Monthly Archives: February 2011

One Crazy Night…

So, let me tell you about our night last night! I took a Tylenol Cold & Sinus PM after lunch on Sunday and slept till 5:30 or so. Then we went outside and did a little raking and started a small leaf fire. No big deal, right?!

Well, around 7pm, the firemen show up, truck and all, and ask us to put it out. Apparently, you’re not allowed to burn after 3pm, and you need a permit. So, just a warning, but we hosed it out, and all was good. (A neighbor had called it in.)

About 4AM, we got ANOTHER knock on the door/doorbell ringing. We were afraid the fire had rekindled, but that was NOT the case.

Police officer this time. Wanted to inform us that we were one of four cars in the neighborhood that had been broken into. Fortunately, they caught the guy just around the corner and we were able to get everything back!

Apparently, we hit the wrong button when we tried to lock our car after church, so it was unlocked, and consequently broken into. At least they didn’t damage the vehicle. But, boy, did I feel stupid.

After finally getting home around 5 am (with a sinus headache by now, mind you), and falling back asleep around 6, the alarm went off at 6:30, and I groaned, “No way!” So I sent an email to my boss and took a half day personal, getting into the office about noon. Woke up about 9, ate breakfast and went on a short walk with Bryan, then came in to work. The fresh air definitely helped my sinuses too.

This Week’s Basket and Meal Plan

If you live in the Greenville, SC, area (that means everywhere from Easley to Greer, and Simpsonville to Spartanburg) and haven’t tried Milk & Honey Organics yet, please try it! Also, it would be a cool gift for new parents, birthdays, sick loved ones, or a grieving family! Be sure to fill out the surveys on their website’s sidebar to get $5 off your first order. Order by Tuesday at noon for delivery on Thursday or Friday (depending on where you live).

 

This Week’s Basket: Green Beans, Carrots, Red Chard, White Garlic, Green Cabbage, Hurricane Creek Farms Heirloom Tomatoes, Rutabaga, Golden Nugget Mandarins, Navel Oranges, and Fancy Granny Smith Apples.

On Hand: Freezer: Edamame, Berries, Bananas, Nuts, Chili, Flank Steak, Whole Chickens; Fridge: Turkey Broth, Mango Salsa, Apples, Oranges, Celery, Pomegranate, Milk, Soy Milk, Carrot Juice, Kefir, Eggs, Mushrooms; Pantry: Rice, Quinoa, Steel Cut Oats, Pasta, Tomato Paste, Garlic, Yam, Shallots, Onion, Coconut Milk, PB, & Honey.

Grocery List: Food:3 dozen eggs, lettuce, mushrooms, mozzarella and pizza sauce (for pizza), feta or goat cheese (for salads), spicy brown mustard (to keep on hand), cereal, olive oil, half-and-half (for coffee). Household Items: white vinegar (for laundry softener and dishwasher rinse cycle), organic non-chlorine bleach (thank you, Publix!), and paper towels.

This week, I decided to just put generalizations down and not fix a certain meal to a certain day (it’s kind of what’s been happening anyway). So, I start with the weekly meal calendar template and make sure there’s something in every square, and then end up drawing arrows to rearrange based on what we feel like that night. (Note: All ingredients in basket are organic. Ingredients On Hand and on Grocery List are all-natural or organic, if at all possible. Read “all-natural” labels carefully: it means different things to different people. I try to only buy the all-natural products that don’t use added hormones, pesticides, or antibiotics.)

Meals for This Week: Breakfasts: Blueberry Scones, Smoothies (with frozen fruit, kefir, and carrot juice), Warm & Nutty Cinnamon Quinoa, Steel Cut Oats, Basil Omelet Cups (for Sunday: we’re in charge of snacks this week), and, of course, Raisin Bran with Fruit; Lunches: Leftovers, PB&J with Carrots, Chili & Baked Potatoes, Sliced Tomatoes, Fruit, and Homemade Pizza and Salad (for Saturday); Dinners: Ginger Citrus Stirfry, Flank Steak with Roasted Roots (potatoes, carrots, rutabaga, yam, onion) and Green Beans with Pomegranate (for Sunday – see comment in link for recipe), Chili & Baked Potatoes,  Garlicky Red Chard and Coconut Rice, and Garlic Sauteed Cabbage with Potato Wedges.

Bryan was just commenting this past week that he loves the way we cook. It’s hard to put in words. It’s kind of a North + South thing. We don’t cook exactly like my family (from the North) and we don’t cook exactly like his family (from the South). We’ve kind of taken the best from both (in our opinion, of course) and removed a lot of the frying and meat in general (frying for health reasons, meat for budget reasons) and added a bunch of fresh, organic produce to the mix. We love trying new things, but we have those few staple meals that find their way into our menu plan, intentionally or otherwise, on a regular basis (mostly breakfast items, roasted veggies, homemade pizza, and stirfry, though every once in a while we do break down and have turkey dogs with slaw and mac ‘n’ cheese – but we’re learning to find organic and whole grain options to make even these little guilty pleasures better for us) .

Updates to the Blog…

I’ve recently updated a few things on the blog.

First, the “Blogs I Follow” RSS Feeds and “Other Links” sections that were on the sidebar are now in a list on my “Resources” page.

Second, I moved the “Archives” and “Categories” sections from the sidebar to the footer, with the “Blog Stats” above the “Archives” and a second “Search” toolbar above the “Categories” section. I hope this makes things easier for you to search, while cleaning up the sidebar. (Command + Down Arrow on Mac or Ctrl + End on PC should take you to the bottom of the page.)

I’m still looking for a way to shorten the initial text for each post on the main page to a preview with a link for “the rest of the story,” but haven’t figured it out yet on this particular WordPress theme/template. So, if you have any suggestions, feel free to let me.

As always, thanks for following and enjoy the journey! ~Melissa

Weekending

This past weekend started with dinner at Flat Rock Cafe with Bryan and his folks. I had the Hickory Salmon on a Flatrock Salad, which has blue cheese, glazed walnuts, dried cranberries and sliced granny smith apples. Yum!

Saturday started early. Bryan had Men’s Prayer Breakfast at church, and I had my friend Heather (of Wife Mom Runner) over for breakfast. We had Basil Omelet Cups and Organic Fruit Salad. I added spinach, mushrooms, and ground sausage to the eggs and used mozzarella instead of cheddar. They were delicious! The fruit salad was compliments of all the wonderful things from my Milk & Honey Organics baskets the last two weeks (orange segments, apple, pear, banana, and blueberries). Yum! And such a good time catching up with Heather!

We stayed up far too late on Friday night catching up on Hulu and talking, so after Bryan got home, we took a short nap before I got ready for my lunch interview. It’s not what you think. I actually interviewed Christine, the owner of Milk & Honey Organics.

Christine and I met at Everyday Organic at Cherrydale (one of my new favorites) and had a wonderful time. She had the chicken salad on wheat and I had the Cherrydale Turkey on wheat (turkey, lettuce, goat cheese, and sliced granny smith apples), each with the quinoa salad as our side dish. We split our sandwiches so we could taste both of them. We talked as if we had been friends for years. I can’t wait to share the interview with you! Stay tuned for that!

For dinner, we met up with our old Game Night group and had a fun time playing Poker, eating chili, drinking IBC root beer, and sharing lemon tarts (along with the age old inside jokes, of course)!

The funniest part about this is that she just cleaned her husband out, and he's still cheering.

I ended up making graham cracker crust crackers (basically, press graham cracker crust into muffin papers and bake at 350F for 5-7 minutes) and topped them with Ina Garten’s lemon curd (in which I used 2 lemons and 2 key limes instead of 3 lemons) and some pomegranate arils. Yum! The first attempt, I filled the lemon curd into the muffin papers, but it never set (even when I tried freezing it), so we tried just a teaspoon on each graham cracker crust cookie, and it worked great. Picture below:

Sunday was a great day of services. Sunday morning, Pastor spoke on Romans 14 and dealing with differences among fellow Christians graciously. In our Sunday School class, we had a couple give a testimony of their experiences making difficult decisions (which included a long distance engagement, living in China, getting pregnant in the first few months of their marriage, having a child with only half a heart, doing a short term mission to Indonesia, getting pregnant again, and traveling on deputation to return to Indonesia). It was a wonderful, transparent time that really helped me see that we’re not the only couple going through life changing decisions and challenges.

Sunday lunch was garlic-y sauteed greens and roasted yams and yukons (golden potatoes, that is)! We haven’t consciously made a choice to become vegetarians or anything like that, but due to current budget constraints, it just happens in about 75% of our meals right now. The cool part is, we both love fruits and vegetables, and it’s fun experimenting with putting different ones together. And when we do splurge for meat, it doesn’t feel quite so bad to spend the money on all-natural and organic options because it’s more of a treat than a necessity.

Sunday night, we were privileged to watch the premiere showing of the fourth Dispatches from the Front DVD, a glimpse into God’s Kingdom in India. It was inspiring and beautiful! God really is working all over the world, and His purposes are so much bigger than I can understand. It’s like I’m looking up, asking “Why?” and only being able to see the underside of a tapestry. Meanwhile, God is looking down and seeing the beautiful artistry of all those strings woven together into a perfect picture! And I have to choose to stop trying to figure out the strings on the underside and just trust the Artist!

Finally, I want to share a blog I recently came across.

This blog is put together by a Christian couple, living a simple life. It’s called Frugal Granola, and I can’t stop reading it! Check it out. They’ve got great recipes, crafts, devotionals, etc., but the Simple Living section is my favorite. It’s like reading a beautiful novel. It’s about making difficult choices to follow the dream of a simple life, the challenges of miscarriage and adoption, the joys of being a stay-at-home mom, and the journey of their marriage. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

I’ve been learning so much recently, but I’m having a hard time putting it into words. God is stretching me and reinforcing my heart’s desires and teaching me to trust Him by trusting my husband, and so many other things. Just know my heart is full. God is so good and I am truly overwhelmed by that instead of my circumstances right now. Have a great week! It’s a busy week, but I’ll be back soon, so stay tuned!

~Melissa

DIY Lavender and Honeysuckle Laundry Detergent

I’ve been reading up on various recipes and tips for saving some money and making my own laundry detergent. Here’s what I came up with for my first attempt:

100% Natural Ingredients: 2 bars of Clearly Natural Honeysuckle Glycerin Soap (yield: 4 c. grated), 2 c. All Natural Borax and 2 c. All Natural Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (both found in your laundry detergent aisle at your local grocery store),  30 drops lavender essential oil. (Note: This is WAY cheaper than normal laundry detergent!)
Grate the soap. I started with a box grater, but it took a while, so I used my food processor to start and finished with the box grater. Measure Borax and Washing Soda.
I poured too much Borax. Hint: Use a flexible funnel if you do this.
Mix all ingredients together (you can use your hands if you want). Add 30 drops of lavender essential oil. Optional: add 1-2 c. OxiClean at this point.

Seal in a labeled, air-tight container. Use 2 Tbsp. per load. (Optional: add up to 1/2 c. white vinegar in rinse cycle for natural fabric softener.)

Here are some more websites with other Homemade Laundry Detergent recipes:

http://www.goinghometoroost.com/2010/handmade/make-your-own-laundry-detergent/

http://www.thesimpledollar.com/2008/04/09/making-your-own-laundry-detergent-a-detailed-visual-guide/

http://planetgreen.discovery.com/home-garden/make-your-own-laundry-soap.html

http://tipnut.com/10-homemade-laundry-soap-detergent-recipes/

What’s up next? Homemade Dishwasher Detergent:

Wash: Equal parts Borax and Baking Soda (NOT Washing Soda; 1-2 Tbsp. each)

Rinse: white vinegar (+ lemon juice), optional

Yep, it’s that simple.

Milk and Honey Organics Delivery – and A New Meal Plan!

This week’s basket: Jonagold apples, Extra Fancy Navel Oranges, Fair Trade Bananas, Blueberries, Limes, Collards, Boston Butter Lettuce, Celery, Sugar Snap Peas, Yukon Gold Potatoes and Fennel (I requested a substitute for the fennel, since it’s not one of my favorites, and was surprised with some baby bok choy instead…yeah!). I know you want one too, so order it now at Milk & Honey Organics for next week. This is the Starter Basket for $35.

Here’s the menu plan for this week:

Recipe Links:

Lemon Tarts (using Lemon Curd recipe from Ina Garten) or Lemon Cake with Lime Curd and Pomegranate from Design Sponge

Egg Casserole (my mom’s recipe, of course)

Lentil Walnut Burgers from Whole Food’s Market

Brandied Sausage Stuffing (aka Turkey Roulade) from Ina Garten

Smoothies (be creative: the link provides a basic formula)

Also, I may try these this week:

Homemade Wheat Thins from Oh She Glows

Whole Wheat English Muffins from Simply Life

Blueberry Salsa from Southern Living

What to Do with Leftovers…

Well, we had a few things left over from this last week’s produce basket, so here’s what happened: salad with mango salsa and strawberries for me; salad, sliced strawberries, and cheesy cauliflower for Bryan; harvest grains cooked in leftover turkey broth and eggs for both of us. Yum!

Melissa's is on the left - Bryan's is on the right - Yum!

Today’s Special Speaker: Chris Gardner

Today at our annual Awards Ceremony for work, they played the trailer to Pursuit of Happyness with Will Smith. Then, they introduced the man who inspired the true story behind the movie, Chris Gardner! He was funny, engaging and inspiring. He told us to follow our dreams and never give up on them. He talked of faith in God, a devotion to family and an iron work ethic.

(The pictures are low resolution because all I had was the zoom on my point and shoot.)

Green Remedies from Good Morning America Health

Check out the video above for great home remedies, including homemade hand sanitizer, honey, garlic, and organic milk.

http://abcnews.go.com/assets/player/walt2.6/flash/SFP_Walt_2_65.swf

My Funny Valentine, Sweet Comic Valentine…

We don’t go out for Valentine’s Day. And we don’t buy flowers or stuffed animals, or anything like that. But we did decide to celebrate and have a special “us night” in. We started with a special organic stir-fry dinner (recipe below), then went for a nice walk, stopped by Target and picked out Valentine’s Day cards, exchanged them, and promptly stuck them back on the shelves, laughing and smiling. Then we headed home for some organic strawberries and organic chocolate truffles (free from Earthfare this week), while watching a sweet & funny episode of Chuck (one of our favorite TV series). I love hanging out with my man!

He created a fabulous ginger citrus stir-fry tonight, using all kinds or organic goodness! Here’s the ingredients:

  • 2-3 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 bunch of organic baby bok choy, chopped
  • 8 organic baby carrots, chopped
  • 8 organic baby bella mushrooms, quartered
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2″ fresh organic ginger root, peeled and chopped
  • juice of 1 organic blood orange (and zest, if desired)
  • 1 organic rotisserie chicken, about 3 lbs., shredded (seasoned with butter, fresh garlic, salt, pepper, and garlic powder)

Start with a wok at 250-300F, add butter and melt, then add vegetables and cook for 3-4 minutes, then ginger, garlic and juice and cook for 1-2 more minutes, and finally the chicken, until warmed through.

Serve with the following accompaniment, sauteed over medium low heat:

  • 1 tsp. butter
  • 4 organic scallions, chopped
  • 1/4 organic red pepper, diced
  • 1/4 organic green pepper, diced
  • 1 Tbsp. Kame all-natural sweet chili sauce

Definitely eat with chopsticks and dim the lighting! (Sorry, the dinner pics were taken on Bryan’s iPhone, which didn’t like the dim lighting as much as we did!)

Bon Appetit! And Happy Valentine’s Day!