Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Post Patitenly Awaited

A couple weeks ago I posted about an inventory system that I was doing and a new way to buy groceries.  Well, I have changed it so much it's a whole new system.  I also said that rarely anything came from me (I usually pinterest, google, ask people, look at blogs, etc.).  This inventory/food planning/meal planning system is semi my idea... exciting right!?  Okay so here's what I do. 

I have listed out in an excel spreadsheet all the items that I have in my fridge/freezer/pantry.  I wanted to see all the food I had so I wrote each item down with how many were in there.  The problem came when I used anything out of them.  I then had to go and change it either in the computer or a piece of paper that I had printed out (finally after getting sick of running to my computer every meal).  That really didn't work for us so I decided I will inventory our food at the end of each month right before we go and buy food.  I will make a list of all the items I need for the rest of that month.  Then, I will plan my meals for THE WHOLE MONTH!  What!?  Yes, the whole month.  I did this before and it works so well for our family.  I then go to the grocery store and buy all that is needed for the month!  Except for vegetables and dairy products.  Although we now get our chicken/eggs/milk/and beef from the local farmer's market, and we get a lot of our fruit and vegetables from Bountiful Baskets (just started doing this but it is definitely worth it).  A lot of our grains and other food comes from Azure Standard.    I also grind my own wheat so I get my wheat berries from there.  What I find when we go to the store once a month and then just for vegetables and dairy products once a week is that we end up saving money since we are not at the store for so long once a week.  I also love planning the menu out a month in advance because then if Micah wants to cook he knows he has all of the ingredients ready to go and can just jump in and do it without a lot of extra work (starting with going to the grocery store).  I love how this works for our family. 

I know that there is a lot of talk about grocery prices going up so what are you doing to keep your groceries within your budget?  I love suggestions!

Who God is

I am doing a Bible study right now called Lord, I Want To Know You by Kay Arthur.  I love Kay Arthur's teachings because she goes into depth and makes me think so much about whatever it is I'm studying.  She is amazing.  I love the way the Lord speaks through her.

At lifegroup last night (a group of friends from church come over and we discuss the sermon from the week) we were talking about changing our attitudes, I know I need an attitude adjustment a lot!  I have been learning a lot as I've been studying the Bible and reading this book, and talking to my friends about God.  I have learned that I don't just need to know what God does, but who He is.  God doesn't just love me… HE IS LOVE!  God doesn't just forgive me… HE IS FORGIVENESS!  God doesn't just give me hope… HE IS HOPE!  God doesn't just give me the way the truth and the life… HE IS THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE!  How encouraging that is to know.  That God doesn't just DO, He IS!  So whatever it is that He does He can also do through us because He lives in us and IS that characteristic.  WOW!!!  I needed to hear that from the Lord and I'll bet someone out there needs to hear it too. 

Until next time--

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Gratituesday... Adoption Process

Here I am again... it is Gratituesday!  Technically this week we are on a media fast.  It's like when you do a fast from food only we are giving up media for this week.  That includes TV, PS3 games, Wii games, Games on our phones, zune, Nintendo DSi, etc.  Pretty much anything electronic.  BUT I decided that I wouldn't give up the opportunity to type a Gratituesday response here since really a fast is supposed to bring you closer to God and what better way to do that than to share with others what you are thankful for.  So here I am and here I go!

I am so thankful for the process of adoption!  If you don't know our family's story, we have been in the process of adopting two sisters from Haiti ages 11 and 12, about to turn 12 and 13.  We started this process March 2010.  We had a lot of doubts, a lot of fears, a lot of anxiety about the whole thing but every time we needed something to do with these adoptions God provided.  He provided peace, finances, wisdom, time off of work... the list goes on and on. 

Here is a picture of my husband and I and Guerline (girl ene) on the right and Fafane (faw fawn) on the middle of us.  They are such precious little getting older, girls.   
 Even though we've been in the process of adoption for 3 frustrating trying years, it has been an awesome growing experience for our whole family.  We have gotten to know the heart of God so much more.  We know that all we can do is PRAY!  There is nothing more that we can do, so we've had to really rely on God for everything!  I am thankful for the PROCESS because the process tells me that these girls, and some others in the orphanage are going to be able to have a chance at a much different life than they would ever dream of.  As time goes on every second, every minute, every hour, every day, every week, every month, every year is one more closer to the time GOD has decided that these girls will be with us!  I am PRAYING and VERY HOPEFUL that they will be coming home this year.  Please if you get a chance pray with me!  There is so much POWER in prayer especially "where two or more are gathered"!! 

Here is Fafane.  She is more serious than Guerline, she's the older one.  I just love that sweet face.  I have trouble typing this even now... missing them both!  I have been to Haiti 3 times and my husband has been twice so we know these girls.  I feel like I know them more than I should for someone who is in America and they are in Haiti!  God is good like that.

This is our Guerline.  She is super outgoing!  She loves getting her picture taken and loves to make faces for said pictures.  Here is a great example of that!

Guerline is the one two in from the right.  She's wearing the same outfit that she's wearing in the picture above.  
One thing that we get asked a lot is "why are you adopting from Haiti when we have so many kids in America that also need homes?".  The answer is simple, God asked us too.  But other than that we don't know.  Never in a million years would I have thought that we would be adopting from Haiti!  I have thought about adopting but kind of as "it would be really cool to adopt" not "Hey, let's adopt from Haiti, spend a bunch of money, and wait 3 years for some kids".  We are just trying to be obedient to what God has for us. 

I don't believe that everyone is called to adopt but we are all called to help orphans (and widows) in their time of need.  (James)  So ask God what you should do for orphans, whether in America, Africa, China, etc... 

I am so thankful for this process!!!

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Being Grateful

I read a blog that I've mentioned quite a bit in my posts.  Heavenly Homemakers  Every Tuesday she writes a post about things she's thankful for.  I LOVE this idea.  I am not very structured in life let alone my blog but I want to try and do this every Tuesday.  It's not a commitment or anything just a goal.  Maybe if I set an alarm on my phone I will remember.  I think writing these posts will do a couple of things.

1. Remind me to count my blessings instead of staring at the hard times.
2. Remind me that God is ultimately in control and that He is caring for me in the big things and in the little things.
3. My girls ask me what I'm typing when I'm on the computer, so what an awesome witness to them to remind them to be grateful.
4. Hopefully others will be inspired to also write about what they are grateful for and be lifted by it.

I believe so much that praising and worshiping the Lord will lift me.  When we praise Him despite our circumstances our focus changes to be all about HIM instead of about our situation.  There are some really tough things we go through as humans and they aren't to be discounted, they are hard!  But in the midst of all of this remember that GOD is ALWAYS GOOD!  We should praise Him.

Today, I am so grateful for my family.  I love being able to be a stay at home, homeschooling mom to my girls.  I am ever so grateful that I have that choice. I love their hugs and loves all throughout the day.  I am so grateful that I get to spend that special time with them.

So often I think of the things that they've done wrong throughout the day.  But I know that they are amazing girls!  They have issues like any other flawed human being but I am truly grateful for all the love that they have in them.  They have an understanding of the Lord and want to please Him.  I love that!

I was reading a blog, Confessions of a Homeschooler, and she wrote about a Christmas idea that she does every year.  I am excited about making this an annual Christmas event for our family.  If you'd like to read about what she does you can click the link, but here's what we didWe told our girls to get ready for bed while Daddy went to their beds and put papers on their bed that said "Get up, get your shoes on, grab a blanket and a pillow and get in the car".  Mommy got hot chocolate ready in their water bottles.  Then we went and looked at Christmas lights.  You can use this same idea for a lot of different things.  You could go to a movie or to go out to eat or to o to ice cream... if you live in a warm area.  I want to print out the tickets to the mini van express next year like the blog Confessions has on her site.  I'm already excited to do this next year!

What are you grateful for?

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Bagels, Soup, and French Bread

I have been really inspired to really make most of my food from home.  I had already ground my own wheat and made a lot of things from scratch but I wanted to take it a step further so I am!  It's so exciting!!!  I am so glad that I have support, from my husband and my girls, the most important people in my life, but also from friends, blogs and search engines.  I love that my family will try new things and like most of it.  Here is the recipe for the bagels I made.  You can find the post I got the recipe from here:  WHOLE WHEAT BAGELS

Honey Whole Wheat Bagels      Time: 1 hour 30 mins       By: Heavenly Homemakers Yield:  12 bagels

4-4 ½ cups whole wheat flour (I use freshly ground flour from hard white wheat)
1 pkg yeast (2 ¼ tsp)
1 ½ cups warm water (if you put your finger in and it hurts, it’s too hot and will kill your yeast)
3 Tbsp honey + 1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp sea salt

1. Stir together 2 cups flour, the salt and the yeast. Add in the warm water and 3 Tbsp honey. Gradually add in the remaining flour.

2. Dump it out and knead te flour in until the dough is smooth and elastic. Cover thedough and let it take a nap for about 10 minutes.

3. Divide the dough into twelve equal parts.

4. Set a timer for 20 minutes. Begin shaping each piece of dough into a nice ball. Stick your finger in the middle of the ball and pull it apart to create about a 2 inch hole.

5. Lay it onto a buttered cookie sheet or baking stone. Continue until all the bagels are formed. Let them sit until your timer goes off.

6. After your 20 minute timer goes off, turn the broiler on in your oven. Broil your bagels for 2 minutes on each side.

7. Meanwhile… bring a big pot of water to a boil. Stir in the remaining 1 Tbsp honey.

8. Put 4-6 bagels into the waer, turn down the heat and simmer for 7 minutes turning the bagels over once during that time. (I am going to try and only boil them 30 seconds on each side next time. They turned out kind of shriveled the first time I made them.)

9. Continue to boil your bagels until they are all done. Let them drain on a towel for 1-2 minutes.

10. Bake at 375F for 25-30 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.

11. Slice these, toast them, then slater them with butter or cream cheese (you can even make your own cream cheese). See previous post.

I had no idea that you BOILED bagels!!!  You do!

I decided to also share with you what we had for dinner tonight.  It is absolutely yummy!!!

Cheesy Potato and Corn Chowder Time: 1 hour Makes: 7 servings


2 Tbsp margarine 1 (15 oz)                    can whole kernel corn  (I use frozen corn)

1 cup chopped celery 1 (4 oz)               can diced green chilis

1 cup chopped onion                               1 (2.5 oz) pkg country style gravy mix  (I just use flour and
                                                                         pepper not gravy mix.)
2 (14.5 oz) cans chicken broth                 2 cups milk

3 cups peeled and cubed potatoes             1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

I also added ham to mine


1. In large saucepan, melt margarine over medium high heat. Add celery and onion; cook and stir until tender, about 5 mins.

2. Add chicken broth; bring to a boil. Add potatoes; cook over low heat for 20-25 mins or until potatoes are soft, stirring occasionally.

3. Stir in corn and chilis; return to boiling. Dissolve gravy mix in milk; stir into boiling mixture. Add cheese; cook and stir over low heat until cheese is melted.

My girls had two bowls each.  It's absolutely AMAZING!  Especially on a day like today.  It's nice and rainy outside.

Whole Wheat French Bread          Yield: 1 loaf          Time: 4 ½ hours

2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast (or 1 pkg)                      1 Tbsp cornmeal

1 ¼ cups warm water                                          1 egg white

1 Tbsp sugar                                                        2 Tbsp cold water

1 tsp salt                                                                cooking spray

3 cups whole wheat flour (divided 2 cups and 1 cup)


1. Dissolve yeast in warm water in large bow or bowl of mixer with dough hook inserted.

2. Stir in sugar, salt and 2 cups flour.

3. Beat until smooth. Stir in the remaining flour.

4. Run mixer on low to knead dough for 6-8 minutes or turn out onto floured surface and knead for 5-8 minutes by hand.

5. Place the dough in bowl spraye with cooking spray, turn greased side up.

6. Cover with a damp flour sack cloth or dish towel.

7. Let rise in warm place until double - 1 ½ – 2 hours. (Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.)

8. Punch down the dough and let rest for 15 minutes.

9. Grease cookie sheet or jellyroll pan and sprinkle with cornmeal.

10. Either roll dough out into rectangle and roll up tightly, seal edges or just mold into desired shape (French bread shape) and place on cookie sheet.

11. Make 1 lengthwise slash down center or ¼ inch slashes at 2 inch intervals.

12. Mist lightly with cold water (or brush over loaf) let rise uncovered until double again -1 ½ hours.

13. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Brush loaf with cold water or mist again with cold water. Bake 20 minutes.

14. Mix the egg white and water and brush over loaf. Bake until loaf is deep golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped (about 5 minutes).

Oh my gosh!  This bread is so amazing!  I WILL be making this again and again.  Yummmmmmmmmm!!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Making Food

I have been wanting to try a few new things lately and so this weekend I just did it.  Wow.  I did it.  Haha.  Sometimes it feels like I don't have time for anything new so when I get to do something new I feel so accomplished.

I made pita bread/pockets, yogurt and cream cheese, and of course ice cream in our ice cream ball.  I feel like I'm leaving something out but I will show you in pictures and then post more if I remember more.

My recipe for all three of these things is actually not my own they come from Heavenly Homemakers blog.  (I LOVE HER!!!)   pita bread and yogurt and cream cheese  She has recipes for just about everything that I want to make!

I will write out the recipes here as well for quick reference but if you haven't gone to her blog you so need to.  She is brilliant!

Yogurt and Cream Cheese        Heavenly Homemakers      Yield: 1-2 quarts       Time: 7-24 hours

1-2 quarts of whole milk
¾ cup plain yogurt

1. Pour the yogurt into a quart jar (using glass container is important). Heat the milk on the stove in a saucepan until it is just under 100 degrees.

2. Pour the milk over the yogurt in the jar and shake.

3. Place the jar into a cooler of hot water, cover and leave in the cooler for seven hours.

There, you just made yogurt!

Now, you can eat the yogurt as I mentioned before, or you can take your yogurt and make cream cheese.

(When you serve you can add whatever you would like. Honey, vanilla, fruit, granola, etc.)

1. So, to make CREAM CHEESE, line a strainer with a tea towel. Pour the yogurt into the tea towel.

2. You need to secure the tea towel full of yogurt and hang it for 7-10 hours (I usually do this overnight) so that the whey can drip off. I’m sure there must be a more impressive way to hang your yogurt, but what we’ve come up with works just fine!

3. Here are the secrets to my effective cream cheese-hanging-whey-dripping process (I know, you’re on the edge of your chair!)

4. I fold over the top of the tea towel and hold it closed with a couple of rubber bands. Then, I use several more rubber bands to attac a long wooden spoon to the wadded up tea towel. Then, I use a rope to dangle the tea towel from a cabinet door. And, of course I leave a bowl under th whole contraption so that whey doesn’t drip all over the floor.

5. Then, after you can tell that the whey has all separated from the cream cheese (you can tell it’s finished if it isn’t dripping any more), then you pull the whole thing down and scrape the cream cheese into a jar.

 Here is my tea towel with the yogurt inside dripping out the whey.  The bowl was a little over a quarter full of whey when I got up this morning.

Here is my finished yogurt in the fridge getting chilled so we can eat it.  We ate some this morning with blueberries, honey, and some Grape Nuts.  It was delicious!  The gallon of milk that we bought was about $3.50.  We got 1 quart yogurt, 1 small jar cream cheese, and still have 1/2 gallon of milk.  Normally about 1 quart of plain yogurt costs me about $3.50 so I think this is a winner.

My yogurt right when it was done.
The whey

The small jar cream cheese.
 So yummy!  I tried a little of the cream cheese plain this morning and it was delicious!  I can't wait to make the whole wheat homemade bagels that Heavenly Homemakers has on her site.  I'll try and post that too.

Whole Wheat Pita Bread Yield:     8 pita breads, 16 pita pockets      Time: 1 hour 20 mins.

By: Heavenly Homemakers

3 cups whole wheat flour              2 Tbsp honey
1 ½ tsp yeast                                 1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sea salt                                 1 cup warm water

1. Stir together flour, yeast, and sea salt. Add honey, oil, and water, stirring until a nice dough forms. Knead the dough on a well floured surface for 4-5 minutes. (In other words: Mix dry ingredients. Add liquid ingredients. Stir well. Knead.)

2. Place dough back into the bowl, cover, and allow dough to rest and rise for about an hour. (My dough never rose very high, but that’s okay.)

3. Pull dough out of the bowl. Knead for about 30 seconds. Roll dough into a ball and cut into 8 equal parts.

4. Roll each part into a circle with a rolling pin, about 6 or 7 inches in diameter. Place circles directly onto greased baking sheet after rolling.

5. Allow the dough circles to rest/rise on the baking sheet while you heat your oven to 500 degrees. Place baking shee of pita circles into hot oven. Bake for 5-8 minutes-just long enough for them to puff up and brown slightly.

6. Allow pitas to cool, slice in half for pita pockets or use flat as pita bread.

I didn't get pictures of the whole process but I did get some of them finished.
I made the pita bread last night and then we made pita pizzas with them for lunch today.  They were so good!  I know this picture is kind of blurry but I think you can see it okay.  We did these pizzas on top of the pita bread but if you were to cut this in half you would have a nice pocket. 
I'm so excited to be making more things myself.  I like how it's a lot cheaper most of the time, that I know what is going into my food, and I get a sense of accomplishment out of it.  I look forward to a lot more fun baking and cooking in 2013!  WOW!!! 2013!  That's crazy :P