The Day I Got Carried Away With the Beans

It’s not what you think.  {and all the readers breathed a collective sigh of relief}

It’s just that last night I put beans in a bowl to soak, and then I woke up to beans that were threatening to overtake my kitchen.  {Wow, Laura.  Fascinating.}

beans 1

See, when you add water to beans – they grow.  They grow and they grow and they grow.  So if you aren’t thinking about what you’re doing, and you scoop 13 cups of beans into a bowl, then cover the beans with water before you go to bed – beware of the growing bean monster which will greet you when you walk into your kitchen to make breakfast.

I strained the beans and added fresh water, but of course, none other than my largest stock pot would hold the monster.

beans 2

Why, you ask?  Why so many beans?

I told you already.  I wasn’t thinking about what I was doing.  I needed a large amount of beans for a big batch of chili, so I just kept scooping.  I also forgot that beans in a bowl will soak up the water until they become bloated and ready to burst.  Whoa, good morning, beans.  That.  That is what I said when I walked into my kitchen this morning to find the bloated beans trying to crawl over the top of the bowl onto my counter top and floor.

I didn’t really tell the beans good morning.  I don’t talk to my chili beans.  Coffee beans, though – for sure.  Don’t even doubt that one.

After cooking the chili beans (which of course bubbled up and overflowed onto my stove-top because I forgot that they were cooking and because there were so many of them), I realized that I had way, way too many cooked beans for the big batch of chili I was planning to make.  All I’m doing is trying to do is to be prepared to feed our high school youth group on Sunday night, see?  But we’re going out of town Thursday afternoon and won’t get home until late Saturday night.  And I don’t know if you knew this or not, but we have to change our clocks this Saturday night, so we lose an hour of sleep.  No one asked my permission to do that this weekend.  This is not okay with me.

So in my effort to get ahead, I got very, very ahead.  I have beans for chili on Sunday night to feed an army.  Plus I now have three other big containers of beans in my freezer to be used another time.  Yay me.  I am so efficient.

chili beans 3

It seems that I just spent 404 words telling you about my beans – as if I have nothing better to talk about.  Blah, blah, blah, beans.  Wow everyone.  Look at my beans.

So now I shall leave you with this important reminder and advice:

Do not become distracted when you are scooping beans.  Stop scooping beans if you know what’s good for you.  But if you forget and over-scoop, simply go ahead and freeze your cooked beans for future use.

526 words to tell you that you can freeze beans.  Sometimes I amaze myself.

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Pyrex Bowls with Lids – On Sale!

pyrex bowls 2

I was just talking to a friend of mine about this wonderful set of bowls (with lids!!).  I was going on and on about how much I use them, how much I love them, and yes, about how I have two sets of them.  #ilovepyrex

Now wouldn’t you know, I found them on sale for a great price at Amazon.  So now I’m going on and on about them to you, letting you know how much I use them and love them.  I won’t buy a third set because I do have my limits.  But in case you need some – here they are!

Pyrex Smart Essentials 8-Piece Mixing Bowl Set W/Colored Lids – $15.99

It’s the lids, friends.  The lids are what make these so awesome.  The bowls themselves are great too.  But the LIDS!!!  Oh so very handy.  #pyrexgeek

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Gratituesday: Lasts and Firsts

gratituesday[2]

So here we are.  There are eleven weeks before graduation weekend.

Our senior in high school continues to recognize more and more “last events” before graduating and moving on.  Last youth rally, last year to be a camper at church camp, last few months to be a part of the church youth group.  Tuesday is his very last basketball practice.  This weekend is his last basketball tournament, thus his very last games.

falcons153

I get teary-eyed when I think about it.  I am so excited for whatever is to come for Asa!  But tears come anyway – a mixture of “I am so proud of that kid,” “I am so gonna miss having that kid around,” and “Wow, it’s going to be fun to see what God is going to do with this him!”

falcons152

It occurred to Asa recently when he and his brothers were divvying up chore responsibilities for the week: “I’m not going to have to scrub these toilets many more times!”  So true.  Oh, but the toilets that are to come…  Son, there will always be toilets.  <— surely the wisest words I’ve ever spoken.

So many lasts.  And now the start of many more firsts.  A dear friend just wrote in an email to me, “I know it’s hard to believe, but parenting a young adult gets even better.”  Mmm, I believe it.  There is so much to look forward to.

For today, I am treasuring each moment.  I’ve cut out many outside commitments this year – partly because life with so many teenagers is very busy and it’s important that I devote most of my time to keeping up with life.  But mostly – I just don’t want to miss a moment.  We’re just about to close a chapter and begin a new one.  The last few pages of this chapter are sweet and joy-filled.  I don’t want to miss any of it.

So here’s to the lasts.  And here’s to the firsts.  And praise God for being who He is yesterday, today, and forever.

What about you?  What are you thankful for this Gratituesday?

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Stretch the Meat ~ Money Saving Monday

Money Saving Monday Banner

Last week I made tacos.  My family’s was ecstatic – as if I’d presented my family with a dinner of prime rib.

Why are tacos so exciting around here?  They are a rarity.  Easy as they are to make, and tasty as they are to eat – tacos are one of the more expensive meals I serve to my family of 5 men.  It’s the meat.  The delicious, juicy, perfect-for-tacos meat.

I remember the days I could only use a 1/2 pound of hamburger meat to feed my family a meal.  Now it takes 2-3 pounds of hamburger if we’re having a meal of something in which meat is the main component – like tacos.  That’s over $15 for meat alone.  Then add lettuce, tomatoes, olives, sour cream, cheese, guac, salsa, tortillas – all in large quantities.

Thus, meals like tacos are rare, and meals where we can stretch our meat a bit further show up on our table more frequently.

I never advocate for skimping on good food just for the sake of saving a buck.  Nourishment it worth the cost – so don’t short yourself or your family on nutrients in an effort to cut food costs. But there are ways to stretch the meat you’re serving your family.  You probably have some good ideas for ways to do this, so be sure and leave a comment sharing your tips.  Here are the ideas I thought of to make your meat stretch:

Make Your Meat Stretch

Add Beans

Stir lentils, red beans, black beans, pinto beans – any of your favorite beans – into the ground meat you’re planning to serve.  Note to self: If I did this more often, we could probably have tacos more often.  How ’bout that?

Cut the Meat in Half

If you’re adding meat to a casserole, consider if cutting the amount in half will still fill and nourish your family.  I find this easy to do in recipes which include chicken, which leads me to…

Let Meat Broth Pack a Punch

When I make chicken, turkey, or beef stock – it becomes a very healthy meat-product.  (That sounds so fake, like “cheese product.”  Homemade broth is sooooo not fake, it’s just something you make with meat.  Thus, meat-product, right?)  Broth made with wholesome meats and lots of vegetables is so very flavorful!  Therefore, I find that I can cut way down on the meat in recipes that use broth.  Here’s a good example:

This weekend I made this easy Creamy Chicken and Rice Casserole.  I cooked the rice directly in my nutrient-packed chicken broth.  There were so many veggies blended into my broth that it turned my rice orange.  Plus, I knew that the chicken bones filled my broth with nourishment.  Therefore, I only added about two cups of cooked chicken to two 9×13 inch casseroles.  With such flavorful broth, no one even noticed the small amount of chicken in the casserole.

colorful plate

I love how colorful this plate is with all the great veggies!

Skip It

You all know I’m a meat lover.  But even I have learned that I don’t have to eat meat all three meals every day.  Two of our favorite meatless lunches are:  Easy Cheesy Bean Dip and Easy Noodle Stir Fry.  We don’t even miss the meat when we’re eating meals like these.

Have Eggs Instead

Eggs aren’t just a great breakfast food.  Scramble or fry some up to compliment your lunch or dinner.  It doesn’t get any easier, and eggs are still an inexpensive protein to take the place of meat.

What are your ideas?  What are ways you stretch meat at your house?

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Menu Plan for the Week and a LOT of Groceries

Goodness.  Remind me not to grocery shop at the store until after I pick up my Bountiful Baskets order.  Come to think of it – never mind.  We’ll eat all of this, and maybe I won’t have to buy as much next week.  Maybe.  It is a good thing we have a second refrigerator because we have a lot of food in our house right now.  Here’s how this week’s grocery shopping went for me:

On Tuesday night, we picked up our Azure Standard co-op order.  I got 5 pounds of carrots, 6 pounds of yams, 5 pounds of peanuts, 25 pounds of red beans, 6 pounds of chicken thighs (not pictured), and 50 pounds of yellow potatoes (not pictured).

groceries feb25

I use roasted, unsalted peanuts (like the ones pictured above) to make delicious homemade peanut butter.  If your family wants to avoid hydrogenated oils, but you don’t like the taste of plain, natural peanut butter – try this recipe.  It’s incredible!

On Friday, I filled my cart at the store – mostly with price-matching items.  I scored some great deals!  I got apples, pears, sweet peppers, grape tomatoes, bananas, grapes (two varieties), spinach, mixed greens, baby carrots, cucumbers, and a cantaloupe.

groceries feb 27

Then on Saturday, I picked up my Bountiful Baskets order.  Mmmmm!  Asparagus, celery, apples, oranges, bananas, lettuce, pineapple, carrots, broccoli, sweet peppers, cucumbers, and avocados came in the surprise basket this time.  Plus, I had ordered 28 pounds of green beans.  It was perfect timing for these to be offered since we are almost out of our garden-grown green beans from last summer.

groceries feb 28 (1)

I had also ordered heirloom tomatoes and strawberries.  It feels like a little taste of summer with these goodies!

groceries feb 28 (2)

I’d say our family is pretty well set for at least one week – if not two.  I am so thankful we have such great sources for such great food!

We are feeding a big group of high school kids from our youth group here on Sunday night, and I plan to put out a big plate of veggies and a big plate of fruit along with sliced ham, french bread, and Angeled Eggs.  Maybe I’ll need to grocery shop next week after all.  :)

Here’s what’s on our menu this week:

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Fruit and Veggie Side Dishes (I serve 1-4 with every meal)

  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Sweet Potato Fries
  • Asparagus
  • Mushrooms
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Cucumbers
  • Clementines
  • Oranges
  • Apples
  • Applesauce
  • Tomatoes
  • Green Leaf Lettuce
  • Mixed Greens
  • Spinach
  • Green Beans
  • Peas
  • Strawberries
  • Bananas
  • Pineapple
  • Cantaloupe
  • Avocados
  • Grapes

We’ll be heading out of state for our end-of-season Homeschool Basketball Tournament on Thursday night.  I’ll be saving many of the “packable” fruits and veggies to take along with us to munch on all weekend.

Because I’m sure you’re dying to know:  The toilet is still sitting right outside my kitchen - but looooook!  There is tile on our new bathroom wall and floor…

bathroom 8

It looks so very pretty!  My husband is a work horse right now.  I am thanking him by loading his plate with heirloom tomatoes and fresh green beans.  I do what I can.  ;)

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Pyrex and Silicone Mats – Great Deals!

I just came across two fantastic deals to share with you as you “healify” your kitchen.

Pyrex Easy Grab 4-Piece Value Pack is priced at just $13.50.  This set of two pans with lids gets used in my kitchen alllllll the time.  In fact, I have two of these sets.  I’m sure you’re not surprised. :)

pyrex set of 2


Healthy Cooking Products has their silicone mats
priced at only $4.95 right now!  That’s 83% off!

healthy cooking products 1 (2)

There’s no guarantee on how long these prices will last.  Enjoy your savings and your healthy kitchen!

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A Lesson in Trusting God ~ And a Chance to Win Noah’s Ark Veggie Tales DVD

We grown-ups.  We’re good at complicating uncomplicated truths.  We don’t do this on purpose.  Our brains and schedules just get full and the reality of life sometimes shuts down our ability to think simply.

This is why I like children’s books and movies.  Phooey, this is why I like children.

It never fails.  Any time I need to explain a Biblical truth at a level kids can understand – the easy words with their basic meaning prick me to the core with a simplicity that is remarkably profound.  God’s truth isn’t complicated, friends.  It’s the believing and taking Truth to heart – that’s where I tend to stumble in my frailty.

So heart check:  Our oldest son is a senior in high school, making weighty decisions and preparing to launch into the next big thing.  Never before have I faced the need to trust God with my children at such a level.  Regrets and what-ifs threaten to suffocate me when I forget that my God is faithfully and lovingly in control.  Overwhelming, precious peace takes over when I realize that confident trust in God is the only gift I have to offer my children.  Not one time has the Father failed to keep His promises.  Trust is the only option.  I will choose this.  I must choose this.

The Only Gift

Download and Print

It’s interesting what comes to light when your heart is searching.  As I take time to read the Word each morning a theme of “trust” continues to shine through the pages.  Jesus isn’t waiting for me to line up my ducks in a perfectly ordered row before kneeling at the cross.  He just wants me to take a knee.  God doesn’t ask me to present the answers to all the tough questions.  He just wants me to seek.  The Spirit doesn’t wait for me to understand all that is to come.  He simply whispers, “Trust me.  I’ll show you.”

And so I do.  And then I forget.  And then I remember.  And sometimes I cry.  But always, He’s right.  And always – peace wins.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7

That was a word from me, and then a word from the Word, and now a word from Bob and Larry.

What?  I couldn’t think of a good transition.

There’s a new Veggie Tale in town, and we get to be the first to know about it.  I found it fun that as I’ve been seeking to understand full trust in God, Veggie Tales were working on a show to explain the profoundly simple concept to children.   When I saw the title Noah’s Ark: A Lesson in Trusting God I laughed and said, “A lesson in trusting God?  Well of course it is.  It’s perfect.”

noahs ark veggie tales

This movie is darling.  The creators did a great job sharing the story of Noah from a Biblical perspective, with a little bit of veggie silliness thrown in for good measure. Malachi said to be sure and “tell all your blog people that it is an amazing video!”  So there you have it.  The ten year old has spoken.

Noah’s Ark: A Lesson in Trusting God can be ordered at Amazon now and shipped to you next week.  It’s a great one to have in your collection, and you can pre-order for just $9.96.

I happen to have a copy here to give to one of you – so leave a comment for a chance to win.  I’ll draw a random winner on Tuesday, March 3.  Be watching for a post stating the winner as you will be responsible for contacting me if your name is chosen.

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What is Up With That Toilet?

If you recall, our family is remodeling a bathroom.  I thought you might like an update on the progress of this project.

First the bathroom looked like this.  What you don’t see (or smell) in this picture is that the bathtub leaked and had nasty orange stains.  The sink faucet never stopped dripping.  The toilet never flushed efficiently.  And the smell of pee never went away no matter how hard I scrubbed.  You might have enjoyed this post more had I not shared that last part.

bathroom 1

Matt gutted the bathroom, and pulled out all the lath and plaster.  My house has never been dustier, but at least I have an excuse.

bathroom 2

Matt got the new shower in place.  It is beautiful.  We used it the weekend we had a houseful of teenage boys staying with us.  Then Matt took off the shower door so he could get around the room more easily to put up dry wall.

bathroom 3

All the dry wall is up now – on the walls and on the ceiling.  The mudding has begun.  The new light fixture is in place.

bathroom 4 (1)
Matt has begun putting down the sub floor before laying tile.  The old toilet has been removed.

bathroom 4 (2)

Which leads me to my morning God time today.  (Seriously. It leads me there. Why would you question this?)

There I sat at the kitchen table, my Bible in front of me.  This is the time each morning I relish in all that is good.  I marvel at the quiet.  I drink in the Truth.  I find refreshment.  I prepare for a day of service to those around me.

bathroom 5 (1)

I took a deep breath and gazed out the window at the birds that are starting to come back, a promise of spring coming to our frozen piece of the world.  And that’s when it caught my eye.  

bathroom 5 (2)

Wait, you don’t see it?  Look a little closer…

toilet porch 1

Here, let me just step out my kitchen door with you to the cement slab between my house and the garden.

toilet porch 2

And there you have it.  Our old, stained bathtub.  Our leaky sink.  And the latest addition: an old toilet.  It’s all right there, right outside my kitchen window.  They weigh a million pounds, plus it is freezing cold outside.  So there they sit.  Finishing the inside of the new bathroom is higher priority right now than disposing of these goodies.  And really, I won’t press the issue because who doesn’t want to gaze out during her morning Bible time to look at scenery like that?

I’m actually thinking of pouring in some soil and making them into planters this spring.  Can you imagine anything more Pinterest worthy?

Huge hugs go to my hubby who had to pause our downstairs bathroom remodel yesterday so that he could spend an entire day fixing the sink in our upstairs bathroom.  Such is life, eh?

Well, I guess this just about wraps up the post that has no point nor does it offer you any form of heavenly homemaking encouragement.  I would end by saying, “Everytime you sit on your toilet today, think of me” – but that’s just weird.  Perhaps you could tell me what you see when you look out your kitchen window?

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Because This Will Make You Want to Eat Cucumbers

So you say you don’t like cucumbers?  Ah well.  I know exactly how to help this situation.

Zebra Cucumbers Taste Better

See?  You peel stripes out of the cucumber and then you slice them and then they become adorable stripy zebra cucumbers which will then make cucumbers perfectly irresistible.  Mmm-mmm yummy cucumbers.

I personally think stripy zebra cucumbers are more fun to eat than non-stripy, un-zebra cucumbers.  (Let’s be clear that I’m calling these stripy {long i} and not strippy {short i} because there’s a difference that I’d rather not go into here.)  I think stripy zebra cucumbers look pretty on a plate.  That’s why I had to take a picture to show you how fun these are.

But what if you just really, really don’t like cucumbers?

I like cucumbers.  Yay, me.  But try as I might (and trust me, I really did try – more than thrice), I cannot make myself like jicima.  We got two lovely jicima in our Bountiful Basket last week, so even though I don’t like them, I tried making jicima sticks for easier dipping.  Also, doesn’t it just sound fun to say, “Yum! We’re going to snack on some jicima sticks!”  (In case you’re not sure, the “j” in jicima is pronounced with an “h” sound.  It’s not a jicima, it’s a hicima, like hiccup, even though it’s spelled jicima.  It’s just that you need to say it right when you exclaim, “Yum! We’re going to snack on some jicima sticks!”)

jicima and rose

This is a jicima.
I took a picture of it beside the rose we got at
Asa’s basketball Senior Recognition night because who doesn’t like
jicima and rose together in the same picture, and also because
the rose is in its final hours and I never got a picture.

I talk all this semi-nonsense about zebra cucumbers and jicima sticks to tell you this:

I give you permission to not like every fruit and vegetable in the grocery store, farmer’s market,and garden.

Now if you haven’t tried it, you don’t get to say you don’t like it.  But if you’ve really, really tried (and even cut it into zebra stripes or dipping sticks) and you really, really don’t like it – you can just not like it.  Guilt free.

So I don’t like jicima.  So what?  I love and eat close to 50 other fruits and veggies (aka freggies), so I’m probably okay without the important vitamins and minerals obtained from eating jicima.  This is a very good thing since I didn’t even know jicima existed until about three months ago.

But what about you?  Is your fruit and veggie palate growing?

You need to know that it has taken me years to develop a taste for a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.  (What can I say?  I liked Pepsi and chocolate chip cookies better.)  But as I learned the importance of nourishment, I was open to trying.  I tried hard.  I forced myself at first to eat vegetables I only thought were “so-so.”

I went from liking and eating only - I kid you not - four vegetables (green beans, carrots, peas, and iceburg lettuce) and one fruit (apples) as a young adult to LOVING dozens of different fruit and veggie varieties.  It took time.  It took being intentional.  I know my palate will still grow.  (Who knows?  Maybe one day I’ll even like jicima.)

Sooooo, I encourage you to try your least favorite fruits or veggies from time to time as truly, our taste buds do change.  But I also know I don’t need to feel bad about not liking every fruit or vegetable out there.  Just be sure you continue to make freggies a priority.

Now tell me: What fruit or veggie have you tried multiple times but just can not make yourself like it?

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Hurry! Get the Big Hero 6 DVD for FREE!

Oh boy!  This just came through my inbox – you can get a FREE Big Hero 6 DVD!

big hero 2

This offer is only valid for new Top Cash Back members.  There’s no catch.  I’ve been a member at Top Cash Back for over a year and they’ve always refunded me every penny of what they promised.  Woohooo – free goodies!

Here’s how to get the Big Hero 6 DVD for free:

  1. Head to TopCashBack and sign up for a new account.  (This offer is good for new sign-ups only, and that is my referral link.)
  2. You’ll receive an email immediately after you sign up, and you’ll need to click the link within the email to verify your TopCashBack account.  Check your spam folder if the email doesn’t show up right away.
  3. Go to this TopCashBack page where you’ll be introduced to this free DVD offer.
  4.  Click through the orange “Get Cashback” button beside the $16.50 offer.  You must shop through that button in order to get your cash back bonus.  It looks like this:

big hero 1
5.  You will be re-directed to Walmart.com.   Find the Big Hero 6 DVD, which is listed at $14.99.  Add this item to your cart.  It must be this exact item.

6.  DO NOT add anything else to your cart.  You will not receive an $16.50 refund if there is anything in this transaction other than the DVD specified in this offer.

7.  Head to check-out.  Select “Site to Store” or “Free – Pick Up” so that you’ll get free shipping and so that this offer will be valid.

8.  Complete your transaction.  With tax, the DVD should cost around $16.50 or less.

9.  Wal-mart will email you when your DVD is available for pick-up.  When it is, simply go to Walmart and pick it up.  FUN!

10.  Within 14 days $16.50 will turn payable in your TopCashBack account and can be credited straight to your checking or PayPal account.

You need to hurry!  This offer is only good through Saturday, February 28 or until supplies last.  Supplies usually don’t last long on a deal like this one.  :)

Let me know if you have questions.  Enjoy your free DVD!

This post contains referral links.

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