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Monday, July 21, 2014

Cucumber Salsa - Yum!

    I love when I'm able to get recipes that use my garden ingredients.  About 3 years ago is when I was able to get this recipe, during a college research class.  It was the last day of class and we had a potluck since our classes were in the evening during dinner time.  A classmate brought in some salsa.  It was delicious.  The only thing I couldn't figure out was what he used for a liquid.  After some convincing, he rattled off the ingredients so fast and how to make it.  Lucky for me...I have a memory. 

   Over the years, I have played with the recipe.  I omitted the jalapeno and switched the white onion for a red onion.  Voila!  A brand new recipe that is to die for.  Kids love it too.  

So here we go!




Ingredients:

1 Jumbo cucumber or 2-3 store bought medium/large cucumbers
Tomatoes - I use the cherub tomatoes but any tomato will work.  Except roma.  They just don't have enough flavor.
1/2 - 3/4 of a red onion
2 garlic cloves minced
1/2 - 3/4 bunch of cilantro chopped
Salt
Sugar
Red Wine Vinegar



Start by chopping your cucumber.  You don't want huge chunks so make the pieces small.  You also do not want a lot of seeds.  If your cucumber has a lot of seeds, take them out.  After you chop your cucumber, add some salt.  Not a lot but enough to start drawing out some moisture.  We want our vinegar to soak into the cucumbers.  Plus the salt helps draw out any bitterness that the cucumber may have.




Add in your chopped onion.  Stir and look at the ratio.  I like a bit of heat to my salsa so I add more of the onion.  Adjust if you don't want a lot of onion and heat.



Add your chopped tomatoes.  Stir and look for a good ratio.  Remember the cucumber is our star so you don't want the tomato and onions to take over.


Add in your minced garlic and cilantro.  Stir.  Add some sugar - about 1 tablespoon and go around your bowl 3-4 times with the red wine vinegar.  Stir again.


Serve with any type of tortilla chips you'd like.  This salsa is so yummy and it is hard to stop eating.  There are so many flavors that happen and it is easy to finish an entire bowl between a few people in an afternoon.  Just ask my kids why they aren't hungry at dinner and they will tell you that they filled up on cucumber salsa!


Monday, June 30, 2014

DIY Passion Tea Lemonade

Many know me to not be a coffee drinker, so I rarely go to Starbucks.  Maybe for the occasional cup of tea, but those are few and far between.  Which brings me to Friday.

Our local grocery store has a Starbucks inside with a nice chalkboard sign outside that lets customer's know what is going on.  The sign caught my eye with their new Teavana Blackberry Mojito Green Tea Lemonade.  Yum!  I'm a huge fan of Teavana and we stop by any time we are at the mall to grab a sample of their tea's.  So naturally my interest was piqued when Starbucks had teamed up with Teavana.

After doing some shopping, I stopped by to see what they had.  After hearing all of their choices - which there are many - I settled on a Passion Tea Lemonade with a shot of blackberry.  Delicious!  Price, for a venti, was almost $4.  That part...not so delicious.  Yet I was satisfied with the taste.

I couldn't stop talking about it.  Hubby indulged my quest to make my own.  Off to Teavana we go!!
The tea Starbucks uses for theirs is supplied by Teavana.  It is the Passion Tango herbal tea.  Price is $6.98 for 2 oz. and you can get 25-30 teaspoons from it!

I've heard you can do the same thing with the Tazo tea bags but I'm such a fan of the loose leaf tea.  So gather your supplies and get ready for such a fun summer drink!

Supplies:
Tea pitcher or tea ball
Loose leaf tea - I used 9 teaspoons for my tea pitcher.  For the tea ball, I just fill up one side of the tea ball.
Hot water
Container to mix drink
Ice
Sugar - I used Stevia but any sugar you like can be used
Lemonade

Here's what the tea ball looks like.  You can get one at Walmart for around $2 and works great for loose leaf teas.


I purchased this tea pitcher from Teavana.  Since then they have added a beautiful navy blue and salmon/pink color.  It holds 64 oz of water.


My lovely loose leaf tea.  Passion Tango from Teavana. 

Brew tea according to directions.  I used 9 teaspoons in my tea pitcher, heated up 64 oz of water, and let the tea steep for 5-6 minutes.  You can serve directly over ice, but my suggestion is to let it cool some.  Stick it in the fridge to help cool it down faster.


A nice roomy container helps so that you can shake it really well.  Stirring doesn't give it the same zing.


Ice, Ice, Baby!  Lots of ice.  I add about 5 cubes and then add more after I've mixed it.


1T of sugar.  More or less to your desire. I used stevia here.  I like how it tastes in my tea.  I've also used organic cane and the german rock sugar as well.  My least favorite is the rock sugar.  It just takes to long to disolve and doesn't give the sweetness that I'm looking for.


Brewed tea and lemonade



Pour your sugar into the bottom of your container.  I found by doing this, especially with stevia, that it dissolved better.


Put in your ice.  Remember just a few cubes as you can add more later.


Fill up container with lemonade. 1/4 - 1/3 of the way.  Less gives you more of a tea flavor. More gives you the tang of the lemonade.


Fill up the rest of your container with your brewed tea (cooled or not). Cover, shake, and serve. Yummy!

Directions:
1. Brew tea according to instructions and allow to cool.
2. Add sugar and ice to bottom of container.
3. Fill container up 1/4 - 1/3 of the way up with lemonade.
4. Fill up with brewed tea.
5. Shake and serve!


Pricing:

4 oz of tea from Teavana - $16
Large container of lemonade - $3

I used 9 teaspoons of the tea, which is such a minuscule amount, and was able to fill up 5 venti cups and this quart container.  You can find really good lemonade on sale which will save money there.  I had a big 89 oz container and used very little.  Granted it is gone as the kids like lemonade.

So there you go.  Another success of the day.  Great drink plus saving money!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Growing up!

Why does this have to happen?  I swear that this little dude was just a cute little baby in my arms!  The past 8 years have just flown by.  He wants to grow up so fast and I want time to slow down.

We had an awesome day.  When he woke up, he was too excited to wait for pancakes :( .  I wanted pancakes but he wanted his presents.  Oh well.  You'd think that it was the other two boys' birthday as well.  Luckily A is so easy going that he let his brothers help open up the gifts (I'll add them when I find my camera.  Kiiidddsss!)

After that we all got ready and headed to a local candy store.  We had an epic parenting fail.  Learn from us...when you are taking the kids to a store, any store, and plan on buying them something, either set a price and/or quantity limit.  We did neither.  LB and Hud went at the store like a free for all.  A on the other hand asked.  He's such a good kid.  Steve and I looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders and said "Just go for it kids."  Talk about excitement.  Needless to say, we spent a lot of money on candy.  Shhh!  Don't tell mom.

We came home, ate lunch, played some Minecraft and built some Minecraft paper crafts and took a nap.  While the kids were resting/napping, Steve and I battled some at Wii sports.  I kicked his butt at baseball (Um Hello!?  8 years of softball and the skill is still there!), a few games of tennis, and then he wiped the floor with my face in bowling.  We are competitive with each other and LOVE IT!

Dinner that evening was at Red Lobster.  A has been asking for Red Lobster for 2 years.  This year his request was granted and he got to pick out his own lobster.  He almost ate the eye but was little weirded out by it.  He needs to watch some more Andrew Zimmern.  We let him indulge.  8 years old is a pretty important birthday.

To end the dinner, we had ice cream and brownies followed by a trip to Barnes and Noble for his cookie and a book.  Our kids always get to pick out a new book on their birthday.  Mom and dad get no say in the book and they always come home excited.




*A with his cooked lobster ready to dive in!

I didn't even look at my cleaning list today.  No need to.  It was a day dedicated just to A.  Will every birthday be like this?  No.  Did I go out of my budget? Yes, but I'm learning...still.  He had a great time and I hope the memories are ones he cherish.  I bet they will because he didn't even beg to have a friends birthday party.  I hate parties.  They are not my forte!

Success of the day - No meltdowns.  Laundry and dishes are piled up but the kids are happy. We played together, snuggled together, ate together, and were loud together.  A great birthday indeed.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Different Path

     I decided it was time to take my journey into a different direction - a different path.  While Moon Orchid Motifs is the name of my business, it is also me helping out mom's as well.  

     As moms, we are busy!  What an understatement.  I know many days I feel like I'm just treading water.  Other days...well I'm just trying to keep my head above water while trying to maintain this ideal of what a stay at home mom, homeschooler, and small business owner is that I've built into my head.  Then at the end of the day, I look into the mirror, sigh, and critique myself on all the failures of the day. 

     In reality, this is unfair.  It is unfair to my psychological and emotional well-being, unfair to my husband who thinks I rock at this job, and unfair to my children.  My children!  What am I teaching them really?  Actions often speak louder than words.  I'm pretty sure it is unfair to the Lord who really has given me all these talents and abilities, and at the end of the day, I haven't given an ounce of thanks.  I'm not leading the full life that my children deserve to see and that full life starts with me, and maybe you (if you are following), achieving success one step at a time (like my tag line :)).  

     I have to stop beating myself up over the stuff that didn't happen that day. Will it be hard?  Of course, but change is always hard and always worth it.  Even though my list of things to accomplish during the day is a mile long, it is time to focus on the small successes that happen. Those are the "one step at a time" items that will lead to bigger things.  

     I'm not perfect.  Some of the blogs I follow are unrealistic for me.  While I'm sure they have their moments during the day and they only show their readers what they want, it still paints this unrealistic picture in my head and probably many others.  I just want a normal blog.  Normal family. Normal challenges.  Nothing unrealistic.  So here is the start of a new journey.  A journey, a path, that I hope brings much happiness to me but also to anyone who stumbles across this blog and finds themself in the same situation and just wants to feel normal and not any less than what they are because as moms....we rock it pretty hard!


Friday, May 11, 2012

Self Control and Discipline

How many of us struggle with being disciplined and maintaining self-control?  This can be with anything.  Shoes, shopping, food, the list goes on.  It's hard to maintain discipline and self-control yet what do you get when you take the easy road?  You get in debt, fat, depressed, stressed, miserable, anxious, angry.  Then you vow to change and you fail again.  Am I right?  So what can we do to change that?

Well first off, quit trying to climb Mount Everest.  Try climbing a smaller hill first.  How does this equate to debt?  Well it didn't take you overnight to accumulate it all.  It accumulated over time.  Just like it takes time to climb Mount Everest, it will take time to get rid of it.

So how do you begin?  START SMALL.

Hubby (who is so conveniently going to be called The Man from now on) and I were talking the other night.  We struggled and continue to struggle with self-control and discipline.  It is a life long journey and one that is very fulfilling.  You must make conscious decisions.  Continuing on, we were talking about the areas that we sometimes nickel and dime ourselves in.  We figured it has come to soda and my very bad habit of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.  (What can I say.  They are delicious and remind me of my childhood).  So The Man and I came up with a plan that we will only buy soda and the Reese's on grocery shopping days.  We won't go out at 7 p.m. at night to get some.  This way we budget it into our grocery budget and stop spending our blow money.

This is my small hill.  I can do this because 1. we go grocery shopping once a week and 2.  It's a very short time span between grocery trips that I can practice self-control and discipline.

So my challenge to you is to find your hill.  Start small and work at it.  It won't get easier if you don't work at it.  It is just like exercise.  You can't expect to run 3 miles right off the bat.  You have to work at it.  Every day you work at it it gets easier.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Emergency Fund

Let me start this off by posing some questions:

1. Have you had your car or something in your house break and wonder "Now how am I going to pay for that?"

2.  Have you had to put these emergencies on a credit card or ask family for money?  Or even worse...did you have to go to the bank and get a loan?

Did you know that these could have been avoided?

This is where your Emergency Fund comes in.  It is also known as the Rainy Day Fund.  Why?  Well because it will rain.  Sometimes it'll even flood but if you have that money there, it isn't so stressful.  I say 'isn't so stressful' because emergencies suck.  They SUCK!  They suck even more when the money isn't there.

As you already know, I'm a big Dave Ramsey fan.  I'm an even bigger fan of his baby steps.  Why?  Because he uses logic and science to back it up.  So he always touts the Emergency Fund because it will rain and there will be an emergency.

So what does Dave Ramsey suggest? He suggests a $1000 Emergency Fund.  To some of us, including my hubby and I, $1000 was a lot of money to save up.  But you can do it.  Once again YOU. CAN. DO. IT.  Which do you get more reward out of?  Taking the easy way or something that challenges you?  I hope you get more of a reward out of something that challenges you.  When we challenge ourselves and achieve it, we feel good about ourselves.  Our self-esteem is boosted, our endorphines are flowing and we feel we can take on the world.  And that is a good thing.  So saving for an Emergency Fund is going to be hard.  Especially if you were never taught to save or had bad examples of how money was suppose to be managed while growing up.

So how do you get an Emergency Fund built up?  Well it isn't going to magically appear, that's for sure.  You are going to have to work at it.  You are going to have to be disciplined.  You are going to have to change some habits.  It is going to be hard work that has such a great reward you will be so proud of yourself.  Remember how we talked about the budget?  Well, once you know where your money is going, you will be able to know where you can "trim the fat" and that extra money goes to help you build up your Emergency Fund.

When the rain decides to come, and it will, you will be happy it is there.  You'll feel more in control.  It is often said that the more controling someone is, the more out of control and chaotic their life is.  I know that for sure.  I've been there.  Still am there sometimes.  I am by no means perfect and I still have to work on changing habits.  By having an Emergency Fund, you will feel much more in control.  Especially when it rains.  To share how important an Emergency Fund is, I'll give you a glimpse of how our last week went:
 - Hubby hit deer with the car
 - School bill came in
 - Our A/C went out

S.T.R.E.S.S. Big time.  First off, I'm just glad my hubby was ok.  That deer was shredded and I can only thank God that the deer went under the car and not up into my hubby's lap.  Second, the school bill we knew was coming. Not really an emergency.  Third, that stupid A/C.  On a new house too.  I was so livid, BUT we had our Emergency Fund.  Was it stressful? Of course.  Now we are on the baby step of getting it built back up.

I often think to myself "What would we have done if we didn't have that Emergency Fund?"  Honestly, I have no clue.  All I can do is thank God that Dave Ramsey and his baby steps came in our life when it did.  I hope that I'm doing the same for you.

So now I challenge you to challenge youself.  Get that Emergency Fund in place.  Don't touch it unless an emergency happens.  It'll be tempting but you'll be so much happier with no regrets.  Let's live it that way.  No Regrets.  No more buyers remorse because you really didn't have the money in the first place.  I'll be here with you every step of the way.  I'm sure I'll even shed some tears on here.



New Wallets

This first one had some minor errors.  I don't undo my stitching unless absolutely necessary as I do not want to weaken the fabric.  So this one went into the clearance section.  Perfectly functional just some stitching that is off.  So it is $30.00+$5.00 priority shipping.

 This next one isn't going into my Etsy shop.  It'll be at a local store where I live.  I do plan on making another one with the same fabrics.  I love how it turned out!