Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Batch Cooking

Most people have heard of  "Freezer Cooking" or "Once a month Cooking". I have always been curious about it, but the term "freezer cooking" always turned me off. It doesn't sound very appetizing. However, I continually find myself asking, "What's for dinner?" This leads to a lot of eating out.
I decided to give it a shot. I am calling it Batch Cooking because I am not making a lot of complete meals but just the more time consuming parts that are easier to do in bulk such as boiling chicken or beans.I will make lasagna and manicotti as whole meals if I end up liking this method.
 Here is what I made this morning:

2 lbs. Boiled Chicken Breast which turned into...

3- One-and-a-half cup servings of shredded chicken

A Roast in the crock pot that turned into this...

for BBQ Roast Sandwiches (which i will freeze what we don't eat tonight).

Seasoned Ground Beef with potatoes for...

2 Dozen Tacos to freeze and ready to eat fried or soft.

Meat Pasta Sauce separated into meal sized portions

Chili Separated into Meal sized portions (I use it for loaded baked potatoes, frito wraps, or just a nice hot bowl in this chilly weather)

Taco Salad Meat

1 Pkg. of Pinto beans which turned into 9 cups of cooked beans separated into 3 cup portions.
(The white things are onions)

Here are some of the batches ready for the freezer.
I picked up these tips about storage from Freezer Cooking Pros...
  • Store the meals flat as shown above so they stack nicely in the freezer.
  • Meals can easily be defrosted by placing the freezer bag in hot water in the sink for about 1/2 hour before you are ready to heat it up. 

Advent Activity #7: Gingerbread House

This was great fun! I had never done one before so it was a first for all of us. It went smoothly except for one roof collapse that was quickly repaired.

Amelia cut open all the bags of candy, getting plenty of scissor practice.

Ta- Dah!!!!

This story was adorable and went soooo perfectly with our gingerbread house activity.
You really should read this one.

Advent Activity #6: Chocolate Covered Pretzels and Ornaments

I found plastic ball ornaments at the craft store which we put drops of paint into a shook them to make a pretty design. I think the paint might have been a little thick so next time I might water it down just a tad.

I really liked this book and would recommend it to others looking for a quality Christmas story with great illustrations.

Advent Activity #5: Peppermint Playdough

Friday, December 4, 2009

Advent Activity #4: Reindeer Bag and Reindeer food

I LOVE Puppy Chow (aka Muddy Budies) made with Chex cereal. So as an excuse to make it, I decided to call it reindeer food and put it in these cute brown bags made to look like Rudolph. I actually thought of this one by myself!

Advent Activity # 3: Christmas Mice and Gingerbread Cookies

I found this cute little felt mouse craft that was very easy here. The kids couldn't really do this one because they are still a little young, but they ate candy canes and enjoyed watching me assemble them.

Next, we used a Gingerbread mix and made both Gingerbread men to decorate and ginger snaps. At first it seemed like the dough was a little sticky and hard to work with. I even thought they would not turn out at all. However, after baking them they really came out nicely. Also I bought several of the icing tubes you see for different projects. It is easy to work with (even for the kids) and sets up very quickly.

Here is Amelia's...

Here is Mada's

Big mess...lots of fun!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Heart of Christmas Devotional

This year I picked up a daily devotional for the Christmas season. As I began reading on Tuesday, December 1 my first thought was it was a pretty "deep" book rich in theology. I wasn't exactly expecting that approach...but now that I am getting into it I really like it. I am planning on posting a little bit more about it throughout the month. The author, Hank Hanegraaff, organized the book by using the following acronym:
Santa Claus
December 1-The Long Awaited Christ
Christ comes from the Greek(Christos) rendering of the Hebrew word Messiah meaning "anointed one". The Christ of Christmas is the long awaited Messiah who fulfills all the types and shadows of Old Testament scriptures.
December 2-Isaiah's Prophecy
It is incredible to consider that Isaiah, the holiest man in Israel, prophesied "The virgin will be with child, and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel", he was literally predicting that in the future the One who spoke the limitless galaxies into existence would tabernacle in flesh among men. Indeed that is precisely what the word Immanuel means- "God with us".
December 3-The Golden Key of the Messianic Prophesies
Eight centuries before the birth of Christ, Isaiah prophesied and said these words:
"For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, the government will be on his shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father(possessor of eternity), Prince of Peace."
Isaiah 9:6

Advent Activity #2: Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

I use the Chocolate Chip cookie recipe on the Nestle Tollhouse Package and bake without the chips. When still hot from the oven, I place a Peanut butter cup on each one. Don't forget to unwrap all the candies before they come out of the oven or the cookies will cool before you can get them on there. Oops... I almost forgot and was unwrapping VERY quickly before they came out!


Just a note: I didn't really like this story. It was a little boring. I think I will replace it for next year.

Advent Activity #1: Hands-on Nativity and Craft Foam Stockings

I bought this Little People Nativity Scene for the kids to play with during Advent. It is really cute and they loved it. Amelia set it up by the Christmas tree exactly like the picture on the box!

Next we made stockings made of craft foam. The foam decorations in the baggie were already sticky on the back which made this project super easy with little mess! (I got this and the other craft supplies for the month at Micheals.

We unwrapped our first Christmas book too!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Discovering Advent

Advent is actually a new concept for me. I did not grow up celebrating Advent or even knowing what it was. We did have those cardboard Advent calendars where you open a window for each day leading up to Christmas. I really had no knowledge of its true meaning until this year. As I was reading blogs I saw moms (mostly catholic/homeschooling) doing Advent activities with their kids and it looked like lots of fun. I started doing some research online to see if Advent was something Christians celebrated. Here is what I found:

What does "Advent" mean?
"Advent" comes from the Latin word adventus, which means "visit" or "coming" or "arrival." The season of Advent is a time to get ready for the two "visits" of Christ: His first coming through the Incarnation, and His second coming as the reigning Lord.
What is Advent?
Advent is a season of the Christian year when we focus on the coming of Christ. It's a time of waiting, hoping, and getting in touch with our need for a Savior. It's a season of preparation for Christmas, much as Lent is a season of preparation for Easter. Yet Advent is also a time to look forward to the second coming of Christ.Though defeating sin and death through His cross and resurrection, Christ hasn't yet finished His work of renewing creation and restoring the kingdom of God. Thus we continue to experience the brokenness of this world, in violence, disease, natural disasters, and other forms of human suffering. In Advent we yearn for God's completion of the salvation begun in Christ.
When is Advent?
All Christians who keep Advent do so immediately prior to Christmas. Western Christians (Catholics, Protestants) begin Advent four Sundays before Christmas. Because Christmas falls on various days of the week, Advent ranges from 22 to 28 days (including Christmas Eve).
What are the Advent colors and what do they mean?
The primary Advent color is purple (or dark blue). It signifies royalty (the coming birth of the King) and seriousness or penitence. Pink is a secondary Advent color, representing the joy of the season. The green of the Advent wreath signifies life, and especially new life that comes through the Savior.
The information and Picture above were found at You can find tons of additional information about Advent at his site.

So really, Advent is not about fun activities leading up to Christmas or cardboard calendars. It is a season of waiting and expecting. Spending time with the Father leading up to the day when he sent His Son to save us all. And an expectancy for the second coming of Christ when we finally go home to be with Him. I am still learning and am not following Advent strictly. Following the "law" without meaning has no life. Although we are doing fun baking and craft projects all month in celebration of Advent, my focus is on Christ this season. Pointing my children to Him during these weeks leading up to "the big day" is very important to me. At this young age, learning through stories, songs, and discussing is the best way to do that. I look forward to many years of celebrating Advent and incorporating some of the more traditional elements if they bring us closer to our purpose.
...we wait for the blessed hope - the glorious appearing
of our great God and Savior,
Jesus Christ.

Titus 2:13

Monday, November 30, 2009

I'm Ready for Advent

I am so glad I planned ahead and have already gathered everything I need for our advent activities.

I wrote each activity on the back of these cute gift tags. Originally I was going to slip these into my Christmas Tree shaped advent calendar. But sadly, when I pulled it out of the garage I discovered an animal had gotten to it so I had to throw it away. I'm not sure what I will use, but for now I guess we will just pull the tags out of a bag or something.

Here is my tub filled with all the craft and baking supplies for the month.

And finally, the Christmas books all wrapped up and ready to go.

We start our first activities tomorrow. The kids are excited and it should be a lot of fun!
(I will post every activity, but it might not be every day.)
Have a wonderful Holiday Season!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

I know I am a little late. I have not blogged much this month. It seems as though November was so full and passed by so quickly! We had 16 for Thanksgiving Dinner but 20 in all if you count others who lingered in throughout the day and evening. We live in a 1456 square foot home so it is not overly large. However, our dining room is open to the rest of the house which gave us a little more breathing room. Here is a picture of the tables set up to seat 16. There were two tables of 6 and one table of 4.

Last year, (our first Thanksgiving in our house) Stan's brother started the tradition of going around the table and having each person share what they were thankful for. I added to the tradition this year by placing a Thanksgiving quote on each plate to be read. I thought it went well. Here is a picture of the little quote cards.

We also had lots of family in town. My brother and his family from Kansas City and Stan's sister and boyfriend from California all made the drive. We were all so happy to see them. Here are my girls with one of their cousins. They had such a great time playing together all weekend.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Advent Planning Continues...

I have revamped my Advent activities as December draws closer. Finding a craft or activity for each Christmas book that is age appropriate has proved challenging and time consuming. (See my original post here.) So I have decided on an equally fun idea...but much easier to implement. For each WEEKDAY of December, we will do a simple holiday craft, activity, or baking project. We will also unwrap and read a Christmas storybook. The craft might go with the book or it may not depending on the day. For the weekends, the girls will get to choose a Christmas candy out of the Advent Calendar pocket for that day. On the weekdays we do activities, there will be a slip of paper describing our activity in the pocket. I hope that makes sense. I will write one more planning post before we start and then will post each activity as we complete it in December.

I will say this project has been a tad overwhelming. But I really believe in the importance of family traditions...something the girls always remember and look forward to. Christmas is already so busy and hectic. I hope these advent activities will help us slow down and enjoy the season together. I'll let you know how it goes.

Operation Christmas Child

We decided to participate in Operation Christmas Child this season. We watched a video of the children recieving their shoebox filled with Christmas gifts online and discussed how blessed we are and how some children do not have toys or even enough food to eat. My kids are only 2 and 4 so looking at pictures really helped get the concept across. We went to the store and picked out these things to fill our box. We chose to make a box for a little girl aged 2-4 years old.

Personal Care


Hard Candy

School Supplies

Picture Bible

Learning Activities

All Packed Up

And Ready to Go!
The drop-off dates are next week. We will pray over our box and for the little girl who recieves it and include a note and picture of our family, as the organization suggests. If you would like more information visit