"Raising Souls"

"Raising Souls"

Monday, October 27, 2014

Fall Pictures Part 2: Baby Pumpkins

I LOVE this tradition that our baby's first year at Emma Krumbee's wears the cute pumpkin sweatshirts. Then I can compare pictures over the years. 
I think Becket and Gianna look the most alike in these pictures.

 Augustine 2010

 Gianna 2012

Becket 2014

2014 Fall Pictures Part 1: Emma Krumbees

 I just had to get caught up on posting Fall pictures! 
I think 2014 has been one of the BEST Autumns ever! 
We did lots of fun stuff and the weather has been pretty incredible!
 We were going day by day through Tech Week (s) saying ... I can't wait for our Emma Krumbee trip... it's almost here. It's like a holiday for us!
 The cold and rain in St Paul... ALMOST got us down... 
but we went, in the pouring rain, and had zero rain at Emma's. 
 Feeding the goats is always a hit!
 For sale but they are priceless!
 My snuggle buddy! Each child wears the pumpkin sweatshirt on their first year visit... comparison pictures to come!
 We don't buy the pumpkins but the hay ride to them is so fun ... and I love the photo ops.
 I love my tired sweeties! We spent the day there so the kids were pretty tired by the end.

What a hottie!

Can't wait for next year!

Survival Mode - Food for now.

Ok, so... Its one of those weeks where I want to throw in a frozen pizza for every meal. My dear husband is completing the writing of our Theater's Christmas show and is basically "out of town" in so many words. The show is going to be AWESOME but it requires some sacrifices on our end. Don't all good things? Not seeing much of Daddy in the house is purely exhausting.

Even though he is gone... I am resisting the temptation to eh hem ... eat garbage for a week.

In fact I even threw bone broth in the crock pot tonight as I fed my kids peas, carrots, apples and PBJs. We will do better tomorrow. On a side note school went great today! I guess there is a trade off?

Here's a past peak on last weeks meals:

My experiment last week was trying Kerry Gold butter to see if that should be our next real food switch. It's made in Ireland from grass-fed cows and is supposed to be better for you. We switched from margarine (my ex-favorite) to real butter at least a year ago and I haven't looked back. Seems like a pretty straight forward real food switch. I stocked up on like 20lbs of organic butter for $1,99 per pound a while ago and I'm on my last pound. Getting close to the Holidays I'm hoping Aldi starts carrying butter closer to the $1.60 (?) I think that it was last year. Until then we will just stick with conventional butter.

This week I'm going to try to make a switch to organic eggs. It's so hard for me to pass up eggs for 0.99 a dozen but from what I've read it's probably the next most logical step. More on that....

1- Organic Spinach/Beet/Walnut Salad with homemade super healthy poppy seed dressing, Grilled Cheese, and Broccoli

2- Some kind of pasta

3- Organic Kale and Salisbury Steak with Organic Rice in bone broth

4- Grilled Tuna Sandwiches, Chips, Carrots and Apples (I didn't make this last week.)

5-Cheeseburger Soup w/Bone Broth and Buttered Toast/Crackers

6- Sausage/ Peppers/ Organic Potatoes in Crock Pot

7-  Whole Wheat Tacos with Guacamole

Shopping List this week:

I actually don't need the corn or any of the other items on my Aldi list just thought I should stock up on sale items. I might just skip Aldi and buy booze and chocolate at TJs....I'm going to need it this week!

**I just went to Trader Joe's and the prices were slightly different than my estimate... those Org eggs - yikes - expensive! I got organic celery instead of corn and -- Beer. No, not booze, beer of the root variety. I'm having a root beer float as I type! Total was slightly over $19.**

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

If Deals were Drugs... I'd be high.

Is that title kind of racy? Am I going to get tagged by government spies for mentioning drugs? (That alone tells you what a naive goody two shoes I am!)  Only to disappoint the snoops with info on sausages and free juicy juice boxes??! Although if they saw my behavior last night they may question my sanity. More on that...

Ok, so I'M not one of those crazy "extreme couponers." While I love the show (if I had cable) I think the excess of it all is pretty crazy! I could only justify that excess if I was giving it away to the poor. Now that sounds appealing! With that disclaimer in mind I DO get a rush high when I get a good deal! It's pretty fun!

Tell me if this sounds weird. I drive up to a dark street at 7:30pm pull over in front of a house I've never been to before... get out and grab a white bag from the front porch and rush back to my car and speed away.

Totally normal, right?!

I swear the bag was only filled with unopened boxes of juicy juice and that they came from a safe reliable source... Even if I didn't really know the people well... Or... At all... All in the name of free juicy juice boxes! Hey, I tested them first before giving them to my kids. :-)

Then today I took a wonderful trip with my kids to target to get these for $.64 each pack! Yes, I'll take a high five!

Beyond that it was just an amazing day with my kids in the sunshine at the park. They give me the biggest high of all. Sometimes I crash pretty hard too but my kids really do fill me with an insane amount of joy!

I mean look at this sunshine (and by sunshine I do mean this face!!)

Receive the blessing from little Saint Becket

While all my kids were scrumptiously adorable today Becket got all the cute pictures. He does this little tongue waggle thing and I just want to eat him he is so cute. He is not the typical crawling baby on the go. He really loves to sit with me and hug me. His crawling comes in handy since I am on the move and he needs to follow me everywhere! I so treasure these days since I know they are fleeting.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Healthy Eating at $65.00 - Meal plan and shopping

Some people have wondered how I feed my family of five on $65... Sometimes I wonder too! We are BIG eaters in this house and did I mention we love food?

I mentioned several of my tips already but here is an example meal plan for this week.

I think one thing that stands out is only buying perishables that I can use and will not waste. If I do stock up on something and can't use it. I find a way to freeze it.

Also I do stock up on stuff when it hits rock bottom prices...

For example last week I stocked up on bell peppers (not organic) 5 for $0.99! I bought 7 bags of 5... I couldn't resist. I made a huge pot of beans and started freezing beans and chopped peppers and onions for Chili and soup. As you will see from the following menu I will be making use of those YUMMY peppers. My kids and I love bell peppers (especially the red ones!)

Menu 10/19-10/25  * I actually won't make these meals in this order, I'm to spontaneous for such things.

Sunday (today) : Baked French Toast and Chili with (greek yogurt) sour cream, cheese, and organic corn chips

Monday: Organic Potato/Zuchini Latkes w/Homemade Organic Greek Yogurt, Pork Tenderloin and Broccoli

Tuesday: Crock Pot Stuffed Bell Peppers

Wednesday: Fajitas with Whole Wheat Tortilla Shells (I got these on clearance at Target last week)

Thursday: Frozen Pizza and Spinach Salad 

Friday: Tuna Sandwiches, Chips, Carrots and Apples

Saturday: Saute Pasta 

*Desserts*: Apple Crisp and Ice Cream, OJ/Whey/Spinach Julius, Frozen Blueberries

*Breakfast*: Homemade Organic Yogurt, Cereal, Butter Toast, Eggs, PBJs and Homemade Canned Apple Sauce

*Lunches*: Leftovers, PBJs, Veggies and Fruit

*Snacks*: Carrots, Apples and Peanut Butter, Frozen Peas, Cereal, Butter Toast, Peppers and Bananas

I actually made the most of the amazing gorgeous fall day and walked a mile to our local Trader Joes. I love that store! People are SO friendly and happy there. I got so many smiles from people ooing over Becket. He happily smiled back. Maybe people are so happy because they were sampling pumpkin cheesecake and spiced cider... oh, wow, YUMM! Did I mention that I love that store and that organic avacados were only $0,99? Booya!  (As a side note, I normally buy their organic chicken but the breast is SO expensive and I thought I'd try the antibiotic free stuff. I normally don't buy the breast but I've been craving that fried white meat and its been almost three months so that was my splurge this week. It still was pretty pricey.)

Last Week I was in WI with my family and got loads of free apples, bread, eggs, cereal, peanut butter and milk. I also bought Broccoli on sale for 69cents a bag at the local grocery store and local raw honey for super cheap from my parents neighbor. I also stocked up 2 weeks ago with buy one get one free (aprox $0.65 each) 100% whole wheat bread from Aldi  as well as frozen peas (it's all happy in my freezer). I'm also stocked from a recent trip to Costco (3 or so weeks ago) on Organic Brown Rice, Organic Quinoa, Real Maple Syrup and Organic Strawberry Jelly.

Wednesday I will make my Aldi trip. I have a shopping list but I will probably add more items to stock up on stuff.

This is my temporary list: $17

Frozen Pizza x2 (I take the pepperoni off of it and dice it up in my saute pasta later in the week) $4
Frozen OJ $1.50
Bananas $2
Tuna $2.50
Saltines x3 $3.00 (I buy these for my husband who really needs them for soup, while I think they are yummy... they have practically no nutritional value. Oh well.)
Marinated Pork Tenderloin (It looks to be on sale and will be a fun meat treat!) $4

Trader Joes:$21
Aldi:            $17 (aprox)
Total:           $38.00

...Some weeks I spend a little more and some less but I budget by the month so it all evens out each month. However, I'm now regretting my total self control in Trader Joes. Perhaps I'll have to go back. ;-)

I will update my Aldi list when I go Wednesday I always find something extra I need (or want).

Until then happy savings!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Healthy Eating at $65: Bone Broth

Family cowboy stew recipe a CHEAP EASY HEALTHY favorite, featuring bone broth!

First of all thanks for all your positive feedback on this series! I had so many questions about bone broth I figured I better just start with that:

When I first made my own chicken noodle soup from "scratch" as an adult it was loaded with msg bouillon cubes and antibiotic pumped chicken breasts the size of my head cut into cubes and homemade noodles (from scratch) YUMM it was SO GOOD! MSG just tastes delicious! I totally remember remarking to my husband, who was just realizing I could cook (maybe even better than he could), "This is WAY better than my mom's chicken noodle soup!"

Flash forward 5 years. 

The truth is, Moms really DO know best. My mom made it the old fashioned BONE BROTH way. And the health benefits are INCREDIBLE! My favorite blog Holistic Squid notes the benefits of bone broth, "...homemade broth is loaded with nutrients that its packaged cousins do not – minerals, gelatin, and glycosaminoglycans (which include substances like chondroitin and glucosamine, keratin and hyaluronic acid and more.) These nutrients known to benefit teeth, bones, hair, nails, and joints." Sounds impressive, right? Not only does it save me money but it also does add a lot of flavor AND I have adjusted my mom's recipe to be the way I prefer it! No MSG needed... although man, that stuff is tasty and addicting, but oh so bad for you!

  1. Start off with Organic Chicken (I have not used beef, yet). I buy mine whole at Trader Joes or I buy a $3.90 pack of Organic Chicken Drumsticks. My parents also have given me some of their free range chickens and chicken bones. Organic chicken is SO expensive so I make the absolute most out of it!
  2. Throw the whole pack of meat (without the obvious packaging and less obvious nasty sack of "grossness" found in the chicken's cavity) in a large crock pot. Along with organic celery just the leafy tops you don't usually eat (because it's on the dirty dozen and is pretty inexpensive to buy), conventional carrots (maybe one chopped), onions (a handful of chunks), onion powder, garlic powder, and  black pepper. I want it to be as flavorful as possible! (I wait to add sea salt so I can use some of the broth for my baby sodium free.)
  3. Top with water and cook 6 or so hours on high until meat is done. I think cooking your bone broth WITH the meat adds significantly more flavor so I only do it this way. Plus you are killing two birds with one stone - cooked tender chicken AND bone broth!
  4. Take meat off the bone and put everything (yes, even the fat and cartilage) back into the pot and top with water and one Tbls of Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (with "the mother" I buy Trader Joe's brand).
  5. If I have cooked a whole chicken I chop the meat into two (sometimes three) portions and use or freeze for later. I try to get 2 meals out of the batch. More on that method later. 
  6. Turn crock pot on high for 20ish more hours. And forget about it. I do it overnight - works great and smells awesome! It's done when the bones break easily. I don't really think you can overcook it.
  7. I wake up in the morning, turn off the crock pot, take the lid off. Feed little people breakfast etc while it cools. Then when I have a spare minute I strain. If you want to puree the veggies you can for baby food but I think they don't have much flavor at this point. I pour into Mason Jars and store in the fridge (short term) or freeze in the freezer. We usually go through it pretty fast.
  8. And WALA! You are done! On the day I work at making bone broth I almost always make soup so my supper is prepared in the meantime. 
What else can you make with bone broth? 

RICE: I cook all my rice in it in my rice maker. I love my rice maker. Think crock pot for rice and you have an easier rice than instant rice! Actually "rice packets" were one of the main things I used to purchase when my husband and I were married. Bone broth organic brown rice is WAY cheaper and WAY healthier!! Just PLEASE do yourself a happy food favor and add SALT (and other spices) and coconut oil or butter for even yummier rice.

QUINOA: I cook my rice in a coconut milk (from the can) and bone broth combo whatever the recipe. It adds so much richness and health benefits.

Obvious -- SOUP: Anywhere broth or bouillon is needed.

Less obvious, unhealthy, cheap food hack -- RAMEN NOODLES: Yes, I said it. This is where I'm keeping it real. My husband and I LOVE Ramen. Since I never buy it - that solves that problem. Take that MSG! However, when we have 6' 2" 17 yr old Aidan stay with us I'm pretty desperate for cheap and quick lunches to stay on budget. If he eats it the kids will want it too. So I make their noodles cooked in bone broth with sea salt and frozen peas. They don't complain. It's health-ier. I will leave it at that. :-)

I just made some Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup yesterday with my bone broth and my kids and husband devoured it. Mmmmm! I'll share the recipe sometime at a later date! 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Healthy Eating at $65 a week!

I thought it might be fun to write a bit about our family transition to healthy and organic eating. First of all my goal is to maintain our budget while making ways and taking baby steps towards eating organic.

I often hear eating healthy costs more. It actually doesn't have to cost more, it just depends on what you choose to eat. Eating ORGANIC DOES cost more, almost double... so how have we  been able to maintain our budget and make slow switches to organic eating?  This series on "healthy eating" will highlight some of the ways I save money and feed my family wholesome food.

Feeding my babies always really strikes me. I am responsible for what goes into their mouths. What fuels their bodies. I exercise self control for them and get them enjoying and choosing healthy foods. While I want them to be eating healthy I also like to think I take a very balanced approach. My kids get a sucker almost every day when they visit the magic fairy at the post office with Daddy. (More on that at another time!) My kids get treats and rewards. Right now they get a squirt of whipped cream in their mouth for using the potty. (Gianna shares her reward!) And I also have no problem with occasional fast food and we still love pizza and other junk food. Food brings people together. It evokes joy, warmth and sharing. To put it bluntly food makes us pretty happy here at our house! I've left the "fat free" "sugar free" world FAR behind and focus on full fats (coconut oil, butter and olive oil) and healthy sugar (raw honey and real maple syrup).

I try to spend more money on food where it really counts in terms of health benefits (Organic Whole Milk, Organic Quinoa, Organic Grassfed Beef and Organic Chicken) and focus on cheaper WHOLE foods like beans, brown rice, carrots, cabbage, and 100% Whole Wheat Bread. More on that for a later post.

Making things from scratch and AS EASILY as possible is also key for my success. So if I can save money making something organic from scratch vs. buying the item conventional and convenient I try making it from scratch! For example conventional black beans from a can vs. organic black beans soaked and boiled on the stove.

My take on Organic. I used to think people who ate organic were total snobs. I also had an all or nothing approach to it. Truth is, sometimes all organic eaters are snobs. Sorry, its true! I will just vow to NOT be a snob, ever. So however you choose to eat - I RESPECT your choice. This is not about a competition. It wasn't until I was feeding little bodies - LARGE amounts of food. Augustine could eat as much as me when he was 2!! I finally realized... if I cut out conventional apples my baby's small body will have that much less chemicals and pesticides in their system. Hmmm, appealing. Very appealing. With health problems cropping up all over I really felt that eating more holistically was what our family was being called to.

Besides, I love food and I like a good challenge!

Thanks for joining me as I share our journey through healthy eating for 5 at $65 per week!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Quick Takes: Life at the speed of light

The days last forever and yet they go so fast...

I'll admit today was a day I wish I could have cherished and yet I just survived. But my kids are alive and so am I! :-)

Here are some quick takes from my week:


Augustine in the orange shirt

  • He made it to his second class for Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and I think we might just make it through the who year! 
  • We are 5 weeks into school and he can count to 10 by 2s, sound out three letter words, and recognize over half the alphabet. 
  • His favorite letter is "T"
  • He can now spell write (from memory) his own name, AUGUSTI (still working on the NE, he says "N" is too hard)
  • I absolutely love his big brother sing songy voice he gives Gianna... My favorite quote lately is, "Gianna, Mommy gave me the good news! You get to sleep in my bed!" (Gianna let's out a screetching "NNNNAAAAAOOOOO!") Augustine replies in a sweet sing songy voice, "Well to bad, you get to."

  • I wish I had more time to cuddle you Augustine. But I know you adore your siblings and Gianna is most certainly your best friend.

  • She holds a pencil perfectly and is just the sweetest thing. That being said she is going through a bit of a screaming rough patch and my ear drums are ringing from it.
  • You and Becket go shopping with me while Augustine is at Good Shepherd and you are such a sweet helper! "I put it in gently Mamma?" "What can I help with next? I be gentle." I love this time with you!
  • Potty training is a major up and down journey with her. Yesterday in church she started pulling off her pants and diaper because she had to go "pee really bad!!"... off she scuttled while I attempted to chase after her WHILE nursing. Did I mention this was in church? By myself?
  • Gianna, You really are so perfectly sweet and adorable. So feminine. And yet you are strong, so strong. I love you smiley girl. You drive me crazy!

  • Speaking of rough patches. Oh, my dear Becket is going through the worst teething rough patch. He is cutting his top two teeth at 8months. Bottom two came in at 6months. I know this is awful to say, but with his army crawl and sobbing screams searching for me the second I am not near him in sight, he looks like he should be in some haunted house. I come out of the bath room and he is pulling himself by the arms three rooms down crying and pursuing/searching. It is SO pathetic and heart breaking. I am so exhausted at the end of each day. 

  • You cry almost constantly and yet... I absolutely ADORE you! I just wish I didn't have to clean and cook and I could just hold you. You are SO sweet! I just look at you and I want more babies because you are so wonderful and precious!
  • You are eating bone broth with baby cereal, pumpkin, carrots, peas, green beans, broccoli, and apple sauce (all pureed). But you still prefer nursing and will not take a bottle. I love that you prefer me! You are my first baby to nurse (exclusively) this long!
  • Your eczema is still a problem and I am keeping your food intake dairy and gluten free.