Tuesday, May 26, 2009


This is just a friendly reminder that this is the last week for you to order your Parenting on Track Home Program for half off plus free shipping! If you forgot or put it off, do it now!! You'll never regret it. See my other post for more information or visit the Parenting on Track website!

Here is the information again!

So through the month of May (and while supplies last) we are offering you, your friends, and your family any of the three Parenting On Track™ Home Program packages at 50% off the regular retail price. After you've chosen the program package that's best for you, simply apply Code ONTRACK531 during our secure checkout. No additional charges will apply – this means Parenting On Track™ pays the shipping and sales tax for orders shipped within the US!

As an update. Vikki commented on my A Gift for You post and we are now BFFs! Isn't that great!! I'm so excited! I wonder when she'll come over for dinner?? I don't even know how she found my blog except she must use google.

Here are some pictures of the girls after family meeting. They have just gotten their allowance and are filling out their tithing slips for donations at church. I've been impressed and humbled at how generous sweetie Heart is! She gives more than she needs to and does it without prompting! I guess I must be doing something right!

Enough looking at these cheese balls. Go place your order!!

Piture Update!

Sisterly Love

Roller Blades!
Isn't this pretty!
Common Sight!

Tip Tuesday

Here it is Tuesday again. We had a wonderful day off to celebrate Memorial Day. We live on the parade route so we had a few friends over to watch the parade. It seems I've always lived on the parade route. When we were kids we did too! Maybe my life is a parade, the question is am I marching in it or sitting on the side lines watching it go by. Hum...deep. Moving on.

The tip for today. I am a scheduler. I have a big calendar that I write everything on. I won't even make plans unless I can look at my calendar first. I love the More Time for Moms Calendar and part of their proceeds are given to charity.

But I digress, my tip, yes that's what I was talking about. As a scheduler, I should say beginning scheduler, I schedule what we are having for dinner. So Monday is pasta night, Friday is pizza night, etc. Now if you are trying to be frugal having pasta once a week sounds pretty good, but have you seen the price of pasta sauce? Now granted I only buy the good stuff. The stuff that only has a handful of ingredients and no high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated oil. If you look at most of the cheap and even some expensive jars of sauce at the store most have these two ingredients in them. And for me and my family those are big no nos! So instead I make my own sauce. Yes, that's right I make my own sauce and it is so good and so easy! And as an added bonus is is tons cheaper!!

So you ask, how do you do it. I know you want a recipe. So I'll give you one. But after a couple of times you'll wonder why you ever needed a recipe. Mostly, I put in the basics, simmer and serve. You can add anything you want.

Pasta Sauce

Olive Oil
I small onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 - 28 oz can of plum tomatoes, whole or diced
fresh basil
dash of oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in sauce pan and simmer the garlic and onion. Throw in tomatoes & raise heat until it starts to bubble. add basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Break up the tomatoes with a fork and stir the sauce occasionally. Cook for about 20 minutes.

That's what the recipe says. This is how I do it. I drizzle oil onto the bottom of my sauce pan to cover and heat. I skip the onion, because it gives us gas. I do sometimes substitute leeks for the onion. It gives a similar flavor but no gas! And saute the garlic (and leek) until the garlic begin to turn golden brown. Watch the garlic it burns fast! Throw in my tomatoes and raise the heat. sprinkle in some Italian Seasoning, salt and pepper. I usually turn down the heat and simmer. I then use my immersion blender to puree the sauce. Tada fresh pasta sauce done in minutes!! It takes about as long to make it as it does to boil the water.

In the summer when we had tons of fresh basil I used that and it was heavenly!! An even easier way to make sauce and the way I am doing it now is like this. But first I must give a little explanation. Last year we bought into a CSA. Since we have such a small back yard, it just made sense for us to do that. During the summer we'd go and pick up our fresh vegetables from our farmer. We'll along it come and with it comes basil. So what do you do with basil? Well, you cook with it, but we were getting a lot...every week! So I started making basic pesto. I can't make pesto like you would buy in the story due to Sweet Girl's allergies to dairy (at the time) and nuts. Plus pine nuts are expensive. So I made basic pesto (recipe to follow) and froze it in ice cube trays. Popped them out and have had them storing in the freezer since last summer. I probably have a gallon freezer bag full of pesto. I use it occasionally on pizza, but that seems to be the extent of it.

Since summer is coming on and we just bought into another CSA this year, I was looking in the freezer wondering how to use the pesto since I'm sure there will be more basil coming. I was pulling out frozen diced tomatoes (I get them in the #10 cans which holds about 6+ lbs and freeze them in 2 cup servings which is the serving size for 1 can of tomatoes) and noticed the pesto. Now when you think about it, it makes sense. What is in tomato sauce, what is in pesto. Put them together and you're done. I heat my pan, throw in 1-2 cubes pesto and thaw. Add my tomatoes and a little salt and pepper. Simmer. Blend. Done! It's so good. You'd think it was summer again! And it's totally fast.

Minimalist Pesto

2 loosely packed cups fresh basil leaves, big stems discarded
salt to taste
1/2 -1 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
warm water for thinning

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender.
Process, stopping to scrap down the sides and process more.
Add warm water as needed.

I use my hand held immersion blender for this too. Put the ingredients into a high sided bowl. Put on an apron and blend. Works great. Freeze and use as needed or wanted!

Enjoy your yummy, frugal pasta sauce!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tip Tuesday

Here it is Tuesday again. As I was standing at my kitchen counter cutting vegetables for lunch, I was wondering what tip I was going to come up with today. Something that you would think was duh. I looked down and there was my tip.

I happen to be cutting up a cucumber at the time. Don't you just hate a bitter cucumber? I know I do. It always seemed like a bit of a chance whenever I would buy a cucumber. I've never really learned a test you can do to "pick a good one." You know the ones. The thumping of a watermelon. The smelling of the soft spot on a cantaloupe. Looking at the stems of grapes. The pulling of the leaves of a pineapple. Maybe if you stick a cucumber in your ear and you hear the ocean it's good. You should go try it before you read anymore!

Did it work? No? I wish I could have been there to see you do it!

Shortly after I was married we had some friends over. The husband, can yo believe it, gave me this tip.

Buy a cucumber. Whichever one looks good to you. Cut off the end of the cucumber and rub the cut off end in a circle over the other cut end. One of two things will happen. You will get a clear liquid come out, which means the cucumber is fine, peel, cut and eat. OR you will start to see a white foam come out. That is the bitter stuff I guess. Get as much foam out, you can rise and start again. You may get more foam or you may be done. That's it! So easy and you cut off the end anyway.

After you do that you may want to make some Tzatziki Sauce!

Tzatziki Sauce

1 cucumber, finely diced or grated (I remove the seeds)
2 garlic cloves, finely diced
2 cups thick Greek style yogurt
1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
2 tbsp. olive oil
Parsley as desired
Salt & Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Grate cucumber and sprinkle with a little salt. Let cucumber sit in a sieve for about 30 minutes, then squeeze dry. Mix with remaining ingredients and chill before serving.

**Make sure you use the thick Greek yogurt in this. If you have another type, give it time to drain through cheesecloth in a sieve to thicken up.

Serve with Pita bread triangles, cut up veggies or roasted or grilled meat.

Or you could just go to the Greek Corner Restaurant in Boston and get it there. Or Anna's Greek Restaurant in Columbus, Ohio. Or better yet, just go to Greece! I bet you get the best Tzatziki there!


Friday, May 8, 2009

A Gift for You

So I've talked a bit about it here in my blog. But if you've talked to me in person you'll know I'm all about the Parenting on Track program by Vicki Hoefle. If you don't know me or haven't heard my little story here it is in a nut shell...hopefully!

I had a baby! It was great! She was beautiful and lovely and everything to me. She still is, by the way, but she's not so little anymore. She turns 7 next month! My whole world revolved around her and her needs. Not all bad, but there comes a time when I need to be the parent and she needs to be an obedient child and that wasn't happening. Why not? Because I never taught her to be that way. There was whining, crying, temper tantrums, aggressive behavior whenever parental authority was put into play and at other times too. I tried timeouts, explaining, speaking sternly, and many other things to get thing under control. None of it worked. What to do?

Along comes number two. I've learned a few things but was still struggling with Sweetie Heart. We decided it was best to go to family counseling. That's helped a little bit but we still were having the same problems. I have to say there were times I became that mom I never wanted to be. Times where I wondered how I could possibly get through this time. If it was this bad now, how was it going to be when she became a teenager?? The thought was truly frightening!

We moved here to New England, still struggling but we were doing a little better...sometimes. They say consistency is the key, but even my family therapist said that being consistent is hard to do. Even she struggled with it. So we moved forward. Sweetie Heart started school and I heard about a parenting class that was offered, for free, by the school. I wanted to go but Webby was in school that night and I wanted to the kids to get to bed on time, so I didn't go. Did I mention there was free childcare?! What was I thinking?! Sweetie Hearts best friend's mom took the class and told me about it. She loved it and highly recommended it to me.

Kindergarten, for the most part went well. Sweetie Heart did great. But when she came home from school she would lash out at the family. Not just me and Webby but Sweet Girl, too. Many times it seemed to come out of no where. We'd be walking home and boom off she'd go. I didn't know what was going on or why it was happening. I talked to her teacher. If something was going on in the classroom I needed eyes there to tell me what was going on. She was shocked at the behavior I described. She said she was doing great in class and often helped her as a teacher and the other children in class. But she said she'd look into it and see what she could find out. Nothing really surfaced.

Fast forward one year. First grade starts. More of the same behavior. I talk to the school counselor about it and she agrees to work with Sweetie Heart. She suggest a sixth grade mentor. So she meets with her mentor once a week and they play games and has someone to look up to. It helps some but there is still stuff going on at home. More harsh words and tantrums. I was anxious for the class to be announced. I was going to take the class no matter what this time. and so I went. Webby was home most of the time, but some work things happened and he was out of town for 2 of the 4 weeks. I packed the kids up and took them to the free childcare. They cried and after a hug and kiss and reassuring words I walked out of the room. This class is exactly what I needed and nothing was going to keep me from the class!

I cannot explain to you how much I wish I had had this information before I had kids. Even if I had gotten it when my oldest was a couple of years old it would have saved me so much heartache and frustration. I love my kids and felt like a failure as a parent. But now I have the skills to be the best parent I can be, that I want to be! I cannot put into words how much I wish this for everyone. If I had the money I would buy each and every one of you a copy of the program.

One of the things that Vicki said that struck me the hardest is this. "Most of us go into parenthood knowing what we don't what to do. But few of us actually decide what kind of parent we want to be and decide how we are going to accomplish it." The other thing she said is , "kids grow into behavior, not out of it if it works. We train our kids to behave the way they do. Children always do what works, parents consistently do what does not!"

As a parent it is my responsibility to make sure my kids are ready for the world. I have to teach them everything they need to know to be able to walk out my house at 18 and confidently walk into their own lives. How do I do that? Am I doing it now? Well, the answer was no. But now things are getting better. It's not perfect. There will always be times when one or more of us choose to not do what we should or make mischief of one sort or another. But when put in a place of choice my children become empowered and isn't that what we all want?

So go to the Parenting on Track website and check it out. Sign up for the free weekly newsletter, it is very encouraging. And if you are struggling or think that this program might help you order it! You're saying to me, "Sarah, that's pretty expensive!" Yes, it is and worth every dime! but here's the gift that Vicki wants to give you.

So through the month of May (and while supplies last) we are offering you, your friends, and your family any of the three Parenting On Track™ Home Program packages at 50% off the regular retail price. After you've chosen the program package that's best for you, simply apply Code ONTRACK531 during our secure checkout. No additional charges will apply – this means Parenting On Track™ pays the shipping and sales tax for orders shipped within the US!

My friends this program is a gift in and of itself. The 50% off is just a bonus gift! Please consider this information my gift to you! And she's really funny! She's raised 3 kids by herself for a little while so she knows how it is and how you feel. She's really great! I want her as my BFF!

Be Well!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tip Tuesday

This tip is especially for you ladies out there. Not that a husband shouldn't do it. But we women and mother's so seldom take the time to do it. We need to make it a priority.

So my tip for this week is...

Yes, you! Take a break! If you can fanagle it, leave the house and stay away for a few days (and night!) Now that my friend is a break. Especially for all you moms out there. With baby number three coming along in September it's going to be at least a year and a half before I'm going to be able to take off overnight alone.

So some good friends from church (all moms with more than one kid) decided it was time to take a little break. We live close enough to Boston that it seemed like the most exciting place to go. There is also a temple for our church there. Webby worked extra that week so he had Friday off to take care of the kids while I packed my bags, jumped into Ms. A's van and took off into the great blue yonder. On the way we stopped at an L.L. Bean Outlet where everyone got something. Well, I didn't; L.L. Bean doesn't really cater to pregnant women. We checked into the hotel, freshened up and went to the Boston Temple for the evening! What a great way to spend the evening.

Ms. J's husband graciously paid for our suite in Cambridge, Mass. It was a great place! We had a double suite, with a king size bed, pullout couch, stove, full size refrigerator, and a massive hot breakfast provided in the morning. Now I'm talking eggs, bacon, hash browns, yogurt, fresh fruit, pastries, cereal, bagels, juice.... It's a better breakfast than I normally have, that's for sure. So we had an abnormally large breakfast and we hit the streets. We grabbed a bus to Harvard Square and then grabbed the T downtown. What did we do? I don't really know. We walked around Boston Common, rode the T some more, went on a ferry ride to a battle ship, but didn't get off to see it; We just wanted to ride the ferry! And we took pictures. Actually, I didn't take any pictures. I never do. So I left the camera at home and let others take the pictures. Here is Ms. L and I waiting for the ferry ride. Not bad for a 20 weeks pregnant woman and a woman with balance issues, huh?! On a pier no less!

Mostly it was just a bunch of silliness and it was great. We stayed up too late pampering ourselves and each other. We ate a bunch of junk food. We watched a chick flick. We showed sides of ourselves that we wouldn't show normally and saw sides of each other! And laughed and laughed! We fed our souls in so many ways! It was what we all needed! So ladies find some friends and take a break. It is so worth it to be able to be unencumbered by life and just pretend we are young and single again. Not that I don't love my family. Yet it helps my family for me to be away just for a few days.

And I must put in that we ate at this amazing Greek resturant. Oh, it was sooooo good!! It was almost an accident that we found it. I saw it out the window of our bus when we were going to Harvard Square in the morning. We were running out of time so we didn't get to Little Italy to get lunch. We figured that we would find something closer to the hotel. We were on the bus and a couple of us (not me) thought we had gone past the hotel. So we quickly got off and looked around. Look a Greek restaurant! It didn't look like much from the outside, but when we walked in they were speaking Greek to eachother. Local Greeks came in for a bit. It was to die for! If you are ever in Cambridge, Mass stop into the Greek Corner Restaurant for a Sampler Plate Appetiser and a Corner's Special GYRO with the greek salad. Oh, it was so good! They even have two locations, Greek Corner II is in Harvard Square if that's more convient for you.

So take a break and have some fun with the girls!