Learning to serve the Lord and my family one day at a time.

Learning to serve the Lord and my family one day at a time.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lilly's New Bed

I hope I'm not the only person who dreams up a great project or craft. buys the supplies, borrows the tools and then sits around for a month waiting to start. And I definitely was not too busy...
I'm not sure why I procrastinated delayed starting such a fun and simple sewing project. Lilly was in dire need of a new bed and I've been wanting to improve my sewing skills so I figured this would be a great project to practice on. After all, no one looks to closely at the workmanship of a dog bed, any crocked seams wouldn't be too noticeable.

I browsed the internet and found this simple dog bed. It's the same construction as a pillow sham. My first rookie mistake was thinking I had to sew all the edges of the fabric. In the example, she used an old curtain and since it has finished seems I thought I had to do the same. One night while watching a movie I pinned all the edges which took about thirty minutes and then it took me probably another thirty minutes to sew all around the fabric.

Once I actually read the directions, I had to cut off all the seams I had sewn in order to trim the fabric to fit the pillow! The rest of the project took less than thirty minutes. It came out great and now Lilly has a bed I can proudly display in our home.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Grocery Shopping

I'm killing time tonight because David's at bible study and I don't have much to do so I decided to add up all my grocery receipts for the month and see how much I saved. I was bad and didn't pull cash out this month but I kept a rather haphazard ledger instead. This is not the best idea honestly and I will be getting cash next month. According to my poorly kept ledger (on the back of my receipt envelope) I spent about $163. I went and added up all my receipts and a gallon of milk that I threw the receipt away for and I spent $155. The total value of my groceries and a few personal items at CVS was $393.24! I saved $237.73- that's 60%! I've never done so well.

Publix Trip

For those of you who are skeptical about couponing and eating healthy I'd say about 85% of the things I buy would be considered healthy. I did buy some turkey sausage, Lance sandwich crackers, Jimmy Deans breakfast sausage, lunch meat and granola bars filled with some questionable ingredients. 

Here's a quick summary of the healthier items I brought home and prices if I can figured them out after coupons and sale. 

15 boxes of Whole Wheat and Vegetable Pasta - .06 each 
Clearance Organic apples (not mealy this time!) .43 per pound
Ground Turkey 1.79 per pound
Cottage Cheese 1.39
Resolve stain remover for clothes - .84
Kashi cereal .59 each
Greek yogurt .10 each
Yoplait Yo Plus -FREE
Chicken breasts 1.99 per pound
Denta Stix for Lilly - FREE plus overage 
Razor and shaving cream for David .84 for both
Nature Valley granola bars (these have ingredients I don't feel too guilty about) $1 a box
Frozen vegetables - ranging from FREE on one trip to .45 each
Herbal tea 2.20
Shredded and block cheese
Cottage Cheese 
Whole wheat tortillas
Fresh fruit 
Enough canned tomatoes for the next three months

Earth Fare had a great deal this month. Spend $15 and get a free natural chicken, mashed potatoes and organic carrots. Plus I had a coupon for a free bag of organic apples. My mom gave me some cash to buy organic blueberries and I bought two boxes of tea that had coupons hanging next to them to get to the $15 minimum and ended up only spending $8.50 out of pocket for $30.59 of food. 

I made out like a bandit at Publix this month- I spent $52.72 over the course of the month and saved $188.10! Publix is where I get my great deals and I generally buy my basics at Kroger.  

My mom came for a visit earlier in the month so we probably ate out a few more times than we normally would which made our food last longer. I have a stuffed freezer and pantry going into next month. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Keeping the Carpet Looking Fresh

I thought after we got our puppy Lilly last summer, my carpet would never look new again. House breaking left my carpet looking gross. (Here's a puppy tip, buy baby gates and keep the dog on hardwood and tiles surfaces, it took us a month and many accidents on the carpet to figure this out.) Even after several bottles of Shot, and using a friend's Bissell carpet steamer I still had dark spots on the carpet. They didn't smell as far as I could tell but it just looked dirty.

Months passed with gross (to me) looking carpet and I knew a $100 carpet cleaning was coming sooner than I would like to pay for. I read a tip to spray any dark spots with a mist bottle of water and slowly vacuum over until the spot disappears. Sure enough this took any mystery spots right out! No joke, the carpet looked almost as good as if Stanley Steamer had come through. We've lived in our house a little over a year now, so we are probably overdue for a true carpet cleaning but this works great for the times in between.

Another little trick to freshen up the carpet is to sprinkle baking soda and allow to sit for thirty minutes and then vacuum up the baking soda. This helps to absorbs any odors in the carpet.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Saving Time in the Kitchen

Freezer cooking can involve not only marinated meats and complete dishes but also parts of meals that making cooking quicker and easier. Two things I like to prep for my freezer that aren't actual meals are onions and cooked brown rice.

I buy a big bag of onions every few weeks and chop them all when I have some time. It takes about fifteen to twenty minutes (I'm kinda slow with the knife) and I have prepared onions ready to grab out of the freezer when a dish calls for them, saving me five minutes while cooking. After you chop each onion place it in a quart size freezer bag and label. Now when I go to make tortilla soup  this week I don't have to stop and cut up an onion.

When I make brown rice I will make four to six cups and freeze two cup portions. To reheat, place in microwave safe bowl, add a bit of water and steam in the microwave covered. 

Meal Plan Monday

My mom came for a visit last week so I didn't menu plan last week as we ate out several times and were rather spontaneous with meals. I just pulled things from the freezer as needed. Marinated chicken is always a great fall back meal when I haven't meal planned or am cooking at the last minute.

Chicken Parmesan, homemade red sauce and whole wheat spaghetti, vegetable.

Marinated Chicken, homemade bread or english muffins, vegetable, baked sweet potato.

Chicken Tortilla Soup. Great crock pot meal that can cook while I'm gone all day and not be dried out! Some crock pot recipes have too short a cook time which doesn't work if you're gone for nine hours. My crock pot will switch to warm after the program is over but I think it can make meats like chicken and roasts dry.

Roasted pork, rice and vegetable. More on how to buy, prep, and freeze pork coming soon.

Leftover frozen Hoppin Johns served over rice.

We're going to a coed baby shower, hope there's food!

Chicken peanut stew. I processed a pumpkin last fall and it's taking up room in my freezer I'd like to clear out!
Vegetable and homemade bread.

Visit Organizing Junkie for more meal planning inspiration 

Swag Bucks

When I first started reading blogs, everyone was talking about Swagbucks, a search engine that randomly gives out points as you search throughout the day. I was hesitant to sign up at first, it sounded too good to be true to my skeptical mind. I gave it a shot and absolutely love earning points towards giftcards just for searching as I normally would.

Just use Swagbucks in place of your regular search engine and start earning. The best way to earn a large amount of Swagbucks is to refer friends and get a Swagbuck for every buck they get up to 1000. You can redeem your Swagbucks for giftcards and my personal favorite is Amazon since you can buy just about anything under the sun there! I was able to get several Christmas presents for free after using Amazon giftcards I had earned on Swagbucks.

If you're interested in signing up, you can use my referral code so I'll get Swagbucks too!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup
From Today's Creative Crock Pot Cookbook

I adore this soup and the best part is you can use raw or cooked chicken in it. If you use cooked chicken don't add it until the last hour so it's not chewy.

3 chicken breasts (bone-in or boneless)
14 oz can diced tomatoes
2 jalapeno peppers. The heat comes from the seeds so you can take out the seeds to make it less spicy
6 corn tortillas (optional)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 chopped onion
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
4 cups chicken broth
1 Tbs fresh cilantro, minced (I never have this on hand)

Optional garnish
Avocado chopped
Tortilla chips

Place all ingredients expect cilantro in Crock Pot.
Cook on low 4-6 hours or high 2-3.
When chicken is done, removed and shred with two forks
Add cilantro
Serve with cheese, chips and avocado

Creamy chicken enchiladas 
Recipe from my sister in law
1 med onion
1 can chopped green chilies
1 oz package cream cheese cut up and softened
3 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken breasts
8 tortillas
2 oz package monterey jack cheese

Saute onions then add chilies
Stir in cream cheese and chicken until cheese melts 
Fill and roll enchiladas and place in casserole dish
Cook at 350 for 45 min

Honey Nut Chicken

Honey-nut chicken  
Recipe from my sister in law (I still haven't made this!)
2/3 c honey roasted peanuts
1/2 c bread crumbs
1 TBS grill seasoning blend garlic salt and pepper
2 eggs
splash of milk
1/2 c flour
2 tbs oil
4 chicken breasts
  • Preheat to 350
  • Grind nuts bread and seasoning in blender
  • Beat eggs and milk
  • Dust chicken with flour
  • Dip in egg mix then coat with nutty breading
  • Brown chicken 2 min each side in pan with oil (use an oven proof pan if you have one)
  • Cook 10-12 min oven