29 August 2014

Candy? Cake? Candycake!

Our annual cake auction is this Sunday at church and I always make Josiah's favorite birthday cake.

 But this year, I wanted to try something a little different.  Also, I may not have been in the mood to bake.  So I made a candy cake.
I grabbed seven boxes of the boxed movie theater candy from Walmart, a box of Airheads and a bag of Halloween candy. 

I stood the boxes on end in a circle and taped them together with clear packing tape.  I also added a couple of small pieces of tape underneath the boxes and between the cake board to keep it from shifting.

Then lay out your Airheads and tape them along the back.  Add an additional piece of tape to the bottom facing out so that it will stick to the inside of the candy box circle.

Now you have a candy circle with a big hole in the middle. 

Fill the hole with your remaining Airheads and top with the little candy bars.  To be honest, it was a huge hole so I also put the empty Airheads box in, then stuffed the sides and top with all the candy.  I didn't want to go back to the store.
Add a ribbon and that's it.


23 July 2014

Plan to Can: How to eat from your garden year round.

If you've been following my blog for any time at all, you know I like to can.  Not in the "If I could spend a day doing anything, I would can" type of way, but in the "I like to know where the food I feed my family is coming from" way.  It's an effort to spend days putting up food, but it's worth it. 

When I plan my garden - or in this year's case - my trip to the auction, I always go with an idea in mind of what I need to put up for the winter.  Yes, it's fun to make pepper jelly and special relishes but that's not what's going to put food on the table all winter.  The bulk of my canning is for food on the table purposes.  Just a small portion goes to making all those weird but beautiful things you see in the Ball Blue Book. 

Since auction day is coming up in a couple of weeks, I've already started my canning plan.  There's nothing hard about making a plan.  You simply figure out how many quarts of an item you use a week or month and plan to can that much or more.  For example, if I use 1 quart of green beans a week, I plan to can 52 quarts to get me through until the next year.  Now of course, you're always dependent on what your garden has produced or in my case, what is being brought to auction. 

This is my canning plan at this point:

30 quarts of carrots
50 quarts of potatoes
20 quarts of applesauce
20 quarts of peaches
20 pints peach salsa
50 quarts of spaghetti sauce
20 pints of pizza sauce
25 quarts of sauce and peppers (like Oliverio's)
25 pints of peppers
20 quarts of salsa
20 pints of strawberry or tomato jelly (I may be too late for strawberry and believe it or not, you can make tomatoes taste like strawberry jelly by using jello)
10 pints of pepper jelly

I'll also plan on making a turn of vegetable sandwich spread from the ends of all the veggies.  I was given that recipe and the tomato jelly recipe from a patient last year.  One of the best benefits of working home health is getting to meet old farmer's wives who have great canning recipes. 

If there's a great deal of green beans, squash or corn, I'll probably go ahead and can them as well, but I'm actually pretty well stocked with those right now. 

Going with a plan will give me an idea of what I need to pick up at the auction.  Of course, depending on prices, I may get more or less of what my plan is and that's OK.  It's all about being flexible and working with what you can get. 

What are you going to can this year?

21 July 2014

Menu Plan Monday for July 21st.

Oh my goodness!  It's almost noon on Monday and I haven't told you what we're eating this week.  How are you surviving?

I really have absolutely no good reason for being behind on my blog (or dishes, or laundry) today other than the fact that the boys & I have been having a paper airplane battle most of the morning.  I did not win.  At all. 

I did, however, decide to start the 31 Days to Clean challenge that I did a couple of years back after seeing the folded laundry on the couch and the paper airplane debris.  I have about 31 days until I start school again.  I almost seems like a sign, right?

Along with this week's menu, I'm also hoping to get a little baking done.  These boys are eating me out of house and home lately. 

Here's the plan:

Monday:  Spaghetti & meatballs, salad and garlic bread
Tuesday:  Meatball hoagies, carrots & dip, grapes
Wednesday:  BBQ chicken on a can, green beans and foil potatoes
Thursday:  Uncle J's dish on tortillas and peaches
Friday:  Pizza night
Saturday:  Steak, baked potato and green beans
Sunday:  Steak salads

I'm also planning on a baking day Wednesday to stock up on some snacks and treats like brownies, granola and bagels.  I'm also dragging out my canner to put up some spaghetti sauce this week.  We're hoping to harvest our honey on Saturday.  It's finally that time of year - time to start canning!  WooHoo! 

Check back later this week and I'll let you in on how I decide what to can and how much to can each year, as well as my curriculum choices for this year. 

17 July 2014

My July Reading List.

Hi.  I'm Charli and I'm a book hoarder.

I've heard that admitting your problem is the first step, so here goes.

I love books.  I love to read.  And honestly, until the past year or two, I had no time to read for myself.  I was too busy with little guys.  The only reading I routinely did was limited to in depth works such as Llama, Llama, Mad at Momma or One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.  I mean after the 376th reading, there's really not much more to be said about a mad llama or oddly rhyming fish. 

While perusing my Kindle for something to read last night, I realized I have a bit of a problem.  Between free (or really cheap) deals on ebooks and the wonder that is WVDELI, where I can make giant wish lists and check out ebooks for free from the comfort of my home, I have a ton of books that I've squirrelled for later and not actually read. 

So I've decided that each month I'm going to list the four books for me that I'd like to read as well as my current read a loud with the boys. 

Here's my list for the remainder of July:

A Woman of Courage on the West Virginia Frontier by Robert N. Thompson
     This is the story of Phebe Tucker Cunningham, her life in the Alleghenies and the ways of the          Wyandot tribe, including her marriage at Prickett's Fort.  This is available from WVDELI to  
     check out for free.

Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine
      Crystal Paine and her blog Money Saving Mom are one of my favorite blogs.  She has great time
      saving and money saving tips.  I've actually read the first five chapters of this book, then life got
      busy and I put it down.  I'm excited to finish this.

The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson
     We're actually doing this as a group Bible study at church on Wednesday nights.  I'll be honest,
      I thought the whole "circle making" bit was a little gimmicky at first, but there is some great
     truths in this book.  I'm enjoying this study.

As far as read alouds, we're still on a Dan Gutman kick.  If you haven't read his My Weird School series you should.  The boys have really enjoyed it and it's at WVDELI to check out for free.  This month, we're going to read The Genius Files:  Mission Unstoppable.

I know, I know.  This is only part of my reading goal.  Well, it's only part of a month since I came up with this idea!  It's at least three more books that I can mark off my big ol' list.

And don't forget to comment below or on my Facebook page letting me know what you're reading.  Because while I know I have a book squirreling problem, I'm also aware that I'm not going to stop.

I'd love to know what books have caught your attention.