November 24, 2013

The Advent of Advent!

I am being so good and not decorating for Christmas before Advent begins! But Advent festivities take a lot of prep for me, so I am starting to get myself in gear. I have my projects lined up!

-- We are making clay ornaments for our Jesse tree (starting these today, since they have to dry!). I use this baking soda & cornstarch clay recipe:

-- I want to try making these Christmas Baubles (and perhaps stringing them in a garland?):

-- I'm learning to make wreaths! Our big fir tree lost a limb so a friend of mine showed me how to wrastle the branches into wreaths with floral wire. Maybe I'll put up a picture, but the ones I have made so far are definitely a bit...oval.

-- And of course we want to make paper snowflakes and stick them up everywhere.

Have you started your Christmas decorating, or your decorating prep? What is your project list?

<3 courtney="" p="">

November 8, 2013

Another Day, Another Dinner

This week my planned dinners were:

 Monday: Pasta With Two Twists (Recipe Follows)
 Tuesday: Onion Chopped Steak with gravy, roasted potatoes, and green beans
 Wednesday: Braised Moroccan Chicken with corn and peas
 Thursday: Broiled Pork Chops with roasted Butternut Squash and peas
 Friday: Homemade Mac'N'Cheese (with leftover pork chops and peas)
 Saturday: Leftovers!

 And now, the recipe.

Pasta With Two Twists
Serves 6

1 lb short pasta
1 lb bacon, chopped into bite size pieces (You can use less, I just knew I was going to be feeding *four* hungry men (plus me and Addie) with this dinner so we'd need that much.)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 can (14.5 oz) chopped tomatoes with onion and herbs (Or, you can make your own*)
1 cup broth
1 cup smooth-style spaghetti sauce
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup regular sour cream
(Cheese, if desired)

1. Cook the pasta according to package directions.
2. Meanwhile, brown the bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat. When it's cooked to your desired level of crispy-ness remove from pan with slotted spoon, and set aside. Drain most of the bacon fat (save it for cooking some veggies in later on in the week!), leaving about 1-2 TBSP in the pan.
3. Add the garlic to skillet, and saute until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add the onion and cook until the onion is tender, about 3 minutes.
4. And the basil, tomatoes with their juice, spaghetti sauce, broth, and stir. Cook until the sauce comes to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until ready to serve. Add the green peas to the skillet about five minutes before serving.
5. When the pasta is done, drain it well and return to it's cooking pot. Toss the sour cream with the hot pasta until the noodles are well coated. Serve the pasta topped with sauce and cheese.

*To make your own just chop up a can of plain whole tomatoes and season with dried basil, oregano, and parsley, onion powder, and just a pinch of celery salt.

Ta da! Dinner. :)

(Also, can you tell that I'm enjoying the bacon I got on sale? It's made regular appearances since I bought it. Whoo!)

This is actually an adaptation of a recipe from my "Cheap, Fast, Good" cookbook which, I think, was one of the very first cookbooks I ever purchased after Noel and I got married. I got it from the library at one point and liked it so much that I went out and bought it. And today I discovered that the gals who wrote it now have a website! I'm excited to see their new recipes.

Have a great almost-the-weekend-day, y'all.


October 31, 2013

My Shopping Orders

Alright, I'm sure you have been holding your breath just waiting on the edge of your seat for this post. I have been  avoiding packing working hard on it all week.

First off: I always look at what’s on sale around town. I get my grocery adds in the mail on Tuesday’s (and Wednesday’s, and sometime’s Thursday’s…) and I take note of anything that’s a super-duper steal, especially meat; the other week I got pork chops for $1.29 a pound! I also go online to and check out their “Just4U” section, which I love. It saves me so much money! With my card specials I get $5 off $20 worth of groceries almost every other week. Also, Dave’s Killer Bread, the sprouted kind, for $3.29 a loaf about once a month. Jaw-dropping, really. (Not on sale it's $5.69. Ouch!)
   If I find something that’s at a stomping price I’ll try to plan the majority of my meals to be as inexpensive as possible so that I can stock up on the sale. Otherwise I just make whatever the heck I feel like, within reason. (As much as I feel like eating steak every night, it’s just not fiscally feasible.)

Next: P-L-A-N. I know some people go *all* out here (breakfast, snacks, lunches, more snacks, and dinners), other’s don’t do any planning; I am in the happy middle. I know what we’re eating for breakfast most days anyway (Eggs, with toast and sometimes I manage to include veggies).  I keep it simple with lunches (leftovers!). And I have a list of “grab-n-go” snack foods that I try to keep stocked (fruit, veggies, bread, cheese, yogurt, etc.). So for me, planning consists of dinners and checking the pantry and fridge to make sure we’re not out of staples.

Then the (not) hard part; shopping! Planning makes my grocery trips so easy. Or at least as easy as it can be with a two-year-old in tow. I go once a week, on Mondays. Armed with a list I get in, get what I need, and get out. One tiny trick; I go to the discount store *first*. Their stock is constantly changing, but as a general rule they have the *best* prices on bacon (all natural, raised without antibiotics, none of the –ites or –ates , for two bucks a pound last week), sometimes cheese, and canned beans (when they have them).  Then I go to Safeway and/or Top Foods, and wrap it up at the farm stand and health-food store.  Also, I usually go to the farm stand twice a week, once on Monday (my regular shopping day) and again on Thursday. I found I throw away much fewer scary looking veggies this way.

In the past I’ve done the whole “cash only” thing but I’m currently just using my debit card, which also works! 

How much I spend: Honestly, it varies. I try to just spend $50 a week, but there’s also the usual Costco trip about once a month where we spend probably $60 on food, and we bought a quarter of beef last year which worked out to about $35 per month. (So very, very worth it.) Total, we’re at about $300 a month for a family of three (about to be four).

And there you have it! What about you? Are you a super-duper planner? How often do you shop? Let me know!

Have a great Reformation Day! 

October 28, 2013

A Weeks Worth of Dinners

 Alrighty! It's Monday, i.e., grocery shopping day. Which means yesterday I sat down and tried to figure out what to make for dinner this week. I think I managed to come up with things that will keep everyone happy (and full) for the most part.

Monday – Steak, Butternut Squash, Green Beans
Tuesday – Beans and Rice w/ Sausage and Kale
Wednesday – Avocado Chicken Parm*, spaghetti squash, peas
Thursday – Pancakes, Bacon, Fruit
Friday – Pork tacos*
Saturday – Leftover day! 
Sunday – Mom and Dad’s

*These are new recipes that I'm trying for the first time this week, I'll let you know how they turn out. 

 Now, you can see that I've got all those meals assigned to specific days and while that doesn't mean that I'll absolutely be making them on those days, I usually do. It helps me when I'm buying vegetables to know which ones I can get on Monday and which ones need to wait. For instance, the veggies for pork tacos have a much higher chance of being scary if I get them five days before I need them, so they'll be picked up on Thursday. Also, I can look at my schedule and pick out really easy meals for days when I have stuff going on the afternoons and more time-intensive meals when I'm supposed to be home all day. Planning is awesome.

What's for dinner at your house this week? You can let us know in the comments! (You know, that little button down there that doesn't get a whole lot of use right now...)

Have a joyful Monday!

October 26, 2013


You know this picture makes you hungry....
Do you have ingredients like this lying around? Yes? Excellent. Then you have dinner at your fingertips! If you don't, no worries, these ingredients can be found at the nearest grocery store.

serves 2-4, depending on how hungry/pregnant the people are
8 oz bacon, chopped into pieces
2 cloves of garlic
3-4 sweet potatoes, grated (about 4 cups) To save time, grate the potatoes while the bacon is cooking.
1/2 - 1 cup tomato, chopped
Cheddar Cheese

In medium stockpot (mine is 4 quarts) brown the bacon until it reaches the desired level of crispy-ness. Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the garlic to the left over bacon fat and saute until fragrant, then add the grated potatoes. Cook the potatoes, stirring occasionally for about 10-15 minutes, until they're almost soft, or longer if you prefer them really cooked. (Tasting is the best way to tell how done you like them, so do it!) When the potatoes are done, add the tomato and stir until they're warmed through. Add the bacon. Serve sprinkled liberally with cheese, and enjoy!

This dish is very, very flexible. Really. The recipe is more like... guidelines... than actual rules. Add more, add less; whatever tickles your fancy! I might add Kale to give it some green next time. Remember: If you want to get the most out of your meals, you have to eat the rainbow, and I'm not talking about skittles. :-P

For me, this dish was also *super* inexpensive! Yay! Using bacon from the super sale, the cost for the *whole* thing was less than $4. You heard me, $4! Even if Noel and I eat the whole thing at one meal (ahem) then that's still a whole, good-for-you, meal at two bucks a person. It's hard to beat that.

Happy Eatings!

October 24, 2013

Grocery Budgets?

This is just a quick check in to see if anyone would be interested in some meal planning/grocery budget/shopping posts... I've found some bloggers definition of a budget to be *much* more luxurious than I currently operate on. I'd love to share and be shared with when it comes to getting the most bang for your buck at the grocery store!

September 4, 2013

May You Be Strengthened

"May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." - Colossians 1:11-14
(emphasis mine)

 We are being strengthened for endurance and patience with joy! When the baby wakes up at 5 and never goes back to sleep; joy! When she decides to practice pouring with bowls of popcorn in the living room; joy! When we are waiting for plans to take shape and progress to happen; joy! Why? Because we have already been rescued from darkness and transferred to the kingdom of the Son! Forgiven; joy!