Tammy's blog

New poll, new recipes, new haircut... oh wait, no new haircut! lol ;)

I posted a new poll that had been on my mind: What is your preferred drinking water? I always find poll results to be so fascinating! If you've missed any of our previous polls (we've had quite a few by now!) they can all be found here.

I also just added a new recipe for Frijoles De Olla ("Beans in a Pot"). These are kind of like refried beans, but not all mashed. They are sooooo good! I like to put sour cream and feta cheese on mine. Yum! I've really been enjoying experimenting with dried beans, especially because they are so cheap! I also wasn't raised on beans, so it's new and exciting to me!

A few days ago, I made some homemade baked beans. I didn't follow the recipe though... first, I cooked some navy beans and some pinto beans. Then I used those in the recipe instead of the canned kidney and butter beans. Butter beans are at least $0.49 per can, and kidney beans are at least $0.33 (I think, anyway), so using canned beans can really add up... when you want to make a huge batch and use lots of beans. ;)

Anyway, the baked beans were really really good with the navy and pinto beans! Yum! They're almost all gone... Joshua took the last of them in his lunch today.

Well, I'm thinking about heading to bed. Next week (hopefully!) I plan to start posting a menu each Monday. Does that interest anyone, or are menus just boring? I think my menu page needs something more to it... and posting weekly just might work!

Luscombe's visit

Lunas and Luscombes

Leif and Tanya, along with their four children, live in Canada. They stopped at our home during a recent trip to the U.S. We had such a great time with them! I have known Tanya for a year or so, but we had never met in person or talked on the phone. It was pleasant to discover that our families' beliefs and lifestyles were quite similar (moreso than we expected!). Their children were well-behaved, and they were very polite guests. Tanya is a sweet lady, and I could readily see Yeshua shining through her speech and actions. We didn't want them to leave! ;) Here is a partial group photo (I am missing) we took before they left our place. Joshua is holding Eliyahu, and Tanya is holding Benjamin. The children (left to right) are Sarah, Rebecca, Nathaniel, and Yehoshua (holding Rebecca's hand). Leif is standing beside Tanya.

Tammy (with Eliyahu) and Tanya (with Benjamin)

Here are Tanya and I holding our babies. I had to stand on my tiptoes for this photo so I wouldn't look like a midget. ;) Leif, Tanya, and their children are all quite tall compared to us! :D

Nathaniel and Yehoshua

Nathaniel (3.5) and Yehoshua played together some. However, I think most of the time, Yehoshua was running around in circles, trying to play with everyone all at once! :D

Benjamin and Yehoshua

Poor baby Benjamin didn't feel well during their second day at our house. Nothing would console him, but here is Yehoshua lying down beside him and patting his back in an effort to help him feel better. :D

Eliyahu and Benjamin

Eliyahu (8 months) and Benjamin (almost 12 months) played ate together, too. ;)

A living room full of children! :D

This was the perpetual state of our living room! But we wouldn't have had it any other way! Nathaniel had set up a "store" in one corner, and Yehoshua used a small wagon to cart building blocks across the room to where the girls were building towers... what fun!!

We all had a grand time. The Luscombes arrived on a Tuesday evening, and I proceeded to serve them homemade tostadas, which didn't taste quite how I'd planned. ;) We stayed up until about 11 pm talking, and then went to bed. (The children went to bed earlier though!)

The next morning, we got up about 8 and had some Italian Scrambled Eggs (with toast). I love Italian Scrambled Eggs, but haven't taken a photo yet... eventually I will and then you'll get the recipe ;).

We spent the morning chatting together, and then had a lunch of stuffed shells, garlic bread, and some peas. In the afternoon, we took naps and then went for a walk down to a park to play. The children enjoyed that, especially! :D

We walked back home and had some of Tammy's Easy Pizza for dinner. After the children went to bed, Leif, Tanya, and I stayed up for a bit listening to some of my favorite music CDs on their laptop. It was a treat for me, since my CD player is broken, to get to listen to some of my music, and also a joy to get to share some of my favorite CDs with others who have similar tastes in music.

Here are links to some of my favorites (you can listen to sound clips at these websites!)

Night Heron Consort


Appalachian Journey

Lewis and Clark Soundtrack

The Fiddle Concerto

I love music! Anyway, we went to sleep and then the next morning, we had scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, and bagels for breakfast. And then, after talking for a while longer, they had to leave! Our house seemed so quiet and empty! We hope they come back soon. :)

Frugal Fridays: Mop re-fills

This week's Frugal Fridays tip is about making your own "free" mop re-fills in place of the costly disposable ones you can purchase.

When Joshua and I got married, one of our wedding gifts was a Chlorox Ready Mop set. That was something I never would have purchased for myself (especially since the kit cost about $25 back then; now Wal-mart has them for about $15). However, I figured I'd give it a try, and I'm so glad I did! It's such a handy tool and I use it constantly. The one that was given to us was used at least once a week for about 4 years before it finally wore out. (Yes, they're made of plastic. :P)

Well, I enjoyed using my new-fangled mop but it only came with 8 cleaning pads and one bottle of cleaning solution. To purchase re-fills of that stuff just wasn't an option... I wasn't going to pay 50 cents (or more!) every time I wanted to mop my floor!

I tried using a regular-sized washcloth in place of the cleaning pad, and it worked wonderfully! I use an all-cotton wash cloth, and I dampen it with tap water before putting it on the mop (so it doesn't need to soak up so much cleaner right at first). After I'm done mopping, I rinse out the cloth, hang it somewhere to dry, and launder it with my whites/dishrags/etc. And if I want to get a clean cloth halfway through mopping... I can! Because they're "free"!

The owners manual said (of course) that one MUST use their cleaning solution, but I decided it was well-worth a try at making my own. So, I took some floor cleaner* and water and re-filled the bottle of cleaner. It worked just as well as their "special" cleaner, and is so much cheaper. I used my own cleaning solution in my mop for over 4 years, and then the handle of the mop broke (i.e. the cleaner I was using in it didn't ruin it)! :)

So, that's my frugal tip! Be sure to visit Biblical Womanhood for more great frugal tips!

*You might laugh, but before we got married, I was given about a gallon of "Professional floor cleaner" which was supposed to be diluted 128:1. I have used from that same bottle and it's still over half-full.

Blueberries + Cheesecake = Yum!

Blueberry Cheesecake Bars recipe Here's a dessert that Joshua made this summer: Blueberry Cheesecake Bars! Joshua loves cheesecake; in fact, it's been months since I've made a cheesecake, because Joshua loves making them. He's our "cheesecake expert", and he sure knows how to make some great cheesecakes! Joshua has done a lot of research about different kinds and methods of cheesecake and really knows what he's doing. :)

Grocery Savings How-To! (From Crystal)

My friend Crystal is posting in her blog about how she manages to save 50% to 75% on her groceries by using cupons, sales, and rebates! I'm so impressed! She already has Secrets to supermarket savings -- Parts One and Two posted on her blog!

I usually get things on sale, and I occasionally get some free-with-rebate items (yay!), but saving big-time with coupons isn't something I've done very often. I'm so glad Crystal is sharing her experience in this with people like me!! :D

New poll: Do you taste-test your cooking?

After writing my recent Cooking Tips article, wherein I talked about sampling foods before serving them, I had the idea for the latest poll question: Do you sample foods when you're cooking? You get 5 choices, and no one can see what you voted, so you can be completely honest ;).

Guest Chef volunteer form: fixed!

I just discovered that there had been a problem with the form for volunteering to be a guest chef! I must have been the one who set it up and forgot to put in some pertinent information to allow it to work!

I solved the problem (thanks to Jessica, who alerted me to it!), and now I'm left wondering... who else volunteered to be a featured guest chef and thought I was just ignoring them?! If you want to be a featured guest chef, please let me know! :D

I feel like...

Naps.... ahhhhh....

I feel like this. But as you can see from the huge pile of laundry that needs put away... I better get busy and start using it for something other than a footrest. ;) 

This is how Joshua found me at noon today. Don't worry, I had already packed his lunch and planned dinner. :D I was only napping because Eliyahu wanted me to nap with him... ;)

Tea Review: Twinings Organic Tea

Twinings Organic Tea

Twinings Organic Tea, which is a blend of Ceylon and African teas, has become my most recent favorite tea! This aromatic black tea makes a wonderful morning brew... or afternoon (or evening!) brew, too! Its smooth flavor is delicious without being over-powering. I don't profess to be a tea-tasting expert, but this tea is different from ordinary black teas, in a really good way! If you like black tea, or if you like high-quality organic beverages, you will love Twinings Organic Tea!

I made two cups of tea from each of these tea bags, and enjoyed every drop! Well, I did share a little with Yehoshua. ;)

Yehoshua drinks Twinings Organic Tea

We drank some outside on a cooler day early last week. What a great way to warm one's hands! I sat on the steps and watched Yehoshua ride his tricycle (he can pedal himself now!) while I drank two delicious hot mugs of tea. Tea is good. Life is better. My babies are the best, and YHWH gives such blessings: praise Him!!

Canning tomatoes, again!

We just did diced canned tomatoes today. There weren't a lot to do, but they were fairly small and had a lot of bad spots. First, we washed them and cut out all the bad. Yehoshua stuck by me the whole time, helping. (And occasionally sucking on a tomato!)

As we washed and cored the tomatoes, I heated up some water on the stove. We cleaned out the sink and put the tomatoes in one side and poured the boiling water over them.  

Yehoshua helps peel tomatoes

Soon we were busy peeling. Yehoshua actually peeled several all by himself before getting bored. His shirt was a mess when we finished, and he has tomatoes down his arms and a big streak across his forehead. (Joshua saw him and said, "What happened to Yehoshua's face?!")

After the tomatoes were peeled, all I did was bring them to a boil and can them by open kettle. I got 15 pints, which is an okay amount. Added to my other stash from a few weeks ago, we'll have plenty to last all winter now. :D

We got up at 6:45 this morning, and after I had fed Eliyahu, I packed Joshua's lunch and made breakfast. Then Yehoshua and I started in on the tomatoes. They took a while. We had a quick lunch of Dutch Cheese Patties with some thrown-together chicken gravy.

Then it was time to wash dishes and try unsuccessfully to get the children down for naps. Yehoshua completely skipped his nap today. He just never fell asleep (usually he goes right to sleep!), and kept calling out "Hi, Uncle Richard!" to my brother who was upstairs doing school work on a computer.

Yehoshua was fairly well-behaved, considering his skipped nap, but unfortunately I think I am too spoiled by his nap times and I feel that I need his nap as much or more than he does! I felt like a complete grump (I imagine getting only a few hours of sleep the night before contributed to that) and imagined that my day was going much worse than it truly was.

Late in the afternoon, my parents brought over a washing machine that they had sitting in their garage. They were going to give it to my grandma, because she still uses a wringer washer!! But when she found out that ours had died, she said we should bring it over here and use it. Awfully kind of her!!

It was a little sad seeing my beautiful (non-working) washer heading out the door. It used to be our dear friends' washer and it just seems like it should still work!! But I have talked to different people and they say it will cost more to repair than to replace. And YHWH has provided a replacement, and even at no cost to us!! What a huge blessing!! So I am thankful (and only sad for sentimental reasons!).

I got right to work cleaning up the "new" (older! haha) washer, as it had a lot of iron built up on it, and a little dirt from sitting. I scrubbed and ran hot water through and then washed a load of diapers. Yep, first load in my new washer... diapers! haha

The house is rather dirty (or, maybe just more dirty than usual; not unliveable, but I am a perfectionist) and the children were getting cranky and I still had more dishes to wash, and it was getting late... I turned into a complete grump (if I wasn't already) because my arm was aching from trying to do everything while holding the baby.

I finally got Eliyahu down for bed and then the phone rang (some dumb recording! grr! It could at least have been someone I wanted to talk to! haha) and Eliyahu started crying and wouldn't be consoled. I felt about ready to go crazy, and I'm not sure why! haha

So, I decided to call my mom and tell her that I had gotten the tomatoes canned (she always likes to hear how many quarts or pints I got!) and a load of laundry washed (since I had been going over to use her washer all week!). She asked how my evening was going and I told her all that was happening, and she said,

"Well, it sounds like you got a lot done! And it's only 8:00. The kids will probably be asleep soon and you can finish things up. It sounds like you've accomplished a lot!"

And suddenly I realised that I had gotten some things done. And the children really weren't all that cranky. The house could wait until next week to be cleaned. Things really weren't so bad.

I love how my mom is always so positive about life. I hadn't told her I felt frazzled and crazified. I mentioned Yehoshua's skipped nap and stuff, but I wasn't complaining to her, but yet she came back with positive words and cheerfulness.

My mom hasn't had an easy life; by that I mean that she has had to work very hard and has done without many things (for years on end) that most people (even me!) would find it hard to live without. She is a wonderful example of someone who has learned to be content and to enjoy, love, and serve her family.

So, I felt a lot better after our phonecall, and I got the children off to bed and started cleaning up. I plan to get a good amount of sleep tonight, and have a good day tomorrow. Yay!


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