Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Summer Salads

Between our hot summer and eating a low-carb diet, we've been enjoying lots of salads! I've been trying to plan at least one main dish salad for supper each week. If I have lettuce washed and ready and a few veggies already chopped, these meals come together pretty quickly and don't heat up the kitchen!

We've always eaten bread items with our salads up to now, so it's been an adjustment not to have that extra carb to fill up on with our salad. Instead, I make sure that the salads are packed with protein, lots of veggies and some healthy fats to satisfy our hunger.

Some salads we've been enjoying:

Taco Salad

 BLT (Bacon, Lettuce & Tomato) Salad with hard-boiled egg and Swiss cheese.

 Shrimp and Avocado Salad. Top a green salad with already cooked shrimp and fresh avocado chunks.

Salad with grilled chicken or steak.

My sister in law emailed me with some salads that she's been enjoying this year. These all sound delicious as well!

green onion
red bell pepper
grilled chicken
Ken's Asian dressing (She uses lite.)

Blue Cheese Salad
sweet onion
green apple
bacon (or you can use bacon bits)
blue cheese crumbles
Marzetti's Blue Cheese dressing (She likes the lite variety) with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

Beet, Chicken and Feta
sweet onion
fresh beets (cooked and sliced-I have been getting these at the farmer's market- yum!)
crumbled feta
grilled chicken
balsamic vinaigrette

Our favorite homemade dressings: 

Balsamic Vinaigrette

Basic Vinaigrette

Garlic-Herb Vinaigrette

What are your favorite salad combinations? 

**This post is linked to Works For Me Wednesday!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Trash Picked Picnic Basket

Whenever I see things on the curb, I just cannot resist taking a quick look! I've gotten a number of nice things this way.

As I was walking the dog on Trash Day this week, I noticed this picnic basket by the curb. So cute...but it was a little broken on one side. I thought about whether or not I should pick up something that was damaged while we continued our walk and by the time I got back to it, I picked it up and carried it home with me.

I set it on my front porch, the broken side to the wall so we can't see it, covered it with an extra kitchen towel I had and placed a plant on top. The inside is a great storage place for the kids' outdoor toys such as bubbles, sidewalk chalk, bag of sand toys and small balls.

I love trash picking! :-)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Friday Funnies: Hallelujah!

I really love this video! We should all be so thankful when God answers our prayers.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Yard Sale Saturday--FREE Clothes!

We went out yard saling again this past Saturday morning.

Due to the past few weeks being  a bit crazy schedule-wise, I've ended up leaving most errands and housework until Saturday when I'm not working.  This doesn't leave much time for fun!

Andy suggested  that we do the laundry and most of the cleaning Friday night so we could get some of that stuff out of the way and still get to some yard sales Saturday morning. I was very grateful for his help since I really wanted to go!

It was a fun morning! And we found some nice things that we'd been looking for.

For the kids:

**Fisher Price Little People barn and animals: $2
**2-construction vehicles: $1.50 for both.
**2-plastic storage buckets: 50 cents for both. 
**Huge box of craft sticks: 25 cents. Fortunately for me, Crafty Crow posted a round-up of great projects using these!
**Package of curlers: 25 cents. Brand new--I would not buy these used! My intent was to use them for a toddler activity but they don't stick together well enough for what I had in mind so maybe I'll actually use something for it's intended use for once and curl my hair. :-)

For us and other people:

**2-jar candles: 75 cents for both. One was brand new and the other hardly used. 
**Rubbermaid storage tote: $1. Was planning to purchase one of these anyways for filing my coupon inserts. 
**Autographed Charlotte Bobcats basketball: 25 cents. Plan to list on Ebay.
**Approximately 11 yards blue floral fabric: 50 cents. Planning to make bedroom curtains from this. This was not exactly what I had in mind but it is pretty and will look very nice. The price helped my decision-making!
**Pile of kid's clothes and a pair of shoes for my niece and Toddler Girl: 50 cents each. One lady threw an extra pair of pants in for free. I really enjoy getting things for other people--you may have noticed this! Yard sales is one way I can afford to give generously to others. And both of these families do not mind gently-used articles of clothing. 
** T-shirt for me: 50 cents.
** Jacket, sweater, shirt and a pair of shoes: FREE! We stopped at a church clothing sale that had a FREE sign. If I wasn't looking for clothing for us right now, I would not have stopped; I greatly dislike rummaging through piles of clothing! But with losing weight and our clothes wearing out from hard use, we are in need of a few things. So we stopped. And found a couple of things in the right sizes. WooHoo!

Cherished Dog loves his new bed!

For the dog: 

** Large dog bed: $2.  Bass Pro brand. It has been well-washed, in case you are wondering!

He really likes his new bed!

What kinds of fun yard sale treasures have you scored recently?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Planning Monday

The week is already off to a great start! As usual, I've tried to map out my week a little by jotting down some plans. It just makes the days run a  bit smoother!

Back to the To-Do List this week:

1) Mow lawn- done!
2) Trim bushes in backyard.
3) List some items to sell on Ebay and Craig's List. Have a few items I'd like to move out.
4) Pick blueberries or blackberries...maybe!
5) Plant some more green beans.

 Last week's painting activity--this was a big hit with everyone!

Fun Stuff For The Kidlets:
Big Brother is attending camp this week so this week's fun activities are mainly for Toddler Girl.  For a toddler, open-ended process-oriented activities are the every best as this age is so into exploration of everything! So I've planned a few simple things for her that I know she'll love!

**Water play-- Put a few inches of water in a plastic tub and add some colanders, funnels, yogurt cups and assorted water toys. Let her play..outside! :-)
Important: Never ever  leave a small child unattended around water even if it's only a few inches!! Always provide close supervision.

**Edible finger paint. Tint a little plain yogurt with food coloring. Another outside activity!

**Drawing with markers--this is a favorite!

**Stroller ride around the neighborhood--weather permitting. It's been pretty hot here already this week!

 Taco Salad from last week.

 On the low-carb menu this week:

**Out for breakfast(1x)
**Scrambled eggs with veggies(5x)

1) Banana and peanut butter--this was after eating a bigger breakfast than usual at a restaurant!
2) Cold rotisserie chicken, veggies
3) Leftovers
4) Hard-boiled eggs, cheese, veggies
5) Leftovers
6) Tuna salad lettuce wraps, veggies

Supper: Trying not to use the oven much this week!
Most meals also include a salad and/or veggie.

1) BLT salad-- bacon, lettuce, tomato, swiss cheese, hard-boiled egg.
2) Egg roll lettuce wraps-- sauteed cabbage and chicken seasoned with garlic and soy sauce wrapped in lettuce.
3) Meeting--TBD
4) Spaghetti squash with red sauce-- cook squash in crockpot.
5) Beef ribs on grill.
6) Rice salad with chicken and veggies. 

**This post is part of Menu Plan Monday!

What are your favorite warm weather meals?

Friday, July 08, 2011

Friday Funnies: The Difference Between Dogs and Cats

Christian comedian Ken Davis on the difference between dogs and cats:

The dog says, "You pet me. You feed me. You put a roof over my head. You must be God!"

The cat says, "You pet me. You feed me. You put a roof over my head. I must be God!"

**Right now, when you "Like" Ken Davis on Facebook, you will receive a free MP3 album download which includes this story. The free album is nearly an hour long and is very entertaining in addition to solid truth.

**Thanks to my husband's Facebook friend DeEtta who regularly posts these funny pictures of animals for our amusement!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

A Few Tips For Feeding Young Children

As a childcare provider, I've fed a lot of children over the years.

And while I certainly don't know everything about this, here are a few tips I've found for getting  the toddlers and preschoolers at my table to eat a bit better.

1) A small plate. I use the salad/dessert size from my regular set of dishes. So far I haven't had any trouble with breakage, but then I haven't given them to really young people who are more apt to throw their plates on the floor nor do we have tile floors.

2) Small servings. For some reason, a huge amount of food intimidates a lot of kids. I usually give a tablespoonful at a time for young ones with a bit larger serving for older children. They can always ask for seconds!

3) Food cut into more manageable sizes. Whole sandwiches cut int quarters. An apple in slices rather than whole. And so on.

4) Don't offer a lot of snacks. This sounds strict, I know, but they eat better if they don't have a lot of food in between meals. Water is available anytime they want it and an afternoon snack is always offered. I would rather give them an early lunch most days than have them fill up on snacks and then not eat at mealtime. Of course, this rule varies from child to child and from day to day. Some days, we all need a mid-morning snack to keep us going!

These little tips work for me!

What are your ideas for feeding small children?

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The Gingham Cottage News

It's been a while since I posted an update about my Etsy shop, The Gingham Cottage.

I've recently added a number of new items. Be sure to hop on over to take a look!

Here's a sampling of what's new:

Blue Patchwork Pocket Apron

Pink Floral Child's Apron. 
A matching adult apron is also available for an adorable mother-daughter set!

A couple sets of rubber stamps.

Some vintage treasures!

I plan to add some pieces of fabric from my stash soon as well as more handmade items so keep checking back!

Monday, July 04, 2011

Planning Monday-- Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July to all of my American readers! Happy birthday to America, our nephew who turns 8 today and my sweet friend Abbie! Enjoy your day everyone!

Big Brother loved making this Old Glory craft last week!

On the to-do list this week:

I'll be honest and say that we got very few items off last week's to-do list crossed off. Schedules kept changing as the week progressed and I was super busy!

This week is already packed to the gills so I'm not even doing a to-do list of extra tasks for this week. Instead my priorities this week are:

1) Childcare
2) Attending to basic household needs (meals, daily housework, etc.)

I believe these things will keep me well-occupied all week and if I have extra time to do anything else it'll be a nice surprise!:-)

Toddler adaptation of Salt-Absorbing Fireworks. Toddler Girl spread glue around on the paper with her fingers, then I helped her shake salt all over it. She loved this, especially getting her fingers in the glue! I think it may be time to break out the fingerpaints!

Fun Stuff For The Kidlets!

**These activities are for Big Brother (5 years) and Toddler Girl (14 months). Baby Boy (3 months) enjoys sitting in his Bumbo watching the older kids, tagging along or is sleeping while we do these things.

1) Painting.
2) Trip to the park to play. 
3) Bubbles and chalk.
4) Free art play for Big Brother; drawing with markers for Toddler Girl. 

Our low-carb menu for the week:


**scrambled or hard-boiled eggs (6x)


1) Packed lunch for a day away from home: sliced roast beef, mustard, hard-boiled eggs, veggies, hummus, rice and veggie salad, applesauce, bananas, cheese, berries, nuts (Includes snacks!)
2) Rice and veggie salad
3) Egg salad lettuce wraps
4) Hard-boiled eggs, veggies
5) Leftovers
6) Salad

Supper:  Most meals served with a salad and/or veggies.

1) Eat out or quick leftovers at home.
2) Spaghetti sauce with meat, brown rice.
3) Meeting: Taco Night. Taking chicken, cheese and salsa.
4) Beef and gravy, brown rice.
5) Chicken and zucchini on the grill.
6) Taco Salad: taco meat, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, olives, salsa, onion, sour cream.

 Blast From The Past: Made this 4th of July cupcake flag for last year's holiday! Simple to make using blueberries for blue, raspberries or strawberries for red and coconut for white!

**This post is part of Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday!

What are your plans for the week?

Friday, July 01, 2011

Friday Funnies: Kidlet Quotes

Today, I share a collection of kid quotes. Enjoy and have a wonderful weekend!

This falls into the "Well, you asked!" category:

Big Brother sitting on the floor among the toys with a very concerned and concentrated expression on his face. Me: "Sweetie, what are you doing?" Him(without hesitation): "Thinking about Ghost busters!"

"Dude, What's That Smell?"
While preparing to do the Salt-Absorbing Fireworks project this week, I discovered that the only dropper I had was on a bottle of eucalyptus essential oil. Although I tried to clean it well, eucalyptus oil is still very strong  so we could still smell it.
Big Brother: "That smells ."
Me: "That's eucalyptus."
Big Brother: " Oh like, you-can-lift-this and it will smell bad! "

Other notable Big Brother Quotes:
"Can you see the taste bugs on my tongue?"
"Me and my dad are getting a fishing pool."
"Rock, stop bagging for food!"

My nephew, who is also five years old, attended Vacation Bible School last week. Reflecting on his VBS snack, he said, "It was a jello and ham sandwich. The jello was white and tasted  like mayonnaise!"

Do I Need It? My Simple Approach To Using the Coupon and Deal Blogs

 One of the ways I'm able to save money on groceries and household items is by following a few money saving/coupon blogs.

There are so many good blogs in this genre to choose from. The two I follow regularly are Money Saving Mom and Southern Savers. Occasionally I may check out some others but these are my two favorites and are more than sufficient for meeting my coupon and money saving needs. :-)

Southern Savers posts grocery store match-ups each week for stores in the Southeast. Since this is where I live, this site covers the stores that I shop at.

I've followed Money Saving Mom since the beginning and find her blog so helpful with many frugal tips, money-saving articles and of course, coupons and daily deals.

If you follow any of the coupon blogs, you'll quickly notice the sheer amount of posts added to these blogs daily. This is one reason I only follow two-- there are a lot of posts to sift through on a daily basis, which quickly can become overwhelming especially if I go a day or more without reading. The other reason I keep these blogs to a minimum is the amount of "good deals" that pop up. After a while, too much is just too much.

It's tempting to want to run out for or order the latest deals when I see them. But that takes a lot of money and time and isn't really necessary.

I've started asking, "Do I need this?" and "Do I have the money for this?" as I quickly scroll through the posts and see something that would really be a great deal.

Store deals come and go. I could easily run myself ragged with running to the store every time a special deal pops up. Instead I ask myself the above questions. If the answer to one or both is 'yes' then I'll see if I can pick it up during my weekly errands or if we'll be near that store at some other time during the week. Otherwise, I just skip it.

I always check the store match-ups before going grocery shopping and try to print coupons for items I know I'll buy or those that I know will make for a very good deal combined with a sale. I love reading all the articles on frugal and simple living. We occasionally use the free movie codes. And sometimes I'll purchase a Groupon or something else online that is either needed or in the budget.

So maybe I've missed some great deals over the years by taking this laid-back approach to couponing and deals. I will note, though, that I've lived to tell about  it and we haven't suffered one bit!

And I'm pretty sure we've saved a good bit of money this way!

**This post is a part of Life As Mom's Frugal Friday