Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pineapple Granola

Last night I put together this pineapple granola and we liked it so I thought I would share it here.

Pineapple Granola
9-10 C. old fashioned oats
1 - 20 oz. can pineapple chunks or tidbits, drained with all juice reserved*
(My favorite is Dole Tropical Gold Chunks found at Costco.)
1/2 C. brown sugar
1/2 C. vegetable oil**
1/2 C. honey
3/4+ C. reserved pineapple juice (use all the juice drained from the can)
1 T. vanilla
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. salt
1 C. dried cranberries
1 C. nuts of your choosing (optional - we opt out as there are multiple allergies in our house)

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
In large oven-proof bowl mix oil, honey, pineapple juice, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Heat briefly to melt the sugar. Add in oats and stir well. Remove half of oat mixture to 9x13" glass pan.
Quarter drained pineapple chunks or leave tidbits as is, then place on baking sheet lined with silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
Place two dishes of granola and sheet of pineapple in the oven. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes. Stir dried cranberries and nuts (opt.) into granola, turn oven off and leave in oven overnight. Serve and enjoy!

Yield: enough for 2 breakfasts for our family :)

*You could also use dried pineapple from the store, but I'm much more likely to have canned pineapple on hand and the juice nicely flavors the oats.
**I've read of other folks using coconut oil, which I will try if we get the go-ahead from our allergy doctor.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Rethinking My Grocery Goals & January Menu

Lately I've been feeling the need to simplify my shopping process for groceries. While I like to serve good, wholesome, home-cooked meals, I don't relish the time it takes to procure all the necessary ingredients. So this month I am trying something new for me and gathered all our groceries for the month last weekend and made a menu from those things and what was in our pantry and freezer. My goal is to stay out of the grocery stores as much as possible, only stopping by the milk store when we use up our supply and popping into grocery stores if there are a couple basic items that are really worth stocking up on. I considered participating in a pantry challenge month, but really we did not have a sufficient stockpile with enough variety for that to be a good idea and I don't want our supplies running too low as we are on the countdown to the birth of our baby.

Grocery Goals for 2012

1. Do 1 major grocery gathering per month, shopping at 2-3 stores, with detailed menu plan, shopping list and cash in hand.

2. Keep the grocery budget to $400 (family of 6, going on 7) including household supplies, toiletries & diapers.

3. Supplement as needed for milk, produce and truly good deals in the times between monthly shopping trips.

4. Be realistic in my expectations of myself. I don't have the time, energy or motivation in this season to be a super couponer. Sometimes I will need to just buy bread at the store and not feel guilty for not making it at home. There will be times we will need to order in or want to eat out. It's all okay as long as we are keeping to our grocery budget.

5. Increase our consumption of fruits and vegetables.

6. Plan to practice hospitality and don't let our budget deter me from that.

So here is our menu for the rest of this month, with the meals we've already eaten crossed out.

Dinners/Weekend Lunches

Baja chicken sausage, baked fries, oranges
Loaded baked potatoes, green smoothies

Chicken caesar salad, oranges

Lasagna (made enough sauce for 3 additional meals), green beans

Broccoli cheddar soup, rolls

Pasta & meat sauce, steamed veggies (x3)

Homemade pizza – pepperoni, ham & pineapple, BBQ chicken (x3)

Chicken black bean burritos (x2)

Whole wheat ham & cheese braid, mixed vegetables

Prime rib (thanks to a gift in the freezer from my in-laws), potatoes, vegetables

French dip sandwiches, baked fries, mixed vegetables

Beef stir fry (broccoli, carrots, onions, red pepper), rice
Chicken noodle soup w/homemade noodles, w.w. rolls
Tangy shredded BBQ chicken sandwiches, baked fries, green beans

Shepherd's pie, smoothies

Colorado white chicken chili, chips

Chili, cornbread

Balsamic chicken, green beans, brown rice

Eggs, bacon, blackberry scones

Chicken, queso & bean rice bowls

Super simple supper: popcorn, apples & oranges, cheese

- served with fruit, green smoothies and/or vegetables


grilled cheese

sandwiches or wraps

macaroni & cheese

snack lunch (any combo of fruit, veg, meat, cheese, popcorn, crackers, etc.)


Whole wheat waffles, homemade cinnamon syrup, yogurt (x4)
Oatmeal (x8), oranges, yogurt

Steel cut oats, berries (x3)

Cold cereal, yogurt, pears (x3)

Homemade granola, yogurt (x3)

Yogurt/granola/fruit parfaits (x2)

Toast, smoothies or fruit (x5)

Grocery purchases so far for January = $246.96

Albertson's - $14.00
42 lbs. of oranges

Costco - $125.35 *denotes coupon item
*1 box Huggies (148 diapers, size N & 1, 240 wipes)
*24 ct. Activia yogurt, 4 oz. each
8 - 20 oz. cans Dole Tropical Gold pineapple
1 gal. chocolate milk
2 gallons 1% milk
96 oz. honey
3 lbs. bananas
37 oz. Cheerios
*134 oz. Prego sauce
*2 lbs. Hillshire Farm turkey lunchmeat
40 oz. organic corn tortilla chips
*10 - 260ct. boxes Kleenex
10 lbs. organic carrots
18 ct. eggs
2 - 32 oz. loaves OroWheat bread
5.5 lbs. organic apples
6.6 lbs. organic pasta

King Sooper's - $44.41
3 - 2lb. Sargento cheese cubes
6 - 32 oz. yogurt (5 Dannon Pure, 1 Mountain High)
1 red pepper
2 cucumbers
2.3 lbs. bananas
12 ct. double-roll Charmin
3 Secret deodorant
3.1 lbs. organic pears
12 ct. bakery cookies - markdown

Sunflower Market - $50.04
1 head romaine
6 - 6 oz. pkgs. blackberries
1.1 lb. steel cut oats
4 - 32 oz. Cascade Fresh whole milk yogurt - so good!
6 - 6 oz. Brown Cow yogurt
3.1 lb. apples
1.8 lb. broccoli
4.5 lb. brown rice
.7 lb. gummi bears - keeping it real here!
3 grapefruit
4 organic avacados
7 lb. fresh chicken sausage (Baja and Italian varieties)

FarmCrest - $13.16
4 gallons 2% milk

How do you shop and budget for groceries? I'd welcome any time-saving, money-saving, sanity-saving tips!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Project #2 - Small Fabric Bags

Small Fabric Bags - These are inspired by many I have seen on Pinterest, but easier due to starting with double-sided finished pieces.

Placemats (mine were used, being saved from the Goodwill-bound donation pile)
Once again, the weight of the double-sided placemat provides a good weight for these bags and a nice pattern and color contrast if you decide to turn a cuff down without any additional finish work. Truth be told, I'm always looking for shortcuts.
Ribbon, buttons or other embellishments, if desired

Time: about 1 hour for 4 bags

A few uses:
- corralling remotes and small cords
- a temporary home for lonely socks in your laundry room
- a place to stash trash in your vehicle (maybe attaching a handle would be helpful in that case)
- keeping crayons, markers, pens, small notepads neat & tidy
- keeping a collection of travel-sized toiletries together in a guest bathroom

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A New Year of Crafting & Project #1 - Mini Doll Tote

I've been missing taking the time to be creative lately, so I'm making some simple goals to enjoy the creative process again.

My crafting goals for the year:
1. Complete about 1 project per week.
2. Use supplies I already have or can repurpose from other items.
3. Involve our daughter and teach her how to sew. She is one crafty girl and lights up when she completes a project and amazes us with her resourcefulness (many of her projects start with a trip to the recycle bin to forage for supplies).

- - - - - - - - - - - -

Project #1 - American Girl Mini-Doll Tote / Sleeping Case

This past Christmas we gave our girl an American Girl Mini-Doll which she has really enjoyed. One evening I was motivated to sew and made this little case for her to put the doll in for travel or just storing the doll in.

scrap of fleece
twill tape or ribbon

10-20 minutes

Start with a placemat. The stiff nature of a double-sided placemat provides a nice weight and durability for the finished project. I had a placemat in my crafting stash (50 cents or $1.00 on clearance several years ago).

1. Cut the placemat to half its width. You'll only be using one half for this project.
The raw edge that you have created is now the bottom of the tote. Because 3 sides of your placemat piece are finished and fleece does not fray, you'll end up with nice edges without any extra effort.
2. Cut a scrap piece of fleece the width of the placemat piece and about 2 inches shorter than the height of the placemat piece.
3. Turn over a small edge along the width of the fleece and hem, using a decorative stitch if you want.
4. Lay the fleece and pieces together, right sides together. Sew together along the bottom (raw) edge of the placemat.
5. Turn the fleece over so that now the fleece and placemat piece are wrong sides together.
6. Pin your pieces of twill tape or ribbon to each side, sandwiched between the fleece and placemat piece.
7. Sew, from bottom to top, to secure the fleece to the placemat piece, also securing the tie on each side.
8. Mark the center of your tote and sew a vertical line to divide the fleece into two pockets.

9. Put the doll in, tie it up and you're good to go.
This will hold 2 mini-dolls with room to spare.

With the other half of the placemat that I set aside at the beginning of the project I made a potholder by folding over the remaining piece, putting in a couple layers of batting and sewing around the edge of the whole thing, sandwiching the ends of a loop of twill tape inside the seam to create a loop so it could be hung.

1 project down, 51 to go. I'm looking forward to getting back to sewing and crafting.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Hello 2012, Please Hold

Hello 2012! I've heard you were here, but I'm just not ready yet. It feels like life has been a little off kilter in recent months so I couldn't even get it together enough to make resolutions and I certainly don't feel like I have a grip or vision on this current year. Tough stuff going on with my family that makes my heart heavy for them. The loss of my dear grandfather less than a month ago. Weariness in the trenches of mothering and homeschooling. Physical tiredness from keeping up with a toddler and 3 big kids and growing the precious girl inside my womb. Celebrating Christmas, but not really "feeling" it this year. Finding it hard to make ends meet and provide what we want to for our family. Turning 35 and wondering who in the world I am and feeling some disappointment that I'm not really the gal I wanted to be, thought I would be by this age.

But this I know, for everything there is season (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8) and God is with me in whatever season I am in. He sees me. He has compassion and love for me. What a comfort! I serve and worship and rest in the God of grace, not in a god of "Come unto me when you get it together, girl, and then you'll be acceptable and worthy of my attention."

So maybe I am ready for this year after all. Ready for resting in the abundance of God's grace and provision for me, letting His Spirit and Word sustain me.

Come unto me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9*)

*read all of Galatians 6 for better context