Friday, January 29, 2010

Topsy-Turvy Week

Not a bad week, just a crazy one! I guess that's to be expected when you have children.

We spent Sunday moving my grandmother. She was moving to a smaller place, so we inherited some furniture. One of the pieces is her Lane chest that she bought in 1947. She put a note in it that said, "To Melinda Sue; From Grandma; Love You." Yes, that note will stay in that chest :)

Monday, we moved all of the stuff into our house with the help of a friend. Nothing is where it's supposed to be. I haven't figure out yet what I want to do with all of it. My monitor was going out, so I checked prices online and headed out to Best Buy and grabbed a new one. I finally graduated out of a CRT!!!

Tuesday, I watched my best friend's boys in the evening. Our church does Apples of Gold. I went through it last spring - it was AWESOME!!! The ladies in my group will be forever special to me. My friend has a chance to go through it and I am happy to watch her boys so that she can have this incredible experience!

Tuesday night, after I went to bed, was a different story. I started feeling, well, bloated. I woke up feeling a worse. I woke up again with a bad pain on my right side, front and back. I was up most of the night. Turns out that it was very likely my gall bladder. I spoke to a nurse I know over the phone and that's her educated guess. Then I spoke to my best friend who had the same pain and it was her gall bladder. So I'm avoiding fatty foods. I've been wanting to lose weight. I think this is God giving me motivation.

Wednesday morning I usually go to Bible study. Since I was feeling yuck and hadn't slept, I stayed home. (The enemy really works hard to keep us from fellowship). We are studying the book of Isaiah. I'm really looking forward to it. Wednesday night, I go to a Bible study on Revelation. Both are precept classes, which I love!

Thursday was lazy. I needed that lazy day. My dear husband didn't mind that I went to a Moms' Night Out with my MOPS group. It was a blast! We did a game night and we each brought a reject gift. They were hilarious!

And today is Friday. I was supposed to work tonight. I am a counselor for overnight parties at the Fort Worth Zoo. The weather here is bad and supposed to get worse (as in possibly icy). The party cancelled, which I think was smart and responsible, so I have the evening off. I think tonight will be game night!

Oh, and I've been decided to be a substitute teacher starting this fall! My youngest enters kindergarten (which is all day here) and I've been thinking about what I want to do. I am a certified teacher and taught high school math for 4 years. I don't want to go back full time, but I think I'd really enjoy subbing. Who knows, maybe some day I'll go back full time.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend and I look forward to spending coffee time at your blogs :)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Monday Menu Plan...on Tuesday

I'm late! I do my menu plan on Sunday, but Sunday was spent moving my grandmother (which went really well). And I knew what I was going to do last night. Now I feel naked! I don't have a plan...yet! So here goes.

Monday - TexMex Chicken Soup
Tuesday - Hamburger Mac
Wednesday - leftovers
Thursday - Crockpot Chicken
Friday - Pizza
Saturday - Scrambled Eggs & Biscuits
Sunday - Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup

Aaaah, now I feel better!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Knives Giveaway!

Check out this cool knife giveaway over at the Provident Woman. I hope one of us wins!

A Bittersweet Sunday

This Sunday marks the end of an era for my family. My maternal grandmother is moving in with my uncle. She will no longer be living in the house that I knew for most of my life.

Both of my grandfathers are gone. Both of my grandmothers are still here (and I am blessed for that!). My father's mother was moved into a retirement center last year. That was also bittersweet. They had lived in the same house my entire life. I even lived there for 2 years during college (and they never asked for anything in return - truly a blessing). It's weird to not drive there when I go see her. But I am thrilled for her. She has so much to do at her new place. They have crafts and games (she loves to play 42). She stays busy and is happier than I've seen in forever. So I am thankful!

This coming Sunday is moving day for my other grandmother. Her eyesight is failing (macular degeneration) and it's becoming increasingly difficult for her to be on her own. Plus, she's in the country where it can be difficult for a rescue crew to find her house. And crime is on the rise in that area. She's also excited about moving. She won't be alone anymore. For that, I am really happy. I'll miss going to see her in that little country house, but I am thankful that she won't be alone and that she'll be well cared for.

I can still learn a lot from my grandmothers. They are from the Greatest Generation. I am blessed to have them in my life. And I'm doubly blessed that my boys will remember their great-grandmothers.

A funny story: My grandmother that we are helping move on Sunday was going to throw away her wedding clothes! My mom saw them in a black bag and suggested that she put them aside for me. I'm glad she did. I am going to have a quilt made from them :) I can't think of a lovelier keepsake.

Menu Planning - So How's That Working For Ya?

I decided to start menu planning a few weeks ago. I've officially been doing it for 2 weeks. On Sunday, after I assess my pantry and the grocery sales, I sit down and work out a plan for the upcoming week (Monday through Sunday). I have started a list of main courses in different categories and work from there. I include 1 or 2 nights of leftovers.

The verdict? I love it!! I'm not so tempted to go out to eat! We were eating out way too frequently (I'm too ashamed to admit how often). We have cut out eating out in the past, but life would happen and we'd slide back into this bad habit. Cooking at home saves so much money compared to eating out. Plus the food just tastes better than fast food and is generally healthier than restaurant food (I work to control the salt and fat).

I think cooking at home is one of the best frugal tips. We really are saving a lot of money!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Meatloaf Italiano

This is a variation of a recipe that my mom gave me. The original was the meatloaf we always had growing up - so yummy and moist! The big difference is that I deleted the brown sugar (not enough to matter) and substituted tomato sauce for paste and water.

1 lb ground beef (ground turkey also works very well)
1 cup fine soft bread crumbs
1 egg
1 chopped onion
1 chopped bell pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 TBS season salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp ground oregano
6 oz tomato sauce (use an 8 oz can and reserve the other 2 oz)

Place ground beef and bread crumbs in mixing bowl. Form a well in the center and add egg, onion, bell pepper and seasonings. Mix. Add tomato sauce and mix well. Pack mixture into loaf pan or small oval casserole. Bake at 400 for 35 to 45 minutes.

With the remaining tomato sauce, add a little garlic powder and oregano. Then spread on top the last 5 to 10 minutes of cooking.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Menu Plan Monday Jan 18

Last week was my first week on menu-planning. It went well! We stuck to the original plan, which I know won't always happen. And it kept us from eating out (except for one lunch as a family). Progress! So to join the other menus for this week at Organizing Junkie, here is this week's menu:

Monday: Homemade Mac-n-Cheese
Tuesday: Leftovers (I need to clean out the fridge!)
Wednesday: Chicken Rice Casserole
Thursday: Chili-topped Baked Potatoes
Friday: Pancakes/breakfast
Saturday: Chicken Tortilla Soup
Sunday: Leftovers if we aren't still at my Grandma's

To get my boys into the deal, I asked them for ideas for the menu this week. Guess which two are theirs.

Grandma's Pancakes

Growing up, when we had pancakes, we had these. I didn't even know pancakes came in a mix until I was much older.


1 cup flour
2 TBS sugar
1 TBS baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1 egg
2 TBS shortening (melted)

Mix dry ingredients. Add milk and egg. Mix in melted shortening. Cook on griddle at 450.

(I've left out the shortening and they are fine. You could substitute butter for the shortening.)

Mild Chili

After scouring some recipe sites, I came up with this recipe. It's not spicy (so that my boys will eat it), but it is hearty!


Brown 2 lbs ground meat (beef, turkey, sausage - I usually do one hot sausage with 1 beef or turkey) with 1 chopped onion, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder and onion powder. This is all season to taste. I go heavier on the chili powder than the cumin. I just keep adding until it smells like chili.

Add 1 can diced tomatoes (undrained) and 2 cans of pinto or red beans (drained and rinsed - I prefer pintos).

Mix 3 TBS flour into 1 can beef broth and add to meat.

Simmer for an hour or so.

TexMex Chicken Soup

I can't really call this Chicken Tortilla Soup because I don't put tortilla strips in it, but I do serve with tortilla chips if we have them!

1 bell pepper, chopped
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil
chicken broth
1 16-oz bag frozen black beans
1 16-oz bag frozen corn
1 lb chicken
chili powder
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
chopped black olives

Sprinkle the chicken with cumin and chili powder. Bake at 425 for 20 minutes.

While the chicken is baking, chop the bell pepper and onion and mince the garlic. Saute' in olive oil in 5 qt pot for 5 minutes or so.

Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, black beans, corn, cumin, chili powder, black olives (about 1/2 a can chopped) and chicken broth (enough to make it as soupy as you'd like).

Cut up the chicken into small chunks and add. Simmer at least 30 minutes.

Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, and tortilla chips.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

An A+ Day with My Son

I have two is 8 and the other is 4. This is about the younger son. We had a leisurely morning. Then the three of us met my DH for lunch. He took the two boys to his afternoon work appointment and then to Cabella's for some window-shopping, guy-style. It's been a relaxing evening.

Well, the younger son had a splinter in his finger and didn't want me to take it out. He showed it to me but didn't want me to touch it. He was afraid of the pain that might be there if I pulled it out. I asked him to let me see it and I promised that I wouldn't touch it. He was worried that I would go back on my word. So I worked with him until he let me see it. Then I pointed out that I kept my word and I had him put a bandaid on it (this was before dinner).

After the boys had their shower, he was sitting in my lap in his comfy jammies. I had grabbed nailclips to trim his nails and a pair of tweezers. The splinter needed to come out before it became infected or embedded. At first, he let me hold his hand. When he saw the tweezers, he froze with fear and pulled his hand away. I asked him if he wanted to be a big brave boy or if I needed Daddy to help hold him. He agreed to be brave...until he saw the tweezers again. So I set the tweezers down in order to get him to calm down. He admitted that he was scared. I replied, "You're scared." Then I calmed him down and asked him again if he wanted to be a brave boy. He said yes. So I had him look at an object in the opposite direction and talked to him while I quickly pulled the splinter out. He was so relieved that he cried with joy! He was so glad that it was gone and over and he didn't have to worry about it. He was so proud that he was brave. I reiterated that being brave means that you do something even when you are scared. and I pointed out that Mommy will always be truthful about things with him. I had him go tell Daddy how brave he was and could hear how happy he was with himself when he did.

How many times has God wanted me to be brave and do something scary and I didn't trust Him? If I ask my 4 year old to trust me, how much more can I trust my Heavenly Father? Infinitely! I need to remember this moment with my child so that I will have the courage to be brave when my Father asks of me something of which I'm afraid. FEAR - False Evidence Appearing Real.

Then, he had another moment that was great. He wrote the word "MOM" and he knew what he was writing. He asked me the other day to write "mommy." Instead, I had him hold the crayon while I wrote "MOM" and I said each letter as I wrote it. Of course, when he showed Daddy, Daddy was enthusiastic. And I was proud that he remembered! And he was thrilled that he had learned something.

How much more does our Heavenly Father cheer when we learn His ways and then act on them? So much more!

And finally, my younger son asks me if we can have secret passageways in our house for their Nerf wars. Of course my answer is no because it would mean cutting through walls. And it's a reminder to me that when my Heavenly Father says "No," there is a very good reason, even if I don't always know what that is.

Was the day perfect? Oh no, not by any stretch. But it won't be those parts that I remember. The ones written above are the memories.

Friday, January 15, 2010


Sounds corny sometimes, doesn't it?  Write down what your grateful for.

But there's something powerful in doing that.  Your focus shifts away from yourself.  And that is what we need to do in order to be what God intends for us.  We can't serve others if our thoughts are self-centered.  I'm very self-centered.  I need to have my focus redirected.

So, here is what I'm grateful for today:

1) While my heart doesn't understand the tragedy in Haiti, I know God is going to work mightily through it.
2) My husband - he is a kind, dear soul and he puts me first.  He is driven and passionate about his work.  He is a wonderful, sweet father to our boys.

3) My oldest son - he is in the third grade and it is such a joy to see his tender heart and his love for others.
4) My youngest son - he is four and he is creative and fun!  And he absolutely adores his big brother.

5) My parents - their love for their children (me and my three brothers) is wonderful!  Their marriage is a great example for us to follow.
6) My church - the people there have servants' hearts.  They love people no matter what.  And they teach the Bible, no matter how difficult or unpopular that may be sometimes.
7) That we will be debt-free except the mortgage by the end of the year.  (
8) That we in this country, in spite of our hard economic times, are richly and abundantly blessed.
9) For the roof over my head and the food in my pantry and clean, running water.
10) For my dear friends - too many to name, all very treasured.
11) For the wealth of information on the internet!!!  I've learned so many things!

What are you grateful for today?

Thursday, January 14, 2010


On, she asked everyone to share their favorite recipes for fixing veggies.  My boys will eat a variety of veggies just steamed with a little butter and maybe a tich of salt.

Here is a favorite recipe of mine - Chili Roasted Sweet Potatoes
2 to 3 medium sweet potatoes
2 TBS olive oil
1 TBS sugar
1 tsp chili powder
coarse salt and ground pepper (can leave out salt)

Preheat oven to 425.  Cut each potato lengthwise into 8 wedges.  Half each wedge crosswise.  Toss the potatoes with olive oil, sugar chili powder, up to 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper (You can toss them in a bowl or on a rimmed baking sheet).  Arrange wedges on a rimmed baking sheet.  Roast until potatoes are brown and tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.

This recipe was first shared by Candice at in the Recipe forum.  Best of Boards is a resource for consultants in direct sales businesses.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Sanctuary in my home

I follow a blog, Home Sanctuary, that is currently working on developing a home maintenance plan and routine, step-by-step.  Today was the first day.  I made up a list of things I need to do in order to maintain a welcoming home.  Now I need to assign a frequency to each task - daily, once a week, every other week, once a month, and not gonna happen are recommended frequencies (lol).  I'm adding twice a week and every 2 to 3 months.

Here's my list:

Vacuum Living and Dining Rooms
Sweep Kitchen
Pick Up
Make Beds
Laundry – 1 Load a Day
Get Ready For the Next Day
Wipe Kitchen Counters
Bathroom Sinks
Dining Table

Twice a Week
Dining Chairs
Take Out Trash/Recycling
File/Shred Paperwork

Once a Week
Vacuum Bedrooms and Bathmats
Tidy Porches
Change Sheets
Fronts of Kitchen Appliances (Top of Fridge)
Kitchen Cabinets
Scrub Kitchen Sink
Water Plants
Clean Out Couch
Wipe Down Trash Cans
Cut/Organize Coupons
Office Desk
Wipe Down Washer/Dryer
Yard Work
Menu Plan
Review Budget
Business Calls

Every Other Week

Once a Month
Wipe Down Walls/Doors
Clean Vents
Ceiling Fans
Change Air Filter
Pick Up Prescriptions

Every 2 to 3 Months
Change Oil in Car
Straighten Closets/Cabinets – front, bed, bath

One new habit

In an effort to completely avoid eating out, I am working on menu-planning. Last night, I sat down and started a list of entrees that we like. I am beginning with just the main course at the evening meal, but I may eventually branch out for a full all-day baby step at a time, though.

So here is this week's menu:
Monday: Homemade Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Tuesday: Chicken Tetrazzini
Wednesday: Quiche & Bacon
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Pork Chops
Saturday: Quesadillas
Sunday: Meatloaf

Friday, January 8, 2010

Simple, or just lacking talent

I'm a simple crafter. Okay, really, I lack talent, but I like to pretend. It's fun and it stretches my creative brain (which isn't all that creative - I'm more a logic person).

Here is what I intended to enter into a contest at The Crafting Pot but forgot to post in time. I took clear ornaments and mod-podged papers on them (the red is scrapbook paper, the others are tissue paper) and added a big bow. The white one was a gift for Jim's teacher. The silver was for my mother-in-law. The red was a hostess gift for a party I attended.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Biting the Bullet - Menu Planning

I need to menu plan. It feels constricting, but I know that, like budgeting, it will actually be freeing. Now, I need a way to approach it that will be simple enough that I'll stick to it.

My goal this week is just to eat at home each night (except for Girls' Night Out on Friday). I am also going to use this week to start a list of main courses that we enjoy. And I'll have a list of dishes I'd like to try. Sunday will be my day to work out a plan for the week. I'll see what I already have in the fridge and pantry and what's on sale at the stores. Then I'll choose off of my list. I think I'll plan 6 dinners. I know we can do at least one night on leftovers and I'll eat leftovers for lunch. I won't assign a specific meal to a specific day, but each night I'll pick something for the next day's dinner and pull meat out to thaw or marinate if needed.

My goal in doing this is to make the most of the grocery budget and to keep us from eating out (with the exception of an occasional $5 pizza from Little Caesars).

Now that it's in writing, I guess I'm committed!

Tonight is leftovers. Guess I need to figure out what I want to make tomorrow. Maybe chicken enchilada casserole.

Monday, January 4, 2010

2010 in 2010

My goal is to purge 2010 items in 2010. I'm not counting normal everyday trash. But anything that needs to be purged can count.

The Small Thing today at Home Sanctuary is to fill at least one 13-gallon trash bag with trash from around the house. Extra points for filling extra bags (up to 3 extra). So, yea! I get to combine two challenges! I'll update with my purge for the 2010 challenge.

Update #1: Okay, it's been slow going today. But I did get rid of a box of junk that's been on the back patio forever. I'm counting it as 1 item (even though there were many items in the box).

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Resolutions? Nah, not for me!

Happy New Year!

I'm not doing resolutions any more. I'm an all-or-nothing kind of gal and if I don't achieve my resolution perfectly, then I feel like a failure. So no more resolutions.

But I want to lose weight. I want a clean, sparkly house at all times. I want to be more patient. I want to be more faithful in my Bible studies.

And I will...I will lose weight. I will have a cleaner house (sparkly is a bit too much with 2 boys and a farrier for a husband). I will be more patient. And I will be more faithful in my Bible studies.

How am I going to achieve this? The same way my husband and I have worked on our baby step at a time. We attended Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University at our church back in the winter/spring of 2007. If you've never heard of this, check out Dave Ramsey's site here. We haven't used a credit card or taken out another loan since. We are on track to be debt-free except the mortgage by the end of the year, if not sooner. And it happened with 2 things...making small steps and just believing that we'd make it. It's not been easy and there have been many times that I felt like a failure - but we never gave up because our mindset had changed so much. There was no going back to the old way.

So I am going to apply the same principles to other areas of my life. I am going to write down small, manageable steps and I am going to believe in my ability to achieve them. I am going to work on my mindset so that going back to the old way is no longer an acceptable option for me.

I've seen others working on a fun challenge for this year - get rid of 2010 items this year. That's an average of 5.5 items a day (if you started on New Year's Day). It sounds like a lot until you look around at all the stuff in your house. Since I had already planned on working on the house tomorrow, I'm going to see how big of a start I can get on getting rid of 2010 items. I know there are holey socks in my boys' bureau. Does each sock count or is it 1 point for a pair? I guess we can make up our own rules! (I say 1 point per sock - odd socks can be used as cleaning rags).