Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Easy Healthy Cheap Meals! It can be done!

I hear ALL the time how costly it is to cook healthy.  You see those mems on FB that seem to indicate that a value hamburger deal at a fast food place is so much cheaper than the same restaurant's salad....and that may be true BUT you can cook at home good healthy food for CHEAP!  Those little funny pictures irritate me to no end because it's just being LAZY that keeps a person from eating healthy and cheaply! I saw one recently that showed a bag of fries and a bag of fruit & it said something like "don't expect me to eat healthy until the fruit is as cheap as the fries"  REALLY?  I bought a flat of strawberries and cut them and frozen them.  Each bag probably costs me about .25 cents.  Bananas are about .29 cents a pound..... yeah I could eat a bag of fruit for less than a bag of fries if I took the trouble to buy the fruit and prepare it ahead of time. 

So right now I have my crock pot going with tonight's meal.  It's "Mary's Mexican Chicken" I named it after my friend Mary who brought it to us after Jon's surgery.  I tweaked it a little since there are more of us than she has, but the idea came from her. So let me show you how to feed 6 people for just about  $20 and have some left over (maybe) for the next day's lunch!

Mary's Mexican Chicken
Bag of frozen chicken
Jar of salsa
can of Fiesta corn
can of Rotel tomato with chilies
3 cups of chicken broth

put in crock pot, cook on high for 7-8 hours and shred the chicken near the end of the cooking time..

In separate dishes we also have
white rice
black beans
fat free refried beans

A serving is really low in fat- probably 2 grams or so since the ONLY thing with fat is the chicken! So that solves the fat/cholesterol problem for us. 

As far as the price goes.....
I bought chicken on sale (without hormones) one packet was $6.27 & one $8.32 + $14.59(I have at least a chicken breast per person)
salsa was buy one get one free- so about $1.27
corn was .89 cents
Rotel tomatoes was about $.69 cents
Chicken broth was also buy one get one so about $1.25
black beans .69 cents
fat free refried beans .69 cents
Rice ( I bought a 5 pound bag) so about .50 cents or less for a cup.  Total $20.57

This meal is becoming once a week for us!  It is so stinking good!!!!  I also like it with Mexican chips but that's higher in fat.  Tonight I have baked Mexican chips- that bag was on sale for 2 for $5 so for another $2.50 we have chips with it.  I buy the things we like when they go on sale- the BOGO Salsa deal....I bought 5 bottles and got 5 free- we will use it up no problem.

There is no fast food place I can feed all 6 of us for under $20 -and have food left over! Fast food for us runs over $30 easily and no one is really full-plus we've eaten CRAP!

BTW a big salad at home is easily made for $5 and you'll have left overs.  The good thing about salad at home is YOU can wash it as much as you want and pick out anything that's not perfect & have the ingredients you want in it.  I do not buy bags of salad- they smell funky and taste funky to me.  I'd much rather buy the lettuce, wash it and cut it myself! 

I like sharing simple, good, healthy and cheap you have any to share?  Please comment!
Crock pot meals ROCK!  All the mess is cleaned up early and at supper time all you have to do is enjoy the meal!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Fun Summer time in Florida

So what have I been doing?
One thing has been a painting class
No I didn't paint this picture!
That was what it was supposed to look like.....
THIS is what it actually looked like!
I envied my friend Jan's picture and tried to copy it LOL
Fun time with Lynn (our grandmother)


 THIS is where it ended up!  LOL

Happy Sarah in her pool

And on her swing!
We went back to the Circle B Ranch
(just me and Jon this time which was good as we were up close to a lot of animals)
This guy made me nervous0 he was bold and it was too early for him to be out.
(rabies alert!)
At one point I could see about 6 gators but couldn't get them all in the same frame to take a picture.

Look at the cute baby gator!

BIG Mama~!

Dear Lord I love a good swamp

The bird had a snake  I wanted to save the snake

Jon kept singing "The Circle of Life"

This picture just makes my heart happy.  Could heaven be any more prettier? 



I love Florida-can't you tell? My kids (at least Sam is since he was born here)  are 6th generation Florida Crackers!  (And Crackers have NOTHING to do with being white!) 
There is just a way of being when you are a real Floridian -it has nothing to do with color- it has to do with knowing your roots & family history and appreciating the REAL Florida. 
My hometown of Perry is a REAL Florida town.  It's a "little dot off the beaten path" where folks know each other back for generations.  Even though I've been gone from it since I was 18 years old-that's my roots.  32 years later- it still holds a piece of my heart. 
I love swamps and Spanish moss, palm trees and pine trees.  I love the beach rivers, springs and the lakes.  I LOVE gators, manatee and dolphins.  I even love the smell of the swamp, the beach and the smell of a pine tree on a hot day. I love honeysuckle, Confederate Jasmine and azalea bushes.   I love the monsoon rains that come-the excitement and build up of a hurricane...the thunder of a storm.   I even love the heat (as long as I can go inside and get cool!)
I love the fact that my family has a grave yard up in north Dixie County that goes back to my great great grandparents!  It's not landscaped, every time I've gone there I've had to pick sands spurs off my pant's leg or shoes.  Most times I've found a snake skin or two since it is far out in the country.  When I'm there I can just sense the generations who have gone on before me....
I may have lived in NYC but my roots are in the Florida sand!  I'm grateful for the legacy I've been given. 

Watch us on an episode of Homekeepers with Arthlene Rippy

I think I'm the world's worst blogger~

Again I have all kinds of blogs IN MY HEAD but I have gotten too busy/lazy/occupied to turn on my laptop and share!

Today I want to share an episode of Homekeepers with Arthlene Rippy.  She invited us to be on her show again and as always it was fun.  We got there early(!!!!!) Childless no less- and got to watch her tape two other shows.  It was very interesting to us since our son is majoring in Broadcasting and he runs cameras for shows at his college.  She is such a professional to watch as she interviews her guests-she makes it look so easy.

We are able to share our story.

The recipe was great  I made it later with ground chicken and very little cheese & it still tasted good!

Some photos

On the Causeway-I LOVE Florida

Monday, May 16, 2016

I just want to Pee in Peace!

When I was a little girl I liked "boy things"  I remember saying "I wish I was a boy so I could go hunting/fishing with my uncles".  They were gone overnight so I couldn't go with them and that made me mad.  I liked getting dirty and playing in the fields.  I liked girls things too, baby dolls, nice dresses and playing with Barbie dolls.  So was I confused?  NO- I was a kid!  Kids are learning who they are. 

Growing up I remember one poor fellow....he was a grade or so ahead of me in school.  While in high school he let us all know that he wanted to be a girl.  He seemed to have many issues but that was one issue that made him stick out to everyone.  We had a class together in high school and I remember him being very up front about who he thought he was..  It did not make for a pleasant life for him in our country school.  I felt somewhat sorry for him but he was not a nice person so my sympathy was from a distance.  He seemed so confused and messed up in his mind. 

But I can tell you one thing, I would have NOT wanted him in my bathroom or locker room!!!!!  Nor equally disturbing would I have wanted the guys that would use that excuse to get into a female's bathroom or locker room! 

Transgender identity is a mental disorder and has been classified as such for many years.  Even presently it is still considered a mental disorder by many leading psychiatrists.  Not only that but it's something that affects only .03% of the population!!!!

Working in the criminal justice system for many years caused me to take a lot of different classes to meet my yearly training requirements.  Some of the classes I took were interesting and some were down right out disturbing.  Working with sexual offenders, some classes I took were things I do not forget to this day.  While writing this blog, I always try and stay away from certain subjects that are things I would only talk about to my lady let's just say there are some people who are so very perverted in this world that bodily functions turn them on.  Am I saying people who feel they are transgender fall into that section of folks?  NO- not necessarily BUT there are people who will take advantage of the freedom to go into the opposite sex's bathroom for that reason.  There will also be those who will take advantage to harass, look under stalls, take video etc.....  if you do not think so, then you are absolutely stupid!  Also this is just a beginning.....don't believe me? Just watch....

I think this "tearing down of bathroom walls" is really a much larger agenda.  It seems that our culture is trying to break down any type of differences in people.  Men and women are different- that is to be cherished, not shredded.  People still want modesty in this world! 

It's interesting to me that Obama has given this mandate to public schools- kindergarten and on.....   He's trying to have children indoctrinated from a young age on that there is no real difference in the sexes.  He chose the school system NOT the government workers offices to make his first stance.  Interesting huh?  He wants to desensitize kids.  So they don't have the same standards of modesty that society has had for centuries. 

Personally I think Obama should focus on fighting terrorism,  creating new jobs,  and fixing the health care system in his last few months of his failed presidency.  But instead he is bothering kindergarten age children!  He's creating problems where there were no problems. 

Thankfully many people are standing up against this nonsense.  People stood up to Target and their stock is falling.....Now let's see what will happen when people realize how crazy this mandate is!

Here is a petition you can sign if you want to tell Obama to withdraw his transgender school mandate!  I signed it.

Don't be afraid to share what you believe.  I have friends who are afraid to say how they feel on this subject because they might be labeled a "hater"....WHATEVER......  You can hate me all you want- it doesn't change how I feel!  And BTW if I get nasty posts on here....I'll read the first sentence and delete it and laugh while I'm doing it!  I will not be shamed or put down for wanting to pee in peace! 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Stop This Crazy Thing!

Oh the blogs I write in my mind when I'm going to sleep or stuck in traffic.....but then when it's time to blog they are all gone.....

So much going on in my life-I feel like George Jetson ...Remember this cartoon?

Life feels like that treadmill sometimes- even the good things can be stressful.  There are several paperwork tasks I'm working on and every step seems to have another 5 steps to it LOL.  Nothing can be just done and finished!  I can not imagine being completed with everything.... but I'm trying to do two things or two steps a day on several projects so maybe one day I'll be finished.  I'm hoping I can get things done over the summer.....

Our son is in finals week of his freshman year and we are looking forward to him being home for the summer.  The summers are precious to us as we realize it is just a matter of time before he doesn't come home to stay anymore. 

This past week I went and splurged!   I got a new hair cut and a mani-pedi.  I was at the beauty shop about three hours....some folks just need more help LOL!  Shad took a selfie of us


the Confederate Jasmine is growing fast on both sides of our fence.  Last week I cut some pieces of the huge honeysuckle plant at our old house and I'm trying to get that to root so I can have honeysuckle growing too!  Summer is here in Florida!

I just love this meme and felt like sharing it LOL

Hope you are having a great week~!

Tomorrow is our 4 year anniversary of the girls' "gotcha day"  Four years ago today we were running around Donetsk doing the last paperchase- having to have people sign off on paperwork so we could get our babies out!  I love this picture taken in the parking lot of some government office.  We were so happy.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Bok Tower & Garden

Now I'm going to sound like a Central Florida tour guide.....

A sweet reader, Tracy, from Winter Haven sent us tickets to go to Bok Towers.  She's always sending things for the kids and this was so nice- we could all go. 

Jon was born and raised in Polk County and he'd never been.  I'd never been before either which is hard to believe.  It's like a rite of passage to have gone to Bok Towers and somehow we never did it!  The funny thing, when I first became a probation officer, that was my area.  I could see the Tower from some of the homes I visited.  I hadn't been to that area in years so it was interesting to see how it had grown up.  (the area is not a bad area- it's a small town)

It was my son's girlfriend's birthday weekend so we got to take her too.  

Sarah and Sam enjoyed the music from the tower

This picture just cracks me up.  We were trying to get all of us into the picture so Lauren did a selfie...It looks like she's saying "Look mom & dad I found this crazy family in Florida!"  


We had such a good time.  The weather was perfect and the place is beautiful.  They are doing a lot of work to put in a few more garden areas and to expand.  It's a great half day trip if you want something different than Disney.  Bok Towers is probably no more than a 30 minute drive from Disney.
Thanks so much for the tickets Tracy!
We had an amazing speaker at our church this past week.  Sergey is from Russia and he has a ministry called House of Hope. 
They work with orphans who are too old to stay in their orphanages (ones with no special needs) and they are expanding to take in older orphans with special needs.  They also have a ministry to prisoners and to drug addicts. In the area they are in, it is rural, but there are over 60 prisons.   Our church was very moved by the testimony of the ministry.  I will be sharing more about them again as they set up an easy way to give to their ministry to reach the hopeless of Russia.  (they are affiliated with our church denomination)
Jon & Sergey
 the rest of us including his translator Igor. 
After we ate, Jon took them to the woods to see some real life Florida alligators :)  They were rewarded by seeing a HUGE one. 
This blog is a must read....
A family is fighting to adopt two children-one who has serious health issues.  Issues that can easily be taken care of in the US.  they've adopted before, they know what they are getting into....
The family went to their church for support and was turned down....they were told to not adopt this child with these health conditions.....
Reading this just broke my heart! 
And it PISSED ME OFF to be very un pastor wife like.....LOL
And it made me want to tell that church "KISS MY GRITS"
But more than anything it made me determined to help this family raise their support. 
You'll be hearing more in the days to come but I really want to be a part of this.  If you'd like to give, there are several ways set up that the blog tells you how to do it.  As always if you'd like to give through our church and we'll send one check to them ( I don't do any money transactions on line if I can help it.  Plus I like a "paper trail" of anything that comes in for the Orphan fund)
Grace Church
7060 Berry Road
Zephyrhills Fl 33540
I will be sharing more about her situation but I wanted to at least get this out today. 
Thank you and have a nice week!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Circle B Bar Reserve

How many of you saw this video?  It happened in a park near we went to that park. 
(don't worry that area was closed off)
(park's website)
Circle B Bar Reserve
We'd been meaning to go there for awhile but hadn't had the chance.  Jon was wanting to do something before he started back to work so we decided to go.
For the record if you live or visit  in Central Florida this is an amazing FREE park!
The park has a whole area given to education with various buildings and interactive things.  But the trails are just amazing!!! 
It was not easy pushing Sam and Sarah's wheelchairs on the gravel/sand path which makes up most of the trail but it was well worth it.
Also there are NO trash containers on any of the trails.  We had to carry our drink containers the whole way back.
But it is worth it!

do you see the turtle?

Must be my Southern roots but I love Swamps!  


Yes we match!  I've had this shirt for a couple of years and saw the one Sarah is wearing in a store and had to get it for her:)


one of my favorite birds
Sand Hill Cranes
aka Swamp Birds



Can you see our two friends in the middle?

Look over Shad's shoulder 

Jon loved it and Sam fell asleep in his chair. 


Not sure if you can tell but on the left side of the trail is the lake and the right side is canal.  There were frequent spots were gators had crossed.  You could see their markings on trail.  I was getting nervous and I'm used to being in the woods and hiking.  But I usually don't have the kids with us!  This was the most "real" park I've ever been to!  Usually the parks we go to have well cleared trails, no underbrush and built up trails near the water.  Of course it's different in the woods- but again we don't have the little ones with us there!  We weren't the only ones there with little kids, a whole stroller brigade of about 6 moms pushing strollers passed us.  Now knowing how rugged the area is, we probably wouldn't take the kids with us again.  Shad loved it and spotted so many alligators and other animals for us.  Next time we go-no kids and we're taking Jon's nice big walking stick!!!!

So if you are in this area-take advantage of this amazing real Florida park for FREE!
Family news
Jon started back to work this week.  He preached Sunday at the prison and the church.  Then Monday he hit the ground running back to his normal schedule.  I was a little scared/worried for him to start back but he's not one to sit around & was ready to go:)  The crazy thing is he and Shad were almost in a car accident his first morning back!  As they were leaving our neighborhood, an out of control car came around the corner and lost control and hit another car.  The car almost hit them. Thankfully no one was seriously injured but it was a reminder of how quickly your life can change (not that I need a reminder of that)
Some sad news....I found I have an allergy to dogs.  I've been sneezing and my eyes and throat have been burning ever since we got Hannah.  When I'd leave the house I'd feel better but back home I was hacking, nose running, miserable....finally one of my nurses put it together for me!   We've had dogs but never in the house.  Looking back I remember sneezing some when I'd play or sit with Brownie outside, but once I came in, I'd wash my hands and sometimes even change my clothes and I'd be fine.  (most of the time when I'd play with her I'd also be working outside in the garden so that's why I'd change LOL I'm not that germ phobic)   Thankfully her former family has found a home for her .  One of their family members will be taking her.  We are sad to see her go but I can't live like this anymore, my skin even burns/itches & I've had almost a constant headache except when I leave the house. 
One last thing.....a childhood friend of mine Tina, had a heart attack some months back.  She was misdiagnosed for days and her heart suffered terrible damage.  She had no option but a heart transplant.  She just got the call and they are on their way.  Please pray for her and her family.  They are so grateful to the donor's family and would appreciate prayers for them also as they deal with their loss.  What a wonderful thing they did, donating their loved one's heart....makes my eyes fill with tears.  Please pray that Tina will have a wonderful outcome with her surgery & transplant.  Thank you!