Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I'm NOT Going to Introduce Myself

...I've changed my mind.

*Updated: No one really took any guesses to my "questionnaire" (except for Linda) so I'm just going to post the answers. (Previously posted on 3/26/09.)

This idea came from Linda at Ivory Blossom. I thought this was a wonderful idea. So, can you introduce me?

1. Do I have any brothers or sisters?
Yes, I'm the oldest of three girls
2. What is my favorite sport to WATCH?
soccer & college basketball
3. What is my ancestry? (this one is tricky)
I'm half Dutch and my dad is adopted so I don't know what the rest of me is. ;)
4. What would I order at MacDonald's?
An ice cream cone and fries. There's something about dipping that hot salty french fry into ice cold sweet cream. Yumm-O!
5. Do I play any instrument? (what instrument?)
I played violin from 4th-8th grade; played bells and chimes in high school, but I took piano from 1st grade through 8th out of all of them it's mostly the piano.
6. Have I ever had any pets? (what animal?)
I guess my first pet was a poodle named Snuggles. And we had a cat named Sibbey (she was my favorite).
7. What's my most-hated household chore?
Mopping: just when you get it clean, someone spills.
8. Have I ever lived abroad?
Nope. I went to China with my husband's family for 10 days but that's my only "overseas" trip.
9. How long have I been a Christian?
I was blessed to have grown-up in a Christian household. I made Profession of Faith when I was a junior in high school. But it wasn't until after I got married that I really turned my life over to the Lord. Mostly I needed to let go of my control-issues. I have a wonderful husband who enabled me to do that. So, I guess I've always been a "Christian" but I've been a true believer and follower for 6 years.
10. What's my favorite dessert?
Cheesecake or Chocolate Brownies

Play along and give Linda some love by linking to her site.

No Spend March - It's Over!!

Today is the last day of "No Spend March." And we made it...with a few extras:

  • March 1st - Jimmy John's - $17.51
  • March 13th - Balloons for a birthday party - $2.25
  • March 26 - Panera (used a gift card) - $1.32
TOTAL: $21.08

That's not great, I'll admit that. But we did try hard and that spending on the 1st really got us!! Too bad I forgot what the date was. ;)

And there were some surprise blessings this month too:
  • 2 gallons of milk from our neighbor. His friend drives a dairy delivery truck and they had extra milk, so our neighbor thought of us!! Yay!!
  • My father-in-law paid for our birthday buffet at Valentino's. Thanks!!
  • Free babysitting by a middle school small group on a Tuesday night. Thanks, girls!!
  • I was supposed to bring food for our women's group and I forgot to let my table know. I went to the store and a woman from my table joined me and paid for the brunch items. Thanks!!
  • A mentor from church took me out to lunch one Sunday (my husband gets to "do lunch" frequently - so it was my turn). Thanks for treating me!!
  • My husband's college buddy treated us for dinner when he stayed overnight at our house. Thanks so much!!
It was a great month and it will more than likely become the norm around here. Pray that I can keep up the menu planning and the general frugal spending (thanks to Laura and Katie for your additional tips).

Monday, March 30, 2009

Homeschooling Week 6

I was really prepared for week 6 and we found a bunch of books at the library about the sun. My son really enjoyed his first time painting with watercolors. I was a little worried about the length of the memory verse because it's the longest one we've had, but he did great. It's so fun to hear him recite scripture.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

Friday, March 27, 2009

How To Clean Your Gas Stove Drip Pans

I've been neglecting cleaning the drip pans on my gas stove-top for some time (as you can see by the first photo). They had gotten so bad that I priced new drip pans (way too expensive to just replace) and decided to check the internet for cleaning ideas or tips:

WD-40: did get the top layer of grime off, but not the really dark stuff underneath
oven cleaner: seemed a little harsh outside of the oven
boiling and scrubbing with baking powder: took a lot of time and only did an ok job

So, I decided to try my own methed. I rubbed Dawn Dish Detergent into the stains and poured hot water into the pans and let them set for about 15 minutes. Then I got out the steel wool and wiped away most of the grime. I had to scrub a little harder on the really bad ones, but they came out looking like new!!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Not Eating Out

I am in withdrawal! I'll admit it. I want to grab something at a fast food place SO BAD!! I want to sit at a Mexican restaurant and enjoy eating chips and salsa and then my favorite chicken tacos. I want to go out to eat and NOT cook!!

We did go out for my son's birthday to Valentino's for pizza and pasta buffet. But that's NOT fun with your kids. My husband and I didn't really even get to eat. And when we pay Grandpa pays for a buffet we want to get our money's worth. So that was kind of a disappointment. But what can I really expect when I'm eating with a 3-year-old and a 16-month-old at a birthday party buffet?

Today I had a meeting at church at 10. It was pretty brief, but the kids were fighting and crying almost the entire time. We left church at 10:45 and I knew we needed to get home for lunch (we usually eat between 10:30-11:15a). I wanted to just grab some tacos from Taco John's or a cheeseburger from McDonald's. But I resisted the temptation and drove straight home. Where I am now...with the baby in bed without lunch because he was crying continuously and with the "big boy" complaining at my feet that he's hungry while we wait for the oven to heat up for some homemade pizza bites and anticipate 15 minutes of them cooking in the oven. Urgh!! I wish we stopped for tacos! Who's idea was it to do "No Spend March" anyway?! ;)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Menu Plan 3/29-4/25

Week 1 - March 29-April 4
Sunday - homemade pizza
Monday - BBQ sandwiches, cole slaw (from last Saturday's leftover roast)
Tuesday - meal at Growth Group
Wednesday - breakfast
Thursday (Date Night) - leftovers?
Friday - breakfast with Dad (mom gone overnight)
Saturday - chicken and rice, lettuce salad

Week 2 - April 5-11
Sunday - homemade pizza
Monday - tacos, "potato ole's"
Tuesday - meal at Growth Group
Wednesday - out of town
Thursday (Date Night) - out of town
Friday - tavern, chips, fresh veggies
Saturday - Chicken Noodle Hold the Soup - Rachel Ray's Recipe

Week 3 - April 12-18
Sunday - leftovers
Monday - BLT's
Tuesday - beef wellington, sweet potatoes
Wednesday - breakfast
Thursday (Date Night) - leftovers
Friday - grill steaks, fried potatoes and veggies (grill chicken for Saturday)
Saturday - Chinese salad, grilled chicken

Week 4 - April 19-25
Sunday - homemade pizza
Monday - farmhouse BBQ muffins, tater tots
Tuesday - meal at Growth Group
Wednesday - breakfast
Thursday (Date Night) - porcupine meatballs, baked potatoes
Friday - out of town
Saturday - out of town

Are you planning for April? What dishes do you have on your menu?

Chili Casserole?

This "recipe" is something I threw together last night because I didn't want to go get groceries. Besides, it's still "No Spend March" so I thought that was a good excuse.

Chili Casserole
disclaimer - this is not really a recipe, you just make it up as you go

1 (12 oz) bag macaroni - cooked
1/2 jar of spaghetti sauce (leftover from the other night)
1/2 can tomato sauce
1 lb hamburger, browned
dried minced onion
garlic powder
crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup cheese

Mix together the ground beef, spaghetti sauce and tomato sauce until bubbling. Add chili, onion, cumin, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper (all to taste). Mix sauce with the cooked macaroni and stir in the frozen corn. Pour into a greased casserole and top with cheese. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

That's it. It was really yummy and really easy. You have to just taste the sauce as you go. You could even add a little cinnamon to give it a different flavor. Basically, I just used up some of the leftovers out of the fridge and it turned out to be yummy.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Works-for-Me Wednesday: The Biggest Loser Workout

I have two shows that I take pretty seriously:

I don't get to watch The Biggest Loser as often because we have Growth Group every other Tuesday night, but I watch it when I can.

We can't afford to have a gym membership right now so we borrow workout DVD's from the library. My husband knows that I love The Biggest Loser and cry at the end of every episode to prove it so when he saw The Biggest Loser Workout Vol. 1 at the library, he knew that I would like it. I did. I was hooked. We had to pay a fine because I didn't want to return it. So, we searched on Amazon and found ourselves a copy.

The thing I like about this DVD is that there are several different workouts that you can do and you can add them together in any order you like:

Low Intesity Cardio
High Intensity Cardio

They also have a preset program for 6 weeks.

I've done it a few times before (inconsistently) and it kicks my butt. But I need to get into a workout routine so this week I started putting stickers on my calendar (just like a kid) on the days I work out to the video. So far, two days in a row! Yay, me!

Anyway, there are a few more Biggest Loser workouts and I can't wait 'till I'm "bored" of this one so I can try something new.

The Biggest Loser: Workout Vol 1 (2004)
The Biggest Loser: Workout Vol 2 (2006)
The Biggest Loser: Workout - Cardio Max (2007)
The Biggest Loser: Workout - Power Sculpt (2007)
The Biggest Loser: Workout - Weight Loss Yoga (2008)
The Biggest Loser: Workout - Boot Camp (2008)

For more Works-for-Me Wednesday tips head over to We Are THAT Family (she posted how she made the cutest Easter/Spring wreath).

Monday, March 16, 2009

Disney Cars Birthday Cake

For my son's 3rd birthday I made a Disney Cars birthday cake. It turned out pretty cute.

I wanted to make this cake, but we weren't having a huge party so it was a little large for us.

We had a great time at Valentino's and my father-in-law paid for dinner. What a blessing! So, we only spent $2.25 for balloons. That's great!

Total spent: $19.76

Friday, March 13, 2009

Chicken Noodle Hold the Soup

Seriously, this recipe is easy and delicious!! I saw it on the Rachel Ray Show about a year ago and I had to try it. So, I looked it up online and it's super easy!! It really only takes about 20 minutes - most of it's cutting and boiling.

Chicken Noodle Hold the Soup
from the Rachel Ray Show

1 rotisserie chicken (I just used cooked s/b chicken breast because it's what I had on hand)
2 tbsp EVOO (extra virgin olive oil - you can use vegetable oil if you don't have EVOO on hand)
1 medium onion, thinly sliced (I cut my slices in half)
2 to 3 medium carrots, cut into matchsticks
4 to 5 celery ribs, cut into matchsticks
2 small zucchini, cut into matchsticks (I omitted these because I didn't have them on hand)
salt and pepper
1 pound extra-wide egg noodles
1 tbsp butter or margarine
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley (I just sprinkled on some dry stuff)
1/2 10-ounce box frozen peas, defrosted

1. Bring a large pot of salted water over high heat for the egg noodles. Discard skin from the chicken and remove the meat from the bones. Shred the chicken meat with your fingers or two forks and reserve.

2. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat with the EVOO. Add the onion, carrot and celery to the pan, and cook until the veggies begin to get tender, 3-4 minutes. Toss zucchini inot the pan along with some salt and pepper, and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes until all the veggies are tender.

3. While the veggies are cooking, drop the noodles into the boiling water and cook to al dente according to package directions. Drain the noodles and reutrn them to the pot they were cooked in. Add the butter and parsely to pot and give everything a good toss to melt the butter and coat the noodles.

4. Add the shredded chicken and peas to the pan with the veggies and cook until the chicken is heated through.

5. To serve, spoon some noodles into a bowl and top with the chicken and veggie mixture.

I didn't get a picture of this one because we dug-in too fast and it was gone. It's so good and really easy. I usually have all the ingredients in the house (except for the rotisserie chicken) and I substitute the chicken for chicken breast or whatever's in the freezer. Enjoy!!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Homeschooling Lessons 4 & 5

We have been getting through our homeschooling VERY slowly. It takes us about 2-3 weeks per lesson. I'll admit it: I'm a bit discouraged. I am a very detail-oriented person, and my least not yet. We haven't found a daily time that works well. Sometimes it's in the morning and sometimes in the afternoon and sometimes it's before bed. So, I'm working on the routine aspect of it all and hopefully will try again next week to finish one lesson in one week.

Here's what we did for lessons 4 and 5:

Lesson 4
This lesson's Bible verse has come in VERY handy many times over the past few weeks...and I'm sure he'll be reciting it often in the future:
"Do everything without complaining or arguing." Philippians 2:14

Lesson 5
We made...I made snowflakes that have been hanging from our kitchen light fixture. He played with the "confetti" made by the snowflake-cutting process. Oh, and triangles are his favorite shape so this was an exciting week!!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Works-for-Me Wednesday: Free Money

Several months ago we switched banks. We attended Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey (a whole Works-For-Me Wednesday on its own) and finally went through all of our bills with a fine toothed comb. We realized that our current bank was charging us a fee for our debit cards because we didn't keep a "minimum balance" in our checking (even though we had free, no-minumum balance checking and savings). We didn't know that we had been paying that monthly fee for over 4 years. That's a lot of money. We called the bank and asked if they could wave our fee and they said "No." So we went bank shopping. We found a nice bank close to our home that won't charge us "hidden fees" and there were a few perks:

  • a fee tote bag or a travel first aid kit (we chose the tote bag)
  • up to $25 back for your old checks and debit cards (they would dispose of them for us)

Well, our old bank is finally closed out and my husband went to our new bank with all our old stuff and this is what we got:

YAY!!! What a blessing during "No Spend March." I had set aside some money for my son's birthday party at Valentino's and now, I'm going to use this $25 instead. And I think I can even get balloons! God is so good.

PS. Valentino's doesn't do balloons

For more Works-For-Me Wednesday tips head over to We are THAT Family.

We've Got a Winner

Congratulations to Linda for winning the Free 16x20 Poster Print from Online Poster Printing!! Linda blogs at Ivory Blossom and I encourage you to check it out.

Here are your random numbers:


Timestamp: 2009-03-11 14:52:29 UTC

courtesy of

Linda, I will be contacting you about your win and Online Poster Printing should be contacting you soon!! Congrats!

Recipe Testing #1

In January I officially became a recipe tester for Cook's Country, my favorite foodie magazine. Don't think that I'm anything special, you just log-in to their website and sign-up. Once a month, they'll send you a recipe to test and give you a deadline for your feedback. You never "have" to test a recipe so if the ingredients don't fit into the budget (they plan 6 months in advance so you might have a recipe that calls for watermelon in January) I don't make the recipe.

On Monday night, I made my first test recipe: Reduced-Fat Sloppy Joes. I'm not at liberty to share the recipe with you, but I will share the numbers for this reduced-fat sandwich:

All nutritional information is for a single serving (including bun).

Traditional Sloppy Joe
Calories: 570
Fat: 30g
Saturated Fat: 10g

Cook's Country Reduced-Fat Sloppy Joe
Calories: 280
Fat: 9g
Saturated Fat: 2.5g

That's quite a difference! I'd say that the recipe was really good. Tasted very similar to my traditional sloppy joes (or tavern as we call them around here) but were more time consuming. So, if I'm planning ahead, I will make the reduced-fat version, but if I'm making tavern in a pinch, I'll just make them my traditional way and live with the extra fat.

PS. I'll let you know when the recipe comes out in the magazine.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Menu Plan 3/1-3/28

I plan my dinner menu 2-4 weeks in advance. I watch for good deals as I cook and move things around within my four week plan.

Week 1 - March 1-7
Sunday - Penne with White Beans and Spinach - Short Stop's Recipe; breadsticks - Mrs. D's recipe
Monday - leftovers
Tuesday - meal at Growth Group
Wednesday - breakfast
Thursday (Date Night) - chicken and rice, corn
Friday - porcupine meatballs, baked potatoes, cream peas
Saturday - leftovers

Week 2 - March 8-14
Sunday - homemade pizza
Monday - sloppy joes, chips, veggies
Tuesday - Chicken Noodle Hold the Soup - Rachel Ray's Recipe
Wednesday - breakfast
Thursday (Date Night) - beef wellington, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole
Friday - birthday party at Valentino's
Saturday - hobo dinners

Week 3 - March 15-21
Sunday - homemade pizza
Monday - tacos, "potato ole's"
Tuesday - meal at Growth Group
Wednesday - french toast, eggs, bacon, fruit
Thursday (Date Night) - club brunch ring, salad
Friday - roasted chicken, roasted sweet potatoes, dilled corn
Saturday - Nacho Pie, salad

Week 4 - March 22-28
Sunday - salad pizza, chicken breasts
Monday - spaghetti, breadsticks, salad
Tuesday - lemon baked cod, mashed potatoes, peas
Wednesday - breakfast
Thursday (Date Night) - Panera Gift Card
Friday - hobo dinners
Saturday - something from the crock pot

That's the plan. Things do have a tendency to change, so we'll see how well I stick to the plan this month. Considering it's "No Spend March" I'll be more diligent at sticking to the menu.

Do you have any good staple meals that you have once a week?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Birthday Party Planning on a Dime

It's our son's third birthday on Thursday. I'm having a hard time thinking of ways to "not spend" as we celebrate.

We bought a special Your Birthday Book for each child last summer after I saw it in Pottery Barn Kids. It's a great book and hopefully they'll keep printing it so all of our kids will have their own. It's a great way to write down their birthday memories and start birthday traditions. We wanted to follow a great example of some friends and take our kids out for breakfast and then go through the questions in their book: Who is the last person you kissed? What's your favorite food? etc. So, we might be using our Panera gift card (was reserving it for a date night this month) to take him out for breakfast (a bagel or a muffin and a smoothie).

My husband thought it would be fun to take him to the little miniature golf course in the mall. It's a black light course so that's kind of fun. But it's not the best thing in the world and for the cost it's not even great. So, we're going to nix that and take him to a playground (hopefully it will be nice enough to play outside). Or we can do Play Pals at the city gym.

Friday night we invited some friends (via E-Vite, so we didn't have to spend money on invites and postage) to Valentino's to help us celebrate. I've already set aside money for this because I knew it was coming and I know it's a special treat. The only dilemma is balloons. That's what defines "birthday party" to my son. So, I don't know if Valentino's has balloons there, but my husband was going to check and see if they would put some on our table (one for each child coming to the party - 4). Hopefully they'll do that for free so I won't have to figure out how to not spend money and buy balloons (maybe a coin hunt in the car).

And I'm making the cake. I bought two box cake mixes and I'll be making my husband's family's frosting recipe. I have the cake all planned out, but I don't want to show you my idea in case it doesn't turn out...then they're won't be as much humiliation. It will be a Disney 'Cars' cake and I'm really excited to make it.

As for the gift, we bought it during one of the after-Christmas sales. So, we've been hiding it in the closet for months. After we bought it I just put it on the bedroom floor and went to bed. He came in the next morning to wake us up and found his gift. He was excited, but not so much after I had to take it away and hide it. So, I'm hoping he'll be as excited when he actually gets to open it.

What are ways you save money while celebrating special occasions?

Brownie Bites and a Baby Shower

In February our Growth Group (couples small group Bible study) threw a baby shower for a dear friend in our group. She's the college pastor's wife so we put an announcement in the bulletin to invite the women of the church. We also sent out some invitations to special people that our guest of honor wanted to make sure were invited.

We had a lot of fun making these invitations. It's funny because at times we so focused on our task that there was silence...absolutely no talking. That's amazing considering there were three women sitting at the table together for about four hours. ;)

The shower was a lot of fun. I think the guest of honor was blessed by the 25 women that attended. Not only with their gifts, but with their friendships and their encouragement. We played a few games and ate desserts. I made Short Stop's Triple Chocolate Sour Cream Brownie Bites. They got rave reviews and they are so simple to make!! Enjoy the recipe!

Triple Chocolate Sour Cream Brownie Bites

recipe from Short Stop

One (9x13") box brownie mix, and ingredients listed on box
1 cup sour cream
1 cup chocolate chips
2 tablespoons flour
1 can chocolate frosting (I whipped my frosting first so it was a little bit lighter)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease mini muffin tins or line with mini-muffin liners.

Prepare brownie batter according to package directions. Stir in sour cream.

Pour chocolate chips and flour into a small bowl. Toss chocolate chips and flour. (This will keep the chocolate chips from falling to the bottom.) Add chocolate chips to brownie batter.

Fill mini-muffin tins 2/3 full with batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool completely.

Fill frosting bag or sandwich baggie with frosting. Pipe frosting in swirls onto brownies.

These are the best brownie bites and the chocolate chip tip is priceless!!

Porcupine Meatballs

Porcupine Meatballs is something I grew up with. They're delicious and a nice spin on your basic meatloaf. I remember my mom making these so when I called with questions about the recipe she told me that she modified it almost every time she made it...whatever she had in the cupboards. So, I'll give you the version that I made and leave some comments at the end.

Porcupine Meatballs

makes 2 8x8 pans

1 1/2 lb lean ground beef
1 cup water
1 cup Minute Rice
1/2 cup chopped onion (I used both scallions and yellow onion)
1 1/2 tsp salt (I didn't measure)
1/4 tsp pepper (I didn't measure)
1 small can tomato sauce
1 cup ketchup
3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tbs mustard

Mix the beef, water, rice, onion, salt and pepper together with hands. After mixture is combined, form into 32 mini-meatballs. Place 16 meatballs in greased 8x8 pan.

Mix together the tomato sauce, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar and mustard. Season to taste. Pour half of mixture over each pan of meatballs. (I freeze one pan to use later.)

Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

  • Meatballs can be made larger to fit into a 9x13 pan. Bake for 1 hour 30 minutes.
  • Can substitute 1 cup pre-cooked rice for the Minute rice and omit 1 cup water.
  • You can use dry minced onion in place of the chopped onion.
  • If you don't have a small can of tomato sauce, you can 1 cup ketchup - total 2 cups ketchup.
  • If using from the freezer, thaw in fridge overnight and bake as normal.


Friday, March 6, 2009

My 100th Post and a Giveaway!

In celebration of my 100th post, I'm hosting my very own Giveaway!

I was so excited when Online Poster Printing contacted me about a giveaway and I thought this was the perfect way to celebrate with my readers!

Online Poster Printing is a great way to order Poster Prints Online. They have graciously offered to giveaway a 16x20 Photo Poster Print to one of my readers. They do a beautiful job! They also have vinyl banners, canvas prints and wall stickers available to purchase.

Here's what you need to know:
  • For your entry: leave a comment with how you would use a photo poster print if you won.
  • Deadline for your entry is Tuesday, March 10th by midnight.
  • Winner will be drawn at random on Wednesday, March 11th and the winner will be notified by email (so don't forget to leave your email address if your profile doesn't have it listed).
  • Prize ships free within the US or Canada. All others must pay shipping, but the print is still free!

Check out We Are THAT Family to see how she used her Photo Poster Print.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Shopping While "Not Spending"

I haven't gone over our grocery budget in over a year. Every time I get to the register I say a little prayer that I have enough cash in the envelope, and it hasn't failed...until today. What is God trying to teach me? I was careful what I put in my cart and even put some things back and it really felt like the cheese curls were calling my name. But I passed them by (several times due to the end of the aisle displays) and I still went over. By $19. I don't do that...and I really didn't want to do that this month. I took some money from the baby envelope to cover the rest of the groceries...because the kids are both eating "real" food now so they should be expected to pitch in for groceries anyway. ;)

Keep praying, it's only the 5th. I have a feeling that No Spend March is going to be a tough month.

BBQ Beef Sandwiches with Cajun Cole Slaw

This is one of our favorite sandwich recipes. It's also great because it helps us use up any leftover roast. Last time I made a 4 lb roast just to make these sandwiches. We ate half and I froze the other half for another meal. Yumm!!

BBQ Beef Sandwiches

2 lb roast, cooked, shredded
BBQ Sauce, your favorite brand
1 tsp Cajun seasoning

Put the shredded meat into a small crock pot. Mix about 1/2 cup of BBQ sauce with seasoning and pour over the shredded meat; mix well. Cook on low for about 2 hours. Serve on fresh rolls and top with slaw and a slice of green bell pepper.

Cajun Cole Slaw
modified from Pampered Chef's Main Dishes

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp finely chopped onion (sometimes I use 1/2 tbsp dry minced onion)
1 tbsp white vinegar
2 tsp Cajun seasoning
3/4 tsp sugar
5 cups packaged cabbage slaw mix (sometimes I use half a head of cabbage and shred one carrot)

Mix together and toss lightly. Use slaw as a sandwich topper or serve as a side dish. Refrigerate leftovers.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

No Spend March?

I was inspired by Amy at MotherLoad: the MomAdvice Blog. Last month she did a No-Spend Month and I wanted to join her on her adventure, but there were too many things going on in February so I'm going to try this for March and we'll see how we do. It's been proven to be a real challenge already and it's only the 4th. We'll see how well we do at this. Here's the plan from Amy:

"When we say no spending, we mean no spending outside of our normal daily living expenses. Some things will still need to be purchased in order to keep the lights lit, food on our table, and diapers on our baby."

That leaves it pretty wide open, but we will only be buying the necesseties. Now, I might think that having more Downy for our laundry is a necessity, but in reality, this is a luxery that I love and will be hard for me to give up...if we run out during the month. I think this will be good for our family. My husband and I usually go out for dinner on date night, so we'll see what creative things we can come up with so we don't have to spend any money. Oh, and I didn't really prepare in advance...I thought that would be cheating. So my pantry is not stocked up from February and I didn't go out and purchase a bunch of restaurant gift cards. We're doing this for real people and I will be very honest with our spending.

We already had an "incident" because my parents were in town kind of unexpectedly so we went out for lunch with them after church on I kind of forgot it was the 1st of March. Also, it's my son's 3rd birthday this month and we've planned on having it at Valentino's. I will be making his cake so at least there's no spending there. I'll let you know how it goes.

March 1st - Jimmy John's $17.51 (Yikes!!)

I'm a Winner!!

I can't believe that I won something!!

I won a FREE Blurb book from MomAdvice! I've been entering contests and giveaways for a while now, but have never won anything. I'm super pumped. Amy asked us what we would do if we won the free Blurb book and I said a cookbook with my favorite recipes that are in my overstuffed recipe box...then I won't have to dig to find our family favorites. I also thought it would be neat to make a book of my family blog and include all the updates, stories, and pictures. But I'm leaning towards the cookbook. I'm super excited and can't wait to get started!!

Thanks Amy!!

Works-for-Me Wednesday: Weekly Home Blessing

FlyLady. I could post a year's worth of Works-for-Me Wednesdays just on FlyLady. If you want that much detail, you can just go to her site and check it out for yourselves. It can be very overwhelming at first, but it's been a great resource for me.

I've been trying to get into the groove of the Weekly Home Blessing and this week I have accomplished it. I guess it was hard to get into because I've been decluttering and trying to get things clean enough to clean...if that makes any sense. You spend a maximum of 10 minutes on each item (some take less). You set your timer for 10 minutes and get to work. If you're not finished with a task by the time your 10 minutes is up, you stop where you are and start there next week. I also pray as I work which really makes it feel like I'm blessing my home. Here's the list:

1. Cull/toss old magazines - this doesn't take much time because we don't get the newspaper and I don't get many magazines. I use this time to weed through any reading materials that have stacked up in our living room. It usually takes about 3 minutes to sort and about 3 minutes to put away.
* During this time I pray for God's blesssing on our country and in our world. I pray that the missionaries He has sent out can be reaching others for Christ. I pray that we may not be so focused on what the world's "standards of living" are but that we may have a Christ-centered home.

2. Change sheets - I think this is a great routine to get into. We have a few sets of sheets so it's not such a tragedy if they don't get laundered completely before bed, but starting the morning by clearing your sheets and putting them in the wash is a great way to get it done quickly.
* As I'm changing the sheets, I pray for my marriage. I pray that I will continue to put my husband before my children. I pray that God will bless our time together as a husband and wife. I pray that I may be Biblical submissive to my husband and that He may be blessed by it as well. I pray for my husband, that he may be the loving leader that our family needs and that God requires.

3. Empty all the trash - I didn't know if this one was so necessary as we empty when it gets full. My husband usually empties the trash, so on Mondays, this is my job (he gets to do it any other day of the week ;) )
* This is where I pray for God's daily blessings. I thank Him for our food, clothing, shelter. I ask God to continue to take care of our daily needs.

4. Vacuum all rooms - this is NOT a deep cleaning. It's just vacuuming around the living room, hall, bedrooms, dining areas and bathrooms. You don't have to move any furniture to get this done. It just cleans up the general living area.
* As I vacuum, I thank God for the luxeries: our television, our comfortable (falling-apart) recliner, our new mattress, our children's toys.

5. Mop kitchen and bath - I am terrible at this. I think I hate it so much because just when I get it cleaned, someone spills a gallon of milk, an entire bowl of spaghetti, a jar of jam (I'm exaggerating here, but you get the idea). This has kept me focused on at least once a week getting on my hands and knees to really scrub the floors. I don't do this every day and spot clean throughout the week. This just ensures that there's a clean base to begin the week with.
* While I mop, I ask God to continue to use my gifts for His glory. I pray that I can do a good job of cooking and cleaning as a Proverbs 31 woman. I pray for God to bless my kitchen and the work that is done there and all the enjoyment we have as we sit at our dinner table.

6. Clean mirrors and doors - this wouldn't be so bad, but our bedroom closet doors are large mirrors that our boys love to dance in front of...inevitebly getting fingerprints, nose markings, and some spit on them. It's a quick thing and my best tip for spotless glass - mirrors and other glass items - clean with warm water and Dawn dish soap. Spotless every time and no smears.
* Blessing my children is "easy" when I'm wiping their dirty fingerprints off my mirrors and doors. I praise God for the little hands that touch our lives. I ask God to bless my arrows that our parenting will be God-honoring and that we may be training our little hands to be warriors for the Gospel.

7. Feather dust furniture - again, this is not deep cleaning, this is dusting the areas that people will see. Decluttering your home and removing unimportant knick-knacks is a great place to start.
* I ask for God's blessings our our family as there are a lot of pictures in our home that need to be dusted. I ask for God to keep our family safe and say a special prayer for family members going through trials or tough times. I ask God to grace their lives with His presence.

This should take about an hour. I usually do it in the afternoon during nap time. It's been a great time saver and keeps me off the hook for the rest of the week (I still do the Zone Cleaning, but at least my surface cleaning is done). It's always easier when you set the timer.

Check out We Are THAT Family for more Works-for-Me Wednesday tips.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Basic Crock Pot Roast

Roast was always a favorite growing up for both my husband and me. It's a great meal because it usually involved the whole family sitting down at the table together...and it's delicious.

Basic Crock Pot Roast

4 lb roast, frozen
1 dry onion soup mix
1 dry Ranch seasoning packet
1/2 cup water

Place frozen roast in crock-pot and turn crock-pot to low heat. Mix onion soup mix, Ranch seasoning packet and water. Pour mixes over roast, put lid on and cook on low for 8-10 hours.

(Half-way through cooking you can add potatoes and carrots to serve as a side. Yumm!!)

That's it. It's pretty simple and makes a delicious roast. You can cook the roast already thawed, but you only need to cook it for a max of 8 hours. You can always check the meat temperature with a meat thermometer just to be safe.

I will still make a 3.5-4 lb roast for our small family because we love the leftovers. I've also come up with some great recipes for using up that leftover roast:

BBQ Beef Sandwiches
Vegetable Soup
Snow Peas and Beef

Monday, March 2, 2009

Missed You

Oh, how I've missed this blog. And I've missed all of your blogs. We've been running from one event/place/thing/people to another and we're pooped. We have another busy week and really we don't settle down until after March 28th. So, until then, my posts will be weekly, at best. Unless I get some uninterrupted time during the day to write a bunch to post daily. That would be nice.

I've been making some really yummy food over here and am working on finding fabric for curtains in my kitchen (and soon my living room). So, hopefully, I'll get on the ball and get back in the game. I can't wait to read what you've all been up to.