Monday, April 30, 2012

Weekly Meal Plan (4/30-5/6)

We've been meal planning for awhile, but since I'm at home all the time now I've recently started planning for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner... every week. I love planning out our meals. It's great to have a home cooked meal every night and it's been great for our budget. (Dave Ramsey would be proud)! I'm going to try to start posting our weekly meal plans along with my grocery costs and recipes... let's hope I can stick to it.
This week (April 30th - May 6th):
Monday: Breakfast: Biscuit & Gravy, Lunch: ABCs, 123s, Dinner: BLTs
Tuesday: Breakfast: Eggo & Fruit, Lunch: Chicken nuggets & smoothies, Dinner: Party Chicken & Okra
Wednesday: Breakfast: Banana Muffins, Lunch: Mac & Cheese & fruit, Dinner: Pizza Casserole
Thursday: Breakfast: Toast & Scrambled Egg, Lunch: Ham & Cheese Sandwich, Dinner: Southwest Chicken Skillet
Friday: Breakfast: Oatmeal & Toast, Lunch: Fish Sticks & Fruit, Dinner: Grilled Pork Chops & Grilled Cabbage
Saturday: Breakfast: Pancakes & Fruit, Lunch: Church Yard Sale (having food there), Dinner: Chili Dogs, Ben's choice ;)
Sunday: Breakfast: French Toast Casserole, Lunch: Slow Cooker Chicken & Rice (I use my slow cooker at least once a week, usually on Sundays), Dinner: Left-overs. 
(I will try to post the recipe for the party chicken tomorrow. This will be our first time to have it, but it sounds amazing!)

I am getting back into my couponing kick, but this week I didn't use any coupons and I went to Save-A-Lot and spent $60.69. I've also been going to Save-A-Lot for awhile and while they don't carry everything that I like to use, they usually do have a really good selection of meats. I pretty much hate all things Wal-Mart, but those of you who also live in Mayberry it's really the only other place to shop. Thankfully I only had to go to Save-A-Lot this week. I've also started using this grocery list. I love it because it has absolutely everything on it. If you also meal plan, I'd love to hear what recipes you use or how you plan out all your meals. I've found a couple blogs of moms who meal plan by the month! Yes, you read that right, by the month! I don't think I could ever do that, but I definitely admire their efforts. If you don't meal plan, give it a try. We really love it. It's nice to know what we're eating and it's really nice to have a plan when you go to the grocery store instead of just buying random stuff. I hope this gives you a jumping off point.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

No Boil Laundry Detergent

So last week I did a post on DIY laundry detergent. Since then I've used my detergent, which I like, but I don't love. When you boil the soap and actually use your product, it's really thick. I usually have to add a little bit of extra water and then it pours out and it's clumpy... it gets my clothes clean, but it's just not my most favorite thing. So when I posted my recipe on Facebook I had a friend comment that she doesn't boil her soap, she just mixes up the ingredients and uses it as powder. I don't know why I didn't just think of that. lol. She also said she uses any kind of bar soap. As long as it doesn't say "Beauty Bar" on the label, you can use it. You want the label to read "Bar Soap." So today, here is my new and revised DIY Laundry Detergent and I'm in love with it!
As The Pioneer Woman would say, here's the cast of characters: Washing Soda, Borax and this time (instead of Fels-Naptha soap) I used Softsoap Honeysuckle and Orange bar soap. It smells soooo good.
1. Grate your soap.
2. Measure and pour 1 cup each of Borax and Washing Soda, add to your grated soap.
3. Mix together.
4. Store in air tight container. Use 1-2 tablespoons per load.

I've washed a few loads with my new detergent and I love it. I love the way it smells and I love that it's not all clumpy and gross and it only takes about ten minutes to make up. It's so easy. I hope you try it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Modern Day Farmers

I guess we've officially went off the deep end...
because we are now proud owners of ten baby chicks.
They are so stinking cute!!
I'm not sure how this whole chicken idea came about, but the other night we were talking  about fresh eggs and then somehow we got the bright idea that we should get some chickens, so we did. I love our little chicks.

These two seem to think they're pretty cute too. Since I'm now a stay at home mom, we've found little ways to save money and I'm not going to say that getting these chicks will save us a ton of money, they may actually cost us money, but I love being able to raise them and call them our own and teach the kids a little about "farming."
And little Miss here who's usually scared of EVERYTHING thinks they're the greatest things ever! She loves her little chickens. She says, "Mommy you wanna go see my chickens?" It's so cute. So hopefully in a few months we'll start having some fresh eggs and enjoy the fruits of our labor. :-)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Parties and Play Dates

The past couple weekends have been busy for us. Last weekend we had Chloe's birthday party at YaYa's. She turned two.
Owen and Olivia both LOVE YaYa's.
Today, we had Jack's birthday party. He also turned two. He had his party at Mike Miller Park and it was so nice! I had never been there, but we loved the park.
Here's Olivia and the birthday boy.
He had a Mickey Mouse themed party. These cupcakes were so cute!
Since Ben had to work today, my mom came along with us.
Before we had cupcakes, we went down to the water and fed the ducks.
Owen liked the ducks.
We also played a little bit.
After we left the party, Corrie and Keeli came over for a play date. I told Olivia they were coming over and she said, "Oh boy! Yippee! I can't wait!!" lol! I don't know where she picks up this stuff.
I think Keeli and Owen were happy to see each other. :-)
They're so cute with each other.

We've had a great day catching up and playing with all of our friends. I hope you're having a great weekend, we sure are!

Friday, April 13, 2012


I want to start off this post by saying how truly thankful I am that I serve such an AMAZING God!!! Ben works part time at the hospital. Well, he hasn't worked all week, so last night I told him, "I really wish you could work one day this week because then you would have a regular paycheck" (one I've already budgeted for). It wasn't five minutes after I said that, that he received a text message asking him if he wanted to work today!!! What Ben didn't know was that earlier I had prayed over our finances and told God that He knew what we needed and sure enough, HE SUPPLIED OUR NEEDS!!!! Like I said in my last post, God will supply ALL our needs according to His riches in Glory!!! I'm so thankful and so blessed!!!
Nevertheless, I guess this all ties into my post because I wanted to post about our Easter.
We had such a great Easter. The kids had so much fun hunting eggs and I was so proud of my church kids for their performance at church. It was really a great day!! I enjoyed being able to spend Sunday celebrating the resurrection of my Savior, Jesus Christ!!! He's so awesome, I really can't say that enough. :) Since we were all decked out in our Easter duds we decided to take some family pics.
Here's all of us, well except for Owen, cheesing it up. lol! We were all saying, "CHEESE"!
Here's little Miss and little Mister. One of my friends on Facebook commented and said, "look there's Ben and Amanda." lol! I think she's right, except their hair looks extremely red in this picture. It's actually strawberry blond.
After our morning service, we came back to church at 4:00 for our Easter egg hunt.
Little Miss loved hunting all the eggs. She actually did pretty good. She'd run and pick them up and put them in her basket and then she'd go off to the next one.
Owen on the other hand, he didn't quite seem to get the concept.
He just wanted to play in the grass. :)

I enjoyed all of our festivities at church, but most of all I enjoyed spending time with my family and celebrating the One who gave it all for me. I hope you had a wonderful Easter and remember that it's not about a Bunny or eggs or even Peeps, but we celebrate the resurrection of our Savior, Jesus!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Thrifty Thursday

It seems like all the rage these days is how to save money. Most people I know have taken a look at their spending habits and are not happy so they're making changes and trying to be a little more "frugal or thrifty". In my opinion, no matter the wording it all means the same thing... being economical. With the downturn in the economy, for some it's been a necessity, for others it's just being wise. I'm hoping to incorporate my "wise, thrifty, frugal ideas/purchases" on my new series Thrifty Thursday. 
This week I'm going to share a recipe for my DIY laundry detergent.
It's no secret that I'm addicted to Pinterest! I searched Pinterest high and low and came across several recipes for DIY laundry detergent. However, most recipes called for 5 gallon buckets and made up HUGE batches. Since it was my first time to make my own detergent I really didn't want all the hassle of dealing with so much detergent just in case I didn't like it. Then I happened to stumble across this blog One Good Thing by Jillee. This lady is amazing.. like seriously, my new hero. She's a recovering alcoholic and has become a little Suzie Homemaker in the process... Check out her blog!! Seriously, you'll be wowed! Anyways, this is where I found my recipe.
Ingredients: Fel-Naptha Soap, Borax powder, Washing Soda and Water.
1. Grate your Soap
2. Add your grated soap to a stock pot
3. Add 8 cups of hot water. Bring to a slow boil, stir until soap dissolves
4. Add 1 cup each of Washing Soda and Borax
5. Bring to a boil again.
6. Remove from heat and divide evenly into two containers. I used two 1 gallon milk jugs.
7. Then add water just a few inches from the top of the jugs and your done. (I used my blender to pour the water into the jugs). It's easier to add the water out of a container instead of under the tap. (Less suds to deal with). The mixture will thicken... quite a bit, but don't be alarmed. Just take the end of a wooden spoon or whatever you have on hand and stir. You can also add a little extra water to the detergent when you use it to loosen it up a bit.
Use 1/2 a cup per each load of laundry.
Also when you use your new detergent, don't be alarmed if it's not sudsy. This detergent doesn't get very sudsy but t doesn't mean it's not working. Several bloggers have said that it's not the suds that get your clothes clean, so just a forewarning. :-)
It sounds like a daunting task, but believe me, it's so easy and simple and it saves you TONS of money. My total out of pocket expense for the borax powder, washing soda and soap was around $7.00! All of these supplies will make several gallons of detergent! The only item I will have to go back and buy is the Fel-Naptha soap and it's only around $1.20 per bar!! With Tide being around $10-15 per package, I'd much rather make my own and save that extra money!! Give it a try... I'm sure you'll love it!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Happenings of Our Crazy Life

(Warning: Forver long post, but it gets pretty good). :-)
It's been FOREVER since my last blog post. I promise I haven't gone AWOL...  yet.  The past few months seem like a blur. Our life went from semi-normal to off the deep end! It's taken me awhile to just find the time to sit down at my computer and even type this post. Let's start from the beginning...
Around February Ben started feeling sick. He wasn't sick like go to the doctor sick, but he just wasn't feeling good. He was tired and had a nagging cough that just wouldn't seem to go away. After about a month of that, he wasn't getting any better so he decided to go to the doctor. They put him on an antibiotic and gave him a steroid pack and off he went. Let me remind you, Ben is rarely ever sick. Even if he gets sick he's over it in like a day. (Yeah, he's one of those people, hate him). Well, he didn't get better. So off to the doctor he went again. This time they gave him an antibiotic shot and a steroid shot. Another few days passed and he still wasn't better. He went back to the doctor and they did lab work and a chest x-ray. All of his labs came back normal, but he was still sick... Actually he was getting worse, not better. So the doctor told him he had a couple choices, he could see a "pulmonologist, infectious disease or be admitted in the hospital." The doctor preferred that he be admitted, so that night he was directly admitted to our local hospital. While he was there he got to see our pulmonologist who happens to be one of Ben's friends. (We were happy about that... we love Dr.Bob). While he was in the hospital, they performed all kinds of tests. At one point they did a couple EKGs and pulled cardiac enzyme labs because his EKG was showing signs that he could of had a heart attack!!! Yeah, I was a little  a lot freaked out. They put him on telemetry and monitored him throughout the night. He was very tachycardic, but he wasn't having any chest pain. Thankfully his cardiac labs came back OK. They did an echo on his heart to rule out pericarditis and other heart issues. Pericarditis could not be ruled out, but after rounds and rounds of i.v. antibiotics and normal labs, they sent him home. They think he had some kind of virus... maybe coxsacyvirus. Whatever that is. He's just now starting to feel like 100%... finally! After he was discharged from the hospital the doctor wrote him off work for another week. During that time he ended up losing his full-time job. It's a long story, but I think it's the best thing that could've happened. Ben wasn't going to slow down unless he was made to and him losing his job, made him slow down. I think that's the only reason why he's finally starting to feel better.
So, since he's the main provider for our house, we kind of freaked  panicked! But, you know, The LORD knows all and He has provided for us. Ben was able to pick up more hours at the hospital (yes he worked two jobs, one full time, one prn, as needed) he lost his full time job, but thankfully his prn job picked up. He's still on the full time job search. We're praying that a certain situation works out and he will get this one full time job that he wants.
As if all of that wasn't crazy enough, Ben and I have been praying about my job situation. I've wanted to stay at home with the kids and he's wanted me to stay at home with them, but we've always thought that I needed to work. Well we've been going through Financial Peace University (Dave Ramsey) and living on a budget and I started selling Lia Sophia a few months ago and that's been going really well and I've had a couple other things to come up that offered us extra income, so a week ago today, I QUIT MY JOB!!!! It sounds absolutely insane, yes, I know! But, my GOD IS ABLE TO PROVIDE ALL MY NEEDS ACCORDING TO HIS RICHES IN GLORY!! It was a HUGE step in faith, but I'm so happy to be home with my kids. We've always been on a schedule, but it's just been so much better now that I've been home. I've been meal planning our dinners for awhile, but since I quit my job, I'm meal planning for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We're having so much fun. This was definitely the best decision Ben and I have ever made. We're incorporating bible time with the kids and I've been making my own household solutions. It's been WONDERFUL!!! I know there's going to be days where I want to pull my hair out, but I wouldn't trade being home with them for anything! I'm also hoping to blog more. I love my blog, but obviously I go through spells where I don't blog for months! I'm hoping that will change. So, if you've stayed with me this far, I'm hoping to share recipes, meal plans, cleaning solutions, my kiddos and other happenings of our household on here so I hope you stick around. Thanks for all the prayers! We've felt them!! It means so much to have great friends who stick with you through thick and thin and hold you up in prayer!! We're forever grateful!!