Thursday, April 26, 2012

Seed Bars

In the last couple of weeks I've started a fast.
There are many reasons for this, personal, spiritual and health related.
Anyway, I'm not going into details on this post today (perhaps another time).
I would just like to share a recipe that I came across the other day.
Unfortunately, after much searching for the original post I cannot find it or I would have linked it here.
I did not come up with this recipe but I have made it and we like it very much so I wanted to share!
I hope that if you try it you will like it also :)

SEED BARS



Bring 1/4 cup of honey and 1 tsp of lemon zest to a slow boil. (I would suggest over medium heat as mine was a bit too hot)
Continue boiling until it forms a thick syrup, about 5 minutes.
I added a few grinds of sea salt at this point( not in original recipe)to help cut the sweet a bit since I find honey very sweet for my taste.
Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup of each:
Sesame seeds
Sunflower seeds
Pumpkin seeds
Chia seeds



Spread to form a 6"x8" rectangle on parchment line baking sheet. (it was a bit of work to 'spread')
At this point I would score it into 16 pieces. If you wait to cut it like I did you will end up having to snap it into pieces.
Let set 15 to 20 minutes. Break apart into pieces.
Store covered up to 10 days.

1 bar:
60 cal
3.5g fat (0.5g sat)
7g carbs
2g fiber
4g sugar
2g protein




Monday, March 5, 2012

I like Facebook.

I like Facebook. I do.

I've read articles, and I'm sure many others have as well, about how you're not talking to 'real' friends or you're not really connecting with people because you are chatting with them online or only reading status updates. I agree that there is nothing like sitting with a true friend and actually spending face to face time together, it's the best 'friend' time ever, but these times can be hard to come by for me.

Some of the most 'real' friends I've ever had in my life live far from me,and I find that Facebook is one of the best ways to connect with them. Yes, there are phone calls, Skype, email and the most exciting and delightful....actual MAIL! all of which I use (sparingly perhaps) but I find the social media of Facebook really easy. So many people that I know and like popping in here and there to share something special, funny, uplifting, thought provoking, sometimes sad, or even to have others share in their frustration once in a while.

Maybe I'm not 'true' friends with many. I can't hear the sound of your voice when I read your status update. I don't know all your mannerisms or picture those of you that are 'hand talkers' as you describe your day, what you saw or experienced. I don't always comment or 'like' what you say....but I do read it.
Perhaps I like Facebook so much because I've chosen to stay home with my children so it gives me a small but welcome dose of being 'around' other adults.
I connect with other homeschool families, geographically distant friends and family, and people that I have recently met and found common bonds with.

One very special instance for me was hearing from a cousin. I had not seen her since she was a baby and I was a little girl. I'm so glad she was able to find me on facebook and that we were able to connect. It's wonderful to know that you have family that you may never even remember meeting, but that they are a part of you and can be a part of your life. It adds a richness, and a blessing and it is a comfort to have a way to connect easily over distant miles.

I would absolutely agree that there is nothing as wonderful as having meaningful conversation spent with a friend. To sit and share a drink together. To laugh until tears are running down our cheeks, or to cry with the same result. To be able to share that embrace or a knowing look when you overhear your children's conversations from the next room.
It's wonderful to see the sparkle in someone's eye when they share special news with you...but it isn't always possible. I still want to hear the news, I still want to laugh at the antics of other people's children, or celebrate their special achievements or to share a message of comfort to someone who needs it.

Those moments of togetherness can sometimes be few and far between and don't EVER seem to last long enough! So, I will take those moments and cherish them, but I will also enjoy my friends from afar.
I believe it is important to continue to make new friends with those that ARE around us...but I may add them to my facebook friends too!

I choose to embrace my 'friends' as a blessing to my life and love those that rejoice with me and 'like' some of the things I share. I'm so thankful to be able to keep up with what is going on in the lives of so many. Kindred-spirits and acquaintances alike. I will strive to make new friends, especially those within arms reach and make an effort to have face to face experiences while still holding on to those who are distant. I hope you do too.

Sjana

Monday, November 7, 2011

One of THOSE Days

Yesterday it was chocolate pudding on white couch cushions. I have pictures.
I was told not to buy a white couch. I regret not listening.

Today it's poop. All over the bathroom. (no pictures!)
I wish it was chocolate pudding!
I should know by now, that when your two and a half year old is quiet it's not usually a very good sign.
First clue was when I heard water running from the bathroom which I decided to check out.
I then found my little darling in our bathroom sink (it's one of those big laundry type ones because our main floor bathroom doubles as a laundry room).
Panty and pull-up were discarded on the floor - inside out I might add (more mess).
The child in question was in the sink with a cup!
I quickly got that away from her and began the clean up process. I'm very thankful for the sprayer that is attached to the sink, by the way.
Just as I was pulling her out and drying her off hubby makes his afternoon call. Of course he's getting the super frustrated, overly dramatic version of 'This Just In' news.
Then I decided to step out of the bathroom and check on the 8 month old, only to find her at the cats litter box. Of course I screamed and started shouting "NO, NO, NO!!!"
When I discovered she had a treasure in her hand. Again, poop!
This is when I washed her off with lots of soap and the hottest water I think she can handle all the while cradling the phone between my ear and shoulder. Yep, hubby is still on the other end and getting an even louder earful.
I told him I needed to get off the phone and I proceeded to do what any other average stay-at-home mom that is trying to raise her children well, in a loving and stable environment would do. I shut myself in the bathroom (WITH the 8 month old) and cried.
Not all days are like today, but I`ve had several such days.
I`ve even gone so far as to vehemently say ``Ì QUIT!!`` and march out the front door and sit on our front steps...again in tears.
Of course, that only lasted a few minutes and I went back inside, but it felt real good in the moment.
I`m trying a different tact today.

Today we have a vehicle so I have decided that it is time for some serious retail therapy!!!



Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My First Thankfulness List

I have been reading other peoples thankfulness lists for the past few years on facebook or their blogs. I always read them, enjoy them, and think that it would be a good idea to make my own list. Well, I have finally set aside time and intent.
Here goes. (insert cracking of knuckles here)

I am thankful for:

-Having my husband home for the past (almost) 8 months.
-Our five beautiful children - we love our handful!
-Skype
-My Epicure frother (Chai Latte anyone?).
-Friends that you can chat with that no matter the distance and you feel like you saw them yesterday.
-Other people that blog about thankfulness and inspire me to do the same.
-Awana
-Our church family (old and new).
-For the people that look at me and my five kids and even if they think I'm nuts they keep those comments to themselves.
-For those that don't I am thankful to God for giving me the grace to smile at them anyway (most of the time).
-Mondays
-Decluttering
-Spending most of everyday with my family.
-Coupons
-Costco's pouches of instant mashed potatoes (they actually taste good and save LOTS of time).
-The discovery of price matching.
-That after 4 years of trying we finally had a lovely crop of home grown tomatoes.....and as a result...
-Homemade salsa
-Friendly neighbours that enjoy the sound of noisy children in the yard.
-That perseverance pays off and I can now make some pretty good pastry and therefore pies! (I love pie).
-Large bedrooms in a small house.
-Friends that drop in to visit that will look past the noise, mess and busyness of a large homeschooling family and enjoy a great chat, a cup of tea and little ones that will climb on thier lap.
-People in my life that encourage, challenge and inspire me.
-Finding blessings in everyday.
:)






Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Crash Course in Couponing




I am going to start this off by confessing that I am NOT a professional couponer and have fairly recently gotten into this thing of 'extreme couponing'.

Couponing takes some work, patience and observation but anyone CAN do it.
Really the initial start-up is what takes the most amount of time.

Ok here goes.
So, I've always really liked getting a good deal, seriously, who doesn't?
I've used coupons many times before but not like I am now.
Have you ever filled out those online surveys and they ask how often you use coupons? Well, I have and I was also clicking the "about once a week box". I don't even know if they have a "several per trip" or "1 coupon per item box" but that was my shopping trip today.

I did a small shopping excursion to Walmart today and I'll share my deals with you.

Pull-ups on Sale for $14.97 - $1.50 coupon = $13.47
Oasis Juice on Sale for $1 - 0.50 coupon = $0.50
Goldfish crackers on Sale for $2 - 0.50 coupon = $1.50 x 2
Crest toothpaste on Sale for $0.88 - $0.75 coupon = $0.13
Betty Crocker snacks on Sale for $2.50 - $1 and $0.75 coupons = $1.50 & $1.75
Toothbrush on Sale for $1.47 - $1 coupon = $0.47


I also had a coupon for $3 for Purex laundry detergent. Unfortunately, I forgot my Zellers flyer where it was on Sale. I was going to price match at Walmart and get it for free! (I do have to go to the mall tomorrow so I'll try to remember then).
Maybe you're wondering why I don't just go to Zellers and use the coupon there, which I could do. The reason being that it's easier and less costly (fuel) to shop at the store that is closer to me and carries most of what I need.

Total bill was $22.53. Total coupon savings $6.50 So with 6 items that's more than a dollar saved for each item. Yes, I'm obsessing.
This is not my most impressive trip but that's not what I'm going for here. This is an average trip and still I'm saving.
Notice that each item purchased was ON SALE and had a coupon.
This is the most important tip. Wait for the sale, then coupon in hand, make your purchase.


Mail to Home Coupons and Printable Coupons
save.ca
websaver.ca
brandsaver.ca
gocoupons.ca
smartcanucks
mrsjanuary
Get yourself registered on these sites and remember your password...or pick one that's easy for you to remember...nothing like getting locked out on a limited time coupon!
One tip for websaver - you must have a MINIMUM of 3 coupons chosen to have them sent to you. This is a site that many companies will go through with new coupons so don't 'click' on all of them or you may not have enough available when something comes up that you really want. Choose wisely.




Tear Pads


These are ones you have to actually go 'out and about' to look for.
If you have a YIG (Your Independent Grocer) or something similar you will find inside the doors a large board with tear pad coupons. The ones at YIG are specifically for those store chains (Loblaws). Other store like Shoppers Drug Mart and Foodland also have tear pads. Some of these can be used at any store because they are a manufacture coupon - others are store coupons.


Free Samples
Links to these can also be found on some of the sites mentioned. Recently there have been many pages on facebook that if you 'like' them you can get a free sample or you are linked to one of the other sites to receive a coupon.
You can also try Free Samples Canada

Price Matching
I was seriously scared to do this the first time but I did it. I also had an awesome cashier ;) You can save so much just by price matching alone!
Here's how: If you're doing your regular shopping at say No Frills but you see great deals available in the Metro and Food Basics flyers, take said flyers with you (please make sure they are current), pick up the items (same as in the flyers, pay attention here too) and have the store 'MATCH' the price in the flyer. INSTANT SAVINGS! Note: Not all stores will price match. It does say on the store flyers if they price match. FYI No Frills, Freshco and Walmart DO price match.


Swapping
Here's where it gets fun! Find some people in your area that would also like to start couponing in earnest. A mix of people at different stages of life is great! Not everyone needs coupons for diapers and dog food, this means you will have coupons that others would love and vice versa. I have been getting together weekly with a bunch of fabulous ladies that are keen on scoring deals and sharing tips. It's also a fun evening out. :D

Online sites and Groups
So the mrsjanuary and smart canuck sites apply here.
Also, if you're on facebook you can 'like' Canadian Coupons / Free Samples Canada which will update on your newsfeed. Their website is Savealoonie This site will also link you to hidden coupons that are on some of the sites previously mentioned.

Flyers
If you don't get these delivered with a weekly paper then you may have to find these yourself like I do. Check your local variety store for a news stand or call your local paper. Flyers should be free. Yes, you can check them online, but then you cannot price match because you need to have flyer in hand to do that. Besides, there's something nice about sitting at your dining room table flyers spread out in front of you Sharpie (or colourful crayon in my case)in hand as you scour for deals! It's especially exciting when you find a deal that you KNOW you have a coupon (or two) for! SCORE. I unashamedly admit that this totally excites me! Seriously though, personal info here but we are a single income family of seven, we home school and my husband is currently on parental leave. Nuff said.

Etiquette
Please be honest.
Please be kind.
Please be considerate.
HONEST
Make sure that you KNOW what your coupon says.
Check the date. DON'T try to pass off expired coupons.
Check to make sure the product matches the coupon.
For example: My Betty Crocker fruit snacks $1 coupon said "For ANY Betty Crocker fruit product" Even thought it had Lightening McQueen on the front I was able to buy Spiderman. If it says ONLY for Lightening McQueen then that's what you buy.
Also check sizes or packaging. If it says 250mL or larger you can't get away with travel size. If it says ANY then ANY it is :)
KIND
This would apply to the cashier and to other customers.
Cashiers WILL read the coupons, it's part of their job. Don't get snarky.
If the customers behind you start huffing and puffing perhaps you could smile kindly and offer them a coupon.
I've given people coupons when I've noticed they're purchasing an item that I have a coupon for and will not be using. They've been nothing but pleasant. Would you refuse money in your pocket?
CONSIDERATE
Last month coupons came out on one of the online sites for a FREE box of Chocolate Cheerios. They were only available on June 21st. I had my trusty coupon in hand and got my free box. (not something I would regularly purchase but they were FREE, ahem).
I later heard on a facebook group that there were some women that got DOZENS of these free boxes. Ok, so to me that's kinda ugly. Don't go making up ALL KINDS of fake alias's and email accounts.
I'm pretty sure these things do get monitored and it would really suck if the people that are abusing these policies got caught and ruined it for the rest.
Find a friend, neighbour family member that you can send coupons that will share with you!
Also, when it comes to tear pads, please don't rip off half the pad and shove it in your purse. Yes, take more then one, take 6 even (always good to get a COUPLE extra to share or trade with others )but don't take the whole thing. That's greedy! There are other who would like to use them too. Consider that when your heart rate increases, your pupils dilate and your palms get sweaty as you spy the untouched tear pad just waiting for it's first rip!



A Few More Tips
You can sign up on sites like Pampers and Huggies and they will send you valuable coupons in the mail periodically.
Check magazines, for example "What's Cooking" from Kraft had a whole pamphlet of coupons in the last issue.
Mrs January had a list of when the Smart Source and Red Plum flyers come that are in the paper.
Also, many sites have free samples. Along with these free samples often come coupons - that $3 Purex coupon is one such coupon.
If there's a company that you like the product and can't find a coupon send them an email or call them...they might just send you one. It doesn't hurt to ask.
Remember that not all stores price match and several do not accept printed coupons.
Some stores (Walmart again topping the list) will even give you money back if the amount of your coupon exceeds the amount of the product.
Another helpful tip, if you have a coupon, but the item you want is not on sale and you don't NEED it right that minute....WAIT. It WILL come on sale again. What I've been told is that items come on sale roughly every 3 months, maybe even sooner. (Do you know how much toilet paper and toothpaste I'm starting to stockpile because it keeps coming on sale and I keep getting coupons?!)
Another tip from my master couponer friend A. Take along a roll of Scotch tape. When you pick your product of the shelf tape your coupon onto it and voila! Ready for check-out!
Remember - just because you Have a coupon does not mean you Have to use it. It may not always be a deal.
If it's not something you're going to even use then it's probably not worth the purchase.

You might want to get yourself a little accordion type folder....or...
When you start getting quite the stock pile of coupons invest in a binder and some trading card holders (3 ring). You can find them cheap at Dollarama (sorry no coupon) like my shown here.


Like I said before, I am in no way an expert...I'm still learning but enjoying the journey to "Master Couponer" (kidding).
I'm sure there are things that I've missed and others that I have yet to learn. It will come. Maybe after a while there will be a sequel blog to this one about new experiences and stories that you share with me.

If you have any questions or words of wisdom I would love for you to share.
Let me know if you start up your own coupon swaps too! I'd love to hear about it.

Have fun and Happy Couponing!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Adjectives

The other day I was discussing with my husband how I sometimes feel liked I've missed out on things (or others may perceive that I've missed out) by not going to college or university. I did go to Bible school but not so much for educational purposes as for personal and spiritual growth.
I suppose it was a 'woe is me' moment that my wonderful hubby was quick to discern and dispel.
Also, I still fight with caring too much of what others think.
Jed was fabulous for pointing out that I should be happy to be a 'life learner'.
Also the Bible is the only book that you can read over and over again and constantly be learning new things from. It convicts and instructs, encourages and challenges and draws us closer to our Creator and His purposes for us.
As Aslan says (Chronicles of Narnia) also another favourite of Jed's to quote...we are not to ask "what if". That's not the path we have chosen so it's not for us to know(this is not the direct quote but my paraphrase).
This is the path I have chosen and most days I love where I am.
It's just like God to throw in some humorous encouragement and proof that I am doing well in this path. I do not take credit for teaching my children everything that they know...believe me, they absolutely ASTOUND me often!
Here's one such story.
We did much studying on grammar this year with both Dane and Adelaide working with .First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind
While Winter did not do very much'school' this year as in book work, she was around often enough to pick up quite a bit of information.
We also borrow videos like School House Rock and DVD's from the library. The children were watching one just the other day.


Yesterday my parents came for a visit. My dad and Dane were playing Cribbage together (I've been teaching Dane and Addie...it's great for math ;D) and the rest of us were here and there. Winter brought an alphabet puzzle to the table and was playing with it. Elsa and my dad joined her at some point and they were naming the letters and making sounds. (my dad multi-tasks) At one point Winter tapped Jed and said "Look! I spelled adjectives!" Of course it's not spelled correctly but I was flabbergasted just the same. I've often said that Winter has been learning by osmosis and this is just more proof. I love it!

Perhaps if I had gone and gotten that higher education we may not have as much debt, but we may have more.
Our children wouldn't have to wear hand-me-down clothes and ride hand-me-down bikes and live in a tiny house.
But I may have felt an obligation to have a 'good' high paying job so we could both make lots of money and live comfortably instead of us making the choice for me to stay home with the kids.
I'm not bashing education, having a second income, or women working out of the home, truly I'm not. I guess that's the "what if" that doesn't need to be known.
I love learning with our kids, seeing the 'aha' moments and teaching them that adjectives are the words that describe nouns.
I'm also pro higher education. I just don't think that I should feel like lesser of a person or unqualified to educate my children because I don't have a degree.
I am a domestic engineer! Even more that that though, I am striving for a higher goal and a higher calling. Check out Proverbs 31.
If you need to learn about adjectives...try some School House Rock.
If you need to learn about everything else...try the Bible :D

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

32

So tomorrow is my birthday.
I thought I would share some things about the 'me' that I am right now.

I already told you how old I'll be.
I kinda make faces when I say thirty-two but really it's just a number. I don't think it has actual implications on how 'old' I feel or what types of things I should be allowed to do/not do. Yes, there are extremes to all situations but I don't think my age should define what music I listen to, which clothes I choose to wear, how loud I might laugh (I've been told I'm pretty loud) or which people I choose to spend my time with.

I'm always learning new things...and I love it!
Yes, this includes learning about life but we are always learning about life.
This also applies personally because we're a homeschooling family.
I'm learning too that this is not just "what we do" but it really is "who we are".
It may sound strange but it's the best way I can define HSing for us right now.
I'm learning how to reduce fractions to their lowest number, I learning to diagram sentences (this is a first time learn for me), I'm learning about seeds and how they grow and that all caterpillars have 16 legs (who knew?...not me, or if I did it certainly wasn't information I retained for very long).

I'm also learning more about myself.
I am an emotional person. Very.
To be truly honest about this I always felt that my emotional part of me was my weakness. I hate confrontation and often cry in such circumstances. Little things make me tear up and if you dare put heart tugging music to a sweet or sad video clip I guarantee I'll need a kleenex.
Recently though, I've come to realize that my emotions are not a fault, a weakness or something to be ashamed of. They are a very big part of what makes me, me.
If I try to hold back in this area then I am holding back and suppressing a large part of myself. I'm not saying that I should allow my emotions to lead me, not at all, but I don't have to be sorry for tearing up when I read a sappy card or when I watch a favourite movie or when the Pastor shows a video clip that's intended to make half the congregation bawl I'm right there with ya! and it's really ok.

I'm mommy. I'm mommy to 5 beautiful little people. They are all very much their own selves which brings both challenges and huge rewards. They love me, they love my husband and they love each other. This just warms my heart. I love to see them interact with each other. They work out difficulties, the older ones help to dress the younger ones, they giggle and tickle and read to each other. They finish each others sentences! They know how to share.Seriously, a large family living in a very small space HAS to learn this quick!
Sometimes I find the responsibility overwhelming but not for long.
I once asked my grandmother - a mother of 6 - how she 'did' it.
At one point she had 4 very small children at home and my grandpa worked out of town for a week at a time or longer. Her answer to me was "you just do what you have to do." It's seems simple but that's just the way it is.

I'm flawed. Yes, it's true. But I'm not alone either ;)
There are areas in my life where I think I am very obviously flawed and there are some that are not so visible. Regardless, I'm trying to work out all areas but these things take time, love, hard work and a whole lotta Prayer!

From reading the blog of a friend I realized that I also have hugging issues.
You can read about hers here.
This is something that I am working through because it hasn't always been the case but I think I may have found the cause - or at least a big part of the cause.
Shortly after my first child was born, we took him for a visit to see some family members. On arrival one of these family members (my family member) hugged me. As this person's arms were wrapped around me they gave me a pat and said "My! You're a big woman now!" No joke. Those are the exact words and they have been seared into my heart and mind for more than eight year now (remember those emotions?? yup, suppressed).
Unfortunately, I am still a 'big woman' but I am seriously trying to get myself to a healthy place. It's a long road and the kitchen is my main battle ground but with God as my help and with my very supportive friends I will do it.

Just a few days ago my husband and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary!
It has definitely been a time of tremendous growth and change and I've had such a wonderful man to share them with. I love you Jed! Even though I'm not always huggy ;)

It's been nice to take this moment to reflect today because as I look back over the last 11 years I see how much I have changed. I often think 'we were SO young' and 'who would have thought we'd have 5 kids!' Now I will be able to check back at this blog and smile with satisfaction when I have rock hard abs (major lol's here).

You might ask "How do you have 30 minutes to sit down an type this uninterrupted?"
Ah, well, the hubster is out with the 3 oldest (shopping for my birthday!!) while the two youngest are NAPPING!
You see, they may be few and far between but I do get the odd cherished moment to myself.

Blessing to you! Hope you enjoyed my reflective thoughts.
Care to share yours?