Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Family & Mommy Thoughts: Mother’s Day

I’m going to give some honest mommy input.  Listen up dads, husbands, significant others….

Some moms like a stellar gift for Mother’s Day.  Some moms like a meal out with the family where they don’t have to cook. 

But I’m a mom and our family is on a budget….I have a mom and a mother in law, so a meal out on our dime would turn into some serious cash. 

I can tell you that some of the most simple gifts and thoughtful acts can mean far more than any expensive bag with a bow.

Our mother’s day …..

Tulips…. $10 for a dozen

Chocolate covered strawberries…..$6 for 18 homemade.

Best card on the planet from my pint sized pumpkin …. Priceless!

So each of the moms got a bouquet of tulips, half a dozen chocolate covered strawberries, and an handmade awesome card.

We had an awesome home cooked meal, made by yours truly, and spent some quality time together and THAT is how we do Mother’s Day!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Mommy Thoughts: Real Beauty

So this weekend some friends and I participated in a local Relay for Life to benefit the American Cancer Society.  Of course, pictures were taken and when I looked at myself, I hated what I saw.  I realize that I’m no super model and I never will be, and I could stand to lose a few hundred pounds it feels, but it isn’t cute.

But my husband tells me I’m wrong.  Friends say I’m crazy.

And then I ran across this. 

It made me think twice.  And makes me realize I need to rethink things for the sake of my pint sized pumpkin.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Inspired: Wordle

So there is this really cool website I found while I was working to create a t-shirt for a fundraising event.  I mean cool.  Super cool.

You go and type in a bunch of words in a theme.  For me and this example, I typed in the names of the people in our family, words that meant something to me about our family, whatever came to mind.  To put more focus on particular words, duplicate them.  So for my example I typed:

ashleigh brent gabby love family faith happiness strength proud mother father daughter joy courage meaning time bliss courage drive ashleigh brent gabby love family faith happiness strength proud mother father daughter joy courage meaning time bliss courage drive ashleigh brent gabby love family faith ashleigh brent gabby love family faith happiness strength proud ashleigh brent gabby love family faith

And what I got was…..

I can take this and put it on a t-shirt,  print it and frame it.  The possibilities are endless.  Think about what you could do with a holiday theme?! 

Check it out here........


Pretty cool huh!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Recipe: Brushetta Chicken Pasta

So this isn’t exactly a recipe.  It’s my version of cheating.  It’s a packet.  Yes, you read right, a packet.


No, this isn’t a paid post.  The makers don’t know I exist.  I’m posting this because normally, I HATE packets, boxes, crap like this.  I can usually make something better from scratch.



Top it with some parmesan cheese and some balsamic glaze and Oh. My. Gosh.

It's good!


And easy!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Family: The Croods on a Budget

So while the hubs was at work on Saturday morning, the kiddo and I needed out of the house.  Badly.  But I had $13 left in the family budget for the month.  Solution = $5 morning movies.  Yup, that's right.  Getting ourselves out of the house early to hit up a movie that starts before noon saves us $$$!

Off to The Croods we went! 

So for $10, we got to see a pretty cute new movie, that actually made me cry.  No. I'm not kidding.  There was this part where my kid was beside me giggling, not understanding what the implications of the scene where and I did it.  I cried.  A few tear, not some embarrassing sob, but hey.  It was a cute movie.  

I’ll definitely buy it when it comes out.

Oh, and I should say that G loved it too. :)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Recipe: Beef, Peppers & Snow Peas

It is no secret that I’m a huge fan of The Pioneer Woman.  Ree Drummond inspired me to learn to cook.  No joke.  Prior to Mrs. Drummond, throwing chicken in the oven covered in bottled barbeque sauce and opening a couple of cans of canned veggies and maybe some mac and cheese (the blue box) and we had dinner.  Don’t get me wrong, there isn’t anything wrong with that, but we got sick of it. 

Okay, back to topic.  Ree.  Beef and Snow Peas.

She actually has two different versions of this slightly altered in different ways.


I actually made a modified version that our family loves. 

3 lbs. Flank Steak, London Broil, Beef Something!, Trimmed Of Fat And Sliced Very Thin Against The Grain
1 c. Low Sodium Soy Sauce
6 Tbsp. Sherry or Cooking Sherry
4 Tbsp. Brown Sugar
4 Tbsp. Cornstarch
2 Tbsp. Minced Fresh Ginger
1 tsp. Red Chile Paste
1 tsp. minced Garlic
16 oz. Fresh Snow Peas, Ends Trimmed
1 Green Bell Pepper, sliced thin
1 Red Bell pepper, sliced thin
5-10 Green Onions, sliced thin
6 Tbsp. Olive Oil
White Rice, Cooked According To Package

What to do with it:
Combine soy sauce, sherry, brown sugar, cornstarch, ginger, red chile paste, and garlic. Pour half the liquid over the sliced meat in a bag and refrigerate at least 1 hour, overnight would be even better.  Reserve the other half of the liquid in a separate container and refrigerate.
When it’s time to start with the meat, heat oil in a heavy skillet, my dutch oven works great. It needs to be super duper hot.  Add snow peas and stir for 45 seconds. Remove to a separate plate. Set aside.
Allow pan to get very hot again. Begin searing and cooking meat in batches.  Put the meat in to lay flat, don’t mess with it for 30 to 60 second, then turn.  Flip the meat and cook until done.  Remove to a clean plate and continue cooking meat in batches.

When all the meat is cooked, add the remaining marinade, peppers, snow peas and green onions.  Continue cooking until bell peppers are tender but still slightly crisp.

Mixture will thicken as it sits.

Serve immediately over rice.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Recipes: Tortilla Pizza

So there is this awesome homemade pizza sauce I found on Tasty Kitchen.  You can find it here:

While we do the gourmet homemade pizza thing, some nights, dough isn’t ready, I don’t quite frankly feel like it and I want something quick.

So we do Tortilla Pizzas.  And can I just say they rock!  They do!  Oven or toaster, not in a microwave.

Pizza Sauce
Fixins (Pepperoni, Bell Pepper, Onion, etc.)

Now what to do with it.  Take an individual tortilla, put enough sauce on it to your liking, put it almost all the way to the edges, next comes cheese, again, to your liking, top with veggies and toast.
It’s awesome if I do say so myself.  Another great plus, we all get to make our own.  No complaining about onions on my kiddos pizza.

It’s bliss in our house on pizza night.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Recipes & Food: Monster Salads

So there is this awesome salad place here in town.  Their salads are amazing.  Full of fresh ingredients, homemade dressings, delicious meats, oh my goodness it is good stuff, but it is freaking $12 a pop!  For a flipping salad!  Seriously!?!?  Don’t get me wrong, some days, it is so worth it.  But most day, I would be crazy to spend that kind of money….so I make my own.  I spend a little over twice that, and we eat the salad for days!

Fresh foods, greens, veggies, fruits, you name it.

We like:
Red Leaf Lettuce
Green Leaf Lettuce
Black Beans
Parmesan Cheese
Red Grapes
Fresh (Cold) Pasta
Bell Peppers
Grilled Chicken

Whip up some dressing.  And trust me, if you’re a ranch dressing fan, don’t buy that bottled crap.  Three things …. Buttermilk + Mayo + Hidden Valley Buttermilk Ranch Packet = Good enough for me!  If you like things spicy, add in some chipotle pepper in adobo sauce and I mean a smidge, not a lot.

Then you can feast on this!


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Inspired: Bluebonnet Pictures

I’m going to admit something that is probably horrible and shameful and if any respectable photographer were reading this they would immediately discredit me and feed me to the photog wolves.

I totally stalk other people’s photo blogs and when I find a portrait that just makes me stop and gawk, I “pin” it, copy it, do something with it and file it away for future shoots.  I’m not saying I copy every single thing, but sometimes I’m just not as creative as others.

Now, back to my point.  There are these flowers that grow in Texas.  Our beloved state flower.  People flock to their prolific patches every spring and every year I fail to be one of the people that gets the timing right, the kid to cooperate, to catch a shot that I would be happy to blow up and hang on a wall in our home.  

Until this year baby!


I totally love this……my beautiful red headed girl.....

And this……

But most of all, this…..

So once and a while, I get it right, in my opinion at least. 

Now I encourage you, go forth and prowl, get ideas and make them your own.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Life: Kindergarten Round-Up

How did this happen?  How did I end up with a five year old?  Seriously.  I’m confused.  When people say that kids grow up fast, people without kids don’t usually get it.  I know I didn’t.  But holy crap since having the pint sized pumpkin, I get it.  Totally.  Completely. Understand the concept.

You know in Breaking Dawn Part 2, how the baby is the size of a toddler by the time she is four days old?  And she is the size of a 5 year old in just a few months?  That’s how I feel right now.

I took the pint sized pumpkin to “pre-register” for kindergarten.  Don’t ask.  In our school district, you pre-register, attend pre-registration orientation, register, attend another orientation and then if you’ve crossed your t’s and dotted your i’s and provided what seems like everything possible short of a DNA sample, your kid gets to start school.  At pre-registration, I filled out 100+ pages of paperwork it seemed.  I relinquished possession of the beating heart that lives outside my body, to a very sweet kindergarten teacher, who probably has more patience in her pinky than I have in my entire body.  She took my kid to quiz her and figure out where she stands on the checklist for placement.  Bringing her back to me a short while later, my kid was super smiley.  Like Ms. P., had given her five suckers and I didn’t know.  But she had not.  Instead my kid just hugged her without being prompted and told her thank you.  (This is hug thing is HUGE for my kid.)  My first instinct was an audible “awe!”  Then in the car when she told me that she wished Ms. P., could be her new mommy…..well that didn’t make me quite as happy.

Needless to say, I’d much rather her be excited about going to school, even if Ms. P., is like a saint in the eyes of my five year old and I’m the devil with the pitch fork that yells when said kiddo doesn’t listen.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Money & Life: Changes All Round

I’ve struggling on changing my writing style for this blog of mine.  I waiver between journal entries that are unfiltered versus shorter and more organize posts.  It’s in my nature just to type, and whatever comes, comes, but that isn’t exactly what people like to read.  But then I think, 2 people or 200 people could read this blog, and either way, its purpose would be the same.  To be me and document my family’s journey.

So let’s do this shall we.

Part of working Dave’s Plan is paying down debt as quickly and with as much intensity as possible.  Because of our large debt load, our plan will inevitably take considerably longer than most.  Thus we’ve opted not to be so extreme in our budget planning to avoid burn out and spending binges.  But there were a few problems. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Life Reboot = Blog Reboot

I had something serious on my mind today.  It was one of those times when I wanted to vent.  Normally I would be able to look over my desk and soundboard off of my best friend.  We worked together for three years.  Until I quit my job in December.  Needless to say.  Life Reboot.

Don't get me wrong, I still have my best friend, but seeing each other for a solid eight hours a day for years and then only getting quick emails and after work phone calls plus dinner every week or two...it sucks.  I miss her.

Okay. Back to topic.

2012 kind of sucked, in a lot of ways....and because I'm always spouting that I hate it when people complain about their problems and don't do anything about it, I decided to do something about it.  In July, I started looking for another job.  I LOVED my job.  I did.  Wholeheartedly.  I just didn't like the people that I worked with, at least most of them anyways.  It got to such a point that I was bringing it home everyday.  My family was suffering.  My four year old was telling me how cranky I was, more days than not.  I couldn't do it all.  With the hubs working as much as he is, I felt like I was on my own most of the time.  Life just wasn't going my way and something had to change.

I interviewed.  A lot.  Trying to find a place that would be a great fit for me, not just taking the first offer with money waiving in my face.  While I would love to have taken the extra $10K a year that one company offered, it would have put me right back where I was trying so desperately to get away from.

So I took the job that felt right to me.  While it isn't perfect and didn't come with some huge raise, it cut my drive time from an hour and ten minutes, each way, to twenty minutes.  I love saying that.  Twenty minutes.  That's one hundred and forty minutes more with my kid each day.  Over two whole hours!  I work with good people.  Office politics are nearly non-existent.  Don't get me wrong, it isn't easy.  It's actually really freaking hard.  I started the new job in December and things are finally starting to get better.

Hopefully, since life is getting better....a reboot if you will.  Things will start back up with this lonely blog.  I'm working on it.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Money and Debt: Resolution No. 1

Every year I sit down and make a list a mile long of things I want to accomplish.  As I approach thirty, I'm realizing that all the things on that list never happen.  So I'll start smaller, I've only got three.

We've been working the Dave plan for a while now and are pleased with the results that we are accomplishing, ecstatic that we've seen the light while many of our friends are in the middle of the downward spiral and they don't even see it, and relieved that we have a plan.  This resolution is more of a process not a single goal to hit.  We want to be smart with our money every single month, not be thrown off by unexpected expenses, enjoy our family vacation and get to the point this year that my dear husband will be able to quit his second job all while continuing to get out of debt.  There are so many things that we want to happen for our family this year, we have many goals, but that is why this resolution is so broad.

Resolution No. 1:
Make our finances work for us.  

For us this means going back over last year and seeing all the places where our budget needed

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Weekly Menu: December 25 - 31

Our menu this week:
Sunday: Christmas Day!
Monday:  Chili
Tuesday: Chicken Orzo Pasta
Wednesday: Stroganoff
Thursday: Leftovers
Friday: Breakfast for dinner
Saturday: Stuffed Bell Peppers

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Weekly Menu: December 18 - 22

Our menu this week:
Sunday: Spaghetti & Meatballs (Weight Watchers Cookbook)
Monday: Asian stiry fry over rice
Tuesday: Sherried tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches
Wednesday:  Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken
Thursday: Taco Pizza
Friday: Leftovers
Then....let the gorging begin.......