Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Garden Update

I'm excited to have been able to plant my cabbages and get a little bit of lettuce started in my garden. Of course the day after I planted the weather report says a hail storm is coming. My hubby and I ran down to the garden as things were looking bad and put some gutter pieces over the cabbages to try and save them. As it turned out the hail never came and all was fine. They are doing great now.

Oh how we loved the dry warm sunny days! Hubby got lots of property work done and even took the first swim of the season..

And as I mentioned the cabbages were planted...

I have a little box that hubby made me in his shop to start my seeds. It is small and limited but I've made it work and was thankful for a place to start seeds. I recently asked if there was a way to expand what I had just a little to allow more room when I transplant my seeds. Just like that he made a few quick adjustments and doubled my space. I'm so excited. I now can fit 4 trays instead of 2...

In the above pic I have hot peppers, tomatoes, zinnias and watermelons growing. After a quick visit to see my in laws last week my mother in law gave me a whole tray of seed starts that she had planted and did not have room for. I was thrilled!! That added more tomatoes and more cabbages. I hope to have the cabbages in the garden next week and then most everything needs to be transplanted into bigger pots.

How's your garden coming along this year?


Monday, April 25, 2016

Menu Monday!

It is one of those weeks where I seem to be out or running out of everything. Grocery shopping is high on my list! I've been making a list for the last several days writing down everything I've either run out of or am about to run out of. Funny how that works sometimes.

My menu for the week is fairly basic. I have family coming to visit by the end of the week so I'm planning an extra meal to make sure I have all I need.

Tonight we are having leftover bbq chicken legs, coleslaw and macaroni salad that I made yesterday. The rest of the week is looking like this:

Pot Roast Dinner
I have a beef pot roast in my freezer that I want to use up (oh the things I find when I reorganize my freezer! Ha, ha). I'll serve this with carrots and potatoes of course and either green beans or a salad.

Honey Garlic Chicken
This is a recipe I found on the internet. I'll check it out first and see what I think and share it if we happy with it. It sounds pretty good to me. I plan on serving it with rice and broccoli.

Rainy days in the forecast call for a nice pot of chili. I'll either make corn bread or serve tortilla chips on the side. And a nice green salad.

Sweet Pork Tacos
OK, this is a recipe that has been floating around the internet for a while now. It uses Coke. I am not a fan of recipes that use soda pop.. but I've heard so many rave reviews on this and how wonderful it is that I am going to give it a try. It actually sounds like a nice change from hamburger tacos. I'll serve it with all the typical trimmings and probably pick up some avocados as well to either serve on the tacos or make some guacamole.

That should be plenty of meals for the week!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Bone Broth to the Rescue

 My son was sick on Sunday. He felt horrible. Running a fever, achy muscles, stuffed nose, cough.. all clear signs of the flu.

I jumped into action :). I got some bone broth out that I had in the fridge, peeled a few large cloves of garlic and cut up some of the chicken I had from making the broth.

I chopped up the garlic, heated some water up and poured that over the garlic to let is soften up. Then added some bone broth (it's pretty concentrated so it needs the extra water added). I added the chicken and at last minute threw in a big scoop of my homemade cream cheese (for the probiotics).

He drank that down and said he was feeling a bit better. His nose and head were cleared up a bit more. On Monday he stayed home from work because he still did not feel great. That afternoon I made him another big cup of the same mix. After that he slept for about 3 hours and woke up and said he had sweated up a storm and felt so much better. Yesterday was day 3 of this and he headed back to work. Still has a bit of a cough and runny nose but feels so much better.

Was it the bone broth? I would like to think it certainly helped! A 3 day flu? I'm sold.. ha, ha..


Monday, April 18, 2016

Menu Monday!

We are having some beautiful weather here in the PNW and that makes my Monday even better. I have a walk and garden work in my plans for today. It will be raining again in a couple of days and I figure it would be better to do my grocery shopping then.

Tonight's dinner will reflect the fact that I'll be outside most of the day! :) I have some orange chicken and egg rolls in the freezer (thanks to Costco) and either some fruit or a salad will go with this.. I'll figure that part out when I get there.

Last week I tried something new to me. I made cream cheese. It turned out good but not quite what I wanted so I'll be tweaking it and trying again soon. In the mean time I had a huge amount of cream cheese to use up. So instead of one of my planned meals I made alfredo sauce with meatballs, it turned out yummy. This week I plan to share my cream cheese making with you.

For now here is the plan for the rest of the week..

Ham & Cheese Bread, tomato soup
This was on the menu last week and did not get made. It is a variation from my pepperoni bread recipe. I'll use ham and cheddar cheese instead. I have some tomato soup base that I canned up last summer and plan to use that to go with the bread. And of course I like to add fresh veggies to most meals so a green salad or a veggie platter will also be on the menu.

Crockpot chicken & stuffing
This is a recipe I found on the internet. Looked simple, quick and easy. It does use boxed stuffing which I rarely use but every now and again it can make life run a bit more smooth. I'll serve green beans on the side. I'll share it if it turns out good.

BBQ chicken legs
I guess this warm weather streak has me thinking summer like foods. So baking a pan of chicken legs w/bbq sauce and serving baked beans and macaroni salad with it sounds like the perfect summer time meal. It will probably be raining the day I make this, but it will keep me hopeful that summer is just around the corner.

That should do it for this week!!


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Stay at Home Wife?

In today's society the thought of a woman without children or whose children are grown and gone, staying home to care for the home is almost unheard of.

I remember meeting a lady at a gathering that I had known several years ago. She asked me about my family and when she found out my youngest son was done with his homeschooling her first question was, “Are you working now?”, followed by, “What are you doing with your time?”. It was clearly a concept that was not familiar to her.

Being a stay at home wife is not a new concept. My grandmothers did not work outside the home, even after their children were raised. They continued to take care of their husbands and home.

I do admit to feeling a little lost when I realized that my job of raising and homeschooling children was done. I did reflect on my life and direction. Some women have aspirations to go to school or learn a trade and work outside the home when the children are gone. Some women need to for financial reasons. Some women may feel a societal pressure on them to go out and work. Personally I did not have those types of goals or needs. I remember talking to my husband about it and wondering if maybe I should think about a part time job. He said to me, I love the fact that you are home when I get home, that you adjust your schedule to mine, that we have our weekends together. Finally after all these years we have time to spend together. I love the fact that you keep the home clean, the meals you cook, I love knowing that our home is taken care. I would be very sad if that changed.

When you have children at home that you are raising it makes your purpose at home clearly defined. Purpose can get a bit hazy when you realize that you are done with this job. Now what is the purpose?

There is still purpose in being a homemaker even when the children are not the primary focus. Being your husbands helpmate and homemaking tasks are still needed. The key for me was to pray and ask the Lord for His wisdom and point me in a direction that still reflected my desire to love and serve and focus on valuable use of my time. As always the Lord is faithful and has done just that.

The Lord has shown me many ways to reach out and serve my family. It may be as simple as just more time spent with them, more phone calls, it has been meals, time caring for my grandchildren to give mama a break, etc. I've also been able to focus more on personal goals that I just did not have the time for when I was busy with children (such as getting fit, learning how to knit), and of course more time with my husband which has been a blessing to both of us.  Not to mention there are still gardens to tend, canning to be done, animal care, cooking & baking and all the small things that go into making a house a home.  I find my days very full and I am enjoying it more than I expected.

I realize that being a stay at home wife/homemaker is a small majority of women. It is not something everyone can do or desires to do. Because of this I rarely see encouragement directed towards women who choose this path. It is a worthy path to follow, it is not something new and strange :), it is an old path with its own blessings.


Monday, April 11, 2016

Menu Monday!

Happy Monday! It's menu day here on the blog. This week my week is looking pretty mellow and I hope to get not only my meals made but a batch of chicken stock and feta cheese started. And maybe a new batch of fermented veggies. With the upcoming rainy forecast for the week I'm thinking I'll be spending my time inside.

Now for the meals I have planned for the week..

Chicken tacos
Chicken breasts, salsa, cream cheese all tossed into a crockpot and cooked until the chicken shreds. Fill up taco shells or tortillas and all the trimmings. Yum!

Meatloaf is a favorite around here. I think I'll serve this with some potato salad and green beans. I think of this combo as delicious comfort food.

Fried cabbage and onions with sausage
Or I could use kielbasa or chicken with this. Depends on what I end up finding on sale when I shop for the week. Dinner rolls or biscuits and a salad will be go along with this meal.

Ham & Cheese Bread, tomato soup
This is a variation from my pepperoni bread recipe. I'll use ham and cheese instead. I have some tomato soup base that I canned up last summer and plan to use that to go with the bread. And of course I like to add fresh veggies to most meals so a green salad or a veggie platter will also be on the menu.


Friday, April 8, 2016

Fitness is a State of Mind

I have never viewed myself as a physically active person. As a child I detested P.E., I never enjoyed softball, soccer, or any other type of sport. I loved to read, go camping with my family, swim a bit and ride my bike. As I got older my dad started running and I would join him occasionally, but usually because he was asking me to. I did find I did not mind running but it was not something I was really drawn to at the time. As a young mom of 2 kids I took up running again. My dad, in an effort to encourage me, would come over to my house several times a week and watch the kids so I could run. I enjoyed that. As the years went by and I had more children the opportunities to get out and run were no more and I felt raising children was activity enough.

I still never saw myself as a person who enjoyed getting out and being physical. I would make efforts now and again to try and get some exercise. I would take a class, or pop in a workout VHS tape off and on. But it was usually short lived.

Fast forward to last year and I saw myself as I'm starting my 50's and out of shape, tired often, lethargic often, and it was depressing. I also looked ahead and wondered if in 10 years will I be dealing with health issues resulting from lack of physical activity, be on medications for health issues (which seems far to common nowadays). That was a picture I wanted to avoid at all costs. I made a goal to do something about this. As I've shared in other blog posts beginning last year, my first goal was simple. Get up off the couch and move. Walk more, do more, get involved in life in an active way.

I've come to realize that being physically active is more about how I view myself and who I am. Instead of viewing activity as an enemy I need to over come or remembering how many times I've tried over the years and failed, I began to view it differently.  I want to be a physical person, I want to see myself as an active person was my new plan. It may not seem like a huge difference in thought, but it is. It is a mindset that can change the person I am.

For many people being physical is part of who they are. They don't find it a challenge or an enemy, they find it to be a part of how they would define themselves. That is what I wanted to see happen to me. And the beauty of it all is that is what I am seeing happen.

Usually fitness is combined with some other goal such as weight loss and when we don't see the desired results we want, we give up. Or the other scenario is we see how out of shape we are and jump into something too fast, injure ourselves and say, whoa this is not for me. Either way or for whatever reason we view it as a failure and are hesitant to want to try that again.

But what if fitness had no other goal than being fit, building strength and becoming more active? What if the goal was something that you could not fail at? Doing a little more in life as you are able and viewing yourself as a physical person are what will begin to make changes to your state of mind. What I have seen is simple but amazing, activity breeds more activity and inactivity breeds more inactivity. The more you move, the more you will want to move.

I truly believe the secret to beginning is to find something you love doing. If you don't like exercise classes then don't take one :). Find what you do love. I have a friend that loves to hike and gets together with friends often to go hiking. I have another friend that loves to swim, another that runs, several friends that walk or ride bikes. Try a few things and see what makes you happy and encourages to be active regularly.

I walk because it is simple. I started walking because I knew it was something I could easily do. I did not need any equipment other than a good pair of shoes. With that I began to walk and it was challenging but it felt so good to get out and move. Exercise helps so many things. I no longer feel lethargic or tired.  When I get up and move each day I feel happy, healthy and desire to move some more.

One thing that has been a huge motivation to me is my FitBit. It has been exciting to not only push myself a little more but to have a great way to visually see my progress. To set goals in steps has meant my focus has been on simply moving. Even on days I might be tired or feeling lazy I stop and think.. “gotta get some steps in today”.. and I get up and get moving. I've been faithfully using mine for a year now. I can not tell you how much I truly love it and how it has been such a huge motivation to me.  I highly recommend if you are needing a little extra motivation and a simple way to track your progress.  {affiliate link}

Becoming a physically active person begins with a state of mind (if we desire and chose this) and can grow to become a part of what defines us.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Spring is Here and a Garden Update!

We've had some beautiful weather lately, finally! Last week I took full advantage of it. I spent as much time outside as possible. After a very wet and gray winter the sunshine and warmth was so motivating. I took several long walks, walks with my grandkids, and spent time cleaning up my garden.

Last fall my garden ended and we were busy and by the time I had time to go and get it all cleaned up the rainy season had started. So there it sat all winter. Last week I spent about 4 hours just pulling up stuff and clearing it out in preparation for rototilling.

My hubby did a lot of mowing and has started cutting up the trees that fell during one of our winter storms. After a few days of dry weather the ground was dry enough to do the first run through with the rototiller.

This was the mess I was dealing with...

After a lot of elbow grease here is what I have now..

My seed order arrived a couple weeks ago and that always gets me excited as well...

I transplanted my cabbages that I had started a few weeks ago. It looks like I should have about a dozen cabbage plants. I also planted some tomato seeds and some hot pepper seeds. They are currently germinating.

Here are a few pics from my walks and time with my grandchildren..

I shared this one my FaceBook page but just have to share it again, because it is so sweet. My baby grandson is fascinated with grandpa's tractor. When he was here last week he grabbed grandpa's hand and pulled him over to the tractor so he could get on it and 'drive' it. Grandpa was all over it..

How is your garden coming along? Do you see signs of spring in your area?


Monday, April 4, 2016

Menu Monday!

Time for the weekly menu! I had to do some rearranging in my freezer which was good as it gave me time to reevaluate what I have and do a little menu planning around that.

I started over the weekend by making a batch of chicken broth with one of the whole chickens I had in the freezer. I'll be using the meat from this and some of the broth as well this week.

For the meals I have planned I intend to make double batches so we can eat on these meals for a couple days at least. With the upcoming beautiful weather I'm looking to spend as much time outside as I can and not worry about about meals each night.

Here is my plan for the week..

Crockpot chicken bacon chowder
This is a yummy soup! I'm making a big batch today and will be serving it with a nice big salad and crackers.

Kalua pork
I found a pork roast in the freezer that I had bought on sale a couple weeks ago and decided this was the best use for it. I'll serve a macaroni salad and a green veggie packed salad with this.

Chicken pot pie
I plan on making it over the weekend. A nice big pan of chicken pot pie sounds really good to me. I'll use the chicken and stock that I made from my recent batch of chicken broth for this. I always like including fresh veggies with most of my meals so a salad on the side will round out this dinner.

That should do it for the week! How's your menu planning coming along for this week?


Friday, April 1, 2016

What is Healthy Eating?

Whether I talk to people, read articles, watch TV, or see magazine covers I see someone's version of healthy eating. But they can often be so different. Some say low fat is the way to go, or carb free, high fat, count calories, take lots of supplements, low protein, high protein. So what exactly is the healthy thing to do?

I've come up with a view on healthy eating that works for me. I've also seen that the drive to eat healthy can lead to obsession and be out of balance at times,  at least that is my opinion. After reading a lot over the years, trying many different things I came to the conclusion that while food and what we eat does need our attention and thought, it should not be what rules our lives. We need balance. I strive to eat a well rounded healthy diet. But last week hubs and I went away for a few days and we enjoyed a lot of different foods that would not normally be on my list. The week before my daughter and I took the kids to the science museum and then I treated everyone to Wendy's burgers and fries afterwards. It was fun and made memories. I don't eat like that on a normal day to day basis and this, to me, is called balance.

As the years have gone by I've changed the way I cook a bit. But it's just called adjustment as my family has grown and moved on I no longer need to cook like I did and have found what works for me.

Here are my current healthy eating guidelines that I try to follow for me and hubby....

Lots of fresh fruit and fresh veggies: we both eat a lot fruit and salads (full of fresh veggies) are an almost daily part of our diet

Good quality healthy fats: I only use 3 types of fat. Butter, coconut oil and olive oil. I do not believe, from my research, that a low fat diet is healthy. Our bodies need fat to function properly. I'm not talking the complete reverse and eating a high fat diet.. all things in moderation and balance.

Protein (meat, fish, poultry, eggs, cheese): I think a moderate amount of protein in the diet is best. By that I mean I personally aim for about 60 grams a day. If protein is lacking I have found I will get hungry sooner after a meal, I crave sugar, and I just have that empty “I'm craving something but don't know what” type of feeling. When I get adequate protein in my day I don't have those issues.

Carbs: carbs are bread, grains, cereals, potatoes, sugars, etc. While I'm not low carb, I will more often than not bypass a lot of them at meals. I eat small amounts of carbs because, well, they're good!! Ha, ha.. but if I make the above foods my focus when I eat I rarely have a lot of desire for 'carby' foods. Because of that I don't really stress if they are whole grains or not.

Water: Water, water, water!! Drinking water is so important! I drink 6 to 8 cups of water a day. I've found the easiest way for me to make sure I get my water in each day is to carry it around with me. I always have it by my side reminding me that I need to take another sip. I have several 16oz bottles that I keep filled up and in the fridge. So they are always handy to grab and drink.

And finally I like to think of the following foods as power packed nutrition that more and more I like to make a point of adding to my daily diet.

Bone broth: Bone broth is so healthy! The minerals added to my diet by drinking a cup of broth each day are amazing. I have felt the difference in many areas.

Cultured dairy: I'm not much of a milk drinker. It's not that I have an issue with milk, I just don't have a big desire for it. But give me some homemade feta cheese and I'm all over it! :) And the whey I get from making cheese has become like gold to me. I use it in smoothies, add it to my drinking water, make lemonade with it. Yogurt and kefir are also good cultured dairy products. I think homemade gives the best quality of cultures. All those good cultures really go a long way to promote good gut health. So many issues nowadays could be vastly helped with improving gut health.

Fermented Foods: I've recently started making them again. I use to make them regularly but I got side tracked on many things (and this was one of them) as I was launching all my kids into the world. A small amount of fermented food in the diet each days does wonders for gut health (those healthy probiotics again!) and provides digestive enzymes to help keep our digestive system functioning at its best. 

As I've been working to incorporate these foods into our diet I've found a nice little system that seems to be working. Once every 2 weeks I make a batch of chicken stock in my crockpot and make a batch of feta cheese. A big jar of fermented food (such as sauerkraut) will last us 3 to 4 weeks and I'll be putting that into the rotation now. None of these things takes a lot of time to make. If I have it in my plans and on a schedule I find it easier to make it a regular part of our diet.

In the end finding a workable balance for eating a healthy diet is the key. It should be a part of our lifestyle to keep our bodies fit and give us the energy we need to accomplish daily life.