Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Last week I began discussion on ways to use an existing budget or even trim your budget while purchasing and eating more healthy foods. The first step for me is beginning to organize - my pantry, my cookbooks (next week's discussion), menus and shopping lists. I am still working on that and part of my delay in getting started is that we are still transitioning. We are still seeking new sources for certain types of foods and trying new to us recipes, so it may be a month or two until we get into a settled rhythm.
I always love it when God is teaching you something and then you get bombarded from all sides with the same information - you hear someone else talking about it, you find a blog or website, you read another book etc - it is like He is confirming your steps. So I was delighted this week to read the series at Storybook Woods grocery budgeting. Post 1 covers creating your own grocery price book to help you see where to spend money. At the top of each post you can follow the links to the next post. The 2nd post covers inexpensive ways to add flavor, the 3rd covers meat, the 4th bulk foods and the 5th talks about treats and splurging! She has a neat blog, enjoy looking around.
Another thing I learned from my Grandma Hopkins was to use your resources wisely and that stores and businesses pay money to provide services and benefits that you would be foolish to ignore! So today's post is going to talk about free resources for finding good and healthy recipes and information for improving your health.
1. Your own family/Your own kitchen: Today you can buy a cookbook for just about any imaginable diet, food or interest. But Deborah pointed out to me that when she began cooking gluten free and casein free for her son, she just used her Better Homes and Gardens cookbook and adapted the recipe. Many recipes you already have in your recipe box, sitting on your shelf in recipe books or are on your coffee table in magazines. Also, don't forget to look on the back of food packages and wrapping. Bob's Red Mill, which are healthy products, often have delicious recipes printed on the back of the package. Remember, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush!
2. Your Local Library: I am willing to bet that even a small town library has cookbooks. Many libraries today are even online. When you are a busy Mom with small children who don't like to be quiet, an online library is priceless! I go online, order a book that I want and it is put on the shelf with my name and hubby can pick it up for me on his way home from work. This is also an excellent way to preview books. Sometimes you hear great things about a book and it turns out to be something different than you thought. Noone really wants to pay $20 or more and only be able to use one recipe. Also remember, most libraries can get things through inter library loan if they do not have it in their own collection.
3. Your Grocery Store Home Economist: Most stores of any size will hire their own home economist to provide nutrition information, recipes and innovative uses for their products. Some of these recipes may be adapted, but don't look a gift horse in the mouth. A few stores will even have an economist who has a desk set up in the store and will be there at certain times to answer questions. Look for racks displaying recipe cards. I have generally found these in the produce and meat departments. Also remember too look online for your favorite store. They may have web available recipes. For instance you can register to use the free recipes at Whole Foods Market even if you do not have one in your vicinity.
4. Your County Extension Office: I just googled and found mine and I am looking into taking some of the food preserving classes. You can also do master gardening and other things through the extension. My extension offers several free demonstrations as well as ones with a $3 class fee. I can almost always come up with $3 even if I have to raid the piggy bank! These classes will give information and recipes.
5. Potluck Cookbooks/Friends: Our church has a cookbook of recipes many of the ladies have donated and I have received this type of cookbooks from other friends as gifts. You might be surprised at what you can find. Again, many recipes may need adapting but the information is fun and varied. Don't forget to ASK your friends. Most people are willing to share.
6. Yahoogroups: Go to Yahoo Groups and search. You can find a group on almost any topic. Recently I signed up for the whole-grain baking list and have learned a lot. This is all free information. Don't forget to check the files sections in your group for recipes and information.
7. Used Books: If you find something you like it can often be purchased used...sometimes good as new! I have purchased books at thrift shops, garage sales, eBay and sellers at Amazon. I don't have a local book store, so I use Amazon. Don't forget to use 40% off coupons from JoAnn's and Michael's for some resources.
8. Magazines: A lot of grocery chains are publishing their own seasonal magazines which are free. But if you don't want to buy a cookbook and you do want to learn something or have recipes, magazines can be a good alternative. If you find one you really like you can subscribe and receive it on a regular basis. One that I really like is Cooks Illustrated which appeals to the geeky/science part of my brain. It provides good reference information but also explains things in lay language. Everyday Food, a Martha publication usually has healthy recipes that are a little more normal than her other cookbooks and magazines. She has a wealth of information but sometimes her recipes are complex and don't turn out any better than a simpler one. Everyday Food is inexpensive and at most grocery checkouts. Don't forget to also check your favorite magazines website to see if they have additional recipes.
9. Your Local Newspaper: Most local newspapers will have a food and cooking section. Recipes in here are free if you already subscribe to the paper for other purposes or inexpensive if you pick up a paper on certain days and times (which varies according to your area). Libraries usually have newspaper subscriptions as well as many papers being available on line at no cost. Newspapers are another source for access to a home economist.
10. The Internet: This last source is probably obvious since, here you are! There is no human way that I could cover all the resources on the web, but I will post a few that I have enjoyed recently. Don't forget to check the link section on your favorite food blogs.
Bob's Red Mill
Whole Food's Market
King Arthur Flour
A Year in Bread
Tammy's Recipes Blog
Mother Earth News Article Archives
My Journey To Wholeness
Gluten Free Girl
Book of Yum (gluten free)
Please let me know if you have any other resources that help you save money on groceries in general or in cooking healthy. I'd also love to hear how any of the rest of you are doing on your goals! Thanks for reading.
Monday, January 28, 2008
This is my Glamis Castle rose which is named after the castle that Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother grew up in and is over 600 years old and is even mentioned in Shakespeare's Macbeth. (Pronounced "glarms")
This is what the castle looked like June of 1994 when my "English Mum", Lily took me to Scotland for a week for my 28th birthday. Best birthday present I ever had! :o) We toured inside the castle and it is quite interesting with lovely grounds that have both elements of an English estate garden and local farm life!
This is me and Bev, my other English friend standing in front of one of the castle doors. I love to photograph windows and doors, especially ones with unique and quaint features such as this. These were scanned from slides and are not very clear (though they are in the originals).
All the roses in my front are planted purposefully and I chose the Glamis Castle rose, an heirloom variety, to remember special times with special people. The other day it looked beautiful with just a slight blush of pink on its petals and rain drenching it. That's one thing I will miss about living in California after we leave - how easy it is to grow roses! Not many places have roses blooming in for Christmas and New Year!
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Here is D. Can you see how excited he is? His invitation was addressed to "Prince D" and it stated that he was to wear his royal dancing clothes. He loves to dress up for church, so he wore one of his church shirts and a tie and looked so handsome.
Here he is dancing with the birthday girl (yellow dress) and another friend from church. (Sorry about the smeared face, I don't have permission to share other children's pics so I had to be careful in what I chose. The best pics show lots of faces.) The birthday girl turned 9 and D was the only boy who came besides birthday girl's brother, also 6, who has "cool" Car movie toys! This is not the first time that he has been the only boy at a girl's birthday party. I think we are going to have an interesting time when he is a teenager!
Here is D dancing with one of the older girls he knows from church. On the ceiling you can see the "disco ball" that birthday girl's Mom made. D comes home excited "And Mommy! They even had a 'dixel' ball!" :o)
In this picture you can see on his face how much fun he is having. I don't think he gave a rip that he was the only boy there. That is one advantage to home schooling - he doesn't get exposed to all kinds of society's ideas of what a boy should be, he is just himself. He is all boy, but he is not afraid to show his gentle and tender side. As a Mom I hope I can nurture that some day so that he will be a good husband to my future daughter-in-love.
It sure was fun to sew. I haven't done that in a long time and want to do some more.
While D was at the party, the girls and I watched the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. I have been skating deprived this year since we gave up our satellite. The majority of competitions are on ESPN, so I missed them. And this came through with crackling so bad that I almost didn't watch. I was so glad I did because at the end of their performance in pairs, John Baldwin got down on one knee on the ice and asked his skating partner Rena Inoue to marry him in front of everyone and she said Yes! (lucky him!) You can see about it here if you're a skating fan or just a fan of a great romance. The couple, who have been skating a long time, (both skated individually before coming to pairs) have really been hard workers and continue to skate in their 30s. Thirty is young, but that's a lot of stress on your body. She also is a survivor of lung cancer, which claimed the life of her father.
The ladies skate was interesting and disappointing. Some of the "older" skaters - the 18 year olds - didn't skate so well and 2 of the medalists are not even old enough to go to the Worlds in March! I was sorry to see Alissa Czisny do so poorly. She seemed so promising and I hope she can regain her confidence and continue. Kimmie Meissner also did not place well, but still has a hope of going to world's because the commission decides based on a lot of factors. Some of these new little bumble bees on the ice are amazing to watch even though the whole package isn't there yet, but it will make some exciting skating to watch in the future. I've watched Rachael Flatt the last couple years and have been impressed with her. She placed second. Tonight is the men's competition which is my favorite. Oh, the ice dancing was really good and Tanith and Ben came with their game faces on, giving one of the best performances I have seen from them. I like their program this year, which is to Chopin music.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Today I am excited to announce that my weight is at 317#! Yeah! Finally I am seeing a drop again, although I shouldn't complain since I am still not dieting. However, it was really disappointing to see the scale go up 5# last week. In all honesty, it was tempting not to report it. But I started blogging this as a way to work through my weight, health and past weight loss issues and to encourage others along the way. With that in mind I thought it would be best to be honest because I know I am not the only one that will face that. In reality, it looks like my weight will probably go up once a month whether I like it or not. The victory for me through this experience was not giving up after seeing the weight gain. In the past I would have thought to myself, "What's the use? I might as well eat what I want!"
So, has anyone else hit a plateau in your weight loss, desire to exercise or ambition in cooking healthier? I know you are all pursuing different health goals - how are you coming along in yours? Are there any topics that we should discuss here on Wellness Wednesday that would be encouraging to you in your journey? I have many ideas for here and my Journey blog that I would like to explore further. Don't forget to visit My Journey To Wholeness if you are interested in further discussions or Recipes! My brain has been full of ideas but not enough time!
Where I could use prayers and encouragement is to keep going with my exercising. The exercise is not too strenuous, but getting up at 5:30AM to accomplish it, is! LOL I have a hard time getting to sleep early enough and so find myself dragging. I have continued my daily morning Bible readings and do find that that will make a difference in my attitude for the day.
The next couple Wednesdays I would like to talk about economical and practical ways to work healthier eating and living into your lifestyle. That is the biggest complaint I hear: "Gee, I'd like to, but I just can't afford it!" Well, it would be easy for me to say, "Can you afford chemotherapy?" "Can you handle your children if you are chronically ill?" "Do you want your children to be poisoned?" All these things are true and bear a large price. However, they don't help when your are a stay at home mom making the buck stretch until the next pay day.
Reality is that organic and "natural" products do cost more, sometimes 2-4x the amount of their non--healthy alternatives. On the other hand, junk foods and packaged foods add up. What we have found is that some things in our budget have "flip-flopped". We pay a little more for one thing but we use something else less or not at all. In the end our food budget remains the same even though we have been shopping at Whole Foods Market, our local Natural Food Co-Op and other local healthy resources.
What makes it all work, is careful planning. This will take some extra time in your day, but it will help keep the cost and waste down. So today I want to talk to you about my home management binders. What works for me may not work for you. I spent time on the web looking at different ladies binders. It was really interesting surfing as I looked at books from women of all different faiths and backgrounds - amazing how much we share in common in our daily lives! I'll include some links at the end of the post. Remember, don't throw out the baby with the bath water, glean what works for you!
Here is a picture of my three binders. I find that I am an "information gatherer" so I knew I would need more space than just one notebook binder. I decorated my binders with scrapbooking paper I had at home and printed out my titles and other information using a font called CK Windsong which came from my Creating Keepsakes font CD for scrapbooking. You probably already have a font you like. You don't have to get too fancy. Using what you have is very practical and you can still personalize it.
This is our family binder and I won't go into details on this today as it doesn't relate to our topic. But, in this binder I keep information on each person in the family (birth certificates, important paper, medical info) and our cat, Abbie. The binders are made by Avery and are the "deluxe" ones which have a D ring. If you are purchasing a binder that you will use on a regular basis, you really don't save money getting a cheap O ring binder. You may already have a binder at home, especially those of us who home school and have kids. Another great idea would be to make a fabric book cover. I coordinated my three binders with a similar style and the same font. This is just personal preference and stems from my journalism and scrapbooking training.
Are you still wondering how this applies to saving money and creating a healthy life? Well, professional planners and organizers recommend planning out your food and meals, coordinating them with your recipes, to make a concise and accurate shopping list. How many times have you gone to the store and purchased repeat items but forgotten something that you really need? This happens to me, even when I do have a shopping list! Truth be told, I don't have a good grasp on what is really available in my own pantry.
Many people will recommend that you go through your pantry before starting a weight loss diet or a health transformation and remove all the "sinful" items. I half agree! We removed items that were really obviously bad - loaded with MSG, chemicals, high fructose corn syrup etc. The reason we removed those was that not only were they bad for us, but they make chemical changes in the body that even sometimes make you eat more or negate the healthy changes you make. Who wants to work hard to be "good" only to find your work ruined? On the other hand there were many products that we will not replace again but were not real bad offenders, e.g. non-organic products and canned foods.
I feel this is a personal choice that each must make. We have been eating more out of the pantry and using what we have and that saves money too. I tend to be a hoarder and that has both good and bad side effects! It is going to take some practice for me to get used to planning out my meals ahead of time and shopping according to a specific list. Unlike moral rules, which I believe are absolutes, some of these organizing rules are okay to be broken. For instance when one of your favorite products is on sale for 1/2 off, it would be prudent to purchase some even if it is not on your list this trip. Another example would be walking through the produce department and finding something fresh and lovely that is in season. These types of variances do not make a huge impact on the budget. What does is purchasing "willy nilly" without intent, having too much of some things and not enough of others, leaving you sometimes without the necessary ingredients to make normal meals. Then you have to go and spend more money to make up for your lack of planning.
In the real world, does anyone follow their monthly menu plan to the T? I doubt it and I seriously doubt that I will ever accomplish that. But I do think it will give me some structure and a framework within which I can work to create consistently healthy, balanced meals for my family while keeping an eye on the budget. Also being organized in general saves time. I don't know anyone who can't use more time!
In the front of my binder and in certain sections I have placed these special sheet protectors which are made to take things in and out easily. I plan to use this for pages that need to be filed, coupons, recipes to try etc. The sections are made using Avery sheet protectors with divider tabs. They are hard to find and cost a little more, but they are wider and can be used when your pages are in sheet protectors (which makes them wider). Normal tabs do not work when using sheet protectors. These come in 5 and 8 subject packages. For my kitchen binder I used 8. Another Avery product is an extra wide tab divider, which is paper and the tab can be written on with a Sharpie. I chose the sheet protector format because then I can put a picture in.
One of the funnest, but time consuming parts of setting up my binder, was choosing the pictures. There is a lot of clip art and different types of art on the net. I chose some paintings by Carl Larsson, one of my favorite artists. Recently I saw a post on Little Jenny Wren where she had received a Larsson calendar and was reminded of how much I like his watercolors. He was a contemporary to my great, great Grandma, Hilda Augusta Landgren Jansson/Johnson who came to America as a young mother from Sweden, so I feel like I get a little glimpse into what her life must have been like before she came to Michigan and later Washington. You can purchase his art at Scandinavian Treasures. The first picture on the front is titled "God's Peace" which I thought was appropriate. It is his wife and child in their kitchen.
Next comes shopping information. This will include lists of what products I purchase where and other information related to how and where I shop. There is a protector sleeve here for coupons, store ads etc. and I will also put my shopping lists here until I go to the store. This picture is "Christmas".
This is another painting of the Larsson kitchen and is the divider for my recipes. In this section I will keep my constantly used recipes in sheet protectors. At the bottom of each recipe I will write out a shopping list, listing how much of certain ingredients are necessary to purchase. e.g. 3 cans tomato sauce, 1 onion etc. So that when I have that recipe on the menu I can look at a quick glance and see what I will need to buy for that recipe and add to the shopping list for that week.
Currently I am learning a lot about bread baking so I will include helpful information and recipes here.
And something I am working on is making up a master pantry list. That is, a list of every seasoning, spice, condiment or food that we ever use. I have found different pantry lists online but none seem to suit. For example, Martha Stewart's list has things like Vodka and different types of wines that we never use in cooking. Other home maintenance binder sites list processed food products on their lists, which we also don't use. So, I am trying to gather a list from what I see in my cupboards and anything on these other lists that is appropriate. In addition I am looking at what is necessary to have in advance for a family of five in case of emergency or disaster.
This section might be wishful thinking at the time, but I do hope to one day have my own organic fruit and vegetable garden. I am starting the research now and this section will be for when I plan that.
I know this is a long post, but I wanted to go quickly through my home binder as well since good planning overall helps with time/money management and the ability to develop a healthy lifestyle. It does take time to implement changes!
Here is the opening page with Larsson's "Outdoor Breakfast" painting. I forgot to mention that I printed out the tabs on the same vanilla heavy paper that I used to print out the divider pages and I used the same CK Windsong font.
On the left is a sheet I printed out with our address and phone number along with some verses of Scripture that are guidelines in our family life. The right side displays the divider section for calendar pages and schedules.
Here is a neat picture of Larsson's wife ironing linens and it marks the beginning of the Cleaning and Chores section where I will put out the lists of all the work I need to get done, the kids' chores and other information I need for cleaning.
The contact section will contain emergency numbers, numbers of frequently called people and others such as businesses and church numbers which we use all the time. As I typed this I realized I should put one of those special protectors in here to place the church directory in for easy access.
In the reference section I will keep information such as cleaning formulas (we are working on "going green" this year) and any other household helpful information.
The last section is for all the things that don't fit into the other categories. One thing is a gift list. I think it will definitely save money if I plan ahead on gift giving when possible.
Phew! If you are reading here, you should be congratulated. This was the longest post I've ever written - I'll try not to do that again. Next week I want to talk about a few more practical ways to change over to a healthy lifestyle more economically. If you have any suggestions or ideas, I would love to hear them too! And as usual, if you leave a comment, I will be praying for you in your wellness journey too. Thanks for reading. Information links listed below:
With The Fruit of Her Hands Individual Pages (free pdfs)
With The Fruit of Her Hands Whole Notebooks A completely organized package of pages that you can purchase reasonably. They are nicely done and I purchased them in black (costs less to print). I have only used some of the pages, but they did help in organizing the order and what type of things I want in my binder. As of today, they are still 40% off.
With The Fruit of Her Hands personal notebook This is a nice tour of a notebook which helps you see how to set one up.
Susan Godfrey She also sells ebook forms which you can find on the left hand side of her blog. There is always something interesting on her blog related to frugality, homemaking etc. She also has an ebook of recipes based on the concepts of Nourishing Traditions, which I might try out.
Treasure In Earthen Vessels A beautiful example of how you can make up your own forms and binder.
Mary Ann Therese She has three good posts on how she organizes her binder. Follow the links at the bottom of the post to go to part 2 and 3.
Donna Young If you have not found this site, it's a treasure trove! I have printed all kinds of calendars and schedules from this site. They are FREE pdfs! Look on the upper left for a link for household planners. There are also a lot of helps for homeschooling here as well.
Organized Home A commercial site with free forms.
Home Management Binder A site with tours of different ways to do a notebook and lots of links. I think this is a part of the Organized Home site.
Large Family Mothering This site has an excellent example of how to make a fabric cover for your notebook, similar to a Bible cover. Click on the pics to see larger.
Lizzie's Home This binder has a lot of different categories, samples of schedules and includes a weight loss section and a family cookbook.
Noble Womanhood This is an article on how to use the notebook concept for different facets of your family life and keep a lot of stray stuff corraled and organized.
If these ideas were not enough, just try "googling", you will find more! The idea is certainly not original with me. I frequent many homemaking blogs because I feel like I am filling in the gaps in my own home education and want to pass on good things to my three children, my son included. Some of these blogs and sites hold different ideas than I do, but as I said earlier, glean what is good to use for you as well all have different needs. If any of you have home binders/notebooks - I would love to see them!
Now, if I can get off this wonderful machine, I can put to use some of those new home making skills I'm learning! :-)
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
White Bog Orchid
Yesterday I was catching up on reading at Gracious Hospitality, a blog I read on a regular basis. She has beautiful and lovely home photos and information as well as gorgeous photos of Washington, my home state. It's not uncommon for me to feel homesick looking at her blog! Yesterday I saw a post about a themed join along project at Wildflower Morning. The second photo above belongs to her (It's Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park - one of my favorite places!)
Shooting Stars and American Bistort, Yosemite National Park
My best friend Shelley who love to photograph with me!
Shooting Stars - Yosemite National Park
Cow Parsnip and Half Dome, Yosemite National Park
Cow Parsnip in seed - Yosemite National Park
Milkweed and Swallowtail Butterfly - Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park.
What Am I? Photographed in Yosemite National Park.
Lupine is pretty common, but it has always been one of my favorite wildflowers.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
|You scored as Martin Luther |
The daddy of the Reformation. You are opposed to any Catholic ideas of works-salvation and see the scriptures as being primarily authoritative.
A is for Antique...this is the pincushion my Mom made as her first sewing project when she was 9 years old. I won't say how many years ago that was, but it does qualify as an antique. It has seen better days - it was once lavender and yellow. The author of this post is responsible for coloring on the button with a tailoring pencil and time and use are responsible for the "shabby but not chic" appearance. Since it is stuffed with sawdust, I cannot wash it. Mom says to photograph and toss. I haven't decided yet.
A is for Alaska...where several family members have lived since the 1920s. This summer Hubby and I hope to take a long overdue honeymoon in Juneau. This is where my cousin's Ted and Barbara live. Please pray for Barbara...she is the one with brain cancer.
A is for Princess A...who has a flair for melodrama. This is her Joanne Worley impression! LOL
A is for Awl...This is an antique awl that I found in my Grandma Hopkins' button can.
A is for Applique...these are the flowers appliqued on my bedspread, a wreath of flowers around the log cabin blocks in the center.
A is for Art and Artist...this is a sketch of the water towers in Mendocino, CA by my Hubby who is talented as a pen and ink artist. Art plays a huge part in our lives and in my family. My Aunt Grace is also an artist.
Naturally, A is for Apples...These beauties were photographed at Apple Hill in Placerville/Camino.
A is for Abbie...an Animal...who thinks she is Queen of the Home.
A is for Amy who I Adore :o)
A is for Atholl Palace...in Pitlochry, Scotland. A stay here was a gift for my 28th birthday from my "English Mum".
Some of my favorite A Websites are:
Phew! You made it to the end! :o)