Monday, October 31, 2011

The Frugal Shopper

I know what you're thinking...who takes pictures of their groceries?!?!
Ha! I do!
 This is what I bought at my favorite store this morning.  I was more than thrilled to get there right as the organic produce sale cart was coming out!  I ran, yes really ran, right over there and filled my cart with all of these fantastic finds.

I recently had a conversation with a friend who was complaining that some of these women find a sale cart and will literally push others out of the way.  It happened to her at this very store!  That is definitely NOT something I would do, never.  I will share gracefully with others; however, if I get to the cart and no one else is's mine for the taking.  Hence, I got all of this for under $17.00!

I know!  There is a ton of stuff here.

4- 3# bag organic apples
4- 4-packs organic tomatoes
3- Organic strawberries
2- Organic raspberries
1- Organic lemons
1- Organic grapes
1- Organic basil
1- Carton organic eggs
1- Bag organic pasta
1- Box organic chocolate rice crispy bars

Now the problem are we going to eat all of this before it spoils?  I have a solution! I am going to make and can, or make and freeze. First on the list, homemade ketchup!  But that will be a whole other post.

Have a fabulous last day of October!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Our Favorite Tomato Sauce

Tonight we are going on a hayride with our church group.  It is an annual thing that we do and it is so much fun.  It is like a big family gathering, much like a Thanksgiving get-together.  Everybody brings a dish to share, there is a huge fireplace in the shelter in which we meet, and two large fire pits right outside for roasting marshmallows.

I am bringing mini quiches and the ingredients for s'mores.  I found organic graham crackers on sale for only a few cents more than the regular brand and I bought Ghirardelli chocolate bars instead of Hershey's for about the same price.  However, I couldn't find natural marshmallows {sigh} and so I had to buy the regular kind.  I know it is for a crowd and most people that will be indulging don't even care, BUT I DO!

Anyway, I will steer away from my rant for a moment and onto my tomato sauce.  It is my hubby's absolute favorite tomato sauce.  He actually will eat it plain, like, by itself.  I have always made it with canned tomatoes, but recently I learned that the inside of the cans are coated with a product that contains Bisphenol A (aka, BPA).  So, that is now out of the question.  I made it using fresh organic tomatoes.  It turned out just a great! 

Beautiful Red Ripe Organic Tomatoes
and an onion

Spaghetti Sauce {Recipe}

2 Tbls Olive Oil*
1 large Onion*, chopped
4 cloves Garlic*, chopped
4 lbs. Tomatoes*, chopped or pureed (I didn't even peel them!)
1 Tbls dried Parsley*
1/2 tsp dried Basil*
1/2 tsp Onion powder*
1/2 tsp Garlic powder*
1 Tbls Sea Salt
2 Tbls Sugar*

1. Sauté  onion in olive oil over medium heat until tender, add garlic and cook another minute. 
2. Add tomatoes, spices, sugar, and salt. 
3. Stir and lower heat until your sauce slowly simmers.  Simmer for about 2 hours, stirring frequently. 


Have a fantastic weekend!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I'd like an order of Genetically Modified Food, Please . . . YUK!

I am sure you've heard of GMO's.  Maybe you know what it is, maybe you don't.  But what you really need to do is avoid it as much as possible, if not always! 
GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organisms, sounds appetizing, right?  Just what you want to be putting into yours and your family's bodies, I'm sure!

This is a very unnatural way to grow our fruits, vegetables, and grains.  Genetically modifying food is actually when humans take an original plant seed (created by God), and change its make-up.  They do this so that they can, theoretically, grow more food at a faster rate. This has been proven untrue.  It is also created in such a way that when they pour on the weed and pest control poison, the genetically modified plant is not damaged.  Again, yummy!

Most corn (corn syrup, corn starch, corn meal, corn chips, corn tortillas), soy (soybean oil, soy milk), canola (canola oil) are GMO. Potatoes and tomatoes are two more highly consumed foods that are, as of late, mostly grown GMO.  Think french fries, potato chips, pizza and pasta sauce, and ketchup.  And don't forget that these things are being fed to the animals we get our meat and dairy from as well!  Here is a top ten list of foods that are genetically modified, from Healthy Child Healthy World.

Well, if you are avoiding genetically modified foods all together, as we are, that list pretty much eliminates most of our family's favorites.  The exception is that organic foods do NOT use any foods that are genetically modified.  Foods that are labeled as "natural", still can and most of the time do contain GMO's.

How our government has let this GMO thing get so big and out-of-control while they turn a blind eye, is beyond me!  Well, not really, I think it has everything to do with $$$$.  Even worse, though, is how people can hear about it and still eat this stuff regularly.  Do I ever cheat?  YES!  But at our home, you will not find it anywhere because I am careful with what comes in these doors!  That means all of the kids' lunches, snacks and our all of our meals we eat here are free of GMO's.
Check out these articles below.  Do some research yourself and find out what is in your food.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Date Night with an Appetizer

Every Monday is date night for my hubby and me.  Well, actually, it's when we watch the show Castle together.  I think that constitutes as date night, don't you?
Anyway, I was fancying it up last night by making one of our favorites...Buffalo Roasted Cauliflower with Homemade Buttermilk Ranch.  It was delish!

This isn't a great picture and it doesn't do it justice!

Buffalo Roasted Cauliflower

Preheat oven to 550 degrees.
Cut head of organic cauliflower into florets.  Wash, pat dry and put into a bowl. Drizzle florets with a bit of olive oil and enough Franks's RedHot sauce to coat each piece.  Toss and pour onto baking sheet lined with parchment.  Bake until edges are crispy and burnt looking, about 30 minutes.
Serve with ranch, I made homemade organic ranch dressing.

Sound good?  If not, you have to try it anyways, because it is spicy and fabulous!  Pretty healthy, too!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Homemade Kettle Corn

He is ready with a full
Today was a busy day.  Well, aren't they all!?!? 
My Little Dude went to work with Daddy today so that I could accompany my Princess Cupcake on her class field trip to the local pumpkin farm.  It is the most beautiful Fall day today and I was thrilled to be able to go with them!
I over heard someone at the farm telling her friend about the kettle corn that they had there.  That is all it took for me to have a hankering for the stuff for the rest of the day, well, at least until I got home and made some!  It really doesn't take much because I love kettle corn! 

Homemade Kettle Corn in super easy and absolutely fantastic.  You should give it a try!

Can you see that sweet and salty goodness?

Homemade Kettle Corn

2/3 cup Organic, Non-GMO Popcorn Kernels
1/3 cup Organic and/or Non-GMO Oil, such as coconut or olive
1/4 cup Organic Sugar
1 tsp Sea Salt

Add oil to large heavy bottomed pot with lid.  Add a kernel of popcorn, when it pops, the oil is hot and ready to pop the corn quickly.  Add the popcorn, sugar and salt.  Give it a quick stir and put on lid loosely.  With potholders, continue to shake the pan gently over heat to prevent burning.  You will know when it's done, because the popping sounds almost stops.  Pour into a bowl and let cool a minute.  Break up any clumps with a spoon or utensil.  Voila!  Kettle Corn from your own kitchen!

Handmade paper cups for the kids' snack.

I am hoping to do a post about the {finished} wedding favors, all 235 of them, that I am making for my sister's wedding, later this week.  It will be a great job done and a relief to finish them a little early.  Then on to finishing the bride-maid's flip-flops!
Have a great week! 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Countdown to Clean Checklists

Check out these awesome checklists from Tidy Mom!  If I followed these lists, my house would greatly benefit.  Probably my sanity as well!  I find that the more organized I am the calmer my life can be, however, try as I might I cannot always get it right rarley get it right!  UGH!  So, I am going to print out these free lists from Tidy Mom and get to it.  Hopefully I can be motivated enough to stick to it, afterall, once you read her sounds so simple!  Thanks Tidy Mom!

Click to download TidyMom Countdown to Clean Lists from

Friday, October 21, 2011

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

It's another cold day here and soup is the perfect remedy for lifting your spirits, don't you think?  This is a creamy, full-of-flavor, healthy soup.  I didn't make it with the croutons that the original recipe called for, as I have homemade bread that I think goes just as well.  This is definitely what I call comfort food! 

I usually send the leftovers with the kids for their lunch, the Thermos seems to keep in warm enough for them.  It certainly is better than the "hot lunch" that is served at school, in taste and nutrition!

Creamy Cauliflower Soup
Adapted from Annies-Eats; originally from Super Natural Everyday by Heidi Swanson

For the croutons:
About 6 oz. whole grain bread, cut into ½-inch cubes
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
Kosher or sea salt

For the soup:
4 tbsp. butter
1 medium red onion*, chopped
1 medium yellow onion*, chopped
Sea salt
3 medium red potatoes*, diced  into ¼-inch cubes
2 cloves garlic*, minced
6-7  cups vegetable broth*
1 head cauliflower*, chopped into  florets
1 ½  cups shredded mozzarella cheese
4 tsp. Dijon mustard*

To make the croutons, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Add the bread cubes to a medium bowl and toss with the melted butter, olive oil, and mustard until evenly coated.  Spread the bread cubes out in an even layer on a baking sheet and sprinkle with the salt.  Bake for 10-15 minutes or until crunchy.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 4-5 minutes.  Season with salt, then mix in the potato, garlic and vegetable broth.  Cover the pot and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat to a simmer, keep covered, and let cook for about 6 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.  Add the cauliflower and cook about 5-6 minutes more, until the cauliflower is tender.  Stir in the cheese and mustard.
Puree with an immersion blender (or a food processor, vented to allow the steam to escape).  Mix in additional water or broth if the soup is too thick.  Season with additional salt to taste.  Serve warm topped with additional shredded cheese and the croutons.

*Organic.  I use organic produce, and other organic foods as much as possible.  Substitute organic, where you can!

He loves soup because he dips bread in it!
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

You might be a zombie if . . .

Check to see if that is you!  This is the funniest thing I have read in a while about some serious things, but at the same time it is so sad.

We get our milk from . . .

Isn't she adorable!?!  Her name is Bessie, I think.

Bessie is one of a small family of cows that live on a small organic dairy farm not too far from us.  We take a little trip out there for our milk (and sometimes eggs,too).  It is raw, unpasteurized organic milk from cows that are only pasture fed.  Your first thought may not be a nice one, but don't knock it until you have learned about all of the benefits from drinking raw milk and the reasons milk started being pasteurized.
We walk around the farm, petting the animals, watching the farmer's wife care for them lovingly. It is nice to know where your food, or in this case, milk, comes from.

How about you?  Where does your milk come from?

Here are a couple of links.  But if you're interested in learning more and making your own informed decision for your family, you can just google it.  Ton's of links are out their for your benefit!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Applesauce-Spice Cupcakes

Fall is my most favorite season.  I love the beauty of the leaves as they change colors, the cooler (but not cold) air, the apples, the pumpkins and mums.  I really do feel blessed to live in the Midwest where we get to experience all of the seasons.  But I am NOT a big fan of winter!  I like it for about a month, then I am ready for summery weather again.  Today, it is so cold and gloomy here!  I needed a "pick-me-up", and an after school snack for the kids.  So, I made the Applesauce-Spice cupcakes that I referred to here.  And girl, am I glad I did!  These are fantastic, moist and flavorful.  Even the kiddo's liked them, which is unusual for them all to agree!  Definitely worth giving them a try! 

Applesauce-Spice Cupcakes
Adapted from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes and Simple Girl at Home

1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup olive oil
4 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 cups unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking soda (Aluminum-free)
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 1/2 cups applesauce or  Pear-Applesauce 

1.     Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. 
2.     With an electric mixer, beat eggs, sugar and oil.
3.     Add dry ingredients and continue mixing.
4.     Mix in applesauce.
5.     Divide batter among lined cups with a 1/4 cup scoop or just eye-ball it. 
6.     Bake for 16 - 20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
7.     Cool completely and then frost.

Brown-Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat ingredients until smooth and sugar is dissolved.  Use immediately, or refrigerate up to 3 days in an airtight container.  Before using, bring to room temperature and beat on low speed until smooth.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Fluoride . . . Most Tap Water has it!

My husband and I have been very reluctant about the use of fluoride for several years now, especially where our children are concerned.  We have been using absolutely no fluoride for them, not in their daily brushing as we use toothpaste sans fluoride, not at the dentist, not at all! 
Now I have been hearing more and more about fluoride recently and it is not sitting well with me at all.  Fluoride has been noted in the causing of cancer, osteoporosis and reduced I.Q., just to name a few.  I have also learned that fluoride is toxic waste, well at least it was.  That was before it was being added to our water supply all over the country, leaving very few cities where fluoride is not added. 
It seems that everybody has an opinion about fluoride and it's safety, it is a very touchy and controversial subject.  In my home, though, we go as natural as possible.  And this is NOT natural!
Check out this link, from our mutually favorite website regarding health, that my husband sent me a couple of weeks ago.  It absolutely disgusts me!
If you're wondering if your water has added fluoride, check out this website:
Personally, I do not want my families drinking water to be fluoridated, so we ordered a water filtration system to remove the fluoride from our drinking water here at home.  The only way to completely remove fluoride from your water is through reverse osmosis. My handy hubby will be installing it as soon as it arrives!
This is yet again, another thing that is not normal to consume or put into our bodies.  Another thing that is swept under the rug and most people don't know about or don't know the consequences of consuming it!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Chunky Pear-Applesauce

When the organic produce goes on sale at our local super-market, I go a little bit crazy.  My kids eat apples like there is no tomorrow, and pears almost as much.  Even with everyone in the family eating that much, I had some that were getting too ripe to eat plain.  So, I thought I would whip up a batch of applesauce.  I have been on a big canning kick lately, plus applesauce is so easy and versatile!

Chunky Pear-Applesauce

6 lbs Organic Apples, diced
3 lbs Organic Pears, peeled and diced
1/4 cup Organic Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Organic Maple Syrup
1 Tbls Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tbls Vanilla
1 tsp Sea salt
1-2 tsp ground cinnamon

Add all ingredients to large pot, bring to a simmer.  Continue to simmer until pears and apples begin to breakdown and turn into the consistency of applesauce, about 40-50 minutes.  At this point you, if you will be canning it, fill sterilized jars and put into water bath for 10 minutes.  Remove jars from water bath and put onto a towel to cool.  Alternatively, you can put your finished product in a container and store it in your refrigerator.
This is the finished product...yum, yum!

I will send this with the kids in their lunches, eat it as snack at home and use it in some upcoming baking.  I have had my eye on a these luscious applesauce spice cupcakes with brown sugar cream cheese frosting.  I love a trying out new recipes and this one sounds fabulous!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Hats for a Cause

Yesterday my Princess Cupcake and I attended a fundraiser called "Hats and High Tea" at our Church.  It was benefiting Halos of Hope, a charity that gives hand-made hats to those who have lost their hair due to the side-effects of chemo therapy.

Pamela Haschke, the president and founder of Halos of Hope, was the guest speaker.  Her story, the stories of some of the recipients of the hats and the stories of those involved in making and donating the hats were truly inspirational.  It is a cause that, for me, I didn't think about prior to attending this tea.  I usually think of the bigger cancer research funds, where you donate money, which can also beneficial!  However, after hearing about Pamela's experience, I realized that maybe this is more important than I initially thought.  Men and Women who lose their hair due to chemo therapy, feel naked, she said.  Now, honestly, if it were me, I would not want to go to the grocery store feeling sick and naked...would you?

So, I have been wanting to make this hat for myself for a while.  It has been on my to-do list for over 3 months!  Even though I am not super great on my sewing machine, I have decided to make a couple for Halos of Hope.  It's not much, but as Pamela said, each hat touches someones life.  Each hat says, "I'm praying for you."

If you are interested in joining me, make a few hats (any type) and send them to Halos for Hope.  Tell your friends and family!  Leave a comment for me and of course say a prayer for those who are suffering with cancer and the side effects to the current treatment, chemo therapy.

I will post an update with pictures when I finish the hats!
Have a restful Sunday.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Nitty Gritty

There are a lot of things we try to keep out of our home.  The list is very, very long and sadly exhausting to keep up with checking labels and constantly having to give something up because of it’s ingredients and/or make-up.
Some of the things we, as a family, steer clear of are:                                                                      
  • BPA-Bisphenol A
  • Fluoride
  • Parabens    
  • GMO-Genetically Modified Organisms
  • PVC-Polyvinyl chloride
  • Phthalates
  • High fructose Corn Syrup
  • Hydrogenated and Partially Hydrogenated Oils
  • MSG-Monosodium Glutamate
  • Aspartame (or any other artificial sweetener)
  • Aluminum
  •  PEG’s- polyethylene glycol's
  • Propylene Glycol
  • Phenoxyethanol
  • Dimethicone
  • Chlorine
The list can go on and on, believe it or not.  Not to mention, that diving into how each of these chemicals effects our bodies would be an entire post each! 
It isn’t easy ready labels, and yes, it’s a bit time consuming!  It is even difficult to find some products without one or more of the ingredients listed above.  But the feeling you get when you know that your family is free of nasty and harmful chemicals is so worth it! 
It is unbelievable and so disheartening that many or most people that I know, don’t know about these things or don’t care to know.  Although, I think it is much harder to know and understand, because once you do, you can NEVER go back.  A blessing or a curse?  I guess time will tell!
One thing I can say, though, is that some people must be waking up!  There are many more options out there than there used to be, locally and online.  I am very thankful for that.

Friday, October 14, 2011

"MAIN SQUEEZE" Bridal Shower

My sister is tying the knot in November and I am the Matron of Honor.  I have a long to-do list for this wedding and was just looking back at some photo's of the bridal shower I threw for her in August.  I had so much fun creating the "look" I was going for and pulling the theme through the entire shower! 
Check out the adorable pics!

Have a great weekend! 
Maybe if I make some lemonade I can pretend it's still warm and summery out!