Monday, August 22, 2011

Ready made meals

Last week, I discussed how I pre-make breakfasts and freeze them. I should also say that I have been making double batches of dinner meals and freezing those. You just never know what can happen during the school year. There are times that a game will run late, or conferences start and end late, you have to drive every child you son knows home etc.

For those and many more reasons, I like to have meals in the freezer so I can just heat something up. Tonight, for example, I made a Mexican lasagna. I made 8 portions. Half of it went into the freezer. The way that I freeze lasagna is simple. I let it cool, cut it into square slices, and freeze on wax paper lined cookie sheet. When frozen, I put the individual portions into a plastic bag. This makes them very easy to thaw or reheat. (and it keeps the shape of the lasagna)

You can make so many meals that freeze very nicely. I try to avoid milky meals or potatoes. They don't reheat very well. I will freeze soups, just not creamy soups. Taco meat, meatloaf, burritos and spaghetti are good examples.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Want to know what is really cool?

When your kids, and some of their friends, post Bible versus on their Facebook pages a few times per week.

That's really cool!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Getting ready....

School starts next week. We have school supplies and school clothes. I am not ready, neither are the children. (I'm the weird mom that hates it when the kids go back to school. I just miss them!)

I do know that mornings can be hectic if you are not prepared. For that reason, I have spent the last couple of weeks preparing for school mornings. In the kitchen. I have been making muffins, pancakes and egg sandwiches. I'm trying to have the freezer well stocked, before school starts. I find it so much easier to thaw breakfast versus making the meal every morning.

I have just been making double batches when I have been cooking lately. I have also been freezing berries, mangoes and bananas for smoothies. There's nothing easier than to whip up a fruit smoothie and thaw a muffin and call it breakfast. Even if we get up late, smoothies and muffins are quite portable. (yes, we have been known to have breakfast on the way to school.)

Our smoothies:
Rice or coconut milk
Frozen fruit
Splash of vanilla
Splash of agave nectar
Small scoop of protein powder

Our breakfast sandwiches:
Wheat hamburger buns or English muffins (preferably on clearance)
Sliced rice cheese
Fried egg with broken yolk
Canadian bacon or regular bacon (whichever was on sale, combined with a coupon)

After I assemble the sandwiches, I freeze them on a cookie sheet and then transfer to a container. They thaw pretty quickly, in the microwave, usually about 30 seconds. The cheese is melty and yummy!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

What a wonderful day!

I just found 2 spaghetti squash, 4 cherry tomatoes and 2 zucchini growing in the garden! I'm so very happy!! I was losing hope. But, there they are. Baby veggies.

Thats all that I have to say right now. I'm in the middle of pruning a 10 foot hedge down to a 6 foot height. It's exhausting.

Break is over, back to work.

Monday, August 15, 2011

What the storm left behind

The storm left me with mostly a mess to clean up. Over a month later, we have Hollyhocks. They came back. They look like a storm didn't even crush them.

I also found 3 more green beans in the garden. I will not be able to harvest enough produce to can or freeze, but I will proudly steam these 3 green beans, and have them with my lunch. My herbs are doing well once again. I will be freezing basil, oregano and cilantro. The peppermint, lemon balm and spearmint will be dried for tea.

I am going to the other farmers market this week. It may be farther away, but after the disappointment of the last market, I am truly looking forward to this journey! I am going to get lots o' zucchini! I usually have zucchini, spaghetti squash and yellow squash taking over the house at this time. I'm pretty sad that I don't, but I will this Thursday. I plan to get there when it opens and fill my bags. Then it will all be processed and frozen.

I may not have grown the bounty, but I will have it ready all winter long.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

My stats

I just discovered that you can track your all time page views,with a new Blogger gadget. Okay, I thought, Ill give it a shot. Was I ever surprised to see my page view stats! I occasionally look at the weekly stats, but could never imagine that my all time views would be over 2,000!

WOW! Thank you to all that have stopped by. It's amazing to think that people would want to read my blog posts.

I am humbled.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Down time

We all need a little bit of down time.

I've been very busy this week. There is the major yard project that has occupied much of my time. There were school registrations. Many appointments. Errands to run. And we can't forget the usual cooking, cleaning and laundry.

It's almost 6:00 PM. I can smell dinner simmering on the stove. I hear the washing machine running. The dog is snoring and, I think, dreaming of chasing a squirrel. Hubby isn't home yet and the kids are at a friends party.

I'm laying on the bed reading blogs and email.

I don't feel the least bit guilty.

It's my down time.

I may even take a quick cat nap....

Friday, August 5, 2011

Best iced coffee and surprise beans

Two completely unrelated topics, but both are on my mind right now.

It has been so hot! But I love to have a cup of coffee in the afternoon. Solution? Iced coffee. The fact that it's homemade makes it even tastier!

I have already discussed how I save money by making coffee at home. Now I'll share how I have yummy iced coffee for pennies per cup. (and it tastes so much like Starbucks,if not better!)

When I make a pot of coffee, I pour myself a cup. I pour some into an ice cube tray and the rest goes into the fridge for another day. After the coffee ice cubes freeze, I put them into a plastic container. When Im ready for an iced coffee, I add a few cubes to the blender. To that I add some milk and sweetener. Sometimes I also add a splash of vanilla. Blend all and enjoy.

Soooooo good! And refreshing on a hot summer day!

I was weeding the garden today and found an unexpected treasure! Beans! The bean plants were destroyed in the hail storm last month. Imagine my surprise to find a small bean plant with two full size beans. I know there's only two, but I just about gave up hope of ever harvesting anything this year! Yay!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

If this is this farmers market...where are the farmers?

When I went grocery shopping a few days ago, I didn't buy a whole lot of produce. I was planning a trip to the farmers market. I wanted to support local farmers. There were plenty of great sales at the grocery store. I just had a plan.

The farmers market that we used to have in town was so much fun. There were at least a dozen farmers as well as kettle corn, a BBQ truck and a local baker. You could do your shopping and be on your way in a matter of minutes. But why would you? It was a place to visit and even run into friends and neighbors.

The farmers would travel from Olathe, Co as well as Rocky Ford, Co. They would bring their corn and melons. There would be yummy samples.

Well, they moved it away. There weren't enough customers here. Bummer. The new location is a good 20 minute drive. We could walk to the former location. There's a new market this year. Imagine my happiness! It's a mere 8 minute drive. I looked forward to going. Even planned my day around it, since it's only open for 2 hours.

Now imagine my shock when I arrive, with all of my excitement and find ONE farmer. The so called farmer had just one local crop. A few onions. Everything else was from California. Really? And the prices were outrageous!!! One dollar for a small zucchini! Wow! I couldn't believe that this was called a farmers market.

There were 10 other booths. All of them were venders and restaurants. Nothing made locally and nothing made by farmers.

Sad day.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

reading addict/libraries

I recently read a blog post at Girl Savors Life. She was so close to writing about my own life! I spend most of my free time with my nose in a book. {or magazine, or newspaper...} Reading is a major passion of mine. Don't give me an ereader! I don't want it. I want the written word on paper, thankyouverymuch!

My family is addicted to gadgets, and cable, and You Tube etc, they must be "plugged in" at all times. It drives me batty. {I've suggested canceling the cable, but my life was threatened...ha ha}

My hubby always sits down and immediately turns on the TV. In his defense, he does ask if there's something that I watch. No, I reply. There's nothing that I want to watch. I pick up my book and go to another room. {cant read with the noisy TV}

Like the blog post above, I also volunteer at the library's book sale. I think it's a worthwhile cause. The money raised funds the reading programs. {and I get first pick of the crop!}

The bad news is this: the libraries are in trouble! Our local county is getting ready to close a few more libraries. Most locations are already closed a few days per week. They just laid off so many people.

Neighboring counties are also planning to close locations and lay off more people. They tried going to the voters for help, but the measures didn't pass.

I would be so sad without my library! If your local county puts a measure up for voting this fall, for the library, please consider supporting it.

Thank you

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

uh-oh....we went over budget

A blog is a great place to admit mistakes and hold yourself accountable.

July was a very expensive month for us. We had major repairs on both vehicles for starters. We had to spend almost $1400 just for auto expenses. {I normally budget $230 for this category} We also had major vet bills. Add to that the over spending of groceries, dining out and miscellaneous expenses and you have the makings of a blown budget! Yikes.

I guess summer does that to you. It's just a time to relax.

Well, we will make up for that this month. I sat down yesterday and took stock of the freezer and pantry. I made a three week menu plan and then made a grocery list around that. I will plan to have leftovers after every dinner, so my hubby will have a lunch the next day.

I went to 4 stores, to find the best bargains. I combined coupons with the sales as best as I could.

The result was spending $164.92:
grocery- $53.69
Walgreens- $12.74
Whole Foods- $48.12
Sam's Club- 50.37

I also had to renew my Sam's membership, so that will add $40 to the grocery total for the month. I plan to visit the farmers market on Thursday and will most likely run out of something, in the next 3 weeks, so I have a budget of $60 for those trips. That will put me at $245 at the end of three weeks for groceries. {including membership renewal}

I will have to do more baking {early in the day of course} but we really need to get back on course.

I also went to the bank yesterday and filled my budget envelopes. No debit card this month!!! Hubby also has his "mad money" already in his wallet. So we have our funds for entertainment, allowance, grocery, home care, eating out, any gift purchases, gas and misc purchases. When the envelope is empty...that's it!

We will have to go school clothes shopping and pay school fees, but those have been budgeted for. We are actually starting school clothes shopping today. We are going to Ross and the thrift store. We already have the school supplies. {Hello summer school supply sales! ha ha}

Okay, I feel better now that I've confessed. Thanks. ☺

Monday, August 1, 2011

The "end times"

I just finished my devotional reading for the day. I am still using my "read the Bible in a year" reading plan. This puts me in Isaiah right now. In my study guide, the author talks about the end times. This got me thinking. The end times were supposed to be on May 21st this year. That didn't happen. Now it's actually going to be 2012. (you know, because you can predict this sort of thing...ha ha)

So, after reading about the end times, what was my first thought? I hope He gives me enough time to grab my scrapbooks and the pictures off of the wall. I don't want to leave without those! ha ha ha

It's not like it's a flood coming and you can save your priceless treasures. Oh my goodness. I just had to laugh at myself over that one. I am such a mom sometimes.

But seriously, do you think He will let me at least take the scrapbooks?