Friday, November 26, 2010

Save that moolah

While browsing the Sunflower Market website I stumbled across an article they posted about how to stretch your budget. I know we may have all heard numerous ways to save a penny here and cut a cost over there, but I thought it wouldn't hurt to spread the word again for those of us that need a refresher. It always helps to save where you can. Grocery shopping is sometimes one of the biggest expenses we have during a month, or at least the most frequent, and all those loaves of bread and jars of spaghetti can add up! I personally love the fact that we save by cooking at home and making our own meals 98% of the time. We've really stuck to this rule, mainly because I can't afford to eat out anymore. Occasionally we do eat out but it is usually when we are with friends or family is in town or a special occasion like a birthday or anniversary. I think it is also very healthy to eat at home; better portion control, save on left overs for lunch/dinner the next day; I know exactly what is in the food I make.

That is all for my soap box today, thank you for listen to my rant!

10 Tips to Stretch Your Budget from Sunflower Market grocery store.

Sunflower Farmers Markets’ Stretching Tips –
and We Don’t Mean Exercise!
How to Stretch Your Dollar at the Grocery Store While Staying Healthy
Sunflower Health & Wellness Educator

1. Shop bulk. Bulk sections are typically inexpensive and versatile. Buy bulk
grains such as rice, couscous, quinoa, noodles, and oatmeal. They are not
only healthy but will keep you feeling fuller, longer.

2. Shop sales. Check out the weekly ads. Cutting coupons isn’t just for grandma
anymore! (Double Ad Day is Wednesday at Sunflower! Double the savings
with overlapping ads!)

3. Shop for fresh fruits and vegetables. They are portable snacks, quick meals,
inexpensive, and obviously, very good for you.

4. Menu Plan. Make a list before you shop and stick to it! This will decrease
impulsivity and increase the money in your pocket. Not sure what’s for dinner?
Pick up a Newflower Supper Solutions recipe, fully intact with a grocery list!
Better for your health, better for your wealth!

5. Shop the house brands! They are usually cheaper and can save you big bucks
on the same great product.

6. Cost Compare. It might sound tedious, but the extra effort can save you a
bundle. Gather the grocery fliers and compare the costs of your basics, bread,
milk, pasta, eggs, etc.

7. Keep a tally. Do the quick math. Keep track of how much the bill will be when
items are in your cart. This separates the “wants from needs.”

8. Don’t shop hungry. You’ll spend more than you initially planned. It’s happened
to the best of us!

9. Stock up on dippers. Peanut butter and hummus paired with fruits and veggies
can create a quick and healthy meal on the go but won’t run up a big bill.

10. Skip the prepackaged “100-calorie packs.” These can contribute to a larger
bill. Instead, buy a large bag of cookies or crackers and divide 100 calories
worth into sandwich baggies. You’ll get more and save big!

Holiday Christmas Card 2010

Modern Cranberry Noir Christmas
Get custom photo Christmas cards online at
View the entire collection of cards.

 Yep, I am done with my Christmas cards, now just patiently waiting for them to come in the mail. I usually don't share with everyone what they will look like, but why not! I'm pretty excited about them this year. Josh and I usually pride ourselves, ok we always pride ourselves, in taking the "do-it-yourself-photo" so we find a great one to use in the card each year. This year I wanted to do something different and with more background since now we live in Arizona and I wanted to get some cactus in the picture. We went and did a photo shoot the other day to take some nice photos of us. I think they turned out pretty good. The lighting wasn't that great because it was close to sunset, but geez we did them ourselves so I'll take it!

Shutterfly Photo Cards

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Sunday hike & photo shoot

Josh and I got lucky, due to him getting last Saturday off and me getting both Saturday & Sunday off from trading at work, to have this last weekend off together, saaaweeet!

While we didn't get as much done as I'd hoped, usually doesn't go that way anyway, we did get one thing done that I'd been wanting to get done. Took pictures for a Christmas card, and plus I just wanted to get some more nice pictures done of us. Luckily the rain was kind enough to give us a window but the wind didn't stop.

I still have to decide which one(s) to include in the card. Which one do you like best??? For your enjoyment...

I like #4, #6, #7...counting from the top.

I realize are a bit grainy but it was the time of day with the lighting. We tried the flash and it just didn't look great either. Pretty good for doing these ourselves! Happy Holidays from Arizona. Who knew the desert was so pretty?! If you haven't guessed, I have a thing to try to find the coolest, strangest looking saguaro cactus. It was pretty chilly but nothing like Utah or Northern Arizona with the snow. Colorado hasn't gotten much if any snow yet.

Remember When













Some photos of Thanksgiving's past and more to come from this year. I love thinking back to years past and remembering what happened. Looks like I didn't take that many photos of previous Thanksgiving's, or at least I don't have the photos anymore. 

I hope you all have a wonderful day & weekend. Enjoy spending time with your family & friends and eat until you get sick...ok maybe not until you get sick, but eat until you can't eat anymore and then go back for seconds later. 

I'm thankful for so many things and can't begin to list them all here. First and foremost for the friends & family I have and where I am in my life right now & where Josh and I are. I'm thankful God has provided the life He has for us and what ever else is in store.

I'm thankful for a roof over my head, food on my plate, a job and a career & a loving husband who is my best friend and partner for life.

I'm thankful everyday for these things. Especially thankful this year since I will be far away from most of my family & friends but will still be thinking of them all day long.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

{Thanksgiving Favorites} Part 1

I thought I'd post some of my favorite and now traditional recipes that I like and use on Thanksgiving. This year will mark the second year I've cooked Thanksgiving on my own, and the second time this year. We had Thanksgiving on Halloween this year when my parents came to visit, and we get to have another Thanksgiving this weekend when Josh's parents come to visit. I personally have a lot to be thankful for, so I'll save that for another post after all of the delicious tummy filling food combinations, a.k.a. recipes.

To start things off I thought I'd post the recipe for my mom's Cranberry-Apple Casserole. My mom has made this recipe for the last 8-10 years, at least if not longer, that I can remember. This recipe initially came from my Aunt Linda whom I've been fortunate to spend many Thanksgiving's with as well. I've had many people ask for this recipe, as it is fairly easy, is a great way to impress new family members, a new comer to the dinner table and a great way to introduce a new twist on cranberries to the whole Thanksgiving holiday - in my opinion anyway!

Cranberry-Apple Casserole
3 medium peeled, chopped apples (I like red ones to go along with the red theme)
2 cups fresh (thawed if you bought them and froze them) cranberries
2 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup sugar
3 packages instant Oatmeal, cinnamon spice flavor
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup flour (separate from other flour)
1/2 cup melted butter or margarine
1/3 cup brown sugar

In a large bowl combine apples, cranberries and 2 tablespoons flour tossing to coat it all. Add in 3/4 cup sugar and mix well. Transfer into a 2 quart (8x8) casserole dish. In another bowl, or the one you just emptied, combine oatmeal, pecans, 1/2 cup flour and brown sugar. Add butter and stir well. Spoon this mixture over the fruit mixture. Garnish with pecan halves and cranberries on top. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. It makes 6-8 servings and is EXCELLENT as a left over!

I don't have any pictures of the final product since I wasn't thinking of taking pictures, but when I make it this weekend I'll take some and re-post and add pictures so be sure to check back!! This is a GREAT dish to bring if you're going to a potluck at someone else's house.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Grilled Chicken Burgers

I apologize for the lateness of this post, as well as not posting recently. My work schedule has had me on a backwards schedule than the rest of the world so I wasn't really into posting. I'm back!

On Monday (November 8th) I wanted to do a date night with the hubs. Thinking of a more "cheaper" version than going out, I came up with this tasty meal and we dined down by the pool, i.e. where the grill is located. This was pretty simple to set up and put together, would be much easier if I didn't have to transport it down to the grill, but alas it was a "date night out" (to the pool!)

2 large chicken breasts, butterflied
2 small cans chopped green chilies
about 2 cups of Tomato-Basil Italian dressing marinade, or however much you choose
salt and pepper to taste

After slicing the chicken breasts in half to make thinner I cut them into sizes that would most likely fit onto a hamburger bun. Place into a casserole dish to marinade. Season with salt and pepper. Pour Italian dressing over the chicken to marinade. Any marinade of your choice would work, this went really well with the rest of the meal though. Then I put the green chilies on top of the chicken breasts. However, when grilling and flipping over, the chilies fell off but the marinade and grilling gave a lot of flavor to the chicken. I let this marinade for about 2 hours. Longer the better!

I wanted to roast a red bell pepper to put on the grilled chicken sandwich. I took 2 medium red bell peppers and put them directly on the grill. Turning after a few minutes on each side letting them get blackend but not chard. Then take them off the grill and I wrapped in foil for about 10 minutes. This allows the steam to really soften up the pepper. Then carefully remove some of the blackened outer layer, remove stem and seeds and slice to desired size. What a flavor from just the bell pepper!

Deep fried potato skins, at least its what I call it. My dad used to make this for my brother and I when we were younger. I think I probably should have kept them in the oil longer, because they turned out softer than crispy but either way, the potatoes were good!

I used 3-4 medium potatoes and sliced pretty thin, about 1/8". Heat vegetable oil in a pan about 1 inch deep. Tip: I'm not sure if its better for you, vegetable oil or olive oil, but I ran out of vegetable oil in the middle of this so I used half olive half vegetable. Still tasted the same. Once oil is hot, put enough potatoes in the oil to cover the surface and let "fry" for about 5 minutes, checking frequently. Take out carefully with tongs and put on a plate with papertowl to soak up the oil. Top with salt. Yum!

Homemade ranch dressing, as adapted from Rachael Ray. This is pretty good, and pretty close to the real Ranch dressing.

3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup sour cream, I substituted regular Greek yogurt and wasn't much different
2 tablespoons hot sauce, depending how hot/spicy you want it. Recommended to use at least 1 teaspoon
Dill, Parsley & Chives herbs of equal amounts, but to taste

Combine all ingredients into a bowl and mix. This recipe really is a taste test, as you can add more of this and that according to how you want it to taste. I'm still trying to find a dairy-friendly way to make this. I think I've found a way to make dairy-free buttermilk with soy milk, but still trying.

Added the Ranch to my grilled chicken burger with the roasted bell pepper and had some potatoes, what a great date night.

This was a very delicious and inexpensive date night dinner, and for us it was and is still GORGEOUS weather outdoors!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Tribe

"The family.  We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste, coveting one another's desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together."  ~Erma Bombeck

"Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family.  Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one."  ~Jane Howard

The best thing about family is that no matter the distance between you, they're always there with you no matter what. I'm lucky enough to be close to most of my family members, but not in location. Communication is a big factor in my life and I don't think I could go a whole day without talking to one of them.

I'm lucky to have such great family members that are my best friends. And equally some of my best friends I consider family because of the relationships I have with them. I can not count on two hands how many great relationships and great people I have in my would take dozens of hands. And for that I consider myself lucky. Even blessed. 

Family is there for you in good times to celebrate life's little accomplishments and festivities. Family is there for you when times are rough and even hurtful. The strength of family is like a dam holding back the water in a large lake; holding on to one another and standing by your side you can bare through tough times.

Profound? Wise? Possibly. I don't take for granted the cards I've been dealt. Instead I hold them tight in my pocket.

Monday, November 15, 2010

always one foot on the ground

The moment this song comes on I immediately picture myself dancing out in the rain barefoot on a warm summer evening just minding my own business without a care in the world. This is today's song and today's outlook: one foot on the ground... 
[I remember a picture just like this of me when I was young!]

"Fidelity" - Regina Spektor

(Shake it up)

I never loved nobody fully
Always one foot on the ground
And by protecting my heart truly
I got lost in the sounds
I hear in my mind
All these voices
I hear in my mind all these words
I hear in my mind all this music

And it breaks my heart
And it breaks my heart
And it breaks my heart
It breaks my heart

And suppose I never ever met you
Suppose we never fell in love
Suppose I never ever let you kiss me so sweet and so soft
Suppose I never ever saw you
Suppose we never ever called
Suppose I kept on singing love songs just to break my own fall
Just to break my fall
Just to break my fall
Break my fall
Break my fall

All my friends say that of course its gonna get better
Gonna get better
Better better better better
Better better better

I never love nobody fully
Always one foot on the ground
And by protecting by heart truly
I got lost
In the sounds
I hear in my mind
All these voices
I hear in my mind all these words
I hear in my mind
All this music
And it breaks my heart
It breaks my heart

I hear in my mind all of these voices
I hear in my mind all of these words
I hear in my mind all of this music

Breaks my
Breaks my heart 

all images found here

Friday, November 12, 2010

{one double zero}

Yep, this is my 100th post! I had to post this since as I was writing my next entry I noticed his would be the number one hundred. I really hadn't noticed how many I've made and kinda figured I was way past 100, guess not. Looking back over most of what I write about here, the topic has changed or taken a different course.

When I started this blog back in April 2009 my main purpose was to provide pictures and updates about Josh and I's life and happenings to friends and family members that weren't on Facebook or maybe didn't do all that picture sharing stuff and just provide one location for it all. A few months went by and we got engaged and then it began with wedding updates, then graduation, and so on. As of lately, the last 7 months or so it has become quite the cooking/food blog. I don't mind, like I've said before, it's really a great hobby I've come to enjoy. I still post updates and info about our lives and what's going on. It's a great way to communicate with others  about what is going on now since we moved and are starting a new journey in a new place. I love reading other blogs and seeing what everyone is up to. 

Looking back, the name for our site, Josh & Char, was just a generic one when I made it, but we all know who does all of the updates, posts & pictures :) Maybe a new name is in store...? I'm not kicking Josh out, just more of a name about what I write about, since I'm the one writing. 

Happy 100th post day!

Have a wonderful weekend all.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

A "can't-put-this-book-down-for-a-second" book

I recently read a great book. Scratch that, a very touching, heart-felt, message-worthy, eye-opening book that a good friend at work let me borrow. I think I finished the entire thing in 3 nights of reading. Wow. Seriously what a message it has. I think I'm going to get a copy of this book to read again, and in hopes the husband will read it too. I would recommend this book to friends as well. There are 3 authors of the book, one of which is a pastor at a church we started going to here in Phoenix. He's a great speaker and tells such a wonderful message. The way he speaks totally paints a picture for me and really helps me understand what is being taught.

The authors John Lynch, Bill Thrall, and Bruce McNicol wrote the book "Bo's Cafe" Bo's Cafe website here.

The message of the book is pretty well summarized on the site:

"Maybe we picked up “Bo’s Café”, hoping for a good story, a nice vacation read. We soon realize we can’t put it down, but aren’t sure why. We’re gripped by the drama and yet, at points, we’re laughing out loud. Then we start seeing ourselves in one or more of the characters. We see friends and those we long to care for but don’t know how. Gradually, almost imperceptibly, it now becomes a book of wisdom, for a way of life I had almost stopped believing was possible. Now, we’re underlining entire paragraphs. About two-thirds of the way through, the story actually begins to frighten us…because we’re not sure Steven will ever get this way of life he’s being offered. He’s been ruining his life and the lives of those around him. And what if he never gets it? Will we? Can we? Anxiousness then gives way to playful delight and great hope. We are crying, then laughing, then smiling as we begin to find resolution to pain we’ve been carrying for decades. We are deeply sad when the story finishes. We want it to go on and on, until our lives look like those of Carlos, Cynthia, Andy, Lindsey, Steven, Hank and Bo.

It all undoes us…then leaves us longing and desperate to form such a community for ourselves and those we love. It captivates our souls. We read it again…Then we start making phone calls. Next thing we know we’re sitting on the deck of our own Bo’s Café, with a group of friends, writing our own story "

I think this book is great bcause no matter where you are in your life, you can some how relate to the characters in it and find yourself among those people going through the same situations.

Bottom line: you're not alone, never were and never will be. It is the process of finding the other(s) that need you and want you and that you can connect with and have a relationship with so that you too can see yourself in a different perspective.

That is all for now. Have a wonderful Friday!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

{Zucchini-Chocolate-Chip Bread, or Heaven}

I've been making breads lately, seems the season to do so. Still on my pumpkin bread kick, but decided to made some zucchini bread. Woah, wait a tick...bread with veggies included? Yes please! I adapted this recipe from Taste of Home and added some extra "stuff" to flavor it up a bit. Glad I did!

3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil**
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups shredded zucchini (about 2 medium)
optional: 1/2 cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake in 2 loaf pans for 55-65 minutes.

I added extra: 1 teaspoon nutmeg, 1 cup of chocolate chips, 1 tablespoon flaxseed (more on this in a second)
**I substituted 1 cup vegetable oil for 1/2 cup vegetable oil and 1/2 cup unsweet applesauce. So much better for you!

For some reason I just am not a huge fan of adding nuts into my breads, I like it but when I make it on my own I just don't add it in. I think the nutmeg added a great deal of flavor.

In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda and sift together. Here I added the flaxseed. In another bowl add eggs, vegetable oil, applesauce, vanilla, and cinnamon. Beat eggs well and mix in with the dry ingredients. Mix well. Add in the zucchini and mix, add in chocolate chips and mix. Pour into a greased and floured loaf pans and put in the oven. Be sure to test for doneness, I usually put too much into one pan. I think the chocolate chips were a great addition! Enjoy!

Alright, now about flaxseed. I think I first heard about this on a cooking show. So I bought some and decided to see what difference, if any I could see. So far I've put it in all of my bread recipes (pumpkin, banana) using just a teaspoon or a tablespoon here and there. Its got a texture similar to flour, but darker brown. No taste difference. In the batter I can visually see a difference, but it looks more like whole wheat than anything. Not weird, I promise. So upon researching I've found that flaxseed is actually good for you. According to WebMD   :

"Although flaxseed contains all sorts of healthy components, it owes its healthy reputation primarily to three ingredients:
  • Omega-3 essential fatty acids, "good" fats that have been shown to have heart-healthy effects. Each tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains about 1.8 grams of plant omega-3s.
  • Lignans, which have both plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities. Flaxseed contains 75- 800 times more lignans than other plant foods
  • Fiber. Flaxseed contains both the soluble and insoluble types.
Lignans may help protect against cancer by:
  • Blocking enzymes that are involved in hormone metabolism.
  • Interfering with the growth and spread of tumor cells.
Some of the other components in flaxseed also have antioxidant properties, which may contribute to protection against cancer and heart disease."

And from

"Flax seed is made from flax which is a plant that’s been among us for thousands of years"

"Flaxseed oil can be used to help treat skin diseases like eczema and psoriasis like fish oil does."

"Many nutritionists recommend the regular consumption because of all the flax seeds benefit which have been shown to prevent or reduce the symptoms of arthritis, colitis, cancer , heart disease and even acne. The oil contained in the seeds is also a known natural estrogen balancer that if used regularly can help prevent and reduce symptoms that arise during menopause. It’s also a great source of fiber which can help especially in relieving constipation." 

While this may all sound jibberish, it sounds to me like there is a pretty good health benefit from using this in your cooking. I like to use Wheat germ as well, another great product. What types of things do you use in your cooking that are better for you?

Have a wonderful week!

Half a decade has passed...

Hard to believe how fast 5 years go by, but it does go by pretty quick. A short (or long) 5 years ago on November 4th, 2005 a first date was had that would spark the chemistry between two people who now are married. Yes, I'm talking about Josh and I's first date, stay with me here.

Our first date consisted of ice skating in Fort Collins, CO at the Epic Center. What memories. Josh tried to jump over the wall to impress me, like all hockey players do, it was cute. But he ended up falling, not hurting himself. I think he might have been nervous :) Then we went and played frisbee golf over in a park near the ice skating rink. That was pretty fun, and it was beautiful outside, perfect weather! And then we went over to Rasta Pasta....ah so many fond memories of Rasta Pasta. Probably one of my all-time favorite restaurants ever. First off, I love pasta, so that was easy. The flavors and varieties of pasta there were great. Every time we were in Fort Collins and deciding where to eat, Rasta Pasta came first to my mind.

So let's back up just a sec. How did we meet? I worked with a guy named John B. in Loveland, CO at the time. We'd worked together for 6 years and became such great friends. He had always been into hockey and always talked about his team playing in Greeley. I was in my second year in college at UNC in Greeley. John started asking me to come watch their hockey games, so I decided I didn't have much else to do on Friday nights so I went to watch. I quickly made friends with all the other girlfriends and wives of the guys that played. A couple of the guys that played were actually cousins, one being John. I met Rebekah, who was the girlfriend of John D. She mentioned one time that Dewey (this is how everyeone referred to Josh, by his last name) had feelings for me and liked me. This was back in...July I believe when I started coming to watch.

So come Halloween and the famous, annual Halloween party at Mikey (the goalie on the team) and Jesse's house. To make a long story short, Josh was there later that night and we kind of formally met that night, ah-em and by that I mean we kissed. So Rebekah gave him my number and the week after we talked almost every night on the phone and decided to have a real date, insert November 4th.

From then on it was history so to say, or I guess the present as we're still together?! We'd dated for 4 years before getting engaged and now have been married for one year and have been together for a total of 5. Time really does fly.

Talk about a blast from the past! Taken November 2005. From top left: Courtney M. (Just married to Andrew, fellow hockey player), Kim M. (Married to Jeff, fellow hockey player and cousin to John B. and Mikey M.), Rebekah D. (Married to John D., fellow hockey player), Stephanie B. (Married to John B., fellow hockey player) and Leota B. (Married to Steve B., fellow hockey player). See I was a perfect fit!

Hanging out at Leota and Steve's house after a hockey game one Friday night. We had MANY Friday nights like this. With Josh and I are Courtney and Andrew, recently married! This was the first "couple" picture of Josh and I, maybe a week after we'd started dating.

Our first Easter, 2006
May 2006
May 2006
April 2006, hockey players behind us!
Memorial Day 2006, fishing at Red Feather Lakes, CO

January 2008

May 2009

June 2009, engagement picture