Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Please excuse the construction

Please excuse any glitches or problems you have with my site for the next few days.  There are some major changes taking place behind the scenes.  I'm praying it all goes smoothly and I'm pretty sure it will since Joy is in charge!!

Other than a completely new experience, there will be a name change, so don't let it throw you for a loop when you click on Bloggin' Mama and find someone new inhabiting the place - it's still me, I'm just changing the blog name and delving more into what I want my main focus to be - Homemaking Joyfully!

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Freezing and thawing bulk ground beef

I typically buy ground beef in bulk at Costco, since it seems to be the most reasonable price (other than sales) and good quality meat I can find.  Recently, I've developed a better way to freeze it to save room in the freezer.  This new way also helps with the thawing process, and makes it much faster.

The large packages of ground beef typically come in somewhere in the 5½-6½lb range.  I look through and try to find one that is close to 6 pounds, this makes the division into freezable portions much easier!

Using six, quart size freezer bags, I separate the meat into 6 portions.

Zip the bag, leaving 1-2" open for air removal and begin flattening the meat.

The goal is for it to be even-thickness and fill up the entire bag.  Try to get it as level as possible for better stacking.  Then seal the bag.

Once all six bags are flattened and sealed, stack them.

Then they fit nicely in the freezer.

This also makes thawing the meat so much faster.  Stick it in a dish in the fridge and it will thaw in about half the time a "lump" of ground beef will thaw.  The thinner packing also makes it easier for those occasions when you forget to thaw your meat.  Just pull it from the freezer and drop it into your skillet or pot.  It will thaw quickly once it hits the heat.

This post is linked to: Kitchen Tip Tuesday

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Wonder how many new members this church sees each week...

Can you see it? That's a church next to that liquor store!!

This post is linked to: Wordless Wednesday.

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Slow Cooker Navy Bean Soup

For a while now I've been trying to incorporate more beans into our diet as a main protein for one meal each week and have been so happy with this navy bean soup recipe, there was no way I could resist sharing it with you.

I have adapted this recipe to suit our tastes and we think it is SO yummy!  My favorite part is how easy it is to put together a nutritious and filling soup for my family.

:: 1½ cups navy beans (great northern beans also work wonderfully)
:: 5 cups water
:: 2 carrots, diced
:: 2 celery stalks, diced
:: 1 medium onion, diced
:: ½lb. ham steak, cut into bite size pieces
:: salt and pepper, to taste

~ Soak beans over night, then drain and rinse.
~ Add all ingredients to slow cooker
~ Cook on high 4-6 hours or low 8+ hours

Could it be any easier?

This soup is wonderful served with cornbread or yeast rolls.

Tip: If I'm running behind and don't get it started early enough, I turn the slow cooker on high while I'm chopping the veggies, boil the 5 cups of water in my kettle and then pour the boiling water (instead of tap water) into the slow cooker with the other ingredients to speed up the process a bit.

This post is linked to: Smockity Frocks' "What's in your crockpot" carnival.

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - 2/22

It's another crazy busy week this week.  Part of it is that I'm starting my regular schedule with my new chiropractor and he wants to see me three times a week for the next four weeks.  Eek!  AND he's 30 miles away, but he's amazingly wonderful at what he does and after only two visits I'm seeing improvement!  So, those three appointments added to a MOPS event and a dental appointment already have me feeling a bit crazy about this week.

I've planned pretty simple meals for this week.

Breakfasts: lazy granola (either served as a cold cereal, with milk and bananas or in yogurt), cold cereal with bananas, pumpkin pancakes, eggs/toast/fruit

Lunches: mostly sandwiches and fruit/raw veggies on the go (as my chiropractor appointments are just before lunch time and we'll be packing lunches to eat on the way home)

Monday - pb&j, veggie sticks, fresh fruit or smoothies
Tuesday - Crockpot chicken with quinoa
Wednesday - Tacos, fruit smoothies
Thursday - Navy bean soup (recipe coming on Monday), bread w/butter
Friday - Pizza, fruit
Saturday - Out
Sunday - Chicken nachos (w/salsa, olives, sour cream), fruit smoothies

This post is linked to: Menu Plan Monday.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Military support system

The squadron Michael is in is quite small and a fairly close-knit operation and that has definitely been a finer thing for us during this time!

I am so blessed to receive at least one phone call and several emails per week checking in on us and asking if there's anything we need assistance with around the house or babysitting, etc.

The Command Team of this squadron are among some of the most awesome people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

Here's a sampling of how wonderfully they treat their squadron families:

~ Last Monday when Rachael wasn't well and I spent the majority of the day at doctors and eventually the hospital with her, the Major's wife (awesome lady - cannot say enough about her!!) came over to babysit the boys so I wouldn't have to take them along with me.  She (and their 14 y/o daughter) ended up spending nearly the entire day and half of the night at our house.  And she did it because she wanted to, not out of an obligation due to her husband's rank/title.

~ Last Friday was also the monthly deployed spouse dinner on base and we were the only family from the squadron there, yet, the squadron Commander (photo: in uniform) and one of the NCO's (photo: holding Rachael) came to support us and give me a little break.  I knew no one else at this event (because I don't participate in any of those "wives' club" type events).  They stepped in to entertain the kids while I got our food, then later took over while I waited in line with the boys for face painting.  I also ended up winning one of the door prizes (an 18" boys bike) and had help getting it loaded up to take home.

It has been such a pleasure and blessing being a part of this squadron and experiencing the wonderful leaders Michael currently has.  Not all military superiors are as dedicated to their people as these gentlemen and their families.  I pray many return blessings on these families and will terribly miss the friendships we have cultivated during our time here when we move away this summer.

Note: I have written, deleted and re-written this post several times and still feel I haven't adequately conveyed how blessed we are.

This post is linked to: Finer Things Friday.

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You Capture - Kisses!

I have the perfect photo for this week's You Capture!

Anytime I'm on Skype with Michael (he's in Iraq) or have a photo of him up on the monitor, Rachael finds her way into my lap and shimmies herself up until she's level with (and an inch from) the monitor and begins her smooch-fest with daddy!!  She goes on and on about "dada" telling me all sorts of things and kissing the monitor.

She is absolutely in love with her daddy and it has to be the most heart-melting thing.  EVER.

This post is linked to: You Capture.

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