Thursday, September 8, 2011

MPM 9/5 Thursday edition

I was having a FB conversation with my cousin this morning, and I realized that I never actually posted the menu for the week.  We have eaten well so far, and it's only going to get better!  I'll show the whole week's plan so that I can link last night's fantastical recipe. :)

Monday - BBQ'd burgers
Tuesday - Tomato Basil Soup with rice, and salad
Wednesday - Cilantro Shrimp Pasta and salad
Thursday - Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, carrots and salad (going to try cooking it in the crockpot, wish me luck!)
Friday - Homemade Pizza and salad
Saturday - Grilled pork chops, potato skillet, peaches and salad
Sunday - Spaghetti and meatballs, salad and foccachia

There you have it...the plan for the week......and yes, we're eating more salad.  I'm trying to have salad with every dinner if I can.  *fingers crossed we can keep it up!*

Monday, August 29, 2011

MPM 8/29

Last week, I made a menu plan. 

I posted that plan.

And I quickly ditched said plan.

Let's see if this week goes any differently.

Here goes.....

Monday - Fried potatoes and kielbasa
Tuesday - Tacos/Burritos
Wednesday - Grilled chicken and fresh green beans
Thursday - Mexican Potato Casserole
Friday - - Not really sure yet, it's my birthday and I still haven't decided what I want
Saturday - Tri-tip, green rice
Sunday - BLTs/BELTs (E = fried egg)

Yup, that sounds like a great plan to screw up.  What do you think?!  For more ideas, check out

What did I just do?

A few weeks back, I read something about this web page,  I checked it out and really liked what she had to say about cleaning schedules.  I was at a point that I felt things needed changing up a bit.  I hated reserving Saturdays for cleaning.  I hated that I was always after the kids to clean their room.  I hated that I had junk residing in my house I no longer loved and no longer made me smile.  I hated that I always felt overwhelmed when it came to simple tasks like laundry.  I loved that she had things broken down into zones, and that spring cleaning really wasn't necessary with her "system" because you will eventually get to everything in your house with her and her "missions".  So, I've spent the last few weeks giving it a go.  It's been quite lovely.  One of her phrases is "You are never behind, Jump in where ever you are."  It made everything seem less daunting.  I wasn't trying to catch up.  I was just going with the flow of the program.  Except, I ended up viewing my house through a different pair of eyes, and I didn't like what I saw.  Disastrous, I tell you!  One mission I had to do was take down the light fixture in the bathroom and wash the glass shades.  Yeah, that made me realize that all the light fixtures looked awful!  So I couldn't let it go, I had to get the others cleaned up too.  I knew that eventually it would be a task to do on another day, but I couldn't handle the dirt.  Another task I had to do was dust the cobwebs in the bedroom.  No problem....until I realized that the walls were dusty.  The.  Walls.  Were.  Dusty?!?!  Did I know walls could be dusty? No.  Just another reason I hate textured walls.  Well, I couldn't let it go, I had to dust ALL the walls in my house!!

Now let's talk about the clutter and the decluttering I'm doing around here.  It's wonderful.  Things are getting tossed left and right.  It's been very beneficial to the soul.  I've let go of things that no longer bring me joy.  I'm reinventing my house, and it feels fabulous.  New routines, redecorating, reassigning things.  All very wonderful, and very much needed.  I was finally at a point around the house that I was able to take that much needed deep sigh, and feel like things were *right*.  It also meant I was at a point to start taking on new projects, and I was all about it.  I had told David that I wanted to move the desk out of the living room and put it back in our bedroom.  The desk was not giving me a feeling of serenity, but rather a feeling of CHAOS.  It wasn't working for me anymore.  So yesterday we moved it...back to the bedroom.

And now I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed again.  It's not that I don't like it.  I do.  But as I was trying to explain this very bizarre feeling to David, he looked at me and said, "You screwed with the feng shui of things."

Yes!  That's it!  And the more I thought about it, I realized that I've gone and turned every. last. routine. upside. down.  So now begins the journey of trying to figure out if things are going to work where they are.  I don't want to put something away somewhere simply because I have nowhere else to put it.  I want it to be logical...deliberate.  I had spent the last few weeks trying to make my house not be chaotic, and by moving things around, I jeopardized the flow.  Now I feel like I'm trying to re-reinvent the wheel in my house.  It's an awful feeling.  I need things to calm down.  I need my routines to work.  I don't want a routine to begin forming just because it had to.  It needs to work for me.  I remember when my sister moved into one of her apartments.  She was trying to get things unpacked and  had hastily opted to put silverware in one particular drawer.  At the time, it seemed logical.  But after she was moved in and the chaos of the move past her, it didn't work for her anymore.  She constantly opened the drawer that she thought should be the silverware drawer, only to find it was the wrong one.  When I asked her why she didn't just switch them, she said she was determined to remember that she had put the silverware in a different drawer.  She eventually did switch them and found she was much happier. 

I learned one other thing - that this house is just too small for us.  As I'm trying to put things away, get rid of what we don't need/like, and keep the serenity, I don't have room for everything.  Here's my example --->  I'm trying to figure out where the printer will go.  I couldn't remember how I had the whole thing set up in our room.  Then I remembered that the last time the desk and computer were in our room, the printer was not.  At that time, the boys shared a room and the third bedroom was an office/guest room.  The printer comfortably resided in there, in that third bedroom.  However, now that room is Jordan's room, so I'll need to find somewhere else for the printer.  While the desk was in the living room, the printer was on a TV tray next to the desk.  Now I don't have a place in our room for the TV tray, so it needs to be put away.  But where?  I put it in the front closet and now my vacuum almost doesn't fit, and the closet feels crowded and cluttered.  But I'm not ready to get rid of the TV trays.  So now what?!  See??  Welcome to my dilemma. 

So if I seem a bit scatterbrained over the next week or so, you'll know that the changes weren't working, and I'll be trying to fix it.  I had hoped that I would be able to declutter my house and life on a slower pace, but it seems that I'll be fast-tracking it....not the way I wanted it to all go down, but if it gets me to a serene place, I'm all for it!

Wish me luck!

If this seems to ramble on, my apologies.  I just had to sit down and try to think through some things. So in my attempt to regain control over things, I threw it out there for all of you, whoever you are.  I'll get there, I promise!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

MPM 8/22

I'm ready for this week to be over, and it's barely begun.  David has been pulling 12-14 hour days since Tuesday of last week, and he's been battling being sick on top of that.  It's been rough on all of us in general.  We aren't used to eating at 7pm on school nights, and I don't like not eating as a family.  That makes for quite a quandary, I know.  School has been going well, but it will be nice to see how this year's routine will work without David's crazy late schedule....

So, here's the plan for this week.

Monday - Spaghetti and garlic bread
Tuesday - Thai Beef over Rice
Wednesday - Beef Mac ~ Game Night begins again!
Thursday - Eggs and toast
Friday - Homemade Pizza
Saturday - Grilled Chicken and green beans
Sunday - BLTs/BELTs (it has a fried egg on it)

For more ideas, check out

Monday, August 15, 2011

MPM 8/15


Where did my summer go?  Although we were constantly on the go, it doesn't seem like we were able to do half the stuff we wanted to.  Camping trips, hikes, playing in the river - - all things we wanted to do, but there just wasn't the time.

We didn't even get to grill that much.  That fact alone is an atrocity.  And sadly, I'm not really even sure how that happened.  Such a pity, really.

Here's the plan for this week.  Looks like this will be another grill-less week...but we'll eat well, I promise!  You'll recognize a few of the meals since they are reappearing this week; we weren't able to get to them for one reason or another.

Monday - Provincial Chicken (new recipe, crockpot)
Tuesday - Pretzel Dogs & Roasted fries with fry sauce (first day of school)
Wednesday - Ham & Ranch Potatoes (new recipe, crockpot)
Thursday - Pancakes
Friday - Homemade Pizza
Saturday - Mexican Potato Casserole & Green Chile Rice
Sunday - Tomato Basil Soup with rice

For more menu plans, check out

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

MPM 8/8

Ugh - I promise my menu was ready to post Sunday night.  Somehow life just got in the way of me sitting down and posting it.  Well, truth be told, The Help got in the way.  Fabulous book, might I add!

So, let me get the menu out there...I'm backing it up to be from Monday like it should have been...

Monday - Tacos
Tuesday - Breakfast for dinner, but turned into a FFA due to a late lunch
Wednesday - Mexican Potato casserole and green chili rice
Thursday - Boys' FFA -- I have a Girls Night Out to go to
Friday - Homemade Pizza
Saturday - Ham and Ranch Potatoes (crockpot, new recipe)
Sunday - Pretzel Dogs and Roasted French Fries

There you have it.  If you want more ideas, check out

Friday, August 5, 2011

How could I forget? (MPM for the week of 8/1-8/7)

Here is our menu for this week.  It hardly seems worth the energy to post this, but I'm trying to get back into the realm of accountability.  Therefore, in an attempt to be back in the game, I'm posting the whole week's plan.  I have next week's plan too, but I'll post it Sunday night, like usual.

Monday - We ate at Cracker Barrel, still on vacation
Tuesday - Traveling, eat on the road
Wednesday - Chili and salad
Thursday - Spaghetti and salad
Friday - Colorado Pork Chops, salad and rice (new recipe)
Saturday - David BBQs (probably tri-tip), veggie skewers, sweet & sour coleslaw
Sunday - Crockpot Lasagna, salad, garlic bread (new recipe)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

I'm Not Lost

It's been a little bit...I'm well aware of it.  I'll try to be better.

Here are a couple signs I have fallen in love with.

How awesome is that street name?

It would seem that the deer in this part of the country simply stand there and look across the highway.

Monday, May 23, 2011

MPM 5/23

Oh menu plan...I have missed you.

I've been feeling like I'm spinning in circles come dinner time, and that is a feeling I'm not too fond of.  So yes, I was serious when I said I missed you.

Granted, it's hard to execute any kind of plan when you're sick.  And there is nothing wrong with serving oatmeal for dinner if that's the best I can do for that day.  However, a pretty little plan, hanging on the refrigerator can aid things along...especially for the other adult in the house to point things towards the right direction. 

Ok enough.  My point has been made.  The past is behind us.

Moving on...

Here is the plan for the week.

Monday ~ It's a game night, so it's Sandwiches at the ball park
Tuesday ~ Cowboy Spaghetti with garlic bread and a side salad
Wednesday ~ Corn and Ham Frittata (new recipe)
Thursday ~ Salads with chicken or tuna
Friday ~ Homemade Pizza (sausage and onion)
Saturday ~ Grilled Pork chops with side salad, roasted potatoes and asparagus
Sunday ~ Tuscan Lemon Chicken with brown rice, carrots and side salad (new recipe)

There you have it.  For more ideas, check out

Monday, May 9, 2011

Italian Dressing Mix

I've enjoyed looking for recipes that allow me to make my own mixes at home because it saves money and time...and I know what ingredients are in it.  In an attempt to come up with a different salad dressing other than just oil and vinegar, I found this Italian dressing mix.  I always have the ingredients on hand, and it's quick and easy to throw together.  We've found that it tastes so much better than any Italian dressing you can buy.  Yes, we love it that much!  And it can be used as an incredible marinade for chicken and pork chops, or as a dipping sauce for bread.  Versatile is good!

The Dry Mix:
2 Tablespoons dried oregano
1 Tablespoon dried parsley1 Tablespoon garlic salt
1 Tablespoon onion powder
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon salt (I use Kosher)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper (I fresh grind it)
1 teaspoon dried basil
¼ teaspoon dried thyme¼ teaspoon celery salt

In a small bowl, mix together all of the above ingredients. Store in a tightly sealed container.

To Make Dressing:
Whisk together 1/4 cup white vinegar, 2/3 cup canola oil, 2 tablespoons water and 2 tablespoons of the dry mix.  

** This post has been linked to LifeAsMom's Frugal Friday**

Monday, April 25, 2011

MPM 4/25

Holy sure has been a while.  I'm not entirely sure how so much time has gotten past me, but obviously it has.  Well wait....

It's baseball season.

I'm going to leave it at that.

So what are we eating this week?  Well, let me tell you.

Monday - Free For All
Tuesday - Penne in Creamy Tomato Sauce and salad
Wednesday - Sandwiches (game night)
Thursday - Taco Salad
Friday - Homemade Pizza and salad
Saturday - Pepperoni Spaghetti, salad, and focaccia
Sunday - Steaks with Chipotle Cilantro Butter, salad, and baked potato (new recipe, I'll post it later)

For more menu ideas, check out

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

To-Do List

  1. Shower.  Clearly this is number 1 for a reason - the remainder of my list is in no particular order.
  2. Go to Longhorn
  3. Make granola bars
  4. Make bread
  5. Make double batch of meatballs and freeze them
  6. Find the counter top of the island in the kitchen (I only half struck it out as I have only found half of the counter...)
  7. Clean bathroom
  8. Wash filters for the vacuum
  9. Hunt down the 30 pack of razors I bought for David.  If I can't find them, it confirms that he's eating them when I'm not looking  Oh thank God I found them - the thought of him eating them was more than I could handle...I mean, their triple blade razors!
  10. Buy replacement car charger for the phones
  11. Balance the checkbook *bleh*
  12. Pay the cable and  cell phone bills
  13. Come up with a list of "No Power Meals" (I'll post about this later)
  14. Sort thru Kelton's clothes and weed out stuff that is too small for him
  15. Start menu plan for next week - - clear out some of the older stuff from the freezer
  16. Get rid of the evidence of the gigantic bag of mini eggs that I have inhaled
  17. Speaking of eggs, make hard boiled eggs
  18. Make triple batch of pancakes and freeze them
  19. Make PB&J sandwiches to freeze -- this will require another loaf of bread
  20. Help Jordan get his report finished up
  21. Dust
  22. Sneeze, dust some more
  23. Find the oodles of motorcycle helmets a new home as opposed to behind the front door. 
  24. Fold clothes
  25. Breathe
If I could actually get this all done in one day, I'd be Super Woman.  I laugh at just the thought. Hahaha!  But as you see, I'll be a crazy busy person this week -- just if I don't get to your Words With Friends game right away, you'll understand why!

Monday, March 21, 2011

MPM 3/21

My poor brain is in overdrive these days. 

Lots of things to think about.

Organic - is it worth it?  Are there things that are touted as "organic" just to be on the organic bandwagon, but completely not worth it?  Things like bananas - what's the point, you don't eat the peel, or is there a difference?  Or milk - is organic milk worth the $6 per gallon price tag?  With the rising cost of food anyways, is it really worth taking on the organic sticker shock?

I'm trying to do what is best for my family, but really, what is that?  I have eliminated a ton of processed foods from our diet, but I just feel like I need to ramp it up.  So we're discussing purchasing a side of beef from a local farm.  I'm pretty sure that we will be doing that here pretty quickly, but there is still so much to discuss...what cuts do we want, etc.  I'm trying to come up with all the questions and answers we need so that we don't rush into this blindly.

That really is just scratching the surface.  There is a lot more plaguing my brain, but this post is supposed to be about my menu for the week, not my headache.  I'll save it for another post.

Since my family feels that feeding them is a requirement, here's the plan for the week.  We'll see how well we stick to it...

Monday - Tomato Soup with rice
Tuesday - Red Beans and Rice
Wednesday - Breakfast for dinner
Thursday - Leftovers/FFA
Friday - Homemade Pizza
Saturday - Stroganoff
Sunday - Three Meat Stromboli

What are you eating this week?  Check out to see what's being served in other kitchens!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Making changes to save some money - Frugal Fridays

This morning as I was fixing lunches for the boys, I asked Jordan for his lunchbox.  As it turns out, he left it at school yesterday.

That's okay, we have other lunchboxes.

But after I got his sandwich made, I reached in the drawer to grab a sandwich zip.  That's when I realized that was stupid as I have other reusable containers that I could put his sandwich in.

So that got me to thinking about the various changes that I've made in our house to reduce waste and save money.  Here is what I've come up with:

  • Reusable containers.  It saves on the budget by reducing the purchase of zip locks.  I do still use them, but not nearly as many.
  • Napkins.  When we bought this house 7 years ago, I had bought some cloth napkins for special occasions.  They weren't super pretty or fancy, just reusable.  I figured since I had already spent the money, I might as well use them.  So I quit buying paper napkins.  Also, we use them more than once before they get washed, which saves a bit more on laundry.  Another thing I do is save whatever paper napkins I get from those random takeout meals.  It seemed silly and wasteful to throw them away unused.  Now if I do need a paper napkin, I have a few, but didn't buy a whole package of them.
  • Paper towels.  We do still buy them.  However, I don't still buy two different kinds, and I'm not brand specific anymore.  We can't seem to completely eliminate them, but have greatly reduced how much we use them, thus how often it's necessary to purchase them.
  • Plastic spoons.  Last year I discovered a huge box (Sam's Club sized) of plastic silverware from David's 40th birthday party.  There were a bunch of spoons, and I started using them in the boys lunches to avoid having the kids lose my good silverware.  It didn't take me long to realize we had sailed through them, so I told the boys that they'd owe me a quarter for every spoon they threw away.  You'd be surprised how quickly they quit throwing them away and started bringing them home!  Four lost spoons paid for a pack from the Dollar Store, and I didn't buy them, the boys did.  That fact alone has kept the boys motivated to not buy me anymore spoons!  We've used the same pack of spoons all school year, and still have the whole pack.  Good job boys!
  • Buying in bulk.  I have quit buying individually wrapped items.  Now I buy things like yogurt by the quart instead of all the yogurt cups.  It saves money by getting more for my money, but it has also reduced how much waste is thrown away.
  • Water bottles.  I bought reusable water bottles for all of us.  That has saved us in a number of different ways: 
    • Water is "free" - I put that in quotes because technically the water isn't really free.  However, the fact that I spend $45 for all of our household water in a month, I don't have to go out and buy something else to drink, making it "free" in my eyes. 
    • I'm no longer buying bottled water -- **see above
    • The boys get water in their lunches.  If they don't get the bottle emptied, the bottle doesn't take on it's contents flavor.  Water doesn't have a faint taste of lemonade or fruit punch or apple juice, and that saves the bottles.
    • We no longer purchase juice boxes or soda.
    • Water is good for you - it's healthy.  I'm instilling healthy habits into my kids.
    • I take water with me everywhere I go.  It helps keep me from buying a bottle of water, or something else to drink.
  • Espresso Machine.  Probably one of the best purchases we've made.  Seriously.  It paid for itself in about a month.  I haven't had a Starbucks in ages, so that means I'm not spending $4 on a coffee that costs me pennies to make at home.
  • Thermoses.  David has a microwave at work, so he can reheat leftovers for his lunches.  The boys on the other hand, can't reheat lunch at school.  So buying them their own thermoses allows them to eat leftovers at school.  They love it, and so do I. Yay, less food waste!
  • Reusable bags.  I use them when I go shopping.  But if I do forget them, and get plastic bags, I use the plastic bags as garbage can liners in the bathroom trash cans so I'm not buying garbage bags.
That's what I can think of right now.  I know there are so many other things we do to save a dollar, but this is a good start.  What do you do to save some green?

    Sunday, March 6, 2011

    MPM 3/7

    If you would have asked me three weeks ago if I was ready for spring, I would have said "No."  Actually, I did say no.  I still felt the need...the itch...for snow.  I just felt like this winter couldn't pass by without the fluffy white stuff falling softly around me, or at least my house.

    Fast forward to now and ask me if I'm ready for spring...

    Oh heck yeah!!

    I need the rain to stop, and the cold mornings to come to a halt.

    I need David to be able to ride the motorcycle to work.  Every.  Day.

    Yes, we did get some snow and I probably would still be relishing this weather, but I calculated out how much it costs us for his commute.  If he is able to ride, it's $7.50/day.  My van costs $15/day.  And if he has to (*gulp*) take the truck, it is a staggering $35 per day.  So yes, I need winter to be over, and spring to show it's bright and shining face!

    How does all this relate to my menu plan?'s been raining, David has had my car and I've had the truck.  If I don't want him driving the truck to work due to the cost of gas, it doesn't make sense for me to drive nearly as many miles to go grocery shopping.  So today I sat down and figured out my plan, shopped the pantry first, then emailed my shopping list to David because he had drill this weekend and drove my car.  He did the shopping on his way home today, saving us on gas (reason #472 that I love this man!!).  I don't have to take the gas guzzling beast of a truck, nor will I have to go shopping in the evening after he has gotten home from work.  It's a win-win situation.  However, I do feel like I'm not doing my I've shirked my responsibilities onto his shoulders. I know he will say that isn't the case, but it doesn't change how I feel about it.  I guess I'd better just get over it.  We do what we need to in order to reduce the bills as much as possible, and that includes gasoline.

    Oh, and one last thing before I get to the menu.  Baseball season has gotten underway and Monday practices are 5-7 pm so I'll need to have super simple meals planned for that night.  I've decided that sandwiches will fit that bill quite nicely.  So get used to seeing sandwich night!  We'll be seeing it a lot between now and the middle of June!

    Without further ado, the plan!

    Monday - Tomato & Rice soup and sandwiches
    Tuesday - Refried Bean Enchiladas and Spanish rice
    Wednesday - BELTS
    Thursday - Cowboy Spaghetti and Garlic Bread
    Friday - Stroganoff and steamed broccoli
    Saturday - Chalupas and tortilla chips
    Sunday - Split Pea Soup and rolls

    For more menus, check out

    Wednesday, March 2, 2011

    No Shopping Summary

    February is over, and so is my No Shopping Challenge.  Boy, do I have some learning to do before I do that again!  I liked that I imposed this on myself, but I realize that there is a ton of room to improve on so many levels.  Yes, I ended up in a store a few times, and yes I bought more than just milk, eggs, bananas and apples like I had planned. 

    So what did I learn from all this?

    #1  Well, first I need to pay attention to what we really use in a month.  (This also means that I would need to take longer than two weeks to plan out a challenge like this.)  If I did attempt this for a two or three month stretch, I need to realistically know what we use.  For example:  I had a whole bottle of vanilla syrup for my coffees and thought it would last me through the whole month.  It was about the 21st of 22nd of the month when I ran out.  At first I was thinking that I'll just use milk and sugar in my coffee, but then I realized that although I could do that, it wasn't what I wanted to do.  This was a self-imposed challenge, not a crisis situation.  Had this been an emergency situation, yes, I could totally use milk and sugar and I would be fine with it.  But in this situation, I gave myself the okay to pick up another bottle before the challenge was over.  So note to self, make sure I really know how much of everything I do use on a monthly basis so that if I choose to challenge myself like this again, I'll be better prepared.

    **As I sit here writing this, I realize that I could have looked up a recipe to make my own vanilla syrup.  I guess that's something I'll work on.  It could save me a bunch of money, especially if I were to do this for a three month stretch.  At two bottles a month, $5 per bottle, that's $30 worth of syrup just to stock up to stay out of a store for three months.  See, always something to learn!

    #2  Something I was reminded of last month was the need to be like Gumby...flexible.  For where we live, snow isn't all that frequent.  So when they forecast a major storm that could bring us a good chunk of snow, we need to be prepared.  Although we were on this no shopping month, I felt it was necessary to stock up on a few things.  $50 later I felt ready to get the planned snow and possibly go a stretch without power.  When neither happened, it was rather disappointing and I felt like I had wasted a bunch of money.  Thanks David for reminding me that we'll use the lamp oil and toilet paper, and that it really wasn't a 'money lost' situation.

    #3  I know when I did the grocery shopping, I shopped for my planned menu and I was well stocked.  However, what I didn't take into consideration was to plan for those snacky moods that hit us all.  When you want that repeated bowl-to-mouth motion, will popcorn always fit the bill?  Nope.  Yeah, I didn't plan well for that.  I know it's hard to plan for the "what ifs" of the month, but I know that I often like snacking on dry cereal like cinnamon Life or Ohs.  It'll always get eaten and it won't go bad, so there is no harm in keeping it around the house.  I also need to remember to keep in mind what the boys would want in those times.  Trail mix?  Banana chips?  Raisins?  Any of those would be good to keep on hand, and I know that, but clearly I overlooked it.

    I'm sure there are other things I could mention here, but those were the biggest ones, and the only ones I can remember at this time.  So, what did I buy?  Milk, half and half, bananas, apples, eggs, vanilla syrup, angel hair pasta, a pair of laptops, American cheese slices, a pair of tires for my van, Girl Scout cookies.... What??!!  Let me explain -- I had ordered the cookies back in January, so I could technically say that I bought them then, but I had to pay for them when they were delivered last week. 

    Oh, HAHA! laptops?!  Doesn't everyone who is on a self-imposed don't go shopping challenge buy not just one, but a pair of laptops?  We've been talking about it for some time now, but David's recent trip to Mississippi showed that the antiquated laptop we had was clearly not cutting it anymore.  It wouldn't even play a movie!!  So we felt that it was important to get a new one, and we also decided that...well, we wanted two of them.  There, I said it.  We wanted two of them!  We are both very pleased with our purchase, and happy with them.  Buyer's remorse could have been an issue, but it wasn't.  Another confirmation that we made the right decision for us. 

    I'm glad that I challenged myself to do this, I'm glad that my family was on board with this crazy idea, and I'm glad that I was able to learn and grow from this.  At one point I told David that I felt like I failed myself on this challenge.  He reminded me that in reality, I didn't go over budget for the groceries, the bills were paid, and I even saved some money.  So the bottom line?  I didn't fail myself and it was totally worth it.  All of it.

    Would I do it again?

    Absolutely!!  I'll let you know when I try it again!!


    Saturday, February 19, 2011

    Friday, February 18, 2011

    Snow Days

    Where we live, snow isn't an occurrence that happens frequently like it did back in Chicago where I grew up.  However, we do end up with snow days each year.  Sometimes it does actually fall at our house.  This storm wasn't one of those times...

    Meet our snow day:
    We had a snow day yesterday and today, and this is what I see out my window.  

    We didn't have school because the buses can't get out of this:
    I'm sure the lack of power at some of the schools helped it along.  It's hard to believe the difference 13 miles can make.  Yes, that is how far it is from our house sans snow to where the buses are parked.  Crazy, huh?!

    Monday, February 14, 2011

    MPM 2/14

    Monday, Monday, Monday...where did you come from?

    So, the recap of last week - - it sort of went according to plan, and sort of didn't.  I got called into work Monday and was given a bunch of tater tots.  We (or should I say I) changed things up and made a taco style tater tot casserole.  The family loved it!  Then on Tuesday, I was called into work again, and this time scored 3+ pounds of taco meat, so I froze it into one pound packs, which became Friday's meal - tacos.  Free food is always a good thing!  By the time Saturday night rolled around, it was too late to fix anything, so I stole Sunday's free for all plan.  Then came Sunday.  I wasn't feeling it.  Mel's Diner called my name, so we went out to eat.  My motto these days is "It is what it is."  Mel's it was.

    What's my plan to screw up this week?  It is as follows:

    Monday (Valentine's Day) - Tri-tip, garlic roasted potatoes, broccoli and homemade rolls
    Tuesday - Chili Mac
    Wednesday - Turkey Pot Pie
    Thursday - Sour Cream Blueberry Pancakes, and eggs
    Friday - Pizza
    Saturday - Cheesy Ham and Potato soup
    Sunday - Sloppy Joes

    If you're feeling about like me - lost - hop over to for more meal inspirations.  There's a bunch of them.

    Sunday, February 6, 2011

    MPM 2/6

    So, it's been a while since I posted a menu plan.  I do actually have a reason for it...besides laziness.  David was TDY (out of town for you non-military folk) for the month of January.  It seemed silly to post meal plans for oatmeal, sandwiches, mac and cheese, and the like.  Now that he is back home, we're back on the bandwagon.  Also, this month is my No Shopping Challenge month.  So far, it's going well.  Ask me again in two weeks, hahaha!

    Today we fixed a ham for lunch.  I'm so glad we did.  We ate today, plus got nine cups of diced ham and three ham steaks.  Those will go nicely for meals for the rest of the month and then some.  Here's what we have on the menu for this week...

    Monday - Sour Cream Blueberry Pancakes
    Tuesday - Chili
    Wednesday - Split Pea Soup (using some of the ham)
    Thursday - Spaghetti
    Friday - Taco Pasta
    Saturday - Turkey and Dumplings
    Sunday - Free For All

    What are you eating?  If you aren't sure either, check out for more menu plans.

    Wednesday, January 19, 2011

    Because I have nothing else to do, why not challenge myself?

    The other day I was blog-stalking and blog-hopping, and I stumbled across one that caught my eye, and got my gears a-turnin'.  She was talking about being on day number four of her three month "no shopping" challenge.  In case you didn't catch that, THREE MONTHS...NO....SHOPPING!!  Just staying home, enjoying being at home. (If you don't believe me, you can go here to read about it) 

    Like I said, it made me question myself - am I stupid enough willing to challenge myself to the same thing, on a smaller scale?  Could I do, say, one month?  Last year I did an Eat From The Pantry Challenge.  This would kinda be like that, right?  Sorta, I suppose, just a larger scale.  Most importantly, am I (or maybe better worded "could I be") disciplined enough to stick with it?

    In her blog, she mentions it taking her two months to plan and prepare for it.  I'm giving myself two weeks, and here is how I figure I could do it in such a short amount of time. 
    1. I'm out of my mind. 
    1. David is away at school, so meals around here are about as basic as they can get...oatmeal, grilled cheese, mac and cheese, tomato soup, etc, all based on what we have here at the house and not a lot of ingredients being used. 
    2. Pay day was last week, and I haven't gone grocery shopping yet.  Translation: I still have all my grocery money for the rest of the month. 
    3. I have a relatively stocked freezer.  I have 3 hams, 4 turkeys, 2 whole chickens, a bunch of ground beef and sausage to name some of the meat.  There are also frozen veggies in there.
    4. The pantry is fairly well stocked too.  I'll need some stuff, but not a lot when you look at the big picture.
    5. I bake my own breads, as well as making snacks like granola bars.
    6. We are well stocked in the "health and hygiene" department - everyone has shower soap, shampoo, deodorant, plenty of Q-Tips, etc.
    7. The dog has food.

    There are more reasons than that, but it gives you an idea why I think I can throw this together in two weeks.  I have decided that I will shop for milk, eggs, bananas and apples here at our wonderfully convenient, extremely overly priced local grocery store.  It will keep me from going off the hill.  And maybe David can swing by Winco and grab those things if he isn't on the bike.  Who knows, we'll play that part by ear.

    I already have the menu planned out for the month, based on what I have on hand.  If I don't already have everything on hand, then I'm only missing one, maybe two things.  I'm also close to hammering out the grocery list.  It still needs some tweaking, but it's close.  I plan to actually do the shopping  at the very end of the month.  That way, any dairy or fresh produce needed will be fresh, and those meals will be at the beginning of the month. 

    My girlfriend asked me if this would actually be saving me money, meaning wouldn't I have to spend more now to get ready to not spend at all.  My answer to her was this, "I have the grocery money for the rest of this month.  I'll have to stay under that amount to get ready for next month.  Therefore, I'm not spending any more than what I have."  Simple, right?  And what do I hope to accomplish from this?  Save money on gas... No splurge purchases... Just enjoy what I have... Enjoy my family...

    I'll let you know how this goes - keep your fingers crossed for me!!

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

    Pancake Mix

    (photo courtesy of photobucket)

    I love that this makes a large amount of the dry mix so that making homemade pancakes is just as simple and quick as using Bisquick, but I know what all the ingredients are in the mix.

    To make the mix:
    10 cups flour
    2½ cups instant dry milk
    ½ cup sugar
    ¼ cup baking powder
    2 T salt

    Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir together to blend well.  Store in airtight container.  Use within 6-8 months.  Makes about 13 cups of pancake mix.  (I store it in two half gallon Mason jars)

    Perfect Pancakes
    1½ cups pancake mix
    1 egg lightly beaten
    1 cup water
    3 T oil

    Put mix in a medium bowl.  Combine egg, water and oil in a small bowl.  Add egg mix to dry mix.  (Add more water for thinner pancakes - I do NOT do this!).  Blend until just moistened (there will still be lumps and that's okay - they cook out somehow -- AND, you don't want to beat it smooth or else they won't fluff up properly).  Let stand 5 minutes, then cook.  Makes 10-12 pancakes about 4" in size.  *Use ¼ cup measuring cup*

    I have no idea how this works out, but if I make pancakes for the boys' breakfast on school mornings, I make a single batch and always get 11 pancakes.  If I'm making them for the family for a Saturday morning breakfast or for a dinner, I double the recipe and always get 24 pancakes....weird, huh?! 

    And, if there are leftovers, the boys, hubs included, enjoy PB&J sandwiches on the pancakes.  I've even sent them in the boys' lunches.  They think they are getting a treat when I do that....Shhhh, I'm being resourceful when I have no bread!

    Thursday, January 6, 2011

    Basil Tomato Soup

    Ever find one of those recipes that you can't wait to share with everybody?  One that is just so screamin' yummy that you feel like you could make it every night for a week, and you'd still be excited to eat it on day seven?  Yes ma'am!  That's what this recipe is for me.  It has the flavor, the texture, the flavor (yes, I'm aware I mentioned "flavor"'s that good people!)  And it has the diversity to easily play with it and make it many different soups - add rice, maybe some bell pepper, chicken, etc.  I love recipes like that.  And the best part, it's a comfort food.  I'm totally contemplating scrapping my dinner plans tonight to make this again!!  Enjoy =)
    (photo courtesy of TOH)
    • 2 cans (28 ounces each) crushed tomatoes
    • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) chicken broth
    • 18 to 20 fresh basil leaves, minced
    • 1 teaspoon sugar
    • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
    • 1/2 cup butter
    In a large saucepan, bring the tomatoes and broth to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add basil and sugar. Reduce heat to low; stir in cream and butter. Cook until butter is melted. Yield: 9 servings.