Monday, September 26, 2011

Quiet Summer

Sometimes in the midst of the squeals, and shouts , you find a moment to capture a bit of quiet summer...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ginger Peach Perfection?

Over the weekend, a friend of mine, myself, and all our kids went to a local farm to pick fruit.  We had a wonderful time picking apples, raspberries, and peaches.  When I got them home, I got everything ready for canning.  I made applesauce, raspberry jam, sweet peaches, apple butter, and ginger peach jam.  I spent the weekend canning all my creations (and sampling, of course!).

The ginger peach
jam turned out to be the most wonderful gooey, spiced peach deliciousness ever,
so I had to share the recipe. 

4 1/2 cups fresh peaches - peeled, pitted
and chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
1 (1.75 ounce) package powdered fruit pectin

6 cups white sugar
1/2 teaspoon butter


Bring peaches, ginger, and pectin to a boil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the sugar and butter; cook and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Return to a boil, stirring constantly for 1 minute more. Remove from heat, and skim off any foam with a spoon.
Sterilize the jars and lids in boiling water for at least 5 minutes. Pack the peach jam into the hot, sterilized jars, filling the jars to within 1/4 inch of the top. Run a knife or a thin spatula around the insides of the jars after they have been filled to remove any air bubbles. Wipe the rims of the jars with a moist paper towel to remove any food residue. Top with lids, and screw on rings.
Place a rack in the bottom of a large stockpot and fill halfway with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then carefully lower the jars into the pot using a holder. Leave a 2 inch space between the jars. Pour in more boiling water if necessary until the water level is at least 1 inch above the tops of the jars. Bring the water to a full boil, cover the pot, and process for 10 minutes.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we are!  Hurry and get some peaches before they are out of season!!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Santa Clause is Coming to Town... Before You know it.

So, back to school time is drawing to a close. We all know that this is the time of year when summer ends, and we gradually settle back into our school year routines, just in time to wake up one morning and realize it's a week before Christmas! (oh no!)
So, how do we minimize that after Thanksgiving panic that inevitably sets in right after the pie settles onto our thighs? Answer? ~ START NOW.
That's right, now.
Make your list first. Don't forget teachers, bus drivers, mail man, etc. I like to use a spread sheet program. It makes it super easy for me, but whatever works for you is fine.

It doesn't need to be elaborate, just a few rows for names, and a column for each of these items: name, gift, cost, store or website, and a column to check it off when you get it.

There are 12 weeks until Thanksgiving. If you start your list now, and buy one gift a week, and one extra a month, you could make a huge dent in your list before turkey day. Most of us could probably get moms and dads, siblings, aunts, uncles, etc, completely out of the way before the holiday rush even starts. This way, after Thanksgiving, you can focus on your immediate family (especially toys for small children).
Although you can make real progress shopping early, make sure you check your store's return policy before buying! It would be a shame to buy clothing for someone, only to have it not fit, and then be unable to return it after Christmas. Many stores have a 180 day return policy, and this would work out just fine.
If you get started now, and play your cards right, you could be sporting flannel pj's and eating a turkey and stuffing sandwich on black Friday, instead of having a panic attack in a line with a 45 minute wait time. Sounds good, right?
Then, get going!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Yummy New Meal I Accidentally Discovered

I found a coupon for that new Philadelphia Cooking Creme, and since I would get it pretty cheap after the store doubled it, I decided to give it a try. On the back of the package is a recipe for a pasta dish you can make. I headed back to the store a few days later, with plans to try the recipe for dinner. I got a bit side tracked when I drove past a Longhorn steakhouse. They must have been cooking bacon, because the smell from the street was heavenly. Needless to say, after that I had bacon on the brain.
This is the recipe that I put together while I wandered around the store. It was so yummy, my husband asked for thirds!:

1 pkg bacon, cooked
1 container Philadelphia Cooking Creme
1 cup grape tomatoes
3 cups Farfalle pasta, cooked
1/4 cup Romano cheese
8 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 cup broccoli

Heat cooking creme in skillet. Stir in bacon, broccoli, and pasta.

Quarter tomatoes, and chop fresh basil. Stir in cheese, basil and tomatoes. Serve immediately.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Monday, May 30, 2011

Extreme couponing?

There is a new show on TLC, called Extreme Couponing, where these crazy women go into a store with a million coupons, and come out with $2500 worth of groceries that they paid $6 for. Now, however impressive that may be, it's a bit unrealistic, don't you think? Most people don't have the time, or ability to put together such elaborate treasure hunts, but anyone can certainly do it to a point. I love coupons. I use them all the time, and have managed to save quite a bit of money for my family.
A friend of mine asked me about coupons the other day. She wants to save more at the grocery store, and is interested in using coupons. Naturally, she has lots of questions on how to get started, and it has me thinking about how I use coupons to help my family.
I thought I would share the little bit I have learned about using coupons for big savings at the store.
The trick is to know your store, and the prices for items you buy on a regular basis. For example, your favorite store sells body wash for $1.99. If you find a coupon to save $.75 on one, hang on to it until the body wash goes on sale. Lets say, for example, the sale is $1.49. Now, I go to the store with my coupon, which my store will double. (Not all stores will do this, so be sure you know your store's coupon policy before going.) After doubling, I am saving $1.50 on a product that costs $1.49. ~Free soap! Now, if like me, you bought 6 papers on Sunday, and have 6 coupons, you can get 6 of those bottles of soap for free. Easy peasy, right?

I went shopping this weekend with several coupons I had saved over the last few weeks.
I had:

15 coupons to save $1.50 on an oral -b toothbrush
1 target coupon to save $1 on body wash
1 $1 off manufacturer coupon for the same body wash,
1 $1off coupon for a Hawaiian tropic product,
3 buy one get one free Axe deodorant coupons
and, the knowledge that target was giving away a $5 gift card with the purchase of 2 Hawaiian tropic or banana boat products.

So, I headed out to Target. They had Axe deodorant on sale for $3.44, regular price ~ $3.99.
I bought 6 and used the B1G1 coupons, so 3 were free, and the rest were on sale. I saved $13.50 on the deodorant, alone.
I bought 1 bottle of caress body wash $2.99, and paired it with 2, $1off coupons coupons, so I paid $.99.
I bought 1 banana boat lip balm for $1.99, and one Hawaiian Tropic sun screen for $7.99 and used a coupon for $1 off Hawaiian Tropic. This earned me a gift card, so the out of pocket expense was $3.99, I saved $6.
Then I bought a total of 15 toothbrushes from Walmart and Target (because of a per transaction limit stated in the coupon). Regular price was $1.50 at Walmart, and $1.59 @ target. The coupons made them free @ Walmart, and $.09 at target. I saved about $22.00 on toothbrushes.
Then, just because I needed them, I bought a box of paper clips for $1.29, and a shower puff for $1.00.

My total, before coupons, was $65.16. After coupons, I paid $27.84, then got the $5 gift card, bringing my total down to $22.84! That is a 65% savings. Not as "extreme" as the ladies on TV, but still a pretty good haul for the day!
With a little work, and a little research, you can save a bunch at the grocery store, and have extra money to help with so many other things. ...New van, here I come!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Where is Your Heart Today?

In the mouth of a fool is a rod of pride,
But the lips of the wise will preserve them. ~Proverbs14:3 NKJV

I am constantly struggling to hold my tongue. I have to really concentrate on not flying off the handle and making every decision, just because I CAN. I was not raised in the same way I am trying to raise my daughters. I was raised to be very outspoken, very independent,and quite frankly, very disrespectful to my husband.
Unfortunately, it seems like that is the society we live in, today. Men are told from the time that they are young that they are inferior to women. They are portrayed by the media to be ogar-like oafs with no common sense, and over-revved sex drives. This, of course, is not even close to the masterpieces the Lord created when He made men. He made them to be strong, gentle, intelligent caregivers and leaders of the home, not the idiots they are now taught they are. It's such a shame.

I would never want my husband to feel like this! But unfortunately, I don't always let him lead our home. Sometimes, I fall into that same rut that so many women end up in. I rush ahead to get what I want, and step right on his toes in the process. Thank God his toes are strong. :)

Case in point?

Our washing machine broke the other day, and being the frugal minded, patient man he is, my husband has been diligently working to find the best deal for us. I, however, have been completely overwhelmed by the anxiety of not having a washing machine (for all of 6 days), and have visions of front loaders dancing in my head. (Isn't it pretty? -->) I'm ready to run out and buy a new one... today. Of course, this is not the right thing to do. He is trying to make sure that he makes a sound purchase for our family, and it would be both cruel and selfish of me to do this without his input. So, in an effort to be more like a wise woman*, I am trying to hold my tongue, and support him in his endeavour to get a good deal for us. (The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands. ~Proverbs14:1 NKJV)
As the days go by, I am becoming more and more impatient, and I am feeling very convicted to use this as an opportunity to honor my husband and his place in our family. All this keeping my mouth shut has me wondering ~ where is your heart in regard to biblical submission? ~Yep, I said it... submission. Does your husband lead your home, in the way God intended? Or, are there times when your tongue is hinged in the middle, like mine tends to be?

I'm really trying to keep this situation in biblical perspective, so today I will not call my husband after work to ask him if he wants us to meet him at an appliance store. I'll pretty up, cook something wonderful for him, and meet him at the door with a smile... a smile that is there out of love, and only partly there to hide the big ol' zipper across my mouth.