Monday, February 28, 2011

Stocking Up on Fresh Veggies!

Our family eats a lot of vegetables.  A lot.  I guess living overseas with an abundance of fresh (and CHEAP) vegetables taught us to love vegetables.  Living in a big city gives us several places that often has vegetables on sale.  For example, normally a pound of broccoli is about $2.50, but for two weeks, it was on sale for $0.67 a pound, so guess what?  I bought lots!  But of course, I can't use all that broccoli before it goes bad.  Luckily, in the small storage room outside of our apartment, we have a small freezer.  So, right now, it is in the beginning stages of stocking up.  It currently contains deer, clearance bread (which Big Lots has great clearance least the one near us does!), and frozen veggies.  Our inside freezer has more bread, more deer, and frozen potatoes.

This post will explain how to take those clearance veggies and freeze so you can have them on hand for later.

First, I want to explain how to freeze your colorful veggies, such as green beans, squash, your colored peppers, broccoli, etc...  You pretty much do the same for them all.

1) Wash and cut them up how you would like to have them later -- chunks, strips, cubes, etc.

Sidenote, make sure you have plenty of ice cold water or lots of ice cubes.  Important for later.

2) Throw them in boiling water and let them boil for about 3 minutes.  You want them partially cooked.  You can use the same boiling water several times before changing it.

3) Place the veggies in the ice cold water for about 3 minutes.  This will stop the cooking. Drain.

4) Put enough in each freezer ziplock bag for one meal and get as much air out as possible.  A vacuum sealer is best, but I don't have of yet, but it may be a good investment. 

Use the veggies the same as any frozen store-bought veggies.  One thing I have learned -- if you want to steam the broccoli in a pot, don't add any water to the bottom.  Just place the veggies in the pot and turn the pot on.  The water from the ice will give it enough water to steam.

Now, the same also goes with potatoes.  One store close by had a 5 lb bag for $0.88, so I nabbed it.  Now, they were the older potatoes I think but that is actually great if you want to freeze them.  I read that the best potatoes to freeze are the ones that have matured for at least 30 you don't want the freshest out there.

When you cut the potatoes, you can skin them or leave the skin on -- it's up to you.  You can also make french fries, potato rounds, cubes, and hashbrowns (which I haven't made yet).  After boiling and icing them, you need to lay them single-layer on a cookie sheet to freeze.  Once frozen, you can place them in individual bags.  Treat them as any frozen potatoes (i.e. frozen french fries) you would buy in the store.  You don't need to vacuum seal potatoes.

Not the best picture, but it shows the different ways to use potatoes.  My husband used the cubes the other day as a side dish and it was delicious!  He tossed them in some Italian salad dressing, cooked them at 400 until they became soft, then broiled them until they looked ready.  Delicious!  And may I say cheap cheap CHEAP! 

Freezing veggies does take time, but if you stock up when those veggies are on sale and freeze them, it can save you lots of money!  This is also great if you have a garden or know someone that will give you lots from their gardens!


Swagbucks! :)

Today is a day you can make a little money by sitting right here at the computer.  No, you're not getting a job, and no, you're not going through weeks of training to earn a few bucks today.  I'm talking about Swagbucks!    (If you watch "The Office", you may be remembering the episode where Michael goes to the Job Fair and is talking about getting some "SWAG!!!", which he says means "stuff we all get".  It's totally unrelated to Swagbucks, but I think about the way he says it a lot, because he says it really funny.)

Anyway, Swagbucks is a website where you can earn tons of free prizes just by searching the web, shopping online, playing games, watching videos, and many more things!  I was a little skeptical about this site at first, but let me assure you, there is nothing weird about it, and I have earned $60 in amazon gift cards through it!  Let me explain a little more...

As I mentioned above, you can earn swagbucks in several different ways.  Let me mention that I'm not a super-swagbucker, only because I try not to spend TOO much time on this site.  So, if you're really dedicated, you can earn bucks pretty quickly.  I always get at least two a day by answering the daily poll and visiting their "Trusted Surveys" link.  You automatically get one point for each of these.  I also search on their site (it's just a search engine like google, only you sometimes are rewarded for doing searches!)  For example, if I searched for "Lava lamp"  (I don't know why that popped into my head), then I might end up getting 10 or even more swagbucks just for searching for that.  It's random, and you aren't always rewarded for searching, but it's fun when you are!  (Note: You can't get rewarded for back-to-back searches.  So once you're rewarded, don't expect to get rewarded again for a while, but you can get rewarded multiple times a day)  They also send out codes, where they'll give you a word or phrase in their blog (or somewhere else on their site) that you can type in on their homepage to get even more bucks!  Keep in mind that one swagbuck does NOT equal a dollar.  I always get a $5 amazon gift card when I'm ready to 'cash in' my bucks, and that costs 450 swagbucks.  Depending on how much you search and how much you time you spend on their site, you can get to that number fairly quickly.

Understand??  Maybe not.  Just trust Jennifer.

Today is a SPECIAL day though, because it is Swagbucks 3rd Birthday, which means that they are giving out  lots of codes today, which means that YOU can earn a lot of swagbucks today!!  :)  Plus, I saw on THIS website ( that when you register TODAY, you automatically get 30 swagbucks, and on top of that, you can enter the code "HipBirthday" when you register to get 50 more swagbucks!  So, do the math.  80 swagbucks just for signing up TODAY.  That is something to celebrate.  :)  So, if you're interested, go HERE to register, and don't forget to enter the code!

I will be honest and tell you that I have another motive for suggesting this site.  If you click on the link I provided, then I am officially 'referring' you, which means that when you search and are rewarded, then I am also rewarded with the same amount of bucks, up to a certain amount.  However, I DO love this site, and think you will too, so just focus on that part.  ;)  Plus, if you sign up, then you can refer your friends and get extra bucks yourself!  :)

So, go check out the site and start earning!!  :)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Memorizing Scripture

I think that two things that most Christians struggle with the most are praying and scripture memorization.  Prayer should be a simple act, and I feel that simplicity is God's plan for prayer, but there are so many books, thoughts, methods on prayer that it becomes confusing on "how to" pray.  Should I "talk" to God as my best friend or should I show reverence to him during my prayer and speak to him as the creator of the universe?  Should I set aside a time everyday to pray or is setting a time putting limits on our prayer life?  Should I pray for everyone on my prayer list everyday (which can be exhausting!) or should I have a revolving prayer list?  Should I pray for specific things or only that "His Will is done"?  See what I mean?  Prayer can be confusing and difficult at times, and I definitely don't have the answers.  It is definitely something I struggle with myself, although I do feel that God honors any true attempt at prayer.  

 Anyways, this blog isn't about prayer but about scripture memorization.  Some Christians have a gift for memorization and absolutely LOVE spending time memorizing scriptures, and how I wish I were that person!  However, I feel that most Christians would be embarrassed if they were honest about how many scriptures they knew by heart, and I would definitely be one of them.  I read this quote recently and thought it was very inspiring: 

“I know of no other single practice in the Christian life more rewarding, practically speaking, than memorizing Scripture. . . . No other single exercise pays greater spiritual dividends! Your prayer life will be strengthened. Your witnessing will be sharper and much more effective. Your attitudes and outlook will begin to change. Your mind will become alert and observant. Your confidence and assurance will be enhanced. Your faith will be solidified” (Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994], p. 61). Chuck Swindoll

So, if all this is true, what is keeping us from memorizing more?  I want my prayer life to be strengthened (maybe memorization will help us in that other struggle -- prayer)!  I want my witnessing to be sharper and more effective!  I want all of that!  So, why do I not focus more on that?!  Because it is is often can be boring...I find "better" things to do...I'm fine without it...  These are all my excuses.  However, growing in my walk with the Father, becoming the person that God wants me to be, God never promised that it would be fun, exciting, easy.  So, I've decided for the New Year that I wanted to focus more on scripture memorization.  A friend of mine put a link on her blog, something that she wanted to do also:

Sidenote: This is a beautiful website.  I often listen to the music during the day while taking care of my son.  Very calming and relaxing.   

I was very intrigued by this challenge.  However, I am one that finds a "great" idea and starts it only to quit it soon after due to boredom, frustrations, or some other reason.  But this one, I want to keep because my life and walk needs it.  I need it.  I need a challenge that will me grow, to help me understand more of who my Father and Savior is.  (By the way, I had to ask my husband if I should put "is" or "are" and he couldn't answer -- he said I may have found the one exception to the rule!). 

I challenge all of you, if you struggle with scripture memorization or just want to memorize more, to find or develop a scripture memorization plan, whether it is the Colossians plan demostrated through the website shown above or another plan of your choosing.  I doubt you will ever regret studying and memorizing God's Word!  



Homemade Tortilla Chips

As many of you know, store tortilla chips can really be expensive!  But what you probably didn't realize that for those that have a little extra time to be in the kitchen, your own tortilla chips are REALLY easy and cheap to make.  While living overseas in Asia, we were not able to find much American convenient foods, chips being one of them.  Well, we did have Lays potato chips, but we weren't all that crazy about the flavors -- shrimp, blueberry, chicken, etc...  But no tortilla chips, and we LOVE fajitas (even if we had to make our own tortillas, because...well, you get the idea).  An American friend of ours taught us how to make tortilla chips out of jiaozi skins, which are the wrappers for steamed dumplings.  They were easy and very good.  So, when we came back to America, we realized that we could probably do the same with corn tortillas.  As many of you know, corn tortillas are CHEAP and this recipe is very easy and healthy.  We never buy tortilla chips anymore.  Why spend the money if we can make our own?!  Here is a cost comparison:

A regular bag of tortilla chips has about 10 servings at 16 chips each equaling 160 chips (this differs a lot, I know) -- $3.00+
Homemade tortilla chips using a normal bag of 24 corn tortillas which makes 192 chips -- $0.77
Homemade tortilla chips using a bag of 72 corn tortillas on special, making 576 chips -- $1.50

So, if you are interested, here's how to make them:

First, get as many corn tortillas you want, and stacking them, cut them in 8 pieces.  My picture below only shows one tortilla.

Next, place them on a baking sheet (no need to spray).  Unstack them, of course!  You can spray them with butter spray or something similar but it's not really necessary.  Now, season with anything you want.  In my example, I did salt, pepper, paprika, and oregano.

Last, place them in an over at 400 degrees.  Let them cook for about 7-10 minutes, but watch them closely -- they will burn quickly!  Here is the end result:

Very crunchy and good, especially with a good hot sauce, cheese dip, or guacamole.

Enjoy!  -- Shawna

Breakfast Pizza :)

Happy Saturday!!!  :)

I mentioned in my introduction that I love looking for the 'best' recipes.  I love searching on because they have ratings and reviews on each recipe, unless it's a new one.  I usually look for the recipes with the highest number of reviews and then check out the ingredients.  If it sounds good, and I have most if not all of the ingredients on hand, I might try it out.  I will warn you though--just because it has high reviews doesn't necessarily mean it's fabulous.  I think personal tastes can vary by region.  I mean, I love watching Rachael Ray's "30 Minute Meals", but I wouldn't make half or more of the things she cooks because a lot of her recipes seem really odd to me.  Of course, up where she lives, it may be really normal!  So, keep that in mind if you search that site.  ;)

In case y'all are trying to think of something super yummy for supper tonight, allow me to suggest a fabulous breakfast pizza!  (I kinda sound like a commercial...)  ;)

I LOVE pizza and I love having breakfast items for supper.  In fact, we eat warm breakfast items for supper more often that we do at breakfast.  I'm not super energetic first thing in the morning.  ;)  Anyway, I've tried a few breakfast casseroles and even a breakfast pizza before, but none of them tasted very good to me.  I think part of the problem was that although I do like eggs, I don't like them to be the main thing I taste in casseroles/breakfast pizzas.  So, once again, I began searching online for a good recipe.  I have no idea how I found this site, but I found some super fab Handheld Breakfast Pies.  You can go check out the recipe at that link.  What I noticed was that there is a small amount of eggs (only 5) in this recipe, so I figured I might like the taste better.  (In the pictures on the recipe link, it looks like there are a lot more eggs, but a lot of that is the cheesy gravy--YUM.)

She mentions in her post that these take a LOT of work.  The first time I tried this recipe I thought, "Well, it's a Saturday, I have my hubby to help me out with our daughter if I need him, so I'll give it a shot!".  I started around 5 and it took me about 3 hours from start to finish.  I mean, seriously.  I was pretty annoyed by the end of all of that and we were both feeling grumpy from hunger.  (I did have to take a little time to feed my daughter while I was making this, so all 3 hours weren't completely devoted to the recipe, but most of it was!)  I started out making the little pies all cute and nice, but then I got tired and started making them in whatever shape was easiest.  I didn't care if they were pretty--I just wanted to eat!  ;)  Anyway, we FINALLY finished (my husband ended up helping me roll out the crust) and they. were. AWESOME.  I mean, SO SO good!  Plus, there were plenty to last us a couple of more days, so that was nice too!  My husband ended up suggesting that I make one piece just as a little pizza to see how that tasted, and that tasted even better!  So, I decided that the next time I made this, I would just make it into a pizza and be done with it.  Sure enough, it was MUCH easier for me to do it that way, and it was delicious!  So, gather your ingredients and get cookin'!

A couple of notes:  You may be an old pro at making crust like this, but I had a VERY hard time with it the first time.  I put the stick butter in the mix cut up while it was still cold/hard, which made it SUPER hard to mix together.  Not fun.  The second time I let the butter get very soft before cutting it in, and that made it much easier.  It still took some work to get the crust smooth, and maybe there is a trick to that, but I don't know it.  So, if you have tips, feel free to share.  ;)  Also, when I made the pizza, only half the dough was needed, so I ended up freezing the other half so I don't have to do that part next time (yay!).  I do think it would have been better to cook the crust a few minutes before placing the toppings on it.  Our crust was still a little soft after I cooked it.  I still thought it tasted really good though.  In fact, I MIGHT like it better softer, but whatever floats your boat.  :)

Enjoy y'alls weekend!!  :)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Meeting Jennifer :)

Me and my best friend, who happens to be the love of my life :)
Howdy!  :)  My name is Jennifer, and I'm the wife to a wonderful man, the mother to a sweet baby girl, and a child of God.  I absolutely LOVE blogs and like Shawna, I fool myself into thinking that I'm friends with complete strangers when I read their blogs often!  So, if you're that kind of person too, don't be ashamed.. you're welcome here!  :)  I have a private blog where I write about things only for my family and friends, but I decided I wanted to have a separate blog for crafts, thrifty ideas, recipes, and my love for the Lord.  Since Shawna and I are both stay-at-home moms, I thought it would be fun to get together (although we don't live anywhere near each other!) :( and write this blog!

I really love crafty and creative things.  However, I do NOT like paying a lot to do crafty things.  I will tell you right now that I'm not a craft queen.  I'm not that girl that finds old pieces of furniture and then fixes them up into something beautiful and creative.  I'm more of a small project crafter.  I also love cooking and baking, and am always looking for the 'best' recipes.  I've been trying to figure out how to be better at spending less money on groceries while also finding ways to get the things I need to go a long way!  It's a process to learn, but God is showing me small things that make a big difference, and I'll keep working at it.  Most importantly, I AM a child of God and am striving to be more like Him.  Not an easy task, let me tell ya, and it's a never-ending task.  I look forward to sharing with you the ways that God works in my life with the hope that you will desire to know Him as well.  :)

Shawna and I both desire to have the 'simple life'.  We're both country girls at heart and grew up together in the country.  I adore "Little House on the Prairie", and so many times I find myself thinking that I was born about a hundred years later than I should have been, which of course isn't true, because God's timing is perfect.  I just love how simple their lives were back then.  Now, I know this is just a TV show, but we know that life WAS simpler then.  They didn't have the distractions of TV, computers, phones, or any of that.  The women stayed home and took care of their children while the men went to work, whether it was out in the fields or into town, wherever.  They didn't have the luxury of popping a frozen pizza in the oven after a long day or relaxing on the couch and watching TV at night.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE electricity and frozen pizza, but I'm just saying that even though they didn't have these extra things that make our lives easier, I think they were probably more content than we tend to be these days.  I think the majority of people probably enjoyed their families more and went to church more.  I think they probably focused on what was most important in life rather than getting caught up in all the things that don't really matter.  These days we always have something to do, or somewhere to be, and our lives get busier and filled with things that aren't truly important.  I realize I'm a bit of a hypocrite, because I believe everything I just said, but I still love watching TV, playing on the computer (duh), and things like that.  However, I feel that my most important job is to raise my children to know the Lord, and show them as much love as I can.  I know that I'll mess up... a lot, but that's where grace comes in.  I know the Lord will help me if I depend on Him.  My husband and I moved out the country almost a year ago and bought some land with hopes of teaching our child(ren) what really matters.  There's a small school nearby where we plan to send them when they're old enough, and we're in the process of building a little farm.  We hope that we can teach them responsibility through activities on the farm, as well as having fun with family and hopefully not being too obsessed with the computer or TV.  I realize this is something I will have to work on myself if I want to set a good example for them!  There is so much bad stuff on the internet and TV that it scares me to think of them spending too much time doing either activity.  I realize I can't protect them from everything, but I'm sure going to do what I can!  They'll come across evil in this world, as we all do, but we want to teach them to trust in the Lord to bring them through the difficult times.

Whew--that was a lot longer than I meant for it to be, but I hope that you have a better idea of who I am, and what is important to me.  Hope y'all enjoy the blog and God Bless!  :)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Meeting Shawna

My name is Shawna, and to be honest, I'm not the best blogger.  I think of ideas and have this grand plan to start blogging, but I never seem to follow through...other than the monthly updates of my one year old little man.  I love checking out other blogs from people that are much more organized, creative, well-written, exciting than myself, and there are some that I keep up with so well that I feel that I know the person, like I could call them up and just chat...then I realize that they have no idea that I even exist.  I doubt there are any people like that on my personal blogsite.  Not creative enough to catch the attention of random people, for what random people would like to know what my x-month old child is learning or eating or saying or doing? 

Anyways, one of my dearest friends emailed me the other day asking if I would like to join her in starting a blog about being crafty, thrifty, and loving God.  The funny thing is, she has known me her whole life and she doesn't realize that I am NOT crafty.  I so wish I was.  I've started learning how to crochet, so maybe that is a little crafty. I have a lot to learn in this area.  Thrifty is something I AM.  Maybe a little too thrifty.  Maybe embarrassingly thrifty.  I would rather put that extra $20 in savings then go on a date.  Luckily, I'm married to a more realistic (also thrifty) husband that likes to have a little fun and talks some sense into me at times.  I'm also a newly stay-at-home mom.  Not completely by choice, but due to my husband's job training and having to pick up and move for a "short" time, we felt it was the best decision for me to stay home.  So, me staying home and living off of one income means that my thrifty side of me is super-charged.  Maybe I can be of use in this aspect of the blog.  And loving God.  Oh, how I want to grow in this area.  Some days are really easy to love and trust my Heavenly Father, and other days I struggle with questioning if He really knows what He is doing.  My husband and I were foreign missionaries for a time but had to return to the states due to illness, and since then, I've been growing in my relationship with Him, learning how to trust Him when my own plans on serving Him fell through.  It definitely hasn't been a continuous mountaintop the past several months -- there have been lots of valleys as well.  But your faith and trust in Him can't be challenged and grow while on the mountaintop.  So, part of this blog I guess will be some of my journey in my growing in faith and learning how to trust Him more and more. 

I'm excited about being part of this blog and hope that those keeping up with it will have some fun with us!