Sunday, July 31, 2011

meal plan 7-31 through 8-6

Nothing too exciting this week. I had to bump a couple of things from last week as we ended up having an extra eat out night and also had a quick fix night! You know, essentially, life gets in the way of our best laid plans!

Tonight: BLT with homemade jo-jos (my grandma's recipe- hopefully mine are as good as hers) and fresh picked green beans. Everything but bread and bacon is fresh picked from the garden! I'm sooo excited!
Mon: Pillsbury biscuit calzones with salad from Krista's Kitchen.
I switch it up and use pepperoni, green peppers, onions etc.
Tues: BBQ pulled pork sandwich (bump)
Weds: Grilled chicken with peach sauce (bump)
Thurs: Spaghetti
Fri: Out
Sat: Pig roast/cook out. I'm taking either potato salad, mexican bean salad or brownies.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Becoming Chloe & Heaven is For Real Book Reviews

I'm a little behind in my book reviews. I apologize. Since reading The Book Thief, I have read 2 other books. I did take a hiatus from reading after TBT because I needed time to digest such a great tale and decide what I wanted to read next. I chose "Heaven is For Real". Honest, I thought it was good. I enjoyed hearing what happened to Colton Burpo in Heaven and what he experienced. I found myself excited and reassured about/of my faith. It also helped me realize just how much Jesus really does love the little children and how I should have a better attitude toward my own (even in those rough moments where a time out is needed for both of us - more on that in a post later this week). I would suggest reading it but do know that I also feel that some of the story seems to be written just to prolong the book. It is good though. This is a non-fiction piece.

Now, the opposite end: Becoming Chloe. Fiction written by the author of "Pay It Forward". UGH! I wasn't sure about it as it opens with a rape then it starts to get better- so I continue, of course. I just finished it a few hours ago. I must say I was disappointed. On my shelfari page I gave it 2 out of 5 stars. I enjoyed the adventure and thought it was going well until the last 10 pages. The characters didn't seem to really grow much. Stagnation is no fun in a person or character! I will say I was inspired and desired to join the characters on their bicycle journey across America

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Before and After. :]

So I made my choice at the Minor Crossroad (See June 26). Here's a before (YUCK! I do not take good pictures) and an after.

Of course, trying to get a 2 year old's attention doesn't help with this camera angle. Also sans make up.
The glare is a little harsh. Poo! I'll load another.

I think I took about 3 inches off and added a few layers. I love it! Best yet, I can still pull it back when I want to- like on this wonderfully hot and humid day.  Can you tell which is before and which is after????
My narcissistic episode is over for now! Thanks for putting up with it! :)

New to Me shelf

Every summer I go through this phase where I want to redo every room in the house. Of course, that's not practical for us - AT ALL! Some days, thrift stores are too expensive for us. Thank goodness for garage sales.

I'm been looking for things to help me organize my little precious keepsakes for a while and thought a shelf would be perfect. I have searched a few garage sales and while they have had plenty of shelves - some of which were sooo perfect- the asking price was more than I wanted to pay and since the person wasn't wheeling with anyone on deals (I overheard- yes, I eavesdrop but admit it- you do too!).

One warm Saturday morning, my son and I left my sleeping husband to go looking for treasure.We did too! I found a shelf that wasn't perfect, but could certainly work for allowing me to hold a few items on different levels. Is it the most beautiful shelf, no. Is it good enough to get me by for a little bit until I can afford something better? Absolutely! Here it is:
So not beautiful, but $0.50 for my little keepsakes? Sure.
When I brought this home, my husband laughed at me and said "It's the ugliest thing ever - no wonder why it was so cheap." My response "For 50 cents, I'll see what I can do with it. If I don't like it, I'm out 50 cents."

Here's what I did (I had everything except for the paint I used which I bought for this project and a few others).
1. Remove the ugly decoration at the top. Whatever that's called.

I was left with an ugly box with holes in the top of it. Yippee!!

2. Fill said holes with wood filler. (PLEASE DO IT FAST!)

I made sure to smooth out the filler so there were no bumps for the person at Goodwill who may get this item. It's not looking promising, but a little better.

3. Paint it. This took a few days. Remember that heat and high humidity we had... yep. I couldn't paint in that kind of weather. The shelf would never dry then. First, I tried painting it white. It didn't match the room- I didn't bother with a picture because it looked hideous in white in a room filled with wood trim and furniture and other paintings/pictures that were dark framed. Time for new paint. I got the Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint and went to town. Here's the end result that is holding my precious keepsakes:

Is it the most spectacular thing ever seen? No. Is it better than in bought condition? I think so. Does it serve its purpose? Yes. Each of these keepsakes has special meanind to me:  a Holly Hobbie figurine I've had for years that my dear grandmother gave to me, a Rhino from Africa from an old friend - yes LO, I still have it, a turtle figurine from a dear colleague at school who introduced me to costuming and one of the best times ever, and lastly a wonderful plaque about motherhood from my stepfather's mother (stepgrandma- Is that a word? Should be in today's society). These items would otherwise still be homeless if it weren't for my $0.50 shelf. I think it's a keeper even though it's not fantastic. I have another idea up my sleeve for it, but I've got to finish the rest of the room first! Up next, painting the frame on the $5.00 mirror I found. :) 

Do you have trinkets displayed in your home? I didn't really, but didn't like that they hid in a box. What do you do with your trinkets and precious keepsakes? 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Minor Crossroads.....

It seems I'm always at a crossroad in life. There are always decisions to make and I'm not the most eager or greatest decision maker. It actually drives my husband insane (literally- and I've turned his hair gray with this behavior!) that I cannot make a definitive decision about anything as I second guess a lot of things. Maybe it's because change is hard; commitment is scary; and a fear of failure or imperfection or looking like an idiot. If you can't tell, I'm hard on myself to be perfect even though I know I will never be as I'm not supposed to be. I am to simply rely on the only Perfect Person ever (Jesus Christ) to get me through the major things in life. The funny thing, I can do that usually without much problem as I know I can't control it. Shoot, I made a decision to change my major and add 1.5 years of schooling to my degree when I could have easily finished up in a year- but I followed what I believe God was asking me to do. More on that in another post. My question is what about the little things?

This post is coming about as tomorrow I am getting my hair cut and colored. Nothing major as I have done this too many times to even attempt to count. I've been blonde, dark brown, bright red, even a beautiful mahogany/purply color. It was my favorite and absolutely beautiful. I've had it cut boy cut short (bring out the shears, I'll take number 5) and flowing down my back in many layers. I've been permed, straight, wavy and anything in between. Now, at 35, I can't seem to make a decision of what I want to do with my hair. I want it short, but hubby likes long. I want it long, but I don't have a clue what to do with it so it goes in a pony tail (well then cut it off!).   Why can't I make a decision about my hair? I want a change and I need a change, but what? Maybe I should just get a bunch of wigs and be a different person every day.... hey, I know some people who did that. Maybe they can help???

It doesn't stop there folks. When I'm really hungry and we're running around. I'll tell hubby how hungry I am and he asks what I want. I tell him "I don't know".  I'll want to do something but have no clue what I want to do. It's aggravating for him and for me. Really? Why can't I make a choice about something and not get all wishy washy about my decision? Can this be normal? Are there others out there like me?

I would like to think it's just a phase or a mood thing, but I don't think it is. Maybe it's genetic... I think I'll have to do more talking with the family!
Tomorrow, I will make a decision- to change or not to change. I bet it will be not to change as I think I simply fear it. Isn't that what old people do? Am I really getting old? Change is not something to be feared but something to be embraced- I've heard this many times and cannot tell you where it came from. I used to believe in it. I practice it in my teaching all the time as I can't teach each student the same, yet in my personal decisions I want comfort and experience. Such a silly post- all because I'm getting a haircut tomorrow. Stupid hair cut- making me think too much.

Garage Sale Find!

I enjoy spending Thursday, Friday and Saturday mornings going to garage sales with my husband and son. It's a great time. I'm learning to get over the feeling of having to buy something from each one. That is freeing! I do enjoy talking to the sellers and getting the story behind items they are selling or just hearing why they are selling everything. These people like to talk. I've also learned that if you linger long enough at an item, people will generally take a price other than the one listed. They know your trying to decide if it's the amount you want to pay for something like that. It's great! I've also learned that you should always ask for a lower price, but be willing to walk away if the answer is no and it's a price you don't want to pay.

Here's a find from a garage sale. This table, quaint design and small enough to be used for my night stand without being bulky (something we have plenty of in our house- bulk!), was marked $5. It was a little questionable as to whether I should pay $5 for the table when I noticed one of the legs about to fall off. Here's the deal though, I loved the simplicity of the table. I saw it's potential - another key in buying used items. $5 wasn't a terrible price, but since I knew I would have to paint it and glue it, I wasn't going to pay that. I think I offered $3 but was willing to settle for $4. I know- what's $1, but I wanted a cute vase too and the $4 allowed me to stay under budget and get both items.
Needs a little work, but cute. Don't mind Boston, our 10 year old boxer, making his blog debut. :)

Umm... yeah. Needs work.

So, the black table in crazy condition was transformed into a nice enough night stand with a couple coats of white paint. It looks so much better and I now have a night table where I can place my novel, sudoku book, Bible and book light- so much better than the floor which is where they were staying while not in use!

I later went to another yard sale and found a cute lamp for $2. The shade isn't perfect, but I liked the glass lamp and it's the perfect size for the dainty table. Here they are paired together, with my books and booklight. :)
So the lampshade is crooked, but Everett plays with this lamp all the time! It's his favorite.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Speedy Jambalaya Recipe Review

Tonight, we tried out a new recipe: Speedy Jambalaya from Taste of Home (Annual Recipe Cookbook 2010). My family usually likes my simple Jambalaya recipe that takes a total of 15 minutes to make, but this was a great twist!

The one thing I wasn't too sure about was the Blackeye Peas. I had never had them and to be honest, while eating them, I was hoping that all of a sudden my body would morph into one similar to Fergie's. I wasn't a huge fan of the peas, but they added a nice texture to the dish. Hmmm... speaking of Fergie, maybe I should try singing now that I've eaten blackeye peas. There has to be some benefit to them right??? :)  Okay they weren't that bad- just different. I prefer black beans and maybe next time I'll substitute a different lentil in there.

Back to the recipe: This was EASY to make. It was quick. The layered flavors were nice as well. It makes a lot so this is good for dinner guests.
Looks scrumptious doesn't it? BTW, No, that's not a fly, it's a spice on the onion!

 I made a few adjustments to the recipe: Only added 1 can of blackeye peas and 2 bay leaves. I was out of paprika so I didn't add that.
What I'd do differently: add more hot sauce. I didn't think it had enough kick to it- shoot, I tasted next to no kick, but lots of other delicious flavors. Add a different bean/lentil.

Family review: Everett wanted more meat and actually at some blackeye peas and rice too. He doesn't like peppers or onions, so that was a no go. The recipe was Everett friendly which is important when living with a child with allergies.
 Jay thought it was fantastic and loved the chunky veggies. That's a huge compliment from someone who only eats veggies when they're hidden in something! This man is not a veggie lover at all. The fact that everyone enjoyed the recipe speaks volumes. It was really good. To make it healthier, you could use cooked turkey or chicken sausage, but we loved it as is. We'd definitely make this again. YUM!  Of course, we have enough left overs for the week!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Time has gone by! Plus: Meal plan week of 7.25.11

Whew! I didn't realize that it's been 4 days since my last post. There have been a lot of things going on in that 4 days. More on that later! Still working on the room which the total for redecorating jumped from $9.50 to $14.50 this weekend. Still have to fix that doggone basement window (too hot for that kind of work!). Garage saling for a few furniture items that need replaced and of course, playing with the kiddo.

Anyway, this is another week where I'll be making at least 2 new dishes. I'm toying with the idea of a third, but it's also a busy week for us too (toward the end especially).

Monday: Speedy Jambalaya - new from Taste of Home Annual Recipes 2010.
Looks soooo yummy!
Tuesday: Turkey burgers - bumped from last week as we haven't had them in 3 weeks! Talk about withdrawal!
Wednesday: Grilled chicken with peach sauce - new Taste of Home 5 Ingredient Cookbook. (I read jello in the recipe and had to try it. Who doesn't love jello?)
Peaches and Jello in the recipe??? YUM!

Thursday: Meatball subs - we have a festival to attend for the kiddo.
Friday: JUNK FOODARAMA at the Hot Air Balloon festival- Football HOF festivities. I'm soooo getting funnel cake.
Saturday: Ham and onion quiche.
Sunday: BBQ pulled pork sandwiches.  Either Sat or Sun, I am toying with trying the salad Krista featured in her blog this week. Looks scrumptious but with bacon in there, I'm thinking that may be pork overkill.
That's what we're munching on... What's on your plate this week?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Recipe review- Cilantro Chicken.

Ya win some, ya lose some. This one was a loss. It was very sad. The Cilantro Chicken had 2 flaws: way too much lemon juice and definitely not enough cilantro. I honestly think that they switched the amounts when they wrote the book. However, there is hope! Read on....

Here's the low down: Simple recipe, pretty quick and easy to make. I think it took me about 40 min total- chopping everything and all. Not terrible- definitely doable. There is a lot of standing and stirring while making this. It's not a recipe to just leave cooking in the oven or simmering.

It looked beautiful- see for yourself.   

It smelled good, looked good... I was sooo excited to put the fork-filled bite into my mouth I could hardly stand it. Then it happened..... I was about knocked out of my chair by the intensity of the lemon juice in the recipe. I managed to eat it. My husband brought home our son from errands and hair cuts. He put some on his plate, took one bite and pushed it away saying "I can't eat that". It should be noted that he's not a huge fan of lemon anything- my error in not realizing how much the lemon flavoring would burst through the recipe. My son doesn't really count as he doesn't like to eat anything except fruit, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chips, cookies, bread and hot dogs. He had a hot dogs and "trees"- broccoli.

How would I change it: I would use 1/4 c lemon juice and 1/2 c chopped fresh cilantro. The rest of the recipe was fine. You may like it as is, but I would definitely change it in that way to make it more friendly for our family.   If by chance you are interesting in trying the recipe, check out my meal plan for this week or go here.

Maybe next week will be more successful.

On another note: Stay tuned. I'll be blogging about how I'm transforming the extra room in our home (currently laundry/storage/craft room) into a beautiful room for less than $50 (so far, I've spent $9.50 on the entire room including a gallon of paint and some decorations). We still have yet to put in the basement window- it's way to hot to go outside and crawl on the ground and such- but it hasn't stopped us from pool days!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Zucchini Casserole Recipe Review

Last night I tried a new recipe for dinner - Zucchini Casserole from Krista's Kitchen.  It was fairly easy to make. I had browned the ground beef earlier in the week then froze it. I simply thawed that in the fridge and warmed it in the skillet with the chopped onion and seasoning. While that was warming, I chopped up the zucchini, leaving the skin on as I love the color. I then added it all and let it sit on the skillet. Since this made a lot, I, like Krista, split it between 2 pans and put one in the freezer and the other in the oven 40 min. later we had a delicious dinner.

Fresh out of the oven. MMMMM!

The recipe was easy to make. It took a little time between the browning of the meat then the simmering for 30 min and the 40 min bake time. The good thing is a lot of this was time you didn't need to stand in the kitchen. That's much better than the chicken enchiladas I make where I am literally working in the kitchen for 1.5 hours.

The taste and flavor was good. My husband said he expected the croutons to be crispy and would prefer there to be crunch in the recipe- that didn't stop him from having seconds though! I felt the recipe was great. You get to sneak in more vegetables in a tasty way. Coming from a down home style family, I'm used to only eating my zucchini fried but I must say this was a great way to get in zucchini in a better way.

Substitutions I made: light sour cream. I would have used low fat cheese, but I already had some opened shredded cheese I needed to use up.  That would make it a little better as far as fat and calories. Overall, I would make it again.

This meal is most budget friendly in the summer when zucchini is on sale. My zucchini was $0.99. The ground beef was from a mega sale a few weeks ago. If you wanted to go healthier and cheaper, use ground turkey which can be found for $1.99 to $3.49 a pound depending on where you shop. If you get ground turkey frozen in the plastic wrap it's $1.99 usually. The canned tomatoes I used were $0.89.

Monday, July 18, 2011

New recipes and Meal plan for the week.

This post is a little late, but better late than never.  I'll be trying 2 new recipes this week: Zucchini Casserole from Kirsta's Kitchen and Cilantro Chicken from the 2010 Taste of Home Annual Recipes book.

Sunday: Grilled cheese and baked fries (quick and easy)
Monday: Zucchini Casserole with salad
Tuesday Italian Sausage sandwiches with pierogies and broccoli
Wednesday: Cilantro Chicken with Saffron Rice and cauliflower (YUM!)
Thursday: Filet steaks with baked potatoes (sweet and regular) and salad. These steaks were a steal at Acme last week. $4.99 a pound. Paid $12 for 7 steaks.
Friday: we eat with my mom.
Saturday Grilled turkey burgers- a staple at our house once a week in the summer. :)

Cilantro Chicken recipe:
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 1 inch cubes
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp pepper
4 tbsp. butter, divided
2 large onions, sliced
1/2 c lemon juice
1/4 c minced fresh cilantro
hot cooked rice

Sprinkle chicken with salt, cumin and pepper. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook and stir the chicken in 2 tbsp butter until no longer pink. Remove and keep warm.
In the same skillet, saute onions in remaining butter until tender and golden brown. Return chicken to the pan. Stir in the lemon juice and cilantro, bring to a boil. Serve with rice.
Prep/Total time: 30 min. Recipe by Mary Pipkin featured in Taste of Home.
Hope you are inspired to try at least 1 new recipe this week. Enjoy your week!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Honey Grilled Chicken - SCRUMPTIOUS!

Last week I posted my meal plan. In it was a recipe from Krista's Kitchen called Honey Grilled Chicken. It sounded and looked so fantastic on her blog that I had to try it.

I made the recipe this past Sunday for my parents, nephew and my own little family. I had 5 large chicken breasts that I cut in half. Needless to say, there was plenty of chicken to go around.

I never used ginger root before. I must say I was a little intimidated by it's funky shape, but it was very easy to use. I mean, all you do is grate it. It added such great flavor!  After making the marinade, I let it sit in the fridge for about 8 hours. We took it out and my hubby put it on the grill while I made the parsleyed potatoes and asparagus. About 15 minutes later, we had a very scrumptious dinner! The only things I forgot were a nice bread and dessert (so we had Oreos). :)

My picture isn't as great as Krista's are, but you can tell it was a hit as my 2-year-old's finger is on my plate.

Everyone really enjoyed it. I received compliments from some very finicky eaters. Thank you Krista for a great meal!

For those with allergies, this is a very friendly recipe. I changed the parsleyed potatoes from using butter to using olive oil to coat, garlic salt and parsley for seasoning. My parents are used to using lots of butter to make these, but since Everett has a dairy allergy, I used olive oil. They didn't seem to mind at all and said the flavoring was quite good as an alternative.

What recipe are you trying?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Basement part 2: Window shopping

Remember the saga yesterday with the broken window? Here's the breakdown:

The windows are ancient and open as shown below.
(This one is right at the bottom of the step- watch your head if you see the window open!)

Each window has a hook and eye fixture to hold it open (see the rusty hook attached to the rusty loop near the top of the pic below? Yep- that's a pretty doggone good system- obviously).

See the hook up there near the insulation? Yeah, that squiggly thing is a hook and eye closure.

I tried my best to get a good pic, but it was a little challenging in the location where I was.  There's the hook. Beauty isn't it? Definitely secure.

Well, apparently when I was opening the window and putting the hook through the eye, I failed to put the hook completely through the eye which lead to gravity pulling on it and the window slamming and busting everywhere. 

Since we are on a super budget, I was freaking out about the window breaking. My mom reminded me of a place I believe I may have introduced her to: Building 9. They are fantastic! They have all kinds of home repair supplies at fantastic prices.

Of course, with the house being 93 years old, we knew we would have to special order whatever we needed. Nothing is ever easy for us. Everything must be complex- it's how we roll. Shoot, we wouldn't know what to do if anything we needed was in stock and ready to go from the shelf when it comes to home repair.  Could Building 9 order it cheaper than anywhere else? It was time to find out.

We headed down to downtown Akron to Building 9. Our measurements were 30.5" x 23" (measured cement to cement). Of course, while they had a bunch of windows in stock ready to go, they didn't have our size. We decided to get a quote and then shop around.
   Building 9 said for a window that is 30" x 22" with a vent it would be $99, without the vent $76. Special order would take 4-5 days.
    Lowes: window is 28" x 21 1/4" with a vent it would be $148.69, without the vent $134.69. Special order takes 14 days to get in.

Hmm.... well, I can get it in 5 days and a bigger window size (more for my money) and save $50 or go with tried and true Lowes. Going with Building 9.

We couldn't be happier. We placed the order with Building 9 on Monday. On Wednesday in the early afternoon (1 pm), we received a call that the window was in and ready for pick up! WOW! I couldn't believe it. I saved $50 and got the window sooner? How often does that happen? In the Carder world, RARELY! Clearly, God is looking out for us!

The window is beautiful.  I believe we tackle installation tomorrow. Be sure to check back for that post as the basement saga continues.  Oh, and if you want to check out Building 9, click here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Basement waterproofing part 1

For the past week or so, my husband and I have been working on fixing our basement. It was a mess- dark, damp, dreary, cobweb-filled... Think perfect haunted house scenery... hmm maybe we should have left it that way and made some money in the fall opening our own haunted house. Shoot! Why didn't I think of this before!
This wall greeted you at the bottom of the stairs.
Welcome to the dungeon. We've got arachnids! (Think GNR)

When we moved it, the basement was in okay/good condition for a basement in our area- shoot, we could stand up in it and it was painted - heck! We had a basement!  The walls were painted, the floor was painted until it started to chip and crack allowing more water into the basement. That's probably not the reason for more water, but I'm gonna say it is! Actually, the truth is the water started to wear down the paint which lead to the peeling and chipping.
Shelves are solid. Definite keepers!

When I noticed this happening, I started to peel and scrape the paint thinking I would have it all finished in no time and looking beautiful. WRONG! This peeling/scraping etc. to remove as much of the old stuff as possible took forever! That happens when you have a 2-year old and are working. You only work on things as you can. It took a couple of years (during pregnancy I didn't do any work nor the first year of Everett's life). Could we have made it shorter and gotten it done sooner, probably- but would you really like to be in a dungeon that's getting scarier and scarier by the minute? I didn't think so. 

Finally, we took as much as possible off and decided to paint when my mom would be able to watch the little one for a few days. That just makes things easier right? WRONG again! I didn't know how big of a project this would be.  It took us a day to get the floors bleached to kill any mold/mildew we could see (we would later make a discovery), vacuum all the walls and remove cobwebs from the rafters, and gather all of the supplies. Finally, at 10 pm, we were able to start the waterproofing paint on the walls. Whew! Tired yet?

The next day we woke early. We put the second coat of waterproofing paint on the walls then started working on the trim work areas. In the process of painting trim, I came across a fixture that I thought was attached to the water heater/brick pole. Come to find out it was a terribly old air filter for the heater. I pulled it out to discover some black mold. It was a small patch maybe 5 inches long x 1 inch wide. Did some research and later in the day bleached the heck out of it.
We also pulled out an old shelf along the wall during this (that we thought was bolted to the wall and we were terribly mistaken) to find a little bit of mildew. No problem, bleach took care of that too! I learned to like bleach even though I can't stand it. I get sick from the fumes.   During the bleaching of the black mold, which I later learned was a smaller amount of mold than anticipated and more sediment than anything, the window that I opened slammed shut and shattered all over the freshly painted floor. I seriously thought I was going to die from either fumes or mold during this process. When the window slammed, I prayed it wasn't a sign. Thank you Lord for helping me live through this!  I've lived through it, but cost us who knows how much in a window. Of course, the window breaking caused a little tiff- because I clearly planned on breaking the window honey! It was in the plans all along... Not when we don't have the extra cash for it!
This is the window that broke.

The laundry shelf is no longer there.
 Then while cleaning up, I twisted my ankle and haven't been able to run for a week. :(

Today, the basement is still not 100% complete. It's about 85% complete. We have to move out the appliances to finish the floor and add a second coat of paint to the area behind the shelf we moved... oh yeah, and replace the window with our new glass block window! :)  By next week, it will be complete. Enjoy the pics of the 85% completed basement.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Meal Plan 7-9 through 7-15

This week's meals are somewhat simple. I'm revisiting the honey grilled chicken as my new recipe this week since I didn't get a chance to make it last week and it's something I really would like to try.

Sat: Spaghetti
Sun: Honey grilled chicken, asparagus, parsley potatoes
Mon: burgers and tater tots (probably turkey burgers since they are my favorite!)
Tues: Crunchy onion chicken, broccoli, mashed potatoes
Weds: Sausage veggie pasta
Thurs: leftovers
Fri: out - every Friday.


Friday, July 8, 2011

Whew! What a week!

This week has been a very unusual week for us. There couldn't have been more going on or being accomplished. It has been amazing and challenging (and extremely expensive)!
   It all started with my son's strep diagnosis on Saturday. Then Tuesday he went to get bloodwork for his allergy testing- it came back that now he is not only allergic to milk/dairy, but he has also developed a corn allergy. GREAT! He loves corn and we haven't seen a reaction, however, I'm noticing when I use baby powder on him he seems really uncomfortable. Is cornstarch the same as corn for a corn allergy??? This could get ugly, especially if corn syrup is involved. YIKES!  I'll post about learning to live with a child with allergies eventually. :)
Really? Corn is in EVERYTHING!
  Tuesday, prior to grocery shopping (and starting my meal plans), my mom called and told me she was taking E for 2 days so we could work on waterproofing our dungeon. I mean basement. This was not a job I wanted to take on that day, but it's when we had someone available ot watch him so we went for it. 4 days later, it's still not complete and will not be for another week or so. If not longer, depending on the window fiasco. More to come on that later!
  Wednesday, I twisted my ankle while cleaning up some paint and found some black mold under the water heater in the basement so I bleached it Thursday night. That's event 2 and I still haven't been grocery shopping. Event 3 came when the basement window fell and slammed shut breaking all the glass out of the window. FANTASTIC!  Hey, it gives us a reason to get at least 1 glass block window down there.
  Event 4 came on Friday when my husband and I were diagnosed with strep throat as well- I still have not gone grocery shopping. The only meal I've cooked at home has been pork chops. I can't wait to settle down and cook again- getting back into the swing of real life without drama.  Look for the next few posts to be more about the Event that is our basement and the Challenge which is cooking for a toddler who refuses to eat meat and has allergies! :)
  This week's meal plan will be updated tomorrow. Yes, I am grocery shopping tomorrow and starting my meal plan again. :) . Confessions of a couponer: I like to shop, but I don't enjoy grocery shopping.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Meal plan for the week of 7-5

   This summer I'm trying to get better at planning out the meals and writing them on the calendar next to the fridge so as to eliminate the "What's for dinner tonight" dilemma. I don't know if you go through those, but I do all the time. I'm learning the hints and tricks of how this works through a new favorite blog, Krista's Kitchen

Here's the plan for this week:
Breakfast choices are: yogurt, toast & fruit; oatmeal, pancakes, eggs, and cinnamon rolls as a treat on Friday or Saturday morning.

Lunch choices: Pasta salad, tuna salad, salami, ham or pb&j sandwiches all with fruit and chips/pretzels or leftovers. There are also quick fix choices in the freezer (courtesy of Lean Cuisine).

Tonight: Pork loin with asparagus and parsley potatoes
Tomorrow: Honey Grilled Chicken (from Krista's site), corn on the cob, and sweet potatoes. Since Jay doesn't like sweet potatoes, I'll bake him a potato.
Thursday: Spagetti (an easy night!).
Friday: we always eat with my mom on Friday.
Saturday: Crunchy onion chicken with broccoli and mashed potatoes.

   I'll revisit my meal plan on Sunday, but we'll have to eat leftovers at some point. I figure they can be lunch or an easy dinner night or we can eat them on Sunday.
   Since school ended, I've been shopping on Mondays or Thursdays. I'm choosing Monday next week for just a few things as I am off due to the holiday and some other things that popped up. The good thing about Thursdays- Giant Eagle's new deals go into effect! :)

   I'll let you know how this works out for me. I'm new to total meal planning as Krista does it, but I think it makes perfect sense.

   Also, I love to try new recipes. This will give me a chance to try at least 1 new recipe a week. It's something I did 2 years ago with a friend at work, but since she's not longer working with me, I got out of the habit. I think I'm going back to it. It was fun and gave us something to look forward too- plus, I really like to rate them with my family and then state what we'd change about it! I'll let you know how the Honey Grilled Chicken turns out! :)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Feeling of a Good Book....

Some books I read are just a story or decent book- nothing really truly noteworthy. I recently finished "The Book Thief" by Mark Zusak. 

If you haven't read it, you really MUST! This is not something you should consider to read, but that you really should read. Okay, so it's not the Bible that we really should read, but it is a truly fantastic book.

Zusak proves to be a great writer and an excellent story teller. The content is a little much for a young teen. It seems more appropriate as an adult title, but if the teen is mature, s/he could certainly handle the book.
 Leisel is a wonderful character. I fell in love with Rudy and Papa. Yes, I even think I enjoyed Mama too. I don't think the book would have that flair without her. I could easily envision Himmel Street and the characters. Max's story is great. I don't want to spoil the book for any who want to read it so I won't go too deep into what happens. I can certainly tell you it is a truly fantastic book and I highly recommend.
This book left me wanting to take time to mull it over in my head and think about it, relish it before starting my next book. That doesn't happen with me! Usually, I finish a book and then I move on to something almost immediately. I'm not ready to move on from this beautifully told story. I want to stay, linger- enjoying each moment- reliving the story as I remember- like Death did with his copy of "The Book Thief". Yes, Death is the narrator of this fantastic story and a great one at that.

I hear there is a movie in the making. There is little chance the movie will be as good as the book. Isn't that usually the case?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Cool party on a budget... Can it be done?

This past Sunday was my son's birthday party. I LOVE to create and design birthday or themed parties for kids. I never knew how much I loved it until my little guy came along. Last year, he was only 1 and the only real things I did special were the cake and invitations. This year, it was much better since he was really into some things (construction vehicles and buses). I chose the theme first (construction trucks) then designed the invitations and made them. All the rest fell into place. Here's the low down:

The Cupcakes! YUMMMMM!!!
After the invitations were sent out, I designed the ideas for the party. First, I have to admit, I'm human. I totally changed the location of the party after the invitations were mailed. This of course, meant more work contacting everyone with the location of the party - which was a cool park down the street from our home. Since this was an outdoor party, it was nice that the park wasn't too far from our house in case we needed to bring everyone to our place if the weather didn't cooperate.
Anyway, back to the ideas: I wanted to find big plastic dump trucks (cheap of course) to serve chips, pretzels, Mexican bean salad, and canteloupe in. Since I'm on a super budget, I hit garage sales. While I didn't find the dump trucks, I did luck out and find someone who recently had a construction themed party. She had construction hats, placemats that could be wiped and had drawing/coloring activities on the back, lots of trucks, and some party streamers. There were 16 of each item (except party popper streamers). I walked out with 5 trucks 17 hats, 16 placemats, a centerpiece that I cut into 2 pieces to make signs, the streamers and a few other items for $5! WOOO HOOO!! 
   This of course changed the game plan. So much for serving food out of trucks. I'm serving out of hats!

I used the trucks and other items to decorate the tables. Covered the tables with plastic table cloths from the dollar store. The cut centerpiece was at each end of the food table. I had created some signs for the tables out of cardboard and skewers planted in play-doh, but the wind knocked those over, so I just put them under the tables.

There were 2 tables for food. The first was the "Build your own sandwich" table. Choice of bread (buns, white, wheat, pita) and filling choices were tuna salad, chicken salad or veggie which was tomato, lettuce, hummus. Being the crazy lady of the day, I forgot the cheese and other decorative signs for the day. Here's that table:

Construction table: Each placemat has a different bread and serves as a workstation.

The second table had the sides- served out of construction hats- and cupcakes. The kids each had a place at their table. Their place had a placemat and hat. In the hat was their peanut butter and jelly sandwich in a baggie like if you packed your lunch. Clever, huh?! 

I found some dump truck balloons at the dollar store so I bought 2 of those and 2 orange stars (Everett chose those). 

The day came and the weather was perfect. Kids played on the playground, dug in the sand, and swam in the pool. Not bad for a party that cost me a total of $85 to have. Just goes to show that you can have a serious party on a budget!

Friday, July 1, 2011


Welcome to Sharing Cheri. This is a blog where I will share what I learn as I go through life.
    For those of you who don't know me, I enjoy finding good deals, dreaming of great home remodels and decor, clipping coupons and saving money and being a wife, mom, and teacher. Life is good. God is GREAT- all the time, even the rough times.
   Posts on here will include some cool life events, crafting ideas, decorating ideas (but I'm not the best at decorating!), recipes, and other information I find.
    I can't guarantee that it will be updated regularly as sometimes life gets in the way of things. But I want to use this as a journal for myself and a way to connect my "normal" life with others who are "normal" (whatever that is). I do not proclaim to have the best answers to everything. I am definitely not the blogger with the perfectly decorated and clean home, super saver clipper or anything. I'm just someone trying to do the best for my family that I can. If you're one of those people, then you might enjoy my perfectly imperect life. It's a great place to be!