chart of our fridge that says who does what each day and on Saturday. Everyone has one dishwasher day each week and a couple of other chores on Saturday as well as 1-2 nights that they clean up after dinner. I just recently did a
re-org and the new assignments seem to be working out pretty well.  I also throw in whatever else needs doing as needed on Saturday morning. For example, wiping the door frames, switch plates and banisters and spider hunting.

I put the bathroom cleaning supplies in a tote so they just have to pick it up and get to work. There are 2 full baths upstairs and a guest bath downstairs, (Ian has downstairs, Jacob hall bath, Emily and Sarah take turns with the master bath). Something that works amazing on the soap scum in the bathroom is dryer sheets. I kid you not! Take a couple in the shower with you, wipe everything down, rinse it before you get out and everything sparkles! If the shower is especially bad, get some Fume-Free Easy Off oven cleaner. It MUST be FUME-FREE. Spray it all over before you go to bed and wipe/rinse it down in the morning. Did you know that if you use bar soap you will have a much more difficult mess to clean up? The shower gel type stuff leaves much less residue behind.

To save money we use cloth dish towels instead of paper towels. I have always had a basket on the counter with a couple dozen towels, (we go through most of them each day). Last week Steve put an under the counter basket up above the sink so it frees up some counter space for me.

Use a slightly damp micro-fiber towel to dust with. It traps the dust instead of putting it back into the air.

I use baskets for toys and misc. all over the house. It makes things a little easier to pick up and organize and fells less cluttered. There is a basket for all the electronic charges and various cords that are used fairly regularly. A basket for mail and papers. One for bread, (bread, bagels, etc) and another for snacks.  The basket on the end table is for Nintendo Gameboys and cartridges. We have several laundry baskets and use them for tossing in the toys then putting them away from there. In the garage I use a lot of Rubbermaid bins for storage. No one has a laundry hamper in their room. I would never get all the laundry clean if I didn't have them put their laundry in the basket next to the washer everyday. I only do 4-5 loads of wash a week with my new front load high efficiency machines, by the way!

I use Borax to clean a lot of things, bathroom and kitchen. Also baking soda and vinegar. A magic eraser is a must have in any house, I think! You can wash your stove top parts, (burner pans and knobs), in the dishwasher once in awhile. Did you know that hand sanitizer will take ink, any Sharpie, off of most surfaces? Baby wipes are great for ink pen stains on clothes. Take the shower curtain down and throw it in the washer with a load of towels and some Borax. You can toss it into the dryer with the towels for about 10 minutes and hang it back up while it is still warm.

Ants? Sprinkle corn meal around outside for them and they will soon be gone....for awhile anyway. The always come back. An exterminator told me about this. It works and is animal and kid safe. They carry it into their nest and when they eat it, well, ants should definitely not eat corn meal!

Tomorrow a few of us are heading over to the Scripps Ranch Farmer's Market in the morning to pay for our beef and pig order with Da Le Ranch.  Although, I hear that the Poway Farmer's Market has the best produce so we may pop over there as well!

Thanks Angie for the info on the babysitting class for Emily! Can anyone recommend a carpet cleaning company for us?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Field trips,birthday, a fever, green beans and a cow

Emily had a school field trip to Mission Bay and Torrey Pines beach this week. They made kites to fly at the bay and checked out some marine birds and such at the beach. Amber's class walked to a local pumpkin patch/carnival near the school. She brought home a little pie pumpkin that she will decorate with a sharpie then cook into a pie!

The kids are talking about what they will be for Halloween. Kyle, Emily, Sarah and Steve are going to a Halloween/birthday party on Saturday that they will dress up for so they get a dress rehearsal with their costume choices!

Tyler is sick with a fever today. He has had a little cold and tends to get big fevers no matter how little the ill is. Hopefully he will be well in time to have some Halloween fun. He doesn't got to school on Monday or Friday, as part of our part-time home schooling program at Innovations Academy so he wont be at school on Halloween. He is welcome to attend the celebration but with all his food allergies, we are going to pass.

Sarah made Jacob quite the cake for his 17th birthday! Then we had Aunt Melissa, Cousin Savannah, Grandma and Grandpa Iwig over for cake and presents! 

Aunt Melissa is also who we got the other freezer from, as well as a few window  a/c units! Thank You!!  This means I can go ahead with ordering the fresh beef. The cow we are buying 1/2 of went to market on Tuesday so it will be a week or so before we get the meat. We are also buying 1/4 of a pig. I need to see what the weight is on all of this and make a guess about how many meals this will be...I will let you know. We are splitting it all with my friend Angie's family and also planning on doing some cooking together very soon!

Steve grilled chicken and fish for dinner tonight and I made my ever popular deep fried green beans. Little Corey brought us some apples today I cut them and cooked them in some cinnamon and a little sugar. Throw in some sweet potato fries and we had to roll away from the dinner table! Poor Tyler fell asleep right before dinner and woke with a 104 temp!

Our beautiful orb spider on the back porch, Peter, is doing well. We saw him with a large bug, enjoying a meal this morning. This afternoon a bit of his amazingly large web was broken. It will be interesting to see if he rebuilds or moves on now.

Emily has been getting some babysitting jobs in the neighborhood as of late. I have looked and cannot find the Red Cross Supersitters Course in the area. Does anyone know anything about this or where they might be offered? I emailed Red Cross but did not get a response.

Steve got all his paperwork, TB test and fingerprinting done for his new job. It looks like he will start work on Monday! Woo Hoo!

Here's a video Sarah took with her camera a few weeks ago of the bike riders, Amber, Emily and Tyler.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fortune Cookie

I got lunch at Pick Up Stix today and my fortune cookie says, "Important discussion involving you will take place today." Alright, who is talking about me?!

I am grateful today for so many things in my life. As many of you know, we have really been through it, both the Iwig's and Toohey's, this past year!  Despite the challenges each day brings for our family we are all doing quite well and I am very grateful for that. It helps a lot to be living in a place of great as San Diego!

Speaking of San Diego, I am going to get a family Membership to the Scripps Birch Aquarium. It's a great price and I think, especially with the home schooling with Tyler, we will make good use of it. I haven't been in about 10 years so I am looking forward to it!

I made a couple of pumpkin pies yesterday. Walmart has the evaporated milk and canned pumpkin out for such I good price that I had to make pies! No one complained so I guess it's OK :)

My 2002 Toyota Corolla was a great buy for me but it needed new tires. It had 3 of the original tires on it and one odd ball that was actually a different size. Since the car only had about 33,000 miles on it I guess it makes sense that it never had new tires. Anyway, after some research I found the best deal at Big O Tires and my little car now has new shoes! I have an appointment to have it smogged and the oil changed on Friday so I am hoping that all goes well.

Meat! We are getting another chest freezer tomorrow. I just bought a 5 cu.ft. one and this one is 7 cu.ft. I thought it would be a good thing to look into buying a side of beef. Easier said than done in this part of the country! I found a great little farm called Da Le Ranch that is in Lake Elsinore. Their beef is grass fed and they have other meat as well. I am going to split a 1/2 with a friend so we get a better price AND they will bring the meat to me! They are at the Farmer's Market in Scripps Ranch on Saturdays. They are at quite a few Farmer's Markets actually. You can check out their schedule at their website (which is under construction by the way) or on their Facebook page!/da.le.ranch. They told me I could actually go meet my meat, see the cow that I am buying 1/2 of. I think I am going to pass on that one!

Tyler rediscovered the keyboard last night and Sarah caught some hilarious video of him playing music and dancing. I will work at putting some of that up later! He is full of personality lately. He came running in the house to get his bike helmet yesterday afternoon and was just talking out loud, not realizing anyone else could hear him. He said, "Yes! I do need a helmet to drive a sandwich!" He got mad when Sarah answered him with, "yes, yes, you do!".  Embarrassed, he yelled, "I was talking to me, not you!"

Yesterday I bought a twirly thing at the kite store in Sea Port Village for Tyler. It's a stick with a propeller and top that you spin off your hands. He and Corey loved it so I paid the $5 for it. All the kids loved it, including the neighbors. So I looked up Aeroprop online and sent off an email. They called back this morning and the sales rep was shocked that I had paid so much for the toy. This is a wholesale company so I was expecting that if they would even sell to me, I would have to buy a gross of the things. Well, hearing my story about how I got it, how much I paid and why I wanted to buy more, he offered to sell me 50 at wholesale.....80 cents each! No wonder he was so surprised by how much I had paid for Tyler's! Free shipping and they are already in transit so there will soon be Aeroprops all over the neighborhood!

Here are a couple of pictures of Peter the Orb Spider living on the back porch!

What are you grateful for?
Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Red Dye #40

Tyler has a sensitivity to red dye #40. It's pretty bad stuff and is banned in several countries actually. He has a cold though and that will quickly trigger and asthma attack so I had to give him some decongestant. There is red dye #40 in just about every liquid medicine. Usually, even a small amount of the stuff sends him flying like you would not believe. He gets very aggressive and wild-eyed. Maybe he is outgrowing it now or maybe I got enough benedryl in his system to counter-act some of the effects because he is sitting watching "Hocus Pocus" as calm and quiet as can be!

Chicken with rosemary and onion is in the crock pot and is competing with the aroma of another loaf of spice bread in the bread machine....mmmmm.

Here is the recipe for the bread:
Yogurt and Pumpkin Spice Bread (bread machine)
Put the ingredients in the machine in the order given
1/3 c. vanilla yogurt
1/3 c. water
2 tbsp. olive oil (vegetable would work fine)
1 c. canned pumpkin (I used a blend of acorn squash, carrots, zucchini and pumpkin)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. corn meal (or wheat germ)
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (I added an additional 1/4 tsp cinnamon)
1/3 c. sugar
3 c. flour (bread flour is better)
2 tsp. yeast
Serve with cinnamon butter (1/4 tsp cinnamon, tsp of sugar, 1/2 c. butter)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Moving Along Through The Weekend

Friday was a home school day for Tyler.  Emily, Kyle and Amber got out at noon so we got a head start on the weekend!

I was thinking that since I can get another chest freezer for free that is 7 cu ft. I should take it and buy a half a cow. I am working on that plan but if anyone knows of a place in San Diego, etc. where I can buy a side of beef please let me know!

Jacob has been hard at work the past few days filling out applications for a part-time job. He turns 17 in a few days, by the way!

I have been working on trying some new things with Winter squash the past few days. The butternut squash is so good and the kids love it with a little butter and brown sugar. I pureed the acorn squash with carrots and zucchini and froze it in 2/3 cup portions. I will use this in spaghetti sauce to sneak in some veggies. I am trying it in a bread machine recipe, substituting it for pumpkin puree so I'll let you know how that goes.

The old washer and dryer have been sold and are now out of the garage! Just in time to make room for the additional chest freezer. We need a bigger garage...bigger house for that matter.

I am missing having a garden, especially now, living in a place where you can grow great stuff year round. The pot by the front door with the rosemary and petunias just isn't enough dirt for me!
I read today about using a dryer sheet to clean your crock pot. I don't think I will try this. I use dryer sheets to clean shower doors. It will make quick work of even the worst soap scum in the bath/shower. I am thinking I don't want this stuff anywhere near our food!

In my research about where to buy a side of beef here, I found a farm in Lake Elsinore that has a huge vericompost farm. They sell the bins and worms or just bags of castings or bottles of compost tea as well. I have always wanted to have a worm farm and the kids, although they are completely interested at the moment, would probably like it too. Maybe this would be something I can do with Kyle's class at Innovations Academy. They are hoping to start a garden at the school and are all about "green". It doesn't get any greener than worm poop!

Amber, Tyler, Kyle and I spent a little time at the Halloween Carnival at the local elementary this afternoon while Sarah, Ian and Steve ran errands. Kyle actually went into the haunted house, a 4 ticket experience, by himself while the little ones and I waited. He survived!
Ian and Tyler have been hanging out together more lately. it was interesting to watch them play spies out front this afternoon!

You should have heard the very in-depth conversation concerning Sponge-Bob this afternoon. It was awesome because it was a subject everyone had something to say about from the oldest to the youngest. Interesting.

The 5 oldest kidlets are spending the evenings watching the Harry Potter movies. They are on the 3rd movie tonight.

Steve installed a metal basket on the underside of the cabinet over the sink to hold dishtowels for me today. We have a pile of dish towels which we use instead of paper towels in the kitchen. I had a basket on the counter filled with them but I need the counter space. This was the perfect solution. We looked at ikea, Lowe's for what we needed but finally Steve found it at Home Depot. I am thinking about more places this idea would work well in.

Time to get the bread out of the bread machine...I can't wait to taste it! *(It was REALLY good!)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday already?

Yesterday my new LG washer and dryer arrived! I had bought it at Home Depot almost 3 weeks ago but it wasn't in stock so I had to wait... Now I have them, Woo hoo! The kids think the best thing about it is the 2 giant boxes they came in!
Somehow, the arrival of the washer and dryer meant some furniture had to be moved around in the house. The new little freezer didn't fit next to the washer/dryer like I had hoped and I didn't love it being next to the trash cans so I had Ian and Jacob bring it into the kitchen. It is packed full thanks to Aunt Melissa who is moving and gave us her deep freeze contents! That meant moving the utility cart thingy into the dining room. That meant cleaning the floor, re-organizing the freezer since I had everything out of it to move it....etc etc. It is the "If you Give A Mouse A Cookie" type of thing.
Meanwhile, 2 apple pies got baked. They were delicious but it takes longer to prep apples for pie than I thought. But, it was worth it as the pies were delicious! Recipe for 2 pies: 19 peeled, cored and sliced granny smith apples sprinkled with lemon juice, 3 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1-3/4 c. sugar, 2/3 c. flour. Mix in a big bowl and divide into shells (store bought are great!). Cut about a tablespoon of butter into bits and put on top of the apples before putting on the top crust. Slit crust, cover edges with foil. Bake on 400 for 45 min. Remove foil and bake 10-15 more minutes.
I also tried my hand at making butternut squash and acorn squash. Sarah, Emily, Kyle, Ian and Jacob liked the pre-packaged butternut. I got at Costco the other day. It wasn't that much work and tasted great. It was worth the effort. The acorn squash wasn't so great and was harder to fix. I am pureeing that to use in some muffins this weekend.
Kyle and Emily had their student led conferences with Steve yesterday. That went well and resulted in Steve working in Emily's class this morning on their donated lap tops!
I have to say that it is so wonderful to be in a place in my life that does not involve any real drama!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Kyle and "Power Writing"

My Son Kyle had his Parent / Teacher conference tonight. We talked over what he does at Innovations Academy. Well he cracks his teacher up for one thing, Bill and Kyle couldn't keep from making each other laugh. Bill told Kyle to read me one of his "Power Writing" essay's. I posted it to the left, I had to take a picture of it. It states: " If my friends threw a party and didn't invite me, I would throw my own party and make it better than their party. And if they heard about it and came over I would just say "Suck It" and kick them out and then say "Bye Sucker Fools" ans slam the door and crash their party with cockroaches." That's my boy!!

Apple Pie

I'm not much of a pie maker but those granny smith apples at Sprout's looked so good that a bought a big bunch of them. So, now I am heading to the kitchen to make some pies! I will let you know how that turns out!
The new washer and dryer are being delivered by Home Depot this afternoon! It is so exciting that I didn't do laundry yesterday so we would have EXTRA today. is true!
The child-led conferences for Amber and Tyler went well yesterday. I learned that Tyler spends most of his time in class at the math center and Amber almost never goes to the math center in her class...interesting. We brought home a beautiful succulent from Tyler's class to re-pot and return. The pot had gotten broken at school.Grandma Iwig provided the pot for us.  Notice the bike helmet. Once he puts it on after school, he doesn't take it off until dinner, even if he isn't riding his bike or scooter. You never know when you may need to quickly jump on your bike!
Fascinating Blender Fact #2: We buy about 8 gallons of milk a week and 4 loaves of sandwich bread. How much toilet paper do you think we go through in a week?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Dinner at our house

Every few days Kyle has some thing or another fall apart on his bike. We were at WalMart today to buy another inner tube for him and took a look at the bikes. As it happened, there was a boy bike just his size on clearance! Kyle was super excited to find the new wheels in the garage when he came home from school today.

At this moment there are 4 small pork roasts(simmering in Kraft Honey BBQ sauce, vidalia sweet onion dressing and a red onion), in the crock pot for dinner tomorrow night and some in the freezer for another night.  Costco had them on sale for $ the 4, prepackaged roast were only about $15. Upon hearing how many children we have, people often ask about how I feed this brood. I recently figured out that the average dinner meal for the family costs about $17, not counting electricity. Of course now that I have replaced the heating elements on the stove, have gone to using my electric skillet as often as I can and cooking with the crock pot at least once a week, I am thinking, (hoping), I am using less electricity for dinner. For most meals I cook about 3-4 pounds of meat. I add protein to meals by putting quinoa in things like rice pilaf,  I use broth instead of water for gravies and sauces and many other dishes. I throw black beans in here and there and use smashed pinto beans in sauces to thicken them and add protein. Most of the kids like soy beans (edamame).  3 of the kids have life threatening allergies to peanuts and tree nuts so I don't use any nuts at all in our home. Veggies can be a problem with some of the kids so I get a little sneaky with them. I add pureed veggies to sauces, veggie broth wherever I can, sneak extra veggies in small amounts into fresh salads, pasta salads. I serve at least 3 fruits or veggies with dinner every night, very few canned. A great new discovery is that most of the kids like butternut squash! All the kids must choose at least one vegetable every dinner. Some of the kids eat all the veggies served! So every dinner meal has a meat, several veggies and a side dish, (rice, potatoes, pasta etc). I rarely cook from recipes exactly except for things like breads but I would love to hear some new ideas for dinner from our friends!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

In Other news....

The new chore list is out! It goes into effect tomorrow my sweets so be sure to check the chart on the fridge!

Tyler had to go shopping for a birthday gift for a girl. I made suggestions but he said it had to be something really girly, like lip gloss. At the store he wanted to go right to the chap stick because, "that's what she really needs", I said to my 5 year old boy, "How do you know she needs chap stick? Did you kiss her?" He did not think this was at all funny but picked out a purple calculator instead!

Kyle, Emily, Amber and Steve had a great time at Hendrix Pond feeding the ducks this afternoon. Ian wanted to try the generic, no sugar puff cereal I got for less than a dollar for duck feeding. He declared it more fit for ducks than 14 year old boys.

Fascinating Blender Fact #1: We do an average of 8 loads of laundry a week. (I am still waiting for my new LG front load stackable HE washer and dryer to arrive!)

White Grout

No matter how many times the kitchen tile floor was cleaned with the Shark Steamer the cleaning pad was just black. Sadly, my Shark stopped working a few days ago so now I am looking for a new one.  Somehow that brings me to spending the afternoon cleaning the grout! I was sitting on the kitchen floor to, nevermind why, and I notice that the grout is REALLY dirty. A toothbrush, bleach, backache and red knees make me wonder if there is not an easier way to do this! I gave up going to "Pump It Up"  with Tyler for his classmate's birthday to do this. Do I know how to have fun or what?! I still have the hallway  grout to do so I hope to figure out a better way soon! The kitchen floor looks amazing by the way!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Friends of Retired Greyhounds is having an auction!

A Typical Saturday

Several haircuts, Senior pictures, Sad boy with a flat tire on a bike, Supper cooking, So much cleaning, Single load of laundry, Stove heating elements required 2 trips to Home Depot, Side job for Steve, Strawberry baskets for blowing bubbles, Scooters, Stroll to Starbucks for Sarah, Emily, Amber and Tyler, Showing of "Nightmare Before Christmas", Showers and Spiders!