Mommy Moments

What a lovely gift it is to be a mother. Yet, it is so tempting at times to just get overwhelmed and miss out on the joys of it. Overwhelmed by tasks, decisions, and situations. Just a few minutes ago I was holding my precious baby girl. She was sound asleep, comfortable in her mother’s arms. It was a peaceful moment but, I was tempted to just dwell on things outside my control. Outside of mine, but never outside of God’s. I was borrowing trouble and ruining the moment.

How easy it is to not notice the little moments. Yet, these are the moments in which we live. We do not have minutes, hours, days, or years at once. We have moments. It’s in these moments we live for God and impact lives. Sometimes it is so easy to look far and wide and not see what is right in front of us.

Today I share with you some lovely mommy moments and challenge you to purposefully remember to take advantage of little moments.

Holding a tiny baby girl as she peacefully breathes in and out, comfortably asleep. 

Comforting a scared boy and praying with him, thanking God that He is always near. I asked him if he would like to pray and thank God and he said yes. While he did not say the words his little head, buried in my arm nodded yes the whole time as I said the simple prayer. I was personally comforted, that Yes, God is always there. 

Seeing my baby girl “meet” her first doll. I thought Natalia was too young for a doll, but she coos and talks to it for a good thirty seconds before gnawing on it’s head and she gets VERY excited every time she sees her little baby.

Hearing Christopher say ‘yes’ he loves Jesus, and getting excited about Christmas.

Watching Christopher play with his cousins. 

 Helping a very tired little boy explore his stocking.

A moment of peace as both kids sleep.

Hearing’s Christopher’s beeps and “vrooms” as he watches a train go round a track.

Christopher bringing me a “BOOK!”

Natalia reaching out to me and grabbing my face. 

Christopher, finally, eating the food set before him many reminder’s that that was the food he had.

Natalia’s incredible excitement each morning as she sees each of her three favorite people. 

Christopher greeting me with his good morning smile asking for a snuggle. 

Natalia singing.

Christopher and Natalia holding hands.

Christopher seeing “dad” after Mark has been out. 

Organic Produce for Less (and my first experience with Azure Standard)

I prefer to buy my produce organic, which can get pretty expensive. Add that to the cost of lots of grass fed beef and grass fed raw dairy and it can be hard to keep in our budget. In facts it takes a bit of creativity to do it!

One of the ways I keep my costs down is knowing WHERE and WHEN to get produce. By buying the produce that is in season from the right places, and also getting to my favorite health food store at the RIGHT time, I can really cut costs.

Yesterday, I picked up my first Azure Standard order. Their prices they have are phenominal!

Wait, what is Azure Standard?

Azure Standard in a nutshell- We specialize in natural, organic, earth friendly foods and products. We deliver directly to customers, buying clubs and retailers by semi truck and UPS. – From the Azure Standard website.

You can read more about them here.

Through them I am able to get many, many, things for a price unparalleled to anywhere else. Organic apples for $0.50 a pound? Don’t mind if I do! It is such a blessing to be able to cut the costs of many foods through them making healthy food afordable!

I actually heard about Azure Standard a couple of years ago, but it took me a LONG time to finally try it. I now wish I had been ordering from for the last couple of years! It was really quite simple. All I did was find my drop point (call and ask), sign up for an account, make my order, then I was contaced by the drop manager when to be at our drop site.

Let’s see:

  • Cheap prices
  • Less grocery store trips
  • Getting to decide what I want to get from the comfort of my home
  • Not have to take my kids inside a store to get those cheaper prices, or all that lovely food I ordered
  • Not having to drive NEARLY so far as I do to get to the health food store I was getting my grains from
  • Easy to order
  • Easy to pickup (though a tinsy winsy bit chaotic as boxes upon boxes are sorted out)
  • 30 minute “grocery store trip”
  • A “favorite” section where you can bookmark anything you find on the site that is a good deal
  • The garlic I got from them is the BEST garlic I have ever seen. In fact all the produce was gorgeous. Well, not the carrots, but I ordered juice grade on purpose.
  • Many sales each month making prices even better.

There are a few cons:

  • There is not a guarentee that everything will be in stock when your order is packed (if it is not, you are simply not charged for it)
  • Pick-up time is an estimatation so you might need to be at the drop point a little earlier or later then planned. The order time I was given was right-on though.
  • You have a minimum order requirement of $50. But, you could split that with a friend and you don’t have to order each month.
  • Not seeing the food before you get it. I probably won’t use it during summer very much since I like to shop at the Farmer’s Market and I like to see delicate summer produce before buying.
  • Feeling out of place being the only one there not in a van or mini-van, but that is hardly a problem.

There is also a handling fee for many drop points. Ours is 8.5%, but I don’t think that really belongs under cons because I saved WAY more then 8.5% off my total order, you don’t pay taxes on the food, AND I think I could be convinced some days to pay $11 (the handling fee I paid on my massive order) just for getting to go grocery shopping without having to take two young kids out of the car! Well, maybe not. It depends.

What did I get?

  • 20 lbs of “in season” organic #2 apples – $10.00
  • 25 lbs of organic red onions – $18.80
  • 1 lb of the most GORGEOUS organic garlic – $5.70
  • 8 cans Pure Alaskan Think Pink, Wild Pink Salmon @ $3.65/ 14.5 oz can -$29.20
  • 5lbs Baking Soda (not aluminum-free so it is for cleaning) – $4.10
  • 12 lbs Organic Acorn Squash – $13.50
  • 5 lbs Organic Frozen Peas – $9.95
  • 25 lbs Organic #2 Carrots – $18.00
  • 5.5 lbs Organic Red Beets – $6.95
  • 1 lb Organic Ginger – $5.95
  • 9 lbs Organic Sweet Potatoes – $13.50 

Order total with 8.5% handling $147.18

I know that is a lot of vegetables, but we eat a LOT of vegetables and our downstairs is rarely heated so it gets pretty cold during the winter. I set out the produce for it to dry, then put them downstairs on shelves I have for the purpose of holding bulk food. 

Christopher setting out carrots to dry before being put downstairs.
Christopher shooting said carrots with the gun he had just made. Don’t let that face fool you, he was making loud “boom” noises. I told him he could not shoot his aunt, sister, or me but he COULD shoot the carrots and couches, so he did.

The OTHER way I get organic produce affordably is to go to the store when there is discount produce. Learn your store. Which store produce managers are pickiest about the state of their produce? When do they go through the produce marking produce down? Hint: early, but not right at opening.
There is one health food store in town that is VERY picky about the produce, and usually by about 8:30 – 9:00 there is quite a bit of produce marked down, without most of it already bought. Early is the best time to get it, but not too early, because standing there while a the produce manager is marking down bins of salad is… embarrassing. The Dillons I go to tends to work or marking stuff down around 9:00. I prefer smaller health food stores though because they tend to do greater markdowns and the markdowns are not snatched up as quickly.
I can even tell you for my favorite store that Thursday is the best day. *Bows* As for looking on the back of the grass-fed beef they carry to see what day their latest shipment experation date comes… I’d NEVER do that! Nor would I ask if those bananas were going to be marked down, or if those strawerries HAD to go to the trash. Ok, maybe I would. The produce manager at that store even told me about a year ago “I like how you shop” after I asked for the produce he was going to throw away, told him the beef was expiring that day, and weighed two kinds of cucumbers.
I also stock up on foods that last while they are on sale!
My latest trip to my health food store:
20 lbs of organic potatoes which were on sale 5 lbs gor $2.50 – $10.00
2 dozen eggs marked down to $0.99 – $1.98 (I usually get local eggs, but these were pretty good and very cheap)
2 2lb bags of baby carrots marked down to $0.99 – $1.98 (I usually do NOT buy baby carrots, but the price of these were really good!)
3 yellow peppers, marked down – $0.99
5 cucumbers, marked down – $0.99
26 jalapenos, marked down – $0.99
I also got some coconut water as a treat from the clearance rack, some sardines, and some bulk oatmeal (it is cheaper through Azure Standard, but I needed some)
There were also some spotted bananas which I had my eye on to see if the produce manager would mark them down. I left the produce department and came back to see perfectly yellow bananas. I did not cry, because that would be sad. Besides, I knew I was going to be getting some apples soon.
 If it is discounted I make stuff to freeze (such as banana butter or meat stuffed jalapenos) or otherwise use the produce very quickly, because it is reaching it’s experation date, but the prices often make it worth it.
What are some ways you are able to keep the cost of produce down?

Meat Stuffed Jalapenos

Today I made my husband a happy man. A very happy man. I served him meat stuffed jalapenos. Juicy bites of meatloaf inside a fresh, spicy pepper, and topped with a sweet glaze. No thank you! But, he liked them. A lot. He even remembered them a few hours later (that, my friends is a miracle he does not remember food). He even remembers them right now (I just asked). Yes, that is incredible.

Now, before I go any further let me tell you WEAR GLOVES while prepping the jalapenos, or if you don’t rubbing tomato paste on your hands will help rid them of sting. A *cough* friend of mine told me that… moving right along.

First, you need to find a bag of 26 jalapenos for $0.99 then like all brilliant heat sensative cooks, buy them.
Then you have 26 jalapenos that you need to use up quickly.

Then, don’t thaw the meat you need for your breakfast sausage quickly enough so you still have a pound of meat around at lunch time.

You cut the jalapenos, core them and remove the seeds and membranes.

Then you stir together your meatloaf mix, made nice and juicy with the addition of fresh bread cubes.

Then you whip together a lovely tomato glaze to spread on top.

Pop in the oven for a few minutes, and VIOLA food you refuse to touch (if you are like me and don’t do spicy, Christopher likes things spicier then I do) but your husband loves (assuming he is like my husband).

This made quite a few, so many of them are in the freezer ready to be pulled out to make a quick lunch with only the addition of some fresh vegetables. Line a sheet pan with them and freeze for a bit before putting them in a freezer safe bag.

Meat Stuffed Jalapenos

Whatcha Need:

30 Jalapenos (no, I did not have that many but that is about how many you need for the recipe that follows, I just made a miniture meat loaf with my extra filling)
1 lb beef (preferably grass fed)
2 cups small (stuffing mix size) bread cubes from slightly stale old bread
1/2 large onion or one small onion
1 t salt
1 clove garlic
2 eggs (preferably from pastured hens)
1/2 can tomato paste (save the rest for burnt hands)
2 T honey
1 T vinegar
1/4 t salt
1 T olive oil, tallow, or lard

Watcha Do:

Wearing gloves, cut off the tops of the jalapenos, slice in half lengthwise, and scoop out the membranes and seeds using a measuring spoon, melon baller, corer, grapefruit spoon, or a regular spoon.

Chop the onion very finely. Mix the bread cubes, onion, meat, 1 t salt, garlic, and 2 eggs together.

Fill each jalapeno half with the meat mixture.

Stir together the tomato paste, honey, vinegar, 1/4 t salt, and olive oil. Put a dab of the sauce on the meat mixture in each pepper. Spread gently.

Bake at 350 for about 12 minutes. The meat will be cooked, the glaze will look slightly glossy, and the jalapenos a little dull.

I did not have bacon, but I bet bacon wrapped around these would make them all the better, not that I’d eat them even then. Just use uncured bacon from foraged hogs (if you live in Wichita and have a good source, PLEASE TELL ME)