Never visit a new mom…

… without taking food!  That’s my rule.  It works for me both as the giver and the recipient.  I do not know a more thoughtful gift for an exhausted mom who is focused on tiny fingers and toes, uncomfortable  afterpains, umbilical cord care, and swollen, leaky breasts (and bottom – ouch)… and especially for moms who are trying to care for other little people in the house in addition to the new baby.  New moms need food!

In my kitchen, I try to keep frozen meals and treats ready to go for mom/baby homecomings.  Babies don’t always enter the world at the most convenient time, but I want to be prepared to bless the family with food when they do!  For the occasions that I don’t have a meal ready, I do keep handy plenty of staples that make a meal come together quickly.  (There is no running to the store here… it’s 15 miles away.) 

Here are some of the things I’ve either taken to families or been the grateful recipient of:

  • sloppy joes
  • breakfast casserole and muffins
  • brown bag burritos (When I hadn’t yet visited my sister-in-law after she was home with her third boy, she called and jokingly demanded “I had a baby!  Where are my burritos?!”)
  • meatballs and cheesy potato casserole
  • chicken and rice casserole
  • hamburger quiche
  • baked spaghetti
  • cavatini
  • meat loaf
  • fresh fruit (My favorite!  After I have a baby, I’m not up to eating a full meal for a few days.  Healthy, handy snacks are a treat!)

For families with older children, it’s nice to take some kid-friendly “fun food.”  Kids love the having their own stash (and they get excited to see something for them and not the baby!), and moms appreciate the ease of appeasing their brood’s hunger.   

  • juice boxes
  • cookies (I make a big batch of dough and freeze dough balls to bake fresh when I need them.)
  • granola bars
  • pigs in a blanket (scroll down for recipe)

When organizing the food in your kitchen, make room for meals to bless new families.  It works for me!  Visit Rocks in My Dryer to delve into other bloggers’ kitchen organization tips!

Right There in Black and White

I haven’t always been good about taking some quiet, daily devotional time for myself.  And on the rare occasion where I’d be inspired and gung-ho to dive into my Bible and “read every last bit of it” I would always stop short… way short.  Somehow I’d get lost in all the words.  Get confused.  Lose my own attention span.  Be thinking of 1,000 other things I needed to do, or a few other things that were more fun to read.

Since I’ve lowered my standards a bit (I don’t have to read the whole Bible to get something out of it!) and simplified my devotion time (I’m currently using the easy-to-read-and-understand-and-short devotions from Our Daily Bread) and since I’ve purposed to make time for devotions first thing in the morning, I’ve had greater success.  I’ve been rewarded.  Here is this morning’s reward; clear as a bell… right there in black and white.

God gave us eternal life,

and this life is in his Son.

Whoever possesses the Son

possesses life;

whoever does not possess the Son of God

does not possess life.

1 John 5:11, 12

Ahhh, the exciting, refreshing, simple, eternal truth!  What a great way to start the day!

For more Gratituesday, visit Heavenly Homemakers.  There is so much to be thankful for!

And the yeast goes to…

… Nida!  As soon as I get her mailing address, I’ll ship Nida one pound of yeast.  Warm up your oven, Nida!  Congratulations and Happy Baking!

Cleaning With the Kids

I’m a guest poster again this week at Happy to be at Home.  The topic?  Cleaning with the kids.  Those of you who know me in person… quit laughing!!!  Cleaning is definitely not my forte, but the kids and I do have a few strategies to get it done together.  Go check it out!

Ready to fold some clothes!

Menu Plan Monday – My Little Garden

Watching my little garden flourish and produce an abundance of tomatoes, pumpkins, and peppers this week, I’ve felt like I’m raising a fourth child.  The kids have a ball navigating through the plants jungle picking all the produce (lesson learned… don’t plant everything so close together!).  My littlest one tends to gravitate toward the green tomatoes, so I have to watch her carefully! 

I am so very excited about our bell peppers!  Peppers are a favorite around here to complete lots of recipes, but we especially enjoy them in fajitas and breakfast burritos.  I’m thrilled to have so many to slice and chop up for my freezer.  Only my red pepper plants got smothered by the pumpkins, so I have lots of green and yellow left.  Keeping the smug look off of my face at the grocery store this winter when I pass by the peppers priced at $1.00 or more each will be a challenge!

Here’s what we’re eating this week, as we continue to enjoy veggies from the garden.

Sunday, 9/28

  • breakfast casserole, cinnamon rolls, muffins (left over from yesterday’s team breakfast)
  • sandwiches, grapes
  • grilled steak and chicken, potatoes, garden salad

Weeknight Suppers

  • Tex-Mex potatoes
  • spaghetti, green beans or corn, breadsticks (Going to make my own sauce for the first time!  Any advice for me?)
  • BLTs, fried okra
  • stuffed peppers (recipe below), pears
  • Game Night!  leftovers, sandwiches

Saturday, 10/4

  • blueberry pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausage (team breakfast)
  • clean out the fridge
  • black bean nachos, smoothies

Stuffed Peppers

  • 3 green bell peppers
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 tsp. beef bouillon
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 6-oz. can tomato paste
  • 1/2 c. chopped onion
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 c. cooked rice
  • 1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

Cut peppers in half lengthwise; remove seeds and membrane.  Sprinkle with salt.  Put in baking dish.  Dissolve bouillon in tomato paste and water.  Set aside.  Brown beef, onions and garlic.  Add rice, Italian seasoning, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 cup of tomato paste mixture and 1/2 of the cheese.  Fill peppers.  Top with remaining tomato paste liquid and cheese.  Cover and bake 45 minutes at 375 degrees. 

Have a great week!  Go visit OrgJunkie for lots and lots of menu inspiration!

Best Bulk Buy

Although I gave up my membership recently, I’ve enjoyed my fair share of years wandering the aisles of SAM’S club in search of great bulk deals (and yummy sample snacks along the way!)  I still have access to bulk buying — thanks to “friends in high places” — but with grocery store sales and coupons, I could almost give it up.  Almost.

There is one item that I will never, ever purchase except in bulk.  Yeast.

The above two pound package of vacuum-sealed yeast (yes, two pounds) cost $4.16.  For two pounds!

 

This little 4 oz. jar of yeast costs $3.92 at Wal Mart.  It would take eight of these jars to equal two pounds.  That’s $31.36 for the same thing I purchased for $4.16!  Oh, it gets better… (By the way, I use my bread machine all the time and never use “bread machine” yeast.  The regular stuff works fine for me.)

 

 

 

How about these cute expensive little strips of yeast?  A total of 3/4 OUNCES of yeast for $1.12.  Yikes!  To get two pounds I would have to spend $47.04!  I don’t think so!

 

Moral of the math:  If you do any baking at all… buy your yeast in bulk.  Don’t have a bulk store membership?  Find a friend who does!  Can’t use all that yeast before it expires?  (The stuff I bought last week expires in June of 2010.)  Share it with a friend or two!  You’ll all benefit.

Speaking of benefiting… I’m giving away one of my one-pound packages of vacuum-sealed yeast!  Want some?  Leave a comment telling me a little about your yeast baking experience or routine.  What do you bake?  How often do you bake it?  I’ll randomly draw a winner Sunday night September 28.

Good luck and happy baking!

For more Frugal Friday, visit Biblical Womanhood.

One TV, One Channel

We have one TV in our home.  With our highly technical rabbit ears, we receive one semi-clear channel.  That works for us.

  • We have children.  They provide lots of free entertainment.
  • We have children.  We don’t choose to have time for TV.
  • We have children.  We don’t want to be tempted to use the TV as a sitter.
  • We have children.  (Have I mentioned that already?)  I can control what and how much they watch by using videos.
  • We can check out movies at our local library for free if we want a TV fix.
  • Anything we need to watch (weather, breaking news, CSI  😉 ) can be found on our one channel or on the Internet.  We visit friends (and take lots of food!) when we want to see a big game that’s not on “our” channel.
  • We have saved massive amounts of money during our 10 year marriage by not paying for TV.  Even at $30 per month (I know this can vary from $12 to around $100) each month for 10 years… that’s $3,600.  Doesn’t sound like a lot to you?  Put that money in a mutual fund for a few years averaging 12% returns and you might change your tube-watching tune!

Although it would have been nice to veg out in front of the Olympics, or spend Sundays planted in front of endless football games… oh, wait a minute.  I forgot about the children!  Let me try again…

Although it would have been nice to pop in to see the beginning of a few Olympic events, only to miss the photo finish because of a dirty diaper or screaming from the other room or a sibling fight or the desperate cry for a glass of milk… (ahhh, that’s more like it.  That sounds like home!)

We have one TV.  It has one channel.  Works for me!

Beautiful Weather

I absolutely cannot get over the amazing Kansas temperatures this summer!  Usually we’re choking on the heat throughout August and most of September.  (and July… and sometimes June)  This year… not so much.  It’s been wonderful for many reasons.

Our air conditioner went on a (permanent?) hiatus on August 30.  We knew it was on it’s last leg, and we knew we should probably replace it, but… we haven’t even had it looked at yet.  We haven’t even needed it!  In previous years we’ve taken note of the ads that run in the dead of winter for really great sales on air conditioners.  I guess the cooling guys aren’t too busy when it’s -5 degrees outside.  We might get to take advantage of those deals this year!

My black thumb has turned a beautiful shade of green.  I’m actually able to grow things in the garden!  Mostly because the sun hasn’t scorched my plants and we’ve received the right amount of rain when we need it most.  My green peppers and tomatoes are going crazy right now!

My husband’s football team suffered a little less in the heat during practice.  Oh, he’s still made them “suffer,” but it’s a lot easier to run gassers (don’t ask) when it’s 85 degrees and not 101.  AND he didn’t have to rearrange everyone’s schedule (including mine!) to follow a “heat plan” this year.  AND my kids love to attend practice, which is so much easier on the baby and the mommy when it’s not so darn hot.   

We’re able to enjoy more family time outside.  Trips to the park, bike rides, tag in the yard… it’s so much more comfortable for all of us!  We have a great time playing together and this momma gets her exercise

We haven’t had to water our lawn at all.  Not that we would anyway, but it’s still green this year!

You know what they say about Kansas weather… if you don’t like it today, just hang in there until tomorrow.  It’ll change.  While I know change is upon us, I’m taking a moment this Gratituesday to enjoy the beautiful weather!  Definitely one of the Finer Things in Life!  See you outside!

Roast Beef Redos

A friend once commented that she doesn’t like to make roast because “we end up eating it all week and it gets dry and we get sick of it and I have to throw it out.”  Ouch!  I don’t do wasting food, but if I tried to reheat and eat the same roast all week, in the same way, well… I’d get pretty sick of it too. 

A few roast beef tips:

  • We get a variety of roasts with our 1/2 beef order, and I learned a valuable lesson early in my bulk-beef purchasing experience:  don’t buy chuck roast.  It’s the fattiest cut, and it’s tough, and it’s just not very easy to work with.  Any other cut works great for me, but we have our chuck ground into hamburger.  **Update:  this might just be my experience.  Several people have commented that they have good luck with chuck.     
  • My favorite roast beef cooking method is to stick it in the crock pot with some carrots, potatoes, onions, either beef bouillion granules or dry onion soup mix, and some water.  How about that smell in your kitchen all day!  Yum!
  • I prefer to pull my roast apart with forks instead of slicing it.  It’s easier to prepare, easier to eat, and easier to create the “redos” when it’s shredded.

  • If you’re going to eat it again the next day, pour a little of the juice over the meat before refrigerating to keep it moist.
  • Cooked roast freezes beautifully.  Bag it and save it for a busy day!

Our favorite roast beef redos:

Photo from Taste of Home

Photo from Taste of Home

  • Roast Beef Burritos — My all time favorite roast beef meal.  Sometimes I make a roast just so we can have these!  We like to top them with shredded lettuce, cheese, and sour cream.

We’ve also enjoyed these meals with leftover roast:

  • bbq beef sandwiches
  • hot beef sandwiches
  • beef ‘n noodles
  • roast beef salad (like chicken or tuna salad) for sandwiches
  • roast beef salad (shredded on a lettuce salad)
  • beef and bean nachos
  • beef and veggie soup

Does your family enjoy roast beef?  What do you like to do with your leftovers?

Check out more kitchen tips at Tammy’s Recipes.

Get Movin’ With Your Monkeys

 Get Movin With Your Monkeys

 

Head on over to Happy to be at Home to read my Mommy Monday guest post, and to see why this ridiculous picture was intentionally taken…