Wednesday, April 30, 2014

May's Dinner Plan

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.

May's Meal Plan

Hubby goes on nights, so I tried to plan meals that would be easy to get ready by 5:00 pm so we can eat dinner together before he goes in at 6:00 pm (or that would be easy to heat up if he wants "dinner" when he gets home in the morning).  My boss is on maternity leave so , while I still keep her kids a little, they don't need me as much, so I only work two days a week until she goes back at the end of this month (which will help with preparing early dinners!).

May 4-10

3. Chicken strips baked in Dale's sauce, roast potatoes, salad
4. Sausage, potatoes au gratin, green beans
5. Grilled chicken, squash, leftover potatoes au gratin

May 11-17

2. Crock pot pulled pork, fries
3. Hamburger steak with gravy, rice, green beans
4. Stir fry

May 18-24

1. Baked fish (doused in Old Bay seasoning), roast potatoes, roast green beans
2. Spaghetti, salad
3. Oven ranch chicken, garlic herb rice, green beans
4. Taco soup

May 25-31

1. Crock pot chicken and onions, rice, green beans
2. Chicken parmesan, spaghetti, salad
3. Panko parmesan parsley crusted pork chops, cheesy bacon potato rounds, lima beans
4. Ham steak, roast potatoes, leftover lima beans

Monday, April 28, 2014

Projects, Projects, Projects!

Holy moly...I am S.O.R.E!!!!

I mentioned one project (the end of the driveway) that we had begun to work on.  Hubby is on a less time-intensive rotation so last weekend he was all gung-ho about doing all of these outdoor projects.  I wasn't fooled.  I knew I would be the one they fell to.  This past week has been consumed with yard work.  I got out in the yard when I got home from work last week, and have worked all day every day since Friday.

I am almost done!

Now, the lawn itself still looks bad (weeds, bare patches, etc.)

The areas where we ripped out the bushes needs grass planted (we have the seed and fertilizer; we just need to bring in some topsoil to plant it).

Last week's projects:

  • Rip out bushes at the end of the driveway
  • Find something to do with all of the darn brick chips
  • Level out the ground and bury the remaining rocks around the mailbox
  • Repurpose larger rocks to create a small flower bed around mailbox
  • Sand and repaint mailbox post and front porch railings
  • Wash exterior of living room windows
  • Wash garage door and windows
  • Wash vinyl pickett fence in back yard
  • Weed remaining rock beds in the side yard and back yard
  • Repurpose bricks to create a border around back rock bed
  • Plant flowers in back rock bed
  • Plant shrubs in side rock bed
  • Transplant azalea from front yard to back yard
  • Plant containers on back deck
  • Repurpose stepping stones in back yard to create a patio at the bottom of the deck stairs? {edit:  not happning, haha.}
Whew!  I feel like I am still leaving something off the list.  

We have spent a decent amount of money on plants (mostly perennials so I only have to buy them once!), topsoil, and grass seed, but there were a lot of items already in the yard that I was able to repurpose in other areas.

My arms and shoulders are so sore, but it is so worth it.  

I can't wait to share pictures of everything we have done (but will wait until the grass grows, haha).

Friday, April 25, 2014

Casual Spring Outfit: Yellow Shirt, Blue Scarf, and Skinny Jeans

Whoa!  I just realized this is my 100th published post!

I have never tried to pull off yellow until this year when I finally bought this shirt and a nice pale yellow sundress.  I kind of like it!  

I bought the scarf at H&M last year.
I bought the shirt at Goodwill!
I bought the jeans for $12 at a consignment store.
The shoes came from Kohl's a few years ago.

I am wearing some short dangle pearl earrings that came in a set with a (fake) pearl necklace, also from a consignment store.

I think it is bright, happy, and spring-like!

Please excuse the unmade bed; Hubby is on nights so he was getting in bed as I was taking these pictures.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Simple Flower Bed

When we moved into our home last June, the yard looked rough.  (Although, who am I kidding, our yard still looks rough!).  Our current project is pulling out the bushes at the end of the driveway, removing all of the darn small landscaping rocks a previous owner decided were awesome, and plant grass and redo the mailbox.

My first yard project, though, was to redo the flower bed directly in front of the house.

Now, I am absolutely not a gardener.  I don't know much about plants or landscaping and try to find plants that are difficult to kill.

This is what the yard looked like when we bought it:

I pulled out both of the rosemary bushes on either side of the garage, planted some smaller bushes in front of the holly hedge, and added some flowers.  This is what it looked like after my first overhaul last June:

(Since then I have also taken out the hideous plant on the far right of the house).

Everything is still there except for, obviously, the annuals in the very front, so that is all I had to replant this year.  The lilies are looking pretty good, and the bushes in front of the holly are a little bigger so they look better now.  The only thing that looks rough are my gardenias on either side of the steps.  Does anybody have any tips for growing healthy gardenias?

This spring I have replanted my flower bed and added a couple of containers to my porch.

I used snapdragons and pansies in the flower bed.  (Yes, I know the right light is taller; it is broken and I can't get it further down.  I should probably replace it...)

I am not sure what these containers are made of.  They were in the back yard flanking the back gate where nobody could see them when we moved in.  I cleaned them up and planted them!  I also used packing peanuts for the bottom half to promote drainage and make them lighter.  I planted geraniums and marigolds in them.

We still have a lot of work to put into our yard.  I am trying to win a backyard makeover from the DIY network it is so bad, haha!  One project at a time, though.  Right now, like I said, our project is the end of the driveway.  Then I'll tackle the side of the house, and finally try to maybe do something to the back yard?  If I could only find someone to remove all of the rocks we'd be in great shape.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Spring Cleaning

Whew!  I have had a busy week!  We got back home around 7 pm Monday night after being out of town for seven days, so I had a lot of catching up to do as far as laundry went.  Then I decided to begin my spring cleaning.

I read another blog (I'm sorry I can't remember which one) where the blogger talked about not doing traditional top-to-bottom spring cleaning because she cleans things when they get dirty.  I have to say I agree with that.  For example, I clean my air return vents when I replace my air filter.  I cleaned my refrigerator a few weeks ago.  I am not doing those again so soon just for the sake of "spring cleaning."  My big cleaning is actually at the end of the year because I like to begin a new year with everything as spotless as possible.

However, I decided to clean things that rarely get done, so this week I have been working on those around work and seeing Hubby (he is on a rotation that is not as time-intensive right now and I am taking advantage of it).

So if I don't clean my house top-to-bottom, what have I been doing all week?

  • I took bleach, Comet, and a toothbrush to the grout surrounding my bath tub. 
  • I deep cleaned the bathrooms (even though this gets done weekly, I went ahead and did it after cleaning the tub).
  • I took shoes off the closet floor so I could sweep under them.
  • I vacuumed under the bed and swept under furniture.
  • I washed our comforter, all of our curtains, place mats, tablecloths, and rugs.  I also washed the throw pillows from the couch, but stuffed it too full and one of them ripped beyond repair.  Oops...)
  • I vacuumed the upholstery on the couches and chairs (this also gets done periodically from all of the darn pet hair...)
  • I took a Magic Eraser to the wall in the sunroom that still hadn't been cleaned since we moved in (there was crayon from the previous owners on the wall).
  • I swept and mopped.  And again.  And am still finding dirt and pet hair.  It is horrible.  I bought an old-fashioned mop because I don't feel like my Swiffer WetJet gets it clean enough.
  • I cleaned the baseboards as I mopped!
  • I detailed my car (after taking the pets and a trip to a dirt road in the country, it was filthy).
As I was cleaning the floor for the final time, I realized I forgot to clean the ceiling fans.  Those are going to have to get done another time because I am not redoing the areas below them.

This weekend I hope to get the exterior windows washed.  Wish me luck.

Since Hubby is home more, he has been going into the yard and listing several things he wants to do that require both a lot of time and money.  And, of course, will all fall to me if they get done at all because in 2 1/2 weeks he goes on nights and won't be able to complete them.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Mexican Rice

One of my absolute favorite foods is that delicious rice you get at Mexican restaurants.  I scoured the web for recipes and created my own from the ideas.  This recipe is delicious!  It is not an authentic Mexican recipe, but to me it tastes like the rice that comes from my favorite Mexican restaurant!

Mexican Rice

  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced (OR 1 tsp. garlic powder) can use less but I love garlic :-)
  • 1/2 an onion (optional; I usually do not include this)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 8 oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. dried parsley

If using onion, saute in the olive oil until soft.  Add the rice and minced garlic (if using garlic powder save for later) and mix together.

Add the chicken broth, tomato sauce, garlic powder (if not using minced garlic), salt, and parsley.  Bring to a boil, then simmer and cook until liquid is absorbed and rice is soft.

Enjoy with your favorite Mexican dish!

I cooked mine for fajitas this time.  Yum yum!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Casual Outfit: Colorful Shirt with White Shorts

Brace yourselves; the weather is getting warmer so you will be seeing my white shorts a LOT!  In the summer I practically live in them.

Last week the temperature rose into the 80s.  I didn't realize it was summer yet?  Once again, I broke the white-before-Memorial-Day rule, and I don't care.  If it feels like summer, I am going to dress like it is summer!

I hit the thrift stores earlier this week looking for more colorful short sleeved tops.  I have a lot of sleeveless shirts, and a lot of blue short sleeved shirts, and I have a lot of solid-color short sleeved shirts, but I was looking for more spring colors (yellow, coral, and colorful patterns).

I'll say this top that I found for $6 is a colorful pattern!  It is such a break from what I normally wear, and I love it!  The other day I wore it with skinny jeans.

The shorts came from the juniors' section at Dillard's for $20 a couple of years ago and were a great buy since I wear them all the time.

My shoes were from a consignment store.  I usually don't buy used shoes, but these had the tags on them and were new in the box.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Garage Series: Sports Equipment

This is the final post in my garage series.  See all of the posts here.

The closet in our future baby room was inundated with Hubby's things when we moved in.  His old computer, guitar equipment, golf clubs, and dumbbells were all through haphazardly on the floor.  It drove me nuts.

When I became a nanny, I dug through my classroom closet to pull out useful craft items and toys, and began our future child's closet (for the record, I am not pregnant; just like to organize and plan ahead!).  Now I have easy access to toys and books when I keep the girl at my house.

So what happened to all of Hubby's stuff?

I used the already-installed peg board to hang tennis rackets, ball gloves, frisbees, and the jump rope.

I really wanted to hang Hubby's golf clubs out here but didn't think he would like that very much.

I bought the shelf at Lowe's and used baskets I had used in my classroom to organize golf balls and tennis balls.  Wraps and support braces are in the middle container beside Hubby's cleats and golf shoes.

The weights used to be neat but Hubby doesn't put them back that way.  At least they have a home now.

I hope some of the ideas I use in my garage inspire you in your own!  Thanks for reading!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Medical Mondays: Preparing for Upper Level Residency

Hubby is deep into intern year with his worst rotations to come.  April and May are going to be horrendous for both him and me:  a week of nights in the ED, followed by night float, followed by MICU (which also includes a week of nights).  I am so dreading this stretch, especially since the weather is going to be nice, things are going on around town, and I am going to want him to do things with me.  

There is light at the end of the tunnel, though.

A few weeks ago the chiefs sent the interns all of the possible "tracks," or schedules, for the next two years of our lives.  We had to look at the twelve options for his clinic group and rank them.

This is what the spreadsheet looked like:

It was so hard for me to wrap my head around this to rank schedules for two years, so I color-coded it:

I know it is hard to read on the blog because I had to shrink it, but when it is printed it takes up two pages in landscape format.  You get the gist, though.

I also added a third page for notes- how many Q4 call (30 hours overnight every four days) rotations, which outpatient clinic, and any other notes.

I cut them out, taped them together, and got to work.

Everyone said when making the upper-level schedules to look at where you want vacation first.  We don't have any specific plans yet, so that wasn't as necessary for us.

These were the criteria I looked at:
  • Rheumatology, Endocrinology, and Hospitalist before Christmas (he still doesn't know what he wants to ultimately practice, so he needs early exposure to these top three options so he can begin working on a fellowship application)
  • Start with something not as demanding (after the end of this year, he needs a breather!)
  • Fewer MICU (some of the rotations had 4 critical care--MICU and CCU--so we looked for ones with only three, and preferably only one of those being MICU)
  • Try to keep vacation away from a holiday
  • He wanted one outpatient clinic over another
  • Consider what he would be on for holidays
  • Attempt to plan for a baby?

I analyzed this schedule for three hours before making the rank list.

Some were easy to rule out:  tracks with four critical care blocks, no hospitalist service, and beginning the year with night float were no-goes.

Fortunately, he got his number one choice.  None of the tracks were ideal; they all had elements that are unappealing.  However, since he is still undecided, we had to get one with his top three rotations early and only one of those fulfilled that.

He only has three critical care months, but two of those are MICU.

It doesn't have the outpatient clinic he wanted.

He is on MICU over the holidays, but will have a week off for holiday vacation.  

Supposedly being an upper-level is head and shoulders better than intern year.

I tell Hubby all the time when he gets down that intern year is supposed to be the worst year of a doctor's life.  I have to remind him that being on the wards in residency still doesn't indicate what he is going to be doing forever and ever!  

Intern year hasn't been as bad as I was expecting.  Getting towards the end and all of his most difficult and time-intensive rotations is starting to wear on us (and all of the interns, I'm sure).  

At least he's not OB/GYN or General Surgery...

Three more blocks...

We can do it!

It gets better, right?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Chicken Parmesan

One of my favorite dishes is chicken parmesan, so a few years ago I went searching for an easy recipe.  I found one that involved broiling and it was a disaster (is it bad that I proclaim to be a good cook yet can't broil?).  From looking at all of the recipes, I figured out the basics of a good chicken parm and have been cooking it ever since.

It is one of Hubby's most-requested dishes.

The recipe I came up with only feeds the two of us, but it is very easy to double/triple, etc. to feed more people!

For the breading, you need one egg beaten, 1/4 c. parmesan cheese, 1/4 c. bread crumbs (Italian bread crumbs are especially yummy), and salt and pepper.  Yes, that is only one chicken breast for two people!

Beat the egg in a bowl and combine the parmesan and bread crumbs in another.  I trim the chicken and slice the breast in half horizontally.  You definitely may use an entire breast for each person, but I do this to save money (and I don't eat an entire breast, anyway).  Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken.

Dip the chicken in the egg.

Coat the chicken with the bread crumb mixture.

Heat about 1 Tbsp. of olive oil in a pan and let chicken cook just long enough to make the crust brown and crispy.

Transfer the chicken to a sprayed baking dish.  For the topping you will need a jar of marinara sauce (for two people I only use 1/2 a jar, and most of that goes on the spaghetti) and some shredded mozzarella cheese.

Top the chicken with a few spoonfuls of marinara sauce and as much mozzarella cheese as you want.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes.

While it is baking, I cook some spaghetti noodles, drain, and coat with the rest of the marinara sauce.

I usually pair this dish with a salad or green beans.

Chicken Parmesan

Ingredients (for two people; simply double to feed four!)

  • 1 or 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 egg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 c. parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 c. Italian or regular bread crumbs
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 jar of marinara sauce
  • shredded mozarella cheese
  • cooked spaghetti

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Trim and slice your chicken breast if using just one.  Season with salt and pepper.  

Beat the egg in one bowl and combine the parmesan and bread crumbs in another bowl.

Dip chicken in the egg mixture, then coat with the bread crumb mixture.

Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a pan on medium high.  Cook chicken long enough on both sides to make the crust brown and crispy (about 3-4 minutes per side).

Transfer chicken to a sprayed baking dish.  Top with a few spoonfuls of marinara sauce (save the rest for the pasta) and mozzarella cheese.

Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Cook spaghetti noodles, drain, and coat with the rest of the marinara sauce.

Serve with a vegetable and enjoy!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Garage Series: Tools and Projects

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

These three shelves were here when we moved in!

Items are simply grouped by type:  paint, automotive, tools, and glues/home improvement.

The top shelf holds boxes to our items that need original boxes when moving and drop cloths.

The middle shelf holds paint, the empty toolbox that Hubby can't get rid of, my fishing tackle box (because I do so much fishing, haha), and automotive oils/fluids/etc.

The bottom shelf holds handheld power tools (the sander, grinder, and drills), my new "toolbox," hardware, and various spackle and glues.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Money Plan

For March:

End of Month:   $577.85 over budget.  
  • Our natural gas bill is still high.
  • I still went $84 over my shopping budget.
  • Only $18 over on groceries...
  • Went slightly over eating out and gas (but I had a lot of extra gas to go to Nashville).
  • Spent way too much on beer and wine.
I don't know what to say.  Maybe I should increase our budget since I obviously can't stick to it?  I may quit these posts because they don't seem to be helping me to be accountable...


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:  $577.85 over budget

April's Plan

Our expected unusual expenses for April:
  • Hubby is going to a bachelor party in Asheville
  • We are traveling to Georgia for a wedding