Thursday, June 26, 2008

Fair Trade Coffee at Walmart for $2.75

I made a (rare) trip to Walmart today for a few staples that I cannot find at Kroger (my favorite grocery store) and I found a display of coffee like the one pictured, except that instead of saying Rainforest Alliance, it says Fair Trade and it has a certified fair trade seal. I decided to try it (I also bought our regular coffee - Community Coffee). There was no price listed, but it rang up $2.75 and the receipt said the regular price was $5.88. We're going to try it in the morning, and if its good, I'll head back tomorrow to stock up.

Check out Comical Coupon Sense for more Thrifty Thursday :o)

Making Yogurt

My friend Erin called this morning while we were making yogurt. She asked me to post a picture tutorial on my blog. I figure, since there are already many really good one's out there, I would just link to one of those. Here is my favorite. I pretty much make it the same way she does. :o) Please post a comment if you make your own - I'd love to know what you use (kind of milk and starter - we use Horizon's organic whole milk and Stoneyfield plain for starter), how you do it and how you use the yogurt (ours goes in smoothies, mostly).

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Farmer's Market Find

I put this box of granola bars in the picture to give a little perspective. This is one huge cantaloupe. Its actually the size of a small watermelon. Before I cut it up, I weighed it! 10 lbs, 8 oz.

The farmer who grows these is at the market each week with both cantaloupe and watermelons and his are the best we've ever had! As soon as they are in season in your area, I highly recommend locally grown, organic watermelon and cantaloupe - you will not believe the difference.

They're Back!

Look what we got to play with yesterday :o) It flew off before we really got to hold it, but the boys did get to touch it. Yay for cicadas! Can you believe that big green thing came out of that little brown shell? Amazing!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Baked Oatmeal Recipe

Erin (Hi Erin ::waving:: )asked for my baked oatmeal recipe. It is based on the baked oatmeal recipe from Money Saving Moms. I looked all over her blog and cannot find it, but I did print it several months ago, so I will post her recipe first, then mine.

MSM Baked Oatmeal:

4 eggs
1 Cup Oil
1 1/2 Cup Sugar
6 Cups Oats
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 t salt
cinnamon (optional)
2 Cups Milk

Let sit for 5 minutes so the milk will soak into the oats. Then pour into a greased 9X13 pan and bake at 350 for 25 minutes. If you like, you can sprinkle chopped apples and raisins and cinnamon on top before baking.

Here is how we make it here:

4 eggs
1 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar
4 cups oats
1/2 cup white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup flax meal, buckwheat flour, oat flour, wheat germ (I just put the 1/2 cup measure out and add these things until I get to the top of the measuring cup - basically what you are looking for is 2 cups of flour - we just break it down as noted)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk (sometimes I replace part of the milk with a few tablespoons of pureed white or garbanzo beans to up the protein)

In addition to letting it sit for 5 minutes, you can refrigerate it over night before baking. This recipe makes so much that we only bake it once every 3 weeks or so.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - June 23, 2008

Visit the Organizing Junkie for hundreds of menus.

Here's what we're having this week. I'm putting all locally grown items in bold.


Baked Oatmeal
Toast with Blueberry Jam
Eggs and grits
Banana Nut Pancakes
Yogurt and fruit

Lunch (will include one fruit and one veggie):

Broccoli Cheese Soup
Grilled Cheese
PB & honey
Turkey Sandwhich
Chicken Salad Sandwhich


Carrot and Cucumber sticks with ranch dip
Blueberry Popsicles
Smoothies (strawberries, blueberries, bananas, yogurt, orange juice)
pumpkin scones
watermelon (holy cow - this is the best watermelon I've ever had!)
Hummus and pita


*Chicken Stir Fry over rice (some of the veggies for the stir fry are local - squash, onion, and green beans for sure and possibly more, depending upon what's at the market mid week)
*Hamburgers (found a source of LOCAL GRASS FED BEEF!)on a dressed bun (tomato is also local) with new potatoes and cucumber salad
* Chicken Enchilladas, squash and zucchini, broccoli
*Pan Fried Tillapia, black beans and brown rice
*Leftover Buffet

We are also having guests for the weekend. I plan to roast two chickens. I'm going to leave one whole and we can have it as roasted chicken with side dishes. I am going to take the meat off the other chicken and dice it. Half will go into chicken salad and the other half will be mixed with BBQ sauce. These will stay in containers in the fridge for quick sandwiches.

On a side note, this weekend, I cooked up a pound of pintos in the crock pot. I love doing this - its sooooo easy - the beans soaked all day Saturday then I cooked them Saturday night. We made refried beans out of some of it and the rest was packaged in 1 cup portions for another week. I'm trying to do this every week or every other week with different kinds of beans to give us a variety ready to use. We currently have white beans, black beans, garbanzo beans and now pintos in the freezer. Yay! I'll probably have to cook more garbanzos this week as we'll use the last of it for hummus this week.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Gardens, Blueberries and Kids

I sure hope these tomatoes start turning soon. This is two of our Roma tomato plants. We have 4 more Roma and 3 slicing tomatoes (can't remember the variety right off, maybe early girl?)

This is the potato box that my Dad made for me when he and Mom came up to visit. They're growing well.

Here is "garden cat". She "helps" me whenever I'm in the garden.

These blueberry scones are delicious. I substituted butter for the shortening called for in the recipe.

And finally, a cute kid photo. Here are the boys, keeping cool in our inflatable wading pool.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Blueberry Picking and Blueberry Popsicle Recipe

Today we went with some friends to a U-Pick Blueberry/ Blackberry farm. We had a blast picking berries and the farmer had this really cool machine to sort and bag the blueberries. The kids really enjoyed that as well.

We came home with a big bag of blueberries and another of blackberries. The blackberries are almost gone already, but the blueberries will take a little more time. We like them in stuff but don't eat them fresh. Here is something I'd like to do with some of them.

Juice Popsicle

The author of the above post uses lemon juice (which sounds wonderful), but I thought I'd substitute strained blueberry pulp. I'll post the results.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

About Me

Meegan visited my blog today and posted a comment on MPM. When I checked out her blog, she had this fun question and answer posted, so I decided to put it here.

1) What was I doing 10 years ago?

Ten years ago, I was Corporate Accounts Manager for Enterprise Rent A Car in south Louisiana.

2) What are five things on your to-do list for today?

Weed and water the garden (will take less than 10 minutes, so you don't have to feel sorry for me ;o), dust, cook, a little school work with the boys, maybe take them to a movie

3) What snacks do I enjoy?

cookies, hummus, chips

4) Things I would do if I were a billionaire?

Buy a farm house with lots of land, both farm and wooded. Buy dh some german shepherds. Buy stuff for our family. Support charitable organizations.

5) Three Bad Habits

Procrastination, wasting time online, snacking

6) 5 places I have lived…

Lafayette, LA, Broussard, LA, Shreveport, LA (only 3)

7) 5 Jobs I have had

Dancing teacher, Substitute Teacher, data entry clerk, sales clerk, car rental agent

We're supposed to tag someone, but I'm not going to do that. Instead, I'll invite you to copy and paste to your blog. Please post a comment or link if you do.

Menu Plan Monday June 16th

I'm feeling much less organized this week, so, though its Tuesday, I'm still working on the menu for this week. Here's what we have so far.

Monday: DH wanted gyros from the Greek restaurant in our neighborhood for father's day, but they are closed on Sunday, so we had them for supper on Monday with homemade hummus and homemade tabouli.

Tuesday: Sloppy Joes, sweet potato fries

Wednesday: Lasagna, homemade bread, squash

Thursday: leftover buffet

Friday: BBQ chicken pizza, caramelized onion pizza and plain cheese pizza with a veggie tray

Saturday: grilled veggie panini, black beans and brown rice

Sunday: pesto over pasta spirals with roasted chicken, squash and broccoli

Blueberry pancakes
baked oatmeal
eggs and bacon
yogurt with fruit

cut up fruit (strawberries, peaches)
blueberries or blackberries
veggie tray
cheese stick
pretzels and peanut butter
biscuits and honey butter
banana nut bread
shortbread cookie

chicken salad sandwich
pb and honey sandwich
broccoli cheese soup
we'll probably have leftovers at least a few times for lunches

This week, I think our local "meal" will be spread out over several meals. I'm just not feeling organized enough right now to pull together a whole meal, but later on in the week, I may manage to make it happen. We will be doing a lot of local eating regardless. I have put everything we bought local or grew ourselves in bold. Not bad :o)

Visit I'm an Organizing Junkie for more menu plan Monday.

Friday, June 13, 2008


Look what my boys brought in from the garden.

How things have actually happened

On Monday, I posted our menu for the week. A few things have changed since the menu was posted. First, I was sick on Tuesday, so we ate Monday's leftovers on that day. Second, the chicken we got from the farmer was smoked already, so it did not get turned into sticky chicken, lol. And, since smoked chicken isn't my favorite thing in pot pie, we had it with BBQ sauce on buns on Thursday.

Also, at the market, we found a few things we weren't expecting that we have worked into our meals this week, most notably, a cantaloupe- yummy! We've been snacking on it all week. Plus, we found locally grown blueberries to use in our blueberry muffins, which have been delicious. I think I'll probably freeze the muffins we still have so that they we can eat some next week.

I also made homemade hummus for the first time in a long time. It turned out wonderfully. A week ago, I soaked then cooked the dried chickpeas in the crock pot (love that crock pot!). They were frozen in1 cup packages. Yesterday, I pulled one out, defrosted it then used it in this recipe (adding water since there is no canning liquid). This recipe calls for peanut butter, but I used tahini paste instead. We snacked on it yesterday and will have the rest tonight with supper. Tonight's supper will be the last of the pastured chicken with hummus and veggies for dipping and tabouli using parsley from the garden and onions , cucumbers and tomatoes from the farmer's market.

Summer's bounty has made it really easy to eat locally grown this week.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Garden Pictures

Yay! I think I've figures out our picture problem. Here are some pictures of the garden. The first is from the second week of May and the second is from today. Things change pretty quickly this time of the year :o)

And here is a close up of one of the tomato plants it is in the top left block and is in shadow in the above picture.

Oh, the today's picture shows that we put "mulch" in the path and around the outside of the garden. This was done this morning and N was my helper - he was a great help!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

WFMW: Getting Your Kids to Eat Veggies

I'd always read that getting your kids involved with growing and preparing veggies would help encourage them to eat those veggies. My oldest is a very picky eater. He likes (and consequently will eat) exactly one vegetable: broccoli. Now I know, if he's going to like only one veggie, broccoli is a good one, but as his mom, I can't help but want more for him. Getting him to try new things is a struggle to say the least. Experts say that getting them involved in the preparation will encourage them to try new things. For years, I'd tried having him "help me" prepare supper by opening the bag of frozen veggies and putting them in the sauce pan. I wondered why he would help me, but still not eat what he was helping me prepare.

Things have been different lately and I think I know why. As of yesterday, he proudly boasts liking 4 veggies (and he's genuinely excited). The first is, of course, broccoli. The second is carrots. Here's how it happened. I asked for his help pulling the carrots out of the garden, then washing them off before bringing them into the house. Once he had them inside, he asked if he could cut off the tops and help peel them with the veggie peeler. After he'd done that, he asked if he could taste one (gasp!). "Ummm. . . yes, of course (trying to sound casual)." Turns out, he likes carrots :o)

A few days later, this same scene was repeated with cucumbers.

And yesterday, we bought sweet corn at the farmer's market (yeah, I know - a kid who doesn't like corn - whats up with that?). I wasn't even planning to prepare one for him since he doesn't eat them, but he asked if he could help me shuck, so I said, "yes". While we were shucking and talking, he casually mentioned that he'd like to eat one, too. So we prepared one for him and he ate it!! :o) And he loved it!

I think the key to making this work is growing or buying the least processed veggies possible. I think it is the act of growing, harvesting, washing, shucking, peeling that makes them want to try it. And I know he won't love every veggie he tries, but I'm going to keep asking for his help and hoping he'll try more new things. After all, we have sweet peas to harvest today.

Visit Rocks in My Dryer for Works For Me Wednesday

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Baby Praying Mantis in the garden!

It looks just like this baby mantis on a blade of grass (I did not take this picture - I am still having trouble resizing my pics - any advice?). It is about 3/4 of an inch long and just adorable. I hope that finding one means there are more. Mantises are one of N's favorite insects so it was so exciting to see one in real life and not just read about one.

Here's a cute website that is linked in the Usborne Book Bugs. Click on the mantis's mug shot to read fun mantis facts. You can email me or leave a comment for more information about Usborne's Internet Linked Books.

Night Animals

We've recently enjoyed several evenings of night animal "visits". A few nights ago, we finally saw our owl and, we guess, it's young (there was an adult and a juvenile hunting together). They were so beautiful and the kids, especially, enjoyed seeing them.

We've also had fun chasing fireflies. Dh and I were commenting, as we chased bugs (all in the name of helping the kids, of course ;o) , that we'd not seen fireflies since we were kids ourselves. Are fireflies typically found in more rural location as opposed to in the city? I know that as a kid, I spent lots of time in the country at my grandparent's farm - I wonder if that's where I remember fireflies from. Hmm. . .

In addition, we got our first glimpse of the year of our bats. Two of them were out hunting mosquitoes (yay for bats!). Its fun watching them hunt. Last year, we had a close encounter with a bat - too close, in my opinion. You can read about it here.

To go along with our fun "nature studies", we've enjoyed a few Usborne Books including Night Animals. The kids always get so much out of our read aloud time when they have some practical experience with the things we are reading about. It was neat that there were pages about bats, owls and fireflies in the book and also fun websites to explore and extend the learning.

Squash in the garden

Because squash are supposed to be such prolific producers, we only planted one plant hoping to get enough from it for use now and some to freeze. I am especially fond of squash, so when it started flowering, I was thrilled. For a week now, it has been flowering and finally, yesterday, we had the first female flower. Since I've yet to see bees in the garden, I decided to pollinate it myself with a small paint brush. Here's hoping this is the first of many squash in our garden.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Menu Plan Monday- June 9

Last week, I tried something new for my menu. Instead of planning a specific meal for a specific day, I listed all of the meals we could make last week with the ingredients we had on hand. I also listed all breakfast items, lunches and snacks available. As the week went by, I would check the list a few times per day and make selections then scratch my choices off the list. This worked well for us, so I'm doing it again this week. Here's the menu:


Baked Oatmeal
Corn Cakes and bacon
Eggs and grits (twice)
fruit cup with yogurt

Lunch (all accompanied by a veggie and/ or fruit):

PB and honey
grilled cheese sandwhich
Broccoli Cheese Soup
BBQ Roast Sandwhich (from freezer)
Turkey Slices wrapped in lettuce and dipped in ranch (oldest won't eat the lettuce)

Snacks (they usually have a morning and afternoon snack, so some may repeat):

Homemade bread with honey butter
Blueberry muffins with lemon glaze
carrot and cucumber sticks with dip
chocolate chip cookie bars
hummus and pita


"Crab Cakes" made with Tuna & white beans on dressed bun with cantalope
Pan Fried Tilapia (from last week's menu)
Roasted Sticky Chicken, squash, tomato and cucumber salad, peaches or plums for desert **
Chicken Pot Pie made with a biscuit crust
Leftover buffet

** This will be our locally grown meal for this week. See this post to read more about our eating local challenge.

Check out Menu Plan Monday for more menues.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Eating Locally grown/ raised food

Our farmers market opened this weekend. We enjoyed browsing the booths and making well thought out purchases. One of our goals for many years has been to "eat local". So many people benefit when you buy directly from farmers. Of course, the farmer benefits by selling his/her produce and our family benefits by eating food that was often organically grown on a small, sustainable scale (we always ask before buying - I like to know how our food was grown/ raised). In addition, because the food is not transported across the country or even across borders, everyone benefits just a little by reduced fuel consumption and pollution.

We bought zucchini and yellow squash as well as tomatoes, black berries, cucumbers and homemade blueberry jam. We even found a source of pastured chicken (they were sold out by the time we arrived. We will be there at the opening bell next market!).

Before we moved here a little over a year ago, we used to buy a lot of our food directly from a wonderful sustainable farm. This wonderful farm sold us in-season veggies as well as eggs, pastured chickens, tillapia and beef. We missed them so much when we moved. It was hard at first to get used to buying our meat at the store and not knowing who raised it.

Since moving here, we've only found pastured eggs and now the chickens. But I am so excited about the chickens :o) Our goal for the next few weeks will be to eat at least one complete meal each week made from completely local foods. I'll post about it the plan in detail on Monday for Menu Plan Monday. I'm hoping that as the summer progresses we can increase from one to many local meals each week.

Here's what we made for lunch with our farmer's market finds. We had a grilled veggie panini (the bread was homemade, but not with local wheat). We oven grilled the thinly sliced zucchini, and squash in olive oil and salt/ pepper then we piled it on the split loaf (it looked like a french bread loaf). We sliced the tomato and put that on top of the grilled veggies and topped it with cheese (not local) and put it under the broiler to melt. We drizzled olive oil and red wine vinegar and the put the top on and sliced it into individual sandwiches. Yummy! We had our berries for desert. The cucumber we saved for snacking today. That was yummy, too.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Make it Yourself Monday - Lemon Berry Slush (Sonic)

We love Lemon-berry Slush from Sonic. Strawberries in lemonade slush - yummy! After some experimenting we've figured out how to make a close approximation at home.

Start with a simple syrup (1 cup sugar and 1 cup water heated until the two are combined). Add to this a cup of lemon juice then add a cup of frozen sweetened strawberries, thawed slightly. Dilute with 3-4 cups of water (to your taste) then freeze for a few hours. To serve, thaw at room temp until it softens then take it for a spin in the blender to get it all good and slushy. Serve in your prettiest glasses.

Check out Thrifty Florida Mom for more Make It Yourself Monday ideas.

Math Games?

I think my kiddos pick up more math from games than all of the lessons and worksheets I foist upon them. And don't think they'll let me get away with sneaking lessons in disguised as fun games. They can sniff out "educational" games quicker than Piccolo (our cat) can spot a bird. This morning, A & I played Uno and I was once again reminded how much they pick up just having fun. A is getting ready for Kindergarten this coming year, so we are still working on number recognition. Not surprising, Uno is perfect for practice. What did surprise me was that our next game, Clue, Jr. also offered number recognition practice (as well as counting practice and reasoning skills). It was a pleasure watching him working to recognize his numbers because he had a need to know them.

I think I'll teach him solitaire next ;o)

Menu Plan Monday, June 2

Here is our menu for this week. Its a little different than the menu I usually plan. I'm trying something new. I've planned breakfast, lunches, snacks and dinners, but have not assigned days for the menus. I'm going to see how that goes and report next Monday.


Baked Oatmeal
Pumpkin Pancakes
Eggs and grits
Yogurt and granola


Hot Dogs
Chicken Salad Sandwhices
Grilled Cheese
PB & J or honey
Turkey Wraps


Strawberries and cherries
Veggie tray and dip
Homemade Bread
Banana Nut Bread
Oatmeal Cookies
hummus and pita


Oriental Chicken Salad, Breadsticks
Burgers, tots, carrot sticks
Meatloaf, oven roasted asparagus, corn
Baked chicken, pesto over spiral pasta, squash, cheddar biscuits
Pan Fried Tilapia, black beans and brown rice, broccoli

For more menus, check out I'm an Organizing Junkie and Menu Plan Monday.

We have a winner!

Congratulations to commentor #4, Wendy! You won Fairy Cooking and Pirate Things to Make and Do! Please check your email and reply with your mailing address so that I can get your prize out to you! Thanks to all who participated - this was fun and I plan to do it again in a few weeks, so check back often.