Wednesday, December 14, 2016

12 Days of Christmas

Hi there!

It has been non stop around here lately. Lots of school activities, scouts, and Christmas preparations going on. And I still have some Christmas sewing projects to work on, too! If you've been enjoying my "In My Home", I apologize that I didn't get one up this past week. It has just been that hectic!

Today, though, I want to talk about the 12 days of Christmas. As you may or may not know, the 12 days of Christmas are actually the 12 days after Christmas, beginning on December 26 and continuing to January 6, or Twelfth Night (also Epiphany). I thought it might be fun, however, to do a 12 days of Christmas countdown. I'm going to start on day 1 (today) with 12 things, day 2 will be 11 things, and so on. Let's get started!

On the first day of the Christmas Countdown, my blog friend gave to me, twelve Christmas songs to enjoy!

In no particular order...

1. White Christmas

2. I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas

3. The Chipmunk Song

4. I Wonder as I Wander

5. Little Saint Nick

6. Mary Did You Know?

7. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings

8. Someday At Christmas

9. Little Drummer Boy (Peace on Earth)

10. Santa Baby

11. The Grinch

12. Marshmallow World

Of course there are many more, but these are some of my family's very favorites! I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Monday, December 5, 2016

MPM (December 5-11)




Hi friends!

What a week...and it's only Monday! It's the first full week of December and the calendar is filling up. Today, Henry had an after school band concert rehearsal (and Padraic has scouts). Oh, and Rhonda had a play rehearsal, too. Tomorrow is the big concert for Millie and Henry, Wednesday I'm going Christmas shopping with my mom and then the kids and I are going to her house to help decorate her tree, Millie has a field trip on Friday, and Saturday Millie and I are going to DC with the girl scouts. Whew! And of course, being Monday, the puppy chewed up one of my shoes! It was my own fault for leaving it out! Here's what is on the menu for our busy week:

Monday: Going to my inlaws

Tuesday: Carnitas with fixings, rice

Wednesday: Kids and I are eating at my mom and dads. DH will have leftovers

Thursday: Turkey and rice casserole

Friday: Probably leftovers

Saturday: No one will be home...I'll be in DC, Rhonda will be at Busch, Padraic has a scout lock in, and Henry will be with in laws. DH is going to a friends house.

Sunday: Scalloped potatoes and ham, fried cabbage

Need inspiration? Check out orgjunkie.com!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

In My Home This Week (Nivember 28-December 4)

Hello friends!
Can you believe we are already in December? Just a few short weeks until Christmas. I find it difficult to wrap my mind around it! Our December calendar is already filling up with activities. I purchased a calendar for next year this week so that I can start adding in January activities as the need arises. Here's what went on in my home this week:

1. I wasn't feeling well at the beginning of the week, so I didn't get much done at all. Thankfully I'm feeling better and I was able to do a few things towards the end of the week.

2. I made Butterscotch muffins for breakfast one day this week. I've been using this recipe for a long time and change the pudding to change the muffin. I've used this recipe to make blueberry and chocolate chocolate chip muffins, too. I wrote about it here.

3.I have lived in my current city for three years. The other day I finally went and got my library card! I checked out several mysteries (my favorite genre) and next plan on spending time finding some research books on herbal remedies, gardening, and maybe a cook book or two.

4. I got it into my head to clean the outside of my electric kettle. It was looking pretty dull. Considering I've had it for three years and barely wipe the outside of it, I shouldn't really be surprised. I sprayed it with my cleaning solution (vinegar and water) and had very minor success. So I sprayed it again and let it sit for several minutes. It came off a little better, but I really had to use some elbow grease and it wasn't all coming off. Hmmmm, I thought. What can I do? And then it came to me. Baking soda! I'm sure you were thinking that, right? :) I took a damp paper towel, dipped it in baking soda and rubbed it on the still wet from the cleaning spray electric kettle. It worked! The film came right off and it looks as good as new!

5. The kids and I put up the Christmas tree this week and watched A Charlie Brown Christmas. We enjoyed mugs of hot coco with peppermint whipped cream while we watched. The tree looks a little funny though...we only decorated the top half so the puppy wouldn't get any ideas about ornaments hanging from the bottom! lol!

6. I put up the winter decorations in the house. I'll share them later this week.

7. I read five of the eight books I got from the library. I started number six today.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Being Thankful: November 30

I wasn't feeling well the past few days and I am thankful that my house is *almost* "self cleaning"! It took very little effort on my part to keep the house looking presentable.

What are you thankful for today?

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Being Thankful: November 29

Today I am thankful that my youngest son, Henry, came to me last year and said he wanted to change schools. We had a long talk and I'm thankful that he was honest about his reasons. I'm thankful that after much prayer and thought, I decided to change schools. He is doing so well in his new school!

What are you thankful for today?

Monday, November 28, 2016

MPM (November 28-December 4) and Being Thankful: November 28

Hi there!

What a week! We had a wonderful Thanksgiving and I hope you did too! I can't believe that this week will carry us into December. Another thing I find hard to believe? We're going to have two days of weather in the 70's! Then it drops right back down into the 50's/60's. Today I am thankful that I can be a little lazy as I have a cold and don't want to do anything. Yesterday I tackled one of the big projects I have left on me list that I was dreading. Of course, it was one of those things that once I started, it didn't take very long. And now it is done and I can cross it off of my list! What are you thankful for today? On to the menu:

Monday: Ham and cheese frittata, mashed potato patties, steamed broccoli

Tuesday: Mongolian beef, rice, orange slices

Wednesday: Turkey tettrazini

Thursday: Pork chops, roasted potatoes, green beans, corn fritters

Friday: Leftovers

Saturday: Some kind of soup...I'm not sure yet

Sunday: Butter Chicken, baked potatoes, carrot sticks

What is on your menu? Check out orgjunkie for more ideas.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

In My Home This Week (November 20-26)



Hello, friends

This week I have been re-reading Laine's Letters. Do you know Laine? She is such a wonderful lady! How I would love to visit her. She is such an encouragement and inspiration to me as I try to stretch my dollars, be a better wife and mother, and work to strengthen my relationship with the Lord. As I re-read her letters and and her "in my home letters" I thought that I would like to do something like that here. Perhaps I will come upon something that will help someone else. In January, I plan to start the Vicky Challenge in earnest, and will incorporate that here as well. I hope you enjoy this feature. Here's what went on in my home this week:

1. I was blessed to be able to purchase four turkeys on sale over the month. This week, I pressure cooked two of them and then canned the meat. I was able to get 7 quarts of meat and a gallon of broth. One of the turkeys is currently in the oven so that we can have leftover turkey. The other one is in the freezer for Christmas.

2. My children didn't have school on Wednesday. I made them popovers for a special treat and then they did some outside work for me. We had a nice, quiet day together. Here's the popover recipe in case you're interested: Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Whisk together 4 eggs and two cups of milk. When blended, add two cups of flour all at once. Stir until combined. It should resemble brownie batter. Grease 12 muffin cups and fill almost to the top with batter. Bake for 30 minutes...no peeking! Immediately remove from the oven and pierce the top of each popover with a sharp knife (so the steam can escape). Enjoy warm with butter and/or jam.

3. My grocery store had green beans on sale for .99 cents/pound. I bought 6 pounds with the intent of canning them in pints. Well, when I went to prepare things for canning, I realized I didn't have pint jars. So, I froze them instead. I was able to get 4 quarts of beans.

4. I learned something new in cooking this week. I'm always hit or miss when it comes to browning meat. I learned that if you crowd your meat in your pan, you will steam it instead of browning it. I was excited to use this knowledge in my kitchen this week!

5. My youngest son, Henry, came to me with his shoe falling apart (the sole was pulling away from the toe). These shoes were just bought in September. Luckily, my husband had this same problem recently and bought some shoe repair glue. I was able to use this on Henry's shoe and now it's as good as new!

6.While at my in laws for Thanksgiving, I noticed my mother brought a pair of slippers to put on. This gave me two ideas: one, to keep a look out for a new pair for my mother as a Christmas gift and two, to get myself a pair to use in the same way my mother did.

Blessings,

Jenn

Being Thankful: November 27

(not my garage)


Today I am thankful that I spent some time yesterday helping my husband clean a section of the garage. Not only did we make room for his Christmas present (a work bench), but I found some things I've been looking for :) I'll be glad when we finish the job!

What are you thankful for today?

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Being Thankful: November 26

Today I am thankful that most of the Christmas shopping is finished! This is the first time I've ever been this early! Just a few more gifts to purchase and several to make.

What are you thankful for today?

Friday, November 25, 2016

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Being Thankful: November 24

Today I was thankful to spend a wonderful, relaxing day with family.

What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Being Thankful: November 23

Today I am thankful that my in laws and parents live close by. This enables us to take turns hosting major holidays. This year is my mother in laws turn to host Thanksgiving. Even though I am bringing quite a few things, it's nice to not have to run around getting things ready in our home.

What are you thankful for today?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Being Thankful: November 22 and MPM (November 21-27)



Hi there!
It's been such a busy week already that I completely forgot about MPM! I'll remedy that in a moment.
If you follow my blog, you know that I've been posting something I'm thankful for every day. While I truly believe we should be thankful everyday, this is really the month to focus on it. Today, I am thankful for the hard work my children have been putting forth in their school work. They are all doing so well and I am so proud of them! What are you thankful for today? Now on to my menu:

Monday- Curried Parsnip Soup

Tuesday- Kielbasa, fried cabbage, pirogie

Wednesday- Pressure cooked cube steak with gravy, rice, corn

Thursday (Thanksgiving)*

Friday- Leftovers

Saturday- Chili, corn muffins

Sunday- Ham and cheese frittata, apple nachos, broccoli Parmesan souffle

*My mother in law is hosting Thanksgiving this year, but my mother and I always bring dishes to help round out the meal. There will 11 us at the table this year. Here's what is on the menu:

Turkey
Dressing
Gravy
Ham
Sweet potato casserole
Mashed potatoes
Green bean casserole
Beets
Lima beans
Rolls
Macaroni and cheese (me)
Deviled eggs (me)
Corn casserole (mom)
Holiday Jello (mom)

Desserts:
Traditional pumpkin roll
Pumpkin pie
Gluten Free Pumpkin roll (me)
Gluten Free chocolate cream pie (me)
Oreo stuff (me)
Pumpkin cake (mom)

I think I will make some gluten free rolls too, so that DH will have them.

For more menu ideas, check out orgjunkie.com!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Being Thankful: November 21

Today I am thankful for my husband who works hard to provide for us. His job isn't always easy or steady, but he's good at what he does.

What are you thankful for today?

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Being Thankkful: November 20

Today I am thankful for quiet moments alone at home to work on special projects!

What are you thankful for today?

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Being Thankful: November 19

Today, with a Boy Scout at a spots/cooking competition camp out and a Girl Scout at an ice skating event, I am thankful for scouting and the opportunities and activities it provides to some of my children.

What are you thankful for today?

Friday, November 18, 2016

Being Thankful: November 18

Today I am thankful that I a) have a pressure canner and cooker (three cookers, actually) and b) know how to use them. With turkey on sale for .59 cents a pound right now, we'll be able to enjoy more meat dishes in the coming months.

What are you thankful for today?

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Being Thankful: November 17

Today I am thankful for the opportunity to have lunch with my two middle schoolers at their school. I'm looking forward to spending time with them at a time I don't typically get to do so.

What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Being Thankful: November 16

Today I am thankful for being able to spend some one on one time with my oldest daughter. She wanted to go to Michael's for some watercolor paints, so I picked her up after French Club, and off we went. We had a wonderful time, just the two of us!

What are you thankful for today?

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Being Thankful: November 15

(not my sink)

Today I am thankful that my kitchen sink is fixed! You just have no idea how happy that makes me!

Monday, November 14, 2016

MPM (November 14-20) and Being Thankful: November 14

Hi there!

Here we are, another week closer to Thanksgiving! Can you believe it? For some reason I was in a bit of funk last week and didn't get much done in the cleaning and organizing department, but I'm feeling much better today! Hoping to tackle one of my craft areas today as it is really starting to get on my nerves. I also have got to get going on Christmas gifts!
     Marching band has finally ended for DS14, but now he has steel drum practice twice a week. This is going to be a busy week...He has steel drums twice and scouts twice, DD12 has a fun English field trip, and I'm having lunch with DD12 and DS11 at school one day. DD16 (who doesn't drive yet), has Chem Club twice this week and, I think, French Club too. In other news, the kitchen sink is still blocked. We have been using paper plates, but clean up is still challenging! On to this week's menu:

Monday: Going to In Laws. DH will have leftovers

Tuesday: Meatloaf, new whole potatoes browned in butter, green beans

Wednesday: Sauerkraut and hot dogs, mashed potatoes, peas

Thursday: Shepherd's Pie (we ended up not having it last week)

Friday: Date Night

Saturday: Tostados salad

Sunday: Chicken pot pie, 3-2-1 cake

For more menu ideas, check out orgjunkie.com!

Today I am thankful for a well stocked pantry that lets me stretch the food budget a little bit, while we deal with this blocked sink!

What are you thankful for today?



Sunday, November 13, 2016

Being Thankful: November 13

There was frost on the ground this morning, though the sun had managed to melt some of it in the front yard. In just over a month, it will be the first day of winter. Today I am thankful for the beauty of the changing seasons and being able to enjoy what each one has to offer.

What are you thankful for today?

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Being Thankful: November 12

Today, as I worked on a few Christmas projects, I was thankful for my needlework guild and the many classes and workshops I've been able to take to learn new techniques and the talented members who are more than willing to help and share their expertise. It has been a real blessing!

What are you thankful for today?

Friday, November 11, 2016

Being Thankful: November 11

A few days ago I was thankful for those in service to our country. Today, Veterans Day, I am thankful for those that have served, among them my great grandfathers, both of my grandfathers, my own father, my father in law, mother in law, and countless friends and acquaintances. Thank you and God bless you.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Being Thankful: November 10

Our kitchen sink has some kind of block in it (and has for several days). Thankfully, we still have running water, which is wonderful as long as it doesn't get into the sink! Today I am thankful that I have alternative ways to wash the dishes!

What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Being Thankful: November 9

Yesterday I was thankful for the right to vote. Today I am thankful for the men and women who continually secure that right. Thank you!

What are you thankful for today?

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Being Thankful: November 8

I have voted in every single presidential election that I've been able to (it's been several!), including today. Today I am thankful for the right to vote.

What are you thankful for today?

Monday, November 7, 2016

MPM (November 7-13) and Being Thankful: November 7

Hi there!

It's hard to believe that a week has flown by already! Thanksgiving and Christmas are creeping ever closer. Luckily, I have been able to get a jump start on gifts this year, and already have several secured and there ideas for others, but that is another post.

In case you missed it, like many other bloggers this time of year, I'm doing a post a day about something I'm thankful for. I thought today I would combine my menu plan and my thankful post since they go hand in hand (sort of!) Today I am thankful for my household "servants"! What are those? They are the useful appliances you may have around your house that you use to make your workload easier. For example, a dishwasher. Or a bread machine. Maybe a crock pot. You get the idea! A blog I enjoy, gdonna.com, has the charming idea of naming these. I thought it was so cute, that I decided to follow suit :) I currently have Hannah (my kitchen aid), Terry (dishwasher), Alice (crock pot), and Anne (pressure cooker). It may seem silly, but I really like the idea!

What are you thankful for today?

On to this week's menu!

Monday: Going over to in laws. Making tostados salad for DH

Tuesday: Beef stew, biscuits

Wednesday: Pan fried pork chops, roasted potatoes, green beans, corn

Thursday: Shepherd's Pie

Friday: Leftovers

Saturday: Date Night

Sunday: Spareribs and Sauerkraut, pears, mashed potatoes, chocolate pudding

For more menu ideas, check out orgjunkie.com!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Being Thankful: November 6

One of my favorite movies is Steel Magnolias with my most favorite character being Truvy. To paraphrase one of her lines "God doesn't care where you go, just as long as you show up!" I hold firmly to that! :) I was raised Roman Catholic and, as a lot of people do as they get older, drifted away from the church. When my oldest son was two, I saw a notice at the church where is preschool was for bell ringers. I joined the bell choir there and played with them for 9 years. I still miss it sometimes :) Somewhere along the line of playing in the choir, I joined that church (Presbyterian). Extenuating circumstances moved me away from that church, so I started attending a church my in laws went to occasionally. Goodness, am I ever glad I did! It's a Christian church and, though small, has a fantastic preacher. He teaches the bible in such a way that you actually understand and you learn. Today I am thankful for finding this church and for our preacher.


What are you thankful for today?

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Being Thankful: November 5

Ever since I was a little girl, we've spent a week at the beach every summer. We used to rent a cottage and my mom and dads best friends would rent a cottage next to ours. We always had the most fun: playing in the ocean, swimming in the pool, exploring the island. Sometimes we'd celebrate a holiday (Christmas and Halloween both stand out in my mind) and we'd end the week with a bonfire. Now that I'm older, my mom and I take my kids to the beach for a week every year. Sadly, the cabins we used to stay in are gone (hurricane), and we stay in a different area then we used to, but we still have a wonderful time!

Today I am thankful for the memories I have and the special time I get to spend with my mom and kids.

What are you thankful for today?

Friday, November 4, 2016

Being Thankful: November 4

Several, several months ago we had three dogs. This one happened to come to us as a foster and within just a few days I knew I couldn't let her go back. Thankfully, DH agreed, and we adopted her. I am so thankful for this bundle of energy and joy that constantly brings a smile to my face. She definitely lifts my spirits even on the bluest of days.

What are you thankful for today?

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Being Thankful: November 3

Today I am grateful that I am able to stay home and take of my children. Sometimes it can be a struggle with only one income, but we make it work. Love these young people with all my heart!

What are you grateful for today?

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Being Thankful: November 1&2

Hi there!

I wanted to start this yesterday, but time got away from me, as it often does. While I think we should be grateful and thankful every day of the year, November, with its season of Thanksgiving, certainly amplifies it. In an effort to focus on that, I'll be posting one thing every day that I am thankful for :)

November 1: I'm thankful a busy season of work for my husband. This is usually a slow month for him, but he's been surprisingly busy lately.

November 2: Today I am thankful for the generous, talented people on the internet who choose to share their wealth of knowledge with others. I now have several Christmas projects in mind and I can't wait to get started on them!

What are you thankful for today?

Sunday, October 30, 2016

MPM (October 31-November 6)

Hi there!

Last week was much busier than I originally thought it would be, but in a way I'm glad, because I was able to become intimate with my pressure cooker. I've had a small one for years that I've basically never touched. DH would use it on occasion, but that was about it. Then, several years ago at a youth group rummage sale, I found a new, 12 qt pressure canner and cooker for...$8. At the time I wasn't interested in the cooker part...I wanted the canner. So, we bought it and I never ever used it until---a few weeks ago when I canned pumpkin! Whew! Was there ever a celebration going on when I did that! Somehow, that one small act of canning something in a pressure canner really opened my eyes. Last week, I used my new BFF four times! I used it for the roast on Sunday (spectacular), the chicken on Monday (fantastic), the pasta on Wednesday (delicious), and pork chops on Thursday (they were okay, but it was the cut of the pork chop, not the cooker, that was the problem). This thing is life changing, I'm telling you. Oh, and I even used it to can some carnitas, so it did double duty :) Thankfully, DS14 just finished marching band season, so the schedule is calming down slightly (he does have steel drum practice twice a week and scouts).

In other news, my house is slowly becoming decluttered and clean. There are a few major areas that need it, but the majority of them are "under wraps", so to speak. I've been slightly under the weather, so I gave myself permission to slack off the weekend, but I'll be back at it today. I try to do an area at a time so that I don't become too overwhelmed, but the areas that are left are pretty daunting. BUT...I am really loving how wonderful the clean areas are looking (and staying!) and I want the rest of the house to follow suit (even the places most people coming into the house won't see!) That is kind of annoyance with me about my Mother. lol. Her house generally looks "perfect" and when she comes over to my house and gives it a once over with a critical eye and it's *not* prefect, she tends to make snide comments. However, if you were to go into a room in her house with a closed door, or open a cabinet, or anything of that nature, the illusion of perfect is pretty much shattered. I will say that she's trying to do better in that regard, but it's even more slow than at my place. ha! And she keeps trying to foist things on to me. The only things I've said yes to were some clothes (she always has nice things) and...a pressure cooker :) (Yes, I now have three. And I'm getting an Instant Pot for Christmas)

Enough babbling! On to the menu!

Monday (Halloween)- going to the mall and eating there (my two youngest are almost to old for trick or treat!)

Tuesday- Jamaican Brown Chicken Stew (going to try it in the pressure cooker), rice

Wednesday- Ham and cheese quiche, potatoes browned in butter, steamed broccoli

Thursday- Tuna patties, salmon patties, rice, green beans, corn

Friday- date night

Saturday- Some kind of soup (not sure what yet...and probably in the pressure cooker!)

Sunday- Crock chicken and autumn vegetables, creamed spinach, sauteed zucchini

For more menu ideas and inspiration, check out orgjunkie.com!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

MPM (OCtober 24-30)



Hi there!

Can you believe it will be November next week? My head is still spinning from the shock! Not much new is going on around here. Oldest DS(14) is finishing up marching band, but then he'll have steel drums, there are the usual scout meetings and such. Just normal, every day things for here. I don't remember if I mentioned it, but our ac/heater until conked out on us right after Hurricane Matthew passed through. Unfortunately, the entire unit needs to be replaced, but thankfully we are able to do that. Another unfortunate is that it can't happen until Thursday and, with the exception of today, it is going to be low 60's all week. Brrrr..... Luckily we have warm blankets and dogs! lol!
     Oh! Here's something new...I used my pressure cooker for probably the first time ever! I've had a small pressure cooker for years, but DH was the only one who ever used it. Then, several years ago, I picked up a pressure canner/cooker at a rummage sale for $8! I don't know what possessed me except that I've always wanted to can. It sat in its box until last Monday when I learned how to can pumpkin. Then I decided to use it to make dinner on Sunday. I made pot roast, potatoes and parsnips, and gravy...all in the pressure cooker and all in about an hour and a half (that is including the time to bring up the pressure and some cool down time). The roast was deliciously tender and the potatoes were quite amazing, too. I rounded out the meal with some corn and green beans. I have no idea why I waited so long to use this wonderful too, but you can bet I'll be using it again, and soon! On to this weeks menu!

Monday- Going to my in laws.

Tuesday- Asian Honey Chicken, rice

Wednesday- Macaroni and three cheese bake

Thursday- Pan fried pork chops, cottage potatoes, steamed broccoli, corn

Friday- Leftovers

Saturday- Date Night

Sunday- Chicken and autumn vegetables in the crock pot, scalloped potatoes, Lima beans

With our heat being out, I've been trying to use the oven in the mornings to generate a little warmth in the house. This morning I made Chocolate Chocolate Chip muffins and thought I'd share them here. I adapted this recipe (which are equally delicious!) I've also used the same recipe to make blueberry muffins and one of these years I plan on trying a lemon version.


Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins
(adapted from Taste of Home Butterscotch Muffins )

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 small box instant vanilla pudding mix
1 small box instant chocolate pudding mix
2 tsp baking powder
4 eggs
3/4 cup of oil
1 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Note: for truly decadent muffins, omit the vanilla pudding and use two boxes of chocolate pudding, or use a different kind of chocolate pudding (such as chocolate fudge). I find using the vanilla and chocolate together gives a nice hot chocolate type flavor.

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and pudding mixes. In another bowl, whisk your wet ingredients together, until combined. Add your wet ingredients to your dry ingredients and mix well. Fold in your chocolate chips. Fill muffin cups about 2/3 full and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Note: for the muffin cups, you can either use cupcake liners are spray with cooking spray. I usually go the cooking spray route as it is just easier. 

Enjoy!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Vicky Challenge or Saving Money in the Home (October 10-16)

I admit, I'm terrible about keeping track of what I'm saving. Many things I do are just second nature and I don't give them a second thought. Like cooking meals from scratch or coloring my own hair. I do think it's neat to see how much you can "save" though, by doing these things, so I am going to try and be more diligent about it. Here's how I saved money this week:

Made all lunches and meals- savings approximately $200 
Weekly cleaning of my home- savings approximately $120
Washed two of the dogs- $30
Not working a job outside my home- at least $100
Gratefully received a 10 lb bag of potatoes and a box of chocolate chip cookies from my MIL: $8
Gratefully accepted a bunch of clothing from my mom: $200 (at least)

Gratefully accepted a Dyson vacuum from my parents: 292.47
Saved $2.10 in loose change picked up from around the house
Savings to date: $1512.57

MPM (Octpber 17-23)



Mid October already...where is the month going? We are having a bit of warm weather this week (high 70's-low 80's) before it turns off cold again. Good thing too, as our heater/ac unit decided to go belly up. We're hoping we can get it replaced soon, especially before the really cold weather comes in.  Our winter is usually mild, but I look for it to be a fairly cold winter this year.
     I'm so excited! I have an acquaintance coming over tomorrow to start teaching me how to can! I can not wait! I've done water bath canning before, but we will actually be doing pressurized canning. Super excited! I would have liked to have had a cold weather garden, but I think it may be a bit too late. I'll hit the nursery this week and see if I can scrounge anything up. I'm primarily in the market for broccoli, spinach, and rutabaga or turnips. I'm still using Leanne's book for meal planning. We've really been enjoying the dishes. Here's this weeks eats:

Monday: Parmesan Drumsticks, cottage potatoes, steamed broccoli

Tuesday: Texas One Dish, Corn Muffins

Wednesday: Cauliflower soup, Biscuits

Thursday: Chicken Stroganoff, noodles, Lima beans

Friday: Leftovers

Saturday: Date Night

Sunday: Asian Honey Chicken, Rice

For more menu inspiration, check out orgjunkie.com!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Playing with Pooling

Hello there!

It's been a slow week at my house. The most that has happened is some minimal prep work for Hurricane Matthew. At the beginning of the week, it looked like we would be bracing for a direct hit and were urged to prepare then. As the week went on, however, it looked less and less likely that we would get a direct hit. Now it looks as if we'll just get some tropical storm conditions later this afternoon and going into Sunday. We've lived through tons of those, so we're good! On the preparation front, I was very pleased that all we really needed was some drinking water (we have a ton of non-potable) and a few canned goods. This shows me that I'm doing a pretty good job of keeping my pantry stocked!

In other news, I haven't really done anything amazing to add to my Vicky challenge and there wasn't much running around with kids, it's just been fairly slow and quiet. I like weeks like this sometimes. It's a nice break from the usual hectic! Plus, it gives me time to work on craft projects! I'll be sharing more of them soon, but today I wanted to share this really fun crochet technique. I stumbled on it quite by accident on youtube and thought it was so cool I needed to try it right away! Luckily, I had some appropriate yarn on hand and was able to give it a go without going out and buying anything. The technique is called color pooling or planned/intentional pooling. Here's what it looks like:
Is that not the coolest thing ever? I just love it! Now, this is just a dishcloth, but if you used a different yarn, you could make a scarf, shrug, or possibly even a blanket. A few examples:

The technique is deceptively simple. The yarn really does do all the work. It is important to note that self striping yarn *will not work* with this (unfortunately!). Also, yarn with small, frequent color changes will not work. There are a lot of ways to get started and, if you're interested, I urge you to google and find what works for you. I watched a few videos before I found one that made sense and then played around with my starting chain when I tried it. Hopefully you will find this as neat as I do and give it a go!


Sunday, October 2, 2016

MPM (October 3-9)



Whew! Last week was crazy! I was in and out of the house so much I didn't know if I was coming or going half the time! lol! Luckily, this week looks to be a little calmer, although there is still plenty going on. I'm really hoping Monday will be the day that I finally get my autumn/halloween decor up, too. I've been trying for a month now and it just hasn't happened! Saturday was World Card Making day and the Dream Team over at StampNation thought of some awesome challenges over the three day celebration. I'm still working on those too, and will share them here once I complete them. DS14 starts steel drums again Monday and has scouts, DD12 has scouts this week, I have a meeting on Wednesday, and there might be a hurricane heading our way. Thankfully my menu is set.  DH got a little cranky a few weeks ago when we had several crock pot dinners with similar flavor profiles, so I'm trying to get out of my rut. This week I'm using Leann Ely's book Saving Dinner to pull recipes from.Here's this weeks eats:

Monday: Rigatoni bake, salad, apple slices
Tuesday: Crock pot beef sandwiches, baby carrots, corn
Wednesday: Stuffed quesadillas, salad
Thursday: Red beans and rice with kielbasa
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Date Night
Sunday: Chicken and artichoke casserole

For more menu ideas, check out orgjunkie.com!

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Vicky Challenge, Revisited

Patsi, over at A Working Pantry, has a weekly feature called "The Ways of My Household" where she tells what she did to save money during the week and frugal partaking. She notes her Vicky Challenge as needed. Annabel, of course, has her weekly Vicky Challenge feature as well and Brandi has her Frugal Accomplishments. I really wanted to participate in this challenge this year, but just could not get it together. In fact, way back in June I talked about it. Well, the time has come! I am finally jumping in with both feet! From now until the end of this year I will be making it a regular feature here and will hopefully continue on in the new year too. I am starting with a clean slate. I will not use what I had in June. I will not try and come up with some figure. I'll just start with what on last week and continue from there. So, here we go...

In My House (September 19-25)

Made all lunches and meals- savings approximately $200 

Weekly cleaning of my home- savings approximately $120

Mowed the grass- $40

Washed two of the dogs- $30

De-shed one of the dogs with a special tool- $30

Made the autumn wreath for the front door (minus materials) -$40

Not working a job outside my home- at least $100

Savings to date: $560


Along with her Vicky Challenge, Annabel also has the Christmas Challenge. This is another thing that I've been wanting to participate in, but just haven't. Admittedly, a lot of our gifts are store bought, but this year I am trying very hard to shop sales and shop early so that everything is done before mid December and also to supplement with some homemade items too.

Did you save money this week?

Sunday, September 25, 2016

MPM (September 26-October 1)





Well hello there!
Can you believe it's almost October? Where did September go? It's been a whirlwind of back to school activities, that's for sure! One thing that's kept me on track though, is of course, my menu planning. However, last week wasn't so great. It was a busy week and I relied on a lot of crock pot meals. The only problem was, most of the ones I used had similar flavor profiles, so by the end of the week almost everyone was sick of the flavor and chicken (we ate a lot of chicken, too!). In an effort to provide more variety while still keeping things cost effective and a bit healthier, this week I'm offering up a host of meatless options. We'll see how it goes!

Monday- Spaghetti with tofu and cheese, steamed broccoli, gluten free rolls
Tuesday- Lentil tacos with fixings
Wednesday- Curry chicken over rice, asparagus
Thursday- Asian noodle bowls
Friday- Leftovers
Saturday-  Persian zucchini stew

In other news, I have changed to a vegan diet. I've been having trouble digesting dairy for awhile, so it was quite easy to give up. I've had a love/hate relationship with meat for years. There are times I can tolerate it and other times that I can't stand to even look at it. So far, it's been an easy transition and I'm enjoying my food. My only current problem is that I need to up my calorie intake. If my calories are too low, my body will hold on to weight. I went soda free in July, too. To date I've lost 18 pounds (my goal is to lose a total of 96 pounds. Either that or until I feel comfortable with my body. ) As a side note, my changing to a vegan diet has nothing to do with my weight loss plan. 

As always, for more menu ideas, visit orgjunkie.com

Hope y'all have a great week!
 

Friday, August 26, 2016

MPM (August 29-September 4)




Hello again! This summer just keeps marching on, doesn't it? We have one more birthday to go in our celebrations and school is starting in just 11 days! The countdown is on! I have loved every minute of the summer, but I am so ready to get back into routines and cooler weather. We are actually starting to have cooler mornings and evenings here, though the days are still rather warm. I am still busy cleaning, de-cluttering, and organizing. I have gotten quite a bit done, although there is always more to do, it seems. My next project (hopefully tomorrow) will be the pantry. Along with that are a few shelves in the garage that I will be using for bulk item storage. Once I get my panty cleaned and organized, my next goal will be to fill it. I read somewhere (PW, I believe), that you should have three of everything in your pantry. I thought about it and think that's a pretty good idea.

I'm not sure if I mentioned it on here, but I subscribe to Patsi's way of thinking when it comes to a pantry. It's not just food. I have a dry goods pantry, my freezer pantry, sewing pantry, ect. So I made a list of all the things that fit my idea of a pantry and I will soon be on a mission to fill them up!

Oh, and yes, I realize it's a Friday. I write my menu and grocery list on Thursday and go shopping on Friday, so my menu usually goes from Friday to Thursday. If I wait until Monday, I usually forget to post it. Here we go:

Monday- French Canadian Chicken, rice, green beans

Tuesday- Swiss steak, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, whipped Jello

Wednesday- Italian pork chops, gluten free rolls, salad, fresh fruit

Thursday- Ham Tetrazzini, leftover rolls and salad

Friday- Lime Pepper Chicken, new potatoes browned in butter, steamed broccoli

Saturday- Date Night

Sunday- Marinated pork chops, cucumber salad, cheesy creamed spinach, cottage potatoes

For more menu ideas, visit orgjunkie.com!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

MPM (August 1-7)




Wow! Long time no post, huh? Around here, we have been busily soaking in all that summer has to offer. We've been going to the pool, made our annual beach vacation, been working on some summer projects (that still have a long way to go!) and are now gearing up for back to school. We still have a month left, though, and plan on squeezing in all we can! Speaking of having a month left, can you believe it's August already?! The summer is just flying! This week we'll be going camping for a few days and next week my oldest son (who will be a hs freshman this year) has orientation and also starts band camp. Also this month, we have three birthday's to celebrate and a birthday party to attend for a friend. In August, the pool we go to has float nights on Tuesday's, so we hope to catch a few of those, too. Through all our comings and goings, the one consistent thing has been my menu. Sometimes it has changed a bit...for example, if the kids weren't home and DH decided he wanted to go out for dinner. That just gave me an extra dinner somewhere else :) But I always have one in place. Here's this week:

Monday: Breakfast-gluten free pancakes, sausage patties, scrambled eggs, hashbrown cups (if it isn't too hot)

Tuesday: Falafel (I use this recipe, subbing gluten free flour. It is sooo good!), homemade tzatziki sauce, tortillas, lettuce

Wednesday-Friday: the kids and I will be camping with my in laws. DH is on his own

Saturday: Date Night

Sunday: Chicken Hurry over rice. I thought it looked good!

After talking to my MIL, I now know that we will be having burgers and wursts on Wednesday night and hobo meals on Thursday. I'm not sure what time we'll be home Friday, I just know that I'm not going to cook! ha! I will be bringing my own food for Wednesday and Thursday, but keep it with in the same "theme". That is, I'll be getting "burgers" for myself, have one for dinner on Wednesday and use one for my hobo meal on Thursday.

Hope you are all having a lovely summer! It has been super hot, but we are still having fun :) We are starting to get to the point, though, where I will be anxious for Fall (even though it stays hot through September and into October here!)

As always, for more menu ideas, visit orgjunkie.com!

Monday, June 27, 2016

MPM June 27-July 3





Hi there! Can you believe that it is almost July?! Time is just flying! Summer is in full swing here and we are taking advantage of warm, lazy days, going to the pool, just relaxing, and...doing some cleaning :) Of course, the kids are keeping me on my toes, too. The oldest boy (14) just left for Boy Scout camp and the other three are enjoying time at Grandma's and other endeavors. I'm keeping busy with my purging/cleaning (although I've been a bit busy with some other things lately to really get into it), Needlecraft Guild (we take the summer off, though I am co-chair for the MAQF and I'm on the Program Committee for next year so I have meetings twice a month), stocking up the pantry, and crafting. Even though we are enjoying lazy days, I still make making a menu a priority. Without it I'd be staring into a fridge at 8:30p with hungry kids asking me when dinner is and I wouldn't have a clue! Here's what's cooking this week:

Monday: Marinated pork chops on the grill, corn, skillet potatoes, cucumber salad

Tuesday: Beef bites, creamed spinach, Alfredo noodles, squash patties

Wednesday: Spaghetti with homemade meatballs

Thursday: Carnitas with fixings

Friday: Pizza

Saturday: Going out

Sunday: Oven fried chicken, gravy, mashed potatoes, peas, cucumber salad, pudding parfaits

For more menu ideas and inspiration, visit orgjunkie.com!

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Vicky Challenge

I am late to this particular party, mainly because my January (when it started) to June is just crazy. I have enough to do without trying to keep up with my savings. I'm hoping that by next year (where I am determined to start the year off clean and organized so that I do have more time for these "little" things that I wish to participate in) I will be able to jump in in January. You can read more about the Vicky Challenge here and here. On to this week's savings (or last week, if you want to get technical!)

I saved money by:

Making gluten free cupcakes for my daughter's birthday using ingredients on hand: $32!

Ordering her gift through Amazon (I was going to use a gift card to B&N, but my husband ordered it before I could tell him. It was cheaper on Amazon): $15

Making two pocket letters using materials on hand: around $10

I'm sure there are a few other things in there, but this is the jist. Savings to date: $57

Hopefully over the course of the next several months I will be adding quite substantially to that total!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Starting Fresh and MPM (June 20-26)



Hi there!

I know I've been neglecting my poor blog here, but when life gets busy it's often the computer activities that fall by the wayside. There have been so many end of the year school activities going on plus scout activities and birthdays and a slew of other things. Very blessed, just very busy! The children have had their last day of school and are looking forward to their vacation! A week from today, my oldest boy (14) goes off to boy scout camp and in just over a month we'll be making our annual trip to the beach. There are also plans in the works to perhaps go camping at a Jellystone campground and possibly going back to Luray (we went several years ago). All in all it should be a very full summer and I can't wait! Another thing I've neglected is my decluttering project. I am going to be jumping back into that next week (this week is already swamped!), though the areas I had already decluttered have remained cleaned :) Through it all, I've maintained a menu plan. I don't know what would happen if I didn't have my menu plan every week! I think everyone would just be fending for themselves. Not good! Here's the menu for this week:

Monday: Honey Teriyaki Chicken, rice, green beans

Tuesday: Breakfast: scrambled eggs, sausage gravy, chocolate gravy, biscuits, bacon, fruit salad

Wednesday: Pork chop suey, rice, salad

Thursday: Ham steak, scalloped potatoes, pea salad

Friday: Leftovers

Saturday: Date Night

Sunday: Carnitas, rice, corn chips, avocado dip, fruit salad

Do you need menu ideas? Visit orgjunkie.com for inspiration!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Menu Plan Monday (May 16-22)



Whew! I have been so busy that I haven't had time to post here lately. You may remember me mentioning cleaning and organizing? Well, I'm still going at it. I'll be sharing before and after pictures later this week (Friday) of the areas I've worked on so far. Some areas I will still need to go back to and organize them even better than they are, but for now, they are cleaned up and organized in a fashion. Or will be by the end of the week! :)

Just because I haven't posted doesn't mean I haven't been menu planning. Honestly, next to a really good evening routine, having a menu plan in place is key to keeping things running smoothly while I try and get work done in the house. Here's what's going on this week:

Monday

Tangy ham steak (grill)
Cheesy scalloped potatoes
Broccoli salad (like pea salad, but with broccoli)
Fresh corn

Tuesday

Gingered skewered beef
Rice
Green beans
Strawberries

Wednesday

My Mother's birthday so we're going out!

Thursday

Jamaican Brown Chicken Stew
Rice

(I've been craving this recipe and can't wait to make it!)

Friday

Leftovers

Saturday

Not sure yet. Something easy!

Sunday

Pork shoulder with gravy
Roasted potatoes
Spinach salad


Head on over to orgjunkie.com for menu inspiration!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Menu Plan Monday (May 2-8)



Hi there!
Can you believe it's May already? It seems like the year has hardly started and yet, it's almost halfway done. I know I didn't get a menu posted last week, but I was nursing sick children, working on some projects, and nursing my own cold. I think it was Thursday before I realized I hadn't posted it! This week has some fun "holidays" in it though, and I'm really looking forward to them! Here we go:

Monday

Breakfast:
Biscuits and gravy
Ham and spinach refrigerator pie
Sausage refrigerator pie
Fruit salad

Tuesday

Homemade pizza

Wednesday (Star Wars Day!)

Boba Fett-ucini
Death Star garlic knots
Yoda soda
Bossk Brownies

Thursday (Cinco de Mayo)

Carnitas
Rice
Semi-Homemade Tres Leches Cake (gluten free)

Friday

Leftovers

Saturday

Some kind of soup, I think

Sunday (Mother's Day)

Cookout at the park (menu still being determined)

It's pretty late here (I've been dealing with insomnia lately), so I'm going to go try and sleep. I'll be back later this week with some recipes to share. In the meantime, check out orgjunkie.com for menu inspiration!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Card Making

I dabble in making cards. It's a fun process, but I always tend to overthink things and I never think my cards turn out any good! However, they aren't going get better unless I practice, right? To that end, I have decided to participate in From the Heart Stamps Stamp of the Month Challenge.

FTHS is a great company that carries a wide selection of digital stamps. I've purchased several of them and the quality is just fantastic! Faith does a super job of designing the stamps and I have yet to be disappointed. One of the neat things about the Stamp of the Month Challenge is that when you participate, you receive the next month's image FREE! How awesome is that? Enough babbling...here's my card:

 The sentiment reads Time spent with you...and on the inside continues with...is time well spent. I'm going to send it to my mom :)

These are mini cards that I experimented with. I love how they turned out! All but one use a section from an adult coloring book that I colored using Spectrum Noir markers. They are just 3.5x2.5!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Pocket Letter Pals

I was watching videos on youtube the other day when the person on video started babbling about pocket letters. What in the world was a pocket letter, I wondered. I didn't get to find out from that particular video, because frankly the voice was a bit monotone and she was really dragging it out and I started to nod off. Instead, I did the next best thing and used google. Am I ever glad I did! Pocket letters are a new way to old fashioned pen pals!
    Did you ever have a pen pal? I had a few and I remember them fondly. I also remember the excitement when I would arrive home from school and there would be an envelope or two for me. What fun to read about what someone else was doing. Sometimes we'd exchange little trinkets, a bookmark perhaps. One pen pal and I would exchange mixed tapes (yes, it was the 80's!). Pocket letters incorporate a trading card page and you insert little things into the pockets. One should be a letter, but then, anything goes! And for added fun, you can embellish the pockets. Sometimes when you swap they'll be a theme involved. Here a few examples:



And then they fit perfectly in a binder! I did some more poking around the web and found this site. After registering (for free), I am now signed up for three swaps and am doing an independent Dr Who swap with someone. I was so excited I went shopping today to prepare. Here's my haul:
Would you believe that all of this cost me right around $20? You can't even really see everything I got. I found some cool stuff at the Dollar Tree, hit the Dollar Spot at Target, and snagged some awesome deals at Michael's and Joann's. I'll share my pocket letters as I finish them.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Menu Plan Monday (April 18-24) 2016


Last week really flew by, didn't it?! As mentioned, I am busy cleaning, declutter, and organizing. Still a lot to do, but everyday it gets better. Each day I add something new to my evening routine and I think I've almost got that down pretty pat. My morning routine is pretty easy peasy. I've had it down for awhile. I tell you, though, I am *loving* going into the kitchen in the morning and seeing clean counters! I almost always have to put a dish in the dishwasher though, because DH likes a "midnight snack" and for some reason lacks the ability to put his dirty dishes in the dishwasher. Whatever. Onto the plan so I can get back to cleaning. Working on the boys room (they have been told they *will* be responsible for keeping it that way when I'm done...just wait until you see the before and after. It's a disaster!)

Monday

Curried chicken (crock pot)
Rice
Green beans

Tuesday

Homemade pizza


Wednesday

Falafel
Homemade tzatziki sauce
Hummus
Homemade pita chips
Carrots

Thursday

Maple Mustard pork chops (recipe below)
Scalloped potatoes
Peas
Strawberries

Friday

French Market Soup (crock pot) (did not get made last week)

Saturday

Two cheese macaroni bake (vegetarian) (did not get made last week)

Sunday 

Going out




Maple Mustard Pork Chops

This is so easy, I can't even call it a recipe. Mix together equal amounts of good quality maple syrup (not pancake syrup!) and stone ground mustard (I like Trader Joe's, but any stone ground mustard will do). Use this to marinate your chops for several hours, then grill. So tasty!

Head over to orgjunkie for tips, recipes, and ideas for your own menu plan.

Oh! Before I forget....here's a picture of my beautiful fridge. Isn't it gorgeous?

Monday, April 11, 2016

It's Monday and that means it is time for Menu Plan Monday over at orgjunkie.com! It's a great link up for motivation and inspiration. I tend to menu plan for the month so that I can snag specials when I see them and it can be a process. I am working on streamlining it down so that my planning is faster and easier. I mean, last week when I worked on my plan and grocery list it took a couple of hours. Granted, I was distracted by binge watching Gotham on Netflix, but still. Way too long. Because it's spring, I have gotten into spring cleaning mode. Well, maybe it would be better defined as just cleaning mode. I've had it up to my eyeballs with junk and stuff everywhere. I've tried various methods and watched countless videos, so all the information is there, I just lacked motivation to implement anything. The last straw came recently. We were having everyone over for Easter and as I cleaned stash and dashed everywhere and everything, I decided enough was enough! I started with the entry way which includes a low bookshelf, the front closet, and my craft dresser. I love to do a variety of crafts and since we don't have a lot of storage in this house, I use my old dresser. I wish I had thought to take before and after pictures, but I didn't. At least, not of part of the closet and my dresser. I'm still working in this area though, so I will take pictures of the rest.

Today I took a break from the entry way and focused on the fridge. It was really driving me crazy. Again, I didn't take pictures of before, but I can certainly post an after picture later. It looks amazing! I'm pretty sure my husband is going to laugh at me when he gets home and sees it, but I don't care! I love it!

Enough babbling...here's what is on the menu this week:

Monday

Smothered Beef (crock pot) (new recipe)
Rice
Cucumber Salad

Tuesday

Marinated chicken on the grill (recipe below)
Cottage potatoes
Corn

Wednesday

Chalupas (crock pot) (new recipe)
Lettuce
Tomatoes
Cheese

Thursday

Spinach and Feta Casserole (vegetarian) (new recipe)
Gluten free cornbread

Friday

French Market Soup (crock pot) (new recipe)

Saturday

Macaroni and two cheese bake (vegetarian) (new recipe)

Sunday

Braised pork shoulder
Mashed potatoes
Fried cabbage
Pudding parfaits


Marinade for chicken (adapted from Finger Licking Chicken Marinade from Food.com):

  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2  cup vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (lime juice works well, too)
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt (to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoons thyme
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  1. Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Use to marinate chicken pieces at least 30 minutes and then to baste the meat as it cooks in the oven or over hot coals. I find it tastes best to marinate all day or even over night.