Monday, January 30, 2012

Final Week in January Menu's

Well this is the final week of the "Pantry Challenge" over on Good Cheap Eats, and I will have to say that it was very successful for me.  My dh and I were spending WAY too much on groceries and I really needed a challenge to get me back into my menu planning and saving money - and I would say that saving about $500 just this month on groceries is a very good incentive to keep 'with the program' in the future. 

In case you are wondering, I am not using coupons to get these savings!  I am trying to incorporate coupons into my shopping, but I have found it has been very difficult to use coupons, at least for us.  I usually shop at Walmart and buy their store brand products instead of name brand products.  Why?  Well, we think the quality is just as good as name brand and the store brand is usually cheaper than the name brand even if I use a coupon.  Now, I know that isn't always the case - and I can't say that I have never used coupons in the past.  I have -usually on coffee or paper products and  toiletries.  Plus, I do watch the sales and my Walmart will price match anything.  So, if I happen to see something that is on sale that we use and I have a coupon for it I will certainly use said coupon.  It's not like I don't TRY to use coupons.   I am sure that there are some that will say I just don't know the secrets to using them, and that is probably true  - but I don't see where they save us any money.

Last week I told you that I was having a terrible time finding the right pizza dough recipe for our Friday night movie nights.  I appreciate the suggestion that I buy the already made pizza dough, but that wasn't the point.  I wanted to make it from scratch - and I'm stubborn enough to keep at it until either I got it right or the cows came home - which ever came first!  Well, persistence pays off!  Friday night I made the best -------


THIN


AND CRISPY

PIZZA!!!

It was fabulous - and dh and I ATE THE WHOLE THING ALL BY OURSELVES!!!!!

(Okay, before you say anything.  I know the pizza pan looks yucky - but it makes the best crust ever- it got soooooo crispy!  And the pan really is clean - it is just well used!)  If you would like to know the recipe for this fabulous dough, let me know in the comments and I'll post it next week!

One more thing before I post this week's menu.  I did 'fall off the wagon' on Wednesday and Thursday night - but I have a really good reason.  Tuesday night I had to take a quick trip to the Emergency Room in the back of an ambulance - so, I was sorta down and out Wednesday and Thursday and didn't cook.  Dh did the cooking, and he didn't stick to the menu plan.  But that's okay - we had some stuff in the house that he could fix in a pinch and we didn't blow the budget by having to go get take out.  (The budget was blown enough by the ambulance and hospital bill - YIKES!!!!)  I'm okay now, I think everything is working out and I'm on the mend - but it sure was a scary night

Now, moving on - Menu for the Week of January 30th through February 5th

                          Monday, January 30 - Chicken Enchilada Casserole
                          Tuesday, January 31 - Black Bean and Sausage Stew
                       Wednesday, February 1 - Lasagna, Salad, Garlic Bread
Thursday, February 2 - Oven Baked Pork Chops, Sweet Potatoes, Green Beans
                           Friday, February 3 - HOMEMADE PIZZA - Movie Night
                       Saturday, February 4 - Hot Dogs, Potato Chips
                               Sunday, February 5 - Chef's Choice

Before I go on to the next month (although part of this week's menu plan is for February) I have to update what I spent on groceries this month.  Usually I spend around $800 for just my dh and I - now that does include all paper products and personal products.  However, this month, with our menu plan I only spent a total of - are you ready????  Okay, here we go - $383.92!!!  We saved over $400 - more than half of our normal monthly budget - NOT TOO SHABBY!!!  If, for no other reason, this is a reason to continue doing menu planning.

Please go check out these fine posts about meal planning - and tell them Carol sent you!  (and if you are dropping by from another site, please let me know, I'm glad you are here and hope you will come back often!) 
  
http://goodcheapeats.com/2012/01/pantry-challenge-finale/

http://orgjunkie.com/2012/01/menu-plan-monday-jan-3012.html

http://beautyandbedlam.com/pantry-challenge-update/
I will be continuing to post my weekly menu's each Monday even though the challenge will be ending this week.  If you are interested in what we are eating in our house - please come on by and check it out!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Rendevous

Alafia River Rendevous  - any of you ever hear of it?  Well, it is a reenactment of a pre-1840's encampment.  Dan wanted to go last year but we were on our cruise (I know, poor us), but with everything that has been going on this year with his health we did not do our January cruise.  That meant we were home for him to go to Rendevous last Friday.

Dan and I had been one other time since they moved the Rendevous to this particular piece of property.  They used to have it outside Bartow or Lake Wales, Florida (to tell the truth, I don't remember exactly where as it was close to 15 years ago), but then the group that sponsers the reenactment bought this huge piece of property on the Alafia River and have had the Rendevous there ever since. 

When we went before it was very interesting, we were able to talk to many different people who were really interested in protraying the frontiersmen/women of the time.  They were very particular about their dress, their camps, what could be seen and used.  The people knew their history.  There were a few vendors, but the majority of the encampment were living historians. 

Dan really enjoyed going and looked forward to being able to go again - he has talked about maybe getting involved with the reenactment group since he loves this time in history.  This somewhat surprises me, as I have always thought that he was more interested in the "mountain man" which would be during the Civil War/post Civil War period - so the post 1840's. 

I have always been interested in the Civil War period and loved going to the reenactment of the Battle of Olustee in North Florida when we lived there about four years ago.  Not only was it interesting to see all the period dress of the reenactors but the reenactment of the actual battle (which was the largest battle fought in the state of Florida) was incredible!


The Battle of Olustee


But I digress - back to Rendevous.  While there were some people who were dressed in period dress, I think that the sponsors were not as stringent as they used to be on the rules.  We saw many items that were plastic in plain site, motorized items, and coolers were very prevelant.
This was one of the "living" areas of the reenactors.  I have to say that some had their campers and motorhomes parked in the distance (hidden in the trees) and IF I ever did participate in a reenactment I would have to have my camper.  I would most certaintly want my comfy bed at night - not a pallet on the hard ground.  I would not make a good pioneer.

This was a shot of the kids looking for a "needle in a haystack".  It seemed to us that the kids were having a great time, but I kept asking myself why weren't they in school?  Of course, I guess they could be homeschooled (which is not a bad thing).  I guess it is just the teacher gene in me - on a school day I just think kids should be in school.  (But once again, they did not have metal roofed building pre 1840 - not authenic.)

The encampment this year was HUGE!  Not so much with the reenactors and their living area but with vendors.  There were "streets" and "streets" of vendors.  I would say that there were at least 6 "streets" that were several "blocks" long and we didn't cover the entire area.  There were only 4 "streets" of living areas and part of those had vendors mixed in. 

Am I being picky - probably.  However, IF you advertise that you are something, in this case a "pre 1840's frontier reenactment" and you have rules posted on your website, then I think you should follow yours stated rules.  I mean, if I were a reactor and I spent good money on a costume (and believe me these costumes are NOT cheap) and then there were other people that were allowed to participate that were not following the rules, I think I would be a little upset.  I don't know, I just think if you choose to participate in an activity like this - you need to follow the customary rules and if you don't you shouldn't participate.  But then that's just me.  If you have a different opinion, that's okay too.

 I think that Dan was somewhat disappointed in the whole experience.  I'm not sure what he expected.   I don't know if what he remembered from the last time we went influenced what he thought about this experience, but I don't think this was anywhere close to what it was.  We were not able to talk to anyone about the time period at all.  Going into the vendor tents was interesting at first, but after the first 5 or so they started to be all the same - the same merchandise over and over again.  We talked about the experience after we got back to the truck and we thought that maybe it had gotten too large.  I think sometimes when things get too big they lose their original purpose.

Of course, part of the problem could have been, Dan tried to do too much too fast.  This was the first time he has been out since his last heart cath and he probably walked about 2 miles without really stopping to rest.  To say he was completly wiped out by the time we got back to the truck would be a major understatement.  However, there was three good things that occured from this little excursion:

1.  Dan was able to go do something that he has been wanting to do for over a year.

2.  He got out and got some much needed exercise (whether he realized it until after the fact or not).

3.  Dan would have made one HECK of a good looking MOUNTAIN MAN!  If you don't believe me - just look below




Dan, Dan the Mountain Man!
  So, what do you think?  Can't you just see him, dressed in buckskins, riding over the Rocky Mountains on his  paint horse with his long rifle, leading his pack horse which is loaded down with furs after spending the long winter trapping?  Yeah, I can too!  (We just need to do something with the glasses!)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Craft "Room"

As many of you know, I love to craft.  Sewing, scrap booking, quilting, painting - just about anything I'll try.  This past Christmas I made many of the presents that were given to our family members - and they ranged from "Movie Night" baskets to glass etched gifts (wine glasses, pie plates, even a trifle dish).  Which leads me to my problem - where do I have a place to craft in our home?


In the past I have been blessed with a dedicated place to call my own for all my crafting supplies.



This picture was taken at the last "sticks and bricks" house we owned in north Florida before we hit the road to become full time RVer's three years ago.  This space was a bonus space above our garage that my darling hubby transformed for me so I would have a dedicated area for all my crafting supplies.



This was the other side of the room.   Plus, in a section that I don't have pictures of was an area that had shelves that was nothing but storage.         I loved it!

Fast forward to today.

We now live in a "smallish" (is there such a word) house at just under 1200 square feet.  I am NOT complaining - it is the perfect size for us now.  There are just some things that I wish I could change - for example, a space for me.

Dan has most of the garage -as shown by previous pictures of the mess our garage is in.  Plus, he has a storage building in our back yard where he keeps the pool and the few yard supplies we need, but most of that space is for all his fishing stuff.  He has a bench that goes the entire length of the storage building that he uses to tie flies on and to do whatever he does when he spends time out there.  I really don't mind - I'm glad he has a space to call his own - even two spaces is okay with me.  He does so much with the woodworking around the house I don't mind the garage space.  However, wouldn't it seem fair that I have a space for me?  I mean, even when I had that wonderful space pictured above, he had the garage - with a workbench and separate desk.

So, what do I have?  Well, I finally found a space for me in the house.  In the only space that I could think of - the guest room closet.  Yep, in the walk-in closet in the guest room.  It's the only space we have that just might work. 

The problem, as I see it now, is trying to get all my STUFF in this small space in a organized way that is usable and pretty.  After milling the problem over and over in my head I just decided to tackle the problem head on last week.



THE CLOSET




First, let me say that I am super embarrassed to let you see this mess.  I am usually very organized ( okay I admit it - I'm OCD)  and to admit that I had this mess - well I'm just mortified.  But, I told you I would be honest.  And this was what the space looked like AFTER I cleaned the top of the desk off (I did that before I remembered I needed to take pictures IF I was going to blog about this mess).  The gray cabinet in the back is FULL - not only of crafting supplies but also office supplies.  (In case you are wondering, the big white box with the picture of a toilet on it - well, it's full of framed pictures of all sizes.  It's the biggest box we could find when we were doing the remodel of the house that would hold all the different sized pictures.  However, I hope to find a new home for these.)

Now, the first step to get all this under control was to empty the space and see exactly what I have to work with.

After the closet was emptied, except for the desk, I took the measurements j to see exactly what I had.   The dimensions of my "craft room" are a "cozy"
4 1/2 feet by 6 feet.


The Space

 
Step one accomplished! 

I decided that I just didn't have room for that big gray cabinet (plus it was just plain UGLY), so it had to go!

Once everything was out, I went though everything and sorted and PURGED.  Then I put things in storage containers and I knew I had to LABEL, LABEL, LABEL.  After I had things organized in containers, bins, and baskets it was time to put everything back.

















While I would love to say that this space will be completly dedicated to my crafting I'm afraid that will not be possible - it is still our guest room closet.  Which means that I will still need to leave space for hanging clothes if it is needed by guests when they come.  However; for the most part, this space is MINE ALL MINE!!!!

Now that I have finished stage two I will be moving on to stage three - which is the most fun.

Decorating!!!!

I have great plans for this stage - it's the part that will make the "room" come alive and become a creative space that I will want to spend time in instead of a white box with all my "stuff" in it.

Stayed tuned - Stage three will be in a future post!

In the meantime I would love to hear from you - what do you think?  Am I on the right track - or do you think I'm completely nuts to be trying to do this?

I'm showing off my project on another blog called Truly Lovely - go on over and check them out and let them know I sent you!
Fancy This

Monday, January 23, 2012

Another Week of menu's



We did really well last week staying with the menu plan - other than switch a few things around due to the doctor's appointments, I cooked everything that I was suppose to - yeah! 

I will have to say that I am still having a problem with Friday night's Pizza.  You see, Dan and I like thin crust pizza and the recipe that I have is a thick crust pizza dough (and I mean - really thick crust!).  It is driving us both up the wall!  I have looked on the Internet for a thin crust recipe, but haven't found the right one yet. 

I can say that Dan has been a really good sport about the whole process and he eats a couple of pieces of the pizza every week - even though this past week it was NOT good pretty awful!  However, I am determined to find the right recipe and make a good homemade pizza

I don't know if part of the problem is we don't have a pizza stone - some of the recipes I find on line says you need one - or if I am using too much yeast.  (The amount of yeast varies so much from recipe to recipe -  plus I have used regular yeast and a yeast that is only suppose to be used for pizza's.)  I'm not sure if I should make the dough a day or two ahead of time and let it "rest" as a couple of recipes say - or just make it the same day as I have been doing.  Do any of you have any ideas about what I am doing wrong or what can I do to make a good pizza?   Or do you have a recipe you would be willing to  share that will make a thin crust pizza?  I am open to any and all suggestions and I'm sure I know that Dan really appreciate it!

The hit of the week was on Thursday night when I fixed Southwestern Taco Pie.  To tell the truth - I had never fixed this before so I wasn't sure how it would be, but I just liked the look of the ingredients and I love Mexican food.  Dan wasn't too sure about it - in fact, when I told him what was for supper he almost turned his nose up at it - which is very unusual for him (the joke around here is "Give it to Dan, Dan will eat anything" taken from the old Life Cereal commercial - remember "Give it to Mikey").  When I put it on the table and we took our first bite, he turned, looked at me and said "This is really good!".   Then, on Sunday - as he is finishing up the leftovers for lunch,  he tells me that "we need to have this more often".  I will post the recipe at the end of the blog, in case you might be interested in trying it yourself.   I think you will be surprised at how easy it is to make and good it is.


Now, let's move on to this week's menu's.

Monday - January 23 -  Tangy Chicken; Baked Potatoes; Broccoli
Tuesday - January 24 - Easy Taco Soup*
Wednesday - January 25 - Meat Loaf; Mashed Potatoes; Honeyed Carrots
Thursday - January 26 - Spaghetti Bake; Salad; Garlic Bread
Friday - January 27 - Movie Night - HOMEMADE PIZZA
Saturday - January 28 - Steak; Baked Potatoes; Salad; Rolls
Sunday - January 29 - Skillet Macaroni & Beef

If you look at the original menu posted at the beginning of the month you will note that there is one change this week.  On Tuesday I have changed the menu from Shrimp Gumbo and Rice to Easy Taco Soup.  Actually, I am still flip-flopping on this one - I'm just not sure which one I want to fix.  I was suppose to fix the Easy Taco Soup the week that I "fell off the wagon" and I really do want to fix it - but I really like the Shrimp Gumbo recipe.  I guess this will be a "game day" decision - whatever I feel like on Tuesday will be what I fix - but I'll let you know.

If you are interested in other menu plans - as stated in my other posts on Monday (and last week on Tuesday) there are a couple of other blogs you might like to check out - they are having a pantry challenge and have many other bloggers showing what they are doing (I'm one of them).  So, if you do happen to check out these other blogs, let them know that I sent you - thanks - and  enjoy!


Now, for that recipe!

Southwestern Taco Pie

1 pound ground beef (I used the ground beef that I had already browned)
1` package Taco Seasoning Mix
1/3 cup water
1 Tablespoon Oil
1 Package frozen green, red, and yellow peppers and onions
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1/2 cup salsa
1 package refrigerated pie crusts, brought to room temperature
8 ounces (2 cups) shredded cheese (recommended Mexican blend)

Garnish:  Sour Cream and Taco Sauce

Preheat Oven to 400 degrees F.

Brown ground beef in large skillet over medium high heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until thoroughly cooked, stirring frequently.  Drain.  Add taco seasoning mix and water, mix until ground beef is well coated.

(If you use ground beef you have already cook - just thaw the beef in refrigerator then put in skillet along with taco seasoning and water, mix until ground beef is well coated and warmed through.)

Meanwhile, heat oil in large saucepan over medium high heat until hot.  Add peppers and onions, cook 4 to 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and drain excess liquid.  Add garlic and onion powders, salt, pepper, corn, and salsa.  Stir well and set aside.

Prepare pie crusts as directed on package for 2-crust pie using 9-inch glass or metal pie pan.

Combine salsa and corn mixture with ground beef; mix well.  Sprinkle 1/2 cup of cheese evenly in bottom of crust-lined pan.  Spread 1/2 beef mixture evenly in pan over cheese, pat down.  Sprinkle 3/4 cup cheese in pan and spread evenly with remaining beef mixture, pat down, top with remaining 3/4 cup cheese.  Top with second crust and flute; slit in several places.

Bake for 30 minutes or until crust in golden brown.  Cover edge of crust with strips of foil or a pie crust shield after 15 minutes of baking.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving.  Store in refrigerator.

Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and drizzle of taco sauce.
(I didn't do this, as Dan does not like sour cream - I just added it to my slice.)

  Sorry I do not have any pictures to go along with the recipe - Dan had eaten it all before I got a chance to take any pictures - I guess that's a good testimony.  If you decide to try it, please let me know how it turns out -I would really be interested in knowing.

Thanks and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Another Test

Well, we had another doctor's appointment today - which led to more tests.  We just don't know what is going on.  The doctor today told us that some of the tests that Dan has had in the past has shown that the out flow from Dan's heart is not regular.  That seems to be the problem. 

The doctor is saying that the irregular heartbeat is a symptom of the heart not having a good outflow, and one test showed that he had a 51% outflow (which is good) but another test showed 37% (which is bad).  So, we had to have another test today called a MUGA.  This is another nuclear test like the stress test that Dan had done a couple of weeks ago but this test just measures the outflow and the strength of the heart muscle.  The doctor told us that if the outflow is 40% or more than we won't hear from his office again (other than to get a report).  If the outflow is less than 40% we will get a phone call for a follow up appointment, so let's all pray for more than a 40% outflow.

I'll keep you updated - but in the meantime, I would appreciate it if you would still keep Dan in your prayers.  Thanks!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Menu's for the week





First of all I'm going to be very honest - I did a horrible job sticking with the menu's last week.  I do mean horrible.  I'm sure part of it had to do with Dan's hospital visit, but I can't put all the blame on that.  I was just tired and did not feel like cooking.  I know that is not much of an excuse, but it's the best I can do.  So, we ate out two days last week - okay, actually three - Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  I guess that shows we all "fall off the wagon" occasionally. 

So, what about this week?  Well, first let me give you the menu for this week.

Sunday - 1-15         Country Ribs; Potato Salad; Baked Beans
Monday - 1-16       Chicken Alfredo; Pasta; Salad
Tuesday - 1-17       Country Vegetable Soup; Cornbread
Wednesday - 1-18  Pepper Steak; Rice; Rolls
Thursday - 1-19      Southwestern Taco Pie
Friday 1-20            MOVIE NIGHT - Homemade Pizza
Saturday 1-21        Hamburger; French Fries

I didn't start out too well - Sunday we ate at my mom's - so we did not have the country ribs (we are saving those for this Sunday).  We did have the Chicken Alfredo last night, but instead of the Country Vegetable Soup tonight I did some switching around.  It is suppose to be cool here tomorrow night and we have to go back to Lakeland to the doctor, so I decided to do the Soup tomorrow night (Wednesday) and cook it in the Crock pot and we had the Pepper Steak tonight (Tuesday).  I'll stick to the plan for the rest of the week - until we get to Sunday the 22nd when we will have the Country Ribs that we were suppose to have on the 15th (I"ll save the Ham and Great Northern Beans for another time - maybe next month).

As I've said before, that is one of the advantages of having the menu plan - you can move things around because you have the things in house to fix whatever you need to.  One of the really wonderful things about this month's menu plan, and really any menu plan, is the money you save when you use it.  Case in point, the first of this month, we went to the grocery store and we spent a little over $239.00 - I have been back to the store once for milk, O.J., cheese, sour cream, and soda - that's it.  Less than $50.00.  That means, so far this month we have spent a little less than $290.00 for groceries.  Not too shabby!

If you are interested in other menu's check out these other sites for some really good sources:  http://orgjunkie.com/2012/01/menu-plan-monday-jan-1612.htmlhttp://beautyandbedlam.com/freezer-checklist/;  http://goodcheapeats.com/2012/01/pantry-challenge-week-2-done-share-your-progress/

How are doing with your menu's this month - are they helping, or have your had your ups and downs too?

Monday, January 16, 2012

We're still here!

I know, I know!  It has been over a week since I have posted, but I do have a reason.  As I explained in my last entry Dan had to go back into the hospital last Wednesday and have another heart catherization.  Well, actually, that turned out very well.  There was no additional blockage that required additional stents and the stent that was inserted in October is doing fine.  So, that was good news.  However; there is still something wrong - and that is the bad news.  We don't know what it is.  So, we will be back at a different doctor this coming Wednesday to see if we can find out what is going on.  Hopefully we will know more about what is going on when we come home on Wednesday night.

Dan is still on "light" duty - he did have a heart cath - so he is not allowed to do a whole lot again for awhile.  I guess we will find out really how long after our visit to this new doctor.  Then he also has another appointment with his cardiologist on the 31st of the month.  It just seems like we have one doctors appointment after another - which is a little hard on someone who only went to the doctor twice a year before this little episode.  Dan is not real happy with the way things are going right now, but when we are talking about your heart I am not going to take any chances.

So, you might be wondering why I did not posted all last week.  Well, I spent the week taking care of Dan and just spending some time with him.  We had some quality time together and my daughter and son in law came over and spent some time with us also.  We even had our movie night on Friday and watched "King's Speech" - which was an excellent movie.  I would highly recommend it IF you haven't seen it yet. 

I did not post the weeks menu's tonight - I'll do that tomorrow because I have some other news that I wanted to share with you and I didn't want to take away from this special, special news.

Melissa and Justin had a sonogram done today and they let me have some pictures of their baby to share with you all.  We did not know what they were having and we did not know that they had gone to Orlando to have this done because they wanted to surprise us.
The sonogram was special for a couple of reason - first, it was a 3D sonogram.  Now, first of all - they didn't have the sonogram technology when I had my girls much less 3D technology.  Second, we know what the gender is - but I'll tell you about that in a few minutes.

This was the 3D sonogram - now, this little one is still really very little - the feet are about an inch long - it is so amazing that they can take pictures that are this detailed this early on.  However, the major reason that the kids wanted to have this done was to find out the gender.  Everyone had their own idea of what gender the baby was - but I think Melissa and Justin were the ones that were the most excited about finding out the gender (which is the way it should be, right?).  Anyway, they had an appointment here in town at the end of the month, but they just didn't want to wait - and the one at the end of the month, Justin couldn't be there.  That would be a major bummer - for the daddy not to be able to be there when they found out what they were having.  However, he was off work today and they could do it together.  They also wanted to do something to surprise all of us. 
So, what they did was email a video that they took during the exam to all of us - Justin's parents, his sister's, Melissa's dad, her sister's and to Dan and I - so, we would all get it at the same time and find out the gender together  (she did call/text us to make sure that we opened the email from her as soon as we got it - so we knew it was coming!).  I have her permission to share the next picture with you. 


So, without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to introduce----------



                                                               Lorelai Alexis Thibodeau!

                                I am one happy grandmother and I can't wait to meet her in person!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Next weeks menu's and Going to the Hospital

This week the menu is already changing for a couple of reasons.  First let me remind you what is on the calendar for this week -
Sunday   1-8  Pork Roast; Roasted Potatoes; Brocolli & Cheese
Monday  1-9  Jambalya & Rice
Tuesday  1-10  Easy Taco Soup
Wednesday 1-11  Wafles & Bacon
Thursday 1-12  Chicken Chimichangas & Spanish Rice
Friday 1-13  MOVIE NIGHT - Pizza
Saturday 1-14  B.B.Q Pork Sandwiches; French Fries; Baked Beans

Well, let's start with today - we are not having a Pork Roast.  Why?  Well, because we have a LOT of left-overs in the refrigerator that we need to be eaten.  So, instead of thawing out a Pork Roast and cooking and having additional leftovers - we are having an "eat out of the refrigerator" feast today, but that also means I will not have the left-overs I thought I would have for the BBQ Pork Sandwiches on Saturday (but I have a plan).  Also, as I will discuss a little more later, we will not be home Wednesday night - so I will not be cooking Waffles & Bacon - sooooo, my new plan is is to do the Waffles and Bacon on Saturday night.  (See the advantages of the menu?)  Also, IF we have a lot of left over's from the week- say of the Taco Soup - we might have them instead and put off the Waffles for another night later in the month when I don't feel like cooking a lot.  That is one of the things I like about doing the menu's - I have the ability of moving things around to fit our schedule (or how I feel) and not worry about not having what I need to fix it in the house when I want to.

Now, why will we not be home Wednesday night?  Well, Dan has to go back into the hospital and have another heart catherization.  The tests that he had last week showed that either:  1. he has more blockage, or 2. his stent has collasped.  We are hoping (and praying) that this is all that it is and he will not require heart surgery.  While the heart cath is not something to take for granted - it could be so much worse.  So,  he is scheduled to have it done on Wednesday and we will have to spend Wednesday night at the hospital - hopefully, only the one night.  I am not sure what time we have to be there yet - the hospital is suppose to call us Tuesday to let us know when to be at the hospital.

Mom will be here to take care of the pups - so we don't have to worry about that and Melissa and Justin will be around to check in with mom. (Two things that I don't have to worry about for the night.)  To say that Dan is not exactly the happiest of campers would be a major understatement (guess I really should not use that analogy since one of the reasons he is not happy right now is - we are not able to use the camper  for awhile - we STILL have not been able to make any trips with it since we purchased it in October), but I would rather do what we need to do and make sure he is okay before we go anywhere.  So - if that means putting off camping for awhile than so be it.  He is not happy about not being able to do anything for a month to six weeks - but that's okay.  Not the first time he has been unhappy about something - he'll get over it and we WILL do whatever it takes - whether he likes it or not.  (Sometimes a wife just has to put her foot down - right ladies?)

So, I will try and post again on Tuesday before we go to the hospital, but if you don't hear from me for a couple of days - please understand.  Keep checking back and stay with me.  Life sometimes throws us some curve balls - you just have to go with them.  It just seems like lately - those balls are coming at a faster pace!

Finally I would like to say - Thanks for your kind words and understanding as I put a little more emphasis on "the home front" instead of the blog for a little while.  We would appreciate your prayers as we go through this procedure next week.  While we have had it done before there is still some danger and prayers are always appreciated.  Thanks again and God bless.

Carol

P.S.  If you would like to see a few other menu ideas please check out http://orgjunkie.com/blog , http://beautyandbedlam.com/pantry-and-freezer-challenge/ or http://goodcheapeats.com/.  Thanks!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

More Doctor's Appointments

Today we spent all day at Watson Clinic in Lakeland for Dan to complete his nuclear stress tests.  These tests lasted 5 hours with breaks between three different sessions.  On two on the sessions Dan had to have MRI's done and he is extremely claustros afraid of closed in spaces and I was not sure if he would be able to do these tests.

If anyone remembers when he was in the hospital a couple of years ago he literally came out of one of  the MRI machines and refused to have the test run.  Let me tell you - it was NOT a pleasant experience for anyone involved.  I was hoping that we would not have a repeat of this episode.  The first set of scans was not a problem - I was able to go into the room with Dan and I stood beside him and read to him while the test was going on.  This worked well and Dan did not have any difficulties.  However, the next scan the tech told me I could not go back with him.  I explained that he would not be able to complete the scan if I was not in the room - well, she was insistent that I not go back so I went back and sat down.  About five minutes later she came back out to the waiting room and got me - she said that Dan required me and that it would okay for me to go back with him.  (He told me later that he told them I either came back there or that machine was going through the wall!)  There was no question when they called him back for the last session.

After we left Dan was so relieved that the whole thing was over and he was hungry - so we decided to take a step back in time and go to an "old" new pizza place in Lakeland called JBurns.  This place used to be 'the' pizza spot in the late 60's and early 70's in Lakeland but it closed around 72 or 73.  However, a friend of mine, in Lakeland, sent me a link to a newspaper article a couple of weeks ago which stated that the original owner of JBurns was opening a new pizza place on January 1st.  Well, we (or I should say, Dan) decided that we would take a chance a try and see if we could recapture a taste of the past.

Well, we were able to find the pizza parlour with no problems and there were plenty of cars in the parking lot - always a good sign.  When we walked up to order we only had two choices of sizes - personal and 12" - so we chose the 12" Meat Lovers.  The pizza was somewhat expensive to our way of thinking at almost $20.00 for the pizza and one coke - I'm drinking water, but we don't get up that way to eat that often and it was a step into the past.  We sat down to wait for our pizza - well, twenty minutes later, we still don't have our food.  A "waitress" (the girl that walked around and cleaned the tables) walked over and asked if everything was okay and we just said "Yes, but we were still waiting for our pizza."  She went over to check and see how long it would be - and, guess what, they had not even made our pizza!  Seems like they were having some trouble with some of their equipment and our order was never given to the guys that make the pizza.  The owner came over to us and apologized - gave us a coupon for a free pizza and told us he would either give us our money back and we could still have the coupon or he would fix us the pizza and it would be ready in 10 minutes.  Dan wanted the pizza.  Well, to say that we got a little extra attention would be an understatement - the owner delivered the pizza to us after letting us know several times in the 10 minute period how much longer it would be.  He even brought us metal forks to eat with!  The pizza was EXCELLENT and I would recommend them - just give them a couple of weeks to get the kinks worked out!  We would go there again even if we didn't have a coupon for a free pizza!

We drove back home and everything was going well - until I looked at my phone at a little after five and saw that we had a phone message.  It was from Watson Clinic with results from his tests and they want us to call tomorrow.  Now, we worry again - I know that it is silly to worry about something that we can't control - but until I know what is going on I will worry.  Will I say something to Dan that I am worried - nope.  Why?  Because he is worried too, and I don't want him to worry about me being worried.  I know that the stenth is not doing everything that needs to be done with his heart and we are both worried that he is going to have to have heart surgery.  However, we will do whatever we have to do!  I just have to remember - one step at a time!  We'll find out tomorrow.

How do you handle when you are worried about someone in your family's health?  Do you let them know you are worried or do you hold it in and just worry yourself and hold their hand?  Are you the type that want to know everything or are you better being kept in the dark and telling the doctor "just do what you have to do"?  In case you are wondering - I am the "tell me everything" type person - I want to know it all!  Okay - well, it may be a little hairy around here so, if you are so inclined, I could use a friendly shout out!  I look forward to hearing from you!

Monday, January 2, 2012

January Menu's

Yesterday I told you that one of my goals for this new year was to be more financially responsible.  One of the ways that I am going to attempt to do this is start back with my monthly menu's like I used to do when my children where small (and I was newly divorced and pinching pennies) and when Dan and I first retired (and I needed to pinch pennies). 

Do you see a pattern here?  I do.  If you will allow - let me regress for just a minute.  When my children were small and I was newly divorced from their father, I was also a brand new teacher and on a new teacher salary.  I had just bought a new house, on my own, and I was on a really tight budget.  So, I started doing a monthly menu plan because, as a teacher, we were paid once a month.  It worked for me then and I kept doing for about six or seven years.  By then I had started making a little more money and I didn't "feel the pinch" so much.  Then about three years after that Dan and I were married and the monthly menu plan went completely away.

In 2003 Dan and I retired.  While Dan had been with the school system for thirty three and a half years,  I took an early retirement and therefore my retirement check is NOT very much.  Right after we retired we moved to North Carolina and Dan was not receiving Social Security yet - so we were living on our two retirement checks (which really meant we were living on Dan's check because my check was enough to pay for our health insurance).  So, once again, I started to do the monthly menu's as a way to pinch pennies, because once again, we were only paid once a month. Well, that lasted until I went back to work in the Real Estate field and started to make some money plus Dan started to draw his Social Security check.  Then, once again, I quit doing the menu's once we weren't "feeling the pinch", plus I didn't think I 'had the time' with all the time I was putting in at work.

Fast forward to 2012 - and we are "feeling the pinch" again.  I am not working - again.  The economy is not that great (well, can we all say "duh!"), and we have some added expenses that we were not expecting.  So - the good ole monthly menu idea has come back.  Now, you might wonder why I am going to do a Monthly menu plan instead a weekly plan - and that is a very good question, and I have several very good answers for you.  First is the time factor.  It takes just a little while longer to plan for a month than for a week at the beginning of the month - but then you don't have to worry about it again for the whole month.  So, to me, it saves me time.  Second - you are not tied to a certain thing.  For example, if I had Pepper Steak planned for tonight but I didn't want to fix Pepper Steak (or, we had unexpected company), I could look at another day of the month - say where I have planned Spaghetti that will feed more people - and fix that instead.  I have what I need in the house because I have it planned for the month - and I'll just fix the Pepper Steak on the day I had originally planned the Spaghetti - in other words - the menu is not rigid or "written in stone".  It just gives me guidance and I don't have to try and figure out what I'm going to do every day - just look at the calandar.

Which brings me to another point - the format for the menu.  I print out a blank monthly calandar from my computer and use it for the menu -

I also write in pencil - that way you can change your mind as you are planning.  (Just saying).

I don't think that you can read the menu above so what I will do today is give you the monthly menu by day - then each week, if anyone would like, I'll go back and give you any recipes you would like to have for that week.  If you would like to let me know how you think that will work, or let me know of any recipe you would like in the comments, I'll give it to you on the Monday of the week that I have it planned. 

Now, here is the menu's for the month of January:

1st - Pork Chops, Greens, Black-eyed peas; Rice; and Cornbread
2nd - Chicken & Yellow Rice* w/Green Peas; Salad
3rd - Chili & Crackers
4th - Dan's Doctor's Appt. in Lakeland (eat out)
5th - Roast Chicken; Stuffing; Green Beans; Biscuits
6th - Movie Night - HOMEMADE PIZZA
7th - Chicken Burritos *; Refried Beans
8th - Crop Pot Pork Roast; Roasted Potatoes; Broccoli & Cheese
9th - Jambalaya & Rice
10th - Easy Taco Soup
11th - Waffles & Bacon
12th - Chicken Chimichangas; Spanish Rice
13th - Movie Night - HOMEMADE PIZZA
14th - B.B.Q Pork Sandwiches *; Baked Beans; French Fries
15th - County Ribs; Potato Salad; Baked Beans*
16th - Chicken Alfredo; Pasta; Salad
17th - Crock Pot Country Vegetable Soup; Cornbread
18th - Pepper Steak; Rice
19th - Southwestern Taco Pie
20th - Movie Night - HOMEMADE PIZZA
21st - Hamburgers ; French Fries
22nd - Ham; Great Northern Beans' Cornbread
23rd - Tangy Chicken; Mashed Potatoes; Broccoli
24th - Crock Pot Shrimp Gumbo; Rice
25th - Meat Loaf; Mashed Potatoes; Honey Carrots
26th - Spaghetti Bake; Garlic Bread
27th - Movie Night - HOMEMADE PIZZA
28th - Steak; Baked Potatoes; Salad; Rolls
29th - Skillet Macaroni & Beef
30th - Chicken Enchilada Casserole
31st - Crock Pot Black Bean & Sausage Stew

            (* - left overs)

Hope you enjoy and will get some ideas for my menu plan.  If you would like some other ideas for monthly menus there are lots of other sites that are also doing menu plans - a couple that I like are www.orgjunkie.com/blog  or http://www.goodcheapeats.com/.  Check them out for some other ideas.

I would be interested in knowing if you plan your menus for the week or month - or are you a "fly by the seat of your pants" kind of cook?   Also, let me know what you think of this idea of the menu plan - do you like it, or would you rather I not post it every month.  Please let me know - I really would like to know!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

No Resolutions For Me


       Watch The Ball Dro Times Square


Everywhere you look you see people making and talking about their New Year's Resolutions - and everyone asking "What are your resolutions?" or "So, how are your resolutions going?".  Well, I've got news for them - I'm not making any resolutions, and I'm really sorta tired of all the televisions "know it all's" telling you (meaning me) what you (meaning me) should be doing with your (meaning my) life.  You do know what I mean don't you?  Everyday you hear  "You should be eating this instead of that" or "You should be doing this type of exercise instead of that".  Well, I know I probably should be eating this instead of that and that I should be doing some type of exercise but all these "experts" on television, newspapers, and magazines telling me what "I should be doing" is not going to push me in the direction that these "experts" think I need to be going in. 

Does that mean I'm just going to muddle along on the same little road that I have been on all last year?  Well, actually, no.  I realize that, with the beginning of a new year you (meaning me) have a chance to make some changes in the way you (meaning me) do things.  A new year brings a psychological idea that we can start fresh - whether that is with the way you (meaning me) decorate your house or the way you (meaning me) conduct your (meaning my) life.  I have already told you, in a previous post, that we (meaning Dan and I)  have put away all the end of the year decorations - and that means Fall, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  The house is now clean and pared down - it is a fresh start on the new year.

So, if I make a fresh start on the new year in my decorating, why would I not make a fresh start in other areas of my life.  I think that the beginning of a new year is a good time to take stock of how things are going - looking to see what is working and what isn't.  And I think it is a good time to change the things that aren't working for you anymore. 

However, I don't believe in resolutions - resolutions get broken.  Usually within the first month (or week) of making them.  So, what am I going to do?  Well, I am going to have two goals this year - and they are very broad goals.  Which means that they can encompass a lot of smaller things.  They have to do with things that I feel I need to get a better handle on - or that I have not done a good job of being on top of in the  past year or so.  I am hoping that by making these two goals - and yes, I have actually talked to Dan about them already, so he knows about my goals - although I have to say they are MY goals and NOT Dan's- and that I hope I will be able to make some significant changes that will affect our life in a positive manner.  However, since they are MY goals it will be MY responsibility to make the changes.

So, what are these lofty goals?  Not that different than probably many of you - maybe just worded in a different way.

      1.   Be financially more responsible

      2.   Be more family orientated

What does that mean?  Well, I'll give you just a couple of examples.  For #1 - make menu's and use coupons (which will mean not wasting money at the grocery store).  That's just one way.  For #2 - not be late with birthday cards that are mailed to family members.  I know that sounds pretty petty as a goal, but I have been horrible about that in the last couple of years and I want that to change this year.

I will explain more as the year progresses, but I don't want to get too bogged down with the details right now - I have ideas of how to integrate these goals into our everyday life and the examples I gave you are not the only things that I have in mind, but I can't tell you everything all at once.  It will make for some interesting posts in the new year - so I hope you will stayed tuned to see what I do and how these goals go.

How about you guys out there - do you make New Years Resolutions?  If so, how are you at keeping them?  Are you making any this year?  I would love to know if you would like to share.  In any case - whether you make resolutions or not - and if you keep them or not - I wish you all a very HAPPY NEW YEAR!
                                 8 10 Adorable Pictures of Baby New Year

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