Saturday, March 31, 2012

Chicken and Stuffing

1 box Stove Top Stuffing
4 boneless chicken breasts or 6 thighs
1/3 C milk
1 can cream of mushroom soup (or cream of chicken, celery, etc)

preheat oven to 350
prepare stuffing according to package directions
place stuffing down the center (short way) of shallow 3 qt baking dish
place chicken on either side of stuffing
mix soup and milk together
pour the mix over the chicken
cover with foil
bake for 50 minutes
uncover and bake 10-15 more minutes

Until Next TIme.....

Friday, March 30, 2012

Crock Pot Beef and Beans

1 lb ground beef
1 28oz can baked beans (I like Bush's original)
1 tsp taco seasoning or chili powder
3/4 C BBQ sauce (I used a mix of honey and think & spicy)
1 small onion chopped - optional

brown ground beef and onion (if using) in skillet
mix all ingredients together
place in 2 qt crock pot
cover and cook on low 3-4 hours

this is easily doubled or tripled, just be sure to use a bigger crock pot

Until Next Time.....

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Mini Pigs in a Blanket

1 8count can of crescent rolls (or 2 4counts)
mini smoked sausage links (I like Hillshire Farms the best)

preheat oven according to package directions
unroll individual crescent rolls and cut long ways making 2 skinny crescent rolls from each one
start at the pointy end and roll a link into each crescent
bake according to package directions

Until Next Time.....

Menu #14 - Potatoes are Really Good for You

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 Burgers with a side of Homemade Chips

Sloppy Casserole

Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

Meatball Stew (crock pot)

Black Bean Soup (crock pot)

Random Dessert = Dirt Pudding

Until Next Time.....

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Proverbs 31 Wife - Week Twenty Seven

Question #27:  What are you passionate about?  How does this fit in with your role as wife?

I had to re-read that section of the book and ponder a while (pages 119-121).  The answer to that question has changed a lot over the course of our marriage.  Now, I might sound a little 1950's home-ec bookish here but, right now I am passionate about being a good wife and a better follower of Christ and that is all.  I no longer care near as much about acting in dramas or singing on the praise team.  I definitely don't care about racking up more professional development for my job or what certificates I can earn or what committees I could chair or what new programs I could learn about and bring back to the job.  

My whole focus right now is taking care of my family, which includes taking care of the household in most ways....except really anything outside.  And spending more time in the Word through study and then putting it into action through church, relationships, and teaching others what I can.  I've said before that I treat this like my full time job.  I get up shortly after my husband (come I really need to get up at 5:30...6 is just fine!) and I start my work day just as he starts his.  Taking care of my home and family is my 9-5 job....or rather my 7-4 job.  I schedule everything I have to do including errands, Bible study, cooking, cleaning, laundry, bill paying and exercising.  I try to be finished by 4 everyday so that I can start dinner and then have the evenings and weekends free to enjoy with my family and at church functions.

At this point, doing this blog is kind of my treat.  I've gotten a pattern down with these series and what days I do recipes.  I have certain times dedicated to working on this just like everything else.  In a way I still feel like I'm teaching, only now I get to teach what I want to teach.  (I really disliked April in school, it's poetry month...never did like poetry much)  It also helps me to keep accountable in my new role as full time wife.    If I am telling you that you should do or try something, I am also doing it.  This series has helped me be more aware of the kind of wife I am and the areas I need to work on.  The organizational series is whipping my house into shape making it more of a sanctuary then just a place.  And by trying the recipes first, we have discovered some new foods and taken the boring out of everyday cooking.

Most of all, I love how I now have more time than I have ever had in my life to spend studying God's Word.  At this time, I am doing three different Bible studies not counting working through this book and being a part of a small group.  The studies are all so very different that I look forward to each one. I wouldn't recommend trying to do that many studies at once, but they just happened to overlap a little.  I only have one day and one video left of Brave by Angela Thomas and I am doing The Story with a friend who can only meet twice a month, so it's not really as much as it sounds.  The third one is James by Beth Moore.  I'm only in the second week and I can tell I'm going to learn A LOT!!  I'm learning so much right now, and I am so blessed that I have this time to be at home and do these things.  I may not be able to stay at home forever.  I might have to find a job by next year depending on how things go, but for right now I'm right where I want AND need to be.  Thank you, God!!

What about you?  How would you answer that question?  There was a long time in my life that I would have had to say that there was nothing I was really passionate about.  Then there was a little bit of time where I would have had to say that my passions really had nothing to do with my role as a wife.  I am very blessed to have those things aligned right now.  Are you out of alignment?  Are there some changes you need to make?  Is there a conversation you need to have with your husband?  Or maybe you simply need to find a passion to begin with.  Whatever the case may be, pray about it first.  Ask God for His will to be done in this area and to not let your own ideas of passion outweigh what is really best for you.  That can be hard to do.  But trust me that I speak from experience in this area, and it was so worth the wait!

Until Next Time.....

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Make Your Own Ice Packs

Even though we don't have kids, we use a lot of ice packs.  If my husband has to travel, he likes to pack an insulated bag with drinks and snacks, and I get migraines quite often and ice packs help a lot.  Another fun thing if you have it on hand, is that you can use food coloring and make it any color you want.  If you do have kids that use ice packs, you could let them choose what color they want theirs to be.  Then there's no fighting over who gets to use the baseball one!

For my pack in the pic above, I doubled the recipe to have a bigger one.  With the recipe doubled there is more mass (or volume if want to get technical) and so feels a little more solid when your first take it out of the freezer.

1 1/2 C water
1/2 C rubbing alcohol
zip top freezer bag - quart size for regular, gallon size for double
a few drops of food coloring - optional

be sure to seal the bag well, and place in the freezer.  It's best if it can lay flat.  The rubbing alcohol keeps the water from freezing completely so it's more like a really stiff slush which is great when you want to wrap around your knee of a can of pop.

Until Next TIme.....

Monday, March 26, 2012

1 year to an Organized Life - March Week Four


This week you can:
  • create a working file system
  • learn how to organize paper in other creative ways
  • discover what goes on your desk and in your office space
here's my before pic again so you can get a feel for the difference.....

Well, what do you think?  So what was my $2.86 fix?  A can of spray paint!  That's right.  See those standing files on the right and the flat files on the left? (in the after pic)  I got those from some office surplus years ago and they were slate grey.  In case you can't tell, I like purple.  So I got a can of purple spray paint and my husband gave each of them about three coats.  They match and look like I got them as a set even though I actually got them two different places.  If you look closely at the file on the left you can see paper in each one.  That is actually 12X12 scrapbook paper cut down to fit the trays.  Sometimes when it's really humid something you have spray painted can get slightly tacky.  You may not even be able to feel it, but paper can stick to it slightly.  So in case that happens, I put this paper in each tray so if something does stick it will be the backside of this paper and not the info that I temporarily store in the trays.  I used a different pattern for each tray since each tray holds something different.  If you like uniformity, which I usually do, you could use all the same pattern.  I love all the space I have on my desk now.  It makes it easier to dust weekly, and if I want to get out a craft project I only have to push a few things to the side and I can start.

I also worked on the bins I have in the closet to the left of my desk, and some filing.  And of course, the things I decided to get rid of were either immediately recycled or priced for the yard sale and put into the yard sale bins downstairs.  I hope you read the chapter for this week because Regina clearly explains a great filing system that will make your life so much kidding!  Don't forget to look back at January part one in the book for more tips for success.  

If you have a ton of paper to go through, you've got to try the method she describes on pages 90 and 91.  What I have done before is clear off the dining room table and take all my paper to go through, a pen and a pad of post-it notes.  Also have your recycle bin and shredder right next to you.  Start going through each paper and either placing it in a pile which you will label with a post-it, or placing it in the recycle bin or shredder.  By the time you are done you might have piles all the way around the table with post-it notes in front of each one saying what it is, and everything else has gone in the bin or shredder.  Regina suggests taking a break right here before getting into the file system creation.  I think my favorite part of the whole filing system is having a different color for each person in the house.  At Target pharmacy, each person in the family gets a different color ring around the bottle that is prescribed for them.  So when Dad gets sick, you don't have to pick up each bottle and read each label, you can look for the ones with only the blue band and find his meds a whole lot faster.  The same goes for filing.  If you need to find something pertaining to Sara you know you only need to look in the purple folders.  So simple, so easy!

On page 94, Regina talks about the out of sight out of mind kind of person.  That has always been me, and it has only gotten worse as I have gotten older.  I tried a similar method at work like she described where you keep the files in the front of the drawer that you use all the time and I have forgotten things over and over.  So that is why I have the five tray file on the left of my computer.  Each one stands for something and I can see at a glance what I have to do or what I'm waiting on to finish.  For example, the top tray is for any filing, bills and receipts.  I do these things twice a week, and it's a handy place for my husband to drop his things.  He used to just put them on my desk, and you saw how that looked!  The next tray is "ongoing to do", the most frustrating for me.  This is the stuff that I can't finish and file.  I'm waiting on someone else to do something first.  The next one is for everything related to Franny and upcoming blog posts I need to work on.  As I finish them out of that tray they are then filed or recycled whatever the case may be.  The next one is ongoing bills....this is where I have gotten into trouble before.  I have certain bills that I have to remember to pay each month on time.  These are things that have yet to be on the electronic bandwagon and have special envelopes and invoices.  I can glance over and see what's in there, so I never forget again.  And the last one, for now is for my envelopes and labels.  Yes these could go in a drawer or one of the bins, but I've got that last tray for now so I'll use it.

The next section is dealing with the mail.  I used to have a hard time with this but no more!  I used to flip through it and grab the bills or what I wanted to look at and leave the rest on the table.  I might go look at that pile again a day or two later and add to it or pull something out that I said maybe I would look into.  But all that pile did was grow until it was taking over a good part of the table.  Then I had to take a day and finally go through it.  EVERY time I did there was always something that I was upset that I had overlooked and now it was too late.  Now what I do with the mail is first thing I sort it between mine and his...his goes on his placemat and he knows he has to follow the same rules I do when he gets home from work.  I then take out all junk and immediately put it in the recycle bin.  I open up all bills and put their envelopes in the recycle bin and put the bill in my top tray.  Anything else that I need to read goes on "my" end table next to "my" chair.  My recycle bin is under this table.  The next time I am sitting down to watch TV, I read stuff in this pile during the commercials (or through the show if it is a rerun or something my husband picked ;) and when I'm done put it in the recycle bin.  If it is something I need to act on, it goes in the proper file on my desk,  Mail done every day!!

Next section talks more about've really got to read it, it will help you so much!  Then on to desk items and placement of furniture.  

This week was a lot of work, but it was also the one I got the most benefit from in terms of ease of use of my space and visually.  We've only done three sections in the house and I already feel so much better about it I can't even put it into words!  It has been so rewarding so far that I can't wait to get to the rest of the book, even though one of the chapters deals with the garage!!

I hope you have a great week, and it would be awesome to see some of your before and after pics!  Happy organizing!!

Until Next Time.....

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cheeseball

1 8oz pkg cream cheese softened
1/2 C butter (do not substitute, use butter)
1/4 tsp vanilla
3/4 C powdered sugar
2 Tblsp brown sugar
3/4 C miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips
serve with graham crackers, Nilla wafers or other similar cookies

beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla until fluffy
gradually add sugars and beat until just combined
stir in chocolate chips
cover and refrigerate 2 hours
place on plastic wrap and shape into ball
refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving

Until Next Time.....

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Easy Oven Beef Bourguignonne

2 lb boneless beef cubed (I like chuck)
1/2 C flour
1 1/2 C sliced carrots
1 14oz can diced tomatoes
1 envelope onion soup mix
1/2 C water or beef broth
1 4oz can mushrooms, or fresh
1 8oz pkg noodles

preheat oven to 400
toss beef with flour
place in 2 1/2 - 3 qt casserole
bake uncovered for 20 minutes
add all ingredients except mushrooms, and stir
turn oven down to 375 or 350 depending on the heat of your oven (if it runs hot, do 350)
bake uncovered 1 1/2 hours or until beef is tender
(I stir it every 30 minutes)
stir in mushrooms and bake 10 more minutes
serve over hot cooked noodles

Until Next Time.....

Friday, March 23, 2012

Crock Pot Beef and Gravy

photo from the internet...I was just sure I had taken a picture!

1/3 C flour
3 pound roast (I used rump, also like chuck) or stew meat
1 Tblsp vegetable oil
3 cans cream of golden mushroom soup (or any cream of soup, really) I only used 2 cans
1 can cream of celery soup
1 envelope of onion soup mix

place roast in large zip top bag 
add flour and shake to coat
brown roast in oil on all sides (browning helps with the taste, but is optional)
place roast in 5 qt crock pot
stir together all soups
pour over roast
cover and cook on low 7-8 hours
great over mashed potatoes or noodles
if you want to make a whole meal, add carrots and potatoes to crock pot before the roast and add 1-2 hours cooking time

Until Next Time.....

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Menu #13 - "This" & "That"

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!

Make Ahead Meatballs & Spaghetti

Italian Meatball Soup & Grilled Cheese

Chicken Fricassee & Biscuits

Turkey & Wilde Rice Casserole (crock pot)

Peanut Butter Pancakes & Bacon

Random Dessert = Cream Cheese Cupcakes

Until Next Time.....

Potatoes Supreme

1 32oz bag cubed hash brown potatoes, thawed
1 small onion chopped
2 10oz cans cream of chicken soup (or cream of celery, mushroom, golden mushroom, etc)
1 8oz tub sour cream

preheat oven to 350
combine all ingredients in large bowl
spray 9X13 baking dish with non-stick spray
pour mixture into baking dish
cover and bake 1 hour
remove cover and bake another 10 minutes
optional: add parmesan cheese last 5 minutes

Until Next Time.....

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Proverbs 31 Wife - Week Twenty Six

Question #26: Sara struggles with identifying her role as a wife, mom, career woman and author.  She juggles a lot of titles and tries to make sense of how they all work together.  Have you ever struggled with titles you or someone else has put on you?  How did it affect you?

Wow.  Who among is has NOT struggled with one or all of the above at some time in our life?  I just got done reading an article about women and free time....which we don't have much of..... and even in the "modern" world with women working and finally some of them making equal salaries to men, we are still going a majority or all of the household chores and child rearing.  More women are on anti-depressants and/or anti-anxiety meds than ever before.  Yeah, we're struggling.

For me, I've only really had to struggle with being a career woman and wife.  No one acknowledges that I am a mother...ok so they are dogs, but think about it for a second.  It is like I have two perpetual toddlers.  I will always have to take them to the bathroom.  I will always have to check their poo to see if they are sick.  I will always have to take them for their exercise, I can't send them out to play alone or over to a neighbor's house for a sleepover.  Grama doesn't want them for a week in the summer.  I will always have to fix their meals, they can't pop something in the microwave or get something out of the fridge.  Like an infant, they can't tell me how they feel or if they are in pain, I have to guess from their behaviour.  No matter WHAT we have tried, the little one will always sleep with us every night eventually creeping up between us and then turning sideways.  My kids have to get shots every year for the rest of their lives.  My kids won't learn to take medicine without complaining, I will always have to trick them into it.  My kids will definitely die before me and break my heart.  Don't get me wrong, I know very well that human children can be a lot more work and a lot more expensive...a lot my heartache and a lot more joy.  I was a stepmother for a season.  But you can't deny the similarities for someone who treats their dogs as if they were real children.  I also hope I made you laugh a little!

Anyway, with my health, I struggled very hard with my career and my role as a wife and "mom".  If I did my job to the best of my ability, I did not have much time or energy left over for my family.  But I still had to somehow clean the house, pay the bills, run the errands, do the laundry, and cook meals.  As you know if you've been following very long, I just couldn't do it all.  And I decided that my family was more important than my career.  I had been told something by one of my bosses when I would get upset if my staff didn't do something and it made me look bad.  He said that there is only so much I can do, that worrying about it and ruining my health wasn't worth it and if I should happen to die in a car wreck on my way home, my office would still be running in the morning.  It would not shut down, it would continue on somehow, just like it was running before I ever came along.  It took me a few times of hearing that before it finally sunk in for me that my job was just not that important to me any more.  You might look at that as a reminder not to take too much personally and just do the best that you can and be happy to leave it behind when you go home.  I wish you could have seen the look on his face when I resigned and told him that he helped me to do it with his story.  You could see his wheels turning, "I'll be sure not to say that again."  It was kind of funny!

So I have heard from some people who say the husband should step up and do more.  You might even look at my list of chores and think the same thing, part of me did sometimes.  But then I have to remember what he does besides work all day and a lot of time bring work home and keep at it.  He mows the lawn, an acre by push mower.  He does the weed eating, cleans the gutters, trims trees and bushes, and fertilizes and plants grass seed, which for some reason we have had to do every year.  We don't have trash pick up, so he takes the garbage out and to the dump.  He fixes most everything around the house, and when he comes home, he takes over with the last two rounds of playing with the kids and their bathroom breaks.  He vacuums the stairs for me 'cause that kills me, and he bathes the kids.  When I cook he usually cleans the yucky pots and pans...ok sometimes I have to redo them, but he gets the worst off for me.  And as for the list of stuff that I do, well, plain and simply, I do those things better so why shouldn't I do them?  I'm the main cook, so I should get the groceries because I know what works and if they don't have it what would be a good substitution.  He is not as organized as I am, so I do a better job of paying the bills and keeping neat records.  I am also more meticulous about the small things than he is, so when I clean the house it is just cleaner than when he has tried to.  

At the same time, he is much better at the things he does.  The smell of that stuff in the gutters literally makes me lose my lunch, and if I try to mow the lawn, or even go outside right after it is done, I will have an asthma attack.  Same smell thing goes for the garbage that has been sitting outside in a closed bin for a week before going to the dump, plus I have a hard time lifting it over the edge of the bed of the truck.  

My suggestion to anyone is find out what works for you as a couple.  Each pair is different.  Maybe your husband can actually fold a shirt without looking like a 4 year old did it.  Maybe your husband is a better cook than you.  Maybe you are better at mowing the lawn, and he's much better with budgeting the money.  I don't believe in any set rules about our titles or what we should be doing.  My husband and I have been working on this for years, and we are almost perfectly balanced.  Some days I will have flared up with my FM or arthritis and he will have to do more, and then some days he will have had a bad day or long week and I'll do some of the things that he would have done and I'll tell him to watch some TV.  If you love each other and communicate well, it will eventually all fall into place.  But if we play the blame game, or go on strike because we do more work than they do, or something just as silly, it's not going to work.

Sit down with your husband and have this conversation if you are feeling overwhelmed.  Maybe your talk will have you taking something off of HIS plate.  Just remember, it's whatever works for you as a couple.  It won't happen over night, but like I said, with the right amount of communication, neither one of you should feel overwhelmed with your roles.  It's worth a shot!

Until Next Time.....

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Dirt Pudding

1 14oz bag Oreos
2 3.5oz pkgs french vanilla instant pudding
3 C milk
1 C powdered sugar
1 8oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1/4 C butter, softened
1 12oz tub cool whip

break cookies into small pieces
place 1/2 to 2/3 cookies on bottom of 3 qt casserole dish
whisk pudding and milk together and set aside
beat sugar, cream cheese and butter together in a separate bowl
stir together the pudding and cream cheese mixture
fold in cool whip
pour over cookies
top with remaining cookies
refrigerate at least 60 minutes before serving

Until Next Time.....

Monday, March 19, 2012

1 year to an Organized Life - March Week Three


This week you can:
  • clear out obvious paper clutter
  • stock up on appropriate office supplies
  • be sure to have a file box, holder or cabinet and all filing supplies for next week
I am loving the speed elimination rounds every month, do you?  This is the best way to get rid of the obvious stuff you don't need anymore.  Just don't think too hard, go with your gut instinct.  I'm getting pretty good at this.  

I know from comments I have gotten on the blog and through emails that most of you think I'm pretty organized.  Well, let the above pic burst that bubble for you!  Look at my desk.....and that is actually not too bad, it has been much worse!  I like to call it organized clutter (although Regina would probably roll her eyes!) believe it or not I do know exactly what is in each one of those piles.  But I don't like it.  So, I took everything off my desk and went through it.  I recycled about a ream of paper!  In those patterned three ring binders that you can see standing up behind my adding machine, I had all these ideas printed out for cards I could make with the stamp sets I have.  The only problem with that is, if you remember, last summer I got rid of a bunch of stamp sets.  I went from 3 binders down to one that's not even full. (this was before I had a computer that could hold a lot of pictures.  Now I get card ideas by saving the picture into different "albums" on iPhoto)

I also had a lot of books and other stuff piled on top of those drawers that hold my card stock.  I wanted more room on my desk, so I found a place for those things....or got rid of some of it.  My desk is rather large, but for the purpose of that room at this time, it works very well.  Plus it was free! It came from my husband's office.  It's one of those very sturdy metal desks that they made in the 50's or 60's to last.  It's got a laminate top that reminds me of a table in a diner, but it's great for crafts cause it's smooth and flat and easy to clean.  Of course the way it is, there is just too much to move to be able to use it for crafts.

The only shopping I had to do for next week's final organization is a can of spray paint.  Yep, spray paint.  I'm just going to leave you hanging on that one....tune in next week to see what I did that changed my home office A LOT for only $2.86!

Until Next TIme.....

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Bird's Nest Treats

1 pkg mini marshmallows
1 can chow mein noodles
1 stick butter
3 Tblsp peanut butter
1 pkg pastel peanut M&Ms or small jelly beans
(sorry that the pkgs don't have a weight, I've had this recipe forever and it never had them)

melt butter in a large saucepan
add marshmallows and stir until smooth
add peanut butter, stir
add noodles a little at a time until all mixed in
remove from heat
drop by spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet
either leave as drops or shape into nests
if nests, place M&Ms or jelly beans inside to look like eggs

Until Next TIme.....

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Accident Casserole

This is called accident casserole, because I was trying to make something else years ago when I realized I didn't have all of the ingredients, but I had already started.  So using what I had in the house, this is what it turned into.  It's great with any leftover meat, like chicken, turkey or ham....even pork.

1 16oz pkg frozen broccoli florets, thawed
2 cans cream of mushroom soup (one could be chicken)
2 soup cans of water
2 C uncooked minute rice (try the brown)
8oz Velveeta cubed (they have shredded now, and that's what I used last time)
2-3 C cooked chicken
12-14 townhouse or ritz crackers, crushed

preheat oven to 375
in large mixing bowl, mix all ingredients together except crackers
place mixture in 3 qt casserole dish, it will be very full
cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes
remove foil, stir to get cheese all mixed in, and top with cracker crumbs
bake uncovered another 15-20 minutes
let stand 5 minutes before serving

Until Next Time.....

Friday, March 16, 2012

Crock Pot Pork Tenderloin

1  2lb pork tenderloin, or two 1lb tenderloins
1 envelope onion soup mix, or make your own (see "and more" tab)
1 C water
3/4 C red wine (or beef broth)
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tblsp soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste

place tenderloin(s) in crock pot (whatever size you have to fit the meat you have)
sprinkle onion soup mix on top
pour in all liquid ingredients, and turn the pork to coat
spread garlic over pork so that it will stay on top while cooking
salt and pepper to taste
cover and cook on low 4-5 hours
use liquid as au jus

Until Next Time.....

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Menu #12 - A Taste of Everything

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!

Meat Hand Pies with beef

Pork Chop Skillet

Turkey Cassoulet

Spicy Cube Steaks

Sicilian Chicken soup (crock pot or stove top)

Random Dessert = Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Bars

Until Next Time.....

$8 or Less Recipe - Sloppy Casserole

1 lb ground beef, browned and drained
1 can manwich sauce
1 can cream of potato soup
1 32oz pkg cubed hash brown potatoes thawed

preheat oven to 450
to ground beef, add manwich and soup
place hash browns in greased 9X13 baking dish
top with beef mixture
cover and bake for 20 minutes
uncover and bake for 10 more minutes, topping with your favorite cheese if you like

Until Next Time.....

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Proverbs 31 Wife - Week Twenty Five

Question # 25: How hard is it to wait and trust God for something?  Describe a time you had to do just that.

I have to admit that I'm a do it now kinda girl, so the waiting thing, not really my cup of tea!  It's usually very hard for me to wait on God for anything, although I have to say that sometimes when I'm really prayerfully focused He gives me the peace and contentment I need to wait on His answer.

I have one that is a little too personal to share, but just to let you know it turned out AWESOMELY (of course!).  But I can tell you about deciding to retire early.

Retirement, that's what I like to call it, but that implies you get some kind of benefits and pension.  Since I got neither, what I really did was quit, which is a whole lot scarier.  My health had been going downhill rapidly for about 4 years.  All the while my job was getting harder and harder.  I had a staff of three and they took one away, yet I still had to do the same amount of work.  Then the next year they added more duties.  My doctor wanted me to quit then, but we couldn't financially at that time.  Then the year after that, they added even more duties.  I was already doing the work that two people used to do.  Now, I am a hard worker and I always want to do my best, but you cannot do the same level of quality work when another entire person's workload is added to yours!  Then I'm supposed to keep my statistics up, have an interesting program going, and then do duties outside of my work space.  Needless to say the last two years I worked, I would come home and almost crawl from my car to my recliner, put my feet up and my husband had to bring me dinner and medicine, then after awhile I would crawl to the bedroom to start the whole cycle again.  So that left the weekends to do everything that should be done for a whole week.  Shopping, errands, bill paying, cooking, cleaning, laundry, and I would have to do extra of some of those things to last into the week. I know that some of you have weekends like this all the time, but I was doing it like I weighed 600 pounds and had cement shoes.

I wanted to quit when my doctor told me to, but I worked two more years.  During that time I prayed so hard for God to either deliver me from my illness, or somehow make us "rich" enough for me not to work.  He gave me practical answers during that two year wait, and He gave me some vague "it'll be ok" kind of answers.  During that time, these were some of the things He told me to do: I sold my car, I had a huge yard sale, we scaled back on some things like getting rid of the home phone, I did a better job of meal planning and coupon cutting, and as much as we could we tried to live on just my husband's income thereby saving almost two years of mine in the bank.  We knew it was time for me to go when the next year not only was I going to have to keep up all the added things from the past three years, but I was then going to be in charge of another club, AND a very busy committee.  God spoke very clearly when He said "it's time to go!"

I still am waiting on some answers from God in this whole situation.  This is only my first school year at home so I'm still getting used to things.  I worry still about money, we have to keep on a very tight budget to make things work.  I worry about what will happen when my insurance runs out.  But even though those worries creep in from time to time, I know that God will take care of me.  He spoke to me and comforted me too much to think that He would just let us fail now.  No way!  That was a very hard couple of years, but I am so much of a better person because of it, and I bet that's what God had in mind all along.

Until Next Time.....

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tool Tuesday - Multiple Crock Pots

Yep, I have three crock pots, 2.5 qt, 4.5 qt, and 6.5 qt.  Good for a couple reasons.  First the different sizes.  Your pot is supposed to be at least half full.  If I were making meatballs, peppers and onions in the big 6.5 qt, stuff would burn at the edges because there is empty space.  Also not good for the crock liner to get hot without anything  or enough in it.  It will crack....let's just say that I speak from experience. I would really like to have a 3.5qt, if they make that size.  I have a couple things that were too big for the smallest and not quite enough for the next size up.

The second reason, when I am power cooking I can have three pots going at once.  For example, when I get whole chickens on sale sometimes I like to go ahead and roast them in the crock pot and then make stock.  I strip the meat and will vacuum seal it and freeze it.  Then I'm ready when I need a quick meal as the meat is already cooked. If one of my chickens is small enough, I can have one in all three pots, actually I can get two in the 6.5qt.  

Another good thing about having these was Thanksgiving and Christmas....and any other time I have a big get together.  You can get side dishes going in these to free up oven and stove space.  It also saves time and it's a lot easier to get everything to be done all at the same time.  

These were not that expensive, you can get them now for less than $20, and the small ones for around $10.  My big one was a little more pricey because it's digital and has a timer and automatically switches to warm when done.  A good investment all the way around, I think!

Until Next Time.....

Monday, March 12, 2012

1 year to an Organized Life - March Week Two

I found these chore charts at Staples (an office store) and also saw a little smaller one at Target.

This week you can:
  • learn how to be an effective multitasker
  • delegate chores and tasks to others
  • say no with ease and add power to your yes
  • learn to visualize your goals
  • tame your electronic pests
I am so glad Regina is addressing multitasking!  I have had a problem with this ever since I first heard the term years ago as other people started defining it.  Talking on the phone while answering an email is not what I would call multitasking.  Oh I know a lot of people do, but those are the kind of people I like to call "wrong".  You are actually doing three people a disservice with that activity.  You cannot be giving your full attention to the phone call, you cannot be giving your full attention to the email, and you will eventually make mistakes from not having your full attention on something.  

Real multitasking is EXACTLY how Regina describes it this week.  One activity is somewhat suspended while you do the second.  Perfect example; right now I am writing this blog post while the dryer is running.  Later today, I will still be working on the blog while more laundry is going AND dinner is cooking in the crock pot.  Technically I am doing three things at once, but I do not need to stare at the dryer or the crock pot, thereby giving my full attention to typing.  I really like the other ideas she gives too.  Always take something with you to read or write while waiting somewhere like the doctors office or for an oil change.  Always be doing something while watching TV.  I like to take this time to go through mail and then put it in the recycle bin right next to my chair when I'm done.  Also, if you stand up and march during the commercials, if you raise your feet 6-12 inches from the floor and swing both arms, you can burn about 150 calories in 25 minutes!

Learning to delegate was hard for me, but I mastered it a few years back.  I always thought that no one could do it as good as I could, so I might as well do it myself.  Unfortunately that still happens when the person I delegated to did a half way job, but for the most part it has really helped out.  The above pics are chore charts for the whole family combined with appointments and meals.  A great way to have all the family info in one spot.  Teach your kids how to do a chore then assign it to them and take one thing off your plate.  Most kids could unload a dishwasher, or put towels away, or maybe dust or run the vacuum.  You'll also be helping them learn responsibility, always a good thing!

Next, it's time to learn to say no to doing way too many things and that also means learning to control email and phones.  You don't have to answer every single thing the second it comes in, you will drive yourself crazy.  Maybe you need to make a schedule.  For example, you'll work for two straight hours then while having a snack you'll check emails.  And while you are at it schedule in ME time and FAMILY time.  You DO NOT have to say yes to everything everyone asks of you.  These two things can be hard to learn in this hurry, hurry world.  I'll let that sink in for you and you find what works for you.

Until Next Time.....

Sunday, March 11, 2012

1 Thing for Multiple Meals - Make Ahead Meatballs

Make Ahead Meatballs can be stored in the freezer and then you just pull out what you need.  This is a great recipe to make on power cooking day.  You can be roasting chickens in the crock pot while making these meatballs, then you'll have lots of meat ready to grab from the freezer and make a quick weeknight meal.  Here are just a few ideas for your meatballs.  You can also sub meatballs for ground beef in a lot of your favorite recipes.

Italian Meatball soup  great with grilled cheese

Meatball Chili Mac  great with a Caesar salad

Meatball Stew  great with a crusty bread

Meatball Stroganoff  great over rice OR buttered noodles

Until Next Time.....

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Chicken Noodle Skillet

1 Tblsp oil
1 lb chicken cut into bite size pieces
1/2 C chopped onion
1-1/2 C frozen broccoli florets (or more)
1 C uncooked egg noodles (or more)
14oz chicken broth
1 can cream of chicken soup

in large skillet cook onion and chicken
add all ingredients
stir well
heat to boil
reduce heat and cover
simmer 10 minutes
simmer 5-8 more minutes or until noodles are tender

Until Next TIme.....

Chocolate Eclair Dessert

Pic from Taste of Home

This recipe is a small version, it only serves 4.  It can easily be doubled and put in an 8X8 pan.

9 graham cracker squares
1/2 C cold milk
1/3 C instant vanilla pudding
1/2 C cool whip

1 Tblsp semi sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 tsp butter
2 1/4 tsp milk
1 1/2 tsp light corn syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/3 C powdered sugar

cut crackers in half making 18 rectangles
place 9 crackers in a loaf pan (8X4)
in small bowl whisk milk and pudding mix for 2 minutes
let stand 2 minutes
fold in cool whip
spread over graham crackers
add remaining crackers on top
in microwave safe bowl, melt chocolate chips and butter
stir in rest of ingredients 
spread over graham crackers
cover and refrigerate overnight

Until Next Time.....

Friday, March 9, 2012

Crock Pot French Dip Sandwiches

photo from Betty Crocker

1 3 lb boneless beef chuck roast, or similar cut - trimmed
1 can french onion soup
1 can beef consomme
1 can beef broth
1 tsp beef bullion granules
8-10 French or Italian cut rolls

halve roast and place in crock pot
combine rest of ingredients (not rolls) and pour over roast
cover and cook on low 6-8 hours or until meat is tender
remove meat and shred with two forks
serve on rolls
skim fat from cooking liquid and serve as dipping sauce

Until Next Time.....

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Chicken Fricassee Over Biscuits

The original version of this recipe was from an old Emeril show

1 whole roasted chicken (could use a rotisserie chicken, or try THIS RECIPE)
4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled (in large skillet saving fat in the skillet)
2 Tblsp unsalted butter
1/2 lb sliced mushrooms
1 onion chopped
salt and pepper to taste
3 Tblsp flour
3 C chicken stock (or canned broth)
1 tsp thyme
14oz can petite diced tomatoes Or equivalent of cut up fresh
8 large biscuits (homemade or in the can)

debone chicken and tear into large bite size pieces
add butter to the bacon fat in the skillet (I took out some of the bacon fat)
when melted, add mushrooms and cook until soft and slightly brown on the edges about 4 min
add onion, salt and pepper and cook until onions are wilted about 2 min
add flour and cook and stir until flour is medium brown 
add stock and thyme cooking and stirring occasionally until sauce is thickened and smooth 10-15 min
add tomatoes and cook until they begin to break down and the sauce is a nice consistency 10-15 min
add chicken pieces and cook until warmed through 5-10 min
to serve, ladle over hot split biscuits

Until Next TIme.....

Menu #11 - A Mix of New and Traditional

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!

Meatloaf with side Buttered New Potatoes (crock Pot)

Steak Fajitas (crock pot)

Mushrooms and Wild Rice

Pork Stew (crock pot)

Breakfast Pizzas

Random Dessert = Hot Fudge Brownies (crock pot)

Until Next TIme.....

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Proverbs 31 Wife - Week Twenty Four

Question #24:  Do you agree with Sara that the wife is the thermostat of the home?  Why or why not?  If you had to assign a temperature to yourself, what would it be?  Why?  What do you wish it would be?

Yes, totally agree with Sara on this one.  My husband just told me the other day that he’s stressed when I’m “mad” at him.  So if I give off those kind of vibes it changes my husband’s mood and attitude.  And I'm sure you have heard the saying "if momma ain't happy, ain't NO ONE happy"!  An upset wife upsets the harmony of the home...of course the same could be said for a grumpy husband, but we're here to work on ourselves.  We should set the tone not only in our demeanor and attitude, but the tidiness and overall look of the home.  I know I sound a little like a 1950's home-ec textbook there, but it's just the plain ol' truth.  And I firmly believe that is what God wants from us as well.  That being said, wait til you read the next part.

If I had to assign a temperature to myself it would probably be medium-high….and not just because of the hot flashes!  I do tend to get upset more quickly than I wish I would.  Just the other day I had a nice dinner planned to be ready when my husband came home.  I was kneading dough and my mom called…I ignored the phone but tensed up about it.  Then he called and I answered the phone with doughy hands.  He was going to be late because of a wreck (not him, just one on the road).  But given what I was making I had to keep going and because of the interruptions I forgot two extra things that I wanted to do with the recipe leaving it very bland.  Because I was so worried about getting this done, I hadn’t eaten in quite some hours, so by the time my husband got home I was very “grumpgry” and it wasn’t a very good time or meal.  All because of me really.  It could have turned out so much better if I would have just had a better attitude or not worried about it so much.  In other words, sometimes I try too hard to be "perfect" and when it doesn't work out I get mad.  And when I get mad everyone around me knows it.  I blame it on the red hair!  Just kidding, it's a very bad habit of mine that is taking years to work on.  

So needless to say I wish I was more medium-low or simmer.  I like being a little sassy.  I don't want to turn into someone who just looks at the floor all the time and never stands up for herself (only when necessary) or is too wishy-washy.  My husband likes my spunk too, only just not when it goes too far.  After all, a little heat in a marriage is a good thing….just not a forest fire!

Until next Time.....