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Monday, January 30, 2012

Menu Plan Monday and Easy Apple Quesadillas Recipe

We have decided to go back to eating meat a little bit (I know, that didn't last long). We gave ourselves permission to cheat and eat meat when we ate out, and as a result, we've been eating out more. So...not exactly what we were going for.

I also took the opportunity this week to look through a couple of my cookbooks for some new recipes to try out. It's been awhile since I did that, so it was nice to find some new options. Hope they're yummy!

Breakfasts:
  • Cereal/Oatmeal
  • Eggs/Toast
  • Leftover Waffles from Sunday dinner

Lunches:

  • Apple Quesadillas (recipe below)
  • PB&J x2
  • Grilled Cheese
  • Thai Veggie Burgers (Peas & Thank You cookbook)
  • Butternut Squash Soup
  • Leftovers

Dinners:

Monday: Homemade Mac & Cheese
Tuesday: Pinto Bean Tacos
Wednesday: Polenta with Mushrooms; Sauteed Broccoli and Carrots (Vegetarian Family Cookbook)
Thursday: Dollar Dinner at the Beacon
Friday: Ham & Scalloped Potatoes
Saturday: BBQ Chickpea Pizza (Peas & Thank You cookbook)
Sunday: Sausage, Egg, & Cheese Breakfast Sandwiches

Snacks:

Easy Apple Quesadillas:

Top a tortilla with thinly sliced apples. Add shredded cheddar cheese. Sprinkle a bit of garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika on top. Broil on high for 3-5 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and just starting to brown (broiling time may vary depending on your oven - watch carefully, since it doesn't take long!). These are easy and delicious, and we've been having them a lot lately.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

What I'm Reading...

Turn on the Oven Light While Cooking. I always do this, but it started because Jonah liked to peak at the food, and now it's just a habit when I'm cooking something. (The Simple Dollar)

Go Paperless at Home: 7 Ideas for Less Clutter, Less Stress, and More Free Mindspace
. Lots of small, but good ideas. (Offbeat Home)

My Four-Year-Old Son and His Eggplant Sibling. This is just adorable. (Offbeat Mama)

No, It's Not For the Kids; What I Want Is Important Too
. We went to the mall the other day. Not because the kids wanted to get out, but because I needed to. (Offbeat Mama)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bottlecap Snowmen

Aren't these bottlecap snowmen just the cutest little things? I saw this idea quite awhile ago, but we don't drink much, and I never remembered to ask people for their bottle caps, so it took awhile before I had even this many.

I painted the bottle caps white, which took several coats on each side. Using a hammer, nail and a piece of scrap wood, I pounded holes in the caps - two in the top one, two in the middle, and one in the bottom. That was actually really easy, although it was quite loud!

I threaded small pieces of craft wire through the holes and twisted it together in the back. I used a longer piece to make a loop on the top, and finished them off with some Sharpie faces and buttons.

Even though this was such an easy project, it's taken me the better part of a month to do. The other day, I was getting sick of how cluttered my dining room table was getting, so I decided to clear it off, and that included getting these guys out of the way.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

Breakfasts:
  • Cereal/Oatmeal
  • Eggs/Toast
  • Leftover Waffles

Lunches:

  • Egg Salad
  • Macaroni & Cheese
  • Grilled Cheese
  • Quesadillas
  • PB&J x2
  • Pumpkin Soup & Toast

Dinners:

  • Veggie Shepherd's Pie x2
  • Mashed Potato Soup x2
  • Dollar Dinner at The Beacon
  • Waffles
  • Spaghetti Alfredo with Cannellini "Meat"balls - we were going to have this last week, but I forgot to get the beans ready ahead of time, so we had Loaded Nachos, which I had planned for this week, instead

Snacks:

  • Yogurt
  • Red and Green Apples
  • Canned Peaches, Pears, and Mandarin Oranges
  • Peanut Butter Graham Crackers

Sunday, January 22, 2012

What I'm Reading...

Four Changes You Can Make to Help You Complete Undesirable Tasks. Now what positive thing can I connect with cleaning the bathroom? (Unclutterer)
Big Night Out. This is so true. (Jason Good)
Use Cold Water for Most Clothes Washing. I like the breakdown of what it actually saves. One day, when I have my own washer, I will probably implement this (with the exception of cloth diapers, if we're using them at the time). (The Simple Dollar)
Navigating the Road to Financial Success. It's always good to have a goal in mind. (RooMag)
5 Ways to Earn Rewards and Extra Money with Your Smartphone. I have a very dumb phone, but for those that have a smartphone, here are some ways to get more out of it. (Money Saving Mom)
4 Reasons I Use Cash Instead of a Credit Card. We use cash for several budget categories, but we buy gas with our credit card to get the cash back. (Simple Mom)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Iron Craft #1: Note Card Journal

I happened upon this project over a year ago and thought it was absolutely awesome, so I planned on starting it right away in 2011. And then I didn't. And then I found it again a few months later, but who wants to start a calendar type project in the middle of the year? So I knew in 2012 it was going to happen. If I remembered it. And I did!

You'll have to keep reading to find out how it works, but first, the detail shots of the postcard dividers for each month. They are all things that I love, or things I thought were pretty and inspiring at the time I was making them.

January: A mug of coffee (this photo was actually from an ad for Caribou Coffee, my absolute favorite).
February: It's hard to see, but it's Elizabeth Barrett Browning's sonnet that starts "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways." I cut up a book for this project. That was actually hard for me to do, but it was a book I had gotten for free specifically for craft projects, so it's okay?

March: The only postcard I kept as is, aside from adding a tag for the word "March".
April: I knew I wanted sheet music and a pretty flower, and the elephant just fit very nicely with this one. I used a combination of cutouts from magazines, greeting cards, and cardstock I already had, so no money spent on materials!

May: The background was a photo of blankets and pillows on a bed. I love sleep, but I don't get nearly enough of it.
June: William Wordsworth's "Wandered Lonely as a Cloud". One of my favorites since my freshman year of high school in Professor Kirk's class.

July: One of the best iconic photos there is, and a great way to celebrate the month of our anniversary.
August: Martha Stewart Living magazine had a spread awhile back of a bunch of old cookbooks from various decades, and I saved the few pages because I thought they were neat. I used them for both August and September.

September: More old cookbooks, these from the 1940s, because I love baking!
October: A cool map of part of Africa from a magazine, and a church from a greeting card. A nice reminder to go spread God's Word.

November: The third and final cut into the book (for now). There was this cool picture of a town in the front of the book that I stole a part of.
December: Candy canes, a snowflake, and a nativity. Pretty much everything but the tree (which I almost put in that corner, but the colors were off).

Here's my big stack of note cards, cut in half, one for each day. (We had a huge pile of note cards, and after I took some for this project, there were a whopping four left). Here's how this works: Each day you write the year and one sentence about what happened that day. The first year isn't as exciting, but every year after that you can look back and see what happened on that day.

The note card journal in action. Love it!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

Here's what's on our menu this week!
Breakfasts:
  • Apple Muffins from the freezer
  • Cereal/Oatmeal
  • Eggs/Toast

Lunches:

  • PB&J Sandwiches x2
  • Black Bean Soup with Tortilla Strips & Cheese x2
  • Grilled Cheese
  • Quesadillas
  • Muffin Tin Lunch

Dinners:

  • Black Bean Taco Salads
  • Mushroom Barley Soup & Homemade Bread x2
  • Dollar Dinner at The Beacon
  • Eggs, Toast, & Hashbrowns
  • Pizza (spinach, black olives, mushrooms, and tomatoes)
  • Spaghetti Alfredo with Cannellini "Meat"balls

Snacks:

  • Yogurt
  • Bananas
  • Green and Red Apples
  • Homemade Wheat Thins
  • Popcorn
  • Homemade Smoothie Packets from the freezer

Sunday, January 15, 2012

What I'm Reading...

Life Without a TV. We haven't had one running in our house for 3 years now. I don't miss it. (Design Sponge)

On "Carpe Diem" Motherhood, Chronos and Kairos Time, and the Old Lady at the Store. You don't have to enjoy every moment of motherhood, but focusing on the awesome moments instead of the hard ones is a great piece of advice. (The Happiest Mom)

Tips for Budget-Friendly Home Remodeling and Decorating. Add this to my someday list. (Money Saving Mom)

10 Inspiring Quotes to Help Get the Housework Done. (Life Your Way)

iHeart: Our Holiday Storage. My favorite part is the little note card list of what's in each tub. Smart! Also, I found this new organizing blog. That makes me happy in a nerdy way. (I Heart Organizing)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Homemade Potato Chips

A couple days ago I attempted to make my own potato chips, based on a few results from a Google search.

First I peeled and thinly sliced 3 russet potatoes. I am terrible at uniformly cutting the slices, but I tried. I put those in a big bowl and covered them with water and let them soak for about 15 minutes. Apparently that helps take out some of the starchiness and gets them crispier.

Then I sprayed a cookie sheet lightly with oil, put a single layer of slices on, and sprayed the tops with oil as well. Into a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes they went. Since I didn't have uniform slices, I had to take some of the thinner ones out a bit earlier, and some of the fatter ones took a bit longer.

I laid them out to cool on a paper towel (not necessary, as most of the oil cooks in or evaporates), and sprinkled them with seasoned salt.
The 3 potatoes didn't make very many chips, but that's okay. They were really tasty and crispy right away. Some were left over until the next day, and they were really rubbery and chewy. I'm not sure if that was because they needed to be in the oven a bit longer, or if that's just how they work. Regardless, I think if I make them again, I'll probably do a single serve batch still.

Definitely a keeper of an idea, though! It was easy, and I imagine you could do all sorts of spice combinations for some really yummy chips!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

Breakfasts:

  • Cereal/Oatmeal x4
  • Eggs/Toast x3

Lunches:

Monday: Muffin Tin Lunch
Tuesday: PB&J Sandwiches
Wednesday: Macaroni & Cheese
Thursday: Egg Salad Sandwiches
Friday: English Muffin Pizzas
Saturday: English Muffin Pizzas
Sunday: PB&J Sandwiches

Dinners:

Monday: Leftover Veggie Stir Fry
Tuesday/Wednesday: Jamaican Red Bean Stew
Thursday/Friday: White Bean Enchiladas with White Sauce
Saturday/Sunday: Veggie Pot Pie

Snacks:

  • Homemade Breakfast Bars
  • Yogurt
  • Green and Red Apples
  • Bananas
  • Canned Pears and Peaches
  • Homemade Smoothie Packets
  • Leftover Christmas Goodies
  • Popcorn

Sunday, January 8, 2012

What I'm Reading...

Get Organized in January With These Quick Uncluttering and Organizing Tips and Seven Routines and Guidelines to Live as an Unclutterer - No Superpowers Necessary. I've been on an organizing and uncluttering kick this past week. (Unclutterer)

Take Little Steps, Not Big Ones. A good reminder that the little steps add up. Slow and steady wins the race. (The Simple Dollar)

Avoiding Lifestyle Inflation. I know that as our income has increased, we've sometimes fallen into spending more, just because we can. (The Simple Dollar)

5 Simple Ways to Organize Without Spending Big Bucks
. My favorite is #5: Recycle. Use containers/boxes that you already have around the house. Also, check out the rest of the "5 Simple Ways" posts linked in this article. (I'm An Organizing Junkie)
Iron Craft 2012 has started
I'm actually going to try to participate this time, since the challenges are every other week. (Just Crafty Enough)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Few Things I've Been Up To...

I've been busy the past few days, working on finishing some things that have been on my to-do list for awhile.

One of my favorite organizing tips is to look at something that is bothering you, or does not work, and figure out a way to make it work. For instance, we scan statements and important papers and file them digitally, but I was falling behind because things get stacked on our printer/scanner, and I don't move them to quick scan things as they come in. So, I found this tray to keep chargers, headphones, and the camera, among other things, so I can quick move it all, scan something, and put it back. Now the system works!


Another area that had been bothering me was our entryway. We rent, so we can't put huge holes in the wall, which means no fancy coatrack/shelf contraption like I eventually want. Our only large closet is currently our storage area, and it's kind of difficult to get to the part to hang coats. As a result, they kept ending up in a pile on the floor. Someone suggested 3M Command Hooks, so I went out and spent a little over $8, and I am so happy with the result! Since they are 3lb. hooks, Jesse's coat was too big, but his ends up on a dining room chair most days, so it's okay.


I found this Play Doh set for Jonah for Christmas on sale at Kohl's (and got it for free using a $10/$10 coupon I had gotten in the mail!), and he loves it! He especially likes when I come play too, so I have been spending some creative time sculpting lately.


I took the Christmas tree down, but put up more Christmas cards. They are now across both windows, as well as on the air conditioner cover. We have more, but I ran out of little clothespins, and I don't have a good spot for more, so this will be it for this year. A little bit of festive Christmas cheer to last into winter.

I've also:
  • Spent time updating the baby books (Jonah's is done, unless we go on his first boat or train ride)
  • Switched out the pictures in the frames around the house so they include Matthew (only took me 9 months!)
  • Caught up on the scanning I talked about above
  • Made homemade smoothie packets
  • Switched Matthew's clothes to 12-18 monthers
  • Gotten rid of my expired 2011 coupons

Maybe this isn't the most exciting stuff for you, but for me, it means my home is becoming more organized, my to-do list is much shorter, and I feel accomplished! What have you gotten done in the past few days/weeks?

No More Crafty Link-Up

While I enjoy looking at other peoples' link-up blog posts, the crafty link-ups are getting to be more of a chore for me than a fun thing, so I'm going to be done with those, for now at least. I might throw one in every now and then, but nothing scheduled like it has been.

If you want to see past link-ups, just go here.

Hopefully getting rid of this weekly post means more time for projects! :)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

Happy New Year! We are planning on eating mostly vegetarian this year, but there will be exceptions. Like this week's menu. We had planned on using up all of our meat before this week, but sickness and vacation happened, so we have a bit left. And once the Dollar Dinners start up on Thursdays, we will have whatever is served, which will almost always include meat.

Breakfasts:
  • Cereal/Oatmeal x4
  • Eggs/Toast x2
  • Sweet Potato Muffins from the freezer

Lunches:

Monday: Macaroni and Cheese
Tuesday: Egg Salad Sandwiches
Wednesday: Veggie Noodle Soup
Thursday: PB&J Sandwiches
Friday: Leftover Baked Potatoes
Saturday: Tortillas, Beans, Cheese
Sunday: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Dinners:

Monday/Tuesday: Crockpot White Bean and Sausage Soup
Wednesday: Sausage Mushroom Quiche
Thursday: Loaded Baked Potatoes
Friday: Black Bean Taco Bowls
Saturday/Sunday: Veggie Fried Rice

Snacks:
  • Homemade Breakfast Bars
  • Yogurt
  • Green and Red Apples
  • Bananas
  • Canned Pears and Peaches
  • Homemade Smoothie Packets
  • Leftover Christmas Goodies
  • Popcorn
  • Homemade Potato Chips (if I get ambitious and find a recipe)
  • Extra Sweet Potato Muffins

If we have lots of snack options in the house, we tend to do better with our eating as a whole, so that's what I'm going for. We'll see how it works out...

Sunday, January 1, 2012

What I'm Reading...

2012 Coupon Insert Schedule Available. I like to know which weekends will be coupon heavy. These occasionally change, but are usually pretty accurate. (Deal Seeking Mom)

What Baby Poop Has Taught Me About Being a Parent
. Besides the fact that talking about poop is now a frequent occurrence... (Offbeat Mama)

6 Free Resources to Help You Get Organized in 2012
. I don't know if I'll use any of these specifically, but I like the idea of a personalized weekly cleaning checklist. (Money Saving Mom)