Thursday, April 30, 2009

Warm Weather Menu

The days are growing quite warm, and standing over a hot stove in a hot kitchen is not very appealing, especially when it is soooo nice outside. So I have redone the menu, making use of the organic canned beans our local grocery store put on sale last week for Earth Day, which I took the opportunity to stock up on. The price was too good to pass up, not to mention the added convenience and smaller energy use- mine and our electric stove's.

Monday- Still Mexican night. Refried bean tacos with greens, salsa, shredded organic cheddar cheese and hot sauce. (I stocked up on shells, since they were also on sale. The Taco Bell brand does not use hydrogenated oils like the other brands, so that's the kind I get.) All I have to do is whip out a can of refried beans and....struggle...with the.....ugh...@#$%*can opener!!!! Ahem... warm the beans on the stove, pop the shells in the toaster oven, put out the condiments and, presto, time to eat!

Tuesday- Pasta Fagioli, or a cold pasta salad with kidney beans and whatever veggies I have. We're getting green onions from the garden now and these make a delicious topper. For tacos, too. And salad. And just about anything else. I hope some of them get left in the ground long enough to grow into mature bulbs.

Wednesday- I guess I'll stick to the stir fry, though I might make omelets if we have enough eggs on hand (and asparagus from the garden, mmmmmm). But the stir fry is about to be transformed with the sugar snap peas that will soon be ready to pick. Added right at the end so they're still crunchy. Drool on, my friends.

Thursday- One of Luke's childhood faves, fish sticks and egg noodles, with salad to round it off. I use whole grain egg noodles, and I actually found a store brand of fish sticks that doesn't have msg- BiLo's, for all you here in the Southeast.

Friday- Still pizza, gotta have it at least once a week, but at least it doesn't bake for very long.

Saturday- Hopefully, the bread will last till then and we can have sandwiches. No one wants to cook after spending the day working and playing in the yard and garden. Tuna, cream cheese, or peanut butter and jelly/ honey are all family favorites. And the kids must have their carrots (cut in matchsticks) with Ranch.

Sunday- 3 bean salad and green salad. These are great any day, really, and the nice thing about having so many quick and easy meals on the menu is that we can mix and match according to our mood or the weather. Too hot to bake pizza on Friday? Switch with the day with the thunderstorms in the forecast. Sick of pasta? Make potato salad instead and serve with a can of baked beans, and green salad or veggies and dip on the side. Or just top the green salad with cold kidney beans, maybe a little cheese, and a vinegar and oil dressing sweetened with honey (I also love a hard boiled egg sliced on my salad, but I'm the only one in my family who likes those). There are any number of possibilities.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Best Milk in Town



I am very excited to have found a source of raw milk from pasture fed cows. The Milky Way Farm is located in the Lake Hartwell area, but it delivers every two weeks at the outlet mall in our town. My friend Stacy, whose family runs Old Paths Farm here in Gaffney, told me about it. She has begun selling eggs from their pasture fed hens at the delivery site. Milky Way Farm also delivers to many other places, including natural food stores and co-ops throughout South Carolina, and in a few places in Georgia and North Carolina.

After researching a lot of articles, and reading about the work of Dr. Weston Price, I became convinced of the need for raw whole milk, butter, cheese and eggs from pasture fed livestock, as well as supplementing with cod liver oil. We found out a bit late, after consuming soy milk and pasteurized dairy and watching our children's teeth begin to decay.
We tried some raw goat milk from a local farm last year, but the kids never liked the flavor and didn't drink it very much. So this discovery was an answer to prayer! For myself, I have noticed a tremendous difference in the raw milk's superior digestibility. It does not give me intestinal cramps and gas like it's pasteurized counterpart. The kids are drinking more of it, too, and it makes great smoothies with frozen bananas, ice cubes and a little raw local honey! Raw food rocks!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Natural Dishwasher Detergent


I recently ran out of dishwasher detergent, and really didn't want to pay for more, so I did some searching online for a natural (and cheaper) detergent. I found one that seemed like it would work, so I tried it out. All it consists of is half baking soda and half borax, which you can find in the laundry detergent section at the grocery store. I tried it out today, using about two tablespoons of the mixture in my dishwasher, and it worked wonderfully! It was also brought to my attention that my microwave was filthy, haha, so in my search for detergent recipes I found a neat tip. Put about a cup of water in a container, mix in 2 tablespoons of baking soda, and heat that up in the microwave for 2-3 minutes. After that, take a cloth and wipe down the inside of the microwave. The ick comes off so easily! Try it :)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Homeschool Resources Correction

I made a mistake on the website. It should be amblesideonline.org
Sorry!

Homeschool Resources

Sara asked me to write a little about ambleside.org. I found this website a few years ago and liked it very much even though at the time I was not ready to fully use it. It is a free curriculum following Charlotte Mason's philosophy. It is such a rich website I hardly know where to start. There are helps for those who are just beginning to homeschool and for those who are veterans. Many of the books they use can either be found at libraries or online for which they provide links. At first glance the curriculum may seem daunting because of all the books they suggest, but they are quick to let you know that you are free to pick and choose what would be best for your children.
I would encourage everyone to at least visit the website whether or not you are familiar with Charlotte Mason. On the homepage there are five headings from which to choose, the first being an introduction. That's the best place to start because it will answer many questions. For those of you who have tried to read Charlotte Mason's books but have given up because of the language, they have rewritten the whole series in modern English, which you will find right on the website.
This website has enabled me to take better charge of my homeschooling and has provided me with so many suggestions of books that I might never have known about. Some are books that I should have read years ago, but are enjoying now with my sons. We are encouraged to spend more time outside learning about God's creation. The boys and I even enjoy reading Shakespeare plays together making our voices sound different to try to fit the parts. Sometimes we just end up laughing.
Ambleside.org is a great website that I highly recommend. The homeschooling mothers who have put it all together are to be commended for all their hard work. There are also many groups on Yahoo that are part of the ambleside family some of which I have found very helpful. One group in particular that has helped me is the Year 5 Notebook group. One mother has gone through the entire year's curriculum and posted the weekly readings so all I've had to do is download and print them weekly for Robert to read. There is a wealth of information at ambleside.org and I hope you will all visit sometime.


Friday, April 10, 2009

Coupon Database

I've spent a lot of the past few days searching for Internet coupon deals on products I buy. There is a lot of junk to weed through, and a lot of dead ends, but I was able to find some good offers. I thought I would start a database here of the good ones, which can be added to and updated as our contributors and readers discover them, and removed as they expire.

Best Coupon Sites:
Here is an article about the "5 Best Coupon-Clipping Websites".
Of these I liked Coupon Cabin the best. They have every brand listed alphabetically.
I also found Health E Savers to have a few coupons of products on my usual grocery list. Best of all, they e-mailed me the coupons.
Mambo Sprouts natural and organic food brands

Individual Internet Coupons and Offers:
Seventh Generation
Stonyfield Farm
Organic Valley
Spectrum Oil


Other Offers:
I took a pop quiz about organic farming from Earthbound Farm and they quickly sent me a coupon for $1 off any of their products, plus a newsletter with 2 more coupons.

Sign up for Juicy Juice newsletter and get coupons. I also signed up to receive a free sippy cup in the mail. It came just in time for Reuben's birthday. :)

Sign up to receive Mambo Sprouts coupon books in the mail.

Sign up to receive a coupon for a free can of Mighty Dog dog food and other Purina offers

Take the Give a Bowl quiz from Purina and get coupons for $4 off dog or cat food plus they will donate $1 to your local animal shelter when you redeem it.

Request Responses

I e-mailed several manufacturers of the products I buy, let them know why I liked their product and asked for coupons. Listed are the ones that responded with coupons.

Smuckers- sent 2 $.55 off coupons for any of their products

Born Free Eggs- sent 2 $.35 off coupons

Monday, April 6, 2009

Thrift Talk 3

Food:

This post I'll share some of the many ways we save money on food.

1: cook from scratch (including breads and cereal)

2:
buy grains, beans and a few other things in bulk from a co-op.

3: plan menus (this is an amazing money saver)

4: look for sales, marked down items, shop in season at farmer's markets, etc. and stock up by canning and freezing

5: grow a simple garden, forage for wild berries and nuts

6: eat at home

7:
eat up the leftovers

What are some other ways you save on food?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Bunny Tale

Yesterday, our strawberry plants arrived by mail that we had ordered with the gift certificate from Luke's folks. 25 bare root plants- and they needed planting right away. Thankfully, we had the bed already prepared so all I had to do was cut openings in the landscape cloth and dig the planting holes (and pull some weeds that were growing under the cloth, sigh). While I was busying myself with this task, and the kids were busying themselves playing in the drainage "pond" that drains the lowest beds, I heard a screeching sound and saw a small gray animal in our little dog's mouth. "Sally's caught a squirrel." I remarked. Virginia ran to investigate and chased Sally away from it. It wasn't a squirrel, but a baby rabbit. It didn't seem to be mortally injured, though it was missing its tail, and when I brought it inside and put it in a box, it scurried to the corner. We decided it would be better off if we let it go, since wild rabbits do not do well in captivity, so I made sure Sally was nowhere in sight and carried the little thing to the other end of the field. And placed it under.......a briar patch. Where else?