Monday, January 19, 2009

A Very Productive and Frugal Day

Today was very busy, but also very productive. I had a lot to do today and my hubby canceled a breakfast meeting to stay home and help me. You see, my brother and his family are coming to visit us tomorrow for the week. Since we just moved here last month, there were alot of little things that hadn't quite gotten done and I was feeling a little overwhelmed. I really appreciated the sacrifice my hubby made to help me.

After getting all that done, I then made some homemade buttermilk since my brother likes buttermilk. I also made some peanut brittle and peanut butter. Then I made a double batch of my homemade granola cereal so we would have enough for the week with extra mouths to feed.

I also made a trip to Albertson's to take advantage of a great deal they had for free eggs, milk and bread, as well as many items for only $1.88. And strawberries were only $1.48 for a large container, as well as blueberries for $1.88 a pint. Picked up some Scott Extra Soft Toilet Tissue for $.88 and some Hunt's Spaghetti Sauce for $.88, too. I also stopped by Basha's to get their chicken breasts for $.69/lb. I was able to get 6 packages with 4 breasts in each.

I also refilled my foam soap and mixed up some liquid for a box of baby wipes that had gone dry. Whew! It makes me exhausted just reiterating all this for you! I was very busy, my family all helped, too, and we accomplished a great deal!

Have some last minute cleaning to do in preparation tomorrow morning, but we are very excited to have them coming to visit us in our new house!

Superbowl This Year is Win-Win For Us!!

Wow, I am truly amazed that the Cardinals and Steelers will be playing in the Superbowl this year! Just a few weeks ago I said to my son, "Wouldn't it be something if the Cardinals and Steelers went to the Superbowl?" And we were truly shocked when it actually happened! The games were great on Sunday!

Here's why it is a win-win situation for us: we are die-hard Steeler fans since both my hubby and I are from Pittsburgh. However, we currently live in Phoenix area and have become Cardinal fans, too. We especially like Kurt Warner, who is a Christian. So I guess we will be rooting for both teams and happy however it turns out! What a strange set of circumstances this has turned out to be!

Go Cardinals and Steelers!!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Our Favorite Teriyaki Chicken!! Yummmmmmm!

I first made this Baked Teriyaki Chicken recipe several months ago and we all LOVED it! And it is very easy to make since you bake the chicken with the sauce on it.

Last weekend, I made this recipe for 100 people for our church lunch and everyone seemed to love it as well. So, since many have asked for the recipe, I thought I would share it.

It is from (if you haven't looked at their recipes yet, you really need to check it out!). I really like baking this with the chicken thighs because they are cheap (I usually get them for $0.67-$0.79/lb) and stay very moist. You can also use chicken breasts, even boneless, if you prefer.

While the chicken is baking, I saute some veggies (carrots, broccoli, squash, whatever) and cook my rice so that as soon as the chicken is done, the whole meal is ready to go. I like to debone the meat, shred it a little and toss it with the veggies, adding any leftover sauce at this point (make extra, you will love it!). Then just serve over rice and your meal is complete.

Blessings Galore Today!

This morning I went out to yard sales looking for 2 items: a smaller bookshelf for all of our music books and curtains for my daughter's bedroom. As I got into the van about 8am, I asked God to lead me to the places where I could find what I was looking for at a great price (I only had $10 in cash on me and couldn't afford much more than that anyway).

Within the first 3 stops, I found a wonderful bookshelf and they were only asking $10 for it. I had picked up a bread tray with tile warmer at a previous stop, so I only had $8 on me. They took $8 for the bookshelf! Then I had a little time to kill before the Goodwill opened at 9am (today was their 50% off everything day), so I wandered around a little more to a few more yard sales. I passed an area where there were a bunch of people handing out tons of produce. My curiosity got the best of me, so I stopped. I walked over to find out if it was a farmer's market or something, and found out that it was a food bank farmer's market giving away carts full of produce for FREE! All you had to do was sign in, get a number and wait your turn. So I decided God had led me here to bless us and took my turn. I received a pizza, more yellow squash than we could ever eat, about 20 bunches of green onions, honeydew, a bag full of apples, some peaches, a bunch of packaged bake goods, a box of candy canes, 4 small cabbages, a bag full of leaf lettuce, a fruit tray, 6 cartons of grape tomatoes, some ready to bake Christmas tree cookies, a 2.98lb Tri-tip from Trader Joes (priced at $17!!) and a few other things. Whew!! What a blessing that was! I shared some of the produce with our pastor's wife and she is going to use some of it for our church meal tomorrow. I also sat a peeled almost all of the apples to make a couple of apple crips (since most of them were bruised). I will be making Yellow Squash Casserole and the Tri-tip for dinner tonight. I baked the pizza for lunch.

Then I finally got to Goodwill and they had curtains made of fabric with horses on them - my daughter's room is horse-themed!! And they were less than $6 for three panels (I am going to use one to make accent pillows, etc.)!!!

God is SO awesome! He is so anxious to bless us if we will just ask Him and seek His leading in everything we do! Even going out to yard sales to find a few items!!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Technical Sketching for Middle Schoolers

I have to admit that when I received this in the mail from Insight Technical Education, I was a little overwhelmed with the holidays and moving, so I just put it aside for awhile.  My expectations were very vague because I had no idea what this product would entail.  Well, I have to tell you that I am very impressed with the product and the skills that it teaches in a very self-directed environment!

I received Advanced Complete-A-Sketch which teaches technical sketching, introduces drafting concepts, explore orthographic and isometric sketching, includes 3D Models to build and provides independent learning opportunities.  It is a CD Rom, so you can print out whatever you want as many times as you want.  The sketches are a little like advanced dot-to-dot projects where the student can used a straight edge, compass and other simple drafting tools to complete the sketch.  This is very much geared towards boys (helicopters, planes, tanks, etc.), and I believe my son will gain a great deal of ability from these pages.  This program runs $28 and includes a great variety of different projects.  And when they get better, they can do the same project again with more skill that they have acquired.  There is also bonus materials to enhance the learning acquired with the program.  They provide blank graph papers in order for you student to create their own projects, too.

The company is called Insight Technical Education and all their products are self-teaching, self-paced and great for all learning styles.  They have a number of different products including Accounting, Drafting, Introduction to CAD, Technical Sketching and Vision-Dexterity-Focus.  They range in age from Elementary to High School levels.

They also offer package deals, manual drafting kits and CAD software(TurboCAD), which will give the student a good foundation for going on to use other CAD programs.

If you have a child that is leaning more towards the technical end of the spectrum, I believe these products may be exactly the type of art you may be looking for and didn't even know it.   These products were developed to help their own children and now they have made them available for others to benefit from.

Visit their site and you will get an idea of how their program works!  It is a lot of fun to watch your kids complete a sketch that they never thought they were capable of and acquire skills that will aid them in their future.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

KidsWealth - Money Management for Kids

When I opened the box with the KidsWealth Money Kit, I was very impressed with all that it includes!  First, let me explain that this is a money management kit for kids ages 4 - 12.  But it is so much fun and attractive to kids!  "The KidsWealth Money Program will help your child learn the value of money, how to manage their money and build smart money habits for a successful future."

The kit contains the Money Kit Case (available in blue or purple), 5 Account Wallets, Kid's Guide, Parents Guide, Kid's Pay Calendar, Pencils, Calculator, Kid's Pay Agreement, Kal & Pals Sticker Sheet, and Kid's Pay Sticker Sheet.  The Account Wallets are for Wealth (savings/investment), Plan (long-term goals), Learn (educational activities), Fun (spending money) and Angel (charity or tithe).

This program is so simple and fun for your kids that they will be excited to take control of their finances.  The Parents Guide explains all you need to know the implement the program and get your kids well on their way to a successful future financially.

I was very impressed with the KidsWealth Money Kit and would highly recommend it to every family!  It is set up similar to the "envelope method" of budgeting and makes it very easy and fun for kids to plan and save.  The cost for all of this is only $39.95!  And it is so colorful that my daughter immediately began begging me to let her have it and start using it right away!  I think you will find that kids will have fun using the KidsWealth Money Kit as they learn to manage their money.

Math Mammoth - Math Help For Everyone!

I am very happy with the math curriculum we have been using this year, so I was hesitant to try another program.  But with Math Mammoth, I have been very impressed with how their worksheets can be a great addition or help to any math program you may be using.  Math Mammoth has several different programs available.  You can purchase just the worksheets you need to help your child in an area where they may be struggling or just need a little more practice.  Math Mammoth has the Light Blue Series which is complete curriculum for grades 1-5, but they also have the Blue Series which is organized by topic, so you can just pick the topic that you need some extra support in and buy that.  These units are very inexpensive, too, ranging from just $2.50 - $6.00 per unit.  The complete package sets are about $27 for each grade.  That is a whole year worth of math for under $30!  

Then Math Mammoth has the Gold Series which are organized by grade level 3  - 8th grade, including Algebra I.  These are priced at about $12.00 per grade level.  But you can also choose by topic by ordering the Green Series books which are organized by topic and are quite inexpensive at just $2.50 - $6.00 each.  With a bargain like this, you almost can't afford not to try them!  These worksheets will give you that extra peace of mind knowing that your child has fully mastered each topic before moving on to the next level.

And to top it all off, all of these worksheets are printable over and over again so if you have several children, you only have to buy these one time and you will have them for each of your children.  And if your child makes a mess of their paper, simply print it out again and let them start clean.  They also have some package deals for around $60 which include all the topics or grade levels in each color series.  Since most math programs are quite pricey, you will be amazed at what you can get for just a small price with Math Mammoth!  And if you are still hesitant to try it, you can get a free "virtual" email course which included 280 free worksheets and sample pages so you can "try before you buy".  You will also get 7 math teaching articles and their Homeschool Math newsletter - all for free!

I encourage you, no matter how much you love your math program, to take a minute to check our Math Mammoth and see if it can be a help to you and your children.  And if you are looking for a math program to love, definitely don't hesitate to explore Math Mammoth!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Baby Memory Quilt Project Complete!

Just before Christmas, I completed this project of a baby memory quilt for a friend of a friend. It was my first time to piece something like this together and was quite a project! I received a box of baby clothes - mostly boys because the girl in the family was a bit older and they hadn't kept as many of her clothes. So it was a challenge to make it look balanced, as well as highlighting the few girls clothes.

I am not sure how many hours this took, but at least 20 hours over about a weeks time. It sort of came together as I went - the hardest part was the first cut into each cute baby outfit!! It was SO hard to start:-), but as I went along it got easier and a plan came together with the six blocks. I chose navy for the borders since there was so much blue and hand-stitched some of the special things on top after putting it together.

All in all, I was very pleased with the results and I believe the recipient was pleased also. It is a great way to keep some of those baby memories around without keeping a bunch of boxes of baby clothes that you only pull out once in a while to look at. And no one else appreciates them like you do, but this quilt is adorable to all your friends, as well as a great conversation piece.

I have had some requests to do more of these in the future and I believe it was worth my while, so I will let you know when I do another one. Let me know how you think it came out. I am also open to any suggestions that might make the next one easier.
Tip Junkie handmade projects

Friday, January 02, 2009

A New Year's Day Tradition - Chicken Kiev

I guess our traditions are so multicultural because our family is so multicultural (and I love to cook all different kinds of ethnic foods!). On Christmas Eve, I always make Italian Wedding Soup and on New Year's Day, I always make Chicken Kiev (Russian). I have no Italian or Russian in my heritage - I just like their food!

So, I thought I would start out the new year by sharing my Chicken Kiev recipe. It is mostly in my head since I no longer have a printed recipe, so I will share the measurements to the best of my ability.

You will need one chicken breast per person, boneless and skinless, plus:

Stick of butter
Green onions, chopped
Parsley or Cilantro, chopped
3 eggs, beaten with some water
1/2 cup all purpose flour
Dill Weed
Garlic Powder
1 cup bread crumbs

You will need to pound/flatten out the chicken breasts to about 1/2 inch thick, using a skillet or a mallet. I prefer the skillet because it doesn't massacre the meat as much. Then place an 1/8 of a stick up butter (cut in half longways, turn, then cut again longways, then cut those long sticks in half), 1 teaspoon of chopped green onions and 1 teaspoon of parsley or cilantro in the middle of the chicken breast. Begin rolling up, tucking in the sides, until you have a nice chicken roll. You may want to use toothpicks to hold it together.

Mix the pepper, garlic powder and dill weed into the flour. Then with your flour mixture on a plate and your breadcrumbs on another plate, begin by rolling each chicken roll into the flour mixture. Then dip into the egg mixture and roll in the bread crumbs. You can either fry right away, or you can place into the refrigerator for about 30 minutes while you get everything else ready. That way you can clean up the messy stuff before you prepare your other dishes.

When you are ready to fry, you need at least 1 1/2 inches of oil (more is ok) in a pan to reach about 360 degrees. Place a few of the chicken rolls into the oil. Cook at least 5 minutes and then turn over for another 5 minutes. You may need to cook longer depending on the thickness of your chicken. You need to cook until they are done all the way through. Sometimes I pop them into the microwave for a few minutes after frying to just make sure they are cooked through. You don't want to pierce them and let all the butter out, so be careful. Use just one as your test subject.

When you are ready to serve, serve over noodles or rice. When you cut into the Chicken Kiev, the melted butter will pour out onto your noodles or rice and make a rich and yummy dish!

Enjoy whatever meals are your family traditions this new year!

Hello, 2009! Waiting on God...

This year is a clean slate, a blank canvas, waiting to be filled with all the wonderful (and other:-) events, happenings and memories that God will bring you in 2009! Are you looking forward to you? Are you dreading it? Are you just taking a "wait and see" attitude?

Every year God has done wonderful and amazing things in my life, so I look forward each year with curiosity to what He has in store for me and my family. There have been MANY very hard times and I have walked many a treacherous road, but through it all I have learned to lean on Him and know that He will never give us more than we are able to handle with His love and mercy and grace.

The biggest thing that God has been teaching us over the past 5 years is to wait on Him. Wait on His leading before we jump into things. Wait on His timing to do things. Wait on His voice to speak things. Wait on His guidance in decision-making. Wait on His still small voice inside our hearts to be that compass that guides us each and every day. Waiting seems to be very "un-American". We Americans don't like to wait, we are impatient and want to "make things happen". We look at those individuals who are movers and shakers and admire their ability to make things happen. What we forget is that waiting on God is the only way to do things His way! He is NOT impatient or in a hurry! He knows exactly what is going to happen next and far into the future. He knows exactly what is best for us. So why do we forge ahead and make plans and decisions before we hear from Him? We often have to deal with many repercussions and long-reaching effects that our "hurry up" mentality and impatience bring us. God didn't intend those things because He had a perfect time and situation in mind that we weren't willing to wait for. Then we cry out to Him to save us from the "fallout". I'm sorry - that is now our road to walk. He will be with us, but He won't usually change the circumstances that we brought about by our own impetuousness. He loves us too much to save us from the consequences - He simply stays by our side and loves us through the turmoil. That is the only way we learn and grow.

So, my greatest encouragement for this new year is to WAIT ON HIM!!!! I can't stress this enough and I hope and pray some of your ears will hear this message (and eyes read this message) and stop to consider His leading and guiding as you walk through this new year. Stop trying to make things happen NOW, and listen to His gentle voice inside your heart. You will know it is His voice - it is always calm and clear, quiet and gentle. His voice is never rushed, loud or harried. It is never panicky or stressed (that is YOU!). You must calm yourself and quiet all the other things rushing around in your head to hear him. You must stop working so hard to accomplish things and take a moment of quiet (my favorite time to hear Him is in the shower:-) to calm your turmoil and sense His presence and hear His voice.

He desperately wants to lead and guide you. He longs to be gracious to you and show you His plan for you today. He really does love you and want to direct each word, each step, each action of your day so that you can walk completely in His will. Will you listen? Will you stop? Will you wait on Him?