Monday, October 31, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Casserole


I made this casserole for dinner tonight and it was really good! I adapted it from here

Buffalo Chicken Casserole

3 cups bite sized chicken
1/3 cup hot sauce
1 bag shredded hash browns 
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 cup ranch
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 tbsp melted butter
chopped green onions

1.Preheat oven to 350 and grease 9x13 baking dish
2. Mix chicken and hot sauce in bowl and set aside
3. In separate bowl, mix potatoes, soups, cheese, and ranch
4. Pour potato mixture into baking dish
5. Place chicken on top of potatoes
6. Pour melted butter on top 
7. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes
8. Remove foil and bake another 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through

Yum!


Growing Home

No Bake Energy Bites

I adapted this recipe from here. The original recipe had coconut flakes and flax seed which I didn't happen to have so I just omitted them. They're really easy to make and yummy! I'm hoping they get a little firmer after refrigerating for a while because they're almost like a cookie dough right now. Here's the recipe:

No Bake Energy Bites
1 cup oats
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla

1. Mix all ingredients
 2. Refrigerate for 30 minutes
 3. Roll into bite size balls and enjoy! (Store extra in fridge.)

You could add raisins, nuts, etc to mix it up a bit. 




Growing Home


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies


This recipe only has five ingredients and it's delicious!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350
Cream peanut butter and sugar until fluffy
Add egg and vanilla
Beat well
Incorporate chocolate chips
Spoon onto baking sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes

Enjoy!





Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Blog Bash



Hi all! I'm so excited to be participating in the Blog Bash at Women Living Well! If your new here, let me introduce myself: I'm a stay at home wife and soon to be mommy!! I love to cook, sew, read, garden, and shop at thrift stores. I blog about my faith in God, gardening, saving money, cooking, cleaning, natural living, sewing, crafting and everything in between. Here are some posts to get to know me better:



Thanks for stopping by!!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Bless Your Nest: Physical Blessings!


Past Weeks:

This Week:
Physical Blessings!

Welcome to the last post of Bless Your Nest! I've had a lot of fun writing this series and I hope you've enjoyed reading it and have collected some tips on how to bless your family along the way! Thanks to all who've joined me! Let's get started on this weeks topic which is how to be a blessing physically to your family. 

1. Basic Nutrition -  As wives and mothers we're basically in charge of our families diets and when you think about it that's a huge responsibility! We need to make sure that we're preparing meals that are healthy, varied, and full of nutrients! Based on the new USDA Plate half of our food should be fruit and vegetables and the other half should be whole grains and proteins. We should also be including a few servings of dairy throughout the day. Here is the new USDA Plate:


Keeping healthy snacks in the house such as fresh fruit, veggies, nuts, yogurt, etc is such a blessing to your family. If they are filling up with nutrient dense foods instead of empty calories (sugars, refined carbs., etc.) then they will feel so much better! You may not get a thank you for always having carrots for you kids to snack on, but they will realize later in life what a blessing it was to them! Also try to include lean meats, veggies, and whole grains at every meal when meal planning. 

2. A Good Night's Sleep - Getting enough sleep is so important for the health of your family, especially those growing kids! Sleep helps your body to restore itself and gain energy for the coming day. It also improves memory and brain function. Sleep has so many other benefits and I'm no scientist, but I know that if I don't get enough I'm lazy, cranky, and feel terrible the next day! We need to make sure everyone in our household is getting an adequate amount of sleep (including naps) every day. The family that get's enough sleep with be happier and healthier all around! 

3. Model a Healthy Lifestyle - It's one thing to tell your kids to eat their vegetables and go to sleep on time, but are you practicing what you preach? Actions speak louder than words and your more likely to get your kids to accept the behaviors your teaching if your actually doing them yourself. Plus, you need to make sure your taking care of yourself first so you will have more energy later to take care of your families needs. 

4. Go Outdoors - The benefits of nature are numerous.  The air is cleaner, you get more vitamin D, your more apt to be active, your calmer and more at peace. Go here for additional information and benefits of being outdoors. Being active and taking your family outdoors is a great blessing to them!

5. Don't Over Commit  - It's hard to say no sometimes, but the fact is as moms and wives we need to be available to our families first. We need to make sure all of our families needs are met and they're happy and comfortable before we go on to do any extra activities. This includes activities for children. Don't over commit yourself and your kids. Down time is good for the mind, body, and soul and is way more beneficial than always running from place to place.

6. Make Sure They're Comfortable - A good way to be a blessing to your family is by simply making sure they are comfortable. Did they get enough to eat? Do they have appropriate clothing on? Is  it a comfortable temperature in the home? Are they getting enough rest? Do they feel safe? Making sure your families basic needs are met is a huge, but worthy task. 

Well I think that's all for Bless Your Nest! I hope you've enjoyed following along and I'd love any feedback you'd like to give! Now let's all go and be a blessing to our families!


Growing Home

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Shopping for Baby


I feel like I've been waiting so long to be able to shop for this baby that I was just stomping at the bit to be able to go when we found out it was a boy! I spent the last two days scouring thrift stores and consignment shops to find the best (and cutest!) deals. I got everything pictured above for around $37 total. Can you tell that I like stripes and dark colors? :)

Here's what I got:

1 bathtub (for only $1.75!)
3 newborn hats
8 onesies
1 pair knit pants
5 sleepers
8 romper/playsuits
1 onesie and knit pants outfit

Also I wanted to thank all of the moms who gave me advice on what sizes to buy. I ended up with a mixture of newborn through 12 months. I think I'll focus on 0-3 or 3-6 months though because I just can't convince myself that I'm going to have a small baby! I had so much fun getting to shop for my little boy, but now I'm beat!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Guess What?!?

It's a BOY!!!!


We went to the doctor on Wednesday and found out we're having a boy!! We're so thrilled!! Also we went to our first Bradley Childbirth Class yesterday and I'm so glad we signed up! I know it's going to be so helpful in preparing us for a natural birth.  If you aren't familiar with the Bradley Method it focuses on husband coached and supported labor with an emphasis on relaxation techniques to help manage pain. They also give you exercises to do that will help prepare your body for birth. If your interested in learning more you can go here

Also I have a quick question for experienced moms. I'm due in early March and confused on what kinds of clothes I should buy. March and April weather are completely unpredictable around here. It could be anywhere from 0-80 degrees. Should I just buy a combination of winter and spring clothing? Also I know there's probably no way to know, but how many newborn vs. 0-3 months outfits should I have? I was over 9lbs at birth so there's no way I could've fit into NB clothes. I'm probably going to be buying most of the clothes second hand so I won't be able to return them. Any input or advice would be helpful! Thanks!!


Growing Home

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Crock Pot Apple Butter

I made homemade apple butter in the crock pot yesterday and it turned out wonderful! I had an abundance of apples in my fridge (and I still have LOTS) because I've been buying them from a local farm every time a new variety is available. In this recipe I used Gala, Jonathan, and Red Delicious. This is a really long process and I would recommend starting it the night before. Here's the recipe:

Crock Pot Apple Butter

Apples (Enough to fill your crock pot.)
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 C. white sugar
3/4 C. brown sugar
1 1/2 T pure vanilla

1. Peel, core, and slice apples.
2. Put apples and vanilla in crock pot and set on low for 8 (or so) hours.
 3. After 8 hours, mash apples and add cinnamon and sugar.
 It should look like this:
 4. Continue cooking on low for 6 (or so) hours.
5. If you like your apple butter a little lumpy then your done, but I put ours in the blender to make it smooth. It made four pints.

 I had it on my bagel this morning and it tasted wonderful!! I might even have to make some more because I gave most of it away. 

What do you think? Have you ever used your crock pot to make fruit butter?




Growing Home

Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways
Thrifty Thursday
From the Farm Blog Hop
Women Living Well Wednesdays

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Trees


Trees are the kindest thing I know,
they do no harm, they simply grow.
And spread a shade for sleepy cows,
and gather birds among their boughs.
They give us fruit in leaves above,
and wood to make our houses of,
and leaves to burn on Halloween,
and in the spring new buds of green.
They are the first when day's begun
to touch the beams of morning sun,
they are the last to hold the light
when evening changes into night. 
And when a moon floats on the sky
they hum a drowsy lullaby
of sleepy children long ago..
Trees are the kindest things I know.
-Harry Behn


Monday, October 17, 2011

2011 Garden Review

My first year of gardening was a success! Now that the season is done I thought I'd take a moment to look back and reflect. We had a pretty good experience overall, although we ended spending way more than we produced! We're set up for next year though and we shouldn't need to spend very much.
I learned that starting seeds indoors isn't really that hard after all! All you have to do is give them some light and moisture and they should grow for you!

Our tomatoes grew like crazy even though we had a few bouts with worms and aphids. Next year I think we will lay some mulch and plant them a little farther apart. 

 I wasn't impressed with the flavor of our carrots (they were Little Fingers). I may try a larger, sweeter variety next season.
Our tomatoes produced in abundance. Unfortunately, my morning sickness and aversion to them made me give them all away pretty quick! I'll probably plant some different varieties next year because none of ours seemed to grow that big. It could have been the weather conditions though. I heard is wasn't a very good year for them because of all the rain and cold in the early spring.
We dug up our sweet potatoes last week and they did really well! Now I just have to figure out what to do with them all.

Overall I learned a lot and I'm excited to put my knowledge and experience to good use next season!

How did your garden do? What will you be doing differently next year?



Growing Home

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Bless Your Nest: Organizational Blessings

Past Weeks:

This Week:
Organizational Blessings!!

Hey! Welcome to week three of Bless Your Nest! This week we're going to talk about how being neat and organized is a blessing to your family! A neat and organized home (in my opinion) helps others feel safe, confident, calm, and loved. Here are some tips on how I (try to) keep an organized and efficient home:

1. Implement Daily Chores - This is something that I've really only recently started doing. I've made a small list of the things that I wold like to get done every morning and I do them! This has helped me to stay on task, feel motivated, and keep the house running smoothly! My daily chores are: Do Dishes, Wipe Bathroom Counters, and Make Bed. If you don't do this already I would highly recommend coming up with a small list of tasks that you wish to complete on a daily basis. After awhile they will become no brainers and you will feel really off when they don't get completed!

2. Implement a Cleaning Schedule - Everyone works differently and has a different set of standards when if comes to cleaning. I recommend finding a cleaning system that works for you and sticking with it! My weekly cleaning schedule is as follows:

M: Laundry/Budget
T: Vacuum
W: Clean Bathroom
T: Clean Kitchen
F: Bathe Daisy, Dust, De-Clutter

It's simple, easy to remember, and covers all the bases (for me at least). I would rather spend a small amount of time cleaning each day than have to do one or two longer deep cleaning sessions each week, but we're all different and weekly deep cleaning might appeal more to you. The point is to find a system that works for you and stick with it! (I've recently added a monthly and seasonal cleaning schedule, but I haven't started using them yet!)

3. Get Rid of Clutter - In my opinion, there's only so much clutter a person can stand and there comes a point when it just has to go! This comes easier to some than others, but it can be so freeing to get rid of all the stuff that just lies around! I suggest setting aside some time each week or month to de-clutter your home because it can pile up so quickly! I really don't like clutter so this comes pretty easy to me. I go through my entire house 1-3 times per year to either throw away, donate, or sell. If you don't know where to start pick an area in your home (closet, bathroom, kitchen, a small drawer, etc.) and go through each piece asking yourself  "Do I need this and/or even like this?" I've found life to be so much more enjoyable when surrounded by a few things that I love instead of a roomful of things that I kinda maybe like. Clutter can bog you down and hold you back so I recommend getting rid of as much as you can!

Another good tip (that I need to do) is to identify hot spots for clutter in your home and put a plan in place to keep them clear. A hot spot is an area most prone to clutter, you know that place in the kitchen that always has a stack of papers on it? Or that corner in the living room that seems to pile up with the kids toys on a daily basis? The best way to deal with these hot spots is to think about how you can keep them clear and organized whether that means buying a pretty basket with a lid to keep toys in or a few decorative filing folders to keep your "to be dealt with" papers. Either way its good to identify where your hot spots are and put regular effort into keeping them clear.

4. Organize Important Information - In an effort to stay organized and keep a smooth running home I have my home planner binder. This is basically a place for me to keep all of my important information about our home in one place. Each family has it's own set of needs and each family's binders (or whatever you choose to use) should be put together in regards to those needs. The sections in our family's binder are as follows:

Important Contacts (includes emergency, family, services providers, medical, etc.)
Schedules (includes daily, cleaning, and weekly to do list)
Monthly Budget (In addition to our written budget, I slip bills and stamps into this section so everything is in one place when I sit down to pay my bills)
Monthly Menu Plan (I fill these in bi weekly)
Master Grocery List
Mailing Addresses


*I keep our calendar with birthdays, events, and appointments on the refrigerator so we can see it and edit it at all times. I feel putting it in the binder would be a hindrance to us.

My binder is very user friendly and works great for me! If you don't have a home binder I would highly recommend starting one! They're a great tool for the organized home! For a more detailed look at my home planner you can go here.

5. Budget and Menu Plan - I highly recommend using budgets and menu plans in your home. These are simply written plans that are put into place for your money and for your grocery needs. Go here for a more detailed look at how I menu plan.

6. Implement a Daily Schedule - The best way to keep organized and on task is to have a plan. All the time that we have in a day is a blessing from God therefore we should be using it for His glory! Having a daily schedule helps you to set goals and stay on task. It also makes the day run much smoother with little ones so they know what to expect. Your schedule doesn't need to be complicated, it can simply be when you want to get up each morning, when you want to eat, and when you want to do your chores. Having a plan in place helps you to be more efficient with your time.

"Look carefully then how you walk, 
not as unwise but as wise, 
making the best use of the time, 
because the days are evil."
 -Ephesians 5:15-16

Well I hope you've come to see how putting some effort into staying organized can be a huge blessing to your family! Staying on top of things for those that you love is a good way to be a blessing to them! Join us next week for our last installment of this series entitled Physical Blessings





Growing Home



Thursday, October 13, 2011

Harps Shopping Trip 10/13


Harp's is having a really good sale this week. A lot of their items are 10/$10 so I stocked up on some baking essentials for the holiday season. Plus they double coupons up to $1 so yay! I had to guesstimate on the regular prices because I didn't look, but I based my figures on Aldi and Wal-Mart's regular prices. I got $34 worth of groceries for $17.64 which is a savings of 52%! Here's what I got:

1 - 4lb Sugar - on sale $2.50
used .50 MQ coupon which doubled = $1.50
3 - Eggo Breakfast Items - on sale $1.98
used .50 off MQ which doubled = $1.65 ea.
6 - Cans Cream Mushroom Soup - on sale. .80
used 2 - .40 off MQs which doubled = .53 ea.
1 - Crest Toothpaste - on sale $1
used .50 off MQ coupon which doubled = FREE
3 - Cans Pumpkin - on sale $1 ea.
2 - 5lb flour - on sale $1 ea.
2 - 2lb brown sugar - on sale $1 ea.
1 - 2 lb powdered sugar - on sale $1 ea.

Have you found any good deals this week?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Preparing Our Hearts for Christmas


What will you do differently this year?

Here are some awesome ministries to consider:


Growing Home

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Bless Your Nest: Financial Blessings

Past Weeks:

This Week:
Financial Blessings!!

Hi all! I'm so glad to be back with part two of this series! Today we will be talking about how we as wives and mothers can be a financial blessing to our families. Let's get started!

1. Tithe and Give Regularly - The most important thing to remember about money is that it isn't ours in the first place! Everything we've been given including our money is a gift from God and we are to be wise stewards of each and every one of those gifts. God tells us to give at least ten percent back to Him and so I suggest praying about this and discussing it with your husband if you aren't tithing on a regular basis already.

"One who is faithful in very little is also faithful in much,
and one who is dishonest in very little is also dishonest in much."
-Luke 16:10

"Give and it will be given to you.
Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, 
running over, with be put into your lap. 
For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you."
-Luke 6:38

"Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the
 least of these my brothers, you did it to me."
-Matthew 25:40

2. Generate Extra Income - One of the most obvious ways a wife can be a financial blessing to her family is to figure out ways to bring in extra income. The Proverbs 31 one woman did this by making and selling linen garments and sashes to the merchants (Proverbs 31:24). Bringing in extra income will look different for each woman because we are all gifted with different talents and abilities, for instance I clean my mom's office once a week with my husband and I keep a 20 month old during the week for extra money. There are many things we can be doing to try and raise our families monthly income. Here are some ideas to get you started:

-Write an e-book and sell it
-Sell advertising space on your blog
-Create handmade items and sell on Etsy
-Buy nice products at the thrift store and resell on Ebay
-Open a flea market booth (requires upkeep and a monthly fee)
-Become a secret shopper
-Write articles for Associated Content 
-Babysit
-Clean an office or house in your area
-Sell clothes to resale shops
-Have a garage sale

I am definitely no expert and this is by no means an exhaustive list, but I would encourage you to try and think of one thing you can do this month that will earn your family some extra income!

3. Live Resourcefully - In other words, learn how to be thrifty or frugal as a way of life. I believe that woman have a huge opportunity to be a blessing to their families by being wise with their money and resources. Being resourceful may come more naturally to some than others, but it really is a mindset you have to get into in order to be successful. Here are some practical tips to get you started:

-buy used when possible (clothing, furniture, household items, etc)
-make do with what you have or simply go without
-keep unused appliances unplugged
-keep lights off whenever possible
-consider burning wood heat or turning down the heat in the winter
-consider using fans and opening windows or turning up the air conditioner in the summer
-wash and reuse ziplock bags
-consider canceling "extras" such as cable, magazine subscriptions, etc.
-check out books and movies from the library
-eat at home as much as possible
-pack you or your husbands lunches
-make meals with potatoes, beans, rice, pasta, or eggs instead of meat
-menu plan, use coupons, shop at discount stores, and keep it simple to save $ on groceries
-grow a garden (beware this can end up costing a lot of money if your not careful!)
-stay home to save on gas or consider walking or riding your bike

This list just scratches the surface on ways that you can live resourcefully. I would encourage you to really think about what you can start doing now to save more money in order to be a blessing to your family today! Watch this video for a healthy and inexpensive recipe from the great depression era:


4. Stick to Your Budget - Budgeting is a great way to plan out where you want your money to go each month. If you aren't already doing it then you should start ASAP! If you don't know where to begin I suggest reading Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover as a starting point. If your already on a budget you probably know the hardest part about it is simply sticking to your plan! Here are a few tips for sticking to your budget:

-use cash and when it's gone it's gone
-don't go into stores or you will be tempted to spend
-write out a few short term goals to keep you motivated or on track such as paying off debt or going on vacation
-practice a few "no spend days" per week where you aren't allowed to spend any money
-have a little "fun" or "blow" money each month that your allowed to spend on whatever you want
-learn to be content and thankful for what God has blessed you with (easier said than done)

5. Pray for Your Husband's Work -  Did you know that you can be highly influential in the life of your finances and your husband's work simply by committing them to prayer? It would be wise as wives to be in prayer daily for our husband's work. Some good things to be praying for would be wisdom, strength, fulfillment, success, opportunity, blessing, favor, development of skills, etc. Of course just because we pray for these things doesn't mean we will all be rich and never have a need again, but God hears the prayer of the righteous (Pro. 15:29) and we should trust Him to work everything out according to His will. To learn more on this subject I suggest reading The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian

I hope you've been refreshed and/or encouraged on ways to be a financial blessing to your family! I'd love to hear any additional tips or advice that you may have on the subject! 

Join me next week for Organizational Blessings!






Growing Home
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