Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Recipe of the Week-Gumbo

As I said before, I am trying a new recipe every week. This weeks recipe was for homemade Gumbo. I thought it would be a very hearty dinner one night, combining meat with veggies.

Turns out the gumbo I made was pretty expensive. I used about 10 chicken legs and a pack of smoked sausage. I am sure you could use leftover chicken, but in a family of 6 we don't have meet left over very often.

Here is the recipe I used, I found on on the web and like usual, tweaked it to suit our tastes.

10 chicken legs
salt and pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 pound of smoked sausage, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1/2 cup flour
5 tablespoons margerine
1 large onion, chopped
8 cloves garlic
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup celergy chopped
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
4 cups water
5 beef boillon cubes
1 can diced tomatoes

Cook the chicken with the oil. When that is finished, remove and cook the sausage. Remove when finished. Add 3 tablespoons of the butter and the veggies and saute them until soft. Add the rest of the margerine and the flour and stir all together, this will thicken it. You get kind of a big glop of veggies. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir, stir, stir to loosen up the glop! Add the meat back in and simmer on low for about 2 hours.

This was pretty good but the taste of Worcestershire sauce was very overpowering. I love that stuff, but it didn't seem right. So while we ate it, I would not make it again.

This is linked to Tasty Tuesday.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Tip of the Week!

Sign up for freebies! I usually sign up for freebies.

I love getting things in the mail. Always have. Except for bills, who likes getting those?

I usually get my freebie information from Money Saving Mom, I go to her web site a few times a day if I can and check to see what they have. Sometimes I can't check for day and sadly the really good freebies are already gone.

Here is what I got in the mail the other day. A free Aveeno sample and a pair of free running socks! All for nothing!

It does take a few minutes, but I signed up for Roboform and they do the work for me! Roboform is a website that keeps this information on hand as well as user names and passwords (I only use the password feature on non private sites I hit). Then I simply click a button in my menu bar while I have the form open and it fills out my information into the fields. I simply hit send and done! I have filled out my form for a freebie.

This post is linked to Frugal Fridays.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

New Fall Decorations for Under $7

The other day my daughter was home sick. So since I couldn't run the errands that I had originally planned for that day, I decided to make good use of my time at home.

I had some projects that I had been wanting to do.

The above photo is my mantel above my fireplace. This is what I have up currently for Fall.

This wreath was made with coffee filters and a dollar store wreath. Total cost was $2.50 and I have half the filters leftover for another project.

This red/burgandy charger was from Target. I got the two pack for $2.50. The candle and candle holder was a gift from mother-in-law. The pumpkin my daughter made in her current pottery class.

Dollar store ceramic pumpkin. $1.

Dollar store ceramic pumpkin. $1.

I already had these frames and they were currently in storage. I simply printed out the word "Fall" and put them in the frames. I printed out a bird and put two of my little bird decorations with it. I think it turned out really cute. My husband thinks it spells FAEL. But that is a cursive "l".  Total cost of this was free. 

I love that decorating does not have to cost a lot of money.

This post is linked to Frugal Friday.

Where Have I Been?

I took a little unplanned hiatus . . . again. I know I have been doing that a lot lately. But bare with me, I have been a little overwhelmed with . . . well, everything. With life.
I can’t promise that I will be back every day, but I will promise to do my best to post. For all five of you that read my blog!

I do have some planned weekly posts that I am excited to get up and running.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Egg and Dairy Free Brownies

I have been struggling for ever to find a egg and dairy free brownie recipe that was moist. They are always too dry or worse, they don't set at all and remain liquid.  I think on those I have the ratio of wet and dry ingredients off.

In addition to tasting great, I needed the recipe to be quick, not have too many steps and be frugal as well. Especially since brownies only last a day or two in my house!

I came across a recipe on the internet the other day that was labeled as a "vegan" brownie recipe. I altered it a slight bit so that it fit our needs.

I can honestly say this is the best one to date. It is pretty moist and doesn't have a horribly sweet chocolaty flavor. So they are very light. My daughter that doesn't like chocolate even liked them. So that is a plus. These brownies barely last a day when I make these.

This recipe is definitely a keeper. Tasty, fast and frugal!

2 cups flour
2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup water
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir the dry ingredients together then add the wet. Mix until blended. Pour into a 9 x 13 inch pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Cool and enjoy! I thought these tasted better the next day because I do not like my brownies warm. But that is a personal preference.

This post is linked to Tasty Tuesday.

Monday, September 13, 2010

One of Those Days

Ever have one of those days where you feel like all you do is clean up messes?

Well, today was was of those days.

In a matter of 24 hours I had cleaned up my share of #2, vomit and broken glass.

I woke up to my son having gone #2 in his diaper. He loves to go in after it so of course it was on his hands and under his nails.

Then in the afternoon our Great Dane decided to go #2 in my front room. Thank goodness we have not replaced that carpet yet. It is still the ugly mauve carpet they had when we moved in. I not only had to clean that up really well, then scrub the areas. Now I have to rug scrub the whole room. For those of you that don't know, Great Danes can poop, A LOT.

My second oldest daughter spilled her apple juice on the kitchen floor. Which we all know you miss some and before you know it your feet are sticking to the floor.

I go upstairs to go into my bedroom and one of the dogs has thrown up half chewed grass. So another cleanup, and rug scrubbing.

Then my son, that is my 17 1/2 month old son snuck into his sisters room and brought down a snow globe. Then proceeded to drop it on the top glass part. Now I honestly thought that the people that made those for kids(this one was a Lion King one) made then out of some kind of indestructible product. Really I did. So you can imagine my surprise when this one shatters. I am happy to report that my son was not injured at all.

I had to first pick up the glass, then towel up the liquid that was inside. Did I mention this one had glitter instead of snow? Yeah, so glitter was sticking to everything!

Because of all the spills, etc. on my kitchen floor, I had to mop my floor. On my hands and knees of course.

I am so done with cleaning up messes.

It was one of those days where I had to remind myself that anything that I wanted to do had to be put on hold. I am a mom, so I had to simply put everything else down and mother my kids. Even if I wanted to look at the Sunday paper, work on my blog or simply drink my tea in peace. And that is okay, I will eventually get to do those things.

But right now my kiddos need me.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Fall Decorations

I couldn't take it anymore and I got out my fall decorations on September 3. It was a gorgeous cool day.

This is what I got out. Enjoy.

I will post this soon, this is made from dollare store stuff.

Close-up of the sunflowers.

On porch, so cute.

Wooden pumpkins from local craft show.

Also from local craft show, but these include the bark, these are my favorite.

Scarecrow, from same craft show.

I have had this sunflower for years. Our first place we lived in after we were married, I had decorated with sunflowers. This is still from that house.

Wreath hanging on our pantry door.

With the exception of the wreath above, I keep these up until Thanksgiving.

Fall definately works for me!

This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Happy Anniversary

Today is my 14th wedding anniversary.

I love you Kip. I hope to enjoy many more years together.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Eating to Lose Weight and Stay Healthy

Some of you have been wondering just how/what I have been doing to lose weight.

I originally started with Weight Watchers. That worked at first, very well. But my subscription expired and I didn't want to spend the money to extend it. Not to mention I have been reading a book that goes into detail the food that I need to avoid to help my stomach. I will eventually write about my stomach problems, but they are long.

So, I decided to give this diet a try. Although I don't really like to call it a diet. It is really a lifestyle change.

I have really changed the way I eat. This is what my typical dinner consists of. Rice, vegetable and fish. In this case it was salmon. I couldn't tell you the last time I had red meat or milk for that matter.

The rice and the green beans are steamed, the salmon was grilled on cedar planks.

I eat a lot of vegetables and rice now. I am so used to eating healthy that when I do eat something junky, my stomach revolts and I am sick for a day or two!

This is blackened catfish, orange rice and green beans.

Pizza with no cheese and a salad.

It has been very hard. And while I have upped my exercise, I have not lost a single pound in over a month. I don't know if I am trading fat for muscle. But I have lost 30 pounds total and am hoping to lose another 10-20. We will see. I am not stressing over it, I want to be healthy, not super skinny.

On a typical day I eat 1/2 cup low fat granola and a banana for breakfast along with peppermint tea. If I am really tired, I will drink coffee. However I am supposed to avoid coffee. But some days it is a must.

For lunch I will eat tuna with plain pasta or a spicy black bean burger with rice. Or I will eat leftovers from dinner, always very heavy on the veggies and rice or pasta.

A snack will consist of soy yogurt with some berries mixed in, more low fat granola, a piece of fruit or a couple of homemade ginger snaps.

By the time dinner rolls around I am usually very hungry. I try to eat carrots or peppers while I am cooking but some days I succumb to my craving and steal a chocolate chip cookie. Only to feel like I am going to throw up later. Why do I do that?

It is the strangest thing. I have figured out that my main culprit in my stomach issues is chocolate. That used to be my favorite thing and my downfall. I am not one of those people that can eat a nibble and be satisfied, I have to have a lot. And a lot makes me vomit. Enough said. So, you would think I wouldn't want it at all, but I do. It is a learning process. I am trying.

My exercise routine consists of either doing one of my exercise videos at 5:00 a.m. before work or running with my little man in the jogging stroller. I enjoy the running more but some days I have to settle for the video. Also on the days I work I walk a couple miles on my morning and afternoon breaks. Not to mention I find every opportunity to play with my kids. Today for instance I spent half the day playing soccer with my kids or pulling them in wagons.

Friday, September 3, 2010


So Friday I spent the morning making copies of the kindergarten newsletter. Almost 900 copies. That took a little over 2 hours. While keeping my 17 month old son occupied. It was okay, thank goodness since it is a monthly thing for me. But honestly, I am happy I can help. I enjoy volunteering at the schools.

When I came home, I opened every one of my new windows. It was heavenly. The high today was only 79 and there was a very strong breeze. It made the house very nice and breezy it was wonderful.

It makes me feel like fall is on it's way. I love fall, it is my favorite time of year, no contest.

In the fall, my favorite thing to do besides cook is bake! So instead of cleaning the bathrooms like I should have been doing, I decided to do some baking!

I baked two new recipes to me, Gingersnap cookies (my favorite since I can't eat chocolate chip anymore) and vinegar cookies, which reminded me of a kind of sugar lace cookie.

Gingersnap Cookies

Vinegar Cookies

I love to bake! Unfortunately I also love to eat them, so I do have to practice self control.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

My New Smoki'n Hot Camera

I have a new toy. Really it isn't just mine, but I will be the one to use it the most. We have been needing a new camera, as you could probably tell from my photos I post on here!

No matter what setting I tried, I simply could not get the photos to turn out very well. That was starting to frustrate me.

So, we decided to bite the bullet and did our research and bought the number one rated camera we could afford. I won't tell you the cost, because I am still in sticker shock over it.

However I will tell you that I have been playing with it and am happy to report that I will be posting many more wonderful photos in the near future.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I love my slow-cooker. I use it all the time for a number of reasons.

I use it for the days that I work, when I want to come home and eat a nice home-cooked meal but don't have all night to fix one.

I use it on the days that we have soccer at the time that I would normally be cooking dinner, that way it is ready when we get home.

I use it to keep from heating up my house in the summer. For me, there is nothing worse than having the oven on in the summer. Especially since the sun shines all afternoon on our kitchen which makes it the warmest room in the house anyway, without the oven on.

I have make spaghetti dishes, pork roasts, beef roasts, whole chickens, sourkraut and sausage, you name it, I have made it.
Most recently I made chicken legs. I added no water, simply placed them on the bottom, covered the lid and cooked. About half way through I covered them in barbeque sauce.

When they were done, they were delicious. I made a couple different vegetables and some rice to go with it and dinner took 10 minutes.

That definately works for me.

This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Back to School

My 3 oldest all went back to school this past week.

My oldest is in 5th grade, which means a new school, one where they switch classes and catch the bus at the break of dawn! My second oldest is in third grade and my youngest daughter is in kindergarten.

That's three different busses, three different pickup times and three different drop off times. And that leaves me a little time alone with my little man.

Here is the before, when they all came down to eat breakfast.

And after they ate and got ready for school.

Where does the time go?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

When Is It Time to Clean the Oven?

I know those that know me are thinking I have some profound reason to clean the oven. But honestly, this is how I knew it was most definitely time to clean it . . . it caught on fire.

Yes, FIRE!

I was making oatmeal cookies last night and it was getting pretty late. I had already made a coffee cake, so I was about ready to call it quits last night. So instead of waiting for each pan of little cookies to bake I decided to make one big cookie.

That would have been a novel idea except for one thing, I neglected to remember that cookies not only rise but spread and increase in size as well. Even my cookies that are egg free. So my large cookie dripped over the side of the pan as it increased in size.

Which led to the cookie dough falling to the bottom of the oven and smoking up the whole house, which still reeks the next day I might add.

So fast forward to tonight, when I heated up the oven to 425 degrees to bake my potatoes for dinner. About half way through the preheating time, my oven literally caught on fire. So I had to turn off the oven and it eventually died down and completely went out in a few seconds, thank goodness. I was standing with my kitchen fire extinguisher just in case though!

That meant my husband had to throw the potatoes on the grill with the chicken, which was still very good.

So, I HAD to clean the oven or else I couldn't use it at all. Not very good for someone that loves to bake.

Instead of using expensive store bought cleaner though (my friends and family know me better than that) I made a paste of baking soda and warm water and it worked wonderfully. I simply scrubbed it in with a rough sponge.

Then I sprayed a solution of 1 part Dawn dish soap to 5 parts water. That got rid of the rest of the gunk.

My sister always jokes that in her house you know when dinner is done when the smoke alarm goes off. But in my house, I know that when my oven is on fire, I know it is time to clean it!

Being able to joke about it definitely works for me.

This post is linked to Works For Me Wednesday.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

New Treasure

See this little gem? My parents bought these used when I was little, I actually think before I was born.

I have inherited it. I need to clean it, repaint it and refinish the wood. I haven't decided if I will paint or stain the wood. But either way, I am super excited to have gotten it from my parents.

I currently have it sitting in my front room as I am not sure where to put it.

Look at all the carvings and graffiti, it has been well used.

Once I decide what to do with it, I will post those photos!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

13 Random Thoughts

My life has been hectic to say the least. So here is a bit of randomness that is bouncing around. Thirteen to be exact.

1. Okay, am I the only one that thinks this piece of toast has a smiley face on it?

2. Yes, that is my son using a piece of corn as a cell phone. He is talking to his peeps.

3. Doesn't everyone wear your sisters slippers, a diaper, sleep shirt and a German hat together? Not everyone can pull this look off you know. And yes, those are the remnants of his breakfast on his face. That is what happens when your sisters get you out of your highchair.

4. This is what the sky looked like the other night. Isn't it beautiful?

5. Little man loves to vacuumm. It isn't plugged in, but he loves it anyway. He is infatuated with the sweeper. Now if I could only teach him to dust.

6. Beautiful flower taken at the Columbus Zoo.

7. Yes, that is my butt. But a much smaller, fit butt. After 30 pounds of weight loss and lots of exercise. Not to toot my own horn. Okay, TOOT TOOT.

8. We made blackened catfish the other night. Turns out we don't reall like catfish, who new?

9. This is what my butt used to look like. I like my new butt. This was only 3 months ago, if you can believe it.

10. This is my oldest and she started select soccer this week.

11. This was her outfit for playing store. She thought this is what you wear to work when you worked at a purse boutique. We played that last week when it rained.

12. She also starts her pottery class this week.

13. I love back to school time, the smell of crayons and new paper. I have always loved this time of year.

This post is linked to Thursday Thirteen.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Where Are My Car Keys?

This is my little stinker. She is cute as can be but can go from being a lovely child to a crazy person who is annoyed with everything in the blink of an eye.

The other morning she was feeling particulary helpful. I was getting ready to leave for work and could not find my car keys. I looked everywhere.

In my car, in the door, my pants pocket from yesterday, my purse, you name it and I looked there. I had finally decided to simply not lock the back door and look again after I came  home from work.

Then my daughter says, "mommy, I put your keys in your bag for you."

I said "what bag monkey?"

"This bag mommy."

Oh, the bag that I never use for work, the diaper bag. Yes, that was helpful. I was super frustrated because it was making me late. But then I had to laugh about it.

I mean, isn't that funny? I was running around like crazy trying to find my keys and she knew where they were all the time.

Being able to laugh about this totally works for me!

This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Homemade Bruschetta

Okay, so a food photographer I am not. However, don't let that stop you from trying this.

One of my newest favorite places is Costco, they have this 4 pack of little bruschetta toasts that are delicious. We have been buying them every time we go.

On one of our trip's up north to our friends house, they had served these with this little topping. I ate so many of them that my stomach hurt! They were so yummy.

I decided to try it myself. This is the recipe that I came up with.

1 fresh tomato, diced
1 fresh onion, diced
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon italian season

Mix all together and serve on the bruschetta toast!

I have served this multiple times at parties and it goes super fast, I usually have to make another batch. This is a great way to use up some tomatoes once they start coming in!

This post is lined to Tasty Tuesday.

Pampering Me!

In February my husband and kids got me a half day of pampering at a local spa. However, everyone knows that with 4 kids, you can barely find time to go to the bathroom by yourself, much less to the spa for 4 hours.

So I was finally able to go last week, only 5 months later.

It was heavenly. First I had an hour massage, then a 30 minute facial, then a manicure and then a pedicure. Each one was better than the other. But my favorite was by far the massage.

I was so relaxed that I didn't want to do anything when I got hom with the kiddos! But of course with 4 kids, I had to kick it into gear fast. Yes the fingernails are painted, just a very light whitish clear. I do not like to paint my fingernails. And 4 days later, even that has been removed, it drives me crazy.

Wow, who's old hands are those? My grandmas?

After seeing the price since I had to tip the people that did these wonderful things, this was definately not a frugal thing. However, I enjoyed it none-the-less.