Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Menu Day & Recipe

Since our family will be celebrating Christmas a little late this year, my weekly menu plan is pretty standard. 

Monday - fried eggs, bacon, toast / leftover spaghetti / garlic sauteed shrimp in a vegetable medley, spinach salad

Tuesday - yogurt w/ granola, bananas / garlic butter & Parmesan spaghetti, apple wedges / Pioneer Woman's tomato soup, grilled cheese sandwiches

Wednesday - apple cinnamon oatmeal, toast / pb&j sandwiches, cucumber slices / sweet & sour chicken over rice, egg rolls

Thursday - bagels w/ cream cheese, orange slices / crockpot Swiss steak, garlic mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli

Friday - spinach & cream cheese omelets, English muffins / hot dogs, salad / taco salads

Saturday - biscuits & gravy, scrambled eggs, hash browns  / vegetable soup, crackers / beans & rice, cornbread, cold vegetable plate (sliced tomatoes, onions, bread & butter pickles)

Sunday - blackberry muffins, fruit salad /  jalapeno & bacon wrapped roasted pork tenderloin, black bean & corn salad, zucchini & mushrooms, coconut cake

Here's a recipe from this week's meal plan:

Zucchini & Mushrooms

3 Tbsp. olive oil
4 med. zucchini, cut crosswise
1/2 lb. small white mushrooms, quartered
2 med. garlic cloves, minced
1 small fresh jalapeno, seeded, veins removed and finely chopped
salt & pepper to taste

In a large skillet heat 2 tsp. olive oil over medium-high heat.  add zucchini and cook, stirring, until crisp-tender.  Season with salt & pepper; set aside in a bowl.  In the same skillet add the remaining oil, mushrooms and garlic.  Cover and cook stirring frequently, until the mushrooms release their juices, 3-4 min.  Return the zucchini to the pan.  Add the jalapeno.  Cook, stirring until heated through, 1-2 min.
Serves 4

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I'm Dreaming of ...

... a White Christmas.  As we draw nearer to Christmas, my heart rejoices each time I gaze out my windows, walk the 1/4 mile down to our mailbox or drive into town.  The snow and frost covered branches just seem to bring forth an atmosphere of Christmas.  As I gazed out our bedroom's French doors this morning, I was greeted with the following beauty.  So, I stepped out onto the deck and snapped this photo to share with y'all.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Frugal Feasting Friday

During the holidays large gatherings of family and friends for meals and fellowship can easily blow one's grocery budget.  For families already living on a very tight budget, the expense of special meals and traditional treats can really add to one's financial stress.  It is so sad, but very true, that some families must choose between a traditional Thanksgiving and/or Christmas meal(s) and gifts for their children or even paying one or more utility bills.  I remember all too well that there was a time when our family had to make those sorts of tough decisions. 

I generally try to keep my Frugal Feasting Friday meal suggestions under $2.00 per serving.  However, I realize that with Thanksgiving only one week behind us and Christmas only 3 weeks ahead, there are families who simply can't afford $2.00 per serving meals if they are going to enjoy traditional celebrations.  So, today I am sharing a meal that cost less than $1.00 per serving and packs a TON of flavor!

Lentil-Tomato Soup
(adapted from November 2011 Taste of Home Magazine, pg. 43)

4 1/2 c. water
1 tbsp. bacon grease OR oil OR butter/margarine
4 carrots, sliced
1 onion, chopped
2/3 c. dried lentils, rinsed
1  6 oz. can tomato paste
2 tbsp. minced fresh parsley OR 1 tbsp. dried parsley
1 tbsp. brown sugar OR 1 tbsp. white sugar & 1tsp. molasses
1 tbsp. vinegar
1 clove mined garlic OR 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. dried dill weed
1/4 tsp. dried tarragon (optional)
1/4 tsp. pepper
salt to taste

In a stock pot, saute the onions, carrots in bacon grease over medium high heat until the onions begin to turn clear; stir in the garlic.  Add the water and lentils and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat; cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until the lentils are tender.  Stir in remaining ingredients; and return to a boil.  Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes to allow flavors to blend.
6 servings

Spicy Oven Sweet Potato Fries

3 medium sweet potatoes
2 tbsp. olive oil OR cooking oil
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Peel and cut sweet potatoes into wedges.  In a large mixing bowl combine oil, sugar, chili powder salt & pepper.  Add the sweet potatoes and toss to coat.  Place seasoned sweet potatoes onto a baking sheet.  Bake at 425 degrees for about 12 minutes, turn and continue to bake for another 10-12 minutes or until fries are tender.  NOTE:  I prefer to place my oven fries on a baking rack placed over my baking sheet - thus, I don't have to turn the fries mid-way through the baking process and they come out crispy on both sides.
Serves 6

Best Dinner Rolls
(adapted from Taste of Home magazine, November 2011 pg. 61)

These really are the BEST dinner rolls ...

1 c. whole wheat flour
3 1/2 to 4 c. all-purpose unbleached flour
1/4 c. sugar
1 tbsp. active dry yeast OR 1 pkg. active dry yeast
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. milk
1/2 c. water
2 tsp. butter
2 eggs
1 egg, lightly beaten (optional)
Toppings, below (optional)

In a large bowl, combine whole wheat flour, 1 c. all-purpose flour, sugar, yeast and salt.  In a saucepan, heat the milk, water and butter to 120-130 degrees.  Add to dry ingredients; beat on medium speed for 3 minutes.  Add 2 eggs; beat on high speed for 2 minutes.  Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft, sticky dough.  Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes.  Place in a greased bowl and turn to coast dough.  Cover with greased wax paper and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.  Punch down .  Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide into 24 portions.  Shape into balls.  Place the dough balls in two 13in. x 9in. greased baking pans (12 each).  Cover with greased waxed paper and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.  If desired, brush lightly with beaten egg and sprinkle with desired topping(s).  Bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from pans to wire racks to cool slightly serve warm.  NOTE:  You may freeze 1/2 of this dough in a zip lock bag and thaw for later use.  After thawing allow to rise, punch down and proceed as directed - dough that has been frozen will take about 2 hours to rise the 1st time. 
Makes 24 servings.

*2 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese and 1/2 tsp. dried minced garlic OR garlic powder
*2 tbsp. chopped sliced almonds, 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, 1/2 tsp. dried basil, 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
*1 tsp. poppy seeds, 1 tsp. kosher salt, 1 tsp. dried minced garlic, 1 tsp. sesame seeds, 1 tsp. dried minced onion
NOTE:  Get creative with your toppings.  If it's summer time and you have aromatic herbs growing in your garden, substitute fresh herbs.  Don't have dried minced garlic, mix fresh minced garlic into the egg wash.  You can also shape these rolls into rosettes, twists or other desired shapes for visual appeal.

Estimated Cost Breakdown:
Lentil-Tomato Soup - $0.41 per serving
Spicy Oven Sweet Potato Fries - $0.39 per serving
Best Dinner Rolls - $0.19 per serving

Total Cost Estimate for Entire Meal:  $0.99 per serving

Disclaimer:  The recipes for Lentil-Tomato Soup and Best Dinner Rolls have been adapted from recipes found in the November 2011 issue of Taste of Home magazine.  For some reason I never follow recipes exactly as directed, adding my own "spin" or techniques that I think enhances the flavor profiles or nutritional value.  If you'd like the recipes exactly as published, please visit www.tasteofhome.com.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Inspired Word of God

Miss Sarah, over at As Lilies Sewing, has posted an excerpt from a thread on a forum she recently participated in.  I enjoyed reading it so much I wanted to share it with all  y'all.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Menu Day

Ah! Ha!  Not only am I getting a Menu Day posted for the second time this month BUT this week it's on time ... This week's meal plan includes:

Breakfast:  Cheerios's & Pop Tarts ( I was EXHAUSTED this morning and didn't wake up until after 7! )
Dinner:  French bread pizza, pineapple slices
Supper:  chili & cornbread

Breakfast:  bacon & cheese crescent roll-ups, apple wedges
Dinner & Supper:  Out ( Dr.'s appointment in the "city" ie. 250 miles - one-way)

Breakfast:  homemade egg mcmuffins, apple wedges
Dinner:  grilled cheese, tomato soup
Supper:  chicken broccoli bake casserole, carrots

Breakfast:  pancakes & sausage
Dinner:  vegetable soup, crackers
Supper:  Salisbury steaks w/ gravy, mashed potatoes, steamed spinach

Breakfast:  oatmeal, toast, fruit
Dinner:  peanut butter & jelly, fruit
Supper:  Italian vegetable pasta, salad

Breakfast:  blackberry muffins, fruit, yogurt
Dinner:  vegetable soup, buttered bread
Supper:  grilled steaks, loaded baked potatoes, salad

Breakfast:  twice baked breakfast potatoes, fruit salad
Dinner:  corn chowder, herbed biscuits, salad

I know that I could take a more frugal approach to Tuesday's meal planning by packing lunches & even a portable picnic supper that could be eaten in the car because it is now too cold to eat outdoors.  However, since we now live where there aren't any restaurants or drive-thru's, we are actually excited about the opportunity to eat a couple nice meals in restaurants.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving's Make-Over-Madness

Thanksgiving was two days ago and even by declaring yesterday as leftover buffet day for dinner AND supper, we still have leftovers.  Are we all really in the mood for another Thanksgiving meal?  Well, honestly Mr.B and Grandpa would be completely satisfied eating the same things day in and day out; but not me!  I like and crave a wide variety of foods. 

So, what will I do with all the little bits we have left today?  For starters I turned the candied yams (yes, I had planned to prepare twice baked sweet potatoes BUT, the grocer carried only yams) into pancakes topped with maple flavored syrup & chopped pecans.  I will re-make the mashed potatoes and 3 tbsp. carrots into potato cakes ( http://herpeculiarlife.blogspot.com/2008/06/potato-cakes.html ) for today's dinner.  Some of the roasted chicken will be used in our chicken quesadillas, charro beans and Mexican rice for supper this evening.  The remaining chicken and stuffing will be turned into a chicken broccoli bake casserole (substitute roasted chicken and broccoli in this turkey Florentine casserole http://herpeculiarlife.blogspot.com/2008/12/thanksgiving-musings.html ) and placed in the freezer for a quick meal during the Christmas season hustle and bustle.  What do you have planned for your Thanksgiving leftovers?

Here's my recipe for Candied Yam Pancakes

Candied Yam Pancakes w/ maple flavored syrup & chopped pecans
 1 1/2 c. pureed candied yams
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 1/4 c. milk
2 tbsp. cooking oil
1 1/2 c. all-purpose unbleached flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

In a medium bowl combine yam puree, eggs, milk and oil.  In a larger bowl combine all dry ingredients.  Stir wet ingredients into dry.  Mix until moistened, do not over mix.  Cook on a griddle over medium heat until batter bubbles, flip and continue cooking until golden.  Repeat with remaining batter.  Makes about 1 1/2 dozen pancakes.  Note:  if a thinner batter/pancake is preferred add more milk, 1tbsp. at a time, until disired consistancy is reached.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving, a short re-cap ...

Although our entire family was not able to be with us, we still enjoyed a nice Thanksgiving.  Besides a huge meal that brought all sorts of compliments my way,  (Did you know that a second helping is the best compliment one can give a southern cook?  Third helpings are equal to praise and adoration.) we received very nice, lengthy telephone calls from our 3 big boys.  It is always a joy to visit with them, even if only via telephone.

After we thanked the Lord and asked Him to bless our meal, EJ wanted everyone to share what they have been most thankful for this past year.

EJ - is thankful for food to eat and a bed to sleep in
OG - is thankful for her home and family
Mr.B - is thankful for his family
Grandpa - is thankful for family & friends
Me? - salvation through Jesus Christ

I hope your Thanksgiving was as lovely and blessed as ours.  What have you been thankful for this year?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Menu Day & Recipe

Not only am I a day late with this post, but it's been, what seems like forever, since I logged a Menu Day post. 
Since I've incorporated my new shopping strategy, meal planning has been super easy.  Having a large variety of foods readily available has kept me from driving nearly 100 miles round-trip to the grocer each week.   I simply "grocery shop" right in my own kitchen!

Monday - hamburgers & cowboy beans
Tuesday - chicken-a-la-king, sauteed apples & onions, bacon-mushroom Brussels sprouts
Wednesday - chili dogs, oven fries
Thanksgiving - appetizers: deviled eggs, artichoke dip w/ crackers / meal:  roasted chicken, cornbread dressing, cranberry sauce, gravy, twice baked sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, & buttered carrots / dessert:  chocolate cream pie, pumpkin pie
Friday - left over buffet
Saturday - quesadillas, beans, rice
Sunday - chicken & dumplings, salad, garlic cheese toast

What do you have planned for supper this week?

Bacon-Mushroom Brussels Sprouts
(adapted from a recipe published in Taste of Home)

4 c. halved fresh or frozen brussels sprouts, if frozen thaw
5 strips bacon, julienned
1 c. chopped onion
1 c. sliced mushroom, drain if canned
1/2 c. water
1 chicken bullion cube
salt & pepper to taste

Steam brussels sprouts until tender, keep warm.  Cook bacon over medium heat until crisp.  Remove & drain on paper towels.  Saute onions & mushrooms in drippings until tender. (do not add canned mushrooms as this point).  Add water & bullion cube.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered 3-4 minutes until broth is reduced by 1/2.  (if using canned mushrooms add after broth is reduced). Stir in brussels sprouts & bacon.
serves 4-6

Friday, November 18, 2011


2 Corinthians 4:4

1599 Geneva Bible:  "In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds, that is, of the infidels, that the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, which is the image of God, should not shine unto them."

1611 King James Bible:  "In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them."

1978 New International Version Bible:  "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God."

1982 New King James Version Bible:  "whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them."

There have been times when I have asked, "Why".  Why are there people in my family who continue to reject the love, grace and salvation of our Lord?  Why do they seemingly refuse to believe in an all powerful, Omnipotent God who has certain requirements and expectations of us?  Why do they seemingly refuse to believe that just as there really is a heaven (they all seem to believe in heaven), there is also a very real hell?   According to the Bible, regardless of the translation I search, it is because their MINDS are blinded by the enemy. 

Romans 12:2

1599 Geneva Bible:  "And fashion not yourselves like unto this world, but be ye changed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what that good, and acceptable and perfect will of God is."

1611 King James Bible:  "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."

1978 New International Version Bible:  "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will."

1982 New King James Version Bible:  "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."

Blindness of the mind and renewing of one's mind.  These verses bring back memories of my own born again salvation.  Once this supernatural occurrence took place, it was as if someone flipped on a light switch.  As if all my prior perspectives had been formulated by the shadows of viewing life through a dark and dimly lit room.  When the proverbial light was turned on, I had a clear view and perspective.  Things that I once thought were "not quite so bad" OR "although I didn't agree on some things personally, I could understand where another person found it acceptable", instantly became appalling. 

Today I live life with a different perspective than most of my family.  I spend a lot of time with people who's minds are blinded like mine used to be.  Sometimes it is a very hard life.  It can take a toll on one's emotions and spiritual strength.  It is hard to live a life contrary to one your family lives.  My family often becomes very aggravated with me because I don't and won't allow participation many things.  My family often becomes aggravated with my steadfastness to attend church regularly - basically, it sometimes interferes with their own "fun" plans.  By God's grace alone, I have continued a steadfast walk with Him and through the years my family has come to accept that I am "different".  They have started accepting that as I mature, I become more steadfast.  But that doesn't lessen the toll on my emotions or strength as one would expect.  No, my burden seems to increase.

My burden has increased because I know that if they died today, they would not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  They do not know the Lord.  Thus far, it seems most have no desire to know the Lord.  For many years I've prayed, "Lord, please bring salvation to name."  "Lord, I beseech you to have the Holy Spirit move upon name's heart and bring salvation to him/her."  "Lord, allow the "right" witness to minister to name's heart, so that he/she may accept you as Saviour."  I was studying my Bibles this morning, actually I was searching scripture for an answer to another topic.  When the Word of God really spoke to my heart through 2 Corinthians 4:4 and Romans 12:2.  For so very many years I've been praying that God brings salvation to these people and their hearts be changed.  God has answered everyone of those prayers.  Thanks to Jesus Christ's atoning death on the cross and His glorious Resurrection, EVERYONE has the gift of salvation readily available.  I was praying for something already provided.  A change in their hearts?  That one has also been answered.  I've watched my family members become more compassionate, more caring, more understanding, more generous.  But I haven't seen any of them accept God's free gift of salvation. 

Could it be that I've been praying incorrectly?  I've been praying that salvation come to them through a change in their heart when the Word of God clearly states that the MIND is blinded by the enemy and that transformation comes through the renewing of the the MIND.  Today, I leave you with a new prayer for mine and your lost loved ones.  I pray that the blindness of their MINDS be swept away by the illumination of the light and knowledge of the Gospel of Christ and that they be transformed to know and accept God's good, acceptable and perfect will by the renewing of their MINDS.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A New Shopping Strategy

We've moved to the country - really, really far into the country.  We are so far out that I mentioned in a previous post that the only access to the internet is via satellite.  Have I also mentioned that we must travel 60 miles one-way across the state line to access the closest Wal-Mart or McDonald's?  I am certainly NOT complaining - we moved out here on purpose - we WANTED to live really, really far out in the country.

We experienced our 1st snow of the season this past weekend and within the next few weeks we will begin accumulating mountains of it.  Being a southern girl I am not accustom to driving in snowy, icy conditions.  I think it's best, and something I'm sure the locals will appreciate, I avoid the highways and byways when the weather conditions warrant a more experienced driver. 

Needing to prepare for the months that driving 100 miles round trip to the grocer will not be feasible and desiring to keep our grocery budget as low as possible, I've started utilizing a new shopping strategy.  I've made up a projected 6 month grocery supply list.   (By the way, this list is really long - it includes everything from snacks to personal care products).   When the sale papers arrive on Friday, I compare ALL the sale items to see which grocer has the best prices for any of the items on my master list.  I then plan out which and how many items I will purchase from each store and purchase ONLY sale items (I do not pay full price for anything).  Did I mention that the stores are across the street from each other - how convenient is that?   I also carry my sales papers with me into the store to ensure that I purchase the exact item that's on sale.  (I hate getting to the register and discovering that the "flavor" I selected was not the "flavor" that was advertised.)  Once I've purchased the needed amount of any item from my master 6 month supply list, I do not purchase additional amounts of those products - no matter how low the current sales price.  I must remember to stay within a budget and we can't eat an extra 6 bottles of shampoo, regardless of how cheap it may be this week.

Items are being marked off my list and our shelves are filling up.  I hope that by the time the mountains of snow begin to arrive within the next few weeks, I will be ready to park my car in the garage and venture out only on Sundays for church.

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Dusting ...

This is the sight we saw as we gazed out the window yesterday morning.  Our 1st snow of the season - isn't it beautiful? 

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Few Little Blessings

Good Morning!
 This is the morning view from by bedroom window, sun porch and breakfast nook, aka future mud room.

Getting ready to make a birthday wish ...
  EJ isn't the only one in our family with an October birthday.

There's nothin' like it
  Here's something we can't find up here.   We thank God for Mrs.A and UPS.

Full of, Mmm Mmm Good stuff.
  This week we enjoyed the following recipe from "Forgotten Recipes" complied by Jaine Rodack -
I served it with brown rice and sauteed yellow squash.  Since I prepared this for just the littles and myself, I reduced the steak, onions and mushrooms by half.

1949 Steak, Country Style (pg. 101)

2 lb. round steak
seasoned flour
1/2 c. butter, divided
2 onions, sliced
1/2 lb. sliced mushrooms
1/2 c. water
2 tbs. grated cheese
1 tsp. salt
dash of pepper
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 c. sour cream

Cut steak into serving pieces and dredge in seasoned flour.  Melt 1/4 c. butter in large frying pan and add the onions and mushrooms.  Cook until the onions are tender and the mushrooms are just lightly browned.  Remove the onion mixture from the pan and set aside.  Add the remaining butter; when melted add the steak and brown on both sides.  Remove from the pan and set aside.  Add the remaining ingredients and return the onion and mushroom mixture; stir well.  Return the steak to the pan, cover and simmer on low until meat is tender enough to cut with a fork.  Note:  if sauce gets too thick while simmering, stir in an additional 1/4 - 1/2 cup water.
Serves 6-8

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I'm Back ...

Has it really been over a month since my last post?  We have been unbelievably busy since our move & the internet was not connected until last week.  But here I am and ready to give you all a brief update.

My days have been filled with unpacking and organizing.  I seriously thought we had fewer things than we actually do.  After all, we hauled off literally truck load after truck load before leaving Texas.  The unpacking is almost complete.  I still have some organization to finish in the basement, unpacking for our winter recreation room and organizing my sewing and scrap booking supplies.

For the past 2 1/2 weeks ALL my spare time has been filled taking care of a special little guy.  About 4-5 weeks ago, our mama cat, Spook, had a litter of 6.  Samson, the dog, found the kittens and disrupted the "nest".  Unfortunately, Spook abandoned the litter.  When we discovered what had happened all but two kittens had passed.  We placed the two remaining in a box on a towel wrapped heating pad while I drove 45 miles (one way) to find baby animal formula and an eye dropper.  Within three days we were down to one kitten.  We estimate that he is now about 5 weeks old.  He is teething & today I started him on wet kitten food.  I hope to have him weaned within the week.  We are still deciding on a name.  Some ideas we've had include, patches, miracle and spot.
Our un-named rescued kitten.  Isn't he cute?
 This past weekend EJ celebrated another birthday.  He enjoyed a supper of smoked BBQ ribs, LOTS of macaroni and cheese and a banana nut cake with vanilla frosting.  He was (and still is) thrilled with his gift - a hunting bow.  Unfortunately, Mr.B has already taken it into the shop for a repair - EJ "dry fired" it and we don't have the vice equipment to repair it YET.  (I'm sure Mr.B will soon acquire all that sort of stuff).  But the bow is repaired and EJ now spends time everyday practicing his shots.
EJ trying out his birthday gift

"I wish for ..."
We are really enjoying our new home.  Mr.B and I still "pinch" ourselves just to make sure we aren't dreaming.  We consistently see deer, pheasants, prairie chickens. We hear coyotes and owls at night.  The ducks that had called our pond home this past summer have flown south for the winter. But EJ finally figured out what was making a "slapping" sound in the pond - beavers!  Yes, he saw three just last Friday. 
Fortunately, Old Man Winter has delayed his arrival.  Mr.B and I are working hard to get our place ready for snow cover.  I plan to post some photos of our area soon.  I'd especially like to share one of the the beautiful sunrises I wake up to each morning.

I hope you, my dear readers, have a wonderfully blessed day.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Old School

Well, after driving 250 miles per day (round-trip), today will be my last visit to our temporary housing.  We (OG & I) have finally moved everything out and finished up the cleaning.
Mr.B was supposed to get the satellite t.v., internet, and phone connected.  He has procrastinated.  Meaning we have only telephone service at our new house, for now.  The satellite t.v. people will not be out until the end of October - HA! HA! HA! - I wish you all could be at my house to watch the very funny withdrawal Mr.B will be experiencing until then - HA! HA! HA!.  I don't know when the internet will be connected - he keeps forgetting to phone that company ... So, until the internet gets connected this will by my last post.  I hope to get back on-line soon and give you all an update on the unpacking and Mr.B's progression through television withdrawal.
See you soon!

P.S. - we have moved so far out into the country we can not get internet through our telephone service - we have to have satellite internet, which is a different company and separate phone call.

Friday, September 16, 2011

You want me to pack this entire house by when?

The littles and I arrived back to our temporary housing yesterday afternoon.  I've finally finished the painting and the carpets have been professionally cleaned.  The heating/AC guy has come out and taken measurements for the gas line installation on my new range.  Unfortunately, I was not successful in finding a professional moving company to pack and move our belongings.  I had to break the news to Mr.B yesterday evening.

Well, Mr.B came home early today.  Real early.  11:00am early.  He hastily informed me that I needed to grab my purse and the littles because he needed me to go with him to pick up a U-Haul truck from a town more than 100 miles away (that's the closest one he could find, nothing local was available - no surprise there).  We arrived back "home" around 4:30.  He told me that a couple guys he works with are going to help us move.  I inquired as to when this was supposed to happen (expecting Sunday afternoon or Monday morning).  He told me they'd be here at 8:00am TOMORROW morning!

I responded with, "You mean I have less than 14 hours to pack this entire house?" 

Mr.B replies, "It will be O.K. I don't think it will take you more than a couple hours.  How about I run up to the store and pick up a few steaks to throw on the grill?"

Me:  "Are you kidding?  It took 4 professional packers 6 hours to pack our house when we left Texas.  I really don't think we have time to cook anything.  I think you should call the pizza guy."

Mr.B:  "Well, O.K. if that's what you want to do."

Me"  "Well, I'm not hungry and I've a house to pack - I don't have time to eat much less cook or clean up after anyone else who has cooked."

Mr.B:  "I was trying to help you out."

Me:  no response, as I hurriedly entered the house and immediately began organizing my tape, scissors, box marker and ...

As of right now, midnight, OG and I have packed every room except the kitchen.  I plan to take a 5 hour nap and pack it 1st thing tomorrow morning.  I hope Mr.B has made plans to pick up McDonald's or bakery muffins for breakfast tomorrow morning, because I still don't have time to eat OR feed anyone else.

Dear Mr. Business Owner,

photo courtesy of photobucket.com
The fall of 2008 marked my husband's and my first visit to your town.  Our mission:  deciding if we wanted to move our family to the area.  Although my husband had been offered a promotion that would require a relocation to the area, employment / job security was NOT a deciding factor for us.  The promotion was an offer, not a requirement to retain employment.

Our primary decision to relocate was based upon a very long held desire to move to a small, rural community.  We viewed the employment promotion and relocation as an opportunity to achieve this goal.  We relocated to this area with plans to raise our family and retire in the area.

We understand and realize that since our 1st visit to the area almost 3 years ago, this town's population has doubled.  The rapid population influx due to job availability has afforded you and the local townspeople experiencing several areas of "growing pains" such as rapid increases in traffic, business transactions, housing availability issues, over crowding in the schools, etc. 

For many years, my family has gone out of our way to patronize locally owned small businesses.  We believe in an entrepreneur spirit and fully support it when possible.  We diligently avoid the "Wal-Mart's" of our society.  However, the high work ethic and personal service we've become accustom to experiencing with small, locally owned businesses does not exist with you.  Although, I have done my best to exercise patience while you, Mr. Business Owner, adjust to the rapid population growth of this community, I am exasperated.  Your employees are rude, have VERY poor work ethics and have made it very clear that you are not interested in increased profits that my family's hard earned income will bring you. 

Where I come from, small, local entrepreneurs welcome increased profits.  Where I come from, business owners have a driving desire to grow their businesses.  At the very least I am shocked that you and your employees have welcomed us with a message of, "We don't want you here, AND we will do everything we can to make sure you leave as soon as possible."  Essentially, through your employees and business practices you have sent a very clear message that you personally have a poor work ethic and are not interested in increased profit margins. 

I have never been in a satiation where I have felt as if I am almost begging a business to accept my money.   Well, I want you to know that, I am not the sort of person who will beg you to take my money.  You need to remember your town's history.  This population growth is temporary and will depart, just as it did 25 years ago causing a high number of business closures.  You may rest assured that you will not have an opportunity to re-earn my business if or when that exodus occurs. 

When that exodus does occur, I will continue to drive to neighboring towns and cities  and shop via the internet where my business is desired and appreciated.  I will also continue to politely and causally inform the other residents of this area of my non-local resources and encourage them to utilize those resources.  I have found that even with shipping / freight charges, my internet purchases are often a higher quality and less expensive than your offerings.  But please note, that even when it costs more, I still refuse to do business with you.  Best of all, when traveling to distant cities and towns or shopping via the internet, I am not forced to politely accept poor service from you or your employees.

Thank you for your time.


Please Note:  This letter is not being sent to every business in our new area.  However, it will be sent to several select businesses that have consistently provided poor and or rude service.  Such as the town's only dry cleaning business whose employee told another employee, in  a hushed tone thinking I wouldn't overhear, not to assist me to my vehicle with large bulky items because, "she's not from here". 

Friday, September 2, 2011

clip art courtesy of photobucket.com
Not only are we busy with all the details of moving into our new home, we are also busy changing a few paint colors, having the carpets and air vents professionally cleaned, etc.  I will return to blogging as soon as we are settled.  I miss you and will be back soon.

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Huge Sigh of Relief ...

It is finally over ... we closed on our new home TODAY!!  Because the seller had significantly different decor than I, the next several days will be spent painting.  We plan to move out of our temporary housing within the next 2-3 weeks. 
We had some very tense moments on Tuesday this past week.  The underwriters had some questions regarding the appraisal report and then they rejected our farm & ranch insurance.  By early afternoon it was looking like there wouldn't be any way to meet the buy/sell contract deadline.  But because of the army of people who've been praying for us, God came through in a mighty way. 
The appraiser responded to the questions promptly.  Our insurance agent contact her corporate office where she was given the name and number of a supervisor in the underwriter's office.  In turn, she convinced the underwriter to accept the farm & ranch insurance, which, by the way, saves us nearly $1,000 per year in insurance premiums.  After moving these mountains, God continued to show His mercy, grace and power.  Our loan officer contacted us for a faxed signature to "lock in" our interest rate - which turned out to be lower than originally quoted!  After that, our loan officer, real estate agent and the title company representative worked like tornadoes to get everything completed so we could close at 11:00am today.
I don't know why, but I am astonished at how God brought everything together so quickly when it looked like it would never be possible.  I am embarrassed to admit that I became very discouraged.  But, He's proved to me, again, that ALL things are POSSIBLE with God.

So, which house did we purchase?  Well, the farm house on 25 acres, of course.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Asking & Believing

photo courtesy of photobucket.com
 First, I want to thank everyone who has been praying for the purchase of our new home.  I am confident your prayers are what is moving this process along AND helping me keep my cool.  I've never in my life heard of, or known anyone, who had so many delays in the purchase of a new home.  Our situation has certainly turned out to be unique.  Remember, our home in Texas, once we finally got it on the market and accepted a fair offer, it took only 6 weeks from the signing of the buy/sell contract to the closing.  That sell went so smooth, I guess I became a little spoiled.  Regarding the new home we are purchasing, it has been 3 months since we signed the buy/sell contract.

"Gary" the appraiser FINALLY submitted the appraisal report at approximately 8:45am this morning.  Our loan officer immediately sent it to the underwriting department marked EXTREMELY URGENT.   She has also talked with the person handling our contracts and that person has agreed to make ours a top priority.  So, we are now waiting, yet again, this time for an approval from underwriting.  An approval this afternoon would be optimal, but realistically tomorrow afternoon is most likely.

Everyone is really under a time crunch with this deal.  We are currently operating within the automatic 15 day extension period on the buy/sell contract.  The seller is so frustrated that, at this moment, she is unwilling to agree to any additional contract extensions for the closing.  Our deadline for closing on this property is 5:00pm, Monday, August 22, 2011.  We, our realtor, the seller's realtor and our loan officer have done everything that can possibly be done in advance to get this sell to closing before the contract deadline.

So, I find myself asking you dear readers for additional prayers.  Our prayer is that everyone involved, from this moment forward, understands the urgency of this transaction and works diligently to complete and submit their portions of this transaction so that we close on our new home BEFORE the deadline.

I look forward to reporting, with a shout of praise, that our Lord moved the mountain!  This time next week, I look forward to sharing the good news with you - that our family is packing up and moving to our new home.

Thank you all for your continued prayers.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Lovely Week ...

Despite the worrisome news regarding the purchase of our new home, (and the prospect of loosing quite a bit of money that has been pre-paid for various fees, inspections, etc. - you know 1 1/2 yr. ago we lost a bit on a previous home purchase when we discovered the owners had an IRS lean on the property and were not legally capable of selling at that time .... GRRRR!) I think it is important to acknowledge the lovely blessings the Lord has poured upon me this week.

My first blessing came when we decided to let OG & EJ attend vacation Bible school at the church we've been attending while in our temporary home.  OG & EJ have been involved in church their entire lives, but this week's VBS was first for them.  It just seems as if we've always had something else scheduled or planned when VBS time rolled around, thus negating their involvement.  VBS actually provided several blessings for our family - God really knows how to get a 2 for 1 out of His blessings! 

Since OG is now 12 and about to enter 7th grade, (did I just type 7th grade?  I ask, yet again, where have the years gone?) she had the privilege of working as a helper.  She LOVED it !!  AAANND, I enjoyed all the nice compliments and positive feedback she received - it has been a terrific boost to her self perception.  Being so far away from her friends in S.E. Texas, and still apprehensive about making friends here because we are planning to move very soon,  this opportunity has been wonderful for her. 

VBS provided EJ with a very constructive and active routine.  He is the "poster child" of little boys and the busier we can keep him the better every one's day.  There were far more boys in his age group than girls.  Another blessing.  For some reason, we are the parents of 4 boys and 1 little girl, yet the majority of our friends and acquaintances have always had daughters OR if they do have boys there seems to always be a HUGE age gap in their ages.  EJ had such a terrific time playing, learning, crafting, singing & dancing with lots of other boys his age.  It was such a joy to see how excited he was to attend VBS.

I was blessed by a unique situation through VBS.  I did not volunteer.  I did not attend.  I dropped OG & EJ off @ 8:30 am and picked them up at 12:20 pm everyday.  Since Mr.B and my dad were at work, I then came home to quiet.  The living room box was not blaring non-stop bla, bla, bla.  No one knocked on the door while I was in the bath.  I didn't have to stop in the midst of painting my toenails to get fetch anything.  I opened a box of zingers and didn't have to share my little cupcake!  I made lunches and no one said, "What are you making?  Oh, I don't like that."  I got to meditate on the Lord without anyone interrupting ... Until this week, I've never had daytime hours that did not belong to others.  Prior to becoming a stay at home mom, my mornings were spent rushing the boys off to pubic school and me racing into work.  When I left the workforce and came home full-time, I had a newborn, a toddler and a Jr. high homeschooler.  VBS provided me with a blissful break.  I am so thankful the Lord gave me this gift, this memory is one I am sure I will cherish for quite some time.

The crescendo of blessings this week culminated in meeting a fellow blogger - in person!!!!  Mrs. SP and her beautiful children met us at one of our local parks yesterday.  I had an incredibly wonderful visit with her!  I am so excited about getting to know this sweet sister in Christ better.  Long story short,  I began reading her blog, Oh, I guess a little more than a year ago??, and through reading a few of her post, I began wondering if she lived close to where Mr.B and I had been trying to move.  I inquired, she e-mailed and Yes! she did.  So, since we are now moved to the area, earlier this week she and I made plans to meet each other in person.  She was friendly and welcoming and her children were precious and lovely.  I look forward to seeing her and her family again, very soon.

Regardless of how our housing situation turns out, I must remember and focus on the abundant blessings the Lord has showered upon me this week.  He reminded me of how much He loves me.  He reminded me of how important I am to Him.  I am so grateful He chose this particular week to shower me with love.  (insert:  deep breath and sigh).

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Fervent Prayers

photo courtesy of photobucket.com
Hello my sweet and faithful blog readers.  A couple days ago I e-mailed a prayer request to most of my e-mail contacts.  Today, I have decided to share that request with you, my dear readers.

As you all know, I've been very excited about the home we are in the process of purchasing.  You also know that we have been waiting a VERY long time for the appraiser to submit his report.  We've been waiting too long - more than 3 weeks.  Our Buy / Sell Agreement stated that were were supposed to close on Monday, but has an automatic 15 day extension clause.  Because the appraisal report was not in before Monday, and still isn't in, the closing did not happen.  All this is COMPLETELY out of our hands.  Although the buyer has to pay for the appraisal, the lender's underwriter chooses the appraiser.  State law prevents the buyer and seller from having any say in who does the appraisal work.
As of today, the seller is at her breaking point.  These delays have wreaked havoc in her plans to move out of state and she is madder than a nest of hornets.  She has voiced the ultimatum that if the appraisal report is not turned into the lender by Monday morning, she will break the buy / sell contract and withdrawal from the sell.
I know it is hard for most anyone to believe, but there is a severe housing shortage in this area.  We've met entire families living in RV's and tents - not because they don't qualify for mortgages or lease agreements, but because there simply isn't any available housing.  Our lives have been on hold for 2 years and 9 months.  I honestly don't know how much longer I can continue in this situation.
My realtor spoke with the appraiser early this afternoon.  "Gary", the appraiser, promised he'd have the appraisal report turned in early Monday morning.  However, please note that he promised to have the report turned in by the end of July, then by Aug. 5th, then by Aug. 10th and has not yet submitted anything.
I ask you, dear readers, please join me in fervent prayer.  I pray this appraiser keeps his word this time.  With tears streaming down my face I pray that this trial comes to end - that our family can be settled and begin moving on and living our lives.
The Bible tell us, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you;  For everyone one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened"  Matthew 7:7-8 KJV
"And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive".  Matthew 21:22 KJV
"He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them"  Psalms 145:18 & 19 KJV
"Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not."  Jeremiah 33:3 KJV
"Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."  Mark 11:24 KJV

Although this appraiser has given me three occasions to NOT trust him, my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ,  has given me every reason to Him.  I realize that in the natural things look very dismal, but I serve the Living God of the supernatural and He is able to move mountains when necessary.  Our family's desire is that we close on this home next week so we can give God ALL THE GLORY for bringing it to pass.
Dear readers, thank you so much for joining me in prayer.  Thank you for believing with me that our Lord will be glorified with  a shout of praise when we close on this house.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Floor Plans

Question:  An open great room OR a segregated kitchen?

After many years of living in apartments and trailer homes with segregated kitchens, I always dreamed of having a large open kitchen, dining, living room combo, aka the great room.  When I purchased our previous home nearly 16 1/2 years ago the kitchen was segregated.  So, the dream of a great room where I would not be isolated from gatherings while preparing snacks or meals continued to be a dream.

During this relocation process our desire for a great room configuration continued.  But we've never eliminated looking at homes that have segregated kitchens because, after remodeling our old house, we've discovered that we could always knock down a couple walls if necessary.  Four months ago, the littles and I moved into our temporary housing with Mr.B.  We are currently living in a three bedroom, 2 bath trailer home that has the great room configuration we've always dreamed of.  While working in the kitchen, I am "right in the middle" of everything going on in the living room area.  A dream come true, right?

NOT !!!  Mr.B has, in my opinion, an addiction to television.  If he is awake and a television is present, that noisy box is blaring.  True crime shows, political debate programs, newscasts, hunting/fishing shows ... on and on it goes - a never ending barrage of blah, blah, blah (he doesn't even turn it off when we have guests).  Now, those of you who know me personally know that I can go days, even weeks, without turning the "box" on.  I like and enjoy silence.  I have many interests that keep me occupied and thus, I have do not have a need to be entertained by the television.  Please don't get me wrong, I do enjoy watching an occasional movie and generally, when living in S.E. Texas away from Mr.B I did make a point to catch a news broadcast every 7-10 days.  Because of newspapers and free newspaper reading via the internet, I've never found a t.v. to be a necessity.

During the past 4 months, I have discovered that while a great room configuration would be nice for social gatherings, it is not practical for our family's day-to-day living.  We home school at the kitchen table - the noise of the television is a constant distraction.  I spend a lot of time working in the kitchen - the television is a constant distraction and annoyance.  If I want to read a book, I have to isolate myself in the bedroom, if I want to read some blogs or post on my own blog, I have to wait until Mr.B is gone, so the television is not a distraction.  When trying to talk with the children or have a Bible lesson, we have to isolate ourselves in a bedroom, because, again, the television is a huge distraction.  And my #1 "nails scraping a chalkboard moment", trying to enjoy a nice family meal while Mr.B and the little's heads are turned to stare at the box! - I've given up trying to have a mealtime conversation.

This has been another lesson to me that we need to think through very carefully the things we wish for.  I have been the driving force behind our family's desire for a great room configuration, but now that I'm living with one - I've learned that I did not realize the full implications of how negatively that type of floor plan would affect our daily lives.  It is ironic that I am now very happy that the home we are currently purchasing has a large segregated eat-in kitchen.  I'm confident I will find myself isolated during a few social gatherings, but regarding day-to-day living, I will welcome the quiet and isolation as the littles and I work on our daily tasks.  Most of all, I will, once again, welcome daily family meal times without that blaring box.

When we first put an offer on our new home, 3 months ago, I thought this home was a 9 out of 10 because of the segregated kitchen.  Now, because of the segregated kitchen, I expect our new home to become a perfect 10!

Friday, August 5, 2011

& More Waiting ...

Can you believe it?  Come Monday, we will not be closing on our new home.  The appraiser finished his appraisal 3 weeks ago, BUT has yet to submit his report.  Everything else is completed and all is ready to go to closing.  However, the closing can not and will not happen until the appraisal report is submitted.  I am baffled as to why this relocation process has been SOOO drawn out.  Not only am I perplexed, I am also exhausted.

My prayer:  "Lord, move upon the hearts and minds of the appraiser, and everyone else involved in this home purchase process, to complete their tasks in a timely and professional manner.  Lord, bring our wait to an end, settle our family into our new home so that we and our children will have a peace and security and we may go forth and begin serving you within our new community.  In Jesus name, Amen."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Inspections: 3 of 3 DONE ...

photo courtesy of http://www.photobucket.com/
We have received the water quality inspection report on the home we are purchasing and, HooRay!, all is thumbs up.

The house appraisal took place about 10 days ago and the report is due by the end of this month.  We are eagerly awaiting and praying the appraised value will be satisfactory.  The appraisal report is the the last hurdle we have to clear before going to closing.

Our prayers are that in only 12 days we will be ready to move into our new home and FINALLY be settled.

Which house are we buying?  hint:  because of the lack of landscaping, I will have the opportunity to design  "edible landscaping" for my home.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Waiting, Waiting & Waiting ...

How much longer will we have to wait?  Just as I began typing this post I received a phone call from our realtor informing us that the appraisal on the home we are in the process of purchasing is scheduled to take place this coming weekend.  Unfortunately, my realtor warned me that this particular appraiser has a history of taking up to 5 weeks to submit his paperwork AND he has a history of low-balling his appraisals.  If he takes a long time, then the closing date will have to be pushed back accordingly.   If he grossly under appraises the property the entire deal could fall through resulting in another year of living in limbo and temporary housing. I am now praying that the appraiser works quickly AND the property appraises at purchase value.  This relocation process has worn me down. Thus far, we are at 2 years and 9 months.  I've never in my life heard of a relocation taking this long - not even for the pioneers setteling the west by wagon trains.  This whole process has certainly been an exercise in patience.  Mr. B has far more patience than I, apparently God thinks mine needs to be improved.

While waiting we have been keeping busy.  OG is indulging in a 2nd dose of softball.  Ball season is during the summer up here verses the spring down in Texas.  So far, her team, Fusion, has played in two tournaments.  Fusion took the championship during the first tournament.  However, they did not fare as well during the second.  They have another scheduled in a couple weeks.  We are hoping they will have a good come back.  !!Go Fusion!!

EJ only played two games in his 2nd round of baseball.  4 weeks ago he broke his arm during a bicycle crash.  He's missed most of the season up here.  But a broken arm hasn't stopped him from practicing his roping.  Everyday he has been outside roping his bucket and the two back legs of a sawhorse.  One of these days he may be good enough to learn how to rope off a horse. 

This coming weekend we are planning a little excursion out to my dad's mountain cabin.  The littles are very excited.  They LOVE visiting grandpa's log cabin and living, for a few days, "the way they did in the olden days".  Grandpa's log cabin is off-grid.  He heats it with a wood stove and cooks on an antique wood burning cookstove.  He also has an antique icebox to keep some of his food cold.  Last month, grandpa installed a flush potty, in the past we've always used the outside privy.  I am very excited about not having to fumble around in pitch black darkness to find the outhouse in the middle of the night.  A few years ago he installed a gravity fed water system for the large claw foot soaker tub.  Last year he put in a propane water heater so we now have HOT running water in the bathroom.  I really enjoy living without electricity, but have only tolerated the "no running water" aspect of the cabin.  When Dad brought the plumbing up to the late 19th century, I was beside myself with glee.  I've never even minded heating water on the stove - I just hated having to haul it and the excessive rationing of a very limited supply.  But that's all over now, the plumbing has come into the 20th century - HooRay!!  The cabin is now, in my opinion, perfect ... well, except for a few choices in decor, but hey! it's not my house - it's my dad's.

For all you out there who have been praying for us during our long relocation journey, Thank You.  You will never know how much we appreciate it.  Hopefully, our prayers to be settled in our new home will be answered very soon.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Insptections: 2 Down, 1 to go ...

I found a cute house inspection clip art, but blogger is not loading it so, on without a "photo" ...

Yesterday was inspection #2 on our new home, the house inspection.  The inspector found only 2 issues that the homeowner will need to address.  While there, the homeowner phoned my realtor to ask what time they could return home.  While on the phone, they happened to also inquire about how the inspection was going and my realtor told them about the 2 issues.  The homeowner immediately agreed to address them.

HooRay!!!  We are clicking along in the process.  The water well inspection should take place within the next couple weeks and the appraisal is also scheduled.  However, the appraisal will not take place until next month.

While at the house, the littles and I had an opportunity to choose bedrooms.  These decisions were, of course, guided by me and based on the best fit for our furniture.  I can honestly say I am so very excited and eager for things to move forward quickly.  The coming weeks will certainly be a test of my patience.

Which house did we select? hint:  There are quite a few trees on the property.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Saturday's Super Supper

As previously mentioned on this blog, we really enjoy Mexican food.  Today was a fairly lazy day around the B house so, I decided to spend some time in the kitchen preparing an authentic Mexican meal.  Unfortunately, up here in the North I do not have access to many of the traditional Mexican ingredients that are readily available in Texas.  Thus, I had to improvise with the ingredients I could find.  Today's supper menu included, Guisado de Carne y Chile Poblano (Beef and Green Chili Stew), Mexican Rice, Pico de Gallo, homemade Four Tortillas and Flan (custard).
Here are my improvised recipes for Guisado de Carne y Chile Poblano and Flan:

Guisado de Carne y Chile Poblano
serves 8

2 tablespoon bacon grease or vegetable oil
2 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 pound grilled stew meat
2 celery ribs, coarsely chopped
12 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano, crumbled
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 large ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
4 cups chicken broth OR 4 cups water & 4 chicken bullion cubes
5 4oz. cans diced green chilies
1 teaspoon. salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
lime wedges

Heat the oil in a large stewing pot over medium heat.  Heat and cook the onion, stirring until it begins to brown.  Add the grilled stew meat, celery, garlic, oregano, cumin, tomato, and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil; then reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered until stew thickens.  Add the chilies.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook an additional 10 - 15 minutes to blend the flavors.  Serve hot with lime wedges & flour tortillas.

serves 8

1 cup sugar
1 14oz. can sweetened condensed milk
2 1/2 cups whole milk
5 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.  Warm 8 6oz. ramekins on a cookie sheet in the oven.  In a heavy saucepan, cook sugar over medium heat, stirring frequently, until melted and golden brown, 6-9 minutes.  Quickly pour equal amounts of caramelized sugar into the warmed ramekins.  Set aside.
Raise the oven temperature to 350 degrees.  In another saucepan bring 2 - 3 cups water to a boil.  In a blender, put the sweetened condensed milk, whole milk, eggs, yolk and vanilla.  Mix on low speed 1 minute.
Pour equal amounts of custard into the ramekins.  Place them in a larger pan and place in the oven.  Carefully pour the boiling water into the larger pan until it reaches approximately 1 inch deep.  Bake the flan 20-25 minutes or until the custard is set and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove from the water bath and cool completely on a rack.  When room temperature, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight before serving.

These recipes are adapted from Marge Poore's, 1,000 Mexican Recipes.  If you and your family decide to try them, I hope you all enjoy them as much as we do!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Waste Not Want Not Wednesday

A couple weeks ago I was perusing my cookbooks and decided to try Ree Drummond's, author of The Pioneer Woman Cooks, Spicy Pulled Pork recipe (pg. 94-95).  On shopping day I scouted out the meat section of the local grocer.  Food prices are significantly higher up here than down in S.E. Texas, thus, I ended up paying $22.84 for a 6 lb. pork roast, that's nearly $3.81 per pound!  I knew I definitely didn't want to waste a single bite of this roast.

Good news!  Not only is Ree Drummond's recipe fantastic - the only change I'll make next time is an addition of red pepper flakes - but, I used this pork roast as the foundation for FIVE meals.  Reducing the cost per serving to $1.14 and keeping all 5 meals under $2.50 per serving.  Also, using the the left over roast in four of the meals was a real time saver.

Here's what I prepared:
Spicy Pulled Pork w/ corn tortillas, pico de gallo, sour cream, avocado slices and pinto beans
Dinner, aka lunch, of the above left overs
Pulled Pork BBQ sandwiches w/ sliced onions, bread & butter pickles, macaroni salad
Pulled Pork enchiladas, Mexican rice and charro beans
Pulled Pork smothered in gravy over mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli and green salad

What's your Waste Not Want Not Wednesday tip?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Inspections: 1 down, 2 to go ...

Yesterday, the county sanitarian went out and inspected the waste water system on the house we are in the process of purchasing.  He gave it a thumbs up!  So now we will proceed with the the water well and house inspections.  After that, the property will be appraised.  If all continues to go well, we should go to closing on our new home in early August.
I am cautiously excited and praying that we do not run into any snags.  We appreciate your prayers, too.
Hint:  The house we selected is in a very peaceful location.

Friday, May 27, 2011

On The Hunt ...

Within two weeks of moving into our temporary housing, we reved up our search for a new home.  Up here in the extreme north, one generally has only 5 months to search for / sell a home.  During the rest of the year everything is either under a thick blanket of snow or very soggy from the spring snow melt, also known as "mud season".
If we don't find what we are looking for by the end of summer most of our house hunting will be over until late next spring.  Through our 2 1/2 year search, we've learned that occasionally, one or two homes may come on the market during the winter months, but it is rare.
So far, for us anyway, the internet seems to be the most effective method of searching for prospects, especially since the towns are extremely small, and many miles apart.  A couple weeks ago when we drove down to see a home about 100 miles south of us, the process took nearly all day.  Also, because the communities are so small the realtors only notify buyers of prospective listings through their own agency - they absolutely will not search competitor's listings on your behalf (our welcome to small town politics).  It's all very weird and leaves most of the "leg work" on the buyer's shoulders.

However, after searching for just the right place for 2 1/2 years (our first trip up was Oct. 2008), Mr. B and I found a place we think will work for our family.  Last week we made an offer AND yesterday the seller accepted!!!

The whole process is not a "done deal" just yet.  We still have to make it through the inspections and the appraisal, but it seems we may be on our way to moving into a new home.

You know, yesterday as I went before the Lord with thanksgiving, I first had to repent for my lack of faith and for allowing discouragement to settle into my heart.  Mr. B's job transfer and our move has been a long drawn out process.  When Mr. B first came up here we never imagined our family would be separated by 1,600 miles for more than 2 years.  When the littles and I were visiting during the summer of 2009, we found what we thought would be the perfect home for our family, but we continually ran into all sorts of road blocks and almost a year later we withdrew our offer.  After finishing the remodel work on our home in Texas, we found out I had to have surgery to correct a birth defect in my heart that was progressively getting worse.  When we FINALLY put our home up for sale, the market was so depressed, it took 9 months to sell.  These detours and the separation, took a toll on me, emotionally and spiritually.  Fortunately, we serve a merciful God who is willing and waiting to grant forgiveness, so He can generously bless us.
Although I knew God was in control, I was unable to see where He was taking us, an awful feeling for anyone who is a control freak, like me.  Of course God knows that - He was giving me an exercise in faith.  Why would He do this?  To make me stronger, to teach me another lesson in depending on Him.  He desires to be our everything.  He desires us to fully trust and depend on Him, just as a newborn fully trusts and depends on his/her mother.

The home we put an offer on is more than I ever dreamed we'd be blessed with.  BUT, as mentioned above, it is not yet a done deal, so I'm going to keep you all guessing and report updates as they unfold.  Time moves at a slower pace up here and as of right now we are looking at a closing date in early August.  Won't you join us in our praise and thanksgiving to the Lord?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Spaghetti with Bacon & Eggs

We are finally getting somewhat settled into our temporary housing. So, today I thought I'd share a quick, easy and frugal breakfast with you. Our family really enjoys this dish. It could also be paired with a salad for a quick dinner or supper. This recipe doubles and triples very well.

For this recipe you will need:

2 Tbsp. olive oil

5 oz. bacon, cut into matchsticks

1 clove garlic, minced

12 -14 oz. cooked spaghetti (I like to use left overs)

3 eggs, room temperature

3/4 c. Parmesan cheese, grated (can substitute other flavors of cheese)

salt & pepper

In a large bowl whisk together the eggs and cheese. Set aside. In a medium frying pan, over medium heat, fry the bacon and minced garlic in the olive oil. When the bacon is slightly crispy, add the left over spaghetti. Cook until the spaghetti is hot, stirring frequently. When the spaghetti is piping hot, pour the bacon and spaghetti mixture into the egg mixture, and stir to combine well. The heat from the spaghetti and bacon fat will slightly cook the eggs. Stir in salt & pepper to taste.

Note: You can also use freshly boiled spaghetti. After draining, immediately pour the hot spaghetti into the egg mixture, stir well; then add the hot bacon and fat, stirring well again.

Serves 4

This recipe was adapted from "Pasta - irresistible recipes for perfect pasta", pg.171.

Cost Breakdown:

spaghetti - $0.99

bacon - $1.29

Parmesan cheese - $1.98

olive oil, garlic, salt & pepper - $0.60

Total: $4.86 OR $1.22 per person

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Moving, Unpacking & Moving ... Again?

Well, it has been a month since my last post. So, I think it's about time I log an update.

We went to closing on our house in Texas without any hitches. After 2 years and 4 months, the littles and I have been reunited with Mr.B. We've moved completely across the nation from the Gulf Coast to the Canadian border, many of our belongings have been moved into a storage unit and the rest we've moved into Mr.B's trailer house, in a trailer park, while we search for another home. Oh, and I've unpacked, expect for pictures - don't know why I haven't been able to bring myself to unpack those yet ...

Last week I began perusing the real estate sites, again. I found the above pictured gem - a restored/remodeled 1920's 4 bedroom, 2 bath farmhouse on 25 acres only 4.5 miles off the interstate AND it's within our budget. Yesterday, we drove over 100 miles south to give her a look over. Yes, I said over 100 miles south of where we are currently located. Why would we look for a home that far away from Mr.B's job? Because his company is thinking about transferring him - again!! Only this time it isn't completely across the nation - it's only about 150-160 miles south of where he's currently working.

WoW ... The more we think on this little place, the more we love it! There are only 3-4 other homes between it and the interstate on the county maintained 4.5 mile gravel road. The east, west and south views are all farmland / pasture and the view when looking north is of a nice stand of trees followed by pasture. No matter the direction, there is not another house or barn within eyesight of this place.

As you can see in the above photos, the kitchen has been beautifully remodeled. This is an example of the beauty and quality the owner has put into the rest of the home. Accessibility to the interstate for Mr.B's commute to various work sites is very convenient- especially during winter months. Last year, this region received over 100 inches of snow.

Why did we not make an offer on the home yesterday? Because, as of right now, Mr.B's job transfer is not certain. We need prayers for an answer as to which region of the state he will be located so that we will know where to focus our search for a new home. If we knew for certain he would eventually be transferred south, we would begin the purchasing process of this home immediately. During the past two years, we have missed a couple opportunities to purchase other homes (but maybe they weren't missed opportunities, maybe it was the Lord closing some doors, especially since we are possibly looking at another job transfer). Unfortunately, homes on small plots of acreage don't come along too often in this region of the country and consequently, they sell VERY fast.

Won't you all join us in prayer as we continue sailing this journey of uncertainty? Not only am I growing weary, but just yesterday morning OG expressed that living in "limbo" has exhausted her. She, too, is ready for the family to be settled.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sowing, Tending & Harvesting OR Sometimes Moving On ...

**Note: Blogger is not cooperating with me today with regards to hard returns. For some reason, it won't publish my paragraph spacing or even allow me to begin a new sentence on another line. Sorry, for the lack of paragraphing. The other day while out watering the garden, my little EJ asked me why I was tending a garden we wouldn't get to eat from. I told him it was the right thing to do, because when the new prospective owner(s) made an offer on our house the garden had been planted and they were most likely expecting me to tend it until we leave. Yes, I said until we leave. Our house finally has a buyer and we are scheduled to close early next week. HooRay! After two years and four months of separation, we will finally move north where Mr.B works. In the meantime, that short conversation with EJ got me pondering. How many times do we fail to sow into God's kingdom because we aren't planning to be around or involved long enough to minister/disciple or reap a Kingdom's harvest? How often to do we abandon what we've sown because our life changes causing us to know that we won't be around to see or benefit from the harvest? Although we won't be here to reap the harvest from our garden, if the new owner(s) take up the tending where we leave off, they'll have enough produce to eat all summer and probably have some left over to give away. However, if I abandon the work I started before the new owner comes in and takes over everyone, including me, is robbed of a blessing. Likewise, when we fail to sow or tend into God's Kingdom simply because we know or suspect that we won't be around for the harvest, we are robbing God. I think we Christians should be mindful that often times we may only be sowers, other times we may come along and tend to what others have sown. And then there are times when we either take part in bringing in a harvest we didn't sow/tend or we move on and others bring in the harvest we prepared. In the end it is God whom we should be striving to please and glorify. Ministering for the Kingdom only when we ourselves benefit is an atempt to bring glory to ourselves, not God. Our family may not eat any of our garden's bounty this summer, but knowing that our work could benefit someone else is a huge blessing to me.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wishing You the Luck of the Irish ...

I have always had a fondness toward history, especially history associated with my ancesterial roots. The maternal side of my family is of German ancestory and the paternal side of my family is of Irish ancestory. As a matter of fact, my paternal Great Grandfather was one of nearly one million Irish who immigrated to America during the late 19th century to escape Ireland's Great Potato Fammin.

Today, I'd like to share a little bit of St. Patrick Day history with all of you. Please note: the following information was copied from
Oh yeah, by the way, did you know that the color traditionally assiciated with St. Patrick's Day was blue, not green?

Who Was St. Patrick?

St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is one of Christianity's most widely known figures. But for all his celebrity, his life remains somewhat of a mystery. Many of the stories traditionally associated with St. Patrick, including the famous account of his banishing all the snakes from Ireland, are false, the products of hundreds of years of exaggerated storytelling.

Taken Prisoner By Irish RaidersIt is known that St. Patrick was born in Britain to wealthy parents near the end of the fourth century. He is believed to have died on March 17, around 460 A.D. Although his father was a Christian deacon, it has been suggested that he probably took on the role because of tax incentives and there is no evidence that Patrick came from a particularly religious family. At the age of sixteen, Patrick was taken prisoner by a group of Irish raiders who were attacking his family's estate. They transported him to Ireland where he spent six years in captivity. (There is some dispute over where this captivity took place. Although many believe he was taken to live in Mount Slemish in County Antrim, it is more likely that he was held in County Mayo near Killala.) During this time, he worked as a shepherd, outdoors and away from people. Lonely and afraid, he turned to his religion for solace, becoming a devout Christian. (It is also believed that Patrick first began to dream of converting the Irish people to Christianity during his captivity.)

Guided By VisionsAfter more than six years as a prisoner, Patrick escaped. According to his writing, a voice-which he believed to be God's-spoke to him in a dream, telling him it was time to leave Ireland.
To do so, Patrick walked nearly 200 miles from County Mayo, where it is believed he was held, to the Irish coast. After escaping to Britain, Patrick reported that he experienced a second revelation-an angel in a dream tells him to return to Ireland as a missionary. Soon after, Patrick began religious training, a course of study that lasted more than fifteen years. After his ordination as a priest, he was sent to Ireland with a dual mission-to minister to Christians already living in Ireland and to begin to convert the Irish. (Interestingly, this mission contradicts the widely held notion that Patrick introduced Christianity to Ireland.)

Bonfires and CrossesFamiliar with the Irish language and culture, Patrick chose to incorporate traditional ritual into his lessons of Christianity instead of attempting to eradicate native Irish beliefs. For instance, he used bonfires to celebrate Easter since the Irish were used to honoring their gods with fire. He also superimposed a sun, a powerful Irish symbol, onto the Christian cross to create what is now called a Celtic cross, so that veneration of the symbol would seem more natural to the Irish. (Although there were a small number of Christians on the island when Patrick arrived, most Irish practiced a nature-based pagan religion. The Irish culture centered around a rich tradition of oral legend and myth. When this is considered, it is no surprise that the story of Patrick's life became exaggerated over the centuries-spinning exciting tales to remember history has always been a part of the Irish way of life.
Fact Check We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, contact us!

St. Patrick's Day Symbols and Traditions:

St. Patrick's Day is a holiday known for parades, shamrocks and all things Irish. From leprechauns to the color green, find out how symbols we now associate with St. Patrick's Day came to be, and learn about a few that are purely American invention.

The ShamrockThe shamrock, which was also called the "seamroy" by the Celts, was a sacred plant in ancient Ireland because it symbolized the rebirth of spring. By the seventeenth century, the shamrock had become a symbol of emerging Irish nationalism. As the English began to seize Irish land and make laws against the use of the Irish language and the practice of Catholicism, many Irish began to wear the shamrock as a symbol of their pride in their heritage and their displeasure with English rule.

Irish MusicMusic is often associated with St. Patrick's Day—and Irish culture in general. From ancient days of the Celts, music has always been an important part of Irish life. The Celts had an oral culture, where religion, legend and history were passed from one generation to the next by way of stories and songs. After being conquered by the English, and forbidden to speak their own language, the Irish, like other oppressed peoples, turned to music to help them remember important events and hold on to their heritage and history. As it often stirred emotion and helped to galvanize people, music was outlawed by the English. During her reign, Queen Elizabeth I even decreed that all artists and pipers were to be arrested and hanged on the spot.
Today, traditional Irish bands like The Chieftains, the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem are gaining worldwide popularity. Their music is produced with instruments that have been used for centuries, including the fiddle, the uilleann pipes (a sort of elaborate bagpipe), the tin whistle (a sort of flute that is actually made of nickel-silver, brass or aluminum) and the bodhran (an ancient type of framedrum that was traditionally used in warfare rather than music).

The SnakeIt has long been recounted that, during his mission in Ireland, St. Patrick once stood on a hilltop (which is now called Croagh Patrick), and with only a wooden staff by his side, banished all the snakes from Ireland.
In fact, the island nation was never home to any snakes. The "banishing of the snakes" was really a metaphor for the eradication of pagan ideology from Ireland and the triumph of Christianity. Within 200 years of Patrick's arrival, Ireland was completely Christianized.

Corned BeefEach year, thousands of Irish Americans gather with their loved ones on St. Patrick's Day to share a "traditional" meal of corned beef and cabbage.
Though cabbage has long been an Irish food, corned beef only began to be associated with St. Patrick's Day at the turn of the century.
Irish immigrants living on New York City's Lower East Side substituted corned beef for their traditional dish of Irish bacon to save money. They learned about the cheaper alternative from their Jewish neighbors.

The LeprechaunThe original Irish name for these figures of folklore is "lobaircin," meaning "small-bodied fellow."
Belief in leprechauns probably stems from Celtic belief in fairies, tiny men and women who could use their magical powers to serve good or evil. In Celtic folktales, leprechauns were cranky souls, responsible for mending the shoes of the other fairies. Though only minor figures in Celtic folklore, leprechauns were known for their trickery, which they often used to protect their much-fabled treasure.
Leprechauns had nothing to do with St. Patrick or the celebration of St. Patrick's Day, a Catholic holy day. In 1959, Walt Disney released a film called Darby O'Gill & the Little People, which introduced America to a very different sort of leprechaun than the cantankerous little man of Irish folklore. This cheerful, friendly leprechaun is a purely American invention, but has quickly evolved into an easily recognizable symbol of both St. Patrick's Day and Ireland in general.
Fact Check We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, contact us!

Other St. Patrick Day Facts:

St. Patrick's Day is celebrated on March 17, his religious feast day and the anniversary of his death in the fifth century. The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for over a thousand years. On St. Patrick's Day, which falls during the Christian season of Lent, Irish families would traditionally attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon. Lenten prohibitions against the consumption of meat were waived and people would dance, drink and feast—on the traditional meal of Irish bacon and cabbage.

The First St. Patrick's Day ParadeThe first St. Patrick's Day parade took place not in Ireland but in the United States. Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City on March 17, 1762. Along with their music, the parade helped the soldiers reconnect with their Irish roots, as well as fellow Irishmen serving in the English army.
Over the next 35 years, Irish patriotism among American immigrants flourished, prompting the rise of so-called "Irish Aid" societies like the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick and the Hibernian Society. Each group would hold annual parades featuring bagpipes (which actually first became popular in the Scottish and British armies) and drums.
In 1848, several New York Irish Aid societies decided to unite their parades to form one New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade. Today, that parade is the world 's oldest civilian parade and the largest in the United States, with over 150,000 participants.
Each year, nearly three million people line the 1.5-mile parade route to watch the procession, which takes more than five hours. Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and Savannah also celebrate the day with parades involving between 10,000 and 20,000 participants.

No Irish Need ApplyUp until the mid-19th century, most Irish immigrants in America were members of the Protestant middle class. When the Great Potato Famine hit Ireland in 1845, close to a million poor and uneducated Irish Catholics began pouring into America to escape starvation. Despised for their religious beliefs and funny accents by the American Protestant majority, the immigrants had trouble finding even menial jobs. When Irish Americans in the country's cities took to the streets on St. Patrick's Day to celebrate their heritage, newspapers portrayed them in cartoons as drunk, violent monkeys.
However, the Irish soon began to realize that their great numbers endowed them with a political power that had yet to be exploited. They started to organize, and their voting block, known as the "green machine," became an important swing vote for political hopefuls. Suddenly, annual St. Patrick's Day parades became a show of strength for Irish Americans, as well as a must-attend event for a slew of political candidates. In 1948, President Truman attended New York City 's St. Patrick's Day parade, a proud moment for the many Irish whose ancestors had to fight stereotypes and racial prejudice to find acceptance in America.

Wearing Green Around the WorldToday, St. Patrick's Day is celebrated by people of all backgrounds in the United States, Canada and Australia. Although North America is home to the largest productions, St. Patrick's Day has been celebrated in other locations far from Ireland, including Japan, Singapore and Russia.
In modern-day Ireland, St. Patrick's Day has traditionally been a religious occasion. In fact, up until the 1970s, Irish laws mandated that pubs be closed on March 17. Beginning in 1995, however, the Irish government began a national campaign to use St. Patrick's Day as an opportunity to drive tourism and showcase Ireland to the rest of the world. Last year, close to one million people took part in Ireland 's St. Patrick's Festival in Dublin, a multi-day celebration featuring parades, concerts, outdoor theater productions and fireworks shows.

The Chicago River on St. Patrick's DayChicago is famous for a somewhat peculiar annual event: dyeing the Chicago River green. The tradition started in 1962, when city pollution-control workers used dyes to trace illegal sewage discharges and realized that the green dye might provide a unique way to celebrate the holiday. That year, they released 100 pounds of green vegetable dye into the river—enough to keep it green for a week!
Today, in order to minimize environmental damage, only 40 pounds of dye are used, making the river green for only several hours. Although Chicago historians claim their city's idea for a river of green was original, some Savannah natives believe the idea originated in their town. They point out that, in 1961, Savannah mayor Tom Woolley had plans for a green river. Due to rough waters on March 17, the experiment failed, and Savannah never attempted to dye its river again.
Fact Check We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, contact us!

Easy Corned Beef & Cabbage Recipe

This afternoon the littles and I will enjoy a traditional Irish American meal of Corned Beef and Cabbage. I am using Taste of Home's Slow Cooker Corned Beef Supper recipe.

1 onion, sliced
4 carrots, chunked
4 small potatoes, chunked
1 small corned beef brisket w/ spice packet
1/3 c. unsweetened apple juice
2 whole cloves
1 tbls. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. grated orange peel
1/2 tsp. prepared mustard
1 small head cabbage, wedged

Place onion in slow cooker. Top with carrots, potatoes and brisket. Combine the apple juice, cloves, brown sugar, orange peel, mustard and spice packet; pour over brisket. Cover and cook on high 3 1/2 - 4 hours.
Add cabbage wedges; cover and cook 20-30 minutes longer or until meat and vegetabes are tender. Strain and discard cloves; serve pan juices with corned beef and vegetables.
3-4 servings / Recipe doubles well