Monday, March 31, 2014

~Mommy Monday~

Yum
I share about my projects, crafts and fun times with my son, Mclachlan. I can't say I am the perfect parent, in fact, far from it but at times I feel my readers only see the good sides. I get asked all the time: Do we have bad days? Does my son drive me crazy, sometimes? Am I the mother in a store whose child is pulling things off the shelf screaming "I want a Cookie"? Or "I don't WANNA go to bed?" Ha, to even think we don't have those moments, you are to kind! Yes, in fact I decided to start a "Mommy Diaries" series of these such moments. Why? To help other parents realize we are in this together. Also, to laugh about it. If we can't smile & laugh at the bad as well as the good, things will just remain tense. I am not perfect BUT no one loves my son as much as I do. Nope, not you, you or even you! So although your advice, comments and remarks are heard excuse me while I not except them. I do what I feel is right and sometimes my parenting doesn't work...so sit back and read about it
Yesterday was BLOODY horrible (Excuse the UK term, thank the show "Sherlock")! I bombed TWO of my school tests (I attend college, yes) which is a first. Mac managed to smash and shatter glass condiments. A gift for me to clean up on my hands and knees, lovely. 
Today I was determined not to repeat yesterday.
Got up...Check
Made them breakfast... Check
Allowed TV time & Mommy resting time... Check.
Then the dreaded 9am comes. Suddenly it is like WW1 in here. Seriously, the front lines have been invaded because the dog spotted our neighbors leaving for work. Can we say noisy neighbors?
There is my dog yelping at them as they brush off their cars through my dining room window. Mac who should be eating is enjoying this episode of
Me: "No, Hunter",
Dog: "Bark, bark, barrrk".
Neighbors: Mean stares!
Mac: "Mom isn't this funny?"
I let down the curtains, thinking the dog will not see them. Two seconds later my dog is behind the curtains, my son joins in. The neighbors aren't impressed and yell some choice words, I can't make out because the window is closed? Can't you see that?
They leave, I allow my son and dog to continue standing, watching and barking.
"Honor thy neighbor", right? And my test said I didn't know what cultural apologetics meant, Ha!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

March Netflix Update #NetflixKids #Streamteam

Yum
I am a lucky member of Netflix Stream team this year. Each month, I will let you in on what we are currently watching on Netflix. I know some of you thought we were crazy to ditch our cable last year and only use Netflix but I have to say it was the best decision for us. We can have access to so many shows and my wallet appreciates the change over. This month focused on Back to school and "easy science projects for kids". McLachlan has a few shows on his Top list and the fist is Wild Kratts. Nothing like an educational show that really keeps his interest!
Another one Mac really enjoys is Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius. I was rather surprised he liked this one because he tends to gravitate towards strictly non-fiction shows with humans. Something about this show he really enjoys and when asked what he wants to use his allowed "TV" time he usually picks one of these shows.
This month us adults have been enjoying some documentaries. . Here is an example:
 
Hope you enjoyed our selections for March and stay "tuned" for more next month!
**I received a free year service to review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Breakfast Bites Recipe

Yum

Breakfast Bites Recipe
What you will need:
4 fresh eggs ( we used home laid ones)
Shredded cheese
2 tbs. milk
1 pepper, diced
1 cup of hash browns
2 sliced of bacon chopped
Crack the eggs and mix in a bowl.
Then add the milk, diced pepper and bacon. 
Spray the pan for easy removal once cooked. Then layer some hash browns in the bottom.
Then pour your egg mixture into each cupcake slot. 
Add your cheese and place into the oven.
Bake at 360 for about 15-20 minutes. 
Once the breakfast bite is golden brown and cheese is melted they are ready.
Serve and Enjoy! 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Grow Jamestown Show

Yum
 I attended the Grow Jamestown Show on Saturday! Boy am I glad I did. So many people were there and it was kind of exciting since snow still blankets our ground.
They handed out fun reusable bags, gave demonstrations and hosted seminars!
I promised to take a pic of this BATTERY powered lawn mower which has a bunch of cool "green" features. In retune I scored a free reusable bag...sweet deal on my part.
The Secret Garden Flower shop (You can visit them here) had a very nice table.
They are located 79 Allen street in Jamestown NY.
Grow Jamestown 's table was AWESOME! They gave away seeds.
I was fortunate to grab radish, cukes (anyone know what that is?) peas and sunflowers.
Chautauqua Oppurtunities had a nice booth.
They offered some leek soup..I passed
Humane Society was there in style.
They are "turning our carbon footprint into a green paw print". Locally grown catnip, recycling and using proceeds to help our animals gain homes, medical needs and have microchips.
I loved the Resource Table full of ideas created by residents. Truly special!
So many had education things, photos and FREE seeds!
The Chautauqua Watershed really caught my attention! They have "adopt an animal" program. With this you can gain a story, photo and stuffy for $25 ( if you are interested head here.).
I think Mac would love to do this! They even have adopt a Great Blue Heron!!
Foster Services in need of Families.
I have always thought this was such a great program!
CCHN had a really neat booth and some friendly ladies!
They didn't mind a photo opp! They were raising awareness to those on public assistance you can use your money towards purchasing seeds. I LOVE this idea!!
My last Stop was to Mike's Nursery. They are just a great group of guys. Plus to top it off they handed out Free Tomato plants. Got to love that!!
I had so much fun learning, chatting and swapping gardening stories. It just made me want to melt the snow in my yard, unfreeze the ground and get planting!! Anyone else ready for gardening season? How are your seeds coming, anyone already planted their gardens, if so lucky ducks!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Day 7&8: Buying JUNK food??

Yum

I have started this awesome Challenge of giving up my debit card and coupons to see if my family of three can live off $2.63 a meal. This is what the school regulated price is and I wanted to see if it was "doable". I have been collecting essential donations for Salvation Army during these 10 days as well. I started this journey and my eyes have been opened. What we consume, what kids eat at school lunches, what is considered "healthy". The challenge has really been not buying JUNK food. I mean snacks are cheap but they are high in sugar and our bodies burn it off quickly. I know this and I also know this is not healthy. I have tried to spread my money across the ten days to make it last. I will say this is not easy and it would be EASIER to just buy prepared meals. To purchase fatty, sugary meals and serve it to my family. This is what so many do on public assistance. If you do not know: How-to prepare meals, cook from scratch, utilize your resources or plan ahead your money is spent before you know it. I'm not perfect but I see a lot of holes during this Challenge that really need some awareness and help solving.
Did you know that children of all ages love to garden? No really, we all may find we like different aspects but all of us enjoy some part of gardening, You are reading this thinking, Liz, you have lost your mind I hate dirt. Great, then don't be a planer of seeds, be harvester or a consumer. Remember that the saying goes "You are what you eat". So if you are a consumer of goods, you might want to know where your food is coming from and take an active part in the process. Snack food, junk foods, sugars are all out there to enjoy but see that is where I think we all falter. To "enjoy" not to ONLY consume. I say that because think about your favorite restaurant, some of you like really fancy things, it is not somewhere you go ALL the time. Why is that? Well, to be honest if you ate at your favorite restaurant over and over and over again it loses it's "enjoyment". It is no longer a treat but a part of the norm. After a while you get sick of it and just stop going. This is how our bodies react to sweets, junk food. Our body consumes it over and over again, it looses it's enjoyment, it's nutrient potential and our bodies become sick from it. We see this a lot now how many younger people have diabetes now because our bodies are sick of JUNK.
Many companies have started to see this and changed their focus and direction. I learned this weekend that SNAP or food stamps have come out with a new addition. They are now allowing people who have food stamps to purchase "seeds" for vegetables and fruits. Why do you suppose that is? To encourage us to eat healthy, choose produce and help them to sustain their money longer. Now We just need to get the word out and encourage people to use this new "treat".
As far as our weigh in... To be honest we stopped keeping track. I have to say that I could have done this challenge had I started in a "clean" house. If I ONLY had these items but since my kitchen is stocked it is so hard to keep tracking of everything and then catalog the price value. I will say that without cooking skills, coupons I really have no idea how people live off such poor wages. I stress education because without knowing how to stretch money, food, cooking, couponing some of us will always stay in poverty and the lower class. I had a feeling we would fail this challenge and I am rather glad. More on that tomorrow for days 9 & 10.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Refried Bean Taco Salad Recipe

Yum
Refried Bean Taco Salad Recipe
1 can of refried beans
1 can of cut tomato's ( I would have used fresh/diced but we didn't have any)
1 can of Salsa (we used Tostitos)
1/4 cup sour cream
Pork Sausage or hamburger can be used if you want a meat but this is optional
Lettuce shredded
Shredded cheese
Tortilla chips
(With the help of my trusty lil chef in training...)
Place the can of refried beans into a square oven pan.
Place into oven for about 10 minutes.
If you added meat at this time cook until browned. 
Pull pan out and start to layer ingredients in.
We laid the salsa and tomatoes on next, then lettuce and cheese! 
I placed the sour cream out to spoon out.
You can dip your chips in or spoon the salad on your plate and eat.
Either way is AMAZINGLY delicious! 
So simple, easy and oh so good.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Taking a small one to a Home & Garden Show

Yum
If you follow us on Instagram you may have seen we skipped school on Friday and took a field trip. I am not advocating children should skip school but every now and again I like to take him to educational things we both enjoy. As he gets older he has taken an interest in things. One of those things is helping in the garden. At first I thought this was something every small child likes to do but turns out he's a little chef and gardener in training! YES!!!
We made our way to the Home Show in Buffalo NY.
Some tips if you are taking a small child to a convention.
Always prepare with plenty of easy snacks, juices and fun car activities. Being in a big city with lots of drivers and your four year old asking a ton of questions, crying or overall being distracting is NOT highly on my recommendation list. You can pretty much avoid all of those if you plan ahead. We used the "Valet" service and ushered ourselves by some friendly police on horses. I have to say they were super nice and even let Mac pet their horses. Some nice gentlemen offered us two free tickets as we walked in so the show ended up being FREE....Score! 
I think we both enjoyed the Gardening section full of lawn d├ęcor and ornaments. I was really hoping they would have plants, seeds but it's Western New York with snow on the ground. He loved these neat glass bird feeders made by The Shabby Garden. 
Then we saw these very skillful metal statues and works of art. He just got right n=down and wanted a photo with this T-Rex. Now, I could have gotten mad, maybe told him the floor was dirty but he was so darn cute! Sometimes we all need to just get down and takes some photos. 
He even pointed out some sewing machines that work without human assistance. I have to say these were right out of a Harry Potter movie. They were just a trucking away on some sewing projects all by themselves. He was excited and mesmerized just like me.
Our last stop was a cute little garden stand. This is for those who don't want to bend over and weed. These neat boxes also keep out animals and are a great thing for companion gardening. I thought about purchasing one but lugging that box around the Convention Center outweighed that idea.
All in all we had fun together. I was a bit disappointed is was full of sales people for your home rather then quality ideas and things to purchase. But conventions are still neat and we scored a full bag of FREE goodies for our home. Including a new Shower head, sealing of window treatments, new faucets, cups, magnets even free popcorn!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Day 5 & 6: What do they serve in school lunches?

Yum
If you are new to my blog, find out why I gave my debit card and coupons up for 10 days here. I have squeezed the weekend up here because it wasn't all that eventful in the food department. We did fall off the bandwagon but have since gotten on track.
I did calculate that in... after much hemming and hawing about it. 
This weekend I found this blog FedupwithLunch and it really showed some insight to what I had long suspected. School lunches are not, at best, "healthy". I know this because my son had a sugar packed cupcake today. He has a medical condition causing his body to not break down sugar properly, this causes him to be extremely constipated and unable to go number two no matter what you give him. The school is aware of this and it is why I pack his snack everyday. And yet today, a holiday they served him a sugary cupcake. I do not think this is a good idea for any 4 year old to have a "cupcake" at 2:30pm, let alone mine! Call me crazy but they would bounce off the walls, not something you want when you get home from a days work. He is only in Pre-K, I can't imagine what they serve kids in lunch time if this is what he gets for a snack everyday. And believe you and me he does. Just take a look at this blog written by a teacher who catalogs her school lunches for a whole year. Just see if you would eat any of it, let alone, serve it to your child. I know I wouldn't and will not be next year. Now, that I have vented onto my daily weigh in:
Sunday break down:
Breakfast was just me and I drank some coffee, I already purchased before heading to church.
So Free!
Lunch:
I was busy Spring cleaning so I made a tuna melt.
Tuna $.69 a can
Mayo $.12
Cheese slice $.15
Total spent: $.96 Cents-Whoop!
Dinner:
See that is the coolest part about living by your friends. We had our Dinner sent over by our friend Tammy. She offered to make us a crockpot meal and we accepted!! Dinner was FREE and this Mom didn't have to even cook it, Score!
Monday:
Breakfast was easy Mac had cereal and I had coffee.
Both items we had already purchased!
Lunch:
He had a Soy Chocolate milk $.83
Popcorn in a bag for his school snack $.50
We had Eggs, shredded cheese(I used some from the bag we already bought) and left over potatoes for official lunch which was all free!
Dinner:
We made Taco Salad, Refried beans $.99
Lettuce $.99
Tomatoes we had left over =Free
The rest of the shredded cheese bag
Sour Cream $.89
Dessert I whipped up a batch of St. Patty Cupcakes
Cake Mix $.89
Frosting was Free
Total Spent: $7.01
Spent so far in this challenge= $34.55

Sunday, March 16, 2014

DAY 3 & 4: Children get denied school lunches?

Yum
Welcome to Day 3 & 4 of my challenge. If you are new to my blog find out why I gave my debit card and coupons up for 10 days here.
Have you read about the School in Utah actually taking lunches away from students who had an over due lunch balance and tossing them into the garbage? Yes, the children were sent home with past due notices but when they came in for lunch they went through the line, only to have their lunch taken and thrown out. Thrown out because the school has a no "serve twice" policy. This school would rather throw 40 lunches away then give them to the children. Does this sound right to you? Check out the full article here. Now I found this appalling but my first reaction "this is wrong on so many levels"! My second gut reaction was "why punish the children", was there not a lunch lady who thought this was wrong? My third thought was glad that only happens in Utah.
OH, how I was SOOOOOO wrong. No, folks it happens ALL over. If a parent fails to pay a child's lunch bill they will be given fruit and milk. Some schools do not offer that instead the teachers, out of their own pockets, make the student lunches. Now, I know some can gain assistance and have free lunches but shouldn't every child? I don't care if you live on Mansion drive or on Ghetto Blvd. I think all children should gain a lunch during school hours FOR FREE. Just saying....Thoughts anyone??
One reason I mention this, during my challenge, was The Salvation Army pays student lunch balances. Even in my town, so this does not happen to children. How many of you knew that? I have to say I didn't even know this went on so I am glad someone helps kids out because I was clueless. Unsung hero in my book!
On to today's weigh in:
Breakfast Day3: Eggs=Free
Lunch: PBJ sandwich & Fish crackers
Dinner: Ok, so this is where things get hinky! It is Friday Fun day, Whilst I was sending a meal to a family from our church (because they just had a baby) they were off eating at a restaurant. 
I was brought back some Sushi...?
Total for Day 3 was $13.81
* Day 4 I am going to be honest, We didn't follow the rules. Not because I am trying to cheat but to be honest, I didn't keep track...
Spent so far in this challenge= $31.35

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Day 2: A Place at the Table

Yum

Have you ever seen this movie on Netflix? I encourage you to watch this documentary called
 "A Place At The Table", it is very powerful.
"50 million people in the U.S.-one in four children-don't know where their next meal is coming from, despite our having the means to provide nutritious, affordable food for all Americans".
Why am I bring this up? Well, we have great organizations like the Salvation Army for a reason. They see a person in need and help out. I may not see the need personally. Ever person I meet, I don't first ask, if they are hungry. I will say, the select group of families & friends, we do associate with, will tell you that I never let them go hungry. I am a beacon for food. My house has been stapled "grand central" for this reason. People are always coming or going with food on plates or in take-out containers. Why? I love to cook, always have. Most people rarely get home cooking because I guess fast food is easier? Now I am in my late twenties and I have friends who have never boiled water, they do not know how to start a fire nor make a meal from scratch.
 I think our society needs to step back and step up!
If we are not teaching our young ones How to cook, What is healthy, how to manage your money to buy food and essentials who is?
Today's weigh in:
Breakfast was easy:
Eggs= Free
Toast=$.99 a loaf
Jelly= Free gift from a wedding reception
Cereal=We used the box already purchased
Mom's beloved coffee= Purchased already :)
Total Spent= $.99
Lunch was a bit more challenging:
Half of a PBJ=using all items we already purchased
Mac snack for school:
Soy Chocolate milk $.83
Fruit cup $.49
Total spent: $1.32
 Dinner was Spaghetti:
Pasta $.89 a box, we only used maybe a 1/4
Pasta sauce $1 from Tops
French bread we had frozen from last week was an unexpected two extra loaves. I consider this Free since it was left overs from last week. I also used some chopped garlic and butter to add flavor.
Mushrooms= we bought already.
Total Spent: $1.89
Total spent today= $4.20
Spent so far in this challenge= $17.54

Friday, March 14, 2014

Homemade French Bread Recipe

Yum
Homemade French Bread Recipe
1 1/2 T instant yeast
1/2 C very warm water
1 1/2 T sugar
2 C water
1 1/2 T oil
2 1/4 t salt
6 C flour
"Combine the yeast, 1/2 C warm water, and sugar, and let proof for ten minutes. The first attempt Mac and I forgot the sugar in this step VERY important! Then add remaining 2 C water, oil, salt, and 3 C of flour. Mix until flour is incorporated, then add remaining 3 C flour gradually. Knead about five minutes, then turn out onto generously floured surface. Every ten minutes for the next hour knead two or three times. Then form into 4 loaves". 
Brush egg white (we used our organic, home laid eggs) mixed with a wee bit of water, on the bread.
Helpful tip: Get it all covered –
anything not covered with the egg mixture will end up pale & sickly.
This is where my recipe takes a different turn from the original one. I baked our loaves at 365 for about 30-45 minutes. I kept taking them out to brush more egg white on them and really get the golden brown effect. This way your bread is crispy on the outside but tender on the inside.
This also allows the bread to warm up with out getting burned. 
Just look at how these turned out.
 
Mac and I really patted ourselves on the back after making these. 
The whole house smelled lovely.
We didn't account for having 4 loaves, so we gave one away to our friend Cindy 
and froze two of them.
Cindy enjoyed them with some garlic butter!
Try this recipe you will not be disappointed! 
(original recipe found here)