Names have been changed to protect the innocent...and my husband...and me...but not the dog. His name is Dexter.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Form Is Totally Following Function Today

Wanting a little unsolicited design advice?  Well head on over to Mormon Mommy Blogs and check out my latest post on interior design.  It will be well worth that click of your mouse.  Hopefully. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tip Tuesday-Dinner Time!

It's Tip Tuesday time again and tonight I have to make dinner.  Oh wait.  I make dinner every night.  That's a lot of nights, my friends.  And a lot of dinners.  There are (rare) times when I like to make big, elaborate meals.  But those times are few and far between.  With all the crazy floating around here, I just don't have the fortitude for big meals on most nights.  And in the summer, I'm even less inclined to cook dinner.  I like easy and healthy.  And I like ideas.  Right now, I'm desperate for ideas for dinners because my family actually likes to eat dinner EVERY NIGHT.  Pshaw.  So demanding. 

Because I am such a generous person, I'm going to share a few of my recent favorite easy recipes with you.  And then you can share with me some of your favorite easy recipes.  Then we'll all make dinner and the world will be a happy place! 

French Bread Pizza!  So yummy and so very easy.  All you need is a loaf of french bread, some pizza sauce, cheese and whatever topping you want to use.  Or you could just go with cheese.  I've also tried this with garlic bread (it was on sale and I was feeling adventurous).  For the garlic bread pizza I didn't add any sauce and added cheese and toppings as usual.  SO good.  Especially if you love garlic bread like I do.  I usually serve it with salad or **edemame or some fruit to make it a well rounded meal. 

**Side note: LOVE edamame!  We buy it in bulk in the microwaveable packets so it's super easy to make and the kids love it.  And soy beans are so healthy.  It's like a healthy toy since they play with the shells.

Scrambled Hamburger is also a crowd pleaser and comes together quickly.  You can find that recipe right here

I just recently tried making Crisp Bean Burritos.  The recipe was shared by the lovely Stephanie of The Daily Blarg and my girls really love this one too. 

And for a quick dessert or lunch box treat, I HIGHLY recommend these Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies.  They are so easy to make and super yummy. Seriously, baking something yummy can not possibly get any easier than this.

And now it's your turn.  Tell me....what's for dinner at your house?  And can we come over? 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Hoppy Easter!

We had an eggsellent time celebrating Easter this year.  And now I feel it is my duty to share it all with you.  Using a gazillion pictures.

We decorated eggs of course.  But that is a "no clothing required" kind of activity so I'll just show you the eggs.  Ta Da!
The Easter Bunny was good to us this year.
The Easter Bunny even spoiled CG and Dexter a little bit.

After church we headed over to Grandma and Papa Van's house for The Hunt.  Here are a few of the cousins comparing their haul.
Sneak peeks of their beautiful Easter dresses.  Hard to see but SO beautiful.

Attempting to get one picture with all the cousins looking at the camera AND smiling.  Not sure that happened but we still got some good pictures.
And the release of the cousins so they can get back to the good stuff!
We're big fans of the Easter Bunny.
And, yes, that picture is totally going on Facebook. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lolly's Gift

Lolly made her teacher a special gift this year and has been so thrilled.  So of course I have to share it with you. 

Here are the supplies you need:
a wooden apple cut out (although this would work with whatever shape)
red paint
green paint
Modge Podge
red glitter

I bought the wooden apple at a local woodworking store for only $.99.  There are lots of variety so you could change this particular craft to fit your specific needs.

First of all paint your apple.
Lolly did the painting herself.  Technically, I painted the stem.  But she did the rest herself.  She did an amazing job.  My cute little crafty girl.

Then you Modge Podge one side of the apple and dip it in glitter.  I just poured the glitter in a plate so we could place the apple on an even pile of glitter.  Because we need our glitter even and thorough.  Then, you do the same on the other side. 


Nothing says love from Lolly like red glitter!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Recipe Swap Wednesday-Taco Soup

Everyone loves a good bowl of taco soup.  It's yummy, easy, relatively healthy and crock pot friendly.  I got a recipe for taco soup from my sister in law when CG and I got married and it's slowly evolved into the recipe that I'm going to share with you today.  This particular recipe is a perfect fit for a 3 quart slow cooker. 

Taco Soup
1 pound cooked ground beef or chicken
1 onion, chopped
1 can kidney beans
1 can black beans
1 can corn
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato soup
1 can vegetable soup
1 cup salsa
1.5 teaspoons taco seasoning

Combine all ingredients and cook on high in the slow cooker for at least 1 hour.  Serve with corn chips, grated cheese and sour cream as desired.

Now...multiply this by 6 and that's what I'm making for our luncheon this week.  I'm so glad this is such an easy recipe.  Long live the crock pot!!!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Teacher Appreciation!

I may have mentioned a time or two in recent history that I'm kinda in charge of Teacher Appreciation at Lolly's school.  Yep.  They are that desperate.  So here we are.  Teacher Appreciation Week.  And I'm going to celebrate it in true blog fashion...too much detail and lots of pictures!

First of all, we had Aid/Assistant Appreciation Week last week.  There are 46 aids/assistants at our school.  Each and every one of them got this little thank you...
That lovely bottle of lotion was made affordable by the fabulous online store All Things Good Store.  See that little ad over there?  On the right?  With the sunflower and chickens?  Yep, that store.  This particular lotion came in a set of 6 different scents and are wonderful.  They also got donuts.

And this week.  It's the big week of appreciation for the teachers.  First up was a cute set of note cards for each teacher that I didn't happen to get a picture of.  But we can all imagine. 

Today we were lucky enough to receive a generous donation from the lovely ladies at RubySnap.  They have THE BEST COOKIES EVER!  They are a wonderful local company and they give back to their community.  Does it get any better?!  So head on over them and get some of those cookies.  You know you want their cookies!  770 South 300 West in Salt Lake City. 
Wednesday is "Student Day" where the kids bring in their notes, pictures or small gifts.  And they're supposed to wear their teacher's favorite color.  Frankly, I don't know if that's going to work, but I had to try.  And Lolly will be wearing pink for her teacher tomorrow.  All pink.  Every last item of clothing will be pink.  Because we know how to celebrate around here!

Thursday....Thursday.  I'm trying not to think about it too much or I'll get nervous.  We're treating the teachers to lunch.  I'll be making 3 crock pots...3 large crock pots....of taco soup.  But don't worry.  I'll share the recipe with you tomorrow.  And several committee members are bringing in salads and desserts.  Of course, I really shouldn't worry because the rolls?  They are coming from Golden Corral.  Whether or not you're a fan of buffets, it is a widely known fact that Golden Corral has the best rolls EVER and they were nice enough to donate them for our teacher luncheon.

Friday is the fun day.  And what says fun better than ice cream?!  I'll tell you...nothing!  We're having an after school ice cream party.  And not just any old ice cream party.  An ice cream party with cool gifts to raffle off for the teachers.  Gifts that include some wonderful lotion and soap sets compliments of Kristen Bowen Studio.  These smell so absolutely divine that it will take all of my self control to give them away.  They are amazing.  I'm currently saving my pennies so I can buy the DVD/workbooks for lotion and soap making.  It is that good.  We also got a gift card that Kneader's was nice enough to donate. And they're all getting a super cool star fish key chain that comes with the story about the girl on the beach who keeps throwing back the stranded star fish because it makes a difference to that one.  It's a good person can make a difference.  And the combined effort of our teachers is making a huge difference.

A lot of people have asked how I've managed to do it with a less than big budget.  And now you know.  The generosity of successful local businesses have made it possible to have such a great Teacher Appreciation Week.

And let's not forget the grand finale.  In order to help me recover from Teacher Appreciation chaos, CG has generously donated a spa gift certificate and free babysitting so that I can go.  During the day!  Like I said, the generosity of others makes it all possible. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Tip Tuesday-Grocery Smarts

As I've shared before, I was trying to feed my family of four for under $200.  We did okay at first, but then I found that our food storage was going down and not being replenished.  So I increased our monthly grocery budget to $250 a month.

Truth be told.....I'm struggling.  A lot. 
If we ate mainly pasta and processed foods, I could probably make it work pretty easily.  But I'm trying to feed my family the healthiest, most well rounded diet that we can manage.  In case you didn't know, fresh fruit and vegetables are expensive in the winter.  And if you forget about them, they go bad even in the fridge. **sigh**  But I cleaned out my fridge a while back so hopefully that will help with that. 

I have found that for the $200-$250 budget to really work, I need to do the coupon thing.  It does help, but not on everything.  I've tried using the Grocery Smarts website, but haven't spent much time figuring it all out.  Another thing to add to my to do list. **and another sigh**

But today we're not going to dwell on my failures as a grocery shopper.  Instead, we are going to focus on a few little tips that make it easier to cook dinner and hopefully less expensive.  Because I'm such a positive person and all. 

First of all, I shop the ads whenever possible.  When I find certain products on a really good sale, I try to stock up.  Especially things like meat.  It's not such a great idea for fresh fruits or veggies.  Because of the aforementioned "going bad in the fridge" reason.  Also, cereal is a great item to stock up on.  You can frequently combine a coupon with a great sale price and pay less than $2.00 a box.  And it's a lot harder for cereal to go bad.  I have managed to do that, but it's more of a challenge. 

This next tip isn't so much of a money saver as it is a time saver.  When ground beef goes on sale, it's often for a large package.  Sometimes it's called a "chub".  Which makes me laugh and make jokes at the ground beef's expense.  One option is to divide it raw, assuming that it comes in a format that makes this reasonable.  OR you can cook it all up at once.  I then divide it into freezer bags in one pound (or so) divisions.  The wonderful thing about this is that when it's time for dinner, I just pull some out of the freezer, run the bag under warm water until it loosens and pop it into a frying pan.  Frozen.  I add the seasoning and some water and it defrosts, "cooks" and seasons all at once.  It's a huge time saver and makes dinner time so much easier.  Which is nice because by dinner, I'm tired and the kids are tired and a fast dinner is the only thing that will save us from the deliciously enticing drive thru.  Or a breakdown.

The one thing that has really helped me to become more aware of our grocery budget and how quickly it's depleting is by using cash.  You have probably all heard of the envelope method for budgeting and, although I don't think it's very realistic for your entire budget, it has worked well for our grocery budget.  We've also used it for the eating out budget and entertainment budget.

I also make a pretty specific list and stick to it.  That's the hardest part.  Learning to stick to the list.  Which is hard when you've had a rough week and you really need some sort of food related coping mechanism.  Not that I ever do that....ahem......

I also hear that avoiding Costco at all costs is really good for the budget as well.  Thankfully, I don't have a Costco card and only go when I coerce my sister into taking me so I can get clothes for my girls.  And mango salsa.  

Now, my bloggy friends, it's your turn.  Clearly, I'm needing some of your tips for staying on a budget.  Or fun stories about completely blowing your grocery budget.  Or you can just tell me I'm pretty.  I'm not too picky.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Charity Sale Ticket Winner!

And the winner of the pre-sale ticket for the Hilltop United Methodist Church charity sale is....

Drum roll please.....

Marsha!  She said "This sounds like a great idea.  I would love to go!"

Get your shopping shoes ready Marsha and check your mail for your pre-sale ticket!

And don't forget to head to this great event this Friday and Saturday. 

985 East 10600 South
Sandy, UT  84093

Friday, April 8, 9 am- 8 pm - No strollers before noon due to crowds

Saturday, April 9, 8 am – 2 pm - Clothes & shoes an extra 25% off on Sat.
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