Parenting Tales, Points to Ponder

How We Do Life

I think it’s fascinating how so very different each family is. Their traditions, their way of operating, and just the way they roll. It really got me thinking about how our family does life, how WE roll. Our family is not perfect. No family is. We have numerous flaws, oddities, and times we have to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and vow to do better. We’re all different….and that’s a good thing, isn’t it?

This is how we do life:

God is the center of our home. Everything revolves around that—our marriage, our parenting, everything else.

We say please and thank you. Even Mom and Dad do this, even with something as insignificant as passing the salt. Manners are important and show respect.

Family dinner is a high priority, and we always pray before we eat together. It’s just not the same when we all have to grab something and rush out the door, or when someone is missing. This is where we share about our day, the highs and lows, and just hang out for a time.

We expect good behavior. I am not a yeller–never have been, probably never will be. And no, I wasn’t really into “time outs” when the kids were little. There may have been an occasional swat on the backside when deliberate misbehavior happened. My kids aren’t angels, but they certainly aren’t brats either. I have no explanation for this, other than that they are just expected to behave!

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We love to read. Yes, all 7 of us. There is no secret technique or formula that we used when our kids were little, except that we read to them a lot and they saw us reading for pleasure. It caught on, and it warms my heart to see them all devouring books.

We try not to overschedule ourselves. This is such a balancing act once everyone gets to a certain age, and right now we’re in the thick of it. Each child is in at least one activity. However, we are deliberate about not being too busy and will say “no thanks” to things that will make for an overly hectic week.

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We have a minimum of technology in our house. Seven people, one laptop. No personal Ipads, Ipods, tablets or anything. (Our oldest did get a very basic cell phone for his 15th birthday.) They ask before they use the computer, and if playing games on it, a timer is usually set.

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We try not to be materialistic. We have learned to live on one income, and live well on it. Secondhand clothes are just fine by us, as well as older vehicles and a not-big house. Christmas and birthdays usually are simple. Things aren’t too important, but people are.

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We serve others as best as we can. My husband is the prime example for this and is literally one of the most selfless people I’ve ever known. My parents are also great examples of this. I have become better at this as an adult (I think), but there’s always room for improvement. It is a joy to serve together, especially when it’s something the whole family can do.

Vacation and time away together is important to us. No, they are usually not fancy affairs, but that’s okay. We shoot for one week in the summer, just us, away from all of our usual stresses and things that pull for our attention. We’re not into overly crowded, “touristy” places. Give us a cabin in the middle of the woods somewhere and we are usually happy campers.

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We try to foster curiosity and a love for learning. I would label my husband and I as self-starters, or perhaps “self-motivated” people. We enjoy learning new things and encourage that in our kids. There is currently a continual pile of books on the couch, homemade contraptions or inventions in nearly every room, a plant cart in my living room, and a cricket farm and “lab” in my basement. No, our house is never picture perfect, but that’s okay with me. There’s a lot of love here and I’ll not squelch their innate curiosity. (Though too much clutter and mess does make me crazy.)

We are foodies. Kind of. My husband and I entered marriage in a unique situation—that is, we both knew how to cook. I do the majority of cooking during the week as I am the “at home” parent, and he does some meals on the weekends. We don’t eat out a whole lot as it gets wicked expensive for 7 people! Plus homemade is healthier. We have taught each kid various cooking skills, so hopefully they know how to fend for themselves once they grow up. As I’ve said before, to their future spouses: You’re Welcome.

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We try to be real. It’s interesting that my oldest, now in high school, is so very perceptive of “fake” people. I can’t stand it either, and hopefully I never come across that way. (You have permission to call me out on it if I do! Or slap me.) Like I said earlier, we are real. We are flawed. We are human.

Well folks, that’s how we do life around here. Each family has their own ways, and that’s cool. So now if you suspected that we were weird before, you got your confirmation by reading this!

Recipes

Ways to Use Leftover Bacon Grease

Today let’s talk about bacon.

Do you love bacon? Really, really love bacon?

If your response is, “oh yeah,” then you’re going to love this article. (If your answer is no, then why the heck not?)

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Well, we love our bacon around here. If you only know me by this blog, you may not know this little fact about me–I am a butcher’s wife.

Yes, my friends, my man makes such wonderful things as bacon, sweet bologna, ham, and many kinds of sausage.

Then he brings them home for us to eat.

What’s not to love about that? One of my favorite things is to smell his shirt when he comes home from working in and out of the smokehouse. Yup, I give him a big old hug and then breathe in that woodsy-smoky smell. (I’m weird, I know.)

Anyway, on to my little post about bacon, and the uses of bacon grease. I started a quart-sized mason jar to collect and keep our bacon drippings after we’ve cooked a batch. Because it’s a shame to just waste it, man. Here are some of the uses I’ve run across to use some of that leftover bacon goodness: 9445e6236fb4443b3e8259a76050cd91   Make stove-top popcorn. This one is newer to me, but don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. I used some bacon grease in lieu of my usual coconut oil (which is good too!) and it totally rocked. It provides the grease and the saltiness. bca218ff11263dfddd84a2f4edd679c0 Fried Potatoes. Potatoes, onions, a little s & p, all fried up in bacon drippings. Yum. Image courtesy of this blog.DSC02697_thumb[7]   Bacon Dressing. Just add a little vinegar and sugar and you voila! a tasty salad dressing. Image and recipe found here.

Cookies. Substitute bacon grease for 1/2 of the butter or shortening, or whatever fat your recipe calls for. (Ex: Instead of 1 cup butter, use 1/2 C bacon grease and 1/2 C butter) It will lend a little extra something to the taste, but shouldn’t overwhelm.

imagesMake soap. This site tells you how to get that bacon grease ready to make into soap.

grease candle

Make a candle. Spring Mountain Living has a good tutorial on doing this.

Feed the birds. All you need to do to make a simple bird feeder is a pine cone rolled in bacon drippings, then rolled in birdseed and hung up.

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Season your cast iron cookware. You know I am loving my cast iron skillet and have learned the importance of having a well seasoned one. Use this instead of other fats/oils for seasoning purposes.

Season veggies and soups. Or pretty much anything. Trust me, you can hardly go wrong by adding at least a dab of it to almost any old thing you’re cooking.

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-Rachel

Favorite Things, Points to Ponder

My Favorite Things:In the Kitchen

I have been doing some serious decluttering lately. Closets, cupboards, and the like are all in the process of getting a good going-over lately in our household. It feels so good to purge, doesn’t it?  Really, where does all this stuff come from? And how does it multiply so quickly? Anyway, as I was going through my kitchen cabinets, it got me thinking about what I would keep if I had to get rid of a majority of my kitchen items. So, here’s what I came up with so far. If you’re just setting up housekeeping or are just getting acquainted with actually using your kitchen more, this may be a good list to refer to:

A Kitchen Aid mixer. I'll admit that for the first ?? years of my marriage, I hardly used it. Now I use it fairly often and LOVE it. Mine's not this pretty color though, just plain white and stainless steel.
A good wire whisk. I have two sizes and actually prefer the smaller version to whip things up better.
My Chicago Cutlery knives. We received some as a wedding gift and I use these about every day. There's a medium-sized one that is pretty much my all purpose knife.
Lodge brand cast iron enameled Dutch Oven. Mine really is this pretty blue color! I received this as a Christmas gift from my husband a couple years ago. It is wonderful and can be used many ways. Highly recommended!!
A good wooden spoon (or two). Simple, but I use them all the time.
Pyrex liquid measuring cup. I also like to use Pyrex baking pans in all sizes.
Nordic Ware kids kitchen utensils. We bought several of these for the twins this past Christmas and they LOVE to use them! (They can be found at Target)
We have an older version of this Bunn Coffee Maker. This lovely workhorse has been a part of our household for almost 13 years and hasn't failed us once, and I can guarantee you that we use this daily! It brews up a nice pot of coffee in a short amount of time. No sir (or ma'am), we're not ready to jump on the Keurig bandwagon anytime soon!

Well, that’s my short list. I’m sure there’s other things I would include, but those are the main ones that came to mind. How about you? What kitchen items are your must-haves? Feel free to leave me a comment!

Blessings,

Rachel