Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Daddy's Home!

As I spend time focusing on prayer and gratitude, I find myself being thankful for the unexpected blessings resulting from Dave's job loss. Aside from God making a way for us financially, the biggest blessing has been having Dave around more! For the past 10 years, he's worked 50 hour weeks. He missed the fun of lazy Saturdays around the house with the kids and eating dinner together in the evenings. Some days, he'd leave for work before the kids were up and didn't get in until after they'd gone to bed. And the stress of the job put a tremendous physical and mental strain on him as well as the family. It's so frustrating to see someone one you love dealing with such crap day in and day out and not having any power or control over the situation. Towards the end, it got to the point where the precious time we did have together was difficult and frustrating as the job was never far from Dave's mind.

But now, I have my husband, my friend and my support back! And the kids are getting wonderful quality time with Daddy. The change in Dave's disposition has been remarkable. He smiles more, laughs louder and is more present - not just physically but also mentally. He has a new perspective on work, one which he'll take with him in whatever new opportunity God brings his way. When that new opportunity does come along, I know our schedule will change again. But for now, we are enjoying having Daddy home!

Monday, June 29, 2009

No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.

Isaiah 54:17

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Grow Kombucha Mother - Check!

Kombucha Mother

I did it! I grew my very own Kombucha mother!

Look how lovely and thick she is!

The next step now is to allow the kombucha mother to ferment in a gallon of sweetened tea for 5 days.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Around the House

The dining room is getting a splash of color - Caribbean Sunset.


Somebody is finally getting the hang of the potty!!! Just when I thought I was going to have to send that boy off to college in pull ups LOL!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Harris Teeter Super Doubles

Made a quick trip this morning by Harris Teeter for the Super Doubles coupon event. I didn't have much on my list so I'm glad I found the stuff I really wanted!

3 Garnier Fructis stylers - sale 2.50 - 1/1 Q doubled = .50 ea
3 Dawn Pure Essential - 3.55 - 1.50/1 Q doubled = .55 ea
1 Bayer Low Dose aspirin (for my Mom) - 2.99 - 1/1 Q doubled = .99
1 Lifeway Strawberry Kefir - 3.59 - 1/1 Q doubled = 1.59

Total oop: $6.63
Total savings: $23.35

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Momma's Salmon Patties

I've seen plenty of variations around of this salmon croquette recipe but I'm partial to my Momma's of course! She used to make these growing up and it was one of my favorite meals. I was happy when I finally perfected the recipe on my own.


1 can Wild Caught Alaskan salmon

1 egg, local & free-range

1/2 - 1 cup organic sweet onion, diced

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

A few tablespoons of oil for frying - I've used olive, organic extra virgin unrefined coconut oil and butter before. Whatever is on hand.

1. Empty can of salmon in a bowl. Don't be alarmed by the flesh and bones! Speaking of bones, the bones are small and completely edible. I believe they even contain calcium and thus some health benefit. However, to suit our family's palette, I remove the bones. If you carefully separate the fish into chunks, it makes it easier to remove the backbones in one piece.

2. Using a fork, mash the fish.

3. Add in diced onion, egg and whole wheat flour. Combine ingredients.

4. Take a scoop of the fish mixture and form into patties.

5. Fry for a few minutes on each side until browned.

I usually sprinkle my cooked patties with a bit of Redmond Real Salt before serving.

That's it! Simple yet tasty.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Our New Normal

Well, we have our first full day of thriving despite job loss under our belts. Our Father's Day was quite peaceful and relaxing. While Dave and the babies went out to get donuts for breakfast (a special treat), I spent some time outside on our back porch soaking up the warm summer sun. The breeze smelled so sweet and the warmth of the sun was like the tenderest of embraces. Dave loved the Kale & Sausage Frittata I made him for breakfast! I used this recipe but made changes according to the items I had on hand, all of which came from our lovely farmer's market. Later, we headed out to a nearby park to play with the kids. It was quiet and most importantly shady! We delighted in the swings, the slides (the twisty slide was really fast!) and explored the tree-lined paths and bridges. It also seemed fitting to me the name of the park was Optimist. Dinner was our favorite pizza buffet, followed by an evening stroll in our neighborhood. Reedy squealed with delight at the sight of the fireflies dancing across the yards. And so did I :) Later in the night, I came across the EWTN broadcast of the Holy Rosary. I prayed along with an old rosary I found buried in my nightstand. Meditations on the Glorious Mysteries - of hope, faith and perseverance.

It was a good day. Filled with a multitude of simple joys that a job loss can't take away.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day

Happy Father's Day Honey!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

As Expected...

Dave was let go from his job this evening. While we were expecting it, we figured it would be after his return from his upcoming vacation. I'm feeling a bit numb. The only thing that is upsetting me right now is that it puts a damper on what otherwise would have been a great Father's Day weekend for Dave. And lots of questions whirling around in my head about COBRA, whether I should cancel our upcoming medical appointments, what we should do with Dave's 401k. But as I was telling Dave, we really have only two options at this point - give up or move on. And giving up is not really a viable option. The future looks better, but there's also so much uncertainty.

I need to stay focused on our blessings. We're in good health and so are the children. We still have one full-time income coming in. If need be, we could join the health coverage at my job because Dave's termination would be considered a qualifying event. We have our savings. Dave will get unemployment (hopefully a decent amount since he was with the company for 10 years). The mortgage is paid ahead. Dave will be home more. He now has an opportunity to find a better job/career path that's less stressful, with better hours. God is still in control.

How Much Stuff...

Can a 2 year old fit inside a toilet? Let's see...

6 mega blocks
1 can of shaving cream
1 mustard squeeze bottle from the kitchen set
1 plastic cup from the kitchen set
1 Polly Pocket
2 Polly Pocket outfits
1 Spiderman monster truck
1 King (from Cars) Plymouth Superbird diecast
1 toothbrush
1 large coffee mug from Walgreens
1 book (5 Little Monkeys)
1 box of Q-Tips

Friday, June 19, 2009

Memories of My Deddy

And no, the title isn't misspelled. We always called our father "Deddy" instead of Daddy. Probably a country thing :)

This song brings back great memories of my Deddy. He was such a calm and patient man. When I was a little girl, he'd let me ride with him on the tractor while he was plowing the fields. I'd steer and he'd work the pedals and the gears. Thinking back on those moments, that must have been a really hot ride for him especially under the warm Carolina sun. And I'm sure it slowed him down more than just a bit. But he let me "help" because that was just his gentle way.

I also remember sitting between him and my Momma in his old pickup truck taking our trash to the dump (no fancy waste pickup in the country LOL!). We were going down a dirt road through a field, when he let me take the wheel of the truck. Somehow, I managed to hit every huge bump in the road. We all laughed the entire way to the dump. It was just one of those small moments filled with such incredible joy and love that I will always cherish it.

And when it came time for me to practice driving for my learner's permit, my Deddy was the one that would pick me up from school and let me drive home. He'd also let me drive him into town to run errands. My Momma was way too nervous to ever think about riding with me. But my Deddy was always there, giving gentle and patient instruction.

I miss you Deddy. I wish you were here to see the woman I've beome. To give your kind, fatherly guidance to my husband and delight in my three beautiful babies. I know you would just soo love them to pieces!

Alan Jackson - Drive

Sunday, June 14, 2009

First Harvest

Sweet Basil

We were blessed with the first harvest from our little container garden this weekend - fresh basil! Nothing smells more lovely than fresh cut basil. Since we were having homemade pizza for dinner last night, I added a few basil leaves on top.

Pizza Night

For Pizza Sauce:

15 oz can organic tomato sauce

3 oz organic tomato paste

1 tbsp local honey

1/2 tsp dried basil

1/4 tsp dried oregano

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

Combine all ingredients and heat through over low-medium heat. For us, this makes enough sauce for three medium sized pizzas.

For pizza dough - I love, love this very easy pizza dough recipe from Tammy's Recipes. It only requires a 5 minute rise and it freezes very well if you want to make dough ahead of time for busy nights. I do make the following changes to the recipe: I use all whole wheat flour, a whole packet of yeast, honey for sweetener and I omit the salt.

Before placing the dough on the pizza crisper, I roll it out onto a floured surface and sprinkle with organic corn meal.

Top with sauce and organic mozzarella cheese, then add desired toppings. We did an organic sweet onion and green pepper mix with fresh basil leaves from the garden.

Bake at 375 for 20 minutes.

Balancing Beauty and Bedlam - Tasty Tuesday

Friday, June 12, 2009

Baby Step 3 Update

It's been awhile since I've provided an update on our Total Money Makeover goals. We are currently on Baby Step 3 (building an emergency fund representing 3 - 6 months of expenses). To date, we are over halfway to our target number and should reach our savings goal by the end of July! BUT with storm clouds on the horizon surrounding Dave's job, we might find ourselves in budget crisis mode. I would like to reach our goal before anything happens, but am thankful for what we have set aside already. It certainly puts us in a much better situation than we would have been pre-Dave Ramsey, when a job loss would have most certainly sent us into credit card debt.

One of the challenges we are facing in Baby Step 3 is maintaining the focus on our larger goals. We've become a bit relaxed in our spending in some areas, particularly eating out. It has left me wondering if we (mainly I) would have the discipline necessary to get us through any impending rough patch. It's easy to say I would cut back on affordable luxuries, but could I really do it? Would I be able to rise to the occasion with a spirit of frugality and resourcefulness?

Money Saving Mom - Monthly Financial Check Up

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Summer of Gratitude & Prayer

St. Monica
Patron saint of Wives & Mothers

As summer draws near, I've been thinking about my summer project list (I love lists!). Just things I want to do - some practical, some spiritual in nature, over the next few months.

First and foremost, I want the summer to be marked by a renewed sense of gratitude. I know how very important it is to give thanks for our daily blessings both big and small. But I don't consistently make the effort to do so each day.

I also want to begin a more prayerful existence. When I entered the Catholic Church back in 2002, I took Saint Monica as my patron saint. To me she epitomized what I wanted to become - a godly wife and mother entrenched in prayer. That's what I want to become, but most often, I find myself only going to God in prayer when trouble arises. When it's for certain its a situation I can't control. And through the years, I feel a distance has grown between me and Christ. I desire the close, personal relationship I once had, but find myself fearful of taking the steps towards that. But I'm continually hearing "Seek ye first" being whispered to my heart, so I know prayer really is the first step I must take.

With the kids, I'd like to relax and say yes more. Make sure we get plenty of visits to the library in this summer (and make sure we get our books back in time!). And to help keep Ashleigh occupied, replenish the craft supplies so we can work on some of the projects at No Time For Flash Cards.

I need to go ahead and get our garden started. I've been not so patiently waiting for the peppers and tomatoes to do "something" before transplanting them. But I realized they're in toilet paper rolls with only a small bit of dirt, so there's not really much they can do in their present environment. So I'll be moving them to a bed/containers in the near future. And if the tomatoes really take off (which I'm hoping they will), I'd like to learn how to can/preserve them. That would really help the grocery budget!

I'd like to make sure I get some good reading in this summer. I love to read but find myself constantly picking up books then putting them down unfinished to start another book. On my reading list is Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach. An old favorite that I've read parts of for many years but have never read completely through. I'm still trying to digest Nourishing Traditions, but I think I might take a break and pick up Nina Planck's Real Food: What to Eat and Why. I need to pick up a good book on gardening and either read or return a book about the history of Muscle Cars a co-worker lent me.

A few things to do around the house. Finish painting the dining room and current play room (future family room). We're almost done with the priming. The ever present project of decluttering and organizing the house. I'm also working on a simple, more flexible home caring routine ala Simple Mom.

I'm working on a new blog called The Working Home Keeper. I feel there's a need for an increased voice/presence for mothers who balance both home and working outside of the home among Mommy bloggers. I do find it funny that before starting the new blog I felt like I had alot to say on the subject. But now, I can't think of anything to say LOL! That's why there are all of three posts on the blog.

Other things on the list - enjoy some lazy summer days, sip lemonade, eat watermelon, see the fireworks on the 4th, peruse the shabby treasures at the flea market, catch fireflies in the backyard and hopefully make our way down to Wrightsville Beach.

Those are my summer plans, what are yours?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Kyle Busch Is A Rock Star!

But he raised a few eyebrows after smashing the Sam Bass designed Gibson guitar trophy following his Nationwide Series victory Saturday night in Nashville.

My other bad boy driver Robby Gordon won out in the desert at the Tecate Baja 500. And Tony Stewart captured his first points victory as an owner/driver at Pocono! I had a feeling Tony would do well this year despite going out on his own.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Can I Do It?

In the past six years, I've managed to grow three beautiful, healthy and happy children. But can I grow an entire symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast? I don't know but I'll give it a try!

Food Renegade - How to Grow A Kombucha SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Good Music

Jamie Foxx is so funny and talented! I loved his rendition of this George Strait song. Goes to show good music is universal :)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Weekend Festival

Weekend festival at the Fairgrounds

Feeding the animals

My handsome little man

My handsome big man

Ashleigh & Clayton going for a drive

The big Super Slide

Ashleigh went down all by herself!

1910 Nichols-Shepard
30 on the draw bar
120 on the belt
12 plow
1 of 5 left
Another antique tractor

Clayton's favorite - lawnmower racing!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Dirty Rice with Pork Sausage

With all the buzz about swine flu, one might be hesitant to feed their family any pork products. But thanks to our local farmer's market, I know exactly where my meat is coming from. I know how the animals were treated, the conditions in which they lived and what they were allowed to eat because I can actually speak to the person that raised my food!

The pastured pork sausage I buy at our farmer's market is not only delicious, but provides an inexpensive way to incorporate quality pastured meats into our diet without breaking the bank. Because pork sausage crumbles easily when cooked, you can use less and stretch your meat further. One of our family's favorite sausage dishes is this adaptation of the Hillbilly Housewife's Dirty Rice with Fresh Ingredients.

1/2lb local, pastured bulk pork sausage (I use a mild, sage flavored ground sausage from the good folks at Pine Knot Farm)

1 organic green pepper, diced

1 cup diced organic yellow onion

3 cloves minced garlic

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1 tsp paprika

2 tbsp organic soy sauce (I use Eden Organic shoyu sauce)

1-2 tbsp water

1 -1 1/2 cups organic brown rice, cooked

Cook and crumble sausage in skillet over medium heat until brown. Drain fat if needed. Add diced green pepper and onion and minced garlic to the sausage. Cook until peppers and onions are tender. Add cooked brown rice to the skillet along with red pepper flakes, paprika and soy sauce. Add 1-2 tbsp of water to the skillet to keep the rice from sticking to the skillet. Mix well and heat for a few more minutes.

We like to have this dish with steamed, organic corn on the side (which we usually mix in) and shredded, raw milk cheddar cheese on top!