Friday, March 30, 2012

Thursday, March 29, 2012

a no-spend update



I feel like March has gone very well. I am adopting new behaviors in place of a old ones. There have been a few challenges. So many things broke this month! We opted to repair instead of replace in most instances (really good in my opinion), but wow, we had to spend a little money. That's okay because we offset the costs by selling a few items on Craigslist that were hanging around needlessly. As I'm typing I realize how much I like that - clearing out the unnecessary and making a little money - yay!
My personal spending, which is never much, has stayed minimum. It's more of the habit of treasure hunting, not the money being spent, that I want to be keenly aware of -  the amount of time I'm spending doing it. That's where the big savings is seen, in my time. I am terrible at time management, and when I am juggling too many kid activities, and spending a lot of time messing around, I get a little stressed. Being deliberate about my time helps me stay sane. When I do need a little personal time, I take it, that keeps me sane too.
So far, this month has done exactly what I wanted it to do. We have saved some money, but more importantly, I am more deliberate. I think more about where my money and time is going. Priorities.

April will be clear it out month.
The sun will (hopefully) be shining, and I will be energized enough to get some Spring cleaning done.

Have a blessed day,
Tami

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

made me smile


Eric was very busy at work today :~)
He created this in Photoshop and posted it on Facebook for a good laugh.
What he wrote was very sweet, and so very true.
I made a very wise choice I do believe.

Here is what he wrote:
"It just occurred to me that if you absolutely, positively want to know if the person you’ve decided to spend the rest of your life with is a good choice; you can ask yourself one simple question. Would you choose that person as your apocalypse buddy? If your answer is yes then you have chosen wisely. If your answer is no then take a good long look at that person and if you’re thinking “Yep, this person is zombie food” you may just want to rethink your relationship. I’m just saying."

Have a great evening, Tami
 

children's books


I was looking through our well loved collection of children's books the other day. We have a large bookshelf in the dining room (really our dining room functions more as a library). We have spent years filling the shelves with mostly thrifted books. When my kids were really little and I needed to give them incentive to join in on one of Mama's treasure hunting trips, I would offer to let them pick out a book. A house full of books was easier for me to rationalize than a house full of toys and trinkets. As the children are getting older, and all reading on their own,  I mourn those days a little bit. Many of our picture books sit untouched. In an effort to muster some picture book love, I suggested that we choose a few books per night and read our way through our entire collection. It did get their attention for a few days.
Because I simply cannot resist, I keep bringing home picture books from the library. I love them. The kids all want "chapter books". If it has chapters, they want to read it. As the shelves fill with chapter books and novels, my practical side tells me to weed through the picture books and let some of them go. There are powerful memories attached to some of these books. I have a particular weakness in keeping them because I do not have a single book from my childhood. I do have a very sentimental grandma though, that saved a few of my Dad's books for me.

{As always, when I write like this, I am working things out in my head.}

I fully admit that the picture books at this point are mostly for me, in a feeble attempt to keep the kiddos little for a bit longer. There I said it.

I honestly believe that when they are grown they will be happy that we kept their favorites. This would have been my wish for my childhood books.
This is what I will do. I will keep these books for my children, and the most loved, I will keep for my grandchildren. I need not be in a rush to weed through them. I like them there, even if they are untouched. It reminds my children that we are a family that loves books. It reminds me of when they were littler, and want to hold onto that too. Perhaps some time soon, we will pass on a few of our lesser favorites to make room for the new (new-to-us). Maybe tonight we'll continue our way through them, you never know when a new favorite will be discovered.

In the spirit of picture books, here is our list of absolute favorites.

The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton
The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman
Any of the original Arthur books by Marc Brown
So Many Bunnies by Rick Walton/Paige Miglio
The entire Brambly Hedge collection by Jill Barklem
Annika's Secret Wish by Beverly Lewis
My First Little House Books
The Little Bear series by Else Holmlund Minarik
Kiss Good Night by Amy Hest
The Elves and the Shoemaker illustrated by Jim LaMarche
Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
The entire James Herriot collection of animal stories
Santa Mouse by Michael Brown
Andrew Henry's Meadow by Doris Burn
Any of the Corduroy books by Don Freeman
Niccolini's Song by Chuck Wilcoxen
Shawnee Bill's Enchanted Five-Ride Carousel by Cooper Edens/Daniel Lane
The Fly Guy series by Tedd Arnold
The Mitten, The Hat, Hedgie's Surprise (anything) by Jan Brett
No, David by David Shannon
Somewhere in the Ocean by Jennifer Ward/TJ Marsh
Olive, the Other Reindeer by Vivian Marsh/J. Otto Seibold
Charlie and Lola books by Lauren Child
Wolf Watch by Kay Winters

As a read aloud The Little House on the Prairie books have been our favorite.

There are so many more that we have loved. We really like using the library. The books listed are the ones we own, that have been read so many times, they are practically memorized.
Reading to my children has been one of my greatest pleasures in parenting. I figure that I have a few more years until they don't ask anymore. I will enjoy every moment until then.

Have a blessed day, Tami





Tuesday, March 27, 2012

real food

my favorite chocolate bar - it does say all natural :~) 

As I get older, my body is less tolerant of what I eat. I would consider myself above average in the healthy eating department, but there are certain times of the year (Christmas) that I fall into the habit of eating a lot of sweets. It takes me months to get back on track, and then my birthday hits (April). I indulge in a few pieces of cake, a few meals out, and so on. I love the social aspect of food. I usually save my indulgences for get togethers or celebrations. I struggle to balance eating the way that makes me feel the best, and joining in when we are out or in social eating situations. I don't want to be that person that is so rigid that I don't enjoy myself at gatherings because I am thinking too much about the food. On the other hand, I almost always feel yucky the next day. I just don't feel good when I eat a lot of refined foods, or salt, or sugar. Maybe I need an attitude adjustment regarding food, even in social situations. This whole pep talk I am giving myself right now is because my birthday is coming up and I have all of these wonderful treats planned.....my very favorite pizza, perhaps a little pie......
I have a decent amount of will power and use it most of the time to stay on track health-wise.

Feeling good is a strong motivator also.
I feel the very best when I am eating real food.

What works best for me is a semi-vegetarian diet, with modest amounts of dairy in the form of yogurt, eggs, nuts, and bits of meat/poultry for protein, healthy fats, whole grains, and lots of whole fruits and vegetables. I drink mainly water, coffee, and tea. Right now I am getting off caffeine (again). My body really doesn't like caffeine. I love to eat in season, and stay away from processed sweeteners. I really like Stevia when I need a little sweetness.
Now that I have put this recipe for feeling good down in writing, I should probably refer to it often. It really does make a difference in my quality of life.
I will take April to get myself back on track. When the sun comes out that will give me an extra boost of energy and wellness too.
Have a healthy and blessed day, Tami

Monday, March 26, 2012

weekend



Another weeekend full of baseball. The weather cooperated beautifully. What a treat.
We also squeezed in a date night (Chipotle and The Hunger Games), yard work, a couple of yummy meals, a little tidying up, and a birthday party.
I have been reading Free Range Chicken Gardens by Jessi Bloom and The Quarter-Acre Farm by Spring Warren. I find myself wanting to take copious notes from both of these books. Such great information. Both of these books were available from our local library. Score.
No-Spend March is winding down. I have found it to be a great success. We had a few unexpected repairs to pay for, but countered them by selling a few things on Craigslist. Yes.
I accidentally made Ricotta cheese! I had a batch of yogurt fail (a first) - when I heated it back up again to re-culture it, the whey separated and the curds curdled! Voila Ricotta. I finished straining it, salted it a bit, and used it to make Pasta Lasagna. What a happy mistake.
I have jumped on the Instagram bandwagon. What a fun app. I don't have much use for my Iphone, but this is fun.


Have a blessed Monday,
Tami

Friday, March 23, 2012

{this moment}

{notice the actual sun coming through the window!}
Joining Amanda.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

spring

Spring is it really you?
Are you teasing me again?

{we have had the wettest March on record}


I can see the greening, the blooms...........but it is so cold.
The sun peeks out momentarily and is then covered by dark, dark clouds.
I am tired of being wet and cold.
I am ready to break out of this eternal February we are having.
I am hoping that it is very soon.
I will let you know the moment Spring arrives :~)

Have a blessed day, Tami

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Pancit


My mother-in-law was born in the Philippines, and raised in Hawaii. Over the last 20 years, I have been introduced to many yummy dishes that are popular with Eric's family. My two favorites are Pancit and Lumpia (Filipino eggrolls). Pancit is like spaghetti, in that, the exact recipe differs from family to family. My version may be very different from yours. The measurements are vague and it is made to taste. Here is my version as learned from all the Aunties.

Gather up:

1 whole boneless/skinless chicken breast (about 1.5 lbs)- or thighs if you wish
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
toasted sesame oil
2 cups water
4 medium carrots peeled and cut into matchsticks
half a head of green cabbage, cut into medium pieces
msg-free oyster sauce
reduced-sodium soy sauce
8 oz. pkg. pancit canton noodles (flour sticks) or your favorite asian noodle
1 pkg. rice noodles (rice threads) or your favorite thin rice pasta
chopped green onions

I like to use my 5 qt. cast iron Dutch oven.
This batch makes enough for my family of 6 plus leftovers.

Preheat your cast iron on med-high. Add a little sesame oil and the chicken breasts. Turn down to medium heat. Let the chicken cook, turning half way through, until just done. Leave the chicken in the pan and shred it with the side of a wooden spatula. Add the chopped onion, garlic, and about 2-3 tablespoons each of soy sauce and oyster sauce. Simmer until the onion softens a bit, and then add about 2 cups of water. Let this come to a nice simmer. Check for taste. The flavor should be quite salty and strong. It will balance out when the noodles are added.
The rice threads need to be soaked for 30 minutes in very hot water, Do this now.
Let the chicken mixture simmer for about 15 minutes, and then add the matchstick carrots.
Let this cook for about 10 minutes.
While the chicken is simmering, prepare the pancit noodles. They are cooked a very short time, like 3 minutes until al dente. Rinse, drain, and set aside.
Add the cabbage to the chicken/carrot mixture. Cook 5 minutes and cover. Turn off heat.
After the 30 minutes, rinse and drain the rice threads, and use kitchen shears to cut then into shorter pieces.
In to the chicken mixture, add both types of noodles and toss to combine evenly all the flavors. Cover this for about 5 minutes, to let the noodles finish cooking and soaking up the juices.
At this point I usually taste it to see if more soy sauce or oyster sauce is needed for flavor. I usually end up adding a bit more.
I garnish the top with green onions and serve immediately.

Trust me on the noodle thing. Even though it seems like we have not precooked them very much, this type of noodle will become soggy very easily. Adding the noodles to the hot chicken mixture really does cook them just perfectly. If you choose to use a traditional pasta cook to al dente per the package instructions.

In the past, we have also added baby shrimp, cooked egg, ham, anything that you have that sounds good. The vegetable medley of carrot, onion, cabbage always stays the same though. The oyster sauce is really what gives the distinctive flavor, don't leave it out.

I hope that I have given enough detail.........it really is a vague sort of recipe that evolves depending on what each family likes.

Have a blessed day, Tami




Tuesday, March 20, 2012

weekend




I was a little under the weather yesterday. Spending some quiet time was just what I needed.
Our weekend was VERY busy.
The little boys had some down time playing legos and building robot guys.
We worked on Anya's room, just a little Spring cleaning. She loves a clean room.
It is still cold and wet here. We actually got a little snow on Saturday.
I am ready for Spring and as I type this, the sun is trying to peek through.

Have a blessed day,
Tami

Friday, March 16, 2012

{this moment}

{a day off from school today}
Joining Amanda.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

thursday


Today is grocery shopping day. We have a new Whole Foods Market in the next town. I am pretty excited to check it out. I buy 90% of my staples in bulk. In my quest to reduce waste, I use cotton drawstring bags, mesh bags, and glass bottles. I shop once a month for bulk, because I have to drive about 15 miles round trip to get to my regular market. This new WF is not any closer, but I am hoping that they have amped up their bulk section a bit. I find that at WF they have a great selection in their meat department. This store can be very expensive, as can be any store that you purchase a lot of processed foods. I am into buying organic bulk ingredients, so I don't worry much about it as those prices don't vary too much.
I have my system down. I use a black washable marker to clearly mark the bin #,  and the tare weight of the bag is marked in sharpie. This makes weighing super easy for the grocery checker. My glass jars are preweighed and I write the bin # and tare weight on the bottom of the jar in sharpie. I use an large, round woven basket to carry all of my supplies. I keep a running list of the items I need to buy, I have been doing this long enough now that my list is second nature.
When I get home I will put the food away into my glass pantry jars and wash the cotton bags that need it. I love seeing all of the jars filled, ready to be made into something nourishing and delicious.
Soon, I will don my rainboots and winter coat and head out into the March wetness. I will probably get a big cup of coffee (hard to completely give up in March) to keep my hands warm (it is unseasonably cold here right now), and make a day of grocery shopping. Enjoy your day!

Tami

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

creativeness

Some new kid art around here.

{can you say Truffula tree...}



Have a blessed and creative day.
Tami

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

this and that

{Applesauce Bread}

{Soulemama's Leftover Oatmeal Muffins}
~Tried SouleMama's leftover oatmeal muffins, we really liked them.
~Planted our Yukon Gold's using the tower method. Put the Snow Pea and lettuce seeds in the ground.
~Waiting patiently for "Free-range Chicken Gardens" to come in at our library.
~Finishing the freezer clean out, just some strawberries and rhubarb waiting to become jam.
~Baking, baking, and more baking. Keeping the lunchboxes full of homemade goodness, instead of buying snacks.....yay No-Spend March.
~Tempted by a beautiful stainless Copco kettle that I don't need, a kitchen timer which I do need, and so far I have resisted. That kettle just might go on my birthday list though. :~)
~Anxious (for hubby) to dive into a few Spring projects. Making doors for our corner cabinet, finishing the molding in the master bath, making built in beds for the little boys attic bedroom, and general sprucing up.
~Trying out a few new vegetarian meals. My goal is to only buy organic, free-range, grass-fed, uncured (etc.) meats. I am trying to keep costs down by preparing vegetarian meals more often during the week, and using the meat we buy as an ingredient instead of the main course.
~Dreaming of building a little guest cottage in my side yard.
~Hoping a blessed day for you.

Tami



Monday, March 12, 2012

meaningful writing


I recently put together a hardback copy of my blog writings from 2007-2009. I love looking back through some of my old posts, it gives me a great sense of what season of life I was in. I stopped writing for most of 2010-2011, mainly because my motivation for blogging became unclear, and frankly I was uninspired to do so. I had gotten so much of what I wanted to say "out there", so to speak. I wrote about some very personal thoughts and philosophies, and about the general dailiness of our lives. I was also experimenting with my writing style. I had never done that type of writing, so it took me awhile to find my groove. It's a little uncomfortable to look back and see words or phrases I used that are absent from my writing now, as my own style has emerged. Reading my older posts is like taking a look in the mirror, and seeing a different person. I have grown. I have learned. I have changed over the last 5 years. I am a little sad that during my blogging break, I missed out on documenting some of those changes. In photos and words, this blog documents my life and the lives of my family. This is meaningful writing to me. I question sometimes whether anybody cares what I did today, or how many chickens I have, or what we ate for dinner. I have to remember that in the years to come, my writings will serve as a reminder of this season of life, and to provide details that might otherwise have been forgotten. My children will have a living record of our days as a family, something I don't have from my childhood, and frankly I don't much remember. When we don't write these things down they get lost.
So I will carry on writing about bread, and chickens, and kids knowing that my motivation for blogging is to preserve this precious dailiness and these little details of our life together. So while my writings might not always be deeply moving or thought provoking, they are important.
Knowing that time passes way too quickly, I will remember to write it down, and I am sure that my kids will be thankful for it when they're grown.

Have a blessed day, Tami

Friday, March 9, 2012

Thursday, March 8, 2012

critters


A little chicken love this morning.






A few kid photos I found on my camera. Anya is really getting into the close up shots. We love our critters! The chickens are the most photographed of the bunch.
Spending some time helping out in the classrooms today and running errands. No-Spend March is going very well!
Have a blessed Wednesday, Tami

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

crazy weather



7 a.m. this morning.
I know that it doesn't look like much, but snow in March in the Seattle area........freakishly unusual.
And they were big flakes, and sticking........a few hours later and we now have blue sky and the most beautiful fluffy white clouds. Crazy. It's been a very strange winter around here.


Yesterday, I baked, and baked, and baked.
I am cleaning out the freezer as part of No-Spend March. Use it up is my motto. I pulled out some frozen plums from our tree last summer, and made Plum Crumble. It's a recipe that I found on the Southern Food website. The topping is so good. I'd like to try this with other fruit, too.
I also baked 4 loaves of sandwich bread (Tassajara-of course), 2 loaves of banana bread (bananas from the freezer), and Martha Stewart's Giant Chocolate Sugar Cookies.
We had homemade Chicken and Rice soup (turkey stock from the freezer). I made this soup with a teriyaki base and it was so good. I used soy sauce, a little sesame oil, onion, brown sugar, and ginger. My family loved it.

Have a blessed day,
Tami

Monday, March 5, 2012

weekend



We had a very busy weekend. On Saturday we attended a Cub Scout banquet, and Sunday was filled with church and then the kick-off of our baseball season. The sun came out, but it was cold. Nothing like standing outside in the cold for hours. Bring on the ballgames! By the end of the season we will be in sunglasses and short-sleeves. At least it didn't rain. I am sure there will be plenty of that to come.

We are 5 days into No-Spend March! I am enjoying the challenges so far. My biggest obstacle is staying out of the thrift stores. (and Starbuck's) - I am saving money and time if I stay out of them. I am also saving money on gas, that is a big bonus seeing as though gas is approaching $4.00 per gallon here. OUCH.

Here are some of my recent "No-Spend March" victories.
  • I baked a cake to donate for a silent auction instead of buying something.
  • I cut 4 heads of hair on Sunday evening. (a 80.00 savings!)
  • We participated in a gear swap and outfitted our kiddos for baseball.
  • I am baking bread today.
  • Making a birthday gift out of supplies I have on hand.
  • Said no to extras at the grocery store.
  • I darned 4 pair of my favorite wool socks, instead of replacing them.

I love being absolutely deliberate about spending, and I love saving money!

Have a blessed Monday, Tami

Friday, March 2, 2012

Thursday, March 1, 2012

No-spend March



No-Spend March is here!
Last year, I participated in the month of February. This year March seems a better fit. It was too hard last year trying to navigate Valentine's day and Eric's birthday. This year March will be perfect. It ends just in time to celebrate my birthday in early April :~)
It is hard to speak for the other members of my family, but they were all encouraged to examine their spending and try and avoid the unnecessary. Those candy bars really can add up you know!
I was mainly the one who participated. I cut out personal spending and cut down on our grocery budget for the month. I conserved in other areas, too. Walking instead of driving, turning off lights and turning down the thermostat, and trying to use less water.
Not only did it save money, but I was able to break some habits that were giving me a hard time. I realized last year that I am one of those people who shop out of boredom. Even though I was shopping at thrift stores and such, and I wasn't spending a lot of money, I was spending a lot of time. Wasted time equals wasted money. The time I wasted could have been used more productively at home, saving my family money. When I am at home, I can make more necessities from scratch, thereby spending less money......voila! That was the single greatest lesson I learned.
If you would like to join in, here is more information.

Blessings, Tami