Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Christmas Baking

I like to plan ahead. You might think I'm bored, but it's always been this way. I do the same thing for birthdays too.

For my Christmas baking I like to keep things unique, yet simple. The result usually leans more towards simple... This year I plan to make 3 or 4 treats and a few quick breads. I suppose there might be some gingerbread men and a gingerbread house somewhere in the mix too.

Here's my plan:
Peanut Clusters (new for me)
Long Pretzel Sticks dipped in chocolate & rolled in chopped nuts or m&ms. (also new for me)
My mom's cookies (everyone's favorite)
Banana Bread (another favorite)
Cranberry nut bread (MY favorite)
Apple/Caramel Cinnamon Rolls (something new)

I'll post the recipes as I get to making them or direct you to the place I got it from (like The Pioneer Woman).

Christmastime's a Comin'!

We have about 13 weeks left before Christmas and for those of us that get paid about twice a month, that's 6 more paydays! If you don't have your Christmas savings started, then you better get on it! If you save $250 each payday from now until Christmas you'll have $1,500!

Let me break it down for you:
$250 x 6 = $1,500
$200 x 6 = $1,200
$150 x 6 = $900
$100 x 6 = $600
$ 50 x 6 = $300

Of course only you can say how much you've already put aside for Christmas or how much you'll need to spend.

When I made my Christmas list (last night) I wrote down the name of each person I plan to buy gifts for. To the left of the person's name I made a column for the approximate amount of money that I would like to spend (or that I usually spend). We typically spend about $50 on each parent (or parent set) but sometimes (usually) that goes over. It isn't that we try to make it so "dollar specific", but just that we like to go crazy and have to get a grip. Our limits aren't set in stone but if we decide to go over, we discuss it first. For our siblings we try to stay around $25, but some of them have children so I try to budget for little extras there as well. To the right of each name I jotted down some ideas that I've been thinking of (since last Christmas, sometimes). This handy little list can slip right into your purse or pocket so that when you pull it out you'll have your names, items, and spending bracket. At the bottom you can tally up the money you plan to spend and you'll know exactly how much you'll need.

My husband and I often do a joint gift, one year we bought a digital camera, another year we each got a nice watch, sometimes we'll just do shopping money for new clothes, this year we're hoping for a deep freeze!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

I am a Christian

Being a Christian is so ingrained in my life that I consider it more of a "given" than something to point out. I believe that someone should be able to understand that I am a Christian by having a conversation with me or by observing my lifestyle and choices. Because of this I often (boldly) assume that everyone around me believes like I do. I guess it's part of giving people the benefit of a doubt, or seeing the best in them, I don't know. It is my great desire to wear my Christianity on the outside of myself so that there is never a doubt about what I believe or what I stand for. If, for example, you want to know my political persuasions, I will tell you that I lean in a certain direction based on my own values and morals. If you want to talk about abortion I will tell you that it rips my heart out to think people have them willingly. If you tell me you want to have an affair then I will urge you to fall in love with your husband. If you tell me your husband is abusive I will encourage you to find help, not to stay in a dangerous situation. If you're considering divorce, I urge you to reconsider. People who grow apart can grow back together, if they want to. Many times divorce is the lazy way out. These are many opinions that I generally keep to myself. It is not my desire to offend or to push someone away by my strong beliefs. I usually will not offer my opinions or beliefs unless I'm asked to, unless I feel I must. If I feel that I must share something, and then I resist, I believe that is a sin. I believe that the best Christian witness is the life of a Christian who lives what he or she believes. Words are just words until you make them your life.
It is my honor to call myself a follower of Christ. It is my honor to live my life so that it is worthy of the calling I have received. I am a Christian and I am proud to be.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Coconut Oil

Have I ever told you about the benefits of coconut oil? Well I'm not going to, not here anyway. Let me direct you to my other blog, Café de Santé.

This is a blog that my mother and I have just started, in order to answer the many questions that we receive about food as related to health, or health as related to food, and questions about natural remedies. We believe that everything natural was made by God with a purpose. Sometimes the purpose is for healing, sometimes for preventing, even sometimes just for enjoying.

Thanks for reading about the miracle of Coconut Oil! I hope you dare to try it and I hope you fall in love.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Charming Charlie

Charming Charlie is a great store that we have in our Battlefield Mall.
My girl friends have been talking about it lately but, since I'm not much of a shopper, I didn't just run right out to see it. I have told people about the store though because I really like what I've heard about their set-up. They have their products arranged by colors, so if you're looking for something in red... there's a spot for that! Well, as I walked into the mall (heading for a certain coffee spot who's name is on my travel mug) I noticed the store and had to get a peek. Here's what I found.

They have accessories in every color, all throughout the store. They have clothing, shoes, and bags to match!

There's a section for gold,

Another for purple.

More space for purple and even some blue. That isn't all though, they have yellow, green, blacks, pearls, pinks, even animal prints and an "army-type" section. Something for everyone I tell ya.

I will definitely be spending some birthday money in here this year, I found a pretty little handbag I'd sure like to carry...and I loved the chandeliers they have all over the shop. It's all very glitz and glam.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Coconut Chicken

Today I made Coconut Chicken for lunch with Broccoli, Fried Apples, and Ezekiel bread. I'll tell you how it all went down.

Chicken Breast
Ezekiel Bread
2 or 3 Tablespoons of Coconut Oil (per skillet)
1 Tablespoon of coconut flakes per chicken serving
1/8 teaspoon apple pie spice (per apple)
Dash of Himalayan salt for bread and apples.
Just a smidgen of Stevia

For the stevia, I like the KAL brand but I hear the liquid stevia is pretty good too. Did I just say "I like" and "stevia" in the same sentence? I think we're making more than lunch here folks, smells like progress.

I started with a cast iron skillet that was hot with coconut oil. I fry broccoli, I like it well done and crispy. Let this cook a couple of minutes while you set up the next pan. It'll cook a lot longer while you're making the rest. Toss it around a couple of times, you'll know when it's done.

In another skillet, flash fry in coconut oil some coconut flakes, then add chicken medallions. I coat the chicken pieces with the coconut flakes while it cooks and let it cook thoroughly. Once the chicken is fully cooked remove it to a separate plate.

While the broccoli is cooking and after the chicken has been removed slice or dice an apple (per person) into the same pan, toss with a dash of stevia and some apple pie spice (or cinnamon) until the apple bits are browned. Just before removing the apples, drizzle them with a tablespoon or two of water. This will pull the flavors up from the bottom of the pan and make a type of reduction, or sauce, to be served with the apples. You can pour a bit of cream over the apples for added decadence.

Want to know how I make my Ezekiel Bread?
Oh, you do! Ok, pull your slices from the freezer and every good boy or girl keeps it there. "Butter" both sides of your frozen bread with coconut oil (or even real butter). It will, of course, freeze onto the bread, it's perfect. Now, toss the bread into the apple skillet and grill as if you're making a grilled cheese sandwhich. Let the bread get slightly browned and crunchy. I throw a little salt over mine, sometimes even cinnamon or apple pie spice and a dusting of stevia. It's better than cinnamon toast Ladies and Gents! Or you can fry it up with coconut oil, salt it, and call it super-groovy. Because it is, no matter how you have it.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Ode to Grampa Harry, though it's neither lyrical nor poetic.

My beloved Grampa Harry passed away from this world, just last week. Grampa was known by a few names; and though most every one called him Harry, we grandchildren made up our own names for him. All on our own, it seems, and each set of grand kids had their own, I noticed when I was little. I remember one set of cousins always called him "Papa" but that never seemed to fit him, not to me. To some of the other's he was Grandpa Smith (I decided not to use his real last name here), but that seemed to stodgy, to me. I know that my cousin's daughter calls him "Papa Airy" which seems like such a perfect name for some one so special. I think she sounds a little English when she says it, dropping the "H" sound like she does. Our name was always Grampa, and I never really thought of it until I tried to spell it. Grandpa didn't look the way I feel when I speak his name. I wondered what it was for a couple of years but didn't really look into it much. While I was in high school my friend laughed at the way I said his name, "Grand Pa" she enunciated for me. Then it hit me, he was not "Grand Pa', not to me, and not to my brother or sister. He was our Grampa, and Grandma is our Gramma. A little emphasis on that first "a", and there you have it.
I was there for the days before he died, and the visitation was, traditionally, the night before his funeral. In the daytime, before the visitation, my family member gathered all around at Gramma's for closeness and lunch. My cousins, My brother and his wife, and I talked about our memories of Grampa and what a funny and playful guy he always was. We talked about his gentleness that never seemed to leave him, and always lent him patience. He would join us at play, even if it meant setting aside his coffee and paper. We found that he made time to take each of use to work with him more than once, and sometimes especially, just by ourselves. One of my cousins remembers a lakeside picnic lunch break, and another remembers his office as a frequent spot to visit. I remember most the long drive that was canopied by trees, with a cool breeze, the kind that only happens in a well shaded forest. It felt like a fairy tale, a place where dreams could come true. I remember it most as Autumn, but I know we were there while the trees were green as well. I remember many visits to Grampa's work. He was a very important man, it always seemed. He really was, as it turned out, to an entire city of people, but to me he was my Grampa. That was more than anything, it was worth everything.