Monday, January 26, 2015

What I'm Fixin' this week!

Hey! It's Monday.

Which means I am posting my meal plan for the week. I didn't post my plan last week. My week started strangely because of the holiday. It was Tuesday before I realized it wasn't really Monday.You know how that happens.

As it is, I have a sick boy to start out this week.

 Poor guy. He handles being puny much better than most grown men.

But that's another blog post.

I am going to keep this short and sweet. Kind of like me. Only I'm "shorter"...And sometimes sweet. And a little strange. Moving on.

That's today! I'm fixing these Korean-style Chicken Lettuce Wraps. I am subbing out the brown sugar for something more friendly to my eating plan.

Pork Loin Roast (in the Crockpot). My mom has a method that is really easy. I am going to try it out this week and I'll let you know how it works for me.
Mashed Cauliflower (for me) and potatoes for my boys
Pan fried okra. I took a package out of my mom and dad's freezer when I was at the farm this weekend. Yum! Okra is my friend. It could be your friend to.

Black Bean Quesadillas with homemade salsa & guac. I made these last week and they were literally inhaled. I am posting the recipe this week so stay tuned! I took pictures and everything. Sure. We had them last week. But they were super easy and everybody liked them. I'm striking while the iron is hot! Plus, I have all the stuff ;<)

Pulled Pork Sandwiches (using leftover pork from Tuesday). I'm giving my guys buns and using a low carb wrap for me.
There are also a bag of chips or two wandering around the house I'm trying to forget about. I did not buy them. I plan on sending them to work with The Muffin.

Herb and Citrus Oven Roasted Chicken This recipe looks absolutely yummy. I am going to cut it in half.
Roasted Broccoli
Caesar Salad

So that's it. That's the plan. Then again there's always cereal....

I'm linking up to Meal Plan Monday over at

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Bean Primer: Red Beans & Rice

Hi! How is your week going?

Mine is going...whether I like it or not. I can't believe it's already half over. I have some stuff I need to do! For one, there is a desk in my living room that needs to be moved to Josiah's room. And I am working on a brand new online shop that features some really wonderful art. My mom and I are doing it together. It's been a bit tricky getting it all together. We live an hour away from each other and she works full time. We are gittin' 'er done. 

This is just a sample of a download that's going in the shop. 

Isn't this just darling? This is a original Zentangle print. My momma created it. She teaches art and part of her job is teaching art to residents in a Nursing Home. They have been her test subjects and happy to color anything she puts in front of them. They have been coloring fools! I have also been doing a little bit of this and that. Mine don't look near as detailed and professional, but doodling has given me some stress relief. 

But you didn't stop by to hear about my doodle habit or my stress levels! 

I've promised to give you some of my favorite bean recipes. This one comes from my friend Kimberly and her husband, Mark. She's originally from Michigan and her husband from Indiana. But they lived several years in Mobile, Alabama and came away with a few southern traditions. I always love going to their house. Kim has the gift of hospitality and is always ready with a cup of hot tea and a friendly ear. 

My first taste of this particular recipe was at their house (I might have had a cup of tea that day). It was wonderful. I am not a stranger to Red Beans & Rice, but this was just tasty good. And, as I was to find out, easy peasy. 

I made a trip to one of our local discount groceries a few weeks ago and found this bag of red kidney beans for .89. Now you can use canned beans. This is one of those kinds of recipes that has a few more steps so the easier you need to make it the better. 

Though I find cooking up a pot of beans to be no trouble at all.

I generally do a quick soak when cooking my beans. I just put my beans in my pot and covered them with water. I turned on the stove and let them come to a boil. Then I cooked them for about 8-10 minutes. I don't even think they need that long. 

After the beans have boiled, I turn off the stove and let the beans sit on top for an hour. You can do 2 hours if you have to. This is what they look like after they've soaked. 

After my beans soaked I drained them in a colander and covered them with clean, fresh water. I then put them on to cook. I am not sure how long. As I told you last have to babysit beans if you are going to cook them on top of the stove. They can soak up the water. I let them come to a boil and then turn them down. 

Just another thought before I move on. There have been occasions that the beans I have purchased at the Discount Store have taken forever and ever to cook. I'm sure the older the bean...I still take the chance. I like a good deal. 

You can use any rice for this recipe, but I used brown rice. My favorite brown rice recipe evah is still Alton Brown's.  I decided to cook this batch on top of the stove. I'm still trying to figure out why I did that. It always comes out so good in the oven. I managed just fine, but it just doesn't seem to come out as fluffy and nutty on the stove. White rice is simple bimple to cook on the stove. Brown rice is another animal grain. I cooked up 2 cups of rice for this recipe. 

It is truly the beautiful veggies that make this particular recipe unique. For one, you can't fix Red Beans & Rice without celery, onion & peppers. This recipe calls for one of each color. You can also see a little garlic peeking out there. So I realize my veggies aren't probably in their optimal condition. I don't care! I use what I have and we all eat fine. Don't throw something away that can be cleaned up a bit. 

So I chopped. And chopped some more. 

Then I threw my veggies (except for the garlic) in my big ole skillet. If you don't have a big ole skillet you need one. Just my opinion. I (heart) my big ole skillet. 

I need to talk about my choice of protein. The recipe called for andouille sausage. I used what I had in the freezer which was a nice package of delicious smoked sausage I got at the Discount Grocery for 1.99. It was a nice quality. I did defrost it in the microwave maybe a little too long. I think I got distracted. It happens. 

I threw my smoked sausage and garlic in the my big ole skillet and sauteed everything together. 

This, my friends, is spice in a can. How much spice in a can you want to use is up to you. I used a few tablespoons and it was plenty spice. Though I noticed my hot mouthed boys adding some hot sauce. 

I don't have a picture, but I mixed my beans and veggie mixture together and seasoned. I think it's okay to season the beans as you cook them, but I wanted to use any extra beans in something else (a chef salad). Then I mixed it all with my rice.  Josiah can eat a whole pot of rice by himself so I decided he needed to have a little something else with his rice. 

The result was really delicious. I wasn't as happy with my brown rice. It tasted fine. It was just a bit gummier than I like. 

This recipe made a bunch. We were able to have leftovers. Love the leftovers. The Muffin doesn't appreciate them as much as I do. So when he tells me that he will enjoy eating on something another day I know it's good. This was a dish he enjoyed again. 

Okay. So the recipe. 

3 cups of cooked red beans
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 med.Onion, chopped
5 stalls of chopped celery
1T minced garlic
2lbs of andouille sausage
2 cups of cooked rice
Tony Cachere's Creole seasoning to taste.(I used 2 T)

Saute all the veggies (except for the garlic) until tender. Add the sausage and garlic and give it another toss until the garlic has cooked a bit. Mix the veggies, beans and rice all together and season with the Creole seasoning until it tastes like you want to eat it.

I didn't serve anything with this dish the night I fixed it. I normally like something green to serve along most of anything we eat. Except pancakes. A spinach salad doesn't go too well with pancakes.

Not that I've tried. 

Anyhoo. This week I am going to fix Black Bean Cakes. They are so yummy. And a little addictive. 

I'll keep you posted. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

You Can Lose Weight If You're Broke!

"To dream the impossible dream...."

So some of you are like me. You need to lose weight. In fact, I haven't been at my ideal weight in nearly 20 years. There were many years of heartache, failure after failure...nothing seemed to work. Except gaining more weight. I am good at that. 

I am not going to get into the psychology of all of it. I'm not Dr. Phil. Though I can do a fair imitation. 

What I want to talk about is an excuse I had for years. Almost 2 years ago I lost 80 pounds. Yikes! 
Now I have some more to lose and this past year as been filled with more excuses. 

Mostly this one, "It's just so hard!"

Tru dat. 

I am not going to sugar coat any of it. Losing weight is work. It's frustrating. But (and this is a big one) when it happens it's worth it all. 

One excuse I floated around for a while was this one."I'm too poor. If I had the funds I could do it."  I remember hearing lots of people talk about this one years ago when Oprah lost weight. "If I had a trainer and a personal chef..." Where you one of those folks talking? 

It can be expensive. Especially, if you chose to use a supplement or other resource to help you along. I am not knocking that choice. You do what you have to do. I haven't had that choice. 

For some of us we've had to chose between paying a bill and food on the table. 

So here it is. I want to give you my favorite  FREE or FRUGAL tips, tricks and resources that will help you scratch that "I'm Broke" excuse off the list. 


A membership to a gym is not possible for some of you. Now we have a membership to our local Y. We receive a scholarship for half-price. We decided that this would be priority for our budget because Josiah is on the swim team and it has done so much for him. My husband is also an athlete and he does some weight training. You have to decide if something like this is in your budget and if you will use it. We do use it and it has become part of even our family time together. Don't be afraid to check out something like a scholarship or discounts. 

We participated in a family Fun Walk last spring. It cost $5. Josiah even won a bag of cool games. Actually, he won two, but we gave one of them to a young man who didn't win anything. 

Making a daily walk part of your routine can be a worthwhile habit. Some mamas make take this time for reflection, prayer and focus. Some use it to get the kiddos moving as well. It is harder for me to walk long distances because of injuries I sustained from a car accident, but when the weather is nicer Josiah and I will sometimes walk around the block or to the bank. We also will drive to the local botanical gardens and enjoy a walk along with a nature study. You can mix fitness with schooling! 

Take every opportunity to move. I try and park away from the entrance of the store if possible. When I'm cleaning house I will put my tennis shoes on and move. If you have a pedometer see how many steps you walk in a day. I've heard that we should try and get in 10,000 steps. That's a lot of moving. 

I love using youtube workouts when I can. I don't have to leave the house and they are FREE. Here are some of my favorites.  Just a little aside. Isn't youtube wonderful? Just this week I am learning how to make a California Roll, trying a hand lettering technique and studying about Qatar. At least, Josiah is studying about Qatar. All from youtube! 

1.The first two workouts I'm sharing are ones that you can do from a chair.  This chair workout for the overweight/obese is only 10 minutes long. The gal is so encouraging. I can't do some of it (my range of motion isn't as great), but I try. She has a whole bunch of other workout videos as well. 

2. Sparkpeople has some great workout videos available. I like this cardio chair workout. They have bunches and bunches of videos available. 

3. I also use T-Tapp workouts. I purchased them when I had little bit of extra cash. However, they do have free workouts on youtube. This one is called the Hoe Down.  I was really surprised how much these work! This video is just over 3 minutes. 

There are also lots of workout videos available at the library. Try some different ones. Your metabolism likes surprises. It will often slow down if it gets used to the same workout week after week. 

If you want to add a little bit of weight training look no further than your kitchen cabinets! We do have some hand weights I use that I found at the thrift store for about a buck, but when I was homebound doing physical therapy after my car accident, my physical therapist grabbed some canned veggies out of the cabinet. There you go! You might have other household items (like a baby :<) that might fill in. I'm currently staring at a big Bible commentary. Could I use that Bible commentary in a workout? It must weight at least 20 pounds. Hmm. 


This is a biggie. Just buying the weekly groceries can be so stressful. When you add in special and healthy ingredients...AHHH! Just this morning I went to the health food store and spent $25 on just a few things. And I sure didn't get what I intended to. I wanted to get some Hemp protein powder. It was $20! That is 1/3 of my grocery budget. 

So. Get rid of the junk food. Don't even buy it. I don't care if the kiddos can't seem to do without it. They'll survive. If they want to spend their own money on junk food..that's another thing.

Learning to cook can be your greatest weapon against the bulge. Don't worry about making it fancy. 

Scratch cooking is so much healthier. It might not be easier or convenient, but have you read the labels of some of that processed food? If you can't pronounce it don't eat it. The fewer ingredients something has the better. Don't be afraid to try recipes. I am a seasoned cook and some of my attempts have been complete fails. 

I don't cook separate meals. If I think my husband and son might need something more I will usually just add a baked potato or some rice. I think you will fine that everybody will eventually get on board. The taste buds will acclimate to the healthy stuff eventually. 

Rethink brand loyalty and where you shop. I do much of my shopping at Aldi's. They almost have everything I need. I discovered the joys of Discount Grocery shopping some time ago. We have a few good ones in our area. Sometimes I have found special ingredients that have been just pennies. My favorite buy was the case of 24 Greek yogurt I bought for 1.99. It was perfectly fine. Another place I like to go from time to time is a bulk grocery store. The ones in our area are owned and operated by Mennonites. I get some terrific deals on herbs, spices, oatmeal, beans...Do a little research and see if you can find one near you. 

We don't waste a lot of money on beverages. I buy skim milk for The Muffin and Josiah. I also purchase Almond Milk for myself. I generally buy a half-gallon of orange juice. That's it, baby! I will buy tea bags and make tea for the house. I also have a stash of coffee I buy from the Discount Store. That's it. Otherwise it's water all the way!! 

So I forgot about my husband's buttermilk. That particular item is another story. 

There have been times that we have eaten from a food pantry. We were extremely blessed to have even that, but there aren't a lot of healthy choices in those boxes. Generally, they consist of a lot of pasta and canned foods. One time we got a whole box of honey buns and ranch dressing mix. It has been a few years since we've had to do that, but I know what it's all about. This is the best advice I can give you. Use what you have. Just watch your portions. If you do have a bit of money spend it on veggies. A dinner of spaghetti with canned spaghetti sauce can become a special treat with carrots and celery sauteed and added to your sauce. Or chop up a whole plate of the same veggies to have for extra munchies. Beans and eggs are wonderful cheap proteins. A box of oatmeal can go a long way. This is a link to a recipe book that uses items frequently found in food pantry boxes. Several of them look pretty healthy. Just remember. Watch your portions.


Sometimes just staying on plan on and on track is downright near impossible. Ack!! I can't even tel you how many pep talks I have to give to myself daily. Yep. I talk to myself. U gotta a problem with dat?

I have to keep a food diary of some sort. I use, but you can use just a pen and notebook. It helps me stay accountable to me. 
Sometimes you just have to be brutally honest with yourself. I want to be here for this guy and My Muffin. I want to be healthy and present for him. I don't want him to be ashamed of me. And I want him to see first hand that the hard stuff is worth doing. You can't buy that kind of motivation. Write it down. Look at it every day. 

Because I am a stress snacker, I have had to develop other ways to handle things. I doodle. I read. I enjoy a cup of tea. 

Pinterest is a great resource. Try setting up a Pinterest Board just for your healthy new lifestyle. I pin recipes I want to try, articles that might help me and even clothes I want to wear when I lose a little more weight. When I finally was able to start shopping in the "regular sizes" again that board helped me really focus on what I liked. I had spent so many years just worried about things that wouldn't make me look bigger than I really was. I had lost some of my own personal style. Don't be afraid to dream. 

The best advice I can give you is to just start. Don't worry if your efforts look cool and hip. Baby steps. And don't let the excuse of being broke get you down. 

We've got this! 

I'm joining in with my friends from The Schoolhouse Review Crew! 

Living Frugally

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

That's how the cookie crumbles...A Weight Loss Post

Welcome to my weekly healthy living update.

How has everyone doing? I’ve had some ups and downs.

I will say that it’s really hard to let those times I’ve not done so well defeat me. The key is not to let the disappointment I have in myself defeat me.

You see. There were some Oreos at my house this week. We generally don’t keep junk food. 

However, we had gotten a package for our Children’s church snack for Sunday and forgot to grab them on the way out the door.

Do you ever have those days that your willpower seems superhuman? I have. But not this week.

I think a certain hormonal event has a lot to do with that.

But. I started again fresh. I think I've been guilty for quite some time of letting circumstances dictate how I feel about myself or about the world in general. It's hard not to. We have so much pain and uncertainty around us. It almost feels frivolous to worry about the color of my hair or how much weight I can lose. 

Then again I think that might be an excuse to eat more Oreos. No more excuses, right! 

I did have some victories this week. I checked my blood sugar faithfully and guess what? It was really good. I also was faithful to eat a healthy breakfast and drink plenty of water.

I missed a few days of exercise. There were a few days that were extremely cold. I had to make do with stretching out and doing some light weights.

My goals for this week is to continue to be consistent with what I have set forth to do. I also need to plan better for my sweet tooth.

I haven’t weighed this month yet. To be honest I am anxious to. I feel bloated and puffy. I am using my clothing as indicator right now. And right now my jeans that are usually a bit loose are tight.


I’ll keep you posted. And keep the excuses to a minimum. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Winter Nature Study FREE Printables

We've had some bitterly cold weather here in the Ozarks.

Though my Indiana born and raised husband is complaining about our lack of snow.

I am resisting the urge to smack him...or at least rebuking that spirit of the cold stuff.

I love him. And he bought me a huge jug of olive oil.

You gotta keep a man like that.

Josiah and I have been keeping busy. At least, I am keeping busy. I have a feeling that Josiah is just pretending. I did find a pile of clean shirts in the dirty laundry basket.

I really need to throw him outside and let him run off some of his excess energy. We had to take both December and January off from swim team....and his PE class doesn't start for another 10 days. However, we live in a 2nd floor apartment in the middle of our town. Which is bigger than most, but not as big as some.

It doesn't mean we still can't enjoy the beauty of a winter day. This year I've created some printables that will, at least, focus our studies.

And I am going to share them with you. I apologize for any strange links, un-centered borders and misspelled words. I am only a girl with too much laundry to do and too many books to read.
Before I get to the nature-themed printables, I encourage you to check out THIS set of winter-themed writing prompts I made last week. There are a few that could be used with a nature study.

Here are some Observation pages for trees. There are separate files. Click here for the Deciduous Observation sheet. I kept spelling deciduous incorrectly. It could have all gone terribly wrong. The Evergreen Observation sheet can be found here

If you click on the picture you will get the Evergreen Page. I got tired of taking snapshots of my PDF's so I clumped pictures together.

This next printable is actually a little booklet. I found a really nice (and old) publication by W.S. Blatchley. It is titled "How Animals Spend the Winter." I didn't use the entire piece. I picked out a few animals (or groups) to focus on. I love writing older publications and the fact that they are now in the Public Domain is just terrific. I made this little booklet to take to our reading club. I chose a font that is easier for kiddos with reading issues (like Josiah) to read. The kiddos can also underline and highlight (or make notes) to their hearts content. I have also included a list of possible activities.

Here are some Winter-themed notebooking pages. I've used vintage images. There are a few that would be appropriate for a Nature Study.

This file has two printables. The first is a Winter Bird Watching sheet. I've used birds that are commonly found at my Mom and Dad's farm. But you can cross out or add birds that are common in your neck of the woods. The second is a generic Winter Animal Research sheet. I find that Josiah does better with graphic organizers. They allow him to clearly record and report.

This Winter Weather Report one of my favorites. Not because it is the cutest, but because it is the most practical right now for us. We are recording the weather. I have a budding weatherman at my house. He knows the forecast before we do. It's been fun to look up all the information on our favorite weather stations website everyday. Plus, he has been able to make his own observations.

Using another old publication (Bird Neighbors, 1897) I created this little booklet about Woodpeckers. Specifically, the Red-Headed Woodpecker. Don't let this page fool you. I have 2 pages of reading from Bird Neighbors, a notebooking page, a page with a few woodpecker poems and a few links for some fun. There is also this newspaper style report page. I made this up for our little reading club as well.

Finally, this Bird Observation page is another one you can use all year round. I love birds. They are so cheerful. Much like myself when my husband buys me large jugs of olive oil.

It doesn't take much to make me happy.

Go forth, my friends. Enjoy those chilly days.

I am joining my friends from the Schoolhouse Review Crew for a Winter Nature Study Round-Up. The post goes live Wednesday, January 14. Go check it out!

Winter Nature Study

Monday, January 12, 2015

What I'm Fixin': Nothing like a good deal...

I'm doing it! Another week and another meal plan. If only I could be as consistent with my laundry.

Saturday we got to visit one of the Discount Groceries in our area. I got some great deals! It makes planning meals so much easier (and cheaper).


Chicken Salad - Actually it's turkey. My mom sent me home with leftover turkey (including the carcass). Yay! I am going to do whatever I can with that turkey. Starting with an easy, but delicious chicken salad.
Other Stuff- I will set out some kettle chips (for my boys), bread, cottage cheese and lettuce for me to wrap the chicken in, sliced tomatoes...whatever I have in my fridge.


Turkey Carcass Soup - this is a good recipe. I'm telling you. This soup is good for whatever ails you. My husband generally likes a sandwich on the side.


Mexican Slow Cooked Pork Carnitas - I love I am going to eat my serving with low carb tortillas. I did find a wonderful deal on them at the discount grocery for .99 a package. I will also serve homemade guac and salsa.

Thursday - This day is our Reading Club day. Because we are gone for several hours this is a good day to put something in the crockpot. However, this week My Muffin is taking a vacation day. We will still go to our reading club, but I will fix him something special just for being home.

Alfred Mac and Cheese with Shrimp - I am going to use the Pioneer Woman's alfredo recipe, Dreamfield's macaroni noodles and some sauteed shrimp. Yummers!
Green Beans - canned from my Daddy's garden!

Friday - Our family day! I plan on making Red Beans and Rice. The best I ever tasted was at a friend's house. I am hoping to get the recipe this week. I'll share :
Red Beans and Rice

Have a great week!

I'm linking this post to Meal Plan Monday! 

Wow! A Great Giveaway!

I've been a parent now for 13 years. I can tell you that sometimes I think I've gotten the hang of it.

And then....there are those times.

You know what I'm talking about. My sweet boy has now entered his Teen years. Recently, I've been digging into a great book. I hadn't even finished the 2nd chapter before I discovered practical wisdom I can apply to my relationship with Josiah.

I am blessed to be part of a team that is launching this terrific book.

To celebrate the release of Motivate Your Child: A Christian Parent's Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told,  members of the Launch Team are sharing a wonderful giveaway filled with a Go Pro Camera, $50 Mardel Gift Card, $25 Amazon Gift Card, and book bundles from both the National Center for Biblical Parenting and Thomas Nelson Publishing! Three winners will win prizes with a total value of nearly $800!

  motivate your child giveaway

Here’s what you could win: 

GRAND PRIZE  ($500+ value)

Go Pro HERO3+ Silver Camera ($300 value)

HERO3+ Silver captures gorgeous, professional-quality 1080p60 video and 10MP photos at speeds of up to 10 frames per second. Built-in Wi-Fi enables you to use the GoPro App to control the camera remotely, preview shots and share your favorites on Facebook, Twitter and more. Compatible with all GoPro mounts, you can wear it or attach it to your gear for immersive POV footage of your favorite activities. It’s waterproof to 131’ (40m) and built tough for all of life’s adventures. Combined with stunning low-light performance, high-performance audio and an ultra wide-angle glass lens, HERO3+ Silver makes capturing and sharing your life easier than ever.  

NCBP Book Bundle ($115 value)

 The Christian Parenting Handbook  and Companion Guide Parenting is Heart Work God's Awesome Story Hero Training Camp Children's Curriculum


Thomas Nelson Book Bundle ($90 value):

The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst  Desperate by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson   Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine  All Pro Dad by Mark Merrill  The Passionate Mom by Susan Merrill 


FIRST PRIZE ($165 value)

$50 Mardel Gift Card


NCBP Book Bundle ($115 value)

The Christian Parenting Handbook  and Companion Guide Parenting is Heart Work God's Awesome Story Hero Training Camp Children's Curriculum


SECOND PRIZE ($115 value)

$25 Amazon Gift Card


Thomas Nelson Book Bundle ($90 value):

The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst  Desperate by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson   Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine  All Pro Dad by Mark Merrill  The Passionate Mom by Susan Merrill.

  To enter, use the Rafflecopter below. Giveaway dates: January 12, 2015 @12:00am ET through January 28, 2015 @ 11:59pm ET Terms and Conditions: This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.  Void where prohibited by law. Must be at least 18 years of age. This giveaway is in no away associated with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or Amazon. No purchase necessary for entry. Odds are determined by the number of entries. Selected winner will have 48 hours to respond to email notification to claim their prize or another winner will be drawn.

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