Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What a Crazy Week

What a crazy week. I am so behind on all my computer fun, a little behind on the house, but have had fun.

I didn't realize how much of my life is associated with computer use. My laptop is what I use to post to the blog, check my mail, read other blogs, look up things on the spur of the moment. It is so infected with virus critters that I cannot do a single thing with it. Pretty nasty little guys as one of them, or all of them, have managed to disable the anti-virus program so it cannot even begin to detect them to remove them. I have some photos on there that I need to save to CD, but have been afraid I would end up saving the virus as well. Hubby assures me this is not how it works, but I am still not sure. Checked in to getting it fixed, looking at $200.00 there. For $300 can get a brand new computer. The computer guy said that probably couldn't save any of the files on it, so why not just start from scratch?

The desk top computer has a few little issues, but is workable. No one much used it, mainly it is set up because that is where the wireless router is located. At any rate, when I bought a new computer desk for it, I did not get a user friendly one. It is physically painful to use for any length of time, like more than 10 minutes. I have my eye on a new desk set that is compact. You would not believe how many of the cheaper computer desk are not set up for towers. Guess that is soon to be a thing of the past. At any rate, the desk I am looking at has a little printer stand that comes with it and it is large enough to put the tower on. If I am going to get back in to scrapbooking, or even printing off of a photos, I need to set my printer/scanner where it is a lot easier to get to for scanning. It sits on a shelf now as it is a wireless printer, which works great for printing off calendars and recipes and letters, but not at all for scanning. It can be done, but I want to scan a lot of my mom's photos and standing on tippy toe to get the paper changed and photo on the scanner glass is just really not working. So...while hubby is gone this week, I plan to work on moving things around a bit in our bedroom and just putting the desktop and printer together in a corner like it used to be. I would like to have it in my craft room, but the main connection for the internet and the wireless set up cannot be moved easily and I can move my personal schedule around to work on any computer or photo needs during the day so not to disturb my hubby who goes to sleep way early.

My little grandson emailed me the cutest note the other day. My oldest daughter, his mom, set him up a little email account so we can write to each other. Of course, just as it gets set up, I loose my computer. But I will work with what I have and it will be fine. My poor little farm is probably all dried up since I have been spending little time on Facebook.

Along with all this chaos, I joined a bowling league that bowls on Fridays. Thankfully it is a short league, because I am not going to stay on for the next session. Soon it will be summer league season and I will find a league that plays on a different day of the week. Fridays are just good days for me to commit to being there, and you pay whether you are there or not. I am having a lot of fun with it though.

As for menu planning. I didn't this week and the funny thing is how off it feels. Kind of like I am a little unsettled because of it. Hubby has been gone again this week, thankfully this is a once a year thing, and I have been really lazy about the meals with just J and I. Eating out way too much, but I will make up for it and we have been really picky about the cost and nutrition of what we eat. Over the week end, I will get the menus and recipes caught back up. I can just pick up with what wasn't used and start there. Now that I have my freezer and pantry stocked up, pretty well any way, I plan to take a whole day and plan all of February out. Monster task, but I am up for the challenge. Now that I am getting the house back to the point where it is just keep up or maintain, it will go quicker with that as well. I am aiming for better time management so I can craft with out guilt. I tend to get focused in on what I am doing, okay obsessed, and knowing that I am really making an effort to multi-task the essentials. The plan is to spend the mornings with upkeep, afternoon with crafting, then dinner and taxi service, then have the evenings to continue working on what ever project I am working on. Along with the paper crafts I am back in to I hope to add in some fabric crafts (quilting, sewing, embroidery) which for some reason I am being resistant to jumping back in to. I am sure there is some deep psychological reason for this, but refuse to evaluate that area today.

Everything seems to be going fine now with my daughter-in-law and appears to progressing with the pregnancy well. New due date is August 17. Personally, I think they are off by about a month, but what do I know? Her birthday is tomorrow, so we are having a family dinner on Sunday evening to celebrate. It has always been a tradition to go out to eat somewhere for birthdays, choice of restaurant went to birthday person. The size of our family now has gotten it to where the cost has been over a hundred, some times close to two hundred dollars. I know that it has been a real treat for everyone, especially myself, to have those little outings, but that equates to half my monthly budget for just one meal. I made the decision, with great gratitude from hubby, to change over to birthday dinners being at our house. We are going to cook steak and trimmings for every one at a fraction of the cost, and quite frankly I am so spoiled to hubby cooking the steak that the ones at the restaurant just can't compare. Now that I am getting my kitchen all tricked out with great gadgets it will be a real joy to cook larger meals, even the smaller ones for that matter. I just wished that all the things on my wish list weren't so expensive.

With that said, I have to say I am looking forward to my pressure cooker arriving. I returned the defective one and bought a little higher model that had lots of great reviews. It is dual purpose, working as an electric Pressure cooker or Slow cooker which is a bonus, especially since my favorite crock is acting crazy lately, burning everything around the edges. I actually have a few crock pots in different sizes, but am down sizing a few things to make more space in the kitchen.

That about catches everyone up with what is going on around here. Oh, one more thing, next week a national educator is coming to the local scrapbook store and I am taking one of her classes. Her name is Jenn Star and she is with Ranger inks. The class is called Ink Boot Camp and will teach a variety of ink and embossing techniques. Great thing is that the project for the class makes a 6x6 mini-album that is a reference manual for what we will be learning. I love stamping and embossing, more than the other paper crafts, so am really looking forward to this. There was another class that is devoted to techniques, but due to cost I had to choose and this class description seems to be more of what I like doing.

I slept in a little later than usual this morning due to the foggy weather, school had another fog delay, and while it was nice it sure makes the day half gone already. So it seems anyway. Off of here and on to other things. Thanks for dropping in, come back often.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Finally Friday

It is finally Friday. Has certainly been a weird week, but an okay week. Here is a little wrap up.

The menu plan was followed half the time, which beats the previous weeks where it was only a day or two. Things just happen that makes you have to adapt a bit. Like on Wed. when hubby unexpectedly pulled in to a local Mexican food place on the way home from Walmart. Then last night, Miss J went to a friends house to eat so hubby said he would just eat a bowl of cereal, I didn't argue with. Now tonight he said he would take me out since he is going to be gone all week. I have pork chops that have been thawed since Wednesday late, so will for sure make those tomorrow.

I already posted about my sick computer, I guess I will let it go to sleep a while and put it up in the closet until we figure out what to do about it. I can use the desk top, so it isn't like I am with out a computer, but I will for sure be moving things around this week so I can get the printer/scanner in the same room with the computer. Especially if I plan to print out any photos for some scrapbook projects I have going. I would like to move it in to the craft room, but that won't work as the router is set up in our bedroom and the internet cable to that room doesn't work. I will however, figure some way to make it work.

Speaking of scrapbooking, I had great time at a card making class yesterday. She has the class each month and makes themed cards for it. This month was valentine cards. Here are mine.

These were fun little cards that used a couple of different techniques. You can't really tell by the photo, but the red heart with the little silk flowers has tulle netting behind the heart to make it stand out. Here is a closer view.

With all the dry embossing and distressed edges I think that this was my favorite to make. Now I am wanting to take another class on Tues. that teaches making paper flowers. I would love to learn, but wonder if I would really make them enough to justify the cost of the class. They are so beautiful, but very bulky in my opinion for adding on to scrapbook pages or a card. The new year is bringing so many classes at the store that I think there are other classes I would get more benefit from. There are a couple of classes that are more of a club than a class and they meet each month. I think I am going to join a couple of those each month as I will really learn a lot from them and it will keep me in the mood to work on things. The two I am thinking about are the Cricut club, which is pretty much a sure thing since not only do I learn what all the Cricut can do, but I get a discounted rate on using the store's cartridges. The other is a stamping club and since I really love stamping the most, I think that would be a great one as well as getting a stamp each month.

Guess that is it for today. I am going to go grab a bite to eat and then see what I can find to work on in my craft den. If I could find my red cards with the envelopes I would start making some Christmas cards and maybe complete them by November to send out. I have an idea for a Valentine card, which will just be for decoration, so may see what I can do about making that happen.

Drop back in to see me any time.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Good Thursday Morning

Hello all, I have been out of pocket so to speak lately.

Tuesday was really busy with taking mom to a couple of places. Then didn't really get a chance to get back on the computer to visit or post. Wednesday came and went and still not sure when or how it passed through. I just kind of took a me day and did a few things for fun. Finally had a little bit of sun so just had to get out of the house...on my own. Also, woke up yesterday to find that my laptop is totally in need of the intensive care unit due to virus. I would really like a few minutes alone with the person that thinks those things up.

So, have had to come back to the old desk top that is sitting in our bed room. Guess I will have to make some adjustments to the sewing room so I can get it moved in there, it will never work to have the computer, printer and craft set up in two different rooms. Especially to work on scrapbooks, I need to be close by the scanner. Guess that will be a project that moves up the list next week while hubby is gone. This particular virus is nasty in that it is a scam virus. It puts up a message box that you have 32 virus infections, ask you to activate you anti virus program, but it takes you to an internet web site asking you for money. I am also sure that it is set up in at least two foreign (no in the US) countries if the authorities were to actually trace it and try to charge some one...anyone...for it. It would be a federal offense since a person could make a case for wire fraud and bank fraud. Like I said, just five minutes with the creator, I would like just five minutes with the person(s) that launch this mess and try (and I am sure that there are a lot of people that send them money) to profit from it.

Tuesday the dinner was okay. Not great, not bad, but okay. There was a little of the hominy left but not enough to keep and sure not enough to bother me as I tossed it in the trash. Tonight will be the pork chops that was on the menu plan for last night. We had a little shopping to do so hubby decided he was in the mood for mexican food and took us to a little place by the house. It was pretty good and the special was chicken fajitas, very good price. I must say, I had never had fajitas with mushrooms in it before. Also, their refried beans were a lighter color bean, not the pinto bean I am used to. Had a really good flavor. I am however, feeling very good at having the menu plans in place and sticking to them. However, since hubby is going to be out of town again for a week, he told me that he was taking me out Friday to where ever I want to go. Wonder what he will say when I tell him I want to go to Walmart and exchange the TV stand I have for a different one? He got me a flat screen TV for Christmas and the stand I want comes with a shelf unit and bracket unit to attach to the wall for the TV. This will be so great as the shelves are not as wide from the wall out as the chest I have sitting there and will give me a nice convenient spot to place the printer/scanner that is much easier to get to. Also will bring the eye level of the TV up so I don't feel like I am looking at the floor. At any rate, I am looking forward to the class, as it will be a little me time out of the house.

Today, I am going to the local scrapbook store for a card making class. When I say local, I mean really local, as in literally a few blocks from the house. I know how to make cards, but I really need some ideas to push me in to working on something again.

Also, hubby suggested that I join a bowling league, so I am heading up to the bowling alley to see if that vacant spot she told me about is still available. I hope it is. If it is, I will be bowling on Friday mornings. If it is already filled, I will join the new season in March.

Guess I better get moving, need to dress and get my supply bag together for the class. It was so nice and sunny yesterday and today the fog is back, can't even see the next block. I am so tired of this weather. Thanks for taking time to read my post and come back again soon.

Monday, January 17, 2011

More Monday

Just thought I would drop back in and comment on dinner tonight. It was actually better than I had hoped. You see, I have not had a lot of luck with pork roast and I used my slow cooker which is trying to give it up suddenly, cooking really hot, even on low. But, there is always a little more to the story sometimes, so here we go.

I woke up early, couldn't go back to sleep, so gave up trying and got up. I caught up on my emails, checked on the farm (facebook game which has lost interest to me lately) got started on some more laundry, did the dishes, then started some of the dishes for supper. I was asked for recipes, so am going to try and post them, at least some of them, from time to time. Most of the time I don't really use a recipe, which I need to work on as I am terrible at estimating proportions and have no idea what ingredient is gong to do what to the dish.

On to he meal. First thing, I started the pork roast. Now this really isn't much of a recipe, but here is what I did. Most of the time I do brown the meat, or sear it, but this time I didn't. I put the pork roast in the crock, added one can of beef broth, one package instant onion soup mix, one packet ranch dip mix, added a little water and let it cook. Then I started the beans. You ever get it in your head that you want to eat something that has a certain taste? Maybe one from a long time ago? Or a dish that has that something special because of what it makes you feel or remember? That was me today.

And this was the dish. Long name is Pennsylvania Dutch Green Beans, actually a variation of it. My mom used to fix these all the time and I just love that sweet sour taste from the vinegar and sugar. I got all set to make it, couldn't remember the quantities. Searched for over an hour for my Airstream Cookbook (my parents were members for years) but never found it. I know it is around here somewhere, it was not that long ago that I saw it. I finally just gave up the search. I knew the name, so I got online and googled it. Well, found almost a hundred different sites that had it. Started with the first site, WHOA! NOT the recipe. Looked through the others, the same recipe with minor adjustments in measurement and cooking. So, I winged it, doing what I remembered, I remembered well thankfully. Here is mom's recipe and a little different name.

Marinated Green Beans

2 cans French-cut green beans
1 Med. onion, cut in rings
8 Strips bacon
1/2 c. slivered almonds
6 T. sugar
4 T. vinegar

Drain beans, put in casserole dish. Place separated onions over beans. Fry bacon strips, save drippings. Cut bacon strips in halves, lay over onion rings. Sprinkle almonds over bacon. Add sugar and vinegar to the bacon drippings. Heat drippings and pour over casserole. Marinate several hours or over night. Bake 45 minutes at 350.

NOTE: I usually quarter my onion rings, my kids don't like a whole piece of onion. I took a short cut and cut up the bacon before cooking it. I don't care for French cut green beans, so I used regular green beans.

I guess I am also starting the week off already falling off the meal plan. I switched out rice for the mashed potatoes tonight, was just hungry for rice for some reason.

Dinner was a success tonight, no left overs, so that is what counts. Well, there was a lot of meat left, after all it was almost 5 pounds of roast. I cooked it all planning on putting at least half in the freezer. Got just a little over half. Now my pork roast is already cooked to use in the pulled pork sandwiches or tamales. (Am going to give it a go to make some pork tamales from scratch) Guess that is about it for tonight. Off to take a nice warm bath then to bed. Had to take mom on some errands today, it always wears us out. Because of the holiday today, have to take her again in the morning to finish up a couple of stops. She will be happy to back to her apartment in time to eat and get to the beauty shop, I will be happy to be home when the fridge repairman comes. A piece on my ice maker has been broken for a while, and when I was cleaning out some drawers I found the repair warranty that I had bought which hasn't expired yet, so I figured as long as it is still covered might as well get it fixed up. That is why we buy the extended warranty...right?

Thank you so much for dropping in for a visit, feel free to leave a comment. It is always nice to know some is reading this.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Menu Plan Monday Jan 17-23

Wow, am I ever in the middle of a job. I have tackled the mound of clothes on the floor in my bedroom, hanging up some of them, some of them the dogs have been all over so have to wash those again.

I enjoy participating in Menu Plan Monday (MPM) and I wanted to make sure that I got my menu posted for the week, so taking a minute to go a head and post. Am still working on a menu plan for the next few weeks as well, but it is still in the tweaking stage.

This week - Jan 17 - 23 - at our house:

Mon. - Pork Roast, mashed potatoes, Dutch green beans.
Tue. - Stuffed bell pepper, hominy casserole.
Wed. - Baked pork chops, carrots, broccoli.
Thu. - Chicken spinach enchiladas, Frito salad.
Fri. - Salisbury steak, potatoes, green beans.
Sat. - Spaghetti, salad.
Sun. - Tamales, rice.

For more inspiration for your own meal planning, head on over to I'm an Organizing Junkie to see all the fellow bloggers that participate in MPM.

Thanks for dropping in, I will try to post recipes this week as I cook. Have to get back to my cleaning, purging job so I have a bed to sleep on. Will post details of my progress later.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday - Organizing Process

My goodness, here it is already Friday and I have only accomplished about half of what I had on my list. But at least there is progress, so I will take it.

OH MY this is so frustrating. My keyboard is not working correctly, every few keystrokes are being dropped, more like never getting there. I guess I am typing faster than the keyboard can register.

At any rate. I am taking a break to post a few things. I have been doing a lot of sorting and purging of my kitchen. Well, related to running the kitchen at any rate. I have been following so many things over on I'm an Organizing Junkie. I wish I had half the drive and passion that Laura does. I am continually inspired by not only Laura by her followers as well.

If you have been following my little blog, you already know that I am part of MPM, and am working on not only intending to plan the meals out each week, but actually putting it in writing. There are hundreds of fellow bloggers, although I am no where close to the same league as they are, that all post their menu plans as well, reading over them gives a person great ideas and some great recipes. Eventually I will add recipes to my postings, I just need to get it all together a bit more. Look back to here for my weekly menu.

Another great segment on Laura's blog is the 52 Weeks of Organizing. Each Friday she shares organizing ideas and other bloggers post what they are doing to get organized as well. I love all the creative ideas. There are also some great free printables to be found on the site as well. I caught some inspiration for my overwhelming collection of recipe print outs, cut out of magazines, cookbooks and just family shared that are written out. Before, I could not find the recipe I wanted that is one of the family favorites, couldn't even decided on what to cook that night for the meal much less think ahead for the next day. As a result, meals were thrown together and while they were edible, not very enjoyable. I used some tips from various blogs and here is how my organizing went for the week.

I needed to buy groceries and stock my freezer and pantry so I could actually get back to cooking. I couldn't even plan the day's meal because I had no meat to cook. So I thought, so I cleaned out the freezers to see what I could fine.

Was I ever shocked when I finished sorting and purging. I found enough chicken to feed this family every night for about six weeks. Found a couple of roast, package of steaks, some sausage, bacon (4 packages) and an assortment of vegetables along with a small treasure of processed single dinners for my lunches and such. I was elated. Meat is the most expensive part of the budget. I started a grocery list, did need some ground beef and pork. My family would rebel at chicken every night. Okay, then I moved on to the pantry.

Here are before and after photos of the spice cabinet, yes cabinet as I am a collector of spices and my hubby is obsessed with trying new ones. Besides, have no idea what else I would do with that little small cabinet right by the stove.

And, yes, those spices just sat all over the counter because there was no room in the cabinet. I purged out all the old spices. They don't really expire, but will loose their strength. If I opened the bottle and could not smell the spice, it went in the trash. I also had about two dozen old metal Schilling brand tin cans that still had paper price tags on the bottom. I am pretty sure that I cannot buy a big tin can full of Anise for .67 any more. I also had spices that I know where purchased when I first married, almost 30 years ago.

Here are the before and after pantry cleaning and organizing. I had so much empty space, that the after photo includes all the canned goods and such I bought when I got this bill of groceries. The pantry is the thorn in my side when it comes to this kitchen. I have a huge problem with little tiny brown moths. I will say it used to be worse, it was almost enough to drive me insane as I would walk in to the kitchen at night and hit the light to be swarmed by them. My only redeeming thoughts were that at least they weren't roaches or mice. At any rate, I found some pantry moth traps at Home Depot and those things are just awesome, true sanity savers. You see, they lay eggs that are about the size of a pin head, are sticky, and seem to melt through what ever they are attached to. Then the eggs drop through in to the box of flour, cereal, gelatin, pasta, anything and every thing. The eggs then hatch in to little larvae that look like maggots, which then spin a sticky web to hide in until they turn in to the little brown moth and start the whole thing all over again. It is always so disheartening to end up throwing away boxes of cake mixes, crackers, even rice. Long ago I took to putting most things in plastic containers, but they still get in. Well, you get the idea.

Now that I have my freezer all sorted, the spices and pantry done, had already done the fridge last week, I was then able to make a grocery list. But wait I thought, I should have some idea of what I am cooking for the next couple of weeks before I head out. I dumped all my recipes in the floor of my cave (what my hubby calls my sewing/craft room) along with my list of ingredients on hand. I was immediately overwhelmed. I quickly just pulled off about five favorites that I knew my daughter would eat. Hubby has been gone all week, so knew I could eat pasta and fish and such. I then just pulled together a more common grocery list of things I knew I was out of (because I had just cleaned the pantry out) that I use a lot of. It worked well so far.

Last night, I began sorting and purging recipes. Still have way more to go through. Also have my cooking magazines and cookbooks to go through as well. First I sort by what is TNT (tried and true) that are family favorites, then recipes I want to try sooner as opposed to someday. Then I sorted that down to meats and sides in one folder and desserts and breads in another. Once I get through all the sorting I will do a more precise sorting. I have MasterCook software on my computer and I plan to take advantage of that. I can enter the recipes (to get rid of all the pieces of paper laying out) then will save them in to a cookbook (the name of a file folder in the program) for just meal plans. I can then use the functions in the program to plan a menu, print the recipes for that meal, and it will even generate a grocery list based on the menu plan. If I really get it together, I can enter what I have on hand in to the pantry list and will check to see if I have it on hand before adding it to the shopping list. All that is farther down the road than I can realistically get to at the present, so I needed to go ahead and plan out a few weeks of of meals now.

With some ideas from a few other blogs and determining a system that would work for my way of thinking, I came up with a pretty organized little easy set up. While looking back and forth, literally across the store, through the scrapbook and school/office supplies, I found this really cool report cover.

It has a bound edge, a clear front, a clear pocket on the opposite side to keep the paper edges in for additional protection. So, I got on the computer in Excel and created a blank monthly calendar. Each week is color coded, to make it easier for the way our life works I started the week with Monday. A small open circle is in each day so I can add the corresponding date. Lines are included for writing the main dish and sides in. Now here is my creative twist. The report cover has two metal prongs to load the papers on so I can put a calendar page and all the recipes together. When I first started this, I had it in my mind that I would just use a dry erase marker and write it all in on the report cover, which wipes off easily for the next month. However, I have since decided that I will just print off one each month and just write on it with pen and note if I actually followed the plan. That will give me a record of what I made when, what was a hit and what wasn't and how long it has been since I cooked a favorite dish. Don't want to burn the family out on hamburgers. Now, I found this square cork bulletin board for pretty cheap at Walmart. When I purchased it, was going to laminate the calendar blank and use it with wipe off pens. I might eventually go to that, but felt that for just starting off this would work better for me and retain more usable information to keep me organized now that I am getting it all together. Besides, loved the little close pin clips. I just attached a piece a ribbon across it and just like hanging clothes.

Next, I wanted something that the family could look at and see what was for supper that night. You know I have a bit of an attitude from time to time so when they would ask "What's for super?" I would answer "food!" and go on with what am doing. Originally I had thought that I could make a version of a scrapbook page that permanently had the days of the week on it, a few lines beside it to write in the the main and sides, write in if we were going out or something that evening. It would be laminated so I could write in and wipe off the meal plans and activities. Would then put that on the fridge. Instead I found this cheap plastic easel type photo frame, and just used Excel to create blanks to load in the frame. I think it is a good idea.

In fact, I am going to purchase an extra easel frame to hold recipes while I am cooking. Easy hands free way of having the recipe in easy view.

The blanks are cheap to print off and then fill in. Eventually, I will get to the point to where I can just pull out the old menus, see what was liked, what wasn't and just recycle the meals. It will sure go quicker when It is all entered in the computer and I can just select the recipes for the menu plan, generate and print off the grocery list for those recipes and be done. It is a goal any way, after all, eventually I want to have the house organized so I can take the time to work on, and find the supplies I need, my hobbies. Maybe schedule it in like we do Miss J. and her ice skating lessons, Awanas, and such. I have scrapbooking on one day, laundry on one day, sewing on one day, weekly cleaning a day, quilting another day. Maybe then I will have time to do the things I want to do. Some things, like writing, blogging, reading or such are more of daily needs, but if I can get it all organized around the house, I can possibly set aside a few hours each day for the things I enjoy. Especially with the prospect of starting a little sewing business up. If I don't get my organized enough to keep the house up once it is all in order it will just not be possible to start up the little business for myself.

Also, have not been able to stick with the menu plan to well this week, but have been able to cook up a meal at home, so no expense of eating out. That is exceptional for me, what with hubby being out of town all week. Shows me that I can do it for the week that he will be gone again. We went last night an got Miss J her new glasses, which actually came in on Monday but no one from the optical called to tell me.

She is so happy to have them. She picked the frames out herself and made the comment to a friend how nice it was to be able to read the signs in the mall and be able to read the price tags. Poor kid, inherited my wonky eye sight, one eye near sided, one eye far sided. I remember getting my first pair of glasses (silver teardrop wire frames) when I was the same age as her.

The photo was taken with my new Samsung Galaxy phone. Still have a lot to learn with that thing.

Well, enough for today, I am off to move the laundry around and then back to sorting through my recipes. I am feeling really rough today so am just hanging around the house. Tomorrow is the scrapbook store's crop and bunco night and I am so looking forward to that. Probably more the bunco than the crop. The ladies at the crop are kind of snobby. I have learned however, that I am only going to work on one project. Taking only the essentials to work on that one project. I started a chipboard album for my mom and never finished it, have all the photos laid out on the pages, the papers as well as little do dads to add here and there. I am sure I will have to purchase a few things at the crop, but I am not going to overload myself again by taking so many things to work on that no progress is made at all. I will post the project on Monday. In the mean time, today will be laundry and working with the recipes. It will be a nice accomplishment just have my boxes of recipes all sorted and in one box. I have a plastic container with hanging files in it that I have designated for the use of cooking. In other words, recipes, menu plans, blanks for all of that, and the past ones. Any recipe I cook that doesn't turn out, doesn't go over with the family, will be tossed. I so look forward to being able to find what I am looking for instead of going place to place hoping to find what I am looking for.

Thanks for dropping in and have great day.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I am so tired.

I am so tired. For some reason I woke up this morning at around 3 am. and could not go back to sleep. I went ahead and got up and did a few things on the computer, that helped make me sleepy enough to go back to bed and fall asleep for a little longer. On the positive side of all of this, I am getting a good deal accomplished that normally would not happen.

Speaking of accomplishments, my whole list of chores for today never even attempted to hit the real world. Instead, I took my list to the grocery store. I spent almost twice what I had planned to, so instead of worrying over it I have just decided to see if I can make it all last the whole month. I will rework my future menu plans to consider what is already in my pantry and freezer. I have challenged my self to cut the spending for the family budget in the areas that I can control.

After getting J. off to school and laundry moved around, I dressed and with list in hand headed to the grocery store. Came home, put it all away, then ate, then made another trip to a different store for the items on my list for that store, got it all put away, then made supper, ate it, and cleaned the kitchen all up.

Second day in a row to ditch the menu plan, but it works out in the end. Tonight I made pan seared coconut crusted tilapia, cheese tortellini and spinach salad. Sounds fancy, I watched a You Tube video to learn how to pan sear, but whole thing was cooked with in thirty minutes or so. It all tasted well, just enough of the sides left over to throw together tomorrow to make a tortellini salad for my lunch. I posted this photo to my Facebook and hubby saw it and called to see how come I don't cook like that for him. I just laughed and reminded him that one, he doesn't like fish and two, he doesn't like pasta. He is skiing with son G. who is in also in charge of the meals. They had sloppy joe for supper. Hubby also complimented by telling me my plate looked like something he would get at a restaurant, then son G. in the background stated I am spending too much time watching cooking shows. Hubby told me to keep watching. In all seriousness, I must admit that I do cook a little better now that I am not working and have time to actually cook a meal. I really need to work more on getting all the dishes ready at the same time.

I have had enough of being tired and cold, so going to go take a shower and try to warm up a little before doing a little more wandering around the world of blogs.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Organize for blessings.

OH MAN, WHAT BLESSINGS, thank you dear Lord.

I am cleaning out my freezers, which was on my to-do list but wanted to do it while hubby was gone, and defrosting the deep freeze. Here is how it goes. I have a medium size upright freezer that holds the bulk of my hoarding, I mean stock pile, which sits in the garage. Also in the garage we have a small fridge with a freezer on top. This was essential to take advantage of California's stupid way of pricing milk. If you buy two of the same kind of milk, you get the second one for like a dollar. When the boys were home, I would go through about 8 gallons a week so we would buy 6 gallons at a time, putting one in the house fridge and the others in the extra fridge. Now we are down to about 3 gallons a week with only daughter J. at home with us. Now it holds a lot of beer and a little extra produce. I am hoping to use it less for actual food as I always forget what I have out there and it goes bad. WE WASTE A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF FOOD. It is just shameful and I have vowed to make changing that a top priority. Any way, then we have the side by side in the kitchen. Not the largest one they make, but the largest that will fit in the wall space. If you are keeping up, that equates to 5 laundry baskets of food items to go through (making a list of what I have as I go along to make it easier to keep up with what I have on hand) and the Schwan man is making a very small delivery today. I didn't order much this time as I wanted to see just exactly what I do have on hand. I will be writing about my little experience today as I take breaks from sorting and waiting for the freezer to defrost. I would use a heat gun, but there is just something about standing that close to water with something electrical in hand.

By the way, if you would please say a prayer for my sweet daughter in law, she is 8-10 weeks pregnant and on bed rest. The doctor thinks her body is trying to miscarry. This is there first child and they have been so excited.

Off to work a little more.

My hands are numb, but the job is done. To my utter amazement, the only meat I really need to buy is ground beef and pork chops. My grocery list is really shrinking. YEAH! Now, to load it all back in, get a bite to eat and warm up, take a pair of shoes to my daughter, then the pantry is next.

Didn't have to take the shoes, school called and daughter is ill so just picked her up. Drove to Grocery Outlet to see about some dog beds they advertised on sale. Naturally they were out and no rain checks. My poor little mutt Tater Pup (the old man himself) is trying to squeeze himself on to a dog coat that was left laying on the patio. The cement is so cold, the weather is pretty cold, well extremely cold for this area. My mom had an old blanket that finally fell apart (well the nap fell off in places) and she had given it to me for the dogs to sleep on. I cut it in to four pieces and put it on the patio. Dumb me was thinking one piece for each dog. NO WAY! Tater has taken all of it over, growling at anyone that comes close. Oh well, he deserves it.

Spent the rest of the afternoon and evening cleaning out the pantry. I always hate that job because it really irritates me and saddens me when I look at all the food I am having to throw away. A lot of money in the trash. I just can't seem to get rid of those pesky tiny brown moths, which lay eggs, that hatch into little maggot looking larvae, capable of drilling a hole in to most any type of package and eating it up while leaving a huge sticky web like cocoon to live in while it turns in to a tiny brown moth, that lays eggs and it starts all over again. The job is complete at any rate and I am totally worn out. The great thing is now I know what I have, and more important don't have, to work with so can now get my list updated and go buy some groceries. I have been buying a day or two worth of groceries at a time and it has been killing me. I hate going to the store, don't really much care for shopping unless it is for craft supplies, so I do a big bulk trip twice a month. Now I am ready to shop knowing that I have 5 packages of icing and no cake mixes. I know I could make my own cake with out a store bought mix, but I don't mind paying for that convenience at all. It really is amazing how something so full it was keeping the cabinet doors from closing completely can be cleaned, organized and look so empty.

I should have cooked, had it all planned. Schwan man dropped off this morning, thought I had ordered tamales, but didn't. As I mentioned earlier, my daughter in law is on doctor's orders to take it easy and stay in bed as much as she can until they figure out if she is going to miscarry. I am praying that it all comes out with both of them healthy, but must admit am so excited at the prospect of another grand baby to play with. Any way, I decided to take a pizza over to them, so naturally picked one up for Miss J. and I as well. I have been working on the freezer and kitchen since 7 this morning, I deserve it. I will cook tomorrow.

I am dead on my butt, but it is a good kind of tired because it is a result of some positive energy use. Now, tomorrow's plan is to pull the leaves from my dining table and put them up until needed, sweep and mop the floors, put up the laundry in my bedroom, take J. to her skating lesson then go from there. But for now, I am heading off to shower and jump in bed.

Thanks for stopping in and I will let you know how things are going with all my challenges and list of things to do.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

WOW! A week of this year is gone.

Goodness, a week of 2011 has already gone by, 51 more to go. Guess that is assuredly one of those "how you see it" things. Like a glass is half full or half empty. The majority of the time I tend to be a half empty type of person. Probably due to being raised by the unofficial queen of guilt and doom. I truly believe my mom just can't be happy unless she has either piled on the guilt to the point of making a person throw up their arms in surrender or unless she has at least one major point of life or situation to worry about.

For example, she worried no one would want her house, then she worried it wouldn't sell quick enough, then worried it wouldn't sell for high enough price, now it is all over and done and she is worried she will live longer than she has money to live on. I just give up with trying to figure it out. Realize that this is the same person that in one sentence tells me how proud she is of me, how talented I am, what a good mother I am. five sentences later is telling me I am a disappointment on a number of levels. You think I would just get used to it and get over it. But no. Why you ask? Because just know she tells me that she knows I have a lot of work to do around the house because she I have been having to help take care of the house contracts and such for her...hopes that now things are over we can settle down a bit and just relax or that I can get things done around the house that I need to...oh by the way, when are you coming over again?

Such is my life.

Hubby and son G. are embarking on their big ski week in the morning. They are taking our RV and staying in it. Hubby said he would pay for the campground and gas along with his lift ticket and that G. pays for his lift ticket and buys the food. He planned out the week, bought the groceries and brought them over here to load in to the trailer. He is quite a cook in all honesty, am impressed with his skills. Hanging out with the chefs on his breaks has paid off. He bought enough food to feed an army. There is no danger of starvation on that trip.

Speaking of food, it is once again time to post my weekly menu. Last week did not go as planned, mainly since I was playing around with a new gadget a few nights. But, that works out in the end as well. Yesterday I brought home my new Kitchenade mixer. I can't wait to try this puppy out and such an ordeal to get it. But today has been full of ordeals and I am still here, so those are stories for another time. I still am ticked off with AT&T at this point, but will have my revenge in the end. I already have it figured out.

Okay, here is the menu I will be posting on MPM over at The Organizing Junkie. There was 471 fellow bloggers that posted their meal plans for the week along with some recipes last Monday. I am always excited to see who all is cooking what. A HUGE INSPIRATION, so here we go.

Mon - Tamales and beans (Schwan delivery tomorrow and they are in the order)
Tues - Chicken Asian Salad
Wed - Subway (busy night with J helping at Awanas and me to a scrapbook class)
Thu - Chef Salad
Fri - Sloppy Joe's, chips
Sat - Crop & Bunco - so will find what ever in fridge
Sun - Chicken & dumplings

I am cooking very simple this week as it will only be J. and I, and the only for supper as she eats lunch at school. Also, both daughter J. and I are trying to change our eating habits to healthier ones and she asked me to make some salads. Walmart has heads of lettuce for .25 each and avocados for .25 each, another store is having a sale on grape tomatoes and bulk mushrooms so it will be pretty cheap eating as well.

Tonight I made oven baked bbq chicken, seasoned potatoes with onions and the best strawberry salad I have had at home. It is a new salad kit that contains baby spinach, dried strawberries, almonds, and strawberry vinaigrette. I am getting to where I kind of like the baby spinach. Have half of the spinach left over and will use it for the Asian chicken salad tomorrow, okay actually it will be Asian Turkey Salad as I am using left over turkey from Christmas. I put up meal size bags in the freezer to use for any recipe that calls for cooked chicken. As you can see, I cook with a lot of foil. My metal baking pans are discolored and while still perfectly functional I just can't stand the thought of my food on what looks like rust spots. Besides, makes cleaning up a breeze and since I have taken over doing ALL the dishes ALL the time I am going to make it as easy on myself as possible. Guess some would call my...reasoning...with the dishes a bit OCD, but honestly I just decided that if I am the only one doing the cleaning and putting away of the dishes then I am the only one to blame if they are put up still dirty or put away in the wrong places.

I have a lot planned for this week and if I get even a tenth of it accomplished it will a positive in my book. Thanks for dropping in, come back and visit any time.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Electric Pressure Cooker

Isn't it funny how a set of letters or a word can be the same spelling but totally different meaning based on the context.

For instance...PC

To me that always meant personal computer. Now that I am walking down some different roads I have learned that it also means Pressure Cooker and Pampered Chef.

Enough of a diversion there. Last night was my second experiment with the electrical Pressure Cooker that I had purchased. I cooked a small roast. Funny, hubby came in and saw me getting ready to brown it and commented that it was a really big roast. He has no clue as to how much they shrink when cooked. Our son G happened by, told me about his phone emergency (he dropped it in the toilet) saw the food and decided to stay long enough to eat. Weren't we so privileged? (Okay, see the huge sarcastic look in my eyes as they roll when I say that) At any rate, there was four of us for dinner. Now remember, I haven't bought groceries, my menu plan was based on what I had on hand. So, I rummaged through the pantry and found a lonely package of instant mashed potatoes, a jar of beef gravy, then made a salad to go with it all. Had some rolls left over from New Year's as well. I will be buying groceries soon, today is payday, but since I strayed from the meal plan will be able to take my time going shopping.

Back to the PC. I followed a popular recipe from my internet group, followed the limited directions for operation as well. Again, it took two cycles to cook. The roast tasted good, but could have cooked a little longer. Just about the time I finish eating, I am thinking what am I doing using this gadget if it is going only be about 10 minutes quicker than cooking it in the oven. I cleaned the kitchen and sat down and found some info on the web about this particular cooker. One comment was made about the difficulty sealing the lid and that it blocked the pressure rod. Due to the handle design, I had some reservations about how long before it broke. However, when I had cleaned the cooker back up, I did investigate and found that my lid is locking to seal, but is blocking the pressure rod. So...back it goes to the store and I will get a different model later on.

Mom's house finally sold and the final contract was sent to her yesterday for signing. It was some kind of ordeal to be sure to get that thing signed. At any rate, I am pleased that in between the trips to mom's I was able to get that nasty spice cabinet cleaned out. It was stuffed to the hilt with all kinds of spices and herbs. Many of which I have had since my first years of marriage, almost 30 years. I know they don't spoil, but at some point am sure they loose their flavor. I knew they were old because they were little tin boxes and the bottoms still had the grocery tag on them, from before scanning days. Yes Virgina a little plastic gun was used to stamp a price then attach it to the product. I had a large tin of Marjoram, barely any used out of it, I have never cooked any dish that called for it. At any rate, anything old, showed and expiration date that was expired, all thrown out. I cleaned out the cabinet shelves and put down new liner paper as well. OH IT LOOKS SO NICE! And I can actually find what I am looking for. Today I will start on the freezer and pantry. It is pay day so am ordering in pizza tonight. Shhh, don't tell hubby until it is already here. LOL

This is before.

This is after.

Well, I am off to do some household chores. Oh, can't forget, I am got my steamer. Looks great and it had really great reviews for this model from those that purchased it. Next week will have some tamales and try it out. When I buy groceries, am getting ingredients to try and make my own tamales and well as flour tortillas. Guess I need to cook a pork roast for dinner one night and then pull and shred the left overs for the tamales. Also, my mom is getting me a Kitchenaid mixer. I am making payments for it, but there is a huge sale on one I like so I can get it while it is on sale. Was putting some things away in the garage earlier and spotted a pasta maker I bought and never used. Something about mixing everything on the counter that really grosses me out, but it is something I have wanted to try. If I like it, there is an attachment for the mixer I can buy separately. I always wanted an electric one to save my arm from mixing and rolling, but the machine bought was very cheap and I can use it later on for other things as well.

Schwan man is coming on Monday. I don't buy much, but do buy things that I would never make from scratch or things I want to try to see if I like them. I am always careful and set my limit before I order and never go over. Poor guy will not be getting rich off of us. I am looking forward to trying a gnocchi dish created on the show Top Chef. I love dumplings in all forms, so know that I will probably like it. However, have been waiting for the right time to try it. My problem with cooking cheap around here, I mean frugally, is that my bunch doesn't much care for pastas or rice. Leaves out a lot of possibilities. I have two weeks this month that hubby will be gone so can try some new dishes and eat some fish.

I almost forgot, I also went yesterday and signed up for two little classes at the scrapbook store. Both are next week while hubby is gone. The first class is a Cricut class, she will show me all the features on my machine and teach me to use it. The store also has a Cricut club that meets once a month and they have over a hundred cartridges that I can take my machine to the store and rent the cartridge out to make cut outs. I think that is just amazing because I can try one out and decide if I will use it enough to buy it. Thankfully, our Walmart carries the cartridges at a much cheaper cost than the craft stores, but they don't carry some of the specialty ones or the retired ones. Then, on Saturday they are having a crop and bunco night. I paid for J to go with me and she is so excited. We play bunco up at mom's place with the ladies, and really have fun with it. I have however, in order not to be overwhelmed as I usually do to myself at crops, am only taking tools, photos, and plan on finishing up a couple of projects in progress plus I really want to try out some of those cartridges. I won't let myself dive into the crafts until I have this whole house cleaned up. I tend to get focused in one thing and want to do only that. I have a couple of sewing projects to finish up as well, but I am really ready to make a few pages and really want to make some cards. I have all these supplies that really need to be used. There is a card making class and a flower making class later in the month that I want to take as well.

Drop in again and have a great weekend.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

It is a day of failure.

Ever have one of those days when every thing you attempt ends in failure? That is just how today has felt.

First, my women's bible study started back up today. I wasn't sure I was going to go, but my sweet DIL went to the ER last night with spotting. They were sure they had lost the baby, just found out a few weeks ago that she was pregnant, but a sonogram was done and a heart beat was found. She goes to the doctor tomorrow for a check up. At any rate, I woke up this morning thanking God for his protection and blessings last night and decided that I should go to bible study and praise God, even though I had not picked up the study book and had not done the first lesson in preparation of today's session. A couple of things happened to me as the morning went on to delay my leaving. Now, normally I would have just stayed home rather than showing up late. However, I reasoned that since it was the first session and since they never start on time, I went on and had a wonderful bible study and fellowship. So that turned out well in the end.

As I was leaving the church, the school calls and my daughter was having an asthma attack but had failed to take her inhaler with her. So, I headed to the house to pick one up, then noticed that I was out of gas. Stop at the gas station, which for some reason has removed the automatic pump flow so I had to stand there and hold the pump on the whole time. Finally to the school to find my girl sitting on a bench crying. Calmed her down and was on the road again. She is having a bit of a rough time at the moment, yesterday we got her eye glasses ordered and she was actually disappointed that she couldn't get them for about 7 - 10 days.

Next stop was to Walmart to pick up a few things with my Christmas money. I bought a steamer, some new canisters, some other kitchen items, and some dry beans. A little before Christmas I got a wild idea, popped in my head when I found it on sale for a big discounted price, and purchased an electric pressure cooker. It is Cook's brand.

Which is the JC Penny's Brand. I had grand plans of being able to cook a chunk of meat in to some type of wonderful meal like the chefs on the tv shows I have been watching. After I thought it through a bit more, and looking at the book that came with it, wondered if I hadn't made a huge mistake. As a matter of fact, I had actually decided to just take it back. Well, today my mind blew a few cobwebs out and thought that I should at least give the gadget a go before sending it back. Hence, the purchase of the beans and the beginning of everything I attempted ending in total failure. First, I made the cornbread, it didn't rise and just thinned out like big corn pancake, crunch browned pancake. Then, I read the directions to operate the cooker. Totally inadequate in my opinion. The step by step directions are vague at best, totally confusing, but I started it anyway. When the timer cut off, I let the pressure vent, opened the lid, found lovely looking beans with the ham bone and thought this was great. Cooked beans in 30 minutes. Until I tasted one, it was still crunchy. I had wondered if I had operated the cooker correctly. After all, it took it quite a few minutes before it heated up, the regulator didn't make any noise or move the whole time. So, I thought maybe I should try it again and cook it one more time. Doing the regulator a little different this time, it was just a few minutes this time before I could hear that traditional hissing. I then made a second batch of cornbread and put it in the oven. That pan came out so much better. When the timer went off this time, I vented it, and opened it up to find a very cooked ham bone and nice looking beans that tasted very nice. In the end, my hubby said they tasted good, just needed a little more salt.

I am wondering if I need to heat the food up a bit before locking the lid and starting the pressure timer? On the way home from picking up J I ran in the grocery and picked up a roast that was on sale. I am going to try that tomorrow night and see what happens. I figured hubby would be upset that I had bought the cooker, was discussing the meal when he surprised me and asked me if I could heat up fried chicken and the cook it in the pressure cooker. That was what they did at a store he worked at when he was younger, I told him that is what KFC does. He was actually listening when I explained that the more expensive cookers would be better at that.

I guess this does kind of blow my menu plan, but it is all in the interest of research. Yeah that's it, research. That's what I'm sticking to. At any rate, out of failure comes knowledge. Somewhere in all of that is knowledge I will take away.

Come back soon.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


I think I will have to re-think my schedule a bit. I now know that some things are workable on some days and some just aren't going to happen. Although, yesterday was a unique situation. I totally blew my time yesterday. I had so many things planned and doubt I will be able to make it up today. I will do my best though. As I said, things weren't the normal yesterday or today or that matter, but I need to learn to adapt and roll with the flow.

Yesterday I started out on time, but then got side tracked at the DMV with renewal of two of our vehicles. OH DOES IT GRIPE ME to have to pay that huge amount of money to the state that has no idea or interest in managing their funds responsibly. I will not head off in to that direction or comment on the spike in gas prices. The delay at the DMV was just enough to hit mom's place a little later than I wanted. Then, spent the better part of an hour playing detective to find out where a funeral in Texas was being held and send some flowers. OH MY GOSH, I cannot believe how expensive that has gotten. My only thought at those prices was the hope that because we will be right here in town when mom passes that the flowers may start out little cheaper than they are ordering by phone. So now, a little over two hours behind schedule, it is time for mom to go eat. She ask me to go with her. I knew she was needing a little company due to death of a dear friend. He was actually my dad's cousin, but growing up they were constantly together, just like brothers. Their mother's were sisters. Any way, then by the time we got our food and ate I had lost another hour and a half. Service is very slow at mom's dining room. Now, three and half hours behind I finally was able to start taking down her Christmas decorations. For someone that didn't want to put up anything, she put up quite a bit. That at least went pretty much as planned thanks to mom putting away here ornaments while I did the rest. Then she asked me how much she owed me. LIKE I WOULD ever charge her for helping her do anything?

I left the house a little after 9, got back a little before 3. I didn't post here yesterday, but did get my link made to MPM. At least I am making baby steps forward.

Last night I tried two new recipes. One I followed, the other I improvised due to lack of some of the ingredients. While they were both edible, they weren't great. The Savory Pork Chops were actually pretty darned tasteless. Last night I had determined to toss that recipe, but today I think I will put it in the "Try" stack again and try it one more time with better meat. I am trying to use up what I have in the freezer and am sure those chops had been in there for a long while. The fried onions used for the coating was a little stale as well. In all fairness, I do believe that fresh ingredients will make a world of difference. The rice dish was a total failure. Well, not total, as it was edible, just not great. Also, I made rice for four servings. If I had made only 2 servings there would not have been so much left. I wasn't thinking that by the time I added in the bacon bits, mushrooms and almonds it would make it go further. I am putting the recipe for that rice dish back in the "Try" pile because due to lack of ingredients it was nothing similar to the recipe. We also had green beans that were left over from Christmas dinner. They were still delicious, but threw out the left overs as it had been a week already. That is my new limit for left overs. ONE WEEK - period. Speaking of which, this morning I have got to get what is left of the ham in the freezer. I will pack up some slices, but since most of the recipes I want to try out with the left over ham call for it to be chopped or diced have decided that I will go ahead and do that and then bag up in portions for one meal. Hubby will be gone all next week and since daughter J. eats about anything I put in front of her I have planned that week all recipes to use left over ham and turkey. The plan today is to tackle some laundry and defrost and clean out the deep freezes. I have one medium size deep freeze we keep in the garage, usually where the bulk of the meat goes, I stock up when I catch a sale. I have a huge side by side in the kitchen so have that small freezer and then hubby has a small fridge in the garage for beer, he used to brew his own, which I use part of for extra milk and such. It has a small top freezer as well. It was full of the 22 pound turkey that fed us well at Christmas, so it has space now as well. I have decided to use it for chicken.

I am picking J. up at lunch and we both have eye appointments today. Was so pleased that I was able to get us both in at the same time. I won't need my eyes dilated, just need to see about an adjustment in my prescription. It has been three years since this last pair of glasses. However, they may have to dilate my daughter's, which will be kind of awkward with her skating lesson this evening. Will just have to play that one by ear. At any rate, because of her lesson, I planned ahead for a fast fix meal and will be using left over sausage that is already cooked and left over potatoes that I had put in the freezer. Again, won't be the greatest tasting, but will be absolutely edible. Although, I have some ground beef that needs to be cooked, really soon, so I may pop in the grocery to pick up a cornbread mix to make the Tamale Pie tonight. Just switch today and tomorrow's menu plan.

I have to say, yesterday on Facebook I posted an old photo of my husband from our first year of marriage. Our church hosted a halloween potluck at the barn of one of the members, went dressed as Raggedy Ann, he was a fairy. OH MY GOSH! Blond curly wig, star tipped antennae, pink leotard, pink tights, pink tutu, even make up and a wand. It was so funny to see this guy with a mustache in this outfit, chest full of hair showing through. He didn't know that I had posted it so he finally came and ask me what was going on because he was getting all kinds of comments posted. They show up on his phone through email notification. It was hysterically funny and I needed that laugh.

Thanks for stopping in for a visit, leave a comment if you like. This isn't getting the chores done so am off to see what I can get done before I have to go pick up J. and then the eye appointments.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

So far so good with staying on task. Of course it is only the second day of the year, but hey, am batting 1000 for the year so far.

I have spent the entire afternoon and evening trying to organize my stacks of recipe pages only to realize I have a whole bunch of them missing. They are in a box somewhere, just have to run across them in this house, which I will eventually. The down side to that is that those are the TNT recipes (tried and true - family endorsed as keepers).

There is this awesome blog site called I'm An Organizing Junkie that host Menu Plan Monday. Hundreds of links to blogs that all menu plan and post their week of menus each Monday. It is a great resource for gathering ideas and just inspiration for the chore of making meals. Like so many of you, I get stuck in a rut when it comes to cooking. Either because I just can't think of something to fix, my family's limited taste buds (okay, they are just a bit picky and spoiled) or I just flat forgot to set out any meat. My challenge at the moment is to use up what is on hand until pay day, and this is the lowest I have ever been on meat. I didn't even begin to work on cleaning out the pantry today because the weather turned gloomy again and spent a very peaceful afternoon and evening listening to the rain pour down, going through recipes and watching the Food Network. I would love to take some cooking classes and learn how to do some of that stuff. Now tomorrow morning I will go to my mom's apartment and pack up all of her Christmas decorations. I am sure it will take longer than anticipated, seems it always does, so will not be able to do much around here. Hopefully, Tuesday will be spent cleaning out the pantry, spice cabinet and freezers. They I will be all set to buy groceries and know more of what I need and already have.

In keeping with the Monday Menu Plan, here is what I will be cooking this week.

M - Savory Pork Chops, Green Beans, Rice, Fruit Salad
T - Sausage With Peppers & Onions, Potatoes Au Gratin
W - Tamale Pie, Salad
Th - Pinto Beans, Cornbread
F - Chicken Enchiladas, Rice
S - Hamburgers, Chips
Su - Roast, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, Rolls

As I said earlier, I will get groceries later in the week when we get paid. Except for the roast, I know I have everything on hand for all the meals. I plan to better spread out the beef, pork and poultry and introduce some fish at least twice a month. I wanted to give the family a break from poultry, after two turkey dinners. No meat left over from Thanksgiving, but a lot from Christmas. I bagged the turkey up into meal size packets which I will use later in the month, tomorrow will bag up the ham in the same manner. I plan on using the ham bone later in the week when I cook the pinto beans. I also need to plan a couple of quicker meals or crock pot meals for the busy evenings. Daughter J has ice skating lessons once a week as well as her involvement with helping at Awanas at our church each Wednesday night.

A few weeks ago I had purchased an electric pressure cooker that was on sale. After thinking it over a few days I have decided I will return it to the store. I have a stove top PC that I think I need to learn how to use instead of spending money on something so similar to what I already have. Besides, I will be purchasing a steamer and deep fryer with my Christmas cash that I will need to find room for as it is. I also have my eye on a stand mixer and am going to take note of how much I would actually use it over the month. Feel I need to really justify my purchases since I know longer work. My birthday is coming up in Feb. so if I can't talk my hubby in to an XBox Kinect maybe I can talk him in to the mixer. I want to start doing Zumba at home where no one can see how ridiculous I look, need Kinect to play it. Have heard from a lot of people how much fun the Kinect is as you really have to do a lot of movement in the games.

Today was pretty productive though in part though, woke up early so emptied the dish washer, did the dirty dishes, started some laundry, filled the hummingbird feeder - twice (don't ask) and then of course the whole recipe mess as well.

Tomorrow everything goes back to normal, in other words hubby will be up early for work and will have to get J up and off to school as well. I am heading to the warm bath and then to bed early for a change. Well, early for me. Thanks for stopping by and come back to see me soon.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A New Year Begins. 2011

Wow, 2011. That is such a foreign concept although I know it is a reality. I am going to date myself here, I graduated in 1980. Had my oldest daughter in 1982. I remember her kindergarten graduation when the teacher introduced us to the class of 2000, my mind was thinking how far off that sounded. Now she is married, mom to two boys, a teacher and had her ten year reunion this past summer. Now it is 2011 and in one way it still sounds like some futuristic movie that I am watching. In another way, it sounds so normal.

Tonight, I made the traditional, for our family, meal. Ham, black eyed peas, potatoes. It started out as a meal for 11, then went to 10, then went to 8, down to 6, ended up as four. I went from worrying the ham wasn't big enough to suddenly going through ideas on how to get rid of a lot of extra ham. Not a problem I assure you, I am up for the challenge. My new organized self has planned on putting meal size portions in to bags and sealing them up and putting them in the freezer. Have already printed off a couple of great sounding recipes for ham. I did the same thing with the turkey, except I used Ziploc bags and have decided to re-bag them using the vacuum sealer to cut down on freezer burn. Am also going to buy a permanent pen for writing on the bags what it is and the date. Also, along with my resolve to change the way we eat, I did cook a bit differently. I made potatoes au gratin (which according to the cooking shows like Top Chef, I have been pronouncing wrong my entire life) from scratch. This may not seem like a big deal to you, but after almost 30 years of marriage this is the first time I haven't bought a box and cooked the little dried up potatoes in the microwave (oven years ago, but I go with the flow of the times). I am sure it was not the most healthy, with the cheese, butter, and milk, but I know that it was fat free cheese and 2% milk and no additives. I had quite a bit left over, but it was already in the oven when I found out the number for dinner had gone down to four. I did put it in a plastic container and threw it in the freezer. Now I have a side dish for future use. Maybe I will turn it in to cheddar potato soup?

For a little note of interest about my menu planning efforts. I am determined to plan the meals. This has been a very daunting task for me if not completely overwhelming. I sat down and gave it several serious moments of contemplation on just how to actual start the process. Paper and pen in hand, I numbered the page one to five. Week ends are just weird around here, so I figure 5 days of meals, one day to clean out left overs, the last day for what ever happens. That is a week. Using the 5 system, skipping a line between each group, I then jotted down the numbers for four sets of 5, which would be four weeks. I started writing out the meals I make that I know are liked. OH MY GOSH, suddenly I have not only the four weeks I started out with, but an extra week as well for a list of 5 weeks worth of meals. Now, tomorrow I will sit down and work on spreading them out a bit so I don't end up with 4 days in a row of chicken. I also want to throw in some recipes that I have not made before in an effort to try out some new flavors or foods. Maybe even try a new technique once in a while.

As for accomplishments for today, all the Christmas decorations are now gone from sight. I am sure glad that is done. Monday will go over and do the same for my mom. I also got the fridge all cleaned out today as well. Trash pick up is on Monday so want to get as much out as possible even though our dumpster is full.

We came home on Friday to find that our jerk neighbors had thrown a big bag of their trash in our dumpster because theirs was full. Of course it was full they are constantly having parties (until all hours of the morning) and there is at least 12 people living there on a regular basis, another 5 or 6 come in and out so much they might as well live there. My normally sweet natured hubby was so perturbed that he pulled the bag out and threw it in there yard. After a few minutes to calm down, he felt guilty for his actions and went to retrieve the bag and deposit by their trash dumpster which was literally overflowing. It had already been picked up by someone in the house. I told him not to sink to their level, lead by example, and of course he agreed. We were punished in the end though with the very rude awakening to the sound of fireworks sounding off close to our bedroom. He felt they were doing this on purpose, I explained calmly that they weren't because they didn't care enough to even have a seconds worth of thought as to how we would feel about being woke from a sound sleep but such a deafening sound, not to mention the cackler that laughs like chicken hen or the idiot man that likes to drop the f-bomb loudly and often. The one thing I truly do not understand about our neighbors and these parties that start up at like eleven at night is how they can do that to those little children living there. During warm weather, it would be midnight and we could hear the laughter, splashing, and every bounce on that diving board. We won't even get started on what a Foosball table sounds like at one in the morning with 4 to 6 drunk idiots playing it on the back patio which happens to be directly across from our bedroom.

Tomorrow's agenda:
Write out a week's worth of meals and make sure I have the ingredients on hand.
Clean out he freezer and cabinets so I actually know what I have on hand.
Wash towels.

Well, here's to starting the year off on a positive not. You have to live with what you have so make what you have priceless. Thank you for dropping in.