Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Meal Planning

I started this blog years ago when I needed an outlet.  I love talking about ways to save money, meal planning, organizing, and all things Aldi!  

Last week I had to move my Aldi trip from Friday morning to Thursday evening...I know, scandalous.  I had a kid that came home from school on Thursday with a tummy ache and I was convinced that puke-mageddon was about to happen and figured I'd be under house arrest on Friday.  Happy to report that her tummy was much better the next day.  Anyway, I ended up spending $22.83 for a weeks worth of groceries.  There were two things that I purchased that weren't on my list:  Haribo gummi bears (impulse buy-I had a PTO meeting to go to and figured I'd perform better with those in my tummy) $1.00, and another pack of strawberries $2.39 (they looked good and my kids ate them all in one sitting).  

On a side note:  I do NOT wash strawberries until we are going to eat them.  They keep WAY longer when you don't and I also keep them at room temp, not in the fridge.  

On another side note: Rubbermaid makes produce saver containers.  I swear by these.  When you do cut/wash any type of fruit or veggie (lettuce, peppers, grapes, blueberries, pineapple), these containers prolong produce life.  They are pretty stellar and worth every penny.  The one on the left are the original version from years and years ago, the one on the right is the new version.

I've already gone through and made my meal plan for the next week+.  As well as my grocery list THIS far.  Things will come up over the next few days that I will need to purchase/add to the list, and I know the kids are going to want to add a few items for snacks and lunches for next week...and I just realized that I want some Twizzler's Pull and Peel added to the list.  This weeks grocery bill will be higher for sure, mainly b/c of the fact I want a ham, and I purchase these Culterelle probiotic tabs for the kids that are ridiculous in price but I feel are worth the buy.  Update: I purchased the probiotics off of Amazon and saved $9.  I WIN!!!

I again went through our current food and made up a few meals.  I have leftover buns, so we'll be having burgers on Thursday.  I have potatoes so I'll be making homemade fries and a pan of party potatoes.  
I've heard of people making at least one meal without meat every week in an effort to save money - I don't do this.  Ever.  We are a meat eating family and a meatless meal wouldn't sustain us.  Meat is a must for us.
We have a pantry cupboard that's full of canned veggies/canned items.  Actually, it's full to last us about a year.  Yes, I'm serious.  TIP: The week before Thanksgiving, grocery stores have sales on these items:  canned corn, canned green beans, cream of chicken (mushroom is also included but I can't even begin to tell you how much I loathe mushrooms or mushroom anything), and chicken broth.  These items are at such a huge discount, we stock up over the course of the week to last us a year.  
In our house we always have ingredients for these meals: breakfast for dinner (pancakes, sausage, eggs), homemade pizza, and spaghetti.  So, should we get in a pinch for some reason (unexpected guests), we always have these to fall back on.
I've included a photo of the "Forbidden Aisle" at Aldi...at least that's what I call it.  This aisle will suck you in and you'll find yourself wondering what you can do with a $10 wire basket set of 3 when you don't even need it.  This aisle is wonderful and sneaky all at the same time:
This next photo is a food item that still makes me gag just thinking about it.  My parents used to make boxed potatoes all the time and I would gag at the dinner table.  I still really dislike them.  However, if you enjoy them, I won't be hatin'...and they're only $.79 each.
I made the white chicken chili recipe today (crock pot) and it was very tasty.  I altered the recipe a tich, otherwise it would have been a little to spicy for my kids.  It actually tasted a lot like white queso dip.  Overall, it was a tasty meal, but I won't likely make it again.  The crock pot had so much in it, that we froze the leftovers for another time.  We do this a LOT with meals like chili, spaghetti meat sauce, cheeseburger chowder, taco meat - even if it's just one serving (let's say you've already set aside enough for a few leftovers/lunches for work, but there's still a lot left), I'll freeze it.  Many times I will pull this single serving out of the freezer to eat for lunch.

That's all I've got for now!!!  Also, I don't take the time to edit - if it isn't spelled right, or I left out some punctuation...I'm over it.  :)

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Pretty Things

In my last post, I talked about how I enjoyed the simple things in life.  The pretty, bright things that simply put a smile on my face and literally make me feel warm and fuzzy inside.  Recently, I decided to take up that whole "work out" thing.  I will not divulge in detail what I do 3-4 times per week because I know there are beasts out there that literally hit the gym for two hours every single day (kudos to you).  That's not me.  The fact that I'm actually attempting to better myself in this department is a big step for me.  Why, you ask?  Because I'm lazy.  There, I said it.  I'm not one to sugar coat the truth, I'm 100% good with telling it like it is.  If it comes down to taking 30 minutes to; read, sleep, lay around, eat snacks, do dishes, laundry OR hop on the treadmill-10/10 times, I'll choose anything but that black conveyor belt of doom.  BUT, I'm trying to change my ways.  I say "trying" because there's a really good chance I'll fail and give up.  And that folks, is reality.  The reason I'm telling you all of this is because I'm a very visual person.  For someone, like me, that has a hard time getting motivated to do something, such as working out, having a little something to look at really puts some pep in my step.  So behold, my "workout" area:
Yep.  Be. Jealous.  Here you see a treadmill folded up in the corner next to the train table.
With the help of some 3M command hooks, my pretty tennies, some fun things I've accumulated over the past few years (you know those things that you either purchase or get as a gift and aren't sure what you're going to do with it, but it makes you happy?), I came up with this...

Smack dab in front of my strollingmill.  This gives me something to look at and think about when I'm not thinking of the burn that's happening in my lower extremities.  Thanks to some friends of mine (SG, AV) I've been provided some pretty stellar eye candy in the gallery wall kind of way.  The 'inspire' painting is a masterpiece work of art that was provided by...me.  Yes, I did one of those canvas deals where you drink and paint...while I admit, it's not something I'd choose to do often, it was fun with the ladies I went with (LK, MS, HL...not a word ladies, you know what I mean).  I threw a nice candid shot of mi familia on the cork pin board, as well as a sweet card from a dear friend of mine, and a laminated 4 leaf clover that I received my senior year of high school from a fellow teammate (EH), I've kept it all these years (not that I'm THAT old) because it made me happy.  And don't forget the 12 week challenge I have taped up there.  It's really simple, fun, colorful, bright and happy things (to me) that give me that push to get my ass on that monster machine.

Here are a few other things I have that just looking at makes me happy:

I would have also included a photo of my amazingly beautiful hubby and littles, but I'm going to save those for myself.

Over time, I'm sure my workout gallery wall will have new additions.  But in the meantime, I'm enjoying the happiness it brings to my wellness time.  I hope you all have a little something in your everyday life that makes you happy or puts that little pep in your step.  Until next time...

Side Note:  Nott eduiting/prof reeding-strange, I know.
Side Note II:  Due to my hubby complaining that I shouldn't microwave leftovers with the lids on (we only use glass Pyrex storage), he will be receiving 12 new lids (in varying sizes) for Valentines Day.  I'm a romantic.  Shhh, it's a secret.
Side Note III:  Goulash for dinner.  Um, yum.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Valentine's Centerpiece DIY

I'm in the mood to blog.  It's been a while, not to mention I haven't done anything spectacular lately that would be blog worthy.  But, I feel as though some of you may be like me and enjoy the simple things in life.  Something as simple as a centerpiece makes me happy.  Crazy?  Maybe.  Having that little bit of pretty in my life really makes all the difference.  Especially when you live in the Midwest and it seems like the sun has decided to take a vacay when we need it most.  Why not go to a tanning bed or take Vitamin D pills...well, for me, a pop of color and fun make all the difference in brightening up the blahs.  Time for the onslaught of photos:

My table sans centerpiece...
This is a stand I made two years ago out of an XL terracotta planter base, and an upside down XS terracotta planter.  Purchased at my local Lowes, and spray painted white.  I use this for fruits, cupcakes...and now centerpiece...

My simple supplies, minus the mason jar I have had for years...
These were purchased a couple years ago in the Target dollar bins for...you guessed it, $1.  I have no idea what possessed me to purchase them but I did and I adore them...again, the simple things...

Seems like banners are all the craze these dayz.  So, I wanted to make one of my own.  Using the string from above (purchased after Christmas at Target for the staggering price of $.17-your eyes are not deceiving you, I said SEVENTEEN CENTS).  I simply gathered my fave Valentine style Washi goodness, cut off a large strip, folded it over, and cut the bottom corners at an angle to get the "banner effect"...
You see this gem?  I purchased this out of the Target dollar bin this past holiday season for $3.  I used it for a centerpiece with battery operated lights (along with other things), but I've now found another use for it...
Ta-Dow!  I could have made my banner strand longer, but I didn't.  Eh, maybe next time.  I also purchased a cute pink bowl from the dollar bins for $3, as well as Rolo's.  I took the clothespins from above, and simply placed them in the mason jar - for fun.  And now I have something that looks like this...

All together, I spent about $6.17 on this since I had the rest of the goodies already.  I'll use them year after year because I'm a reuser, reducer, recycler.  :)  Simple, fun...and to me, a pop of pretty.  It puts a smile on my face every time I walk by it, or stare at it while I cook, or have to remove it when we have meals...you get the picture.  It's the simple things.  Create them.  Enjoy them.

That's all I've got for now.  But I'm sure I'll have a few other little projects up my sleeve over the next few weeks. Until next time...

Side Note:  I'm not editing - weird.
Side Note II:  I do NOT like Madonna, never have, never will.
Side Note III:  The Rolo's in the bowl lasted all of 4 days...I have Rolo Monsters in my house. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Advent Calendar DIY

It's December.  It's. December.  Don't know about anyone else, but I'm having a hellava time getting into the spirit.  Blah.  BUT, just because I'm not there yet, doesn't mean my kids aren't.  Three years ago, I started doing an advent calendar that suited us.  There are SO many out there to choose from, but I just couldn't seem to find one that we loved.  So, I made one.  Here's what it looks like:
With the help of 3 3M hooks, some gold rope and 25 clothes pins, you have the base for your calendar...
Package of small square, envelopes from Hobby Lobby (I think they were around $4)...

25 pieces of scrap paper, along with 25 daily ideas.  You stuff each envelope with one daily idea...
I numbered each envelope with some pretty paper.  I was fortunate to come across a 12x12 piece of scrapbooking paper at Hobby Lobby that had all 25 numbers on it.  All I had to do was cut them out and tape them onto each envelope.  I did do this part before anything else...I'm a bit out of order...

After stuffing each envelope, I then clipped them onto the rope.  Today we started with...December 1...of course.  The slip inside said that Peanutty got to choose any dinner of his choice.  Spaghetti is what he chose so I'll be making that tonight.  Once it's read, we flip it over to show that the 1st is done and over with.  Gives them an idea of how many days until Christmas. 

Other ideas:

-Snowman pancake breakfast
-Picnic in front of the Christmas tree
-Read holiday books
-Movie night
-Drive around town to look at lights while drinking hot cocoa in a to-go mug (they get a kick out of that)
-Snowman pizza night
-Call a family member that we don't get to talk to often
-Game night
-Letters to Santa
-Stuff Christmas card envelopes (lucky them!)
-Toys for Tots shopping (or any other giving kindness)
-Cook a meal for a neighbor
-Bake goodies
-Deliver goodies to neighbors
-Shovel driveways (ours and neighbors around us)

The list is endless.  We gear our advent calendar to family time and doing things together.  Perhaps look into fun festivities that your town offers.  Or help a family member decorate for Christmas.  I know how much I can't stand hauling all those totes out, it'd be nice to do that for someone else. 

We also have an awesome Elf on the Shelf.  I wish there was a sarcasm font (for the 'awesome').  I did this to ourselves by purchasing it.  Somehow it has become Hubby's responsibility to move the damn thing every night.  Bless him.  Just yesterday I came across an article about 'Kindness Elves' (look it up, it's pretty cool).  I love, love, love this idea.  I presented it to my Hubs and he said, and I quote "great, another thing for us to forget"...touche Hubby, touche.  As much as I adore this idea, he's right.  Taking on too much during the holidays can be stressful, because let's face it, it seems like the holiday season is stressful, at least a little bit, for everyone.  Less is more.  Plus, we incorporate our own ways of kindness into the advent calendar every year.  I'm trying to find a way for the Elf to get "lost" and never return...too cruel?  And is it just me or are they a wee bit creepy?  I feel as though I can say these things because I'm the one that inflicted this whole "Elf" thing to begin with. 

Ok, that's all for now.  I have no idea when I'll be back.  I have a couple projects that I want to accomplish here at home, and they'd be blog worthy but I have no schedule on when this will actually happen. 

Have a great day!  Until next time...FYI, no editing.

Side Note:  I cherish coffee.
Side Note 2:  I've been to Target so much over the past 2 weeks, that I THINK I'm getting kind of sick of it...or maybe it's the crowds...
Side Note 3:  I've been on a chai hiatus...it's time to bring it back.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


I'm not one of those people that's thankful just during the month of November...I'm thankful every single day of my life for a lot of things.  Mostly coffee, but I'm good with that.  I kid.  I'm also in love with comfy clothes.

This year I was teetering back and forth about doing something to recognize the things we are thankful for (big and small).  I toyed with the idea of a 'Thankful Tree'.  Thank you Pin-"I spend all my free time perusing these ideas that I will never execute"-terest.

Exhibit A:

Thanksgiving Thankful tree for under $5.00 with dollar tree decor. Craft ideas and decorating with nature. @michaelsstores #debbiedoos:

Chances are I'm going to get sued for using this image...no idea what the repercussions are on this but...I like to live on the wild side.  It's a simple pre-lit tree that has some fall ribbon and a few strands of raffia.  I imagine they had some paper leaves that you could write what you're thankful for on it and then hang it on the tree.  At least that's what I would do.  I didn't read the article on this...hell, I didn't even pin it.  The image was just burned in my mind and  I thought "hey, I can do that!".  Welp, I didn't.

I also thought of a 'Thankful Garland'...

Exhibit B:

 Thanksgiving Crafts - The Idea Room:

If I get sued for the first image, then I'll surely get sued for having two.  The thought of having to cut out these lovely leaves made me want to scream.  I'm not a patient person when it comes to tedious jobs, such as this.  I thought about searching for pre-cut paper leaves, and then I thought, 'surely someone has a Cricut or a die cutting device and would be happy to cut me some'...eh, I started to run out of time and my thought steam had started to run out.

After consulting my 4 year old, opinionated, Sweet Pickle, we decided on having a jar where we could put all our "thankfulnesses" in it.

Exhibit C:

The 'Thankful Jar' came to life.  I found a large glass "jar" and put a fall colored ribbon around the top, and made a little sign, taped it on with some Washi tape...and ta-da!  A 'Thankful Jar'.  I rummaged through all of my scrap paper from the old scrapbooking days and chopped them into smaller, equal pieces (I'm a symmetrical girl 100%).  Put them in an envelope along with some fall colored Sharpies (I adore Sharpies):
I just dropped this envelope in the jar, instead of it sitting on around the outside.  It's simple, when you think of something you're thankful for, write it down, fold the paper and deposit it in the jar.  On Thanksgiving Day we'll share what we're thankful for.

Here's where I'm going to get real with you...I COULD tell you that the jar is over flowing with gratitude, and that EVERYONE rushes to write down what they're thankful for each and every day.  I put this out two weeks ago and there are 6 papers in it.  Life is busy, one of my kids can't write on their own, my hubby forgets it's sitting there, and I'm fairly certain my other Little is mostly thankful for Minecraft and football.  The jar is a fantastic idea, but it's just not for us this year.  Don't think that we're not thankful for everything we have and everything we are, we just didn't write it down.  We are, however, pretty good about verbalizing to each other.  Maybe next year a garland or a tree would be more appealing to little eyes and hands.  Good thing I have about 13 months to pan out the details on that one.

That's it for today!!!  I want to wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving!  Until next time...

*Side Note 1:  I don't like turkey.  I think it's blah and plain and could live without it.
**Side Note 2:  I do not do Black Friday shopping...crowds make me nervous and give me the heebies - all I can think about is all the germs.
***Side Note 3:  Liam Hemsworth is on Kelly and Michael tomorrow but I have to miss it because of work...I'm genuinely upset about this.
****Side Note 4:  I didn't edit.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Learning To Say 'No'

Today, I'm going to talk about my 2016 planner...I've written quite a few posts about my planner that I purchased through Erin Condren...here's one of my posts about said planner:


That being said...this year, I decided to go a different route for my planner.  For many reasons, which I will explain, I've chosen a different type/style/brand.  I would like to reiterate that I LOVE Erin Condren planners, they are worth the excitement when they arrive in the mail all wrapped up in pretty tissue paper in THE box.  They're absolutely the cat's meow of planners.  Here's my planner that I've been using for 2015, it's a beauty!!!  And yes, I'm drinking coffee and eating a pumpkin bar while typing this.  Delish combo, I must say.

While these planners are my favorite, I decided against purchasing one...main reason?  The price.  I know in my post about this planner, I mentioned that this was a splurge.  I've purchased one for the last three years and never regretted it once.  I also saved my pennies for them.  This time around, I couldn't justify spending the almost $60 on the planner.  Not to mention the one that I REALLY wanted was $75!!!  Just gorgeous with rose gold spiral binding and accents...sigh, it was beautiful...but add on another almost $10 for shipping and that's close to $85, the other planners run around $50.  I still think I'd be an awesome salesperson for this product.  Back on track...

Why don't I just use my phone as your planner, you ask?  I'm a write it down kind of girl.  Not to mention, my planner will never run out of power and need to be plugged in.  It'll always be at arms reach for me to refer to.  EVERYBODY is different.  I'm old school...literally, like 7th grade old school (anyone from my home town remembers Action Planners)...

So, #1 reason is the price.  #2 reason was that I didn't find a style/design that I just fell in love with (besides the rose gold one), so I didn't want to settle for something I wouldn't love for an entire year.  #3 reason was Christmas is right around the corner and I'm doing everything I can to save money and spend wisely this year.  I have the tendency to get carried away with gifts when it comes to purchasing for myself...ahem, I mean my Littles...hehehe.  While I value a good planner, I really felt that I could find something out there that would suit my needs and cost less.  So...here's what I found and purchased:

I really liked this color and cover (mint and gold?!?!  Yes please!!!), and the inside was alright and I convinced myself that I could make this work...the more I looked at it, the less I loved it.  Sad face.  The pages are VERY thin, meaning any kind of pen I'd use would most likely bleed through...needless to say...I took it back and went back on my search to find the right one.  This one was $10.99, roughly 8.5"x5 3/4", purchased at Target (weird) and did I mention the cover was flimsy?  I wasn't impressed but I was itching to get my 2016 planner to start filling it full of my life.  Well, my search ended pretty quickly after another trip to a different Target and found this gem:

The navy blue with gold polka dots is the planner, the pink with gold polka dots is a notebook and of course I found some memo notes and tabs in the dollar bins (love me the dollar bins).  The cover is thick and durable, the style is simple and uber cute, I might add.  The size is roughly the 8.5"x5 3/4", just like the other one, and it set me back all of $7.99.  I purchased the notebook because my last planner had a section for 'Notes', this one does as well, but I thought with all the notes I jot down, the committee meetings I attend, the lists I make (it's endless), I thought I'd benefit from having a separate notebook to haul around.  Both are still smaller in size and thickness than the one planner.  EC's (Erin Condren) planner is thicker and a little larger, so finding a purse/bag to fit it in had it's troubles...unless you're one of those people that's a lot like Mary Poppins and has a huge, never ending bag.  Here's a glimpse of the inside:
 Right inside the cover is a layout of the next 4 year...because who doesn't need to plan for a picnic in the year 2019!?!  I think this is strange but they must have had a reason for this...maybe I'll find out in the next year.  I'll keep you posted.

 This is a month and day layout to plan your year at a glance...birthdays, anniversaries...you know the drill.
 Of course, the month at a glance...
And my fave is the week at a glance.
And 5 pages for notes.  I have yet to dive into the planner (I haven't had time...I need at least an hour to sit down and love on it), but I truly believe I've found my 2016 match.

Polka dots is my theme this year.  The notebook will serve me well, while being cute.  This set me back $2.99, and the dollar bin find set me back...hmmm...what was it??? Oh yeah, a dollar!  All together I spent:  $12.82.

Over the past few years, I've learned to say 'no' to a lot of things to save money.  Not purchasing this planner is just one of them.  Some other examples:

-I've put off purchasing these wax melty things (Scentsy) because I just can't spend the money on them.  When I save up my own side money, then I'll decide if it's something I just have to have.  Right now?  I'm leaning towards yes, yes I do.  I love having my home smell delicious!!!  But, like I said, I've put it off for months and am OK with not having them...for now.

-Turning down going out to eat or going on an outing with friends or family.  While it seems like a small price at the time, doing it a couple or a few times a month can add up (especially if you're all going out as a family-family of 4 in my case).  I'm 100% OK with passing (graciously declining while appreciating the invite) or offering up my home for a get together.  I also have no problem saying "I don't have the money right now", or even "I'm really trying to save moolah"...I've got an amazing group of friends and family that respect this.

-Having my eye on the prize...perhaps it's saving up to purchase something big or to pay off a loan of some sort.  Either way, dedicating any "extra" money to achieve this goal is a huge reward in my book.

-Down sizing for gift giving.  Christmas is literally 44 days away (at least that's what the sign the penguin was holding at Walmart said), so shopping has ensued (of course), so Hubs and I talked and while in the past we've set a dollar limit on spending for gifts...we never really discussed how much we'd spend on OUR kids...plus, I'm terrible at finding "just the perfect gift" about 10 times each season.  That adds up.  This year, we've written down what we're getting and going to stick to it...stay tuned on this one.  It's all about will power folks!!

So, there you have it!!!  My 2016 planner!!! I'm really quite excited about it...and even had a new pack of pens in my cart...but put them back - I re-evaluated and decided that I didn't need them due to the fact that if I stood all my pens, end on end, they'd circle the earth twice...or is that plastic water bottles???  Oh, and how could I forget that I plan to use my wonderful WASHI tape AND stickers left over from my EC planner.  I think I'll be set for the year!!!  Have a WONDERFUL WEDNESDAY!!!

Until Next Time..

Side Note:  I hate yogurt.  I keep trying and trying to love it, much like hummus, but I just can't.  They both gross me out.