Monday, August 31, 2009

Tackle it Tuesday...

I have fun tackle planned for the day. I was going through old home videos a few days ago and realized they aren't labeled. Well, maybe the first two or three are, but after that, the system breaks down. Isn't that typical of all those things that fall by the wayside when you have kids?

So I plan on reminising during nap time today. Maybe a little bit before then. The kids might like it. In fact, I know they would. Should be a fun way to spend some of the hotter hours of the day.

What are you tackling today?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Menu Monday 8/31-9/6

My menus seem to roll along week by week. We've been trying to tighten down a little and in the food department have done a very good job. The whole Walmart dept (diapers, wipes, film, etc) well I affectionally refer to it as "the black hole." It all seems so essential at the time, but what do we really buy there anyways? I have yet to figure it out.

So some weeks my menu sees roll over items (Thai chicken wraps which are very good, but I can't seem to get rid of them) and lots of the same budget friendly recipes. Very rarely is there something completely new. Except for that Plum Sorbet which has my mouth watering. I'm trying that one this week. With plums on sale at Grocery Outlet, it was the perfect excuse to taste a new treat.

Still on a tight budget, I try to keep things nutritious. The Tomato Basil Chicken is mostly tomatoes from my garden which are incredible this time of year. We make our Easy Thai Chicken Wraps with large lettuce leaves instead of tortillas and lots of shredded carrots. The popcorn is homemade with limited butter and the Amish Bread has reduced sugar. Just simple little things to keep in mind when preparing a budget friendly and nutritious menu.

Yogurt and Fruit
Cottage Cheese and fruit
Scrambled Eggs and Toast
Amish Bread

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sammies
Veggie Soup
Tomato Soup
Fresh Fruit

Tomato Basil Chicken Salad, fresh fruit, avocado

Black Bean Nachos, fresh fruit

Grilled Cheese, tomato soup

Veggie Pizza with this sauce

Easy Thai Chicken Wraps, fresh fruit, shaved ice

Chicken Artichoke Pasta, fresh fruit

Taco Salad

Plum Sorbet
Crackers and hummus

For more Menu Monday, check out Organizing Junkie.

Link Love

What a great list of laundry and cleaning ideas using enviromentally friendly products (@ Simple Bliss).

This Frozen Hot Chocolate (@ Lynn's Kitchen Adventures) looks like something perfect to finish off the summer.

Need a good laugh? Check out The Mom In this Picture (@ A Southern Fairytale). Reminds me that even the big bloggers are human.

Christmas in Sept???

Guess what? Christmas is coming. To make Christmas more relaxing, what if we challenged ourselves to get a few things done early this year? And on that note, what if we simplified? Take a look at this:

Throughout the next four months, I'll be posting challenges for you. Sometimes a craft idea, sometimes a recipe, sometimes a challenge to reconsider the way you look at Christmas.

Now I'm not saying you shouldn't buy anything for your kids this year. I've been watching the sales all year to find something within our budget that my kids will enjoy. But I am saying, do they really need that 10th present to finish off the pile? I know mine sure don't.

Simplify. Buy one or two things. Make them meaningful. Make them special. The less my kids have, the more they appreciate. Teach your children the value of money. And at the same time, teach them to give.

Remind yourself why you do this each year. Why do you host that open house? Why do you go to that Christmas parade? Why do you make a list and check it twice? Do your kids (or you for that matter) still use those presents you received last year? Can your sister-in-law really use another sweater?

Join us in conspiring this year. Focus on simplifying, planning ahead, and worshiping throughout the holiday season and year round.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Frugal Friday: Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

We had company for dinner this evening. There's a young couple that attends our church. She's the worship leader; he volunteers with the technology on Sunday mornings and in the preschool classroom. They're a cute couple and someone that we really wanted to get to know better. So when I needed to connect with her about worship at the women's retreat, my husband and I thought this would be a great opportunity to have them over to dinner.

I wanted to make something special, something we don't usually have. But it also had to be cheap. Company meals still have to fit into the grocery budget. So this is what I was left with: lots of produce in the refrigerator and lots of tomatoes in the garden. What to make? Vegetarian Lasagne.

Spaghetti sauce was running low, but tomatoes weren't. So scary as it was, I tried my hand at making my own sauce. And you know what, it was VERY EASY. Here's what I did:

1. A few days ago, I boiled some tomatoes just till I could peel them. Drained them and dumped them into cold water in the sink so I could get the stem and peel.

2. Blended them. You could use just the juice, but I took the seeds as well.

I put mine in the fridge for a few days 'cause I wasn't ready for it yet, but you could just jump to the next step.

3. Saute some onions and bell peppers on low. Saute some garlic as well.

4. Add your tomatoes and turn heat to low. Allow to cook down till it thickens, about 2 hrs.

5. As your tomatoes cook, season with salt and pepper as well.

This was so good. And so easy. My own word of warning, start with several tomatoes. It will cook down quite a bit.

But it was so easy and so good. With such simple ingredients, this sauce had a lot of flavor. I tried to avoid using salt, but the sauce did need it.

So try something new with all those tomatoes ripening right now. You just might surprise yourself.

For more Frugal Friday ideas, check out Life as Mom.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Food for Thought

Was surfing through a friend's link list and came across a great post. This women accurately portrayed the craziness of an overcommitted schedule. What's a 21st century mother to do? Read it. You'll love it.

Life Buffet Style- All You Can Eat

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Medford, Or's Shoji's

Last week, I reviewed an Ashland restaurant that my husband and I recently visited. This week, I'm following along the same lines and mentioning Shoji's of Medford.

Located in an old strip mall, I began to wonder if my memorable experience was just nostalgia playing tricks on me. I hadn't been there in over 10 years and was hoping that dinner would be all that I remembered. Thankfully it was!

I had talked my husband into trying this place, hoping for a fun night out. We sat down with our guests around a grill and ordered double meat chicken dinner. This was the dinner special, but arriving early (before 6 pm) will provide you with a generous discount on the regular menu. I skipped the appetizer (sunomono) simply because I didn't know what it was. It looked pickled and I don't like that flavor. Salads followed. The dressing leaves a lot to be desired. Again, very vinegary. Next time we go there, I would ask if I could swap out that dressing.

Later our chef arrived and aptly described himself as a White Samurai. As he made our dinner, he cracked light hearted, sometimes corny, but clean jokes. The commentary was accented by wacky antics at the grill. We've been there twice and both times, my husband and I have said we can't wait to take our kids there. They would enjoy it so much. It's fun for us, but when we've been seated with kids, it's been even more fun.

Dinner started with seasoned fried rice and grilled veggies. Zucchini, mushrooms, and onions were seasoned well and cooked the way I like them: not mushy. The meat came next and finally followed by bean sprouts. Each round we were served, the chef would supply us with huge portions and I would wonder how he was going to stretch the food around the table. But still after each course, he always had leftovers to offer those who wanted them.

And wow, the quantities did not disappoint. There was so much food there, we ate till we were sick that night and still had plenty leftover for lunch the next day. Despite the appetizer and salad dressing, dinner was incredible. That's what keeps us coming back for more. It's just a fun experience. And the food is well worth the price. For my husband and I, it's definately a night out, but still not going to break the bank.

If you're ever in the area and looking for a unique dinner, be sure to look this one up.

For more Works for Me ideas, check out We Are THAT Family.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Tackle it Tuesday...

This past week was full of so many tackles: getting Big Boy a new backpack, sending him off to preschoool, working on a women's retreat, and finally starting some Christmas presents. Yes, it is Aug and I did say finally. But truthfully, the best one was working in the backyard this past weekend.

We've spent so much time on the road this past summer, that the back yard with in sad need of attention. The most perplexing of all was why my roses looked so sad. I just new that I'd only moved into this house a few months ago to already be killing things. Truth be known I have the farthest thing from a green thumb and my new back yard is quite intimidating. It's beautiful and I'm so afraid to ruin it. So when the rose bushes quite producing, I started to get really anxious.

Back to this weekend, my husband and I moved the trampoline so he could finish mowing and give the grass a chance to recover underneath. I once again glanced at my sad roses and then noticed a crazy fern in the back corner that was going a little out of control. So I went back there was hacking it back, thought I'd better start learning the new drip line in the rose garden, and suddenly realized the source of my frustration.

The timer on the drip line is battery operated and what would you know? The batteries were dead. Something so simple as three AA batteries was ruining my back yard. Thankfully we had some one hand and it was a quick fix. But Lord knows how long it's been since the poor things were watered. They didn't look too happy with me.

Now hopefully they'll have some relief and get a chance to bounce back. I'd like to see a few more pretty roses before fall sets in.

For more Tackle it Tuesday posts, check out 5 Minutes for Mom.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Menu Monday 8/24-8/30

Cranberry Apple Muffins
Yogurt and fruit
Cottage Cheese

Veggie Soup
Tuna Sammies
Peanut Butter and Jelly Sammies
Carrot sticks and dip
Fruit Jello
Fresh Fruit

Dinner: Easy Thai Chicken Wraps, fresh fruit, shaved ice (from Disney Cookbook)

Dinner: Taco Salad, applesauce

Dinner: Red Robin with Uncle Caleb

Dinner: Vietnamese Fried Rice, green salad

Dinner: Pasta with Eggplant, green salad, fresh fruit

Dinner: Vegetarian Lasagna (will post recipe later if it's good), green salad, french bread

Lunch: Taco Salad, fresh fruit
Dinner: Neighborhood BBQ

Orange Smoothies
Sugar and Spice Twists
Crackers and hummus
Veggies and dip

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Frugal Friday

Back to our Cheapest Fruits and Vegetables Month by Month:

Summer Squash
Green Beans

I'm so excited about everything that's in season this month. We love summer fruits and veggies and this is a great month for them. I'm not sure any of these really need recipes. Mix up a great big fruit salad and you've got all your fruit. We like to cut up a watermelon into bite sized pieces as soon as we get it and keep it in the fridge for snacking. Goes fast.
Or how about some cut up cantalope or raspberries with vanilla ice cream?
Corn and Squash are great done in aluminum foil on the BBQ.
Eggplant Parmagiana? Or the Pasta with Eggplant that will be featured on next week's menu? Stay tuned.
Brushetta with the tomatoes?
Or how about cucumbers and onion marinated in sour cream and vinegar?
Enjoy this month 'cause winter's coming. I know we'll be getting our fill of these yummy fruits and veggies while they last.

For more Frugal Friday ideas, check out Life as Mom.

Our Hope

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:38-39

Simple Living: Part Fifteen

I usually run straight for the Mango Mandarian at Bath and Body Works, but recently at a 3/$10 sale, I picked up one of these Kitchen Lemon soaps. I have to say I think I've found a new favorite. It's so fresh smelling and yummy. Reminds me of summer in my mom's kitchen.

It's a simple thing. I love it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Planning a party....

planning a Curious George birthday party. Ideas are always welcome. :-)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ashland, Or's Pangea Restaurant

A few weeks ago, my husband and I slipped away for a few days by ourselves to celebrate our 8th wedding anniversary. We spent a few days in what is quickly becoming our favorite little getaway: Ashland, Or. Small, pedestrian friendly, and culturally savy, we love the atmosphere of small town and still so much going on.

During this last visit, we popped into a little restaurant in the middle of downtown that we had visited previously once before. Pangea is located on E. Main Street and can be easy to miss if you're not familiar with the location. Just a little hole in the wall, it serves one of the best and most varied menus I've come across. Everything we've had is good there.

Focusing on "Hormone-free, Range Meats; Seasonally Organic and Locally Grown Foods; and Exotic, Global Ingredients," the flavors are as unique as Ashland itself. While I've never been a sold out organic enthusist, I am happy to experience the richness of flavor and nutritents that it affords. And this menu is a feast for the senses.

On this most recent trip, I ordered the Free-Range Buffalo Burger Chili. The soup of the day, this chili had a warmth of flavor that was rich and smooth at the same time. Filling, hearty, and yet not heavy, a bowl was well affordable at $5.

My husband ordered the Ethiopian Spiced Chicken Wrap. Again the flavors were warm without being spicy hot. There was a spicy that just exploded in your mouth, but never lingered to burn. I'm very picky about how chicken is cooked and often leary of ordering it in restaurants. But this was incredible.

The menu is constantly changing, adapting to an ever evolving taste of an eclectic town. Check them out. You won't regret it.

For more Works for Me ideas, check out We Are THAT Family.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Nature's perfect food... free!

The kids and I spent some time at Grandma's house last week and on the top of our list of things to do was pick blackberries. In summers past I've canned a lot of jelly, syrups, etc. But our pantry is stocked to the brim with jelly, so we thought this year, we'd stick with picking and freezing.
Still, I have big plans for those frozen berries. My kids love nibbling on berries just by themselves. In fact, I had a hard time picking fast enough to keep my 1 1/2 year old satisfied. And besides that, they are great for cobblers and smoothies. Plus, I've been toying with the idea of trying to make my own yogurt and this would be a great flavor additive. All this for picking free berries in my mom's backyard. Here's some other great information on this wonderful fruit:

Blackberry Nutritional Facts

Health Benefits of Blackberries

More Blackberry Nutrition Facts

We had a great time picking berries and I love teaching my kids that the food on the table actually comes from somewhere other than the supermarket. Knowing that they have whole, unprocessed, nutritious foods going into their bodies is a delight and a true passion for me. Looking at it now, I'm excited to be developing their tastebuds for nutritious foods that will serve as body building blocks for a life time.

For more Tackle it Tuesday ideas, check out 5 Minutes for Mom.

For more Frugal Friday ideas, check out Life as Mom.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Menu Monday 8/17-8/23

Breakfast: Eggs and toast
Lunch: Sammies and fruit jello
Dinner: Potato Bar

Breakfast: Yogurt and fruit
Lunch: Veggie Soup and Tuna Sammie
Dinner: Tomato Basil Chicken Salad

Breakfast: Orange Smoothies
Lunch: Sammies and fruit jello
Dinner: Crockpot Stroganoff (friend's recipe)

Breakfast: Yogurt and fruit
Lunch: Veggie Soup and Tuna Sammies
Dinner: Taco Salad

Breakfast: Orange Smoothies
Lunch: Veggie Quesadillas
Dinner: Stirfry

Breakfast: Gingerbread Waffles
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Dinner at a Friend's

Breakfast: Leftover Waffles
Lunch: Taco Salad
Dinner: Veggie Pizza

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Frugal Friday

Staying at my mom's for a few days always reminds me of how frugal and simple life can really be. Here's just a sample of the few ways we've filled the last five days:
Water Balloons
Driving the Gator
"Working" on the Tricycle
Playing with Bigfoot (the dog)
Playing in the Wading Pool
Playing with Cousins
Picking Blackberries
Canning Salsa
Cutting Material
Looking up Apron Patterns
Making Homemade Popcorn
Playing Baseball

For more Frugal Friday ideas, check out Life as Mom.


can't figure out this apron pattern. May have to switch to half aprons.

still at home...

Berry pickin' again... hoping to keep stocking the freezer... coming to the end of my berry patch.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

10 Essential Items for New Moms' Diaper Bag

I'm visiting my mom with the kids this week so I'm reposting a prior Works for Me. Hope you enjoy.

I had a great time this weekend attending my cousin's baby shower. I'm so excited that she's having her first baby: a little boy. I can't wait to see him. She's going to be an awesome mother. Even though she's the youngest, she's always been a natural mother. This baby is very lucky.
So in honor of my little cousin, I'm posting a list of my top 10 essential items for a new mother's diaper bag:

1. Burp clothes: These are important for so many reasons. Obviously they protect you and the baby when you're burbing your child. But they're also great for a teething child or for cleaning out the bulb syringe. I mostly used cloth diapers. They were super absorbent and big for those larger messes.
2. A great receiving blanket: I carry at least two. They're great for covering when you need to nurse in public and for swaddling a fussy baby.
3. Gas drops: My pediatrician recommended that we give our son a dose every time we changed him. Furthermore, I took a dose every time to relieve gas after my C-section. It helped our son sleep better and have fewer hiccups.
4. Baby tylenol and thermometer: I can't tell you how many times both of these items calmed my nerves. As a new mom, I needed that extra peace of mind knowing what my child's temp was and knowing that I could ease his pain after those vaccines.
5. Mentholatum: I don't know why but this works. When my kids have colds, I rub a little on their feet and they get better. Simple solution, but works fantastically.
6. Nursing pads: I love those by Lansinol. They are very absorbent and economical. The breast cream by the same company is also very beneficial. You can also buy reuseable cloth pads, but I found that I produced too much milk for them to absorb effectively.
7. Wipes: I've found that the store brand wipes are just as effective as brand name. However, I always try to buy fragrance free items. With a slight history of sensitive skin in the family, I tend to avoid dyes and fragrances. Who needs 'em anyway?
8. Diapers: Need I say more? These are very similar to the wipes. Store brand are really just as effective. We tried a couple of different brands with our son. He was so long and skinny; some brands just weren't tight enough to his little body. Finally we settled on Kirkland and Pampers. But really Kirkland were just as effective at a lower price.
9. Extra hat, socks, outfit: If you leave the house without a hat, it will rain. If you leave without socks, your child will loose one. If you leave without extra clothes, your child will spit up. It's a given.
10. Snacks and drinks: for you and your child. Of course your child won't be eating right away, but when they start, a baggie of cheerios can go a long way to getting you out of Target without buying snacks and having your sanity in tact.

For more Works for Me ideas, check out We Are THAT Family.

busy morning

spent the morning picking blackberries, canning salsa, and sewing on a button... I need a nap.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Happy Anniversary to me! Waiting for hubby to get off work and call me.

Wordless Wednesday

For more Wordless Wensday posts, check out 5 Minutes for Mom.

can't sit still...

two babies sewed, a button found, and quilt near completion... can't sit still

week at Grandma's -- my life in status updates

spending the week at Grandma's so here's the first of my life in status updates:

picked blackberries this morning, making peach pies, and hoping for a sewing lesson this afternoon. oh, life at Grandma's.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I'm here...

We've been super busy. Too busy. Two more weeks and Big Boy goes back to school. But between now and then, we still have two trips planned. As summer is coming to a close, I thought it would be a good time to check up on my Summer To Do List and see what else we'll be trying to complete in the next couple of weeks.

1. Make Homemade Ice Cream--Yum! Yum! We made some 4th of July!
2. Make Homemade Kid's Ice Cream-- Haven't tried this yet. Maybe at Grandma's.
3. Go to the Fair--Hot night, but fun.
4. Move into our first house-- In the first week of June, still slowing down to enjoy it.
5. Kids' Swimming Lessons--First part of June. Kids loved it.
6. Camp at the Coast--Didn't make it this year, but camped with in-laws and church.
7. Go to the Oregon Kite Festival--Had a great time. Kids loved the beach.
8. Camp in the backyard--Haven't yet, but maybe after Big Boy goes back to school
9. Try to grow tomatoes, strawberries and lettuce-- Well, kids killed the lettuce, I killed the tomatoes. But the strawberries look good.
10. Pick and freeze cherries--Didn't make it home.
11. Pick, can, and freeze blackberries--Doing that next week.
12. Pick, can, and freeze apples--Maybe next week, maybe too early.
13. Do lots of fingerpainiting--Oh, we've had a lot of fun with this.
14. Make Homemade Popsicles--Yum! Yum! The kids love them.
15. Attend Storytime Bi-weekly-- Yeah, right. Like that was ever going to happen.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tackle it Tuesday

Here we are in the middle of a crazy, crazy summer. School is only two weeks away and we're cramming till the last minute. Oh, I can't wait for September. Hubby and I are going away for the weekend to celebrate our 8th anniversary which means Big Boy and Baby Girl are off to Nana and Papa's. And next week I'm taking the kids and going to visit Grandma. Should be crazy.

So what's not to tackle around here? Everything's up in the air. Our bathroom hadn't been cleaned for weeks and I can't believe what a difference it made to touch it up. I have laundry on my list as well today, along with packing the kids, and hostessing a women's retreat planning meeting. Anyone want to do some wild and crazy announcement promotion at my church? I didn't think so.

Honestly, I can't see far beyond the end of my nose these days. Kids, traveling, retreat planning, and trying to pick up the slack in the Sunday School. I'm so far behind it's ridiculous. And my poor blog hasn't seen any action in months. Sorry guys.

So I guess my tackle today is to getting some packing done, do some retreat planning, and trying and have as much fun as possible today before they head to Nana and Papa's tomorrow. Wish me luck.

For more Tackle it Tuesday, check out 5 Minutes for Mom.
Related Posts with Thumbnails