My faith

I'm a Mormon.

Friday, July 31, 2009

It is interesting that yesterday I decided I would dedicate Fridays to why I love being a mom. Today I took my 17 month old to a nearby duck pond. We had a lot of fun feeding the ducks, but as we were getting ready to go, she started throwing a tantrum. A crazy, insane, throw my body into violent convulsions type of tantrum. She screamed and jerked the entire way home. She screamed louder if I tried to talk to her, distract her, offer her a graham cracker, etc... 25 minutes later we were home, and the tantrum continued. I finally turned on Signing Time, which sort of helped, then gave her some grapes.
I still have no idea what was wrong. But what I do know is that I sure was at my wits end about what to do with the dear little thing. I kept my cool for the most part, it is a good thing we were outside, because I probably would have yelled at her to knock it off if we had been inside.
Am I still grateful to be a mom? Yes. I definitely am. Now she is napping, and reflecting on the prayers I said to know what to do, I'm not sure that they were specifically answered, but at least Heavenly Father helped me to keep my cool. That is a pretty big miracle.
Sometimes I just need to remember this thought from Jeffrey R Holland, a leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

"You are doing God's work. You are doing it wonderfully well. He is blessing you, and He will bless you, even--no, especially--when your days and your nights may be most challenging. Like the woman who anonymously, meekly, perhaps even with hesitation and some embarrassment, fought her way thought the crowd just to touch the hem of the Master's garment, so Christ will say to the woman who worry and wonder and week over their responsibilities as mothers, 'Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole.' And it will make your children whole as well" ("Because She is a Mother," 37).

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Google Calendar

Check out the google calendar at the bottom for my own meal plans. I use different websites for inspiration, but I also have to consider my owns tastes, and what I have on hand.

One thing I discovered this week: going meatless is SO easy! Mon-Wed we had meatless meals, and it was great! You can still get all the protein you need, it takes a lot less time, and you save SO much money!

Meatless week.

Sorry, I'm still trying to figure out a good schedule for posting. I'd like to do something more consistent, and I think this is what I will do:

Mondays: Meal plan Mondays

Wednesdays: Book review of a book, which may or may not be related to frugality, meals, parenting, relationships. In fact, it might just be a review of a book I read in order to fill my own bucket a little (which I think it a good idea.)

Fridays: Fabulous Fridays: Posts on why I love being a mom!

Saturdays: Special Days: Home organization and simplification tips!

I think I can keep up with 4 days of posting a week! And of course, if anyone has ideas to share, please do! I like to borrow ideas from any source I can find. That is the whole point of this blog, for us all to help each other by sharing ideas!

If you have a blog, please share a link for this blog so we can get more ideas going and help more people!

Giveaway Winner(s)

Since only 2 people entered (sad, don't you have trust in my crafting abilities?) I decided they are both WINNERS!!

So Jamie and Shalyse, I will send (Jamie I will probably hand deliver) your prize by next Wednesday. Shalyse, can you email me your address so I can send you your prize? Congrats ladies, and don't worry, this prize will be so great!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Puffy Boxes

These would be so fun and easy to make. They could be great for little gifts for friends' birthdays, or for your kids to give for friends for Christmas. All you need is scrapbook paper and ribbon, and something to go inside. We'll probably use them for favors for my sister's baby shower this fall.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Just a thought:

If your toddler takes a nap from 7-7:45 pm, chances are they will still be awake at 9:37 pm. Even if you are tired and would like to go to bed yourself. In fact, you might even find them jumping on the bed, squealing, and jabbering away!

So cute...:)

Bottom line: maybe delay the nap, so it actually becomes bedtime! :)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Simplify Supper

My little sister shared this AMAZING site with me! It's called "Simplify Supper." Basically, it is what I was trying to accomplish with my weekly meal plans, but was having a hard time staying on top of. I kept trying to look up meal plans with shopping lists, but all the sites I found cost money. This one, however, DOESN'T! Yipee! So check it out!! You'll be glad you did! :)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Re-use tips

I thought I would share a few things that I re-use around my home!

Yogurt, sour cream, or cottage cheese containers! These can be used for a variety of purposes! 1. Storage: forget the zip lock containers, you can easily store leftovers, cut fruit/veggies, and a variety of other fridge foods in these, as long as you have the lid!

2. Storage: if you buy bags of rice or beans, these make great containers too! Just make sure they are completely dry before storing (and only use for short-term storage!)

3. Toy storage: If your child has little toys, these are perfect.

4. Writing utensils: perfect cup for all those pens. You can even get creative and decorate!

5. Tub/water toys. Little ones LOVE dumping water. Keep a few for the bathtub. You can even poke holes in the bottom of one for a neat strainer. Or take them outside to the kiddie pool so you don't lose all your real cups!

6. Any other ideas for these containers?

Jam jars (or other glass containers with metal lids).

1. Once again: get crafty! You can make this yummy Brown sugar body scrub and store in a glass container. Or you can decorate the lids (use some goo gone if there is any glue from the label left) and give away as gifts.

2. Use them to store leftover sauces.

3. I'm out of ideas on this one: what do you do?

Any other ideas? Please post and I'll add them!! Thanks!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Relationship tip!

This thought first came to me at my childbirth class. We were practicing giving each other encouragement, and discussed that during labor it is important to be able to do this easily. What a wake up call! I think most of us can point out many things we'd like to fix in our spouse/family/friends/etc...but how often do we look for the good? If you're like me, you are used to constantly picking out the things that bug you about the person/people you love dearly. I've been thinking about how I can work on this and have a couple of ideas.

1. DON'T say it!
First, I have decided that every time I have a negative thought about someone I love (myself included), the most important thing is to NOT say it. Not to myself, and especially not to them. Whether it's "why can't he see how tired I am and do the dishes for me and then rub my feet?" or "you never do anything right!" or "my child is just a living terror!" it is essential to keep these thoughts to myself.

2. Replace the bad with the good!
After I have mastered holding my tongue, the next step is to replace those negative, debilitating thoughts with positive ones. Our children do so many amazing things, why do we pick out the bad ones to showcase? My spouse helps me in so many ways, so why is it when I'm tired I want to gripe about how he isn't helping me right that second? My mom did such an amazing job raising me, why should I complain about 1 habit that bugs me? When those negative thoughts come, REPLACE them by thinking of at least 3 positive things about that person. It can start simple with something such as "I love the way he makes me laugh," or "she is always willing to help anyone." or even "her hair is such a beautiful color!" Even if the only nice thing you can think is superficial, it's a start!

We might start out only being about to think of 1 nice thing, and if we are angry or hurt, we might not be able to think of anything at all. My sister suggested keeping a journal of your spouse's good qualities. That way, in the heat of your anger when all you see is red, you can remind yourself how much you love that person. Or you can just try and remember your wedding day, or a time you were very happy and felt a lot of love and appreciation for that person (maybe the first time you held them if it is a child who is particularly troublesome.) The goal would be to think of 5 great qualities whenever you have a negative thought about that person. I think this helps with empathizing also, since you realize the behavior that bothers you isn't being done just to make you mad or upset!

3. TELL them!
Once you are able to quickly overcome those negative feelings, and replace them with positive, appreciative thoughts, it is important to tell that person the positive thought. This can go a long way in healing relationships. If you have a history of being very negative with that person, they may think something is up at first, and your sincere efforts could be looked at as phony. But keep going, and pretty soon I'm betting you'll start receiving positive, loving encouragement as well!

So, a day at your house might look something like this:

Church was crazy, your kids were naughty, and it has been a hectic day. You haven't had a moment to rest, but you come home and prepare dinner for the family you love. You are happy to do it since you are hungry and know everyone will appreciate it. In the middle of your preparations you toddler starts screaming because they want to be held. Your first thought it "why can't my husband just come and help, doesn't he know I'm busy. He's so lazy! I'm tired and just need a little help!" You catch yourself and realize that your spouse is definitely not lazy, and remind yourself that he got the kids ready for church and there on time while you were at meetings. You recognize his contribution and think maybe he is tired too and just hasn't thought about dinner yet. You think of other times when he has been helpful, how hard he works to provide for the family, and then, now calm, you find him and tell him how much you appreciate his help during the day. Then you say "the baby loves playing with you, would you mind distracting her while I finish dinner?" He gladly agrees, and is excited since he didn't realize you had started dinner and he is hungry.

This scenario may be slightly similar to one I should use more often! Some people would look at it and say "your spouse should just anticipate your needs and help without being asked." To those people I would ask "do YOU anticipate everyone else's needs all the time?" Maybe you do, especially if you are a mom. The point is not to change your spouse into some he/she is not, but to let them know you love them no matter what. Telling yourself what someone should do to make you happy won't help the situation, won't change behavior, and is pretty pointless, since you are in charge of your happiness, not anyone else.

4. One other tip I have is to check out the site: Immunized against infidelity. I love the thought that we are in charge of our relationships and can make them beautiful, remembering that happiness does not depend on what happens outside of us, but inside!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Menu Planning classes

The USU extension in SLC has free menu planning classes. Check it out!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Shopping tips

Some tips my sister was telling me (and they sounded VERY smart!)

1. Look at your local grocery ads for the week and plan your meals around what is on sale!

2. Budget! And stay on budget!

3. Shop every week, but ONLY once a week. If you forgot something you need, too bad, don't go get it unless it is vital.

4. Shopping list. Go through cupboards and look at what you can have and use. Keep the list on your refridgerator so that the minute you run out of something (like ketchup or salad dressing) you can put it on your list so you don't forget and end up making more than 1 trip a week.

5. Keep coupons to a minimum. If you need something, look for a coupon for that thing. Don't buy something just because you have a coupon for it! (Thanks Shalyse!)

Meal plans

SO sorry, I dropped the ball on this week's meal plans. I planned it out for myself on Sunday, but haven't gotten around to posting it. Having a toddler has taken almost all my time this week! Whew! So I will just post 7 days worth of meals, and you can take or leave them!

Before I list the meals, I must mention how I went about my shopping this week. First, I bought all my produce and some meat that was on sale at Sunflower Farmer's market. I spent about $40. (Weekly budget is $75). Then I went to Smith's and was hungry. I went over my budget because I bought things I could have made, bought things that looked good, etc. Bottom line, STICK to your budget, don't shop hungry, and the cheapest foods are whole foods, not manufactured foods. If you really need to save money, set aside time to make snacks instead of buying them. :)

This week I'm just listing dinners, and am not including a shopping list.
Day 1: Pork Roast and mashed potatoes. (The roast was on a great sale.

Day 2: Pork sandwiches and French Fries (conveniently utilizing leftover pork!)

Day 3: Chicken Noodle Soup (not the best for summer, but I had a leftover fryer chicken I just boiled to get the meat off the bones. It was really easy!

Day 4: Tortilla Casserole. This is in the oven as we speak. Hopefully it is good. See Recipe at bottom.

Day 5: Chicken Fingers and fries (lovin' potatoes this week, sorry about the Fries repeat, I guess I needed the fat!)

Day 6: Sweet & Sour Chicken with brown rice: See recipe at bottom

Day 7: Chicken Divan

Tortilla Casserole Recipe:
1 lb ground beef (using less, or even substituting beans would be fine!)
1/2 onion, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 c water
2 small cans tomato sauce
12 floud tortillas
1 8 oz cream cheese
2 c shredded cheese.

Spread cream cheese inside tortillas and roll tight. Place side-by-side in baking dish. Brown ground beef and onions, then add spices. Mix tomato sauce with water. Add to hamburger mixture and pour over tortillas. Sprinkle with cheese, cover with foil, and bake at 350 for 25 minutes.
*I would add 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp basil to the spices to give it more flavor. I also might turn it into an enchilada by putting everything inside (adding refried beans and green onions). It is a relatively low-sodium meal.

Sweet & Sour Chicken Recipe: (I love this one!)
8 chicken breasts, cubed

Dip: 1-2 eggs and cornstarch(mixed well). Lightly cover chicken and fry until crispy. (I used canola oil and don't deep fry, just shallow)

1 c sugar
2 c vinegar
3 chicken bullion cubes
1/2 c ketchup
3 TBSP soy sauce
1 cup canned pineapple (can be crushed or cubed)
1 green bell pepper, diced.
Mix all together.

After frying chicken, remove, clean out pan, and replace chicken. Then pour sauce over the chicken. Heat until bubbly. Serve with brown rice and steamed veggies for max nutrients! I halved the recipe and had enough for 4 people! I also chose the easier method once and just bought a bottle of S&S sauce. So it's an option. You'd probably need 2 bottles for the full recipe.


I decided to become a true blogger and have a blog GIVEAWAY!! Woot! This first giveaway will be simple:

I will be giving away something very cute and handmade by me. I promise it will be good!

Here are the ways to win:

1. Leave a comment with your email address
2. Become a following of this blog and leave a separate comment letting me know you are a follower.
3. Leave a comment sharing a helpful "frugal" tip.

3 Chances to enter! The giveaway will close July 25, 2009!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Healthy Granola Bars!

One of my goals that will help with saving money, as well as eating more healthfully, is to make my own snacks. Most snacks are high in HFCS, salt, MSG, trans fat, dyes they are much more expensive than making your own. And if you have kids that are old enoug, you can get them involved in making the snacks. What kid doesn't like to help "cook" if given the opportunity?!

Here are a few ideas:

1. Homemade granola bars: Try this recipe. It was delicious, chewy, and you can really do a lot of things to add variety (different nuts, dried fruits, add a few chocolate chips on top, etc. It made 16 granola bars for less than a box of 10 would cost! TIP: if you don't have waxed paper and use foil instead, make sure you spray with non-stick cooking spray!

2. Homemade popsicles. Or as I like to call them "juice-cicles." Just take 100% juice and put it in ice cube trays. After about an hour, or once the pops start to freeze, put in some popsicle sticks. YUM! You can always buy the fancy popsicle molds, but this is the cheapest way! And MUCH healthier. You can always pour your favorite yogurt in the trays and achieve the same thing, just with different nutrients and some protein! COOL!

3. Trail mix: make you own, and use unsalted nuts. That way you only have to put in what YOU like!

4. Apple smiles. Cut apples into wedges. Smear peanut butter on one side of 2 wedges. Stick a few raisins on the peanut butter on one of the apple wedges and top with the other apple wedge - peanut butter side down. It looks like a smile! YUM!

5. Fruit leather. Yes, there is sugar, but at least YOU control the amount and you know exactly what goes into it!
Wash fruit well. Remove stems and seeds, you can peel the fruit if you wish. Slice or chop fruit and place in a food processor or blender and puree. To prevent discoloration, add a tablespoon of lemon juice if you wish. Purée adding a minimum amount of water or juice if necessary. Purée should be the consistency of molasses or thick applesauce.

If you wish to cook the fruit, pour the purée into a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring continuously. When it boils, keep stirring, turn off heat, and let purée simmer for 3-5 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.

Spread fruit purée evenly over a grease cookie sheet or a cookie sheet covered in plastic wrap (secure plastic wrap with tape) until 1/8-1/4" thick. Leave 1-2 inches between the purée and the edges of the cookie sheet.

Place cookie sheet in oven with door slightly open. Keep oven at 115-120°F. Dry for 6-8 hours. Flip leather over, pull off plastic wrap and dry for another 6-8 hours.

Fruit leather is finished drying when it feels tacky, but is pliable and will pull away from the plastic wrap.

6. Fruit and cheese kabobs. Cut up the fruit and cheese, and skewer them! You can store them in a plastic container for up to a few days!

7. Here is another granola bar recipe. I might try this next time!
1 ½ cups rolled oats
¼ cup wheat germ
¼ cup ground nuts
¼ cup nonfat dry milk
¼ cup melted butter or oil
5 tablespoons honey
1 beaten egg
¼ teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup dried fruit

Mix all dry ingredients. Mix honey, oil and vanilla into dry mixture. Add more honey to moisten or dried oats to dry mixture if necessary. Press mixture into 8x8 baking pan. Bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes, cool and cut into bars.

Got an idea? PLEASE share!!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Kitchen Organization tips

I am definitely a clutter bug. I know the simplest way to keep my house free of clutter is to have a place for everything and everything in its place, but I simply get lazy when I get the mail or go to the library, and end up stacking everything in one place. Then, within a week or two, I get so sick of the clutter that I spend 30 minutes or more de-cluttering. So the first step in de-cluttering my kitchen is to find a place for everything. Here are some tips that help me:

1. Plastic grocery bags: use an old tissue box to store these in and recycle when the box is full! There are many different ways you can find to store plastic grocery bags. It would even be ideal to buy 1 cloth bag every time you go shopping, and gradually you will have no bags left. We also use the grocery bags for liners for the bathroom garbage can.

2. Re-arrange cabinets. The items you use most frequently should be on the bottom shelves with easy access. We have extremely limited cabinet space in our kitchen, so stacking is a big deal. Find creative ways to stack dishes to maximize space. With food, if a box is almost empty, take out the remaining food and recycle the box to make more space.

3. Use plastic containers that nest and stack easily. Don't spend tons of money on fancy plastic containers: old cottage cheese, yogurt, and sour cream tubs are perfect for leftovers!

4. Set a day every month to clean out your fridge! Say, the first Saturday of every month! If you do monthly shopping, it's great to have a clean fridge to come home to! (and it helps your home smell better also!

5. Organize recipes. I have lots of random papers all over my kitchen with recipes I printed and used. Get a three-ring binder, or transfer the recipes to index cards and file. If you use a binder, tape any cards you do have to a sheet of paper. Use dividers to organize your recipes.

6. Get rid of things you don't need. Go through your utensil drawer. Do you have 5 spatulas? Get ride of 3 of them. Do you have strange doo-hickies that you have never used? Thrown them out! I finally got rid of some shallow ceramic bowls that matched my plates because I NEVER used them! SIMPLIFY!! Ask yourself:
Is this easy to use?
Do I frequently use it?
Is it enjoyable to use - e.g., It feels good in my hand.
Is it easy to clean?
Is it easy to store and does it earns its keep in storage space?
Do I have too many of these?
Can I do this task just as easily by hand (without the messy cleanup of a machine?)
Does this tool really make the task easier and quicker, or is it just a cool gadget?
Is it uncomplicated to use, clean and care for?
Is it clean, in good shape, and ready for action?

Do you have more tips? Please leave a comment!!

I think the key is twofold: 1. Organize! 2. Keep it organized. That means every time you go in your kitchen, do a visual sweep. Is anything out of place? Are there things on the table that shouldn't be there? What can you quickly put away? It's also important to put things away right after you use them!