So VERY Smitten!!

Monday, January 30, 2012

After taking a week off work, I returned today. I didn't want to but the other secretary in the office had to report for Federal Jury Duty -- sigh! I think I could just sit and hold this sweet boy and never do anything else again :)

"Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without!"

Saturday, January 28, 2012

This saying from the Great Depression and then WWII shows the way to frugality. I have subscribed to its principles for a long time. When it was first coined and in this economy, it just makes good sense.

I come from a family of thrifty folks...I have always been thrifty and shunned debt. Good thing. As a single woman living on a modest income, it is more important than ever for me to be thrifty. Over the holidays, and then with the planning of daughter's baby shower and the arrival of grandson, it just has seemed that my checking account has been bleeding outta control. I knew once these events were behind me it was time to get back on the frugal bandwagon -- then I saw Jeff Yeager, The Ultimate Cheapskate and was very intrigued by what he calls a Frugal Fast. Jeff says, "one way to rein in out-of-control spending is to observe a "fiscal fast" for one week. The idea is to try to spend no money for seven days, to see which expenses you can and cannot live without". This is perfect for me and my plan is to *Fiscal Fast* the last week of the month every month of 2012.

Some of Jeff's suggestions are:

Grocery-Shop in Your Pantry: You may be in the habit of stocking up at the grocery store once or twice a week, but see how many free meals you can come up with by raiding your own freezer or cupboards for foods you bought months ago.

Cut Down on Commuting: Is it possible for you to carpool or ride a bike to work for a few days? You could save money, socialize with co-workers and maybe lose a few pounds.

Flush Out Those Toiletries: You may have travel-size bottles of shampoo, tubes of toothpaste or bars of soap from past hotel stays in a closet somewhere. Try to use them up before you buy more.

Free Family Fun Night: Break out the board games or a movie from your library rather than heading to the movies on weekends.

My plan is to NOT purchase anything with the exception of gasoline to get back and forth to work during the week. Otherwise, I will use what I have on hand. That includes what is lurking in my pantry and freezer. No stocking up before the fast starts either -- just using what has already been purchased. I am really thinking this is going to be a breeze but I just may be surprised. Wish me luck!! What are some of your best frugal tips?

Low Carb Living ~ Lemon Chicken

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Busy helping my daughter this week with the new baby. I have managed to make some of my go-to, quick low-carb meals. This one is one of my favorites. Our local grocery had Meyer Lemons which are such a wonderful treat (and make me miss CA and the lovely little tree I had in my yard there). A delicious supper with some asparagus on the side!

Low-Carb Lemon Chicken
(Printable Version)

4 boneless skinless chicken breast fillets
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 c white wine
2 Tbsp butter
2 small lemons sliced into rounds

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Season chicken with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Saute chicken until golden brown, about 6 minutes each side. Remove from skillet and cover. Deglaze skillet with white wine, scrapping up all the bits remaining from the chicken on the skillet. Reduce to 1/2 the amount. Add lemon slices and butter. 1 Tbsp at a time, whisking until melted. add chicken and any juices back to the pan and turn to coat evenly with the sauce. Serves 4.

Sharing at Honey's Potpourri Party!

When A Child Is Born.....

Wednesday, January 25, 2012 is a Grandmother!

He is FINALLY here. Mother and baby are both well. Thank you all for your prayers!

Gabriel Mason
7lbs, 14ozs
20-1/4-inches long

Hot Tea and the Common Cold

Thursday, January 19, 2012

This post probably should come with a WHINE warning. I have come down with a cold. Just a plain, old run-of-the-mill, stuffy nose, scratchy throat, sneezy, drippy, achey COLD -- doesn't make me happy one bit. Grandbaby is to make his grand appearance VERY soon and I am to be in attendance at his birth -- hoping and praying this cold runs it's course quickly. Thanks for all the sweet emails inquiring about me and about baby. I am resting all I can and drinking LOTS of hot tea - my favorite cure all.

I'll have a low-carb recipe post up this weekend and am working on some more interesting posts for next week too. Anyway, thought I'd check in -- back to my couch, quilt and tissue box......oh, and another cuppa tea.

Sour Cherry Coffee Cake

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Daughter's baby shower was lovely and she received so many wonderful gifts. The food was all delicious. I spent a good part of the day today putting away all the catering goodies that I drug out to use. I kind of moved slowly knowing that this is my last full weekend at home for a while -- until the end of tax season to be exact. I start working 6 days a week this week. I'll miss my play time at home but I am so busy this time of year that it goes very quickly. After a nice long walk outside (an amazing January day in Nebraska), I enjoyed a leisurely coffee time this afternoon with a piece of the leftover coffee cake -- well, I ate about 2 bites of it and then was done....son came over helped me out with the rest of it :)

Sour Cherry Coffee Cake
(Printable Version)

4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted, plus more for dish
3/4 c all-purpose flour, plus more for dish
1/4 c granulated sugar
1/4 c packed light-brown sugar
1/4 c sliced almonds
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1-1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/4 c buttermilk
2 c fresh sour cherries, pitted (I used frozen)

Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter a 9-inch round baking dish (I am used a spring form pan so as to be able to display it on a cake plate), dust with flour, tap out excess. In a medium bowl, stir together butter, flour, sugars, almond slices, salt, and cinnamon. Set topping aside. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and granulated sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in eggs, vanilla and almond extract. Working in alternating batches, add flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour. Beat until just combined. Pour into prepared dish, and smooth with an offset spatula. Dot top with cherries, and sprinkle with crumb topping. Bake until golden and a tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let cool before cutting.

Low Carb Living ~ Marinated Olives

Friday, January 13, 2012
When I share that I follow a low-carb eating plan one of the most asked questions I get is what do you eat for snacks? Firstly, I *DO* snack -- usually 2-3 small snacks between meals a day. Some of my favorite snack items are nuts (especially almonds and walnuts), cheese, crunchy veggies - radishes w/butter, celery w/cream cheese, olives and one of my favorites - coffee and a small piece of very dark chocolate. I don't use any of the low-carb bars or products that you can buy, preferring a REAL food diet. Many of those contain sugar alcohols which can (AND in my case DO) cause gastric distress. One of my favorite snacks is olives....especially these marinated olives - yummy and full of good fats which leave you VERY satisfied.

Marinated Olives
(Printable Version)

2 cans medium pitted ripe olives, drained and rinsed
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
1-2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp red pepper flakes

Combine all ingredients in a quart-sized canning jar. Place lid on and shake to coat olives with oil mixture. Refrigerate.

Posting to: Foodie Friday and Potpourri Party!

Showers of Blessings!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012
I LOVE that old hymn.

It's a busy week at Faithfulness Farms! On Saturday I am the behind-the-scenes person for the baby shower brunch that youngest daughter is throwing for oldest daughter. Mostly, that means I am doing a lot of the work, lol. I am not minding at all.

My sweet sister designed and made the invitations and those went into the mail the instant Christmas was over. A friend of my daughter offered up her beautiful home since I live 25 miles away and she is going to handle the decorations. That really only leaves me to get the food in order and planning some activities. Have I told you that I am NOT a fan of shower games? We have something else planned - should be really special. I'll share that with you all next week (with a product review AND a giveaway). I LOVE hosting brunches -- easy-peasy food.

The menu is: A *yet-to-be determined breakfast casserole* (daughter is not very thrilled with eggs these days, so I am still searching and taking suggestions), fruit (oranges and bananas), sausage links and bacon, cherry coffeecake & Mrs. Vick's Apricot Scones (daughter request - they are her favorites). There will also be Citrus Punch, Coffee & Tea as well as Blue Velvet Cupcakes w/Cream Cheese Frosting, nuts and blue candies. Look for the coffeecake recipe this weekend.

Right now my house is in a state of packing up to head to Tiff's house first thing Saturday morning. I have *stuff* stacked everywhere it seems, lol.

I did get finished with both my grandbaby's special blanket as well as his girlfriends (the baby girl of daughter's sweet friend also due this month).

When I was a teen, the members of a club I belonged to hosted a baby shower for the woman who was our leader. I was shown how to make these cute diaper nut cups and have been making them every since for every baby shower I am involved with -- first grandbaby's is no exception.

You need:
flannel fabric cut into 6-inch squares and then cut in half on the diagonal to form a triangle. I got 36 triangles from 1/2 yard of flannel. I use pinking shears to make them extra cute.
Paraffin Wax - I used Gulf wax available where canning supplies are sold
small safety pins

WARNING: Hot wax burns. Be very careful.

Place bricks of paraffin in a saucepan and place over low heat until completely melted. Meanwhile, fold the *diapers* (gathering the 3 points together) and secure with safely pins. When wax is melted, remove from heat and allow to cool a bit (it will still be melted but not quite as hot). Dip each diaper into the melted wax, shake off excess and set diaper onto a baking sheet, use your hands to shape into *cup* shape. Repeat with each. Allow to harden (this can be speeded up by putting them into the refrigerator for a few minutes). Once hardened, fill with nuts. Again, an extra cute thing is to tie the nuts in a round of tulle first.

Sharing at Honey's Potpourri Party!

On this day...

Saturday, January 7, 2012
I became a mom for the third time. I am not quite sure where the last 19 years have gone but gone they have. Happy Birthday Son -- I am incredibly proud of the young man you have become. This last year has brought much growth for you - I look forward to what the Lord has for you in the next year. I am VERY blessed to be your Mom!

Low-Carb Living~Skillet Chicken Florentine

Friday, January 6, 2012

First I want to say thank you for ALL the wonderfully nice comments and emails you all sent my way regarding My Journey. I am very touched and encouraged by your kindness.

Okay, it's a NEW Year and I am determined to cook MORE for ME. I eat and eat pretty well but I am not always motivated to *fix* something just for me now that I am an empty-nester. That is changing. I love to cook and I love my low-carb lifestyle -- I want my cooking (and eating) to reflect that more. On Friday's I am going to be posting Low Carb Living recipes. That will motivate ME.

I LOVE all vegetables but it seems there are THREE that I gravitate to more than others -- Spinach, Cauliflower and Green Beans. This recipe showcases the skillet-style of cooking I enjoy so much and SPINACH!! YUM!

Skillet Chicken Florentine
(Printable Version)

2 Tbsp butter, divided
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, about 1 pound
10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed (you could use fresh chopped baby spinach if you prefer)
2-4 cloves garlic, minced (more garlic the better for me)
1 shallot, chopped
1/2 c dry white wine
1/4 c heavy cream
1/4 c Parmesan cheese (skip the green can -- use GOOD ingredients)
Salt and pepper, to taste
red pepper flakes, to taste

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 1 Tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken about 1-1/2 to 2 minutes per side, but do not cook all the way through. Remove the chicken to a plate. Add the other tablespoon of butter to the skillet and heat over medium-low heat. Add the shallot and garlic. Saute until the shallots are translucent. Add the wine. Increase the heat to medium-high and boil until the liquid is reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add spinach; cook about 1 minute, just to heat. Stir in the cream and cheese. Add salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to your liking, then spread the spinach evenly over the bottom of the skillet. Top the spinach with the chicken in a single layer; cover the pan and simmer over low heat about 5 minutes or so, just until the chicken is done. Serve the chicken topped with the spinach mixture. Add more cheese if you'd like. Makes 3 servings.

Per Serving: 350 Calories; 20g Fat; 33g Protein; 5g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 2g Net Carbs

Posting to Michael's Foodie Friday and Honey's Potpourri Party.

Old Man Winter & Undergarments!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

I said last week that winter has gotten lost on it's way to Nebraska -- now I am beginning to wonder if Old Man Winter plans to show up at all. We are having another gorgeous day here (temperatures in the 60's). The newspaper reported that these temperatures could cause some premature blooming of some plants -- Ya Think? I am thinking that OMW needs to just show up and get the worst over with already.

So I was looking thru some images and came across this wonderful advertisement from 1934. My first thought was WHO wears slips (especially FULL slips) these days? A few years ago I took a part-time position for a few months at JCPenney. I was assigned to the Intimates Department. Not so sure it was a good match. We didn't even carry slips in that location although they were available thru the catalog. Now remember, I am 51. I surely remember wearing slips - we wore dresses and skirts to school everyday until 5th grade when FINALLY they mandated that we could wear slacks on Fridays. My Mom would have been in a state of shock if I hadn't worn a slip. After all, we played kickball and dodgeball and all those elementary games -- how could we have been modest without a SLIP, lol. Anyway, I'm getting ready to head down a rabbit trail here - back to slips, IF you've ever worn one, you are pretty aware that they aren't much protection against winter weather as this ad leads you to believe. Some Cuddle Duds maybe, longjohns for sure, but not a slip. Since we are chatting about underclothing I thought I'd also ask what is the obsession with compression garments and shapeware -- you know, Spanx and the such? Again, consider my age, my aunties (they are 8 & 10 years older than I am) always wore GIRDLES -- Didn't we burn our girdles in the 70's? I was always taken aback by these young girlies coming in and purchasing girdles....I mean compression garments, lol. Frankly, I probably could benefit from such garments (especially after a large weight loss) but I flat-out refuse on principle. Yeah, that is the story I'm sticking to :)

Well, winter should get here or maybe my grandson should -- something to occupy my thoughts so I can stop thinking about underwear!

Looking Forward - NOT Back!

Monday, January 2, 2012

It's here - the NEW YEAR is finally here. I know that 2011 was a particularly difficult year for some. For me, it surely was a year of growth and as I've said before - CHANGES. Sometimes growth brings pains - there were those. Some more painful than others but I always knew there were those having a more difficult time than me. Change can be difficult but it also can be very freeing. I choose for it to be the latter just as I choose to be joyful.

If I had to pick a word for 2012 - it would be CONTENTMENT. That is a very special place to be.

I've spent the biggest part of this long weekend de-christmasing my home. WHEW, why does it never seem as big a job to pull it all out as it does to put it all away? I am organizing and uber-cleaning as I go. The next couple months will bring lots of demands on my time -- new grandbaby AND tax season. It's good to get things in order now. I like the freshness of the new year to concentrate on organizing and getting things in order. Oh, and another thing in my mind is a fiscal fast -- more about that later.