Friday, May 29, 2009
One of our very fav SUMMER ACTIVITIES is WATER play!! It teaches so many different skills for little ones. When playing in water, children learn science concepts, math concepts, eye-hand coordination not to mention cooperation and sharing skills. We do all sorts of things in water, including sprinklers, "washing" cars, washing pets and one our favs, filling a huge plastic bin with water and toys! The boys love to throw various toys and kitchen items in to see what floats and what will sink! We then talk about the differences in HEAVY vs. light (see? science folks!!) So get yourself and the kiddos out in the sun this summer and PLAY IN THE WATER! It's SO fun!
Go on over to I Blame Mom for more wonderful Kid Friendly tidbits for today! And have a wonderful weekend my friends!
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Now, I'm very sad for them:
I don't know what to say. But I do KNOW what to DO. I must pray for them. I must pray for each and every one of them. I must pray that our Almighty and Powerful God will reach them, touch them, bless them and grace them. I must pray that they will reach out to Him, invite Him back into their lives and their marriage.
Because like many, it is truly breaking my heart to see it in such a mess.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
So we're still hitting the Dave Ramsey program as hard as we can. And SH's hours have been cut a bit more and we're expecting a cut and possible lay-off in the fall (did I sound calm? Really? Cuz I'M. NOT!). So we're trying to conserve our resources and not spend a bunch of money this summer. So it's got me thinking of our favorite summer cheap-o activities! Here are our favs:
1. Family exercise: SH & I grab the racquetball racquets, some balls and take the kids to the nearest court. We get in some exercise and the boys chase balls for us. Sounds silly and yes, it's absolutely free! We all love it! We realize we've only got a bit more time before they figure out chasing balls is not their idea of summer fun---so we'll keep at it until they do. LOL! Other things we do are bike riding, running while the kids ride their bikes, shooting hoops and whatever else strikes our fancy. Sometimes we just head to the nearest playground and we adults play like the kids. It's great frugal fun! We love that it instills the value of health with the boys and we all enjoy it. The boys like it so much they often are the first to suggest "Exercise Time"!
2. Movies: Our local Cobb Theatre does free kids movies three days a week. We love that! They are older movies and often we've seen them but hey! They are not in our living room and they are FREE! They offer this all summer long and change the movies weekly. Check with your local theatre.
3. Sprinkler Fun! We don't have a pool yet. And probably won't for several more years because of the initial cost and the maintenance. So we pull out the hose and sprinkler head and the boys go to town! They still really enjoy running through the sprinkler and then taking the hose and "washing" the vehicles! I love it because I can sit in the shade and read AND get the cars washed. Great exchange!
4. Head to the Beach! I realize this isn't an option for everyone. We live in central Florida so the beaches are relatively close to us. It can be a pretty cheap day if we pack our lunch, snacks and drinks. Most of the time, we hit a beach with free parking. So our only expense is the fuel to get to our destination. It's fantastic and a HUGE reason we live in Florida! If you don't live near a beach, is there a park with a lake?
5. Board Games: Our boys are just now getting old enough to learn to play board games. And they are enjoying them. We'll take advantage of this cheap entertainment for as long as we can!
6. Pull out the X-Box: Not my idea of a great time but SH and the boys really enjoy it. After the initial expense, using it over time isn't really expensive. SH usually gets games second hand so he spends very little on those. Big Boy is getting rather good at racing cars. We try to find games suitable for them and if I have my way, throw in a little education too. So I prefer things that make the boys learn their colors or counting. I will say that I ROCK on Guitar Hero though!
7. Arts and Crafts:: I try to do a crafty project with the boys at least three times a week. They love play-doh, painting, sidewalk chalk, water play, drawing, mazes....I could go on and on.
(all photos courtesy of flickr.com)
8. Hit the Library Honestly, before last year, we never went to the library. Maybe once in a blue moon, so to speak. But now it is an absolute staple every week. The boys love story time. We hang out in the kid's area for a couple of hours, reading books, putting together puzzles. Then we leave with a whole lotta books, movies, and books-on-CD. This is truly one of our favorite weekly activities. OH! And we always stop to feed the geese and ducks at the lake across the street!
So there are a few of our favorite, VERY FRUGAL summer outings! It really Works for Me--spending time with the family without spending a lot of dough! What do you do on the cheap in the summer?
Head on over to We Are That Family for more great WFMW tips and see what everyone else is doing this summer!
Monday, May 25, 2009
This is one of our fav chicken recipes of all time. SH thinks I really can cook when I whip this one up. I won't tell him how incredibly simple it is. I rather like it when he thinks I'm a cookin' phenom! Doesn't it look divine?
Chicken Cordon Bleu
6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
6 slices Swiss cheese
6 slices ham
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon paprika
6 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup heavy whipping cream
Pound chicken breasts if they are too thick. Place a cheese and ham slice on each breast within 1/2 inch of the edges. Fold the edges of the chicken over the filling, and secure with toothpicks. Mix the flour and paprika in a small bowl, and coat the chicken pieces.
Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat, and cook the chicken until browned on all sides. Add the wine and bouillon. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.
Remove the toothpicks, and transfer the breasts to a warm platter. Blend the cornstarch with the cream in a small bowl, and whisk slowly into the skillet. Cook, stirring until thickened, and pour over the chicken. Serve warm.
Enjoy this fantastic little dish and about the fifty others you can get over at Blessed With Grace! Have a terrific
I'm jumping the friend wagon because hey! Everyone needs friends! And I made some wonderful new ones last week. AND I really LOVE this question and the story that goes along with it! Yes--shameless promotion going on here and I'm just sayin'....
How did you and your significant other meet? and if you don't have a significant other at the moment then what would be your dream way to meet him?
SuperHubs & I met in 1999. A friend of mine was taking flying lessons and asked if I wanted to tag along to one of his flight lessons. Considering we had just moved to the area and I knew virtually three people, I thought what the heck?! So we get to the flight school and while we were waiting for his instructor, I wandered around the lobby of the flight school, checking out the "Mile High Club" t-shirts! Then my friend says to me, "This is Ben, my instructor". And around turns this dark, handsome, YOUNG guy with a fantastic smile and he shook my hand. I shook his hand and thought, OK--cute, young and great smile. That was about it for then. We went up into the airplane and started talking about the flight, Dallas and then he wanted my infinite wisdom on relationships with women! The whole flight was monopolized with me telling him how truly evil women could be, except me of course! That is how we met. The best part of this story is that we became terrific friends for the next year. We dated other people and became such great friends that we hung out all the time. Sometime during that year though, I began to realize that he meant so much to me. And somehow, during that year, I realized that I loved him not only for my friend, my terrific, irritating, funny, exhausting, challenging friend but that I was IN LOVE with him too! It took another couple of months for me gather the strength to tell him. And another six months before we realized that we really did love one another. That's a whole other story. It involves a little secret rendevous-ing and ah...well maybe, a little too hot for print, you know?! :) And that my friends, was 10 glorious years ago, 5 which we are married and two beautiful little boys later....
Go on over to Kasey's Place to get more friends. And wish her a HAPPY ANNIVERSARY! And join us on the friend wagon! Because, really, we all just want to be friends, right?
Friday, May 22, 2009
It's Kid Friendly Friday, I'm late and I didn't set up a post yet. Jeez....it's a wonder that the kids ever get fed or wear clean underwear! Where are my priorities?
This week's tip is simple and works great for me. So great that even though the little guys are 3 & 4 years old, we still do this all the time. We take generic baby wipes such as these:
And put them into Ziploc bags such as these:
And store them EVERYWHERE! In every car, in all my various bags that I take places, in the beach bag, anytime we are traveling, in every purse I have too. They go to doctor's appointments, airplanes, to the park, to the beach, to grandma's house, everywhere I'm telling you. They were not only necessary for little bottoms back in the day, but we use them now for wiping hands, wiping faces, wiping off grocery buggies, for napkins when we eat in the car (oops! did I say that?!), for just about any purpose, anytime. We just used them the other day when we took the dog to the vet and paws got dirty getting in and out of the car. Wiped the paws down and saved a mess in the car! What is especially handy and necessary in my opinion, is the Ziploc bag. The wipes stay moist forever---truly forever! We just found some old wipes from the beach bag from LAST SUMMER! They were still usable! And the bag folds into the smallest shape. Not like those hard plastic wipe containers. Those never worked for us because they were so inflexible and bulky, and the wipes always dried out quickly. The baggies work great and I can throw a few in, fold it up and shove it in the corner of the bag or my purse.
So that is my last minute Kid Friendly Friday suggestion. Head on over to my friend Sarah at I Blame Mom for some other great Kid Friendly tips! Have a great weekend friends!
Look what I found when he whimpered the other day that his pinky finger hurt:
Thing is folks....the injury is several days old and I have no idea when he did it! No blood, no major fit, no major tears. Just this, a couple of days later. OUCH! And little studmuffin managed to finally get it all the way torn off last night without so much as a drop of blood or a tear shed again. Me on the other hand....I'm crying for him! I keep asking "Are you SURE it doesn't hurt?". He just keeps telling me "It no hurt Mama. See?" as he touches it again.
I guess if he's ever captured and they even consider torture...he can just laugh and say "yeah, what EVER!".
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
It has been over a year since we ceased using any kind of credit card! Zip! Zilch! ZERO! Nada! Nothing! I just want to shout from the rooftops....WE DON'T USE CREDIT ANY MORE!!! WOO HOO!!
OK....a bit more serious now....It's been over a year since we seriously started the Dave Ramsey, Total Money Makeover. And we've managed to pay off a pretty sizeable chunk of debt!! Most importantly though, we made a conscience decision last year to completely quit accruing any more debt. And, that my friends, is a FANTASTIC feeling and what is REALLY working for us!
Ours is a No More Debt Life! If we cannot swing something with cold hard cash, it does not get purchased. That does mean that sometimes we eat more than our fair share of beans and rice! Sometimes it means that I'm making a LOT of laundry soap! It has meant recycling things throughout the house to satisfy a decorating dilemma instead of purchasing something new. And keeping the heat low and the a/c high...
We've discovered some really wonderful benefits to this new life as well. We spend a lot of time together, doing things that don't cost a lot of money! We enjoy movies together at home (RedBox ROCKS!) We exercise more, many times by taking the boys to the park or local b-ball courts, for free. We're teaching the boys how to play board games (we love a mean game of Skip-Bo!). We cook at home. When we see friends, we are usually hanging out at someone's house, grilling up some great food and playing a little Wii bowling! We've really learned to find the cheapest....ahem!....most frugal method of getting everything done!
We've established a solid Emergency Fund as well, as this is DR's #1 step. It has helped us tremendously. We've handled a few "Murphy's" (as in Murphy's Law....you know the one law that sneaks up on us all and bites us back there!) We're also working on another fund for a future vehicle, as we know we'll need a car within the next 3-4 years likely and want to pay cash for it too. Other than those funds, all our extra money is going into the Debt Snowball, or on to debts to pay them off faster. If you aren't familiar with the Debt Snowball, I'll explain it in another post or you can find it here.
So that my friend is what Works for Us! How about you? Have you changed your financial life in a small way or in a BIG way? What works for you? Let me know and then get on over to We Are That Family for more wonderful WFMW tips!
Monday, May 18, 2009
This is one of my favorite recipes. We especially love these crumbled and added to a spinach salad and even yummier, greens and all the fixin's for a Tex Mex salad. They are really delicious and especially good for you. Did you know that black beans are full of fiber, which is essential in keeping your cholesterol in check? It helps in the bathroom too, if you know what I mean!?! They are excellent for keeping blood sugar levels level and make you feel fuller, longer. Also, they are one of the best foods providing a huge amount of your daily needs of folate. Folate is especially important for child-bearing women in the prevention of neural tube defects, such as Spina Bifida.
So go ahead and enjoy black beans in any form. This is our favorite and it may just become yours too!
(photo courtesy of Photobucket.com)
Black Bean Burgers
1 (16 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 green bell pepper, cut into 2 inch pieces
1/2 onion, cut into wedges
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon Thai chili sauce or hot sauce
1/2 cup bread crumbs
If grilling, preheat an outdoor grill for high heat, and lightly oil a sheet of aluminum foil. If baking, preheat oven to 375 degrees F, and lightly oil a baking sheet.
In a medium bowl, mash black beans with a fork until thick and pasty.
In a food processor, finely chop bell pepper, onion, and garlic. Then stir into mashed beans.
In a small bowl, stir together egg, chili powder, cumin, and chili sauce.
Stir the egg mixture into the mashed beans. Mix in bread crumbs until the mixture is sticky and holds together. Divide mixture into four patties.
If grilling, place patties on foil, and grill about 8 minutes on each side. If baking, place patties on baking sheet, and bake about 10 minutes on each side.
And just so you know, a fantastic substitute for making your own are these little beauties:
Head on over to Blessed With Grace for other Tempt My Tummy recipes!! And catch me at Blissfully Domestic as well!!
Here it is. Today's task: Copy and paste these questions to your blog and give them your own answers.
Then head on over to Sarah or All That is Good where it all started and look at everyone else's answers. Go ahead! Get to know another blogger and MAKE A FRIEND today! Yeah!!
You wouldn't be caught dead where?: at my birth...obviously! Other than that....oh let's just say a pit of viper snakes would not be a good hangin' spot for me.
Do you have any hidden talents?: All my wonderful and amazing talents are already out there! LOL! However, some of them cannot be revealed to the general public and you will just have to wonder now won't you?
Name two things you consider yourself to be very good at: I'm a pretty decent cook, according to SH and the friends. And this Mama gig is fitting in rather nicely. Most days, I think that we are all living and breathing and that is a good thing!
Name two things you consider yourself to be very bad at: I am not a huge fan of logic problems. Much to my hubs chagrin--he is good at them and of course, takes every possible moment to stump me to prove his superiority. And then there is the bad habit of not sticking with a task or project until the very end. I tend to give up a little easily at times.
Have you ever won a trophy? Several for Top Pig at the 4-H fair when I was 9 years old. Still have them. Oh the pride!
Name one thing not many people know about you: I think I'm a rather open book. Especially now that this blog exists. But sometimes I'm caught off guard that people "never imagined" something about me. I guess I would have to say the farm kid thing---people are always shocked that I grew up a farm kid in the Midwest.
Name your earliest memory: Waking up to hear my brother's new puppy whimpering in the basket in the hallway. Her name was Chase and she lived to be 17 years old, believe it or not! She was the BEST dog in the world!
What was your favorite musical group in jr. high? Why Jr. High? I don't remember but I was a huge fan of Air Supply back in those days.
What was something the worst roommate you ever had did? I've never had a roommate! Only a husband. And let's just say that I don't find expulsion of bodily fluids something I want to hear....
When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?: My cousin and I played that we were famous singers, all. the. time! I really wanted to grow up and sing country music. I'm still sad I didn't pursue that dream.
What was your worst dating experience?: I was not a big dating kind of gal. More like hung out with groups of people. But I did have what I *thought* would be a great date with a guy to see a Picasso exhibit at the local museum. The exhibit was amazing! The guy---strange is not quite adequate enough word to describe him! Conversation kept going in the direction of really personal hygiene issues and yes, this was a FIRST date and no, that is not something I really talk about with even my closest friends. I ran, not walked, away from that one!
If you were about to die what would your last meal be?: A wonderful, fresh, hearty loaf of multi-grain bread with Irish butter. For the WHOLE MEAL! Yum!
Who is the most important person in you life?: I can't limit that to one. That is too difficult. Everyone has a role and of course, my husband and children are equally important. I will say though that my God comes first and foremost, always!
If your house was on fire what 3 things would you grab on your way out?: My children and husband. That's three.....everything else can be replaced.
Did you learn anything? How about it....want to be my friend?!
Friday, May 15, 2009
Take one all-beef hot dog:
Slice a little more than 1/2 way up, making 8 cross-section slices (these will be the 'legs'):
Voila! All set up to look like a Octopus, complete with a little shredded cheddar for 'hair' and ketchup!
If you want, head on over to my friend Sarah at I Blame Mom for other wonderful Kid Friendly Friday goodies! Have a good one friends!
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Oh! That one is a bit blurry. Please forgive! It's getting dark outside.... Remember, it did look like this:
First, I took some steel wool and cleaned the entire chair. Then I painted the whole chair with some Kilz primer as it was getting a bit rusty. It took about 2 cans of spray paint to get it dark and well covered. Then I simply printed out a pretty "J" for our initial, cut that out with a straight edge knife and taped it to the back of the chair. I painted that over with a basic white spray paint and had to be REALLY careful not to get it on too thick so it wouldn't drip. I have not spray painted anything in quite awhile but this was super easy.
So much nicer now don'tcha think? I really like the green!! I think it'll go great with some other ideas I have for the porch. We don't have much room, but future plans include a very large Boston fern and a plaque for the wall. I will post yet another picture when I get that part of the overall project done.....jeez, I hope we have another Procrastinator Party soon so I can get some more accomplished!!Did y'all get over to The Inspired Room for all the other goodies from all of us Procrastinators? I'm sitting here with a lovely cup of chai and am going to delve into them right now! ENJOY YOURSELVES!
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Oh! That's not it! That's a dream! Photo compliments of someone other than me....The Home Executive, who does a great job of pantry organization!
So....here we are. This is more like what I'm up to these days....
WOW! That's a lot of liquor up there! You'd think we drank....a LOT! HA!
Still never quite know what to do with those half-empty chip bags.....if I put them in a container, I always forget they are there!
However...I am one mean, can-organizing Mama!
So....there, my friends, you have a well-stocked pantry. Functional does not always equal pretty!
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
I'm noticing a trend to this blog....it is more food than crafty. Noticing the priorities....I'm just sayin'. So, I thought that I'd put together my thoughts on what makes a good kitchen, great. I love my kitchen and as I've said before, it is where I feel the most at home. I would love for it to look like this. Alas, it does not. It is open like this but does not have an island, or granite countertops, or white-washed cabinet, or.... Okay...I'll stop now.
What I DO have is a fantastic pantry! It is large, walk-in and about 4 shelves tall. It has plenty of room for our kitchen appliances, as well as food items, liquor, some dishes and staples. And I love it. It has a tendency of getting messy as lots can fit in there but right now, it's not bad. I'm working on getting matching storage containers. Right now, we are a mismatch of plastic buckets for our bulk flours, rices and sugars. Anyhoo, what is so very important in my pantry, and any pantry for that matter is a basic list of items. These items will take you from "what's for dinner" to DINNER in no time. I keep staples on hand for just about any sauce for any kind of dish. It takes a long time to build a good pantry. It is too cost-prohibitive to do it overnight or in one trip. But put a few of these necessities on every trip to the grocer and pretty soon, you'll have a perfectly-stocked pantry as well!
-Coarse Sea or Kosher Salt -Fine Kosher Salt (a salt grinder can be used to grind the coarse salt if needed) -Whole Black Peppercorns & Pepper Grinder
-Ground Cayenne -Red Pepper Flakes -Ground Cumin -Cinnamon (ground or sticks)
-Bay Leaves -Chili Powder -Curry Powder -Whole Nutmeg -Dried Oregano
Legumes & Grains:
-Rice (White & Brown) -Quinoa or Bulgur(I don't always have these on hand but they are great for salads) -Rolled and Steel-Cut Oats -Dried or Canned Beans (kidney, black, chick peas; dried beans are cheaper and preservative free. Using dried beans instead of canned allow you to use the exact amount you want without letting the rest of the can go to waste. If you don’t have time to soak your beans overnight, you can always boil them for 4 minutes and then let them sit in the hot water for an hour before draining) -Dried Lentils -Nuts like Almonds, Pecans, or Walnuts
Oils & Condiments
-Extra Virgin Olive Oil -Vegetable Oil -Balsamic Vinegar -White Vinegar (esp. important for cleaning!) -Dijon Mustard -Soy Sauce -Mayonnaise (easy to make your own too!) -Almond or Peanut Butter -Honey
-Boxed Chicken or Vegetable Stock (also VERY easy to make on your own--that's another WFMW!) -Canned Tuna in Water -Canned Tomato Paste (or tube of tomato paste)
-Canned Whole Tomatoes -Canned Tomato Puree
-Plain Bread Crumbs (can make from toasted bread) -Pastas (mostly whole wheat for us) -Flours (white and wheat) -Baking Soda (For baking & cleaning) -White Sugar -Brown Sugar -Coffee -Tea (no good Southern kitchen would be without!) -A bar of dark chocolate, sweet and unsweetened for baking -Jello -Cornmeal -Agave Nectar (natural sweetener, great for coffee) -Syrup
Go ahead and head on over to Kristin at We Are That Family. I'm sure there are some terrific other foodie tips to go with your newly stocked pantry!! Enjoy!!
Monday, May 11, 2009
Allrighty now friends....this one ROCKS! I made this tasty little number last night for dinner and all the men, SH & boys alike, raved about it! I found the basic recipe on my fav recipe site, Allrecipes.com. Tweaked a bit...cuz this cook always tweaks....and it absolutely rocked! Next time, I will add the water chestnuts and maybe some diced pineapple. OH! How Delightfully DELISH!
Sticky Spicy Chicken
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger root
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoons hot sauce
salt and pepper to taste
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into 1/2 inch strips
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup sliced onion
2 cups large chunk diced tri-colored peppers
1.Mix together brown sugar, honey, soy sauce, ginger, garlic and hot sauce in a small bowl. I then marinated the chicken in the sauce.
2.Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
3.Saute onions until softened slightly. Add chicken strips and brown on both sides, about 1 minute per side.
4.Pour the sauce over the chicken. Add peppers. Simmer uncovered until the sauce thickens, 8 to 10 minutes. (I made double the amount of sauce because we wanted ours very saucy).
5. Serve over rice.
And it is pretty too!!!
Head on over to my friends at Blessed with Grace for more wonderful food finds this Tuesday!!
I'm not a terrific decorator.....yet. I'm pretty hesitant when it comes to color. This amazing girl serves as my inspiration much of the time these days. And of course....Chrissie is amazing as well. I'd like to grow up and be just like them! Have a wonderful Monday my friends!!