Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Gratitude Tuesday

Today I am grateful for Courage. My son Jonathan is one of the most courageous people I know.  He is also very ambitious.  He is curious about the world we live in and has the courage to go and explore this great big world on his own.  Two years ago he traveled to Mexico (alone) to study abroad. He booked his flight and got on a plane for the first time to Mexico City. I was so proud of him for going.  Upon arriving at Mexico city, he had to find the bus station and take a bus to Cuernavaca.  Then he had to catch a taxi to the boarding house he was to stay at. I cannot imagine flying to a foreign country, catching a bus, then taking a taxi to the boarding house all by myself.  That is courage.  Jonathan’s trip to study abroad didn’t work out for him so he came home early. After graduating, he found a job teaching Spanish at a local high school.  He paid off all of his loans and then banked the rest of his salary.  You see he still dreamed of travelling to foreign countries. After the school year was completed, Jonathan made plans to travel to Mexico again.  He visited with the family that ran the boarding house and toured all around Mexico. But still he dreamed of traveling more of the world. He applied for and was hired as an English teaching assistant in Andalucia Spain.  He had to travel to Chicago to apply for his visa at the Spanish consulate. The best part was he took his Brother with him! I love that they spent so much time together!   This was Michael’s first flight so he was very courageous to go along.  So Jonathan is preparing to leave tomorrow.  While I am grateful for Jonathan’s courage for wanting to see the world, I am praying for courage for me.  I am going to miss him like crazy—8 months is a long time.  He will miss Thanksgiving and Christmas with us.   This is HUGE because we have  always  been together for the holidays. I will need courage to make it through that.  So I am thankful for Courage—Courage that drives my child to explore the world and courage that will see me through the next 8 months.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

What's not to like about Pinterest?

I am addicted to Pinterest.  I love the great recipes, the storage ideas, the home decorating ideas and all of the garden d├ęcor.  I  have pinned tons of things I wanted to do and make.
The problems arose when I started making the recipes and doing decorating projects in my home.   The recipes had expensive ingredients, and I had to go buy things for the projects.     I wanted many new things.  Things I couldn’t really afford.  After pinning  daily for several weeks, I realized I was feeling dissatisfied with my home, my belongings and my life in general.  What good was looking at things I didn’t have and couldn’t afford?  I realized that my home, while not perfect, is a comfortable, liveable  place of refuge for me and my family.  We have adequate clothing, we have enough food to eat, and generally.... we have enough. Why make myself dissatisfied by spending my time wishing for things I do not need? So I have cut down on my use of Pinterest.  Have I given it up entirely?(please remember I am addicted to it but I now see the danger)  NO, but I am limiting my time on there and  trying to limit my pins to simple recipes and gardening tips.  I am grateful for what I have and I want to be happy about that, not dissatisfied because I want more.

Have you experienced dissatisfaction using Pinterest?



Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Jelly Making Time again!

Guess what I did this weekend!  That's right.....made three batches of jelly/jam. 2 Grape jelly and one small batch of raspberry jam.  I had several more jars than in the above pic but I gave a jar to each of  my Aunts.  I love being able to share my jams and jellies and plan on using some for Christmas gifts.    

I just love giving homemade gifts at Christmas don't you?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Healthy Chicken Salad--Whole Foods Recipe!

In my quest to find healthier alternatives for overprocessed foods, I have found a replacement for mayonaise or salad dressing--Greek yoghurt!.  My family loves chicken salad and tuna salad but I hate the fact that they contain mayo or salad dressing. By substituting Greek yoghurt I can make my Chicken salad and tuna salad much better for us. Yippee!

Here is a great rcipe for healthier chicken salad:

·         1 cup  Greek yoghurt

·         4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

·         6 teaspoons honey

·         Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste           

·         2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

·         3/4 cup pecan pieces, toasted

·         2 cups red seedless grapes sliced in half

·         3 stalks celery, diced small

·         Fresh mint to garnish

In a bowl, combine yoghurt, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to dress the salad. This can be prepared up to 2 days ahead.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Place the chicken breasts in one layer in a baking dish with 1/2 cup water. Cover with foil and bake 25 minutes until completely cooked through. Remove cooked chicken breasts from pan, cool at room temperature for 10 minutes, then cover and refrigerate.

When the chicken is cold, dice into bite-size chunks and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in pecans, grapes, celery and dressing. Sprinkle chopped fresh mint to garnish.  Awesome served plated with fresh cantaloupe!
Nutritional Info: 


Friday, September 14, 2012

Quote of the Week

A dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.
                                                                                        -Colin Powell

Thursday, September 13, 2012

My Whole Foods Journey---Continued!

Last year I started a whole foods journey for my family.  I was buying more raw foods and less processed foods.  Then life happened and I hit rock bottom with my depression and stopped trying to improve our diets.  It was all I could do to make it to work and come home and function. I didn’t care about improving my diet—quite frankly I didn’t care if I lived or died-so our diet was no big thing to me at that time.  Well, after living under a black cloud, the sun has started to shine in my life. A med change helped bring that about…I won’t lie!

So I want to continue my whole foods journey.  I purchased a dehydrator that I have been putting to very good use and have conquered my fear of the pressure canner. With these tools I can easily “Put Up“  many whole foods for convenient future use. 

I plan on only shopping the outer aisles of the Market, using more whole wheat flour, and using up the processed foods in my stash(we cannot afford not to).  I have been making all of our jelly for the last several years and that is one item we have stopped using from the market.  My husband is addicted to his diet Coke so I am going to attempt to make tea and keep it in the frig for him so we can stop buying this. This is going to be a slow process let me tell you!  I have been buying honey from a local farmer and plan on continuing this—in addition I want to phase out using so much white sugar. I want to start substituting honey in my baking.  The muffin recipe I posted yesterday can be adapted to use honey.  I am diabetic so I have to watch my carbs but I feel using natural products in moderation is better than using artificial sweeteners.

So here are my goals for the week:

1.       Only buy fruits, veggies, meat and dairy products at the market.

2.       Plan simpler meals.

3.       Make a pitcher of Tea each night.

4.       Plan one meatless meal.

5.       Find one sale item to can or dry for my stash.

6.       Use honey or sugar in the raw for sweetener only.

Wow, let the WF journey begin……again!



Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Basic Muffin Mix Recipe


This is a very adaptable basic muffin mix that I use for my family.  I keep the mix in a Tupperware container with the recipe on the label.

18 cups all-purpose flour
6 cups granulated sugar
2 1/4 cups buttermilk blend or nonfat dry milk
6 tablespoons baking powder
2 tablespoons baking soda
2 tablespoons salt

1 T Cinnamon and 2 T Nutmeg are optional.  I prefer mine without so I have a choice when making a batch.

Store in a large airtight container labeled with the date and contents in a cool, dry place.

Shelf life: 6 to 8 months. Makes enough for about 5 batches of 24 muffins each.

If desired, sugar can be omitted then stir in 1 cup honey for every 24 muffins as you make them.

To make 24 regular size muffins:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Spray Muffin Tins with PAM type spray or use cupcake liners.

In a large bowl, beat:

4 eggs
3 teaspoons vanilla extract or any flavor you would like(Lemon, Almond, Rum, etc.)
2 cups water
1 cup vegetable oil

Stir in 5 1/2 cups muffin mix and any additional (2 C fruit of your choice and/or nuts) ingredients just until moistened.  We love blueberry muffins but this recipe is very versatile-use your imagination for flavor combos. Do not over mix—lumpy is good with muffins!

Fill muffin tins 3/4 full.  You can sprinkle top of muffins with large sugar crystals prior to baking—yummy.

 Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until muffins are golden brown.

Muffins freeze well. To reheat a frozen muffin, microwave on HIGH for 25 seconds.
This is a great basic mix.  I hope you  and your family enjoy!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Frugal Find of the Week

My frugal find of this week is Angel Soft Tissues.  I was able to print off 4 coupons (using 2 computers) for 75 cents off of one box. The cost of the tissues was $1.34 per box at Wal-Mart so that made them 59 cents per box!  Not a bad price at all.  Saved $3 on 4 boxes of tissues that will come in very handy this winter!  Here is the link:  http://bricks.coupons.com/Start.asp?tqnm=xighezf24603495&bt=wi&o=103582&pt=&lang=&ws=&ct=&ci=&cl=&cp=&eb=1&c=RB&p=709c7a82-1067-45c5-b3fb-dfdfe047d8cd&z=&r=&pc=&tc=

What bargains have you found this week?



Friday, September 7, 2012

Extra Spice Storage

Good Morning! I just wanted to share an idea on how to be more organized in the kitchen. My spice cabinet is full to overflowing these days. So, I needed a way to get the excess off of my countertop and keep my most used spices handy. Here is my solution:

Plastic baskets(thrift store find), magnetic buttons(Walmart), and Quick Grip glue(Walmart)

Just let glue dry and place on the side of the refrigerator.

Now I don't have to duck everytime I open the spice cabinet door! Lol!! This would also be great for storing Kool-Aid packets, individual packets of oatmeal or anything small and light.  Skip the magnets and just hang in the pantry--on the side walls or the back of the door for out of sight storage.  You could also do this to small woven baskets as well. Wouldn't that be pretty! Maybe my next project!


Monday, September 3, 2012

Visit my new Sweet Creations by Lisa Blog!

Many of you know I love to bake and decorate cakes. Well, I would like to invite you to visit my new Blog--Sweet Creations by Lisa. Here is the link: http://sweetcreationsbylisa.blogspot.com/ 
Hope to have you follow me there!
Thanks so much,

"Puttin' Up" as My Grandma Used To Say

         What happens when you are so blessedly given green beans and tomatos?  You put them Up! At least thats what my Grandma used to call it.   Yup, my Uncle H gave me 1.5 bushels of green beans( I was happy to help pick them) and 1.5 bushels of tomatos. Well,  I had never picked beans before and let me tell you it was an experience-- I was and am still so sore from bending over and picking beans.  We did use little chairs to sit on so I guess it could have been worse but my legs and back are killing me not to mention the chiggers all over my arms.   Please remember I sit at a desk 40 hours a week and am not used to picking beans!!  It's ok....you can laugh... with me that is!

  But back to Puttin' Up.  I was able to get 12 quarts and 3 pints of tomatos and 16 quarts of beans canned or Put Up this weekend. 
   I know to some of you that doesn't sound like much but it is the most I have ever accomplished in the canning department.  I mastered the pressure canner(an avocado green monstrosity from Sears and Roebuck from the 70's) that my mom gave me!  This goal has been on my list of skills to learn for over a year so that was a huge accomplishment.  I have put off learning because I was afraid--you know you have heard all of those stories about the canners blowing up. It is so easy though.

  So here are pics of my labor over Labor Day

Oh and I dried banannas in the dehydrator. You can see the finished product in the above pic to the left of the beans on my island. Here they are in the dehydrator.
Did you know canning is addictive?  I am totally hooked.  Last night(after puttin' up beans most of the day, I was itching to can something else.  It's so fulfilling you know!  So I decided to can some of the 25lbs. of potatos I bought on sale last weekend. 
 I am addicted, I admit it freely!

So I did manage to Put Up quite a bit (for me at least).  What's canning in your kitchen?