Monday, January 31, 2011

menu plan monday - january 31

Here we are at the dawn of a new month. Yesterday I posted my January goal recap and my new February goals. But I left the one about the food budget out. In January we went over my lofty $400 goal.


We came in about $30 under our normal monthly goal. So, my challenge for February is to come in at least that same $30 under. That, of course, means careful planning.

Cooking in the kitchen this week:

  • teriyaki chicken (I'm going to make this one more time with a tweak, then I'll share the recipe with you.)
  • meatloaf & mashed potatoes
  • tater tot casserole
  • hamburgers
  • chicken quesadillas
  • taco soup

Later this week (hopefully), I have a recipe to share with you. Here's a hint ~ you usually make it from a box, but from scratch is just as easy, healthier, and possibly cheaper.

As always, check out the other menu plans at


Sunday, January 30, 2011

i jumped all over those goals

Sort of.

At the beginning of January, I shared my goals for the month with you. It's time to check in with those and determine February goals. Today is not the last day of the month, but if it hasn't happened by today, it's not going to happen.

Read 2 books. (This is a small step to accomplish my year-long goal of 35 books.) I read one book. I have been stuck the last few weeks. I haven't even read much while the kids were at dance. I think I need to abandon my current book and move on. There's no shame in that.

Make a bread recipe at least once. Nope.

List 5 new items in the shop. Accomplished! They are pretty cute too! Two of them even sold already.

Hang up and fold our laundry instead of letting it pile up.  Success! Not only did I clean up the big pile that was already on our bedroom floor (so what if I just finished the socks today), but I managed to take care of the folding and hanging of the laundry as it happened. Awesome and shocking all at the same time. Since laundry is an ongoing chore, I'm planning on keeping up this good habit.

And now for February ~
  1. Read 2 books. (Do you sense a recurring theme here?)
  2. List 5 new items in the shop.
  3. Clean out and organize the 4 drawers in the kitchen island which have inadvertently become semi junk drawers.
  4. Make a bread recipe at least once.
  5. Iron our school clothes the night before to help alleviate morning screaming stress.
  6. Complete my February photo project. (More on this later this week.)
So far I'm liking the idea of monthly goals. So much more of an easier bite to chew than constantly thinking about an entire year and feeling awful if you mess up in the first month.

Did you make January goals? How did you do? Let's hear about it!


Friday, January 28, 2011

tales of middle school

Last night, Stephanie was ranting to us about a girl in her band class who apparently annoys her.

Just a little.

First, she started describing her appearance. From the sounds of it, this chick has what amounts to hair sculpture. Her parents must buy hairspray by the vat.

Just sayin'.

As her voice got a little louder with excitement, Stephanie told us how Girl-with-Sculptured-Hair is disrespectful and rude to the band teacher in both mannerisms and sassy mouth. Stephanie provided us with a full demonstration of this unsavory behavior for our amusement.

Then, as if that weren't enough, she seemed most appalled that the girl can't bother to use "proper verb tense"!

That's right ~ that's what she said.

This grammar snobbery just came from the tween who still tries to use the word brang. {shudder!}

I have never been more proud!


Monday, January 24, 2011

menu plan monday - january 24

A lot of weeks, I make a carefully (or haphazardly) thought out menu plan then for one reason or another I end up only cooking part of what's on that plan. Most of the time I just don't feel like making what I had planned, so I improvise and choose something else. Sometime I wonder if I make a plan just so I can deviate from it! Last week, I made everything on my plan (except that dang stir-fry). I shocked myself.

Cooking in our kitchen this week:

  • Chinese chicken salad
  • crunchy garlic chicken (new)
  • barbeque beef biscuits (new)
  • taco casserole
  • chili
  • steak & noodles

I'm going to try a couple of new items this week. Hopefully they will be good enough to appear again on a menu plan.

Go see what everyone else is having for dinner at


Sunday, January 23, 2011


Nine years! It sounds like such a long time ~ yet it seems like it was just yesterday. How is it possible?

 {crazy sock day at school}

Nine years ago, we were ready for you ~ and Papa was worried that you'd decide to make your grand entrance into this world on Super Bowl Sunday. Luckily for him, the doctor decided you should come a little early and he didn't have to miss his game.

Nine years ago, you completed our little family. You made us whole.

Nine years ago, we wondered about the kind of girl you would be.

Nine years ago, you stole our hearts with just one glance.

Nine years ago, you made a sweet two-year old happy to have a baby sister.

Today, you still steal our hearts with your witty charm & your cute little smile.

Today, you are amazingly brilliant. You constantly keep us on our toes.

Today, we delight in having a conversation with you. You are insightful and use a vocabulary beyond your years.

Today, you are already a talented artist. We are anxious to see where this gift takes you.

Today, you are bold mixed with a little bit of shy.

Today, you have a heart for others. It bothers you greatly to see anyone sad or hurting.

Today, you are nine. We feel so lucky to have you. We love you with all of our hearts.


he loves me, he loves me not

He loves me. 

He loves me not.

Of course he loves you, silly.

I had this idea in my head for a pillow and when I saw that Stitched in Color was having a Blogger's Pillow Party, I wanted to get this done in time. I also stitched up another one that I think I will put in a frame.

I'm pleased with how it turned out. I used red fabrics for the border and back of the pillow so it can easily be for Valentine's Day. But the fabrics aren't so obviously Valentine ~ so it can stick around a little while longer.

Head on over to the Pillow Party to see all the other adorable pillows. 

Blogger's Pillow Party


Thursday, January 20, 2011

tales from the schoolyard

Apparently this little monkey had a little too much fun over the weekend because I found her like this about 10 minutes after we got to school on Tuesday morning. She has always had the freakish ability to completely fold herself in half.

Good news! It's looking like the 80s are coming back!


Turquoise jeans and Vans? I always liked the ones that tie better than the slip-on version. Turquoise and fuchsia paired together was one of my favorite color combinations back in the day. Hmm. Still might be. When I saw this little guy saunter into the room with this outfit, I knew that the time for the rebirth of the 80s is nigh.

I need to buy some Aqua Net.


Monday, January 17, 2011

menu plan monday - january 17

Eat from the Pantry-schmantry.


Ugh! This concept isn't exactly working out for us this month. Our grocery bill has defiantly risen above my $400 goal for the month ~ and we still have one more shopping trip in this month left. Part of the problem is that our grocery store is having case sales and other good deals. Greg says it's a ploy because they read blogs too and know that we are all trying to cut back in January after a spendalicious December. But good stock up deals are hard to resist when it means saving money in the long run. We are, however, still within the limits of our regular grocery budget. So maybe February will be the actual Eat from the Pantry month for us.

On our plates this week will be:

  • chicken marsala
  • sloppy joes
  • alfredo chicken bake
  • grilled cheese & soup
  • bean & rice burritos
  • grilled chicken, broccoli, and roasted potatoes
  • beef stir fry (One of these days I'm actually going to make this!)

For other meal planning ideas, be sure to visit


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

watch this

Watch this. You'll be glad you did.


Monday, January 10, 2011

menu plan monday ~ january 10

We survived last week! The first week going back to work/school is always a tough week. I didn't get to everything on my menu planning list, which makes this week even easier because there are some repeats. There were a couple of fend for yourself nights at the end of the week. On Friday, Greg and Heather were so tired they went to bed without dinner. Stephanie had cereal and I ate the last crumbs out of the Doritos bag. Classy.

During last week's grocery trip, we went over my original plan of $100, but stayed under our weekly average of $132. There were some good P & G deals paired with coupons that couldn't be passed up. This week our normal store is having a case sale. I plan on taking advantage of that sale, while planning most of our meal items from what is already on hand in the pantry and freezer. Even with a little stocking up, I am confident that we can stay under $400 for the month.

On the menu this week:

  • shredded beef enchiladas
  • mac 'n cheese 'n burger
  • beef stir fry
  • cream cheese chicken
  • teriyaki chicken
  • chicken alfredo bake
  • potato cheese soup

What's on your plate? See what others are having at


Sunday, January 9, 2011

be mine, valentine

Do you decorate for Valentine's Day? We do. Since our stash of Valentine's decorations is small, I am always looking for some new items to add to it. But I don't want our house to be a giant, pink, puffy heart either. I made these banners for the shop and I think they add the perfect touch without going over the top.

I think I need to make another one for me.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

he gets me

My relationship with bananas is not an unconditional one. I l.o.v.e. banana cream pie. I enjoy a banana split very much. Banana bread? Yum! (Hmm...I see sugar as a recurring theme here.)

And in the past even though it always seemed like a good idea, actually eating one by itself just about never happened. Somehow they creeped me out a little. Then a few years ago at a staff development, the bananas on the fruit tray beckoned to me and I gave in. I started eating bananas on a semi-regular basis. 


Remember, I love only conditionally where the banana is concerned. I can only eat them if they have just barely turned yellow. A little green on the ends is a good thing. If they are smooshy or the least bit brown, forget it. The smell of a very ripe banana (unless it's about to go into banana bread batter) turns my stomach. When I eat them at school I don't throw the peel away in my trash can ~ I take it somewhere else.

I know. I have issues!

Bananas were on the grocery list this week. Greg brought home these nearly all green ones. They were a little too green to eat on Tuesday. But today, so perfect. By Saturday, I will have little to nothing to do with them, probably. Fortunately, the kids never let a few brown spots get in their way and will still eat them.

He totally gets me.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

january goals ~ or call me fickle

(Stephanie took this picture for part of her upcoming science project.)

While talking with Greg the other day, he mentioned that my New Year's Resolution was pretty vague. At the end of the year, there is no real measure of whether I had achieved my goal or not.

He's right.

So I've been thinking about that a little bit. I like the idea of a theme for the year, so Be Consistent will continue to be my theme. Then, for each month, I will make a list of concrete goals ~ ones that can be measured. I think a series of smaller goals will be easier to handle and help me focus on the positive aspects of goal setting. Thinking about the whole year at once was leading me to some really dark places of failure and self-degrading in my mind. That's such an ugly place to go and I'm really trying to avoid it.

So, before January gets away from me completely, I plan to accomplish the following:
  1. Read 2 books. (This is a small step to accomplish my year-long goal of 35 books.)
  2. Make a bread recipe at least once. 
  3. List 5 new items in the shop.
  4. Hang up and fold our laundry instead of letting it pile up ~ there may be a big pile right as we speak. (The kids hang up and fold their own now.)
I'll report back to you at the end of the month.

Monday, January 3, 2011

menu plan monday - january 3

It's January, people! Because it was pretty successful last year, that means it's time to Eat from the Pantry again. This is a two-fold money saving experience. First, we can save money by eating items we bought on sale to stock the pantry/freezer before they are no longer desirable to eat (freezer burn, expiration dates, etc). We won't be forced to throw something away in the future because we can't eat it. That is the same as throwing money in the trash! Secondly, it means smaller bills at the grocery store this month. After Christmas, we can use some smaller bills at the grocery store. Can't you? As an added bonus, clearing the pantry by eating it, makes it easier to reorganize or tidy up the pantry if it should need it. And it might ~ there's been a little bit of hasty shoving going on lately.

If we eat from the pantry, we will eventually have to restock it, right? Yes, but this will be done as there are sales, hopefully paired with coupons ~ just as we did this year.  Whether or not we eat from the pantry this month, we would still take advantage of stocking up opportunities. So really this is a clear money saving event.

We will still buy things that we need, of course, especially fresh fruits, vegetables, and milk. And I get to make my own rules for this challenge. My goal is to keep our grocery bill under $400 for the month (we typically spend an average of about $530 a month).

This week we are going back to school from our winter break. After having a crazy sleep schedule and no actual schedule during the day for the last two weeks, I will be t.i.r.e.d. at the end of the day. Getting back on the meal planning wagon will be helpful.

This week we will have:
  • beef stir fry
  • shredded beef enchiladas (shredded beef left over from the roast we had on Sunday)
  • tacos
  • mac 'n cheese 'n burger
  • swedish meatballs (I tried a new recipe last time from the internet & forgot to print it out. I hope I can find it again because it was soooo good!)
  • grilled cheese & soup
What's for dinner at your house this week? See what other people are eating at

Saturday, January 1, 2011

silhouette giveaway

Do you have a Silhouette? Do you want one?

Brown Paper Packages is sponsoring a giveaway. Head on over to win ~ but you gotta hurry because the deadline to enter is tonight.

and a happy new year

Alright, let's review. I hesitated to post New Year's Goals at the beginning of 2010. It's tough to advertise your shortcomings. But I did, so now it's time to be accountable. Let's see how I fared.

2010 New Year's Goals

Use Quicken to track our income/expenses all year. This is one I was successful with...sort of. I was able to keep it up until mid-October. Then, Greg and I reevaluated how we were keeping track of our money and we decided he would be in charge of the keeping track and we switched to a program called iBank 4. So far we are happy with the program and I am happy with not having to keep track of our money anymore. 

Read 35 books. Nope ~ but I did read 25 books. Can I get partial credit?

Go to work 15 minutes earlier so I can come home earlier. For the most part, I got to work earlier than normal for the rest of the school year. I tried to go home from work earlier than in the past. Sometimes this happened, sometimes not. This school year we are usually at school about an hour before I am required to be there because of Stephanie's drop off schedule. I should feel more organized and prepared, right? Hm, I think I just find more to do.

Deal with mail and other paperwork right away to avoid pile-ups. This was hit or miss. Overall, I think I did a better job than in the past, but it still needs more work. Since Greg is our accounting manager (hee hee, like that title, honey?) it is easier to deal with the mess. The future is looking brighter with this one.

Be active at least three times a week. You're so funny! Complete fail. Let's not discuss it.

And that brings us to 2011. 

When I try to think about what I want my goals to be, all I can seem to focus on are what I view as failures for myself. It becomes a whole bunch of "I don't do this right ~ I am really bad at this ~ I dropped the ball here" kind of talk. It has occurred to me in the last few days of thinking about this post that maybe what I need is a more positive approach. This approach is not as specific as "get to work 15 minutes earlier", but its general nature has the potential of being more effective. 


For the year 2011, I am going to focus on being consistent. I can apply this concept to any area of my life. Sounds simple, right? For example, if I am more consistent with dealing with the mail, then it won't pile up. See? Brilliant.

I am going to continue with my reading goal, however. Since I didn't reach my goal in 2010, I will keep the same goal of 35 books. 

What about you? Do you have new goals for 2011?