Saturday, April 2, 2011

March Recap

I've always heard that the older you get, the faster time seems to move along.  Well, I've only been 40 for a mere thirty five days and I'd like to know where the last month went!!!  What the heck?  I just blinked and now it's already April.   I can say the fun certainly continued in March, so here is a rundown of the month that was.

MeetUp - We had such a nice time the first go round, we met again for breakfast.   What a great group of ladies!  It is so nice to just sit and chat over a leisurely breakfast...

Pokeno Night - Oh how I love this!  Great friends, great wine, yummy snacks, fun gifts, and stealing.  Intrigued?  I'll post all about pokeno soon.

Rummaging with the Neighbor - My precious next door neighbor and I went to a rummage sale and I found the coolest planter for my side porch.  We had a great time shopping and talking about dreams and plans for the future!

Family Fun Night - Little A has been friends with Little K since they were babies in daycare.  Which means their mamas have been friends that long too :)  It has been such a joy to see these girls grow up together.  Well, Little A is only 3 months older than K, but A made it to kindergarten this year while K stayed in daycare.  Long story short, we got together last Saturday night and had the most wonderful time.  I cooked a pork tenderloin, homemade mashed potatoes, and Chinese Cabbage Salad (you know, the one with the toasted ramen noodles in it).  Wow was it good.  Then to top it all off, we listened to 80's music and the girls got a dose of what their mamas used to dance to - and dance we did!  A great night of friends, food, fun, and dancing!

Can't wait to see what April has in store - cheers!

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!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Meal Plan - Week of 1/31

It's seven thirty and I'm sweatin' bullets.  I've looked at what feels like a gazillion recipe sites, blogs, magazines, and cookbooks and I have YET to come up with this week's meal plan.  Why hasn't this gotten any easier?  It's got to, right? (Side note...I just checked out three more sites...still nothin')

Monday - Bow Tie Pasta with Chicken and Sun-dried Tomato Alfredo Sauce
Tuesday - Turkey Dogs and Oven Baked Fries
Wednesday - Chicken Parmesan Paninis
Thursday - Veal Stew and Baked Sweet Potatoes
Friday - Creamy Chicken Lasagna

Note there is a lot of chicken this week...guess what has been on sale lately and in my freezer? :)  Cheers every one - have a great week!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Making Progress

As I posted earlier, I am making it my business to put a little fun back into my life, to get my bucket list started, blah, blah, blah. 

Fun....check.  Work on bucket list...check!  (You can see her progress by clicking on the link on the right side of the page.)  Yes, I actually accomplished a little bit of both this week.  Yay me!

Fun Stuff
I enjoyed a "mom's night out" on Friday. Yes, you heard me right.  Yes, this coming from the one who is usually ready to go to bed around 8:30.  And yes, I HAD SO MUCH FUN.  I got together with girlfriends from my "old job".  Gals I have known for a long time...oh how times and things have changed.  We played Pokeno and talked and laughed and ate (and drank a little - drank, drunk, drinked?) and laughed some more.  AND - wait for it - I didn't get home until midnight.  Yep, you heard me right.  But I handled it like a champ.  Of course, it is 9:00 as I'm writing this and all I can think about is going to bed ;-) 

I also started a MeetUp group for working / commuting moms in my area.  So far I've had two people join.  My sweet neighbor whose arm I didn't have to twist too much at all, and another person who saw my ad for the group.  So excited to see if it will get off the ground.  If so, more fun to be had!

And perhaps, the most fulfilling fun of all was when Big B and I took Little A to Monkey Joe's today.  I know what you're probably thinking..."she had FUN at Monkey Joe's with all the screaming and the running and the jumping?"  Trust me, that is what I thought when we first walked in.  But I have to say, Little A is a bit of a daredevil when she wants to be.  And to see her jump and hurl herself down a slide as fast as she possibly can is the best - that smile makes it all worth it.  Not to mention the fact that she is fast asleep because of said screaming, running, and jumping!

Can't wait to see what fun we can muster up next week...cheers!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Meal Plan - Week of 1/24

Here we go again.  I have spent so much of my weekend "worrying" about this meal plan.  You see, I am in SERIOUS save money mode.  So I have challenged myself this week to eat only what we have on hand in the freezer and pantry.  The only things I am going to buy at the grocery this week are orange juice and eggs.  That's it.  I cleaned out my pantry and fridge yesterday and realized that I have enough food to make a week's worth of meals and then some, and that includes sweet treats.  My only worry is that I really don't have a lot of fruits and vegetables, but I think I have enough to manage.  We shall see!

It is not lost on me that dried beans are not only healthy, but very budget friendly.  After the dust settled, I realized I have pintos, black beans, great northerns, lentils, AND split peas.  I think we have enough beans to conduct our own symphony ;)  That being said, I soaked the pintos last night, cooked them this morning, portioned and vacuum-sealed them, and put them in the freezer.  I see a lot of soup in our future.  Good thing, because this winter has really gotten the best of me.  Come on spring!

Monday - Pulled Turkey BBQ Sandwiches with homemade BBQ Sauce and Homemade Sweet Potato Fries
*I use this Slow Cooker Turkey Breast recipe utilizing whatever seasonings I have on hand!  I pull it myself and make the sauce too (I always make that one up as I go and it's always good!)
Tuesday - Turkey Fettuccine Alfredo with Sauteed Green Beans
*I will use leftover turkey and repeat this meal from last week (minus the broccoli)
Wednesday - Pasta e Fagioli
*I will adjust this recipe slightly by using the pinto beans I cooked and I will use the mini corkscrew pasta I have on hand.
Thursday - Homemade Chicken and Dumplings and Green Beans                                                    *Mmmm....I can't wait for this one! 
Friday - My first official Girls Night Out of the year!!  Since it is payday and the start of a new allocated spending period, I am pretty sure Big B and Little A will enjoy a little father / daughter dinner out.

I hope everyone has a wonderful week - cheers!