Friday, December 11, 2009

Trying Not To Be TOO Excited Yet

Thanks, everyone, for the prayers you all have offered on our behalf. I'm trying not to be too excited yet, but we have a contract on the house :) Yay!! Provided the appraisal comes back where we need it, and all other miscellaneous details fall into place, we might be in our house in a month or so. Now, the fun of packing (for the 3rd time in just over a year - sigh) begins.

I'll put up some pictures when I can get some taken. :)

Monday, December 7, 2009

I Think We May Have Found It

We are still in the process of deciding what to do, but we have found a home we really love. Please pray for all involved in this process. We really love it and hope it can work out. Thanks!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Update on My Mom

I mentioned a few weeks ago that my Mom has been experiencing memory issues that have slowly become noticeable over the last year or so. Her doctor is still trying to determine the cause of the memory issues, but we learned last week that she had a stroke a year or two ago and never realized it. The Doc called it a Mini-Stroke and said that it could be the root of her memory loss issues, but we won't know for sure for another month or so (if the meds help, then we will know that it was stroke related). They are also trying to determine the cause of the stroke and in the mean time, she is taking meds to reduce her risk of another stroke.

I appreciate the prayers you all have been offering. We will continue to pray that she gets better and I will update as we get more information.

Bento Lunch 11-10-09

It has been a while since I posted one of my hubby's lunches so here is a pic of today's lunch in his Laptop Lunches lunch box system.

Clockwise from bottom left: Honey Mustard Chicken (from freezer), asparagus blend veggies with balsamic vinagrette, mixed nuts and a satsuma orange.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 11-9-09

I'm back from my spontaneous blogging break with this week's menu. During my break, I started something new for our family by making a monthly, rotating menu. For the most part, my family likes to have the same things for dinner, so I created a monthly menu that will repeat each month for 3 months. At that time, I plan to change it up some, based on my family's preferences at that time. The menu is flexible, allowing for me to include local seasonal fruit and veggies and also allowing for trying some new recipes. So far, dinner is all that I've planned out on a monthly basis. I'm hoping to add breakfast, lunch and snacks to the regular menu plan soon. All local items are bold.

There are some things that are on the menu every week as regular items. Those include 2 roasted chickens (we eat some of it for one meal, use some in soup, use some in salads and use some for chicken salad sandwiches for lunch and for hubby to take to work - we also make soup stock from the bones of the chickens), homemade yogurt, homemade focaccia bread (we use it for sandwiches - yummy!!), and broccoli cheese soup (my oldest loves this soup - its the only one he'll eat).

This week, we are also having:

With the roasted chicken we're having purple hull peas (from Dad's garden) and steamed broccoli

Chicken enchiladas with a green salad and steamed Cauliflower

Meatloaf (turkey and lamb mix) with caramelized onions, baked butternut squash and spinach salad

Pan Fried Tilapia, black beans and brown rice, green salad

Chicken Noodle Soup (with lots of local, seasonal veggies)

This week, breakfasts will include:

Whole Wheat Pancakes with pecans and satsumas (we LOVE satsumas and my Uncle grew these!!)
Eggs and Ham with grapefruit
Pear Sauce Muffins with yogurt
Yogurt with fresh fruit
Fruit Smoothies (including local blueberries we froze during the summer and lemon juice from our lemon tree)

This week, lunches include:

Chicken salad sandwiches (with spinach from the farmer's market)
Greek Feta Salad (will include some lettuce and cherry tomatoes from my garden)
Leftovers from dinner
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

This week, snacks include:

Banana Nut Bread
Fig Pinwheel Cookies (with pecans)
Raw Milk Cheddar Cheese
Pumpkin Bread
Chips and salsa (we are almost out of our homemade salsa)

This post is my entry at Menu Plan Monday.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 10-19-09

We had such a great weekend. Some friends from out of town visited and we enjoyed their company and the sun was out so we enjoyed the outdoors for the first time in weeks!

Here is our menu for this week. The items in bold are from a local source, either our garden or a local farmer.

Breakfast with repeats (we usually have a fruit or veggie with breakfast)

Baked Oatmeal (I made some yesterday while our guests were here and we have lots left over - used local pecans)
Eggs and ham
Cheese and spinach omelet
Homemade Greek Style Yogurt with maple syrup

Lunch (with a fruit or veggie)

Grilled Cheese sandwiches
Chicken Noodle Soup
Broccoli Cheese Soup
Cheese Enchiladas


Berry Smoothies (this past week, I added some lemon juice from our lemon tree to the smoothies and it added such a nice brightness to it. I'm going to try to find a local source of lemons for using when our tree runs out of lemons.)

Pumpkin Bread
Banana Nut Bread (local pecans)
Carrots and cucumbers with cheese spread
Hummus and Pita
Apple Sauce
Chips and salsa (we are down to only 3 jars of the salsa we made this summer)


Chicken Noodle Soup, Green Salad (we are starting to use some of our salad greens from our garden, though we still don't have a lot, so it is a supplement to what we buy at the grocery store) with feta and kalamata olives (my current salad addiction).

Mexican Lassagna (recipe from 30 Day Gourmet website for members only, otherwise I'd post a link), sauteed squash, cut up fruit

Roasted Chicken, Smothered Cabbage, carrots

Meatloaf (combination of ground turkey and ground lamb), green salad, purple hull peas (from my Dad's garden).

We've also got some leftovers in the freezer that we need to use up (lassagna and chicken quesadilla filling), so we will have those on the remaining days of this week with an added veggie or two.

Go to Organizing Junkie for Menu Plan Monday and see hundreds of menu plans.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hobby Farms Email Newsletter

I started getting Hobby Farms email newsletter a while back and enjoy it very much (even though I don't yet have a hobby farm, lol). There are articles about farming stuff (like raising chickens) but it also contains great recipes and even decorating ideas. Here is a link to the most recent newsletter which contains a sign-up link if you enjoy the newsletter as well.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 10-12-09

Pecans are falling off the trees now and my parents have a tree in their back yard, so we have been the recipients of many many pecans. We are shelling them as we need them and using them in lots of yummy things. We are also getting some cold, very humid weather (which seems even colder than it actually is) which is making us want soup even more than usual. Here is this week's menu. All locally grown food is in bold.

Breakfast with repeats (we usually have at least one fruit with breakfast):

Eggs and caramelized onions
Soaked oatmeal (with honey, pecans, pastured butter, cream and coconut oil)
Blueberry Smoothie (with homemade yogurt and local blueberries (in our freezer) and lemon juice from our lemon tree)
Pumpkin pancakes

(with one fruit and one veggie):

Chicken Salad Sandwiches
Green Salad (lettuce and spinach from our garden) with kalamata olives, feta cheese, and walnuts
Leftovers from supper


Chips and Salsa (we made the salsa during the summer from farmer's market produce)
Snickerdoodle Blondies (first time trying them - they look yummy!!)
Soaked Whole Wheat Bread with pastured butter and honey (I cut the recipe into fourths since this is our first try with soaked bread. If we like it, I'll make the regular recipe and freeze the extra - I soaked it yesterday and over night and plan to bake it this morning)
Carrots and cucumbers dipped in herb cheese dip (I am using homemade Greek style yogurt in place of the cream cheese in this recipe)
Cashew butter on graham crackers
Hummus and pita
Homemade yogurt with maple syrup or honey
Blueberry Smoothies


French Onion Soup (homemade stock made with locally raised grass feed beef bones) with a green salad

Gyros with tabouli (using homegrown parsley) and hummus

Pan Fried Tilapia, caramelized onions and mixed veggies, sauteed sweet potatoes

Cream of Butternut Squash Soup, soaked bread with honey butter, gingered carrots (from Nourishing Traditions cookbook)

Pizza and green salad (not sure what kind of pizza yet - we are having guests so we will make what they like)

Grass-fed Beef Burgers, broccoli, and if our potatoes from the garden are big enough, we will have new potatoes - if not, probably fries made with store-bought potatoes.

Check out Organizing Junkie for more menu plans.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Yummy Homemade Lemonade from our Homegrown Lemons!

This is all that is left of our first pitcher of homemade lemonade made with our homegrown lemons. It was so yummy! Here's how we made it:


1 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice (it took 4 lemons)
1/2 cup sugar (most recipes call for more, but we like ours sour)
3 cups water

Add all ingredients to a pitcher and stir until dissolved. Enjoy :o)

Are you enjoying anything from your garden this week?

Friday, October 2, 2009

This is why I've been so distracted and not posting much anymore

Over the last six months or more, we have noticed that my mom has not been herself. She has been having minor memory issues, a little difficulty getting her point across in conversations and she has been excessively tired. At first we just chalked it up to all of the changes in her life during the last year (she retired, among other things), but when things continued to get worse, we finally realized that something more was wrong. She had an appointment this week with a memory loss specialist and is now under his care. They are running some tests and hopefully we will have some answers, or at least a starting point, soon.

Hopefully, now that we are getting close to a diagnosis, I will be more able to concentrate more on posting. I am amazed at how emotionally draining this whole process has been. Next week should be back to normal at "The Book Lady Online".

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tell Me Thursday

Our youngest son had his first loose tooth. It's extraction was imminent and I was trying to get a picture of it before it came out. He struggled to position his mouth so that I could see the tooth, and this is the best picture I got (note that you cannot see the tooth, lol).

He lost the tooth the next day and here is what he looks like now:

Tell Me Thursday

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Monday, September 21, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 9-21-09

Its hard to believe its already Monday again, and time to plan this week's menu. I am looking for a new soup recipe, so if you have a favorite, please share in the comments. Here is what we're going to have this week:

Breakfast (will include fruit and/ or veggie):
Smoothies made with fruit and homemade yogurt
Scrambled eggs and/ or ham
French Toast with butter and maple syrup
Breakfast burrito
yogurt with maple syrup or fruit

Chicken Salad Sandwich
Green Salad

Mixed nuts
Carrots and cucumbers with dip
hummus and chips
yogurt with maple syrup
chips and salsa


Tuna Burgers (like a crabcake but made with leftover tuna or canned tuna, and served on a toasted bun with lettuce, etc) with oven roasted potatoes and caramelized onions

Pan Fried Tilapia, sauted squash and black beans with brown rice

Fish Tacos (made with leftover tilapia) with chipotle mayo, lettuce, and avacado and fresh fruit (probably red grapes and strawberries)

Grass-fed beef roast with a green salad

BBQ beef sandwiches with veggie tray and dip

I'd also like to make soup one day but am looking for something different from our usual soups (chicken noodle, broccoli cheese, french onion, shrimp and corn chowder, black-eyed pea soup). I'd love any soup suggestions you might have. What does your family love?

Find more menus at I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bento Lunch 9-15-09

Bentos have been in the news lately with back to school time and everyone being more budget conscious. A bento is a lunch container that has other little containers or compartments inside into which you can place appropriate sized servings. We use bentos made by Laptop Lunches for dh's lunch every day at work and for myself and the kids when we travel. We love our bentos and I love that bentos are getting lots of press, but I am a little concerned with some of the articles. Some bento users enjoy using artistry when packing their lunches. These lunches are beautiful and contain fruit, cheeses or sandwiches shaped with cookie cutters, eggs cut out to look like animals and other really pretty and interesting elements. You can see pictures of these beautiful lunches by doing a simple search online. They are lovely, but these types of pictures and their references in articles about bento concern me. I'm afraid that people will see these and think that a bento must look like this and if theirs don't that they are failures and they will give up on bentos, or never even give bentos a chance because it looks like too much work.

So, I am here as a bento using underachiever to tell you that its okay to pack lunches that do not contain bunny shapped hard boiled eggs or apple slices cut out in star shapes. Pack your bento with leftovers from dinner, sandwiches or salads. Add a few little snacks to the smaller compartments and enjoy your efforts. Even without all the fuss and artistry (unless of course you want to cut out shapes - nothing wrong with that), your lunch will look beautiful and inviting. My kids are much more likely to eat something from their laptop lunch box, even if they do not usually eat it, than that same thing on a regular plate or container. The above photo is dh's lunch for today. Isn't it pretty? Its just a salad, mixed nuts and strawberries and blueberries. Now imagine that same lunch in a plastic container and sandwich baggies. Definitely not as inviting that way, don't you think?

Do you bento?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Garden Update 9-14-09

Our little seedlings are growing.

Our lettuce is getting bigger and starting to put out new leaves.

The spinach is also starting to put out true leaves that are growing so quickly.

Here are the little tiny carrots. They are so cute :o)

We are still getting tomatoes. In fact, since the weather has become more mild, they have begun to put out more tomatoes than before.

We are also getting more peppers.

We also have small beet seedlings, fingerling potato seedlings, one cabbage seedling and parsley seedlings. Our lemons are starting to turn yellow. I am planning to plant a few more cabbage, lettuce and spinach plants, some garlic and some kale.

What's happening in your garden?

Menu Plan Monday 9-14-09

My mind has not been on cooking for the last few weeks and my heart has not been in it for longer than that. For a while now, we've been concerned with the health of a parent and trying to get appointments and diagnoses, etc. I am amazed at just how emotionally exhausting that can be. If you are a praying person, we could really use your prayers. Thank you.

Okay, the menu for this week is going to be plain and simple:

Breakfast (with repeats) Includes fruit and/ or veggie:
Eggs and ham

Lunch (with repeats) includes fruit and/ or veggie:
Chicken Salad Sandwiches
Turkey Sandwiches
Salad with Olives and Feta cheese and shredded chicken
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Fresh Fruit
Veggies in ranch dip
Chips and Salsa
Cheese cubes
Hummus and pita
Cookies (if I can motivate myself to bake)
Pumpkin Pie (N has been asking me to let him bake one for two weeks - Maybe this week)

Broccoli Cheese Soup and green salad

Turkey Meatloaf with sauteed sweet potatoes and green salad

Roasted Chicken with acorn squash and broccoli

Chicken Noodle Soup (crock pot)

Pan fried Tilapia in a wrap with lettuce, cheese and Chipotle mayo with fruit

This post is linked to Menu Plan Monday at Organizing Junkie.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Decorating on a Budget - a peek into our house

As I've mentioned before, we moved a few months ago and are currently living in a really cute, but very small rent house. This house is less than half the size of our last house and consequently, most of our things are in storage, including all of our home decor items. Since we were planning to only stay here for a short time, we brought only the bare necessities and it almost felt like we were camping - really (check out the chairs in the living room to see what I mean)! Especially since we did not decorate with curtains or table decor when we moved in.

Over the last few months, this has begun to bother me - I needed this house to feel like home, but didn't want to waste money on decorating a place we would not stay in for more than a year or so. Since we left all of the curtains for the new owner of our last home we didn't have any of that in storage. I made it a mission to make the house feel like home while spending less than $100. I found most of the items at Big Lots. I got window sheers for $5 each, tension rods for $1 each, a table cloth and place mats for less than $14, a throw pillow for $8 and a mantle decoration that says "Home" for $10. I used other things that we already had, like a lamp, pictures and such to fill around the edges. So for about $60 (which I know I could have spent elsewhere - decorating was NOT necessary, but it has been good for my state of mind) we made this place feel like home and not just a some place to sleep. Worth it to me! Here are some pictures:

You can see the "home' decoration, the sheers and the throw pillow in this shot.

The sitting/ reading area (magazines in the basket).

Close up of the mantle.

Dining area, complete with homeschooling stuff everywhere, which adds to the "home" feeling.

It is definitely not completely decorated, by any means, but it is good enough for us and gives the place a soft, homey feeling which is what we were after. And the best part, I think, is that the items we bought will most likely be able to be incorporated to the decor of any house we end up buying and if not, can be sold at a garage sale for close to what we paid for it. We are planning to stay here for at least 6 months, maybe longer, so I will probably add little bits here and there and maybe add things to the walls (besides just the world map for school, lol). In fact, I love this idea and think that maybe even I could make it.

This post is my contribution this week to Works For Me Wednesday.

Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday

Five Minutes for Mom

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Garden Update - September 3, 2009

My little garden is in transition. Since the weather has become more mild, some of the summer veggie plants have rebounded and begun producing again. In addition, some of the fall plant seeds have been sown and are germinating.

This week, I've harvested one lemon (our first!!), two small "pear" tomatoes and a bunch of basil that I am currently drying.

We've planted lettuce seeds and now have 14 lettuce plants that are all about 2.5 inches tall and growing every day. We've also planted 32 carrots and most of them have germinated and are growing nicely. In addition, we planted 17 spinach plants, 8 beets, two cabbages and 2 parsley plants that have yet to germinate, (though I only planted these on Monday). Most of these are planted in the two moveable raised garden beds that my Dad has made for us.

He also gave us a bunch of compost he made with organic materials from his garden. We are using it to add to the soil of all of the containers in the garden to feed the plants. Having the raised beds on wheels is helpful in moving them around to maximize sunlight. There is no one spot in our yard that gets more than a few hours of sunlight a day, but if we move the plants twice a day (once right at sunrise and once at lunch time), we can arrange for them to get 8 hours of full sun. Rolling beds make that chore much easier, and thus make it more likely that we'll do it.

Still left to plant for the fall garden are onions, garlic, one or two broccoli plants (N, our oldest wants to grow these himself - it is his favorite veggie) and potatoes. Plus if we can find the space for them, I'd like to grow some kale and chard and more beets and cabbage.

I love to read about other's gardens, so if you have a post with an update, leave a link in the comments and I'll check it out. Thanks :o)

Monday, August 31, 2009

Coconut Oil Update

Lat week, I posted about how our family has added coconut oil to our diet and that we were beginning to see some of the purported benefits in our lives. In the week since that post, we've begun to see even more benefits to our health. These benefits include fewer food cravings, fewer mood swings, more energy and I even think it may be helping with allergies!!

Hubby and I put coconut oil in our coffee (did you see my pretty new cup?). Earlier this week, I just stopped putting sugar in my coffee, cold turkey, and I don't miss it one little bit :o) Yay!! Love, love, love coconut oil! For as long as I can remember, I've struggled with carb addiction, with all of the accompanying mood swings and food cravings. The coconut oil really has helped cut out the cravings and the mood swings. I still have to pay attention to what I'm doing or else I might find myself mindlessly eating, but as long as I catch it before I do it, avoiding unnecessary eating is not difficult, though it used to be very difficult.

Thanks to the coconut oil, I'm eating less and I feel great! I have more energy (I have the energy to do something physical every day, which I didn't just two weeks ago), less stress (I cannot get over how calm Bryan & I both feel), we are sleeping better at night and I think it is even preventing some allergy/ sinus issues. When we visit our hometown, we usually come home with sinus issues that are allergy related and that take about a week or so to clear up. We just got home yesterday and none of us have any congestion. The only thing that was different about this visit was the coconut oil. Could that really be what kept us from getting sick?

**Disclaimer: I am not a doctor nor am I a nutritionist. I am just a mom who reads a lot, both on the internet and in books. Don't take my word for anything. Do your own research and talk to your health professional so that you can make smart, informed choices concerning your health and that of your family.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 8-31-09

This week is going to be a Pantry Challenge week - a week where we try to create all of our meals with items we already have on hand. This week, I am hoping to only need to buy milk and maybe onions (but only if we run out). Here is our menu and as always, the locally grown items will be in bold.

Breakfasts (with repeats):
Banana nut pancakes with butter and honey or maple syrup
Eggs and Bacon
Oatmeal with flax, walnuts, pecans, coconut oil, butter, and blueberries
Kefir Smoothies

Lunch (with a fruit and a veggie):
Peanut Butter and Honey or Jam
Turkey Sandwiches
Breakfast Burritos

Homemade bread with honey butter
Kefir Smoothies
Yogurt with fruit preserves or maple syrup (my favorite!!)
Banana nut bread
Watermelon (such a yummy yellow flesh watermelon grown by a farmer we know)
Fig-Pecan Pinwheels
Carrots, Cucumbers and Cherry Tomatoes with ranch dip
Herb Cream Cheese and Crackers
Chips and Salsa
Hummus and chips

Grass-fed beef burgers with caramelized onions, cheese and homemade buns with sweet potato fries and watermelon.

Chicken Noodle Soup (summer squash, zucchini, broccoli, navy beans, spinach, corn, small pasta shapes) and homemade bread with honey butter.

Tuna Burgers on homemade buns with a side salad (if the lettuce is still fresh) or carrots and cucumbers (if the lettuce is not fresh anymore)

Shrimp and Potato soup and pan roasted asparagus blend veggies.

Honey Mustard Chicken with purple hull peas and broccoli

Panfried Tilapia with black beans and brown rice (made with homemade beef broth) and any veggies we still have on hand

Butternut Squash Soup and what ever else we still have in the fridge

What are you having this week? Share your menu at I'm An Organizing Junkie (will link as soon as her post is up).

Isn't It Pretty?

Look what I found at an antique store this weekend. Though I am sure it is not a true antique (it says on the bottom that it is microwave safe, lol), I think it is beautiful and I will enjoy having my morning coffee in such a beautiful cup and saucer.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Pears, Pears and More Pears

I spent most of the day yesterday canning pears off and on. Our house is small and the kitchen is small so the batches must also be small. It took time, but it was fun and well worth the effort. Here are the jars of pears so far:

There will be more as I am only about 2/3 of the way through the basket of pears - yay!! I figure that this many jars should last us at least 6 months.
Here is the pantry of home canned items before the pears were added. There really is no room for more, so I'll need to clear off another shelf :o)

The rest of the pears will have to wait until Monday as we have a busy weekend planned. Tomorrow we are headed to the farmer's market. I may try to get some cukes if there are any to make some pickles. What are you putting up at your house?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Putting Up Pears

Look what Bryan came home with last night from work. His coworkers are some of the most generous people I've ever met and one of them sent this home with him. He often comes home with treasures like this.
If I had to guess, by how difficult it was to carry, I'd say this is about 50 pounds of pears!! Here is a picture of one of the average sized pears in my hand, to give some perspective.

Aren't they beautiful! We are going to eat some fresh, as we, just this year, have learned to appreciate fresh pears. The rest is becoming pear sauce. Here are pictures of the first batch.

It is just delicious and this batch filled 2 and 1/2 pints. I have more pears cooking in the crock pot and another saucepan right now and I hope to can them this afternoon. I'm thinking that this second batch, which is larger than the first, will fill at least 4 pints. These two batches have gotten us only about 1/3 of the way through the basket of pears! I'm so excited - the boys love applesauce muffins (we have been using pear sauce in them lately) and applesauce cake (which we can also use pear sauce to make). I am especially pleased because food security is so important to me - the more we can be self sufficient, the less we need to depend on the national food system and the less likely we are to be affected by outbreaks.

Tell Me Thursday - Angel

This lovely angel was part of a family plot marker in a beautiful Jewish cemetery near a military park we visited this past weekend. This cemetery was so beautiful and peaceful, even though it was right in the middle of town, next to a busy road and of course the military park.

About a month ago, the boys and I read the book Ms. Katz and Tush which shows a visit to a Jewish Cemetery as Ms. Katz reads her Kaddish and places a small rock on her husband's grave to mean remembering. We were amazed to see many, many small stones all over the graves in this cemetery and were touched by the love and remembrance they symbolized.

This post is linked to Tell Me Thursday.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Kitchen Tip: Health Benefits of Coconut Oil and Why We Use It In Our Kitchen

Since we realized years ago that artificial trans-fats were dangerous for consumption, we've been using more butter, olive oil and for baking, coconut oil. When a recipe calls for shortening we usually use half butter and half coconut oil because it provides the same texture as shortening but without all of the dangers of artificial trans-fats. I'd read about the health benefits of coconut oil many times (great article here and lots of information here on the Weston A Price Foundation website), but had never tried taking it daily until last week when my friend Paula mentioned adding it to her morning coffee. Bryan and I tried it starting last Monday and so far, the results have been amazing!

Bryan's job is very stressful. I won't go into details, but lets just say that it takes all weekend to "recover" from his work week (just in time to start all over again). I did not tell him that coconut oil purports to have a soothing effect on stress, just about how it aids in vitamin and mineral absorption and that it is anti microbial, but yesterday, after a only week of adding it to his coffee, he asked me if it had a soothing effect because he was relaxed, even after a very stressful day. It amazes me that the effects could be noticed so quickly.

Nineteen years ago, I had thyroid cancer and have been on replacement therapy ever since. My weight has fluctuated since then, on its own, without much of a pattern and I have found it very difficult to lose weight, much less keep it off. Even trying to eat low carb works for a short while, as long as I don't eat ANY carbs (which is so difficult, what with carb cravings and all). The minute a carb crossed my lips, though, all of the work I'd done to get to that point was lost as carb cravings would return with a vengance and they are hard to fight. If you've every had carb cravings you know that the cravings are often accompanied by light-headedness, shakey hands, seriously unpleasant mood swings and painful hunger pangs - things that are hard to ignore ( and will last for days if you do ignore them).

The coconut oil in my coffee has helped me with those cravings. I drink it in my coffee at around 5:00 am and am not usually hungry until 9:00 or 10:00 am. Then a small bowl of yogurt or an egg and some veggies will satisfy my caloric needs for many hours. Then, when i do get hungry my tummy rumbles for a few minutes and if I can't get to a snack or meal, the rumbling goes away for a little while - no cravings, no side effects. I'm filling up faster when I do eat and am satisfied without any carbs and with smaller portions of veggies and protien. If I do eat carbs, like oatmeal (to which I add coconut oil - it is so delicious) or a tortilla, I still do not have the cravings and swings in mood if I've had coconut oil that day. It is amazing! And the best part is that my clothes are literally falling off my body - in just a WEEK! Yesterday, I reached up and touched my chin - and it felt like half of it was gone! I looked in the mirror and my double chin had disappeared! I'm losing weight and I feel GREAT, not tired or grumpy.

There are many, many more benefits to coconut oil and by itself, coconut oil cannot cure all of your ills, but as part of a healthy diet consisting of mostly veggies with some fruit and protein, coconut oil can be beneficial.

**Disclaimer: I am not a doctor nor am I a nutritionist. I am just a mom who reads a lot, both on the internet and in books. Don't take my word for anything. Do your own research and talk to your health professional so that you can make smart, informed choices concerning your health and that of your family.

This post is linked to Kitchen Tip Tuesday.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 8-24-09

It is 57 Degrees outside right now. In August. In the deep, deep South. Oh my goodness! We are so blowing off cooking today and hanging out in that amazing gift of beautiful August weather. Ok, I probably can't blow off cooking altogether, but I bet we can make something in the crock pot or defrost something from the freezer.

All locally grown/ raised items are in bold.

Breakfasts (with repeats):
Oatmeal (quick oats, flax meal, chopped walnuts and pecans, blueberries a little brown sugar, and coconut oil).
Scrambled eggs and bacon
Breakfast burrito (local veggies and eggs)
Banana Nut Pancakes

Lunch (with at least one fruit of veggie):
Chicken Salad Sandwiches
Meatloaf Sandwiches
Peanut Butter Sandwiches
Other leftovers

Pear Sauce Muffins
Raw Milk Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Carrots and cucumbers with dip
Hummus and pita
Blueberry Fruit Leather
Yogurt with peach jam
Chips and Salsa
Kefir Smoothies (blueberries)
fig pinwheel cookies

Meatloaf with caramelized onions, green salad, steamed broccoli, Italian foccacia bread

Here is a picture of my plate from the above meal - meatloaf with onions,
mixed fruit (instead of broccoli) and green salad.
I skipped the bread.

Chicken Noodle Soup with squash, broccoli, spinach, white beans, small pasta shapes, carrots, onions etc. with a green salad and bread

Quesadillas (fajita marinated chicken, salsa, corn, black beans, cheese), green salad

Seafood Ravioli (with local shrimp - did not make this last week) in a scampi sauce (or if I'm feeling really ambitious, buerre blanc ) with roasted mixed veggies and green salad.

I'm only cooking 4 times this week. We will have leftovers once, something from the freezer once and sandwiches once.

I'm an Organizing Junkie hosts Menu Plan Monday every week - why don't you post your menu and join in.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Garden Update 8-23-09

My parents came up to visit last week and brought me a birthday gift - a portable "raised garden bed" filled with "Mel's Mix" (1/3 compost, 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 vermiculite). It is 2X2 and set on casters so that I can move it around as needed to maximize sun exposure. How cool! I'd like to build at least 2 more.

The weather has been much cooler here and the summer plants are reacting with new growth and enthusiastic fruit production. We have tomatoes and peppers once again and the basil and parsley are growing with enthusiasm.

The fall garden plans are coming along as well. Already planted and growing (though small) are about 12 lettuce plants (mesclun), Planted today are three varieties of carrots, luna white, tendersweet and little finger. We planted 32 in all. I'm planning to get spinach planted this week as well as some spring peas, which I think will grow well here in the fall. Mid September, I hope to put in a few potato plants, some beets, onions, garlic and kale. Also, if there is space, I'd like to plant a few cabbages. And that's why I need at least two more "raised beds".

My Birthday Weekend

We had a fun weekend! I turned 40 - I mean 25 - and my family spent the entire weekend making my birthday special. They are so amazing! My favorite part of the weekend was our picnic lunch today after Mass. The temps here have been very fall-like so we took advantage of the respite from the heat and had lunch outside in the yard after which we:

did some cloud watching

caught up on reading

and kicked back and put up our feet.

A Picture of Hubby's Lunch for Monday

I have not posted a picture of Bryan's lunch in a while. I just packed this up with leftovers from supper. He has roasted chicken and caramelized broccoli in the bottom left. Top left is tabbouleh in the silicone cupcake liner and sauted squash. Top right is mixed nuts and bottom right is strawberries, blueberries and pineapple. Yummy! If you are new to my blog, you may not have seen some of the posts about how we use Laptop Lunches bento style lunch boxes and we LOVE them so much!! You can also see a few other pictures here, here and here.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Yummy Breakfast (or dinner) Burrito

Inspired by this blog post (and be sure to check out the website while there - tons of great recipes!!), we made our own version of a yummy breakfast burrito on Monday, when I forgot to defrost the chicken.

We used store-bought tortillas and then caramelized onions and frozen veggie blend in butter in my cast iron skillet. After those were done, I scrambled some eggs and sausage added them to the tortilla, sprinkled on some cheese then topped with the onions and veggies. These were so delicious, we ended up having them again the next day :o)

I'm linking this post to Mouth Watering Monday.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Menu Plan Monday August 17-23, 2009

My 40th birthday is this weekend and I am a food nerd, so I'm getting some kitchen stuff for myself for my birthday. I was blessed with gifts of cash from family and I'm going to add that together and add some more to it and get myself a nice wooden cutting board, a chef's knife, a cheap pasta roller and we need a new coffee maker - I'm debating whether to get one with an attachment to steam milk or just get a french press. Or we could just give up coffee altogether - hmmmm . . . . I don't think I'm ready for that yet.

We recieved a bag full of pears this weekend from my grandparents. Those are destined to become pear sauce today and will ultimately end up in "apple sauce" muffins. Local produce is even better when it is free :o) We are also getting a second batch of figs from the trees out back. What we don't eat fresh will probably end up as fig preserves.

I also was able to get my Nourishing Traditions book from the storage shed, where it has been for almost a year. I'm hoping to work some NT kitchen experimenting into my plan this week as well as trying my hand at making pasta. Here is the menu plan (as usual, all local items are in bold):

Breakfast with repeats (will include a fresh fruit or veggie):

Scrambled eggs and ham
Oatmeal with pastured butter, walnuts and honey
Blueberry French toast (eggs)
Homemade Greek Style Yogurt with fruit jam
Waffles with yogurt and fruit jam and ham or bacon


Baked potatoes with broccoli and cheese
Turkey Sandwiches with pesto, tomatoes and lettuce
Peanut Butter and Honey sandwiches

Pear Sauce
Pear Sauce Muffins
Fig Pinwheel Cookies
Cheese Cubes (Fontina)
Hummus and chips or veggie sticks
Chips and salsa
Yogurt and fruit jam
Homemade bread and honey butter
Popcorn (made on the stove top with coconut oil, butter and celtic sea salt - so yummy)
Kefir Smoothies


Monday - Pan-fried tilapia Fish Tacos (chipotle mayo, lettuce, avacado, shredded cheese and sour cream) with chips and black bean and corn salsa

Tuesday - Crockpot Roasted Chicken with squash sauted in butter and salt and green salad

Wednesday - Crock Pot Chicken Noodle Soup - (carrots, celery, onions, garlic, spinach, small pasta shapes and any other veggies in the fridge that need to be used up) with homemade bread and butter.

Thursday - Grass-fed Beef Burgers with caramelized onions and a green salad.

Friday - Seafood (probably shrimp, since I have some in the freezer) ravioli (going to try my hand at making the pasta) with steamed and buttered broccoli and a green salad.

Saturday - my birthday - we are eating out.

Sunday - leftover buffet.

Check out hundreds of menus at I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Thursday -

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Blabbermouth with Nothing to Say?

Anyone who knows me in real life knows that I rarely have nothing to say. I'm a talker, to say the least, which is much of the reason why I blog - to have another outlet for all of my talking, just in written form. But this week, for some reason, I don't have much to say. I think maybe my blabbering mouth is on vacation. For some reason, instead of blogging or talking, this week, I seem to just want to read (even more than usual, lol). So, instead of feeling bad about not participating in all of my regular weekly blog carnivals, I'm just going to declare it a blogging vacation and enjoy lounging around reading (when I'm not cooking, cleaning up after cooking, doing laundry or tripping over toys, lol) a bunch of mostly fluffy fiction.

So far this week I've read, The Backyard Homestead, edited by Carleen Madigan, Open House by Elizabeth Berg, listened to The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger on my iPod while doing some house organizing (I read this once before and enjoyed it very much - hoping to see the movie this weekend), A Guys Guide to the Good Life, Virtues for Men by Robert P. Lockwood (will be reviewing this for The Catholic Company on my blog next week), and I'm currently reading Grave Surprise by Charlaine Harris (like I said, fun, fluffy fiction, lol). Typically, if I find a book I like, I will usually read everything my library has by that author. I read a lot, so I am always looking for something else to read. Who do you read? Please offer suggestions of your favorite books/ authors.

I have a stack of fiction that I checked out of the library, but I may wait on those and finish reading the second book in the Outlander series (Dragonfly in Amber), which I had to force myself to stop reading since I had become obsessed with it and was doing nothing else but reading. Since I'm taking a reading vacation, I have permission to obsess about a 700 page book, right?

And on that note, I'm off to get breakfast ready and clean up the kitchen after that so I can dive back into 18th century Scotland. See ya Monday :o)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 8-10-09

Yesterday was the third time I do a two week shopping trip and I have to say that the more time passes, the more I love shopping for two weeks worth of groceries at a time. It seems crazy to me that just two little changes in our shopping habits could affect our budget so much, but between not shopping at Walmart any more and shopping for two weeks of groceries at a time, we have cut our grocery expenditures by over $30 per week. I think that part of the reason our expenses are coming down is that while Walmart is less expensive on some items, they are more expensive on other items (the one's we bought most often). Plus, I think that Walmart is designed to get you to spend more money (and I do not fault them for this - they are in business to make money), and when shopping with kids, it I have a hard time spending an entire hour saying "no" to everything, so I usually give in more than I do at Kroger.

We also hit our farmer's market at least once a week, though we try to go twice a week for fresh produce. Last week, we did an eat local challenge, trying to eat only locally grown/ raised foods. We did okay, though by the end of the week, we were eating non-local proteins. Still, we enjoyed the challenge very much and it pushed me to try harder to find local protein sources and get to know our local farmers better.

Here is this week's menu. All locally grown items are in bold.


Oatmeal with pecans or walnuts and dried cranberries, blueberries or strawberries
Scrambled Eggs and fruit (pears, cantaloupe, watermelon)
Kefir Smoothie (blueberries)

Leftovers from Dinner
Chicken Salad Sandwiches with heirloom tomatoes and pickles
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and grapes and strawberries
Peanut butter and honey or jelly sandwiches with cucumbers

Kefir Smoothies (blueberries)
Pears or Pear Sauce
Applesauce Muffins made with pear sauce (substituting pear sauce for the apple sauce, whole milk for the skim and butter for the veggie oil).
Coconut, Macadamia Nut Cookies (sugar cookie recipe with coconut and macadamia nuts added)
Chips and Salsa
Blueberry fruit leather
Cheese cubes
Popcorn (popped in coconut oil on the stove top - this stuff is so delicious!)
Homemade Bread with honey butter

Baked Chicken with Rosemary Potatoes, Steamed Broccoli, and Purple "Green" Beans (found these and some heirloom tomatoes at the farmer's market on Saturday)

Italian Crockpot Black Eyed Pea Soup with a green salad (cucumbers and tomatoes)

Steak with purple hull peas, sauted squash and cantaloupe

Lasagna, green salad (cukes and tomatoes) and baked patty pan squash

The soup and the lasagna both make lots of leftovers, plus we will be eating out at least once this week, so I think I will only have to cook four nights this week :o) .

Visit I'm an Organizing Junkie and Menu Plan Monday.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Eating Local Update for Thursday

As this week progresses and we try to stay with a mostly local diet, it becomes clear that being extremely organized and prepared is essential to having a varied diet. Its funny. Eating a SAD (Standard American Diet) diet (years ago) which contains mostly corn seems so varied, yet eating a wider variety of things by eating real food from local sources seems limiting this week as we actually do it. I wonder why our bodies are reacting this way. I mean, with the exception of our protein source, we had a great deal of variety available to us, yet it does feel like we are eating the same things over and over again. Local stuff we have:

Yellow Squash
Patty Pan Squash
Sweet Potatoes
Cherry Tomatoes
Blueberries (frozen)
Pickled Peppers
Pickled Okra
Red Peppers

This is a pretty big list of stuff, yet this week, it does not feel like a lot. I really think it might be the limited protein sources. We are used to eating a great deal more chicken and fish and since they are not on the list, I think we are missing them more acutely. Last night, we did have chicken (not local) with our locally grown veggies - and I remembered to take a picture :o)

We had chicken Parmesan with local cantaloupe, cucumbers and sliced sweet potatoes sauteed in butter and celtic sea salt. So yummy! That settles it - I've got to get serious about finding a local source of clean chicken. I'm going to ask every farmer this weekend at the markets (we are planning to go to three farmer's markets) if they know of anyone who has chicken available to sell. There has to be someone.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Tell Me Thursday

Pretty self explanatory :0) What the picture doesn't tell is the motivation behind this little business. The previous week, we had discovered a flea market type place in our hometown, while visiting. At this place, my kids found a vendor who was selling toys - cheap. This business venture was to raise funds to buy lots of inexpensive toys. They earned $7.00 and only spent $3 and still ended up with a box full of "new" toys.

Tell Me Thursday

Garden Update 8-6-09

We are currently experiencing a thunderstorm, so I won't have pictures until later, when the rain stops. There really isn't much to see, though. Most of the garden looks like it is dying. We do have a few things growing, though. The sunflowers we planted a month or so back are growing well and flowers are forming. Sunflowers are so beautiful and are one of my favorite flowers, so I'm looking forward to the blooms. The lemons are also at full size and are starting to slowly begin showing some yellow. :) To say we are excited would be such an understatement! We all cannot wait!

Over the weekend, I will be acquiring boards and compost and I am hoping to put together a few raised beds to place over the (currently empty) landscaping for growing our fall garden. The container garden has been interesting, but honestly, did not even come close to providing us with enough produce for more than one or two side dishes a week. We need a bigger garden. And since it looks like we will be renting this place for a while, I am going to have to get creative and adapt it to suit our needs. I have most of our fall garden seeds ready, but I do need to get onion and garlic if I hope to grow them. Last fall, my Dad grew potatoes which I would like to do as well. I will also need seed potatoes. One thing I love about our climate (that I need to remind myself whenever we have weeks on end of 100+ degree temps) is that we can garden year round, so just as one harvest is ending, we get the excitement of starting over again, right away.

Visit a High and Noble Calling to see and participate in How Does Your Garden Grow.

Farmer's Market Finds and Eat Local Challeng Update

There were only 3 farmer's at our mid week market, but they each had something different, so we ended up with a nice variety of things (we bought something from everyone). I am particularly excited about the cantaloupe as it may be one of the last we have this season. One of the amazing benefits of a challenge like that is that we are trying new things and since there is very little fruit in season in our area right now, we are learning to like pears (I'll be 40 in a few days and this is the FIRST time in my life that I've actually enjoyed eating pears!) We also made pear sauce out of some of them and have enjoyed that as well.

You know, eating locally has really stretched us over the years. Were it not for wanting to support local farmers we would never have tried and learned to like things like kale, cooked cabbage and beets. In fact, its hard for me to believe that only 3 years ago, I had to ask the farmer what to do with the cabbage we were buying, lol. I've also learned to like some things in their natural state that I used to only eat cooked into something else. For example, tomatoes and blueberries. Until this year, only my dh would eat blueberries out of hand, but now we all do and we love them! And until last year, I did not like fresh sliced tomatoes (I think because grocery store tomatoes are so Styrofoam like), but now - yum!

We have been eating local eggs for breakfast the last few days. Today I have an early appointment, so we will probably just have the leftover pancakes from Monday (in the freezer) with local honey. Tuesday we had pizza for lunch - they boys just wanted plain cheese, I made mine with caramelized local onions. Tuesday's supper was BBQ grassfed beef sandwiches with local tomatoes. I'm sure we had other things to eat that day, but on Tuesday I felt particularly sick, and I don't remember everything we had. Yesterday's lunch was PB sandwiches and we made and enjoyed some yummy fig pinwheel cookies (now I know what we will do with all of our fig preserves). The cookies are delicious, though a bit rich (they contain our homegrown fig preserves and local pecans), which is a good thing, because it keeps me from eating too many of them, lol.
We made burger buns yesterday and for supper we had tuna burgers (at dh's request) with pears and sliced tomatoes and cucumbers. It is hard to imagine for me, but we are getting tired of eating beef. I think today we will probably have chicken to go with our yummy local veggies from the market.

So far, making an effort to eat only or almost only locally grown foods has been a fun and eye opening experiment. It has stretched us in some interesting ways and I'm hoping to put together a wrap up post about it over the weekend.