Monday, March 31, 2014

April Dinner Plan

Good grief, it is April already?  I feel like I just wrote my meal plan for March!

When I meal plan, I come up with 4 meals per week.  Two of those meals include leftovers, and that leaves one night for eating out.  I vary easy meals with more time-consuming ones, but I do not specify a day for each meal; I put the meat out a day ahead with the next day's plan in mind.  It is very flexible.



The line shows my grocery shopping division; I am only shopping for half this month and I'll do another big trip before the second part of the month.

April Meal Plan

March 30-April 5

1. Teriyaki chicken, fried rice, stir fry veggies
2. Baked cheese tortellini for potluck
3. Crock pot rotisserie-style chicken, roast potatoes, roasted green beans
4. Fajitas {I will actually use a different recipe I found online at one point, but couldn't find it again; this one is quick and easy}, Mexican rice

April 6-12 {out of town beginning April 8, so only two meals}

1. Sloppy joes {recipe from Taste of Home cookbook}, potato salad
2. Baked fish {seasoned with Old Bay garlic and herb seasoning}, rest of potato salad, salad


April 13-19 

3. Beef stew
4. Baked chicken wings, cheesy bacon potato rounds, roast green beans

April 20-26

1. Chicken cordon bleu, roasted grape tomatoes, roast potatoes, roast green beans
2. Roast beef, rice and gravy, green beans
3. Grilled tequila lime chicken, Mexican rice, black beans
4. Pizzadillas

April 27-May 3

1. Honey mustard chicken, roast potatoes, salad
2. Crock pot chicken and dumplings, field peas
3. Spaghetti with sauteed chicken and tomatoes
4. Steaks, baked potato, grilled squash/onions, grilled corn on the cob, salad

Friday, March 28, 2014

Nashville Bachelorette Party Outfit: Chevron Dress and Boots

We have some friends getting married in a few weeks, and the bride's bachelorette party was in Nashville this past weekend.  It was really exciting because I had never been to Nashville.  The drive from North Carolina was absolutely gorgeous, and Nashville itself is a great city.  I want to go back and take Hubby!

Cowboy boots would have been perfect for this trip, but I don't really listen to country music or do country things, so I would be a poser if I bought some, haha.

I did splurge on a new dress for the trip (and for other things, too; most of my dresses are sleeveless and I wanted a casual dress with sleeves to wear around town).

I found this dress at Kohl's for $35; more than I normally spend on clothes but it was almost exactly what I was looking for.  I did worry that it was too short; I wish it was maybe two inches longer.

I paired it with some gold teardrop earrings that I borrowed and my tan boots.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Garage Series: Ditch the Toolbox!

To see all of the posts in my garage series, click here.

For years, our tools have been stored in a toolbox.  No compartments, no sections; just a box.  It was really aggravating trying to find a particular screwdriver or wrench, but I didn't want to hang the tools on the wall, nor did I want to pay hundreds of dollars for one of those fancy toolboxes with all of the drawers.

This is the system I decided upon:

This is four sets of two drawer plastic containers, and I am kind of in love with this system.  The tools are sorted, labeled (although if I wanted it to be truly awesome, I would have made labels instead of just writing), and easy to find!

It was a little bit of a cost investment at Lowe's (I can't remember how much, but I think each set of two drawers was $8-$10 maybe?), but to me it was worth the investment.

Here is how I separated our tools and supplies starting in the top left corner and going down:


Hammers, Tape Measure, Rulers, Level


Screwdrivers, Allen Wrenches, Drill Bits



Wire Cutters and Razor Blades/Scrapers


Sandpaper {and supplies for the sander}


Painting Supplies


Electrical Equipment


Automotive

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Crock Pot Chicken and Onions

I have been so excited to share this recipe with y'all!  It is one I adapted from Hubby's grandmother, who is known for her cooking.  Please don't tell her I make it in the crock pot...



Backstory:  This is the recipe Hubby's grandmother has for a hen...Cornish hens.  She also follows the exact same steps in a roaster in the oven overnight.

Yeah...I'm not doing that.  I'm afraid to leave the oven on all night!

I thought I had remembered my mother-in-law doing this in the crock pot, but when I got the recipe from Hubby's grandmother and mentioned the crock pot to her she got all up-in-arms...now she's ok with it after I have done it, but the suggestion took her aback, haha.

The first time I cooked this, I went to the store to get the hens.  The store I went to only carried two-packs and it was $7...I really didn't want to spend that money!  They did have a pack of chicken thighs on sale for $2, though, so I figured I'd give it a shot.

They were fabulous and I have only used chicken thighs since.  It is very versatile and would probably work with any cut of chicken or a hen!

The best part?  Only 4 ingredients and less than 5 minutes to put together!  The chicken doesn't even have to be thawed if you put it in the crock pot the night before!

It is one of Hubby's favorites, was a huge hit at a crock potluck I attended, and my boss loved it the night I cooked it for her.



All you need is a crock pot, an onion, some form of chicken or hen, garlic salt, and 2 cups of water (if you use the hen I don't think you need the water but haven't tried it).


Peel and slice the onion and layer on the bottom of the crock pot.


Add the water on top of the onions.  Cover the front and back of the chicken with garlic salt and rest on top.

I do all of this the night before and put in the refrigerator.  The next morning I start the crock pot and let it cook all day on low...usually about 8 hours.


 At dinner time, you can dip it straight out of the crock pot (the chicken will fall apart).  I don't like all of the onions in my gravy, so I strain those out and set them aside for Hubby.


This is how it is supposed to be eaten, served over rice with all of the meat and onions mixed together.  I didn't take apart the thighs this time.  This is Hubby's plate.


This is how I eat it; with the rice and gravy in a bowl like soup.  SOOOOOOO delicious.  SOOOOOOO easy.  One of my favorite things to cook.

Enjoy!  And don't tell MawMaw it's in the crock pot!

Chicken Thighs and Onion

Ingredients:
One onion
2 c. water
Garlic salt
Chicken Thighs

Directions:

Slice the onion and spread the slices on the bottom of the crock pot.

Add the 2c. of water.

Sprinkle the garlic salt all over the chicken thighs and lay on top.


Cook on low for 8 hours (I do it all day while I’m at work).

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Decorating the Powder Room

Our powder room was one of my most recent things to decorate.  I had two pictures hanging in it, a decorative soap pump, and a small vase sitting on top of the toilet.  That was it.  We have one of those powder rooms where the sink and toilet face each other, and when I was looking for inspiration on Pinterest, most of the powder rooms I found had the toilet and sink side-by-side.  I did find a little inspiration, but was mostly on my own.

The room (and most of the downstairs) was already painted yellow, so I decided to stick with it.


I knew I wanted something more interesting than just a picture above the toilet since there is very little in this room, so I went to Lowe's and found some shelves.  I used a lot of the same principles of balance and layering as I did when I decorated my mantel

Of course there needs to be extra toilet paper, and before I officially decorated this room I had some in a basket on the floor beside the toilet.  

My original idea for the top shelf was to use an empty window frame to anchor the vignette, but had a difficult time finding one that fit my vision.  How do you find those, anyway?  Instead I found this pretty mirror at Homegoods.  At $25, it was more than I had wanted to pay, but I had been scouring the town for a window frame with no luck and was just ready to finish the decorations.

I found the wreath at a thrift store, and it originally had a few white seashells on it.  They were easy to cut off!

I know the mirror is not centered, but I think the total vignette is balanced since the wreath is so much wider than the vase.  It was an intentional decision.


That other thing on the sink is a candle.  I probably should have lit it for the picture; I'm not too great at this staging stuff.  You all get to see what my house always looks like!


This is what you see when you open the door.  I bought those pictures right after we moved in for this space.

I didn't take a picture, but the only things sitting beside the toilet are a nice toilet brush and some air freshener.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Garage Series: Storage

For links to all of the posts in the series, click here.

Ah, storage.  I like to only have things in my house that we use; I do not like having a lot of extra "stuff" to find storage for.  There are several seasonal items (Christmas, anyone?) and old childhood mementos that I keep stored in large bins.  Hubby also has beer brewing equipment that he swore would "pay for itself," yet has only been used once.  Typical.  That and his guitars are just about the only things he has that are "his," though, so I can't argue about it too much.

In a perfect world, All of my bins would either match or be color-coded.  I bought them gradually and as-needed, though, so they vary in size, type, and color.

I also would love to one day have something like these (click the picture to visit the source; the first pin didn't like back to original source so I'm not sure where it is from):

 


At this time, all of my bins are just stacked on the floor.  They are, however, clearly labelled!


The empty space on the peg board normally holds my spring wreaths.


All of these bins are Christmas :-)


These bins hold Spring/Summer seasonal items, Fall/Halloween seasonal items, Camping Equipment, my old mementos and stuffed animals, and Hubby's brewing equipment.


I did buy this plastic shelf to store some other things on.  The dog's jacket, leash, and harness are in the basket on top.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Casual but Nice Outfit: Pink Shirt, Black Blazer, Skinny Jeans, Black Pumps

I attended a birthday girls' night last night at a restaurant.  I wanted to wear a dress but it was too cold!

Again, I apologize for the quality of pictures on my outfit posts; it is hard to take pictures of yourself and they are usually not flattering.




The shirt is just a plain, long-sleeved tee.  I think it is from the juniors section at Belk a few years ago.

I bought my blazer at Ross last year.

The jeans came from a consignment store, but I think were originally Urban Outfitters.

My pumps also came from Ross.

I wore big earrings, so I kept my necklace simple.  It is a special piece that Hubby gave me our first Christmas together.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Garage Series: Yard Equipment

Just like my closet series, I have few words for my garage series.  I feel like pictures are more helpful.

If you want a list of organizing tips that I use for pretty much all of the spaces in my home, here are my Top 3 Organizing Tips!


I made good use of the pegboard to hang rakes, shovels, the edger, our hose (for winter storage), and various garden tools.  You will see on the far left wall I have our extension cords hung.  There is also a rack that holds the smaller tools like the leaf blower and hedge trimmer.


I also have a shelf that holds unused pots, the sprinkler, our work gloves, fertilizer, weed killer, etc.

As usual, I try to only keep the tools and supplies that we actually use!  

The Garage Series


Here is a panoramic picture of my garage.  We were fortunate when we moved in that it was already equipped with pegboards and three long shelves.  I recently re-organized the garage around the new year and added some "decorations" (aka Hubby's posters and stuff that I didn't want in the house...).

I divided it into sections the way I always do when I organize something.  Throughout the next few weeks, I will write posts with details about each section.

Sports Equipment

Not everything is perfect, because we actually use them and when Hubby puts things back (like his dumbbells), he doesn't have the eye for neatness like I do.  This is what our garage always looks like; it is not staged for the blog!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Oreo Pudding Cups



I love the chocolate-pudding-in-a-graham-cracker-crust pie.  Super simple and quick!

When I was thinking about a dessert for Valentine's Day, I wanted to do something fast and easy, so I thought up this variation.

The ingredients I had made four cups, so I made two in bowls for us to eat that day, and two in plastic containers to save for another day.


First, crush the oreos.


Prepare the instant pudding per package directions, but do not allow to set.


Layer the oreo crumbs in the bottom of each bowl.


Pour the pudding mix on top of the oreos.  


Cover and put in refrigerator to allow the pudding to set.


This is what it looks like from the side!


When you are ready to serve, add some whipped cream on top.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

March Money Plan

For February:

February was supposed to be a good money month.  It ended up being a month I would like to forget (money-wise).  We had so many unexpected expenses that we had to dip into our savings.

End of Month:   $594.64 over budget.  Not counting about $900 worth of unusual expenses.

It was so frustrating because a lot of the extra expenses were out of our control.


  • The dog split a nail, so we had a $120 vet bill.
  • We ended up owing taxes...$397.  Plus almost $80 for tax prep software and an extra state.  I didn't include that in the budget since it was an unusual, once a year expense.  I'll be getting about $80 back from the two states combined (to offset the cost of the tax software...)
  • I wrecked my car into a pole and had a $500 deductible to fix it.  I also did not include this expense in the budget since it was an "emergency fund" purchase.
  • We paid $140 for Hubby's tux for a wedding he is in in April.
  • I had to pay the second half of my new phone.
  • It is still winter, so the gas bill was absolutely ridiculous:  $242.  I took steps to lower it this month (closed vents and doors to unused rooms, reprogrammed the thermostat), and it went down by $55
  • I spent $177 to put two new tires on my car.
  • We also spent too much on groceries.
I am so tired of seeing red.  This accountability on this blog is not doing much except embarrassing me!


Progress:

September:  $1,024.55 over budget
October:  $271.72 over budget
November:  $1,037.86 over budget
December:  Quit keeping up...
January:  $152.18 over budget (not counting the $490 I spent on the Disney trip)
February: $594.64 over budget (not counting $900 from savings for federal taxes and car deductible)

March's Plan

Our expected unusual expenses for March:
  • Bachelorette weekend trip to Nashville
  • Spa Day ($100 but may cancel.  I feel bad because it was supposed to be a thing with our resident spouse group and only two of us are going...)
  • The U.S. National Figure Skating Championships are going to be in North Carolina next January, so I think I may go ahead and buy a ticket for it.  My birthday was March 1, so I'm going to put the money I received toward my ticket, though, so I'm not going to include it in the budget.  
Hopefully that will be all?

Monday, March 3, 2014

March Meal Plan

Wow...I absolutely didn't intend on taking February off from the blog.  I wrote one post in February.  I just couldn't really get inspired to take pictures or write about anything!

I am back, though, and have a plan for three posts a week for all of March, including a garage organization series.

My first post this month is to share my March Meal Plan; I once again planned the entire month.

When I meal plan, I come up with 4 meals per week.  Two of those meals include leftovers, and that leaves one night for eating out.  I vary easy meals with more time-consuming ones, but I do not specify a day for each meal; I put the meat out a day ahead with the next day's plan in mind.  It is very flexible.

This month my boss (I'm a nanny) is having a second baby, so I will be putting in a lot of extra hours to help her out after her C-section.  With that in mind, I planned a lot of quick and easy meals, especially in the second week of the month.


March Meal Plan

March 2-8

1. Hamburger steak with gravy, rice, green beans
2. Pesto chicken topped with tomato and mozzarella, mashed potatoes, salad
4. Chicken alfredo, garlic roasted green beans

March 9-15

1. Santa Fe Bean Soup (I really tweak this recipe to fit my taste)
2. Homemade pizza (sauce recipe), salad
3. Ritz cracker chicken, mashed potatoes, roasted green beans and squash
4. Chicken casserole, salad

March 16-22 

{I am out of town the weekend of the 22nd, so I have a lot of easy meals for Hubby to heat up}

1. Crock pot chicken thighs and onions, rice, green beans
2. Chicken parmesan, spaghetti, salad
3. Stir fry (make enough for leftovers)
4. Leftover taco soup (frozen leftovers from last week)
5. Frozen pizza

March 23-29

1. Beef pasta (Hamburger Helper from scratch), green beans
2. Oven ranch chicken, hash brown casserole, salad
3. Mozzarella tomato sauce pork chops, creamy garlic pasta, salad
4. Wraps, chips