Monday, May 31, 2010

Menu Plan, May 31-June 6

I'm popping in real quick to share our plan for the week with y'all. I'm finally getting back in the swing of things, and have figured out there are certain meals that pretty much always sound good, so I'm just going to work those into our menu. That way, I don't decide at 5 o'clock that whatever I was planning for dinner sounds totally gross. :)

Breakfasts: baked oatmeal, biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs with meat and toast

Lunches: leftovers, turkey sandwiches (finally found nitrate free lunch meat at Kroger!) with fruit and veggies on the side, grilled cheese and tomato soup

~Monday: BBQ Chicken and all the typical summer sides with the family at the farm
~Tuesday: Beef Stroganoff with brown rice and steamed veggies
~Wednesday: hamburgers with homemade fries and steamed veggies
~Thursday: date night
~Friday:leftovers or something with chicken (depending on how I feel)
~Saturday and Sunday: at the farm

What are y'all eating this week?

This post is linked to Menu Plan Monday. Deals

I've heard from a couple friends that some people who have ordered from recently have free $5 credits in their accounts. Be sure to log in and check yours!

If you do have a credit (or even if you don't!), there are a couple coupon codes out that could make for some great deals. Typically, gives free shipping on all orders over $49, but if you use the code MAYFREESHIP, you can get free shipping on any order over $25. You can save 15% off a single item by using the code MAY15PCT. Also keep in mind, will accept manufacturer's coupons by mail.

If you have never ordered from, be sure to use the referral code COVHOME for $10 off any order. I've been so please with the service we've received from The last order I placed arrived over night even though we live in the middle of nowhere and most overnighted packages take more than just one day to reach us.

Thanks, Money Saving Mom!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Surviving the First Trimester: Simplify

My first trimester is quickly approaching its end (less than two weeks--woohoo!), but in the last several days, I really feel like we've finally gotten into a rhythm that is meeting the needs of our little family despite my fatigue and occasional nausea (so our days are smoother and our house is cleaner than it was in this post!).

Several weeks ago, I sought advice from friends about how to deal with the discomforts of the first trimester while keeping up with a very busy toddler, in addition to other household duties. The best advice anyone gave (thanks, Amy!) was to go into survival mode--get everything out of my schedule that wasn't necessary and focus on getting the most important things done. It took me a while to figure out exactly how to do that, but simplifying our life and getting into more of a routine (albeit a simple one) have been great for our whole family.  In the midst of this, Ben started a new job away from home leaving me without a car several days per week. Though inconvenient at times, this has proven to be a blessing because it forces me to spend most of my time at home.

When trying to figure out what had to stay in our schedule, I came up with a list like this:

~three nourishing meals every day, plus snacks
~clean dishes, floors, clothes, and bathrooms
~time with Katie
~time with Ben
~basic errands (grocery store, bank)
~time for school work
~time on the computer (for blogging, freelance writing, and e-mail)
~time to REST
~exercise (still working on this one...)

Really thinking through what absolutely had to get done and what things could go was really helpful, and is something I think I'll reexamine regularly even once I'm back to my normal self. Is this something y'all do very often?

Next week, I'm planning to do a 'day in our life' post to show you our new routine, as well as a great giveaway! :)

This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday.

Baby Bump, 10 Weeks

When I was pregnant with Katie, I had nothing to show at 10 weeks. This time around? Yeah...that's about how big I was at 4 months with Katie. I'm one of the few people (maybe it's because I'm just 20?) who gets all excited about showing, so I don't mind a bit!

And as a side, I have not gained any weight during the pregnancy yet, so it really IS a baby bump...not a Mary-Jo-is-getting-fat-and-blaming-the-baby bump. ;)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Gratituesday: A Heartbeat

I have so much to be thankful for this week! We were able to meet with a wonderful home birth midwife yesterday for a consultation and are planning to move forward with her. I had my first prenatal appointment with Katie at 7 weeks, 3 days. I definitely see the importance of good prenatal care in addition to having a qualified midwife at our birth. I'm really happy with our decision and can't wait to start seeing her for regular prenatal check-ups!

Perhaps even more exciting than choosing a midwife, though, was getting to hear our sweet babe's heartbeat for the first time! Since I'm 10 weeks today, the midwife thought there was a chance we could hear, so we gave it a shot. Sure enough--a sweet, twice-as-fast-as-mine heartbeat. Of course I knew there was someone in there, but hearing the heart beat was such a joy and comfort to this mama!

"...My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name." (Luke 1:46-49)

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Friday, May 21, 2010

How to Buy Organic Foods on a Tight Budget: Guest Post

 This guest post was written by a dear friend, Daphne. She is a Christian homeschooling mom of three so far. When she's not tending to her children or working on their family homesteading efforts, she supports the family's at-home business as a freelance writer. 

Photo Credit

You may have a desire to buy organic food for your family, but during tough economic times, it may seem impossible. That’s a myth that’s debunked every day, by ordinary families who face many of the same challenges and difficulties that you do. The difference is that God by His grace has revealed a truth in their spirit that you cannot discern in the flesh: Multi-generational faithfulness, which is the calling of all Christian families, can only be achieved in part by the diligence of God’s people to abstain from things that will defile their bodies. You shouldn’t view buying organic food for everyday use or for long term food storage as optional, but as a sacrifice you make to be healthy and to be around long enough to be used of Christ to build His Kingdom. 

Where to Start
The starting point for any decision in life is God’s Word. He’s told us, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Christian families are perishing slowly all around us, for lack of vision.  Most churches today don’t share the biblical vision of Christ’s righteousness filling the entire earth in time and in history, and the role of the family to work towards that. The churches that do preach on it don’t make the connection to the need of God’s people to avoid chemicals in the food and water supply. Non-organic foods contain pesticides and harmful chemicals and toxins that weaken the immune system, cause severe gut issues and negatively impact the brain. Organic foods are free of much of those toxins and chemicals, and you’ll be healthier if you consume organic foods. It’s not a savior, only Christ is. However, He commands us to not defile our bodies. Willingly eating non-organic foods when you have a choice is doing just that. 

So, where to start…Prayerfully ask your husband to write a vision statement for the family, that incorporates the physical health of you, you children and their children. Here’s one example:

“Our family is a vessel to be used of the Lord for His glory, and our pledge to Him is not to be gluttons, but to eat and drink the best quality foods and water available. We look to His promise ‘not to put the diseases of those in Egypt upon us’ as a result.”

Once you have a vision based on God’s Word for His people, and their role to “enter the promised land,” you won’t want to eat any other way again. You’ll stop poisoning your family with your cooking, and you’ll make the sacrifices necessary to have the money to pay for it. 

Some of you are already pinching pennies and you’ve given up on finding any more areas. There’s always room for improvement, and making changes to live a more frugal life is an on-going process.  Some of you have not even begun to simplify your life and reduce spending, and you can see big results by making a few changes. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, consider making these sacrifices for the sake of your children, their children and God’s kingdom:

·         Dads who work outside the home: start a family home based business and make a plan to work in your business full-time
·         Dads who work at home: start a second business, one that incorporates your entire family
·         Moms who stay at home: help your husband run the family business
·         Moms who work outside the home : go home and help your husband run the family business
·         Single Moms: start a home based business and seek the help of your church for additional support as needed

Before going further, you may be wondering what starting your own business has to do with making a sacrifice, and getting the money to buy organic foods. Isn’t this the worst time to launch a business because the economy is so bad? Working towards strengthening your family economy with a family enterprise is the biblical way. Moms are to contribute to the household by running a home business (Proverbs 31) and Dads are to lead their families in working together (Deuteronomy 6, Ecclesiastes 11). Your goal should be to build three, four, five, or 11 income households, based on everyone in your family working in the family business. 

More Sacrifices
Here are more sacrifices that you should be making if you aren’t already:
·         Sell the furniture, appliances, electronics, tools, clothing you don’t absolutely need on Craigslist, or have a yard sale.
·         Sell books on Amazon, including theological books that you’re not actually applying in your life.
·         Substitute eating out at restaurants with friends and other Christian families for biblical hospitality.
·         City dwellers: grow an organic container vegetable garden indoors and outdoors
·         Town dwellers: grow an organic container vegetable garden, plus a raised bed garden if possible.
·         Cut your entertainment expenses by 75 percent; find free and low cost ways to entertain your family.
·         Stop overpaying for insurance, including homeowners, car, renters and life insurance. Change to the minimum insurance you need in each category, and not the bells and whistles that an agent sold you.
·         Buy shares in a Christian health sharing ministry as an alternative to health insurance if possible, like Samaritan Ministries. It’s permitted under the new Healthcare laws, and it’s a biblical approach to taking care of the health needs of your family and others.
·         Work towards reducing your electric bill by 10%, then 25%, then 40% and finally 50%. Learn how to conserve energy, and consider the use of portable solar panels to charge smaller appliances, laptops and batteries.
·         Raise your own chickens and goats. Even city dwellers can raise chickens in some areas.
·         Buy clothes from yard sales and moving sales. Thrift stores are charging much more for clothing than they used to, but you can still find some good deals.
·         Learn how to sew. Mending garments saves money, and making your own is cheaper only if you buy materials cheap. Yard sales and moving sales are also a good source for cheap fabric and sewing supplies. Keep your eye out for clothes that you can buy cheap and alter, such as converting a mini skirt into a tiered skirt, or old bed sheets into “new” pillowcases.
·         Get rid of cable and satellite television…period.
·         Prepare meals for your husband to take to work if he works outside of the home, so he doesn’t have to buy meals.
·         Cook as many things as possible from scratch to save money.
·         Buy organic bulk ingredients for immediate use and for long-term food storage. Don’t buy cheap canned food storage that will make you sick in the long run.
·         Stay home more. Don’t go from house to house. You’ll save money on car fuel and you’ll avoid the temptation to gossip.
·         Start a homeschool supplies swap at your church or homeschool co-op to get free materials, if there isn’t already one. Buy used books and supplies to save costs. Find free resources (and there are many) on the Internet, and make your own unit studies.
·         Learn and implement online marketing practices for your business to reduce the costs of traditional marketing methods.
·         Wake up early or stay up late when your children are sleeping to earn money as a freelancer or earn more revenue in your home business.
·         Find out all the local farmers who grow and sell organic foods and products and buy from them. Find leads at the farmer’s market.
·         Make household products from scratch, such as window cleaners, soaps and laundry soaps.
·         Barter with family, friends and neighbors for goods and services. Apply the money you save to buy “real food.”

Everything on this list requires more of your time, energy and a change in lifestyle. That’s why they’re sacrifices. Why do any, some or all of these? You will have the cash you need buy organic foods, live healthier and be used of God for His glory. You’re doing it for Him. Ask Him for the grace and comfort it takes to make these sacrifices and do His will in every area of your life. 

This post is linked to Frugal Fridays at Life as Mom.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Surviving the First Trimester: Healthy Eating

One struggle for me so far during this pregnancy has been making sure I'm eating everything I need to eat to make sure Baby and I make it through these nine months healthy and strong. When you're tired, sick and have ever-changing aversions and cravings, eating healthfully can definitely be a challenge. Nevertheless, a nourishing diet during pregnancy is really important and can prevent a lot of complications during later pregnancy and childbirth.

Our eating habits have changed a lot since my pregnancy with Katie, and I'm not willing to fall completely off the real food bandwagon just because I feel yucky (and especially since what I'm eating directly impacts the health of my precious baby!). From my research, the Brewer Pregnancy Diet is a good plan to follow. While my diet is certainly not perfect, the following are some of the things I've done in recent weeks to survive the first trimester without turning into a junk-food junkie. Hopefully it can help some of you other pregnant mamas who are in the throes of morning sickness!

::Don't freak out. Don't spend your time obsessing about checking off all the items on a list of foods you're supposed to eat in a day. While you should try your best, many (if not most) women have a hard time eating everything they're supposed to in the first trimester, and their babies turn out fine. If your diet is mostly healthy, but you eat the occasional popsicle frozen fruit bar to ward off a vomiting episode, it's probably not the end of the world. Try to take a good quality, food based prenatal vitamin, like Rainbow Light to help supplement any deficiencies you may have in your diet.

::Focus on protein. As far as I'm concerned, getting enough protein is one of the most important aspects of a healthy diet during pregnancy. In addition to being so important for the health of the developing baby, a high protein diet can help prevent blood-pressure related problems at the end of pregnancy. I try to eat at least 80-100 grams of protein per day, and I've been amazed at what foods have decent amounts of protein--it's definitely not just meat! The 100% whole wheat bread I've been getting has 5 grams per slice, an ounce of cheese has 7 grams, and the list goes on! If you make a slight effort to eat foods with protein, it doesn't take a whole lot to get up to 80-100 grams, and eventually, counting protein becomes second nature as you learn the amounts in the foods you eat most often.

::Don't buy junk. No matter how badly you crave something unhealthy, if you don't have it, you can't eat it. Just walk on past the delicious smelling donuts at the grocery store bakery and resist. Often, you can find a healthier option that will satisfy a craving. For example, if you have a few moments when you feel up to it, bake up a batch of healthier cookies or brownies and eat a small one when you have a craving for something sweet that just won't go away!

::Allow some wiggle room in your grocery budget. I know for some people this is not an option, but if it is, it's something to consider. If you have some extra, you can buy that pineapple you wouldn't normally buy because of the price but have such a craving for, or the red bell pepper that sounds so good. A little extra also allows for more meat in your diet, which, if you can stomach it, is great for getting extra protein. Dark chicken and red meat are also great for keeping your iron levels up. Just be sure not to over-buy, because if you're anything like me, what sounds good today might be repulsive tomorrow!

What are you doing/have you done to survive the first trimester while still eating healthy, nourishing foods?

Photo Credit

This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Menu Plan, May 17-23

Last week, we ate several of our meals with my in-laws since we had family in town. They're heading back to Florida tomorrow, so after a family meal tonight, we'll probably return to eating most of our meals at home this week.

~Apple Baked Oatmeal
~scrambled eggs, sausage/bacon, whole wheat toast

~beef hot dogs on whole wheat buns, fresh fruit & veggies
~sandwiches (peanut butter & banana or grilled cheese)
~employee & family BBQ lunch at Ben's new job

~Beef Stroganoff, brown rice, glazed carrots
~Summer Pasta Salad (hopefully we'll have a nice, hot day this week)-from the $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook
~Cheeseburger Pie (from the same cookbook), mashed sweet potatoes (with lots of butter, sucanat, and cinnamon!), steamed green beans
~at the farm

For (lots!) more menu plans, be sure to check out OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Can I blame it all on double mommy brain?

What a week! Between being tired and not-all-there from growing a little one in my tummy and chasing a VERY active(!) toddler all day, I think my brain is all but gone. This week was just completely full of fails (not the least of which were blog posts written and left unpublished!). Throughout the week, I've been compiling a list in my mind, but I can't seem to remember them all (another fail--I *have* to write these things down), so here's a sampling...

::The week started off with drying the one load of laundry I did last week (Did you catch that? I only did one load of laundry last week, and it sat in the wash for almost a full week.). Today, I finally started making my way through the huge, massive, unbelievable, worst-it's-ever-been pile of laundry in our bedroom. A lot of it doesn't fit in the hamper, so it's just a big mess on our floor. Romantic, no? I have actually had to go into my maternity clothes and wear a couple shirts because I was completely out of shirts! To add to the lovely atmosphere in our bedroom, I made the bed today for the first time in a couple weeks (ahem).

::Just in case that's not enough, in my fridge is a crockpot full of beans that I cooked to bag up in 2-cup portions and freeze. Problem is? I cooked them before I went to Florida April 13 and I ran out of freezer bags and wasn't able to freeze them before I left. The month old beans are still a highly reactive first trimester gag reflex a good excuse for just leaving them?

::About a week ago, I decided to stop using my nonstick pans in favor of my healthier stainless steal cookware. This week, I've managed to burn my large skillet and my medium sized sauce pan to the point of needing to scrub them with something more than a soapy sponge and/or scrubber, except I don't have anything to do the job. Should I use steel wool or something else?

::Now for my mommy fail of the week. When I'm pregnant, I sleep really soundly. My sister-in-law, her husband, and their sweet baby boy are visiting and our guest room is right next to Katie's room. Apparently last night, Katie cried (screamed?) from 12 to 1, and then again at 4, and I didn't hear her at all! So, she kept our company awake all that time (and also woke up their baby) and I didn't hear a peep. In fact, I woke up this morning so pleased that she had slept a full 11 hours. Ha! Maybe it's time to hook up the baby monitor?

And to think that's not the full list! Maybe it's best I forgot some of my fails for the week lest I scare you all away... ;)

For more fails, head over to Friday Fails at My Blessed Life.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

My Grandma

There is another mother in my life who deserves recognition and honor--my Grandmother. My Dad's Mom has been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember. The first few years of my life were spent living just down the road from her, and included countless hours spent at her house. Once we moved out of state, visits to Grandma's house were(and still are) such a wonderful treat. Many precious memories have been made at her house at the top of the hill.

My Grandma is not only loving, kind, thoughtful,and an amazing cook--who always goes out of her way to make our favorites when we visit. She's a godly woman; in fact, she's the first person who introduced me to the wonderous truths of the gospel, and though I don't believe I was genuinely converted until my early teenage years, I know her influence on me was a huge part of what the Lord graciously used to draw me, as well as my parents, to Himself.

I remember talking with Grandma before Ben and I were married about all our plans and dreams, and she said to me she hoped she was still around to see some of the children we were hoping to have. I am so glad she is, and truly, seeing my Grandma with my sweet baby girl brings me unspeakable joy--and living closer to her is one reason I'm so thankful to live where we do. I and my children have every reason to be eternally grateful to the Lord for my Grandma. In fact, when Ben and I found out our first child was due right on her 80th birthday, there was almost no discussion about what girl name would be best. And since she is a girl, our sweet daughter bears my Grandma's name--Katie Lee. If our sweet Katie turns out to be a godly woman of her Grandma Katie's caliber, we will know we did our job, by God's grace. Her name gives her quite the legacy to live up to.

As I've gotten older, my Grandma has gone from being just Grandma (and all the wonderful things that accompany such a well beloved phrase!) to being one of my dearest friends, and a godly woman I have enormous respect for. To her, her influence may not seem very far reaching, but when our whole extended family is together and I look around at all the people there who love the Lord, it's amazing to think that most of them were influenced by her on behalf of the gospel--and our dear family, should the Lord tarry, represents many thousands in generations to come who will, by God's grace, faithfully serve Christ, in part because the Lord was kind enough to make us Grandma's descendents.

Even though it's a couple days after Mother's Day, Happy Mother's Day, Grandma. I love you, and am more thankful for you than I can begin to say.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Two Years

Two years ago today, I married my very best friend. I am so thankful the Lord brought us together! 

I love you more than I can say, Ben Murch. Happy anniversary!

PS: I should be back to normal blogging later this week. Between morning sickness/all day fatigue and having out-of-town family visiting, I've been plum busy and kinda worn out. :) "See" y'all again soon!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Mother's Day Tribute for my Mom

Just about everyone says they have the best mom in the world...but as far as I'm concerned, they're all wrong but me. :) Since holding my sweet baby girl in my arms for the first time 14 and a half months ago, I have grown so much in appreciation for my mom. I've learned of (some of) the sacrifices of motherhood, and remember my mom making them with so much joy and loving and supporting me through it all.

I realize more and more everyday that my mom is one of God's most amazing gifts to me. Since many miles now separate us, talking on the phone has had to replace our frequent get-togethers and weekly dinner out. As I've grown and matured into a wife and mother myself, my own mother has truly become one of my very closest friends. She is a constant source of encouragement and I have become the woman I am largely because of her influence on me.

There was a time in my life when I took my mom for granted. I thought (like so many foolish teenagers) that I knew it all and needed to teach her a thing or two. Not any more. My mom is an amazing woman; she's a faithful servant of Christ, an amazing wife (and excellent example for me), an amazing mom, and now, a wonderful Grandma. I could not have asked for a better mom than the one the Lord gave me; she is certainly a blessing I don't deserve, but I'm so thankful the Lord was kind enough to make her my mom anyway.

I love you, Mom. Happy Mother's Day.

This post is linked to Finer Things Friday.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

My Sweet Katie

At just over 14 months, Katie brings so much joy (and excitement!) into our lives. Watching her grow and learn is certainly one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. She is mostly happy (and obeys "no" usually--though certainly not always. We're working on it!), which has been really nice since I haven't been feeling my best lately. Just this week, she has learned to throw away trash, put toys away, and kiss boo-boos (which she is happy, also, to point out on mommy & daddy, and of course, herself!). She says "bye-bye" (more like "buh-buh") and "baby" ("buh-bee"), and loves to pick "owers" (flowers) from the yard. And, one of my personal favorites--she has finally taken to calling me "Mamamamama" consistently!

I have been amazed at how quickly she's been picking up new words and concepts lately, and I am trying to do my best to nurture that, as well as enjoy my time at home with her as much as I can. I am learning every day how fast time goes by and how quickly she'll be all grown up (*sniffle*)!

This post is linked to Wordless Wednesday (even though it's not so wordless!).

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Homemade Seasoned Oven Fries

I used to always buy frozen fries to bake at home, not realizing how simple (not to mention so much healthier!) it was to make my own from scratch. I originally got the recipe from my Betty Crocker cookbook, but have tweaked it some.

 Dinner tonight. I'd been craving a burger for days. It was so delicious!

1 teaspoon salt (I use sea salt)
1/2 teaspoon Sucanat (sugar would work, though)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
a dash of cayenne pepper (optional)
shredded cheese (optional)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3-4 potatoes, cut into wedges (I usually cut each potato into 8 wedges)

Put the potato wedges in a bowl, and pour some olive oil in, making sure to coat the potatoes. Mix the seasonings together and add them to the potatoes. Spread potatoes on a cookie sheet and bake at 425* for 25-30 minutes. Sometimes, I broil them for a minute or two to crisp them up a little better before we eat.

This recipe literally takes less than 15 minutes to throw together, and even using organic potatoes, it costs just a little over $1 to make enough for our family. I love making a healthier version of something we love for so cheap!

This post is linked to Tasty Tuesday,Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, and Ultimate Recipe Swap.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Cascadian Farms Giveaway Winner

Sorry I'm so late on announcing this! The winner of the Cascadian Farm gift pack, provided by Cascadian Farms and MyBlogSpark is...

Commenter #3, Annie from! Congratulations! I will be sending you an email with information on how to claim your prize.

Thanks to all of you who entered!

Menu Plan, May 3-May 9

Here's our plan for this week. Most likely, it will change several times based on my aversions and cravings of the moment. But, it's good to have a plan anyway.

~Bacon and eggs with toast.
~Soaked Baked Oatmeal
~Cold cereal

~Leftovers or snacks (fruit, veggies, cheese, etc)
~PB & Banana sandwiches
~Creamy Macaroni and Cheese. Doesn't this recipe look amazing?

~Grandma's Beef Stroganoff with brown rice and steamed broccoli
~Hamburgers with homemade fries, corn on the cob, and maybe even homemade baked beans
~Saucy Broccoli Chicken Bake
~Dinner at the farm

For hundreds of other menu plans, check out OrgJunkie!