Monthly Archives: May 2012

Citrus Mint Quinoa Salad

Citrus Mint Quinoa Salad
I was looking for a healthier alternative to my traditional pasta salad, and came up with this.  We had a lot of the fresh ingredients popping up in our garden, so it was perfect!  We served it with grilled chicken and fresh strawberries…yum!  Even my kiddos liked it, and that is a “real” test for me!  I think we will be serving this lots this summer!
Citrus Mint Quinoa Salad
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa (2 cups cooked)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 t. salt
  • pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion
  • 1 can of corn, drained
  • 1 T lemon or lime (or both) zest
  • 1/2 cup lemon or lime (or both) juice
Cook quinoa according to package, rinse under cool water.   Toss all ingredients into a bowl and toss…
 I think this is one of those salads that is best left sitting for a few hours, or overnight, to allow the quinoa to fully absorb the flavors!

Other posts you might like:

Southwest Quinoa Salad

Black Bean Brownies

Choosing to Live on One Income

Tuesday Tutorial: Michelle’s Potato Salad

Tuesday Tutorial: Michelle’s Potato Salad

I know the calendar doesn’t say so…but once Memorial Day comes and goes it’s summer for me!  Kids are done with school and we bought our lake pass for the season.  That means it’s time to add those summer dishes to the menu including one of my husband’s favorites:  potato salad!  So if you’re seeking a taste of summer or on the look out for a dairy-free potato salad recipe…look no further!


  • 7-8 medium Russett potatoes
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups mayo
  • 1/4 cup pickle juice
  • 5 baby (or 2 regular) pickles
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp (or more) salt
  • dash of paprika (optional)

Wash potatoes.  Set two pots filled with water (a large one for the potatoes and a small one for eggs)  on high heat.  Place the eggs in the small pot.   Peel and then chop potatoes into bite-size pieces. 


We love Russett Potatoes!

Add the chopped potatoes to the large pot.  Let the eggs reach a hard rolling boil and then turn heat down to simmer for at least 10 minutes.  Let potatoes boil until fork tender (my husband  likes his potatoes really soft in potato salad so that’s about 10 minutes, but adjust time accordingly if you like the potatoes firmer.  The size of the cut potatoes will also affect cooking time, so it’s best to keep a close eye on them.  (Otherwise you might be like me and forget about them until they boiled down to almost nothing and we had potato soup instead of potato salad!):P

While potatoes are boiling, finely chop pickles and mix them with mayo (try making your own) and pickle juice and spices (except paprika) in a large bowl. 

Hint: mix the dressing in the big bowl you'll serve your potato salad in to save time and extra dishes you'll just have to wash up later.

Once eggs and potatoes are done, drain them and then carefully rinse them in cold water. 

Peel and then slice hard-boiled eggs in half.  Add the cooked yolks to the dressing and chop up the whites.  Thoroughly mix together. 

Once potatoes are cooled down to room temperature (or colder) add them to the dressing and gently stir until all mixed.  Salt to taste. 

Refrigerate immediately for at least 1-2 hours, but if you make this the night before it will taste even better when you serve it the next day after the potatoes soaked up all the yummy flavors overnight!  If you like, sprinkle a dash or two of paprika for garnish and serve cold!  (**Note:  if salad seems a little dry mix a little more mayo and pickle juice to stir in before serving.)


  • For a little crunch add finely chopped celery (1-2 stalks.)
  • For a little more flavor add finely chopped onion (green or yellow.)
  • For more tang and creaminess (if dairy isn’t an issue) add 1/4-1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt.


What’s your favorite summer dish?

Oh, and don’t forget the Shutterfly Photo Book Giveaway!  Only 1 day left!

Other posts you may enjoy:

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Thank you

Thank you

Congratulations!  You made it to the weekend!  And not just any weekend, a three-day holiday weekend!!!!! I myself am looking forward to having the hubby home from his long week of work on the road, grilling, and getting tomato plants in the garden!

But before we break out the grill, kick up our feet and relax or hit those Memorial Day sales, I want to remember. For Memorial Day I want to remember all those that sacrificed their life, their time, and gave their service for my freedom.  Thank you to all those who serve in the military or have served in the military.  Thank you to their families too. 

Thank you to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.  We remember.

In Flanders Field   by John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.



He's free thanks to the sacrifice of others!

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School’s Out for the SUMMER…now what?

School’s Out for the SUMMER…now what?

We did it, we finished our first full year of homeschooling!  I am proud of us all for learning new things, and, for surviving!  Whether you home school or not…summer is here!  Did you know that most kids slide back in their educational skills over the summer…which for home schoolers, means we have to re-teach things we already painstakingly learned, and for public schooled kids, can mean lower scores on standardized tests administered early on in the fall.

We finished schooling a few weeks ago, and I gave my kiddos ( and myself) a well deserved break…but starting next week we will spend 15-20 minutes a few days a week doing worksheets, and 20-30 minutes on reading.   My kids and I actually thrive on schedule, so doing this can actually add a little bit of much-needed structure to our long summer days.

Fun ways to incorporate learning into your summer..

    • Summer Reading Programs at your local library…kids get prizes and incentive for reading, and most have programs for pre-readers too!
    • Workbooks…I have fond the easiest, cheapest place to get them is on Amazon.   These are some of my favorites.


    • Grocery Cart Math…ask your kids, based on abilities to complete a list of things at the store while you shop…compare prices, count the number of vegetables you see, etc.


  • Seek out educational stops on vacation…factory tours, zoos, museums




White Chocolate Pudding

White Chocolate Pudding

Today’s White Chocolate Pudding recipe is inspired by a bar of Ghirardelli White Chocolate Premium Baking Bar.  And it comes with a warning:  do not taste the white chocolate…just cook something with it fast!  If you taste, you will want to consume the whole bar!  (That’s why this recipe calls for 3 oz of white chocolate…I ate tasted the other ounce.)  😉

There is a difference in really good white chocolate:  look for cocoa butter in the ingredients.  That’s what makes chocolate chocolate! But many white chocolate products don’t even include it!  I think it makes a difference and is worth it if you can find it!  


  • 3 oz premium white chocolate
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 2 c whole milk
  • 4 egg yolks beaten
  • 1/2 t  vanilla

1.  On medium low heat melt white chocolate in a sauce pan with the sugar and a few tablespoons of the milk.  Stir the cornstarch and the rest of the milk together in a separate bowl or measuring cup so that there’s no lumps. 

2.  Add to the white chocolate and sugar mixture in the pan and continue to stir until it thickens (about 10 min.). 

3.  Once thick turn heat to low and scoop out a cup or so and set it aside for a couple of minutes to cool a bit.  Add the cup of slightly cooled  white chocolate mixture to egg yolks and stir together to temper the eggs. 

4.  Add it all back to the sauce pan and continue to stir on low heat until it thickens even more…maybe another 5 minutes or so.  Once pudding coats a spoon it’s done. 

5.  Pour pudding into a bowl, stir in vanilla, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until it is cooled and ready to serve!

This pudding was wonderful warm right off the stove, but it is also delicious served over fresh summer berries or angel food cake! 


  • If you want plain vanilla  pudding use 3/4 cup sugar and omit white chocolate.  Use a full teaspoon of vanilla.
  • Regular chocolate:  substitute unsweetened chocolate baking squares and use 3/4 cup sugar. 
  • For a firmer pudding add an extra tablespoon of cornstarch. 

    White chocolate pudding with strawberries and pecans! YUMMM!

And just because my very biased opinion is that these guys are pretty cute and I like to show them off…here’s my taste testers!

She was skeptical, but after a taste she finished her whole bowl!


So good he had to lick the bowl clean!


Two spoons are better than one!
No complaints here! Just an empty bowl!

Don’t forget the Shutterfly Photo Book Giveaway if you haven’t entered yet!

Other posts you may enjoy:

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Tuesday Tutorial: Freezer Cooking- Bean and Rice Burrittos

Tuesday Tutorial: Freezer Cooking- Bean and Rice Burrittos

This is a simple {very simple} idea that can save you tons of money and time!  As summer approaches, I am looking for even more excuses than normal to not be in my kitchen with the stove on…so I have been working to fill up my freezer with all types of home-made convenience food!


Bean, Rice and Cheese Burritos

You’ll need…

Mexican Refried Beans

  • Mexican Rice
  • Cheese
  • Flour tortillas ( I used whole wheat)


It really couldn’t be simpler, just…. 

Make your beans and rice ahead of time…I started my beans in the morning, and cooked my rice later in the afternoon, about the hour before I wanted to finish up my little freezer cooking episode.

Add a little of each ingredient to your tortilla, but not too much, or they will be hard to roll.  Wrap tightly in alluminum foil.

Stick them into the freezer, and you have easy home-made meals, ready to go!

Microwave for one to two minutes, after you take the foil off, of course, unless you want a fireworks show in your kitchen.

I made 60 burritos in about 30 minutes…minus the cooking time for the beans and rice.  Overall, it was about an hour of actual work.  We also had bean and rice wraps (with all the fun toppings) for dinner that night!

These are perfect lunches to send with my husband to work, eat outside with the kids for lunch, or pop in the microwave for an easy dinner on days that don’t go as planned.


Monday Menu

Monday Menu

We’re starting to see green in our garden!  Our tomato starts will go in the ground this week and then we’ll be set.  I look forward to when I can do some of our grocery shopping in our own backyard!  For now we’ll still get our produce from the market for these meals!  😉

Oh, and if you haven’t entered the Free Shutterfly Photo Book Giveaway yet, time is running short!  Don’t miss out!







Creamy Lemon Mushroom Quinoa

Smokey Rigatoni!

Thursday Thoughts: Change

Thursday Thoughts: Change

Change.  You either love that word or hate it.  Seems like we’re always waiting for a change or dreading one. 

In the month of May, it’s graduation season around here.  The school year is ending and a lot of our programs and activities come to an end.  Other summer activities will start later, but for now I’m kinda dreading the change that means my kids are growing up, another grade complete. 

Some changes I can’t wait for…like my youngest being out of diapers!   That will be a nice change!  But then, other changes I dread…like the day my oldest son won’t let me cuddle him.  (Haven’t gotten there yet, but I know it’s coming.)  I look forward to having my daughters get to the point of being able to do their own laundry since they go through at least three wardrobe changes a day!  But then I cringe to think of the day coming when they’ll be too “cool” to wear frilly dresses and tutus.  OH Change!

Sometimes I’m overwhelmed by all the changes.  I just want the world to pause for a bit and let me catch up or drink it all in.  For some reason that’s the season I’m in.  And I get really frustrated that I can’t seem to get a handle on all the changes.  I feel a little disoriented with things changing and they seem to spinning out of control and I’m not ready for it. 

But then there are things about myself I WANT to change.  And those changes don’t seem to come fast enough.  That’s frustrating too! 

But do you want to know what comforts me in these moments?  Knowing that God NEVER changes! 

Changes may throw me for a loop, but nothing surprises God.  And my feelings and surroundings may change with the wind, but He is still the same.  And maybe I want to change some things and those changes don’t happen fast enough for my liking, it’s reassuring that God’s love and grace is still there for me and hasn’t changed a bit!  My successes or failures won’t change that! 

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.  Hebrews 13:8

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.  Deuteronomy 31:9

In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.  They will perish, but you remain; ….  you remain the same, and your years will never end.  Psalm 102:25,27

Ahhhh.  *sigh of relief.*  That brings me a sense of peace.  I can rest on these truths!  If things are feeling a little chaotic for you too, I hope these little reminders will help!

Can I just freeze this moment in time?!?!

Other posts you may like:

Thoughts on Motherhood


The Struggle


Favorite Recipes…{re-post for a chance to win!)

Favorite Recipes…{re-post for a chance to win!)

Here are some of our favorite recipies…re-post this post or one of your favorites on your facebook page for a chance to win in our first giveaway!

A few of our favorites…

DIY Cake Mix

DIY Yogurt

Crockpot Lemon and Rosemary Chicken

Black Bean Brownies

Honey Oat Bars


Swedish Meatballs

Home-made Granola



Tuesday Tutorial: Lemon Sugar Scrub

Tuesday Tutorial: Lemon Sugar Scrub

Hey folks!  I’m a little late posting this because my Plan A didn’t turn out quite like I expected this morning.  My homemade graham crackers need some tweaking before I can post it…so here’s Plan B:  Lemon Sugar Scrub!

I don’t know about you, but I’m not quite ready for summer yet.  Beautiful clear sunny days, sure!  But wearing shorts and sundresses?!?! Not yet! (And don’t even get me started on swimsuits!) 😉

My lack of enthusiasm for shorts is due to some patches of rough skin I have on my knees and elbows…and that’s where this lemon sugar scrub comes in handy!  Lemon juice is a natural exfoliator and with the raw sugar and a little olive oil you’ve got an all-natural cheap frugal body polish that both exfoliates and moisturizes (and hopefully eliminates those rough patches!)


  • one lemon
  • raw sugar (also known as turbinado sugar)
  • olive oil
  • favorite essential oil (optional)

Roll lemon on counter top or hard surface for easier juicing.  Juice lemon.


FYI: my 3yr old took this picture! Budding photographer in the making!


Pour sugar into lemon juice and stir together until a thick paste forms (I used about 1/2 a cup of sugar.) 

Add a tablespoon of olive oil and about 20 drops of your favorite essential oil (preferably one that goes with the lemon scent!  I used neroli, but bergamot or coriander would go well too!) 


To use your lemon sugar scrub simply stir it up and scoop a small amount on your hand or washcloth and gently rub any rough patches of skin for about a minute.  Rinse off and use your favorite moisturizer.  (Maybe even your own lotion if you read this post! Or my other favorite DIY beeswax lotion!)

**couple of warnings**

  • I used a cute glass jar for pictures (or to give as gifts), but for our house I keep the scrub in a plastic container for the bathroom:  don’t want glass breaking in the bathtub or anything!!!
  • Be careful to rinse the shower/tub really well when done using: the olive oil might make things a little slippery!
  • For a finer scrub try using regular sugar or table salt, but I wouldn’t use the raw sugar version on your face  or on sensitive skin. 
  • Don’t use everyday.  You know your own skin, so use as often as you see fit, but I wouldn’t  use it more than 3 or 4 times a week.  Too much exfoliation is NOT a good thing!

    Lemon Sugar Scrub

This is recipe is fast, easy, all natural, and won’t cost ya an arm and a leg!   Instead it will give you nice smooth arms and legs!!!! Make some for yourself and give some away as a gift!  Give me a week and now I’ll be ready for summer!  How about you?

Other Posts You May Enjoy:

DIY Hand Lotion

DIY Facewash

Lemon Rosemary Crockpot Chicken

And please don’t forget to enter our Shutterfly Giveaway to win a free 8X8 photo book!


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