Friday, July 21, 2017

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Canning With Kids: Strawberry Jam

Waaaaay back before we started having any sort of homesteading plans, we got inspired by Ma Ingalls and decided to try putting up jam. We had pounds and pounds of strawberries to use up... How hard could it be, after all?

Read the rest at Ginny's, then come back here for a supply list and recipes!


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

John Paul, Age 8

Who just turned 8 and has a brand new mountain bike, pocket knife, and Cubs hat & jersey? This guy! (Hey grandparents, thanks for the awesome gifts!)

Sunday, July 16, 2017

My Sunday Best, Volume 63: The Hattiest!

Happy Sunday! 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

27/52: Flowers and Piggyback Rides

Monday, July 10, 2017

Priming Yourself for Prime Day

Apparently Prime Day being on July 11 is basically Christmas in July (or really, Black Friday in July?), and there are HUGE SALES that are not to be missed. And it looks like some other retailers have caught on too, because there are some pretty big sales at other sites/stores on Tuesday the 11th as well.



It's...

affiliate links below...

- 7-11 Free Slurpee Day

- Chick-Fil-A Dress Cow Appreciation Day

- 25% off everything at regular price at ModCloth

- 40% off everything J. Crew Factory (plus free shipping with code HEATWAVE - this gingham midi skirt is my favorite thing on sale, and these striped peep toe flats are calling my name!)

And of course, sale after sale after sale on Amazon! Curious about what to look for? Here are my bets about what'll be on sale:

Kitchen Appliances:

This is a big one!

- Last year the Instant Pot went on huuuuuge sale, and I'm betting it will this year as well (if you don't have one yet, you're missing out! Total game changer).

- I just upgraded us to a new Ninja blender and use it all the time now - works so much better than our old one, and I bet they'll go on sale as well.

- A programmable slow cooker is an absolute life saver for busy parents.

- I love our Griddler, and am really hoping it goes on huge sale so I can upgrade ours for Christmas! We've had it since we got married 9 years ago and it still works great, but the new model has waffle plates you can buy, so I could get rid of TWO appliances if I got this one...

Books:

- Last year they had a couple of high-value book coupons that you could use towards ANY physical book. I'd be prepared with a wish list of books you'd like to have around (this list of chapter books is a good place to start!) - box sets like this gorgeous Puffin in Bloom collection, this Winnie the Pooh library bound set, or maybe The World of Peter Rabbit might be good options for coupons. (Currently, the code PRIMEBOOKS17 gives $5 off a $15+ book order 😊)



- If you're not already on Audible, you can currently get two free audiobooks with a 30-day free trial. Then there are also TONS of audiobooks currently on deep, deep discount that you can buy even without an audible membership. We've been listening to Little House in the Big Woods ($4!) and I've downloaded several others for seriously low prices. They've got All of a Kind Family, Mary Poppins, Charlotte's Web, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and many others all on serious sale right now.

So if you haven't already, now is the time to try a 30-day free Prime trial. There will be quite a few offers that are open ONLY to Prime members, plus Prime Members get early access to lots of deals (many of which sell out before they get opened to the general public).

Education:

- If your kids are even remotely into art, we've found that Prismacolor colored pencils are well worth the price, but I only buy them on sale. There were quite a few sets on sale on Prime Day last year, and these blend so beautifully you won't want to buy another brand ever again! Pick up some inexpensive watercolors as an add-on item, too.



- If you ever hear birds and want to be able to identify them by sight OR song, this book has been fascinating, and a great addition to any library! They have versions for other parts of the country, too. Then this nature drawing book is incredible and definitely worth owning, as well.



- I'm betting Kindle Fire Tablets will go on sale, and these are GREAT to load audiobooks onto. Grab an inexpensive bluetooth speaker (which I guarantee will also go on sale!) and you can put the kids in one room to listen to stories while you keep the tablet (and control!) in another room. Great for mandatory quiet time!

Toys & Games:

- We loooove our magformers, and they go on lightning deal pretty frequently. If you find a set for less than $1/piece, you're getting a good deal. I bet these will be heavily discounted at some point during Prime Day.



- Snap circuits are another one that I saw on sale multiple times during last year's Prime Day. These are amazing learning toys, and will keep creative kids busy for hours at a time!

- We've had a couple of incidents with scooters and cars so... It's time to grab a couple more! They were definitely on sale last year, and I'm hoping there are bikes on sale as well - we've got an 8th birthday coming up and John Paul has outgrown his bike.



Is there anything you're hoping will be deeply discounted? Are you going to be shopping, or staying off social media so you're not tempted? I'll be sharing deals that catch my eye on facebook and in my instagram stories if you want to follow along!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

My Sunday Best, Volume 62: The Sacred Unveiled

Happy Sunday! 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

26/52: Missing Teeth and Purple Potatoes

Sunday, July 2, 2017

My Sunday Best, Volume 61: Sister Style

Me: We're not wearing shoes, so just take a picture above where they would be.
John Paul:


#nailedit

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Exercise for Lazy Moms: How to (REALLY!) Get Fit and Lose the Tummy

Okay, here's the thing:

I'm. So. Lazy.

Like, back in middle school and high school when we were supposed to run the mile?

Never once did it.

I mean, I was diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma, but I milked it for all it was worth because I haaaated exercise.

But after having 6 kids in 7 years? My core was shot. My back was killing me by the end of every day. I was exhausted even when I was getting adequate sleep. And I had pretty obvious Diastasis Recti (abdominal separation) that had made my most recent pregnancy much more uncomfortable than it needed to be.

Fed up, I purchased the MuTu System when it went on sale (affiliate link!) - I was hesitant to put money towards an exercise program, since (have I mentioned this?) I hate exercising. But I knew that for me, if I shelled out money for something like this, I'd have to follow through or I'd be incredibly annoyed at having wasted that money. Then I undertook the exercise regimen for Lent, because I also needed a little spiritual motivation to get off my lazy booty.

And you guys?

It works. 

I'll tell you right now, these pictures don't show a hugely dramatic change, but the change I feel is so much more important.

Before:

3 months post-partum, a few days after starting the program and I was already seeing improvement, but had only just gotten around to taking a picture...

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

25/52: Babies and Beets


Sunday, June 25, 2017

My Sunday Best, Volume 60: A Sunday Miracle

Happy Sunday!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Sunday, June 18, 2017

My Sunday Best, Volume 59: Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day! Do you have someone in your life you're celebrating today? Are you wishing your priests a Happy Father's Day?

I got Andrew and the boys adorable matching Tolkien t-shirts from Kaitlyn's shop (affiliate link!) and grabbed muffins for breakfast, so I'm feeling proud of myself for actually remembering a gift! Did you get your husband or father something awesome? 

Friday, June 16, 2017

7 Ideas for Summer Fun




Elizabeth (age 4) came running inside the other day to tell me, "MOM! There's a whole FIELD of hawkweed! Come see!!!" 

Hawkweed is a wildflower that looks a lot like a dandelion, only with a longer, sturdier stem.

She grabbed me by the hand and dragged me out to an area of the yard that hadn't been mowed in a while, and she was right! The scraggly section of yard full of weeds had turned overnight into a treasure trove of wildflowers.



It's one of our very favorite things to do together during the spring and summer - take walks and identify the new wildflowers around us, making bouquets out of our favorites (only at home - we never pick flowers when we're at a park). And because I'm always looking for more ideas to add a little excitement and adventure to our lazy summer days, I'll give you a list of our favorites.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

23/52: Digging Potatoes

Sunday, June 11, 2017

My Sunday Best, Volume 58: Picking My Battles (and Sister Pictures)

Happy Trinity Sunday! It was super-hot today, so we dressed as lightly as we could... I had pulled out a hand-me-down dress for Edith and decided to put her in it for Mass, and then remembered that I have pictures of all three older girls wearing that same dress, sitting in the same chair. Just in case you've been wondering who looks like whom, we have...


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Week by Week, 22/52: Cherry Picking and Baby Sitting

Sunday, June 4, 2017

My Sunday Best, Volume 57: It's Pentecost and We Never Wear Red

Happy Pentecost!

This is my "quit messing with the camera settings and just take the picture already" face...

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Week by Week, 21/52: Freedom!


I needed garlic for dinner, so I dug a head out of the garden and it was bigger than Edith! So obviously I needed to take a picture.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

My Sunday Best, Volume 56: Mass in the Hot Seat

You know how "they" say that your kids will behave better if you sit in the front? Well. I've never found that to be the case with my kids. Maybe because we've always got a baby + toddler or two?

So now John Paul has expressed such a strong desire to sit right near the front & center and I can't deny him, because he really does pay better attention (and so do I), but GOSH it's nerve-wracking when Father is preaching RIGHT THERE and you and the kids are right in his line of vision... And they aren't behaving!!

Oy.

Well, we made it through Communion before I had to take fussy Edith out, so it could have gone much worse. But really kids, do you have to loudly exclaim, "Is she pooping???" right when you hear the baby let one rip?

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Week by Week, 20/52: Bike Rides, Strawberries, and CT Scans

Sunday, May 21, 2017

My Sunday Best, Volume 55: There's a Dog in the Church!

A very somber Sunday to you and yours, apparently?

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Week by Week, 19/52: Make the World More Beautiful

Sunday, May 14, 2017

My Sunday Best, Volume 54: Motherhood and Strawberry Plants

We​ were picking strawberries from our little patch yesterday when Elizabeth accidentally pulled up a whole plant! Whoops. It looks like a baby plant from last year that was already trying to send out runners AND fruit at the same time, so it didn't develop the roots it needed.


Friday, May 12, 2017

Pregnant Twins and How to Get Rid of Your Tummy {7 Quick Takes}

It's been ages since I last wrote Quick Takes, and the kids are magically playing nicely together upstairs... Let's see if this'll last! Edit: It lasted approximately 3 minutes after I started writing this. Of course!

Affiliate links included - thanks for your support!

--1--

I told you ages ago that I was exercising for Lent - I've been slooooowly making my way through the MuTu System and it's actually been amazing! I'll do a full review soon, I hope, but my Diastasis Recti is healed (those pesky separated abdominal muscles), I'm MUCH stronger (I can get into the giant van without having to grab the handles with both hands and heave myself in), and I have greatly increased energy levels, despite fairly terrible sleep from the baby. I *think* the program will be going on sale for Memorial Day, but if you know you NEED it now, it's 20% off this weekend (12:01 AM Saturday, ET to 11:59 PM Sunday, ET) with the code MOM20. Because your Mother's Day gift should totally be a healthy body! (This is my affiliate link if you decide to purchase it - I get a little bit of a kickback, so thank you!).

--2--

Library fines. Do you pay them? Do you make your kids pay them? I've been paying ours, because 100% of the time the fault is mine (don't want to drag everyone to the library, forgot to renew books, couldn't renew books because too many fines have accrued...). But right now there's a missing book (from this series, which is really fun!) and that's NOT my fault! And I really want to read it! So we'll see how I deal with those fines whenever it's located... Off to clear our account of wrongdoing today!

--3--

But I'm renewing this gem of a book, and adding it to my wish list! And it convinced me that we need to make the switch to raw milk, whenever I actually get my act together and fill out the forms...

--4--

Oh gosh, these two recent conversations with the twins? Amazing.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Week by Week, 18/52: Livestock and Sacraments





















 









Earlier this year Andrew and I talked about getting ducks, and how it would probably have to wait until next year because we had a lot going on. Well, then he decided we might as well not wait - I thought we were getting 3 or 4 ducks for the pond, but he ordered 15... And the hatchery sent 19, so evidently I'll need to learn how to cook duck!

We also got an order of 50 meat chicks (Actually 52, Cornish Cross, which Andrew doesn't want to try again because of all his research about them being "Franken-birds" but we'll see...) and they're adorable but we're obviously not getting attached, since they'll be filling our freezers in a couple of months! They'll be pastured once they're a bit bigger, and then we'll try our hand at butchering. Or rather, Andrew will and I'll keep the little kids out of the way?

The irises my mom planted last year and this year are blooming and are so, so lovely! And now I'm remembering that I also meant to plant coneflower along the front walk so that there's always something blooming out there - once the irises are done, I think that's all for the year? Unless we don't weed again and the goldenrod blooms... Actually, now I'm remembering how much the sparrows loved the weed seeds last year when we let it go, so maybe we just won't worry about it. It was so fun watching them hop around eating the seeds!

John Paul received his First Holy Communion on Sunday, and his second communion the next day. He's over the moon with excitement! We tried to get a family picture, and you can see how that went... I actually didn't get to see him receive - I was out getting Edith to sleep in the carrier, and tried to get up to the front when it was time for communion but there were people everywhere and I couldn't navigate quickly enough. Ah well, my presence wasn't the important part! Meanwhile Peter was remarkably quiet in the lobby with my mom, and the twins were complete terrors. And they wonder why they're not allowed to go to Mass together...

We celebrated at home with John Paul's requested menu of burgers, brats, and hot dogs. He wanted a white cake, and for some reason my attempt was a TOTAL failure - the cake pans overflowed and then the cake FELL! I've never had that happen before!! And I've made the same cake without any issues... My only guess is that maybe the fact that the eggs were fresh from the hens made the whites whip up too high? In any case, it tasted absolutely delicious, but I had to make changes... I made a pastry cream to go in the middle, filled it with berries, and covered it with whipped cream (which was *supposed* to be pipeable, but ended up too runny, so we just went with it). The day before, I had made a ton of tiny meringues and some meringue crosses to decorate both cakes (the other was a sourdough chocolate cake, with which I had no issues!), and the kids begged for me to let them decorate, so I relinquished control and let them. Both cakes were delicious! I think meringues might be my go-to decoration from now on - so easy and beautiful!

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