Thursday, April 30, 2009

Edible Accents

A basket of lemons & limes make a colorful and fragrant centerpiece in the kitchen

A glass of Jamaican Lemonade anyone?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Our Azaleas are in bloom!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Goodness Grows in North Carolina

My Local Bounty

Taking the No GMO Challenge last week, inspired me to get up Saturday morning and take a trip to our local farmer's market. And what an experience! For the first time, I actually got to speak with the person who grew my food! I inquired about their farming practices, how the animals were treated and what diet they ate.

I learned the strawberries were picked from the field the day before. And along with the tomatoes and cucumbers were grown pesticide free. The Angus beef came from a farm where all the animals are born there and thus known from "conception to table". The cows are raised on native pastures of grass and clover, never given hormones or antibiotics and never confined to a factory feedlot. The farmer who supplied the eggs told me about how their chickens walk about the farm eating grass and bugs, leading a happy chicken life. She even invited me to come visit their farm so the kids could see the animals and enjoy the rope swing. Good ole' North Carolina sweet potatoes still covered in dirt and a bar of goats milk and honey soap, crafted by hand. All local. All within an hour from my home. From the farmer's hands, straight to mine!

From Farm to Plate

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Summer-like Sunday

A summer-like Sunday afternoon

Deserves a summer-like dinner!

Sloppy Joes on organic, whole wheat sprouted buns with sweet potato fries

1lb local, grassfed Angus beef
1/2 c diced organic green pepper
1/2 - 1 c diced organic sweet onion
15oz can organic tomato sauce
1/4 c organic ketchup
1/4 c organic barbecue sauce
1 tbsp organic sucanat
1 tsp dry mustard
pepper to taste

Brown meat along with diced onions and green pepper. Drain fat. Stir in remaining ingredients, simmer covered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. If sloppy joes are too soupy, uncover until desired consistency.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Treasures of the Day

This morning's yard sale was wonderful. The crowd wasn't too big, our wait outside for the church to open wasn't too long and the check out lines moved along efficiently. I was hoping to find some shorts for Clayton, but I literally came up short! Plenty of baby boy clothes but not alot of big boy clothes. Among my favorite buys of the morning was this dress for Ashleigh

And these two vine baskets

However, the real treasure of the day was simply sitting outside and watching the kids revel in the beautiful, summer like weather. They ran, rode bikes, talked to bugs, blew bubbles and splashed in the cool water from the spigot. Sometimes I look at others with outward signs of wealth and think, how lucky. But this afternoon, I experienced the real wealth which so abundantly exists in my own life. The diamonds in my own backyard.

Southern Hospitality - Thrifty Treasures

Yardsale Morning!

I'm up early this morning to head out to a fantastic church yard sale with Dave! I'm not much into yard sales, but we attended a yard sale at a local church back in December and I became hooked! Especially with the prices for the kids clothing - $1 for clothes on hangers, .50 for folded items. That beats thrift store prices! I'm on the hunt for summer clothes for the kids. Also looking for some cute stuff for around the house.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Town Hall For Hope - TONIGHT!

Dave Ramsey's Town Hall for Hope is tonight!

Click here to find a venue in your area hosting the event

Or watch coverage on Fox Business Network beginning at 7 PM EST

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Taking the Challenge!


Today I'm joining in on Real Food Media's No GMO Challenge!

What's GMO?

Genetically Modified Organisms

And they are rapidly becoming a part of the foods we eat each day. Right down to our chocoloate chips!

Why am I taking the challenge?

Because as a Mother and consumer, I want to know the food I'm buying and preparing for my family is safe.

To join in on the challenge, visit Real Food Media. This is a rolling, 30 day challenge to educate and raise awareness about GMOs. Perfection is not needed (which is perfect for me!)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

It's Just Simple!

In posts and articles about homemade cleaners, price is often bought up. Sure it maybe cheaper to make your own cleaners if you are used to paying full price at the grocery store. But for those of us who have spent some time combining sales with coupons, conventional cleaners are often gotten for free. Can't get much cheaper than that! So my budding love of green cleaners has nothing at all to do with price. For me, it's just simple!

The ingredients are simple. Just water, vinegar and baking soda.

I enjoy putting together simple cleaning recipes in my kitchen. I can also tailor the solutions to my liking with essential oils. Tea tree and lavender are much more pleasing scents to me than fake lemon.

The space underneath my sink is becoming much less cluttered as I'm clearing out bottles of various cleaners. Now there's more room for my compost bucket!

I don't have to worry about doing a separate wash for the cleaning rags now. Since there's no harsh chemicals that could cause damage to our clothing, I just throw them in with the regular wash now.

Less worry about the kids getting into something harmful and less exposing their little bodies to chemicals.

Just better for the our home environment and the earth!

I doubt my Mother will give up her beloved Gain laundry detergent and Downy fabric softener for a tub of homemade detergent and vinegar. And since she's the one that so graciously does the laundry for all six of us, I'm not going to complain. So our home won't be completely chemical-free, but every little bit towards a healthy environment helps!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Packing A Better Lunch Box

One night as I was packing Ashleigh's lunch box for school, I realized we were completely out of paper towels. What to do, what to do? Ah-ha! Back in the depths of the kitchen drawer, was a stack of cloth napkins long forgot about. They had been banished to the back of the drawer after my Mother accused me of being pretentious for using them one night many years ago for supper.

What began as a temporary solution has now become a permanent part of Ash's lunch box! Not only does using the cloth napkins cut down on waste, but it helps reduce our consumption of paper towels. And as a family of six, disposable paper products is an area of the grocery budget I'd like to rein in a bit more.

Even though I'm not much of a seamstress (read - I can't sew AT ALL!), I'm thinking it wouldn't be too difficult to find some squares of fabric and make cloth napkins on my own. I could probably even hand stitch the edges. I sense a new project in the works!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Mini-Makeover - Kitchen

Sometimes, you need a change.

There is alot we would change about our circa 1970's house if money were no object. The wood paneling in the family room, the harvest gold master bath, the faded lime green carpeting in the living room. But in the meantime, we're learning to be content with what we have and make small changes as we are able.

A few weekends ago, I decided to do a mini-makeover in the kitchen. Just one small corner. Here you will see our open storage in the kitchen. At the height of my couponing, we decided we needed extra pantry space. So we bought two bookshelves from Target and put them in the kitchen. You'll see it's a bit cluttered with plastic baggies of bulk goods and some boxed items that aren't apart of our diet anymore.



Since our need for extra storage space has decreased (less boxed items, less space needed), I moved one of the bookshelves out of the kitchen. It not only makes the kitchen look more open, but it also makes the space more functional. You can now easily access the light switches and the plugs that were hidden behind the shelves before. And use the cafe table next to the shelf. I also went through and purged any items that contained high fructose corn syrup and/or too many additives.

The top shelf now holds some of the bulk goods in glass containers that I've been buying from the thrift store. For the spices and remaining bulk items I didn't have containers for, I placed them in baskets nabbed from the kids' bedrooms.

Now, I just have to figure out what to do with the wall space above the cafe table. It's screaming for something. I really liked the look of the herb crates in this Lettered Cottage kitchen makeover. Something similar with baskets matching those on the shelf would be cool. Also loved this framed fork idea at The Nesting Place.

One small space at a time, we're crafting a home we love!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Nourishing Breakfast - Soaked Oatmeal Blueberry Muffins

As a working mother, week day breakfasts at our home not only have to be wholesome, but also quick since time is precious! Aside from soaked oatmeal and green smoothies, muffins are another week day breakfast staple. Muffins are not only portable for breakfast on the go, but also make great lunch box additions!

One of our favorites is Oatmeal Blueberry Muffins. It's a basic but very versatile muffin recipe. When I've not had fresh or frozen blueberries, I've easily substituted bananas or ground flax seed and on occasion have just made them plain.

Soaked Oatmeal Blueberry Muffins

1 1/4c organic rolled oats
1 c whole wheat flour
1/3 c organic sucanat
1 tbsp baking powder
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 c butter, melted
1 c fresh or frozen organic blueberries

Overnight, soak the rolled oats and whole wheat flour in 1 cup of water with a tablespoon of organic lemon juice added.

If you're new to the Nourishing Traditions methods like I am, you may wonder what the soaked oatmeal and flour are going to look like in the morning. Sort of like muffin paste, but don't worry!

In the morning, add the egg, sucanat, baking powder and melted butter to the soaked oats and flour. After adding these ingredients, I let my batter sit for a minute just to moisten the soaked oat and flour mixture a bit. Blend ingredients together. Slowly fold in 1 cup fresh or frozen organic blueberries.

Fill greased muffin cups and bake at 425 F for 20-25 minutes. Then enjoy!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Small Attacks

Maybe it's just the small town, Southern Baptist girl coming out in me. But at times, I feel like I'm under attack. And as often the case, it's nothing major but small. Take last night for instance. I'm washing the dishes before bed. I'm actually enjoying the task, something that I've struggled with since our dishwasher bit the dust. All the troubles of the day seem to be flowing down the drain when suddenly, the hot water pressure goes away. Dave just installed the new faucet himself (so proud of him!) last week, so I'm standing at the sink baffled. The cold water worked fine but not the hot. Dave comes downstairs to try and figure out what's going wrong. In the process of trying the fix the hot water, water starts spewing from the hose underneath the sink and the water shut off valve gets broken. So now our kitchen sink is inoperable and we have to pay someone to come out and fix it. Ugghhh!

Considering past occurrences, this should have been expected. It really seems like every time we reach some personal or financial goal, something happens. This week, we just reached the halfway point of our Baby Step 3 emergency fund goal. The sink breaks. Last year after we completed our initial emergency fund, the upstairs shower broke and the roof in the sun room developed a leak, damaging the hardwoods. As we neared the end of paying off our debt in Baby Step 2, Reed was admitted to the hospital, the transmission and water pump in our van needed to be replaced and Dave's car also had engine issues. And then as we finally did pay off our last debt, the dishwasher broke. Coincidence, I'm beginning to think not!

Small things irk me, to the nth degree. Being aware of this, I'm trying to stop before I react. To realize that in the grand scheme of life, these "things" aren't important. And that maybe my attachment to them is too great. But why so many numerous attacks on such a small level?

It was after reading Jenn's post this morning about A Woman Inspired Conference, that the small attacks began to make sense. In short, God seeks our obedience with the small things. He wants our "yes" in those areas. So it makes sense the enemy would attack on the small level! Therefore, my defense has to be saying yes to God with each setback and frustration. Finding His lessons for me in each small trial and not giving myself over to the negative feelings the enemy would have me believe.

Slowly, I'm learning.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

That Was Quick!

The seeds the kids and I started a little over a week ago, have already started sprouting! I guess when you start late, it doesn't take long for the exciting stuff to happen LOL! The long, tall seedlings are tomato plants and the smaller ones are the basil. Still left to do on our container gardening checklist is get some containers (a must!), more soil and get the lettuce and bell pepper seeds going.

Earth Day Means Green Coupons!

As Earth Day (April 22nd) approaches, be on the look out for more green and organic coupons and rebate offers. Last year, a lot of stores also offered deals for free reusable shopping bags. I've already picked up a copy of the Go Organic for Earth Day coupon booklet at Kroger. So keep your eyes open for more green deals!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Sunday

And when the sabbath was past, Mary Mag'dalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salo'me, bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.

And very early on the first day of the week they went to the tomb when the sun had risen.

And they were saying to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the door of the tomb?"

And looking up, they saw that the stone was rolled back; -- it was very large.

And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe; and they were amazed.

And he said to them, "Do not be amazed; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen, he is not here; see the place where they laid him.

But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you."

Mark 16:1-7


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Eggs

Are we the only ones who do NOT eat our dyed eggs?
They just seem too pretty to eat to me :)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Holy Thursday

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread,

and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, "This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me."

In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me."

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Legend of the Dogwood Tree

Photo Credit

In Jesus' time, the dogwood grew

To a stately size and a lovely hue.

'Twas strong and firm it's branches interwoven

For the cross of Christ its timbers were chosen.

Seeing the distress at this use of their wood

Christ made a promise which still holds good:

"Never again shall the dogwood grow

Large enough to be used so.

Slender and twisted, it shall be

With blossoms like the cross for all to see.

As blood stains the petals marked in brown

The blossom's center wears a thorny crown.

All who see it will remember Me

Crucified on a cross from the dogwood tree.

Cherished and protected, this tree shall be

A reminder to all of my agony."

~ Author Unknown

Monday, April 6, 2009

More Green Cleaning

The pine china cabinet my Daddy built is absolutely glowing! I found this great recipe for homemade lavender furniture polish. Just a little unrefined coconut oil and a few drops of lavender essential oil. The smell is heavenly - so fresh and inviting! I've never been so motivated to go throughout the house and polish furniture LOL!

Earth Fare also featured two natural cleaner recipes in their Healthy Savings publication this month.

Natural Tub & Tile Cleaner

1c water
1 c vinegar
1/2c hydrogen peroxide
30 drops lavender essential oil

ETA: I'm seeing comments from this thread at Passionate Homemaking, that mention vinegar and hydrogen peroxide should not be combined together as it changes the properties of both (okay to use together, just not mix). Also if using hydrogen peroxide for cleaning mixes, it should be stored in a brown colored bottle.

Natural All Purpose Kitchen & Bathroom Disinfectant

2c water
1c vinegar
2tsp baking soda
15 drops tea tree & eucalyptus oil
30 drops orange, lemon & lavender essential oil

*I added 15 drops of tea tree oil to the above tub and tile cleaner recipe and basically used it as an all purpose cleaner. Worked great and I loved the scent of the tea tree oil!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Grocery Shopping - Back to the Basics

After last week's grocery budget disaster, I went back to the basics and revived my price book to get on track with this week's grocery spending. Not only is a price book a useful tool in determining stockpile prices and sales cycles, but using the recorded prices can give you an idea of how much your proposed shopping list is going to cost before stepping foot in the store. On paper if things aren't quite fitting within the budget, you can easily adjust your menu plan for the week. For me, I find it much easier to plan out my trips on paper first than try and make huge revisions in store!

Whole Foods

2 gallons 365 whole organic milk
3 Synergy kombucha
2 loaves organic whole wheat bread
1 365 brand organic long-grain brown rice
1 Annie's organic cheddar bunny crackers
1/2lb organic green lentils (bulk)
2 cans 365 brand Wild Alaskan salmon
1 can 365 brand organic coconut milk
1 can 365 brand organic tomato paste
1 bunch organic Dino kale
1lb organic rolled oats (bulk)
1/2lb organic raisins (bulk)
1 Eden Foods organic shoyu sauce
1lb organic broccoli bunch
5lb bag organic russet potatoes

Total oop: $64.24

Earth Fare

2 cans Muir Glen organic chunky tomato sauce 28oz
1 Zico coconut water
1lb grass fed ground beef (local)
2lb organic bananas
1 container whole organic mushrooms 8oz

Total oop: $20.52

Lowes Foods (apple juice B2G3F - $6.08), Target (diapers - $17.33) and ALDI (toilet paper, paper towels and dish detergent - $5.84)

Total spent: $114.01

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Container Garden - Getting Started

The kids and I took advantage of the beautiful weather today, to get started on this year's container garden! We're probably a month behind in getting our seedlings started, but such is our busy life :)

Today, we put the seeds for the organic Roma Paste tomatoes and Genovese sweet basil in toilet paper roll seed starters. Originally I thought about using a fish tank as a greenhouse for our starter rolls. But I found the rolls actually fit nicely in a large, plastic salad mix container. Once we get some more organic soil mix, we'll get our heirloom Rouge de Grenoblouse lettuce seeds started. Plus I'd like to pick up some green bell pepper seeds or seedlings.

Can't wait to get our little garden started again this year!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Need A Getaway?

I heart Wrightsville Beach!

Need a mental break from the constant gloom and doom talk?

Go On A News Fast - Take a break from the 24/7 news coverage and turn off the TV.

Start A Gratitude Journal - I've been keeping a gratitude journal since I first read about the idea in Sarah Ban Breathnach's Simple Abundance several years ago. Each night write 5 things from the day for which you are grateful. Doesn't have to be anything major. Some nights you might be thankful the day is just over! But it helps to shift our thoughts towards to the blessings we have (big and small) even during stressful times.

Make a List of Your Simple Pleasures - This is another idea from Simple Abundance. Create a list of those small, ordinary parts of life which bring you joy. Sometimes they are so much apart of life that they can be easily overlooked. For me, it's the way Reedy's lips curl when he smiles. Or the feeling I get when I see Dave's car pull into the driveway at night, knowing we are finally all home and safe. Or eating an exquisite piece of chocolate. Writing out the list brings to your awareness the small joys you experience each day.

Focus Outward - Turn your attentions to the needs of others. Charity doesn't just mean large monetary donations or work out in the mission fields. It can begin at home with those who are around you each day, it can be a smile as you walk past a stranger, a held door or a simple thank you.