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!