Tricks for Banishing the WITCHING HOUR

TEH-witchinghourMy eyes glance at the clock. My breathing starts to speed up and my heart starts to race. It gets harder to breathe…..My muscles tighten and then I hear the garage door open. Hyperventilation. Panic.

Don’t get me wrong….I LOVE my kids. LOVE them. I honestly believe…..

“Children are an heritage of the Lord and . . . happy is the man [and woman] that hath [their] quiver full of them” (see Psalm 127: 3-5 ).

And boy do I have a quiver full,….thankfully. And I absolutely agree with Ezra T. Benson, who said,

“Yes, blessed is the husband and wife who have a family of children. The deepest joys and blessings in life are associated with family, parenthood, and sacrifice. To have those sweet spirits come into the home is worth practically any sacrifice.”

Although many would try to convince me to be somewhere else, to get a job and avoid this trying block of time, as a mother and homemaker, I know the importance of this: “First, take time to always be at the crossroads when your children are either coming or going–when they leave and return from school–when they leave and return from dates–when they bring friends home.” (Ezra T. Benson, To the Mothers In Zion, Feb. 1987)

I KNOW this is where I’m supposed to be. But I still inevitably suffer from being at the crossroads, also known as

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Every day about 3:15 p.m., I suffer from extreme anxiety and overwhelm and stress. It lasts until about 8 p.m. EVERY WEEK NIGHT.

The kids come in and they don’t say hi, they say “what can I eat?” And bless their hearts, they all want to talk to me at the same time and tell me about their days, and lists of things they need me to spend $$$$ on, and things they WANT me to spend $$$$ on. And homework, and reading, and dinner, and choir concerts and church youth group meetings, and visiting and home teaching, and on, and on, and on……

Is it a rough time of day for you, too? Rough might be downplaying it, yeah? And while Xanax is lovely when needed, taking it every single night…..not a good thing.

Here’s a few ideas that have been helpful for me, and hopefully will be helpful for you, to get through the Witching Hour….who knows, maybe you’ll avoid it all-together.

TEH-menuPlanMenu Planning: I shop once a month, which is hard sometimes, but that’s what works for us. So it is essential…ESSENTIAL that I have a meal plan. So I sit down once a month and plan out what we will eat. In addition, I have 15 meals (times 6) that I have stuff on hand for all the time (more about that in another post coming soon).

PM Planning: I find it really helps if I look at what is going on the next day, before I go to bed. It helps me carve out my time to prep, so that I can avoid that witching hour.

TEH-AMPrepAM Prep: I like to do as much meal prep as I can in the morning, when things are quiet, and my little XY is doing his online preschool work. Whether it’s getting all the ingredients chopped and measured, and assembled, or putting a meal in the crock pot to be done when dinner rolls around, I find the more I can do in the morning when things are slow, the easier it is on me later in the day.

 

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Bulk Cooking/Bulk Prepping: When I go to the store and come home with a ten pound bag of carrots, but best thing for me to do is chop, slice, (etc) that whole bag, then and there. Not only does that make my day-to-day easier, but I (and the minions) end up eathing alot more veggies if they are prepped and ready to go. In all honesty, this doesn’t always happen, BUT when it does….things go much better.

Prep ahead Veggies, Prepping and freezing in portion sizes, Home Canned Beans, Frozen Cookie Dough Balls, Home Canned Chicken Stock

Homestore: Having a home store means I have the ingredients for at least 15 meals on hand at any given time. I am working on having three months worth of foods we regularly eat on hand so I can provide in times of economic hardship, or some other disaster, or simply just have what I need for a quick meal so I don’t have to run to the store. Some of the meals on my list are: Spaghetti, Hawaiian Haystacks, Homemade Pizza, Burritos, Fried Rice, Southwestern Chicken & Rice Soup, Macaroni & Cheese, and more.

 

IMG_4237Mixes: Having my own “convenience foods” ready to go makes meal time so much easier. Not only can I control the food we eat, but I can do most things cheaper than their grocery store counterparts.

Pancake Mix , Instant Oatmeal Mix, Muffin Mix, (if you’re doing “Breakfast for Dinner”), Pizza Sauce and Seasoning Mix, Cream of Anything Soup Mix, Tortillas, Bouillon

TEH_BCN1Freezer Meals: By bulk cooking and freezing the extra in portion sizes, I can have meals ready to go in the freezer that just require a few minutes in the microwave, or can go from freezer to oven in a snap.

Bean & Cheese Burritos, Homemade Chicken Nuggets, make and freeze Homemade Pizza Dough,

TEH-tomatobasilsoup1Meals with 5 Ingredients or Less:  Something quick and easy, with few ingredients like Tomato Basil Soup which is awesome with grilled cheese sandwiches, helps make dinner quick and easy, and lets us get on with the rest of the evening crazy.

TEH-MIJvarietyMeals In Jars: Taking an hour or so on a slow day to put ingredients together in a jar, makes dinner come together in 20 minutes.

Prepping Meals in JarsSouthwestern Chicken & Rice Soup, Summer Porridge,

TEH_scHamPot_8Crockpot/Pressure Cooker: Slow Cooker Ham & Potatoes, Rosemary Chicken, Turkey Breast, Roasts, Dry beans…..all things that can be cooked in a fraction of the time in a pressure cooker, or cooked on low heat all day in a slow cooker, for spectacular mealtime results.

By using these tricks, I can focus on what’s really important FOR ME as a mother and a homemaker. Being at the crossroads. Because I am a mother who knows how important it is for me to overcome my anxiety and be there for my children. Finding ways to eliminate and avoid stress during the Witching Hour is one way that I try to make peace and preparedness a part of my every day life.

What things do YOU do to avoid the crazy stress of the Witching Hour?

 

Pinterest: My Most Popular Pins

teh_top10PI love Pinterest, don’t you? I know some people get intimidated by the sheer volume of info on Pinterest and the whole idea that one must “keep up with the Mrs. Joneses” of the world. Fortunately, I don’t fall into either category, so Pinterest and I have a close relationship. So close, in fact, that Pinterest sent me an email recently telling me viewers favorite Pins from my website. It was kinda fun to see them all, so I thought I’d share them with you, in case you missed them the first time around. I’d love for you to take a look and if you feel so moved, hover over the images in the original posts and click to pin. Here they are, my top 10, listed in popularity from 10 to 1….

TEH-pizzafeat10. Homemade Pizza: amazing homemade crust, easy and flavorful sauce, and topping ideas give you everything you need to know to kick the delivery habit and make your own flavorful, delicious and healthy pizza at home in about an hour…

 

file00018774182909. Water Storage: One of the quickest, cheapest, easiest and MOST IMPORTANT things you NEED to do NOW for your prepping…

 

TEH_tortillas12 8. Homemade Tortilla Mix: Have you ever had homemade tortillas??? Fast, easy, and SO YUMMY! You’ll never want to buy them again….

 

TEH_chcopbcrba7. Choco-Coco PB Crunch Bars: Sweet enough to be a treat, but full of good for you stuff like oats, coconut oil, natural peanut butter, these are a fast and easy bar to satisfy your hungry beasts….

 

TEH_quinoafeat6. Thrive Quinoa Energy Salad: Super healthy and packed full of good for you quinoa and veggies, this is a guaranteed energy booster…

 

 

TEH-100Bread 5. Best Ever 100% Whole Wheat Bread: Everybody LOVES homemade bread, right? Just the smell of it is pure heaven! But I’m sure, if you’ve ever baked bread that you’ve found it loses it’s appeal after a day….well, NO MORE! The recipe will give you soft fluffy bread that keeps its lovely texture for several days….you’re gonna love it!…

 

TEH-DisinfectingWipes-ingredients4. Homemade Disinfectant Cleaning Wipes (reusable): Whether you’re looking to reduce your carbon footprint or desire a departure from harsh and toxic chemical lists an arm long, this is a great “recipe” for reusable cleaning wipes to use around your home…

 

TEH_burritos93. Make Ahead Bean & Cheese Burritos: Sometimes in the effort to move away from prepackaged, processed foods, we suffer in the convenience department. With just a pinch of planning and forethought, you can have the convenience of frozen burritos at your fingertips. Your family,  your schedule, your sanity will thank you…

 

TEH_bouillon 2. Veggie, Chicken or Beef Bouillon Mix: We all love the convenience of bouillon, but many, I’m sure, bemoan the plethera of chemical compounds in commercial bouillon cubes/powder. First and foremost on the list of shame at our house is MSG. My son is allergic, so I came up with this quick and easy and MEGA-flavorful mix that includes HEALTHY on it’s list of accomplishments…

 

TEH_creamofsoup3 1. Cream of Soup Mix: Forgive the BLAH pic from one of my earliest posts. This soup mix is anything BUT blah….full of flavor and just as quick and easy as opening a can, but OH SO MUCH better for you. You can customize this Cream of Soup mix in any of a 1,000 ways and never have to run to the store again for a can of condensed soup…

 

Thanks for taking a stroll through memory lane with me….it was fun to see what the most popular pins on my website have been since January 2013 when I started my little blog. I’d love to know YOUR favorite post on my blog, or which post you’ve pinned to Pinterest. I’d also love to know your favorite posts from out there in digiworld that help YOU make Peace and Preparedness a part of Every Day Life so I can go take a gander, so leave me a comment! I always read them!

 

Recipe: Homemade Pizza…Toppings, Toppings Galore

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photosource: morguefile

We’ve got you squared away with an amazing crust, and a delicious sauce…now you just need to know what to top your pizza with! Certainly you can go to the store and buy all the produce and meats and cheeses to do all of the things I’ll suggest, but consider how great life would be if you didn’t have to. Did have to get coats and shoes on the kids and load them into the car to make a run to the store. Didn’t have to wash and peel and chop and shred. Didn’t have to cook and sanitize. That’s a good life. And it’s all possible using your HomeStore ingredients.

Truly, the possibilities here are really endless. Have purists at your table? Then you need CHEESE! I like to do a blend of different cheeses when I make pizza at my house. Especially if I have any little bits and pieces of parmesan, or cheddar hanging around. What about if you don’t have cheese and don’t want to run to the store???

Here is where the HomeStore concept really comes in handy. Right now in my HomeStore, I have Thrive Mozzarella, Cheddar, Colby, and Monterey Jack cheese. These freeze dried cheeses WILL melt if prepared properly! I’ve found that the trick is to VERY slowly trickle water into your bowl of freeze dried cheese, WHILE STIRRING. STOP once the water begins to collect on the bottom of your bowl. Then, I transfer to a zip top bag and lightly flatten it, and put into the fridge for a couple of hours. I took some of this cheese, prepared as detailed above, to a Pampered Chef party to use on one of their yummy dishes, and it melted like a dream and NOBODY could tell the difference! So yeah, it’s amazing.

If you have traditionalists, there’s pepperoni, which freezes great so you can stock up when there’s a good sale and freeze it. Or how about Thrive Sausage Crumbles… a guaranteed win. No cooking or draining. No nitrates. This is one of my favorite products…use it several times a week…a tablespoon here, a 1/4 cup there. Extremely versatile and easy to use. Simply add enough water to ALMOST cover your amount of crumbles, give it a stir and let sit for a bit (5-10 minutes usually, while I prepare other things) and it’s ready to go. The trick with freeze dried foods, I’ve found is that you don’t want to drown them.

pineapple pizzaTEHLike Hawaiian? Thrive Ham Dices and Pineapple Chunks to the rescue. Like mushrooms on your Hawaiian? We’ve got that, too. Or canned olives that you store in your HomeStore. Or Green Onions?

What about those of us who like everything but the kitchen sink on our pizza? There is Spinach, Chopped Onions, Green Onions, Tomato Dices, Green Bell Peppers, and Red Bell Peppers.

Or you can get all fancy and do a:

alfredoTEHChicken Alfredo Pizza with Seasoned Chicken Slices, alfredo made from Bechamel Sauce Mix, Green Onions, Tomato Dices…you could even use some Bacon TVP if you wanted!
Mexican Pizza with Ground Beef, seasoned with Taco Seasoning, Green Onions, Tomatoes, Olives, Instant Pinto Beans (cooked and mashed) OR Instant Black Beans, Green Chili Peppers
Meat Lovers pizza with Sausage Crumbles, Pepperoni, Ham Dices, Ground Beef
cheesesteakTEHPhilly Cheesesteak Pizza with Beef Dices, Mushrooms, Green Peppers, Onions, Ranch Dressing and a combination of cheeses.
and just about anything else your imagination can come up with!

Hopefully I have shared some ideas that will help you make good use of your HomeStore. It’s really empowering to have everything you need at your fingertips, because of planning and intention.

What’s YOUR favorite pizza topping? Is it something you can store in your HomeStore and have to use at a moment’s notice??

 

Recipe: Homemade Stuffed Crust Pizza

Wanna Save $$$ and Be on Santa’s Nice List???

Well, at least on your FAMILY’s nice list.

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This great pizza recipe will keep you from going out when the weather outside is frightful, and it tastes…well,  utterly delightful.
Even better, you’ll know every single thing that goes into it, and will be happy to provide your family with good food without all the scary words, additives, and fake colors.
And as if that wasn’t enough, this is something  you can make 100% from your HomeStore….oh yeah.

Over the next three posts, I’ll share my tips for making a top notch homemade pizza, right there in your home, in less than an hour. So in case you didn’t realize just how cool this is….you can have homemade pizza on the table in less time than it usually takes to do delivery or take out. You can thank me later.

The first part of a great pizza is the crust. This crust is so versatile and delicious that you can do almost anything with it!
This recipe will make 4 medium pizzas, 3 large pizzas, or what we sometimes do is make two large pizzas, and save some dough in the fridge for cinnamon sticks or individual pizzas for lunch the next day. See, versatile already.

Let’s get cookin’!

When making your stuffed crust pizza, shape each piece onto an oil covered cookie tray or pizza pan. If making a stuffed crust, push the crust up the sides of the pan. If not, you can just push to the edge.

 

TEH-pizza2 Put cheese sticks, either purchased, or cut, around the edges of the pan and fold the crust over the top, pinching/pressing to seal. OPTIONAL: at this point you CAN let the dough rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. I never do.

 

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Get some butter and melt it, add some garlic salt, and maybe some italian seasoning to taste…you can just go crazy here….or not.

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Brush crust, especially edges, with butter seasoned to taste with garlic salt.

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Bake in a 450ºF oven for 7-8 minutes. Pull out of oven and top with sauce and favorite toppings. The pan is hot so be careful not to burn yourself. Brush the edges again with the butter/garlic salt mixture and return to oven until cheese is melted and the crust is golden brown, about 7-8 more minutes.

Folks, it really is that easy. And all this time, BIG PIZZA had you thinking that you had to get good pizza from THEM. Here’s the recipe and printable recipe card for the Stuffed Crust Homemade Pizza.

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Makes 4 medium pizzas
printable recipe card

Ingredients:

10-12 cups unbleached all purpose flour
3/4 cup non-fat dry milk powder
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
3 scant tablespoons instant dry yeast
4 cups warm water
1/3 cup oil

Directions:

1. Put 7 cups flour, milk powder, salt, sugar, and dry yeast in a mixing bowl. Add water and mix one minute.
2. Let stand about 2 minutes. Add oil and remaning flour, until mixture pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
3. Knead 5-10 minutes (5 in a kitchenaid type mixer, 10 by hand). Divide into four pieces. (If you don’t want to make 4 pizzas, you can make breadsticks/cinnamon sticks, you can cook up the extra dough on your pizza pan and then freeze, or you can freeze the uncooked dough.)
4. Shape each piece onto an oil covered cookie tray or pizza pan. If making a stuffed crust, push the crust up the sides of the pan. If not, you can just push to the edge.
5. Put cheese sticks, either purchased, or cut, around the edges of the pan and fold the crust over the top, pinching/pressing to seal. OPTIONAL: at this point you CAN let the dough rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
6. Brush crust, especially edges, with butter seasoned to taste with garlic salt.
7. Bake in a 450ºF oven for 7-8 minutes.
8. Pull out of oven and top with sauce and favorite toppings. The pan is hot so be careful not to burn yourself. Brush the edges again with the butter/garlic salt mixture and return to oven until cheese is melted and the crust is golden brown, about 7-8 more minutes.
*The possibilities with this really are endless. You can mix in 1 tablespoon of Italian Seasoning into the dough, in step one, or you can mix in 1 teaspoon garlic powder.

 

In my next post, I’ll be posting the yummy sauce that we use on our pizza!
Have YOU tried making pizza? What are your favorite things to put on it?