Friday, April 30, 2010

Freezer Friday: Rhubarb

freezerfridaysmThat's right folks, Freezer Friday is back!  I've been on hiatus from this discipline the last couple months as I've been working on using up the stockpiled meals and produce that is in the freezer.  I've done pretty well.  Now, the garden is producing and summer menus are right around the corner!

First up - we have our first harvest of the season from our garden: Rhubarb.  You have to understand that HandyMan is the pie baker in the family and the rhubarb plant has kind of become his baby in the garden.  So, he started harvesting last night and we have two vacuumed packs (my new baby in the kitchen!) of measured out rhubarb waiting for pie.

rhubarb1sm rhubarb2sm Additionally, in order to prepare the freezer for the harvest to come and get ready for spring grilling, I am joining up with the Freezer Cooking Day going on this weekend over at  I have plans to bulk buy and marinade meat for the grill, make hamburger patties and do some baking with some of the zucchini, squash and carrots that are still hanging out in the freezer.

We're still 6-8 weeks out from our summer crops so we don't need to use up everything in the freezer, but weeding it out will definitely be beneficial.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Iron Filled Molasses Cookies

One of the first recipes I found that used infant cereal was for a molasses cookie.  GBaby loves them and since we’ve been feeding her these “cookies” one of her first words is – you guessed it – ‘ca-kee’!

Iron Filled Molasses Cookies

1/4 cup molasses

1/4 cup butter

1 egg

1/4 cup frozen Orange Juice Concentrate, thawed

3/4 cup flour (can use whole wheat)

1/2 tsp baking soda,

2 cups infant cereal,

3 TBsp frozen Orange Juice Concentrate, thawed


1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2.  Grease a cookie sheet or spray with nonstick spray.

3.  Lightly cream molasses and butter. Mix in egg and orange juice concentrate. Add dry ingredients and mix all together at once.

4.  Roll into small balls (I used G's baby spoon to get a bit less than a tablespoon) and mash down.  They will bake in a slightly puffed out form of whatever you make them.

5.  Bake 10-12 minutes - until firm.  Cool and serve.

(Somehow I've made these 2-3 times and not taken pictures yet - oops!)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pumpin' GBaby Full of Iron

DSC03565Earlier this year after one of GBaby’s well-visits we were told that she had a minor iron deficiency.  “No big deal-LOTS of kids have iron deficiencies” the doctor said.  She continued “There’s a supplement you can give her, its brown and gooey and really nasty.”  Yeah!  Sign us up for that! I did some really quick thinking and asked my doctor if we could try for one month to adjust Gbaby’s diet and see if we could get the count up.  She said “Sure-I know you’ll be proactive about it” (this is why I love our doctor).  She calculated out how many milligrams of iron I needed to be getting into GBaby (about 30mg a day) and I was on my way to the internet.

First I found that the 30mg of iron prescribed by my doctor area actually over 150% of the daily RDA outlined on the nifty nutrition labels on food.  When I saw that I called the doctor back.  Sure enough, she said GBaby needed that much to replenish her iron stores and get the iron back in her system.

Then I studied up and learned about the different types of iron and how different foods interact with iron absorption (no high calcium foods with plant based iron sources, and vitamin C helps the body absorb iron).  Finally, I started looking at how much iron was in foods and how much I had to stuff into GBaby and decided that the iron fortified foods were our best bet and to treat them like a “supplement” trying to get the bulk of the iron needed through the fortified foods and then whatever was in extra meals was icing in the cake.

I realized that after GBaby started eating anything off of our dinner plates, we had not been giving her the whole grain infant cereal as often.  Since the cereal we use packs in about 8mg of iron per serving (or 45% RDA), we became much more disciplined about getting her a dose of cereal with fruit or veggie mixed in at least once a day – and often twice.  I also found some great recipes to use the cereal in baked goods that any kid would love!  I’ll be sharing those in the next few days.

We also switched to the whole grain version of the national brand –o cereal which has about18mg iron serving per cup: considerably more than the standard option.  Getting GBaby to gobble down a bunch of “O’s” is never a problem!  We also added scrambled eggs to the menu a lot more often.  “O’s” or “gooey brown stuff”.  Said a prayer that the O’s would work and let GBaby eat as many as she wanted!

We ran into trouble with many other foods high in iron, like meats, beans and broccoli.  Either she didn’t care for them, or they didn’t care for her.  So we didn’t press the issue.

After a month, we checked her iron again with the doctor and it was up!  We were told to “keep doing what you’re doing”.  So we are.

Please note: I am not a dietician and this is just our experience with managing our child’s iron deficiency.  Please consult with your family physician for the best course of action for your child.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday Sunshine

sunflowerPracticing contentment by remembering the graces of the week and practicing gratitude by giving.

This week has been filled with garden growth, miracles of answered prayers and smiles.  We were able to spend some time with my brother and his family this weekend and it's always such fun to see the GBaby with her cousins.

This week also marked the completion of the installation of new windows in our home.  We are so blessed to be able to make this investment in our home and in return reduce our heating costs.

I had a couple of days with good work time brought about by either good naps from GBaby or extra time from HandyMan or the energy to get up early.  It always feels so good to get a bunch of things crossed off the to-do list in a timely manner!

It is a rainy, Sunday afternoon and GBaby is soundly sleeping. I think I'm going to follow suit and enjoy a nap too.

It has been a good week.  I hope you can look back, and forward, to find the joy dotting your story!  Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.” (James 1:16 -The Message) May the light of the Father brighten your week!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Garden Beast At It Again!

2010gardenThis week is a good-news/bad news week in my garden.  Sadly, the cool weather must have weakened the throw of the citronella on my Garden Beast Deterrent System.  I went out early this week and found this - a web of citronella wax pieces surrounding the hole that the Garden Beast came up and chewed up three more broccoli plants.   I think one of the plants will make it and I've added more citronella chunks too!  I found similar holes in my asparagus bed and bed with the peas and have topped them off with citronella chunks as well.  Maybe I'll stink out his tunnel system and the little Beast will go live somewhere else!

4-21 garden1 Now with the bad news out of the way, here's the good news: the first little leaves of my first planting of spinach are poking through the dirt, the first asparagus shoot is coming up, all of my broccoli in the second bed are doing great, peas are starting to shoot up, strawberry plants are sporting shiny new leaves and the rhubarb is sporting some bright red stalks!  Phew!  That's a lot of growing going on and happily overshadows The Beast for me this week.[gallery columns="2" orderby="title"]

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Getting Paid to Shop: Ebates

ebatesSome of you who have been reading for a while may remember my philosophy on shopping.  In a nutshell, stores are not a my happy place, but finding deals with my keyboard and netbook is all sunshine and butterflies in my world.  So, when I stumbled upon Ebates I thought it was too good to be true: do my regular online shopping and get 1-20% of my money back (that's not a type-o: I got 20% back on an Old Navy promotion!).  The way Ebates works is like this: when you're ready to shop, you go to their website.  Find the merchant you wish to shop with and then click the link.  A tracking ticket will be opened and you will be taken to the merchant site.  Do your shopping as usual.  Within 30 days you should see the credit on your account.

I recommend making notes of the tracking numbers for your click throughs (handily available with your account information) and the purchase you make for easier dispute resolution should the credit not make it to your account within the allotted time.  I only had to do this for one purchase and come to find out, I didn't get the credit due to fine print on which categories from Ebay you can get credit for.

I signed up in January, did my normal online shopping and on Monday, I found the above check in my mailbox.  What's not to like?  I got $45 back from doing shopping I would have done anyway.

Today I found out after scouring the internet for the "best deal" that sometimes the merchants give them exclusive coupon codes that aren't available anywhere else! In this instance it brought my $140 appliance down to $98 after sale prices and coupons!

So, do you shop online? Yes? What are you waiting for?  Go check it out!

Disclosure: The links embedded in this post are tied to my referral account and I will receive credits if you sign up.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Cook Book Review: Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day

hbin5So, yesterday when I wrote about Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and told you I "experimented", I have to admit, the first thing I did was add whole wheat flour to the recipes.  I like a good, white artisan bread sometimes, but for everyday consumption, I feel my family and I need something that is a bit healthier.

I guess I wasn't the only one with this thought, because after sifting through all the feedback from Artisan Bread, Hertzberg and Francois went back to the kitchen and produced Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day.  Written in the same style, and applying the same methods as Artisan Bread, Healthy Bread kicks up the ingredients to use whole wheat flours, whole grains, nuts, fruits and seeds to make truly delicious healthy bread.

I received my copy of Healthy Bread for my birthday.  I opened it, perused it and got sucked into it.  I've begun working through the recipes and have had fantastic results.  I generally opt for the white whole wheat flour and these whole grain recipes are tailored to handle traditional or white whole wheat.  They have formulated the recipes to produce light, airy whole wheat bread. After making dense, whole wheat bread for way to long, I am loving the new results!

While the ingredients used in this book are a bit more "exotic" than in Artisan Bread, most of the ingredients for the standard recipes can be found in a grocery store baking aisle.  As you move to more complicated breads (like the gluten free recipes) there are more specialized ingredients.

If you're looking for some good-for-you bread recipes to add to your collection, check out Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. I think you'll like what you find.

(Disclaimer: This is a voluntary review and I have not been compensated in any way for this review.)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Cook Book Review: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

bin5Back in February, a friend recommended Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg & Zoe Francois.  the recommendation came complete with at copy of the master bread recipe.  I was intrigued.  I requested my own copy from the library.  I experimented.  I renewed the book.  I requested it for my birthday.

I loved this cookbook. I had an "old standby" cookbook for my bread baking that was my general reference, but after reading ABin5 (as they abbreviate it on their web site), my inner baker was liking the new methods presented.

As I read through the introduction and then skimmed through the recipes, I kept thinking that it just seemed way too easy. It couldn't really work, could it?  I experimented, and their recipes do work.  Multiple recipes and techniques are presented for each base dough recipe.  This was one part that I really appreciated about this book.  We are a small household, and goodness knows I don't need all kinds of extra loaves of bread around the house.  But, if I know a dough base is good for about 2 weeks and can be used a few different ways,  I can look at my menu and plan accordingly.

ABin5 also provides instructions for freezing enriched (eggs and milk added) dough recipes that don't have as long of a refrigerator life.  I was skeptical, but these methods worked too.

The instructions are clear and concise.  Once your read through their method, have the correct equipment and understand your ingredients, I think that anyone can achieve great artisan bread at home under the tutelage of Hertzberg and Francois.

If you're interested, check it out at your local library or peruse their website.  Tomorrow - I'll give you my 2 cents on Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

(Disclaimer: This is a voluntary review and I have not been compensated in any way for this review.)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sunday Sunshine: Miracles & Milestones

sunflowerPracticing contentment by remembering the graces of the week and practicing gratitude by giving.

It has been another week full of activity.  GBaby has cut all her her baby teeth (yes, at 15 months).  Shortly after all those tiny teeth came through, GBaby began sleeping through the night for 12 hours at a time.  Which in turn means that HandyMan and I have been getting full nights of sleep for the first time in about, hmmm, 15 months!  It is such a good thing.  G is also beginning to say her first words and graces our days with lots of smiles.

We've joined with friends of the family in prayer this week for a seriously injured young man and are rejoicing with themshades for small miracles.

We have had days of sunshine and cool evenings.  My garden is doing well and my magnolia tree is slowly opening up to spring.  My hyacinth and grape hyacinths are both close to full bloom and the daffodils and forsythia continue to brighten the yard.

I am on the committee for our local Relay for Life event which is coming up in few weeks and am thrilled with the progress that the committee and our teams are making.  It's fantastic to see so many from our small community come together for a great cause.

My business is beginning to come out of hibernation as I work on a special order and spring fundraisers.

It has been a good week.  I hope you can look back, and forward, to find the joy dotting your story!  Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.” (James 1:16 -The Message) May the light of the Father brighten your week!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Little Broccoli That Could

2010gardenSpring is slowly settling in here in central NY.  Our days are getting warmer and our evenings still chilly.  I've begun my succession plantings of spinach.  I plant 4 squares a week for 4-5 weeks.  I hope to get nice waves of fresh greens by the middle of May.

My broccoli is doing well.  The good plants are about six inches tall and sporting lots of hearty leaves.  Here's a shot of the unharmed broccoli:


Here are the stubs left from the attack of the Garden Beast.  So far my citronella invisible fence is holding and the little stubs with new leaf nubs have had a chance to grow.  They are only a couple inches high but seem like they're going to make it.

tufbroc4About eight of the plants, weren't so lucky and I'll have to replace them.  I've poured more citronella chunks to place around my other garden beds as I continue to plant.

Monday, April 12, 2010


DSC03537I love spring. I love the bright colors as flowers and trees burst into bloom. Right now our yard is full of yellow as the forsythia and the daffodils are making their appearance for the season. I also love the hints of summer that make their way into spring.
Limeade is one of my favorite summer drinks. I usually have a stash of the frozen stuff around, but this evening I wanted limeade with dinner and it's too early in the season for the frozen stash. So - a cooking I will go. Or more appropriately, a mixing.
I had a bottle of key lime juice in my fridge. I knew it would need sugar and water and little more. Since I'm not a fan of getting sugar to dissolve in cold water, I made a syrup from the lime and sugar, then added the cold water. The result, a refreshing limeade that's not too strong and not too tart. I'm looking forward to blending fresh strawberries and cherries with it when their seasons come around!


2 cups Granulated Sugar
1 cup Lime Juice
1 gallon of Water

1. Combine the lime juice and sugar in a saucepan over low heat just until the sugar melts.
2. Mix with water.
3. Add ice if desired and enjoy.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sunday Sunshine: All Things Spring

sunflowerPracticing contentment by remembering the graces of the week and practicing gratitude by giving.

This week has been filled with many things spring:  Warm weather, budding forsythias and daffodils, laundry on the clothes line and lots of time outside. Limeade.

And a few remnants of cooler weather: hot chocolate and cribbage.

I've enjoyed long talks of dreaming and planning with Handyman and family time filled with laughter and giggles.  I'm happy that all 16 of GBaby's baby teeth have now cut through (yes, she's only 14-1/2 months old).  Now maybe we can all get some rest.

After dinner walks, garden time and projects nearing completion all mark time well spent this week.

It has been a good week.  I hope you can look back, and forward, to find the joy dotting your story!  Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.” (James 1:16 -The Message) May the light of the Father brighten your week!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Plan for April

A few weeks ago I lamented the lack of motivation and challenging areas of my life.  I had plans to organize my month. I got a menu done, but have not held to it very well - I think I'm going to work off the menu as a list this month and not so much a night-by-night menu.  Part of the problem is that April weather means that one night is 75 and I'm ready to grill and the next night is 31 and soup and bread look better.  So, this month, the menu is a meal list and we'll pick from it until all our options are used up.

One area that I needed to deal with was my work room.  In a small room I had four tables set up for three different projects in various stages of completeness:  Candles that were poured and waiting for packaging, sewing projects halfway done, a stack of items waiting for their day on eBay, other stacks that got tossed in the workroom since it's the closest place to put things out of GBaby's reach. Thanks to a gal from church who was on spring break and wanted to hang out with GBaby, I was able to spend a good chunk of time clearing out that room.  Now it is a much more workable space and I've given myself a "one project at a time" rule for that area.

Just Do It Tea TowelFor April, I'm starting my days with 5 things on my task list that are my priorities.  I know, doesn't seem like much but caring for Ms. I'm-Cutting-4-Teeth-All-At-Once has been taking more time than usual lately.  So 5 tasks it is, and anything else I see around the house that need to get done - just do it.  Then and there on the spot.  So far the house is still standing and we've all been fed and have clean laundry.  I'm calling it a success for this month.

There are a number of online communities that are taking the spring cleaning and organizing thing to a whole new level.  If you need the motivation to do that check them out.  Two that I know of are  Money Saving Mom's Clear the Clutter Challenge and Christian HomeKeeper Network Spring Cleaning.  They've served to spark my attention to areas of my house that need help and as a result I did get the refrigerator shelves wiped down this week and cleaned out from behind and under the fridge-oh the nastiness!  I also got the kitchen swept, but that's about it.

So for the rest of this month, I'll keep with my "just do it" mantra and take one day at a time.  My inner-planner needs a break.   How is your month going?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Broccoli Abuse!

2010gardenToday was a gorgeous day here in Central NY.  Temperatures hit 80 degrees and the sun was playing tag with the clouds.  It made me think it was late May.  Being the nice day that it was, I decided that it was time to get the first mowing out of the way.  When the rest of our area was doing its last mowing in late October, we were not. So our back yard was getting scraggly.

I finished mowing and pushed the mower over to the compost bin to empty the bag.  GBaby toddled over with the Mom's Helper (aka middle school gal from church who loves to hang out with G and I love to have the help!)  I plopped in the grass and played with G and turned to look over my shoulder at my rows of broccoli, to see how it was faring in the heat.

This is what I saw. If you look closely you will see broccoli :), broccoli :), no broccoli :-(, broccoli :).  The Garden Beast had chomped all the leaves off of 14 of my broccoli plants!


This is the bed where the Vine Chomper annihilated our green beans last year.  Last year it seemed that citronella was the only deterrent for the Garden Beast.  So, I made super scented citronella chunks and have placed them among my broccoli plants.  I watered the stumps and said a prayer.  I will have to make more citronella chunks before the green beans go in.  Here's hoping it works!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

What's Your Garden Plan?

2010gardenThe days have been gorgeous and my garden beds were calling out to me.  So I got to work.  HandyMan turned the ones that I will plant in first and it is still a little early in our zone but I'm working on my cold weather plants.  I put in my broccoli starts and pea seeds into the ground and have plans to put my spinach and lettuce in around the 15th.

Our garden beds are about 4 feet wide by 8-10 feet long.  After the first couple years of gardening, I got smart and planned out my plants in such a way that the crops that are easily picked (carrots, peppers, squash) get planted in the squares in the center of the beds.  Around these squares are the crops that are a bit more intensive to pick: leaf lettuce, spinach, basil, cilantro, broccoli (I pick shoots as far into the summer as I can), and green beans.  This saved me a lot of back ache last summer and I plan to do it again this year.

broccoliOnce we get past the last frost date we will be adding peppers and tomatoes from starts and basil, cilantro, yellow squash, zucchini, acorn squash, pumpkins and green beans from seeds.

We also have established asparagus that we will be picking in May.  Strawberries and rhubarb are both showing new growth and should be ready in June and July.

What are your garden plans? Link up below!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Sunday Sunshine

sunflowerPracticing contentment by remembering the graces of the week and practicing gratitude by giving.

We have had such a full week.  It has been marked by birthdays for which I am truly thankful to be celebrating another birthday in good health for each year is a gift.   We celebrated Good Friday and Easter and remembered the reason for our faith and the hope that comes with it.

We basked in the first really warm days and used the wind and sunshine provided instead of the propane and electricity to dry a lot of clean laundry.  Our bedroom is taking shape as more of a finished space as we plan out photos and paint the new closet.

DSC03503GBaby is growing and taking in the world around her in every detail.  She loves being outside.  She has moved on from walking to running as fast as her little feet will take her.  Her affirmative response to any question is a huge scrunchy faced grin.   "Are you hungry (with the sign for hungry)?"  Big Grin!  And if she's really hungry - she'll take off in the direction of her high chair.   She loves bubbles and grass and a high pitched "Gaaa" is her calling to the dog. I had a mom's helper on Friday who was fantastic and freed me up to get some of my

This week was full of blessings.  I'm looking forward to what next week holds.

Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.” (James 1:16) May the light of the Father brighten your week!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Print Your Own Money

couponWhat would you say if I told you that you could print your own money?  It is perfectly legal and there are no poor consequences.

After this week's grocery shopping trip, I've decided that printing coupons is like printing my own money.  There are a few different groups of thought on coupons.  Some folks make their grocery list based on what is on sale and what they have for coupons.  That doesn't work for me.  I make my list, know what I keep stocked in the house and when I find coupons to match my shopping habits, it print them.    I spend about 15 minutes a week clicking the print button to get coupons.

Want to find coupons?  There are a  number of sources for the coupons that are available on the web.   I subscribe to in my blog reader-each of her posts comes through like an e-mail with the subject line reading the deal she found coupons for.  I skim through the headers and if her deals aren't stuff I usually buy, I delete.  Then every couple of days I'll click through and get the coupons. and are two of the main websites where I go to print coupons.  Most allow you to print a coupon twice and photocopying the coupons is a no-no.  These websites re-set the print counters at the beginning of the month and add new coupons on a regular basis.

This week when we went shopping, I had craft store coupons, grocery coupons, and birthday coupons ...

We are working on redecorating parts of our house.  I took a minute to print the ACMoore coupons - one from my computer, one from HandyMans - and we saved $30 on picture frames that we wanted to get.

Then came the grocery coupons.  Like I said before, I print coupons for things I'm going to buy anyway and will give me the best deal: pasta, coffee, olive oil, contact solution.  For example, this month I needed pasta, Ronzoini has great gobs of coupons out there and my store happened to have it on sale, making my pasta $0.25 a box.  All told: $12 in grocery coupons.

Finally the birthday coupons.  Certain places give you deals on your birthday - Cold Stone is one of them.  Their coupons are good for a week around your birthday.  So, we got free ice cream.  This was a treat because we probably wouldn't have gone to Cold Stone otherwise.  ($8.)

At the end of the day, doing my normal shopping I managed to spend $50 of money I printed myself.  Not bad for a little bit of time, ink and recycled paper (coupons get printed on the back of paper to reuse in our house)!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Birthday Feast - Part 2

I've always shared the time surrounding my birthday since my Dad's birthday falls two days prior.  What I remember most about birthdays growing up, was the rule was that you couldn't talk about your birthday until the family member's birthday before you had passed.  I think they made that one up just to bug me! But I had one day.  Then I married Handman and that lost that day - for his birthday is the day between my dad's and mine.  Now, the last week of March is usually declared a family holiday and we spend the week celebrating.  We did that early this year and called it February vacation.

bdaymealMy birthday was yesterday.  HandMan got some super cool garden tools.  I'm waiting for the fog to lift so I can go play in the dirt!  Since it was my birthday, there was no cooking by my hands yesterday.  HandyMan made me biscuits and scrambled eggs for breakfast and steak, asparagus and a warm, rosemary bruchetta type creation that was very yummy!  It was a good day.  Now, back to the "normal" routine...