Saturday, January 31, 2009

Episode 17: Easy Grapefruit Preparation



A special guest shows us an easy way to prepare a grapefruit.

Financial Goals: January Update

We have made some progress towards our goals this month! Here is the update for the month of January!!

1. Save 3 months living expenses by December 31. We added a small amount this month towards our emergency fund.
2. Pay $3,000 towards our "small loan". We have paid off almost $2,000 already!!
3. Make an extra principal payment every month. We have decided to take the Dave Ramsey approach and attack the smallest debt first. With focusing solely on our "small loan" we hope to have it entirely paid off this year and will then focus on principal payments!
4. Keep all Miscellaneous spending (Medicine, Toiletries, Clothing, Gifts, Everything but food) under $100 a month. We only spent $20 on miscellaneous spending this month! (Staying out of the stores really helps!!)
5. Sell $500 worth of stuff from around our home by July 31 We didn't sell anything this month but have several items listed on Craigslist.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Homemade Foamy Soap

Yesterday I ran out of my foamy soap that is in my kitchen! I just love my foamy soap and was trying to decide whether I should buy more or try to make my own. I found this link for foamy dish soap from The Working Mom! As soon as I read the post I went and made my own from Dawn and it works great!!

Steak and Gravy with Hash Brown Casserole

This weekend I cooked a good hearty Southern meal and it was delicious!

I used Paula Deen's Steak and Gravy recipe, I will be making it again!


I also made a hashbrown casserole, I followed no recipe just mixed together shredded hash browns, butter, sour cream, milk, and cheese and baked about 25 minutes (it was a very small casserole!)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Menu Plan Monday


I have decided to start trying out new recipes! The front of my recipe box is stuffed with recipe cards and clippings of recipes that I think we would like (with ingredients we have on hand always!) I have decided that I need to start trying some of these new recipes instead of cooking the same things every few weeks. So this week I am trying out 2 new recipes!

Breakfast:
Cereal
Grapefruit
Yogurt
Apples

Lunch:
Leftovers

Dinner:
White Bean and Chicken Chili (new!)
Beef Fajitas
Mushroom and Sausage Pizza
Pork Chops, Broccoli, and Bread
Spinach Cheese Swirl (new!)
Vegetable Soup

I will post about the new recipes in the upcoming days!!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Episode 16: 2009 Financial Goals

A Little Organization can Save Money

I am a bargain hunter, just like my mom is, it is something I love and have been doing for years. There is something so exciting about finding a cute sweater on clearance for $3 or a great pair of pants for $5 or a $1 picture frame. However, I have realized that just because something is on clearance it isn't always worth the money. I typically don't purchase pants or shirts if they are over $10 and dresses if they are more than $20, that has been my unofficial "rule." I have realized that if I purchase three $5 shirts and wear them only once before donating that I would be better off buying one $20 shirt that I love and is a classic piece I will wear for 2 or 3 years. This is a recent realization to me: as far as stretching your money goes, many times quality is better than quantity (quality=nice piece you love, quantity=several things you buy because they are cheap!)

I was reminded of this tonight as my husband and I browsed a few stores. I checked out several clearance racks looking for some great deals but remembered that I have no clothing or household needs that would justify even a $5 purchase right now (in fact I am trying to get rid of things.)

As I was walking out the door of the last store I told my husband, isn't it crazy how people shop, they just go browsing and pick up anything that strikes their fancy or is on sale! It would be much more efficient to make a list of the clothing, household, or decor items that we need and purchase those items instead of looking for items that are discounted deeply that you will give away within the year.

So, I am going to approach shopping for clothing, shoes, decor, etc. like grocery shopping, make a list of what I need and stick to it!! And I am positive I will save money!

Fun Friday

Today John David was off work (he worked two 13 hour days this week so he flexed his time!) We had big plans for the day and we were able to get everything accomplished! One of the big things we did was go to the dump to throw away trash and bring in our recycling. We had a huge pile of recycling near our garage door and I am so glad that it is gone! We went to town and purchased insulation for our garage door (we had a rather expensive electric bill and we are trying to cut energy costs!) We also went to the bank and set up our mortgage to online payments! That will be really convenient for us! Tonight was also date night, we had Mexican for dinner and it was great! We had a very nice dinner together and afterward we went to Goodwill, TJ Maxx, and Ross and looked around, we didn't spend a dime....oh the self control :)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Mandarin Orange Cake Recipe Card

Here is the much requested recipe card for the cake. Sorry I did not get this out when the show released.
Mandarin Orange Cake Recipe Card

Monday, January 19, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Here are this weeks meals. I am trying to incorporate salads and more fruits and vegetables into our diet, so we are going to be eating salad more often and soups full of veggies!

Breakfasts:
Cereal
Grapefruit
Yogurt and Apples
Ham and Biscuits

Lunches:
Leftovers

Dinners:
Ranch Pork Chops and Rice with Salad
Chicken Noodle Soup
Spaghetti and Salad
Fried Steak and Mashed Potatoes
Hamburger Soup
Alfredo Pizza

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Episode 15: Mandarin Orange Cake



In today's episode I am making Mandarin Orange Cake. It is really simple, really good, and frugal!

I have made this cake before but after filming it for this show I thought it had a little too much sugary glaze. Next time I make it I am cutting the glaze in half so the cake isn't too sugary! Just thought I would pass that on to you!

I hope you enjoy this little dessert!

Downloadable recipe card:
Mandarin Orange Cake Recipe Card

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Building Relationships

Last night we had dinner with one of John David's new co-workers and his family. We enjoyed sharing a meal with them and getting to know their family. As I was talking to his wife she said something I have thought of often, "you don't really get to know the people you go to church with until you visit with them outside of church." This is something I have often thought of too! When we go to someone's home or they come to our home we are in a relaxed atmosphere and it is there that you are really able to start building a relationship that is more than talking over prayer requests in Small Group. We are thankful that we are in a church that encourages out of church gatherings because at our church we "do life together," and isn't that something every church and every Christian should strive for, "do life together," not just "do church together?"

Financial Blessings

The past month has been a month of change for our family. We purchased a home, John David resigned from his position with Farm Credit, and started his job at our church on January 5. Since he resigned 2 1/2 weeks before starting his new job, we have gone 4 weeks without a paycheck! Isn't that a scary thought? Somehow we have made it this past month and have not been financially strained. We still have some money in our checking account and we still have some money in our emergency fund. We are so thankful that we have been able to go 4 weeks without pay and not be stressed about it!

Of course we didn't have a big Christmas at all, in fact John David and I didn't purchase each other anything (although we did buy each other a home for Christmas!) Since this is the 4th week, I haven't been grocery shopping and it is amazing how much food I still have and how many meals I can make when I "need" to go to the grocery store. God has definitely taken care of us and blessed us tremendously!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Menu Plan Monday


We are pretty much settled into our new home and I am so ready to get things back to normal! After a month off from meal planning I am tired of the stress of deciding what to make for dinner every night and glad to be organized once again!!

Here is our menu for this week:

Breakfasts:
Cereal
Yogurt and Apples
Ham and Biscuits

Lunches:
Leftovers

Dinners:
Taco Soup
Meatloaf
Red Beans and Rice
Pork Chops and Broccoli
Chili

Snacks:
Fruits and yogurt!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Episode 14: Mexican Casserole



Download and print the Recipe Card

Happy cooking!!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Discussion Board

I usually get the mail and when I do I open every piece (unless it is from John David's family), put all junk mail and envelopes in the recycle bin, take care of those things that are my responsibility, and lay John David's mail on his desk. He typically comes home and proceeds to push the mail I laid there aside and so he never sees it and we never talk about it (bills, financial statements, etc.) I am sure many of you can relate to this exact scenario.

Well, to solve this problem, we now have the "discussion board"! My friend Jen gave this to me this fall and I knew I could find something clever to do with it and I have!



On this board is a calendar and currently our gas bill. As items that John David needs to look at or we need to discuss arrive, I will tack them up and take a few minutes once or twice a week and discuss them!



Here is the discussion board in relation to the office, it is just inside the door and close to my desk. (Isn't it obvious we still aren't settled, John David's monitor box sitting beside my desk on top of a storage tote, blocking the door with a screwdriver on top!) Hopefully by this weekend everything will be squared away but until then, the discussion board looks great and is serving its purpose keeping us organized!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

2009 Financial Goals

I wanted to share our financial goals for this year not only to share with my readers about how we live but also for accountability, if I write it and publish it, it better happen!!

Here are our goals:

1. Save 3 months living expenses by December 31. We cheated and used some of our emergency fund towards our home, we almost had 3 months saved but decided to borrow from ourselves instead of the bank!
2. Pay $3,000 towards our "small loan". Our home did not have appliances and needed painting, carpet cleaning, air systems cleaned, etc. so we borrowed some money, I can't wait to pay this off and have the mortgage as our only debt!
3. Make an extra principal payment every month. We plan to add whatever we can to the loan in order to get it paid off as soon as possible!
4. Keep all Miscellaneous spending (Medicine, Toiletries, Clothing, Gifts, Everything but food) under $100 a month. We've been doing this a few months now and plan to continue it to stay on budget! With CVS, coupons, and thrift stores this shouldn't be too hard!
5. Sell $500 worth of stuff from around our home by July 31. I actually began this on August 1, 2008 and so far I have sold $113.57 in little stuff around the house such as books and scrapbook supplies! I have $386.43 to go which means I have to sell $55 worth of stuff each month!! I think this will be challenging but since we moved and I am decluttering big time hopefully we will reach it!!

Our Study of Dog Nutrition Ended with Interesting Results



When we got our dog, Mac, 2 1/2 weeks ago we decided that since we have a dog we ought to take good care of him and feed him good foods to keep him as healthy as possible. The day we got him we researched dog food and what we should purchase for him and found out that the first ingredient in a dog food should be a meat such as beef, lamb, or chicken and not corn meal or meat meal. So with this important information we went to purchase dog food and spent 30 minutes looking at labels. Most of the dog food in stores does not contain meat as the first ingredient. After reading every puppy food label there we made a decision and purchased a 20 pound bag.

This Sunday John David did some more pet food research and found this amazing site Pet Grub. This website is about feeding dogs raw meat and vegetables because that is what their bodies are designed for. We read through a lot of the information on the site and decided that we were going to give it a try.

Yesterday Mac didn't touch his breakfast and wouldn't eat it at lunch and his little stomach growled and gurgled all day long. I was worried all afternoon thinking he has eaten something (he is in that stage of putting everything in his mouth) and I felt so bad. Well, when John David got home he decided to try one of the recipes. A puppy needs 3 part protein to 1 part vegetable so he boiled an egg following these instructions: Preparing Eggs. He put green beans in our food processor to puree them and then mixed the green beans and egg and fed them to Mac and after not touching his food all day he ate every last bit of it! And his stomach noises went away! (John David said he must have heard us talking about switching the night before and was holding out for the good stuff!) This morning we gave him chopped raw deer meat and green beans and he ate every bit of that too!

We were a little worried about him getting sick with the transition but it's been almost 24 hours since the first meal and he hasn't gotten sick or shown any sign of sickness!!



As we were researching for the dog and his nutritional needs, I reflected about what little thought I put into our nutritional needs everyday. I take my vitamin and don't fry foods very much and try to avoid most processed foods but I still don't purchase fruits and vegetables regularly and make it a point to eat these good foods. I think it is ironic that we focus so much on our animal's health and nutritional well being and neglect ours, farmers are all about balanced rations for their cattle, horses, chickens and many pet owners care enough to read the labels of their dog foods but we don't even read the labels for our foods, we just order that cheeseburger at McDonalds, or drink a Route 44 Dr. Pepper at Sonic, and can go for days without eating a fresh vegetable or fruit.

So, thanks to our dog, I have really put some thought into our eating habits and plan to do much better at meeting our nutritional needs. In fact, yesterday I started a "sugar fast," meaning I am only drinking water and a glass of unsweetened juice in the morning, I am not eating sweets (candy, cookies, cake) for a least a week. (It's been surprisingly easy for me so far especially considering my sweet tooth!!) Today while I was at the grocery store I stocked up on apples, grapes, yogurt, and grape fruit in an attempt to make small steps to better eating. I plan to add fresh vegetables to our meal plans especially since my husband's Mamaw gave us a steamer for Christmas, perfect to cook the vegetables without removing most of their nutrients! We will also grow a garden this summer to have fresh produce not only for us but also for our dog!

Just take a moment and think about what you put in your body on a daily basis and the things you do not. I think you will be surprised about how you eat, like I was.

So, isn't it interesting how getting a new dog has lead us to take better care of ourselves? I certainly think it is!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Episode 13: Meat Grinding



This episode is about meat grinding. It is nothing gross or graphic, we just go through the steps of grinding your own meat at home!

Joining me in this episode is my husband John David.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Things are Coming Together

Well, it's been almost 2 weeks since we moved and things are really coming together in the house!! Our master bedroom is organized,we just lack hanging our mirror and the small decorative touches. Our living room is set up and only lacks hanging a few pictures on the walls. My kitchen is mostly finished, I have to figure out where to hang my spice rack and my gadget rack and it will be done. In the studio we need to put cords where they belong (fun stuff) and our guest bedroom has some miscellaneous items that I need to find a spot for! With all this progress I am feeling pretty productive! We haven't painted all week which has made us more productive! We still lack trim work in the living room and have to paint all of the doors. Our dining area is still a disaster with tools and paint cans still in the floors, our guest bath is also a disaster with paint cans and drop cloths covering the vanity! We plan to work all day today and hopefully next week I can start posting before and after photos :)

And we have enjoyed playing with our sweet little dog! Here is a photo of him:


The window sills in the master, living room, and guest room are the perfect height for him to look out!! It is so cute!