Wednesday, March 30, 2011

For Supper - 3/30/11 - Pepper Steak, Brown Rice, and French Bread

Quick and Easy Pepper Steak
Brown Rice

Fresh-baked French Bread

Remember that left over London broil that I froze night before last? I was in need of something quick and easy for supper tonight, so I pulled it out and turned it into a quick and easy pepper steak.

Here's what I did...


1 pound leftover steak, sliced thin
2 tablespoons olive oil 
1 1/2 large, fresh green peppers, cut into thin slices
1 medium onion, cut into thin wedges
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups water
2 beef bullion cubes
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

2 cups hot cooked brown rice, cooked without salt

Over medium heat, heat beef (or, if you don't have any leftovers, you could cook 1 pound fresh beef, sliced thin) in olive oil. Add peppers and onion and cook until tender crisp. Mix cornstarch in water and pour over all. Add bullion cubes, soy sauce, and garlic powder. Heat until bullion cubes are dissolved and sauce is bubbling hot. Serve over hot rice.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Hearth and Home Notes - 3/29/11

Yesterday was heavenly! I was home all day doing what I love, schooling, taking care of my family...putting in a 'normal' day. Today everything flipped around and now this week is turning into a repeat of last week.
My dad had to be back to the doctor this morning. As far as the breathing goes, he is doing much better than he was last week, but the radiologist's report came back and they discovered what they think is a small mass in his right lung...something that was not in his last CT scan three years ago. He is scheduled for a new CT scan tomorrow morning. We continue to trust the Lord as we move forward in this process and continued prayers on my dad's behalf would be most appreciated.

On a good note...the oxygen company delivered Dad's small portable oxygen tanks this afternoon and he was feeling well enough this evening to go play music with his band. THAT is a huge blessing!

Thursday morning I have to have Pat back in Springfield. She has done really well following surgery and we expect to get a good report from her surgeon!

Today while I was gone John got the flooring in front of the kitchen sink grouted and it looks so nice. All we have left to do now is get the trim for it.

Well, I had a few other things to share, but I am out of time. I will try to share more later. Until then, I leave you with this verse of that I am trying to hang on to in the midst of uncertainty...

"Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof" (Matthew 6:34).

Until Next Time,

Monday, March 28, 2011

For Supper - 3/28/11 - London Broil, Caesar Salad, French Bread, Plum Custard Kuchen

Here's what's on the menu for supper tonight at the Knox's -

London Broil
Caesar Salad
Homemade French Bread
Plum Custard Kuchen

As a general rule we don't eat beef anymore, but every once in a while I'll find a nice piece of black angus beef on mark-down at Summer Fresh and, when I do, I'll buy it and do something special with it, or stretch it out for as many meals as possible. Recently, I found a nice 2-lb piece of London Broil for only $5.19, so I am doubling the recipe below. We are eating part of it for supper tonight and I will freeze the rest for later. We will get between 3 and 4 meals out of this one piece of beef.



1 pound high-quality beef flank or London Broil cut

2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Cut both sides of beef steak into diamond pattern 1/8 inch deep. Cook and stir onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt in butter until onions are tender; keep warm. Mix remaining ingredients; brush half of the mixture on beef.

Set oven control to broil and/or 550 degrees. Broil beef with top 2 to 3 inches from heat until brown, about 5 minutes. Turn beef; brush with remaining oil mixture and broil 5 minutes longer. (I broiled it longer because I wanted it well done.)

Cut beef across grain at slanted angle into thin slices; serve with onions.

Serves 4.


1 cup flour
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 c. butter
2 tablespoons heavy cream (I used skim milk)
1 egg

2 1/2 cups pitted and sliced plums

1/2 cup heavy cream (I used skim milk)
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a large bowl mix flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, and baking powder. Cut in  butter until mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Stir in 2 tablespoons cream (or milk) and 1 egg. Press in bottom of ungreased 9-inch square pan and arrange plums over the top. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes.

While cake is baking, in a bowl combine 1/2 cup cream (or milk), 1/2 cup sugar, egg and vanilla. Beat well and pour mixture over plums and bake an additional 20 to 30 minutes or until custard is set. Serve warm or cool. Store in refrigerator.

(Note: I only use light salt, light butter, and extra-virgin olive oil in all recipes.)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hearth and Home Notes - 3/27/11

The past week has been a blur of minor emergencies, medical appointments, and unavoidable stress. Mentally, emotionally, and physically I am exhausted; spiritually I continue to cling to Jesus. He is my Rock, my fortress, my shield and buckler...a very present help in times of trouble. Praise the wonderful name of Jesus!

Last Tuesday I took Pat (a long-time friend that has been in my life since I was 10) to the hospital in Springfield where she had surgery on her leg. Since my last experience of going with someone and sitting through surgery by myself didn't go so well (it was my husband and he almost died) I was a little apprehensive about going and sitting through Pat's surgery by myself, but the Lord was with us and all went well. Pat is well on her way to health and healing and will be good as new in no time. We go back to the doctor in Springfield on Thursday.

Wednesday I was with family for a medical appointment in Joplin, and, on Thursday, yet another appointment with other family members...including my dad. He had been having breathing problems for over a week and it was getting worse and worse. A week ago the doctor had ordered up an overnight blood oxygen test and by Thursday the results were in and they were not good. The doctor said that my dad was a record patient for her...the patient with the lowest oxygen level readings ever to live and tell about it! (Arggh!)

After an examination and a chest x-ray my dad was given a steroid shot and loaded up with prescriptions for a whole host of medications to combat every possible lung-affecting illness known to man. The doctor called it "aggressive" treatment. She also ordered immediate in-home oxygen and we are awaiting further word on the x-rays. By Thursday night, the prescriptions were filled and oxygen was delivered to my dad's home. He goes back to the doctor on Tuesday and prayers on his behalf would be greatly appreciated!

Friday was spent grocery shopping and trying to regain some lost ground in the area of housekeeping and laundry. School was a total loss this past week.

Saturday was spent with family. Our son, Buddy, and his family came up for the day. Buddy went over and visited with Grandpa, and our daughter-in-law, Christy, and grandlittles, Lizzy, T.J. and Sarah, spent the day here with John and Tony and I. We had a nice visit, tea, and fellowship. Buddy and Christy and the children ended up having supper with us and that was nice in itself as it doesn't happen nearly as often as we would like.

Granddaughters Sarah and Lizzy

Today was quiet. After church we went out together as a family, had lunch, and picked up a couple of things at the store for my dad. After we got home we watched a movie and just spent the afternoon and evening relaxing.

I can't help but wonder what the week ahead holds, but, as I think of that, I am reminded of an old song that our oldest son and daughter used to sing at church together when they were children...and I am comforted. The name of the song is I KNOW WHO HOLDS TOMORROW and the first verse goes like this...

I don't know about tomorrow,
I just live from day to day.
I don't borrow from it's sunshine,
For it's skies may turn to gray.
I don't worry o'er the future,
For I know what Jesus said,
And today I'll walk beside Him,
For He knows what is ahead.

Many things about tomorrow,
I don't seem to understand;
But I know Who holds tomorrow,
And I know Who holds my hand.

With that, I know that whatever lies's okay...because Jesus is there and He is beside me. I pray that all is well with you and yours and that all your tomorrows will be filled with God's greatest blessings.

Still Clinging To Him,

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Muffin Basics - Guest Post

Muffin Basics
by Jill Cooper

Muffins are very easy to make. Mix the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and hand stir lightly. Usually, you only need to stir them about 12-15 times. The batter will be very lumpy but that is the way it should be. Muffins are one thing you don't want to over-mix. Pour them into greased muffin cups about 2/3 full. If you don't have enough batter to fill all of the cups in the pan, you can fill the empty ones with water if you like. I do this sometimes but not always.
  • If you are adding nuts or fruit, mix them in with the dry ingredients before you add the liquids. This prevents them from all falling to the bottom of the muffin.
  • Your muffins should come out with rounded tops and a light fluffy texture. If they don't, there could be a couple of things you are doing wrong:
    • Flat heavy muffins with tunnels may mean your oven temperature is too low.
    • If the muffin has a lopsided or misshapen peak, the oven temperature could be too high.
    • Knobs and peaks on top and long tunnels can also be caused by over-mixing.

Here is a basic muffin mix recipe from Dining on A Dime:
Basic Muffins
2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
Mix ingredients together. Spoon into greased muffin cups, 2/3 full. Bake at 400° for 20-25 minutes. Makes about 12-15 muffins.

Add these ingredients to a basic muffin mix to liven up your muffins:
  • Bacon or Ham - Reduce sugar to 2 Tbsp. and add 1/2 cup chopped bacon or ham
  • Blueberries - 1 cup
  • Cherries or cranberries - 2/3 cup of cherries or cranberries, mixed with 2 Tbsp. of sugar first
  • Dried fruit - 1/2 cup apricots, currants, peaches, figs, prunes, raisins or dates
  • Nuts - 1/3 cup chopped
  • Cheese - 1/2 cup grated cheese and 1/8 tsp. paprika
  • Cornmeal - 1 cup cornmeal and 1 cup flour
  • Whole wheat - 1 cup whole wheat flour and 1 cup flour. This is especially good with crumbled bacon.
    The sky is the limit with what you can add to a muffin if you only have a hand full of many different things. For example a little leftover corn would be good in a cornmeal muffin, a few chocolate chips would spruce up lots of different muffins, etc.

Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam are frugal living experts and the authors of the Dining On A Dime Cookbook. Dining On A Dime will help you save money on groceries and get out of debt, by cooking quick and simple homemade meals. For free tips & recipes visit

Monday, March 21, 2011

Recipe - Homemade Air Freshener

Homemade Air Freshener

15 to 20 drops of pure essential oil (I used lavender)
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 1/2 cups water

Mix and store in a spray bottle.

Recipe - Homemade Furniture Polish

Homemade Furniture Polish

1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice

Mix and store in a spray or squeeze bottle.

Recipe - Homemade Soft Scrub

Homemade Soft Scrub

Use to clean porcelain sinks and tubs and stainless steel sinks. This stuff works great!

2/3 cup water
1/4 cup Castille soap
1 3/4 cup baking soda
2 tablespoons white vinegar

Mix together and store in a clean squeeze bottle.

(Note: I just used a hand-held grater to fine grate the Castille soap.)

Monday's Musings - 3/21/11

What a beautiful day it is here in southwest Missouri! The birds are singing, the spring flowers are blooming (daffodils, forsythia, and quince), the sun is shining, and it's supposed to get up to around 80 degrees this afternoon. The weather is absolutely PERFECT! I wish it would stay this way year 'round! (smile)

Today has been a crazy day. I'm trying to get as much done as I can today due to the fact that I'm going to be gone much of this week, but things aren't going as smoothly as I had hoped that they would...but do they ever? (smile) I have accomplished a few things, however, one of which is putting together some new homemade cleansers and I'm anxious to share them with you. If all goes well, I will be sharing them with you in just a few minutes while I take an afternoon hot tea break.

I wasn't feeling at all well yesterday morning, but by yesterday afternoon I was feeling somewhat better. I was experiencing dizziness and a lot of pain across in my neck and back. By this morning I was feeling quite a bit better, but was still experiencing some dizziness if I moved too quickly or bent over. Hubby was rubbing my back while ago and there was a loud pop. I think he got whatever was out in and praise the Lord! The dizziness is gone!

A couple of things that we've been working on here...

1) Our kitchen floor was about to fall in in front of the sink. Last weekend John and I (with a little wisdom and input from a couple of people that are a whole lot smarter with these things than we are), cut a hole in the kitchen floor, built it back up, and laid a 1 1/2 x 4 foot section of flooring which we tiled. We've still got to grout, trim, and seal, but it's so much nicer! And so sturdy! It's probably the sturdiest section of flooring in this entire house! Here is a picture of the 6" tiles that we used...

2) Ear candling - Have you ever done it? We had our ears candled for the first time last week and what an interesting (and relaxing!) experience. If you've never tried it, it's a real treat. I even noticed an immediate improvement in hearing in the ear that I had previously been having a problem with.

Well, I had better go for now. If I don't I'm not going to have time to post those recipes for the cleaning supplies that I made today before the tea is gone, and I want to do that. You all have a beautiful day and God's blessings upon all!

All My Love,


DOORPOSTS is celebrating sending of their revised and expanded 3rd edition of INSTRUCTION IN RIGHTEOUSNESS off to the printers today! For a chance to win a copy of INSTRUCTION IN RIGHTEOUSNESS of your very own (hot off the press) head on over to DOORPOSTS now and check it out! CLICK HERE!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Coupon Savings - 3/20/11

I wasn't feeling too well this morning, but after church and as the day progress I started feeling better. Since I've got multiple trips to Springfield, Joplin, and Pittsburg this week, I decided to go ahead and do my coupon shopping in Lamar this evening. I got all the items featured above for only $31.47. My total savings in coupons was $41.80. That's well over 50%! I'm happy!

Coupon savings included the following:

- 2 Air Wick Fresh Matic Automatic Spray starter kits @ 90 cents each (they were normally $7.00, but Wal-mart had them on clearance for $4.90; I had two $4.00 off coupons)
- 6 Scotch Brite basic sponges @ 34 cents each (had three $1.00 off two sponges)
- 1 White Cloud 6-pack toilet tissue @$1.00 (had a $2.00 off coupon)
- 1 McCormick Black Pepper @ 19 cents
- 1 Starkist Tuna Pouch FREE (I actually made money on this product)
- 1 McCormick Garlic and Herb Seasoning @ 99 cents
- 1 Reames Yolk-Free Noodles @ 50 cents
- 4 bags of Kraft cheese @ $1.49 each
- 1 Arm & Hammer toothpaste @ 49 cents
- 3 pack of Zest bar soap @ 69 cents
- 2 Suave deoderants @ 39 cents each
- 1 Bayer Aspirin @ 99 cents

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Goody Spin Pins

My youngest daughter introduced me to the niftiest little hair pins when she was down over St. Patrick's Day. They're called "spin pins" and they're made by Goody. I picked up a set of my own today and I am amazed! I found this neat little review and tutorial on YouTube and thought I'd share...

Homemade Yogurt

I just got done making my first batch of homemade yogurt and it turned out awesomely good! Thanks to my friend, Carla, who shared the recipe, I no longer have to buy yogurt or sour cream! Here's what I did...

The recipe called for whole milk, but I used a 1/2 gallon of 2% milk. I turned the crockpot on low and poured in the half gallon of milk and let it heat on low for 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Then I turned the crockpot off, unplugged it, and let it cool with the lid on for 3 hours.

After three hours, I took out 2 cups of the warm milk and put it in a bowl. To that I added 1 cup of Stonyfield's Oikos Plain Organic Greek Yogurt (the yogurt needs to be plain and have live active cultures) and whisked it all together.

Next, I poured the yogurt-milk mixture back into the crockpot of warm milk and whisked it all together. After that I wrapped the whole crockpot in a triple-layer of large bath towels and went to bed. According to the original instructions the yogurt has to culture overnight (8 to 12 hours).

This morning...I had yogurt! Two beautiful quarts of homemade yogurt, plus enough starter (1 cup) to make my next batch! I just got done jarring it up into glass jars and putting it in the fridge where it needs to set for another 8 hours before eating (I did taste it though and it tastes delicious...just like the store-bought stuff)!

Now all I have to do is pick up another 1/2 gallon of milk and I'm on my way to making my next batch! I'm going to try using skim milk next to see if I can't come up with a 'fat-free' yogurt. 

The total work time involved in this process was between 5 and 10 minutes and the savings is substantial. On a regular basis we go through 3 to 4 containers of yogurt a week at around $3.00 a container, plus sour cream...another $2.50 to $3.00 (I discovered last night that the Oikos Plain Greek Yogurt truly does taste just like sour cream. I had heard that before, but had never tried it, and it's so much better for you...YUM!).

Anyway, based on what I just did, it should save us well over half of what we normally spend for these products, and the yogurt can be flavored up anyway you want it...vanilla, fresh fruit, whatever.

If anyone else out there tries it, please, write to me and share your experience with it!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Stop Eating Your Way Into Debt by Jill Cooper

Stop Eating Your Way Into Debt!
by Jill Cooper

At this time of year, there are usually three things people are panicking about: how to lose weight, how to save money, and how to get organized. We have already touched on losing weight so this week I would like to touch on saving money.
Hopefully most of you realize that you can get into deep debt if you buy a house or a car you can't afford. That seems to be pretty obvious, although a lot of people do it anyway. But that is not what I want to deal with today. The Bible talks about the little foxes that spoil the vine. What that is talking about is the little things that sneak into our lives without us realizing it. They start picking away at the vines in our lives until it destroys us. One of those "little foxes" is eating out.
Eating out is among the of the top causes of personal debt. Most of us hunt for the best interest rates on our mortgages and we complain about the terrible price of gas the whole time we are pumping it.
Interestingly enough though, I have yet to hear one person groan about the awful prices they had to pay for lunch today or tell how they were "duped" into having to pay such high prices at their favorite restaurant. I mean really, the government should step in and make all restaurants take steak off of their menus so I won't be tempted to order it. Then there are those fast food places. They shouldn't be allowed to build so close to the road and make it so convenient for me to drive in there each day. They have a lot of nerve expecting me to be a responsible adult who knows what I can or can't afford and should or shouldn't do.
Tut, tut. I had better behave or I will have to fire myself. HA! HA! But I do feel so much better for getting that off of my chest.
Anyway where was I? Oh, yes -- saving money and eating out. I know most of the excuses we use to justify eating out when it doesn't really fit in the budget: "I don't have time", "I'm too busy", "I don't know how to cook", and last but not least, "it's so much easier to eat out".
I totally understand. I too don't have time to do things. I don't have time to take care of my yard, so I will hire a crew of gardeners to do it. I too don't have time to clean my house so I will have a housekeeper come in every day and do it for me. I don't know how to cook so I need a chef (the best French one, of course) and it is so much easier to hit my garage sales if I am chauffeur driven.
Obviously my examples are tongue in cheek but, as ridiculous as that all sounds, that really is what a lot of us are doing. In the same way that I can't afford a gardener, housekeeper or chauffeur and I would be pretty foolish to go hire them, many of us can't afford to go out to eat but do it anyway. I don't think most people really realize how much they spend eating out each month and would be shocked to find that they could probably hire a housekeeper or a gardener for that same amount.
Take one week and write down how much you spend eating out. That includes all those coffees, soft drinks, things from the vending machines and snacks you buy throughout the day. Be sure to write down the amount of anything that goes into you and your family's mouths for an average week. I'm afraid you may be unpleasantly surprised. Multiply it by 4 to get a monthly estimate and I think you would be just plain shocked.
I'm beginning to wonder if another reason we eat out so much is that it has just become a habit. Like many bad habits, we get so comfortable with them that we don't want to change them. Even when we know that a habit is destructive to us (physically, financially and even emotionally), we still do it.
Some of us look down our noses at other people with "bad habits" like drug addicts and alcoholics and can't understand why they don't just kick their habits. "Don't they see what they are doing to their families????"
What is the difference between other people's destructive habits and our repeatedly going out to eat and charging it? We know the food isn't as good for our families, we know we don't have the money to pay for it, and we know on bill paying day we will be so stressed that we will take it out on everyone around us. We so proudly display our bumper stickers that say "Say no to drugs." but how many of us could proudly display a bumper sticker that says "Say no to debt, I'm debt free".
(Please do not e-mail me about drug addicts and alcoholics. If you do, you are missing the point of the article and are only making it more clear to me that you are not willing to own up to or face the real issue --your debt.)
I know those words may sound harsh to some, but if you have seen and dealt with as many families as I have, whose homes have been or are being destroyed because of financial irresponsibility, you would understand why I can't always sugar coat things. We sink into a fog of apathy, hopelessness and discouragement and just give up trying. I really want you to understand you can fix your finances, but it will take a little bit of work and effort on your part. Don't just throw up your hands and give up.
There is a story in the Bible (John 5) that tells about a man who couldn't walk. He had laid by a healing pool for 38 years. If he could dip in the pool when the water stirred, he would be healed. Jesus asks him what he is doing there and he says "Well, I just don't have anyone who will carry me and put me in the pool" (Poor little old me.) Jesus then asks him, "Do you really want to get healed?" This might seem to us a strange question but, as I once heard a woman speaker point out, if he really wanted to get healed wouldn't he have tried some way to inch his way over to that pool even if he could only make it a half an inch a day no matter how hard it was?
Maybe Jesus asked this question because He too thought here is a man, like so many do these days, making excuses, being a victim and waiting for someone else to fix his problem for him. What did Jesus tell him to do? GET UP! (stand on your own two feet), TAKE UP YOUR BED (start being responsible for your own things), and WALK (become active in solving your own problems which may mean physical labor, or doing without some things).
You need to be like the lame man and GET UP, TAKE UP YOUR BED and WALK. If you know you are going out to eat too much then stop saying you're a victim of "these hard economic times". Be responsible for the "bed" (or the debts that you have now) and actively start doing something about it today. It isn't as hard as you think. I can take every excuse for eating out that I mentioned above and prove that they're not really valid.
"I don't have time." For the amount of time it takes you to drive to some place, wait for them to take your order and then wait for them to prepare your order, I can give you 10 menus or more that would take less time for you to prepare at home.
"I'm too busy." If you are too busy to take time to feed your family, something that is a necessity of life, then you are too busy. I have very rarely heard anyone say that they are too busy to get their hair done, go shopping, go to sports activities, talk on the phone or spend time on the computer. You really can find the time.
If I sound like I don't have patience with that excuse, it's because I don't. I was a single mom with 2 teens, working 60 -70 hours a week, doing all my own yard work, home repairs, and on and on and guess what? Except when I was ill, I always found time to make breakfast and dinner.
"I don't know how to cook." So learn. Start simple. Even my 9 year old grandson can boil himself a hot dog. You don't have to produce a gourmet meal to make your family happy and in most cases they would prefer you didn't. There are simple enough instructions on the back of a package of spaghetti noodles that, once again, even a child can read and follow. Warm up a jar of sauce and dinner is served. You now have two main dishes that take less than 10 minutes to prepare.
I understand that man can't live on hot dogs alone (although I think kids can), but don't worry -- after a week or two of simple dishes, you can move on to more complicated things like frozen French fries and frying hamburgers ;-) Plus if you really get stuck, I just happen to know of this really good cookbook called Dining on A Dime that can help you. ;-)
"It's so much easier." I guess that depends on your definition of easy. To me, going to a restaurant, sitting and listening to loud music for 30 minutes with fussy, hungry, complaining kids is not my idea of fun. Going to a drive-thru is, at times, not much better. Lately it seems as if the line of cars wraps around the whole building at every fast food joint that I drive by. I was amazed to see every restaurant's parking lot jam packed two days after Christmas. (Must be that all those people who couldn't afford Christmas had gotten a windfall.) Sorry, once again I digress.
You may say "The restaurant where I go isn't that bad." but my point is that everything has it's drawbacks, whether you stay at home to eat or go out to eat. It's just a matter of what you make up your mind to put up with. Do you want the pain of cooking or the pain of not knowing how to pay your bills.
If you are in debt, it would be wise to start putting up with a few of the drawbacks that come with eating at home. Besides, if you are really serious about saving money, there are ways to make cooking at home much easier.
  1. You can use convenience foods. There is nothing wrong with buying things like French bread, canned biscuits or bagged salad. Line the pans you use with foil, or use disposable pans. It's cheaper in the long run to use these than going out to eat.
  2. Clean up as you cook. This is very important because I notice a lot of people make a bigger mess than necessary when they cook.
    • Instead of messing up the whole stove by repeatedly laying a sticky spoon on it, use a spoon holder or cup. It is a simple thing that makes clean up so much easier.
    • Keep some hot soapy water in the sink while you are cooking and wash things as you finish with them.
    • Don't set that carton of milk down on the counter after you pour it. While it's still in your hand, put it back in the fridge.
    • Keep the number of utensils you use to a minimum. You don't need to put a lid on a pot every time you cook something.

  3. Don't always think gourmet. Most families are so excited to get a homemade meal that they don't care what you serve them. Besides, almost any meal can be made to look "gourmet". Fruit sliced and arranged nicely on a plate, muffins keeping warm and nestled in a napkin inside a basket or mashed potatoes piled high with a chunk of golden butter melting down the sides all have eye appeal. All right -- I made myself hungry! Maybe it's time to quit for lunch.
  4. Clean up is one of the main reasons people hate to eat at home, but if you clean as you go like I mentioned earlier and everyone pitches in to help clean up after dinner, it should only take about 15 minutes to get it all put away. It would take longer than that to drive to a fast food place and return home.
  5. Pull out those crockpots. It takes about 5 minutes to throw in a roast, potatoes and carrots. It takes the same amount of time to throw in the ingredients for chili, stew or vegetable soup.
  6. If you are dragging the kids to an after school game: Instead of going to a fast food drive in, throw some hot dogs in a thermos and cover with boiling water. They will be cooked and ready to eat by the time you get there. How long does it really take to grab a few pieces of fruit, a bag of cleaned veggies and some chips to go with them? Maybe 2 minutes? How hard is that to cook? You could also have sloppy joes simmering in a crockpot and pour those into the thermos for an on the run meal. To make it even easier, heat it up from a jar and then pour it in the thermos.
I don't know who set the standard that cooking a meal in 30 minutes is fast. If I took that long to cook a meal every night I would never get anything done. There are tons of meals out there that require 15 minutes or less prep time.
If you don't know where to start, then drag out your Dining On A Dime cookbook or check out the Grocery Shopping On A Budget e-books. We share lots of ideas there to get you started. Sometimes we like to make things more complicated than they really are because that gives us a good excuse not to do them. Where there is a will there is a way.
Do you really want to get out of debt? Then GET UP, STOP CHARGING, and GET COOKING!

Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam are frugal living experts and the authors of the Dining On A Dime Cookbook. Dining On A Dime will help you save money on groceries and get out of debt, by cooking quick and simple homemade meals. For free tips & recipes visit

Giveaway At THE LEGACY OF HOME - 'One Thousand Gifts' by Ann Voskamp

Mrs. White over at The Legacy of Home is having a giveaway! For your chance to win one of three copies of Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts click HERE.

In Times Of Trouble

St. Patty's Day is over and the company gone. As I settle myself down from a few days of silliness and fun, my thoughts now turn to the real issues of life...home, family, finances, etc. There's always so much going on that sometimes...most of the time, in's hard for me to even know where to begin with any of it. 

I get tickled...I read these gals on-line who seem to have it altogether and I'm sure a lot of them really do. I oftentimes, in them, see reflections of my younger self when I was more on top of everything and full of zeal. I seemed to have it altogether back then...but I really didn't! I probably had it more together then than I do today, but I was in a different season. Our children were all at home then, our parents were younger and still able to do everything for themselves, and it was just us...John and me and our children. It was easy. We prayed together and struggled and, somehow, with the Lord's help and guidance, we worked it out and we made it.

But now we're in a different season...we're older (with age comes a whole new set of problems), most of our children are married and have families of their own (now we worry about their problems....aging parents, financial responsibilities and difficulties, job changes, health issues of their own, the list goes on and on) and we still have our own issues to contend struggles, trying to finish up the education of the last of six children (which school has been almost impossible to keep up with lately), elderly parents and other family members that need the kind of help that we simply are not able to give (and with that, of course, comes guilt), and the list goes on and on.

Then, you add to that all that's going on in the world around us...wars, famine, earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, the threat of nuclear meltdowns...

Where does it stop? Can't we get off this crazy merry-go-round yet?

The answer is, no! The truth doesn't stop! Life goes on and, contrary to popular theory, things are NOT evolving and getting better! This old world is slowing down and decaying...and it's going to continue the decaying process until the one constant in our lives...the one thing that, no matter how crazy life gets, always stays the same...comes...and that is Jesus Christ!

No matter how crazy life gets, it is to Jesus we must cling, for besides Him there is no other. He is THE Way...our rock, our shield, our buckler, our help in times of trouble, and it is to Him that we must run to and cling good times and in bad.

Troubles? Yes! We all have them. Answers? No! Not always. But Jesus? YES! ALWAYS! Always the same...YESTERDAY, TODAY, AND FOREVER!

Do you know Him?

"And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, be the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and the kingdom against kingdom: and tehre shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows" (Matthew 24:6-8).

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).

"Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever" (Hebrews 13:8). 

If you don't know Jesus as your Lord and Saviour...if you've never had that personal relationship with Him and would like's not too late. Ask Him into your heart today, then commit your life to following Him and the teachings of His Holy Word. If you need more information, help, or someone to pray with you, feel free to e-mail me I am here and I am praying for you even as I write this. In Jesus' name...

All My Love,

Thursday, March 17, 2011

More St. Patrick's Day Silliness At The Knox's

For several years now our son-in-law, Phillip, and I have played an on-going game of 'Hide the Leprechaun' over the course of his and our daughter, Amanda's annual St. Patrick's Day visit. For the duration of the visit we take turns, first one, then the other, hiding this little resin leprechaun that I picked up at the Dollar store, then we give each other clues in the form of rhymes and poetry that leads to the discovery of the hiding place. The game continues on until it's time for Amanda and Phillip to leave, and it always ends with Phillip hiding the leprechaun for the final time and calling me with a clue after he's well on his way home. It's silly, I know, but we both look forward to it with great anticipation every year (as does everyone else in the house), but, this year, Phillip outdid himself completely when he, not only came prepared to play the game, but brought along a few little surprises to add to the fun. Over the course of the visit, not only did I find Knox (the name that Phillip has officially deemed our leprechaun), but I found one of his new little friends, Broggie, a beautiful shamrock for my wall, AND my very own pot of gold! Wow! And, on top of all that, Phillip wrote and illustrated an awesome little book for me that tells the story of our own little leprechaun, the history of his people, and how we came to obtain him. It's really cute and he intends to add to it year after year. Like I said...silly? Yes! But fun? Definitely!!!

This is our very own Knox...the original leprechaun.

Knox's new little friend, Broggie.

This is the book that Phillip wrote and illustrated for me. It is so cute!
Isn't this wall plaque beautiful? 
My very own 'pot o' gold'!
The annual  green carnation.

RECIPE: Hearty Chicken, Rice, and Vegetable Soup

Hearty Chicken, Rice, and Vegetable Soup
Here's a recipe that I created by accident tonight. What happened was my son requested Chicken a la King for supper. I had made the sauce a little thinner than usual, so, instead of serving it on a plate, I decided to serve it in a bowl. The problem was I had made frozen, California blend vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots) on the side. I thought, "That's okay! I'll just put the vegetables over the rice, then pour the sauce over the whole thing." This delicious new soup is what resulted! And it was so good that I wanted to share it with you. Here's what I did...

I put one cup dry, brown rice and 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan, brought it to a boil, then turned the burner down to low and let it simmer until all the water was absorbed.

While the rice was cooking I put my vegetables (3/4 of a package) on to cook and make my Chicken a la King sauce:

1 can (4 oz.) mushroom stems and pieces, drained (reserve liquid)
1 sm. or 1/2 lg. green pepper, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 c. butter (I use light butter)
1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 3/4 c. milk
1 1/2 c. water
2 c. cut-up cooked chicken

Cook and stir mushrooms and green pepper in butter over medium heat 5 minutes; remove from heat. Blend in flour, salt and pepper. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until mixture is bubbly; remove from heat. Stir in bouillon, milk, water, and reserved mushroom liquid. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir for one minute, making sure bouillon cubes are dissolved. Stir in chicken and heat through.

Complete by draining the vegetables and adding them and the rice to the pan with the sauce; stir and serve.

RECIPE: Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread


3 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup raisins
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
1 T. oil

In a large bowl, combine first five ingredients. Stir in raisins. Set aside 1 Tbsp. beaten egg. In a bowl, combine the milk, oil, and remaining eggs; stir into flour mixture just until moistened (dough will be sticky). Transfer to a greased 9-in. round baking pan; brush top with reserved egg. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool. Slice or cut into wedges.

St. Patty's Day At Our House

St. Patrick's Day at our house has always been a fun day of family, food, and fellowship...more to celebrate the Irish side of our Scots-Irish heritage than anything else, and, believe me! Sometimes it gets pretty wild! And this year was no exception!

We did have to celebrate a day early this year in order to accommodate our youngest daughter, Amanda's work schedule (she and our son-in-law, Phillip, only make it down here once or twice a year, so we do whatever we have to on this end to make that come about), but, as always, we had a ball! Here are a few shots of yesterday's events...

Grandlittles Silas, Audrey, and Lizzy      
I made each family a shamrock garland to decorate their own home with and each of the children a shamrock necklace to wear. Here are three of the grandlittles wearing their 'made-by-Nana' necklaces.

Corned Beef and Cabbage
Irish Soda Bread

Emerald Isle Cake

Traditional foods included corned-beef and cabbage, Irish soda bread, and our personal family favorite, Emerald Isle Cake. I also served baked potatoes with Best Life and low-fat sour cream. I did have a little bit of a problem with the soda bread. I've only made it a couple of times in the past and that from a mix. This time it was from scratch (and I'll share that recipe with you later), but I think I needed to put it in something a little bit bigger around to bake it in. The Pyrex bowl that I used was fairly small, so it made the loaf thicker. When I cut into the middle of it, there was a hole it in and it was doughy, but we worked around it and ate the outside edges. The flavor was excellent!

Daughter, Amber, and Grandlittles Audrey and Silas

Daughter-in-law, Christy, and Grandlittles Lizzy, T.J. and Our Littlest Leprechaun, Sarah

Grandlittles Silas, Audrey, Abby, Gianna, and Liz Laughing At Uncle Phillip

'Uncie Toe' and Baby Sarah

As I look through the photos I find that there just aren't that many. I had my youngest daughter start out taking pictures early on, but, as more and more guests arrived (25 in all), I think that the camera got laid aside in favor of  laughing, talking, visiting with family and friends, and baby-holding! (Amanda hadn't even met her newest niece yet) I can understand. (smile)

Well, that's a little of what went on in our home yesterday. For now I'm out of time and have to run, so you all have a great day and HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY TO and all!

All My Love,

It's Time For The "Savin' O' The Green" Over At 'Living-On-A-Dime'

Dear Friends,

With the current economic conditions many of us are having more difficulty making the money we have cover all of our expenses. The good news is that there are hundreds of ways that you can reduce the strain on your budget and save money so you can keep more of that money for the things that are really important to you.

Our friends at Living On A Dime have made a great offer available to our readers this week only! With the rise in the price of groceries, they are offering our readers a "Savin' O' The Green" special, a helpful series of e-books including the Grocery Shopping on a Budget e-book set and the Menus On A Dime e-book set along with 5 great bonus items to help you stretch your grocery budget. The best news is that this week you can get this Savin' O The Green 15 e-book package for $17, a 73% discount off of the regular price
of $63.70 for these e-books!

You'll be amazed how easy it is to trim your grocery bill! To go take advantage of this special offer right now, go to

The e-books that are included in this offer are:

Grocery Shopping On A Budget e-book
Money Saving Meats e-book
Saving On Cleaning Supplies e-book
Eating Healthy On A Budget e-booklet
Is Eating Out Eating You Up? e-book
224 Meals In A Hurry e-book
Grocery Savings e-book
Menus That Make Cents e-book
Plan Ahead Leftovers e-book
Quick Dinners e-book
Menus On A Dime e-book
Kids Recipes e-book
Crockpot Recipes e-book
Quick And Easy Cooking e-book
Blue Ribbon Recipes e-book

Get your grocery budget under control today! For more information
on this exciting offer, visit

~Rebecca Knox

P.S. This special has been extended! Prices good through March 31st!!!

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Time Of Healing

I've determined everyday for a week to sit down and share some of all that has been on my heart and mind, and some of what's been going on in my home this week, seems that there hasn't been a spare moment. To be honest, I'm afraid I've lost much of what I've wanted to share, but am praying that the Lord would bring to remembrance that which is most important as I attempt to blog this evening.

One of the things that I wanted to share with you is the fact that the Lord is doing a great work within me. In the past few weeks He has set me free...literally DELIVERED ME OF...a hurt that has ached within my heart and soul for more than 30 years. I won't go into detail, but this is something that I, never in my wildest dreams, would ever have imagined being free of and it feels so good to experience that freedom from pain! And for the first time in my life I believe that I have truly experienced the "joy" of the Lord!

My healing started a few weeks ago with a heart-wrenching blog post from a woman I had recently ran into on-line (I don't remember now how I even found her, but I'm so thankful that I did...and I truly believe that the Lord Himself caused our paths to cross), but I really didn't know her at all. It's hard to explain, but through the sharing of her pain, my healing began.

During that same time period I was talking to my friend, Robin, on the phone and she told me about a book that she had just finished reading (Captivating by John and Stasi Eldridge) and she told me that it really got down to the depths of what a woman's heart truly is and that I really needed to read it. So...I found it on-line and ordered it. It arrived in the mail a few days later and I started reading it.

The first chapter was to die for...the second chapter I, literally, had to push my way through...chapters three and four were quickly devoured, then the remaining chapters followed steadily. There were a few things about the book that I didn't like, but overall, it was just what I needed. Unbeknownced to me it was the "next step" in the healing process. As I read, page-after-page, old things (lies of the enemy that had for far-too-long been believed, past aches, pains, and fears) began to melt away as the truth of God's love rushed in to take their place and, for the first time in my life, my heart (not just my head) believed that I was worthy of that love. For the first time my questions were answered and I understood...really understood...that Jesus, and Jesus alone, can define who I am.

I could go on and on with trying to explain all that the Lord has done for me during this process, but there simply are no words to explain all that the Lord has done for me...the healing that has taken place within me. I will say this...

#1 - I'm Scots-Irish. I have always believed and understood that God is a God of judgment...and He is! But I have never been able to understand, nor get a hold of, grace. Now I do! 

And #2 - In my life the Lord has, literally, delivered me of three things...cigarettes, alcohol, and now this...the one thing that I never thought I'd be free ache that has torn at my heart, soul, and spirit for over thirty years! Praise the Lord for His supernatural deliverance! I am so thankful!

The days that have followed have been joyful. Yes, there have been ups and downs. Trials? Yes! But through them all, I have managed to maintain joy. Things that used to would have put me on a downward spiral for days at a time have only been momentary glitches that have been short-lived. It's been an experience that has forever changed the course of my life and I am thankful!

Friday, March 11, 2011

10 Uses for Plastic Milk Jugs

10 Uses for Plastic Milk Jugs
by Tawra Kellam

  • Cut the tops off of plastic milk jugs, poke holes in the bottom and use them to start seeds.
  • Cut the bottom off and use as mini-greenhouses to cover plants. Remove the cap on warm days to let heat out and remove altogether when it gets hot in there so you don't fry your plants.
  • Cut the top off, fill with sand and pour some used oil over the sand. Keep it where you can put your hand tools in there to clean and oil them all at once.
  • Cut the bottom off of a 1/2 gallon jug of milk or juice and make it into a scoop. These work great to scoop out bird seed, fertilizer, grass seed, sand and many other things like that.
  • You can also use old milk jugs as weights. Fill them with dirt, sand or even water. These work well if you need to tarp something like a pile of firewood or if you need to hold bird netting or row covering down on the sides. Just tie a cord to the jug handle and then tie the other end to a corner or grommet in the tarp and let them hang.
  • Cut milk jugs into long strips and mark them with Sharpies as plant tags.
  • Fill plastic milk jugs with sand or rocks about 1-2 inches deep. Then poke 2 or 3 very small holes in the side at the bottom. Fill it with water and it makes a great drip irrigation system for your plants. Just refill with water and a scoop of liquid fertilizer (as needed) and water. The plants do better with a slow trickle than a huge dump of water.
  • Cut the bottom off about 2 inches from the bottom and use as plant saucers.
  • Cut a section out of the front on the side opposite the handle and then use it to harvest berries and cherry tomatoes.
  • A full sized milk jug is one gallon, so use it as an easy measure when watering with liquid fertilizer.
...and here's a bonus tip I thought was too important not to use!
  • Cut the bottoms off of plastic milk jugs and put them over plants you don't want to hit when spraying weed killer.

Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam are frugal living experts and the authors of the Dining On A Dime Cookbook. Dining On A Dime will help you save money on groceries and get out of debt, by cooking quick and simple homemade meals. For free tips & recipes, including gardening tips, visit

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Clothing Bargains

The other day a friend invited me out to lunch. While we were out we needed to pick up a few grocery items and my friend needed to get the oil in her vehicle changed. Since the oil-change was going to take awhile, we decided to just take our time and look around. Rarely do I buy new clothes, and, probably wouldn't even noticed it if my friend hadn't spotted it first and pointed it out, but there was a whole rack of clearance clothes right up front. I got SEVEN brand new long-sleeved shirts and sweaters (regularly priced $7.00 to $14.00 each)...three of them being Danskin, reversible hoodies...for just $3.00 each! What a blessing it was to get so many new pieces of clothing for such a tiny price! I love finding bargains like that!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Basics Of Homemade Cleaning Supplies

I've made my own homemade cleaning supplies for many years and have never regretted it. Occasionally, I have slipped back into the convenience of purchasing ready-made laundry detergent, but am never as satisfied with it as I am with my own homemade. Even though I have shared some of these recipes before, I thought I'd share my basic cleaning supply list of homemade formulas with you today...

 Mix in a sprayer bottle:

1 T. ammonia
1 T. liquid laundry detergent
2 cups of water

This recipe costs virtually nothing to make and, in my opinion, works as well or better than the 409 All-Purpose Cleaner that I used for years at almost $2.50 a bottle! 


Mix in a sprayer bottle:

1 cup rubbing alcohol
1 cup water
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon ammonia

This is the best glass cleaner I've ever used and it's streak-free!


1/2 cup of borax
1/2 cup of baking soda
1 teaspoon of cloves and/or cinnamon (cloves help keep moths out of the closet too)

Or, if you've got pets, instead of the spices, use about 20-25 drops of sweet orange oil (I use the spices AND the orange oil), which is a natural flea repellent; be sure to mix in the oil into powder mixture thoroughly and never use directly onto your pets.


1/3 bar Fels Naptha soap
½ cup Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda
½ cup 20 Mule-Team Borax powder  
You will also need a small bucket, about 2 gallon size.

Grate the soap and put it in a sauce pan.  Add 6 cups water and heat it until the soap melts.  Add the washing soda and the borax and stir until it is dissolved.  Remove from heat.  Pour 4 cups hot water into the bucket.   Now add your soap mixture and stir.  Now add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir.  Let the soap sit for about 24 hours and it will gel.  You use ½ cup per load. 

(Note: The finished soap will not be a solid gel; it will be more of a watery gel. And the soap is a low sudsing soap. You won't see suds, but that's okay. Suds are not what cleans; it's the ingredients in the soap.) 


2 cups finely grated Fels Naptha soap
1 cup 20 Mule-Team Borax
1 cup Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda

Mix and store in a coffee can or what have you. Use 1 to 2 tablespoons per load.


6 cups water
3 cups white vinegar
2 cups hair conditioner (the best I've found so far is Suave Ocean Breeze...Mmmmmm!)

Use as you would any softener (I use mine in my Downy ball). It won't leave a residue on your clothing or towels. 

Well, these are just a few of the homemade products that we use in our home. I find their cleaning ability equal, or superior, to what you would typically purchase at the local retail stores, and only the Lord knows for sure how much money we've saved over the years since switching to these products.

Happy Cleaning!


HEARTH AND HOME Notes - 3/8/11

A Little Sunshine On An Otherwise Dreary Day

I awoke this morning to a pounding headache, heavy rains, and a leaky roof. When recording my household expenditures I discovered that I am $100.00 off. Granted, it's a $100.00 to the good, but, for the life of me, I can't figure out where I've made my mistake. And what do you do when this happens...especially when it's this early in the month?

Despite all I am determined to maintain a positive attitude and keep pressing forward through my day. So far I have managed to make the bed, shower and get dressed, have my morning quiet time with the Lord, do two loads of laundry, work on  the family budget, and feed my family. Here are a couple of verses that stuck with me from my morning study...

"But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me, my glory, and the lifter up of my head" (Psalm 3:13).

"He brought me up also out of the horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings" (Psalm 40:2).

Today is one of those days that I need a lot of the Lord's lifting. (smile)

Have a beautiful day in the Lord!

All My Love,

Monday, March 7, 2011

Free Printable Recipe Cards

Here's a link for 30+ FREE printable recipe cards and there are some really cute ones! Enjoy!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Burnt Pizza Stone

My daughter got me a pizza stone over the weekend and I just used it for the first time. After Tony and I had got our pizza and left the kitchen my husband, not realizing that the burner under the tea kettle on the back burner was on, accidentally slid the pizza stone back and partially onto that burner. After he came on in the livingroom I kept smelling something. Thinking that it was the pan that he had made some extra sauce in, I didn't pay too much attention (I'm used to him cooking his sauce on a higher temperature than I use and sometimes he scorches it a little). Pretty soon my eyes were burning. I went in the kitchen to discover the edge of the pizza stone was over the burner that the tea kettle was on (the tea kettle was on to put some humidity in the house due to my plugged sinuses). Anyway, the pizza that was on the stone directly over the burner was burned and blackened almost all the way through and the stone itself has a big black mark on it. I've tried cleaning it with baking soda and water and I've tried removing it with sandpaper. The mark isn't as dark as it was, but it's still black. I don't really think it will hurt it. It just looks bad. But if anyone has any advice on what I can try next, please, contact me. Thank you so much!