Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Remodeling a Rental

Okay, is it silly to fix up and "remodel" a house that is not even yours? Probably , but I have a very tolerant and understanding husband. Mostly we have painted ugly wallpaper nice, neutral tones. Then I realized that there was more that paint can do.

BEFORE: Dining Room "gold" chandelier

And with a little paint: AFTER: ta da!

Classy, elegant, neutral, very, very cheap and not too much time.

Even though I really love a beautiful room, our bodies are too precious to needlessly expose to harmful toxins. Gratefully there is a low to zero VOC paint available at a very, very reasonable cost. Lowe's Home Improvement's Olympic Paint (more or less their generic brand) is one of the best. Sherwin Williams has the Harmony brand, but by far the Olympic is the most cost effective. Happy decorating!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Macaroni and Cheese, with a natural twist

So since we do natural and largely "non-packaged food, a friend had asked how we did without cream of whatever soup in dishes. I thought about this version of the ever-so-kid-friendly dish -

Macaroni and Cheese

  • * Boil plain macaroni noodles (we use mainstream noodles, I need to find a decent price for organic, but these do not have any msg or pretend msg). I'm looking into a better alternative
  • Make a rue. Fry some butter and flour until light brown, add salt and pepper. Add water (cup-ish) and boil until it thickens up. Then add milk (cup-ish) and simmer until it's thickened again.
  • Grate some fresh cheese (we usually use colby or mild cheddar) - about half a cup into the creamy stuff.
  • Add this to the macaroni noodles and add more salt, pepper, little garlic powder and some basil.
It makes enough for us to eat two meals or fill in the gaps of a lighter meal.

Menu and Spending

Okay, I love the title of fellow blogger - frugal granola - if I had thought of it first... ;-) We are in the mission field and we are not rolling in money by any means, but we do have a fairly predictable income. We did the "Dave Ramsey get out of debt thing" a few years back, but never took the leap to use cash inside envelopes.

Well, last fall, we did take "Financial Peace University." I totally recommend it. We were already debt-free (don't own much), but taking the class was very inspiring. We decided to take the leap and use cash envelopes. The cool thing - it coincided with my discovering the bounty of our local farmers market. They prefer cash anyway ;-) My goal is to get 80% of all our food from local farmers. I need to develop a way to track that ;-) So here's a glimpse into my budget and coordinating menus for the week.

This week's grocery shopping / Cost of my meals

Slow Food (local farmers) - all organic and/or natural

  • Milk gallon - $8
  • 2 lbs butter $9 (will last two weeks)
  • One block of Munster cheese - $3.50
  • Two loaves bread - $8
  • Two pints yogurt - $5
  • Head of cabbage - don't recall exactly - $.69 lb?)
  • Carrots $5 (discount for bulk - 5 lbs for $1 lb)
  • Potatoes $5 (for two meals)
  • Roast, 2 lb - $12
  • Green peppers (usually can get even in winter) $2
  • Ground beef (1 lb) - $5
  • Tomatoes (4 large) - $6
  • Garlic - don't recall at all
  • Lettuce (loose bag) - $4
  • Chicken legs (for lentil soup) $5 (I'll be able to buy more in a few weeks - the chickens aren't ready to process yet)

Mainstream Grocery Stores: (Lowes Food / Harris Teeter
/ Fresh Market/ Super Wal-mart) - mostly organic

  • Frozen bag organic veggies - $1.50 each (on sale last week)
  • Frozen spinach - $3
  • Natural tuna - $2
  • Macaroni noodles - $1 (mainstream)
  • Dried beans - $2 (kidney beans for chili, lentils for stew)
  • Egg noodles - $2 (mainstream)
  • Organic applesauce - $5 (Two six-packs at $2.50 each)
  • Sour cream - $2 (mainstream)
  • Talapia - $15 (wild caught after that nasty "Dirties Jobs" episode we just can't mentally accept eating farm raised)
  • Celery - $3
  • Bananas - $10 (we buy mainstream b/c we understood that organic has to be sprayed to be brought in to the US, so we just peel them for the girls and wash our hands so (mainstream))
  • Chicken breasts - $20 (for Bahmi -$5 lb)
  • Leeks - $4 bunch, (I cut up and freeze, so one bunch will last two weeks)
  • Tortilla chips - $3
  • Expeller pressed mayo - $8 (lasts long time)
  • Almond butter - $7 (lasts two weeks, sometimes longer depending on how many leftovers we have for lunches)
Menu We eat pretty much the same breakfast and lunch everyday unless it is a special occasion.

Banana for each person (occasionally two), oatmeal (real, cooked on the stovetop) with sea salt and maple syrup (we try to eat it just soaked and raw - but I forget), and many days - a boiled egg for each person.

Lunch: egg salad or almond butter and honey sandwiches, we have tuna noodle casserole with green peas (
when Pete's away b/c mayo allergy), sometimes a green salad with some chicken on top, or leftovers from the previous night's dinner.
Monday: Chicken lentil soup (really a thick stew) - enough for two meals

Tuesday: Chicken legs, macaroni and cheese, green peas, leftover lentil soup

Wednesday: Talapia, spinach, mashed potatoes
Bahmi (stir fry of cabbage, leeks, carrots, chicken, celery with egg noodles)
Chili (beef, kidney beans, peppers, tomatos canned from my parent's garden, leeks, garlic)
Saturday: Roast beef, green beans, mashed potatoes - one of our favorite meals

Sunday: Chicken stew (chicken, potatoes, carrots)

And on Fridays - I make a 8 x 8 pan of agave brownies. We try to make it last the whole weekend - it's hard. Sometimes I make hot chocolate to go with the fabulous agave marshmallows I made (they're still some in the refrigerator). Sometimes on Wednesday, I do a mid-week treat of blueberry muffins (blueberries frozen from summer).

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

OT Compliant

Are you OT Compliant? In this new year of resolutions and promises, may I suggest an alternative to the standard diet? Try being OT (Old Testament) Compliant. I was surprised and encouraged to find there is scientific proof to the benefits of following OT dietary and lifestyle laws. I praise God that sacrifices are no longer necessary since Jesus has paid the one truly perfect and complete sacrifice. I am not advocating legalism (I am a reforming legalist by the grace of God myself). But if you are convinced in both your mind (that you connect intellectually) and your heart (that you trust that God has your best in mind) - you will find following an OT Compliant lifestyle is actually not so hard.

And to prove I am not a legalist, I confess to all my blog buddies that I did enjoy two pieces of bacon with my Chick-fil-A breakfast platter yesterday. So explore the possiblity of becoming OT Compliant. My best resource is "What the Bible Says About Healthy Living" by Dr. Rex Russell which is in a lot of libraries.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Success in Marshmallows

WARNING: Please read this post on the use of agave nectar before pursuing this recipe. I'm planning to attempt honey-sweetened marshmallows in the near future - so in the mean time - try organic cane juice.

Over the Christmas and New Years holidays, I finally had the opportunity to attempt the marshmallows. I followed the video and instructions from
volcanic nectar website. I took a few pictures to share the process. After we left them to set overnight, we all enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate with a marshmallow on top. They were indeed the agave-sweetened kosher homemade marshmallows of my dreams.