Monday, December 31, 2007

New Years!

Wow, I have so many ideas for things I want to post about, but it always seems to get away from me!

Tonight we are having some friends over (they have 4 kiddos) to celebrate New Years. We weren't sure until today that they were coming over, so I had no idea what I was going to make. I had barely anything in the fridge, and to top it off, their kids are very very picky eaters! So, I decided on this menu and made a run to Whole Foods:

Tortilla Chips w/ Cilantro Salsa
Spinach Dip - w/ crackers, carrot & celery sticks
Popcorn (Not from a bag!)
Mediterranean Pasta (recipe below)
Cheese Pizza (from Whole Foods)
Citrus Brownies (recipe below)
Sparkling Apple Juice
White Wine (Dry Comal Creek)

The pasta is a recipe I made up about a year ago, and my husband LOVES it:

Mediterranean Pasta

1lb Whole Wheat Penne Pasta
6oz feta cheese

1/4 white onion - chopped

3 cloves garlic - minced

1 can artichoke hearts - drained

1 can hearts of palm - drained

1 can baby corn - drained

1 jar roasted red bell peppers - drained

1/4 cup white vinegar

1 cup olive oil

2 teaspoons basil

1 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

pepper as desired

Combine all ingredients, except pasta and feta, in a large bowl. Cover and allow to marinate for at least 1 hour (can do in morning).

Cook pasta according to directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Add to serving bowl.

Heat large wok over medium heat and add marinated vegetables. Sautee for 5-10minutes.

Add vegetables and feta to pasta. Serve!

For the brownies, I use this recipe and add the zest of one orange and 2 teaspoons orange juice.

So, hopefully this evening will go over well. What is everyone else doing for New Years Eve?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


... is a wonderful day filled with hope. It is a hard day for some, and an incredibly joyous day for others. I pray that you will be filled with the hope that the Lord brings. I pray that we may continue to celebrate everyday we are given.

Peace. Love. Blessings.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Menu Plan Monday: Week of December 17, 2007

Wow, has it really been a week since I last posted? My goodness! Well the theme of this weeks menu is: FRUGAL! The budget is a bit tight the rest of the month, so I am doing my best to keep it as cheap as possible!

Monday: Swiss Chard Soft Tacos w/ black bean & corn salsa, side of sliced oranges
Tuesday: Split Pea Soup w/ homemade bread & side salad topped with vinaigrette
Wednesday: Husband's work Christmas Party - leftover Black Bean Burgers I froze from last week if we are still hungry
Thursday: Honey Baked Lentils w/ side salad topped with Tahini Dressing
Friday: Date Night (We always use the Entertainment Book)
Weekend/Other: Leftovers, Whole Wheat Pasta w/ tomato sauce
Snacks: Zucchini Bread, Pumpkin Bread, Popcorn (the real kind!)

I had an exciting moment at Whole Foods - Organic Valley Butter is on sale for $4.99 a pound, and then there is a coupon for $1.50 off in the new Mambo Sprouts coupon book! YAY! (I wish I could find local butter, but I have yet to find any!)

Well, that is the week - I was able to keep it at about $58 this week... I know, not as good as Crystal who does it for $35 a week, but we buy all organic, and local if possible. We also buy things as least processed as possible - thereby decreasing the amount of coupons available. Most coupons are for processed/packaged foods.

I also shop at Whole Foods which tends to be pricier, but I like supporting a company who has higher standards than most with what they will offer the public. I wish I could shop at farmers markets more, but they are hit or miss here.

Our usual grocery bill is between $75-100 per week including all toiletries, cleaning supplies, and things like probiotics.

My question to y'all (all 2 of you who read this!) is: How much is your weekly grocery bill? And, how do you keep it as frugal as possible?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Menu Plan Monday: Week of Dec 11,2007

Ok, so this week has been a little hectic. We spent all day Monday in mediation with a bunch of lawyers for this. I feel so out of whack and off schedule. So, here I am doing Menu Plan Monday on Tuesday...

Monday: I pulled out leftover butternut squash soup from the freezer... so glad I had this on hand!
Tuesday: Orange Glazed Tofu w/ Sesame Bok Choy and Brown Rice
Wednesday: Black Bean Burgers w/ Sweet Potato Fries
Thursday: Calcutta Eggplant (from World Food Cafe book) & Red Lentil Dal w/ Naan & plain yogurt
Weekend/Other: Sauteed Mushroom & Veggie Tacos
Zucchini bread

Monday, December 10, 2007

Please pray....

Please pray for my husband and I right now. We were in a very bad car accident in July of this year (they had to use the jaws of life to get me out, and I had internal bleeding along with a whole list of other injuries). The accident actually happened on our one year wedding anniversary. I am so thankful we are alive today, but sometimes the "real world" issues can weigh down on you.

The whole legal process and paying for medical bills is a bit overwhelming right now... basically we are not sure if there is going to be enough to cover my existing medical bills, and I am still seeing the doctor (my broken ribs haven't healed and I still am having back issues).

I have never been in a situation like this. I had always thought that with an accident like this you would get a big chunk of money - at least that is what the media tells you. But no, that doesn't happen. I don't want a huge sum - all I want is medical bills paid!

Sorry, I needed to vent. It is just frustrating how the whole system (legal and medical) works. So please pray that we will feel comforted that the Lord will take care of this situation and pray that we can turn it over to Him (that is the hardest part)!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Making Your Home a Haven : Day 3 (& 4)

I am taking the challenge to make my home a haven from Crystal, over at Biblical Womanhood. Today I am doing Wednesday's and Thursday's challenges to get caught up.

Today I started with my morning routine... and let me tell you how hard it was not to get on the computer before I finished it! Oh my goodness... it is terrible! I didn't realize what a draw this thing has on me. I know that having my morning routine in place will really help kick the bad habit of rolling out of bed and getting straight on the computer! Anyone else deal with this?

The challenges for today (and yesterday) are:

Refresh Your Spirit: Morning routine and devotions are done! The verse I focused on today was Psalm 42:2 "My soul thirsts for God, for the living God."

Take Time to Plan:

To Do -
(1) Call mom
(2) Write patient notes
(3) Call patients
(4) E-mail my boss
(5) Complete Ebay stuff (package and ship)
(6) Laundry!! Including fold and put away!
(7) Get oil change
(8) E-mail a friend
(9) Do all things on daily cleaning schedule (I will post this at some later date)

How I am going to bless my family -
This weekend I am going to make my husband breakfast (his favorite - blueberry pancakes!) in bed and allow him to have time to relax!

Do Something:

Ok, today I am doing all laundry, cleaning the laundry room, picking up around the house, and cleaning the bathroom!

So that is the plan for today... we will see how it goes!

Making Your Home a Haven : Day 1 (& 2) Update

Ok, so yesterday I followed Crystal's challenges for day 1 & 2 (Monday and Tuesday). Creating my morning routine is something that I have needed to do!

Our entry way is pretty bare right now. I haven't decorated it at all - just painted the walls. I was thinking "Oh, this should be easy, there is nothing in there, and it is pretty clean." WRONG! I had no idea how disgusting the baseboards were! I swept, mopped, picked up things out of place, cleaned the baseboards, and wiped down the front door inside and out (the rag was black from all the nastiness).

Here are before pictures of our entry way: The first one is as if you are walking in to our house. The second is as if you are looking at the front door to walk out.

So here are the after pictures:

Next, I moved on to the entry way closet.... I didn't realize how out of control and messy it was! All of the vacuum accessories were just thrown in there, there was all types of junk on the top shelf and I don't think I had ever cleaned the floor since we moved in! (Confession: I didn't even realize there was tile in there until yesterday!)

So here is the before and after pictures:

Here is my living room before and after also:

The living room was pretty clean, but it needed a vacuum, put things in the right place, and a quick dust. I also added a nativity set that I found at the thrift store to the coffee table. I am not big on overly Christmas (like Santa...) decorations. I like to keep it simple, but was having a hard time finding something I liked. I saw this at the thrift store and fell in love! It is so simple and reflects the true meaning of Christmas! Here is a picture of my wonderful $5.99 find!

So, that is it for yesterday's challenge... on to today's!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Better late than never!

Ok, so Crystal over at Biblical Womanhood started a challenge on Monday... and now it is Wednesday and I am just starting. Oh well, I NEED this so bad! So, better late than never! I am going to do Monday and Tuesday's challenge today. Yo can read all about the daily challenges over at Crystal's blog to get a better idea of what I am talking about.

The challenge is: Making Your Home a Haven!

Today's (Monday & Tuesday's) Challenge:

1. Refresh Your Spirit (5 minutes)

Ok, done... I really need to work on this. I have been REALLY bad about spending time with the Lord daily. There always seems like there is something else to do that has to get done. No true. I know deep down that my time with the Lord is top priority. My home feels more welcoming, I'm happier, I feel at peace, I am nicer to my husband, and everything runs so much easier when I take time with the Lord.

2. Take Time to Plan (5 minutes)

Morning Routine:
(1) Wake up... so hard for me! I could sleep till 9:00am everyday!
(2) Make bed... I have to do this, otherwise I will want to crawl back in!
(3) Put on yoga clothes and do 30 minutes of yoga... I feel 800 times better when I actually do this!
(4) Eat breakfast & drink tea while reading the bible and journaling... I think we already talked about how bad I need this!
(5) Shower, get dressed for the day... put on REAL clothes, even if I am cleaning that day!

Ok, so the times I plan on doing all of this is still up in the air... any suggestions?

3. Do Something! (5 -15 minutes)

On Monday, Crystal challenged us to clean up the entry way, and on Tuesday she challenged us to clean up the living room! So here it goes! I will update this post later with pictures...

Monday, December 3, 2007

Menu Plan Monday: Week of December 3, 2007

Well, I feel weird about not posting for so long... I just sort of forgot! This weekend was very busy, but we got quite a bit done. Here is our menu for this week:

Monday: Spinach and Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash
Tuesday: Green Bean and Sweet Potato Curry over Brown Rice
Wednesday: BLT's w/ crackers & spinach artichoke dip
- Based on this recipe, but I am going to use tempeh instead... I'll let you know how that goes
Thursday: Whole Wheat Pasta tossed w/ Carrot Top & Walnut Pesto topped w/ fresh tomatoes
- Based on this recipe, but using carrot tops instead of arugula
Friday: Date Night!
Weekend/Other: Leftovers, Blueberry Pancakes (BEST recipe! I double the berries & use more wheat flour than white)
Snacks: Zucchini Bread

Does anyone have a good Zucchini Bread recipe? The recipe I tried is REALLY sweet! It tastes good, but I don't think it is my favorite recipe.

Have a beautiful week!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Menu Plan Monday - Week of Nov 26, 2007

Both my husband and I feel like we need to detox from all of the Thanksgiving food!! My sister-in-law left us a huge portion of leftover cheesecake... and oh my goodness, I feel so yucky from eating all that cheesecake! I am going to post some pictures soon from our Thanksgiving... I was pretty happy with how everything turned out!

This weeks meals are going to be pretty simple and healthy.

Monday: Turkey Chili w/ Side Salad and Homemade Whole Wheat Rolls
Green Bean Green Curry Stir Fry over Brown Rice
Veggie & Feta Stuffed Calzones made w/ Whole Wheat Crust

Honey Baked Lentils (I add some carrots or sweet potatoes) Whole Wheat Toast & Spinach Citrus Salad
Date night!
Leftovers, Split Pea Soup, Mushroom Quesadillas

Breakfast Bars

Mmmm... now I'm hungry. I'm gonna go grab some lunch. Maybe an almond butter & jelly sandwich.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Oh my goodness, I smell like an Indian food restaurant...

Ok, so there has been this issue at our house recently... it smells. Don't get me wrong, I actually love the smell of cumin, curry, and ginger... but not when it starts to permeate my clothes.

Our spice cabinet has been infiltrating our house. As soon as you opened the front door, it smelled like I had just made Jungle curry for an entire army. I love that I can buy my spices in bulk from Whole Foods, but I didn't realize leaving them in the plastic baggies would cause such damage. Basically, the plastic baggies of cumin, curry, and ginger were allowing the smells to escape and permeate every porous surface in our house. I had put bowls of baking soda in the cabinet to hopefully absorb some of the smell, but it really made no difference. Candles and incense weren't making any difference, despite practically smoking out the whole kitchen.

The other day, I couldn't take it anymore. I had my in-laws coming over for Thanksgiving, I could smell the spices on my clothes when I was away from the house, and my husband said, "It smells weird in here". That was it. It was war.

I pulled out everything from the cabinet, sprayed it down with my vinegar/water/eucalyptus oil solution and wiped that sucker clean. It still smelled. Bad. The bottles themselves smelled. So then I wiped down all of the spice bottles. Still smelled.

Finally I put the pungent spices (curry, ginger, cumin, cumin seed) from their baggies into glass jelly jars.

They are upside down because I had read somewhere that putting spices upside down doesn't allow air to get in and therefore not allowing smells to escape (I don't know if it is true, but I was willing to do anything at this point). That seemed to help, but the cabinet has seemed to absorb all of the smells. How do I make a wood cabinet not smell? I know that baking soda is supposed to absorb smells, so I coated the cabinet with baking soda and let it sit.

I then sprayed it with vinegar and let the exploding action do its work. After cleaning up the baking soda and putting everything back into the cabinet... it didn't really smell anymore (well, just a little)! My husband even said when he came home "It smells better in here." YAY!

So, am I the only one who has had this happen? Please tell me no.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Anyone know any environmentally friendly alternatives to Scotchguard?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Menu Plan Monday - Week of Nov 18, 2007

This week is Thanksgiving! I am a bit nervous because I am hosting my husbands family at our house! I have never put on a meal quite this big, but I am lucky that my mother-in-law is helping quite a bit. In fact, my mother-in-law offered to make the turkey and gravy!

They don't usually shop organic or think twice about where their food came from, so my husband hinted that if she was going to do the turkey, it needed to be free-range and organic. I was SO very happy he did that! We don't eat much meat around here, but if we do, or if it is in our house, we want it to be properly raised without antibiotics and hormones.
Needless to say, this week is going to be a bit hectic (and expensive at the grocery store!). That is why most of the meals earlier this week are pretty simple.

Monday: Grilled Cheese and Curried Sweet Potato Soup
Tuesday: Chickpea, Spinach, Carrot and Quinoa Mélange
Wednesday: Tomato Pasta
Friday: Date night!
Weekend/Other: Leftovers

So, you are probably wondering what our Thanksgiving menu looks like. All of the recipes I am linking to, I will most likely change up a bit. Here it is:

Thanksgiving 2007


Stuffed Mushrooms
Cream Cheese w/ Chipotle Raspberry Sauce and Whole Wheat Crackers


Beer Infused Turkey - MIL making


Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Apple and Sage Stuffing
- I am going to combine a bunch of recipes
Green Beans w/ Toasted Almonds

West Texas
Creamed Corn
Mixed Green Salad w/ Balsamic Vinaigrette

Roasted Butternut Squash

Orange and Ginger Cranberry Sauce

Spiced Whipped Cream -
I will whip the cream w/ vanilla and cinnamon
Gravy -
MIL making


White Rolls -
MIL making
Whole Wheat Rolls -
Following this recipe w/o cranberries and walnuts


Pumpkin Bread
- I use more wheat flour than white,
double the pumpkin, use real egg, and add some applesauce and nutmeg

Pumpkin Pie
- MIL making
Cheesecake w/ Strawberry Reduction Sauce
- sister-in-law making



Sweet Tea


Whew! I hope it all goes as planned - I will let you all know!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Frugal Fridays: "No paper towels!?"

We don't use paper towels... GASP! I know. My mother-in-law almost choked on her water when she asked where the paper towels were to clean up a mess off the floor in the kitchen and my answer was "We don't use paper towels, we have regular towels in that cabinet".

My husband and I have been using regular towels for instead of paper towels for about a year. Not only is it WAY cheaper, but it is such a waste to use something for 0.3 seconds and then throw it away. I know my parents go through like a roll a day... that is so many trees! Sure you can buy the recycled Seventh Generation stuff, but to me it is so not worth it when you can reuse something over and over.

So, here is our system. We have towels (microfiber towels are great... they are great for dusting and scrubbing) in a basket in a cabinet next to the sink.

Then under the sink, I have a small "laundry" basket, and I just throw them in there when they are dirty. Simple.

I wash the towels every couple of days, or when the basket is full. This has saved us quite a bit of money and quite a few trees!

Visit Biblical Womanhood for more great frugal ideas!

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Getting things done

Lately I have been feeling like I am really unproductive and don't use my time wisely. A few weeks ago, I started a weekly cleaning schedule, and it has GREATLY helped me get things done and not feel so overwhelmed. However, I still waste very precious time on not very productive things (*cough* too much time on the internet *cough*). Today, I decided to kick my butt in gear and be thankful for the time I have - that I don't have to work a full time job, and that we don't have kids yet so I can use my time to help others.

So, today I would like to share my list of accomplished things!
  • Made bed
  • Sweeped all hard floors
  • Vacuumed corners and baseboards
  • Deodorized (sprinkled baking soda and let it sit) and vacuumed carpet
  • Mopped all hard floors
  • Soaked shower head in vinegar to remove all the nasty stuff that has been building up
  • Caught up on e-mails/phone calls for work
  • Updated household calendar
  • Picked up clutter in office and bedroom
  • Organized all recipes in recipe binder: put recipes in page protectors
  • Cleaned out and reorganized home management binder
  • Dusted all hard surfaces
  • Wiped down mirrors
  • Wiped bathroom and kitchen counters
  • Made dinner for a good friend of mine that is a new mama: Baked bread, made lentil soup, baked chocolate chip cookies, made label tags and tied them on with ribbon to each item
  • Made dinner for my husband and I: Eggplant Parmesan - served and cleaned up
  • Had to sweep kitchen again
  • Went to Goodwill and purchased: basket to put dinner for new mama in, new cloth napkins for our everyday use (7 new napkins for 2.75!), and 2 new Fall tea towels (.79 cents!)
  • Dropped off food to new mama and held her beautiful new baby boy for a little bit
  • Did dishes
  • 1 load of laundry
  • Looked over our budget with my husband
  • Read a few new blogs and got some cool ideas for all kinds of stuff
  • Looked up Christmas gift ideas
  • And wrote this blog post!
  • And it is still only 8:30pm
Okay, so I am sure there are those of you out there that are thinking that this is nothing, but I feel great about it... so, don't burst my bubble!

Thanks for letting me get that out! Now for some quality time with my dear sweet husband!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Menu Plan Monday - Week of Nov 12, 2007

I love menu planning and grocery shopping, so Monday is one of my favorite days. Below is my menu plan for this week:

Monday: Tempeh Sloppy Joe Wraps w/ Baked Fries and coleslaw

Tuesday: Honey Baked Lentils w/ salad and toast

Wednesday: Baked Eggplant Parmesan w/ side spinach salad topped w/ homemade balsamic

Thursday: Sweet Potato Patties w/ curried sour cream, naan (I have some frozen in the freezer that I made a few weeks ago), and wilted garlic spinach

Friday: Date Night!!

Weekend/Other: Leftovers, Quesadillas

Snacks: Banana Bread

My husband LOVES the recipe for Tempeh Sloppy Joe Wraps by Cassie Young. You should check out Cassie's meal plans over at Veggie Meal Plans. This blog was the one that got me started on menu planning over a year ago! She has SO many wonderful recipes and ideas... I tend to use at least one of her ideas a week. Her recipes are usually a simplified conglomerate of other recipes she has tried - and they are amazing. Her blog has greatly helped expand our vegetarian meal options (because it is easy to get in a rut).

From last weeks menu, the Sauteed Rainbow Chard, Apricots, Walnuts, and Garlic over Quinoa (a recipe I made up) was amazing! I wasn't sure about it, but we absolutely loved it! Adding a bit of balsamic vinegar while I sauteed the chard helped counteract some of the bitterness and bring all the flavors together. Also, I added raisins along with the apricots and slightly re-hydrated both in a little hot water before adding them to the mix.

Visit I'm an Organizing Junkie for more meal plans!

Saturday, November 10, 2007


I am leaving in a few minutes for a camp out with the youth from church (I help teach their Sunday School). I realized that this is the first time I will be a night away from my husband since we got married!! He is staying home to try to get some work done on our never ending project of redoing the bathroom. (We started the project in MAY and it is still down to the studs with no bathtub or toilet installed... or even a floor for that matter.)

I am not much of a camper, so we will see how this weekend goes. Don't get me wrong, I love the outdoors, but not when it comes to bugs or anything strange actually touching me. They are nice to look at, but once it is in close proximity, I am not a happy camper. (No pun intended!)

Anyways, we will see how this goes...

Thursday, November 8, 2007

My blue suede (or leather) shoes...

Today I found some amazingly cute shoes. Now, I am not much of a heel wearer. I usually stick with flats, but these were too cute to pass up and the heel is only about an inch at the most. They will go perfect with a navy blue blouse that I have.

Can you guess how much they were?

Only $5.99!! How, you say? Well, Goodwill is oh so good to me. It is not only good to keep our budget on track, but it is also good for the environment. I feel SO much better knowing that I can get what I need without requiring something new to be made and buying into the pressures of consumerism. These shoes look like someone wore them maybe 2 times and they are made of super soft leather. Can you tell I am just a little bit excited about my frugal find?

Yay for new shoes!

Head over to Biblical Womanhood for more frugal ideas!

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Monday, November 5, 2007

Menu Plan Monday - Week of November 5, 2007

I have been planning a weekly menu for my husband and I, and have also been reading I'm an Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday for awhile... BUT this is my first time actually posting my menu plan online!

We eat mainly vegetarian around here, and being a dietitian has a huge influence on the "healthy factor" of our foods (that doesn't mean we eat perfect!). I pack my husband's lunch almost everyday, which usually consist of leftovers from the night before with fruit.

So, here it goes... my first online menu plan!

Monday: Broccoli, Mushroom and Brown Basmati Rice Casserole with spinach salad and homemade balsamic vinaigrette

Tuesday: Red Bean Coffee Chili with homemade cornbread

Wednesday: Sauteed Rainbow Chard, Apricots, Walnuts, and Garlic over Quinoa

Thursday: Black Bean Chalupas topped with spinach, sour cream and fire-roasted salsa

Friday: Date Night!! (My FAVORITE night!)

Weekend/Other: Leftovers, Almond Butter and Jelly Sandwiches

Snacks: Homemade Banana Bread

Yay! Hopefully I get faster at this posting stuff in the future.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Dirty Dishes

I have been replacing all of our household products with more "earth friendly" options as they run out. The most recent thing to run out was detergent for the dishwasher... I bought Seventh Generation Automatic Dishwashing Powder. I had high hopes for this product since we have been very happy with our Dish Soap and other products. However - our dishes didn't come out sparkling clean as expected... they were covered in a white dusty film. Yuck. I handwashed all the dishes, which isn't so bad, until once they dried and I realized that the film was still there in patches... so I had to RE-handwash all of the dishes. What a waste of water! Hmm... guess I will have to keep shopping around for something else, or figure out a way to make my own. As far as other household cleaning products, I basically use a mix of 1/2 vinegar, 1/2 water, and a couple drops of dish soap (and the occasional baking soda for scouring) for everything else. It works great and I don't have to worry about yucky chemicals. There is really no need to buy "natural" all purpose cleaners. They are often SUPER expensive and you can make the same thing at home! I think when the Seventh Generation dish soap runs out I am going to replace it with some Dr. Bronner's...