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When baking, follow directions. When cooking, go by your own taste. ~Laiko Bahrs









Monday, November 28, 2011

December Challenge

December Challenge
 
   For the month of December I am challenging myself! What?! Yea, I know, challenging myself during a holiday month! But, as I went out to my garage and peeked into my freezer, I noticed something: I have meats that I have forgotten about. I had packs of chicken that I had purchased while they were on sale, sausage rolls, and much more. So, for the month of December, I have challenged myself not to purchase meats, and to use what I have in my freezer. Can it be done? Yes it can, I just have to plan ahead. I did leave the exception of Christmas Dinner. Since my mother-in-law moved 2 hours away, we are doing my husbands side of the family on Christmas Eve, at our house, since we live in the middle of his mom and his sister. I will deligate on food items to bring by other family members but I will be doing the majority of the food. So I will be purchasing a small turkey and a ham.

    During this month I will also be adding in No Meat Mondays! That will save on the use of meats! No only will we be using less meat but we will be heating a little healthier as well. Its always a good idea to implement 1 or 2 meatless meals a week. As for me, I could go 3 or 4 meatless meals a week and so could my kids but I have a husband who likes his proteins, rather its in chicken, beef, or pork form, he likes his protein.

     Another pro to using what I have in my freezer is that I save on my grocery bill! That is a major plus factor considering it is December and we all know what holiday comes in December : CHRISTMAS!!! That means I can spend more on presents this year! (Hopefully) My budget that I am going to be sticking to each week is $75. (With the exception of Christmas Week and I am hoping to spend no more than $125 that week) So, that means I will be spending no more than $350 on groceries for the month of December. That means that I will have to be more resourceful with my funds since there are Christmas parties going on just about every week.

      I will be posting my menu plan for each week and whats I spent on groceries for that week as well! I hope that you join in the challenge with me or set one up for yourself!


Menu Plan for the week of November 28th-December 4th

Monday: Homemade Chili- Perfect for a COLD RAINY/SNOWY Night! 
Tuesday: BBQ Pork Shoulder Baked Potatoes- Freezer Meal
Wednesday: Leftover Chili and Hot dogs (church night)
Thursday: Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Apples (recipe will be posted on that day), Green Beans, Baked Potatoes
Friday: Homemade Pizza
Saturday: Chuck E. Cheese (Our son's birthday party)
Sunday: Soup and Sandwhiches

I have a great menu plan set up for this week! I also have a busy week ahead and really only have to cook one full meal on Thursday. I am ready planning the next weeks menu but will post it later on, incase I have some changes.

Don't forget to link up!






~Remember to put God first, and everything else will follow~

Wednesday, November 16, 2011




Yummy!!! I recieved my Bzzagent kit in the mail for these cookies! They were so delish!! I am one who wants to make homemade cookies, and I have some really good recipes. But, I dont always have the time. These are excellent to have on  hand to curb that sweet tooth craving! They are crunchy yet soft and enjoyable! I love them and will purchase them!!

~Remember to put God first, and everything else will follow~

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Michelle's Chocolata Protein Bars

3 cups Quick cook oats
1 cup Cocoa powder
2 scoops protein powder
1 cup each peanuts, dried cranberries, chocolate chips (you can sub any of these for your favorite)
1 14 oz can sweetened Condensed Milk (fat free)
1 cup applesauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix all ingredients together well. Spray a 9x9 casserole dish and line with parchment paper and spray again. Pour mixture into dish and bake for 25-30 minutes. Let cool complelety and cut into 10-12 bars!

Enjoy!


~Remember to put God first, and everything else will follow~

Rooster Canvas Project

This past weekend was my mamaw's birthday! I wanted to make her something instead of buying her a gift. I wanted it to mean more to her and I am sure what I made will. She is a very crafty person herself, even though she will tell you she is not. What I decided to do was to take a canvas and paint it black. My original plan was to stencil "Mamaw's Kitchen" and have several roosters stenciled on it as well. The stencils I bought, I did not like at ALL. Scratch using those, just free hand. I did use the Rooster stencil and touched it up. I actually like the way this turned out. Here is the video on how I made it! Hope you enjoy!



~Remember to put God first, and everything else will follow~

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I have started adding videos on Youtube! Check out this one about my recent CVS trip!
http://youtu.be/wA8bnzTyzUA

Enjoy!


~Remember to put God first, and everything else will follow~

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Pantry Challenge Week 2

I am a little late getting this in this week! I have been very busy at my daughters school. I am the PTA President and we are in the middle of a fundraiser! 
I went to the grocery store and spent a total of $93.13. Not too bad I don't think for one weeks worth of groceries. My planned budget for the month is to spend no more than $300. So far I have $206 left for groceries this month...and its only the 7th!!
I can do this! I know I can!! I have a good menu plan laid out! I made some homemade protein bars the other night and I add those to my hubbies lunch. He loves them!! I have been making homemade bread just about every night this week. We use this for lunches also! The kids and hubby love sandwiches made from fresh bread! It is nice to wake up in the mornings to the smell of fresh bread wafting through the house!
Here is what my menu plan looks like this week:
Thursday: Chinese Chicken, rice and tomatoes (for me), Potato casserole (for everyone else), Green beans and a side salad.
Friday: Chicken and Rice Casserole, side salad
Saturday: Homemade Pizza
Sunday: Homemade Hoagie Melts, chips and salads

I have also planned out the menu for next week that goes something like this:
Monday: Southwestern Goulash (new recipe), Rolls and salad
Tuesday: Leftovers, we have a PTA meeting
Wednesday: Baked Chicken, Broccoli & Cheese Sauce, Mashed Tators
Thursday: Stuffed Twice Baked Potatoes made with Wednesday night leftovers, Salad
Friday: Homemade Pizza
Saturday and Sunday are not planned yet! I have 90% of the ingredients needed for these dinners.
I plan on shopping tomorrow if I get a chance, if not it will be Friday!
We are running low on the necessities like milk, cheese, cereal and fruit!

I hope you are planning on doing a Pantry Challenge yourself!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Chocolate Protein Bars


Chocolate Protein Bars

3 cups Oats (I use quick cooking)
1/2 cup Hershey Cocoa powder
2 scoops Protein Powder
1 cup Condensed Milk
Pinch Salt
1 cup Dried Cranberries
1 Cup Chocolate Chips
1 cup Applesauce

Mix all ingredients together. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 9x9 baking pan and line with parchment paper and spray again. Pour mixture into baking dish and press into corners and pat down. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle a handful of chocolate chips and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
Let cool completely and cut into bars!

I came up with this recipe from another recipe posted on YouTube by http://www.youtube.com/user/threemanycooks
I adjusted the recipe to the tasting of my hubby!

I hope you try these out!

Whats your favorite granola/protein bar recipe?


~Remember to put God first, and everything else will follow~

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Pantry Challenge September!

Ok People!!! Its that time of year again! I am doing my very own Pantry Challenge! I did one several months ago for a couple of weeks and enjoyed it! I look at my pantry and I see so many items that need to be used up. I also have a freezer full of foods. Now, I might have to purchase some meats in bulk because I am getting a little low, and thats ok! I am going ot set a budget and stick to it for the month! I will have to purchase lunch items, like lunch meat, cheese, chips, canned peaches for lil man, and yogurt. I will also purchase fresh fruits and milk, maybe some potatoes or here and there items but I am mainly going to focus of foods that I have already.


I normally spend somewhere between $650-$700 a  month for a family of 4. My challenge is only spend $60-$75 a week. So, around $240-$300 a month on groceries..... Thats a whopping $400 savings this month! I know I can do it!! Are you going to go on board again?


First, you have to look at what you have in your pantry. I have several boxes of potato casseroles that I purchased with coupons for nearly pennies. I need to use them up soon! I also have some cans of enchilada sauces and some pkgs of tortillas that need to be used! Get a sheet of paper and on one side make a list of pantry items and on the other make a list of fridge and freezer items. This will give you a better idea as to what you have on hand already and what you need actually need to purchase.


Second, write out a menu plan for the week or 2 weeks. I do this for 2 weeks at a time. That way I am better prepared when I do shopping. I know that if the items is on sale this week, it might not be the next so I will go ahead a purchase it.

and Last, STICK TO YOUR SHOPPING LIST!!! I usually go to the grocery store when I have plenty of time to look and shop around and I always purchase more than we need. I will see a new item and think, "Oh I can make this", even when its not on my menu plan. Now, I go in when I have just enough time to get what I need and get out. If I see something I want to try, I make a note of it, come home and add it to my menu plan for the next time.

I will be adding our menu plans and pictures!! I am still working on videos!

I hope you take on this challenge with me!


~Remember to put God first, and everything else will follow~

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

No-Sew Blanket

I decided to make my nephew and NY Yankee blanket for his birthday since he is such a big fan. I wanted to make him something that he would keep and could hand down to his kids one day, he is only 10! Here is what you need:

4 yards of your favorite fleece material
rotary cutter and mat
or scissors
pins



Lay material back to back on a flat surface. Place a set of pins along all sides of blanket. Trim 1/2 in off each side.
Next, cut a 4x4 section from each corner. This will allow you to tie the blankets together and not have a kink in the fabric.
Then, along each edge, cut 4 in up and 2 in apart. Once you have one side done, go back and tie strips together into knots. Do not tie too tight or your fabric will look kinked, but tie tight enough it wont come undone.

This is a very easy blanket to make and I hope to make more for Christmas presents this year!



~Remember to put God first, and everything else will follow~

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"Fried" Cheese Grits? Yes Please!!

As I fixed cereal for Dillon this morning, I relized that I was starting to get hungry myself. I didn't want cereal, nor did I have any bacon, and I didn't want to eat just eggs... I looked in the fridge and seen that I had a container of leftover Cheese Grits. I had either read before on a blog or seen it on a cooking show, but I decided to try making "Fried" Cheese Grits!

Take any leftover grits and cut into squares. Warm a skillet on med heat and add enough Olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. When oil is heated, add grits...DO NOT TOUCH FOR ATLEAST % MIN. You may need to adjust your heat down, but by not touching them you will get a crispy cheese crust on the outside. After about 5 min or so, check to see if the crust is crispy to your liking. If so, flip and let cook another 3-4 minutes. Towards the end of the cooking time, add some shredded cheese.

This was my first time making them, and I WILL be making them again. They were so yummy!! There was a crispy outside but the inside was still fluffy!

I did not however think to take pictures of it. I wasn't planning on add this recipe to the blog, but after I ate the whole plate up, I decided it was too good not to share! Next time I will add pictures and may even make a video!

Hope you enjoy this recipe!!!



~Remember to put God first, and everything else will follow~

Monday, August 22, 2011

A little Bit Happy....

Wow!! Has time gone by or what? The kids have started school! Emma is in 1st grade and Dillon is in his last year of preschool! He will be entering Kindergarten next fall... My babies are growing up so fast! They both are learning so much and actually love school. I hope they keep that attitude all the way through. Emma comes home with homework, we sit down at the kitchen table and as she goes over her work, I marvel at all that she is learning!

Hubby was on vacation all last week. We took a staycation! We stayed home, but ate out and spent money like we were on vacation! But, it was all in good doing! WE renevated the kitchen, dinning room and laundry room! Tore up all the floors and laid new tile, painted, and replaced the french door in the dinning room. Doesnt seem like much but it took 8 long days and even longer nights to get it done! But, we are so glad that we did!! It looks so much better!!

Loving the finished product~
I still have to decor it but that will come!!

Hubby and I also sat down last and started writing out a budget. We need to get a couple of things paid off this year and the only way to do it is to stick to a budget! Luckily, I have a freezer full of meats and veggies, a pantry full of rice and potatoes! So, all I needed to do was purchased some lunch items and milk and some dairy. I spent $67.17 today at our local Kroger! Not too shabby for everything I got:

4 gallons of milk
2 pks nitrite and nitrate free hotdogs (Dillons favorite)
yogurt, all natural
salt, non-iodized
Gatorade
2 pkgs butter (the heathly kind)
2 pkgs bottled water
2 heads of lettuce
1 pkg shredded cheese
3 pkgs slice cheese (I usually get deli sliced but this was on sale this week)
2 pkgs lunch meat ( Same here on the deli sliced but this week was on sale)
1 pkg white cornmeal

I may have missed one or two more items...
We are waiting till the first of the month to set a budget on groceries.

I have been one busy lady here lately. I have done a weeks worth of construction, cooked and feed 100 people, I am PTA president at my daughters school and I am trying to sale my mother-in-laws house! 

In the coming days, I will post a blog about a no-sew blanket that I made my nephew for his birthday! It was super easy and he loved it!!!

I will also started adding videos to my blog and may even start a Youtube channel! Let me know your feed back on that!

Please comment on any ideas that you may have for blogs or videos!  





~Remember to put God first, and everything else will follow~

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Homemade Cleaner

Vinegar

Here is a tip for making your own homemade cleaner. I take a spray bottle and add 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water. I use it to clean windows, counters, bathrooms, the kitchen floor, table, and even use it to clean my smooth top stove. I even use it to clean the inside of the cars. I love using vinegar to clean out the tea pot and coffee maker as well! What are your uses for Vinegar?



~Remember to put God first, and everything else will follow~

Homemade Laundry Soap

Homemade Laundry Soap

For several months I had toiled with making my own laundry soap. I wasn't sure if it would really work. I was afraid that if would leave my laundry looking "dingy" and not smell clean! My mother-in-law starting making her own laundry soap and really liked it. I had looked up many recipes on YouTube.com  and found they were mostly the same. I talked it over with the hubby and he wasn't so keen on it. He thought it would be too much work so I left it at that. I knew I wanted to get away from all the harsh chemicals in laundry soap. Who really needs 20 plus ingredients in your laundry soap?? And, why should we have to pay bookoo's of money for all natural and organic?? I started buying Organic Laundry soap at Sam's Club because I could get it in bulk and pay less for it. The only problem was that our "local" Sam's club is about 45 minutes away! SO, I factored in the drive up there, time spent, and amount used and decided to give making my own detergent a try! I bought everything I needed and one day I put it all together! The recipe called for Ivory Soap but I instead used Irish Spring (my favorite bar soap)! I made a 5 gallon bucket of it for CHEAP!! I started to do laundry and really didn't notice a different in the store bought and homemade. I had fallen way behind on laundry and had it piled high in just about every room of the house. We were leaving for vacation in a week and I knew I needed to get all this laundry done. I used my homemade soap. It works awesome! I have been working on the 5 gallon bucket for the past 2 months and I still have about 1/4 of the bucket left!! I use a little more than the recipe called for per load because I have 2 kids who love to play in dirt! I also add about a 1/4 scoop of Oxy Clean to help boost the detergent for those tough stains! Only using a 1/4 scoop of the Oxy Clean, I am able to stretch that further...saving more money!! 

This is just one way that we are going green! We are not having to deal with all the "chemicals" in our laundry soap and we are saving money by making our own and making it in bulk! I also have a recipe for stretching your fabric softener and making homemade house cleaners! But, that's another blog! For now, here is the recipe for homemade laundry soap (my way)! 

Oh, and by the way, Hubby is on board with it now!!! 


Homemade Laundry Soap

3 1/2 gallons hot water
1 1/2 gallons boiling water
1/2 cup Borax
1 cup Washing Soda, NOT BAKING SODA
2 bars of soap ( I use Irish Spring, but you can also use Ivory)*see note below
5 gallon bucket

Grate 2 bars of soap. You can use a food processor or hand grater. Fill bucket with 3 1/2 gallons of  hot water. I usually have hubby take it into the bathroom and fill it in the tub with hot water. On the stove, add 1 1/2 gallons water to a large pot. Add grated soap and stir until melted. I use a whisk at the beginning and then at the end I use a slotted spoon to make sure its all melted. The soap will foam up, just turn your heat down and keep stirring. Once it is melted, Take the Borax and Washing Soda and add to bucket of water and stir till dissolved. Add in soap mixture and stir until completely combined. You may notice that this is not a really smooth mixture. It will start to "gel" up with is normal. Replace lid and let it sit over night. the next morning, remove lid and stir, it will be gel like. I use 1 cup per load. I always do extra large loads. If you are doing medium loads, use 1/2 to 2/3 cup. This soap doesn't suds up like store bought. That could be because it doesn't have all the Chemicals in it!! 

* I use 1 1/2 bars of Irish spring and 1/3 bar of Fels-Naphtha, which is a laundry bar soap that you can find in the laundry isle of any store. I don't care for the smell of Fels-Naphtha, that's why I use 1/3 bar. It helps with stains as well!!

I hope you enjoy!!

Next time I make a batch, I will video it and add it on here!

~Remember to put God first, and everything else will follow~

Friday, July 15, 2011

Really?

Wow! Another summer has come and gone for the kids this year. They will start back to school in 2 weeks....Where did the summer go???

Our Family vaction this year was to a Huge State Park. We stayed in a cabin on the lake and went fishing, swimming, hiking, fishing, relaxing, eating, and did I mention fishing??? We could fish right from the back porch! We Loved it!!! We hope to go back next year!


This is a picture from our back porch! It was so peacefull!! We enjoyed every minute we were there that week!! Some days I want to go back!! (OK Everyday I wish I could go back! )

We also took the kids bowling and to the movies!

Wish we had more time to do more fun things but guess they will have to be done on the weekend! Hope everyone had a great summer!!
~Remember to put God first, and everything else will follow~

Friday, May 27, 2011

Summer Break is upon us!!

Summer Break is finally here!!

We went to pick up Emma's last kindergarten report card this morning and of course she passed with flying colors!! She is reading on mid-1st grade level!! Dillon wants to go to kindergarten and even though he ill be 5 in December, we have to wait till the next school year.

I have not been on here in a while, we have really been busy! W

We planted our garden a few weekends ago. We have 47 tomato plants, jalepeno peppers, sweet banana peppers, assorted colored bell peppers, yellow straight neck squash, Zuchinni, green beans, raspberries, strawberries, sweet basil, corn, and red onions. Thats all I can think of right now. We are very excited to get the tomatoes in so I can start canning!

We also added 2 ducks and 11 chicks to our hen house for a total of 15 hens and 2 ducks!! I am so glad that all I have to do to get fresh eggs is walk out to the hen house and grab them!!

This past weekend we went camping with some dear friends of ours who will be moving to OK this summer. We are going to miss them alot. We went down to a huge national park about 2.5 hours away. We went hiking up to see the beautiful water fall and then hiked back down, we went swimming in the cascades at the bottom of a waterfall where our son Dillon slipped off a rock and landed on, of all things, a seashell, which got lodged in his foot. This is where the panic set in because the closes hospital that we knew of was 1 hour away and we thought he would need stitches. We got the shell out and the bleeding to stop and I doctored him up with my first aid kit and he was good to go except not being able to walk on it. Our last morning there we went fishing and my husband caught a bass, not sure if it was large or small mouth but non the less she caught a bass! It was our first time going to that park and we LOVED it!! We are even going back over summer vacation!! There is nothing like cooking bacon and eggs in a cast iron skillet over a fire!

As far as being frgual, I need to get back on track, especially with menu planning and so forth! I went grocery shopping yesterday and spent $140.00 for the week. I would like to get it back down to $100 a week. I am so thankful that I have a garden this year!!

I have joined Sams Club again and will be buying in bulk more often! I like to buy cereal bars and tortilla's in bulk!! They last alot longer and are much cheaper!!

I also Joined Weight Watchers last week! They will be closed next week for the holiday so I am anxious to see how much I lose when I got back!!

Getting healthy is a #1 prioity in this house!!


~Remember to put God first, and everything else will follow~

Monday, April 4, 2011

Garden Time!!

All this warm weather we are having is making want to plant our garden! We will be planting towards the end of April, to make sure we don't get any freezes. Last year we planted 27 tomato plants and harvested over 500 tomatoes! I canned and froze most of them! I also canned pickles (which were gone before summer was even over, they were too yummy!!) 

I used the water bath method last year. This year I am thinking about using a pressure cooker. All be known....I have a FEAR of pressure cookers. I have never used one. My mother and mother-in-law and both grandmothers have used them, but I have never used one. I am terrified of them. Not sure why, maybe because its the metal pot being under so mush pressure not to mention the heat it is containing and that at any moment it can literally blow its lid! But...I am determined to try it this year! It will, by no doubt, save me canning time! 

Here is what we are for sure having in the garden this year:
30 Tomato plants (all heirloom)
Green Beans
Corn (we are growing this for our chickens to eat)
Zucchini
Yellow Squash
Jalapeno
Bell Peppers (any color)
Banana Peppers
Cucumber


I have yet to try an herb garden but I am wanting to try these this year"

Basil
Parsley
Thyme
Oregano
Rosemary

 Last year we attempted to grow lettuce and in years past we have tried Okra, Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli and Cauliflower. Oh and not to mention the Green Beans have failed because of pesky Rabbits. But, this year, I purchased 2 ducks. Mallords to be exact. I have read up on them. As long as you get the plants past the very beginning stages of growing, and onto the producing stage, you can let your ducks roam in your garden and they will eat all the bugs off your plants without eating your harvest. We are fencing in the garden this year and are going to let the ducks roam. If they start to eat my harvest then it is back to the Chicken Coop for them. 

We have already began to fertilize the garden soil with chicken droppings. Hubby will go over the soil a couple of more rounds with the tiller and then we are set to plant! 

Every year we have success in growing something.... I think it might have something to do with the fact that every fall, when the harvest is over and gone, we have a bonfire in our garden, burning all that is left over from the stems and roots of the plants. No only does this purify the soil but it helps get rid of the leftover Tomato stems. 
I am looking forward to planting this year!! Just wish my back was as excited as my heart is! 

What are you going to be planting this year??

~Remember to put God first, and everything else will follow~

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Cleaning and a Recipe

I feel as though I have done Laundry ALL DAY!!! I actually had to give my dryer a rest today. I felt as though it was over working itself! 

With all this laundry going, I decided that I had had enough....We have too many clothes. I tend to Hoard clothing. Baby clothes, too big clothes, too small clothes, and worn out clothes. I took a step toward the right direction today. By my front door sits 4 black trash bags full of clothing waiting to go to Goodwill. I also have toys, home decor and other items waiting to go as well, and I am only half way though the house. WHEW...

Both of our children are on Spring Break for the next 2 weeks. I could look at this as being a good thing, having more time to accomplish things instead of having to stop and go get the kids from school or whatnot...Or you can look at it as me not having the extra time since the kids will be home. I decided to look at it like this....I love having my kids home from school. Yes, they do get "on my nerves" but they are my kids...that is what kids do when they are board...Today it was nearly 80 degrees and hardly a cloud in the sky. Both my kids enjoyed being outside all day while I worked inside doing laundry.  I went out occasionally with them and enjoyed being out there as well. 

As far as the rest of the week goes, there will be more spring cleaning...one room at a time!! 

This has nothing to do with my post but I wanted to share my perfected hamburger!

1lb lean ground beef
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 Tsp Worcestershire sause
1 tsp yellow mustard
2 Tsp ketchup
1 T Steak sauce

Mix gently and cook to your preference

When finished, spread mayo, mustard, and a little ketchup on a bun top and bottom. Add a few pickles, a slice of cheddar cheese. Place burger on bun and top with goat cheese and a few pepperoncinis. 

To me, this is the best burger!!!


What are your Spring Cleaning Days looking like??

What is your favorite way to prepare a hamburger??

Link up below! 


~Remember to put God first, and everything else will follow~

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Becoming Frugal

What does "Becoming Frugal" mean?

Well....This is what the dictionary defines it as:

Frugal:  [froo-guhl]
–adjective
1. economical in use or expenditure; prudently saving or sparing; not wasteful: a frugal manager.
2. entailing little expense; requiring few resources; meager; scanty: a frugal meal.


1.  thrifty, chary, provident, careful.
I agree with this definition but I would also like to add that it means, spending less and saving more. It means that you use the resources that you already have. Spending you money wisely!

My family is slowly but surely becoming frugal in our daily living. If you read in previous blogs, I have mentioned that we are spending less in our grocery bill department. I also tested out a recipe for homemade laminate floor cleaner. My mom uses this on her hard wood floors too. I used it on my kitchen floor and it seemed to do a good job. Next time I think I am going to mix a few drops of Lemon juice/oil in it to make it smell much better. 
We have chicken, so we get our own eggs. 

 I use coupons when I shop.

I make bread but I also by regular wheat bread at the bread store in town.
We grow a garden every year and I can and freezer veggies.

There are more but I want to also share with you the fact that we are going more GREEN too. WE make our own fertilizer for our garden. Since we have chicken, and their poo is rich it nitrogen, we mix a little bit into our garden. This is the first year we are doing so... I will let you know how it goes later on in the summer!

I try and combine all my errands in to one days worth since we live about 13 miles from town. We live 2 miles from the school our daughter attends kindergarten at and about 11 from the preschool our son attends. My husband works 45 miles from home so I try to control my driving around so we don't spend too much in gas each month. 

We are also buying our meats from Whole Foods. It has none of the antibiotics or fillers or harmful "things" that are bad for you. Yes, it is more pricey but if you learn to cook frugally, you can make it stretch! My parents and I are going to be going in together on purchasing a side of beef. We should be good on beef for at least 9 months! We know where the cow was raised and how, since it is going to be coming from a farm right down the road. I buy foods that are lower in sugar, sodium (just for health reasons), and artificial additives.

Our daughter and son take their lunches to school. Once a week, I let Emma buy her lunch, (on fridays they have hamburgers and fries, her treat for the week lol) I don't see how it takes over 60 ingredients to make a small pizza 6 in. in diameter but, that's what the pkg said when I looked at what the other kids were eating on pizza day. 

I purchase Sun & Earth Organic laundry soap at Whole Foods also. It took me a LONG time to switch over since I though all the organic soaps wouldn't work. But, to my surprise, its works just as well. The smell isn't as strong as Tide or Gain, but seriously, do you really need it to be that strong if you are going to be putting perfume or lotions on???? Its nice knowing that I am wearing clothing free from harmful chemicals.

These are just a few ways we are becoming frugal and GREEN. 

In the coming blogs I will be sharing my adventure in clearing out clutter and going even more GREEN!! 

What are you doing to save money, go green or becoming frugal?

~Remember to put God first, and everything else will follow~

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Expanding our Chicken Coop!

      Last week, Wednesday to be exact, I needed to make a run to TSC (Tractor Supply Company) to pick up some dog food. While I was there, I picked up 2 baby ducks. I have wanted some ducks for a while and they were just born the day before and we soooo cute! SO, we have 2 ducks and will hopefully get some duck eggs out of the deal! The next day, I went to see about some baby chicks at the local Farm supply place. I ended up purchasing 3 baby Rhode Island Red Chicks and reserving 2 Arhicanas. They will give me blue and green eggs. My parents decided that the next day (Friday), they wanted to get some chicks too. But, they live in a subdivision and can not have farm animals. Seeing that the prices of food is on the rise, we came to the decision that if they would help us expand our chicken coop, we would allow them to put their chicks in with ours. So, they purchased 6 chicks, 3 Rhode Island Reds and 3 Dominique. We are also checking prices with our local beef farmers for getting some freezer beef. 1/4 side of beef will feed my family for more than 6 months! All in the name of saving money!!!

     I went up to Whole Foods today and purchased some meats, cereal bars (since I can not seem time to make my own), cheeses and bulk oatmeal. I spent more than I wanted to but I got what I needed. After recovering from the sticker shock, I went to Wal-Mart....my most unfavorite place to be! I have been researching homemade cleaners and decided I wanted to give them a try. While I was at Whole Foods I picked up some Castile Soap. At Wally World, I picked up Borax and More Distilled While Vinegar along with some more spray bottles and a new mop! Once I try these cleaners out, I will post them and do a review! If you have any suggestions on cereal bars, or homemade cleaners, leave a comment!!
~Remember to put God first, and everything else will follow~

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Fajita Roll-ups

 Fajita Roll-ups

I found this recipe in the Family Circle mag. that I received in the mail the other day. I tweaked it a bit!

1 Flank steak or Flat Iron steak
2 T EVOO
1 Medium Onion, Chopped
1 Green Bell Pepper, Chopped
2 tsp Chili Powder
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 to 1 tsp Ground Cumin, depending on your taste of Cumin
1/2 tsp Dried Oregano
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 Beef Broth
1 14oz can Diced tomatoes, Don't drain
1/2 cup cooked brown or white rice
6 Tortilla wraps
Monterey Jack Cheese
Sour Cream


In a medium sauce pan, warm 1 T EVOO over medium to high heat. Place Steak in  hot pan and sear on both sides for 4-5 minutes each. Remove Steak and place on plate to catch liquid. In same sauce pan, heat remaining 1 T EVOO. Add Onion, Pepper, Cumin, Chili Powder, Black Pepper, Garlic Powder, and Salt. Saute for 5 minutes. Add in Oregano, and Beef Broth, cooking another 3 minutes. Make a hole in the mixture in the middle of the pan and place steak and all liquids on plate, back into pan. Pour tomatoes over steak. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer for 1 hour. After an hour, remove steak and turn heat up to medium and cook mixture for an additional 3-5 minutes to reduce some of the liquid. Let Steak rest for 3-5 minutes and then shred with 2 forks. Add back to pan and mix well. Remove pan from heat and stir in rice. Warm Tortillas in Microwave. Place 2 tsp Sour Cream in Tortilla, 1/3 cup of Fajita mixture, and a couple T of Monterey Jack Cheese. Roll up like a burrito and serve! You can also add a little salsa to top of burrito! I sprinkled some extra cheese on top and melted it in the microwave. I love this recipe!! I will be making it again! MY hubby is not a big fan of peppers and onion if he can see them, but he ate it and like it! I will be chopping my onions and peppers smaller the next time but overall, I give this a great taste rating!! I hope you  enjoy!
~Remember to put God first, and everything else will follow~

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Worn OUT!!!

 I decided that I needed to get back in the gym. Working out at home was just not cutting it for me. I would do good for a couple of days, and then I would miss a few and not go back for a while. I am just not that disciplined I guess. I stopped by the YMCA and renewed my membership for the same rate that I had it 4 months ago. I added it back into our budget and it works well right now! I am so excited about getting back! After dropping Emma off at school this morning, Dillon and I went to the gym. My main goal today was to spend 30 min. in the elliptical and 25 min strength training. Well, when I got there I checked out the spinning schedule. If you are not familiar with spinning, you are on a stationary bike for 45 min...sounds easy but, its really not, especially when you have a teacher who likes to do a lot of up and down stuff!! I decided to take the 8:15 class this morning and was very pleased to find that our Pastors wife was teaching the class!
I wore my Mio watch (which I purchased for myself last year for my birthday and I love it!!) Follow the link and it will explain it you! I only put it on before the class started at 8:15. As of right now, 3:30pm, I have burned 3379 calories!!! 3500 calories is a pound, (when you want to lose)! so, if I keep burning like I am today, then hopefully I can lose atleast 3-4 lbs this week! I am keeping up on my water and drinking extra to help with muscle building and recovery! I love spin class, I burned 718 in that 45 min class alone! I plan on taking that spin class twice a week and the other 1-2 days doing strength and cardio! 

As far as eating calories, I am following MyFitnessPal, which I love! Its FREE and I sync it with my cell phone so I have it on the go!! When I am out and about or have my phone near instead of my computer, I just add my meal and it updates it for me! It also has a barcode scanner so I can scan the barcode of the product I am eating and it automatically puts in the calories for me!! Give it a try! What do you have to lose except weight! 

As far as my running schedule goes, I am putting it on hold for a bit. My left foot has been sore for a couple of weeks and I wanna it to be completely better before I start running again!

What are your weight loss and exercise goal?
~Remember to put God first, and everything else will follow~

Friday, February 25, 2011

Sticker Shock

I just got home from picking up a pizza from a little country store 2 miles down the road. While I was there, I noticed that I needed to get gas in the van. Normally I would not pay attention to prices of gas and just stick to my 87 unleaded. Normally, I would pay no more than $45 to fill up. The last time I got it was $3.05 a gallon, last week. As I noticed the sign above the store, $3.29 a gallon, I watched as my $ amount soared past $45. I can remember just a few short months ago, getting gas for around $40...Even around Christmas. My husband said as he drove by the store this morning that I should go ahead and get it at $3.09 a gallon. How can it go up $.20 in just a few hours. I was thankful when the pump clicked off at $50.00. When I first got then van about 3 years ago, I remember gas prices being a little over $4 a gallon. We had also had a hurricane and oil spill in the gulf.... I asked the clerk at the counter what she thought and her comment was..."they say its going to be up $5 or more a gallon by summer"....WOW! I recall summers before, they threatened to raise it to $5 but never got more and a little over $4. Still....$4 for a gallon of gas is CRAZY...

How do they expect people to pay for gas...

I guess it is time for people to really budget and get control of their spending...

We have a budget program that we follow. I purchased it at Office Depot several years ago, I... we LOVE IT!!! I try to stick to it as much as I can but there are some weeks we get off a little. Guess I will be sticking to it now! Considering I only get gas once a week, you would think that it would not be a bad bill. $200 a month for one vehicle, that is. My hubby drives a PT Cruiser and gets gas twice a week. It usually takes $33-35 to fill up so I budget about $70 a week for him for a grand total of  $480 a month, rounded to an even $500 for those special trips!

And the food bill......

That's another rant....
Just because gas prices go up, that doesn't mean they can raise the price of milk. I have been purchasing organic milk at Whole Foods, which is the same price as regular milk at Kroger. But, I have noticed that it is going up each week...penny by penny. 

I guess its more menu planning and stretching in my future and I hope yours too! If you have comments on the gas/food prices going up, comment or link up below!!



~Remember to put God first, and everything else will follow~

Thursday, February 24, 2011

What a week!

~WOW~

These past 2 weeks have been very trying on my nerves! First, my laptop goes out...Found out it could be part of a lawsuit (and if it is, I will get a brand new one!), so I am having to go old school with the desk top...which runs slower. Second, The kids have been battling double ear infections and hubby and I have been sick with the head/chest cold stuff. I have been going on 7 days with it but I am much better today.

As far as menu planning, schedule planning and so forth, there has been none of that. But, I have managed to get groceries this week.
 
I went up to Whole Foods and bought some meats, milk, cheese and fruits. I love knowing that I am purchasing items that have not been tainted with growth hormones and pumped full of antibiotics and sprayed with gallons of "pest" killers that are so called "safe" for human consumption. I must add that the Applewood fresh bulk bacon that I purchased was very delish and I will be purchasing more of that in the future....next week!!
I borrowed my moms juicer about 2 weeks ago in hopes of juicing, but I have not managed to get that far yet. Maybe over the weekend I can get things together to start next week! I will be posting a couple of blogs about juicing and the health benefits!

I had to pick up a few things at WalMart today and as I was walking past the magazines, I picked one up...CHICKENS. Yes, I purchased a chicken magazine. We have a chicken coop with 4 chickens and I wanted to read more about them and possibly learn some new tricks for keeping them occupied and not bored. I am only half way through and I am hooked! I love all the varieties out there. We are planning on getting more chicken in the spring and expanding our coop so this is a great way to learn how, the proper way! Its all about raising your chickens on a farm, not industrially. The Hobby Farm Magazine put out this edition and there are 3 more coming this year. I will be purchasing those as well!!

As far as exercise and diet goes, I have not stuck to a diet since I have been sick. It's one of those "only eat because you have too" sicknesses. Before I got sick, I was doing Zumba on the Wii a couple of days a week and I must say....I AM ADDICTED!!! I Love it!! I highly recommend that if you have a Wii, you purchase this workout. You don't really feel like you are working out! It is fun for the kids too, they get to try and dance as well! It has programs that you can set up and it changes up your dances. SO MUCH FUN!!!

Menu Planning.....UGH!!

I take a very deep and long breath as I contemplate on what to write....

....
....
....
....

Ok, I have come to the conclusion that though I may plan a certain meal for that day, I want to eat what I plan on making the next night..... So, instead of sticking to set nights for meal plans, I am going to make a list of main dishes and sides that we can have that week. That way, when I wake up in the morning, if I don't feel like making stuffed Pork Chops, I can make Chicken  Tender Salads instead, because I know we have the items in the pantry and I just mark it off the list. I will "officially" start this Monday. We are kinda "flying by the seat of our pants" the rest of the week and weekend. 

We have a busy weekend ahead of us! We must finish tiling the shower (which we started 2 weekends ago and have been using the kids bath since) and we are going to The Home Show Saturday! I am so excited! We have plans of remodeling the house this year and this will give us many ideas and FREEBIES!! Love it!!

I know this blog has been long today but I had some catching up to do!! I should be back on schedule! I hope everyone has a very blessed and HEALTHY day!!

~Remember to put God first, and everything else will follow~

Thursday, February 17, 2011

It's Good to be Back!

Wow! 

We are still fixing some kinks in my laptop but I hope to be back to normal soon! I have a new battery but we think my computer has a problem charging. 

Anyhow...

On our adventure to keep All Natural and Organic products in our house and diet, we are finding that we are feeling a little bit better everyday! I notice the change in our kids behavior is changing to the good! I have been shopping at Whole Foods for the past several shopping trips but today I was not able to get there. I went to Kroger instead and shopped the organic department. I think I spent more at Kroger than I would have at Whole Foods but in all I got what I needed and I didn't get foods that were processed...at least that didn't have ingredients that I could not pronounce. I am using an Organic Laundry Soap and I must say, I really like it. I was hesitant to use it at first because I didn't think that it would work, but overall, I really like it! Priced at around the same price as Gain, or Tide, it works really well. I have not seen a change in our clothes as far as color or wear. 

As far as menu planning goes. I do have one for this week. Tonight we are eating Roasted Bone-in Chicken with Veggies and Potatoes with Cheese sauce and Salads. Friday night its Pizza Night and Saturday its Chicken Salad Sammies and leftovers. Sunday I am going to cook up some Chicken tenders and have Chicken Tender Salads! Haven't started on next weeks menu yet. 
As far as health go, Our Daughter has double ear infections and our son just got over his ear infection. Other than that we are feeling good. 

Hopefully in another week I will have my computer fully up and going and I will be able to post more! In the meantime, if you have ideas or anything  you would like to talk about, please comment or link up below!! 



~Remember to put God first, and everything else will follow~

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Will be gone for another week!

I am having computer issues and should have it all squared away in a week. I will be posting again soon!! So, be checking back!!! 


~Remember to put God first, and everything else will follow~

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Frugal Tips

 Yesterday I mentioned that I was reading a book called "Go Green, Live Rich" by David Bach. It has "50 simple ways to save the earth"

In Chapter 1, it talks about knowing your impact on the planet. I went to the website it provided and found my carbon footprint. Below is my score...







YOUR ECP SCORE: 312
ANNUAL CARBON OUTPUT: 12.4
 
How Your ECP Score Works
Your ECP score is linked to your private Earth Conservation Plan. Generally, ECP scores range from 150 – 900, the lower the better. Your ECP score is calculated based on six categories related to Home, Energy, Work, Commute, Travel and Lifestyle.

I don't think I did too shabby but there is room for improvement. 

That was Tip #1....
Tip #2, talks about the Litter Factor. This is a no brainer but one thing I did realize is that my husband takes 2 bottles of water to work with him everyday and both our kids take one too. That is 10 bottles a week for hubby, 5 for Emma and 2 for Dillon. I thought, how can I fix this? I answered myself and really didn't like the answer... I will have to use reusable water bottles and wash them....I hate washing dishes but I will try and find one that is dishwasher safe. I run the dishwasher once a day on average.
That should take care of that problem....
Tip #3-8 talks about the type of car you drive, skipping a trip, biodiesel, and vehicle maintenance. I not going into too much detail here. There is not much we can do about the subject personally because my husband lives 40 miles from his job and we live 12 miles from the nearest major town. We are not going to sale our house and move closer because we love where we live in the country. We are not at a point to where we are able to trade in vehicles for a more energy efficient one but hopefully this spring we will be. The only thing I can take from these tips are to minimize the amount of trips I take into town, which is down to 2 days a week (our son goes to preschool in town). I try and get the majority of my errands done on those days. While I am in the car rider line at school, waiting to pick up my daughter, instead of letting the car idle for 20-30 minutes, I let it run for 5 or so then shut it off until we get cold, then start it and let it run till we are warm and then shut it off, so on and so forth....

Tips #9-16 talk about Greening your home. We have slowly started changing out our light bulbs to Compact Fluorescent Bulbs (CFL). They use 75% less energy and last 10 times longer. The only draw back is that is contains small amounts of Mercury, meaning, they have to be disposed of properly. For correct disposal see this website.
It also talks about lowering your thermostat a couple of degrees. I hesitated doing this. I like my house warm in the winter and cool in the summer. At night we would turn the heat down because we slept better when it was slightly cooler. Right now we are keeping it on 67-68 even though it has been dropping down into the teens at night. If the house gets really chili, I turn it up to 69-70 to get the chill out of the air and then turn it back down. I guess in a couple of months I will see if there is a change in our electric bill.
 One thing I must improve on is unplugging appliances when they are not in use. I really need to work on this! 

Tips #17 and 18 talk about conservation of water. We are planning on remodeling sometime this year (fingers crossed) so, if I get my way, me might be able to purchase 2 low flow toilets. Considering the older toilets use up to 7 gallons of water each flush and the new ones only 1.6 at the max, I think I could justify the $230 plus price tag.....
Another, would be turning of the tap when brushing your teeth...That's a given people....Stop being lazy. Consider this while you are brushing your teeth, if  you keep the water running, your are wasting on average a GALLON of water. You wouldn't go to the store and purchase a gallon of water and take it home and pour it out in the sink would you???? Don't think so! 

These are all that I am sharing you with today. If you have anything that you would like to add....Link up below and tell us! 

More tips to come next week!



 
~Remember to put God first, and everything else will follow~

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I am ready to go back!

 We had such a busy weekend I didn't have time to post. And, I find that it is Wednesday already....

Where has the week gone??

I had a catering gig Monday and was really surprised at how well it went. I usually have my husband there with me and if he can't make it (due to work), then I recruit a friend. This time, I had NO ONE but me, myself, and I! At this Lunch-on, I provided:
Lasagna
Green Beans
Caesar Salad
Fresh Fruit
Triple Brownie Threats
Strawberry Mini Delights
Sweet Tea
and
Water

Hubby cooks all the desserts for me and I just decorate them! He does an awesome Job!! He is my sidekick and I missed him dearly that day!

After it was all said and done, it was a big success!




I have several ways that I could go with this blog today...But, I must settle on one and work on the others later! I really don't have a menu put together for this week, but I can tell you what we had and what we are having tonight! 

Monday: Grilled Cheese and Salads
Tuesday: Fresh Parmesan Tilapia and Cheesy Potato Salad, (kids had organic fries)
And tonight we are having: Chili Glazed Turkey Breast, Green Beans, Rice and Tomatoes, and Salad (Everything that we will be eating will be organic)

As far as the rest of the week goes...I will deal with it later this afternoon and have something planned out I am sure! 

Speaking of organic.....

I went to Whole Foods yesterday ( I LOVE THAT STORE). YES, I did go about my weekly budget but I purchased some items that I felt we needed. I am all about cutting back on the grocery bill, but I do not want to sacrifice our health to do so. When I had lost 70 plus lbs (2 years ago), I was eating really healthy. I found that as I ventured into the "saving money on groceries" game, I started to gain weight back. I wanted to see how much I could get, for the cheap! I have done really well doing so! But, I have also found that the brands we normally would not have eaten, were causing some unwanted side effects. Some people believe that the foods we eat may not have an effect on our kids behavior. I DON'T BELIEVE THAT. I started adding more processed foods into our kids diet and slowly watch them change. Their behavior was nothing like it use to be. They had less energy in some ways but were more rowdy in others. They didn't have the attention span that they once had. I felt as though something was dragging me down, I was always tired and had no clue as to why. People would say, "Well you take care of a household, hubby and 2 kids...no wonder your tired". Yes, this is true, but, I wasn't as tired when I was eating healthy. 

As I mentioned before, I went to Whole Foods yesterday. I purchased $150.01 in groceries, but I had a buggy FULL! I bought several packages of fresh meat from the meat counter, fresh sliced lunch meat from the deli, fresh cheeses from the cheese counter, and several items from the bulk aisle. I did use coupons and received credit in the amount of $.20 for bringing in just 2 bags. At my local Kroger, we only get $.04 per bag. My receipt was just as long as usual and I got everything on my list and more. 

We are trying to stay away from processed foods, added preservatives and lean more towards the organic, all natural foods. With that being said, I do have a pantry still stocked with some processed foods. I have not decided if I want to use these all or donate some to our local food pantry. Either way, they will be used and not thrown away. 

I don't plan on buying everything organic. Fruits and veggies that have thicker peelings, I will purchase at a regular grocery store. We will not be eating the peelings and because they are thicker, pesticides are less likely to penetrate the peel. 

I will however, purchase the milk that is produced from cows that are not given the rBGH hormone. I will purchase meats that are raised and slaughtered the humane way and are fed a healthy diet. We have our own chickens, so we get eggs everyday and we know what we feed them (alot of salad and veggies).
I want to free our bodies of as many toxins as possible, while keeping it in budget, and I think I can do it! I purchased some all natural Laundry soap. It was a bit pricey but I would rather buy it then make my own at this point. I will be going back next week for another grocery trip. It may turn out that I only go twice a month and shop the regular store the other times. 

As far has paper towels and toilet paper, I will buy ones that are made from recycled materials. Since I mentioned it....Recycling is another thing we are taking on....Our daughter already loves to recycle, thanks to her Kindergarten teacher! 

I went to our county library yesterday as well. I picked up 2 books, one which was titled: "Go Green, Live Rich" by David Bach. I am almost half way through the book. It talks about "50 simple ways to save the earth". I will share over the next couple of weeks, some tips that I found very helpful in "greening" our home and bodies! 




I know this has been one of my longer blogs, but I really feel that my priorities have changed as far as our health is concerned. I hope that you find yourself thinking about what ways you can green your body and home all while being frugal! Link up below and tell me what you are doing!




~Remember to put God first, and everything else will follow~