"But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Philipians 3:13b,14

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Make Your Own Febreze Fabric Freshener Spray!

So, as usual, we're still on the budget bandwagon. While there are some "extras" that I still spend money to buy, others have to go by the wayside. Coffee stays. As does coffee creamer. Wade's non-negotiable is Oreos (Which are gross and not even good. Homemade cookies are good. Oreos are just blah.)

Febreze is one of those things. I like to use it when I'm making the bed in the morning, and on the towels when I'm tidying the restroom. (And also, maybe, on my running clothes when they get smelly..hypothetically......)

A slight digression- sometimes sticking to your budget is more about contentment than it is about dollars and cents, you know? I mean, of course it is literally minding your dollars and cents, but I find I can do that more easily with the right attitude. I am often amazed by how much I HAVE, when I bother to look. Most of all, I have lots of resources. The ability to cook. A family who readily accepts circumstances, even if they are different than usual. Time (Not having to work outside of the home). And, usually, energy. If I focus on those things, and making the most of what I have at my disposal, I can usually do better than just "make do". I can thrive.

Ok, back to the Febreze- this is really simple. And cool, because you can make your favorite fabric softener the scent of the Febreze!

Homemade Febreze
Adapted From Fake It Frugal

1 1/2 Tbs. Baking Soda
1 1/2 Tbs. fabric softener 
Empty Febreze spray bottle

I just used a paper funnel and put the baking soda and Downy into the bottle, filled the rest up with warm water and gave it a shake!! I works WONDERFULLY!! It smells so nice, like a load of freshly-washed laundry!

So if your house smells like this:

But you want it to smell like this:

Use this stuff!!

(That may be a tiny, itty-bitty, slight exaggeration.) (But it does smell super fresh.)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Clementine Creamsicle Smoothie- AMAZINGLY DELICIOUS!

Something really fun and exciting happened this weekend- some friends and I organized and ran a 50k race! Several of my running buddies are training to run the American River 50 mile race, and as part of the training, needed to run a 50k. We all finished, cheered each other on, and just had a great time!!

The day after an endurance event, I am monumentally hungry. I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night after a long race or training session with my stomach growling. I usually give myself free license to eat junk, but I just didn't want to do that this time. So I knew I would have to eat several meals throughout the day. This smoothie is full of great ingredients, delicious, and seriously satisfying!! It was a perfect recovery smoothie!

Recipe from OhSheGlows
Here's what you need:
  • 1 banana, peeled, sliced, and frozen
  • 1/2 avocado, peeled, cut into chunks and frozen
  • 3 clementine tangerines, (the recipe called for them to be frozen, but I didn't freeze them and it turned out fine, so it's up to you)
  • 1 can of unsweetened coconut milk (not lite), chilled. From this, you'll need 2 Tb of the "cream" off the top, and 1/2 cup of the "water" from the bottom. It separates when you chill the can.
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tb unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1 date, chopped, optional
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice

I always have bananas frozen, so I just placed half an avocado in a baggie and froze it the same way. Now I have a few bags of each in the freezer in case I'd like to make another of these smoothies!

See? The coconut milk separates and makes a yummy cream layer, and then a coconut water layer beneath!

This was one of the best and most satisfying smoothies I've ever had! I highly recommend it!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I'm Not Ok

......but you're not either, so it's alright.

Let's be honest, really honest. Are you ok all the time? I mean, I know our inclination (Especially as women) would be to answer that with a quick, "Yep! I am doing GREAT, how are YOU doing?" But that's not always the real answer. 

The real answer is sometimes, "I feel lonely", or "I screamed at my kids for no reason and feel like the worst mother ever", or "I hate how my body looks", or "I am ashamed that I treated my husband like crap", or "I am freaking out because I keep spending too much money"...or....or....<insert your current malady of choice here>

I am not advocating the constant utterance of a babbling confession at the drop of a hat. Nor do I believe that we should tell everyone everything without a filter. That's not helpful, and not necessary.

What I AM suggesting is a little dose of humility mixed with a touch of decency, a tad bit of introspection, and a huge spoonful of honesty. We need that combination more in our interactions with one another. We DO.

Like when you see a friend, and they ask how your marriage is going, how your husband's job is faring, how your kids are doing, you don't have to vomit every single issue into your friend's face, but be honest. If you're having a hard time with something, just a simple acknowledgement of that goes a long way. If you're faltering in a specific area, it is OK to say, "I am really struggling to be kind." "It's hard not to be resentful when my husband works so much." "It upsets me when my kids do 'X' and I'm not always sure how to handle it."

Maybe people will be shocked. Maybe they will have expected the pat "I'm fine" answer. Maybe they will tell their husband what you said. Maybe you will be embarrassed that you shared.

.....or maybe, they'll be relieved that you're not only NOT perfect, but you're not pretending to be. Because then THEY won't have to pretend either.

One of my favorite C.S Lewis quotes is this one, "Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, "What?! You too? I thought I was the only one!" "

Sometimes just not feeling alone is very powerful. Often, it is just the catalyst we need to change because we are not happy or satisfied with the way things are, with the way WE are. Somehow, it is easier to see and admit those "things that need changing" when we are in a community of other people who are muddling through their junk as well. Feeling alone in sin is like being in one of those horrible nightmares where you're naked in front of a group of people. Nobody wants to be in that position. AND NOBODY IS ALONE IN SIN. I don't care how perfect people seem, everyone has flaws, shortcomings, struggles, failures. EVERYONE. 

Somewhere along the line, I don't know where exactly, I have gotten this notion that I am supposed to try and be perfect all the time, and never mess up. Which is terrible, because (And if you know me in real life, you KNOW this already) I am about as far from perfect as a girl can be. I talk too much. I say the wrong things. I argue. I get mad. I yell at my kids. I neglect and ignore things that I am afraid of. I am lazy a lot. I get critical.(I could give you a mile-long list, but I want you to like me at least a little)

Guess what? Who cares. God knew all of those things about me when He picked me to be His kid. And He knows that I don't WANT to mire myself in those things. I don't wallow in laziness, or anger, or being loud and saying the wrong thing. I desire to be perfect and always do the right thing. It's just that I fall short (Way, WAY short) in the application of that desire. God sees this and comes alongside me and makes up for my shortcomings. He shows me how to change and encourages me (Sometimes directly and sometimes through people in my life) that I am on the right path. That doesn't mean I do the right thing all the time, far from it! What it means is that I hold fast to my longing to do the right thing. I keep taking a deep breath, and doing the NEXT right thing. I keep trying.

What I am saying is that we need each other to stop pretending we've "arrived" at the "perfection bus stop", and admit that we are still on the journey.  There is enough pressure in the world to be perfect from advertisements and television shows and know-it-all types. As friends, and especially as Christians, let's not put pressure and unrealistic expectations on one another by acting like we have it all together and we're perfect. It's ok NOT to be ok. Sure, it will freak you out a little at first. Then other people will know that you have flaws. Won't it be a relief though? You don't have to keep up the ruse. You can let people love you. And, to be totally frank, you'll be able to love other people more. I don't know exactly why it is, but when you're real, you love better. There is less garbage and  fewer walls to break through, I think. 

Genuine is good. Really good.

Take the chance. If you really ARE ok, then good! If you are NOT ok, then you're not alone, and you will be ok, eventually. Just keep doing the next right thing.

Press on, friends.

Monday, February 20, 2012

DIY Frozen French Toast- Budget Friendly, Quick Breakfast!

I have been looking for even more ways to cut back in our budget. The main area that always occurs to me is  our grocery budget. There are certain things that are last-resort areas to cut, such as coffee (I mean come on, it's coffee.......), high-quality produce, and the ingredients to make all the energy bars we eat daily. 

One huge expense is cereal. I like breakfast to be quick and easy, and fairly filling, since I live in a household filled with males. All of the boys LOVE French toast, but since it can cost up to $4 for a package of 6 pieces,  it isn't a budget friendly option. 

Making it yourself, however, is! I made 48 pieces of French toast for about $7. 

I used a double pack of sandwich bread from Costco- I used white, but you could use whole wheat to make the French toast healthier!

I fill a large-ish mixing bowl about halfway with milk. I would estimate I used maybe 6 cups. This is more of a concept than an exact recipe. :) I used cow's milk, but you could use soy or almond milk if that suits your dietary needs.

Add 4-5 eggs and beat well. You can also use egg beaters if you'd like. 

I have this awesome hand mixer from my grandma. I love using it.

Then add about 1/2 cup granulated sugar (You could sub honey if you don't like to use sugar), and a few teaspoons of vanilla extract. Mix well.

Then add 3 very large pinches of salt. See the camera cord hanging in the photo? That's what happens when you try and take one-handed photos. Nice.

Spray a griddle with Pam. I have an electric griddle that holds 8 slices of bread, but before I had this one, I used 2 skillets and cooked 6 pieces at a time. If you're using an electric griddle, I heat mine to 350 degrees.

Also, I like a lot of cinnamon on the French toast, so I sprinkle a light layer over the top of the milk mixture every 4 slices of bread so that each piece gets some cinnamon. 

Dip both sides of each slice of bread into the milk mixture, and place on the heated griddle or skillet. Cook for a few minutes on each side. It should look a little crusty and golden on each side:

I don't like mine soggy in the middle, so I make sure it's cooked through. 

I set the cooked French toast on plates to cool before bagging it up for the freezer! 

I put them in sandwich sized Ziploc bags, two to a bag. I leave the bags open if they're not totally cool.

Then I seal them up and take all the air out.

They reheat in the microwave in about 1-1.5 minutes. You can also heat the slices in the toaster if you prefer.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

No- Bake Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites

Yeah, except don't make these. Because even though they are raw, and vegan, you will still think they are super good and eat a bunch. 

A whole bunch.

...I did.

I have been trying to make yummy snacks that are healthier than, you know, Coke and Red Vines. (Someone should really make a healthy, raw, vegan version of Coke and Red Vines. I would buy so much of that stuff.)

Christopher, Nicholas and I loved these! I'm not sure if Wade liked them, because we didn't save any for him. 

Here's what you need:

The recipe is in this link- I doubled the recipe

Put the ingredients into the food processor and blend away!!


I rolled these into small dough balls and smooshed them once with the tines of a fork. I used wax paper so they didn't stick. The actual finished cookie dough bite was between a nickle and quarter in size.

These are SUPER great for the late afternoon when you want some junk food before dinner!! One or two really helps curb the sweet tooth cravings!!

I stored these (For all of a day and a half) in a Ziploc container with wax paper in between the layers.

So- if you have a favorite go-to healthy snack, what is it??

Friday, February 10, 2012

Make Your Own French Toast Bagels!

I love Panera.

I especially love the Cinnamon Crunch and French Toast bagels. Mmmmm.....

Sometimes, when I'm eating at Panera after a long run, I get partway through my bagel and start a rousing debate with myself over whether I am going to buy another bagel after I've finished the first.

I like food.

The only thing about Panera's bagels that I don't like is the price. They are expensive. So I decided to try and make some at home! I couldn't find a recipe for the Cinnamon Crunch version, but I found one for the French Toast flavor here. I halved the recipe and made 8 bagels.

I am going to give you the full recipe, which is supposed to make 15 bagels. Cut the recipe in half if you'd like- that is what I did. Oh, and I made these a second time and did 6 instead of 8 bagels, and liked the size better that way. But you choose. I apologize in advance for the horrid lighting in the photos, I baked these in the evening and the light wasn't great.

Here's what you need:
**updated 3/20/12

  • 2 1/4 cups warm water, plus more as needed
  • 1 pkg active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup sugar, divided ** I changed this to 1/4 cup + 2 Tb and used 1/4 cup in the dough
  • 6 - 7 cups bread flour (I only had regular, so that's what I used)
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil, plus more for greasing
  • 2 Tbsp vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp maple extract
  • (There's an egg in the photo because the original recipe called for an egg yolk wash before baking. But somehow that didn't sound good to me, so I omitted it.)

This stuff rocks!! I have made several recipe with maple extract- I LOVE the flavor of maple!

In the bowl of your kitchen aid, mix the warm water, 2 Tb of the sugar, and the yeast. Let the yeast foam up, like shown above. 

Add the extracts and oil to the liquid, then add the rest of the ingredients (except the reserved 2 Tb sugar). Start with the 6 cups flour, and add more if needed. Knead with the dough hook, or by hand, for 10 minutes or so.

The dough should clean the sides of the bowl, but still be moist and soft. 

After the dough is done kneading, place it into a greased bowl, turning to coat both sides with the oil. The dough smells AMAZING!! Let the dough rise for about an hour, or until almost doubled in size.

In the meantime, like a few baking sheets with parchment paper, or this non-stick foil (LOVE this stuff)- or if you don't have either of those, like the pans with regular foil and spray the heck out of them with Pam.

Divide the dough- if you've made the recipe I've given, you'll divide it into 15 pieces. ** I like the size better if I make 12 instead of 15. Shape each piece into a bagel shape:

Then place on the lined baking sheets. Cover with saran wrap, and let rise again for about 30-40 minutes.

When the second rise is almost complete, preheat the oven to 500, and put a large, deep skillet or a pot on the stove with about 4 inches of water added. Add the remaining 2 Tb sugar, and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling rapidly, you're going to add the bagels, 2 or 3 at a time (Don't crowd them- bagels like their space!) (One time I went to this marathon expo, and it was SO crowded and everyone was shoving- it was terrible!! Don't do that to the poor bagels!)

Boil the bagels for one minute, then flip (I used the handle of a wooden spoon) then boil another minute. Then remove with the handle of the spoon and place back on the lined pan.

See?? No crowding.

As you can see, I did NOT make perfect bagels. In my defense, I was also cooking dinner, and fielding questions from my son about how gas masks are made. (Who knows how they're made??! I mean, honestly!) I can't do everything all at once....... So the bagel shaping suffered. But it was fine, they still tasted delish!!

Bake at 500 for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Your house will smell so wonderful. 

A word about topping these bagels- they aren't overly sweet bagels. So when I used plain cream cheese, I thought they needed a touch more sweetness. So I mixed a few tablespoons of maple syrup with a package of cream cheese. Perfect. Alternately, butter and a light sprinkle of brown sugar was also quite delightful. 

After cooling on a wire rack, store in a Ziploc bag.