Monday, April 23, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

Hey y'all! How was your weekend? B and I were busy with spring cleaning, I swear it never ends.

We finally took the time to rent a Rug Doctor to clean our carpets. We have been wanting to do it for several months but I was waiting on the right time. When I checked Rug Doctor's website and found several coupons I knew it was the right weekend. We were able to save $14, only making it $50 to clean our entire house and a couch. I found a $5 mail in rebate, $2.50 off the machine, $1.50 off of cleaner and the Dollar General {where we rented it} had a $5.00 off any $25.00 purchase. So it was a great deal - it took several hours to complete but it was well worth it!

Sunday was our normal running errands and laundry - normally this includes a grocery store run but not this weekend. I am happy to say that we are still running on the grocery run we did last week when we started the self imposed $60 Challenge. One thing this taught me is B and I wasted a ton of food before. We ended up having left overs two nights last week, so that allowed for one meal to run over to this week. Also, to be fair we are still freezer/pantry shopping this week. By using what we already have on hand this is what our weekly menu plan looks like:

Homemade Banana Muffins

B will take (2) ham/cheese sandwhiches with chips, fruit cup, granola bar and crackers each day or left overs since he found a microwave at his new job.
I made tuna salad and egg salad for sandwhiches to last me through the week switching days as I choose, with this I will take a fruit cup, gramham crackers with peanut butter, and pringles.

Monday: Baked chicken, Green Beans and Rice {We used the new Kraft Fresh Takes and we really liked it! We tried the Colby Jack and Bacon mix it was yummy! If you want to try it, visit Kraft Fresh Take for a .50 off coupon, if you shop at Kroger like I do they will double it to $1.00 off.}
Tuesday: Turkey Chilli with Sweet Corn Bread
Wednesday: BBQ Pork Shoulder Steak (crockpot) with Baked Potatoes
Thursday: Jambalaya with sausage and chicken (from last week which was never cooked)
Friday: Left Over Buffet
Saturday: Date Night!!
Sunday: Homemade pizza and wings
I'm thinking we will be able to make the rest of this week on the milk and eggs we have. I normally keep frozen fruit on hand so we should have enough to make our fruit cups for lunch. Since our freezer was pretty full with meats we didn't have to go buy anything. I know this won't happen all the time, but since I stock up on meat when we have a good sale, I think I should be able to do this every few months!

What is on your menu for this week? Are you sticking to a better budget or trying any new meal ideas? Did you do any spring cleaning this weekend? I can't wait to hear what you all are up to!


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What's in your purse?

Earlier this year while I was reading one of my favorite blogs called A bowl full of lemons she featured a purse quiz that I have been eager to take ever since. I am not a girly girl, but I LOVE having a nice handbag. A nice handbag doesn't have to be expensive or name brand all the time, but it has to be functional to your needs. My purse is like my mobil home for real. I never leave the house without it. So, today I finally took the time to hop over to What Does Your Handbag Say About You?

According to my answers, my handbag says.....

  • You tend to be relaxed throughout the day. You are naturally at peace.
  • You are a high maintenance person. You feel lost outside of your normal environment.
  • You are open and comfortable with who you are. You don't hide anything.
  • Your motto is: "Be prepared." You don't like to be surprised by anything.
  • You are practical and down to earth. You tend to be a rather reserved and quiet person.
  • You are a very unique and special person. There's no one else who is anything like you.  
It's weird how just a few questions can pin point your personality because this is me all the way - except the high maintenance part of course :)

Now, on to the fun part! Like most people, I love to see how other people organize. I tend to be a little OCD about certain things in my life and my purse is one of them. It is always clean and everything always has a place to go. I recently bought this handbag through hosting a Thirty-One party and I am so glad I finally got it. Plus, the money saver in me is happy too because I got it 50% off :)

It's called the 5th Ave bag and I bought it in a neutral taupe color. One thing I love about this bag is all the storage.

It has a center pocket that has a zip closure and two large side pockets with magnetic snap closure. One of the side pockets has two smaller pockets inside and the other large side pocket has a zip closure pocket inside.

In one side pocket I keep kleenex on the go pack, I have a small key change which holds most of my store reward cards, a mini zipper thirty-one pouch that holds my lip gloss addiction supply and a thirty-one compact mirror along with my thirty one soft wallet.

The second side pocket holds a thirty-one timeless wallet, which holds my Dollar Store monthly glance calendar and all of our medical insurance, HSA account information, gym membership and check register since I don't carry checks with me. The small zipper pouch holds my tooth brush, tooth paste, wax (gotta love braces!), nail clippers, tweezers and a nail file.  

The center pocket holds most of my work related items I need to keep secure like my office keys, bag and creditionals. I also keep a small coupon filer which holds just dinner and retail coupons since they are the only coupons I keep on me all the time and my thirty-one fold-and-go organizer which holds a notepad and my nook.

Whew! Who knew I had so much in my purse. I told ya it was my mobil home :)

What do you keep in your purse? What does your purse say about you? If you take the quiz, I would love to know the results!!


Monday, April 16, 2012

$60 Challenge

I like to think that I always get the biggest bang for our buck. I honestly hate spending money. But, even more I hate wasting money. Last year I began cutting coupons - extreme couponing? No! But, I coupon enough to know that I was over paying for groceries seriously. I think overall it's hard shopping and cooking for just two people. I swear no matter what we do we always have left overs and we always throw food away at the end of the week.

B and I are trying to cut back expenses, mostly because we have a mile long list of things we would like to do to our house and I would much rather invest in our home than our bellies {unless it's my belly and only if it is housing a baby, which ain't happening right now, so it's time to cut back}.

So after seeing how much we spend monthly on food, including groceries, eating out, lunches out, etc I quickly realized we have a major spending problem. Even though I love to cook sometimes it's just easier with a busy schedule to grab something out. We need to get in a routine and stick to it which seems to be difficult for B and I sometimes.

Starting this week, I have imposed a monthly budget of only $240 for us on food (not including our weekly date night) - which averages out to $60 a week. I started this week by shopping our pantry, fridge and freezer first. Then I planned out our weekly menu which included breakfast, lunch and dinner all week. I didn't have any good coupons to match up to sales, so this first week I had the challenge of staying within our goal without coupons. Yikes!

I took my reuseable bags and my quarter and headed to Aldi's. When B and I moved to Indiana we were lucky enough to move 5 minutes away from a very clean very nice Aldi's. After Aldi's my second trip was to Kroger, which is only a light up the street from Aldi's on my way home. Between the two stores I spent $63.97. For the first week on our new budget, I think I did good.

Our dinner menu this week includes the following:

Monday: Sausage gravy & biscuts with scrambled eggs (we do breakfast for dinner atleast once a month)
Tuesday: Baked chicken with green beans and seasoned brown rice
Wednesday: Grilled pork chops with grilled sweet corn and greens
Thursday: Chicken enchiladas
Friday: Left Over Buffet
Saturday: Date Night {Out to eat}
Sunday: Jambalaya with sausage and chicken

Do you use coupons and/or meal plan weekly? Do you stick to a grocery budget or do you wing it each week with whatever you want to eat? Do you have an Aldi's near you? If so, do you shop there? I would love to hear how you get ahold on the grocery store bills!


Monday, April 9, 2012

Oreo Bon Bons

One of my favorite things about the internet is the ability to get inspiration and ideas from tons of talented people in the blogosphere. Recently, I stumbled across a blog called Jamie Cooks It Up! When I stumbled across the blog the other night I literally spent two hours looking at every recipe she has posted. I love finding great cooking blogs because I get so tired of cooking the same stuff week after week.

When I ran across her Oreo Bon Bon recipe I knew I wanted to try it ASAP. I'm not a huge fan of cake pops. I know they are all the rave right now, but personally I can't see taking the time to make a cake just to crumble it up and mix in a little icing. These Oreo Bon Bons are extremely simple to make and are delicious!

You will need the following:

One package of Oreo's (Any flavor)
One 8oz package of cream cheese
Candy Melts (I always use Wilton which you can buy at Walmart or Michael's)

Put the entire package of oreo's in your blender and mix until the cookies are crushed.

Add the package of cream cheese. I cut mine up in three sections to mix easier.

Mix oreo crumbs and cream cheese until they are completely combined. I think I should have mixed the oreo's a little longer but I was excited and couldn't wait any longer. At this point, I wanted to take a spoon to the bowl and dig in. It smelled delicious but I am a huge fan of cream cheese.

Place your mixture in an air tight container and put it in the freezer for 20 minutes.

I used a small melon baller to make small balls of this oreo goodness. I did roll them in my hand for a few seconds to get a smooth to edges a little. At this point, I put them back in the freezer while I was melting the candy melts.

I used yellow and white because I had them on hand already and I thought the colors were good for Easter. I dropped them in the melted candies and used a fork to get them out. I used the remaining melted candies for additional decorations by drizzling it on top.

Once they dried (about 15 minutes) I put them in a yellow polka dot tin to carry them to our Easter gathering. They were a huge hit. I really liked the golden oreo's but I plan on making them with the chocolate oreo's also.

This was the easiest recipe I have tried in a long time. If you haven't stopped by Jamie Cooks It Up! I would hop over and check out some of her fabulous recipes. She cooks very family friendly meals, everything seems quick, easy and practical.

Did you try any new recipes this weekend? Do you know of any great food bloggers out there that create family friendly meals? Check back tomorrow to get my quick and easy Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcake recipe!


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Coat Closet Re-do

One blog I follow on a regular basis is The Nest Effect written by Tiffany. This year she has started monthly challenges to get organized in 2012. So far she has tackled time organization, financial organization, and paper clutter. I had planned on participating in all her challenges but the first few months of the year were extremely hectic for us so I wasn't able to keep up.

The April challenge is closets and when I saw this I knew I had to make sure I followed. B and I are normally clean individuals. However, our builder basic home has a lack of storage. Well, let's back up. I think it has a lack of storage, but the truth probably is the fact that B and I don't use our storage to the max potentional. As seen below in exhibit A...

Welcome to our coat closet! It's the first closet you get to when you come into our house since we enter through the garage. This closet is in our kitchen "hallway" area. It's where we hang our coats, throw  put our shoes, keep a dog blanket for car rides, two card tables (the chairs are in another closet also downstairs) and anything else we want to keep out of view.

I hate opening this closet because of the sea of shoes. We take our shoes off as soon as we come in and they find a new home in this closet. Why do we need so many pairs of shoes downstairs? I can't tell ya why. I ask myself the same thing.

First thing I did was take everything out of the closet and sweep the floor. Since the shoes covered the floor I am ashamed to say this closet floor hadn't been swept in some time. Between all the dog hair I swear a swept up a small animal. 

At this point I went and apologized to B - I always blame the shoe problem on him; however, the picture above reveals that the top two rows of shoes are mine. Whoops.

Since the shoes had to stay due to frequent outside trips with the dogs and quick errands without going upstairs to our bedroom closet, I knew I had to find some type of shoe storage. Then it hit me, Nate Berkus is always saying to go vertical with your storage. I remembered a few months back I bought this SKUBB organizer with 9 compartments at Ikea for only $4.99. My intentions for the organizer were to hold my purses in our bedroom closet, but I didn't look at the measurements and it was to small. So, it's been hanging in our closet upstairs not being used. The perfect place for it was this coat/shoe closet.

B's shoes are to big to fit, I think I was able to fit one pair of his sneakers in the organizer but his work boots had to stay on the floor. I hung up our two coats, our outdoor blanket and two standium seats. The 9th slot in the vertical organizer is like a small basket so the dog blanket fit perfectly. The top shelf is now completely empty. I placed the two card tables up against the right wall because I don't think they are so "in your face" as soon as you open the door. Again, I was able to do an organization project "free" by shopping our house first. The best thing about this little project, besides it's being free, is that it only took me 10 minutes to complete.

One day I would love to paint the inside of this closet a fun color or stencil but atleast now it is organized and functional. I don't know how many minutes of my life I have wasted digging through the pile of shoes looking for a matching pair.

Do you have a closet that needs to be organized or that you have recently organized? If so, join the monthly challenge held by Tiffany over at The Nest Effect! Even if you don't join in on the challenge I recommend adding Tiffany to you daily or weekly read list. She has great organizing tips for anyone.


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Easter Weekend

Hey y'all! It's a beautiful Saturday in Indiana! The high is suppose to be 67 degrees but it's a bright and sunny day - I love days like this! B and I are getting ready to pack up Nevaeh and Moby to go enjoy some family time with B's mom side of the family. Every year we get together to dye easter eggs, play games, eat a delicious pre-easter meal and have a blast. His mom gives prizes for egg decorating (prettiest, most creative, etc) I can't wait - I am determined to win a prize this year! Every family function I am in charge of the sweets - I love to bake so I don't mind. I made some quick and easy recipes this time, I can't wait to see which ones everyone likes.

Oreo Bon Bon's

Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes

Check back on Monday because I will be posting the Oreo Bon Bon recipe along with my quick and easy Lemon Poppy Seed Cupcake recipe. I forgot to take pictures of the snickerdoodle cucpakes as I was making them but I will still post the recipe without pictures.

I hope everyone has a great Easter weekend!

I would love to hear  about your Easter traditions? Any egg dying contest? Do you cook/bake anything special? Do you plan any large gatherings or easter egg hunts?


Monday, April 2, 2012

Cleaning Out Our Junk

Is it really April already? Where has these past few months gone? I know I haven't posted in a few months but life has been a little crazy around here. Training at work took me away for several weeks, then I caught the flu which put me down for a solid week. It hasn't been pretty over here! But, I am back and ready to blog my heart out :)

I have a few things to post about since it's been forever and a day but I am going to start with our junk. Extremely interesting right? Like most houses in America we have a drawer in the kitchen with is 100% used to hold junk everything we believe is important. This drawer/counter top on any given day normally looked like this

We use the garage door to enter our house daily, which puts you right in the kitchen. This little counter next to our fridge is the first table top we get too. Normally I pile the paper items (books I am currently reading if they aren't on my nook, mail, receipts). My husband drops everything on this counter (his keys, spare change, his pocket knife and normally any firearm accessories he may be working on).

The drawer below this counter is my drawer of shame! I know most households have one but this bothers me all the time. This is the catch all. I keep my candle lighters in here, loose pens/pencils, a notebook, card games, etc. It was driving me crazy! I had a no spend budget - I wanted to work with things already around the house.

I had these white storage trays, which I purchased from Walmart, that were not being used. They came two to a pack and they were $2.00 a piece.

I had three different sizes (you will see the third size in the drawer since I forgot to take a picture). I love these storage trays, I use them in a lot of my drawers just to keep things together.

I needed something to put on the counter that would hold B's stuff that normally is just sitting on the counter. I thought of this Ikea plant pot that was only $1.99, which I also already had on hand. I love these pots at Ikea because you can use them for virtually anything!

My first step was to clean out the drawer {duh, right?}. I also completely cleaned off the counter which isn't pictured. I promise I will get better with taking before and after pictures as I post more projects :)

Then I wiped down the drawer. Please tell me how dirt and loose staples get in a drawer that (1) never held dirt and (2) never housed staples.

I only placed the storage trays on one side to leave space for items that wouldn't fit in a tray. I have two slim trays, a larger rectangle, and two smaller square trays in the back.

Then I sorted through everything in the drawer. Most of it was true junk which could be thrown away. In the first slim tray I put all of our pens and pencils for easy access. The second tray is for my coupon scissors since I normally clip my coupons at the kitchen table and our mail opener. I love this mail opener, we don't always use it but it belonged to B's grandfather and he loves it so it stays. The larger tray is holding true miscellanous items (tape, scented oil for a diffuser, an unused cell phone because you never know when you will need a back up, and a few other things I simply couldn't decide what to do with). The two smaller trays in the back are used for (1) our phone charger, iPod charger, and nook charger since we normally use the counter above this drawer as our charging area and (2) two card games we like to keep handy. The right side of the drawer has enough space to hold a tape measure, a notebook for quick notes, and my two candle lighters.

For the counter, I added this coin counter B received as a christmas gift from one of his brothers last year, a photo of me and my mom, and the Ikea plant pot to hold B's items, which is working great! It's big enough to hold B's keys, lighter (yes, he is a smoker), pocket knife, sunglasses and cologne which he randomly puts on before he walks out the door.

It's been several weeks since this change and I can happily say it still looks like this! The coin jar is in a great place since we can just empty our pockets as soon as we get home. The coin jar counts it for us so that's a bonus ha-ha.

Another great thing about this little transformation is it was free since everything we already had on hand. If you didn't have any of these items, it would roughly cost you $9.00 ($6.00 on storage trays at Walmart, $2.00 for Ikea plant pot, $1.00 for the picture frame from the dollar tree). I'm not sure how much the coin jar cost since it was a christmas gift - I've seen them at Kohls and Walmart for no more than $6.00!

Have any of you been tackling junk drawers/cabinets lately? If so, I would love to see if you add a comment with a link to your blog!

P.S. You may notice from these pictures our kitchen is no longer the builder yellow. I will update the house pictures soon since some rooms have an updated look so check back soon!