Wednesday, October 22, 2008

WORDLESS WEDNESDAY - Want Some Mushrooms for Dinner???


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

KITCHEN TIP TUESDAY - Keepin' it Clean & Keepin' it Real

I have a small kitchen. I love to cook. My kids love to cook. My kids love to eat. A lot. I even used to sell a decorated cake or two from my kitchen. (If you work for the IRS, please disregard this remark.)

Did I mention that I have a small kitchen??

My small kitchen leads me to my big tip of the day. KEEP IT CLEAN, SISTA!

I struggle in this area, as I have more dishes than counterspace sometimes. What has helped me is that crazy Flylady. (See the link in my sidebar.) I have learned to unload the dishwasher first thing in the morning, after I am done getting dressed. I have learned to fill a sink with soapy water when I'm cooking so that I can wash as I go. I have learned to make sure I have a shiny sink at night before I go to bed. All these things make life in the kitchen good.

Here's my dry and shiny sink. And no, I did NOT remove all the stuff before snapping the shot!!

Now to keep it real, I'll tell you that I don't always succeed with Miss Flylady's instructions. That's okay. I figure that having an empty dishwasher, a soapy-water sink, and a shiny sink before bed 4 or 5 days out of 7 is a complete success! But when I do keep it clean and shiny, cooking is sooooo much easier!

Monday, October 20, 2008


Here's what's cookin' this week:

Monday - Peanut butter on toast, chocolate milk
Tuesday - Cinnamon Oatmeal with apple chunks, milk
Wednesday - Bean & cheese tacos, milk
Thursday - Scrambled eggs & toast, milk
Friday - Peanut butter on toast, chocolate milk
Saturday - Cinnamon rolls, bacon, fruit, milk
Sunday - Sausage 'n gravy, homemade biscuits, fresh fruit

Monday - Left over pizza, yogurt, apples
Tuesday - Deli Ham Sandwiches, brownies, carrot sticks, chips
Wednesday - Peanut Butter & Honey sandwiches, apples, brownies
Thursday - Mac 'n cheese with sliced franks, pudding cups, sliced cucumbers
Friday - Deli Ham Sandwiches, snickerdoodle cookies, carrot sticks, chips

Monday - Sausage kolaches, Salad, ice cream for dessert
Tuesday - Beans with bacon and cheese topping, homemade tortillas, fruit cup
Wednesday - Taco Soup with tostadas
Thursday - Slow Cooker Orange Chicken over steamed rice, green beans w/ fried onion topping
Friday - Family Fridge Buffet! (ada, leftover night)
Saturday - Day at Fiesta Texas! Every year we go to China Sea to pig out at the buffet after hanging out at the park all day.
Sunday - Sunday Chicken Casserole, peas & carrots, rolls


Next Sunday, October 26, will be a mini freezer-cooking day. We'll work on the Make-a-Menu system again. Join me as we do a "chicken session" and cook up some $1.29 chicken breasts into Sunday Chicken Casserole, 2 pans of Chicken Enchiladas, Stuffed Shells, and my Almost Famous Chicken Patties.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


I have an announcement to make:
Don't clip any coupons until you're ready to use the coupons!

I've been clipping coupons for at least 20 years, and I've used all sorts of methods. My favorite method used to be clip, sort, file, tote entire file to store... It works, but it requires too much time spent in the store.

I've come up with the world's easiest form of coupon use: AND YOU WON'T CLIP THE COUPON UNTIL YOU'RE READY TO USE TO USE THE COUPON!

But, you ask... "How will I know if I have the coupon that's needed, when it's needed? And once I finally determine that I need a particular coupon, how I you locate it if I haven't clipped, sorted, and filed?"

Well, let me break it down for you:


Buy yourself a plastic accordian file like this one:

This one came from The Container Store, but they have them at office supply stores and discount stores like Wal Mart and Target.

It came with stick-on labels. When you set yours up, be sure to use the "month" labels.

Keep the coupon intact, just the way you pull them out of the newspaper. Using a marker, label the front of the coupons with the date and type. For example I write "ss" for Smart Source and "rp" for Red Plum.

File the coupons in chronolical order, behind the appropriate month tab.

File your local grocery store flyer in the front pocket.

** Go to
Coupon Mom and register for free.
** Click on the "coupon database" link, located on the left side of the page, in the sidebar.
** Enter your username and password.
** On the next page, Click on "coupon database". It's about the 4th choice on the list.

At this point you can do one of two things:
1. Print the entire database, staple it together, and insert it front of your file.
2. Bookmark this page/site. You will use it in the next step each time you shop.

Grab a cold drink, cup of coffee, or tea. Make sure you have scissors. You're gonna clip! Basically, you will cross reference your store sales flyer and your shopping list with the database list. Sounds complicated, but it's actually very easy, as you will see.

I'm going to teach by example:

At our Super S, Ziplock Bags are on sale this week for .75 off. I'd like to maximize this sale, especially since Super S doubles coupons! At the website, I typed in "ziplock" in the search window. Ziplock brand bags popped up, and I discovered that a coupon was in the Smart Source flyer on 10/12 (last Sunday.)

I went immediately to the "October" section of my file, pulled out the Smart Source flyer that I had marked with the date, found the coupon & clipped.


To make staying organized even easier, make a chart for all your coupon finds before you start pulling out flyers and clipping. That way you'll only pull out each flyer once, instead of going back and forth.

For example, I would pull out a sheet of paper, draw several columns then cross it with several rows so I get a checkboard. Since the database listed the Ziplock coupons being in the 10/12 Smart Source flyer, I would write 10/12 SS in one column. Underneath that date I would write "Ziplock - .75/1" In the other squares, I would write the dates and names of coupons as I find them. If I found another coupon for that date listed, I would write it down in the corresponding square.

When I'm done looking my coupons up, I need only use my chart to pull flyers and clip coupons. I'll pull each flyer only once, even though I'm looking for several coupons for several stores.

Once you follow the steps to do this, it won't seem so complicated.

Although my system is EASY, it does require a little time investment, but not as much time that's required if you were to clip ALL coupons, sort, file, and then search through piles of paper scraps for the ONE that you want. And The best thing is the payoff. It is absolutely fabulous! You save TONS by matching coupons to sales.

If you try this out, please post a comment to let me know how it goes!


I received this surprise award today from Through Thick and Thin. Go over there and look at her pics. Some super soothing pictures of the Cape Cod area. How relaxing! (Thanks for the award!!)

Part of accepting the award is:

* Displaying the awardlinking back to the person who gave it to you

* Paying it forward & nominating 7 blogs
* Adding links to those seven blogs
* Leaving comments on their blog telling them you gave them an award
* Enjoying the award

Today I pass this award on to:

Teresa at Mexican American Border Cooking. Stop by today to learn how to make Pepitas!

Tina at Mommy's Kitchen. She has some fabulous kid-tested meals to share. Also, the meals are tested on really cute kids!!

Please read Donna's post regarding Michigan's Food Stamp Challenge at her site, The Helpful Homemaker. This idea just amazes me. I'll do a similar post soon, after I discover what the State of Texas allows per person per day.

Linda at Short Pump Preppy is so funny. Hop on over for a laugh!

Simple Mom is hosting "12 Weekly Projects for a More Peaceful Season".

Patrice is the editor of a blog called Spiritual Woman Thoughts. She's a freelance writer and always has something to say that will encourage you.

Milehimama is raising 7 kids. Yes, I said 7!! How does she do it?? Stop by her blog and take a look!

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Okay the title of this post just makes me giggle for two reasons. First of all, we all know that kids are like puppies and kittens. They can never truly be tamed and organized. Second, I am not the queen of organization... I'm just your average working mom, trying to stay on top of daily chaos and clutter.

Keeping kids organized can be a huge struggle, especially when both parents work full time! There are a few things you can do to keep your busy kids organized. The truth is, you'll probably always be behind the 8-ball if they are involved in a variety of activities, and no system is fail-proof, but at least you can say you tried!

Here's what we do at our house. (Okay - we intend on doing this, we try to do this, for the most part we do this... and sometimes we're just flying by the seat of our pants!!)

* Assignment books must come out of the backpack first thing when we get home. Homework comes next. This is when I sign papers, etc.

* Soccer items stay in a soccer bag, cheerleading items in the cheer bag, etc. Just grab a bag and go.

* Children can write events on a family calendar and younger kids can give you papers with important dates. My kids know that if it doesn't go on the calendar, it doesn't exist. It's their job to make sure it gets to the calendar.

* Do it all the night before: pack a lunch (mine pack their own lunch), get the backpack ready and set by the door, choose clothes and accessories (from head to toes!).

* I keep a binder for all the important papers that come into the house. When I file papers right away, then I'm be able to my your hands on it quickly when I need to! Of course, as much as I try, the paper monster occassionally rears its ugly head!

* Clothes must go INTO the dirty clothes hamper in order to make it into the washing machine. Favorite jeans and tops can stay on the floor forever, as far as I'm concerned, but they cannot be worn if they're dirty. Amazingly, the favorite jeans end up in the hamper, just as I've asked.

Finally to make your own organizational system work, just stick to the basics:

1) Develop a routine, and stick to a it as much as possible.
2) Have a place for everything. Everything goes in its place, or it goes in the trash.

We parents have to stay on top of this and give our little disorganized mushy-brained kids a zillion nudges a day. By keeping some sort of organization system we can prevent a little frustration for everyone!

Friday, October 17, 2008


"Yay!!! Yipee!! The cold front is here!!!" Okay - it's not really a "cold" front... maybe we can call it a "cool" front. So, I'll just start over right here:

"Yay!!! Yipee!! The cool front is here!!!" Alright - so it's not even really a "cool" front. Let's just agree to call it a "not so hot as hell that it makes you wish you could wear shorts to work even though it would freak out your coworkers and all the students" front. So, here it goes:

"Yay!!! Yipee!! The "not so hot as hell that it makes you wish you could wear shorts to work even though it would freak out your coworkers and all the students" front is here!!!"

Why do I get excited about cooler air, you ask? Well, the a/c is costing me a small fortune! My September electricity bill was a whopping $450.00. I almost fainted twice ~ once when I looked at the bill and another time when I wrote the check!

Then came October. We were turning off lights, using the toaster oven instead of the oven, hanging jeans on the line, had raised the household temp to 80 degrees during the day, and generally doing whatever we could to reduce the bill. The bill had only gone down to $400.00. I almost fainted only once this time, as my head was still numb from the September bill.

Here lately, since it has cooled off just a bit, I added something new to my attempt to reduce the electrical bill: I've been turning off the a/c during the day when we're at work and kids are at school. Normally, I wouldn't do this since I've heard that by turning off the system you just cause it to work twice as hard at the end of the day when your house is heated up like a convection oven on high. But since it has been slightly not-as-hot lately, I've been turning it off at 7:00 a.m. and turning it back on around 5:30 p.m.

I have even considered not turning the a/c on at all and just flinging opening up the windows to enjoy the cooler, fresh air, but if you've ever had a dog trap a skunk under your bedroom window at 2 a.m., and if you've ever woken up to the stench of skunk all throughout your house, then you'd know why I don't sleep with the windows open. Peeeeewwwww!!! The air just doesn't smell so "fresh"!

Let's see what the November bill looks like when it arrives in a couple of weeks.

We could be sleeping with the skunks soon.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Blogs are awesome! So many people know so much, and they’re willing to share their knowledge with anyone who will take a minute to read their blog. I’ve learned so much from the fabulous people who hang out in The Land of Blog. THANKS!!!!

We did our part for the community on Sunday afternoon ~ we watered our lawn. Of course, that means that we single-handedly brought on the drought-breaking rain we enjoyed this week!

We bought a “new to us” Explorer in May. We had waited a long time to replace the old minivan. I’m so glad we did that when we did. The timing was just right.

I’ve complained in the past that my house was too small, furniture outdated, carpet needs replacing, etc. Well, as I look around, I’m just glad that we have a nice home to live in. We have more than most, and we have everything we need. Thank you, Lord.

I’ve received GREAT training over the past 20 years in how to make 50-cents look like a dollar! I’m so grateful that this is part of the way I shop. It is recession-proofing my grocery budget!

A good menu, combined with awesome coupon shopping, totally saves my budget! In addition, the menu saves so much time and frustration! I can’t remember the last time we ordered a pizza or ran through the fast-foodie lane. Going out to dinner is an event, and is fun because it’s not every day!

I work for an alternative school, so my job is somewhat recession proof. As long as kids continue to misbehave, I will have a job. Sad, isn’t it?

The more time I spend with kids who misbehave, the more I appreciate the kind of people my kids are becoming. One of my girls has a beautifully gentle spirit and is always paying attention to who needs help so that she can be the first to step in. My oldest daughter (by 5 minutes!) is highly spirited and is always ready to stand up for what she believes in. She has a strong nature, and a deep sense of justice. Of course, I can’t take credit for these characteristics. It’s part of their GIFT. I’m so proud of them.

When money’s tight, it could be easy to get upset with each other about how much money is spent and why money is spent. I’m so blessed that we are on the same page!


I can’t imagine going through anything, difficult or easy, fun or unenjoyable, positive or negative, without hope and faith! The Lord offers peace and comfort, rest and rejuvenation.
He is so good!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Spotneck the Goat


Hey, you... Yes, you... You've been gifted, did you know that? I have been too!

I've been reading "The Cure for the Common Life" by Max Lucado. Actually, this is the second time I've read it. The first time I read it, I sort of just skimmed and looked for the high points. I quickly got the point of the book, and I hurriedly answered the questions on the first section of self-discovery. Then I put the book and my notes away.

When I first read this book, I connected with the news that I am gifted. Cool! I discovered what I've always known about myself... I'm creative, and I like to make things, and I like to plan things, and I like to make up things that are new, and I like to get others excited about doing new things too. While I've always known these facts about myself, I didn't know I had received a GIFT.

If I'd known I'd received a GIFT, I'd have been a little more appreciative. I'd have used the GIFT more. I'd have tried to show the Gift Giver how much the GIFT means to me and how much the Gift Giver means to me.

Since I'm reading this book for the second time, I'm also working on the second section of study. It's quite an eye-opener! I've learned that my GIFT should never have been hidden away or kept to myself. Not only do I not really get to enjoy the gift, but I also insult the Gift Giver who picked out this GIFT especially for me, even before I was a twinkle in my Mama's eye.

So what should I do now? I still have this GIFT. I've unwrapped it and used it in private many times. I didn't tell anyone who gave me the gift, and I don't think I ever said "Thank You" to the infinitely generous Gift Giver for giving it to me.

Well, I think it's time to play with my GIFT. But this time I won't use it in private, instead I'll remember to invite others to play with me! And I'll definitely remember to say an appreciative "Thank You" each and every day to the Gift Giver. (I'm so glad that the Gift Giver loves me enough to forgive me for forgetting to say "Thanks".)

Lastly, I won't worry about whether or not I think I'm equipped to have the GIFT. I won't hide when I use it out of fear that someone won't like it or will judge how I use it, I'll just take a risk and use it wherever I'm at!

So what about you? Like I said, you received a GIFT too. What'd ya get? And what are you doin' with it? It's time to go out and show it off and tell everyone Who gave it to you!!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Hello Again!

Well, hello old friends!! I'm sorry I haven't posted in such a loooonnnnggg time, but this busy life of working mom to two tweenagers just has seemed to leave me no extra time! I thank the good Lord for my menu... It has SAVED me over the past 2 months!

What has captured so much of my time lately, you ask? I have been driving and driving and driving. I have waited at soccer fields and church parking lots. The calendar is BURSTING, life is GOOD, and here is the Fall line-up:

* FFA - Goats arrived in late August. Our girls, the Tweenkies (okay - they are twins and they are tweens. I'm being clever and corny and dorky all at once!), work with their animals daily and they have already participated in their first all-day prospect show of the year. Tweenkie #1 came in 4th place, and Tweenkie #2 came in 3rd place. I'll post pictures of Spotneck and Buddy soon!

* Soccer - WOW! All our games are at 8:00 a.m. on Saturdays. Practices are on Mondays and Thursdays. Those games, though, are WAY too early!!! I need a nap!

* Pep Squad - The Tweenkies are having so much with Wednesday afternoon practices and Thursday football games. They get to ride the bus to out of town games and cheer at the games, and the fact that they have grown old enough to do this just takes my breath away. Where has the time gone?? ((Sigh))

* CCD - The CCD year is off to a running start and Tweenkies have lessons every Wednesday night.

* Youth Group - My friend, Red, and I have started a Junior High Youth Group at our church. We had a blast at our first meeting! The group named their group the "J'Town Saints". They are too cute!

This crazy life is so awesome! I wouldn't trade it for the world. It is a blessing to be able to share all the excitement and thrills that my girls are experiencing as they grow up.

So what about that Make-a-Menu stuff, you ask? Well, I'm still at it, and what a life saver (AND A MONEY SAVER!!!) it has been!!!

Here's the line-up for this week:

Sunday - Pan sausage & scrambled egg breakfast tacos, juice & milk
Monday - Peanut butter on toast, chocolate milk
Tuesday - Cinnamon Oatmeal with apple chunks, milk
Wednesday - Bean & cheese tacos, milk
Thursday - Scrambled eggs & toast, milk
Friday - Peanut butter on toast, chocolate milk
Saturday - Fried eggs, bacon, fruit, biscuits, milk

Monday - Left over pizza, yogurt, apples
Tuesday - Deli Ham Sandwiches, brownies, carrot sticks, chips
Wednesday - Peanut Butter & Honey sandwiches, apples, brownies
Thursday - Mac 'n cheese with sliced franks, pudding cups, sliced cucumbers
Friday - Deli Ham Sandwiches, snickerdoodle cookies, carrot sticks, chips

Sunday - Savory stroganoff-style beef stew over steamed wild rice mix, peas, asparagus, rolls, Grandma's cheesecake
Monday - Beans with bacon and cheese topping, cornbread, fruit cup
Tuesday - Pancakes, sausage, applesauce, scrambled eggs
Wednesday - Crockpot roast chicken, homemade mac 'n cheese, garden salad, garlic toast
Thursday - Family Fridge Buffet! (aka, leftover night)
Friday - Chalupas, fruit cup
Saturday - Kids go to Nana's, Mom and Dad go on a date!!!

Now that I've got my blogger hat back on, I promise more Make-A-Menu lessons real soon! We'll be entering the world of using the FREEZER for our menu planning. Stay tuned!!!