Friday, January 31, 2014

Pioneer Woman's Baked French Toast

While I'm having a crafting standstill my baking continues.  I've tried numerous French toast casserole recipes and none of them have turned out too well.  They are either mushy, overcooked, or not the right flavors to suit me. 

I got the Pioneer Woman's Holiday cookbook for Christmas this past year and was so excited to start cooking out of it.  My mom works for the school system and the cooks had a bag full of thick bread heals they were going to throw away.  Naturally my mom thought I could probably do something with them.  Originally I was going to make bread crumbs but decided I didn't want to take the time to blend them up in 20 different batches using my Magic Bullet.  That's when I thought of making a French toast casserole recipe with them.  I turned to the holiday cookbook because I'd remembered seeing a couple different breakfast casserole recipes and since Ree hasn't disappointed me yet with her tasty recipes I thought I had a good chance of this one turning out. 

Even so I only made an 8x8 dish instead of 9x13, for 2 reasons: 1. in case it turned out badly and then I wouldn't have a full pan to throw away 2. I didn't want to use up 8 of my eggs since I only had a little less than 2 dozen to last me a couple weeks before I go grocery shopping again.

4 eggs
1 1/4c milk
1/4c sugar
1T vanilla (I don't measure vanilla so I just dumped some in)
Crusty bread (enough to fill an 8x8 baking dish)

1/4c margarine-cold and cut into pieces
1/4c flour
1/4c brown sugar-packed
1/2t cinnamon
couple shakes of nutmeg
couple shakes of salt

*whisk the eggs, milk, vanilla and sugar together.  Spray your baking dish liberally with PAM.  Tear your crusty bread into chunks and fill your baking dish.  Pour the egg/milk mixture over top.  In a medium bowl mix your topping ingredients together using a large fork or pastry cutter.  You want it to look like crumbs or chunks.  Sprinkle over the top of the bread.  Put in fridge overnight.  Bake in the morning at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes.  Top with syrup.

 I let the bread heals dry out over night so they egg/milk mixture would soak into them and not make them a mushy mess.  I didn't have any cream so instead I used 1 1/4c 2% milk.  Other than that I followed the recipe except halving everything.   I made it last night and let it sit in the fridge.  If you do this just don't forget it's in there like I did.  I ate a bowl of cereal when I got out of the shower and then remembered I had made the casserole.  So, breakfast for lunch anyone?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

DIY Handmade Dish Cloths

I've been needing new dish cloths for quite a while now.  I've got a total of about 4. Two of which are falling apart and/or stained badly enough that I make sure they aren't out when company comes over, haha.  They aren't that expensive in the stores but I just hate buying those types of things which is why I've done without for this long.  But the other day I came across this post that I'd saved to my favorites forever ago and got new inspiration to make my own dish cloths.

I looked through my dish towels, which I have an over abundance of somehow, and picked out a couple I've had since college.  That's about 10 years I've had those towels, that's crazy.  Anyway they were faded and kinda ugly so I thought I could use them instead of an old bath towel, since none of my bath towels are worn out.

They are super simple to make and to make 4 it took me less than an hour.  I got super lucky and somehow Grant was uninterested in what I was doing.  Usually as soon as my sewing machine comes out he's right beside me asking "mama, what you doing?".  If this had been the case it might have taken me a little longer. 

I looked through my stash of fabric and found a print I bought awhile ago I wasn't crazy about anymore.  Not sure what my intention was when I bought it but I've had it too long, so this was the perfect project to use some of it up.

First I cut off the finished edges off the towels because they would have been too thick for my sewing machine. 

I cut 2 squares from each towel, each about 10 inches by 11 inches.  No need to be exact, they are just for washing dishes and counters so perfection isn't necessary.  At least not for me.

Since my towel squares weren't all exactly the same size I took each square and pinned it right sides together with the cotton fabric and cut the cotton to the same size as each towel.  Notice I made sure the images on the towels aren't going to be showing when I finish the dish cloths, so I made sure they were facing the correct way before stitching them together. 

Stitch around all 4 sides making sure to leave an opening for turning.  I used about a 1/2inch seam allowance.  Then clip the corners.

Turn each towel right side out, then stitch around all four sides making sure to stitch the opening closed.  I used 1/4inch seam allowance for this.

Now your done!  Go wash some dishes or wipe off those counters with your new dish cloths.

Or do what I did and shove them in your drawer vowing to finish the dishes tomorrow.

Every time I make something like this I hear my sister's voice saying, "seriously Lisa, why don't you just buy some new dish cloths, they cost like $4".  Haha.  Then I hear my husband's voice saying "wouldn't it be easier to just buy new ones.  Why do you always have to make everything?".  And the truth is I get a little rush and happiness knowing I can take things I have and make things I need without having to run to Wally World and give them more of my money.  I love being frugal (some call it being cheap but that just sounds negative to me), and I love making things.  The two go hand in hand with me.  If it's something we need and I can make it cheaper than buying it, that's what I'm gonna do.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Crafting Standstill

I am at a serious crafting standstill.  It's not for a lack of a to-do list.  After all I have a few baby projects I need to get started on, my due date is quickly approaching.  However, it's freakin cold here!  Last night the wind chill was supposed to get down to 30 below.  What the heck kind of weather is this?  I've lived in Ohio all but 5 years of my life and I don't ever recall such weather or temperatures.  It's pretty bad when it gets up to 31 degrees, you walk outside, and for a split second question whether or not you actually need a coat.  Yes it feels that warm after weeks of single digit and negative temps.

You would think being stuck inside would push me to get started on projects but of course I'm lacking some much needed supplies.  A trip to Joann's or Hobby Lobby would solve my problem but that would require me to get Grant bundled up like an eskimo, me bundled up, and then I'd actually have to step foot outside the warmth of my door.  I just can't bring myself to do that just yet. 

And after the many Christmas projects and then baby shower projects I've worked on, then Grant's surgery, I felt I needed a small break.  A few days of no impending crafting deadlines.  Of course that's just a mental thing because my baby projects need finished.  After all you never know when a baby will make it's debut and I'm under no false illusions this time around that I will get much done after baby's arrival.

That all being said, someone needs to kick me in the booty to get things going.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Stuffed Pepper Soup Recipe

I love finding new recipes even though I'm always a little weary at first about trying them.  I hate it if I think one is going to be delicious and turns out blah!  Such a waste of time, energy, and food.  So I always read the comments posted following any recipe I find online and love to share recipes I've tried and I think are tasty.

I'd love to have  a really amazing picture of this soup, one you look at and go "holy moly that looks good, I need to cook that now."  You know like the ones you see on  I just never want to take the time to make mine look that perfect.  So what do I do? I take my camera to the stove and just snap a quick pic.  It may not always look the best but my taste buds don't lie, and anything I share I give my honest opinion and I don't share recipes I wouldn't make again.

I found this recipe online.  I can't find the website for the original recipe I wrote down.  I swear I'm getting better about writing down my sources but I wrote this one in my notebook a couple months back.  So if you read this recipe and know where it came from, leave me a comment and I'll give credit where it's due.

Stuffed Pepper Soup

1 1/2lbs ground beef
1 onion chopped
3 green peppers chopped (I keep chopped green peppers in my freezer from when I've found them on sale.  I used about 3 cups of chopped peppers)
4oz can mushrooms (I think the original recipe called for fresh mushrooms but I used canned)
4c water
4tsp beef bouillon granules (original recipe called for 32oz beef broth)
2 cans tomato soup
28oz can diced tomato
6 shakes Worcestershire sauce (original recipe called for 4, I added a couple extra for good luck)
2t Italian seasoning
1/2t pepper
1 1/2c cooked rice

In large pot brown ground beef, green peppers, onion.  Season with salt and pepper.  When beef is almost completely browned add canned mushrooms.  Drain off grease.  Stir in water, beef bouillon granules, tomato soup, diced tomato, and Worcestershire sauce.  Bring to boil, cover.  Reduce heat to simmer for 30 minutes.  Add Italian seasoning, pepper, and rice.  Heat through.

I added the pepper and Italian seasoning before I brought it to a boil and it still tasted really good.  This soup is more like a stew to me because it's chunky.  If you want more of a soup add up to 2 cups more beef broth.  I preferred it chunky.  My husband really liked this soup too, it's definitely going in the soup rotation.  The first thing he said after I told him what kind of soup it was, "where do you come up with this stuff?"  Since I'm always finding new recipes he's never heard of and honestly he's probably a little weary of most of them.  He's more of a, stick with the same meat and mashed potatoes type guy, but that gets boring to me.  I'm going to attempt to freeze some of this soup, for the month I have the baby (easy meals are a must when recovering).  I've never frozen a soup that contains rice but I'm sure it will heat up just fine.  I'll share the results.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Western Baby Shower

I so wish I would have gotten more pictures of this shower, but after dropping the little one off at Grammy's and stopping at the store for fresh fruit, I had only a few minutes to snap these pics and get the food set out.
I have to give a huge thanks to my husband who cleaned the apartment while I was gone, it looked great and there's no way I would have had time to do it before guests arrived.

 I lucked out with some of the decorations because my sister is getting married in August and is doing a country theme.  She provided me with the burlap table runners I used as the backdrop behind the table.  I just used tacks to hang them side by side.  The onesie bunting I adored.  I used scrapbook paper I found at Hobby Lobby in 4 various prints, denim, red paisley, blue paisley, and blue plaid.  I attached them to twine with tape and draped them.  
The Name canvas was very popular and Audra (the guest of honor) loved it and took it home to hang in her nursery.  I explain in this post how I made the canvas.
I also had 6 mini tissue poms hanging from the ceiling in red, blue, and brown.
 I made butter cookies.  My mom and I are famous in our family for them.  I tried like everything to get the icing color to be a Christmas red and after using half the little jar of Wilton red food coloring I gave up and settled on the above orangey color, tied the favor bags with twine, and called it a night.  I love the onesie cookie cutter I found in Amish country last year and used it at the "About to Pop" shower I hosted last Spring.  After I snapped the above photo I found a cute wicker basket to put these in so they weren't just thrown all over the table.
My cousin loved the ultrasound picture and was so happy to have a 4x6 snapshot of it.  Everyone else was excited to look at it too as most of them had never seen it.

I made lemon blueberry cupcakes which turned out delish.  It's a combo I've never made in cupcakes before and everyone said they were so good except my aunt who hates blueberries, haha.  I used the recipe from here as a base.  It originally came from the book by the girls of DC Cupcakes.  I changed it up some though. Check out the bottom of this post for the recipe I used.  The cupcake pics were made using burlap printed scrapbook paper and a monogram "R" printed on white card stock.  I used my cricut to cut the circles of both and attached them with glue dots.  Then taped them to mini skewers.
I told how I made the wreath in this post.  I ended up adding a mini pennant banner I made with my cricut and leftover scrapbook paper.  The crate I used as a prop I already had in my house and I think it added just the right touch to elevate the cupcakes and house the quote I framed.

I kept the food simple, wish I had a picture of it all set up but no such luck, so I'll share the recipes and the sites I got them from or got inspiration from instead.


*Ham and Swiss cheese sliders
Homemade Salsa and tortilla chips
Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad (boxed mix I already had in pantry)
Apples and Strawberry slices
*Deviled Eggs
*Strawberry Lemonade
Sweet Tea
Ice Water
*Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes
Frosted Butter Cookies 

*recipes below

Baked Ham and Cheese Sliders

24 slider buns
16oz thinly sliced deli ham
16 slices swiss cheese (you will have leftover)
4 1/2T dijon Mustard
1 1/2 medium chopped onion
1 1/2T Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 sticks butter/margarine 
The ham and cheese sliders got rave reviews, and I had to agree with my guests, they were quite tasty.  I will definitely be making them again.  They were so easy and since all my other food could be made the day before these were simple to put together and they were the only thing I had to pop in the oven before guests arrived. I found the original recipe online and for the life of me I can't find the website I got it from, oops.  This is why I should write things down.

I've noticed recently that everyone has a different way of making deviled eggs.  I've seen people add vinegar and pickles and that just grosses me out, why do you need such things in deviled eggs? For years it never occurred to make them any way other than how my mom taught me and I've found her way is the easiest of them all so I thought I'd share.  Her recipe calls for all of 3 ingredients, boiled eggs, mustard, and mayo.  I've made them so many times I don't measure anything.  I go more on consistency and taste than measurements.

Deviled Eggs

1 dozen eggs (boiled)
about 3/4c mayo
about 1/3c mustard

I boil my eggs for 5 minutes at a rolling boil, turn the heat off and let them sit in the covered pot on the stove for about an hour.  Then I put them in the fridge to cool before I peel them.  Once they are cooled, peel the shell off each egg and cut them in half lengthwise.  Separate the yolks from the whites of the eggs and put in a small mixing bowl.  Once all the yolks are in the bowl mash them up with a fork until they are good and crumbly.  Add your mayo and mustard and stir until combined.  Take a small spoon and fill each egg white with some of your yolk mixture.  Remember you can add more or less mayo and mustard depending on your taste buds, again I don't measure I go off consistency and taste.  Don't be scared you can do it!

Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes 

2 1/2c flour sifted
2 1/2t baking powder
1/4t salt
8T unsalted butter-room temp
1 1/2c sugar (original recipe calls for 1 3/4c)
2 eggs-room temp
2 1/4t vanilla
1 1/4c milk-room temp
zest of 2 lemons
1/2-1tsp lemon extract depending on your taste buds
1 1/2c blueberries
1/2T flour (to coat blueberries and keep them from sinking during baking)

sift flour, baking powder, and salt.  Measure sugar in a bowl, add zest and rub together with fingers.  Cream butter and lemony sugar.  Add eggs 1 at a time, mixing between each addition.  Add vanilla to milk.  Add 1/3 of dry ingredients, then 1/3 of milk/vanilla mixture.  Continue until all dry ingredients and milk mixture is used.  Add lemon extract, mix.  Fold in blueberries.  Bake at 350 for 15-18 minutes

Strawberry Lemonade 

1 gallon water
3 lemons-wedged and seeded
1 1/2c sugar
1/2lb strawberries fresh or frozen

combine all in a pitcher and mix until sugar is dissolved.  I try to stock up on strawberries during the summer and freeze quite a few quart size bags just for this lemonade.   When I use frozen berries I don't even thaw them I just throw them in and they double as ice.  This is seriously good and addicting lemonade.  I started making it for every shower and birthday party I do instead of buying sodas and I've never had anyone complain.  My one piece of advice, If you're shower is going to have more than 10 people I'd advise making more than 1 gallon because you will run out.  Yes it's that good!

I am so glad this shower is done.  I had a blast making everything and brainstorming ideas and of course the best part is always seeing the guest of honors face when she walks in but the last minute frantic rush always exhausts me.  Now, as always, I'm looking ahead to my next line up of projects.  What are they you may be asking yourself
1. Baby goodies- hooded towels, 1 yard receiving blankets, hospital gown, binky clips, nursing cover
2. Valentine's Day
3. Easter
4. My neice's Dora the Explorer 3rd birthday party
5. My sister's Bridal  shower- this one's gonna be a big one, the biggest party/shower I've done since my own wedding.  I'm excited but nervous all the same.  It's going to be a lot of crafting, a lot of prep, and everything will have to be transported to another location since it will be for all 4 sides of the family.  All that with a 3 year old and an infant to take care of, I'm already tired thinking about it.

Friday, January 17, 2014

A little boy's first surgery

My little guy had surgery yesterday.  He had his tonsils taken out.  They were so large he stopped breathing during the night and snored like a grown man.  This is the first time he's really had anything done other than routine immunizations.  I've been a wreck for the last week worried about it.  Not that I didn't trust his doctor or think he was completely competent, but I'm a nurse, it's my job to know the worst case scenario. The stuff the doctors glaze over when they talk to you because the chances of it happening are slim to none.  I hear all the horror stories and they somehow get logged somewhere in my brain.

Case in point my mom told me about a little girl on the news who had her tonsils taken out and never woke up, they had her on life support and the family was fighting to keep her on it.  I knew such things can happen.  Whether it be a grown adult or a child, you never know how someone's body will react to anesthesia.  Sometimes seemingly perfectly healthy people just never wake up.  This obviously freaked me out because I had no way of knowing how Grant would do under anesthesia, since he's never had anything done.  So I prayed....A LOT.  It was all I knew to do feeling as helpless as a mother can feel.

Not only did i fear the worst case scenario but I also know my son and I knew he would scream when they took him back.  He has a severe fear of strangers.  I started talking to Grant days ago about what they were going to do and that a nice nurse would come and take him to another room where he would go to sleep for a little while.  So he knew when the nurse came in and we started giving him kisses he was leaving, and of course he started crying, reaching for me, saying "mama I need you, I don't wanna go".  My heart broke right then and there.  I couldn't stop crying.  All I wanted to do was run back, grab my little boy, and take him home.  Wouldn't any mother when their 3 year old is being taken away screaming for them?  I knew nothing I said would reassure him and once again I was helpless.

My husband reminded me this was for his health and how it was necessary.  It didn't keep me from crying but I knew he was right.  Lucky for us a tonsillectomy takes a whopping 15 minutes.  He came out of it great.  Even though when we were taken back to see him in recovery he was crying.  I knew he would be scared without someone he knew there and he would be in pain, but knowing it and then seeing him in pain are two different things.  All I could do was hold him and for the next 3 hours I refused to let him go.  After he was given some pain meds he was laughing, watching Team Umizoomi, and talking.  We were blessed.  We have a healthy little boy again and barring any complications maybe just maybe this will help his sleep habits.  His doctor said this is probably why all his life he's never slept like a normal little one should.  Even though I can't imagine him having had this done any younger than he is, he probably needed it a long time ago.  However, I think God knew neither Grant nor I could have handled it back then, so now's when it was needed, before the baby came.

Coming home with my little guy I felt so blessed he came through it all fine with nothing other than a sore throat.  Hopefully his recovery will go just as well.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Western Baby Shower Project Preview

I've wanted to do a baby shower for my cousin for years, so I was super excited when she told me she was pregnant.  For the first time I actually asked the guest of honor what theme she wanted.  She requested a western/country theme.  I showed the invites here.  I'm trying to keep things simple yet cute, not only because I think that's what she will appreciate but also because I'm getting more uncomfortably pregnant by the day and my little guy is having surgery 2 days before the shower.  So big projects or any project that takes  a lot of time was out of the question. 

I think I came up with some really cute and cost effective solutions, cuz you know I'm all about cost effectiveness.  My goal is to stick with my usual party/shower budget of $50 and so far I've lucked out with some of my decorations.  My sister is getting married in August and is having a country themed wedding so I borrowed mason jars and burlap table runners from her.

I don't have everything finished yet and my dining room table is covered in baby shower projects but I thought I'd give a little preview of all the goodies I've been working on the last couple weeks, plus this way I can explain how I made the projects and my shower post can be mainly pictures of everything put together.

As with any party or shower I scoured the internet for ideas and found some amazing western/country baby showers out there.  I got loads of inspiration and I can't wait for my cousin to see everything put together.
Actually I can't wait to see everything put together.


I purchased a bush of fake daisies from Hobby Lobby at 50% off for $4.50.  There were 12 daisies in the bush.  I used 2 quart size mason jars I already had in my cabinet, wrapped them with twine (purchased at Wal-mart for $1.47 a roll) and tied a piece of paisley print fabric around them.  I bought a yard of  the fabric at Hobby Lobby at 30% off for $6.29/yd.   I used this fabric for different touches throughout the decorations to tie everything together.

Mini Tissue Poms:
Originally I knew I was going to use poms to decorate but had planned on making large ones.  Once I got to looking at the ceiling space and how low they would have to hang I realized they would end up being in the way while people were standing or walking through the dining room.  Instead I bought 3 packages of tissue paper in red, blue, and brown for $0.99 each and cut them down the center fold to make 2 mini poms from each color.  Not only are they cute and I get the same effect I was going for when I thought of using the large poms, but I get double the amount of them for the same price, $3.

Name Canvas:

I saw a couple showers with something similar to this, here and here.  As soon as I saw it I knew I had to do something similar.  I went back and forth on whether I wanted to use a frame, a piece of wood, plain ol' fabric, or canvas.  I ended up choosing the canvas because it was the easiest and most cost effective choice.  I bought an 11x14 canvas from Hobby Lobby for $5.99 that was a package of 2.  I plan on letting Grant paint on the other one.  I used the paisley fabric I purchased and hot glued it around the back making sure to pull it tight and smooth.  Then I just took rope (bought at Wal-mart for $4.97 a roll) and started gluing it to the fabric covered canvas to spell the baby's name, Reed.  I have to say I'm really glad they chose a short name because I don't think I would have been able to fit a long one on the canvas. 

Food Signs:

I like having signs for the food at parties, especially if there's something that's not completely obvious.  I hate going to a party and guessing at what each food item is, crossing my fingers it's something I like when I'm putting it on my plate.  While most of my food was easy to tell what it was,  I wanted everyone to know what type of pasta salad and sliders I made so they wouldn't have to wonder.  I used a font a downloaded from and printed them from a word document onto white cardstock.  I taped them to scrapbook paper I bought at Hobby Lobby ($0.29 each at 50% off).  They are nothing fancy or special but serve their purchase and add a little something to the food counter.


The wreath isn't finished yet but I've hat this Styrofoam wreath form in my cabinet for over a year with intentions of making a yarn wreath that I've never finished, go figure.  I thought it would be a cute addition to the decorations and covered it in burlap I had in my stash and strips of the paisley fabric I bought for the shower.  I'm planning on adding a small pennant banner on the top with the baby's name or the word cowboy.

Mason Jar glasses:

Years ago I saw a wedding online that used Mason jars to drink from and have had it in my mind every since that some day I was going to use that idea at a shower.  Of course nowadays it's nothing original and I've seen it all over the internet, but I was super excited to use them for this baby shower just the same.  I wanted to keep them simple so I just cut strips of paisley print fabric and tied them with a knot around each glass.  These will sit next to the glass drinking dispensers I'm filling with homemade strawberry lemonade, sweet tea, and water.

Wishing Tree Tags:

It took me forever to decide on doing a wishing tree.  No one in my family is big on games at showers or activities in general.  They prefer to eat and visit with one another, which is fine with me, I just want to make sure my cousin has something to take home as a memento.  I printed the tags on white cardstock, used my cricut to cut them into a shape I liked, then used red burlap printed scrapbook paper cut 1/4inch larger as the backing.  I attached them with glue dots.  I punched a hole in the top and tied twine to each one so they will hang nicely on the branches.

Framed Quotes and Photos:

I saw this quote here, and thought it was beautiful so I decided to make my own version of it using fonts I downloaded from, and changing the colors to match my theme.  I used a frame I already had.  I made a 4x6 print of one of my cousin's ultrasound photos and used a frame I already had using a burlap print scrapbook paper as the matting.  I always love seeing ultrasound pictures at baby showers.

The baby shower is getting close now, only a few days to go, and I can't wait for it to be here.  I think anyone who's done a party knows that feeling.  Once you've planned for so long, crafted, and have in your mind how you want everything to look, you get really anxious for the party to be here so all your hard work will be paid off.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

January/March 2014 Monthly Menu Plan

We didn't do our once a month shopping until this past weekend so my menu plan this month also covers the first week of February for us.

I have to say this month was a tough one to make everything fit into the budget I like to stay in and I'm realizing there are times when I have to bust that budget a little and be ok with that.  One of our local grocery stores was having an amazing sale on ground beef ($1.69/lb) and pork chops ($1.49/lb).  I had already planned on buying some ground beef but couldn't pass up the pork chop sale.  We ended up purchasing 10 pounds of ground beef for about $16 and 14 bone in pork chops for just under $8.  These types of sales rarely come around and usually when they do it's not when I'm doing my OAMS.  So I considered this a blessing and that God was looking out for us since with those purchases we shouldn't need pork chops for a good 2-3 months, and the beef should last us through February, so this will allow for me to make other meat purchases and give us some wiggle room next month.

Anyways, on to the menu plan, I have a plan of 28 meals this month, some of which will change a little since we purchased more beef than planned so we have room to make adjustments without depleting our meat supply.

Monthly Meal Plan

1.veggie pot pie  I use Pioneer Woman's chicken pot pie recipe for a base, I've made it before and love the flavor.  Instead of heavy cream I'm using milk, leaving out the chicken and adding green beans instead.
2. stuffed pepper soup: this is a new recipe I've never tried before but came across it and thought it sounded delicious.  I'm always on the lookout for new soup recipes.
3.breakfast for dinner: biscuits with gravy, turkey bacon, and scrambled eggs
4. pinto beans and corn bread- my husband and son love beans, instead of using bacon to season them I bought ham hock which is much less expensive.  I bought a package of 3 ham hock for $3.52 at my local Wal-Mart and will only use 1 for each recipe of pinto beans I make.
5. deer roast with potatoes, biscuits, and deviled eggs
6. homemade pizza
7. fried bologna sandwiches with chips and fruit
8. meatloaf (recipe below) with mashed potatoes, green beans, buttered bread
9. leftovers
10. chili dogs with macaroni & cheese and fruit
11. orange chicken with rice
12. grilled cheese with potato wedges and corn
13. breakfast for dinner: homemade waffles with homemade syrup & fruit
14. leftovers
15. ham and peppers Stromboli (recipe below)
16. black bean enchilada soup (frozen meal from last month) with corn bread
17. turkey Bolognese with breadsticks
18. hamburger steaks with baked potatoes & fruit
19. leftovers
20. breakfast for dinner: ham and cheese omelets
21. homemade pizza
22. onion soup pork chops (recipe below) with fried potatoes and green beans
23. chicken fried rice
24. breakfast for dinner: breakfast pizza, I love Pioneer Woman's breakfast pizza and made it here.  I decided since I bought all the goods to make homemade salsa I might as well use some for this pizza.  However this one will be a veggie breakfast pizza instead of having the sausage or bacon on top.  I always over cook them and it will be a little quicker for me to whip up this way.
25. baked ham shank, mashed potatoes biscuits, and corn
26. tacos with Spanish rice
27. leftovers
28. pork chop casserole another new recipe I found and thought I'd give it a try.

I don't do daily meal plans for breakfast or lunch since it all depends on what I'm in the mood to cook or not cook and what leftovers we have for lunch options.  Instead I make a list at the bottom of my monthly calendar meal plan of all the breakfast items I have ingredients to make.  This way I can take a quick glance and know exactly what we have to choose from.  Here's the list of breakfast foods for this month:


brown sugar muffins
scrambled eggs with bacon
homemade waffles
sweet potato bread
cinnamon swirl bread
baked oatmeal
oatmeal with toast
pumpkin muffins
French puffs


egg salad
tuna salad
turkey sandwiches/wraps
pizza wraps
cheese and crackers with turkey or pepperoni
grilled cheese plain or with turkey or pepperoni


Meatloaf:  Everyone has a different way of making meatloaf but I thought I'd share my basic recipe and ways I change it.

1 1/2lbs ground beef (I prefer to use 80/20 ground beef because there is less grease)
1 egg
about 1/2 cup bread crumbs (use more if necessary)
1 onion finely chopped (you could use minced dried onion if you don't have a regular onion)
salt and pepper
1/4c ketchup (can use tomato sauce if you're out of ketchup)
1/4c milk (this is just for moisture, I've made it without using milk with good results as well but if I think about it, I try to add it.)
-throw it all in a bowl and mix it up.  Form into a loaf in a 9x13 inch baking dish.  Bake at 350 for about an hour, check for doneness just to be on the safe side.

*I don't actually measure any of my ingredients for meatloaf because there's really no wrong way to mix it up so don't be afraid to add more or less of the ingredients above.

*add green, red, and/or yellow bell peppers that are finely chopped
*add shredded carrots and finely diced celery. 
*add 1t minced garlic
*I've read where people advise to sauté any of the veggies (bell peppers, onion, carrots, celery, garlic) in a separate pan before adding them to the meat mixture.  I don't do this because I'm lazy and have no desire to add in extra steps unless I find it necessary.  I haven't every made a meatloaf where the veggies I used tasted raw or hard so I don't do this step, you can if you wish.

Onion Soup Pork Chops:
4 pork chops (bone in or boneless)
1 packet onion soup mix

place pork chops in a glass baking dish.  Sprinkle onion soup mix on top.  Add enough water just to cover the bottom of the dish (this is just for moisture so the chops don't dry out).  Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 30-60 minutes.  If you are using boneless wings they tend to be smaller and thinner so you will probably only need to bake them around 30 minutes.  Bone in tend to be a bit thicker and I usually bake them about 45 minutes to an hour.

Ham & Peppers Stromboli:
1 pizza crust.  Recipe I use can be found here.
1 green bell pepper chopped
1 red bell pepper chopped
1 yellow bell pepper chopped
1 small onion chopped
1c shredded cheese (any variety will work)
1c chopped ham (this can be lunch meat ham or leftover ham from a baked ham)
Italian seasoning
salt & pepper

roll pizza crust into a rectangle shape.  Sprinkle 3/4c cheese on center of crust, leaving dough on either side.  Top the cheese with red, green, & yellow peppers, the onion, and ham.  Sprinkle Italian seasoning on top then the salt and pepper.  Top with remaining 1/4c shredded cheese.  Bring both long sides of rectangle up over your ham/onion/pepper/cheese filling and pinch together covering your filling completely.  Pinch each end closed as well.  Take a butter knife and make three 1 1/2inch slits in the top of your Stromboli.  Place on a non-stick cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 until dough is golden brown (usually about 30-45 minutes).
*I love making Stromboli because you can literally make it a million different ways.  I've made pizza Stromboli with various combinations of pizza toppings, ham and cheese Stromboli, broccoli ham and cheese Stromboli, smoked sausage with green peppers & onion Stromboli, and an all veggie with bell peppers, broccoli & cheese.
*add some dipping sauces like pizza sauce or ranch dressing if you like.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Western Baby Shower Invitations

My cousin is pregnant and due almost exactly 2 weeks before me.  This is her 3rd and her other 2 are already in school so quite an age gap between them.  I told her years ago if she ever decided to have a 3rd I wanted to be the one to do her baby shower.  Little did I know we both would wind up pregnant at exactly the same time.  I still offered to do her shower because I'm one of those crazy weird people that enjoys doing them.

She is having a boy and requested a western/country themed shower. As I usually do I scoured the internet for ideas and bounced back and forth on colors and images up until the holidays hit and then it all hit the back burner and now the shower is a week  away and I'm seriously needing to craft for this party.

The difference between this baby shower and the others I've done is 1. its right smack after Christmas which puts a kink in finances and 2. I'm having a baby too which puts a kink my energy to craft and throw such a party.  That being said I'm still excited to be doing it and have come up with some ways to make things easier and more cost effective for myself.

I chose blue and red for the colors.  I went back and forth on the this forever and it really was the most difficult part of the shower for me to nail down and make a decision.  There are so many color combinations I love but in the end I thought blue and red would be the easiest for me to find and match up in fabric, ribbon, and scrapbook paper.  I'm really trying to go for western simplicity with this shower, not only to make things a little easier for myself but also because I think a lot of times people (me included) can go overboard with decorations and such.  I tend to over think things and having the mentality of simplicity helps me keep things in check.

As always. I'm made the invites.  I figured out months ago what I wanted them to look like and used blank cards already in my stash.  I found the rocking horse image online, saved it into my images, opened it in Microsoft paint, then erased the wording and printed them in a Microsoft works word document. 

I used my cricut and the Accent Essentials cartridge to cut the images out into a circle shape, then cut another circle 1/4 inch larger circle in blue and red (because I ran out of blue paper) to go behind the rocking horse image and to add a little bit more color.  I had originally wanted 1/2 inch red gingham ribbon but I procrastinated, then a snow storm hit, then the flu hit, then Hobby Lobby was closed.  I ended up having to go to Joann's which of course they were out of the 1/2inch and I was forced to get the 1/4inch ribbon.  It still worked fine but I really wanted something a little wider.  Oh well, I guess no one else will know the difference.  I attached the ribbon, scrapbook paper circle, and rocking horse image with glue dots.

I have had this post ready for about a week now except for a photos but for whatever reason blogger isn't letting me upload my second one and I'm a little tired of trying.  So there is no photo of the inside of the invite. I printed the invitation info on white cardstock using font's from  I downloaded 2 different ones I thought looked western.  I used my cricut and the Don Juan cartridge to cut them out then used glue dots to stick them to the inside of the cards.

The inside read: A little cowboy is on the way
                           Let's celebrate before the big day
                           Join us for a baby shower honoring
                             (enter guest of honor name)
                             (enter party details of time, place, etc)

Other than the size of ribbon these turned out exactly as I wanted.  I was going for simplicity which I think I found and I'm so relieved they are finished and mailed. 

Now on to the other projects on my list.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Pioneer Woman Hamburger Soup

Let me start by saying, Holy Moly it is freakin cold here!  I'm talking can't breathe when the wind hits you, icicles in the nostrils, negative temperatures, cold.  While Ohio is known for having up and down temperatures, you could be building a snowman one day and in a pair of shorts the next, I haven't seen this kind of weather so early in years.  I have to say, I'm not too fond of it.  Kind of like how I'm not too fond of 100 degree temperatures with humidity making it hotter than Hades in August.

Yes I know, I'm never satisfied but I'm just trying to be honest here.

We have had all kinds of sickness around our house.  The week before Christmas my little guy had a cold which led to 3 days of a fever and a horrible cough.  After we got back from visiting relatives over the holidays he started throwing up for 2 days, poor thing.  Then my husband got horrible diarrhea.  I'm sure he would love that I put that on the world wide web, haha.  I have been super fortunate that I have yet to catch any of it, instead I've been the one distributing meds, taking temps, cleaning toilets (so disgusting after sickness), washing 4 loads of sheets, towels, and other puked on things in one afternoon just to wake up the next day and have 2 more loads of more puked on things.  I can't imagine how many loads I'll have when there's 2 kids passing sickness back and forth.

I had to go out to the store yesterday to get my husband medicine and I couldn't even scrape off the windows it was so cold.  I had to let the car run for a good 10 minutes and then decided the store was at the end of my street and I could see well enough through the ice to make it without getting out to chisel away at it some more.  To beat it all I got our electric bill and it went up a whopping $100.  Did you know that a 2 bedroom townhouse apartment that's probably all of 900square feet uses more electricity to heat than a 2000 square foot house.  Yea it makes no sense to me either but it's a sad reality.  My mouth immediately hit the floor and I proceeded to make a beeline to the thermostat and turn it from 71 degrees down to 69.  Which probably will help zero because even with me turning it down it ran for, I swear, a solid 3 hours.  I'm really dreading our next bill.

Since I turned down the temp in the house it's a little chilly, which I know my husband will complain about but I just bundle up a little more, I was trying to figure out something to cook for dinner.  Something that would warm our insides, and of course I thought of soup.  The only problem being that I'm a once a month shopper now, we are at the end of our monthly menu cycle, and there are no soups left on the menu plan.  Which means my ingredients are a lot more limited and every recipe I looked at called for ingredients I didn't have.  Refusing to go to the store and buy any ingredients, I tossed the idea and decided we would have to settle for something else.

Then I got on Pioneer Woman's website and saw a hamburger soup recipe.  I read through it and thought I had all the ingredients and was super excited.  I've made hamburger veggie soup before but not like this recipe from Ree.  She didn't use tomato juice, which I don't have in my cabinets, and used different vegetables as well.

I wish I had a great picture to share.  Ok not a great picture since my food pictures are never "great", but I forgot when I first made it.  I'm chalkin my forgetfulness up to pregnancy brain.  After soup has sat for a little while, especially in the fridge, it no longer looks appetizing no matter how tasty it was.

I ended up having to change a couple things because once I got started I realized I didn't have some of the ingredients, go figure.  So instead of whole or diced tomatoes I ended up using half a 28oz can of crushed tomatoes.  I also wanted my soup to be a bit less like stew so I added in the extra 2 cups of water and 2tsp beef bullion granules for the broth.  I used regular russet potatoes instead of red ones because I never have red potatoes.  The only problem I found was I needed to cook the carrots a little more.  The potatoes were plenty soft so I guess next time I'll just make sure the carrots go in a few minutes before some of the softer veggies.  Over all though it was very tasty and is now in my soup rotation to make again.  There are so many ways you could change this soup to fit what you have in your pantry.  It would be a great end of the month soup for other OAMS  shoppers when your pantry is running low on goods.  It makes a large amount, especially because I added the extra 2 cups of broth.  We ended up eating this as dinner then as leftovers and I still have at least another meal to freeze for next month.  I love it when meals go a long way.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Once a Month Shopping Tips From a Beginner

I am by far no expert as I have just started on my venture of OAMS, however I feel like as a beginner I can share what few things I've learned that have helped me.  Be forewarned this is a long post but hopefully you will find it helpful if you are getting ready to try OAMS.

The first thing I did when I started thinking about trying OAMS was google search it.  In doing so I found dozens of other blogs with statements of how they organize their trips, make their lists, menu plans, budgets, etc.  I read every one I could find to get the concept and tried to figure out what would work for me and my family.  As you will quickly find out, what works for one person fabulously may not work for you and your family in the least.  Most OAMS shoppers have deep freezers to hold their massive quantities of food as well as large pantries.  When I realized this trend while reading multiple blogs I started to get discouraged thinking because we lived in a 2 bedroom apartment with no deep freeze and limited cabinet space I wouldn't be successful.  This is not true.  You may not be able to stock up on a months worth of milk and bread without a deep freeze but you can certainly stock up on many other things with cabinet organization and thinking outside the box in terms of storing items.

I also read many people were doing the bulk of their shopping at Costco and Sam's.  I have never shopped at either so I went online and started to compare prices.  Turns out at this point they couldn't beat what I could find with sale prices and at my local Walmart.  So I started by making a list of items we use often and could buy in bulk, olive oil, veggie oil, flour, sugar, toilet paper, gallons of juice, oatmeal, brown sugar, powdered sugar, etc.  I then went to Walmart, Meijer, and Aldi and wrote down the prices and sizes of each of these items so I could find out where the best prices per size were and so I would know if a sale was actually a great price.  I found that buying a 25lb bag of flour or sugar at Walmart is not necessarily cheaper than buying individual 4 and 5lb bags at other stores, in which case the "in bulk" buying is pointless as I find it a lot easier to find storage for 4 individual 5lb bags of sugar than 1-20lb bag.  I keep my price lists in a notebook along with any other information I come across that might be useful, but I only use this notebook for OAMS info.

Buying the larger package is not always a savings.  My husband and I were recently at Walmart to get non-grocery related items when he informed me we were down to the last slice of cheese (he, of course didn't inform me of this before my OAMS trip and when I did my inventory days earlier we still had plenty).  So we went to the grocery section and he started to pick up the 24 slice package for $2.98.  I had bought this size just a week earlier and told him I had no desire to make another trip to the store in a week for more cheese so I picked up the large 72 slice package for $10.98.  When we started to make our way to the checkout I started doing the math: 3 packages of 24 slice cheese (72 total slices, the same amount in the large package I was planning on buying) totaled$ 8.94, and yet I was getting ready to pay $10.98 for the same amount of cheese. It was the same brand and everything so I of course put back the big package and bought 3 of the smaller ones.  So always make sure to figure up if your actually getting a deal by purchasing items in bulk.

I also started putting dates marked on masking tape on just about everything when I open something.  This way I know how long it takes us to run out of that item.  I keep this written down in my OAMS notebook as well.  The point behind this is so I won't run out of things mid-month and have to do a larger grocery trip than planned.  I will know we go through a bag of sugar in a max of 10 days, so if my main monthly shopping trip is planned for this weekend and I know we have 2 bags of sugar left in the pantry, I know I will have to buy at least 1 more to have enough for the entire month.  Waiting to run out of items before buying them when you're trying to do OAMS defeats the purpose of making a huge shopping trip at the beginning of the month.

I didn't actually have a "budget" for my first shopping trip as I really wasn't for sure how much we had been spending.  I knew how much I had been intending to spend, $120/month, but we were spending that entire amount within the first 2-3 weeks.  I was also using my own monthly "spending money" for small grocery purchases at the Dollar Tree and quick trips to the store which I wasn't counting in my monthly grocery spending.  This unknown is why I chose to pick a month we had a little more wiggle room with finances to start my OAMS.  We had run out of many of the basics and were very low on canned veggies, baking items, and meat, so I knew it would cost more than I would plan to spend.  I plan on keeping a detailed record of how much we spend throughout the month including our weekly  small trips so I will have a more accurate view of what our budget should be.

Before I even made my first trip to the store I made a list of every dinner, breakfast, and snack item I had ever made.  I saved this list to my computer for a quick reference when making out my monthly meal plans.  It will save you loads of time and it keeps me from repeating the same meals because my brain farts constantly and I can't think of anything to cook.  So when making my monthly menu I go over the list and start choosing what I think we should eat that month.  I also write down a few snacks and breakfasts so I don't forget to write down the ingredients on my grocery list and so I don't forget to make them.  I get very caught up in making sure I have everything I need to make multiple dinners that I forget Grant also needs snacks during the day and a home cooked breakfast a few times a week.  So it's a necessity to have these things written down on my meal plan so I know what I have the ingredients to make.

Every month when you are sitting down to make out your menu plan, look back at your menu from the previous month and enter in any meals you ended up not cooking for whatever reason.  Because of holidays and unplanned things I ended up not cooking at least a weeks worth of meals I had planned for November.  I immediately write these meals in for the month of December because I already know I have all the ingredients to make them.  This saves me on my grocery budget for the trip I'm planning and allows more wiggle room to buy bulk items or more meat.

If possible buy more than you need.  If your budget is super small, and sometimes depending on what we need and what unexpected events have occurred, ours is, then you may not be able to buy anymore than what you absolutely will use.  However even if you have an extra $5 you can buy extra of something.  I try to buy large bottles of veggie oil and olive oil even though I could buy a smaller, less expensive bottle to get through the month.  I also buy extra bags of flour, sugar, and brown sugar, along with extra meat than we will typically use.  I always buy the family package of meat and separate it into individual or meal portions.  In November I bought a family package of Chicken consisting of 7 boneless skinless chicken breast.  When I got home I did as I always do and cut them in half making 2 thinner chicken breast (which is more than enough for one person if we are eating marinated/grilled chicken).  So I ended up with 14 chicken breasts from the one package.  There is no way we can use that many in one month so they actually carried over into December and part of January.  This saved me from having to buy that meat and gave me extra meals to make without adding to my grocery list.

If you are planning on going to multiple stores to get all your months worth of groceries make sure you go to all those stores in the same day.  If you don't it will inevitably happen that something will come up or you won't feel like going to the store you put off and you will be lacking an ingredient you need for a meal that month.  There is nothing more annoying with OAMS than spending time making your list and meal plans only to get toward the middle of the month, get ready to make a meal, and realize your missing one ingredient.  I did this my first month (November) and swore not to make the same mistake again.

My biggest tip when starting your OAMS venture is to get real with yourself.  By this I mean, be completely honest about what you use, how much of it you use, and how quickly you use it.  Over the last couple months I have found myself doing what I used to do when I was shopping weekly.  I would think to myself, for example "we have half a bottle of veggie oil, I should put that on my list but my budget is almost maxed out and we can probably get through the month with 1/2 a bottle".  I used to put off buying things for the sake of staying in budget all the time with my weekly trips.  This is how you end up running out of all your basics and you eventually are forced to go way over budget in order to have basic ingredients to cook your meals.  It is better to possibly go over budget by a few dollars one month than to run out of multiple items and have to go over by $20+ another month.  I now keep a list on my fridge and whenever I notice we are running low on any food, spices, cleaning products, or toiletries, I write it on the list.  This will save you from having to do a large pantry inventory every month before your trip.


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