Wednesday, December 30, 2009

4 months

This picture was uploaded from my phone, and, unfortunately, it's a little grainy, but it's just too cute not to share!!!

Our sweet pea is such a hap-hap-happy, sweet, mellow, smiley baby!!

At 4 months, she:

  • is cooing, squealing, and "talking" like crazy

  • rolls over both ways

  • has already found her toes

  • is grasping and playing with toys all the time

  • can giggle with the best of them

  • sleeps about 12 hours straight every night

  • loves sleeping on her tummy now!

She is such a precious, sweet light in our lives!!

Such a blessing!


In preparation for January's "Eating from the Pantry Challenge,"  I'm doing a big overhaul and inventory of all of our food!!!

I am very blessed to have lots of freezer space and storage in our home.   We have 4 freezers:  3 large, full-size ones, one over-the-fridge freezer, and another smaller over-the-fridge freezer.  Our refrigerator/freezer combo in our kitchen is a mini one, so we also have a full-size refrigerator in the garage, too!  Phew!  Lots of place where food can hide or get lost!!  And, by the way, they're all FULL!!

I also have 3 main areas (pantry/cupboards) where I store all of our non-perishables, canned goods, etc, as well as the many drawers and cupboards that are full in the kitchen.

The more I have looked through all of this, the more I realize that this challenge might not be too much of a challenge, after all!!  Meaning:  I HAVE LOTS OF FOOD!!!!! The challenging part will be coming up with innovative and creative ways to use it all, and staying OUT of the Grocery Stores!

So, with that said, I have come up with some goals for this month's Challenge that I hope I can achieve!!

Goals for the Month of January (and, hopefully, beyond!):

1.  Plan and prepare a Menu Plan for the ENTIRE month of January.  (To be done by 1/3/10)

2.  Decrease our usual $400/month budget to just $100 this month.

3.  Only go to the store for FREE or nearly FREE items, as well as fresh fruit/veggies and dairy.  If need be, I will THROW THE ADS AWAY when they come each week.  (It's much easier if I don't look at them!!)  I have this fear that I'll miss some amazing deal.......well, so what?!

4.  Put any extra money saved on Groceries this month (and the entire year), into a Disneyland Fund.  We are hoping to take a trip to Disneyland in about 2 years, so here's where the savings for this trip will start!

5.  And, finally, collect all the free, or nearly free, items that I have accumulated that I am sure we will NOT be eating, and donate them.

I am super excited about this challenge, and I hope you are feeling encouraged and motivated to take another look at what you have, how you can use it, and how you can save money!!!

Monday, December 28, 2009


Hope you all had a super BLESSED Christmas!!!!

Whew!!  Boy, am I feeling very, very behind!!!!  It's been a wonderful time with family down in T-town, but, wow, such a whirlwind!!!  We ended up staying for one extra day than we thought, so, the kids and I just now got home!  Five nights away from home with 3 wee ones can cause a little stress!  (Especially in the sleeping/napping category!!!)

The car is still packed to the brim, (I'm going to wait until Mark gets home to help me with most of that!), the kids are as cranky as ever, (lack of sleep and a good dose of sugar will do that to most anyone!) and the house is colder than COLD!  (That's the frugal in me.....I turned the heat OFF before we left, but I think I see icicles growing on my cats' whiskers!!!)

It's going to take me awhile to get my bearings, start the unpacking, check my 400 emails, get some laundry in, catch up on Facebook (5 days without looking at it---Oh, the horrors!!!), chisel at the icicles, and get WARM---- so I will be back in, oh, say.......24 hours or so!

So, for now, let me just say that I am definitely going to be joining LIFE AS MOM  and MONEY SAVING MOM on the EATING FROM THE PANTRY CHALLENGE.  Check it out and see what you can do to cut back and scale down your grocery spending for the month of January.  I'll be taking a BIG inventory of all my freezers, cupboards and pantry, and will be back later this week for goals and ways to accomplish them.  (hopefully!!)

For now, here's our *tentative* Meal Plan for the week:

Monday:  Meatloaf (freezer), Mashed Potatoes, Corn

Tuesday:  Potato Soup (freezer), Pumpkin Rolls (freezer), Fruit

Wednesday:  Frozen Flatbread Pizzas, Salad, Smoothies

Thursday:  Toss up-----not sure of our plans for New Year's Eve

Friday:  Shredded Beef Taco Salads

Remember, if you want more Menu Planning inspiration, just check out I'M AN ORGANIZING JUNKIE!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Menu Plan Monday----a no go

Hey folks!  Welcome to Monday and an early MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL!!!

I'm going to bypass Menu Planning this week, because tomorrow is the only night that I'll be here, at home!  Tonight I work an oh-so-fun shift from 5:30pm-1:00am!  Oh, how I'm looking forward to this one!!!  (NOT!)  Mark will be flying solo with the kiddos tonight and this will be the first time Anna will be put down to bed without me here......*sniff sniff*......but, I've pumped a lot of milk and I hope she doesn't have too difficult of a time!!  Pray for a smooth evening for the little one!

Tomorrow will be a day full of packing, baking, laundry, packing, gift wrapping, packing, laundry, gift wrapping and more packing!!  We're heading down to T-town on Wednesday afternoon to spend a lovely, fun, and joyous Holiday with everyone on my side of the family.  We can't wait!!!!!

That being said, this will be my last post until next Monday.  I'm going to take a little "breakety-break from my bloggy-blog!"

Hope you all are not too stressed out, and that you remember the TRUE meaning of Christmas!!

Oh, by the blog has officially surpassed 10,000 hits!  For some, that is not much, but for a newbie blogger like myself, that's VERY humbling!!  Thank you all for taking your precious time to come visit my blog!

Love to you all this wonderful Christmas Season and I'll see you back here next Monday!

Here's a little picture to send you off with.  We celebrated Christmas with my husband's side of the family yesterday, and I couldn't help but share this priceless picture:

From left to right:

Mark's Dad, Mark's Mom holding Ava and Anna, Mark's sister holding Luke, and Mark's Bro-in-Law holding their daughter.

Soooooo cute!!


Saturday, December 19, 2009


For those of you who don't know who Jennifer Knapp is----you should get to know her.

At least, get to know her music.

She is truly one of my favorite artists of all time, and I have recently read that she is working on another album!!! Yes!!

If you are a follower of my blog, then you'll know that I love music, and I'm truly and genuinely moved by it.

This song, Trinity, is no exception.

It often makes me well up with tears.

I wanted to share this great video with you.

I truly can't believe that God has never given up on me---and He never will.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Thank You Cards

I might be embarking on some controversial Thank You card territory.....

But, I'm gonna go there.

I have never been the best at writing Thank You cards, and often times, writing Thank Yous stresses me out!!  I'm not quite sure why, other than the reason that it often seems too daunting and time-consuming to put pen to paper and write out multiple Thank Yous that don't sound too contrived.  I have trouble finding the time (making the time??) to find all the addresses for the peeps, making sure I have enough stamps for all of them, and then, either, getting them into the mailbox or to the Post Office in a timely and effective manner.  Maybe I'm alone on this one, but I almost always feel pressure and anxiety!

Now, don't get me is definitely NOT because I'm ungrateful for anything that I have received, my family has received, or my children have received.  That is absolutely NOT the reason.  Quite the opposite, actually.

As soon as we receive things, for whatever occasion it might be for, I am very good at writing down what everyone gave us and am very good about keeping that list in PLAIN SIGHT so that I will remember to write Thank Yous.  Unfortunately, that list gets looked over, sometimes, for weeks and weeks until I feel sooooooo guilty for not getting them out, that, sometimes, I just don't even want to start them at all!!

I sound a little lazy, don't I?

For the record, though, I have eventually gotten Thank You cards out for most things that we have received-----everything?  No.  I gotta be honest.  I know that there are things that I have missed writing a Thank You for.  Does that mean I'm ungrateful?  No.  Does that mean I don't care?  No.  Does that mean I don't remember the wonderful, generous, thoughtful gift someone gave me?  No.  It simply means that, for whatever reason, I didn't get a Thank You out.

I'm sure the etiquette police will arrest me for what I'm about to say, but I gotta say it:

It's OK if you don't write a Thank You.


I said it.

But, that doesn't mean you still shouldn't say Thank You---in some form or another, if you can.

So, if you're like me, and Thank You cards tend to stress you out, here are a few of my ideas for thanking someone in a little more FRUGAL and less stressful way:

1.  Tell them in person.

Why does it seem as though thanking someone in person, maybe on the day you open the gift, is not enough??  Again, I don't want to sound ungrateful at all, I'm just thinking aloud here........If I open a gift in front of someone, say, for my birthday or Christmas, why is thanking them, right then and there, not enough?  In my humble opinion---it should be.

2.  Call them.

I would never balk at someone calling me and thanking me for something, instead of writing a Thank You card.  To me, it shows that they put thought and effort into it, and made it a point to thank me.

3.  Use Technology.

In this extremely technological era, I find it very appropriate to thank someone via, EMAIL---yes I said it----or, via Facebook---yes, I went there, too---or even a super nice and thoughtful E-card.  Often times E-cards seem a lot less daunting, because you can write it more quickly, you don't have to find home addresses, and you don't need a stamp or a post office to send it.  It's a super frugal, easy, yet, still thoughtful way to send a Thank You.

Here are a few sights that I like:

Blue Mountain


Day Spring


4.  Combine your thoughts of Thanks.

Again, I might get caught by the etiquette police, but,in my opinion, I don't think it's such a terrible thing to combine Thank Yous.  For example:  Mother's Day and my birthday fall on the same month.  I have been known to send out one Thank You card for both of those occasions----is this following proper etiquette??  Probably not.  My feeling is, though, that however you say it-----at least you did!  :-)

Don't get me wrong, here.......I will still write handwritten Thank Yous---I know how wonderful it is to get something in the mail!!  It's great!!  BUT, I will sprinkle in some other forms of thanks, as well.   I truly believe that other ways of saying Thank You are just as good, and just as thoughtful.

And, a couple notes to the givers (myself included):

If someone happens to forget to send you a Thank You, in any format, they are probably still super thankful!!  Some of us are just better at sending out Thank Yous than others-------and that's OK.

The bottom line, is:

"Give as if you're giving to the Lord."

Don't expect a Thank You, don't get upset if you don't get one, don't think that person is ungrateful, or doesn't care.  Simply revel in the fact that you gave a nice, thoughtful, wonderful gift and the person receiving it is probably extremely grateful and thankful----whether they tell you that, or not.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Welcome back to another Monday, folks!!

Just 11 days until Christmas!!  This is such a magical, warm and lovely time of year!!!  Love it!!

It was another busy weekend in our household.......I was up at 4am on Saturday morning to work my 5:45-2:45 shift---Whew!!  It was craziness!!  Loved it though, it made the day go by veeeeerrrrrry quickly!!

Right after that, Mark met me at the mall with the kids and we got Ava's 4 year pictures taken and Anna's "newborn" pictures taken.  (I know.....she's 3 months old!!!!  We're a little behind.)  The kids did WONDERFULLY; No crying, no pouting, nothing.  Just all smiles!!  We ordered some great shots!

Then, we wanted to get their picture taken with Santa!!  We weren't quite sure how that was going to turn out.....they were infatuated looking at him, but when we asked them if they wanted to sit on his lap, they shook their heads very vigorously; NO!!!  BUT, the more they saw Santa with other kids and knew that all three of them were going to sit on his lap together---they were IN!!  I wish I would have taken a picture with my camera phone, because it is just about the cutest picture!!  All of them are "all smiles" and sitting so sweetly on Santa's lap.  After we were done, Luke said, "Mommy, Santa's a really good guy.....he's a good neighbor!!"

Since I don't have the Santa picture to show you, take a look at this cute one of my trio I took the other day.  It's rare that all are looking at the camera at the same time!!!  :-)

We did tons of shopping Saturday night and had dinner at Red Robin.  I was sooooo proud of the kids--they were GREAT!!!  Yesterday was one of our "cookie-baking-extravaganzas!!"  It's been so fun baking, sprinkling, mixing, cutting and EATING some yummy goodies!!  I have quite a bit more baking/cooking to do, but this was a great, fun start!!

Menu planning comes in especially handy during this time of year!  It's easy to get caught up in all the hub-bub and throw your planning out the window, but keep it up!  You'll thank yourself later!!  :-)

This week is pretty simple for us:

Monday:  Tuna Noodle Casserole (freezer), Salad, Buttermilk biscuits

Tuesday:  Pork Chops, Baked Potatoes, Peas

Wednesday:  Spicy Lentil Soup (freezer), Pumpkin Rolls (freezer)

Thursday:  Homemade Lasagna, French Bread, Salad

Friday:  Eat out

Here's to another great week!!!

For more menu planning inspiration, check out I'm An Organizing Junkie!

Friday, December 11, 2009

More Vaccine Truths

Right now, my heart and soul is focused on learning the TRUTH about Vaccines.

ONE side of the "vaccine debate"  has been told to me/us by Doctors, the CDC, the Media, the FDA, the Government----people we are supposed to TRUST.  They tell us vaccines are safe, they don't cause damage, and that there's no link to Autism or other disorders.

In my recent research and constant studying of vaccines, I have found quite the opposite.

I am EXTREMELY passionate about this topic, because, at 2.5 years old, my daughter was diagnosed with a Neurological Disorder--Speech Apraxia.  After much research, I have found that she, also, has many symptoms of ADHD, as well.  Speech Apraxia falls on the Autistm Spectrum---Ava does not have Autism, but most children with Autism have Speech Apraxia.

Also, my 3.5 month old daughter, Anna, had horrific reactions after her 2 month shots-----Extreme fever, red blotches all over her body and convulsions.  When I took her into the Doctor the next morning, I was told this was normal.  NORMAL?!?!?!?!  A 103 degree fever, nasty blotches everywhere and convulsions (SEIZURES!!) was normal?!?!?!?

I was angry.

I have since been on a mission to find out the truth..........and frankly, I'm fired up.

I will continue to post information as I find it.  YOU have to make the decision that's right for yourself and your family.  I'm not here telling you what to do----I'm here giving you facts and information that you may, otherwise, not have thought about or known about.

Here's some information I received from and

Did you know:

  • Aluminum, formaldehyde and mercury are extremely toxic substances with a long history of documented hazardous effects.  Studies confirm again and again that microscopic doses of these substances can lead to cancer, neurological damage and death.  YET, EACH OF THEM MAY BE FOUND IN CHILDHOOD VACCINES.

  • Vaccines are NOT necessarily Mandatory.  Check out your state's laws and exemptions.

  • Studies of the EFFECTS of toxins in vaccines, along with multiple vaccines given at one time has NEVER been studied or tested on a HUMAN.  You know why???  It's unethical.

  • France suspended its use of the Hepatits B vaccine because of its association with Multiple Sclerosis and SIDS.

  • Polio vaccines are incubated in monkey kidneys.  During the 1950s and 1960s more than 60 million people received vaccines that were contaminated with SV-40, a well-documented cancer-causing virus.  Take a look at today's cancer rates after 30 to 40 years of mandatory vaccines.

  • Here are some other ingredients in vaccines that you may not have been aware of:

    1. Aborted Human fetal cells

    2. Animal Organ tissue and blood (eg--monkey, cow, chicken, sheep, pig and dog)

    3. Contaminent Animal Viruses (eg--SV40, which causes cancer in humans)

    4. Mutated, (more virulent) human viruses

    5. Bacterial endotoxins

    6. Genetically modified yeast

    7. Latex

    8. Animal bacterial and viral DNA

  • The amount of vaccines has increased dramatically

    • 1950---3 vaccines

    • 2009---25 vaccines by 6 months, 36 vaccines by 18 months, 43 vaccines by 4-6 years, 68 vaccines by 11-12 years.  As the number of childhood vaccines has increased 700%, the prevalence of Autism has also showed a parallel increase of 700%, and Asthma has MORE than doubled.

  • There has never been a controlled study of vaccinated children vs. non-vaccinated children.

  • Autism is 1 in 67 children today and it's IMPOSSIBLE to have a genetic epidemic!

  • In 1991 the CDC recommended that all infants get their first Hepatits B vaccination just hours after birth.  This disease is mostly spread from DIRTY NEEDLES and UNPROTECTED SEX, yet a new born infant needs the vaccine??

  • Thimerosal is still in vaccines that are currently on the market today, including:  most Flu Vaccines, Tetanus and Boosters, Menangitis vaccines and Diptheria-Pertussis vaccines.  Thimerosal is a KNOWN NEURO-TOXIN.

"If you inject Thimerosal into an animal, its brain will sicken.  If you apply it to living tissue, the cells die.  If you put it in a petri dish, the culture dies.  Knowing these things, it would be shocking if one could inject it into an infant without causing damage."

---Dr. Boyd Haley, mercury toxicity expert

  • In 2005, United Press studied the Amish community, where children are NOT VACCINATED.  Statistically, there should have been 130 autistic children.  However, there were NO CASES of autism in the unvaccinated population.

Some food for thought:

If half a dozen people throughout the nation were to experience severe gastrointestinal distress following the ingestion of Aspirin or Tylenol, the FDA would consider recalling those products immediately.  Yet, every year an average of 12,000-14,000 adverse events following the administration of vaccines---including hospitalizations, brain damage, and death---are reported to the FDA.  (The FDA admits that that is only about 10% of the total amount of adverse effects reported!!!!)----YET, with this vast amount of adverse effects being reported, the FDA refuses to investigate a SINGLE CASE.

Do you consider this curious?????

"The greatest lie ever told is that vaccines are safe and effective."  ----Dr. Len Horowitz

"Tell a lie loud enough and long enough and people will believe it."  ----Adolf Hitler

"We have not lost faith, but we have transferred it from God to the medical profession."  ----George Bernard Shaw

I'm NOT, I repeat, NOT here to tell you what decision to make for your family.  I am here to give you FACTS and a new perspective on vaccines, if you've never looked into this before.  This is not medical advice.   Do with this information what you will.  To vaccinate or not vaccinate is a super important, personal and difficult decision that should not be taken lightly.  My urging to you is to do your own research, investigate, find more truths------EDUCATE BEFORE YOU VACCINATE!!!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Thin Mints

If you're looking for an incredibly EASY and TASTY cookie to incorporate into your Holiday Baking this year, then look no further!!

These little tasty morsels will knock your socks off, and no one will believe they are made with only TWO ingredients!!

Here's what you need:

  • Ritz Crackers

  • Andes Mints:  I couldn't find the actual mints--the individually wrapped ones----but I found these.  They were much easier!!  (Less unwrapping to do!)

Here's how you make them:

  • Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper.

  • Boil some water in a saucepan and place a double boiler on top.  (I don't have a double boiler, so I simply use one of my glass mixing bowls.)

  • Pour your mints in:

  • Once mints start to melt, keep stirring them until they are all fully melted.

  • Grab 2 Forks and drop in a Ritz (or 2!):

  • Fully coat the Ritz with the Chocolate

  • Once it's coated, use the two forks to grip the cracker to let any excess chocolate drip off, and transport to your parchment lined pan.  Continue this process with the rest of the crackers.

  • Once done, flash freeze your Thin Mints until chocolate is firmly set, remove from parchment and store in the refrigerator or freezer.

It's THAT easy, folks!!

Soooooo simple and sooooooo good!!

Frugal Stocking Stuffer Ideas

Stocking Stuffers can be an expense that REALLY adds up!!  Even the "cheap" Dollar store or Bargain deals can get expensive.....especially if you're filling multiple stockings!  So, here are some ideas that I came up with to save you some cash on stuffing your stockings this year:

  • Print out word searches, puzzles and coloring pages.  Roll them up together, tied with ribbon.  THIS site is great!  What a neat, and FREE stocking stuffer!

  • Make your own playdough---We'll be doing this, this year!!  Here's a great site for a recipe---HERE

  • What do you have in your STOCKPILE around your house that you can package up, separately, and give as stocking stuffers???  You may be able to find everything you need, right in your own cupboards!  On our side of the family, we buy stocking stuffers for everyone, adults and kids, so I'm looking through my cupboards looking for frugal, practical options!  Obviously, you don't want to give gifts to people, just because you have it on hand--whether they like it or not.  You want to be thoughtful and frugal at the same time.  Here are a few ideas I came up with for Adults and Kiddos:

  1. Cereal/Crackers/Cookies---A nice, colorful Ziploc bag of Fruit Loops, Cheerios, Goldfish crackers or Animal Cookies will delight almost any child!

  2. Candy---Did you snag a good deal on Candy and still have it?  (At my house, that doesn't happen to often.....I mean, the "still having it" part.  I'm a CANDYAHOLIC!)  Bundle some pieces together for a great stuffer.  Or, do you/your kids have perfectly good Halloween Candy left?  Throw it in the stocking!

  3. Razors---I buy my Razors in Bulk.  Since I know my sisters shave their legs, (at least, I think they do!!!) I could tie a few razors together with some ribbon, throw in some shaving cream, and voila--great, useful and practical stocking stuffers!

  4. Granola Bars---I recently got an amazing deal on Granola Bars and have 12 boxes in my cupboards!  Take 3 bars, tie them up with ribbon---there you go!

  5. Bars of Soap

  6. FRUIT!  Growing up, my parents always put a Tangerine in the bottom of our stocking.  If you're trying to take up some room, put in an Orange AND an Apple!!

  7. Juice Boxes---Most kids I know drink Juice, and recently I stocked up on an amazing juice box deal.  Tie two juices boxes together with ribbon.

  8. I also have quite a stockpile of toiletry items that I got for free, or nearly free.  Items like Deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, etc.  I don't know many adults who wouldn't like to find these practical items in their stocking!

  • Save all your freebies, free samples, and almost-free items----Remember Free Chocolate Fridays?  Did you save your Candy Bars??  ( either.)  But, that's an awesome way to stuff some stockings.  Sign up for Free Samples all throughout the year and stash them away!  Your kids will never know the difference!

  • Scour Thrift stores and Garage Sales----I have oodles of little odds and ends of things that I give my kids from time to time throughout the year.  I don't give too many used items as gifts to others outside of my family, but my kids don't know the difference and love them just the same!  You can also find NEW items at Thrift stores for very little money:  Crayons, paper, pencils, stickers, toys, stuffed animals, books, socks, etc!

  • What about homemade goodies?  It can be a crafty item, food item, fun item, etc!!

And, hey.....who says you have to overload the stockings??!!  It's always a great idea to stick to a certain gift/candy limit, too! could always invest in smaller stockings!!!  :-)

Monday, December 7, 2009

One More Time

During this joyous time of year, where light is ever-present, there are some of us going through some dark times right now.

I am reminded of the devastating tragedy that happened close to home:  4 police officers where shot to death----in cold blood.  All of them leaving behind spouses and children.

What an amazingly sad and traumatic time for those families.

We have all been through rough times and we will surely go through more, but, when tragedies like this do happen, how do we face tomorrow??

I don't necessarily have the answer to that question, but I know that God tells us that He will never leave us, nor forsake us.  He will never give us more than we can handle, and He is faithful to hear our prayers.

Listen---turn your volume up---to this AMAZING song by an AMAZING group:  The Katinas.  They are a group of five brothers , with amazing voices, and an amazing heart for Jesus.  This is the abridged version of this song, but the words are so powerful, helpful and encouraging during ANY hard time.


"Lord, I saw your face last night, when I looked in the sky---You were smiling.

You told me it would be OK, you would make a way---in my DARK time.

Every time I hear your voice,

Every time I feel Your touch,

Let's me know that I can face tomorrow

One more time."

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Menu Plan Monday!

Happy Monday, everyone!!  Hope you guys enjoyed your weekend!  We had a great one.......the kids and I went with my sister and my parents to "A Victorian Country Christmas" and had a great time!  Mark stayed home, as he was a little under the weather, and he worked on the mounds and mounds of laundry that had accumulated throughout the week.  (Thanks, babe!!!)  The cooking days are great, but there's not a lot of time for much else!  Even though he was folding his little heart out, I'm sure he enjoyed a nice quiet house and Football on the TV all day!  :-)

Sunday we focused on doing, well.......not much.  The kiddos are still a touch sick, so there is still a lot of sniffling and sneezing going on around here.  We just focused on relaxing.  But, I did get our Christmas cards done and ordered, and we all did venture out for awhile to get a little bit of shopping done.

My turkey dinner on Friday night was a success and I'm excited to use up all the leftover Turkey and the stock that we made.  Here's what I hope to work on this week:

1.  Make Thin Mints  (I'll post the recipe---these are the EASIEST and most tasty little cookies, ever!)

2.  Make Spritz Cookies

2.  Make homemade Turkey Soup to freeze

3.  Make homemade Christmas gifts with the kiddos

And, that leads me to our Menu Plan for the week:

Monday:  Cornbread Salad, homemade Refried Beans, Chips

Tuesday:  Meatloaf (freezer), Baked Potatoes, Veggies and Dip

Wednesday:  Turkey Paninis, Chips, Dill Pickles, Banana Smoothies

Thursday:  Spicy White *Turkey* Chili, Pumpkin Rolls (freezer)

Friday:  Turkey Enchilada Casserole, Refried Beans, Mexican Rice

For more Menu Planning inspiration, check out I'm An Organizing Junkie

Have a wonderful week, everyone!!!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Freezer Cooking Day 2---Finished!

"We did it, we did it, we did it......Hooray!!"  (Sung the way Dora sings it on Dora the Explorer!!)

My list is completed!!!  It might not have been a super hefty list to begin with, but it sure feels GREAT to have my freezers stocked full, and some Christmas goodies made!!

After the 'Intermission,' I put the kiddos down for a nap......Anna was the only one who didn't quite want to do it!  But, I did have a good hour by myself to clean up and start on the Meatloaves.  Then, after that, Anna was my cutie kitchen helper!

Here's what I accomplished this afternoon:

  • 2 pans of Meatloaf---CHECK!

In the past, I would have baked them, let them cool, wrap them and put them in the freezer, already baked, but I didn't think they tasted as fresh and good.  So, I wrapped them up, unbaked, and will bake them when I pull them out.

  • Last batch of World's Easiest Christmas Candy---CHECK!

I tried to be spontaneous with this batch, and I used White and Milk Chocolate chips on top......yikes!  I forgot that White Chocolate Chips are a little different, and they don't melt well or SPREAD well!  So, this batch didn't turn out as pretty, but it tastes gooooooood!

  • Moist Pumpkin Spice Muffins---CHECK!

If you are looking for a yummy, moist, delicious muffin----this one's for you!!!

So, here's the fruits of my labor today:

  • 2 loaves of Banana/Pumpkin Bread

  • Spicy Lentil Soup

  • Moist Pumpkin Spice Muffins

  • 2 Batches of 'Almond Roca'

  • 2 pans of Meatloaf

This 2-day Freezer Cooking spree was a really great experience!!  It was fun for me, fun for the kids to get involved--they love helping me in the kitchen, and it's a JOY to have a full freezer!!  I have a feeling I may just try to keep this up!  Thanks for joining me!!!!

Cooking Day 2--Intermission

Days with a 4 year old, a 2 year old, and a newborn usually never pan out the way we think they're going to, so, as time has gone by, I've learned to adjust!!  :-)

With that being said, I haven't accomplished quite as much as I wanted to......but, again.....that's OK.  My first priority is my kids---they come first.  Being that today has been a little more "challenging" with the kids, I've changed up my game plan a little.  But, first, I'll let you in on what I've done today:

I realized that THIS was on my Menu Plan for tonight, so I started soaking the lentils last night, and got that into the Crockpot first thing this morning:

(A little sloppily, I might add.)

This is when I decided to change up my game plan a little.  I realized that I had about 2 1/2 cups left of Lentils, so I wanted to find another recipe for them.  I came across THIS recipe and decided to make it:

  • Spicy Lentil Soup---CHECK!

(It doesn't look quite as appetizing in this picture, but it smells and tastes deeeeelicious!)

Then, because I still have OODLES of Bananas left, I decided to make 2 more loaves of Banana Bread, and this time, I added a can of Pumpkin and some Cinnamon, Allspice and Nutmeg.

  • 2 Loaves of Banana/Pumpkin Bread---CHECK!

(Yep, they got a tiny bit dark......I was nursing Anna upstairs and totally forgot about them!!  Just keepin' it real, folks.)

And, lastly, the kids loved helping me make another batch of World's Easiest Christmas Candy, or as we lovingly refer to it:  'Poor Man's Almond Roca.'  I've been making this for years and we LOVE it!!

Here's A and L laying out the Saltine Crackers:

  • 1 Batch of World's Easiest Christmas Candy---CHECK!

Soooooo, I think I've decided to skip the homemade Bisquick for today--(I found a brand new box of it in the cupboard!), and for the rest of the day, I'll try to get to:

  • 2 pans of Meatloaf

  • 1 more batch of  'Almond Roca'

  • 1 Batch of Moist Pumpkin Spice Muffins

We'll see how this goes........

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Freezer Cooking Day--Results of Day 1

Whew!!  I made it.  The last of the dishes have been done and I'm ready to put my feet up!!!  The afternoon didn't go quite as smoothly as the morning did, but, that's OK.  Ava and Anna are the two sickies in the family.  We thought Ava might have the Swine Flu, but, we are pretty convinced, now, that it's Croup;  I affectionately refer to her as my "Barking Seal!"  Ava cried out during her nap several times (which is VERY unlike her) and needed to be consoled, but she ended up napping for 3 hours straight!  But, sweet Anna just didn't want to nap for long!!  (At 3 months old, I think she's teething!!)  She sure was happy, though, to be with me in the kitchen:

I did get a few more things made this afternoon, though:

  • 2 batches of Tuna Casserole--Check!

  • World's Easiest Christmas Candy--Check!

Half the battle, and what took some time, too, was the slicing, chopping, packaging, etc.  It's a little time consuming!!

So, here's a recap of what I accomplished today and what is pictured above:

4---2 cup bags of Shredded Pork

2---loaves of Banana Bread  (I slice mine and lay the slices in the bag flat.  That way, we can grab a few slices when we want them and not have to grab the whole loaf.)

2--Tuna Noodle Casseroles

4 pounds---Taco Meat

1 batch--World's Easiest Christmas Candy

2 batches--Chili  (I save Spaghetti Sauce jars, Peanut Butter jars, etc, and put the Chili in there.)

Also, not pictured, is 10 pounds of Bananas the kids helped me chop and are being flash frozen in the freezer!

Here's how I store the Candy:

I save my coffee cans:

I put a piece of waxed paper at the bottom:

Load the candy in:

Top the Candy off with onn more piece of waxed paper, and put the lid on!

Store in the FREEZER.  It will last a lonnnnnng time this way!

Alright, so here's what I hope to get accomplished tomorrow:

  • 2---Meatloaves

  • 1---Batch Homemade Bisquick

  • 1---Batch Moist Pumpkin Spice Muffins

  • 2---More batches of World's Easiest Christmas Candy

This list doesn't seem too daunting, so we'll see how it goes!!

Thanks for joining me today!!!  See you tomorrow!

Freezer Cooking Day--Update

Since I just got all 3 kids nestled all snug in their beds for their (hopefully!) long winter's naps, I decided I'd give you all a little update!

Here's what I've accomplished, so far:

  • 2 Loaves of Banana Bread---CHECK!

  • Double batch of Chili done and simmering away---CHECK!

  • 4 pounds of Taco Meat done and cooling---CHECK!

  • Pork in the Crockpot doing its thing---CHECK!

  • Bananas chopped and in the freezer---CHECK!

(Disclaimer:  those are PLASTIC knives!!)

And, even though I got MULTIPLE projects out for Ava and Luke to work on while I was cooking, they had fun ransacking the living room and playing with their wee sister, Anna!  When I put Anna on the floor for a little "tummy-time" (supervised, of course!), both Ava and Luke got on the floor with her and begged me to take a picture:

Now it's time for me to do a little clean-up, throw in a load of laundry, grab a quick bite to eat, and then I'm off and running, again!!

Freezer Cooking Day!

I have been inspired by Money Saving Mom and Life as Mom, and I'm joining in!!!  Today I'm going to start a 2-Day Freezer Cooking Day!  I may be getting WAY in over my head on this one, since I have 2 out of 3 sick kiddos, but since I know we won't be venturing out for much these next few days, why not get some freezer meals done?!!

So, here's my plan for the next 2 days:

I think I'll stop there and see how all this pans out!!  This might be WAY too much, or I might be able to add more.  We'll see!  I'll be back later to give a progress report!!

Join me!!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

If you can believe it, it's DECEMBER 1st!!!!  And you know what that means.............................


Check them out HERE

Tip Tuesday

Here are some tips for you, on what to do with your leftovers from Thanksgiving/Christmas!!!  Part of being frugal is using your leftovers to their FULL capacity!!  There are oodles of things you can do, but, here are a few ideas for you:

1.  Open-faced Hot Turkey Sandwiches----My mom used to make these for us after Thanksgiving--so simple and so good!  It's simply a slice of buttered bread, cut in half.  Scoop on some mashed potatoes and smother it with Gravy,  (Put pieces of chopped up Turkey in the gravy),  and enjoy!

2.  Shepherd's Pie----My mom has made this one, too!  There are many versions of this, so you can really do it with whatever you have on hand after you big Holiday meal, but here's the idea:  Layer one on top of the other:  Chopped up pieces of Turkey, stuffing, gravy, Cranberry Sauce, Green Bean Casserole and finish it up with Mashed potatoes on top.  Bake until it's bubbly!

3.  Turkey Pot Pie----Use pie crust on the bottom, turkey chunks, Cream of Chicken Soup, and mixed veggies pressed in.  Use a pie crust or mashed potatoes on top!  (Thanks, Amy S.W.!)

4.  Turkey Enchiladas----You can do it casserole-style, layered instead of individually rolled.  (Thanks, Amy S.W.!)  I also came across this recipe for Chicken Enchiladas that sounds YUMMY!  Just replace chicken with Turkey! HERE

5.  It's always a great idea to make your own Broth, or Turkey Soup!  There are numerous recipes out there if you don't have one of your own.

6.  Turkey Tetrazzini---There are many, many versions of this dish.  Just Google it and find one that suits your tastes!

7.  Turkey Lasagna---Whip up your favorite Lasagna recipe and add cubed Turkey.

8.  Potato Cakes---Shape your leftover Mashed Potatoes into patties and fry them up for Breakfast.

9.  Turkey Mac and Cheese---If your kids are like mine, they LOVE a good 'ol helping of boxed Mac and Cheese!  Have you ever added Tuna or Chili to it?  How about adding a little leftover Turkey!

10.  Freeze it!---Many, if not all, these meals above will freeze beautifully!  Or, if you're not in the mood to make a meal, simply dice up your Turkey and freeze it by the 2 cupfuls in zip top bags.  It'll be ready to use when you need it!