Blessed!

What a beautiful day we are having here in Aiken, SC today! But, man, is it breezy! But the sun is out and it’s gorgeous! I’m enjoying the view from inside instead of sitting outside this afternoon. ๐Ÿ™‚

We had a wonderful morning at church celebrating victories from our church-wide Financial Peace University classes that have been going on for the past ten weeks. If you get the opportunity to participate in FPU, I encourage you to do it! I’m a nerd, so I’m enjoying the budgeting part. Weirdo…I know. I’m okay with that. We are planning a vacation for spring break – cash only! No plastic allowed.

By this time next week, I’ll be Hilton Head bound and the Cooper River Bridge Run 2014 will be over. I’d appreciate your prayers for safety in travel to and from Charleston, as well as during the race. Not just for me, but for the 40,000+ runners who will be there. (That’s a lot of runners, by the way.)

Enjoy the rest of your weekend. I’m off to visit the parents and help take care of my littlest nephew.

Blessings,

Lynne

P.S. And enjoy this view.

DSC_0594

“Yay” for Saturdays!

Hi, all!

Hope you’ve had a great Saturday! I’ve spent some time purging that bookshelf that I’d been avoiding. It would be so much easier if I didn’t like books. *sigh* So it’s not bare, but it is less full than it was. That’s progress, right? While I was at it, I redid my mantle and played around with the living room arrangement. Still contemplating that…

Have a wonderful evening! I’ve got a quiche to make!

Blessings,

Lynne

 

Welcome the weekend!

Happy Friday, y’all!

It’s cold and rainy, but it’s still Friday! I did manage to get a run in with Kathryn before yoga this morning, so at least that’s done. Came back to my house and had lunch – I made a broccoli frittata – and then went to Academy Sports to get something new to wear for next weekend’s Cooper River Bridge Run. I tried my hardest to take a nap, but just couldn’t fall asleep. Perfect napping weather wasted. Sadness! So I’m going to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee (or two…maybe three) and read for a while before I have to finish getting dinner ready. I have a crock pot of soup going and it is smelling yummy. It’s a new recipe, so I’ll be sharing if it tastes as good as it smells.

Do you have big plans for the weekend? Tomorrow will be a big cleaning day for me which is not my usual weekend plan. But I’m keeping my not-quite-one-year-old nephew next week, going out of town for the race, and then leaving for vacation on Sunday so…seems like tomorrow will be the time to do some of the tasks I usually do during the week. If nothing else, I’ll have to make a plan of some sort. And I’m going to do some cooking ahead as well. By the way, doing the dried beans went well. I needed some this morning and just pulled a bag out of the freezer. And it did seem quite cost-effective. One bag = one can, so the were 25 cents (or less) per bag. Not bad at all.

My coffee is ready so I’ll sign off for now. Have a GREAT weekend!

Blessings,

Lynne

 

Recipe Share Wednesday: Lentil Stew

Happy Wednesday!

It’s a beautiful – but quite chilly – day today here in Aiken. My friend and I got out and did a six mile walk/run this morning. That wind was rough! But I had a massage this afternoon, so all is well. ๐Ÿ™‚

When I homeschooled my children, I used Learning Adventures which I loved. When we studied ancient Egypt, we made this lentil stew. It was delicious then, and it’s still my favorite lentil stew recipe.

Lynne

 

Lentil Stew

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 2 cups dry lentils
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 ham bone (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • 1/8 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste

Rinse the lentils and set aside. Melt butter in stock pot. Add onion, garlic and carrots and saute for a few minutes, but do not brown. Add lentils, ham bone and water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Add tomatoes, thyme, cumin, salt and pepper. Simmer about 45 minutes longer until lentils are tender. Great served with a salad and warm bread. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Are we sure today wasn’t a Monday??

Good evening, everyone!

Hope you all had a great day, though it felt like a Monday all day to me. Visited a friend in the hospital today. The right hospital after visiting two other ones. We wondered why they looked at us funny when we asked about a room on the 9th floor. Probably because the hospital we were at only had FOUR floors! When we finally got to where we were going, we had a nice – if short – visit. Got to pray with our friend. Hoping she gets to come home tomorrow. Oh…and we totally had to wear gowns and gloves. We looked cool, I’m sure. ๐Ÿ™‚

Got home and got started on some meal preparations following the instructions found here:

http://thethriftycouple.com/2014/03/19/cook-and-prep-bulk-freezer-beans-to-save-loads-of-money-and-time/

I did black beans and cannelliniย beans today. Planning to do kidney and pintos tomorrow. I got six packs of cannellinis and three of the black beans. I calculated that the cost was $0.25 per bag of cannellini beans and $0.50 for the bags of black beans. Definitely less than the canned beans. When they are completely cooled, I’ll store them stacked flat in my freezer. How convenient is that? And saves time when you need them. I plan to make this a habit.

 

 
beans

 

I also did my grocery shopping today. I went a little over budget, but I bought some things that were on sale that I needed anyway. Since the larger sizes were on sale, I’ll use what I need this week and freeze or otherwise store the rest. I spent $156 today…$21 over budget. (Though I usually try to stay around $100). For four people eating three meals at home every day that’s $1.87 per meal. Not too shabby, especially since we eat pretty well. We had baked ravioli, salad, and crusty bread for dinner. Who can complain about that for $1.87 per person? Not me! I looked on a well-known Italian restaurant’s website. The ravioli there was $11.49 with salad and breadsticks. So $50+ or $8? I’ll take $8. And I didn’t have to drive anywhere and I have enough to feed my family again tomorrow.

I’m headed for bed now. Hope you all sleep tight and have sweet dreams!

~ Lynne

 

Weekly Challenges: Day by Day

Hey, y’all!

I hope you had a great weekend! I did. I made strawberry jam for the first time with some sweet Florida strawberries. (Thanks to the Girls Scouts here Aiken who got them here somehow.) Twelve half-pints of them even. I made some homemade tortillas which were quite the bomb. (At least in my estimation.) Sunday was busy with church, a nap (duh!) and then our last week of FPU.

I’ve been contemplating weekly challenges and this week – because it will be easier for me ๐Ÿ™‚ – I’m given (issuing?) four challenges. There would have been fine but clearly, I’m posting late (during commercial breaks during Dancing with the Stars), so there’s really not time for a challenge today. Please accept my humblest apologies for giving you a day off. So, here are the four things that I’m challenging you to this week. I would love to hear from you and get some progress reports. Pictures would be even better.

Challenge #1: Make a menu plan for dinner. Plan 4-5 dinners per week. Have leftovers two other nights (or sandwiches or let the family fend for themselves). That still leaves a night to order pizza or eat out if you choose. I posted last week a four meal plan along with a grocery list. All four meals utilize the slow cooker (Your BEST friend in the kitchen, I kid you not. Unless you have a chef.) Here’s the link to that post:

https://lifedoesnthavetobethisway.wordpress.com/2014/03/20/four-dinners-shopping-list-for-next-week/

I followed that post with four additional posts with step-by-step instructions for each meal including what to do in the morning (as in, put things in the slow cooker) and what to do to complete the meal. Easy peasy. You can’ find those posts on the blog or on the Facebook page under “Notes.”

Challenge #2: Get some exercise. It’s not a dreaded word. Be not afraid! I’m not expecting you to go run a 5K this weekend. (But, hey, that’s entirely up to you!) But – gasp! – summer is just around the corner and that means swimsuits! Yikes!! I shudder. If you don’t have an exercise regimen (I said that in my mind in a serious voice), it’s time to get with the program. If you are not an exercise-r, start slow and easy. (Disclaimer: Consult you doctor before beginning an exercise program.) Walk the dog. Walk around the block. Take a class. If you moving from your couch for the first time in a long time, walk to the mailbox and back. Based on all that I’ve read – and that’s a lot – you need to be exercising 3-5 times per week for 20-30 minutes per session. The key to continuing with exercise is finding something you enjoy (and you will find it) and do that. You won’t go back to the gym if you hate the gym. (I hate the gym. Just saying.) I like doing my walking and running outside as opposed to on a treadmill and I really enjoy Zumba and yoga. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Challenge #3: Get together with a friend. Someone you haven’t seen in a while or haven’t had a real conversation with in a while. (K, I’ll be in touch!) Life gets crazy and we let this go. But friendships are important and you have to tend them to maintain them…just like a garden. If you can, spend 30 minutes over a cup of coffee or tea just catching up. Hey…you can do challenge #2 while catching up. In fact, that’s an awesome idea. Walking and talking is GREAT! Did that just today with my buddy Kathryn. If you can’t physically get together, there’s Facetime (I’ve done that now!) and Skype. But in person is always best. Find 30 minutes. It’s one sitcom or reality show. You can do it. (That’s why we have DVRs.)

Challenge #4: Do something for YOURSELF. Take a nap. Get a massage. (I’m doing that Wednesday.) Pick up and read a book you’ve had your eye on. Take a bubble bath. Do all of these things. Watch a movie you’ve been wanting to see. Do all of these things. Just do something that’s just for you that makes YOU happy. It’s not being selfish. Sometimes you just have to take care of yourself in order to be able to take care of the people in your life. If you don’t, it will catch up with you eventually. Anything that can “catch up with you eventually” is never good. Never.

And try to remember to do one or two of these things for 15 minutes a day. Just 15…no longer. Little by little does the trick. The tortoise always beats the hare. You know the drill.

  • Purge something (a bookshelf, a drawer, a closet, a cooking magazine collection…ahem!) and separate things into the give, donate, and toss categories. And then give, donate or toss them.
  • Straighten up the area you see first thing in the morning before you go to bed at night. What a relief to have an area free of clutter to wake up to.
  • Make your bed. It really does make a difference in how your room looks and feels.
  • Put away your laundry. (I’m working on this one.) I do mean the clean laundry, not the dirty stuff.

Let someone you love know that you love them every day! Smile at the cashier at the grocery store. Do something nice for your hubby or wife “just because.” And have a GREAT week!

Lynne

 

 

 

Happy Sunday!

Happy Sunday, everyone!

I hope you’ve had a great day! When I posted this morning on Facebook, for some reason I thought I’d posted here as well. (It was early and I hadn’t had enough coffee yet!)

Was a busy day in Kidz Creek preschool today! So I came home and went to bed. Did not pass “Go” and collect $200…didn’t even bother with lunch. I was THAT tired. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m rested up now and having some coffee while I fix my hubby dinner so he can go to work tonight. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Enjoy your evening! We are having our celebration for the end of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. Yay!

Lynne

Meal #4: Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole, Veggie or Salad

Here’s the plan for meal #4: Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole

Ingredients: 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, can of cream of chicken soup, 8 oz. sour cream, 1 tablespoon poppy seeds, 1 sleeve Ritz crackers, 1 stick butter

In the morning:

  • Place chicken breasts in slow cooker and cover with water. Add pinch or two of salt.
  • Cook on low 6-8 hours.

When you get home or ready to prepare meal:

1. Remove chicken and allow to cool slightly, otherwise you’ll burn your fingers. (True story.)

2. Chop or dice chicken into small pieces. Mix with soup, sour cream and poppy seeds.

3. Lightly spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray. Pour chicken mixture into dish and spread evenly.

4. In a medium size bowl, melt stick of butter. Crush crackers and stir into butter, mixing well. Spread over top of chicken.

5. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes

6. Prepare your veggie of choice or whip up a salad.

This dish is simple but delicious. Very popular at my house.

Meal #3: Barbecue Sandwiches, Chips or Fries, Baked Beans

Here’s the plan for Meal #3: Barbecue Sandwiches

Ingredients: pork tenderloin (3-4 pounds), barbecue sauce, hamburger buns, baked beans (canned or homemade), chips or fries (yes, frozen is fine)

In the morning:

  • Place the pork in the slow cooker and cover with water.
  • Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

When you get home or get ready to prepare the rest of the meal:

1, Heat baked beans according to directions on can.

2. Remove pork from slow cooker and place in baking dish. Remove any visible fat then shred or chop. Add barbecue sauce – I use a whole bottle – and stir. Place in 350 degree oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, just until bubbly.

3. Put the yummy goodness on a bun and enjoy!

Serve with chips or fries. (If you do fries, be sure to cook them so that they’ll be ready when you need them. Chips are easier.)

If you’re maki

Meal #2: French Dip Sandwiches, Crash Hot Potatoes

Here’s the plan for Meal #2: French Dip Sandwiches

Ingredients:ย beef roast, 1/2 cup soy sauce, 32 oz. carton beef broth, 3-4 whole pepper corns (or a couple of grinds from a pepper grinder, or just plain black pepper), 1 tsp. dried rosemary, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 bay leaf

For Crash Hot Potatoes: small red potatoes, olive oil, seasonings. (We love Mrs. Dash Garlic & Herb mix)

In the morning:

  • Place roast in slow cooker.
  • Mix together remaining ingredients (except bay leaf) and pour over roast. Drop bay leaf into liquid.
  • Cook on low for 8-10 hours.

When you get home or get ready to prepare the rest of the meal:

For crash hot potatoes (these are the bomb!): Scrub potatoes. Place in pot and cover with water. Add a pinch of salt. Bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and cook until a knife easily pierces a potato. The time will depend on the size of your potatoes. Drain potatoes well. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place a piece of parchment paper on a rimmed baking sheet. (If you don’t have parchment paper, you might have to scrub your baking sheet) Place potatoes on baking sheet. Smash them with a potato masher or small spatula. You want to flatten them just enough for some of the white part of the potato to show. Brush the tops with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning of choice (and maybe a little salt if you’re me). You can just use salt & pepper. Turn potatoes over and repeat. Bake for 15-20 minutes until crispy around the edges.**

When potatoes are done, shred beef in slow cooker. Remove the bay leaf first!

Using a fork, heap beef onto hoagie roll and top with cheese. Ladle some au jus into a bowl and dip away.

**You could also serve French fries or chips with this if you like.