Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Birthday Freebies

It's fun having a birthday if you've signed up for all the birthday clubs that so many restaurants offer. This means you get lots of free food! Often just by signing up for their mailing list, they will email you coupons to use the week of your birthday.

Since this is the week of my birthday, I am the happy recipient of:

A free meal at Captain D's.

$5 off at McAlister's Deli(used carefully, both us will share a meal for almost free).

Buy 1, Get 1 free buffet meal at Ryan's.

Free dessert at Longhorn Steakhouse.

Free ice cream at Coldstone Creamery.

There are many more you can sign up to receive; these are just a few that I've signed up for.

This is so much fun. Especially since we don't go out to eat that often!

Enjoy your special day with something free to eat!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

I'm kinda late to the menu planning party this week! My parents are in town visiting for a few days so blogging isn't necessarily my top priority this week.

My dad is diabetic so we try to eat more meat and less carb-heavy and casserole meals when he is here. Yum!

Sunday- bean and rice bowls,salad

Monday-out to eat for my birthday!

Tuesday-roasted chicken with sweet potatoes and carrots, salad, dinner rolls if time

Wednesday-baked tilapia, brown rice, stir-fry veggies

Thursday-sausage, onion and pepper stir fry, rice

Friday-pesto pizza, salad


With four of us for lunch instead of two, I'm needing to plan a bit more since there will probably not be enough leftovers for all of us each day!
-crustless quiche
-vegetable soup in the crockpot

I'm keeping the list of breakfast items pretty loose this week as we'll probably eat whatever we want, instead of sticking to a specific schedule as usual.
What I have on hand:
-bacon and sausage
-pancakes(in freezer)

Happy eating this week!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Fleece Blankets-Done!

I've finally finished the fleece blankets that I pieced from scraps last year.

I used thrifted fleece throws as backing instead of buying new fabric. I'm not sure why I had never thought of this before; it worked really great!

With no tying or quilting, these blankets finished up very quickly!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

How Do You Blog?

Kate from A Simple Walk asked these questions about blogging habits.

Here are my answers to her questions.

1. Do you keep a running list of blog post ideas? I have tried. Sometimes the list is more in my head. Lately, I've been approaching it as "What's going on in my home right now?" and then blogging about that.

2. Do you only blog on certain days and about certain topics? I blog most often on weekdays. I like to contribute to Menu Plan Mondays, Works For Me Wednesdays and Frugal Fridays occasionally, but otherwise, I post whatever I feel like.
3. Do you limit the number of memes you will participate in? And if so, what qualifications must a meme meet in order for you to join? These get boring after a while. I mean, how many random facts do I want to share about myself?

4. Do you keep your family anonymous, or do you use real names? I use first names only for my husband and I. I'm not sure how I would handle this with children.

5. Do you feel guilty if you don't post for a few days?Not currently. I used to. Nowadays, I try to shoot for about 4-5 blog posts a week. If I do more, that's great. If I do less sometimes, that's fine too. I'm trying to keep it all in balance and do what works for me instead of trying to keep up with everyone else.

6. Are there any off-limit topics that you will not blog about? Yes! Anything that I deem to be too personal or controversial. I will not say much about the children that I babysit or mention their names online.

7. Do you monitor your blog stats on a regular basis? Not right now.

8. Do you ever sit and stare at your computer monitor, waiting for inspiration to hit, only to give up and decide to just post tomorrow? (Or, even better, when that inspiration does not hit, do you think "Oooh, I know, I'll ask everyone else about their blogging habits!")Oh yes! See #5.

9. Do you, without fail, refrain from blogging on any certain days of the week?
I don't usually blog on the weekends. But it's not set in stone.

10. Do you do most of your blogging in one day and then just publish throughout the week?
I'm trying to do this more and more.

11. Do you limit the number of posts you will do on any one day?Quite frankly, I try to space my posts out since I tend to run out of things to say. So I don't usually post more than once or twice in the same day.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Pizza Fondue In The Crockpot

I tried this yummy simple recipe after finding a "baby" crock pot at a yard sale. It was so good and used food that I had on hand. Delicious with fresh French bread for an easy weekend supper!

Pizza Fondue
1 jar(26 to 28 oz.) spaghetti sauce with meat(I used meatless.)
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon cornstarch or instant tapioca
1/2 cup sliced pepperoni
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese

Combine all ingredients except cheese in greased 2 to 3 1/2 quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on low heat for 2-3 hours. Add cheese the last hour of cooking.

Dip bread sticks, pita bread, or chunks of crusty Italian bread.

Note: My Little Dipper crockpot isn't quite a quart size so I pretty well halved this recipe to fit in the crockpot. Yum!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Simple Beauty Of Fresh Flowers

I love having fresh flowers in my home. Just one flower in a vase on the table or beside the kitchen sink makes our little home seem just that much more "homey" and cozy. A neighbor gave me a gardenia the other day. I enjoyed it so much that when it died, I wanted to buy some fresh flowers!

Fresh flowers can be costly. Most of the time, I'm able to use flowers or greenery growing in our yard to bring a simple touch of beauty to our home. But once in a while, it's fun to buy a bouquet. Or just a stem or two.

We went to our local florist and asked to buy a few stems. Since they know us there, they allowed us to walk back to the cooler and pick out what we wanted.

I picked out a sunflower and three stems of daisies. Not only do I love daisies, but they also are one of the least expensive flowers and last a good while longer than most.

The cost was $4. Not bad for all this:

On the dining room table:

On the mantle:

By the kitchen sink:

In the bedroom:

In the bathroom:

Nothing fancy, but sure brightens my day!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Another week, another menu! I hope everyone had a relaxing and restful weekend and is ready to dive into the new week ahead!

This week I have a little extra time built in to cook, so I'm going to try and make double of each night's meal to freeze. Hopefully, by the end of the week, I'll have frozen one meal each of bean burrito filling, homemade tortillas, Spanish rice,pizza crust, and spaghetti pie. We'll see how that goes!

I am really Linky Lou in this post. Enjoy all the recipes!

Dinner menu is as follows:

Sunday-sandwiches, chips, fruit slush

Monday-eat at friend's house

Tuesday-Zesty bean burritos(a new crockpot recipe), homemade tortillas, Spanish rice

Wednesday-spaghetti pie, salad

Thursday-Vegetable Pizza(using my own homemade pizza crust), either watermelon or fruit slush

Friday- dinner out using free coupon from Captain D's!

Saturday- invited to a friend's retirement party. I'm not sure what food I will be taking to share. I'll have to think on that this week.

cold cereal, milk, banana
fruit smoothie, toast
banana oat pancakes
cottage cheese, sliced apple, toast
zucchini muffins, fruit smoothie
cold cereal, apple slices

primarily leftovers
green salads
sandwiches-either ham or pb&j

For more menu planning fun, please visit the home of Menu Plan Mondays!

Going Bananas!

On my recent early morning shopping trip, I was blessed to find 3- 5lb. bags of ripe bananas for $1.00 each. I love when that happens!

We love bananas and will use these for eating plain, in smoothies, in baking, in fruit slush! I kept 2 bunches out for eating as they weren't that over ripe yet (we like them nice and ripe!) and froze the rest in Ziploc bags for future use.


* After taking the above photo, I realized that one bunch of bananas never made it into the shot. Oh well! :-)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Tote Bag For A Gift

One of my husband's coworkers had a brand new baby boy this week. I wanted to take a gift along to the hospital when we went to visit. My usual baby gift has been a simple handmade tote bag filled with diapers or other baby items that I have on hand. The diapers are always well-received and the bag can be used for a diaper bag or as a bag or purse for the little mama. Either way, it's practical and I do love practical.:-)

Unfortunately, all the ready-made bags I had in my stash were pretty feminine looking, so I quickly went through my fabric to find some "boyish" colors and whipped up this tote bag during nap time.

It is shown here filled with diapers and tissue paper, ready for gift-giving.

I used brown corduroy for the outside of the bag and a thrifted green plaid tablecloth for the lining. I had coordinating rick-rack for trim but since I was pressed for time, I opted to make use of a tip I had seen in blog land and fold down the top of the bag so that a couple of inches of lining showed.(Add a couple of inches to the top of the bag when cutting fabric.) I then used buttons to add a decorative touch and to hold the handles in place. What an easy way to add a decorative touch! I probably wouldn't try sewing the buttons through so many layers of corduroy again,though. It was quite difficult, but with a darning needle and muscles, I got it done!

Tote bags such as these are simple to sew. No pattern is needed; I have made my own rectangular patterns for different sizes. For the bag pictured, I made a slightly different shape simply by copying the measurements on my favorite Vera Bradley tote bag.

Happy sewing!

This post is part of Sew Crafty Fridays hosted by Shereen of Waiting for Him. Visit her blog to see more handcrafted items or to join in!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Day To Myself!

No, make that two days to myself.:-)

The toddlers that I babysit are both on vacation so I have a couple of days free. I love when that happens.;-)

This morning, I hurried through my housework so I will have time to sew. I started at my regular time(early)and fought the urge to run back to bed since I didn't have the kids coming.

So it's 10 o'clock and I've cleaned the trashcans, cleaned the bathroom, hung out 2 loads of laundry, did my regular morning routine and written almost 2 blog posts. Dinner is a chicken pot pie from the freezer. Yum!

I still need to write out my 2 week menu and a grocery list. Tomorrow is my shopping day!

So I'm off to walk the dog and settle in with some sewing.

A verse to ponder today:

"God can do anything, you know- far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us." Ephesians 3:20 The Message

Enjoy your day!

So Much To Do, So Little Time! Part 4

It's been a while since my last post.

I haven't been as purposeful in getting to these little tasks as I had hoped. The month of June was a blur with traveling and a death in the family. So I pretty much just did what I could and left the rest.

But, I'm happy to report that after several hours of work(spread out as I had time) in the past week, the office is pretty well done! Yeah, yeah, yeah.

The decluttering part was pretty well done. I needed to file papers and shred tons of stuff. I had saved a lot of paperwork that I didn't need anymore. Piles of papers that you don't know what to do with can cause a feeling of stress and overwhelm, at least for me. I believe the filing is up to date now and manageable enough for me to keep up with now.

I still need to get another large bookshelf. That will help even more, since my little house lacks much built-in storage.

My parents are coming to visit in a couple of weeks and the office is ready to turn into a guest room for them.

I think we all go through periods of time where you feel the house is a mess and your life is somewhat out of control. That's how I felt this spring when I started this series. I really needed the accountability and the reminder to get back on track again. Thankfully, that has happened.

Of course, I have more tasks to complete around the house. Don't we all?!?! Even though this little series is over, I will still post about those extra tasks since I know I always benefit from reading about what others are doing in their homes. It is motivating and inspiring as well as helpful to realize that you are not the only one with a pile of clutter that needs to be moved out!

Happy organizing!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Best Wheat Rolls

Soon after I was married and I began to learn to bake bread, I began my search for a recipe for good dinner rolls. Many that I tried were dry, especially if not eaten right out of the oven.

Finally, I found a yummy and easy recipe from the 1999 Taste of Home cookbook.These wheat rolls are a winner with our family. They are light, delicious and stay soft and fresh for several days. They freeze successfully, too, for longer storage. They are easy and take less time to make than regular whole wheat bread.

On occasion, I have adapted this recipe with all white flour with good results. I also use this recipe for cinnamon rolls and hamburger buns.

Wheat Yeast Rolls
Makes 1 dozen largish dinner rolls(great for sandwiches!)

1 package(1/4 oz.) or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 cup warm water(110 to 115 degrees)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons sugar or honey
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 to 2 cups all-purpose flour

In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Add oil, sugar, salt and whole wheat flour;beat until smooth. Add enough all-purpose flour to form soft dough. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes.

Place in a greased bowl; turn once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch down; divide into 12 pieces. Shape into rolls(balls); place 3 inches apart on greased baking sheets. Cover; let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks.

For smaller rolls- I often make about 18 rolls instead of 12, especially if used as a side to a big dinner. Just divide the dough accordingly.

For hamburger buns- I make about 8 rolls instead of the original recipe's dozen. This way they are big enough for hamburgers.

For cinnamon rolls-
Roll out dough into a rectangle. Brush softened butter on the dough then sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon. Roll up into a log and slice into cinnamon rolls. I use a length of thread to cut instead of a knife to help rolls keep their shape. Place rolls in greased pan and bake the same as dinner rolls; check the center to see if it is done before removing from oven. When cinnamon rolls have cooled or are still warm, frost with powdered sugar icing made by mixing hot water and powdered sugar until a nice consistency.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Facing The Giants

We watched Facing The Giants last night. It is an incredible movie with a strong Scriptural message.

Granted, the acting isn't that great and the story line is quite predictable, but yet what a great message. Tears streamed down my face as I watched and I rarely cry! The movie really spoke to my heart.

The power of God versus the power of fear.... What happens when one person prays...What can happen when we face the giants with God on our side... these things are what I took away from this movie.

"... All things are possible with God." Mark 10:27

Have you seen this movie? What was your impression of it?

Menu Plan Monday

Another week, another menu!
Lunch-We hosted our house church fellowship. I made crock pot orange-citrus chicken(new recipe-yum!) and French bread to share potluck-style.
Dinner-bruschetta, leftover salad from lunch

Monday-sausage, pepper and onion stir fry, brown rice*, green beans

Tuesday-crustless zucchini and sausage quiche, salad

Wednesday-blue cheese & white bean salad-(I didn't get to this last week so here it is again!),green salad, muffins

-chicken pot pie*, salad

Friday-TBD- Something in the crock pot

Saturday-creamed eggs over toast

*indicates freezer meals

Lunches are usually leftovers. Otherwise, I have salad fixings and lunch meat for sandwiches this week.

Breakfasts will be fried egg and cheese sandwiches, cold cereal, pancakes, hard boiled eggs and biscuits*,fruit smoothies and cream of wheat.

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

Thursday, July 10, 2008

All Little Einsteins, All The Time

One of the toddlers that I babysit has a thing for Little Einsteins. He loves them. He loves them so much that his mom and I refer to the show as L.E. when he is around. He talks about "Rocket" all the time.

Today I made his day. We watched the Little Einstein's theme song via You Tube videos.

5 times in a row!

In Spanish!

In German!

In French!

Even in Japanese!

And to think I'm blogging about it!!!

I'm Thankful That...

It's been one of those weeks. I didn't think I had anything to be thankful for but God has showed me a 'few things'.:-)

Here goes....

I'm thankful that...

~my cold is gone. Oh, it is wonderful to be able to smell again. You know it's bad when you think somethings wrong with the Beggin' Strips because you can't smell them!

~the jungle, aka yard, got a good trimming over the weekend. Looks great!

~it has rained off and on for the past week. We need the rain!

~I've been able to get some major decluttering done the past several days and a load of "treasures" will be on its way to Goodwill soon!

~we have yummy fresh garden produce to eat this week.

~I have way more to be thankful for than would fit on this blog!

" Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you..." I Thessalonians 5:18

I thank God for this day,
For the sun in the sky,
For my mom and my dad,
For my piece of apple pie!

For our home on the ground,
For His love that's all around,
That's why I say thanks every day!

Because a thankful heart is a happy heart!
I'm glad for what I have,
Thats an easy way to start!

For the love that He shares,
'Cause He listens to my prayers,
That's why I say thanks every day!

-A Veggie tales song from Madam Blueberry

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Orange Chicken

Once again, I'm joining in to share a recipe for Frugal Upstate's Frugal Food Series.

This week the focus is on chicken.

Chicken leg quarters can be purchased fairly inexpensively (anywhere from $.29 to $.49 a pound is about the cheapest I've found them around here). This recipe from Taste of Home is a great way to use them! And it is nice enough to serve to guests! We love this chicken!

Talk about yummy...and inexpensive! Plus easy to make! Can't get much better than that.

Orange Chicken
Serves 4

4 chicken legs with thighs(3 1/2 pounds), skin removed
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons orange juice concentrate
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon prepared mustard

Place chicken in single layer in a greased 9 x 13 inch pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake, uncovered, at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine remaining ingredients. Brush over chicken; bake 15 minutes longer. Brush again; bake 10 minutes more or until juices run clear.

For more chicken recipes or to add one of your own favorites, head on over to Frugal Upstate!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Everything I Know About Gardening

Everything I know about gardening is about nothing! It is something that I am not very good at. I do want to be better at it so I continue to learn and plant.:-)

This is the second year we have gone in with friends and done a garden at their house. Last year, I helped with all the planning, planting and watching it grow.

This year, I've done nothing in their garden. Nothing, nada, zilch.
Except harvest the produce. I am pretty good at that!

It just turned out that when planting days came around, I wasn't able to be there.

So my gardening expertise is really quite limited. I pretty much subscribe to the "plant it and hope it grows" rule.

When we have our own place, I will do a lot more digging up and planting than what I do where we live now. The gardening that I do now is on a small scale but I'm finding out little by little what grows better where and what I am good at growing! I have a flowerbed full of a few different veggies and herbs this year, all of which are doing well.

I have tried growing herbs from seeds and have not had much success with that. This year, I bought some herb plants and they have grown wonderfully so far with plenty of water. Beans grow well with little help from me so I plant plenty of those. I'm trying peppers and cherry tomatoes again this year and it looks promising. I haven't always had great success with those.

My mom , who is a wonderful gardener, told me to use a root hormone(Take Root or Root Tone) to start plants from clippings. I am experimenting with some ivy that needed to be trimmed off the fence. I also divided 2 house plants into 5 pots and used the Root Tone on those too, since it worked better to just clip off the good parts and replant them. I'll let you know how that goes!

I'm happy with my little successes and hope someday to be much better at gardening than I am now!

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Grocery shopping was done at the end of last week so my pantry and refrigerator are filled to the brim with delicious fresh produce and other yummy foods! Seasonal fruits are at great prices right now so I stocked up! A friend gave us half of a watermelon last week since they were going out of town and couldn't eat it all. Yum!

Between our garden and the farmer's market we have a good amount of squash, green beans, tomatoes and cucumbers to eat.

I always think we eat like kings this time of year with all the fresh food that we can stand!

Our dinner menu is as follows:

Lunch-Potluck lunch with church family. I took a zucchini casserole and a container of various sliced fresh fruit-watermelon, peaches, pineapple, bananas and blueberries.

Dinner-Chef's salad, cottage cheese

Monday- My own version of a Shepherd's Pie to use up potatoes and other odds and ends, steamed squash

Tuesday- chicken fajitas with cheese, sour cream, salsa and avocado, Spanish rice,corn on the cob

Wednesday-Pesto Pizza, blue cheese and white bean salad

Thursday-stir fry with rice


Dinner-ham and cheese bread, salad

Breakfasts will be: pancakes(3x), zucchini bread and yogurt with bananas, cottage cheese and sliced peaches, cream of wheat and bananas, fruit and yogurt smoothie and either muffins or toast.

Lunches are usually leftovers. I also have salad fixings, and lunch meat and cheese for sandwiches.

Thanks to Laura for hosting Menu Plan Mondays!

Cornmeal Fun

The little boys that I babysit had great fun driving their cars in cornmeal one day last week.

I put a couple of spoonfuls of cornmeal on a cookie sheet and spread it around.

A simple activity but one the little ones really liked!

And it was ok if they ate some of it.:-)

Thursday, July 03, 2008

I'm Thankful For...

...a week at home after a busy season of traveling.

... a few almost-ripe cherry tomatoes in my flowerbed garden!

... our colds getting better each day!

...a long holiday weekend at home.

...the men who have fought to give us freedom in our great country!

...the freedom I have in Christ!

" Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:2 & 3

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Menu Plan Monday, On Tuesday!

Another week is already speeding by! After a few weeks of several trips out of town, the menu plan has gone by the wayside. I'm getting back on the bandwagon this week, though! I need to go grocery shopping but have enough on hand to make a fairly balanced meal plan. Toward the end of the week, I hope to have more fresh produce on hand so I'll plug whatever I get into the menu then.

My basil plants have taken off and are lush and big, thus I'm making 2 dishes with it this week. Pesto and our new favorite, Basil Mayo Chicken Pasta Salad. Basil is so fragrant; I love cooking with it!

Monday- steak dinner with friends

Tuesday-buttered spaghetti with pesto sauce, leftover piece of steak from last night, steamed yellow squash

Wednesday-zucchini casserole made with yellow squash, cooked veggie, sliced banana peppers

Thursday-Israeli Spice chicken chunks, tabouli, hummus and chips

Friday- Lunch- Basil mayo chicken pasta salad
Supper- Ham and Cheese Bread, fresh veggies and fruit

Supper-hot dogs

Breakfasts are cream of wheat. cold cereal, biscuits and scrambled eggs (2x), muffins, and yogurt with seasonal berries.

Lunches are leftovers. I also have some lunch meat for sandwiches if we need it.

Thanks to Laura from Heavenly Homemakers for hosting Menu Plan Monday this week!