Wednesday, December 07, 2011

When You Don't Know What Gift to Get

I have several nieces and nephews of all different ages that I don't know exactly what to get for Christmas or birthdays. has such a wide variety of things, that I have found that a gift card for is the perfect gift!  Then they can just go online and select exactly what they want.  It is delivered to their door very quickly and so hassle of waiting until mom or dad can run them to the store.  You should try it!

Shop Amazon's Gift Cards - Perfect Anytime

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Preparing for Thanksgiving

I cannot believe that Thanksgiving is in a few short days!  This year has sped by and is almost coming to a close.  These last few weeks of the year are filled with holidays and much fun!

So today I needed to plan out our meal for Thanksgiving so that I can make sure to pick up all the ingredients over the next few days and prepare the desserts ahead of time.  Here is our menu:

Turkey (Jennie-O 39 cents/lb - I got 5 this year)
Stuffing (I like Mrs. Cubbison's cubed herbed doctored up a little)
Mashed Potatoes (88 cents/10 lbs at Albertsons)
Sweet Potato Corn Pudding (our family favorite tradition)
Green Bean Casserole (already stocked up except for fried onion rings)
Cranberry Sauce (on sale at Frys)
Horseradish (meal not complete without:-)
Pumpkin Pie (baking and pureeing the pumpkins today)
Pumpkin Roll (my son would never forgive me if I didn't make this)
Key Lime Pie (my daughter REALLY wants this)

That is our menu.  We just skip the salad type dishes to focus on the main events.   So what is on your menu for Thanksgiving dinner?  Are you hosting or going to someone else's home?  Feel free to share any family favorite recipes, too!

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Salmon Patties

I have been wanting to make these for a long time, but I finally did make them today.  I had bought some chunks of salmon from the Mexican market a couple months ago.  I made some salmon chowder with them, but nobody liked it.  So I still had several pounds in the freezer and decided to take some out and try these salmon patties.  They turned out SO delicious and were quite easy to make.

I chopped up about 1 lb of salmon into little chunks and mixed with 1 1/2 cups of bread crumbs (Italian seasoned), 2 eggs, 1/2 finely chopped onion, 1 T of Worcestershire Sauce, 1 teaspoon Chalula hot sauce, 1 teaspoon dried parsley, salt and pepper.  I mixed that all up and made into patties which I then coated in more bread crumbs on a little plate.

I fried these in about 1/4 inch of oil in a large skillet - several minutes on each side until golden brown.

They are very yummy!!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Sports Saga Continues

Yesterday, my son had an MRI and then an appointment with his Orthopedic Surgeon.  Although they are still not absolutely certain what his injury entails, they believe it is a bruised nerve in his shoulder.  He has regained almost all of his range of motion, however, there is a lot more pain.  He also has diminished strength in his deltoids and triceps.  Every few days, his shoulder does seem to improve, but there is still a good deal of pain - it just comes about 5 minutes AFTER moving or using it a lot.  After reading some more information, I still believe it is a bruised nerve and that the nerve gets "riled up" when he uses it and then responds by flaring up with pain.

We go back to the ortho in 2 weeks, at which time he is hoping to be cleared to play the last 3 games of the season.  Right now, he is in too much pain to play, but we are hoping two more weeks will see that pain eased.

So, what do we "sports moms" do?  We support our children even through their many injuries, we encourage them as much as possible, provide the nutrition they still need even when sidelined, and be there for them when they need us.  Our role doesn't really change, just the different ways we fulfill it.  We love our kids and want them to fulfill their dreams, whatever they may be!

Would you like an opportunity to help fulfill some of those dreams with a $100 Dick's Sporting Goods gift card?  I thought you might, so go over to my main "Sports Mom" post and leave a comment for your chance to win!

Monday, September 19, 2011

More Ups and Downs of Being a Sports Mom

I though I might update you all on our sports journey these last couple weeks.  My son's MCL injury to his knee healed pretty quickly and he only missed one game.  He played the second half of the next game and all but a few plays of the third game.   However, near the end of that game, he got hit hard on the shoulder.  He experience pain for a few minutes, but it went away and he continued to play.  After the game, he realized that he could not lift his left arm at all.  There was no pain, but he couldn't lift his arm.  It took until Tuesday afternoon to get him in to see the orthopedic surgeon and he was completely perplexed.  The lack of pain made it impossible to diagnose the injury.  So he has ordered an MRI.  Unfortunately, it takes 7-14 days to get insurance approval for an MRI, so we are waiting.

I am happy to say that in the meantime, he has slowly regained used of his arm.  He can now lift it up over his head, still with no pain.  It is not quite normal -he says it takes extra effort to lift it - but we are greatly encouraged with the progress.  He has another appointment with the orthopedic surgeon on Thursday and we are hoping he is released to play for this Friday's game, which is the Homecoming Game.  Perhaps we will be able to forgo the whole MRI.

If you haven't yet entered, go to the original post here and leave a comment for your chance to win $100 Dick's Sporting Goods gift card.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

If you are a sports mom.....

Cody is #56
If you are a sports mom, you understand the ins and outs of injuries.

If you are a sports mom, you are excited and worried every time your child has a game.

If you are a sports mom, you try very hard to make sure to provide your child with the nutrition he/she needs.

If you are a sports mom, you sacrifice your time to help with team activities.

If you are a sports mom, you will understand the frustration I am experiencing because my son is AGAIN dealing with an injury.  Doctors visits today to find out why he cannot lift his left arm.  Praying for something simple, that they can "pop" back into place or something like that.

If you are a sport mom, you need to come over and comment on The Ups and Downs of Being A Sports Mom to get your chance to win $100 gift card to Dick's Sporting Goods!!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Don't Miss Your Chance to Win $100 to Dick's Sporting Goods!

I am giving away a $100 gift card to Dick's Sporting Goods over here.  Come read about The Ups and Downs of Being A Sports Mom and enter to win!!

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Our First Varsity Football Game

Last night, Cody played in his first official Varsity Football game!!  Wow, how much different the varsity games are from the Freshmen and JV!  It is SO much more exciting with the bands and cheerleaders, as well as the huge difference in attendance, even at an away game!  We didn't get the win, but the game was still fun!

This was actually the second game of the season, but the first game Cody was able to play because of his knee injury a few weeks ago.  He didn't play much in the first half, but he played most of the second half and did a good job on both defense and offense.  He even recovered a fumble by the other team for his team!

He came away from the game with a swollen and bruised elbow, as well as an extremely sore knee - so we did lots of icing last night and this morning.  Still sore today, but better.  He had practice this morning to review the film from the game and to do some running.  Now he can rest and relax the rest of today and tomorrow.  However, he still has practice on Monday - even though it is a holiday!!!!  Just doesn't seem fair, but I know the coaches are serious about getting their team to a place where they can win a game.

Such is life for the serious athlete!

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Ups and Downs of Being a Sports Mom and a GIVEAWAY!!

 As those of you with children in sports know, these sports can become all-consuming, especially as they advance into high school sports.  To read more and to enter the giveaway for $100 gift card to Dick's Sporting Goods, click here.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Great Use for Pillsbury Refrigerator Biscuits

As you should know by now, I try to make everything from scratch as much as possible.  There are some things I just can't keep up with to make from scratch.  One of those things is biscuits.  I am not a great baker (except for bread and I never mess with the recipe:-), so things like biscuits take me too much time and hassle to make from scratch.  I have done it several times, but the results just aren't worth the effort.  Perhaps if I had someone who could come and show me how to do it, I might have better success than just reading a recipe.

So I watch for sales on Pillsbury Grands Biscuits and use coupons to get them for $1 or less each.  However, I just found out that you can make donuts, like the ones at the Chinese buffets, with these biscuits.  All you do is heat up about 1 to 1 1/2 inches of oil in a saucepan to 350 degrees and then drop the biscuits whole or cut into 4 pieces (cook more quickly this way) into the oil.  Turn them over when you see them begin to brown and wait a few more moments.  Remove from oil, drain on paper towel and then toss in a  paper bag with some sugar in it.  Oh my, these are SOOOOOO good!

We decided they were WAY too easy to make - might become a problem for our waistlines!!  And there are none left to take pictures of since they were eaten so rapidly.  I like to use the Grands Jr. biscuits for this and just cut them in half. 

Have you come across any novel uses for Pillsbury Grands Biscuits?  I would love to hear your ideas!

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Football Season in Full Swing

This week marks the "official" beginning of football season.  I put that in quotes because they have been practicing almost daily since about the first of April!!!  I have been very impressed with some of the changes the coaches have made this year and am excited for the games to begin!  Yes, I am a FOOTBALL MOM!!!  I get out there and scream with the best of them:-)

This week, as they have begun wearing helmets and then full pads, the temperatures have once again risen to over 110 degrees, even reaching 116!!  It is amazing to me that these boys are so used to the temps that they are able to practice full out for 2 1/2 to 3 hours in this blazing heat!  THAT is good conditioning!  However, hydration is ALWAYS a concern and now more than ever.  And the amount of calories that need to be consumed is very high as well - somewhere around 6,000-7,500 per day.  Ok, that is ALOT of cooking that I need to do:-)

I believe they have their first scrimmage either tomorrow or next Friday and the games begin on August 26th.  Yes, it will still be scorching hot for the first 6 or so games and sitting in the bleachers is a test of our heat endurance, too:-)

Cody is #56 this year and is starting as Defensive End and also playing backup Center on offense.  He is in the best shape of his life and can run like never before in his life.  So this should be an exciting season!   Plus, we get the extra entertainment of Marching Band and Cheerleaders - woohoo!  GO WARRIORS!!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Football Camp Time

Yesterday morning, my son was off to his first varsity football camp!  They are up in Snowflake, AZ where the temps are beautiful (70s-80s) and the elevations is between 6,000-7,000ft.  They are planning to hold 3-4 practices each day!!!  I sure hope they have ALOT of good, nutritional food to feed all those boys!!

Ok, I am having a hard time not worrying about him:-)  But I guess that is a mom's job!  I sent some granola bars and Powerades with him, but I worry that he will not eat enough, drink enough, get hurt, etc.  I just keep on praying for him and putting him in God's hands....again.

If you have a son who is into football or another high intensity sport, you need to be sure that he takes in enough calories to sustain the level of activity.  I read a fantastic article a while back that really helped me to see how high his caloric intake should be and what it should consist of as far as protein, carbs, etc.  Here is a link to Fueling for Football, if you are interested.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Tote Bags from Recycled Pet Food Bags

 I made one of these from a dog food bag a while back, but today I finally got around to using my chicken feed and cat food bags.  They are lined and ready to use!

What do you think?  Do you think these would sell?  Or are they just something I appreciate with my frugality?  I'm curious to know your opinions.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Honeydew Agua Fresca

Some of you may not know what agua fresca is, so I am going to share.  Agua means water and fresca means fresh....but agua frescas are something totally different.  In Mexico, they sell these on the street corners from large glass or plastic containers and they come in a wide variety of flavors including melon, honeydew, strawberry, mango, pineapple, jamaica (hibiscus flower) and more.

Yesterday, my hubby wanted a melon agua fresca so we stopped by Pro's Ranch Market (local Mexican grocery store) where they make and sell them fresh.  He enjoyed it so much that today I thought I would try to make some out of the cantaloupe or honeydew that I had sitting on the counter.

First, I decided just to throw the cut up melon into the blender with a little water.  However, it didn't taste quite right, so I decided to look up some recipes for aguas frescas.  Well, guess what the secret ingredient is?  LOTS of sugar!!!  Oh no!  That makes them not so healthy!  So I just added A LITTLE sugar and it turned out very yummy and refreshing.

So, now you have learned something new about life in Mexico!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Spanish Grammar In Review

This is the book we will be using for Spanish 2 this year.  It looks like a great tool for mastering the rules of Spanish grammar and increasing fluency for the kids.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Homemade Whole Wheat Pasta....Yummmmm!

Now that summer is officially here:-), I am doing some things that have been put off for far too long.  I still have to run my kids to things almost every day, but since we are down to just a little Geometry and History for school (have to finish some things that we got behind on), I have several hours of time that I am not used to having each day.  So one of the things that I really wanted to do for a long time is to make pasta.

Several years ago, I bought an Italian pasta machine (hand crank variety) with spaghetti and fettuccine cutters at a thrift store for about $4.  I have wanted to use it many times, but I have never had a large enough time slot to get it all done (takes 3-4 hours).  So today I pulled out my pasta machine and looked up a good whole wheat pasta recipe and began.  It took me a few tries to get the hang of the pasta machine, but I figured it out and made a huge batch of pasta!!  For lunch, I just boiled some of the noodles and tossed with some spaghetti sauce.  And for dinner, I cooked some more of the pasta and tossed with some Chipotle Chicken Sausage, broccoli, onions and olive oil.  It was very yummy - even my kiddos said it was awesome!

Here is the recipe that I used for the pasta:

3 cups whole wheat flour (freshly ground, of course)
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
8 eggs
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon of olive oil
water (I used about 1/2 cup)

Since I have an awesome Bosch mixer, I just threw all the ingredients (except water) into the mixer and turned it on.  Then I added water about a tablespoon at a time until it came together as a stiff dough.  I wrapped it in a damp towel and just took off about a fist full for each batch of pasta (more than that got too long to handle).

I ran the dough through my pasta machine once on each setting 1 through 6 and then sent it through the cutters.  Then I laid it all over my table to dry, turning it as the top got dry so that the other side would dry, too.  I need one of those clothes drying racks to set on my table to hang the pasta on.  Note to Self:  watch for one at yard sales and thrift stores:-)

I still have enough for about one more portion of pasta and it is thoroughly dried now, so I can just throw it in a ziploc and keep until ready to use.

All in all, I would say it was a great success!  I will definitely do it again sometime soon!  And I want to make gnocchi again soon, too.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

June Already???

Wow, this year is really flying by!  I can hardly believe it is already June.  For the most part, we are done with school for the year.  Just a little Math and History to wrap up through the summer.

Summer football weight camp has already begun and next week begins wrestling weight camp and summer dance intensive for my daughter.  So summer will still be busy, just a little less so without school to do.

It is hot already, but I know it will get much worse:-)  This week is right at 100 degrees for the high - not too bad yet..... 

We don't have any big plans for the summer this year, but we may try to make another trip to PA to help move Joe's mom into his brother's house.  Don't know if that will actually happen or not.

So what do you have planned for this summer?  Anything fun and exciting?  Please share!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Awesome Snake Cake for Biology Co-op Final Class

Last Friday, we met for our final Biology Co-op Class of the school year and I wanted it to be a celebration.  So, Alissa and I made a snake cake!  We made it from 2 bundt cakes cut in half and placed together to give the wiggly snake form. Then I carved the head and tail and we decorated it with orange, green and yellow frosting.  The tongue is a stick of gum and the eyes are Smarties.

I think the students enjoyed the snake cake and we had a Sponge Bob pinata for the Spanish Co-op Class celebration complete with some Mexican candies, as well as some regular pinata filler candies.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

TOS Review: Yesterday's Classics

You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be—
I had a mother who read to me.
                            —Strickland Gillilan

I believe that homeschoolers can never have too many books and there will always be a list of books you wish you had had the time to read with your children.  Just looking through the list of the 225 ebooks from Yesterday's Classics has given me a long list of books that I wish I had known about when my children were young.  

To read more, click here.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

TOS Review: Nutrition 101

If you know me or have read my blog for very long, you know that I am very into healthy eating and living.  Over the past 10 years, I have tried to move my family towards eating whole foods, eliminating refined sugar and cooking from scratch.   I also make all of my own cleaning products and many of my health and beauty products, including soap and shampoo bars.  To read more, click here.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Beauty of Spring in the Desert

 My husband has been working diligently on the yard and getting all the greenery "tamed" (trimmed, watered, etc.)  And this is one of the prettiest times of the year when so many things are blooming, so I thought I would share.

The archway is covered in a vine they call cat's claw and it has beautiful yellow flowers all over it right now.

This is the bloom on a plant that just appeared and has huge leaves (almost like elephant's ear).  We don't know what it is, but it sure is large and interesting!

Here are a few pics of our roses - we have yet to prune them and get them all in shape, but they bloomed nonetheless and are beautiful.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Simple Stockpile - Week of April 13 - 19, 2011

This week there are a couple of good deals to do some stocking up.  

Sprouts has brown rice in bulk for only $0.69/lb!!  That is certainly a "stock-up" price - I think I will buy 20 lbs. (I have buckets to store it in).

Over at Basha's, there are a few good deals.  First, they have round steak on sale for $1.97/lb.  This would be  good price to buy some for the freezer.  There are so many good recipes you can make with round steak.  It is very versatile if you marinate or slow cook it so that it is tender.  On Saturday ONLY, they will also have Ground Chuck on sale for $1.99/lb.  I bought 10 lbs. last week at Albertsons - same price - but think I will buy another 10 lbs. for the freezer this week, too.  On Monday ONLY, Basha's has Food Club pasta for $0.50 per pkg/box, including whole grain.  Also, for those into sports/exercise, they have Powerade on sale for $0.50 each for 32 oz. size when you buy 15 of them.

At Fry's, they have a dozen eggs on sale for $0.99, but you might get an even better deal next week right before Easter.  Also, they have Steamfresh frozen veggies on sale for $1 and there is a coupon in SmartSource 3/20 paper that will make these even cheaper.

Well, that's all that I came up with for my stockpile.  If you come across any other great deals, please share!

Make Your Own Peanut Butter

My tip today is to make your own peanut butter. It will save you money AND be much healthier since you control the sweetener. Here is how I make mine:
2 cups of roasted, salted peanuts (you can use raw, roast them yourself in the oven and use unsalted, add your own salt to taste, if you prefer)
Olive oil (not sure exact measurement - till texture I like)
1 Tablespoon of honey

Put the peanuts in your food processor with the blade attachment. Begin processing and drizzle oil in until the peanuts start to look like peanut butter. I would estimate about 1/4 cup maximum. The more oil, the thinner the peanut butter (however, it does firm up some in the refrigerator, which is where you need to store this). Then add honey and continue processing until you get the consistency that you like. It is not possible to get anything but slightly crunchy (smooth style is not possible:-) doing it this way, but it is VERY yummy and NO SUGAR!!

I would post a photo, but the peanut butter is all gone right now and I have to make some more today!! We all LOVE it!

Monday, April 04, 2011

Simply Homemade: Yogurt in a Crock Pot

I first posted this several years ago and wanted to share the recipe again because this homemade yogurt is SO wonderful!  I have since bought a yogurt maker at a yard sale for $3 and it makes the yogurt in little cups.  Almost the exact same process, just in the small cups and the yogurt maker heats it at a very low heat for exactly the amount of time needed.  But for you who don't have a yogurt maker, here is a really simple and wonderful way to make homemade yogurt!

Well, I finally did it!! I made yogurt in a crockpot. I have been wanting to do this ever since I first read about it on a blog (can't remember whose, so if it was yours, please remind me so I can give you credit!!) It is SO yummy and inexpensive and wholesome! I am very excited at how simple it was and that it worked on the FIRST try:-) and is nice and thick and creamy!

Here is what I did:
I put 2 quarts of milk into my crockpot (you can do 1 quart, but I wanted to make alot) and heated it on low setting for three (3) hours (the directions I read said this time was very important). Then I turned the crockpot off and let it sit for 2 hours (you can leave it set for longer, but it was midnight and I didn't want to stay up any later). Then I put about 1 cup of natural plain yogurt (from the store or from a previous batch) into a jar and added an equal amount of the warm milk. I mixed this very well, then began adding it, a little at a time, to the crockpot milk, stirring well after each addition. When it was all mixed together, I wrapped my crockpot in a big towel and left sit overnight. This morning when I opened it and checked it, it was nice and thick. I chilled it in the fridge for a couple hours and then had it with homemade granola cereal and blackberry jam for breakfast. YUMMMMMMY!!!

Sorry for the bad photo - don't know what happened and I only took one (it was very early this morning:-).

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Simple Stockpile - Week of March 30-April 5, 2011

This week doesn't look like too great of a shopping week.  There are a couple of items for pretty decent prices that you might want to stock up on:

Chicken of the Sea Tuna 2/$0.98
Kroger Canned Vegetables $0.49

Tillamook Cheese 7-8 oz. 3/$5 ($1.67 each)
McCormick Grill Mates Seasoning   $1.50
$1/1 McCormick Product 3/13/2011 RP Insert (exp 4/24/2011)
Final price:  50¢ 
Crest Toothpaste (6.4oz)   $1.50
$0.50/1 Crest Toothpaste or Liquid Gel 3/13/2011 RP Insert (exp 4/30/2011) (worth $1)
$0.75/1 Crest Toothpaste or Liquid Gel 2/27/2011 PG Insert (exp 3/31/2011) (worth $1)
Final price:  50¢

Anthony's Pasta $0.79

So, like I said, not such a great week for stocking up.  Milk is best price at Safeway this week (Dairy Glen $1.79 gallon).

Monday, March 28, 2011

Simply Homemade: Yummy Granola Cereal and Hot Cocoa Mix

These are a couple of staples that I have been making for a little while and now my kids get upset when we run out. So I thought I would share the recipes in case anyone would like to try them, too.

Healthy Homemade Granola Cereal
4 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup slivered almonds (or chopped pecans)
1/2 cup Sucanat (or brown sugar)
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup canola oil
4 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups whole grain flakes
In a large bowl, combine the oats, sunflower seeds, cinnamon, almonds, sucanat and salt. Mix well and then toss in the whole grain flakes. In another bowl, mix the oil, honey, water and vanilla. Pour the liquid mixture over the dry ingredients and mix well. Spread over a jelly-roll pan sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake at 300 degrees for 50-60 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. If you desire, you can add raisins for the last 15 minutes. You can also add banana chips or dried cranberries. The granola will brown as it cooks. Cool and store in an airtight container.

Hot Cocoa Mix
2 3/4 cups powdered milk
1 cup cocoa
1 1/2 cups sugar
dash of salt

Whirl in blender and store in airtight container. Use 3 Tablespoons per cup of hot water.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Simple Stockpile - Week of March 23-29, 2011

In Simple Stockpile, I am going to share with you each week, what items I feel are the best price at the grocery store and that I am going to buy a bunch of to put in my stockpile.  I will share the store, the item, the price and if there are any additional coupons or catalinas that make this an especially good deal. 

For this week of March 23-29, 2011, the best deals I see and will be stocking up on are as follows:

All of these items are in their Mix & Match March to Savings Event - this price when you buy 10 items:
Powerade 32 oz. $0.38  I keep these for my son who is VERY active in sports.  I have already bought about 15 and will probably buy 20 more - this is a GREAT price!!!

Annie's Mac N Cheese $0.49 (found in the Health Food section)  My daughter LOVES mac n cheese and these are healther than Kraft.  I will probably buy 10 of these to have on hand for quick lunches.

Kraft Singles $1.49  My kids love grilled cheese sandwiches and prefer this cheese, even though I would prefer something more natural.  I will probably buy 3-4 - they have a pretty long fridge life.

Eggs $0.88/dozen (limit 2, so I will visit several times:-)  You can stock up on eggs - they last 3-4 weeks minimum and I like to make frozen breakfast burritos and keep hard boiled eggs on hand for snacking, too.

Challenge Butter $2.69/lb  I have printed off several coupons which will be worth $1 each this week, so a final price of $1.69/lb for butter - yeah!!!  At this price, I will buy as many as I can and keep in freezer.

So that is what I am stocking up on this week.   Are these "stock up" prices for you?  Are there any other items this week that you will be stocking up on?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Simply Homemade - Mayonnaise

One of the things that I now make from scratch and would never go back to buying is mayonnaise.  It is very easy and quick to make and the taste is SO much better than anything I have ever bought!  The only downside is that when we run out, I have to make it again:-)  I make so many things from scratch these days that there is always something needing to be made.  But I am happy to do it and love knowing exactly what we are eating!

So here is the recipe I use for making mayonnaise:

1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups oil (you can use olive oil, veg oil, canola oil, whatever you prefer)
1 Tbl. cider vinegar

I put the egg, yolk, mustard and salt together in a container that came with my stick blender.  Then I use my stick blender to blend those and begin slowly adding the oil.  As I keep blending with the stick blender, it begins to emulsify the oil, making mayonnaise.  It only take a couple minutes with the stick blender.  You can also use a regular blender, but it will probably take longer.  Just add the oil a little at a time and keep blending until it begins to emulsify (look like mayonnaise:-).  After it is done, I stir in the cider vinegar and have fresh, ready-to-eat mayonnaise.

With the stick blender, it takes about 5 minutes total. I have heard that with a regular blender it can take as much as 15 minutes or so.

I would love to hear what condiments you make from scratch.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Revamping My Blogging Habits With Regular Features

I have been contemplating what exactly I would like to do with my blog for a few weeks and have decided to do three different weekly features that are a little different than just posting whatever I feel whenever I feel like it (which is what I have been doing).  I am hoping to have them come out on Monday, Wednesday and Friday/Saturday and since I have alot of material to glean from, I should be able to get ahead in my writing.

Once a week, in Simply Homemade, I would like to feature a post on making something from scratch, whether it be something from the kitchen like homemade mayonnaise, or something like making your own facial cleanser or cleaning products.  There are so many things that I make from scratch, I thought this might be a feature that would be of interest.  I will try to have lots of pics showing the steps and the end products and I will also link to some other sites that feature similar products/recipes.

I would also like to feature each Wednesday in Simple Stockpile, a "heads-up" about a particular grocery item that is at a great price that week for stocking up.  Almost every week there is a great deal on something that I like to stock up on.  And I would like to share that with you each week in order to help those who are trying to build up their pantry stockpile.

Lastly, in Homeschooling High School Helps, I would like to write a post each week about homeschooling high school where I may feature a particular curriculum I like or a resource that has helped me.  I have many friends who are currently homeschooling high school or will be soon, so I am hoping to be a help by sharing details about some of the things that have made homeschooling high school easier for us.

So, if you are new here, stay tuned!  It's going to get better!  And if you have been following me for awhile, look for these new weekly features and please let me know what you think!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary, How Does Your Garden Grow?

This is an update on my aquaponics garden, because I have received a number of requests for updates and pics.  I am not sure how many goldfish I have gone through, but there are 6 healthy ones in the tank now.  I lost a number of them early on because it just got too cold at night.  Now, the night temps are fine and they seem to be doing well.

My basil and cilantro seem to be thriving pretty well.  And the lettuces that I planted as seeds have begin to grow like crazy!  I can recognize the romaine and several different varieties in the gourmet mix.  They are about 1 1/2 inches tall now and growing very well.

I haven't had any problems with chlorine or nitrates/nitrites, but our water is SO hard that I have had to lower the pH.  I used a little white vinegar - don't know if that is really approved, but I know that it isn't harmful to people and NOW I know that it isn't harmful to fish:-)    I need to talk to the experts at the hydroponics store to see if they now whether it will harm the plants at all.  So far, seems just fine and it lowered the pH perfectly.  I figure now is the time to experiment:-)

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Viewing the International Space Station

This evening, at 7:20pm, we were able to watch the ISS (International Space Station) pass overhead!  It was very cool to see.  It looked like a very bright star but was moving across the sky in just a matter of a couple of minutes.  You can see it for yourself - just check out this Satellite Tracking site to see exactly when it will fly over at night when you can see it.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Beginning Aquaponics

Last month, I went on a tour of The Garden Pool, which is located near where we used to live.  I had just received a number of plants for my birthday and was hoping to find someone who could help me grow a garden - like a mentor.  I came across the website for The Garden Pool and was intrigued.  There was a public tour the very next day with one space left, so I signed up and went!

The Garden Pool is a large in-the-ground pool that a family has turned into a greenhouse, complete with tilapia pond and chickens!  They grow enough eggs, fish and veggies to sustain their family of four.  They use aquaponics, which is a combination of hydroponics (growing with water) and aquaculture (growing fish).  The beauty of this system is that it waters and feeds itself and there are NO weeds!!  Well, those are two of my greatest challenges with gardening, so hope sprouted in my heart that I COULD successfully grow a garden.

Earlier that day, they had taught a class on a small aquaponics system using a shelf that they call "shelfponics".  I missed the class (didn't know I would be interested:-), but they put the video online the following Monday.  So I watched it and thought this would be a great way to being to learn about aquaponics.  They include step-by-step instructions and a list of items needed, so I went to work rounding up what I would need.  It took less than an hour to get the whole thing ready to go and I bought some goldfish to begin with until I can get some tilapia fingerlings.

I planted cilantro and basil in the top shelf, romaine lettuce in the middle shelf and a gourmet lettuce blend in the bottom shelf.  In about a week, I had LOTS of lettuce sprouts and my herbs are growing well.  I lost some goldfish due to cold nights, but I bought some more (only 28 cents each) and now have 10 healthy larger goldfish in my 10 gallon tank.  They seem to be doing really well and the biofilter of the growing medium (hydroton) seems to be working very well since my pH levels are good after 2 weeks.

I am anxious to get some tomatoes going in another small aquaponics setup this week!  There are lots of websites where you can learn more about aquaponics.   If I can be of any help, let me know, but I am just beginning this journey.  I have BIG ideas for another area of my yard where I am hoping to put in a large tilapia pond and many growing beds to grow all kinds of fresh food for my family.  It makes me SO happy to grow fresh stuff for my family:-)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

 My husband is the sweetest!  He brought me these beautiful roses last night for Valentine's Day!  He doesn't usually bring me flowers (I'm not that big into them), but sometimes a girl just wants something frivolous and pretty!  And he blessed my heart so much by bringing me these!

And he also made sure we had all the heart candies covered!!  He bought special treats for each of the kids and a variety of candy hearts for all of us!
Valentine's Day is all about love and I hope that your day is filled with love from your friends and family, and from you to all of them!  God is love and He loves each of us more than we can ever comprehend.  Here's hoping you have a love-ly Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 07, 2011

VocabAhead Review

Since we are getting very near to those dreaded SAT/ACT testing times, I was pleased to receive VocabAhead's SAT Vocabulary:  Cartoons, Videos & MP3s to review.   Read more here.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Fry's is Taking Competitors Coupons Again!!!

Beginning today, Wednesday, January 26th, Fry's is once again accepting competitor's coupons (like Fresh & Easy $5 off $30 or Safeway's "when you spend $10" ones).  They are also back to making all coupons equal $1, including those that say "Do Not Double or Triple"!!!  The only "rule change" to note is that the $5 off $30 (and others similar to that) will be taken off AFTER all coupons and VIP discounts are taken.

For those of us couponers, this is fantastic news!  I can once again limit most of my shopping to one store again, instead of running from store to store to get the best deals!!  I was very sad when they discontinued this at the end of December, but they were making so much $$, I guess they realized their mistake and are bringing it back again.  There is no word on how long they will do this, but I suspect it will be on and off throughout the year.  Take advantage of it when you can and reap the blessings!!

Also note that they are running a pretty good stock up sale that is $5 off when you buy 10 items.  Check it out and stock up on those items you use regularly.  Make sure to keep track of the number of items as you shop so you don't get messed up.  I like to tally mine on my shopping list as I go.  Then if I am an item or 2 short, I can just grab one or two more of an item to make up the difference.  And if you use your coupons along with this sale, you can get some really great prices!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

True Treasures: A Gabby Moms Review

 I have had the pleasure over the last few weeks of reading  True Treasures:  10 Years of TEACH Magazine.  And trust me when I tell you that I read it from COVER TO COVER!!!

Click HERE to read more!!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Yummy Chicken and Dumplings

I think I have only made chicken and dumplings 2 or 3 times in my life and I have probably followed a different recipe each time (I can't remember.)  However, this time I read a few different recipes and decided to "wing it" myself.  I have cooked for almost 35 years (yes, I started when I was 2:-) and figured I have a good feel for what will taste good.  So here is how I made these delicious Chicken and Dumplings the easy way.

I put about 4 quarts of chicken broth into a big pot and brought it to a boil.  You can use water with the powdered chicken broth, or used homemade or canned/boxed.  Check the seasoning and add whatever you think makes it taste the best (I used Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute).  While waiting for that to come to a boil, I chopped up some onion (about 1/2 of one), carrots (4), celery (2 or 3) and I had some broccoli I wanted to use up, so I chopped it up, too.  When the broth was boiling, I added all these ingredients.  I also chopped up 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts that I had (I got these from Zaycon Foods - 40 lb. for $1.49/lb and they are HUGE!!!) and added them to the broth.  I let that boil/simmer for about 30-40 minutes.

Then I took out a can of Pillsbury Grands Biscuits.  I flattened each biscuit a little and then just cut them up into strips about 1 1/2 inches long and dropped them into the pot a little at a time.  Stir occasionally just to make sure they don't stick together.  After letting that cook for about 15 minutes, I took a little of the broth plus a little milk (total about 1/2 cup) and mixed in about 1 1/2 Tablespoons of flour.  I have one of those Tupperware shakers, so it is really easy to prevent clumps.  Then I poured that into the big pot and watched it thicken a little into a nice gravy for the chicken and dumplings.  And that is it - it was ready to eat!!! 

It got rave reviews from my kiddos and I will DEFINITELY do a repeat on this one!!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Great Deals at American Discount Foods

I briefly stopped at American Discount Foods today in Mesa to see what they had.  I came away with some great deals (and I only went into two of the rooms!)

First, they had some smoked turkey for slicing for lunchmeat for $0.99/lb!!  The whole thing is just under 10 lbs. and will make for alot of turkey sandwiches!

They also had big hunks of mild cheddar on sale for $1.99/lb, so I bought 2 big ones (Alissa has been craving mac n cheese, so that is a great savings!)

They had Shamrock Farms Buttermilk for $1.49 for the half gallon - that is about 1/2 price and I LOVE buttermilk!

They also had Breyer's Ice Cream (many different flavors) for $0.99 (1.75 qt) for the first 1 - so I only bought 2 - Vanilla and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.

They had alot of bread from a natural bakery (can't remember the name, but local) for $.99 and $.49, so I splurged and bought 2 round artisan loaves that are some kind of herb sour dough and very yummy for $0.49 each.

Well, that's all I bought this trip, but they had TONS of other great deals there, too!  If you get a chance, you should probably stop by and check it out, too.  They are located at 308 S Extension Rd, Mesa, AZ 85210-8497, just north of Broadway. Here is a link to a map showing the location.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Homemade Cinnamon Chipotle Rub

I used to be able to buy McCormick's Cinnamon Chipotle Rub at a "dented can" store in Yuma for really cheap.  And I tried it on grilled pork chops to the rave reviews of my kiddos.  But, since moving to Mesa, I haven't been able to find it, let alone at a cheap price.

So I decided to find a recipe that would duplicate this wonderful rub.  Here is my version of the rub recipe:

Cinnamon Chipotle Rub

2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup chili powder
1/4 cup cinnamon
dash cayenne pepper (to taste)
few grinds of fresh black pepper
2 T crushed chipotle pepper seasoning

Mix and store in a jar.  Rub liberally on ham, pork roast, pork chops, chicken, etc. and grill, roast, bake, etc.  Note: on chicken, place run under the skin for best flavor.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Yummy Pumpkin Pasta

I have been reading recipes and contemplating making this dish for a couple months - since the beginning of the "pumpkin" season.  So tonight, I was hungry for some pasta and had some of the fresh pumpkin puree in my fridge.  I decided to give it a try.  My daughter was not so optimistic.

However, it was really easy to make and tastes delicious!  Here is the recipe I began with, however, I tweaked it a little by adding a little more hot sauce to taste and some extra seasonings that I felt it needed as I tasted it along the way:


  • 1 (16 ounce) package penne pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree (or fresh pumpkin puree)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 dash hot pepper sauce
  • 2 pinches ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 (8 ounce) package shredded parmesan cheese


  1. Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling, stir in the pasta, and return to a boil. Cook the pasta uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta has cooked through, but is still firm to the bite, about 12 minutes. Drain well in a colander set in the sink.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the garlic and onion; cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken broth, pumpkin puree, and both creams. Season with hot pepper sauce, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until sauce has thickened, about 4 minutes. Toss 1/2 parmesan cheese into pumpkin sauce and heat through. Serve over pasta sprinkled with remaining parmesan cheese.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

It's a New Year - Welcome 2011!

Wow, I can hardly believe 2010 is gone and a new year has begun!

2010 has been an interesting year for us.  We were able to finally buy our home and move in April, Cody played a full season of JV football with no serious injuries, Joe transferred to a different WalMart and moved in Asset Protection, Alissa began taking Hip Hop/Krump dance classes, Cody turned 16 in September....whew!  Alot happened!  And God was so very faithful to provide everything that we needed throughout the entire year!

I enter 2011 knowing that whatever it holds, God has a plan for us.  He has our best in His heart and will carry us through all the things that await us this year.  He will provide all that we have need of when we need it.  He will bless us above all that we can imagine.  He will guide us and give us wisdom through the challenges we will face.  He will hold our children safe in His loving hands, no matter what comes their way this year.

I am resting in peace today because I know who holds my future and I know He holds my hand!!

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Happy New Year to you and your family!  May you be richly blessed by God's amazing faithfulness this year!