Monday, October 19, 2009

Our Trip to Siffleur Falls

We decided to get out of town this weekend and go hiking. Every time I turned my back Jesse was climbing something and Jerry was busy snapping pictures off the fool child and encouraging the foolish behaviour...boys!!

Needless to say, we all had fun and I can't wait to plan another hiking trip!











































What a fun trip!!
Christine





Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Homemade Cleaning Supplies

I have been looking for ways to live more simply, more naturally, and to save money in the process! For years I have advocated for making things yourself instead of buying it from the store – I don’t like pre-packaged foods as a whole; yet it never even crossed my mind to make my own cleaning supplies.

I never did have a ton of different cleaning supplies, just the basics – glass cleaner, disinfectant (liquid and powder), bleach, laundry detergent, fabric softener dishwashing liquid, and dishwasher detergent. I never really did believe that you needed many different products for all the different cleaning jobs, but mainly I did not buy them because I am way to cheap, or should I say frugal, to put out the money. So why did I never make my own cleaning supplies before??? Honestly – it never even occurred to me that I could! I was just merrily going about doing what I always did, what I saw my mother do. The more I researched natural methods of cleaning, the more impressed I was! Not only could making my own cleaning products save me money, but also it was better for the environment, it was better for the health of my family and they really worked! Honestly, it had me at “save me money”!

I don’t mind putting in a bit of effort if it will save me money, if it works better or tastes better (food that is!). What is a few minutes of fun concoction mixing worth anyways??? So here is the rundown on what you will need:

Vinegar: Everywhere I looked I was finding benefits and uses for vinegar. Vinegar is a deodorizer, disinfectant, antiseptic, natural fabric softener…and so on.

Borax: Borax is usually found in the cleaning aisle next to the laundry soaps. Borax is a natural mineral and has no toxic fumes and is safe for the environment. Borax is used as a natural laundry booster and a multipurpose cleaner – it cleans, deodorizes, disinfects, softens waters and even repels and kills bugs like ants.

Washing Soda: Washing soda, like Borax, is found in the cleaning aisle next to the laundry soap. It is a pure power that comes from natural deposits and is safe for the environment. It has been said that it has been used as a household cleaner for centuries – it cuts greases, neutralizes odours, and softens water.

Disinfectant: Mix 2 teaspoons borax, ¼ cup vinegar, 3 cups water, and 2 – 3 drops of essential oil (such as Lemon, Peppermint, or Tea Tree oil).

All Purpose Cleaner: ½ cup vinegar, 2 tbsp borax, 2 L hot water, 3 – 4 drops of essential oil.Window Cleaner: Mix equal parts vinegar and water.

Rinse Agent (in your dishwasher): Vinegar (my dishes never looked better!)

Slow Drains: ½ cup baking soda, ½ cup vinegar and 2 L boiling water. Mix and pour down the drain. To help maintain fresh, clog free drains, repeat this once per week.

Fabric Softener: Mix 1 L of both vinegar and water, add 3 – 4 drops of essential oil (such as Tea Tree oil, Vanilla, Lavender). Shake before use - add 1 cup of mixture in your rinse cycle as you would any liquid fabric softener.

Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap:
1 soap bar ( I used Sunlight, as that is what I could find, but saw lots of recipes for Fels-Naptha, Ivory, Kirk's Hardwater Castile or Zote bars)
1 cup Washing Soda
½ cup Borax

Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with 4 cups hot water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted

Fill a 19 L (or 5 gallon) bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken. Stir. If using a top load machine, fill the dispenser with soap. Shake before each use.

(Note: If using a front load machine, fill the dispenser half full with soap and the other half with water)Top Load Machine- ½ cup per load (Approx. 180 loads)Front Load Machines- ¼ cup per load (Approx. 640 loads)

This works for me!!

*This is an archived post

Blessings,
Christine

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Teaching Weekly Kitchen Chores

I have said this many times before – I am not a naturally organized person – it is something I need to work at and keep focused at in my priorities. Since being organized is a priority I do lots of things that help me from being totally scatterbrained and flighty. One of the main things I do is to make chore charts – I do have a love for making lists, so I put this talent to use.

One of the chore charts I have posted in my kitchen is the children’s weekly kitchen chore. Since I have four children I assigned one chore per week per child that rotates:

Week One - Cooking
Week Two - Setting the table
Week Three - Clearing the table
Week Four - Dishes

Each child is responsible for helping in their area for one week, the next week they will move on to the new chore. It is easy. I just start each new week on Monday and there is never (okay – normally) any grumbling about helping or comparing what they are doing to what their brother/sister is doing because everyone is doing their fair share. Plus, they are getting the important lesson of how to cook for a week every month (which will help them not to starve once they move out).

Since I have a tendency to just take over and do everything myself (easier/faster/less complaining/etc) this also helps me to remember that it is important to teach my children basic kitchen tasks and responsibility.

This definitely works for me!

Christine

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

First Day of School - Chocolate Lava Cakes

Today is the first day back at school for children all over our city and my three younger kids were all up early in anticipation and excitement to see all their friends again, and in my son's case, to see if any new girls were in his class (ahem - that's my Jess).

I have to be honest, although I enjoy having some time to myself again and for our schedules to get back in tune, having my "babies" gone all day again is always an adjustment for me. I know - I am a suck, but I do miss them when they are gone - they are just so much fun to be with!

So tonight I am going to bbq an easy and nourishing supper with lots of meat and veggies and then surprise them with Chocolate Lava Cakes, which all the kids LOVE! These little cakes are rich and warm and when you cut into them chocolate pudding pours out. I serve them with a scoop of ice cream, whipping cream or they can stand all by themselves.

Chocolate Lav Cakes
* Recipe from Kraft magazine

4 squares of semi-sweet chocolate (about 2/3 of a cup chocolate chips or cut chocolate)
1/2 cup butter
1 cup icing sugar
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
6 tbsp flour

Melt chocolate and butter together. Stir in sugar until well blended. Whisk in eggs and yolks. Stir in flour. Divide the batter between four greased custard cups (3/4 cup size).

Bake at 425 F for 12 - 14 minutes, until sides are firm but the center is still soft. Let stand a minute or so then loosen the sides with a small knife and invert cakes onto a small plate. Top with ice cream or whipping cream and eat warm.

Since they need to be served warm the picture will be up this evening - sorry :)

For more recipe ideas check out Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday and At the Table!

Christine

Friday, August 28, 2009

No Post Week...

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Well, I am still alive and kicking just in case anyone was wondering and I realize that I have not posted all week!

With my husband and boys all gone and just my daughter and I at home I have been lazy about cooking and meal times. Lets see, for the last two weeks we have lived off mocha smoothies (our favorite), chicken and tuna sandwiches, salad and store bought Mexican food that can be heated in the microwave (that may contain real meat?). Not the most healthy at times, but my daughter is soooo fussy and cooking for just me does not appeal to me.

All my four boys (three sons and hubby) are due back on Sunday after being gone for two weeks and we will have one day to get them ready for their first day back at school (go back Tuesday).
September will be busy as usual and I am looking forward to lots of new recipes, meal plans and chore chart planning. I am looking forward to some routine and scheduling as I have been starting to feel a bit lazy, sleeping in a bit too much and staying up way to late, but I have lots of happy memories with my kids from this summer, so sometimes taking it easy and relaxing the schedule is worth it!

Watch for my next post on Tuesday - I promise something yummy and tempting. Besides, my kids will need something to look forward to on their first day back to school, the only thing I need to decide is whether to make something smooth and velvety or rich and gooey...what do you think?

Christine

Friday, August 21, 2009

NO PHOTOS - SORRY :(

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As you may have noticed, I have not posted any photos this week. The reason why is that my husband and three boys have left for a boys trip to Vancouver for two weeks and have taken the camera with them.

Therefore, the only photos I will be posting for the rest of August are photos taken by others and then sent to me or those already saved on my computer. Sorry everyone - I love photos too!

Christine

Specialty Coffee

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I love drinking coffee. The smell of freshly brewing coffee reminds me of happy childhood memories, of waking up Saturday mornings the smell of fresh coffee, bacon and pancakes.

Today we have many choices for specialty coffees, some which are sure to break the bank! Since I do not like to spend those high prices I have come up with some easy and frugal recipes for my favorites.

Iced Cappuccino

1 cup ice
1 cup plain yogurt
1 tsp espresso powder
1 squeeze of chocolate syrup (or you can use cocoa powder and honey)

Blend together in your blender till well mixed and frothy. If it is too thick just add a splash of milk or cream.

Mexican Coffee

Sprinkle a teaspoon or so of cinnamon over your coffee grounds in your coffee maker and brew your coffee as normal. Serve with some honey and cream.

To make this extra special, whip some cream and dollop some fresh cream on the top and sprinkle with cinnamon.


French Vanilla

I know you can buy cream for this, but how healthy is a "dairy product" that has a shelf life of months? Here is a healthier versions...

Mix 1 tsp of vanilla into a half a cup of cream, use a bit of sugar or honey to sweeten your coffee to your preference.

For more frugal tips and recipes check out Recipe Swap, Food on Fridays, Foodie Fridays, The Finer Things and Frugal Fridays.

Christine

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hair Rinses

I have that sort of in-between hair - not quite strait, but it is not really quite curly or either. In many ways it is nice because I can wear both strait or wavy styles, but both take some effort. If I blow it dry or let it dry on its own it kind of turns frizzy wavy wild - not really what I want.

I assumed that frizzy hair was my lot in life and that there where worse things, so I shouldn't complain, BUT I have been experimenting with homemade hair rinses for the last couple of weeks or so and have noticed a huge difference in my hair! No longer is my hair this wild, out of control mass that I try to flat iron into submission, it is actually silkier, smoother and shinier. Now once I blow dry my hair I just spend about 1 minute with the flat iron to smooth out a couple of strays, plus my hair looks and feels healthier and I have noticed a decrease in the amount of hair that is falling out as I shower (which was getting me a bit concerned!).

So what am I rinsing my hair with???

My Hair Rinse (made for brunettes, it has some hair darkening qualities)

1 cup of Apple cider vinegar
2 cup tea (*see below for directions)
2 - 3 drops Rosemary essential oil

Tea
1 - 2 Dark tea bag (any black tea will do)
4 tbsp dried herbs (rosemary, lavender, parsley and sage leaves are all good)

Pour 2 cups of boiling water over the tea and herbs and let steep for 2 hours. Strain.

Combine vinegar, tea and essential oils.

Shampoo as normal, then, starting at the roots, pour about 1/4 cup or so (more if you have longer hair) onto your hair and massage in. Let sit for a few minutes. If you condition your hair, you can rinse your hair then put in the conditioner or just condition over the rinse. Rinse well with cool to warm water.

I make a large batch, keep it under my bathroom sink and fill a smaller plastic bottle that I keep in my shower. This lasts me at least 2 weeks. You can omit the tea all together and just use apple cider vinegar and water, but the herbs and tea add extra shine and strengthening benefits.

For more tips and tricks check out WFMW!

For more posts like this:

Making Your Own Beauty Products

Making Your Own Bath Salts

Christine

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Happy Birthday Brandon!!

Today is my eldest son's 17th birthday...how time flies by!

On the menu tonight:

Marinated bbq steak
Garlic mashed potatoes
Roasted tomatoes
Cesar salad
Crab stuffed jalapeno peppers
Homemade icecream cake


Happy Birthday Brandon!!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

My 100th Post

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Here is what my daughter thought I did to my hair back in the 80's - pretty close eh? All I need is some blue eyeshadow, black mascara and hot pink lipstick and I may just pull it off! Time has flown by here in blogger world, and for my 100th post I will do something that I have enjoyed reading from others...

100 Things You May Not Know About Me:

1. I always have my toenails polished, and have since I have been 13 or 14. The longest I have gone without polish on my toes is maybe 4 hours and it drove me crazy!

2. I love to dance around my house - the fact that it drives my kids crazy is an added bonus :)

3. I am a bit of a sci-fi freak...I love the Star Wars movies, the Star Gate Series, the Matrix movies. My husband and eldest son like sci-fi movies, I must have got it from them!

4. I love musicals - Annie, Sound of Music, Oliver and Disney movies like the Lion King, Beauty and the Beast are a few of my favorites.

5. I am a cookie freak - and have been known to down up to a dozen homemade cookies, fresh from the oven in no time flat.

6. I serve cake for breakfast...this one is my dad's fault, he would always let my sister and I have cake for breakfast the day after our birthdays and the habit just sort of stuck. Soooo good with a cup of coffee.

7. I hate gardening - there is not much worse of a chore to me then weeding!

8. I love to read romance novels - my heart just melts.

9. I would rather get practical gifts than romantic ones - I would take a new vacuum over a piece of jewelry any day!

10. I got a new frying pan for Mother's day and was over the moon.

11. I drink coffee till 10:30ish then switch to tea for the rest of the day.

12. I was raised with alot of British roots - tea and scones anyone?

13. My favorite people to hang out with are my kids :)

14. I love watching my middle boys together, they remind me of my sister and I, watching them together soothes my soul on those over hectic days - a blessing strait from God!

15. My middle boys, Jesse and Justin, are step-brothers - Jesse was almost named Justin.

16. Although I love talking and being with others, I love my own company and hanging by myself.
17. I spend way too much time agonizing about the wrinkles on my forehead - very silly, very vain, I know.

18. When I walk I like to do so with purpose - walk like you are going somewhere!

19. I turned 34 this February.

20. I am a bit of a clean freak.

21. Piles make me go a little bit batty.

22. When I am upset my kids tell me I remind them of Storm off the X-men.

23. I have a very bad temper, which through Gods grace I can normally control.

24. Maybe my hair should be red?
25. I have a tendency to be a bit over dramatic.

26. Two of my children have gotten this trait from me - the three of us drive the other three crazy!

27. My first love language is Acts of Service.

28. When my sister comes to visit she always makes me my bedtime tea (cause she loves me so).

29. Everyone in my family are great cooks, but I am the only one who loves to bake.

30. I love going to the Rocky mountains - I can feel God's presence wash over me.

31. I am not naturally organized - I must work hard at it.

32. I was a hyperactive child.

33. I was a total dare devil and drove my parents batty!

34. I got a child just like me, now he is driving me batty!

35. I tend to lean on the side of being an over protective parent.

36. I am glad I had my kids young (all four by the time I was 22), I was more easy going and went with the flow more back in my 20's.

37. By the time I am 40 my youngest child will be 18 and my eldest will be 23.

38. I am going to look fabulous when I am 40 so no one thinks that those kids could be mine!

39. Some of eldest son, Brandon, friends saw us walking together one evening and teased him at school the next day thinking I was his girlfriend - he was mortified and traumatized by the entire event!
40. I have a precious little girl named after me - Megan Christine - she is soo much like me.

41. When my feelings get hurt I normally act angry.

42. I love double espresso lattes sprinkled with cinnamon.

43. I love to make homemade soup, but I don't enjoy eating it.

44. I didn't like meat till I was pregnant with my first child.

45. My sister did not like veggies and so her and I would switch my meat for her veggies when my parents were not looking.

46. When I was around 10 or 11 I put on a pair of my mother's pantyhose and ran up and down the street with them on - I felt guilty for years about doing it, still kind of do!

47. I have lived in the same city since I have been 5, but I was born in Ottawa, Ontario and then moved to the North West Territories, then to Florida before moving to Alberta.

48. I grew up with only girls around me, my parents friends had all girls too, my first experience with boys were my own - needless to say I was a bit shocked!

49. When my boys where little I thought they might kill me they were so naughty and busy!

50. All of my boys have broken a bone - two needed surgery to fix it!

51. My daughter is alot like me and it scares the heck out of me!
52. I have a psychology degree with a minor is sociology.

53. I met my BFF in college.

54. My husband and I met when I was 14 - he was 17 so I lied about my age and told him I was 16, I confessed a couple of days later.

55. I was a rebellious teenager and still sometimes have to fight a rebellious spirit.

56. I love that my husband grows a beard.

57. I love to go for walks or hikes.

58. I am pretty good at checkers, but all my boys can beat me at chess.

59. My kids think I am the best cook in the world!

60. I am not good at taking pictures.

61. I love taking day trips.

62. I love visiting historical sites, reading historical novels, and basically daydreaming about historical times.

63. When electronics do not work for me I tend to smack or hit them in order in an attempt to make them work - this causes my husband and eldest son great trauma.

64. I don't like the cold and the snow, but I don't think I could live somewhere that doesn't get snow.
65. When I get overwhelmed or down I dream of running off to an island where there is nobody else there.

66. I'm a screamer - I startle easy and scream in my shock. I do this in movies alot and have scared the pants off those around me and embarrassed my poor kids (he, he, he). When I saw Narnia and the fox jumped out I scream so loud and jumped so high I startled the entire theater!

67. I don't like black pens.

68. I LOVE being a mom!

69. Even though I got pregnant very young, I was overjoyed and took to motherhood right away.

70. Learning to become a good wife has not come as easily.

71. I still have a hard time convincing myself there is nothing "under my bed".

72. One of my favorite foods are hamburgers with mayo, pickles, hot peppers and Tabasco sauce.

73. I click my nails when I am upset or stressed.

74. My favorite Christmas treat is butter tarts right out of the oven (yum).

75. My favorite cake is vanilla with vanilla frosting.

76. I clean when I am irritated or cranky.

77. Sometimes my house is REALLY clean!

78. I like to write boring research papers (don't know why).

79. We have two dogs - but I am really more of a cat person.

80. I get really motion sick - in cars, planes and amusement rides.

81. The older I get the worse it is - even watching others twirl around now can make me sick!
82. I love getting back rubs.

83. I love looking through old cookbooks -the older the better.

84. The only thing I don't like tossing out or getting rid of is books.

85. I have always wanted a small library in my house with one of those moving ladders like off of Beauty and the Beast.

86. I have always love taking long showers, I find it more relaxing then a bath.

87. I have always wanted to live on a rocky cliff overlooking the ocean so I could hear the crashing of the waves.

88. I have always wanted to visit Scotland and Ireland...maybe when the kids are grown.

89. When I was younger everyone told me I should become a lawyer.
90. I love laying in the sun and napping...aaahhh.

91. I love laying in my bed in the morning and always find it hard to get up.

92. I think old cars and trucks are cool.

93. I can't carry a tune very well, but have always loved singing when no one is listening :)

94. My daughter knows how to use my phone better than I do - and she is 11.
95. I often dream of what it would be like to win lots the lottery (but I have never bought a ticket before, imagine that!).

96. When I was little I told my parents that I must have been switched at the hospital and my real family was rich and would eventually find me.

97. I am still a bit afraid of open back stairs - I watched People Under the Stairs in my youth and it scared the wits out of me!

98. I make melt in your mouth cheesecake (honest !!) - my favorite is eggnog cheesecake at Christmas (chocolate swirl and mocha are my families favorites).

99. I still love to climb and would love to go mountain climbing with my family.

100. Some of my favorite memories with my kids are turning the music up real loud and dancing around the kitchen with cleaning up after dinner.
Thanks for reading everyone!
Christine

Friday, August 14, 2009

Mocha Freeze Mini-Cheesecakes

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My daughter has been hounding me for cheesecake and since it suppose to be summer (sure not feeling like summer lately here in Alberta - what is 12 Celsius in Fahrenheit? It is cold thats what it is!), I chose a cool frozen version of her favorite baked mocha cheesecake with a super easy crust!

Mocha Freeze Mini-Cheesecakes

24 Oreo cookies

2/3 cup chocolate chips
3 tbsp water

1 pkg (8 oz) of cream cheese
1 container (250 oz) of sweetened condensed milk
2 tsp espresso powder (or 1 tbsp instant coffee powder)

1/2 cup whipping cream, whipped till stiff peaks form

Place oreo cookies in muffin tins lined with paper or foil liners. Set aside.

Melt chocolate chips with the water in the microwave. Mix till smooth (be careful not to overcook). Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

Mix together cream cheese and condensed milk till fluffy and smooth, add coffee. Pour in melted chocolate and blend till smooth. Fold in whipping cream.

Divide cream cheese mixture over the cookies. Freeze for at least 4 hours.

For more great recipe ideas check out Foodie Fridays, Recipe Swap and Food on Fridays!

Blessings,
Christine

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Easy Lip Gloss

My daughter is the queen of lip gloss - she is constantly slathering her lips with some form of shinny balm. She doesn't like any other form of makeup (yet), but she loves her lips shinny and moisturised.

I have been going through books and websites that talk about making your own beauty products and have had lots of great results, so I have been starting to branch out. Here is the lip gloss recipe that I made for my daughter (and me!) that she LOVES!

Shinny Lip Gloss
*Recipe from Janice Cox (She has lots of great recipes!)

1 tsp Coconut oil (found in any health food store)
1 tsp Petroleum jelly

Melt in a small dish and pour into an clean lip gloss container or pill box (found at any pharmacy).

Let cool and ta-da - instant frugal lip gloss! Can it be any easier???

For more great tips check out WFMW!

More posts like this one:

Making Your Own Beauty Products

Making Your Own Bath Salts


Christine

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Homemade Jam

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Among home renovations this past few days I had some Saskatoon berries that I had picked off my parents tree that needed to be used.

I typically make 5 - 6 batches of jam over the summer, which lasts us throughout the year and even give us a couple to give away as gifts. Yesterday I got a good start with two batches of Saskatoon Rhubarb and one batch of Saskatoon Strawberry. I will likely still make some Raspberry Rhubarb, my raspberry bushes are not looking so good this year and we have had a really late season overall, but even if I get one batch I will be happy.


Saskatoon Rhubarb Jam

4 cups Saskatoon berries
2 cups Rhubarb, diced small

1 pkg Reduced sugar pectin powder
2 1/2 cups Sugar

Put the fruit, 1/4 cup of the sugar and the pectin powder into a large pot. Bring to a boil. Add the remaining amount of sugar and boil for 1 minute.


Pour into sterilized jars. If the lids to not snap within a few hours then refrigerate.


(*Note: I always put my jams into a hot water bath - Bring a large pot of water to a boil, place jars of jam in the hot water and let boil for 10 minutes.)


For more recipe ideas check out Tempt my Tummy, Tasty Tuesday and At the Table!


Christine

Monday, August 10, 2009

Home Renovations and Such

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I despise messes, so home renovations seriously stress me out! When we moved into this house just over two years ago I was relieved that no serious renovations were needed - the house was painted and updated, and although not necessarily to my exact tastes, it was nice and nothing needed to be done. The previous house we had was bought with the intention to fix it us and sell for a profit, so renovations seemed to be constant and I was happy that our new house was move in ready.

About a year ago, I decided that I should paint my daughters room (well, she decided and I conceded). About 6 months after that, my middle son's joined in that they did not enjoy the bright blue paint and astronaut wallpaper boarder (come on I argued - what teenage boy wouldn't love the astronauts, but they stood firm!). So again, I conceded and painted their room.

I don't know what got into me the other day, but I was just sitting there looking around my house when I decided that not another minute could go by, that I must paint immediately. I was never fond of the red paint in the family room. It was one of those colors that you thought was okay at first, but after some time you realize that is sort of off, maybe the tone wasn't quite right, I am not sure, but all I know is that the time had come for it to go. I had put off this task due to disagreements with what color to put up and the fact that it has very high ceilings, so it would be difficult to paint.

Regardless, once my mind has been made up, the primer came out, tape went up and baseboards were pulled off before my husband could shout "NOOO"! And before he could charge after me up the stairs I had the burgundy wall in our bedroom painted as well.

With each stroke of paint I felt better and I have to say the rooms look fantastic (I will post a picture later today - my camera is dead - sorry)! I wish that I could show you some before pictures, but in my hurry to make the change I did not even think about it! Although we need to buy some new curtains and a couple of pictures for the walls, the hard work of painting and rearranging furniture is complete (big sigh of relief!).

Have a happy Monday!
Christine

Friday, August 7, 2009

Spicy Asian Inspired BBQ Pork Burgers

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I LOVE hamburgers! I don't know what I love most about them - that you can eat them anywhere, that you can make them taste so different with spices and toppings, that they are pretty frugal meal for hungry boys, or that they are a crowd pleaser!

I will buy pre-made burgers to cook in a pinch, but there is something special about a thick and juicy homemade burger, loaded high with fresh veggies on a crusty bun.

Asian Inspired BBQ Pork Burgers

3 - 4 lbs Ground pork
1 Egg
1/4 cup Soya sauce
1/2 cup Oatmeal (a healthier alternative to bread crumbs)
1/4 cup Natural bran (honest - you will never taste the bran and it gives a nutritional boost to your burgers!)

Spices:
*All spices are approximate - I don't measure, just pour or sprinkle, add to your own taste preferences :)

2 tsp dry mustard
2 tsp garlic granules
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 - 1 tsp hot pepper flakes
1 tsp ground pepper
1 tbsp parsley

Once you place everything in a large bowl, push up your sleeves and mix with your hands. Form patties that are a bit larger than your buns as they will shrink up a bit. This recipe will make 12 - 16 burgers, depending on what size you like your burger. We tend you make big, fat burgers, so this recipe will give us 12.

These make great sandwhiches for lunch the next day - a favorite for my husband and sons!

This post is linked up with Foodie Friday, The Recipe Swap and Food on Fridays!

Have a great weekend!

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Cream of Potato Soup

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I find soup calming to make and is a nutritious and frugal meal to serve hungry boys! Since I make my own stock, this dish cost me about $3.50 or so to make (that's in Canadian dollars - you will pay less in the States!) and gives us almost 6 L (or 6 quarts) of soup.

Cream of Potato Soup

4 slices bacon, diced small

2 large carrots, diced
1 large onion, diced
3 - 4 stalks of celery, diced
sprinkle of salt and pepper

6 - 8 potatoes, diced
3 cloves garlic
2 tbsp parsley
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 tsp pepper (or to taste)

3 L (aprox 3 quarts) stock (any stock or broth is find, I use chicken or turkey)

1 1/2 L of milk
1/2 cup cream (optional)
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Fry the bacon in the bottom of a large pot till crisp. Remove from heat and remove bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside.
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Saute carrots, onion and celery in the bacon fat till tender, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add the potatoes, garlic, parsley and additional salt and pepper and stir. Pour over stock and simmer on low for 20 - 30 minutes, or until potatoes are soft. Remove from heat and add milk, cream (if using) and the bacon you set aside. Stir to mix.
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Taste for seasonings, you may need to add more salt or pepper. Serve with buns or biscuits.
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For more recipe ideas check out Tasty Tuesdays, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday and At the Table!


Enjoy,
Christine

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Book Reviews - Son's of Encouragement and Lineage of Grace

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Are you looking for books that will captivate you and leave you feeling inspired and uplifted by God's glory and might? Well look no further than novels by Francine Rivers. Among other titles, Francine Rivers has written two series that outline the lives of ten remarkable people in the Bible.

Sons of Encouragement - Tells the stories of five men who worked along side of God’s chosen leaders
The Priest - Story of Aaron
The Warrior - Story of Celeb
The Prince - Story of Johnathan
The Prophet - Story of Amos
The Scribe - Story of Silas

Lineage of Grace - Tells the stories of five women in the lineage of Christ
Unveiled - Story of Tamar
Unashamed - Story of Rahab
Unshaken - Story of Ruth
Unspoken - Story of Bathsheba
Unafraid - Story of Mary

I hear many people say they love the Psalms or the gospels, but me, I have a deep love of the stories of the Old Testament. I am captivated and drawn into the struggles, pain, perseverance, disobedience than repentance, and most of all, Gods unfailing love and might. I can see my own life in these stories, but most of all I start to understand Gods true character.

I see Leah’s loneliness and see that God saw...
I see Celeb’s courage and determination and see that God was faithful...
I see Ruth’s loyalty and humbleness and see Gods provision...
I see Bathsheba’s and David’s sin and I see Gods overwhelming mercy and forgiveness...
I see these people, I read about their lives and I see God!

Although these two series are considered a historical fiction, they are very biblically accurate and readers are encouraged to be read along side the stories in the Bible. After I read them, I got my bible out and re-read the scriptures and the words seemed to jump out at me from the page. These were not just stories - but real people, who were sometimes sinful or disobedient and sometimes courageous and faithful, but God saw each of them and used each of them.

I encourage you to make Sons of Encouragement and Lineage of Grace part of your summer reading!

Other Book Reviews:

The Five Love Languages

Christine
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Friday, July 31, 2009

Making Your Own Beauty Products

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To be honest, I have just started experimenting with making my own beauty products, but I have yet to be disappointed with what I have made!

Hair Rinses:
Rinses improve the health and nutrition of the hair follicles and increases shine and bounce. It also can help with itchy skin, dry scalp and dandruff. I make both of these rinses - one for each of my middle boys.

Rosemary Hair Rinse
* Good for itchy skin, dry scalp and dandruff

2 cups vinegar (apple cider is best, but white will do)
2 cups water
10 drops rosemary essential oil

Work into your hair after shampooing, rinse with water.

Hair Rinse for Blonds
* Good for shine and has some lightening properties, especially when combined with sunlight

1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup vinegar (apple cider is best, but white will do)
2 cups chamomile tea, cooled

Work into your hair after shampooing, rinse with water.

Scrubs:
Sugar or salt rubs polish and moisturize your skin, removing the old, dull skin, giving you a fresh and glowing look.

Milk Facial Scrub
* Milk is a gentle cleanser and an exfoliant, it also makes skin soft and moisturized.

2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp milk or yogurt

Gently rub onto skin, being careful and gentle around the eyes for 2 - 3 minutes. Let sit on your skin for an additional 2 - 3 minutes. Gently wash off.

Full Body Salt Scrub
* Excellent circulatory stimulant that not only promotes healthy, glowing skin, but helps control weight gain and cellulite.

2 cups medium grind salt (sea salt, Epsom salts)
1/4 cup olive oil (healing and soothing - good for dry or aging skin) or gentle liquid soap
6 - 8 drops of essential oil (optional)

Some good choices for essential oils (combine or use alone):

Rosemary - stimulating, astringent and conditioning; particularly good for dry or aging skin
Tea tree oil - antiseptic, disinfectant, astringent
Juniper berry - soothing, antiseptic, cooling, refreshing, and is suppose to be good for cellulite
Lavender - aromatic and restorative, good for stress relief and for tired looking skin
Lemon balm - cleansing, antiseptic and refreshing fragrance, good for a pick me up

Combine ingredients in a bowl. Fill tub half full of warm water (or cool - depending on the season). Wet down you body, then rub salt mixture vigorously into your skin, starting with your hands working up your arms, than your feet working up your legs, than lastly your torso (avoid your face or open cuts). Once complete, sit in the bathwater for at least 10 minutes to allow the salt to work into your skin.

Rinse with warm water then follow with a cool rinse.

Not only is making your own beauty products frugal, but you also get the added benifit of knowing that what you are puting onto your skin is nourishing and benificial and not loaded down with chemicals or perfumes.

Today I am linked to Frugal Fridays and Finer Things Friday!

Christine

* Recipes (some adapted) have been found in Beautiful Handmade Natural Soaps, by Marie Browning; The Herbal Home Spa, by Greta Breedlove; and from notes I have made from random readings and articles.
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Espresso Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

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Making cupcakes is a nice alternative to baking a cake in that there is not cutting or slicing needed and it takes a fraction of the time in the oven, so your house does not heat up as much. We love desserts and are trying new recipes this summer. Here is one I found in Cupcakes, by Ceri Hadda.


Espresso Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

1 1/3 cup Flour
½ tsp Baking powder
½ tsp Baking soda
¼ tsp Salt
1 cup Mini chocolate chips

6 tbsp Butter
1/3 cup Brown sugar
1/3 cup White sugar
1 Egg
3 tbsp Espresso powder
1 tsp Vanilla

½ cup Milk

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Cream butter and sugars till fluffy, add the egg, espresso powder and vanilla in mix well.

Combine the dry ingredients and milk alternately to the butter mixture, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.

Bake at 350 for 15 - 18 minutes. Makes 12 cupcakes.
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For more cupcake recipes see:
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For more great recpies check out Foodie Friday, The Recipe Swap and Food on Fridays!
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Christine
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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Making Your Own Bath Salts

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Who doesn't love relaxing in a warm tub? Bath salts are good for relaxing, but they are also good for your skin and for aching muscles. Baths are not just good for cooler winter months, but are also perfect after long summer days of doing yard work, gardening, hiking and so on.

Buying bath salts can be a pricy, but making your own bath salts is easy and inexpensive and you only need a few ingredients and only takes about 5 minutes to make! Here is what you need:

Epsom Salts - Epsom salts will dissolve easily in bath water and are very soothing to the skin and muscles.

Sea Salt - Sea salts can be found in a fine or coarse grind, although a finer grind will dissolve better in bath water. Dead Sea salts can also be used and can be found in most health food stores, but are more expensive than regular sea salts.

Coarse Salt - Coarse salt can be found in large chunky crystals and are an attractive addition to your bath salts. The salt will neutralize your skin so the essential oil fragrance will cling to your skin. All salts are known to be healing and soothing on your skin.

Essential Oils - Essential oils are produced in flowers and herbs and can impart beneficial qualities. For example, tea tree oil is a astringent, which cleanses the skin and an antiseptic, which inhibits the growth of bacteria on the skin.

Fragrance oil - Fragrance oils are synthetic scents that either reproduce a scent of a natural essential oil, like vanilla, or are blended to produce a scent that are not naturally found in nature, like a rainforest scent. Sometimes fragrance oil is a good alternative as some essential oils are very expensive.

Basic Bath Salt Recipe

1 cup Epsom salts
1 cup either Sea Salt or Coarse Salt
15 drops Essential oil
5 drops Food coloring (optional)

Mix all ingredients in bowl and then pour into a glass jar. Shake lightly to mix every day for a week before using. Add 1/4 - 1/2 cup to bath water.

Refreshing Bath Salts
(This will also help with colds and flu)

1 cup Epsom salts
1 cup either Sea Salt or Coarse Salt
5 drops Peppermint oil
5 drops Eucalyptus oil
5 drops Tea tree oil
5 drops Blue food coloring

Mix all ingredients in bowl and then pour into a glass jar. Shake lightly to mix every day for a week before using. Add 1/4 - 1/2 cup to bath water.

Tropical Bath Salts

1 cup Epsom salts
1 cup either Sea Salt or Coarse Salt
7 drops Mango oil
7 drops Coconut oil
5 drops Red food coloring

Mix all ingredients in bowl and then pour into a glass jar. Shake lightly to mix every day for a week before using. Add 1/4 - 1/2 cup to bath water.

Milk Bath

1 cup either Sea Salt
1 cup of Powdered milk
10 - 20 drops of Essential oils (your favorite)

Mix all ingredients in bowl and then pour into a glass jar. Shake lightly to mix every day for a week before using. Add 1/4 - 1/2 cup to bath water.

For more tips check out WFMW!

Christine
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(If you are interested in more frugal and natural beauty tips I will be posting more on this topic on Friday)
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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancakes

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We eat alot of pancakes, I often will make a big batch that the kids can reheat for an easy and fast breakfast. If you are not a blueberry fan, then these pancakes are also nice with sliced banana's and syrup as well.

Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancakes

3 cups Whole wheat flour
2 tbsp Baking powder
2 tbsp Sugar
1 tsp Salt

3 cups Milk (or 2 cup milk and 1 cup yogurt)
2 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla
1 tbsp Vegetable oil

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside. Mix milk, eggs, vanilla and oil with a whisk or hand mixer, pour over dry ingredients and mix well.

Let your batter sit for 3 - 5 minutes and then you are ready to go.

With a laddle, pour pancake mix onto medium-hot, non-stick frying pans, sprinkle over blueberries.


Small bubbles will start to appear, flip when the pancake is golden (you can tell by how many bubbles you can see - the pancake above still needs a minute or so).

Flip over and cook for another minute or so.

Pile your pancakes high! Enjoy with blueberry syrup or regular syrup!
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For More Breakfast Ideas:
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Christine

Monday, July 27, 2009

Back from Camping

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We are back - slightly sunburned and definitely over tired! We spent the weekend fishing, swimming in a river, playing volleyball and board games and eating way too much junk food.

Today the kids and I are going to rest today and do some much needed cleaning and laundry, while my poor husband puts in at least 14 hours at work today.

Christine

Friday, July 24, 2009

Going Away

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My husband has convinced us to go camping this weekend, and although my daughter and I are not real campers, we ended up conceding.

So I have been busy packing and preparing (seems more work than it is worth to me) and have not had the time to post, but I will have something ready to go for Monday. My plan this weekend is to spend much time lazing around reading and writing (and eating alot of junk food :) ) while the boys fish.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Blessings,
Christine

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Soothing Effect of Laundry

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Soothing? Laundry? I bet that got your attention. Laundry is one of the most disliked chores for moms everywhere! It is not that it is really that bad or hard to do, it is just so continuous (kind of like dishes!).

Here are a few tips that have helped make this chore easier for me:

1. Have scheduled laundry days

Feel like you are doing laundry all the time? Well maybe you are! Pick certain days of the week to do laundry - my days are Monday and Thursday for clothes and Friday for towels and bedding. By having a break in between I no longer feel like I am always doing laundry and do not feel the stress that I should be doing laundry when I am not.

2. Get a washer and dryer that sing

You heard me right - our washer and dryer sing! We needed to replace our old washer and dryer and decided to get new, high-efficiency front loaders. What we did not know when we made the purchase is that they "sang". Whenever a load is finished it plays a little song, then again when you open the door.

Even the kids are impressed with this new purchase, my eldest son (about to turn 17) calls it our "happy washer" and has gotten joy from watching the spin cycle from the place of honour - the toilet (our washer and dryer are in our main floor bathroom).

So now, instead of an impatient sounding buzzer signaling that the load is complete and needs your attention, we hear a little song that seems to call us and by coming and opening the washer or dryer, you are rewarded by another happy little tune.

3. Hang your laundry on a line to dry

I have never done this before this summer - I started with a little line, to hang heavy clothes like jeans and sweaters, but within two weeks I feel in love and my accommodating husband and son built me a better, longer line. Now I hang the majority of our clothes, towels and bedding out to dry.

I started doing this in hopes of saving money on electricity, but what I never expected was that the act of hanging wet laundry out to dry and removing dry laundry that smelled and felt like sunshine would be so soothing! There is something about this simple act that seems to transport me back to simpler times, when life was slower, not quite so busy and high-tech. Plus, hanging all the "dainties" out on the line riles up all the kids, which makes me laugh. There is nothing quite like seeing all your boys underware swinging in the breeze to put a smile on your face - it is the simple pleasures!

I am almost ashamed to admit it, but I now LOVE doing laundry and am somewhat disappointed when there is none for me to wash!

For more tips check out WFMW!

Christine

Monday, July 20, 2009

Lemony Meringue Cookies

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I am always playing around with new cookie recipes and in summer there is nothing quite like the refreshing taste of lemon. Meringue is light and fluffy and not as heavy as a regular cookie. These cookies are lemony with a hint of coconut sprinkled on top and are perfect on a hot summers afternoon, to pack for a picnic or to bring to a pot-luck!

Lemony Meringue Cookies

4 Egg whites, room temperature
1/2 tsp Cream of tartar
1 cup Sugar
1 tsp Lemon extract

Coconut for sprinkling




Beat egg whites and cream of tartar till soft peaks form. Slowly add sugar a bit at a time, while continuing to beat.





Add lemon extract and beat till stiff.


Drop by the spoonful onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake at 225 F for 1 hour. Turn off the oven and let the cookies sit for an additional hour.


For more great recipes check out Tuesdays at the Table, Tasty Tuesdays and Tempt my Tummy Tuesdays!


Related Posts:

Mocha Meringues

Rainy Day Cookies


Enjoy!
Christine

Simply Dressing For Less

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What does your closet look like? Do you have enough shirts, tanks and pants to cloth a small village? How would you describe your wardrobe – trendy, classic, relaxed, or maybe an odds and end smorgasbord of all of the above, bursting at the seams?

Personally I would say I have a relaxed wardrobe – basic jeans, sweaters, shirts and tanks fill my closet and drawers, along with really casual wear of elastic band pants, fuzzy socks and older shirts and tanks that I use for house work.

I recently read that North American women have more clothes than almost any other place in the world; children are born with wardrobes that are already bursting out of their dressers. We want to look good right? We also want our children to look nice, but does each person in our house need as many clothes as we have?

Part of simplifying our lives is simplifying our wardrobes and our view on shopping. This has become even more important in my family as my children have become teenagers and fashion and name brands have all of a sudden become important to them and requests for clothes has become frequent and has turned from a need to a want.

Here are some hints that I am putting into practice to simplify our shopping:

1. Go shopping twice a year – spring and fall

This is an important habit that I have just started this past year. This causes us to have to do a bit more planning and makes you evaluate what you really need and evaluate every purchase more. We now take inventory about what we have for each person before our shopping trip and then make a determination about what is needed (not wanted) and then we write a list for each person.

My children get a certain amount of money to spend on building their wardrobe for the season, if they want higher priced name brand items than they can do with less or save up money prior to the shopping trip.

Then benefits of shopping only twice are huge, not only are we saving time over the course of a busy year, but less time in malls means less requests for clothes. As some of you may know, teenagers and clothes equals headache!! The boys are manageable, but my daughter wants all the new and trendy clothes and LOTS of them. Her constant requests can break even the most strong-willed person. Her power of persuasion and sheer determination when her mind is set is something to be admired, but if I allow it to become a battle of wills between her and I, I am afraid I am on the loosing end too many times. When I look into those beautiful big blue eyes I can cave if I don’t have a clear plan in place!

2. Shop wisely

Multi-seasonal - Buy clothes that are good for layering and are good in various seasons.

Multi-functional - Look for items that can be dressed up or down and can be paired with a variety of items, not just one.

High quality - For many things it is better to have 2 or 3 high quality items than 10 – 15 poor quality.

Classic over trendy - Every now and then it is fun to buy trendy item, but overall our wardrobes should be made up of pieces that are not going to go out of style.

Machine washable - Check the label before you buy – buying clothes that are difficult to care for is going to add to the time you spend cleaning.

Comfortable - Have you ever had a pair of jeans that every time you bend over you are showing half a moon? Buying clothes that don’t fit properly or are uncomfortable is a waste of money.

3. Buy fewer accessories

Some people really have a love to accessorize; they have belts, shoes, jewelry, purses, handbags for every occasion (and then some), but if you are trying to simplify your life and your wardrobe then you must also simplify your accessories.

Buy neutral hand bags/purses – that can be dressed up or down, have useful compartments to help keep you organized, and have good straps. Make sure they are comfortable to wear before you buy.

4. Do not be afraid to buy used

I have found many good deals at garage sales and thrift stores. Sometimes this means buying something for the next season (like a winter coat in summer), but if you have a place to store the item you may be able to save yourself lots of money.

5. Do not be afraid to bend the rules

So you happen to walking through a mall and you see a really good sale on items you know you actually need. Shopping twice a year does not mean passing up on all the good sales! This is not a set in stone rule, it is a guideline to help you plan your time and to move away from shopping so frequently. It is important to know when stores typically have sales to get rid of the past season and try and plan your shopping trips around those sales, but if you see a good sale in between than go for it! Just do not buy for the sake of buying, if shirts are on sale, but you already have 10, do you really need more?

6. Set a good example and teach good habits

If you children are young, remember, that if you child has 15 pairs of pants at 5 (even if every one was donated and cost you nothing), they will become accustom to that and still want 15 pairs at 13 years old. Help your children have a reasonable wardrobe, that is not excessive and bursting out of their closet and dresser, have your child help you go through what they have and determine what is really needed. Have them help you pack away clothes that your family wants to save (for a younger brother or sister), give away or sell.

Children are going to be influenced by their peers and by media, but by setting a good example and teaching good shopping habits is setting the stage for them to be able make wise choices.

For more frugal tips check out Tightwad Tuesday and Tightwad Tuesday with Canada Girl.

Christine

July 20 – 26 Meal Plan

Monday – Pork Chops with Baked Potatoes and Green Beans

Tuesday – Spicy Tomato Sausage Pasta with Buns

Wednesday – BBQ Chicken with Thai Style Rice and Bean Salad

Thai Style Rice and Bean Salad
(*Note - I have not yet tried this recipe, we can try it together!)

1 cup Rice, cooled
1 cup Corn
1 cup Black beans (cooked and cooled)
1 Onion, chopped
2 Ribs celery, chopped
1 Red pepper, chopped
1 Jalapeno pepper, chopped
1/4 cup Cilantro, chopped

Dressing:
2 tbsp Sesame oil
1 tbsp Rice vinegar
1 tbsp Lime juice
3 Garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp Ginger, minced

Thursday – Egg Strata with Crusty Buns

Friday – Sunday – We will be away from home at camp, so whatever they serve!!

Breakfasts - Yogurt with fruit and granola, toast, cold cereal or muffins (essentially - you must fend for yourself!)

For more meal planning ideas check out Menu Plan Monday!

Have a happy week!
Christine

Friday, July 17, 2009

Using up Leftovers


One of the ways that I try and stretch my grocery dollars is to using up my leftovers. There are some times when the teenage boys eat every last scrap of food at dinner, but often we have leftovers.
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Last night we had bean salad for dinner and since I made a large portion, I was expecting leftovers. Roll-ups are a great way to use up leftovers - just toss in whatever you have and roll it up! No matter what you stick in there it normally turns out delicious! Here is what I made my boys for a mid-night snack (literaly, it was mid-night, but we had been out at the local fair):

Leftover Roll-Ups

Sour cream
Grated cheese
Leftover bean salad
Leftover meat in the fridge
Leftover vegetables you have in the fridge

Load up what you want on your tortilla and wrap it up. We had some leftover corn and tuna that the boys tossed on theirs as well. Frugal, nutritious and will fill up hungry boys (and hungry husbands - I tossed two in his lunch for today as well).
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For more frugal tips check out Frugal Fridays!

Have a happy weekend!

Christine

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Cool and Refreshing Bean Salad

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Beans are an easy, frugal and nutritious addition to any meal. I have been experimenting in new recipes for beans, as one of my goals is to add more beans and lentils into my families diet. Everyone in my family really enjoys beans, so this should be a pretty easy challenge, but in the past I always used canned beans, not dried. I have no idea why it took me so long to make the switch, dried beans are way less expensive and by making the entire dish myself, I control the ingredients that go in. I guess I was just put off from the time it would take, but with just a bit of planning and a slow cooker it is way easier than I thought it would be.
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I have serious cravings for food that is spicy, like make you cry spicy, so I will be serving up some fiery hot chicken drumsticks (which is adapted from a chicken wing recipe I found), but to cool down our palates, I decided to make a refreshing bean salad and will also be serving fresh carrot and celery sticks with homemade ranch salad dressing for those who just love to dip. This is a fun meal that everyone will be happy with!
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Bean Salad
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2 cups dried beans (any combination you like)

1/4 cup olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice (about 1 good sized lemon)
1 - 2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1/2 purple onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
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The day before:
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Rinse off your beans and check them over for any stones or beans that do not look good.


Place your dried beans in a bowl and cover with cold water, let sit and soak for 8 - 24 hours (This step is not necessary, but helps the beans become more digestible and decreases the over all cooking time). Transfer to your slow cooker, add three cups of water for every cup of beans. Cook them on low over night - about 8 - 10 hours.
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Mix up the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper in a small glass container. Shake to mix. By mixing the dressing the night before the garlic will infuse the oil and have a more mellow taste, not such a sharp taste.
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The next day:
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Drain and rinse and transfer to a bowl. Let cool in the fridge for 4 - 6 hours.
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Once your beans have cooled, add your chopped vegetables and pour over enough dressing just to coat, toss to mix (if you have extra dressing, save it for a salad the next day). Place back in the fridge until you are ready to serve.
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Easy peasy right?
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Related Posts:
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Christine

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Q & A: Simplifying Your Life

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I have gotten a couple of questions on Simplifying Your Life (Part I, II and III) that I would love to answer:

"You mention your family’s "beliefs, goals and priorities" in the last couple of posts. I'd be interested to learn what your family's beliefs/goals/priorities are and how you established them. Was it a formal process with the whole family? Are they written down somewhere? Etc.

This was an interesting question to me and made me really think about how we first started establishing our priorities as a family. I would not say that we have a formal process that the whole family was involved in, but it did all start with a discussion with my husband and I years ago. Our children were pretty young and we were getting a lot of “advice” from well meaning friends and family on what they should be able to do, or should not do, I was getting pretty frustrated and my husband, after listening to me ramble on for some time, finally just looked at me and said “in our family we choose ________, it is that simple”. I left out the particular situation because it doesn’t really matter, it was his statement that left me feeling at peace and more free to make choices for my family based on what we thought was best – not what others thought was best.

This conversation made me start thinking about all the conversations my husband and I had in the past, things that we had both said were important to us and I started making more and more parenting decisions based on simple statements that we had agreed on. We came to an agreement on what we thought about things like leaving our children alone (at home and at activities), sleepovers, tv/movies/games, and so on. Decisions became easier, less stressful and based on what my husband and I thought was best for our family, not what others where doing or thought.

I also have certain goals and priorities that are personal, based on what I think God is calling me to do in my family. You can see the shorten version of this in my sidebar:

I will…

Once a year we have a family meeting to discuss our Lead Roles. Each person needs to explain how they feel they did over the last year and state any goals they have for their areas for the upcoming year. These goals are discussed and can be added to by other family members, but need to be agreed upon. This is important when dealing with big issues such as finances, it confirms that my husband and I agree on our goals and that the kids know what we are working towards, but even in the smaller things, like snow removal, it gets the kids thinking about how they did and how they can do better. Each summer I go through our Chore charts and Lead Roles and make any adjustments that I feel would work better or add any additions due to being a year older.

In short, I believe that it is up to my husband and I to come into agreement for what our family’s beliefs, goals and priorities are, but as the mother and wife, I set the tone for how those play out in our family.



“I need small steps. How do you do it? Do you have a daily list? try to keep a certain amount of free time?”

I do have lists; I find that if I have a list of what needs to be done it is more likely to be done! I have a weekly outline of what to do:

Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday

Thursday
Friday


I also have Spring and Fall Cleaning and De-cluttering lists and Weekly Cleaning lists, which I don’t always follow perfectly, but having a list takes out the guess work. I am not a naturally organized person (as many friends will concur), I have to be specific about planning my time to keep my family and myself organized.

For more tips on everything from keeping organized, getting out stains or great recipes check out WFMW!


Christine

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

No-Roll Biscuits and Oatmeal Muffins

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I do a lot of baking to help cut down costs – and who doesn’t love fresh biscuits? But often they seem like just a bit too much work. Here are two easy recipes that do not require any rolling and you can have them mixed and in the oven in 5 minutes flat! Since these are just biscuits and not loaves, cooking time is around 1/3 of the time, which means that you are not heating up your house for long during these hotter summer months (I say hotter with a hint of sadness, as we have had below temperature weather, with no really “hot” weather yet :( )

No-Roll Biscuits

3 cups Flour
2 tbsp Sugar
5 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
½ cup Margarine

1 Egg
1 cup Milk

In your food processor mix together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add margarine.

Mix until crumbly.

Pour into a large bowl (repeat if making a double batch) and make a well in the middle (hole in the middle).
In a medium bowl mix together milk and egg(s) and pour into well. Stir lightly to mix, the batter will be sticky, if you are feeling like it is too dry, add a bit of milk, but do not kneed. Drop dough onto a cookie sheet in large clumps.

Bake at 450 F. Cooking time will vary depending on the size you made your biscuits, check at 10 minutes, but can take up to 18 minutes. You can tell they are done when the tops are golden brown.

No-Roll Cheese Biscuits

2 cups Flour
4 tsp Baking powder
¾ tsp Salt
1 cup Grated cheddar cheese

¾ cup Milk
1/3 cup Vegetable oil

Combine four, baking powder and cheese in a large bowl and stir to mix. Add milk and vegetable oil and stir to incorporate.
Drop dough onto a cookie sheet in large clumps.


Bake at 400 F for 35 – 40 minutes.


I grew up with a love of oatmeal (my mom has some Scottish roots) and although my mom never did a lot of baking, she did make oatmeal muffins. Sometimes she would leave them plain, or other times she would add raisins or chocolate chips (which of course was my sisters and my favorite). My kids have also grown up eating oatmeal muffins, and eating them takes me back to fun times when I was a kid.

Oatmeal Muffins

2 ½ cups Flour
2 cups Oats
½ cup Brown sugar
2 tbsp Baking powder
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Cinnamon

2 Eggs
2 tbsp Molasses
½ cup Vegetable oil
2 cups Milk (or 1 cup milk and 1 cup yogurt)
2 tsp Vanilla

1 ½ cups of raisins, nuts or chocolate chips (optional)

Mix together dry ingredients and make a well in the center.
Beat eggs till frothy, add remaining wet ingredients and mix well. Pour into well and stir only to moisten, batter will still be lumpy, which is fine.




Pour into greased muffin tins.


Bake at 400 F for 16 – 20 minutes. Makes 24 muffins.


I always freeze muffins so that my kids can have easy food to grab when they are in need of an easy and fast breakfast or a snack. Just place in the microwave for 20 seconds on a medium heat.

Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins

This is a great variation of the above muffins, good if you have to use up some applesauce.

2 ½ cups Flour
2 cups Oats
½ cup Brown sugar
2 tbsp Baking powder
1 tsp Salt
2 tsp Cinnamon

2 Eggs
1 cup Applesauce
1 tbsp Molasses
½ cup Vegetable oil
1 cup Milk (or ½ cup milk and ½ cup yogurt)
2 tsp Vanilla or Maple

Topping: 1 tbsp EACH cinnamon and sugar

Mix together muffins as stated in the above recipe, just sprinkle the topping over the muffins before putting them into the oven.


For more recipes and ideas check out Mouthwatering Monday, Tightwad Tuesday, Tuesdays at the Table, Tasty Tuesday, Temp my Tummy Tuesday .

Christine