7.20.2009

favorite blogs: Health Begins with Mom

This is a new to me blog that I LOVE, Health Begins with Mom! Sadly (but happily for her family!) she is taking a sabbatical from blogging for a bit to get school started back up with her kiddos. The archives are still fantastic though and I am already looking forward to her return.

Amy Ellen discusses all aspects of family health. Currently I'm working on making our eating habits more healthful and have found great ideas and resources on her site. I must say that some of the ideas are impossible for our family to implement because of cost, but the general idea of being a mom and wife and keeping my home in a way that promotes health in our family I am totally on board with!

I also emailed her with a question and received a truly thoughtful and personal response. So nice!

I highly recommend Health Begins with Mom!

7.17.2009

peanut butter granola

We love granola around here! Jon likes to eat it like cereal and I prefer it over yogurt. This stuff however, I can just eat straight from the jar... like candy! Unfortunately I have issues with taking pictures of food that I make... we always eat things before I think to take a picture! This time is no exception. But here's the recipe:
Peanut Butter Granola
Mix:
3 cups oats
1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts
1/2 cup coconut
2 Tbls. sesame seeds
Cook in sauce pan until smooth:
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 Tbls. light corn syrup (I use honey)
1/4 tsp. salt
Stir both mixes together. Spread onto a lightly greased pan (I use jelly roll). Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees, stirring after 10 minutes. (Watch closely, mine was getting very dark at the end of 20 minutes).

who needs a pool

While we love going to various local pools with friends some of them cost, a membership would definitely cost, and it takes time, energy and gas to load up in the car to go somewhere.

Since we are in an apartment and don't have pool access I came up with this fun way for Baby Girl to splash around on a hot day:

1. Take a plastic storage bin and fill it with just enough water that it's not too heavy to carry outside.

2. Throw in a few toys.

3. Set it outside in the shade and put the baby in the tub!

We did this for a full hour!

She doesn't look too thrilled in the picture, so if you're not convinced that this is fun check out this video:

video

I know it looks very dangerous that she's standing up in this thing... I was holding on to it the whole time so she wouldn't knock it over!

For more fun and frugal tips head on over to Life as Mom.

7.14.2009

best bib ever!

A friend at church recommended this bib to me, it's Parents brand and I found it at Wal-Mart for about $5. (Apparently her daughter dumped a whole bowl of soup in this thing and it caught every drop. We haven't gone so far in our testing but thus far it is worth every penny!

Here's how it works:

You snap the pocket together.

The pocket sticks out so it catches everything (except for bits of rice and peas and noodles that fly through the air in odd directions).

Once finished you unsnap the bib to wipe it clean without having to dig in the pocket!

Brilliant!

This certainly works for me. Check out We are THAT Family for more Works for Me tips!

P.S. I am not a fan of the pattern... they could have made this a little cuter especially since I really didn't like this movie.... but... this bib is so good I can overlook that!

7.13.2009

blessings of frugal living

While there are many blessings to living frugally (less "stuff," more quiet, healthier eating, focused stewardship, etc.) here is a picture of how our errands today played out:

1st stop- Post Office= Martha Stewart Living magazine, Parents magazine (both free subscriptions found online)

2nd stop- CVS= razor for Jon and tylenol (we MADE $0.60)

3rd stop- Staples= two (500 count) reams of printer paper, pretty pens (yay!), 2 rolls scotch tape, photo paper (after rebate we will have MADE $0.06)

What a blessing that with a little time and forethought we came away from our errands with more in our pocket than when we left home. And all for things we need or can use!

Many thanks to www.southernsavers.com and www.moneysavingmom.com for making me aware of such great deals!

monday menu- eating from the freezer edition

We are trying to clean out the freezer and pantry... it's going to take while. Here's how we're starting:

Monday- soft tacos (with kit that was the penny item at Publix a while back) with taco meat (freezer), spanish rice (freezer)

Tuesday- $2 Moe's Burritos... Sorry... I think this a local thing :o(

Wednesday- Quesadillas with rice and beans(freezer) using up the leftovers from Monday (and yes I did check with my husband to make sure he was okay with Mexican three nights running... he was... he eats anything... I'm blessed)

Thursday- Homemade pizza (sauce in freezer) with peppers (freezer), onions, and fresh basil

Friday- Clean out the Fridge

Saturday- Broccoli Stir Fry (freezer) with rice and homemade bread (freezer)

Sunday- Jon has something with work... I'll probably have cereal :o)

Check out Organizing Junkie for more meal plans.

7.10.2009

wedding gift idea

Tomorrow I am going to a shower for my future sister-in-law and had spent a while trying to think of a meaningful gift. Since we are in a bit of a budget pinch right now it needed to also be inexpensive.

I thought about the things I use in my home on a daily basis and (after asking the bride-to-be a few subtle questions to see if this would suit) I decided to create a recipe binder for her like the one I use every day.

I used to use a recipe box and that was... a disaster. My binder however is a joy to use! I hope it is for her as well!

Here's what you'll need:
- LARGE 3-ring binder (I think this one is 2.5-3 inches?)
- at least a 50 pack of page protectors
- sticky tab inserts for your categories
- a piece of cardstock for each category
- coordinating scrapbook paper for outside of notebook

I used the scrapbook paper and odds and ends of scrapbooking supplies that I had to create the cover, spine and back of the book.

I typed up the various categories and put those in the tab inserts. Going in order I stuck the tab inserts at varied intervals along the TOP of a piece of cardstock. Then I put the cardstock in a page protector (it doesn't work to use regular tab dividers because they won't stick out past the page protectors!). Lastly I printed out my own copies of recipes and added those to the binder.

Here are a few other tips for the binders:

- you can use page protectors with photo slots to hold recipe cards that you don't want to throw away. In my binder I have several of these because they are in the handwriting of someone special or were given to me at a special occasion.

- tear out recipes from magazines and slide them in a page protector

- make sure you give the bride some extra card stock and tab dividers if they want to adjust the categories

- keep it clean and organized

- make it pretty, you (or the recipient) will be more likely to use something that looks nice!

Read more frugal tips at Life as MOM.

7.03.2009

staycationing is the thing

Vacation with...

NO travel

NO packing

NO unpacking

NO excessive laundry pile-up... wait that happens anyway...

LOTS of family time

LOTS of relaxing

LOTS of exploring where we live

This has got to be my new favorite thing!

We staycationed from last Friday through Tuesday and it was AMAZING! I have never felt so relaxed in my life! This is what we did/ didn't do:

1. Didn't put pressure on ourselves to "do." Friday we just vegged and didn't feel guilty as if we were missing out on a new experience or place to explore.

2. Did make our meals special. We went out to one nice dinner and cooked other foods that are special to us.

3. Didn't try to keep up with the house completely. While I kept up with laudry and dishes we didn't worry about vacumming or bathroom cleaning or dusting or the like. This was vacation after all!

4. Did do something fun each day! Saturday we had a family photo shoot (compliments of a friend who is starting a photography business). Sunday we went swimming. Monday we went swimming and blueberry picking. Tuesday we went on the lake with friends.

5. Didn't spend a lot of money. Our dinner out was with an 80% off Restaurant.com gift card. Swimming was free. Blueberry picking cost but works into our food budget.

6. Did enjoy just being together. While Baby Girl was sleeping we watched some movies, read out loud to each other and just enjoyed the calm and quiet.

And now I don't feel like I need a vacation from vacation!!

For other money saving tips check out Frugal Fridays over at Life as Mom.

6.29.2009

monday menu- back in the saddle

Well... after skipping several weeks I'm finally back to more consistent and thorough meal planning. No excuses... I just wasn't on my game!

Here's this week's plan:

Monday- Steak quesadillas (using leftover london broil) and apples with peanut butter

Tuesday- BBQ chicken pizza and carrot sticks with ranch dressing

Wednesday- Eggs, sausage and grits

Thursday- Omlettes and muffins

Friday- Sunday- out of town for the 4th!

Is that lame to have two breakfast nights in a row?!? This was completely intentional as we don't want to have any leftovers hanging around over the long weekend and breakfast for dinner is one of the easiest ways to ensure that! It helps that we both really enjoy breakfast dinners :o) And hopefully is a great reminder that it doesn't always have to be fancy!

6.28.2009

hoodie towel

Our pastor's wife made one these for a friend recently and I LOVED it! I went out the next week and made my own for a shower gift and am making another soon for Baby Girl's first birthday! I should have taken step by step pictures... I'll do that next time!

Basically though....

1. Buy a towel and washcloth (TJ Maxx and Ross have nice thick ones much cheaper than Wal-Mart or Target in my opinion).

2. Choose some sort of decoration. If it's a print towel this wouldn't be totally necessary. You could do a strip of grosgrain across the hood or, like I did, applique a strip of fabric across the hood and then applique initials on the back.

3. Sew! This is going to have to come in a separate post with pictures... I tried to type it out and it doesn't make much sense to me unless you can see it! If you're desperate leave me a message and we can have a quick lesson!

The thing I really love about this as a gift is that it can be used for a long time! Baby Girl isn't even a year and has already outgrown her baby towels. This will last her for years!

Sadly... Blogger is (yet again) making my pictures flip! GRRRRR!!! I wanted you to see the adorable dalmatian print monogram on the back of this fire engine red hoodie!

Sorry for the odd angle!

i make bows -- and they're for sale

After beginning by making hairbows for my daughter I decided to branch out into selling bows as well. Below are a few samples of types of bows that I make. I am happy to make custom bows to order as well.

All bows are attached to 1 and 3/4 inch alligator clips and are partially lined with ribbon which helps the bows stay in your little girl's hair. All ends are sealed to prevent fraying.

Please contact me at teamwylie (at) gmail (dot) com to place an order! Shipping is usually $1.00 per order.

Green and Rainbow are the Classic Bow- $2.50 each
Lavender is the Looped Bow style- $2.50 each

Black Polka Dot and Aqua and Pink Strip are other examples of the Classic Bow.
Hot Pink Ladybug Bow- $3.50

Dragonfly/Butterlfy Bow- $3.50

Flat Ribbon Clip- $2.00

Custom Creative Bow/Clip- price varies
If you have a particular dress or outfit you wish to match and want something truly unique I would be happy to create something. This clip is made of dusty pink leather and an off-white rosette.

Please contact me at teamwylie (at) gmail (dot) com to place an order!

6.16.2009

favorite blogs: The Green Baby Guide

I think I'm somewhat teal... not quite green yet but not blue either... I'm sort of a green wannabe...

The Green Baby Guide has been a great inspiration to me in this quest of greening.

Joy and Rebecca regularly post about relevant and doable ideas related to having a baby and living more environmentally friendly. I think I went back and read every post in their archives before Baby Girl was born and learned so much. They are super down-to-earth and really focus on living simply and not just on green for green's sake.

Typically they host a blog carnival every Thursday called, Thrifty Green Thursday where readers share tips for saving money and living green but this carnival is on break for the summer.

I highly recommend that you take a peek at their fabulous blog!!

5.29.2009

kids don't need fancy toys

Shiny. Easy to hold. Make noise when you hit it... what is there not to love?!
If you need more proof:

video


*** Please note that if torn metal pie plates can have sharp edges! It took Baby Girl several weeks to damage this one enough that I felt like it needed to be thrown out.***

For more Frugal Friday tips check out Life as Mom!

5.28.2009

ribbons, barettes and bows... oh my!

Baby Girl finally has enough hair to put bows in it and I am quickly becoming one of those moms who puts a bow in her daughters hair all the time... I mean ALL the time... like occasionally even when she's in her PJs. Shhh... don't tell!

She's just so cute I can't stand it!

First I taught myself how to make the bows. After many attempts I've finally got the hang of it.

Then I started losing bows... multiple bows... gone... sad.

I needed a way to keep them all in one place. I took a cute scrapbooking tag, an extra bit of ribbon and some double sided tape. I added Baby Girl's intials with stickers and that was it!

It turned out cute, but more importantly, it's practical and hanging in her closet it's easy for the bows to make their way home.

*** On a side note.... I am selling baby hairbows for $2.50 each if you're interested.***

5.27.2009

baby "splat mat"

In our apartment our baby's high chair sits on carpet... not good! Since Baby Girl is now tackling finger foods this is really not good! I started searching online for a mat to put under her high chair to make clean-up easier.
$44

$26

$35
WHAT??! For a piece of plastic or oilcloth!! I was in shock.

While shopping one day my Mom ran across this vinyl tablecloth for $4.99.

It was cute, not the typical red and white check or floral patterns that you usually see.

It was cheap.

It was HUGE... I could cover the whole dining area floor if I wanted to with this thing.

Instead I cut it down to an appropriate size.

Then I hemmed it with a zigzag stitch all the way around.

Done... that was it! It works great! It isn't quite as heavy-duty as oilcloth would be... but I have so much table cloth left that whenever this mat wears out I can make another one very quickly and easily!
On a side note... I also made a bib to match! (Though it's way too big and probably won't really fit Baby Girl until she's 5... or 9... oh well!

For more Works for Me tips check out... We are THAT Family!

5.26.2009

black beans and rice

Yum! We love this recipe. It's great all by itself with cornbread or as a side to a Mexican feast with friends!

1 onion, chopped
1 T. oil
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can black beans
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 cup rice

In large saucepan saute onions in oil until soft. Drain tomatoes and beans reserving liquid! Add water to this liquid to equal 2 cups. Add this liquid and all other ingredients to pan. Bring to a boil and then let mixture simmer about 20 minutes or until rice is done. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.

We love topping our rice and beans with sour cream and/or grated cheese.

5.08.2009

over 250 pieces of fruit

What do you do with over 250 pieces of fruit?

Especially when you have two days to get rid of it before you leave town!

My husband works on a college campus. At the end of each semester parents can pay (big bucks) to send an "exam care pack" to their student. An outside company takes these orders, sends the boxes to the university and a student organization my husband works with is responsible for distributing them. Here's the rub... many students never come to pick up their box.

First of all this makes me sad for the parents who send the boxes.

Secondly this makes me sad because of the extravagant waste!

Thankfully much of the prepackaged candy, cookies, chips, etc. can be saved and given out to student workers and kids at camps this summer.

But the fruit... the fruit!!! It makes me cringe.

I willingly took on the task of doing something about it all. There were over 250 green and red apples and oranges. Some were already going bad. I had to act fast.... what to do?

1. Give it- this is obvious but harder than you might think. Because we live on a college campus and all the students are gone, we have no neighbors... I've been passing as much as I can off to the housekeeping staff. I've also called several friends who are swinging by on their way home from work to pick some up. And we made a few special deliveries earlier today.

2. Eat it- this is obvious too. We're having some folks over for lunch between graduation ceremonies tomorrow... guess what we'll be serving?

3. Juice it- I'm planning to take a lot of the oranges home to my parents' house this weekend and will borrow their juicer.

4. Puree it- Applesauce anyone? Baby Girl LOVES applesauce... this might be enough to make her never want to see the stuff again! I'll be making this at my parents' since they have an apple corer/peeler/slicer thing and I am not about to tackle this by hand!

5. Freeze it- I never knew you could freeze apples! I'm going to slice and freeze most of the green apples to use in pies, for baked apples, apple cake, etc. down the road. I'm looking forward to giving some of these goodies away as well when I'll be in town to bake.

While I hate that the students didn't get these boxes I'm very thankful this fruit isn't going to be left to rot and then chunked in a dumpster!

We may not all have 250 pieces of fruit dumped in our laps, but we can all do our part to not let food go to waste!

For other frugal tips check out Frugal Fridays over at Life as Mom!

5.06.2009

WFMW- baby scrapbook

My aunt, a talented and creative scrapbooker made this book for us before Baby Girl was born. Knowing that I'm not altogether a "traditional" person, she created a scrapbook for us in non-traditional colors with a double-page spread for each month of the first year of our Baby-to-be's life.

It has turned out to be one of my favorite things ever!

Each double page spread has a decorated page on the left (minimal decorations) and the right side has a calendar for that particular month.

All I have to do is jot little notes on the calendar about things that happen and throw a few favorite pictures from the month on the facing page and we have a beautiful album of Baby Girl's first year!
This book is so liberating for me as I can easily find time to jot down little things that happen each day. I include momentous milestones, like her first tooth, as well as everyday happenings (i.e. we played outside today in the beautiful weather, or took a walk to visit Daddy at work).

Also, I've realized that as long as I keep up with writing in the calendar, the pictures can fall into place later (I'm really behind on printing my pictures!).

This method of keeping track of Baby Girl's first year definitely works for me! It would make a great gift to an expecting mom, or you could make one up for yourself before baby is born.

For other works for me tips check out We are THAT Family.

5.04.2009

favorite blogs: Southern Savers

Southern Savers is THE blog for great grocery and pharmacy deals if you live in the south. Which we do.

Jenny does an amazing job listing deals at local stores and matching coupons. I appreciate this blog so much because I don't waste my time skimming posts to find deals relevant to me. Typically, all of her posts (except for a few grocery stores we don't have nearby) are helpful.

There is also a link to the 2009 Coupon Inserts Schedule, as well as previews of coupons for each week. This is very helpful to me as someone who just buys the Sunday paper for the coupons!
The website is super organized, easy to follow and easy to use. I highly recommend!

monday menu

We're on a mission to really use the food in our freezer and pantry instead of just continually stocking and still just eating what we want.... yes, we're cheats like that. So... here's the plan:

Monday- BBQ sandwiches (BBQ and buns from freezer), au gratin potatoes (mix from the Sav Mor sale)

Tuesday- Stir fry with london broil meat (from freezer) over rice

Wednesday- Black beans and rice and homemade bread (I think I have more cans of black beans than I will ever be able to cook in my pantry!)

Thursday- Refrigerator Magic

Friday- Our to dinner to celebrate my little sister's college graduation!

Saturday and Sunday- Out of town

Check out Organizing Junkie for more meal plans that are way more helpful than this and actually include recipes... maybe I'll get to that one of these days!

5.01.2009

freezing chicken stock

I recently learned about the merits of chicken stock. And have made batches twice in the last few months. I love the idea of not wasting the chicken carcass and boiling out all the nutrients possible!

Here's what I do:

- boil the chicken then take it out of the pot and take the meat off the bone

- put the bones back in the pot

- add a whole onion, quartered, skin and all

- add carrots and celery (I save the ends of these in the freezer until I make stock that way I am not wasting a perfectly good carrot)

- add some whole peppercorns

- add a little salt (I know, I know... not super healthy but I love it)

- add some bay leaves

Then just let it all boil... and boil and boil.

Drain well using a wire mesh strainer.

Pour the stock into pitchers and put in the fridge overnight.

Next day, skim the fat off the top.

Then... here's the best part... I pour approximately 1 cup of stock into plastic cups on a cookie sheet. Then I put the cookie sheet in the freezer. Once frozen I pop out the stock and store the chunks in freezer bags.

It's so helpful to not have to use a freezer bag for every cup of stock I want to freeze and it's very easy to just take out however many "cups" I need for a recipe.
Check out Life as Mom for more Frugal Friday tips!!

4.29.2009

favorite blogs: Having Fun at Home

This is, hands down my favorite blog of all: Having Fun at Home. The entire site is dedicated to simple, inexpensive and creative ways to have fun and help kids learn.

Because Katey, the writer, has a toddler, most of the ideas are for this age. This is perfect for me since Baby Girl is fast approaching toddlerdom! I have saved almost all of her ideas to use in the not to distant future.

I really appreciate that the ideas are so simple and can usually be done with things you already have around the house. Katey also does a great job of posting regularly (I have no idea how she keeps coming up with this stuff!)

Here are a few ideas I can't wait to try:
Play Soups
Magnetic Flower Arranging
Magnet Letter Game
Pickle Jar Lanterns (this isn't a toddler thing but I love it!)

I highly recommend browsing her site for more fun ideas.

4.24.2009

love this

"As the psalmist said, joy cometh in the morning (Ps. 30:5, KJV), but the very anticipation invites it into our night." (Stepping Up, Beth Moore)

Not feeling the joy lately? It's coming in the morning, long for it!

4.23.2009

book review: Elijah of Buxton

My 2009 Book List gets a BIG thumbs down. Not that the books aren't good... it's just that I haven't read them!

I got half way through The Reason for God and skimmed Total Money Makeover. Does that count? I'm thinking not.

Recently though, a friend (who teaches Early Childhood Ed/Reading) lent me Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis which has won both the Newberry Medal and the Coretta Scott King Award. It's technically considered young adult fiction... a favorite genre of mine, and this book did not disappoint!

Elijah is the twelve year old, born-free, son of former slaves. His family lives in the very real community of Buxton in Southern Ontario, Canada, a town specifically for escaped and freed slaves. The book follows Elijah in his day to day life, the mishaps he gets into with his friend Cooter, time at school, and interactions with others in Buxton. Though Elijah is labeled a "fra-gile" boy, at the end of the story he realizes that love and hope and determination can overcome his fear as he helps a family of slaves who had escaped but were recaptured.

The more I think on this book the more I like it.

I really enjoyed it while I was reading, as I was laughing one minute and in tears the next. But the overarching lessons and history that this book imparts are much further reaching.

- The community of Buxton is built around the townspeople helping one another. Elijah truly is depicted with a spirit of generosity and helpfulness.

- Historically the book is very real. Curtis does not shy away from harshness or horror of slavery, but at the same time, as this is a young adult book, he handles to topic in a manner suitable for young readers

- Self-sacrifice is a theme I see throughout. Mr. Leroy's sacrifice for his family, Elijah's sacrifice to try to help the recaptured slave family, the town's sacrifice of personal wealth for the good and betterment of everyone else, etc.

I highly recommend this book to young readers and older readers alike. This would be a great book for a parent and child to read together and discuss.

4.22.2009

WFMW- shopping list organization

It's not beautiful... I'll give you that, but this system of organizing my shopping list works for me!

All I've done here is cut off the front cover of an old three ring binder, the kind that has the clear plastic pocket on the front.

On the clear plastic side I keep my price list (which I keep track of on an excel document with really small type).

I use a large pad with sticky on the top on the other side to keep my regular grocery list (for example, here I was using some prescription pad I got free somewhere).

Any stores I am using coupons at (CVS, KMart, Rite Aid, etc.) but am not buying a TON of stuff at I write the list on a small post-it note, paperclip the coupons together and stick them down in the pocket.

I usually put my small calculator and a pen in the front pocket as well.

I love having everything in one place and it's nice to have a firm surface to make additional notes on or to cross things out on my list I as I put them in the buggy... I can't shop without crossing things off... it just doesn't work.

It's not glamorous by any stretch of the imagination, but this system works for me. Check out We are THAT Family for other WFMW tips!

4.21.2009

favorite blogs: the series


In the next few weeks I'm planning to start a series highlighting my favorite blogs.

This is mainly because I have people ask me often what I read and it's helpful to say, "check out my blog I've highlighted my favorites."

Look for this series starting soon!

cloth diaper update: prefolds

A while back I wrote about my experience with cloth diapers.
I then updated with my thoughts on how solid poo affected my feelings about cloth diapers.

In the past few months I decided to purchas some prefolds and covers to inexpensively increase our stash in the hopes of not using our Bum Genius diapers as much in order to prolong their lives.

I've learned that I LOVE PREFOLDS!

Who would have ever thought it?!

When we first decided to cloth diaper and I began researching all my options I was way too hesitant to try prefolds. They just seemed too complicated to me. But in some ways I have decided they are actually simpler:

- Prefolds are less bulky when traveling. Because they are flat and you don't have to have a ton of covers they fold up very nicely.

- Less laundry. Because covers don't have to be washed after every use this really cuts down on the amount of laundry.

- Prefolds dry more quickly. I hang the covers and they dry in no time on the line the prefolds themselves fluff up quickly in the dryer.

- No leaks! So far we have not had a single leak while using prefolds.

We have tried several different versions of diapers and covers and our preference at this time is:
- Chinese prefolds for day
- Kissaluvs contours for night
- Snappis to fasten
- Thirsties covers (these are by FAR my favorite)
For our next child I'll continue to add prefolds to our stash.
I only wish I knew "then" what I know now!

4.20.2009

monday menu

We're back safe and sound from a nice weekend away (albeit with allergies driving us CRAZY).

Here's the plan for this week:

Monday- hamburger helper, green peas, homemade bread (I cannot believe I am posting on the internet that I'm making hamburger helper for dinner... it was practically free with coupons awhile back)

Tuesday- tuna patties and butter/garlic green beans

Wednesday- spaghetti and marinara with shrimp, green beans and homemade italian bread with dipping sauce

Thursday- black beans and rice with corn muffins (this may change if my mom's in town as I'm not sure if she will like black beans and rice... just let me know mom!)

Friday- homemade pizza

Saturday- Refrigerator Magic or Split Pea Soup and muffins (I have been dying to try this soup so I may make it anyway and then just have lots of leftovers at the beginning of the next week)

Sunday- potluck lunch at church- I'll be taking cupcakes and possibly black beans and rice if we don't eat that on Thursday... I just found out about the potluck today so no plans are totally set yet

4.19.2009

amazing tuna patties

  • My aunt gave me this recipe and it has become a staple in our meal planning. Jon absolutely loves it... and so do I! Most of the ingredients are things you probably already have on hand.

  • 1 pkg. (6 oz.) chicken flavored stuffing mix
  • 2 can tuna, drained and flaked
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar (I usually cut this back a tad)
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/3 cup mayo
  • 2 Tbls. sweet relish
  • 3/4 cup water

Mix all. Cover and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes. Using about 1/3 cup of mixture make into patties. Fry on a skillet over medium heat (spray pan with cooking spray! as they easily stick). Cook about 3 minutes on each side. Serve immediately.

A few thoughts:

- You can also use chicken for this recipe (my mom made this and used one chicken breast to make the recipe)

- This mix up great in a stand mixer and that is much less messy. Otherwise it is helpful to mix with your hands.

- Since the mix has to sit in the fridge for at least 10 minutes this means you can easily mix all this up early in the day when it is convenient and let it set in the fridge until time to cook them up at dinner. Very handy.

- All of these ingredients can be found at Aldi (that makes it an A+ recipe in my book!)

4.14.2009

WFMW- "homemade" salsa

In my mind it is impossible to beat homemade salsa... but if the tomatoes aren't super ripe it's no good, so for us it's usually not an option except in the summer. It's also somewhat of an ordeal to dice all the ingredients. This recipe is a great compromise between fresh homemade salsa and store-bought.

Our friends the Snipes brought this to our Mexican-style Easter lunch on Sunday and it was a huge hit. They were gracious enough to leave us a bowl of the leftovers... but I forgot to snap a picture until after it was all gone! It's just that good.

1 can Rotel
1 can italian style diced tomatoes
finely diced onion (to taste)
minced garlic (to taste)
salt (recommend going light on the salt and tasting before adding too much)

That's it. Seriously... that's all there is to it!

Since I'm a self-proclaimed Aldi-aholic and I don't believe they carry the italian style diced tomatoes I will probably try to make this with regular diced tomatoes and add some basil, oregano, italian seasoning, etc. It's at least worth a try.

4.13.2009

monday menu

This is somewhat of a short week for us as we'll be heading out of town on Thursday.

Monday- leftover chicken enchiladas from Easter lunch (yes we had Mexican food for Easter)

Tuesday- $2 burritos from Moe's ***

Wednesday- pancakes and bacon

Thursday through Sunday we'll be out of town- we're taking White Chicken Chili, Herb Sticks and Cinnamon Rolls to contribute for the weekend.

*** Yes folks... Moe's has $2 burritos one Tuesday each month! Even the "Homewrecker"... the most massive burrito ever... is only two bucks. It comes with chips and salsa. Check with your local store to see if they offer a deal like this!!! It makes a quick weeknight dinner or a cheap date night!***

4.10.2009

free Easter basket

Yes I know the picture is sideways... anyone have ideas on how to fix this?!?!

It's possible to go all out for Easter baskets. I remember a friend in high school who got a new pair of (name brand) jeans for Easter one year. I was jealous. Now I'm just confused... I mean seriously... even if you roll them up real tight jeans can't even fit in an Easter basket!

Since Easter is most definitely not about the basket or the candy or the bunny we wanted to make sure that was not our focus so we're keeping the gifts simple... and in that we are also keeping it free.

The basket was mine when I was little. The "grass" is cut up tissue paper (I'm thinking she'll find this part most intriguing). As participants over at Paperback Swap I found two new to us board books (Runaway Bunny and Good Dog, Carl). Then I used some of a leftover giftcard at Belk to buy a pack of ruffly socks (which I already have determined are probably going to be exchanged for a bigger size).
Most importantly we're looking forward to talking to Baby Girl (even though she won't have a clue at this point what we're saying) about the real gift of Easter, the risen Christ!

Easter lunch

Since we saw my family last weekend and will see Jon's next we are opting for Easter at home this year which I must say I'm looking forward to.

For a while I debated cooking a huge, traditional Easter lunch... ham and all. Then I looked at the food budget and quickly changed gears. Here are our plans for a simple Easter lunch.

We're having three other couples over after church to celebrate with us. We're eating.... drumroll please... enchiladas. Yes folks, we're having a Mexican themed Easter lunch. I'll be cooking two kinds, chicken and bean. One couple is bringing a salad, another an appetizer and another dessert. I'll probably cook up some rice and beans as an extra side.

I borrowed a table cloth and napkins in a pretty springy blue last weekend and for a centerpiece will use my hurricane filled with hand-sewn eggs my Mom has made for me over the years.

It's simple, it's frugal, I'm using a lot of what I have on hand and am not being shy to ask guests to bring a dish to share.

More importantly by not messing with the fuss of a huge meal we can spend the day focusing on what really matters, celebrating the risen Christ!

Check back later to see the free Easter basket I am creating for my daughter and head over to Life as Mom for more Frugal Friday tips!

4.08.2009

WFMW- best rolls EVER

Sure they have an "official" name... but for our purposes they are... the best rolls EVER (don't forget to capitalize).

This recipe comes from a long time family friend (and I'm wondering why I just found out about it this weekend!!).

My favorite part is that the dough is refrigerated and you can pinch off just what you need to use each night. What a great way to have hot bread with dinner that I didn't have to actually make that day. Okay... maybe my favorite part is how yummy they are too.

Have I talked these up too much. Just try them for yourself. (Sorry there are no pictures of the finished product... they were eaten... by someone).

2 (1/4 oz) envelopes active dry yeast (or 2 Tbls.)
1 c. warm water
1 c. shortening (I didn't say they were good for you... they just taste good!)
1 c. sugar (see note above)
1 tsp. salt
1 c. boiling water
2 eggs
6 c. AP flour

Combine yeast and warm water in 2 c. liquid measuring cup; let stand 5 minutes.

Place shortening, sugar and salt in mixing bowl. Add boiling water; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Add eggs and yeast mixture, beating at low speed until blended; gradually beat in flour. Cover and chill 8 hours.

Shape into 1 inch balls; place 3 balls in each greased muffin cup. (I used a little flour on the counter and my hands while doing this).

Cover and let rise in warm place, free from drafts, 45 minutes or until doubled in size. (I let mine rise several hours)

Bake at 350 for 12 minutes or until lightly browned (don't let them get too brown and crispy! They should be very soft.)

Eat. Preferrably with butter... lots of butter.
Check out We are THAT Family for more Works for Me Wednesday tips!!

4.03.2009

do it yourself

My frugal lesson for the week is DIY (Do It Yourself!). We recently discovered that our car's left rear brake light AND turn signal were out. Jon was busy with work and classes all week and wasn't going to have a good chance to look into it and I really wanted to relieve him of the burden to do so.... so I tackled the car issue myself!

At first thought I reasoned... it must be a short... if it's BOTH lights they wouldn't have both burned out at once, right? I called our mechanic (who is exceptional and very honest) who recommended trying to replace the bulb first on my own before bringing it in to the shop. It would be easier and cheaper they said...

Off to the autoparts store. I walked in... baby on hip... and explained my problem. They looked up what kind of bulb our car required in the computer... and the grand total was $6.09! News to me that the turn signal and the brake light are the same bulb! I also got them to show me which screws to undo to get to the old bulb.

Later that day Baby Girl and I trekked out to the car (we live on a college campus and don't have parking close by). I sat her on a blanket in the back so she could watch me while I worked.

I must say... it was rather anticlimatic. Within a few mintues it was fixed! Just like that!
Jon was thrilled and I have so much more confidence now to try fixing things on my own that I previously may not have tackled.
This post is in conjunction with Frugal Friday over at Life as Mom. Check out Jessica's blog for more Frugal tips and to share tips of your own!

4.02.2009

happenstance recycling

Here's my Thrifty Green Thursday tip for the week. Check out Green Baby Guide for more tips!
At first glance "happenstance" recycling might not seem very green... we should be intentional about recycling! We do that too... don't fret... but we also recycle by chance.
We don't buy canned sodas in our house. Ever. We drink them occasionally when we're out but we don't buy them.
We have realized however that lots of other people buy them and leave their cans random places. Such as the ground, the trash, in bushes, etc.
So whenever we're out we just keep our eyes open. We pick up a can here and a can there and bring them home, crush them and put them in a bin. It takes a long time to fill up the bin, but we're not in any rush.
Once the bin is full we take it to our local recycling center where it's contents usually net us around 4 bucks... that's the thrifty part. (So after one and a half bins it pays for one meal at our local Japanese express place.)
The tortoise or the hare? We're definitely the tortoise but we're doing our part.

3.14.2009

take a look

While I'm taking a brief blogging hiatus... which should really start within the next hour or so after Jon gets off work... feel free to browse this website, Lindsay Lane.

A friend of mine from college has her own line of stationary, invitations, announcements, etc. They are super original and she has a great selection!

Enjoy!

3.13.2009

hitting the trail

I've invented the best trail mix ever! Before I go tooting my own horn too much... I must admit it was completely an accident.

We recently did Sav Mor where I stocked up on tons of dark chocolate chips and craisins. Then Jon has ended up with lots of odd packages of snack foods through his work. I felt like some trail mix so I used what we had:

Craisins
Dark chocolate chips
Pretzels
Peanuts
Sunflower seeds

Addictive! I'm eating some right now actually.

This new recipe is especially timely as we're hitting the trail for vacation tomorrow. Don't expect too many posts this week!

3.11.2009

wfmw- 10 minutes.... or 15

I had heardof this before but never tried it. Today I did and it is amazing... it WORKS!!

Recently I've taken up smocking, my first project is Baby Girl's Easter dress. And I really wanted to smock this morning... but there were lots of little things that needed to be done.

So I set my kitchen timer for 10 minutes and got quickly to work. It is amazing what you can do in 10 minutes when you set your mind to it!

1. Fed my bread starter.

2. Washed a few dishes.

3. Wiped out the sink.

4. Folded a load of laundry.

THEN.... I was so motivated by what I got done I set the timer for another 5 minutes and I...

5. Put away the folded laundry.

6. Stuck a few things in the suitcases for our upcoming trip.

7. Emptied the bathroom trash.

8. Went to the bathroom (sorry if tmi)

9. Dried the dishes... well... I had two things left when the timer went off... so it took more like 5 minutes and 30 seconds.

10. While I was running back and forth doing all this I did some general pick up of a few things that were lying around.

WOW! I am so impressed with myself! Now I can happily sit down and smock without feeling guilty for leaving things undone around the house.

I think I could become quite competitive with myself.

What works for you? Check out Works for Me Wednesday at We Are THAT Family for more great tips and to post your own ideas!

3.06.2009

just ask

Here's my latest and greatest frugal knowledge to pass on.

Ask.... just ask.

I will give you two scenarios to illustrate.

#1- I was buying a bag of coffee beans at Dunkin Donuts. As the cashier rang up the bag I jokingly said, "Hey, want to a throw a free donut in with that?" She said, "Sure what kind do you want." Free donut... so yummy!

#2- Jon threw away the charger for his bluetooth... yes I did say threw away. He asked me to call about getting a new one. When the operator asked what happened to the charger and I told him it had been thrown away, he didn't even hesitate, "One moment and I'll get your address to send you a new one." This sounded like a scam to me, "How much is that going to cost?" I queried. "It's free of charge, this time only." (in other words don't throw away useful electronic pieces in the future) Free charger... Jon is so happy!

I'm not saying we should try to mooch off of people all the time and beg for free stuff, but sometimes just asking can help you save.
For more Frugal Friday tips head over to Biblical Womanhood.

2.28.2009

wfmw- pretty packages

This is for the Greatest Tip Edition of Works for Me Wednesdays, hosted by We Are THAT Family.

I don't know that this is my greatest tip ever... but my greatest tips are things like....

- Don't spend what you don't have.

- Make your own chicken stock.

- Homemade laundry detergent.

These are the sort of things that everyone does. I'm hoping while this isn't the greatest, it's at least different and sort of great.

I always struggle when sending a gift in the mail.

Do I wrap in cute paper and then wrap in brown paper?

That seems like so much extra packaging and sort of blah...

Here's my new thing.

I took a large leftover gift bag from when Baby Girl was born (we have oodles of cute bags) and I cut off the bottom and the top edge with the handles. This left me with a large rectangular piece of bag. I folded the bag in half and used a zigzag stitch on my machine to sew up three sides, including the end that was folded in half.

I addressed the envelope while flat, put the gifts inside and then taped up the other end. If it wasn't too full I probably would have tried to sew the 4th side just to make it look cuter, but it worked out just fine.

To me this is a festive way to reuse old gift bags and send something fun in the mail!