Monday, April 28, 2008

Neuro Toxin

This past weekend I was blessed to attend a great homeschool conference. I hadn't planned to attend until I saw that a lady who works with children with certain learning difficulties would be speaking. I was able to meet her before I heard her speak and we hit it off right away. There were so many subjects we both passionately care about: living foods, raw milk, cultured foods, harm from plastics, great farm raised meats, EFA, organic products, chemical free home and body care, gardening and most of all children. Children, who we believe, have been affected by this toxic world that we live in.

In a session she taught titled "Reading and the Brain: The Neurology of Learning Disabilities and What You Can Do About It" she was asked about diet and if it mattered. She emphatically shared with the audience that she did and recommended a couple books. Then she pleaded, "Please, please, please, stay away from sugar! It is a Neoro Toxin, not a traditional part of our diets." That was all. She didn't preach. She didn't rant and rage. She just pleaded with a large group of parents to not feed their children what she believes is poison. Oh, and then she shared that she believed it to be more addictive than heroine. We really wouldn't know though, would we, since most of us rarely stay away from it for any amount of time. I'd bet the majority of Americans eat sugar every day!

This stuck with me. I want what is best for my children. There are many things in this world that I have no control over but I can limit our sugar intake and I'm going to be much more vigilant about it. I don't plan to feel deprived, either. There are a ton of foods that we'll enjoy on this journey to a more natural, poison-free diet.

I wrote this mostly for my sake, I will need the reminder!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Commit thy works
unto the LORD,
and they thoughts shall be established.
Proverbs 16:3

Friday, April 18, 2008

Interesting Info on the Brain

I've been trying to eliminate stress lately. I mean really working at eliminating anything unnecessary to my peace of mind. I'm doing this out of necessity. My blood pressure is high, again, and I'm even on medicine this go around. In light of all I've been working on lately, I found this article interesting. Here's an excerpt:

This has strange consequences. We try to talk on our cell phones and drive at the same time, even though it is literally impossible for our brains to multitask when it comes to paying attention. We have created high-stress office environments, even though a stressed brain is significantly less productive. Our schools are designed so that most real learning has to occur at home. This would be funny, if it weren't so harmful.
I'll be perusing Brain Rules blog and their website more thoroughly over the next few days.

Over Budget

Yep, I've already spent more than $500 this month on food. I've spent $515.40 to be exact. This morning I read this wonderful post at The Common Room. She is so right. We just have to get creative. I'm amazed at all the details she gives in this one post! This would be a wonderful article to print off for those just starting out trying to live within a budget and not having a clue what to do.

Now... as to why I've gone over budget. It's really not so much that prices are up but that I just wanted my house stocked up with the basics. And I found lots of good deals over the past couple weeks! I think by spending this month, I may be able to save next month. We'll see....

Last night's supper was easy, yummy, and frugal. Kiersten did most of the cooking for me. She's really wanting to cook and bake these days and she's doing a great job of learning! Thursdays are crazy days for us. It is our big "town day". As gas prices increase, we definitely don't need to be running every day and we don't like to anyhow! We like long days at home. Here's what we had with prices included:

Organic Marinara & Herbs Pasta Sauce (Walnut Acres) with Italian Sausage (all-natural and freshly made at our local grocer) ~ $1.40 for the sauce and $.75 for 3/4 pound of sausage

All-Natural al dente Spinach Fettuccine (I love this pasta for quick suppers as it cooks in 3 min.) ~ 12 oz. for $1.12

Bird's Eye Frozen Peas with butter and salt ~ 69 cents for the peas and 5 cents for the Tbsp. butter

1 fresh sliced cucumber ~ 55 cents

Water to drink

The total price of this meal is $4.56. There was enough left over to pack a lunch for my husband and even have a some left after that. We'll say we served 8 for $4.56. That's $.57 per person.

The Bird's Eye Vegetables were one of my great deals this month that I spent a good chunk of money on. My freezer is stocked full of frozen vegetables, though! I had waited a long time for these to go on sale like this.

So, to be frugal, sometimes we have to spend! Don't you just love the feeling of a stocked pantry and freezer?!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Blonde Brownies

I use all "real" ingredients in these brownies, but, um......they really are not good for you! :)

Brown sugar is what defines these brownies as blonde. Top them with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce for a bonus.

1 (16 oz.) package brown sugar
3/4 cup butter
3 large eggs
2 3/4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped pecans (I don't always put these in.)
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Heat sugar and butter in a saucepan over medium heat until butter melts and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat. Cool slightly. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition.
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; add to sugar mixture, stirring well. Stir in pecans and vanilla. Pour into a greased and floured 13 x 9 inch pan. Bake at 350* for 25 to 28 min. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into bars. Yield: 2 dozen.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Living Rich

This post from Carocoknits Weblog sums up my vision on frugality.

Know that you don’t need hundreds of pairs of earrings. Know that there are other ways to save money than using an egg carton as an earring holder. Simple living is about knowing what is important to you. It is not about baking bread and raising chickens. It is about making choices that are strictly based on you, not about what the neighbors might think.

I had been wanting to put on paper my swirling thoughts concerning "living rich". But I kept running into a brick wall, because I really don't know myself well enough yet. There are too many other voices still whispering in my head for me to be able to clearly know what I need in order to feel as though I am "living rich". Oh, there are moments of my day, when I "know" that what I'm experiencing or seeing is truly "rich". For instance, yesterday morning, Kiersten wanted to make a fruit salad. All we had was a pear and an orange, but we cut these up in bite size pieces and sat down to tea and fruit salad together. As we clasped hands over our little breakfast and I heard her sweet little voice pray, "Our dear Lord Jesus.....", I knew it was a moment that I wanted to hold onto! And, by the way, the fruit salad was delicious! Simple can be so wonderfully sweet!

"Living rich" is going to look so different for all of us, isn't it?! Just as living a frugal life fleshes itself out in very different ways in each family! I'm convinced, though, that for me to truly live a frugal life, I'm going to have to work on "living rich", which means I have to get to know myself! I have to listen to my true thoughts, now those fed to me from so many outside sources. And, of course, I must find QUIET in this noisy world that I might be able to hear the voice of the Spirit of God who created me. My Creator wants to teach me who I am and I know that I can learn that best by knowing who HE is!

By the way, I love to make bread and we do raise chickens! I feel quite rich as I sit down with my family to fresh baked bread lathered with real butter! And I find great joy watching the chickens free range across our property! I guess in my case, raising chickens and making bread fit into my living a rich life! But I understand that doing this might make you feel quite poor!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

March Food Budget

I did it! Two months in a row now, I've stayed under my $500.00 amount budgeted for our food expenses. I'm finding that by the end of the month we are running low on quite a few items; therefore, the first week of the month I'm spending quite a bit of money. This first week of April I spent to the tune of $260 some odd dollars. I didn't splurge, just restocked. I did put in a coop order that included, molasses ( at only $5 and something a GALLON!), agave nectar, organic popcorn, sea salt, etc.

I'm excited about the organic popcorn that I was able to purchase through the coop! I got a 5 pound bag and we've already enjoyed some big bowls of yummy buttery, salty popcorn! It's a healthy, cheap, quick snack. What more could you want?

I'm staying under budget, but I have yet to put any money back towards meat purchases from local farmers. I really would like to do some more pork and by the end of the year I'm going to want more beef. Since I've already spent so much this month, I don't see how I will be able put any money back. Guess I need to spend some time thinking on this one.

I'm still not making a weekly menu. As I read blogs, so many ladies swear that by planning a menu, they save money. It's not my personality to plan my meals ahead, but that doesn't mean it wouldn't benefit me to do so. I don't know, it's as if my creativity is stifled if I have to think too far ahead when it comes to food. Lame excuse, right?!

This month we've been able to purchase raw goat's milk. Oh, it is so creamy, rich, and sweet! I've been making lots of kefir which we use in our shakes. I pack two fruit and kefir shakes for my husband to take to work every day. The kids and I enjoy them for breakfast!

Prices have gone up on so many of our basic necessities. We live in uncertain times but I think our outlook on life really matters! I'm focusing on trying to live "rich" on what we have. I can't say that I feel we've gone without anything because of the increase in grocery prices, unless it would be less fresh produce. There are times I stand in the produce isle and look....and then just walk away. I have "limits" that I just won't cross. Do you do this? For instance, I won't pay more than $1.99 for 10 pounds of potatoes. We just do without if they cost more than that. I buy a couple bags when the price comes back down. We just eat some other starch if we are out of potatoes. No one in our family knows the difference. No one feels that we've gone without anything. We feel blessed with what we have!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Mothering Philosophy

I just wanted to say that this post by Like Merchant Ships matches up with my mothering philosophy very much! I'm no expert but my children seem happy enough, especially when they are dirty!

The guys all enjoyed a very wet, muddy camping trip this past weekend. I'm just now catching up on all the laundry as our well was hit by lightning over the weekend and we were without water for a while. Thankfully, the damaged parts have been replaced and we are in full laundry mode again! I even got my kitchen floor mopped today!

Last weekend it was warm enough for the kids to wade in our creek which was up more than usual because of all the rain. Since our creek is in the middle of the woods, there are vines to swing on and all sorts of other adventures to be found. The kids would come in for some clean, dry clothes and head back out later on. Roasting marshmallows was a great ending to our day!

Recently, there has been a lot of new life around: new plants, baby goats, and day-old chicks. What fun! Spring is here!