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.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Story Of Valentines Day

Do you know how Valentines day came about? It's a beautiful story, really. One of love, honor, courage, and unshakable faith...

The story goes~ During the third or fourth century AD, Claudius II was the Emperor of Rome. He had grown very powerful and his empire very large. He needed to build up the army to defend the land he had acquired. In doing so, he decided that single men made better soldiers, since they didn't have any family ties. So, he declared that no young men could marry.
Valentine was a priest during this time, and continued marrying young couples despite the law of Emperor Claudius. When Claudius heard of this, he had Valentine imprisoned. In an effort to allow Valentine to redeem himself, Claudius gave him the option to denounce the Lord, and take the faith of the Roman gods. In an incredible act of devotion, Valentine refused, held strong in his faith, and was sentenced to death.

While awaiting execution, Valentine fell in love with the daughter of the jailer. He wrote letters professing his love for her while in prison, and grew very fond of her over time.
Sadly, on February 14, Valentine was martyred for his crimes.
On the day of his execution, he wrote one final letter to his love, telling her of his devotion. At the end of the letter, he affectionately signed it ~Love, your Valentine.

So, in honor of a man who gave his life for his faith, we celebrate his great love by sharing our love with each other. Nice, huh? I love that story.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Hope For theFuture

Do you have a hope chest? For your daughters, I mean. Or what about your sons ( to present to their wives)? I have been saving things for my children since they were born. I want to make sure they have a few things that will help them get off to a good start after they marry. I spend time each day trying to help my daughters learn how to make a home for their future families, so I would love to be able to give them something on their wedding day that will help them do just that.
So far, I have collected an ornament for each of my children every year. If I keep going until they marry, I will be able to present them each with a nice collection of 20 or so ornaments to decorate their first tree.

I have a set of two fancy bone china cups and saucers for each
of them. I also have nice table linens. I want to make sure to include only things that won't go out of style, so I haven't bought any trendy decorations or accessories, only very traditional items that will last forever.

So what else to include? I am always on the lookout for little treasures I can put in. At the very least, I want to add some decorative frames with our best family photos, an afghan made by my grandmother, and a few pieces of nice china, maybe a tea pot.
I want them to have a good understanding of who they are and where they came from, so I want to make sure I include things that were important to family members that went before them. My grandmother took the time to make an afghan for each of her children and grandchildren. I want to make sure my children understand how precious they are. Then, of course, there are candle sticks, and mementos, and whatever else I deem appropriate. ...the list goes on.

Do you have a hope chest for your children? What's in it?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Books have covers, or so we have been taught all our lives. We all pick books based on the picture on the cover, or lack there of, even though we've been taught not to.
"Don't judge a book by it's cover", right? It's something that even the smallest child knows...or has been told. But do we really take that to heart? It's not always so easy, especially with people we have just met.
Everyone has a cover, whether it be conservative~ modest and gentle, or wild~ crazy and boisterous.
When we meet a new person, our first impression of them is what we tend to base our opinion on. But, is that who they truly are? Do we judge too quickly, without taking the time to learn about them? ~who they are, how they live? I think many times we do. I think we are master cover judgers, and probably miss out on knowing some pretty incredible people.

As some of you know, I went this weekend to Niagara Falls to bury my Aunt Cossie. While I was there, I met a whole other side of my extended family that I had never before had the pleasure of knowing. Unfortunately, because of my own cover judging, I almost missed out on one family member in particular~ a real pistol.

I didn't realize that when I made my first decisions about this person, I didn't really give them a chance. I decided right from one of our first encounters that I didn't like them, and wanted nothing to do with them. However, because of a accidental wonderful mix up while we were walking at the Falls, I got another chance to make a much more educated decision about this person. I'm so glad I did. What I found beneath this cover, which is so different from mine, was an incredible, fun, outgoing person who I am really wishing I had spent more time with. I missed out on an opportunity to hear an incredible story, which I'm sure I would have loved, had I simply opened the cover before I set it back down.
I took a good lesson from all this, though. I know now that despite it's cover, every book tells a story well worth reading.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

What kind of family member are you?

In my (not so humble at times) opinion, there are three types of people in every family. It is very possible for each of us to play each one of these roles to different people, or even to the same people in different seasons of our lives.
We have the family we see on a regular basis: our husbands, children, and parents for example. Then, there are the ones we see only every so often, on family vacations, maybe a few times a year.

Then, unfortunately, we all have those family members
that we haven't seen since the last time someone died.

This has been on my mind a lot lately, as we have recently suffered a loss in my family. It was the loss of a stunningly beautiful, eccentric, albeit troubled woman with a "joie de vivre" unlike that of any person I have ever known.
I have such fond memories of times I spent with her ~the time she let me shop in her closet that was the size of a small township....Or the time when she took me for tacos, and she sped through town like a shot out of hell, cornering like her car was on rails, and leading me to wonder whether we would make it to the taco stand alive... That is who she was, there was no time for slow and steady, life was a full go every minute of every day. She was incredible, and I am better for having known her.

So, this weekend I will set out for Niagara falls where we will lay her to rest, and I will spend the weekend, undoubtedly reliving memories, or "members" as my cousin Andrea and I affectionately call them. We will share laughter over the time when... and shed a tear over how we felt when... and eventually, we will all get on a plane, or in a car, and go back to our lives, however changed they may be from now on.
But, that has me thinking, what will change? Will we go back to the way things were before? Or do we move forward with the understanding that we don't want to wait until some one else dies to see all these beautiful people again? It's not that we don't love them. And it's not that we aren't interested in their lives. But maybe they live on the other side of the country and we can't get out there... Maybe we get too busy at work. Whatever the reason, life happens, and suddenly ten years have gone by, and we can't believe that little Frankie is in high school, or Gina, who was named after your mother, has a boyfriend.

You walk away from those times hoping desperately that they know how much you love them all. ...You walk away hoping maybe you'll have the courage to pick up the phone once in a while.

Let Me Introduce You...

To my cousin Andrea. She's new to blogging as am I, and I wanted to help her get the word out about her blog. This is her very first post, and I thought it was great. Hope you enjoy it. If you do, let your friends know! To read her blog, click here.