Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pantry Date Night

This week, our Saturday turned into a longer day than we expected. We went to a farm festival at a local park (a historical 1850s farm), and then we went on a wild goose chase from Craigslist for a rug I just had to have. We ended up a way far, far suburb at 4:00 to get the rug (which is perfect, by the way, and exactly what I wanted and totally worth it). But, that put us getting home right at supper time for the boys (who eat early on Saturday). So, by the time we had fed them and gotten them to bed, we were tired. And neither of us had the energy to grill (the original plan) or get take-out (usually our 2nd choice). So we opened our (very thin, just moved in) pantry to see what we could find.

These drinks are a repeat, but they are so good! I used a spoonful of blueberry lime jam in seltzer with lemon juice (the jam is sweet enough that it doesn't need sugar). Really good.

And, then for our appetizer, we cracked open a can of sardines. Yes, we are that white trash. And proud of it. Well, maybe a little proud. Sardines are always better than we remember, and this was no exception. We ate them with the perfect white trash accompaniment, saltines. Oh yes we did.

And on to the main dish. Nachos with just chips and cheese. Jarred salsa on the side. Some drained yogurt instead of sour cream, cause that's what we had.

We somehow found our football game (go Dawgs!) on the internet, which is way better than the $25 my brother paid for his on pay-per-view. So, we watched it while listening to it on the radio. Cause everyone knows you can't trust strangers to call the game of your beloved team. Oh, no, it has to be the old favorites that you know and love.

And, in the end, our pantry had just what we needed for a great night. Some Georgia football, some time with my husband, and it was perfect. Can't wait for next week.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Gallery Wall

I'm finding it a little slower going unpacking a house with littles. I have never been a crazy fast unpacker (in one infamous grad school apartment, I just never unpacked at all the 8 months I lived there), but this is worse than even my normal.

Part of it is, of course, that I'm here all the time. And my house has evolved into much more of a home in the last 5 years since I've moved. I've got more stuff, and I've got more motivation to get it the way I like it.

But part of it is definitely 3 insane little children. Who want to be fed and diapered, wear clean clothes, and have a mama that plays legos with them. Crazy.

So, I balance the thngs that need to be done with the things I want to get done. And sometimes, everything aligns, and I actually get some pictures on the wall. And it's a beautiful thing.

I've wanted one of these gallery walls for a while now. My mom has LOTS of stuff on her walls. My walls have nothing on hers. But, she definitely inspired me. The quote in the middle was a Christmas present that I saved for just the "right" place. A stuffed duck from my husband's single, duck hunting days. Some pictures from our childood, our wedding invitation, and a painting my grandmother did. There's also a rooster (my husband's family crest includes a rooster). And a photograph of the town we lived in while newlyweds. I need to add a picture or two of my boys, and I found a handprint of Mike's from when he was 5 that I'll add. But, mostly, I'm pleased with the way it's turning out. I like having all that on one wall. Very fun.

So, slowly, one wall at a time, the place is coming together. We still love it. Still feel God's hand in the move. And that's a good thing. Cause I'm not looking forward to doing it again any time soon.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Broccoli Quiche

Sunday nights in my house mean breakfast for supper. I used to scoff at those people that had themed meal plans--if it's Monday, it must be meatloaf, types. But, about 2 years ago, I stopped and realized that our weekends were just not working for us. And a big part of that was that by Sunday night, I am so tired.

We're all off our routine, we frequently go-go-go a lot more on the weekends, and on the weekends, we are all 5 here for all 3 meals. Somehow not having Mike here for breakfast and lunch during the week makes it easier (though I pack his lunch, it is sooo not the same). So, by Sunday night, I was never wanting to make what I had planned. We were eating a lot of whatever-we-could-find or Mike would suggest a drive-through, and we all know that I'm a sucker for fast food, so I'd be all over that.

Time for a change.

So, I picked the easiest meal I could. Breakfast. It comes with a myriad of choices, and two years later, I'm still not bored. In the winter, we frequently have biscuits and gravy (oh, how I love thee!), but the rest of the year, I mix it up a lot. This week was quiche. My 4 year old doesn't eat eggs, but he ate this right up. Hooray! He's not a big meat eater, not an egg eater, and I frequently wonder if he's getting enough. This was a meal I feel good about his eating, and we'll definitely be having it more often now.

Broccoli Quiche
very loosely based on the "universal quiche" recipe from The Tightwad Gazette

1 pie crust (I used the refrigerator kind)
1 cup shredded cheese (I used half cheddar, half parmesan)
1 onion, chopped
1 broccoli crown, chopped
4 slices bacon
4 eggs
1.5 cups milk (I used 2%, but this will work with anything from skim to cream)
1 tsp hot sauce (like Texas Pete)

Saute the onion and broccoli in a little fat (full disclosure--I used bacon fat here--and it was awesome). Meanwhile, place piecrust in a 9 inch pie plate. I use a deep dish one. Line bottom of pie crust with cheese, then top with crumbled bacon and sauteed vegetables. Mix eggs and milk together with whisk. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and hot sauce. Bake at 425 for 10 minutes, then lower heat to 350 for 30-40 minutes to finish cooking.


I was all set to write this morning about the goings on in my life lately, but Amanda at Baby Bangs has already said it for me. Go over there--you'll laugh, you'll cry, and hopefully you'll send up a prayer for all of us in the throes of diapers and little sleep.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Stuff and too much of it

Lately, I've come across several posts from different folks in the blogsphere about decluttering and making more from less. Timely for me, as I try to cram all our old stuff into our new house.

The Nester talks here about editing your stuff.
And this is a great post about reminding yourself that there will always be another bargain around.

One of the challenges of our new house is storage. We've got a few main categories of storage--Christmas, outgrown kid clothing (hey, I have 3 little stair steps; it makes sense to pass down clothes), Mike's camouflage (as long as he doesn't mention my craft stash, I won't mention the fact that he hasn't hunted in 10 years), and some childhood memorabilia. We have some definite editing to do (especially in the area of the memorabilia--sob!), but these are the things that need a home, even if they are edited down to the minimums.

So, we opened the attic. And, y'all!!!! We found someone else's junk. I suppose they just forgot it when they moved. Quite inspiring in an anti-hoarders sort of way to throw out someone else's stuff. Stuff that was important at one time. At least important enough to save in the attic. But, in the end, not even important enough to drag back out and move with them. We go it all cleared out, a bulk trash pickup scheduled, and now we have room for our junk.

But, we are definitely motivated to make sure that we are storing the bare minimum of all that stuff (camouflage excepted, of course....I do love that husband, and I really love his non-meddling ways when it comes to my fabric/craft stash).

That's where we are. Still with piles everywhere, still deciding about what to do with various things and do I really need that doll from the 3rd grade? (and the answer to some of them is yes, yes, I do) But, hopefully, the answer to many more is no, you really don't. Bless someone else.

So, I'm off to Goodwill with yet another donation. And, hopefully, yet another reminder that stuff is stuff, and in the end, I'll keep what makes me happy and let go of the rest.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Meal Plan

In the move, we ate up almost our entire pantry and freezer. And, then... We moved to a house with a seriously small pantry. So much so that I'm having to rethink my entire food procurement ideas. I've been one that keeps a large variety of food around, and now, I don't really have the storage for that. Until I get this figured out, I think that we'll be the "buy one snack food, eat it until it's gone" sort of people. This week, it's apples and popcorn. Eat up, my peeps!

The other problem with eating up my freezer is that I'm out of a variety in my freezer, too. Usually, when a meat goes on sale, I stock up with several weeks worth. So, each week, I tend to buy one or maybe two varieties of meat, and I have lots to choose from. Since that's not working right now, I'm slowly rebuilding my stock, and I'm relying on the old faithful frugal meals. Which means we're eating lots of beans, dairy, and whole chickens. Thankfully, we love those meals, and it's all good.

Fri-Honey baked turkey, macaroni and cheese, rolls, broccoli salad (used the last of a Honey Baked ham gift card that Mike won last Christmas in a fabulous work promotion)

Saturday-leftovers (lunch), fettucini alfredo, tomato basil salad (supper)

Sunday-out (lunch), breakfast scramble (supper)

Monday-red beans and rice

Tuesday-tortilla soup

Wednesday-stuffed shells, salad

Thursday-chicken tikka masala, rice, curried potatoes and spinach

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Meal Plan

So, the move is complete. And here we are...with the tiniest pantry you've ever seen, the most beautifully clean freezer and fridge, and a new kitchen to cook in. It's been fun!

Friday--fair food (lunch), homemade pizza (supper)

Saturday--leftovers (lunch), crab cakes, baked potatoes, salad (supper)

Sunday--the most horrific Mexican food ever (lunch), Willy's burritos (supper)

Monday--curried red beans, basmati rice, raita, roasted cauliflower

Tuesday--chicken pot pie, salad

Wednesday--meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans


As always, I'm linked up to orgjunkie's Monday Menu Plans.

Five Years

There are times when five years feels like nothing. When I look over at my sweet firstborn, I'm in shock that he is 4 years old. It feels like yesterday that I got that positive pregnancy test.

And, yet, the couple that bought a house five years ago feel like complete strangers to us. Somehow, those two childless, double career folks turned into huge family people. We traded the Civic for a Suburban (!). We had three little boys in that time period. And, we went through a huge financial shift as we went from two careers to one career in building materials. In a record breaking recession. That hit building worst. Oy. So, somehow along the way the house that seemed perfectly appropriate for us turned into too much house. Too much payment. Too much money on maintenance. Just too much. And the choice seemed to be having me go back to work or to downsize our house.

That couple of five years ago might have chosen two careers again. That couple today? We are completely and totally committed to having one of us at home. And that meant that we chose to downsize.

What a choice. What a decision. What an opportunity to put feet on what we believe. It's been hard, and it's been a struggle; I won't lie. But, necessary and, in the end, we think a good decision. We prayed and we prayed. Then, we prayed some more.

And, so. We downsized. Into the most wonderful house. Next door to a park. With a flat, shady back yard for my three little boys to play in. This move has been life changing in so many ways. I feel very blessed that God has seen fit to bless us in the middle of lots of bad financial choices.

But what a lot of work! I'm so not the spring chicken that used to move every 18 months and think nothing of it. We've collected soo. much. stuff over the last five years. Stuff that we're going through and donating and thinning out. Stuff that we like, sure, but stuff that we are very sure is just stuff. Stuff is transient. Those little boys are forever. And, I'm glad we made this very hard choice. It's a good thing.