I Have Been Blessed

All about how God has blessed me. In my marriage, with my six children, through homeschooling, and our faith with recipes, large family living, and updates on our life.

DIY Laundry Soap

Okay, this is no News Flash, but I have Six Kids. Can you possible imagine how much laundry six kids make? And Six kids that play outside at least once every day in black Florida Dirt! I do a lot of laundry. A while back when Austin was farming and I was trying to get dollars to stretch as far as possible I hear about making your own laundry soap. I tried the liquid way first, using the Duggars Recipe, and I thought it worked okay, but it was kind of a pain pouring from the 5 gallon bucket into the one gallon container and mine never ‘gelled’ the way they said it would, and honestly it just didn’t get my clothes as clean as our old stand-by Tide with Bleach.So when our five gallon bucket was empty, we quit using it.

Then, when it started bugging me that I was paying upwards of 45-50 cents a load for store bought detergent, I decided I would try again. I diligently searched for a powdered Do It Yourself laundry detergent and found several. So with trial and error and additions and substitutions, here is the recipe we use.

1 bar of Fels-Naptha

1/2 cup Oxi-Clean (we added this because #1 we have hard water and #2 it helped make my whites whiter)

1 cup and 1/4 of 20 Mule Team Borax

and 1 cup Washing Soda (not Baking Soda!!)

In my Wal-Mart these are all in the Laundry Aisle, near each other. I pay 97 cents for a bar of Fels-Naptha, around $3 a box for Washing Soda and Borax, (although I have found them on sale for closer to $2.50 a box!) and $10 for my 5 pound box of Oxi-Clean. The Borax and Washing Soda are each good for about 8 batches. The Oxi-Clean is good for about 20 batches. So by my Math, one batch of soap as above costs about $2.22, and each batch is good for about 20 extra-large loads (we have a HE Front Load Washer), making it less than 11 cents per load!

Anyways, once you have gathered all your ingredients, the next thing to do is to grate your soap. This is a rather hard soap and since I do several batches at a time, I just use an old, but still works like a charm, food processor. I slice it into chunks, then food process my soap, until it is in crumbs (the smaller the better). You can also use a cheese grater and grate your soap. Be warned – unsuspecting children may think this is actually cheese and will ask you for bites. (I recommend saying no!)

After that I throw all the ingredients into an old Animal Cracker Tub (but you can use whatever you have available) and shake it up. (At my house, I have lots of volunteers for this step!)  An extra-large load uses a level 1/4 cup of powder. This soap works great for High Efficiency Washers. Occasionally, if I wash something and it is still dirty, I treat it with Shout and re-wash it and that seems to be enough to do the trick, but I have only had this happen when the kids have gotten really muddy or with some of Austin’s clothes after he had been working on a vehicle. We’ve used this recipe for well over six months!

With the numerous loads of laundry I do each week, this saves my family hundreds of dollars each year!

If you try it out, let me know how it works for you!

We have been blessed.

Five special Blessings to me today: Listening to my older children read to my younger children, Fresh vegetables, New Friends, Beautiful Days, Upcoming Vacation!



Brendyn’s Kitchen – Monkey Bread

My Monkey and His Bread

One of the greatest parts about being a stay-at-home, homeschooling mother is getting to figure out the things your kids love and then having ample opportunity to nurture and build on it. Aren’t I a blessed Mom that my oldest boy loves cooking. Aren’t I doubly blessed that when I am trying to feed the baby, get six kids ready for church and get dinner ready for Family Night (our church’s once a month pot-luck dinner), that Brendyn can come to the rescue and has enough experience and menu choices that I can usually leave Family Night Meal preparations up to him with very little effort on my part.

One of his favorite things to make and most requested offerings in Monkey Bread. And not only is it delicious (and relatively cheap!), he lets the younger kids help too! A Korean lady at our church, upon seeing Monkey Bread for the first time, said to Brendyn “That is the ugliest cake I have ever seen!” After she tasted it though, she was hooked, and always asks Brendyn if he is making “Ugly Cake” for Family Night. She told me yesterday that last Family Night it was gone before she got any. This time, after she sliced it, she hid a piece away for herself!

Here is his recipe and he took all of the pictures (except for the first one and the last one in which he is holding the plate!)

MONKEY BREAD (a.k.a. UGLY CAKE, or Pull Apart Bread)

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

2. Grease a bundt pan. (Ours is well-used and judging by its avacado green color, probably from the 1970’s.)

3. Pull out 4 cans of biscuits from your refrigerator, assuming it’s not the day after grocery day and your refrigerator is bursting at the seams, in which case, have a small child unload the refrigerator until they find them. Using Kitchen Scissors or a Sharp Knife (if your kids can handle them safely), cut each biscuit into fourths. (Insert random math questions here, such as how many pieces will you have after you have used four cans, each with ten biscuits, and each biscuit has been cut into fourths!)

4. In Ziploc Bag, shake together 3 TBSP Cinnamon and 2 cups Brown Sugar. Add biscuit pieces to ziploc a handful at a time and hand to a younger sibling to shake, shake, shake. Remember to hand to a different sibling each time so that each sibling has had a turn and feels like they helped, also ensuring you have avoided either a meltdown, or World War 3, depending on how badly those siblings want to help.

5. Enlist another sibling (with very clean hands) to drop each coated biscuit piece into the pan.

6. After half the biscuit pieces are in the pan, melt half of a stick of butter (1/4 cup) and drizzle it over the top.

7. Add the rest of the coated biscuit pieces. Sprinkle any leftover cinnamon-brown sugar over the top. Melt the other half of that stick of butter and drizzle it over the top.

8. Bake for 45 minutes.

9. Once finished, have a parent place a plate on top of the bundt pan and VERY carefully flip the pan over onto the plate.

10. Cut into slices, or if you are eating it at home and are feeling less civilized, have everyone just pull pieces off. Yummy!

I am So Blessed!

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Resurrection Rolls

I saw that a few home-schooling moms have been doing these with their children this week and my curiosity got the better of me. So, I looked up the recipe and we made these this morning! And spoiler alert – they were delicious. I also liked that they were both science experiment (What do you think is going to happen?) and Bible Object Lesson at the same time.


2 packages crescent rolls

1/2 stick butter, melted

cinnamon sugar (you can make your own)

large marshmallows


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

I gave each kid a marshmallow (this represents Jesus, if you’re along for the Object Lesson part of this!)

They rolled the marshmallow in butter and then rolled it in cinnamon sugar. (This represents the oil and spices they used to prepare Jesus’ body.) We did this part assembly line style. (It helps to have extra marshmallows on hand, in case you have children like mine who have the mindset “one for the pan, one for me, one for the pan …”)

Then you roll the marshmallow in a crescent roll, making sure to pinch the seams together. (This represents the tomb.)

Bake in the oven for 12 minutes. During this time while we were cleaning up, I asked the kids what they thought would happen. Brendyn thought the marshmallow would pop out, like Jesus rolling the tomb away. We turned the light on in the oven and they watched the rolls bake. Tyler thought it looked like the rolls were breathing when they “puffed out”.

After you take them out of the oven, you do see a little marshmallow ooze, but once cool enough to handle, move a roll to a plate and show your kids what happened after they put Jesus into the tomb.

The TOMB was EMPTY!!! What a Great Reminder at Easter Time! (And again, these were very yummy!)


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Trail Mix

For Tyler’s Birthday party, we had a make-your-own Trail Mix station. I was impressed with how well it turned out, and I can definitely see myself doing something like this again!

The kids started at one side of the table with a pint sized jar and a label with their name on it. (If I would have been more prepared, I would have made a decorated label instead of just written a name, maybe something to go with the Cowboy Birthday Theme.) Anyhow, once they had their jars, I had the different food items in different sized bowls for them to scoop out. For the filler stuff that I had a lot of (Cheerios, Gold fish, etc.) we used a 1/4 cup scoop, for other stuff we used a tablespoon or teaspoon.

This is what we had around the table: Cheerios, Banana Chips, Mini Marshmallows, Golden Raisins, Teddy Grahams, Shredded Coconut, Kix Cereal, Peanuts, Mini M&Ms, Sunflower Kernels, Goldfish, Dried Apples, Bagel Crisps, and Mini Pretzels.

After they went completely around the table, some kids had a full jar, they capped it, shook it, and were good to go. Other kids made another trip around to make a fuller jar. It turned out quite well and I was happy with it!

I am so Blessed!

Five Special Blessings to Me Today: Birthday Parties, Friends that care enough to come help us celebrate our children with us, Love, a Big Family, Children that keep getting older!

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Sweet Tea Concentrate

We drink a lot of tea in this house. Like, a lot! Probably a gallon or more per day. But I am the only one that makes it. (Sigh!) The bad part about sweet tea though, is it takes about 20 minutes to make (at least the way we make it – about 5 minutes for the water to boil, then 15 minutes for the tea to steep.) But it takes the same 20 minutes to make 1 gallon, or 4! I just don’t have the refrigerator room for 4 gallons of tea. (Said refrigerator room is currently being occupied by the 4+ gallons of milk we drink each week!)

So, I got to thinking…..(They do say, necessity is the mother of invention) …Why couldn’t I steep the tea and sugar, remove the tea bags, and then freeze it….When we needed a new gallon of tea, melt, mix with water, drink. Viola!

I went to my local Wal-Mart (this is where I go on vacation!!), and bought 8 (16oz.) freezer jars.

In each freezer jar, I added 3/4 – 1 cup sugar and 3 quart size tea bags (we use Luzianne!)

Then boiled my water, and added water to the top of the jar, let steep for 15 minutes, removed the tea bags, stirred in the sugar, topped off with water, screwed on the cap, and threw (or rather placed them gently) in the freezer!

I was a little concerned if it would reconstitute well, but I am happy to announce, it was perfect!

I see many more sweet tea concentrates in my future, and how great for a party. If you had one in the fridge, you could refill a sweet tea, very quickly.

I am always excited when I try something new, and it works!!

I am Blessed!

Five Special Blessings to Me Today: A hard-working husband!, Having just what we need before we knew we needed it, Soft kleenex tissues, five loving children, my The Old Schoolhouse (homeschooling) Magazine that came in the mail today!


Patty Pan Squash Recipes

While scouring the internet for Patty Pan Squash, I found very little in the realms of recipes. I am not sure whether Patty Pan, or Scallop Squash is a Northern thing or a Southern thing. This is the second year we have grown them, and thus, I have had to learn how to cook them.

Tyler helps pick Patty Pan Squash

Here are my 3 favorite ways.

1. Wash it and slice it, and cut it. Put a pat of butter in a skillet. Add the squash. Add garlic, and seasonings (I use 1 tsp Oregano, Parsley, and Basil). Add any or none of the following, depending on what you have and what you like (Onions, Yellow Squash, Zucchini, Japanese Eggplant, Green Tomatoes). Cook until everything is super tender. (Stirring once in while.) Serve over Brown Rice. Top with Parmesan Cheese. – This is the way we most often have it, because it is a great way to use lots of ‘leftover’ vegetables at once.

2. Patty Pan squash has all its seeds in the center, underneath the stem. Especially if you can get a couple

Even Adreya helps pick Squash

with some size, hollow out that center. Mix together a meatloaf-type mix (Ground beef, egg, bread crumbs), or a Sausage mix – cook this separately.


 Once the meat is cooked, stuff it into the PattyPan, and cook it in the oven set at 350 for about 25 minutes. Eat and enjoy. (Unless your pattypan is very big, and the skin is thick and tough, the skin is okay to eat.)


Choice 3. We haven’t tried this yet, but I am planning on it soon. A customer told me about this one! Take the Pattypan and clam-shell it (cut it across its middle, where the top is still whole and the bottom is still whole, but don’t cut all the way through. Push some butter pats and brown sugar in the opening. Close it. Wrap it tight with aluminum foil and then either:

A)Throw it in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes or so (Note: *Actual ‘throwing’ not recommended)

B) Throw it in a Campfire for about 20 minutes.

Open and enjoy – We will be trying this soon! If you try it before me, leave a comment and let me know if you loved it!

Five Special Blessings to Me Today: Fresh Vegetables, New Recipes, The Farm, My Husband and Father-in-law who work very hard at that Farm, the internet to give me and idea about what I am supposed to do with these strange-looking vegetables they bring home (Pattypans, Japanese Eggplant, Kohlrabi), Sunshine

Have A Blessed Day!

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Owl Cookies

So last weekend we had Wyatt’s Birthday Party, with an owl theme. Here are the cookies I made. I was super excited about them. They were easy and turned out super cute.

So, in case you plan on having an owl party of your own, here are the super simple directions.

What you need: Cinnamon Graham Crackers, Vanilla Caramel Swirl Marshmallows (I bought them at Wal-Mart), Chocolate Chips, Candy Corn

Snap the Graham Crackers in Half. Cut the Marshmallow almost all the way and open them. Put them on the top half of the Graham Cracker. Microwave for 15 seconds.

As soon as you pull it out of the microwave, drop a chocolate chip into the center of each “eye” and push a candy corn nose into place.

Let them cool before you plate them or they will stick together.

I don’t do things like this often, so I was proud and excited with how they turned out, and wanted to share!

Five Special Blessings to Me today: The cooler weather, Cuddly Kids, Marking things off the to-do list, A Warm Husband, God who showers me with Blessings, more than I could ever count.

Have a Fun, Warm, Blessed Day!

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