Yes, I'm a pastor's wife, but I suspect not all of my readers are Christian. I won't hold back on my beliefs, but I also won't shove religion at you. I try not to accept things just because they're told to me but read and research in order to make up my own mind. You'll find a random mix of stuff here, depending on what interests me at the moment. I like to read others' opinions, whether they agree with me or not, which means I love comments on my posts!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Menu Plan 9/29/2013

Yep, it's definitely a little easier to stick to my eating goals when I have a plan, even when I don't follow that plan exactly. I never got around to the spaghetti squash recipe, though I did take the receipt for the rotten one back to the store for a refund.

So this week. There's not much in the house besides vegetables. Veggies are good, but meals of only veggies? I would have one very unhappy husband. My plan tomorrow is grocery shopping that matches my menu.

Still a grain-free plan.

Kefir with fruit and honey

Salads -- tomato, carrots, and homemade Italian dressing
Tuna salad over lettuce
Leftovers -- planning to make an extra Hasselback sweet potato just for lunch

Snacks - just in case

1. Baked fish with steamed broccoli and fried squash
2. Omelets with tomatoes and peppers
3. Italian chicken (marinated in homemade Italian dressing) with sauteed okra and Hasselback Sweet Potatoes
4. Chicken stir fry -- pan-cooked chicken bites and veggies in soy sauce (broccoli, squash, and carrots)
5. Crustless Pizza with side salad
6. Taco Potatoes

What's on your menu? For many more ideas, check out OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

30 Recipes that Add Vegetables to Breakfast

For breakfast, I grew up eating things like muffins, pop-tarts, cereal, donuts, and pancakes. Sweet things. Frosting could even be included if it was on a "breakfast" food like cinnamon rolls. Then I grew up and included fruit because I knew it was good for me. But usually the sweeter fruits like bananas, grapes, and strawberries dipped in powdered sugar. I've realized something over the past couple of years: I need to change my breakfast habits.

Vegetables are the hardest healthy thing for me to include on a regular basis. I like veggies. Really, I do. But if I have an option of fruit, something bready, or especially something sweet, veggies take a backseat.

I need more vegetables during breakfast. That's the conclusion I have come to, so I've been searching the internet today for recipes that sound delicious. And I didn't just find 1 that I'd like to try -- I found 30!

No big surprise, my first stop was the bread category. I'm still off of grains, but I figure I can find some recipes for the future.

Muffins and Pancakes
1. Power Packed Fruit and Veggie Muffin from Super Healthy Kids
2. Gluten-Free Maple Almond Zucchini Muffins from Gluten Free Goddess -- These are amazing! It's one of the few recipes listed here that I have already tried.
3. Pumpkin Bread from The Fresh Loaf
4. Mashed Potato Pancakes from Natasha's Kitchen
5. Carrot Cake Pancakes from Smitten Kitchen
6. Pumpkin Pancakes from Heavenly Homemaker
7. Winter Squash Waffles from Reader's Digest

Sandwiches and Wraps
8. Pancake Panini from Super Healthy Kids
9. Breakfast BLT from Natasha's Kitchen
10. Breakfast Burritos from The Pioneer Woman -- with potatoes and bell peppers
11. Easy Breakfast Burritos from Heavenly Homemaker -- with salsa
12. Breakfast Quesadillas from The Pioneer Woman -- with peppers and onion
13. Hash Brown-Crusted Mediterranean Quiche from Incredible Egg
14. Mini Crustless Quiche from Heavenly Homemaker -- Use the optional veggie add-ins
15. Sausage-Kale Breakfast Strata from The Pioneer Woman
16. Spinach Frittata from Simply Recipes
17. Baked Eggs with Spinach & Mushroom from Power Hungry -- If I ever decide to try runny yolks...
18. Veggie Scramble from Heavenly Homemaker
19. Tomato and Green Pepper Omelet from Taste of Home
20. Green Strawberry Kiwi Lemonade from Mind Body Green
21. Carrot Mango Smoothie from Power Hungry
22. Raspberry Cauliflower Smoothie from Here's the Dish
23. Kale Orange Banana Smoothie from AllRecipes
24. Key Lime Pie Smoothie from Cook at Paleo -- with avocado
25. Cherry Zucchini Smoothie from Pure Fitlosophy
26. Zucchini Fritters from Natasha's Kitchen
27. Johnsonville Sausage Potato Hash from AllRecipes -- with Russet potatoes
28. Sausage, Sweet Potato, and Bell Pepper Hash from McCormick Gourmet
29. Breakfast Crock-Pot Casserole from Heavenly Homemaker

And lastly, I added one of my own.
30. Fruit Salad with Pineapple Honey Glaze from Notes From a Pastor's Wife

What's your favorite way to add veggies in the morning?

Fruit Salad with Pineapple Honey Glaze

I posted it in my weekly menu but never got around to making it. I've stuck with smoothies instead since I have plenty of frozen fruit but very little fresh fruit in my kitchen right now. During the spring and summer, when fresh fruit is abundant, this fruit salad is my go-to dish to bring to potlucks and family dinners, though I usually skip the spinach and place it with the desserts when I'm taking it to other people.

The recipe is very versatile, so you can add or remove almost any fruit that you want. Grapes and blueberries are sweet additions. For a good presentation, try to include a variety of colors.

1/4 cup pineapple juice
1 tbsp honey
1 orange
1 apple
1/2 lb strawberries (~2 c)
1 kiwi, peeled
1 banana
1/4 of a whole pineapple, peeled and cored
1/4 c chopped nuts (almonds, pecans, or walnuts)

In a large bowl, whisk together the pineapple juice and honey until combined.
Dice the fruit into bite-sized pieces. Toss all of the fruit into the pineapple mixture. Note: The apple and banana need to be tossed with the juice immediately after cutting to avoid browning.
Add nuts and gently stir.

Serve over spinach. I didn't include an amount for the spinach because it seems everyone wants a different amount with the fruit. Some people love the taste of greens and others drown it with the fruit.

It's best served the same day, especially if using strawberries, as they tend to color the other fruits red.

This post is linked to Wonderful Food Wednesdays at Mom's Test Kitchen

Monday, September 23, 2013

Free Printables: Let's Make Like a...

My husband can be a strange man. Almost every time we leave home, he says "Let's make like a..." and finishes with something crazy. His current favorite is "Let's make like a baby and head out." It seemed only fitting to invite him to go out by using some of his favorite sayings, and in case you have a man or friends who enjoy them as much too, they're here as free printables.

They're sized as 4"x6" but there's a link at the bottom of the post for 5.25"x3.5" versions that all fit on 1 page. I uploaded them to Box, but you don't have to register with them to download the printables. Just a note: When the print box comes up, click "actual size" instead of fit to page.

There is room underneath each saying to write the details of the date, getaway, or outing. For example, with the tree invite, I'd write something like this:

You, me, and a picnic in the park
This Saturday for lunch
PDF download: Let's Make Like a Tree
And on the sunset, I might write:
Let's get away this weekend and head to the beach!
I've already talked to ____ about borrowing his timeshare.
Finally, for the tomatoes, I could write something like this:
I canceled my plans for Saturday evening
and have a babysitter lined up
(at least, that's what I'd write if we had kids...)
How about a date?
Or it'd be a great one to send to a friend:
It's been too long! Have any time on Friday to hang out?
PDF  Download: Let's Make Like a Tomato

Want them all? Here's a PDF with them all on 1 sheet. I shrunk them to 5.25" x 3.5" in order to fit on 1 page.
It's my first time attaching PDF files, and I'd love to read some feedback. Were you able to pull them up?

This post is linked with Turn it up Tuesdays on Epic Mommy Adventures.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Menu Planning 9/23/2013

I was really starting to feel better, and then I messed up. I figured one little bite of junk wouldn’t hurt me. But one bite led to another and another, and I realized again that I have no self-control when it comes to sweets and bready foods. Then I felt the consequences and remembered why I had decided to eat healthier in the first place.

The junk food in my home is synonymous with convenience food -- processed granola bars, cereals, cookies, etc. The things I can grab-n-go without dirtying any dishes. They were too tempting so I gave them away. It was weird looking at my pantry after that; there was no “food,” only ingredients.
I know myself well enough to know the only way I’ll stick to this is to make a plan – to figure out ahead of time how in the world I’m going to put these random ingredients together. My goal this week is to go heavier on the vegetables, moderate on the meats and fruits, and very little grains or sugar.

Green smoothies
Fruit salad - fresh fruit over spinach, with honey pineapple glaze
Sweet potato hash - I haven't decided how I want to do this yet. Maybe Maple Sweet Potato Hash from Iowa Girl Eats or something more savory like this Paleo Sweet Potato Hash with Kale from The Paleo Pathway.

Salad with a side of watermelon
Tuna salad on lettuce (except I've never tried dill weed in it like the recipe calls for)

Snacks, just in case
Carrots w/ hummus
Fresh figs with nut butter

--Veggie soup x3
--Cauliflower pizza bites
--Baked fish topped with butter, minced garlic, dried basil, and diced tomatoes. Fried squash and steamed broccoli on the side
--Spaghetti squash with roasted vegetable ragout from First Day of the Rest of Days (if I get a new squash)
We have a late family lunch on Sunday with my in-laws, so I usually don't prepare dinner for then. Leftovers or sandwiches will suffice. 

I’m scheduled to be at work at 6:00 AM. I don’t do well trying to prepare breakfast and lunch that early in the morning, so I’m going to prep as much as I can in advance. Preferably today.

Today’s Prep List
1. Make smoothie. Put some in fridge for tomorrow, and freeze the rest in individual servings. To thaw, I’ll put one in the fridge the night before I want it.
2. Dice tomatoes and carrots for salads
3. Make homemade Italian dressing for salads
4. Cook vegetable soup
5. Roast spaghetti squash – I was ready to do this but got a nasty surprise when I cut it open. It looked fine on the outside but had rotted straight across the middle on the inside. And it stunk!

Have you planned a menu for this week? What are typical meals for you? And do you make it a habit to prep food in advance?

Check out OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday for more menu ideas and organization tips.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

My Role as Wife

I can’t say I’ve truly been healthy since I’ve been married. As soon as one problem was under control, another problem showed up. And my amazing husband really has stuck by me through thick or thin these last 5 years. I finally started doing better around a year ago, and TK said “It’s so good to have my wife back.” I was so consumed with my own health problems that I didn’t see how much it was affecting him and our marriage. I’m finally taking control of my health and feel ready to be the best wife that I can be, the woman my husband should have. I love him enough to give him my best.

So I’ve been thinking: What kind of wife do I want to be? What kind of wife am I now, and what parts of that role are the most important to me?
1.      Respectful – Not degrading or patronizing, especially in front of others. After reading part of a marriage book, I asked my husband if he’d rather be told “I love you” or “I respect you.” He said respect. The book said most men will answer that way. News to me…

2.      Supportive – We watched John Q. recently. IMDB summarizes it as “A down-on-his luck father (Denzel Washington), whose insurance won't cover his son's heart transplant, takes the hospital's emergency room hostage until the doctors agree to perform the operation.” While he holds them hostage, the police negotiator talks to John Q.’s wife, but she refuses to help. She says she is on her husband’s side, not the negotiator’s, and will always be on his side. She refused to be used against her husband. She said it much better than I can summarize it, but I really liked her response.

3.      A helpmate – (Genesis 2:18) I want to help my husband achieve his goals and dreams. Being a helpmate also involves helping out with household chores. It's my least favorite part, but an important one for our sanity and marriage.

4.      A lover – Need I say more on this one?

5.      Nurturing – Preparing nourishing meals for our small family and, if we have any, raising kind-hearted, God-fearing children

6.      Intriguing – Keeping the marriage interesting and keeping my husband interested in me through occasional spontaneity, thoughtful conversations, and making an effort to spend quality time together (which is one reason we don’t have satellite, cable, or Netflix).

7.      An equal in decision-making, but with TK as the spiritual head of the household. Biblically, he is to be the head of our home, but that doesn’t give him the right to ever “put his foot down” or make a decision with the reason “because I said so.” I’m not going to stand behind him with my head down but will walk beside him, united in whatever we do and wherever we go.
If you’re married, are you where you want to be in your role as wife?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Frugal Way - What Works for Me

I recently looked at our household budget again, editing the things that have changed. After that, I started looking at more frugal and money-saving blogs.

My husband is an associate pastor, and I work in a bakery. We don't have the expense of kids yet, but we do have my student loan, his current college tuition, and a house payment. Neither of us make much, but fortunately I don't feel that we really do without. God has truly blessed us. We also cut corners in many areas so that we can occasionally splurge in other areas, while paying off the debt at the same time.

After reading part of the Prudent Homemaker's website and blog with her Frugal Accomplishments for each week, I started thinking about where my husband and I actually are frugal and where we could work harder. Here are some of our more recent frugal accomplishments:

1. I'm learning to cook more than just pasta and scrambled eggs. Now, we go out to dinner about every other month. I'm still working on figuring out lunch, since my other half sometimes spends it at the hospital waiting for a church member to get out of surgery. How do you get around going to the cafeteria? Pictured above is vegetable soup and cornbread. The heart-shaped pan was a freebie from Bed, Bath, and Beyond for having a wedding registry with them.

2. We leave the windows open when the weather is nice in order to save on the power bill. It dropped almost $50 just by opening them for a few days out of the month!

3. We dropped our health insurance and switched to Medi-Share. Neither of us have health insurance through work and paying out of pocket, even for a HIGH deductible, was a crazy amount. We're saving almost $100 per month by going through Medi-Share, and the deductible is half of what it was with insurance. Fortunately, we haven't had to use Medi-Share yet, so I can't give a review of whether it's a smooth process to get payment for medical care.

4. When I wrecked my truck last winter, the insurance money would have bought a car, but not necessarily a reliable one. It was too old of a truck to get enough out of it. So we bought a used motorcycle for my husband, and I drive his truck. We were able to pay cash for the bike out of the insurance money and do some much needed work on his truck. We're also saving on gas since he drives the bike almost 45 minutes one-way in order to attend school.

5. We garden. Sometimes this works well, and sometimes it doesn't. Each year, there are certain crops that do great and some that fail. This year, okra has outdone itself, but the corn was a bust. We save by not going for all the bells and whistles that can make gardening expensive, like premade beds, plant starts instead of seeds, and exotic plants (they don't do well here anyways).

6. I shop when the price is right. I have a wishlist of things I'd eventually like for our home, and our budget is flexible enough to allow the purchase when I find them for the right price. I'm also part of reward programs to any store that I might possibly shop at, since the savings can unexpectedly add up. Most can use a phone number instead of a card, so there's nothing for me to keep up with. Thanks to this, Sears' Shop Your Way Rewards program sent me a code for a free $20 worth of points when I redeem $20+ in points. So that's no money out of my pocket, but I get more points to redeem later? Yes please! I think I can find something at Sears off of my wishlist or Christmas present list.

7. We enjoy free entertainment. We took the plunge and cancelled satellite TV. We were spending too much "quality" time watching it rather than actually talking, and the promotional rate expired. Full price didn't fit into our budget. Now, we occasionally watch movies or TV online or rent a Redbox movie, especially when they send a mobile code for a free movie. We sometimes borrow movies from friends. Mostly though, we changed our view of entertainment. Walks in the park and reading a library book together are 2 things we have been enjoying with the TV off.

8. We tithe 10% and give extra each month. Our budget prevents things like elaborate vacations or a brand new car, but I will always give. Acts 20:35 records Jesus as saying "It is more blessed to give than to receive." There's even scientific proof to back it up!

I'm always (especially now!) looking for more ways to save $$$. What works for you?

*Medi-Share is a referral link. If you register through here, I will get some much-appreciated credit for it.

This post is linked to Joyous Notions Homemaking Blog Hop and Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Sinners in Church

I heard about a conversation recently of a woman who is undergoing a divorce. She doesn't want to go back to church right now because she's afraid people will see her as a hypocrite.
The biggest problem I have with that statement is that she's right. People will likely see her as a hypocrite. How often do we hear (or say...) "How can they go to church when they do that?"

It seems we have it backwards. In Mark 2:17, Jesus told the Pharisees "Healthy people do not need a doctor--sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners." I imagine a divorce is an incredibly difficult thing, especially for a Christian who believes it's not what God had planned for her. This is the time when she needs Jesus and the support of her Christian brothers and sisters the most. Healthy and supposedly righteous people don't need Christ. Sinners do (and we're all sinners).

If she goes back to church soon, she'll most likely attend with her head high as if nothing is wrong. The guilt and pain of the divorce will not be obvious, reinforcing the idea of a "hypocrite," of someone who follows Christ without acknowledgement of their own sin. It's what we as fellow church-goers force her to do when we talk behind her back or judge her.

Judgment isn't what she needs. Neither are sly glances or whispers of her sinful past. We are called to love, which is the one thing she needs.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

VBS 2013 - All in 1 Day

I've heard it said at plenty of church conferences and workshops: 10% of the people in church do 90% of the work. Vacation Bible School is no exception, and that's the main reason we decided to do it as a 1-day event. My husband and I did most of the planning, so having it only for a day saved some of my sanity. We were also hoping adults would be more apt to help if it weren't multiple evenings when they're already tired from work. Our hopes came true! More adults were willing to help this year, and more kids showed up. We hosted it on a Saturday from 11:00-4:00, though we could've ended at 3:00 and been fine.

DH and I came up with the curriculum: Fishers of Men. We decided on a modern-day setting of Jesus calling the disciples. We wanted to show that Jesus is still calling disciples today, with each one of us, and thought the modern-day setting would help drive the message home. Modern-day also meant we didn't have to find costumes or spend a bunch of time and money on decorations!

We set it up almost like a play that the kids were participants in. We began in the sanctuary, with the kids divided into family groups. That worked much better last year than the years they were divided by ages. The family groups varied in age so that siblings and friends could stay together, and older kids could help the younger. An adult and at least 1 teenager were part of each group. Everyone stayed together the whole day, but dividing into family groups made it easier to keep track of everyone, since I gave each adult a roster of their kids.

In the sanctuary, we had praise and worship and ice breaker Minute-to-Win-It type games. Then I stood behind the pulpit to "begin a message" when a man ran through the door. "There's this crazy man named Jesus out there! Ya'll have to come hear the wild things he's saying!" he yelled. So of course, we followed him outside.

A boat with a blue tarp around it to symbolize ocean waves was outside. Simon Peter and another disciple were gathering in their empty nets when Jesus walked up to ask for the use of his boat. Simon Peter grumbled but agreed, and Jesus taught a message from the boat to the kids. It was HOT, so thankfully someone had let us borrow a tent to set up earlier for the kids to stand under through this.

At the end of the message (and Simon Peter pulling up fish with his net), Matthew ran over and excitedly invited everyone to his home for a celebration, with Jesus as the guest of honor. We walked to the gym where lunch was set out on a banquet table. It was a simple lunch of hot dogs, chips, cookies, and brownies, but it was decorated very elegantly (kudos to our decorator who has done some catering and has lots of fancy/pretty things!).

Before beginning the meal, Matthew gave a brief testimony of how he was a tax collector and a cheat, who nobody liked, but Jesus accepted him anyways. Jesus spoke briefly of how everyone, no matter what they've done, can be followers of Jesus. As the kids were finishing eating, a Pharisee stood and demanded "Why is Jesus eating with these sinners?!" Jesus told the story of the prodigal son and reiterated that God loves everyone.

Next, the family groups went to different areas of the gym where one of the older teenagers were waiting. The teenagers told the rest of the story, of how Jesus died on the cross for each one of us. They led the kids in a prayer of salvation if they wanted to follow Jesus.

Finally, we met back in the sanctuary for a little more music, follow-up questions, and prizes. Then it was time for water games!

The kids stayed with their family group and rotated between the water games, which were led by the teenagers and young adults. We did the same games as 2011, with the addition of Water Balloon Baseball. The family group was divided into 2 teams. To start, 1 team batted (with a plastic whiffle bat) and 1 team pitched the water balloons. The pitcher tried to throw a balloon into a bucket, and the batter stood next to the bucket to try and hit the balloon. Each kid had a turn pitching twice and batting twice. The team who got the most balloons into the bucket won.

It was hot and sunny so all of the water games were a hit, but the water slide was the favorite...just a tarp, a water hose, and some baby shampoo.