Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Cooking Up Some Good Fortune

New Year's Day Meal

Collard Greens seasoned with Ham

Black-Eyed Pea & Corn Salad

Sweet Potatoes with Brown Sugar & Cinnamon


Around our house growing up as in most Southern homes, you ate two things on New Year's Day - collard greens for an increase in wealth ($$$) and black-eyed peas for good luck. It's a tradition that I now carry on in my own home.

This year, I'm leaving the collard green cooking to my Momma. She's an expert in the matter and knows how to season them just right. Organic collard greens from Whole Foods, get ready to met nitrate-laden ham meat pieces from Kroger!

I'm handling the rest including the black-eyed peas. Black-eyed peas are so not my favorite! I probably only eat them one day of the year and that 's New Years. But I've found a way to fix them that makes them palatable. I basically use a recipe for corn salad (based on a recipe from the Williams - Sonoma Complete Entertaining Cookbook) and just add black-eyed peas. It's light and fresh (no thick, heavy bean juice) and helps to fulfill my New Years requirement.

Black-Eyed Pea & Corn Salad

Organic black eyed-peas - soaked overnight, drained and cooked. (If using canned, rinse thoroughly)

1 box of Green Giant boxed frozen corn with no sauce - prepared according to package directions

1-2 diced green peppers (the original recipe calls for one red, one green but we prefer green)

1-1/2 cups diced organic tomatoes

1 cup diced red onion

1/2 cup of olive oil

2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp ground cumin

3 tbsp red wine vinegar

chopped fresh cilantro

1. In a saute pan over medium heat, warm 1/4 cup of the oil and add onions. Saute a few minutes then add chili powder and cumin. Continue cooking for a minute longer.

2. In a large bowl, combine the black-eyed peas, corn, green peppers, tomatoes and cooked onions. Toss to mix. Add the cilantro, the remaining oil and vinegar. Toss well to combine.

Monday, December 29, 2008

All I Want For Christmas

Is my first black eye!?!

A fateful meeting between big brother's head and little brother's face while playing. Luckily Daddy was home to ice the little guy down. Momma was too busy freaking out and worrying about possible head trauma LOL! Certainly made for some memorable Christmas pictures.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Joy to the World!

The Lord Has Come!

Christmas blessings from our family to yours!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Santa Baby!

Hurry down the chimney tonight!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Holiday Merriment

I can't believe it's almost Christmas! Where has the time gone?!? We've been pretty busy around these parts! I wish I could say I'm all done with wrapping, but I can't! In fact, I had to do a little un-wrapping after I remembered it would probably be a good idea to check to see what batteries might be needed for a more joyous Christmas morning! But in the midst of it all, we've taken some time to have a little holiday fun!

The kids & I took the bread "butts" that had gathered in the kitchen (because no one will eat them) and made hanging bird seed ornaments. We used Christmas cookie cutters to cut them into holiday shapes, used a straw to make the hole, covered them in peanut butter and then rolled in bird seed. Reedy was much more interested in eating the peanut butter than crafting. And Clayton thought it was a bit incomplete without the jelly LOL! But I guess the squirrels didn't mind because the ornaments were gone before I had a chance to take a picture of them. And in true frugalicious fashion, I'm toasting the bread scraps from our cutting, to make breadcrumbs for the turkey meatballs for our Christmas Eve gathering!

We turned our attentions outward as we bought together food and personal care items from our pantry to donate to a local rescue mission. Most of the items pictured were free after coupons. It's great that couponing not only allows me to help our family but in turn bless others!

For Ashleigh's teachers, we put together gifts of Apple Cinnamon Spice herbal tea and homemade whole wheat honey graham crackers (recipe from Heavenly Homemakers). We prettied up our stockpile gift by using a plain bags from Michael's craft store (using 20% coupon), red, felt star ornaments from Dollar Tree and raffia (found a huge bag at a church yardsale for .25).

Over the weekend, we drove around town and looked at Christmas lights while sipping chocolate mint milk from Target (I love that stuff!) and listening to my fav Martina McBride Christmas CD. We only got slightly lost wandering down side streets - thank goodness for GPS! When we got home, we took more of the whole wheat honey graham crackers along with homemade marshmallows (recipe from The Homespun Heart) and chocolate chips and made smores - yummy!

Now, I'm off to do more wrapping, cleaning and cooking before the in-laws arrive tomorrow!

Monday, December 22, 2008

What child is this, who, laid to rest
On Mary's lap, is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?

This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring him praise,
The Babe, the Son of Mary!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ever Have One of Those Moments?

Originally posted 11/30/07 on my HCW blog

Where you're sitting at a red light and someone is there asking for a donation? It's an awkward sort of situation. Do you look and read their sign? Do you look around and try not to look at them? Fiddle around with things in the car, wishing the light would hurry up and change. I've done all of the above at times. I'd never even seen a panhandler in person until I moved here for college. Think small town girl moves to the big city. In college I was shopping at a little boutique across from campus and came upon man who seemed quite down on his luck, so I gave him $20. I felt really good about what I did until I told Dave (then my boyfriend). He chastised me about how silly it was to give money to someone on the streets, especially $20. I really did think the man would use the money for food. But according to Dave, $20 could buy alot of cheap booze.

Then you get older and you find out there are dishonest people out there. But today I had one of those moments. I had just left the Dollar Tree, where I had bought some Christmas decorations. Got to my car thinking I only had about $2 left to get lunch but discovered I had more in my wallet (don't you love when that happens!). As I go to leave the shopping center I just miss the green light. I see a man standing there with a sign. I wasn't going to look, but I did. With his round face and graying beard, he almost looked like Santa Claus. But there was something about him that just made me know him. I know that makes no sense because I don't know him personally. But he seemed familiar in a way. I looked away, looked at the light, looked at the car in front of me, then went for my purse. There was just something placed on my heart that made giving to him feel like it was the right thing to do. I rolled down the window and stuck out my hand. He walked slowly over to my car and thanked me. I told him to have a good day and I drove away as the light changed.

I'm not sure what made me do that today. It's not like I had alot and what I did give him probably won't be the answer to all his problems. But I think it was knowing that I was okay, that God has provided for me already. That I would eat today, that my pantry was stocked, that I would be warm, that those I love will be taken care of today. But I didn't know if that man could say the same.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - December 15th

Our dinner menu plan for the week...

Saturday - Smoked sausage, potatoes & beans (I've been subbing lima beans for the green beans - delicious change!)

Sunday - Dave & I picked up dinner on our way back from a fun afternoon of Christmas shopping alone!

Monday - My Veggie Lo Mein

Tuesday - Marinated London Broil with organic brown rice & steamed snap peas

Wednesday - Lentil Chili & cornbread

Thursday - Tortilla Soup

Friday - Homemade Chicken Pot Pie (subbing chicken for the turkey in the recipe of course!)

Menu Plan Monday is hosted by Laura at I'm An Organizing Junkie.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Super Savings Saturday

My grocery deals from this week...


1/2 gallon NP organic milk (sale 2.56)
7 Daisy sour creams (FREE! sale 1.00 - .50/1Q doubled)
3 Celestial Seasoning teas (sale 1.00 - .55/1Q)
2 Fleischmann yeast strips 3ct (FREE after catalina! sale 1.00 - .45/1Q doubled = .10 ea; received (2) .50 OYNO cats)
2 Honey Nut cheerios cereals
2 Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereals (sale 4/12 - 1/3Q)
4lb bag organic navel oranges
3lbs organic bananas (sale .61/lb)
1 Eggland's Best eggs (2.59 - .35/1Q doubled)
1 celery bunch (sale 1.00)

Less $4 General Mills cereal promo

Total oop: $20.28
Total savings: $33.11

Harris Teeter (combined trips):

10 Martha White corn muffin mixes (FREE! .50 ea - .55/2Q doubled)
4 Pounce cat treats (FREE! sale 1.00 - .75/1 Q doubled)
2 Smart Balance popcorn (sale 1.49 ea - .50/1 Q doubled)
1 box Knox Gelatin
2 Mission tortilla strips (sale BOGO)
1 green bell pepper (sale .99)
1 Arnold's Natural bread (2.79 - .55/1Q doubled)
1 Nancy's Party spirals (sale 6.99 - $3 e-Vic special)
4 Green Giant frozen corn (sale 1.00 ea - .50/2Q doubled)
2 Green Giant frozen sweet peas (sale 1.00 ea - .50/2Q doubled)
6 Green Giant frozen lima beans (sale 1.00 ea - .50/2Q doubled)
3 Kraft singles (sale 2.00 ea)
2 Beech Nut yogurt juice blends (FREE! sale 1.00 ea - .75/1 Q doubled)
3 gallons HT Organic milk (sale 4.99 ea)

Less $3 Kraft promo

Total oop: $36.95
Total savings: $59.97

Lowes Foods:

3 cans Del Monte 50% less salt corn (sale .67 ea - .30/1 Q doubled)
1 Karo light corn syrup (sale 2.49 - .40/1Q doubled)
1 Smart Balance oil (2.95 - .50/1Q doubled)

Total oop: $3.96
Total savings: $5.92

Plus a trip to Costco for a box of pull-ups --> $30.84

Total oop: $92.03
Total savings: $99.00

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Looking Back...

Christmas 2004

Christmas 2005

Christmas 2006

Christmas 2007

Christmas 2008

My how they've grown!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Menu Plan (not quite Monday)

Our Menu for the week...

Saturday - Dave & I enjoyed a five course meal at the Washington Duke Inn (company Christmas party). Filet Mignon was our main course.

Sunday - Take & Bake Pepperoni pizza and Caesar Salad from Costco as we enjoyed a great afternoon with Dave's Mom! The kids loved the train she bought them to place around our main Christmas tree.

Monday - Beef Stew & cornbread

Tuesday - Baked Potatoes with toppings & steamed broccoli

Wednesday - Creamed tuna over whole wheat pasta & steamed green peas

Thursday - Crockpot Chicken with mushroom gravy, organic brown rice & steamed snap peas

Friday - Taco Style Lentils & Rice served in hard taco shells with all the fixings!

What I bought last week...


8lb bag potatoes (sale 3.50)
bag organic tangerines (sale 3.50)
5lb bag organic whole carrots (sale 3.50)
3 gallons Horizon organic milk (markdown $4.69/gal)

Total oop: $25.06
Total savings: $7.47 (doesn't include savings on milk)

Lowes Foods:

2 LF toilet paper (sale BOGO)
1 Dixie Crystals brown sugar 2lb bag (sale 1.50 - .30/1Q doubled)
2 pints blueberries (sale BOGO)
2lb cabbage (sale .39/lb)

Total oop: $8.85
Total savings: $8.59

Harris Teeter (multiple trips - combined):

15 Juicy Juice (sale B2G3F!)
12 Martha White corn muffin mix (FREE! .50 ea - .55/2Q doubled)
3 cans Veg All (sale .75 ea - .35/1Q doubled)
3 packs Perdue boneless, skinless chicken breasts (sale B1G2F!)
2 Ziploc EZ zipper bags (sale 1.69 ea - .55/1Q doubled)
1 Huggies Pull Ups mega pack (sale 13.99 - 2/1Q)
1 Progresso chicken broth (sale 1.84 - 1/1Q)
1 Wacky Mac veggie spirals (sale .79 - .50/1Q DND)
2 Angus London broil (sale BOGO!)
3 packs Angus Stew Meat (sale BOGO!)
1 Bounty paper towels 9pk (sale 6.99)
1 Arnold Soft Natural bread (sale 1.99 - .55/1Q doubled)

Total oop: $47.68
Total savings: $107.88

Total oop: $81.59
Total savings: $123.94!

Menu Plan Monday is hosted by Laura at I'm An Organizing Junkie.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Seasonal Decorating (On the Cheap!)

Our path to financial freedom has brought many blessings to our life. For me one of them has been discovering the world of frugality. Cutting out unnecessary and unplanned spending has really challenged my sense of creativity! It's easy to go out and buy something that looks all perfect and Martha Stewart-like. But it's much more fun (and budget friendly!) to craft something on your own using what you already have. The sense of accomplishment when it actually looks good - priceless! And then you can post it on your blog and brag about it like I'm about to do now!

For Thanksgiving, I wanted to create a nice, seasonal centerpiece. So the kids & I gathered leaves, pine cones and berries from our yard. I dug out a plate candle holder and polished rocks from my Asian design phase. Added a large vanilla candle and raffia (on clearance for .62 a bag!) from Big Lots and viola!

I took some of the extra leaves and raffia and made chair swags.

And now that the Christmas season is upon us, I replaced the leaves with extra Christmas bulbs, added my "no tag, name your price" reindeer from last year's Target after Christmas clearance sale and my centerpiece has been transformed from Autumn to Winter!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Deck the Halls

And the foyer, the living room, the dining room, the kitchen, the family room, the sun room, the upstairs walk way and the upstairs bath!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - December 1st

Hope everyone had a restful and enjoyable Thanksgiving weekend! Our simple Thanksgiving feast was just absolutely delicious! I've been preparing my own Thanksgiving turkey for as long as we've been married - 8 years. But this year, was the best thus far! Putting fresh sage & thyme underneath the breast skin just added something special and made for great leftovers like Turkey Pot Pie from $5 Dinners - yummy!

Saturday - Autumn Chowder

Sunday - Turkey Pot Pie (for the veggies, I used a can of Veg All and steamed asparagus tips)

Monday - Family Dinner Night at CiCi's Pizza benefiting Ashleigh's school

Tuesday - Dirty Rice with fresh ingredients & corn bread

Wednesday - Soup Night a la Muir Glen Organic Chicken Noodle Soup :)

Thursday - Smoked Sausage, Green Beans & Potatoes

Friday - My Veggie Lo Mein

Menu Plan Monday is hosted by Laura at I'm An Organizing Junkie.