Friday, February 29, 2008

Hillbilly Housewives

I don't have much today for Frugal Friday except to share my favorite frugal website: Hillbilly Housewives.
It has lots recipes (like recipes for making your own "convenient foods" and lots of things to do with dried milk), tips on menu planning, grocery lists, homeschooling curriculum, etc. If you go to their website, I suggest checking out "Recipes," "Other Goodies," and "Healthy HBHW."

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Newsletter

We just emailed out our recent newsletter. If you would like to receive it, but did not, Please let me know!

Hummus

Recipe
Beth at The Natural Mommy is hosting a healthy snack recipe exchange today. I decided to submit my favorite recipe for hummus. My mother-in-law gave me this recipe, and I think that the chipotle chilies and cilantro really make this recipe.

2- 15 oz cans garbonzo beans (chickpeas) drained. I use dried, pre-soaked chick peas and fill my mini food processor almost to the top.
1/2 Cup water
1/4 C + 2 T tahini (I do not have this, so I leave it out)
2 T olive oil
2 1/2 t minced canned chipotle chilies (I do this to taste)
1 Large garlic clove
1 1/2 t ground cumin (or to taste)
1- 4oz jar slice pimentos
Blend these ingredients in the food processor. Add more oil or water if needed.
Add:

1/3 C chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
Blend a little more.

Great with crackers (esp. whole wheat) or veggies!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Crochet for Pots and Pans


I really like my metal pots.
When we moved here, we decided to buy some of the Dominican metal pots. However, the factory made ones were way more than we wanted to spend. So, we found some handmade ones that did not have plastic handles. They're wonderful. But, it can get annoying having to hunt down a hot pad whenever we want to lift the lid or move the pot. After a few burned hands, we got used to it. It wasn't a big deal. But then a friend mentioned something about how nice it would have been if they at least came wrapped in cloth. "Ah ha!" I thought. I was looking for a useful crochet project. So, I started crocheting. This is what I came up with. It works wonderfully and it's so nice not having to grab the hot pad. I have one more set to make. I just wish I'd done this earlier!
For more helpful tips, go to Rocks in My Dryer.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The baseball fan

Here are some pictures of the little cutie. :) Doesn't he make a great baseball fan?
This is especially for the grandmas (White Sox outfit from Nonna Gerig, measuring spoons from Grandma Dee)




Here's a video of Jeremiah ?dancing? We're not quite sure what he's doing. Sometimes he also does this in his swing. It might be because he's trying to swing himself.

video

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Menu Plan for the Week

So, here's how we did this week:
It was a $60 week. $25 of that was towards a liter of olive oil and enough milk powder to make 4 gallons. We probably won't even use much of that this week, so if you negate that, it was a $35 week. Not bad.
Saturday: Roast chicken and Veggie Rice (Save chicken and stock for later use).

Sunday: Chicken stir fry- Lots of veggies and some of the leftover chicken served over stir-fried pasta. Spices include onion, garlic, hot pepper, ginger, sesame and oyster sauce. It was yummy!
Evening meal- Mashed Potato and gravy sandwiches with a little leftover chicken.

Monday- Date night. Broccoli and Italian Sausage (sausage homemade and given to us by a couple here) Risotto, salad

Tuesday- Dinner Party

Wednesday- Homemade pasta sauce from the freezer, pasta, salad, bread

Thursday- Vietnamese Chicken soup and Vietnamese Salad using leftover chicken and broth.

Friday- Leftovers/Throw together

Lunch Ideas; Tuna, Veggies and Hummus, Yogurt (when I make it), Fruit, Leftover pasta salad with leftover chicken and leftover homemade BBQ sauce.

I'm going to try to make a least one bean meal a week to substitute for meat (some meals we have no protein substitute for meat, but I don't want to do that often). Speaking of which, what are other inexpensive substitutes for meat?

Friday, February 22, 2008

Grocery Shopping Adventure

Grocery shopping here is usually an adventure. Daniel used to be the shopper (back when we had the motorcycle), but it always took up a good chunk of his Saturdays. Why? Because we have to make 4 stops- the supermarket (actually, 2 different ones) for the packaged goods (flour, rice, pasta, etc); fruit market for the fruit; vegetable market for the veggies; and meat market for the meat. After the motorcycle was stolen, the amount of time it took Daniel to shop grew. Now that I have more time (not teaching Pre-K), I want to help out with the shopping. If we have a long list, I try to get a ride with someone. Otherwise, I walk. This week's list was shorter, so I thought I'd walk.
Brief interlude
When I make my list, I split the food items into 4 categories:
-Meat
-Veggies
-Fruit
-Supermarket items
These coordinate with the 4 different places.
The longer the produce lists are, and the sorter the other lists are, the happier the budget will be. I really enjoy living in a place where fresh produce is so inexpensive. However, packaged items are much more expensive, and meat is somewhat comparable.
Expensive items here are: oil, milk ($4+ per gallon if you buy skim), milk products, convenience foods, salsa, etc. When I realize that food is comparable, but average income is over 5X less here, it makes me realize why I feel like we spend so much on food. Relatively speaking, it's about 5x more. Which makes me understand why those in poverty here have such a hard time feeding their families (many, who have jobs, have to work more than 1, even if they don't live in poverty). I feel like we do a good job when we spend $40 per week (usually ends up being $150-$200/month) , but when I think about our monthly income being $800 (well, technically this is our budget, we're still raising support to reach it), it doesn't seem quite as good. Ah well, the important thing is that God is providing, and we're eating yummy produce.
end "brief" interlude
So, back to me walking. I strapped Jeremiah into the carrier on my front; took an almost empty diaper back-pack, and walked down the hill to the grocery store (5 min walk) after stopping in at the wood stain store to say hi to a friend. First, I bought some groceries at the first supermarket (I only made it to one in this trip), and filled my diaper back-pack with the items. Then, I walked to the market to buy veggies. I bought a huge bag full of vegetables (which were put all in one bag) and somehow made it back up the hill to my house. Daniel estimated that the bag of groceries weighed at least 20 pounds (he thought closer to 25). Wow, I'm not sure I'm going to want to do that very often. That was my workout for the day. And we still had the meat market, other grocery store, and fruit market to go to. Luckily, I just found out that the meat market delivers for free, so that should help in the future.

Anyway, once we buy all our groceries I'll blog my menu plan and how we did (though I already know we went over our budget- arg!)

Bag of Veggies

Yummy Produce!

Frugal Dairy

Dairy is expensive here. Sour cream is almost non-existent (it's imported from the States). When they do have sour cream, it's not affordable ($4-$5 for the standard size). Cream cheese can also get pricey. As a result, we substitute a lot. When we can find yogurt that is non-flavored and non-sugared, we buy it and make yogurt cheese. To do this, I take my strainer, line it with a coffee filter, and pour in the yogurt. It takes all of 30 seconds. Then I stick it on top of a sauce pan and put it in the fridge. I leave it overnight or for the day. When it's the consistency I like, I pull it out (the yogurt here is drinkable, so it probably takes longer than in the States). For a cream cheese substitute, I make it a little thicker than for sour cream. Unfortunately, I sometimes cannot find yogurt that does not have sugar or vanilla. I used to make my own yogurt, but I'm not sure if it's worth the time for what money it saves- powdered milk is expensive here too, especially skim milk (here most powdered milk is full cream, they only recently started selling skim in our town). If anyone has tips on how to make yogurt quickly, I would love to hear it!
Find more frugal tips at Biblical Womanhood.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Keeping the Romance Alive

Today for Works for me Wednesday I want to share something Daniel and I do to remind each other how much we care about each other. Back when we were still dating, we decided to celebrate our month-aversary. We didn't do very good about this then, but it's something we try to stay faithful to now. We don't do anything fancy- a card, a note, a poem, a song, a dance, a food treat, etc. The idea is to do something little to say, "I love you." It's a great way to keep the romance in our marriage. This doesn't take the place of doing random things, but it's a way to remind us to think of something special for each other. One time in college I made a power point for him. It's fun to get creative! Our dating anniversary was the 29th (july), as is our marriage (january). We fondly call it "SUD" (Special Us Day). (Sappy, I know).
What are some ways you keep the romance alive in your marriage?

For more Works for me Wednesday, see Rocks in My Dryer.

Link Meme

Here's a way to discover new blogs and share yours as well.
I've been tagged for a link meme:

*Start Copying Here*

I have randomly selected 5 of you below to be tagged and I hope that you will similarly publish this post in your blog. You will have to tag 5 other bloggers and just keep adding on to the list. (Do not replace, just keep on adding! Yes we hope it will be a long list!)

It’s real easy!

Tag others and see your Technorati Authority increase exponentially!

The benefits of Viral Linking:
- One of the fastest ways to see your technorati authority explode!
- Increase your Google PageRank fast
- Attract large volume of new traffic to your site
- Build your community
- Make new friends!

The Strategist Notebook ~ Link Addiction ~ Ardour of the Heart ~ When Life Becomes a Book ~ The Malaysian Life ~ Yogatta.com ~ What goes under the sun ~ Roshidan’s Cyber Station ~ Sasha says ~ Arts of Physics ~ And the legend lives ~ My View, My Life ~ A Simple Life ~ Juliana RW ~ Mom Knows Everything ~ Beth & Cory's Mom ~ A Mind Forever Voyaging~ enjoying the ride ~ Jennifer's thoughts ~ Mom of 3 Girls ~ Amanda ~ Don't Make Me Get The Flying Monkeys ~ ExPat Mom ~ Just Jessie ~ Wilson Six ~Krisitn ~ Nuttier Than You ~ Shonnte ~ Summer's Nook ~ Laura Williams Musings ~ Melissa's Idea Garden ~~ Eve at Confessions of an Everyday Housewife ~~ Blah Blah Blog ~~ Stop the Ride! ~~ Soap, Blings & Girly Things It's All for the Best ~ Keeping Feet ~ Junky Love in Freehand ~ Getting Out of Debt ~ Free From Broke Knits and Knots ~ Two Kitties and a Puppy ~ Wissman.org ~ Retro Brett ~ Changing Seasons

Regan's Weblog ~ Beauty from Chaos ~ The Natural Mommy ~ Charlie is Here ~ twentysixcats
*Stop Copying*

If your blog is one of the last five, I've tagged you. :)
Have fun exploring blogs!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Happy Valentines!



So I'm a little late, but I don't do much posting over the weekend. On Thursday Jeremiah and I went to school to visit Daniel for lunch. That night we had a babysitter and went to one of the churches here for a couples dinner. It was nice. :) On Saturday we had our yearly tradition. My family had the tradition of eating fondue on Valentine's day (I think it started when I was in junior high). Since we have been married we have continued that tradition. This year, we discussed how we want Valentines to be a family holiday. So we exchanged cards and gifts on Saturday and made sure to have Jeremiah at the table with us.
A little about the meal:
Usually we have cheese fondue with bread, followed by meat and veggies in oil, and finish with fruit in caramel sauce. This year, however, we had to make a slight alteration. Since I'm avoiding milk and want to slowly start dairy again, we had tomato sauce with homemade garlic bread to dip as the appetizer. We also decided to go a little healthier and do a Chinese chicken broth with chicken, zucchini, cabbage, and other veggies to cook in it. We ended with homemade caramel sauce using soy milk and yummy fruit. It was a delicious, fun meal!

Bath time!

Jeremiah loves bath time. He also enjoys playing with his squeaky boat and duck. However, he often tries to eat the boat, and we prevent him, because the boat sucks up water, and the water here is not clean (not to mention the fact that he often pees in his bath!)

Having fun!

Look at that chub!

All clean!

video
In order to stay "modest" tried to have a conveniently located washcloth. However, Jeremiah kept trying to eat the washcloth, so we didn't get much useable footage. This video is ok though. :)

For more meet-and-greet, see Beth's page.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Frugal Beans

For Frugal Friday, my tip is on cheap beans. Obviously, the the cheapest way to buy beans is buying them dry. But who wants to take the time to soak and cook the beans for hours? And what about the times when you don't remember you need the beans until it's too late? Daniel and I have struggled with dry beans while we've lived here. They seemed to take forever. We'd boil them, soak them overnight, boil again, and they still wouldn't be soft!
Last Christmas I bought Daniel a rice maker (a fairly inexpensive soft one). Besides making rice, we've discovered that it works really well for soaking beans. We can put in the beans and water, heat them up on high, and turn them to low during overnight. Since then, dry beans have not been as intimidating to me. Then one day we decided to make extra beans, since we were going to the hassle of soaking them anyway, and we froze a few jars in the freezer. When I pulled out the jars recently to use them for "refried" beans, they were nice and soft and worked wonderfully! So, now if I ever soak the beans, I make extra and freeze them to have beans on hand the next time.
And just recently we found another use for our rice cooker- steaming carrots for hours so they're nice and soft for a tiny toothless mouth!

I thought I would include an easy and good bean dip recipe I got from my mother-in-law. Serve with crackers or veggies as a healthy snack.
Blend the following ingredients (we use a mini-food processor):
1 can navy beans (or a few cups dried and soaked)
olive oil
garlic
lemon juice

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Passionate Part I: Acknowledging His Glory

This is my first posting on my thoughts from the woman's retreat (read my previous post).
After the teaching session on Friday night, we had about 40 minutes for guided individual time. The retreat is located at a beautiful retreat center in Jarabacoa, so I found a place outside, in the dark, to sit, took out my flashlight, held Jeremiah, and started reading. Jeremiah was asleep, so I had about 20 minutes of very peaceful time looking at Psalm 29 (before it started raining and I had to go inside and change Jeremiah's diaper). Our directions were to read over it noting the human actions and God's actions, thinking about what it says about God, and then thinking about how we might react.

This beautiful psalm describes the awesome power and majesty of God.
"The voice of the LORD is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the Lord thunders over the mighty waters." (vs. 3)

It also tells us our proper response,
"Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness" (vs. 2)

As I was reading, verse 9 jumped out at me:
"The voice of the LORD twists the oaks and strips the forests bare.
And in his temple all cry, "Glory."

After reading vs. 9, I had a mental image of an uncountable group of people bowing before God's throne, hearts filled with awe and wonder, unable to say anything but "glory!" What a beautiful picture! I long for such passion; to see the awesome holiness of God as it really is. I've had fleeting glimpses of it- especially through His creation. But I long for the day when I will finally see God's glory unveiled!
The last verse says,
"The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace."
After such a powerful psalm of God's power, I love how it ends with peace. In spite all of that terrifying wonderful power, God is our peace. Or maybe because of that power. After all, doesn't it bring peace to know that the same powerful God who's voice breaks the cedars longs for intimacy with us, in spite of our brokenness?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

How to Survive Cold Midwest Winter Days/Nights

Actually, I've never really been good at surviving these. That's why I moved to the D.R. (that's not really the reason, but it's a plus!) Anyway, I thought in light of the bad weather in the Midwest (and other places around the U.S), I would share my best idea on how to survive it:

Come visit us!!! Anyone?! (Please?)Well, I thought it was worth a try; if this doesn't work, I don't think anything will...

Kitchen Utensils- Getting Creative

Today for Works-for-me-Wednesday, I decided to post on some non-conventional kitchen utensils that work for me.


My Pastry blender
(and sometimes a whisk when the real one is dirty)

My Rolling pin
(it used to be a nalgene, but my husband had it at work with him the day I needed it and this worked just as well; I do have a rolling pin, I just don't like it)

My Toaster

My "Microwave"

My flour sifter

My oven light and temp gauge

My kitchen timer
(just kidding! I use an actual kitchen timer, or sometimes my watch)

Anyone else have any creative kitchen utensils I can add to my list?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Meet the Nursery

I've been meaning to put up pics of the nursery for a while, but I'm finally doing it for Meet-and-Greet Monday.

The door to Jeremiah's room

First hand and foot prints

Shelves made by daddy as school cubbies converted to toy/book shelf; rocking chair with blanket made by Joanna

Winnie the Pooh curtains and stickers above door (we put these stickers around the room)


Dresser/Changing Table made by Daddy

Diaper Station
(The crib is in our room)
Other random pic:
Happy Boy!



Friday, February 08, 2008

Happy 6 Months!

Jeremiah is 6 months old today! To celebrate, we mashed a little banana in his rice cereal. I think he liked it.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Random Pics

First feeding!

I think he likes it!


I just had to post this because of the bad rap iceberg lettuce gets. Isn't it beautiful? And free! (from our neighbor)

The dog who's decided to live under our stairs

Passionate

A few weekends ago I attended a women's retreat. This is the same retreat I went to last year when I was almost 3 months pregnant. This year's theme was "Passionate for God's Presence." What wonderful timing! I've been struggling with the monotony of every day life. I love being a wife and mother, but I was struggling having joy and passion about God and what He is doing in Jarabacoa. As I anticipated the retreat, I was excited, but also a little nervous about how much I would be able to really relax having Jeremiah with me.

On Friday, Daniel dropped me off with Jeremiah and Karen (a mother of 2 and a teacher at JCS, who roomed with me at the retreat). It turned out that this year, Jeremiah was the only baby there (they allow nursing babies). The evening's theme was "acknowleding His glory." Each "session" consists of four main components: worship, teaching time, personal reflection, and small group time. They keep the teaching time short to ensure lots of personal reflection (one of my favorite parts of the retreat!). There were three other sessions that weekend (Saturday morning and evening, and Sunday morning). Their themes were: "valueing God above all things", "remembering what God has done", and "making His glory known". Thanks to my wonderful husband who picked Jeremiah up Saturday morning and brought him back for feedings, I was able to have baby-free time to focus on the teaching and listening to God.

Over the next few weeks, I want to share what God taught me from each session, and how He is continuing to teach me. This will hopefull encourage you and further ingrain it in my hear.



For now, here are some highlights from the weekend:

-Refreshing individual time listening to God and reflecting on His Word

-Great praise time in English and Spanish

-Great fellowship with other women (it's so nice after living with all boys and tutoring all boys!)

-Fun talking and laughing time with other women

-Relaxing break Saturday afternoon to rest, make jewelry (supplied by the retreat), and talk

-Lots of good Dominican food!

-Not needing to make food

-Not needing to do dishes

-Meeting new people from around the island

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Rolling

Here are some pics of Jeremiah rolling. He's not quite sure what to do with his arms; he just held them in these positions for a while.

He rolled over!

Jeremiah rolled over last night. We put him down on his back, and when we woke up in the middle of the night, he was on his stomach! He still has yet to go from stomach to back. I'm not too surprised, because he spends more time on his back than on his stomach, though we do try to have some "tummy time" each day. I know he's a little "late" to be rolling, but I wasn't too worried; I knew he'd probably figure it out before he was a teenager. ;)

Meet My "Semi-Automatic" Washer

So I'm a little late for Meet-and-Greet-Monday, but I wanted to participate anyway.
This week I want you to meet my washer. It does a lot of work for us; it's running almost daily (diapers three times a week, our laundry once a week, and Jer's laundry as needed). Without it, we would not be able to use cloth diapers (I have no desire to hand wash them). For those wondering what "Semi-Automatic" means, I will satisfy your curiousity. It means that it's somewhere in between a fully automatic and hand washing (isn't that a helpful definisiton?). I'll take you through the steps of our washing process; it's very exciting.
1) Fill washer (using hose).
2) Put in soap and clothes. Turn on to "15 min." Washer will "swish" the clothes around.
3) Turn middle switch to "drain." This will drain the water.
4) Repeat step 1.
5) Turn on to "15" min. Washer will "swish" clothes again, but this time with no soap.
6) Repeat steps 3-5 once more.
7) Now the wash has been washed once and rinsed twice. Put clothes into spinner on the right. Make sure you pack in the clothes (except for diapers- they are too heavy). Close the top (it will not run otherwise).
8) Turn dial on right to 5 min.
9) Spinner will start to spin very quickly. If you hear "thuds" open the top, wait for it to stop and rearrange the clothes so they are evenly distributed.
10) Repeat step 9 until spinner spins without thuds.
11) After 5 minutes, the excess water "magically disappears", and the clothes will be ready to hang.
12) Hang these clothes on the line while repeating step 7-11 until all clothes are spun (1 load of wash usually takes two loads in the spinner).
13) While the last load is spinning, fill the washer for the next time you want to wash your clothes (in case there is no city water).
14) Hang the last of the clothes.
15) Take a deep breath. You're finished- until the clothes are dry and ready to take down, fold, and put away.
Did you make it this far? Or did I lose you back at step number 6? Either way, here are pictures of our wonderful machine...

Our washer and hose

The spinner section

Friday, February 01, 2008

Anniversary Pie

For our anniversary last Tuesday, I prepared Daniel an anniversary lunch (we later went out to dinner too- pics to be posted later). I made curry chicken salad sandwiches, carrot salad (his favorite), and for dessert, I made Papaya Pie (it's even fun to say!). I found the recipe while browsing online; I wanted to make an interesting pie, and since Papaya (called Lechosa here) is so inexpensive here, I thought I'd try it. Here is the recipe as found from Ichef.com:


4 lb Papaya fruit

1 tb Ground cinnamon

1 tb Ground nutmeg

1 tb Ground pumpkin pie spice

1/2 lb Brown sugar

1 c White sugar

3 Eggs, beaten

1 9" Pre-made pie shell -(Graham cracker shell)


Cut fruit meat from skin; cut fruit into chunks. Add sugars, let set 10-15 minutes. Place sugared fruit in a pot large enough to handle, cook over medium heat until fruit is tender and is easily broken into smaller pieces, about 30 minutes. Stir occassionally, to keep papaya from sticking. Add spices about halfway through the cooking process. When papaya is cooked, allow to cool about 15 minutes, add the beaten eggs, and place in the pie shell. Bake at 350 deg F for about 45 minutes.



Of course, I made some changes. My papaya was a little big, about 5lbs, but I used it all anyway. For the nutmeg, I only had whole, so I ground it myself (using the small side of a cheese shredder worked well). I didn't have any pumpkin pie spice, so I just made it myself (cinnamon, ginger, allspice or clove ,and nutmeg). I found the recipe somewhere online. I looked up online how much 1/2 lb of brown suger was, and found many different answers (ranged from 2-3+ cups for 1 lb. I decided to go on the small end and use the 2 cup (though I know it wouldn't be that exactly), and put in half of that (since it called for 1/2 lb). I only have brown (it's not American brown; it's somewhere between American brown and white sugar), so I used it for both (the total sugar was about 2 cups and a little more because I threw some more in later).

I made the crust, but couldn't find any graham crackers at the store, so I used some cookies (somewhere in between a graham cracker and vanilla waffer), as suggeted by Daniel. I made more than one recipe, because one never seems to be enough for a pie.

When the papaya was cooked, I poured it into the pie pan, but it didn't all fit- there was lots leftover! So, I grabbed two of the mini bread pans we bought over Christmas break, laid some of the cookies at the bottom, and poured in the rest of the papaya. I baked them in the oven (I'm not sure what the temp was, our oven doesn't work that way) and pulled them out when the filling had set. The crust was a little over done, but it still tasted fine. We ate the mini bread pan "pies" for lunch and saved the real pie for after dinner.

The most important part- Daniel loved it! He also got a kick out of eating the "leftovers" first.

Here are some pics of our Papaya "Pies." They look funny, but tasted great! (When they were warm they were a little too sweet and needed coffee (I forgot that Papayas here are riper and more sugary), but when we ate them cold from the fridge they were fine).


Our "leftovers"

The pie (with slightly burnt crust...)