Saturday, May 30, 2009

"Left Over" Pizza

No I am not blogging about old pizza in my fridge but rather my latest recipe. I don't know about you all but I always have leftover veggies in my fridge at the end of the week and I have no idea what I bought them for. A couple of months ago I was just so sick of trying to find ways to use these veggies when it suddenly hit me....PIZZA! You can put ANYTHING on a pizza and everyone will eat it! This weeks pizza has bell pepper, zucchini, spinach, tomatoes, homemade sauce out of the freezer, leftover lunch meat, green onions, and tons of olives on my side. The crust is super simple, 3c. flour 1c. hot water, and 3/4tsp yeast....that's it! This huge pizza managed to survive for a whole 12 hrs before it was polished off, can't say the same thing if I had steamed up the veggies and served them with something else. Plus I got an entire meal out of things in my fridge that otherwise would have gone to waste.

Grocery Challenge Update!

As you may remember I have taken on the challenge of only shopping once every two weeks in the hopes of cutting back our grocery bill. I was sceptical at first because it sounded like a lot of work and I couldn't for the life of me see how it was going to save any money. I mean you are still eating 3-4 times a day and making the same things that you would have to begin with so how could this save anything? Well today was shopping day for my second 2 weeks on the program and I have to say that I am loving it! This last weekend it was SO nice not to have to worry about what to make the next week (I made up a calender of the entire months meals when I started) and to not have to brave the grocery store. So how did I do on the money front??

Weeks 1-2 Grocery Store: $170
Weeks 1-4 Sam's Club Bulk Shopping: $180
Weeks 3-4 Grocery Store: $190
Random odds and ends needed throughout: $50
TOTAL: $590 for one month

Usual total for one month shopping every week: $680

That makes a savings of.....$90! OK now that is nothing to sneeze at! This was my first month on the program and the trip to Sam's club is a every couple of months trip. I got things such as a 25lb bag of flour (will last about 3 mths), bulk trash bags (again about 3 mths), bulk Ziploc bags, HUGE container of animal crackers, bulk pop tarts, etc.

Next month our goal will be for a total spend of $400 giving us a savings of $280 a mth.....OK so I am officially on board with this program. Anyone game to try with me????

Family Game Night

We have recently implemented a no TV/computer/video game rule in our house. Not all the time cause come on I do need some cartoon timeouts to keep my sanity but we were getting WAY to obsessed with all the electronic "stuff" in our life. So we recently started having a set family time after dinner where there is nothing electronic allowed (well except for the radio). The girls mainly run around acting out different story lines such as Little Red Riding Hood or first day of school while Bry and I watch and clap. Then once the kiddos are in bed we brake out the Scrabble board and he does a great job of kicking my butt. I have won once or twice but for the most part I get my butt handed to me.

I really enjoy this time with my family without the outside influences of TV and games. I in theory would like to cut out the TV totally but I don't really see that happening over here. My goal for this month is to turn off the TV at lunch time and not turn it on again the rest of the day....a tall order when you have little ones. It is just so much easier when they are bored to pull out a DVD instead of finding a project for them to do or taking them to the playground when it is in the 90's. But I see my weakness and I am trying to address it. So what about you all? What fun things do you do as a family that doesn't include electronics?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Quote of the Month

Life is no straight and easy corridor along which we travel free and unhampered, but a maze of passages, through which we must seek our way, lost and confused, now and again checked in a blind alley.
But always, if we have faith, a door will open for us, not perhaps one that we ourselves would ever have thought of, but one that will ultimately prove good for us.
—A.J. Cronin

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Garden Update

Well I decided to plant a new garden again and try REALLY hard this time to water it! So far so good I actually have stuff sprouting! WOO HOO! I planted Spinach, Bell Peppers, Jalapenos, Green Beans, Tomatoes, Thyme, Parsley, Oregano, Chives, and Cilantro. I went out this morning to water everything and found that my spinach is actually sprouting already :) It helps that it has been overcast or raining here for the last week so I couldn't screw up to badly... we shall see how it goes over the next few weeks!

Baking Day

I try and set aside one day each week for my baking and since I didn't have to work today I figured I had best get it all over with today while I had the time. I made a few of the usual things like Banana Muffins for the girls and Bacon Biscuits for hubby. I wanted to make some bread for dinner tonight but I have some how worked my way through a 50lb bag of flour without realizing I was running out! Looks like I have a trip to Sam's club in my near future!

Way back as a newlywed I made these biscuits for Hubby and he has been asking for them ever since. I make them about once a month and it is a huge deal for him. They are a basic yeast roll with bacon, onions, thyme, and olives mixed in. They are super easy to make but they take so long that I hardly ever have the time to devote to total 40min from start to oven! Lol that is probably partly because every time I make them I have a 5yr old "helper" I don't know why but she only wants to help in the kitchen when I am baking....maybe an inner pastry chef coming out in her? I can only hope :)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Spring Cleaning

OK ladies and gentlemen I am about to share my dirty little secret with you all....I have the messiest closets on the planet. I am terrible about throwing it in and thinking I will deal with this later, then it all piles up and I can't bring myself to start working on any of it. Well today I decided I had had enough and I was going to get it cleaned up.

Here is a picture of my laundry room storage area. This is where all bulk items are stored as well as my bread maker, mop, broom, and vacuum can see it is quite a state!
And here is the finished product....yes I know it doesn't look that different but it makes everything so much easier to find.

Now on to the REALLY messy part of my house...the garage storage area. This is where EVERYTHING goes. From holiday decorations, garden stuff, the kids outdoor play stuff, you get the idea. (yes I am horrified by this picture)

After 2 hours of cleaning and lots of "help" from the kiddos here is the after pic....

MUCH BETTER! I showed it to hubby and he said it was very nice "but lets see how long it stays this way" now he is not trying to be mean he just knows me! Lol, I am really going to try here folks to keep it this way. All the random holiday and baby stuff got taken upstairs to join the rest of the holiday and baby stuff I still have to work on that closet and I may put up a picture of that one as well once I get it finished.

Kitchen update

Well I finally worked up the nerve and decided to do my 2 weeks of grocery shopping this last weekend. I normally spend about $150 a week on groceries for a family of 4 plus daycare kiddos, so I was expecting to spend about $300 when shopping for 2 weeks at a time. I looked over my menu for the next two weeks and reviewed my inventory and then wrote out my shopping list for the week. It was a REALLY long list and my cart was REALLY full but once I rang it all up I almost fell over....drum roll please.....grand total of $180! Are you kidding me!?

Now I understand what everyone is talking about when they say you save a fortune by shopping once a month. Now I am not quite up to THAT level yet and I am smart enough to know that I am going to have to pick up an item or two over the next few weeks but I know that even with the odd item here and there it will be way less that $300. We shall see how it goes and I will give you all an update at the end of the two weeks when we have the final totals.

Part of this savings came from not using as much processed foods. This is taking some getting used to! My first issue is with using dried beans instead of canned. When you look at the price comparison it is SO much cheaper to buy the dried beans as well as being healthier (have you looked at the sodium content in a can of beans?!) but all the work to cook them before use is a pain in the rear! I have been working on dinner for over 3hrs now because I have to soak/cook the black beans before I can start the soup they go in. Now it is not like it is hard or anything but anyone who knows me knows that I forget everything that isn't right in front of me, so to remember 3hrs before dinner to start the beans is a real pain. I am going to start looking into soak/cooking the beans in a crock pot in the future. This is also an issue with making my own bread, I love doing it and it saves a fortune but remembering to make it with enough time for it to rise is another issue I am having. I have tried making bread for sandwiches in the past and it really doesn't work that well for us, no one uses it and it ends up getting thrown away. I decided to buy the sandwich bread and make the bread sticks/french bread/pizza crusts from scratch and that has been working really well for us.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Adventures in Hawaii

It has been a while since I added any pics to my blog and I thought you all might be interested in some of the stuff we have been up to over here. During the last week my parents were visiting and we had a ton of fun!

Here we are at the Paradise Cove luau. They had these lovely drinks called Lava Flows....yeah they were REALLY good!

We also went and spent some time at the Sea Life Park and Bry was able to get close enough to get this picture of one of the dolphins. They put on an incredible show everyone should go see this if they are ever in Hawaii!

Here we have daddy and Sara Beth checking out the penguins....

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Who knew there was a name for my style of home management? Just by luck I stumbled upon a homesteading website and was shocked to see that it described my life!

"Currently the term 'homesteading applies to anyone who is a limb of the back-to-the-land movement and who chooses to live a sustainable, self-sufficient lifestyle. While land is no longer freely available in most areas of the world, homesteading remains as a way of life. A new movement, called 'urban homesteading', can be viewed as a simple living lifestyle, incorporating small-scale agriculture, sustainable and permaculture gardening, and home food production and storage into suburban or city living."

I also found that many of the people who practice homesteading also use fertility acceptance and home school their kiddos. While I would love to home school I am wise enough to know that it isn't going to work for my children. As I am typing this Hailey is standing beside me asking "Is it time to go to school yet.." it is all she can talk about these days it is going to be a very long summer before she can start kindergarten! As for the fertility acceptance we are currently practicing this lifestyle and are trusting that God will provide not only the children but the ability to provide for them. This is a HUGE step of faith and while I have my moments of doubt I do truly believe that He will provide.

All this reading about people who have successful gardens has made me want to start working on my garden again! LOL! I do have several seed packs still out in the garage so I am thinking about planting them and trying again....not like I don't have the beds out there just waiting!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Finally Taking on the Kitchen

I am a major procrastinator when it comes to my kitchen. Don't get me wrong I love to cook, but I am one of those people who will just go out and buy another jar of seasoning instead of searching my cupboards to see if I already have some. As you can guess I have cupboards that are way to full and tons of extras in there. Over the last few months we have been trying to "live off our pantry" so that we use some stuff up and save some money. This has been a really great thing for us and there were some weeks when I only spent $80 to feed all of us! Even though this has been going so well there was still one area of my kitchen that I was to scared to look at....the spice cabinet! AH! Well I finally went through it ALL the last few days and I worked up a written inventory of what I have.....OK no one needs 3 jars of coriander!!!!

So now that I have a written inventory of my pantry I need to do something with it right? Well I have been haunting the large family websites for ideas on how to feed a large family on a budget (yes I know I don't have a large family but if they can do it with 12 kids I can do it with 2!) and I have come up with some really good ideas. Not only do they have tons of recipes on there that are easy and nutritious they also have meal planning ideas and shopping tips. One of the ideas I have heard for a while now is to only shop once a month....yeah this is a little out there for me....I mean once a month???I am taking baby steps here people and I have worked up a menu for a month but only plan to shop every two weeks for a while to get the hang of it all.

Being that I have TONS of certain spices I took my inventory sheet out and then came up with recipes that will use them, as well as setting certain nights every week to the same dish (i.e. Mondays are spaghetti night). This in theory should save quite a bit of money since I can buy certain items in bulk and then actually use them (novel concept over here). Plus all the meals that I chose are simple to make with only a few more buying 12 items for one dish! It will be interesting to see how this project works out. I know that at first I am either going to have way to much or way to little of certain items (milk, bread, etc) until I am able to gage the correct amounts per week so I know that I will be going to the store more than once every two weeks for a while but it shouldn't be that hard to figure out right? I will let you know.....

On another cooking related front by garden was a no go....I managed to get one cucumber plant to grow, one tomato plant, and 3 onions. My bell peppers are scrawny and not producing and my zucchini got ate by snails. I did manage to get some basil and flat leaf parsley to grow by bringing them into the kitchen where I can remember to water them. OK so world famous gardener I am not...but hey I tried! Not sure if I will try again....was a lot of money and work for nothing.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Getting Back on the Wagon!

OK so I have taken some major hits over the last few months and I am trying to get back my sanity and my life. Today is day one back on my diet and I am determined that this is going to be my last time having to rededicate myself. I am done with feeling like a big ole tub of lard! So back to working out and eating healthy again. It is hard when you are trying to conceive because every month after I ovulate I keep thinking well I am probably pregnant so I don't need to lose any weight....then I won't be and I have lost 2 weeks, just to do it all over again the next month. But I know that I want to be active during my next pregnancy and eat healthily so this is really something that I need to keep doing no matter where I am in my cycle.

As you may or may not know I took the last month off of work to recover from the loss and to just give my body a break. This resulted in our emergency fund getting cleaned out and less being paid on our debts. So here I am back at square one all over again! I went back to work yesterday so we are on our way back to where we need to be. This has been a real wake-up call for me, we were supposed to be surviving on Bry's income for all our monthly needs and my income was supposed to be just paying off the debt. Once we cut out my income though it was clear that we were using some of my income for our monthly needs as well. I am looking at our monthly expenses seeing what we can cut out to get everything in balance again. This is going to be especially important since I am only working part-time right now and don't plan on going back to full time until at least August maybe later.

The thought pattern with all these changes is that my weight and my stress levels are affecting my ability to get pregnant and then stay pregnant. So by working on my weight and my health and cutting back on my working maybe this will result in a pregnancy that will make it.....we shall see!

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