Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Quick Tip Tuesday: Washer Wipe Down

I don't know how, but in my weekly cleaning I always seem to miss getting the washer and dryer wiped off. I have figured out a way to remember to do it now though. I keep my dust rags on a rack above the washer and dryer along with the laundry soap, gallon of vinegar, stain remover, etc. So now whenever I have a load of towels that needs washing, I pull out a dust rag and get it wet in the water flowing into the washer and use it to wipe down my washer and dryer. Then all I have to do it toss it into the wash along with all the other dirty towels. Quick and simple and I know that the washer is getting wiped down about once a week!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Weekly Meal Plan

Good morning! I am sitting here enjoying a smoothie with my sweet little girly. Mango, strawberry, banana and spinach! Yum! We've had a nice weekend here.We didn't end up going camping as it was just too hot and wet. We are planning to go home next weekend for the 4th though and we might camp out then. So instead we had a nice weekend at home. Saturday we spent relaxing around the house Just enjoying each others company and playing with our ever growing little blessing. Sunday was our 4 year wedding anniversary. My goodness, has it really been 4 years? We went out to eat at our favorite Chinese restaurant for dinner and thoroughly enjoyed a big storm that rushed by outside the large windows next to our table. Chopsticks and lightening. Great combination! All in all, it was a lovely celebration of our time together thus far.

This weeks CSA bag has quite a few new items in it. It contained
  • lettuce mix
  • Chives
  • parsley
  • a small bell pepper
  • and two other small peppers (hot ones)

The day we got it I made breakfast for lunch and we had scrambled eggs with the bell pepper, a pinch of the finely diced hot peppers (Zach isn't much for hot things so they gave flavor but not heat,) chives and parsley, sliced peaches and chocolate chip muffins. It made for a nice lunch! So here are our meal plans for this week...

Saturday dinner: Cabbage casserole- we were supposed to have this last week but the night I had planned to fix it, the power went out. So I moved it to this week!

Sunday lunch: Salads

Sunday dinner: our anniversary, out for Chinese

Monday lunch: Tacos-flour tortillas, lettuce, cheese, tomato, sour cream, taco meat

Monday dinner: Freezer meal- Chicken Tetrazinni, salad, fresh bread and parsley potatoes

Tuesday lunch: Sloppy Joe's (using the new high fructose corn syrup free ketchup we got this week,) browned potatoes, and Cole slaw

Tuesday dinner: Meat loaf, chive carrots, and mashed potatoes

Wednesday lunch through Friday dinner: leftovers for me!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Frugal TIp Friday: Grill Extra Meat

If you are planning to grill out one day (we did this on Sunday for Father's Day), plan to grill extra meat. Don't just heat up the grill to fix a couple burgers, make your meats for the next few days worth of meals as well. This past Sunday we fixed:
  • 3 chicken breasts
  • a whole package of hot dogs
  • 4 turkey burgers
  • 2 steaks (this was Zach's Father's Day "gift." I got him grass fed top sirloin steak from the farmer's market)

We also grilled some peppers and onions to go with it. We had meat for Sunday dinner, Monday lunch and dinner and some more leftovers for throughout the week. I will freeze the extra hot dogs for Zach as a quick meal for him in the future.

This is frugal in that you are getting the most use out of your hot grill/charcoal. Not just using them for one meal but for many. Any who doesn't love the taste of grilled food?

You can also sneak out after dinner with some marshmallows. :o)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Thankful Thursday: Week #20

~ Iced mint tea

~ NBC Nightly News

~ Babies who are growing fast! (This one is very hard to be thankful for sometimes!)

~ Soft baby hair

~ teething tablets (all natural ones)

~ naps, no matter how short

~ take out pizza, because sometimes, I just don't feel like cooking!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Picture Perfect Wednesday

Pictue of "God's thumb nail" at sunset one evening.
Our "flower" garden filled with tomato plants along the front of our house. :o) They are looking good!

Our container garden along the side of our house. From left to right are bell peppers, cucumbers, bell peppers, zucchini, bell peppers, and yellow summer squash. Can you tell we like peppers?

Our first blooms on the pepper plants. If you look below the blooms to where the plant splits, you can see our first baby pepper starting.

The first blooms on the cucumber plant. We also have a couple on the squash.

This 0ne is super exciting! Our first cherry tomatoes! Yum! I will be ready to eat these guys right off the plant when they are ripe!

"L" getting her hands dirty in the garden.

There appears to be some sort of critter in my squash! :o)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Quick Tip Tuesday: Chicken for salad

When ever I grill or pan cook whole chicken breasts, I always try to make at least one extra while I am at it. Then I cut it up into chunks or strips and freeze it in snack sized zip top baggies (usually half a chicken breast per baggie.) Then when I want chicken on a salad for lunch or a quick dinner, all I need do is pull out the chicken, rewarm it and I have a yummy topping for my salad. Super easy with out much extra effort!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Weekly Meal Plan

Hello! I hope this post finds you well and happy this fine, over cast, stormy Monday. :o)

This week our CSA box contained:
  • A small cabbage
  • A bundle of green onions
  • A bag of swiss chard (this is a totally new one for me!)
  • A couple handfuls of green beans

Sorry, I didn't get a picture taken before we ate some of it! :o)

Meal plans for this week:

Monday lunch: Leftover grilled meat from Sunday, green bean and radish salad, and left over coleslaw from Sunday

Monday dinner: Chicken breasts, potato and swiss chard curry (wish me luck! We have never even eaten swiss chard!) and pan yeast bread (recipe to come probably Saturday)

Tuesday lunch: Chicken chunks, green onion mashed potatoes, and green onion corn (our breath will probably be lovely after this meal!)

Tuesday dinner: Cabbage roll casserole (new recipe that I am a little iffy about as Zach doesn't like cabbage any way but coleslaw and sour kraut but we can hope!)

Wednesday lunch-Friday dinner: Leftovers for me!

We are planning to go camping next weekend so we will be eating "camp-y" foods. More than likely hot dogs and the like and who knows what else. I am one of those odd people who really likes camp cooking. This will be the first time camping out with "L" so we shall see how she does. I am still trying to decide weather to brave cloth diapering while camping or not. Anyone done this before?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thankful Thursday: Week #19

~ A full parking lot at the library on a Monday afternoon
~ Time of fellowship with other home birthing families
~ the first blooms on our tomato plants
~ That my poor babies Fifth's diease rash is going away
~ Spray bottles of all sizes
~ Mid day thunderstorms
~ Meeting new, like-minded friends!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Quick Tip Tuesday: Now, where are my keys?

How many times have you had everything ready to go, kids loaded in the car, grocery list in hand only to realize that you have no idea where your keys or cell phone are?

My quick tip for today is to find a place for them! Some where you know to put them as soon as you get home and stick to it! I have a certain pocket in my purse just for my keys. When ever I get home, even if my arms are full of groceries and a baby, I know to at least throw my keys on my purse and then tuck them in that pocket later when I have time, or put them there in the first place. My husband hangs his on a hook when he comes in, then they are handy for when he walks out the door each day.

My cell phone can usually be found in the living room as we don't have a house phone. Where in the living room changes through out the day. Some times it is on top of the entertainment center, sometimes on the arm of the couch, sometimes on the end table, some times in the couch and sometimes on the floor (this happens when a certain baby gets a hold of it and it is usually then covered in slobber.) :o)

Maybe your place could be in your purse, on a table in the entry way of your home, on a hook in side the door, on your night stand even. Wherever is easiest for you to remember to put it as soon as you walk in the door!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Book Review: Pushed!

I have decided that for the rest of this year, I am only going to read "self-help" and educational type books. I am looking forward to this and have already made a good start!
Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care by Jennifer Block has been on my list of books that I have wanted to read for a long time now! Now that I have read it, I want to own it!
Much like The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth, it tells the truth (with loads of statics, facts, surveys, studies and quotes from many people) about where modern maternity care is today and where it is going; and it isn't pretty! Too many women are choosing to just fall blindly into what their doctors and even midwives are telling them is "necessary" and "safe" for them and their babies when in actuality the studies show over and over what the real truth is.
I am not going to give you too much information, because I would love for you to go out and read this for yourself. But I will tell you that what is happening in our labor and delivery rooms is not right! In any way! Nor is it safe. Be informed about your body and your rights!
Other books I've been reading:
So You're Thinking About Homeschooling: This book turned out to be really informative! The author and you go to different homeschoolers homes and "interview" them on how they choose to home school. Everything from single parents, grandparents, a family living in an RV traveling across the country, to the "average" homeschooling family. It also takes a look at the different homeschooling options and curriculum's. All in all, a very good and easy read!
Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child: This book has been a "life saver" more than once since "L" was born! It is a great source to have on hands for every thing from chicken pox to choking. This week she came down with a fever and now has a rash. We discovered it is Roseola and boy is she itchy! Poor thing. Anyway, the book gives a run down of what each illness or symptom is, what the traditional, herbal, homeopathic, and acupressure treatments are for it. Lots of great information and easy to read and use!
Our Daily Bread: Ok, so this isn't a book, but it is informative! This video is actually just a series of videos of where our food, in the modern times, is grown, processed, packaged, slaughtered (yes, sometimes quite gross), and the people behind our food. This video was quite interesting and also quite disturbing at times. Much like Food, Inc. in the content, but the whole film had no speaking. Just images. It was really quite good!

CSA bag and Weekly Meal Plan

Here is a look at this weeks CSA score. Once again, it is small but our farmer said next week it will start getting bigger and bigger. We might even have some bell peppers. Yum! This weeks bag contained...

  • A LARGE bag of salad mix

  • A small bag of spinach

  • A couple hand fulls of snow peas

In the picture is also my weekly quart of raw goats milk. Yum!

And here is our meal plan for this week...

Saturday late lunch/early dinner: sweet potato burritos

Saturday dinner: Zach's week to work over time on Saturday so I had left overs

Sunday lunch and dinner: We are attending our first Home4Birth picnic at one of our midwives homes. We are SO excited to meet lots of other home birthing families and to see our lovely midwives again. We haven't seen them since "L" was born about 9 months ago. I am planning to bring these lovely Pumpkin Dinner Rolls from Tammy's Recipes (thank you Tammy for this yummy recipe!) I still have a good bit of pumpkin puree in the deep freezer from last fall that will be wonderful for these!

Monday lunch: Sweet potato burritos

Monday dinner: Stir fry- chicken, peppers, CSA snow peas, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, onion, garlic and soy sauce on top of brown rice

Tuesday lunch: Sloppy Joe's, oven fries, and peas

Tuesday dinner: Chicken breasts (maybe chunks), mac and cheese, Lima beans and salad

Wednesday lunch - Friday dinner is leftovers as usual!

Saturday lunch: Leftovers?

Saturday dinner: Freezer meal, salad and garlic bread

Sunday lunch: Salad, hard boiled eggs, extra chicken from Tuesday

Sunday dinner: Father's Day! Grill out, deviled eggs, grilled peppers and onions

Friday, June 11, 2010

Frugal Tip Friday: Coupons

I have found that most often, buying generic/store brand items is less than buying the name brand version with a coupon. I still check every time though because there is a rare case that proves me wrong. However, if you are going to buy something name brand anyway, look for a coupon for the item or stock up when you do find coupons or good deals on it. There are a few items that I have not found a suitable substitute for the name brand in the store brand options. One is my body soap. I have sensitive skin and have only found one soap that doesn't dry me out or irritate my skin. So I watch for when that brand goes on sale and keep an eye out for coupons for it. That way when I do have to buy name brand, I know I am at least getting a better deal on it. Fifty cents here and there can add up to quite a lot in the long run!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thankful Thursday: Week #18

~ State parks

~ Nice doctors who don't push too much, even when they don't particularly agree with one (or more) of your parenting choices.

~ Scrap paper

~ Nature's beautiful bounty

~ The daisies and day lilies starting to bloom. Summer's almost here!

~ Tongue depressors that entertain a fussy baby while the doctor looks them over

~ Good books!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Picture Perfect Wednesday

We have been doing really good about making smoothies for breakfast about 5 mornings a week. This one contained pineapple, frozen fruit mix (peaches, strawberries, grapes and melon), yogurt, pineapple juice, and a big handful of spinach. This gets us all our fruit servings, one dairy serving and one vegetable/all our dark green leafys for one day. And they are soo tasty!
We went on a LONG walk at Fort Harrison State Park in Indianapolis on Sunday after church and it was lovely! "L" rode in her new hiking sling and we got lots of good snap shots of her. And also some great nature shots! Here is a lovely water lily in bloom.

One of the trails we took. This one had lots of pretty daisies and some tiny raspberries starting to come on.

The water lilies in Duck Pond.

The water lilies again. Zach and I agree that they are just a neat little plant!

Some pretty reddish pink flowers.
All in all it was a lovely trip! We also visited the Museum of 20th Century Warfare. Not really our "cup of tea" but neat and informative none the less.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Quick Tip Tuesday: Marinade Help

Next time you are making a marinade in a zip top bag, use this simple tip!

I was always having trouble with the liquids wanting to run out of the bag as I was adding the other ingredients because my baggie would fall over. Then I came up with an idea and have used it ever since. Take your gallon sized zip top bag and place it inside a gallon tea pitcher, then fold the edge of the baggie over the edge of the pitcher and fill. The pitcher will hold your baggie in place and not let the liquids run out. You can even add your gently meats and it will still hold strong. Then simply pull it off from around the rim and zip shut!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Weekly Meal Plan: June 7th-11th

We got our first CSA box this week so I got to try out my new meal planning. I think it went well and we get to try lots of new recipes with our yummy food!

Monday lunch: leftovers from Sunday ("L" had her 9 month baby wellness check up today and is doing great!)

Monday dinner: Chicken Soulvaki (new recipe using some of the oregano from our CSA box), potatoes with cilantro (new recipe using the cilantro from our CSA box) and the salad mix (from the CSA box.)

Tuesday lunch: Pasta arugula (new recipe using the arugula from the CSA box)

Tuesday dinner: Roasted Greek chicken (new recipe-also on the oregano site) and green bean and radish salad (new recipe)

Wednesday lunch: bean burritos (making extra for in the freezer), fresh salsa (using the green onions from the CSA box), and blue corn chips (a new favorite in the house.)

Wednesday dinner through Friday dinner is leftovers as usual.

CSA: Community Supported Agriculture

We got our first box of fruits and vegetables from our CSA membership on Saturday and I thought I'd give you a peek. Lovely is it not? Everything looks so fresh and green smells wonderful!

So, what is a CSA?

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture (also called a CO-OP). At the beginning of the summer (the first of May was the cut off for ours) you sign up and buy a "share" (or in our case half a share) of what a local farm produces. We paid a set amount (ours is about $13 a week) and we will receive 8-12 pounds of fresh, organic, local produce each week for approximately 20 weeks. And by fresh, I mean FRESH! As in most of the items in our box were picked the morning of delivery. They can range in size from a few members to a few hundred. Ours has 54 members/families this year.

This is what our first box included:

  • about a half a quart of fresh strawberries

  • a bundle of radishes

  • a bundle of green onions

  • a nice sized bag of salad mix (this is a weekly item)

  • 3 containers (like you would buy herbs in at the grocery store) of fresh Arugula, oregano and cilantro

The first few weeks boxes won't contain much but as the season progresses, the will get more and more fruitful!

In some ways I am a little nervous about the contents of these boxes as we will be introduced to some vegetables we have never tried before and I will have to get creative in the kitchen, trying new recipes and new ways of cooking these new foods. But at the time time, I am excited at this prospect as well. We have the opportunity to expand our culinary palate and push our "boundaries" a little when it comes to what we "think" we like and don't like. It also means I will have to get creative with the meal plans I make each week. From now on, I will get the CSA box on Saturday, search out recipes for the new and interesting items on Saturday, plan the next weeks menu on Saturday and Sunday and then grocery shop on Sunday or Monday. Phew! I am soo looking forward to this!

So, what some more information on CSA's?

Here is a link to a more detailed description of what a CSA is. Make sure too use the "Find CSA Farms" search to the right to see if there is a CSA near you to possibly look into.

Most CSA's are now closed to new members for the year, but maybe seeing mine this year will get you in the frame of mind to look into one for your family next year. They are a great way to help support your local farmers and a wonderful source of fresh, healthy, and sometimes organic foods!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Shepherd's Pie

I have always been a fan of this lovely, simple, old-timey meal. Meat, potatoes, vegetables and cheese all in one pan. How can you beat that? Way back when, Mothers used to make this out of the bits of meat and veggies they had left over and covered it with the cold mashed potatoes from last night. Now, in better times, it is just a tasty comfort food that sticks to the ribs. Enjoy!


1 pound ground beef or turkey

2 cups hot mashed potatoes

4 ounces cream cheese

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 cups frozen mixed veggies, thawed

1 cup gravy

1. Preheat your oven to 370` F. Brown the meat in a large skillet. (While doing this, cook and mash your potatoes.) Drain.

2. Mix potatoes, cream cheese, 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese, and the garlic until well blended.

3. Stir vegetables and gravy into the meat.

4. Spoon the meat mixture into a 9x9 inch square baking dish.

5. Cover with the potato mixture. Don't worry about it being perfectly even; the more imperfect it looks, the better.

6. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup shredded cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until it is heated through.

Makes 4-6 servings.

Notes: I choose to scoop the meat out of the pan, leaving the drippings. Then I made a simple gravy (about 3 tbsp. flour, 1 cup of milk, and the fat drippings.) This worked out just perfect for me and saved me from either dirtying up another pan or buying super salty jarred gravy. Also, make sure your veggies are completely thawed! Mine were not and so I ended up having to bake it for another 10 minutes. This did not harm it in any way, it just took longer to bake than I expected. You can also use instant mashed potatoes for the topping and it works out well. Just omit the milk from the package directions, that way when you mix in the cream cheese they stay fluffy.

All in all, we really enjoyed this! Zach took leftovers to work the next day and lots of his co-workers said it smelled and looked yummy and one of them said he remembered his grandmother making it for him.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Frugal Tip Friday: Dish rinse water re-use

I have given up on the dishwasher! I have banned it's use in my house. It is more eco-friendly and frugal to use the dishwasher because it uses less water than hand washing, but the darn thing just doesn't work! I have tried everything I can think of and nothing is working, so, I give up! I will just hand wash from now on. And that is fine with me. But what to do with all that "wasted" water?

Well, my solution is to save my rinse water and reuse it. I wash my dishes in the sink but then use a dish pan to rinse them in. I then reuse that rinse water to water my outdoor plants. After I have done the dishes, I allow the water to cool to room temperature. Then that evening, I water my garden with it. It doesn't get all the plants but it gets about half of ours. The little bits of food in the water act at compost/fertilizer and the small amount of dish soap acts as a pest detergent. So not only is it frugal and eco-friendly but reusing something that you would otherwise have just run down the drain, but it is also beneficial to your plants!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Thankful Thursday: Week #17

~ Free things on the curb. (Item in mention is a working, in nearly perfect condition, gliding footstool for my glider rocker.)

~ All the military men and women who have so bravely given their service and sometimes their lives for our country.

~ The families of those men and women who serve for their sacrifice.

~ The American flag, a symbol of all the lives given and all the battles fought for our freedom.

~ Cool showers after hot days.

~ The La Leche League

~ Kitchen timers

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Quick Tip Tuesday: Greasy Laundry Booster

My husband's work clothes are always quite nasty. He is a screen printer and his clothes are usually covered with ink, tack, glue, sweat and grease. Eww. There isn't much I can do about the ink. It is permanent and that is fine, they are just work clothes. The tack and glue just take some good, hot water. The sweat and grease, well, that is where the "booster" comes in.

My booster... liquid dish soap.

When you do a load of greasy clothes (work clothes, rags, kitchen towels/rags, sheets-for those of us with oily hair, etc.), wash in warm water, use your normal amount of laundry soap, and then add a good squirt of liquid dish soap. Not too much! About 1 to 2 tablespoons should do it. If you add too much, you risk creating too many bubbles for your washer to handle. No one wants a big mess of bubbles to clean up, although it would be quite fun for a while!

The grease fighters in the dish soap cut the grease in your clothes just as well! It is inexpensive as well. Can't beat that!