3 Kids and Us and KitchenAid want to make your holiday wish come true and offer you the chance to win a brand new KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer (link underlined words to http://3kidsandus.com/2010/kitchenaid-giveaway), in your choice of over 20 colors, valued at $349.99!
(feel free to snag the giveaway image from above to insert in your post here)
Enter the KitchenAid Stand Mixer Giveaway (link underlined words to http://3kidsandus.com/2010/kitchenaid-giveaway/) and check out the Homemade Holiday Feast recipes (link underlined words to http://3kidsandus.com/homemade-holiday-feast/)that show all the ways the KitchenAid Stand Mixer and attachments can be used to create unique family dishes and save you counter space with one appliance that can be converted to meet your every need.
Monday, November 29, 2010
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Blue Jean Book Bag
This is a pretty easy sewing project. It is a cute book bag made from an old pair of blue jeans. You can see a picture of the finished project here:
What you will need:
A pair of old jeans A cotton belt (instructions to make one follow) or a silk type scarf would work too
Step #1 Take a pair of jeans and zip up the front of them and turn them inside out. With a tape measure, measure about 3 inches down from the crotch and make a mark. Using a ruler draw a line across the leg at that mark. Do the same for the other leg. Now cut the legs off at the line.
Step #2 Now fold the jeans matching the side seams. This would be just as if you were going to sew a pleat in them down the front and back. Sew each leg closed 1 inch from the cut edge. Trim the seam to about a ½ inch.
Step #3 Turn the jeans right side out now and you have a little bag! Now you can thread a scarf or cotton belt through the loops and tie or sew the “handles” together. You can also decorate the outside pockets with lace or a hanky in the pocket. Do any decorating or creating on your bag to make it truly yours!
Cotton Belt (for Blue Jean Book Bag)
What you will need:
Cotton fabric of your choice, length of fabric to be your choice
Step #1 After you determine how long you want your handle to be cut out a strip of fabric that is this long, plus about 2 inches for hem. If you need to you can cut out shorter strips and then sew them together. Your strips will need to be 4 inches wide x “your determined length”.
Step #2 Now take your strip of fabric and iron it half the longest direction. On the short ends of the strip fold them up so the finished belt will not have any raw edges.
Step #3 After you iron it open it up and fold each side of the strip to meet the center of the crease left by the iron. Now refold this in the center and iron the strip again.
Step #4 Sew the strip closed. You now have a long belt to thread through the belt loops of your book bag. You can sew the ends closed by overlapping them about 2 inches and sewing them together.
Copyright: Crystal Miller, 2005
About the Author:
Crystal Miller (mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org) is
A mother of 8 children and enjoys her God given role as wife, homemaker and mother! She has a homemaking and country Living web site called The Family Homestead http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/ <http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/> and has a free monthly newsletter called Homestead Happenings. You will find sign up information on her website.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Saving Money in the Kitchen
Over the past few months I have watched the prices in the grocery store climb higher. This has made me have to stop and reevaluate our current eating and spending habits and see where I can trim the budget. I thought I would share a few of the tips that I have been incorporating into our budget.
First off years ago I started keeping a price book. I checked the prices at the different stores I shop to see who had the better price on napkins, pasta, hamburger, milk, eggs, etc.. Soon I had this price list memorized pretty well. I knew what store had the best price on which items. The only thing to remember is to recheck this list periodically. One of the first things I did was to re-check these prices to make sure they were still a good deal and not take them for granted. Another thing I have been doing is to stop buying or buy less of very expensive items. When I saw mozzarella cheese rise higher and higher, we took a break from pizza and lasagna. This was the same with the cheddar cheese although I did not see it jump as high as the mozzarella cheese. So with the cheddar I looked at how much we had been using and determined to use half this amount. I simply did not make as many meals with cheddar cheese in them as I had and I cautiously used the cheese on other meals. I watched butter climb to over $2.50 per pound at Costco and this was the least expensive price I could find. We don’t eat margarine so instead I limited our butter use to a certain amount per week and we stopped baking foods that called for butter. We also used things like cream cheese on our toast or pancakes instead of butter. Olive oil was also about half the price (per pound) as butter. So when I did bake I would choose things like cakes and quick breads that used oil, or muffins that did not require any fat in them.
As meat prices have climbed I have been serving more soups, breads, beans and whole grains. I usually will serve a couple of bean based meals a week and this has increased to more. My meals are basic and simple and the ingredients inexpensive. I think of the meat in the meal as flavoring, not the main component of the meal. I can make a pot of chili bean soup with 1 pound of hamburger in it and that will feed my family dinner one night and the leftovers will be lunch the next day. I stretch my meals by using my meat in sauces and gravies that are served over brown rice or whole wheat pasta. This also stretches the meat, adds great flavor and served with the whole grains makes a satisfying meal.
I also have tried to determine how much I want to spend per day to feed my family. I have then worked to find out how much each meal is costing us. For instance the chili bean soup served with a pan of cornbread will cost me about $5. Not bad for feeding a family of my size. I also have breakfast meals and lunch meals to consider for my daily cost. In the end I have some meals that are under budget and I have meals that sometimes are over budget. It becomes a matter of working towards an average cost. But I know the more low cost meals I serve in a month the better the average costs will be.
Finally remember to be conscious and be aware. Don’t just throw items into the shopping cart. Buy your foods with a plan. Know what you are spending each week, know what items are costing you and be prepared to make changes in the way you cook and the foods you buy.
Here are a couple of my low cost recipes that help out the monthly food budget at our house!
Crystal’s Chili Bean Soup Crystal Miller
Heat 2 T. oil in large soup pot.
Chop up and add:
1/2 a green pepper, optional
Cook until the onion is soft.
3 cups small red beans
12 cups water
1 Tablespoon salt
Bring to boil, cover and simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Stir
occasionally. After beans are soft add:
1 Tablespoon chili powder (more if you like it spicy.. less
if you don’t!)
1 can Rotel tomatoes with green chilies (this brand of
tomatoes is usually found with the other tomatoes at your
local grocery store)
1 ¼ cups whole wheat pastry flour
¾ cup finely ground cornmeal or corn flour (I grind my own
to a coarse corn flour)
2 T fructose or Sucanat or sugar
2 t baking powder
½ t salt
1 cup milk or buttermilk
¼ cup olive oil
Heat oven to 400. Grease or spray an 8 or 9 inch pan. Mix
milk, oil and egg until well blended. In separate bowl mix
dry ingredients and add to liquid and stir until moistened.
Pour batter into pan and bake 20 to 25 minutes or until
golden brown. I double this recipe and bake in a 9x13 pan
for 25 minutes (need to check, it could 30minutes).
Copyright: Crystal Miller, 2005
About the Author:
Crystal Miller ( mailto:email@example.com ) is
a mother of 8 children and enjoys her God given role as
wife, homemaker and mother! She has a homemaking and
country living web site called The Family Homestead
newsletter called Homestead Happenings. You will find
sign up information on her website.
Monday, September 27, 2010
About a month ago I had a very magical delivery day! A beautiful new toys was dropped on my doorstep and ever since then I've been discovering more and more reasons why I love my new Silhouette!
I have always wanted a craft cutting machine but the expense of all the cartridges always scared me away! Silhouette is different then other craft cutters and works with your PC! Digital images are already included and others can be bought individually from their online store! So no more expensive cartridges that are full of designs but you only like a small percentage of them! This way allows you to pay for only what you want! And guess what....they giveaway free design downloads every week!
Remember my Lunch Time Love Notes project? The silhouette made making those sweet little notes so simple and easy!
And I fell in love with the idea of making my own stencils! Once again the Silhouette made it all possible!
There are endless things this little machine can do and the best part is that it's only limited to your imagination! Scrapbookers aren't the only ones who can have fun! I for one am not a scrapbooker but I still get plenty of use and have endless ideas on what I want to create next!
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Sunday, September 5, 2010
The recipes are kid-friendly (and adult-friendly!), easy, and delicious. The chapters include:
- Morning Muffin Mania
- Sensational Smoothies
- Easy Freezin’ Waffles, Pancakes, and French Toast
- More Smart Starts
- Dips, Fillings, and Spreads
- Soups and Stews
- More Lunchbox Love
- Sweet Snackin’
- Craving Cookies
- Essential Extras
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Friday, August 13, 2010
By Crystal Miller
My husband said to me the other day, "I wish there were 26
Hours in our day, then I could get everything accomplished!"
I had to laugh because I myself had those thoughts; if we
Just had more time we could accomplish much more or at the
Very least we could actually get enough sleep! ~smile~.
Well since we have no chance to increase the hours in our
Day we have to evaluate the time we have and how well we are
Using it. We need to ask ourselves, are we being the best
Steward possible of our time? Are we valuing our hours as a
Vital resource and using them as wisely as possible?
With the 24 hours that we do have in a day we know that many
Of those hours are already claimed. We need to sleep, eat,
Shower, relax, spend time with family and husband etc. After
These hours are subtracted what we have left is what we have
To work with each day.
To make the most out of each day begin to view your time
Differently. More time won't suddenly appear but being
Conscious of how our time is used during the day will help
Us to streamline and make better decision. I will share a
Few of my time management tips that I use and maybe it will
Help you in your goal towards better time management!
Become more efficient with your time. Take time to examine
How you do things and your methods and see if they can be
Altered to be time friendly. Can you do more than one thing
At one time? Can you combine trips and have only one or two
Days out of the house a week to run errands? Cook a double
Portion of a meal and freeze one for another day, wipe down
Your bathroom sink and counters at the same time in the
Morning that you are getting yourself dressed.
Train your children to help you. In the long run this will
Be one of the biggest time management helps to you. By the
Time my children are 10 to 12 years old they are completely
Responsible for their own rooms, their laundry, their sheets
And they have regularly assigned chores to do each day. Keep
Everyone on a routine and hold them accountable for their
Daily jobs. Do your chores at the same time as they are
Working to help increase moral and make sure everyone is
Staying focused. Don't forget to turn on some music while
You work! It does add to the enjoyment of what you are
Be aware of things that rob your time. Over commitment to
Outside responsibilities is a biggie! Keep a list of some of
The more important goals you have and refer to this when you
Are asked to participate in something. It may be a simple
Reminder to you of your priorities and it will allow you to
see if a commitment made will be in keeping with these
The telephone is another time robber. I don't have a message
Machine. The reason I don't have one is basically I don't
Have enough time to spend calling people back. If someone
Needs me they will have to spend the time calling me and
Catching me at home. Plus there is always email! Obviously
That method won't work for everyone but it works well for
Me. Unplugging the phone is another way to not allow time on
The phone to take up too much of your day.
Yet another time robber is too many activities for your
Children. I once had a key chain that referred to mom as the
"taxi driver". After awhile I got rid of this key chain.
~smile~ I did not want to be a taxi driver for my children.
I decided it was more important to help them learn to be
Content with more time at home.
Routines are my best time management tool. A routine helps
Keep your day on track. If you want to learn to manage your
Time effectively then a routine is a critical key to being
Able to follow through with your daily tasks. There is a
Difference between a strict schedule and a routine. A
Routine is a set daily habit of accomplishing your household
Tasks. Plan your daily routines to work for you. Don't
Compare how someone else manages their day. Work to find
What will accommodate your life.
Have a minimum amount that must get done daily and train
Your children to know what this expectation is. My children
Know that before anyone goes to bed the dishes are to be
done, the floors are swept, vacuumed and washed (that may be
more than most people would do but living in the country
with a houseful of kids means that our floors require a lot
of attention), the bathroom is wiped down and in order,
laundry is going each day, the clutter is picked up.
One last thought on managing your time is to be reasonable
about how much can be accomplished in your life. Keep your
priorities in order and remember that neither you nor I are
super-moms! We are just women with a heart for our mission
in life to love and care for our families. Don't take on
more than you can handle, don't expect more from yourself
than is reasonable. Work on those priorities that have the
greatest importance in your life. There may be another time
and season for other things you may desire to do or
Obviously time management is a proactive work! The day will
go by no matter what. The question to ask ourselves is; did
we use the time as well as we should have? Is there room for
improvement in the way we use our time? Are my expectations
on myself to high for my season in life? Keep your
priorities straight and make changes to your routine to help
you use your time as wisely as possible.
Copyright: Crystal Miller, 2005
About the Author:
Crystal Miller ( mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org) is
a mother of 8 children and enjoys her God given role as
wife, homemaker and mother! She has a homemaking and country
living web site called The Family Homestead
monthly newsletter called Homestead Happenings. You will
find sign up information on her website.
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Will post more later as I am getting dinner on the table, the guys had a late fishing trip :)
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
When I got home that night as my wife served dinner, I held her hand and said, I've got something to tell you. She sat down and ate quietly. Again I observed the hurt in her eyes.
Suddenly I didn't know how to open my mouth. But I had to let her know what I was thinking. I want a divorce. I raised the topic calmly.
She didn't seem to be annoyed by my words, instead she asked me softly, why?
I avoided her question. This made her angry. She threw away the chopsticks and shouted at me, you are not a man! That night, we didn't talk to each other. She was weeping. I knew she wanted to find out what had happened to our marriage. But I could hardly give her a satisfactory answer; she had lost my heart to Jane. I didn't love her anymore. I just pitied her!
With a deep sense of guilt, I drafted a divorce agreement which stated that she could own our house, our car, and 30% stake of my company.
She glanced at it and then tore it into pieces. The woman who had spent ten years of her life with me had become a stranger. I felt sorry for her wasted time, resources and energy but I could not take back what I had said for I loved Jane so dearly. Finally she cried loudly in front of me, which was what I had expected to see. To me her cry was actually a kind of release. The idea of divorce which had obsessed me for several weeks seemed to be firmer and clearer now.
The next day, I came back home very late and found her writing something at the table. I didn't have supper but went straight to sleep and fell asleep very fast because I was tired after an eventful day with Jane.
When I woke up, she was still there at the table writing. I just did not care so I turned over and was asleep again.
In the morning she presented her divorce conditions: she didn't want anything from me, but needed a month's notice before the divorce. She requested that in that one month we both struggle to live as normal a life as possible. Her reasons were simple: our son had his exams in a month's time and she didn't want to disrupt him with our broken marriage.
This was agreeable to me. But she had something more, she asked me to recall how I had carried her into out bridal room on our wedding day.
She requested that every day for the month's duration I carry her out of our bedroom to the front door ever morning. I thought she was going crazy. Just to make our last days together bearable I accepted her odd request.
I told Jane about my wife's divorce conditions. . She laughed loudly and thought it was absurd. No matter what tricks she applies, she has to face the divorce, she said scornfully.
My wife and I hadn't had any body contact since my divorce intention was explicitly expressed. So when I carried her out on the first day, we both appeared clumsy. Our son clapped behind us, daddy is holding mommy in his arms. His words brought me a sense of pain. From the bedroom to the sitting room, then to the door, I walked over ten meters with her in my arms. She closed her eyes and said softly; don't tell our son about the divorce. I nodded, feeling somewhat upset. I put her down outside
The door. She went to wait for the bus to work. I drove alone to the office.
On the second day, both of us acted much more easily. She leaned on my chest. I could smell the fragrance of her blouse. I realized that I hadn't looked at this woman carefully for a long time. I realized she was not young any more. There were fine wrinkles on her face, her hair was graying! Our marriage had taken its toll on her. For a minute I wondered what I had done to her.
On the fourth day, when I lifted her up, I felt a sense of intimacy returning. This was the woman who had given ten years of her life to me.
On the fifth and sixth day, I realized that our sense of intimacy was growing again. I didn't tell Jane about this. It became easier to carry her as the month slipped by. Perhaps the everyday workout made me stronger.
She was choosing what to wear one morning. She tried on quite a few dresses but could not find a suitable one. Then she sighed, all my dresses have grown bigger. I suddenly realized that she had grown so thin, that was the reason why I could carry her more easily.
Suddenly it hit me... She had buried so much pain and bitterness in her heart. Subconsciously I reached out and touched her head.
Our son came in at the moment and said, Dad, it's time to carry mom out. To him, seeing his father carrying his mother out had become an essential part of his life. My wife gestured to our son to come closer and hugged him tightly. I turned my face away because I was afraid I might change my mind at this last minute. I then held her in my arms, walking from the bedroom, through the sitting room, to the hallway. Her hand surrounded my neck softly and naturally. I held her body tightly; it was just like our wedding day.
But her much lighter weight made me sad. On the last day, when I held her in my arms I could hardly move a step. Our son had gone to school. I held her tightly and said, I hadn't noticed that our life lacked intimacy.
I drove to office.... jumped out of the car swiftly without locking the door. I was afraid any delay would make me change my mind...I walked upstairs. Jane opened the door and I said to her, Sorry, Jane, I do not want the divorce anymore.
She looked at me, astonished, and then touched my forehead. Do you have a fever? She said. I moved her hand off my head. Sorry, Jane, I said, I won't divorce. My marriage life was boring probably because she and I didn't value the details of our lives, not because we didn't love each other anymore. Now I realize that since I carried her into my home on our wedding day I am supposed to hold her until death do us apart.
Jane seemed to suddenly wake up. She gave me a loud slap and then slammed the door and burst into tears. I walked downstairs and drove away.
At the floral shop on the way, I ordered a bouquet of flowers for my wife. The salesgirl asked me what to write on the card. I smiled and wrote, I'll carry you out every morning until death do us apart.
That evening I arrived home, flowers in my hands, a smile on my face, I run up stairs, only to find my wife in the bed - dead.
My wife had been fighting CANCER for months and I was so busy with Jane to even notice. She knew that she would die soon and she wanted to save me from the whatever negative reaction from our son, in case we pushed thru with the divorce.-- At least, in the eyes of our son--- I'm a loving husband....
The small details of your lives are what really matter in a relationship. It is not the mansion, the car, property, the money in the bank. These create an environment conducive for happiness but cannot give happiness in themselves. So find time to be your spouse's friend and do those little things for each other that build intimacy. Do have a real happy marriage!
If you don't share this, nothing will happen to you.
If you do, you just might save a marriage.
Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.
A CHRIST-CENTERED MARRIAGE IS A MARRIAGE THAT IS SURE TO LAST A LIFETIME.
So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate. Matthew 19:6
Monday, July 26, 2010
Saturday, July 17, 2010
I plan on doing alot of new things here on my blog....now that I finally have the time. My poor little blog page has been so neglected so its time to devote some time to it daily from now on!