Sunday, November 29, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - Back into the swing of things

This week brings us into my favorite time of the year - Advent. As I mentioned a while back, I found a free Advent devotional here, and the picture above is the Advent wreath I made last year. We began our devotionals together this evening, and especially in the middle of our recent loss, the encouragement to trust in God's promises was incredibly timely and poignant. I am looking forward to what our celebration of Advent speaks into our lives this Christmas Season.

OK, so, this week's menu plan:

Monday - Leftover Turkey Roll-Ups (brought back with us from Jeff's Mom :-D)

Tuesday - Venison Steaks, Mashed Potatoes, Steamed Veggies
To Do: Soak Crust for Wednesday night Pizza

Wednesday - Pizza

Thursday - Chicken, mashed sweet potatoes, spinach (steamed)

Friday - Leftovers

Saturday - Venison Burgers (With the Beef & Barley Burgers recipe)

Sunday - Breakfast for dinner (with Sweet Potato Pancakes!)

This post is a part of Menu Plan Monday! Find more great posts at Org Junkie!

Friday, November 27, 2009

News on the Bee Beautiful Front

The Christmas season has begun, and already I have begun adding gift sets to Bee Beautiful. Small lavender gift sets are available now on Etsy and on ArtFire. I can already make the same sets in Eucalyptus Mint, but they have not been made and added to the site yet. Larger gift baskets will be added over the course of the next week.

Shipping options are automatically USPS Priority shipping, which is a 2 day lead time, so there is still plenty of time to order before Christmas!

Small Gift Baskets: These are $15 ea. and contain: 5 oz. Bath Snow,3-4 oz bar of soap (depends on shape) in a Christmas-themed shape, Soft & Sweet lip balm. These are available in Lavender or Eucalyptus Mint, contact me for custom orders.

Medium Gift Baskets: These are $25 ea. and contain: 7 oz. Bath Snow, 3-4 oz bar of soap in a Christmas themed shape, Soft & Sweet Lip Balm, and a 4 oz bottle of Touch of Silk Body Lotion. These are available in Lavender or Eucalyptus Mint, contact me for custom orders.

Large Gift Baskets: These are $40 ea. and contain 7 oz. Bath Snow, 3-4 oz bar of soap in a Christmas themed shape, Soft & Sweet Lip Balm, 4 oz bottle of Touch of Silk Body Lotion, and a 4 oz bottle of Lavender Bliss (Deodorant/Room Deodorizer/Linen Spray), and a scented Beeswax candle. These are available in Lavender or Eucalyptus Mint, contact me for custom orders.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Lots of Turkey - Menu Plan for Thanksgiving Week

I am so excited about this Thanksgiving! Partly because I know that Advent ensues immediately thereafter, and this year we have everything we need for Advent ahead of time, and our plan in order to walk through the rest of the liturgical year. The other part is that even though we have experienced sorrow in the last week, I am all too happy to be reminded of all that we have to be thankful for. Jeff and I walk together into this week, knowing that God is in control, that He loves us and has a plan for us, and that He is eager to redeem our heartbreaks to bring about His good and perfect will in our lives. We walk into this week knowing that those who sow in tears will reap in joy, and knowing that we have so much to be grateful for.

Lots of plans this week. The married students ministry at the college is having a dinner Monday evening. Jeff graduated last winter, but alum are welcome, too, and so we are planning on attending. Thursday is Thanksgiving Dinner with my brother and his family. It is always a crowded and wonderful event. I say crowded and wonderful because thanksgiving at my house was always busy. My mom made sure that anyone we knew who could not be with their family for the big day was with ours, and I have always loved it that way. My brother and sister in law, and her family (who is also down here) have done things the same way, so Thanksgiving with them reminds me of Thanksgiving back home in New York. Plus: Deep Fried Turkey. Yup, you heard me. Which will seem to contradict with the other reason I love Thanksgiving with them: Wheat. Most of my family down here are all freshly-milled wheat advocates. Actually, as I have mentioned before, it was living with Aaron and Jen that got me turned on to freshly milled wheat. Plus, some of our family has started using things like sucanat, so I worry less about eating with the family than I do about eating anywhere else that is not my home. Friday we head several hours south for Thanksgiving with Jeff's mom and brother. This year they are asking us to bring down several raw dairy products along with, so that we can make some of the favorite dairy dishes so Jeff can eat them, too.

Monday - Married Student Thanksgiving. Cranberry Sauce, Turkey
(We were just going to bring cranberry sauce and maybe a dessert, but our landlady gave us a turkey as a thank you for being good tenants. Since I also get a turkey at work, we figured we should just prepare this one for the MS Dinner)

Tuesday - Sauteed Chicken Breast, steamed veggies, honey wheat rolls

Wednesday - Breakfast for dinner (French toast, scrambled eggs, bacon)

Thursday - Thanksgiving Day - Bringing a turkey (for the fryer @ my brother's), maybe some cranberry relish, too.

Friday - @ Mom B's. We're all making turkey roll ups w/leftover turkey. We are bringing cheese (homemade mozz), and homemade sour cream.

Saturday - @ Mom B's, (to be determined)

Sunday - Coming back from downstate, dinner to be determined.

This post is part of Menu Plan Monday. Find more great posts at Org Junkie.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

As Free Range As It Gets - Real Food Wednesday

We eat a lot of chicken and occasionally eat some pork, due to the fact that dh seems very sensitive to commercial red meat and organic free range beef is hard to come by around here. We are saving up the money for a steer-share next year, and Jeff is hoping to get a couple deer this winter, but at the moment I was wondering how we could break up the monotony of chicken and pork in the next few weeks.

Enter a recent ladies' fellowship I attended. A woman whose husband has already gotten one deer, and is planning more hunting trips, came up to me saying, "Do you eat venison?" She told me that they had way more than they could handle and wanted me to take whatever we needed. Hoping that Jeff can get a deer in the next month, we picked up about 3 lbs of ground venison and 3 packages of steaks.

It does not get anymore free range than that. No hormones, no antibiotics, and of course not grain fed; this is exactly what we need. Anyone who has good recipes for ground venison or even favorite ways to cook up the steaks, feel free to comment with them. Personally, I am excited to see how our Beef and Barley Burgers turn out with venison instead!

I feel like the allergies and sensitivities are almost a blessing, sometimes. Because dh cannot drink pasteurized milk, we discovered raw milk. Since discovering raw milk, we've been able to keep dairy in our diet, and we have felt healthier and better nourished on the whole. Since he cannot have commercial red meat, either, we have discovered just how incredible free range, grass finished beef tastes! Because I am allergic to MSG, we are extra careful about what we consume and as a result, have more incentive to spend the extra time in the kitchen, and eat better foods, too! It is so much easier to make the healthier (though sometimes less convenient) choice when the options are so much clearer. Either we can be sick all the time, or we can eat the foods we do, and feel well. Not just "not sick," but actually nourished. And of course, once we started making some healthier choices, and started feeling so much better, the other areas of health and nutrition that we have not yet addressed start to feel much less intimidating!

Once again: Calling all commenters, tell me how you like your venison!! This is new territory for me (that I am pretty excited about).

This post is a part of Real Food Wednesday. See more great Real Food Posts at Cheeseslave!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Grace in the Middle of Loss

This will be brief because I really cannot say a lot right now.

Jeff and I lost our baby this morning. I woke up sick to my stomach and in a lot of pain with of course other symptoms that indicated what was happening. We went to the clinic, saw a nurse midwife there, had an uncomfortable ultrasound, and received devastating news from people who deal with this kind of thing every day. That was incredibly horrible. Difficult beyond words.

I called my mother and sobbed my eyes out with her on the phone. She recommended that I not spend the day alone, and so I called and spent the day with my friend Rachel and her children, including her 4 month old baby. Holding him was actually soooo soothing to me, I was grateful that she didn't turn me down for fear that seeing him would cause me pain. We went for a walk in the sunshine, and it felt good to have some "normal," moments in my day, interspersed with moments that I could cry. And Rachel made sure that I knew I could cry as much as I needed. Jeff had to work all day after that awful appointment, and I could not even imagine having to do so.

We are going to take time to grieve, rather than try again right away. We are surrounded by a loving church community. Every moment today I felt so grateful that Jeff and I did make the decision that we would share news of our pregnancy right away, because if it did end in miscarriage, it would allow our church to be the church in our lives, and be an instrument of grace that we cannot even comprehend (but we can feel.) I cannot imagine going through this right now if no one had known we were pregnant in the first place.

We are hurting, but we are aware of God's grace, mercy, and compassion in this very dark hour.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - This Time Its For Real

Last week was not a good week for sticking to the menu plan. Between not having certain ingredients for the Salsa Chicken soup (pregnancy brain?), home group being canceled, and just being really really tired, we barely did anything according to the plan. This week should be a lot different. I have everything I need for the week, and help from dh, too :) Also, I've geared it to still be healthful and good, but lower key. I definitely overestimated how much I can do when decent amounts of good sleep are still not enough.

Lunches this week will mostly be chicken salad, although tomorrow it will be leftover stroganoff that I made tonight. Monday night I'll be making Apple Butter, as well as putting the finishing touches on a custom order for Bee Beautiful (a friend's bridal party gifts). Soooooo excited about the Apple Butter, and about the custom order. Dinner Monday night, then, is the most low key of all. Tuesday Jeff is using the slow cooker (the most time-saving way to use your slow cooker is to let your husband do it, haha :-D )

Monday - Black Bean & Vegetable Soup (This one's actually not "homemade," but it is from Amy's Organics. I read the ingredients and was soooo pleased to find nothing even the slightest bit fake or junky in it, so I kept in on hand for a busy evening). We are adding chicken, as well.

Tuesday - Pork Roast in the slow cooker (dh's specialty)

Wednesday - Pizza! (With Lindsay's Pizza Crust recipe, my homemade full-fat mozzarella, and homemade sauce). Additional toppings to be determined later.

Thursday - Spinach, Bacon, & Feta muffins* at Book Club (once a month). My friend Cindy is making her incredible Wild Rice & Chicken Soup, and I'm providing the muffins! Jeff is having leftover "Low Country Boil" that he froze post-men's retreat (he and his group had a great time putting it together, and he got the leftovers).

Friday - Leftover Roast

Saturday - Baked Chicken with Apples and Barley**
To Do: AM - Soak Barley

Sunday - Chicken & Wild Rice Soup / Whole Grain Rolls

* Recipe Variances: For the muffins, I use freshly milled soft white wheat, and I soak the batter. Also, I use sucanat instead of sugar, and I use fresh spinach instead of frozen.
** Recipe Variance: I use hulled barley instead of pearl, because it is less processed.

This has been part of Menu Plan Monday. Find more great posts at org junkie!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Menu Plan Indecision

I have been doing this on Sunday nights to post on Monday, but yesterday had some funny turns. Dh and I were going to take a short nap and then head out to run some errands. The nap ran long, and the errands ran long, so by the time we got home (much later in the night than anticipated), all I wanted was sleep. Anyway...I'm posting it tonight. But first...

My husband is a genius. We made that Salsa Chicken and Black Bean Soup last week, and then the next night he didn't end up going to the church dinner, so there were leftovers waiting when he got home from work, and he had an epiphany: Blender. Boiling off a little more of the broth and pouring the soup in the blender yielded the most incredible chip dip. Pure Genius! I ended up with quite the catch, didn't I?? Well, this Tuesday we're doing it again. We're having our once-a-month app/dessert fest at home group, and I couldn't think of anything to bring. Suddenly the idea hit me: I need to bring that dip!! So we're having the salsa chicken and black bean soup again on Tuesday, in order to bring the dip to home group on Wednesday. Dh loved it so much that I'm not worried about the close repeat.

Monday - Breakfast for dinner (Hurray!) (Jeff had Chinese leftovers, so I didn't have to worry about overdoing bfast for dinner, which I believe you never ever can do)

Tuesday - Salsa Chicken and Black Bean Soup

Wednesday - Appetizer fest at home group :)

Thursday - Pizza ( Spelling Bee that my work place is participating in. I'm a word-nerd and I love spelling)

Friday - Chicken, Steamed Veggies, and Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Saturday - Chicken n Dumplings

Sunday - Spaghetti w/ Whole Grain noodles

This has been a part of Menu Plan Monday with Org Junkie. See more great menu plans here!