With a Temple marriage comes new definitions for things.  One of those things for me was modesty.  I have always been a huge HUGE advocate of modesty.  It was quite a struggle to agree to play volleyball for me because of the uniforms.  And throughout my high school years I made a lot of clothes, with my mother’s help of course, including all of my formal dresses because of my obsession with the idea of keeping covered what should be covered.  I believe my body is a gift from God and I do all that is in my power to keep it clean and free from anything that defiles it.  I also know that all God’s children are beautiful, and I do not need to make sure other people can see all of my beautiful parts to feel beautiful.

Anyway, although I already had these foundations in place that lead me to only buy shirts with sleeves and shorts that went to the knee, it seems to have still fallen short of the modesty lines drawn by the church (if you get my drift).  So I have been searching for ways to extend my wardrobe’s life as well as new clothes to add that are full modest in and of themselves. I feel that both routes are necessary, especially because I do not want to get rid of my lovely dresses that I stitched myself in high school that still fit!

My first attempt at increasing the length/life of my wardrobe was undershirts.  Nice ones that have enough coverage on the arms and chest and mid-drift that they can cover any piece of clothing’s “short-comings”.  The shirts I get are from Down East Basics.  I love these shirts.  They are too tight, for me personally, to wear by themselves but I just adore their perfect cap-sleeve length and perfect neckline.  I buy both the wonder-tee and the crew-neck tee.  The wonder-tee is just a bit more dressier, but pinches more under the arm (on occasion).  I buy the maternity kind for the length, and this lets me wear absolutely ANY of my shirts with jeans.  Being a tall-torsoed woman means I loose a lot of coverage especially with nice blouses, but who cares as long as there is an undershirt there instead of your skin or underwear.  And the length also give the option of layering, instead of tucking in, for a nice modern look.

But the origin of this post idea was my awesome bargain find!  I’m always looking at their site, well every couple of weeks recently I’ve been looking for deals and beautiful items.  And not long ago they had a sale: the shirts I love were half-priced!  Jacob found me a coupon and got an additional 30% off!  So with shipping the normal shirt of $10 plus shipping were each $5.25 even.  Oh my gosh I wish they had had more than 5 colors in my size, I would have bought them all!  But it’s probably good that I was able to spend less that $30.

I love kielbasa.  I’m like half-Polish, so I blame it on that.  Also, game day meals at my parents house always consisted of this awesome meat on sub sandwiches, at least until Roethlis-burgers were invented!

I still love this meat, however it is new and different to my new husband.  A sandwich of only this meat is too foreign for him just yet.  So our current favorite way of enjoying my favorite meat is in Jambalaya!  But, if you know me you know I need a class of water when I walk past cajun seasoning; I just do not like spicy food.  So this idea would seem counterproductive. However, I found a really nice, calm/mellow recipe that we just love.

We started with using a box-rice dinner that I just had to add the meat too.  But with a bit of extra chopping, I get some (real) vegetables and a spice combination that I control, which is crucial for this genre of food.

The original recipe was submitted to allrecipes by Grant Michael.

  • 2 t olive oil
  • 1-2 cup chicken, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 lb kielbasa, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • 1/4 t cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 t onion powder
  • dash of salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 cups uncooked white rice
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 t Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 t hot pepper sauce

Saute first set of ingredients until onion is translucent (a few minutes). Then toss in rice and broth/stock and bay leaves.  Bring to boil, reduce heat for simmer, continue simmer for 25 minutes (that’s how long I cook all of my rice, it is always perfect).  Stir in sauces before serving.

I ususally have cooked chicken in my freezer and kielbasa is already cooked, so I just saute the vegetables with their spices for a few minutes, maybe toss the meat at the end with it all to heat it up (but the meat warms up in boiling water just fine).  But bite-size is the best way to cook up a couple chicken breasts quickly.  We used this amazing kielbasa that we found at our local warehouse store which had plenty of kick all in itself.

I actually left out the hot sauce (mainly because we don’t own any and I couldn’t see using it on other things) and it was still amazing.  Well, for me.  I would not recommend leaving this part out for the majority of families.  But it helps for picky eaters and can be added on a plate by plate basis.

Some possible yummy additions include: red beans, shrimp, Cajun seasoning, or a can of diced tomatoes.

I have cut Jacob’s hair many times.  I love the ease that our flowbee delivers (even if it does seem so very cheaply constructed, grr).  But I did not always use that aide.  The very first time I attempted to trim him up I did it free-hand.  What did this mean for Jacob: fear, pure fear.  It didn’t turn out too bad, thankfully we had a trip planned to my parents soon, and we used their flowbee.

Last night, I learned the meaning of the saying: turnabout is fair play.  I have been needing a hair cut for a while, and have most recently been contemplating donating to locks of love. But after measuring, I decided I would prefer a trim.  So Jacob grabbed our hair scissors and I brushed my hair and now my hair is quite a bit shorter.  He had to cut off more than I asked because there was so many dead ends, eek.   But I’d say he cut of around 4 to 5 inches and I’m so much happier.  I have no idea what he did.   I told him to cut a curve, but he rebelled and say straight would be easier for him.  Well, whatever he did was loads better than my hair was.  And no one has even noticed, which I’m taking as a good sign.

Maybe this isn’t the economy to be trying to do everything from home, but I have never been one to allow (meaning: pay) someone else to do something I am able to do myself.  That is how I was raised and I am happy to have a home where I can have room to make my own curtains and dinners and to cut our own hair.  I love doing things myself.  At Sam’s on Saturday Jacob and I had a discussion (meaning: disagreement) about rotisserie chicken.  I am against it on principle: I don’t want to be charged extra for some man hours they must put into it.  But Jacob had a good point in that recently I haven’t really had time to cook a chicken, or bake bread, which means that buying it, even at elevated costs, could prove necessary (bread, not chicken, I’ll find something, anything else to eat).   And I, maybe wrongly, believe that there are plenty of people still getting highlights, layers, and swept bangs that my sense of “duty” to the community is quite diminished.

Now for what you have all been waiting for:

BEFOREimgp2479

AFTER

After Haircut

It is still long enough for my knot I love to wear, but waking up with Jacob on it and not being able to move is, I hope, a thing of the past.

I wonder what things other families are taking on the responsibility of in their homes that they used to go out for, or delegate to others.  I know one prevalent change I’ve seen wide-spread is eating.  Food and families have been brought together, sit down dinners are not just for the 1950’s any more.  Families are growing closer and getting back to the basics, by learning cooking (if not gardening as well).  What a beautiful thing, conversation, work and creativity rather than a hurried drive-thru.

Jacob and I have been meaning to get out to the cannery. We really like being prepared, and although I love our Sam’s membership, they don’t sell beans or wheat.  I talked Jacob into a short 3 month supply because I really didn’t want to move a year’s supply of food (like he wanted), and we have a lot of food stored, stuff we regulary rotate, that could probably help us last for 6 months.  Anyway, Jacob was very excited about the idea that professionals packed our storage so it could actually last the 30 years that is claimed.  I personally do not want to haul around these boxes for 30 years but I think it is wise to have some emergency food.

So we bought all this for ~$250:

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The boxes constitute the minimum food necessary for 2 people for 3 months, the flour is just an add-on we needed.  I must admit, I’m happy we have them.  But I am also excited to start stocking up on some things that will make life pleasant for those three months, not just bearable.  I mean we do have things to make bread, necessity but also yummy, and cookies, 72+ oz of chocolate chips, I think some more tomatos and sauce to go with our pasta, and some variety in vegetables, past canned peas, corn and green beans, but it’s a good start, eh?

It was a cost that was hard to swallow but it was definitely cheaper that we spend on even 2 months of food, and it gives a feeling of preparation.  And although we did jump in with food storage, it was not our first time near the “water”, we’ve been buying extras of canned goods since before we were married and we did not go into debt just to gather these things we came to feel were necessities.

Although they were a bit too tall to fit under our bed, we found a home for them under my hugely tall craft table, yay!  We use the half gallon mason jars to store the flour we got from Sam’s.  It is perfect for our bread flour because the jar holds exactly what I use to make bread, amazing.

I’m really working hard to incorporate beans into our every day diet.  Yesterday we put a can of kidney beans, warmed, on our taco salads.  Oh they were so yummy!  I’m really struggling with trying to figure out what to do with beans!  I love chili and I have enjoyed making Cajun Red Beans Lite (I’m not the hugest fan of spicy).  But what else to do with them?  I still need to do some research.  Everyone talks about puting them on salads but beans cold, that does not sound appealing to Jacob and I.  I don’t mind cooking them with some meat and onions, maybe making a bit of soup.  But I’ll have to see if I can find some more ideas.  I loved the warm beans on the salad though!

Oh and btw, popped wheatberries do not equal popped corn kernals. >.<

Jacob and I love making our own pizza.  I started making it with my normal bread recipe, with dough that was left over because 2 people do no need 3 loaves of bread everytime.  But he was unhappy with the texture so I went searching for a good one.  We love the idea of the no-rise pizza dough, as we are both pretty impatient, especially Jacob and if I’m lucky enough to get him in the kitchen I want to keep him there!  I found the recipe here, but it makes two pizzas for us, so here is the “half recipe” or the recipe for one pizza pie dough.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 T yeast
  • 3/4 C water
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 1/2 T oil
  • 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 C flour (it’s always an estimate, especially when adding in wheat flour).

Proof the yeast in warm water with some sugar for energy.  Add the oil, then mix in enough flour for the dough to not be sticky, like any bread.  Then knead the dough until it is smooth.  One might let it rest for a bit, but we just roll it right out on our counter then transfer it to a corn-mealed pizza stone.  Top with favorite toppings. Bake at 375 F for 20-25 minutes.

One awesome thing about breads is that ingredients are always on hand (at least in my house).  The toppings are where a shopping trip might be in order…or not.  One day I made dough, just to realize that we were out of mozzarella cheese, oh no!  But we always have a 2 lbs block of cheddar sitting in the fridge, yeah we love that cheese.  I was so worried it would ruin our dinner, having that yellow mess on our pizza, but it turns out using what you have can lead to great discoveries.  Cheddar, Ham, and Pepperoni are our new favorite toppings.  Jacob never liked ham on a pizza without pineapple but he is now converted!  Be sure to experiment explore and toss some veggies on there too.

Butter pound cake is a cherished tradition in my house.  My mom absolutely loves buttery desserts.  She also raises chickens so the 6 egg requirement is a bit easier to swallow.  I’ve always loved fresh strawberries and these two are such a perfect pair.

Last night the stars aligned.  My parents had just brought us fresh eggs, we had left over heavy cream from an meal earlier this week, and I wanted fresh strawberries.  Late in the evening we threw this cake together and ran out in search of fresh strawberries while it baked.

This is an amazingly simple recipe; it is brilliant.  The eggs give it such weight and the cake comes out with the perfect crusty outside and the deliciously yellow spongey inside.

So it is not exactly a “pound” cake, with a pound of everything.  But what I love about this recipe is that it is not too much cake.  Well and not being a traditional baker, I do not have many special pans.  This cake is made in a 9″x13″ casserole dish.  Ours was extracted from the glass dish without need for butter or flour lining, but it is suggested to do both.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb (2 sticks) butter at room temperature (please for all things good, do not substitute margarine here)
  • 3 C sugar
  • 3 C all-purpose flour (sifted, then measured)
  • 1/2 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 6 eggs

Cream the first two ingredients.  Then add the remaining ingredients in order.  I scrambled my eggs a bit before adding to the mixture so that I could mix them in faster.  Bake it 325 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Our did not take the entire time (only about 1 hour) so I would start toothpick checking it around 50 minutes.  We ate it with fresh strawberries and the remainder of our pint of heavy cream whipped with some sugar into a fluffy topping.

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The cake would be great by itself or with some ice cream or any other fresh fruit, expecially peaches.  I wonder what else it could be good with?

Since the two of us were married, partner meal planning did not occur without Jacob suggesting lasagna.  So, I felt his birthday would be a perfect time to whip up a bit of his favorite pasta.  I really like the format of Cooking for Engineers for recipes in general.  My favorite from their recipe collection is the lasagna and their chicken pot pie. I followed their directions pretty closely.  However

Ingredients for meat sauce:

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 1/2 t granulated garlic (or 6 cloves of garlic)
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 t each salt and pepper
  • 1/4 C heavy cream
  • 28 oz puree tomatoes
  • 2 14.5 oz of diced tomatoes

Cook onion in oil.  Add the granulated garlic right before adding the meat.  Then brown the meat and season with salt and pepper.  Add the cream and allow to warm.  Add tomatoes, then allow to simmer for a few minutes.  (A lid is preferable so that now you can work on the cheese filling).

Ingredients for cheese filling:

  • 15 oz Ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 to 1 c of Parmesan cheese (I’m sure the fresher this is, more would be better)
  • 1/4 C basil leaves (I don’t like too much salad crunchiness in my lasagna so I reduced this to 1/4 C)
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1/2 t each salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients until smooth.  Pretty simple huh?

Remaining Ingredients:

  • 16 oz Mozzarella, shredded.  (We just bought block and shredded it ourselves, probably the best way to go with most of these ingredients)
  • 12 oven-ready lasagna pasta pieces (one box, in most cases)

Now lay out the pasta, and top each with the ricotta mixture.  This makes it easier to evenly distribute the cheese filling.

In the bottom of a 9″x13″ casserole dish place a bit of sauce, just to keep the pasta from sticking/burning. Lay three pasta/cheese pieces in, pasta on the bottom.  Top the layer with mozzarella and then sauce.  Repeat twice: pasta/cheese, mozzarella, sauce. But with the last three turn them upside down and place the pasta on top of the cheese.  Top this with the last of the sauce and then the end of the cheese.

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There is an awesome diagram of the layers at the end of the CfE recipe.  One important factor is to try to keep things even.  I put my shredded cheese in a measuring cup and divided it into 4 portions.  The sauce can be more eye-balled but pay attention!

This meal was amazing.  Jacob really enjoyed it.  We ate it for like a week as leftovers.  And with a base like this the recipe can be modified to your tastes, like more mozzarella, more herbs in the sauce maybe, or different meats, or no meats at all and some more vegetables.

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This may take a while to understand, find the ingredients, and put together, but let me tell you.  It is worth it!

For the first year of our dating, my now-husband complained about every single hair cut he ever got.  It was uneven.  It was too short.  The neck was done wrong.  He got to hating getting haircuts so much he would have dreams about hairdressers lopping off parts of his ear.

I decided to take matters into my own hands.  The first time Jacob let me cut his hair he was scared to death.  Ok, I would have been too.  I had never used scissors on a head of hair, unless you count that time I was sent home from school, but that boy’s hair just walked into my scissors!

Since that scary first-try, we have bought a Flowbee.  I grew up on a flowbee.  My sister was the only one in the family with hair that did not fit in the flowbee, so we all got hair cuts from home.  It really is a miracle machine.  It gives such a consistent cut.  You can just write down the entire family’s length and give them the same hair cut every time.  And for Jacob we just leave on the length he likes; the only time we change it is when I put on the angle trimmer.

What I really love is that the flowbee takes the guesswork out of the hair cut.  This also means that it can be done in a reasonable amount of time with absolutely no training on my part.  I can handle neck trimming and treating around the ears, and I’m learning sideburns (but I like them way longer than he does…darn).  So the little snips are easy enough.

I start with the flowbee, and before I used a flowbee, the goal is to get the entire head of hair the same length.  Once this is accomplished I trim around the ears.  I never touch his bangs, that length seems to work, but Jacob hates hair in his ears, or touching his ears.  I connect the trimmed ears around the neck and follow his neckline to see where it lies well.  I can trim his neck pretty high with it still looking good.

The last thing that is just personal to him, I assume, is what he calls his “wings.”  This term incompasses several problems he finds with his hair, all residing around his temples and above his ear.  Sometimes it can be extra poofy here and I need to thin it out.  And it also refers to extra hair falling into his face, he likes a sharp line around his face.

Cutting hair at home can be an adventure.  It can build trust.  It saves us a lot of money.  Yes there is an initial investment of flowbee and electric trimmer kit, but we enjoy not throwing our money to some person who does a job we aren’t even satisfied with anyway.  I really love how patient my Jacob is with me and my learning process, it is key to our enjoying this activity.

Our next goal is to have Jacob try to cut my hair, just a little trim to keep the split ends to a minimum.  I have a lot of hair, so a lot of fudge-room, but that way we could both be removed from salon process.

Sundays can feel very long sometimes.  Our church’s services last three hours each Sunday.  We try to eat lunch right before but we just cannot help being hungry when we get home.  Jacob has always been quite impatient for food, and this is exacerbated on Sundays.   So, our favorite meals on the wonderful Sabbath day are meals that are ready when we get home.  Right now for us that means crock pot meals.  Our two favorites currently are from his mother’s kitchen, chili and pot roast.  I’ve always made pot roast in the oven but Jacob and I have perfected the art (or are at least headed there) of slow-cooked chuck roast.

Ingredients:

  • 1 to 3 lbs chuck roast
  • 3-5 red potatoes chopped to large bite sizes
  • 3-5 carrots chopped to about same size
  • 1 onion microwaved for 5-6 minutes (not burning or melting)
  • 1 can of cream of mushroom soup

High for 6 hours or Low for 11-12

We put it on High from about 10 or 11 until 4:30-5.  There is plenty of room for timing with a slow cooker; we usually can just put it on our plates when we get home.  Please be sure to check the temperature with a meat thermometer before chowing down, just in case.

To prepare the pot, we place the meat in first, and place the potatoes and carrots on opposite sides of the roast, while the onion is microwaving.  Then top the meat with the onions and soup.

This past time we dressed up the meal with gravy.  I took the juices from the pot, the moisture released from the roast and the soup that was free and not coating the meat or vegetables, and put them in a warmed frying pan.  I whisked the juices as I added flour, giving the flour enough time to cook a bit and thicken the gravy.  Amazing topping.  This meal is also served great on top of rice, and as usual, this helps it go further.

Jacob has always been set on getting a membership to one of the nearby HUGE stores.  I really feel they have no other name, they are huge, everything they sell is huge, you get the picture.  So early in our marriage, before school started, I went shopping, price shopping.  I walked all over both Sam’s and CostCo, we have both in the same main shopping area 30 minutes away, and wrote down the prices of the things we could possibly want. This is a very important part, you cannot forget to do this at the store you normally shop at as well, which for our non-fresh food happens to be walmart.

After price comparing, and having a bad experience at Costco, we bought our Sam’s club membership.  Online we saw they had a wonderful reward for students wanting a membership: $15 gift card.  Sweet.  That made the price the same for a CostCo or Sam’s membership and I feel more comfortable at Sam’s, and they sell cheap gas there for Jacob.  But when we bought the membership the lady claimed they just stopped doing the student membership.  We bought it anyway, but Jacob complained to corporate because their website was then wrong.  And they said just go back in and we will fix it.  We got our gift card from Sam’s for being a student, and they had another, newer offer and gave us the money for both of them.  Therefore, we only had to save about $10 this year to pay for the extra membership expense.

We really love our membership.  Jacob stops there on the way home from work for gas.  I love buying my meat, cheese, milk, and cereal there.  Those are our best finds.

We eat a lot of meat for two people so this was an important thing to look at, Sams for some reason has the most reasonable meat.  Ground Lean Beef (90/10), which is the kind we perfer, is found there cheaper than the Walmart 85/15.  And as we have found out on another trip we can get about-to-expire meat even cheaper at Sam’s too.

Dairy is something else we fly through.  We eat cold cereal nearly every morning for breakfast, sometimes I switch it up for Jacob and make him eggs.  We discovered the name brand milk (2% is around $2.30) for a whole dollar cheaper than the Walmart brand, and sometimes milk is found closer to four dollars! We also lover our cheddar.  They sell the big 2 lb blocks for a fraction of the unit price found elsewhere.  And with cheddar you can make it last longer in the freezer, if you don’t think you can use the entire block soon.

Cereal can be up to 10 cents less per oz.  One draw back is you have to buy two bags at once of any given cereal.  But we go through cereal so fast we do not mind.  Frosted Mini Wheats, Life, and Honey Nut Cheerios are some of our favorites.  And you just rotate which one you use, unless it is life which both bags get used before a different kind is opened!

We manage to find other ways to save money, buying a huge 25 lbs bag of flour for the price of only two 5 lbs bags.  Or buying spaghetti sauce in three packs to save a few cents per unit as well as stock up on some food storage.

A few words of warning that we have run into:

  • Check the use by date, always! Can you really eat 12 packages of saltines in 2 months?  Some items have great dates, but it really depends on your situation and affinity for the product.
  • Some things are not a deal.  This is especially true if you are an avid coupon clipper.  Fruit in winter is not very cheap at Sam’s and can usually be found cheaper elsewhere.  In general, check your prices on a regular basis, or at least a seasonal basis.
  • Here today, gone tomorrow.  Do not depend on what the store will have in stock.  Each Sam’s get different deals and they all have rotating inventory.  And every time I’ve been in there I’ve heard at least 2 people say to their spouse/shopping buddy, “They move stuff around every time I come here, I can never find anything.”  I haven’t personally had that problem, but apparently others have.

Maybe a membership could be right for you, it truely depends on your circumstances, it might make more sense if you have 4 kids than if it is just the two of you.  But I love not having to go meat shopping every week, because we keep a month’s supply in the freezer.  It is definitely worth a look.