Thursday, July 30, 2009

Frugal Friday - clothing swap

I'm sharing this week one of the best ideas I think I've ever heard. My church is hosting a Clothing Swap! We did it at Christmastime too, but this one is, of course, meant to be in time for back-to-school.

Over the years, with my big boys, I've consigned, I've donated to Goodwill, and so on. But I love the Clothing Swap because I can pass along a good-but-not-perfect item to someone who can use it. I can't consign an item if it has a flaw - even if it's still in good shape, and even if the flaw is very minor - they won't take it. But my boys would still wear it if it fit them! So... with the Clothing Swap, someone who might use it has access to it. And I can find gently used jeans for this boy who has legs like Stretch Armstrong.

Here's how we organized this event:
Items are collected for about two weeks, and then sorted for the swap. Times are posted for daytime 'shopping' and evening 'shopping' so that everyone has the opportunity to look for clothing. No underwear or household items are accepted. Everything that is left at the end of the swap is donated to charity. You get to clean out the closets and everyone is happy!

What's your Frugal Friday tip?
Share here.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Works for Me Wednesday - the wisdom of moms

One of the things I have discovered with blogging is that there is a wealth of information available when you network with other moms. I have learned amazing coupon skills and gained knowledge about budgeting. I have found ways to earn money and points that I would never have known about otherwise. Thanks, Moms!
This week, I'd like to call upon some of that wisdom. I need to know about experiences any of you may have had with thyroid issues. I'm facing some things right now and will be making a decision about surgery, and I want to hear your experiences. I've heard it said that if you have to have something go wrong in your body, the thyroid is the easiest to fix. However, when it's in YOUR body, it's hardly ever a minor thing!! Please share, and help me make an informed decision. Tell me all about your thyroid experiences - whether or not they involved surgery. I'll share more details if you'd like - let me know - but I'd really appreciate your wisdom in this.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Tempt My Tummy Tuesday - a tried and true fave

This week's Tempt My Tummy Tuesday is about menu planning - a subject that is near and dear to my heart. The recipe I want to share is a family favorite - it is always well received and there are never any leftovers!

Marinated Flank Steak

**the recipe calls for 1/2 c oil for the marinade, but I always omit it and it has never failed me**
  • 1/4 c sherry
  • 1/4 c soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 crushed clove of garlic
  • 1 flank steak, about 1 - 1.5 lbs.

Combine all ingredients in a resealable bag. Allow to marinate overnight (at least - I have let it go for 2 days). Grill over medium coals for about 8 minutes per side, depending on desired doneness. You can also broil this in the oven for about 6 minutes per side.

I serve this with mashed potatoes, a tossed salad, and fried okra if my big boys are home. It is their favorite.

One of the things I love most about this recipe is that if I find a flank steak in the reduced meats at the grocery store, I can bring it home, toss it in this marinade, and then into the freezer. Then, when we decide to eat it, I take it from the freezer and leave it in the fridge to defrost. SOOOOOOOO easy.

Share your temptations at Lisa's!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

July's last Monday.... and the Menu.

We did a really good job of following last week's menu. Yea us! Unfortunately, ds#3 came down with a middle ear infection so his appetite was less than stellar, but he seems to be perking up. The cookout for Marine Son's friends was a success, and the leftovers will make an appearance on this week's menu.

Sunday~ Out to eat for Grandpa's birthday. Too full for anything else after that!
Monday~ Leftovers from cookout: burgers, dogs, & sausages.
Tuesday~ Sandwiches & chips
Wednesday~ Hubby & Marine Son out to eat, so I just may treat ds#3 to dinner & a movie (he's been wanting to see G Force)
Thursday~ Family Dinner at Olive Garden
Friday~ Mom is going scrapbooking, so hubby & ds#3 will fend for themselves.
Saturday~ Steaks on the grill, cucumber salad (from the garden), broccoli, twice baked potatoes (from the freezer)
What's cookin' at your house?
Share at Laura's.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Frugal Friday!

I've been on the hunt for a local source of beef and I've found one! We paid a visit to this farm last weekend and were sold immediately. It's about 20 minutes from our house, and we saw firsthand how things are run. Ds#3 went all around with the owner's son and they fed turkeys, chickens, horses, goats, and collected eggs. How much fun could a little boy have?? He loved it, and hubby picked the owner's brain for taking care of our garden. We'll be buying eggs and beef, and perhaps veggies (we've not decided about that yet - we usually grow the ones we like). So I am happy with this find because it's frugal, it supports local farmers, and it is healthy for my family. If you would like to research what's available in your area, visit Local Harvest.
Share your frugal ideas here!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Tempt My Tummy Tuesday - tomatoes!

This week, I'm going to share a creation that *I* came up with all by myself!

We have tons of tomatoes from our garden; I've made tomato/spaghetti sauce and we have them on sandwiches & salads, and still there are MORE.
So I needed an appetizer-ish thing to serve my family on Sunday while we were ravenously waiting for the chicken to grill, and I came up with this little number.

Roasted Tomato Dip

  • Tomatoes (I used grape but this method would work with any kind)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Toss tomatoes with olive oil, salt & pepper (I used about 1 tablespoon oil). Spread on baking sheet lined and roast at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes. Remove tomatoes from oven, toss with 4-5 leaves of fresh basil and 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar. (You can pulse this in a food processor for a smoother consistency.)

  • 4 ounces cream cheese (any variety will work)
  • 2 Tbsp Parmesan (the stuff in the can is fine, but fresh is good too)
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning

In a bowl, combine 4 ounces cream cheese, 2 Tbsp parmesan, 1 tsp Italian seasoning. Spread in serving dish and top with tomato mixture. Serve with french bread, cucumbers, or any other veggies you like. You can serve this dip warm or room temperature.

Hope you like it - my family ate it ALL.
Share your temptations at Lisa's!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

What a week. I had a migraine all week long. All week. YUCKO. This week should be better. So here's the menu:
Sunday~ ds#3 was baptized, so we invited the family over to celebrate. Chicken, sausage & hotdogs on the grill, rice, corn on the cob, cucumber salad, biscuits & cornbread. Cake & ice cream for dessert.
Monday~ Bourbon chicken (which has no bourbon), leftover rice and leftover cucumber salad.
Tuesday~ Chili with macaroni or baked potato.
Wednesday~ Roast in the crock pot with pearl onions & mushrooms, mashed potatoes & gravy, Caesar salad, biscuits.
Thursday~ Breakfast for Dinner.
Friday~ Must-goes (I am sure there will be some. If not, BLTs.)
Saturday~ Marine son will be home for the last time before his deployment. We will have a huge party for his friends, so we'll be cooking burgers on the grill for about 40.
Share your menu or get some inspiration at Laura's!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Frugal Friday!

This is my first Frugal Friday post in a L-O-N-G time.
But there are always lots of good tips and tons of inspiration!

Before I share, let me give a little explanation.

We have 3 boys. Yes, three. Boys.

However, two of those boys are out of the house and in the military. In fact, the oldest is scheduled to deploy in about 2 weeks.

Last summer, my youngest son & I were home alone all day for the first time. Because as anyone who has children knows, when they get to a certain age, you get yours, plus all their buddies. And when they start to drive, they can all drive to your house. And hang out, and play Halo, and eat you out of house and home.

And then they grow up.

So Little Man & I had to adjust to a much quieter house, and much boredom ensued.

This year, I was more prepared, and had explored many, many free (or inexpensive) activities to pursue, and yesterday was our first foray into one of those...
Now I realize that many of you have sung the praises of the Public Library for a long time, but I had not formerly realized the treasure trove it could be. My son LOVES to read, and Barnes & Noble gets expensive. So we went to our nearest branch. We both got Library Cards, and off we went. They actually had a children's activity too yesterday, but ds#3 decided it was wayyyy too loud and there were too many 4 & 5 year olds to suit his tastes (he is, after all, EIGHT...) so we stuck with checking out books and movies. And he is thrilled that we can go back now and check out FIFTEEN items if we so choose. I mean, FIFTEEN! How lucky can a kid get????

So that's my Frugal Friday tip - go to your local library! Check it out! If they don't have what you want at your branch, talk to them about getting it from another library. And let your kids read, and wonder that there can be so many books about so many interesting things all in one spot. It'll make you proud to be a mom. ;)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Works For Me Wednesday

FREE MOVIES definitely work for me. I have read in several spots about movie theatres that offer free movies during the summer, but it's always a chain that we don't have in my area. Well, I did some research. Guess what??? I found one!!!! Rave Motion Pictures shows free movies every Tuesday & Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. Air conditioning (which is always a plus when the temps are 90+ and humidity is 90 - 100%), comfy seats, minimal $ spent on concessions. Wonderful if you don't mind the occasional toddler walking by to see what you're up to! We saw "Space Chimps" yesterday - a movie that ds#3 & I saw advertised last summer, but never got to go. It was cute - well suited toward a summertime kid audience. He was delighted and I had one more thing to entertain him - good for every mom. :)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Blueberries... ahh.... Summer!

At the end of last week, we went blueberry picking. Our local Publix had bluerries on sale 3 pints/$5, but we could pick them for $1/lb. I'll let you do that math. :)
So we brought the berries home, and I sorted them and picked off the leaves and stems, etc., laid them out on a cookie sheet, and froze some. After they were hardened, I put them in freezer bags. This way, I can get out as much as I want and they won't clump together.

And I am making this recipe:
(the blackberries came from my yard)
Blueberry and Blackberry Galette with Cornmeal Crust (from Cooking Light)


  • Pastry:
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (about 7 3/4 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup fat-free buttermilk

  • Filling:
  • 4 cups blueberries
  • 2 cups blackberries
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons fat-free milk
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons turbinado sugar


1. To prepare pastry, lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients (through salt) in a food processor; pulse two times. Add butter to flour mixture; pulse 4 to 5 times or until mixture resembles coarse meal. With processor on, slowly add buttermilk through food chute; process just until dough forms a ball. Gently press dough into a 4-inch circle on plastic wrap; cover. Chill 30 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 350°.

3. Unwrap and place dough on a sheet of parchment paper. Roll dough into a 15-inch circle. Place dough and parchment on a baking sheet.

4. To prepare filling, combine berries and next 3 ingredients (through juice) in a medium bowl; toss gently to coat. Arrange berry mixture in center of dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Fold edges of dough toward center, pressing gently to seal (dough will only partially cover berry mixture).

5. Combine fat-free milk and egg white in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Brush dough with milk mixture; sprinkle turbinado sugar evenly over dough. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until pastry is golden brown. Let stand 30 minutes; cut into wedges.

Share your temptations here!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

It's Monday, and you know what that means...

... it's time for the MENU!!!!
But first, let's review last week.
We followed the menu relatively well. Lime chicken - think I'll make this one again. Use a tad less mustard - hubby said that was the flavor he tasted the most. But ahhhhh... that lime... it smelled divine. (And it was SUPER easy because I made it in the crock pot.)
Instead of having breakfast for dinner, we actually had a 'veggie plate' with produce that had either been given to us, or came from our garden. I made some rice and some cornbread, and we had cucumbers & tomatoes, corn on the cob, fried okra (okra was given to us). And it was yummy. My carnivorous husband said he did not even miss the meat. :)

This week, said hubby will be at an in-town workshop that will have him away from home at lunch and most dinnertimes. So I'm planning for ds #3 and me, with the chance that Dad may be home for dinner - or want something when he comes home late.

tacos (hubby's request)
dinner: FFYS for ds & me
chicken tenders, broccoli, twice baked potatoes
dinner: chicken with pesto (make extra pasta for Tuesday's lunch), tossed salad
bowtie pasta (add veggies for Mom)
dinner: Taco salad (use leftovers from Sunday)
frozen pizza
dinner: BLTs & chips (that we never had last week)
dinner: sticky chicken (I use bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts), mashed potatoes, cucumber salad (my grandfather's recipe, which is a lot like the link here)
lunch: sandwiches & chips
dinner: hubby will be home, so probably his fave - roast in the crock pot with mashed potatoes!
- we may visit a local farm as I have been hunting for a source of local beef.

What's cookin' at your house?
Share at Menu Plan Monday.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Works for me Wednesday - Summer Tips

It's been a while since I've joined Works For Me Wednesday, but they're always full of great ideas!
My summer tip has to do with the 4th of July. I know it's over, but it worked so beautifully that I feel the need to share.
Our tradition is to attend our city's annual fireworks display downtown. It is always very crowded, so it is necessary to arrive early to get a decent spot. Translation: KIDS GET BORED BEFORE THE SHOW STARTS. So this year, I came up with an ingenious solution: bubbles. Yes! We've done sparklers (they last about 5 minutes) and snacks (5 more minutes) so you've got at least an hour to go. You can chase bubbles everywhere, and have contests to see who can blow the biggest, and even bat them with light sabers that Mimi (grandmother) bought for the boys. I don't know why I never thought of this before, but let me tell you - it was a thing of beauty to see it work.
(Picture of said lightsabers, my son on left, and nephew on right)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Tempt My Tummy Tuesday - Triple Chocolate Cookies!

This is my first week participating in Tempt My Tummy Tuesday.
I'm baking Triple Chocolate Cookies this week - a recipe from Ellie Krieger. I use a small scoop to measure out the batter, so they're all uniform, and so I know how many calories I'm eating when I have one! I like most of Ellie's recipes because she incorporates healthier ingredients into dishes that my family will still eat. And these cookies?? Look out - they may become your new favorite.

**I have used egg substitute in place of the egg and it has worked fine. I have also used Splenda in place of granulated sugar with success. But I don't recommend changing both at the same time. It's a texture thing. **


  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, optional
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate (2 ounces) coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup milk chocolate (2 ounces) coarsely chopped
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans, optional


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, mash together the butter and sugars with a fork until well combined. Add the oil and egg and beat until creamy. Mix in the vanilla.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, cocoa powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well. Stir in the dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and the pecans and mix well. Using a tablespoon, scoop the batter onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes. Transfer cookies to a cooling rack to cool.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

July Menu Plan Monday!

Last week's menu went surprisingly well. There were a couple of trips out to eat at lunchtime, which I expected and planned for, so no big shockers there. Dinners also went pretty much as planned. Amazing!

This week, Marine Son returns to base, so I am thinking we'll need a pick-me-up on the day he leaves. Might plan a special activity that day to keep us busy. Got any suggestions??

Sunday~BBQ pork sandwiches (meat in the freezer), potato salad, corn on the cob, seven layer salad, and baked beans (all leftovers from the 4th), strawberry shortcake for dessert. Yum!
Monday~Lime chicken (a new recipe - can't wait to see how it comes out!), rice, cucumber salad, honey wheat popovers
Tuesday~ Local baseball game at Marine Son's request. Will eat at the ball park.
Wednesday~ BLTs & chips or breakfast for dinner
Thursday~ Marinated flank steak (I leave out the oil), twice baked potatoes, sliced tomatoes from the garden, and green salad
Friday~ A pasta recipe loosely based on this one from Cooking Light (I use tomatoes and herbs from our garden), tossed salad, and garlic bread
Saturday~ Something from the grill!

I'll also be baking these YUMMY triple chocolate cookies from Ellie Krieger.