Monday, December 30, 2013

Goals for the new year.

Well, it's that time again.  Every year I try and write goals for the following year.  Last year, life was so busy that I never really got around to writing my goals. Maybe that's part of why it seemed so chaotic all year.  I can definitely say if you had told me I would be working on my Master's by the end of the year, I would have told you that you were totally out of your mind.  But here I am almost a month into the Master's program.  We just never really know what life has in store for us.  Thank God that he does. I know I could never have survived this past year without that knowledge.  So, I'm ready to start working on my goals for this next year.  I start by breaking down the different areas of my life.  What things would I like to accomplish in each of these areas?  First and foremost, I want to draw closer to God.  I know with the addition of school, my time will be more limited than it has in the past.  But I definitely want to find a way to increase the time I spend communing with my heavenly father.  I have a couple of new apps that give me the Bible in a whole new format.  I may switch to one of these tools away from my hardcopy book.  Even though I prefer reading from an actual book, being able to take my Bible along will make it easier for me to spend time in the Word wherever I may be.  I plan to find a good devotion app that I can use on a daily basis, and while I started reading through the bible this past year, I have not gotten all the way through it, so I will continue with that program throughout this new year.  When I write my goals, I usually try to break them down into steps to help get the habits engrained in my routine.  That way I can accomplish my larger goals.  I build in rewards as I go for making those small steps towards those goals.

Another goal I will be working on this year again, will be weight loss.  I definitely need to work on this as over this past year I was diagnosed with diabetes, so getting more weight off can only help my control of the diabetes.  I don't really have a plan for how this weight will come off as last year, I started the program that has worked better for me than any other, but during this past year, they closed their doors.  While this program worked the best for me, I will have to find another way to accomplish the weight loss.  I would like to say that by the end of the year I will be at goal weight, but that would truly be unrealistic, so I will break it down into manageable chunks to be able to attain my goal.  And along the way I will build in rewards for accomplishing those steps.  So, for my weight loss goal I would like to lose 50 pounds by the end of the year.  In order to do that, I will have to get better at logging my food intake and increasing my exercise.  So, by the end of January, I will be consistently logging my food into a food diary.  Again, I have an app that I can use for that, so I will start logging everything I eat again.  Another step that I need to take there is eating more frequent meals consistently.  Not only will that help with my weight loss, it will make huge gains for my diabetes to be able to do that.  It is a circle because the low blood sugar contributes to the weight gain by allowing my body to think it is in starvation mode.  So, by the end of January, I want to be consistently eating three meals a day with 2 snacks.  If I can accomplish this goal, I will order myself a new stamp set.

My other goals will include financial goals.  One of my biggest goals this year, will include adapting to my reduced budget, as well as trying to save some money for Christmas next year.  I have already started a program there of trying to save money over a 52 week period to have the money for the Christmas presents next year. In addition, I am going to make more gifts this next year, as those I made this last year were definitely a hit.  I would like to start saving for an emergency fund.  I'm not sure I will be able to accomplish that while the budget is so severely limited, but I am going to give it a good effort.

I will include some goals on where I would like to be with the remodeling of the house.  As well as some goals relating to developing better organizational skills and routines that help me keep things less cluttered and increases the comfort level of my home.  This will involve doing some major reorganization and decluttering.  I definitely will have some goals to help me reclaim my craft room over the next few months.  I need to have a place to work on my school away from the family.  In addition, I will have some goals that pertain to how much time I spend working on school work.  In order for these goals to get accomplished, I will actually plan time in my calendar for these things.  I also write up goals for me time. One of the things I have difficulty with is taking time for myself to just relax and do things that I enjoy.  I find it hard to take me time when there seems to be so many other things that need to be done in my house.  So, I actually have to build that into my schedule and set some goals to get me on track.  I feel good about writing my goals this year. I feel like I've been wandering in the dark this last year without any set goals.  I put these goals in several places.  I will put them into my electronic devices where I can look at them from time to time, and I will print them off and put them in my control journal where I keep my routines so that I can look at them there as well. 

Will I accomplish all my goals for the year?  Probably not, but if I am moving in the right general direction, then that is what is important.  These goals are not an all or none proposition.  They are just guidelines where I want to go.  If I don't reach all these goals this year, then I can revisit them and include some of them again next year.  But the biggest things will be developing the habits that move me in the direction of my goals.  I find this activity is better than writing resolutions, that expect me to make changes overnight.  That is never a realistic view.  It takes approximately a month to develop a habit and make it stick, so expecting to make an overnight change sets us up for failure.  I hope this post helps people see how to go about goal setting.  I will put some of my goals up when I finish developing them along with the steps I need to take to get myself to the goal.  But we have to continually reevaluate our goals and see if they are still something important to us and the progress we are making towards them.  I will post a few examples of my goals after the first of the year.

Friday, December 27, 2013

December In the Craft Room

December has been an interesting month. We celebrated Christmas in a whole different way this year.  We usually have income to buy most of our Christmas presents, but this year, we had to do things a little differently due to decreased funds.  While I've been continuing with my physical therapy, I'm still not able to go back to work. We were approved for some government assistance, we were able to get 54.00 in SNAP assistance.  This makes life interesting to plan our meals.  We received a letter right before Christmas that that amount will decrease to 104.00 as they are somehow not allowing my husband's medical expenses.  I'm planning to appeal that decision, but we'll see where that goes.  Fortunately, we have gotten other assistance besides going to the food pantries.  After the last experience at the mobile food pantry, we were unable to go on there the last time they came to the area.  They are not going to be coming to our area as often as they had been in the new year.  We did go to the other two local food pantries, but I noticed that the amount of meat these pantries are able to give out have decreased significantly.  We will figure out a way to make do.  I'm working on new recipes to use some of the items that we would not normally purchase that have been given to us.  We did get some assistance for Christmas from Community Partners that took me shopping at Aldis on two separate occasions with 100.00 to spend.  That has helped us considerably.  in addition, some secret Santa donated money and our local grocery store delivered approximately 200-250.00 in groceries about 3 weeks ago. The food that they delivered was nice in that they brought a fair amount of meat and even some little extra things that I haven't been purchasing on our severely limited budget.  We also applied for a program for Carolena to have Christmas presents called the Reindear program, and they provided her with a digital Barbie, several outfits, a couple of pairs of pajamas, a pair of shoes and a pair of snow boots.  In addition, the local fund provided us with a large box of canned goods and a 30.00 gift certificate for our local grocery store to purchase meat.  These donations, helped to restock my severely depleted stores of food.

For the items that I gave for Christmas this year, we only gave gifts to our children and grandchildren.  My children received some of my home canned foods, such as apple butter, strawberry preserves, and blueberry butter, along with some canned apple pie filling, turkey broth and canned turkey.  I also made up some spice mixes for them. I worked on cookbooks for the boys, but my printer decided not to work when I was ready to print, so I have to print those cookbook pages out and put together the cookbooks.  For the grandchildren, we shopped at places like Goodwill this year.  We were able to get a walking dragon and some trucks for Derrick.  Carolena got some movies from Goodwill and they both got a suitcase of clothes for dress up play.  After everything was opened, both kids played first with their suitcase of dress up clothes.  Some of these clothes I purchased at Goodwill and out mission outlet thrift store, and others I got at a local clothes closet, that give out clothing.  I had a couple of projects that I wanted to get done for the kids, that didn't get finished up, but I will finish those up here in the next couple of weeks anyway.  I just gave them as they were for the time being.  Carolena will enjoy helping me to remake some of the things to play with. Overall, I spent very little money on Christmas presents.  Although, with the added driving we have had to do, this will be an interesting week as we are down to nearly no money left until Jim's disability check hits the bank on the first of January.  Our activities will be severely limited, but we will manage.  I will post some of the before and after pictures of our projects as we complete them.  This next week I will be writing out goals for the new year.  These goals will be interesting.

I also started working on classes for my Master's program.  I decided that I needed to do that in order to have a chance at getting a job teaching.  So, to add to the busyness of the holiday season, I started classes on December 2nd. This didn't help me with getting everything I needed to do for the holidays done, but I felt it was necessary to help with having an income again. 

This next week, I will be posting information on my next menu plan along with recipes and I will be doing a post on goal setting.  Every year, I set goals in various areas of my life.  I try and look at the different areas of my life and set goals, which I also break down into smaller steps to make them less overwhelming when I'm trying work towards those goals.  I'll post how I go about that process and set up rewards along the way to help me achieve those goals.  I'll post some pictures of our Christmas.  I'll also be posting some pictures of how the house is coming along.  Jim and I spent the day of our anniversary window shopping for colors for our bedroom/bathroom suite.  We are trying to make a small retreat for ourselves so that we have a nice relaxing place to spend time.  The drywall is mostly up in our bedroom, and we are the stage of mudding and taping.  Soon to be followed by painting.  We have also looked at ideas for flooring and think we will be trying a new technique  for flooring, that will be much less expensive than the hardwood flooring we would like in their.  If it works and we like it we will be using it in other areas.  If not, it will at least have the floor mostly prepped for putting the hardwood flooring down at a later time when our finances improve.  We picked out the colors we want and were given a comforter with those colors for Christmas.  So, I'm ready to start painting and move in.  I'll be putting together pictures to post here soon of our space.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Our Family Thanksgiving

For Thanksgiving we went to my parents' house for a meal with my parents, my brother and his family, and my uncle Billie and his wife.  We enjoyed a nice meal that my mom prepared and spent time visiting with the family.  I hadn't been able to visit with my Aunt and Uncle for some time, so it was nice to catch up a little with them.  They are also raising grandchildren.  They have a daughter that lives with them off and on along with her four children.  One of the grandchildren is currently in the hospital with a rare condition.  They diagnosed him this week with pheochromocytoma, which is a rare tumor of the adrenal gland that secretes epinephrine.  They are currently stabilizing his blood pressure and will eventually be looking at removing the tumor.  My Aunt and Uncle live on an extremely limited income and my Aunt and I compared notes a little and discussed various recipes for use on a low income budget.  One of the foods that I have noticed we receive consistently when we go to the food pantries is canned spinach.  I decided to find some ways to be able to use my canned spinach.  Unfortunately, canned spinach is not very appetizing to me, but last week I took a can of spinach, a pound of ground beef and a small container of cottage cheese.  I mixed that together and stuffed some large pasta shells with the mixture.  I portioned out the shells for meals and froze them.  I was able to stuff 39 shells with that amount of mixture, for us that translates into 3 meals.  Later in the week, I prepared one of those meals by placing the shells in a baking dish and covering them with a jar of alfredo sauce.  I covered with aluminum foil and baked for an hour then added some cheese and baked uncovered for another 30 minutes.  I did not cook my shells in advance, because I thought they would be easier to work with when I was stuffing them. By making sure all the shells had sauce on them, and covering them to cook for the first hour, the shells were fully cooked.  I am also thinking that I will put some of the spinach into some lasagna.  In the meantime, we still have two meals of stuffed shells in the freezer for future meals.  I shared this recipe with my Aunt, who had no idea what she was going to do with a can of spinach she had on the shelf. 

I was also able to search online and tell my Aunt where the next mobile food pantry was going to be in her area.  They recently moved and she didn't know where in that area the mobile food pantry stopped.  I was able to locate on the schedule for the mobile food pantry, and there will be one coming to her area this coming Friday.  I can see as I go through this journey, how I am able to identify resources that I never even knew existed.  I'm hoping that familiarizing myself with the resources, will not only help us to get by until I am able to work again, but that I can develop a list of resources that I might refer others to for help.  I have to give a little credit though for the people that have been helping guide me on this journey.  We have hooked up with an organization called Community Partners and these people have access to and can identify all the resources available in our area that might be able to assist us as we need help.  Without these people, this journey could be rough enough to make someone want to just give up.  I am finding that navigating through these resources is not the easiest.  Having someone that knows how the systems work to give me the information that is available and to help me know what to expect and when I should be questioning things has been invaluable. 

Today I spent some time looking at ideas that I might make gifts or repurpose items for gifts for the kids.  I'm planning to use up some of my material stores and make some dress up clothes for Carolena and maybe even Derrick.  I saw a few good ideas that would be very simple to make and I'm going to work on some of those this week.  I'm going to also put together a basket for the kids that has some of my apple butter, strawberry jelly and some blueberry butter I'm planning to make later this week.  Most of the gifts under our tree this year are going to be homemade.  It's the only way I will be able to afford Christmas.  Tomorrow I'm going to the thrift shop and see if I can find some inexpensive beads and baubles to include with Carolena's dress up clothes for jewels. 

I intended to post this yesterday, but we ended up spending our day vegetating in front of the television watching the old Christmas specials.  It was a nice relaxing day.  Today, I'm preparing a turkey for our family as my mom didn't fix turkey at her dinner.  I'm not making it very elaborate, just a turkey, some basic sides and a little time spent with my son and his daughter.  The other kids weren't able to come.  I also received my text books for the journey I'm beginning, working on my Master's in Nursing.  I'm looking forward to opening those and starting my reading.  It's been a while since I've been in school, but I can actually say I'm looking forward to it. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving From the Craft Room

I need to start this post by saying I never want anyone to think I am complaining about any of the help we get from the safety net organizations. I'm just going to share my experiences here. I am grateful for everything we have been given. We started this week by dropping Carolena off at school and going to the mobile food pantry on Monday morning. They ask people not to line up for this more than 15 minutes early, but the line was already about 15 or so when we got there at 7:45 and they didn't start passing out food until 10:00.  We got our spot in the line and waited for the doors to open. At  around 9:15  someome made a scene that people had moved her cart in the line. A few minutes later they opened the doors and instead of going down the line as was normal, they just let people flood in. The people were pushing and shoving their way in. So there was no semblance of a line. By the time we got a number we were number 40. We were then sent into the gym to wait our turn. Around 10:00 the line began to move. When we left at 11:00 we left with the followung foods to work with. A frozen jug of orange juice, a can of diced tomatoes, a can of corn, two boxes of granola bars, a box of cereal, a bag of fresh green beans, a bag of cranberries, an acorn squash, a package of english muffins, a bag of flat buns and a package of pecan tarts. There were a couple of times the people got upset with the woman that had earlier made a scene. We heard there were 500 people in the line this week. This is a small town. I can't imagine what it would be like in a city. This was the first really bad experience we have had with going to the food pantries. We will continue to go, but it saddened me to see how people were so rude and obnoxious with the workers. These people were trying to help, and yes they misjudged by not passing the numbers out in a little more orderly fashion, but at least they were trying. I was disappointed that there was no protein choices at this mobile pantry. Fortunately, prior to my accident we were well stocked so I should be able to work with these ingredients and make some meals with food we already have in our freezer and pantry.

Yesterday, I spent the day baking cookies to donate back for the Community Dinner that they are having tomorrow. Even though things are extremely tight for us, I wanted to try and give something back. I made four batches of cookies and two gluten free chocolste cakes I  was able to drop those off today and say to the people at one of the food pantries we've been going to, thank you for the help they have given us. The gluten free cake uses garbanzo beans which we have recieved an abundance of from the food pantry so it was nice to find a recipe that allows us to use these in a different way. I'm going to tweak these a bit and add a few nuts, but they make a great brownie like cake. When Carolena tried these she told me they were better than the other brownies I make. Tomorrow we are going to my parents' home for Thanksgiving with our family. I can honestly say that this year even though we are having a rough time financially, we have more to be thankful for than we have in some years past.  Over the next several posts.  I will talk about other sources of help we have had since we have moved back into the house. The surrounding communities have been helpful in providing us help to get our house back into a livable habitat.  I probably won't blog tomorrow as I plan to spend the day enjoying my time with family. But I should start back with posts on Friday. Will I be out Black Friday shopping? That would be a huge NO as I have no cash until Jim's disability comes in and at that point we will probably only have enough for the basics once again. But if we have the basics covered, I will praise God for that as even that didn't look possible a few weeks ago. Tomorrow I will be able to take the first step in the new chapter God is writing in our lives as I can start working on my online classes for my master's program. I'm not sure where God is leading me, but I trust he knows the way. Have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

My Blog Gets a New Twist

So a lot has changed since I last blogged. Once again, I'm hoping to get better at this "blog thing". Over this past year we have had our youngest child move out and although technically we should be "empty nesting" our nest still has our granddaughter Carolena living there.  During the summer we made the decision that we had no choice but to get the house that burned livable enough to move back in. Finding the money for repairs was impossible while paying rent, so we started working really hard and with help from Community Partners to get us a dumpster we were able to get things to a point where we could move back in to 3 rooms. I signed a weekend contract to increase our income and we were ready to begin major overhauling of the house. I worked one weekend and the following week I stepped into a furnace vent hole which I uncovered to clean. With that one step our lives changed dramatically. On August 5th I dislocated my shoulder and broke the trochanter where the muscles attach to the bone. For 6 weeks they wouldn't let me move my left arm. After 6 weeks I began physical therapy and at this point I can lift my arm barely over my head and still can not lift any weight. So, I have been unable to work since August 5th. As of today November 26th, my work has ended my leave of absence.  It looks like I will be looking for a new job. I have had several ups and downs with this dillemma. Some if which has occurred because I've been waiting to hear about my job. In the meantime I have signed up to begin a Master's program online so I have the option  of teaching which I should be able to do without full use of my left arm. Where is the money for school coming from? Only God knows. I'm taking a huge step of faith here believing He will show me the way.

During the last 4 months I have learned a lot on how to survive on a very low income. We have been down to my husband's disability income which is less than a fourth of our normal income. Fortunately, we have a very low debt load or we would not be able to survive. We have been learning to use the public assistance programs that are available and in future posts I will describe some of what we have experienced there. We have learned how to access some of the safety net organizations. I will expand on some of these things as I post in upcoming days. I will also share ideas I've come up with to use food that has been given to us at the local food pantries. It can be challenging. I recently downloaded a free app that can help with meal planning as well as generating grocery lists and inventory  of the ingredients you have on hand. I'm currently using the free version, but like it well enough I'm considering upgrading to the pro version for less than $4.00. I'll keep you posted there. My blog will still feature my craft projects, but will be expanded to include these other types of posts as well.

These last four months have given me time to reflect and return to doing some things I really enjoy. While I haven't been able to really do much of my crafting as my room still isn't usable and I can't lift and move things around. I've spent time getting back into canning and preserving. With my husband's help I can put things in jars to help decrease the work it takes to make a meal. I've also been able to save food that might have gone to waste for another meal. I definitely enjoy doing it. I'm looking forward to making and giving mostly homemade gifts this year as our budget has no room for store bought gifts. I will share this journey as we go so that hopefully it will help and/or inspire others to be able to do the same. I will also share some of what we have experienced in our remodeling projects which are quite interesting on a severely limited budget. I will go back through some of the happenings of the last couple months in my upcoming posts. Come along on this journey with me. Let's see where it takes us.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Life sometimes gets in the way. Another adult child

My baby turned 18 today.  So, now I have another adult child.  While he still lives in our house and is still in high school, it will be interesting to see what the next few months hold. 

We have gotten a little derailed from our menu plan this month.  Mostly because I haven't had time to get the things we needed to make the meals.  But now we are back on track.  I will be posting the next month's menu her in the next week or so, although it will have a slight disclaimer on it.  We won't have tried all the new recipes at that point.  I will be sure and let you know which recipes have been taste tested in our kitchen.  My goal for this weekend is to make up the remaining dishes that can be put together in advance.  I will edit the previous menu plan and let you know which casseroles I put into the freezer in advance to make my life easier.  I try to do that as often as I can, although I have to say here lately, I just haven't had the time.  I rarely do a full day in the kitchen to do this.  I usually just put an extra casserole in the freezer at the same time I put one in the oven.  (In other words, when I make something that does well in the freezer, I make two or three and put the extra one in the freezer) Some of the links I included in the original recipes were designed to put together and put in the freezer.  I love those meals because I don't have to work at them.  Keep an eye out here for more of those types of meals.  I have investigated the once a month cooking sites and use some of their ideas, but some of them are like cooking food and eating leftovers, and those recipes I don't particularly care for.  If I'm going to eat leftovers, then I mights just as well eat it when I cook it the first time and enjoy the flavor the first time.  I prefer to put casseroles that either get better by melding the flavors or items that are just prepped, but not fully cooked into the freezer. I find that pastas and rice casseroles do very well here.  I also enjoy making my own hot pockets, frozen pizzas, and breakfast foods (french toast sticks, pancakes, waffles etc.) for the freezer.  They keep really well, and save us a fortune, not to mention, they are much better for us, without preservatives.

My newest undertaking is making my own cleaners.  I have used various sites as well as friends for recipes for this.  I have been making floor cleaner, that does considerably better than anything we can buy in the store.  I have recently tried my hand at laundry detergent and fabric softener and am just getting ready to start using these new cleaners.  I'm looking forward to the savings I have as well as the fact that we are putting less chemicals out into our environment.  As I use these, I will critique them here and share the links to the recipes I used.  I'm definitely getting the spring cleaning bug feeling, so I am hoping to put these cleaners to rigorous testing here in the next several weeks.  I'll post my results. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Recipes for Menu Plan Month 1

Salisbury Steak Casserole

1 lb. ground beef
1 pkg. onion soup mix
1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 can Cream of Celery Soup
Press hamburger in the bottom of a baking dish. Mix together soup mix and canned soup plus 1 can water and pour over soup.  Bake on 350 for 30 minutes. Serve over mashed potatoes.

Chicken Alfredo Pasta

2 chicken breasts cubed
2 zuchini cubed
2 yellow squash cubed
1 box penne pasta
1 jar alfredo sauce
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
Brown chicken in skillet. Cook pasta according to directions. Saute squash and zuchini.  Toss all together with alfredo sauce.  Sprinkle parmesan cheese over top and serve.

Chow Mein Noodle Casserole

2 cups Brown Rice cooked
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 lb. ground beef
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 onion diced
1 package chow mein noodles
Brown ground beef and onion. Mix with rice. Mix soy sauce and cream of mushroom soup together and mix into rice mixture.  Top with some chow mein noodles and bake for 30 minutes at 350.

Sticky Chicken

see link
This is a freezer recipe, but can be cooked instead of frozen.

Rice Casserole

1 lb. bulk sausage
2 cups brown rice cooked
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 onion diced
Brown sausage and onion. Mix with rice and soup.  Place in baking dish. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  Can sprinkle with cheese on top last few minutes if desired.

Crockpot Pesto Chicken

1 jar pesto sauce
1 pkg. ranch dressing mix
1 box chicken broth
6 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
Combine ingredients in crock pot and cook on low 6-8 hours. Serve over noodles. (Note this is how the recipe was written I don’t remember where I found it, but I’m going to tweak this one, probably only a couple of tablespoons of pesto sauce would be more than sufficient for this recipe.)

Rubber Chicken

This is a Flylady website recipe. Here is the link.

Baked Tortellini

This is a recipe I tweaked from Pinterest.
1 pkg Tortellini cooked
1 jar alfredo sauce
1 pkg prosciutto ham
1 leek
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
Slice leek and and cut ham into small pieces.  Saute  in a little butter.  Mix together cooked pasta, ham mixture, and alfredo sauce.  Put into a baking dish and top with parmesan cheese. Broil about 5 minutes, or until cheese is brown on top.

Crock Pot No Time to Cook Chicken

This came from  Here is the link.

Creamy White Chili

This came from Here is the link

Slow Cooker Chicken Stroganoff

This came from Here is the link

Those are the recipes for the first month of menus.  I’ll post the next month of menu plans when we have tested all the new recipes on it. 

Shopping List for Month 1 Menu Plan

Brenda Helvie
Shopping List for Menu Plan Month 1 (Developed to feed 6)

Boneless/skinless chicken breast (2 bags)
Cube Steaks (6)
Beef Roast (1)
Hamburger (6 lbs.)
Whole Chicken (2)
Pork Cutlets (12)
Flank Steak (2 lbs.)
Hot Dogs (1 pkg)
Prosciutto Ham (1 pkg.)
Turkey (1)
Bulk sausage (2 lbs.)

Canned Goods
Canned Beef (2 cans)
Alfredo sauce (2 jars)
Cream of Mushroom soup (5 cans)
Soy Sauce (1 bottle)
Pesto Sauce (1 jar)
Tomato Paste (1 can)
Diced Tomatoes (8 cans)
Cream of Chicken soup (2 cans)
Cream of celery soup (2 can)
Navy Beans (2 cans)
Chicken broth (2 box)
Green chiles ( 1 can)
Spaghetti Sauce (2 jars)

Potatoes (20 lbs.)
Carrots (1 bag)
Zucchini (2)
Yellow Squash (2)
Cauiflower (1)
Onion (3)
Celery (1)

Pasta & Rice
Orzo pasta (1 bag)
Macaroni (2 boxes)
Tortellini (2 pkgs)
Spaghetti (1 box)
Noodles (7 pkgs.)
Lasagna Noodles (1)
Penne Pasta (2 boxes)
Brown Rice (1 lbs)
Wild Rice (1 bag)

Cottage Cheese (1 carton)
Sour Cream (2 containers)
Cream Cheese (1 pkg)
Butter (1lb.)
Mozzarella Cheese (1 3lb. pkg)
Cheddar Cheese (1 3lb. pkg)
Heavy Cream (1 pint)
Grated parmesan (1 container)

Onion soup mix (2 pkg.)
Chow Mein Noodles (1 pkg.)
Dried Ranch Dressing Mix (1 pkg)
Velveeta (1 box)
Garlic Bread ( 6 boxes)
Frozen Corn (1 bag)
Eggs (4)
Italian Dressing Mix (1 pkg.)
Cayenne Pepper
Garlic Powder
Corn Starch
Bread (1 loaf)
Velveeta Blanco
Chili Seasoining Mix (2 pkg.)
Gravy Mix (1 pkg.)

Recipes to follow soon.

Month 1 Menu Plan

This is the first of the Monthly Menu Plans I have developed.  So far I have done three months (five weeks in each month) I will be posting a shopping list for this month shortly and I will put links in to recipes as well as including the recipes that I have developed myself.  My goal is to get 6 of these done and then we can just rotate them.  The shopping list will be broken down by the types of items to make shopping easier.  I make my shopping list up to feed 6 so adjustments may need to be made for you.  I feed 5 people, but preparing for 6 allows for intentional leftovers to help with the meals on Saturday. I will also be posting the items that I prep to put into the freezer for future meals.  I do a fair amount of freezer cooking, but rarely do I spend a day making freezer meals.  I tend to make casseroles and make 2 or 3 of them when we are eating that meal and put the extras into the freezer.  I also will prep meals for the crock pot and put into a ziplock bag so that it is only necessary to pour the contents into the crock pot and turn it on. I also make my baked spaghetti for example after we have spaghetti for a meal.  I use those leftovers to make up the one for the freezer.  I have tried to make items that use some of the leftovers from earlier in the week as well.  When I make Rubber chicken or a turkey I plan out what the leftovers will be used for.  I also make sure and use the poultry carcass to make up broth for future meals.  Planning out the menu helps us to use up the leftovers and saves money by not only using the leftovers, but by decreasing the number of trips necessary to the store to buy items.  When I made up the shopping lists I included everything necessary to make the meals minus salt and pepper which I always have on hand.  At some point I will post a well stocked pantry list because I rarely have to buy everything on my shopping lists.  But having the list complete allows me to take an inventory and determine exactly what on the list I need to purchase or retrieve from the meat locker. 
Month 1 Menu Plan
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Mashed Potatoes
Baked Cube Steaks
Mashed potatoes
Chicken Alfredo Pasta with zucchini
Garlic Bread
Chow Mein
Crock Pot
Beef Fried
Sticky Chicken
Baked Pork Cutlets
Garlic Bread
Crock Pot
Ranch Chicken
Chili Leftovers
Macaroni and
Hot Dogs
Pork Chops
Mashed Potatoes
Garlic Bread
Beef Fried
Rubber Chicken
Creamy White

Mashed Potatoes
Baked Beans
Chicken &
Mashed Potatoes
Baked Tortellini
Garlic Bread
Crock Pot
No Time to
Cook Chicken
Turkey Noodle
Baked Spaghetti
Garlic Bread
Pork Cutlets
Mashed Potatoes
Penne Pasta
with Sausage
Rice Pilaf
Crock Pot
Stroganoff with
Chili Leftovers

Shopping list to follow.

My craft area before and after pictures.

This is the before.

These are the after.  This is so much better.  Not as good as my own craft room as I can go there and get away from the questions and noise of everyone else in the house, not to mention turn my music up loud for extra inspiration, but it is better than nothing at all. And now that I have it organized I'm not having as much trouble with people putting things on my table that just don't belong there.  I invested in a couple of bookshelf and a couple of little cabinet shelves to help me get more table space.  I still need a to tweak my paper storage, but it's a work in progress.  I'll probably get this area all organized in time to move back to my craft area at the other house as well, which I will have absolutely no complaint about.  It is so much nicer to have my own private room for my crafting.

Reclaiming my craft area and organizing our lives

Over the last couple of weeks I have been busy reclaiming my craft area in the kitchen.  I got it organized enough to go for my scrapbooking crop weekend.  Since then I have been increasing the organization in this area and now have it so that I can actually use it if I want.  Hopefully, now I can start posting regular ideas that I am generating while I work there. I will post the before and after pictures of my craft area.

In addition, I have been spending time organizing other areas of my life especially my meal planning.  I will share here some of those ideas as well.  We just finished up our first month of menus that I made out.  We tried several new recipes over the month and decided they will be definitely incorporated into our meal plans.  A few need a little tweaking, but overall, they were good.  Having the menu plans help me with prepping things in advance whenever possible, but definitely with the shopping and having what we need on hand to make the meals.  I have a perfect set up now.  We order our meat at the local meat packing place and get a half hog or a half cow at a time. We rent a locker there for 15.00 a quarter and I just make a list at the beginning of the month and they pull out the meat I need for the entire month and I bring it home and toss in the freezer.  That leaves me with only fish and poultry to purchase at the store.  It saves us a ton of money and makes life so very simple. 

My newest project has been making my own household cleaners. I decided to do this not only to save money, but to also decrease the amount of chemicals we are using in the house.  So far, I am happy with my results.  I have found several recipes for things on pinterest and have googled other recipes and found a ton of information out there.  I have now made window cleaner, window wipes, baby wipes, fabric softener, floor cleaner and today I'm making laundry detergent.  I have cleaned out a closet and organized my canned goods on one set of shelves and my new cleaners, and cleaner supplies on another set of shelves.  I can now use this closet and have more room in my overcrowded dining room.  I figure I will get this house all organized and then we will move back to the other house.  But this organizing has helped me look at some of the things I want to change in the other house as we look at the remodeling there.  I have so many ideas about how functional the different areas will be when we move back in.

The newest addition to our family is now 7 weeks old and her mom has gone back to school, so we are now working around the schedule of a newborn in our life.  It makes the days a little more interesting, however, she is a very good baby, so that helps tremendously. 

Have a blessed day and keep looking here for the latest menu plan, recipes and craft ideas. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

The latest addition to the family


Here is the little lady that has been keeping us busy lately. 

My goals for the New Year

So, I'm noticing that blogging must not be my forte as it seems like life falls apart and I go for months without blogging  One of my goals for this new year is to spend more time blogging.  In the time that I have not been blogging a lot has happened in our lives.  We took in two teenagers when their mom ended up in prison.  This decision wasn't an easy one as we knew if we didn't take the one, we would probably lose our son.  So we took in his girlfriend and her younger brother.  Since that time we have had a wedding and a new grandbaby.  Life is very different with a newborn in the house.  I'm hoping to get some semblance of normal going here in the next month or so.  I'm also hoping to resume card classes and scrapbooking classes here in February.  I'll be posting some new card ideas here in the next couple of weeks and I plan to start the monthly drawings again. 

Every year when the new year comes I try to set new goals for the new year.  I don't look at them as resolutions but what things I want to accomplish over the entire year.  This year I rang the new year in with a nasty bug and haven't even had the energy to think about my goals for the year.  But today I hope to nail some of them down. Of course I know that they will include a closer relationship with my lord and savior Jesus Christ, better health, better financial health and returning to our own home.  I will have more that include craft and restful activities for me as well.  When I get them nailed out I'll share them here along with some of my strategies for accomplishing them.  I have a weekend scrapbooking crop coming up here in a couple of weeks so my next project craftwise includes printing off my pictures and getting together page kits for my weekend activities. I'll post some of my complete pages here when I get back.  I've got a wedding and a new baby to scrapbook this year so I should have fun. Little girl pictures are always fun to scrapbook.