Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Yay! My doctor is happy.

Went for my annual check up today with my endocrinologist.  I have Hypothyroidism for those interested.  Anyway, I haven't seen her for a year.  This year she wanted to do a complete panel.  You know cholesterol, glucose, etc.  Not only am I down about 20 lbs from last year, but all of my tests came back well in the normal range.  Her comment was "everything is perfect".  Now as for the weight loss, I will be totally honest and say that any dieting I have done went on hold in April.  With gardening and canning I haven't had a lot of free time to go to the Y, but I have gotten my exercise in the form of garden work.  Not daily, but I am moving daily.  As for any "diet", I am doing my best to eat real foods.  No more sugar free, fat free stuff.  No more highly processed foods.  Now exceptions to that due to finances, are sugar, and white flour; BUT  now that I have my grain mill that will change.  I use raw honey in my whole wheat bread and my granola, but am seriously thinking of finding more uses for it.  Honey, raw honey, not only tastes good, but has antibacterial properties, helps with allergies (if you buy local raw honey), and has many minerals and nutrients not found in sugar or even pasteurized honey. Anywhere I can use this to replace sugar will be an asset and quite honestly, with the price of sugar being what it is, I don't think the price difference will be that great.
As for the flour, I have many pounds of flour to use up before I will be totally switched to fresh ground flour. In the meantime I am still going to buy the wheat berries and begin grinding them to mix half and half with the existing flour I have on hand.  As my flour supply runs low it will be replaced with the wheat berries.  Wheat berries store forever(so to speak) as long as they haven't been ground.  Once ground, wheat flour loses a lot of the minerals and nutrients within days.  Within 72 hours most of it is gone. So that is my plan for flour.
Isn't it amazing how a report of progress can be such an incentive to proceed, especially when you feel like you are actually on the right track health wise.  Things I currently buy for example are butter (gasp!), olive oil, sugar/honey, red meat(shock!), whole milk( I do thin it with water. Shhhh, don't tell the boys they don't know).  Things I currently make and serve are breads, pizza, cookies, etc.  Some of these things fly in the face of current trends of low or fat free and sugar free or no carb.   Now if you have a gluten allergy or celiac disease, this would not be good for you, but as a general rule, barring that, there is no reason to not have a food created by God. Now that being said....remember...everything in moderation.  I am not eating bowls of cookies, butter, breads etc.  I am only trying to eat when hungry and drink when thirsty.  I am not an expert in this nor do I wish to be one.  I am only speaking from what I have learned, what I believe, and what I feel is best for myself and my family.  To each his own.  Everyone has to do the best they can for themselves and their family.  These are the things I am going to try.  We'll see where that goes.  As for organic...not sure I am sold on that one and couldn't afford it if I was.  For now the best I can do is to take as much processing out of our lives and see how we do.  Okay, there is my opinion for the day.  Hope everyone has a great day.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ham and Corn stew

Ham and Corn Stew

2 cans navy beans(or you can cook dried to make 3 cups)
3 cups water
2 decent sized potatoes, diced
2 cups whole kernel corn (or cream is fine)
2 stalks celery
8 oz ham
1 med onion chopped
1 tbs butter
1 regular sized tomato chopped
1 pinch dried parsley
 salt and pepper to taste

In a skillet, melt the butter and put your onion and ham in to cook.  While that is cooking, put your beans, water, and potatoes.  Bring to a boil, then let simmer for about 15 minutes.  Then add your celery, the onion and ham, and the tomato.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Add pinch of parsley.  Let cook 30 minutes. Taste again to make sure you have enough salt and pepper.  Add more if needed.

We are having this tonight with some corn bread made from stone ground corn meal ground in my new(to me) grinder!  Tea to drink.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Well Student loan down....

2 credit cards, a car payment and a mortgage left.  I have to say it's hard "naming each dollar".  We had a family meeting on payday and said "Okay, if you need anything now is the time to say so or it will have to wait until next payday".  So we made our list, which wasn't long, and named every dollar.  Now, with still 10 days to go until pay day we are noticing we have forgotten things.  We forgot to budget oil for an oil change for our van, my son and I need cheapo headphones for the Y,  as well as other various things.  All of these are little expenses, but they add up.   Sooo need to remember those for next meeting.  Can't get them now.  Grocery day is next week as well, and so it is getting to the "creative stage" of cooking.  You know when you are saying to yourself " I need to use up this, and this, and this...".  The benefits of that process are being able to defrost the freezer and clean out the fridge for grocery day.  Sure does make putting groceries away easier.  Used up 1 cup of applesauce in the fridge for a loaf of applesauce bread using my quick bread mix.  Makes for an easy use up.  You can see the recipe for the quick bread mix here.  Made two loaves of bread, and a batch of chocolate cookies.  Yea, I come by my figure honestly.  NO SILICONE HERE BABY!  lol.  Seriously, though, the cookies are dolled out sparingly.  I'm  not crazy!
Tonight's dinner will be ham and scalloped potatoes( from the garden), broccoli(from the garden), and maybe some peaches or pears.  I love cooking when it is rainy outside.  Snowy is my favorite.  Something so cozy about baking in the kitchen and watching the snow fall.  Making cocoa to drink when the kids come in from playing outside.(sigh).  The kids are older now so not so sure if I will be dealing much with wet clothes and such this winter.  Maybe I will.  I know I will be dealing with cocoa.  That goes without saying.  Okay, so signing off here.  You guys have a great day.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Things I have learned from this years garden

Yes, it is that time of year where I make me observations of this years garden to hopefully do a better garden next year.  Things I have learned this year are:
1) I am going to definitely plant potatoes.  I bought seed potatoes at our local Ace Hardware store for 9.99.  I was a little disappointed in this years yield.  As an experiment I took a few of the tiny, tiny potatoes that didn't have a chance to grow before the plant died(from whatever got it), and planted them again to see what would happen.  I would say it was about a 10 ft length of row.  Well they came up, and the plants are currently about 2 ft tall; and that is over the dirt I am piling on them.  In addition to those plants, I have about another 20 feet of row that came up on their own from potatoes I must have missed.  All oft these plants are lush green and healthy.  Because it is cooler right now, (knock on wood) I am thinking they are happier and less susceptible to pests.  I am hopeful I am able to add considerably to my original yield.
2) Not planting Jalapeno peppers next year.  I had more than I needed.  I will use up what I have and when I do plant them, it will be a lot fewer plants.
3)  I need tomato plants that are resistant to wilt.  Period.  I have tried everything I can think of to keep my plants happy.  I lose a lot of yield because my plants get this wilt and die back.  Now the plants are coming back and making more tomatoes, but I will only get a handful compared to what I would get.  Next year I get resistant ones.
4) I will use seeds, I think, exclusively.  We have such a long growing season, I am thinking I am going to just plant seeds.  I may start some indoors, but many I will just plant directly in the ground.  I am thinking my plants will be stronger as a result.  So it may be later for me to start canning.  I can live with that.  Who knows, maybe I can have a few weeks of marathon canning and then be done.  I can live with that too.
5)  I will stay ahead of the pests on my peach trees.  I am tired of tossing at least  a bushel of peaches each year because of uninvited guests.
6) Uh... yea... plants your perennial herbs on a container.  Apparently they spread.  WELL I KNOW THAT NOW!
So that is my education for this year.  Here is that list of what my garden produced this year:
Blueberries-31 lbs
Black berries- enough for about 8 pints of jelly
Peaches- just enough for 4 pints of jam
potatoes-60 lbs and counting
Lima/Pinto beans- ended up with about 50-60 pints.  We have used some pints already so this one is hard to judge accurately.  I just know I shelled a lot of beans.  Well that and I counted what I have and rounded up a little.
tomatoes- about 172 lbs which made 39 quarts of sauce and 24 pints of salsa.  Still producing.
Broccoli- 16 lbs
spinach/lettuce- enough, but hard to weigh.
Corn- enough for 3 quarts canned, 8 quarts frozen, and some used immediately for dinner
Peanuts- don't know yet, but it is looking good so far.
Onions- 6 lbs-  not worth the time and space.  I will by these from the store next time.  Might do green onions.
Jalapenos-  well I used 3 lbs, but got so much more than that.  I just gave away about 10 lbs and have given away more than that before.  They are still producing so if anyone wants more, I can help with that.  Anyway, I got my salsa and my red hot sauce(about 3 pints)
Bell peppers-  4 quarts so far chopped and frozen, and they are still producing.  In fact they are producing more than they did all summer
Mint and other herbs- enough to fill some a pint jar with each dried herb: mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, and thyme
Watermelons-4 so far picked and eaten.  Still counting about 6 that will be ready before the first frost.
Green beans- just enough for a dinner or two.  The bean Beatles got em.
Sweet peas- 1 quart shelled and frozen.
I think that is it for now.  Not a too shabby output.  Need to get beans next year though.  We have enough to make it through the year without buying any.  I did try to weight them, but as it got busier I kept forgetting.  But I ended up with 104 pints food, 123 lbs of other food, 4 watermelons, and 55 quarts put up.  That doesn't count the peanuts, watermelons, tomatoes, more herbs,and potatoes still to come in.  Other things canned this season are carrots, chicken, beef, chicken broth, "applesauce" and "apple pie" filling.  I meet goals on everything except green beans.  I am happy and thankful for that.  I am thankful for whatever I get.
You guys have a great day!

Monday, September 10, 2012

For those of you I haven't announced it to...

I HAVE A GRAIN MILL!   WOOOUP, WOOUP!  Interesting story to tell,  My sister tells it better than I.  After cleaning my sisters house Friday, I went by a thrift store near(really near)her house.  I have mentioned said store in the past.  It is The Ric Rac.  My sister and I go there often.  Anyhoo.  I was going to find a larger TV for my hubby's "man cave".  My son and I get there and I am showing him around the store.  We go into the kitchen section and I tell him "I always have to come in here to see if  they have a grain mill for sale, but they never do.  Ah well".  So we leave that section and go down  stairs to the furniture and electronics.  We find a suitable TV($25), a 27 in.  I turn to go up stairs to pay for it and, don't ask me why I noticed it, but I notice a box.  ACROSS THE ROOM.   I walk closer and notice it has a picture o fwheat stalks on it....closer and I see a knob on the front with the settings of coarse or fine.  OMG IT IS A GRAIN MILL!  Breathlessly I look at the price $75!  The great thing about this mill being a used mill, was there was flour in it from before.  I was able to tell how fine it would grind the flour.  It goes without saying I BOUGHT IT!   Now my sister tells me that God wanted to bless me with this grain mill.  He said "Okay, we need to hide this mill in the furniture section so no one finds it.  And also you need to mark it $75 cause that is all she will have".  That part is true.  It just so happens that I get paid $75 to clean my sisters house and I had just gotten paid.  She says I probably noticed it because I had an angel standing behind me going "look that way".  Anyone who has read Frank Perretti's "Piercing the Darkness" will get this..I have to say I like my sisters version.  It is nice to know God does desire to give us good things.  I think sometimes people make the mistake of thinking the good things God is supposed to give us are things like a check mysteriously coming in the mail that pays off all of your debt, uh  the ability to never ever get sick(heard that one), A BRAND NEW CAR!  You know like God is the Price is Right.  Now I am not saying He doesn't do those things, but most times those blessings come in the form of say a helping hand to put on a new roof, a loaf of bread made by hand, pears from a friend, someone to hold your hand when you need strength, someone to pray for you, hug you, love you.  God can and does bless us in so many ways.  Ways we even now don't deserve.  He doesn't do it because we deserve it.  He does it because like any good father he love us and wants to give us good things.

"If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your father in heaven give good gifts to those that ask him "Matt 7:11. 

But you know the best gift God can ever, and has ever given us is His Son, Jesus.

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners Christ died for us".  Romans 5:8

While I love my grain mill as well as every blessing I have received, they can all pass away.  I am content with the greatest gift I have ever received.   Christ loving sacrifice so that I might be able to have a relationship with Him. Awesome.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Oh well, moving right along

Plans for today were to include yard work and cutting grass(for the boys).  God has other ideas in that it is raining and has been raining since last night.  I do appreciate the rain though.  So we will go with plan "B" and spend time in the kitchen.  I need(knead) to make bread.  I could probably add some other things to that list, but we will see.  I am planning on going this after noon to a friends house to pick pears to can.  That will mean another trip to the kitchen for canning the rest of my lima beans(this should be it) and then the pears.  Once the garden is wrapped up, it will be back to trying to sew some of the doll clothes I have cutout, but that is another post.  I did makesome granola for breakfast.  YUMMY!  Man that stuff is good.  I love granola anyway. 
Went to see the movie"Lawless" last night.  Good movie based on a true story about bootleggers in the 1920's.  Now I did watch the movie,but tell me I am not crazy in that instead of really watching the characters, I am looking behind them at the scenery, cabins, rooms in the cabins, kitchens, etc from the time period.  It was cool.  I did the same thing watching "Hatfields and McCoys" on the History channel.  I can't help it.  I love that kind of stuff.  Good movie though.  Want the granola recipe?  Okay, you twisted my arm...  I got this from the tightwad gazette in full disclosure.


5 cups of oats(I use 4 cups oats, 1/4 cup groundflax seed, 1/4 cup wheat germ, and 1/2 cup walnuts)
1/2 cup dry milk
1ts ground cinnamon
dash salt
3/4 cup brownsugar
1/3 cup oil( I use extravirgin olive oil)
1/3 cup honey(I use raw honey)

Pre heat oven to 375 degrees.  In a sauce pan, heat the oil, brown sugar, and honey on a med low heat.  While that is heating up, take your oats(etc), dry milk, cinnamon, and dash salt and mix thouroughly in a greased cookie sheet.  Take the "syrup"and pour over your grains.  Mix as well as you can with a spoon, then put the spoon down and use your hands to incorporate it well.  Once mixed well put it in the oven for 10 min.  Take out of the oven.  If you want to put raisens in it, you do that now. Bout halfa cup.  Stir it in thenjust let the granola sit til it is cool.  Then break up.  If you don't add the raisens, then just take the granola out andlet it sit.  Don't stir it.  Let cool then break up. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Dare I dream?

DH and I are once again embarking on an adventure.  An adventure in Financial Peace University. We have taken the classes before, tried and failed.  BUT!  We are going once again.  Our debt isn't astronomical, but any debt (even the "good debt") is contrary to God's word.  "Neither a borrower or a lender be" isn't just a line from Hamlet, but comes from the book of Proverbs.  We have over the years seemed to spend our tires around baby step #1.  The saving of the initial $1000 for an emergency fund.  During the last FPU classes we managed to save the thousand dollars twice and it was spent twice.  The Government (bless their heart NOT) took it the first time, and then household things like AC going out, car repairs etc, took it the last time.  We get a bit nervous getting excited about this step because once we say out loud that we have that step accomplished, something happens to take it away.  So forgive me if I don't update things too loudly.  We are moving right along is all I will say.  Barring any unforeseen circumstances (Good Lord willin and the creek don't rise) we will have my DH's student loan paid off by 9/14.  Then we will tackle a credit card.  My hope is to have both the student loan and this one credit card paid off by the end of the year.
Funny thing debt.  If you have a good credit score you can get more of it.  Hmmm  I am beginning to realize that maybe I don't want any more debt.  Whatcha think?
***pause here*** wish you guys could really hear this.  Knight in shining Armour, Rubic, and Einstein are in Einsteins room playing "little big planet" and singing Bohemian Rhapsody.  Yea.  Interesting goings on at the frugal maven ranch.

Anyway, back to my original topic.  Want to know an interesting tidbit?  Larry Burkett once said that Americans could live off of minimum wage if it wasn't for debt.  I have found this to be true for us.  In order to keep us motivated I made up a "Dream Budget".  What our budget would look like with no debt.  Not even a Mortgage.  We could live off of what I make part time.  Dh's response to this is "Okay I'll just retire then".  Uh no!  LOL.   But at my age, to think of going into retirement in 15 years with no debt, no mortgage, would be a fantastic thing.  It is the best retirement plan in my opinion.  WOW.  So dare I dream this dream?      I have to at least try.