Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Healthy Sweeteners

Think healthy sweeteners is an oxymoron? It doesn't have to be! There are plenty of nourishing, better-for-you sweeteners you can use to substitute for refined white sugar. One of my goals for this year has been getting rid of refined sugar from our diet. You don't have to go to even one of the best nursing schools to know that this stuff isn't good for you. I have not cooked with it in several months and have adapted most of my recipes to include Sucanat, rather than white sugar. This is pretty easy, since it substitutes cup for cup. I have also been using some real maple syrup. I haven't used much honey because I haven't found a great source for quality, reasonably priced honey. Suggestions?

I have posted several of recipes with sweeteners, and since this week's Ultimate Recipe Swap is themed "sweeteners", I've compiled all my healthy sweetened recipes here for your convenience. Enjoy!

::Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
::Healthified Carrot Cake

::Cranberry Apple Muffins
::Favorite Cornbread
::Super Delicious, Healthy Pumpkin Bread

::Apple Baked Oatmeal
::Hot Chocolate
::Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes

What are your favorite foods to make with sweeteners? Do you use natural sweeteners like honey, sucanat (or rapadura), molasses, and real maple syrup, or do you stick with white sugar?

This post contains a sponsored link. 

Monday, March 29, 2010

Menu Plan, March 29-April 4


It sure is hard to believe another month has already come and (practically) gone. This year is just flying by! I think once you have children, time goes by about 100x faster. Katie is becoming such a "big girl" lately! One plus is she pretty much eats whatever we're eating, which makes meal time a bit easier.

In any case, here's what's on our menu this week. What are you cooking?

Breakfasts: quiche, bacon & eggs, whole wheat banana pancakes, cold cereal
Lunches: grilled cheese & tomato soup, chicken salad sandwiches, salad, leftovers
Snacks: yogurt, fruit, cheese, raw veggies

Monday~Lasagna, steamed vegetables, salad, homemade rolls
Wednesday~Chili, cornbread
Thursday~fellowship meal at church
Friday~homemade whole wheat pizza, salad
Sunday~Easter meal with family

This post is linked to Menu Plan Monday.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Losing It Challenge: Week 4 (for me--it's really week 5)

Well, I wish it weren't so, but this week was another "maintenance" week. Thankfully, exercising is going really well, and I definitely feel better and can tell I'm more in shape even if the number on the scale stayed the same. Hannah, my sister-in-law and I, just finished Week 3, Day 3 of the Couch to 5K plan today, and I've been doing some toning exercises on the days we aren't running, making for a total of 5 days of exercise this week.

I really do want to lose more than 4.2% of my weight, though, so I reckon I just need to bump up my diligence to what it was week 1! I think I'm too dependent on carbs during the day. I'm always reaching for fruit or a whole grain something-or-other for a snack, and I know I'd lose more if I ate protein snacks (or, uh, didn't eat snacks. ahem).

Are any of y'all trying to work off baby pounds? How's it going for you?

Super Savings Saturday: The Lord is Gracious

I didn't get to take a picture of today's grocery outing, but I did want to share some of the deals I got as well as something that's sort of on my heart.

I was thankful today to be able to find several healthy, organic foods reduced for excellent prices at Kroger. I was able to score a pound of organic butter for $0.99 (marked down from $4.99), some organic cottage cheese for $0.99, organic apples $2.19 for a 3 lb. bag, a free box of Kashi cereal, as well as many other things. I left Kroger with a cart full of healthy, nourishing foods for our little family...much healthier than the standard American diet and yet still for less than most families spend on groceries for the week. I was also able to get a package of Pampers for $3.97 after coupons & ECBs at CVS, and some tooth paste for more than free after ECB's.

I headed home from my shopping with a very profound sense of thankfulness for God's providence. We live on a much lower budget than a lot of people. I stay home full-time and my husband's work has been quite slow the past several months. We are working on building him a new website and getting things going with that, but in the meantime, things are lean. Yet, we have a roof over our heads, cozy furniture in every room of our house (I guess besides the bathroom--we don't keep any cozy furniture in there. ha!), a refrigerator and pantry filled with healthy, nutritious, and even mostly organic foods. And aside from our material possessions, we are blessed beyond measure with salvation in Christ and an amazingly wonderful marriage that is the fruit of His grace. The Lord truly is a faithful Father and Provider to His flock and for that, I am so, so thankful.

This post is linked to Super Savings Saturday.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Major Kitchen Fails


Last week, I had a couple of big fat fails in the kitchen--and both in the same day, no less!

I set out to make a quiche for breakfast before Katie woke up. I was getting my ingredients out and realized the only grain I had ground up already was spelt. I had read that with spelt, you should add a quarter cup for every cup of flour the recipe calls for, but I ignored that and proceeded as usual. The result? A crust that would not unstick from the wax paper to save my life! We had crustless quiche for breakfast.

The second major fail of the day came that afternoon. Our pastor's wife was coming over for a visit and I was scrambling around to get the house ready. At the last minute, I decided I ought to bake something. At 12:30, just an hour before she was set to arrive, I drive over to the farm to get this recipe. It looked easy enough, so I jotted it down as fast as I could and rushed home. Once I got here, I wanted to go ahead and grind some wheat to avoid another spelt failure. While the wheat was grinding, I decided to multitask and wash the dishes. When the wheat finished, I went over to start baking and it turned out I hadn't closed the lid to the canister all the way. There was freshly ground wheat flour all over my counter! Major fail!

Thanks to my sweet hubby's help, everything got clean before company arrived, besides one burner that *ahem* still has flour in it.

This post is linked to Friday Fails.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Coconut Oil Giveaway!

Remember the wonderful Tropical Traditions Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil I mentioned in this post? Well, Tropical Traditions contacted me and wanted to offer a 32 ounce jar to one of my readers! For those of you interested in trying out coconut oil, this is a great opportunity.

This giveaway will be open for one week. To enter, simply leave a comment on this post! Easy, huh?

For bonus entries (and as always, please be sure to leave a separate comment for each one!):

::Subscribe to the Tropical Traditions newsletter. They will inform you of specials in their online store.
::Follow Tropical Traditions on twitter. (@troptraditions)
::Follow me on twitter (@mrsmurch).
::Blog about this giveaway and be sure to link to this post.
::Tweet about this giveaway. Be sure to include a link to this post and @mrsmurch and @troptraditions.
::Subscribe to my feed on a feed reader or in your email.

Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose.  Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

So thankful for Samaritan Ministries

In all the grumbling I've done about the health care bill over the last several months (and what conservative, Theonomic Christian HASN'T grumbled about it?!), I do have something to be thankful for. This is from an email we received from Samaritan Ministries entitled "Health care bill update":

The health care bill that was passed Sunday night by the U.S. House of Representatives, often referred to as the Senate bill, contains a provision that exempts members of health care sharing ministries from the bill’s requirement for individuals to purchase health insurance. This is the bill that is awaiting the President’s signature.

While I think the health care bill is ungodly and will likely hurt our nation more than we can know right now, I am so thankful that it looks like we'll be able to stay with Samaritan Ministries despite all the changes in the health care system as a result of this bill. 

For more information on Samaritan Ministries, be sure to check out the post I did about them earlier this year.

What are you thankful for today?

This post is linked to Gratituesday and Things I Love Thursday.


Katie's limited vocabulary is slowly but surely expanding. It is to watch her learning and imitating us! What an amazing blessing my sweet daughter is. Here are some of her favorite things to say. I'm mostly writing this so I can remember it, but I thought some of y'all might enjoy it as well.

"Uuh-ooh." One of her very favorite things to say. She usually says it two or three times in a row. My guess is once for fun and once to make sure we know she needs us to pick it up. But, like I said, it's just a guess. If she can't find something, she'll say "uh-ooh" over and over again until I realize she wants me to help her look for it.

"Daah" Her word for "dog." Since Ben's family breeds labs, she has been around dogs for just about as long as she can remember.

"Daahdee" Of course, her word for daddy. Her emphasis on each syllable is really cute. And, she is always SO excited to see her "daahdee" when she wakes up in the morning and when he comes home for lunch and at the end of the day.

"I" Along with a cute baby wave, this is her greeting. She doesn't quite have the "h" sound down yet.

"Eyes" She learned where her eyes (and mine) are and likes to repeat their name. She also knows where her nose is, but hasn't said "nose" yet.

"Ooooh" and "Woow" She says these when she gets excited about something.

She has also said "bird" and "fish" once each. Every once in a while, she will try to repeat words we say out of the blue. It's really a lot of fun! I try to animate to her what I'm doing as we go about our day, and also try to read to her a lot, to help her learn more words. I often think about how fun it will be when I can have a real conversation with her! But, truly, I'm not in a big hurry for her to grow up. :)

This post is linked to Finer Things Friday.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Kroger Card Winner!

Sorry I'm late in getting this up! But, without further adieu, the winner of the $25 Kroger gift card is Patte F., commenter #43!

I am sending you an email with information on claiming your prize. Thanks to everyone who entered, and keep an eye out for another exciting giveaway later this week!

Healthified Carrot Cake

Remember the carrot cake I made for Katie's birthday? It turned out pretty good, so I wanted to share the recipe with y'all. It's healthy enough I wouldn't mind serving it for breakfast without the frosting. It's best if you leave it in the fridge for a day or two before serving. This seems to make it even more moist and flavorful.

1 1/2 cups Sucanat
1 cup melted butter
3 eggs
2 cups soft white wheat flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups shredded carrots

Heat the oven to 350*. Grease and flower a 9x13 inch baking pan or two 8 or 9 inch round cake pans. Beat Sucanat, butter, and eggs on low for about 30 seconds. Add flour, cinnamon, baking soda, vanilla, and salt and beat for about 1 minute. Stir in carrots. Pour into pan. For a 9x13 pan, bake 40-45 minutes. For round pans, bake 30-35 minutes. Cool completely and then frost if desired. For the frosting, I combined 8 oz. cream cheese, 2 cups organic powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, a about a tablespoon of milk.

I originally got this recipe from my Betty Crocker cookbook and changed it up for our family's healthier ingredient preferences.

This post is linked to Mouthwatering Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Tuesdays at the Table, Ultimate Recipe Swap, and Foodie Friday.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Menu Plan, March 22-28

Here's what's on the menu at the our house this week. I underestimated when I thought last week's groceries would stretch two weeks, so I did have to go to the store again. I came in under budget and got some great deals, though, so it worked out fine.

Breakfasts: Quiche, Bacon & Eggs, Banana Crumb Muffins
Lunch: grilled cheese and organic tomato soup, salad, beans & cornbread
Snacks: Fruit (apples, oranges, bananas), carrot sticks, granola bars, Chex Mix (for Ben--not really conducive to "losing it")

Monday~Fiesta Taco Casserole, steamed veggies
Tuesday~White Chili
Thursday~Italian Cream Cheese Chicken Casserole
Friday~Whole Wheat Pizza, Salad
Sunday~Dinner at the farm

This post is linked to Menu Plan Monday.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Losing It, pt. 3

This week was not quite as exciting as last week in my Losing It Challenge. The scale didn't drop a single pound (which means I didn't either...). However, I am feeling quite good, and exercising is going well. Tomorrow after I jog with my sis-in-law, that will make 5 days this week. I can already tell I'm more in shape than I was. I let more carbs creep in this week, which I think is why I didn't lose any more weight. Thankfully, they were healthy carbs, so I didn't gain any back!

So, as of this week, I am still down 4.2% of my weight.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Coconut Oil

In attempt to add more healthful ingredients to our diet this year, including healthy fats, I have found a new friend in coconut oil, with all of its benefits. It has high lauric acid content, one of the really healthy components of human breast milk. Coconut oil aids in digestion and is a quick, natural energy source. It has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, aiding the immune system.

It is solid at room temperature, making it an easy substitute in recipes that call for butter or shortening. I melt it on the stove to use in recipes calling for unhealthy vegetable oils.  Adding a couple tablespoons to a smoothie makes for a much more filling breakfast. Coconut oil holds up well at high temperatures, making it great for sauteing and frying.

As a side: Coconut oil is 90% saturated fat, which is why it gets such a bad rap these days. I don't really want this post to turn into a debate on saturated fats, so if you're convinced they're bad, check out this link and click around the website some. Let's just say that in our kitchen, you won't find anything low fat. We drink cream-on-the-top whole milk, eat whole milk yogurt, real butter, and full-fat cheese, and don't feel the slightest bit guilty.

In addition to being great in the kitchen, coconut oil is also wonderful for your skin and hair. While I haven't used it much for these purposes, it is something I am beginning to look into and may begin in the near future. Katie's pediatrician in Florida recommended it as an an alternative to chemical-laden diaper rash cream.

You can probably find unrefined coconut oil at your grocery store or health food store. However, buying it online is probably more affordable. I was recently given a 32 oz. jar of Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil from Tropical Traditions to review and have found it to be of excellent quality. It has a pleasant, but not overpowering, coconut flavor and I love using it in recipes, knowing all the wonderful benefits it has for my little family. They often have great sales and occasionally offer free shipping, making for a better deal.

Mountain Rose Herbs also sells 1 gallon of virgin unrefined coconut oil at a very reasonable price.

Have you tried coconut oil in your home? What's your favorite use?

For more information:
::Donielle has a very extensive post.
::Katie has a great post as well.
::Tropical Traditions has a Coconut Oil FAQ page you may find helpful.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Kitchen Tip: Dry Dishes in the Sink

We have a dishwasher, but I still do a lot of our dishes by hand. I actually kind of enjoy washing dishes (gasp!), and I like having most of the dishes clean. It takes a long time for our little family to fill up the whole dish washer. And, I hate running it if it's not full.

I have a dish drain from IKEA and I love it! However, sometimes I run out of room, and it's not big enough for my bigger pots and pans. The solution my sister-in-law suggested?

Clean dishes drying in the sink
Drying the dishes in the sink. She was helping me with dishes one day and did that, and I thought it was brilliant. I do it at least a couple times per day now. I just use one side of the sink for washing and the other side for drying. Plus, I use the hottest water my sink will allow and it helps the dishes dry pretty quickly, because the water evaporates.

So tell me, am I the last person in the world to figure this out?

This post is linked to Kitchen Tip Tuesday and Works for Me Wednesday.

Monday, March 15, 2010

From Grandma's Kitchen: Beef Stroganoff

My Grandma's beef stroganoff is by far the best I've ever had. It is rich, tender, and just really delicious. In addition, it can also be very healthy. It freezes well, too. I love serving it over brown rice, with steamed broccoli on the side.

3 1/2 lb. Beef round sliced in 2"strips.
1 cup butter
6  tablespoons flour*
1 1/2 cups onions**
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 lemon{juice}
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups mushrooms
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 teaspoons Worstershire sauce
2 cloves garlic
3 cubes buillion***
3/4 cup sherry
Optional: 1 1/2 cups cream and 3/4 cups sour cream
Baste meat with lemon juice, roll in flour and fry in 1 cup butter until brown. Add the onions and saute until golden. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook until tender.

*I use Spelt flour and it works fine
**I leave the onions out because hubby doesn't care for onions. I think they are a wonderful addition, though.
***I make it with stock instead of water, leave out the bullion, and add a little extra salt.

This post is linked to Mouthwatering Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Tuesdays at the Table, Real Food Wednesday, and Foodie Friday.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Menu Plan, March 14-20

After all the grocery shopping I did this week, our pantry and fridge are bursting at the seams. :) Here's what we'll be eating this week:

Breakfasts: Quiche, Breakfast Casserole, Bacon & eggs, cold cereal with bananas, whole wheat banana bread

Lunches: Salad with grilled chicken breast, chicken salad sandwiches with carrot sticks and apples, grilled cheese and tomato soup, leftovers

Snacks: whole milk yogurt with real maple syrup and fruit, True North snacks, granola bars, raw fruit and veggies, and Ben will probably have some Chex Mix (as I've said before, we keep the vast majority of our food very healthy--because of that, we're comfortable with an occasional unhealthy treat when it is purchased almost-free).

Sunday~at the farm
Monday~Fiesta Taco Casserole, steamed veggies
Wednesday~Chili with cornbread
Friday~homemade pizza, salad

Since we have a little family, making three dinners each week and having leftovers from each meal is working really well for us right now, so that's what I'm doing. I try to make sure to plan ahead and reheat things in the oven or on the stove to avoid microwaving our food all the time, though.

What are y'all eating this week? And, just out of curiosity, how many dinners do you make every week? Do you ever eat leftovers for dinner?

This post is linked to Menu Plan Monday.

Christ's Work, Not Mine

 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; 
that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. 
2 Corinthians 5:21

How easy it is, even for those of us who believe in salvation by grace, to look at our own works and secretly  hope they will bring us into a better standing with God. Not all the Bible reading, prayer, and evangelizing in the world can change it. Christ became sin for us sinners, that we might be made righteous. Our works, no matter how great they seem, do not amount to anything in comparison.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Super Savings Saturday and a GIVEAWAY!

This is a the result of my grocery shopping this week. I made two stops at Kroger, 1 stop at a discount grocer in the "big city" when we went into town, and 1 stop at CVS.

When I stopped at the discount grocer, I got a liter of extra virgin olive oil, two bags of organic whole grain pretzels, five large cans of organic tomato soup, and (ahem) a package of fruit rolls for Ben. My total was $18. While we were in town, I also grabbed a few pounds of Sucanat from the Health Food Store.

My stop at CVS left me with 4 boxes of cereal, a Gillette Fusion men's razor, 2 packages of True North snacks (really tasty and a pretty unoffensive ingredient list), a tooth brush, and a box of Wheat Thins. The total before ECBs, sales, and coupons was almost $40. I spent $8.30 out of pocket and have $5 ECBs for next week!

Stop 1 at Kroger yielded two bags of organic tortilla chips, a can of tomato paste, and organic apples. It was about $5. Stop 2 at Kroger, I got most of what is pictured. Kroger is running their Cart Buster Special through today, and they have many name brand items on good sales. Combined with coupons, this makes for some great deals! I was given a $25 gift card by General Mills and Kroger through My Blog Spark to check out the sale. After coupons, sales, and the gift card, my total was $49 for most of what you see pictured!

The groceries we got this week combined with what I already had in the fridge, pantry, and freezer, should be able to last us for at least two weeks. I may need to go out and get some more fresh produce and milk at some point, but other than that, we're set!

Here's where the fun comes in--you have a chance to win a $25 Kroger giftcard thanks to Kroger and General Mills, through My Blog Spark! To enter, just leave a comment on this post. The winner will be announced next Saturday. For additional entries (be sure to leave a separate comment for each one!):

 ::Tweet about this giveaway. Be sure to link back to this post and @mrsmurch me so I know.
::Follow me on twitter. I'm @mrsmurch.
::Subscribe to my RSS feed through e-mail or a feed reader.
::Blog about my giveaway. Be sure to link directly to this post. Leave a link to your post in your comment.

This post is linked to Super Savings Saturday, Giveaways Galore, and Femina Freebies.

Losing It Challenge, 2

I am quite pleased with how Week 1 of my challenge went. My goals were:

::No sweets. I stuck to it! :)
::Limit Carbs. Most days, I definitely ate fewer grains and more vegetables than I usually do.
::Exercise 6 days. Today will be day 4. I did the Shred once and started the Couch to 5K plan with my sister-in-law. Today will be Week 1, Day 3.

The result? I'm down 4.2% of my weight this week!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Can't do it all, and that's okay

Some mornings I don't make the bed. That's okay. Thankfully, I have a comfy bed (that's comfy even if I forget to make it) to sleep in (and a wonderful, godly husband to sleep next to!). Sometimes (okay--frequently), the laundry piles up higher than I'd like. That's okay. Thankfully, we have clothes to wear--and enough of them that we can still put on clean clothes when the dirty ones are piled up high. And, thankfully we have a washer and beautiful weather so I can hang clothes up to dry.

Some nights, I leave the dishes for the morning. That's okay. Thankfully, we had food and dishes to eat it on. And, more dishes to eat breakfast on even if the dinner dishes aren't clean. Some days, you'd walk into my kitchen to find plastic ware on the floor. Thankfully, Katie can walk (and has figured out how to open cabinets ;). Most days, there are toys on the floor, and some days, they don't get picked up. That's okay. Thankfully, Katie has toys to play with.

Every day, I am so thankful for a sticky mouth to wipe, sweet little hands to wash, an adorable pudgy belly to tickle, songs to sing, cardboard books to read (8 zillion times :o); so thankful for the precious little girl the Lord has entrusted us with to raise for His glory. So thankful I can stay home with her and enjoy her.

Every day, I am aware these days will one day only be a memory and my sweet baby will be a young woman. And that's why sometimes the bed isn't made, the kitchen isn't spotless, the clothes need washing, and there are toys on the floor. And, that's also why it's okay.

This post is linked to Gratituesday.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Signs of Spring

Spring skirts and bare feet...
 Got this adorable Children's Place skirt for $1 at Good Will!

A lovely, sun-lit field with no snow...
The view from my kitchen window

My clothesline put to good use once more...
I love cute baby clothes on the line! :)

From Grandma's Kitchen: Quiche Lorrain/Cheese Custard Pie

I have fond memories of eating this quiche on Christmas morning at my Grandma's house. It is a fluffier quiche. It's filling, healthy, and oh-so-delicious.

Grandma's Quiche:
-1 pie crust (try Tammy's whole wheat pie crust--that's what I used this morning and it was so, so good!)
-3-4 pieces cooked and crumbled bacon
-1/2 cup Swiss cheese
-2 cups milk
-3 eggs
-salt and pepper to taste

Place pie crust in pie plate. Sprinkle with bacon and Swiss cheese. Grandma said she also adds some chopped ham if she has any ham on hand. I used cheddar this morning because I didn't have Swiss on hand. In a saucepan, scald milk (get it as hot as possible without boiling). Let it cool and beat in eggs. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bake at 350* for about 35-40 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

This post is linked to Mouthwatering Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Tuesdays at the Table, and Ultimate Recipe Swap.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Menu Plan, March 7-13

Here's what's on the menu at the Murch house this week: 

Breakfasts: breakfast casserole, eggs & bacon, quiche
Lunches: salad with grilled chicken, chicken salad sandwiches, grilled cheese with tomato soup, broccoli/cauliflower/cheese soup
Snacks: yogurt (plain whole milk yogurt sweetened with a touch of real maple syrup is sooo good--and it's healthy and filling), apples, carrot sticks

Sunday: dinner at the farm
Monday: beef stroganoff with brown rice, salad, steamed veggies
Tuesday: leftovers
Wednesday: hamburgers, homemade baked potato wedges, steamed green beans
Thursday: leftovers
Friday: dinner with friends
Saturday: whole wheat pizza (I cannot recommend this crust recipe highly enough! After having it several times, my hubby has said it is his favorite pizza in the world), salad

As a side note, I used Money Saving Mom's new menu-planning downloads in my planning this week and found them quite helpful!

This post is linked to Menu Plan Monday.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Super Savings Saturday: Kroger, CVS, and Macy's

I was able to get some pretty good deal this week. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get a picture because my camera was at my in-laws' house, so you'll just have to picture some lovely deals in your mind's eye.

Mom and I went to Macy's on Monday and found they had a bunch of racks for 70% off. I found a really nice sweater, and was planning for it to cost about $12, but it rang up for $5! It was originally $30. Apparently it was 70% off the sale price instead of 70% off the original price.

I went to Kroger today and spent $50 and saved $14.29. It's not the highest percentage, but I was happy with what I got for that price. It also includes a $2 deposit for a glass milk jug. We've started buying non-homogenized milk from a local dairy. When we finish the milk, I'll just return the jug and get my $2 back.

-organic whole wheat bread for $1.49/loaf
-$0.99 for a package of Pampers Sensitive wipes. I combined a sale with a $0.50 coupon (which doubled at Kroger)
-$0.99 for a pack of batteries (also combined sale with a doubled coupon)
-$1 for a pound of ground chicken. It was reduced for quick sale.
-$0.50 for a package of Chex Mix (a treat for hubby, since I'm trying to shed some pounds)
-organic apples for $0.69/lb

At CVS, I did two transactions. I needed to get another deodorant and another tooth paste in order to get $5 more ECBs (wasn't thinking right--when I put my list together, I was thinking I'd get half the ECBs if I got one item instead of two). Despite that, I'm still decently pleased with how it went.

Transaction 1:
  • Speed Stick Deodorant-$2.25 w/ coupon
  • Colgate Tooth Paste -$2.00 w/ coupon
  • Gain Detergent-$5.49 w/ coupon (got $2 ECBs)
  • Irish Springs body/hair wash-$3.99 w/coupon (got $4 ECBs)
  • Schick Titanium Razor-$9.99 (will be FREE after mail-in rebate)
Transaction 2 (used $6 ECBs from Transaction 1, so I only paid $2.49 out of pocket)
  • Quilted Northern 12 Roll Pack TP-$5.49 w/ coupon
  • Finish Dishwasher Detergent-$3.00 w/ coupon
If I am near CVS before the sale is over, I'll go ahead and get another tooth paste and deodorant to get those $5 ECBs.

Did you get any good deals this week?

This post is linked to Super Savings Saturday.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Losing It Challenge

A week late, I've decided to join in on the Losing it Challenge, hosted by Giving Up On Perfect. A year after Katie's birth, I don't think I can blame her for the high number on the scale anymore, and I really have to do something about it. For my health, to be as attractive as I can be for my husband, and because if the Lord gives us another baby, I don't want to gain another 40 pounds on top of the weight I have yet to lose. I'm not so much joining in for the possible prizes as I am for the accountability. So, I'll be checking in with how I've done and (hopefully) weight lost every Friday.

Here is my plan:
::No sweets, period, as of today. Hold me to this, y'all. Sweets are my downfall. I'm also going to avoid white flours--the only exception would be if we were invited to someone's house for a meal and they served something like spaghetti, where the refined flour couldn't be avoided.
::I am going to limit my intake of grains and carbs in general, and focus on eating healthy fats/proteins and vegetables. I am not committing to a complete grain elimination because I am still nursing and want to make sure my milk supply doesn't diminish.
::Do something for exercise six days per week. Maybe I'll do the Shred, or maybe I'll go on a walk with Katie if the weather permits. But, something. My day off will be Sunday.

What have y'all done to get rid of post-pregnancy pounds?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

2010 Goals: March Update

::Daily devotions. This is going much better. Though I'm still not at the point where it's first thing every morning before Katie wakes up, it has been happening at some point most days, and for that, I'm thankful!

::Memorize the book of John. I have memorized through John 1:18.
::Complete a Home Management Binder. I have made some progress in this. I have a schedule and cleaning schedule written out, and am working on a meal planning section. Look for more on this later this month.

::Lose weight. I have not lost a pound yet this year. It's frustrating, and the only reason is my lack of motivation. I have a plan though, and will be posting it on Friday, for some extra public accountability. I am beginning to feel somewhat anxious about getting rid of these Katie pounds--it is certainly well past time.
::Improve the quality of our food. This is going well. We are eating almost all organic, or at least hormone/antibiotic free when it comes to meat. I have started buying nonhomogenized milk, and some raw organic cheese. Additionally, I have experimented some with soaking my grains.
::Finish 6 classes. I am almost finished with two, leaving me with four to finish during the rest of the year. I should have these two done in the coming weeks.

::Get on a budget, set aside an emergency fund, pay off debt. My husband's business has been pretty slow lately, so compiling an emergency fund is not progressing very quickly. We are doing pretty well with keeping our spending under control, but still don't have our exact budget figured out yet.

So, that's it so far. I haven't had as much success as I had hoped, but some is better than none, I do suppose. How are you progressing on your 2010 goals?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I stayed an extra day...

We got a surprise snow yesterday. There are worse places to be stuck than Grandma's house... :) The snow all melted today, and Lord willing, I'll be heading home tomorrow. I have really enjoyed the time with my Grandma, but I am certainly looking forward to seeing my wonderful hubby!

One Million Arrows: Book Review

Will the world change our children...or will our children change the world? Time is short and lives are at stake. Right now, God is inviting our families to become part of a bigger story—a vision that will engage hearts to make a radical difference. One Million Arrows is an inspirational call to raise our kids to impact their culture, community, and world for Christ. If we want our kids to discover their purpose, if we want them to live with passion for the Kingdom, if we want our family to go down in His-Story, accept the mission...and leave a mark for eternity.

Nothing is more important to me than raising my child(ren) to advance Christ's kingdom and impact our culture and the world at large for His glory. If I succeed at anything in my life, I hope it is raising Katie unto that end. Lord willing, she (and any other children the Lord may see fit to give us) is my legacy. She and her children after her can advance Christ's glorious gospel long after I am gone.

One Million Arrows does an excellent job of encouraging parents to that end. One of my favorite chapters had stories from several parents who successfully raised godly children. They shared things that worked well for their families, and I think we will probably try some of their suggestions out with our little family.

One of the main gentleman in this book is Papa, an Indian man who has devoted his life to rescuing children from the slums of India and raising them up to serve Christ and bring the gospel back to their villages. He has started several churches, hospitals, and schools. He has made it his life goal to send out one million arrows for Christ. His example is one Christians should follow. If the Church as a whole would educate the next generation, rather than leaving the educational system to the government, I believe it would change the course of our nation dramatically.

There was some content I did not agree with in One Million Arrows. One of the chapters seemed to indicate the reason we ought to raise godly children and send them out to preach the gospel to all nations is so the world could end and we could get to Heaven sooner. We advance the gospel unto the glory of God because we're commanded to--not because we can get something out of it. In addition, some problematic ministries were endorsed, such as those of Bill Bright and Billy Graham. I believe these men propogated serious error; their message was lacking in the absolute necessity of repentance in the life of a Christian.

Over all, though, I certainly enjoyed and was very encouraged by this book. It was a relatively easy and quick read that packed quite a bit of punch. I would certainly encourage parents to read it. As with any book, with discernment and apply what is biblical to your life. On the One Million Arrows website is much helpful information and lots of resources for raising your own children as well as helping those who are raising orphans for Christ in other countries.

The first chapter can be previewed for free, and the book is available for sale on Amazon.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of One Million Arrows for review. I was not compensated in any way to write this review and the opinions in it are mine. This post does contain an affiliate link.

Cheapest Pampers EVER

The grand total for these 235 Pampers? About $25! This brings the price per diaper to about half of what the Kroger brand costs, and I just love Pampers. Amazingly, I didn't have to leave my house to get them, and they arrived overnight for free!

If you haven't ordered from yet, you really need to check it out. Here's one deal option:

::Go to Add to your cart one extra large pack of Pampers Baby Dry diapers for $45.99. If there is a coupon box, be sure to check it for $1.50 off. Then add a jumbo pack for $9.99. This will bring your total to $55.98 ($54.48 if you used the coupon). Any orders above $49 qualify for free shipping!
::When you go to check out, use the code covhome to get $10 off your order.
::Mail in this rebate to get $14.97 back!

If you're not using diapers, this would be a great chance to stock up for baby shower gifts. also sells wipes, baby food (including Katie' favorite organic puffs!), clothes, and just about any other baby gear you can imagine. In order to use the covhome code, you do have to have some diapers in your order, though. You can also mail your manufacturer coupons in to get credits on your account.

This experience has definitely made me a permanent customer! Let me know if you try it out.

I tried to get a picture of Katie with the diapers since it would be cuter. I wasn't able to get a very good one, but here is one of my attempts.

HT to Money Saving Mom for suggesting this great deal!

This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday and Things I Love Thursday.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Blog Parade!

So, I decided to participate in the 32nd Street Blog Parade hosted this week by Abigail Kraft. There are some pretty nice giveaways lined up, and it should be fun to "meet" some new bloggers! If you are new to Covenant Homemaking, welcome, and thanks for stopping by!

I'm Mary Jo. I'm a follower of Christ and have been married to the love of my life for almost two years. We have one sweet daughter, Katie, who just turned one on Friday. God has truly blessed us with a wonderful life and we are so incredibly thankful! Here is a not-so-recent family picture. :)

Now, for the questions:

1. What's your favorite time of the day, and why?
If I have had a good night's sleep, I really love the early mornings. I love getting up and reading my Bible and getting breakfast going before Miss Katie wakes up.

2. If health wasn't an issue, what food could you live off of?
Perhaps oreo dessert (speaking of which...Grandma has some in the freezer that may be calling my name in a little bit). Basically, during my pregnancy with Katie, I really developed a liking for chocolate. Especially rich, dark chocolate. Delish!

3. If you could have one wish granted (besides wishing for more wishes), what would it be?
I would wish to be the best wife and mom possible, unto the glory of God. This is an area which I know no matter how much I work to improve, I'll never be perfect. But, I'd love to be.

4. What's one thing that you get teased about a lot?
I have an amazing ability to ask way too many questions. But, hey, I like to talk...and if you won't talk back, I can do my best to make you. ;)

5. If you could choose one movie, book, or TV show to spend your life in, which would you pick? What type of character would you be?
Truly, I love my life and I can't imagine it being any different. :)

6. If you could have one talent that you don't already have, what would it be?
I'd love to be able to write music.

7.If money were no object, where would you go on vacation?
If I could have any vacation I wanted, I would go on a tour of Europe to see all the amazing locations that were important to the reformation.

8. If you were an awesome singer, which genre would you sing?
I love hymns, and really enjoy listening to them. So, probably hymns.

9. If you could have a $10,000 shopping spree to one store, what would it be?
Hmm...that's tough. Perhaps Amazon, since I could get just about anything I could imagine!

10. If you could live in any point in time, when would it be?
Maybe during the time of the Great Awakening in America, as long as I could bring my family!

11. If every outfit in your wardrobe had to be one color, what would it be?
That's tough...probably brown or black.

12. If you were one of the seven dwarves, which one would you be?
Maybe Happy. Or Grumpy. Depends on the day.
13. What's the last album you listened to?
Bless My Baby Girl. Such a sweet CD of baby girl lullabyes. Our Pastor's wife gave it to me when Katie was baptized.

14. What's something we'd be surprised to know about you?'d probably never guess that I enjoy listening to Christian (Reformed) rap!

It was good

Katie had never had dessert before her birthday. She thoroughly enjoyed her cake. In my defense, it was made with freshly ground soft white wheat, organic butter, organic carrots, and sucanat. It did have a cream cheese frosting made with organic powdered sugar--and only half what the recipe called for! :o)

This post is linked to Wordless Wednesday, Wordful Wednesday, and Finer Things Friday.

Monday, March 1, 2010

From my Grandma's Kitchen: Ham Loaf and Raisin Sauce

We made it to my Grandma's house tonight just in time for a delicious dinner of ham loaf, sweet potatoes, and green beans. Grandma has been making ham loaf for as long as I can remember, and it is really good. So, here is the recipe for your tasting pleasure. Grandma says she always makes two loaves because it freezes very well. Leftovers are also really yummy on sandwiches.

Grandma's Ham Loaf:

-2 eggs
-1 cup milk
-2 cups fresh bread cubes
-1/4 teaspoon cloves
-2 teaspoons salt
-1/2 teaspoon pepper
-1/2 lb. ground beef
-1/2 lb. ground pork
-1.5 lbs. ground ham

In a bowl, combine eggs, milk, bread, and seasonings. Let stand until the bread is soft. Mix in the rest of the ingredients. Pack into a greased loaf pan. Bake at 350* for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Pour off fat and bake 15 minutes more.

This raisin sauce makes a delicious topping for the ham loaf. It is pictured above.

Mix 1/2 cup brown sugar (I'm sure Sucanat would work if you wanted to use it), 1 teaspoon dry mstard, 2 tablespoons cornstarch, and slowly stir in 2 tablespoons vinegar. Add 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1.5 cups water, 1/2 cup raisins, and 2 tablespoons butter. Cook until thickened.

Menu Plan, March 1-7

Who else can't believe it's March already?! I'm blogging from the car right now. I'm with my Mom and we're headed to spend a couple days at my Grandma's house before Mom and Dad head back to Florida. Katie is zonked out in the back seat. I'll be heading home Wednesday, and life should be pretty normal for a while after the almost week-long festivities surrounding Katie's birthday.

Anyway, here's what's on the menu at our house this week.

Breakfast~Mom made arepas. We served them with bacon and pineapple
Lunch~Out with Mom
Dinner~At Grandma's

I'll be at Grandma's house through Wednesday lunch. Ben has some healthier cereal for breakfast, and various leftovers for lunch and dinner. I'll be fixing some chili and cornbread for dinner when I get home.

Breakfast~bacon & eggs, toast, fruit
Lunch~salad with grilled chicken
Dinner~leftover chili

Breakfast~crustless quiche, fruit
Lunch~salad with grilled chicken
Dinner~hamburgers, homemade fries, steamed green beans

Breakfast~bacon & eggs, toast, fruit
Dinner~homemade pizza, salad

Breakfast~leftover quiche, fruit
Lunch~snacks at church. I'll be bringing carrot sticks and homemade dip.
Dinner~at the farm

This post is linked to Menu Plan Monday.