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Archive for June, 2008

You know just how sweet and wonderful your husband is when he:

  • prepares an aromatic bubble bath in a claw foot tub for you
  • makes a healthy snack (sandwich and fruit) and arranges it beautifully on a plate for you
  • sets up a side table next (towel hamper) next to the bath for your plate of food, complete with a cloth napkin
  • asks if he can get you anything to drink…milk, herbal tea…

Wow!  How sweet and caring is my husband!!

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After traveling, working, then traveling again, my house is a disaster.  Really.  It’s messier than it’s been in a long, long time.  Yes, I have plans to bring out the Sink Reflections book (it’s the hot pink one in the recommended section on the right hand column of learningtobefrugal.wordpress.com), but let me just say that my menu is as unorganized as my home.  I can tell you spaghetti, but I don’t know what else I plan to cook.

Menu Plan Monday for the week (Ha Ha!) of June 23:

  • Spaghetti with turkey sausage and veggies found in the pantry and freezer

Yup, that’s all I have right now!  Yes, I have plenty of food in my kitchen.  It’s just a matter of deciding what to do with it all!  I anticipate that my menu will grow slowly over the week, and that when I have my head back on correctly, I’ll be able to plan better for next week!

I must say that I would like to make more of an effort to eat healthier foods.  Lately, I’ve been seriously letting my eating habits and exercise go, so I’m definitely wanting to pick things up a bit this week (and thereafter).  Here’s to good organization, which leads to better menu planning!

For more menu ideas, see orgjunkie.com.

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Have you ever found a really good deal on chicken?  You know, one of those deals that’s so good that it’s only on sale for one day?

On May 5 (Cinco de Mayo, yes, I know that’s over a month ago–I’m just now going through my photos), I noticed in the Randall’s ad that frozen boneless, skinless, chicken breasts were on sale one day only (I must say that the deal was extra fun to find in the ad, because the ad came out that day!).  Normally, the 4 pound bags of chicken sold for $12 each.  On May 5, they were on sale for $4 each.  That was $1 a pound!

I know that many people have found better deals for chicken, and that several others find that buying an entire chicken and cutting it up is the more frugal way to go, but I am a working woman!  I don’t have time to cut up a chicken!  When I get home, I’m starving!  I like to be able to reach into my freezer, pull out a bag of chicken breasts, throw 2-4 of them into a pan coated with non-stick spray, sprinkle them with Garlic and Herb Seasoning (sodium-free), throw them in the oven at 350, and WALK AWAY!!  That’s right, with 2 minutes of prep, I can walk away and crash on the couch until such time as my meat thermometer (inserted into the chicken after about 20 minutes, at which time the chicken has thawed enough in the oven to do so) tells me that my diiner is ready!

Anyways, I was very excited to find such a good deal on bagged chicken breasts.  I purchased 3 bags for $12 total (which was normal cost of one bag), and proudly called some of my friends to inform them of the deal.

Here is a picture of the chicken bags, as well as how I most often prepare it.  Keep in mind that I usually do an extra piece or two so that I can make chicken noodle soup later in the week.

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After I go swimming, I often have a lot of wet items that need to be hung up to dry.  Before I purchased my swim cover-up, I would have to put my work clothes on over my swimsuit if I wanted to go into the grocery store on the way home.

Here’s a picture of my treadmill and exercise bike, which often double as places to hang up wet items to dry.  Can you spot the goggles?

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My Yarn Stash

Like many people (I’m sure), my yarn just isn’t in one spot of my house.  I’ve managed to group most of it on two shelves of a bookshelf, but I have additional yarn (mostly hot pink) and my knitting bags (more yarn, books, knitting needles, crochet hooks, etc.) under my desk.

I think that one of my organizing projects this summer should be to:

  1. put all of my knitting/crocheting yarn & supplies in the same location of my house
  2. organize the supplies, so that they are easy to find, as well as organized by type of item

I have several projects in progress (Who doesn’t?).  They’re too big to put in plastic bags, so I might look into inexpensive stacking baskets/boxes.  Hmm?

If you have ideas for how I can organize my yarn stash, books, needles, notions, etc., please post your comments.

Here is a picture of the two bookshelves that are housing yarn (yes, I moved books to make room…).  The light green project on the top shelf is a shawl (in progress).  I won’t need all of the yarn that you see (Each skein is 1 pound!).  The dark green on the top shelf is an afghan.  The light blue on the left of the top shelf is a hat (Fair Isle, which I will pair with the dark blue yarn that you see on the left of the bottom shelf).

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Summer Plantings

I went to the plant nursery yesterday, with the intention of purchasing a tomato plant.  They were out of vegetable plants (until the fall plantings come in), but they suggested that I might be able to grow cucumbers, squash, and peppers from seed.

I purchased 1 pkg each of yellow bell pepper and summer zucchini squash seed.  I planted 2 bell pepper seeds (spaced about a foot apart) and 3 zucchini squash seeds (in a small hill).

In about 10 days, one of the types of seeds I planted (I can’t remember which) might come up.  The other type of seed could be anywhere from 10 to 25 days to come up.  Of course, the true battle will be getting the peppers and zucchini to make it until harvest!

Yesterday’s weather was about 98-101+ degrees.  As I spent the last week in a lovely place with temps in the 60’s and 70’s, I was definitely sweating yesterday!

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We have started having Game Night on Monday nights.  We don’t sing songs or read scriptures, but at least we’re spending some quality time together at least once a week.  It usually spills over, because we end up playing games additional nights during the week.  When we have friends over for dinner, we also play board games (or Wii) after dinner.  One of our favorite games to play is Ticket to Ride.  There are different versions (mostly maps of European countries), but we currently own the United States version, as well as the 1910 expansion set (which is just larger playing cards with more destination cards).

The object of the game is to get the most points by claiming routes between cities.  To play, you may draw train cards (different colors, because routes between cities are different colors), put your trains between 2 cities to claim a route (if the route is 3 purple trains long, then you must play 3 purple train cards, but you get 4 points), or draw destination cards (one might say to go from Vancouver to Montreal for 20 additional points).

Everyone has the same number of trains (playing pieces), and everyone plays until someone runs out of trains.  Then, the game ends and everyone adds up points on their destination cards.  Thus, you don’t know who will win until the very end of the game, although you can get more points throughout the game by completing more destinations than everyone else and claiming longer routes between cities.

Here are some pictures of when my husband and I recently played Ticket to Ride.  I’m not sure who won, but we were both within one point of each other.

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Here’s how the conversation went between the Baker and the Observer in my kitchen today:

Observer:  What are you making for lunch today?

Baker (kneeding bread with awesome strength and endurance):  A sandwich.

Observer:  That’s a lot of work for a sandwich.

Did you find this conversation funny or did you just shake your head and side with the Baker?  Pleas tell me that you didn’t side with the Observer!

This afternoon, I set out to bake bread.  In the past, I’ve made bread, but we (2 people) never managed to finish it before it went bad.

 

I purchased 2 small loaf pans today.  I made a double batch of whole wheat bread dough (from the Dining on a Dime cookbook).

The bread machine couldn’t handle that much dough, so I finished kneeding it by hand.

 

I split the dough into four parts and made them into mini loaves.  Two of the loaves went into the freezer (for later in the week), one went into the fridge, and the other stayed on the counter to rise. I later baked it for 20 minutes at 375 degrees.

The bread came out beautifully and tasted great!  The loaf was small enough (after we ate half of it) to fit into a food storage container (You know, the kind that you can throw away if the contents inside get too scary!)!  Using reusable food storage containers will save us from using disposable ziplock bags.

 

 

After I got the bread taken care of, I made spaghetti.  Do you cook as much spaghetti as I do?  I cooked garlic, chopped onion, sliced mushrooms, zucchini, and turkey sausage with EVOO before adding marinara sauce and cooked whole wheat pasta.  My delicious dinner (lunch ended up being raw veggies and deli turkey – no bread, because it wasnt ready yet) consisted of pasta, salad with non-fat ranch dressing, and fresh, homemade bread with Smart Balance butter.  Yum!

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Personal Pizza Pics

I made personal-sized pizzas a few weeks ago.  They were so cute that I had to post a picture!  This is the way that mine will look when I make them (Hopefully!) this week.

I made whole wheat pizza dough in the bread machine while I was at work.  When I got home, I shaped the dough into four mini pizzas, baked them for 5 minutes, covered them with marinara sauce, cheese, sliced mushrooms and pepperoni (the one on the far left had onions for me).  Yum!

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I’ve been out of town on vacation and I’m starting my summer holiday from work.  It gives you an elated feeling that you’ll be able to cook whatever you want, but you’re also feeling off-kilter from being away from home.  I feel that I can only plan my menu for a few days.  After that, I’ll feel more organized (and hopefully my home will feel that way, too — Suitcases, etc. are everywhere in my living room!) and ready to plan more exciting meals.  Until then, I plan to keep things pretty simple and use a lot of my home storage items.

My goal this week is to visit our local farmers’ market (Wednesday evening).  I’ll buy some produce from the grocery store today, but I can’t wait until Wednesday!  I also plan to purchase and plant a tomato plant today.  I might also plan a few other veggies, if I feel that they will survive our high 90’s / low 100’s heat.

Menu Plan for the Week (or at least the first few days) of June 16:

Spaghetti with sliced turkey sausage and chopped veggies

I’ll use my store of whole wheat pasta and jarred marinara sauce, along with grocery-purchased turkey sausage.  I’ll also use a variety of veggies, either from what I have on hand at home or from the grocery store:  sliced mushrooms, zucchini, onions, carrots, garlic…  Basically, I cook the pasta in one pot, while I cook the turkey sausage and chopped veggies (with a little EVOO), covered, in another pot.  After the veggies are cooked and the turkey sausage is warmed up, I’ll add the marinara sauce (usually half of a  1 lb, 10 oz jar) and bring it to a simmer on medium heat.  When the pasta is done, I drain it and add it to the other pot.  Yum!  This is usually enough to feed us for a few meals.

Foil Packet tilapia with rice and veggies

I’ll cook instant brown rice (about 10 minutes to prepare – 5 min. cook and 5 min. off the heat) while I thaw individually frozen tilapia fillets for 30 minutes in cool water in the sink.  I’ll put them on aluminum foil, spray the fish with cooking spray and season it with lemon-herb seasoning (Mrs. Dash), low-sodium salt, and veggies (onions, bell peppers, carrots…?).  After wrapping them up, I’ll put them in the oven for 12-14 minutes at 450 degrees.  The rice will continue to soften as the fish and veggies steam.

Pepperoni and mushroom pizza –

I’ll make whole wheat bread dough in my bread machine, separate and form the dough into 4 mini pizzas, and top them with marinara sauce and sliced mushrooms (leftover from making spaghetti), as well as pepperoni (and onions on my pizza).

For more menu ideas, see orgjunkie.com.

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More on Brownies…

Recently, I’ve posted about making brownies with beans, as well as making regular brownies with chocolate chips (see the recipe at the bottom of the second paragraph).

I also made a double batch of brownies about 2 weeks ago, which I used as gifts for co-workers (end of the school year).  After the brownies cooled, I sliced them and put them into clear celophane gift baggies (I bought them at the dollar store.).  Before I closed them with the included twist ties, I attached small thank you notes to the twist ties.  I made them by typing and printing short thank you messages, cutting them out, gluing them onto colored construction paper, cutting those out with decorative scissors, and then punching a hole in the corner with a hole puncher.  They were so cute!  They were also frugal!

Anyways, I’ve been trying different ways of preparing the brownie pans so that the brownies don’t stick.  Using non-stick spray alone doesn’t work – the brownies stick to the pan.  I tried coating the pan with whole wheat flour (darker than white flour) after spraying the pan, but the brownies seemed a bit chewier/grittier.  It uses a bit more of your cocoa, but I’ve found that the best way (so far…) of keeping the brownies from sticking to the pan, while still not having white undersides (from white flour), is to spray the pan and then coat it with cocoa.  It also gives the brownies a bit of an extra chocolate “kick,” which I love.  The chocolatier, the better!

Here is a picture of a batch of brownies that I’ve made.  It’s not the most elegant picture, but they sure were tasty!

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I haven’t been sewing much lately (I’m currently knitting a shawl with plans for a knitted baby blanket), but I have plans to pick up sewing again now that I’m off work for the summer.  I’ve been looking into getting a serger (and taking a class on how to use it).  I feel that a serger would save me time when sewing clothes (I wouldn’t need to sew a seam twice and then trim it close to the seam line like I do with my sewing machine).  It would also give my seams a more professional appearance (they wouldn’t fray anymore).

Thus, I plan to start checking out sergers at JoAnn’s and sewing shops, as well as keeping an eye out for serger classes.  It would be nice to take a class that teaches you sewing techniques, not just how to set up your serger.  I would like to purchase an inexpensive serger, although I know that I might have to pay a decent amount to get a serger with features that will meet my sewing needs.

I’ve been going through my pictures and I would like to include some tops that I’ve made in the past few months.  I wear all of these quite frequently, so they’ve been well-worth the time that I put into them.

 

For more crafty ideas, see Sew Crafty Friday.

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