Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Since there's already a picture here, just a few posts below, of me looking ridiculous and "eating" my homemade yogurt, I figured I might as well post the picture I just emailed The Swag Guy after receiving my first, official, tangible Swag prize.
Here I am "drinking" out of my Ecousable purple (yeah!) water bottle!  At 16oz, it's a bit smaller than I had envisioned, but I think that will be good, because my other one was almost too big to carry around (maybe it was 24 oz?  not sure).  Plus, not having a straw should be nice.  Notice how I am talking about the other one in the past tense, as if it no longer existed.  It does, I just don't like it.  So there.  Just don't tell my sister... she gifted it to me for my birthday just under a year ago -- oops.
To get your own free stuff through Swagbucks, sign up using my referral link on the left sidebar.  I think I've earned $15 dollars in Paypal, $10 in Amazon, and this neat-o water bottle.  Just from searching via their site over time.  Not bad, huh?

Soli Deo Gloria

Friday, March 19, 2010

Nacho Bake

Toni, otherwise known as Happy, has become one of my heroes over the last 6mos? year?  however long it's been since I started reading her blog.  Whether she knows it or not, she's taught me a lot about saving money and raising lots of kids, though of course the former skills are getting more practice currently than the latter.  Oh yeah, and she always has great, easy, inexpensive recipes.  I recently made one that she posted not long ago and - surprise, surprise - it was a hit!  You can find her Nacho Bake recipe here.  I used black beans (couldn't find a can of kidneys lying around... haha), and added a can each of diced tomatoes and corn to the meat/bean mix.  The hardest part was spreading the refried beans around, but this is not a recipe that has to be perfect - which is why I like it!!  As she suggested, I served it with sour cream.  It probably would be good with guacamole too, but I didn't think to take a package out of the freezer soon enough.  The 9"x13" served the 2 of us with enough left for at least one more meal, if not two - and I didn't put any sides or extras with it.  Well, unless you count the cupcake and cookie that we shared for dessert... courtesy of the St. Patrick's Day party put on by the 6th grade cooking class at school.
Are you salivating yet?  If not, this should get you started:
Soli Deo Gloria

Thursday, March 18, 2010

3rd Fruit/Veggie Delivery

Need I say more?  Pears (12 or so), Cameo Apples (about 9), bananas (6 or 7), lettuce (2 bunches), red potatoes (counted, but forgot how many while I walked up the stairs to the computer) and green onions -- all ORGANIC and all left AT MY DOORSTEP by Absolute Organics, LLC!  That's 13.5 lbs of God-created yumminess.  Broccoli was supposed to be in the mix, but since it's not my hubby's favorite and I still haven't cooked what they brought me last time, I asked them to bring more pears and/or lettuce instead.  Since my next delivery is schedule to come right before Easter weekend, I think I'm going to have them "postpone" it until the following week as we'll be out of town for the long weekend and aren't quite eating everything in the two weeks anyway.
When my very basic photography makes you drool so much you just can't wait to get your hands on some produce of your very own, just be sure to tell them I sent you :)

Soli Deo Gloria

Monday, March 08, 2010

Windowed surprise

I had a GREAT time at the church women's retreat this weekend.  It's the second time I've gone, and I'm already looking forward to next year!  I truly enjoy the opportunity to meet women from church and to get to know others better.  We don't have a huge church, but since my husband and I work with the Hispanic church plant, there are plenty of gals that I don't get the opportunity to meet on a normal Sunday.  There were about 40 women at the retreat, and together we enjoyed some great worship time, a few testimonies, some Bible study, free time (which for me included a walk around the beautiful Bonclarken grounds, tea and chocolate cake with some great conversation, a brief nap and some reading time), lots of chatting and games - which is almost the best part, since my hubby is not quite as much a fan as I am, so we don't play many at home.
Anyway, the official topic of this post is the surprise I stumbled upon when I arrived home on Sunday afternoon:

My dear mom did my dining room curtains and my living room curtains (I helped with the latter set) and these kitchen ones were on her To-Do list forEVER!  Since she's moving, she finally gave up and hired someone to actually make them (since we had already picked out and purchased the fabric), and surprised me by installing them while I was gone (technically, she and hubs were still putting on the finishing touches when I showed up, but who cares).  I was totally used to the no-curtain look, since it's been that way for 2.5 years since we moved in, so it's still a bit odd... but I love them!  Aren't the colors perfect?  Don't worry, the chip clip won't stay there forever, haha :)

Soli Deo Gloria

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Another produce delivery!

Today was an AWESOME day!  The sun was shining and though it was chilly, it wasn't deceptively cold, like several days last week.  It was Teacher Appreciation Day at school, so I didn't have to pack a lunch and we got a wonderful, homemade meal and 45 minutes to just chill with co-workers while volunteers supervised lunch/recess with the kids.  I got some cheap Kashi cereal at CVS & Target (went to both places so I could use ECBs/gift card, and actually paid only 6¢ out of pocket for 4 boxes!).  And last but not least, my second Absolute Organics delivery arrived!  Who knew produce could be so exciting?
First thing I did was head to the bathroom scale to weigh myself with the full cooler, and then I reweighed after emptying the cooler.  What you see on the picture below is 13 pounds of fresh, delivered, organic produce!  That's $2.30/lb average, which seems pretty good to me.  Did I mention it was DELIVERED?!?!  :)
I'll give you a list, just so you know what you're lookin' at:
  • 6 seedless, Gold Nugget oranges
  • 7 Braeburn apples
  • 2 Haas avocados
  • 1 mango
  • 1 lg. head of lettuce
  • white mushrooms
  • 3 averaged-sized broccoli crowns
  • 6 bananas
If I've convinced you, just be sure to give them my name when you order so I can get some free produce for referring you!

On another note, here's a picture of my homemade yogurt served over that granola-type cereal I had in the stockpile.  Since mine turned out a bit thinner than I prefer for yogurt, it works great when mixed in with something like this!
Soli Deo Gloria...

Monday, March 01, 2010

Homemade Yogurt!

I am pleased to report that my first-ever yogurt-making experiment went fairly well!  I found the directions here. I read Alyssa's blog regularly, and when I saw this, I decided to try it, just for a challenge.  And, since we do eat a fair amount of yogurt, I figured if it worked I could use it more often to save us some money and to be healthier (there are a fair amount of random ingredients in store-bought yogurt, if you actually read the list).
The directions are really detailed (especially if you click-thru to the more thorough version here), so I felt pretty confident.  Worst-case scenario, I was out a few bucks for the milk and yogurt cup (starter), and would have a damaged ego; best-case scenario I could feel really cool (and save $$, be healthy, cut down on production of plastic yogurt cups, etc... but mostly just feel cool)!
I borrowed a candy thermometer from a friend/co-worker, since I wanted to be sure I was doing it right.  The whole process took me about 8 hours, though most of that was just letting it "incubate" and didn't require much work.  I did discover that my cooler probably isn't the most insulated one ever and when I went to take the yogurt out the temp had dropped, so I added some more boiling water and let it sit for another 1-2 hours instead.  Here are some pics I took:

We had some of it for dessert tonight (yeah, I know... it's generally strange for Americans to eat non-frozen yogurt for dessert, but it's normal in Spain and now I'm used to it!) with a little sugar and honey - natural/plain yogurt all by itself is kinda icky if you ask me.  It was pretty good, though if I do it again, I think I'll try to let it incubate longer (and add the extra boiling water sooner to keep the temp up) as it was a bit runnier than I'm used to, and I can only assume it's due to an incubation faux pas. 
Overall, I'm just glad I have an edible result and didn't have to dump it out completely.  I got some free Post Trail Mix Crunch a while back, and I'm thinking this yogurt will probably be a great substitute for milk with that, since the cereal has a granola-y texture.

Making yogurt, Soli Deo Gloria...