Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Taco Seasoning

1-2/3 c chili powder
2 T salt
1/2 c cumin
1/4 c granulated garlic
1/4 c dried onion
1 T oregano
3 T arrowroot powder or cornstarch

Mix and store in airtight container.
Use 1/4 c in place of packaged mix.
Makes 17 oz. of mix

Homemade Taco Seasoning

I commented here about how I am a fabric addict. I love the stuff, can't get enough, have a whole dresser (tall boy size) full of the stuff and yet seem to still buy more. I have been faithful about using the recent yardage for clothing for #2. Twirly, girly clothes that I adore and wish she had a doll I could sew matching things for... My other passion is anything to do with the kitchen. Yup, not scrapbooking or crafting, it's cooking. I don't buy many items for our favorite room in the house, I tend to stay away from extra appliances and am in the process of regifting some things I have replaced since our wedding 14 years ago. I think an anniversary shower is a good idea for old brides... I digress. So, on to the kitchen! Someday I will be really on top of my blog and post pictures, but for now I just want to talk about one little corner of my piece of heaven on earth, the spice racks. Yes, racks, as in two plus the bottom shelf of a cupboard. Why so much space, well, there is just something about a good spice that gets a girl going, and a hubby with a grill, too. You will notice I am posting on Works for me Wednesday and not Frugal Friday where one would think something like homemade anything would go, but since I am a bit of a kitchen snob, I don't know that it is really as frugal as it could be. Why not? I order from Penzey's Spices. You got it, I don't pick up that who knows how long it's been there can of parsley that has no smell and a questionable color from my local big box and put it in my food I worked to hard on to have it be tasteless! Can't do it, don't want to. You think I am kidding about how bad that other stuff is? Treat yourself to one small jar of something you already own. Parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme (humming) cinnamon, I don't care what it is. Order it here. Wait for it to come, sooner if you live in Wisconsin. When it does, open your old jar and take a whiff of whatever it is... does it have a smell? Now open the Penzey jar and smell that one.... ha! Gotcha didn't they? You will never go back. Headed to the kitchen to mix up my taco seasoning, since I always have the spices, but never one of those little nasty packets full of extra whatever it is they put in there. Keeps forever, gotta be cheaper, Works for Me.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Sacrifice is such a powerful word. We don't think of it the same way as it used to be, the alter, the lamb (or chicken) the fire and the prayers. For some, it means not purchasing that big t.v. they wanted, or going on that cruise they planned on for this year. Call me crazy, but that is just being patient, not a sacrifice. Sacrifice hurts, sacrifice is hard and is life changing. Sacrifice is my sister without a husband for a year. Sacrifice is being half a world away from your baby boy and only hearing his voice, not holding him. Sacrifice is all those crosses in Arlington cemetery. Heavy for Gratituesday, I know. Today I am thankful for Sgt. Mitchell L Brahms and all the service men and women both alive and at peace, who make the ultimate sacrifice.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Apron Strings

Have I mentioned I am trying to be frugal? Trying being the main word here, it is tough! We are constantly being bombarded as a nation with information about the latest greatest __________ we just can't possibly live without. We won't be complete, our children won't be as smart, our lives just are just so blase or out of it if we don't have such and such product. I got an email the other day recommending we all pay attention to what we were purchasing for one month and avoid buying anything from China in an effort to improve quality control and boost the American economy. While I agree with buying local, I have a problem with the idea of being encouraged to buy. Period. Lately my greatest weakness has been fabric. I am bordering on obsessed. If I have time before picking up kids at school, I find myself more and more often drifting through quilt shops and craft stores to look at the latest patterns and fabrics. I tell myself it is because I am trying to be more frugal and sew things for the kids but there is no way to sew a shirt for as cheap as the local big box store sells it. I just have to be content knowing #2 is wearing an American made product, lol. So where is the frugal in this whole ramble? Well, I found fabric on sale yesterday and bought 2 yards to make an apron. My total cost with fabric and interfacing was $6.82 to make an apron with huge pockets to keep track of my phone (another story). While I was very happy with my purchase, I was bothered by the amount of wasted fabric after cutting out my pieces. Fortunately I have been blessed with a knack for see and copy. So I took my leftover and....... Ta da! Another apron, just big enough for a certain 6 year old who loves to be just like mom! Two for one is my kind of Frugal Friday project! Head over and see Laura for her Frugal Friday idea and her Digi-scrap Giveaway

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Command Central

My family, on more than one occasion, has accused me of being too organized. Well, not organized so much as scheduled. Breakfast done by 7:10, lunch at 11:30, nap at 1:00, pizza on Friday, muffins on Monday, swimming on Tuesday, soccer on Saturday.... you see where I am going. Those of you with a large family, or a spouse, or a job, or a house know what I mean. Actually, that would include nearly every adult I know. On that note, everyone is scheduled and while I know some people do it better than I do, this is how I know what is going on here. (drum roll please)

Command Central!

This is how I keep track of everything that I have going on and rid myself of all those notes and invites that come home and I can't help but loose. If you are familiar with Flylady, then this looks very familiar. Her calendar is hanging up on the left, kids 1-3 each have a clip on the bottom, the double clip is hubby's work schedule and phone numbers, and the top right is my YMCA clip. Everything is housed on our back door in the laundry room so it is easy to find, and keeps my fridge clear. As soon as mail enters the house it is sorted, that is if it is not already recycled coming in through the garage. Whatever makes it into the house is immediately opened and dealt with. If it is an event, we RSVP and then write it on the calender. All the kids things are on there as well as a menu. How you ask? Color coding is my friend.
#1 is green, #2 pink, #3 brown, #4 navy, mom red, dad, orange and multifamily members events are an electric blue. I don't have to worry about putting names on the calendar because I just have to glance for colors. I draw lines to show something that continues, like the blue line for soccer down through Saturday. I even know when the Schwan's man is coming since I am sure to put the sticker on as I come back in the house after putting away my groceries. May is a hectic month, the page doesn't normally look that full, but the large spaces make it easy to write as much as I need to. I also have a smaller version of this for my car. No problem planning Dr. visits since I know what's coming. This also helps for scrapbooking, as I just have to look back for dates to events I have photos for. Cool huh? I would love to hear what works for you as any system can always use help...Off to make some salad dressing, thanks Laura!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Menu Monday May 17-23

Wow, what a great time we had this last week with my sister and nephew up here to visit and look for an apartment. While there was much success in the apartment department... not nearly so good on the WW plan, much too fun to cook for someone new!

So, in an effort to get back on track, here is a much more healthy menu that we will stick to... sorta

French toast with bananas, strawberries, syrup and whipped cream, eggs benedict
No lunch
Roast chicken, fingerling potatoes and carrots, beets, applesauce

Banana muffins, fruit smoothies
Turkey sandwich, veggie soup
BBQ pork sandwiches, salad, pineapple chunks

Oatmeal with honey, toast, bananas
PB&J sandwiches, apples
Fruited chicken salad in a pita, tortellini soup

Eggs, toast and apple butter
Bagels with hummus or cream cheese, carrots and celery
Pan seared shrimp, rice, stir fried veggies

Waffles, bananas
Grilled cheese, apples
Sloppy joe's, salad, grapes

Pancakes with fruit topping
PB&J sandwiches, canned oranges, celery with ranch
Homemade pizza

Kid's choice
Turkey burgers and sweet potato fries, fruit salad with yogurt
Grilled pepper roast, salad, fried potatoes and onions

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Checkpoint #1

Yesterday I tried to be extra conscience of my latest challenge, and no, it has nothing to do with #3... Laura over at Heavenly Homemakers has encouraged everyone to be more aware of getting in their daily requirements of fruits and veggies and that is certainly easy to stomach. What I didn't realize was how hard it was going to be to remind myself to do it. So, I will follow her example, and checkpoint myself in order to be sure to follow this excellent suggestion.

Breakfast- 1 egg, 2 whites, toast, 1/2 apple (6 points) 1 serving
Lunch-Turkey bagel sandwich with mustard and lettuce (5 points) 1 serving
Snack- Dates (2 points) 1 serving
Supper- Provencal venison daube with mushrooms and fruit salad (8 points) 3 servings

Not too bad, managed to get in 6 servings or so, and only slightly go over my points allowance. Today I will focus on more servings and less points. Thanks Laura!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Good Food

Today I am starting the Eat More Fruits and Veggies Challenge, and I am grateful that I don't really have to try to get good food for my family. Everything we could want is available for use to enjoy by simply walking into a store. There are no lines (third world country), we don't have to mail order them (middle of nowhere Alaska), and they are never out of season (almost anyway). I am most grateful that I live in an area that supports local agriculture, so rather than eating fruit from half a world away, I had a great salad with locally grown lettuce for supper last night. Just a few short weeks, our garden will be producing it's first yummy goodness. Now that is local... Hop on over to Laura and see what else there is to be happy out this Gratituesday!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Menu Monday May 10-16

My sister is on the road! She just called to get our address so that she can use one of my other sister's GPS for the drive up here. The Twin Cities can be tricky, so she will appreciate that one. On to the menu. Since she is on Weight Watchers (and so am I in theory) this week we will be paying special attention to the points value of recipes. (this will not include the homemade ice cream we had Sunday night, lol)

lemon poppy seed muffins (4), fruit chunkies-chopped fruit with yogurt on top (3)
oatmeal, milk (2)
eggs (2), Lindsy's multigrain toast (2), cantaloupe (1)
french toast (don't want to know)
smoothies (4) and pb toast (4)
kids choice

Bagels(4) with toppings-lettuce, pb (2), cream cheese, cheese, hummus (2)
turkey sandwiches (5)
carrot and celery sticks (0), ranch dressing (1)
tortellini soup (4)
sloppy joes
cereal (4)

Sunday- Shrimp Bake, rice, salad, homemade ice cream
Monday- Buffalo chicken salad (5), naan, parsnips
Tuesday-Beer burgers (7), ranch potato wedges, fruit kabobs
Wednesday-Applebee's for their WW menu (swim and CPR class)
Thursday-Papa Murphy's pizza (chicken artichoke, yum!)
Friday- pizza for kids, grilled salmon with black bean salsa (7), salad
Saturday-chili (snuck in 2 cans v-8,) grilled cheese

Friday, May 8, 2009

Potato Thyme

I can't believe how nice the weather has been over the last 24 hours. They were predicting rain for the entire week, and while we have had a few nice showers, the weather today was phenomenal! I got my seed potatoes from Territorial a while a go and they have just been patiently waiting in my garage for the snow to melt. While living in Wisconsin is beautiful, the weather is crazy, and you never know when it is going to snow. But today, it reached a whopping 66 degrees and I felt crazy enough to chance it and start digging in the dirt. Here are the cut up seed potatoes.
While harvesting them would be a lot easier in a box, they are really waiting to go in the ground in a trench about 6 inches deep. This will be the first row in our 30x90 foot garden space, and I am planting cranberry and Yukon gold in two rows. Then I will cover them up with about 4 inches of dirt. After I water them, we wait....
(Game show music plays) Ok, we have to wait for a while, but I will be sure to show you when they peek through.
In the mean time, thyme! This is an ongoing project in our front yard. It used to be boring and look like this.
Then, last summer, it looked like this...
And this...
Now, it looks like this. The green is mulch holding down the annual rye grass we planted this spring. I tried to be frugal and plant my own creeping thyme, but it didn't go quite as well as some of my other things. So, for Mother's day this year, I asked for two things, a composter (got it) and plants (got those too since Gander Mountain was running a double points deal on their credit card, which will in turn earn money for hunting gear for one of the kids this fall, or mom) So out I go to plant some thyme between the rocks. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to plant some time for yourself, you would never run out!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Menu Monday May 3rd

I had an easy plan week because my new copy of Taste of Home Healthy Cooking came. It is always fun to get mail that does not require me to pay a bill, or remember to pay a bill, or notice of bill forgotten and not paid... So, when the new copy came, my hubby snatched it up and began flipping through it while I was making supper. "Hey, let's have this." (never mind I was halfway through making supper already) Then, I had one of those seldom seen brilliant moments. "Great dear, write it on the calender, page number too." Enter blank stare. "Ok, hang on and I'll write it on the calender."
So, over a quiet supper alone, the kids were already done, having been ok with left-overs, I got out the calender and as he flipped through the recipes picking out what he would like to try, I plugged them in according to protein type and time required to make. Ta Da! Nearly a month in a matter of moments, with no groaning and straining from me trying to be creative. Love it!

Eggs and toast
Veggie breakfast pizza
Muffins and fruit
Apple French Toast
Zucchini Bread and fruit
Blueberry pancakes

Bagels with assorted fillings
Egg salad
Soup and bread

Chicken wings (going out)
Smoked Round and stir fried veggies with rice
Crunchy chicken salad, naan, fruit
Sweet and Tangy Burgers, fries
Zesty Mexican Chicken and rice, salad
Homemade Pizza
Pork Burritos and salad

Saturday, May 2, 2009

100 Challenged Books

This post is a continuation of the 101 things goal. Some of these I have read, some I will never read. Mostly they are listed here because I am lazy and would like to look through my own blog for the list rather than remembering what the are or where they are listed. If they are highlighted, I have read them prior to the challenge, if it looks like this, I am reading it now, and this is done. While I would not recommend them all, why don't you try a few!

The 100 most frequently challenged books of 1990–2000

“[I]t's not just the books under fire now that worry me. It is the books that will never be written. The books that will never be read. And all due to the fear of censorship. As always, young readers will be the real losers.” — Judy Blume

  1. Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz
  2. Daddy's Roommate by Michael Willhoite
  3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  4. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
  5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  7. Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling
  8. Forever by Judy Blume
  9. Bridge To Terrabithia by Katherine Patterson
  10. Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  11. Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
  12. My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
  13. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  14. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  15. It's Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
  16. Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine
  17. A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck
  18. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  19. Sex by Madonna
  20. Earth's Children (Series) by Jean M. Auel
  21. The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
  22. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
  23. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
  24. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
  25. In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
  26. The Stupids (Series) by Harry Allard
  27. The Witches by Roald Dahl
  28. The New Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein
  29. Anastasia Krupnik (Series) by Lois Lowry
  30. The Goats by Brock Cole
  31. Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane
  32. Blubber by Judy Blume
  33. Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan
  34. Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
  35. We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier
  36. Final Exit by Derek Humphry
  37. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
  38. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
  39. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
  40. What's Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters by Lynda Madaras
  41. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  42. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  43. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
  44. The Pigman by Paul Zindel
  45. Bumps in the Night by Harry Allard
  46. Deenie by Judy Blume
  47. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
  48. Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden
  49. The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar
  50. Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat by Alvin Schwartz
  51. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
  52. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  53. Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
  54. Asking About Sex and Growing Up by Joanna Cole
  55. Cujo by Stephen King
  56. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
  57. The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell
  58. Boys and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
  59. Ordinary People by Judith Guest
  60. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
  61. What's Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons by Lynda Madaras
  62. Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
  63. Crazy Lady by Jane Conly
  64. Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher
  65. Fade by Robert Cormier
  66. Guess What? by Mem Fox
  67. The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
  68. The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney
  69. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  70. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  71. Native Son by Richard Wright
  72. Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women's Fantasies by Nancy Friday
  73. Curses, Hexes and Spells by Daniel Cohen
  74. Jack by A.M. Homes
  75. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya
  76. Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle
  77. Carrie by Stephen King
  78. Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume
  79. On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
  80. Arizona Kid by Ron Koertge
  81. Family Secrets by Norma Klein
  82. Mommy Laid An Egg by Babette Cole
  83. The Dead Zone by Stephen King
  84. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  85. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
  86. Always Running by Luis Rodriguez
  87. Private Parts by Howard Stern
  88. Where's Waldo? by Martin Hanford
  89. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
  90. Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman
  91. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
  92. Running Loose by Chris Crutcher
  93. Sex Education by Jenny Davis
  94. The Drowning of Stephen Jones by Bette Greene
  95. Girls and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
  96. How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
  97. View from the Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts
  98. The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
  99. The Terrorist by Caroline Cooney
  100. Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

Friday, May 1, 2009

You want apples, how bout them apples...

I love a deal as much as the next girl. I just found a great blog this morning on this very subject. Gayle at The Grocery Cart Challenge is feeding as many as I am on an amazing budget! This got me thinking, what do I spend a month at the grocery store? No clue... So, this month will be devoted to keeping track of our grocery budget. Hopefully I will not go into shock at the end of it, I like to think I am somewhat budget conscious, but with the most amazing little store so close to the YMCA, it is easy to pop in and just pick something up that is needed for the night, and a few things that aren't.
What does this have to do with apples, you ask? I'll tell you. This same grocery store has a case-to-go program where they will give you a discount on anything in the store if you purchase by the case. I would have never thought to ask except Laura talked about it over here at Heavenly Homemakers. Thank you Laura! So, I emailed some friends and now have started a small Dirty Dozen co-op of sorts. Our first order, you guessed it, apples. See how pretty they are in my fruit bowl?
The best part, compare these beauties to the same variety at our local big store. Conventional-$1.99 and Organic $2.39. So how much did we pay for our beautiful fruit while supporting a small local store that is in turn co-owned by local organic farmer, Blaine Tornow?
A whopping $1.26 a pound! Going to have an apple...