Archive for February, 2009

Work has begun on another square foot garden box.  This one will be 4 x 4 feet, with 16 squares.  My current box is 30 in x 36 in, with 9 squares.  IMy husband and I have already built the new box and filled it with dirt.  We’re waiting a day or two to plant the veggies I bought, because a cold front went through last night, changing our 90 degree daytime temp to a very windy 30’s at night.  Let’s just say that we went to bed using the AC and woke up considering the heat.

I also purchased materials to make a cage to keep squirrels, cats, and birds out of my square foot garden.  We have an independent hardware store in town, which sells poultry fencing by the foot for $0.45 a foot!  I was able to purchase enough for a 2 ft tall cage.  My current cage is 1 ft tall.  Since I’ll be planting taller plants, I thought it best to have a taller cage, to keep my carrots (planted every two weeks) away from the critters/diggers/destroyers of little plants as long as possible.

I purchased marigolds, one each of green, yellow, and red bell peppers, a tomato plant, and a 9-pack of squash.  I also purchased seeds for carrots and cucumbers.  Using veggies that are already started will get me veggies much sooner.  Plus, I’m not very good at growing things from seeds.

I also purchased (and put in a pot) a citronella plant.  I plan to move it to wherever I’m working or sitting (if reading a book), to keep the mosquitoes away.

I’ve got my newly purchased, not-yet-planted plants inside right now, because it’s cold and extremely windy out.  Our trash and recycle cans have been rolled about a bit this morning.

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Menu Plan Monday

At HEB today, I found myself continuously putting back items as I worked to stick within my budget.  When I checked out, the price was a few dollars more than I had estimated.  After stepping aside with my receipt, I noticed that two items were marked higher than I thought they had been.  I walked back through the store (big store), confirmed my prices, took my receipt to a friendly manager, and was given $1.60 back.  It may not seem like much to some, put today, it added up for me.

Another funny thing happened at the grocery store.  I was set to get a pork tenderloin.  Before I could get it (last one), a lady got to it first.  Serves me right for looking at the pork roasts first!

Of course, I was happy that many of the items on my grocery list were on sale today!

Menu for the week of February 22:

  • Beef stew with potatoes, onions, and carrots
  • Salad
  • Rolls/biscuits
  • Creamy chicken and vegetables with corn, green beans, and carrots
  • Salad
  • Biscuits/noodles/rice
  • Dijon-crusted fish
  • brown rice
  • zucchini
  • salad

For more menu ideas, go to orgjunkie.com.

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Valentine’s Day, Part 2

This Valentine’s Day in my classroom, each child brought or decorated a container for their valentines. Using an idea I saw on nobiggie.net, I decided to decorate a bag myself. I have to say that the lovely lady on nobiggie.net is one of the most creatively-crafty people that I know, and she has detailed photos that show you how to make this craft. Warning: you will get covered in glue!!!



I layered pink and red construction paper on a brown lunch sack. Then, I folded a strip of paper like a fan, connected the edges, and flattened it. To keep it flat, I glued a heart on one side and a small square of paper on the other. I put a banner with my name on the heart, and then added strips of paper to make it look like an award (or whatever you want to call it).

On the door of my classroom, I made a banner with these decals that spelled out “Happy Valentine’s Day!”



You can also decorate birthday hats and make these decals for other holidays.  Nobiggie.net has more ideas for how to use these crafts. She also has a link to a video of Martha Stewart making some.

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Valentine’s Day, Part 1

This Valentine’s Day, my sweet husband got me a fantastic garden organizer. For the organizer, you purchase a 5 gallon bucket and put the organizer over it like a slip cover. It has pockets on the inside and outside of the bucket. It’s fantastic! My sweet husband picked out a bucket with a comfy foam handle. He also got me a lovely pair of garden gloves that keep my hands dry! He’s such a sweetie!


Now, when I go to various parts of my yard, I can carry everything that I need with me! Wondering why I have an electric screwdriver and drill bits in my garden bucket? Earlier this week, I made a chicken wire cage to keep critters out of my raised bed veggie garden.

Check back tomorrow to see a craft idea I used for Valentine’s Day in my classroom.

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Yesterday, I posted about how I made a chicken wire cage to keep critters from digging in my garden.  Today, I’ll share how I planted my early spring garden.

My raised bed for veggies is 36 x 30. First, I pulled out the remaining two lettuce plants, green onions, and spinach.  My neighbor showed me how to split lettuce A into 4, lettuce B into 2, the spinach into 2, and the green onions into 6 plants.  She also generously shared 10 onion plants with me.  We weren’t sure if they were white onions, green onions, etc., so we’ll have to wait and see.  I suspect that they are white onions.

I then dug around in the soil, added Miracle Grow soil (about 1 cubic foot), and mixed that around.  In the past, I’ve just mixed in compost, but I needed as much help as I could get.


After turning the soil, I divided the raised bed into 9 rectangles (12 x 10).  I stapled string to the frame.


Column on the left: 1 potato per rectangle (I cut a potato with sprouts into 3 pieces)

Top, middle column: onions and green onions

Bottom 2 rectangles of middle column:  strawberries

Top 2 rectangles of right column:  romaine lettuce

Bottom, right rectangle:  spinach and 2 kinds of lettuce


Here it is with the cage on.  I feel confident that this will help my plants stay safe from the critters in my neighborhood.  If they knock the cage off, I’ll velcro it to the raised bed or weigh it down with some bricks.

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Last fall, squirrels, birds, and cats played daily in my garden.  They dug holes, dug up plants, and did who knows what else in there.  Every day, I’d come outside to a new thing to fix in my garden.  This spring, I decided to wage my own war.  Using The Square Foot Gardening book, I built a cage to cover my raised bed garden.

I bought:

  • 1 x 2 pine boards
  • 48″ x 10 ft chicken wire
  • plastic ties

I also used:

  • electric drill/screwdriver
  • measuring tape
  • screws
  • pencil
  • gloves
  • wire cutters
  • saw
  • sawhorses
  • a safer person would use eye protection…


In the picture above, you can see what’s left of my winter/fall garden.  You can also see my Square Foot Gardening book, the 1 x 2 pine boards, and the chicken wire.


I measured and cut the pine boards to the length of my raised bed (36 x 30).


I screwed the boards together to make a rectangle and laid it out on the chicken wire (hint:  hold down wire with bricks).  I used a double layer of chicken wire so that I could fold the edges over all 4 sides (layer the wire like a plus sign +).


After pulling up the edges of the wire, you remove the wooden rectangle, and then use plastic ties to secure the two layers of chicken wire together.


You also turn the wire cage over and secure it to the wooden rectangle with plastic ties.  I used several ties to make sure that no critter could get in.


Here is how the cage fits on my raised bed.

Check back tomorrow for how I planted my early spring garden!

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I’ve organized my freezer before.  It involved taking everything out, making an inventory, and putting it all back in the freezer again.  Things pile up quickly again after that.  Then you have to start putting things back in a jumbled pile in the freezer again…  Putting them back so that things still fall out when you open the door… If the door closes…  Maybe, the freezer door stays closed, but only until you open and close the fridge door underneath, which causes the freezer door to open on its own…

Read on for details of how I organized my freezer once and for all!  Make sure you read to the end for a pic of the finished project!

I tried using two baskets, one for meat and one for veggies:


You can see that these white baskets are not tall enough to hold everything.  I still had a pile of items on top:

website-01As you can see in the picture above, everything is mixed up.  My original idea with these white baskets was to have meat in one and veggies in the other.  It was so hard to find things that everything got shoved around.

So… I once again removed everything from the fridge and made an inventory from organizedhome.com.


After scouring several stores, making several shelving and basket combinations, and constantly measuring, I came up with a solution:  use stacking baskets.  If you buy a side-by-side fridge/freezer combo, you get baskets and several shelves.  When you have a freezer above your fridge like I do, you have to fend for yourself in the organization department.  Here are the stacking baskets that I purchased (with the help of a gift card from Christmas):


Aren’t they great!  There’s even room on the left side for pizzas or large, thin packets of meat.  You can see where I’ve removed the useless ice tray shelf that sat as a waste of space on the left side of the freezer.

So, I put everything back in the freezer:

  • top left = seafood
  • bottom left = beef, pork, and poultry
  • top right = breads, ice cream, veggie overflow
  • bottom right = veggies
  • not in picture (cooler ice packs and fruits are on the door’s shelves)


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Menu Plan Monday

We’re still cooking at home on weeknights!  I’ve started doing more HEB deals, where you buy one item and get something free.  This week, I bought two kinds of lunchmeat and got bread and cheese slices free.  When I bought mayo, I got BBQ sauce free.  Fun!

Check back each day this week for posts about Valentine’s Day, gardening, and organizing my freezer once and for all!

Menu for the week of February 16:

  • Chicken fajitas with onions, bell peppers, cheese, sour cream, and tortillas
  • eat leftover chicken as quesadillas and salad w/ chicken
  • Pork chop packets w/ onion and bell pepper
  • rice
  • salad
  • Spaghetti w/ ground beef (company)
  • garlic breadsticks
  • salad
  • fresh fruit
  • Dijon-crusted fish
  • brown rice
  • zucchini
  • salad

For more menu ideas, go to orgjunkie.com.

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Easy Paprika Tilapia


Sprinkle thawed tilapia filets with paprika, salt, and pepper.  Add olive oil to a skillet and then add tilapia.  Cook 3-5 min. per side until tilapia is cooked and flaky.

I usually purchase individually-frozen tilapia fillets.  I thaw them in water in the sink for about 30 minutes.

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Menu Plan Monday

Menu for the week of February 9:

  • Semi-Homemade Crockpot Beef Stew
  • French Bread
  • Salad
  • Reynold’s Chicken Pot Pie
  • Salad
  • Light & Tasty Marinated Pork Roast
  • Roasted Potatoes
  • Raw Carrots
  • Mandarins
  • Salad
  • Paprika Tilapia/Breaded Tilapia
  • Potatoes
  • Salad

For more menu ideas, go to orgjunkie.com.

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I received a lovely bread basket for Christmas, along with a hand-embroidered bread cloth.  Besides keeping bread warm at meals, I’ve been using it between meals as well.  The bread basket is a lovely way to display fruit and muffins.  I wrap homemade muffins in plastic wrap to A. keep them fresh and B. have them ready to take to work for a snack.



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As I’ve said in previous posts, I’ve discovered The Fun with Food Storage Network.  One of the sites that links to this is The Obsessive Shopper.  They mention acquiring mutliple sets of coupons, organizing them by date and type (Smart Source, etc.), and keeping a spreadsheet list of coupons you’re interested in (instead of cutting them all out at once).

When you’re ready to buy something on sale at the store (or just need to buy something), you check your spreadsheet to see if you have a coupon.  If so, you cut out your multiple copies, put them in a sheet protector with your shopping list, and head out to the store.

I tried that and had my hands full of coupons.  I was constantly shuffling through them.  It was not fun.

My solution:  STAPLE MULTIPLE COPIES OF COUPONS TOGETHER!!!!  If I have 4 Pillsbury coupons for the same product, I staple them together, with the earliest expiration dates on top.  When I get to the register at the store, I tear off the number of coupons that I need.  Back at home, I put my unused coupons in my homemade coupon binder.

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