Always with the Legos

The 9yo made a *huge* Lego RV.  Huge.  With a tow-behind garden, complete with little romantic area (his words!) there at the end of the trailer.

Inside of the RV.  Freakin’ impressive.  There’s a shower stall and a separate toilet stall.  Dresser with lamp in front of the bed.  TV viewing area in front of the dining area.  Giant kitchen complete with cupboards (that work!), drawers (that work!), stove, sink with faucet, fridge, rangehood, and yeah.

Been having fun with my menu magnets.  Working out well, and hubby can see at a glance what on earth his crazy wife is up to.

Top row  =  Day of the week.
Second row (yellow/flowers)  =  Breakfast.
Third row (green)  =  Lunch.
Bottom row (blue)  =  Dinner.  And maybe recipe cards.

The kids being put to work.    Here they were finishing scrubbing the tile floor in the entryway, and I sicced them on the dirty walls (usually dirty from them touching it…).

Second to last batch of 2012 canning.  Even though I did this just the other day.  Finally getting through some of the apples I’d been ignoring in the homeschool room.  Better late than never I suppose.  Unsweetened applesauce and chicken/turkey stocks.

The first aid kit I perpetually have in my purse.

It’ll be changing a little, again, when I get all my goodies for mixing up my own potions and save enough from selling stuff to get more essential oils on hand.

I’m sure you’re curious as to what the heck’s inside my fridge.  Yeah, not all that impressive.  It’s not 100% clean (better than it was earlier, we went on a leftover/clean out the fridge yuck spree today), nor is absolutely everything homemade.  I’m human.  I didn’t even realize I had four open jam jars in the fridge, whoops.  The kids go find what they need in the pantry, and yeah.  There’s also a bunch more cheese there on the shelf than normal since I plan to go on a homemade mac & cheese spree tomorrow (plan to make at least 2 extra freezer casseroles).  Why yes, I need to have room for Costco-sized condiments in the fridge.

The bottom drawer is almost entirely yogurt for the kids, middle drawer is produce of some sort (currently celery, lettuce, lemons, carrots).

No photo of the garage fridge because, well, it’s kinda gross.  Things have spilled and gotten icky, and, well, it’s in the garage.  I’ll get to it sometime by June or so.  It’s just got 2-3 weeks worth of eggs, another 1-2 weeks worth of cheese, a week’s worth of milk (3.5-4.5 gallons usually), 6+ months of sour cream and cream cheese, some extra carrots and extra yogurt, and so on.  Life in bulk certainly isn’t boring or easy/quick, that’s for sure.

You ever just come up with a brilliant redneck design?

Oh yes, I did.
Lately I’ve been needing something for carrying goodies hither and yon.  Welp, those fancy ones are all well and good, but they only hold one thing and they also take up a ton of room.
Enter a formerly un-used craft stacky thing.

It now carries goodies.  Fits a pie plate (I found this out while traveling for Thanksgiving – I didn’t want hubby’s pie to fall apart or fly across the van while driving!)…

Fits cupcakes, even if they aren’t the super-tall frosting-laden ones.

And my brilliance with the cupcakes is to use old/busted/rusted canning rings as dividers so they don’t fly all over the place.  Worked like a charm for my errands and church potluck last week.

Finally got that 31 pounds of lard rendered.  It was totally a comedy of errors on my part.   Upside?  I know better how to go about it next time, that’s for sure.  I ended up with all this out of the 31 pounds of pork fat.

What I’d do differently?
Have the butcher separate the leaf lard and rest of the pork fat.  Then have him grind them up.  Taking him buckets to throw the goop into (rather than garbage bags).  Do it all quick in a day or two, rather than a two week ordeal (I didn’t have the fat ground up, didn’t have a meat grinder until I put a call out on FB and my tomato lady loaned me hers, and yeah).  I didn’t save the cracklings this year, I was just ready to be done with seeing this stuff and making the house smell funky.  There’s always next year.
And there may have been a slight difference in the coloring, but whatever, we’ll probably still stick with butter for apple pie making. 

One of my several Black Friday purchases.  I had a really great BF this year.  Hardly waited in line (longest line was four people deep!), people were still friendly and fresh, it was great.

A few weeks ago I gathered up a bunch of stuff from my freezer and stuff I’d prepped to go drop off to the proper places.  One friend was about to have a baby (she had her little girl a few days later!), another one recently lost her husband, and another lady had a stillbirth yet still has other children to take care of.  So yes, being me, here I come with food.  I guess from here it doesn’t look like a lot, but that’s a 40-quart cooler, and I can fit like 7-8 glass quart jars in that basket while trucking stuff downstairs to the pantry.

And because I can’t do anything on a normal scale anymore, meatballs.  Lots and lots of meatballs.  Reminds me, I either need to finish freezing the others, or make ’em for lunch for the kids…

Horrible photo, this was the best I could get through the rainy windshield with my slowly-dying camera and idling van.  This is the resort on the lake that goes all out with Christmas lights.  Every year we go on the lake cruise to the North Pole.  The kids have been asking about that cruise for a few weeks already, it’s quite firmly cemented into our holiday repertoire.

Had a meltdown the other day.  This is what my living room looked like.

And the dining room/kitchen.  It doesn’t really look as bad from here I suppose, but it’s quite busy and cluttered with all kinds of weird crap going on.

Finished canning up some bacon, some applesauce, and turkey stock.  Still have a few things left to do.

On hubby’s way home from a work trip he was a doll and stopped by The Container Store for me.  To get these neat glass pitchers for our milk/juice/whatever.  The fat/squat one is a 2-quart or half-gallon one, sitting next to a quart and a half-gallon jar for comparison.  They’re really cute!  Have a hermetic seal to keep other aromas and such out, too, so score!

Next to a half-gallon jar.  The pitcher will definitely be slightly easier to put in the fridge.

And lest you get it in your head that I actually get a ton of stuff done around the house?  All these photos are from a span of at least two weeks, if not more.

Recap of the last week or so

First round of applesauce – all with honey.
Vanilla honey applesauce.

Went to a paint-your-pottery place for a friend’s baby shower and got sucked in.
I had them paint the words for me, but I’m guessing the instructions left weren’t understood.  Eh, maybe I’ll do another one later on and this can be my secondary one.

One side says “Give us this day our daily bread” and the other side says “Live a life of love.”

In case you were wondering what 15 pounds of bacon looks like.  I canned up a bunch of bacon bits.  Need to finish it out.  Also canned up the bacon grease, but it did something funny, I may need to redo that.

My adorable little box from an Azure Standard order.  Some gluten-free flour blends to play around with, some brown rice syrup (again, to play around with), and a ton of Pomona Pectin.  Not pictured is my box of muffin papers, and the wheat I have still sitting in the van to freeze (I’m going to let it freeze out there for a few days before starting to repackage).

Today I also went and got my half a pig.

9 packages (33lbs) of bacon.
14 sausage chubs (20lbs).

The remaining 127lbs:
2 arm roasts.
9 packages pork chops.
1 package country style ribs.
1 package baby back ribs.

3 hams.

And a bunch of lard.  I didn’t think to ask/have the butcher separate the leaf fat from the other stuff, next time.  I got all the pork fat from this pig as the person who bought the other half didn’t want it – yay! 31.something pounds, yay!  Too tired to render it today, maybe tomorrow.  Worked out to be about $2.42/lb, or if you count the pork fat, $2.08/lb.  Yeehaw!