Monday, January 30, 2012

Frog eyes!

 Frog's glasses finally came!  It was so cute to see him put them on.  He just looked all around like he was seeing things for the first time!  When we got home he says, "I got glasses, yahoo!"

Its going to take a bit for his ears to toughen up, but hopefully since he can see so much better, he'll forget about that pretty quickly.  I think he looks so cute!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

What's Cookin'

Mon~Chicken Alfredo (freezer), cauliflower, cabbage
Tues~Tacos x 3 (let's try this one more time, still haven't gotten to it), rice, black beans
Wed~San Francisco pork chops (freezer), Breakfast potatoes, green beans
Thurs~Pizza, cold veggies, fruit
Fri~In Canada visiting family
Sat~Out on the way home
Sun~Chili (freezer), brown rice, bread

Question for all you foodies out there:  Have you ever made polenta?  It looks really good to me and I'd like to try this recipe:
Polenta with sausage and fresh mozzerella

What do you think? Any tips/tricks that I should know?

GRCM 2012

I had a Groupon for the GRCM that expired this week so we went on Wed.  

These blocks were fun.  The boys followed the pattern pages to make tall towers.  Aaron thought the whole museum was pretty neat.

Playing bank.

Checking out all the loot.

The mirror tunnel was Aaron's favorite.  He screamed with joy.

The museum was a bit busy, but Andrew waited patiently for his turn with the big bubble ring.

I don't think we'll be going again anytime soon.  Admission has gone up to $7.50 each so it would cost me almost 40 bucks to take all my kids.  And Andrew's almost too big for the museum.  But it was a nice morning out for the kids.

Making Butter

I had about 1/2 a cup of whipping cream left so I thought the boys and I could try make some butter.  The boys shook it in a jar for a bit, I shook it a bunch, and we ended up with butter and buttermilk.

I poured off the buttermilk and then put the ball of butter on some paper towels and squeezed the excess liquid out and salted it a bit.  It was delicious on homemade bread!


 Isn't it a lovely snowman?  The yellow tow rope is Chris's creation (its hair!).

The boots and snowsuit were a bit much for Aaron.  He wouldn't even try walk.  But hey, he's only been walking just over a month!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Good for the Wallet: Cheap Drano

Finally got around to trying this on the sink drain in our bathroom.  After using Drano countless times with little improvement, I figured there was no harm in trying baking soda, boiling water, and bleach to fix the problem.  First, I poured about a quarter of a box of baking soda down the drain and let that sit while I boiled the water.  After pouring most of the kettle down the drain, I let that sit for about 10 minutes and then followed it up with a healthy dose of bleach.  I then took an old toothbrush (a very handy cleaning tool) and scrubbed as far down the pipe as I could reach (and pulled out some nasty black junk).  I heard a gurgle and all of a sudden I had a smooth running drain! 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

What's Cookin'

So this weeks menu plan went down in flames.  I think maybe I made one meal out of it.  We were all sick and no one really felt like eating until yesterday (Chris made some pretty fabulous spaghetti.).  But I am thankful that now all of us have had it and hopefully it's done, and I'm very thankful that Chris has a job that if necessary, he can do from home while watching 4 boys so his wife can rest.  :-)  Because that's what I did most of the day Thursday and watched a lot of cooking shows (And now I think I can be an Iron Chef but that's a tale for another day.).

Here's next weeks menu:
Mon~Spaghetti x 2, cauliflower, artisan bread (I even have the Italian sausage cooked already.  I feel so on top of it!)  :-)
Tues~Tacos x 3, chips and salsa, raw veg
Wed~Freezer meal
Thurs~Pizza, raw veg
Fri~Some kind of beef (maybe steak), mashed potatoes (freezer), roasted winter veg, salted caramel cheesecake
Sat~Chili, brown rice, cornbread
Sun~Meatball soup, rolls

FYI-Kitchen tip
I went grocery shopping Tuesday night and forgot the potatoes in the car trunk.  By the time I rescued them today, they were froze solid.  I was thinking I would have to throw them away, but after they thawed a bit, I peeled them and cut some mushy spots off and then made freezer mashed potatoes using PW's recipe here.  Phew!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Meijer Deals~Jan.15-21

I was going to take a pic, but I forgot.  Anyhoo, here's the best deals I see:

(And speaking of fruit, have you ever had a pinata apple??  They had them at Meijer this week.)

Boneless pork ribs~$1.89/lb (The only thing I ever do with these is brown them and stick them in the crockpot on low for about 4 hrs with barbecue sauce.  Any other ideas??)

Mott's apple juice~I did not get these because they were totally gone, but if they are at your Meijer, you can get 5 bottles for 79 cents each.  Just use (2) $1/2 Meijer Mealbox coupons and you automatically get $5 off when you buy 5.  Maybe I'll be able to get some later this week.

Eggs~99 cents/dozen (limit 4)

I can relate

What's Cookin'

The dreaded sickness came to our house yesterday with 3 boys falling ill.  Chris is home today but starting to feel better.  I'm not planning on cooking dinner, maybe eggs and toast for the boys and I.

Tues~Tacos x 3 (didn't get to this last week), brown rice using this method (it works really well!), black beans, chips n salsa
Wed~Sloppy Joes, oven roasted potatoes, cold veggies
Thurs~Spaghetti x 2, green beans, artisan bread
Fri~Pizza with this crust, salad  (I have tried 5 zillion pizza crust recipes, some good, some not so good.  Maybe this will become my go-to pizza crust recipe?)
Sat~Chix Alfredo (freezer), broccoli
Sunday~Meatball soup, artisan bread

Sunday, January 15, 2012

"You can't bad-attitude someone into a good attitude."

"It is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance. Notice that it is God’s attitude, His disposition, which motivates us to change. God motivates us with kindness."

From this post.

Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? 
Romans 2:4

Sunday Gleanings

Chris suggested I listen to Dr. Beeke's Family Living class and I listened to the first one today, Building Convictions in Your Children.  This is an excellent class and I highly recommend it to parents, especially those with young children who are just starting out on their parenting journey.

Dr. Beeke laid out the following 6 traits we should stress to our children:
1. Prayer should be foundational.
2. Show them that life is empty without communion with God.
3. Confess known sin.
4. Inform and live out your conscience.
5. Dedication to life's worthwhile activities.
6. Teach the conviction that life is all about God.

Raising our Children to be Gatekeepers is the next class in this series.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Money Saving Mom~Book Giveaway

Money Saving Mom was the first blog I started following way back when I really started getting serious about all the different ways we can save money.  Crystal, from Money Saving Mom, recently wrote a book and it is being released today!  To celebrate, many bloggers are giving away free copies.  Visit Keeper of the Home here to register to win 1 of 5 copies.  You can also go here to The Freebie Junkie's blog to win 1 of 5 copies.    Also, check out Money Saving Mom's list of bloggers who are giving away 45 copies of her book!  Or buy it on Amazon.  All proceeds from her book are going to support a Compassion project in the Dominican Republic.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Meijer Deals~Jan. 8-14

Meijer released some new Mperks coupons this morning and now you can get 3 Kool-Aid Jammers for 33 cents each!  They released a bunch of mperks that make for some pretty cheap Nabisco snacks and crackers.  Check out the match-ups here at Saving Addiction.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

What's Cookin'

It's freezer cooking week at my house.  The bold meals will be ones I can double and stick in the freezer. 

Mon~Enchilada stuffed pasta, salad, corn
Tues~Baked Penne, green beans, artisan bread
Wed~Sour Cream Beef Noodle bake (church potluck)
Thurs~San Francisco Pork chops, rice, green beans
Fri~Tacos, cold veggies, chips n salsa
Sat~Chris's cousin's wedding
Sun~Creamy chicken noodle soup, artisan bread

Friday, January 06, 2012

Christmas gift ideas

Am I jumping the gun by getting ready for next Christmas at the beginning of the year?  I don't think so, especially since starting now will save me money in December.  I stopped in at Goodwill tonight where all their remaining Christmas items are 50% off.

Aren't these mugs cute?  I bought mugs that I filled with homemade treats for gifts this past Christmas and I paid about $4 each for the mugs, which I thought was an ok price.  But these mugs?  Only 25 cents each!  And much cuter than the ones I bought.  I don't feel bad about buying used mugs since they're in perfect condition and I plan on filling them with candies or cocoa, like this recipe:

World's Best Hot Chocolate
Recipe from Short Stop


8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate (I use mini-chocolate chips)
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Store mix in an airtight container.

For 4 servings:

2/3 cup cocoa mix
1/4 cup water
4 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a large pan on low heat, stir cocoa mix and water until melted. Add milk and beat with whisk until smooth. Heat on low until hot. Add vanilla. Serve.

*For a single serving, add 2 heaping tablespoons of mix in the bottom of a mug. Pour 1/8 cup boiling water (don't measure - just add enough to cover the chocolate) and stir until the chocolate melts. Add milk to the top of your mug and add a splash of vanilla. Microwave until heated.

Now, I love me some Land O' Lakes mint hot chocolate, but this is a close second and pretty economical to make for a gift.  Enjoy!

Edit:  I made the recipe again because I thought it was a bit sweet and now I really do think its the best hot chocolate I've ever had!  I reduced the sugar to 1/2 a cup and substituted 4 oz of chopped mint Hershey's kisses for half of the chocolate chips.  The mint gives a subtle mint taste to the cocoa.  Oh, and do try this with whole milk at least once!  And it doesn't hurt to add a dollop of whipped cream to the top of your mug.  :-)

Meijer Stock-up Deals-Jan. 1-7

There weren't too many great deals at Meijer this week, but here's a couple of items I stocked up on:

*Pork loin- $1.89/lb (not the cheapest I've ever seen but still a decent deal)

*Carrots- $1/ 3 lbs.  I bought 9 lbs!

Here's what I did with my pork and carrots:

 I bought 2 large roasts and cut both in half.  Out of one half, I made 8 pork chops.

 So I ended up with at least 5 meals, 3 roasts and two of pork chops (One of which was devoured already!  Try out the Parmesan Honey Pork Roast I posted in this weeks meal plan.).  Another pork roast recipe we like is this Teriyaki Pork Roast.

I peeled and chopped about 6 lbs of carrots and put them in a gallon ziploc bag.  I'm hoping I'll be able to knock off meal size chunks that I just have to cook (peeling and chopping is done already).

I don't see much at Meijer for next week.  The one great deal is for Kool-Aid Jammers.  Buy 3 for $5 and get an instant $3 off so they'll be 67 cents each.  I did this last year and had enough juice boxes to last all summer so I'll probably do that again.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

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Check out this giveaway here on Growing Home.

Or, buy Jacinda's ebook for just $4.99 and learn how to design a blog on your own.

Monday, January 02, 2012

What's Cookin'

Tues~Crockpot Chicken and Rice, salad, cauliflower

Wed~Spaghetti, breadsticks, carrots

Thurs~Crockpot Parmesan Honey Pork, mashed potatoes, green beans

Fri~PF Changs lettuce wraps, cold veggies, chicken nuggets for the kids

Sat~Pizza, cold veggies

Pizza Sun~Meatball soup, 5 minute artisan bread

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Sunday Gleanings: Conclusion to "Respectable Sins"

Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate

Confession:  I have a really bad habit.  I read about two thirds of a book and then set it aside/forget about it and start another book, usually only to read two thirds of it and start ANOTHER book.  I started this book almost exactly a year ago and finished it today.  

So today I picked up Respectable Sins and burned through the last 40 pages.  The whole book was convicting, but I think maybe my so-called respectable sins particular resonated in the last few chapters.  Here are some things I gleaned:

Chapter 16~The Weeds of Anger
Bridges used the parable of the unforgiving servant from Matthew 18 to illustrate how our debt to God is "utterly unpayable."  In today's money, the king forgave his servant 6-8 billion dollars and the servant was unable to forgive approximately $15,000.  That's like God forgiving us all of our sins and we can't forgive our fellow brother a sin against us.  "We are to forgive because we have been forgiven so much."  A brother's sin against us is utterly insignificant compared to our sin against God.

Chapter 17~Judgmentalism
Bridges called this one of the most subtle of the respectable sins "because it is often practiced under the guise  of being zealous for what is right."  We have to be careful about our convictions because often we elevate our strong feelings to biblical truth.  According to Bridges, "the seriousness of of the sin of judgmentalism is not so much that I judge my brother as that in so doing I assume the role of God."  Clearly, we need to condemn practices that are blatantly out of line with scripture, but we still need to be careful of our attitude, that we don't judge with a spirit of self-righteousness, harshness, or arrogance.
Bridges also warned against a critical spirit, someone who practices judgmentalism constantly and find fault with everything and everyone.

Chapter 18~Envy, Jealousy, and Related Sins
The last two sentences of the chapter really stood out to me:  "Don't go through life harboring envy or jealousy or always having to win or get your way.  Remember, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble" (I Peter 5:5).  Don't place yourself in the position of being opposed by God."

Chapter 19~Sins of the Tongue
If I had to pick one chapter that was "my" respectable sin, it would probably be this one.  I have problems with "outbursts of wrath" (especially with my immediate family) and often wish I could take back things I have said.
The verse Bridges kept going back to was Ephesians 4:29:  "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those that hear."  NO corrupting talk.  This means no gossip, sarcasm, critical speech, harsh words.  "All of these sinful words that tend to tear down another person must be put out of our speech."  
Sins of the tongue include:
Gossip~ "spreading of unfavorable information about someone else, even if that information is true."  How often have we done this??
Slander~"making a false statement or misrepresentation about another person that defames or damages the person's reputation."  Essentially, lying.
Critical speech~"negative comments about someone that may actually be true but doesn't need to be said."
"Jesus said, "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matthew 12:34)."  So, the tongue isn't the problem, the heart is.

Chapter 20~Worldliness
"The warning, then, [from scripture] is that though we use the legitimate things of the world, we should handle them with care lest they become too important to us."
Bridges: I define worldliness as being attached to, engrossed in, or preoccupied with the things of this temporal life....Worldliness means accepting the values, mores, and practices of the nice, but unbelieving, society around us without discerning whether or not those values, mores, and practices are biblical.  Worldliness is just going along with the culture around us as long as that culture is not obviously sinful.

Chapter 21~Where Do We Go from Here?
Be honest and humble enough to admit that some of these sins apply to you.
"God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble" (I Peter 5:5)
"The apostle Paul wrote that it is Christ's love for us that constrains us to live for Him (see 2 Corinthians 5:14-15).  Such love for Him that will drive out our love for the world can only be a response to the deep, heartfelt sense of His love for us."
I think the above bold sentence is so key.  "Christ's love for us."  We can't keep from sin on our own no matter how hard we try.  

I would highly recommend this book.  I plan on keeping it on my shelf and rereading it every year or so.  It is written in simple language that is easy to understand, and Bridges writes in such a humble way, detailing his own struggles with these sins.  There may not be new information in this book, but he highlights many sins that we tend to think are acceptable, but Bridges always drives the point home that Christ died for each of our sins, even the ones we deem acceptable.  They are not acceptable to Him.

A New Year: 2012

Old year's day is a day to reflect on the year that has passed and remember all the mercies God has bestowed on us.  I listened to Rev. Gerald Lewis from the Pompton Plains FRC last night while I stayed home with Aaron and I would like to pose to all of us the two questions he asked in his sermon (in reverse order):
     1.  Where are you coming from?
     2.  Where are you going?
Other questions to consider:  Have I attributed all the good and perfect things God has given me to His goodness or my own initiative?  Have I let the things of this world run away with my heart?  What investments have I made in the kingdom of God and for eternity?

We are not residents here.  Life seems to last a long time, but really its a fleeting breath.  So difficult for the human mind to comprehend.  But remember, even the good things of this earth are temporary and will fade to dust.  The only things that last are the things of heaven.  So let's remember to spend this year storing up treasures for eternity, not our earthly journey.

A good practice that our family has implemented on New Year's Eve is to make goals or resolutions for the coming year.  We even helped the boys each make one.  Andrew is going to follow along in the Psalter at church without prompting and Noah is going to do his computer reading program every day.  Joel's resolution escapes me at the moment, which brings up a good point.  Write down your resolutions so you can periodically refer to them and evaluate how you are doing.
Here are 4 of my resolutions that I want to share with you:
1.  Listen to one extra sermon during the week while the boys have quiet time (spiritual goal).
2.  Exercise 3 times per week (physical goal).
3.  Read one non-fiction book per fiction book (mental goal).
4.  Train boys to do chores by practicing with them so they learn (mothering goal).

I have a few more and I hope that I haven't been too ambitious.  I've read a lot on blogs lately about making goals and tracking your progress so that you see accomplishment, and the new year is a good time to start this practice.

May the Lord bless each of you abundantly with a love for Christ and a willingness to serve Him above all else in this coming year.

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:13-14(NIV)

And another version:
    No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.
    Philippians 3:13-14(NLT)