Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Eating from the Pantry...

As part of our 'no spend (controlled spend) February' (see what we did last year)we are also trying to 'eat from the pantry' - or use up all the things I have bought in the past.  There's a good bit in there for our family of 3 so I think we can do it, with the exception of perishables.  Even canned goods have a 'best by' date so they don't last forever.  It also gives me a chance to really see what I have in the pantry.

To get this started I went through the pantry and cabinets to see what kinds of goodies I had accumulated and made a list.  I went through the freezer as well - frozen doesn't mean forever, either. Looking at my list I did a meal plan for the month of February.  We have a hockey tournament one weekend so that means I won't be cooking much so I have budgeted for any eating out we might do. 

I have also made a list of anything I think I might need to get me through the month - we are out of garlic pepper, for example, so I will buy that tomorrow on my one (hopefully) shopping trip.

From my pantry I have come up with some pretty tasty dinners (the italicized items are in the pantry/freezer):
  •  Chicken alfredo (alfredo mix, fettuccine, chicken, garlic bread*)
  •  Corn chowder w/chicken (corn, chicken)
  •  Veggie soup (chicken broth, green beans, canned tomatoes, tomato paste)
  •  Lasagna (noodles, spaghetti sauce,ground beef, ricotta, garlic bread*)
  • Chicken stir fry (chicken, rice, pineapple, stir fry sauce)
  •  Ham steak sandwiches (ham steak, bread)
  •  Pot roast (roast, onion soup mix, banana peppers)
  •  Clam chowder (clam chowder, garlic bread*) 
That's a pretty good start I think.  There will be leftovers from lasagna and the soups, too which I will take advantage of on hockey nights.

*Garlic bread: I buy french bread on sale from the bakery and freeze it.  My last loaf was 98 cents and lasted for about 4 meals. :) I use fresh garlic and butter to make it garlic bread.

All of my meals also include either salad or fresh veggie or both, and sometimes a fruit.  I will shop for these types of items and I buy what is in season/on sale so I never know from week to week what I will serve.

Regarding lunch and breakfast:  I generally do not menu plan for those meals because my husband eats lunch out M-F (business lunches) so I don't pack him lunch.  I do pack his breakfast (Ezekiel toast w/ agave & peanut butter and 10 almonds-everyday) and a snack (usually a 100 calorie pack - it pains me to do that but...)  I pack LM's lunch everyday - she eats the same thing everyday (like father, like daughter)-turkey sandwich w/lettuce, carrots, fruit & and sweet (granola bar, pudding, etc).  Breakfast is usually cereal and fruit or eggs & toast.  I make a sandwich for lunch for me with whatever I have.

I know many people do eat from the pantry challenges and I really love doing it myself.  I find that I am more creative and spend less $$.  Much of what gets accumulated in the pantry are things on sale (really good sales) that I think I'll use but don't get around to. Plus I love the time I save having to NOT go shopping.

Have you ever done a pantry challenge?  How did it work?

I'll have more info on my no spend February later this week.  It will be our 4th year.  Think my husband is finally getting used to it!

Linking up to Frugal Friday @ Life as Mom.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Happy 'Smurfday'...

LM celebrated her 10th birthday a couple of weeks ago.  I am not quite sure where 10 years has gone.  She wanted a 'Smurfs' party and a bouncy house (they are all the rage here, are they like that where you live?).   

I ordered her invitations from EK Web Designs on Etsy.  We chose design #3 and had them customized.  I was sent a proof and then a PDF file which I had printed at the Walm*rt photo center. So easy and they turned out adorable!

Party City was showing these blue hanging pom poms with their Smurf items and I loved them.  They are actually still up!

Here's a view of the party table which I kept inside and had a snack/drink table set up outside by the bouncy house.

The Smurf cake was a hit and quite tasty.  LM asked for Red Velvet which you can now buy a box mix for  & that's what she asked for instead of me making it from scratch.  Works for me.  I think we got the Duncan Hines mix and it turned out fabulous, if you ever want to make red velvet the easy way. ;)

I wasn't quite sure how I was going to decorate the cake.  I thought about figurines but frankly, we spent a small fortune to rent the bouncy for the day and I didn't want to spend $10 more on some plastic figurines that would be tossed eventually.  So I came up with the Smurf hat idea.  My husband and LM were not sure if anyone would know what it was.  But every last person said 'that looks like a Smurf hat', even the dads who came over to watch football with my husband.  Mission accomplished. My writing looks like a first grader did it but it was hard to get my big hands down so close to the plate.

I made popcorn for the kids to snack on while playing and found these fun boxes at Hobby Lobby.

Here's LM on the bouncy.  They set it up at 10 am on Saturday so LM had a few friends come over early to enjoy it with her.  They bounced until about 9 pm.  We sent the boys home about 5 and 3 of the girls stayed overnight.  The bouncy house was picked up about 7:30 am on Sunday and was headed for another party. 

So, it was another successful birthday party here at September Acres.  And I have to say the bouncy house was worth every. last. penny.

Linking up to:
Weekend Bloggy Reading

Also linking up to Tuesday's Treasures at My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia & Life as Mom's birthday cake round up.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

'Love' -ly...

Valentine's Day is around the corner.  Really, it is.  So I figured it was high time to show the mantel some love as it's been 'naked' since I took down Christmas.  The lovely mantel was decorated using things I already had.  That's the way I like it.

 'Love' garland made using my Cricut a few years ago.

 Another Cricut project framed in this romantic looking frame.

The DIY mercury glass vase makes yet another appearance.  The silver branches look wintry to me and it is still winter so I figured they could stay out.

I love using books, especially on the mantel.  I stacked some red ones here.

My mom framed the little print on the right for me.  It fits in perfect here.

Do you do alot (or any) Valentine decorating around your house?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

January 19...

Well, alot of you woke up to this type of weather this morning.  Not me.  Of course here in Arizona a snow day is a thing of dreams.  Hope everyone who got it is enjoying their winter wonderland.

Today actually has me thinking 'where the heck did January go?'  It's more than half over and the month has been a whirlwind.  I called in the payroll the other day and the lady at the payroll company said  "2nd and last payroll for January".  Um, no, that can't be.  But sure enough she was right!

I hope to be back soon with something a bit more exciting than this.  LM had her birthday party last weekend so there are cute cake photos to share.  Lots of projects I want to do, of course. There's all that organized home stuff I want to share.  Right now it's all I can do to keep the kitchen & bathrooms clean, beds made and clothes clean.  I often wonder how three people can generate so many clothes.

So, there you go.  Have a great Thursday.  Enjoy the snow and keep warm!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Organized Home-2012 Goals...

It's already the second week of January.  Yikes.  I really want to get organized this year.  I know, I've said it before.  Things really got out of control the last couple of months and it's time to reign things in and get it all together before we end up on Hoarders or Extreme Clutter.  So, the first thing I did was get this big wall calendar for 2012.  I am a visual person and like to see the entire month when I lift my head so it's on the wall in front of my desk.  So far so good.

Using this calendar I want to mark out time to take care of one big thing a month.  12 goals in 2012.  Perfect.  The first thing that needs to be done is my office.  I haven't set a date for that yet but it needs to be in January and will likely take a couple of days.  And a big shovel.

 Next is our 'linen closet'.  I use the term loosely since we don't actually have a closet but some cabinets in the hallway.  That's not all bad expect that they aren't really deep and really not made for linens.  And king sheets take up so much space.  So I need to pull everything out of the cabinets (there's more than linens in there) and try to make it an easier space to maneuver.

Then there's LM's room.  It's in pretty good shape most of the time but there's still too much in the room.  She is getting good at purging, finally. I'd also like to get her some new shades.  Her room is still sporting the vertical blinds from the 90's.  Nice, I know. 

The land of misfit frames.  Should they stay or should they go.  Good question.  I love how Peter Walsh says that your things should have a place of honor.  This is not it. 

Books.  I feel like we have books everywhere.  I stack them on mantels, put them in bookcases and baskets.  I feel like they are a constant project.  I'd like to work on one place to put them when they aren't 'on display'.  In order to do that some purging is in order.

The Garage. It needs to be emptied out and only the things we will use and need go back in.  Simple Enough.  I think.

Closets.  This is one place that gets purged/cleaned a couple of times a year.  We still have too many clothes, plain and simple.  Not everyone does and I like donating what we don't wear to people who can use more.  What is it that they say? We wear something like only 20% of our clothes.  Crazy.

Outside. We need to re-do the rock in our front yard.  No grass here but our landscaping and rock needs a little sprucing up.  This is a spring or fall event due to the heat- probably fall due to the cost.

Craft area. This area is in my office but deserves it's own TLC. I have some nice storage pieces they just need some touching up.  Like with our clothes I have way to many craft supplies (scrapbook paper anyone?)  This is the perfect summer time project.  While most people are spending time outdoors we're escaping the heat indoors.  You can only spend so much time in the pool.  Really.

Kitchen. Since we use the kitchen everyday it stays pretty organized.  Tonight I went through one cabinet and purged expired stuff and made room for some things we got for Christmas.  I need to go through the cabinets that house the dishes and serve ware to see what should stay & what should go.  I wonder if the 'if you haven't worn it in a year toss it' rule goes for the kitchen?  If you haven't used a platter in a year should it go?  Hmmmm.

Paper. All I can say is UGH!  I think I am going to shred a lot of bills from last year.  Everything is available on line now so I just don't think I need to keep the Electric bill with 'paid' written on it for eternity.  Doing this blog post is proof that I paid my electric bill otherwise the electricity I need to run this computer would have been turned off!  Of course I'll still keep anything related to taxes and  investments, receipts for big ticket items and the like but the monthly routine bills can go bye-bye.


The big thing we want to do is put new flooring in the bedrooms.  Dark wood, like above to replace the carpet.  I'm thinking September or October. 

What are your home goals for 2012?  I'm linking up to the Nester's Home Goals Party.