My family's journey down the road less traveled....

Monday, November 26, 2012

There's ham, I say there's ham a fallin' mom...

Weenie dog is having a Chicken Little moment, except instead of the sky falling, it's ham!!

Hamming it up.................Deborah

'Twas the Monday after Thanksgiving....

Here's hoping everyone had an enjoyable Thanksgiving and got your fill of turkey, football and shopping.  The Oompas and I spent a day baking in preparation of the big is Ginger's first ever apple pie.
Leave it to her to decorate with a squirrel and acorns.  Sigh, she's sooo weird!!!  We spent Thanksgiving with my brother and his wife, my mom, Pops and my oldest nephew.  It was mellow but good.  We were missing my other dad, unfortunately he spent the week in the hospital.  He's recovering well and should be going home today or tomorrow.

Keeping with family traditions Ginger and Boy Oompa and I put up the Christmas decorations on Friday.  This was the first year they were old enough to really be helpful.  Grumpy Teenager Oompa stayed as far away from the living room as possible.  It's a phase...I hope.  It was funny to hear them complain about how short the tree is!!  I told them to remedy the situation they should stop growing...they didn't like my idea.    

I've been reading all these Facebook posts and other blogs, seeing other families' traditions and I need to have an Elf on the Shelf.  Have you seen these??  Creepy little stalker elves that snitch to Santa!!  I'm kinda in love.

The rest of the weekend was a blur of football games, Christmas movies, using up leftovers and letters to Santa.  Girl Oompas go back to school tomorrow so we're running a few errands then spending the day cleaning house and getting laundry washed for the week.  You know...the fun stuff.  Maybe I'll even squeeze in a little Cyber Monday shopping!!!

Recovered from my turkey coma...............Deborah

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Coffee, Cafe, matter how you're spelled, I love ya!!

My mother-in-law is to blame for my love of coffee.'s all her fault!!  She can brew it strong enough to wake the dead from the 12th century.  I'll openly admit I'm not in it for the taste of the coffee as much as the caffeine jolt.  It's rare that I'll drink a cuppa joe without adding a lil sumptin' sumptin.  French vanilla creamer makes me big time.  I've been working over the past year to reduce my refined sugar intake and was appealed at the amount of crap in most liquid creamers.  We're talking long lists of crapola ingredients that are hard to pronounce.  Yuck!!

I'm putting down my bottle of CoffeeMate and making a stand...oh, yeah and my own creamer!!!

14oz can Sweetened Condensed Milk
14oz Half & Half (can save even more money and use milk...I prefer whole milk)
2 tsp vanilla extract.

Pour all ingredients into a jar and stir or shake till well blended.


**The handy-dandy lid on the jar is an awesome product called reCap.  Pourable, shakeable, BPA free and available in for regular and wide mouth canning jars.  Totally awesome.**

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.....

Pumpkins are a very under-rated and under-utilized fruit.  Yes, fruit!!  To most people they're only good for jack-o-lanterns, pies and chucking.  I love incorporating pumpkin puree into tons of dishes.  Of course, it lends itself best to those of the baked variety but toss a few spoonfuls into your meatloaf, spaghetti sauce or chili.  It'll add a little sweetness and a ton, and I mean a ton of fiber goodness.  Tasty and good for you!!

Here is one of my kids' favorite recipes with pumpkins.  There are a tons of extras you can add into this to up the ante health wise, like wheat germ and I've listed healthier alternatives in the notes.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
1 1/2 cup sugar (I use all brown sugar but you can mix and match with white sugar or sugar substitute)
1/2 c vegetable oil**
4 eggs
1 1/2 can pumpkin puree...NOT Pumpkin Pie Filling
1/2 cup water or juice
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon (I used 2 tsp for extra flavor)
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups flour (doesn't have to be white flour but I think all wheat might be a little too heavy for the recipe)
1/2 tsp nutmeg (if you can find the whole nuts and grind your own, it's even better!!)
1 cup semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips (could sub in any dried fruit)

Preheat oven to 400° and grease muffin tins, use paper liners or those silicone ones.

Mix sugar, oil, and eggs.  Add in pumpkin and water.  In separate bowl mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices.  Add in wet mixture and chocolate chips stirring well.  
Fill muffin cups 2/3 full and bake 20-25 minutes.  

From the land of pumpkiny goodness..........Deborah

**in most baking recipes calling for oil you can substitute with a myriad of things: applesauce, fruit purees, fruit butters, juice, yogurt, other oils, or butter)

Friday, November 16, 2012

9 years is a long time....

It's been 8 years since I've attempted to go grocery shopping with a baby in tow.  8 very long years.  Any of those crazy voices in my head telling me that another baby would be amazing have been forever silenced.  Friday is grocery shopping day and now that I have my 2 new little charges, nothing changed.  We headed off around 10am and like usual hit all three stores on my route.  However, upon returning home at 12:30pm, I'm much more exhausted than ever before!!  Lugging the car seat and keeping track of a 5yr old who decided to hop his way through the day was a nightmare.  If Boy Oompa hadn't come along, I would still be at the store!!

I went over budget by $8.79 but scored some really good deals.
Meijer: Hershey Baking Chips 2/$4 and I had two $1 off coupons= $1 per bag.  Plus if you buy three you get free brownie mix.  mPerks free toilet paper (6 double rolls) and Hawaiian Punch (for Thanksgiving) $1.48.
Kroger: Dawn $1.97 (bought 2 and had $1.25 in coupons), Crest $1.99 ($0.75 coupon) and all their veggie/chip dips were $1 each.

Got all the goodies I need for Thanksgiving, plus began the stockpile for the baking season!!

Chilling in my baby free zone...............Deborah

Sunday, November 11, 2012

So many Veterans, so little time......

Thank you just doesn't seem like enough.  No words of thanks, elaborate parades or solemn moments of silence seem substantial enough to express my gratitude to all of the brave men and women who have died for and defended our country.  Here are just a few of those amazing people I'm proud to call family:

My father-in-law-U.S. Army
My Dad (top right) and all his buddies-U.S. Army

Uncle Mike-U.S. Air Force

Uncle Louis-U.S. Army

Cousin Kevin-U.S. Navy
Cousin Renee and her Hubby Rob-U.S. Air Force

Gratefully yours...............Deborah 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Sunshine and Groceries....Under Budget!!!

It is an absolutely beautiful day here in Ohio.  The sun is shining and it's a balmy 70 degrees.  Almost unheard of for November.  I spent the morning working at the camp...they were severely short staffed and with the Board of Directors holding their quarterly meeting at the camp they needed help.  Those extra dollars for my pocket were helpful as well.

This past week was good too....I'm back in the childcare business again.  I am watching the most adorable 13 month old little girl and her just turned 5 year old brother.  I get to cuddle a baby, work with the little boy on preschool basics and keep up on lessons with Boy Oompa.  There is going to be a little adjustment period but if this week is an indicator, we'll be just fine.  Did I mention how adorable the baby is?  If not....she's cute.  Really.

On an even brighter note, I came in under budget with my grocery shopping!!!  $118.77..... Oompas were free!!

Kroger Deals: Milk $1.25/half gallon, Pepsi 10/$10, Batteries 1.99 each, Farm Rich Snacks $1.99(after 2 coupons totaling $2.50 off each), Domino Sugar 4lbs $1.99
Meijer Deals: mPerks 5% off all items, Tennessee Pride sausage $1.79 w/coupon, chicken breasts $1.87lb, Angel Soft 12 double rolls $4.99 w/mPerks coupon.

Weekly Menu:
Chicken Sandwiches and fries
Pork Burritos
Potato Skins, Cheese Sticks and Pizza Snacks
Sausage Gravy and Biscuits

As always, I picked up a few things for breakfasts and lunches over the course of the week and will spend a few hours tomorrow morning getting those ready.

$1.23 under budget...............Deborah

Friday, November 09, 2012

One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn't belong...

Can you tell which things is not like the others,
By the time I finish my song?

Rockin' out Sesame Street style..............Deborah

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Old McDonald's Farm has NOTHING on Mine....

Yes, Old McDonald had a larger variety of livestock than I do, but my creatures are waaay more interesting!!  See, his animals weren't brave enough to think outside the box stall.

Early this morning one of my Americana hennies ran Cousin Eddie the cat away from the coop then pecked his head a couple of times for good measure!!  Attack hens??  I see a new line of self-defense sweeping the nation.  No need for expensive alarm systems or lengthy dog training programs...arm your home with Protector Hens.  They'll guard your loved ones and provide a tasty breakfast!!

Later I witnessed a little species confusion as the cats ate the scratch grains and layer pellets.....

while a few hens took over the cats' winter home.

Confused here at Old McPatrick's Farm.................................Deborah

Sunday, November 04, 2012

In the Words of Martha Stewart, This is a Good Thing....

This weekend has brought it's fair share of good things.  First, I got 30 cloves of garlic planted in my garden. Boy Oompa helped me rake the leaves from the maple and apple trees to cover each raised garden bed.  This will act as a nice insulator for the garlic and as it breaks down it'll add much needed nutrients back into the soil.  I'm hoping it'll decrease the spring weeds too.

Secondly, the photo I won over at Thy Had Hath Provided arrived!  Thanks again to Jane and her talented brother Darin.  His photography is amazing and what's truly beautiful is that until the end of the year he will be donating all profits to Serving His Children, a charity designed to help malnourished children and their families in Uganda.  You'll get a wonderful piece of art and help a worthy cause!!
12x12 Canvas
Lastly, I have finished staining all of the gourds that I received from my sister.  I've been working on turning them into really unique birdhouses.  Once they're all dry, I'll be adding the leather cords for hanging and will try my hand at embellishing them with feathers and beads I've collected.  Pictures to follow!!!

Thankful for Good Things................Deborah

Friday, November 02, 2012

Friday Baby....

Welcome to the latest installment of "Deborah bashing her head against the wall because she can't seem to come in UNDER budget!!!"  My total for this week was $128.52!  I'm getting better and $8.52 over sure as heck beats the $40 or so from a few weeks ago.  Still, with the decrease in our income I'm watching every penny.

Kroger had some decent deals: Pork Loin $1.88/lb, Annie's Mac & Cheese $0.79, Creamette Pasta $0.79, Peanut Butter $1.99 and Pepsi 10/$10.  They were out of the B1G1 roasts advertised.  Meijer's deals were a little harder to come by: Chicken breasts $1.99/lb, coffee creamer $1.99 and Ore-Ida fries 2/$5 with a buy 2G1F making them $1.67 each.

Here's this week's haul, complete with photo bomb by the Oldest Oompa:

Weekly Menu 
Friday: Fast Food Dollar Menu (included in grocery budget) 
Saturday: Pork Loin with Apples, Julienne Potatoes
Monday: Beef Au Jus Sandwiches and Fried
Tuesday: Ginger Oompa's 12th Birthday-she requested Chicken Alfredo
Wednesday:Freezer Meal (I will raid my freezer and pantry)
Thursday: Leftovers

I will take a few minutes tomorrow or Sunday to whip up a double batch of pancakes and muffins for the week's breakfasts and lunches will consist of subs, tuna fish sandwiches and leftovers. 

There are a few things happening on the job front for both Mr. Awesome© and myself but for fear of jinxing them, I'll keep quiet till they're certain.  Regardless of the outcome, things are looking up and I'm looking forward.  

Over Budget.............Deborah