Wednesday, April 16, 2014

1 +1 = 4

We have a bit of an announcement around here...

So in our house, 1 + 1  will equal 4 come October!!!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Affording Food: For My Family

(Catch up from the beginning here: Affording Food: Growing Up and Affording Food: On My Own)

So we are now up to my life now. I have a husband and child that I need to feed nutritious and flavorful food to on a daily basis (for some reason they won't let me only feed them once or twice a demanding!).

I have to admit that it took a while to figure it out and find what works for us. Now that we have worked on it, things run pretty smoothly around here. I am guessing that we will keep tweaking our plan of action, but this works for us pretty good.

So what is it that we do?

I told you about our great find on a bunch of packs of chicken and some packs of ribs, but unfortunately we can't rely on that happening every few months. So we do a bit of a backwards meal plan.

I have a bunch of Gooseberry Patch cookbooks and some favorite food blogs that are great resources. So when we stop by the store, we look for a Manager's Special sticker and buy the best deal or deals. Then I come home and find a recipe that will go with whatever meat it is we have found for the week. For example, our latest random find was a 2.39 lb Angus roast that was marked down from $7.15 to $2.99! I found this great recipe from Goodeness Gracious.  This one piece of meat has fed us THREE times and we still have enough left for another lunch. That is less than 50 cents per serving of some amazingly yummy roast!

Another essential part of our affordable eating is that we do 99% of our shopping at Ruler Foods. Right across the street is Jay-C, and both stores have Kroger brand items. We have a good laugh when we get the Jay-C ad for the week and see the "sale" price across the street is more expensive than what we pay everyday at Ruler!

We have also learned what Kroger brands we love (sometimes even better than the major name brand) and what name brands Ruler usually carries. There are times that we only pay a third of what we would pay for name brand and have just as good of food with our generic. The name brands that Ruler has are always priced cheaper than we can find them anywhere else. For example, name brand strawberries. The exact same brand was available at both stores. Ruler had them for 99 cents on the same day they were $2.59 across the street! I don't know how they do it, but I am sure glad they do! I would love to know an exact number we have saved over the years by shopping there. It is unreal.

There are some things that we prefer name brand that are not available at our beloved store and the cheapest place to buy them isn't always in our town (welcome to a small town...a small price to pay for this life I love!). So we just have to plan ahead to stop and get these items when we are in the town that has the store that carries them for the lowest price.

By doing this, we are always under budget each week for our food, and I seriously can't remember the last time we had a meal that was more than $5 per serving!

Disclaimer: I received a promotional item from Indiana Family of Farmers, but (as always) thoughts, opinions and stories are all my own!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Affording Food: On My Own

If you want to catch this from the beginning, check out Affording Food: Growing Up.

In my early twenties, I was very close with some people who were whizzes when it came to gardens. They grew all kinds of great veggies. I can't remember exactly how many gardens they had going each summer, but I can think of at least four different ones. 

It was a ton of work, but they definitely knew what they were doing and all of their family and friends reaped the benefits. Year round we had canned green beans, frozen corn, canned salsa and so much more available to us...they were more than generous when it came to the fruits of their labor.

I wish I had some pictures from the times I spent breaking beans on the back porch, picking fresh veggies or canning and freezing, but I don' just imagine sitting on a upside down bucket pickin' beans or on some lawn chairs break beans in the shade of a tree. They are some of my favorite memories from those years. 

Now I did not and do not have a green thumb or know how to grow a garden (thank you farmers for feeding me!), but what I learned those few summers about canning and freezing have come in handy ever since. Even though I don't grow my own, I can visit a farmer's stand or farmer's market and pick up some great fresh veggies to work up. 

It is a great way to spend time together as a family and save some money! You can grow your own fresh veggies (or buy them for a great deal at your local farm stand) and work them up for very little per serving. Then you have great tasting veggies year round! Win win!

It was also a great way to pass on traditions that have been around for years and years.

I didn't know it when I learned  the recipe for freezing corn, but it was actually the recipe of the sweet lady that lived just one house down from me growing up...which was also across the road from my Gramma's house. :) I love that I get to use Tony's recipe each year. I can remember the wonderful smells coming from her house when we would run over to play with her grandkids or were invited to come pick some veggies in their garden. I am proud to use any of her recipes!

Things have changed a lot since my early twenties, and now I have a family to feed and a budget to keep. So just how do I do that? ( be continued)

Disclaimer: I received a promotional item from Indiana Family of Farmers, but (as always) thoughts, opinions and stories are all my own!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Affording Food: Growing Up

In case you didn't already know, I grew up on a farm.

And I loved it.

We raised cattle on our farm. We knew them by name and were always excited when a new calf was born. I remember one year there was a major earthquake predicted for a specific day. The day came and went and there wasn't an earthquake, but a calf was born that day that was red on both sides with a white line down it's back. Can you guess it's name? Yep, Earthquake was around for a long time on our farm and was always one of my favorites.

We raised some cattle for market, but we also raised beef for our freezer. It was a great lesson about where our food really came from. It was also a practical way to have a ton of meat in our freezer.

I grew up in a meat and potatoes family. And I mean that in a very literal way. We had meat and potatoes at every meal except when we would throw together our family's famous (to us ;) ) deep dish pizza. So having meat readily available was a must.

As I ventured out into the world on my own, I learned that mom and dad's big ol' freezer was essential if you were going to have a whole beef and while it can save you money in the long run, it is an investment up front.

Unfortunately for me, I didn't have a big ol' freezer or the money to invest up front. So I had to adapt and find my own way of finding affordable food. ( be continued).

Disclaimer: I received a promotional item from Indiana Family of Farmers, but (as always) thoughts, opinions and stories are all my own!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Thank You Farmers!

Did you know that this month is not only National Nutrition Month, but that Governor Mike Pence has declared March Agriculture Appreciation Month here in Indiana!

I grew up on a small family farm here in hilly Southern Indiana. My childhood memories are full of rides on the tractor, helping work the cattle, pitching hay (ALWAYS on the hottest day of the summer...not sure how that happens still to this day!), bottle feeding calves and so much more. 

They are memories that I cherish and wish I could share with Ryder, so when my Dad wants to take Ryder down to the barn, (that now provides shelter for some awesome horses instead of cattle) I am all for it. I want him to grow up learning the traits of a be hard working, honest, caring, selfless and to take pride in the good work that you do.

So when I heard that March was Agriculture Appreciation Month here in Indiana, I was pretty excited. Not only did I grow up on a farm, I have come to know some pretty amazing farmers here in Indiana. I am amazed at the sacrifices they make and how passionate they are about the food they produce for all of us. (In fact, I used this cool little tool on Where Is My Milk From? and found out that the milk in my fridge comes from the same plant that my friends over at Kelsay Farms sends their milk to! How cool is that?) I think a month long celebration of their dedication and hard work is perfect!

Did you know that only 2% of the population are farmers? Yet these amazing people produce the food to feed their families and the rest of us in the other 98%. In Indiana alone, we have 1200 hardworking dairy farm families. And for many of them it is a family tradition where the farm is not only passed down from generation to generation, but also has multiple generations working together, just like the Kelsay's. 

It makes sense to me that March is also National Nutrition Month, because it is all incorporating nutrient rich foods into your diet. MY favorite way to do this is having a nice tall glass of chocolate milk to refuel after my friend Autumn and I go running! If you haven't heard of this trick yet, give it a try! Milk makes the perfect refueler (is that a word?) because it contains 9 essential nutrients—calcium, vitamins A, D and B12, protein, potassium, riboflavin, niacin and phosphorus and 4 nutrients of concern (nutrients likely to be inadequate in at least 50% of American’s diets)—calcium, potassium, vitamin D, and fiber.

So March is the perfect month to get out there (well, you might have to do some activities inside until winter decides to go away!), get active, eat nutrient rich food and be sure to thank a farmer for that food! 

This post was sponsored by Indiana Dairy Association, however, my thoughts and opinions are (as always) definitely my own!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Ryder's Battle with Fevers (Part 8)

Need to catch up? Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5 - Part 6 - Part 7

So all of this story happened across the time span of a few months. (A lot less time than it has taken me to write it out!)

All of the horrible times we endured and conflicting messages we were given were like pressure building in a geyser. This momma was ready to blow.

Then we get another call from the specialist's office. Nurse K tells us that now Dr. F wants us to do genetic testing.

Here is why that was frustrating and led to the severing of our relationship with Dr. F....

The genetic category is almost all of the time for people of middle eastern/Mediterranean descent. (Michael and I are the palest of pale people and are from Germany, England and Native American - I only got the cheekbones from this one, not the beautiful skin - descent.) In our first appointment, Dr. K told us that this was the most unlikely category for Ryder not only because of his ancestry, but also because of what symptoms he has.

There had been no change in what we knew about Ryder's fevers. There was not a new reason to put him through genetic testing that wouldn't have been present at the original appointment.

This is what bugged me the most. Why should we put Ryder through another test and pay out another $2,000 (insurance doesn't cover this test) when they can't explain that it is necessary?

We needed to talk to a medical professional we trusted. So I called up Dr. D's office and set up an appointment with him. Dr. D spent an hour discussing all of the results we had at that point from Ryder's blood tests, the letter Dr. F had sent him summarizing her thoughts about his illness, what his thoughts were after looking everything over and what our options were going forward. In the letter from Dr. F, she stated that the genetic category was highly unlikely and that he most likely had PFAPA.

Dr. D (oh how we love thee!) stopped all the double talk. He didn't talk in circles. He was very straight forward with us.

There were enough test results for him to feel comfortable in saying that it wasn't the second category of periodic fever syndromes (the one where it was dangerous for him to even try the steroids once). He also stated that from Ryder's symptoms, ancestry, etc, that the third category (genetic) could also be ruled out.

That left PFAPA. There is not a test for PFAPA. It is a diagnosis of exclusion. However, if when a fever starts, a small dose of steroids (not the bad kind) takes the fever away, that is a good indication that it is PFAPA.

Even though they weren't the bad kind, it really freaked me out to give him steroids....

Thursday, February 13, 2014

What's Cookin'

I've been busy cooking up a storm! There are recipes that cRock, warm you up and satisfy your sweet tooth. There is truly something for everyone!

Over at Recipes That Crock, you can check out this yummy Crock Pot Lemon Pepper Chicken.

Or how about some Crock Pot Bacon Potato Soup to help you get through this winter that will never end!

Maybe you are looking for a dip to serve at your next party. This Bacon Cheeseburger Crock Pot Dip is always a huge hit! (Can you tell I like my crock pot and bacon?)

Valentine's Day is literally just around the corner! Want to make a sweet for your sweetie that is seriously easy to make and yet looks like some kind of fancy, took all afternoon to create dessert? Check out this Ice Cream Sandwich Cake for Valentine's Day.

Maybe you have a chocolate lover in your life. This Chocolate Almond Cake is sure to please! It was devoured when I took it to our Small Group dinner.

That's just a taste of what all I have been up to! Enjoy!

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