Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Holidays are over.  YIppee!!!!  Still have some decorations to pack up and some toys to find places for but all in all it was all good. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Gonna keep me out of the pool halls...

This week is going to be crazy!  As you can see for yourself-
Sunday (today)- make a sleigh load of cookie dough, finish decorating the house, wrap a few presents, make a menu for the week and for a party and a family dinner
Monday- wrap ALL the presents
Tuesday- video Gryffin's Christmas play which is the last day of school for the year
Wednesday- make some crafty goodness with Gryffin and start the holiday deep clean of the house
Thursday- finish up the crafts and cleaning
Friday (thank goodness Mike is off work)- shop and cook for the party tonight
Saturday- cook for the family Christmas dinner, set out cookies and carrots for Santa and his minions
Sunday (Christmas)- head over the river and through the woods to the mother-in-laws for more Christmas crazy
And in all of this madness I will be very thankful because I have all these wonderful, fun things to do for and with my family and friends.  So many of those I know are struggling with loss and hardship right now, I keep them close in my heart and prayers.  Merry Christmas to all and to all a good life.


I lost 10 lbs!  More importantly- I've kept it off thus far and with Thanksgiving in the mix I'm pretty proud of that.  This diet plan made me look at cooking (and eating) in a completely different way.  I couldn't use ANY fat or oils, not even non-stick spray, no fillers like rice, pasta or potatoes and no sugar.  I learned a lot:
1. Unless it is fried, it doesn't need oil.  Using a non-stick or well seasoned cast iron pan can eliminate the need for oils.
2. Cauliflower can be a lifesaver.  When chopped fine, it makes a great substitute for rice. 
3. Stevia tastes pretty good in coffee.  In fact, I now prefer it to sugar. 
4. Hunger is a wolf in sheep's clothing.  The first sign of dehydration is... hunger!  When a cup of hot tea didn't work a piece of fruit did.

Monday, November 07, 2011

A new beginning...

Friday I began a doctor supervised diet plan.  Now before you all freak out and start screaming about how I don't need to lose weight just listen.  I may be within the 'normal' limits for height to weight, but I'm above 'normal' in fat percentage.  I've always said that I'm a fat skinny girl and truth be told, well over 30% of my body weight is fat. 
Since beginning karate classes, the fact that I'm out of shape and lack any muscle tone is holding me back.  If I can lower my body fat and reset my metabolism it will jump start my body into building and toning muscle.  
This diet consists of drops taken three times a day (don't worry they aren't HGC) that tell my body I have too much fat stored and to burn it, along with a reduced fat and calorie food plan it has already proven itself. 
The first two days on the drops were the 'gluttony' days.  I could eat anything and everything I wanted.  These days made me hate food.  I felt so bad, lethargic and sick.  Yesterday was the first calorie restricted day and I have to say it wasn't that bad.  I got a glycemic shake made with almond milk for breakfast along with coffee, two pieces of fruit and 6 nut thin crackers for snacks, a total of four cups of veggies and two 4 ounce servings of lean meat for lunch and dinner.  It felt like I was always eating.  For me, that is great because the word diet immediately conjures withdrawal symptoms and cravings. 
I've already lost a pound and look forward to losing the next 9 to 14.  My goal is to be back to my per-pregnancy size and weight.  Considering Gryffin is now 6 and a half years old I think this goal is long overdue.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Cntrl/Alt/Del- time to reset

There has been a lot of chaos around here lately, all based upon us finding our 'Dream Home'.  A dream home that after some inspections turned into a possible nightmare.  Hence, we are staying put in our little econo-lodge, but we are upgrading to at least 3 star digs.  I'll only give it three because I AM the maid, chef and room service.
So many times people do all the little things they have been wanting to do for years just so they can put their home on the market and someone else can enjoy it.  We are taking this approach, but are not going to be selling.  Here is a little sample of the things I want done:
Fix the guest bath shower and replace the vanity
Lay new flooring in the master bedroom and closet, possibly put in a new window and paint
Replace the master vanity, mirror and light, paint and put in baseboards
Hopefully put in some solar tubes to add more natural light throughout the house
Hopefully squeeze in the funds for a new dishwasher
Move the trash can corral to a better spot in the back yard and relocate some planter boxes for the veggies next year

Monday, October 10, 2011

Goal... but I don't score.

This week I am giving myself two goals.  First off, starting this moment I will not spend a dime until Friday (payday), not a penny on gas, groceries or anything else.  I'm going to further challenge myself for the rest of the month to only spend money one day a week.  Outside of regular bills, I'm only going to spend money on groceries and gas.  I will fill the gas tank on paydays only and the fridge every Friday with what we need for the following week.
If I go back to carefully planning out our meals to include breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks and take inventory of what I already have on hand, I know I can do this.  I already know that I have all the food we need for this week plus.  I know that I have a big turkey and some seafood in the freezer, along with some Kiel Basa and frozen veggies.  I have beans and baking supplies galore. 
Secondly, I'm going to make the house spotless and keep it that way.  I stay home all day, less surfing, more doing.  Of course I do need to fit time in for sewing a couple of Halloween costumes, but I'm pretty sure once I get moving, momentum will keep me going. 
You ask why I would make these silly goals?  Because they have been needed for a long time and now they REALLY need to be done. 

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Back to earth...

I cannot in any way, shape or form complain about my life.  I have a nice home, a healthy, happy family and reliable cars, food in the pantry, a few bucks in the wallet and a closet full of clothes and shoes.  When any of us want something we usually have the funds to make it happen right away or within a couple of weeks by saving up for it.
We live pretty frugally around here.  Our biggest expense is our family karate lessons which by the way, are worth every penny because of the confidence, exercise and self discipline they instill in all of us.  We don't buy name brand clothing, no magazine subscriptions, no premium cable.  Pretty much, the only place I can cut spending is on gas for my car and food.  I'm OK on gas.  Between taking my son to school, the grocery store and the occasional appointment, I really have nowhere to be.  The food on the other hand...  I've really gotten bad about not cooking and taking the family out to eat once (or more) times a week.  Now this wouldn't be too bad if we ate at Taco Bell, but we don't.  The last thing I want when I'm paying money is to have sub-par food and to buss my own table.  This is the only thing I can control- so I will.
I used to be really adamant about planning every meal and following through with it.  Lately though I've had the frame of mind that there was money left and since we weren't working toward saving for anything specific why not be pampered. 
This weekend I saw something to work toward.  Something big, something that I have dreamed about, something that my husband has dreamed out, something that my son fell in love with.  It is a really big something and just the thought of it not being possible gets my stomach in knots and my brain churning about what I can do to help make it possible.  Beyond living like church mice and me getting a paying job it won't be possible.  I'm more than willing to do both- and more if I can think of it.
So here is a little request to you, from me.  Pray for me.  Pray that I can make what my family so desperately wants and loves possible for us.  Pray that I can come up with a way to make an income that will allow me to still be able to take care of my son, husband and home.  Pray that I can do this. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Burn, baby burn!

I'm sure that at some point in your life you have taken an old picture or love letter, hell- even hate mail, and burned it.  I have many times and it was always very cathartic.
Over the past few days I have been cleaning and organizing up a storm around the house.  In doing this, I came across some old cards related to a past endeavor that taught me a lot about business, myself, what friendship really is and who really is one to me.  This endeavor once again became a topic of conversation later that day. 
Honestly, this is a period of my life that I want to forget.  Those involved in this time frame did nothing but unjustified evil and have been purged from my life.  So this morning when I again came across that big stack of emotional baggage I decided that a good old fashioned barn burning was needed. 
I took all those old reminders and let the fire do its thing.  I sat there on the back porch watching the flames and sent all the negative emotions associated with them up in smoke.  I thought about how I now know that those I chose to keep in my life are trustworthy, kind and loving, how I now know that I am much stronger and smarter, and that I will no longer waste my energy on these useless negatives. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

The $18 Challenge

Recent life shake ups left me with the opportunity to reevaluate many aspects of my life.  At the beginning of this month I reworked our family budget.  Like communism, it looked great on paper.  In reality, it needs a lot of tweaking.  When adjusting a budget the most important thing is keeping ALL the receipts.  This will tell you where the money is really going.  When I went through our receipts I realized that our allotted funds for groceries and home upkeep needs to be changed.
I have $18 for this weeks worth of groceries for a family of three.  Two of which can finish a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread in a little over a day.  Time to get creative!  First step figuring out what I have to determine what I need.  I have in the freezer: Shepherd's Pie and stuffed pepper fillings and a batch of Roasted Red Pepper Soup already made; along with assorted seafood, meats, cheeses and veggies.  As far as staples: pastas, spaghetti sauce, dried beans, rice, canned tomatoes, tuna and BBQ sauce.  Fresh stuff, I've got; cauliflower, lettuce, summer squash, carrots, potatoes, onions, cottage cheese and tortillas.  Along with cereal and eggs for breakfast, apples, peanut butter, pretzels and popcorn for snacks, I can do this!
Yesterday I made tacos and used ground beef, lettuce, onion, cheese, tomato and some of the tortillas.
Monday (today) we will have honey mustard baked chicken with carrots and roast cauliflower.
Tuesday I will use the pepper filling to stuff the summer squash and serve with garlic bread.  Might need to make a loaf of bread for this.
Wednesday BBQ pork chops with frozen lima beans, corn and roasted potatoes sounds good.
Thursday I'm thinking about tuna casserole with peas.
Luckily, Friday is pay day, or I could really challenge myself and make lasagna, red beans and rice with cornbread or blackened Tilapia with black beans and corn. 
All I have to buy now is a couple gallons of milk!  This is totally doable and I might even be able to spring for a six pack of beer for my honey.
Having a fully stocked pantry and freezer has once again saved my budget!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Soo much going on...

This week officially starts the crazy daze of summer.  This week is Mike and mine's ten year wedding anniversary.  Then there is Father's Day, another karate belt graduation for the boys, Gryffin's slumber party of madness, then the 4th of July directly followed by Mike's birthday and possible shoulder surgery, our yard sale and then vacation.  I think I'm going to need a summer vacation when all of this is over!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Living Debt Free... and how to get there.

The American Dream used to be home ownership and a secure income, now its just acquiring stuff.  Home ownership has dropped significantly and a secure income is a myth thanks to the recession.  So how does a household get ahead?  Stop using credit cards.
Credit cards are liars.  They give you the feeling that you can afford things that you really can't.  They dig your financial grave so deep that it can take many years to climb out of.  They make you think that item on clearance for $10 is a good deal, but $10 at an interest rate of, let's say, 18% adds up to $11.80 in the first month.  Doesn't sound bad?  Well, with credit cards its first in first out so if you have a running balance that prevents this $10 clearance item from being paid off in six months then it really costs you... $27.00.  That is over two and a half times more than the price of that 'good deal' clearance item.  Not so much of a deal now, huh?  Compound interest is always a bite in the butt.
Many people think that paying off the cards with the biggest debt first is the way to go.  I say it is just the opposite.  Pay off those little balances first, then take the payments you were making on them and add that amount to the highest interest rate card and keep doing this until they are all paid off.  Also, take advantage of those no interest balance transfers offers, but take into account the transfer fees and what monthly payment it will take to pay off the whole balance on the card before the balance transfer rate ends, not just the transfer amount because if you don't pay it all off, the balance transfer will be charged interest from the FIRST day it started- that is a lot of compound interest.
Now I'm not saying NEVER use a credit card.  I use a credit card every single month for automatic bill payments.  This way I keep my credit score up and rack up those cash back bonuses that I use as a Christmas Club account.  However, the amounts of these bills are included in my monthly budget and I have automatic bill payments from the bank account set up to pay the credit card off every two weeks.  This way I'm actually earning money by paying my regular monthly bills!  Yay free money!
The secret of getting credit cards paid off is making more than the minimum payments.  Usually minimum payments don't even cover the monthly interest charge.  This means that when you make the minimum payment only, the balance is eternal.  It will NEVER be paid off.  So put the cards away until they are totally paid off.  My suggestion, cut those suckers to pieces.  Its a great feeling and they cannot be used unless you order- and wait- for a new one to arrive.  This gives a lot of time to think about if a replacement is really needed.
Ok, the cards are gone.  Now what?  Budget, budget, budget.  This is something that I think should be a required course in high school..  Most people either don't know how to make a budget or don't know how to stick to one.  It's not rocket science, but it does take a lot of effort, at first.  After the budget is all figured and you've proved it is livable then it only needs to be reviewed every 6 months.  Sitting down and taking a hard look at your financial state is hard, heart breaking and head smacking, but in the end- totally worth it. 
When making a budget here are the things you need to take into consideration:
Housing costs- rent/mortgage payment, gas, electric, water, sewer, trash, cable, internet, phone, insurance, property taxes, upkeep and improvements.
Transportation costs- Monthly payments, insurance, gas, upkeep.
Food- groceries and eating out which if you have a busy life is inevitable.
Medical- health insurance, co-pays, medicine (prescription and OTC), vitamins.
Savings- emergency, vacation, college for child(ren), retirement, rainy day.
Clothing and Gifts- birthday/Christmas/Hanukkah, Easter, back-to-school, etc.
Entertainment- No matter how tight the money, this cannot be ignored.  Even if it is just $20 a month.
Personal- bank fees, gym memberships, hygiene (soap, shampoo, toothpaste, razors, etc), once in a while treat like gourmet coffee or manicures.
Debt repayment- Last but not least, credit cards, student loans, personal loans, etc.
I suggest assembling all bills and check registers from the last 6 months when making a budget.  This will give you an idea of what you actually spend on a monthly basis.  Take all the above things into account when you squeeze the blood from the turnip that is the paycheck(s).  When making a successful budget, sacrifice and creativity come in handy.  Who wouldn't be willing to give up a few luxuries now in order to have a much more luxurious life later?  If you answer ME then if you're going to delusional- at least you are making them delusions of grandeur!  To all those with common sense, here are a few money stretching tips:
  1. Make a weekly menu.  Include breakfast, lunch, snacks, beverages and dinner.  Take this menu and look through what you already have to determine what needs to be bought.  Shop only once for the week and don't shop hungry.  I don't know about you but when I step into a grocery store with hunger pangs I buy a lot more than what is on the list.  
  2. Reconsider buying the things that can be borrowed.  For magazines and books, use the local library.  For that power tool you need, check with a friend or neighbor.  Trade babysitting with a friend, watch their kids once a month and they watch yours once a month.  
  3. Plan your trips.  Run all errands on one day to save gas and time.  Hit the farthest point first and work your way home.  Create not just a grocery list, but a complete shopping list of what is needed.
  4. Consider a tailor.  Huh?  If those jeans you bought last year are now too big, a small investment of about $15 and a trip to a tailor can get you a like new pair.  I don't know any jeans that cost less than $20 that hold up to regular wear.  Kid's pants now high waters?  A tailor or even you can turn them into shorts for cheaper than buying a pair.  Gain a few pounds?  Most tailors can let out waist lines on a garment an inch or more, depending on its cut. 
  5. Determine a want over a need.  Take for instance, I want a new laptop but I don't need it or I want T-bone steaks for dinner but a London Broil steak costs less.  If its a want, determine how long it will take to save the money for it before buying.  If its a need, is there a less expensive version?  Do you really need the premium cable channels when you could subscribe to an online movie provider like Netflix?  You need a cell phone, but are you using all the minutes and features it provides?  If not, consider a smaller plan.
  6. New vs used.  I'm not ashamed of the fact that I shop at second hand stores.  One near me gets over stocks from Target.  I can pick up items that still have the original price tag on them that were last years must-haves for just a couple bucks!  I get some of my son clothes second hand because he grows so fast I will never get my money out of $20 pants or $30 shoes.  Although, I would never buy swim wear or undergarments there.  Some things just cannot be compromised on.
  7. DIY- don't pay someone else when you can do it yourself.  Example, I've started making my own clothes.  Our bathrooms need to be remodeled and we plan on doing it ourselves.  If you don't know how to do something like plumbing or electrical work, only hire out those parts.  
  8. Yard sale it!  Every year we have one to purchase a big ticket item like a new piece of furniture or a home improvement.  This year we are doing it to get spending money for our vacation.  If you have debt, use the proceeds to pay it down.  Hmm, clearing out the house clutter can clear out the financial clutter which will also clear out the stress.  Win/win!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Cleaning continuation:

My Facebook page was getting out of hand.  I had so many people on there that I no longer communicated with, mainly because they were friends of friends that I'm no longer in touch with.  I  paired down my friends list and I hope that doesn't offend anyone.  Then again, I had so little contact with these people I doubt they will even notice.  But in the off chance they do and check in here... I hope you understand.

I was recently 'unfriended' by a couple people.  I didn't get offended.  Actually, I was relieved.  They chose sides in a conflict and I'm fine with that.  In certain situations sides have to taken, not in this particular one, but oh well..  I just hope they don't come to regret their decision.  If they do, I have no hard feelings.  They were only given partial information for which to base their decision.  You can't fault anyone for ignorance, just stupidity. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Thanks Easter Bunny, bawk-bawk

Last night Gryffin asked me how the Easter Bunny got in our house to hide the eggs.  I told him the same way Santa did, so my ingenious six year old frantically started running around the house, grabbing this and grabbing that.  When he was done our front room was filled with a plethora of child-like wonder.  He had drawn the Easter Bunny a picture, set a small table in front of the fireplace with knife, fork, paper towel and three unpeeled carrots.  He explained that the Easter Bunny doesn't like them peeled.  And a brown paper bag decorated with a big bunny, filled with treats he received in class.  Gryffin didn't want the Easter Bunny to not get anything in return for all his hard work. 
Oh to have a child's magical way of thinking again!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I've never not been an emotional person.  It used to be that I could flip a switch and turn them off temporarily, sadly not anymore.  I must be getting older, things are starting to break.  However, I am trying to get a better hold on them.  It takes a lot for me to completely lose my temper but when that, fast and far away.  I will curse like a sailor and say things that will cut like a knife.  Neither of them I really mean.  Ok, the cussing maybe.  I've had to apologize too much for letting my temper get the best of me lately and HATE to tuck tail and do that.  Sometimes it isn't just the necessary thing to do, but the right thing. 
Ooh, that brings me to the 'Doing The Right Thing' part of this post.  Haven't been good at that lately either.  You all know that I abhor the saying, "It is what it is".  But in certain cases it is what it is because I can't make it the way it should be.  Doing the right thing isn't always hard or costly, its just not what we want to do or what our hearts tell us to do.  Well, I'm here to say, screw doing the right thing because I'm almost always going to follow my heart.  I just wish sometimes it wouldn't be so wishy-washy.  Geez, you'd think I was a female with the way I change my mind sometimes.  That was a joke, laugh dammit.  Anyway, I've gone back and forth with a certain issue I'm currently dealing with, it has been an emotional tilt-a-whirl going round and round in circles until I puke.  So I set up a meeting between my head and my heart and let them duke it out.  Two enter, only one will leave.  The one that has come out really surprised me.  It is not what my heart said at first.  It was what my mind said, only in a much softer tone.  Either way, I would've been content but the road I chose will be like ripping a band-aid off, it will hurt but it's really the best way. 
Now that I have gotten off the carnival ride, I am at peace.  No more tears, no more emotional tennis, no more.  Just no more- period.  I might be wishy-washy but once I have gotten my head and heart to quit fighting like children, my decision  cannot and will not be changed.  Yes, yes, I'm stubborn as hell.  Unfortunately in the genetic pool there wasn't an alternative. Now whether or not others agree with my decision is yet to be known, but honestly I don't care because they don't matter.  How and what I think about myself is more important than what anyone else thinks. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

'You're so vain. I bet you think this song is about you. Don't you?'

It is Spring.  Time to weed the garden and clean house.  Literally and figuratively.

The past 10 to 11 months have been a roller coaster.  The very highest of highs and lowest of lows have brought me to me emotional knees.  I'm exhausted and broken and ready to take my place back behind the walls I protected myself with for decades.  After many a betrayal, drama, loss and heart break, I have come to realize that the fewer complications and relationships in my life, the better it is. 

I have also learned a lot about myself.  I am stronger than I thought.  I am more trusting than I should be.  I can take my anger and redirect it in a positive way.  I can appreciate others feelings but ultimately they don't mean jack shit.  My time and devotion are worth more than most realize.  My toes are not a doormat to be stepped on.  My feelings, opinions and hard work are not to be brushed off.  I have learned to listen to someone's tone because it shows the lies in their words.  Finally, I have learned that unless criticism is given in a positive manner then its just a plain old insult.

There are only a couple things in my life that have ever truly made me happy: my family and my home.  It seems that I have wasted a lot of time lately on things that have detracted from what makes me happy because I wanted to make others happy.  The only 'others' I need to make happy are my husband and son.  When they are happy so am I and everyone else can take a flying leap.  My new mantra for dealing with anyone outside of my family and immediate loved ones- Keep Calm and Fuck Off.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Ow, that hurt but you should see the other guy.

Last night I attended a women's self defense seminar at my families dojo (aka- karate school).  It was two hours of butt kicking, man flipping fun.  Mike was kind enough to volunteer to be a 'bad guy' to room full of women.  It was nice to see him get beat on by girls, especially since I got to beat on him for a bit too.
As some of you know, I take private self defense lessons a couple times a month and really love them.  While Mike and Gryffin are dedicated to karate and earning belts, I'm more interested in being able to win a bar fight, just kidding.  But it does give me confidence and a great workout.
Last night I learned so much!  I just have to pass some of it on.
Things that make you an easy target:
  • Slouching, it gives the impression that you are weak 
  • Looking at the ground when you walk, you can't be aware of your surroundings when your looking in only one direction
  • Talking on a cell phone.  We all know that talking on the phone and driving is bad because it distracts you, but walking and talking is just as bad for the same reason.
  • Do not go to your car if there is a large vehicle with no or dark tinted windows next to yours.  It could be your coffin on wheels.
  • Never approach your car if someone is around it. 

Of course, I also learned more fun things like getting out of a bear-hug style grab, always use your palm to hit because if your going to break knuckles- make it your attackers, a kick in the coconuts can even take down a fifth degree black belt- I got some experience in this one, and distract them with a stomp on their foot so you can punch them in the neck.  Now I know you all want to learn these awesome party tricks, huh?

If you do, leave a comment and I will send you info on taking the 8 week course with me next month!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Dim sum good vittles

Ok, this one is really good and really easy.  We had it tonight for dinner and I could have eaten a lot more than I did.

Bourbon Chicken  (don't ask me why because unfortunately there isn't any bourbon it)

  • 2 lbs boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces 
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 1 large broccoli crown, cut into bite-size pieces, stems removed 
  • 1 -2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup apple juice
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar, or red wine or rice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1 T corn starch
  • 1/4 cup cold water

In oil, cook chicken until lightly browned and remove. Add remaining ingredients except for broccoli and carrots, heat over medium heat until well mixed and dissolved. Add chicken, broccoli and carrots and bring to a hard boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Dissolve corn starch in cold water and add, cook until desired consistency.  Serve over rice.



Tuesday, March 08, 2011

I remember when a gallon of gas cost less than a car payment.

With gas at $3.49 a gallon, my $10 didn't go very far.  Its a good thing I no longer work outside the home, in fact this is one of the reasons why.  Yes, I drive a big gas guzzling SUV and no, I won't get something more fuel efficient.  Wanna know why?  Because my Jeep is reliable, paid for and well over a decade old.  It is still in excellent shape and doesn't even have 80,000 miles on it, yet the trade in value wouldn't even pay for the tax and license on a new car.  Besides, even if I spend $200 a month on gas I wouldn't be able to buy a car 1/2 as nice as the one I've got for that much in car payments. 
I don't plan on spending $200 a month on gas though.  At least, not anymore.  We are lucky that Gryffin's school is only a mile away and I take one day to do all the errands.  Instead of going to all the different grocery stores to get the best deal on individual items I hit the one with the best cumulative deals.  It is not worth saving 50 cents on that jar of tomato sauce if you have to drive across town to get it. 
I've stopped running to Target when I need just one or two things.  Those things can wait until errand day and most of the time they aren't even missed.  This helps in another way too since I don't know of a single person who can go to Target and not drop at least $50. 
It is a really good thing that I love my home as much as I do because I'm going to be spending a lot of time here.  There are plenty of things to keep me busy though, I've a vegetable garden to plant, a basement and garage that are for some reason always in need of cleaning, a guest room that I have to find a way to make into a guest/exercise/sewing/craft room and using said sewing/craft part to make new product for Peridot.  Heck, I may even reopen my Etsy shop and sell the handmade goodness there again. 

Monday, March 07, 2011

From a loaf to a ball...

My meatloaf and meat ball recipe is exactly the same.  Why?  Because I'm lazy.  Because I make them in very large batches using similar ingredients.  Here is my recipe for both:

Meatloaf/Meatball Recipe
1 lb ground pork
3 lb lean ground beef
1 cup frozen tri-color pepper strips, chopped and thawed.  (Buying them this way is much cheaper than buying fresh peppers)
1 large onion, diced
1 cup quick oats
1 large egg
1 - 2 Tablespoons steak seasoning (I use McCormack's Montreal Steak)
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350.  In a VERY large bowl mix everything together.  If mixture is too wet add more oats.  If too dry, add another egg.  This should be able to hold its shape without falling apart or being too sticky.

Divide this into two.  Take one half and divide into two loaves.  Place a cookie rack in a large baking pan or use a broiler pan and place the two loaves onto this, be sure to spray whatever you use with non-stick spray.  Combine 2 Tablespoons mustard, 1/2 cup ketchup, 1/2 Tablespoon chili powder and a pinch of cayenne.  Pour this on top of the loaves during the last 15 minutes of cooking time.  Bake until internal temperature is 165, about and hour.
With the remaining mixture, form into 1/4 cup balls.  I use a 1/4 cup cookie scoop because I'm lazy.  Place the balls into a mini muffin pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.  Bake for 30 minutes.  I usually do this when we are eating one of the meatloaves that have just come out.  When its time to use just toss them in your favorite spaghetti sauce.
Allow the extra meatloaf and the meatballs to cool completely then freeze.  Just let them thaw overnight in the fridge and reheat.
In the time it takes to make one meatloaf, you can make 2 meatloaves and 2 dozen meatballs.  This is enough for us to get two meatloaf dinners, along with leftovers for lunches for two days and meatballs enough for 3 to 4 spaghetti and meatball dinners or up to 8 meatball sandwiches.
This technique also works well when making lasagna.  I never make just one at a time because I'm lazy.

Monday, Monday...

Overcast and cold= Monday where I need to make more coffee and try to get my arse out from under a dog and a blanket.  Oh, did I mention that there is no school today? 

But all of this is quite fine with me since my weekend was so nice.  Friday I took the train into St Louis because Mike took the afternoon off.  We stopped in to see the lovely Mia at Peridot, then we headed to All-Star Tattoos where I got a pretty little diamond injected into the side of my nose.  I really expected a little pain but just like with my other piercing there wasn't even any blood and plucking my eyebrows was more painful.  We then headed to Sake for lunch.  Can you say sushi?  Oh dear heaven- yum.  Then a little shopping for a Pickle. 

Gryffin has been begging for almost a year now for a bed he saw at a local furniture store.  It is a platform bed with stairs, a built in dresser and a hiding spot for his 'Werewolf Club' to meet.  Since Mike actually got a bonus this year, which was completely unexpected but much deserved, he decided to use it make his son happy.  Damn if he ain't a great Dad!  The bed will be delivered and assembled Wednesday while Gryffin is in school. 

Saturday Mike took us to see a movie and out to lunch and Sunday was a lazy day. 

My life is good, huh?

Heck, I even made out a menu for this week AND went to the grocery store.  Just in case you were curious or would rather have someone else decide what you should make this week, here it is:

Sunday - Chicken Tetrazzini with peas
Monday - Spaghetti with Meatballs and salad
Tuesday - Jambalaya and cornbread (after all, it is Fat Tuesday)
Wednesday - Chinese Bourbon Chicken with broccoli and rice
Thursday - Home made pizza and salad
Friday - Broiled Parmesan Tilapia with carrots and roast potatoes
Saturday - Leftovers

I will try to post the recipes this week sometime, but if you want them NOW just leave a comment and I will get them to you.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Thank you President's. Suck it, Mother Nature.

Not those in recent history, of course.  Thank you to the ones who died to give my family an extra day together.  As far as Mother Nature giving us pleasant weather to enjoy this day, well... she can take this rain and high mold count and put it where the sun don't shine even for her.  Yesterday was in the 70's, later this week the weather guesser's are saying there's a chance for snow.  Great.

Of course, being curled up on the couch under a blanket, dog and laptop with a terrific husband bringing me coffee and a cute kid making sure the Batman toys cover the carpet completely make me really not care too much anymore about the crappy weather.  Now that's a silver lining in a storm cloud if I ever saw one.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Back in my element...

I was able to spend time today coming up with a menu for the week, doing the monthly Sam's run, making a loaf of bread, trying a new recipe and making an awesome dinner for my family.  These are the little things that I really enjoy but lately haven't had the time and energy at the same time to do it.
Tonight's dinner was blackened Tilapia, roasted potatoes with chive and steamed carrots.  I cook a lot, but really don't make fish very often.  Mostly because my favorite way to have fish is fried, but when I found this recipe it looked so good.  It was too.  I changed several things from the original recipe like not using lemon juice or celery salt and didn't use as much oil or serve on white bread with the remaining oil poured over.  Ewww.  This is what I did:


  • 3 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crush this in your had to release the oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme, crush to release the oil
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 5 Tilapia fillets
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  • In a small bowl mix all of the spices together.
  • Coat both sides of the fish with the spice mixture, rubbing it in to the fish.
  • Let sit at room temp for no more than 30 minutes, but at least 15 so that the spices soak in.
  • In a heavy skillet, heat the oil until almost smoking and carefully add fish.
Cook on each side 2 - 3 minutes.  Be sure not to over cook, the fish is done when it flakes easily with a fork.

Next time, I'm going to serve it over some Cajun seasoned rice.  Hey, that sounds like an awesome meal for Mardi Gras!