Monday, April 20, 2009

Internet Withdrawal & Other Changes

We moved in to our temporary residence last week. We are still trying to track down all of our mail and getting other details of relocation straightened out, but in general, things are going well. Today (our first day of training) was a very long and overwhelming day, but that was to be expected. We are both excited about all of this, but we are going to be consumed for awhile in our new job - trying to learn and take in as much as we can. We know that this is going to be a difficult challenge, but we are trusting that God has us where he wants us and that we will eventually see a harvest...There are big changes and lots of little changes...One of the "little" things is that we do not have internet access in our apartment. We may have internet access at home in a few days but until then we are still only able to access internet at the local library. We are so accustomed to sitting down at the computer several times a day to check email and search, so it is like we are in withdrawal right now without it. It also makes it very difficult to post anything especially pictures on the blog because it is a public use computer. So, that is what is going on here. I'm ready to go home and try to relax because tomorrow we are up to start shadowing at 6 am (and there is less than 10 minutes left on our account)...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Meal Planner Monday: Breakfast & Brunch - Overnight Whole-Wheat Pancakes

I recently found this recipe on the internet (here). I wanted to try them out because I thought it would be a great way to save a little time in the morning when we make a hot breakfast during the school week. Well, it did save the prep time, but I definitely need to find a more efficient way of cooking them - maybe we will shop around for a large griddle. Anyway, they turned out pretty yummy and very healthy because I also made a "Triple Berry Sauce" for them (which I totally just put together the recipe myself), which was delicious. Even Mike liked it! (Does that sound like the old Life cereal commercials...He likes it..Mikey likes it?) I think they would be perfect with a dallop of homemade, old-fashioned, real whipped cream on top (we just used Cool Whip)!
Overnight Pancakes
1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup whole wheat flour (or you could substitute with all all-purpose flour)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
2 cups buttermilk (I cheated by adding 1 Tbsp white vinegar per 1 cup milk)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in water; let stand for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Then beat in eggs, buttermilk, yeast mixture and oil. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
To make pancakes, pour batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto a greased hot griddle; turn when bubbles form on top of pancakes. Cook until second side is golden brown. Makes about 20 pancakes - probably 6-8 servings.
Triple Berry Sauce
*No Added Sugar, Fat-free, All Natural and loaded with anti-oxidants!
Puree together about 6 oz each of frozen or fresh blueberries, blackberries and strawberries until you have a thick sauce. (I think Aldi has a bag of frozen mixed berries with a similar combination (blackberries, blueberries, raspberries) - at least they used to.) You could add sugar if you prefer, but I think it is pretty good without any sugar. I did add a little bit of orange juice, but I don't think it changed the taste at all. Heat sauce on stovetop or microwave. Serve as topping to pancakes, waffles, ice cream, angel food cake, etc. Makes about 4-6 servings.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Frugal Friday: Saving on Greeting Cards

Do you think that greeting cards are over-priced? At $3-$5 each, that can really add up quickly! I started making my own greeting cards a few years ago at a fraction of the price. Mike would argue that I have not saved any money because of the all of the money that I have spent on the supplies that fill several large boxes in our spare bedroom, but I would argue that most of those supplies could be resold if I wanted to (especially the Stampin Up stamps which I would probably be able to sell on ebay for the same amount or more than what I paid for them). The internet and computer are great resources when you are making your own cards. I often go to to get ideas for my cards by looking at other people's card designs. I also just do a google search on the internet when I need some help with sentiments or poems. Mike has made cards for me, too, even though he is certainly not into crafts (He quotes Proverbs 12:2 to be funny when I want to shop at JoAnns or Pat Catans and try to get him to come in with me.) He has printed off cards for me that were made with just clipart on the computer and they are just as meaningful.
I enjoy making my cards, but it can take a good amount of time and right now that is not practical in the middle of our move. I confess that it is becoming a trend - I have been very bad about getting cards mailed out over the last several months. So, if you are not crafty or just don't have the time to put into homemade greeting cards, there are still a few alternatives to spending $3-$5 on a single card.
1) Right now, Hallmark is offering a free personallized greeting card and they will even mail it for you. (Go here for more details.)
2) There are occasionally other promotions where you can get cards very inexpensively or even free at stores like CVS. Watch for promotions on photo cards at these stores too.
3) Use your judgement on this one, but the receiver may appreciate a phone call for the special occasion just as well as a card.
4) Electronic e-mail cards are free and can be just as touching and personal (again, that wouldn't work for everyone).
5) Multi-packs of blank note cards (or all occasion cards) are an option for a lot less than what you would pay for single cards. Just be careful about the "All Occasion" boxes - you may end up with some useless cards that don't really fit what you are looking for and end up sitting around in the box therefore not really saving you any money.
6) Buy seasonal cards (Christmas, Easter, Valentine's Day, etc) after the holiday when they are discounted and save them for the following year.
7) There may be other ways to use your creativity and show thoughtfulness in place of a traditional greeting card - for example, a hand-written note or poem.
8) If you really want to spend the money on single cards at the Hallmark store, at least get a Hallmark Gold Crown card. (Hallmark stores are becoming an endangered species, though - maybe because people don't like paying the prices or prefer "one stop shopping".)
9) You may be able to find some at yard sales (ebay doesn't really work very well for this type of thing).
10) If you do have some time and enjoy crafts, another thing to try is to make some homemade stationary paper from paper scraps that you have around the house (directions here and here) and add your own sentiment (This is a great way to recycle paper and a good craft for kids to get involved with!). There may be some up-front cost involved in getting started with the paper-making kit, but after that, it could be essentially free, depending on how fancy you want to get with your paper. You would be surprised at how much scrap paper you can accumulate for this project from colored envelopes from the cards that you receive, and other things, even junk mail.
Finally, keep in mind, it's the thought that counts and it's more likely that the person recieving the card will appreciate whatever is written in your handwriting as much or more than what is pre-printed on the card itself!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Preparing to Move

We are back from our fantastic 2-week vacation to Florida (Amelia Island/Disney World). We are now full force into packing. Our move date is April 13th, which is less than 2 weeks away! So...I may or may not have very many posts until we get settled in after the move. I'll be taking a break from the "Eating Healthy" series at least until I am confident that we are all ready for our move. Mike is continuing to blog (link at bottom of the page) and has been able to work on posting videos of our vacation, so I'll let him take over on keeping everyone updated for a little while. I'll probably have a little time to squeeze in a few short posts over the next couple weeks though, so keep checking back...