Thursday, March 24, 2011

What I'm Loving Friday!

I've been waiting for an opportunity to share the good news...after hours and hours of study and toil, my husband has passed the first part of the CPA exam! Can I get a Amen? A Hallelujah? A yes, Lord? Glory! I'm sooo proud of him. Now, if we can do as well on the next three sections.

*wish I had a picture of his hunky self wearing a proud smile, but my PC has decided it doesn't read memory cards anymore.

I'm lovin' it!!

On a lighter note...

When it comes to my kids, I'm a clothes freak. And when it comes to Easter, I love the opportunity to deck them all out in matching ensembles. After perusing the in-store options this year, I didn't see anything that I just loved. Then I saw this pillowcase dress on Etsy. I'm thinking I can dress it up with a big flower headband and ruffled socks.

And then there's this coordinating bowtie, also found on Etsy. And it comes with matching suspenders! Bowtie, suspenders, and newsboy hat for Elijah? Hmm...

Check out this headboard made out of ceiling tiles. Swoon. Would love to try this. Discarded ceiling tiles anyone?

And...we've been searching and searching for some affordable puppets to use in our Children's Church. We found these cuties on ebay for $20.00. We're so excited! The kids are gonna love them!

And last, but not least, I'm lovin' my new dining room table. Again, I am disappointed that I cannot post pictures. I got a steal of a deal on a 9 ft. table with 6 chairs at a consignment salethe other day. Our table was in sad disrepair but we hadn't even considered replacing it because we didn't think we could afford it. We found this at an awesome price, and I like it even better than my old one. God knows our needs before we even ask, doesn't he?

Has anything caught your eye lately?

All In A Day....Meal Planning

Oh, what would I do without my menu plan? Based on my life prior to using a plan, I would be standing in the kitchen at 4:00, scratching my head and wondering what to make for supper. I'd be calling my husband saying, "Watcha feelin' like eatin' tonight?" And he'd either say, "Oh, I don't know" (being no help at all) or "Let's have squash casserole and that chicken dish you made last month" (being no help at all again because I 'm fresh out of cream of mushroom soup and french fried onions). I'd run to the store and spend way too much money, because I wouldn't just pick up a can of cream of mushroom soup, but I'd also pick up a pair of cute sandals on sale for $5 and a pound of peaches because they look so good and a dozen Krispy Kremes because I'm starving and who doesn't want a doughnut this close to suppertime?

With my menu plan stuck to the fridge, I can call him and say, "Watcha feelin' like eatin' tonight? Here are your options." And he can choose from the 5 supper plans I have listed. What man doesn't like options?

For the sake of your sanity and your bank account, and your waistline I cannot stress enough the importance of making a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly menu plan.

See my post here on how I plan and grocery shop.

We have gotten smarter about our grocery shopping since I wrote that post, mainly due to advice given by Angela from The Grocery Shrink. If you are looking for ways to cut your spending, this lady knows her grocery stores. She's got some skills, y'all.

We are currently working on creating a spread sheet that lists the prices of items we most commonly buy, by store, so we can check an item that is advertised to be on sale, and know which store offers the best deal. Just last week, I sat down and numbered a page to 60, and brainstormed for 60 different suppertime meals (I've only come up with about 45 so far), so when it is time to plan my weekly menu, I can see those meals and try to work with what I already have on hand.

Since my chilluns are a little bit bigger, I don't feel so confined to just go to Wal-Mart. We're broadening our horizons and our money-saving potential :).

Here are a couple of my favorite quick, delicious meals:

Sour Cream Chicken
(not for the faint of calorie):
4 chicken breasts (amount will vary depending on your family size)
1 can cream of mushroom
1/2 cup sour cream
1 pkg french fried onions

Place chicken breasts in a casserole dish with one tsp of butter dolloped on top of breast. Put in oven and bake at 350 until chicken is done. Mix cream of mushroom and sour cream and spread on top of chicken. Put back in oven until mixture has created a bubbling gravy. Remove, spread french fried onions (about 1/2 pkg) over chicken. Serve over rice or potatoes and with your favorite veggie.

Italian Chicken
Chicken breasts (however many you need for family size)
Container of spaghetti sauce
Mozzarella cheese

Place chicken in crock pot (frozen) and pour spaghetti sauce over liberally. We use our own homemade sauce made from our own homegrown tomatoes. Cook for on low for about 3 hours, or less if chicken is thawed. When chicken is done, sprinkle with mozzarella and serve over rice or whole wheat noodles and with your favorite veggie.

This is a great dish for Sundays. You can put your chicken in before church and pour the sauce on when you get home, allowing to simmer while you prepare your veggies and rice.

Yep, we like chicken.

I would to take this moment to say:

I love blogland.

Thank you, bloggers for sharing you wisdom, insight, ideas, and inspiration. This girl would be fumbling around in the dark in so many areas if not for you wonderful women who are willing to bare your soul and share the nitty-gritty facts of your life with us all. Wow.

p.s. How do you like my colors and fonts and such? I just noticed the "Compose" tab up there in the draft section. What fun! Yeah...duh. :)

Now head on over to the other All in a Day Bloggers to see what they are making so quick!
Carrie @ Our Full House

Christi @ Where the Creek Meets the Lake

Elizabeth @ Yes They're All Ours

Kathy @ Kathy Mom of Many

Kristy @ Homemaker's Cottage

Lori @ Happy Busy Mama

Monica @ Natural Mama

Renee @ Bakers Dozen

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring Cleaning, anyone?

It's that time again. Wash, wash. Scrub, scrub. Clean, clean. Chunk, chunk (as in, the junk).

The first day of spring has officially come, and gone (March 20), and time is swiftly passing. With this realization, I found myself in quandary as to how I might accomplish this year's cleaning. Last year, I did not go into any serious, in-depth cleaning and this year, with the added factor of daily homeschooling, it just isn't realistic to expect to tackle the cleaning and finish it in a week.

But it must be done. We hope to put our house up for sale by mid-summer, and with God's help have it sold by fall (hopeful) or the end of the year (more realistic). With this looming deadline for motivation, combined with a deep need to have things clean and orderly, I have purposed to scour each room from floor to ceiling, wash curtains, and air out mattresses.

At first, the thought seemed impossible and left me with a throbbing headache. How in the world? I already get up between 5:30-6:30 each morning, hit the ground running, and fall into bed by 10:00, on a good night. I have deleted my Facebook account and greatly reduced my blogging (in case you haven't noticed) in order to eliminate "idle" time and make better use of my day. Each minute is precious and we cannot afford to waste any of it. And has anyone else noticed that since the time change time has flown even faster? It feels like it's 4:00 and it's 7:00. Eek!

Back to my point--I knew that if I was to get anything beyond the daily feed-the-kids-clean-the-kitchen-sweep-the-floor-now-it's-time-to-do-it-again mantra done, it must be strategically planned. So I made a plan. I scheduled my spring cleaning.

An hour a day. I don't know about you other busy homeschooling, church-working, child-rearing, husband-pleasing Moms, but that is all this one has to spare. An hour a day for 3 bedrooms, a living room, a den, a laundry room, a kitchen, a foyer, and two bathrooms (one which is still waiting to be remodeled {going on 3 years in progress} and is riddled with sheetrock dust and debris), plus cabinets, closets, and pantries (I have two) adds up to TEN WEEKS of spring cleaning. It will be two weeks into May before I get it done, but you know what, it will be done. Unless any of my super-duper, energetic, hyper-active cleaning machine aunts want to come spend a week in Louisiana and help knock it out (hint, hint).

I broke down each room into a couple of do-able tasks a day, in hopes that it will be finished in 5 days (5 hours).

Week 1: Master Bathroom (I consider this my biggest, baddest dirty job)
*Monday--Pick up debris, sweep, clean out garden tub frame (so said tub can be placed inside frame).

*Tuesday--Clean off vanity (has become a storage place for a variety of tools, nails, and male DIY paraphernalia--or where I come from, para-fer-nail-yer) :)

*Wednesday--Vanity cabinets (also full of para-fer)

*Thursday--Clean toilet and shower (YIKES). I'll check in after so you'll know I'm still alive.

*Friday--wipe down walls, window, and mop

Did I mention that my front porch also needs to be sprayed down, decluttered, and repainted? Come quickly, Lord! :)

If you were to come visit my home--please do, I love company--you would see that I am not a clean-freak, by far. I do believe in keeping things tidy, but at this point in my life, I would rather keep myself available to my too-swiftly-growing children than stressing about the windows being washed. When they are grown and gone, there will be plenty of time to scour the sink and wipe out the fridge.

Is there any certain special way that you manage your spring cleaning? I would love to hear some of your wise advice and tips :).

p.s.--If you're a reader who does not have a blogger account, you can still leave comments by choosing "anonymous" and then sign your name in the comment body. I am frequently surprised by someone telling me they read--please leave me a comment and let me know you are reading and what you think!