Archive | October, 2010

Our Little Reader

31 Oct

Eli loves his books almost as much as his daddy

The other day I stumbled upon Brandon and Elijah curled up in the comfy chair enjoying a board book.  How precious is this?  We have been reading to Eli since before he was born-okay actually we only read him one story while he was in the womb-it was kind of weird.  I wish I could have captured for you all Elijah yesterday.  We have this huge blue basket of board books.  Eli took each book out until he was surrounded by books.  Then he picked up each one of them individually and looked at them.  He even turned the pages on some of them!  🙂  It was just too cute.  Now if I could only teach him how to put them back in the basket.  (I’ve tried but I think he needs another month?)  Anybody know when Elijah should be able to put things back in a basket?  I’m looking forward to this day! 

Eli sure is blessed with a great Dad!

Priceless

I love watching my Dad around Elijah.  It’s hard to describe exactly how awesome it is!  The other day we were blessed to have my Dad here with us for lunch.  While I was cleaning up Eli somehow found his way in his Papaw’s lap.  🙂  The next thing I knew I found them like this. 

For more encouragement on reading to your children check out: The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease.  No doubt it will inspire you to carve out more time to read to your children no matter how old they are.  (You should be able to find this book at your local library).  Rather than setting aside an hour to read to Elijah every day we read a couple of books every couple of hours.  This is a great break for me in my busy day and a great way to spend time with my little man.

When did he get so grown up?

Apple Cranberry Muffins

28 Oct

Apple Cranberry Muffins-a wonderful fall treat!

For the last couple of weeks I have been watching for the cranberries to appear and then finally last week I found them on sale at Aldi.  I’m waiting till they hit .99 to buy a couple more bags for the freezer!  One of my favorite things to do with them is to make bread of muffins.  The following is my favorite muffin recipe.  They are pretty sweet-I would call them a desert muffin more so than a healthy muffin.  🙂  I sent some home to my family and they gobbled them up like crazy!  The following recipe makes 18 muffins.

  • 3 c. flour-you can use white flour, wheat flour or combination-I used whole wheat pastry.
  • 2 t. baking soda
  • 2 t. cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 c. brown sugar or Sucanat-I think this could be decreased and they would still be great!
  • 1/2 c. oil
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 c. apples diced-I like Gala but any will do great.
  • 1 1/2 c. cranberries-whole
  • 1 c. walnuts chopped
  • Mix all of the ingredients together and add in the apples, cranberries, and walnuts last.  Mix until everything is just combined-DO NOT OVERMIX or your muffins will be tough.  Bake at 350 in greased muffin tins or paper lined tins for 20-25 minutes.  Delicious! 

Grins and Giggles: A Weekend with Rebekah (my baby sister)

26 Oct

Bekah loved pushing Elijah on our many outings this past week

Tonight there is this strange quietness in my house because my sweet sister Bekah has went home.  We were blessed to have her visit with us for a long extended weekend and it was so much fun!  (We are hoping my other sister might be able to come visit sometime this fall too!)  I don’t know the last time I watched so many kiddie/girlie movies and got to enjoy a little girl enjoying life close up.  I don’t think I will ever forget Rebekah roller skating in her skirt in our cul-de-sac.  It was priceless.  To me Rebekah just epitomizes what a little nine year old girl should be like. 

Eli bundled up ready for another walk with Bekah. I think she enjoyed the "jogging" part of the stroller a lot more than we did. Eli had this look on his face that said it all.

On Friday night we took Bekah on a trek to the library and she loved it.  Since she lives a good 30 min+ from the library she said it  was really neat to be able to walk to the library.  We enjoyed perusing the library checking out some books and movies.  On the way back Brandon surprised us by treating us to DQ.  We are always tempted to stop by DQ on the way back from the library but this was our first time to actually do it!  What a fun treat! 

I caught Rebekah reading Elijah a book we checked out from the library-how cute is this?

After our library adventure we headed to Lexington and took a meal to a family from my church.  It was wonderful to see their little miracle baby.  We picked out some fabric @ JoAnns and were amazingly restrained at the store buying only the material to make a baby blanket for a girl in my church.

The finished baby blanket

On Saturday we sewed the blanket and spent a lazy morning at home while Brandon was at Upward.  Then later we went exploring in Midway-went for a walk, listened to an outdoor band, and found ourselves at a playground.  Yesterday Bekah went with us to church and got to experience the Children’s Ministry at Forks first hand.  She was even so sweet as to go to a baby shower with me.  Needless to say we had quite the fun weekend!  It was kind of different for me hanging out with someone all weekend who could talk back in coherent sentences!  I wonder what Elijah is going to be like when he talks all the time??

Start Planning A Weekly Menu

25 Oct

 The Benefits of Menu Planning

Grab a cup of tea and let's start menu planning!

The Benefits of Weekly Menu Plans

For the past couple of years I have been a huge fan of menu planning.   Not only does it complement my somewhat organized nature, but I find that it saves us a bundle in groceries.  By purposefully only buying the ingredients we need I waste less money.  It also helps me to plan more creative leftovers.  I married a sweet man who hates leftovers so it is important that they do not appear too often in our week. J  Menu planning also helps my family to incorporate healthier food items into our menu.  We are less likely to have a weak moment and head out to eat if I already know what is for dinner (or if it is in the Crock-Pot).  I do enjoy cooking for the most part but not when it is five o’clock and I have no idea what is for dinner.   Although Brandon laughed at me the first time he found our menu posted to the refrigerator door last year I know that he secretly enjoys it.  He will look it over when I put it on the fridge and say Yeah we are having _____ this week!  Are you ready to try it yourself?  Grab a cup of something hot and delicious and let’s dive in to menu planning!

1)      I like to start with a piece of paper and write out all of the days of the week.  Then underneath the days I write B, L, D (breakfast, lunch, dinner).  Next I write down any special meals that we will be eating out or having company in our home for.  I also try to note when I might be taking a meal to someone as I usually just double the meal and my family enjoys the same meal that night.  Also I think about what food is in season or what meat will be on sale this week. 

2)      Next I like to tackle breakfasts for the week.  In our home we really do not eat cereal since we find it both expensive and lacking in nutrients.  Our breakfast menu varies a little but usually includes 1 nice home cooked breakfast for Brandon on Thursday mornings which would include some type of meat since Thursday is his only morning off.  I also usually alternate between making muffins or a loaf of specialty bread.  Other breakfast ideas that make our menu include: scrambled eggs, smoothies, yogurt & granola, soaked oatmeal, rice pudding, omelets, French toast, waffles, pancakes, fresh fruit, etc.  We also like to include hot tea every morning.  If you are looking to really simplify your breakfast menu I would recommend having a breakfast food on a particular day each week.  For example Mondays would be smoothies, Tuesdays soaked oatmeal, etc. 

3)      In our home lunches are the boring meals and usually consist of some combination of soup, salad, and sandwiches.  If you enjoy leftovers you could also plan on eating leftovers for lunch which is what I do when Brandon has a ministry lunch.  I like leftovers. We also enjoy a nice Sunday lunch each week which does not include a sandwich. 

4)      For dinners I like to plan them around different protein sources (chicken, beef, pork, beans, fish).  Themes would also work well.  We also include soup once a week.  It is nutritious, economical, and a great way to use up leftovers.  A vegetarian dinner also makes its way into our dinner menu once a week too. 

5)      I like to keep a list of favorite dinners so that as I am planning the menu I can just look down the list and choose one.  If you do not have a list then I would encourage you to look through your cookbooks and write down some of your favorites. 

6)      Think about how time intensive the menus that you are planning are going to be.  Right now since I am in a season of tutoring 6 hours a week for the ACT we are enjoying some Crock-Pot meals on those evenings and saving the more elaborate dinners for the weekend. 

For a great prinatable form to help make menu planning easier check out: http://organizedhome.com/printable/household-notebook/weekly-menu-planner-shopping-list

What are your favorite menu planning tips?

Creative Fall Bread

24 Oct

This past year we have really been trying to eat the food that we buy.  I know this might sound silly but we save so much money by making sure that we eat all of the produce that we buy.  it’s also easier to convince Brandon to eat vegetables! 🙂  We are pretty good about menu planning but sometimes I find myself left with some odd ingredients.  Yesterday I found half a can of pumpkin left over from some pumpkin waffles and half a sweet potato.  What in the world could I do with the two of them?  Make a super yummy fall bread!  Trust me it’s really good.  Here is the recipe if you’d like to try it too. 

Mix together:

  • 4 c. flour either all-purpose or whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3 c. sugar-you could probably decrease this if you wanted to
  • 2 t. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 t. each of baking powder, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 t. ground cloves
  • 1/4 t. ground ginger.

Then Add in:

  • 2 c. total of: sweet potato and/or pumpkin (I was about 1/3 c short so I added 1/3 cup applesauce to make the total amount 2 c)
  • 1 c. oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 c water

Divide dough between 2 greased loaf pans filling about 2/3 of the way full.  Bake at 350 degrees 1 hour-1 hour 10 min or until done.  Let cool for 15 minutes and remove from pans.  This recipe yields 2 loaves but you could easily cut it in half.  I like to make at least 2 loaves of bread at a time.  I either freeze one, give it to a neighbor, or take it to a friend (which I did last night).  Enjoy!  This makes your house smell heavenly!

Fall Pumpkin Chip Muffins

19 Oct

My first attempt at any fall home decor. I think I'm better at baking than decorating! 🙂

Are you in the mood for something festive that just screams FALL?  For the last month or so I’ve been enjoying the beauty of fall.  Crisp walks, falling leaves, having the windows open, candles burning, snuggling up under a blanket, and getting out all of those fall recipes once again.  As far as fall food I love all things pumpkin.  One of my favorite stores Aldi now has canned pumpkin.  Yipee!  So add a can of pumpkin to your grocery list and try these Pumpkin Chip Muffins.  They are amazing.  They taste best when eaten with a friend and savored along with a cup of hot tea.  I was blessed to make some this past weekend with none other than my good friend Sarah Burton who came to visit. 

Pumpkin Chip Muffins

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 c. sugar-any kind is fine
  • 1 (15 or 16oz) can of pumpkin
  • 1 1/2 c. oil (you can replace some of the oil with applesauce if you like)
  • 3 c. Flour-tastes good with whole wheat even! 
  • 2 t. baking soda
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1 t. salt
  • 2 c. chocolate chips

Beta together eggs, sugar, pumpkin and oil.  Then add flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Place in greased muffin cups and bake at 400 16-20 minutes.  Cool for 10 minutes and remove.  This recipe makes 2 dozen but is easy to cut in half if you only want a dozen.

The Untapped Resource-Your Local Library

18 Oct

My local library is very nice.

When was the last time that you visited the local library?  Has it been days, weeks, months, years, have you ever been?  For me growing up the library was one of my favorite places to visit.  As a little girl it just seemed like any book that I wanted could be found at this magical place called the library.  Today I have learned that our local library might not have every single book that I would like to read, but if it doesn’t they will order it for me for FREE!  That’s right it doesn’t cost a thing!  How cool is that?  Our family has saved tons of money borrowing books instead of buying. Often times I find myself finishing a book and thinking well that was okay but I sure am glad I didn’t pay $15 for it! 

Some libraries even offer online resources or allow you to print copies for free.  When I lived in Louisville you could print 150 pages for free which saved me 15.00 a month!  Many libraries also subscribe to newspapers and various magazines (which you can check out).  While visiting a friend in TN a couple of years ago I was reminded of just how cool the library was when we spent a leisurely Saturday morning there reading magazines and talking (quietly).  Many libraries also have private rooms which can be reserved free of charge or private study rooms.  When Elijah was just a few months old and we didn’t have internet at our house these study rooms were perfect for us.  I would put Elijah in the stroller or front pack and would sit in one of the study rooms watching lectures for my classes. 

As our family continually tries to live a more frugal lifestyle in order that we may give more generously we continually find the library to be one of our favorite places.  I’ve even turned Brandon into a huge fan with all of the free dvds available (just remember to return them on time).  Most libraries offer free activities from infant/preschool story hours to creative classes for adults.  A couple of times a month Elijah and I enjoy Toddler Tales which is so much fun.  I also check out at least 5 books for Eli so I am not reading the same books over and over.  One of our families favorite activities is actually to walk 2 miles to the library and come home with our library bag stuffed full. 

The next time your tax bill comes in the mail take a close look at it.  Whether you ever step foot in the door you pay for the local library so plan a trip to your local library!  What are your favorite things about the library?