Enter your e-mail address below to have new blog posts sent directly to your inbox!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Organic and Natural Foods Printable Coupons and Deals


The following grocery deals are for the Dayton, OH and surrounding areas. If you spot a great deal on natural or organic foods or find a new printable coupon, be sure to let me know so I can spread the word. This is a weekly feature that will be posted on Mondays. Some prices are weekly advertised prices and others are unadvertised sales with varying end dates.

This Week's Deals

KROGER
20% off Simple Truth Natural and Organic Chicken (select varieties)
-$1 off Simple Truth Natural Chicken coupon found on store display
$2.99 Simple Truth Organic Milk
$1.50 Driscoll's Raspberries or Blackberries (Organic $2)
$1.67 Driscoll's Strawberries (Organic $2)
Printable Coupon at www.driscolls.com when you sign up for e-mails
$3.99 Clementines, 3 lb.
$1.69 Broccoli
$1.00 Fage Greek Yogurt
$1.25 Santa Cruz Organic Lemondade, 32 oz.
$2.99 Kroger Cheese blocks, 16 oz.
$1.99 Kroger Butter, 1 lb.
$3.00 Garden of Eatin' Tortilla Chips
$2.50 Kettle Brand Potato Chips
8/$10 Annie's Homegrown Mac-n-Cheese
$1.67 Private Selection Whole Wheat or Regular Organic Pasta, 16 oz.
$2.39 Kroger Organic Sugar, 24 oz.
$4.19 Florida Crystals Sugar
2 printable coupons listed below
$3.50 Barbara's Bakery Cereal, all varieties
$3.00 Muir Glen Organic Salsa
-$1.00 off 2 peelie coupon on select jars
$3.19 Private Selection Organic Frozen Fruit
$2.79 Breyer's Ice Cream (look for flavors with 5 ingredients or less)
*Save $.30 when you purchase any 10 participating Mega Sale items
$1.79 Green Giant Frozen Vegetables (look for veggies w/no sauce)
*Save $.30 when you purchase any 10 participating Mega Sale items
$3.99 Hormel Natural Choice Nitrate-Free Bacon
$3.29 Hormel Natural Choice Nitrate-Free Lunch Meat
$4.99 Aidells Chicken Sausages
-$1.00 coupon found in Kroger My Magazine

MEIJER
$1.79 Daisy Brand Cottage Cheese or Sour Cream (rBST free!)
3/$4 Blackberries, Raspberries or Strawberries (Organic $2.50)
$.99/lb. Peaches or Nectarines (Organic $1.99/lb.)
$2.88/lb. Cherries
$1.50 Blueberries
$3.29 Organic Portabella Cap Mushrooms
$2.00 Kraft Chunk Cheese or Natural Cheese Slices
$3.50 Galbani or BelGioioso Fresh Mozzarella (rBST free!), 7-8 oz.
BOGO Salemville Blue Cheese or Gorgonzola Crumbles, 4 oz.
$3.99 Stella Fontina Cheese, 7 oz. (Great for fondue!)
3/$4 Kraft Philadelphia Cream Cheese, 8 oz. brick or tub
$3.99 Sargento Natural String Cheese
$6.49/lb. Pisachios or Walnuts, 1 lb.
$4.99/lb. Raw Almonds, 1 lb.
$1.79 Simply Heinz Ketchup (HFCS free!)
$3.00 Breyer's Ice Cream (look for flavors with 5 ingredients or less)
15% off Lipton Tea, all varieties
$1.00 Ronzoni Healthy Harvest Whole Wheat Pasta, 1 lb.
2/$3.00 Meijer Organics Pasta, 1 lb.
All Simply Organic Spices, extract, etc.on Price Drop thru 7/8
-$.50/1 and $1/2 coupons HERE (PDF coupons--unlimited prints!) 
2.50 Seventh Generation Spray Cleaners for kitchen & bath
$3.59-$3.79 Barbara's Bakery cereals (some in cereal aisle and some in gluten-free aisle)
$1.50 Meijer brand dry bagged beans (all varieties) 1 lb.
$2.69 Meijer Organics frozen bagged veggies
$2.50 Stonyfield YoBaby or YoToddler yogurt, 4 pk
-$.50/1 coupon at www.stonyfield.com (Look for "Coupons" in upper right corner)

ALDI (Don't forget that Walmart and Target will price match!!)
$1.99 Pineapple, each
$1.49 Blueberries, pint
$1.49 Cantaloupe
$1.29 Strawberries, 16 oz.
$3.49 Seedless Watermelon, each
$1.68 Peaches, Plums or Nectarines, 2 lb. bag
$5.99 Jennie-O Turkey Burgers, 3 lb. box
$3.99 Pure Canadian Maple Syrup, 8 oz. (reg. price)


PRINTABLE COUPONS ~ New coupons added each week!
$1 off Pom Wonderful
$1 off McCann's Irish Oatmeal
$.65 off Florida Crystals Sugar
$.75 off Santa Cruz Organic Applesauce ($1.99 min. purchase)
$.75 off Santa Cruz Organic Soda 4 pk. ($2.49 min. purchase)
$2 off Applegate Farms Organic Hot Dogs (Facebook offer)
$.55 off Stonyfield Kids Organic Greek Yogurt ($1.10 off when you "like" them on Facebook)
Lots of great printables HERE for Stonyfield Farms yogurt & dairy products ($.50 off 1 qt, $.50 off YoBaby, $.50 off YoKids Squeezers)
$1 off Kiss My Face Deodorant (Facebook offer)
$.75 off any Earthbound Farms product (says $.75 off strawberries on website but reads "good on any" when printed)
$1 off one DeLallo Whole Wheat Pasta and $1 off one EVOO
$.75 off any Newman's Own Organic Chocolate Bar
Several Simply Organic spice, seasoning and extract coupons HERE (These are PDF coupons with unlimited prints!!)


Click HERE for the coupons listed below!
$.60 off any half-gallon or larger Silk Milk (Soy, Almond or Coconut)
$1 off one Morningstar Farms Veggie Product
$1 off Newman's Own Salad Dressing
$1 off one Seeds of Change organic product
$1 off one half-gallon Silk Pure Almond Milk
$.65 off one bottle of Domino Organic Agave Nectar
$1 off one Gud product from Burt's Bees
$.55 off Florida Crystals Sugar
$.75 off 3 Larabars
$1 off one So Delicous Dairy-Free product

I'd love some feedback on this new post. Is it user friendly? Do you shop at other stores that I could add in the future? Are you pleasantly surprised with the number of printable coupons listed?

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. I will try my hardest to share "the best of the best" deals, but just because a product is listed here doesn't mean I necessarily endorse it or purchase it for my own family. If you feel strongly that a product listed shouldn't be considered "natural" or "organic", please let me know. Do NOT post these deals on your own blog or website without first getting my permission and then linking back to my site. Reach me via e-mail at these_precious_days@yahoo.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ThesePreciousDays.

Meal Plan Monday ~ June 25-July 1


Here is what's on the menu at our house this week. Items in RED are on sale at one of our local grocery stores and/or I used a great printable coupon. Items in BLUE are recipe links.

Monday: Crispy Chicken Dinner Salads w/Ranch Dressing (Chicken Nuggets for the kids), Homemade Yeast Rolls, Raspberry Iced Tea


Tuesday: Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce and Meatballs, Farmers' Market Green Beans, Lemon Berry Tart (Recipe coming SOON!)

Wednesday: White Chicken Chili, Fruit Smoothies w/Blueberries, Bananas, Yogurt and Kale (shhh!!)


Thursday: Grilled Grass-fed Cheeseburgers, Raw Veggies with Homemade Sour Cream Ranch Dip, Watermelon Slushies, No-Guilt Chocolate Chip Cookies


Friday: Fondue Night!!
             Cheese Fondue with Bread, Meatballs, Chicken, Broccoli,    
             Cauliflower and Farmers' Market Asparagus
             Chocolate Fondue with Strawberries, Cherries, Bananas,
             Marshmallows, Graham Crackers

Saturday: (Breakfast) Whole Grain Buttermilk Pancakes, Turkey Sausage Patties, Fruit and Yogurt Parfaits

Sunday: Teriyaki Lime Chicken Kabobs, Avocado and Grilled Corn Salad
Pineapple Mango Fruit Pops

www.authenticsuburbangourmet.blogspot.com

What's for dinner at your house this week? Share your meal plan in the comments section below!


I'm linked up at:

I'm an Organizing Junkie

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

"Sponge Bob" Water Bombs



Once again, I cannot take credit for coming up with this idea! I totally stole this idea from Pinterest, although I have also seen these water bombs in Family Fun magazine. Jackson, my 5 year old, decided these should be called "Sponge Bob" water bombs. Call them whatever you like--they're cheap, quick to make, completely reusable, way less annoying than water balloons and provide TONS of cool backyard fun!

I bought our sponges at the Dollar Tree in a package of 3 for $1. I bought 4 packages and we made 6 balls (2 sponges per ball). A friend of mine said that she used cheap dollar store sponges and hers fell apart after a few uses. She recommended the O-cello brand sponges, which she bought at Target. We've used our "Sponge Bob" water bombs about 3 times and so far they are holding up great.

For bigger water bombs, cut the sponges into 3 pieces lengthwise. You will need 6 (or more!) total pieces for each ball. I also tried making some smaller balls using 6 pieces that had been cut widthwise (you'll get 4 per sponge...so only 1 1/2 sponges needed). I kinda prefer the smaller ones to play with. They don't look as "alien like" and my hubby says you get more control when throwing them. Jackson says the bigger ones are better because they hold more water. Again...make them however you like!


The secret to these guys is to use some heavy duty dental floss, fishing line or ribbon and to tie them as tight as you can get them. My friend used zip ties on hers, but I didn't have any of those (and I think they might hurt if you got hit with one...but I am a weenie that way!).

Stack the pieces up, putting some flat and some on their sides, and tie them super tight. Wrap both of the ends around the other way and tie again into a knot. You want them to be very secure so the sponges don't fall apart after the first game. Cut the excess ribbon or string off, leaving a little bit of a tail so it doesn't unravel (especially if using ribbon).

That's it!! It takes about 5 minutes to make these things unless your child has more fun playing with the uncut sponges than the water bombs. LOL!

The only thing left to do, is head outside with a couple buckets of water and have a blast! After the second day of playing with the "Sponge Bob" water bombs, Jackson came up with a few new "moves". He likes to squeeze them out over my husband's head and he also did a fun "squeeze and spin" move that created a crazy spray of water (and you didn't have to chase the ball!).

Let them dry out when you're done and you'll have hours and hours of inexpensive fun (without filling a single obnoxious water balloon!).


Happy first day of summer!
Ashley

Monday, June 18, 2012

Home Reboot Challenge #9 ~ Become a Cleaning Tornado



If you could peek in my windows and watch me clean, you would laugh...hard! I clean like a butterfly. I flit from one room to another, one project to another, stopping to read magazines or check Facebook statuses on my way from this task to that. What would take an average person 10 minutes (like unloading the dishwasher, for example) typically takes me about 4 times as long. Just ask my mother or my husband. I am S...L...O...W... 


I envy those moms who get up an hour before their kids and can shower, get dressed, make the bed, drink coffee, unload the dishwasher, throw in some laundry, do a quick workout and start breakfast in UNDER 60 MINUTES. Seriously? Seriously!     I am lucky to be dressed an hour after I'm up (sometimes it's more like noon) and then there are other people who look like a tornado--a cleaning tornado. They move like an angry wind, hurrying from one task to the next, never stopping until the entire to-do list is done. My husband is like that. Some Saturdays I just scratch my head at all the things he has accomplished before I've even made coffee or gotten dressed. 


I'm not sure if I dislike cleaning so much that I do it incredibly slow, or if it is because I am so ridiculously slow at it that I tend to hate doing it. Do I poke around and get distracted, struggling to anything done, because I just don't like doing it? Or am I overwhelmed that it has taken me 45 minutes to fold one load of clothes and I have 5 more to wash, dry, fold & put away? Either way, I need to learn how to be a tornado instead of a butterfly. Sarah Mae shared some tips today  HERE on her blog about how to clean like a tornado. Here they are!


How to Be a Cleaning Tornado
Give Yourself a Challenge and Do It in a Set Amount of Time
There is something about a challenge and a time limit that makes you focus and move. It is incredibly effective to go into cleaning mode and just do the work as fast as you can. One of the inspirations I have is from this 31 Days to Clean Mamas of Little Ones Facebook group. They give each other challenges and you have to do them within a set time frame. They hustle and do whatever they can in that 10 or 15 minutes span of time, and then they encourage one another and do proverbial high-fives before moving on with their day. Which brings me to this…
Don’t Clean Alone

The women in the group above live all over the U.S. and yet they clean together and encourage each other daily. They’ve been doing this for about a year now. These women have not only come up with a system (Task #1,2,3,4), but they jump on when they have the time and just ask, “anyone up for a challenge?” Within a few minutes someone else jumps on and they pick a task and go for it, together even though they are miles a part. I love it. Here are some of the quotes I’ve seen in the group:
“ I am SO THANKFUL to have ladies to work with today! I need to encouragement and motivation!”

“Ok lovely ladies! onto #1!!! WE can do this!!!”
“BREAK!! What did you get done so far?” “I got started on the kitchen and took a phone call from my doctor…. Second half will be stronger!” “I got all the dirty laundry moved to the laundry room, sorted, and a load started, and I exercised for 10 min!” 
This reminds me, live cleaning on Wednesday! Stay tuned for details!
Get Hyper-Focused

If I have to clean fast, I’v got to get focused. No music, no organizing, no emails, no nothing. Just hone in on the task at hand and go, go, go! I see my sister do this and it works wonders! Once I finish the task at hand, then I can listen to my music and slow clean or organize something else that doesn’t take priority.
Get the Babes Involved

It’s amazing what a child can do when there is a clear focus about attaining a goal together, quickly. I couldn’t believe all that my children got done as my sister was no-nonsense. They had no option but to clean, and so clean they did! I get too slack about making the children help me, I either move to slow myself which doesn’t motivate them, or I get upset that they are not cleaning fast enough…they get distracted so easily (hmmm…wonder where that comes from?)
Watching my sister, it helped me to realize that I just need to say, “okay loves, we’re a family, a team, and we’re going to get this done in this amount of time and then we can play.” I find that when I give my children specific, age-appropriate tasks, they do the work. It also helps if they know they have a reward when they’re done: they can play, go outside, watch a movie, get a treat, etc.
Today's Challenges from Sarah Mae
Mary Challenge: Practice focusing. Pick one verse and take about 10 minutes to focus on it alone. Let it roll through your mind, let it marinate, and ask God to speak to you through it. See if you can set it to memory by just meditating on it.
Martha Challenge: Give yourself a 15 minute challenge. Pick something that needs done in your house, perhaps just a main space clean, and set your time for 15 minutes and get all hyper-focused and get as much done in that time frame as you can. See if you can get your babes to help as well!
If you want to find a 31 Days to Clean Facebook group, look here.

What is your best tip for cleaning like a tornado? What strategies work for you? Please share your ideas in the comment section below, or head over to my Facebook page to chat about today's post.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Waffles


Makes 8 square waffles

1 3/4 c. white whole wheat flour or spelt flour
1/4 c. ground flax seed (or use an extra 1/4 c. of flour)
1 t. salt
1 T. baking powder
2 t. pumpkin pie spice
3 T. sucanat (dehydrated natural sugar cane) or brown sugar 
3/4 c. pureed or canned pumpkin*
1 t. vanilla
1 c. milk
1/4 c. melted butter or coconut oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Use any or all of the following for serving:
Pure maple syrup
Fruit
Yogurt 
Nuts

1. While your waffle iron is preheating, stir together flour, flax, salt, baking powder and pumpkin pie spice in a small mixing bowl. 

2. In a larger bowl combine pumpkin, sugar, vanilla, milk, butter and beaten eggs with a wire whisk until thoroughly combined. 

3. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until well mixed. The batter will be fairly thick and more "scoopable" than "pourable".

4. Scoop about 1/2 c. batter (for each square waffle) onto hot waffle iron and cook according to manufacturer instructions for your iron.

5. Serve warm with syrup, fruit, yogurt and/or nuts.

*Feel free to substitute another fruit or veggie puree for the pumpkin and change up the spices. Use sweet potato, squash, zucchini, applesauce, mashed banana, etc.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Home "Reboot" Challenge #8 ~ Home is Where You Dump Your Crap



I read this story over at Sarah Mae's blog this morning and I got several things out of it that I want to share with you.

Finally, at 10:00, thinking about falling into bed just to stay alive, did I say, beyond weary to the bone, if possible,
when I passed Joy’s bedroom. (She was out at her very last speech party, with friends and comrades.)
Piles everywhere–strewn clothes on chairs, floor; shoes, speech ballots and paper all over the floor, dirty tea cups, plates with crumbs in them, and unmade bed with stuff here and there…….an overall mess…….
She was not being irresponsible, she had given her all–practicing, writing, dressing, running from room for room for giving over 30 speeches, adrenalin spilled, energy expended. Her bedroom was a reflection of our weeks.
If I were her, I would not want to come home to such a mess.
I know what it is like to return from conference weekends to a messy bedroom when you are beyond tired. It oppresses one to think of more work and more effort……
And so with one last weary push, I hung clothes, stacked papers into neat piles, picked up all the dishes, folded her sheets and covers into a straight and welcome turn down for needed sleep, placed shoes in the closet, picked up random things off the floor and placed beloved stuffed animals in the proper place of old, when she as a child loved their welcome.
When she returned at midnight, she would see love all over her bedroom, a little more ordered place, where rest would come more easily, because I needed to do unto her as I would have her do unto me–if I had been so weary and in need of an angel to straighten my room.


I can totally relate to this story. Not from the perspective of the mom, who lovingly serves her daughter, but from the perspective of the daughter who had "given her all" to a project/task and her bedroom was "a reflection of our weeks". When I am focused on a big thing (working on a presentation, leading a Bible study at church, a holiday season or birthday party, preparing for a trip, etc.) I let my home go. I get so absorbed in the task at hand that I literally walk in the door, dump my crap and my kids' crap and walk back out the door. I just don't have time to to deal with it all until the "one big thing" (or lots and lots of small things!) is over and done with. After several days of this routine...it becomes utterly painful to come home and look at the filth and disorder. Overwhelming. Uncomfortable. Exhausting. 

The other thought that I had after reading Sally's story, above, is "Wow....I want to be that kind of mom!"  Jesus demonstrated his love for us through His sacrifice on the cross, giving up His own life on our behalf. Am I demonstrating love to my family by choosing to lay down my selfishness and serve them?  I need to look at my "chores" not as sacrifice of my own time and interests but as service to those I love. The laundry...an act of love. Mopping the floors...serving the littlest ones who play down there. Doing the dishes...showing a visible heart of gratitude for the food we are blessed with eating.

I don't know about you, but I need to CHOOSE to love my family well. To share a quote from Sarah Mae, "I want to be that, I want to be the woman who loses herself in Jesus, who lays down her life to give life to others. And in losing myself, I can find  reason to clean and to write about cleaning. It is just another gate through which to show people Jesus; it is another way to love."
______________________________________________

Today's Challenges (from Sarah Mae)
Mary Challenge: Take a few moments and write down all the ways you have felt loved in someone else’s home – what were the little touches that warmed your spirit? Think about how you can implement those kind of things into your own home. Write down some ideas of how you can really make your family feel loved and special in their home.
Martha Challenge: Move on to the next task in a bedroom. Today I’m cleaning my son's room!

Can you relate to my post today? In those busy weeks or months, does your home become a place to dump your crap and sleep at night so you can start over again the next day? I would love to hear from you in the comment section below! 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Home "Reboot" Challenge #6 ~ Why Clean?


At some point, even my own messiness becomes too much for me to handle. Ever since I was a child, I would eventually feel the need to clean my room when it ceased to be comfortable anymore. Sadly, my tolerance level for clutter and dirt is amazingly high. I can overlook things piled up in corners, crumbs under the table, cobwebs, fingerprinted windows, layers of dust so thick you can write your name in them, and clean clothes folded in baskets. Things that would drive a clean freak over the edge don't even create a blip on my radar screen. It takes A LOT for me to be bothered by messiness and do anything about it.


However, at some point I just can't stand it anymore...and then I clean. Right now my bathroom is almost to gross for me to bear. Time to bust out the cleaning supplies and take them for a spin! My toilet brush is missing--not sure how that happens--and I've needed to use it for at least 5 days (and that's how long I've been grossed out by it!!! Ha ha!). Today I am breaking down and buying a new one. I have given up hope it will return to it's rightful position in the corner of my bathroom closet.


I also clean for company--even relatives like my mom or grandma (especially family, as they are sometimes the most vocal critics). I need a good motivator to stop procrastinating and get things cleaned--a friend calling to say she's on her way in 10 minutes is a pretty good motivator! I make sure my house is in presentable condition if we're having someone over, but it's the unexpected guests that cause my stress level to go through the roof. I need warning time to "stash and dash". I suppose if my house was thoroughly cleaned on a regular basis, I wouldn't be thrown for a loop when someone dropped by unannounced. (If my husband is reading this, he's nodding his head in agreement right now! LOL) But seriously, what fun is that? I like to live on the wild side....literally!


Why do you want to clean? Why do you choose to clean? Why does it matter if you clean? Who do you clean for?


Today's Challenges (from Sarah Mae)
Mary Challenge: Think about the questions listed in red above. Answer the questions in the comment section below or on my Facebook page These Precious Days.


Martha Challenge: Survey the other bedrooms in your home–what do you want to get done in them this week? Make a plan before you start pulling everything out of closets and drawers with the good intentions of organizing them all. Come up with five tasks (one for each day) you want to/can reasonably accomplish this week. If your babes are old enough, get them involved. Here’s a fun idea on how to do that.
_______________________________________________
Sarah Mae's e-book 31 Days to Clean ~ Having a Martha House the Mary Way is written from the perspective of a fellow "cleaning challenged" mom. Sarah's in-laws even joked that she was "profiting from her disability"! Most cleaning and organizing books are written by people who are naturally organized and it comes very easily to them. 31 Days to Clean is written by someone who knows how difficult it is to get and stay organized. Just to show you what I mean, you can watch this video of Sarah tackling her kids' toy room. To read more about why Sarah Mae cleans, click here.


Friday, June 8, 2012

The Best Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies (GF)


These chocolate chip cookies are insanely good--just ask my husband and my kids! They are slightly chewy, slightly crunchy and have the perfect amount of nutty sweetness. My friend, Emily, has a son who is gluten intolerant and I wanted to make a yummy baked good to take to her house for a playdate. I was trying to come up with something that all of the kids could enjoy. (Side note--one of the little boys who was there from another family had a severe nut allergy. And here I was SO excited about sharing our gluten-free (but super nut filled) cookies with everyone! Can you say "epic fail"? LOL)

I found this recipe online and after trying it out once on my own family, I decided these cookies were not only "good enough" to share with my friend's gluten-free family but were the only chocolate chip cookies I would ever make from here on out! My husband eats them straight from the freezer and had NO idea they weren't "normal" chocolate chip cookies until he saw me making almond flour for the blog post and asked what I used "that" for. Ha ha!! They are full of protein, fiber, healthy fat and are pretty low in added sugar. I have absolutely zero guilt feeding these to my kiddos. I don't make them all the time, however. They are a bit pricier to make due to the almond flour and despite being healthier, they aren't calorie-free and I have very little self-control around baked goods.

In spite of my last comment, you are definitely going to want to make a double or even triple batch of these little gems. The cookies themselves freeze great, or you can freeze the dough "pucks" on a piece of parchment paper and then bake as needed (or in my case, eat the dough right out of the freezer instead of heating up the oven!). These would be a hit at any picnic, playdate or other get-together...so long as no one is allergic to nuts! ;)


Yields about 18 cookies (3" diameter)
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened*
  • 2 T. coconut oil (refined coconut oil has NO coconut taste and is a healthy replacement for shortening in baked goods)
  • 1/3 cup sucanat (dehydrated natural sugar cane) or brown sugar
  • 1 t. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 t. baking soda
  • 1/4 t. sea salt
  • 1 1/2 c. blanched almond flour (Click HERE for tutorial on making your own blanched almond flour--relatively simple and nearly half the price of store-bought.)
  • 3/4 c. mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c. chopped walnuts (optional)
1. Cream butter, coconut oil and sucanat or brown sugar in a medium mixing bowl by hand or electric mixer. 

2. Add in vanilla and egg and continue to mix until well combined.

3. Stir in baking soda and salt. Add almond flour a half cup at a time until thoroughly blended. 

4. Fold in chocolate chips and walnuts (if using) by hand and drop by rounded tablespoon onto a parchment or silicone lined baking sheet.

5. Flatten cookies slightly with the bottom of a wet glass or measuring cup. Bake at 350 degrees about 9-10 minutes or until edges just begin to lightly brown. Leave on cookie sheet to cool for a few minutes before attempting to remove. Cool completely on a wire rack.

6. Watch them disappear faster than you can get them put in the freezer!

*Substitute coconut oil for the butter if you are dairy-free.

How to Make Blanched Almond Flour--and why!

Almond flour, or almond meal as it is sometimes called, can be made with or without the skins of the almonds and has a texture similar to cornmeal.  Using blanched (skinless) almonds is generally preferred for baked goods. It is slightly sweet and has a mildly, but not overpowering, nutty flavor.

Almond flour is an excellent substitute for wheat flour in things like quick breads, pancakes, muffins and cookies. It is low in net carbs, high in protein and fiber, full of healthy fat and gluten free. When used in a recipe without much refined sugar, almond flour can give you a practically guilt-free treat. It takes about 15 minutes to make and can reduce your cost almost 50% over store-bought almond flour. 


Place blanched almonds (if whole, they may grind more evenly if roughly chopped first) into the bowl of a food processor or Magic Bullet. I did about 4-6 oz. at a time.


Process until you get a course meal, but watch that you don't wind up with almond butter!

Pour the ground almonds into a sifter or fine mesh sieve over a bowl and shake lightly to look for any larger pieces that need to be reprocessed.

These are the pieces I put back in for a second grinding along with my next round of slivered almonds.


Here's what the almond flour looks like when it's finished!

The Bob's Red Mill almond flour on the left is a 16 oz. bag and contains about 3 cups in volume. It is over $8/bag at Kroger. The bulk (blanched) almonds I have priced in various grocery and bulk foods stores have run between $4-5 pound. That's a savings of between 40-50% to make it yourself. You can grind several pounds at a time and freeze the almond flour in order to save time and dirty dishes down the road. 

Here is a yummy almond flour pancake recipe from Kelly over at The Nourishing Home. Click HERE for my family's favorite No-Guilt Chocolate Chip Cookies made with almond flour. My kids love getting a sweet treat and I love that they are getting a hefty portion of protein and fiber! These cookies truly are DELICIOUS--even my husband thinks so. :)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Home "Reboot" Challenge #4 ~ My Clutter Prison (i.e. bedroom)

Image from www.youoffendmeyouoffendmyfamily.com

A reader, Amy, posed this question on my Facebook fan page today, "I wonder if there is something symbolic about the room she (Sarah Mae) chose to clean first on this journey?"  Here are my thoughts on this question, as I had been pondering this myself.


My (our) bedroom is an absolute pigsty. I mean it is beyond embarrassing. I will not, I repeat *will not* be posting ANY "before" pictures from my bedroom. It is by far the worst room in my house. I have posted a lot of "before" pictures of my journey in home organization (some have been pretty scary), but none have been from my own room. I can only be so transparent before humiliation sets in! The question is WHY has the room that belongs to my husband and me become such a disaster zone?


When I have to clean for company, I tend to procrastinate and then "panic clean". That means I start stashing stuff. The first place it goes is my second floor bedroom or my closet (which is in our upstairs hallway). If company comes over, all of the doors except the bathroom door get closed upstairs. Since most people consider the master bedroom private space, it is rarely seen by anyone but us. 


I admit, honestly, that I rarely ever clean my own room. Sure, I occasionally change the sheets on the bed but that is about the extent of the attention that gets paid to our room. Dusting? No. Vacuuming? What's that? I try to spend as little awake time in there as possible. It is not even close to being a "sanctuary". "Clutter prison" would be far more accurate! I hate the paint color that I once loved and in 80% of the room you cannot even see the hardwood flooring. But by the time I climb in bed at night, exhausted--I just don't care what it looks like.


In January, I started Project Organization 2012. I started in my kitchen and dining room and then worked on our bathroom and the living room. The master bedroom was pretty far down on the list. The enormity of cleaning and organizing it was daunting. I put it off...indefinitely. Fast forward to this past Monday. I started this 31 Days to Clean project along with author Sarah Mae. In an effort to revamp her e-book for paperback publication, Sarah Mae began a home organization "reboot" on her blog. I fully expected her to begin with the fridge, as she did in 31 Days to Clean. Wrong! She chose to start with my closet. Seriously???


Back to Amy's question at the top...Do I think there was a symbolic reason Sarah Mae started this journey with the master bedroom? Yes! For one, if anyone else is anything like me--the last room they clean is their own. Why would I waste a bunch of time and energy cleaning a room that no one else sees but us? If I have to clean (which I detest anyway), I'm certainly going to clean the areas that guests see when they come to my house; therefore, my room gets continuously overlooked. Why not start with the biggest eyesore and go from there?


Secondly, there is a sacredness about the master bedroom. It's intimate and private. It's personal space that belongs solely to us, unlike a living room or dining room for example. If the state of our home reflects the state of our heart, it makes complete sense that we would begin the overhaul of our home with our own private quarters. I was truly dreading working on my bedroom, but have felt such a peaceful and calmness in having order in my closet and dresser. It gives me the momentum to continue on with the rest of the room and will hopefully trickle out to other rooms, effortlessly.


The third reason I believe Sarah Mae might have chosen to start in our room is because we must "remove the plank in our own eye, before pointing out the speck in another's eye." It's hard for us to tell our kids or husbands to clean up their stuff, when our own spaces (offices, desks, closets, bedrooms, etc.) are completely chaotic. Perhaps she intended us to start with our own room in order to set a tone for the rest of the family. If we manage our own spaces well, we can be less hypocritical in our efforts to get the rest of the family on the path to cleanliness. We can model for our children how to keep paperwork organized, closets neat and even how to properly make a bed (what's a "made bed"? ha ha!). 


_________________________________________________


If you would like to read Sarah Mae's blog post today on "Laziness", click HERE


Today's Challenges (from Sarah Mae)

Mary Challenge: Get your Bible out and look up as many references to the word “lazy” as you can find. Write down some key consequences of choosing a lifestyle of laziness. If you have time, also look up references to being diligent and write down the blessings of choosing a lifestyle of diligence.
Martha Challenge: Keep working on your bedroom! If you haven’t yet, clean out underneath your bed. If you’ve done that, move on to your night stand.
Is your bedroom a sanctuary or a clutter prison? Do you feel overwhelmed by the thought of organizing your own spaces? 
Follow along with the 31 Days to Clean "Reboot" at www.sarahmae.com and don't forget to watch her video on Monday's  blog post where she shares that this is more of a journey of the heart than getting a pristine home. I *love* that Sarah admits to not being a "cleaning person" and I appreciate her book 31 Days to Clean: Having a Martha House the Mary Way. You can get the e-book from her blog for $2.50 with the 50% off code "Reboot".

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Home "Reboot" Challenge #3 ~ About Priorities




“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33


"Reboot" Challenge #3 ~ About Priorities
What matters most to you? If we're honest with ourselves, the list of life priorities we would put on paper is probably different from the ones we live out on a daily basis. Anyone else ever made a priority list similar to this one? I have!


1. God
2. Husband
3. Kids
4. Myself
5. Homemaking
6. Ministry
7. Hobbies


The problem with this list is that as a woman, I struggle to compartmentalize my life. Most things that involve my kids, also involve homemaking (like cooking and cleaning up after them!). Because my kids are still little and needy, they often take the #2 spot over my husband at various points in the day. Many of the priorities on my list are interconnected. It's not like you can work your way down the "list" and check it off. "Okay...I got my relationship with God in order, now I'll work on my relationship with my husband..."  It doesn't really work like that.


I was thinking about the topic of priorities yesterday when I was engaged in a Facebook discussion about homemaking. One of my Facebook friends claimed that cleaning was just "a matter of priorities". I would respectfully disagree. 


In my post from yesterday, we talked about putting time with God first in your day...above all else. Doing that takes serious DISCIPLINE. Going to the gym to workout everyday takes discipline. Keeping caught up on the laundry and cleaning takes discipline. The same goes for having a regular date night with your husband. Or turning off the "gadgets" after the kids are in bed to spend quality time together. All of these things require discipline. Cooking healthy meals and following a meal plan takes discipline. For some people, ignoring the housework and playing with their kids--giving them undivided attention--requires discipline. What is effortless for you, might be excruciatingly hard for me. Where I have ample discipline, you may struggle to find enough. 


We each have a unique set of priorities. I can't tell you what yours should look like any more than you can tell me what mine should look like. However, having your priorities in the right order is pointless if you don't have the discipline to live out your priorities. Sarah Mae adds that "all of life is worship to God". How we live out each moment of the day, in Him, gives us countless opportunities to demonstrate worship. Here is some more from Sarah Mae's post today. Read her entire post HERE.



"I can’t separate areas in my life and dedicate all my energy and focus on that area in a ranking order. Life is sort of like juggling; I can’t focus on one ball or all the others will drop. At the same time, juggling isn’t really my thing. The good news is, God doesn’t ask me to juggle my life; He doesn’t ask me to keep each individual ball in the air. He asks me to focus on Him, as a lifestyle, and then everything else will be added to me
I’ve stopped thinking in terms of priorities. I now think about going through my days in faith, seeking His wisdom and guidance and being willing to follow.
I don’t have to strive or try and get it all right, I just have to trust that the Holy Spirit is working in me as I lean into Him and obey. As I lose myself in Him, as I unbecome, He does.
And life becomes worship."

Today's Challenges (from Sarah Mae)

Mary Challenge: Write out your priority list, or find one that you have and then write at the top, “All of life is worship to God” and put all your priorities on one line underneath. Put this somewhere that you can see as a reminder that when you seek first the kingdom, everything else will be added.
Martha Challenge: Today is a catch up day. If you have more to do on your closet or in your dresser drawers, take today to do that. For those of you who don’t need more time, your challenge is begin cleaning out underneath your bed. You heard correct. We’re going there. Good “luck!”

_______________________________________________________________________


Thoughts from Ashley
I am going to finish up dealing with the stuff I took out of my closet for sale/donation/trash and continue working on the laundry piles. I will post some before/after pictures of my dresser via the update link directly below. I am going to "catch up" today and not start anything new until tomorrow. 


Update on "Reboot" Challenge #1 ~ Distractions
Update on "Reboot" Challenge #2 ~ Sitting Before Doing


How do you manage your priorities? Do you have trouble trying to juggle it all? Where do you struggle in the area of discipline? I love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below!


Follow along with the 31 Days to Clean "Reboot" at www.sarahmae.com and don't forget to watch her video on yesterday's blog post where she shares that this is more of a journey of the heart than getting a pristine home. I *love* that Sarah admits to not being a "cleaning person" and I appreciate her book 31 Days to Clean: Having a Martha House the Mary Way. You can get the e-book from her blog for $2.50 with the 50% off code "Reboot".