Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day

"Today is the day we put aside to remember fallen heroes and to pray that no heroes will ever have to die for us again. It's a day of thanks for the valor of others, a day to remember the splendor of America and those of her children who rest in this cemetery and others."
Ronald Reagan, Memorial Day, 1986

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and may Perpetual Light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen.

My daddy, W.J. Crump
Asiatic Theatre (Phillipines/New Guinea)
World War II

Friday, May 28, 2010

Meatless Fridays

I absolutely ABHOR turning on the oven during the summer so we find creative ways to use the grill and crockpot. Since we have homemade pizza about once a week, I have found that grilling it not only spares us heating up the house but it also adds the most wonderful smoky flavor (making it in the crockpot - not so much! LOL!)
This week's Meatless Friday meal is:

Grilled Pizza

I wrote a blog post on grilling pizza a loooong time ago.
You can read about it HERE.
I use the same techniques as that post except now I use dough from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day (you can also use the canned tubular stuff in a pinch!) Just make sure your parchment and grill are heavily oiled!
Use whatever ingredients you have on hand (really good way to use up leftovers!) We have a bumper crop of zucchini and peppers, so that's what we used.
You can even let everybody make their own individual pizzas! It's lots of fun and the kids are more likely to eat their veggies this way!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Summer craft

These gorgeous shells were collected by the boys from our day trip to the beach last week:

I really wanted to use them in something decorative, so I dug out an old grapevine wreath (50 cents from the thrift store) and we set out to cover it in hot glue and shells!

Add a little ribbon and a monogram and it's the perfect summer outdoor touch to the patio doors!
I'm thinking another trip to the beach is in order soon....
I'm dreaming up ways to use shells in some garden art, too!
(Plus, I just love the feel of the sand between my toes!)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Garden tour

Temps in the 90's and a good soaking rain was all my garden needed to literally explode this week!
Let's go on a little tour, shall we?

Here is one of my many garden boxes that Doug built. This one is my kitchen herb garden. Lots of basil, dill, cilantro, sage, lemon balm, bee balm, and parsley are growing here. I love to come out here to pick herbs for cooking ~ fresh herbs make all the difference, they can be medicinal as well!

Here is the bean and cucumber patch. I planted the varieties two weeks apart to extend the harvest season, that's why one trellis isn't covered and half of the beans look small! Black eyed peas (cowpeas) are on the left and green beans (two varieties) are on the right:

Zucchini and orka are next in line.
They really love this HOT Texas sun!

I planted all the squash together this year. I'm training the spaghetti squash vines up onto tomato trellises. So far it's working really well!

Next we have the nightshades~ eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes (growing next to tomatillos which are technically gooseberries!)

Besides the herb box, I have watermelon and cantaloupe growing in boxes, too. Much easier to prevent weeds and contain all the vines!

Closer to the house are more garden boxes. This one contains swiss chard and chives planted a year ago! I keep cutting them and they grow right back!

And here are some of my medicinal herbs: feverfew, evening primrose, elecampane, chamomile, and all heal. I've been drying the leaves, flowers, and stems for use in herbal teas and tinctures.

Well, that's my tour of my own personal Heaven on earth!
If you need me, you know where to find me, out in the garden!

Need a little more garden inspiration?
Check out An Oregon Cottage's Tuesday Garden Party

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Now those are some FRESH eggs!

The dairy that we buy our raw organic milk from also sells free range eggs (and at a steal @ $2.50 a dozen!).

A thing of beauty, aren't they?

And apparently super FRESH with mud, poop, and hay still attached!

Disclaimer: I did scrub and soak them before using!

Oh lordy, how I squeel with delight when I open the fridge!
Raw organic milk, free range eggs, and my very own homegrown veggies!

It obviously doesn't take much to make me happy!

Monday, May 24, 2010

More summer sewing!

I needed a light summer dress to wear around the house and found McCall's M5893 to fit the bill! It's from their One Hour Dress patterns, and it literally DID go together in an hour. I absolutely LOVE it!

It is recommended for knits only, but I HAD to try it in some of the vintage sheet fabric I have been stashing:

I even put the bottom of the skirt pattern along the ends of the sheet, and voila!, no hemming needed!
Although it does look like it could use a little ironing!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Meatless Fridays

So I'm going to keep rolling with my summer vegetable garden theme here and suggest another staple at the Creamer house. Zucchini is PROLIFIC anytime you grow it! We've got 10 plants of it out in the garden and using it up can be a challenge. This meal is delicious, quick, and versatile. You can sub any greens (we use swiss chard) for the spinach, or finely chopped mushrooms and onions for the breadcrumbs. You can also use up leftovers in this dish ~ just fill up you zucchini boats and top with cheese! This week's Meatless Friday meal is:

Ricotta Stuffed Zucchini

4-6 zucchini, halved lengthwise
2 tbs. butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 cups ricotta cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Olive oil, for drizzling
2 tbs. Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
Ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Trim ends of zucchini halves, and scoop out seeds and pulp, leaving about 1/2 inch pulp on skins. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Slowly cook and stir onion and garlic until onion is soft. Stir in spinach, and cook about 1 minute.
Transfer spinach mixture to a medium bowl, and mix in ricotta cheese, eggs, Parmesan cheese, parsley, salt, basil, oregano and pepper. Stuff zucchini halves with even amounts of the mixture, and arrange in a large baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil, then sprinkle with seasoned breadcrumbs.
Bake uncovered in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, until the stuffing is hot and bubbly.

Want more great recipe ideas and tips for frugal living?
Check out:
The Grocery Cart Challenge

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Mama's Money Jar

Do you see it nestled there?
Right there between the bins of Goo-Be-Gone and extension cords is MY little jar!

It's daily that I do a load of laundry around here, and let me tell you, it's daily that I find all sorts of treasures in the washing machine! I've washed phones, iPods, action figures, name it, I've seen it!
I finally wised up and started thinking I could use this to my advantage - so I started my own little "tip" jar.
This is the money I've found after just a week's worth of laundry:

I figure it'll be good for an afternoon movie or a pedicure. When the kids balk at my going out alone, I'll tell them that it's all thanks to them that I get this little treat!

Hmmm...I wonder how much I can get for those two Gameboy cartridges?
Macy's here I come!

(just kidding!)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Why yes, I AM that anal....

I think organizing books by color is much more interesting than by subject or...

...that darned Dewey Decimal system!

And eventually Doug will figure out where his favorite books are!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A real pain in the....


I don't know what I did or how I did it, but this weekend I ended up with some gawd-awful left hip pain!

Spent the weekend laying around eating ibuprofen and Aleve like candy. Hoping to feel better soon....lazing around for a while is GREAT, but I've taken all I want, I need to get back to LIFE!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Meatless Fridays

If this week is any indication, we will be eating LOTS of eggplant this summer! What could be more delicious than this traditional dish?
This week's Meatless Friday meal is:

Eggplant Parmagiana

1 3/4 cups Panko or Italian seasoned dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 pounds eggplant, cut into 1/4 inch slices
4 large eggs
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
2 jars of your favorite spaghetti sauce (extra points for homemade!)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine bread crumbs with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese in medium bowl. Dip eggplant in egg mixture, then bread crumb mixture, coating well. Arrange eggplant in single layer on lightly greased baking sheets. Bake 30 minutes or until golden.
Evenly spread 1 cup sauce in 9x13 inch baking dish. Layer 1/3 of the baked eggplant, then 1-1/2 cups sauce, 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese and 1/3 of the remaining Parmesan cheese; repeat. Top with remaining eggplant and sauce. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 45 minutes. Remove foil and top with remaining cheeses. Bake uncovered an additional 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I *heart* iGoogle!

If you haven't signed on with iGoogle, do it now!
I love everything about it!
The calendar sends email reminders, I can keep documents (i.e. resumes, garden logs, etc...) on file and share with whoever I choose. I love my blog roll where I can read all my faves in one place instead of going from site to site.
I stumbled across another WONDERFUL feature while looking for a fax cover page:

Go to your iGoogle homepage
Go to upper left hand side and click the "more" tab.
Click "Documents"
Click the "Create New" tab in the upper left hand side.
Then click "from template"

From there you can browse literally thousands of templates in categories ranging from letters & faxes, to personal finance, presentation designs, and schedules.
Some personal favorites are the calendar, meal planning, and to-do lists! Not only do you just fill in and personalize but you can send them to certain groups (homeschooling, church, business) via email and then they can personalize/correct and send back to YOU!
For example:
On my calendar I can fill in my work and meeting schedule then email it to Doug and the older boys. Doug fills in his appointment/shooting schedule and the boys fill in their sports, scouts, and social schedules. We all get email reminders the day before an event and I can even print out an itinerary for the week! It also allows me to make and send individual lesson plans to the boys so they can either print it out or make notations and grades on the plan itself and send it back to me!

Trust me, if you are an anal list maker/planner/organizer like me,
iGoogle will make life much easier!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

No Poo ~ Revisited

About a year ago I blogged about my attempts at giving up shampoo. You can read all about it HERE. The quick version is that shampoo can be really harmful to your hair. It strips it of its natural oils, coats it with chemicals, and some of those chemicals are absorbed into your body through your scalp.
I started using a tried and true mixture of baking soda and distilled water as a "shampoo" then used an organic apple cider vinegar rinse as "conditioner", the results were amazing! After about a week detox period, my hair was shiny, full of body, and I didn't need anything more than a little hairspray to keep my styles in place!

Recently, I've been browsing Our family has benefited from homeopathy for quite sometime now, and each year I'm trying to educate myself a little more on the growing and consumption of medicinal herbs. They just sent out a great article on making your own shampoo! I gleaned a bit of their info and decided to turn my own "shampoo" up a notch.

I cut some sprigs of rosemary and stuffed them into a pint jar along with some rose petals from my flower garden. Let me tell you, the smell was AMAZING!!! I filled the jar and set it in the sun to steep:

Isn't it pretty?

I'll add this "tea" to the water in my baking soda/water mixture. Rosemary is great for hair (among other things!) and the smell is divine!
I love being able to control the ingredients of the products we use for our family, not to mention that I can make a month's worth of "shampoo" for the price of a box of baking soda.....0.89 cents!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The sandbox

In an attempt to use of some of the 16 cubic yards of dirt that we ordered, Doug built the little guys a sandbox to play in.

It amazes me how much little boys are drawn to dirt.
Danny and JP can play for hours in this space.

Tell me, can a swim in the pool
or run through the sprinklers...

...substitute for bath time?