Taco Soup Is On!

We’ve sort of had to live out of our storehouse and freezer lately, and needed to be super frugal with our food budget.  Being frugal with a food budget is tough for average sized families, but this is magnified with a larger than average sized family. I’ve learned that it’s a whole lot easier to accomplish this if I have been working on a “storehouse” with dried good foods, canned or frozen foods from the garden we grew, or when there are really fabulous sales that stock the pantry. We actually have two stand up freezers. One is for frozen vegetables and cheese. Another is meats and pre-prepared meals and bread. We also have two refrigerators, each with a freezer. In our kitchen the small freezer is for the small things we need on hand immediately. The extra refrigerator and freezer contain items we need on hand for convenience sake, but not daily.

We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post.

It’s a good thing the weather is changing, and it’s cooler. It means we want to eat soup!

Earlier this week, we cooked some pinto and black beans and prepared this large family version of crock pot Taco soup! It was so yummy, and with nine people eating, there were no leftovers!

Our tomatoes and sweet red pepper were frozen from our garden harvest. All ingredients are items that are purchased in bulk through out the year, except the ground turkey.

Soak and cook 2 cups of dried black beans, and 1 cup of dried pinto beans.

Brown 3 lbs of ground turkey, a large diced onion, a medium diced red sweet pepper, and minced garlic to taste (we love a lot of it.)

In an 8 quart crock pot, put the equivalent of four taco seasoning packets in (if you make your own). Add 2 quarts of stewed diced tomatoes in water, two 7 ounce cans of diced green chilis, 16 ounces of frozen corn, and the cooked beans. Add home made chicken stock until it reaches the top of the crock pot and can still put the lid on. Set the crock pot on low for the day, adding more stock if needed.

Serve with shredded cheddar and sour cream. Tortilla chips and salsa on the side or warm corn bread are nice side additions. Avocado would be yummy too!

Earlier this week, we did our fall rhubarb harvest from our own garden. One daughter cut the stalks into 1 inch pieces and filled an 8 cup measure, while another peeled and chopped 6 Gala apples. We threw it all into the crock pot with a couple of cups of water, a half cup of brown sucanat (brown sugar would work too), and a tablespoon of cinnamon. We put it on low, and let it cook to apple sauce consistency over night. The next morning, and all week, our three daughters topped a bowl of the sauce with oats, and reheated and ate this for breakfast.  They would add more cinnamon and brown sucanat to taste as they felt it needed. Rhubarb is very tart!

Photo credit from pixabay.com

We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post.

Budget minded people might like to consider how to bundle Lilla Rose products. Already assembled bundles are available on the Lilla Rose website, but you can also create your own! Have you considered how to pair similar style products together? Or to pair a head scarf with a pair of bobby pins or a flexi clip? How about a hat and a flexi? Or even a scarf and flexi. Here are some examples, as well as the November Flexi of the Month and November customer special.


These are while supplies last. Flexi clips are all in extra small size.

Nina braided 8 with espresso stick in medium. Tranquility hairband. Note how I paired with turquoise earrings and shirt.

A cute scarf rolled for a hair band and accessorized with an extra small flexi clip looks cute on a side fishtail braid!

Pair a scarf with an extra small flexi, a hair band, upins, bobby pins, or another flexi to coordinate your look for the day! What a great gift idea!

The November 2017 Flexi of the Month, also has coordinating bobby pins and upins. The Customer special, for a $125 purchase, includes a silver carry case, bobby pins and special Poinsettia brooch. What a beautiful collection to keep for yourself or gift to one of the ladies on your gift giving list!



Duck Egg Casserole

We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post.

We have two ducks. One is a Pekin male duck we call Peregrin, who at times is a comical and clumsy oaf. He can walk the ramp into the coop or the one to the pool, but often he needs help going in at night. For some reason, he can’t understand going up the ramp at dusk. Our beautiful female duck, Jaymes, a Rouen, is loud and bossy. She herds the chickens into the coop at night, and she triumphantly sounds the alarm to head out into the run in the morning when the coop door opens. Watching the dynamics of these two is better than any evening television program, and provides for much comic relief. I never thought I’d enjoy ducks (or the chickens) quite so much!

Only one or two of our young chickens has started laying eggs, and even with our four adult chickens, we’ve only been getting 1-3 chicken eggs/day. Jaymes has been faithfully laying an egg every morning for 15 days. We have never had duck eggs before, and were intrigued. Honestly, we weren’t sure we’d like them and thought maybe they’d taste weird. We patiently waited for enough duck eggs to make a casserole so our whole family could try them at the same time.

A-Grape and I cracked twelve eggs one by one into a bowl and whisked them. We observed that the consistency of the Rouen duck egg is more gel like than a chicken egg. We had to add milk to the mixture in order for the eggs to stir into the rest of the ingredients in our casserole because they are so thick. The egg shells were harder to crack than store bought chicken eggs. We also have noted that Rouen duck eggs are slightly larger than our Rhode Island Red chicken eggs. They fit in A-Grape’s 9 year old palm.

It was a lot of fun for our family to try something new, and quite honestly, it was fun to eat the eggs of the animals we’ve been caring for as they grew to maturity, and that we’ve been enjoying. The casserole was delicious. Adjectives used by the children to describe the casserole were that the eggs were “meatier”, “thicker”, and that, really, they didn’t taste that much different than a chicken egg. A-Grape looked forward to eating a duck egg “just plain” for breakfast the following morning. She likes it so much, she is reluctant to share them with her other siblings.

Here is our recipe for our Duck Egg Casserole.

Duck Egg Casserole


12 Duck Eggs, whisked
24 oz small curd cottage cheese
30 oz frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
1 lb turkey bacon crumbled/cooked with one diced onion
16 oz frozen broccoli
3-4 c shredded cheddar cheese
2+ tsp garlic powder (to taste, really. We use a lot more than 2 tsp)
Black pepper to taste
Enough liquid/milk to combine all ingredients together, approx 1-2 cups


Stir all ingredients together, adding milk if needed. Pour into 15×11 greased Pyrex casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown around edges and throughout the top, about an hour. Serve with whole wheat bread or rolls.

Serves 8-10.


I’ve been working with a couple of bloggers who have written reviews of Lilla Rose products. You can find them at Needed in the Home and Hair By Mallorie.



Until 10/31/17 or while supplies last:



The Arrow Was Launched

Our son, Equine J, married his bride, KL, on July 29th, 2017 at a Brownfield, Maine venue that overlooked the surrounding mountains. The skyline was spectacular. The rustic barn, the pond, the trees and flowers on the property were beautiful.

Equine J is the first of our children to marry, and at times in the past year was so surreal. I mean, I do have a 9 year old, so I’m clearly not old enough to have an adult son, right? (My hair says otherwise.)

As it turns out, being the mother (or father) of the groom can be a rather emotional experience. Much of that emotion is expected to be kept to one’s self in our culture, it seems. I mean, after all, we’re supposed to be happy to have raised an exceptional young man with work ethic and integrity, and that he found the woman God planned for him. We’re expected to be relieved and celebrate that the teen years are over, that apron strings are cut, and celebrating our own freedom from the hardships of parenting. (So what if you happened to love parenting, raising children in their faith, encouraging their life long pursuit at education, and don’t feel that relief that others celebrate?) We are thrilled beyond belief that Equine J found a Christian woman to spend the rest of his life with, to plan a family with, and to go after their goals and dreams together. We are thrilled that they share a vision for service. There is so much about which to be grateful and happy!

It’s not that we’re not happy. It’s that no one told us about the grieving that came with the joy.

Before the wedding was to start, I noted my son sitting alone. The other seven of Equine J’s first family were coveting what little shade there was on the porch, trying to keep our mood light, so as not to risk Mom’s mascara running as the wedding started. I tapped Equine J, and asked him to join us, we intended only to have a family huddle hug, but it turned into a family prayer with me leading, and keeping that lump in my throat from escaping.

During the wedding I listened to my husband weep, as I barely held the tears in my eyes.

I did well all through the wedding, pictures were fun, and visiting with friends and family was fun.

And then, it was time for the Mother-Son dance, to a song I’d never heard. The words took my breath away as I listened to what my son had chosen for our dance. I alternated between laughing at funny memories, and weeping at mistakes, both of which raised the boy to be the man he is.



~Garth Brooks

A little baby told God, “Hey, I’m kinda scared
Don’t really know if I want to go down there
From here it looks like a little blue ball
That’s a great big place and I’m so small”

“Why can’t I just stay here with you
Did I make you mad, don’t you want me to?”
God said, “Oh, child, of course I do
But there’s somebody special waiting for you”

“Yeah, and you were ten hours late, don’t you know! ” I laughed in Equine J’s ear.

And well worth the wait, my son. You were a beautiful almost blonde haired, hazel eyed baby boy with big cheeks and a hearty appetite. Back in the day, I loved walking you in our mint green baby stroller and cruising around the town to pay our bills on foot and to story time at the library.

And the truck book I read to you every three hours through your toddlerhood days. I miss that. “Up, up, up goes the cherry picker. They’re repairing the power lines above the street…”

So, hush now baby don’t you cry
‘Cause there’s someone down there waiting
Whose only goal in life
Is makin’ sure you’re always gonna be alright
A loving angel, tender, tough and strong
It’s almost time to go and meet your mom

I would often quote: Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck. Proverbs 1:8-9

Teaching penmanship to my new Kindergartner, homeschooling on our very first day of school, “That’s not how Mrs. Black told me to make my H’s.” Equine J retorted. “I’m not Mrs. Black, dear son. ” I replied. 

You’ll never have a better friend
Or a warmer touch to tuck you in
She’ll kiss your bruises, your bumps and scrapes
And anytime you hurt, her heart’s gonna break

Except I made him walk home from a bike accident that ultimately landed him in the hospital ER with bruised ribs, his teeth piercing through his tongue, a hematoma the size of a dinner plate on his thigh, and a nice concussion.

Well, there is also the day the boy cried because he found out his horse pal Cliff was moving away. On the last day he worked with him, I went out and took photos and saw his relationship with the horse. 

And, there was the day I went with him to bring home a badly behaved, rude horse named Dancer whose attitude matched Equine J’s…

…who ultimately shaped Equine J’s character as he developed a relationship and trained the horse. I saw the work ethic and drive in a boy that had previously seemed irresponsible. These two became quite a team for a couple of years. 

Now, when she’s talking to you
Make sure you listen close
‘Cause she’s gonna teach you everything
You’ll ever need to know
Like how to mind your manners
To love and laugh and dream
And she’ll put you on the path
That’ll bring you back to Me

In second grade, I made Equine J pay for the brand new socks he wore outside without shoes. He kept putting holes in his socks as a result. Then, when he couldn’t tell me how much change he would get for his $8 package of socks, I took his $20 bill for not knowing his math lessons. Graceless parenting at its not so finest.  I felt bad, and deposited the money back into his savings account. 

So, hush now little baby don’t you cry
‘Cause there’s someone down there waiting
Whose only goal in life
Is making sure you’re always gonna be alright
A loving angel, tender, tough and strong
Come on child
It’s time to meet your mom

You are launched, dear son. You are a blessing, a reward, a heritage. Through all our mistakes, failures, and successes, sweat, laughter, and tears, it has been a joy to watch you become the Christian man you are, and I look forward to the joy of seeing the family you and your new bride create. You are both so loved.

With Love,