Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Pumpkin Curry Soup

Now that fall appears to be here in Maryland this soup will be making an appearance on my table. It is quick and easy to prepare, is fairly frugal in price and lends itself well to the crockpot. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Curry Soup

2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 cup chopped onion (1 small)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
3 cups chicken broth
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk

1. Melt butter in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, for 2 to 3 minutes or until tender. Stir in curry powder, salt and pepper; cook for 1 minute.
2. Add broth and pumpkin; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in evaporated milk. Transfer mixture to food processor or blender (in batches, if necessary); cover. Blend until smooth. Serve warm.

Makes 6 servings.

(Adapted recipe and image from

Monday, September 28, 2009

Menu Plan for Week of 9.28.09

Menu planning has to be one of the best organizational tools that I use. Being a working mom ~ and a busy working mom, like many of you (and, yes, you stay at home moms are working just get to stay in more comfortable clothes all day) ~ I sometimes need quick meals to get on the table so we can get back out the door to an activity. Some days, I'm not so busy in the evening and can prepare a meal that takes longer than 30 minutes from fridge to table. This week will be quick meal week ~ two scout events, teen Bible study, mom and dad's night out and a band outing....

Monday ~ Out - Kids do not have school today so we're off to do something fun and will have dinner out using one of the restaurant gift cards I have.

Tuesday ~ Taco Soup - recipe below - this is leftover from Sunday

Wednesday ~ Oven Baked Salmon Patties, Oven Roasted potatoes, peas

Thursday ~ Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup - I have to be back out the door 45 minutes after I get home from work for a Scout meeting!

Friday ~ Mom and Dad's night out! Kids are having ... I have no idea. I think we'll decide late that afternoon!

Saturday ~ King Ranch Chicken Casserole. I've been wanting to try this recipe for a while. If I cook the chicken before I leave for the school band outing, it should be easy to assemble when I get home. If I'm really on the ball that morning, I'll have it all ready to go in the oven when I get home!

Sunday ~ Grilled London Broil, Baked Potatoes and Salad

You can check out all the other great menus at I'm an Organizing Junkie for other great menu plans.

Here's the recipe for Taco Soup. One note - I cook with whatever I have on hand and don't generally follow recipes to a tee. I switch out the meat between cooked ground beef or turkey, chopped fresh chicken or beef (browned then put in the crockpot) or leftover meat. The great thing is that they all work and you don't feel like you are cooking the same meal often! The original recipe came from the Fix It and Forget It Cookbook.

1 package ranch dressing mix (like Hidden Valley)
1 package taco seasoning
1 can corn, drained
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes and green chiles
1 can tomato sauce (small can - after emptying, fill with water and add to pot)
1 can beef broth (or chicken broth if you use chicken or turkey)
2 cups of meat (see above - this time I used browned, ground beef with 1/2 a small onion mixed in)

If you like your soup with more broth, add 2 cups of water and 2 beef or chicken bouillon cubes. Leave this out, if you like a soup that is thicker and more chili like. I prefer more broth and added this - this is not in the original recipe.

Add all above ingredients to the crockpot and set on low. Cook 4-6 hours. Ladle into bowls and top with crushed tortilla chips, shredded cheese, chopped green onions and a dollop of sour cream.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Then Sings My Soul Saturday - Perfect People

I absolutely LOVE this song by Natalie Grant. Her words touch me deeply -

"There's no such thing as perfect people
There's no such thing as a perfect life
So come as you are, broken and scarred
Lift up your heart and be amazed
And be changed by a perfect God"

Let go of the imperfections - or what you believe are your imperfections. Self-doubt is a demon on your shoulder. It will gnaw away at you until it no longer sits on your shoulder but lives in your heart and mind. I fight this demon daily - am I good enough? When is good enough, good enough? And, so on. Fling off the demons and surrender your heart to the One who made you perfect - broken and scarred but PERFECT. You are good enough.


See more at Signs, Miracles and Wonders.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Free RedBox Movie

I love all things free! I've never rented a redbox movie before even though I pass a McDonald's kiosk every day when I go to and from work. But I might try this free code tonight and pick up a good movie for our Family Friday Movie Night. Hubby has been wanting to see a certain movie so maybe I'll surprise him with that.

Here are the codes ~

* 9HB6MP22 – valid at all Redbox kiosks (many are located in grocery stores)
* SMR8DVD – valid only at McDonalds

To begin your transaction, be sure to select “purchase w/ coupon code” in the bottom of the screen so you will get it free!

(Thanks to Faithful Provisions)

What fun, free things do you do with your family?

Left to Tell by Immaculee Ilibagiza

I recently read this book for my book club. It was an amazing story of a woman who lived through the Rwandan genocide of the early '90's. After reading Immaculee's story, I am ashamed to say that I had no idea these events even happened since at the time I was in the throes of being a newly wed and later a new mom. Not that that's any excuse for not knowing what was going on in the rest of the world but my world consisted of learning to cook decent meals, stretch a dollar and, later, take care of our babies!

This story is a testament of faith, hope, love and forgiveness. Immaculee showed pure faith and perseverance when everything around her was crumbling. She lived in a bathroom with 9 other women for three months with little food and limited conversation. I was most struck by her attitude of constant prayer and the ways in which God answered her prayers. It was very inspirational. How many of us wouldn't like to be in prayer for 24 hours a day - though under completely different circumstances, I'm sure!

There were several parts of this story that were difficult for me to read, particularly the details of her brother's death. But after reading that passage, I was so moved by how he went to his death sharing Jesus with his killers. Essentially, he was a martyr - could you do that? I don't even know if I could and I'm not sure I like that about myself.

A great read - I couldn't put it down once I started. You can read more about Immaculee's story and the foundation she has started to help the Rwandan orphans left behind at Left to Tell.

Frugal Friday - A Frugal Snack

The most frugal snack around - short of fruit and veggies - has to be popcorn. When I was a kid, we had popcorn just about every Friday night while we watched our favorite Friday night lineup on CBS. My mom used our cast iron skillet and a lid. I have not been able to master a regular pot much less my cast iron so I use a whirly pop crank style pot. It is so easy and quick - last night we cranked out a bowl of popcorn in 5 minutes - that's from kernel to in the bowl, ready to eat!

I can buy a bag of popcorn kernels from the Wal-Mart SuperCenter for $1.49 a bag. Typically, I get 8-10 large bowls of popcorn from one bag - maybe more. I have to admit I am not the chief popcorn maker at my house. That title belongs to my hubby - he makes the best popcorn and is always willing to oblige!

One bowl will feed all 5 of us on our Friday Family Movie Night. Sometimes we make two bowls depending on what we had for dinner - I have teens, too, so they are always hungry!

Popcorn is generally very healthy until you add the toppings. We use a white cheddar seasoning I buy at Wal-Mart for $1.99 a jar - not cheap but it sure is yummy! Sometimes we'll have the popcorn with just butter and salt or butter and Old Bay (for the crab lovers!) or parmesan cheese and garlic salt. All are winners!

Check out Life as a Mom for other Frugal Friday ideas.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Smithsonian Free Museum Day

Here's a great family freebie for Saturday, September 26th. Many museums to choose from. Go here for all the details.

What is a Quiet Life?

Before I get too involved in joining reading challenges and posting things that interest me, I thought I might go into what a quiet life means to me.

I am a busy working mom of three - two teens and a tween. We are very active in our church and with our local scouting organization. And, we always seem to have something that either needs done or we need to go do.

A year ago I went back to work after having been a stay at home mom for 14 years. This season of our life has been a challenge. I've had to figure out how to get everyone where they need to be, keep the house clean (haven't figured this one out yet!), get meals on the table, spend time with everyone, make sure homework gets done and the list goes on. I spent many days lamenting the fact that I was not more organized when I stayed home all day! The frenzied pace of the last year left me burnt out, disorganized and wondering where to turn next.

So, I turned where I thought best - I opened my Bible, drank in His word and prayed. I read how Jesus lived a simple life - he owned nothing but the clothes on his back and didn't worry about food, shelter or stuff. I read that it is better for us to store up treasures in heaven and not here on earth. I learned that, as Christians, we are supposed to live like Jesus. So, I began praying for ways to create simplicity in our life, for ways to alleviate the pressure I felt to be perfect in everything I was doing, for ways to give more - of myself and my earthly "treasures". And, slowly, in His time, the Lord answered my prayers. I have been able to delegate much of my scouting responsibilities to many other willing volunteers, my kids willingly stepped up to help with household chores (this was a huge answer to prayer in itself) and I let go of some of the "some day" projects that were never going to happen.

The next thing I did was start getting rid of stuff! How much stuff does one family need? We were holding onto things that we weren't using. My motto has become "let our useless stuff become someone else's useful blessing". I hope someone has been blessed by all the clothes I've taken to the GoodWill! This process is never ending and I'm far from having the house completely cleaned out but it's getting there. I'm hoping for a minimalist lifestyle but the movement has not taken root yet with the under 18 crowd in the house!

Then I tackled our calendar. I stopped filling in every square on the monthly grid. Do they all really need to have something written in them? I suppose it gives us a sense of purpose to have all of our days filled with something. I longed for blank boxes. So, I started scheduling regular Friday night family times - sad when you have to be sure to schedule time with your family! My sweet hubby and I have date night the first Friday of the month and the remaining Friday's are for all of us to be together. We enjoy making popcorn and watching a movie or playing board games. Now I'd like to say that the other six days are empty but that wouldn't be keeping it real. Some weeks are crazy and we're out every night. Some weeks we are home most evenings. This is a work in progress.

The quiet part? Well, when you live in a three bedroom rancher with three kids, a dog and a cat how quiet can it be? I'm trying! One day those three kids will be out on their own and maybe I'll long for the noise and chaos again, I'm not sure. For now, I want to enjoy them while they are home. After all, my ambition is to lead a quiet life...


Blogs I Enjoy

Here are a few blogs that I enjoy reading - most on a daily basis. They've all encouraged and taught me something in one way or another. If you haven't already visited them, please do.

Money Saving Mom - This blog is fantastic! It is the blog I go to for all the coupon deals and freebies I score plus it is full of great encouragement for Moms. Spend some time on this blog and read about Crystal's story. She and her husband are big Dave Ramsey followers and are saving up to pay cash for their home. I highly recommend this blog!

Money Saving Methods - Carrie teaches you how to make money through deals, couponing, etc.

The Happy Housewife - Toni is a military, homeschooling wife who shares lots of great ideas and she keeps it real. I love that about her - no fluff, no putting on airs - just reality. She is also local so some of the local freebies I can snag too!

Life as a Mom - Great recipes, more encouragement and information. Just like The Happy Housewife, this is another blog that keeps it real.

5 Minutes for Books - This is where I find most of the suggestions for books I want to read. My "to read" list is huge thanks to them! They have some fun giveaways too! And, yes, I have won from them - yay! More books!

The Yardsale Queen - Chris is so funny! I enjoy reading about all the stuff... I'm mean treasures...she finds while she yardsales. She is also fairly local to me and shares local deals too.

These are my favorites. Go take a peek and let me know what you think.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fall into Reading Challenge

I thought I'd take part in this challenge since I have a few books I'd like to read and maybe this will help me be more accountable. Here's my list in no particular order:

1. The Scarlet Thread by Francine Rivers - reading it for the second time for my book club

2. Dawn's Prelude by Tracie Peterson

1. Little House on the Freeway: Help for the Hurried Homeby Tim Kimmel - I bought this at a Family Life Weekend to Remember conference back in February where Tim Kimmel was the speaker. I highly recommend these conferences. They are a great opportunity for you and your hubby to spend time alone together and reconnect.

2. Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper. I've heard good things about how this book challenges you so I want to delve into it.

I may get a few more in but we'll see how it goes. What are you reading this fall?

Go to to see what others in the blogosphere are reading.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Welcome ....

I've tried several times to begin this post and don't know where to take it. Maybe I should reconsider this blog idea! Anyway, welcome to my blog. This is going to be my space where I can write about all of the things that interest me and that might interest you too. Maybe not but I guess we'll see where that goes.

I came up with the title "Leading a Quiet Life" from I Thessalonians 4:11 "Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands." I yearn for a quiet, simple life. I live a life of noise (three kids, dog, work...etc.) and constant activity. One of my favorite Bible verses is "Be still and know that I am God." Being still, with a book and cup of something, is what I desire. I relish those times even though they are few!

I am an avid reader and have given up most other pursuits (crafts and various other projects that would never hold my attention for very long) so that I can just read and spend time with my family. It's a shame that housework gets in the way! One of the things I will be doing here is posting reviews of the various books I read as well as joining in some of the great reading challenges that are out there. What do you like to read?

I am also a lover of all things bargain - free, cheap, you name it. As I'm able, I'll share the deals I find so that you can share in the thrill of the hunt too.

Other than my family and reading, one of my other passions is cooking. Cooking really should be a love language. My goal is to try one new recipe a week which I hope to share here with comments about what my family thought.

Hang onto your hats ~ it's bound to be a wild ride on the way to a quiet life! Enjoy!