Saturday, August 29, 2009
The other blog.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
That's why I had grand ideas for this blog. I still have grand ideas. But I'm tired. And the Hub is going out of town for a few weeks, followed by a new baby and our computer needing to be sent to Gateway to get a new graphics card, which will take 2 weeks. So I'm sorry for not posting more frequently. But that is our life and we still love it.
I did want to mention some thoughts I've had on finances.
First, in reading the Book of Mormon at the beginning of Alma, the people in Zarahemla start treating each other terribly, doing all sorts of terrible things, and rejecting God. Alma mentions that they had begun "worshipping idols." When reading that I thought "I don't worship idols. I don't even know anyone who does." Then I thought about the word worship, looked it up in the dictionary, and came to the conclusion that worshipping something is really just paying devotion to something or making it the most important thing in your life. So I thought about that and my attitude towards money. I'm striving to improve my relationship with God, but I can't do that if I am devoting myself to having more "things." I think we can see how comparing ourselves, our lives, and our standard of living to others can cause us to worship idols by losing sight of God's plan for our lives. We slowly are enslaved by the desire to possess more things. (And we don't see others for who they are as fellow children of God).
Admittedly, there are necessary purchases. I don't want anyone to think that buying things makes them an idol worshipper. But I think at least I can live more providently and self-sufficiently by really thinking about each purchase I make, asking myself why I am buying that item, and if I really need it. But also, it's good to occassionally, and when you can afford it, buy yourself or others nice things. I'd love to have a Bosch mixer. Do I need one? No. Do I need photoshop, or a piano? No. Can I afford those things now? No. But those things are on my list of things that, when the $ is there, I would like to purchase.
Hopefully I'll be able to post at least once a week the next few weeks, but I'll be taking some time away from the internet once the baby gets here. (I have a feeling sleep will be much more important then!!)
That's right, we canned peaches. Something on my to-do list that actually got accomplished!! We used googled "canning peaches" and found a very helpful website, which the link is now broken to, to guide us through the process, but here is a simplified overview. By the way, having 3 people makes the process happen about 2 times faster than just 2 people! I'm glad Julie's SIL could help us out!!
What you need:
* Good peaches (5 per quart sized jar)
* Water bath canner with rack
* Jars w/ lids and rings
* Fruit fresh, or lemon juice
* Sugar, lots of water
* Paring knives.
* lots of pots and bowls
* A good attitude and a friend or two.
1. Pick out good peaches! If you are in my area, Reams had an amazing deal on super yummy peaches: 13.99 for 25 lb box, or $.59/lb. They were really good. Most roadside stands have amazing peaches: local produce is always better!
2. wash peaches, run jars through hot rinse cycle in dish washer or sanitize by boiling.
3. Get syrup ready. We made the light syrup, which was 6 cups water, 2 cups sugar. That was a little too sugary for my taste. If you increase the water 1-2 cups, you should have enough syrup for 6 quart jars of peaches. All you do is get the water hot, slowly add the sugar, stirring well, boil it for a minute, then turn it way down to keep it hot until you are ready to use it.
4. Peel and cut peaches. Here's how: boil peaches for 35-45 seconds. Remove and put in ice water. We found that VERY cold ice water works the best, it isn't great if you have just a few pieces of ice in the water. After the ice bath, cut the peach along the seem, press together and twist to half the peach. The peel should come right off, and the pit will usually just stay in one side. We haven't found a fool-proof way to get the pit out easily. We just cut it out, dug it out, or used my little tool to take the tops off of strawberries or tomatoes.
5. After cutting peaches to desired size, put in a bowl and mix lemon juice or some "Fruit Fresh" to prevent browning.
6. When the bowl is full, put into hot, sterilized jars, cover with hot syrup*, and put hot lids on. Then screw the rings on, and process in your water bath canner for 40 minutes (at 3000-6000 ft above sea level, less for lower elevations).
*This is the cold pack canning method, for hot pack canning, which is supposedly safer we haven't gotten sick from the peaches yet, simmer the peaches IN the syrup for 5 minutes, then pour into jars.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
It is also essential that I report on my efforts to KEEP things organized. I have a nook in my home that has always been the clutter corner. Now, whenever I walk by, I take note of anything that shouldn't be there and move it right then. It has been so cleansing for my soul to have this one spot that always looks "nice." I'll have to post a pic!!
Without further chatter, here are the pictures of the space I organized this week. I ended up cleaning, rearranging, and organizing ALL of my kitchen cupboards except for the pots/pan cupboard and under the sink (that's a whole other project!) But I realized that if I switched my food and dishes around I would be able to utilize the space more efficiently. Aren't I a smarty-pants house-wife?
Remember it isn't too late to join in on the fun of Operation Organization. Especially if you just need some motivation!!
For a great parenting pick me up, head over to our "Sitsta" at d2the4thpower. This was a reminder to be gentle and that all of us make mistakes as parents (funny, I kind of got a goblin face and got up to an almost scream today when my little one rubbed her chocolatey face* on my khaki shorts**, so this post was especially poignant!)***
*Immediately clean chocolatey faces in order to prevent such a fiasco.
**Don't wear anything but dark wash jeans or brown/black pants. Dirty faces are attracted to clean, light colored clothing
***Your child is more important than your clothing. Invest in some oxyclean or spray 'n wash and remember that the goal is to raise loving, helpful children, not necessarily to have clean clothes...but if you can do both please tell us how you do it!
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
1 cup oil
2 cups granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. soda
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
¾ tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. baking powder
3 cups flour
2 cups shredded zucchini
Mix eggs, oil and sugar. Add vanilla. Mix in salt, soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and baking powder. Add flour. Mix in zucchini. Grease and flour pans and bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes (depending on size/number of pans; will want to watch closely towards end of time). Toothpick poked into center of loaves should come out clean when done. Cool in pan about 10 minutes.
Makes approximately 2 regular-sized loaves (or about 3 smaller loaves). Double batch makes about 1 regular and 6 small loaves.
Monday, August 10, 2009
I think most of us can relate to the experience of a young child having more fun playing with the paper and boxes at Christmas or birthday than the actual gift; the same concept may apply here, it really doesn't take much to make a child's imagination happy. Plus, it is a good activity that encourages me to sit down and interact with my preschooler as we cut, color and tape each project. But I will warn you, if your child likes making one, you probably will end up making them all the time, since there are lots of characters from which to choose!
My sister and I are undertaking a canning adventure soon. We want to can peaches, peach jam, and salsa. This is the first time we've canned since we "helped" mom in the kitchen when we were very small. Any home canners out there with any advice?
If not, I'll just have to read homecanning.com
She Shops smart: a smart mommy who shares how she saves money.
Sensible Savings: a friend who shares all the great deals she finds.
A Thrifty Mom: 'nuff said.
Sumo's Sweet Stuff: a cute mom who makes tons of cute stuff for her little girl. Great craft ideas!
I'm not sure it is effective to include a grocery list with each week's meals. I usually only include the things that I need (what I don't have on hand) and other people probably don't have the same things I do. Besides, you may just use the meal plans for inspiration rather than following them exactly. So let me know if you want me to continue to do a comprehensive shopping list for the week. If nobody comments, I won't do one anymore. :)
If you notice the calendar, I changed the menu to have summer foods that don't require as much cooking, thus keeping my home cooler. I think we'll eat very healthfully this week.
6 b/s chicken breasts
Mandarin oranges (3 cans)
3 pkg Oriental Ramen Soup
Bow tie pasta
Corn bread mix or corn meal
Corn on the cob
1 head green cabbage
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped (I omit this, I don't like cilantro)
1 pkg frozen peas, thawed
Saturday, August 8, 2009
This week's goal is to tackle how I organize food in my kitchen. Last winter I bought a little pantry from Shopko for super cheap, and while it has been great to not store food products on my counter, I definitely need to fix the mess, and come up with a better way to store things. I think some stackable plastic shelves and some flour/sugar/etc... containers might be in order! Too bad about the spending freeze (if anyone is getting rid of anything like that, let me know!)
Here are the "BEFORE" pictures:
What's that? My shelf doesn't LOOK organized? Take a look again! See those shoe boxes. Yeah, that's what frugal moms on a spending freeze use. They stack nicely. I even labeled the top of each box so I know what is in them. The bottom shelf is my craft/sewing stuff (hey, I have aspirations, and Jamie and Shalyse I know your prize is overdue, sorry!) as well as books that I read a lot of.
The middle shelf is hubby's junk (don't tell him I said that) but I compromised and only threw out all the recruiting stuff from the 10 billion accounting firms, only 2 of whom offered him an interview. I didn't throw out his notes from classes that he is convinced will come in handy on the CPA exams. We'll see, if he doesn't touch them in 6 months, they are SO gone! Plus the middle shelf is holding my foot spa and our humidifier. Very oddly-shaped things that don't make a space look very organized.
The third shelf has the text books and our sub-woofer/computer speakers that we only occasionally use. Sometime I'll post a pic of our computer desk so you can see why it is stored on this random shelf.
I also have to mention that with this week's challenge, I organized ALL of our files (and now have a HUGE bag of old bank statements, bills, and pay stubs to shred.) I also mostly organized our bedroom closet. I'll probably do a more in-depth job with that in a future week's goal!
And for those of you needing some tips, Melinda had a guest post some GREAT ideas on her parenting confessions blog. CHECK it out!
Friday, August 7, 2009
"How empowering! How true! It is mothers who teach future businessmen to be honest in their dealings. It is mothers who coach (and sometimes coax) future scientists, doctors, and mathematicians through worksheets and multiplication tables. It is mothers who show future politicians how to be compassionate--even in the face of opposition." (I am a Mother, 59)
President Harold B. Lee taught that "A mother's heart is a child's schoolroom. The instructions received at the mother's knee...are never effaced entirely from the soul....Family life is God's own method of training the young, and homes are largely what mothers make of them" (Teachings of Harold B. Lee, 289)."
These thoughts could be overwhelming. I could listen to the adversary who is constantly whispering that I'm not doing enough, that it's too much, or that I shouldn't expect so much from myself as a mother. I make mistakes as a mother! BUT, I also know that I can turn to God for inspiration, for added patience, and for forgiveness when I am less than Christ-like in my profession!
I love teaching, and I know that is the most important thing I can do with my children!
I thought my first book review should be a parenting type book. This is a book for stay-at-home parents of young kids, and I love the sub-title: tips for enjoying daily life with children under 3! How many days does daily life with young children feel like an exhausting, overwhelming, not-so-fun experience? Don't get me wrong, there are always good moments in most days, but taking care of young children can be draining. It's difficult to get things done, tantrums are hard to handle, and sometimes your 18 month old will watch 3 hours of television because you need something to distract them.
This is not really a parenting book, just ideas of how to give your young children things to do that are stimulating, entertaining, and allow you to get things done or enjoy playing with them.
Some things I like:
1. The activities are broken up into different times of day. There are activities for mornings, mealtimes, afternoons, bedtimes, etc...
2. Each activity has a "messiness quotient." IE, how much of a mess can you expect from this activity. If you don't want to take the time to clean up, then choose a low quotient activity. BUT, I would mention as my own thought, taking them time to clean up WITH your young child (the younger the better) is a good way to start them on the road to keeping things neat and clean. Make it into a game.
3. Fun activities based on age. My toddler LOVED playing in a bucket of beans with a funnel. She wasn't quite old enough to care about the play dough we made (although "making" it was fun for her).
Things I disliked:
1. You could probably find activities like most of these on the internet. But like I said, I like the descriptions by age, how messy it will get, materials you need, etc...
2. I think it's important to avoid "Supermom syndrome", where you feel like you have to be constantly busy. Kids NEED time to just go play by themselves. But I think young children often throw tantrums because they want your attention. If you are making dinner and give them a task to "help" they will feel involved and ideally whine a little less.
I also think this is a great book for Winter time, when it's too cold to go outside much. Making tents and playing make-believe would be thrilling for a 2 year old!
You can go HERE to read more reviews of this book.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
One of the greatest blessings we've had the past few months is that of little/no income! The gap between graduating from college and the start of hubby's job will be 7 months. For us it has been essential to make every penny of our savings count! One way we have accomplished this has been by imposing an abosolute spending freeze. At first it was a total bummer not to buy new shoes (they weren't an absolute necessity, my older pairs were still intact, but I like to be stylish!) It was also difficult to refrain from buying toys, books, and new clothes for our toddler and for the baby we'll have soon!
But after months of knowing we couldn't spend ANY extra money on ANYTHING that wasn't absolutely essential, living with a spending freeze has actually become quite liberating! I mean, look around your house and count the number of things you thought you wanted, or even thought you NEEDED at the time of purchase. If you're anything like me, you realized that quite a bit of money every month goes down the drain. In our society, having "things" seems to up our status (though probably only in our own eyes!) Therefore we use credit, pile up the debt, and spend years paying off $100!! Or at the least, we don't save, and consequently lose money we could have made on interest!
The liberation comes in not letting things own you! It comes in knowing that your credit card bill is $0 and that you won't pay interest. It comes in knowing that you will be able to meet your family's needs because you didn't splurge on that bowling game your 14 month old was carrying around Ross acting like it was the most important thing to her! (By the way, I must mention that it is pointless to buy many toys for a young child. Get out some cups and bowls, they'll be WAY happier!)
SO, my challenge to you, dear reader, is to set aside a period of time that you think you can go without spending ANY money on non-basics (no, clothes aren't basics, neither are new seat covers for your car, a kiddie pool, or a pass to the nearby theme park!) Seriously, food, rent/mortgage, utilities, car, gas, insurance, health, toiletries. Those are basically it. Try it for a week. Be really brave and try it for a month. FREEZE your spending, and see how much you save! (And it's ok to start to carry a bolt of fabric to the counter, convincing yourself that your girls NEED curtains in their room, and you must make them, and then turn around and put it back! Be STRONG!)
Monday, August 3, 2009
Before I share the meal plans and shopping list, I need an attagirl! I only went grocery shopping ONE TIME last week. To some it may seem crazy, but I am the girl who forgets things on my list, and then craves something during the week, and in the end I make 2-4 extra trips to the store (or have hubby go for me) and spend $40+ extra for the week! NOT good, I know!! So, give me a pat on the back, and enjoy the ideas I have planned for the week. I know, some probably aren't the best summer recipes. I'll work on putting a week of summer recipes together, but hey, I'm preggo and this is what sounded good to me!! Remember to add your veggies to your shopping list!!
For the Week of Aug 3rd, go to the bottom to the google calendar. Clicking on the meal gives you a recipe idea!
1 lb ground beef
B/S chicken breasts (4-8, or enough for 2 meals)
Ranch dressing mix
½ and ½ cream
Saturday, August 1, 2009
Remember how I was talking about the "attagirl" and helping motivate each other? HERE is a great chance to get motivated to declutter/organize with just a little time each week. Su-WEET!! It's nice to know there are a bunch of us out there working to make our homes a little piece of heaven!
Here is the area I will be de-cluttering this week! All those stacks of papers are hubby's school notes and such. I may be re-cycling them (shhh, dont' tell, he is convinced he will use them again someday...) Maybe I'll be a super nice wifey and have them cerlox bound... ;)
I have posts already written which are set to be posted on Monday and Tuesday, so stay tuned, leave a comment, and I'm taking a couple of days to be computer-free!
Today's Focus: Automation.
When was the last time you forgot to brush your teeth at night? Put on deodorant (ok, I'll be honest, sometimes I forget that one in the rush to shower and get dressed before the little one notices I'm not in the same room!) But seriously, think about all the things in your life that you do without even thinking.
I think that one way to keep your home a little more clutter-free is to create routines that become automatic. There are several ways to do this. First, you could make a schedule for yourself. This might work for some people, but not for me.
You can also try the website Don't Break the Chain. With this tool, you set a goal for something you will do every day (for example, clean up the dishes right after a meal, organize the counter every night before bed, exercising, etc...). You get an "x" for every day you do the task. The point is that once you have a few days in a row, you don't want to break the chain, so you do the task to keep it going. Then pretty soon, it becomes automatic.
Or you can try what I do, which is just to organize a small part of my day with a routine. This keeps things flexible, but I always know how my mornings will go:
1. get up and eat/feed the child
2. Clean up breakfast and any leftover dishes from the night before (child sometimes "helps" with that)
3. Turn on our "Song" (Good day Sunshine by the Beatles) and make the bed together.
4. Shower (if the child needs a shower, I put her in with me, otherwise I turn on Curious George or Clifford and give her 15 minutes of cherished tv time.
5. Get ready for the day, finish up any chores.
6. If it's still too early to go outside and play, we read some books or play with toys together.
7. Go outside and play
By the time all these things are done, it's lunch and then naptime. Keeping a routine with my mornings really helps me know exactly what needs to get done and when.
Another idea to help create organization routines for yourself is to have "attagirls." When I was teaching school, I had an "attagirl" folder, that I kept positive notes from students or parents, any achievements I got, or good teaching reviews. Send yourself an email every time you do something great, or your routines work out how you envisioned. Better yet, get a friend to send you an email every time she accomplishes her goal, then you send her an attagirl email. And she can do the same for you. It's all about helping each other out!