Thursday, April 5, 2007

Recipes & Menu Plans & Schedules & Tips & Resources

Schedules and I have never really gotten along. We've tried to get past simply nodding an acknowledgement when we see each other, but it never works for long. The schedule looks so nice across the room, it's organized squares all neatly filled in and ready for each and every hour. The closer I get to it, though, the more my self balks at following orders. It is a struggle I deal with all the time.

My real struggle is within myself. You see, I WANT a schedule. I NEED a schedule. But when it comes to having one in front of me, I'm fine for a day or two and then I rebel. Actually my lazy self takes over and starts questioning, "Do we really need to do that today?" "I don't feel like doing that right now. Let's do it later." ( and you know how seldom "later" comes around.) Or I just pretend that the schedule isn't even there - don't pull it out, don't look at it, don't think about it.

I've made schedules before. FLYLady has incredible lists and plans for keeping your home clean on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. MOTH - Managers Of Their Homes - by Terri Maxwell, is a great resource for any mom, but especially for homeschooling moms. With this tool you can plan everything from cleaning chores, mealtimes, schoolwork, playtime, individual time with Mom, and more. I've also given OAMC - Once A Month Cooking a try. All of these are wonderful and when I've done them, I've felt better and reaped the benefits of following The Plan.

Hawaii1 Proverbs speaks very clearly to all of my selfish delaying and ignoring:

Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man. 6:6-11

The LORD will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish: but he casteth away the substance of the wicked. He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich. He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame. 10: 3-5

He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread: but he that followeth vain persons is void of understanding. 12:11, 28:19

The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat. 13:4

There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. 14:12, 16:25

In all labor there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury. 14:23

He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster. 18:9

Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger. 19:15

Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty; open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread. 20:13

He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich. 21:17

Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established: And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches. 24:3-4

I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man. 24:30-34

Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds. For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation? The hay appeareth, and the tender grass sheweth itself, and herbs of the mountains are gathered. The lambs are for thy clothing, and the goats are the price of the field. And thou shalt have goats' milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance for thy maidens. 27:23-27

And among the Proverbs 31 Woman's many accomplishments, these are the ones I will apply to this point:

She worketh willingly with her hands . . . She riseth while it is yet night . . . with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard . . . She is not afraid of the snow for her household . . . She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.

Hawaii2 Very sobering words. The LORD is very clear about the differences between the wise and diligent man (woman) and the slothful fool and the rewards each will reap. I KNOW the benefits of a schedule, or at the very least a regular routine. So, with wisdom and grace, I am taking small steps to add order to our days.

One of the first ways I've been doing this is making a weekly school assignment sheet for each of the children. The basic idea for this came again from Terri Maxwell at If you'll take some time to explore the site, you will find a treasure trove of ideas for just about everything. (I was blown away when I first saw examples of other families chore charts and the regular tasks that three-year-olds were doing when I thought my five-year-old was too young. ) Here is where I saw examples of assignment sheets. We don't always follow the assignments exactly, and the children are free to work ahead in any area they'd like to, but it is a guide for our day and the children's time. We've been using this for over a year now, sometimes loosely and sometimes more structured to fit the situation, with pretty good success.

I've also been working slowly and steadily at cleaning and organizing the most used corners of our home. These are the corners where everything gets set down and it takes constant vigilance to keep picked up and clean. There is no trick to this. It simply takes plain old-fashioned diligence. FLYLady's site has a lot of great helps for decluttering your home, basic routines for cleaning, and encouragements, too. As she always says, "You can do anything for 15 minutes!"

What I'm currently working on is planning at least a weekly menu for our meals. In the past I've excitedly written out the plan and gone shopping for necessary ingredients, only to get busy or off track and cook two or three of the six planned meals. My other problem is that when I sit down to plan, my mind gets fuddled and I can only remember about 7 meals that we like and eat regularly. So, in order to be realistic and have a better foundation for planning, I've been using Crystal's really cute Menu Planning Calendars for the past few months to keep track of what we eat, how often we end up eating out, have leftovers, etc. It has been a great tool and an eye-opener, too. Looking over the past two months it is very interesting to see that we have spaghetti every other week, and always on Monday. Hmm . . . Now, honestly, I haven't been totally diligent, and there are some nights where nothing is written because by the time I thought about it - usually four or five days later - I could only remember the last few meals and not what we had four nights ago! I'm trying a lot of new recipes this month also and so my plan is to keep track of what we eat for the rest of this month and then in May try my hand at actually planning breakfasts and dinners with enough leftovers for lunch the next day.

So, what are some of the new recipes we've tried? Well, again, Crystal, a homeschooling, homesteading mother of 8 and grandmother to 1 sweet granddaughter, has just the greatest site and the best information on all kinds of things (I'd like to be her when I grow up!) In her Homestead Kitchen, she has a wide variety of nutrition information and wonderful recipes. We've been cooking with beans this week.

Now the first thing you need to do is soak your beans in water overnight, or at least set them to soak in the morning for use that night. The reason for this is that legumes (beans), grains, nuts and seeds naturally have phytic acid. Phytic Acid is called an antinutrient because it binds to calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc. Essentially, it is a magnet for these minerals and will either attract them from the foods you are eating or will draw them from your own body. NOT a good thing. Soaking helps to remove the phytic acid as well as making the other nutrients more available for you to digest. Beans can simply soak in water but grains will need to soak in water with whey, yogurt or buttermilk which have lactic acid to help break down the grain and increase the nutrients available for you to digest. Good thing! What does all this take? Advance planning! What am I working on? Advance planning and eating healthier! A Perfect Fit!!

(Note: Brown Rice or any other similar grain is soaked using the amount of water needed for cooking PLUS 2 Tablespoons of whey, plain yogurt with live cultures, or cultured buttermilk. Soak at least 7 hours and then cook for normal cooking time. Beans are soaked in lots of water - cover and double. Drain water after soaking overnight or all day, then add fresh water for cooking. As beans cook, skim off foam that comes to surface and add more water if needed. Beans will need to cook for two hours or until tender. Both of these are easily cooked the day before and saved in the refrigerator for use the next day for quick and nutritious easy meals.)

Okay - Okay - Recipes! We started off our week with Crystal's recipe for Sloppy Joe's. These were Great! Healthy soaked black beans and all natural ingredients and full of flavor. I had the last of the leftovers of this two days later and it was even better than the first night. Definitely a recipe that will be added to our list of favorites. Next we had Red Beans & Rice. I had soaked and cooked the beans and the rice the day before, so this went together really easily for our lunch. For me, it was alright but what surprised me is that son and husband - one of which doesn't like brown rice and the other who likes neither brown rice nor beans - both really enjoyed this! Wow! Maybe we won't have it as often, but certainly one to keep in our recipe box. Refried Beans and Refried Bean Soup are planned for next week, and son wants to try the Bean Burgers (with brown rice.)

Great! I've covered recipes, menu planning, scheduling, and lots of priceless resources. Let me give you one more resource and a tip to finish off with.

If you are interested in feeding healthy foods to your family and haven't read Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, then I would encourage you to check it out. I found it at my local library and so was able to look through it to decide if it was worth purchasing. It Is! I don't agree with everything she has in the book, but WOW! What an abundance of history and information about all the ways people ate for centuries without the diseases and cancers we face on an almost daily basis in our current culture of "instant food."

Hawaii3 Tip: Toothpaste!! Did you know that you can clean things, besides your teeth, with toothpaste?

Use plain white toothpaste 1/2 and 1/2 with petroleum jelly to clean wooden instruments such as guitars and violins.

White toothpaste will remove Kool-Aid or juice stains from little faces - and big faces, too! ;-)

Use toothpaste with flouride to clean silver flatware.

Use toothbrush and toothpaste to clean your jewelry. It polishes beautifully! (I tried it this morning and my wedding ring is glistening today!)

You had no idea, did you? ;-)

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