homemaking hack: bread kits "from scratch"

Okay, so I've loved the idea of having a big family ever since we started having kids, and I always knew lots of food would be involved, but I honestly had no idea how much food they would eat! :D

So far, I only have children 10 and under, but we're all big eaters here at our house. I think some of it is because we generally don't eat lots of snacks or huge breakfasts, so when we eat a meal, we are all hungry when it's time to eat. :D

Rob and the kids eat sandwiches at lunch because they're easy to make and clean up in the middle of homeschooling, but these days we are going through an entire loaf of bread every meal! And if we shop at Sam's Club, the larger loaves run between $1.75- $2.50 per 24 ounce loaf, which makes eating sandwiches expensive. Even at the day-old bread store we pay about $1 per loaf.

Now that the baby is getting a little older, I'm trying to find every way we can to save on food- which means I'd like to make our own bread as often as possible, and save our family $5-$7 each week. A 1.5 lb. loaf of homemade bread from scratch costs me approximately 85 cents because I'm using olive oil and flour from Sam's Club.

The artisan bread I make is actually cheaper and better tasting in my opinion, but the breadmaker is more convenient for homeschooling mornings and for making sandwich bread. :)

Thankfully, instead of having to pull out all of the ingredients every morning {not convenient}, I have a very old homemaking hack I'm bringing back to make my goal of having homemade bread every day possible! 

It's the bread kit:

To make a bread kit, I just pre-measure all my dry goods so that I can dump them into my breadmaker one-handed. :) I modified my favorite recipe to use olive oil instead of vegetable oil and added about 3 cups of flour, 2 tbs. of sugar, 1-1.5 tsp. of salt, and 2.5 tsp. of yeast to each bag.

I flattened each package out and wrote a little reminder of what I needed to add when I pour it in:

the recipe I'm using this time, adapted from here:
3 cups flour, 1 tsp. salt + a pinch more, 2.5 tsp. of yeast, and 2 tbs. sugar in each bag,
when using- add 1/4 cup olive oil and 1 cup warm water to the machine {plus a tbs extra if needed during mixing}
Since they have yeast in them, I store the kits in the fridge to use through the week, but if I wanted to leave the yeast out, I could store them in the pantry {and have done that in the past!}. When I'm ready to use one, I just pour in the liquids {1 cup warm water and 1/4 cup of olive oil for this recipe} first and then add the kit, and put the bread cycle on regular white for 3 hours. {I've never noticed a problem with the kit being cold in the past, but I'm sure it wouldn't be a problem to pull it out a little early if needed or add a little hotter water to warm it up.}

I've made whole wheat using a different recipe in the past, and if I can find a good source of whole wheat in bulk I will probably go back to that for everyday use. For now we all like the white bread version. :) {I'd love to hear if you have a good machine recipe for wheat, and here is one for gluten-free machine bread if you're looking!}

I save the ziploc bags to reuse when we're done, so I don't have to waste them. :) And with the bread kits already made, I think it's easy enough the girls could do it every morning without leaving a mess. :) I'd say this little hack definitely makes life much easier and saves us money too! :D

How many loaves of bread does your family go through in a week?

goals + menu plans this week :: semi-homemade pizza, and being worshipful

Here are this week's do, read, learn, and be goals! :D

  • make dinner at lunch time, and double meals x2 for the freezer
  • make a pillow cover with fabric/pillows I have in my stash
  • check into after school activities for the family {now that the weather is warming up! yes!}
  • rearrange pantry/cabinet storage units
  • list one item for sale online
  • go through Zane's clothes and sort out the small ones {is it just me, or do I have to do this really often these days?}
  • cancel phone plan 
  • plan dates/location for a spring trip with the kids
  • write a love note to Noah + Isabella
  • go on a special outing with Noah

finish Man- the Dwelling Place of God and the No-Cry Sleep Solution
read Proverbs 17

Psalm 118:-21-24
I thank you that you have answered me
    and have become my salvation.
22 The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone.[b]
23 This is the Lord's doing;
    it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 This is the day that the Lord has made;
    let us rejoice and be glad in it.

worshipful. I've been so wrapped up in doing the next thing, but I want my focus to be on God and not on myself or my situation. I want to set my eyes on Him intentionally, and bring out the worship music every time I can so my heart will do just that. :)

And here are our meal plans for this week:

:: dinner ::
turkey burgers + fries 
{I make 5 lbs. of turkey for the week and try to use it for several days}
ground turkey tacos w/avocado + salsa
semi-homemade pizza :)
beans + rice
turkey spaghetti + salad + homemade bread {double}
white bean chili  x 2 if possible
dinner out

semi-homemade hawaiian pizza :) we bought a case of large pizza crusts at Sam's for a little over $1 each
:: lunch ::
grilled chicken + cabbage salad
pb sandwiches + carrots
beans and rice
ham roll-ups + multigrain tortilla chips w/salsa

:: breakfast ::
oatmeal or fruit

I had the craziest Blue Bell ice cream this weekend: Italian creme cake.
 Ice cream in the form of my #1 favorite cake ever.
It tasted so much like the real thing it made me want a piece of cake. :) 

Anything fun on the menu at your place? Please share! :D

How do you get your worship on throughout the day? We usually listen to music during lunch and dinner, and I'm thinking maybe we will incorporate it as part of morning homeschooling after breakfast! :)

Favorite pizza combo?
Not Hawaiian. :D I like chicken + veggie with garlic and a thin crust. :) And no black olives, though I could live with them if I had to. :P

bits and pieces: sunshine, sleep deprivation, saying goodbye to survival mode, + a winner

Sunshine is apparently necessary for my soul. I am so, so thankful for the gorgeousness God granted our part of the country this weekend.

Sweet, sweet sunshine.

We took advantage of it all weekend long- we drove around with the windows down, and even stopped to play at Sonic:

Thankfully, the playground is still very much loved by all of our children... :) Even Zane had a little fun in the car after he ate:

That munchkin is getting so active. Feeding him is like wrestling a bear, and he's officially to the "I don't want the nursing cover on me in any way" stage, so we've started exclusively car feeding... :) The no-cover stage has also coincided with the "I have to pull away to see what's going on every 15 seconds" stage.  I'm not sure he'll ever be able to nurse in public again. Or sleep through the night for that matter. :P

I'm hoping that bringing solid foods on board soon will help him sleep through the night. Mamas, did it help your little one sleep longer? I can't remember anything from the last 10 years thanks to this latest round of sleep deprivation. :P

Going without sleep makes you do very strange things. 

Like washing a hammer.

I've washed disposable diapers, toys, crayons even... but a hammer??

I might have to have my homemaking card taken away for that one.

I have no idea how it got in the hamper. I heard the washer banging but didn't think twice about it. I have a theory on how the hammer got in the washer, but at least now I know- the next time I hear my new washer making ridiculous amounts of banging noises, I should probably go check on it and not just think it's overloaded. {obviously, right? :P}

Luckily, this book^ came in the mail just in time:


One of my favorite bloggers, Crystal from Money Saving Mom, was so kind to send it to me earlier this month, and oh my goodness, I loved it so much I read it in a weekend. Seriously. I had a feeling I would love it, and I did. Her advice in this book is so practical and spot-on {as usual!}, and like she does on her blog, she includes many ideas and ways to implement the strategies she's writing about. 

She makes your action steps doable, and she does a great job of breaking everything down so that you can make a plan that will work for your own life. And sometimes, it's just so good to know someone else has been in survival mode too. :) And it's especially interesting as a blogger to hear how other bloggers do life with a blog.

I'm implementing her advice this week- I'm working on getting up earlier, and hopefully putting Zane on a routine so that we can all function a little better now that he's getting older.

Oh, and before I forget to tell you, the Build-a-Menu giveaway winner was Kristen:
looks like a great time saver...low carb 4-6 for our family! Thanks! Kristen 
But the coupon code for BAM is still active if you didn't win and wanted to try it: use the code SaveMeMoney to make it only $4 to try it for a month! :)

Speaking of menu planning, we finally hit the grocery store again after taking a week off, so today I'm trying to do some meal and goal planning for the week before it's time to teach my combat class this afternoon. I'm also hoping to get a bit more sunshine in this week! :)

Thank you Lord, for the seasons. I would totally take sunshine for granted if it weren't for the gray winter. :)

How was your weekend? Did you feel any sunshine?

What's the craziest thing you've ever washed?? 

Favorite Sonic drink?
Mine: Route 44 Diet Cherry Limeade with no ice. Every time, baby.

Mamas: how do you keep your older little ones covered when in public without a scene? {ahem}
I'd love to hear your ideas! I'm working on a designing nursing cover that REALLY covers in the next few weeks.

[^= affiliate link- thank you for supporting {bh} through amazon! :D} 

homemaking hack: make your own cheap & beautiful storage solutions

I'm excited to show you another one of my favorite homemaking hacks today! :D 

Even though I'm probably the least organized person you know, for some reason, I really love pretty organizing tools {usually of the floral Target type}. And I really, really love pretty fabric covered boxes. :P Something about large, pretty boxes makes me feel extremely happy. :D

Luckily this one came free from Sam's Club:

It was a huge open paper box! The fabric is a drop cloth I painted in the pattern from Emily at Jones Design Company's famous stenciled wall. It started as a curtain and after two hours and two whole square feet of finished stencil, I gave up on that project and from that point it was designated as a small piece of decor fabric, which I then adhered to the box with this handy little product:

{this is the same stuff I use for my cheap Goodwill art!}

This is the box after years of using it... it's still in great shape! I usually have it holding extra items on top of my clothing armoire.

I love almost free storage!! :D

Here's how I did another free {with the diapers you buy} box with some fun fabric from Joann's. If I were really serious about the whole thing I could spray paint the box white beforehand, but I didn't care that much. And empty Luv's boxes are in good supply at our house these days.

I can't find the fabric anywhere online, but it's called "timeless florals" by Logantex. :) I estimated how much fabric I needed- a little over a yard to have no seams and cover the inside completely:

After cutting off the rest of the fabric, I left the whole yard uncut and started planning out how I would glue it on. When I found the perfect placement for covering the whole box, I sprayed the adhesive on the side and started gluing the smaller sides first- pulling them tightly over the sides:

I left the box flaps in for extra reinforcement.
You can cut the fabric to cover the flaps, but it's not necessary. I'm so not about perfection here! :D

I used the fold and tuck method for the corners to cover the excess:


Here's what it looks like from the side:

Tuck and spray and tighten smooth on all sides, and I was okay with imperfection inside too. I've left other boxes unlined and they look great, but I just loved this fabric so much I wanted to see it inside and out:

The spray adhesive is adjustable for a little while, so you can fix any mistakes you might make, and I'm happy to say it's held up very well on my other boxes. I didn't use as much since this time I had a brightly colored box, and the more glue, the more you could see the Luvs. :) I used a tiny piece of fabric to cover the Luv's on the right side, and had I used a white or spray-painted box, I would have been adhesive happy all over. :)

You could totally use a glue gun also, but I didn't want to see the glue lines and you have to be really good to just get it tight once. The spray adhesive is your friend in this project. :D

I won't lie- this orange little pop of color makes me feel happy! :D

It could have so many uses- on a shelf, under a table, holding games, dishes, or even diapers ;)...

It's definitely not perfect up close, but I think that makes it even more fun to have around. You could never tell from under a table or in the pantry that it was a Luv's box. And hey, you could never find a cheery, one of a kind box like that at Target! ;)

What's your favorite thrifty or creative way to have open storage? :)

Ever used spray adhesive? Do you love as much as I do?

thursday encouragement: the gospel

I thought this was an awesome encouragement in the Gospel from Matt Chandler, John Piper, and David Crowder- worth every minute of watching! :)

God loves you so much:

and He is better than anything that might be tempting you or pulling you away from Him:

owlish deals on the web {great gifts $10 and under shipped }

I had lots of people asking me where I found this necklace I was giving away last week:

I couldn't remember for the life of me, and I shopped all of Amazon before I found where I got it- Hobby Lobby:

Hobby Lobby owl, $5 {no chain}

It was from the jewelry section with a coupon. But I figured since I searched high and low on Amazon before I figured that out, I'd show you what I found there that was similar in case you were looking for a fun gift. :D

I thought this was super cute on the high end of the price range- with a much different color combo, which I like too:

And this was just ridiculously adorable.

And then this one looked a bit more heavy weight:

And this one was just quirky fun:

And this one had a dragonfly {no owls}, but it is a watch too for $2.99 shipped

And I apologize in advance for the cuteness overload. Not recommended for wearing around your neck, but these were too cute not to share! :D

Cute owl salt and pepper shakers, $7.50 shipped w/prime

They look like the little owlings {?} that belong with my cookie jar from World Market:

Owls might be super popular, but I still think they're fun. :) I'm going to try to keep that cookie jar until I have grandchildren. :D

{p.s. this post contains amazon affiliate links- should you buy one of the items above, {bh} receives a tiny percentage! yay!}

v-day weekend, the best coffee mug + other lovely things

It was a lovely weekend if I do say so myself. :D

It started with a date with this guy for Valentine's at his very favorite place, Chuy's:

Well, actually, he is so good, he started Valentine's on Thursday by bringing me these roses. :D 

And thankfully the weather changed to beautiful on Friday, so our date was even more amazing. We had our tiny third wheel with us, but he was on his best behavior. :) 

We ended the night with Starbucks, where Rob bought me the best insulated mug I've ever used. My coffee gets cold fast in our chilly house, and so I have been looking for a mug that 1. was insulated, 2. had a handle, and 3. didn't have a flip lid of some kind. And now I have a mug that fits all three! {wohoo!} It works so well. I can't believe how much he paid for it, but that man sure knows how to love his woman. :P {He also gave me an emerald green leather purse. Man, what a guy! :D}

I've so enjoyed how my warm coffee lasts longer every morning. And did I ever tell you about my new best friend I have to go with it? It was one of my Christmas presents from my parents:

The ESV Bible is so different than my MacArthur study Bible I've always used, but I love it too. It's much more vague and often takes less of a hard stance than the MacArthur version, but it also provides more contextual information and visuals, and I really like the small size of it too. It's been lovely to use. :)

And speaking of lovely, I found this fabric in the remnant section at the fabric store for $5/yard:

It's bold and the flowers are huge. I can't wait to cut it up and show you what I'm making with it. :) I'm hoping to add that little fun project to my to- do list for this week. 

I'm not sure it will make it on the list this week though- here's what it's like to even try to write a to-do list in my notebook these days:

Zane gets jealous and makes sure I can't do anything but hold him. ;) He eats all competition.

One night when Rob's home and my hands are free again, I'd really like to make a round of freezer meals. Frozen meals like the lasagna we had last night make life so much easier {at least when you remember to put them in the oven, anyway}.

How was your weekend? Was it lovely? {ahem :D}

Do you have a favorite freezer meal to make in bulk? I'd love to hear! I'm thinking white chicken chili, and taco soup again.

Do you ever use foil pans? 
I buy them at Sam's and love them to pieces. I mostly use them for freezer cooking and taking meals to other families. If I remember right, they run about .33 each at Sam's instead of 50 cents- $1+ at Walmart or the dollar store.

zane is 6 months already {progressive pics}

Oh my goodness, I can't believe my baby is already 6 months old!! 

It seems like yesterday I was waiting to give birth:

41 weeks + {probably a good thing I didn't know he weighed 10 lbs!!}
And then he came out lightning fast, and has been a sweet blessing to our family for half of a year already. We have been given such joy since August 13! :)

12 hours old
2 days
3 days old
2 months

3 months

first thanksgiving- 3.5 months

4 months 

4 months
4.5 months
5.5 months
5.5 months 
6 months minus 1 day :)

At 6 months Zane:

weighs about 22 lbs. {larger than any of our children, by far}
loves to "talk" baaababa, dadadaa, hi iii, 
is almost sitting up
smiles and laughs all the time
plays in his walker
rarely naps
knows when his mama or daddy isn't the one holding him :)
wears 12-18 month clothes mostly- has grown out of all his12 month sleepers
rolls around to different spots
dances with his whole body when he's excited
is easily spooked by loud sounds
chews on his finger or the paci
cries for the gym childcare girls :(
is getting really heavy in the carseat
sleeps 12 hours {not straight} every night
will grab anything in arm's reach and knock it to the floor
hasn't tasted any solid food yet
hasn't been away from his mama for more than 4.5 hours in his life
makes life without him unimaginable :D

It's been a long and short six months, all at the same time. I'm totally hoping the next six last a while too.  I know this stage is all too short. :)