Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Proverbs 31 Wife - Week Twenty Three

Question #23: How consistent are you in your housekeeping tasks?  How consistent are you in spending time reading your Bible and praying?  Do you find the two go hand in hand?  Why or why not?

I am usually very consistent in my housekeeping, the only thing that stops me are unexpected needs of others or a migraine.  How do I manage to keep on top of it all?  I have to schedule it.  If you've followed me for long you know that I literally, on a calendar in red ink, schedule all my housekeeping chores.  For example I am actually writing this on a Friday which is laundry day.  That's right, I schedule laundry.  When I worked at school, laundry day was Saturday.  I start as soon as I get up and I do one load right after the other and I do not stop until it's all done, folded, hung and put away.  It's the only way I CAN do it.  If I tried to squeeze in a load here and there, I would forever be forgetting I started one and the clothes would sit in the washer getting mildewy and I would have to wash them again, or they would sit in the dryer getting wrinkled and I DO NOT iron!!  (that's not a matter of thinking I'm too good to do it, it's that I really stink at it and somehow manage to iron wrinkles INTO the clothes!)  Sometimes I can't get away from an appointment on Fridays or something else, but if I have to leave I pick up right where I left off when I get back.  Knowing it's laundry day helps that I don't forget a load.  Also, if I'm at home all day, which is how I try to plan it.....that's right, most every Friday I never leave the house.....then I will do some power cooking while the loads are going (cooking more than one thing) clean the kitchen, work on the blog, balance the checkbooks, etc. It's the perfect multitasking day.  On other days I have bathrooms scheduled, and mopping.  I vaccuum and clean the kitchen every day.

If I'm going to schedule something as mundane as chores, shouldn't I also schedule something as important as time in the Word?  Of course!  Bible study is also scheduled on my calendar in lime green.  Right now I'm doing two different studies, Brave and The Story.  I like to start out my day doing my chores and then once they are completed, sit down to my Bible.  I know I probably just shocked someone, but that's the way it works for me.  See, for me, if I sat down to my Bible first, the back part of my brain would be saying "we should probably also vacuum this chair today while we have the sweeper out", and "did I remember to wash all the microfiber towels, 'cause I have to clean bathrooms today".  That's just the way my mind wanders.  But if I have done all my chores for the day, my mind does a way better job of focusing on the Bible study and I don't rush through it.  I know I can spend as long as I like in the Word since all of my chores are done.

So do they go hand in hand?  I never really thought about it before, but I guess for me they kind of do. I get all my chores out of the way so I can allow myself to comfortably spend as much time as I like in the presence of God without distractions.  It also makes me feel better that I took care of my responsibilities.  Work is talked about in the Bible and God thinks it is important, and important enough that we should do our best.  This is the way I am able to do my best.

Until Next TIme.....

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Treasure Tuesday - Kindle

I love, love, love my Kindle!!  This is actually my second one.  I got my first one for Christmas about 3 years ago.  It was the DX....the big one the size of a piece of copy paper.  I really liked the bigger screen on it as it was easier to read, and it still fit in a tote bag to go on vacation with me, but it was too big to fit into my purse if I was going to a doctor's appointment or out to eat by myself.  So, this Christmas I traded in my bigger one for this one.  It still has the keyboard, which I like, and is small enough to fit into my purse.  The screen is bigger than the small ones used to have and I can change the font size so it's easier to read.

Most of the books I have on here were actually free.  There are a ton of books offered for free on Amazon for your Kindle.  They range from the classics, to cookbooks, to series, to new books.  A lot of times the book will only be offered for free for a very short period of time so it can gain some word of mouth praise to boost sales.  So I regularly check out what is offered for free.

I'll never give up reading real books.....I am a librarian.....but this makes it so much easier to carry around anything I want to read.  You should get one!

Until Next Time.....

Monday, February 27, 2012

1 Year to an Organized Life - Catch up Week

March hasn't started yet, so I am going to take this week to catch up on anything I have left undone in January and/or February.  This is the perfect week to do that thing that you left hanging due to lack of time or finances.  Say you wanted to paint but couldn't get to it that week.  Maybe you didn't get all of the organizational containers that you needed, run out and get them now and tie up loose ends.

For me, that means taking another look at my sock drawer.  I'm pretty sure I really don't need that many!!  Plus, while I was so focused on my closet and my drawers, I completely forgot about under the bed!  I have two containers under there that I need to go through.  I was hoping that we would get to paint the bedroom on catch up week as well, but time and finances have gotten in the way once again.  BUT I will not give up!  We have the color picked out and since we want the paint and primer in one, we'll be saving up for it and should be able to at least by the next catch up week if not before.  That's the plan anyway.  I AM NOT going to let that fall away.  I want my home - every part of it - to be a sanctuary so I will not just get by, it will be done.

So what do you need to catch up on?  Maybe you didn't get to start with us right on time, use this week to catch up.  

I'm also gearing up for March.....dealing with all the paperwork in your house....yay!  Can't wait to tame that monster!

Until Next Time.....

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pasta Bake

 pic from Taste of Home

1 lb ground beef
  OR 12 Make Ahead Meatballs whole or cut in half, thawed if frozen
1 28 oz jar pasta sauce
1/2 c parmesan cheese
4 C cooked pasta of any shape
2 C shredded mozzarella

preheat oven to 375
brown meat and drain
hold back 1/2 C shredded cheese
mix everything else together in 9X 13 baking dish
top with held back cheese
bake for 20 minutes

Until Next Time.....

Friday, February 24, 2012

Crock Pot Meatball Sandwiches or Pasta

12 Make Ahead Meatballs or more depending on how many you are feeding
1 package frozen 3 pepper and onion blend vegetables 
  OR 1/2 each of a red, yellow and green pepper and 1 small onion
14 oz jar spaghetti sauce
(increase ingredients for every 12 meatballs added)

place vegetables on bottom of 2 qt crock pot
  use larger pot if tripled, double will fit in this one
add meatballs
pour sauce over top
cover and cook on low 3-4 hours
  4-5 for double
  5-6 for triple

serve in hoagie rolls for sandwiches
or over your favorite pasta prepared separately

Until Next TIme.....

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Menu #9 - "Spice" up Ready Made Foods

Remember that these menus are not all inclusive.  I am giving you 5 dinner ideas, plus the occasional dessert and side dish.  For ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, sides, snacks, and desserts check the "Menu plans" tab to the left or browse through the other category tabs to the left.  ENJOY!

Tex-Mex Pot Roast (Crock Pot) with a side of Homemade Chips

"Frozen Pizza"

Tuna Casserole

Bolognese Sauce for Pasta (crock pot)

Corn and Bean Chili (crock pot)

Random Dessert = Peach Crisp

Until Next Time.....

$8 or Less Recipe - Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

This recipe is very versatile, you can add almost anything you want

2 1/2 - 3 lbs bone in chicken pieces
2 Tblsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic pressed
pinch of thyme, salt, pepper and any other seasoning you like
any of the following hearty vegetables
  • broccoli - 1 bunch cut into florets
  • carrots - 1 lb cut into 1 inch pieces
  • cauliflower - 1 head cut into florets
  • grape tomatoes - 2 pints
  • mushrooms - 1 lb whole or if large cut in half
  • new potatoes - 2 lbs halved or quartered
  • red or yellow onions - 2 small cut into wedges
  • we have also used red pepper wedges and sugar snap peas
preheat oven to 425
in jumbo (2.5 gallon) ziploc bag, toss everything together
place in oven on large rimmed baking sheet
toss vegetable half way through
cook 35-45 minutes until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender

Until Next Time.....

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Proverbs 31 Wife - Week Twenty Two

Question #22: In what ways do you try to honor your husband when you're in public together?  Are there things you could do better?

This is a hard one for me to answer.  In the book, Sara is talking about a job interview that includes the spouse.  I've never had to do anything like that.  My husband and I are (were) in very different lines of work, neither one requiring those social/business dealings where you had to have your spouse around.  

So our public outings really only include friends and small group at church.  In small group, I do talk about my husband's good qualities when it comes time to talk of such things, and I am sure never to tear him down or talk about something that might make him seem not the perfect husband, I'm sure you know what I mean.  If your husband likes to sit around in his underwear (mine does not, just for the record) and burp while watching sports, your small group does not need to know that.  

Also in those type of settings, my husband is very quiet so I will try to get him to speak up and not just take over the conversation myself....which he wouldn't mind me doing, but I don't want people to think it is because he isn't the leader of the family....he is just quiet.

Another thing that comes to mind is the dinner out.  How many times over dinner has a topic come up that makes you mad?  A dinner in public is not the time to argue about it.  I have seen this happen before and I have instantly thought less of the woman for yelling or saying hurtful things that I could hear.  Now I don't know what's going on in that marriage and it's none of my business, but when I see only that part played out in public it's just not good!  I have always been a strong believer in, no matter who you are talking to, kids, sister, spouse, if you have something to argue about or a more sensitive discussion it should always be done in private.  And on a side note, if you are upset with your spouse about something you think he has done wrong, be careful of telling this to friends and family.  Sometimes when we are upset we want these people on "our side" and so we might embellish a little, or maybe it is just the plain truth, BUT when we then make up with our spouse and move on, our friends and family might not.  They are stuck thinking about the terrible thing he did, and view him in that light from that moment on.  We tend to tell the bad things way more than the good.  Be sure to let your family and friends know how great your spouse is and why you love him.

So what could I do better?  Well, I know sometimes when we are in public, my husband likes to hold my hand walking in parking lots or stores.  Sometimes he tries to be funny about something that just hits me wrong and I don't think is funny at all.  So I will pull away from him and give him a look.  I need to do better at taking my own advice.  I should probably just quietly say something like I didn't think that was funny, or can we change the subject, then in the privacy of the car explain how I felt about the comment.

Until Next Time.....

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Bars

1 box yellow cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 C vegetable oil
1/2 C peanut butter
1 C chocolate chips

preheat oven to 350
mix together cake mix, eggs and oil
mix in peanut butter
stir in chocolate chips
pat mixture into lightly sprayed 9 X 13 pan
bake 14-17 minutes

Until Next Time.....

Monday, February 20, 2012

1 Year to an Organized Life - February Week 4

This week you can:
  • organize all the clothes in your bedroom closet, shelves and drawers
  • organize your handbag
  • learn what to avoid
In the closet, be sure that all like clothing is together.  All pants together, long sleeve blouses, short sleeve, dresses, skirts, etc.  I hang my dresses first at one end and then pants and then makes sense to me because then all the long things are together and they get shorter as you go down the bar.  This way all of the open floor space is also together.  Also be sure to put together clothes that are for a single purpose, like all my workout clothes are in the part of the bar that curves into the next straight part in the corner of my side of the closet.  

In this pic you see my sock drawer.  I could probably whittle this down a little more now that I'm not working, I'll come back to that.  But what I like is that they are folded in half (never make a ball out of your socks or fold one down over the will stretch out and you will be forever bending down to pull it up!) and then I have colors together.  If there is a pattern I put it with the dominant color.  The row all the way to the left are heavier than the others.  My office was ice cold so I needed these then.  I could probably get rid of half of them....I will probably do that on catch up week!  The thing I love the most about my sock drawer is that now when I do laundry, I don't dread putting my socks away.  Have you ever felt like that?  I don't mind doing laundry.  I don't mind hanging or folding, but I used to just hate to put it away.  I'm sure that had to do with lack of organization and room.  Now it doesn't bother me at all!

Now the purse.....there is a challenge!  I like (and don't like!) what Regina says on page 61.  We don't have to carry everything around that might be needed, "let someone else be the girl scout!"  That's a hard one for me....I LIKE to be the girl scout!  And it's a hard habit to break when you grew up around women who saved and carried everything because "you never know when you might need it."  But I have done better!  My purse is much smaller, but I would like it smaller still.  I have gotten smaller coin purse type things to keep like things cards and cash, restaurant and store coupons, migraine meds and bandaids.  This makes it so much easier to switch purses too.  Just grab all the little pouches and throw them in the next one.  Another good idea is to use one of those really small cross body kind of purses to hold cash, credit cards, and your phone and then keep it in a larger bag or tote.  This way if you only want the basics you can pull this out and leave the bag behind.

How are you feeling?  By now you should have your kitchen and on your way to having your bedroom completely organized.  These are probably the two rooms you spend the most time in so if you are like me at all you're feeling a whole let better about your house and now actually looking forward to the next sections!

Until Next Time.....

Sunday, February 19, 2012

1 Thing for Multiple Meals - Pork Loin

not promoting one brand or another, just the pic I found

Not to be confused with a tenderloin, which is much smaller (around 1-2 lbs at most) the pork loin can be quite large.  I like to get one that is about 5 pounds.  There are only two of us, but we can still get leftovers from each meal with this amount.  My personal preference is to cut it into two 2 pound roasts and then cut the last pound into pork chops.  That has me cooking three meals, but getting 6-8 out of it depending on the recipes I am using.  This is perfect for us because my husband likes to take leftovers to work and I like to have something quick to heat up while I'm working around the house.  If your family is not big into leftovers, this is perfect for a family of 4-5 depending on the appetites you are feeding.

Pork loins go on sale fairly regularly.  In my area a good deal is $1.99 a pound....if I haven't seen that price in a while, I'll get it at $2.49.  If you have a freezer, you might want to get 2-3 at that price.  We have a vacuum sealer, so we cut it up when we bring it home then freeze it in the recipe size packages.  With the vacuum sealed packages they can stay in the freezer much longer.  If you freeze the loin as a whole just remember that it will take quite a while for it to thaw out if you want to cut it.

Here are some of my favorite recipes that I use when I get a pork loin.  I hope you like them, and with the meat prep out of the way, you can whip them up a lot faster on those hectic weeknights!

Coq Au Vin with pork chop variation

Easy BBQ pork chops

Easy Pork Roast

Italian Pork Chops

Pork and Squash Stew

Pork Chop Dinner

Pork Chop Skillet

Pork Stew

Until Next Time.....

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Meatball Chili Mac

8 oz elbow macaroni
1 - 14oz can petite diced tomatoes (I used chili ready)
1 can tomato soup
Chili powder and garlic salt to taste

boil water and cook macaroni according to package directions
in large skillet, stir together soup, tomatoes and seasonings
bring to a simmer
add meatballs
add cooked macaroni

you could cut meatballs in half
you could also add corn and/or black beans to make your meal go farther

Until Next Time.....

Friday, February 17, 2012

Crock Pot Meatball Stew, or Stovetop or Oven

1 - 14oz can petite diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 lb carrots, diced
4-5 potatoes, diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tblsp worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1 C beef broth
1 can cream of golden mushroom soup OR 12oz jar beef gravy

for the crock pot:
mix all together in 4 qt crock pot
cover and cook on low 6-7 hours

for the stovetop:
add all ingredients except meatballs to dutch oven and bring to a boil
reduce heat, cover and simmer 25 minutes
stir in meatballs
increase heat and bring to a boil
reduce heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes or until desired thickness and vegetables are tender

for the oven:
mix all ingredients together
place in 3-4 qt casserole
cover and bake 1.5 - 2 hours or until vegetables are tender

Until Next Time.....

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Menu #8 - Even More in the Crock Pot

Remember that these menus are not all inclusive.  I am giving you 5 dinner ideas, plus the occasional dessert and side dish.  For ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, sides, snacks, and desserts check the "Menu plans" tab to the left or browse through the other category tabs to the left.  ENJOY!

Swiss Steak (crock pot)

Chicken Fajitas (crock pot)

Coq Au Vin (crock pot)

BBQ Pork Chops (crock pot)

Vegetable Soup (crock pot or stove top) Freeze leftovers for lunches later

Random Dessert = Chocolate Oatmeal Pie

Until Next Time.....

$8 or Less Recipe - Tuna Casserole

1 small can tuna in water, drained
(1/2 C milk optional if you like creamier casserole)
1 8oz can peas, drained
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 4-6oz bag plain potato chips

preheat oven to 350
crush the entire bag of chips
mix half of the bag of chips and rest of ingredients together
place mixture in 1 1/2 - 2 qt casserole dish
top with remaining chips
bake for 30 -45 minutes until bubbly

This is an old recipe from either the depression or WWII.  We always had it growing up during Lent.

Until Next Time.....

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Proverbs 31 Wife - Week Twenty One

Question #21: Have you ever taken a job out of need over desire? How did you grow from it?

I have actually done this more than once in my life...I think most women (men too) are going to do whatever it takes especially when it comes to taking care of her family.  I'll just focus on one of the times I did it being married.

The summer after our fist school year being married (I used to teach, and I always think of years in terms of schools years....hard habit to break) I took a summer job even though my husband wasn't thrilled.  I had always worked year round to make ends meet.  And I had to have yet another surgery that school year, so we could really use some extra money to pay down some bills.  It wasn't an ideal situation, especially for newlyweds as it was second shift in a call center.  I would leave before my husband got home then I wouldn't get home until after 11 or 12 at night when we were used to going to bed together at around 9 since we both got up very early.  I had been having some health issues, but I thought since it was mostly sitting down all evening it wouldn't be bad, we just wouldn't have much time together that summer.

Well, I had been going to a new doctor and they finally figured out I had Fibromyalgia and some arthritis.  He put me on a couple meds to start that evening.  He told me to take them around dinner. So I did...on my dinner break at work.  About an hour later I could barley keep my eyes open, and I was in the middle of a new training!  Somehow I made it to the end of my shift, but then I had to drive home on a busy highway part of the way and then curvy country roads the rest.  By the grace of God I made it, but I know I fell asleep a couple times!  My husband needed his sleep so I didn't feel I should wake him to come and get me and then there would have been the problem of how to get back to work the next day as we were on different shifts.  Needless to say when he found out he made me quit....and I wasn't sad about that at all really.  I do wish I could have made a bigger financial contribution, but it was too hard with the new diagnosis to deal with and the new meds.

So I learned that money isn't everything.  I have only worked one job since (and now none) and we managed to pay down the bills pretty quickly with a tighter budget AND we got more time together.  I have been tempted a few times to go get a part time job just to get over that hump or other, but I remember that drive home and remind myself that it's not worth it in the long run.  Sometimes it's really hard, but when you put your health next to a little extra money, it makes the decision much easier.

Until Next Time.....

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Italian Meatball Soup

16 - 20 Make Ahead Meatballs thaw if frozen
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 Tblsp tomato paste
4 garlic cloves pressed or minced
1 Tblsp Italian seasoning blend
1 - 28oz can crushed tomatoes
2 C beef broth
2 C water
salt and pepper to taste

in soup pot with a little olive oil, cook vegetables until tender 4-5 minutes
push vegetables to one side and add tomato paste
cook tomato paste until it begins to caramelize
add garlic and seasonings, mix well
stir in tomatoes, broth and water and bring to a simmer
cut meatballs in half
add to soup and simmer additional 15 - 30 minutes
serve with croutons

Until Next Time.....

Monday, February 13, 2012

1 Year to an Organized Life - February Week 3

This Week You Can:
  • create a shopping list for any organizing tools you need
  • return to your examination of time and uncover your true goals
  • consider how you can maximize your closet space
I like when Regina says on page 55, that stacks and piles are unmade decisions made manifest.  So true!  Then she starts asking us some tough questions like, why did I commit to spending a year organizing my home?  While compared to some, I may seem pretty organized, there are still places that are overlooked and I don't feel good about.  I want my entire home to be a sanctuary, every nook, cranny and junk drawer!  And why a year....Regina answers that on the next page: the habits of a lifetime die slowly; be patient!

As my name is Frugal Franny, and I do everything I do on a tight budget, I have some suggestions that will differ slightly from what you read in the book.  Let me say that I love every one of Regina's ideas, I just can't swing all of it so I'm sharing how I did what I could....I am in no way saying that she is wrong!!

I would love to have perfectly uniform hangers....and for them all to be purple!  Maybe one day, but for now I do mostly have uniform can barley see them in this picture.  Kohl's and a lot of other department stores will give you the hangers when you buy your clothes.  You might have to ask. Almost all of my hangers have come from that one store either from things I have bought or others gave to me.  

The other thing I want to stress in the closet is caring for your shoes!  I never thought about it as a teenager, but as I got more dress shoes especially I would notice how dusty they would get on the floor of the closet.  They aged just sitting there!  And the dust bunnies that would get inside of them, yuck!  So I started keeping all my shoe boxes.  As you can see, I keep them label facing out so I know what they are and I keep like things together.  On the left, the stack that's half cut off in the picture, are tennis shoes then they get dressier as you move to the right.  What I didn't get in the picture are some shoe boxes that I salvaged from shoes I no longer have or boxes someone gave to me that I put shoes in that didn't come with a box or the box got destroyed.  In that case I wrote on them in Sharpie what the shoes are.  I then keep all these boxes on my shelf because I don't really have anything else that needs to go there.  The closet floor has my slippers, my gym bag, and usually one pair of shoes or flip flops that get put on everyday to take the dogs out or run to the store.

If you don't have a single box kept, this might take you a while to get enough to get them all housed.  Some discount shoe stores might give you boxes from when they display shoes on clearance racks and they throw the boxes away.  My friend went out and got a bunch of the clear shoe boxes at Target.  That's a great idea too, which I think was suggested in the book.  

I also have one of those over the door shoe pocket things that I keep my flip flops in for summer.  I can see at a glance which ones I want, and since it's seasonal I don't have to worry about them collecting dust bunnies.

Another thing we did inside our closet (I share mine) is that on either side of the doorway my husband installed a hook.  He hangs all of his belts by the buckle on his and I have a couple belts and my robe on mine.  It's very handy!

Hope you are having fun transforming your closet.  Just having things all nice and neat and finally getting rid of all those things you have been skipping over for months (or years!) is going to make you feel like you almost have a new wardrobe!

Until Next Time.....

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Meatball Stroganoff

16 - 20  Make Ahead Meatballs thawed if frozen
8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced (could use canned)
1/4 C minced onion
1 clove garlic minced
1 Tblsp butter
1 can cream of mushroom or golden mushroom soup
1/2 C sour cream
salt and pepper to taste
hot cooked buttered noodles

saute mushrooms, garlic and onion in butter in large skillet
stir in soup and sour cream
add salt and pepper
add meatballs
heat through, do not boil
serve over noodles

Until Next Time.....

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Make Ahead Meatballs

4 lb lean ground beef
4 eggs
2 C dry bread crumbs
1/2 C finely chopped or minced onion
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste

in large bowl beat eggs
add rest of ingredients and mix well with clean hands
shape into 1 inch balls
(I used the medium cookie dough baller from pampered chef)
place in a single layer on ungreased baking pan
bake at 400 for 10-15 minutes until no longer pink, turning often
drain and repeat until all are cooked
cool completely
freeze in serving sizes for up to three months, vacuum seal to prevent freezer burn

Until Next TIme.....

Friday, February 10, 2012

Crock Pot Easy Pork Roast

2 lb cut from a pork tenderloin
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can golden mushroom soup
1 can french onion soup

place pork in crock pot
mix all soups together until smooth
pour over pork
cover and cook on low 7 hours

serve over mashed potatoes or noodles

Until Next Time.....

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Menu #7 - Great Variety

Remember that these menus are not all inclusive.  I am giving you 5 dinner ideas, plus the occasional dessert and side dish.  For ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, sides, snacks, and desserts check the "Menu plans" tab to the left or browse through the other category tabs to the left.  ENJOY!

Pizza Skillet

Vegetable Pot Pie

Hungry Man Chicken (crock pot)

Sausage and Pepper Sandwiches (crock pot)

Cowboy Soup (crock pot variation)

Random Dessert = Cheesecake Bars

Until Next Time.....

$8 or Less Recipe - Meatloaf

2 lb ground beef
2 eggs
1 envelope onion soup mix (or make your own, see page "and more")
1 C bread crumbs or crushed saltines

preheat oven to 350
in large bowl, combine all ingredients with clean hands, except ketchup
shape into loaf and place in baking pan
bake 1 hour
top with ketchup and bake 15 more minutes

Until Next Time.....

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Proverbs 31 Wife - Week Twenty

Question 20: How have you handled unexpected crisis situations?  Disappointments?

I think I'm kind of ashamed to say that I handle crisis better than disappointment.  I am usually cool as a cucumber in the middle of a crisis, doing whatever needs to be done with a single-minded focus.  Sometimes I have been known to break down after the crisis is over, but I'm great in the middle of it.

Disappointment is something else....and I don't know why!  Disappointment is discouraging and depressing.  Disappointment can be an open wound, very hurtful.  Maybe it is because disappointment is often associated with a person.  A crisis I would define as something unavoidable.  But disappointment could sometimes be avoided. At least that is what comes to mind when I hear the two words.

Crisis has happened in our marriage in a few ways.  My grandmother and father have both died, he had an aunt die.  My husband had an emergency appendectomy, I've had a couple of operations, and my mother broke her femur as we were all coming into town to give her a surprise 65th birthday party.  We both rose to the occasions and did what we had to do.  There were often expenses and emotions involved, but we worked through it and came out the other side stronger for the experiences.

Disappointment is another story.  I have been disappointed many times with my husband forgetting to do something he promised, or if I were to be totally honest, with something I think he should have done but he had no clue!  These things can hurt more sometimes because they can seem intentional.  With a death, that person had no control over it....they did not leave you on purpose in most cases.  I don't always handle disappointment well.  I usually get mad.  I might even yell.  I will almost always point out what it was and stand there with a hurt look on my face.  On the rare occasion I might even cry.  

Why does disappointment give us that feeling?  I don't know, I don't have the answer to that.  I wish I did.  I suppose rather than focusing on how disappointment makes us feel, maybe we should focus on how to be content?  As long as we are on this earth there are going to be things that disappoint us.  This world is an imperfect place.  But with God's help, and a better focus, we can learn to be content with what He has given us in the time and place He has given us.  I definitely need to remember that the next time I star to feel disappointment!  Here's something we can all work on together.  Here's hoping you can be content!

Until Next TIme.....

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Crock Pot Hot Fudge Brownies

1 20 oz pkg brownie mix
ingredients for brownie mix
1 C chocolate syrup (like to make chocolate milk)
1 C hot water

spray crock pot with non-stick spray
make brownies according to package directions
mix syrup and water together
pour brownie batter into crock pot
pour syrup mixture over brownies
cover and cook on high 2 hours or until edges are set
let stand uncovered 30 minutes
serve warm...with ice cream is awesome!

Until Next time.....

Monday, February 6, 2012

Prepare for Your Spring or Summer Yard Sale Now

I have friends who always say they want to have a yard sale but they say it is too much work and they just don't have the time to prepare for it given what little money they usually make.  Well, I'm here to tell you that you can cut the work down to hardly any effort, only give up one day - the day of the sale - make a little cash and STILL be able to donate the left overs to charity.  Everyone wins!!  It's really very simple.

First, get some price stickers if you really want to save time, then one day while in front of the TV, during the commercials put your initial on each sticker if you are going to have more than one person in your sale.  I highly recommend this because you'll have more stuff to sell which will attract people and you'll be doing it with a friend which will just be more fun!  I got the above stickers at a dollar store.  If you have more time, you could make your own by writing on painter's or masking tape...but if you do this, you really need to write the prices as your are putting the tape on your sale items.

Next, you'll want to have some big storage bins ready.  These are pretty cheap and something that can be used over and over.

Now you start ridding out....but this can be done slowly, over months in a just a few minutes at a time!  For example, If you are working through the book 1 Year to an Organized Life with us, each month you are cleaning out a room of your house.  As you do this, take your pile of stuff to these bins, grab your stickers, price the items, then place them in the bins to store until the sale.

In this bin, I see 4 different days of "work" for a total of about 2 minutes each time.  I see shampoo and conditioner that didn't work out for me taken from the bathroom (yes, this and body lotions and soaps sell....everyone wants to try something but not pay full price.  If it is really old and gross, please just throw it away though!) I see a bowl that no one used from the kitchen.  I see a key rack that I tried to use for another purpose that didn't work out, and I see a few items of clothing I pulled out of the closet one day while standing there trying to decide what to wear.  In less than 10 minutes over the course of 4 different days, I've got one bin half full ready for my yard sale!!

When I'm done adding PRICED items to the bin, I put them back into a closet that is downstairs that never gets used.  Maybe you keep your bins in the garage.  You can see the stickers in the top bin waiting for my next pile.  Then when it's time for the sale, that morning you pull out all of your bins, set up some tables and maybe a rack if you want to hang some clothes and you are ready for your sale and a day of hanging out with the BF who is doing the sale with you. Don't forget to have plenty of change available.  BUT we're not done there!!

As soon as the sale is over, grab a pad of paper and a pen and some garbage or shopping bags or old boxes.  Now, as you place items in the bags and/or boxes that didn't sell, write them down on the piece of paper and put a tick mark after each item named as you put it in.  For example:
sweaters IIII
pants III
shoes II
skirts IIII
Repeat until all items are boxed or bagged.  DO NOT SIT DOWN!!!  Load these boxes and bags into your car and head straight to Goodwill or Salvation Army thrift store, etc to donate these items to charity.  Be sure to ask for a receipt if you are wanting a tax deduction.  When you bring your receipt home attach it to the list you made.  Then look up online how much you are allowed to claim for each item you donated and total it.  This document is now ready for your files for your next tax return.  If you aren't concerned about a tax donation, simply bag and box your sale left overs and drop them off at a donation center.  

Your yard sale day is now over, you've cleaned out unwanted items from your house, you made a little cash, you hung out with a friend, you donated the leftovers to charity bringing nothing back into the house, and maybe got a little tax deduction too.  All for very little effort!!  Give it a shot, I promise you, it is not bad at all.  I used to do the big push right before a sale cleaning out the house in one or two days, spending hours pricing stuff, then being so exhausted from all of that, that at the end of the sale we would drag the stuff into the garage and say we would donate it another day, then it would sit there and it was just awful!!  My friend and I did a yard sale this past spring just as I described to you.  We both made hundreds of dollars, cleaned out our homes, and still donated some things to charity.  It was great.  And right now....I'm working on my next sale!

Until Next Time.....

1 Year to an Organized Life - February Week 2

This week you can:
  • understand how your attachment to clothes may be emotional
  • clean out your closet of all unwanted and unrelated items
  • make donations to charity or family and friends (or start planning your yard sale!)
Whenever I want do to a big job like this, my first instinct is to call a friend to come over.  It's not that I want someone to do it for me, but there is something about having a cheerleader reinforcing your decisions that make it so much easier....maybe even more fun.  But I like what Regina says on page 51, that your friend can't make the decision for you, you are trying to build your decision making muscle and you don't want to regret some of these choices later.

As with any other "ridding out" project you want to go in being prepared.  Have trash bags handy, or smaller shopping bags maybe if you are giving some things to family or friends.  OR, this is a great time to start planning your yard sale, so have bins to store these items in until then (see a bonus post about how to do this coming next) but be realistic!!  If you say you're going to have a yard sale, but never do, make sure this stuff goes straight to the donation pile or you will be repeating this process later on.  If you are donating and you want to itemize the donation for you tax returns, have a pad of paper handy to write down what you are donating.  This is not elaborate, here's what I do:
sweaters IIII
pants III
skirts II
shoes IIII
etc, making tick marks after each one as I put it into the bag.  Then use your list to look up the value you would be allowed to claim on your taxes and total it.  Be sure to get a receipt from the place you are donating, to attach to this list for your files.  If you are not concerned with the tax deduction, just start throwing it in the bag!

Work one section of the closet at a time focusing ONLY on that section and not what's left to do!  Regina suggests starting with hanging items first, then shelves, then the floor.  Then don't forget to go through things that you have in the chest of drawers, if you have them.

I had already done this in the summer, so I didn't have much, but I did manage to pull out the pile that you see in the picture.  I know it doesn't seem like much, but I wish I had taken a picture of everything I pulled out would have been shocked!!  And I could have clothed a few people!!  I finally decided to follow Stacy London's advice and dress for who I am now.  I got rid of fat clothes, thin clothes, and clothes I had since high school....I know, HIGH SCHOOL!!!  As I am in the middle of another weight loss, I hope to pull out some more by the time my neighborhood has its annual yard sale (again, check out the next post for working on that now).

I hope you are having fun with this, and I'd love to hear about your progress.  Remember, Regina said she would be here if you have any questions!

Until Next Time.....

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Oven Chicken and Rice

1 fryer chicken cut into parts or equal amount of parts
1 C minute rice (try the brown)
1 can cream of mushroom soup (or make your own, see "AND MORE" page)
1 can water
1 envelope onion soup mix (or make your own, see "AND MORE" page)

preheat oven to 350
in bottom of greased 9X13 baking dish, sprinkle rice
sprinkle 1/2 of the onion soup mix over rice
in small bowl mix soup and water
pour 1/2 of soup over rice
place chicken on top of rice
pour rest of soup over chicken
sprinkle rest of onion soup mix over chicken
cover with foil
bake for 90 minutes, removing foil last 10 minutes

Until Next TIme.....

Friday, February 3, 2012

Crock Pot Easy Pot Roast

1 1.5-2 lb boneless round or rump roast
4 med potatoes, quartered
1 8oz pkg baby carrots
2 stalks celery (optional)
1 can golden mushroom soup (optional)
1/2 tsp basil
minced garlic rubbed on (optional)
2 bay leaves (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

(add all optional ingredients for the most flavor, leave out for cheaper and easier)

brown roast on all sides in a skillet (optional)
place vegetables in 4 qt slow cooker
place roast on top of vegetables
in small bowl stir together soup and seasonings
pour over roast
cover and cook on low 8 hours, or high 4 hours
transfer meat and vegetables to platter
stir juices before spooning over roast

Until Next TIme.....

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Menu #6 - Cure for the Cold

Remember that these menus are not all inclusive.  I am giving you 5 dinner ideas, plus the occasional dessert and side dish.  For ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner, sides, snacks, and desserts check the "Menu plans" tab to the left or browse through the other category tabs to the left.  ENJOY!

Beef Pot Pie

Chicken and Rice (crock pot)

Chicken Cacciatore with a side of Healthy Green Bean Casserole

Hoppin' John

Easy Potato Soup

Random Dessert = Uncle Steve's Fruit Salad

Until Next Time.....

$8 or Less Recipe - Pizza Skillet

1 lb ground beef
2 C uncooked spiral pasta
1 sm onion chopped
1/2 C pepperoni slices (I like to use the little bite size pepperoni)
1 14oz can petite diced tomatoes, drained
1 14oz jar spaghetti sauce (I like Prego)
1 small jar mushrooms (or equiv of fresh)
1 C shredded mozzarella (or more)

cook pasta as directed
brown ground beef and onion, drain
add all ingredients except cheese in skillet
cook for 5 min until heated through
remove from heat
sprinkle with cheese and cover until melted

Until Next TIme.....

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Proverbs 31 Wife - Week Nineteen

Question #19: Have you experienced unemployment in your family?  Has your spouse?  What was it like?

When I was in middle school or the beginning of high school, my dad lost his job.  My parents were already divorced so this didn't affect me as much as some families.  He was living with my grandmother anyway, so he was never homeless, but he lost his car.  If it wasn't for her I don't know what would have happened to him.  I still saw him every weekend, and like I said it really didn't change anything.  We spent most weekends cooking, watching TV, and hanging out at bars.  Yep, I've been hanging out at bars ever since I can remember.  Things weren't so restricted back then.  People thought it was cute for a guy to bring his daughter in to drink with him.  I really learned patience through that.  I can wait for hours entertaining myself while whomever I am with does their own thing.  I played hours and hours of video poker, and whenever I had fundraisers at school, I was done with my quota in a matter of minutes.  Guys at a bar will buy anything from a little kid!  I guess I just learned to make the best of any situation because I had absolutely no control over it whatsoever.....maybe that's while I like control now?  Just kidding!!  I was lucky that my mom was a major penny pincher and hard worker.  We never had much, but we always had a home and food and clothes, even if they weren't cool!

Now, my unemployment is by choice.  It was not any easy choice, and we planned for it.  Most of my paycheck was put aside for quite some time to build up a nest egg.  We sold my car, and changed a few things in the budget so I could do this.  It's still very scary.  Every time I pay the bills and a little is chipped away from that egg I get nervous.  There is plenty I know, but it's still scary.  Then when things get iffy at my husband's work, I worry even more.  He is always so busy meeting deadlines.  But those people that impose those deadlines aren't quite as quick to pay their bills when it's their turn!

I guess I really need to pay attention to what I said in the first paragraph! I did learn patience (where did that go?) I didn't worry as much, and I knew I would be taken care of, even if it wasn't going to be at the highest level.  I need to realize that I am in MY promised land.  Is it perfect here? No, but it's not going to be while we are on earth!  But it's better than I've ever had in my life.  Yes, I have health problems and I can't do everything I want to, but that's not what it 's all about.  I am working at home, I am taking care of my family who loves me seemingly unconditionally, we have a home, plenty of food, clothes, and can go do some fun things around here that don't cost much money.  It is a promised land!  It may not be your idea of it, but it is darn close to perfect for me....and it started with unemployment!

That is just my story.  I know that unemployment is causing awful problems in our country today, and I'm not making light of that fact.  But for us, at this moment in time, it's a good thing.

Until Next TIme.....