Just a few words on this Thursday evening…

Hi, everyone!

Hope you’ve all had a great Thursday! It was beautiful – if a bit cool – here today. Got the work thing done. Got the run in. Dinner’s done and kitchen cleaned. Coffee set for the morning. I think that I shall grab my book and read for a while.

But first I want to share a little Dave Ramsey FPU success I had. We have been doing FPU churchwide since January 26. This week was the first time I braved the grocery store with a list, a few coupons, and my cash envelope containing $100. I bought lots of fresh veggies (broccoli, 2 heads of cauliflower, potatoes, sweet potatoes, kale, spinach, and bananas), a nice roast, and lots of dairy products – cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream, half and half, milk. (Remember my Monday post of our menu for the week? My grocery list was based on that – a very specific grocery list.) Everyone got one thing they wanted for a snack.

It was SCARY standing there at the register waiting to see the end result. But (insert dramatic music), I got out of there with money left in my envelope. I spent $90.44. Whew! Now I just have to keep reminding myself that I do NOT need to go back to the store before the envelope is replenished next week.

I was just so excited that I made it out alive (I did text and ask Teresa to pray for me before I went in) that I just had to share!

So anyway, back to the book. Have a good night! Everyone stay well!

Blessings,
Lynne

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Recipe Share Wednesday (a day late!): Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Good morning, everyone!

I went to bed last night and just before I feel asleep I realized that I had forgotten to share this recipe. I tried it for the first time last night and it was YUMMY! Now, I do love sweet potatoes so it could just be me. And I didn’t share a lot, just so you know. I wanted to have some for lunch today so I squirreled them away. 🙂

I don’t know where I got the recipe so I can’t give credit where credit is due. I probably found it on Facebook! Anyway, here it is. Yum! (again)

3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-size chunks

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1 tablespoon brown sugar, or more to taste (I used two)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

pinch ginger

pinch sea salt

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients together and toss to coat well. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. (I forgot this part.) Bake for 45-60 minutes until tender, stirring a couple of times along the way and checking for doneness.

 

Budgets, Budgets, Budgets

Happy Tuesday!

Today is my hubby’s 50th birthday so first have to acknowledge that. 🙂 What did he do? Not a thing. He’s under the weather with a stomach bug so not much celebrating will be done today. We will celebrate and give him a hard time later. We were kind-ish about his BIG birthday today.

I have spent the afternoon working on my budget for Financial Peace University. We are going through FPU as a church right now and I’m reworking our budget as we go. I’ve spent too long doing it today that my eyes may be crossed! They feel that way. This isn’t new stuff to me; I’m just not very good at following the budgets I create. But we are determined this time to stick to it and get it done. (I will repeat that to myself every day.)

So…

Do you all budget on a regular basis?

How often do you reevaluate?

Are you on a cash only basis?

One of our biggest expenses is groceries. I’m working really, really hard to cut our grocery bill. Really. Really. Hard. So I spent the morning finishing up my menu plan and making a detailed grocery list. I’m determined to not buy something that isn’t on the list. Grocery shopping is on my agenda for tomorrow morning, so pray for me. I hate to grocery shop, but it must be done. I’ll put my blinders on and focus on my list. Focus, focus, focus.

So now that my head is full of numbers and lists, I’m going to call it a night and go watch “Pretty Little Liars.” Yes, I’m a PLL fan. I admit it. 🙂

Y’all have a good evening!

Lynne

 

 

Monday, Monday….(singing the Mamas & the Papas) :)

Hello, everyone!

I hope you had a good week last week and a wonderful weekend! We’re still kinda puny around here. Coughing continues and the hubs apparently has some kind of stomach thing. Hate to say that I hope it was a touch of food poisoning, but I’d prefer that to the thought of a virus running through the ranks. Ugh! I’ll keep my cough, thank you very much.

Needless to say, I’m not overly excited to start a big project today. But I have spent some time working up my menu plan for the week. I planned three meals a day trying to use as much stuff as I have on hand. My menu sounds pretty good and my grocery list is pretty short. I like it.

Here are some of the meals on my plan for the week (not counting today). I don’t have anything planned for tomorrow night because it’s hubby’s 50th birthday and he gets to choose. Depending on how he feels, we may go out. If not, we’ll scrounge up something.

Tuesday:

  • Breakfast – Stuffed French Toast
  • Lunch – Roasted Cauliflower & White Cheddar Soup
  • Dinner: Hubby’s Choice

Wednesday:

  • Breakfast – Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
  • Lunch – Broccoli Frittata, fruit & yogurt
  • Dinner – “Chickless” Pot Pie or Chicken Pot Pie (both options), roasted sweet potatoes, veggie fritters

Thursday:

  • Breakfast – Breakfast Casserole Bites
  • Lunch – Leftovers
  • Dinner – Lasagna, Salad, Homemade Dinner Rolls

Friday:

  • Breakfast – Blueberry Muffins
  • Lunch – Homemade Pimento Cheese sandwiches, zucchini chips
  • Dinner – Crock Pot Chicken Enchilada Soup, Baked Chimichangas

Saturday:

Breakfast – Breakfast Skillet w/ Potatoes & Canadian Bacon
Lunch – Quinoa, Zucchini & Sun-dried Tomato Frittata
Dinner – French Dip Sandwiches on homemade rolls, Crash Hot Potatoes, Fruit & Yogurt Parfaits

Sunday:

  • Breakfast -Leftovers
  • Lunch – Leftovers
  • Dinner – Baked Teriyaki Chicken, Quick & Easy Vegetable Fried Rice

As you can see, Sundays have to be pretty easy as it’s my busiest day of the week. My plan is to spend some time tomorrow prepping what I can ahead of time. I also have to do my least favorite thing – go to the grocery store.

If you’re new to menu planning, here’s a post I wrote last January called “Menu Planning 101.” Start with a day or two, then a week. Maybe you’ll get up to a month at a time. Please know that I love to plan but life doesn’t always allow for the plan to be carried out exactly. But it’s always good to have a plan! THIS IS YOUR WEEKLY CHALLENGE: PLAN A MENU! Just plan breakfasts. Just plan lunches. Just plan dinners. Plan it all. It’s up to you. The challenge is to plan.

~ Lynne

“You must learn a new way to think before you can master a new way to be.” ~ Marianne Williamson

Today, I am blogging about one of my favorite things: menu planning. Yes, I know that probably makes me weird, but I love planning. And cookbooks. So menu planning for me is fun. Throw in a new recipe and it’s downright exciting!

First, let me ask you a few questions. How often have you found yourself staring into the refrigerator at 5:00 in the afternoon hoping that something will magically appear for dinner? How often do you forego cooking at home for eating out? How often does the pizza delivery guy visit your house? Does he know you by name? (I see him zipping through my neighborhood quite frequently.) Do you know the meal deal numbers at the fast food places by heart? Do you know which night is kids’ night at every restaurant in town?

I am here to tell you that with a little planning – really, just a little! – you can enjoy dinners at home with your family on most nights. In about the same time it takes you to wait and then eat (and then PAY) at a restaurant, you could eat a nice, home-cooked meal. And YOU get the pats on the back and praise! Now that’s a good feeling! For example, one of my favorite dining out foods is the chicken marsala at Carrabba’s. Now, I can’t afford to go have that just any old time…it’s $50 for two of us to eat dinner there – and there are very rarely just two of us. But I can make it at home, feed 4-6 people depending on the night, WITH a side of garlic mashed potatoes, AND homemade bread, AND a salad…for about $20, certainly less than $25. Our family saves eating out for special occasions…birthdays (you get to choose the restaurant), anniversaries, milestones, etc. Occasionally, we go just because we can, but that is rare.

So here is what I do. I’m going to include pictures because I like visual aids.

1. Gather your materials: calendar, paper, pen/pencil, highlighter, sticky notes, cookbooks or magazines, printed recipes (Notice I have three magazines here. Those are the three I am using this month. I don’t want to be looking through ten different magazines. No need to confuse myself.)

calendar, schedules, pen, paper, cooking magazines

calendar, schedules, pen, paper, cooking magazines

2. On my calendar, I highlight the days and nights my husband is working. I plan meals and leftovers according to his work schedule. I don’t serve Monday night’s leftovers on Tuesday night if he took them for lunch, for example. I use my slow cooker most Sundays and Mondays because those are my busiest days. I am a greeter at church and have my small group meeting two Sundays per month (the same Sunday because that makes my scheduling easier) and I volunteer at church during the day on Mondays. Thus, I use my beloved slow cooker (sometimes both of them as I did on Monday).

Calendar with hubby's work days highlighted (this one is filled out already)

I do not know why this is upside down. It’s not that way in my picture file. Hmm….strange!

NOTE: If you do not own a slow cooker (Crock Pot), go out right now and get one. Like, right this very minute! This is your “best friend” in the kitchen. Best.

3. Go through your magazines, cookbooks, or search websites for recipes you want to use. As I said, I look for slow cooker meals for Sundays and Mondays. Whatever your busiest day is (or your busiest days are), use the slow cooker. On your paper, write down the days of the week and then fill in with meal plans. If you are using a recipe, note where it’s found and what page.

Each day's menu planned out and on paper

4. Write this menu on a pretty menu planner (or just use this list) and post it where your beloved family members can see it. They will still ask you what’s for dinner, but once they know it’s posted, you can give them the evil eye when they ask. Eventually, they’ll figure it out. Maybe.

The menu plan posted on the fridge

The menu plan posted on the fridge

5. Prepare ye the grocery list. Using the recipes and plan, make out your grocery list for the week. I try to build my menu around what I have on hand as much as possible.

6. Do your best to sweet talk someone else into going grocer shopping for you. If that doesn’t work, trudge on up there yourself. TAKE the grocery list with you. Speaking from experience, you won’t buy what’s on the list if you don’t have it. Which means you can’t make what’s on your menu. You worked hard (ahem!) on that menu and you want to follow it.

7. If there are things that can be done ahead of time (browning ground beef, chopping veggies, etc.), go ahead and do that the night before you’ll be having the meal. There are lots of time-saving tricks and we will be talking about them soon.

8. Prepare your meals and enjoy the smiles and love from your family. If you never, ever cook at home, start with 3-4 meals. Work up to 5-6. I always plan at least one night for leftovers – it’s called the “Leftover Buffet.” Remember that you will also save money by taking or sending leftovers to work for lunches.

Things to Remember

  • Things come up and you can’t follow the menu exactly. It’s okay. The world will not come to an end. Things happen. Be flexible. You’ll still feel better with a plan.
  • Prepare what you can ahead of time. (More on this to come.)
  • Clean as you go. Wash the pots or fill the dishwasher or whatever. Then you don’t have to clean after. It’s much better this way. I promise.
  • A few minutes of planning will save you a lot of minutes of stressing!

Happy Eating!

Lynne

Hi, all!

Hey, all!

I’m still here; I’ve just been sick this week. Unfortunate, because it’s been beautiful here. Hope you’ve had a great week!

 

Blessings,

Lynne

Recipe Share Wednesday: Loaded Baked Potato and Chicken Casserole

I have no idea where this recipe came from so I can’t give credit where credit is due. I know I copied it from Facebook. I made it a couple of nights ago and it was very well received. Next time I make it, I’ll diced the potatoes a little smaller (it took longer to cook than the recipe says) and I think I’d brown the chicken lightly before putting it in the casserole because “white” cooked chicken isn’t visually appealing. It tasted good, though. 🙂 Also, it makes more than four servings. We ate it for dinner, I took leftovers for work, and we still had enough for leftovers for dinner last night.

I used a regular sweet onion because I had no green ones and I was NOT going back to the grocery store. Probably about 1/4 cup of finely diced onion. I only had half-and-half and it worked, but cream would be better for sure because it would have a thicker sauce. Even with all that, we ate it up! 😉

LOADED BAKED POTATO AND CHICKEN CASSEROLE ! 

For 4 servings you need :

  • 3 – 4 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed and diced (about 1.5 lbs. or 4 1/2 cups)
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked crisp, cooled and crumbled
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 4 green onions, sliced (green parts only for low-FODMAP/low-fructose)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9″ x 9″ baking pan or casserole dish.

Spread half of the diced potatoes in bottom of pan. Place the diced chicken breasts evenly on top. Season chicken with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Sprinkle with half the bacon crumbles, 1/2 cup of the cheese, and half the green onions.

Spread the remaining diced potatoes on top, followed by the remaining bacon, another 1/2 cup cheese, remaining green onions and another 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Pour heavy cream over top of casserole and then dot with the butter.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour. Uncover and bake another 30 minutes. In the last few minutes of baking, sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup cheddar cheese and bake until melted.

 

Yum!

Yum! Clearly this isn’t my picture since it does have green onions in it. 😉

No Living Simply Challenge This Week – Life is Challenging Enough Right Now

Good morning, dear friends!

Wow! What a week it has been here in South Carolina! In the last seven days we’ve had a HUGE and devastating ice storm, and earthquake (or two), and springtime weather. I chose not to issue a weekly challenge yesterday because, quite frankly, we here are challenged enough right now.

The clean up from Winter Storm Pax continues, with many in our area still without power. Line crews from many states are here working around the clock to get power back to everyone. But when you have the kind of outages we had, it takes a while. So for some, today marks a whole week without power. We were without power for less than two days, so we were some of the lucky ones. Clean up began for most on Friday, I’d say. My dad came with his chainsaw and cut down the larger tree branches that had fallen on our fence and cut out half of my dogwood tree that fell over. We hauled all that to the road and I (foolishly) thought we were done. Yesterday, hubby and I spent the entire day cleaning up the “rest of the story.” Smaller limbs and twigs that had fallen; trimming other trees that were crushed under the big limbs. My poor rose bushes and crape myrtle trees…

I had intended to post last night, but just didn’t have it in me. While we were cleaning, we went ahead and transplanted some roses and shrubs. I know not why. By the time I got ready to make dinner, my mind was having a conversation with my body that went something like this:

Mind: “You know we are 46-years-old, right?”

Body: (Moan.)

Mind: “We can’t do things like we used to. You should have stopped when I told you.”

Body: “Yeah. I know.”

Mind: “If we get out of the bed in the morning, it will be a miracle.”

Body: “I’m aware.”

Mind: “What made you think you needed to move shrubs anyway? It wasn’t me.”

Body: “Leave. Me. Alone.”

Mind: “I told you so.”

Body: (Walks away slowly and goes to bed.)

On the bright side, I did get out of the bed this morning and am not too stiff. I did get sunburn on my face and was involved with something I’m allergic to so I had to take several Benadryl. (I slept well, my friends. Very well.) And, I have a new rose garden/bed. In the middle of the yard. Away from the big trees. We did eat a very late dinner – like 8:00 late – but we ate. I was moving like a sloth. 🙂

On an even brighter note, it was in the mid-60s yesterday afternoon and I did take my coffee break sitting on the back deck yesterday afternoon. It was so very nice. Our temps for the next three days are in the mid- to upper-70s. On Friday, we have a chance of severe spring weather (as in thunderstorms and tornadoes.) In the south, you can experience all four seasons within a one-week time frame. It’s how we roll.

Anyway, back to the weekly challenge thing. Our challenges here include lots (LOTS!) of yard work, catching up on laundry, clearing out fridges and freezers in which food has gone bad. The list goes on. So I don’t think any big cleaning challenges need to be added on top of those. We just want “normal” to come back.

Y’all have a good week! We’ll get back to business next week.

Blessings,

Lynne

P.S. Here are just a few photos from last week.

 

DSC_0665

DSC_0551

DSC_0580

DSC_0600

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

Hope you’ve had a wonderful day! And felt lots of love!

 

We spent the day cleaning up post-ice storm cleanup. Chain saws were involved. I did not operate it. The piles along the sides of the road in our neighborhood are BIG!

 

Practicing gratitude today;

 

I’m grateful for kids who made the best of it and played games by candlelight and kept me entertained. 🙂

 

I am grateful for the utility workers who have been working around the clock to get power back to the masses.

(I’m sorry, those of you who are still waiting!)

 

I’m grateful for my daddy bringing his chainsaw over and helping with the big stuff.

 

I’m grateful for my hubby buying us dinner last night and tonight because it means I didn’t have to cook…I am still tired!

 

I’m grateful for heat, hot water and the fact that with all the limbs that fell around us, none fell on the house or cars.

 

I’m grateful for Advil. Which I’m going to take now. Physical labor is seriously not fun. (And I’m not as young as I used to be!)

 

Have a good evening. Stay warm!

 

Lynne

Greetings from the set of “Frozen”

Our power has been restored and I’ve had coffee. I feel human again.

 

Too sleepy to write a coherent post today (tonight?) as I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night. Besides being cold because we had no power, I was listening to the sounds of trees cracking and falling all night. It was a bit nerve-wracking! We were blessed. A large limb barely missed my son’s car and the dogwood that broke fell away from the front porch.

 

Y’all have a good night. For those of you still without power, I hope you are able to kept warm!

 

Blessings, Lynne

Waiting on Wintery Mix…again!

Hi, everyone!

For those of you somewhere warm, I’m totally jealous right now! For those of you where it’s colder than it is here, I’m sorry. Let’s all meet in a sunny warm location ASAP. I’m sitting here with my nephew (who’s watching some weird cartoon show), enjoying a cup of coffee and waiting on our next round of winter weather to arrive….sleet and ice expected, with some snow mixed in there. There’s a pot of baked potato soup simmering on the stove top. We have a small stash of firewood. We have bread and milk. I guess we’re set. Praying that we do not end up without power. And that my neighbor’s really, really tall pine tree doesn’t get weighted down with ice and fall in our direction. Praying that everyone stays home and off the roads. Really people. Stay. Home.

Today I’m grateful that I have a home to keep me safe and warm during this cold weather. Even if we lose power, we still have a roof over our heads and blankets. Lots of blankets. We have food and water. There are many people in the world – in our little neck of the woods, even – who don’t have that. I tend to take it for granted and I shouldn’t. I’m working on my attitude of gratitude. So many things in my day-to-day life I take for granted and just assume they’ll always be there. My home. My health. A little money in the bank. And it could change in the blink of an eye. So my challenge to you today is to make a list of the first ten things that come to mind when you hear the question: What are you grateful for?

Here are mine:

1. My family (even when they aggravate me)

2. Health (and the will to try and stay healthy)

3. Home (not a big one, but it’s warm and cozy)

4. Security (trusting that my husband is willing to do what it takes to take care of our family)

5. Friends (to laugh with and to go through the tough times with)

6. Car (so I don’t have to walk everywhere)

7. Food (so that we don’t go to bed hungry)

8. Church (for my church family and for my job!)

9. Pets (who love unconditionally…as long as you feed them)

10. Having 1st world problems (because it means I don’t live in a third world country)

There are many more things, but those are the ones I came up with sitting here. Coffee isn’t on the list, but you know it goes with all of them above. 🙂 In my book, anyway.

Take some time today to think about all that you have to be grateful for. Even in life’s difficult circumstances, we should be able to find something to be grateful for. I always try to remember that no matter what I’m facing, there’s someone, somewhere who’s facing something even more difficult. (I sometimes remember this AFTER a situation, but still…I try.) Then take a few minutes to pray for those who are less fortunate than you. 

So hug your hubby. Hug you kiddos. Tell your loved ones that you love them. Stay warm. And if you’re in the south, stay warm and stay home. 🙂

Lynne