Thursday, January 31, 2013

Once a Month Cooking December 2012 Reviews

I took a little break from Once a Month Cooking because one month we got a host of bad meat from Winco and it pretty much ruined every meal.  Also, in that time Once a Month Mom changed and started charging for their menus. We floundered and ate a lot of burritos before I decided to give a try again.  It costs $8 per month and I've decided that it's worth it to have a complete menu and shopping list made for me.  This time I did my shopping at Winco again but I purchased all of the meat from New Seasons Market.  I cooked on New Years Day and had the smoothest Once a Month Cooking Day yet.  Seriously, everything went off without a hitch and I didn't even have a giant mess to clean up!  It made me feel like I've finally figured it out.  We've just eaten the last frozen meal from this menu.  Today I'm cooking for February but I needed a little break and I know that some of you really liked our recipe reviews.

Remember, my family rates these recipes on a scale of 1 (no, thanks, I'd rather not take another bite) to 5 (I would love to eat this every day for the rest of my life).  Here's what we thought of the December 2012 Gluten Free/Dairy Free menu.  The original recipes are linked to the recipe titles.  They do not reflect the changes Once a Month Mom made to make these recipes gluten/dairy free.

  • Sausage Egg Casserole   3.  It tasted pretty good but it was really hard to get the egg out of my muffin tin.  I had greased the tin liberally but the egg really stuck to it.  In fact, I could not get my muffin tin clean (and I tried everything) and ended up throwing away and buying a new one :(
  • Omelet In A Cup N/A  I actually didn't make this one because we don't have a microwave.  Sorry.
  • Banana Muffins  5.  Delicious!  I actually made this recipe two more times during the month of January.  I dumped all the wet ingredients into a blender to get the batter really smooth and used really overripe bananas.  Since I had to throw out my muffin tin because of the sausage egg casserole I made this recipe as a loaf and baked it for 20 minutes longer.  So, so good!
  • 4 Chicken Soup 5.  This was a really simple and tasty recipe.  All of us liked it and I had the leftovers for lunches for a few days.  Super good.
  • Corn Dog Mini Muffins  3.  I think the idea behind these was good and my kids were excited about them until we tasted them.  The corn muffins were just really bland.  I ended up trying again with my regular corn bread recipe and it was a hit.  For the rest of the muffins that I froze, I melted cheese on them and the kids said they were better but I didn't try them because the cheese would kill me.
  • Honey Glazed Chicken & Bacon Bites 5.  Super yummy!  These are on the menu again for this month and I'm really glad.  
  • Creamy Chicken Taquitos 5.  These were also delicious but I couldn't quite master rolling the taquitos so that they stayed tight.  Ours were more like the crunchy rolled tacos you can get at Taco Time.  We didn't mind, it just meant they were a little messier to eat.

  • “Cheesy” Hashbrown Chicken 4.  This was pretty tasty but I really hate fake cheese so I used regular cheese and of course got a stomach ache.  My own fault.  The recipe was good but I don't think I'd make it regularly.
  • Chicken & Rice 1.  This recipe might be really good, but I made a mistake on it.  It called for chorizo and I didn't really know what that was.  But when I was New Seasons in the butcher department I saw spicy ground chorizo so that's what I bought.  I mixed it in with the chicken and rice and ended up with a super spicy dish that not one of us could handle.  We tried turning the whole thing into a taco type dish hoping that guacamole and beans and sour cream would tame the fire.  It didn't work out too well.  Turns out I was supposed to use more of sausage link type of chorizo.  Oops!
  • Ms. Mary’s Vegetable Soup  5.  So easy and so delicious.  This might become my go to soup when someone is sick.  I added some rotisserie chicken to ours when I heated it up because Geary is a meat lover.  Yum, yum, yum.  All the kids liked this one, too.
  • Slow Cooker Beef Stew 3.5.  This was okay.  It was easy enough to make but kind of bland.  
  • Chicken &  Broccoli Pie 4.  Geary and the kids loved this recipe.  I thought it was okay but I'm not really a casserole person.  I know I'll make it again for them, though.
  • Gluten Free Beef & Noodles. 4  Since I'm mainly avoiding dairy, I used regular egg noodles for this.  It was pretty good but it looked pretty gross after being frozen, thawed, and reheated.  My kids made faces until they tasted it.
  • Broccoli Beef 4.5. Really good served over rice.  The kids liked this one a lot.
  • Navy Bean Soup 4.5.  This was a very soupy month but none of the soups disappointed.  I added a little bit of ham to this soup for Geary's sake and it was pretty tasty.  My kids say that they don't like beans but they gobbled this up.  I think the fact that it had "bacon" in it made it cool in their eyes.
I better get back to cooking for this month.  I'm trying the Paleo menu this month which so far has been very expensive.  Not too happy about that but hopefully the meals will be amazing.  I'd love to know your thoughts if you try any of these recipes out!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wonder Women Wednesday: First Crush

This week I asked Becky:  Where is your worst physical scar and how did you get it?  You can read her answer HERE.

Becky asked me:  Who was your first childhood crush and what did you like about him?

Paul Blue.  Isn't that a great name?  Paul Blue.  He had short brown hair that his mother slicked down with a deep side part.  He was the cutest boy in kindergarten with a sweet round face, gray eyes, and adorably large ears.  And while some boys in our class liked to tease and chase the girls, Paul was always nice and he played with us.  Jacks and jump-rope and dollhouse building, Paul liked it all.

Our class was learning about money and our teacher would reward us for answering questions correctly with large paper coins. At the end of each week she would open her "shop" filled with bouncy balls, stickers, and other little trinkets so we could spend our money.  One week, Paul Blue spent his money on an adjustable gold ring.   He marched over to me, dropped it in my hand and said, "We're married now."

We spent five blissful recesses playing in the playhouse in one corner of our classroom.  I would rock baby dolls and Paul would "come home from work" and ask what was for dinner.  It was a very happy marriage.  Until Mrs. Jones opened her shop again and Paul bought another gold ring.  I thought I was getting an anniversary band so you can imagine my surprise when Paul dropped that ring into Bridget's hand and declared them "married."

I got over it pretty quickly, though.  After all, Paul was no Ricky Schroeder and definitely didn't have these rad dance moves.

What about you?  Who was your first childhood crush?

Don't forget to head over to Becky's blog to read about her best/worst scar..  You can leave your best scar over there, too.  We love reading scar stories.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Ask Your Child

Tobin's kindergarten teacher sends home a newsletter every Friday with classroom info, highlights from the week, upcoming lessons and field trips, and my favorite, a list of questions to ask my kindergartener about what he learned that week.  Toby's answers routinely crack us up so we've decided to share them here.

What is a plague?

Something that is really, really, really bad.  Like if all the water turns into blood.  Or if was night forever.  Or a whole bunch of frogs.  Like 100 frogs coming out of your ears, coming out of your bed, coming out the shower, coming out of the bathroom, coming out of living room, coming out of the couches, coming out of the refrigerator.  Ew! Coming out of your cereal box.  That's a plague.

Can you name the 10 plagues God sent to the Egyptians?


Can you sing the jellyfish song? 

(London Bridge tune)

A jellyfish is not a fish, it has no brain, it has no bones.
A jellyfish is not a fish but It. Can. sting you!

What cool things do you remember about jellyfish?

They move by pushing water out of their bodies like an umbrella.  Their tentacles sting.  When they go on land they will die.  They can't swim fast.  And they're not a fish.  And why are they called jellyfish when they're not fish?  It's because they don't have brains so they don't even know that they aren't fish.

According to Miles...

skirts are known as Princess Pants.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wonder Women Wednesday: Dream Ministry

So Becky and I wanted to blog more, but we needed ideas. I suggested we ask each other questions every Wednesday and then blog the answers. Becky was worried she wouldn't be able to come up with any good questions, but we both agreed that all we had to do was be curious.  You know... like... things  we WONDER. Thusly, Wonder Women Wednesday was born.

This week I asked Becky: Why were you given your name(s)? 

Read her answer HERE

Becky asked me:  What is your dream ministry? 

I have been pondering this question, chasing hard after the answer for two days.  And here is what I've come up with:  I don't know.

I have a bachelor's degree in Bible & Theology and Women's Ministries.  I was part of a music ministry team in college called Witness and I currently sing with my church's worship team once a month.  I have been on several short term missions trips.  I have helped lead children's musicals.  I have taught Sunday School.  I have held babies in the nursery.  I have greeted and ushered and planned women's retreats and baby showers.  I have led small group bible studies for college aged women.  I have folded bulletins and designed posters and flyers and decorated churches for Christmas and coordinated weddings.  I have worked in youth ministry, served in soup kitchens, and hosted weekly play dates for young moms.  I have cleaned and cooked meals and babysat and driven church vans and painted walls and assembled bulletin boards and broken communion crackers.  You could say I have a little bit of ministry experience.

I'm not listing out all the ways I've served in order to brag or to prove anything to anyone.  Some of those things on that list, I've been really good at.  Some, really bad.  Some of those things I have loved and others I have endured.  Some of the things I love have been things I am not so good at.  But maybe that's why I love them.  They stretch me. They demand sacrifice and humility and that I search my heart and motivations.  They propel me toward Jesus.  

Becky suggested that I could already be doing my dream ministry.  Making things beautiful, she said.  It's true, making things beautiful does make my heart sing.  But in every single one of those ministry experiences I listed, I had the opportunity to make something beautiful.   Okay, I'm not sure exactly how driving a church van makes anything beautiful, but in all the rest, yes.

I asked Jesus, "What is your dream ministry for me?  Do you have one or two things in mind that I am uniquely created for to bring you glory?"  

I didn't get a clear answer.  But a thought flashed in my mind.  "Do the thing that's right in front of you."   I think God puts some people on path where the ministry he has in mind for them is clear and focused.  To preach, or to write, or to love little children or the homeless or to translate the Bible in a completely different language.  And for other people, like me,  God says, "Simply serve me.  Do the thing that's right in front of you."  

I hope that makes sense.  I don't know.  And I'm okay with that.  

Do you have a dream ministry?  Leave a comment, We'd love to read about it.  And don't forget to check out Becky's answer to my question.  I'd love to know why you were given your names, too!  

Monday, January 21, 2013


To make a long story short, we got new couches.  Which kind of turned into one of those "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" type of stories.  The new couches didn't go with our rug.  So we bought a new rug.  And then some of the artwork and other decorative accessories didn't seem to fit in, etc.

Months ago I was at our local Habitat for Humanity Re-Store and I saw this giant wood board leaning against the building.  It has grooves in it but I don't know what it's original purpose was.  I just knew I liked the look of it and could probably use it to make something cool for our living room.  I asked how much they wanted for it and the volunteer just laughed and said I could have it.  He even loaded it into my van for me.  I cleaned it up and gave it a good sanding and then it sat for months on the back of our couch.  Not hung on the wall...just leaning there while I figured out what to do with it.

I kept seeing water and clouds in the grain of the wood.  Every time I looked at it the lines would jump out at me.  Finally, today I hung the board on the wall and as soon as it was up there inspiration struck.  I pulled out some old chalk pastels and "colored in" the picture I kept seeing in the wood grain.  I followed the lines of the grain and basically scribbled on layers of color.  Finally, I used my hands to smear all the colors together and when I stepped back I breathed a sigh of relief.  It just fits.

I'm not a great photographer and I know it was the wrong time of day to take pictures anyway but I just couldn't wait to show you!

Even the wave was part of the wood grain.  I love all those swirls and squiggles.

 Here, you can see the awesome texture.

 Do you see how the wood grain made clouds?  I just colored them in and suddenly the story in the wood was drawn out.  Exegesis.

It's finally starting to feel like home in here again.  I hope to share more of our living room as we continue to make changes to it.  Of course, you're welcome to come over and see it for yourself, too!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Good Sportsmanship

Toby, while playing Wii with me, said, "Mom, it's okay if you lose."

Friday, January 18, 2013

Sage Advice from the Oldest Brother

Last night, Noah was helping Miles get toothpaste on onto his toothbrush.  Miles kept whining, "No!  I want to dip it!"  But Noah had already spread toothpaste across the bristles and his patience was wearing thin.  He sighed, "Miles, just go with it!  Complaining about food is one thing but complaining about toothpaste is quite another."

Ask Your Child

Well, somebody was paying better attention this week!  Toby's answers aren't as funny this time but I'm pretty impressed with what he remembered from the story of Moses.  And he taught me something  I didn't know about fish!

How did God speak to Moses?

There was bush that was on fire and Moses saw it and the bush was talking.  And the bush said, "Take off your shoes."  The bush was God.

What did God tell Moses to do?

Throw his staff on the ground and it turned into a snake.  God said, "Pick it up on the back of the tail" and Moses picked it up on the back of the tail and it turned back into a staff.  And God told him to look at his hand.  There was owies all over him and they were red and God said to look at it again and he looked again and his hand was back to normal.

How were the Israelites different from the Egyptians?

The Israelites were slaves.  The Egyptians throwed every baby boy in the ocean because the king wanted to be his own king and not let God be his king.

What cool things did we learn about fish?

Fish don't have eyelids.  How they breathe, they open their mouth and waters comes out of their gills.  They only rest, they don't sleep.  Because they don't have eyelids.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wonder Women Wednesday

So Becky and I wanted to blog more, but we needed ideas. I suggested we ask each other questions every Wednesday and then blog the answers. Becky was worried she wouldn't be able to come up with any good questions, but we both agreed that all we had to do was be curious.  You know... like... things  we WONDER. Thusly, Wonder Women Wednesday was born.

This week I asked Becky: What job did you have that you would never want to work again? 

Read her answer HERE.

 Becky asked me:  How was Ruby Willow born?

I actually wrote the answer to this question about a year and a half ago for a blog that was hosting a giveaway of my jewelry.  But it's never been recorded here so I'm glad for the chance to flesh out the story a little bit.

My jewelry making career started during the Christmas season of 2008.  We really wanted to participate in all our usual gift exchanges but we were really short on cash that year.  I've always enjoyed making gifts, but I'd never taken on the challenge of making every gift we would give.  But that's what I did.  For the ladies on my gift list I decided to make jewelry.  But I didn't have much money for supplies so instead I bought a couple of tools from the Dollar Tree and a spool of copper wire from the hardware section of Fred Meyer.  And then I dumped out my jewelry box and started taking pieces apart.  I mixed and matched elements until I had a necklace for every woman I wanted to give a gift to.

These are the first necklaces I made.  They were given to Noah's kindergarten teachers.  Well, everyone seemed to love their gifts and  pretty soon my friends and family members started calling me up saying things like, "So-and-so saw the necklace you made for me and she wants one just like it!"  I really had a lot of fun creating and re-purposing jewelry so I spent some of my Christmas money on nicer tools and some real beading supplies.  

I chose the name Ruby Willow after a funny conversation with my husband. I told him that I just wanted a name that sounded pretty and represented me but not in an obvious way like "Jeana's Jewelry." So he started saying things like, "You have big hair. How about Big Hair Jewelry!" From there it evolved into a parody of The Song of Solomon. "Your teeth are like a flock of goats. Goat Teeth Jewelry! Your lips are like red rubies. Your hair is like a weeping willow. You are a Ruby Willow." I was laughing so hard but through that laughter, Ruby Willow was born. 

I opened my etsy shop in January 2009 with a handful of really bad pictures.  But my friends and family were faithful and  they bought my stuff and spread the word about my little business.  Holly, a friend from church, invited me to join her and her sister-in-law, Shelly, at their booth at Newberg's Old Fashioned Festival.  I only had a few pieces to sell but I remember what a thrill it was to have a total stanger purchase one of my necklaces!  I was like, "Wait?  You like my stuff?  And you're not my mother or mother-in-law?"  It was very encouraging.  After Miles was born I was able to purchase a nicer camera and could take clearer photographs of my pictures.  I was also learning all the time about how to improve my shop and how to run a small business out of my home.  

 In 2010 I made my first Nest Necklace for a friend who had just had twins.  The Nest Necklaces became hugely popular and I started getting more and more sales and more and more attention on Etsy.  It was then that I decided what the purpose of my jewelry business was: To make beautiful, relevant, affordable pieces of jewelry. It's important to me that each design reflects some element of nature. After all, I am only a creator because I was created in the image of The Creator. I want my work to be a reflection of His. With three boys I often feel the need to have something girly, so I also work hard to make each piece soft and feminine. But my deepest desire for my jewelry is for the wearer to feel beautiful wearing it.

My little business has grown slowly but steadily.  In fact, this year, Ruby Willow paid for all of our Christmas expenses! I am so very thankful to have a job that I love.  And for the friends and family who support me in it.  And that I didn't have to name it Goat Teeth Jewelry.

Do you have a small business?  How was it born?  Or if you don't have a small business, what would you love to create to sell?  You can leave your answer in the comments section, we'd love to read them!

Be sure to head over to Becky's blog to read her answer to my question.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Ask Your Child

Every week Toby's kindergarten teacher sends home a letter with highlights of what the kids did that week and what to look forward to next week.  There is always a list of questions ask your child and Toby's answers routinely crack me up.  So I've decided to make this a weekly series for as long as it is fun.

What is another word for 'estimation'?


Is the world covered mostly by land or ocean?

Land.  I can't see the ocean, can you?

What kind of water is in the ocean?

Stinky water.

What happened to baby Moses?

He died.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

2012 London Olympics

Last summer we were extra excited about the Olympics because two Olympians were from our little town of Newberg, Oregon!  
Rachel Yurkovich and Cyrus Hostetler are both javelin throwers.

Rachel Yurkovich


Cyrus Hostetler 



When Geary learned that Rachel and Cyrus considered Newberg to be their hometown 
he went out and bought two Newberg postcards, one for each of our Olympians. 

Noah and Toby wrote to Rachel and Cyrus to let them know that we were cheering them on from Newberg 
and were looking forward to watching them compete on TV.  
We were all a little excited about our humble postcards traveling all the way to London 
and hopefully bringing some encouragement to the athletes.

And then, several weeks after the Olympics were over, Noah and Toby received these 
Official London Olympics pins from Rachel as a thank you for their support!

How fun is that?!  The boys now have them on their back packs.  Pretty cool!

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Birthday Cake

Miles turned three on November 25th and we celebrated him at my sister-in-law's house after Thankgiving.  She gave him a really cool Play-Doh construction truck set.  Miles made a clay creation and showed it to my 10 year old niece.

Miles:  I made a cake!
Lili:  You made a cake?
Miles:  Yes.  I blow the candles!
Lili:  Did you make a wish?
Miles:  No.  I made a cake.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Animal Sounds

One morning a friend of mine was watching Miles for me and I had accidentally forgotten to pack wipes in his diaper bag.  So my friend and Miles took a little trip to Walgreens to pick some up.  On the way there she was trying to get Miles to warm up to her by quizzing him on animal sounds.  She said he was getting them all correct until she asked, "What does a wolf say?"  He was quiet for a moment and then replied, "Little pig, little pig, let me come in!"