Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Rhubarb Muffins

It sounds a little strange to make rhubarb muffins, but these muffins are truly yummy!  I've made them twice within 5 days because I really, really liked them.  And my kids ate them too!  I did finely chop the rhubarb and mince the nuts to make them smaller and more palatable for the kids.

Rhubarb-Buttermilk Muffins


3/4 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup salad oil
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt or 1 cup. milk soured with 2 tsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 cups finely diced rhubarb
1/2 cups pecan pieces, minced
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (you can do 1 1/2 cups white flour and                                   1 cup wheat flour)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt


1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp melted butter                                                    1 tsp flour
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 15 medium-sized muffin cups.
  • Combine in large bowl: brown sugar, oil, egg, and vanilla. Beat until well mixed. Stir dry ingredients into mixture.
  • Then add rhubarb and nuts.
  • Fill prepared muffin pan 3/4 full with batter.
  • Quickly combine topping ingredients in a small bowl and sprinkle on top of batter in each muffin cup.
  • Bake in preheated oven on center shelf 15 to 20 minutes. (closer to 20)

I copied this recipe from:  http://www.rhubarbinfo.com/  and then added alterations similar to the recipe in Simply in Season by Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert.

Internet Security

I just posted an entry on my other blog about internet security.

At the beginning of this year, there was an article in the paper that said that social networking sites were predicted to be the biggest source of identity theft this year.  I was glad for the warning at the time.  I had no idea that digital copiers would be a risk as well!

Monday, May 17, 2010

The struggle of saying No

There is a constant struggle of saying no to ourselves.  I am realizing this.  Sometimes I'm good at it and sometimes I'm horrible at it.  I have realized today that I need to limit my computer time.  I am going to check in the afternoon during naps and rest time and maybe at night time.  Other than that, I need to step back.  

None of us like being told no.  Our budgets are one big No!  I think that's the hardest part about sticking to a budget actually--saying no to ourselves and things we want.  I'm great at justifying things =), but I know this about myself so I try to face up to it.

A few things I don't always say no to myself about...
Going out to eat near the end of the month
Garage Saling--I've really been working on buying the things first that we need and not just what I want.
Time on the computer--I take too much time and I get on the computer too often during the day.
Desiring Quiet
Holding my tongue when I'm angry
and I'm sure there are many more, but I wanted to share a few examples.

So, how can we say no?
Here's the ideas I have right at this moment:
1)  Get into a routine.  A routine can help me avoid the temptation that I need to say no to.
2)  Doing things we don't like to do early in the day before the things we really like to do
3)  Praying!  We need to be in the Word and trusting God for strength
4)  Take our eyes off ourselves and put them back on our families, work, or homes.  
5)  Setting boundaries--like my internet one I'm going to try and get back on track with.  These things are both boundaries and habits.   We make habits of avoiding things that we know aren't good for us.
6)  Stay out of stores (if money is the issue).
7)  Stay off the computer for shopping (if money is the issue)
8)  Make a list or a plan for the day of what you want to get done.  Planning a day can take away the time that we were being flexible with, when in reality we use it for the things we want to do and we fritter away the time.
9)  Write God's Word on our hearts.  We need to know and believe that God is working in all things.
10) We need to choose to be grateful and focus on the yeses in our lives and let go of the nos.

I think 10 is a good place to start.  I'm going to start working on these things.  Please know that I made this list for myself.  I have been convicted the past few days about this and I don't think I've been listening very well--because I have been resistant and haven't wanted to say no to myself.  But, I believe that this is what God desires of me.  I need to begin saying no to myself more.


I read a book 9 years ago called Feminism: Mystique or Mistake by Diane Passno.  It had a huge impact on me and changed my thoughts about a lot of things, since I was probably what you might call an evangelical feminist at the time.  But, that's a story for another time =)  Anyways, at the end of the book was a chapter about moms. Though I wasn't a mom at the time, the lessons in that chapter have always stuck with me.

The basic gist of the chapter was that moms who are working should show grace to the moms who stay at home and vice versa.  Moms at home often desire the affirmation at work and the break from their kids.  Moms at work are jealous of the time stay at home moms get with their kids.  There can be a mutual situation of envy and there are pros and cons to both sets of shoes.  The author's point is that what's most important is that we are where God wants us to be.  We don't have to feel guilty if we are where God wants us to be.  If we feel called to work, then we should lay that before our husbands and submit to them--if they think we should or shouldn't.  Many women have to work because their families need the second income.  Some don't need to work, though they desire to for the extra income.  More often than not, I think choosing to live on one income does involve making choices that will save money and saying no to ourselves about things we want.

A moment ago, I was reminded of this chapter when I thought of a conversation I had on Saturday about homeschooling.  I enjoy homeschooling, but it is hard.  Many moms who are homeschooling often wish their kids were in school and many moms whose children are in school wish their kids were homeschooling.  I don't think homeschooling isn't the wisest choice for everyone and friends who are veteran homeschoolers have told me this over the years.  It is the wisest choice for some though.  In the end, I think that what's most important is that our children are where God wants them to be--whether that is in public, private, or home schools.

Just a thought =)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

All-in-one Book of Tips!

When I've watched DIY shows and home organization shows on television, they always seem to be geared towards people that have a great deal of extra income that they can spend on materials to organize their homes with.  Every time I open up Better Homes and Gardens, I check how many children the families in the magazine have.  Usually, I find they have 0 or 1 child.  Once in a while, they'll feature a home where 2 children live.  But, again, the families typically live at an upper middle class income level.  But, I think the reality for many of us is that we can't afford to live that way--our homes don't look like the ones in the magazines and tv shows--especially if we've made choices and sacrificed a second income so that we can stay home with our kids.

When I requested this book for review, I was curious, but expected it to be pretty impractical.  Instead, I discovered that it is a wonderful book packed full of very practical tips.  Kathy Peel and her husband raised 3 boys who are now grown adults.  She says early on that she gleans tips and advice from all the women she has known in her life and come across.  I liked that.  (A few months ago I reviewed a book by a woman who wrote a book of advice for working moms though she hadn't been one when she wrote the book.)  Sometimes it seems that advice givers can come across as very prideful as if they have all the answers.  There is a blessing that comes from learning from one another!

In the book, Ms. Peel tackles seven areas of home management:  time and scheduling, home and property care, menus and meal planning, relationships with family and friends, finances, special events (including holidays and birthday parties), and taking care of yourself.

For the most part, her tips are practical and useful no matter what the income of your family is.  A few of them are only practical if you do have extra disposable income, but it's a relatively small number of things (ie. in the section about yourself, she mentions both getting a massage and a facial in a questionnaire).  Most of her tips are realistic and frugal.  For example, she mentions washing the area where ants are coming in with straight white vinegar.  She also lists cleaning tips that can be done overnight with regular household items like vinegar and baking soda.  A lot of books like this include tips that are very labor intensive and the time used outweighs the money saved.  This book, on the other hand, includes tips that are very doable and wise, in my humble opinion.

I know that I will be coming back to this book again and again.  She has organized lists of what to do to care for your home each season.  She also has lists about appliances--how long their life expectancy is and even advice on how to choose new ones.

The section I am usually most curious about is menus and meal planning.  Her tips are especially practical for moms who work outside their homes.  I agreed with most of her advice, though I don't do as much freezing and cooking ahead.  My family likes a lot of variety and I cook breakfast 5 mornings a week since my kids are not fans of cereal.  But, that's how it is with any book--you are the best judge of advice that will work for you and your family.  There is no one size fits all solution to organizing your home and life.  But, I love to read new ideas because they renew my hope that I can get on top of things or be successful tackling something I've  been struggling with.

Here's a sample of tips that really stuck with me from the book...
On Time Management...
"When you say yes to something, you're saying no to something else.  Don't let it be your family." p.3
On Cleaning...
"Use a wide, soft-bristled paintbrush to remove dust from blinds and pleats in a lamp shade." p.48
On Cooking...
"Boil a few slices of lemon in a pan of water for 20 minutes to clear the air of burned food odor." p.57
On Baking...
"When coating a baking pan with flour, use an empty spice jar (the kind with holes in the lid) to shake it neatly into the pan." p. 123
On Celebrating...
"Don't wait until you have enough money to plan the perfect party.  If something is worth celebrating, it's worth celebrating no matter how simple the event." p. 219
On Finances...
"Everything you have is a gift from God.... Managing money is not about the money.  It's about how you view money...The joy of a purchase made on credit usually doesn't outlast the payments."  p.195

This sample is just a smidgen of the great ideas I read in this book.  Kathy Peel truly has packed this book with lots of great advice.  It's perfect for someone starting out on their own, newlyweds, or people that love ideas about how to manage life better.  It's full of good reminders even if you are a pretty organized person.  I do highly recommend this book!

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book for review.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Internet Security Programs

Last fall, I requested two internet security programs from Amazon for reviewing from the program I'm a part of.  I thought, "Hey!  They're free.  I'll try them."  I discovered that what's free is not always free in the end--it may come with a price.

I discovered this:  IF you switch internet security programs, make sure you completely uninstall the other program.

I discovered that if you use Norton--there are always little pieces left behind.  If you don't find these pieces, they will stay and your new program will think that they are viruses--problems to be attacked.  This can and often does freeze up your computer.  I discovered all of this the hard way.  I broke the new laptop we had bought 45 days earlier from Costco.  Thankfully, I was able to return it since they had a 90 day return window.  I did do a restore and erase the hard drive, but that's a several hour long process.  And by the time I was done with that, I no longer trusted the computer.  Broken computers for me are like broken used cars.  If it's a little break that gets fixed quickly, my trust is restored quickly.  If it's a big break, I will forever feel insecure about the car--and in this place the computer.

I wrote a review about this on Amazon and someone commented to the effect that I was a dodo bird for not knowing I had to completely uninstall the program and know about these little pieces left behind.  I don't think I was a dodo bird.  I've talked to several friends who didn't know about this glitch either.  It is comforting to know that I'm not alone.  But, that's also why I wanted to post this story this morning.  It's one of those random pieces of information that might help someone someday avert the disaster that crashing their hard drive might be for them someday in the future. =)

Last note, if this has happened to you, or if your computer isn't booting up, call the tech support for your computer manufacturer.  They should be able to walk you through doing a restore on your computer which will bring the computer back to the state it was in at a point in the past.  You'll lose the information that was saved after that date, but you'll get your computer back--and that's a good thing =)

Dunkin' Donuts Perks and Facebook Applications

Last Friday, some friends and I were chatting about Facebook Applications.  We all agreed that they cause problems on our computers.  It happened to me twice when I first started using Facebook and I've stayed away from them since.  Once in a while, I'm tempted to try one, but then I remind myself what happened.

Today there was an application for Dunkin' Donuts Perks.  It occurred to me that I might be able to go to their website and enroll in the program without going through the Facebook application.  And it worked!

If you enroll, the website says they'll send you a coupon for a free medium beverage of your choice and one on your birthday. =)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Dave Ramsey

I have been curious about Dave Ramsey and his financial advice for a long time.  I have a very dear friend who has enjoyed the seminar her church put on with his materials.  So, when I got the chance to review this book, I was very excited to see what he had to say.

This book is called The Money Answer Book.  It is a collection of short answers to questions.  None of the answers are more than 2 pages.  And the pages are small.  It is only the size of maybe a 4 x 6 or a 5 x 7 picture.  This is the third book I've received from publishers that is being printed smaller than books used to be.  (I assume it is a cost cutting measure in the publishing world.)

But, back to the book's contents.  The questions are organized by topics such as real estate and mortgage, insurance, budgeting, etc.  The entire book can be read in less than an hour.

Here are some things I learned about Dave Ramsey's financial philosophy:
1) He advocates paying everything you can in cash.
2) No credit cards.
3) Pay off small debts first and then move on to bigger ones.
4) Buy used unless you're rich.
5) Get out of debt (except for your mortgage) and stay out of debt.

I pondered first the paying for things in cash idea.  I brought it to my husband to ask what he thought.  He brought up several points that I hadn't considered.  First, we use our credit cards to save us marital conflict.  He doesn't have to save all his receipts and hand them to me.  I look them up and write them down.  We pay off our credit card every month.  Second, he told me that it is far easier for him to whittle away a $20 bill than to use his credit card.  If he has a $20, he'll spend it and have no idea what it was spent on.  I shared this with a friend and she said the same is true of her.  So, for people that don't pay off their credit cards each month this can be a great idea--to pay in cash.  But, for some people using cash can be a greater source of temptation.   Third, at Target, Lowe's, Toys R Us, Home Depot and several other stores, the clerks can look up your returns using your credit card.  This is a great thing for people like me who have 3 kids and can't keep track of receipts very well.  It's also great because I can return something for my husband and he doesn't have to save the receipts for me. (Costco can also look up your purchases using your membership card.)

So, the cash idea won't work for us.  But, it has worked for a lot of my friends and I think it's a great idea.  It just isn't a one size fits all solution, though.

I did learn something that scared me in this book.  I discovered that credit card companies can pull your credit report without your permission and then they send you a prescreened/preapproved credit card application.  Thankfully, there is something you can do about it.  Call 888-567-8688 to put a 5 year ban on unsolicited credit inquiries.  To make it permanent, you have to write a letter.  When you make the call, it will associate your name and address with your phone number, so call from your primary home phone.  If it is not your name that comes up, spell your name and say it.  I had to spell my name and the phone picked it up perfectly.

Because this is just a Q&A book, the answers are very short and that works well for some of the questions, but for others, it is very inadequate.  The section on real estate and mortgages was extremely short.  I think this is an area that our culture struggles with immensely.  We hear and see everywhere that we should have huge homes--bigger than we can afford.  I wish there had been more discussion of the consequences of such actions.  I am glad, though, that he said an Arm is never wise--rather that choosing a fixed rate loan is the wise road.

This is a great gift book to help people get their feet wet and begin thinking about their finances.  It isn't a comprehensive financial guide.  Still, I have two people in mind already that I would like to give this book to.  I think Dave Ramsey has some great advice.  The thing I most agree with about his financial advice is something he states on page 1, "...be responsible to God and family, sacrifice the unnecessary to gain the necessary, get rid of debt, and build a financially peaceful future."

Please note that I was given a complimentary copy of this book for review.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Egg Substitutes

A few weeks ago, I was talking with a gal about egg substitutes.  I found this list at Bread Beckers website.