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Monday, January 31, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - the Pantry Challenge Continues

Here it is the last day of the first month of the New Year!! It did fly by!  I am going to continue with the pantry challenge only because I really have a lot of stuff to use up still (freezers AND pantry!) and hopefully continue to save some money in the meantime. I do have a few thoughts though on the "rising" cost of foods but will get around to that on another post ...

If you are looking for some menu ideas, hop on over to Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday ... tons (like 100's) of others are linking up!

Monday (hubby leaves for Houston and this IS day 31 of Pantry Challenge) - grilled cheese and tomato soup (canned) ... easy night as I will be getting home later than anticipated

Tuesday - macaroni and cheese (I will only make half this recipe as it's just the 3 of us eating)

Wednesday - Chicken Cesar Pasta Salad (will use the precooked chicken I got from Costco a few weeks back ... need to try a different method than baking as suggested to reheat)

Thursday - tacos (taco salad for me) and chips with salsa

Friday (hubby is BACK) - pork in crockpot ... still working on WHAT I want to make

Saturday - most likely with some friends, if we are hosting, I'll pull out some chicken and grill

Sunday - Super Bowl Sunday baby! Looking at some Chicago style dogs OR Chili Cheese Dogs and the usual stuff like bean dip, etc. :)  Since neither one of my teams are in (Bears or Colts!) we won't be hosting a party (that I'm aware of) but the kids may still have a few friends over ...

The only thing I need to get this week would be hot dog buns and maybe cheddar cheese?

Is anyone else continuing on the the Pantry Challenge?

Pantry Challenge, days 28, 29 and 30

Yeah, we are moving forward. I've got to take a picture of the guest freezer, it's got a few empty spots ... woohoo!! Gotta be from the box of Taquitos.

Anyways, I really fell off the wagon this week on the menu plan...

Friday, the 28th, breakfast was Special K "with berries" for Hubby, I had banana and clementine, kids had whatever they scrounged up when they awoke. Hubby was out for lunch, I had a MC steamer that I picked up for 80 cents (ummm, I could so make one and probably have it be healthier AND more filling) ... kids on their own yet again. Dinner was sliders (hubby picked up), a couple cans of chicken chili that was doctored up and some crab cakes from the freezer. See, it goes back to the Frugal Friday post ... we COULD have made the sliders ourselves but the hamburger was frozen so Hubby opted to spend the $10 on pre-made ones and buns (and we had leftovers) ... We had an exellent time with our friends, as always, and were locking up by midnight. Sweet.

Saturday - Breakfast for me was 2 eggs with spinach and provolone cheese and topped with fresh tomato stuff. Hubby had 2 sliders, kids had bagels. Lunch was left over sliders for me and hubby (the last of them) and the kids were on their own. Dinner was the filet mignons...I pulled these out Thursday night just because we need to eat them soon. Like this weekend. I would be very upset if they got freezer burned. Served with green bean casserole and a nice green salad. Whoa....we ate good :) (and one smaller filet left for a thai beef salad for ME)

Sunday - Breakfast was scrambled eggs and corn beef hash :gag: and toast. Lunch was scrounging whatever you could find that sounded appealing, Sonny Boy and BriBri had pb, fluff and nutella sandwiches, I had clementine and banana and Hubby ate the rest of the green bean casserole (yeah, the steak is still there!). Dinner was easy, frozen pizzas and salad and a nice cold beer for the adults, soda for the kids!

Hubby leaves for Houston for the week Monday morning. This should make for some real easy menu stuff, thankfully. He is gone until FRIDAY.  4 days of easy feeding. Ahhh yeah, I'm in ...

Making It Happen Monday

Ammie over at Domestically Obsessed is hosting the weekly Make It Happen Monday ... I do find that posting my list of things to do online helps a "bit" but need to get more focused on the list being ready beforehand!! You should go check her out and LINK UP!

Here's what I've got to take care of this week:

1. Get the 3 big closings out of the way at work!
2. Workout, exercise
3. Post Menu Plan (easy as Hubby is traveling)
4. I'm skipping all the making appt make stuff this week ... will focus on that next week for sure :)
5. February is my declutter month so I need to attack the guest room linen closet. Clear it out!
6. Pantry, freezers, cupboards organizing. Still on the list
7. Call Ms. McF at school to follow up on meeting
8. Balance checkbook. Move remainder of money to savings. Deposit, move 20% automatically to savings.
9. Set bill pay up for 3 bills in purse.
10. Start creative ideas for Hubby Love month
11. Clean laundry room. Dust bunnies are reproducing, I believe.
12. Wash guest room sheets and comforter, dust and vacuum. Not that anyone is coming (that I'm aware of) but I like to have it ready to go "just in case".
13. Clean out master bath cabinet under both sinks. What is THAT stuff??
14. Clean out drawers and cabinets of middle bath .... and get Sonny Boy involved. Do we really need the empty bottles stuffed in that one drawer kid?? I think I'll leave the guest bath til next week as that's Princess and well, she's got a lot of girly, princess crap in there.
15. Work out. Give it a shot Jan. You can do it.

Thats it ... there's so much more to be done but these are the priorities for the week.

Hubby Love - February

I did this post the other day. Don't ask me why but it makes me emotional. As in E. M. O. Ack.

I love my Husband. Dearly.

He just annoys the crap out of me at times. Probably 50% of the time.

I'm sure I annoy him the other 50% :)

We've grown together and sometimes, I think we've grown apart a bit. Yeah, it's true. It DOES happen. So I admit that I need to reconnect with the man I picked as a high school freshman to be THE one for me for the remainder of my life. The man who is the father of my children. The man who has put me where I am today.

So February will be my dedicated Hubby Love month.

I am going to try and do something each and every day to let him know that I love him. Besides the "usual" stuff.

Time for me to get creative. I need to start RIGHT now :) ...

Freezer Update

Whew...it's been a more productive week! There are signs of hope!! I'm actually quite pleased with this past week's results ...

Out:

sausage
bacon
pkg of turkey lunchmeat
2 pkgs of bagel bites (I think this is it!)
1 box of Taquitos (yahoo) (close to tossing the remainder of box 2, I think they are freezer burned at this point)
1 small box of mac and cheese
*HC Fudge bars, one box is getting 'lower' but don't want to toss the box as then I will lose the remaining bars so the box stays in the door*
2 lb of butter (moved to the fridge and one box is already gone!)
1 pkg ready cooked bacon
filet mignon steaks
2 boxes crabcakes
2 frozen pizzas
1 smoothie mix
half bag of raspberries
In:
4 pizzas (and see the 2 removed, so only 2 left)
1 lb frozen blueberries
small pkg of tortellini for Sonny Boy

Friday, January 28, 2011

Dating

Funny, I was reading a post over here about dating your spouse and it rang so true, it could have easily brought tears to my eyes (had I not been in the office, WORKING!)

I had a comment all typed up to respond, and then thought better of it ...

"the children will all leave and there we’ll be….just the two of us."

Years ago, we were having issues, like SERIOUS marital issues and were seeing a counselor. One of the first things the counselor told us is that line above. Of course, as a mom of 2 toddlers, I thought, phff, what does SHE know? Well, all these years later, where my heart breaks at the thought that my babies no longer need me at their age of 20 and 18, I realize, she was right.

See, when the kids move out, that will be the true test for us. Do we really like each other for who we are, not just as the mother and the father of the kids?

Is it just because the kids were there, we had a common ground/goal?

Do we still share the same interest, that has NOTHING to do with the kids?

Can we still make each other laugh when the kids are NOT around?

So far, I think I can say yes.

Sure, we have our differences. More often than not its about the kids (still) ... but we try to take turns instead of keeping "track" who was right or who was wrong (note: very very bad trap to fall into).

And yes, we do have our own favorite things (I HATE TV, he loves it, I LOVE reading, he hates it) and we just do whatever makes it work for us. It may not be perfect, but nothing in real life is ...

Another thing that I've seen happen in our relationship (mind you, I've dated this man since I was 15, so that would be ummm....31 years total) is that we speak to each other in ways that I wouldn't DREAM of speaking to a friend, no matter how close. Um, folks, we are talking about that snarky attitude you can get sometimes? You know, the one you would NEVER EVER use with a complete stranger? And of course, you DO realize that you are doing it and just think "oh, it's ok, he's my husband, he knows how I can be" but really, it's not ok. I need to keep reminding myself of that (and Hubby too since he falls there too sometimes).

I DO love my Husband. I like to think he knows that, and I only say so because I don't tell him that 10 times a day. I'm grateful for all the things he does (even if some things annoy me at at times). And more than anything else, I'm very appreciative that he allows me to be me, as much as it irritates him some times (chatty anyone??).

So, realizing today, for the first time, really admitting it, I need to start focusing on the two of us. Afterall, Sonny Boy will be moving off to College this fall. And the Princess wants to head back up towards Tallahassee this fall too ... so that leaves me, Hubby and the two cats (well, maybe only one if this fostering thing is really JUST a fostering thing) ...

My goal for the weekend? To connect, one on one. Just the two of us.

It's all about ME and my friends!

This post is about ME. All me. Me Me Me. Well, and my friends. And my family. Ok, let's start with the ME:

1. I am a creature of habit, very much so.

2. I am a tightwad, yet I can certainly be a spendthrift too. This definitely needs to be looked into further, just not at this very moment.

3. I like to cook, but sometimes, just don't have the energy, ambition, drive, motivation, etc.

4. I love my family (most of the time).

5. I enjoy staying home and having everyone over to MY house :)

So, what does this all have to do with a Frugal Friday post?

Well, I've learned a  few things from those 5 points ... I am a tightwad WHEN I continue to stick with my method of thinking myself as such ... doing things consistently becomes a "habit", and cooking for myself, family and friends in the comfort of my home is definitely a Frugal Friday tip (not to mention, skipping that huge bar tab is a bonus!)

I've started back up with the hosting Happy Hour Fridays in our home. We used to do it every other week several years back. BYOB and I would provide the appetizers and such. Then, the economy tanked, quite a few of my friends became unemployed (and unfortunately, unreachable as some people become when they suddenly have their world turned upside down, no matter how much you reach out).

I realized that there are a few friends I need to really felt the need to be in touch with. I did that on my trip North at Christmas ... it was very very good to see my very best friend from all those years ago, realizing that yes, we did go different paths and lifestyles, but OMG, we are in exact SAME businesses. Amazing ... and it was like we just talked the previous day. Now we have been talking daily.  Another old friend recently requested to be my "friend" on FB ... not that I'm a very big FB person, but still, it was a definite door opening, and a signal that her life is finally (perhaps) settling down. Another just recently left me a voice mail message letting me know that she's now living in NY, but planning on coming for a visit soon (and yes, my guest room is available for your short stay!)

So how do we do a Frugal Friday Happy Hour? Easy:

Friends bring their own beverages of choice. We provide the snacks and appetizers. Sometimes it's simply chips and dip or cheese and crackers or a veggie tray. Other times it could be shrimp cocktail, meatballs, snausages or whatever. But regardless, it is ALWAYS what I have on hand. Rarely would I shop specifically for this event.

We are fortunate that we have a terrific back patio that has nice lighting and speakers hooked up to a sound system that can play satellite radio or an ipod if desired.

It's all about getting together and enjoying each other's company, not about how spectacular the food is, or how clean the house was or any of that stuff. A lesson to remember!

Linking up to Life As Mom Frugal Fridays ... go on over and check out some of the other ideas!

Close to Panic

Uhhh...so we've sort of, kind of fell off the menu plan this week (see the past 3 days of pantry challenge!) and last night, after Hubby had a huge green salad with the works and I had my nachos, Sonny Boy strolled by and asked what was for dinner? (!!!!????) ... somehow this kid gets his timing JUST RIGHT.

Told him to fend for himself. Soup? Grilled Cheese? Mac and Cheese (freezer) etc. No, no and NO. He wanted Spaghetti.

Not the short noodles.

Not the curly ones.

Don't even think of them funky bowties ones mom.

The long stringy ones. You know, that you have to twirl around your fork? Oh. Ok.

Hmmm ... I have NO SPAGHETTI left. How about some lasagna? That was on the menu plan :)

So, now I have to "watch" for a decent sale on spaghetti to buy a few boxes. Ho hum. If that's the worse of this pantry challenge, I'm in!

Pantry Challenge - Days 25, 26 and 27

Technically this should be it...but as I've said, I'm dragging it into February. Suck it up family, we NEED to do this!

Tuesday, the 25th day - ahhh... breakfast, bagel with cream cheese and yogurt for Sonny Boy, Hubby had the cheerios and a small container of cottage cheese, I had ::gasp:: BK drive through for $4.45 ... princess had?, lunch was green salad and tuna fish salad for Hubby and I, Sonny Boy had the PB and Nutella sandwich with fruit snacks and juice, Princess had Taquitos (and totally looked right past the rice), dinner was to have been enchiladas and rice but by the time I got home from the store (yes, $8 later on my gift card) and cleaned up the kitchen from the Princess (??!!) I was too lazy, so the kids had the rest of the box of Taquitos, Hubby and I had salad and leftover burgers (no buns) from the other night.

Wednesday - breakfast for Sonny Boy, bagel with cream cheese and yogurt, Princess, breakfast sandwich, same for me to avoid the damn BK drive through, Hubby had the L.A.S.T. of the Cheerios (have not broken the news to him), lunch for Sonny Boy was same as yesterday, Princess had a mixup of stuff tossed in her backpack (including the crappy Honest Kids stuff, thank you!), Hubby and I both had salads with remainder of tuna salad, dinner was Tijiana Flats ... I was tired. I was hungry. I was lazy ... need I say much more?

Thursday - Breakfast for me and the kids were the same, Hubby had ::gasp:: Special K "with berries" ... lunch was usual for kids, I had a salad and hubby did too. Dinner was, finally, to be some enchiladas. BUT who wold have thought. Of course, I got home late again from work, and was tired, just wanted a nice glass of wine and no grief...not the way it went down, let me tell ya. Everyone was on a fend for yourself mode and OMG I don't have any regular spaghetti! Crisis!

I did go to the store and spent $38 for a loaf of bread, 2 coffees, 2 cat litters (!!), 5 lbs of clementines, bananas, salad stuff an doritos (remember, we have NO snacks).

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Conversation with a Princess

Some days, I question myself as a decent mother. Granted, I've got 20 years invested so I must be doing something right ....

Princess: (as she stands in front of the open fridge) Mom, did you make this orange juice?

Me: (sitting at the table reading the mail) What do you mean, "did" I make it?

Princess: Well, do you MAKE it? It has pulp in it. You never buy the stuff with pulp and mine had TONS of it this morning (smiling big because she LOVES pulp and I HATE it)

Me: Well, its the frozen stuff you add water to if that's what you mean (me thinking doh, I'm not squeezing oranges baby just for you to have pulp)

Princess: Oh ... it's frozen?

Me: (thinking where did the gene pool go wrong??) Yes, those little cans in the garage freezer. The ones that say OJ Concentrate? Thats it. 3 cans of water mixed up well.

Princess: Ohhhh, now I understand. But why so much pulp? The other glasses didnt' have that much.

Me: You need to make sure you shake it up. Ummmm (thinking now), you used the rest that was in the container. The stuff on the bottom. The dregs. Ick.

Princess: Oh no, it was good, I'll gladly drink the OJ dregs from now on.

And there you have it, a typical mother daughter conversation in my house.

Green Onions

I was making the Enchiladas last night and had to make a quick stop at the grocery store on the way home (yes, I AM aware that I'm on a Pantry Challenge, and I only spent $8.48 on a GIFT card ... was challenging to say the least) ...
So, one of the things I needed was green onions. 2 bunches for $1.19. ???? Wow, those got expensive. Didn't they use to be like 3 for $1 or something like that??

So I grabbed the 2 healthiest looking bunches (not so great really) and brought them home.

Which prompted me to get a flashlight and walk out to the garden to confirm something: Yes, there they are. In the ground, waving their little green thingys at me in the dark.

Here's a tip to avoid that cost again!  Cut off the white bulby part with a little bit of the fading in to green area. Stick the root part into dirt, cover a little (not totally) and wait. Just a little while (a few days) and you will see the green shoots coming up. As that's the only part that I use (I think that's the case with MOST people) it's perfect. When you need some green onion, simply take your scissors and cut off what you need, bring it in, rinse and use. (oh by the way, we are in the midst of our garden season here in south Florida ... had to tie up my tomato plant as it's gotten HUGE and the wind has not been kind the past few days)

Linking up to Works For Me Wednesday ... been awhile since I've visited there! Go check it out, always good reads to be found!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tabasco and it's pulp

Jen over at Beauty and Bedlam was reviewing products again and last Wednesday morning was Tabasco red sauce.

We don't use Tabasco sauce, we much prefer Frank's (not sure why though) BUT we DO use Tabasco Pulp. Uh huh. This stuff is W.I.C.K.E.D.

Hubby uses it in everything. And sometimes I'm very very sorry that he does. Chili? Delicious the day made. The following day? Almost inedible it gets so spicy. I keep trying to remind him that a little goes a loooong way. Which is hard for him to remember when he's got a 3 lb bag in the freezer (taking up valuable freezer space) and half of a 3lb'er in the garage fridge.

So, here's my FAVORITE way to use the stuff. And it only takes TWO ingredients!

Spicy Shrimp Boil

1 lb of raw shrimp, shell ON (easy peel variety is fine)
1/4 cup (more or less as desired) of Tabasco Pulp

Bring large pot of water to boil OUTSIDE or with all windows open and fan wide open in kitchen. Add Tabasco pulp and shrimp and cook shrimp til pink. Immediately remove shrimp and place in ice water to stop the cooking.

Serve family style with large bowl for shells along with ice cold beer and lots of napkins.

*******Just a word of caution. The first time we did this in the kitchen, seriously, it felt like all the oxygen was robbed from the air, you could NOT breathe. No joke. Honestly. I'm actually a little surprised they have not put a warning label of sorts on the package with regards to this. It just really is the oddest thing.*******

*NOTE: We do this outside on the grill. No way in hell would I boil a pot of water with this Pulp in it in the house. Uh uh. No way. See Caution above!!!!

Linking up over at Beauty and Bedlam for the Tasty Tuesday hookup!

Mexican style rice in the rice cooker

I'm not sure if this is working or not. My rice cooker keeps turning to warm and I KNOW it can't be done yet ... but I suppose I will get up and check on it.

Since I'm making these sour cream enchiladas for dinner, thought I'd get some rice done and out of the way this morning.

Rinsed 2 cups of rice til clear.

Dumped rice into the rice cooker bowl.

Took lid off a can of fire roasted tomatoes.

Grabbed my NEW immersion blender, stuck it in the can and let that baby rip. Woohoo! That was a cheap thrill for the morning!

Dumped 2 1/2 cups of tomato-y stuff in with rice (by the way, 1 can measured 2 1/2 cups worth).

Mixed it up a little. Added a dash of water (less than 1/4 cup) ... and fired it up.

Flipped back to cook 2 times. Probably done now.

*note: the cup measurements are the rice maker cup ... MY rice cup is really 2/3 of a REAL measurement so follow the directions of the rice package OR your rice maker, don't mix and match - which is what I did*

Because I've messed up on the measurements...I've had to add more water to make the rice cook (crunchy rice anyone?) and turn the cooker back on several times AND add some more water ... but still beats a pan on the stove with a lid flippin and spittin steam :)  I will have to see what the rice queen aka Princess says about it ...

Looking for some other ideas on this Tasty Tuesday? Head over to Balancing Beauty and Bedlam and see what other's are doing (and admire the photo taking skills of a professional food stylist!)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Pantry Challenge, days 22, 23 and 24

Yes, I definately think I need to continue this into February ... as much as I hate to say it I'm not making anywhere near as much progress as I had thought I would. Oh, what was that? Costco? Aldi's? Well, yeah. I know.

Here's what we've been eating:

Saturday, Day 22 - breakfast was pretty much fend for yourself as was lunch. I believe there were a few nutty buddy bars mixed in there somewhere. Dinner was an awesome spinach and blue cheese mix stuffed into porkchops and baked. Excellent meal, thank you Hubby!  Alongside was to have been stuffed double bake taters, but ended up turning them into mashed taters as the skins were not holding up so well. Regardless, it was a pretty damn tasty meal!

Sunday, Day 23 - breakfast was the rest of the sausage and bacon from freezer (oh, I'm sure there's more bacon, I just have to find it) ... along with squishy white bread toast and scrambled eggs. Also cut up a cantelope to be devoured. It's wasn't.  Lunch was a fend for yourself type thing yet again as we ate the breakfast late, like 11 to 11:30ish.  Dinner was the burgers FINALLY along with some wings for the football games.  Was looking forward to frying up the fries and onion rings too, even went so far as to give the fryer a detailed cleaning and then it got too late to get the fryer going. Maybe next time ...

Monday, Day 24 - back to work and the usual grind: Princess had class all day today so she requested her usual breakfast sandwich (used the precooked microwave bacon), Sonny Boy had no school today so he did a bagel and carnation at lunchtime when he finally rolled out of bed, I had ... ::GASP:: nothing (!!) but did have a handful of carrots when I got to the office (honestly, time got away and completely FORGOT about eating!!), Hubby had the same thing he's had for the previous 23 days (GUESS?). Lunch for me was leftover taters (from Saturday) and a burger chopped and mixed with it, I also have a salad that I didn't eat. Hubby had the last pork chop and taters. Kids had whaetver they scrounged up (oh wait, Sonny Boy was JUST now eating)...Princess had tossed something in a bag before she left. So I get home, and go for my walk/jog/run and am gone much longer than anticpated (it was bulk trash day and then I found a puppy that was locked out of his home and such) and told Sonny Boy to just toss something together. Food? How can I think of food when I'm sweating and trying to recoup my oxygen levels??? Hubby will have a sandwich and soup. I may have a half of a sandwich but seriously, just not hungry at the moment.

So how is every one else doing on their pantry challenge? Is it getting more difficult? Or are you like me and still have sooooo much to use up?
So how is everyone else doing out there?

Make It Happen Mondy

As usual, the lovely Ammie over at Domestically Obsessed is holding us accountable with the Make It Happen Monday list :) Thanks Ammie!!

So, my list have been somewhat lame for the past few weeks. Yeah, I have a lot of stuff going on that is NOT on the list ... you know, stuff that you remember to do and does NOT need to put on the list. Such as laundry, iron and put away. Ummm, that should be on the list so it can wave it's arms at me occasionally and say "hey, your family must be running around naked or at least not wearing underwear by now!!" Uh huh. It's bad. But I fixed that problem on Sunday, in addition to the floors now being fairly clean and dust/dirt/grime/sticky free. At least temporarily. So here you have it, my plan to Make It Happen!

1. Iron and put away clean clothes (as of Sunday, they were ALL CLEAN)
2. Menu plan and post (done!!)
3. Re-evaluate budget - update and plug numbers in to date
4. Set up February budget based on above results
5. Make deposits and move the 20% (so far so good...)
6. Dig around in garage freezer. Pull out SOMETHING (smoked sausage/kielbasi for Saturday??) Then, do a quick inventory of what is in there ... need to get this one cleared out ... smallest of the 3 therefore, doable
7. Research medical stuff. The pap came back "ok" but they want to see me in 6 months. Well, go figure, now I've had this annoying situation for like 10 days. Great. Like I said, they can always find something WRONG if they look or even inquire ... crap.
8. Make appt for Mammo
9. Make appt for ultrasound
10. Call Dr. G for Sonny Boy
11. Order senior pics ... a little late, I know...don't remind me
12. Call school, what happened to Music Theory and Comp? Yes, I know he will be great for TV Production, but he's a MUSIC kid :)
13. Get guidance counselor to COMMIT to meeting with me and Hubby and Sonny Boy too!
14. Clean out medicine drawer. Seriously. Get rid of the meds that no one takes anymore. Just do it.
15. Kick start the declutter plan. First up, Tshirt drawer (does anyone else have one that is overflowing, yet you only wear 3 or 4 of them consistently? What's up with that??)
16. Attempt to get the full workout plan up in one sweep. Print and execute.
17. Go back and re-read Ammie's Titanic post (giggle, so sorry Amm...but it was funny as hell, DON'T get sucked into the pregnant clothing, oh please don't do it! WHY do they do that to maternity clothes???)
18. Clean top part of pantry ... see pics (coming soon)
19. Clean bottom part of pantry ... see pics (coming soon)
20. Call insurance company. Inquire as to WHY the oldest car is the most expensive to insure? WTF??? $3000 for 6 months for 4 cars is WAY excessive AllState! Way over the top. If they can't reduce, start shopping for new insurance pronto.

I anticipate this to be a fairly quiet week which is why I stuck the pantry cleaning stuff there ... the Pantry Challenge should be coming to an end, but I'm dragging it through February because it does not seem to have made a HUGE difference! Well, according to the animals, it has ("we need snacks mom, there aren't any snacks to be found ... what? Make popcorn? There isn't any microwave popcorn in there. Oh, MAKE it? Oh. Oh. Ok.")

So how about it, you gonna Make It Happen Monday?? Link on up with Ammie!

Menu Plan Monday

Well, it's pretty much the official final week of the Pantry Challenge, but like I've said, it's going a little longer for our household as we haven't gotten as much cleared out as anticipated.

So here's what we are having this week ... if you are in a rut and need some fresh ideas, hop on over to Menu Plan Monday at Organizing Junkie ... hundreds of others are linking up and sharing! It's not a very exciting week and I don't see anything really happening at work or school so I'm keeping it simple for my sanity!

Monday - Paninis and soup. Ummm, probably canned soup at that, sorry. The sandwiches will be made with lunchmeat from the freezer, cheese from the fridge, and plain old ordinary sandwich bread.

Tuesday - Sour cream enchiladas ... going to check out PW's recipe on this one. (NEED SOUR CREAM!)

Wednesday - lasagna (getting rid of that big box from the freezer, at last!) with some crusty garlic bread and green salad on the side.

Thursday - Leftovers and/or soup, sandwiches or salads (will make some olive-y garden dressing and breadsticks if needed (crescents are all that's left I think??)

Friday - Friends are coming over and I'm anticipating making some chicken on the grill with some taters.

Saturday - Macaroni and Cheese and either smoked sausage OR kiabalsi
Sunday - homemade pizzas, no wings are left so just a green salad along side, maybe some breadsticks if so inclined?

What would I need from the store? Sour cream. Loaf of italian bread (unless I make my own), breadsticks, (again, unless I make my own)...I think that would pretty much be it?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Freezer Update

Yup, continuing on...

Here's what's been removed:

Pkg of ham lunch meat
bag of variety beans and carrots
small bag of diced onions
Bagel bites ... see below, they were purchased and gone like that
tossed a pkg of pita bread
2 lbs ground beef
1/2 bag of cooked chicken
bag of chicken wings (last one, officially)
oj concentrate


AND....here's what's been added!

2 3.5 lb bags of cooked chicken
2 large boxes of Healthy Choice Fudge Bars (and IF I had more room, I'd have bought more they are so good!)
pkg of bagel bites (um, like 8 trays)
2.5 lbs boneless thick pork chops

Sooooo....how is everyone else doing on the freezers and pantry??

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Pantry Challenge, days 19, 20 and 21

Yeah, I should be proud of myself for making it this far, but I'm not because the last grocery trip just really burst my bubble (didn't you hear the big boom??) ... but I suppose I'm going to have to carry this over into February ... which I WAS going to try and dedicate as my anticlutter month ... gads, I just can't seem to get a break ... not blaming anyone but myself :)

Day 19 - breakfast for Sonny Boy was eggs, bacon and bagel with a side of yogurt and a banana, carnation and coffee to go. He's got finals this morning, better do well ... Hubby had (GUESS!) Cheerios, I had yogurt and a banana. Lunch for Sonny Boy was whatever he chosed to make when he gets home at noon (I believe it was bagel bites - going through them things like crazy, easy boy!), Hubby had small salad and a ham and cheese sandwich (again) with yogurt and baby carrots. I had a salad with my favorite HM dressing topped with hardboiled egg (hmmm, think I'm losing weight yet?). Dinner was to have been chicken Cesar pasta salad for all but then we decided to run down to the little bar and grill and had ourselves some burgers ... so dinner plan is moved to Thursday (which is ok by me) ...

Day 20 - Breakfast was the usual for everyone, including Princess as she arrived home from Tallahassee at 7am this morning (amazing that she walks in and says "Hi Mom. Can you make me a sandwich??"). I had the banana and Muscle Milk stuff. Lunch was salad for me. Hubby had more people coming in and they were going out to lunch. The kids were on their own as Sonny Boy got home early from finals and Princess was at class. Dinner is the plans from last night, chicken Cesar pasta salad which will feed me and the Princess as Sonny Boy will be out as will Hubby. Woohoo. Used some of the precooked chicken I had picked up at Costco, not so sure I like it ...

Day 21 - Princess had the breakfast sandwich. I had one too. Hubby had his stuff from yesterday. Sonny Boy? Fended for himself (believe it was a bagel and carnation as a BRUNCH). Lunch for me was more chicken Cesar pasta salad. Princess took a Campbell soup to go, and some other various items (including that horrible Honest Kids juicy crap, wish I could see her face when she tries it) for she had classes from 8am to 3pm today at the Central campus. Hubby planned on going out for lunch again. Dinner plans were suppose to have been burgers using some ground beef (9% fat) that I had picked up from Costco the previous trip (not that last fatal trip) and the buns were purchased at Aldi's this past weekend. I had tomatoes, lettuce, onion, pickles, crumbled blue cheese, etc to top as desired. Was hoping to do a little frying of some fries and onion rings, but the weather wasn't holding out very well and I HATE to fry in the house, so no fried food and if my burger is not cooked on the grill, I'd just as soon not eat it. So, what did we have for dinner? Me, nachos (just some tortilla chips, topped with cheese and nuked in microwave and topped with some tomato stuff), hubby had cheese and crackers and olives and later on made a pepperoni sandwich on the pannini grill (yeah, super healthy, I know)..Sonny Boy and the Princess made some tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.

This weeks grocery trips? NOTHING except cat food and litter which I went to the Pet Store for deliberately to avoid the grocery store. Ummm, does alcohol count as food? Beer? Did stop at ABC Liquors and picked up a 6 pack of chilly New Castle, bottle of Kendall Jackson reserve, bottle of Hart and McGarry Chardonnay AND a medium size bottle of Anejo Patron. Ummm, meant to use my $50 gift card and not spend MORE than that but the total was $90. Will keep the gift card for groceries for the next 2 to 3 weeks ... (in addition to the other 2 gc's with balances of $9 and $2) ... Just a note: the Patron 'may' be a gift for my girlfriend coming up on her 50th. Depends on whether or not we opt for the limo on the girls night out ... also, the 2 bottles of wine will be for the next few weeks. I don't see us doing any 'heavy' partying in the very near future, but geesh, we just never know anymore! AND the New Castle beer? It was something different and then after I took a sip, I remembered, I DO NOT LIKE THAT STUFF! Thick. Bitter. Ick. Had to put ice in a glass with it and STILL. Half bottle was all I could do. Other half is in the fridge. Will probably use for cooking something.

Need to clean and organize the pantry and all 3 freezers this weekend. YIKES. I'll try to remember to take before and after pictures!!

How is YOUR pantry coming along??

Friday, January 21, 2011

How the goals are coming along...

Remember, I never really listed any of my goals ... but there are a few obvious things, such as save 20% of my income, pantry/freezer challenge and of course, be a little healthier.

Yeah, I'm doing somewhat ok...for the most part.

Pantry Challenge ... staying focused by posting an update every three days. That does keep me accountable and I definitely keep checking over at Good Cheap Eats to see how they are doing (better than me, that's for sure!) ... I did have a moment (or two) shopping and well, believe I may just extend this right into February. How bad can it possibly be?? The freezers were looking better until that Monday.

20% of income saved. I should note, this is 20% of MY income. Hubby already contributes his max to the 401 and that is fine by me. I am the one that can spend all my dollars without even batting an eyelash (there, I SAID it. I'm a spendthrift at heart) so for me to commit to 20% to savings and STICK with it is stellar.  Of course, during the Monday spending spree, I had to move some funds out of the savings to the checking to cover a bill pay that was set up previously, that money has been moved back to the savings account. How much do I have so far this year? $700 and change. Woohoo. That does make me happy and hopefully I will stick with it. I'm not really doing anything different except NOT shopping at the store one or two, or even three times a week, and that's not just GROCERIES, we are talking Target, Goodwill, etc. I don't need anything, NO I DON'T!!

Healthier eating and exercising. Yes, again, I'm fairly proud of myself. I've been posting over here the daily workout plans. I've had a few people ask if I've lost some weight. I don't believe so, I have NOT weighed myself yet but plan to do so on Monday the 24th. I think maybe at this point I'm just firming up...and making the blood flow so it does make me a little more "radiant".  I should not make an issue of weight as I really would like to just lose 10 lbs and get back to a comfortable size 8 instead of borderline size 10 (please, I KNOW this is nothing). I want this more than anything so I don't have to buy new clothes (and spend more money!!!). I've been doing well with the veggies (salads) and leaner meats and such. I've tried (oh my have I) to eliminate the sweet tooth situation I have but until the kids are OUT OF THE HOUSE I will always have chocolate and other sweets around to say, yummm, that sounds good (Nutty Buddy bars anyone??)  But still, I'm trying and have gotten the Healthy Choice Fudge Bars to be my choice.

I am linking up with Jessica on Frugal Friday's over at Life As Mom.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Pantry Challenge, Days 16, 17 and 18

Oddly enough, I sort of forgot for a few days there that I was doing a pantry challenge? What's that? Oh. I went shopping. Yeah. Aldi's and Costco. Good news on the Costco front (even though I spent way more that I had planned) is I stuck with my list, diligently and even put a few things back after pricing them. I'm currently well stocked with toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, tp, papertowel, tampons, mouthwash and bathsoap. I would say the same for shampoo and conditioner, but Sonny Boy has long (luscious) thick hair that he seems to think needs a TON of shampoo (as does the Princess, but his is longer and thicker) ... I KNOW they NEED tons of conditioner.

So lets take a peek at what we've been eating, shall we?

Sunday, breakfast was sausage patties, bagels and bananas with some oj. Lunch was leftovers from Friday night (and thankfully the are ALL gone). Dinner was pepperoni paninis and a green salad.

Monday (I was off and shopped most of the day!), Sonny boy had a bagel and carnation, I had a banana (I know, I know), Hubby had his Cheerios (he's going to be upset when this bag is empty, it's then Special K with Berries), lunch for Sonny boy was bagel bites, I had a salad with my favorite honey mustard dressing and a hardboiled egg diced over the top, Hubby had a large salad with ham and cheese. Dinner is soup (it's was gettng late and geesh, I still don't know what kind to make) with a salad and dinner rolls (Sonny Boy said he needs something substantial). I ended up taking the turkey, throwing it in with 2 containers of chicken broth, 2 cups water, small bag of diced onions and a bag of frozen mixed beans and carrots into a pot with seasoning and let it simmer for about 45 minutes. Dished up and topped with shredded Parmesan ... not so bad!

Tuesday, I wanted to focus on getting a decent workout in BEFORE 7am ... had one of these Muscle Milk Lite drinks. I know that's why I can't work out well in the morning, week, tired and I haven't eaten so I tried it .... Sonny Boy has finals this week, so made him a smoothie, bagel with egg and bacon. Hubby (GUESS?!) had his usual. I also took a banana.  Lunch for the boy was the usual stuff and I had a large garden salad with some chopped hardboiled egg and more of the HM dressing :)...Hubby had a salad with a ham and cheese sandwich. We also both brought along a small container of leftover soup. Dinner was Spicy McChix like sandwiches with baby carrots on the side and a HC Fudge Bar for dessert (oh yummm)

So how is everyone else doing out there??

To Coupon or Not?

I love coupons. Really, they do save a lot of money on the things that you need and use.

But of course, like anything else, there is a time and a place for them.  Right now, is NOT the time or place for ME.

See, during the past 2 months, with Pantry Challenges and cleaning out the freezers (and pantry!), I've come to realize something.

Stockpiling is G.O.O.D. so long as it's stuff that you use consistently. But it's not so good when you have, say, 20 bottles of Mr. Clean that you've purchased at a steal but still have said 20 bottles a year later ... I forgot that I'm NOT a fan of Mr. Clean. Ooops, sorry Big Guy!

So, let me think, I paid approximately 90 cents per bottle. 90 x 20 is $18.00. That's almost $20 (I'm all about rounding up). Hmmm. Do you see where I'm going? I've got almost $20 worth of stuff that I'm playing with tossing in the garbage, dumping down a toilet or sink OR donating (can I donate something like that? I'm thinking the animal shelter perhaps?).

Don't get me wrong. If I find a coupon for milk (that the milk snobs approve of), or the particular brand of cat food (or litter), I'm using it ... but I've temporarily changed my tune on coupons. I've not printed any printables for over a month (and, yes, I do feel ok with that) ... and I've not even flipped through the coupons from the past 4 weeks worth of Sunday papers (yes, they are in the coupon basket though) ... and I feel perfectly fine with that too!

So for now, I stay away from my favorite sites, I Heart Publix and A Full Cup. Because I know I will be sucked in to the deals that are just too good to pass up. At a time when I need to stay focused on saving and clearing out the pantry and freezers, to STAY OUT OF THE STORES and just use up what I have .... it is NOT the time.

Is there anyone else out there who feels like this? I've noticed a few of my favorite bloggers who have started couponing recently, doing the CVS thing and such ... and I see that the buying of 5 items to get XX back in reward bucks happening ... which is fine and dandy (really, IT IS) but I so see them getting caught up just like I did ... it becomes almost obsessive?

So in honor of Moms Plan declutter challenge, I think I will make it my goal this weekend to clear out the coupons and hmmm ... maybe have a giveaway? My first! Really? Really! So stay posted! Yeah, wait til you see the wicker basket overflowing with coupons. I'm a little ashamed of it and it stays hidden in my closet, on the floor, in the corner, which adds MORE problems to the closet!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Garlicky Chicken

This is so good, and it's funny because it's from a Mr. Food cookbook ... my mother picked up a bunch for me off QVC when I first started to really cook. I'd say these are probably good books for beginner cooks as it's all fairly simple.

So make these, serve with some buttered egg noodles and a side of steamed broccoli and you have a meal that will satisfy your gang!

2 lbs chicken breast (I use boneless/skinless but can't remember if it calls for that?)
1 cup mayo
1 cup italian dressing
1/2 tsp italian seasoning (or just use some oregano, basil, parsley)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp browning sauce (like kitchen bouquet, gravy master, etc.)

Mix all except the breast together in large ziploc (or dish) and add chicken. Allow to marinate 30 minutes or MORE. (generally I do all day while at work!)

Grill, broil or bake ... yummy.  I've baked the whole thing, marinade and all with excellent results.

Linking up with Tasty Tuesday over at (balancing) Beauty and Bedlam  .... check out all the others!

How NOT to shop on a Pantry Challenge

Yeah. The title pretty much sums up this post.

Aldis:
13 tomato soup at hand x $1.29 each
15 cookie icing packs @ 50 cents each
24 pk spring water $2.99
dozen eggs 69 cents
2 bags broccoli florets 99 cents each
2 chicken broth cartons $1.19 each
6 oj concentrate $1.19 each
4 pkgs different deli sliced cheese $1.99 each
2 grape concentrate 92cents each
4 beef broth cans 45 cents each
2 cans black beans 55 cents each
2 cans corn 45 cents each
2 cottage cheese $1.9 each
2 bags baby carrots 69 cents each
2 cans pear halves $1.39 each
Panini Maker (!!!???) $19.99
2 string cheese $2.69 each
bottle cran juice $1.79
4cans mandarin oranges 49 cents each
2 cantaloupes 99 cents each
2  blocks cheddar cheese $1.79
2 coffees $3.99 each
2 burger buns 79 cents each
tissues $1.29
honey buns 99 cents
flour tortillas 99 cents
almonds $1.79
3 bags of chips $1.29 each
4 pkgs bagels $1.39 each
hoagie rolls $1.99
6 (yeah, 6) peanut butter wafers 99 cents each
table salt 33 cents
2 loaves of squishy bread 89 cents each.

Subtotal? You do the math....and moving on to:

Costco
3 dozen xlarge eggs $3.69
pork chops $14.71 less $4 coupon
2 Honest Kids juice bags $9.59  less $2.50 each (this stuff taste like crap in MY opinion. Sorry Moms!)
2 pkgs deodorant (with bonus razors!) $12.79  less $2.50 each
Dawn advance $8.39 less $2
4 pkg toothpaste $12.99 less $4
Herbal essence conditioner x 2 $6.99 less $2
360 count Advil (for the workout and arthritis pains) $16.49
36 ct fruit snacks $9.99
Special K bars x 2 $10.89 less $3.50 each
Tide $19.99 less $2.50
Downey $12.89 less $2.00
Clorox $12.39 less $3.00
Scope 3 pk mouthwash $12.49 less $2
2 24 pks muscle milk light $27.99 less $6 each
2 108 pk tampax $12.99 less $3 each
2 gallons skim milk $2.29 each
2 gallons 2% milk $2.39 each
3 half and half $1.59 each
TP $19.89 less $2
Paper towel $18.99 less $2
2 bags of cooked chicken strips (grilled?) $14.49 less $3.75 each (these are only like 3.5 lbs per bag cooked meat so I'm trying to figure out how much you weight you lose upon cooking?)
2 lbs mini peppers $3.99
6 pk romaine $3.79
2 twin pks of Special K (with Berries!) $7.39 less $2 each
Healthy choice fudge bars (DELICIOUS!!) $9.29 less $2.50 each
2 carnation instant breakfast $8.99 less $2 each (this was a stellar deal 30 pkgs for what I pay for 10 at Publix!)
8 pk toothbrushes $12.79 less $4

Total: do the math. I just cant type it :(

So, at least I'm set on deodorant, toothpaste, laundry soap, dish soap, tampons, tp, papertowel, crappy juices, carnation, and other stuff for quite a while. :)  But I seem to have forgotten I was on a pantry challenge!

Make It Happen Tuesday, I mean MONDAY!

Yeah, I'm a day late, and more than a few dollars short ... Linking up with the lovely (although prego) Ammie over at Domestically Obsessed to share my to do list....Are you Getting Your Home On??

1. Post menu plan for week 3 of Pantry Challenge (done!)
2. Post something over at the Frugal Fitness site (Done!!)
3. Move money around from shopping excursion.
4. Make deposit.
5. Move money around again.
6. Remind self that Pantry Challenge is in EFFECT as is healthier LIVING!
7. Call and make mammo and ultrasound appt.
8. Make dr appt for checkup and blood work (eek)
9. Check if Dr. Green is still on plan for Dermo for Sonny Boy
10. Call Belltone to inquire on health insurance acceptance (I've been hard of hearing all my life and it's getting progressively worse, time to get a new hearing aide as the one I have is from elementary school)
11. Pay bills
12. Update budget sheet
13. Put together post of the Pantry Challenge Shopping Excursion. Uh, this will be real interesting.

That's it. I ended on the unlucky 13 so I added in the last thing of:

14. Make post of product review of the yummy, delicious Healthy Choice Fudge Bars I had ...

Monday, January 17, 2011

Menu Plan for Week 3 of Pantry Challenge

Last week, I linked up for 2 weeks worth. Of course, life never goes according to plan so here's what I'm shooting for this week!

Monday - Soup (of some sort) and salad  (rainy dreary day here today)

Tuesday -  Spicy McChicken like sandwiches and chips

Wednesday - Cesar Chicken Pasta Salad and maybe some dinner rolls for Sonny Boy (teens! need more stuff than just "rabbit food")

Thursday - Burgers on the grill

Friday - Chicken on the grill (marinate in italian dressing?) with some Taters

Saturday - Steaks? Hot dogs? Chix sausages and peppers? Hubbys choice!
Sunday - Pizza with (the last of) chicken wings and garden salad.

Last week we ate out TWO times. Really. So unusual for us, really!  But I must get back on track and remember that I CAN NOT go to the store any more this month and into next month!!! Spent way too much time, therefore, money at both Aldi's and Costco. I do have to say, I stayed on my list for Costco but the stuff cost a little more since the last time I was there a few months ago. Anyone else notice that?

Looking for some other ideas for menus?? Hop on over to the Organizing Junkie and link up with Menu Plan Monday .... hundreds of others are!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Freezer Update

Sometimes I feel like I'm making progress and other times I feel like it's a bottomless pit!

Here's whats been removed lately:

1 oj concentrate (last one!?)
smoked turkey lunchmeat (WTH, only 9 ounces??)
bag of fried turkey
a few more sausage patties
2 bag of shrimp
bag of meatballs (I have no more now, panic!)
2 pkgs of snausages (again, I have no more, panic!)
1 pkg bacon
1 grape juice concentrate


And here's what I've added:

4 yoplait frozen smoothie mixes (I got them cheap!) ... these are stashed so no one sees them, figured it might be a nice treat towards the end of the month!
2 12 oz deli sliced ham, was in the freezer at work (forgot I had picked them up end of December)
5 cans of oj concentrate
2 cans of grape concentrate
2 bags of brocolli

Pantry Challenge - Days 13, 14 and 15

Continuing on ...

Day 13 - breakfast for the kids, eggs (only 4 left, will need to get more), bacon (all gone now) and toast. Hubby had oatmeal (can't get in the cabinet with cereal in guest kitchen as the drum set is all there for tonights easy loading), me, yogurt and banana. Lunch for the kids is as usual and I had a salad with hardboiled eggs, turkey lunchmeat and cheese over the top with my favorite vinaigrette dressing, hubby had salad, and his tuna sandwich (again? WTH Hubby, eat it already!) Dinner was supposed to have been fried turkey cubano type theme sandwich. Didn't quite do that. We took Princess to eat instead at the little Japanese restaurant down the street since Sonny Boy was out doing his Battle of the Bands contest (they won! Of course they did!)

Day 14 - Friday, at last!  Breakfast, Princess had an egg, sausage and cheese burrito (2 eggs left!), Sonny Boy on his own, Hubby, Cheereos and me, oatmeal (gag), lunch for kids, on their own, salad and tuna for me and hubby. Dinner is Happy Hour with a few friends coming over, all the stuff is from the freezer and pantry: shrimp cocktail with lemon wedges, meatballs in the crockpot with Mr. Yoshida's sauce, snasuages with bbq sauce, cheese spread and crackers, celery and carrots with ranch dip, and I think that's it .... instead of going to the store to buy beer, I stuck with a bottle of white wine that I picked up from the store previously and made myself a few white wine spritzers.

Day 15 - the half way mark! Woohoo. I do have little gaps here and there in the freezers so I'm feeling a little better. I really need to get in there and reorganize them, consolidate and such now that there is room and need to get the pantry more orderly too now that there is room ... of course, after my Aldi's trip, not so much ... breakfast is fend for yourself for all. Leftovers for Hubby and the kids do their own thing. Lunch was a smorgasbord of leftovers and such from last night. Dinner was originally to be steaks and baked taters, but then realized that I should eat the whole 1/2 of the fried turkey I took out that we didn't use, so that turned into what I had hoped to be turkey, mashed taters and green beans with gravy. No one home but Hubby and I, so we ended up making it a date night out at Beach Place which we never ever go to and The Big Kahuna ...
I forgot to mention that on day 12, I had to go to Publix yet again for a few loaves of French bread for Sonny Boy's French class. Tried to get some at Croissant Time but they were all out :( $13 later and I had 2 loaves of french bread, 4 pk of hoagies, gallon of milk, 6 cups yogurt, 2 pkgs of chicken sausage (rain check and $4 coupons, so cheap!), and a bottle of wine.

There is also a Costco trip coming up...thought I would push to the end of the month but now thinking of going on Monday since I'm off and to get that done and just stock up on milk and veggies to the end of the month ... I did pick up the stuff I needed asap (coffee, cheese, bread, bagels, eggs) at Aldi's which cost me $110 (!!??)  ... If I had waited, I could have bought triple the amount to get me through the end with $40. Of course, I will buy other stuff too ... unfortunately.

How's everyone else doing on their challenge??

Friday, January 14, 2011

It's like Found Money!

Today is payday (woohoo!) ... and also, the first paycheck of the year to reflect the 2% reduction of social security payment.  I chuckle and snort that 2% ain't nothin, but certainly, better than no percent!

Well. Imagine my surprise.

$50 more. Every 2 weeks.  That's $100 a month. $1200 a YEAR!!! Holy cow, that's like, A.W.E.S.O.M.E.!!!

So, of course, the first fleeting thought that comes to my mind is: What can I spend it on???

Uh, NO. That is not what I thought of ... well, maybe for a split second, but that was it. Honestly.

Why? Because I know that is why it's so hard to get ahead. You find extra money, be it a raise at work, child out of diapers, etc., but you continue to spend it instead of SAVING it. Uh huh. The cost of YOUR living goes up directly relating to the amount of money brought it. Seriously. Pathetic, huh?

So...the $50 will go in to the savings account every 2 weeks.  I AM seriously tempted to make a new saving category for this NEW money to go to but realize, I must stay focused, to which, it will just be dumped into the savings account. In addition to the 20% already going in from each check. Hmmm...that means THIS week savings deposit will be $266.20. I deducted the $50 right off the top and then did the 20% calculation. Only because I want to pretend the $50 never even showed up :)

So, what are you going to do with your NEW FOUND MONEY?

Linking up to Life As Mom and her Frugal Fridays link up! Come on over and check it out! Today's theme? Bad money habits .. which for me, spending any extra that comes my way...bad bad bad!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Pantry Challenge - Days 10, 11 and 12

This is not as hard as I thought it would be ... I did have to run to the store and get cat litter (damn cat, not even MINE!) and more milk and coffee, some fruit, lettuce and spinach and a few frozen smoothie mixes for 60 cents a piece to toss in freeze, $23 on a gift card so not so bad ... (should be noted that the gallon of milk is good for 2 days if I'm lucky so another trip by the end of the week I'm sure!)

Day 10, breakfast was waffles and scrambled eggs for 3 of the 4, Hubby had, Cheerios, of course. Lunch for hubby was leftover chops and scalloped taters, I had tuna salad on deli thin and kids had their usual nutella and pb sandwich with sides of fruity things and nutrigrain bars (down to 2 bars, horrors!). Dinner is tacos made with ground turkey and the fixins (shredded lettuce, cheese, onions, tomatoes, sour cream and refried beans with guac and chips), I had mine as a taco salad :)

Day 11 - breakfast was fit for a king for 3 of the 4 of us (Princess had to be up for class at the crack of dawn), we had bacon (!), scrambled eggs and toast (one made a sandwich with a slice of cheese), banana and cherries. Hubby, of course, had his standby Cheerios and a small yogurt. Lunch for kids was the usual with a few cherries tossed in, hubby and I had tuna salad on deliflat bread with a small salad on the side. Dinner was to have been leftover chicken chili with tortilla chips and small salad was optional for those who needed something more BUT as Hubby ended up meeting some associates for a drink and dinner, me & Sonny Boy did a buffet of leftover wings, pizza, hot dogs and salad. Princess is working so I'll leave a salad and pizza out for her and Hubby will probably snack on something.

Day 12 - breakfast for the 2 animals was eggs, bacon and toast. Hubby, Cheerios. Me? Hehe...a slice of Margarita pizza that Hubby brought home from last night. And a banana. Lunch for the kids was the usual everyday routine, hubby got a fully loaded salad and will eat his tuna & deliflat that he didn't eat yesterday. I will have a salad and the leftover wings and 2 coconut fried shrimps that he brought home last night (I'd take the rest of the pizza, but you know I'm trying to be healthier) ... Dinner is pasta and red sauce with a side of garlic bread and green salad.  I'm intended to pull some italian sausage out just because it need I wanted to pull SOMETHING out of the freezer, but forgot to and ended up eating the rest of the pizza hubby brought home!
So how is every one else doing on their challenge??

Veggies and linking up to URS

Most of you probably already know that I'm not a huge veggie fan but I still push forward and keep trying, hoping that one day, I will see the flavorful-ness of broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, cooked spinach, and so on ... but it still hasn't happened as of yesterday.

So I continue to make tried and true things that I do like, such as veggie salads of all types and a few other things. Here are two potato based sides:

Italian Taters (EASY!)

Red potatoes (or any type really), cut in to LARGE pieces (don't cut smaller than a large bite size!)
Bottle of italian dressing (any brand works!)

Parboil the potatoes until a slightly soft. They need to be cooked but not too much so.
Drain and allow to cool for about 30 minutes. Dump the potatoes in a large bowl and pour the dressing all over the them. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours (longer is fine).
Fire up the grill and place the babies on the grill and cook til a little charred, turn over periodically to keep from burning too much :) These are a great crowd pleaser.

and then we have:

Potatoes and Onions (any more descriptive and I might keel over!)

3 cups of thin sliced potatoes (I used one Coscto size spud, and last time, had to use the food processor since Hubby made me toss the OLD mandolin)
1 cup of thin sliced onions (again, Costco sized sweet onion, sliced as thin as possible
1/4 cup mayo
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup of Parmesan (have not tried with the green can stuff yet)
1 cup mozzarella cheese (shredded)
1 tsp parsley (dry)
salt and pepper
dash of Cayenne pepper flakes
clove of garlic, finely minced

Mix the mayo/sour cream, cheese and spices together in large bowl. Dump in the onions and taters, mix well till all coated.
Tear 2 sheets of foil to about 15-20 inches long. Spray with Pam (well) and divide taters between 2 sheets. Fold up and seal well (you know, fold over and over and repeat)
Grill on medium high heat, turning over half way through for about 20 minutes til taters are done. They smell awesome and you will hear them sizzling!
When done, allow to sit a few minutes and very carefully, open foil up and serve. Yummmmm

Looking for some other great ideas? Hop on over to Life as Mom and check out her Ultimate Recipe Swap!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

And again

I'm just a lean machine lately, aren't I?

Again, I've updated my workout page ... and I know that I'm going to pay for this bad boy by Friday (usually day 2 after an intense workout is the worse!)

So how about it, want to join in on all the fun and excitement? Want to curse me (or maybe even praise me)? Then hop over here and do the Leg routine ... and then let me know, good, bad or just give it up!?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Pssst....

I updated my workout site. Uh huh, two times already this week.

All I can say is wow, that workout tonight didn't seem so difficult putting it together or even reading it, but OWWW. Definitely works the upper abs more so than the lower. Which is ok, because it will help eliminate that extra roll over the waistband!

So go on, check it out...and do it! Promise, no special equipment needed!

To make or not to make

The Bed, that is.

Do you make your bed every morning?

The minute you get up or later in the morning, day or even before you go to bed?

I'm lucky. My Hubby makes the bed every single morning. EVEN if I am the last one out of bed (rarely, but occasionally).

He smooths the sheet out. Pulls the top sheet tight. Tucks them in snug at the bottom. Fluffs the comforter and both my pillows.

And makes sure the palm trees face the right way when he puts the pillows back on the bed.

Yes. He does. It's the little things in life that really make it all worth while!

Making those goals

Oh lets see, we are 11 days into the New Year and it's time for me to stop, bash smell the roses and evaluate my goals to date.

I never did really list any of my goals, besides the simple ones: pantry challenge for January (clean out pantry and freezers) and 20% to 25% of all deposits move to savings. And be a nicer mom and wife. And pet owner. And a better housecleaner. And exercise. And....

Oh. Sorry. I do have a tendency to ramble but it IS my blog so I can if I want.

Back on track.

1. The one deposit I've made so far this year HAS had 20% moved. Almost $300 added to the savings account. Sweet. Now if it can just stay there, I'd be happy! I have another deposit to make and that will add another $85. I need to investigate how to do a transfer from the one "convenient" savings account to the other less convenient (accessible) savings account. AND also see if there is a fee to do so.

2.  Pantry challenge. Hopefully you've followed along on my 3 day updates? So far so good. I did blow it in the very beginning by going to Aldi's and spending a LOT but that's tapered off and really digging deep in the freezers and pantry now. We've actually been eating good the past few days because I'm finally feeling better and ready to cook!  I've got 20 more days to go and do NOT see any issues ... there is a Costco trip by the end of the month which should be fine since the freezers should be close to BARE (yeah right, in MY dreams).

3.  Exercising. Ok, so 10 days into the year, I finally applied myself. Again (EXCUSE!!) being sick was a real blow to the first week.  I walked 1 1/2 miles yesterday with a few blocks that were jogged. That's more than I set out to do, originally planned and set my goal at 1 mile so woohoo for me! I also did a few butt exercises when I got back to cool down a bit. 

*Everyday on my way to work down A1A, aka Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., I see a huge group of women working out. I know it's a boot camp and I'm pretty sure that it originates on the other side of Sunrise blvd. bridge ... anyways, I always watch them while at the stop light (for once I'm so glad to get caught by the city's longest light!) and make notes of what they are doing.  Yesterday, they did this one thing and I thought, ohhhh....yeah that would be good.  Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Reach for sky with both hands, bend down, slightly bend knees and touch right hand to outside of left foot, jump (or stand if you have bad knees) to starting position and repeat with left hand to outside of right foot. I did this 50 times last night and OW my saddle bags were SORE! Another thing I saw them doing last week was just the step ups which again is an excellent butt workout.  BUT they were using the wave wall which is probably a good 2 feet step up? I suppose if you have stairs in your house you could do 2 stairs instead of one. Anyways, at the top of the step, pull one knee up like you are doing a Cheer! Then back down and repeat with other leg!

Ok, there you have it. My 3 major goals and a tip or two! :) I need to go over to my exercise blog and rouse up some more motivation!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Make It Happen Monday

I'm a little late to Get My Home On but I know that someone out there is anxiously waiting to see what's on the list! Honestly? I'd just as soon skip it this week but I know better.  So here we go:

1. Start working out again. Starting this evening! Now that I feel better, NO EXCUSE!
2. Post and link menu plan (done!)
3. Set up bill pay
4. Make deposit. Transfer 20% of said deposit and balance checkbook
5. Organize and try to make some sense of the pantry (part of the pantry challenge, discovered 5 boxes of pancake mix!)
6. Update 2011 calendar (move all the stuff from 2010, birthdays, anniversaries, etc.)
7. Re-write Princess school schedule. Can't make heads or tails of what day and where :)
8. Remind Sonny boy to get SAT waiver from GC and also to get his parking decal before Brutis get's towed while in class
9. Laundry. Iron. Put away (never really got done last week)
10. Get routine back for taking vitamins in the morning
11. Tell Hubby I love him

That's it for me. Last week really threw me off being so sick all week long. Seriously. Nothing got done. Didn't even put the luggage away until Saturday, a whole 8 days after we got home. Thankfully the kids helped out with keeping things picked up and hubby picked up some slack in the food prep area but whew, I'm glad I feel better!

Are YOU getting your home on? If so, hop on over to Ammie at Domestically Obsessed and link up! If you aren't ... maybe you SHOULD hop on over! :) Many thanks to Ammie for hosting Make It Happen Monday!

Menu Plan Monday - Week 2 and 3 of Pantry Challenge

Seriously, it's hard to say NO to a quick trip to the store ... I ended up sending Hubby and Sonny Boy to pick up the bread and milk :)

So, whats the plan for the next two weeks?

Monday - Tacos (made with ground turkey from freezer) rest of ingredients are in pantry and fridge with chips and salsa and guacamole (I've got some avocados to use or may just take a container from freezer)

Tuesday - soup and sandwiches (leftover chicken chili from fridge, lunchmeat from freezer)

Wednesday - Pasta with some italian sausage (from freezer)

Thursday - Cubanos (using fried turkey instead of pork, turkey in freezer from Thanksgiving!) and black beans and rice

Friday - Happy Hour evening, appetizers as in spicy meatballs, snausages, cheese spread and crackers and veggies with dip and maybe some shrimp with cocktail sauce (all is in freezer/pantry and fridge)

Saturday - Hubbys choice, will probably push steaks from freezer with baked taters

Sunday - Pepperoni Bread or hot pepperoni sandwiches

Monday - Baked tater soup with green salad (using leftover baked taters from Saturday night)

Tuesday - leftovers and/or pasta

Wednesday - spicy McChicken like sandwiches (chicken patties in freezer)

Thursday - burgers on grill

Friday - chicken on grill (or out?) IF we cook chicken, will be marinated in italian dressing and served with garden salad (will probably have friends over which is why I say out?)

Saturday - Hubbys choice, but may push for sausage and peppers (chicken sausage in freezer along with peppers and onions)

Sunday - Homemade pizza, wings and garlic bread (all in  freezer, pantry and fridge)

IF I stick with the menu plan, I would only need to pick up produce, bread (unless I get motivated to make some) and milk stuff. The Happy Hour Friday is something that we haven't done in quite some time and I feel the need to reconnect with a few friends so this will be a good thing. I do not anticipate having to buy ANYTHING as long as the group is under 16 or so (a time where a fully stocked freezer is GOOD). I will also not buy any beer and just stick with wine or vodka or tequila that is currently in house.

I should also note that there are so many different things I want to make that I have the ingredients for, like shrimp po-boys, or chicken picatta and such, but I'm trying to keep my life a little simpler for now AND hubby is trying to eat a little healthier, which I'm trying to encourage and assist! I do have to say, cooking at home is A LOT healthier than eating out at restaurants. We all know that!

If you are looking for some great ideas or just want to peek into other menus, hop on over to Menu Plan Monday!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Pantry Challenge - Days 7, 8 and 9

Thankfully I am finally feeling better...whew. A whole week under the weather is really bad for me!

Here's what we've been eating (and mind you, the menu plan was pretty much tossed out the window!)

Friday - yogurt and toast for me, sonny boy was on his own, Hubby had cereal (tried to give him oatmeal, no go), lunch for me was salad with the remainder of the ham and Hubby had pressed turkey and mont. jack cheese sandwich with a a salad. Sonny boy & princess fended for themselves. Dinner was the awesome chicken chili that Hubby had started in the crockpot on Thursday with crusty toasted bread.

Saturday - breakfast, toast for those who wanted with sliced apples, lunch was leftover chili and tortilla chips. Dinner was pork chops and scalloped taters (boxed, from pantry, didn't feel like doing the whole song and dance).

Sunday - breakfast was waffles (I realized I had 5 boxes of pancake mix in the pantry and 3 large bottles of syrup!) and sausage patties with some cantaloupe and grapefruit sections. Lunch, leftover chili with bread and dinner is to be homemade pepperoni pizzas and chicken wings prepared on the grill (better than frying AND they get this awesome smoky flavor).

So how is everyone else doing on the challenge? I had Hubby and Sonny Boy stop at the store to get milk and bread, and he also picked up spinach but that went in the freezer. $12 was his cost.

Freezer Update

STILL trying to clear out the freezers ... the pantry/freezer challenge is helping a little but NOT as much as I had anticipated. Since I'm FINALLY starting to feel better, hopefully I'll be a little more motivated!
Here's whats been removed this past week:

2 pkgs of chicken breast (hubby made some chicken soup in the crockpot on Thursday night ... I think he's pushing me to get better too ... he also came home with some Emergen-C)
1 bag of broccoli
2 bratwurst (cooked) - not sure but I think Hubby ate them Thursday night after I went bed (not going so well with this post!)
1/2 loaf of italian/french bread (not sure which it really is) to go with the soup
2 pkgs mix veggies (one left, thankfully, I'm not crazy about the quinoa ones!)
bag of pork chops
a few sausage patties
1 pkg ground turkey
Mozzarella cheese (2 pkgs)
bag of wings
1 OJ concentrate
Added:
2 boxes of spinach (hubby picked up not realizing I had some already)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Spicy McChicken like sandwiches

You know those dollar menu sandwiches at the golden arches? A whole dollar. And pretty wimpy but hey, they serve a purpose!

I got a few bags of Tyson's spicy chicken patties not too long ago at a REAL cheap price (like $1 per bag?)  We heated them up in the oven, toasted some squishy burger buns, slapped some mayo on one side, sliced some lettuce thin, added a slice of cheese and topped with a chicken patty and guess what? You've got yourself a Spicy McChicken-like sandwich! Satisfying? You bet. Easy and quick? Super so!

Serve some raw veggies on the side to make it a more rounded meal (unless you are going full fast food mode, then do some shoestring fries) ...

Yeah, I know, not a recipe so to speak. BUT it is related to my pantry challenge and menu plan!!  This is being linked up to Beauty and Bedlam's Tasty Tuesday roundup ... hop on over and check out everyone elses creations!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Dieting and working out - the Frugal Way!

One of my goals for the New Year was to lose weight and just be healthier. Granted, I only need to lose maybe 10 lbs to be happy.  Hubby, on the other hand, needs to lose a bit more and he's finally admitting it.

To NOT be the nagging wife and drill in to him to not eat that and to do this, I've just made the choice to try and be a little healthier (for those who look at the pantry challenge, you MAY not see how that is but there are quite a few veggies mixed in here and there with a lot of lower fat/sugar items).

Hubby has researched all the paid for diets out there, weight watchers, nutrisystem, quick weight loss centers, and so on. The problem with them, even though they are shown to be proven, they are EXPENSIVE. Heck, some of those programs cost twice as much as my grocery budget for a month. So he's stepped back from any of the programs (not to mention, I hate that you have to buy their food?!) And of course, we even looked in to some smart lipo but ummm, that doesn't really fix the real PROBLEM now does it?

I've also managed to convince him (for now) that we don't need to buy into a gym membership. Who wants to wait in line and use equipment that someone just sweated up?? Not to mention, we have stuff here in our own home. Allow me to list the items:

Bowflex (Sonny Boy DOES use it daily, so no, it's not 100% clothes hanger)
Freestanding Boxing Bag (I will be using this once princess is getting up early consistently - it is loud)
Freestanding reflex bag (same as boxing bag, I love this thing!)
3, 5 and 8 lb dumbbells and then 2 dumbbells that total 30 lbs each once all weights are on
10 lb medicine ball (with a handle to make more like a big kettleball)
DVDs - P90X, 30 Day Shred, Billy Blank TaeBoe, Wii Active and Wii Fit

Uh, yeah, we have a lot of stuff now that I typed it out. And I'm sure there's more. But my point is, we don't need to join a gym.

What we do need is to get focused.

Stop spending so much time on the PLANNING of doing it and just DO IT.

I have been working out fairly consistently except once I got this cold, I haven't. But I haven't been eating either so that means no energy :( I need to get back to posting my daily work out routines on the blog for motivation and accountability. You do know that it doesn't take much to see results!!

Real quick, if you are interested (or doing) the weightwatchers, there is an excellent site with excellent recipes over at Gina's ... I don't count points but do like her recipes!

Also, doing the Atkins, or LowCarbs does work (excellent way to get rid of the bulging belly) but it's not really a lifestyle change, I don't think. I've done it a few times, and consistently lose about 6 to 10 lbs in a month without doing it 100% every day ... but once you go back to fairly normal eating (not full carb) you start to gain and creep back up  again.

We ALL know the cause of weight gain. And we all know the solution to it. Less Calories In, More Calories Out. Decrease incoming, Increase outgoing ... blah blah blah!

This is linking up with Jessica over at Frugal Fridays, Life as Mom!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Pantry Challenge - Day 4 to 6

Ahh...I think I'm making progress ...

Day 4 - breakfast for sonny boy was the same as every day it seems, bagel and banana and carnation breakfast ... Hubby had his usual Cheerios and orange. I had a banana along with an egg and ham (honey baked) sandwich.  Lunch for sonny boy same as always, hubby had his salad and a turkey (honey baked) sandwich whereas I had salad with turkey (honey baked) and my homemade vinaigrette dressing with a snack of applesauce. I also have an instant oatmeal pack stashed just in case.  Dinner WAS to have been the shrimp packs but since there is SO much leftover food in fridge, I've opted to do a fend for yourself leftover night ... and I ate nothing since I'm feeling M.I.S.E.R.A.B.L.E.

Day 5 - Breakfast was actually almost waffles, but then I realized that I'm still sick and heck, someone should make ME waffles (ok, I do not really mean that, but maybe I do!) ... so it's just a bagel for Sonny Boy, I had a banana and a tangerine, and Hubby, what else, Cheerios.  Lunch was the usual for the Boy, hubby got honey baked turkey, mashed taters (leftovers) and a veggie medley (freezer) ... I had a salad with some honey baked ham and homemade dressing ... dinner was LEFTOVERS yet again and Sonny Boy and g/f had frozen pizza (last one from the freezer). Hubby DID make some hotdogs that were out but only one was eaten.

Day 6 - WTH, I'm STILL sick! Sonny boy, guess what he ate? Guess what Hubby ate? Me? I had a fried egg and ham sandwich. Lunch for SB was the same, and I even made the same fro Princess since she starts classes again today at 8am and needs to be waaaaaay out west by then (I need to get a post up about THAT soon), Hubby is having a small salad and ham sandwich and I will have a salad with turkey. Dinner is planned to be chili cheese dogs since the dogs were already charred on the grill ... but now I get an email from Hubby asking what the plans are for tonight ... perhaps he's feeling sorry for me and wants to take me out?

*It should be noted that Princess, the mighty one, fends for herself and usually eats toast with Nutella for breakfast and salad and/or soup for lunch. But this isn't guaranteed. Sometimes she's at work which she can eat at for free, other times she just grazes on whatever is in front of her ... so I don't list her meals as I don't prepare them nor see her eat 90% of the time in the mornings and afternoons!

That quick Publix Run?

Cost me $20.05 but hey, I saved $26.25 :)

Publix Sweet Ham, 2 pkgs for $5.99 less $1 off coupon
8 pks Starkist albacore tuna for $3.19 x 4 (b1g1f) and then $4 off total
5 Puffs Plus with Vicks, $1 each
2 yogurts for $1 total

17 items for $20? Not so bad I suppose? But not very helpful to the Pantry/Freezer challenge as the ham goes in the freezer and the tuna in the pantry!

How IS everyone else doing out there?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A tip

I had to run to the store during lunch today ... I ran out of my cheapo Aldi tissues (hey, the chest cold has moved to my head now) ... and well, napkins just weren't cutting it as my poor nose was soooo red it was alarming!

So off I went to Publix.

Puff tissues (pop up box) on sale for $1 each. WITH VICKS.

Oh yes, with Vicks ... I may become a tissue snob after all ... Princess met me at the office to get a check for her college books and was all excited to see tissues in the bag so I gave her a box too ... we both sniffed the boxes at the same time as someone walked by ... started laughing :) That's a good start to the ending of our colds!!

Gas

You know, fuel, like for your car?

They (whomever THEY are) predict that by the summer time, in a mere 5 to 6 months, the price will be around $4.00 a gallon.

You think the $3.xx you pay now is bad? Wait til it hits $4.00.

So, what can you do?

Ride a bike.

Walk.

Take public transportation.

Carpool.

Stay home.

And of course, consolidate your outings.

Of course, those who do not live in a bigger city area won't have some of these options. But for me, IF I wasn't so lazy, I COULD ride a bike (if I had one, got rid of mine last year), I COULD walk, I COULD take the city bus (ick, but they do have free wifi on most now!) and I COULD hop a ride with Hubby (but that would make me dependent on him to get home at a decent hour, not so much fun!) ... staying home, I do enough of that already.

Whew. Just the thought of filling up the Tahoe with it's 30 gallon tank makes me cringe ... $120?? And then Brutis with it's even bigger tank. Gads. I may need to rework the budget for this area!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Pantry Challenge - Day 1 to 3

So far so good ... but 3 days dont' really do a whole lot of damage to the pantry/freezer!

Day 1 - New Years Day, sick as a dog, and NO, not hung over. Spent most of the day on the couch with an occasional trip to the throne and the kitchen.  Served up leftover honey baked ham, cheese platter, mustard selections and mini breads ... oh wait, did that look like leftovers from Friday night? Surely it wasn't? This was breakfast, lunch and dinner for those who chose to eat or even inquire as to what was for dinner (the nerve!)

Day 2 - Sunday ... feeling a little better. Made the fatal trip to Aldi's to get milk since SOMEONE forgot to pick it up on their way home from girlfriend last night (doh Sonny Boy!) $96 and a bunch of PANTRY stuff later ... with only a 3 hour nap on the couch, felt much more productive and fed the family honey baked turkey breast (yeah, they do have that and its' to die for!) along with a bag of steamer mashed taters from the freezer. Served up the ham and the cheese and mini breads too just in case any of the remaining teens wanted any ...

Day 3 - Monday, first day official work day of the new year. Breakfast was cereal from pantry for hubby and I, Sonny Boy had the usual bagel and banana (hubby and I had oranges and bananas), lunch for SB was the usual nutella & pb sandwich, fruity snack things, nutty buddy (thanks to Aldi), nutrigrain bar. Hubby had a ham sandwich (honey baked ham on a deli thin, highly recommend!) with a salad and I had a salad with turkey. Of course, when I got to the office, saw that my fried turkey with veggies was in fridge from Friday so ate that instead! Dinner was pasta with meatballs and sauce. Didn't do the bread so I made crescent rolls instead.

Have not made much progress on the pantry, fridge or freezer so to speak with all the leftovers ... hoping to move forward on that along with this damn cold.

Go check out the challenge over at Good Cheap Eats (foodie blog that belongs to Life As Mom) ... lots of others are joining in ...

Marinated Mushrooms

For those of you who follow along, you probably figured out (or even read) that I am NOT a huge veggie person. Matter of fact, I used to hate anything that called itself a veggie and then some. 

But as I've gotten older, and since I quit smoking, I make every attempt to at least try to eat some veggies...and wouldn't you know it, sometimes I surprise myself! Mushrooms are one of those times ...

Here's what you need for a super easy side dish (goes excellent with steaks but even chicken or pork will work well too!)

Shrooms ... sliced or whole (I leave them whole unless they are super large)
Cesear dressing (I use Kens Steakhouse Lite ... been the tastiest so far)

Toss shrooms in a ziptop. Add dressing, don't make them swim, but enough to coat. Let them marinate for 30 minutes to a few hours. Obviously, the longer they marinate, the more concentrated the flavor becomes so use a little caution.

When ready to cook, tear a big sheet of foil, fold up edges to make a "pan" like shape to keep the shrooms (and dressing) together, dump out the ziploc into center. Gather up edges to form a ball shape with a little opening at the top for steam. I normally double up the foil again just to be sure as the grill can (and does!) tear the foil.

Grill over a low heat spot on grill while you cook the rest of your food. These don't require a long period of cooking, generally about 20 minutes or so is good to me.

Once done, carefully open the packet and pour all into a serving platter. If desired, toss with a fresh sprinkling of parsley or just dig in as is!

I'm linking this up with Jen over at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam Tasty Tuesday! Got a great recipe to share, hop on over and join in!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Pantry Challenges all over the web

January must bring out the pantry challenger in all of us :)

Here's a few links to some other pantry challenges going on ... always good for motivational purposes!

Life As Mom (I believe Jessica is going to post an update daily?)

Mrs. Happy Homemaker (Crystal will have a linky every week)

MomsPlan (she's doing a 6 week challenge)

I KNOW there are many more out there doing a pantry challenge in January ... if you know of any good ones, let me know so I can add them in ...

Make It Happen Monday

I certainly hope it's a HAPPY Monday!  Thanks to Ammie over at Domestically Obsessed for hosting the little linkup for the Monday to do list!

We traveled for a week, then got waysided by cancelled flights and spent more time than I would wish upon anyone at the airport. It was sad as Hubby and I both watched another young couple with 2 toddlers and a baby go from gate to gate with us ... told Hubby that I would gladly give my standby seat up for them :( Me and the kids finally caught the last flight out at 7:30pm. Hubby jumped on the flight to Fort Myers, grabbed a car and drove across the alley and got home at 3am. Funny enough, he gave 2 other people a lift too ... they were following us around and actually Sonny Boy was rude and told the one guy not to cut in line anymore. Apparently didn't know that there was an etiquette to letting the counter people know you wish to fly standby (ok, you see 20 people go from gate to gate and stand in line at each counter, and  you just think you walk up to the side and say excuse me??)  He apologized to Hubby and asked that he relay that to the son.

So needless to say, I'm sick. Chest cold. But I believe/hope that I'm on t he road to recovery! So my to do list may be small but not really (so much to do!)

1. Laundry. Iron. Put away (all one thing)
2. Clean laundry room. The cat seems to have decided to fling cat litter everywhere ... thankfully it's clean stuff
3. Clean kitchen junk drawer. Funny, I stay at someones home and I get the strange urge to declutter and reorganize!
4. Call on newspaper subscription. Just how much do I really owe (they keep sending the paper but no bill ... Sunsentinel is famous for that!)
5. Remind Sonny Boy to sign up for SAT
6. Remind Princess to follow up on book orders and return last semester for refund
7. Pay bills at work.
8. Make deposits. Clear out checking account of current balance to savings prior to deposits. 20% to savings from current deposit
10. Set up bill pay for current bills
11. Set up new doctor for both kids online. Make dr appointments for all 3 of us (hubby just did his)
12. Follow up on vision plan. Make eye appt for me
13. Call gyno for results (holiday backlog?) ... make appt for mammo and ultrasound for one day if possible
14. Post menu plan and link to Menu Plan Monday
15. Empty pics from camera. Give explicit directions to kids on new camera (um, easy, this is MINE. You can use the one you dropped and now behaves badly...neither one will admit to it but you can TELL).

That's it for now. I know there are so many other things I need to do but it's late, I'm tired (how can that be??) and I need to tidy up the kitchen ... are you getting your home on? Head over to Ammie's site and link up!

Aldi's trip

So I put together my menu plan for the week. Type it all up and add all my links.  AND even state that $20 or so should be sufficient for what I need to get.

Yeah right. A trip to the store for a mere $20? Who am I kidding?

5qt cast iron dutch oven (been really wanting one for a while!) $29.99
4 pkgs peanut butter chocolate wafers (aka Nutty Buddy) 99 cents each
ketchup $1.19
baby dills $1.19
2 gallons milk $1.99 each
2 vanilla yogurts $1.99 each
half and half $1.99
2 grapefruits 59 cents each
2 mac and cheese (freezer, individual) 99 cents each
toothbrushes $1.69
2 frozen oj $1.19 each
fresh pineapple $2.69 (ok, thought it said 69 cents so really, would not have taken it!)
cantaloupe $1.99
2pks frozen broccoli 99 cents each
bananas 80 cents and $1.02
2 pkg red and yellow peppers $2.29
flour tortillas 99 cents
head of lettuce $1.29
sliced cheese $1.99
3 pkgs andes mint chocolate baking chips 50 cents each (clearance)
cocktail sauce $1.09
2 tomato soup 49 cents each
2 chicken noodle soup 49 cents each
donut blend coffee $3.99
2 cucumbers 29 cents each
2 6in1 sprinkles 50 cents each (clearance)
2 holiday cookie (sugarcookies, fridge section) 99 cents each (clearance)
spaghetti sauce $1.19
2 avocados 49 cents each
not really sugar $1.19
2 200ct tissues $1.19 each
grape tomatoes 99 cents
white bread 89 cents
2 bagels $1.39 each
1dozen eggs 69 cents (this is by far the cheapest I've found them to be anywhere)
bbq chips $1.29
plain chips $1.29

And my grand total was: $95.56. Good lord.  I could easily eliminate over 70% of that stuff! Will power, where is it!