Friday, December 27, 2013

New Year, New Changes

Shocker, I know. Everyone says the same thing every year.

But I'm not talking about resolutions or any of that. I'm talking about making plans, moving forward.

In one month we will be moving in to the house where I spent most of my childhood. My parents moved out around 7 years ago but kept the house. My aunt has been living there ever since and now has the opportunity to retire and move closer to her oldest daughter and family. The house will be vacant and my dad isn't quite ready to move forward with selling/renting yet so it presents the perfect scenerio for us to move in and save some money. We will be able to pay off my car and set aside some money for a down payment on our "Forever House".

After we moved back to Fort Worth from Snyder we had vague plans to eventually buy a house, or build on some land. We weren't really sure and when we found a great rental around the corner from my parents the "need" for roots didn't seem urgent. That paired with ideas of international residency, or mission work, we never really had a goal to work towards. Until now.

I'm excited to see what the next year holds, excited to create new memories in a house that already holds so many for me, excited to be makin' plans.


Thursday, May 09, 2013

{Pinterest Project} Probiotic Lemonade




A while back I came across an interesting pin for  probiotic lemonade. I’ve been hearing lots about the benefits of probiotics and I have wanted to incorporate them into our diet but Kombucha kind of grosses me out so this seemed like a great alternative. I made a half batch the first time. The kids LOVED it! Since then I’ve made a batch about every week. We even had 2 lemonade play dates so I could show friends how to make it. Everyone likes it. One friend even compared it to Chick-fil-a’s lemonade. Yum! (Original Recipe)

Probiotic Lemonade

  • You will need a gallon size glass jar with tight fitting lid - or some of these adorable bottles that I picked up at IKEA. (I’ve seen similar ones at Hobby Lobby as well.)

  • 12 juicy lemons – The original recipe calls for organic but I don’t think that’s necessary.

  • 1/2 cup – 1 cup organic evaporated cane sugar*

  • 1 cup fresh whey (In the original recipe she explains how to easily drain whey from fresh yogurt, I just order it through my co-op)

  • Cool clean chlorine free water**

First, get your favorite citrus juicer and start juicing the lemons. The amount of juice will vary, depending on the size of your lemons. This batch I only used 8 because they were large and pretty juicy. I usually get about a cup to a cup and a half of juice and this seems to be a good amount. A little more, a little less won’t hurt. I don’t have a hand juicer so I just cut the peel off and toss them in my big juicer. I feel like it extracts more than hand squeezing would but it adds to the clean-up. 


Add your fresh lemon juice to the whey in the gallon jar. Give it a quick stir. When I use my cute bottles I mix all the ingredients in a gallon pitcher then use a funnel to pour it into the individual bottles. This works well, just make sure you stir it really well before dividing it up. 

Now you will need to decide how much sugar you want to use.  You need to use at least a 1/2 cup of sugar up to a full cup.  I used 1 cup in mine. The sweetness level goes down because the probiotics feed on it. For us 1 cup makes it good and sweet without tasting like Kool-Aid or ‘Texas Sweet’ tea. 

I get this at Costco. It's very reasonable in price and I use it for everything. Great alternative to white over-processed sugar.

Next fill the rest of the jar with enough cool filtered water to make a gallon and mix very well to distribute the whey and dissolve the sugar. Now comes the hard part… waiting. Keep the jar on your kitchen counter (room temperature) and wait for 2 days. I sometimes store it away in the pantry for the two days so my children forget it’s “brewing”. Once the 2 days are over you can stick it in your fridge to keep it cold. This should also slow down or cease any further fermentation. 
 
My kids LOVE this. I have to ration it out because they would drink it all in one sitting and that would be bad for tummies.

So why are probiotics good for you? This is what the Mayo clinic has to say about them.

A word about whey: Whey can be stored in your fridge for up to 6 months. When it is good it will smell like yogurt. When it has gone bad it will smell like rotten milk, toss it out then. Also, Funky Farmz will have grass-fed whey on sale this week for $3! That will make 4 gallons of yummy lemonade :)

*You can use sucanat as a sugar substitute but it may give an undesirable color to your lemonade. Honey by nature is anti-bacterial so it is NOT a good substitute.

**Typical filtered water is fine, NOT TAP, we use Sparklettes or Ozarka. It must be chlorine free otherwise the chlorine will kill the good bacteria.

Friday, November 30, 2012

At least it's Friday

5:15 am - I am awakened by the sound of the kids bedroom door slamming.

Ugh. Silas is awake. (He's the only one that slams the door and he only does it when he wakes up during the night. Go figure)

From the hallway he starts yelling "Mommy, where are you?" I'm here... in my bed. Like normal people.

I call out to him several times but he's not listening. I realize that Graham is still in bed beside me. It must be real early. I get out of bed to retrieve the boy.

I set him on my bed and pick up my cell phone.

5:20.

"Uh, Graham... it's almost 5:30." He should have been headed to work already.

I guess that's what happens when you come home from work & nap on the couch all evening and then wake up after the kids are in bed and get on the computer till 11:30.

Graham hopped up and started getting ready to go. Silas fell back asleep on Graham's pillow.

And now I am wide awake.

I lay there for a bit trying desperately to find that oh-so-sweet sleep, but no. It doesn't come.

So I get up and grabbing a mug of hot cocoa I make my way to the living room.

It's 6:15.

Ugh.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

I know it's a little early...


 ...for Christmas cards. But, I've been thinking about it a bit lately. For the first time in about 3 years my family will be having pictures taken (other than the one for the church directory). And just in time for holiday cards. I came across two good deals from VistaPrint and I thought I'd pass them along.


Use this address : www.vistaprint.com/tree
Get 4x8 cards:
30 for $5.00
40 for $9.99
50 for $14.99

or if you don't need too many cards

Use this address: www.vistaprint.com/xmasdeal
Get 4x8 cards:
10 for $1.99
20 for $1.99

These prices do not include shipping. You will also find some good deals on coordinating gift tags as well as customizable ornaments & stockings.

And now, I'm expecting holiday cards from all of you :) 

Photo credit: Vistaprint.com









 

























Thursday, April 26, 2012

{Pinterest Project} Menu Board

So I've developed quite the addiction to Pinterest lately and my boards are quickly filling up with all kinds of ideas and projects I'd like to do. For my birthday a few weeks ago some sweet friends gave me a Michael's gift card and I saw the perfect opportunity to indulge in a little "Mommy time" and do something fun for the house. I had been eyeballing a few uber cute menu boards. 
 
 One is made by a girl who sells kits to make your own for $32 or you can purchase them out of a shop local to her. The other one is from an Etsy shop where they sell for $34 and up. Super cute but a little more than I wanted to spend. So this is what I did:




Purchased:

  • One Metal sign - this was on clearance at Michael's for $4. It was 12x12 but you can use any size. They also have some at Hobby Lobby & Half-Price books. I have no idea where you can get blank ones but I know you can. I figured I was going to cover it anyway so it didn't really matter what it looked like.
  • 6 sheets of scrapbook paper 12x12 - I'll use leftovers on another project in the works
  • a package of bottle caps
  • super duty magnets - got these at Wal-mart
  • 1in. clear round epoxy stickers (they were right next to the bottle caps)
I also purchased a plain white notepad but in the end I didn't have enough room so I had to nix it.

Here's a closer view of the bottle caps, magnets, & epoxy stickers - sorry it's blurry



 I decided to use the adhesives I already had on hand, Mod Podge and some wrinkle-free clear Elmers glue.




Using a foam brush I applied the Mod Podge to the metal sign a little at  a time and carefully added my base scrapbook paper, making sure to line up the edges.


I picked this paper and couldn't have been more thrilled... it's color scheme has given me a vision for the rest of my home's decor. :)

I decorated my sign like a regular scrapbook page. You can go all out with lots of embellishments or keep it simple. I downloaded a fun font from dafont.com and printed out the word "Menu". I cut out around it mimicking the design on my paper. Then using a brown ink pad and cotton ball I shaded the edges to give it a little more character.



 So this is what my board looks like so far:


Next I made the meal option tags. I used the same font to make a list of meals we eat regularly and printed it out on the scrapbook paper. I cut them into uniform sized tags. I included tags for things like eating out and family meals at Grandy's house.

Then I added the pocket to hold the meal tags. I made my own and this was probably the most difficult step. I would suggest wrapping an empty crayon box or using a cute library card holder, even a matchbox. I made a pattern and folded the paper so that it had tabs on the back to glue to the board. I didn't even take pictures of this step... just trust me... wrap something.


Be careful with the placement of your pocket. Make sure there is plenty of room at the top when your tags are in there so that the word "Menu" isn't covered up. This is when I discovered I wouldn't have enough room for the notepad :(.

Finally, I made the magnets for each day of the week. I printed each initial out on some of the scrapbook paper spacing them so I could cut each one out in a 1 inch circle. After I cut each one out I glued it inside of a bottle cap and placed an epoxy sticker on top giving it a finished look.


Then I glued the magnet on the back. I used the wrinkle-free glue for this ad it took overnight to dry. My magnets were fairly strong so I had to make sure and keep them far apart from each other while drying. 

Once they were dry I placed them on the board and added the tags. I used some of the scraps to make blank tags for meal ideas I'll write in later. This sign has hooks on the back for nails and I may tie some ribbon to it and hang on a heavy-duty magnetic hook or I have some strong 3x3 square magnets I can attach to the back to stick it to the fridge.

I'm really pleased with the way it turned out and it only took an afternoon (plus drying time for the magnets). For less than $20 I have a cute addition to my kitchen and a place to direct all those asking "What's for dinner?" :)









Monday, March 26, 2012

Kids Eat Free


We eat out A LOT. Way more than we should and probably more than most families, especially with lots of kids. We are trying to eat at home more and because of the current stages of our littles we find that take-out is a better option...for now. But when we do eat out it's always great to have a deal. Helps make things a little more affordable.

All of these are found in the DFW area.  Unless specifically mentioned by location remember that participation may vary so call your location before visiting, and deals are changing all the time. In most cases a kids meal refers to a child 12 and under unless noted.  If you know of any that should be added to the list let me know…. I always love a free meal :)

Applebees -  Monday or Tuesday Nights (varies by location) -1 free kids meal per adult - additional kids are only $1.00.

Black Eyed Pea - Tuesday - 5 pm till close- 1 free kids meal with the purchase of an adult meal

Blue Mesa Grill - Sunday     9am-3pm - Free kids brunch  (6 and under) with purchase of adult brunch

Boston's The Gourmet Pizza - Tuesday, all day -  Kids eat free with adult entree purchase

Buffalo Wild Wings - Wednesday  - Dine-in only - .99 kids meals with adult meal purchase

Cafe Brazil - West Berry Street - Sunday thru Thursday, 5pm-10pm - 1 free kids meal per adult meal purchase. 

Cici’s Pizza – Kids 3 and under eat free 7 days a week.

Cowtown Diner - Mon- Thurs 5pm-close - 1 free kids meal per adult entree purchase. 5pm-close

Denny's - South Freeway (Hulen) - Tuesday & Saturday 4-10pm - Up to 2 free kids (10 and under) entrees from kids menu per 1 regularly priced adult entree purchase

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit – Sundays - 1 free kids meal w/ purchase of adult meal

Firehouse Subs – Wednesdays & Sundays - Kids 12 and under eat free from 4-9pm - 1 per purchase of medium adult combo

Fuddruckers – (not free but cheap) 12 and under can eat for .99 (drink is included) from 4-9pm on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Garden's Restaurant (in the Ft. Worth Botanic Garden) - Sunday 11am-2:30pm - Free kids (8 & under) buffet with adult brunch

Golden Corral – Kids eat free on Tuesday Nights.

Habanero's Fresh Mex - Basswood Blvd - Sunday, All day  - Free kids meal with adult entrĂ©e purchase  

IHOP – Kids eat free everyday during certain promotions. They usually have some kind of signage in the window.

Luby's Cafeteria  - Wednesday - 1 free kids meal per adult entree purchase. After 4:30pm.

Phil's Philly Grill (Hulen Mall) - Tuesday, all day - Buy any large Philly Combo and get a Kids Meal for free    

Pizza Hut – Kids eat free on Tuesday Evenings

Pizzaria UNOs - kids eat free Tuesdays. 1 free kids meal per purchase of adult meal.

Qdoba Mexican Grill – Kids eat free at Wednesdays (some locations) and Sundays (some locations) .

Simply Fondue - Sundance Square - Sunday, all day - Free kid's fondue with adult fondue purchase

Souper! Salad! – Kids 4 and under at free and kids 5-12 eat for $2.49 on  Sunday.

Steak n’ Shake – Saturday & Sunday, all day - Kids can eat free (12 & under) with a purchase of an adult entree valued at $8 or more.

Sweet Tomatoes-Kids under 2 eat free

Texas Roadhouse – Mondays or Tuesdays (check your location) kids 12 and under eat free.

Texas Land & Cattle – Kids 12 and under eat free on Saturdays from 11am – 4pm. 2 free kid’s meals for each adult entree.

Tres Jose’s - Sunday - 1 free kids meal with the purchase of an adult meal


For deals in other areas check out: http://www.outtoeatwithkids.com . They also have an app for Apple & Android devices which would be great for when you’re traveling or just out and about and need to eat :). One of our favorites from the list is Tres Jose’s but I can‘t wait to add CafĂ© Brazil and Qdoba to the rotation!

We've also found some great deals on Restaurants.com. Sometimes they, or deal sites like Groupon, will run a special where you can get a $25 gift certificate for only $2-$3. Last time I did this I purchased a $25 gc for $2 and at checkout they offered an additional $50 gift certificate for only $5 more. So for $7 I got $75 in gift certificates. Now, most of these are amounts off of a purchase. For example, I got 2 Yucatan Taco Stand gc where we will get $25 off a purchase of $40. We love this place and would eat there anyway and with our large crowd it not hard to spend $40 especially if everyone gets a beverage. So essentially $15 for a $40 meal. Not bad in my book.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Food Journey

A friend recently commented to me that we were on similar 'food journeys'. I like that term because that's exactly what it feels like, a journey. The more I learn the more I want to change what we do. Some times we travel down one path and realize it's not the right path for us. So we travel down another. I always liked the idea that you 'eat to live', not 'live to eat' but I'm such a foodie it's really hard to make that statement true for myself. Until now.

I'm so thankful to be surrounded by Godly women who encourage me and also speak the Truth in love. During our ladies bible study last week one sweet friend did just that. She probably didn't even know she was doing it. Just in the course of our conversation about vaccines she said some things that convicted me about my ambitious food endeavors.

The gist was this: What is the MOST important thing? We can aggressively pursue knowledge on any given subject, (vaccines, nutrition, educational theories) but in the end what is the most important? Pastor Dan reminded us recently that we ARE to be responsible but that doesn't mean we can't take calculated risks, especially for the Gospel's sake.

How does food fit into this? Well, I've been spending a LOT of time trying to figure out what to feed my family. This thing causes cancer, that thing makes you fat, this thing tastes like cardboard. Instead of focusing my energy on trying to find out "What's the VERY best?" I should be focusing on the eternal best for my family. And I'm pretty certain I've been failing miserable in this, especially in the last 6 months.

I've been walking through some trials and my response has been to distract myself with 'projects' like couponing and diets when what I needed to be doing was bathing myself in the Word. Ouch. 

Where do we go from here? While all of the different things I've read tend to disagree about many things there are a few they do agree on and they seem a little common sense. 1.Sugar, in any form, is not good for you, so limit your intake and 2. Veggies ARE good for you, so eat lots of those. And for everything else: Moderation. God created taste buds and food with flavor for us to enjoy, but not idolize.So these should be my standards, not "Is it vegan, or paleo, organic or grass-fed?" or whatever. God has been so gracious in His provisions for my family and instead of thanking Him, I'm too busy trying to nit-pic every bite.

So, What is the MOST important thing? Pursue God, not {food} (insert anything that's not God). And set that example for my children. It's a hard lesson learned, and one I'll probably need to relearn for the rest of my days on Earth.