Thursday, October 16, 2008

Please stop and say hi too...

My friend Valerie! She is venturing out into the world of blog land. Please visit her here at Walkin in Sunshine and say hi! PS: Please tell her how pretty she is :)


Monday, October 13, 2008

Recipe: Speared Chicken Bundles

Daily Food Journal

3 eggs
1 Apple

2 oz tuna
Celery and Carrot Spears

1 McDonalds Double Cheeseburger
1 Large Diet Coke

Speared Chicken Bundle

Recipe for Speared Chicken Bundles

Makes 4 servings.

  • 2 10-12 oz boneless Chicken Breasts
  • 1 Bundle Asparagus Spears
  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 tspn Herbs De Provence (Available at Whole Foods) OR
  • 1/2 tspn Thyme and 1 1/2 tspn Rosemary
  • 1 clove garlic

Pre heat a 10" or larger cast iron skillet on the stove top OR Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Prepare the Asparagus spears: Remove the band or tie from the bundle, rinse spears of asparagus under cold running water. To break off woody steams, hold each spear firmly at the base and in the middle and bend the stalk. The stalk will snap off just above the woody base of the stem. It is best to break off the woody ends individually, rather than guess and cut off the ends. Rinse again and set aside to drain.

Place chicken breasts in a gallon size freezer ziplock bag. With the flat end of a meat tenderizer, flatten each chicken breast. (Please don't tell my husband that my kids borrowed and lost my tenderizer and I used his MagLight flashlight.... :P )

Dip a basting brush in olive oil and lightly oil bottom of cast iron skillet. If you are baking it in the oven lightly oil the bottom of the baking dish.

Pour rest of oil into a small mixing cup. Mix herbs into the olive oil. Mince garlic clove and mix in oil/herb mixture. Baste the center of the top of each chicken breast with 1/4 of the oil/herb mixture.

Place 4-6 asparagus spears in center of each chicken breast. Roll up each chicken breast, keeping asparagus in the center. Secure seams with 3-5 toothpicks.

Place chicken bundles in cast iron skillet or baking dish. Baste the bundles with the rest of the oil/herb mixture.

If baking chicken in the oven, arrange rest of asparagus spears in the baking dish and cover with aluminum foil or baking dish cover. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-40 minutes until chicken is done.

If cooking on stove top, cook over medium heat in a cast iron skillet. Brown bottom of chicken bundles about 5 min. Then with a spatula loosen each bundle from the bottom of the skillet. Cover skillet with lid, and simmer for 30 minutes. Test with a thermometor to ensure the chicken is done. Remove the chicken bundles, drain juice and set aside to use later.

Arrange rest of asparagus in the skillet, cover and saute for approx 5-10 minutes, turning halfway through, until tender. Add chicken and reheat till warm.

Remove toothpicks from bundles. Cut each bundle in half, and place each half on a dinner plate. Arrange 1/4 of rest of asparagus on each dinner plate for a pleasing presentation. Lightly drizzle chicken bundles and asparagus spears with juice from the pan.

Serve along side a spinach salad and enjoy.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

31 Days of Less Challenge! Apology

Dear sweet ladies... I really have to apologize.

I'm not going to be able to finish posting the challenge for this month. I didn't realize how much of a time constraint I would have this month. After all, this is the month for the Nightmare at our church. So please forgive me. I will be starting this challenge again soon, and I'll be better prepared and planned out next time. I promise.

Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Home made laundry soap

I've been making my own laundry soap for a while, and I've really enjoyed it. For me, there's something therapeutic about hand grating a bar of soap and using it to create a less expensive alternative to store bought laundry detergent.

I usually just grate up the soap and make a powdered laundry detergent using this recipe:
  • 1 bar Zote Soap
  • 1 bar Ivory Soap
  • 3 cups Borax
  • 3 cups Washing Soda
Grate Zote soap and Ivory soap with a fine blade of a food processor or a cheese grater. Mix in borax and washing soda and keep in air tight container. Use 1-2 tblspn per washerload.

My last batch of laundry soap, I had found a recipe to use castille laundry soap, and I wanted to try to combine the two. So I made up this recipe:
  • 1/4 cup liquid lavendar castille soap
  • 1/3 bar Zote soap, fine grated
  • 1 cup borax
  • 1 cup washing soda
Pour castille soap into the bottom of the bowl. Add 1/2 cup each of borax and washing soda. Mix in castille soap and stir to well incorporate the soap into the borax and washing soda. Add grated Zote soap, borax and washing soda. Mix well. Keep in air tight container. Use 1-2 tblspn per wahserload.

I liked this version. My clothes seemed to come out really clean, with a light lavendar smell, and soft.

But with both powedered versions, I did find that the soap didn't dissolve completely in cold washer loads. So I wanted to make a "liquid" version to see if that would help.

So yesterday I tried my hand at making a super concentrated version. I used a stove top sauce pan, a wire whisk, a plastic spoon, and a 2 gallon pickle bucket I heisted from Applebee's my last night as a manager (well cleaned and aired out of course).

My ingredients were:
  • 1/2 cup liquid castille soap (optional)
  • 1/2 bar Zote soap, fine grated
  • 1/2 bar Ivory soap, fine grated
  • 1 1/2 cup Borax
  • 1 1/2 cup Washing soda
While I was grating the soap I filled a tea kettle with water and heated the water over high heat. I grated the soap and placed it in a stove top saucepan, and turned the heat onto medium, and then poured in the hot water to cover the grated soap. The hot water melted most of the soap, but I kept it over medium low heat till all of the soap was melted.

I filled the 2 gallon bucket half full with hot water, and measured in the Borax and Washing soda. Then I used the wire whisk to stir the water and till the borax and washing soda was dissolved. Then I poured in the melted soap and mixed again. I filled the bucket with more water to 3-4" from the top. Then I measured in the castille soap and stirred with the plastic spoon.

I let it sit on the counter to cool and gel. Every 30 minutes or so I would give it a good stir to help it gel evenly. After about 2 hours it had cooled almost completely and was almost solid. I stirred it one more time to break up the solid.

When I did my laundry yesterday I used 1/4 cup per washer load. My clothes come out clean, but they don't have the lavendar smell I was hoping they would from the castille soap. I think I may tweek my recipe by adding Lavendar essential oil drops.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

31 Days of Less Challenge! Day 2: Cutting Costs

Yesterday we worked on meal plans and shopping lists. Today we are going to create a price book to help us make sure that we are getting the most for our money along with our shopping lists.

A price book is simply a book to compare what store has the best price on things you normally buy. It can be as sophisticated as you would like, or as simple as you would like. I like to keep things simple, and hopefully you do to, so I'll tell you how I keep mine.

I have a small 3 ring binder, 5x8 size, that I have lines note book paper in. At the top of each page I write an item I purchase regularly. Ex, toilette paper, chicken breasts, canned vegetables, dog food, etc. I don't write specific brands, because brand names really don't mean that much to me.

An easy way to start your price book is to take the receipts of your last few shopping trips and see the prices you paid on your reciepts. Such as, on my receipt from Wal Mart I may see a purchase or a 20 lb bag of Ol Roy dog food for $6.98. So I'll write on the "Dog Food" page, 20 lb @ Wal Mart $6.98 10/01/08. As you get more reciepts you'll have more prices to fill your price book for you to compare.

When you get a sale circular, you may see that Reasor's has Pedigree dog food on sale for $6.50 a 20 lb bag. That's a pretty good price and cheaper than what is normaly paid at Wal Mart. So I'll write on my "Dog Food" page, Reasor's 20lb $6.50... SALE 10/3. I'll write SALE so I can be sure to remember it's a temporary price and not a normal price.

As I find prices at various stores that are good deals, I will mark on my shopping lists which store has the better deal next to the item. That way I can be sure to visit that store, or take that circular if I go to Wal Mart to do a comp pricing.

I don't have pages in my price book for fresh produce because the prices on produce vary according to the season, so I just compare the prices in the circulars and make note on my lists which store has the best prices on what produce. I also like to take advantage of local farmer's markets for my produce.

The great thing about price booking, is once you've been doing it a while, you start to notice trends. Such as certain stores have cycles to their sales, or some items are seasonal. When you start to notice these trends, it gives you opportunity to set some funds aside to take advantage of great meat sales, or buy fresh produce to freeze.

I know it was fairly quick, but I just wanted to give you an overview to get you started. Try creating one and see how it works for you. You can use a small note book, or an excel spreadsheet, its up to you. Have fun and be creative with it.

Be Blessed...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Adventures of the Purple Gorilla...

Guts Church is the greatest church in the World...

Our kids department comes up with some crazy stuff, all in fun, and it's all used to teach the kids about God.

I found this mini series the kids department did last year on YouTube. It is absolutely hilarious... and I'm sure in some way there's a point to it all..

Thanks so much to everyone in the kids department! My kids love going to Guts Church, and I do too!

31 Days of Less Challenge! Day 1: Evicting Clutter

Today, this fine a beautiful day, we are going to start evicting clutter from it's current home. Our clutter has been trespassing in our homes long enough. It's been there taking up our space, our time, and our energy. It takes up precious room in our home by just sitting there. It takes up our time because we move it from spot to spot thinking you'll find it a home some day. It takes up our energy because it causes stress when we have to clean around it, and with it there our homes feel smaller and cramped.

Today, we are going to start on our entry ways. We're starting here today because this week only has 3 days left and the entry ways are a small part of our homes. Plus cleaning out our entry will be motivating because it is a begining to create a warm welcome for us, our family, and our guests. If your front door opens directly into your living room (like mine) then work on the area immediately around your front door.

So here's what we are going to do. Gather our 3-5 bags/sacks/boxes, some index cards, a pen, our kitchen timer, and our quick cleaning kit.

Label each of your containers:
  • Giveaway
  • Throw Away
  • Put Away
  • Find a New Home
  • Storage
The giveaway container is obvious. It's stuff that is still in good usuable condition but you no longer have use for. The Throw Away container is for stuff that you have just used past it's life time. Put away is for items you would like to go back in that area. Find a new home is for items you would like to keep but belong in another part of the home. Storage is for things that need to go into the garage.

Pick one surface, cubby, or floorspace to declutter today.
We are going to do this in 15 minute increments. Some of you can get this done in one increment. Some of you it may take several. Some of you it may take ten increments thru out the day. But we are going to take this in small chunks of time, so we can continue living lives and spending time with family.

Set your timer for 15 minutes. Count down... 3.... 2.....1.... GO!!!!!

Start picking stuff up from whatever you are decluttering today. As you pick it up, it has to go in one of the bags. If you pick it up and you have to think about if you need it, you probably don't. If you do need it in the future, our God is a great God and Provider and you can get one again later. Pick it up and quickly decide if you want to keep it, give it away, or if it should be trashed. But don't set it back down on your surface. IT HAS TO GO IN ONE OF YOUR BAGS OR BOXES.

As you fill a giveaway/putaway/trash bag or box, simply set it aside and get a new one.

When you fill your storage box, put the lid on it, and take an index card and write on the card what is inside the box. Tape the card to the box, and set the box aside to be taken to storage later.

Work as fast as you can for 15 minutes. See how much you can get done. When that 15 minutes is over, stop. Go on and live your life, and come back to it later. But keep coming back to it through the day until it gets done.

When you finally discover the surface under all that clutter, take your quick clean kit and dust or clean it off. Dust it, polish it, or clean the glass surfaces. Then start putting things in your put away bag back. Give it a home where you just cleaned. If there's too much stuff to go back in an neat and organized manner, then some of it has to go in the give away bag or the find a new home bag.

Focus on decluttering one surface today. Tomorrow we can focus on another surface or floor space. But focus on one area today and see how much you can get done.

Be Blessed


We didn't get to see this last weekend, but we are Friday!!!