Our Menu, 8/31

Um… where did August go?!?

We’ve had an awesome “foodie” weekend!  Friday night we served homemade ice cream and desserts to 60+ guests in our backyard after the football scrimmage.  (I made Butterfinger and vanilla ice cream.)  We attended Lance’s 20 year high school reunion picnic in the park Saturday night, and my annual family reunion cookout today.  (Sixty-eight people, swimming, games, burgers/chicken/brawtwurst = so much fun!!!)  I love potluck meals; especially when talented cooks share their favorite dishes.  Lance isn’t much of a salad eater, but I enjoy them, so I get to feast on all sorts of interesting salads at family cookouts.  Yum!

Here’s what we’re eating this week.

Sunday, 8/31

  • homemade granola  (we skipped our usual big brunch in anticipation of eating lots of food the rest of the day… we were not disappointed!)
  • I don’t know exactly what Lance and the kids ate, but here’s what I remember eating at the cookout:  grilled chicken, potato casserole, potato salad, cucumber salad, chili cornbread salad, frog-eye salad (yummy little pasta balls), a deviled egg, ranch pasta salad, and a piece of Skor cake.  Oh, and maybe a pecan tart… and lots of appetizers.  (Please… anyone else out there willing to admit that they like to sample nearly everything???)  I made the Chili Cornbread Salad and Skor cake.  Those leftovers will not be a part of our menu this week because, well, there are none.   
  • Um… I won’t be eating supper tonight  😉 
Cornbread Salad

Cornbread Salad

** The picture is from Taste of Home, but this salad really does turn out that pretty!**

Monday, 9/1  Happy Labor Day!  No school today, so everyone’s home to eat.

  • waffles, bacon, scrambled eggs
  • banana/strawberry/orange slush, sandwiches
  • sloppy joes, baked beans, carrot sticks, deviled eggs

Tuesday through Friday Suppers

  • black bean quesadillas (I like to add a diced chicken breast to the mixture for supper) with lettuce/tomato/sour cream, pears
  • homemade pizza, fresh fruit
  • chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, grean beans (Third time’s a charm, right?  I’ve had this on my menu for three weeks now…) 
  • leftovers or sandwiches before the first football game of the season!

Saturday, 9/6

  • sausage and ham breakfast casserole, cinnamon rolls, apples and dip  (I’m feeding the football team, as I do every Saturday morning during the season.)
  • loaded black bean nachos, smoothies
  • clean out the fridge

Have a great week, everyone!  Check out more menus over at Organizing Junkie!

It’s Not a Bargain if You Don’t Need It

I love a good bargain. When I enter a store, any store, I delight in discovering all things CLEARANCE.

Before we moved to Tiny Town, I was a bargain shopper extraordinaire. I’d hit all the sales. Frequently. I did lots of shopping, but spent very little money (on each individual item). And I had lots of stuff to show for it. Some of it useful. Some of it even needed. But a lot of it… just clearanced stuff.

I’d order an item on clearance, and when it arrived… it might not be exactly what I’d hoped for, or it wouldn’t fit just right, or *gasp* it looked better on the model than on me. But I wouldn’t send it back, because paying for shipping would be more than my refund! So my stuff collection grew.

Things are different now. More children. Less time. Bigger house. Tiny town. Fewer stores. Fewer bargains. Less shopping…

…simpler life… in some ways. Definitely in shopping ways. I’m working hard to rid my home of useless clutter, even if it was a bargain. (And even if it was given to us!) I don’t need 15 pairs of shoes, even if I purchased each of them for under $10. It adds up! I want the simple pleasure of knowing that the items we have were purchased for a good deal and for a good purpose. I desire a purpose for my purchase!

I still have my “gift stash” (of course!) in the basement that I absolutely couldn’t be without. I still pounce on any men’s size 14 shoes that I see for under $30, because size 14 shoe bargains don’t come along every day (or every year) and size 14 shoes are very much needed by an important man in my home. I’m still drawn to the clearance racks and shelves, and I still purchase what we need from them.

My frugal tip this week: while the bargain still beckons… it’s just not a bargain if you don’t need it.

Visit Biblical Womanhood for more Frugal Friday!

Major Tragedy — Please Pray!

As I was blog surfing this morning, I came across this information about Marsha’s family. I don’t know this family at all, but they just lost their 3 year old son. I have a precious 3 year old son of my own and I just can’t stop crying. Can’t imagine what they must be going through. Please, please pray for them.

I really want to stop everything today and just hold on to my kids…

** I just found this.

Veggie Ice Pack

During the making supper before a tiny-people riot breaks out rush this afternoon, I was assaulted with the wailing and gnashing of teeth of a sweet little someone who had been in his room carefully putting away all of his toys and making his bed jumping off of his dresser onto his unmade bed. He missed. He fell. He needed an ice pack for his owie.

I didn’t have time to look for an ice pack, (and I’m not too sure I could have found one anyway) so I reached for our “back up.”

It was cold. It calmed him down. It saved the day. It was a partial bag of frozen peas.

And as I finished up supper preparations, my resourceful children had themselves a little snack. 😉

So, in the event that a sweet little someone in your house has jumped off of his dresser and scraped his leg on his bed, or, um… even if there is a serious bang up of some sort and you really could use an ice pack — NOW — reach for the frozen veggies! It works for me!  Visit Rocks in my Dryer for more WFMW.

A Well-Stocked Freezer (Part 1)

With the start of the school year and the unseasonably cool weather we’ve had (70s and 80s in August… in Kansas… never!) my culinary thoughts are turning to comfort food. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed our light, fresh produce-filled summer meals, but I’m ready to get back to baking and stocking my freezers with casseroles, meatballs, breads, sweet treats and soup.

A freezer well-stocked with baked goods and meals comes in handy in many ways:

  • to serve to unexpected guests
  • to share a treat when you become an unexpected guest (what a fun reason to visit an elderly neighbor)
  • to pop supper in the oven or warm in the microwave on crazy days when you must sacrifice either your meal plan or your sanity… or your children 😉
  • to give as a last minute gift (see, I didn’t forget your birthday!)
  • to bless others in an emergency (death in the family, hospitalization of family member, surgery)
  • to bless others during pregnancy or after the arrival of a new baby
  • for a quick heat-and-eat lunch when you need to get out the door (our version of fast food)
  • Good food fast - Pigs in a Blanket

    Good food fast - Pigs in a Blanket

  • to take to friends who are moving, or to welcome new neighbors
  • and now that my daughter is in school… to have on hand for last minute school treats that Mommy just found out about two minutes ago (surely that will never happen to me)

My kitchen encouragement this week is to stock your freezer. I’ve given you some whys. Next week I’ll show you what I like to keep in my freezer!

For more kitchen tips, visit Tammy’s Recipes.

Generous Family and Friends

… and their food. That’s what I’m thankful for today.

For this… (and so much more just like it)

Generious Garden Goodness

and this…

and all the peaches that I forgot to take pictures of…

and all the fresh farm eggs that my mother-in-law brings when they visit…

and just today as I was standing outside school waiting to pick up my daughter, I noticed Mrs. S (a sweet little library volunteer and substitute teacher) hauling bag after bag of fresh pears into the building. She stopped on one of her trips from the car and asked “Would you please take this?” Um… yeah!!!

I was only wishing that I had brought the wagon so I could “help her out” a little more! (Fresh pear crisp sitting on my oven right now, by the way!)

** I’ve been asked for some pear recipes.  Here are my favorites:  pear crisp, caramel pear crumble, and pecan pear muffins.  Enjoy!

We have been so very blessed this summer with fresh food from family and friends!

Oh, and I’m thankful for my little guy, who brightened my day with this conversation when he saw the pears:

“Yum, Mommy! I wike dat!”

“Yes, you do.”

“Wat is dat?” he asked. (I LOVE how he “wikes” it before he knows what it is 😉 )

“Those are pears.”

“I wike pears!”

And then a few minutes later he kindly asked me if he could have some “parrots” for supper. I love him!

Check out what other bloggers are talkin’ about this Gratituesday.

Menu Plan Monday – 8/24

Is it menu planning time again already?!?  My brother-in-law brought yet another grocery sack of squash, zucchini and cucumbers, and told us the sad news that his garden is for some reason dying… so we will enjoy fresh garden produce one more week!

Sunday, 8/24

  • sausage/egg/cheese scramble, zucchini bread (I went 1/2 wheat, 1/2 white flour and made 4 dozen muffins instead of three loaves of bread), orange juice
  • leftovers, black bean nachos, yogurt
  • cheeseburger pie (didn’t get to this Friday) with lettuce and tomato, summer squash puffs (a fun new way to use up some squash — not terribly healthy, though ;-), pasta salad with cucumbers and tomatoes 

Weekday Suppers

  • 8/25  tator tot casserole (recipe below), fried okra, sliced tomatoes (today is the day for my surgery… prayers requested!)
  • 8/26  zippy turkey tortilla bake, cheesy zucchini crisps
  • 8/27  chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans (didn’t get to this last week) 
  • 8/28  Lance out of town, kids and I will work on some leftovers.
  • 8/29  Booster Club hamburger feed, ice cream social at our house after the football scrimmage (Sometime this week I need to make two freezers of ice cream.  I’m thinking vanilla and Butterfinger, maybe.)

Saturday, 8/30 

Quite an eventful day coming up in Tiny Town.  One of the churches is sponsoring an all-day fundraiser for the Hands of Hope ministry, which serves local families.  There will be food all day with games for the kids, walk/run contests, and a doggy talent show in the park.  Then… we have Lance’s 20 year high school reunion (for all ELEVEN of his classmates and their families) at his home town (even tinier than ours!)  So…  a whole lot of food for very little effort on my part! 

  • Breakfast at the Community Center
  • Lunch in the park (hot dogs and burgers, I think)
  • Picnic in the park for the reunion supper; we are taking our AWESOME baked beans!

Tator Tot Casserole is a busy-day stand by at our house.  It’s super easy to throw together, and the kids love it.  I even sneak in some veggies on occasion.

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • diced onion to taste
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 3 T. milk
  • 1 tsp. worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup peas or can of green beans (optional)
  • shredded cheddar cheese (to taste – optional)
  • frozen tator tots

Brown the ground beef and onion.  Drain.  Mix together cream of mushroom soup, milk, worcestershire sauce, veggies, and cheese.  Add to hamburger and mix well.  Pour beef mixture into a 9×9 pan.  Top with tator tots.  Bake at 375 for 25 minutes, or until bubbly.

Have a great week!  Don’t forget to visit OrgJunkie for lots of inspiring menus!

My $8.34 Cell Phone

In our quest to live below our means and be Happy With What We Have, we have given up several things that society says we need. You don’t have that? How do you get along with out that? Doesn’t everyone have that?!?

And in our frugal journey, one thing that we easily and often observe is how proud adults are of their toys. Especially their technical, digital toys.

We get a big kick out of commercials and their “my cell phone can do more than your cell phone” sales pitch. But what really makes us laugh is that it works! The more buttons the better… sign me up and take my money with you!

Our cell phone costs us $8.34 per month. We only have one cell phone, because we only need one cell phone. We prepay $100 once a year, and then we don’t have to think about it until the next year. We never run out of minutes – in fact, the last time I loaded our minutes we still had a whole year’s worth on there that roll over.

Obviously, we do not use our cell as our home phone. That wouldn’t work for us because…

  • I want a land line for when the electricity goes out. (Our power was out for the majority of 5 days last winter during an ice storm.)
  • We don’t get great cell reception where we live.
  • I want to know where the phone is if ever there is an emergency. (And I don’t want to deal with dead batteries.)
  • I want my children to always have access to the home phone and know where it is if they ever have to call 911.

Here’s the thing. What do you really need your cell phone to do? Actually, let’s talk about what I need my cell phone to do…

  • I need a sense of security when I’m driving alone (or we are driving) with the kids.

Hmmm. That list was shorter than even I thought it would be! I just can’t justify putting the following wants in the needs list… (although I do accomplish all of this with my cell phone)

  • I want my husband to call me if he’s going to be late from a hunting excursion so that I don’t worry.
  • I want to let him know my schedule, if I’m driving home from somewhere.
  • I want to check in with my family once in a while if I’m gone for some reason.
  • I want to call Lance with an addition to the list I’ve given him for an occasional late-night grocery trip. 😉
  • I want our family to be able to contact us if they need to while we’re away from home.
  • I like the convenience of “call me on my cell” when I’m out running errands and want to meet up with my sister somewhere.
  • On the rare occasion that we have a babysitter, I like that I can give her our cell number.

Some things I definitely don’t need or want from my cell phone…

  • I don’t want to be distracted while I’m driving.
  • I don’t need 423 ways for people to contact me. My life is busy enough, thank you very much.
  • I don’t need games, e-mail and whatever else they can add now.

If you’re striving to simplify your life, or live more frugally, or you just can’t justify spending oodles of money on something you don’t need, consider purchasing a prepaid cellphone plan.

For more frugal ideas, visit Biblical Womanhood.

Blessing Others With Food

Blessing families with food is one easy way for me to practice Christian Stewardship. I love to cook and bake, and I love to share food with others. (Just please don’t ask me to clean your house… I’m having a hard enough time keeping up with my own!)

Over at Life as MOM, Fishmama is hosting a recipe swap for a Dish that You Deliver. A meal that I enjoy sharing with others is breakfast casserole and cinnamon rolls or sweet bread (banana, zucchini, poppy seed). I’ll add fresh fruit if I have it on hand. I like to deliver this meal because it is unique and it can be served any time of the day.

Here is my breakfast casserole recipe.

24-Hour Omelet

  • 6-7 slices of bread, crustless and cubed
  • 1 lb. chopped ham (or sausage, browned and drained)
  • 1 c. grated cheddar cheese
  • 6 beaten eggs
  • 2 c. milk
  • 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 c. butter

Mix all ingredients except butter, and pour in 9×12 pan. Melt butter and pour over the top. Cover and refrigerate overnight (or at least 6 hours). Bake uncovered at 325 for 1 hour. (I sometimes need to bake it longer to get a browner top.)

Red-Taped Bananas

At my grocery store, they are called red-taped bananas. Bunches and bunches of perfectly fine bananas (sometimes even organic!) with red tape around them… signaling to me that they are only 39 cents a pound! For the past several months, these are the only bananas I have purchased, saving us a bundle since we go through a lot of bananas!

On the day that I buy them, and maybe even for the next day or two, we eat them fresh.

  • whole for breakfast or a snack
  • sliced on cereal
  • sliced with strawberries and whipped cream for dessert
  • smooshed up in pancakes
  • sliced in yogurt
  • smooshed up in homemade banana ice cream – YUM

After the first day or two I peel them, break them into about three pieces, and freeze them in containers. They keep their fresh “color” unless they are allowed to thaw. That’s when they turn brown and liquidy and perfect for baking! Here’s what we do with our frozen bananas:

  • My baby (can I still call a girl who now runs and climbs onto my table a baby?!?) loves frozen bananas in bite-size chunks
  • My older daughter also likes to eat them straight out of the freezer.
  • Smoothies — frozen bananas give us much thicker smoothies. We like that!
  • Muffins
  • Bread
  • Grandma’s banana cake with brown sugar icing… my favorite!

Bananas are such a versatile fruit. I use them nearly every day, and since I’m purchasing them for 39 cents per pound I’m getting a lot of banana for my buck! And wouldn’t I love to be Teresa… she gets her ripe bananas for TEN CENTS a pound. WOW!

For more kitchen tips, visit Tammy’s Recipes. I’d love to hear what you do with your bananas!