Monthly Archives: March 2015

Cowboys on the Ranch.

cowboys on the ranchThe fiercely blowing wind was no match for the warm sunshine. It spilled through the clouds and seeped into winter-weary bones with a comforting warmth. A few green blades of grass poked bravely through the brown, sharing the warmth of the spring sun. The sound of anxious cows, calling for their young, mixed with the soft footsteps of horses on grass, and the slap-slapping of saddle leather. Spurs jingled, but the sound was covered by the “Hup, Hup! Shhh-shhh-shhh.” of the cowboys, driving the cows into a small pen.

cowboys on the ranch

cowboys on the ranchcowboys on the ranchcowboys on the ranch

 

A brief pause at the gate to clarify plans, then into the pen with the cows and their babies. Two men on the ground to keep records and help sort, three men on horseback, roping the babies and taking them to the correct pasture. The mamas follow the babies – no need to worry about them! cowboys on the ranch

cowboys on the ranch

“Obie” dragging one in.

cowboys on the ranch

cowboys on the ranchcowboys on the ranchThe sun covered me in warmth, as I lay on the prairie, camera in hand – lens poking through last summer’s weeds. I could have fallen asleep, I think, laying there on the face on the earth. There is something satisfying about the simplicity of nature. Just the sun warming my back, the grass poking my arms, the wind blowing overhead, and the occasional ‘moo’ of a worried cow in the background.
cowboys on the ranchcowboys on the ranchcowboys on the ranchI cooked lunch for the cowboys before I went outto watch them. It was only a few men, so not a big deal. I kept it simple this time…
Menu:
Swedish Meatballs
Mashed Potatoes
Sauteéd veggies (Mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, and yellow squash)
Fresh bread
and for dessert I had:
Brownies with ice cream.

Menu Plan For a Month: The Meals

menu plan part two

I thought I would share our meal list for this month, since some of you were asking. It is pretty simple and somewhat repetitive. 😉 But it seems that we do better if I stick to meals we know and like most of the time.

Breakfast:
Monday – pancakes and bacon
Tuesday – crepes x 2, and chile rellenos x 2
Wednesday – waffles
Thursday – eggs and toast
Friday – sausage gravy and biscuits
Saturday – baked oatmeal (never actually got this made, somehow. Just ate leftover breakfasts from earlier in the week)
Sunday – cold cereal (what I would eat every day if I could. 😉 One of my favorites!!)

Dinner: (lunch)
Monday – rice and beans
Tuesday – rice and beans
Wednesday – rice and beans
Thursday – rice and beans
Friday –  rice and beans
Saturday – rice and beans
Sunday – Okay, so our church has a potluck every Sunday noon. (yes you read that right! 😉 ) And this is the one meal I had the hardest time sticking too! I made some of the planned meals, but our Saturdays were so crazy that I ended up throwing something together quick most Sunday mornings. Yeah, so I’m thinking I will plan easier meals for next months’ Sunday dinners! :) Maybe some more freezer meals?

Supper:
Monday – Swedish meatballs and mashed potatoes, Indian chicken, balsamic pork loin and mashed potatoes, Navajo tacos
Tuesday (Frank’s meals) – taco salad, chicken fajitas, meatball subs, lasagna
Wednesday – sandwiches and chips
Thursday (Jenni’s meals) – beef enchiladas, chili soup, mini-meatloaves with roasted potatoes,
chicken fajitas
Friday – hamburgers and roasted potatoes
Saturday – pizza
Sunday – beef-stuffed crescent rolls, jalapenos and fish sticks, philly-cheese-steak sliders, bbq meatballs and soft pretzels

NOTE: Sunday suppers have also varied somewhat from my menu. We ended up having guests, being gone, etc. And along with the listed menu items, we always have popcorn on Sunday evening. :) My favorite tradition!

So there you have it. A month of meals from my kitchen. Now you know what we eat, haha! Oh, and the kids really enjoy making a meal and having everyone praise and thank them for it. Frank still needs a lot of instruction, but Jenni is getting pretty good at cooking. But the main tip I have for kids cooking, is to have them start early in the evening so they have enough time to cook. They can’t throw things together like I can – it takes them about twice as long. And that’s ok – I just have to plan for it. :)

Do you have any suggestions for yummy freezer meals for Sunday lunch?
Preferably crockpot meals, since that is easiest for our kitchen crew.

Menu Plan for a Month

menu plan

Last month I asked my Facebook friends if they menu plan, and how. They gave me some great answers! I quickly decided on a plan that was suggested by a sweet ranch wife. Knowing she lives a similar lifestyle, and it worked for her – made me feel like I could do it too. 😉 So this is totally her idea, but I know she won’t care if I share it.

I got a piece of paper and a pen, and we began planning.

Supper: First, I sat down with my older kids (11, 13) and told them they will each be making one supper each week. They were allowed to pick the menu for that meal. So they each picked four meals.

Then, I wrote in the meals that we eat every week. We have ‘Saturday Night Pizza’ and Friday Night Burgers’. We do this every week and we love it! We also have been pretty consistent with Wednesday night sandwiches, so I went ahead and put that down too. So now I had 5 nights already done. I went ahead and planned the other two night of meals, and wrote them down.

Dinner: (lunch) We are eating mostly rice and beans for lunch. Easy, healthy, and we all like them. A lot. I make tortillas about 2-3 times per week as well. About one dinner per week ends up being leftovers from all the suppers.

Breakfast: I made a week’s menu for breakfast, and then just used the same weeks’ plan every week for the month. Next month I will be changing the breakfast menu, although I have a feeling the kids would rather I stick with the same food. They seem to really like knowing what food is going to be which day! :)

Then I took my menu and made a grocery list of all the supplies I needed for all the meals. I made two nice lists; one for Sams Club and one for Walmart. These are the main places I shop for food. (One reason I decided on the monthly menu, is because we get paid monthly, and I like to buy in bulk. It works better than shopping every week. )

One item I put on my grocery list was a whiteboard. I picked one up at Walmart for 8$. It is big enough to write my meals on, and it has a side panel that I can jot down grocery needs that come up during the month. Then I can just snap a photo of the list when I go shopping again. (theoretically!)

Anyways. So we had a huge shopping trip, spent hundreds of dollars and came home resolving to eat only beans and rice for every meal from now on!! (Food is crazy, I’m telling you! )

So far it has been nearly 3 weeks, and we are loving it! (I took the photo last Monday!) The kids and my husband like to walk over and see what meals we are having for the day. The older kids are enjoying cooking their chosen meals, too. They pretend they are on ‘Chopped.’

Cons: To really make this work for you, I think you have to stick pretty closely to the plan. Which I am doing. But I know during some seasons of life I couldn’t have done it.
Pros: It saves money and headache if you can stick to it. I just have to look at the board and I know what I am making for supper. No more last minute guessing.
The family loves it. Plus it’s healthy, although I have always cooked from scratch.
Things I would change: Next month I will plan for a couple quick meals that I can make for unexpected guests, etc. Maybe a couple freezer meals? I will also set aside a portion of money for fresh fruits/veggies later in the month.

Anyways, it is totally working and I am loving it. Since I only have 10 meals for the whole month to plan by myself, I feel so much more free to get on Pinterest and pick out a new one or two to try. 😉 I do love cooking and resisted a menu plan for years because of my tendency to ‘fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants’. That is fine but when I am homeschooling 3 kids, and have a toddler, and frequently cook for the ranch crew, etc, etc… I must take charge of my time wisely. I am very thankful for this plan.

So the big question is: Do you menu plan? How? Do you stick to the plan? Do you eat the same things regularly? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Welcome Spring!

 “For the winter is past, the rain is over and gone.
 The flowers are springing up and the time of the singing of birds has come.
Yes, spring is here.”                      Song of Solomon 2:11-12

It has been a mild, seemingly short winter. I say seemingly, because
1) it’s not over yet! and 2) it just seemed that way because so many exciting things happened that normally don’t happen to me. :)

A sister’s graduation from the RN program, and several months of her then staying with us made the longest winter months somehow shorter. A mom’s retreat, calving season, several friends who braved the winter to come visit… altogether made my winter seem short.

However, with the warm weather we now have, I am trying to keep my planting urge under control, because I know that it is still much to early to plant a garden. 😉

Last year's spring---no green grass here yet! :)

Last year’s spring—no green grass here yet! :)

I get out of bed at 5 am nearly every morning. (except Sunday when I sleep in till 6!)
So I usually get to see the sun rise in the morning – spilling the colors of the rainbow through my eastern window. Some days are muted, soft colors, some days are blazing ribbons of gold and orange.

Sunrise from my window.

Sunrise from my window.

Sometimes I ride with my husband in the cake truck, opening gates for him and having what I call ranch dates. We have each other’s undivided attention, and lots of time to talk without the kids. (except the 2 year old, who cares only about the cows!)

The cows are coming!

The cows are coming!

I climbed up on the cake truck this week, and the cows thought I was crazy. But then, I think they are stupid-looking, so I guess we’re even. 😉

Feeding cow cake on a early spring day.

Feeding cow cake on a early spring day.

I spent a good portion of my afternoons the past two weeks tying some custom cinch orders. Then my sister came up on her day off, and we tramped through the fields and along the creek, just meandering and gabbing, as sisters like to do. :) ranch

 

She also brought some lovely flowers for my table – so pretty! I love looking at them.
flowers

I have so many things I want to write… encouragement the Lord has given me, funny stories I keep thinking about, and delicious recipes that beg to be written down and shared. But as always – mothering comes first. I am working on a routine that will give me some time to write, hopefully that will go as planned and I can get back to blogging on a regular basis.

I hope your first day of spring is a grand and wonderful day – full of warmth and cheer! :)

Book Review: A Father’s Love, by David Miles

A Father’s Love is an ‘I Can Read!’ level 2 book. It is a simple retelling of the classic Bible story about the prodigal son. The younger son wants to live it up in the city, but after his money is gone, so are his friends. So he eventually returns to throw himself on his Father’s love and forgiveness.
A Fathers loveThis book is perfect for my 6 year old beginning reader. She enjoyed the story and the bright artwork. She still had some trouble with some of the words, but she’s not quite a level 2 reader yet.

I know this will be a favorite book in our house. I am always in search of good, wholesome Christian children’s books. This one is based on the NIV version.

http://store.faithgateway.com/a-father-s-love

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The cuteness that is an Angus calf…

angus calfSeriously, can it get any cuter?! These babies steal my heart every spring. Of course by the time they are shipped in the fall, they are not nearly as cute, but when they are small they sure are darling.angus calfLunchtime, all the time. :)
I went to the heifer pasture this week with my husband, and was having a lot of fun getting images of so many cute calves. angus calf

angus calf

God uses trials to sweeten us.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 NASB

When God Smooths us

This is a very familiar verse to me. I have known it since I was a child. But it took many years to really grasp the significance of what it says. When God says something, we know He means it. He doesn’t say things lightly or jokingly.
So when He says that He uses ‘all things‘ to work together for our good, then we can be assured that is exactly what He means. ALL THINGS. All things.

Death of loved ones. Rejection by family. Betrayal by friends. Financial difficulties. Sickness and disease. Chronic pain. Job troubles. Past abuse. And so much more.

These are hard things. But they can all work together – like ingredients in a cake – to make you a sweeter person. A cup of flour is pretty hard to get down, a cup of cocoa is even harder! So bitter! But mix it with the flour, and an egg, and some even more awful baking powder, etc, and soon you have a delicious chocolate cake!

This is how trials in our lives work together. We can sit and taste the cup of cocoa on our tongue for years, every day tasting it again, and every day just as bitter! But when we see that God is using it to make us sweet, we can trust Him with that pain and allow Him to use it in our life story.

The condition, of course, is obedience to God’s commands. 
…to those who love God…
We know from 1 John 2:3-5, that we prove our love of God by our obedience. So then, this promise is for those who obey God. If we are walking in disobedience and living for Self, then we cannot claim this promise. Only those who truly love God can be assured that everything in their life is working together for good.

How do we get past the pain?    We obey God’s commands.
We forgive those who have wronged us.   Luke 6:27-28
We are loving to the unlovely. Matthew 5:44
We depend on God for our livelihood.  Luke 12:28
We give thanks in all things.  1 Thessalonians 5:18
We pray fervently for each other. James 5:16

So be encouraged, my friend! Those hard things in your life are working together for your good. Maybe it seems impossible now, but one day you will look back over your life and understand that through the hardships, you have become more loving, more gentle, more kind and understanding because you were tested and found to be sweet. Instead of bitter cocoa and dry flour, your life will be like a delicious slice of chocolate cake, to everyone who meets you.