Monday, December 31
2. Crazy. In the past 2 1/2 weeks, we have had much happy craziness. Family visits in CO & OH have kept us running. We're home for the long haul, we've been to the grocery store to replenish our fridge, and hopefully we're not going crazy any more. Michael returns to work on the 2nd, Nate & Lissa are visiting through the end of the week, and after that I am sure our life will be back to the "boring" craziness we call normal.
3. Hazy. We're fighting some crazy upper respiratory bug, and hard. Aaron's coughing and hacking, Michael's down for the count, and I'm emerging, victorious. I hope. That was round 2 for me.
I feel as if I've been absent from the blogging world for years. So much to catch up on, so many "what I made for Christmas" posts to write...
Until then, happy last day of 2007! Wasn't it a great year? God is so gracious. Any family traditions for reflecting on His Works that you'd like to share?
Wednesday, December 26
We got to Springs in plenty of time for the great Pack-n-Play drop off (thank you, Newlands) and with about 3 hours to check in, clear security and wait with bated breath for our connection to Chicago, where we would catch yet another connection to MBS, a mere 20 minutes from home. I was fairly confident that these flights were still scheduled, as I had signed up for the "Flight Change Alert" call system.
We got to the airport check in, only to find that our second connection had been cancelled, and that no flights would be leaving Chicago until Wednesday to get to MBS. Huh, interesting. We had just dropped off our rental car, having been confident of our departure. The agent scheduled us instead to fly to Denver, then Chicago, then to Grand Rapids, a 2 1/2 hour drive from home. We would arrive at 8 something. OK, well, a phone call to mom & dad confirmed that they could pick us up.
One 34-minute trip to Denver later found our flight to Chicago delayed - first 3 hours, then 6 hours, then 7 plus hours. To complicate matters, Chicago seems to be somewhat of a hub *grin* so this was affecting a LOT of travelers. The airline was down to one customer service center, with a queue about a mile long. It really probably was, considering the bendy configuration. We found a sympathetic agent who switched us to a different airline and printed off some official looking documents (which really only means too many codes for me to make sense of them) and sent us on our way, which at this point meant Denver direct to Detroit, another 2 1/2 hour drive from home.
To make an already long-enough story short, the sympathetic agent apparently did the switcheroo wrong, and we ended up running (ok, walking briskly) between concourses for a solid 2 hours trying to find a way to get out of Denver and back home. Michael commented that he didn't remember signing up for the Amazing Race.
Thankfully, we arrived in Detroit with few issues. When we boarded that plane, I was so relieved to be heading closer to home. Aaron was a fabulous traveler, napping in the carrier during our airport escapades (thank you, Michael) and for a short while on the plane. Thankfully, dad made the trip to come get us.
Our luggage has yet to arrive. I think it went to Grand Rapids without us. Since we switched airlines, there is really no telling if it will arrive before the weekend. Or all together. Or at all. The (no doubt) overworked agent who reported our baggage delayed neglected to enter one of the tracking numbers. Fabulous.
A very unexpected bonus - upon our arrival to Detroit, we had no car seat. We were expecting a loaner, similar to the situation in Colorado Springs - we returned their car seat when our bags and seat arrived. In Detroit, apparently, they "can't" take them back. Or don't, but regardless. We got a brand new Evenflo convertible car seat, very similar to the one pictured above. Now we have to decide what to do with it. I have a few ideas...
I keep having to learn these lessons about my own expectations and the plan that God has for us. I keep having to learn that despite the situations that seem stinky to me, God has not forgotten, and He is carefully placing each new event in my life. He might be doing that to see how I respond, He might be doing it to stretch me, but I don't really need to know why. I just need to remember that God has it all under His control. Whether it be a death in the family, a nasty case of a mystery virus, or lost luggage and a longer trip - His control does not waver. He is good, all the time.
And when I can, by His grace, remember this - all is well! I do not worry, fret, and wring my hands! I can focus instead on the post-travel clutter, the stack of accumulated mail, and the installation of our new (FREE) Superman-logo-embellished keyboard and optical mouse. And maybe, just maybe, my house will be spic and span and ready when our luggage arrives.
Thursday, December 20
Also, today is our 4th wedding anniversary! Happy Anniversary to the world's most perfect man for me! It's flown by and I have loved every minute! God is GOOD!
Be sure to check back after Christmas for some "what I made for Christmas" posts. I've been taking photos of my homemade gifts and I'm so excited to share them with you!
Tuesday, December 18
We are so thankful.
Of course, we cheated. Big Time. Can you say "Baby Einstein DVD" - and lots of snacks. And prayer, which is NOT cheating.
Aaron has had a harder time getting used to the new time zone. Today, we have victory. A full night's sleep and two glorious naps. Our happy boy is back. And we are grateful.
So - what are your thoughts on electronic distractions? Some of me likes it, some of me doesn't. I would love to hear what you think!
Saturday, December 15
Friday, December 14
Please pray for us as Aaron is traveling for the first time on an airplane. We leave at 6:45 pm and as that is very close to his bedtime, it could either work for us very well (ie, he sleeps) or backfire on us (ie, he screams) Please pray that we would handle the situation with grace.
and that we wouldn't get kicked off the plane for having a screamer.
Merry Christmas to you all!!
Thursday, December 13
When you recall toys, you can send them back. When you recall a vac*ine? Not so simple. "Hello, we are here to retrieve the bacteria that inadvertently was injected into your child. This will just take a minute."
"This is not a major health concern" the manufacturers say, and in the same breath that they also say "there is no way to tell how many children received a dose."
Some people have other soapboxes. This is mine. No matter how you feel about vac*ines, just please, please make sure you do your research so that your children can have medical treatment and prevention of disease in the safest possible way. And in the way God leads you. But please, PLEASE do your research first.
Wednesday, December 12
No genre is excluded from this general rule - the style of music usually has no bearing on whether or not the 3-song rule applies. The style of music DOES affect whether or not the CD's actually make it into the player to qualify for the 3-song rule. *grin*
When I got this Michael W Smith CD (It's A Wonderful Christmas) in the mail to review, my first inclination was to listen, review, and chuck and/or find a friend whose tastes differ slightly from my own. Actually, I was thinking "more than" slightly. Usually when I hear MWS's name, all I can think of is "Friends are Friends Forever" which I do NOT like. And I think it's more than just the lyrics. But we'll leave it at that. *wink*
So, despite the taste in my...ears? I decided to do my best to keep an open mind, try to forget the name on the album, and just listen.
I was pleasantly surprised. Actually, when the CD started, I had to open up the multi-disk player to make sure I had the correct album - the orchestration that began track #1 was a surprise. About a minute into it, the solo vocals began. Mr. Smith also used several choirs in this song, and throughout the album, including a boys choir - and that really made parts of this album sparkle. I loved the choirs.
Track #2 was entirely instrumental, and had some very nice moments - glimmers of traditional Christmas themes - I liked track #2.
"The Promise" is the title of track 3, and for me seemed to have a little Feature Films for Families flavor. I loved the use of the choirs. I love choirs at Christmas. Some may say the pure, full tones of the choir made a nice contrast to Mr. Smith's voice, which is not so rounded. I don't happen to have this opinion. This song was so-so for me.
#4, "Song for the King", starts with "Once in Royal David's City" on strings. I love strings. Added brass, and then about a minute into it, a piano and violin in a relaxing and simple theme. You can easily imagine this as a lullaby for Jesus. Until the last minute or so, when the same theme is augmented in a majestic way, then quieted for a piano/violin finish. The entire song is instrumental.
So far, we're 3 for 4. Not bad on my 3-song rule.
Number 5. A duet with Mandisa? Now, you are my friends, after all. Do I really need to tell you how I feel about that? This is the first song I cannot stand even in passing. Skip. We won't even go into the "let's light a candle/for peace we pray" lyrics. OK we will. This song's lyrics go from Santa and nations to lighting candles for peace. Nowhere is Jesus mentioned (although "manger scene" is in there.) SKIP.
"A Highland Carol" begins with bagpipes and a theme reminiscent of "Blessed be the Name" and although I'm not big into bagpipes, this was a nice tune.
Number 7 - "Sing Noel, Sing Hallelujah" is entirely choral. Read the lyrics. It begins with a boy choir, and is gorgeous. No church would have any problems with their choir singing this beauty. It has a traditional hymn sound, and it made me want to stand up and sing. This is my favorite song on the whole album. It's about this time that I think, "maybe I will keep this CD" You can listen here.
"Son of God" reminds me of a church cantata - a solo at the beginning, choirs taking over - and I can see this song IN a cantata - all the repetition of the "singing gloria" would be good for reflection on the nativity. And the text is pretty good for the solo part, too. I would pick a different vocal style for the soloist. But you knew that.
"What Child is This" is a simple arrangement on piano and penny whistle. It is beautiful.
So if you're counting, we're 7 for 9. I'm raising my eyebrows in surprise at this point. As I am sure you are.
"Audrey's Gift" is a piano arrangement of the same simple theme that has woven through the entire recording. This is not a vocal song. You know, this CD could easily be a soundtrack to a movie. Easily.
We are on the last track of the CD, "All Year Long" and it is full of M. W. vocals. A few choirs, a subtle insert of a secular world view, and we're done. I didn't care for that one.
So, friends, we have listened through "It's a Wonderful Christmas" and Mr. Smith squeaked by on the 3 song rule. I don't think I have a new favorite CD, but I don't think I'll be tossing this or finding a new home for it. And I do love "Sing Noel, Sing Hallelujah" enough to make a mental note that if I ever direct music again, I will need to look into it.
M. W., you have squeaked by! I give you one out of 2 socks. Surprised right off.
Tuesday, December 11
Monday, December 10
I seem to remember that on 8/4/06, when we were discharged from the hospital and got all those instructions on how to get a copy of the birth certificate that they told us it would be $10. I remember thinking it was awfully inconvenient, and couldn't they just give it to us at the hospital and add $10 to our bill?
I called today, so it would be ready to pick up. And now it's $12.
My, my, my. It seems the frugal choice would have been to get the child his birth certificate before inflation drove the price up. And ok, before his first birthday. At least. And part of me just has to ask - don't I pay county taxes? Shouldn't this sort of thing be covered?
Did you guys have to pay and make a separate trip for your kiddos' birth certificates?
Friday, December 7
Thursday, December 6
I remember moving in, and boy was that house a mess. Thanks, mom and dad. Thanks for more than just giving me a great home to grow up in. Your courage to bravely remodel and live in a house that needed so much work has fortified me for much more than just moving into our very own fixer upper.
You have taught me not only a good work ethic and minor home fix-its, (yes, I know, my smaller fingers were just better at sanding the corners of the floor and better at scraping the paint off the porch rails). You taught me that God always provides. You taught me contentment. You taught me to trust Him and to do it joyfully. You may not have always felt that way, but I never guessed it.
I know, you're sitting there reading this and shaking your head. That's why you taught (and are still teaching) me the beauty of humility.
And I am humbled that God saw fit to give you grace and strength in the years of our growing up, in the years that He had those hard lessons to teach us all about trusting, about God's provision, about the love of family, and about so much more. Praise GOD for His Goodness at all times. Praise God for parents like you.
I love you guys, and I rejoice with you in God's grace, abundant on your behalf! CONGRATULATIONS!!!
Now, do you burn that mortgage or frame it?
Wednesday, December 5
So what do you fix when you need to shop and can't think clearly? This is the topic for this week's Works For Me Wednesday, so if you find yourself in this "what on earth are we going to have tonight?" quandry more often than you care to admit, head on over and check out what ideas other people have. This is what I made yesterday, put in the Crock Pot at 4pm. I cranked the heat up to "HIGH" and it was ready in an hour. Aaron ate his right then, and loved it. But we ate ours three hours later, over rice.
Easy Chili (served 3 hungry Muths)
1/4 lb frozen ground beef (yep, just toss it right in the bottom)
1 pint home canned tomatoes (but a 15 oz can works too)
1 can chili seasoned beans (we like Bush's brand)
more chili powder
I used white rice since I have tons right now. Brown would be spectacular. I also put some cheese on top - yum. I usually add another can of beans (not chili seasoned) but I did not have any on hand.
Monday, December 3
Challies.com is giving away several sets of Modern Parables. If you want to sign up, do it soon and use my referral code (40102) so I can get more entries and we can all win big. If you do win, make sure you let me know so I can bring some popcorn and watch with you.
Just visit this link and sign up for the newsletter (it's not one of those annoyingly frequent ones)
Saturday, December 1
Mom said my initial explanation was slightly unclear, so here is a quick recap: Sign up using me as a referral, (twomuths at gmail dot com) and make any online purchase, linking through Ebates, by December 31st. ANY purchase - it could be a $2 book on Half.com or a big ol' flat screen TV at Walmart.com, it doesn't matter. After the order ships to you, and the transaction is complete, you will get $10 bonus cash (plus whatever bonus cash back you earn with your purchase) in your ebates account, and you can immediately request a Big Fat Check!
In my estimation, this is a snazzy way to buy someone a Christmas gift for free...working it kinda like a rebate! Use my email or sign up HERE
Friday, November 30
Yesterday, I found out that it does NOT work to pour boiling water over the coffee grounds. At least, it does not produce the delicious coffee to which my taste buds are accustomed. Today, I will try to soak them a little longer.
Thankfully, my parents have an extra coffee pot they never use. I will be borrowing that, thank you very much. At least until I do a little price comparison on thermal carafe coffee pots. Because, as you may know, they simply are the best.
Thank you all for your wishes of good will and sympathy. My lil' heart was blessed.
Apparently, my blog has reached new heights of popularity. I will be reviewing a product in the coming days - and those of you who know me well will get a little chuckle out of this one. It is Michael W. Smith's new Christmas CD. You never know - he could surprise the socks right off me. It's happened before. The play by play is coming soon. I bet y'all are on the edge of your seats.
But most of you are wondering why I'm talkin' southern. I blame it on my job. Entirely.
Thursday, November 29
Mr. Gevalia came to me in October of 2001, I believe, the year of white dorm living. The year Autumn and I decided to take advantage of one of the "too good to be true" offers so generously set forth by Gevalia. I mean, have you priced thermal carafe coffee pots?
After we figured out that paper filters caused coffee overflow in that particular model, and purchased a reusable cone filter, our evenings and mornings were filled with the delicious aroma of Mocca Java and good conversation. The best part of Mr. Gevalia was his ability to keep warm, but not burn, any leftover coffee. Many days, I brewed at 7 and could still have hot coffee at noon.
Today, I loaded up Old Faithful with 3 scoops and a pint, and clicked the familiar button. Ten minutes later, I was still waiting, despondent, cold, and shivering. Old Faithful is no more. My cup is empty.
Tuesday, November 27
This website gives you cash back on your purchases, and/or provides coupon codes to help you save even further. Many sites participate, you just have to use a tracking code from Ebates (which you get by typing in the store/website name and clicking on the link provided). My favorite thing is that I've forgotten several times until I already have items added to my cart. So I've opened a new tab and gone to Ebates, then typed in the store and clicked on Ebate's link to them, and through the magic of technology, my items are still in my cart.
The cash back builds up in your account and you can request a check any time the balance is $5 or more. I got cash back on our holiday travel purchases from Hotwire, our photo Christmas cards from Walmart, and several other things that will not be listed here. For obvious reasons. But I will say, dad, unrelated to holiday shopping, that Half.com is one of the participating sites. So you can sign up, too!
So today I got an email saying that if I refer people to Ebates, with their first purchase, we both get a $5 sign up bonus PLUS a $5 Holiday Bonus! That is like getting $10 for shopping online, people! So PLEASE click any of the links on this post and sign yourself up, then start shopping! This bonus $10 only works after you purchase something, and only if you sign up using the LINKS!
Monday, November 26
Homemade Sugar Scrub
Bread in a Bag
Sewing Kit in a Jar
Hot Cocoa Cones
"Write Your Own Book" kit for kids
Hope these inspire you to think about making a few gifts this year - I personally love giving AND receiving homemade gifts - and I loved that just about anyone could make these!
We like self-portraits for our Christmas card photos. In fact, we have never been to a studio as a family - I'm too afraid of things going horribly wrong and having to spend money on photos I don't want - and Aaron has managed to escape a formal photo session for his entire 16 month life. These are several of our discarded attempts. Our Christmas cards this year are hilarious. I can't wait for them to come in!!
SO while we were in Bay City, we stopped at our favorite scratch & dent grocery outlet - Blue Knight. You may be a little freaked out about stores like this, depending on your sensitivities, but I happen to love this place! Some of the food is past the expiration date, but if you look hard enough you can usually find items that are still fresh. Part of the adventure is not knowing what you will find! A few things we got this weekend:
Fruitabu Organic Smooshed Flats (similar to a fruit leather) - 50 cents a box
Earth's Best Organic Graham Sticks, Arrowroot Biscuits, and various other toddler snacks - 69 cents a box
Earth's best Organic "On the Go O's" (breakfast cereal) $1.50 a box
Organic Rice Krispies & Organic Frosted Mini Wheats, $1.50 a box
Near East seasoned couscous mixes 69 cents a box
King Arthur Whole Wheat flour 69 cents per 5 lb bag
Grey Poupon mustard, all varieties - 5/$1
Yoplait yogurt smoothies - $3 for a box of 12
Kashi TLC granola bars - 99 cents a box
Nestle Chocolatier Chocolate Chips (some 53% cacao, some 62%) 99 cents each
Barilla Plus Angel Hair pasta and organic whole grain penne - 2/$1
and my ALL TIME FAVORITE DEAL this trip -
a 10-oz bag of Green Mountain Organic Decaf Coffee - 99 cents!!!
(Here's the kicker - it was considered "off brand" because it wasn't Folger's or Maxwell House!)
We purchased multiples of many items, and got a few more things - we left with two huge boxes full of goodies and spent about $35. I am again amazed at God's provision!
Sunday, November 25
Wednesday, November 21
As far as our Spinach Strawberry Salad "recipe" goes, it's pretty much just spinach, sliced strawberries, and almonds. Since we have a Certain Person in our family who does not eat salad dressing (weirdo) we do not add any dressing to the salad until it is on our plates. Then we add this. Really, that is it. That dressing, if you've not tried it, is very, very good.
Steamed Garlic Broccoli is pretty easy as well. I chop up some fresh broccoli and add about a 1/2 tsp of minced garlic per head of broccoli to a bowl, then once the broccoli is steamed to that perfect tender state, I add it to the bowl with the garlic, stir and add a little salt. It is so delicious. If you have been stuck using frozen broccoli, and think it is fine, you MUST TRY some fresh steamed broccoli. I would eat it every single day if the rest of my family wouldn't get sick of it!! This from a former broccoli hater.
The turkey is making nice progress - I decided to do the quick thaw method in a water bath. I took the turkey out this morning and he's floating away. Just so you know, the Butterball ladies suggest a 1/2 hour in the water for every pound of turkey. I learned that on Rachael Ray this morning.
The sweet potatoes will be baked tonight, the apple crisp will be prepared in the morning, and baked once the turkey comes out. We eat at 1 o'clock.
Here's what I do for Apple Crisp:
Slice up a bunch of apples, to fill the dish. Add some cinnamon and a few sprinkles of flour, toss the apples about. If the apples are too tart, I will add a few teaspoons of sugar, or just use the cinnamon sugar that I have mixed up in the cupboard. Sometimes, if I feel like it, I add some nutmeg. For the oat topping, I take some oatmeal, whole wheat flour, a couple tablespoons of the darkest brown sugar I can find, a little oil or butter and more cinnamon, and smush it around until it looks right. Sometimes I add wheat germ. Then I sprinkle it atop the apples and bake it at 350 degrees until the apples are fork-tender. We often have ice cream with this yummy stuff. And sometimes I toss in a few handfuls of frozen blueberries, depending on how I'm feeling.
I will be baking the turkey in an oven bag. YAY. No basting. I love low maintenance.
Tuesday, November 20
Also today, I make the rolls. Not the healthiest, but healthier than some. I got it from my friend Ashley, and adapted it somewhat to fit our preferences. Here's the recipe:
Bread Machine Rolls
hot water plus one egg to equal 1 1/3 cup
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 cups bread flour
2 tsp gluten plus whole wheat flour to equal 2 cups (put the gluten in the cup, add flour to fill)
3 tsp yeast
Put all in bread machine, set to "dough" and when done, divide dough into 24 parts, put in a cooking-spray coated 9x13 pan. Cover with a clean towel and allow to double in size on top of the oven you are preheating (0r another warm place). Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes or until done.
I lightly butter the tops to keep them soft, but you wouldn't have to. I also may play with substituting some milled flax seed for part of the oil. At some point I will play with the sugar content, but I don't think a big family gathering would be the time for that. If you don't have bread flour, just make sure you use 4 tsp of gluten and it will be ok to use all purpose flour.
Roast Turkey & homemade low fat gravy
Stuffing (no butter, mostly whole wheat bread)
Baked, mashed sweet potatoes (sweet enough on their own, IMO! AND a superfood!)
Steamed Garlic Broccoli (oh, look! Another superfood!)
Apple Crisp - no sugar added to apples, oat crumble topping
Mashed potatoes (making them lighter)
Spinach Strawberry Salad (what? another superfood?)
Corn (no casserole!)
Pumpkin Pie with Healthier Pie Crust
Uh, yeah...and Ruthie's German Chocolate Pie. Not healthy, not at all. Not really any redeeming factors - it has nuts, I guess, and dark chocolate. Still, not healthy. But we are using the same Healthier Pie Crust Recipe.
And since mom's baking the pies, I will give you the recipe for the crusts. She's baking those tomorrow morning and then coming over to help get things ready here. Can we get a huge HURRAY for moms like mine? I am so blessed.
**Recipe removed due to nasty taste!!**
So as you can see, we are hardly depriving ourselves. And it would still be very possible to come to our Thanksgiving and leave having been gluttonous and unwise stewards. I will have to keep that in mind when I wish for another slice of the most delicious pie in the whole world. (Thank you, Ruth!)
Monday, November 19
Or, you know, YOU could print it out and eat two for the price of one. But that's a lot of ice cream.
Aaron has the 3rd cold of his life and it's a doozy. Saturday night he woke up thrice. THRICE. It's been a long time since I had to wake up that many times a night. As my feet hit the floor and my zombie legs took me next door to Aaron's room, I prayed for all you new mommies for which this is a nightly event!
And, I haven't been to church in 2 weeks, unless you count last Wednesday when I drove junior high kids around collecting food for the annual Thanksgiving Basket project at church. That was fun - the kids collected over 6 laundry baskets full of food in a little under an hour. We were able to hand out tracts at each of the houses we stopped at, too. Yay! Our church was able to put together 70 baskets to distribute this year. Amazing.
That family God brought into our lives? GREAT strides in their spiritual growth. The boys got baptized a few weeks ago and we've been thrilled to watch God do amazing things in their lives. We are praising God for His mighty acts and His goodness!
Michael took apart my sewing machine this weekend. It's an ugly little thing under all that pretty white plastic. I am happy to report that it is working satisfactorily at least for the time being. The tension is all messed up but if I set it on "0" it seems to do just fine. *sigh* My plans of homemade Christmas gifts were in the balance, and my dear superhero of a husband rescued them!
I cannot believe it is Thanksgiving week already! I'll be posting our "healthier" menu for this year later this week, but right now I'm wondering - what does your family do to make Thanksgiving a true time of thankfulness?
Friday, November 16
OneTouch UltraSmart Blood Glucose meter, reg. price 84.99 - FREE
Electrasol Powerball Tabs, 25 ct - 99 cents after rebate
Palmolive Dish Soap, 13 oz - 49 cents
Excederine Migraine, 50 ct, reg. 6.99 - FREE after rebate
TOTAL after rebates - $1.48
2 Pepsi cubes - $10, but there is a $10 rebate since I bought a turkey, too - FREE
17ish pound turkey, 49 cents a pound = 8.29
Suave Deodorant, 2 for $1
TOTAL after rebates - $9.29
Skippy Peanut Butter - 40 cents
Totino's Pizza Rolls - 20 cents
Lysol Toilet Bowl Cleaner - 68 cents
Lysol Multi Purpose Cleaner - 93 cents
2 - 200 oz Arm & Hammer Liquid Laundry Soap - $6.99
TOTAL - $9.20
UN fortunately, I bought a few more items than are listed here - but here are my great deals for this week!
Thursday, November 15
It's a holiday (specifically Thanksgiving, but I'm sure Christmas guests would appreciate them) recipe sharing extravaganza! I linked my pumpkin bread that I'm sure you are all sick of hearing about, but if you have a chance to make it you will understand why I can't stop talking about it!!!
So, if you have a favorite recipe or need a few ideas for upcoming events or just plain want to know what other people make for special occasion consumption, head on over and check it out.
(click on the cute lil' picture - it's a link)
Wednesday, November 14
All these pumpkins require roasting before freezing, and after a few sessions of scooping pumpkin guts with spoons, hands, and other various utensils, I grabbed the ice cream scoop! Mine has a flat tip that works very well to part the stringy seeds from the sides of the pumpkins! Voila! A faster way to get these babies roasting ready! Works for me!
Tuesday, November 13
I'm looking forward to trying out some new recipes and coming up with healthier alternatives to old favorites. The other day I heard something on a cooking show or in a magazine recipe like "that's a lot of butter, but it's Thanksgiving, so forget about it" Huh.
Like holidays are a good excuse to be gluttonous and exercise poor stewardship over our bodies. I am NOT saying a treat here and there is bad, I am not saying we will be forgoing Ruthie's German Chocolate Pie - but if I can figure out a way to make the turkey taste really good without a pound of butter or if we can skip green bean casserole for some almond green beans or garlic broccoli? Or if I can make gravy with mostly chicken stock instead of greasy turkey drippings? I'm gonna do it! It may only save 100 calories but it's 100 calories saved. I have a renewed commitment to the slow and steady approach to health.
What are your thoughts on holiday eating? How do you make sure you exercise control over what goes into your body during the holidays?
I guess I'll be posting pictures of my projects AFTER Christmas, since many recipients read this blog. (and since I'm not sure how many of these grand ideas will actually turn out to be worthy gifts) Finally I am using the fabric that has languished long in plastic bins.
Any homemade holiday gifts on your list of giving?
Monday, November 12
I didn't really HAVE a nickname, unless you count "Jenny" but I don't happen to think that counts.
Does your family do nicknames?
Sunday, November 11
Chicken Tortilla Soup
2 boneless chicken breasts, cooked and cubed or shredded
2 cans chicken broth
1 can green chilies
1 can diced tomatoes w/mild chilies
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced (or 1 tsp minced garlic)
1 T lime juice
2 T chopped fresh cilantro
½ tsp ground cayenne pepper
½ tsp ground cumin
4-6 corn tortillas
Combine all but last 5 ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Cut the tortillas into strips (¼-½”) and place on a cookie sheet. Spray with Pam, and bake at 350 until crispy. Reduce heat & simmer for 30-35 minutes. Add the lime juice, cilantro, cayenne and cumin; simmer 10 or so minutes more. Ladle into bowls, garnish with shredded cheese and the tortilla strips.
If you have a favorite recipe to post, or you have recently posted a recipe, link your recipe post here. Make sure you link to the post, and not your whole page. Go ahead and use the Mr. Linky form below.
If you haven't done that before, and you use Blogger, you just click on the title of your post, then cut & paste the URL from the web address bar into the little Mr. Linky form where it says "URL". You can also type either your name OR your recipe in the box above the URL box.
Saturday, November 10
That would be 3 50 sq. ft. rolls of wrapping paper, 8 55-foot lengths of curling ribbon, a Glade candle, a Glade oil warmer and a refil pack, a 1-lb box of brown sugar, 2 mini cans of baking powder, 2 shampoos and 2 conditioners. Did I mention that some of these items are eligible for rebates, totaling an additional $3 off?
Yes, God is most definitely providing for our needs (and our "wants" too!) in the most amazing, unexpected ways.
Check out other (even more) amazing deals at Money Saving Mom
Thursday, November 8
But I DO think these would be cute on other people's kids. So get on over and check them out. The deals I found are for boys 12 months, 18 months, and 24 months. I didn't look in the other larger sizes but I'm sure you could find a deal there, too. Or do some "gift closet" shopping...
Wednesday, November 7
Tuesday, November 6
Our high school kids are traveling this week putting on a play about the lives of John & Betty Stam. If you haven't heard their story, you should. The kids' presentation has stayed with me this week, reminding me to pray for them as they travel, but also giving me a sense of urgency about my days, and a more clear vision of all that God provides. Needs - for certain! Wants - abundant!
And as if His provision for me was not enough, just for me, just so I will praise Him more, God gives me glimpses of beauty - today, in fresh blueberry muffins, a pudgy little face, and in dancing skeleton trees.
Monday, November 5
Of course I'm pretty pumped about winter, too. I'd rather be cold than too hot. Back in my northeastern Wisconsin college days, it was my personal goal to delay wearing a coat until after Thanksgiving, in order to better acclimate. It helped, I tell you. About weather - how do you feel? We'd all like to be "just right" but if you had to choose your uncomfy temps, what would you pick?
Friday, November 2
2 boxes of feminine products
2 cans of almonds - one smoked, one not
2 cans of crabmeat
1 huge bag of airheads to give to our junior high kids (not that they are airheads...well, at least not all of them!)
1 bag of candy cane kisses
1 bag assorted Hershey bars
1 coconut ghosty leftover from Halloween.
any guesses on how much I spent?
**Answer: $3.84 - I was stunned, too!**
I realize I'm 2 days late, but I have to share my farmer's market finds. Around here, the farmer's market is held 2 days a week and is open until October 31st.
Wednesday, I scored 15 (YES! FIFTEEN!) pie pumpkins for $3 and 14 bell peppers for $2. I also picked up some potatoes because we needed them and they looked tasty. All in all, money well spent. Gotta love those end of the season prices!
On to the chopping, roasting and freezing!
As a side note, which "big issue" could you care less about OR which one will make or break your vote in the next presidential election? (you can be anonymous if you want to be)
Unfortunately, I don't think my "matched candidate" has a real chance of being elected. Thankfully, God is in control!!
Thursday, November 1
It's nothing fancy, but he sure loves it when I get it out to sweep. The little munchkin tries to take it away from me so he can sweep. He carries it all over the house, leaving chaos in his wake. Lately I've been having to sweep while he's restrained or napping. Just can't have him playing in the dirt piles. I found this out the hard way. "Oh, lookie! Cheerios! YUM!" This earned me bad mother award #596.
Aaron's other new favorite thing: climbing OUT of his crib.
Bad mother award #597 goes to the mom who took a shower at the end of her son's nap, only to find him STANDING at his door yelling at the top of his lungs because he cannot open his own door and escape to the freedom of the hallway. Oh wait. That would be me. I can only thank God he is not broken in a hundred places.
Needless to say, the crib no longer stores our extra crib mattress. And I have a feeling that move only bought us another couple months. Anybody know if cribs have those same screen type toppers that aquariums for creepy crawlies sport? I'm kidding. Really.
More adventures to come.
Wednesday, October 31
Ooh, ooh! You guys have gotta enter this contest! Can you believe? Hurry, it ends today!!!
In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness, Dyson has agreed to give away one of their Dyson Vacuum Cleaners in the Pink color. Dyson is known as the vacuum that never loses suction. Out of each PINK DYSON VACUUM CLEANER that is sold, Dyson donates $40 to help Breast Cancer Research. Not only is this vacuum for a great cause but it also does a great job of keeping your home clean.
Click on the picture to be taken straight to the contest!
Tuesday, October 30
Monday, October 29
This thing is impressive, you all. It has categories, food groups; it is a work of art. If only I could figure out how to post links to Excel spreadsheets. Then you could see it for yourself.
Honestly, I didn't intend for the winner to be local. I didn't even know Cindy read my blog until I got her magnificent masterpiece in my email box. But you have to admit, free shipping is quite the bonus for me! :-)
An honorable mention goes to Aunt Rosemary, whose menu was fun & creative with "made up" holidays to celebrate their lives. She also planned through December 8th.
My condolences to all of you with pantry bugs. I'm so, so sorry. I can't even imagine the creepiness of all that. Not to mention the frustration to all of your frugal souls.
So what do you think? Should we have another Pantry Clean Out Challenge in the Spring?
Friday, October 26
I'm happy to report that although this has not been a Five Nap Friday, it's been MUCH better. Amazing what a little sleep can do for all of our dispositions, and our thinking processes. And our vocabulary.
Thursday, October 25
Anyway, I started at the beginning, read through the series, and am still mulling it over... any thoughts you'd like to share?
Wednesday, October 24
Tuesday, October 23
Well, I found out today that these little gems are not available in the next size up for Aaron (as in, they ran out). *LOUD SIGH* And of course, when I contacted customer service, they were not of much service. "We do not have any information on the status of this item" And of course, they are an online exclusive, making the possibility of my tracking down a few packs in various colors an impossibility. And RATS they were clearanced for a STEAL.
I personally think that stores should not be allowed to discontinue or run out of shirts that I love. I know, "the world does not revolve around me" and boy am I glad. But just this once, I wish there was a rule about running out of my favorite shirts for Aaron. Especially since I was counting on it. Especially since I love them. Did I mention that they are my favorites?
Maybe instead, I should just let go of my ingenious plan to clothe the Muth child in basic solids, avoid screen printing at all costs, and pass on the classics to the next child (should God send one). Maybe I should just throw caution to the wind and buy the Blues Clues shirts already.
I think I'd rather pray for a comeback.
Monday, October 22
When my granddaughter Amanda was about 2 and had just learned some of her colors, we were planting the garden. I was planting the corn seed and she was toddling along behind repeating 'yellow...yellow...yellow'. I kept putting the seed in the row and saying, 'yes, the corn is yellow'. At the end of the row, I turn to see her little hand held up - full of 'yellow' (the corn seeds that I had just planted!) and her proud, smiling little face saying 'yellow...yellow...'
Better keep an eye on your "helpers" this spring!!
Our grandson Alex has a few speech challenges - maybe it is it more 'hearing challenges'. You be the judge... His grandpa was working up the garden with the rototiller one spring when Alex was 6. It was a really nice day, but for some reason, Alex really wanted to stay in the house. He was sitting on the floor playing with his Lego and asked, 'Grandma, what are rotos?' I did my best to explained, 'I don't know, I guess a roto is something that goes around...it rotates.' Frustrated with my answer, Alex said, 'No, what ARE rotos? What IS IT that Grandpa is killing out there with the ROTOKILLER?' So now when it it time to work up the garden in the spring, we say, 'I am going out to kill the Rotos'.
Don't forget to clean out your pantry this week, and feel free to share YOUR funny kid stories, too!
Friday, October 19
OK friends - I'm hosting my first ever pantry clean-out challenge in honor of my happiness at the menu I've created from our surplus. Really, I'm SO excited that I won't have to do major grocery shopping. Or think about what is going to be for dinner. I can hardly stand it.
Here's the challenge:
1. take inventory of the food you have in your pantry (& freezer, too!)
2. plan a menu based on your findings
3. email your pantry-cleanout menu to me (twomuths at gmail dot com) Please put "Clean Out Challenge" in the subject line.
1. No fair grocery shopping before making the menu. This is a clean-out-your pantry challenge.
2. It's ok if you have to buy something (produce, dairy, etc) to make your menu work, just be sure to mark it on your menu. I put mine in all caps, then made a list of what I have to buy but you do whatever works for you - make sure you include this in the email, though.
3. It's also ok to repeat items. You can bet our "last til' December" menu has a few repeats.
4. I only did a dinner menu. If you want to do more, that's great, but not required.
5. Just because I'm curious, email me your estimated savings - how much can you save with your "clean out the pantry" menu?
Just for participating, I will send you an e-copy of a recipe book my mom & I put together to give as a gift. Nothing fancy - it's in Word. But who doesn't like new recipes? Then I will select the most impressive menu, post it, and send an extra gift to the winner!
DEADLINE: Friday, October 26, 5:00p EST. You have ONE WEEK!
Be sure to check out more ideas for saving money on this Frugal Friday.
Monday, October 15
This morning I went through our freezers and pantry and came up with enough food to make meals through December 1st, purchasing only a few basics plus produce. Talk about blessed! This will allow us to save a LOT of $ for holiday travel and other expenses. Who knew we had that much food as a surplus?!
Saturday, God provided a couch. For free. It's a nice neutral green, and very comfy. We had decided to just use our futon and be happy with it, as other things (like, say, siding the house) are more pressing. I'd been praying that if God wanted us to have a couch, that He would provide one, and sort of selfishly prayed that I would like it, too. I almost cried as we drove home with the couch. The same people are also giving us a dresser. I've been scouring garage sales all summer for a solidly built tall dresser to replace the shaky particle board one we're currently using. With a fresh coat of paint and some new knobs, this will fit the bill perfectly.
How have you been blessed this week?
Friday, October 12
In the past, we've gotten free birthday Coldstone, run errands (everything's more fun together) and we've used gift cards that we have for restaurant dates. We usually share an entree (more than enough food for 2, usually) and order water to drink to save $. We've also done our share of coffee shop dates.
So, what's your favorite thing to do for a frugal date? I need some new ideas!!
John Piper also has some interesting things to say on this topic.
Thank you, everyone, for your gracious input on this delicate subject. I enjoyed reading each unique perspective, and rejoice with each of you at how God has led your families.
Thursday, October 11
I found the site through Frugal Hacks, which is definitely a blog to subscribe to in your Google Reader if you've any desire to save money in creative ways. I've found so many ideas and tips via that site and others who are listed in the sidebar.
So now I'm curious - what's one of your favorite sites?
Wednesday, October 10
Tuesday, October 9
See if the program is available where you live!
Monday, October 8
Saturday, October 6
Friday, October 5
This week, I've been a "lady of leisure" as my job was put on hold. Not enough projects to keep us all busy. It was great - although I'm sure we will miss the income, and I really didn't do too much "leisure-ing," I did get a lot done.
Monday we had some friends over - they have a daughter about 2 months older than Aaron, and they played together much better than any of us expected. A few sharing issues with "Pooh's Dress up Day" but other than that, it was adorable watching them play. We even had an impromptu concert. These kids have Got It, let me tell you.
Tuesday was interesting. I'm still in my "try a new recipe" kick, and we had chicken spaghetti, modified from a recipe I've had forever and one at this site. Don't ask me how I found it. When I get sucked into the vortex of blogs, home improvement and cooking websites, it all gets a little blurry.
Wednesday was church. I made pizza pockets with a bread machine dough recipe I gleaned from a friend. I tried substituting whole wheat flour for 1/2 the bread flour, and it worked out very well. I just have to figure out how to get them not to be so thick and bready on the bottom after I seal them and flip them over. Any suggestions?
Thursday was grocery and errand day. I scored some fabulous deals at Meijer - 10 avocados for $2 on the reduced produce rack, bananas for 29 cents a pound, and kiwi at 25 cents each. We took a little trip to see Michael, who was working in Midland this week, then I came home and made quiche and cinnamon rolls and guacamole. Aaron only took one nap, and -
What, you don't think quiche, cinnamon rolls and guac go together? What are you, crazy? I didn't plan it that way, really...here's the deal - for some reason, we have a LOT of eggs right now. I am not really sure how that happened. Michael's not a big fan of quiche, (I think I've made it all of 4 times in our 3 plus years of marriage) but it is probably one of my top 10 favorite foods. I really didn't want the eggs to go bad, so TA DA a great excuse! I planned quiche. And then I found those avocados - and I had to use them. After all, they WERE on the reduced produce rack for a REASON. And no, I didn't make all 10 avocados into guac. I gave some to my parents, and there are a few left here.
Today has been a whirlwind of laundry and dishes. And it's weeks like this that I wonder if I really WOULD get that much more done if I didn't work.
And for all you family members interested on Aaron's progress: He is talking a L.O.T. He's just 14 months, and has probably 20-25 words that he uses frequently, along with the typical baby babble and accompanying facial expressions. We still work with him on sign language (a little) but he's much more verbally advanced than I ever expected at this age. This is good - it helps me be more confident that he is understanding MUCH more than he can communicate.
He's not a shrimp anymore, either. I think he's probably close to 22-23 pounds, and eats like a...BOY. There are days he can out eat me. I'm not exaggerating.
And, I still haven't gotten my hair cut. Right, I asked you guys in May for your opinions. And in the 5 months since I asked, it's gotten quite loooong. I finally settled on a style, and am getting it cut next week, hopefully. I will be sure to post before and after pictures.
This weekend I am going to be a roofing widow. Michael will be gone all day, helping a friend re roof the house. We're so thankful for the help on our roof that he's glad to help another family get the job done. I think a trip with my mom to a semi-distant town to visit Aldi will be a good way to break up the day.
Have a happy weekend!
Monday, October 1
(although, I truly appreciate your estimates of my ability to pinch the pennies.)
If you haven't already heard, Walgreens will no longer be carrying Luvs diapers, and so they are liquidating their stock by taking 75% off. Our Walgreens stores only carried sizes 4 & 5, and after I left on Friday, only had 3 packs of 5's left. You might want to check your Walgreens just in case they might have a few packs left. The clearance price was not marked on the shelf. I asked for a price check and rushed back to claim my (ehem) booty.
Aaron doesn't wear 4's yet, but you can believe that at $3.68 plus a few $1 off coupons ($2.68 for 52 diapers? um, YES!) I took the opportunity to stock up - and I was even able to snag a couple extra packs for some friends.
And for those of you who are thinking, "I thought the Muths used cloth," well, we do. I'd say we're a part time cloth diaperin' family. The (ehem) bottom line is, I have 7 fancy schmancy diapers. When they are all dirty, I wash them. If I run out, or have too much laundry piled up to even think about extra wash cycles, we use disposables. I'm not going to stress about it. There are other things more worthy of my energies.
1 lb ground chicken
1/3ish cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2ish cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 tsp minced garlic
a generous shake onion powder
worcestershire sauce - about a tablespoon
salt & pepper
Mix well, divide into patties, cook on high heat until browned and the juices run clear - use oil or they will stick badly!
We didn't have buns, either...so I took some bread and used a cup to cut circles out of the middles. (the scraps will be an Aaron-snack or croutons) It ended up being fancy-looking and so so yummy. We were sad to see the burgers end. I served them with sliced tomatoes and mayo for Michael.
I also made some oven fries which cooked while the burgers were prepared & served.
4 small red potatoes
seasoned bread crumbs
grated parmesan cheese
salt & pepper
I cut the potatoes up in wedges, gave them a rinse with water, tossed them with somewhat equal parts bread crumbs and cheese and drizzled them with olive oil, then baked at 350 for probably 15 minutes or so, then sprinkled with salt & pepper after they came out of the oven.
The consensus is that we will be having this meal again.
Saturday, September 29
I had an excellent Friday. I picked blueberries (shocked that there were still some available), and here's the really great part - got a mega-super-wonderful deal at Walgreens on the items pictured here - 4 bags of Robitussin cough drops, 2 packs of Luvs (52 in a pack - size 4 for future use), and 2 tubs of oatmeal. Any guesses how much I spent?
As a side note, you know your stage in life has changed when you're thrilled to bits about blueberries and saving money on household necessities.