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.