Friday, December 18, 2009

Cash Only!

Even CNN is noticing the Cash-Only budgeting system!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


It is late.

I have been falling in and out of sleep for hours. Not like the gentle rolling hills of the countryside but like the crashing, choppy ocean waves before a storm.

The phone rings again all too loudly and my stomach tightens.

I hear the man next to me sigh and let the phone ring one more time before answering. It is too dark to see his face.


That is all I can make out of the hushed conversation. But I know. Quiet tears roll slowly down my face. Emotions flood my heart as we wait for morning light.

He is gone. His job was done and the Maker called him home.

The next few days are a tornado of extended family, church services, emotionally draining decisions, laughter, sick children, tears, well-wishing friends, cards, flowers, baked ham and brownies. The Christmas tree stands only partly dressed with white sparkling lights.

I look at the photograph of him from two Christmases ago. He was reading the Christmas story from the Book of Luke. A family tradition that took place before the mad ripping of paper and flying of bows. You see my son, who was about 5 years old perched on the back of the recliner reading over his shoulder. My sister-in-law artfully shot this photograph. You cannot see any faces as it was photographed from the back, behind my son. I don’t even know if he knew my son was back there.

…but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
Deuteronomy 5:10

Precious Savior, thank you for our family ancestors who kept your commandments. For a thousand generations have been blessed and continue to be blessed for their faith and example set before us. May my children pass on the Christian faith to our future family for a thousand more generations. Amen

Thank you to everyone who has prayed with my family these past few weeks. “Judge” was an inspiration to many and he will be missed.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

My First Award!

How exciting! A new reader friend, Wanda at WandaStricklinRoberston awarded me the honor of the Superior Scribbler Award based on my post about our new role in life as my in-laws caretaker. Thank you Wanda!

The award rules:

Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.

Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.

Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.

Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List.

That way, we’ll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!
Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

I am still searching for my favorite reading blogs so I will post those hopefully tomorrow!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Multitude Mondays

I praise and honor You as my Mfather God and give thanks always for all things especially Your Fatherly love. Eph 5:20

I am thankful that God is my Heavenly Father!

27. He is not a distant or remote Father, but a close and loving one.
28. His love for me is unconditional and everlasting
29. He provides for me

30. He teaches me
31. He makes plans for my future
32. He supplies all my needs
33. He gives me security
34.He gives me a special home to live in for eternity
35. He gently guides me
36. I have been predestined to be adopted as Your child through Jesus Christ becasue it gives You pleasure and it is Your will for my life. Eph. 1:5

Thanks for reading! See A Holy Experience for more Multitude Mondays!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Gluten-Free Rachel Ray Supper!

Mexican Lasagna - modified from original Rachel Ray version

3 Tbsp EVOO
1.5 to 2 lbs ground meat (we have used ground chicken, turkey and beef in the past - all work beautifully)
2 Tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (14 oz)sweet corn, drained
1 can (14 oz) fire roasted tomatoes
8 (or so) corn tortillas ( make sure they are GF!)
2 c. shredded quesco ( can also use cheddar or a pre-shredded mexican blend)
1 container salsa verde - optional

Heat oil in skillet. Add next 7 ingredients and cook until meat is no longer pink. Taste your developing creation as you may want to add a little salt at this point. Line a baking dish with tin foil (this will help with clean up and can be omitted if you enjoy scrubbing dishes). Cut tortillas in half to make layering easier. Build lasagna by layering meat, tortilla, cheese. My dish usually makes 2 complete layers ending with cheese. Bake at 350 until cheese is bubbly (15 minutes or so). Serve with salsa verde on the side.

Enjoy!! By the way, this freezes wonderfully too!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

He gives...

He tries to see it as just The kind of responsibility you were warned about when all you could think about was life void of imposed curfews. Only you found that once you achieved this level of maturity, your own folly came at the end of a long list of tending to the needs of others.

He tends to two families. One he chose and the other he was born into. One in the depths of age and one in its prime. It isn't easy. Is it really even possible? That question doesn't really matter, doesn't need to even be asked, because it is his responsibility. There are no other choices. He can only hope that his absence at one dinner table to is appreciated at the other.

You can find him cleaning and preparing breakfast for one family, then cleaning milk from a spilled cereal bowl for the other family. Putting wool socks on old tired feet, then settling an argument between mother and daughter over what is appropriate attire for school. He reads short stories by Ferrell Sams under fluorescent lights, then calls out spelling words on a Thursday night . He helps one stand and walk on wobbly legs, and then teaches another how to swing a bat.

His siblings muse about how sad it is to see their father this way, but he doesn't have the luxury to take time and reminisce.

So I try not to complain when I pick up the water towel off the bathroom floor each morning; a new phenomenon that has only presented itself in the last few months. I try not to huff when he interrupts my thoughts and chores with his own. I try not to do a roll call from my own to-do list when he complains that I need to pick up his work clothes from the cleaners. I ignore it when he leaves his supper dishes on the table, something he expects his children not to do.

Because someone needs to care for him too.

Lord, please help me to fill his cup, so that he can in turn give more of himself to others.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Multitude Mondays - More Than I Need

I am thankful for God's creation....

1. Quiet mornings
2. cracking pecans in front of a burning fire
3. long phone calls with my mom
4. cold rainy days inside a warm house
5. a child's ability to laugh with their whole being
6. intimate conversations with a spouse
7. chocolate dessert with ice cream
8. family movie night
9. sewing time
10. my beautiful home
11. a refrigerator full of food
12. a shiny, clean car (the outside at least:)
13. aprons
14. crisp apples and tart oranges
15. a great smelling candle
16. my wonderfully, and fearfully made family
17. bright, sunny days
18. monopoly with my daughter over popcorn and hot chocolate
19. snuggling with my son
20. time here on earth to experience God's goodness
21. music that makes your heart sing
22. our Sunday School class
23. BSA smoked turkeys
24. Christmas decorations
25. chubby baby cheeks
26. hand-me down furniture

Join me and many others who are counting our 1000 blessings at Holy Experience!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Menu Planning Monday - Gluten-Free Rachel Ray

It's been a while, but it is high time I got back in gear!! Several of my recipes are modified Rachel Ray recipes to be gluten free! By the way, check out Organic Valley, they have some great coupons for their products.

Sunday - Sauteed pork chops, with Italian beans (recipe below), and salad
Monday - omelets, spinach salad, crescent rolls
Tuesday - Fish sandwiches (recipe below)
Wednesday - Mediterranean- style chicken (recipe below)
Thursday - Spaghetti
Friday - I'll be NYC - Dad is cooking!!

Italian Beans (great fiber!)
Northern beans soaked and cooked
3 slices of bacon
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
2 celery, sliced thin
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 bay leaf
1 cup chicken stock
2 tomatoes, chopped

Heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a pan. Add bacon and cook until crisp, add onion, carrot, celery, garlic and bay leaf and cook for about 5 minutes. Add beans and stock and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about another 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, stir and serve!

Mediterranean-Style Chicken
4-6 Chicken cutlets, pounded thin
4-6 fresh sage leaves
4 -6 slices of bacon
3 cups chicken stock
1/4 cupfresh parsely chopped
2 T. butter
1/2 cup grated parmasean cheese
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic
bag of chopped kale
1 T. sugar
2 T. red wine vinegar

Heat 2 T. EVOO in a large non-stick skillet. Place a sage leaf and a piece of bacon on top of a cutlet and roll on a diagonal. Add chicken to the pan. Cook and turn until all sides are brown. Remove from skillet and add 1 cup stock to the pan. Scrape up any brown bits with wooden spoon. Allow to cook and reduce for about 2 minutes. Add parsely and butter. Once butter has melted, add chicken back to the pan and turn off heat. Sprinkle with cheese.

In a separate pan, heat 2 T. in a large saute pan. Add onion and garlic and cook until transluscent. Add kale and toss and turn frequently. Add sugar and vinegar and 1/2 cup chicken stock.

Serve with rice.

Get more great menu ideas at Organization Junkie!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

SAHM vs Working Moms on Dr. Phil

I usually don't catch Dr. Phil. 5:00pm is a busy time of athletic practices, HW and supper, but we are on fall break and I actually turned the TV on. All I can say is ...WOW! Having been both a SAHM and a working mom I think there is a much larger issue here:

Why are we so upset over this???

I have a single thoughtful idea. We are all working at the most difficult job in the world...MOTHERHOOD. We are (deep deep deep inside) afraid that we are doing a bad job and that someone else is doing a better job and that our kids will suffer because of it. This FEAR, this GUILT will drive us to do or think most anything to defend our decisions and choices even to where we are willing to tear down other (struggling) moms.

This is the same underlying reason that moms are willing to go to war over who breastfed their children until they were one, had natural childbirth, feeds their kids the healthiest foods.

We want to believe that if our kids are successful, healthy and happy that it was all because of our wonderful parenting so that we can shed off some of that FEAR and GUILT. But alas, we discover that it never really goes away.

God alone can remove these life destroyers called FEAR and GUILT and allow us to more fully love others!

Monday, October 12, 2009

P.A.T.H. - Teaching kids to Pray

If your family is anything like mine, you try to be a good parent and teach your kids great habits that will carry them through like. Praying is one such habit. The difficult part is trying to slowly transition from parent-prayed goodnight prayers to your child initiating prayer on their own. I was really feeling that my kids had hit a plateau and stopped "transitioning". We were stuck in our patterns..."Thank you God for mom and dad"...We needed another boost!

P - Praise

A - Apology

T - Thanks

H - Help (for others then yourself)

The kids and I took four poster boards and wrote one of the above words on each. We arranged them in order all around our backyard ( in order to spell PATH). Quietly and reverently, we walked and encircled a poster. Each person gave praise, apology, thanks or asked from help as we arrived at the designated poster. Do not forget to pull out your Bible and compare the Prayer Path to the Lord's Prayer!

What a difference this has made at bedtime prayers! Good luck and please let me know if you give this a try!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Zucchini Banana Nut Bread for Breakfast!

YUM! My kids ate this all week for breakfast. I sliced it up and toasted it in the oven for a few minutes and VOILA, breakfast. My daughter likes hers with cream cheese and my son prefers butter. Either way, its a great way to get your day movin'!

Zucchini Banana Nut Bread

2 eggs
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. oil
1 c. grated zucchini
1 mashed banana
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. whole wheat four
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 c. shopped pecans

Combine first 6 ingredients. Sift dry ingredients well together and stir into first 6 ingredients. Gently fold in pecans. Pour into 4x9 greased and floured pan. bake at 350 for 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out clean.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Some Fabulous Blog Finds Today!

While snooping around BlogWorld this morning, I came across two fantastic blogs. I wanted to share them with you. They are fun, upbeat and wonderfully inspiring with lots of ideas and freebies. I can't wait to make the Affirmation Gift Set from Kind Over Matter for my friend's birthdays. The DIY Wipe Off Menu Planner from Perfect Sentiment is high on my list too! Great ideas ladies, please keep them coming !

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Envelope System Wallet for Debt Free Living!

New for Fall and back by popular demand - The Envelope system Wallet! A huge thank you to everyone who has sent me a kind message about these wallets! I hope you find them useful and fun to KEEP money in! Wallets can be purchased at my etsy store.

The Envelope System Wallet features:

1) a Velcro closure and one main pocket, in which the envelopes fit.

2)Three envelopes have been made in a coordinating fabric. I transferred labels to each of the wallets for easy reference. I would be happy to transfer a Bible verse, saying or other labels at your request.

3) Last but not least, there is a zippered pouch for coins, driver’s license and pictures of the kids (plenty large enough for up to 10 cards).

4) This wallet could easily also hold your checkbook and deposit slips.

5) Envelopes and zippered pouch are entirely removable for easy access and budgeting. Remove it if it not to be used!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Dog Days of Summer - Children's Summer Activities

The best idea that I have ever had came to me about four years ago. My kids were 3 and 6 years old. Since I teach school, we are all home together each day and boredom was already setting in by July. I was also craving some alone time, but was too cheap to find a babysitter.

A good friend of mine owns and runs a dance studio, but like me, spends her summer days galavanting with the kiddos. We organized a kid swap over Happy Meals at the McDonald's playground. We each planned to take all four kids one day a week allowing each mom an entire FREE DAY. Sitting down with our schedules, the entire summer was planned around things like vacation, VBS and camps. Times were also scheduled. Kids arrive at 8:30 am and will leave around 5:00pm.

Theme days quickly developed and the kids would get so excited about them. We have had "Pirate Day", "Colonial Day", "Candy Day", etc. It wasn't long before my kids were helping plan our weekly theme day too (giving us other things to do during the week).

"The Dog Days of Summer" occured last week and I wanted to show you our FUN!

The day started with puppet making around our kitchen table. The puppets were to be dogs to be used later in the day for a puppet show.

The crafts were going so well, that the girls made puppy dog ears on some headbands while the boys went to ride bikes for a while. We then played "Doggie Doggie Who's Got your Bone" (pardon the grammar, but that is the name of the game). Did you play this in school? One person is the dog and sits in a chair with their eyes closed. There is a bone under the chair. Someone sneaks, steals the bone and sits on it then the doggie tries to guess who has it.

Our dogs were in on the act also. Wizzie got a walk through the neighborhood.

We had a few other neighborhood kids join in for the dog races! If you have a pool, you could have doggie paddle races!

We also made doggie biscuits. This proved to be a kid favorite also. By this time, my group of 4 had become 8 so I made them in 2 batches (girls and boys).

Doggie Biscuit Recipe
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup oats
2 tsp beef or chicken bouillon granules
1 egg
1/2 cup hot water
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Stir all together and roll out to about 1/2inch thick. Use cookie cutters to cut into shapes. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

By this time, mom and kids were exhausted so we settled down to watch Benji (I found this DVD in the $5 bin at Walmart. It brought back a lot of memories).

I hope you have gotten a few ideas to try your own theme day. Have fun and don't be afraid to let the kids help plan it!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

New Appliqued Summer Dresses

I can't believe that I have turned into such a crummy blogger this summer! Believe it or not, I am getting a little sewing accomplished, though it is not as much as I would like. Aren't these A-line jumpers darling? My sister wanted them for beach pictures. The white is pique and the letters have been done in Pop Garden. Too cute! I will deliver them this weekend along with the fourth Twilight book. She will be thrilled with both!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Almost There!

I am only 18 months behind, but the end is near! My 2008 (yes, 2008) New Year's Resolution was to read the entire Bible. I am only 2 months away from finishing! Some books are not easy to get through and have required sheer determination to read. For me, many of the "prophet" books at the end of the Old Testament are not easy. It is difficult to understand what many of the prophesies are referring to and difficult to make much of it relate to my everyday Christian life. I am sure that using a study guid book would be helpful.

To help motivate myself in this final drive home here is a list of the books that I have read:

Old Testament









1 Samuel

2 Samuel

1 Kings

2 Kings

1 Chronicles

2 Chronicles








Song of Solomon










1 Corinthians

2 Corinthians





1 Thessalonians

2 Thessalonians

1 Timothy

2 Timothy


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Gluten Free Recipe for Chicken Tenders

During my hiatus, my husband and I became increasing aware of your son's stomach issues. As he has gotten older and more equip to communicate with us, we have gradually figured out that, he keeps a stomachache...all the time.

After a few initial tests, which came back negative, our pediatrician threw out the possibility of Celiac Disease, more commonly known as a gluten allergy, and referred us to a specialist. We have approximately 8 weeks until our appointment so I decided to experiment a little with our diet by gradually dropping gluten.

Well, I must say that this has been a real learning experience. Here is a list of the things I have learned:

1. You can buy just about any gluten-free item you are craving: cakes, granola, bread, cookies, etc., if you have won the lottery. My grocery bill has felt the sting of this one.
2. Trader Joes is by far the most reasonably priced grocery store for gluten-free products.
3. Gluten-Free bread is tastes pretty good and the whole family has eaten it.
4. Watch out, going gluten-free can play bad tricks on your digestive system. Ward off constipation by increasing your intake of veggies and fruits.
5. Many of our suppers were already gluten-free. The challenge has come with breakfast and lunchbox meals.

In a nutshell, I am on the prowl for inexpensive, fast, easy and portable gluten free meals. Last night, we came across a great meal that satisfied everyone. I located the recipe in one of my favorite Rachel Ray cookbooks and adapted it more to my liking.

Gluten Free Chicken Tenders and Dip

3 Tablespoon each – sesame seeds, poppy seeds, grated parmesan cheese, dried minced onion
1 Tablespoon – garlic powder
Olive oil
Chicken tenders
4 oz low fat cream cheese
½ cup low fat buttermilk
1 grated carrot
1 celery stalk – finely chopped
2 green onions – finely sliced.

Mix all seeds, cheese and garlic in a bowl. Coat chicken with olive oil and place in seed mixture to coat. Place on baking sheet and bake at 375 for about 25 minutes (or until done).

Using an electric mixer, mix cream cheese and buttermilk until combined. Stir in carrot, onions and celery. Add salt and pepper if desired. EAT!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Do you need a wallet to help you go CASH ONLY??

They are back! The Envelope System Wallets are back on the market! Be sure to check on my Etsy Store!

The Envelope System Wallet features:

1) a Velcro closure and one main pocket, in which the envelopes fit using Amy Butler’s Gothic Rose fabric (gorgeous!!)
2)Three envelopes have been made in a coordinating fabric. I transferred labels to each of the wallets for easy reference. I would be happy to transfer a Bible verse, saying or other labels at your request.
3) Last but not least, there is a zippered pouch for coins, driver’s license and pictures of the kids (plenty large enough for up to 10 cards).
4) This wallet could easily also hold your checkbook and deposit slips.
5) Envelopes and zippered pouch are entirely removable for easy access and budgeting. Remove it if it not to be used!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Lenton Season

Well, as usual, I am a little behind the power curve. Even though Lent officially began on Ash Wednesday, I am just now contemplating what I want to eliminate from my life to help prepare my heart for Easter. I considered chocolate (like so many others) but while I love it, it is certainly not a constant source of distraction for me. Perhaps, caffeine? Breads? Exercise???

After spending several days thinking about Lent, I finally came to a decision. I have decided to give up the computer and my online sales until Easter.

Recently, I have been grappling with this idea anyway. Placing my enjoyment of the hobby and its extra income on one side of the scale and the added stress and time not focused on my family on the other side of the scale. This gives me an opportunity to truly evaluate the effect of the computer and sewing business has on my daily life.

Thank you for your support and have a Happy Easter!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Amy Butler Pattern and Fabric Giveaway!

I just could stand not telling you about this giveaway! This collaboration between Fresh Squeezed Fabrics and The Fabric Shopper. The winner receives one Amy Butler Design Frenchy Bags pattern and a $25.00 gift certificate to spend at Fresh Squeezed Fabrics. Go over and take a look at the multiple ways to enter!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

It's Monday! Get Organized!

It’s is time for Menu Planning Monday! We are still running crazy around here with practices and meetings so our menu is simple and sweet.

Sunday: Fish Sandwiches and sautéed asparagus (I used grouper. They were breaded and pan fried.

Monday: Crust-less Quiche, Oven roasted broccoli. This I made this quiche last weekend and froze it. It really comes together more like a breakfast casserole – cubed bread, 6 eggs or so, a little milk, cheese and ham or sausage, cooked. The key to it tasting “not-frozen” is to freeze it unbaked. Thaw, then top with cheese and bake. You would never know it was prepared ahead of time.

Tuesday: French Dip Sandwiches and Green beans. These sandwiches are made from baked sirloin that was then sliced. Top with sautéed onions. Then I make brown gravy from a packet and add in Liptons, French onion soup mix. The sandwiches are supposed to be dipped into the sauce. My kids LOVE that, but my husband pours his on top.

Wednesday: Spaghetti and spinach salad

Thursday: Chicken and Dumplings and spinach salad. YUM! To make this quick, I roll out refrigerated biscuits for the dumplings.

Have a fabulous week!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

It is about LOVING not being RIGHT - The Indian Talking Stick

The smell of residual smoke is in the air. It is tense. Angry voices can be heard. Far off drums are beating. The sound of stone scraping against stone is heard where the grown men huddle. Younger men are eager. Older men are solemn. The ground seems to vibrate under scurrying feet. It is humid and difficult to breathe. Older women pack dishes and clothing into messy piles and rush them into the tent. Wishing they could say something, but knowing, now is not the time. Older children push smaller children into dark tents. Babies are hushed.

Boundaries have been crossed. All could be gone. In 5 minutes? In and hour? Tomorrow? An entire people could be gone, forgotten.

Fate arrives. Angry voices are yelling, screeching. Boastful young men beat on their chest. Weapons are shaken in the air. You don’t have to understand the Cherokee language to know war is at hand.

An old man reaches from a large bag and slowly pulls out the Talking Stick. Everyone knows what this means. In an almost instant, bodies sit; yelling turns to hot glares and weapons sit on folded legs.

Everyone knows the rules and is willing to abide by them. The person with the Talking Stick gets to speak first. They get to speak as long as they wish until they feel their point has been made. No else may speak, only listen, until the talking stick is handed off to the next. Time passes. Some yell when they speak, some become frustrated, some are calm, but all get an opportunity. The yelling slowly fades and weapons sitting in laps become something to pick and twiddle instead of an object to injure.

It is over and anti-climatic at the least. Days of endless talking have resulted in tribes shuffling down a dusty path. Some young are disappointed; they wanted to show their new found strength. The wise, though, are solemn and relieved; they go hug their families. They understand that life is about love, not about who is right.

The disaster has been averted. This time it worked. It doesn’t always work, but this time it did.

I need to think about this. Does the Indian Talking Stick need a place in my family? Jesus understands love. He was willing not to just comprise, but to give it all up for love. Even for people who were determined to be right.

Here is a cute
craft tutorial that explains how to build an Indian Talking Stick.

Indians would make their own Taking Stick, decorating the talking stick to symbolize their life, accomplishments and strengths.
This site gives some great ideas for embellishing the Talking Stick. Have your kids reflect on their accomplishments and strengths as they decorate. Your family could even add decorations as conflicts are resolved.

Thanks for visiting!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Boutique Wild Child Giveaway!

Don't forget to check out Boutique Wild Child Blog! They are hosting their fisrt giveaway! Photoshop and Microsoft Digital Imaging guru, Stacy, has several digital frames for you to use for digital scrapbooking or any other digital photo projects you might have!

How do you win?? Just become a Boutique Wild Child Follower and post a comment and you are entered to win! A winner will be chosen on Friday March 6th. Deadline to enter is midnight eastern time on Thursday March 5th.

Good luck!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Frugal with the All-American Snack

My daughter is addicted to popcorn. She eats it almost everyday as a snack. I purchase a box of little microwaveable pocorn at the grocery store and *POOF* it's gone. Not to mention, those bags are not inexpensive!
A couple of weeks ago, the family was watching "Good Eats" during TV time and Alton Brown did a show about popcorn (we love this show, by the way). The episode included how to cook your own popcorn on the stovetop. Now I know what you are thinking as you begin smelling that all too familar burnt smell, but his trick actually worked. He proposed that the shape of the cooking pan/bowl plays a key role in how many kernels pop. Most store-bought stove-top popcorn is done in aflat aluminum pan. Alton says that a nice stainless steel bowl works much better because it always popped pieces to move upward and leave kernels at the bottom for more heat.
Long story short, my family tried his trick and it worked to perfection!

Pour about 2T of vegetable oil in your bowl and about 1/3 c popcorn. Cover with aluminum foil and poke wholes to let steam out. Using your tongs, gently, shake your bowl (constantly) on the stove eye.
It takes about 5 minutes total, about the same time to use the microwave, to get perfect popcorn! The frugal part?? Well, a box of microwave popcorn can cost almost $4 for 10 snack bags. A bag of just popcorn kernels costs about $1.50 and contains more servings.

Oh, one more hint. If you are still using the microwave bags, store the unpopped kernels in a plastic bag and when you have enough, cook them as mentioned above. Voila, an extra serving!

Happy Popping!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Menu Planning Monday

Well, we survived a viral attack on our family this past week. Both the kids were home a couple of days from school. This threw my schedule off a bit, but we are back in action for this week!

The past couple of weeks, I have devoted a little more time to menu planning than usual. Soccer season has started and we are all getting home later than usual so I am on the lookout for meals that can be made in 30 minutes or LESS but are also CHEAP! This is what I came up with this week!

Sunday: Pan fried pork chops, vegetable egg noodles, oven roasted veggies.

Monday: Crock pot ham and potatoes, salad

Tuesday: Sausage and Egg Hash, Almond orange apricot crescent rolls

Wednesday: Homemade Egg Rolls

Thursday: Homemade Pizza - Ok you caught me, it is frozen and I bought it from the store :)

1 package of egg noodles cooked according to directions
1 T. butter
1 small onion, sliced
1 cup fresh mushrooms, slided
1/2 bag of spinach

Melt butter in skillet. Add onions and mushrooms and cook over medium low heat until onions are transluscent. Add spinach and cook until wilted. Add to cooked egg noodles and season with salt and pepper as desired.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Macho Nachos!

This has turned into a family favorite! (shhhh, did I mention that it's healthy??)

Macho Nachos

1 pound ground chicken or turkey
1 garlic clove, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 small zucchini, chopped
1 small carrot, chopped
1 small can corn
1/2 can black beans
1 packet taco seasonings
Approx 1 cup chicken stock
Handful of chopped fresh cilantro
1 bag of corn chips or Doritos
1-2 tomatoes, chopped
1 avocado chopped and sprinkled with lime juice
Shredded cheese

In a skillet, cook chicken/ turkey over medium high heat. Add next 6 ingredients and cook until vegetables are tender crisp and onions are translucent. Add packet of taco seasoning and stir. On packet of seasoning, the directions usually call for the addition of water. Add the amount instructed but add chicken stock instead. Add cilantro and cook for another 5 minutes or so. Place chips on plate and top with meat and veggies. Add additional toppings as you want. My entire family loves this meal! Have a great week!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Envelope System Wallet GIVEAWAY!

Well, I have had it. I am tired of my debt. I don’t have a lot of debt, thanks to my ever mindful, responsible, and thrifty spouse, but my debt remains. A friend said recently, “In order to eliminate debt, you must consistently spend less than you make”. Uh yeah, I got that part. Another well intentioned friend said, “You need to set up a monthly budget”. Yep, I do that too. Over the years I have slowly come to understand why I can plan the month and still over spend. One, plastic isn’t “real” money and two; I am in charge of 90% of our family’s discretionary spending. You know; groceries, clothing, birthday party gifts, haircuts, presents, etc. Now that my real problems have been identified, I have found a remedy. It is known as an Envelope Based System. How has the Envelope System helped? Let me count the ways!

1. It is so easy to put $50.00 on that little plastic debit card and really hard to break a $20.00. I don’t know why, it is just a fact of life. A study several years ago showed that people who used debit/credit cards spent at least 15% more than planned compared to those that used cash.

2. It helps you stick with the budget that has been set up. I determined that I could spend $200/wk and have plenty for gas, food and small incidentals like paper cups for a school party. That is $800/month. That leaves me $600 to put towards savings and debt. Before using the Envelope System, I was always sweating for the next paycheck because I had spent all $1,400.

3. Using the Envelope System has made me prioritize my spending, rather than wasting it on impulse purchases.

4. The Envelope System helps prevent dipping. I definitely have a more define perspective on where my money goes and what I will need in the near future.

Sounds perfect, right?! Almost. Paper envelopes wear out quickly, don’t fit in my purse well, coins fall out everywhere and they aren’t fun to look at! But I love my new Envelope System Wallet! It has 3 labeled envelopes, a quilted change purse, and a single pocket wallet. The envelopes can have any labels you choose including your favorite Bible verse or special saying. The zippered coin purse can also be used to hold plastic, like membership cards, emergency credit cards, and insurance cards. The wallet is large enough to hold a checkbook, deposit slips and coupons but small enough to fit in your purse.

Join the Envelope Revolution by participating in N’ STITCHES DESIGNS FIRST GIVEAWAY!!
Visit Organization Junkie for details!! See ya there!

Daily Decalogue of Pope John XXIII

1. Only for today, I will seek to live the livelong day positively without wishing to solve the problems of my life all at once.

2.Only for today, I will take the greatest care of my appearance: I will dress modestly; I will not raise my voice; I will be courteous in my behavior; I will not criticize anyone; I will not claim to improve or to discipline anyone except myself.

3. Only for today, I will be happy in the certainty that I was created to be happy, not only in the other world but also in this one.

4. Only for today, I will adapt to circumstances, without requiring all circumstances to be adapted to my own wishes.

5. Only for today, I will devote ten minutes of my time to some good reading, remembering that just as food is necessary to the life of the body, so good reading is necessary to the life of the soul.

6. Only for today, I will do one good deed and not tell anyone about it.

7. Only for today, I will do at least one thing I do not like doing; and it my feelings are hurt, I will make sure no one notices.

8. Only for today, I will make a plan for myself: I may not follow it to the letter, but I will make it. And I will be on guard against two evils: hastiness and indecision.

9. Only for today, I will firmly believe, despite appearances, that the good Providence of God cares for me as no one else who exists in this world.

10. Only for today, I will have no fears. In particular, I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful and to believe in goodness. Indeed, for twelve hours I can certainly do what might cause me consternation were I to believe I had to do it all my life.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Menu Planning Monday

I was so proud of myself yesterday! I actually spent less than $100 for groceries. I did go to 3 different stores though: Family Dollar for cleaning supplies, Sav-A-Lot for items that the family is not picky about the brand, and finally Ingles for our favorite (and of course more expensive) needs. I was able to do it in about 1 hour and 15 minutes but most importantly, it was under $100. And....I forgot to get toothpaste. Never fails. Anway, here is this weeks menu. Go to Organization Junkie for more great ideas!

- Pesto Chicken and corn on the cob. Top it off with Caramel Squares. See recipe at bottom.

Monday - Black beans and rice with smokes sausage and sauted cabbage.

Tuesday - Baked meatballs and Trader Joe's frozen lasagna.

Wednesday - Dad cooks! Burgers and roasted potatos.

Thursday - Bruswick Stew and cornbread,

**Pesto Chicken**
2T. balsalmic vinegar
4T. olive oil
1/2t. dried thyme
1/2t. crushed red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, minced
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1c. slide mushrooms
Bag of fresh spinach
2T. butter
1 1/2c. chicken broth
2T. flour
1/3c. milk
1/4c. store bought pesto

- Combine first five ingredients and pour over chicken. Allow chicken to marinade anywhere from over-night to 15 minutes. Heat skillet over medium high heat with 1T. olive oil. Add chicken (marinade can go in to if you like)and mushrooms. Saute chicken until thoroughly cooked. Remove chicken and set aside. Add butter to skillet and melt. Add flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in broth, milk and pesto. Bring to a simmer and let thicken. Place a handful of spinach on the plate and top with chicken and mushroom sauce.

**Caramel Squares**
1 stick butter, softened
1/2c. sugar
2 egg yolks
1t. baking powder
1 1/2c. flour
1t. vanilla
2 egg whites
1c. light brown sugar
1c. pecans, chopped

-Cream butter and sugar; add egg yolks. Sift dry ingredients and add, mixing well. Last add vanilla. Mixture will be crumbly. Spread on a buttered 8-inch square pan.

-Beat 2 egg white for 2 minutes. Add brown sugar and nuts and and mix until combined well. Spread over first layer.

- Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until brown. Cool and cut into squares.
By the way, this is great with vanilla ice cream!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Housecleaning Schedule

Trying to live the walk and not just talk the talk, I have come to the realization that I am not disciplined in my housekeeping. Yesterday, it was suggested to start becoming more disciplined by beginning with the small things in life and getting organized. So, here it is! I sat down last night and constructed a housecleaning schedule / planner. I started by listing all the household cleaning needs then marked them as daily or weekly. I then organized the list into a chart. Here is my chart, feel free to download it and change it to meet your needs! Do you use a cleaning schedule?

Cleaning Chart

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Building the Discipline Bridge

Simple Mom calls it “Eating a Frog”, Biblical Womanhood calls it “Getting Back on Track”. Everyone seems to be talking DISCIPLINE. I believe that God calls us to be disciplined in our daily lives. Here are just a few verses that discuss discipline:

Psalm 94:12
Blessed is the man you discipline, O Lord, the man you teach from your law…

Deuteronomy 8:5
Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you.

Job 5:17
Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.

A friend was once telling me of the most frightening event of her life. It was when a fierce tornado ripped through her small town in the mid-west. Rain poured down and debris (if you call whole trees debris) flew across the yard. Once the storm had past, rescue workers rushed in. Several areas were so badly damaged that people could not access the area safely. The rescue workers responded by building bridges to the demolished areas so, they could repair or rebuild the buildings.

This bridge building is a fitting analogy for Christians. Bridges provide an access to areas of our lives that are otherwise unreachable due to a major obstacle. That bridge has a name; discipline. Discipline bridges are not easy to build; they take time and effort but once in place, actually make the journey easier.

John MacArther offers some practical advice to building bridges of discipline:

1. Start with small things like a morning routine, housekeeping goals, etc. Conquering small things help prepare us for larger things.

2. Get yourself organized. If you don’t control your time, then someone/something else will.

3. Be on time. Being on time acknowledges your responsibilities and the importance of other people.

4. Keep your word. For me personally, this means learning to say “NO” to things that I cannot fully commit to.

5. Do the most difficult tasks first. Eat that frog, right?

6. Finish what you start.

7. Accept correction from others.

8. Practice self-denial. Learn to say no to your feelings and desires. For me, this has been financial. I am denying myself of several material pleasures such as new clothes or the periodic housekeeper, in order to achieve financial goals.

9. Welcome responsibility. Volunteer to do things that need to be done. This will force obligations into your life that need to be scheduled.

Good luck! Let me know ways that you have built discipline bridges!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Book Review of Parenting with Love and Logic

I have been going through “Parenting with Love and Logic” for a while now. I must admit, when I first got the book, I was afraid it was going to be one of those feel good books or a new parenting trend that would be rendered useless in a couple of years. However, in this case I was pleasantly surprised.

“Parenting with Love and Logic” bases parenting around allowing your children the opportunity to make mistakes and then learn to deal with the consequences. As parents we are constantly directing (or re-directing), our children even in the minutia of daily life such as, “Put on a coat, it is cold outside” or “Tie your show before you fall”. Cline and Faye advocate giving your children information but then allowing them to make the choice. A typical example of their practice would be a parent informing the child that it is cold out and suggesting that they wear a jacket then allow the child to go outside or to school without the jacket if the child chooses. If the child gets cold, so be it. They will be more likely to remember or heed your warning next time.

My favorite aspects of the book are the example conversations that are given between parent and child to illustrate the author’s practice and advice. I found them to be practical and ‘real life”. I have employed several statements during family conversations that were used in the book. Topics and sample conversations are given on a variety of situations such as homework, whining, sibling rivalry, etc.

I highly recommend this book to any parent at any stage of parenting. The practices discussed here can be used with a toddler, grades-school child and teen. If you have read this book, let me know your thoughts on it too!!!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Menu Planning Monday!

Ok - I getting back on the bandwagon! I have been so excited the response that my Envelope System wallet has received! Orders and requests are keeping me plenty busy! Thanks to everyne who has left a sweet comment and helped me promote this item. I received some more fabric over the weekend and will be making the wallet in them too.
My menu plan for the week has already been messed up - in a good way. I was planning homemade chicken fingers last night, but my husband returned from a father son camping trip with left over fried fish. So we had fish sandwiches instead.
Monday - Baked Chicken, zucchini fries, brown rice.
* The chicken is in a great marinade - about 1/2 balsalmic vinegar, 1 T. fresh chopped pasrley, 1/2 t. crushed red pepper, a pinch of dried thyme, pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper. Wisk in about 1/2 cup olive oil and pour over the chicken. I did this yesterday and it has soak overnight.
Tuesday - Dad Cooks - Burgers with over roasted potatoes and sauted asparagus.
Wednesday - Crock pot roast beef with potatoes and onions. Served with green beans.
Thursday - Trader Joes Frozen Chicken Kabobs, with spinach salad, corn on the cob.
Yum! Have a great week! Find more great meals at Organization Junkie!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Spring is here!

Yes, I have been very busy, but I couldn't wait to show everyone the newest edition to N'stitches Designs! I hope this makes you think sunshine, green grass and flowers!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Budgeting Wallet

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to move to a more envelope based spending system. Why is it so hard to break that $20 bill in your wallet, but so easy to write a $50 check?? Anyway, I received Dave Ramsey’s book, "The Total Money Makeover" for Christmas. It is a great book and I highly recommend it. Dave Ramsey advocates using the envelope system for many of your daily spending needs as a way to curb excess spending. You allocate your money into the different envelopes at the beginning of the week/month and when the money is gone…it’s gone.

In honor of my New Year’s resolution I made the “Envelope System Wallet”. I am so in love with it and couldn’t wait to share it with you. The wallet features a Velcro closure and one main pocket, in which the envelopes fit using Amy Butler’s Gothic Rose fabric (gorgeous!!) The three envelopes are made in a coordinating fabric and can be removed entirely from the wallet to further enable you to stop unwanted spending. For example, if you are going grocery shopping and know that you have plenty of gas, you can remove the gas envelope to prevent "dipping". I transferred labels to each of the wallets for easy reference. I would be happy to transfer a Bible verse, saying or other labels at your request. Last but not least, there is a zippered pouch for coins, driver’s license and pictures of the kids (plenty large enough for up to 10 cards). I will be selling these on
Etsy. Come over and see!!
Do you need some extra reasons to go cash only? Be sure to visit Simple Mom!