Friday, April 30, 2010

Food Waste Friday/Menu

We had some food waste this week as well. Booooo! There was a couple of wasted onions that I didn't get to in time. Also, there was some wasted Spanish Tortilla that I made for my Spanish class. It was interesting. I think there are things I could have done better with it. So I'll have to try it again soon. We also had a couple of bread tragedies here in the land of Tracy. We had the tail end of an Italian loaf go wrong, and we had a few slices of sandwich bread go bad. The sandwich bread was really annoying because it was still well within its expiration date. But oh well. C'est la vive. Sra. J, if you could tell me how to say that in Spanish, I'd use it instead because I really don't know French. I'm working on the now waste. Gotta get back on the no waste Friday!

Now onward to the menu!

Due to some unforeseen events this past week, 2 meals will have to be moved to this week instead.

So, without further ado, here's the menu

Breakfasts will be cereal, muffins, oatmeal, etc.

Lunches will be leftovers, sandwiches, etc.

Suppers are as follows:

*Garlic Bread

*BBQ Ribs (carried over from last week)
*Mashed Potatoes
*Green beans

*Fish fillets
*Baked fries

*complete meal in a bag (Carried over from last week)

*Pizza day!

*Fried Chicken
*Mixed squash

Friday *New Recipe Night*
*Creamy lasagna casserole (Taste of home cookbook)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thimble Thursdays....Patterns

I'm still working on my crocheting and my cross stitch. I've slowed down on those as this week and the first part of next is finals and I've been hitting the books pretty hard. So, I've not been tending to those as much as I would have liked. However, I do have this summer off so I'll be able to accomplish more. On that note, I found some rather interesting patterns the other day at the salvation army that I liked. There is this skirt pattern that is really nice, and I figured that would be something to make for myself. And for those that know me, pick yourself up off the floor. Yes, I know I don't wear skirts, generally I don't LIKE skirts, however, sometimes there is a need for a skirt and I'd like to have one if I need it. Also, found a nice suit pattern. Which I will need a few of these for when I'm teaching. And last but not least there are these flare pant/hoodie type of pattern straight from the 70s. I showed it to my Mom and she was all about making them. (a memory of her youth) So there you have it. :) OH and I will have my bag cut out by the next Seams To Me meeting on the 4th. :D Anyways, good times are ahead!

So, do you guys have any good craft projects you're working on?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wednesday's Hearth...gardening and recipes of all kinds!

Yup, its the middle of the week again and there are a couple of recipes to share with you today. Two are food recipes and one is a cleansing recipe that I found in a book I got from the library, and it is really awesome. But first, lets tackle the garden! This past week my niece, the Goob, and I planted our pumpkins out back. Since then Momma Na decided to bring us lots of cold water, so since today seems like it's the prettiest day, I'm going to go out there and see if they've drown or not. My seedlings aren't flourishing like I would hope that they would, so I'm not exactly sure what I'm doing wrong. I'll have to figure it out. But my cucumbers are awesome! They're thriving in the window sill at the moment. Hurray! I grew something!

Now onward to the recipes. First is the recipe for the cleanser. This is a natural face cleanser. This is a cleanser for those who have dry or sensitive skin.

Oatmeal Cleanser

1 cup warm water
1/2 cup oatmeal (quick cook, plain, not instant)
1 tbsp honey

Put all ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth.
Place in an air tight container.

To use: Place a small amount in your hand and massage onto your face, rinse with tepid water and pat dry.

Oh and cheap and easy eye makeup remover!

(I worked retail and this is always between $4-8 per SMALL bottle. This always amazed me.)

1 tbsp each Canola oil, caster oil, and light olive oil.

Mix together and put into a clean container.

To use: put on a cotton swab and wipe over your lashes and eyelids.

Now onto the food recipes!

Pumpkin Apple Streusel Muffins-makes 24 muffins (as gotten from The Frugal Girl

Dry Ingredients
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (or 2 teaspoons cinnamon + 1/4 teaspoon of cloves, ginger, and allspice)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients
2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin
1/2 cup oil

2 cups peeled, chopped apples

2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 teaspoons butter

Heat over to 350. Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, pumpkin and oil together. Stir apples into pumpkin mixture. Gently mix pumpkin mixture into dry ingredients. Spoon batter into 24 greased muffin cups.

Combine streusel ingredients, using a pastry blender. Sprinkle on top of muffins.

Bake 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.


Beef Tortilla Casserole

2lbs ground beef
1 medium onion
8oz jar of taco sauce
6 corn tortillas cut into 1in strips
16oz sour cream
8oz of cheddar cheese

Cut up onion
Brown ground beef with onion until done.
Mix in taco sauce.
Add tortilla strips

Place half the mixture in a greased casserole dish (2.5 quart dish) and layer 1/2 of the sour cream and half the cheese. Repeat layers. And place in a pre-heated 375 degree oven. Cook until cheese is melty and bubbly.

(this is the basic recipe. Next time I'll probably cook the meat in a taco seasoning and add some salsa to the mix. It's good on its own, but for me, it's missing something texturally, and for Mr. V it's missing a certain "kick" he's used to)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Triple "R" Tuesday...The many uses of Baking Soda...

This week I've done my recycling as well as my reducing (well I'm still working on that one. Another huge run to make to the thrift shops to drop off more stuff) and I'm constantly reusing stuff. That's what you do when you need to be frugal. A shower curtain suddenly becomes a bib, or an older towel suddenly becomes a hand towel and wash cloths. But there is something else that we can do. Take what we have and make multi-purpose cleaners that are not only effective, but also better for the environment.

Really, if you have the time, and the elbow grease, you really only need a few tools to get most of the housework accomplished. Vinegar, sodium bicarbonate aka baking soda, bleach, borax and hydrogen peroxide. And I'll go through all of these throughout the time in this blog. But the first one to mention is baking soda. There are innumerable amount of recipes that this can be used for. All from cooking down to beauty supplies, as well as household cleaners. There is no way I could list everything here. So there will be some simple things you can do for the multi-purpose.


Baking Soda is used in leavening, much like baking powder, but whatever you do, NEVER think that the two are interchangeable. Because they aren't. If your recipe calls for baking POWDER, use baking powder, and if you're out, go buy some because baking soda will not do.

Household cleaner:

You can sprinkle some of this down your sink once a week and pour vinegar afterward. After watching the volcanic eruption for a few minutes, you can rinse it down with HOT water and this will help keep your drain cleared out and smelling better.

Mix it with water to form a paste and you have a soft scrub. This is good for sinks, showers, tubs, toilets, floors...the list goes on and on. Anywhere you need a soft abrasive this is your friend!

You can add some to your existing wash load to help make things brighter and fresher.

You can put a box in any closed off environment and it will help to remove any foul odor.

If you're really adventurous you could make your own homemade laundry soap this includes baking soda or "super washing soda" which is baking soda on steroids. Laundry soap recipe

Beauty products:

This can be used to wash your hair. 1tbsp per cup of water. Mix well and pour over dry hair, rub in well into the scalp and do this for a minute, and rinse. Follow this with an apple cider vinegar rinse (2tbsp acv to 1 cup water) and you have clean hair that doesn't tangle. This helps remove residue from your shampoos, conditioners, gels, hairsprays, etc. If you're really adventurous, you could wash your hair this way indefinitely. No real need to buy shampoo and conditioner. (and what frugalista wouldn't want to save that money!)

If you have issues with deodorant sometimes irritating your underarms, or if you're trying to get away from the aluminum in deodorants, and you're trying to find a more natural way, baking soda dusted on, followed by corn starch is a good way. Or if you need your stick. Mix some baking soda with some oil, (light safflower/olive/almond etc) until you get a somewhat dry paste, and push it into your deodorant container. For the greener people, this is inexpensive, and a healthy way to keep that bacteria from setting up on your skin and causing that bad body odor. Now this doesn't prevent sweating, so don't get too irritated if you find out this isn't an antiperspirant.

There are so many things you can do with baking soda, it's almost limitless what CAN be done. And this is reusable in so many places, that this is a dream for the unclutterer AND the frugalista. And on top of that it's GOOD for the environment! So that gets a little green smile. So if you have any little ones running around, this is by far much better than them getting a hold of your store bought housecleaning chemicals. :D

So how do YOU use baking soda?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Money Mondays...Be aware of what you're spending and where....

It's another Money Monday and no I don't have any great bargains for you, or where to get free stuffs, etc. I won't be putting that stuff in here. There are a WHOLE lot of other blogs out there just for that purpose. Last week, I mentioned living below your means as a way to accomplish debtlessness (is that even a word?). That is SO much easier said than done. Does that mean that you eat only beans and cornbread and bologna all week long? Not in the least. Does that mean that you might not get a new console game every month? More than likely. Most people want to put aside a little money for emergencies, or their children's college tuition, or even for their retirement. Really when you think of it, you will have one savings for retirement, one for emergencies, one for each child's future tuition, before you know it, you'll not have any money for bills. And unfortunately, unless you can afford to do that AND eek out a current living, that's not a very practical stance to take. You might even say that you cannot afford to save any money because your current living expenses out weigh your income. That's when you need to evaluate what's important to you, and what you can let go, and what you can pay off early to relieve yourself of your monthly debt. You might even want to keep an expense journal for 30 days just to see how you DO spend money. But for that 30 days, you should just keep the receipts for all your transactions, and your bank statements as well as your payroll checks. This way you see exactly what you have coming in, and just what you spend going out. This means even that 89cent burrito from Taco Bell. Keep that receipt, because this adds up over a year's time.

After your 30 days is up, go through all those receipts. Get you some envelopes, mark them, "household", "entertainment", "car", "grocery", "eating out", and "misc.". In the "household" envelope put your rent, utilities, and home insurance (if your car insurance is also attached here, that's fine, put it here in the "household" envelope)/renter's insurance, etc. The "entertainment" envelope, will carry your cable, internet, movie stubs, games, rentals, netflix, gamefly, etc. "Car" envelope is car maintenance, car payments, car insurance (if alone), and gas. "Grocery" is just that, groceries, that you purchase at the store. "Eating out" should be self explanatory, and is NOT to be placed in the "groceries" envelope. If you can't cook, there are THOUSANDS of sites on the web that can help you, and this is infinitely cheaper than eating out for a week. The "misc." envelope is for things that don't fit in here like if you pay your health insurance out of pocket, savings, etc. After you separated those receipts, you should tally up each envelope and see where the bulk of your money goes. You might be surprised just how much actually goes to entertaining yourself, or what goes into the "eating out" envelope.

After you figure out HOW you spend your money, next you should look at it and evaluate just what you need to do to lower some of these expenses. Generally, your household and car are pretty fixed. Depending on what's in your misc. on whether or not that's flexible. Otherwise, groceries, entertainment and finally eating out are the most flexible. You could cut out your eating out to just 1 meal a week. Decide how much an average meal is, and put that amount aside. The rest is surplus to go towards groceries, because more than likely, you'll be spending more money here. HOWEVER, with careful planning, and smart shopping, this expenditure could go down as well. I have friends who've given themselves spending limits on the flexible expenses.

One friend uses an envelope system. She allots herself only $"X" for groceries per month. And she splits that over the 4(average) weeks per month, and that's all she takes the store with her. This buys all her groceries as well as her toiletries, etc. And she can adhere to that, because if the cash isn't there, she can't spend it. This same friend also relies upon her menu to help her out. I'll talk more about menu planning next week and how it can greatly save you money.

Just being aware of how you spend your money could greatly reduce how much you actually spend.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Food Waste Friday/Menu...

As a means of keeping myself accountable for the wasted food in the house, I followed The Frugal Girl's lead. So every week will be a post about how much food was wasted for the week.

Well, this week was not a triumphant week in the land of Tracy. We did have some waste. :( We had about a third of an italian loaf go to waste, a quarter of a sandwich loaf go to waste, and way too much ground beef, that I'd rather not talk about. It makes me WAY too sad to think on it. The italian loaf, I just couldn't figure out what ELSE to do with it. The sandwich loaf bums me because we were about to have some pb &j's when I figured out that the mold monster had gotten it before I could finish it off. So lunch was delayed while I was scrambling about trying to figure what else to have. And again, the ground beef I don't want to discuss...

Now onto the menu for next week. I repeat I absolutely LOVE this new habit of mine. We're fine tuning it. We've realized that breakfast and lunches are pretty much the same all week and are always on the fly/leftovers, etc. But this DOES make supper making so much easier when you know exactly what you're having, so you can make it. PLUS it makes grocery shopping faster and easier. No more going down EACH isle trying to find stuff to eat. YAY! Anyways! ONWARD yon menu!!!

Breakfasts will be the usual cereal, toast, eggs, pancakes. Lunches are leftovers and sandwiches.

*Fried Pork Chops
*Baked Sweet Potatoes

*Complete meal in a bag (need to get it out of the freezer)

*Ribs (bbq/glazed)
*Mashed potatoes
*Green beans

*Grilled burgers and hotdogs

*Pizza Night!!!

*Baked potato

Friday (new recipe night)
*Roasted Italian Chicken w/ veggies (Meals with a Mission Cook Book)

*Garlic bread

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy EARTH Day! :D

Happy Earth Day everyone! Don't forget to drink out of reusable glasses and containers, use glass over plastic (if you can), walk instead of drive (if you can), read outside instead of watch tv or play on the computer (If you can, and BAD me!). Turn off your computer and other electric items, and open those windows! It's a gorgeous day out there in the land of Tracy. We have all our windows open. I went to school, and now I'm home for the day. About to go outside and finish working on my spot and plant some pumpkins and then just enjoy the day with my family, probably outside enjoying this weather while we have it. :)

So what are you guys doing to celebrate Earth Day? What do you do every day that is more Earth friendly? Do you bicycle instead of drive? Do you garden? Do you by local and/or organic? Do you re-purpose things?

Thimble Thursdays...

So today I have a Spanish class, and after my test I was talking with la profesora, Sra. J. We were discussing Spanish Tortillas and I was mentioning bringing one to clase on Monday, when she mentioned that she saw my blog. (Yup, that's right, I'm throwing in some Spanish words now. :P How's that for some Spanglish! ) She also mentioned that she sews also. YAY! I love learning something new about someone, especially if it is a shared interest. It's almost like a bonding over something you never talked about. But there it is, that kinship. I mentioned our sewing circle to her, so hopefully, she'll make it out sometime. If not, maybe she could join online and work it out from there. :) Ms. C.Michele is very easy to work with.

Well, I'm getting my work area cleared and settled away so I can set up my sewing machine. OH my! The nerves get to me. Honestly that machine is daunting with all its levers and spindles and such, and this is an UNcomplicated machine. I will conquer that machine. I won't let it get the best of me! I have some sewing to do and by gollys I'm going to do it!

I have my nieces birthday present all figured out. :) Since she's such a voracious reader, I'm going to make her 5 corner bookmarks and a kindle book-style cover. I have to by a book board for the cover, but that's ok, it'll keep the kindle safer than without it. But I have the patterns and I just need to get some fabric and I'll be all set. I really looked over the bookmarks, those are something I'd feel more comfortable sewing by hand, since there is pretty much only decorative stitching to be done. I know the lady suggests using her machine for the "x", but seriously....I can't sew a line, let alone an "x". Hand-sewing....completely different ballgame. I can have that down pat. I just need to get the calico fabric and magnetic tape, and I'll be in like quinn.

Now, the kindle cover....that's a horse of a different colour. I will need to use the machine for that, if for no other reason than the strength of the stitches. Besides, it's basically all straight lines. Definitely more simple than the curves of the "x". OH and about that purse I'm wanting to make. I JUST about have the pattern figured out. :) Yay! Go me. I'll go over it with Ms. C. Michele on the 4th, and get her take on it and see what she says. :)

So, what are all your hobbies/crafty goodness? Cooking and baking are crafts. Are you able to create new recipes with a few ingredients? Gardening, especially landscape-type gardening is a craft as well. Photography. There are many things that take talent to do. What's yours?

PS. For those that didn't know, you can still post a comment on my blog, even if you aren't a friend of the blog. Just be sure to put your name at the end, so I'll know who you are.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wednesday's Hearth.... Cheeseburger Biscuit Bake

This week we had a cheeseburger biscuit bake. This is REALLY good for when you don't have a whole lot of time and you need an all in one meal.

This I got from a little Taste of Homes Casserole cookbook . You know the ones that are sitting on the checkout as you are buying your stuff.

Anyways, here is the recipe, and I'll tell you some of the things I've done to modify it to fit my mood.

1lb ground beef
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 can (8oz) tomato sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
2 cups (8oz) shredded chedder cheese, divided
1 tube (12oz) refrigerated biscuits, separated into 10 biscuits
pepper to taste

In a large skillet, cook beef and onion until meat is done. Drain. Stir in the tomato sauce, ketchup and pepper. Spoon half of the meat mixture into a greased 8x8x2 baking dish. Sprinkle with half the cheese. Repeat layers.

Place bicuits around edges of dish. Bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees (f) for 18-22 minutes until the meat mixture is bubbly and biscuits are brown.

* You can add diced potato or carrots or peas if you'd like. You could add crumble bacon if you'd like for that bacon cheeseburger taste. If you're wanting to go a healthier route, you could lessen the cheese and use ground turkey instead. Nothing really replaces the biscuits on this one, so I guess you COULD leave those off. But then it wouldn't be a biscuit bake. But there's all sorts of ways you could play with this basic recipe. :)

NOTE: I find it better to cook it most of the way BEFORE adding the biscuits. They aren't as mushy on the bottom if you do it that way and they brown up better.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Triple "R" Tuesdays...

For a while now, I've been wanting to and trying to figure out a way from buying sodas. Nothing is working. I am just as much an addict as the next guy. There's just something about the bubbly concoction that just gets my motor revving. Now if that's from caffeine or sugar, I don't know. Either way, it looks as though sodas are here to stay. Ok, that's fine with me. But I'm NOT comfy with all the cans just going into the trash bin. So, Mr. V and I did some talking and we purchased a simple 30 gallon outdoor waste bin, and some thick liners. So, as we are drinking the sodas, we're rinsing them out and then at the end of the day, stomping on them and putting them in the outdoor bin. When it gets full, we're going to take it to a local metal recycling center. Once we get enough money to purchase another 13 gallon bin, we're going to buy one of those, and start recycling our plastic and paper to take to the city. They said if you take it to their office, they'll recycle it for you. My aunt was disappointed that they weren't going to pay you for it, but that part doesn't matter to me. I just want to do it to show responsibility to my son for cleaning up after ourselves. This is more than just inside the home. This is the planet in which we live.

And speaking of the planet in which we live. I've been doing a lot of thinking on sustainability and the whole "green" movement. And really, if you are going to hate washing your windows with vinegar and complain that you miss your windex. Then use windex, pull your sustainability somewhere else. Maybe you are into eating organic, homegrown veggies from your window box. Great! That's what it is all about. You have to be able to maintain your sustainability, otherwise, it's not going to be something you'll do for the rest of your life. Like myself, I'm growing some veggies in a container on my back porch. I am slowly decreasing the amount of crazy cleaners in my house, and I am recycling, and re-purposing some things. Some things that I cannot live without are my Air Conditioning. Because my son gets these crazy asthma attacks when his allergies flair up, I am not willing to risk his comfort for that of saving a few more dollars. Now, this is when it is HOT, while it is breezy and he seems ok, I'll open a window or two and let the breeze pass through my house. And due to the area that I live in (NO public transit), driving in my car is a necessary evil if I'm to go to the college or even the grocery. I even carry my own bags into the grocery store, so I don't have to use the plastic. And what plastic I DO get, I use as garbage bags for my small trash cans. And if I have any surplus of those (I'm REALLY trying to cut THIS down), we take them to the stores for recycling.

So, though it's nice and all to say that we're going to be uber eco-friendly and pee in a bucket and use that refuse as fertilizer for plants, if that's not something you are comfortable with, it isn't something that will work for you. If you can eat alfalfa all day in your weed slacks and live in a house like a hobbit, GREAT! That's truly commendable and awesome. I wished I could, but I can't. I'm trying to do better and learn a more natural way. And that's alright. So long as you know your limits and you try to stretch them just a little, and you try to treat this planet like the home you live in (or better if you live like some people on Hoarders!), then you'll do fine.

I think the worst thing any of us can do, is try to go gung ho on this and gross ourselves out or wear ourselves out by taking on too much. Or by overwhelming ourselves by taking on too much at one time.

So what do you guys do that is sustainable living? What are the limits you draw for your sustainable living? How far are you willing to push yourself?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Money Mondays...

You won't get great investment tips from me or how to get rich quick. This is just a simple matter of living beneath your means, and making your dollars stretch and work for you, rather than against you.

We're really lucky, when you think about it. We don't have much in the way of debt. We aren't buying our home, so we don't have that debt, though we do pay rent. I consider that much like utilities. A necessary evil. We have 2 cars. One is paid for, and the other is almost paid off. So there is THAT debt. We don't have credit cards or any misc. loans. Between the two of us, we have one student loan, which we're hoping to get paid off next year. And that doesn't have to be paid on until I graduate from school, which though, I'll have my associates soon, I'm heading straight into my bachelors program. I'm going to try to not take out another loan on top of that one, but we'll see how that pans out.

For most of my adult life, I've been a single woman with no children. This changed a couple of years ago, when Mr. V and I found out we were expecting. This was a rather large surprise because neither of us were supposed to be able to have children. So, us living in an already crowded duplex, with no means to get anything larger, plus our limited means, really put us in a pinch. So we "tightened" our belts, so to speak, and we started embarking on our trek to financial freedom. Granted, we don't go to the movies as often as we'd like. We don't get video games or trips to see concerts like we used to. However, we are pretty happy in our little space. And we've even knocked things down to only one income. That's right. Only one income. Things are pretty tight. But we figured it out, with daycare, we'd spend more money than I make in a month just for Lil Mr. V's things. And in school my toughest semesters are coming with student teaching and all. So we made the decision for me to quit, and spend the time at home with our little guy and we'd pinch pennies.

Living beneath our means. Seems so simple. Dave Ramsey talks on and on about minding the company you keep, because you're income is going to be much like theirs down the road, etc. And in another blog I read today, she mentions it's more than their salary...look at their attitude towards money. You know those people that seem to accumulate money and yet they can buy things all the time. Makes you wonder how they can do all that, when it seems like all your money goes right out the window. Yeah. Apparently, if you hang around those frugal minded people, you too, will begin to pick up on their habits and you'll start to accumulate money as well.

For me, this is a new adventure. I'm positive I'll make some mistakes along the way. And I'm also positive I'll be making more progress than not. :)

So what are some of your methods of living beneath your means? Do you coupon clip? Go to thrift stores? How about choosing to live in a house that won't break the budget?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Food Fridays!

Food Friday! Happy days are here again! As you know Fridays are the days that we look in our fridges and in our fruit baskets and bread bins and onion/potato bins and check to see if we have food a'wastin that needs to be tossed out. This really happens on Thursday for me as my local trash pickup is on Friday. So my city trash bin is at the curb awaiting the city boys arrival. And drum roll please...... No waste this week. :D HURRAY! HURRAY! Too good to be true! :D YAY! My food waste has gone down tremendously since I started making a weekly menu. My grocery bill has gone way down as well! I seem to have more groceries than ever, yet by this time every week, it's getting low. Good thing though. Out of all the changes I've made recently, this one is the simplest, most effective, and already most relied upon habit. I love it, love it, love it!

I think I'm going to combine things on Friday. Food waste as well as my menu for next week. So that way if there is any particular recipes that you want, you can let me know and by Wednesday I can post the recipe on "Wednesday's Hearth". Sound good to you? Sounds good to me!

Anyways, here we go for our menu for the next week. We'll go from Saturday-Friday and I'll give you an idea of every day. Also, if you wanted to check out a good menu planner, to make it simple and sweet go to Econobusters It's an E-book that has printable menu templates and a grocery list as well as recipe cards. Plus she has some menus in the end. I've tried a few and they're pretty good. :)

Ok, on to the Menu!
Since we have such a surplus of cereal in this house, breakfast will be cereal! Yay go Cereal!

Lunches will be a mixture of leftovers, pb&j's, sandwiches, soups, salads, etc. Mostly just for things that are laying around. Chicken nuggets for Lil Mr. V. that sort of thing.


*Beef Stew

*BBQ Ribs

*Leftovers or


*Grilled Pork Chops and Brats
*Baked Beans
*Mashed Potatoes

*Baked Chicken
*Au Gratin Potatoes
*Green Beans

*Burger Tortilla Casserole (new recipe)
*Spanish Rice

So do you guys keep a weekly planned menu? Do you cook whatever you're in the mood for? What is new that you guys have recently made? Willing to swap recipes?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Thimble Thursdays

So, it's Thimble Thursday in Tracy Land. Of course the original reason for this blog was because of my desire to learn how to sew and to get back in touch with my crafty self. And I have. In my search for things I can toss I ran across all my old craft supplies. Granted, it was taking up a rather large space in one room. I COULD get rid of it, especially since I hadn't used any of it in years. But, I just joined this awesome sewing circle. And we're more than just sewing. We're all those crafts. Cooking, baking, quilting, sewing, crocheting, knitting, you name it, we have it (pretty much!). And so I didn't want to give that stuff away when I could MAKE something out of it. And since we've gone down to only one income, it would be better on our holiday and birthday budgets if I could make most of our presents. So I took inventory of what I had and I decided that there were several presents there that I could make. A few that I was going to make for the house to increase it's homey factor, but then that's just me. Like there is this cotton worsted weight yarn that I have in white and a pretty yellow/blue. I'm going to make a throw for our living room out of that. I also have this rather chunky yarn in bright pinks and purples and I have that figured out for someone. I have a few cross stitches that I want to make for other people. So since I found my stuff, I've worked on one of the cross stitches and some of the crocheting. I taught my niece how to crochet. She's decided that she's making her Mom a lap throw. She came with me to my last meeting. She's an artistic sort of person, so I'm glad that she's learning how to do stuff like crochet. She wants to learn how to sew. So I had some excess grey false suede material that I'm going to teach her how to sew a pillow out of. And after that if she's still interested in learning how to do stuff, I'll teach her how to cross stitch. I have a few things I want to make for her for her birthday. Which it will be easy material. I just have to get my sewing machine out and the right fabric to do it in. Anyways, I'm getting ahead of myself. Hopefully, I'll have my new camera soon and I'll start posting pictures of my projects as I'm working through them.

So what are some of the projects you're working on? If you're not working on something, what do you want to do? Or what kind of craft would you love to learn? Gardening? Pottery? Jewelry making? The sky is the limit!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wednesday's Hearth - Italian "tacos"

The new thing out today is this idea that I got from my friend Mr. Mike. We have homemade pizzas on Wednesdays and I had a LOT of leftover browned Italian sausage and I was lamenting on what to do with the remainder as I didn't want to throw it out. And so he helped me brainstorm and asked if Italians had anything like a tortilla. And since we couldn't think of a bread/tortilla like thing that they have, he suggested Pita pockets and making "tacos" out of it. So, I ran with it and here it goes. (I REALLY wished I had a picture of it. And maybe when I get my new camera I'll start adding pictures)

Now sorry for the lack of measurements. Unless it's baking EVERYTHING for me is to "taste". So, you'll get the ingredients and an idea of what it should look like/taste like, and that will be that.

Italian Tacos

*Homemade pasta sauce (unchunky style)with finely ground beef in it
(I had made lasagna a couple of nights before and this was what was remaining of the sauce)
*Finely ground mild Italian sausage
*Ricotta Cheese
*Mozzarella Cheese
*Split Pita pockets

Since most all of this was leftovers, everything can be mixed cold.
Mix the sauce with the sausage to make it even more thick.
Open the pita and put some Ricotta in the bottom, layer the meat sauce in, layer the mozzarella on top.
I cooked all of them up, so I used an 8x8 pan so they'd all stand upright.
Place in a pre-heated oven 400 degrees F.
Cook until mozzarella is melted.

Let cool and eat! It was VERY good. So much so that Mr. V wanted me to add it to our "must" use recipe list. :D I am going to make them tonight along with our pizza so Mr. Mike can try it.

What is so great about this dish, it is truly leftovers. The only thing bought special for this dish was the pita bread. So this is a great lunch or Leftover Thursday dinner.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Triple "R" Tuesdays

Reuse, Reduce, Recycle!

I've been attempting to declutter the house for a little bit. I've went from being a full time student, full time Mom, full time spouse, and full time employee. The employee thing had to be cut back, because though Mr. V thinks I'm great, I'm not THAT great. And due to some issues with our babysitter (aka Mom) needing knee replacement surgery, I had to quit work as well. Which I was going to have to quit come August anyways. I'm going to have an intense semester and there would have been too much of a conflict between school and work. So, I've been looking at everything in my house as a means of do I need it, can I use it, or does it need to go to someone who can. The mantra Reuse, reduce or recycle. So I've been slowly pecking away at things to donate, recycle, keep, or throw out. I've also been looking into cleaning in a more natural and clean way since having had my son. I've mentioned earlier about finding a good "recipe" for homemade laundry soap. I got it from C. Michele. Since this is my own personal journey, there will be things that aren't as green or as frugal as I could have done, as in cloth diapering. Honestly, Lil Mr. V's dad doesn't like the idea. Though it doesn't bother me. Especially now
that he's getting older. But we do things like push mow our small yard with a push reel mower. And I am cleaning more with vinegar and baking soda instead of all the harsh chemicals that you buy in the store. Though our negative effect isn't nil, we are reducing it from what it was.

On the reusing side of things, I've rediscovered rags. You know, those things you use to wash dishes and the softer ones that you use to wash your body. So instead of body puffs and sponges, I just use rags. I have some old towels I need to cut down and re-hem for dish towels and hand towels. I'm also putting myself out there to no longer buy bottled water. I do have a plastic reusable bottle that I'm using for my water. I also have a water filter pitcher that sits in my fridge. It's one of those 2 gallon ones. So I get good cold, refreshing water from there. So instead of going to the convenience store to get water or a soda or coffee before class, I'm grabbing my bottle and filling it up and heading out.

On the reduce front, I'm definitely doing that. I'm not using as much soap as I used to. I'm also toying with the idea of not using standard shampoo and using baking soda instead to wash my hair. It makes me wonder if my semi-curly hair would turn curly. I've heard that since it's so much lighter on your hair and if you can get past the icky stage, it's better for your hair. But it's that icky stage that worries me. I don't like having gross hair. But we'll see when I get my gumption up.

On the recycling front is where most of the action has been happening. So far, I've taken garbage bags of clothes, shoes, and toys of Lil Mr. V's to a local pro-life advocacy group. I've already taken a few things to our local goodwill. I have a couple of boxes and a laundry basket full of items from my kitchen and some clothes to take this week. Mr. V mentioned that he was also going to be going through his clothes to get rid of things that he could no longer or would no longer wear. So, we're working on this decluttering in our home.

What are you guys doing to declutter your home?

Blog plans

Ok, so I'm going to start working on theme days. Mondays will be "Money Mondays". This is my accountability of spending as well as my diary of becoming debt free. Tuesday will be "Reuse, Reduce, Recycle Tuesdays". This goes in with my new take on frugal low key living. It's also my take on getting back to basics and reducing my negative impact on the Earth. Wednesdays is "Wednesday Hearth" this will be baking and gardening and all other of homemaking stuffs. Thursday is "Thimble Thursday" this is where I'll be posting all my crafty goodies and projects. And Fridays are "Food Waste Friday." This will cover other wastes as well. Things I can't reuse, reduce, or recycle. Hopefully there won't be much here. So I hope to see you on this trek of mine. If you have any input, please by all means, tell me, and I'll be sure to answer or respond as best as possible.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Food Waste Friday

This week we had a little food waste. I had made some homemade chicken gravy. I have learned that it doesn't hold up well in the fridge. So it was chucked. As well as some sour cream that the remnants went bad before we had our fajitas last night. Thursdays are the leftover day. And we had plenty of bells cut up, so I made chicken fajitas to use them up. For my first bunch of fajitas, I did rather well I think. I have a goal of spending 75$/week for groceries, and so far we're sticking to that rather well. Now this does NOT factor in how much Mr. V spends. Because he buys those energy drinks sometimes and he will buy something for his lunch if he doesn't feel like eating what I've sent with him. So, as far as the grocery bill goes, we're in budget.

As for sewing news....I got a really pretty burgundy outer cloth shower curtain and some interesting striped sturdy cloth for a whole $1.99. I think I'm going to make my modified Tiny Happy Bag out of that. I want more organization in my bags. I hate carrying a purse and a diaper bag and etc etc. I feel like a bellhop. So I'm going to create 2 pockets in this bag, one for a couple of diapers and some wipes and maybe a sippy cup and small toy. And the other pocket will have pockets to hold my spare car door key and my wallet and a cell phone. And I'll have a loop with a small carabiner to hook my keys. There will be a few things loose in the bottom, but nothing like otherwise.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

In my search for decluttering, I found a gold mine....

Which really makes it sound like I'm a hoarder. Which I'm not. Honestly. I don't have the space for hoarding. However, I was going through my crafting stuff looking for my N-size crochet hook, and I found lots of cross stitch that I hadn't completed. Which in my quest for clearing things up and searching for good Christmas gifts, I found a gold mine. Literally, lots of presents (that are usable), with no cost to us because it is something I already had. Yay! Go me! :D I would say I what I am going to make and for whom, but those people might start reading my blog and I don't want to spoil the fun this far in advance!

Anyways, time for my sewing meeting. Going to learn how to crochet a rug out of old sheets. Yay! :D

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The day between two days....

Yesterday was Good Friday. The day we pay respects to Jesus for dying on the cross for all of us, whether or not we believe in his values or his Father. And tomorrow is Easter. The day he rose again to return to his Father in Heaven. Today, I'm baking these and they are smelling awesome! We're also going to be colouring some Easter eggs for Lil Mr. V to hunt around the house. It's raining today and he's been sick lately, so I don't want to get him out to the big Easter Egg hunt that's going on at the Park. We're also going to be making sugar cookies. I got a HUGE box of cookie cutters. 101 cutters for only $10. That's a site better than 3 for $3 for ONLY Easter themed cutters. I think he'll enjoy putting them together.

On another note...My cucumbers are rather large, I'm going to have to thin them out. My beets look spindly and I have 3 rather large pumpkin sprouts. I have lots of tomato sprouts and I have a few onion sprouts. I see a very few parsley sprouts and a couple of lavender. We'll see how they turn out. :) Go go grow light!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Food Waste Friday

Well, we had no food waste this week, YAY! I was able to do something with those bananas and oranges, so there was no waste, whoohoo!

I realized last night that I REALLY rely on my menu planning. I've only done it for 2 weeks, but it's made things so much easier for Mr. V and myself that when we have a cog thrown in the wheel, it really causes issues. Last night was our leftover night, and since we did that on Monday (because he went to bed so early), we were going to have that meal yesterday. (confused yet? *L*) Anyways, his mom invited us over for supper. Which was nice, since she works over 80 hours/week, we've not seen her since Lil Mr. V's birthday back in December. So we went to her house. But she forgot that yesterday was Thursday. She was thinking it was Wednesday, and had only JUST set out what we were having. So, we had no dinner at her house, we had nothing thawed out at our house. We had no leftovers. So we had to resort to buying fast food because it was getting pretty late. I realized then, that though it is a NEW habit, it's such a wonderful habit to have that I can't/won't get rid of it. We're flexible, it can be re-arranged, and such. But for the most part, it's so nice to have. You don't have to do any guess work and finagling ingredients together. You get out what you need to get out. You have everything you need because you shop for the meals and voila, stress free. And it's not nearly as time consuming as my prior methods. Yay!

Anyways, off to paying bills and grocery shopping for me!