Sunday, March 6, 2011

Back to Menu Planning

I wasn't kidding before when I talked about what a CHORE menu planning is for me.  BUT, my lack of doing so in February hit me hard - in the wallet and in the weight department.  Yuck and double yuck!  So that being said, we are going back to the menu planning (sigh).

Today I made two huge batches of soup - a simple lentil soup that I totally made up and homemade creamy tomato soup...also made up but with inspiration from the ol' internet.  Both will be used to accommodate lunches for both myself and Big B during the week.  And I can't tell you how economical both turned out to be. 

Simple Lentil Soup
A drizzle of oil (your choice, but I use sunflower)
1/2 of a yellow onion, diced
Spices to taste (I chose - turmeric, cumin, celtic sea salt, black pepper, and Paul Prudhome's Magic Pepper Sauce)
1 Bag of Dried Lentils (cost no more than $1.25 at my grocery) - rinsed and picked over
Lots of Water (about 8 cups or so)

Heat oil in bottom of dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat; place onions in oil and move around the bottom of the pan until they turn translucent.  I like to add my seasonings to the onions, but you can add them once the water is in if that makes you happy :)  Once the onion is soft, add lentils and turn them around the pan a few times.  Then add the water and bring to a boil. Let boil a few minutes, turn it down, then simmer until the lentils are the consistency you like (I like them soft, but that is personal preference).  Once they were cooked the way I liked them, I took out about 1 1/2 cups, added them to the blender, gave them a couple of whirls, then added them back to the pot.  It gives the soup a consistency that I really like.  Cheap, easy, and healthy!! 

Now onto the dinners....
Monday - Bow Tie Pasta with Alfredo Sauce, Sauteed Green Beans
Tuesday - Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Wednesday - Baked White Fish, Lima Beans, Potatoes
Thursday - Good Ol' Fashioned Spaghetti, Broccoli
Friday - Oven Roasted Chicken, Cheesy Rice and Broccoli Bake

Cheers - hope you have a wonderful week!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

February Recap

They say time flies when you're having fun.  If that is true, then I must be having a BLAST!  And yes, I can honestly say that the conscious decision I made to have more fun this year is really paying off.  Since I was so busy having a good time in February and didn't write about any of it, here is a quick rundown of all the fun I was having:

Girls night out with friends from my old job - it was so great to see everyone and catch up on what new things life is bringing their way.  Went to a great place called Taco Mamacita.  Good friends, good food, good margaritas...OLE!

My first official Meet Up - I started a Meet Up group for working moms in my area.  We went to a Mexican restaurant (do you see a pattern here?) and had lunch and chatted.  It was really neat to meet new and wonderful ladies and chat the day away.  We have another Meet Up scheduled for March (this one will be over coffee...chips on the lips goes straight to the hips!)

Family Bowling Night - I can't begin to tell you how much fun this was.  Big B and I helped Little A bowl granny style.  Her score was better than mine for a good part of the game, but I pulled through in the end and won.  Two strikes and a spare in the last three frames took me over the top.  We had so much fun that we have decided to make this a once a month event!

My 40th Birthday! - Big B went over and above planning a wonderful birthday weekend for me.  He took me to Tunica and surprised me by having my best friend and her husband come up from Atlanta!  I was so excited...and he took me to my favorite restaurant for dinner (follow the link for a virtual tour).  My in-laws came to stay with Little A while we were gone, which was also a wonderful gift.

So I can honestly say that despite the rough weather we had in February, I really did have a lot of fun.  Lot's more fun to be had in March.  But on the flip side of all that fun, we (I) have decided that we will do our deep spring cleaning this month.  That means not only will we clean, but we will de-clutter and organize.  We have 5 main rooms, and each weekend will be dedicated to one room.  This weekend, since the weather is rainy and doing stuff outside is really not an option, we are going big with the master bedroom.  This ought to be interesting....

Until next time, CHEERS!

Sprucing Up a Bit

Dilemma - I love to decorate, but I don't really decorate my own house that much because I don't like to spend the money on it.  Now, if someone handed me $500 and asked me to decorate for THEM, easy peasy.  So when I do go shopping for home decor, I am a fanatic for Home Goods and TJ Maxx.  (Not to mention the paint department at my local Wal Mart.) 

For as long as I've lived in this house, (going on 8 years) it has always just been sort of ho hum to me.  So Big B and I decided to put a little effort into making our living room the room we've always wanted it to be.  We still have a little bit to go, but so far so good.  Here's the breakdown:

2 Gallons of Paint - $50 (we bought the really good stuff with the primer built in, so it cost a little more)
Prints - $90 for all four
Wall Sconces - $45
Mirror - $30
Pillows - $18
Fireplace - wonderful Christmas gift :)

Since this picture was taken, we've also mounted the speakers to the wall (at the top where you see the wire hanging out of the wall).  It really finishes it off nicely.

Grand total we have spent so far is $233, which I think is pretty good for such a big change.  And we didn't spend it all at once, so it didn't blow the budget.

I will post more pictures of the prints and pillows we purchased soon. And as always, I would love to hear your ideas on how to decorate on the cheap.   Cheers!