Find more (and more inspiring) menu plans at Org Junkie's post.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Find more (and more inspiring) menu plans at Org Junkie's post.
Saturday, January 22, 2011
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Lately, my daughter has been wearing out the knees of her pants. (I suspect this has a lot to do with spending time on her hands and knees being a horse, specifically a race horse.) The pants still fit and, even if I had ever approved of the "holey jeans" look, it is the middle of winter. In Minnesota.
On the other hand, there are some knit socks she has outgrown that are in fine shape -- but I don't have a younger child to pass them down to. And, since they are mostly Children's Place socks acquired during their sales, they are of a similar knit fabric -- and colors -- to her knit pants.
Solution: socks as material for patches. Granted, the pair in this photo doesn't exactly match the shade of pink of the pants -- which is why my mom's idea to use a teddy-bear shaped cookie cutter as a template for the patches worked so well.
(Note: my mom actually did the sewing required to apply these patches. Technically, I do have the skills to do it myself...but it's unlikely that the pants would still fit by the time I got to it.)
This week's menu plan has us still eating mostly out of the freezer/pantry, although the plan is to actually do a "real" grocery shopping run this week -- a few things need replaced, and citrus fruit and cereal are on sale. Used up a couple of oranges last week by making some fresh-squeezed orange juice and then running the rinds down the garbage disposal to clean/freshen it, and also successfully substituted "can of French onion soup" in the ingredients for the salisbury steak with onion gravy with a can of beef broth with the remaining portion of a package of onion soup mix mixed in. The salisbury steak tasted OK, but was more labor-intensive than it was worth (especially since my beef patties never stay stuck together). The calzones and sauteed apples and raisins meal, however, won high marks from the four-year-old, who is now claiming that it is her "favorite" meal.
Monday: Vegetable Stuffing Bake
A recipe culled from the ads within coupon inserts when I was living in my first young adult solo apartment, it's an old standby around here, with ingredients like StoveTop stuffing mix (in the cupboard, from Thanksgiving-time sales), frozen veggies (mixed veg this time), Miracle Whip and shredded cheese. The cheese was what didn't get used in last week's calzones, and we also threw in the rest of the ground ham that didn't get used in that recipe.
Tuesday: Crockpot Chili
There really isn't a recipe for this one: I take some browned hamburger (some of the family pack that I browned on Saturday when I was making our salisbury steak meal), some chopped onion (I pulled a bag of chopped onion out of the freezer last night), a couple of cans of kidney beans, some cans of tomato sauce and some chili powder (all from the cupboard), and turn the crockpot on to simmer on low all day.
Wednesday: Chicken and Pasta
More chicken breasts from my stockup purchase in December, plus a box of Good Earth pasta mix stuff that I discovered in my cupboard from...something...when I did a pantry inventory..
Thursday: Macaroni and Cheese and Tuna
I'm supposed to be at a meeting Thursday night, and this is an easy meal for DH to pull together to feed the starving masses. (Yes, we only have one child, but she's a big eater.) All of this is from the cupboard.
We actually ate the last of the pizza from our freezer at last week's family movie night -- which is one reason I'm going grocery shopping this week.
Not sure yet. A few ideas that have kicked themselves around include Cocktail Weinies (there is a package in the freezer because I didn't want to make too much for our family Christmas dinner when we were going out of town the next day) -- which just doesn't actually seem like something one should plan a meal around; the potato recipe from The Tightwad Gazette, both because I recently read it and it seems intriguing (and I really do need to use up those last four potatoes), and five-cup fruit salad -- the recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens red and white cookbook -- because the four-year-old has requested it recently, and I may be able to use the portion of canned pineapple that is in the freezer because it was too much for whatever recipe I used the rest of it in.
Find more menu plans for the week at Org Junkie's Jan. 17 Menu Plan Monday post.
Monday, January 17, 2011
So, not starting off too well on the whole keeping up with the "weekly" part of the week in review thing. But, here it is, nonetheless.
Last weekend was my mom's retirement party, after 28 years of being a librarian. This was in my hometown, in a different state, and unfortunately my husband ended up having to work that weekend, so it was just me and the four-year-old who drove down for it. We had a nice weekend with my sister's family -- there was what seemed like a never-ending parade of little girls through my parents' house, to the extent that they had to be counted every time they went through a path way that someone else was about to step into, lest that someone else collide with one of them -- and the party was nice as well. It will be weird, though, to no longer have my mom working at the library.
Some extended family members attended the party as well, and we went out for dinner at a restaurant locally well known for its potato soup. It's a secret recipe, and it's darned good. Despite the oddity that, when we arrived at my parents' house, they actually had no snow on the ground (a bizarre concept to those of us coming from Minnesota), the weather was predicted quite a bit of snowfall for last Monday in that area, so I ended up coming home earlier than planned -- drove home in the evening after the party, with no stops, as the four-year-old and I had our "highly nutritious" puff corn and M&Ms car snacks for supper. She slept a little bit, but not all the way -- and, after all of the recent driving to and from a different state, I have to say that I am so. done. with the VeggieTales "Incredible Singing Christmas Tree" CD ... at least until next Christmas. Yes, it is cute, and Mr. Lundt's acting like one of the American Idol judges is entertaining. The first 40 or so times, that is ....
While we were at my parents' house, my mom did some mending for my sister and me. (She's a talented seamstress -- and yes, we're spoiled in still bringing our mending home to mom.) One of the tasks from my pile was fixing a rent in my daughter's winter coat, which got covered up with a patch with a horse head on it that my mom found somewhere. Since she had also attached insignias to the older cousins' Girl Scout uniforms, my little one has decided that this horse head is her "badge."
Since I had already taken last Monday off work -- and since I was pretty tired after all that weekend driving -- I took it as a free day, and took the four-year-old to her first movie theater movie, "Tangled," with the mall gift card I'd received from their email list for my birthday. The movie was a good movie, and she was also impressed with the small things about the theater -- like the line of lights along the exit walls, about which she pronounced, "That is so cool!" We also had a nice conversation following the movie about her question "what does 'selfish' mean?"
We ended the week with "Toy Story 3" for our Friday night family movie, which had me paying attention (even more than usual -- I kind of enjoy toys and this topic) to which toys she plays with the most -- which have the most/longest-lasting play value. Right now, that is ponies and Barbies, plus her Dora the Explorer truck (with horse trailer) and Fisher Price Dance n Twirl Palace. She also had a birthday party for one of her baby dolls this week, when I mentioned that it was the birthday of one of her cousins in Iowa -- but that, no, we couldn't go to her house that day.
"Toy Story 3" also prompted the question, "Am I going to college?" I pointed out that there's a need to get through kindergarten through 12th grade first.
Games played last week included LeapFrog Letter Factory (a no-longer-manufactured game we're borrowing from a relative), a couple of rounds of Gator Golf, checkers, and Richard Scarry's Busytown Eye Found It.
There was also some creativity with a finger loom that was a late Christmas present from my aunt, and, as I was immersed in paperwork -- trying to find receipts and documentation for the remaining monies in 2010 FSA's, for one thing -- she entertained herself nicely with Play-Doh® (out of which she built a "volcano" erupting down the sides of a Play-Doh can), stamping sets and paints. She also dug out all of the books from her book bin and "read" them (she has large portions memorized) to her stuffed animals.
Our library books this week were about familiar characters, in newfangled books (in general, I'm not really a fan of newer authors writing in a kid's series after the author has passed away -- even if they are related): Olivia Acts Out by Jodie Shepherd and Madeline and the Cats of Rome by John Bemelmans Marciano. Plus, Someone Walks By: The Wonders of Winter Wildlife by Polly Carlson-Voiles. That's my favorite of the bunch, and it gets requested for "story!" fairly often - she likes to find the animals amongst all the snow in the pictures, and check out what they're doing.
We finally got around to doing an "animal helping" project by putting together the pinecone and birdseed kit received for Christmas from the teacher relative (she passed it on, since she wasn't going to do it). It's hanging on the tree in our front yard -- but I don't think there have actually been many nibbles on the peanut butter or birdseed yet.
That project occurred during one of the times we were outside shoveling, which also led to a request to dig out the sand buckets and shovels -- and to playing "ice cream shop" in the snow. We have certainly been having enough of the white stuff -- it seems like almost every other day. The four-year-old has a 2011 Dora the Explorer calendar, which came with stickers, including some for tracking the weather. She gets so excited every time she spots it snowing, and runs to put a sticker on the date -- and she's almost out of them already. I think we have some snowflakes as part of other sticker sets around here, and I'm thinking I need to find them.
Monday, January 10, 2011
Monday: Beefy Baked Beans
Recipe from my dad, which only uses a half pound of hamburger. That's the last of the hamburger I had browned up from a family pack purchased a while ago and frozen in meal-size portions. Also used 2 cans of pork and beans from the cupboard, and some of the bacon in the fridge because it was thawed for last week's blueberry pancakes meal. We just had some brown bread with this, some of us with butter, some with some of the rhubarb jam my mom makes for us every year.
Tuesday: Fish and Rice Dinner [Kraft Food and Family magazine, Winter 2002 issue]
Surprisingly for this family, we don't have any rice opened and stored in our rice storage container; however, there was an unopened box of Minute Rice in the cupboard. This is a quick and easy meal (you pour boiling water into the rice and throw everything else on top of it, so everything cooks together in the oven), which will also use some frozen tilapia fillets and frozen mixed vegetables from the freezer. Of course, since it's a Kraft recipe, it calls for one of their salad dressings as a seasoning, but I never actually buy vinaigrette -- I just mixed up some with some olive oil, cider vinegar and spices from the cupboard, using a combination of recipes from the "salad" section of my personal notebook cookbook.
Wednesday: Church Supper
Events at church mean we eat there.
Thursday: Ham and Cheese Calzones [Kraft Food and Family, Winter 2002], Sauteed Apples & Raisins [Dec/Jan 1998 Taste of Home magazine]
Some time around Thanksgiving, there were good sales on ham. After we ate our purchase in its regular ham incarnation, I ground up the leftovers in the food processor and froze the ground ham in meal-size portions. We'll use some of it to make calzones with the Pillsbury crescent rolls in the fridge as the dough. I also froze a bunch of apple slices from our apple picking expeditions last fall. This recipe calls for cooking some of them up with some raisins, cornstarch, brown sugar and water -- although it does appear we are getting low on raisins. (The other item we're running low on, as I discovered when mixing up the vinaigrette, is black pepper.)
Saturday: Salisbury Steak with Onion Gravy [Dec/Jan 1998 Taste of Home]
We have a couple of packages of egg noodles in the cupboard because my family likes a certain beef stroganoff recipe -- but I haven't come across any stew meat at a good sale price since I bought them. This recipe promises to have a similar taste, and will use some of the egg noodles and be the first in the chain of recipes to use the next family pack of hamburger. (If I cook it on Saturday, I should have time to brown the rest of the hamburger as well.)
Some time this weekend, I would also like to make Apple Cream Pie [Dec/Jan 2000 Taste of Home]. I really should use that cream cheese in the fridge soon, and there are a lot of apples in the freezer. I'll have to make a graham cracker crust for it, though, since I used my last frozen pie crust for last week's chicken pot pie.
Check out more menu plans and link up your own at Org Junkie's Menu Plan Monday post.
Friday, January 7, 2011
After spending much of a Christmas vacation naptime (the kid's, not mine -- moms don't get to take naps) writing down memories from the past holiday season, I have decided that it would be much easier to do a week in review type entry on my blog, keeping track of things we've done, experiences I want to remember, cute kid sayings, etc.
Because I know that I will definitely want to remember, when she's 18, that a lesson learned at the rehearsal for her Sunday school Christmas program was that I needed to make a "no headstands in church" rule. You just don't think of these things in advance.
This week, I learned that, if you decide to incorporate kid-friendly New Year's celebrating by letting the four-year-old dig out a party hat and a noisemaker from her dress-up supplies and shout "Happy New Year!" on New Year's Eve, you will pay the consequences in having to listen to this at least 25 times over the course of the next couple of days.
Also, even though the temperature is zero degrees Fahrenheit or below (I failed to check the windchill), if you force said four-year-old to dress for outdoor play in long underwear + shirt + sweatshirt + pants + two pairs of socks + snowpants + boots + parka + hat + mittens, you will end up with a sweaty little thing after an hour and a half of sledding at the really cool sledding hill at a nearby park.
It is a really cool hill, though: big enough to be fun, but with a gentle slope and a wide "landing area" that is mostly treeless -- and the park service has thoughtfully wrapped some foam "bumper pads" around the trees that do surround this area. Surprisingly, only one other family was out there sledding with us this weekend, although there were quite a few people on cross-country skis on the park's trails. This prompted the four-year-old to quote from one of our family books that comes out at Christmastime, Olivia Helps with Christmas, "Time to hit the slopes!" (She is also quite fond of quoting the page, "Olivia liked to let loose on the chorus, 'Gl-OOOOOOO-RIA!'" I do not have a quiet child.)
Since it's wintertime, though, we have needed some indoor activities -- we've played a few rounds of UNO this week (we could look at this as working on math skills...or sportsmanship), and have been regularly reading out of her new Mary Engelbreit Fairy Tales book. The pictures are beautiful, and it contains a nice selection of fairy tales to give her a literary/cultural base (plus, I really like fairy tales). It even has one of my favorites in it, "Snow White and Rose Red." Her favorite fairy tale remains "Sleeping Beauty" in all its incarnations, and we've also discussed how yucky it would be to have a frog in your drinking cup, a la "The Frog Prince." She has so far refused to read "Rumplestiltskin," on the grounds that, "It doesn't even have a princess in it!" and "Rapunzel," because of the "mean witch." We also still have a Care Bears Bedtime Stories collection checked out from the church library, which contains a Care Bear introducing each selection, among them another favorite fairy tale around here, "The 12 Dancing Princesses."
Our church had a few Epiphany activities on Wednesday night, including a bonfire outside on the snow which burned people's non-artificial Christmas trees. Several people gathered around to watch the bonfire and sing Christmas carols like "Joy to the World," "Silent Night," "Away in the Manger," "Hark the Herald Angels Sing"... and "Rudolph." I really enjoyed this, and the four-year-old was impressed by the "sparkles" (sparks) we could see going up into the dark night air from the fire.
Epiphany marks the end of the Christmas season in the church year, and things are getting back into a routine in the rest of our lives, too. The Avon bath paints from the four-year-old's stocking are all used up, and she has completed all of the dot-to-dots in the Crayola book from her stocking as well -- within the first day after she received it. (Santa knew she liked dot-to-dots. Santa didn't realize she liked them that much.)
As part of the whole "new year, get organized, save money" thing, I've been going through bits of paper with various online accounts and passwords, organizing them in a much more findable manner, unsubscribing to those that are no longer relevant, and taking note of various offers that are still useful.
This is a process I'm doing a bit at a time -- a few per day -- so I'm not sure how long it's going to take overall -- but it's been something on my goals/to-do list for a couple of years now, so it's good that I'm actually getting it accomplished. (I just tacked this year's goals onto my list from last year, since much of it was the same.)
A few things I've discovered this week are:
- A Delta SkyMiles account, which I had assumed was inactive (the last time I flew was in at least 2005, pre-kid) wasn't. Evidently, my points from the transfer of my Northwest miles into Delta miles are still good -- at least until Oct. 31 of this year. It was annoying difficult to find out how much my accumulation was worth in terms of actual flying-type stuff (tickets, etc.), but I'm guessing not much. Still, unless I fly somewhere this year (which, based on the pattern of the past few years, seems unlikely), I do have enough points to redeem for some nice merchandise.
- Evidently, I can get a free set of address labels every six months through my university alumni association. Since we just used a bunch on Christmas cards, I ordered some.
- And, I have noted that, if I ever get caught up enough on the bit by bit organizing to need new photos (right now, I am so far behind that I just back them up, and rarely order prints for myself), my hooray.com account offers 20 free prints per month.
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
The four-year-old has been asking for the past few days if she can go to bed without a nighttime diaper -- I told her if she is dry in the morning for a week, we can try it. I would love to be done with these things, too -- but not enough that I want to be dealing with a wet kid/bed/blankets/stuffed animals every morning.
I will also be glad when we've moved past the subzero temperatures that make it hard for my still-almost-frozen fingers to flip the coupons in the organizer, even after I get into the store.
Still, I think it was a successful shopping trip. In addition to the Huggies (which earned me a $1 Extra Care Buck), I purchased several other items. We're stocked up on dish soap for a while, since Palmolive was on sale for 88¢ and I had two coupons for $2 off 2.
I also used coupons I printed via Swagbucks for Kleenex and Filippo Berio olive oil (among other coupons). Using those coupons should add some Swagbucks (which I redeem for gift cards) to my account in the next few weeks -- in addition to the manufacturer's discount which came with the coupons. In the case of the olive oil, that was $1.00 off 2 -- and the CVS deal was buy one get one free. Plus, Filippo Berio olive oil is part of the ecoupons this month via Upromise, which means that, when I purchase it, $1.00 will be added to my Upromise account (for the diapered daughter's college savings).
Yep, I think I pretty much milked that deal for all it was worth.
And, I paid about $30.00 out of pocket for about $70.00 total worth of stuff. Total savings on the receipt was $40.67 -- which will get swept into the extra payments applied to the car loan toward paying it off, this year's main fiscal goal.
psst: The Swagbucks link is a referral link, which means if you click on the link and join, I get points credited to my Swagbucks account. It doesn't cost you anything. Thanks in advance if you decide it's right for you.
Monday, January 3, 2011
A lesson learned (repeatedly, it seems...) is that life goes better when I have a menu plan. I'd also like to get my recipes organized (a huge project) and be able to refer back to where I found something. I have a couple of ideas for how to do this, but need to experiment to see what works best. Ideally, I want to be able to look something up by main ingredient (e.g., bananas, ground beef, etc.) or by type of food (breads/muffins, casseroles, soups, etc.) and, potentially by which one of my cookbooks it can be found in.
FishMama over at LifeAsMom is hosting a Pantry Challenge this January, and I hope to participate in that, as well. Like her, part of my motivation comes from the fact that some frost is starting to build up on the walls of my (almost full) freezer. On the other hand, I really appreciate this time of year all of last season's produce that got stocked up in there -- and the other stockpile items. It's really helped with not having to worry about needing to do any major grocery runs during holidays/vacations...and our regularly scheduled blizzards.
In addition to the blizzard/time-saving issue, eating mostly from our freezer/pantry is a nice way to save money in January after the month of December. Plus, it's kind of a fun challenge. :)
So, here's the menu plan for the first full week of January:
Sunday: Chicken and Wild Rice Soup [Busy Woman's Slow Cooker Cookbook], Basic Banana Muffins [N/D 1998 Taste of Home magazine].
It's National Soup Month, and my husband said something a couple of days ago about a good bowl of soup being nice on a cold day. And I spent part of December browsing through old issues of Taste of Home and Quick Cooking magazines for the season and finding recipes I wanted to use. We are now almost out of wild rice, but it did come from the cupboard. Other ingredients -- frozen broccoli and corn (scraped from last summer's ears) were in the freezer, as was the chicken. (One of our grocery stores had a "Buy $25 worth of chicken, get $5 - I think -- off promotion in December, plus I had a $10 grocery gift card that expired the end of the year.) The bananas for the muffins came out of the freezer, too -- they were the ones that started getting soft from bunches we'd eaten throughout the year, so got put in the freezer to be used for banana bread (or muffins).
Monday: Spaghetti with Ragu Sauce
We had half a giant jar of spaghetti sauce left over in the freezer, plus a remaining free box of Barilla Plus spaghetti from a VocalPoint offer.
Tuesday: Chicken Pot Pie [Kraft Food and Family magazine Winter 2002 issue] (or, maybe, Popcorn Chicken and Seasoned Oven Fries -- for which I need to look up the recipes)
The soup only used a breast and a half of the three-breast package of chicken, so I need to use up the rest -- in something that stretches it. Hence the idea for the pot pie (which would also use the frozen pie crust in my freezer, and probably some frozen corn and shredded zucchini from the same source). The popcorn chicken and seasoned oven fries would use up the last four potatoes -- which are on their way to soft and shrively -- from a 99 cents for a 5-lb. bag purchase.
Wednesday: Church Supper and Epiphany Festival
Nobody has to cook!
Thursday: Blueberry Pancakes and Bacon
I actually had something else in mind for this day, but the memory completely escaped me before I could write my menu plan. I hate that. I'd been thinking of blueberry pancakes some time anyway, though (a request from the four-year-old), using some of last summer's blueberries from the freezer, and some deal-purchased bacon also in there. (This means I'll need to plan a way to use more of that bacon in next week's menu plan, before it goes bad.)
Our family is still eating purchased frozen pizza; some day, I'd like to try the homemade stuff. It goes well with Family Movie Night, though. (Note to self: use free Redbox rental before it expires!)
Saturday: Weather willing, we'll be at a family gathering.
Since some of that family may read this, we could, theoretically, plan the meal now instead of engaging in our traditional sitting around throwing out various ideas an hour before mealtime while kids (OK, just mine) complain that they are Starving. To. Death. But where would be the fun in that?
(See more Menu Plan Monday links at http://www.orgjunkie.com.)