30 December 2013

2014 Goals

Excited for the new year! I know it's not REALLY any different, just a date on a calendar but it sure FEELS different, and I love it!
This year we are doing it month by month, lots of our goals will carry over for each month. Getting to celebrate meeting a goal will make keeping it up the next month easier! (I hope)
Do you make resolutions, or goals? Are they weekly, monthly, for the whole year or by a certain date?  What is on your list for 2014?
Having goals is important but having a plan to meet those goals is even more important!
1. Pay off $1000 minimum towards debt
2. NO fast food, not even drinks!
3. Find 5 better alternatives for 5 less than perfect groceries
4. Stick to meal plan 21 out of the 31 days
5. Drink 80 oz of water 5 days per week
6. Stick to 52 Weeks of Organizing Plan
7. Pack 5 things for Emergency Packs
8. Journal 1x per week 
9. Try homemade dishwasher soap
10. Deep Clean Kitchen
The Plan:
~Work 10 hours a week OT if available
~Stick to grocery budget
~1 Target trip max per week
Keep water bottles and re-usable cups clean and cold water in the pitcher in the fridge.
Stick to the meal plan
Keep healthy snacks in the car
Plan ahead for longer adventures out
Set aside enough time to read labels at the grocery store, no rush trips
research ahead of time

Prep groceries as soon as they make it home
Check meal plan night before

 Same as #2

Read ahead to prep
Schedule time to do it
DO it, even if it's not a 3 hour block, 15 minutes adds up

Make a list,
incorporate stuff into the grocery list

 Keep it handy
Write it on the schedule

Make it
Add ingredients to grocery list

Plan ahead
Schedule a little bit each week
Goes in line with my organizing, that should help

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29 December 2013

Meal Plan Monday Week #1

It's almost a shiny new year!
One of my goals is to keep up on the meal planning, and sticking with it!
I'm not perfect, things come up, and we don't eat all organic but I am doing my best to keep our budget on track and limit the stress that can go on at meal time. We usually like to eat dinner around 6:00. This means I can't wait until 4 to decide what to make!  I am hoping to share our meal plan every Monday. While I will try to avoid duplicate weeks, we have some picky eaters and I find that sticking to what we know and love saves on the budget too. The less new ingredients we buy, the less we are spending.
Some of these recipes will be new to me, ones I haven't tried yet, those are the iffy days.
Today is my birthday and a weekend, that means I haven't cooked much the last few days, I miss it!
With this cold weather I am still loving the comfort foods!
Monday~ Pork Roast and Mashed Potatoes
We keep things simple with pork roast. Crock pot, chicken stock, thyme, cumin, carrots and celery salt (no one here likes celery) a little Worcestershire sauce and some white wine. I don't ever measure. But I would guess 1 Tbsp. of W sauce, 1/3C wine, 1 12 oz. can of stock, and 1/2 Tbsp. of spices. We will have something green too. Probably green beans.
Tuesday~ We will probably get pizza tonight. Happy New Years!
Wednesday~ BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches and salads
Using leftover Pork, pulling a few burger buns out of the freezer and an easy salad.
Thursday~ Meatloaf & steamed cauliflower
Growing up there were never onions in anything, hubby doesn't like them so nothing I make has onions in it. I know onions are a staple in lots of meatloaf recipes. None here, but I do add some other stuff I have been told is a little weird! I use ground beef or turkey, or both. Oats or cooked brown rice instead of bread crumbs (I rarely measure, just add until it looks right), and I add 1/2C ish of sunflower seed kernels. Then just the regular seasoning and cook time!
Friday~ Baked Chicken w/veggies & sauce
I know I will have time to bake some chicken, and I can usually hide some veggies in sauce (homemade cream of chicken soup) and some rice or pasta, whichever we have more of.
Saturday~ Goulash from All She Cooks 
Haven't tried this one before!
Sunday~ Chicken Enchiladas
Using the rest of the chicken I baked the other day, and this recipe.
Anything new I am trying, or I've tried and loved are on my Pinterest Board "Dinner

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26 December 2013

52 Weeks of Organizing 2014

It's no secret I love Organizing. I love the end result almost as much as I love doing it! On top of my passion for it, I also think it's important to have things in their place, it makes the crazy parts of the day smoother.
I'm going to join in this year with the 52 weeks to an organized home! I have gotten out of the habit of doing something every week and I miss it, I can tell our house is not running quite as smooth as it used to.
I love the list they have compiled here, but I felt like I needed to make one that was a little more in line with our family. There are at least a couple blogs I have seen something like this.
Organizing Junkie
Home Storage Solutions

Some of these aren't going to apply to everyone, maybe there are other areas that you can do that aren't on the list instead.
I think this, mixed with the bag a week to donate or trash will be a great combo for us!
First week is right around the corner, next Wednesday! The first 5 weeks of this will be the hardest ones, then a few weeks of a little easier.
I want to read more about this 52 week series too, it sounds interesting!
I like how this mama shared her every week of doing the plan!

Anyone else want to join?!
 I am hoping to share our weekly progress and would love to see how some other families make stuff work for them.

Here is our week 1

I know some of those dishes on the bottom I haven't used in a year, could be because I have been working? hard to say at this point but I might be getting rid of some to make it less cluttered. I'll share how it ends up and week 2 before!

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12 December 2013

~Kid Questions~

 We are in the car a whole lot, I'm sure many of you mama's can relate to the to and from school, sports and all that fun stuff.  I love the sweet conversations we get to have in the car but I feel like we could use this time when there are no distractions for the kids to ask more questions and start conversations beyond the usual. What did you do at school? What was your favorite part of today?

So I made this list, with help from Pinterest. Cut the little strips with topics and questions and stuck them in a little mason jar.
I use mason jars for everything, they are just so handy and fit in the car!

Mornings on the way to school we spend the first few minutes on spelling words and the plan for the day, but I think we can fit some of this in before school too!
Some of the questions are things like:

What is your favorite thing we do as a family?
What is your favorite thing to do with Mom/Dad?
What do you want to be when you grow up?
What do you think you are realllly good at?
What do you wish you were better at?
What is your favorite outfit?
What is your favorite Holiday?
What is your favorite thing to do outside?
What is your favorite thing to do outside?
What do you want to learn how to cook?
Who would you want to visit with if you could pick anyone?
If you want to have kids, what do you think you will name them?

And I got this book for ideas! They are a different style of questions. Just random things like "Can anyone learn to use chopsticks?" and "Do fish breath" and then some math problems and other safety stuff about matches, strangers, stealing etc. all thrown in. Some of the answers the kids have is SO different than what I would expect, it's fun. This one has 1000 questions. We keep it in our other car. It makes waiting during errands or long drives a little more interesting.


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04 December 2013

Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup

This is seriously one of THE easiest recipes. So easy we have it often, those days I forget to thaw chicken the night before or just want dinner done when I get home.

In the crock pot (with a disposable liner)
12 oz chicken stock
3 Tbs homemade cream of chicken mix (cornstarch, seasoning and powdered milk)
Mix those 2 up a little, nothing serious
1C salsa. I blend ours cause hubbby doesn't like chunks
1C corn
beans if you like them
combine that all together
2 frozen chicken breast, thawed if you need it sooner than 8 hours.
If the chicken isn't mostly covered in liquid, add some spicy v8 or more salsa/chicken stock
 I cook hours 8-10 hours on low then
I just shred the chicken with a fork just before it's time to dish up, add some cheese, tortilla strips and sour cream, cilantro if we have it around.
Super easy, delish and not a budget buster! We pretty much have all of those things on hand other than cilantro and none of them are expensive.
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02 December 2013

Bacon Potato Soup

This is a frequent meal here, it's easy, fairly inexpensive and everyone will eat it!
I wish I used recipes, that would make things easier to share. I don't, but I took pictures and can give y'all and idea.
I usually make this after we make bacon, it's just easier and saves on other ingredients!
I use the same pan hubby made bacon in, I hate making bacon, I keep about a tablespoon of the bacon grease in the pan, on medium heat.
Peal and cut about 7 potatoes, we make a bog pot and have lunch leftovers.
I use the apple corer/slice to cut potatoes. I don't care if they are all uniform shape and it gets the job done a little faster.
 Then I just toss them in the bacon grease and let them fry up for a few minutes.

Once that is done, I add the potatoes to a bigger pot with some milk and chicken stock, just enough to barely cover the potatoes. Then I add my spices, Cumin, Paprika, Thyme, Chili Powder and Nutmeg, and 1/2-1 Tablespoon Mustard, not enough to be a loud flavor, it's pretty subtle but good!

Then I just let it cook on low-medium until the potatoes are cooked all the way through. Some of the smaller potatoes break down a little bit making it a creamier soup.

Once it's done we add some cheese, bacon, sour cream, broccoli (if only the kids would eat it) and any other topping! Good way to clean out the fridge!


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Giving in to the Coffee Pot!

I really really don't like counter clutter! I just feel like counter stuff, no matter how clean it is, looks messy, and makes kitchens look so much smaller! Usually we have nothing that stays on the counter, but I am giving in to the coffee pot (for now)
I decided this one little area can be sacrificed to counter stuff, but it had to be as pretty as it can be. We've had this little plate, cup holder for a few years, it's dainty and simple but holds 6 cups and 6 plates and has some room for some other fluff.  I am just using one plate slot for napkins. I hung some of mugs and used a couple little mason jars and containers for coffee spoons and sugar!

I like that if we have someone over, everything is right there and easy to find.
Still can't bring myself to leave the toaster out, and that coffee pot might be swapped out for a smaller one if I can find a deal!
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01 December 2013

November goal update

I can't believe how fast this year has gone by. It's almost time to set some more goals! So much has changed this year and it's hard to remember what January was like at all.
This is the second to last update, crazy and not entirely successful but we made it through!
I shared on facebook that I had the chance to work a bunch of overtime, and I still do. I just got the paycheck from those crazy 20 days in a row of work, a lot of them being 12 hour days. Paid off 1 more credit card, feels good to do that, and it's a great push to work some more overtime if it works for our schedule!

Another way we have saved over the year is calling and asking for a lower interest rate on the nasty debt we do have. This is a every few months job, it's not fun and waiting on hold stinks. But if it saves some in the long run it's worth it. Same with car and homeowners insurance. I get a re-quote every 6 months. Last time it went down $8 a month, which I realize doesn't seem like THAT much but it's almost $100 in a year.
If you haven't called yours lately, try doing 1 a day and see if it saves you anything!
I have kept track of debt each month the whole year and am excited to see where we are at January 1st 2014 compared with January 2013! Not only will there be less in $, but how much smaller the list is, is really encouraging! I have a feeling December won't be as successful with paying towards debt. I am feeling the urge to schedule lots of family activities and those aren't free. Holiday cooking will for sure put me over the grocery budget a little too!
I am doing my best not to stress about it too much, and enjoy December and Christmas!

Life and other stuff
I don't think I made it to the gym much this year, not at all this month. I miss the fun workouts and haven't lost a pound but haven't gone the other way either, so for now I will be ok with that.

Hubby went out of town for a week for work, goodness I forget what a mess I am when he is gone! Makes me appreciate all that he does when he is here, not just stuff like take the garbage out, but the important stuff like listening to me and my crazy ideas, tucking our babies in and keeping me warm.
So happy that the week long trips aren't nearly as often as before!

I had maybe 2 Starbucks all month, for sure think it be considered a done thing for 2014! I also did way better with drinking water instead of pop. I know how horrible it is, hard habit to break. One bad habit at a time. Paid for coffee gone, pop next!

We had a super Thanksgiving, and we really have SO much to be thankful for.  Happy our kids realize how blessed they are!

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